Saturday, April 30, 2016

My Mom's Visit

This month's Highs and Lows post is being supplanted by the following because 1.) I didn't have any lows this month - seriously, not one! - and 2.) most of my highs had to do with my mom's visit from the U.S..

While my dad is trekking and sight-seeing in the Himalayas, my mom popped over for a visit with us for almost two weeks. She arrived a week ago today, and one of the nicest things about her visit is that nothing is rushed. She has no "official" reason for being here - no cruise or other European vacation, no official exchange business, no parties to attend.

What this means is that my mom has spent some days seeing my life and what I do from day to day. This often includes hours of "down time" - she's taking a nap as I write this. We've been relaxing to the point of being dull some days, but everything we have done has been really enjoyable so far! There's more to come next week, but here's what we've done in the last week.

Good Meals

M and I have enjoyed cooking together for her.
Maultaschen in Brühe
Rouladen in the making

Rouladen mit Nudeln
(This is an older picture with Spätzle, but for my mom we made homemade noodles with our pasta press)

Spargel Überbacken
White asparagus with ham & cheese in a white wine-butter sauce
Züricher Geschnetzeltes und Rösti - one of our favorites
Forewarning if you ever plan to visit us: this is not a low-fat household and we don't know what to do for vegetarians. We cook everything from scratch, though, and buy as much from local farmers as possible. But it's all about the meat.

Bounty from Wisconsin

My mom brought a whole bunch of things I'd asked for, plus one surprise - a Marguerite Henry book I fondly remember from my youth, Five O'Clock Charlie! This was a gift from the son and daughter-in-law of my grandmother's sister. I associate this book with memories of my mom's Aunt June, because I always found it on her shelf and read it cover to cover when I visited.

Other items pictured: cutting boards in the shape of Wisconsin, refrigerator magnets and tea towels of Wisconsin and Sheboygan, Nestlé semi-sweet chocolate chips, a scarf my dad bought me in Argentina, a silicone pot scrubber, and Baker's string cheese (there are no words for how much I love this string cheese, bought fresh from the factory near my hometown (and then frozen for the overseas journey). The Wisconsin-themed items are for when I have occasion to give a gift and want to give something from the homeland.


On Monday we drove to Esslingen (I drove!!) to have a lunch meeting with friends who are in charge of the Esslingen-Sheboygan exchange and then met for ice cream and a chat with the Sheboygan, Wisconsin exchange students who are spending five months in Esslingen.

Kaffee und Kuchen

On Tuesday we drove to the Spargelhof in Bondorf where I always buy our asparagus - picked that morning - and in the afternoon we met six of my (former) students from Syria and Eritrea at a café in Horb for coffee. I was definitely looking forward to introducing them to my mom, and we had a lovely afternoon!

Moms Geburtstag!

Wednesday was my mom's 74th birthday, and she was treated to a lazy morning while I went to M's office for the English lesson. In the afternoon we picked up my Schwiegermutter from the Bahnhof, and in the evening we all four had a wonderful dinner at Straub's Krone.

 P.S. No, that is not a missing apostrophe in "Moms Geburtstag". In German possessives do not take apostrophes.  

our mums
friends since 1987, 19 years before their kids got married!
creme brulee with a birthday candle

American vs. British English

My mom and Schwiegermutter came with me to my Englisch-AG (where I teach conversational English at a school for students with mild learning disabilities), and we did several activities focusing on the differences between American and "proper" English, as I often call the two languages. It often seems true that Americans and Brits are "separated by a common language" (George Bernard Shaw)!

Ancestors' House in Nöttingen

On Thursday I drove my mom and Schwiegermutter to Nöttingen, where we met the couple living in the house my great-great-great-great grandfather built in 1797. They are such warm and gracious people! They had prepared for us delicious homemade cakes as well as a CD full of information about the village and the house - including details about the renovations they've done. The house is under Denkmalschutz, and when they gave us a tour they pointed out the parts of the structure that are original. They helped us visualize what the house and rooms looked like when Jacob Jung lived there.

a painting of the house done by a relative of the current owners


My ladies' riding lesson is on Friday mornings, and my mom was kind enough to come along and snap a few photos despite it being a bit cold. This was nice for me because I could finally have some pictures of me with Mallory, the little horse I ride most often.

Syrisches Essen

On Friday afternoon we were invited to the home where several of my Syrian students live, and they cooked for us several Syrian dishes: Taboule, Freekeh, and a dessert. The food was delicious, and the Deurabisch (Deutsch-English-Arabisch) conversation was very interesting! We talked about religion, customs in Germany, Syria, and the US, their journeys from Syria to Germany, and their hometowns. They showed us on Google Maps where they used to live (much of which has been destroyed by the war). Several of these men lived in villages outside of Damascus just a few kilometers from each other, but they first met when they arrived in this tiny German village back in September 2015.

Pre-Mom's-Visit Highs

The following highs happened before my mom arrived...
  • meeting one of my students twice for several hours so that he could tell me his story - of his life in Syria before the war and his journey from Syria through the Balkan route to Germany. His complete story is too long for a blog post, and since I will be talking listening to my other students and some of their friends as well, this may well be the start of a new project!

  • our sixth Kochkurs at Straub's Krone, this time focusing on SpargelWildkräuter, and Rhabarber.

That's it for April! I hope you had a good month as well!


    1. Wow, that sounds like such a wonderful month, almost magical (in a super-awesome, family and international way). Can I also say just how adorable the Mütter are? How kind it was of the people who own your relative's house to do all of that for you too. I know that many Americans don't think of this, but Germans are often very helpful (just like anyone can be :) I think so many Americans think of them being closed-off and distant if they aren't trying to be your best friend within a minute of meeting. Mallory is gorgeous. What breed is she? Also, if you want to expand your cooking repertoire (and venture a bit into the vegetarian cooking realm), definitely have your students show you some recipes. Many of the salad recipes from that general direction of the world are mostly easy to make, vegetarian friendly, and delicious :)

      1. Thanks! It was indeed a good month. I agree about Germans - the ones I know are warm, genuine, honest, giving... They are not cold and distant, but they need their time and privacy. Nothing wrong with that!'re kind. I don't find her gorgeous (roan isn't my color), but I really like her, including her sassy personality. I asked at my second lesson what breed she is, but the instructor (also runs the stable) didn't know. "hm...deutsches Reitpferd, glaube ich" she said. :-)

        We'll see about the vegetarian cooking. We did have a vegetarian guest once (friend of my daughter's), so I made a veggie casserole and M grilled the rest of us a steak as a side. :-)

    2. Mmm, the food you cooked all looks delicious! I do occasionally cook vegetarian food - sweet potato, chickpea and spinach curry is a favourite around here - but we definitely also eat a lot of meat. Sometimes if dinner was vegetarian and we have any dried sausage, Jan will go and eat some of that once he's finished his meal ;-)

      I love that you call British English "proper English" :-D

      1. That sounds like M. After a vegetarian meal (which he would eat if that's what I made for dinner), he'd happily grill himself a steak for dessert. :-)

        British English just sounds so much nicer to me than my own language. As an American I can get away with calling it "proper" English without sounding overly critical.

        One of the things they did was read the tongue-twister "Betty Botter bought some butter..." In (midwestern) American that sounds like "Beddy Bahdder bawt some budder." We also did terms that are different in the two countries, like "purse" and "braces". It was a good class, and the kids seemed to enjoy it, too.

    3. lol, the American use of "purse" always confuses me! Also, I only found out last year that Americans don't use the word "fortnight". This still astonishes me!