The monkey

We have been having the most random conversations as we have been walking down the hill to Ryan's Kindergarten this week.

Nick: Mom, can I be a monkey someday?
Me: What do you mean-act like a monkey?
Nick: No, I want to be a monkey.
Me: Okaaaaay-how are you going to do that?
Nick: I know how you do that! You have to eat, like, 18 bananas a day!

Great. I can't wait to see how this turns out.


Don't you wish you lived here?

Isn't it gorgeous?!?
Can't you just picture yourself relaxing in the garden here?
This is not my house, but I wish that it was! It belongs to a friend who lives in a neighboring town. There is a small sign near the entry stating when the house was built, almost 200 years ago, I believe. The gorgeous leaves are a reminder that soon all of Germany will be an array of color!

School Prep

I have felt guilty this week about not posting new information, keeping up with e-mails or catching up on other blogs. After skimming through my Bloglines and Google Reader, it seems like many people are taking a break too! Whew!

We have been enjoying the last of the summer days, even though the temperatures seem to indicate autumn is coming soon. The range of temperatures has been 45-75 degrees lately. Our indoor/outdoor temperature gauge decided to freak out and says it is 6 degrees farenheit outside. So not true. We really depend on this item since we can't tell one day to the next what the temperature is, and how we need to dress.

We also have been getting ready for school. Ryan started school last week, although it was a few weeks later than his classmates. The German schools have a year-round sysytem, but a shorter school day. I had him start later since we were away for a good part of the summer break, and I also needed time to get his things for school. There was also a need for me to put off an early morning as long as possible!

I miss the days of getting the kids ready for British schools. School supplies were really not needed. The schools provided basic writing notebooks and paper, pencils, colors, paints, and the first writing pen. We had to purchase any other needed pens. We basically purchased school uniforms that consisted of grey trousers, dresses and skirts, black shoes, white or grey socks or tights, and the school sweater or "jumper" with the school emblem. The students also needed a P.E. kit, a small school bag (again with school emblem) and a water bottle. Easy!

Here is a picture that I found of the girls first day of school in 2004. How cute are those uniforms?

For the oldest three, I have been collecting the usual school supply list of folders, paper, markers, crayons, pencils, etc. I know that we will have to purchase classroom items (paper towels, tissues, etc) after we receive that list from the homeroom teachers.

Ryan's list for school has been completely different. First, there was the daunting task of filling out the long school information packet. I posted about it here. My landlord's wife helped me. She said that it was long and complicated, even for a native speaker. He has needed several items that required searching various stores on the economy. Here are the items that Ryan needs to begin school:

pyjamas (they change into these for naptime)
house shoes (I think they wear these a good part of the day?)
athletic shoes
change of clothing
nappies/diapers with mulchsachs (disposable bags for the stinky ones)
suncream and hat (summertime)
matschhose "mud clothing" (these are neat-they completely cover the lower half to keep kids dry and warm outside)
a bag with breakfast items each morning
a sports bag with shorts, shirt, socks for gym
a small blanket for naps
two photos (classroom birthday calendar and his cubby)
toothbrush and paste

It's a good thing that he has his own hook and storage shelves for all of these items. It feels like he will be moving in! His teacher told me today that he is already picking up on the language as he has been asking for help and saying greetings in German.

The girls started school this week, and Nicholas will start Kindergarten next week. We have several orientations and teacher meetings this week in the Kindergarten building. Nick can't wait (and neither can I!!!).


Fighting for computer time

I have been trying to catch up on both posting and reading others' blogs. I can see by the lack of posts that many of us are either caught up in the last days of summer, or getting ready for school. I happen to be doing both. Multi-tasking....you gotta love it!

I am also negotiating computer time with kids and DH. The kids seem to have their current games loaded on this computer, and DH is studying most evenings and weekends for his upcoming promotional test. Please, Dell, do not delay my computer shipment any longer!! I would really like to finish some incomplete posts!

Well, we are off to cheer leading practice! It happens to be at the gym. It's time to dust off those trainers!


I do love all things Halloween

Aaahhhh-just looking at the image is creepy.

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays! I love the decor, the weather, pumpkins, the scents, costumes, candy, and the fun experience of being something else for the evening. The one part of the holiday that I do not enjoy are spiders. Blech. The little daddy-long-legs or small spiders-o.k., but the BIG, FAST RUNNING, LONG-LEG SPIDERS---no way!

I have noticed that summers are a spider-spotting time in Europe. They like to come in during that time, and they don't always leave. We do leave our windows open (no screens), and that is the perfect opportunity for unwanted guests. You can imagine my fear and disgust several evenings ago when I noticed a big, hairy spider on the wall behind my bedside table as I was getting ready to go to bed. Ugh. I tried to get him with a shoe, but he was too quick and raced under the bed! And yes, many times I do trap them and throw them outside. However, if it is a big one that is delaying bedtime-no symapthies. Sorry spider!

I searched and searched under and behind the bed with a flashlight for the next 30+ minutes. No luck. I then made my husband look for him. No luck. I relunctantly went to bed after carefully searching all bedcovers, pillows and the headboard. I didn't want any surprises. I'm not sure that I really slept that night as I frequently kept opening my eyes and making sure that he wasn't sitting on the bed with me.

Taunting me.

My imagination started to get busy. I killed a big one in the bathroom window last week-was this one avenging his friend? Did he have other friends? Would one be hiding in my shoes-clothes-magazines when I least expected it?

The suspence was killing me.

Last week Ryan was crying at naptime saying that a spider was on his bed. I checked and saw nothing. He started crying again and this time I found him inside the pillowcase. Eeekk! After two nights of carefully checking pillows and around the bed, I felt more sympathy for Ryan being afraid.
My husband doesn't understand the fear of bugs. I'm not really afraid of many bugs-just big spiders and roaches. Where I grew up in Texas, they are huge and they fly towrds you! AAAhhhhh!
I also despise flies.
Now my oldest daughter freaks out when she sees a bug, and it seems that Ryan is not keen on sleeping with them.
Hopefully...just maybe, I haven't turned the other kids to this fear of bugs and arachnids.
I just wish the bugs and other leggy creatures would stay outside where they belong. We would both be much happier that way.

Go speed racer....

Move over Mach 5, we are on the track! Last month we had a great time in Texas at a putt-putt golf and racing kart center. The kids had never experienced either, so it was double fun. The yellow banana car was so, so slow, and was even back-firing. And how do we even know that it was the car back-firing? :) I think this was the first time I have been in a go-kart since, well, high school.
My cousin and uncle even joined in on the fun. Being the Texans that they are, they were even courteous drivers. Our family, being used to fast and crazy driving in european conditions, were a little competetive.

My husband is the avid golfer, so he tried teaching the correct techniques, until we realized that we needed to move a little quicker since there were groups of other players lining up behind us.
My mom and Ashlyn even arrived after a little impromptu square dancing event (hehe) and played. My cousin and I even had to retrieve balls from the water that diverted from the course. Sadly, we have to admit that we were the ones that hit them so off course.

I think Lauren and Nicholas are dueling to get the ball in first. Do you notice that Ryan is in most of the pictures? That boy does not stop moving.
Does the hat and dry landscape give away our location? Do you see the dark clouds on the left that threatened to ruin our fun? They failed to deliver. My mom!


I have a new laundry assistant

Side note: I am trying to upload a current picture of this new assistant, and spellcheck--neither is working on Blogger today!?! This Blogger has been very mischievious lately! I will add as it allows.)

Meet Lauren, who will be my new laundry assistant for the next weeks. You see, this chick thinks that she is smarter than her Mama. Lauren loves to play Barbies, Ello, Polly Pocket, and Sims. She loves these activities so much that she will go to all lengths to squeeze in more time to do them. When she is asked to put away her laundry and clean up her room, she takes any and all shortcuts.

This mama is onto her game. I keep finding both clean and dirty laundry (mixed together) in many, many places in her room-under the bed, squished between the mattress and headboards, in boxes under her bed, stuffed in her wardrobe, and even rolled inside the rooms of her dollhouse!

If you have seen the piles of laundry that can accumulate around this house by seven people, you can understand how frustrating it can be to find once clean clothes rolled with dirty ones, now wrinkled, and meshed with dust bunnies hiding under the bed!!

So now she has the wonderful, first-hand opportunity to see just how much time and effort it takes to do laundry. Our european washer takes almost 2 hours per load, and the dryer requires extra tasks of emptying out the water pan extracted from the clothes. Then the laundry needs to be carried among three floors, put away, etc.

I think it will be nice to have a personal helper for the upcoming weeks! With school starting soon, we have been trying to get some last things put together, repaired, updated, cleaned out and organized, decorated, etc.

I hope this works.


Zoo Adventures

We have had a busy week with a visit from some friends from Holland, so I thought I would just quickly post some pictures from our summer trip to the U.S. At this rate, it will be next summer before I get all of them posted!

We spent a day at the Cinncinati Zoo on a warm (no, actually hot and muggy) day. We have a tradition of riding the train around the park first, so we can get a feel for the area, and decide where we want to go first. The boys loved the train, especially waving at the people waiting at the crossings. After the train ride, we followed the typical journeys through the park to see and learn about the animals. We bought tickets for a 4-D movie (cool air!) about the Earth. The 4-D part involved wearing the cool glasses, sprays of water, a poke in the back of the seat, and loud puffs of air. I'm not sure why this was necessary, but it made it 4-D instead of 3-D, right? It was a BBC production, and it really seemed pretty good. I can use the word seemed, because everytime the puffs of air or water appeared, Logan screamed. For anyone who has not heard him scream-it's an eye-opening experinece. He would then settle pretty quickly, but it would happen again. I was just at the point where I was going to take him out of the auditorium when the movie was over.

It was then that I received THE EYE from a mother with her school age girls in front of us. OOOPS. I guess I waited too long. She loudly asked her girls if they could hear it, because she couldn't hear it with the baby screaming. She then proceeded to walk up to the front, and complain (near us, as we were getting our stroller) that she wanted a refund because she couldn't hear it. "Hmmm...it must be nice to be so perfect and have such perfect kids," I thought. I really do regret not taking him out sooner. I just didn't think the sounds would be so frequent! I usually would be more aware of his screaming, but maybe I am just becoming immune to them, or the heat was getting to me. The cool air was just too tempting, maybe. Nonetheless, I lost all regret whan I saw how hateful this woman was being. I didn't let it ruin our day though.

We celebrated with ice cream cones.
It was much cooler in the bamboo forest area! Ahhh...Nick wanted me to take a picture of the peacock, but I cannot remember why...


Great grandmothers are grrrreat!

A certain great-grandmother had a birthday several days ago. I tried to post this earlier, but Blogger would only allow the images to upload-no text. Crazy! I wanted to tell her "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!" and wish her a fun day. We had such fun on the days that we spent with her on vacation. She has a great laugh, and loves hugging on the kids. She has lots of grandkids, so I am amazed that she can keep them straight! She gave Ashlyn some crafy items like buttons and sewing necessities, which Ashlyn is anxious to try out. She also gave Ashlyn a quilted pillow, which she absolutely LOVES!! Ashlyn sleeps with this pillow, and was even sad when we packed it in her suitcase while we traveled. I didn't want "plane germs" on it, and so she eventually agreed. Here is a picture of Grandma Elizabeth with her kids. We couldn't get all of them to look or be still at the same time-so this was the best one :).

I really like this picture of Logan at Grandma's house sitting on his great-great (I think) grandma's chair! She remembers her grandmother snapping beans in this chair. I wonder how many grandchildren this chair has held?

Grandma and Ashlyn with her favorite pillow. What a great momento!