Thursday, September 26, 2013

Homeschooling

This fall we started our 4th academic school year.  Nika is in 4th grade and Christian is in 2nd grade.  I don't know if we are better at "doing school" then we were to start off with, but we sure have learned a lot.  Each year is an adjustment.  New Curriculum, New Concepts, New Activities, and a new Maturity.  But so much of us (the kids and I) want things to be easy and not a challenge.  Why do we want things to be easy?  Why do we expect each day to be the same as the day before?  Isn't that boring?

I sure hope my kids learn.  You know the normal stuff, Geography, History, Grammar, Science, Writing, Reading, etc.  But sometimes I feel we learn more in the process of "doing school".  I learn patience, to let go, how I affect others, to see joy in little things, control, etc.  I really worry sometimes I get more out of homeschooling than the kids do.  I hope they don't.  But sometimes I don't know if they are picking up the "good habit" I am trying to teach them.  I want them to be hard working.  I want them to take pride in accomplishing a challenging task.  I want them to be curious!  I want them to rush through life.  But I don't know if I do those things.  So often I am rushing from task to task just trying to get it done well enough.  Sometimes I refuse to answer their questions until a "more appropriate time," which never comes.  Maybe that is why families have two parents.  Two examples of how to do things right and two examples of how to NOT do things.

I pray that despite me God would craft my kids into someone better than me.  Smarter, More Curious, More Athletic, More Obedient,  Better Paced, and you know all the other good things!

 


Friday, October 05, 2012

Bible Study

Early morning is the best time in my house.  The calm of sleeping husbands and kids is multipled by the sense that adventure is just around the corner.  It is in reality just another day at our house but as the kids have gotten older there is so much they are discovering that is new and foreign to me. 

Homeschooling adds to the curiosity of the day, but in reality it is the plearning the kids do after school that gets me excited.  Watching political debates, eatting sushi, or in the car driving somewhere.

Some mornings I can't wait to wake the kids.  But lately they have been waking up to early.  Which is nice but not when it interrupts my bible study time.  I purposely wake an hour before the kids were waking so I could get into the bible and start on morning chores.  But last week they started waking up to "join" me.  Precious I know, but this is my time!  So this week I set my alarm a half hour earlier.  Worked well unt yesterday when my buddy "joined" me again.  I could wake even earlier but ... I kind of need my sleep to be civil.  And you get no where @ school with my kids if you aren't civil.

So here I lay on my bible study couch afraid to turn on the light because I might wake up one of those precious kiddos.  Is it the enemy?  I don't know.  But maybe it is God building in my kids life the importance of studying God word.  And ensuring I share my faith with others.  Hmm God your ways are not my ways.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Day in Dusseldorf

Yesterday we had to check out of out Hotel early in the morning and we weren't able to head to our next Hotel until Matt was done with work for the day.  We loaded the Audi A6 he had rented for the move and he dropped us downtown to explore.  We mailed postcards, got a bus pass, pick up some gifts, and lunched until the thunder storm started.  It was once the storm started that we decided we need to find something to do inside and where you didn't need to pay to use the toilet (yes any where between 10 cents and a full euro) or else we were going to be miserable.  Aqua Zoo was the place.

I think we learned more about water life than we have ever before.  I think partly due to the English Audio Tour.  You see to the left a picture of Christian and Nika learning about Whales.  While evolution seemed to be the overall theme of the Aqua Zoo we really learned a lot.

 To our surprise (we are surprised a lot) Aqua Zoo is located in a beautiful park called Nord Park.  We will be going back, but what we did see was water fountains the resembled the water fountains I saw in the Winter Palace in Russia and Versailles in France.  Apparently it was built during Nazi times and has a beautiful Japanese Garden, which we have yet to experience.

American Friends!

 May 1st was a German Holiday and we were graciously invited to spend the afternoon and evening with them at their home.  The husband which I mentioned in an earlier post is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Dusseldorf and a couple which I helped with a church plant in Sao Vincente Brazil.  I think I learned more about German life in those short 9 hours then the previous 21 days.  Here is the short list of things I learned concerning;
Homeschooling is Illegal
After 4th Grade kids are split into 3 different educational tracks
School starts @ 3 years old
Religion in taught in School.
After school care is FREE
Parents are paid to stay home for the first year of their babies life
It is illegal to drive smog producing cars in the inner city
It is illegal to have uncertified people do work on your property
Boys are not circumcised
School starts @ 8 am and ends in time to come home for lunch

Edmond and Anne have three boys (all born in Germany) and one daughter all fluent in German and English.  Oldest daughter Karis (10) and Nika in the picture to the left had so much fun together.  The top picture is of Caleb (8) who had a ton of fun playing with Christian.  In fact Christian has decided he will live in German so he can play with Caleb everyday.  They also have a 5 year old and 20 month old.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Wonders all around!

After having been downtown hours I realized Matt was on his way home.  He was able to meet us downtown for dinner.  We found this odd contraption in another square where a wine festival and farmer's market was setting up.  It kept us busy for a good 30 minutes.

Church of St. Quirius

Also in the square with the Glockenspiel was this church, Church of St. Quirinus.  We later picked up an English book which explained in this Church lay the bones of a Roman Maryter St. Quirinus, whose bone supposably help protect the city from a ten month siege in 1475.

When peeked inside and were in awe of how beautiful it is.

Outside they have a fountian which pilgrims would come to drink from to be cured of illness.

Catholic ways seem so odd to me.  Drinking water from a special place seems so much like, in Brazil how you could get a bracelet from a specific church and obtain your request when the bracelet finally broke.

Unexpected!


Yesterday after we finished school I decide we should spend the remainder of the day shopping downtown Neuss.  While Germany does have Malls (as does our city), all the cities we have visited also have Pedestian only areas where people can pick up just about anything a person would need.  Esprit, Gelato, Bread, Lunch, Grocery Stores, Dollar Store (or more like Euro Store), Toys, Open Markets, etc can all be found in these areas all without the fear of being run down by a car (Trams and buses still run through).

We had gone downtown a couple of times on our way to dinner or to do Laundry, but never gone down to just explore.  We started off by lunching at McDonalds.  I know, way to venture out Meghan you may think.  But McDonalds is a treat no matter where we are.  But boy I wish we had lunched somewhere else.  The lady who helped me spoke no English and I don't know how to express this, but wasn't in the mindset to interpret my pointing and gesturing as language, causing me to break into a low blood-sugar cold sweat.  Well all said and done, I didn't receive anything close to what I ordered and my kids who had been looking forward to their normal Happy Meal order let me know at length their disappointment.  A not so great start to an afternoon.

Well I debated vigorously with myself on whether to call it a day.  Afterall, it was I who wanted to explore and do some shopping.  Maybe I should just cut my losses.  Right?

I decided we would give it another try.  Afterall, it had most us nearly much to get downtown as our lunch had cost.  Things began to look up when we found a Euro store packed full of little trinkets to bring home as gifts.  Feeling re-engergized  we hit a couple more stores and turned a corner to find this Glockenspiel.  I really feel like it was God ordanianed to encourage me.

video

I mean the chances we would walk into this square at one of two time during the entire day was just to amazing.  I never would have noticed it if it had not been exactly 3 pm that we decided to walk through.  While I mistakenly didn't get it all (phone went to sleep), it went for a good 4-5 minutes and consisted of a sort of military parade.

You may have also heard the gonging of the  Church of St. Quirinus.  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Calvary Chapel Dusseldorf

Today we made it to Church.  I was a little anxious about heading to church, because I knew what would happen.  In reality being away from friends, church family, family, my own language and culture has been a shock.  Every time I have gone to a new culture, it has taken a bit of adjustment.  Culture Shock!  Well culture shock is different this time.  I have two kids with which I have to navigate with.  They miss their friends and culture at the same time I am.  They are uncertain of what to do in given circumstances too. I have been holding it together on my own, not with God's help and I knew going to Church was going to be my undoing.

The same songs as home, but with a different language (they did sing several songs in English), friendly faces who greeted me because of the love of God they had, sermon preached in English strait to my soul, and relief to know my kids were in safe loving hands where several of the kids spoke English and the teacher spoke English.  It was just to much.  But what came as a surprise was how God loves me so much even when I don't seek his help and encouragement.  God showed me how small his Kingdom is.  With a little jogging of my memory I realized 11 years ago I went on the same church plant as the Pastor and his wife.  We have three more Sunday to visit Calvary Chapel Dusseldorf and ALL of us are counting the days until we are back there again.

Birthday Boy

 This cute boy went to Legoland Discovery Center.  Yes everything is in German, but Lego is universal and it didn't really seem so odd.  All the Lego games you on Wii, PS3 or 360 the lego minifigures speak in an odd language that makes no sense, so we just rolled with the punches.

Matt was able to take the day off work and go with us, which made the experience all the more fun.

Christian started the morning opening a couple of presents we picked up on the sly the day before, then we were off.  We picked up breakfast at the train station and then were off on a high-speed train to a bordering town.  After a six minute walk we found it.

The photo to the left is of the elevator in Legoland Discovery Center.  We have been talking for months about going and he is SO EXCITED!
 All over the place there were things built with legos.  Minifigures, whole cities replicated, jungle themes, etc.  We saw a 4D Lego Movie, which was super cool.  The 4th D represents how they sprayed water or blew air to make the experience more really.  It was again in German.  There were demonstration of how Legos are made, rides, and little games, play areas like McDonalds, but the best was the racer builder.

They had a whole area full of pieces to make race cares and then test them for durability and speed.  That was by far Matt and Christian's favorite.  It was at that point I realized why they charge kids and adults a like the same price.  Matt did more building in this area then Christian and all around me I could see the dads at the table under direction of their children.

There is the funniest of the huge Lego creations.

In summery Lego Discovery was hugely over priced and not worth the price.  The 4 of us paid a total of 53 euro (70 USD), but Christian would but Christian would say it was worth every dollar.  And for our kids who have endured being quiet in hotels, none of their toys, long walks in cold weather, and being withdrawn from their friends for an extended time.  I think it was worth it!



And how would any boy ended such a wonderful day?  McDonalds of course with a Playland and Happy Meal!  It was a good day!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Ordinary Life

Our days since Trier have been quite different.  Matt was able to "tour" Germany with us the first 5 days, but on Sunday the kids and I were left to our own devices.  And it was a bumpy one!

A little nervous to be on our own Sunday the kids and I decided to try to find a park to play at while Dad was at work, Opps #1.  After arriving where the park was supposed to be I discovered the park wasn't a kid's park, but a Horse Track. Epic Fail Mom!  So we turned back, didn't school and took a nap.  Boring!

Monday still with the fail of the never found park sitting on my shoulder I lugged our families now weeks worth of laundry to the nearest laundry mat.  Sounds simple right?  Not really.  First I attempt to buy a day pass for the family @ 18.40 euro (~ 24 USD) with nothing but coins (because the machine doesn't accept US debit/credit cards) to find I only have 5 euros in coins.  Opps #2.  Ride the train without paying until we get to the station (in a sweat for fear of getting caught, ask my mom about a funny story about that) where I had to hunt through several machines until I found one that took cash.  Then I drag the kids to the right stop for the laundry mat to discover I forgot the address and the soap.  Opps #3.  Drag kids around Subway stop for 2 hours hoping to find it Opps #4.  Finally give up and take kids to McDonalds.  Score One for Mom!

My ever hero Matt came home that night and put internet on my phone and I haven't gotten lost since.  Wow am I reliant on my Smart phone.

Tuesday we found the laundry mat and reward ourselves (really me) we found a little Konditorei that puts Gerry Frank's Konditorei to shame (wall that is easy Holly Hamlin and Nina McCoy make better cakes).  Score TWO for Mom (and Meghan for washing Matt's Clothes for work).

Wednesday was another good day.  We grocery shopped, we spent birthday money, we did school, we watched I mean we learned German from watching our favorite Disney Cartoons on TV.  Oh yeah we also got caught in a giant hail storm.  Way fun, hurt a ton, and got so wet!  The hail storm totally snuck up on us.  First we take our jackets off because the spring sun is really heating us up.  Then the wind blows in a little sprinkle, but it is ok because we are within sight of the Hotel.  So we slip on our jackets and walk a little faster a block and a half away the starts hailing harder and harder, so we run.  The kids thought it was the funnest thing ever, even though the hail really stung.  I really feel like I dodged the bullet there.  It would have been miserable to walk home in the condition we were.  I literally was able to ring my hair out and it took a good 24 hours before our jeans were dry.

Thursday was a good day too.  But after getting caught out in hail like that none of us were really willing to risk the weather again, so we just explored the hotel and stayed in our room until Matt came home.  Matt then introduced us to a charming part of Old Town Dusseldorf with all sorts of fancy shops and a huge variety of shops.  We find a cute Italian Restaurant were they didn't speak German, but Italian!  Imagine that!  It was quite the experience for the kids.  Whole shrimp (legs, head and tail), Italian style pizza and a whole other culture in Germany.

The picture above if of today.  Christian's Birthday is tomorrow and we needed to make a stop at the Mall to find a little boy birthday presents (think US prices plus 19% tax ouch), spend every last Euro of Birthday money, and 1 euro Gelato.  Gelato and shopping make the 20 minute walk there and 20 minute walk back all worth it.  But I did learn a lesson, buy my own cone because they will eat every last drop!

Hopefully when you wake Saturday Morning there with be pictures of a brand new 6 year old at Lego Discovery Center!

Love and miss you all,

Matt, Meghan, Nika and Christian.

Churches!

 Of all the places in Trier I loved the most and looked forward to the most it was the Basilica.  This was the official throne room planned by Constantine.  Imagine this place covered with marble, decorative furniture, wall hangings, heated floors and walls.  It must have been impressive.  Of course after the fall of the Roman Empire thieves striped the marble and with years of war it has aged, but 1500 year old it looks good.  During World War II the roof was destroyed, but it has been recovered.  Now the Basilica is home the Protestant Church where all the grandour of a Throne room is the opposite of what you see now.  Simple wood benches, few wall hangings, a simple organ, and of course a simple Cross.  Seems fitting though Germany is where Martin Luther started the Reformation which started the Protestant Church and split Germany apart.
In contrast in the same city we find the Trier Cathedral in all its slender. We were only able to go into the entry way.  They were having a service and weren't allowed in (or didn't force our way in).  The catholic church in Trier had a interesting relationship with its residents. The church was brought about by Constantine's Mother Helen (she gave parts of her palace for the church) who was canonized for her efforts to bring Holy items to Trier.  The Arch Bishop who headed the Cathedral was one of seven who elected the Holy Roman Emperor or German King and the Arch Bishop expected to be treated as a ruler of the city, but the town didn't want a ruler besides the Holy Roman Emperor.  The town square is filled with symbols of the difficult relationship between the two.  The Arch-Bishop was also very rich because the trade routes Otto the Great gave the Archbishop.  All this was very interesting for as to hear because of what we have been studying this year in co-op.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Other sites in Trier

This the house of the three magi.  Built around the 17th century.  At that time people kept all their money not in a bank, but in their homes.  So to guard against thieves the only entrance to the house was through a SECOND floor door (the bottom floor was added since then) which had a ladder dropped to enter.  If a band of robber came the residents could pull the ladder.




These Imperial baths were never finished, partly because the project was difficult for the climate (colder than Oregon) and how large Constantine wanted to build them.  We didn't go inside, because of time and $, but were able to see them through the glass windows.

The above pictures are from the internet, because I didn't have the pictures Matt took.


Trier

This was the last day of our trip before we settled into "ordinary life".  Trier is the oldest city in Germany, founded in 16 BC by Emperor Augustus in the land of the Celtics.  It lays on the Mosel River not far from Luxemburg.  It was called the second Rome and governed and area from Scotland to Morocco.  Several Emperors lived here, but the most famous was Constantine, the first Christian Emperor.  Some the buildings are 1,500 years old.

This first photo is of the Amphitheater in Trier.  This amphitheater was the 10th largest for its time.  It seated 20,000 guests.  The Amphitheater sat at the edge of the city was, so was about the 10 minute walk from the city center.  While many amphitheaters had gladiators, the largely Celtic audience didn't enjoy the blood and guts of the sport, so it was mainly used for sporting events, political rallies and religious festivals.  After Rome fell it was used as shelter from Barbarians, much the stone was stripped, and it was used as a vineyard.

This photo to the left is the most popular of all sites in Trier.  It is called Porta Negra or Black Gate.  It is "the most important, almost complete monument from Roman times north of the Alps." according the our tour book.  And it is impressively large and has a impressive history.  It was one of 4 gates in the 4 mile long wall.  The other three were destroyed by stone and metal thieves during Medieval times.  It was spared because a St. Simon (a greek) lived there for 7 years.  The gate was then turned into a church monastery.
There is still more to tell about Trier . . .