Goodbye DBS

Today was my last day at DBS, the school where I’ve worked for the past year. German schools have Project Week the last week of school, where kids get into groups and create things or learn new skills. As a parting gift and project, I made a video about the week along with the help of students. Enjoy!

 

A morning with my little ladies

img_1420Every Tuesday and Wednesday morning, I babysit two little munchkins named Winnie and Piper. Winnie is two and Piper is three, and they continually surprise me with their humor and unending joy for life. Honestly, if you’re feeling down in the dumps, I would suggest spending some time with little kids! They are hilarious. I just want to bottle up their enthusiasm and take it home with me. Below are a few photos from our time together yesterday.img_1425Me: What are you doing Winnie?
Winnie: I’m reading this book of course.img_1428img_1429Me: Winnie can I read that book with you?
Winnie: No, Micah, I don’t think so.img_1445Winnie: Can I take pictures of you?
Me: (Hesitantly) Sure…img_1447img_1483Winnie: Oh my, I need to cook you some food! How about cucumber?img_1484img_1500Lazarus the cat has a love hate relationship with Winnie, who is ultra affectionate (and sometimes picks him up the wrong way) :pimg_1519img_1525We headed down to main campus to explore. Always good to get out of the house and have an adventure.img_1528Piper: It smells like Christmas!img_1529Winnie and Piper climbing on the George Pepperdine statue (the founder of the university)img_1532Piper: Why won’t he turn the page of his book?
Me: He’s a statue, he can’timg_1534img_1537img_1540img_1551^Probably my favorite photo of the day!img_1554img_1573img_1586Winnie: Look at all the Dori and Nemo fishies!img_1594Me: What do you want for Christmas Winnie?
Winnie: Pinkimg_1598img_1601What’s you favorite thing about Christmas Piper?
Piper: Grandmaimg_1602Have a great one friends!

Five Tips & Tricks for Au Pairs

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Hi there friends, thanks for stopping by to say hello! As you may know, I have spent the last three months as an Au Pair, or live-in nanny, for a Germany family. My main motivation behind this decision was to improve my German language skills and experience German family life first-hand. And although I’ve done my fair share of babysitting and camp counseling in the past, I’ve never been a huge kid person. That is, I’ve never had the burning desire to be a teacher, or felt the urge to hold the baby in the room. I like kids, don’t get me wrong, but they’ve never played a huge roll in my life.

So when this opportunity arose, I was initially hesitant. A million doubts ran through my head. Would I be nurturing and loving enough? Do I even possess the ‘mom’ gene? Will they understand my broken German? But eventually, I realized there were more pros than cons, so I took the leap of faith. And guess what? I’ve loved it! I already know this was one of the best experiences I’ll ever have, and would absolutely consider being an Au Pair again for another family.

Have you ever thought about working as an Au Pair? Do you enjoy travel, learning about another culture up close and personal, and investing in children? If so, then this job may be perfect for you! Today I thought I’d share five tips and tricks I’ve learned through this experience for those of you who have been an Au Pair in the past, are considering becoming one in the future, or are just curious about the lifestyle. Enjoy!
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1. Give It Time. I tend to want everything to be perfect right now. Unfortunately, that’s not usually how life  works. Au Pairing is no exception. The first few weeks were a bit awkward and unfamiliar. I didn’t know the family’s schedule, household rules, or lifestyle. Even though they were incredibly hospitable and accommodating, I still felt like a guest. But slowly, things changed and I began feeling right at home. There is just no way around the fact that it takes time to adjust to a new situation and complete a transition. Be patient with yourself and others through the process!
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2. Communication is Key. This point seems obvious, but I actually really struggled with it for the first few weeks. I wish I had sat down with the parents the first day and clearly outlined my hours and responsibilities. Once we eventually did so, everything felt so much easier and less complicated. When I knew that my hours where 8:00am to 1:00pm and that my ‘household chore’ was to load and unload the dishwasher, I no longer felt guilty about spending alone time in the afternoons or not doing my own laundry. We also keep a weekly calendar of events to help us all stay on the same page. Communicating expectations and needs is key to a healthy and happy Au Pair experience!
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3. Learn How to Discipline. Initially, I was extremely hesitant to discipline the children in any way. I knew when they were clearly misbehaving or testing me, but it still felt strange to reprimand other people’s kids. Again, communicate with the parents about this subject, and ask for some guidelines. Chances are, they will tell you how they usually do it, and trust you enough to make discipline decisions when you see fit. When I found the courage within myself to discipline the kids, our relationship blossomed! They garnered a new respect for me, and I acted with more patience towards them! Discipline is a wonderful tool for everyone involved when used properly.
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4. Protect Your Alone Time.
I am the mother of all introverts. If I socialize for a period of time, I need to recede into my ‘cave’ for some serious alone time. At first, I felt guilty about leaving the kids, so I would sacrifice my alone time to play with them, even after my working hours were through. But eventually I realized that I’m no good to anyone if I don’t take care of myself first. I learned to say no and prioritize time to recharge, which ultimately benefitted everyone.

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5. It’s Okay to Say Goodbye.
As my time here draws to an end, I’ve begun dreading saying goodbye to the kids. Will they think I’m abandoning them? They are too little to understand the situation, they don’t even know what America is! But then I remembered the quote “It takes a village to raise a child” by Hilary Clinton, and realized that I am a part of their village. There are countless people who played a vital role in my upbringing who are not actively involved in my life today, but I would not be the same person without them. I may not see the final product or outcome, but I know I am a vital link in the chain. I have influenced their lives for the better in some way, and that’s pretty dang awesome in and of itself.
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^Selfie attempt number 12 million.

And there you have it friends, five tips and tricks I’ve garnered throughout my time as an Au Pair. This experience is never something I actively sought out or wanted to cross off my bucket list, but I’m so glad it fell into my lap. It has been better than anything I ever could have dreamed up myself. I feel so blessed to have worked with a wonderful family who treated me like their fourth child (probably because I still act like one), and who I know will visit me in California one day. I hope this post was helpful and informative, and don’t hesitate to comment below. Have a lovely week friends!
Question of the Day
Would you ever consider working as an Au Pair? Why or why not?

Strawberry Picking

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The best part of summer is that it’s filled with fun family activities and traditions. Example one: strawberry picking.

When Anne mentioned the near by strawberry fields were open for picking, I was totally on board. So we packed up the kids and what felt like the entire house, and headed out in search of some delicious Erdbeeren! Bending over, searching through leaves in the hot sun is hard work, but biting into a fresh, juicy strawberry makes it all worth it. I must admit, I became slightly obsessed with finding the perfect strawberry. As soon as I’d find one I thought was the perfect size, shape and color, I’d find one that looked just the slightest bit bigger and sweeter. This of course resulted in me eating most of them before they reached the basket!

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^He didn’t quite understand the concept of picking them to eat later. He’s more of a right now kind of guy!

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^That face though.

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^6 kilograms of strawberries. That should last us a day or two 🙂

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^High ho, high ho, it’s off to work we go! He wouldn’t let go of his bucket.

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Although my search for the perfect strawberry was destined to go unfulfilled, I still had a blast! And now I’m off to eat a slice of strawberry cake, washed down with a strawberry milkshake of course. Have a fabulous week friends.IMG_6902.JPG
^Shameless strawberry selfie.

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Let The Dog Days Begin

IMG_5723.jpgHello friends, how are things?

I’m feeling pretty great, because summer has officially begun! Ok, maybe it doesn’t technically start until June 21st, but I declare the season officially open none the less! Let the Dog Days of summer begin.

What exactly do I mean by the Dog Days?

You know, those lazy, unproductive summer days filled with sweaty clothes, sticky hands, and happy hearts. While the year calendar might end in December, every school child and parent knows the year actually ends in August and begins again with the start of school in September. Summer is the reward for everything you’ve accomplished and all the effort you’ve exerted throughout the other nine months. After surviving the cold German winter, Germany has rewarded me handsomely with a gorgeous summer!

Maybe it’s because I grew up in Southern California, land of eternal summer, that I am suddenly so appreciative of the lovely weather. I jumped for joy on the first sunny day in May, and cherish each warm day like it could be my last! I particularly enjoy the twilight hours, after the heat of the day has settled and the sun begins to sink slowly towards the horizon. Sunset isn’t until around 10pm here, so I’ve found myself turning into a bit of a night owl.

But my favorite part of summer is the change of pace. Everything slows down, including my brain, and I can finally take a deep breath. Previously frustrating or worrisome things somehow become less complicated. Life is divided into seasons- seasons to work your butt off and stay busy, and other seasons to take a break. Neither pace is sustainable the whole year- I would burn out from school if it were any longer, but I would feel bored and unproductive if summer were any longer. Our God designed this life we life perfectly, don’t you think?

Anyways, enough of my pointless rambling. I wanted to share a few photos from a recent visit to a playground/natural hiking area here in Hildesheim that I visited with the family I’m working for. This day in particular sticks out to me as the official commencement of the Dog Days of Summer- enjoy!

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^I may or may not have frolicked in this field. Just a little.

IMG_5672.jpgIMG_5701.jpg^The little Mr. deep in thought.IMG_5702.jpg^Make a wish!IMG_5706.jpg^Straight chillin’.IMG_5716.jpg
^Over the hills and through the woods!

IMG_5723.jpgIMG_5740.jpgIMG_5678.jpgIMG_5697.jpgI hope you’re enjoying these Dog Days as much as I am friends! Have a good one and I’ll see you ’round here soon.IMG_5632.jpgIMG_5601.jpgIMG_5633.jpg