Big Little Steps : First days in Kita ( German Kindergarten)

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Her smile , its priceless!

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!

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Young, Wild and THREE!

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!

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Ich bin Krankenschwester! ( I am a nurse!)

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.

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Reading books is one way to make her calm.

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.

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First Days in the Kindergarten

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.

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Big Little : First days in the Kindergarten

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...)

What were the struggles you’ve met along the way?

 

 

 

 

 

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Young, Wild & Three !

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Young, Wild and Three Birthday Party!

Would you believe it, my daughter turned THREE last Saturday!

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Water fun !

Yes, my only daughter, is officially  Young, Wild, and now THREE!

For those of you who have been following my Blog and my posts about “Raising Natalie“, you must have been known her one-of-a kind personality, with all of her adventures as an Expat baby born in Kuwait, spent her first year of life in the oil-rich Muslim country, and now creating a free-spirited toddler hood as “kleine mädchen” in Germany.  Time really flies. I can’t stop her from talking now. She’s a talker, runner, and a rolling ball of energy. She’s crazy about books, cars, dinosaurs, doing puzzles for 6 years old, and read. Imagine the chaos, and the fun she brings !

She’s growing up so fast, and surprising us with her witty character everyday!

Here I wanted to share with you how we create a simple “Rainbow party” for her. I didn’t know where did she get the idea of a rainbow party but when I asked her what she wants for her birthday, she kept on saying “Rainbow Cake”! She indeed has a mind of her own!

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Never Stop Dreaming : The Birthday Girl

We invited few of her friends and since its summer, we decided to make a pool party –right there in our garden. I am so glad that the weather came perfect. Sunny, bright, and lots of sun to keep the kids swirling and playing around. They have enough space to run, dip in the waters, and slide.

I am so delighted that here in Germany ( as same as most European countries) , I don’t have the pressure to throw a big party for my daughter. Birthday parties here are surely a real thing— practical, and much more chill. Shared mostly with family and close friends, and without the fuss of grand, expensive details. I can’t even be more happy how it turned out. Everyone had a great time , especially the parents as well. Almost everything that we did were all hand-made, simple and personalized. If you are planning to throw a kid’s party with Rainbow theme, these things might inspire you.

 

Natalie’s 3rd Birthday Party : YOUNG, WILD & THREE!

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Rainbow Cake  I have baked for the Birthday Girl !

The Cake : Colorful as the Rainbow!

We all know it, A child’s  birthday won’t be complete without a cake!

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Rainbow Cake topped with fresh roses

When your 3- year old daughter demands for a rainbow cake topped with flowers, what can a mother do? I managed to re-create my previous recipe of my Rainbow Cake and enhanced it with fresh flowers as a cake topper covered with yummy decadent vanilla buttercream frosting. It turned out so DE-LISH and just the way I like it. Not too sweet, and not too big.

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It’s all in the layers…

Rainbow Theme Decor

I made these simple rainbow backdrop made of Crepe papers, with colorful tied-dyed balloons  which I hung on the wall of our dining area. It’s so colorful, bright and really make the whole room so funky. I put some balloons in the garden as well, and simple backdrop for  the garden table.We laid down a pump boat, baby pool , slide, tent, and scattered lots of toys for the children to play. Another simple trick was just let the  water sprinkler in the garden run for a few minutes, just enough for the children to shriek with glee.

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Rainbow Party decor made from scratch
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Addicting: Home made marshmallow pops!

Rainbow marshmallow pops

This colorful threats were inspired once again by my daughter. She love marshmallows and I have some left over sprinkles  so I thought its a great  for the kids. I dipped them into melted chocolate and decorating options were endless. This one is super simple, colorful, and best of all, yummy!

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Spell delicious!

Fresh  Rainbow vegetable bowl

Cut some yellow, green & red paprika, carrots, cucumber, cherry tomatoes,olives and some home-made dips. Arranged them in a serving plate and that’s it!

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Something fresh…
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Birthday spread

Canapes and finger foods

This one is my favorite and definitely a proven crowd pleaser!

I got the idea from my parent’s in law in Holland from our family dinner last Spring .They were kind enough to send me some tart cups since I cannot find them here in Germany. Diced some cucumber and lettuce, topped with salami, bacon, and salmon. I have made some thousand island dressing and arranged them in a layered platter. Looks so good , delectable and taste good as well. I love to munch on these especially with white wine, beer, cheeses, crackers , pretzels, baguette slices and spanish olives.

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Canapes : always a crowd pleaser

 Rainbow Fruit Skewers

In Philippines, we always have fruit skewers topped with marshmallows and hotdogs. Here in Germany,we opt to make it with only fresh grapes, melons, watermelon, and marshmallows. I brought a couple of dozen of them to one of my friend’s daughter’s birthday party and it was also a hit. You can never go wrong with these.

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Fun hitting the Pinata!

Handmade Pinata

I managed to make a Pinata, also using recycled materials of old boxes, cartons and the crepe papers. My daughter loves fishes so I’ve made a figure of a fish and filled it with some gummy bears, candies and confetti.The children had so much fun hitting the pinata!

 

It was a wonderful day all in all. What makes it even special is that my parents in law once again join us so we had some quality family time. Birthdays in Germany are really something and how I appreciate more the fact that you can really have a children’s party without ruining your budget, stressing yourself and the pressure to give a party better than the others, here, it’s all about enjoyment, relationships, and of course, a time to share good food with love ones.

What is important that my daughter had a blast. She got wonderful gifts and I can see that great memories were created from this occasion. For almost 3 hours, she’s running around in her wet swimsuit, having fun, all smiles, wild and free!

She was totally living a Wild, Young & Three moment!

Until then and off we go to our next milestone next month: First Day in Kindergarten!

 

 

How do you celebrate  your child’s Birthday Party ?

Do you splurge or you prefer the simple celebration?

 

 

 

 

 

 

One for the kiddo : Tiergarten (Nürnberg Zoo)

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My daughter is mesmerized by the azure blue waters and swimming seals inside the Blue Salon 

Do you like going to the zoo?

I didn’t know that once you have a child, you will appreciate the Zoo! Second to  playgrounds, the zoo is a place that we have learned to enjoy with my daughter.

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Entrance to the Blue Salon where you can see face to face the graceful swimming Sea cows or Manatee!

I think I’ve only been to a zoo a few times, I can count them, nothing special, more like an educational trip for school, or when I visited the Kuwait Zoo to kill time . The fondest memory maybe is  when my husband is visiting the Philippines and I decided to take a quick look at the nearby  Manila zoo ( because it’s on our way ) but then, while I was busy with my phone, a bird suddenly drop a bomb on my head. Oh yes, I was completely covered with bird poop! What an amazing zoo experience indeed!

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It was nice to meet you Bears!

Anyway, we finally made it to Tiergarten Nürnberg last weekend. This is the first zoological Park that I’ve seen here in Germany.  Last Spring, my daughter had a blast in the Petting zoo inside the Keukenhof Gardens and she can’t wait to see much more. She’s very into animals and she knows each of them by heart, both in English  and Deutsch! From the central station in Nürnberg, we took the Tram # 5 going to Tiergarten and within 10 minutes, we are at the gate of the zoo.It was only 9:30 in the morning and yet the zoo started to get crowded. We decided to come early since she will have her  midday nap and I know she can be a handful when she is cranky.

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Tropical flowers adorn the tropical Manatee house inside the zoo

 

Nothing but nature 

The moment we stepped inside the zoo, I was amazed by how green it is. So many trees and its like walking in a wild jungle park. We had lots of walking to do inside so shades from trees are a heaven! I love that the park has a natural lay out inspired by nature and the animals are kept as in their natural habitat as possible. The zoo was well-kept, maintained, clean, and easy to navigate.

I love walking into their Tropical forest  ( Manatee House) where its a replica of a tropical jungle where you can observe the Manatees  ( Sea Cows ) swimming under your feet.They are sooo huge and seeing them under your feet is a bit creepy. It’s a first time for me to see such animal. I even saw some plants that only grows in tropical climate like what the Philippines have. So many mature stock of trees, idyllic mixed woods and natural landscapes make this zoo one of the most beautiful zoos in Europe, at least from my own impression. Exotic animals live in harmony right next to a range of local bird species and mammals, and the craggy sandstone rock formations make generous natural enclosures for many animals where they can climb and relax.

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Watching the Giraffes having their breakfast
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A camera-shy Zebras

Now I understand why they say that whoever has experienced the wide variety and idylls of Nuremberg Zoo will come back again. The elegant movements of the dolphins and sea lions in the dolphin lagoon, the tropical atmosphere in the manatee house and the feeding of the polar bears in the Aqua Park provide an unforgettable experience.Compared to the Sea Life in Munich where we see more varieties of sea life animals but then it was  in a close area and a bit claustrophobic for me.

As expected, my daughter enjoyed watching all the animals. Too bad that we didn’t have the chance to see all the others and the rest of the zoo. It is a spacious zoo, built on top of a hill, with lots of areas to wander,  so it means lots of climbing. We went to each animal’s places but they seemed to be hiding in their cribs. Maybe its the heat? or napping? I don’t really know why but I find it rather disappointing especially when we are all excited to see the Lion’s den. All we found in the cages are the meat. On the other hand, the Zoo was so large that I don’t have the energy anymore to explore it and see it all. My daughter starts to get cranky and needed to recharge.

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A bird sitting on its nest

 

A lovely Surprise : The Aqua Park and the Manatee House

We chose to go to Nürnberg zoo because we wanted to see the Dolphin and Sea Lion show, and that is something that we really enjoyed. The show runs simulatenously with   feeding times at 11 a.m , 2 p.m and 3:30 p.m . .The open area has wooden benches where viewers can have a full-vista of the show. I must say that the training for the dolphins & seals are incredible and that was one great show! Nuremberg Zoo is very well-known for its sea cows, the manatees and the Dolphin show.  In the Manatee House, these gentle giants can be observed under water. The generous dimensions of the tropical house provide a colourful and diverse environment for sloths, turtles, butterflies, monkeys and numerous tropical plants. Beavers, otters, penguins, sea lions and polar bears are also at home in the Aqua Park, an extensive water landscape interrupted by a variety of small islands.

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A very lively Dolphin show !

You need an ample amount of time to explore and see all 3,295 animals from 292 species that can be seen at the Zoo. Yes, that is a LOT. I read that the zoo moved from the Dutzendteich to Schmausenbuck to make way for the Nazi Party Rally Grounds and during World War II, more than 90 % of the facility was damaged, actually Nuremberg was heavily bombed during the war. I am glad that we were able to see the  Dolphin lagoon and show which is actually the first outdoor lagoon for dolphins and sea lions in Germany. Good thing to know as well that the Nuremberg Zoo participates in 46 international breeding programs and is a partner zoo of the Species Conservation Foundation.

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Dolphin Show

 

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Amazing Dolphin performance!
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Beer garden inside the Zoo

We took our break and had lunch in one of the Beer garden up in the hill. It has a play area beside it so while waiting for our food, my daughter was running up and down again. I find the food simple, nothing special but its a great place to have a breather from walking.

 

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Souvenir shop for the little ones.

There are many souvenir shops, restaurants and adequate bathrooms inside the zoo so I find it really convenient. We got a cute camel souvenir with engravings since it reminds us of the stuff toy we’ve got in the Scientific Center in Kuwait.

If you have an active kids like I do, I highly recommend to check out this place. It’s for all members of the family and a great way to spend the weekend, but like I said, just be prepared to walk and walk.

 

For Admission Fees, you can find more information Here .

Other highlights of a day trip in  Nürnberg :

The Ehekarussell or the Bitter Sweet Marriage Fountain

Kaiserburg ( Imperial Palace)

 

How to find a Kita for your child in Germany | Expat Guide

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Tender beginnings for the  little ones 

Guys, after almost 9 months of waiting, finally, we got a spot for my daughter in a Kita here in Germany!!! 

I know, I know, I heard you, you might say that this is such a normal thing,no big deal, but hey NO! not here in Germany. Believe me, once you got a spot in the Kindergarten or Kita for your child here, you’ve got to be jumping for joy and saying thanks all over again. Because I am telling you, It’s not EASY. It was never EASY.

Okay, maybe I am overreacting, but yes, it is quite a relief when we got the letter from the municipality informing us that my daughter was selected to join a Kita this coming September.It was a long wait and therefore we loooove this  news. A new chapter for my child’s life, and as well as for us parents. Finally,an end to long days and months of waiting.Of course, as a disclaimer, this is purely based on my experience. Maybe someone got so lucky that they immediately find a place for their child in Kita, a case to case basis. But I observed this phenomenon for long months now and therefore have established my opinion about the complicated system for childcare and Kindergarten schools especially here in our area in Bavaria, southern part of Germany.

So how did we got the spot? What techniques did we do?

If you are an Expat parent like me, I am so sure that the moment you moved into a new country and you’ve started to explore your new neighborhood for parks and playgrounds, the next thing you want to establish is joining a playgroup, Nursery, childcare or a Kita /Kindergarten for your little ones especially if you are a working Mama. It is very important to get a support group for your children. This is one of the natural ways in “re-potting the uprooted child”.

“So here’s the truth: Getting a spot in the Kita/Kindergarten for your child here in Germany REALLY ONLY depends on LUCK, or in logical terms-written in the stars, destiny, or some may call it fate, or your blessing!”

What you need to do as a parent ? Here are practical ways ( which I did!) on the course of our application for Kita in a span of almost 9 months;

  1. Do your research. –  I don’t speak German yet but I did a lot of research even prior to arriving here in Bavaria. I made a list from the schools which I saw online even while I was still in Kuwait and then mapped their location once we got here. Depending on the area where you live, find as many Kita that you can in your vicinity. If you apply for 2, the chance is almost zero, but if you apply for at least 8-10, then at least you can have a chance. For complete listings of Kita per area, you can always refer to the information provided online by your local municipality or ask from the Rathaus. For residents in Ingolstadt, there are so many information provided by Stadt Ingolstadt and there is a department who is really in charge of finding a space for every child to be put into a Kita/Kindergarten.There are persons there which main job is this; helping you get that slot for your child ( Freie Plätze in Kindertageseinrichtungen).

 

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My Pre-schooler tiny Goblin

2. Explore and visit the Kita/ Kindergarten in your Area – You need to be out and find the location of the school. As soon as we have the list, we started walking and exploring and visiting the school one by one. It is always good to personally inquire from the staff for any vacancy.

3. Write a formal “Anmeldebogen” ( Application) in Deutsch ( German) and send by post or email– This one is very effective, at least it works for me. Most of the staff I’ve talked via phone always told me that they don’t speak much English so when they read my letter and my inquiry written in Deutsch, I got concrete answers, even quick replies.

4. Follow Up. Every single Month. If you are forceful like me-make phonecalls  to ask for progress. Take time to follow-up. Sometimes, there might be a chance that someone left the Kita or moved away so a vacant space is available. The Kita that we’ve got is the one we’ve got on the opening day and not the first one we’ve applied or visited.Also, take note that depending on your area, you are most likely to get a spot on the place where your local address is linked to.

5.Attend the Opening Day – All Kitas and Kindergartens have an opening day held during the month of January where you can write the application once again for your child at the same time take a tour of the facilities of the school and their profile. This is very important. They have an announcement on this on their websites so pay attention for updates and changes of dates.

In the Kita, it compose normally of 2-3 groups, with around 25 children.During the opening day, I have asked the teachers what are their criteria in choosing a child to be in their Kita and here’s the information I’ve got :

  1. Parent’s status – If both parents are working, single mother/father .
  2. Location of residence, and if you work on certain companies ( like Audi , Schanzer etc.) then you can have some benefits or privileges.
  3. Language of the child/ spoken at home and the age of the child.
  4. Decision by the Municipality ( Department for Children and Families – Kitaplatzkoordinator)

With all these, all you can do is wait for a confirmation from any one of the school that you’ve applied, and nobody knows when will it be.They will give out confirmation around March and have the meeting with parents of the children who were chosen by month of June to prepare them for the  start of semester in September.

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Repotting the Uprooted child

So what are your options if you can’t find a place for your child?

Today, kindergartens here in Germany are an integral, yet voluntary, part of the early education system: Over 80% of all children between three and six years attend a kindergarten in Germany. The state supports parents with monetary incentives, such as tax reductions and child allowance (Kindergeld). The basic concept of Kitas and Kindergarten here are all “play based”, which is totally opposite from the American and English system which has more emphasis on academics. Now, I have written before how kid-friendly Germany is and how it is more AWESOME to be a kid living here. But then have a shortage of Kita really sucks!

Generally, in every area, there’s plenty of Kindergarten to choose from but it seems that it’s still not enough to accommodate the number of children who needs to be enrolled, add the fact the number of migrant’s children and the booming Expat population, especially in big cities like Berlin, Hamburg or in Munich.The staff have always told us that the waiting list is too much and “kein frei platz “( or no vacant space) .Even if there are many options for parents on where to put their child, the competition is still tight.

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Eager to learn..

Here are the childcare options for children ( 3 months up to 6 years old) here in Germany ;

Tagesmutter  ( or Day mother) – yes, you can hire a “Mother“in Germany. The Tagesmutter takes care of 3-5 children in her home, like a small daycare. Tagesmutter take care of your child in their home while you go to work. In most cases they care for additional children as well, so your child is guaranteed to have contact with peers.A Tagesmutter needs to be certified by the youth welfare office and most of them have a Pedagogy background and have a great experience with children.

Nannies-  are also an option in Germany. In contrast to in-home daycare providers, nannies come to your home to care for your child. In-home daycare providers and nannies are not required to be trained early childhood educators.  For a 20-hour week, in-home daycare providers charge an average of 300 to 600 euros per month.

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The long wait is over…

Here in Ingolstadt, in South Germany ( Bavaria) , you can contact the Mobile Familie e.V if you are interested for alternative options. There are equivalent of these services depending in the area where you live.They have the following services available all throughout Germany:

  1. Tagespflege (Daycare)
  2.  Kibeno ( Childcare Emergency Call)- supports parents in emergency situations where a caregiver is needed for the child / child at short notice.
  3. Kinderfrau – ( Childminder) -A childminder regularly takes care of the children in the parents’ household over a longer period of time. The Kinderfrau is employed by the parents.
  4. Au-Pair ( Nanny/Governess) – An au pair lives with a family, supports them mainly with the care of the children and helps in the household.
  5. Notmutter – (Emergency Mother) -An emergency mother takes care of the children of a family in emergency situations, especially when the mother is ill.
  6. Babysitters 

I hope the above information have helped you in a way to have an idea how it goes here when it comes to applying for a Kita/ Kindergarten for your child.

If you have more questions, please feel free to give comments or share your own experience for your child.

For Expat Mamas and Papas who are in this stage, good luck with your application !

 

One at A Time : Lesson from the Daffodils

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Yellow Daffodils from our garden

“She turned to the sunlight and shook her yellow head..and whisper to her neighbor, Winter is dead…”

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Dancing Daffodils : Standing yellow and proud. The brave soul who was not afraid to bloom despite the ugliness around her.

I know from the early signs of Spring that it can’t be far behind if there are Daffodils and today, my heart is filled with warm thoughts seeing the mass of Daffodils in our garden,  in full bloom. There are still so many bulbs sprouting from the other bed.This is a new sight for me, since its also my first time to experience Spring here in Germany. Excuse my delight, but yes,I love these pretty yellow thing! What about you?

Nature always have a way to remind me that I am now living in seasons. That just like any wild flower,I must allow myself to grow in all the places  that I never thought to be.My sight seems to have the ability to meet my every day need with effortless perfection. I find that when life gets to be too much heavy and everyday troubles bubble up and over, a time to relax the mind  is much-needed, accompanied by a walk in the fresh air, can in an instant, calm…no matter what the season.

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The first bloom of Daffodils from our garden  brighten up our home.

To tell you, I think there’s just something about Spring. I remember months ago, I planted some bulbs in the garden. I’m no experience gardener but I hoped that it will grow , and hopefully, bloom. After the snow melted from our garden and I saw the budding sprouts pushed themselves slowly, their baby leaves are winding up, greeting the warm sunshine.

I thought it will never come out. I almost give up.

But then one bulb sprout after one another, one at a time.

Two months ago,  I was heavily  burdened with anxiety, with a deep anguish. My feeling like the gloominess of cold winter.As a parent, I don’t know what to do. My daughter have a speech delay and did not say a thing or two in her 2.5 years. Whenever people would ask me if she is talking already, I don’t know anymore what to say. I was in the brink of having her checked-up and getting a professional opinion. She is one happy, very active fireball of energy, a tiny Goblin. She is so active and yet, when it comes to talking, she was lagging behind. The thing is, she perfectly understands English & Deutsch, follows instructions in both language, but no talking. My friends say that for children who were born with multiple languages surrounding them, speech can come late. I used to believe in this too.

But the anxiety continues.It robs my joy every single day. I kept on asking why…and When?

Two weeks ago, she surprised me and my husband when all of a sudden, she just blurted out “Mama“! I couldn’t believe it! Did she just say whaaattt? Then “Papa“follows, and many other words, she sings and reads the alphabet now bilingually, recites the numbers, even perfected the spelling for her favorite animals and colors. Her favorite word so far is “Rot” ( German for Red) . Her vocabulary has grown so much in a span of 2 weeks. I find it so great when she replies now whenever I am asking her simple questions.

I have learned so much from this experience.As a parent, it humbled me knowing that I almost lost my faith in my child.That I need to wait patiently. Raising a child indeed comes One at a time.

Happiness came in when I witnessed this milestone in my daughter’s life.There have been millions of times we have sung the same song, read dozens of books, and talking day after day. But then,milestones doesn’t come in an instant. It’s always One at a Time, one baby steps at A Time.

Spring will come and so will Happiness.

So I’m holding on. I know life will get warmer. The yellow Daffodils in my garden  reminded me to keep the faith. Just as their petals turned up towards the sun, I need to move toward my goal and desires one step at a time-often just baby steps and learning to use the accumulation of time.That when we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things.

My daughter is talking now. Talking too much. It’s music to my ears.

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The Daffodils in my garden are dancing. Swinging when the wind blows.

Fresh beginnings.

New life.

Rebirth.

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Who could ever imagine that out of these wild flower comes a great wisdom.

The Daffodils and other wild flowers, the delicate, intricate, unassuming flowers. Especially the early spring flowers who find themselves among the first to brave the unstable elements. The ones who have the quiet strength to weather the cold winds and last few spits of icy snow as they tenderly open themselves for all to admire.

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No matter what you ask of the Daffodil, it will still wait until Spring to bloom. From this I learned we all open up when the time is right…

Do you like Daffodils?

What do you look forward this coming Spring? Share your comments below.

 

 

Postcards from Kuwait | Atop

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The cityscape of Kuwait on a clear ( dust-free) day .

Before we left Kuwait last year, we were fortunate enough to visit the Kuwait towers.This is a must-thing to do  for us since we don’t know if we would ever set our foot back in this place ever again.It’s several times already for me, a first time for my husband and my daughter. Luckily, it’s just in time for its re-opening after long years of being closed for renovation.This time, I’m more excited for my daughter to be on top of the towers and enjoy the cityscape of Kuwait.

Did I ever feel the heat up in the Kuwait Towers? No, not really. The temperature was good from this altitude and there’s Air Conditioning of course!

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On top of the 2nd spherical dome of Kuwait.

Now a 2-year old have no idea of what’s up there on top.If she love the views, I don’t know but obviously,she’s more interested in walking through the revolving deck and licking the railings.At this point, she doesn’t have any remembrance of this experience yet,but once she grow up, she can see her photos of herself being on top of the most important landmark in Kuwait, her birthplace.A place that she spent her first year of life. This place would always be special for all of us,  and to her.

The view of the Arabian Gulf from above is stunning, the promising skyline of the skyscrapers in Kuwait namely the Al Hamra Tower, the Kipco, Al Tijaria,Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) and others provides a fascinating vista on a clear, haze-free day. The typical  beige urban areas, the nature-less landscape, the tempting Aqua park beneath the towers, and the hustle and bustle of the Gulf road. These things make this area very prominent and touristic attraction.

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Up above, there’s a reflective wall where you can see yourself in a twisted panoramic view. We had fun playing with photos. It looks surreal, like a myriad of reflective glass. This is one of my favorite photos taken here. For me, It’s so different to see this place because my focus is on my daughter. I felt like it had a different meaning for me , regardless of the same scenic views I’m seeing. Like a tower, we’ve managed to overcome our struggles here, sandstorms, the heat and all. We’ve been through ups and downs in our life spent here but in the end, we surpassed it all.Now, these views are all nostalgic memories, a beautiful postcard.

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It’s not hot up in here, Mama !

As for my little Goblin, she’s only 2 but she have collected so many postcards from the top countless times already.She love all the fast elevators and steep views from all her journeys.From hanging out in the highest Rock museum in theMunich Olympic Tower, climbing the Austrian Alps, even napping through the cable cars above and marveled the beauty of the Zugspitze-Arena in Austria, enjoyed the fairy tale journey into the steep magical Burg Eltz castle, making a mess inside the Windmills, learned to step in the steep, claustrophobic Cubic houses and exploring the old ruins of castles along the river Moselle.

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Looking up to the three dominant features of this Tower.

She’s not even three and she have these views already! She have been to places before she even learned how to talk…

As for us, we continue to collect postcards, be it from the top or seen from the grounds.

 

Loved this post? If so, please follow me on Instagram to see more photos like this.

Post inspired by DP Photo Challenge | Atop

Fasching and Kinderball

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My daughter in her first experience of Kinderball 

Did you know that Germany has a version of Mardi Gras?

It’s called Fasching, Karneval, or Fastnacht  which all refer to the pre-Lent season, locally known as Faschingzeit and also referred to as the Fifth Season, mostly in German-speaking countries.  These celebrations date back hundreds of years, rooted in both Catholic and early Germanic traditions.

I notice this from mid- January, when all shops changed their displays from Christmas theme  into a wide, colorful arrays of costumes for young and old, masks, and various kinds of dress-up materials. And no– this is not Halloween.

Although there are carnival observances all across Bavaria, it should be noted that Fasching customs vary from place to place. Franconia (northern Bavaria) is where most of the action happens, but the capital city of Munich (München) has one of the largest Fasching fests in Bavaria – although the Sunday Fasching parade in Würzburg is Bavaria’s biggest. After the crowning of the Fasching prince and princess (das Faschingsprinzenpaar) in mid-January, everyone prepares for the start of carnival in the week before Ash Wednesday.

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Faschingzeit in Germany

Here, Fasching is not that big compared to the ones in the neighboring regions. Most clubs have a Fasching party but I don’t know how does it looked like since I have never been into one. We don’t have those big parades and street party. But they have this big event for the Little ones, where kids and the kids at heart enjoy the festive and cozy dress-up celebration. Kinderball is an event organized by Narrwalla, where kids and their parents are all dressed up in all different costumes. Most of them also have a Fasching event in their Kita and Kindergartens.

 

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Kinderball 2017

If you’re a parent, this kind of event is something that you would want to bring your child to enjoy hours of concert, singing, dancing, entertainment, and socializing. The kids jumped happily and more, interested to see the tricks played by the clowns, the light show, and of course there’s the Fasching songs that makes it so exciting. My Little Pumpkin surely loved this event.

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My Little Pumpkin 

The locals dressed up seriously and it’s obvious that they really enjoy it. Fortunately, it falls on Sunday so most families are there. I originally planned to dress up my daughter in a princess but she keeps on eating the sleeves so I decided to changed it into a Pumpkin where she personally choose. There was a service from the restaurant so Fasching food and drinks flooded the tables.There were cold cuts, sandwiches, different cakes, ice cream, potatoes, sausages and much more.

There’s a nice gallery posted online about this event. You can check it out Here.

What is your favorite costume to dress-up?

 

Light & Shadow play

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My daughter enjoying her shadows  and experimenting with Light and Shadow play

When you have a toddler to entertain, you just got to be creative. And when you have enough sunlight even indoors, you’ve got to soak your toddler in it! That is why I love Light & Shadow play concept for kids. It is just a great tool for creative learning for young, curious minds like my daughter.

One of the things that we have an abundance back then  in Kuwait is the SUN.Yes, too much sun that when I came here in Europe, I find that the skies are always gray and I get a mood boost when I see its sunny. In Kuwait, we were lucky enough to have a bedroom with a sea view. The big windows allows some great amount of sun to penetrates into our room and many times, I would put my daughter to enjoy the sun and  let it create playful shadows on her. She loves it! One of my favorite captures of her is when she was playing inside a laundry basket and the shadows from the sun creates a mask of circular golden tan on her baby skin. She was just  about 7 months here. So young, so free, so playful, and so curious.

 

One of toddler’s fears are their shadows. I have heard of stories where in young children are terrified when they have learned about their shadows. The moment I put my daughter inside the basket, it was amazing! She become so engrossed with the patterns in her skin, pinching it, touching it while it changes when she moves.

In summer in Kuwait, where in the temperature could reached up to 50+ degrees C, there is no way  your babies can enjoy the outdoors. The sun can already be scorching at around 5 am so we go to the beach at early mornings or late in the afternoon in weekends. I guess when you’ve lived in the middle east, you would have a fair share of knowledge why people wear the Abaya & the Dishdasha. It is really for functional reasons. Instead of agonizing with the heat and the sun, why not embrace the fun you can get from it, plus, nobody complains that you can actually dry your laundry within 5 minutes!

 

This post is in response in this week’s DP Photo Challenge |Shadow

Active toddlers : Taming the tiny Goblin

 

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My 2-year-old daughter is a  hyper-active Goblin.

Let me define to you what hyper active means in a toddler-friendly vocabulary.

Not that she’s medically diagnosed with hyper activity disorder type— NO, she’s just super active.She has this thing like a green-blue-yellow-purple goblin inside her that makes her moves so fast, so lithe, always on the go and full of energy. She’s a picture of  curiosity,touching, exploring, wiggling, running, climbing hyper-type of toddler. An active fireball monkey disguised in an angelic face. I remember so well that when I was pregnant with her, I always hide my bump in my desk at work because she makes my bump looks like there is an alien about to pop.  She gets hard numerous times in a day and my bump looks scary. Maybe that’s the reason why she’s in transverse position and  did not rotate even though I was induced for labor for almost 3 days!

She started cruising early , learned to walk at 10.5 months I think, and already attempting to run. She climb out of her crib and fell once so we immediately switched her crib  into a bed. Back then in Kuwait, we live in the 7th floor, she loves to climb the flight of stairs by herself automatically. I know that she’s a climber when at 11 months,she mastered climbing the steep Dutch stairs.

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I thought only boys are active. I am mistaken. What I read online was a LIE.

My little girl has the stamina, speed and enthusiasm of a toddler-athlete. Always on the go.She runs everywhere.She can’t sit still for longer than a minute especially during feeding so a high chair for us is a must, but not too long.Later on, I saw her standing on her chair, she managed to remove the strap, I don’t know how, but she did it. She runs like crazy the moment I let go of her hand and start looking into my purse for my keys. I dropped my iphone three times already and changed the screen because of panic that she might be ran-over by a car or that she bump into something. She can dance and jump in muddy puddles the entire day and still jumps around once we get inside the house.

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Whenever we are out, I am always doing ‘the check’.  I  look out for doors that can she can open, handles that she can turn, open stairs, glass doors, and especially breakable, fragile items she can run into. As of this stage, it would be a disaster if I go grocery shopping without a stroller, alone. I am afraid that I might pay for damages for broken things. In a restaurant, my eyes scanned the area for any possible  danger zones, or things that she might find ‘interesting’, like a table already set-up with knives and cutlery. She can easily get loose if nobody’s watching her. One time I caught her licking the knife!

 

My real definition of horror: She managed to run so fast while I am closing the door while we need to get into the elevator in our building. She’s on  top of the stairs, scaring the horror  out of her already-half-traumatized mother. I screamed so loud and  cut my lips when I tripped myself running like amok  to grab her before she make the next move. I was shaking after that incident and never leave her loose in the hallways. EVER. Not again!

The moment you take a walk with her, she zoom like a fireball, cruising like a maniac and touching everything that goes on her way.  Leaves, walls, garage doors, trees, plants–anything.We have a garden but when I let her play there, she  climbs the gate leading to the main side street and crawl to the holes in the hedges where the cats go. She’s a pure genius! She can even roll the lawnmower If i will just let her. She loves anything that wiggles, ran after a dog, and count all the cars in our neighborhood plus I need to say the color of each cars.

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Breaking-Free!!!

She climbed out from her crib at around 9 months, you see that photo above, yes, that’s her trying to do acrobat stunts, testing how sturdy her crib was, or was she looking for her Poo bear that fell out. She has a very strong grip of things that she stayed in this position for a minute I think. One time  that I let her be alone, she’s already on top of the table, dancing, and playing with the roller shutters.

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Going into a friend’s house can be a daunting experience, especially if they don’t have kids like her or they don’t know my daughter’s personality. Our decors and furniture now were set to minimal. Nowadays, we can only eat in peace out in a restaurant if there is a play area nearby. Nearby means it’s beside our table–that is why we love dining out in our local restaurant here that has a play area, like for example in Dinea in Galleria, or doing some shopping in DM where in they have a play area right inside the shop. Total lifesaver!

Honestly, I love to but I don’t really feel comfortable leaving her to be watched (even for a short time) by anyone who doesn’t know her REALLY  well. Even friends who we regularly see don’t necessarily realize the speed at which my daughter can do, and how quickly she can get herself into precarious situations due to attempts at climbing,  investigating, or get herself drowned because she wanted to dive right into every fountain she sees.

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We’ve enrolled her in a dancing class and guess who becomes famous the very first day? Yup! She doesn’t need introduction because everyone knows her name in an instant. We became the center of attention from other parents and kids because we ‘make the best  moves ‘ all the time!

Does this sounds like your kid too ?

If this looks like your tot,  here are some practical things we do to handle the worries and anxieties and embracing the energy of my  hyper attached tiny Goblin. I realized that not all mothers do the “check”as I did, only those parents with an active child. So here it is:

  1. Treat your child like a dog! – We  make it a point that she goes out at least an hour everyday and let her loose in a place where in she can climb, run like crazy and just burn her energy. This way, she can sleep fast because her energy is depleted.
  2. Avoid putting yourself and your child to uncomfortable situations– Make playgroups outdoors, as much as possible in places where your child can have more freedom of spaces where she can be herself without damaging yourself and your child be branded as ‘misbehaving’. I try not to bring her to functions where in there is limited activity or crowded places that she might easily get bored and create scenes. I am so thankful that here in Germany, we have play grounds ( Spielplatz )  in almost every corner. We avoid libraries and crowded malls.
  3. Choose activities which feeds her curiosity and the ones you can comfortably handle – We are engaging in Creative Dancing Class or Tanzmaus. Here in Germany, there are so many activities that are suitable for active kids to satisfy their energy such as gymnastics, swimming etc.Find one that suits your schedule best.
  4. Embrace the positive side of being an active child – Her hyper activity makes her personality so different, so unique and special.She is the perfect companion in my Wandertags. She loves nature and being out so you can count on her being out for longer hours. Give her a box of Duplos, Legos , wooden blocks, and books and even by that she can still rock! I can’t count numerous times that we got comments from strangers on her being so friendly and sweet, she could be active, but she’s not the annoying-agressive type.
  5. Remind yourself that toddler stage is temporary – Every child will outgrow toddlerhood . Eventually, you won’t be running after your child anymore. You will realize that time flies so fast that your adorable munchkin no longer asks for your company and becomes independent. I know things will change for her this year that she’ll be in Kindergarten soon and she’ll have more educational  and social interactions.

My life with my active toddler had been a roller-coaster ride for the past 2 years. Our long haul flights together are as unforgettable as it could be and she is such a jet-setter! I know that it’s still early years of her toddler life, but the wisdom of just being around such a positive energy  is both challenging, yet the most fascinating joys of motherhood.

Have you ever been around with active kids?

 

Photos in this post are from my Instagram feed. If you’re on Instagram, follow me for more Expat life stories ! Thank you and see you there!

 

 

Throwing stones and your worries

Why is it so fun throwing stones into the water?

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The water glistened like diamonds against the sun.

Throwing stones into the river – a toddler’s perfect, guilt free way of destruction. A harmless way of destroying something without any permanence…

Yesterday was another lovely, peaceful day, of course its ruhetag (rest day) here in Germany so naturally, everything comes in a slow pace. So unlikely from the routine that I got used to in Kuwait that Sunday is the start of the week. I love Sundays here because If I am lucky, my daughter lets me sleep in a bit, at least until 7 am. After breakfast and doing some much-needed chores, we decided to take the toddler a spin and have a walk. In Germany, all shops are closed on Sundays so the only place to go is nature. The weather was nice, and the sky is clear  so we walked into the woods. The snow have melted and the paths are all muddy-ice and it was really difficult to push the stroller, good thing I wore my hiking boots. We came to the river banks and have a pit-stop. The view was so beautiful and refreshing. The calm waters, glistening like diamonds, the silhouette of winter flowers and moss-filled branches of bare trees against the sun, almost kissing the waters. I gather some stones and started throwing it into the river. My husband followed along and brought my daughter. For the first time, she was able to start throwing stones into the water. It’s like magic, her laughter filled the air. The splash of waters, her fidgety moves while gripping the stones from her bulky mittens, she was having so much fun!

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Choose the block, a heavy burden or stone in your life that you want to throw away.

‘Seems like we  never outgrown the habit of throwing stones into any bodies of water…’

I am an adult and I still love throwing stones into the river, ponds, beaches, creeks, and even to any body of water that is near to me. The urge is there, as always. It’s automatic once I see any water. I find it very entertaining.

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The art of throwing stones into the water , the art of letting go.

Throwing stones is perfect, soul saving interaction with nature. Pattern making is built into the human psyche. If we see something beautiful, we want to participate in it without tearing it down. Ripples from rocks skipped across the water are reaffirmation of our existence in the world, without doing the world any harm. This urge would stay with us for life if we do not turn away from it in our cynical self-absorption. Nature is out there, and out there includes us.

But why water?

I guess throwing rocks into water is relaxing because there’s no pressure trying to hit the target, and the splash and ripples satisfy our need for sensing predictable causal effects.This is so true with kids, my daughter is a perfect example who enjoy this. From splashing in the tub during bath times, up to making messes in the sand pit, even playing with water during painting time.

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A toddler’s fun of throwing stones into the water

People don’t often think about it, but we are not so far removed from our primal instincts as we like to think. “Modern Man” is but a thin veneer, and a fragile one at that. Have you ever watched a toddler destroy a tower of duplos and Legos after you’ve just built something? My daughter always do this, she just love to tear down anything that I am trying to build. At a young age, we have been inclined to disrupt something, knowing that no harm is done, permanently.

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Stones in the water

You might not realize it but throwing stones can be therapeutic. When you pick up a stone, you release your  worries and throw them as well into the water.I felt all kinds of emotions that I wasn’t expecting as I launched more and more rocks into the river. There were a few moments of sadness, of anxiety in the mix but they didn’t last. Most of the time, I felt really joyful.

If you have the chance, try doing it and watch how your mood changes. I was not even aware how time flies, as I keep on picking up stones, and at the same time taking some photos, time was on my side. My husband said that it’s also one of his favorite thing to do when He was a kid.We never never outgrown these things. It’s in us all along.

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Throw your stress into the waters

I am happy to find wisdom such as this in ordinary circumstances.When I look at the vase full of the stones that I gathered from the river, I remember not much of the walk through the river, but the fun that my daughter had, and mine as well.

I guess we’ll be frequenting to do this again especially in summer.

How about you,do you like throwing stones into the water?

How was your experience?

 

If you enjoyed reading this post and got time to kill, you might want to waste more time checking out what I recently discovered as fun thing to do when the weather drops here in Bavaria. Check out these posts  in my Sunday Wandertags;

Walking on a Frozen Lake

Enjoying Solace in Neues Schloss

Chasing the Fog