One of our favorite things

In the summer there are lots of opportunities to pick pick fresh fruit here. Picking fruit and making jam are not just a new trend, they really are a part of life here. The double house that we moved into has a place in the garden with raspberries, a tree that grows sour cherries, bushes filled with currents and apple trees. We are truly blessed! Last year we were pretty much immersed in just moving in and missed out on really getting into this part of culture and picking fruit. Unfortunately, we saw the longest winter in recent history here and so the harvests overall were not as good this year.

One day while out taking a walk, we noticed a sign for a local strawberry patch and decided that we’d make some time and give it a go this year.

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You can eat as you pick which was Jude’s favorite part. In the end we picked about 2 pounds of fruit. One of my friends here laughed when I told her that because that is not nearly enough to do much at all with :-). We didn’t end up making preserves as someone is short on energy right about now..ahemmm… but we had a lot of fun soaking up the sun and picking some delicious strawberries.

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End of the School Year and a little on school differences

Believe it or not, this post is actually not that far behind real time. We’ve been out of school for only about 2 weeks now. We live in the Bavarian region of Germany which happens to have the longest school year here. One of the major adjustments to living overseas for us has been adapting to a new school calendar. Our largest break of the year is 6 weeks which we get over summer. Throughout the year there are other 1-2 week breaks around major Holidays like Christmas, Easter and Pentecost. The daily schedule is also different because Ellison actually got of school on M, T, W at 1pm and on Th and F at 11:30 and 12. Not that long of a day huh? Kids either come home for lunch or go to a local Kindergarten facility for afternoon care.

About Kindergarten…Jude, although he was in “Kindergarten”, went to a separate facility. Kindergarten the term is actually more of preschool (by American standards)  and the last year of Kindergarten is called Vorschule which Jude just finished up. For Germans the big entrance into school life comes in the 1st grade. Kindergarten translated means Children’s Garden and is a more accurate picture of what that experience is like here. Our boys wore out shoes and pants so fast this year because the majority of the time there is spent outside playing or doing arts and crafts. By the time a child leaves Kindergarten to enter the 1st grade they may or may not know all of their letters and numbers.

Because Ellison is in a public German school it was recommended that she repeat the first grade so that she wouldn’t fall behind academically and could focus primarily on speaking and understanding German. We totally didn’t expect that, and we were really nervous to make the decision to hold her back. It’s honestly still hard for her because she started the 2nd grade last year in a transitional class and then switched to a full functioning German 1st grade class so to her it feels like she should be going into 3rd grade not 2nd. It’s turned out to be a really good decision because she did really well this year and has a great handle on the language but she continues to wish that she could be in her “normal” grade.

Clear as mud right…well here are some pictures from the first and last days of school this past year. I just cannot believe how much the kiddos have grown!

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Ellison- September 2012

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DSC_0003Jude and Asher September 2012

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