Archive | Olivia RSS for this section

Christmas Tea

Olivia and I kind of have a tradition now of having a Christmas Tea for her and her friends each year in December.  This year she invited two other girls from her class to our new apartment and we had a good time making cookies, decorating cookies and eating cookies!

Here are some pictures:

Decorating Supplies

Chocolate muffins with a decorated christmas tree sugar cookies

The girls decorated a Christmas tree sugar cookie and stuck it in a chocolate muffin.  The names are on them, but hard to read. chocolate and apple cider!

After about and 1 1/2 hours in the kitchen the girls picked apple cider or hot chocolate to drink with their favorite sugar cookies they decorated.



Well, I’ve finally gotten around to writing about my first born–my daughter. 🙂  I wrote about Chris around the time of his birthday, Alex’s post a little after his and now I’m finally getting around to doing Olivia’s, though her birthday was back at the 1st of May.

Sooooo, Olivia.  Olivia!

Our first-born child.  Those who have children can attest to the magical feelings that go along with witnessing the pregnancy and birth of your first child.  In my mind, this doesn’t go along with the way you feel about your first child.  It doesn’t make THEM more magical than your other children.  It makes God’s miracle of LIFE magical.  I’m using the word magical to imbue that feeling that I can’t properly describe in words.  All my children are so very dear to me and each pregnancy and birth was, as well.Olivia But I must say that my first feeling after Olivia was born was simply…”wow.”  I’ve included my first thoughts with all my childrens births, so I’m trying to stay consistent here 🙂 “Wow” describes that first feeling of witnessing a child come into the world after months of uncertainty, confusion, wonder and prayer.  To see it and feel it for myself was amazing.  And Chris’ and Alex’s births in the years to come were reminders of that first day that I saw one of God’s miracles for myself, up close and personal.  I remember from the look on Randy’s face that he felt that way as well.  “Wow.”  And that’s what all children are.  The word “child” is synonymous with “miracle” in my book.

Olivia hardly cried at her birth.  She was too full of wonder and curiosity. And she still is.  She’s an adventurer, a learner; she hungers for excitement and all things new. She held her head up by the end of the first day and every time she opened her eyes, you felt like she was just….taking it in.

Olivia loves Princesses, though the phase is starting to fade, I think. She wanted a princess party for her 7th birthday this year and so we invited over eight other little first graders to celebrate being little princesses with her.  “Princess stuff” is not as big over here as it is in the States, but we did do face painting, “body art” with “tattoo” stencils and pens, and jewelry making or “beading.”  We decorated a tent like a pavilion and did some dancing and games, as well.

Olivia is finishing up her first year of school (they start school in the first grade in Germany) and we’ve been on a roller coaster of confusion since a half a year before school began.  Though some things are pretty much the same–students, classrooms, books, teachers, playgrounds and whatnot–there are still plenty of things we don’t have a clue about.  We’re feeling pretty good about when Chris will start school, though. 🙂  So Olivia is now reading very well in German, though her English has gone downhill a little.  😦  That’s partially my fault for not having a lot of time to spend with her on it. School is taxing and so is her day that begins at 6 in the morning.  We’re not too worried about it, though.  There’s time and we’re in no rush. 🙂  She’s made quite a few friends, which will continue with her throughout the fourth grade. Over here you stay with the same kids and teacher through all four grades.  When we do our furlough to the States, I’m sure she’ll pop out with some German phrases, since it happens at home when she’s more familiar with something in German than in English.  Though it’s pretty commonplace over here to meet families with kids growing up in two (or even three) languages, it still makes me stop and think;  I had NO idea that I would be raising a Third Culture Kid when I was younger…even when I was in college! We consider a blessing from God that our kids will at least be able to communicate with approximately an extra 110 million people in the world 🙂  I think this will benefit Olivia as she is very interested in people–who they are, where they come from, what they like and dislike.  Though I think she’s only a partial extrovert, she has a heart for people and I know that whatever she ends up “doing” when she’s an adult, she will bless the people around her with her compassion and understanding.  I find this a wonderful connection to the origin of her name, Olivia; which is an anglicized form of the Latin oliva (olive, olive branch, olive tree) and has come to be associated with “peace”, especially from biblical references.

Well, on to the STATS:

Olivia Claire was born at 7:30 p.m. at the Uniklinik in Dresden on May 1st, 2002.  It happens to be the birthday of my mom, as well.  It also happened to be “labor day” here in Germany and the Doctor knew enough English to make the appropriate (or rather, inappropriate) joke about being in labor on Labor Day. *insert eye roll here*  This being our first experience delivering a baby…in Germany or not…we were dazed and confused after 14 hours of hard labor, but were well rewarded with a beautiful baby girl.  Randy gave her her first bath in the sink and she kept her eyes open for over an hour gazing at us before she finally dozed off.

She has a brother, Christopher who is 20 months younger and a brother Alexander, who is almost exactly four years younger to the day–one day to be exact.

She has light brown hair and light brown eyes. Her eyes are huge and are always watching for the “next thing.”

She tans the best of our family; why would I mention that? I just find it weird that even though I slather her in sunscreen she ends up with a tan at the end of the day.  It’s only May and she already looks like a native Southern Californian or Floridian.

Olivia is our “resident vegetarian” as we call her.  She rarely eats meat by choice, but loves salads with a passion.  She also demonstrates her upbringing outside of the US by eating things we would never try or that gross us out.  Now I get it, Courtney! 🙂

She’s very coordinated and has always done the “physical” stuff ahead of her age bracket, though she’s never been interested in sports….mostly just dancing!

She LOVES to draw and at this rate will be as prolific as Picasso 🙂

But who is she really?

Olivia spoke her own language until she was about 2 1/2 which no one understood.  Some insisted that this was because she was growing up in two languages, but I knew that wasn’t entirely accurate, since my mom told me I did the exact same thing, and I think there’s a tape somewhere that even proves it… 😉  I think she “thinks” like I do…in a big picture, sometimes abstract kind of way and not a “follow the leader” or logical step-by-step kind of way.  She is so very imaginative (her drawn horses are in technicolor and all her people are altered to fit her universe) and I think her “own language” was an indication of this.  After she went to kindergarten, her English and German started to rev up a bit, but when she started schoool is when her German really took off.  She’s constantly saying things we’re unfamiliar with and the inevitable “child-teaches-the parents-a-foreign-language-on-a-daily-basis” has been going on for a while now.  A strange feeling to be sure when you have to ask your child exactly what someone meant when they said something to you.  Don’t get me wrong…we’re considred fluent in German, I guess, but we don’t have the “umgangssprache” down like she does 🙂  She’s also in a school where they start having French lessons once a week starting from week 1, so we’re just out of the running all together for being the multi-linguists in this family 🙂

Olivia is sometimes the very opposite of Chris.  She is very quiet when she talks.  Whereas I’m begging Chris to use his “inside voice” (or really just ANY other voice) all the time, I’m constantly asking Olivia to “speak up.”  She is the perfect older sister.  She can be bossy for sure, but her passive, compassionate nature is the perfect foil for his head-strong, sometimes obsessive nature.  they get along extremely well (most of the time–have to add that in 🙂 ) and I find myself expecting the blow-ups and fights that my brother and I had; amazing they hardly ever occur.  Alex thrown into the mix is something that I had no experience growing up with.  I was blessed with two more brothers later in life, but watching three kids of age within two years of each other is a new, exciting (and yes, sometimes exhausting) experience.  But Olivia is the perfect “oldest sibling” of the group.

She loves to listen to music.  She recently got into the group Acappella thanks to Randy and lo and behold, “He Leadeth Me” is her favorite song, she says.  Randy and I were both pleased as it is also OUR favorite hymn (we didn’t find this out about each other until we were engaged).  She also loves to dance, dance, dance.  She didn’t have a CD player (we don’t own one), so since all the kids’ music was on my ipod, we decided to just get her a low memory ipod shuffle for her birthday instead of a CD player.  She uses it on the tram going to and from school and when she’s cleaning her room.  She sings to herself and there’s not a more beautiful sound in the world than hearing your kids sing.  On a side note:  one of her other favorite songs is “Electric Feel,” by MGMT.  Thanks Nate 😉

She also loves crafting.  Beading, painting, cutting, pasting…there is always something going on in her room that involves “cleaning it up” afterwards.  At the end of her time of Kindergarten (which was from age 3 to 6), her Kindergarten teacher gave me the binder of pictures and journaling that she had done of Olivia (all the teachers do this for each child and their parents) over those three years and another folder that was supposed to contain all her “artwork.”  Then she handed over a huge bag stuffed with papers, etc.  I looked at her confused and she just said “Olivia likes to do art” and raised her eyebrows significantly.  I said with a laugh, “yeah, I know.  You should see her room at our house!”

I love you my darling girl…may your compassion and love be a joy to those around you and in so doing, bring others closer to Christ.

Olivia ist ein Schulkind!

Schulanfang, originally uploaded by carrollers.
I feel like I should write this blog entry in German, since so much of what we experienced with Olivia’s “Einschulung” or “entry into school” was wrapped in German tradition.  But I know that nearly all of my (dare I say “faithful?”) blog readers are English speakers, so I’ll spare you the pain — not to mention sparing my German friends the pain of my not-quite-so-perfect German 🙂
Well, first off, kids officially start school here in the first grade.  From about 3 to 6 or 7 years of age is the time of Kindergarten which is similar to pre-school and day care mixed together.    Olivia said good-bye to her friends of three years at the kindergarten with some sadness, but with the promise of seeing them again–it’s a blessing that her younger brother is still there as an excuse to go back and visit!
It’s hard to summarize everything, but I’ll give you a short list of things to expect when your child starts school (at least here in Saxony):
Registration: You must register your child nearly a year in advance–there is a special time to register your child with a school in your area.  A list is sent to your house and you choose.  Or you go through the process of “unregistering” with your area and choosing a private school or, in our case, a state run school that is open to all areas of the city.  We chose a school recommended to us (we know a teacher there) for their good reputation, fine arts program and the fact that they emphasize French instead of English.
Schulranzen: During this year you have plenty of time to pick out what is called a Schulranzen or state-of-the-art backpack.  But don’t let Olivia hear you call it a mere backpack–she corrects me every time I do this–and in all fairness, it’s much more than a backpack.  And buying one is rather like picking out a car.  There are many factors to consider–according to the sales people, teachers, veteran parents and the like.  This is not to be taken lightly!  The weight of the backpack must be between 900 and 1200 grams, depending on the weight of your child. The height and width must fall between the base of the neck, the top of the hips and be in line with the shoulders (no, I’m not kidding).   Reflectors must be on the backpack by law.   There should be padded straps, molded backing and …and, and… I also received advice such as “don’t go with pink! It’ll go out of style and you’ll be stuck with it!”  “Order it online, it’s cheaper!”  “Order it at this store, it’s cheaper!”  “Buy her the one SHE wants, it’ll be easier on your relationship”  “Buy her the one YOU want, you know what’s best anyway.”  And so on and so forth.  In the end, Olivia’s Kindergarten teacher solved this mess for us for better or for worse–she sent her home with a catalog.  By the time she got home, she had picked out the one she wanted and no matter how many times we discussed different options in the months to come, she did not change her mind.  In the end we all agreed–it was the chosen Schulranzen!
Zuckertüte: We were also informed that every child MUST receive a Schultüte or in Saxony, a Zuckertüte.  It’s the big cone thing that you see in the pictures.  As the name Zuckertüte implies, it’s mostly filled with sweets.  We opted for the more modern idea of filling it with presents that weren’t all sweets 🙂  A Zuckertüte is REQUIRED!!!! Not by law but by the forces of nature that govern German society.   I heard of a Korean family who was not aware of this most important tradition and upon hearing this a week before school started, our friend Sarah insisted she take the mother to the store to pick out a Zuckertüte and stuff to fill it!  We got enough hints from Olivia (stores were saturated with them) to pick out the right one.  She was not allowed to see it before the official “welcome day.”
Elternabend (parents’ evening): Parents are invited during the summer to a meeting to meet the teacher and get “everything-you-need-to-know” speech.  We got a number of hand-outs (some of which we understood), lots of advice (some of which we used) and a general knowledge of the school’s program.
Schulanfang (beginning of school):It’s traditional that the school holds a welcome day the Saturday before the Monday of the first day of school.  On this day, we dropped off the Zuckertüte in the designated area (you can see it above), then made our way over to the auditorium where we left Olivia outside to enter with her class.   She has 24 classmates and her teacher, Frau Weisse, knew everyone’s name by sight! Over the summer, she had requested pictures and a letter from each student.  She obviously had studied them and I was impressed.  We went in and sat down for the show.  The paparazzi in the form of overenthusiast parents was present up front and center.  I took my fair share of pictures, but due to low batteries and my reaction to how crazy all the parents looked, I took shots from my seat.  The older students did a show, the principal said some words and then they had each kid come up on stage by name to stand with their class and receive a rose.  I thought that was pretty cool.  Olivia’s school is called “am Rosengarten” or “at the rose garten” since it’s located at the end of the Rose Garden in Dresden.  It’s close to the Elbe and has a wonderful view of the Dresden skyline.  Afterwards, the kids went with their teacher to tour their classroom while the parents heard some more unsolicited advice and then went to await the release of their children.  The kids came out, paused for a photo op and then went to search for their Zuckertüten which had been placed outside in a special arrangement on the ground (traditionally they’re hung from a tree, but they were too heavy!).  Olivia found hers no problem-she has a magnetic attraction to princesses 🙂 – and we went home to prepare for the big bash.  I must also mention here that as soon as Olivia heard she was to dress nicely for this big day, she picked out her butterfly dress that Oma made her-way to go, Oma!
Schulanfangsfeier (beginning of school party):In the afternoon, traditionally the extended family comes over and celebrates, but since we unfortunately don’t have any of our beloved ones on this side of the ocean, we invited friends!  We had a great time playing games, grilling, eating and Olivia received way too much candy in the form of more zuckertüten!  You can see all of our photos on our flickr site.
On Monday, Olivia arrived and settled into her class really well.  Her fears of not finding friends were relieved on Wednesday when she met a classmate named Emma and by Friday, she barely looked back when she entered the class.  She’s been telling us she’s having a great time at school and we’ll see if it lasts when she gets home work next week 🙂
So, to all of those great kids out there, starting school or going back to school, we wish you the best on your learning adventures this year!


So we’ll celebrate the beginning of a new blog by announcing that Olivia is now a Seepferdchen! A what?! you ask? A seahorse. 🙂 Olivia took a six week swim course with some of the kids in her kingergarten class at a local swimming pool. We were very excited about this because Olivia has never had any fear of the water and, in fact, goes running and jumping into any body of water she can find. Since we came home from Florida last spring I kept telling myself that we would teach her how to swim but we just never found the time. So I was thrilled that she could go on “Kindergarten” time and after seeing one of the lessons (as a chaperone one day) I am very glad that she has learned to swim properly and not just doggy paddle. The kids had no choice as they had a drill sergeant for an instructor. There was absolutely no goofing around in that pool!

I, myself, don’t even remember when I learned to swim because it seemed like I always just could–but perhaps a parent of mine remembers? So we two share a love of water! After five weeks Olivia jumped into a laned swimming pool from a diving platform, swam under a rope and then did a lovely breast stroke all the way down the lane without touching the wall. This qualified her to receive a Seepferdchen badge which marks her a first level swimmer. About half of the class also performed the more trying feat of swimming four lengths of the pool without stopping! I was so proud of those little guys–they then received a Frosch Urkunde (Frog certificate) which is the next level after Seepferdchen. Way to go guys! Olivia is the third from the right with her thumb up!