Welcome to our life!

Hi, I'm Allison! I'm a thirtysomething, freshly baked, stay-at-home mom. I'm originally from Connecticut, now living in Germany, hence the name of the blog. I live in southern Germany with my German husband and our baby boy. Life has turned out to be nothing I ever expected, and am so incredibly happy with it! We certainly do have a lot of laughs! I hope you will enjoy following our new experiences raising a little half American/ half German in a little German town.

Dienstag, 11. November 2014


The word in today's post used to make me cringe.  I come from the US, where children attend Kindergarten at 5 years old.  American Kindergarten is traditionally the first year of school, and is treated as such.  I work in a private school here, where until I left for maternity leave, there was more of a preschool, and a Senior Kindergarten.  Senior Kindergarten was much like US Kindergarten, and treated as the big push to get kids ready for first grade, get them reading and writing.  Coming from my two different backgrounds, I bring a much different experience than your average person living here in Germany.  Here, your child goes to Kindergarten, a state run center that is entirely separate from school, at age three.  Of course, as times are changing, more and more Kindergartens are accepting children from the age of 1, and I believe that the government is passing laws to require Kindergarten spots from 6 months on.  Kindergarten here is not preschool.  Academics are not the focus.  From talking to many German moms, I've figured out that lots of people view Kindergarten here as a place for social interaction and growth.

I admit, for years, German Kindergarten was a big, scary, totally off-putting idea.  After moving here, I thought, "when I have a child, we'll have to look into something private."  Then, I started working at an international school.  Our school has a wonderful early years program.  Its really a place where I would want a child to attend.  They had, until recently, small groups run by teachers, a traditional 3 year old class, a 4 year old class, and a 5 year old class.  English is the instructional language and there is lots of support offered to children who are not native English speakers.  Being an international school, we embrace multi-culturalism, and strive to teach children understanding and compassion, and allow each child to express themselves and their culture constantly.  I thought "this is the place for my kid."

Then, we had a kid, and all of a sudden, I realized that the choice wasn't so simple.  Yes, the international school offers some really wonderful perks.  But, I also realized that the international school is not reality.  My child is going to grow up in a town, kind of far from Stuttgart, yet, if he attends the international school, will he get to know the other kids in the town?  Sure, he can join sports teams here, but its not really the same.   Fortunately, I had a few years to make a decision.  Of course, my decision was made a little simpler by the fact that the international school runs like a school, meaning that they use the age cut-off in the state of Baden-Württemberg.  In order for Ryan to start at the international school, he would need to turn 3 before 1 October.  Obviously, with a December birthday, Ryan will not be able to start at the international school until September, 2015.
With my return to work the day before Ryan's third birthday, we needed another option anyway.

Knowing that there were many factors in our decision, Joern and I visited Kindergartens in our town. I have to admit, I wasn't very confident that we'd find a really good fit here in town.  Our first visit was to a more traditional Kindergarten.  It was nice.  There are 46 kids from age 1- 6 in the first Kindergarten.  There are 4 teachers for the 3-6 year olds, who have pretty much free run of almost the entire building.  The Kindergarten building is big, with separate rooms for different activities. There was an art/ messy room, room, a pretend room (with dress up clothes and dolls,) and a movement room with construction blocks and a movement area. The outside is large and there was a nice play area.  The teacher who showed us around was nice and open, and surprisingly, a man.  Ryan said he liked the Kindergarten.  And overall, it was good.   Plus, this Kindergarten is open all day, which makes life much easier as a working parent.

We heard really good things about another Kindergarten in the town, and I really wanted to visit the second Kindergarten before making any decisions.  So, we made an appointment, and visited Kindergarten #2.  Turns out Kindergarten #2 is seriously, like Kindergarten Heaven.  This Kindergarten has space for 25 children, max, but at the moment has 18 kids.  There are two teachers, but since the building is shared with the town's after-school care program, there are always more adults in the building.  Although the building is not very large, it is extremely bright and the outside play area is flat and beautiful.  There is lots of room for kids to play and the layout makes it simple to watch the kids as they go about their morning.  I really like the head teacher in the Kindergarten, she and I seem to have similar views on kids and the approach to Kindergarten.

The day runs pretty much like your average Kindergarten.  Kids arrive any time between 7:30 and 8:45, and have time to play.  At 9:00, the kids tidy up and move to circle time.  This is something else I like a lot about the smaller Kindergarten.  A circle with 25 kids is easier to manage than one with 46 kids.  Circle time in Ryan's Kindergarten has lots of singing and musical instruments.  After circle time, all the kids have snack together.  After snack, the kids have:  sport on Monday, free play on Tuesday through Thursday, and nature walks on Friday.  Its all really nice.

We decided for Kindergarten #2, which then meant getting special permission to start a little early.  Ryan's Kindergarten is only for children over 3, but since he's almost 3, and potty-trained, it wasn't too much of an issue.  Surprisingly, the approval came pretty quickly, and Ryan was able to start Kindergarten in early October.  Its been a fun ride since, but he's going remarkably well!  I'm very, very proud of my little boy!

Montag, 3. November 2014

Wait, what? Our baby is almost THREE!

Well, a gigantic hello from the great blogging hole I've been hiding in!  Our friends were here visiting last week, and I was reminded that not only should I get back to my blog, but that my last post was about Ryan being 18 months old!  18 months old.  Get out of town!  18 months is like a huge, distant memory.  Ryan is turning three next month!  That means he's 35 months old!  Oh my gosh.  Just for an idea, here's a comparison:

Yup, he's doubled in age and boy, what a difference.

As we are closing out two, I have to admit, I have truly loved the two's.  For me, the one's were rough.  Ryan was, and still is, a complete daredevil.  Either I've learned to relax a bit, or he now has a little reasoning, or both, but the daredevil is a lot easier to take.  That super-cutie on the left always had a bump or a bruise somewhere on his face, just as one would heal, another would appear.

Ryan has since grown into a very loving, open, and chatty little boy.  He approaches the world with enthusiasm and wonder.  Ryan's favorite phrases now are, "tell me about that, Mommy," "I see today" when he wakes up in the morning, and "its not snack time" when I want to nibble his toes.  Ryan is so vibrant.  When he tells a story, his eyes light up, and his whole body gets in to the story.  The two's brought an incredible language explosion.  While he started really talking around 18 months, the early twos marked Ryan's time to shine linguistically.  He retold a story a few weeks ago, and it was in the completely correct order.  Ryan talks from the second he wakes up, when he first says, "I see today," until the second before he goes to sleep "the end" after our 5th book of the evening.  Its been so incredibly fun to watch his language grow, and to have absolutely hilarious conversations with this kid!

Two has also been spectacular because of all we have done together, and how we now enjoy experiences together.   Ryan has always enjoyed going places and doing things, but now, he relates new experiences to old ones, or to things he has learned in books.  We can talk about things we did in the past, and he still remembers it all.

We have some big changes happening and coming up soon.  Ryan has started Kindergarten, and I will be going back to work in December.  I'm hoping to try to get into a better blogging rythm soon.  Wish me luck!