Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I am so behind in blogging! Not because nothing has happened in the last month, but because so much has been happening, I haven't felt like I had the time to write it all down! Now that Christmas is pretty much done, I'll hopefully have time over the next few weeks to catch up on everything I've missed!

We had a really nice Christmas here. The weather has been amazing, and we've spent lots of time outside! James was a little disappointed that we didn't have a snow for Christmas, but I really enjoyed being able to take the boys on a walk and to a playground to play this afternoon.

Our church didn't have any Christmas services, so we've pretty much just hung out around the house, but yesterday we went into Munich and walked around the Englischer Garden and visited a beer garden, which was fun, though a little unconventional for Christmas eve. There are great Christmas markets here, but a lot of them aren't open on Christmas eve, which we didn't' realize until  we got all the way to the middle of the Englisher Garden where there had been a Christmas market up until yesterday!

Today was a little quieter, and more slightly more homesick than we're used to, but it was still nice. We spread out the present opening over several hours, and the boys seemed to really enjoy every gift as it came. James got a big playmobil pirate ship, which he seemed to really enjoy. And David got new Bob the Builder (Bob-ba) underwear which he would frequently show to us and comment about. They're both at a really sweet age where they enjoy everything about christmas and just seem to soak it all in. It was fun having them both at an age where they "get" opening presents. Dylan and I both had some surprise presents under the tree (yay for Amazon gift wrapping) and that was really fun! In spite of it being a pretty quiet, low key day, I think we all really enjoyed our first Christmas in Germany, and I know it will be one I'll remember!

Since most of you in America haven't finished your Christmas Day yet, I hope you all have a blessed day!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Little travelers

We're planning our trip back to the US this week. We can't wait to see everyone! Please say lots of prayers for me that the boys are good on the plane. We'll leave here Saturday afternoon, and arrive in Denver Saturday evening (local time). If anyone has any advice on the long flight or dealing with jet lag, I'd love to hear it!

In preparation for the trip we've been playing "airplane" a lot. Here's a picture of the boys sitting nicely in their seats with their seatbelts on!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Latener!

Tomorrow is Sankt Martinstag, or St. Martin's Day in english speaking countries ;-) In this part of Germany it's normal for children to celebrate this holiday by going for a walk through the neighborhood at night carrying handmade lanterns and singing songs about lanterns and St. Martin.

A few weeks ago we got a letter from the kindergarten letting us know the meeting place for the St. Martin's day walk, and with lyrics to the special songs the kids would be singing. From the day I received the letter I started asking James about the preparations for the holiday. "Are you making a lantern at school James?" "Have you started learning some songs?" "How about a song about Sankt Martin or Laterne?" Every question was answered with a confident "No" from James, and sometimes he would laugh at me and call me silly, why would they do those things? A few days before the walk was supposed to take place I asked his teacher about it. I was starting to be concerned that making the lantern was our responsibility since James still didn't seem to know anything about it. The teacher assured me that they had made the lanterns and had been practicing the special songs every day. Finally, last Thursday, the day before the St. Martin's day walk, the lanterns were waiting for us to take home. "Wow James," I commented, "What a nice Lantern, did you make that?" James looked at me like I was crazy. "That's my latener." He said. We learned a song about it, "Latener, Laterner." Do you know what else we're learning about?" He asked. "Mateen, he's a guy that rides a horse, and uses a sword to cut his coat in half to share with someone else. We learned a song about that too, San Mateen, San Mateen" Haha. Apparently James wasn't confused because he didn't understand what was going on at school, he was confused because he was learning about all those things in German, and I was asking about them in English!

Last night we did the St. Martin's walk. James very proudly carried his Lantern the whole way, even though he was one of the smallest kids and had a hard time keeping up. I was amazed that they let all these tiny kids carry candles through the town, but the kids did great! When we got back to the school there was a big bonfire, a St. Martin skit, hot drinks, and the kids sang more songs about St. Martin. The whole thing was very cute, and had a very "small town" sort of feel. We really enjoyed it!

The picture in the video is bad, but James singing his Laterne song is too cute to not post!

video

Monday, October 29, 2012

Stupidity and efficiency

My mornings while the boys are at school are a special time that I truly treasure. It's a time when I can go to bible study, meet up with friends and get chores done around the house without being interrupted or waylaid by small children. Wednesday after I dropped the boys off I planned to complete a laundry list of errands and chores. I needed to clean the house, vacuum the rugs, do the laundry, pick up a package and return a borrowed stroller in exchange for our old one that had been at the shop to be fixed. Since the stroller was going to take the longest, I decided to that first.

I grabbed the borrowed stroller, hurried to the train, and rode the four stops to the bus station where I would transfer to get to the toys r us. While I was on the train I decided to get some work done. I got so absorbed in finishing my german homework, that when I looked up we were at my stop! I grabbed up all my papers and ran out of the train. I stood on the platform thinking how nice it was that I didn't have to wait for the elevator when it hit me, I had left the borrowed stroller in the train! My mind raced trying to think if some way to retrieve it, but no, there was no way to get to a further stop than the train I had just exited, and I couldn't call anyone on the train and ask them to leave it on the next platform for me. I wandered over to the"information" board on the platform with maps and whatnot and noticed a phone number for information. I called the number, and to my delight the woman that answered spoke perfect English. I explained the situation and she chuckled, "how did you forget a stroller?!" She asked. " I guess because it didn't have any children in it", I replied. She advised me to speak to the driver of the next train that came along, and he would radio the other driver and figured it out. That had never occurred to me, but it worked great! The driver told me ride along while he radioed the other train, and then two stops later he stuck his head out and told me to ride to the end station with him, and then I would get my stroller back there. I rode along, and two stops before the end he stuck his head out again and told me to get out there and wait for the next train coming the other way, they would have my stroller. I did as instructed and the next driver had my stroller up next to him. He had me sign a paper and returned the stroller to me.

I was honestly amazed how efficiently the whole situation was handled, and that they were willing to delay the trains each time to help me out. I expected it to be a much bigger hassle than it was. Of course, afterwards I felt really ridiculous having spent my whole morning and all my precious time riding the subway, and I didn't even have time to return the stroller, so I had to do it the afternoon with the kiddos in tow. Oh well,live and learn I guess!

Reading

Dylan and I are both big readers. For some reason, so far our kids don't seem to just LOVE books. James will listen to books if you bring it up, but it's never really his idea, and David will not usually sit still through a whole (ridiculously short board) book. One thing they do both like to do though is "read" to themselves/play with books. Then this morning I looked over and witnessed this interaction between the boys:

James: "come here David, I'm going to read the bible to you"
David: "yeah!"
James: "ok, so, God made the sun, he took the sunny stuff and made it into the sun, see that David?"
David: "wow"
James: "And look! There's Joseph! Mumble mumble mumble, and God saved the Israelites"

At this point David got distracted and started doing something else. But seriously, how cute is that?!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Just like daddy

James is in a "Daddy" phase right now. He wants to be like daddy in every way. Instead of normal pj's he wears sweat pants and a t-shirt to bed every night because that's what Dylan wears. He wears button down shirts to school every day, and this weekend he's been insisting he and Dylan wear ties.

It's 10am Sunday morning, and James and Dylan are snuggled up on the couch together wearing ties and sweats and watching "Coal".

Friday, October 19, 2012

Update

I haven't posted in a while. I think I keep waiting till I have something really post-worthy, and since we haven't done any cool sightseeing recently, nothing seems quite post-worthy. But, I know there are a few of you out there following just to keep up with the going on of our family, boring as they may be. So this is for you guys! (hi mom ;-))

James' kindergarten started a month ago, and we've finally settled into a real normal rhythm with things. It's really nice to have predictable weeks and know what's coming up. Also, because he's in kindergarten 5 days a week, and quite busy with that, we've been having a lot more lazy weekends, not feeling the need to get out and do something "fun" every time Saturday rolls around. It's been quite nice actually.

During the week James goes to Kindergarten every morning from 8:15ish-12:45ish (there are half hour windows where I drop him off and pick him up). On Wednesday he has milchtage (milk day, they have milk for snack time instead of the normal tea/Water) and on Friday he has spielzeugtage and kinderturnen (toy day and gymnastics). So far he really likes school and the only time when he cried during drop-off was a day when we had argued all the way to school over whether he should have ridden his new scooter or not (he wanted to, I said no). Needless to say he was crying about the scooter, and not about being left at kindergarten!

David is still going to kinderpark 3 morning a week, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, from 8:30-12:00. Just like his big brother, he never cries when I'm dropping him off and always seems to be having an excellent time when I pick him up! It took me a while to figure out what to do with David from 12:00-12:45 on days when he goes to school. It's such an awkward amount of time, and he gets sleepy around 12:30, but I've figured out if I pick him up with my bike, bring him home and feed him lunch, etc., it's actually a really nice half hour for us to spend together, and it takes almost no time at all with my bike to go there and back, and then there again for James.

On days when David is not in kinderpark we either spend the time at home getting chores done (David is a remarkable little helper when he doesn't have brother around to distract him!), or we go to a playgroup in Munich. David seems to equally enjoy both activities, I enjoy going to play groups to meet with other moms, but the traveling back and forth on the subway with an active toddler can get a bit exhausting, so we play it by ear.

Tuesdays I have a church bible study I go to while the kids are in school, and often on Wednesday or Friday I meet up with a friend for coffee. Thursday nights I have German class, and Dylan comes home early to watch the kids. I feel like the class is going quite well. We are a smaller group this semester, and since it's slightly more advanced, there are fewer people with no knowledge of German, so it moves a little faster. Normally we try to speak no English, which is necessary because not everyone in the class speaks English! Luckily I've gotten to the point where I can understand a decent amount, and can stumble my way through making some short sentences, so I'm not totally lost. It's interesting though, while I understand all, or nearly all the things my German teacher says, when I get out in the real world, I understand maybe 50% of what people say.   I would assume it's that way with all languages, it can either be spoken very simply and plainly like with a small child, or in a normal conversational adult way. I'm fairly certain though, that James' English is much better than my German!


Dylan is really enjoying his job lately. His been working on some different projects, and they've even had some progress with getting things to work, so that's great. He usually leaves the house between 8 and 9, and has been consistently coming home for dinner around 7. Our landlady loaned Dylan a bike, so he's been taking that to work every day and it has shortened his commute considerably. The 2.5 km which was taking him 20-30 minutes walking or 12-30 minutes riding the train (with waiting and walking), now takes just 7 minutes! Dylan has also joined a men's bible study at our church which meets at 6am Monday morning, meaning he leaves the house by 5:30. I applaud his dedication.

On the weekends we've been staying very low key. We have a small group with our church every other Sunday morning, and church every Sunday afternoon. Aside from those things we've mostly stayed in Garching, hanging out at the house, playing at playgrounds, or visiting the lovely little beer garden down the road from our house. 


Everyone always asks me whether James and David have started picking up more German. I think the answer is yes and no. It seems like James is understanding quite a bit more, but so far he does not speak German. I noticed the other day when I dropped him off while his teacher was shaking his hand she said (in German) "Oh wow James your fingers are so cold" and he responded (in English) "I know! That's because it's very windy outside and I don't have gloves." So he must understand some of what they say. His teacher told me he has started to add a few German words into his English sentences, like jacket, and shoes, etc. Words he hears a lot. Most days he'll come home and tell me some new word/phrase he's learned, but it's often not quite right. Still, he seems to be making progress. As for David, his English skills are fairly limited, so it's hard to say whether he's picking up German or not. I think he understands quite a lot, and he has come out with a few German words from time to time, but for the most part all the words he says are English, or Davidish ;-).

Over all, life is really good, and we're pretty content here. We've started to talk about a trip to visit the states, but no dates have been set yet, and it's hard to commit to something so potentially taxing and expensive. We miss everyone back home though, so we'll keep thinking about it ;-)



Friday, September 21, 2012

1st day of Kindergarten!



James had his first day of Kindergarten on Monday. Here in Germany "Kindergarten" is similar to preschool/pre-k/kindergarden in the US. Kids start at 3 and stay until they start 1st grade at 6. Typically kids will do three years of Kindergarten. Like preschool in the US, kindergarten is not required, but most children do start some sort of Kindergarten at 3. Because of this, we've had a hard time finding kids James' age to play with because they are all in school. Now that he is also in school, he gets a lot of time to socialize and be with other children his age, which is great for him because he's a very social little guy.

Here in Garching there are two options for Kindergarten. Private, religious Kindergartens, and Public state run Kindergartens. Both are in German only. A bilingual or english Kindergarten would be 30 minutes away in Munich, and very expensive. We chose a public Kindergarten that is very close to our house, and which is also very affordable. With public Kindergarten the minimum your child can sign up for is 4 hours a day, 5 days a week. I think you can choose to not take your child all of the days/the whole time, but it is not recommended. I heard a lot of horror stories about how difficult it is to get a Kindergarten spot, but we had no trouble at all. Maybe it's easier in a village rather than in the city.

Before we moved to Germany I heard a lot about how Kindergarten in Germany is not similar to preschool in the US because the focus is entirely on play, and not learning. I'm sure this varies from school to school, but at James' school, that is not the case. There is limited formal learning, they are not spending there whole day at a desk or anything, but for three year olds, I think the play/structure balance is very good. They start each morning with a circle time where they play little games/sing songs/talk about the weather, and the calendar, etc. There is also free play time, structured snack time, and play time outside. A few times week they have "duck land" where they go and learn about things like counting and letters. Once a week they also pull some children out to work on language development, and once a week they do a gymnastic class. They typically have some sort of theme to each week, like "forests" or "oceans" etc. In addition to all of that, they have so many educational toys that they do with the kids like puzzles, matching games, legos, etc. They also have art supplies available which the children are free to use. It seems like a very good balance of learning and play for children this age. Similar to a montessori approach in the US I think.

So far James seems to be really enjoying Kindergarten. He won't really tell me a lot about what he does each day, but overall he says he had fun and he likes going. David has two mornings a week now where he is home with Mom without James, and he seems to be a little confused by that, but he also enjoys having the run of the house a little bit, and it's a great time for him and I to focus on projects/activities that are really geared at his level.

(please excuse my inconsistencies with word capitalizations, learning German where you capitalize all nouns has me completely confused as to what nouns need to be capitalized in English)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Poing Wildpark

We've gone to Poing Wildpark twice now. It's really cool. Kind of like a zoo, but with only local types of animals, so far fewer different types of animals, and they're all more in their natural habitat. There are different kinds of sheep, goats, deer, ducks, birds, rabbits, wolves, pigs, and buffalo. Or at least animals that look very similar to those familiar sorts. You can buy animal food there and feed the different animals (most of them) which James gets a huge kick out of. This is kind of off topic, but thinking about the animal food reminded me; there are two words for food in German, one for animal food and one for people food. That's not that interesting, but what's funny to me is that baby food, uses the animal food name. Explains a lot about the way Germans think about kids. (totally kidding) Back to the Wildpark, there's also a nice little beer garden, and the most amazing playground I've ever seen. It kind of makes me wish I was a little kid. We took a bunch of photos this time, so I'll let them give you a better idea of what it's like.






















Thursday, August 23, 2012

Laundry and other updates

I've finally figured out the laundry situation. Thanks so much for all of your suggestions and help. It took me a while to figure out that making my loads to big was causing the totally drenched clothes issues. With the help of the suggestion of doing a "soak bucket" for heavily stained clothes (thanks Robin!) I've been able to wash all my clothes on the "Extra Kurz" 15 minute setting, and so a whole load costs only 1€ and I even get 5 minutes in the drier. On sunny days I can dry them outside, and on rainy/potentially rainy days in the winter garden. Today I did two loads, and they're currently hanging out to dry. It feels really good to have figured that out, and be able to just really enjoy our new apartment!

The fact that I could hang my clothes and then hang them on the drying rack was a total epiphany for me.

I have no idea what James was doing here, maybe pretending the clothes were mortal enemies or something, he kept trying to whack at them.

I'm still loving my bike and trailer! I've been getting much better at it, and have been having far fewer spills, etc. The boys seem to really like it, and in the hot weather, it seems much cooler to ride the bike to the grocery store than walk there at a (very, very slow) 3 year olds pace, so that's been great!

The boys are really starting to play more creatively. Most recently they've been doing a lot of hide and seek, and going for "adventures" (which requires backpacks and laundry basket boats).

Can you find them?

David doesn't have his own backpack, so he uses Dylan's. He doesn't know how to put it on himself, so I'm constantly having to put it back on him when it falls off! You can't see his feet because the bag is as tall as he is :-)

All in all we're doing pretty well. Only one more week till we have family come to visit, and less than a month till all of our activities and the kids' schools start back up!!








Friday, August 10, 2012

Biking

Ever since we moved here, I've debated back and forth about getting a bike for myself. Everyone here rides bikes, it's very biker friendly, and they're pretty useful, especially with a bike trailer for the kids. Buuuut... I haven't ridden a bike in 15 or so years, and honestly the idea was a little intimidating to me. Add that to the fact that we've been on a pretty strict budget, and I know nothing about bikes, and I just haven't gotten around to it. Since we've moved to the new apartment though, we're about twice as far from the large grocery store, and the big, nice playground that was so close to our other apartment. There also are a lot of places I'd like to go in the vicinity of our town, but they're too far to walk, and to close to take public transportation to (i.e.. public transportation does not go there without going into the city first).

Finally, last week I broke down and bought a used bike off of a local website. I had no idea what I was getting into! The first time I tried to ride it I promptly fell off, and David burst into tears he was so worried for me. The first couple times I rode it, it hurt my butt so bad I wasn't sure bike riding was going to be for me. And if those things were deterring enough, I seem to be constantly breaking things/using them incorrectly. It took some real getting used to, but now, a week  later, I'm feeling pretty comfortable with it. It's kind of like, well, like riding a bike!

After a few days of trying to get out a re-accustom myself to bike riding while Dylan watched the boys, I realized that I wasn't going to get in much riding if I couldn't take them with me. So, I ordered a bike trailer off the internet. I expected it to take 3-4 days to get here, and I didn't get an email stating it had been shipped, so I didn't stay home waiting for the package. The next day I had a notice in my mailbox that the package was waiting for me at the post office. Great...How do you a get a bike trailer home from the post office (about a mile away) when you have no car to put it in? To me the answer is obvious, you push it home, it has wheels after all. The problem with this? Well, obviously they don't come assembled. So what did I do? That's right, I assembled my new bike trailer at the post office (well outside, thank goodness it's summer!) with David on my back in a carrier and James "helping" me along. Good thing it was an easy assembly! The clerk at the post office looked at me like I was completely nuts when I told her that's what I was going to do, but whatever, it all worked out, and I'm now a proud owner of a bike and a bike trailer! I took the boys up to the big grocery store this morning, and a great time was had by all (I only fell off the bike once! pulling the trailer takes a little getting used to...)!

I'm pretty sure (if I accurately understood what our landlady told me in German) that Dylan will be getting a bike soon as well, and then we can all go for some family bike trips!



Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Every rose has it's thorns

We are loving the new apartment. Really loving it! The garden is lovely, the furniture is comfy, the big screen TV is perfect for watching the olympics, the hard floors (no more spills on the carpet!) are amazing, and the dishwasher has revolutionized the way I feel about being in the kitchen. We really, really like it. Of course, no apartment, or house, is without it's flaws. The biggest one here so far is the laundry. In Boulder we spent $1 for wash and $1 for dry to do our laundry. That seemed a little expensive/annoying to me but it was cheaper than the laundromat, so, whatever... Our last apartment had free laundry. Which would have been really nice if it wasn't so far away (3 flights of stairs and around the building). This apartment however, does not have free laundry. Nor is it $2 a load. The laundry here is 1€ for 20 minutes. A normal cotton wash with this machine is 2 hours (?!). That means 6€ (roughly $7.50) just to wash. Drying usually takes about 60 minutes, so that's another €3 for a total of 9€ for ONE load of laundry. There's absolutely no way I will spend that much on one load of laundry. I could almost buy new clothes for that much (well not really, but still...). So I've taken up line drying my clothes, and I've been washing them on the super short cycle. So far I've done three loads of laundry on the super short cycle (it says it takes 15 minutes, but actually takes 27, weird...) two of the three loads came out completely sopping wet. The other one was fine. I'm not sure what that's about, I'll have to look into it more I guess. The line drying has been fine. The super sopping wet load took a couple days to dry, the other one dried in an afternoon.

I have very little experience with any laundry washing that doesn't involve dumping into the washer and then transferring to the drier. There's a big square clothes line thing in the yard I've been using for drying the clothes, and I've just been hanging everything out there. I have no idea what I'll do in the winter. Are there enough sunny days in the winter to line dry your clothes? Do you really stand out there in the freezing cold and pin every shirt and pair of underwear up? What about weeks where it's rainy all week? I have a "winter garden" a kind of sunroom/porch thing that's all enclosed but with windows all around and on top. Would that be a good place to dry clothes? Or would it take years for them to get dry since it's inside? It's also pretty humid here, how is that going to effect things? Is there a way to make the super short cycle more efficient, like something I can add to make the clothes get cleaner faster? We're talking about pretty dirty little boy clothes.  These are all questions for, well, I guess for you. Surely there are some experienced launderers amongst my blog readers, right?! Email me, Facebook me, Skype me, comment, I need some serious help in this department!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

New apartment

These pictures are not fabulous, I haven't moved the camera stuff yet, so I just took them with my iPad, but this is the new apartment!

There are two bedrooms, a normal sized one for Dylan and I and a small one for the boys. The bathroom is huge, and the kitchen is big enough for a small table and chairs. The living room/dining room is big and sunny and there's a sun room/veranda and a big yard. So far were really liking it!!


Thursday, July 19, 2012

We're moving!

It looks like I'll be able to post pictures sooner than I thought. I decided to email them about the move in date, because you know, "the worst they can say is no". I asked if we could move in a few days before September first so we could be settled before Sandy, Brendan and Wes come to visit (August 29), and they're letting us move in Monday! That's so much better than I ever hoped for. Apparently the current tenant is going to be traveling a lot in the next months anyway, so he'll just stay in some temporary housing while he's here, and save himself the trouble of spending a whole months rent. We're so excited!!! I guess I should get to packing!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

New apartment

Eek!! I'm so excited! We just finished looking at an apartment that would be absolutely perfect for us. I'm sure you can tell from my earlier posts that we don't exactly love our current apartment, and it's probably affected our opinion of Germany. Anyway, this new apartment is just perfect, it's ground floor, all one level has a huge yard, a dishwasher, eat in kitchen, comfortable furniture, hard floors, just everything we could have imagined. It's a little more expensive than the place we have now, but I think it will be well worth it. It's even a little closer to the subway station and James' kindergarten. If all goes according to plan, we should be moving in September 1st. I can't wait to share pictures!!

Friday, July 6, 2012

We aren't on vacation

I know, I know, you all have known for quite some time that we are not on vacation. Clearly a move half way around the world (or a third) for 2-3 years is not a vacation. However, I've been living my life like it was. Or trying to make it one, or something.

We moved here with 6 pieces of luggage stuffed to the brim with clothes and toys. That is all. We got a furnished apartment, and  were lucky to have it come with dishes, towels, bedding etc. Sort of like a vacation condo. When you rent a vacation condo, and you don't have everything you need, you just tough it out. And that's ok, because you can live for a week, or two weeks, or even a month without muffin tins, or a blender, or a microwave, or whatever it is your vacation condo is lacking. However, when you move somewhere and it's supposed to be your home, and you find yourself constantly longing for your return trip to the US because "when we go back home I can have ice cubes and muffins again". Well, to you that might seem a bit ridiculous, but for me, that's what I've been doing. For some reason I had it in my head that we couldn't buy anything that is not "absolutely necessary" and so even though it's a huge pain, we haven't had a microwave, or a freezer, or muffin tins, or cookie sheets, or a comfortable piece of furniture to sit on. (plus like a million other things, you get the idea) That's ok. Honestly if we were still in Boulder, I think it would be a good exercise for us to live more simply and eliminate some unnecessary things. However, when you've just moved to a new country, it's a little different. Moving is stressful enough without trying to radically alter your lifestyle as well. I don't want our time here to be something I have to "get through" counting down the days till I can return to all the comforts associated with "home". We need to make this place one that is comfortable and inviting. Because for now, this is where we're at. This needs to be "home".

This week I bought a freezer, and a microwave. They have revolutionized my life. I had almost forgotten how handy it is to heat up lunch in just a few seconds, and let me tell you, on a hot day, nothing beats a glass of ice water!


Yep, the freezer and microwave are in the living room, because there's no room in the kitchen. But you know, it is TOTALLY worth it!


mmmm.... cold and delicious.

So a tip, for anyone thinking about making a big relocation type of move. Everything outside your home will be different, so try to keep your home as comfortable and "homey" as you can. It really helps the homesickness if you don't upheave every little thing in your life all at once. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Update

Sorry I've gone so long without posting a good update. Life's been busy I guess! We're doing well. The "honeymoon" phase has worn off, and we're starting to settle into regular life, which has been hard. Harder than we expected, but it's good. We mostly like it here, and we're figuring ways to enjoy it more/appreciate it better all the time.

Dylan is really liking his job. The hours are a little more relaxed than they were in Boulder which means he gets to spend lots of time at home, and we get to do a lot of fun things on the weekends.

James is doing really well. He's excited to go to Kindergarten (German preschool) in the fall. For now he's really enjoying Kinderpark twice a week, and being in his "big boy class" at church. He's recently been really interested in bible stories, and his favorite right now is David and Goliath. You can frequently find him pretending one of his toys is a "slinky" (sling shot) and heading off to get Goliath. He's also really into his pirate playmobils and sword fighting! He completely gave up naps a few months ago, so during nap time he's learning how to play quietly with toys that aren't as well suited to David (play-doh, markers, playmobils, etc.) which he seems to really enjoy.

David is changing every day it seems. He still doesn't have a ton of words, but he's starting to use the words he knows more and more, and he's getting better at communicating what he wants and needs. Today he brought me an empty cup and pulled on my hand till I followed him to the kitchen, once there he pointed at the refrigerator indicating he wanted a drink. I handed him his sippy cup full of milk and he started gesturing, and shaking his head, and telling me "nein, nein" (his one german word!) making it very clear that he wanted his milk not in his sippy cup, but in the "big boy cup" he had initially given me. Once I gave him a drink in the big cup (against my better judgement!) he went away very pleased with his successful interaction! He's also very busy, constantly running full speed around the house which leads to him nearly constantly having a bump on the middle of his forehead. Poor little guy! He and James are really becoming the best of friends, of course they fight like all siblings, but they also really love and enjoy each other, and play together nicely. Yesterday I was in the kitchen cleaning up, and I heard so much squealing coming from the other room I thought someone must be hurt. I rushed in to find James crawling around on the floor and David "riding" on his back and squealing in delight. So precious!

I am doing really well most of the time. I still get really homesick occasionally, but aside from that I really like it here. I've made a few new friends recently, and that has been really encouraging. I'm also enjoying my German class which is wrapping up next week, and I'm hoping to start a new class in the fall. I started taking the boys to an English speaking women's bible study at our church once a week, and that's really helped feel more connected and plugged in at church, which is great.

I'm going to make an effort to update more often, and I finally charged up my camera batteries, so maybe I'll post some pictures as well!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Marionette theater

It seems like some sort activity or event is always going on in the town we live in. It makes it a really fun place to live. There are always signs plastered all over town for a few weeks, and then some fair or festival takes place. There was an Easter Festival with an oomph band, a children's choir, tons of stalls, and a small ferris wheel. Then for May Day there was a big to-do for raising the Maibaum (may pole), then there was the Hambourger Fischmarkt, which had nothing to do with fish and everything to do with weird cheap clothes, purses and household goods.

A few weekends ago there was a Marionette theater. (I'm a little behind on the blog!) The signs had been up for weeks, so James was really anticipating the "puppet" show for long time. On Saturday morning it was all he could talk about. Every 10 minutes or so he would ask me if we could go to the puppet show yet. Since it didn't start until 4:00pm, this made for a very long morning, but we made it through. Finally 3:30 rolled around and James and I headed out for the puppet show. We decided to leave David at home with Daddy, because I knew he wouldn't be able to sit still for more than a few minutes, and I thought it would be something special for James and I to do together.. It was a really special little "date" for us.  It took place in a field near our house, so we could walk there without the stroller. The theater was set up by a traveling Marionette Theater group, and they had set up a big tent where the show would be. There was a little stage, and a concessions stand. The whole thing was really cute. Before the actual marionette show a little boy who was maybe 9 or 10 came out to introduce the show. I couldn't really understand much of what he said, but you could tell he had memorized his lines perfectly, and it was really darling. I'm pretty sure that he was part of the family that owned the puppet theatre, everything had a "family run"sort of feel to it.

The show we went to was the Rumpelstilzchen (Rumpelstiltskin) marionette show, and then a "Magic Puppet Show" where a bunch of marionettes came out and danced around, and juggled, and other cool things. I was afraid that we wouldn't enjoy the show very much because of the language barrier, but even though we couldn't understand much of what they said, you could tell what was going on, and it was really fun to watch. I let James get a soda and some popcorn from the concessions stand (he went up and bought it all by himself, ADORABLE!), and the whole thing was a pretty fun time!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Happy Birthday!!!

James' birthday is today! We celebrated yesterday, and had lots of fun. Here are some pictures!


All of the presents, ready to be opened. We somehow ended up with clear cellophane instead of wrapping paper (it looked exactly like silver wrapping paper!), and since we celebrated on the holiday weekend, when no stores were open, we had to make do. I used packing paper from our amazon packages to wrap the gifts. It worked out just fine, good thing kids aren't picky.


James playing his new guitar from Conga and Poppy, we got David a little guitar as well so James would be able to enjoy his!


Playing with a play-doh pizza kit on their new table and chairs!


Building a block tower with new duplos from (great) Aunt Vicki!


Playing with his playmobil fortress from Uncle Brendan! (the cannon really works!)


Pirate ship sand toy from (great) Aunt Judy! We took it to the lake and let him float it in the water. So fun!

Thanks everyone for the wonderful gifts!!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Alles gute zum Geburtstag!

James' third birthday is on Tuesday. He's really excited, we been talking about it for months. We don't really know enough people here to have a party for him, so I wanted to take a cake to his "school". Of course, they are having vacation (it seems like every other week over here is school holiday!) next week, so we brought a cake to the kinderpark today. He was so proud of his cake, and was very excited to share it with the other children. The teachers (though they aren't called teachers in German, they're called something else that means roughly "child minders") Made him a special little crown, and lit three candles for him, and they all sang lots of birthday songs to him during snack time (I think they were birthday songs, because they would periodically have his name, or the word geburtstag in them). Including "Happy birthday" in English, apparently they know that song, even though they don't speak English. he kept telling me that it was his favorite birthday party ever. I'm pretty sure it's the only one he can really remember, but still, so cute! I meant to bring my camera and get some pictures, but of course I forgot, so I took this one when we got home. (David did not want to be left out of the photo!)


Baking over here has been quite an adventure for me. Luckily I'm used to baking things from scratch, because they do not have the same kinds of boxed mixes and pre-made frosting tubs that we have back in the US. I still have a hard time though, because I don't have American measuring cups, or baking pans. I went to the store yesterday to find a standard 9x13 pan, or really any largish rectangular pan, but there was nothing like that all. There were lots of long skinny pans kind of like bread pans, and then tons of round ones. I wanted a rectangle though, because I wanted do the classic sheet cake that you leave in the pan with frosting only on the top (so much easier!). I lucked out yesterday, because I ran into a Scottish friend, who has an assortment of pans, and let me borrow her 9x13! It always kind of a guessing game using the european measuring cups (they're in mL), but it seemed to work out ok this time, the cake was really good! Last week I made some really delicious lemon cookies, and then I went to make some more when they were gone, and they turned out completely different, so I guess it's just kind of the luck of the draw when your estimating your measurements with baking. 

Anyway, we're doing well (and are still alive!). I'll hopefully post an update about James' birthday celebration after his actual birthday next week.

Friday, May 11, 2012

May day

The first of May is a big holiday over here. Apparently in the North it means riots and protests, but down here it's much calmer. There were lots of maypoles, and parades of people all dressed up in traditional outfits. Everyone got a day off work, and since it fell on a Tuesday, Dylan got Monday and Tuesday off work. Over the long weekend we went for a little mini-vacation with our friends Jeff and Sara who were visiting. 

We stayed on a lovely little farm in the Bavarian countryside, and while we were there we visited Salzburg (birthplace of Motzart), Chiemsee (a big lake with a cool island and a castle in the middle) and some small country villages. It was a really fun time. Jeff and Sara took some awesome pictures throughout the weekend.



We did a fair share of riding regional trains, and the boys were great sports!



There were sheep, goats and horses on the farm where we stayed. David LOVED the animals and would point and grunt (what he does instead of talking) whenever one came within sight.



It was so beautiful where we stayed, and the weather was fabulous, exactly what you imagine when you hear "Bavarian countryside".



Walking up the streets of Salzburg to the fortress.



Marionette museum inside the Salzburg fortress.



Sound of music! That's me and James as Maria and Kurt :-)



Salzburg fortress.



View of Salzburg from the fortress.



Dylan and David watching the parade on May day.



May day parade.