Saturday, June 24, 2017

Drawing with Children

So I consider myself somewhat capable of teaching drawing to children.  However, Isaac is not one of those children.  I kind of hate teaching him because he is just so negative about it and no matter how patient I am and how long I refrain from throwing in the towel, he is in tears in minutes.  Take this example, this morning he asked me to print a picture of a fox for his nature journal.  I suggested he draw it instead, and the tears started flowing right on cue.  I didn't even try to teach him or anything.  The mere thought of having to draw gives him great anxiety.  What a mess!  He never even doodles, and I think he has some natural talent from what little I've seen.  It makes me sad.  I recommended we do a family drawing lesson on how to draw a fox, because pretty much everyone else would always be excited to have a drawing lesson, most especially Drew.

I'll show the end products before telling you how this group lesson went down.

Mine (top) Drew's (bottom)

Genevieve's (top) Isaac's (bottom)
Hannah's(top) Judah's (bottom)...On Judah's, he told me the eyes for the fox were at the bottom of the page.  He was really trying to follow along for a few minutes.  He made the "chin" as he called it or the muzzle and the ears before he went all Picasso on me.
They all did a great job.  I love them all!  I walked the kids through it step by step and all the kids waited patiently and did their best.  Drew was sitting on one side of me, and he was so diligent about his work and asked for help in positioning when he had trouble.  Isaac was on the other side, and every step was a new thing to get frustrated over and claim inability.  I know he wouldn't do that for another teacher, so I suggested maybe looking for a drawing teacher to help him get past this negative stuff that's blocking his drawing.  To that he just busted into fresh flowing tears.  I think I will look for an art teacher here, but I have little hope since I lost our piano teacher and our German tutor and have yet to find anyone available to replace them.  Sigh.  In the meantime, I'll be sucking it up and teaching him.  Maybe eventually, he'll follow the lead of his siblings and just chill out and draw.  God bless him.

To end on a silly note...Bobby is into silly faces right now and this is his favorite.

Friday, June 23, 2017

A Mother's Instinct

Next morning, Brian was already gone to work when Isaac woke up and I took off his ace bandage to assess and put more ice on it.  He said he was in a lot of pain still and it took him a long time to go to sleep.  Poor guy!

It definitely was still swollen and just not looking right.  If I even touched it gently he wince in pain.  I made him breakfast and had him ice it during breakfast.  I gave him more pain medication.  I called the doctor and they said for a possible break I needed to go straight to the ER.  I quickly got the boys ready for kindergarten, so that I could drop them off on the way.  Hannah and Genevieve agreed to babysit Bobby, and we were off.  We arrived around 9:30am.  They sent us straight to x-ray after doing vitals and checking swelling.  I got a few compliments on my makeshift brace.  Pretty soon, the doctor was walking in saying that he broke his arm.  That took a minute to set in, because I guess I was expecting that Brian would be right again.  However, mother's instinct wins this time.

They showed us the radiograph and, Wow! radius broken all the way through.  I was thinking a hairline fracture at most.  I was not prepared for them telling us we needed to wait on the hand surgeon to look at the films because he was right on the border of needing surgery.  They ended up deciding to do a local block while they set the bone (called a reduction.)  The shot they gave him right in the wrist was the hardest part for him.  She had to leave it in there and push out so much anesthesia.  Isaac was squeezing his eyes shut and crying a bit, but he didn't move or scream and I was very proud of how tough he was. 

The doctor asked if I had any games on my phone he could play.  I really didn't have a single game on the phone.  I downloaded something that looked like Tetrus for him to be distracted by during the rest of the procedure.  She had to manually bend his arm while taking a series of x-rays right there.  Then they finished the cast.  I had already had him choose a color for his cast to distract him from worrying about this whole reduction procedure.  He wanted dark blue, but the nurse doing the casting offered to do glow in the dark stripes with the dark blue and he jumped at that chance.

I'm not sure why it's so bent, but that's the way it's going to be for a while unless there's a problem when we go back next week for quick x-rays to make sure the bones didn't move. 

We finally were finished with everything at 2pm.  We were starving because they didn't want him to eat before the procedure in case they still had to go the anesthesia route.  We walked down to the food court and got his favorite, a meatball sub and a shake.  Then we had to go get the boys from kindergarten.  I had called them and told them we'd be late picking them up because we were still at the hospital.  They were very understanding which made me feel better.  Brian was in an important meeting with his boss and really couldn't get away.

And that was how the summer of Isaac came to an abrupt halt.  No swimming for 4 weeks until the cast comes off.  Then a brace goes on for another 4 weeks in which he is still not allowed to do any activity that could lead to a fall or other injury of his arm.  No baseball, no trampoline, no bike riding, no piano, no homeschool gym, no playgrounds, and definitely no bouncy houses.  No fun, nada.  However, on the bright side, no dish washing duty either because the cast can't get wet.  We thought of some things he does like to do that he can still do, like board and card games, reading, cooking, giant dot to dots, Legos, and movies.  I recommended drawing and getting a head start on next year's schoolwork, but those were not received well.  Other good news is that he gets his cast off before our rafting trip and our beach trip.

We signed his cast after his dad talked him into it.  He said, "I don't ever want to remember this."  I told him it wasn't a keepsake, just a fun thing while he has to wear it.

I also want to add that the casting table he was on, was the same one Genevieve was on 9.5 years ago getting a bright pink cast on her arm.  I'd say 9.5 years free of broken bones was a pretty good run for a family of eight.    If you want to see a picture of that pink-casted cutie, follow this link.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Memorable Father's Day Culinary Hike

Sunday morning we got going a little early to get to Mass early so Isaac could serve for the first time as an altar server.  He was nervous, but the other boys he was serving with made him feel really at ease; I could tell.  He did an amazing job!  I was concerned because during the practices he was swinging the rope around and fidgeting instead of standing still with templed hands.  Apparently, he's been holding out on us because he could totally do it!  We are very proud of him.
First Day of Altar Serving- at age 8, on June 18th, 2017 at the chapel where he was baptized so long ago.

 Then we left Mass, got changed at home, and drove a short ten minute drive over to the culinary hike to meet our friends.  Boy, was it a hike!  Straight uphill!  It was steeper than the first one we went on.  There were tons of stations with food and drink.  The first station was wild boar and deer sausages and salami sticks.  The second station was cheeses and ham.  The third station had coffee and cakes with a slide for the kids.  The fourth station had a bouncy house where I had to stay and watch Bobby and the rest of the kids, so I don't know what food and drinks they had there.  The tenth station had liquors and Kartoffelpuffer mit Apfelmus (potato pancakes with applesauce).

You might be asking what happen to stations five through nine.  Well, we had to skip them because Isaac got really hurt on the bouncy house.  Luckily, there was a short cut to the last station right from there.  He climbed up on the bouncy ledge that all the bigger kids were climbing up to and sitting on.  Hannah was trying to get back up when she grabbed his hand to help pull her up.  This pulled him off suddenly and he caught himself with his left hand, but it hyper-extended and immediately his hand was just dangling there and he said that he couldn't move his hand.  Brian came over to look at it and thought it was a sprain.  He wanted to keep on going with the hike but it became clear that just the jostling from walking was killing him.  I tried to make a sling out of an extra shirt, but there wasn't enough support for it to help.  I volunteered to take the short cut with him back and wait so he could just be still, but everyone agreed to just take the short cut back.  Brian still thought it wasn't broken and so he didn't think a trip to the ER was warranted.  We iced it and I wrapped up a long thin board book and then taped his arm to it with medical tape.  Then I used an ace bandage to wrap it good.  We gave him pain meds and let him watch a movie with the girls after the little ones went to bed.  He couldn't climb up to his bunk, so I made him a bed on the floor with a mattress.  I decided that I'd reassess in the morning and probably take him in for x-rays.

The ledge he fell from in the bouncy house.

Happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Swim with a View and A Swim with Too Many Ridiculous Rules (Not the in the Same Place)

So, ten minutes from our house is this great outdoor pool.  It is pretty cheap at 9 Euros for our family (minus Brian since he's always at work.)  There's another place that is bigger with a giant slide that costs nearly 20 Euros for us.  That is because it has a million indoor and outdoor pools, two big slides, several diving boards, and the big kicker some pools are heated.  The pool close to our house is not heated, so it was pretty cold when we went swimming there for the first time this summer.  The kids mostly (exceptions were Genna and Bobby) only lasted an hour or so.  Bobby was saying he was cold every once in a while, but he didn't quite want to get out.

As I am sitting in the baby pool watching Judah and Bobby play, I realized what a beautiful view it had.  The immediate next thought though was, "I'd trade the view for my friends back at the pool in Maryland in a heartbeat to keep me company."  I have tried to get friends here to come to the pool, but so far no one has taken me up on the offer.  It is just pretty boring to sit and watch kids play for hours without friends or at least being able to read.  One day I'll have only swimmers, and I can read by the pool.

Amazing, right?
After they were too cold to stay in the pool, one at a time, they dried off and went to the little playground inside the pool area.  They all walked by the snack bar and priced things for me for another time.  Looks like we could get lunch there for all of us and still be close to spending the same as just entrance to the other pool.

Two days later, we tried out yet a third pool.  It is an American pool with an entrance fee the same as the pool close to our house, but they were running a special for summer passes for thirty-five dollars.  That's a great deal so I figured since this is indoor only, we could come here when our other pool plans get rained out if nothing else and still come out on top.  I am telling you all this because I was hesitant at first even with the great deal because I have been to this pool last time we lived here only twice because the rules just killed me.  Last time it was "Waste your money on swim diapers, and put them on your kids even though they are potty trained, just because they are not four years old yet."  I detest blanket rules based on age instead of individuals.  I know some people don't hold up their part of the bargain and use their brains when making choices, but why should we all be punished?  Really!

This time it was the same old stuff, blanket rules based on age.  This time it was all about Drew.  Drew is almost six years old, in September to be exact.  He can swim all over the place and down to the bottom of the pool.  He went with his big siblings down the slide right away several times.  It even drops them into shallow water where he can stand.  I had the two little guys with me.  The lifeguard caught him and said that he had to stay within arms reach of his mom and could only go down the slide with an adult.  I went over to talk to the lifeguard and he confirmed this.  I informed him that he could take a swim test, but the lifeguard said that he had to be 6 years old in order to take the test and qualify to get a wrist band.  And no his siblings couldn't take him down the slide either unless they are 18 years old.  He apologized and tried to reassure me that I can take two kids on the slide at the same time (since I was holding Bob at the time.)  I asked him, "What about three?  That one's mine too."  He gave me a sympathetic look like, "You got me there," and went on his merry way.  

After swimming, Bob stayed all wrapped up like that while I packed up our stuff.

Somebody was not happy to leave.
In the end, the guards didn't complain if I couldn't touch all three of my under 6 kids at all times, but no more slide.  Right before we left, I took Bobby over to the kiddie wading pool and had Hannah supervise him while I took Judah and Drew down the big slide.  I guess there were enough moms sitting in the wading pool for the lifeguards not to notice a 12 year old watching a baby.  Now I am a total rule follower, but when you make it impossible for me to follow all the rules, that's when some rules have to bend.  I feel like these kinds of rules are large family discrimination.  Come on!  You try to keep three kids in arm's reach with only two arms, especially when one thinks he's a big kid and knows how to swim.  (By the way, that's why I drove him to swim lessons twice a week all year long!  I wanted to only have to be in arm's reach of two kids this summer because otherwise it's just really not fun.)  Maybe if I was an octopus or had a sheep dog with me it would be a possibility.

This I know:  It will only be a rainy day pool.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Toddlers are Too Cute not to Interview

I was brushing the boys' teeth and Bobby was "brushing" his own teeth.  He said, "Mom, watch this." and brushed and then spit in the bidet.  He kept doing it over and over because we all laughed.  So I got my phone and video taped it.  We were trying to get him to do the whole thing, starting with the, "Watch this," but he wouldn't do that part perhaps since he had our undivided attention already.

Bobby was doing a cute little dance right before bedtime.  He had already picked out his book and was waiting on me.  I did a little interview because the language at this age is just so precious.

This guys is working on his colors.  He mostly gets white and yellow correct, and occasionally red or green too.  When we were all asking him colors after lunch, he got one right that we didn't suspect and the whole table broke out in sudden and boisterous applause and cheers for Bob.  His face at that moment was priceless.  We did a do over and got a toned down proud face, but it is still very worth the video.

Here's a collection of me trying to catch that expression of pure happiness and surprise.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Brian's Rumtopf, Promotion, and Our 16th Anniversary

Brian is hard at work making a Rumtopf which is layers of seasonal fruit soaked in rum.  You let it sit at room temp for a long time.  He's very excited about it.  He has four layers of fruit already soaking.

The brown bottle in the middle is the container for the Rumtopf.

He also made his own strawberry-rhubarb-cello, like lemon-cello, only not.
Speaking of hard work, Brian just found out he was selected for promotion.  Not many vets were promoted last year so he was nervous and thought he wouldn't get it.  That's how he always is, so humble.   We are all so very grateful that he got this promotion.  Thanks be to God!

And to continue with the theme of this post, hard work, our 16th anniversary was this week on the 16th.  Marriage is hard work, but it really doesn't seem like it's been that long.  We are well suited for each other.  We've changed a lot since we first got married, but we are still both devoted to our faith, our God,  and to each other.  Happy anniversary, Brian!

To celebrate, we went out to dinner the night before due to some plans to entertain some friends that are moving soon.  We went to a new restaurant that the locals rave about.  There was a limited menu since it was the day in between a weekend and a German holiday (Corpus Christi).  He has been making his own sausages since Brian and I were two years old and they are amazing!  Just wow.  I've tasted a lot of bratwurst, but wow.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Spring Parade (Even though I just said summer has begun)

This is not even an out of order post, like some of mine have admittedly been lately.  I guess this is still spring for Germans.  The temperature lately varies greatly.  It will be 50s in the morning and low 70s in the afternoon, but then it jumps up to 80s for a few days before the rain cools it off again, and it truly feels like summer.  This particular day was once again back in the mid 80's.

Before the parade began, the kids were cooling off in this fountain in Otterberg.

The parade was an odd assortment, especially at the beginning.  First came the monks from the local monastery.

Then immediately following the monks was the float celebrating the 500 anniversary of the Reformation.  It was complete with a guy dressed like Martin Luther nailing his thesis to the door.

See the sign with the 500 on it?

See the guy nailing the papers to the door in the black robe with the monk hair cut?

Hannah really didn't want to come this time, but Brian wanted this to be a family thing so we made her come.  She was all pouts and grumbles until they started throwing candy at her.  That's all it took to get smiles for the rest of the day.

Then, so as not to leave any religions out I guess, they had a local group of witches after the Martin Luther float.  Don't judge me, but I threw that candy away.  Let's just leave it at that.

After the religious groups, they had other local groups and kindergartens which celebrated different countries in their costumes and floats.
The drums and the heat put this guy to sleep in a hurry.  He missed the whole parade, pretty much.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Summer has begun!

Since it is the moving season around here, we had to sadly say goodbye to some good friends.  We had a picnic with them and other friends the week before they left, had them over for dinner, and then met them at the bowling alley on a week night to say our final goodbyes.  I have bowled exactly one time since I was a kid and I was super proud to have bowled a 131.  I started the game with 2 strikes.  Wahoo!  Maybe we should go bowling more often this summer.  I signed the kids up for free bowling games throughout the summer.  I had to teach Bobby to stand on the rectangle carpet so he wouldn't follow me out there when it was my turn.  He learned very quickly and would go right to his spot when it was my turn.  The adults played on one lane, the girls on one, the boys on one, and then the littlest two boys had a lane to themselves, Judah and his buddy.

Bobby's getting so big and I just want him to stop right where he is.  Another great thing about summer is bare baby arms and legs.  You haven't seen them all winter and they are just so smooth and squeezable.  His new thing to say lately is, "How 'bout..., Mom?"  It's about the cutest thing ever, but we think everything he does is the cutest thing ever.  "How 'bout this, Mom?"  "How 'bout go outside, Mom?"  "How 'bout grapes, Mom?"  How can I say no?  You've really gotta hear it yourself to get the full effect.

My blondies together again!

Then we had quite the thunderstorm that came with a lot of wind.  Brian had just purchased us a new umbrella from the one the wind destroyed last year.  My thoughts are that the umbrellas should only be brought out when we plan to be using them on nice sunny days.  What do you think?

We didn't even hear it shatter over the wind with windows open all over the house.  The kids just went out later to jump on the trampoline and came running back in to show me.

Our roses our blooming like crazy.  Apparently, they don't need any human care here in Germany once they are established.  All our other flowers we planted are not looking this good.  After we hopped out of the van one day I had these three sit by one of the rose bushes for a quick picture.

The kids worked very hard this year despite all our vacations to finish up their grammar, composition, math, and Latin by the summer so that they could have a "real" summer.  This summer actually includes a good deal of work, but I tried to limit the work to 2 hours or less.  They have to do the full Science this summer since we dropped the ball on that one this year and we are aiming for some art projects, ranging from drawing to sewing and needle work.  Here's their daily checklist to start the day off right.

o Chores
o Personal religious reading/prayers
o Play piano
o Duo Lingo
o Throw and catch baseball/ shoot baskets and dribble
o Math for 15 mins
o Journal for 15 mins
o Science lesson
o Study Timeline

I find that no structure, although I am sure they'd get a kick out of it at first, is just a recipe for disaster around here.  German school goes through the summer for the most part and they'd just be arguing and picking at each other if they weren't kept busy.  Some days we'll scrap this for a fully relaxed day if we have other fun summer opportunities.

I have some summer goals for myself as well that include daily prayer, reading, exercise, crafting, and blogging.  It's ambitious, I know, adding up to about two hours of time, but it's worth a shot.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Life happens

The top picture is of Bobby, happy as a clam, waiting outside his sister's basketball practice.  Usually I take them and Brian picks them up, but if Brian can't or is out of town, we just stay because it's a 20 minute drive there.  I have to pack a dinner to go, sometimes I wrap up hot dogs all ready to go in foil or something like pulled pork sandwiches.  I usually put raw veggies and hummus and some fruit in our picnic basket.  The boys think it is fun to eat a picnic dinner.

Bob's learning silly faces.  He'll say, "Mom, Mom, Mom, watch this," and then stick his fingers in the sides of his mouth and pull down for his award winning silly face.

On a few of the hotter days we had pop-cycles on the patio after dinner.  One evening, the big kids were all jumping on the trampoline still and this guy came to get his pop-cycle early and took it out on the patio.  I thought this was just a sweet, peaceful moment to catch with a camera.

We had an incident at the grocery store the other day.  I have been in the habit of taking only Drew and Judah after I pick them up from German school, but this particular time I had Isaac and Drew instead.  Judah usually sits in the child seat and Drew hops on and off the back of the cart for rides.  He started to do that and the cart almost flipped because Judah's weight wasn't there to balance it out.  Luckily, I caught it and warned him not to do it again.  He kept "forgetting" and doing it anyways.  I kept balancing the cart.  And then it happened that I had just let go of the cart to turn and get some produce when he jumped onto the side of the cart.  It flipped over on top of him.  It landed on his leg and pinned him to the ground.  I dropped my list and vegetables and tried to get the cart off of him and upright again.  He was screaming.  As I am struggling to upright the cart, I glance up and see several people standing around watching me.  I was completely embarrassed at the scene we just made and tried to comfort Drew, making sure he was okay after I got the cart up.  Isaac started picking up all our groceries that had spewed out all over the floor, including strawberries that had busted out of their carton and rolled in all directions.  As we shopped, I kept replaying it in my head and what started to bother me more and more was the fact that grown men were not helping me get the cart off of my son.  He was screaming and yet everyone just stood there watching.  When we got in the van, I turned to the boys and said, "Drew, I hope you learned your lesson and will never jump on the cart again.  But more importantly, I hope that when you grow up you won't ever just watch someone in need of help and just stand there staring."  What is this world coming to?  Drew has quite the lumpy bruise on his leg to remind him for a while not to jump on the cart.

Bobby is speaking in such adorable sentences now.  I want grapes, Mom.  Let me see.  I come too.  I do it.  It's hard to resist this precious boy.  He got his second skinned knee the other day after Mass when chasing the big kids.  He was crying, but when he saw the blood he totally kicked it up a notch.  He was difficult to console.  He stopped after a few minutes and wanted back down.  He immediately bent down to look at his boo boo again.  This started the crying all over again.  This kept happening over and over.  Eventually someone brought him a Band-Aid because they felt sorry for him.  This did not help, and he struggled to keep me from getting it on his knee.  I got it on and then he was just crying about the Band-Aid.  Poor guy was exhausted and ready for his nap soon after from all that crying.  What a wimp!  One mom said he is a sensitive soul.  That's the nice way of putting it, I guess.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Watering the Flowers and the Children

On the actual Memorial Day, Brian and I had a date at the flower store to buy flowers for the pots and balcony boxes.  Drew and Judah still had German school so we took them for a shortened day so we could get the flowers.  In the afternoon, we planted them.  Isaac had won this set of pots at the Christmas market in the neighboring village.  He was very excited to help plant flowers in them.  

Although these plants are still doing okay, the lavender is water logged and going to need to be planted in the ground instead.  

Last year, our geraniums did not do well.  Every other box of flowers in the whole country was overflowing and ours never grew at all.  We are hoping for better results this year since we waited a safe time after the last frost date in mid May.  The hanging geraniums in the boxes are not blooming (two weeks later) much anymore.  I'm not sure if they got too much rain or what.  They have drainage holes and yet they still seem to be over-watered.    
It was definitely hot enough to bust out Judah's water table, at a high of 92F on this day.  It doesn't usually get this warm this early in the summer.  I'm afraid it's going to be a hot one, however, it is back down below 70F now as I write this.  He and Bobby have had a blast with the water table.  When it's warm enough in the house, we open the big sliding door to the porch and just leave it open so the boys can go back and forth.  So far the water has only made it inside one time and they stay mostly dry too.  I'm impressed.