Thursday, February 28, 2008

Spencer's Soccer - Part II

Here are a few of my notes from Spencer's first soccer game here in Germany. One thing I thought was great was how official he and his teammates looked out on the field. The uniforms, fully decked out with adds from the sponsors, team name and number on the back, etc. was very cool.

Entering the field

Entering the field part II

The warm-ups. Designated captain for the game has the armband.

Then the other item that was pretty cool was the ritual the teams did before and after the match. They lined up and shouted their team name at the other team, three times really loud. In America I remember doing this in a huddle as a team and not facing the other team directly. Maybe this is an ancient Germanic tribe thing. O.K., I'm just making that up, but it was worth noting as a difference from what I was accustomed to growing up.
Preparing for the Shout

The match was great fun and many of the kids already play some pretty sophisticated soccer, from what I can tell. One sign for me were the corner kicks, which were well placed. The other was that many of the defensemen knew that kicking the ball out of bounds was often a better option than continuing to fight the attacker for the ball. In other words, field position is important.

Lots of fun and it was great to watch Spencer out there.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Hannah Turns 7!

Happy Birthday Hannah! Seven years ago today, Hannah joined our family.

To Celebrate, she will be having her first Slumber Birthday Party on Friday. But we couldn't let today go by without a few surprises and fun things.

She woke up today and got ready for school just like any other day.

One Present she got was a new backpack for school. Here in Germany, these backpacks are very expensive. Usually start around 100 Euros for the good ones. The kids get one backpack when they start school in the first grade and then don't get a new one at all. It lasts them 4 years. Well, when school started, we couldn't afford the great ones but found a cheaper one and knew we would have to buy a new one next year. Hannah kept asking for a nicer one for her birthday and I just didn't think it would happen. Well Sunday, the ads came for the store and there it was.....a backpack for 80 Euros. It is normally 130 Euros. Somehow, this fit more into our budget, even though it was still more expensive. She now is the proud owner of a purple Clickit Hearts and Friends Backpack. It also came with a gym back, wallet, and two pencil holders. She loves it so much and was very excited to take it to school.

For her birthday, she gets to take a treat to school to share with her class. She knew right away she wanted Brownies. So with Grandma here, Grandma made two batches of brownies. I drove her to school this morning to help her carry the precious American Goodies into her classroom. She had to have 30 pieces because there are 27 kids and of course, a few for some of the teachers in the school.

After she came home from school, she got to open a few presents. I wanted her to have a few surprises since she already knew about the backpack. She got a polly pocket and a Tamagotchi from the family. A tamagotchi is a little electronic baby that you have to feed, change diapers, entertain, ect. It was the biggest hit.

She also got a Happy Birthday Pillow from Grandma.

With Grandma still in town, I was able to leave all the other kids at home and I took Hannah out to lunch. The possibilites were endless. And she chose Subway. This was a fancy subway. Look at the table and chairs we were sitting in. Loved it. It was so comfy. After eating, she got some Ben & Jerry's icecream they sell there. Talk about being spoiled.

She finished off her day going to Gymnastics and then having picked her favorite dinner for me to make. It was Scrambled Eggs, Hashbrowns, Bacon and English Muffins. I believe this is the same dinner she had me make last year.

It was hard to get her to go to bed tonight. She wanted to stay up and play with her new baby. Which by the way, ended up being a girl and she named her Lara.

It was a fun day with Hannah and I just want Hannah to know I love her and am happy she is in our family!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Spencer Plays Soccer

Spencer started playing on a Soccer Team while I was in the hospital. This is a team for our little village for his age group. The season started back in August, I believe. And it goes until May sometime. So he started in late.

Well, he had his first game Saturday. And I went to take some pictures. Of course, I took like 50 pictures. But I am only uploading 5.

Spencer's reaction to the game is that it was a lot of fun but he only got the ball once. He actually had it more than that. But I guess it was one time where he actually got to kick it for more than one tap.

It was so freezing. I eventually went and sat in the van while they played their last five minutes.

His team, Tus Homberg, did lose: 3 to 1. But they had 3 of their best guys gone. And the other parents were saying that they did pretty well for not having the other guys there. They actually thought they would take a bigger beating than they did.

Spencer got to play almost the whole game. We were amazed. Because of the other players missing, they had one extra player was all. We had spent the drive up there prepping Spencer telling him he might not be able to play very much, if at all. He is the new guy and he has a lot to learn about Soccer.

But for now, he is very excited and happy to be playing. And it was definately nice to go and watch him play his first game.

English as a Second Language

Check out this sweet rap, which would naturally motivate any young parson here in Germany to learn English as a Second Language (ESL). We found this on an undershirt for Spencer.

I am the king of rock
let us dance and have party time
really music brings me a lot of fun
the real feeling of music
boy s garage band 34

It's better than junk mail. Naturally this is the same type of thing we do in the U.S. with Italian or Japanese. But it does result in some really funny phrases. I would just love to be in the marketing meeting where the phrases were coined.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Foriegn Language Studies

Spencer and I were studying a new foreign language last night - football. I think I recall this being called soccer back in the U.S. The form of the study was Bayern München vs. Aberdeen in a UEFA Cup round of 32 playoff match.

I still don't know the difference between UEFA Cup and UEFA Champions League, so we have a way to go on our new foreign language.

I do know that Bayern won 5-1 and we got to see 3 of the goals together. So that was fun.

Spencer started playing soccer last week here in our local sport club. He does really well. What he lacks in skill with the ball he makes up for in excitement and determination. The coach say the ball skills come with time and not to worry.

Spencer's first soccer game is tomorrow. We are very excited. And if I know Tamara we'll have some pictures to share. Tamara is doing much better and thanks to my mom (great to have grandma around the kiddos), I have been able to go back to work and we've been able to get life back to a relatively normal level. And we get to go to Spencer's game without Ian tomorrow. That will be a nice break.

Friday, February 8, 2008

A Tamara Update

Here is a quick update on Tamara. I have been able to see her three times in the last two days and she is doing great. When I saw her on the first day she was much more spirited than I expected, both directly after the surgery and that evening. Today me and the older kids brought flowers. She looked very good today. She was dressed in normal clothes /normal pajamas and could move around a bit more. It looks like a great start.

Thank you all for your prayers and thoughts. It was great to hear from so many about how they had experienced similar things and how life went on. My mother comes next week and I hope that Tamara's recovery will continue moving in a positive direction.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

German appointed to Mormon's Highest Ranks

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a German and former airline pilot, has been called to serve in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His appointment comes due to the death of President Gordon B. Hinckley and the appointment of President Thomas S. Monson as new President of the Church.

A two time refugee, Uchtdorf, was appointed to the Quorum of 12 Apostles a little over 3 years ago and was only the 2nd non U.S. born member of that body. As a mormon, from the United States, who lives in and loves Germany, I am very excited about this appointment to 1st presidency. Elder Uchtdorf tells wonderful stories about his youth and growing up in post war Europe. He tells how God aided him in times of trouble and hardship that are unique to post-war Europe. It is a nice perspective.

His testimony that God helps mankind in all sorts of trouble is moving, and his strength and resolve is familiar to me because I have seen a similar strength and resolve in many Germans I have worked with over the years.

Here is a quote from his first talk as a member of the Quorum of 12 Apostles.

My life was eternally blessed by one choice member who reached out more than 50 years ago. Some days after World War II, my grandmother was standing in line for food when an elderly single sister with no family of her own invited her to sacrament meeting in Zwickau, East Germany. My grandmother and my parents accepted the invitation. They went to church, felt the Spirit, were uplifted by the kindness of the members, and were edified by the hymns of the Restoration. My grandmother, my parents, and my three siblings were all baptized. I had to wait two years because I was only six. How grateful I am for a spiritually sensitive grandmother, teachable parents, and a wise, white-haired, elderly single sister who had the sweet boldness to reach out and follow the Savior’s example by inviting us to “come and see” (see John 1:39). Her name was Sister Ewig, which translates in English to “Sister Eternal.” I will be eternally grateful for her love and example.
Here is a quote from his most recent talk as a member of the Quorum of 12 Apostles.

In the middle of this despair [post WWII life as a refugee], my family learned about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the healing message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. This message made all the difference; it lifted us above our daily misery. Life was still thorny and the circumstances still horrible, but the gospel brought light, hope, and joy into our lives. The plain and simple truths of the gospel warmed our hearts and enlightened our minds. They helped us look at ourselves and the world around us with different eyes and from an elevated viewpoint.


Wherever you live on this earth and whatever your life’s situation may be, I testify to you that the gospel of Jesus Christ has the divine power to lift you to great heights from what appears at times to be an unbearable burden or weakness. The Lord knows your circumstances and your challenges. He said to Paul and to all of us, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” And like Paul we can answer: “My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Let it snow

Here are some pics from the wonderful snow from last weekend.

A winter wonderland

Ah Ian, his laugh is infectious

A snowball bigger than Ian's Head

Shantal had about 10 little snowman on the bench when she was done

Cutie pie Emma

Snowball Fight!!!!

All together now!

Into the woods

Nice pic


Did I mention I like the snow as well!

After a hard days work

Monday, February 4, 2008

I must be dreaming

I must be dreaming was the thought we all had on Saturday morning when we woke to find 3 inches of snow on the ground in our little village outside of Düsseldorf. Spencer said to Tamara - "smack me. I think I'm dreaming." Shantal said the same thing to Emma when they saw the snow. In the "Dachgeschoss" or attic floor where we sleep and the windows are slanted I could see the piled up snow on the window. I thought no way can that be true. I looked outside and could see white trees and roof tops, but still did not believe it was more than a dusting. But as my eyes adjusted to the light I saw that it was was real snow, about 3 inches.

It was real enough that we could build a snowman and play in the snow for a bit. It was a great fun. In the afternoon when I was heading down the hill to a neighbors house I breathed in the cool winter air, looked up at the clear crisp blue sky, dotted with a few large fluffy clouds, and then noted the streams of water flowing down the street winding their way under and through the snow that was still strewn across the street. I felt like I was at home. I love the snow. It is wonderfully refreshing.

Tamara or I will post some pics from the snow soon. Tamara goes into the hospital tomorrow to prepare for the surgery on Wednesday.

Friday, February 1, 2008

It is Carnival After All

That is what a colleague at work said today after we hopped onto the commuter train (S-bahn) outside of Düsseldorf heading home from work tonight. In German it was "Es ist ja Karneval." He naturally said this about some outrageous event that normally would be considered bizarre or annoying, but during Carnival, you never know, you just never know.

The event was a powerful stench of vomit that enveloped us after entering the train. For my part, I thought it was unusual that so many seats were open in that one car of the otherwise busy train. Then the smell hit me and I said something like "gag me with a spoon" in German and the person who had just sat down who caught my eye, said something like: "amen, brother" in German as he was standing up.

We looked in both directions and thought the best escape was toward the front of the train. We started in that direction and were right. The smell dissipated even before we left that car and our lives returned to normal commuting lives as we past through the 1st class car and into our seats. Es ist ja Karneval.

March 2007