Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas Break

Well, we are now on our second day of the kids having Christmas Break from school. For the second day in a row, I was able to sleep in until 8:30am. Usually I have to have the kids up by 7am for school.

Today we have stayed home and I have done a lot of bread baking to give a way at church on Sunday. So far, I have made 4 loaves of Banana Bread and 4 loaves of Zuchinni Bread. I am not done yet either.

The kids have played Play Station 2 and are now watching Narnia. It is just a relaxing day at home today. Although, I have done a lot of cleaning as well. Gardner's Parents are coming to Germany for Christmas and they arrive tomorrow.

Gardner has been working late these last few weeks. He is out the door by 7:30am to catch a bus. He then transfers to what is called the S Bahn (Train). From there he has to transfer one more time. It takes an hour to get to work. He has been getting home after 9pm every night. I wish he was home more often. But I also know that right now things are work are hectic.

Ian is growing like crazy. He will be 4 months old next week. He has been eating cereal for probably a month already. I just started him on fruits two days ago. He seems to really like it. And I really love the Cereal Bottles. I can put all his food in there and he can eat it. He really is too young to feed him with a spoon already.

Emma has adapted pretty well to life in Germany and in our new home. I just have to get her more used to wearing gloves and hats when we go out. She does not like them at all.

Shantal had her Christmas program at school 3 nights ago. It was hard for me to concentrate to understand everything in German as I was there with all the kids by myself. Luckily, Spencer is a great big help with Ian. I had to keep Emma quiet through out the whole thing. Anyway, back to my point: Shantal had a speaking part in her program. And she did WONDERFUL. She had her little poem memorized and everyone clapped afterwards which made her feel great.

Spencer did a speaking part in the Primary Program at Church a month ago. People there were really in awe of Spencer. They kept telling me that he spoke German so well. And they could not believe it was such a short amount of time since we got here and he also had no accent.

Hannah's German is improving every day. She will come home from Kindergarten and ask me what certain words are that she heard at school. She is even talking more at home in German. This past Saturday, we had our Christmas Party at Church. There are several English speaking families there. There is one girl Hannah's age named Olivia. Olivia got a Pinnochio book from Santa Claus. I over heard a conversation between the two girls. It went like this: Hannah: I got a book from Santa Claus, too. Olivia: Really, which one? Hannah: I don't know, I did not open it yet. Of course, there was more to the conversation, but I was a little stunned as these two girls are from America and their whole conversation was in German. So, needless to say, the German is coming more and more for Hannah.

I personally am trying to keep up with life. With Ian eating every two hours and me breastfeeding, it is hard for me to do much else. Emma has been sick the last week. I think she had croupe over the weekend. Now it is just a cough and cold. So she has been a little more whiney than normal. I stay up way too late at night. I usually crawl into bed at midnight or shortly after. And then it is not long before Ian starts crying. So being tired is something that is just a part of being a mom I suppose.

I can't believe that Christmas is just three days away. It is strange as this Christmas is so different than any other one. We just put up our tree last week. I usually do that on Thanksgiving. And then, I have not done much shopping at all. We keep telling the kids that with the move, it will be a small Christmas. For one, our funds are tight. We have had to buy so much for our new home (furniture, kitchen appliances, washer/dryer, ect). And we still have so much to buy. We have a lot of stuff that did not make it on the boat to come over here.

OK, Ian is waking up from Nap. So, I need to go and take care of him. I will have to update again later.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

It All Started September 21, 2006

Well, trying to go backwards 3 months is a little hard. But I am going to try and do it anyway.

On September 21, 2006, we traveled to the Salt Lake Airport to fly to Germany. There was Gardner, my husband, Shantal (8 years old at the time), Spencer (7 years old at the time), Hannah (5 Years), Emma (16 Months), Ian (3 weeks old) and myself. The first flight was from Salt Lake to Atlanta. The flight was not too bad, but it was so hard to get everyone and everything onto the plane. We actually did not have anytime after checking in and going through security. We were one of the last ones on the plane.

And then in Atlanta, we only had half an hour before we started boarding our next plane. The plane ride, the kids did great during the 9 plus hour flight. But the people around us did not think so. The two older kids had a lady constantly feeling like her seat was being kicked. And then the lady in front of Emma and Hannah was annoyed the WHOLE time due to them making any noise at all. The plane was not full at all and a matter of fact, the lady in front of Hannah and Emma had 3 seats to herself. She would lay down and then wanted Emma to be absolutely quiet so she could sleep. Sorry, but Emma is 16 months old. She did sleep for part of the flight though.

Once in Germany, we were of course the last ones off the plane. Everyone was helping us with getting us off the plane. The flight attendants, ground crew, ect. Once in the airport and we found our stuff, it was just waiting as we had someone from our new church coming to help us with transportation. Well, two families showed up to help us. All the kids and myself went over to someone's house to play while Gardner got our rental van. I went into her guest room to breastfeed Ian and three hours later ran upstairs all in a panic. Our au-pair we had a few years back from Germany was coming over to stay with us this weekend and I thought we were late in meeting her. When in all actuality, Gardner had already picked her up and she was there herself.

We stayed in a furnished Vacation Apartment that had 4 bedrooms, kitchen, living room and dining room. It was on the 4th and 5th floors with twisty stairs. The kids loved it. We lived in the heart of Duesseldorf. Very busy place. Street trains ran right beside our apartment. We lived a block away from a fire station and we heard sirens all the time. The kids even counted them and heard 5 sirens at one time before.

It was a nice place for a transition but not a place I wanted to continue to live. We had to park our car 15 minutes away from the apartment. The elevator was so small I had to close the double stroller up and only Emma, Ian and I could fit inside at one time. And Ian sat on top of the double stroller.

We were looking for a house or apartment of any kind. It got to be so difficult. We called on over 100 listings and looked at more than 25 of them, but got rejected left and right as no one wanted to rent to us due to the fact that we have 5 kids. We did finally find a home and moved in on November 30th.

But getting our stuff here was crazy. It arrived from the states much faster than they said it would and it ended up going into storage for 2 months. Once we were ready for it, we could not get it out of the Netherlands. The custom officials started going through everything. They spent 5 hours one day and found a box of new clothes that we got as gifts for Ian when he was born. Then they also found some unopened boxes of cereal. So they decided to go through everything else to see what we were trying to bring in that should not have been brought.

Luckily, our stuff did arrive on November 30th. We were already sleeping on borrowed air mattresses for 2 nights and friends bringing us dinners. The only thing we had to our names were clothes, and they were summer clothes at that as we thought our stuff would of been here a month prior.

Our kids started school here in Germany. They went to school in Duesseldorf for one month before the move to our house in Ratingen. In Duesseldorf, they put Shantal and Spencer in the same class. Both in the 2nd grade because they did not have any room in the 3rd grade for Shantal. The kids loved this. Shantal because her German was not as good as Spencer's and then Spencer because he could not read cursive writing and Shantal could. So they helped each other in different ways.

Well, in Ratingen, they got seperated. They put Shantal back in the 3rd grade where she belongs. And the first day of school, she cried all 6 hours. The poor girl. I felt bad for her. But what she wanted was to be in Spencer's class again. Now, three weeks have passed and she loves her class and her teacher. She does have problems with Math though. They move a lot faster and she has missed some critical learning for where her class is right now. So we are looking into special tutoring after school.

Spencer loves his class. But there are 34 kids in his class. We know he will be switching classes yet again February 1st as a new teacher will be coming in and he will be moving into the new class with her.

Hannah started Kindergarten a few weeks ago and is doing fabulous for Hannah. She does speak a few words to her teachers, but not many. She plays very well with the kids and every now and then she will tell me she made a new friend. That is a lot different than the Hannah from last year who just sat on the carpet for 2 1/2 hours every day at preschool never saying a word.

It is amazing to hear the kids speak German. They are correcting my german left and right. Sometimes it is annoying as I said it exactly as they are telling me it should be said. But I am just glad that they are learning it so fast.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Just Getting Started

Well, this is my very first blog. But I have been wanting to start one ever since we moved to Germany at the end of September. I wanted somewhere I could document everything we went through on our long journey. So I am going to try and back track a little each day and try to hit some of the highlights and lowlights of our move.

To start out, I should say that we moved from Wisconsin to Duesseldorf, Germany. We have a family with 5 kids. Our oldest turned 9 in November and Youngest is now 3 1/2 months old. So you can see that it was a major move for us.

March 2007