Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Side Effects

This really is efficient: I placed an order for Baby-Markt on Monday at 1:37pm and the products were delivered to our front door today (on Wednesday) at 12:49pm. So, now we have the potty and the scarf.

But ordering a lot of things online has some side effects: your DHL delivery guy gets to know you!

When we moved to Wiesbaden, I ordered quite many things for our unborn baby. The same DHL guy delivered all those products. He, naturally, noticed my big belly and always asked, when the baby was due. And now he always remembers to ask about the baby. Like today: "Ist das Baby gut? Schläft sie? Ist sie ein Jahr jetzt?"

At the beginning of our 'relationship', he asked where we came from. I told we were from Finland, but for some reason he remembered it wrong. Once he popped in at the same time as our Hebamme. Outside, he had asked the Hebamme, is she was coming to visit the family from Australia... Maybe he just thought we were from some faraway country ;)

Well, the next time he delivered something, he asked: "Finnland, ha? Eurovision? Kennen Sie dass?" At the same time he made some movements with his hands indicating playing the violin. I'm not sure what he meant, maybe he remembered that Lordi had won the Eurovision Song Contest a couple of year ago.

Since the first of our 'meetings', the same pattern has been repeated. Our last name brings to his mind a song by The Beatles. So, every time I open the door for him, he sings a part of that song and asks "The Beatles, ha, kennen Sie dass?". Then he asks something about the baby and leaves.

And I'm always left smiling. Partly because I have received some shopping. But partly because he is always in such a good mood. "The Beatles, ha?"

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Drizzly And Grizzled

What a grey day it has been.

All this low pressure and playing inside pulls down the spirits of even the sprightliest little girl.

It is difficult to remember that yesterday was such a brisk autumn day.

Shopping of the Week

I have had some great opportunities to spend time with my favorite hobby this week.

Here is what I have bought (and saved) this week - online, of course.
Somehow these all seem to be for my daughter...

- Maxi Cosi PrioriFix car seat (discount 39%)
- Snowman pictures for window (free gift when ordering from myToys)
- Baby Björn potty (discount 15%)
- Spiegelburg scarf (no savings, but it was just so cute. And there were no delivery costs, as I bought it with the potty)
- Emile et Rose jacket + beret (discount 43%, see the link only for the look of the product. I actually bought it from Limango, but they only sell certain product for a couple of days, so the link wouldn't work for long)

And it is only Tuesday afternoon...

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Cow on a Balcony

I'm not sure, if this should be a part of series 'Attractions in Wiesbaden' or 'Odd German Way'.

Without any label, let me introduce:

A Cow on a Balcony

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Keeping Warm

Most of my readers might say that the subject of this post should be "The Odd Finnish Way". But for Finns, there is nothing odd about this.

98% of Finnish babies take their nap outside (I have read this somewhere, but cannot remember the source). I know that some might think it is not healthy for the baby or that it is dangerous, as someone could steal the baby, but that how it is done in Finland. The main purpose is that baby sleeps better and longer in fresh air. In Finland, the recommended temperature limit for sleeping outside is -10°C. If the baby is born in winter, it is recommended to wait for a couple of weeks before putting her outside to sleep, and then starting with shorter periods.

When we were looking for an apartment in Wiesbaden, one of our main criteria - in addition to the 'Einbauküche' - was to have a peaceful balcony for the baby to sleep in. With the exception of about one month last spring, when my daughter wanted to fall asleep beside me, she has taken her naps outside, first in her pram and now in her push-chair. Luckily, our neighbors haven't called the child protection authorities...

Now it is getting colder again, so I need to make sure she is dressed warmly for her naps. Here are some of the warm clothes I have found nice:

Swedish Shepherd bootees made of real sheepskin

Finnish Kivat woolen hood
(a gift from our daughter's godparents)

Finnish Kaino woolen overall

Woolen mittens and socks,
knitted by my daughter's great-grandmother with
 Austermann Step yarn

All the warm clothes on...

... and then to the balcony with Bugaboo footmuff and mosquito net (no mosquitos here, but bees, birds and squirrels...).

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Finding the Christmas Spirit

I must warn you: this is embarrassing. But I'll tell you anyway.

The Christmas Markets have been open for many days, but I haven't visited them until today.

And it gets worse: I didn't visit the local market here in Wiesbaden, but the one in Frankfurt.

I promise, I'll visit the Wiesbaden market as soon as possible and tell you all about it. But in the mean time, here are some photos from Frankfurt.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Devoted Hausfrau (Or Not)

My husband loves the Kellogg's All Bran breakfast cereals and he used to eat those for breakfast daily when we still lived in Finland. They don't sell those regular ones in our local Rewe grocery store, but only ones with something with them, like apple. When the Finnish Fathers Day was approaching, I thought I would find him his favorite cereals.

On the Kellogg's web site, I found out that All Bran Flakes are sold in an Edeka store, which can be found in Sonnenberg part of Wiesbaden. On Friday before the Fathers Day, I drove with my daughter to Sonnenberg. But as it was early Friday evening, I couldn't find any place to park my car. After cruising around for twenty minutes, I gave up. (Not so devoted Hausfrau, I might add. If I were, I would have parked the car in the city center and walked the couple of kilometers to the store with my daughter in her push-chair.)

Yesterday I thought I would have another try. We drove back to Sonnenberg and found a place to park quite easily. We went into the Edeka store, which was right by the parking area. But it turned out to be a drink store, which - funnily enough - sold also pet food, but not any breakfast cereals.
Edeka Wein & Getränke (and pet food)
The well-hidden real Edeka store

After looking around the parking lot a bit more, I noticed the real Edeka. At this point, I should have known that there wouldn't be the right breakfast cereals in the store, not after all that trouble. And there wasn't. All I learnt was that All Bran Regular is totally different product from Dayvita All Bran Flakes... The first is what I was looking for, the latter what they had in the store. And if you are wondering about the difference: the latter has yoghurt flakes mixed with the regular ones. Those they sell in Germany. The plain flakes they don't.

So, I bought the yoghurt ones, even though I think they sell those in our local Rewe, too. If, and I emphasize the IF, I were a devoted Hausfrau, I would now open the box and separate the regular flakes from the yogurt flakes. But I guess I'm not and I'll do what I always do: go shopping online. But it isn't as easy as one could think. As the All Bran Regular isn't sold in Germany at all, they cannot be found in any online store, either. I only found them in one Swiss online store (because those are sold in Switzerland!), but they do not deliver abroad.

Yes, I know, I know, my husband has managed well without these breakfast cereals for over a year now (well, he eats those whenever he travels to Finland), so I guess he'll manage without them in future, too. But I must admit, this has become a bit of an obsession for me. And it is so difficult for me to admit that there is something I cannot (or it is much too expensive to) buy online!

Other things I haven't found in local stores and miss from Finland:
- Irish or British cider (please, tell me, if you know where to buy a bottle of Strongbow or any other brand in Wiesbaden!)
- Fazer chocolate
- Twinings Earl Grey Green Tea
- good, fresh fish
- frozen potato products other than French fries

and, like all Finns who live abroad, I must mention:
rye bread and
- salty liquorice

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Odd German Way No. 2 - Pack Up Your Kitchen!

When we were looking for an apartment in Wiesbaden, we browsed the Immobilienscout web page. In the search criteria, one of the options is 'Einbauküche'. I had heard rumors about it, but now I really understood: Germans take the kitchens with them when they move house!

In most of the apartments, also those to be rented, there is nothing in the kitchen. Well, 'nothing' might be an overstatement, as there are electric wires and pipes coming out of the walls and floor and there might even be a row of tiles on the walls. But there are no cabinets, no sink and certainly no household appliances.

As we didn't have the time or the possibility to start building a kitchen, we had to check the 'Einbauküche' option in Immobilienscout. This really narrows down the possibilities of apartments, as only about 40% has the 'Einbauküche'. We were going to rent a place and fortunately found one, in which the previous tenant was willing to sell us her kitchen. So, we bought the Ikea kitchen cabinets and dishwasher from her with reasonable price and had to go shopping only for fridge and stove.

Just like the kitchen cabinets, the Germans take all other cabinets with them as well. So, in an empty apartment there are usually no cabinets in the hall or in the bedrooms either. Some even take the parquet from the floors with them...

I can see the point, that this way you can get exactly the type of kitchen and storage space you need. But I cannot understand, how this can work in practice. If you are moving, you most probably are changing to different kind of apartment. How can the old kitchen fit into the new one? I cannot believe, that the kitchens are so similar, than you can just easily fit the old cabinets with a bit of fine-tuning. And if your new kitchen is bigger than the old one, do you just go shopping for extra cabinets? Doesn't it look weird, if most of the cabinets are ten years old and on the corner there is one new and shiny?

The odd German ways...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Playground Review Part 1: Wiesbaden Northwest

There are quite many playgrounds for children here in Wiesbaden. You can find information about some of them from Spielplatznet, but I thought I could do my own review from the perspective of a smaller child. As there are so many playgrounds, I will divide this review to geographical areas. I will start with the northwest part of the town (officially part of Wiesbaden Nordost, which I don't totally understand...), so I'll cover the playgrounds in Neroberg and Nerotal going from the valley upwards. The grading scale is from 0 to 5 cookies.


This really is a nice playground for small children! The playground is quite compact and the surroundings are peaceful.

There are following equipment on the playground:

- Jungle gym with slide

- Wide seesaw, nice for small children

- Tunnel

- Spring riders

- Sandpit, well, actually most of the other equipment are placed in sand, but you can easily make sand cakes there

- Climbing blocks

If there were also a swing or a roundabout, this playground would get five cookies. But as a positive addition to this playground, there is also a bond in the Nerotal park, where you can feed ducks.


On Dambachtal there is a small playground. It has the very basic equipment, and judging from the many layers of leaves on the ground, I think it is not on the city's maintenance list. However, this is very quiet and nice place for small children.
- Slide
- Sandpit, if you can find the sand under the leaves
- Spring rider
- Swings


There are two playgrounds on Tränkweg. The other one is placed by the intersection of Idsteiner Straße. When we went to visit the playground on review purposes, the city workers were blowing the leaves there. My daughter thought that was the most exciting thing there, although we weren't really able to test any equipment because of all the dust.

- Swings
- Sandpit
- Slide
I think there has been a jungle gym in this park before, but it was now gone. Although this playground is close to two roads, it is on the edge of the forest and therefore quite peaceful. A plus point for small children is that you can see a lot of dogs passing this playground. On the other hand, there are acorns in the ground, and those quite easily found their way to baby's mouth...


The other playground on Tränkweg is by the spring. The surroundings are peaceful, but the playground is more widely spread. Also most of the equipment are more suitable for older children. 

- Swings

- Spring riders

- Roundabout, where also the smallest children can spin by themselves

- Ditch for playing with water. This is the speciality of this playground, but a bit too dangerous for a one-year-old. And there is no bridge over the ditch, so if you want to move your buggy from the swings to the roundabout, you have to go by the road

- Jungle gym over the ditch, only for older children
- Sandpit
- Robe for sliding for older children


This playground gets only crumbs from me, because it is not designed for very small children. As it is like a Kletterwald for children, there is only a jungle gym. I guess this playground is great for children older than two years, but for someone who can barely walk, there isn't much to do. Unfortunately, I have only one photo, in which part of the playground equipment can be seen, but it is not worth it to climb all the way up there just to take a photo...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Attractions in Wiesbaden No. 3 - Russisch-Orthodoxe Kirche

The Christmas Market started today here in Wiesbaden. It was announced that to celebrate the opening, there would be fireworks at 6 pm. I assumed it would be very crowded downtown, so we drove to the Russisch-Orthodoxe Kirche, where there is a great view over the city, to watch the fireworks.

We were there a bit early, so I took some photos of the church in the night-time lighting. A couple of minutes before six we took seats by the view. But nothing happened. Not a single firework. At 6.15, I gave up and we drove back home. Just when I had undressed my daughter - yes, you guessed it - the sounds of the fireworks started. We have a great view from our balcony, but it is not directly to the city, so all we saw was some lights reflecting from the clouds.

But I don't want all that trouble be for nothing, so I'll take this opportunity to introduce you the Russisch-Orthodoxe Kirche or Griechische Kapelle as it is also known. It is one of those attractions, which you can find in Wiesbaden postcards. The church is located up on Neroberg, so it can be seen from far. It has golden onion-shaped domes, which shine beautifully when sun (or at night-time the artificial light) hits them.

in February


I won't get into the history in detail, because all my knowledge is based on Wikipedia, which you can study yourself. Let's just say that there was a 19-year-old Russian princess, death in childbirth and a grieving Duke.

Like with the Cuckoo Clock, it is also worth looking around the main attraction. There is a beautiful cemetery, which is the largest Russian Orthodox cemetery outside Russia. And the view over the city is quite amazing.

the view in October

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hausfrau's Identity

On our second day in Wiesbaden, in autumn 2010, we went to open German bank accounts. I was officially on summer vacation but would start my maternity leave in couple of days. However, I was still pretty much in 'work mode'.

In opening the bank accounts, the bank clerk filled the system database with our personal information. When he came to the part of my occupation, he looked at my baby-belly, and stated: "Hausfrau". I looked at him in confusion. Yes, I was going to be home for a while with the baby, but I didn't feel is was my 'occupation'.

Quite a big part of how I see myself has been built during the years in university and at work. So, this new 'job title' caused a bit of identity crisis for me. I had prepared myself on becoming a mother, but 'Hausfrau' indicated something else. In English, the term is quite similar, 'housewife', but in Finnish we say 'kotiäiti', literally 'home-mum'.

It has now been about 14 months since the incident in the bank. I have kind of adapted to this new role, although I still feel more familiar with the term 'home-mum' than with 'Hausfrau'. And if someone now asked for my occupation, I would still give the title of the job, which I have waiting for me back in Finland...

But I want to make something clear here. Even though I have struggled a bit with this Hausfrau identity, I in no means want to downplay this occupation! It just doesn't feel like 'me'. And I must acknowledge that it is great that in Germany this kind of occupation exists. In Finland, the bank clerk would have asked about my education or my 'real' employment, as being home would most likely be a temporary thing. Or if I hadn't had any job to go back to, he would probably had marked down 'unemployed'.

And being a Hausfrau is most certainly a full-time job!

Hausfrau and her baby exactly one year ago

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Energetic Guest

My mum is the kind of person who does not like to just sit down and relax. When my daughter is taking her nap, there must be something for my mother to do or she gets bored. Her favorite housework is cleaning the windows, but unfortunately it has been too cold for that. Therefore it is good that there is Ikea quite close here, and we can always use some extra space for storage.

Inspection of the finished product

Saturday, November 19, 2011