I glance up at this sign almost everyday as I navigate the tricky pedestrian/bike traffic on my ride to pick up the twins. Each time, my brain reads, “Witchcraft Gymnasium.”
Yesterday we experienced a German doctor’s office for the first time. Thankfully, no one is sick or injured. The twins’ fifth birthday is next week, and it was time for a check-up.
A visit to the doctor's office was a visit to her actual office. The room was enormous with a large desk, an exam table, several chairs, and a lot of toys. We barely waited, and the exams were efficient. When it was over, Lee started to cry because he didn’t want to leave.
A challenge of living here is breaking rules I didn’t know existed.
That said, when Vinnie asked if they could play in this empty fountain while waiting for the tram, I said okay. There was no signage forbidding it, and the tram would eventually appear.
I took a couple of the kids’ friends to a park this afternoon, and we played Simon Says. It was hilarious. We had quite an audience too.
At Oberlin, Vinnie’s class is awarded marbles for good behaviour. Her elementary school in Princeton has a similar incentive program for students. Once the jar is filled, the class gets something special. At Riverside, a popular prize is pajama day. Sometimes we’d hear about sweets or pizza as rewards.
Vinnie’s class filled their marble jar last week. On Sunday afternoon, we received an email that the class’s reward was an ice skating trip the next day. No permission forms and pleas for chaperones weeks in advance. The school just took the kids on a fun outing for three hours during the school day. The only requests were that the children be properly dressed and nourished. Thankfully, Vinnie already had a snowsuit.
She had a great time. Sometimes we get bogged down with the language barrier. Thom hates having to type out the directions of his homework into Google translate everyday. It hasn’t been easy for my American kids to go to school in Germany. But, once in awhile, there are happy surprises.
On cardio days, I try to find a machine looking out to the street. My gym is on the second floor of the building, and it’s a nice view of the happenings below. There is often construction, and I channel my inner toddler and mindlessly watch the vehicles and their operators work.
This morning was particularly exciting. I saw a man get lifted in a cherry picker to change the bulbs on a street light four stories tall. In the rain.
The highlight of the day, however, was a bike. Some of the bikes here have wheelbarrow type containers built between the handlebars and the front wheel. Today I saw one with a 50+ pound brown labradoodle in one. It was hilarious.
Despite the thirty minutes between buses to the train station, we always enjoy visiting our friends in their village. Everything looks more picturesque out there--even the giant piles of dirt.
We celebrate half-birthdays in our family. Nothing over the top--I make a cookie. Half birthday cookies were how all my kids were introduced to fractions. Thom turned ten and a half today. I splurged on real M&M’s to make this year’s extra special.
Rome was grand. The weather was perfect. We walked for miles, ate delicious food, and enjoyed one another.
I loved Rome when I was here the summer of 2003. It was my last city on my five-week backpacking adventure before returning to England for five weeks of class in Cambridge. Almost fifteen years later, I still love Rome, but this was a different experience. Instead of staying in a campground outside the city, Lauren found us a lovely bed and breakfast. Our host gave us great recommendations around the city. (Gelato!) We liked it there so much, we decided to stay even though it lost hot water on Saturday.
One can never do everything in a place like Rome, but we explored a fair amount. The standbys of Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Panthenon, and many of the plazas were easy to check off. Lauren and I are neither very comfortable in crowds so we didn’t hang out in the tourist-ridden places that long.
The Vatican on Saturday wasn’t too crowded, and we paid the 8€ (something I wouldn’t do in 2003) to climb to the top of St Peter’s Basilica. That was intense. The stairs in the dome are almost tunnels. At one point it was so steep there was a rope hanging to help guide you upward. We saw quite a few people who physically weren’t up to the task gasping and sweating. This made me nervous.
One disappointment of the trip was Sunday afternoon. We walked from the Borghese Gallery to the Colosseum and Forum. Sadly, when we got to the Colosseum, it was closed. This time of year it shuts down at 3:30! It was still beautiful to walk down there and see the ruins again (no cats this time..), but I hope I can go inside someday.
Our hotel was close to Piazza del Popolo, and we walked through it and the nearby Borghese Gardens several times. It was especially nice in the mornings. On Sunday we came across rollerblading lessons, and Lauren about lost her mind admiring all the dogs in Rome.
Sightseeing with Lauren was a dream. When the Leonardo Express took us into the center of Rome from the airport, we were three miles from our hotel. Since we both pack light and just had small backpacks, we walked it.
Conveniently, near the grocery we shopped at by the hotel, we found an airport bus stop. It was only 6€ and so much easier than finding my way back to Termini this morning for the 14€ train. Thank you, Sit Bus Shuttle.
I’ll recap Rome tomorrow but know that I’m back safe in Freiburg. This is how I feel about leaving Roman sunshine for gray, rainy Deutschland.