Monday, December 22, 2014

Updates, Birthdays, Christmas Markets!

We have much to report on from this Fall season.  Many changes, many new events!

Daniel's organization with work is growing tremendously.  In light of these opportunities Daniel hired an old friend from the Navy Matt Harms.  The Harms family and us have so much in common.  Daniel and Matt served on the Belleau Wood together for 3 years.  Matt and Daniel also worked together at the TNOSC on Fort Huachuca.  Matt and Kathy also have 4 children- 3 boys and a girl.  Our families are all of similar ages and we have so much fun when we are together.  We are so grateful to share this experience with them.   

We have had the opportunity to do a few activities together and travel a bit since their move in October.  We visited a fabulous outdoor park complete with petting zoo here in Kaiserslautern.  It is a perfect outing for 2 families with 8 children.  

We also trick or treated this year together in Weilerbach.  Halloween is not a German holiday.  The only reason any Germans participate in this American holiday is because of the large American presence here in the Kaiserslautern area.  Needless to say we were able to hit up 10-15 houses, perfect for not having too much left over candy.  

We have also had the opportunity to travel to the Mainz Christmas Market together.  Mainz is the capital of the Rhineland.  It was founded as a military post in the late 1st century BC by the Romans.  The city is located right on the Rhine River.  It is famous for the invention of the moveable printing press by Gutenberg.  Germans also celebrate the feast of Saint Nicholas.  The children put out the biggest shoes they own.  In the morning when they wake up, their shoes may have a small toy, candy, oranges or clementines, nuts, or other little goodies.  My kids asked me if they could try putting their shoes out.  I told them Saint Nicholas only visits German children.  We are not German.  He does not visit Americans!

Liam started German Kindergarten in November.  So far he is loving the experience.  His teacher tells me he speaks to all the kids in English, whether they understand him or not.  He also sings along with the class when they sing songs, making up his own words and sounds.  I can hardly wait to report he is speaking German as well as his siblings.  

Teddy, Patrick & Rowan are doing fabulous in school.  Everyone tells me they speak German beautifully.  My German neighbor tells me she sees constant improvement with their language.  

Patrick and Rowan turned 7 and 9 on the 3rd and 5th of December. Rowan's birthday was the first good snow of the year. We woke up that morning to a winter wonderland!  I told her, "it snowed last night for you!  Just like the day you were born!"  She told me, "That is because I am a snow girl!"  

Patrick and Rowan had a joint rock climbing party at a German rock climbing facility in Kaiserslautern.  They had a trainer work with their group (4 friends of Rowan's, 4 friends of Patrick's from school, as well as us and the Harms) for an hour.  I was so impressed and happy to be a fly on the wall, watching them interact with their friends, and watching them follow instructions and respond to their German trainer.  They had a fantastic day.  Rowan says it was "the best day ever."

Daniel & Belle in the Wild Park Kaiserslautern

checking out the deer.  8 Finley and Harms kids.

Look at that, Dad!

Making a fort in the woods.

Liam's first day of school.

My big boy.

A welcome sign to Liam and a couple other new classmates in the Kindergarten.

My girl's school photo.  1st grade in Germany is a special year.  So Rowan got special photos.

Balancing on a rope at the rock climbing center.

Rowan and her friends Alina and Lee from school.  Celine is in the back.

Patrick's friend Emmanuel and Carmile from school.  Emmanuel's family is from Uganda, Carmile's family is Polish. 

Liam and the trainer.

Kids taking direction.

Paddy Pumpkins turns 9!

Playing some foosball.

Cake time!

Cake time!

Rowan opening her gifts.

First snow of the year.

First snow of the year.

Liam and I walking to Kindergarten.

Liam and I walking to Kindergarten.

Patrick opening his presents.

Rowan and Saint Nicholas.

Speyer Christmas Market

Speyer Christmas Market

Tower in Speyer

They shot arrows of this thing!

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