Wednesday, November 12, 2008

St. Martin's Day at the Kindergarten

Gerrit had his first little performance at the kindergarten last night. They had a celebration for St. Martin's Day (November 11th), performing at the Catholic church across the street from the kinder. The whole "no separation of Church and State" cracks me up sometimes. They have a church tax here. It is not considered out of line for your employer to ask your religion, then note it and you have an automatic deduction of 8 or 10 percent (can't remember which now) from your paycheck. Crazy, huh? There are crucifixes in schools and yes, they celebrate Catholic holidays in public run schools.

So... here I am watching a bunch of 3-5 year olds perform at the church across the street and then walk around around the block carrying a bunch of candle-lit lanterns. Yes, that's right... paper lanterns containing an open flame. Gotta love that there are a bunch of little kids carrying fire around. It's awesome. Would never see that sort of thing in the U.S.

Kids assembling at their classrooms
(Isn't Gerrit's teacher hot?
He has another teacher just as cute.)

So at the church service, all these kids are sitting there nicely waiting to sing their little German Lantern songs while someone explains the St. Martin legend (in German). Here's the run down on the guy...

St. Martin's Day (or Martinstag) is November 11, the feast day of Martin of Tours, a Roman soldier turned monk. The most famous legend of his life is that he once cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar during a snowstorm, to save the beggar from dying of the cold. That night he dreamed that Jesus was wearing the half-cloak Martin had given away.
Children usually march in a procession while carrying paper lanterns. They also sometimes go to houses with their paper lanterns and candles, and sing songs about St. Martin in return for treats. Often, a man dressed as St. Martin rides on a horse in front of the procession.

So back at the church... all these kids are sitting their quietly, holding their lanterns. And what's MY kid doing????....
Check it out.
Gerrit is sitting right next to the older gal in this picture.

He's still on the right. Notice the other
kids all sitting there waiting patiently?

And just a few minutes later...

See Gerrit still right next to the gal on
the right? She's now holding him.

Yes, that's right... both my kids are sacked out. I expected as much from Willem, but Gerrit?? It was a bit embarrassing but what are you gonna do. At least he didn't get stage fright. Instead, he just sacked out on one of the gals helping out. His teacher brought him to me when it was time for the kids to march outside with their lanterns. He slept through the entire church service.

I woke Gerrit while we were walking around the city streets with the lanterns. He liked following the guy on the horse but got upset as soon as there were too many people blocking his view. He got a little freaked about the whole "marching around with your lantern" experience. He was too tired and it was a bit too much at that point.

Lantern procession

Back at the kindergarten we got to purchase back all the food we donated to the kindergarten at their bake sale, while the kids played. One of the teachers brought around cookies shaped as geese. Apparently, Martin was reluctant to become bishop, so he hid in a stable of geese. The noise made by the geese betrayed his location to the people who were looking for him. Hmm... might have been a nice man but doesn't sound like the sharpest tool in the shed if he hid in a stable of noisy geese.
Gerrit bit the head off this goose immediately after
this picture was taken. Ozzy's got nothin' on my kid! :)

True to German/Catholic form, these holidays are also just an excuse to eat a bunch of crap and drink a lot... only now that the weather is cold, everyone drinks Gluhwein, a warm spicy red wine. I find it pretty repulsive but DH has developed a taste for it.

"Check out my portable flame thrower!"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Boys' Birthday Party

Since Germans don’t typically celebrate Halloween, we decided to have the boys’ birthday party on October 31st. All three of my boys had birthdays this month- Gerard turned 40 (woah, over the hill now), Gerrit turned three and Willem turned one. We decided to invite some of our friends by (all of whom have children), which meant there were 12 kids here. That number was supposed to be 16 but a few people couldn’t make it at the last minute. Phew!!! Twelve kids and ten adults in our puny living room. To boot the weather was cold and icky and it was dark so all the games were played inside…. which made things a bit of a nightmare in that area. I think the games and craft were a complete bust. Kids running everywhere in tiny places doesn’t make for much organization. We ordered WAY too much pizza but at least we didn’t run out. The most successful part of the evening was the cakes. Fortunately, those were gobbled up. All in all, *I* think the party was kind of lame, but thankfully the kids probably won’t remember that. Oh well, the people that mattered most- the birthday boys we were honoring in the first place- seemed happy enough, so I guess it wasn’t a complete catastrophe.

Cake & Presents for all the boys on Gerard's Actual Birthday

Big Birthday Party Time

Matching Shirts for the Birthday Boys

Starting a few party gamesPin the Smokestack on Thomas
Gerard's Cake

Gerrit & Willem's Cake

This is a typical Willem move

when it comes to any sort of food

Recovering the Next Day...

Mmmmm..... leftover cake for all!

And the result of leftover cake for all....

Hyper-active three year old

A food coma hits the one year old

Playing around in our homemade tent

Gerrit is trying to lift me with his legs here :)

Jake needs a little lovin' too

And as always, hours of

enjoyment building cool train tracks