Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Briefing the Troops

(Kai at Parade Rest... AWESOME)

With our family trip to Germany looming just about 2 weeks in the future, we've decided to step things up a notch. For FHE tonight I put together a Power Point presentation, focusing mainly on our German family and heritage.
Being the genius that I am, it just now occurred to me that it might be a good idea to show the kids pictures of my German relatives, in an attempt to make my kids a little familiar with them before we move into my Oma's (likely NOT childproof) house for a week.
Even though I was competing with the bedtime crazies that seem to peek around 8pm, it was a great experience!

(1st powerpoint slide, showing our car route to Virginia and then flight to Germany)

This is obviously showing the rough route we'll drive to get from Ramstein AB up to Husum, the little town where my mom's mom, Oma Gisela, lives with Opa Lothar. She lives in the house her parents lived in who inherited it from her father's family. Such a cool, old house!
The car is an Opel Zafira, the 7 passenger (in sardine mode) glorified sedan that we will be renting, as well as my parents (hence 2 pictures). We'll divvy up the 5 adults (my parents, brother, Fred and I) and my 4 children between the 2 vehicles and save oodles of money by not having to rent a minivan *shudder*

I had actually intended for this slide to be in next weeks powerpoint, but it was still a fun perk to throw out- CASTLES! I'm sure we'll see at least 1 while we're there!

I was so happy to find I had this picture! It's of me with my mom's mom's dad, my Uhr Opa Friedrichsen. I told the kids about how he was a train conductor. I didn't mention the part about it during WWII, but I did explain that it was dangerous and that he was a brave man (I also omitted the fact that he was a POW in a Russian concentration camp... someday they'll learn what an amazing man he really was).
I did tell them about walking with him to the docks to visit his fisherman friends and about his house that we'll be staying in.

It was fun to let them hold the jacket I'm wearing in the picture- it's sure held up well for the past 25 years!

I quizzed them by asking them to identify people in this slide. Of course they knew Fred and I, and even guessed Leora (taken on our trip to Germany February 2009). We then told them a bit about Oma Gisela and Opa Lothar.
Someday I'll tell them the whole story about how they were sweethearts when she was a teenager, but that when her father didn't approve, Lothar respectfully withdrew. They both went on to marry other people, never having any contact until a few years ago when Oma Gisela happened to read the obituary in the local paper for Opa Lothar's wife. Her husband had died years before, and Lothar has a somewhat unique name, so she took a risk and called him per the contact info in the article. Lo and behold, it was the same Lothar she had loved so many years ago.
They reunited and are now one of the happiest couples I have ever met in my life, all lovey, dovey like a pair of newlyweds. It's adorable!

The kids enjoyed this slide. While I really do like this picture of my parents (I think it captures their fun personalities well), I really only used it because I found out I hardly have any pictures of them! It must be remedied.
The other man is my mom's brother, Svenn, who we hope to see on our trip. He's posing for the picture with his daughter Sandy, who is my brother's age and who we may also see. The picture is taken in my Oma Gisela's back yard.

Then we talked about family traditions and explained a little bit about what "heritage" means. I explained to the kids that the special clothes that German wear on special days are called "Trachten". The boys' Trachten are Lederhosen. I was SO excited when I discovered that I had a picture of my brother in the same Lederhosen that Gregory is wearing in this picture! I hope the Lederhosen are in Tucson, because I have searched every box here trying to find them.

Then we talked about how the girls' Trachten are called Dirndls. I ADORE this picture of my sister Anja wearing the same dirndl I wore when I was little. Hopefully I can get my hands on it before my girls outgrow it!
We also talked about the Schulteute and how both Gregory and Charla took one to their first day of Kindergarten, just like I did, just like my mama did, just like her mama did... And that Leora and Kai will both do the same and that when our kids grow up and have their own kids someday, they may also do it. It was a great illustration of how a tradition works.

(no, we won't be flying on one from the Royal Air Force, but Fred assures me all C-17's look the same, regardless of what country they're flying for, and I just liked this shot)

Finally, I ended the slideshow with this picture of a C-17, the plane we hope to hop out of Andrews AFB in 2 weeks. There are various planes that fly to Germany every week, but I'd like to take this one since there will be room for the kids to move around and lie down to sleep, if it's an overnight flight again.

Next week we'll talk more about Germany itself... and Legoland Denmark, which is not quite a 2-hour drive from Husum!! We plan on that being Charla and Fred's birthday present (September 23rd).

We ended by singing "We Have a Happy Family", reviewing ALL the people we talked about in the briefing, including our little family. Then the kids "accompanied" me while we sang, "I'm Trying to be Like Jesus" which they'll be helping to sing at church in 2 Sundays.

Well, I think this post has gotten long enough.


Nick & Kristen said...

Ahhh what a fun FHE!!!! And what a FUN trip coming up for you guys!

The McCooks said...

Debbie, you are the best mom and so creative! I bet that will be so fun to take the kids to Germany. Have fun! Miss you!