Thursday, March 28, 2013

Growing up - part 1

This post and the next one are specifically for those of you back home who are particularly interested in how James and David are changing, and who will enjoy hearing about mundane details in their little lives. So probably about three of you ;-) If your not interested, feel free to skip this one. It will probably include lots of shameless bragging, because I so proud of my little guys, it's kind of hard to contain it at times!

This post is dedicated to James, I promise to come back and talk about David in the next day or so. James is now 3 years and 10 months old. I can't believe how much he's changed in the last few months.  Some of his most recent accomplishments include:

Brushing his own teeth- A dentist came and visited James school about a month ago, and ever since he's been a total teeth brushing pro. He carefully scrubs every tooth, and even spits out the toothpaste and rinses afterwards!

Doing his own baths/showers- I still keep and eye on him in the bath, but he know how to run the water himself, wash himself, and get out and dry himself. It's so cute!

Sitting through 30+ minutes of a chapter book without pictures- not only can he do this, but he enjoys it. It's so fun to read to him!

Responding appropriately to strangers in public- A few months ago James would totally clam up anytime a stranger looked at or spoke to him, but he's really maturing. I was so impressed today, we were riding on the train together, and he dropped his water bottle. A gentleman sitting next to him picked it up for him. I expected him to take it shyly without thanking the man, but instead he took and said very clearly "Danke!" he didn't only realize that he needed to thank the man, but also that since we weren't at home he needed to speak German. This was unexpected for me because he rarely speaks any German to me at all.

Putting himself to bed- This one we're still working on, but yesterday I told him he's growing up now and needs to go lay in his bed by himself for a little while (usually Dylan or I lay with him until he falls asleep, which can be counterproductive), and he went ahead and did and went to sleep without any whining or getting up over and over, such a change from when we tried that 6 months ago.

Changing his clothes- He's fully capable of picking out his own clothes, and undressing and redressing himself.

Entertaining himself- He will seriously entertain himself (and David) for hours and hours coming up with little games to play, adventures to have, etc. It's really awesome. Yesterday they fought bears in the kitchen, and the day before that they went on a camping trip in the living room.

Getting up and getting his own breakfast- Nothing fancy, but on the weekends if Dylan, David and I are sleeping in, he'll go to the kitchen and get himself a bowl of cereal with milk, or a yogurt and banana, and then he'll entertain himself and let us keep sleeping. (this is a new development, I used to always have to wake him up, but for whatever reason he's shifted his schedule a little earlier in the last few weeks)

He's started to be so aware of things- 6 months ago he would tell me people were speaking english to him, that most definitely were not, but now he seems to have a real handle on what it means to be speaking english or german, or spanish (his best friend in Kindergarten is from Mexico). Today we were on the train, and a few seats away were some American women having a conversation. James leaned over to me and whispered, "Mommy, those ladies are speaking ENGLISH."

This list is by no means exhaustive, I'm sure I'll think of a million more things as soon as I post it, but that's probably enough for now. He's really just maturing so much, it's hard to even describe it in a blog post. He never ceases to amaze me!

I'll try to add more photos tomorrow, this one is him "cutting his own hair."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Easter Break

I'm not sure exactly what I'm trying to say, so it might come out kind of muddled, but anyway...

This week and next are our Easter break. My class is cancelled, David's kinderpark is closed and James' Kindergarten is half staffed this week and closed next, so I decided to keep him home both weeks. Last year I totally dreaded these weeks of Easter break. The stores are closed a lot (Good Friday, Easter, Easter Monday). With the kids activities cancelled and not a lot of things to do, these times of "break" can feel really lonely and boring. This year however, is quite different. I am so thankful for two weeks off from my class. As much as I like learning German, it's nice to feel like I have a little time to relax, get things done around the house, and spend time with my boys.

Today, I also saw Easter break in a bit of a new light. When I have two weeks off before Christmas, I don't dread that. I fill the time with baking Christmas cookies, planning and wrapping gifts, watching Christmas movies, decorating for Christmas, etc. Why is Easter not like that? As a christian, Easter is equally if not more significant than Christmas. And yet, so far, in our family (Me, Dylan & the Kids), it passes each year, barely noted. We've done ham dinners, and the last few years an easter egg hunt with the kids, but overall, it has not been a holiday we've devoted a lot of time or attention to. Today I decided it's time for that to change. I want to start some Easter traditions as a family that will help point us toward the meaning of Easter. I want to make Easter decorations, and read stories, and watch movies about Easter. Thankfully, with two weeks off from school, I have time to make that happen. Today the boys and I watched a bible story video about the Easter story (not a very good one though, anyone have some suggestions?). James had so many questions for me, and I really enjoyed the chance to discuss with him what we believe and why. I didn't realize he was old enough to have so many questions and so much understanding.

I am so grateful for this time, and I am so looking forward to all the years of celebrating Easter that our family has ahead of us. I'm excited to come up with some traditions that we can look forward to every year, and to spend this time really considering the sacrifice that Jesus made for us, and what it means in our lives. We are truly so blessed!

I am still looking for ideas for cool Easter traditions to start, so any of your have suggestions, please share them here or on my Facebook, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Stomach flu ;-(

We've been hit by the stomach flu the last two weeks, so I haven't had a lot to post about. David got it first, and so I was home from class last week Tuesday and Thursday, then Friday he was finally better, and I woke up to a text message that my class was cancelled because the teacher was sick! Over the weekend, I was feeling pretty bad, and then Sunday night James woke up covered in vomit! Monday, James stayed home from school, but seemed better by the afternoon. Tuesday morning I got James up and ready for school, and just as I was preparing to send him out the door with Dylan, he threw up his whole breakfast. So I stayed home again from my class yesterday. Today everyone seems to finally be healthy, and hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to resume my class for Thursday and Friday. After Friday we all have two weeks off for Easter break. I'm hoping to find lots of fun stuff to do with the boys so we don't drive each other crazy sitting around the house all day. I'm also praying for good weather, as that always makes a big difference!

Today the weather is absolutely sunny and gorgeous, but it's supposed to be cold again tomorrow and for the foreseeable future.

Ok, sorry for such a boring post, I'll come up with something more interesting for the next one!!

Sunday, March 3, 2013


On Monday we headed into the city with David for our third attempt at applying for our drivers licenses. We won't be completely sure until we actually have our German licenses in hand, but for now I'm calling this third trip a success! It took us an hour on the subway to get to this new Drivers license Amt (what is that called in English? Agency? It seems like all the government type things are called "Amt's"), much to our delight there was no line, and limited paperwork to fill out. The girl helping us spoke some English so we were able to complete the whole process in a kind of English/German conversation. The whole thing took about 20 minutes and 50€. Supposedly we will have be able to go pick up our new licenses in 5-6 weeks. I really can't wait! I think a car will make our lives to much easier for certain things. We attend a small group with our church, which we absolutely love, but the commute for us by train/foot is an hour and a half including 19 agonizing minutes of standing on the train platform because we miss our connection by a minute! With a car we'll be able to get to small group in less than a half hour, and we won't have to endure the end of the day, cranky, tired, David  on our trip home from church on Sunday nights!

My German class continues to go well. I feel like I'm really getting better at understanding German all the time, and I'm even able to make some complete sentences when I'm feeling really brave. This week I wrote numerous emails in German with only a tiny bit of help from google translate (for translating words I don't know, I've found google translate to be worthless for questions of grammar/sentence structure.) On Wednesday a gentleman from our church came over for dinner, and we spent a good 10-15 minutes having a conversation in German which was great. I'm trying to be more confident and just go for it with speaking, because when I do it's like I can feel my self getting better by the minute. It's one thing to know how to say stuff in your head, but you have to say it out loud a lot of times before it starts coming out the way you want it to. I still have a loooong way to go though. I tried to talk to the non-english speaking teacher at James' kindergarten this week, and I told her a gift we had given her was for "his baby" (sein Baby) instead of "your baby" (ihr Baby) sigh, it's not that I don't know the correct word, it's just in the moment I get all flustered and the wrong stuff comes out! The whole formal/informal thing always really messes me up. I know I'm not supposed to use informal with James' teachers, but I never practice the formal, so I end up using the completely wrong form! Luckily they're generally patient and forgiving, but still, it's frustrating. It gives me a little window into what things must be like for David.

Speaking of David, he's talking so much now. It's adorable. He still doesn't speak in sentences, but he'll string all these words together with lots of "filler" in between, kind of like a cross between grunting and saying um. Last week he fell at the Kinderpark (first big accident we've had, stressful!!) and cut his head open so one of his teachers drove us to the local Doctor. We were afraid he'd need stitches, but luckily just a few butterfly strips was sufficient. Anyway, now if you ask him about his head he'll say. Uh, uh, uh, head, uh, uh, uh, ouch, uh, uh, cah, uh, uh, uh, doctah, uh, uh, ban-ban (bandaid). I can't really give it justice in writing, but it's really adorable. Anyway, I can relate, I think that's kind of what I sound like in German, so I bet he's got all kinds of perfectly formed well thought out sentences floating around in his little head!

James continues to do well at kindergarten. A new boy started in the new year, and they've become fast friends. I'm really glad, because before that James mostly had only older, girl friends at school. His new friend is from Mexico and at the moment speaks no German or English, so they have no common language at all, but they still seem to love playing together! I'm not sure their friendship is the best for James' German development, but I'm really glad he has a friend, and the mother of his friend speaks English, so I've really enjoyed getting to know her! 

As long as I'm updating on everyone, I may as well do Dylan too! He's doing really well. Things seem to be ticking right along at work, which is great. He's working longish hours, but nothing ridiculous, and he still has lots of time for the kids, and they really enjoy him. James and David both come running to the door every evening when they hear Dylan's keys turn in the lock. 

We really can't complain about much these days, God is blessing us richly, and we are thankful for his presence in our lives!