On the water

On the water

Canoeing on the Saale River with some other campers


On the road

On the road

Marlena is ready for the Jena streets with her new helmet. We’re opting to be in the minority in the helmet-wearing department.

Henry’s life since his last post

I have just finished my third day of soccer camp.  It is longer than school, actually, the 7+ hours from 8:00-something to about 4:00.  It’s sort of crazy that at 8:00 here, you (whoever you are) will most likely be sleeping and will be doing so for at least another four hours.  You may think that it would be obvious that we would play a lot of soccer, but aside from lunch and walking to the fields and back, we play soccer or something related to it at least 95% of the time.  However, a lot of it isn’t organized.  We play on the field closest to our home base, which is very close, for about an hour before the organized part of camp starts, and then we play more soccer on that same field for another hour after lunch before the second period of training starts.  You would think that we would play scrimmages in the afternoon and do drills in the morning, but I think we’ve scrimmaged more in the morning than the afternoon, but we usually scrimmage a little in both trainings. 

Yesterday (aka Tuesday) we took a field trip to a climbing place.  It was really awesome because some of the walls were super hard.  One of the ones that I tried to do had a two-foot overhang that you had to be almost upside-down when you went over.  I didn’t quite get over it, but one of the people in my group did.  There were three climbing walls that actually ended up on a large square panel upside-down about four stories from the ground.  One of the counselors, betting about seven boys one piece of chocolate each, actually climbed all the way up to that panel.  You can see a 3-D tour at http://www.rocks-jena.de/wp-content/themes/ashford/images/rocks-jena/tour.html*.  We will go canoeing and grilling tomorrow.

I haven’t actually learned much German, because people either speak too quickly for me to understand or speak to me in English or hand-sign.

*The wall I tried to climb is the yellow-ish one with a climber on it.  The place the counselor took on was to touch the stalactite which you can see by looking straight up.

Marlena’s News

Today I got a new bike.  I rode it to pick up Henry from camp and it was fine, but at first it took me a little while to adjust.  It’s mostly silver with orange on the front.  I’ll post a picture tomorrow so you can see what it looks like.  The tires are really thick so it’s good for all the cobblestone streets.  I used gears for the first time with actually understanding what each gear meant.

I’ve met some girls from the apartments that are about my age.  The seven-year old is named Maria and she’s from Georgia (the country) and the eight-year old Tuka is from Egypt.  She has a little sister named Selma who’s three and super-cute.  There’s also a little girl named Mimi from Iraq who’s three, almost four, and arrived here when she was five months old.  When I push Mimi on the swing, she turns around and starts laughing like crazy.  One time she even fell off.  There’s also another family from Iraq with an eight-year old boy named Mustafa. 

It’s so different here how lots of people wear the same clothes over and over.  For example, I’ve only seen Mustafa wearing two different shirts, and I’ve been here for a week and a half.

Recent highlights

– Discovery of another neighborhood playground, including a zipline and an enclosed soccer area.  The nets are sturdy enough that Marlena was able to climb up and meditate when she got bored of kicking the soccer ball.


– Visit to the Ostbad (outdoor swimming pool), also in walking distance from our house, with a wide slide (4-5 people across) and large grassy area for picnics, soccer, etc.  The indoor Galaxsea is still being “cleaned” but we’re hoping it’ll be functional by the time the weather turns.

– Ultimate tournament for Andrew this weekend, thanks to flooding of the fields earlier in the summer when it was supposed to be held.  At the same time, the other three family members went to see the local amateur team and hear German heckling, after a LOT of walking.

– Friday night visit to our favorite local restaurant, Cafe Stilbruch, known for its pan-fried dishes.  We’ve also checked out Wok King (not to be confused with Dr. Wok), the vegan burger truck (where the adults shared a hemp burger and a plant burger, by our best translation), and too many ice cream spots to count.

– School visit (including meeting her teacher, Ms. Wetzel) and school-supplies buying for Marlena.  One big change in the German school is that they have to write with a real fountain pen.  They also have swimming as part of their sports instruction, and optional use of the sauna in the building.  Henry’s school has been locked when we stopped by and nobody has returned our email messages, so we’re hoping they’ll have information for us this coming week, given that school starts the following week!

– Coming up this week:  soccer camp for Henry, more work for Andrew, registration for music instruction, and getting used to being out of the house before 9:00.  Jet lag hasn’t quite gone 100% away.

Pictures of our new home


This is our building from the central courtyard.  We are on the second floor, last three windows on the right.


We have the last apartment in the hall, C107.


This is our living room/dining room.  The kids are trying to learn some German from watching soccer and cartoons.  Wireless came today; suitcases should be gone tomorrow.


Henry and Marlena’s room is cozy.  Bookshelves instead of dressers will hopefully lead to clothes being kept more neatly.


Our cute kitchen.  The refrigerator is behind one of those lower cabinets, so thank goodness there are several grocery stores in easy walking distance.