Friday, December 22, 2006

Funny German Phrase about Going to the Dentist

>>>>sent to my father, a dentist. I learned the phrase from some colleagues after going to the dentist for the first time in Germany.

German Phrase:
Mama, Mama, Mama! Der Zahnarzt hat gar nicht gebohrt!!! Der hat gleich gezogen.

English Translation:
Mom, Mom, Mom! The dentist didn't do any drilling, he just pulled the tooth instead.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

BYU vs. Utah Follow-up

Yeah, that was an awesome ending. I could hardly believe it. I was totally wishing we were together for a huge party. A party at Bishop Nelson's would have been even better! ;- )

Well it's rainy and cold, or just cold here. When it stops raining, I'm so happy and don't care how cold it is though. Life is good here, pretty normal, which is the craziest part. Spencer got in a fight at school today. Two kids jumped him and he held his own. I guess that's good (that it took two kids). Then he had a Christmas party this afternoon. Work is crazy busy getting ready for testing that is supposed to begin tomorrow and I'm talking in German various forms of English (Swedish, German) all day. Shantal hates school and homework and fights with Tamara everyday about it. Tamara is stressed out about kids, household, cooking, etc. Hannah and Emma are sick. Ian has some reflux thing, so he spits up pretty much all the time, but he smiles all the time too. It's pretty much the standard day to day problems, but they seem a bit more overwhelming here.

I'll try to write more later. I have to run to choir. I was just setting up the internet here at home.

If you have a cheap calling method like Skype or something, Tamara would love to hear from your wives of course and it would be cool to talk as well.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

BYU vs. Utah

Wow, I just watched the BYU - Utah game last night - my dad sent it over on DVD. That was awesome. I knew BYU was victorious and that it was a close game, but I didn't know the details, so it was still fun to watch.

I remember saying Harline is the rock after he made that acrobatic catch early in the 2nd half. Then he made that sweet grab to win the game . . . amazing. He was all alone over there and Beck got him the ball, and he caught it. I wondered what was going through his mind when the ball was in the air.

Who do they play in the Bowl Game and what are they ranked? We still don't have internet at home and work is pretty crazy - testing begins on tomorrow.

Take Care fellas,

Monday, November 20, 2006

Letter to Customs via Moving Company

Mr. Monfils,

I am writing to request reconsideration of the customs officials, to release our goods.

The officials searched through our belongings for 5 hours at a very high cost and found two items that should be taxed:
- cold cereal in unopened boxes (my wife generally buys cereal ahead of time whenever it is on sale, so we always have a stock of 20 boxes or so on hand)
- new children's clothing (these items were gifts that we received from friends in May for our newborn son who was at that time not yet born - he was born 31 Aug 2006. Or, clothes that my wife bought last spring for this winter)

Both items are a normal part of taking care of a family with five children.

If we should be taxed, then tax us, but release our goods so that our family can live in our house with our goods. As of the 29th of of November we will be living in a house that is completely empty and we will be sleeping on the floor. Additionally, we will be living with no pots, pans, plates, glasses, beds, blankets, etc.

Please note to customs officials, that this extreme inconvenience for two items, comes after six months of living without our household goods - because, it should be noted, that we moved out of our house in the USA at the end of May/beginning of June - just about six months ago. We moved out of our house at that time because we were originally planning on moving this summer, but did not because the German health insurance companies said that due to my wife's "pre-existing condition" of being pregnant she would not be accepted by a health insurance company and therefore would have to pay for the entire cost of the pregnancy. We stayed in the US until our son was born.

But that does not change the fact that in May/June, my wife and children moved across the country to Utah to live with my In-laws and I moved in with friends in Wisconsin, and our household goods moved into storage. So for just about six months now our goods have been in storage in Wisconsin, or in storage on a ship, or in storage in the Netherlands. So, technically speaking everything we own has been in our possession for at least six months. Nothing that we own is new anymore, because even if it was new when we packed our household in May/June (like the gifts of baby clothing), it is no longer new, we have owned it now for at least six months.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A Quick Update After 7 Weeks

Here is a quick update on our lives here in Germany. There is so much to tell of course and so little time. It seems that a year or so has passed since we left the United States, and we've only been here about seven weeks (since 22nd of September). Without internet access at our house, we are somewhat limited in communication. All the emails you have sent have been appreciated though. I've shared them with my wife and kids and it has been nice.

The first big update is that we have found a permanent house!!!
The house is extremely nice - there is a yard in the back with an apple tree with great apples and there is a large patio. It is a Row house or Townhouse and the couple who owns the house and will rent to us are very nice people and have been wonderful to work with.

The wife said she was a bit nervous to take on a family with 5 children and it required a lot of courage on her part. Because, for instance, if we, or our children, cause problems in the neighborhood, the neighbors complain to her and she must take on that responsibility. She was not sure she was making the right choice until she found out that we are Mormons. Then she felt at ease with her decision. She said that Mormons generally work hard to raise good children and are upstanding people. The wife was an exchange student in Southern California and was very good friends with a Mormon family there. I guess we came with good references. That was a huge blessing for us.

The house is in a little village called Ratingen-Homberg, which is just north of Düsseldorf. The children can walk to school for the next two or three years and I can take a bus/train to work. There are many farms in that area - even some cows like back in Wisconsin, but we are not too far from the cities of Ratingen and Düsseldorf, which have shopping, groceries, etc.

I have been assigned to a project at work. I am working at a company called Tele2 (Swedish, with business in several EU countries, including germany). They are a phone company that is working on some adding some internet offerings. I am testing software that will support ordering the new internet products in Germany. Since the development and much of the project management/coordination takes place in Sweden, I have travelled to Sweden once already. I may go again, but infrequently if at all. I was there for two nights and it was pretty weird at the end of the trip to say to myself - "I'm now going home to Düsseldorf, Germany."

The kids (Shantal & Spencer) have been placed in a grade school down the street from our current apartment in Düsseldorf-Derendorf. The school had limited space and so both children were placed in the same class together - 2nd grade with Mrs. Lehnen. Normally Shantal is in the 3rd grade and Spencer is in the 2nd grade. This has worked out for a good start to their German schooling and their German language experience. Tonight for instance the kids just kept speaking German to me all night. It's still quite a shock. I still think their German will be better than mine in about six months, at least regarding their accent, and ability to speak freely, etc.

We will move out of our furnished apartment in Düsseldorf at the end of November (lease ends then). We can move into our new unfurnished house in Ratingen-Homberg as of the 15th of November. We hope that the Customs Officials in the Netherlands have blessed our furniture and allowed it to pass through customs by the 30th of November so that we will have furniture once we move in. Otherwise we will have to sleep on air mattresses and borrow some dishes.

Our adventure continues in many ways. We must transfer the kids to the new school in Homberg, look for a pre-school for Hannah, find several items for the new house, lights, throw rugs, and most importantly - electric appliances - especially the big ones as it is not practical to bring over the 110W appliances from america. The owners were kind enough to provide a fridge and dishwasher and the house had a stove and and several closets, but there are several items still on the list. Not to mention that work is a bit busy right now ramping up to testing, so my days are long and not too flexible there. We'll just have to keep going for now.

The little kids are doing well too. They are pretty happy with very little. Food, sleep, clean daipers, and love. Emma likes to run around a bit of course and loves being outside - Ian doesn't run much yet. He smiles a lot though and it's amazing how great you feel when he smiles at you. Your wouldn't think that someone smiling at you with slobber and spitup running down their face would move you so much, but it does.

And of course, Tamara is amazing. She has continued to coordinate things very well here. We have a schedule and the kids get their homework done everynight, and laundry gets done, and we are all eating. It's phenomenal really.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Goods Cleared Customs

Dear Mr. Wheeler,

This morning customs did a further inspection of your shipment and they found some more food products and some additional new clothing.

Fortunately it was not the same team as last Thursday and though they had instructions to unpack and check the rest of the cartons for new items and food products and report these as such, I have explained them your situation and eventually they agreed with me that the food and new clothing items were not present in such a large quantity that it could not have come from a normal stock from your kitchen or would be considered as commercial as far as the clothing is concerned.

I expect that your shipment will be released by the end of the week and would like to deliver your shipment next week.

In the meantime can you inform me about the delivery situation and access to your house.

Is this a house or an apartment and can we park in front of the building with a truck
If it is an apartment, please advise the floor (ground, 1st, 2nd etc)
Can you also let me know the approximate walking distance between the truck and the front door

Best regards,
Jaco ter Veen

Saturday, October 21, 2006

One Month After Arrival - Work Assignment

Hi All,

I started work on a real project at Tele2 on Thursday (no longer on the bench). I am testing a new DSL product they will be offering. I work directly with an American and a good team of people.

Other than working with really nice people there, one cool thing I found out on my first day is that the Tele2 manager for whom I am working was an exchange student in North Carolina. His wife was also an exchange student in Tennesee. They are both traveling to the US tomorrow morning and doing some hiking in the Appalachian mountains. I found this out on Thursday - the day that I started. The funny thing was that on the way to work that very morning I spoke to a lady on the S-Bahn and because of my accent she asked me where I was from. She then told me that she was an exchange student in the US many years earlier and had just called her host mom last Sunday for her host mom's 70 birthday -- crazy to think about being 70.

It was a good day. There are a lot of good days. There are a lot of hard days, but that's just part of moving I guess. Just have to keep going. Still no house yet, but things are moving along and I think we'll find something soon.

One other totally crazy thing is that I fly to Sweden to meet with the Tele2 development team next Wednesday thru Friday. I knew the development team was in Sweden, but not that I would fly there four days after starting. Crazy thought!?!?! :-)

Oh, yea. We have a Landline phone number. That's cheaper to call us now.

With Love,

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

3 Weeks After Arrival


If you haven't heard, the Wheeler family has moved to Düsseldorf Germany. This is something my wife and I have talked about doing for many years and as of 22 September 2006 we were able to finally return to Germany (it was were we originally met). I began work today on 2 October and tomorrow is the Day of German Reunification - the day East & West Germany were reunified after 40 plus years of the iron curtain separating country.

I've put together a couple of thoughts from our first 10 days or so. Not necessarily in order or importance or chronology.

First off, in addition to moving countries, we have also just increased the size of our family - Tamara would say this differently as "just increased" included a long 9 month ordeal, followed by a long, very long 6-7 hour ordeal. Ian Robert Wheeler was born on 31 August, just three weeks before we traveled to Germany.

I have learned a great lesson from Ian and continue to remind me and my children of this lesson - regardless of what country we are in Ian does just fine. He does everything he needs to live regardless of where we are - he gets food, sleep, fill his diaper, and receives and gives love. This is all any one needs to live and this lesson has helped our family greatly as we have lived without many things we thought were essential - internet connection (I'm at an internet cafe), a back yard or garden to play in, certain "American" foods, etc.

Here are some of the details of our life here. We live in a two story furnished apartment in the heart of northern Düsseldorf (an area called Derendorf/Pempelfort). This is a busy area of town and several street cars pass our house and there are many types of shops available in the area. This is much different from the farm country we lived in back in Wisconsin. But it is very nice. There is a Delicatessen in the first floor of our apartment building and so this smells nice when we leave the house in the morning. We are training kids in how to shop and live in a city - they take turns running errands with us to the bakery, or grocery, or newspaper stand.

One of the best features of our apartment is the fire station that is one block away. This means that at least every two hours we hear sirens - the really cool European sirens that we only heard in the movies back in America. Emma (16 months old always gets excited when one goes by). With the windows shut, the kids (and us) now sleep through the sound. It has become background noise and normal for us.

Here are some of the best things about our first ten days.
First, the Latter-day Saint congregation in Düsseldorf offered to help us at the airport and to get settled the first day. This was huge as we had about two large truck loads of luggage (not sure how we got that all through the check-in or the airport, but it was a lot). The kids had a place to play after and Tamara had a place to sleep while I ran and took care of some errands. They have continued to be a great support.

Second, a good friend from Hannover came down to help us out the first weekend. She brought the kids chocolate and helped us figure out many things that would have taken much longer, and generally provided much help throughout the weekend.

Third, going to church on the first Sunday was awesome. It had been over 14 years since I went to Church in Germany and it was wonderful to be back. The first song that the congregation sang was entitled "I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord." The phrase that struck me was "I'll go over mountain, or sea, or plain." I had just done that and felt a great peace and love as we sang the words in German.

Fourth, the kids are starting to speak German. We have been speaking and training them in German for several years, and they have now begun to speak themselves. They started asking what things mean in German, and have started reading some of the billboards, and grocery packages at home. So that is a good sign. Obviously they have a ways to go, but are headed in the right direction.

Our biggest challenge now is to find the right house, in the right location, with the right features, at the right price. We seem to be able to find 3 of the 4 items items in several houses, but have not yet found all four things in one house. Hopefully we'll find what we are looking for soon.

Much Love,
The Wheelers
Gardner & Tamara
Shantal, Spencer, Hannah, Emma, Ian

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Final Letters from Home

Hi All,

well our wild adventures continue. You might have heard about little baby Ian, but did you hear where I am sleeping in Wisconsin?
I stay at Bishop Nelson's house now. I sleep in their basement. It is very nice to be at their house. It is like going to my parents house or something. They are great, and I'm not alone anymore like at my house after the kids left.

Two weeks from now all of us Wheelers will be sleeping in the same place - in Germany. What a crazy thought. I can't believe the time is almost here. We will be staying in a furnished apartment in Düsseldorf (Jülicher Straße, 40477 Düsseldorf) until the end of October. I don't know the telephone number yet, but will let you know. I wanted to tell you a great story about getting the apartment. It is hard to get apartments for a large family and we were looking for a short period of time, which is also hard. The larger furnished apartments always want to rent for 3 or 6 months or more. Here is the story:

I emailed the furnished apartment rental agency MWZ-24 and listed our 5 children and their ages, which they usually request. I had not received a response and so I called the company a day or two later. A gentleman - Herr Schmitz - answered and I introduced myself. He said he had seen my request and was not sure how he could fill it. Gratefully our conversation went further.

After explaining our situation in more detail (from the states, where I will work, what our plans were, etc.) - Herr Schmitz said in good natured way: "Wait, you wouldn't happen to be a Mormon, would you? You must have a 2 or 3 wives in order to have 5 children?" I graciously said that I only have one wife. He then made a joke about there being no alcohol in Utah, and said that any man with 16 or so wives would definitely need the alcohol. I think I agreed with him - it was quite funny when he said it.
We spoke a bit more and he said - I think I can find you something. There is a nice landlord in Pempelfort and he would probably make arrangements for you. And that is the place we will be living in for the first month in Germany - Jülicher Straße.

It was a great blessing. There will be more hurdles once we arrive, like finding an unfurnished apartment, but we trust that the Lord will continue to bless us and that we will continue to find nice people in Düsseldorf to help us.

Here is a great story about Emma after Ian came home from the hospital. I think it was Ian's 2nd day home that this happened. I was lying on the couch resting, when I noticed this.

I looked up and saw Emma on the floor. She was about 2 meters from Tamara (who was feeding Ian on a chair on the other side of the living room). Emma was sitting down with her back to Tamara and she held two binkies (Schnuller) in her hand - her own binky and Ian's binky. We had told her several times not to take Ian's binky and she kind of knew that it wasn't good, which is why I think she had her back to Tamara. But despite our instructions - there Emma sat - in the middle of the floor with her back to Tamara holding both binkies. She seemed to be examining the differences. She repeatedly looked at her binky and then at Ian's binky. Then finally she stuck Ian's binky in her mouth. After a few seconds she took it out; put her binky back into her mouth; stood up; turned around; and took Ian's binky back to Tamara and Ian. It was very cute.

Speaking of cute, watching Emma play with Ian is very cool and because she looks almost exactly like Shantal did at that same age, which is about when Spencer was. Shantal did the same things Emma is doing - taking the binky, trying to give loves, and being very excited about her younger brother. Whenever Emma sees Ian she gets excited and starts smiling. Even if Emma is crying and screaming and acting like all is lost she gets excited when she sees Ian. She stops crying, starts pointing at Ian, makes happy sounds (she doesn't speak words yet), and then goes over to give him a love. It is really cool - almost like they know each other already.

Well I have to run. I hope you have a great week.


Final Encouragement to the Kids

>>>>To Tamara - shortly after the birth of our fifth child. She was having post pardon complications. I lived in Wisconsin and she in Salt Lake City and I asked her to read this to the kids.

Love Ya babe. Good luck with all your preparations and be sure and ask your dad for a blessing.


Well our time is getting short and very soon we will be in Germany. If you are like me, you are probably getting nervous and a little worried about the change. I am excited and glad that we will be together, but there will be so many new things, that I am nervous as well.

I had two thoughts for you before we go.

First off. The Lord is aware of your needs and cares about you. He cares about us and is preparing us for the move. A small example of this is your ability to speak German.

I noticed when I was in Salt Lake City last week that all of you kids could actually understand and speak German better now than I you could at the beginning of the summer at the family reunion. I remember thinking at the reunion that you would lose all of your German by the end of the summer. I was worried and prayed for you.

And the exact opposite has occurred. Your German has actually gotten better over the summer. That is the Lord taking care of you. There is no other way your German could have gotten better than through the Lord.

I noticed the same thing happening for me. I wrote several emails in German this week - without much trouble. Usually it is hard for to write in German. I have a hard time remembering the right words, but it was much easier this week. I felt the Lord helping me as I wrote.

Second, I wanted to quote from a talk by President Hinckley. Mark Mills shared this with me. Pres. Hinckley spoke about how the church should care for each other. He told a story about american members of The Church of Jesus Christ who move to Japan.

A knowledgeable man, who had lived abroad a number of years, who watched Americans come to Japan with their families to work said,

“I have never seen anything like your people to make others feel comfortable and at home. Whenever a Mormon family came to Japan, a week had not passed before they had many friends. It was different with other [families]. Most of them felt extremely lonely and experienced great difficulty in making adjustments.”

Remember, we are not alone. We belong to a great body of friends, thousands upon thousands who are striving to follow the teachings of the Lord.

I remember interviewing a discouraged missionary. He was having trouble with a language which was not his own. He had lost the spirit of his work and wanted to go home. He was one of 180 missionaries in that mission.

I told him that if he were to go home he would break faith with his 179 companions. Every one of them was his friend. Every one of them would pray for him, fast for him, and do almost anything else to help him. They would work with him. They would teach him. They would get on their knees with him. They would help him to learn the language and be successful because they loved him.

I am happy to report that he accepted my assurance that all of the other missionaries were his friends. They rallied around him, not to embarrass him, but to strengthen him. The terrible feeling of loneliness left him. He came to realize that he was part of a winning team. He became successful, a leader, and he has been a leader ever since.
That’s what each of us must do for one another.

Paul wrote to the Romans, “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak.” And then he added these significant words, “And not to please ourselves.” (Rom. 15:1.)

This will be important for us after we arrive in Germany. We won't make it alone. We have to rely on each other for strength. We'll have to watch for those who are sad and help them and pray for them. Everyone will be sad at different times, including mom & dad. And maybe sometimes we will all be sad at the same time. Let's try and do two things.1) tell each other when we are having a sad day or a sad time. 2) help those who are sad and pray for those who are sad.

I love you all and look forward to seeing you in roughly 10 days.

<<< For Mom - another section of Pres. Hinckley's talk that I thought would be good for us to think about when we are dealing with the kids over in Germany. >>>

There is a sad tendency in our world today for persons to cut one another down. Did you ever realize that it does not take very much in the way of brainpower to make remarks that may wound another? Try the opposite of that. Try handing out compliments.

For a number of years, while I had responsibility for the work in Asia, I interviewed each missionary one-on-one. I asked each what virtue he or she saw in his or her companion and would like to put into his or her own life.

When I raised that question, almost invariably the missionary, an elder for example, would stop with a surprised look on his face. He had never thought of his companion that way before. He had seen his faults and weaknesses but had not seen his virtues. I would tell him to pause and think about it for a minute. Then the answers would begin to come. Such answers as, “He’s a hard worker.” “He gets up in the morning.” “He dresses neatly.” “He doesn’t complain.”

It was a remarkable thing, really. These young men and women, for the most part, had been oblivious to the virtues of their companions, although they were well aware of their companions’ faults, and often felt discouraged because of them. But when they began to turn their attitudes around, remarkable things began to happen.

Saturday, September 9, 2006

2 Weeks to Departure

Well in 2 weeks, my wife and our five children will be flying to Düsseldorf Germany to live and work. My company, CGI, has contracts with Vodafone - a cell phone company. My company helps write the software that generates the cell phone bills, creates the unique pricing plans, etc. I will be working as a software developer for CGI.

One of the most exciting or nerve wracking aspects of our move is the age of our children - Shantal, age 8; Spencer, age 7; and Hannah, age 5. These are fine ages for travel. Young and exuberant and full of energy for new things. The excitement comes in when you consider Emma, age 16 months; and Ian, age 8 days. These two will make the trip very exciting.

You can view pictures of the little tykes at the link below. By the way if you need a photographer in Salt Lake City, I know a great photographer. My sister-in-law is a professional photographer and did a fine job on Ian's first days in the hospital:

Saturday, September 2, 2006

Ian is Born

We are proud to announce the birth of our fifth child.

Ian Robert Wheeler was born on August 31st at 1:04 p.m.
Ian weighed 7 lbs 8 oz (3402 grams)
Ian was 21 1/2 inches long (54.61 centimeters)

Ian looks very much like his brothers and sisters. It was a joy to receive him into our family. Here is a picture of mom and baby which we have thanks to his Aunt Colleen. Both look great don't you think!!! : -)

Mom & Ian