If you’ve been still on the fence about taking German Classes this fall, we have good news for you! We have extended our late fee date. You can still register all the way to Sunday night (June 22) at Midnight without a late fee. Here’s how to do it.
The beginning of the week found us still in Berlin. We had so much fun! On Monday I took the kids to the Labyrinth Museum, which was this super fun children’s Museum. It had a café where I could buy
coffee while the kids play. This is something American play-zones need to adopt – free wifi, coffee and happy children. I was in heaven!
M stayed behind at our apartment in Wedding to work on resumes and phone calls. He has a few leads this week that he has been keeping up with. We have had a small delay as he needs his tax id number and a separate retirement number to apply / get a job. Luckily, we were able to get the retirement number at the main office in Berlin. Fastest thing we’ve done so far.
Tuesday found us wandering around a cold Berlin. I really wanted to see the inside of the Checkpoint Charlie Museum. So I dragged my family down to the touristy area again. It was really intense inside. I’m not sure I’d recommend it for kids in the future. My kids didn’t understand a lot. I had them find something interesting in each room. They liked the displays where people (mannequins) where hidden inside cars or suitcases as they tried to escape to West Germany. This created a lot of questions. Why would they want to leave? Why did they have to hide? Why was there a wall? When we left, I asked R what she learned about the museum. She told me we should make friends, not walls. SUPER proud mommy moment!! Love my kids.
Wednesday found us back on the train to Düsseldorf. We had several appointments that we needed to follow up with and it was best we didn’t continue on my “Grand European Tour” that I had imagined. Thursday morning we met with the Bank. Small town bank, they had no idea what to do with my American passport. She had no idea how to enter me into the computer, or if I’d need to pay taxes on any money I earned. So, we made another appointment for this coming Wednesday. And we still don’t have an account.
Then we went to visit the catholic school around the corner. Tante H works there and the cousins go there, so it was a good place to start. However, 2011 was a very good year around here and both classes were full with 31 children each. So around the corner to the public school we went and asked to register there. I know that you’re thinking the same thing as me. Why do we need to register so early? Apparently Germans always know where they are moving to and register before school ends. That and since the teachers get paid here properly, they are all on vacation through the summer and no one is at the school for registration. This town is especially popular because the mayor is young and has subsidized the afterschool program and the preschools and the cost ranges from free to very little a month. So, we are registered. Now to find a place to live around here, which is a LOT harder then I imagined. Think Tempe /Scottsdale pricing and no one moves out. Ugh.
On Friday Cousin R showed us where the local pool was. We loved it! It was heated, and K didn’t end up blue and shivering like he normally does. We played there until we got hungry and came home. Tante H’s house is the center of all the cousins around here, so there is always someone stopping by. She’s been here 50 years and knows almost everyone (very much to our benefit!!). And the kids made friends with some of the neighborhood children. It’s so safe around here, we’ve let them ride their bikes up and down the street and kick the ball around. It’s really the first time I’ve let them out of my sight (I am sitting in the backyard and they do come back into view so I’m not in a total panic.). We did find a bike for K on Sunday after church. It was a 12 inch tire and it fits him well. He’s a bit baffled about what to do with the pedals, but that will come fast enough. He was ready; he had already mastered the balance bike. So I get to run behind my child this week and teach him to ride a bike! Mommy goals. 😀
This has been a good week. Changes are already happening and we are making progress. First, I need to say that M has an amazing family. I thought my family was pretty awesome, but the welcome and help we’ve received so far is really huge. Tante H is letting us use her address to get a lot of the processes started. This means a lot because we need to register with so many different places and nothing gets started without an address.
So now that we’ve registered with the city saying we have an address, M made it to the employment office to register and upload his resume. He will be assigned a councilor and they will mail him an appointment time. (Yes, snail mail!) They already sent him a letter saying he needs his tax id number and retirement number. We happened to be in Berlin where the retirement main office is this week so we went down and got a number right away! (Fastest thing we’ve done so far). Tax id is theoretically on its way too. Hopefully we can still get an appointment with the councilor in the next week.
Then we decided we needed a local bank account. We tossed the kids in the stroller and walked to the bank. Yeah, we need an appointment for that. Their computers were down so they told us to call the main number. The main number transferred us back to the branch office. Whose computers were still down. We finally scheduled an appointment for this week Thursday.
I also have an appointment on Thursday with a local school principal to register R for 2nd grade. Schools are staggered with their summer breaks. Düsseldorf is one of the latest of them all and school ends this week on July 15. They have 6 weeks and then they’ll start up again beginning of September. I’m hoping that if I talk to the principal, I can get R set up for a tutor before school starts or at least after school every day for the first quarter.
Meanwhile, R is watching all these kids zoom by the house with their bikes. We never had a ton of kids in our last neighborhood and her bike was always a source of argument. Now she was begging for one. Someone told me of Ebay kleinanzeigen (little ebay), which is similar to craigslist. So I got online and found a purple bike with the intent to teach my daughter to ride. I admit, I had visions of me running along side of her and cheering as she got the hang of it. Nope. She got on and took off. Like she knew how to ride the whole time.
We celebrated the 4th of July by cooking our family an “American” dinner. We had sliders and hotdogs, cucumber salad and corn on the cob (which came cooked and vacuumed sealed). But everyone enjoyed it and we had a good time. Missed the fireworks though.
Now that we had all our appointments scheduled, we decided we should take off to Berlin and do some more exploring. We hoped on the ICE train on Wednesday and made it here in 4 hours. It was pretty cool. We quickly figured out the subway and are staying in a suburb called Wedding. It’s a nice little apartment with 2 bedrooms and an elevator (we’re on the 6th floor!).
We’ve really been enjoying Berlin. We went to the Zoo the first day. It was only 73! I freely admit it was the first day we’ve been cold. I enjoyed it for about an hour or so. Next day I started to pack all of our sweaters. The zoo was awesome; we saw hippos, elephants, zebras and lots of monkeys. The playground at the zoo was equally amazing and we spent quite a bit of time exploring that as well.
We’ve done a boat cruise on the River Spree (pronounced spray), checked out a huge park with playground. We walked around the Alexanderplatz and looked up at the TV tower. We found a section of the Berlin wall. I took pictures of the Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag and finally walked through the Holocaust memorial. Then we even ate Indian for lunch. I am certainly in my element with the amount of exploring we’ve done and am so excited I’ve been able to show my family so many of the places I’ve been to on tours.
This has been a great week. We have really focused on our kids this week and trying to learn new things. The majority of this week was in Russelsheim and exploring the surrounding area. We took the kids into Mainz on Tuesday. First things first, we bought a stroller knowing that Europe is A LOT more walking then our kids are use to. It’s got a nice little basket underneath it so we can carry all those extra things kids need – drinks, snacks, diapers…. I’m loving it, it’s green. 😀
I got to take my family to the Dom (Cathedral) in Mainz and lit candles with the kids. This was very special for me, as I have toured downtown Mainz all last year and lit candles for my children each time I was in the Dom. They prayed for all their cousins. R though the church was a little creepy, but had a great time exploring through the crypts and some the side areas. So it must not have been too bad.
Then I took them all through Gutenberg’s museum. We had prepared for this by reading Geronimo Stilton’s book “The Weird Book Machine”. I had taken several photos of the museum, so they excitedly wandered through the whole museum and were suitably impressed with the 500-year-old bibles. M liked it too!
I tried doing some grocery shopping for ourselves this week. There’s a learning curve to this too. I thought I would make schnitzel with gravy. Except I didn’t buy gravy, I bought gelatin to make gravy from drippings. Good thing it didn’t really have a taste, so I didn’t ruin dinner. Then M wanted to try different beers. So I grabbed a bottle to try. It’s ½ beer ½ lemonade. A tad on the sweet side, not really beer like. I figure there will be more mistakes in the future as we figure this all out!
Thursday found us in Frankfurt. We had aimed to go to the Children’s museum thinking it was like the one in Phoenix. It’s not. It’s more of an Activity center and there were no activities going on. So that part was a bit of a bust. But we found an awesome park along the river and a children’s carnival on the other bank. It was super cheap! Each ride was 1 euro, Rowan got her face painted and the kids each got a snack. Think I spent 12 euros total! And train rides there and back, which is its own exciting adventure.
Friday we rented a car and packed all of our stuff. It didn’t fit. Markus had to go a store and buy tie –downs so we could put the largest suitcases on top of the car. Even then, we all had luggage under our feet and between the kids and up to the ceiling in the trunk. We only drove a couple of hours north to Baumberg, a suburb of Düsseldorf. Here is some family from M and we were lucky to stay here last October for vacation too. All the cousins came over, we ate a huge Italian meal and sat outside enjoying the beautiful 80 degree weather and the late sun set at 10pm.
Saturday found us in Bochum visiting more family and parks. Sunday we went to the Jesus Haus, that M’s grandfather helped found. R did awesome in Sunday School. There was another little girl who spoke English and took her under her wing. K made it about half way through the service before realizing no one could understand him and panicked. We explored another huge park in the afternoon and topped the day off with gelato. It’s going to be hard to “settle down” after all this vacation lifestyle.