Sunday, January 20, 2013


I keep wanting to post, but I'm so busy with my class, and by the end of the day I don't always have enough mental energy to come up with something interesting to blog about.

Things are moving along with my class. I actually enjoy it most of the time. I feel like my German learning is really accelerating, which is cool. I'm still not totally happy with the childcare for David. He's doing better, but still not amazing, so I'm looking into what other options might be out there. Originally I liked the idea of spending the time with him to and from the class, but I'm starting to feel like that more a frustrating period for both of us than it is quality time together. He does well usually on the way in, but by the time we're heading back home he's tired, and hungry and cranky, and there's often not enough seats on the train for us to sit down, so it's just difficult. If I can find him some type of Childcare in our town I might do that. If not I guess we'll just keep on plugging along!

This week has been really cold and snowy. On Thursday after a long day of pushing my lightweight stroller through the snow taking David to my class and back, I picked James up from the kindergarten. As I was pushing with all my weight to get the stroller through the slush on the way home, James said, "Mommy, I love snow and winter so much, I hope it can be winter forever!" Needless to so say, in that moment (and most moments) I really didn't agree. We had a little conversation about how two people can completely disagree about something but still love each other and be good friends. I'm really grateful for all the time James gets to play outside at the kindergarten, because neither David nor I are particularly big fans of of spending lots of time out in the cold!

I should have pictures to share of all the snow, or something, but I've been really, really bad about taking pictures lately. Maybe my next post will be all pictures, I'll work on it!

Saturday, January 12, 2013


Since becoming a stay at home mom 3.5 years ago, I haven't really experienced a "weekend" in the typical sense. My weekends tend to be more or less the same as the rest of my week. I wake up at the same time in the morning, I do basically the same activities, and since Dylan often works at least part days on the weekend, there's really no change.

After a somewhat hectic, crazy week between starting my new class, David starting a new daycare, and James extending his preschool hours, this weekend has been a very welcome respite from our new hectic schedule. I've had to wake James up every day this week, and he's been tired and cranky and begged for just a little more sleep. Last night when I told him that he could sleep in today, his face lit up in the biggest grin. "Really? Do you mean it Mommy? I don't have to get up before it's light outside? I can sleep as long as I want? Yes!" My feelings exactly! We all slept in until 8:30 this morning, and it was heavenly! James didn't even put on pants until well after noon! Hopefully this little rest will help me to feel recharged for next week. I wasn't expecting this course to take quite so much out of me, but it's really exhausting for me to spend so much of my time in "learning" mode. Hopefully I will adjust soon!

Dylan snapped this picture of James today, and I think it pretty much sums up our Saturday!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

First Day

Yesterday was the first day of my new integration course. I had a wide spectrum of expectations ranging from something I would absolutely love, to something I would totally hate. The course fell somewhere in the middle of those, but probably further toward the good end of things.

I was hoping there would be a full-on daycare facility similar to David's Kinderpark, with tons of awesome, age appropriate toys, games and activities, and lovely garden for warm days. When I got there I followed some mothers with tots into a smallish plain room with a wooden floor. There were a few mats stacked up to the sides, and a few small wooden chairs, and that was it. Once they childcare woman arrived she pulled out a small table and set the chairs around it and then unrolled a rug and dumped a big box of Duplo out on the rug.  Not exactly fulfilling my wildest hopes and dreams, but the caregivers seemed very kind and the kids (who have been with this course for many months already) seemed to be generally happy to be there, so it definitely could have been worse.

Their were 8 kids and 2 child minders, so that seems like a good ratio. All of the children were between 1 and 3. The classroom for the mothers was across the hall from the children's room, so I got the pleasure of listening to David wail for the first half hour and then intermittently throughout the rest of the class. That's always pretty tough as a mom, but I'm hoping it's just part of adjusting to a new place and this will improve with time. It seemed like he bonded with one of the caregivers a little bit, so maybe next time will be better.

The class itself was neither too easy nor too hard. I learned a few new things, but I felt like they were things I could have learned in 5-10 minutes, and we spent over an hour on them. The "integration" aspect of things was also included. She spent a long time explaining to us about how tipping works at a restaurant, and what appropriate behavior is when someone invites you to their home. While I don't necessarily feel I need to be taught what percentage of the bill to tip at a restaurant, I do think it's good for me to have so much exposure to someone speaking German at a simple enough level that I can understand most of what they're saying, and as a friend of mine pointed out, it would be pretty miserable if they spend 3.5 hours just going over grammar.

Overall I would say doing this course will be a positive thing for me. Hopefully for David as well. I am praying that he would adjust well and find his time there stimulating and enjoyable.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Potty Training

I think I have completely lost my marbles! After a series of failed life changes when James was about 2 (taking away the binky, switching to a big boy bed, etc.) I (supposedly) learned my lesson and vowed I would not make the mistake of giving the kids too many big life changes at once. I decided months ago that during this christmas break I would either tackle potty training, or weaning (from breastfeeding) with David. I went back and forth, and finally decided potty training was the better (easier) option. While I could wean David without a long break from daycare, potty training really requires a lot of one on one focused time at home.

The Saturday before Christmas, I half heartedly started the potty training process. I didn't really want to deal with it honestly, but I felt like I should at least give it a good effort and see how he would react. My method of potty training is very similar to the "potty training in a day", or "potty training bootcamp" methods. I like to get it over with as quickly as possible. The first day of potty training went way better than I had expected. David had three accidents, and probably 10 or 15 tiny pees in the potty. It was successful enough that I was motivated to keep going the next day. The next day was something like 4 accidents and 3 successes. By the evening of the second day I was getting a little tired of the whole thing, so I put David into a diaper as we were getting ready for bed. About a half hour later, he came up to me pulling on his diaper and saying "uhpa, uhpa" (his word for potty). I assumed he was confused and meant something else, but I took him to the bathroom, and what do you know? He peed! The next morning, he woke, and did the same thing, his diaper was dry, and he peed in the toilet first thing in the morning. From that day on, he's done really well, I don't have to ask him, and he tells me when he needs to go, and with the exception of times when I don't get him there fast enough, and #2, he's been accident free. We're still working on #2, but he's getting more aware every day, and it's typical for that to take longer to really click.

So I know what you're thinking, that sounds great, right?! Why am accusing myself of missing marbles? Well, here's the thing. He will tell ME when he needs to pee, but only me. Not his babysitter, and not the ladies in the nursery. I just can't imagine that the childcare at my integrations course is going to be particularly happy with me bringing in a half potty trained, english speaking, 24 month old in underwear. Furthermore, potty training and starting a new daycare are both big life changes, which totally breaks my "no two big life changes at once" rule. Which means there will probably be massive regression when he starts daycare. Which means, I will probably have to start all over again when the course is over in August. Sigh... I will learn someday, right? And it's better if he's potty trained at home than not at all, right?  Well, if nothing else, at least it's given me a sense of purpose for the Christmas break!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


I few months ago I received a letter from the German government. When I first received it, I skimmed over it, and was able to understand that it said something about an integrations course, registration, and some fast approaching dates. I understood that they were either telling me, if I wanted to take an integrations course I needed to register soon, or that I had to take the course and needed to register soon. I took the letter to a German speaking friend, and she assured me that they were telling me I was required to register for the course, but she also assured me that it must be some sort of misunderstanding, and if I would just tell them how well I was already integrating, and that I was taking a German course already, they would let me off the hook. A few weeks later ( I am so bad about dealing with this sort of thing) I sent an email asking if I could be excused due to the above stated reasons. A few weeks went by and I received no answer. I assumed they had agreed with me and had decided not to pursue it further. It might seem really silly that I would assume that, but back in February when we had applied for our residence permits they had told me that the course was optional for me and not required. The day before we left for our trip to the US, I finally got an email back from the Ladratsamt (district office) Informing me that no, I most definitely was not exempt, and yes, I most definitely did need to register for an integration course. He would send me some information in the mail. This was stressful, but I was heading to US the next day so I decided not to worry about it and wait till we were back to deal with whatever he was going to send me in the mail.

After a blissful 3 weeks in the US during which I spoke no German whatsoever, and hardly even thought about German, or Germany, I came home to a letter and a bunch of integration course fliers from the Landratsamt. We arrived back in Germany on December 11th. The letter I received informed me the next test at my local school was on December 12th, and that I needed to find a course and register for it by December 20th! I was jet lagged and miserable, but I went ahead and took the placement test the next day. The results were simultaneously good and bad. The woman administering the test felt that my German was quite good (yay!) but, unfortunately, that meant the course offered locally would be an inappropriate level. And while my German was much to good to take a course meant for people who spoke no German at all, it's still much, much too bad to test out of the integrations course altogether. With no course available in my town, I was forced to search for a course in the city. Of course, I can't just take any course, it has to be a specific government approved integrations course, and it has to have child care, because I can not get into the city, complete a course and get back in the amount of time that I have David at Kinderpark.

After a ton of internet research, I was able to find an organization that offers these courses for women, and include child care. There next placement tests were on December 20th (talk about cutting it close!) After a long afternoon including 4 tests with this organization, I was finally able to be placed in a course which includes child care. The course is 3 days a week, 4 hours a day. It's about a 45minute train trip from our house, so I will be gone roughly 6 hours a day, 3 days a week. James will have to extend his hours in kindergarten, and David will be in a new daycare.

I would be lying if I said I was totally happy about this. On the one hand I know it will be good for my German, and probably just good for me in general, but I feel like 6 hours a day is a long time for James to be in kindergarten at 3 years old. And honestly it's a little frustrating to me that I don't have any choice in it. I feel like if I want to stay home with my children, and raise them myself, I should have the freedom to do that. I understand the reasoning behind making this type of course mandatory, but it's just a little too intrusive for my taste. That being said, I'm trying my hardest to have a good attitude about the whole thing, and I will do my best to make the most of the opportunity. I can see God's hand in the way everything has worked out with all of this, and so I am (trying to be) trusting him that this will be a wonderful experience for all of us.

The course starts January 8th, so just 6 days from today. It's going to be a BIG change for our little family, I would really appreciate your prayers that everything works out, and it doesn't end up being too overwhelming. I can barely finish my housework now, with 3 morning a week at home by myself with the kids in school, so I really don't know how it's going to go once the class starts up!