23 February 2010

Making the Rounds Again

Once again that time of year has arrived, where we are applying for kindergartens.  Last year we applied for the Spielgruppe (playgroup) for two-year-olds, and we were accepted into two Waldorf kindergartens, we'll call them A & B.    At the time we thought we were going to move, so we went with Waldorf A which would be closest to our new location.  It was a difficult choice to make because the Waldorf B was only ten minutes away and we liked both schools very much.  Well, we did not move, and since October we have been making an half-hour commute to drop-off and pick-up Max at Spielgruppe.

Being in Waldorf A's Spielgruppe did not guarantee us a spot in their kindergarten.  So, this year we once again are making the rounds, applying for the 3-6 year-old kindergarten classes.  In addition to Waldorf A, we applied to Waldorf B, hoping our decision not to send Max to their Spielgruppe wouldn't affect his ability to get in.  We also applied to a Waldkindergarten, which is an outdoor kindergarten.  Five days a week, for four hours a day, the children play outside in all, but the extremest of weathers.  On extreme weather days, the kindergarten has alternate activities planned in indoor venues like museums and librarys.

On Saturday we received a letter from Waldorf A, saying that Max would not be able to attend their kindergarten in September, which admittedly disappoints me.  I was sort of expecting this answer, as they had very limited space available.  However, I still feel a little bit slighted.

However, I am trying to look at the sweeter side of Waldorf A's answer.  The other two kindergartens are within easy walking distance to where we live, and it would not be difficult to get Max there in the mornings.  Waldorf B has a very nice facility, and the Waldkindergarten has a special appeal to me.  Paul grew up in the country, and from three to eight-years-old, I lived in the country.  Both of us spent hours and hours playing outdoors in all sorts of weather.  And we have very fond memories of that, and we think it would be a great experience for Max.

Now we wait to find out if Max was accepted into either of the other two kindergartens.  We are supposed to hear from the Waldkindergarten this week, and next week we have our interview with Waldorf A.  Hopefully, one of these will work out, or I will have to resort to Plan B.  I'm not exactly sure what Plan B is yet.

15 February 2010

Our Blue-Eyed Beauty

Beautiful almond shaped eyes. 

Rodel Schlitten

Every once in a while, there is something about living in Munich that I find very endearing.  Right now, it is seeing the parents pulling their children around on Rodelschlitten, what we in the States would consider an old fashioned wooden toboggan.  It looks like a snapshot of the past.  Only, the classic American Wooden Toboggan, as seen here is nothing like the Classic German Rodelschlitten here. 

Our former neighbor still has the two Rodelschlitten that she used as a child.  Last year she lent us one for Max.  After falling off of it once face first, it was hard to convince him to get back on.  The only way he would ride it is if I heaved my big pregnant body on it and rode behind him on the sled, poor Paul pulling both our weights.

This year, however has been a different story.  Over the weekend, I borrowed another neighbor's Rodelschlitten, outfitted it with Max's Fußsack, a heavily insulated sleeping bag type thing, that is usually in his stroller, and stuffed him in it for the morning.  We trekked through the local forest, and Max had a fabulous time, even though I was quite tired by the end of the two hour haul.

Sledding is taken much more seriously here. Growing up, I used a $5 roll-up sled to cruise down the hills.  Here, the average child Rodelschlitten starts at about €40, but I've seen some Rodelschlitten costing upwards of €300.  However, these sleds aren't just used for the kids to slide down hills.  People use their Rodelschlitten instead of strollers, to pulling their groceries home, and I'm getting the impression that sledding is treated as a serious sport.

14 February 2010

Sipping Tea After Coming in from the Cold

After stripping all of our layers and winter trappings, we usually just hang out in our long underwear around the house, looking like a mismatched troupe of acrobats.  Many a raised eyebrow I have received from a delivery man when I show up to the door in long underwear and a t-shirt. 

12 February 2010

Put Everything Into It Dish

If you are anything like Paul and me, by the end of the week, you are looking at a half-empty fridge, with an assortment of things that are about to go bad if you don't use them right away. Well, I used to put these things into a soup or a quiche. However, over my last visit home, my sister introduced me to fritatta. It's almost like a quiche, but with none of the hassle of the crust. My latest fridge clean out special combined eggs, field greens, mushrooms, sheep cheese, sprinkling of Gouda, and my two trusty stand byes onions and garlic. I sauteed the onions and garlic in butter, added the mushrooms to the frying pan, mixed the whole lot together, poured into a glass pie pan and cooked at 200C for about 30 minutes. Scrumptious! I think adding cherry tomatoes would have added a nice touch as well.

02 February 2010

The Missing Piece

It is 4:30am in the morning, and our 2 1/2 year old, Maxi has been sleeping on a mattress on the floor of our bedroom while Maggie learns to sleep through the night. I immediately wake up, even the slightest whimper of one of my children is picked up by the mother antennae. Max wakes up coughing and crying. He climbs over to the edge of our bed.

He whimpers "Ma-Ma, Maxi hurts, Maxi wakes up."

"I know baby, you're sick, do you want to sleep with us?"

"Yes," he whimpers, and I scoop him up in a hug and pull him over my body in-between Paul and I.

This is unusual because Max has not slept in our bed since he started sleeping through the night. Even when he is ill, and I climb into his bed to comfort him, he'll respond with "Mommy, GO!" So, I savor this rare moment, his little body curled up against mine.

I hold on tight because I realize in the still of the morning, that times like these are fleeting. It will not be long before I will no longer be the center of his universe. Marni Jackson says it best in Double Lives, "[H]aving children transforms you. It keeps on transforming you. And the hardest thing to prepare for is this constant change."

My first born opened up my heart; I never knew that I was capable of loving someone so completely. Admittedly, I was worried about the second child, how could I possibly love someone as much as I loved Max? However, with Maggie I learned that there was even more room in my heart, and this astounded me. With my children I have found a completeness that I never realized I was missing.

Life before children dulls in comparison. Watching them grow and develop has colored my world. I marvel as my baby's brow furrows in concentration when she is mastering the art of picking up Cheerios with her thumb and forefinger . My heart swells the first time my son starts referring to himself as "I" instead of "Maxi," and when he climbs up next to me, slides his arm around my neck and whispers into my ear"I love you Mama," my heart just about bursts.

My children have taught me to appreciate the small things again. The smallest things give them joy like how Maggie's face lights up simply because I walk into the room. Or how Max thrills at the sight of a snowball. Their laughter and their smiles are contagious. I can't help, but be happy when they are, which is why discipline can be so difficult sometimes.

Nothing is impossible for them, and they are not scared of failure. At one time getting from one side of the room to the other once seemed impossible, but now Maggie can do it at lightning speed. Their determined spirits have rekindled mine. My children have taught me to live again. They've inspired me to pursue my dream of writing, and to stop worrying about failure.

I have not lost my self, I have simply transformed.