Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Encounters of an Expat Hausfrau

It is not easy to move to a new place and create new social networks. I have had to do this a couple of times. First, I moved to study in the capital of Finland, several hundreds of kilometers away from home. Then, few years after graduation, I moved again, this time together with Herr Welle.

But what usually makes it easier to adjust, are the groups you automatically fall in to. Like when you start the studies at the university in your twenties, there are a lot of similar people in similar situation. Not to mention all the partying... And when you move to work in another town, you meet all these new faces through your new job. I have been lucky to make some great friends during my studies and in my jobs!

But the start here in Wiesbaden hasn't been all that easy. First of all, there is the language problem. My Deutsch is not strong enough to just casually start chatting with someone. Secondly, there is the problem of being a Hausfrau. Fräulein was born about a month after we moved to Germany, so the first six months went by in a haze and without many contacts with the outside world.

Thankfully, I met the family of Herr Welle's colleague. They are also Finnish and their daughter is 10 months older than Fräulein. Through them, we also found the Finnish church in Frankfurt, which has some activities for families with small children. Last spring, we joined their music group and have been able to spend time with other Finnish families.

In the playroom of the Finnish church,
Fräulein has found some new toys and friends 
Although it is great to meet another Finns, it has bothered me that, due to my poor German, I'm not really able to connect with the locals. When we went to baby swimming, I spoke with the other mums in English. It was great to be able to do that, but quite often the general discussion turned into German and I was not able to follow.

But now I have reached some sort of turning point. Yesterday, Fräulein and I took part in a German playgroup! An hour and a half passed, and I didn't ask anyone 'Sprechen Sie Englisch?'. Although I might not have been very chatty, I managed to follow the conversations and even answer some questions in German. Yay!

I was quite exhausted afterwards and I do admit that my German was faaaaar from perfect, but it was a start. I do believe that it will get easier with some practice. Although I'm not sure what I am going to say there next Monday, as I have already used all the phrases I know in German: "Sie heißt XXX", "Sie ist fünfzehn Monate alt", "Wir kommen aus Finnland"...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Odd German Way No. 9 - The Daily Airing

The German apartments do not have ventilation. This means that you must open the windows for a while each day to let the fresh air in. Even when it is cold outside. But, I quote Cara's blog post, "Ten minutes of cold is worth not having the mold".

I once saw a German TV program about lousy tenants. One of the tenants had not done the airing in the apartment and the window frames and bathroom ceiling were covered in mold. The tenant said it was the house owners problem, but the house owner showed that all tenants had been provided with instruction sheets, where the daily airing procedures had been explained. So, even though we haven't been given any clear instructions, I have realized that it really is our duty to keep the air fresh and dry.  

"Exhaled 3742 times,  cooked 1 liter tee water, watered the plants,
slightly sneezed 3 times, washed 2 pairs of socks and
cried 1.6 minutes while peeling onions... hmm...
according to my calculation the window should be kept 2.5 cm open now for 4.3 minutes..."

Source: Passivhaus Institut

I have previously thought that tumble-dryers are useless, but now I have changed my mind. As the weather here is very moist, you cannot dry your laundry outside most of the time. And because of the lack of ventilation, it takes ages to dry it inside. Plus the air inside gets very moist.

The only thing helping in refreshing the air are the small ventilators/blowers in the bathrooms. Usually these work so that when you put the light on in the bathroom, also the ventilator starts. It helps to dry the air a bit when you take a shower, but it does not actually give any fresh air.

The fact that Fräulein takes her nap on the balcony, resolves the problem of airing for us. I always keep the balcony door open a crack while she is sleeping, so that I hear when she is waking up. I also keep the bathroom ventilator on and the door open so that the air circulates a bit. Although this isn't based on any complicated calculations, I hope it is enough...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Enjoying the Sun With Four-Footed Friends

Hey, what's that bright thing in the sky? Haven't seen that for a while! And blue sky as well!

Fräulein's naps are getting shorter. Even though it means that I don't have that much time to do anything on my own, like write the blog, it does mean that she is waking up earlier. That combined with the longer days and sunny weather leads to the possibility that we can go out when the sun is still up!

As Fräulein's favorite activity on the playground is sitting on a bench, I thought we could do something else. So, yesterday we drove to Fasanerie. As the drive takes only 10 minutes and there is no entrance fee, visit to Fasanerie is a nice way to spend time outdoors and it gives welcome change to our everyday routines.

Compared to our last visit, this time Fräulein was able to walk and explore things on her own. Thus we stayed only on the entrance area with the domestic animals.

Peeking into the area of rabbits and guinea pigs was Fräulein's favorite part of the visit.

There is also a playground in the Fasanerie, but it is more suitable for older children.

Today we will head to Königstein, where a new Finnish play/music group will be starting. That too will be a nice change to our routines!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Type Your Own Scrawls

The picture above was tweeted today by Frau Dietz. I thought it matched well with something I tried out yesterday.

Instead of writing several letters a day by hand, you can personalize the texts you write on your computer. On Your Fonts web site, you can create a font based on your handwriting!

And it is very easy. All you need is a printer, a scanner and a black marker (fine or medium thickness). You print out a form, fill it with your characters, scan the filled form and upload it to the web site.

Yesterday, they had a campaign day and I was able to test this service for free. Normally, the price for one form page is $9.95. But if you need some special characters, like 'ä' and 'ö', you need to upload second template for $5.00. You can view the fonts before you make a purchase.

My handwriting is quite irregular and, well, not very beautiful, so there won't be much use for my new fonts. But maybe someone with nice handwriting could use her own fonts for example to write a letter on computer then print it. But then again, you could just write your letters by hand...
Example text with my own font

It is not a great idea to use your own fonts in your blog either. Even though it would give a nice effect, web pages work so that the fonts are not embedded on the site, but they are 'picked up' from you computer. Thus only the fonts, which your computer and web browser 'know', are shown correctly. But you could, of course, create a PDF file (embedding the font) and then publish it on your web page or send via email.

Well, I guess the best purpose for this service is to have a bit of fun. And if you have a child who is knows how to write (or can at least copy the letters), it could be nice to create your own fonts from your child's handwriting. I must wait for a while before we can do this with Fräulein...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Outlet Shopping

On Saturday, we decided to visit Wertheim Village, which is quite large outlet shopping area south-east from Frankfurt.
About one third of the buildings of Wertheim Village are shown here

If only Herr Welle had gotten the idea a bit earlier, we could have driven there while Fräulein took her nap. But now we were able to leave only after she had woken up and eaten her lunch. The drive from Wiesbaden to Wertheim Village takes a bit over an hour. The stores close at 8 pm., so we had less than two hours to shop. Way too short time for this place!

The stores of the 'village' are placed along one shopping street

We visited Gant, Napapijri and Tommy Hilfiger, and I actually found something for myself from that last place!

Just as the stores were closing, I noticed a Steiff store and stopped by to buy something for my friend's newborn baby boy.

I hope we would have had a longer time to spend there, as there were quite good winter sales there on top of the outlet prices. But I will add this place to the list of 'Things To Do When My Mother Visits Us', so we will have one extra pair of eyes looking after Fräulein!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Finnish Evening

Tonight I'll stay up to see the returns of the Finnish presidential election (click *here* to learn about the candidates).

I'll watch the Finnish TV show live on Internet. To get into the right mood, I searched our cabinets for some Finnish products to enjoy. I try save some of that chocolate for the second round, if we will have one...

Addition at 10:15 pm
Here are the results of the first round (screenshot from Yle's TV show):

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Peek Into Our Bedroom

When Fräulein was born, I had planned that she would sleep in her own little bed in our bedroom. And that is how it mostly was. Although I quite often fell a sleep while breastfeeding her during the night and she ended up sleeping in our bed.

First day home.
Nowadays, she mostly sleeps through the night in her own bed, although she sometimes needs some help finding her pacifier. Her crib is placed so that I can easily reach to find the pacifier or, if that is not enough, try to settle her. Very often we both fall asleep so that my hand is inside her crib. And in the morning my back hurts...

Current arrangements
However, sometimes I'm not able to settle her in her own bed and must take her into ours. Then she will usually sleep well. But Herr Welle and I, we won't.

Why I'm telling you this? Yesterday I saw some great pictures in expatbabyadventures blog (the pictures are originally from How to be a dad blog). These describe so well the situation when Fräulein is sleeping in our bed, that I MUST share these. Especially the 'Jazz Hands' are soooooo familiar!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Damn Darkness

One could think that, as a Finn, I would be accustomed to the darkness.

Previously, I have actually quite liked the darkness. It hasn't bothered me, if there hasn't been snow in the winter, as I am not into winter sports (well, into ANY sports, for that matter...). The only reason I have wished for snow has been because then the drive to work and back would not have been so dark (one collision with a moose has been enough for me).

But with a child this - as so many other things - has changed. Damn darkness!

Whereas many families with small children are out on the playground before sunrise, our daily rhythm is a bit different. I won't go into details, but we are usually ready to go out around 4 or 5 pm. And it is getting dark by then.

For some reason, the playgrounds are not lit here, so there is no point visiting them after 5 pm. Fortunately, Fräulein is not very demanding with the outdoor activities, as her favorite thing on the playground is sitting on a bench. So, often we just go outside and walk back and forth on our quiet street.

On Sunday, we visited the Nerotal playground just when everyone else was heading home. 
Thankfully, the days are quickly getting longer. According to the timeanddate.com, sun sets about a minute and a half later each day! So, hopefully I will soon been able to publish the Part 2 of my Playground Reviews.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Even Better Blog!

I have noticed, that the posts in my blog cover mainly three types of things: mummy stuff, expat things and our city, Wiesbaden.

I guess that my readers are also mainly interested in one of these things, so I thought I'd make it easier to navigate in my blog. So, I have now created new pages, which you can find from the tabs above, under the picture of Fräulein the Cat.

For all of you interested in mummy and Hausfrau stuff, you'll find the links to those posts on 'Hausfrau Welle' page.

Links to posts covering our expat life can be found on 'Expat Welle' page.

And, obviously, on page 'Frau Welle's Wiesbaden', you can find the posts about our city.

But don't be alarmed, the old type of blog with all my posts can be still be found on page 'The Blog'.

I have also added a new 'About Frau Welle' page.

Please, enjoy!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Wide, Exciting World

There can be a lot of exciting new things on the playground for a 14-month-old.

Like sitting on a bench.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Odd German Way No. 8 - Prof. Dr. Dr.

As I have posted previously, here in Germany people are called Frau Something and Herr Other, and only very close friends and family members use the first names.

A bit similar type of oddity is the use of titles. The Germans LOVE their titles.

And if you have a title, you are also given some extra bit of appreciation. A Finnish friend of mine, who is 'Frau Dr.', said that the only place where she uses her title is in the German speaking countries when she wants good service. Great that all those studies weren't for nothing!

The Germans are sure to use their titles anywhere their name is mentioned. Even when registering yourself into an online shop, there is either a place for 'Anrede' or a list of several titles to choose from.

Registration on baby-walz.de web page, where you can choose both Herr/Frau and a title.
How would a Prof. Dr. Dr. register here?

The titles are mentioned also in the mailboxes. But I have been wondering, how the titles are mentioned, if there is more than one adult living there. Neither Herr Welle nor I have any titles worth mentioning to the postman (if I had, this blog would be called something like 'Frau Prof. Dr. Dr. Welle'...). But if we both put our titles to our mailbox, wouldn't it then sound twice as fancy?

These titles are mentioned by a mailbox of an office.
I didn't feel comfortable taking pictures of mailboxes in residential area...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Making a Difference - The Election of Finnish President

The election of the new President for Finland is now on. Although we live in Germany, we are still Finnish citizens and thus able (and obliged, I might add) to influence the political matters of our country of origin. The main election day of the first round in the presidential election is next week, but the advance voting outside Finland ends tomorrow. So, tomorrow we will drive to Finnish Honorary Consulate in Frankfurt and vote.

As this election is quite a big deal in Finland, I thought I would introduce the candidates to all my readers. This is not a political blogs, so I'll just keep this introduction very superficial and refer mainly to the tabloids.
(Please note, that I haven't made my selection based on these facts!)


The candidates in alphabetical order (all pictures borrowed from Wikipedia):

Paavo Arhinmäki (Left Alliance)

Current Minister for Culture and Sport, seems to prefer sport over culture.

Married the mother of his unborn child a week ago.

Has quite many tattoos, for example the logo of the sport club he supports.

One of his campaign adds has been made by an artist, who became popular because of killing a cat on an artistic video.

Eva Biaudet (Swedish People's Party)

The Finnish Ombudsman for Minorities

Nothing very striking about her.

The only headline of her in the tabloids was created, when she commented the differences between Timo Soini and herself in a TV show: 'I'm taller and you are bigger'.

Sari Essayah (Christian Democrats)

World Champion in race walking and Member of the European Parliament.

Known mainly of her career in sports. Has kept herself out of the tabloids.

Pekka Haavisto (Green League)

Member of Finnish Parliament.

Mainly in the tabloids due to his Ecuadorean husband (or what should I call him, registered partner?), who got a speeding ticket, but didn't first come clean about it.

In a test, did not recognize the picture of Russian president.

Paavo Lipponen (Social Democratic Party)

Former Prime Minister of Finland.

Also known as 'Moses'. Plain-spoken - many of his minimal comments are quoted time after time.

Declined to take part in a walking test arranged for presidential candidates.

Sauli Niinistö (National Coalition Party)

Former Minister and Speaker of the Finnish Parliament.

The biggest speculation in the tabloids is, if he will win on the first round of the election (gets more than 50% of votes) or on the second round.

Won the hearts of many Finns after his wife died in a car-crash in the mid 90s and when he was caught in the middle of the Tsunami in Thailand with his sons in 2004.

Known of his hobby of rollerblading.

Timo Soini (True Finns)

The leader and the face of True Finns party, which grew up to be the third biggest party in Finland in the parliamentary election one year ago (19.1% of votes, compared to only 4.1% of votes in 2007).

The party has been criticized of it's populism.

He is a practicing Catholic (very rare in Finland) and has made the headlines with his opinions of abortion, contraception and homosexual lifestyles.

Paavo Väyrynen (Centre Party)

A veteran politician of the Centre Party. Has held many Minister positions since 1970s.

Very self-confident. Has blamed media for example of loosing his place in the Parliament last spring and and not making it to the second round of the presidential election in 1994. Does not believe in the polls, as they do not show his 'true' popularity.

More popular than the man himself has been the coffee cup in his election material.


But do you know who is the current president of Finland?

During the parliamentary election last spring, a German lady said to me: 'I saw your President in the News. How great that she is so young, energetic and beautiful, unlike our Angela Merkel'. I was a bit puzzled, as our current president Tarja Halonen looks like this:

Later that day I realized that she must have talking about the Prime Minister we had at that time, Mari Kiviniemi!
(We had the discussion in English, but Prime Minister is caller Ministerpräsident in German - maybe that was what confused her.)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mummy Has Got a New Winter Jacket!

Yes, I've got it!
The biggest investment I've made on myself since Fräulein was born.

I have been looking for a new winter jacket for a couple of years now. All my jackets are old, but my Henri Lloyd's quilted jacket is still OK for warmer weather (plus degrees in Celsius) and I have a Tommy Hilfiger down jacket, which I can use when it gets below -10°C (I actually store it in Finland, because it is far more likely that the weather is that cold there and it takes half of a luggage, if you want to travel with it).

The last couple of winters in Finland have been so cold that I have managed the whole winter with the down jacket. But here in Germany, the typical winter temperature is around 0°C, so there definitely was a need for a new jacket!

Before Christmas, I saw a perfect Napapijri jacket at Peek & Cloppenburg. It was 25% off, but still too expensive for me (the income of a Hausfrau is not that great...). But last Saturday I saw those same jackets in Main-Taunus-Zentrum with 50% off. Unfortunately, they did not have those in my size, but I was told that those could be found in P&C Wiesbaden with the same discount. Great!

But then I fell ill. For the beginning of the week I have been waiting I could go and buy the jacket, but haven't been able to.

Yesterday I packed Fräulein into our car and drove to the city. Although it is normally a walking distance, I didn't want to risk my newly found health. And they still had those jackets at P&C!

Unfortunately, the brown ones were sold, so I had to settle with a black one. I originally liked the black better, but my friends, who where shopping with me when I first found the jacket, thought the brown suited me better. So now my friends must think that I am only writing this to justify my decision to buy a black jacket! But I had actually decided to buy it in brown, because there are so many black winter jackets out there that brown would be a nice change. So, Katri and Maija, this really is a true story!

Anyway, I am happy with my new jacket, and I'll soon get to use it as it is getting colder here next week (now it is about +8°C).

But I'd like to comment on the brand a bit. I have always found this Napapijri brand quite funny.
It sounds like it is Finnish, as the Finnish word Napapiiri means Artic Circle (note, that it is spelled a bit differently).
It looks like it is Norwegian, because of the flag in the logo.
But it is originally Italian.
Since 2004, it has been part of American VF Corporation (with e.g. Eastpal, Kipling and Timberland).
It is now based in Switzerland with VF International.
And my jacket is made in Moldova.
Global, right?