Total Pageviews

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Reflecting Back

Today at dinner, I asked my husband if we could move back to Germany.   I still miss it so much.  It's been 31/2 years since we have been back.

Every Christmas, I teach all of the kindergarteners at the school I teach at, all about Germany at Christmas time.  My son helped me with a slideshow of pictures I took of the Christmas markets, and pictures of Germany.  This year, I felt a little sad after it was all over with.  Parents who were visiting my classroom commented on my presentation:  "Wow, that must had been so nice."  "Wow, the Christmas markets look amazing!"  I nodded and smiled and deep down felt so much gratitude that I had these experiences of living abroad for the year, but on the other hand, I want to go back.  A year wasn't enough.

Most of you were found my blog might have some questions like:  What  is it like for you now?  How did your year change your life?  Would you do it again?

Life now, is good.  I do miss the simple life of Europe.  Here, everything seems so busy.  I don't know if it is because I work full-time now, and I can't balance life, with work and home.  I love that Sundays, everything is closed, and you just hang out with your family.  Here, things are never closed. You can even shop on holidays, like this year, on Thanksgiving.  My husband, even though he has the same job here as in Germany, works more hours here in America.

I have gained almost 20 pounds since I've returned.  I miss my daily workouts of just being active in Germany- walking everywhere and running after trams.  I hate that I have to depend on my car so much here.

That year changed my life forever.  My world is not confined in just my town, my country, but spreads all around the globe.  I listen to the news, to NPR.  My kids are global thinkers now, and at a young age, know about cultures and languages.  If anything, I love that we moved for that splendid year, for our children.  My children think outside the box, and are both participating in enrichment classes in our district, and I think living abroad helped them to even be considered for these programs.

I would definitely do another expat assignment.  We'll see.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Today's writing prompt from Teachers Write:

Getting to know our main characters!

Think of this as an interview, of sorts, where you ask your character questions to better get to know him or he. This applies to all ages, whether you’re writing a picture book, middle grade, or YA. Remember to treat this like a free writing exercise and have FUN. Things to ask yourself:
• What do you look like? (Remember to answer how your character would answer)
• Describe your bedroom. Do you have your own room? Share?
• What is your family like?
• Do you have any pets? Describe them.
• What is your favorite thing about yourself? Least favorite?
• What is your biggest pet peeve?
• What are you afraid of?
• What do you want, but can’t have?
• Who is your best friend?
• Who is your worst enemy?
• What do you want people to know about you, but are afraid to share?
I have been told I should write a children's book on my dog Toga, who traveled around Europe with us when we lived there.  We have pictures of him in famous landmarks, and he did things and saw places that some people never get to see.  So, I am thinking of writing a non-fiction book about the places Toga saw, from Toga's point of view.
What do I look like?  I am a Boston Terrier dog, black and white.  I use my enduring black eyes to get what I want.  My bedroom is my whole house.  I sleep in my dog bed that's downstairs, my dog bed that's upstairs, Maggie's bed, Tim and Stacey's bed, and all the couches and the window seat.  As long as I am on a blanket or something soft.  And, I love to sleep under the blankets!  My family is the best.  I love my mom, Stacey the best.  She, I know, loves me the best.  Tim is alright, and I love him too.  The kids, I guess, are alright.  Sometimes they are nice to  me and I like them, but then sometimes they like to tease me on purpose, and I growl at them.  My pets are my "birdies," which are my stuffed animal toys that I like to suck on and bring from room to room with me.  My first stuffed animal that I ever had was a white bird, and Stacey called all my stuffed animals from then on my birdies, since I knew what she was talking about.  My favorite thing about myself is that I am smart.  I love where I live, and where I have been with my family.  I feel safe with them, wherever I go.  I have lots of adventures with my family, so that is my favorite thing.  My least favorite thing about myself is that I am always hungry.  I am allergic to lots of food, and I hate that.  My biggest pet peeve is when Riley bothers me and is rude to me and teases me.  My other pet peeve is barking dogs.  I just don't understand them, especially this dog, Ruby, that always barks at me.  I am afraid to be by myself.  I hate when Stacey and Tim go to work.  I always want to be with them.  I want people food, but Stacey and Tim can't get it to me, because of my food allergies.  My best friend is Stacey, duh!  I love her so much and I go room to room with her when she is home, because I can't stop looking at her, and I don't want her to leave me.  My worst enemy is Ruby, that dog down the street.  I want people to know, but afraid to say...well, I don't have to tell you.  I'm smart, so nice try.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Today's writing prompt from "Teachers Write," a writing community of teachers, is to write about your favorite place, and start your writing with the word Sometimes-  Here it goes:

Sometimes, standing in the European square of Dresden, Germany, one feels so insignificant and small when looking up at the old historical baroque buildings.  Glancing down the narrow, quaint cobblestone streets, I am fascinated with the women in their high heels and marvel that women here look so chic and fashionable.  A tram whizzes by, church bells at the Frauenkirche sound magical and so European, as lunchtime vendors are serving bratwurst while the bakeries entice people into their shops with smells of fresh bread.  I find a place to sit in the square, and look at the church bells as they continue to ring.  A horse-drawn carriage is trotting through the square, while bike taxis are waiting for tourists to notice their business.  It is noon, and the city is beginning to wake up, with business people on lunch breaks and tourists.  It is Spring, and the sun is shining brightly.  I look up at the sky, at the skyline, and again, at the old buildings.  I take a mental picture of it all.  I close my eyes;  maybe to quiz myself and to see if I will remember it all.  With eyes closed, the bells are still chiming,  people are talking, and walking with shoe heels, and horses are stamping by.  I open my eyes, and I find that I did remember everything I see.  It's very important that I remember everything about this city.  I lived here for one year, and in just a couple weeks, my life as an expat will be over, and I'll be moving back to Upstate New York.  This is my favorite place in the whole world.  Sitting here, in  the Frauenkirche Square, watching the energy of the city, my city,  and marveling at the old architecture, that I have never seen in the States.  I am at my happiest, right now, in this moment.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Writing About Toga

My last day with my kindergarten kids was last Friday, but today and tomorrow, teachers need to go to school for staff development.  Our school district is getting a new reading program, which is aligned to Common Core.  This morning, with temperatures in the 90's, no air conditioning, and a somewhat disorganized morning of presenting from our presenter, it was a relief to be in an air-conditioning restaurant for lunch.  After lunch, the task of cleaning and organizing our classrooms seemed impossible, since we were back in our sweaty classrooms.  Nobody wanted to move or work.

I was in good shape.  My two children came to my classroom after school on Friday and helped me to organize and clean.  As I was scanning my classroom for last minute pick-ups and cleaning jobs, I saw the anchor chart I wrote in front of my class about revising with peers, taped to my wall.  I wrote a two sentence story about my dog, Toga.  Then, the kids asked me question after question about my writing, about my dog and they begged for more details.  I revised my writing, added lots of supporting details with their suggestions.

My dog Toga passed away in mid-May, and taking down my anchor chart about him was so difficult to do.  Toga has always been my fun topic to write about in my Writer's Workshop mini-lessons.  My last 13 classes have known him, have laughed at my stories about him, and he has became my classroom mascot.  When he was a  puppy, I used to bring my shoes that he chewed up to school and wrote about how mad I was at him.  I wrote about how he climbed on our dining room table when he was left home alone, and ate a dozen cupcakes, even the cupcake liners!  My students have learned to put spaces between their words, stretching their words out, use using juicer words, and add supporting details to their writing;  all with my modeling, and usually it was a writing piece about Toga.

Taking down my chart paper and realizing that I would no longer be writing about Toga in the present tense was very emotional for me.  It was like grieving him all over today.  I miss my little buddy.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Toga; Two weeks After

It's been nearly 2 weeks since Toga's passing, and it's still hard to talk about him, or look at a picture of him and not want to pet him or imagine he's still laying on my front porch.  Everywhere I look, there are his things, his pictures.  Even in my classroom, I wrote a story about him, and my class of kindergarteners had to revise my writing to make it better.  It is on my wall, as a reference as to how to revise.  His stuffed animals are tucked into corners of our Victorian house. His big cozy bed is now Guppy's.  His photographs are all over the place.  Pictures of him in Europe, pictures of him with our newborn children, pictures of him with all four of us.

Guppy seems to be alright, but is confused at meal times.  We always fed Toga first, and Guppy patiently waited for his meals.  Now when it's time to eat, he hasn't been eating.  I don't know if it's because he's still waiting for Toga to eat first, or what... But I think Guppy even misses him.

Guppy has been our lifesaver.  All four of us have turned to Guppy for comfort.  But Guppy will never be Toga.  There can only be one Toga.  Toga, the dog who wasn't really a dog.  The dog who was so human-like with his emotions, so human-like with his intelligence.  And then there's Guppy;  the dog who chases his balls, can't learn a new trick after 3 weeks, barks at everything he hears outside, and is just a dog- yes, Guppy is your average, run of the mill dog.

Toga's vet has yet to call us about picking up his ashes.  We talk about putting them in the front yard garden, or in the backyard.  I think that will be a hard day, since it's almost like putting closure on a dog we loved, and who loved us back more.

I have never gone through a death of a pet.  Toga is my first pet.  I don't know if deaths of your pets get any easier after experience...maybe they don't.  I tell myself that it's harder for me, since I have  never grieved for my pet.  My best friend.  My buddy.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Toga's Obituary

Saratoga Silver Starr Walz, AKA  Toga, was born on March 30, 2000 in a small town outside Portland, Oregon.  His mother, Oreo, and his dad, Butch were there to welcome him into this world.  When Toga was about a month old, Tim and Stacey Walz visited  his breeder's house, and had to make a decision to bring one of two males from Oreo's remaining litter.  One playful puppy kept licking  Stacey and jumping into her hands, and another shy puppy, after being held, would quiver to the corner, his little butt the only thing Tim and Stacey could see.  But this shy pup was a beautiful puppy.   He had perfect  Boston Terrier markings.  Tim told Stacey he wanted the shy puppy because of his perfect markings, and Stacey kept playing with the outgoing puppy, not convinced that picking a beautiful puppy was the only reason to get that shy little guy.  But then the breeder told Stacey and Tim that the shy guy was the runt of the litter and he was often teased by his brothers and sisters.  It was then, that Stacey decided to get this beautiful shy runt of a Boston Terrier.  They proudly told the breeder that his name would be Toga for short.  Because he came from champion show dog lines, they could register him, so they gave him the name Saratoga Silver Starr. Saratoga, after Stacey's hometown, and Silver Starr, after a mountain in Washington State that they camped at.

Tim brought home Toga on Stacey's last day of teaching for that year.  Stacey had the whole summer with Toga.  That summer, she trained him.  Even though Toga was her very first pet, Toga was easy to train.  He quickly  learned how to sit, stay, give five, and later would learn to dance, play dead and stay still with a treat on his nose.  Many strangers would often ask Stacey where Toga was trained, and that was always one of Stacey's biggest praises.  Stacey put all of her love into this dog;  she had suffered an emotional and painful miscarriage just weeks before Toga's birth, so Toga was slowly healing Stacey and Tim.

He was a very gentle, sweet dog, who absolutely loved Stacey and Tim.  Stacey and Tim took Toga everywhere those early years.  They found hotels that would allow dogs, and their favorite place to vacation was Cannon Beach, Oregon, where dogs were allowed to run off of their leashes.  For three years in a row,  Toga was entered in the Cannon Beach Dog Show and won the following:  So Ugly, It's Cute,  The Doggy Dash, Best Smile and Best Trick.  He also won a dog show in downtown Vancouver,  Washington, where he proudly did all of his tricks, and won first prize.

He enjoyed hikes around LaCamas Lake, the Columbia River and the park-like setting in his first home in Vancouver, Washington.  Everyone knew him in the neighborhood.  When Stacey returned to teaching in the fall at Mill Plain Elementary,  it would be her first year teaching kindergarten.  She would often compare her students to Toga, because both her students and Toga had to learn everything and had to be trained.  Having Toga made Stacey an even more patient and caring teacher.  Her classes for the next 13 years (this Kindergarten class from 2000-2001 is now graduating from high school this year) would learn all Toga's funny stories.  Stacey would often write about Toga during her Writer's Workshop.  When Stacey taught at Illahee Elementary, she brought Toga to the Welcome back BBQ and Tim even brought him to her classroom as a class treat.  Stacey will always remember Toga running into the classroom, and jumping into her lap, as she was sitting in her teacher chair in front of her students.

His favorite activities included laying in the sun, taking walks and hikes, camping, and playing with his stuffed animals.  He would take his animals and suck on them as he napped or as he was relaxing.  His first stuffed animal that he did this to was a bird, so from then on, all his stuffed animals were called "Birdies."  They were like his pacifiers.  All of his life, he enjoyed all of his Birdies, including his turtle that went from country to country when he  moved to Germany.

In 2002, Toga's life changed.  Riley was born, and he was no longer the only child.  And later in 2004, Maggie was born.  Even though Toga was never mean to his  "brother" and "sister," he was very indifferent to them.  He would tolerate them, but he much preferred the company of Stacey and Tim.  When Riley or Maggie had to be fed a bottle, Toga would often sit on Stacey's lap, to maybe say, "Don't forget about me, you know."

Toga's early friends were Bitsy, Tim's parent's dog, and Sparky, the neighbor dog.  He was sociable with other dogs, and loved to play with these two dogs.  In his later years, he often preferred the company of adults than other dogs.  At family gatherings at Stacey's parent's house, he would often sit with the people, while the other dogs in the family ran all around.

In 2004, Stacey and Tim moved back to Stacey's hometown.  At first, living in a furnished apartment in downtown Saratoga, and then later, buying a house in the village of Ballston Spa.  Toga, with all of these moves, quickly learned that "home" was where his family was.

Family vacations, and bringing Toga, were always planned.  The family would plan trips to Lake Champlain,  Rainbow Lake and Cape Cod, and Toga came along.  Camping with Toga was easy too.  Toga would always stay close to the fire and tents and to Stacey and Tim.

In 2010, Toga became an international dog.  Tim took a job in Germany, and Toga came along, because he was a member of the family.  Tim's company paid for Toga to fly, paid for all the additional charges like the pet health certificate.  Toga flew in the cabin, and had a special doggy bag.  He did a great job flying on that long day of traveling.

While in Germany, Toga enjoyed the freedoms that dogs have there.  Dogs were allowed on public transportation, in malls, in stores, and most importantly, restaurants!  He was even served sausages in the restaurants, along with a water bowl.  Whenever the family could allow it, Toga would travel with them.  His vacations included traveling all over Germany, including castles.  Driving through the Alps and traveling through Innsbruck, Austria.  He traveled all over North Italy, including Venice, Florence and Cinque Terre.  He was on a gondola in Venice, traveled all over Tuscany, and hiked the famous paths along the Mediterranean Sea in Cinque Terre.  He took trains that traveled around Germany.  He even took a long train trip to Vienna, Austria.  His favorite was a RV trip that the family took in their last month living in Europe.  They traveled to Amsterdam and throughout Holland.  He took boat rides in Amsterdam's canals.  He ran on the Belgium coast and traveled through Luxembourg.  His favorite trip was probably the trip to the Baltic Sea, in which the family spent 4 days in a coastal town, that included a dog friendly beach.  Toga was so happy.

Coming back to Ballston Spa was a difficult transition for all members of the  Walz family, including Toga.  Toga wasn't allowed to be with the family in stores and in restaurants, so he was finding that he was left alone quite often.  In April 2011, after a night of rapid breathing and panting, Stacey took Toga to the vet to learn that  Toga had congestive heart failure, and his lungs were filled with fluid.  He was put on special heart medication and Toga's vet, Dr. Sarah, told Stacey that Toga would most likely only live for a couple of months.  Stacey was devastated;  she couldn't imagine her life without Toga.  Each day after that, seemed like a gift.  Then in July, Toga was diagnosed with diabetes and a liver condition.  Now Toga had to be given insulin twice a day, and be given a liver medication each day.  Now, on 3  medications, Toga was slowly declining.  Dr. Sarah, once again, warned Stacey that Toga's days might be winding down.  In August, the family decided to rescue a French Bulldog named Guppy.  Guppy and Toga were friendly toward one another, but still, Toga preferred the company of Stacey and Tim.  Guppy was finding that he loved playing with the children, and he respected Toga, and maybe even knew Toga wasn't always feeling so great, and took his time with Toga.  The family celebrated Christmas, and considered it a gift to have Toga celebrating with them, as usual.  Past Walz Christmas cards graced their walls, and all of their cards included Toga in them.  And this year's Christmas photo included the new Guppy.

Toga had his good days and his bad days, and Stacey was often confused about Toga's quality of life, since he was still walking and seemed happy.  In March, Toga lost his hearing.  The family noticed that he wasn't responding to them coming home, or wasn't coming when called.  And shortly after losing his hearing, he seemed to be going through some doggy dementia.  Toga has lost a lot of weight.  He celebrated his 13th birthday on April 30, but shortly after, the family knew that their time with Toga was down to days.  On May 10 on a vet visit to confirm their dreaded realization, they decided it was time to put Toga down.  On the rainy day of May 11th,  Stacey and Tim said goodbye to sweet Toga, as he breathed his last breath before entering doggy heaven.  He went so peacefully.

Toga's survivors include his family:  Stacey, Tim, Riley, Maggie and Guppy.  His grandparents:  Lorraine and Jim, Joyce and David.  His special friends:  Cindy, Marijo, Kelly, the Grahams, the LaGoys- who all doggy sat  Toga.

For those who knew him, loved him.  Many people that Toga met decided to have Boston Terriers as their pets.  Even the family's substitute mail carrier got a Boston Terrier because he loved Toga so much.  And a couple that would walk nightly by the house got a Boston because they loved Toga.

The family would like to thank Mandak Vet, and Dr. Sarah and Dr. Teddy and all of their staff,  who have helped the family for the last year during Toga's diseases.  They have seen Stacey cry the most, and Stacey always felt Toga was getting the best care.

But most importantly, the family wishes to thank Toga.  Toga,  you have taught us so much.  To smell the roses.  How to care for something-  you made us better parents, because we got to "parent" you first.  You taught us patience, and how easy it was for us to care for something else.  Toga, your love in that first year really helped me to heal after my  miscarriage.  And moving to Germany with you, you were the reason I took walks in my neighborhood.  You got me out of the house on those days when I was feeling bored.  You brought us so much happiness with your goofy ways, and I know you loved me as much as I loved you.  Your love for me was unconditional.  Everyone knows you loved me the most, and you loved your mommy.  I needed you as much as you needed me.  And I know on May 11, when you went to Doggy Heaven, you needed me to say goodbye to you.

Rest in Peace sweet sweet Toga.  We love you, and you will remain in our hearts forever.  You can have the crazies again in heaven, sweetie.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Amazing Race

I am watching the Amazing Race right now (and typing this at the same time), and I am homesick for Europe.

Last week, my mom called us and told us that the Amazing Race would be in Germany.  The kids and I brainstormed a bunch of cities they might be visiting:  Munich, Frankfurt, Berlin...we named a bunch of cities.  But never in our wildest dreams did we think the Amazing Race would be in Dresden, the city we love and lived in for one year!!  We screamed and shouted when we heard the competiters say they were going to Dresden.  They were taking a train to Dresden and getting their first clue of that episode in Dresden.  We sat in silence, then yelps of joy as we saw the Zwinger, the square, the Elbe River...  I was so excited that my city was being featured, because I think it's one of the most beautiful cities, and most people have never heard of Dresden.  As soon as the competiters  got their first clue, they were on the Autobahn, driving fast and furious to Berlin.

After the show, after the kids went to bed, I sat in the living room, and a big surge of emotion was trapped in my body.  If I let it go, I don't know if I could stop the emotion that would be coming out;  that uncontrollable crying.  I miss Europe so much, it hurts.  But I got to see Dresden again, and now more people know about my beloved city, Dresden.

Maggie at one of Dresden's castles

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I'm Trying So Hard Not to Hate Skiing

This is my second winter of ski lessons.  Big improvements...Last year when skiing down the Bunny Hop, I screamed  my way down, yelling at the little ones to "WATCH OUT!"  Now, in my 2nd year of skiing, I can control my screaming rants, but instead of them physically coming out of my mouth, these rants are now in my head.


And of course, this is all happening on the Bunny Hop , because I am too scared to graduate to the next slope, which would be "Joe's Special."

Three weeks ago, I had a panic attack while skiing down the Bunny Hop.  This year for my lessons, I decided I wanted to ski with my friends  Julie and Michelle.  I know they are better skiers than me, but I was hoping to be influenced by them.  In my ski lesson group, I am probably the worst skier.  But three weeks ago, I felt like I was holding back my group, since our instructor had to take time to coach me.  I don't really think any of the other skiers even cared, but I was so self-conscience of this.  By the second run down the hill, I was experiencing with panic.  I don't know if it was an actual panic attack, but I knew I had to stop skiing.  I announced to my group that I was going to take a break, I skied back to the lodge, and handed over my rental skis and boots, and decided in two seconds, that it wasn't going to be a break, but I was quitting for the day.  I felt defeated, but relieved I was off the mountain.

Some people are afraid of heights or small spaces.  I think I've discovered that I'm afraid of going down a mountain at a high speed.  Actually, I might even be afraid of mountains.  When we lived in Europe, and we drove from Germany to Italy, driving through the Alps, I was awestruck by the beauty.  But the higher and higher we got, I started to freak a little.  First of all, the highways in Europe are so narrow.  And as we were, what seemed to me, driving on top of the Alps, on these narrow highways, on these little narrow bridges, I thought we were going to fall off the cliff at least 100 times.  But the time we reached Venice, Italy, I was relieved to be on land, and it didn't even matter that the land was a floating city in the sea!   And as we walked to our water taxi, I wondered why my hips hurt.  And it dawned on me that I was literally moving my body as we drove on those narrow highways, with all the twists and turns;  every time our car turned, I think  I turned my whole body.  I was so tense for at least 2 hours of our drive.  So, I really am not afraid of heights.  It's when I'm around a mountain, and twisting and turning around it;  whether it's skiing or driving around one.  And having all that speed, while turning, freaks me out.

So, here I am, almost at the end of my 2nd year of ski.  It is Winter Break and I asked my kids what they wanted to do.  They both want to ski at the mountain we take lessons at. So today, I will conquer my fears and step onto the Bunny Hop; the first time since I excused myself 3 weeks ago because I had to take a break.

There was one week of ski when I told Michelle that skiing felt easy that day, and when I skied I heard birds singing and Walt Disney music.  She laughed and thought I was funny, but she doesn't know about my internal rants.  To  hear birds singing was a big thing for me.  I think the birds were singing in my mind, because it was a slow day on the mountain, so the paths suddenly became wider.  Hmm, maybe I'm just afraid of narrow paths around mountains?

I'm hoping that today isn't busy on the Bunny Slope and that I can hold it together for my kids.

Monday, January 21, 2013

It's Only a Year

Roughly about 2 months ago, my husband's old boss from Germany called and asked  him if he was interested in applying for a position in Dresden, Germany, where we were expats about two years ago.

We were excited, but overwhelmed.  We wanted to do it but there was so much to think about.   You see, this time, it is a permanent position.  Last time, we knew it was only for a year.  (And it ended up being a year to the date- July 2, 2010-July 2, 2011)

When something is only for a year, you think to yourself  I can do anything for a year.  And that was precisely my attitude when I was living in Germany.  Those days when I thought the German people were mean.  It's only a year.  The handful of times I accidentally ate nuts, which I am allergic to, all because I couldn't read the food label.  It's only a year.  When I couldn't communicate and speak German in semi-emergency situations (emergency room visits, lost my locker key to the pool, calling doctor's offices, talking to pharmacists about dosage and directions to medicine, when the cable man came to set it up...this list could go on forever...It's only a year.  "It's only a year" was my philosophy.  It got me through those stressful days that only living in a foreign country could give you.  I realized that once I passed the 6 months time, I was finding  myself say "We only have 6 months left."  Then, "Only 3 months left."  Then, it was an urgency to do everything, to get it all in.  I visited Dresden's museums, we booked a vacation each month.  I wanted to go to Paris;  my husband didn't.  So, I went by myself with the kids.  I wanted to go to Spain-  where in Spain, I didn't know.  I made friends with an English-speaking travel agent, and she found me a deal in Malaga, Spain, a city right on the Mediterranean.  My agent friend also found me in a deal in Vienna, and both these trips I went with just the kids, since Tim was busy at work.  I became obsessed with traveling and seeing everything I could before my year was over.  Now, there was a deadline.  Even one of the moms at the international school called me crazy.  All the German moms couldn't wait to hear where I was going next.  Apparently, I was traveling and seeing more of Europe than most of them, and they lived in Europe their whole lives.  They found me amusing.  

This time, if we decide to move back to Germany, there is no end date.   This kind of scares me, since that year deadline gave me comfort, and after we were halfway through, it gave me an urgency to do things I never in my wildest dreams thought I would do.  Like fly to Paris, France with two kids (by myself), and find my way from the airport to the train, to the subway that would take us to our hotel.  I became this strong, brave lady, and I haven't felt that way since.  When I was in Spain, Paris and Vienna, I walked around those cities with all my guidebooks and maps and I was determined to show my kids every single thing these cities had.  

I am NOT fluent in German, and barely got by with the German I know.  If I have a bad day, what will get me through it?  Will the brave European I was, return?  Oh how I miss that brave lady!

My kids in Vienna, overlooking the Danube River.  
My husband travels to Dresden, Germany tomorrow.  He is getting some sort of training, but while out there, he is meeting with his future boss' boss, and some Human Resources people.  Tim said Yes to the position about 3 weeks ago, and we are still awaiting the relocation package and contract.  The company is still getting it put together.  My husband seems to think that many many people need to put their OK stamp on this.

The next week will, I hope, bring us some answers to our future.  Are we moving back to Germany?  Are we staying in New  York?  What are we doing with our house?  Our cars?  Our things in our house- will everything be shipped?  Will I be able to take a leave from my job as a teacher?  

It's only a week.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Yes, I Have a Job

After having ten whole days off for the Christmas vacation, I had to go to work today.  Yes, it was hard to do.  Yes, it was hard to wake up.  Once at school, I had to get in my "kindergarten teacher world."  I knew my students would be coming in this morning, with lots of stories about what Santa left them all.  I had to get in my Kindergarten Teacher World, be full of smiles.  Of course, I smile all the time naturally.  But when it's the first day back after a long break, sometimes I have to train myself all over again on how one acts when they are a kindergarten teacher.

For some reason over the vacation, I slept a lot.  I would wake up most days around 10 AM, and some days around 1, I would get tired again, and sleep AGAIN!  On New Year's Day, I actually woke myself  up at 11:00.  So as you can imagine, waking up at 6 AM (and my two own children) this morning was  not all rainbows.  It was actually kind of stormy, with lots of grumpiness.

Not just anyone can be a kindergarten teacher.  You have to be the most patient, most "OH WOW!" or "Great job," and say it with the most upbeat tempo, like how one would talk to a dog or a cat.  Everything in a kindergarten teacher's world is rainbows and peace signs.  We have to spread the love.  So, ten days away from the rainbows and peace signs, I have to slowly get myself back in that, "Good morning  boys and girls.  What did Santa bring you?"  As all 16 of my children talk to me at once, I am still spreading the peace and rainbows, and say sweetly, "WOW!"

Teaching kindergarten really keeps me balanced on what is really important in life:  sharing and having fun.  These students that I get each year are like a family to me.  It's hard to believe that I have had 18 of these little families.   And if I have about 20 students in each class (and for 2 years, I taught a morning and afternoon class) so how many students have I spent a considerable amount of time with?  Roughly 400 students!!  I sit here amazed at that!

So, today I ended my Christmas vacation, and talked about presents, staying up late for New Year's and we even wrote resolutions.  One of my little kids today wrote that his resolution was that he will always say yes to me;  It was very cute.

My students wanted to know what my resolution was.  I told them it was to continue to run and write.  My kids thought the running part was funny.  "Well, how many times do you see a grown-up running on a playground and playing?  Grown-ups don't really do that, so to get exercise, we have to go to a gym or run."  Ben, a curious little boy says, "Mrs. Walz, all you have to do is just play on the playground.  Why don't grown ups just play with us."

I know, Ben.  We should.  That Ben is very smart.
Happy  New Year everyone, and hope you all had a wonderful Christmas vacation and soft landings into your work this morning!