First off: We found a house. It's one of the first places we looked at (a brand-new duplex). We drove by and chose not to call on it because it was under construction and it didn't look like it could be done in time. Also, it looked as if it wouldn't have much of a backyard. There were stones thrown about the back and I assumed that was it.
I was wrong. On a whim and desperate, we made an appointment to look at it. We were pleasantly surprised. It's three stories with four bedrooms and a finished basement (playroom, storage, etc). It has two full bathrooms (with beautiful jacuzzi tubs) and a half bath. It has a small, private balcony off of one bedroom (it will probably be the office/extra guest room). The kitchen is a lot smaller than I would normally put up with - but, we've only come across a couple places with big kitchens and I had to give up on the "dream kitchen." The landlord agreed to work with me on the kitchen. I can probably get more shelving put in and maybe some sort of breakfast folding table/chairs. I'll also probably get a kitchen storage cart (with wooden chopping block) and use that as an island of sorts. There isn't a single strip of carpet! It's really modern and the style reminds me of something out of Ikea.
We will have a fenced-in, grass yard. We also have a small garage and plenty of parking for guests around the corner. There is a kindergarten across the street from our house (let's hope there is no wait list and the school suits the girls' needs). The town is quite cute and even has an organic grocery store. The S-Bahn (train) is a mile from our house with a huge parking lot and bike racks. This will come in handy for our visitors!
Speaking of schools, we have decided to enroll Olivia in German kindergarten even though we hear the standards are not as high as American kindergarten. We'll have to do some supplementation at home. Beginning in middle school, German schools exceed American standards. Before that time, however, they are either at or below the American standard. I'm a bit apprehensive about having Olivia skip regular American kindergarten. However, she's a bright child and will catch up just fine in American first grade next year. This year, she'll become fluent in German (please realize that it is a fabulous brain exercise-one which many Americans, sadly, don't put enough value in) and she can maintain it next year by remaining enrolled in most, if not all, of her sport activities on the German economy, local parks, etc. This year, we will make sure she does at least one sport (swimming, we think) on post so she can make some American friends.
Lila will go to German kindergarten for two full years and, depending on how Olivia does with her transition from German kindergarten to American first grade and where she's at at the time, will either continue with German kindergarten or proceed with American kindergarten.
As far as school for me, I plan to start my Infant Maternal Health-Lactation Consulting degree in late August and also start taking German lessons twice a week. I have to at least commit to six weeks of German classes. If I can manage school and German classes, I plan on committing to six months of language classes. I hate being in the "dark" here and German's do not appear as eager to use their English as most Portuguese are.
As for what else is going on: NOTHING. It's a series of hot days (90's) in a hot guest house, with hot and cranky kids prone to frequent tantrums in which all control is lost. Who wants to travel in this heat? Not me. Thank goodness for my Itouch. I've been able to download a few movies and hook the Touch up to the TV in the guest house. We've seen Toy Story, Alice in Wonderland, and a few Eloise episodes. I don't usually allow the girls to watch this much TV (or eat out this much) but, we'll detox from all that fairly soon. Positive thoughts, positive thoughts!