This summer has been absolutely gorgeous. I am fairly certain it has only rained maybe 3 times and each one a short burst since we have been here. Locals have informed me this is the first "real" summer they have had in 3 years. Typically, temperatures do not get much higher than 70 degrees. We have enjoyed plenty of sunshine, walks, park time, and even managed to get our toes wet here and there. I have personally slipped on my running. Between trying to adjust to the time difference, living in an apartment in downtown Landstuhl, and Daniel leaving for work in the early morning I have barely managed to get in two runs a week. I have told myself I will deeply regret not taking advantage of this summer weather once the rain and colder temperatures roll in. Once we get into school (which we are now registered for and starts in a week and a half) I plan on getting back in it. However we have had plenty of other tasks and activities keeping us busy.
We have been busy little bees with all kinds of in-processing things. The most time consuming chore on our list was house hunting. At first, we were so excited to look at the german homes. How romantic is it to find a traditional German home located in a quaint town, where each little village has their own kindergarten and bakery? However... the pieces were just not falling into place to make that romantic German dream a reality. Every home we looked at seemed to disappear before we even had a chance to call or inquire. So we finally got smart. We were watching the online listings like hawks. A ridiculously daunting task to say the least. As soon as a home that looked interesting would pop up, we would take to the cell phone as quickly as humanely possible. We were always the second interested party. We lost a few homes this way. Guess we just were not as quick to the draw as we needed to be. Needless to say, after looking at 8 homes (yes... 8.... and you know Daniel and I always act fast!) we were at a loss. I finally found a listing for new construction in the quaint little town of Weilerbach Germany. It was not exactly what we had in mind. We honestly were sticking to our romantic notions of renting a German home in a town with not many Americans, rolling green hills, tiny streets, the younger two in a German Kindergarten (although I am not giving up on this last dream just yet).... all with its own unique story and charm.
The house we ended up renting is a brand new construction, we are the first to ever occupy. It has a larger lot than most German homes. It is on a small little residential street, bike trails running behind it, the school bus stop on the corner, walking distance to local shops, parks and soccer field. There will be plenty of American families surrounding us (we originally wanted to immerse as much as possible). For the first time the kids will be able to walk or ride their bike to parks, fields, and friend's houses. We have never gone to school with the same kids in our neighborhood. They will have the opportunity to play sports with all the local kids. The house is 3800 square feet (yes... those are your tax dollars at work), 5 bedroom, 3 bathrooms, amazing kitchen, big open loft with bar on the third floor... So maybe our German dream has experienced a minor revision. We are still in a quaint German town. We will just have a little more of the United States at our disposal than what we originally set out for. We hope to move in next week sometime.
Front of house
Front of our new home for the next 3 years
Large area of "soon to be grass" in our new yard
The first weekend after we arrived, Landstuhl was having a local fair. We decided to walk the kids down there on Saturday evening and enjoy a beer and brat for dinner. They had plenty of food, drink, rides, and games. Teddy and Patrick immediately saw the bumper cars and had to get on those bad boys. I am pretty sure they go just a touch faster than the bumper cars back in the states. They had a great time and rode them twice. However when we sat down to eat it was obvious Teddy was suffering from a rather large seatbelt burn on his neck! Luckily there were no complaints of whiplash. Rowan and Liam took a few trips around the block on the fire truck and luckily there were no resulting injuries.
Teddy and his seatbelt burn
Rowan and Liam on the fire truck
Last Saturday we took the kids to the dinosaur park in Kaiserslautern. It is actually called Gartenschau Kaiserslautern, Garden Show. It has the largest open air dinosaur exhibit in Europe. The replicas show the evolution of the dinosaurs in the different geological ages from Devon to Cretaceous. The trails wind through breath-taking flower gardens, deep forests, and around to open fields. It also had the most amazing playgrounds I have ever seen! Daniel and I could not stop asking ourselves why you cannot find play equipment like this in the states? The kids were thrilled. The kids walked, up and down I don't know how many stairs to slides. The rope course was amazing. There were disc and basket swings the kids could crawl and lounge inside. You name it, they had it. Outdoor table tennis, soccer courts, skate park, and sand volleyball courts. There were even water features! Pictures just do not do it justice. And the kicker? Daniel could sit in the grass under the shade of a tree drinking beer while watching the kids. The cost? $16 entrance for a family of 6 and fun for everyone! The atmosphere is exactly why I love Europe and wanted to come back. Whole families everywhere. Little kids running around in their skivvies that failed to pack a swim suit... but who cares? People napping on lounge chairs under trees. Families gathered around picnic benches with coolers overflowing with food and drink. This is what life is all about.
Patrick on the rope course
Rowan on the rope course
Patrick in the castle on a log draw bridge
Rowan hitting the trails
See? Daniel in the grass with a beer.
Isn't this incredible?! Liam was all about these slides!! Funny story about these slides. Daniel and I were sitting in the grass when we watched a beautiful blond haired little girl approach Teddy. They spoke very briefly when we saw Teddy shake his head no and dart up the stairs. When asked what that little girl said to him, Teddy responded, "I have no idea. I told her I am not from this country and I don't speak German." I later ran into the little girl myself and she spoke perfect English and told me she's from Florida and just visiting. Our theory is Teddy wants nothing to do with girls and gave the girl no opportunity to speak, and only heard noises like Charlie Brown's teacher.
Daniel and Teddy
Me and my bambinos
Daniel with the bambinos.
Finally! One of both of us!
The kids in the dino mouth.
So I understand this post is a bit long winded but I swear I am getting close to wrapping this up! We also took the kids to a park in Homberg Germany. I am not sure the name of it, but we call it The Pirate Ship Park. I am fairly certain that is not necessarily what it is called by the locals. Anyway, once again, Germany hit a home run with this park! Aside from the skate park, rock climbing wall, and slide, it also had a fairly large pond with a pirate ship right in the middle. And what is a family park in Germany without a beer garden? Oh yes. This park came complete with a beer garden. And the Karlsberg brewery right across the street. I saw some boys around Teddy's age walking around with buckets in the pond water. I asked them in my half English/severely murdered German what was in their bucket. How do you say polywog in German? I wasn't sure but come to find out its just polywog. Quickly our two oldest were also searching for polywogs. I also spoke with an older couple there with their 9 grandchildren. They took all 9 grandchildren to the park themselves! The children seemingly ranged from about 15 down to 3. They were so involved. The older children helping the younger, the Oma and Opa (grandma and Grandpa) playing with the children, rolling up their pants and wading in the water. Once again another fun day.
Kids playing on the rafts, big beer garden in the background.
Teddy and Patrick in front of the pirate ship.
Looking for polywogs
Until next time,which I will make sure is not this long again, Guten Tag!