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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Madrid


This was the last of stop of the March adventures and the friend I went with does not want to be disclosed but we had a blast.  We were in Madrid for 1,5 days so not a whole lot of time; however, Madrid was charming and really really cold. 













After we checked into the hotel, we wondered throughout Madrid and made our way to Retiro Park.  It was fun - we weren't so tired yet and the weather was beautiful.  It's similar to many other European parks with the statues in the middle of well laid out paths and a lake in the middle.
Look at the beautiful sky!
After the park,we went to Prado Museum - it was the only museum we visited in Madrid, but there are many more for those with more time.  Prado Museum has free entrance 2 hours before it closes but you have to be ready to wait in line.  The line moves quickly but they do give each person a ticket and we probably waited for around 30-40 minutes which means once we got into museum we only had a little over an hour to see it.  The museum itself is not huge but definitely not small.  We looked on the map and decided to go with the main exhibition which includes Vasquez, Raphael and Goya (plus many others but those are the names that kind of drew our attention).  We were extremely tired (traveling for half the day and then walking around Madrid for several hours) but we exhibition is great, I wish I had more time to see it and more than that I wish I could of taken a guided tour.  The museum is really that good (in my humble opinion).

On the second day we ended up buying hats because we knew that there was no way we could handle Walking tour without them.  Yes, I do look funny but was completely worth it. We spent most of the day  walking around, enjoying the Spanish food and wines, taking it all in.



 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

I am back!

Seemingly as of late I have no time to do anything for anything but minimal survival and as I was thinking it was time to drop this blog, I got a "signs' that I should attempt to keep it up.
  • March had been fun but busy - Chris and I went to Portugal (Porto and Lisbon), I went to Spain (Barcelona and Madrid) with a friend, and all of us went to Burg Rieneck with Cub Scouts.
  • Easter brought some interesting discussions to our house.  We do not discuss God or anything religion related unless it's either relevant (we are going to Vatican or such) or they ask.  Ilya had some questions earlier this year when Cub Scouts were doing their Duty to God requirement and he was the only kid in his den not to attend church or say prayers.  I told him that if he is interested we would take him to a church and he can learn all about religion.
  • Spring is finally here and it's awesome!!!  We are at the park, we are biking, Andrei got new roller blades and enjoying the weather.
  • Part of spring (for some reason) includes tons of doctor appointments including monthly allergy shots, monthly dermatologists, dentists, speech therapies, occupational therapies, etc.  
  • Day after tomorrow Chris along with Andrei and Ilya is opening up their camping season with the a trip with Boy Scouts to Luxemburg.  Andrei is transitioning from Cub Scouts to Boy Scout so it should be an interesting summer.
Anyway, I am back and planning on staying here for some time :)  

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Life was busy with us going to Portugal, my mom was here for 2 weeks and I am heading out to Barcelona and Madrid today.  And we got 2 new appliances in your home yesterday and everybody is really excited.  We got a new induction oven. 

For comparison purposes - first pictures is the old fridge, second is the new upgraded version.  American style with water and ice always available - I no longer have to ration how much frozen food I can buy!

 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Week #7 - cracked fingers and all

I missed last week (#6) because sometimes life happens a bit too fast.  So here is a quick summary - on top of his chipped bone Chris has bronchitis (so he tells me) and was sick last week.  There is a stereotype of men being sick and I feel like it was based on Chris.  Enough said about that ... Ilya hurt his finger at school and I assumed it was just a bruise except it kept hurting and kept being warm to the touch so we ended up going to ER and it turns out he cracked it and had to wear a plastic protector which made it nearly impossible for him to write.  It made our life fairly miserable last week because he is somewhat a perfectionist and he does get a grade on his handwriting.  Of course, lets not forget Fasching - Anton had 4 parties to get to!  Andrei and Ilya had parties at their schools and neither one was at all excited about it.

We have a lovely library in our town.  It's really close to our house (ok, everything in our town is really close to us), I pay 15 euros for a family card and we can take out a lot of books, I don't remember how many but we've never an issue and we take between 10 and 15 each time.  The library has audio books, videos and WII games along with books except we can't play WII games because we have an American system which is not compatible with the European games.  The library does offer a selection of English titles for both kids and adults.  However, there are some things that also drive me crazy (probably because I am a spoiled American :)  The videos have to be returned within 7 days, books within 3 weeks.  There is no drop off box for the books so even if I don't want to go to the library, I have to find the time when it's open to drop the books off.  It opens at 10 and closes at 6 during the weekday, 10 to 1 on Saturday and closed on Sunday.  Not exactly super user friendly to be honest, and I don't even work.  Second problem that I have had with them is the lack of recommendations.  Every so often I see "reading lists" in both Russian and English and find them pretty helpful.  There are so many books available out there that sometimes it's a bit overwhelming as to what the kids should read.  Anyway, I went to ask the librarian about books that are recommended for the 3rd grades and her suggestion was a room that holds all the books for kids between 6 and 9 years old.  Thanks lady - I can read where the books are located, I am just at a loss as to which books to get!  I have very vague idea about German authors, classics, and popular children's literature.  As of now we agreed that we get the books we get but the boys don't have to finish reading them if they don't like something.  Not ideal but I would rather encourage them to read than keep pushing and turn them off from reading altogether.

The winter was back for exactly one day yesterday and I got some nice pictures.  The library is in background.

P.S.  German doctor at ER asked me about Super Bowl and which teams were playing - I am so not the right person for that question.  The store had this to help people celebrate Super Bowl, I guess ...



Thursday, February 01, 2018

Week #5


  • I finally convinced Chris to see a doctor since he fell down skiing and his hand has been hurting for about a month now .  Advantages of living in Germany - free and/or cheap doctors.  Disadvantage - he had to spent the entire day dealing with it but in the end he now has a brace because he chipped a bone.
  • Anton's pretty much healed after his tonsil/adenoid surgery but goes in for a final check up on Monday.  His speech therapist explained to me why his voice changed and it's actually an interesting tidbit of useless trivia.  When we talk our tongues get used to only going so far until they hit the tonsils and when those tonsils are shorted that creates an air gap.  This should close as his tongue (which is a muscle) will start hitting his new shortened tonsils. Good for us (and also see the point above) - free surgery, free follow up, free medicine.  
  • Our travel plans have expended and I am going to Barcelona and Madrid with a friend.  Hi friend!!! Family trip to Manchester, England is coming up in May as well.  We are looking into some other opportunities within driving distance of Frankfurt for some 4 day trips.  Exciting times!
  • Andrei has a huge test "on body" next week.  He has to know tons of bone names and internal organs, how things work,etc. so from now until next Thursday it's pretty much study time nearly every day and it's exciting that Andrei is the one that wants to learn and get a good grade.  I can't wait until Ilya gets to that point as well - right now Ilya just wants to get good grades, not so much in the studying department.
  • Fasching activities start in 2 days and Anton is EXTREMELY excited!  Stay tuned for pictures next week.
  • Last weekend activities:


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Week #4 - Anton update

This week's update is pretty much just on Anton as he and I spent all week together.

Anton had his adenoids removed and his tonsils shortened on Tuesday.  The doctors do not recommend removing the tonsils completely because they help to stop some infections and with his history of bronchitis, he will likely be sick a bit too much for our taste.  Thankfully, he is doing pretty good with the help of our friends ibuprofen.  The surgery was super quick - about 30 minutes max as was overall experience - checked in at 7:30, released by 10.  Then spend another 15 minutes looking for Chris who went to the actual hospital instead of the outpatient part. 
 I wasn't planning on taking a picture but wanted to see if Anton fell asleep.
Anton got accepted into a school which we hoped he would be but there is always a chance that something might go wrong.  So here is the update since the last time I wrote about his and his school options.  After spending 2 days in testing and talking to the people at the school for kids with hearing issues, we were told that he has an auditory processing disorder.  The best way to explain it is that he has no problems hearing but his brain does not process the words.  I am still trying to figure out how that works.  Anyway, the school is equipped to deal with children like Anton - they use a lot more visual clues and they teach reading in a different way because let's be honest if you can't hear too good, then reading will really not make any sense.  He will continue his speech therapy and will probably get ergotherapy as well but we are hoping that starting next year both therapies will be done at school.  The school is in Frankfurt and he will have a school bus (no details yet, not a fan of this - would much rather have him walk) and it provides free aftercare with homework help.  They follow the exact curriculum as the regular public schools so that Anton will be able to switch into regular school without too many problems if we decided to change it up.  As a side note - not clear on the whole sign language.  We know they use it, but haven't figured out if kids who come in not knowing learn it.  And of course German sign language and American sign language have very little in common.  Now that he is officially accepted, we are going to go in for an orientation day later in the year and try to get some more answers.


A bit more on auditory processing disorder (not that I know all that much so take it all with a grain (or really a teaspoon) of salt) - there is no cure, but there are ways that kids are taught to live with it and adapt which is why having therapies is important.  Again, Anton will be taught in a different way that will hopefully work with his brain.  And yes, his brain works differently than the majority of people and life is not always easy but that's what makes him so amazing at a lot of things - he loves to built things out of paper, Lego, magnetic tiles, wood, etc, he loves to be read to, he LOVES his big brothers, he loves, loves, loves :)  In States, the disorder is not listed the Holy Bible of Medicine that is DSM-5 therefore the support in schools as well as by some health insurance providers is not required.

I finished A2 level in German (for the second time) and will start B1 in about 2 weeks.  From what I hear it's significantly harder but I'd like to get to a more decent level of German by the beginning of next school year. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

Plans for 2018

I have a theoretical new plan for 2018 regarding this blog which includes me posting at least something (as short at it might be) everyday except when we travel.  I am not sure how this will hold up in reality!

Our plans for 2018 so far include adenoid removal and tonsil reduction surgery coming up next week, trip to Portugal in February, 2 new schools in August, many so-far unplanned trips- we might revisit some old places but definitely want to see new countries.  Anton has been asking to go to Paris :)I am sure there is a lot of things that I am not currently thinking about (Friday night after a long week).

Regular weeklies will still include 2 speech therapies, 2 Kumon lessons, reading therapy, ergo therapy, acrobatics, cub scouts (fun but very time consuming), English school, swimming club, art class and a chess class.  We pulled Ilya and Andrei out of English school which will make our Saturdays a lot easier but the current plan is for them to work on their English at home which I still have no plan for but have looked into 4 different homeschooling curriculum's - Fix It Grammar, All About Reading, Institute for Exceptional Writing, and the Logic of English. 

One of the weird things about renting in Germany is that we are required to make upgrades to the house every so often and Chris has decided to modernize and Americanize our house.  This will include getting an American-style refrigerator which will have water feature, vegetable crisper, and a freezer that will be able to hold more than one frozen pizza box (only a slight exaggeration).  He is also looking to upgrade our washer and dryer which will make my life so much better!  A very small cycle should not take 2,5 hours - 50 minutes to wash, 1,5 hours to dry :(

So that's our life for now and hopefully I will be able to keep to my plan of posting once a week.