Friday, April 29, 2011

The Royal Wedding

I have marked the date; not only in our calendar but in my phone and in my palm: Friday, 29 April at 9 am; I am going to watch the royal wedding and nobody could stop me.

I thought I was hiding my excitement and the growing anticipation. But my husband know me too well. Apparently, he recognized my 'obsession' because early this morning; he woke me up and said, 'you might just miss the show!'

Well, it was already 8 am and the royal wedding TV coverage is supposed to start at 9 am! I laughed and thanked him before jumping out of bed to prepare our breakfast. I resisted turning on the television until we have finished our breakfast. The rules at home are: Nobody is allowed to watch the television before noon and nobody watches TV while eating!

My husband teased me about the show which got the girls interested. I explained to them that the prince is marrying her princess and they both asked, 'are they real prince and princess?' I nodded and they loudly confirmed they would join me.

My girls and I ended up glued in front of the television sighing and screaming with the crowd. What kept the girls interested were the lively crowds wearing costumes and those in tents; the musical bands; the clothes of the groom and his best man; the dresses and hats of the ladies and of course, the carriage ride and the kiss.

In between, they ended up on the floor play-acting a wedding.

Just after the crowd started dispersing and I finally turned off the television; I got invited to a royal wedding featuring Barbie and Ken. The girls wont allow this opportunity to pass. They would try to re-create the wedding and I am to prepare the food and drinks!

Anybody wants to play the crowd?

P.S. I see a very positive effect in watching this wedding with the girls as they became more interested to know more about countries with kings and queens. This is a chance to introduce geography using the royalties. You know what, we have started tonight and the girls are enjoying it! Of course, this is also a way to let them learn through current events.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sunny Easter

It is the first time in more than 50 years that the Easter weekend in Germany is sunny and more than 15 degrees warm.

Can you just imagine the small whisper of panic on what would happen to the chocolate eggs? My girls are already asking if the ants would reach their gifts and surprises; and if the chocolates would melt if they dont find them fast!

We told them the Easter Bunny would be very careful on where their surprises would be hidden to avoid the ants and the sun so they could sleep peacefully the night before. My husband and I took time to mow the lawn and clear the garden so that the girls could move around without any restrictions.

Easter Sunday came. My husband and I woke up at 6 am. Each of us holding bags of gifts and sweets, as we took turn in scattering chocolate eggs from the girls' bedrooms down to the garden where we hid their gifts. This is already a tradition; the girls would find an empty Easter basket beside their bed where they would follow and collect all the choco eggs until its time to search for their gifts.

They always thought that the choco eggs were left by the Easter Bunny to help them look for their gifts! They have kept that notion, although IC would always tease me, 'Mama, I know that you are the Easter Bunny!' And I would always respond with a laugh.

There was additional surprises waiting outside, though. When we opened the garden door, there were additional Choco bunnies waiting for them! I know they came from our neighbor so I asked the girls to ring the bell and bring some Easter surprises as a gesture of thanks.

Oh and as tradition goes, they wanted to visit Oma and Opa (Grandma and Grandpa) to look for their gifts, too. Although they are aware that Oma and Opa are both dead, they urged us to bring them in the cemetery as they dont want to miss their surprise as 'other kids might already found them.'

It is up to me to keep the tradition going. Good thing I always have small items and extra chocos. So I packed them in two separate Easter bags and kept them away in my big bag. Upon arriving in the cemetery, the girls took off to get some water for the plants; and I took the chance to strategically display the 'surprises'. Of course, they saw the bags of goodies right away and were happy. They took time in watering the plants and in the end, thanked their Oma and Opa for the gifts.

The day's been saved! Though IC nudged me on our way back home and said, 'Mama, next time please add more items in the bag.' :-D

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Our Good Fríday

Back home in the Philippines, Good Friday is a strict religious event. The day would usually start with a procession of the peninents, followed by a church visit. The streets would be quiet, in most of the homes, too. All radio and all TV programs would be focused solely on religious themes and on the table would be seafood only. And my parents would usually prevent us from making any trips, short nor long. It is not a great day to travel on a Good Friday, they would say.

That was back home.

Our Good Friday in Germany? It started off with breakfast, without wurst nor cold cuts just the rest of the Easter boiled eggs with butter and bread. Then off we drove to a fishing farm in Odenwald to pick-up our pre-ordered trout which would be grilled for dinner.

The Forrelenhof Lenz is a popular place during Lent especially to those who loves to fish. On Good Fridays, it is always open and buzzing with activities. The girls enjoyed watching the hobby fishermen especially when there's a catch. They were not too enthusiastic seeing the fish being cleaned up; but it was always amazing for them how the fish were prepared to be smoked. There's a small restaurant where they serve homemade cakes and of course, the specialty of the house, trout and salmon trout. We specially love the salmon trout in beer dough.

After a delicious lunch, we packed our fish and passed by the historical Lindel water well for a short hike; treated the girls to an ice cream from their favorite Italian ice cream shop and decided to visit their aunt and uncle. Almost a full day trip, that's why upon arriving home, we decided to just be lazy in the garden while preparing our grill dinner.

After dinner, in our pajamas, we comfortably lounged in the terrace as the girls wanted to watch the falling stars. Well, the day was already a little adventure; that I was not surprised when I discovered I was alone when the falling stars appreared. My husband and the girls were already in dreamland.

A Good Friday, indeed.

But soon, I need to explain to the girls what Good Friday really means. After all, they understand what Easter is.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Best Teacher, The Best Classmates

I have posted about my six-year-old's difficulty in adjusting to her new school and how a teacher's support helped her to be more optimistic and had at least, stopped her mournful tears almost every school morning.

Now it turned out that through her playmates, who used to be her former classmates; told her former teacher that IC is having problems. Last week, IC received a small package filled with cut-out hearts with lovely words on them from her former class; plus a card from her teacher.

The package was delivered by a postman to the school. Imagine IC's happiness when it was given to her in her new classroom, with her new classmates, in front of her new teacher.

And the messages in the letters, though short and sometimes filled with a little spelling wozzy as expected from first graders; made IC very happy. She showed us the package and started reading the letters to us. When a letter mentioned for her 'to stop crying' -- she stopped and with confusion asked us, ' How could they know I was crying? I wonder who told them that I was crying?.' Of course everybody just shrugged; and IC shrugged it of, too.

The main things is, IC confirmed again how her former teacher is the best; how her former classmates are the best. 'I love what they gave me so I am going to write them a letter, too,' she said.

And so her letter goes:

Liebe Frau Landris und die ganze Klasse 1b, Ich liebe eure briefe.
(Dear Ms. Landris and the whole 1b class, I love your letter. )

Those small things gave IC confidence and those small things makes the best of everyone.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Shame on me

The girls are allowed to stay a little late every Wednesday night because their school schedule allow them to sleep longer. They use this night to take a break although most of the times, they forget!

Last Wednesday, they didnt. Maybe because of adjusted summer time here in Europe. It is still too sunny for them to really find sleep. MC asked, 'Mama, Could we stay a little late tonight? It is Thursday tomorrow after all.'

Of course I said yes, and on the spot told her that they could watch the TV; anticipating the hot request. But I was wrong!

My girl balked with the idea of 'boring' TV watching and said, 'Mama, we didnt ask if we could watch the TV. My sister and I wanted to inform you that since we enjoyed playing together this afternoon, we wanted to prolong it. We plan to play some game, read to each other and then sleep together in one bed.'

Oops, shame on you, Mama! Dont you know that there are other enjoyable things to do than just watching TV? It is fun to learn with kids, right?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Happy 7th Birthday, IC!

A pity that the Papa is not home on her birthday; but IC understand as she said, 'Papa needs to be repaired.'

Well, Papa is scheduled to undergo surgery and IC wants to know more about surgery or operation so I told her that it is just like being repaired so that everything would be working well again.

It is the first time that Papa would miss IC's birthday so our 7 year old girl is a little sad. But I told her that Papa helped me prepare everything for her birthday party and that there's already surprises from Papa waiting for her; which seemed to console her. After all, she would hear Papa on the phone. I distracted her musings by looking into her birthday check list.

What did she ask for this time?

She wanted a Hannah Montana birthday party! Therefore, we created an invitation card using cut outs from an old Hannah Montana magazine. (Good thing I thought of keeping that old mag!)

She wanted a birthday table from a local toy store so we drove there so she could select her favorite things for her invited playmates to choose as gifts for her.

She wanted a strawberry cake with loads of icing and choco pudding. Well, I dont know how to bake one so I simply bought a pre-baked pastry base and added the rest of the ingredients. Simple and easy and taste good, too.

She wanted small treasure boxes as gifts for her friends; we bought the plain ones which they would then turn into colorful ones using beads, glitters and paints as part of the birthday program. She picked all the sweets and agreed to have lasagna and baked potatoes served.

She wanted games such as pabitin which is the Philippine version of the pinata. This involves a lattice of bamboo sticks suspended in the air with string. The lattice is strung with small toys and sweets and is suspended in a way that it can be lowered and raised quickly. Children are to gather under the lattice as it is lowered to reach the party favors. We created our own using sturdy branches tied with sturdy strings and made it a little colorful.

She also wanted to play the German version of pinata which is topfschlagen wherein a sweet or a toy is hidden under a pot. The player would be blindfolded and given a wooden spoon. The pot would then be placed in a certain spot wherein the player would have to search for it with the help of the other kids giving shouting hints of 'HOT' when the pot is near or 'COLD' when the pot is far away. When the player's spoon hits the pot, then that kid earns the right to get the hidden gift.

Since it is a Hannah Montana party, IC wanted to sing, too. She has rehearsed 'You'll Always Find Your Way Back Home.' She said she would sing and she would ask her friends to dance around her. If possible, she wanted me to play Hannah Montana music during the party :-D

And for her schoolmates, there's cookies to be shared during recess.

'Oh Mama, dont forget that since it is my birthday; I am allowed to decide on everything. So please listen carefully whenever I talk to you, okay?,' said the birthday girl.

Happy 7th Birthday, dear IC!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sommertagszug (Summer Parade)

It was a warm day last Sunday. The kids wore their caps and t-shirts. The perfect weather to celebrate the Sommerstagszug or the traditional Summer Parade.

After all, the Sommertagszug is celebrated mid-Lent or three weeks before Easter (usually depends on the tradition in every land); to welcome the summer season and say goodbye to winter. It is Pagan in origin which represents the fight between winter and summer, at the end of winter in the old days, many pantries are empty and the children would usually go around begging for food.

The school kids which always are in the parade, including my girls, have to carry their own hand-crafted Sommerstagstecken or sommer parade sticks which is usually made of colored paper, the tip of which holds a sweet Sommertagsbrezel with a hollow egg and a pine branch.

The colorful parade would usually be joined by different clubs, schools and private companies and there would be goodies thrown for kids, too. A snowman made of paper mache or whatever easily burnt material is created, which is displayed during the parade. The highlight of the parade is when the snowman would be burnt in the end of the parade, to symbolize the end of winter.

Last Sunday's parade was fun because it was the first time that my girls were able to join together with their new schoolmates, plus it was a bigger crowd, and they had to walk a little longer, too. They were happy to receive a souvenir medal from the city for joining the parade.

But IC was happier because the bakeries and ice cream stalls were open such that she asked immediately for snacks after we decided to take her off the parade a little earlier. We already told her that she could simply give us a sign if she's tired and we would just inform her teacher so she would be allowed to take a break. She was having a great time but when the parade entered the area where the stores are open, she simply gave in to temptation!

As for MC, she pushed forward and even requested her Papa to accompany her to watch the burning of the snowman. Well, they did while IC and I found a place to binge away. Life is great and summer is here!

Friday, April 1, 2011

My Girls' Diaries

MC's loose tooth finally let go a few minutes before bedtime. And then the magic words that made me panic: 'Mama, the tooth fairy is sure to come tonight, yipeee!'

I usually have small gifts stored in my cabinet, but since we just transferred to a new house; the girls have found all of them as they helped me pack almost everything.

Although in a panic mode, I was also thinking of giving MC a gift that would steer her in the path of enjoying learning (she's being a bit difficult when it comes to studying and doing her homework). While standing in front of my office desk searching for possible a gift, I saw a hand painted notebook that was given by a good friend for those times when I used to religiously write a daily journal.

That was the aha moment. I found the tooth fairy gift and giving that notebook as a diary might inspire her to start enjoying 'words.' To correctly point her to the right direction, the 'tooth fairy' even left her a short message encouraging her to write on the diary everyday on just about anything she wants noted down. I left the notebook/diary under her pillow while she was sleeping.

The following morning, she excitedly showed us her diary and the message from the tooth fairy. And that day, MC started her diary. She continues to write, almost daily; even draws about her experiences in her diary.

Of course, IC wanted to have a diary from the tooth fairy, too. She took care of that one by announcing that her loose tooth would be out within that day. Therefore, she started wiggling it until it came off. Good thing I have enough notebooks around.

Although first grader IC is just learning to read and write (they havent even finished the whole German alphabet yet!); she simply loved having a diary. She wrote and wrote; and drew just about anything in her diary. Sometimes IC and MC would sit together and write in their diaries.

The result? My girls even encouraged me to renew my love for diary-writing especially when I showed them the volumes of diaries I kept in the storeroom which I said they could read when they are old enough (that made them curious!). Now, the three of us would sometimes sit together to write. No copying, I would usually tease them.

Well, MC enjoys diary writing though translating it to enjoying her composition homeworks with the same intensity might take time. At least, although she doesnt realize it, she's practicing composition writing! As for IC, when you look into her diary, she just writes the words as she says them to herself and as she hears them being said. But since she's also using drawings to express herself, then her stories are also being documented.

And I am also glad to go back to diary writing. It is a different therapy and nobody could read them until I say yes :-D