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Xtrabauble.JPGIt is Christmas eve here and all around us people are opening presents, but because we are traditionalists our boys are being forced to wait until tomorrow morning as they would in the UK.

So, in the unlikely event anyone is online and reading this, happy Christmas to all three of my readers, and thanks for following along my misadventures.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as we have all recovered.

Things have been pretty quiet here because as well as having various friends and family around, and starting another term at college, we’ve been dealing with all the excitement of a new school year for the boys, which means things like parents evenings, where the teachers take about two hours to give enough useful information to cover on one typed sheet of paper, and then two or three parents have a long discussion about supplies of bottled water or the colour of the trampolines, while everyone else wishes they would shut up so we can all go home.

Even though I ride a bike to most of these evenings, much to the horror of several other parents, there’s not much interesting blogging material to get out of them, except for the occasional howler we get from the teachers. For example, the French teachers assertion that to make up for the lack of lesson time, she expected the children to practice in the lunch break.*

The best so far was the class teacher for our eleven year old, who described the year as “getting off to a bad start.” The class has a ratio of 25 boys to four girls, and unusually they’ve had to move classroom several times in the first days after the summer holiday, and she couldn’t understand why they were so loud and unsettled.

So you’ve got 25 healthy eleven year old boys**, excited to be seeing friends they’ve been away from for six weeks, readjusting to school (and in many cases German culture), you make them change classroom every few hours for a few days so they can’t get into any routine, and then get annoyed when they won’t just sit down, keep still, and do low grade clerical work for several hours a day.

Brilliant.

*“It’s a lunch break. The clue is in the name”, as one parent pointed out.
**We were left in no doubt as to who the teacher was talking about.

All the forms are filled in, and filled in again because they were the forms from a different state and even though the information is the same, it is in a different order (the joys of a federal system)…

The other paperwork has been handed in and copied, extra paperwork chased up, (promised, chased up again, promised again, arrived, discovered to be the wrong paperwork, chased up a third time and finally delivered).

Copies of all paperwork made, translations made and certified…

…form signed at the bottom and passed over the desk, processing fee paid, and finally our application for naturalisation in Germany is sent off.

It took almost an hour for some poor secretary to photocopy all the documentation. Now all we have to do is wait and see if it will be accepted at all, and then find out what the next stage in the process is…

bigbike

Three months have just vanished. We’ve gone from ‘getting to know you games’ to the first exams, and the first internship is starting after the summer holidays (did I mention that I have full school holidays? Six weeks off? just checking).

Meanwhile Eldest Son, who originally featured in the early days of this blog riding on a bike with stabilisers, is now able to ride on the commuter bike, hence the presence of both bikes at the end of the local tram line.

I feel old…

So, here’s the smallest member of the family, almostĀ  eighteen months old, and collecting rocks. As you do.

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She is currently at the ‘collecting things’ stage which is causing all kinds of problems especially as she recently ‘collected’ the key to the cleaning cupboard, which normally resides in a drawer well out of her reach, for obvious reasons. While she hasn’t mastered the art of opening a door with a key she has mastered the art of Putting Things In Strange Places. The key vanished.

Then the kitchen sink got all bunged up.

Usually the Tiny One can find things fairly quickly (Something she certainly inherits from Beautiful Wife as I frequently have to call my phone to find it), but when we asked her this time she just looked quizzical.

And offered us a rock.

Fortunately a few phone calls later and the Xtracycle was pressed into service to collect some borrowed Emergency Plumbing Equipment.

pluminproblem

So now the sink is free from crud and usable again. Unfortunately we still don’t have a key for the cleaning cupboard.

On the other hand, we have plenty of rocks…

That isn’t the most exciting thing to happen this week. I should have something much more interesting soon, just bear with me…

flag

Today is St. David’s Day, and as we have a Welsh family name we decided this was reason enough to have a small celebration.

Our connection with Wales is tenuous at best, as I don’t speak Welsh and never lived in the country, but I’ve never been overly keen on making a fuss about having a ‘British’ identity, let alone an ‘English’ one with all the baggage these seem to carry.

Beautiful Daughter isn’t bothered: she loved the way the flag moved, and growled enthusiastically at the dragon.

Good morning and a happy 2016. I didn’t have a long night to see in the new year; my excuse for this is that I’m working this morning feeding the animals at the farm, but to be honest I didn’t have to take that shift: I just don’t like parties, especially when they dribble into the night.

Anyway, last week it occurred to me that I’ve never really come up with some serious resolutions on the new year, apart from a half-hearted goal to ride a century which I’ve still not managed. This is because I know I won’t keep them very well, for example: I won’t ‘get organised’ no matter how many resolutions I make in that direction, so that’s not worth the time writing it on the list. If I was organised enough to make a list, that is.

On the other hand, I’ve always wanted to make more stuff myself, and now I have access to all kinds of tools at work, so I decided that this year I could try to make all the presents and cards I give to friends and family for birthdays, anniversaries, and Christmas.

That shouldn’t be too hard, should it? I spend most of the day with the children at the farm, making interesting things like lino prints, bird boxes, or candles, so there’s all kinds of possibilities there, and if I’m stuck for ideas I can still make something out of wood. Probably. It will help me be creative, and I’ll be able to do a lot of the making with my children. What could possibly go wrong with this plan?

People who know me will see the obvious problem: I’ll have to remember people’s birthdays. I frequently forget my own birthday. and last year I only realised it was our wedding anniversary the day after and that was because my Beautiful and (usually) Very Organised Wife was apologising for having forgotten it herself.

This project means getting organised, at least slightly, and staying organised, because I can’t get away with remembering one friends’ birthday in January and forgetting their spouse in July.

Still, it seems a good place to start. And writing about it here will hopefully make sure I stick to it.

Anyone who wants to join in is welcome to drop me a line. I promise not to sell your information to dodgy websites: I’ll be too busy trying not to lose it…

Beautiful Daughter seems to have enjoyed her second Christmas. She got into the swing of the day by investigating her brother’s presents…

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…Then patrolled the balcony for bears (which included digging out the plant pots to make sure none were hiding under the flowers, you can’t be too careful with bears)…

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Having ensured we were a Bear Free Zone, she helped Big Brothers open a package from Grandma and Grandpa, which contained such essentials as salt and vinegar crisps, chocolate, and Marmite…

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And then made sure she hadn’t missed any of her own christmas presents.

digging_01

The family have returned from Japan, and about time too.

It is taking Beautiful Daughter a while to get used to everything, especially the concept of day and night being about eight hours later than what she was used to for the last five weeks. Being nine months old she has no hesitation whatsoever in letting us* know this is Wrong, and that despite the clock saying it is three in the morning, it is most definitely time to be up and playing: there are places to go, toys to play with, and things to poo.

This plus the boys and Beautiful Wife and my parents makes for a busy apartment, and adding a new job into the mix means there’s not a lot of spare time at the moment, hence lack of blogging.

I’ve had enough msadventures to provide more material. And photos. When I can sit down and write a bit more coherently.

*and the neighbours, when she really gets going…

 

You…

…can’t…

…catch…

…me.

Missed this one last Autumn. Middle Son is on a new bike now, and even faster…

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