Learning German for Kids Part Two

I wrote in my previous post about various toys, books, and CDs that might help kids to retain the German language they’ve acquired while living in Germany. The reason for my thinking of this topic was inspired by a conversation I had with Ann Belle of Belle NRW when she was getting ready to move her German-speaking Kindergarten-aged kids back to America. Six months later, she’s built on this list and added a number of concrete tips that are definitely worth sharing. Thank you, Ann, for generously sharing your resrouces with the German Way! Continue reading

Learning German for Kids

We expats are coming and going, not always when we want to. My friend Ann Belle of family-friendly North Rhein Westfalia blog Belle NRW had to relocate back to the United States late last year reluctantly. After the initial years of stumbling to find her way as an expat mother, she launched Belle NRW, and was also comfortable and relishing in the positives of having her American children ages five and three in a German kindergarten. One of the biggest pluses, of course, was that they were learning the German language. So, it was with some regret that she was removing them from this daily immersion to repatriate back to America.

Before she left, she asked me for some book and toy recommendations that might help them retain their German. This is the list I sent: Continue reading

Incorporating a New Worldview, Into Your Old Life

It’s fairly common to feel like an alien at times, while living in a foreign country. But now, when I come home to Canada for my regular summer visits, I often feel like a bit of an alien here too. In recent conversations with family and friends at home, I am finding that my opinions and perspectives about both everyday and fundamental issues are differing from theirs, sometimes to the extreme. This has made me stop to consider how my expat life has changed my views on certain issues, and how it may be affecting my various relationships. Being “worldly” and “cultured” are often touted as beneficial, but how does one learn to incorporate such qualities into relationships with those who have lived their entire lives in the land you left?

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Losing Language

It was inevitable. Our German was bound to get worse upon departure. The first year, mine seemed to remain intact. I was still feeling pretty German, and I spoke German almost daily with our German preschool teachers, with other German-speaking parents, and with our German babysitter. Sometimes even with my German husband. We’re in the second year though, and after spending the Christmas holidays with my non-German speaking family, I finally felt that the Yanks had won. Throw on top of that, a struggle to integrate a third language (Korean), and the quality of Deutsch in this house has worsened. Continue reading

The First Twelve Months

I’ve been enjoying getting to know my new baby during these first three months of his life. I organized a Mommy & Me Yoga/Baby Massage class at our local yoga studio here in San Diego to give myself that regular undistracted one-on-one time with baby Lenny. During the massage portion, I enjoy warm memories of taking a baby massage class with my first born while we were still living in southern Germany.

One of the other main benefits to taking a baby class is getting to know some of the other mothers. After each class we find ourselves at the local cafe exchanging stories about our same aged babies and getting to know each other better. This aspect of motherhood is pretty critical to my own well-being as a mother. On one of these recent occasions, I was enjoying a conversation with one of these fellow mothers and was suddenly struck with a pang of guilt as she told me about a mutual friend of ours who would be going back to work soon, three-months postpartum. It was a new feeling, a new world feeling. Continue reading

Made in America

My family and I went through yet another life changing experience four weeks ago with the birth of our third child here in San Diego, CA. Child #1 and Child #2 were born in southern Germany, both positive experiences, so it was with curiosity and trepidation that I embarked on this experience in a different country the third time around. I began chronicling this experience in a previous post. Here is the rest of the story. Continue reading

Living the German Way Part III

I was disappointed to read that my fellow blogger, Sarah Fürstenberger, was leaving our ranks as German Way Co-blogger for the time being. She and I had become friends while recording the same chapter in life as American expats living in Germany through this blog. Coincidentally, she and I also left Germany at the same time this past summer.

Although I was sad to no longer be able to keep up with her American/German family’s new Irish life through her blog posts, I could also understand her sentiment that her heart wasn’t in blogging about the German Way anymore. Often, when my week rolled around to blog, I felt at a loss as to what to blog about. It’s been about eight months since we left Germany, and our lives have significantly changed: our daughters, though still bilingual, speak mostly English now, we start to shiver at 60 degrees F (16 degrees C), our consumption of paper products jumped exponentially when we became members of Costco, and we barely buy or eat cold cuts (Aufschnitt) anymore.

I realized though that despite the dilution of our German-ness, there were beliefs and pursuits of the German Way of Life that I was still committed to. First and foremost on that list has been finding a pediatrician that suited a more typical German parenting philosophy: encouraging play-based learning for under six-year-olds, fostering independence, and choosing the natural alternatives when possible. Continue reading

An Adjusted Adventszeit

In the past week, I had to adjust to the fact that Christmas is OVER, a week earlier than I had become accustomed to. I was used to our southern German world being shut down not just from the week of Christmas to New Year’s but also through the first week of January thanks to Three Kings. (Note: During my time writing for the German Way blog, the most Wiki-ed or Google-ed things I’ve had to look up are Catholic holidays and food.) I missed my older daughter’s first gymnastics class last Wednesday. Back in Aalen, there wouldn’t have been Turnen or any Musik Schule or anything like that scheduled.

This year, I missed the Adventszeit and the tradition of celebrating Christmas time for the whole month of December. And although Christmas decorations start being sold at Target the minute Halloween goes on clearance, that is not the same. I feel that Christmas is largely for consumerism here. Adventszeit is more oriented towards baking Weihnachtsplätzchen together (though I’ll concede that an American Christmas cookie exchange is an efficient and smart thing. I admire my friend Moni and my husband’s Tante Liane for baking at least 10 different kinds of cookies for their cookie bags/tins each year.) The point of a Christkindelmarkt in every town is not just to sell as many tschotchke to as many suckers as possible, but rather to provide a cozy space for people to drink their Glühwein together, for children to pet some farm animals and ride some rides and of course for us to find some sweet, handmade, wooden ornaments to share with our poor, plastic-invaded relatives back home. Continue reading