In February, Teddy (currently age 12) transferred into the 6th-grade in a competitive, fast-paced German school. His diligence and determination to overcome the adversity of an education in a foreign language truly paid off. He is earning fantastic grades in Math, Science, French, English and German. He is learning French in a German-speaking class. In other words, he must translate all the words from French into German, and then to English for deeper understanding. Teddy just started basketball season with the Americans on base. Teddy has the opportunity to play on a team with his two best friends whose dad is coaching the team. Teddy also enjoys going to a Parkour class in our village once a week. Teddy has a new interest in politics and is extremely interested in learning about various political figures, as well as how the system works.
In August Patrick (currently age 11) began his 4th year in German primary school. He is "top dog" this year, as a 4th-grader. Patrick always has a line of friends at our gate starting at 7:15 with friends who want to walk to school with him, until 6 pm when it is time to call him in for the night. He speaks fantastic conversational German, speaking more German most days than he does English. Patrick is the captain of his school soccer club this year! Each child in the club must be asked to be a member. Patrick played little league baseball in the Spring. His favorite positions were shortstop and second base. Patrick loves to play just about any sport with soccer as his favorite. He also loves riding his skateboard and just chilling with his friends.
Rowan (currently age 9) is in the 3rd grade at the German primary school. Rowan has a shy side but according to her teacher, is well liked among her classmates. She is an extremely bright girl and a fast learner. Her teacher is always telling us how impressed she is with how fast she picks up on things. Rowan loves to ride bikes and rollerblade with her friends. Just this week we visited a Christmas market and we all ice skated. I kept following Rowan around the ice and enjoyed watching her just skate by herself, practice jumping, and holding her arms to the side with one leg kicked back. Rowan is extremely imaginative and often caught up in her own beautiful world. She loves all music, dancing, singing, tumbling, and is a strong Math and German student.
Liam (currently age 6) is in the 1st grade at German primary school. This is a big year for Liam. German children do not start formal schooling until the 1st grade. This is the first year school has not been all about play for Liam. He is adjusting quite well. Liam loves being in the school with his older siblings. When walking past the school I often see Liam playing soccer with Patrick and the other boys in the schoolyard! Liam loves to play with the older kids, and Patrick is always there to include him. Liam is learning how to read and write in German for the very first time. As difficult as this task is, he is also learning to read and write in English at home. Despite how complicated this can be at times, I am amazed at how he keeps all the rules straight. He is making incredible progress! Liam wants to join a soccer team and possibly learn martial arts. He loves to build legos, and make things out of any materials he can find around the house. He is the next Macgyver!
Daniel is enjoying the challenges and rewards as the director of IT with 5th Signal Command "Dragon Warriors." In January, Daniel had the opportunity to take a work trip back to Fort Huachuca and spend some precious time with his family. When he is not busy defending the cyberspace domain for the European and African Theaters of operation, he likes to work out, read, and maintain the garden.
Earlier this year I finally finished my degree in Communications and this fall began working on a graduate degree in Educational Technology through Arizona State University. I can complete my coursework from home and still be here for the kids with school, homework, after-school activities, etc. I still try to run, however, I am not as consistent as I need to be (New Years Resolution). I have also had the opportunity to work as a freelance writer for a local newspaper called the Kaiserslautern American. I have written on a number of subjects from travel, health and wellness, to local news.
Before I wrap this up, I wanted to share some words of wisdom. I told the kids I was writing a little yearly update to our loved ones and asked if they had any tips for a happy and successful new year. Here were their responses:
"Expect the worst and hope for the best." Teddy, age 12
"Even when you feel alone, you never really are alone in your heart." -Patrick, age 11
"Make sure to pack all the things you need the night before." -Rowan, age 9
"Pay attention!" -Liam, age 7
It is a new year. 365 days. Which means 365 new chances. This is the beginning of anything we want. A new year, new chances, new experiences, new knowledge, and new goals mean nothing if we are stay within our comfort zones.
With these pearls of wisdom in mind, dream big. Love with all your heart. Find peace in difficult moments. Be generous with others. May the new year bring you amazing opportunities, joyful experiences, and beautiful moments.
Rape Seed Fields, May 2016
Goslar, Germany August 2016