Todd Family Blog

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Bavarian Fall, Part 1

We can't lie, it was definitely difficult (despite the travel perks, the fantastic new friends, and our love of sausage and pretzels) to leave our "Iniana House," as Levi calls it, when the summer ended.  Our sweet log house is simply home to us and a wonderful place to live.  And maybe I am provincial in some way, and I am pretty sure that is how some people here would view me, but I still want one place that I relate to as a long-term home.  Not because it's where we found work, not because it has the "coolest" amenities or is a "brand name" city, not because of its proximity to other countries, attractions, historic sites, etc., but because we relate in our core to that environment.  

I guess what I'm saying is, I want my gorgeous Ethiopian boy to be a pull yourself up by the bootstraps, aw-shucks-nice-to-everyone, love to travel, serve others, have a heart for God, appreciate a life-long childhood friend, all-around-individual-responsible-for-himself-not-part-of-a-system kind-of-guy.  (Is that so much to ask, wink, wink?)  So, though we love our adventures and have had many wonderful experiences thus far, it's always hard to leave what HOME means to us.  

Okay, musings over…..

On the flip side, we had lots to enjoy when we returned to Deutschland, including dear friends, lovely sights, Levi and Mommy School, and favorite spots to haunt, all pictured below…..

The Big Deal:  Levi is officially reading!  He has sight words and is sounding out simple words, just in time for turning 3 1/2.  So exciting!  He even has little starter books that he really reads to us.  Makes me love our homeschool situation even more when I'm there to see the results happening in the moment.  Like seeing a whole new set of firsts!

Levi Says:
  • We all want to play and it will be a family party.
  • [Dinner prayer the night we returned from the U.S. and got döner kebab for dinner:] Help Levi not to put fingers in nose, Help Levi not to put fingers in mouth. Thank you that we found meat and fries.  Help Levi to feel better in the morning.  In Jesus name, Amen.
  • We both want to pack away my cars and put them safely back in my car box to take them upstairs.
  • LT: Cobi is far away.  Me: In Indiana?  LT: Yes.  I miss my Iniana house.  I miss my Iniana house and my family.
  • Lots of, "Actually….", "I guess….", "Maybe it would be okay if…..", "Could we maybe have…."
  • Me: Did you eat lunch at Maddie's?  LT: Yes.  Me: What did you eat?  LT: Wonderful food.  Me: Really?  What kind of wonderful food?  LT: I do not know that.
  • [One night when I met Caro and Maria for dinner:] Mommy will not see Miriam, I guess.
  • Mississippi = Mr. Sippi
  • [Talking about what he would do if he saw a bear on a mountain like Neenie did:]  I really DO want to kick a bear!  Bears really DO want to fight and wrestle me!….That was a good story, I guess.
  • [After a waitress giving him bonus candy after a meal:] Waitresses love me SO much!"
  • Ukraine is my favorite state to go to.
  • I would like some juice and wine.
  • I Do want my tears on my face!
  • Me: Levi, is there something that would make going to the potty fun?  Like do you remember when you used to get stickers?  Would you like to pick any sticker you want?  LT: No. Me: How 'bout if you got to give the doggies treats after every time you go potty?  LT: Ummmm…Hmmmmm…I'm not sure what to do.
  • [Running out of the bathroom:] Mommy, Mommy!!!  I made something big for your to see!!
  • I CAN listen!  I CAN'T listen!  I want to listen and not listen at the same time!
  • [Later than usual one night:] Me: Okay, we need to pick up Daddy at the train station.  LT (wide eyed): Can we drive the car at night!?!?  Me: Yes.  LT: (Huge squeals, eyes squeezed shut, hugs himself tightly) This is SO exciting!!!!….(in the car) The sun has gone to bed.  We have a headlight!"
  • [On the phone with Pa:] I wonder what Pa is wearing?  [And later:] Pa, I want to show you something…hold on…I've got somethin' comin'…..
  • I love Caly's kisses, nose, and his boogies.
  • Ummmmm….Daddy….How do rockets work?
  • [After a treat of a bite of Twix:] That went in my hollow leg.
  • I am so fast with these puzzles….I want to tell Maria that I am so fast with these puzzles.
  • [Literally, his first words one morning:] Can we go downstairs and do my America puzzle?  And then I want to pack it away and do the other one.  
  • [After practicing some simple addition:] Addition!  I really do like addition all the time!
  • I'm a big grown-up.  I'm 3 years-old.  And Maddie's not a boy.  Maddie's a girl.
  • Comes up with his own opposites.
  • [Dinner prayer:] Thank you for this nice day we had with Maddie at play group.
  • [Looking at a picture of our dear friends, the Mott family:] These are my best friends, like Jacobi.
  • These puzzles are my dear friends, like Maddie and Cobi and Elias and Isaiah.  All my friends and family are my dear friends.
  • [Looking at Ethiopia pictures:] Mommy and Daddy flew in a plane to Iniana and a friend said they could have baby Levi.
  • EVERYTHING (literally EVERYTHING) is a "Mommy, Daddy and baby" who are "hugging and snuggling."
  • [Looking around at all the school kids during a trip to an animal park:] All these people have a story to tell!
  • Daddy reported that all month long Levi prayed, "Thank you for this nice day with Mommy."  Awwwww.
Firstly, End of Summer Chair Picture (Month 31)

Kicking off the fall….
Getting Reacquainted
We had packed so much into our month away that it felt like we had been gone much, much longer.  First things first, we snagged some time with our buddies.

I know we went to our play group and saw some other friends too, but I must have not had the camera at the ready….Or, it must be a sign how much Maria and I love to have our cameras out.  Either way, lots of fun with Maria, Maddie and Aiden:
Play date with Maddie, snuggling for a Daniel Tiger episode
Brunch at our place.  Luke was such a sweet boy 
meeting Aiden and Maddie.
Maddie is a bit scared of dogs, so Luke was great practice!
And then walking to a nearby park.
Trip to the zoo.  Snuggles by the lions….
After this trip Levi told me, "I had fun playing at the zoo with Maddie.  She's my dear friend."
And getting' back in the swing of things….When I forget my Euro to rent a cart I can sometimes turn Levi into my "Helper Tiger," as we call him.  (And sometimes not.  Hence the need for the cart.)
Trying to distract Levi from another tricky transition between our two homes, Brad whisked us off to a cable car in Austria.  Though it was just the start to the fall it was fun to see some snow in the mountains.
Lunch at the top.  (As always, ridiculous kids' portions.  Seriously!?)
Tuckered out
And a Mommy and Me visit to the airplane museum.
Levi kept asking me what all the buttons do.  Ummm…..
Naturally, checking out every inch. 
Enjoying Munich's Sea Life Aquarium
And the sights of Tegernsee
Levi and Mommy School
Still "Strewing"….The best way to see what Levi's noggin is ready to learn and what he gets excited about.
Reading my Montessori resources I've learned a lot about how pouring, tongs, chopsticks, etc. are all pre-writing development.  Levi is so obsessed with wanting to write, but has no interest in things like coloring and painting.  So, the covert Montessori ways of "practicing" his writing - isolating his hand/wrist muscles, etc. - have been really great.  
As always, some are hits and some are misses.  But even a few quality minutes spent on a "miss" can have a pay off.  
(If only for me learning what NOT to do!)
One thing I never, ever have to twist his arm to do are his Geo puzzles for America/Canada and Europe. He quickly figured out how to do them on his own and they were done often 5-6 times a day.  
(If only I liked puzzles!!!!  But, I DO love watching him learn.)
His state fact cards were an obsession for a while too. 
A brief play dough success.  
Just about every day we build quite the elaborate track and town.  
I am an excellent assistant track builder.
Using the Montessori sand paper letter idea with his sight words.  
He loves  his stack of sight words and takes feeling all the "bumps" VERY seriously. 
Not a huge hit, but planning to revisit this soon - animals and where they live.  This is a good example of how I am often surprised what he likes and what he doesn't have a huge interest in.  For instance, he LOVES maps and learning about different countries.  He also LOVES animals.  But the two together…Oh well!  We'll try it again.
Tasting!  This continues to be a request.  We taste various spices, then we taste them again with a pinch of salt.  We've also started to add things like apple slices to dip.  
I may have a future chef on my hands?  (Or at least a great eater.)
I've tried to incorporate the Montessori mat idea too, but our activities tend to grow off said mat.  Perhaps it is more useful with a bunch of kids in a classroom?  
We do always "pack away" our activities at least.
Another fantastic Montessori change in our house - Levi's kitchen drawer.  He gets his own utensils, plates, snacks, helps pour his juices, waters, etc.  Win for me too.  I'm all for anything to help out around the house!
Space Week!  I surprised Levi with a basket of goodies.  Huge excitement.
This actually got him to paint.  Our "rocket."
Lots of "transfer" activities to work on hand strength and fine motor control.  Always a towel or broom handy for the inevitable spill.  That's learning too!
Reverse writing, haha.  Sneaky, right?
Writing some sight words
Learning to make the bed.
Thanks, Neenie, for the great spelling boards!

And to end, Fall Chair Pictures (Month 32)

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