My kids had their first day back at kindergarten today. It's James' first day as a Vorschulkind (literally "preschool" kid, similar to the kindergarten year in the US) He was very proud. I haven't gotten full reports from them on how the day went, but I thought I would share some pictures!
Sometimes when I take a really long break from blogging, I feel kind of embarrassed to come back, like it's only illuminating what a bad job I've done in the past months. Oh well.
My last post was in May. Since then Dylan parents went back home and James turned 5. (how did that happen!!) In July we had some surprise visitors who were friends of a friend. They stayed with us for a few days and made fast friends with James and David. That was fun. James and David also had their kindergarten Olympics, where their kindergarten competed again other kindergartens in our town in various "sports" like soccer, wheelbarrow racing, and tug-of-war. James played on the soccer team for his school, and they got 2nd place out of 4 in the tournament. Dylan and I both found it comical that James was more upset about losing, than the fact that he didn't get a chance to play at all in the second game!
In August the kids started their summer vacation from kindergarten. The kindergarten takes 3 weeks off plus 2 weeks which are optional. Most parents keep their kids out the whole time since the older kids are out for 6 corresponding weeks, but James and David went for part of the week last week, and there were still several kids there. This week the boys are back at home, and next week they'll officially start the 2014-2015 school year. James will be a "vorschulkind" this year, which is similar in substance to kindergarten in the US, but different in that they are still in the same class with 3 and 4 year olds (at our kindergarten, not at all of them), and still in the same place they've been the last two years. Kids start elementary school at 6 years old with grade 1.
Our weather hasn't been very nice recently, so we've spent a lot of time at home. I've been pretty bad about taking photos, and writing things down for the blog. As we enter our last three months here(!) I'll try to do a little better. Here are some photos!
James is about in the center running around the field in a red and white shirt. This is at the run-through for the olympics. I guess I didn't get any pictures on the actual day.
James and David modeling their new T-shirts from Nana and Granpa.
Daddy's birthday presents, they wrapped them themselves.
We've been going on a lot of "nature walks" when it's not raining and I get tired of being cooped up inside. For some reason James felt he needed to bring a sword on this particular day.
We had a lovely trip to Paris over the weekend with Dylan's parents and the kids. We got to see the Eiffel tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, and Notre Dame among other things. We enjoyed some fabulous french food, and even had one day of amazing weather! The kids behaved really well on the train both ways (about 7 hours) and were great troopers about all the sightseeing we crammed into just a few days. Dylan and I enjoyed a really great night out to dinner while Conga and Poppy watched the kids, and it was just all around a fabulous time! I was really bad about taking pictures, but here a few I got with my phone:
Poppy trying to get a full length shot of the Eiffel tower, hilarious!!
James feeling silly about wearing the Eiffel tower on his head.
A selfie of David and I on the tour bus.
James, David and Dylan at the Jardin du Luxembourg.
The "pay" playground in the Jardin du Luxembourg (2.50€ a kid!)
Tiny James in a big playground!
James at the top of an incredibly high climbing rope structure
Dylan's parents just boarded there flight back to Colorado after 2.5 lovely weeks of having them here. We enjoyed all the sights around Garching and Munich, and then the last weekend of their visit we took a train to Paris, which was really cool.
While they were here Poppy taught James how to ride a bike without training wheels, which has opened up a whole new world of possibilities. He's been riding his bike too and from kindergarten, and it clearly brings him a lot of joy!
Conga and Poppy also taught James how to whistle, which he thinks is just super awesome, and practices all the time!
We celebrated a surprise birthday party for James 5th birthday almost one week before his actual birthday, he was pretty surprised!! Today is his real birthday and tomorrow he'll celebrate with his friends at school.
It took David a little longer to warm up to Dylan's parents than it did James, but once he did, he really enjoyed them. He was pretty upset this morning when it was time for them to leave for the airport.
All in all it was a really excellent visit, and we're all looking forward to the end of the year when we'll be back in Colorado with family again!
Out to lunch in Garching
Out to lunch in Garching
Riding the train into Munich
Riding the train into Munich
Dylan giving a tour of the lab (not his lab exactly) to his parents
Easter morning today started out with James giving David a long talking to about how there is actually NO easter rabbit. We've never particularly encouraged or strongly discouraged the concept of the easter bunny, so I thought the whole exchange was quite hilarious. David was a little disappointed but he took it like a champ. The boys went to play soccer with Dylan while I hid the eggs and they had a great time searching for them. It's actually the first time we've had the weather for an outdoor easter egg hunt since James was 1! Their searching skills have improved significantly since then. This afternoon we plan to get dressed up in our new easter outfits and go to church. I'll hopefully manage to get some pictures of the boys in their matching bow ties!!
After the easter egg hunt the boys enjoyed an Easter Jam session!
We went to the zoo yesterday with some friends. The weather was a bit chilly which meant the zoo wasn't overcrowded. The boys behaved marvelously and we had a great time! (sorry for the lack of face shots, they were always looking at the animals for some reason…)
Thursday was my 29th birthday. It feels somehow monumental because I have so many memories of friends declaring 29 as their last birthday ever. I had one friend that celebrated her 29th birthday well into her 30's! I guess I'll do my best to enjoy this last year of my 20's and make the most of it!
I had a great day including coffee out with a friend, shopping, a birthday party with the kids and another friend, and a movie night with Dylan at home. I'm very thankful to all my friends and family back home who sent gifts, and messages. I felt very loved!
My Fancy Birthday Frappuccino!!
The spread at my afternoon birthday party!! So blessed to have good friends!
It's funny how what's "normal" to me now, would have been an exotic, interesting part of a vacation 3 years ago. Today I went out for coffee and bible study with a few friends in the city. I didn't get any good pictures, but I'm posting them anyway, because I want to remember what the city looks like, and while it just seems normal to me now, there's a small chance it's interesting to you ;-)
A tram stop
The cafe where we had coffee
A fruit stand across the street
Our coffee. I love the little heart in my cappuccino, and the tubs of whipped cream!
I haven't been posting very regularly. Mostly because I feel like life has settled into such a rhythm that while things are good, and we're happy, nothing seems particularly interesting, or exotic, or noteworthy. Today it occurred to me that we're experiencing a lot of "lasts" in Germany right now. Our last spring, our last Easter, and so on. From that perspective, I want to document these things, and remember them after we're gone. This might mean a lot more pictures, and less writing. We'll see. Warm spring days (And we've been having an exceptionally high number of those) in Germany are looking like this lately:
James climbing the plum tree in our backyard!
David didn't get quite as high.
James is becoming quite the little climber lately!
Freshly washed clothes drying out on the line is one of my favorite parts of the nice weather!
This tree in our yard just popped out with tons of beautiful blossoms last week!
The view from our freshly cleaned windows. Having south facing is windows is really nice, but they sure do show every smudge on sunny days!
After two interviews and lots of waiting and wondering we finally have an official answer for where and when Dylan will be starting his next job. He received offers from both places he interviewed, but we have decided to go with the second offer. Dylan will be starting in January as a tenure track professor at Colorado State University!!
We are all really happy about this move. We can't wait to be back close to family, and we have read tons of great things about Fort Collins and CSU. Not to mention some of my favorite breweries are located in Ft. Collins!
I feel like everything really worked out perfectly, with the current schedule we have plenty of time to plan and prepare, and James and David will have another 9 months in the German kindergarten, giving them time to get better at the language. I also feel like it gives us enough time to really enjoy being here and see all the things we might not have checked out yet, while not being too terribly far in the future. Our current plan is to be home by Christmas, giving us a little bit of time to find a place to live before Dylan starts mid January.
Dylan's responsibilities will consist of building his own lab from scratch, hiring and mentoring grad students, completing research projects, and teaching, among other things. He's very excited for all of the different aspects of the job, and I for one think he will make a fantastic professor!
Dylan's current contract with his job is up in September. It's not problem to lengthen it (actually they would like that), but assuming he can get a job back in the US between now and then, it's our tentative plan to be moving in that timeframe. He's currently in the US interviewing for a job, which I'm really hoping will work out.
With that said, it's hard for me to imagine leaving here now. In a lot of ways it feels like we've just finally settled in here and gotten comfortable, and now we're going to uproot everything and change again. Of course, I start to feel like that, and then I have some difficulty caused by cultural or language barriers, and I'm back to feeling really ready to go to be home. It's such a confusing sort of place to be I guess. I've also started to hear/read about reverse culture shock moving back to your own country, and I can't lie that that has me a little concerned.
When my head starts to get all confused like this I have a really hard time blogging. I want to come on and be able to blog about what our future plans are, or lay down some dates and stuff, or share a lot of interesting new things that are going on. In this time of facing a lot of unknowns, I hesitate to share what's going on. It feels like I have either nothing, or confusion, neither of which seems particularly blog-worthy!
So, since that's where my head is… Here are some things about the kids! (They're so much simpler.)
James is doing great with his German. If I speak to him in German, he can almost always understand me, but very, very rarely will answer back in German. (I think our german levels are pretty similar, but there are some areas/themes of vocabulary where we don't overlap)
David is going to Kindergarten! Kindergarten here starts at 3, and they stay till they're 6. So more like preschool+kindergarten in the US. I applied for a spot for David last year thinking I might need it if I couldn't get out of my German class. They didn't have a spot earlier, but they have one now, and he'll start in February. He'll be in the same class as James, so I think he'll really enjoy it!
The boys are constantly cracking me up. I wish I would write things down more often, because of course I forget it as soon as it's over. From the very recent past here are a few of their antics:
I told them to clean their room today, and they started making up a "cleaning as a team" song and singing it together. Of course as soon as I got my camera out they stopped!
I cleaned the boys' room the other day while they were school and when they got home David came up to me and said, "Mommy! Me so proud a'you! You cweaned up my woom. Good job mommy!"
They continue to be yin and yang with their eating. If I give them a snack of pretzel sticks and apples, David will eat all the pretzel sticks and James will eat all the apples. Given meat and frozen veggies, James' plate will be completely cleaned of frozen veggies, and David will have eaten all his meat. (is it weird that my kids only like to eat their veggies still frozen? I think yes, but I'll take what I can get!)
They love each other so much it astounds me. Of course they fight… a lot. But they love each other a lot too. Every time James gets a special treat from school, he saves it, and then splits it with David. When David goes to the bank or the pharmacy with me, they give him a couple candies and he will always save them both until he gets to share them with James. If one of them is sad and crying, the other one will usually try to comfort them. We have quiet time every day where they play together in their room. Sometimes one of them won't want to do that and will be crying, or whining, and I can hear the other one from outside the door. "It's ok David, don't be sad, look, do you want to play with my pirate ship? I'll let you be the captain, ok?." Then they'll go ahead a play nicely for 45 minutes, sometimes getting so engrossed in what they're doing they forget to come out at the appointed time.
In this picture, David is teaching James how to build something that he had built and that James wanted for himself. James asked David to show him how, and David was so proud to be able to do so!