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.

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March 2007