First day of school, 2021 edition

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This is our fourth first of day school event in Würselen. Spencer is starting the 7th grade. Meg is starting 5th grade. They are both at the same school now, for the next seven years hopefully.

Big day for Meg

Meg had a busy day today! She woke up early to get prepared for her class field trip to the Würselen forest. I helped her pack a snack. Then she rode to the bakery to get some rolls, rode to Jana’s house, and then rode together to Aquana to meet the rest of their class (and stopped by our apartment to get a jacket, which she had forgotten). She had school a little bit longer than normal to celebrate the end of their Pausenengel time (the group of kids who are responsible for keeping watch during recess). They got the kids ice cream to celebrate.

Once she arrived home she had just a little time to take a shower and finish packing for her scout trip to celebrate the summer solstice. I did my best to put her hair in a French braid, (which was unfortunately not very good). I bought extra bug spray for her, and she is planning on mostly wearing long pants and shirt the whole weekend, so hopefully she won’t get too many bug bites. It looks the weather will cooperate, with highs around 25C (75F) and partly sunny.

Meg’s future

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Meg recently had an assignment at school to make a drawing of how she saw herself in the future, as if looking through a keyhole. She plans to be a programmer for NASA. She drew herself watching a rocket launch.

Looking into Meg’s future as a NASA programmer

Her class also made drawings to represent them leaving elementary school to go off to secondary school in the fall. Their class mascot is the penguin. They voted to make the best picture the official one. The voting turned out to be a tie, with Meg and Felix winning. They then worked together to incorporate the different elements of their pictures together. Meg was not excited to have to work together with Felix, but she handled it well. The end result was actually better than I thought it would be. I had imagined that having 2 people work on the same painting would end up looking like a painting drawn by two different people, but they did a pretty good job of matching styles to make it look coherent. Here you can compare for yourself (drag the arrows in the middle to switch between Meg’s original on the left and the final result on the right).

Meg’s drawing vs. the final image after collaborating with Felix

I think Meg’s penguin is much cuter, but I do like some of the elements from the final result, like swapping the subject names for the names of the kids in the class. Subject names as stickers on a suitcase makes a little bit more sense in my opinion, but having the kids names is nice as a memento. I think Meg is going to miss Mrs. Gehrmann. She was really a great teacher. It is amazing to see how much Meg has grown in 3 years.

Happy Mother’s Day

Enjoying ice cream by a fountain

It seems like Meg gets more excited about Mother’s Day each year. With the Corona pandemic, the kids have only been going to school every other day, and most activities are still cancelled, so Meg had extra time to work on gifts for Clare. She made a variety of different cards and paintings and such. I really like the pop-up style of cards she has been doing lately. They are really fun and creative.

One new idea Meg had this year was to make a room service menu. There are so many stories and movies in which kids make breakfast-in-bed for mom on Mother’s Day. The thing is, Clare doesn’t really like to eat breakfast in bed (and I agree). So instead, we just had breakfast at the table, but made it a bit special, and we let Clare decide ahead of time what she wanted. She decided on omelettes. I made the omelettes, while Meg made a fresh fruit salad.

After breakfast, we migrated upstairs to give Clare all of her presents.

Even though the weather in the week leading up to Mother’s Day was mostly wet and dreary, Mother’s Day itself turned out to be beautiful – almost too warm in fact, at about 26C (79F). We decided to take a bike ride to the park we recently discovered in Bardenberg. They have a nice table tennis table and basketball court, a large field great for picnics, and a sort of rope swing from a tree which Meg really likes. Spencer surpassed Rob at soccer and running a couple years ago already, but Rob frequently can still win at table tennis. It seems unlikely that will be the case for too much longer.

We also finally got to try out the new ice cream place – Delzepich. They have had a store in Aachen for a number of years, and are quite famous, but only recently opened a store in Würselen. They make the ice cream fresh every day, and when they run out, they close. They sell out nearly every day, and there is almost always a line. The lines are a lot longer at all places right now because of Corona, and you are not allowed to eat the ice cream within 50 meters of the establishment. Basically, they don’t want crowds of people without masks on, and you have to take off your mask to eat. No problem, we found a bench by a peaceful little pond full of turtles and fish. The ice cream was quite good, although I think that I might like Peppone better, and the line is usually shorter. Clare happened to have a gift certificate from as part of her going away present from her work colleagues, so the ice cream was already paid for (and we still have some money left, so we will be forced to go back 🙂 )

Happy Easter

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This was our second Easter during the global pandemic. In 2020, our trip to the United States was cancelled. In 2021, our stay at a vacation rental in the nearby Eifel national park was also cancelled. Nevertheless, we tried to make the best of our staycation. We had some tasty food like hard-boiled eggs, chocolate candies, and a lamb cake, which reminded me of a pound cake, but in the shape of a lamb.

We had hoped to do a bunch of hiking, but it turns out the weather was pretty bad most of the week too, alternating between snow, sleet, hail, rain, and graupel. Meg organized a board game marathon. We played a number of rounds of Settlers of Catan, The Game of Life, Azul, King Domino, Skyjo, Hell, Set, Uno, and Monopoly Deal. I think Meg won the tournament overall. There was one game of Hell where I won in 2 rounds. We all seem to have different games that we excel at, which is fun. At some point during the week Meg and Spencer invented Supersiedler, in which they played Settlers of Catan just the two of them, but they used all four colors, so each person played with both colors, and they played up to twenty points. Also a good variation.

  • Easter card front
  • Easter card poem
  • Easter card back

Meg also made an Easter card, which you can see above. She wrote the poem herself.

The easter bunny
 he is so funny
 he likes to hop
 and do the pop
 the kids find his eggs
 and they run with their legs
 he eats carrots
 just like parrots

Tipiuhr

Würselener Wald
Die gesammelten Sachen
Die Tipiuhr am Ende

When the sun is shining …

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Go outside!

It’s a simple concept, but easy to forget. The weather forecast for the Aachen region in January is typically rainy and 5? (40 ?). However, the sun usually peaks out for awhile most days. I have learned that when I notice the sun shining, that means that it is time to take a walk or a bike ride. I am lucky enough to have a very flexible work schedule which allows me to do this just about any day.

Lately it has been quite rainy in the afternoons and evenings, and even some pretty hefty storms overnight, but the mornings have often been clear. Today after we finished breakfast, Clare, Meg, and I took a walk to one of our favorite spots – the Milchtankstelle (milk vending machine), where we got some fresh raw milk and eggs, and also some fresh veggies from the adjacent farmer’s stand, which are currently simmering on the stove as lentil soup. We get to walk by the happy cows and chickens on our way, and spotted some pretty flowers and bushes on the way back.

Halloween 2020 (Deutsch)

Jack-o-lanterns
Jana, Meg, Samaya, Lisa, and Celia

Meg plant diese Halloweenparty schon seit einigen Monaten. Wegen Corona ist der Feier fast nicht stattgefunden; Deutschland führt neue Kontaktbeschränkungen am 2. November ein. Da Halloween erst am 31. Oktober stattfindet dürfen wir legal feiern. Aber auch nicht nur im gesetzlichen Sinne sondern auch nach alltäglicher Vernunft habe ich mit den anderen Eltern abgeklärt, dass ich das Risiko des Feiers nicht wesengtlich größer finde, als in die Schule zu gehen, weil die Mädels alle in derselben Klasse sind, und die waren damit einverstanden.

In einem normalen Jahr wären die Kinder in der Nachbarschaft mit dem Spruch “süß oder saueres” herumgegangen. Aber 2020 ist leider kein normales Jahr. Stattdessen hatten wir genügend Süßigkeiten und Snacks vorbereitet. Clare und Meg haben Halloween thematisiertes Essen viel recherchiert. Meg hat auch einige Aktitiviäten vorbereitet, inklusiv ein Schnitzeljagd in unserer Wohnung. Kürbissschnitzen stand auch auf dem Plan, und die Mädels haben sich viele andere Spiele auch ausgedacht. Das Wetter war außergewöhnlich schön bei 16 grad, dass es ermöglichte, die Kürbisse auf dem Balkon zu schnitzen, und das entstehende Chaos das Esszimmer fernzuhalten.

Die letzte Aktivität der Nacht war S’mores – die typisch amerikanische Süßigkeit mit einem Marschmallow zwischen Butterkekse und eine Schokoladetafel. Da wir kein Lagerfeuer in der Wohnung (oder auf dem Balkon) haben dürfen, haben wir das mit Kerzen versucht, mit ermätigtem Erfolg.