Welcome Assistant Director Katharina Blohm

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Katharina Blohm, Assistant Director

Please join Director Dierk Seeburg and the entire staff of German School Phoenix in welcoming Katharina Blohm to the team as the new Assistant Director.  Katharina officially assumed her new position with “the best little German School in the West” in July, and will be focused on the day-to-day operation of the school.

Because Katharina knows the benefits of early language education, she eagerly supports the mission of the school and is also raising her children in a bilingual environment. As a native German with a Banking Diploma and work experience as an Assistant Department Manager, she brings both language and administrative skills to her new position.

Katharina moved from Germany to Arizona in April 2017 with her husband and their three young sons. When she’s not busy with her family, she likes to read and go hiking. She also has a passion for running and traveling, and would love to discover, and run in, all parts of the United States.

Willkommen, Katharina!

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Remembering why we are here

Last week R started school. School is such a big reason we made this move. Not only do I believe that Germany has a better school system, but I also believe they value education to a level we do not see in the States.

In first grade, they have a huge ceremony and children take a huge cone to school called a schultute. Inside are school supplies, a toy and some candy. We got to see our cousin’s 1st day of 1st grade. Whole families came, aunts and uncles, cousins, younger siblings, opa’s and oma’s. There was a service at the church where each child got blessed. Then outside for pictures. Then we walked over to the school where the upper classes sang songs and preformed skits to welcome the first grade class. Then the kids finally went up to their classrooms while the parents got some new information from the staff before everyone went home to celebrate some more with the rest of the family. It’s a huge deal here.

R started 2nd grade. We gave her a schultute when she started Kindergarten in Arizona as her 1st day of school and celebrated with just our family. So this year, it was just back to school. But here is so awesome! Let’s start with the fact it’s so close we can walk to school in 10 minutes and bike it in 5. The grade school here (1-4th grade) keeps the same teacher every year, so 1 teacher moves up with her same class for 4 years. It creates a bond for the kids and helps the teacher really get to know her students. They promote independence here (a lot!) and encourage kids to walk to school on their own. It’s taken me a week, but R walked to school with a classmate this morning. She was all excited, I was a nervous wreck in tears. Tomorrow she’ll start coming home by herself too!

The school day for grade school is from 8-12:30. That’s it. After that your child can sign up for free afterschool programs. I was told I couldn’t pick for my daughter, she’ll pick the classes that interest her (promoting that independence). Unless it’s a paid program like dance or learning an instrument. Then I get to help pick. But she could choose from soccer, dodgeball, yoga, adventure playgrounds, cartoon design, cooking class, dog therapy, and a few others I can’t remember now. But all of those classes are free after school.

I do need to tell you though that is not a Germany wide thing. The city where we are living has a very progressive mayor and they are funding the afterschool programs and the pre-schools in this town. Unsurprisingly, this has driven up home values because everyone wants to live here now. Sadly, it means we are still searching for a place to live because rentable homes here are snatched up before they even get listed on the market. We are spreading the word to family and friends.

Food is also pretty well laid out here too. I send her with a small lunchbox that contains 2nd breakfast. A roll, fruit and veggie that they all get to eat in the classroom around 10 am. Then lunch happens after school is over at 12:30. So for parents who want to pick their kids up they would have to feed them. I pay 30 euros a month for the lunch program. R’s school is pretty big with lots of kids, so the upper classes eat in the cafeteria and R’s class eats in their classroom. They get real plates and real silverware – including a butter knife to eat their lunch with. Once they serve themselves what they want to eat, they put a mat at their table and then after lunch they have to clean their spot themselves.

Speaking of keeping things clean, the kids are required to bring house-shoes for the classroom. Took me a while to figure out what they meant by house shoes. It could be slippers, crocs or just slip on shoes. But basically clean shoes that aren’t bringing in the dirt from the outside into the classroom. So the cleaning lady doesn’t have to work so hard cleaning mud from the floor. Yup, teachers don’t have to clean their own classrooms here.

R’s favorite part of the day is recess. I know, right? They can play before school starts on the playground. Then there is a recesses during the morning. Then if the weather is nice, they are out 2 times after school is over too. And they have a huge garage that has larger toys for the kids to bring out and play with during recess. They have balls, scooters, I saw an old fashioned bike yesterday – you know the kind with the large front wheel and the tiny back wheel. One girl was riding around that. Then all the kids clean up after recess and put the toys back before they go back to their classrooms. Each classroom also has a secondary room next to it with games, books and a quiet area for kids who need a bit more space to do homework. It just feels so well rounded keeping kids more active.

R’s happy to go to school in the morning. I’m happy because I know she’s learning and having fun during the day. And we all love the extra recesses.

We bought a car!

Progress. Some weeks it moves so slow and other weeks is zooms on past us. The last few weeks have been slow. So many people on vacation; so little moving forward and I have been very frustrated. Several of you reached out to me after my last post and I thank you for your support.

M is still looking for work. However, the good news is that people are coming back into the office after “silent August” and we hope to hear some news moving forward in the next couple of weeks. He has been working with a professional agency to help him revise his resume and he got new professional photos to go with them. Yup, you read that right. Resumes here need your picture on it.

Meanwhile we bought a car! This was a huge step in the right direction. But I had no idea what a hoopla it was to get a car in Germany. Let me explain. We looked a couple of weeks for the right car. M wanted one that was manual, diesel and had really good gas mileage. Gas is sold by the liter here, and if you figure (vague math) 3 liters to the gallon, then the 2.47 per liter becomes 7.41 a gallon. That’s all still in Euros not even taking exchange rates into account. Needless to say, it’s important to get awesome gas mileage.

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Anyway, we finally found one on Wednesday. It’s an 2007 Opel Zafira, its 7.7 liters per 100km. Not the best in gas but certainly not bad either. The best part is that it has a huge trunk room and it seats up to 7 people. We weren’t looking for a car that big, it was just a bonus. M negotiated a deal for new tires and we were set. Once we found the car and decided this was going to be ours then we needed to pay for it. So K and I ran down to the bank to pull out cash. After we paid for the car, we received a receipt and the title. But we couldn’t take the car with us. We had no insurance or license plate. Just got to go get insurance, right?

Ah ha! Not so fast there, buster. If you haven’t got a German drivers license, then you aren’t a “real” driver. The insurance companies here will put you on the highest pay rate (think just like a teenager’s rates) because we haven’t had a German license. We get a ½ a credit for having an American license. So here I think I’m going to beat the system. I found an American company that will give me a good insurance rate as an expat. So I spend all day Thursday filling out paperwork and getting the magic insurance code so we can get a license plate.

However. I send M down to the city to register and it turns out that he needs to be named on the insurance because the car is in his name. Ok, I call the company. He can’t be put on the American insurance as a co-signer because he’s the German. And I can’t be put on the title of the car yet because I haven’t finished my green card paperwork yet. (I’m not late yet, just still in progress.) Now it’s 5 pm and the offices are closing. American insurance canceled and still no car. Thursday was a loss.

After all of that mess, we end up getting German insurance on Friday morning. Not a terrible rate, I guess not all of them thing 40 year olds are beginner drivers. Once M had the insurance code, he took that and the car title to the city and registered our car. Here’s the cool part. He got to go out to a store and they printed him a license plate on the spot! He watched them stamp it and paint the new numbers. He paid for all the registration stickers and we were able to go and pick up our new car on Friday afternoon. Whew.

I celebrated on Saturday by making 2 trips out shopping AND a pedicure with my daughter. She is excited to have pretty toes to start the new school year on Wednesday!

 

The longest summer ever…

What is harder? Running around and keeping busy with touristy things or staying home and doing nothing? Well, not nothing per say, but not as interesting as vacation either.

Last week we attempted a small routine. It’s not really a great one. Kids get to bed around 10, when the sun goes down. We stay up watching the late movies until 12-1 am. We were sleeping in the basement because it was the hottest week of the year. Seriously, Germany is breaking all sorts of weather records. Everyone takes a nap during the hot part of the day and we start playing finally after dinner. It’s been a long week. This week has been a bit better as the rain finally broke the hot streak. We’ve enjoyed the clouds and the rain. The Germans think we’re strange.

I’ve watched with a bit of envy this week as my friends and my daughter’s school starts a new school year. I know that I sold this summer to my daughter by telling her she’d get 12 weeks of summer vacation. Not realizing that’s 12 weeks of a lot of together time. We were ready for some separation from siblings this week, but we don’t start until August 29th.

I’m scrambling to find activities for the kids to do. I was able to find a young lady who could tutor Rowan with her German. Rowan’s got a lot of vocabulary and little sentences (Thank you Frau Cindy at German School Phoenix!), but not a lot of full sentences. I’m hoping a bit of extra practice with someone who is not her parent will help with the first couple weeks of school. It still only kills 1 hour, 3 times a week.

Meanwhile the kids are meeting friends in the neighborhood. Rowan tries hard and every day I hear new words and more small sentences. She understands a lot and that helps. Kasper has started asking why no one understands him. He is a lot more willing to try new German words in the past few weeks. I actually think he understands quite a bit, but doesn’t know how to respond.

Kasper is eligible to start kindergarten here. Kindergarten in Germany is = to Preschool in the USA. Kids here go to Kindergarten until they are 5, it’s a fun place to be, not really a school to learn. Then school starts in 1st grade when they are 6. The kindergartens around here are pretty full, but because we are new and he’s 3 ½, then he should get priority to get in somewhere. We’ve decided to hold off on pushing the issue until we settle into a home.

Markus is applying to jobs. It’s very slow going. We have most of our paperwork in order, enough to start a job. But it’s August, everyone is on vacation with their kids. So people who need to make the final decisions will be back … soon. The employment office is paying for someone to revise his resume. So Markus has been focused on that. We have about 3 recruiters helping us look as well. A plus in our corner is the fact we are willing to move to wherever the job is located. The reality is that it will probably be September before we start getting interviews.

Meanwhile, our stuff has arrived in Hamburg. We shipped 100 cubic feet (3 cubic meters). It’s not a lot, but our toys, fall /winter clothes, books and pictures. I paid for door to door service, meaning they packed everything up in Mesa, drove it to Los Angeles, shipped it to Hamburg and will drive it to my front door here. When I have a front door. Right now I’m having the shipping yard store our stuff for at least a month. If by the end of the month we haven’t figured out where we are going, I may need to have it sent to Tante H’s house so that we have access to our warmer clothes. Then when we do settle somewhere, we’ll have to move it over ourselves.

One step at a time. When Markus finds a job, everything else will click into place. I’m finding the waiting part hard. So much of this pressure is on Markus’s shoulders. Once he finds work, then I can find a place and fill it with beds (and a kitchen) and my days will get busy again

Hunkering down to work

Vienna was awesome! Strange weather. We had rain, sun, rain, sun, so much heat and humidity we all wilted like flowers then a bit more rain. So we thought on Monday we would visit a local mall and find rain gear for all of us. We found jackets and rain boots for the kids. Their first pairs ever. It took us all day, but the mall was air-conditioned and we lingered.

Tuesday found us at Schonbrunn Palace. I have a picture of me on these very same steps when I was 20. I got to take the same picture with my daughter. It was so special! We took the kids to the “back yard” of the Palace. They had a really cool hedge labyrinth and a playground we really enjoyed. Then we went to the Children’s museum inside the east wing of the palace. I’ll be honest, I’ve taken several groups here and had no idea it had a children’s museum here. My friend who is from Vienna, said that was her first time there too. So there is that.

Me and R on the steps
This was the Neptune fountain in the back yard
Heading back to the palace to see the museum.

The kids really liked the museum. It was actually the children’s wing of the palace where the children had their rooms when they came stayed in the summer palace. The wing had been in use for children over 250 years! We got to dress up in period clothes, play with authentic toys from the era and learn about the rich vs poor. It was really well done. We left and made our way to a Heurige. This was a Viennese wine restaurant. Historically (not anymore), it was illegal to make large scale wine production, but the emperor declared that the locals could make their own and sell it in their own restaurants. Resulting in many different locals making their own house wine. Good wine for cheap. It’s usually a buffet, this one also had a playground for the kids and we really enjoyed seeing my friends Dad. He hasn’t changed a bit.

Wednesday we decided to go for a boat ride. There was a local nobility palace in Luxemburg (that was a town, not a country) with a small lake behind. We rented a little Joy boat for an hour and the kids enjoyed the water and the ducks.

The castle on the lake – now a hotel

Thursday we said our goodbyes. The kids were sad, they had so much fun playing together. We decided to push through and do the entire 12 hour drive all in one day. We made it home by 9 pm, with only a few stops. It was a long day, but little traffic so that was nice.

Friday found us doing the normal things. Laundry and sweating out the heat. The temperature is reaching in the high 90s here and we have no AC here. This is very common, most people don’t have AC. We camped out in the basement for a couple of nights just to sleep someplace cool. I went to the local OBI (similar to Home Depot) to see if I could get an extra fan, but everything is sold out. For 300, I could have purchased a room AC unit. Let me tell you how tempting that was. I did however find pillows for everyone. I will count that a solid win, as we really missed our pillows!

The next plan is to simply focus on getting our paperwork in order and finding a job or an apartment. Not sure what will happen first but I’m voting for buying a car first, with Air Conditioning. Priorities.

Checklist complete. On the road again!

This is starting to blur together. I should probably write this daily instead of looking through the photos at the end of each week wondering what we actually accomplished and did.

On Monday we registered R at Ami-Maiwald Schule. She will start in 2nd grade with 28 other students. We met with the principal and got to see the classroom. It was so beautiful with a neighboring room where the students could spread out when they needed to do homework or just sit quietly away from the noise of the other class. R was finally a little bit excited about school. But she now has about 5 more weeks of summer vacation, starting up again August 29th. Provided we stay in the area, and find a place to live. You know, if… if…. if… Anyway, she’s at least registered.

Tuesday M went to the Augentur für Arbeit (employment office) and he was able to meet with his direct councilor. He is officially unemployed here. That means he qualifies for a lot of extra benefits. They want him employed. So they will pay for all his work related documents to be translated (mine we will have to pay for but that is a huge help). Then he has registered for a class that will help him learn how to interview and write German cover letters. The companies look for different things here, so it’ll be very helpful. The other class he is planning to register for will be the HOAI class. It basically is the German construction codes that he needs to know. The employment office pays for all of this. And if he gets an interview, he can also submit his train ticket for reimbursement – even if he has an interview on the other side of the country! So cool. I’m waiting to hear back if we are covered for insurance while we wait too. Don’t know yet.

Downtown Baumberg

Then on Wednesday, we finally were able to open our bank account. It still amazes me how much time it took, but it is all finished now. Then I decided to do a bit of shopping at Rewe in the afternoon. I took R. It’s just a 5 minute walk to get to the store, which is really nice. So we started looking for stuff to make Nachos. Getting a bit homesick for comfort Mexican food. Surprisingly, we found taco seasoning, corn chips and tortillas! We also found an entire row made up of hot dogs. I ask you, why are there so many varieties of hotdogs here?!

Seriously, this is the hotdog aisle.

On Thursday I had my first bit of miscommunication. I thought we were going to meet our cousins at the pool around 9:30 am. So we get to the pool, no one shows up and we have a good time playing with the kids. R discovered the tunnel slide has neon lights inside and loved going down the slide repeatedly. We spent about 3 hours there, had lunch – because apparently every pool must sell French fries? (So I was told.) And went home with exhausted children and parents. Then I get a text from our cousin, shall we meet at 4:30 at the pool? Ok then, we go BACK to the pool and swim with the cousins for another hour and a half. Then we come back home even more exhausted and we put the kids to bed – they FINALLY sleep fast and we wander around in circles trying to pack our suitcases for our next trip. (We must have done well, we only forgot 1 charging cable.)

The resort got a thumbs up from the kids

Friday we started our drive to Vienna. We had planned to be up by 5 and out by 6. Except each of us was so tired and thought the other had set the alarm. Our son is normally our alarm and he was up by 6ish. So… we had a bit later start then planned, but got on the road by 7 and didn’t run into too much rush hour traffic heading out of Düsseldorf. According to Google it’s about a 10 hour drive, and we decided to split it into 2 sections. We drove south to Passau, a little town on the boarder of Germany and Austria. We made it about 4:30 with only a few stops along the way. We stayed overnight out in the fields at this amazing resort hotel. We played in the pool (not as warm but enjoyable) and then walked over to an amusement area where we found a restaurant with a play area in the middle! We ate our dinner while the kids played and got their wiggles out while we got to enjoy live music and a beer /wine. We made one small mistake that night and gave the kids the bedroom with the more comfortable bed. We slept on the couch bed, which was only a ½ step softer then sleeping straight on the floor. We both debated on sleeping in the middle of the kids and who would get there first but we were so exhausted that we passed out in the middle of the argument. Lol. Woke up pretty stiff and sore though.

Saturday morning we enjoyed a good Bavarian breakfast and jumped in the pool one more time before we headed out of town. We needed to buy a Vinette, which is a sticker for the car, a tax to drive our German car on Austrian freeways. It wasn’t too bad, only 9 euros for 10 days and we were able to buy one at the local gas station. Then we stopped at the Media Markt in Wells to pick up a new cable so I could finally charge my Iphone and let everyone know we were on the way and still alive. We made it to my friend’s house and we all got to know each other. It was the first time our families had met. We have known each other for 25 years! She was a homework assignment in my Lakeside German class. I needed a pen friend from a German speaking country. So I received her address and we wrote to each other frequently. She came to Arizona in 1994 to visit me for 2 weeks and I spent a week in 1997 in Vienna. Then we continued to write until 6 years ago when Collette Vacations sent me to Vienna for an Alpine country tour. Since then I’ve been lucky to see her in ’14, ‘16 and now we are spending a week here!

In heaven there ain’t no beer. That’s why we drink it here!

Sunday was a real treat though. We drove west into the Australian alps and found a Little White Zoo in Kernhof where most of the animals are white. It was located on the side of a mountain and we stayed to see it all. Even though it misted rain all day. Even though I was totally unprepared and we had to borrow raincoats from my friend for everyone. It was AWESOME! They had a camel show where the camels put on a play. The trainers fed them a treat to make their lips move when they had a speaking part. We saw white kangaroos, watch white leopards eat their lunch, and the best part was the white Siberian Tigers! We saw the big male tiger and 3 baby tigers just born last month. After the zoo, we drove over to see the Mariazell Basilica, bought some lebkuchen for dessert and drove our way back home. Once again exhausted.

Mariazell Basilica

Extended time on Late fee Charges!

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.

Step 1.  Register HERE

Step 2.  Pay HERE  Have a friend or family member?  Use discount code: REFERRAL

Step 3. Show up to class Saturday August 18th.

Classes are held at King of Glory Lutheran Church
(Southern Ave. west of Price Rd.)
2085 E Southern Ave
Tempe, AZ 85282

Viel Spaß!

Derailed and onwards

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!

This is my new key chain to remind me life is a journey.

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.

How do you explain this?

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.

German Cafeteria – The kids eat with real plates and silverware. Then clean their own tables.

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. 😀

Relaxing with cousins (watching TV)

Hurry up and make an appointment for that

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.

Look at her go!

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!).

That’s 155 miles per hour

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.

Just like the legos!
Rowan had to really think about how people could live behind a wall.
Very powerful to walk through.
Alexanderplatz

Sightseeing, learning curve and family

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.

Lighting candles in Mainz Dom

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.

Carnival on the Main River Frankfurt
Cookies!

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.

Yup. The car is a tad full.

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.