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Friday, September 01, 2017

Our plans for the future

Our current lifestyle is rather interesting.  We are not (im)migrants, we are not military, and we are not fully expats. Our kids do not go to international school, they go to local German schools; we have to deal with German government services yet our knowledge of German is rather limited (we make it work nonetheless).

This week we said goodbye to our friends who are moving to Israel by the end of the week.  It sucks for us but we are happy for them.  It took them about 4 months from "we might go" to "leaving on Sunday."  More or less the same time frame our move happened.  Partially because of them, partially because of wanting to have less stuff, we have been clearing our stuff - file cabinet, baby/toddler books, some random stuff. 

The question that while is not always on our mind, but comes up regularly enough is how long are we planning on staying here.  According to our original plan, we were not even supposed to be here in Germany as I type this up on September 1 of 2017.  We were supposed to move back this summer.  At this point, we are taking it one school year at a time - right now Andrei is going to finishing Grundschule (4th grade) here and Ilya will finish 3rd grade.  Are we staying here for another year after that?  Only time will tell.  But definitely stay tuned for our explorations in next steps of our children's education- it will be an exciting ride :)

Here is the thing though - we have enjoyed watching our kids grow up here.  They are getting an amazing experience, learning to be a bit more independent than they probably would of been had we stayed in Pittsburgh, they are speaking,reading and writing in German and Ilya also in Russian.  We have traveled to so many incredible places.  Life here is not always easy but it seems like it's certainly worth the troubles.  And we probably would of have "troubles" in Pittsburgh as well.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

First week of school

Last week was first week of school for all 3 boys, so before I forget I wanted to get it written down.  I will get back to our USA vacation as well as our Ireland vacation and our spring break ... you get the idea.  So from youngest to oldest... 

Anton did a really good job going back to kindergarten but he is speaking a lot of English to his teachers.  Adjustment is a bit slow; however, he is having lots of fun :)  He is probably in his last year of kindergarten but we will have to see how his "matures" this year because the elementary school principle has to interview him and decide whether Anton can sit through 4 classes a day! Anyway, Anton has a little more work to do this year as his is officially a Vorschuler and very proud of it :)  He will be going to Vorlauf class 3 times a week where he gets extra German lessons, he will be going to to recorder lessons (not sure how often) and he will start preschool classes after the fall break in October. 




Ilya started 3rd grade and the school is getting a bit harder for him this year but he is also understanding a bit more of what he wants and does not want.  For example, as much as he liked Logic classes he no longer wants to stay at school until 18:00 to take that class.   No more dancing or theater either.  He has 7 kids in his class this year including 1 additional boy!  Ilya has more or less the same classes as last year with the addition of social studies in German as well as Russian and additional math class in Russian.  He will will take additional art class at school and he started German tutoring with his German teacher.


 
















Andrei's 4th grade has been fairly uneventful so far.  He has the same classes minus religion.  After speaking with his teacher, we decided that the amount of work required for that class is not what Andrei currently needs.  

All 3 boys will attend English school and swimming classes on Saturday.  Ilya will also attend arts and crafts as well as art class on Saturday.  

First week of school last year: http://mariaknorr.blogspot.de/2016/09/first-week-of-school-done.html

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Our time in Pittsburgh ...

We had a great time in Pittsburgh even though the ending did not go exactly as planned, and the time went by too fast.  We visited with some friends but not everybody we wanted, we enjoyed playground and pool time, gone fishing, did homework and some yard work. 




 


Monday, July 24, 2017

Ireland, part 2

Caves are kind of another one of those Irish attractions that is somewhat a must.  We choose Aillwee cave - partially because its location worked with our planned path, partially because it sounded pretty cool.  Guided tour is a the only way to see it and it was our family and another couple – so semi-private.  The tour guide was super kid friendly and answered about 100 questions that Andrei had.  The cave itself is about buzzilion years old going back to Ice Age, it was discovered in 1940s, but nothing done with it until 1970s.  The stalactites and stalagmites are over 100 years old that we were able to see and even touch and an underground river and the waterfall at the end of the of the path were absolutely worth the experience.  



Corcomboe Abbey sounded really cool when I read about it - it was 13th century monastery that was built out of local limestone and located in the beautiful scenic mountains.  The beautiful scenery also makes it a bit hard to get to and it's also a bit out of the way so honestly speaking - it's ok to pass on seeing this particular attraction.
The road to the Abbey
 



Another off the beaten path attraction is Hook Head Lighthouse. The tower actually goes back to 12th century and was initially controlled by monks.  The walls are over 4 meters (13 feet) thick, it's about 4 stories high and it's pretty dark inside so it was hard to take the pictures.  On top of the lighthouse it's really cold and windy so we had to really bundle up even though it was October.  At the end of the tour all the kids got to ring the horn which was awesome but also oh so loud!  There were a lot of kids too :)

 



 

Irish story, part 1


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Ireland, part 1


I really enjoy going back through our travels and hope that at some point I can stay on top of things but that time is not now :)

The plans for our fall break (nearly a year ago!) were a bit spontaneous as Chris saw sufficiently cheap tickets to Ireland and we just went.  We traveled around the island and while in 7 days you cannot visit every single thing, you can see a big part of Ireland.

We flew into Dublin, rented a car and went north where we spend our first 2 nights at a Pillo Hotel in Ashbourne that had a fitness center with a pool attached to it, 2 restaurants to choose from and a working wi-fi.

On the following morning we started out exploring Battle of the Boyne.  The battle was hugely significant in Irish history since it pitted Catholics (James II of England) versus Protestants (William of Orange) and as we all know that conflict lasted many years.  Funny enough (according to Wiki) most of the Irish people supported James because he declared freedom of religion in England and Scotland and promised that Ireland would have a right of self-declaration.  The other side, the Protestants, did not believe that and thought that Catholics would rule over them.  William won in case anybody is curious.  The battle field is a green grass field and a tiny but good museum especially for those of us that know nothing about Irish history which I knew very little about.  

It was a rather chilly morning so we made our way to next destination – Newgrange.  Passages that are at least 5000 years old – how can we not go?!?  The only way to get inside is with the guided tour but it was less than 30 minutes long and Anton could play with the dirt so it worked out.  The guide was not so informative - there is no information on how the massive rocks got to the middle of Ireland?  She did tell us that during winter solstice the light that penetrates the rocks is amazing and if you want to see it, there is waiting list to get in.  The boys said that it was definitely a highlight for them.  It was definitely very impressive that something that old is still standing still.






















Our last attraction for the day was Hill of Tara – now think of a really really big hilly open field and that’s exactly what Hill of Tara looked like.  Hill of Tara is supposedly seat of High King of Ireland, and Ireland's history is a complicated so Wiki was my friend during this trip.  Hill of Tara was a great place for boys to run around and expand their energy, but there is not much to see.  However, both Chris and I agreed that it’s a bit creepy though with crows flying over an abandoned church and nothing else.






Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Festival at Andrei's school

At the end of every school year Andrei's school puts up a festival.  Festival is fun, kids put up shows, school provides games, book sale (where this year Andrei got a book for free), and bake/sausage/beer/prosecco sale. 

This year Andrei was in 2 shows - acrobatics and a fashion show.  We unfortunately did not take any pictures during acrobatics performance but Andrei did several somersaults and was really timid. Acrobatics is one of the programs that are offered through extended day at his school and Andrei has been doing that since January.

One of the games - throw a ball and if you hit the bulls eye, you get  candy flying at you which you have to catch.

We did take some pictures during the fashion show.  Andrei came up with his own "costume" and as you can see from his face, he was pretty funny about walking the "red carpet."   



Friday, July 14, 2017

One week in America

We've been in the States for a week now ...  no specific order.  We are on vacation but life is just easier here
  • The washers are bigger which means I can do laundry in under 2 hours instead of 5. 
  • The restaurants are bigger and the amount of food served is plenty.
  • It rained every single day and the humidity is horrible.
  • Air conditioning is everywhere and it's cold everywhere!
  • English is spoken everywhere - surprise, right ... Here is the weird part - people want to talk to me and chit chat.  I spoke to more people I've never seen and will never see again like at the playgrounds, stores, etc.  I guess people are just friendlier :)
  •  Kids need to supervised.  I love that in Germany I can send them to park on their own; here - not so much. 
  • Waiting for a school bus to arrive is not fun.
  • Stores are seemingly always open. 

2 out of 3 musketeers :)