Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holiday Day

Thank you, Santa!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Beautiful Mess

This is a picture of our house today. Those wacky newscasters said this is the worst storm in 40 years. Its most definitely the most snow I had ever seen in all my years in Portland. Crazy. I would say almost 2 feet of snow. Today was supposed to be my second-to-last day at work and they closed the place down. They are closed tomorrow, too, but I talked to a friend who made it in despite the closure, so I am going to make the effort tomorrow. I have so much to do, that I need a full day, and if it is quiet there, well, that will be even better.  I do not fancy the idea of going in for one day when the Christmas shutdown is over, after January 6. 

Had an awesome time out in the snow with Mayzie--she is very adventurous, which I am happy to see...she doesn't wimp out easy and is good for a snowball fight....awesome.

Felt good to have a full, non-weekend day at home. Got some stuff done inside and am trying to scratch off some of that list. Now its time for a Snuggie and some hot tea....

Happy holidaze, everyone!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mayzie is Ready

Frau Mayzie in the house!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Out the Door

I gave my notice at work on Thursday. Freightliner is closed for Christmas from Dec 23 - Jan 6 and I had anticipated going back the week of Jan 6, since we do not leave until the 13th. But Jenna and I realized that there will be lots to do, so we decided my last day will be Dec 23. That will give us plenty of time to get stuff together and gives us more of a chance to leave without being super stressed. That's only 7 more working days. I really haven't taken an extended break from work in awhile, so it will be nice to have probably close to amonth off before starting work in Germany. 

Feels strange to be quitting my job right now. I have finally made some real money, and with the economy the way it is, and the holidays coming up, it feels a little weird. It's nice to be able to talk about Germany at work and our plans--I have had many questions about why and how did you find the job and how many think it will be a great opportunity for me. I can also leave on good terms because its not like I am getting another job across town--everyone understands why I would want to do this and I feel  like I can be honest with why I am leaving. That's a good feeling. I got some feedback from my boss too, which is nice because sometimes I felt under appreciated or insecure about my job security, but he said they would hire me back if we ever got back to Portland. Because of the economic situation, they will not be replacing me, so I felt bad about that--kinda screws them up a little bit, since the group I am in will have to pick up my responsibilities. I don't think it is a huge risk quitting right now since I have a job secured in Germany, but nevertheless, it does feel like there is. Those are the kind of feelings that make lifestyle changes difficult, I suppose, and it is natural to want to stay in a comfort zone.

In other news, our contact Bettina has found us an apartment in Ludwigsburg, which is just north of Stuttgart:

View Larger Map

The apartment itself is OK--furnished, 2 bedrooms, on the top floor of a building so it's got some sloping ceiling lines which may prove difficult for a tall guy like me, but the location is excellent--right in the center of Ludwigsburg which is only a 10 minute train ride to Stuttgart. I am not even sure where in the area I will be working, so we shall see how good this location is, but what I have read of the town is encouraging. If its a long commute, I can handle it for the 2 months that my company is paying for it. There are many historic buildings and gardens and a castle right  in the town...I have even seen it described as "fairy-tale like". Sounds awesome to me. I like the idea of living in a nice German town full of character. Of course my romantic visions of the town and environs are going wild, but I do know that reality is mostly not able to live up to my vision, so we shall see. Bettina will check it out next week for us and let us know...hopefully I can get some pictures up on here.

Besides that, just plugging away--we bought some boxes, but they are still flat. We are going to have a going away party in January, but no concrete plans yet. I have a keg of quality Portland beer that I HAVE to get through before we leave haha. I am thankful that I am taking more time off than anticipated. 

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Like Butter

Today is a big day! I was expecting some news form the consulate this morning, but was surprised when they called me. The lady on the phone was the one I met at their office 4 weeks ago:

"Nicholas? I have some bad news. You were not issued your work permit."
"What?" I said
"Just kidding!" 

Man, that is some messed up German sense of humor! I cant believe she did that to me. TERRIBLE haha but funny. Went down to the office on my lunch break and picked up the passport! Now its really really official.
So, tonight I booked our flights. We leave Jan 13, non stop flight from Portland to Frankfurt. $1255 dollars for one way tickets. I will worry about what we will do with Oskar as we get closer. That's only 5 weeks away. Lots of stuff to do. I am finding it hard to think about Christmas and gifts and writing cards...better get on that or they will all be late and gift cards galore will be distributed.
The secretary at my new job (Bettina) is a real gem of a person, and she is hard at work trying to find us a place in Stuttgart. Seems like she is having difficulty, so I tried to be specific about what we want. Furnished places are quite spendy so she was wondering if we wanted a non-furnished place. I don't really want to think about how much it would cost to deck out a full apartment. I know we would go to IKEA but still it would be expensive. So we would need a furnished place, at least for the 2 months that they are paying for it.  There are lots of crazy things about renting an apartment in Germany--kitchens are not included?!?! This means a copper pipe for the water is all you will see in a kitchen--no cabinets, sink, nothing. That is the weirdest thing, what kind of backwards country is this. Also they require a 3 month deposit on many places. What? That's alot of money down. I think you get most of it back but damn. So now we understand what Bettina is going through.
I hope we remain sane these next five does seem overwhelming but I know we can handle it. I find myself easily irritated with Mayzie and I hate that feeling. I have like 5 different lists in my head and on paper, but keeping it all straight is going to be a challenge. I have not sat down and really relaxed for awhile....come home from work and take care of Mayzie, get her in bed by 9 and work on the house or take care of some computer business, go to bed late.
Speaking of that, its almost midnight now. Good night! More later

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Wait

Sorry blog (and masses!) for ignoring you. Here is a quick update....seems like things are flowing. I got word from Germany that they received my paperwork and passport and are processing it. My diploma was requested, at which time a mad dash through every single box we own commenced (sorry Jenna!). It turned up in the last box (as always) and I scanned it in and emailed it off to my contacts over there. I then was told that all is in order and I should expect my passport back no later than mid-January. So I guess it's official! I won't feel satisfied until I have it in hand, but I think its a 99% thing at this point. Jenna's last day at work is January 6, needless to say, she is very excited. Her work mates are throwing a party for her on Dec 19 at Gustav's (of course, a German restaurant). I am waiting until I get my passport back to give my notice. I havent told anyone at work, really. Dont want to burn any bridges so I hope 2 weeks is enough notice for them.

Now December is here and we are thinking and listing all the stuff we need to do before making a clean break in mid January. Jenna met with a property management company who told us we could expect between $1300 and $1400 a month for our house. They take 8% every month and do all the screening of the tenants and take care of any maintenance and check up on the place, etc. Seems like a good deal. Would be nice not to have to worry about our house, especially now that the place is pretty dialled in. We would need $1400 to cover all of our bills. So hopefully we can get that. The guy said that most places take 4-6 weeks to rent, so we should really decide soon if we are going to put it up. Another management company is coming over tomorrow morning so I guess we will decide then. 

Been scouting out flights--it will cost about $400 for a one way ticket each for mid January, so that leaves about $300 for shipping of a box (of the $1500 my company is fronting us for the move). We should be able to ship a fair amount for that much, by boat. 

More later....