Wednesday, June 25, 2014

World Cup Mania

Our family, one young boy in particular, has World Cup Fever. Adam follows all sports as best he can. He talks football with his Dad and absorbs the other football (soccer) news from the kids at school. And that’s the connection. How World Cup fever made it to our home. Combined with Germany ‘s enthusiasm for all things World Cup. Germany-colored  M&M’s started showing up in the grocery stores months ago. Most restaurants have installed big screens to watch the games. Even our minivan has Germany colored rear view mirror covers! Adam wants us to get car flags too but so far we’ve held off on that.
The World Cup season started with a Phil business trip to Brazil. People, perhaps encouraged by Adam, thought Phil was there for the World Cup but he wasn’t. Just a regular audit but one that got us thinking about where Brazil was. And got Adam prepared to figure out the time zone differences so that he can accurately tell us when any game is being played.
We have a great venue for watching the games. Our local beer garden, Fort Kasten puts up a big screen for all the games. We ride our bikes there through the forest and eat our picnic on the wooden tables all situated around the huge screen. We’ve even started allowing Adam to ride his bike there, sometimes with a friend, sometimes alone, to catch a game that no one else in our family cares to watch.
We cheer for most teams, though of course, more vehemently for USA or Germany. We found out that the US National coach, a German married to a woman from California, used to coach the Bayern team and his kids went to our school. His daughter took riding lessons where the girls take them now. That, plus the fact that the US team is courting German-American players, blurs our loyalty even further.  It does get a little confusing when talking about the elaborate point system in the first round and we say “us.” Royce rightly asked “does ‘us’ mean the USA or Germany?” No one really knew.  Adam thinks it’s okay to rout for the USA in football and Germany in the other football and there’s a certain practical logic there.
We have a wall sized poster up in our entryway, where Adam keeps track of the scores from every game. He also collects, and trades, Panini cards; little photo cards for the players. Sometimes stores give these cards out for free, sometimes Adam buys them. I like seeing him trading these cards with his friends, just like baseball cards. I said it looked like fun and he agreed with hesitation. He said that he would have a better relationship with his friends here if they cared about American football as much as he cared about their football. Spoken like a true expat.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Braces and brackets!

It is starting to look a lot like the teenage years around here. We now have two kids in braces- or brackets as they are called in Germany. While it is not usually the case, we did have a bit of a language breakdown surrounding this next step of orthodontia. When it came time to get the braces on, our usual orthodontist who speaks English was away. Tori gamely got her braces applied and listened to all instructions in German. For some reason, I thought brackets meant the individual tooth contraption. We went round and round on this until someone, I think Tori, figured it out and we moved on. Moved on to getting Royce’s brackets into her mouth!
Tori got her braces on and left the next day for a softball tournament in Zurich. She was in a fair amount of pain, her mouth still bleeding. She packed the wax around her braces and got on the train. It was one of the few times were I wished she had a phone so I could check on her. She played softball all day, went home to the family hosting her, figured out their wifi and sent us an email around 10:30 at night, saying her teeth felt “okay.” Probably better not to get the painful blow by blow! The housers noticed the situation and went out to buy her yogurt and ice cream. So kind.
Royce has had an easier time of it, managing the pain. She really never complained, never needed the wax. She’s also less sensitive to having food caught in her braces. Fewer of her friends have braces in 5th grade but she seems unfazed.  Perhaps all those broken bones she had endured has mitigated the oral pain? I hope there is a silver lining there somewhere! She deserves it.
The final injustice with braces is the saxophone, Tori’s new instrument of choice. She picked it up to practice once home from softball and couldn’t make a sound. She changed the reed and made some other adjustments before realizing it was the braces. She’s slowly learning to adjust her lips around the reed to make the type of sound she used to make. But it’s slow going. If all things brass don’t improve soon, Phil and I will be advocating for the removal of braces as much as the girls already are. And the fun continues: Adam is getting a retainer in the next few weeks!