Monday, December 13, 2010

Spencer's Friends and his Ordination

We had a great day with Spencer at church yesterday. He received the Aaronic Priesthood and was ordained to the office of a deacon.

Spencer has made quite a few friends in Germany and we have discovered that his friends' parents are quite nice as well. They have been very supportive and helpful in many situations. For that reason, we invited the families to attend the worship service and Spencer's ordination. All the friends were able to come, even on short notice.

It was a great feeling to see how willing people were to attend. Spencer has truly found some good friends.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Hannah's English (from Tamara)

This is a conversation between Tamara and Hannah that Tamara told me about a few weeks ago:

Just got Hannah's Report Card. She got a 1 (which is an A) in English. The teacher wrote, that Hannah can understand words and Sentences as well as Speak words and Sentences. It made me laugh. I said out loud, "I sure hope so". Then I asked Hannah if her English Teacher knows she is American. Hannah did not think so. That made me laugh even more.

Hannah's response is....she knows English well enough she could BE the teacher. :)

Tamara informed me later that the teacher is certainly aware of Hannah's ability and naturally proposed that Hannah not worry about such comparisons between her and the teacher.

Friday, July 9, 2010

I Feel Alive

Just sitting here sweating tonight at almost 11:00 pm (23.00 hours) and realized I love this type of heat. Hot, muggy, lots of sun. It makes me feel alive.

It's probably because I grew up in this type of heat each summer in Missouri, but it is a wonderful feeling to have some of this type of weather in the normally rainy, cool, lower Rhine valley in Germany (think Seattle).

Monday, June 14, 2010

Me aber not!

Tonight as we were attempting to gather the everyone to family prayers, Ian was making noise with a necklace by banging it against something plastic. Tamara took the necklace away and said something to the effect of "Ian that noise is really making mommy's head hurt! We have to stop now for prayers." Ian responded with "Me aber not!" Which naturally means - "It isn't bothering me though." The German word aber means although or but and is apparently easier for Ian to say.

We all laughed for at least 10 seconds and family prayers went much smoother thereafter.

Watching the children grow up with the two languages is certainly entertaining.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Oh Schade, Ah Schucks

"Oh Schade" is one of Ian's favorite phrases. Although the Sch sound is usually left off we all know what he trying to say. He switches between this phrase and "Man, eh", which also in essence means too bad. It makes life entertaining.

Ian says this when he doesn't get his way. Or, when he feels like saying something. It is a nice reaction to not getting his way. It usually goes something like this:
Mom: It's time for dinner
Ian: But I'm still playing
Mom: I know Ian, but we need to get up to the table! We can play again after dinner.
Ian: Oh Schade!

He kind of sings the phrase and runs up to the table. It is very cute.

Sand man

We have the problem here in Düsseldorf in our back yard that it gets very soggy after it rains. I recently told a friend about this and he said I should spread a thin layer of sand on the grass. This will create a layer to absorb or filter water to lower layers of earth and the grass will simply grow taller in order to accommodate the new layer. It makes sense given all of the water we get around here and what I know about filtration under the earth.

So, I tried it today. My neighbor saw me and asked what I was spreading on the grass. I told him it was sand. He said - yes you need to do that from time to time.

Amazing - I had never heard of such a thing in the US. And, here it is a normal solution to the problem of water drainage in lawns (or the lack of drainage). Another tip for life overseas or life in an unfamiliar environment - ask a friend or a neighbor if you are baffled by local conditions.

To think - I could have asked three years ago.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Kegeln & Fruit Salad

Well, Friday night was a milestone night for me. After having lived in Germany for more than 5.5 years total I finally went Kegeln for the first time. What a great time.

We went for Hannah's birthday and had a really enjoyable time. Kegeln is basically bowling with nine pins, smaller lighter balls, and narrower lanes. The other difference, which I really enjoyed was the way the lanes were designed. The small Greek restaurant in our neighborhood has two lanes. So, we had a lane all to ourselves inside of one room. In another room there was another lane. The The technical aspects were also cool. The pins were on strings, which are used to pull the pins up and set them in the correct position. The ball delivery system was done with a lot of help from gravity. This was technically interesting and very quiet. This meant relaxing for me.

In Kegeln, you pay by the hour and by the glass of sprite or juice. The hourly charge is very reasonable (6 €). The drinks on the other hand were standard restaurant prices. That was a bit of a bummer, since we forgot to tell the kids to drink slowly. Buying drinks is pretty much a standard part of kegeln.

Since the price was hourly, the kids could throw the ball as often as we had time in the 1.5 hours we stayed. In the first 2 rounds we played - knock down as many pins as possible.

In the 3rd round Spencer taught us a game he learned at a similar birthday party a few months ago - "hohe Hausnummer", or build a big number with 3 chances. We were building numbers with three digits. So, if you roll a 2 on your 1st try, that should be the last digit. Then you hope that you roll a 6 later to use as the first digit. This was also a fun game. The two lowest scores were 034 or 064. They both wished we had played "niedrige Hausnummer", or build a small number. The two highest scores were 653 & 642.

The remaining stories are unrelated to Kegeln, but I mention them as part of Hannah's Birthday party. After returning home and eating we rounded out the evening with a fun game of Obstsalat (fruit salad) or Fruit Basket as it is called in America. This was a fun time. The boy at the party got a bit bored with the game and instead of switching chairs only when his designated fruit was called, he moved basically every time. I called him a Birne-Apfel-Erdbeer-Banana. Ian and Emma stayed up and got to enjoy the game. Emma didn't like being in the middle though and so we would just call Obstsalat every time it happened, and she could then quickly find a chair.

The same boy who liked the game so much he created his own "plug-in" for the game, happened to be the only boy at the party (other than Spencer). He is a nice kid and I mention him here because of what he told his mother after the party. He and his mother were just leaving our house, when he told his her - if I had known what the group gift (gemeinsames Geschenk) for Hannah was (a Polly Pocket playhouse), I wouldn't have joined in. His mother then realized that she had forgotten to give us the money for the group gift and returned to our house. At that point she related the story about her son's impressions of the party with all girls - priceless.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ian experiementing with languages

Well Ian is at it again. He is speaking again. Adding a few words to his vocabulary and trying them out. He is much later in speaking than our other children, which seems to come partially from the dual language upbringing - German in pre-school and English at home.

In order to understand his latest language leap you have to understand both languages, but I'll explain both. Here is the phrase Ian commonly says.
If a family member says something they don't like, such as, "I don't like hot dogs", Ian responds with this statement: "Me aber". Which translated directly into English is "me but", and directly into German is "mir aber" oder "mich aber". The phrase is incorrect in either language and the phrase ends up being a very intricate mixture of the two languages.

The German phrase should be "ich aber". The English phrase should be "but I do". And, Ian ends up somewhere in the middle of the two phrases.

Part of the challenge for Ian, I believe, is that German speakers generally correctly use the word I (ich) when the individual speaking is the subject of the sentence. But in the German phrase he incorrectly uses the possessive "me" because Americans, including our family, often use the word me when I should be used. Think of the exclamation of approval "me too". This is commonly used instead the full phrase "I also enjoy/prefer/ _____". Another typical example is "me and my friend went to the store" instead of "my friend and I went to the store".

What it comes down to is - we have two pieces of good news. Ian is speaking, and it's very entertaining.