After a great 3 week vacation in the USA, it was time to come back to Germany. We spent most of Sunday morning packing, then enjoyed lunch with Drew, Haewon, Grandma, and Grandpa, and then Drew drove us to the airport. We said our farewells, got on the jumbo jet, and had a mostly uneventful flight. We all got a little bit of sleep even. We sat near the end of the plane where it curves down a bit, which meant we had 2 rows of 2 seats per row instead of 3, so we had a little extra room to stretch out, which was really nice. We caught our train at the airport with 20 minutes to spare, and were back in Aachen before we knew it. We managed to stay awake the whole day, to unpack, go grocery shopping and such, and watch an episode of Modern Family before heading off to bed.
Tuesday Rob went back to work, while Clare bravely took care of the tired and cranky kids, getting them prepared for the first day of school on Wednesday. Meg started 3rd grade at a normal time, but since Spencer is starting a new school for 5th grade (Gymnasium), he started at 15:00 with a special celebration put on by the older kids. It is a tradition in Germany to get kids a Schuletüte on their first day of 1st grade. It is a big paper cone which you fill with candy and other goodies. Since both of them did their first day of 1st grade in the USA, they missed out on this, so Clare decided to get them some mini ones this year. They liked them.
Another interesting occurrence on Tuesday was that our next door neighbors moved out. The moving company built a mini-elevator / electric ladder up to the balcony to move a bunch of their stuff. Much easier than the way we did it – trudging everything up 51 stairs of the winding staircase.
Friday both Meg and Spencer received an award at school. Meg got an award for outstanding citizen, and Spencer got an award for academic excellence. We are very proud of both of them for their hard work.
Today was the first of day school for us – Meg started Kindergarten, and Spencer started second grade. Meg had a big mix of emotions. She was super excited for the most part, with a bit of shyness and nervousness mixed in. She did just fine walking into her classroom. The kids school has a tradition of doing a big flag ceremony on the first day of school about 30 minutes after the start of school. The cub scouts do the ceremony including sending off a rocket. Spencer and Rob participated in the flag ceremony. For some reason, seeing Mommy again got Meg bawling, and asking to only do half day Kindergarten. By the time they got home though, they were both happy and excited to tell us all about their days.
Yesterday we marched in the PrideFest parade as part of the contingent from Jefferson Unitarian Church, along with 5 or 6 other Unitarian Universalist congregations from the Denver/Boulder area. Each congregation wore a different color of the rainbow – we were orange. It was close to 100 degrees and very sunny, and we were near the end of the parade, meaning that we ended up waiting around for a very long time to get going, but we made it. In spite of the heat, most people were in very good spirits, and we took the opportunity to try to teach the kids to be accepting of all people no matter what color of the rainbow they represent, and as we like to say in the UU church, stand on the side of love
Meg had a great time looking at the floats and all the rainbow costumes and boys in their underwear. She was very outgoing and asked several people if she could get her picture with them. We ended up ducking out of the parade just a bit before the end. After complaining for awhile about wanting to go home, Spencer was sad we didn’t finish the parade.
Spencer and I recently made up a new game playing baseball. We start off playing catch about 3 feet apart from each other. Every time we catch the ball, we take a step back. I thought it would be fun if we did some statistics about our performance. Today Spencer and I made a graph by hand, then we put it into a spreadsheet, and did some basic statistics
Spencer turned 7 on the 21st and Meg turned 5 on the 27th. We celebrated on the 27th at JumpStreet (it was actually supposed to be a different indoor trampoline place, but the closed after we had booked our party – fortunately we were able to get into a different place at the same time).
Spencer and many of the boys played football for almost the entire party, in spite of being surrounded by all sorts of trampolines and what not. It was nearly 70 degrees, so we could have had the party outdoors, but you can’t really count on that in February. Meg had an Inside Out themed party; Meg dressed up like Joy, and Clare dressed up like Sadness. Spencer wore his favorite football jersey – Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
After our first round of sledding today, I shoveled the driveway. About 30 minutes into shoveling, I heard Meg calling me. I went to the door to check what was going on. She had her lab coat on, and told me she wanted to do some science experiments. It’s hard to argue with that! I finished up the shoveling, and then we started working on some experiments. One of her science-related Christmas presents was a kit to make coral reef (something that looks like Coral reef at least). I still don’t understand the science behind this particular thing, but I could read the directions, and it involved stuff like using the thermometer to measure water temperature, reading a measuring cup and so on. It turned out okay. I think we should have cut the pieces smaller to expose more surface area.
I got a bit of a scare when Spencer asked me a question about the experiment while I was giving a bath – does the coral reef water have soap in it or something? I panicked, because he had obviously put his hands in the solution with sodium silicate, and the directions clearly said not to touch it. (He was playing video games while Meg and I were doing science, so he didn’t know). I read up on sodium silicate, and the solution was already about 7x diluted, so it didn’t seem too critical. We washed his hands well, and he didn’t report any burning.