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Thursday, April 19, 2012

I love you mum

A couple of evenings ago most of our family were busy at a Youth activity and so our five year old and myself were left to our own devices.  That can sometimes be dangerous!! The weather was quite warm instead of wet so we decided a visit to the local park would be a good idea.  I thought it would wear him out for bed too!! Shhh As we were walking there, chatting away I looked down to him and realised how tall he had grown.  It seemed like even in the last five minutes he had grown into a giant of a boy! In between chatting to him, I was reflecting on how quickly time was rolling by and how important it was to make every minute count.  We arrived at the park and we had it all to ourselves.  Thomas ran ahead and jumped on a swing.  I pushed him a little and then he just took off swinging himself.  When did he learn to do that?  Well I asked him and he's learnt that at Kindergarten.  Again it got me on the thought process of how he is really growing up and becoming more and more independent (when he feels like it of course!) Don't you know he is a BIG 5 Year old now?!! =)

This picture is a year old.
I am going to take my camera with me more often so I can capture THE moment!!

I stepped away from him and watched him giggling and enjoying himself and then from the heights (probably too high) of swinging he hollowed "I LOVE YOU MUM!" My heart melted, lump in the throat and that was it right there, THAT is what really makes this a Happy Life .... those small but precious moments. Isn't it the best when they tell you they love you first!!

I got this book for Christmas.     

I have flicked through and admittedly there are ideas in this book that are either too American to do in Germany ie run a lemonade stand, and others that are very expensive to do - however there are LOTS of great ideas to do with your children that don't cost a penny or are at least affordable.  For the ones that don't fit into our family, I am just going to make up my own!! I am going to enjoy working through these with our children so we can make memories and enjoy each others company before they start to fly the nest!! Our oldest has at most a year with us before he leaves home and so this has given me a wake up call to get working on these things.  Someone pass me a tissue - or maybe the whole box!! haha

Monday, April 16, 2012

missing my mother ...

Let me introduce you to my lovely mum ... I was trying to think of a catchy title, but I can't grab one from anywhere!!

Hessen Park, Germany

This photograph was taken in 2010 on her first visit to Germany.  She had been hesitant to visit but once she was here, she loved it.  She loved how clean it was and how nice the locals were to her.  We had a lovely summer that year and that always has the feel good factor too. She even tried to speak some German too ... she amazes me!! She would say Thanka schön (Danke schön) to the postman.  We did have some sniggering going on from all of us after that.  haha

This is one of the hardest things about living in Germany - being so far away from her.  She is at the stage in her life were her memory is starting to fade.  Not just names and birthdays ... but has progressed to having blank outs and not knowing where she is or where she should be going.  I am sooo grateful to family back there who watch out for her, but it really isn't the same as being there and being hands on myself.  I spoke to someone the other day and she complained to me about doing something for her mother and it pulled at my heart strings.  I would love to be close enough to run simple errands for my mum and just nip out for lunch together. I know being here is limiting the memories we can make at the moment.  I think this makes the memories we do have even more precious. I am grateful that geographically we can travel back to the UK whilst we still have our nearest and dearest with us to enjoy.

When we were discussing our move to Germany as a family, I was excited to call my mum and tell her what was going on but was expecting a very different response from her.  Surprisingly she was very supportive and encouraged us to do what was best for my husband's career and that the children would be fine regardless.  I expected her to say ... "You can't go - it's too far!!" Her support made the move so much easier to make.  She has always been a very supportive mother regardless of the choices in life I have made.

Like I said in 2010, two years after we had relocated she came to visit us, and I suspect it will be her one and only visit. She does ask when she can visit again but I don't think she's well enough to make the journey.  Deep down I think she knows that too. I feel it's so important to be grateful for what I have and have had, rather than dwelling on what I haven't .... 

Here we are together ... twins? haha

Look at that beautiful blue German sky!! Oh I am so looking forward to the summer!!  We had a lovely morning together on this particular morning visiting some local places nearby.   

One of the hardest things is seeing her health deteriorate.  Although she has survived heart attacks and a major stroke, watching her memory fading is really difficult. And we are really only just scraping at the surface.  Thankfully she is accepting help from her doctor and is undergoing some tests to see if there is anything that can be done to slow down the memory loss.  I will keep you posted on how that goes.

This is my favourite photograph of us both.  We don't have many photographs really so this one is precious to me!  It certainly depicts the following saying;
I am so grateful for her!! Roll on the summer months when we can visit again.  This year we have chosen to take her on holiday with us so we get to spend some quality time together.  I am so looking foward to that!! Just adding the pieces bit by bit to make it  .... a Happy Life.  

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Language lessons - something you should know about Rosetta Stone.

Moving to a different country that speaks your own language still has cultural differences, but when moving to a country with a whole new language brings with it some further challenges.
Some embrace the language and seem to be naturally gifted in this area, whilst others really work hard to achieve what they know.  Some are happy to just not even give it a go! I say you have to do what you feel happy doing. Feeling pressured to do anything isn't the best motivation for me. Well I, myself, don't fall any of the categories I mention.  Maybe I am happy to put other people in boxes and not myself! haha  Well, I am certainly not naturally gifted and I do not work anywhere near hard enough to achieve a level of communication I would love to have!! Although when I look back to how I started over three years ago - I have come a long way!

I've attended classes almost from the moment we arrived here in Germany.  In the first year we had quite a few changes of teacher and some teachers were better than others.  My favourite is Evelyn Holzmann.  I have been one of her students (I wonder if I really deserve the title of student!? ... anyhow) at Bad Homburg Volkshochschule (local college to me).  I like her style of teaching, although I am aware that it isn't for everyone.  For a list of their courses click here.

Bad Homburg Volkshochschule

I like the classroom environment, I like to meet people from all over the world trying to figure out this foreign language! haha I think a classroom environment gives the advantages of widening your vocabulary and the opportunity to practice conversation in a 'safe' environment.  

Here is Evelyn with some of our class.
(This was before I found a good hairdresser!! Mwaahhh)
However saying that, I also find that learning at home from software also has helped me.  I learn by repetition as most of us do.  I found a great piece of software online.  There is a lot to download for free.  It's from a company called Transparent Language.  

The acronym BYKI means 'before you know it!'  Giving us the confidence that we'll be speaking the local lingo before you know it!! The phrases and vocab I have learned and used from my software have really stuck!! I like that you see it, you hear it, you repeat it, and you produce it by typing it ... so exposure from different angles really helps me to retain the information. There are also games and tracking available on there.  Click on this link, where you can get the free downloads.  They give you so much to learn from for free.  I didn't finish all of the free stuff before I wanted to buy the software itself.  

Here is a screen view. 

My husband opted for the well known Rosetta Stone (RS).

This is pleasing to the eye and user friendly if you are fortunate to get it activated and don't change your computer or have a computer crash on you.  You must make sure if you do change your computer that you DEACTIVATE this software first.  Rosetta Stone only give you two chances to activate their software, after that you can face losing a lot of money.  This is also worthwhile knowing if you are purchasing this second hand.  After my hubby had some changes made to his lap top, where he had loaded the RS software, he tried to reinstall it again onto the same machine only to find it wouldn't work.  Now he has problems regarding getting this loaded again.  I searched the internet for solutions but came across a lot of information about negative experiences people have afterwards with the rules of Rosetta Stone.  Hubby is still awaiting the outcome of his situation but it could mean that almost £500 worth of software isn't usable.

Here's a link that gave us some insight.  The comments below are very helpful too.


Besides all of the technical side of learning a language - it is a real sense of achievement to be able to have a conversation with your neighbour - no matter how small!! One of my favourite moments with the language was being able to understand a joke a stranger had made to me about pulling my son on his sledge.  I loved understanding what had been said and being able to share a smile and a chuckle in return!! It also provides others with a chuckle.  We were invited to a friend's home on Monday and to help us get some practice with our German they suggested we speak German at dinner.  I ended up telling her that I had had eggs and dice to eat earlier in the day instead of eggs and sausage!! haha

Wurst = sausage
Würfel = dice

Repeat after me ....

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

What I love most ...

Living away from things familiar such as your extended family, friends, and your own home etc really makes you look at what's important in life.  When we first moved to Germany I noticed how close we became as a unit.  Not that we weren't a close family before, it's just that we had to rely on each other more than ever as we were in this big change TOGETHER!!

My greatest blessing in life is my husband.  This year we will celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary.  He is my best friend!! Life is happier for me when we are together, I think he would say the same! =)  My next greatest blessing is being the mother to our four children.  I am amazed at their strength and commitment to making life work - even when the going gets tough.

Of course leaving familiarity behind is OK for a while but I really have this need to make a house a home.  That's not so easy when renting with restrictions on what you can and can't do.  Don't get me wrong, we have been so blessed in renting this home as families are generally smaller here. Usually a family has a  maximum of two children, so landlords would gasp at renting their home to a family of six! So to have a roof over our heads is a huge blessing. But this quote really sums me up at the moment.

It will sum me up even when we purchase our own pad and we get stuck into making it our home too ... I promise!! But I am so ready to get stuck into the DIY - that would be a synonym for DO IT YOURSELF, not destroy it yourself!! hee hee. 

We are still at the crossroads of deciding to stay local or move out a little further.  You know more land, more house possibilities.  I am confident whatever we decide we will find somewhere to call HOME.  Watch this space!!

The Blessing of a Smile!

Living a Happy Life is not the result of everything going smoothly. I am so impressed and inspired by people who live happy lives amidst the hardest of trials. Recently I heard the news of a young LDS missionary who was hit by a bus whilst in full time missionary service for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.   You can read this story here at Deseret News.

The accident has left Elder Britton Schenk with severe injuries, with the outlook initially not being very good. However his family have remained full of faith.  The family have put together a blog about Elder Britten Schenk's progress which you can read here.  Have tissues at the ready.  Miracles are unfolding every day and yesterday he even smiled at his mum! As I was in tears reading this it reminded me of how much I take for granted - that small smile from one of your children is priceless! xx

Today 16 April 2012, I have just revisited the blog to catch up on Elder Schenk's progress and he is at home in the US - so grateful that he was strong enough to make the journey.  What miracles they as a family are continuing to receive and witness.  Make the most of today with your loved ones!! To read his progress first hand click here.