Friday, August 7, 2009

Home, but not Quite

While in the U.S. we were able to meet up with some friends and family, and Gerrit was thrilled to bits to be able to speak English with people and be understood. (I have to say I share his sentiment.) In fact, the kindergarten teacher here made mention of how Gerrit was then trying to speak English with her and the other kids at the kinder when we came back and how surprised she was that he spoke so much. Typically, Gerrit doesn't try to say anything in English at kinder because he knows they don't understand him. Unfortunately, since his German skills are still very weak, that means he doesn't say much of anything. She was very surprised to realize how much language he actually has. It just isn't in the language she would like. I am hoping this will encourage them to try to offer Gerrit more German language support at the kinder. Currently, they do not plan to offer him any language support until his Vorschule year at the kinder (last year- typically age 5), which is still a while away.

Being in the States was sort of an eerie feeling. I visited places that were familiar and yet different. Overall, things were the same, though some businesses had changed hands or closed down and a few new ones had cropped up in their place. I think the most noticeable thing to me was that I felt a bit like a visitor there. Not a complete stranger, but it is no longer my home. Our home in Altadena is being rented out so that's not quite home. Yet since Germany is a temporary thing, it isn't quite home either. I think at the moment I feel a bit displaced. Since my grandmother's passing a few years ago, I no longer have a home base in Torrance, and it just doesn't feel the same there either. Though a few families I grew up with have remained in the area, many have moved on. My grandmother's house is now being completely renovated by the family who purchased it a few years ago. My grandmother was quite good at doing the necessary maintenance on the house but not so great at keeping up with current trends. It's nice to see the place being "updated," but it's a bit bittersweet. When I look at the house I can still fondly recall the times I helped my grandfather tend the garden or helped grandma in the kitchen, but the house now belongs to someone else. It is being changed to suit their tastes and their needs, and will be a place where they create their own family memories.

Still, we had a nice visit with some family and friends in L.A. The kids even got to experience Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm. We spent lots of time with my mom and the boys had fun meeting many people and playing with other kids. The strangeness of being back in L.A. and the South Bay was balanced out by how many familiar, friendly faces I had around me. In the end I suppose home (regardless of city) is really where our family is all together. That means, that for now we are always home. That is a pleasant and comforting thought. :)

My boys at Volksfest in Neufahrn
(A few days after coming back from the U.S.
Not bad for some serious jet lag.)

Racing... ah, competition.

Gerrit assures Willem of his piloting skills.

And now that we're comfortable flying,
we try the open top flying elephant.

Gerrit LOVED the bumper cars with daddy.

Enjoying chocolate shakes on a hot day at
our favorite ice cream shop in Neufahrn.

When my boys smile, it makes my heart melt.

Willem learning the function of a dump truck


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