Saturday, September 15, 2012

"Nächste Woche wird's richtig herbstlich"

...according to the weather report at the streetcar station. Summer's gone and Fall is here! Monday it was hot and we went swimming outside but then it got cold and rainy

hangin with Philippa on the tractor
Slowly but surely I'm getting the hang of how things work. I know what the kids will eat, where it is in the kitchen, and where to put (at least some) things away. The kids get excited to see me when I return from Hannover or wherever in my free time, and ask where I was. And they actually want to play with me!

Greta on the tractor. Best day of her life
On Tuesday I went to the language school, which took an hour to get to, and had to wait for 2 hours to take a "test" to see which level I should be in. I really just talked to a lady for about 5 minutes. She said there wasn't really a class for me, since my speaking is way ahead of my grammar. As in, I don't know grammar. So I have to buy a book and study before the class which starts October 22nd. Apparently there have been a couple other people like me who had German parents but grew up somewhere else or something, and they all gave up and didn't get anything from the class.

I went swimming alone with Magnus on Thursday - Thursday afternoons are when I'm going to take the oldest 3 kids on outings, but this past week the girls had a play group. It was good to spend some time with him because he tends to like to play alone, and when he wants to play with me I'm always interrupted by the twins waking up from their nap or eating stones or throwing food all over the floor.

I'm so glad they like the stroller and the swings! I can only chase after them so much
finally some quiet 
Friday night I did a Nachtlauf in Hannover. I didn't decide to do it till Thursday night but I got a free shirt and I'll be getting a personalized medal with my name and time in the mail out of it! It had been raining all night including on my way there and back, but stopped for the actual run. And the temperature was perfect for running. I picked it up a little from the leisurely pace I've been going on all my runs, but it was still very comfortable. I definitely didn't feel like I was going to die like I normally do during races. Plus I drank a cup of tea before I went and even though I used the porta potty 2 minutes before the race started, of course I had to pee the whole time My time was 26:12, which is right at what I expected. I haven't actually known how fast I run since last fall, so it's good to know! We got alcohol free beer, apples and tomatoes. It was fun to run around the city!

10. Nachtlauf Hannover

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Hills are Alive...

I've survived my first week as an au pair in Germany. With 5 children. Yes I know, everyone has let me know that my life is now the Sound of Music. Which is pretty much my favorite movie ever so I'm embracing it. I even sing to the kids sometimes!

the view of the backyard from my window
Magnus is 7, likes being in charge of things and likes to play with his tractors by himself and see what his dad is doing around the farm. Henny turns 5 in December, taught herself how to write her name (Henriette) and wants to wear a skirt every day. She also manages to make everything take forever. Eating, getting dressed, whatever. It takes 5 times longer than it should. Johanna is 3, and she's hilarious. She comes up with the craziest words and sayings and has an extremely active imagination. She wants to do everything by herself but she's still figuring it all out, so it makes if frustrating when we're trying to get things done! Greta and Philippa are 19-month-old twins. I've spent a lot of time with them in the mornings while the older kids are at Kindergarten and school. They love tractors, cars and airplanes. Trekker and Auto and their favorite words in the whole world. And Max, the dog. They like to wave and scream "Hallo!!" at everyone who passes. They quickly go from being extremely adorable to little monsters. And when one screams, the other feels left out and has to join in.

my bed - it finally looks like my room!
elephants make everything beter
My first 2 days were extremely overwhelming. I didn't know what was going on, the family had just gotten back from vacation and school was starting. I was jetlagged and exhausted, and out of practice with German. I couldn't really understand that much. The kids didn't know me, and the twins decided to just cry and cry for no reason when I was alone with them. There are lots of people around here, and I was introduced to everyone as they stopped by but I didn't know who they were. I still don't really. Once I meet someone for the third time I usually remember their name...

I wandered around Hannover on Wednesday afternoon and walked around the Altstadt. It was nice to leave the gates of the hof (where I live - it's a big old farmhouse and farm store and then lots of fields surround it). On Thursday, I walked into the closest town, Gehrden, to get passport photos for my visa. There's a nice little pedestrian downtown area. I got ice cream, of course. And then Friday, the previous au pair, Rachel, came to visit with the 2 boys from the new family she's with. It was nice to meet someone! They're moving even closer to us so hopefully we'll be able to do things together with our kids. I met up with another American au pair that evening in Hannover. Germany was playing in the city so the streets were crowded and all the TVs were on! I live about 13 or 14km outside Hannover, but it's a little complicated to get back with the bus, especially late at night. Between waiting for the streetcar and then walking from a nearby town because waiting for the bus would have taken even longer, it took me at least 1:30 to get home. 

Auto!! Trekker!! Flugzeug!!
The weekend was a little less stressful. My weekends should be mostly free, but I had to watch the twins Saturday morning because Magnus and all the 2nd graders put on a play for the new first grade. We went to the school for a picnic lunch afterwards and the kids played for a while. I went for my first run in Germany, which generally makes life better. There's a couple little bergs (hill things) around here that have paths and are nice to run on. Then we grilled in the backyard with a friend who's staying here for a month and her boyfriend. It was nice - I'm starting to understand a lot more even when everyone's talking so fast! At first I was speaking English with the parents but we're slowly switching. I'd say we're up to 90% German. I understand pretty much everything they say to me, because they try to speak a little more slowly and clearly, but it's still frustrating to not be able to say what I want to. I should be able to start language classes soon so hopefully I'll increase my vocabulary... I think I'm at Johanna's level right now. We understand each other.

Today, I went with the family (except Henny and Johanna, who took a trip with their grandparents for the weekend to visit family. It was amazing how quiet it was with 'only' 3 kids!) to this place where there's lots of heather (Heide). It blooms purple for only a couple weeks of the year. On the way back we stopped at the uncle's blueberry farm and had cake, coffee, and ice cream and chatted with more people who I have no idea who they were. The girls and the grandparents were there too, so we picked them up. 

And now it's time for a new week! I have an actual schedule now, but we'll see how much we stick to it. Everything happens spur of the moment over here - it has to with so many kids.