Today I heard a story on Morning Edition about the lack of unstructured play in many American schools. Apparently, laws have been passed in some states requiring a certain amount of recess time for students.
This was good for me to hear because lately I’ve been grumbling about all the gear German schools require. We were sent a note last week that Lee and Ned need insulated waterproof pants in addition to their normal rain pants for recess.
There is no such thing as indoor recess in the kids’ schools. They always go outside. They always come home muddy.
Today I’m going to give technology a big shout-out. First, google translate. The forest is my German boyfriend, and google translate is my German bestie.
Second, I was able to video chat with many of my favorites this weekend. Seeing their faces and hearing their voices filled my soul.
The Anglican church we attend held their Nativity play this morning. The twins and Vinnie made great angels.
Afterward, we took a trip to Kappel to visit their Christmas market. It was just this weekend and much more low-key than the other markets we’ve seen. The kids enjoyed fresh Waffeln that came served with either applesauce or powdered sugar. The adult beverages were sold without a pfand (deposit), and there was not a money-sucking kiddie amusement park ride in sight. It was delightful.
I spent the day with the twins and Vinnie. The four of us have a lot of history together, and it was nice to be that special group again.
The best overheard conversation of the day:
Vinnie: When Auntie comes into a house, the first thing she does is ask where the bathroom is. The second is, she asks to play hide and seek. The third is, she wants to know if you have any Christmas cookies.
Ned: Then she hides in the shower.
Speaking of songs, this week my German teacher brought Advent treats and taught us the song In der Weihnachtsbäckerei. She showed us a video of the song while we munched.
The next day, I let Vinnie and the twins watch it. Hilariously, they knew the words! It’s funny how one knows even less about what goes on at your child’s school in a foreign land.
‘Tis the season! We went to two more Christmas parties this week. Last night’s was at Errol’s office. it was good to meet some of Errol’s new colleagues, and I’m always up for a potluck. Children were invited, but ours were the only ones there. That isn’t my favorite kind of social situation.
Tonight’s party had plenty of children. The American library hosted a holiday gathering and even included Santa. We were invited because the three littles take dance there. Most of the families have children enrolled in English classes, and many aren’t native speakers. The kids loved when Santa read them How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but my favorite part was singing Christmas songs. It was funny to see so many people needing the printed lyrics to Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
Oh, the excitement!
We have a Christmas tree.
By mid-November, Freiburg was dressed for Christmas. Holiday goodies have been in stores since early October, but we hadn’t seen any Christmas trees for sale. We assumed they would sell them at the Christmas market. They don’t. Vinnie was positive everyone hiked into the forest and just cut one down.
One morning last week on the walk to the twins’ kindergarten, I saw a banner in the plaza beside a church: Christbäume. The trees would be sold there on December 11 from 9-6.
It rained--sometimes poured--for most of the day on December 11. Not ideal conditions for hauling a tree without a vehicle. Thankfully, the tree man tweaked his hours a bit, and we got ours the next day on a cold but rain-free afternoon.
It was so fun.
Errol called it our most successful family outing to date. I laughed because the three littles and I met Thom and Errol there, and the whole thing took about fifteen minutes.
The Americans who lived in this flat last year left lights, ornaments, and a tree stand in the basement. This doesn’t exonerate them from all of our internet issues in the fall, but it was appreciated.
Happy birthday to my brother Chris!
My mom did such a great job with birthdays when we were kids that my siblings’ birthdays still seem special even though we no longer celebrate them together.
Hope Chris comes to visit us soon!
At the twins’ drop-off this morning there was a new sign on the door. Usually the signage is some sort of request for baked goods. Not today. Another mom was in the mud room, and I asked her, “Could you tell me what this sign says?”
I didn’t ask her if she spoke English. I’ve found most Freiburgers do, and they act a bit offended at the thought of them not knowing.
She did speak English, but she didn’t know the specific word needed to translate.
She began to say how the children can’t have animals on their hats.
I quickly thought of the twins’ Bronco and Eagle stocking hats. Animals on hats. Were those not allowed?
Then, she made a creepy, crawly movement with her fingers over her head.
“Lice?” I asked.
We definitely don't want those animals on their hats.
We had a very festive Saturday. We took the RegioBahn to the village Emmendingen to experience their Christmas market. It was lovely. We fell victim to the smell of fried dough and bought a Striebele--fancy funnel cake.
All the kids wanted to skate on the outdoor ice rink. It was crowded, covered with snow, and we didn’t let them. Instead, they rode a carousel and played in a nearby park. Also, remember the Striebele!
Later we took a bus from Emmendingen to Sexau for a Christmas party. It was almost seven, and the kids didn’t want to go. We were at the party for about ten minutes when Thomsen told me he never wanted to leave. They had a finished basement with a ping-pong table and so many toys. Thom and Vinnie began a game of Monopoly on a board from the 60s!
We had to run and hold open a closing door to board the train back to Freiburg, but we made it!