Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Castles and Swimming

"You know... for a little guy, you have some pretty cool
toys. Think I'll check out the view from down here."
Gerrit instructs Willem on proper "playmat" technique

I haven't written in ages so there's a lot to catch up on. First off, Willem got teeth shortly after he turned four months old. (He's now almost five months old.) He had been chewing his fists for several weeks and drooling a ton, but while Cathie was here visiting both bottom middle teeth popped through his gums. Now that they are growing more, you are just able to see them when he smiles sometimes. It changes the way his face looks. They are so cute, though. :)
Hard to believe there is a two year age difference between these boys.

Gerrit and I started a gymnastics class together. The class is loosely structured, which is nice since I have both boys with me.Fortunately, I just put Willem in the sling if he's awake and then I have my hands free. The teacher sets up mats and a few different apparatus. She demonstrates or says what she wants the kids to try and they are free to try it if they wish. The class is designed for age 2 to 4 so some kids just run around to let off steam for a while. A lot of the kids jump around and try things out. This week, Gerrit tried walking down and sliding down a platform on his belly and bottom. He had tremendous fun with that.
Making towers at the park

Gerrit is no closer to potty training than when we arrived, though truth be told, I haven't been pushing it. I figured I would be more serious about it once it started to warm up and I could let Gerrit run around in fewer layers of clothing. Still wondering if it will EVER warm up. It's basically been cold and snowing on and off since my mom came back in October, and now it is the end of March. Yikes! Well, last week Gerrit's new Tagsemutter made a point of telling me that the other child she watches who is a full year younger than Gerrit is already using the potty. I'm trying not to let it get to me but I took it to mean that she thought it was quite time that Gerrit was trained. Hmm... some Bavarian women seem rather insistent on telling you when they think you are doing something wrong with your child. For me, of course, this is always a problem as I'm forever second guessing myself as a parent. I'm sure this feeling never ends. :)

Since moving here I definitely have stroller envy. I dig seeing all these heavy duty yet semi compact baby carriages with fat wheels. Now I have baby carrier envy. We had dinner at Regina and Jason's house. She showed me a new carrier she bought and of course I had to try it out. Willem fell asleep in it straight away and I wanted to see how Gerrit would do on my back.
Gerrit enjoys the ride while mommy adjusts the carrier.
Ta Da! This was super comfy for both of us.
Gerrit tries out Liam's bobby car. (Bobby cars are super popular here)

On Monday, we had our German tutor. The money I'm making from my own tutoring job is used to turn around and pay for our German tutor. She is my German teacher at the adult school, but she also takes private students. While Gerard may dispute this, I think he is more advanced than me so I find the sessions a bit difficult. We also have both kids that we are trying to keep entertained, so my focus tends to be pulled in multiple directions making it harder to concentrate. Still, I keep reminding myself that it is better than nothing. Having said that, last Monday's lesson was really tough for me. It was supposed to have been review and though I know I had seen the stuff before in my German class, for the life of me, I could not remember how to do any of it. At one point, I was so frustrated I had to walk into the kitchen because I was afraid I might cry in front of them. Gerard seemed to be understanding what was going on, which of course made me feel even worse. When the instructor left, I sat down on the couch and tried to study some more while Gerard took Gerrit to bed. I also put cookies in the oven to bake before sitting down. Gerard came down some time later and asked me if I had remembered that I put cookies in the oven. Oh my gosh! I had completely forgotten about them. They were black and burned to a crisp. The kitchen and oven were smokey. At this point, I actually did start crying because that seemed like the final straw. (Have I mentioned how overly emotional I am these days?)

I am frustrated with German. I don't know enough vocabulary or grammar to actually make my own sentences and have a conversation with anyone. At this point, I'm trying to find common phrases that I might here in certain situations just to help get me by. I am frustrated with my lack of progress thus far, and while I know I have a ton of things on my plate right now, I am very disappointed in myself. I feel my motivation waning A LOT at this point, and I'm finding it even harder to make myself attempt German when I'm out and about. I'm still trying but my enthusiasm for it is definitely diminishing at this point. Still, I plug away slowly, hoping one day something I've learned will actually stick.
We went to a Street Fair in Freising
Gerrit Rides a Swan

Sophie is the daughter of our neighbors', Steffi & Markus. After the street fair, we had coffee at their house. I think these photos of Willem and Sophie are adorable!
Willem and Sophie
(Sophie is exactly one month older than Willem)
"Hehehe.... mom, the pretty girl is touching me.
Am I too young for a girlfriend?"

Willem had his first pool experience when we all trekked over to Neufun. Thank goodness Gerard was with us because I'm hot sure how I'd deal with both kids on my own. Gerrit loves the pool and I'd love to take him weekly, but if I can't find another mom to go with, I don't see how I take both kids at this point. The water seemed colder than usual but Gerrit didn't mind. Willem enjoyed the water, too, though he did get a bit chilly at the end so we moved to the baby pool. In the baby pool there is a small slide that Gerrit has avoided. Today he actually wanted to go on it so he climbed to the top and slid down again and again splashing into the water. It was great fun for Gerrit, until another little girl grabbed his headband and yanked it off his head. (Gerrit has tubes in his ears and he wears ear plugs and a headband every time we swim. Gerrit never used to like wearing them, but finally does so willingly.) I know the girl was probably curious about his headband and didn't understand why he had it on. Still, she yanked it so hard and so quickly that Gerrit's earplugs literally shot out of his ears. Poor Gerrit was completely shocked and started crying and pointing to his ear plugs. The girl's mother saw it but didn't say anything or do anything, and didn't have her daughter apologize. That really bugged me. If I knew more German, I'd have said something to both of them. I know that kids are kids and they will do things like that, but it doesn't mean you can't educate your kids after they do something inappropriate.
Willem's first swim!

We purchased a Castle Family Pass, which entitles us to unlimited entrance to ALL the castles of Bavaria for one year. This includes over 40 castles, so we figure it was a good deal. We decided to spend last weekend visiting one of the castles that was relatively close. Now each castle we've toured in Germany have been more like palaces or romantic style castles from Mad King Ludwig. While they are interesting in their own right, they are not exactly your "fighting man's castle" so we were thrilled to find one such castle in the medieval town of Landshut. Castle Trausnitz is located on a hill overlooking the town below. At one time, the castle shared the town's name (Landshut), which means "protector of the land." The castle was built in the 1200's. During the 1500's, Trausnitz was renovated and expanded, and the interior was furnished with several Renaissance paintings. Unfortunately, a fire in 1961 destroyed many of these paintings, though a few were restored.
Our budding photographer
All smiles!
The path to Trausnitz Castle
When Gerrit sees stairs, he has to go up them
The entrance to the exterior castle courtyard
A little snack and a great view
View of St. Martin Church from the Trausnitz' Tower Terrace
Willem slept through the tour

One noteable (and still very intact) piece of the castle is the Fools' Staircase. It is painted with life-size figures from the Italian Commedia dell'arte (Play of Professional Artists). This was a popular form of improv theater originitating in Italy and was quite popular throughout the 16th-18th centuries. The acts, based on situational themes such as adultery, jealous, love, etc., were performed outside by a group of 10 people. It is said that "The Fools' Staircase is the earliest and only pictorial record of this popular court entertainment."
Yes, that is an enema being plunged into the donkey.

It was amazing being able to drive 30 minutes from our home and see a piece of history from the 1200's. Of course, this is true throughout Europe. It's exciting to realize that we are surrounded by such history here, and I was once again reminded to take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy these outings while we are here. A stone's throw from our house is something nearly 700 years old. We would never be able to experience something like that in the U.S. So there, I said something else nice about living in Germany. :P
"Wow... this place is like... even older than my dad!"A successful family outing
(The gate leading to the interior courtyard)


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home