Yes, I am a parent as well so sometimes, I´ll post about children and parenthood .Playgrounds are a big thing here in Germany.So grateful that we lived in a city where child-friendly spaces are limitless and abundant. But sometimes, as we explore other places, we got lucky as well!
I think playgrounds grows with your child and it´s a vital place for any childhood.Around 500 meters away from where we lived we find a new rows of Kindergarten and Krippe ( Daycare center for small children) and they are building another playground.One small talk over breakfast made me realized that way back in Kuwait, there is a fast food center for every 1 kilometer radius.Name it, a Shawarma, Döner-Kebab stall, Mcdonalds, Pizza Hut, Burger King and not to mention those Arabic Bakalas where they sell local snacks and drinks.
Compared here, there is a playground or Spielplatz every 1 kilometer radius!
Looking for playground is always on our top to do list whenever we are out. I must say that here in Germany, it feel like I am commiting a big sin if I don´t take out my child into a playground. Regardless of the weather, we should head out.There was a time when playgrounds were banned and restricted due to Covid, it´s terrible. Thankfully, we are able to enjoy outdoors now at least.
Going to a playground is an automatic navigator, and in the end, a powerful stress reliever , just like I kknew that it would be a nice day if I had a run in the morning. For parents like me, you know exactly what I mean. Part of our daily walks in time of pandemic is a pit stop in a playground and it would surely make everyone smile.
When we visited Austria the last time, we find this amazing place, Wildpark Ferleiten , a wild park with a petting zoo, a very large playground, trampolines, Go Karts, water play areas and a lot more. Of course there´s a restaurant and a Biergarten as well. It´s located just at the foot base of the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse .
Photos are not enough but my daughter had a blast here, so did we. The weather was perfect and it was not too crowded when we came. Back in those days, no Covid yet so I guess we are worry-free. Made me think if I would be able to feel the same after Covid lockdowns and travel restrictions…
There´s a part of this park that has a direct view of a cascading waterfalls in the middle of a lush forest. It looks so peaceful and yet, the only sound you hear are the screaming joy of children. The petting zoo was properly layed out and following the trail is actually exciting even for adults.
From time to time, I am reminded that here I first saw a real Edelweiß, the national flower of Austria.
“It is a happy talent, to know how to play…” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
This post is actually inspired by recent events in my life. I recently had this painting done inspired by current situations and I thought it might be a good idea to relate it to ” a day in the life of a Mother”. I have done quite a lot of painting to survive the lockdowns and so far, it has taught me great lessons about motherhood as well. Now you know why I love this subject for my artwork.
Maybe not everyone can actually relate to Motherhood subjects and all about Mother and son/daughter stories but then at least it´s our own story. Mother and daughter is not always full of sweet moments, reality can be tough, it can also be stressful, chaotic, tiring, and yes, just too much to handle.
All parents love their children, there´s no question about that but how to teach them to learn without the classroom. For a fact that in Germany, Homeschooling is actually illegal since 1919 ( European Court of Human Rights).But not in the times of Corona.This article even had quite notable explanations.
Homeschooling is not so “cozy” as it sounds. Because of Covid-19 Pandemic, we´ve been through so many Lockdowns, before and after Christmas actually. And now, in the middle of Winter, with zero public life, schools stays closed along with playfrounds and libraries. Lockdown is supposed to end by Feb.14 but there´s no bright lead yet when will our lives return to normal.We are waiting…
I realized that I don´t even have the right to complain.Afterall I only have 1 child. There are more parents who juggles between their dayjobs and household responsibilities, and yes, they are bearing more load than I do.I do have high respect for them. I´ve known a friend who even had twins, and had more children to handle.A dear friend of mine just had her baby recently born, and she also have another Grade schooler, a very active one.She bears all these with her two full hands.How do they do that is simply amazing and praiseworthy!
But imagine the chaos…. the “heartfelt” agony.
Homeoffice seemed to be the newest trend nowadays. Working from home has its own benefits, but hey, have you ever tried working while your kid shouts and screams on your videoconferences? Funny as it may sounds but with us, life and struggle during Lockdown is real. I am sure I am not alone in this.
The moment we sit together in the table to go with Home study program doesn´t eventually ensures success in every subject.There has been fights, screaming, yelling and yes, pencils and papers flown in the air. The drama is real and so as the dilemma. The biggest problem that we faced is maintaining her focus and this has been challenging for both me and my daughter.
When I was in college, I did a part-time job tutoring kids from 6-10 years old. I normally help them with the main subjects and help them with their homework. The stress was different. With this Lockdown, the challenge was different as well.
No I was not blaming the virus. Honestly ,sometimes I blame myself as well. Maybe I was not prepared for this and my patience limit is so small that I excuse myself for a meltdown as well. I am tired and in need of a break but yes–motherhood knows no such breaks.I don´t like this isolation anymore and I wanted it to end.
Anyway,one time while we are learning about the seasons of the year ,we encountered this song ;
” Es war eine Mutter” song by Nena ( originally in German)
Es war eine Mutter ( There was one Mother) Die hatte vier Kinder ( She had 4 children) Den Frühling ( Spring) Den sommer ( Summer ) Den Herbst und den Winter. ( Autumn and Winter)
So motherhood and seasons of the year have one thing in common, right or maybe I just carried away by nature that I correlate them with Homeschooling and everything.The great thing is, life evolves and I was reminded that this too, shall pass and everything should not be permanent.Soon, everything will be over and chapters of our lives will also evolve, in other words, we are in a journey together.
Homeschooling might feel like Autumn and Winter right now.Parents struggled as well as children but then its not the end.Spring soon will come and Summer too.
Der Frühling bringt Blumen ( Spring bring flowers) Der Sommer den Klee (Summer brings clover leaves) Der Herbst bringt die Trauben ( Autumn brings the grapes) Der Winter den Schnee. ( Winter brings snow)
Und wie sie sich schwingen ( and how they swing together) Im Jahresreihn ( all year around) So tanzen und singen ( Dancing and singing) Wir fröhlich darein. ( we are all happy with it..)
Homeschooling and on line learning is something that we´ve all embraced this year.There were more time spent in front of computers and tablets instead of actual class participation.Here in Germany, I must say that they had quite handled the crisis well when it comes to distance learning.My daughter spends almost 8 hours in a mask at school before.Washing their hands and divided in groups were her previous routines, then she was confined at home, with homeschooling and with me. I am grateful that the school had a precise plan for this crisis and have given us enough support that we´ve needed and another thing is, we have an access to technology which can be challenging in other countries.We received a weekly Plan for each lessons, and even with a timetable to achieve every day. There was enough Learning Platform offered and the activities listed are varied ,so children won´t feel bored and too squeezed. I particularly appreciate the online help and daily accountability as well. Some of the apps that helped us go through Homeschooling is Antolin app and Sofatutor.They even have Tablets to lend if families are without so everything comes handy.
Lessons learned and experiences gained, so as struggles were credibly overcame.Yes, we´ve been tired and fatigued, but we´ve never given up.As a mother, teaching my child is like feeding them. Its like nourish or undernourish them.Once again, it´s the choices that we make that affects us the most.We´re not yet there but I am sure, the end of the tunnel is not far behind.
Have you had any experience about Homeschooling? How was it?
One of the highlights of our Summer break this year in the midst of Corona Pandemic is our visit in Legoland Resort Park in Günzburg.It was a looonggg wish by my daughter, she often asked that after she turned 6 years old, she wants to see her beloved Ninjago friends in Legoland.
But because of Corona virus, this trip was postponed many times….
But then, Endlich… FINALLY!
We visited the Legoland Discovery Center in Berlin and for her, it is not enough. She even wants to go to Legoland HQ in Billund! She needed to see a much bigger park and that is why we decided to give it a go. As a gift and before she goes to school, I know she deserved to be here. As a child, she has been a great fan and addicted to playing Lego.She has her Papa´s old Lego blocks and toys so I guess this is really special to her.She has been fanatic as early as 2 years old,playing Duplos, and now more on the complicated ones, like Ninjago and all the Ninjas. She knows every character by heart and all the episodes of the series and film. She is no-princess type of girl and only want Legos, trading cards and ninjago things as gift,nothing, nothing else.
She doesn´t want to wear a skirt, dress or any girly things—but give her Lego t-shirt and costume as she will be so happy!
Driving to Günzburg was easy for us.It took us 1,5 hours from Ingolstadt and we were in time for the 10 a.m opening of the park. I knew and anticipated that it would be packed with children ( and crowds!) since it is still “Sommerferien” here in Germany. Most of Germans stayed in the country ( at least from whom I knew…) during this summer, doing staycation and out of town trips, just like we did.
I have asked few of my friends who went here as well how did it go so I am confident that it is safe to visit the park.And I was not indeed dissapointed….
My daughter had a blast! and so are we..:-)
Visiting Legoland is only possible if you book your tickets ahead of your visit.It follows a very strict Corona restrictions so there are no tickets sold in the entrance. We booked our tickets ahead including parking fee so we are all settled. A great tip, there are many vouchers in the LegoBrochures and Discount offers from Mcdonalds, so make sure to take notice of those to get available discount in your visit to this park.It was quite a pleasure that we got those since entrance fees can be helfty, especially if you go with big groups! There are also available packages including Hotel such as Legoland Feriendorf, and varied Hotels and accomodation within the vicinity so if you want to stay longer exploring the Park, then it could be a great option as well.I knew friends who stayed there for 2 days just for the children to enjoy all rides and taking their time to explore everything!
Don´t forget, this park is so huge…so make sure to dress up depends on the weather, mostly comfortable clothes and shoes. bringing extra clothes for change is also a good idea since some rides involves water and I am sure that you will sweat a lot!
Speaking of Corona control measures, don´t worry. This park has great control measures and I am really impressed by it. Of course you need to wear masks and practice distance of 1,5meters and everything, but the great thing is that they have disinfection station in every play station. Yes, every station is strictly controlled and monitored.Before and after riding the rides or getting into the play areas, visitors are asked to disinfect.You need to wear masks at all areas, even going to restrooms.
Even if it was a day full of visitors, I find it comfortable enough to roam around since most of the times, we are outside. The park is surrounded with shady trees, enough benches and tables to rest and sit for a quick break and most of all—people are disciplined.
With the entrance tickets, you are allowed to ride and explore everthing. So if you really want to try the all, you need to come here early to avoid long lines. Some rides are age restricted and should be accompanied with either 1 parent or adult.
Everwhere we go we see Lego. Built Lego miniatures and play areas are really amazing! As a parent, I find it really awesome that my daughter can enjoy such beautiful things as a child. I am sure that in the end, it will create great memories to her…
There are many highlights of our visit and we ride everything that she fancied.Our favourites so far is the Lego Ninjago World, where we had a close up encounter with the Masters of Spinjitzu and some Ninja tricks. The ride was so awesome that I ended up enjoying it as well.There´s the Lloyd´s Spinjitzu Spinner, Coles Climbing Wall, a playarea for small children, and of course, a Ninja Kitchen!
Fun fact : I have read that even adults play with Lego and it can do miracles on your stress management. My husband always play Lego with my daughter.He grew up with Lego as well and He is basically transferring all his skills and techniques to my daughter. My daughter can now build a big set by herself and its no surprise to me why.
Here in Germany ( prior to Pandemic), Lego is an important piece of Toy and learning tool for toddlers and kids. It is very famous so almost all children recognize it. I only find a place great if it has a small playarea in the corner or a place where children can have time for themselves. In the Doctor´s offices, Libraries, and even public shopping areas, Lego corner is normal.
I am sure that Lego helped my daughter with her motor skills, creativity and problem solving skills, which are all very crucial factors to a developing brains! No doubt, she spends times building and building and everyday, she surprises us with her wonderful, sometimes “weird” fantasy, and whimsical thoughts about Lego. If you asked me, it´s better to be engrossed with Lego, than getting addicted to tablets and videos!
In every ride station, you need to wear your masks while waiting for your turn. We tried the ride where children are taught to ride a small car and earn a Driver´s License.I saw that the operator really disinfects all cars, including seatbelts one by one before another batch of kids takes it again.They are really doing well in taking care of their guests and making sure to avoid contaminations.
Important note is that the atractions are going to close 1Hour before the park closes which is around 7pm. In some days they are closing early so its better to check in the official Legoland website to make sure of your time of visit.If you want to enjoy everything, start from the backside of the park, normally those rides are not so full in the morning since most people flocked near the entrance areas.If you have little children, there is a free “Kinder-finder-Armbänder” so you don´t need to worry that your child will be completely lost if they got away from you.It is very safe inside the park and especially nowdays with Corona, people are more cautious.
What I have learned through the Pandemic is to take care of your family. We may be restricted to travel because of the virus but there are various reasons and ways to enjoy family time.In Legoland, I have families of different nationalities, having fun together with their children, behaving like a child, maybe reliving past childhood experiences as well.
I grew up not having this luxury. As I scan the views before me, I felt just grateful that my child can experience such as these and grow up a happy, healthy and active child. Probably, in most European countries, Lego is 80% part of every child´s fantasy .It becomes a treasured memory for them…
Restaurants and Cafe´s are spread all over the park so no worries about getting hungry.There are plenty of tables and picnic areas where you can eat in peace with your family without the crowds.We enjoyed having lunch with a view of the rides and we really had a great time.
Plenty of playareas and climbing station for kids as well. They have a big payground as well , when children wants to have a break from Lego rides then they can ” rest” here as well. For Mamas & Papas, this is also a perfect place to sit, check their phones and have a drink!
My favourite ride so far was the Pirate ship and Spinjitzu Spinner. Here in the Pirate boat ride, we ride our boats and we spray waters on others. The park was so beautifully designed and even adults enjoyed it so well!
We booked a hotel in the nearby town from Günzburg since we still have to continue or Romantic road trip to Füssen that is why we did not stress on driving back early. But around 4p.m, my daughter is already tired and wanted to check out the lego shop and told us that she had enough of rides.The line for the shop took as about half an hour to enter the store as well. You might consider to set aside an hour here if you plan to do your shopping before departing since most people do their shopping on the time they depart as well.
For me personally, you can enjoy the park the whole day, but not really exhausting yourself and your child. If you came all the way from far places then I am sure, it is worthy to spend couple of days in this place just to make the most of your trip.
After seeing giant Dinosaurs in Dinopark, and nature climbing in Beilngries, this girl is totally , and still very in love with her Lego Ninjago friends!
How was your summer vacation in the midst of Pandemic so far?
If you plan on visiting Legoland, then these important and vital Info might help you plan your trip!
Today is the first day of School here in Bavaria, the southern part of Germany and my daughter finally said Tschüss(Goodbye) to Kindergaten and said “Hallo to her Schultüte”…Sie ist endlich ein Schulkind, finally now that she turned 6, she is finally starting School…
As a parent, this whole new experience is bringing us mixed emotions. Schools are finally reopening—with masks, Abstand ( or distance of min. 1.5 Meters) and strict hygienic concepts and many more other restrictions. For the first time , this is all happening, children are finally back to school, as we also all gone back to work, right on the verge of Corona virus chaos.On the other hand, we are proud parents that our child is having her new milestone, new challenge and definitely making big leaps of growth.But then for the same scary virus, part of me always have this fear and a bag full of worries. Fear of the unknown, because we all know that as long as the virus is still out there, we can never feel safe enough.
But then for most of us, especially in the eyes of the little children…life must go on…
As an Expat mama, I am sharing this special post because here in Germany, I have seen something else. Something unique, something worthy of sharing . Something that I have never seen in my homeland or in any parts of Europe. Here, children starts school with a “Schultüte” or simply a School cone! This is totally German, and every single child here who enters the first grade in school must bring one on his/her first day of school. That is why this day is so special and celebrated !
What is a ” Schultüte” ?
Schultüte is actually a “Zuckertüte” or sweetbag ,or rather cone. A paper cone full of sweet surprises, like a big fat Christmas socks that is stuff with gifts! I have read that Shultüte is an old German tradition way back since 1810. First stories about Schultüte starts in Jena, Leipzig and Dresden so mainly on the Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia areas in Germany.But then nowadays, this nationwide tradition is widely celebrated by all children whoare about to start school in Germany.
The school normally starts on the 1st week of September, right after a long Summer break. On the first day, you will notice that the streets is filled with children (along with their parents) carrying this huge cone and their trendy Schulranzen (Backpacks). That is really a lovely sight to watch. Most of the time, parents are as excited as their kids!
Why German Schulranzen is Unique?
Here in Germany, Backpacks or Schulranzen says it all. I never imagined that Backpacks were that important here.I remember when I was young, many children does not need to have new things for school, but here…forget it, Schulranzen is very important, let alone expensive! Every child needs to have a decent Schulranzen. It´s like their weapon for their next battle.
” But it looks to bulky and heavy…and how can they carry it while riding their bikes? “
Schulranzen is an important matter for every first grade children here in Germany.The backpack must be for functional use, compact, stable ,and will not hurt their backs ! ( Very important!) It is an important factor when buying one is that papers don´t get bent, and snacks dont get squished! Think about German mentality and perfection in every single thing. To give you an idea what children needs on their first grade, take a look at the photos below. This will give you an idea what you need to prepare aside from the Schultüte on the first day of school! This is the list that we´ve got from the School and bought!
With this, you might have an idea that starting school means you will spend probably hundreds and hundreds of Euros, all for a good start.My daughter chose her own design for her Schultüte, which happened to match her Schulranzen.
For me persoally ,the start of school in Germany is quite special. Yesterday we had a simple mass in the church for the first graders to be blessed, and today, they are rewarded with their own Schültute.They have the whole day to enjoy it. Schultüte is filled with many things that brings every 6 year old child loves. Normally it is filled with things that they can use at school like pencils, small stickers, notebooks, or stickers and so much more.It can be filled with small toys, sweets and many other “wished items”. The list are endless.
The thing is, what I love about it is that it really creates that element of excitement and surprise to children.You can really see their eyes get wide full of excitement! My daughter cannot even wait to unpack it all! I think this is very important on their first day in school, a good start is always better than pressure. Instead of directly going to lessons, the children can still enjoy a relaxed first day of school, and of course, enjoying their hard earned sweet threats from their Schultüte.
Here in Germany, months before the school starts, many shops already sells different kinds of Schultüte. You can also make and decorate your own, just like we did. Many schultüte can also be ordered online especially now because of Corona Virus.For us, I just ordered the materials and we did it together with my daughter.
Personalized Schultüte is far by the best!It is far memorable…
Today I have seen that this event is really celebrated by the whole family.Not only parents are present in school but I saw Grandparents and other relatives who were there to celebrate with their child.It is indeed a big thing here.
Starting elementary school in Germany leaves me quite an impression.This is totally non -existent way back in our times where we started Grade 1.I must say that here, it looks like a birthday, or a big family reunion since parents invest so much on this special day. Most parents even take this day as a day off to be with their child on their first day in school.My daughter already spent 3 years in the Kindergarten alone, but then I know, starting school is a big adjustment to her.
Maybe that is why Schultüte signals a new phase–a new life full of surprises!
This day is really a day to remember.In other parts of the world, people are starting school virtually, and online learning is the solution, a safer way to learn. But here in Germany, we are moving slowly to make things normal, but with strict caution, especially to not stop children from getting into school, the real way.Many children I see posed on their first day wearing a headset and in front of a computer, well, I am not against it. In the end, we all want the best for our children…
One of the best thing that happened to us during Corona Lockdown was that my daughter´s painting was selected to be inluded in the Exhibit for ” Kinder Malen sich Selbst” ( Children, paint yourselves!) exhibition in Münich. I am a proud parent of a 5 year old kid that is inclined to arts at a young age as this! I am wondering what am I doing when I was 5 years old?She is really an epitome´ of an international expat kid–born in Kuwait, of Dutch & Asian origins, and raised in Germany and now, she just had her own drawing escapade!
From March, right at the beginning of the Corona virus global outbreak, the Library began to asks children around the world to participate to draw themselves what they feel about Corona.At first it was a virtual collection of drawings of children how do they feel during the tough times of Corona Pandemic then they began to collect the drawings as well.These are gorgeous collection of children´s talent, thoughts, visions, and feelings which travelled from different countries to Germany. This exhibit was arranged by theInternational Youth Library ( Internationale Jugendbibliothek, IJB ) in the Herrenhaus Foyer of Schloss Blutenberg.
Of course I am the most excited for everything! Like an overreacting stage mother, we were all ecstatic to see finally the Exhibit. We are still in Summer break so decided to go to Munich to see it.For my daughter who was only 5 years old when she did the drawing, I think the whole experience was also great.To think that she almost tore away the drawing and I was able to save it. She was so happy to know that her drawing was selected among many others, and it is now displayed there up until September 9,2020. With Corona restrictions, the exhibitions follows strict hygienic controls, with masks and reduction of visitors inside the halls.
From the beginning, Ms. Weber , who was the one coordinating with me of the drawing submission was very kind and helpful. I was even glad that finally I can write an email in English and not in German !Aside from the helpful assistance in the exhibition, we were ushered to see the amazing Libray archives which really took our breath away. The underground cellar beneath the castle courtyard is the place of extensive collection of books from different times, era, period, languages and countries. It is really an international place.No wonder most of the staff are speaking different languages! From the reception in the entrance of the castle, I heard someone speaking in Hindi, and many guests came from Asia, including Japan and Korea. Even the featured children´s stories were of Japanese origins!It is really a great feeling to belong to such a friendly multi-cultural community like this here in Germany. It was nice to see Asian mothers for a change. 🙂
The Library have accumulated a total of 650,000 children & adult books from different times and periods from 240 languages and covering 4 centuries! I think this is the biggest & extensive Library I ahve ever been to. There are so many different ” Mark Twain´s ” books in different versions and languages in one single shelf that I have ever seen in my whole life. I don´t even know where to start.Also, the Library possesed 30,000 volumes of Scholarly Literature and about 130 current subscriptions to specialized literary journals. If you love Literature and children´s books—this is the best place to be!
We were told that the Internationale Jugendbibliothek in Münich is the biggest International Library for Youth and children´s literature in the world! It´s setting is like a fairytale castle—the Schloss Blutenberg.
These 2 paintings draws my attention, one from Iran and one from the Philippines. I am sure these children would love to see their artwork personally as well if given the chance considering the travel restrictions due to Corona. I have read that the Library also grants scholarships to Foreign scholars with the objective of supporting research in the areas of international children and youth´s literature, illustration and promoting scientific exchange and international cooperation.
Aside from the Exhibition, the castle itself and its courtyard is beautiful. Founded in 1949 by a German Journalist, Author and Translator Jella Lepman, this Library has a vision to build bridges for children with books and open windows to the world.
Surrounded with lush greens, lake, and the flowing river makes the castle an idyllic setting.There are different Summer programs , Open Air concerts in the castle´s courtyards and a nice quaint Restaurant with a view of the lake. There was even a wedding in the time of our visit.
We enjoyed the story telling stations, the other exhibitions like the Internationale Wimmelbücher, ” Die Ganze Welt auf einer Seite” ( also collected from different parts of the world!) and the Illustrations of letter Postal envelopes “ Oh wie Bezaubernd Schön !” by the amazing Binette Schroeder. There was huge collection of her illustrated books, objects, mementos,and children toys that are really captivating! My daughter found a little door, I never thought of it as a cabinet! Then she asked me ” Mama, can I open the little door?” .I never thought there was something in there but then to our surprise, there it was…the jewel of the palace, the Binette Schroeder-Kabinett!” There was a little world inside there that captures every child´s heart.
It was a wonderful experience and I am so glad that my kid loves to read and appreciates reading at a young age. It was really a great experience and we will be back for sure to Schloss Blutenberg. I did not expect that during Corona times, we will discover another world of love for reading and children´s literature.
As an expat Mama here in Germany, I certainly commend that we have the opportunity for great Libraries and children´s learning mediums!
Last Sunday we went to the Adventure Kletterpark ( Climbing Obstacle Course) in Beilngries,in the vicinity of Altmühltal.It´s half an hour drive away from Ingolstadt and located in between the lush forest and nature also near to the Dinopark which we visited last Tuesday. Here we celebrate again the 6th birthday of my daughter ,together with her friends from Kindergarten .It came out really a great surprise and fun- filled day for all of us and here´s why;
My daughter is super active and love many fun activities and climbing is definitely her thing. She has no adrenalin limits and no fear of heights at all.She really knows what she wants and climbing with her friends is one of the things she wished for her birthday.They happened to share same Birthday so I think it was a great idea to have one group activity , playdate and fun day all in one!
Because of Corona restrictions, we haven´t made a party for her, a simple cake at home and we headed to see Giant Dinosaurs in Dinopark, then on the weekend we let her enjoy her time with friends. We avoid big crowds, closed spaces and contacts, that is why outdoors in nature is our top choice. This Kletterpark in Beilngriesis great because of its location and offers varied fun activities for all ages . From 6 years of age, they allowed children to climb with assistance of an adult. For security reasons, they only allow people weighing up to 120 kgs max.Even I myself haven´t experienced this in my life, its actually my first time doing Obstacle course nature climbing and it was really cool, plus the Flying fox and everything!
The climbing park offers different Obstacle course for every age and levels of difficulty. Our group consists of 7 children and 6 adults so we stick to the beginner course for a start.The park itself is away from the city and its like a hideaway where we experience nature´s healing and invigorated.The trails are made of steel ropes and cables connected from tree to tree! Everywhere I looked, I see green and more greens so definitely climbing under the cool shade of the trees is a win -win situation. I sweat a lot because of the challenges and obstacles but then its really all worth it!This exercise is really necessary!
Getting lost in the shades of giant trees and forests where man commune with nature and enjoy adrenalin packed activity. I thought it would be an easy task but then I was mistaken! I almost wanted to quit and go back!
We already booked online because its a Birthday party package but then we still need to wait for our turn for the Orientation and Safety instructions.We brought along our helmets and hygienic handgloves as well. It was 30+ degrees when we visited so it was pretty warm, but under the trees is cool. The orientation is about 30 minutes , we gathered wearing masks and we are instructed how to do our special safety equipments such as full harness, helmets, & CouDuo system. the guides were very helpful and professional and the instructions were clear and easy to follow!
In the briefing, we are informed of its 100% safety guarantee, thanks to the CouDuo Pro System.With this system, the freedom of movement is completely retained during climbing. You don´t really need to worry about falling because you are tighly secured to the rope. This is because of the highest safety standard according to DIN EN 15567 and the easy operation of the system. The accidental unhooking of the carabiner is impossible!You can´t really beat a German technology where they make everything efficient and trustworthy!
I think it really needs time to get acquainted and familiar with it.The rest is nothing, your greatest abstacle is finding your balance and conquer your fear of heights!
This briefing is really essential and you are not allowed to climb unless you participated in this security briefing. This is done every half an hour and 2,5 hours before the park closes. If you don´t have helmets and gloves with you, you can also rent but we preffered to bring our own to avoid contact.
After we had the briefing, we get into climbing! We grouped ourselves to assists the kids and then we were lost in adventure. While waiting, the kids also enjoyed twirling and sliding in the playground . Bringing food and beverages is allowed in the park but you need to take care of your own things. So for us, we always made sure that one of us is watching our backpacks and cooler while the others are climbing. After we had eaten, we returned our stuff in the car and go back again to climbing.
The adventures of nature climbing with kids!
This activity really challenges me with fitness and I would absolutely love to do it again. I find the whole adventure very safe and a half day is actually not enough. I find the entrance fees quite pricey but the park itself is really great. There is an ample ( some shaded) parking areas located at the bottom of the park, a clean bathrooms with disinfections and toilets and a separate outdoor areas to book your special events like Children birthday parties or others. Climbing to the top may be a challenge for old people but then you should consider this before booking your activity.
The entire climbing area and the climbing equipment are regularly checked by specially trained staff. In addition, a main inspection of the adventure park takes place once a year. A detailed test is done by a certified external company.
This summer for us is quite special despite the Corona scare and restrictions. Fear of the virus can´t stop us from having safe fun under the sun as long as we observe more precautions about contact and more washing of the hands. I hope that the future still holds a safe and secure place for our kids without the scare of the virus.
I guess we just make the most of the opportunity of having these days with warm rays and sunshine!
I am sure I am not alone in this dilemma.We don´t know yet until when will this all be over, but as long as it is not yet safe outside, children needs to stay at home.Here in Germany, the lockdown measures were relaxed, some shops are allowed to open, wearing mask is enforced, and some schools will open soon next week.But daycares and Kindergarten remains closed. I know personally that staying at home, confined and can´t visit playgrounds and play areas can be tough and is never easy, it is messy, chaotic,sometimes out of control and dramatic. But our times together these days become so meaningful, I guess there´s so much difference when we all take things slowly.
For those who are staying at home with kids during this Pandemic, what have you´ve been doing with your kids lately?
I love to paint and it´s one of my favourite things to do during this lockdown.I think I can paint the whole day and every single day. I just love to create something creative, whether it is with watercolors or Acrylics. Nowadays, I spent more time with my daughter painting, drawing and creating something. I created a journal of my daughter´s drawings so she can have an album of what she created.We even paint stones and joined the creative art here in our neighborhood.Here are some of her doodles and
Another interesting Art exhibition which we are joining is theIsolation, Children Paint yourselves! launched by the International Youth Library Foundation in Munich,Germany .This is an online exhibition of submitted images of children which depics their mood and how they are feeling against this terrible, dire times of Pandemic. I have talked to my daughter many times about Corona virus, especially when we are on the push of frequent hand washing and social distancing. It is very interesting to find and learn from little children about their feelings about isolation and being in restriction .Sometimes they cannot express themselves verbally, but with visuals, we can learn so much more.
The moment that I showed to her that her drawing was in the Gallery, she was thrilled and so happy. She is only 5 years old!
I really find this online exhibition super cool and my daughter is proud of what she have done.It´s amazing to see different entries already from different countries submitted and available in their online portal for public viewing wherever you are. I heard that they have received over 800 drawings from 42 different countries! Some portraits with paintings listed are from Mexico,South Korea,Venezuela,Sweden,Great Britain, Japan, France, Iran, Slovenia,Germany, and even the hard hit countries like USA, Italy and Spain! I think seeing another children´s artwork is also a great tool for encouraging the potential of your child to be creative since they can see it as a relatable issue and not just something to kill boredom. Difficult images of people who are sick and death toll are not easily digested in small children´s mind so we, as parents needs to guide them and be careful of the information we feed them. In this way, let them express themselves through their imagination through their hands, the explosion of colored pencils, paints, crayons and doodles.
Let them be absorbed with ART.
The founder of the International Youth Library, Jella Lepman, had already asked for such self-portraits since 1952 and showed them in an exhibition. By that time, it´s still very difficult to create a digital or online exhibition. Nowadays, it´s all handy and accessible for all, even most museums opened their exhibitions online for others to view while staying at home.If you are interested and want to create something different and has a global impact, start painting, start contributing, and start it now!
If your child is 3 to 13 years of age and wants to participate, you can send your child´s portrait or drawing as a scanned copy (with first name, age and country) to direktion @ ijb. de. The online gallery exhibition can be seen in here.
More artworks and creative Crafts we do while we stay at home during this Pandemic crisis.
Here she is when she finally visits the Exhibition in Münich where her own drawing was chosen!
The exhibition “Kids, draw themselves” ( Malen sich Selbst) is displayed in the International Youth Library in Schloss Blutenberg, from July 15th up to 9th of September 2020, located in Foyer im Herrenhaus and is free entrance fee. The Library is open from Monday to Friday, 10 am to 4 Pm and on weekends from 12 pm to 5pm.
Feel free to share this to your friends!
To all parents out there who are taking care of their kids at home, I salute you. You are doing great and you deserved to have a big hug and pat on the back!
Today marks my 34th day in quarantine at home with my daughter and there´s no greater idea than to celebrate it than creating something creative with her. Oh yes, we count the days because our calendar have gone empty, all the scheduled activities were cancelled because I am sure you know why! The only legal activity we have nowadays is grocery shopping, walking, playing, cooking and cleaning. I´m not gonna lie—it is never easy! Millions times during the day, I am hearing THIS WORD : Maaaaammaaaa!!!!
Sometimes I am wondering if she knows other word than that! Day after day, I go on tidying up, and again tidying up and again tidying up. A pleasant routine indeed.But then…the moment she hugs me and say ” Mama, I want to be good” then everything would feel just fine. 🙂
Sooooo, today we cycled a bit and enjoy again Spring colors outside , breathe in fresh air while the rest of Germans are still sleeping. We stumbled nearby to us a very interesting and engaging art project , and what we love about it is that —we just need rocks! I´m sure that all parents out there with kids at home during this Pandemic are looking for many ideas to entertain their kids at home. So I think this is a perfect activity for families to do on weekends and yes something to ease the boredom!
Keep on reading and scroll down the photos if this interests you.
Aside from unbelievable Corona Balcony parties in my neighborhood, my favorite Germans loves to cycle, walk and wander in small forests ( we called it here Waldwanderung) especially on weekends and Sonntag Rühetag. Taking a quick break outside, parents loved to bring their toddlers , altogether getting lost in the forest with a playground adjacent to it. But because of Corona, playgrounds are closed and we are confined to stay home and practice social distancing. But there is always something else to do, I realized it as I am a parent myself. Right there inside the nearby forest we found this line of colorful, very creative, painted stones.This creative project, called Projekt JAA ( Jugendliche Anonyme Anmaler) where children and also parents are encouraged to paint their own rocks at home and design it as per their own wish , then putting their rocks in the line to join the connection.
Just look at these wonderful stones! Some have even encouraging message like “ Stay healthy, and best wishes..” . My personal favourite is the one with the Buddha and ladybug.
A friend of mine sent me a message about this and immediately we painted our rocks and brought it there. My daughter was delighted to see the names of her friends also there and she even mentioned to invite her other friends! We are looking forward to see how long would this line of rocks would be in the coming months.
You can create this even at your own backyard. If you don´t have one then on your window sill or decorate your balcony. All you need is a handful of rocks, paints and a bag of creativity! For sure it could keep your kid busy for at least an hour and that´s 60 minutes of sanity for parents!
An update, I saw in another nearby area, a kilometer away from us is another painted stone project done by kids. It´s beside the Kindervilla, near the Glacisbrücke going to the direction of the city. Let us see if it even reaches the town proper!
It has been revealed by Internations, and there’s no denying that Germany is probably one of the best place on earth to raise a family. I am a first- time parent and raising my child in a culture totally different from where I grew up with, has been the focal point of our expat move. Of course I know that all parents ,in general, desires the best for their child, and this is the reason why I wanted to share my personal experience why despite of the crazy weather and difficulty to learn the language, I think Germany is a better place to raise a kid and be a child!
You might be surprised, having a child is Germany seems more of a blessing, an enjoyable reason to defray the first-world country problems that weighs every family on a daily basis. With its excellent health benefits and support to parents, both financially & socially, raising a child here can be rewarding!
Raising an Expat child, which has windows to multiculturalism or rather, raising a Third Culture-Kid child in Germany is a privilege . Aside from the extensive leisure activities, safe environment, a more play-based educational system in the early years, every child has their own allowance up until they reached the age of 18.
My three-year old daughter has a monthly income of 192 Euros that goes to our German bank account paid by the German government. So simple as it sounds and yet so generous. When we came to live here in Germany and heard about this, we are extremely happy. Happy in a way that as parents, we all know that every single Euro matters when you are raising a child.Kindergeld is a great help to our family budget.It is granted as a tax refund, primarily to meet the constitutional rule that income is untaxable up to a child’s subsistence level.I am not talking about the amount itself, but as an expatriate parent like me, this amount is really something tangible, with this I can feel that the government “cares” about my child, and to every single child living here.
I am sure that I’m not the only one who is grateful for this. Although it seems to me that this country is an advocate of “Ordnung“( or order) and everything seems to be ruled by rules, I see that hard work really pays off. All taxpaying expatriate residents of Germany are, like Germans, entitled to Kindergeld if they have children. Also called as” Child Benefit“, the German government give all families, expats included, to help defray some of the cost of raising children. It can run from €190 to €221 per child per month, and is usually made by a fund transfer into a German bank account. We all know that raising a child is expensive. From diapers to milk, Kindergarten expenses and other essentials, plus the never-ending cycle of buying toys!
Just about any taxpayer living in Germany with children can get the Kindergeld, whether employed, self-employed or independent. You get it as a rule that until the children turn 18, though it can continue until they are 25 if they are still in school or meet other requirements for an extension.
This amount also varies depending on where region in Germany you are living.
Kindergeld amount 2017 (standard amount):
Child benefit for the first child: 192 Euros per month
Child benefit for the second child: 192 Euros per month
Child benefit for the third child: 198 Euros per month
Child benefit from the fourth child: 223 Euros per month The child benefit amount will be increased by 2 euros per child compared to the end of 2016 for 2017.
If you are a parent and planning to move to Germany or living here and about to have a baby, then this is good news for you! If you’re interested to know more about this, you can check it Here. I will share to you the steps we took for us to avail of this benefit. It was easy, smooth and practical in all sense. The child benefit application must be submitted in writing and signed. Note that all the forms will be in German . Applications may also be submitted by an authorized representative, who must submit a written power of attorney (for example by members of the tax-consulting professions). An oral application, for example by telephone, is not possible
Anmeldung ( Application) – Open to all family members. This is to prove that the family is living in Germany.
Birth Certificate : translations of them if they are not in English / German. If child is born in Germany, a birth certificate is issued separately to apply for Kindergeld, which should be attached in original. We translated my daughter’s Arabic birth certificate into Dutch & German languages because her nationality is Dutch. We also brought along the originals with the attestations showing it was legalized both from the German embassy in Kuwait and the Netherlands embassy there.
Take the Haushaltbescheinigung, and your passport to your local KVR/Rathaus (The place where did you registration/anmeldung)
Officer will verify the form and pay the applicable fee. You will be issued stamped Haushaltbescheinigung.
Put in the envelope:
Antrag auf Kindergeld (filled in)
Residence permit copy (Aufenhaltstitel)
Post it to the office of Familienkasse belonging to the city you live in !
That’s it. You will now get your Kindergeld in 3-4 weeks. Keep the letters from Finanzamt safely for future references.
More than the benefit itself, I am really grateful that my child is growing up in a place where the family oriented lifestyle is very high.When I am writing this post, I am not actually surprised that Germany is considered a great place to raise a child and live abroad. Generally speaking, Germany is an economically strong nation, it’s a hard-working nation, and it’s a nation where the people feel a strong pride in their country. Right from the beginning, from childhood, they feel important !
Back in my home country, we don’t have such things as child benefit. You as a parent is responsible to allot savings for your child. I grew up in a culture where there is an endless pressure on “getting rich” to be able to afford everything, seeing money as an achievement or a social standing. As a child, I don’t have such as this “benefit“. I have other siblings who, along with me, strive for all our needs to be met along with all other basic necessities.
I saw both the joys and misery of raising multiple kids and I realize the effect of poverty and the support from government, or the lack of it. Families with more children struggles to meet both ends.I think that beyond the cost, it is also the reason of advocating Family planning.
Kindergeld is a form of love. There’s so much love for children here in Germany that I cannot sum up in this post. I will try to write more in my next post about this. Anyhow, Children are special gift, with tantrums and all their screaming, and Yes, they deserved to be raised in the best way that we can give to them.
Have you ever had a “child allowance”when you were a child? How did it make you feel?
Milestone Alert : My green Goblin 3-Year old daughter goes to the Kindergarten!
It’s been a while since I’ve written some personal updates about my daughter whom I’ve written a lot about here in “Raising Natalie “. So I thought that after squeezing some quality time with my ever-beloved laptop which always reminds me of my Expat days in Kuwait since it has Arabic characters in the keyboard, I finally managed to put together this post to celebrate my daughter’s first days in Kita ( or German Kindergarten). And yes, I called it celebration, because I think, starting in Kindergarten is a great milestone to celebrate just like a promotion or a raise. After all, it’s a signal for growth. Not only for your kids, but for parents as well! Finally, my Third Culture Kid goes to Kindergarten!
So first, if you are a parent and your child goes to Kindergarten for the very first time, let me give you my warmest congratulations, and say “Well, done!”
I wanted to share our experience how did it go for us with my daughter starting her days in Kita here in Germany. I’ve written before how insane it is here to find a spot for our child to be admitted in the Kita. We literally waited for almost a year! Yes, A YEAR! With almost 10 schools we applied, only 1 responded. Sure thing, as a parent we all have our own preferences for which school we want our children to go, but here and on our case, it’s not just possible. You gotta take what’s given to you. The competition is so tight that you just put your hopes on luck! Anyway, we are grateful for the slot that has been given to us by the local ministry which takes care of these things. It is just in time for my daughter to be readily accepted since she just turned 3 years old last August and her school starts this September.
We ‘re all excited for her! Few weeks before she start, we always talked about Kita to her so she gets familiar with it. When we had our meeting with her teachers, we were asked to prepare the things that she needed like Regenkleidung ( rain clothes) like Matschosen, (which is really a German thing!) a raincoat,rain boots, hat, gym shoes, house shoes and extra pair of clothes(seasonal) just in case she make herself wet or dirty. We brought her some extra diapers just in case, toothpaste, tooth-brush, and her own File folder with her personal identification and a family photo.
Here in Germany, the education system is totally different from where I grew up, or from Kuwait, or in the Netherlands. Here, German focused more on children’s early development through free play, totally opposite from the American system where there is a stress on learning the academics at the very young age! Here, in simple layman’s terms: Kita is a place to play and learn things through play. Social skills are polished by stimulating the child’s development through unstructured modules. They learn things naturally and reading comes later. I never see any alphabet or numbers on the walls. I remember that in Philippines, Kindergarten & pre-schoolers are taught to read and write, paint, count and so forth and there is a reward system. Like if you behave well or achieve something remarkable for a certain activity, there is always the recognition. Remember the stars on the hand? Over here in Deutschland, those things are not the norm. I think I am the only one whose teaching my daughter to write and count!
When her teacher saw that my daughter reads the writings on the bulletin board and the names in their coat racks, she was really surprised! To top it off, I already announced to the teacher that my daughter is the only one who just can’t sit. She is so restless that she always wants to be on the go, running, playing and hyperactive. They saw it on the very first day. I haven’t even had the chance to say a proper goodbye because she already run into the playground and her teacher is running after her! We start with her staying in the Kita from 8 am to 11 am for the first 2-3 days, then gradually increase the times she spent there up to 2pm. On the first day, they asked me to leave after 1 hour and stand by phone to wait for any updates. Around 11 am, I picked up my daughter and felt relieved that she was playing by herself, cried a few times but they were able to calm her. I can see signs that she is ready for Kindergarten but the challenge of Separation and Hunger are two big things she is overcoming slowly, at her own pace.
My daughter is very social and yet uncontrollable especially when she is too absorbed with playing. She’s the explorer type so I know that the hardest part for the teachers to do is to tame her and make her listen. She has a lot of personality and her attitude stands out being the defiant. Oh yes, there were lots of crying, screaming, and defiance on these days and the worst thing is, she doesn’t like to eat or drink during Brotzeit (snack time) or even during lunch. She doesn’t like to be in their group, she refused to stay there in their room and prefer to be in the middle group where she spends her time pretend-playing, and obsessing about dressing up as a nurse and Doctor. By the end of the week, she caught her first virus , also maybe because we are having a terrible rainy-cold-crazy weather these days, so she got severe colds and when I pick her up, she was already warm.
It was not an easy start for us. In fact it gets bumpy at the end of the first week. Nevertheless, during the course of the days up until today, I saw that she made some progress. I was happy today because when I opened her lunch box, only few pieces of cucumber are left, we are making real progress! She sat in the table with her classmates and began eating together.I know there are more challenges to come for her, like sitting in the potty and probably sleeping there, but I trust that my daughter will overcome all these in due time and finally adapt to her new routine.
As for me, I don’t know about you or for other parents how did it go, but I really felt weird during the first day of my daughter in the Kita. Call me crazy, but I felt sad, disoriented ,and a bit out-of touch. I missed my daughter from the moment I left and my heart was crushed during the time I was going out to leave and heard her crying. I asked myself if I am a terrible mother? I can’t imagine that my hyper-active “kleine madchen“(little girl) will be needing me less and less. Its a mixture of happiness for her growth and yet why all these weird feelings inside me!? The separation anxiety is real now!
When it comes to the familiarization phase, it is important to observe and regard the many signs that our children sends out. There is a possibility that children react at a delayed stage (even months later) to an unsuccessful adaptation.
As the winds get chillier, and colder, signalling that Autumn is here and soon everything will be in full Autumn colors once again, my daughter is facing the new chapter of her life ; taking the Big Little Steps in the Kindergarten and we as parents, need to moved on as well. This Familiarisation period ( or Eingewöhnung in Deutsch) might not be easy from the start but I know, soon she will feel secure, safe and comfortable in her new environment. I am relieved that though the teachers barely speaks English, still we found a way to communicate and understand about the matters of her settling-in the Kindergarten.
How about you? How was your own experience when your child goes to Kindergarten for the first time? (If you have a child...)