Pretty soon after we arrived, a couple of people in the church asked if they could present any needs we had to the church at large to help us set up house here in Germany. Although they were not on our list, some of the first things that people offered were bikes for our kids! We didn’t have room to ship their bikes from America and a few nights before we left we passed ours on to some good friends at home so it was such a nice surprise to get bikes so soon after we arrived.
Two of the bikes came from our good friends in Friedberg, the first town that we lived in. The bike that they gave us for Asher is called a “laufrad.” It’s a really neat concept and I think I’ve seen some in the US as well. Basically a child uses their legs, not pedals to move the bike. After a while on this bike, they should be able to transition to a normal bike without the need for training wheels because they will have already learned to balance and steer.
Asher has been practicing on his bike around the garden a little but he’s been more walking on his legs than using his legs to move the bike. Over the past several weeks the concept seems to have clicked for him. He figured out that he can go faster if he rests all of his weight on the bike and moves it forward with his legs. So, last week, I decided to let him try it out on the sidewalks while Jude and I walked behind.
Um….basically he took off! Jude and I were laughing out loud at how fast he was going on his bike and there were times when I had to bust into a full sprint yelling “Asher stop, stop” to catch him (that was quite a site). He is quite a little ham and loved putting on a show for us and making us laugh.
Next month Jude turns 5 and he will take the big leap into Kindergarten here in Germany. There is a Kindergarten less than a 5 minute walk from our house and last week I spent an hour translating, calling people for help and finally filling out the application and then walked it over. We’d just met a neighbor the night before whose son is also in this Kindergarten so we were really excited to get him enrolled. Proudly, I showed up and turned in my papers. Slight problem however… they had no more places for the fall.
In late May we got the application for him and we assumed that we should turn it in when we were actually in our current house. Unfortunately, we should have turned it in as soon as possible. So, we’ve been in search of another Kindergarten. Ok, if you are a native speaker who knows the language and the culture this is no problem. I, however, am not and I knew that it would take a lot of work to get him in another one. The day that we found out about it, I was so frustrated. If only I had known I would have had it done sooner. It led me down a rabbit trail of being frustrated and worrying. Ian reminded me that my worrying about it would not change the problem :-). Worrying would do nothing.
The next day, I met a friend and explained the situation to her. She helped me call around and very quickly she found 2 other Kindergartens also pretty close to our home. At the time we called, they were all booked for September but we had some hope that one of them would make a place for him. We were told that most likely we wouldn’t find out until September though. The lines were still not really clear for us. We didn’t know if we should keep looking or if the 3 schools would talk and figure out who they’d let in. How does it all work? It didn’t seem like there was a clear answer.
To say we were bummed is a big understatement. Not knowing language and culture really hurts progress sometimes and this was yet another example. Even in this, I tried to remember that even things that seem to be avoidable mistakes are not accidental happenings. We believe now more than ever in God’s providential plan in every aspect of our lives, even in a Kindergarten for our son. I’m learning more and more that my incapacity to handle things like these increases my daily dependance on God and deepens my trust in Him.
Last Thursday, I met with a friend at a local bakery to sort out some of the confusion around the Kindergarten process and also to practice speaking German. While we were meeting her phone rang. It was Ian with a message for me that someone had called about a Kindergarten place for Jude but that we had to call within the hour to speak to someone. Thankfully my friend was with me and was able to speak in my stead. It turned out that they had created a place for him at one of the schools and all we needed to do was to come in with proper documentation to get him enrolled.
Tomorrow morning we head over to Jude’s new school to take a tour and turn everything in. Amazingly enough, Jude is actually excited to go and we thank so many of you who have been praying for a good transition for him specifically. Now that he actually has a secured spot, it’s time for me to begin the next transition of seeing my big boy off to school 5 mornings per week. I’m taking deep breaths and trying not to worry.
At our last house in Roswell, I was so proud of myself that I ordered a recycling garbage can for our duplex. I had a little talk with the kids about recycling and we were pretty pumped to be taking care of God’s creation. I even had some grocery bags in the back of my car -that I always seemed to forget to take in the store somehow- but I had them. I also had drying racks that I used for a few items that we didn’t like to go in the dryer. I was on my way to being greener. Or so I thought.
Welcome to Europe where life is just green by nature. Here are 5 ways that we have adapted.
One: You take your shoes off at the door because of all the dirt that gets tracked inside. More dirt = more cleaning. Schuhe Auf.
Two: Most of the homes here are very efficient in their window placement allowing you to take advantage of all the daylight that you can. Lights really don’t get used until very late at night.
Three: We find ourselves walking a lot more. People here walk a lot or take bikes because gas is just too expensive to drive everywhere. We had a couple over on Saturday and they walked to our house. It took them 30 minutes to get here and they have a newborn. When we offered to give them a ride home they reminded us that they enjoyed walking. Rockstars!
Four: If it’s a sunny day that means it’s laundry day. Instead of a clothes dryer we have 3 drying racks. I’ve learned some tricks to getting laundry to dry faster and to keeping darks from fading in the sun.
Five: And now my favorite-the trash. It has been quite an adjustment figuring out how to take care of all of the trash here. Ellison held her popsicle stick and looked at me puzzled. “Which one does this go in mom?” Inside of our house we now have 5, yes 5 separate containers to contain our waste. There is container for plastic and aluminum, one for paper, one for glass and aluminum cans, one for biological food waste and one for everything else. Seriously I should video myself cleaning up after a meal. It’s a delicate dance of recycling for sure. Once the containers in the house fill up, we take them outside to the appropriate cans.
Although this is all new for us it feels good to be taking a big step at taking care of our world.
So the talk from Atlanta is all about the heat. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I miss that heat. The sweltering wanna jump in a pool kinda heat. I’m a Southern girl at heart and I grew up less than an hour away from the beach. So, the sun and being near water are two of my favorite things.
Many people have been curious about what the weather is like for us. You know, its kinda crazy and I still feel like I’m waiting on Summer to really arrive. I have a feeling that when Fall gets into high gear I’m going to feel like I’ve missed something.
When Memorial Day comes to Atlanta it’s pretty much a guarantee that you can put away sweaters and jeans until late fall. Not so much the case here in good ole’ Augsburg. For example, today when I took Ellison to school it was in the 50’s. Yep the 50’s in July. Jude wore a sweatshirt and sweatpants and did not break a sweat. I had the heat on driving in. What!!!??!! The “Summer” weather here has been more like a Spring in Atlanta. Some days it’s like 60 and then a few days in a row it will be like 85 or so. It’s been well over a week since we’ve been able to start a day in shorts and sandals and feel comfortable.
One thing that I’m learning is to layer and to just wait and see what the weather will bring. The huge plus to this milder summer, is that since homes are not air conditioned, it is much more bearable.
The variable temperatures make one thing sure- when the sun is hot and shining, you drop everything and get outside.
Here’s to hoping for a sunny hot day tomorrow or someday soon. Please…
I love birthdays. I love Ian. Today is Ian’s birthday and that is a double bonus! Sadly he is recovering from an awful gut wrenching stomach situation from yesterday so our celebrations were a bit last minute. Like at 2:00 this afternoon I had to run out and get his birthday gift- really last minute. This morning I even mis-measured the amount of cream cheese I needed for the cake so I had to run out and get some more. Dang.
But, one of the many things that I love about Ian is that he is so laid back and he truly did not care about the delays and that things did not work out just perfectly. It’s just what I need to bring balance to my world.
As a little tribute to Ian, here are some of my favorite pictures from this past year to celebrate.
Every other Tuesday Ellison has school for an hour and a half. Instead of driving all the way back home, I’ve been using that time to get grocery shopping done. It’s nice to be in sort of a rhythm with where to go for what and to be figuring out what works for our family.
When we lived in the States, Aldi was one of my favorite grocery stores. I loved being able to get in and out quickly and if they didn’t have it, I either made due or visited a bigger store and selected only what I needed there. Aldi is actually a German chain and the style of shopping (5 ailes, cashiers sitting down, paying for grocery bags and inserting a coin for grocery carts) is very common here. So I made it a point to buy a big Aldi bag while I was still in the US because I knew I’d put it to good use here. It’s kinda cool walking in with my English Aldi bag.
A major difference to the Aldi in the US and the Aldi here is that they have a big section for lots of other things. It changes from week to week and it kinda goes by themes. So this week was…America week apparently. I was doing my normal grocery shopping and was stopped by the display of American items. I grinned from ear to ear to see jelly beans, marshmallows and fried onions.
Random 3 items I know, but hopefully they’ll help us connect to the celebrating that we’ll miss at home.
Since we moved here, Asher yells “train” at the top of his voice every time we see a train. Well when you live in a city in Europe that is actually quite often. We knew that we had to get that boy on a train! Some friends invited us to join them for a pottery market in a neighboring town and it just so happened that they said we should go by train. I wish we had taken video of our ride so that you could really experience all of his excitement but it was awesome.
Today we are back online!!!! Our internet provider came and we feel reconnected with the world again. We are just about done moving in and it has been quite the month. Here are some pictures from the move.
On one of the first days that we came to work at the house it was a holiday here. We knew there would be a processional that would go by but we did not know that there was a service that took place right in front of our house. You can’t see it clearly here but there was a stage set up right outside of our front door.
This is a wall that was torn down by Ian and another friend.
The kids are getting in on helping get paint off of the floors. (This lasted for like 2 minutes.)
This is how our crates from America showed up. Oh happy day.
HOME!! It feels so good to be settled in. We are really thankful for new friends here who helped us figure out which lightbulbs to buy, where you go for hangers, and how to figure out bedding and various other questions that came up along the move. It’s been a busy month but we are really grateful for a space to call home.