Reading “Dackel Franz sucht seinen Schwanz”

S has started protesting less when we speak German to her. Although, occasionally she does tell me to “stop talking that English,” “English” being her word for “language,” because she is an imperialist monster.

I’ve been slipping between translating her German books and simply reading the words on the page. Sometimes I get away with it, especially when I read Die kleine Raupe Nimmersatt (The Very Hungry Caterpillar) and Dackel Franz sucht seinen Schwanz (Franz the Dachshund Searches for his Tail).

I bought Dackel Franz when I was pregnant in München and worried that I would never go anywhere ever again. I stuffed every spare pocket in  our suitcase with books. Most of my choices were based on the lovely illustrations and I still have a few that are still a little too hard for S to understand (I’m especially looking forward to Johanna im Zug!) Franz, however, is a winner.


The book, written by Eva Schatz and illustrated by Susanne Straßer, is about an adorable little Dachel (the diminutive of Dachshund more widely used in German. One thing you should know about German – they have many exceedingly long words for very specific things, but they also love their diminutives and abbreviations ) who wakes up one morning to find his tail is missing.


He searches all over town asking at the Metzgerei and the Markthalle, among other places. Finally, he makes his way to the zoo where he makes an interesting discovery.  Along the way, the dog’s tail pops up in a few unexpected places and trying to figure out what its doing and why adds another layer of fun.


german lessons

S’s german acquisition has been shaky at best. I don’t really mind (for now) since sharing a second language with one’s spouse is incredibly useful when raising a child. She’s three. How else are we going to coordinate our late night snacks?

But sometimes she surprises me. Like when she says she wants my to paint her Nägel or when she told me that “Blue’s Clues” is fantastisch! 

Then we had a breakthrough. We were driving down the coast when suddenly she asked “What’s poop in German?”

Did I mention she recently turned three?

  Kacke,S. That’s “poop” auf Deutsch. 

Then she started asking about the things she saw passing by. Die Strasse, der Baum, die Ampel. I’m so impressed. I think this is going to be the start of something amazing. I wonder if she’ll start answering back in German. Then, it all comes circling back.

– and POOP ATTACK! What means POOP ATTACK in Guh-mun?

Kid was just winding me up.

By the way, I think it might be Kacke-Anschlag, but Its possible that I just made that up.



Over the past week I’ve sat down a total a ZERO times to finish my posts about Die Schweiz (also here and here).Of course, over the past week I also packed up our apartment, sat in an airplane for almost ten hours with a two-year old, threw-up in said airplane on said toddler (Why, yes, I am very lady-like and refined.), and set up camp at my parent’s house until our new apartment is ready in 10 days.

I wish I could say S is transitioning to American life well, but she’s really testing the limits. Also she does not understand shopping malls or why we aren’t getting in the U-Bahn?  This does make car-rides fun and exotic, though. Interestingly, there are times when she will only listen to me if I speak to her auf Deutsch.

She also started categorizing food as “lecker” and “no lecker.”  Other than that, we’re still waiting to see what German she’s retained. I’m planning on buying Little Pim in German for her and, of course, Jon will continue to use  German exclusively when they’re alone. Right, Jon? Right?

Until I have a chance to catch-up, here’s a photo of S walking with her new best friend: my parent’s Japanese Chin, Charlie.

das mädchen

At bedtime….

Jon: On Wednesday he ate three plums, aber satt war sie noch immer nicht. Am Donnerstag…..

S: No German!

Jon: Sie hat fünf….


Later the next day….

Me: You know, we’re going to move back to the US soon. We’re going to get in a big airplane and…

S: No.

Me: No?

S: S live Germany.

How she counts:

“One, two, twee, fo’, five, six, seven, ACHT, nine, ten!”

for my berliner baby: schleich tiere

Many parents are familiar with Schleich – especially now that you can buy them at Target in the States. Here, in their homeland, they’re even more popular and you can find huge displays of them in every toy store. They’re surprisingly sturdy (someone has a tendency to fling them from her highchair) and some of them are hand-finished.

We let S pick out a new one every once in a while. Sometimes because she’s been really well-behaved, like after going to the doctor or a long train ride, and sometimes just because. As you can see above, she has varied tastes.

Elephants keep the best secrets

She is very into creating little families with her “animuhs.” Today, Horsey was in love with Donkey. Yesterday, St. Bernard and Dalmatian had adopted Donkey as their baby.  It makes me really happy to watch S play with them, and I’m glad we’ll be able to add to our menagerie back in the States. I’m already dreading how she’s going to readjust. It will make a huge difference to have some familiar things to bribe her with. 

air berlin

One of the wonderful things about living in Europe is how easily we can travel from one amazing city to another. So far, we’ve done most of our traveling with the Deutsche Bahn or major, national airlines. I’ve heard a lot of bad things about the budget carriers (who hasn’t) and was worried that the usual difficulties and annoyances would be expounded tenfold with a baby. Then I found a really good deal on tickets to Barcelona…on airberlin.

And when the choice is between doing something amazing and staying home its hard to say “nein.”

I was a little worried leading up to the flight. Jon assured me that airberlin, being German, would be ordentlich. He was right. In some ways airberlin was no worse than any other airline and in some ways it was a little better.

Case in point: the baby kit

baby kit

The flight attendant handed us this along with the seat belt adapter for lap babies (Since S is two months shy of 2 years, we were able to take her along without buying her a seat) with a very pleasant, “Let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.” Inside there was a diaper,  six pack of wipes, and a little rattle. Why an airline would willfully give anyone a noise-making device is beyond me, but it bought us some time after the novelty of the plane wore off. There was another toy for S on the way out: a beach ball.

Two weeks later and she still loves that beach ball.

According to the website, each destination has its own themed toy. We didn’t get one on the way home – maybe because they knew we were homebound? I was a little  bummed, because I was really curious about what it might be. In general, the way home wasn’t as pleasant. We were tired.  We got snapped at a little by the crew, but I try not to take it personally. We were going back to Germany after all – pleasant service is not really their forte – and it was still nicer than many other flights mit kind. 

Traveling without the eye-rolling and the tight-lipped smiles, the looks that say, “if she so much as lets one hair out of place” is really a dream. And you know what? The flights we were able to board without the looks and sneers, when the other passengers lefts us alone and the flight attendants greeted us like everyone else? Those were the easy flights. Flying with airberlin was easy.

and maybe the beach ball didn’t hurt.

**It should go without saying (this is just a little, tiny blog), but this post was absolutely NOT sponsored in any way. We were just relieved to have a pleasant flight on a budget. **


After many weekends of sheepishly browsing through booths, I did it. I spoke up, ask a price, and (thankfully) didn’t have to haggle.

I’d been eyeing the street sign and assorted neon letters booth for a while, so when I saw  Heinrich, I jumped. I knew he had to be mine. Before my husband was my husband, he studied for a semester at the Humboldt, and lived on Adalbertstraße. Berlin seemed so huge to me, so unlike anywhere I’d ever been before, that on my visits I would just zone out and let him lead me around, but for some reason, Heinrich-Heine-Straße always stuck out in my mind and I knew that when we were on the bus that stop meant we were close to his apartment.

And now I am the very happy owner of this Straßenschild or as S calls it “Mama ABCs.”


a little nordic christmas

Things have been busy around here lately, but somehow we have managed to visit two Christmas markets. Christmas markets are completely new to me as an American and as someone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas. I was really excited to go, though, precisely for those reasons. It is a genuinely German experience even though both of the markets I’m about to write about have nordic themes.

Our first trip was to the Finnish Market at the Finnland Zentrum in Kreuzberg. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures, because it was packed. Not just packed, PACKED. We had just enough room to breath, and I had to hold the baby the entire time less she disappear in the sea of people. Like most Weihnachtsmärkte, there were lots of handicrafts and, being a finnish market, a Merrimekko and iitala booth. I was tempted, so tempted,  but I couldn’t risk putting Shoshana down. Even for this. We left when people started shoving each other to get to the elk burgers. I kid you not.

We had another chance at a nordic christmas at the Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt at the Kulturbrauerei in Prenzlauerberg. I was surprised at how empty it was, maybe it was just an off day? There were a few generic christmas stalls. The focused seemed to be more on swedish food, which was perfect for us, because we’d really wanted to try elk after seeing the excitement it inspired at the other market. How good it be? and if I eat it can I still make fun of Sarah Palin? It was actually really good, like very-light beef. Shoshana liked it, too.

But the strangest thing at the Lucia market were these warming stations set up to keep people around in the cold.

The radiators keep the coats toasty warm, so if your Glög isn’t doing enough for you, you can try one on for a while before heading back for more. My american need for extreme cleanliness was a little grossed out. I never saw anyone using them, but it was also an unseasonably warm day.

Neither of my first two market experiences felt particularly christmas’y, but it could be my complete unfamiliarity with christmas meant I wasn’t able to recognize the signs. Holiday or not, the Weihnachtsmärkte are a fun, festive way to spend the day.

Now if only I could find some Chanukah wrapping paper…

our anmeldung story, part 2

With the certificates sorted out it seemed as if the most difficult part was behind us. Our information just had to be entered into the computer and we would be on our way.

“but you have lived in Germany before?”

With that question, everything turned on its head again.

Yes, Jonathan has lived in Germany before. Yes, he registered; well, the the professor leading his program did it for everyone. At least, he said he did it for veryone.

Actually, he forgot to do it until there was only two months left in the program. So, while Jon’s passport is stamped with dates from 1/2006-5/2006, the computer has him listed as a resident only from March on. Everything screeched to a halt. Which document had more authority? What was she going to do? No one was sure, but that didn’t stop her from wondering how many HUNDREDS OF EUROS she was going to fine us for. 300€? Oh no, something like this should be at least 500! No, probably more! It seemed to really excite her, describing the level of punishment we would receive while fitting in little jabs about following the rules.

I was stunned. Jon was stunned. We had no idea this had happened. We had all of our paperwork, everything in triplicate. We thought we had done everything we needed to do, we thought we had finally figured out all of the regeln necessary to happily live in Germany. I started to worry that she could make our residency process more difficult – or have us deported. The baby began to fuss, so I took her out into the hall to toddle around for a while.

Another twenty minutes and the woman led Jon out of the room and down the hall towards the lobby. I scooped up the baby and followed completely unsure of what was going on. They went into another office on the other side of the lobby, came out a few minutes later, exchanging curt good-byes. I was completely bewildered. What had happened? or more importantly, how many euros did we owe?

Nothing. Nothing. Absolutely nichts. Somehow the woman became so fed up with trying to decide whether the passport or the computer was correct, that she told Jon we were free to go. We got our registration, which, by the way, is a very anti-climatic piece of printer-paper with a black stamp. It was over. It was over, and as soon as we left the Bürgeramt, I broke out into tears. It was just so fraught, so unnecessarily, so verklemmt. At least now we could start To settle in, take a couple dozen trips to IKEA, and begin prepare ourselves for the residency meeting.