From what I can tell I last wrote when Tamara was recovering from her surgery in February. And so, first of all I must thank so many of you for writing and wishing us well at that time, and keeping us in your prayers. We were truly blessed during that time.
I neglected sending an update for some time now. I feel like our lives are so normal. But, I have received a few requests to send out an update on our family. I will now attempt to do so. As always, if your email inbox is already too full, or you prefer to simply read updates on the blog, just let me know and I'll gladly stop including you on the updates.
It is a good time for an update since Ian's B-day is tomorrow. In Germany it is considered bad luck to talk about such an event before it happens, but since I am still an American and it's almost midnight now, I will break with the German tradition and take the risk. Ian will be 2 years old, which means, as you probably know - we have been in Germany for almost 2 years. Ian was three weeks old when we left the U.S. Ian's age helps us keep track of how long we have been here.
We will have a little barbecue and B-day celebration with some friends from our congregation tomorrow. The couple we invited have been great friends to our family since arriving in Germany. They are definitely like surrogate parents to us and grandparents to our children. The wife has taken care of Ian during church services for most Sundays for the past 18 months. When she prayed last week in church, Ian was totally excited to see her come down from the stand. Her taking Ian eases our burden during the church services immensely, especially since I serve about once a month as a translator for the English speaking members of the congregation during the service and am unable to sit with the family on those weeks.
Catching up on our family. I would like to start by mentioning that Tamara is doing fabulous. She is still taking iron tablets every day and B12 shots once a week, but has tremendous amounts of energy. It is wonderful to see her full of energy and able to do things. In fact, she was doing so well that after Emma started going to pre-school last May (called Kindergarten here in Germany), Tamara started walking Emma to pre-school almost every day. She combined this with a change in diet to lose some weight before her trip to America this summer. She did a great job and still gets compliments on her new look. Tamara was able to take Shantal with her to America for 2.5 weeks. They had a good time. Tamara came back refreshed and full of even more energy. It was great to see.
With Tamara away I took time off of work and was able to be a "full-time" dad for the 2.5 weeks. Wow, that was a great experience. I almost cried when I was back at work I missed the kids so much. It was hard, but tremendous to be with them. I realized that Tamara does a tremendous job with the kids, and was grateful for her return. Spencer was also profoundly grateful. After her arrival, Spencer thanked Tamara for cooked meals for about four days in a row. He never does this. I guess the joy at having nice meals again was just so overwhelming that the gratitude just couldn't be contained.
Now that Tamara is feeling better, I can start to be sick***. I have been seeing the doctor for some stomach/digestive track issues as I have trouble digesting milk products or too much meat. The problems could be related to the pancreas (in German the word for pancreas is very cool: die Bauchspeicheldrüse. It means- stomach spittle gland). It could also be the thyroid. I have started receiving vitamin shots, and the doctor is doing blood work to test more stuff. I recently felt quite aged when I ran out of my antacid medication (related to potential pancreas problems I take these) - I can't live without my prescription!
***By the way, it is totally normal to talk about one's health problems here in Germany. I seem to recall it being a bit taboo in the U.S. But, I like talking about health problems, b/c it detaches the problem from the person and makes the problem less personal, less hidden and scary. So, if you are grossed out, sorry - it was a German moment.
We seem to have a normal life now here in Germany. School is back in session. Hannah is back in gymnastics and has set a goal to be on the medal stand at the next meet in November and really enjoyed gymnastics during the Olympic Games. She was in the paper today for being in the gymnastics program last year.
Spencer has returned to playing soccer and is playing well. He was complimented by the coach twice this week on his play. He plans to join the Boy Scouts starting tomorrow and seems to have found peace in the school.
Shantal is struggling in school. She feels like all of the kids (especially the girls) are mean to her right now - some of course more than others. We are working on that one with the other parents (especially with the parents of the extra mean kids), but it is slow going. On a positive note, Shantal will be in a play on Saturday - she went to a theater day camp in the summer and we are excited for the performance this coming Saturday. She is very artistically skilled and seemed to have really enjoyed the theater camp.
A big decision is coming up for Shantal and Spencer this year - we must pick a new school for them for next year. This is the last year of grade school and they start secondary school next year. The teacher makes a recommendation regarding what type of school they should attend. This is where the teachers assign the kids to a school system that will lead down one of three career paths - essentially, blue collar, mixed, white collar. Having never done this before, we will be asking our friends a lot of questions and praying quite a bit.
Emma is very excited to be in pre-school. She even went to a B-day party all by herself a few weeks back. This was a very bid step for her. She used to cry when being dropped off at friend's houses. Now she is excited. Ian is growing up. He is doing everything a two year old does - except talking. The doctor is concerned and gave us some tips for helping him progress - mainly reading with him. The doctor will check in six months and see how it going. We are not too concerned - he comprehends wonderfully, and Hannah approached speaking in a similar manner.
One last note. I had a wonderful opportunity to see one of my former scouts a few weeks back (Micai). He was visiting Germany as part of a school exchange program. His family will host a young man from Germany later this fall for a few weeks. What a great experience to walk around the Ems river with him and my two boys and talk about life, how things have changed since we left, and what his plans for the future are. When we first started working together 5 years ago in Wisconsin, me as scoutmaster and Micai as a young teenage scout, who would have imagined such a moment.
We often think of friends back home and miss our associations with you. May the Lord's finest blessings flow into your lives.