Sunday, May 24, 2009

Christi Himmelfahrt Weekend

Thursday was a public holiday in Germany- Christi Himmelfahrt. Himmel means "heaven" and fahrt means "travel." It is basically the same as Ascension Day (Jesus' ascension into heaven 4o days after Easter). Yes, yes, fahrt (pronounced FART here) leaves me a bit giggly, too. Can't help that I'm American. Whenever I pay for parking at the airport and the sign wishes me a "Gute Fahrt" (a good trip), I still have to keep myself from snickering. You'd think that as often as I see variations of that word, such as "Ausfahrt" (an exit off the autobahn), I'd be immune to it by now, but no... I'm guess I'm still an immature 12 year old at heart.

Since many businesses and schools were closed on both Thursday and Friday, we had a nice long family weekend together. Thursday the boys painted some pots for me as a belated Mother's Day gift. We will plant garlic and oregano in them. Later we rode the bikes over to the duck pond near our house. Friday Gerard took the boys to the Deutsches Museum for a "Boys' Day Out" while I got a haircut. Here are some pictures of our weekend.

The boys have fun painting their pots.

Ready to ride to the duck pond.

Jake and Niki riding with me to the pond.

Hanging out at the duck pond.


Posing in front of a printing press.
The boys discovering the wonders of animated Lego sets.

Gerrit is telling daddy to pose so he can take his picture.

Let's break for some joke time.
"So, Willem, this guy walks into a bar..."

My Three Handsome Boys

The boys got lollipops for being so well-behaved during their haircuts.
Here, Gerrit is telling Willem to lick the lollipop, not bite it.

I think all Willem heard was the word "bite."

Gerrit shows off his cooking talents.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Beat It

Gerard and I have been listening to some 80's Music cd's. Here, Gerrit decides to show off his classic interpretation of Michael Jackson's Beat It.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sunday Afternoon with the Family

Today was one of those pleasant but unexpected Sundays...

We went to the International Church run buy some ex-pats. They are in the process of hiring a new pastor and I wanted to hear what the pastor had to say.

After church, we headed to the International School to celebrate Maifest. The towns had Maifest celebrations at the beginning of the month, but this was a school fundraiser. Essentially, a carnival of sorts with music, games, activities for the kids, food, and several booths of people selling old books, toys, etc. There was a dunk tank, face painting, and a craft table for the kids.

Enjoying a day at the International School's Maifest

The Giant Teeter-Totter

Willem tackles the slide

When we came home, we hung out in the back playing in the sandbox and on the trampoline. I also used the lid of the sandbox as a makeshift wading pool for the kids. They had fun splashing around in it. The weather was finally warm enough today to justify that sort of activity. We concluded our day with a pizza dinner and played some boardgames with the kids before bed. All in all, it was a fun day for everyone.
Bubble Fun Back at the House (The boys are trying to eat the bubbles like Jake does)

Video of the the boys (Jake included) chasing bubbles.

Our sandbox lid pool

Gerrit getting more adventurous on the trampoline

These next few pictures are from our Saturday trip to IKEA...
Enjoying ice cream after an errand at Ikea.

Willem and Vincent in a stare down.

"The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Gerrit Chronicles


A little story from Gerrit.

Upon picking Gerrit up from kinder this afternoon, I received a great big hug and then he couldn't wait to tell me something.

"What?" I asked.

"Mama, the Schlange ist kaputt."


The snake is broken? My immediate thought was that they had a classroom snake pet that died. But no... they don't so was Gerrit talking about a pretend snake or did he mean something else? I decided to ask one of his teachers. I called her over and had Gerrit repeat his sentence. She shrugged her shoulders and had no clue what he was talking about either. At this age, it's difficult for me to decipher whether Gerrit's stories are always real or sometimes fantasy. So we headed out the door.

"Mama, come see. Come look. The Schlange ist kaputt."

"Okay," I say, wondering what I'm in store for.

Gerrit leads me to the side of the school building and points to the ground.

"See... the baby Schlange... it's kaputt. It's broken."

Oh!!!! Now I get it.

"Oh, Gerrit, you mean Schnecke. Die Schnecke ist kaputt. In fact, die Schnecke ist gestorben."

At our feet, lies a sad-looking crushed little snail. Gerrit has always confused the word for snail and snake, even in English.

"Irem step on it. We need to call the doctor to fix it."

(Irem is his little partner at school. A few years older than him. The youngest kids are assigned older ones to look out for them and help them complete various tasks, hold their hands on field trips, etc. Gerrit and Irem often play together at recess.)

"Hmm... I'm not sure the doctor can help this little snail, Gerrit. I think Irem should just be careful next time. Maybe you should just tell Irem, 'Das ist nicht nett, Irem'... and maybe she won't do it again."

As we walked away from the kindergarten, Gerrit recited, "Yeah, das ist nicht nett, Irem. You don't step on the snail. That's not nice."

We'll see how that goes over if he actually remembers to say that tomorrow.


Another Cute Gerrit Moment

Just put the boys down. Read a great little story I picked up for 50 cents from the Flea Market called "I Love You All Day Long." It's about a little pig who doesn't want to go to kindergarten/school, etc. (it's purposely vague).

The piglet asks, "Mommy, do I have to go today?"

She responds, "Yes, you have to go today" as she's packing up his lunch.

"But Momma, you won't be with me."

She reassures, "You're right. I won't be with you, but you should remember this... I love you when we're together.... and I love you when we're apart."

The story goes on to have mom explain several circumstances in which she still loves her child- examples of things he does when they are together and apart... examples of him being generous, naughty, sad, happy, and nice. And of course, under all circumstances she still loves him and reminds him, "I love you all day long."

Gerrit has obviously taken a liking to this book and has asked for it to be read to him several nights this week. I think part of this stems from a phase he's going through where he wakes up each morning and informs me that "he's not going to kindergarten today." We still end up going to kindergarten of course, but this phrase has become a morning ritual lately.

He has also been asking if daddy and I love him. I explain that just like the book we both love him under all circumstances. I then go on to provide examples for him and then end with, "Remember, we love you all day long."

We then closed the book and turned off the lights for bed.

And then... a moment that all parents treasure.

Gerrit gave me a big contented hug and said, "Momma, I love you all day long."

My heart melted.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Fun with Duplo

Germany has these great kinder flohmarkts (flea markets), think group swap meet or garage sale. I happened across this nifty little used Duplo castle set. It was missing most of the people, so we had to improvise a bit. We used other Duplo pieces we had (a zoo set) so that the castle was inhabited by animals and the zoo keeper was helping to defend the castle. We also brought out some non-Duplo toys (dinosaurs and cheap McDonald's toys) to attack the castle. Things started to get a bit out of hand when we found the catapult that came with the castle and began launching dinosaurs and people at the castle. But, boy was it fun!

Gerrit proudly showing off his castle,
defended by zoo keeper and animals.

Crazy Monkey, Ninja, and Dinosaurs
(carrying our sole knight) in attack formation.

Gerrit decided the dinosaurs needed to
launch a rocket/missile into the castle.

Here, we begin the catapult trials. Notice flying baby dinosaur.

This time baby dinosaur actually made it to the castle.

The fire engine AND Shaun the Sheep arrive
to fight off dinosaurs and save the day.

Video of us starting to launch anything and everything at the castle.

My How Time Flies

When we arrived in Germany, Gerrit was hardly talking much and I was quite pregnant with Willem. Now, Gerrit is a non-stop talker (just like his momma) and attends German kindergarten, learning to interact with other kids. He's even picking up a bit of German along the way. He is a proud big brother, who looks after his kid brother. Willem is now a walking machine who tries hard to keep up with his older brother. He is fearless and full of mischief. It is a joy to watch the boys play together now. Here are some pictures of our boys (taken this spring).

Even though Gerrit is growing up, I can
still see my first baby boy's face here.

Proud big brother showing off his younger brother.

This is my favorite photo of the two.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day

The boys and I had a lovely Mother's Day on Sunday. We met Liesel and her kids at an enormous public park in Munich located on the grounds of Schloss Nymphenberg. It was originally a hunting grounds for the Royal Court. Today, The park apparently hosts the largest beer garden in the world, seating over 8000 people. It is also home to a Wasserspielplatz (basically a playground with sprinklers on some of the equipment) and a deer garden where kids can pet and feed deer through a fence. On Sunday, however, we didn't do either of those fun activities, though that will definitely be another trip sometime soon. Instead, Mother's Day was the seasonal opening of their Wasserspielplatz, so the park was filled with all sorts of games, rides, and other family-friendly activities. After eating our picnic lunch, we wandered the fairgrounds. Here's a taste of what we saw.

The Wasserspielplatz. Sprinklers are located on and inside
the equipment so that kids can play and
stay cool.
Unfortunately, even though it was the opening
day of the
season, the water play had not yet begun.

Willem takes a ride down the slide.

Structure building. Mostly this consisted of Gerrit trying
to attach poles together while
Willem tried to rip them apart.

Building towers with wooden blocks.

The boys were much more interested in sitting inside
these crates to watch OTHER people build towers.

Gerrit's first face-painting experience. He looks a bit nervous.

When she first started he touched his face and smeared
all the paint. That's when we came up with the plan to
Gerrit sit with his hands together on his lap.

All done. Check out my airplane.

Willem balancing on boards with mommy's help
(Look at his ice-scream smeared face and
tell me if you think he had a good day)

Gerrit carefully navigating the balance boards.

A video of Gerrit on the balance boards

The Rollercoaster Slide

Unfortunately, I wasn't fast enough to get a picture of Gerrit
going down the slide. Here's a shot of Ella riding the slide,
with Thomas ready to slide down next.

A short video of the slide in action.

Two very happy but very tired boys with balloons.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Our New Family Toy

The parts for the new toy.

Building the frame.

The boys occupy themselves while we build.

Gerrit decides to help.

Ah... half way done.

Woo hoo... we're almost finished.

At last! The boys are anxious to try out our new toy.

Flying Rocket!

The boys try out the trampoline.