...a blog for the friends and family of dan, jen, worthy, william, calvin & christian

Thursday, January 23, 2014

ReCulture Shock

I've lived in the US for the majority of my life, so to some of you it might seem weird to have culture shock coming back here.  I'd say it's probably less shock and more just tremors.  Dan, Worthy & I are natives here.  William and Calvin have spent the majority of their time on this planet in Austria.  It's easy to forget that Vienna is home for them.  It's where they feel comfortable and understand the rules (even unspoken ones).  This is of course Christian's first time here, so he's still in tourist mode despite being a US citizen :)

A couple of observations:

  • We got some fast food on our way home from the airport and William was shocked to have ice in his drink.
  • My parents took the kids to Chick-fil-A one afternoon.  William came home and said, "Mom - you won't believe it... there was a playground IN the restaurant!"
  • Going into Walmart.  At our grocery store in Vienna, we have 2 choices of orange juice. This was a delightful (and a bit overwhelming) culture tremor.

  • Casual friendliness.  I'm not talking about friendliness with acquaintances at church or school.  It's the social pleasantries with strangers.  The greetings when walking into a store or shop, people talking to my kids in the grocery store line and just general nice-ness of people.  I'm not saying that Viennese aren't nice - they just don't display a casual niceness if that makes sense.  At the store a stranger was talking to Calvin and he asked me "Do we know her?"
These are just a couple of things.  Many happen in small doses and catch me off guard.  And while some of these things I've missed, some of them now feel foreign - like I'm a stranger in my own land.  Which is probably a bit how I should feel - knowing heaven is my home and this is just a temporary stay. 

First Week Back

The week has been a bit of a blur.  Shortly after arriving back in the US, I started running a fever.  After getting chest X-rays, it was evident my bronchial infection had turned into pneumonia.  I ended up staying in the hospital for 4 days to recover get medicine. It was definitely not restful.  Although it was nice to be able to understand my nurses.  The upside - I finally got to watch Season 1 & 2 of Homeland which we received as a Christmas present.  I didn't see the kiddos for a while - which was a little tough (I didn't want them coming to the hospital and picking up any unnecessary germs!).  I will gracefully refrain from showing any pics from my visit.  Thankfully my parents were still around and able to assist with the logistics of adjusting, getting Worthy & William ready for school and just helping holding down the fort while I recouped.

While I was in the hospital, Worthy & William began school.  So far, it's been a good experience.  They're both getting use to new places, routines, curriculum, friends and uniforms.

And if that wasn't too crazy enough - we had to take Calvin to the ER when a friend accidentally dropped a 20lb dumbbell on Calvin's foot.  Thankfully, it wasn't broken, but the doctor did have to puncture the toenail to release an ocean some blood from underneath. It was rather traumatic, but a good thing to have done.

It's good to be back.  
And will be even better when things settle down for us :)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Auf Wiedersehen Wien

The week before we left was full of packing, cleaning & saying Good Byes. It was a super hectic week punctuated by the fact that I was quite sick.  Thankfully, I had been prepping since December 27th which ultimately made things much easier that last week.  

I had a ton of errands to run and tried to tackle the bulk of them in one day. This became a crazy day.  Worthy, Baby & I rode 14 different public transportation legs. Yep - 14.  He became our Navigator for the trip which helped to lighten the pressure of the To Do List.
One of the MANY elevators that day!
 We also had to say goodbye to school.  
William's Kindergarten teacher put together a great picture collage of his time there.

 We also had a birthday party to attend.  This was a great chance for William & Calvin to have some special play time with close friends before departure... and we ate cake which is always delightfu!

 Worthy also had some goodbyes to say.  I took in cupcakes and he had a special time to tell the class about his next 6 months.  It's a wonderful group of kids and I'm so glad he had a sweet send off from them.

Worthy and some buddies

Our departure date quickly came and before we knew it - it was officially goodbye
front door to our apartment
We left early in the morning - two gracious friends drove us and our luggage.  Thankfully, we arrived early because there was a backup when dropping off luggage.  We zipped through, but by the time we were finished with checking in the line had grown very long.  Because of this backup we were able to zip through security.

The flights were rather uneventful.  Only Calvin & Christian slept a little.  I won't recount the details of it for you because quite frankly I don't want to remember it.  It's a blessing that we don't have to do it again for another 6 months or I might be freaking out.  
After our long flight - we arrived in America.  These are our bags.  It was exhausting.  And I didn't know this at the time, but I did all this with pneumonia.  Yep.  Doesn't get much worse than taking 4 young kids overseas with pneumonia.  

That said - it was great to arrive and see my family.  Their help and assistance was invaluable.

This is Christian's first time in the States.  
Welcome to America Baby.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Calvin is 4!

My little Calvin turned 4 on New Year's Eve.  
We had a low-key family celebration that was great.  Calvin definitely had the concept down that it was his special day.  He seemed to be sporting the tagline of "it's my birthday" all day long! 

We did cake and presents and he (of course!) wanted firework candles too.

Later that evening we went to a party with church friends.  Calvin was unable to stay awake until midnight and see the crazy fireworks here in Vienna.  It really is a madhouse at midnight. It's okay - he was a bit upset by the noise of the few that he did see.

I'm so proud of this little guy!

Naturhistorisches Museum Wien

During the Christmas holiday we have needed to escape the apartment a bit.  One of our excursions was to the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien - the Natural History Museum in Vienna. This was just the oldest three and I.  Daddy and stroller baby stayed home. I have never been here before, but I'm pretty sure the oldest two had already been here on field trips. I was expecting William and Calvin to be the ones thrilled on this excursion - to my surprise it was Worthy who was wowed (alliteration points!)
Shabby building - I know...
We were mainly interested in the dinosaur exhibit.  It was pretty cool.  I wasn't sure what could be touched and not touched so we just had a hands-off policy.  A lot of the things were at kid level with no barriers and no signs saying "Don't Touch This" (or the Deutsche equivalent).
This was a mechanical dino.  He moved some and made noises.  
Calvin was a bit unsettled by it.
Worthy went around the room and did a lot on his own.  Most of the exhibits were in German and English which was really nice.
Worthy was really tickled by this dino leg bone.  
It really was enormous.
He was also tickled to read some "Engrish" grammar mistakes.  
Maybe you can catch it too :)
And afterwards I took my starving explorers to McDonalds.  They each delightfully ordered cheeseburgers with ketchup only - my legacy of finickiness lives on! Honestly doing that order in German can be a challenge especially when most employees are not native German speakers.  It can be a confusing nightmare. 
And side note: here you have to pay for ketchup packs... 30 cents each.
they're required to serve a piece of fruit with it
And my kiddos proved to be as hungry as dinosaurs!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Christmas Day

Another wonderful Christmas has come and gone.  We woke up (surprisingly not too early!) and had breakfast, a short advent devotional and lit the long anticipated middle candle, then we dug into the presents! 

Christmas in PJ's - the best!
We shocked Worthy with a Snap Circuit set.  This was something that he played with this summer in the USA that he loved.  Thankfully while Dan was in the US, he was able to pick one up and bring it back for Christmas.  Worthy was very happily surprised!

O Happy Mess
more Mess... notice William's mace about to whack the baby...
I had to include this...  
Back Story: Calvin is a bit of a My Little Pony fan.  He likes to watch it on TV when he's sleepy.  So I (not Dan) picked him up a pony doll action figure. Dan was not completely on board with this purchase... hence the face :)

We finished off the evening by doing a little Skyping.  This is the part of the Holidays that just stinks.  Don't get me wrong - Skype is a gift, but our kids go nuts when Skype comes on.  It's kind of the equivalent of a Sugar Shot for them.  They seriously turn into circus exhibits.  Anyway, despite the craziness it was great to "see" family even if it was through Skype.

Merry, Merry Christmas!
Rejoice, Rejoice, Emmanuel has come to thee O Israel!

William is 6!

Our precious William turned 6 on December 21st!  He was so excited.  I can't believe how fast he has grown! We were wanting to do a birthday party for him, but with our temporary move approaching and Christmas it just seemed impossible to throw anything substantial together.  However, being our super sanguine boy, we thought it would be great to have one special friend come over and share a fun play date.  For a while, he has been asking if his friend Sandro could come over. So they spent a super afternoon together playing and having a blast and letting Calvin tag along in the fun.  

We did presents, dinner and cake.  He chose his special birthday dinner: chicken and rice... go figure. 
In classic William fashion - he happily let Sandro help open one of his presents.  (His generosity NEVER ceases to amaze me!).  
The "big" gift he got was a Beyblade thing - don't ask me the technical stuff. I know Legos, Thomas the Train, Transformers... I'm not making room in my brain for another Toy Related Minutia Category.
Then we did cake and ice cream.  (All you Pinteresters... be jealous... be VERY jealous of my cake decorating skills!) We gave William the option of Blow-Out candles or Firework ones.  He chose the firework candles.  They are just super cool. 
Thought you might enjoy the short video clip :)