Sunday, December 11, 2011

Jiste Jedno, Noch Einmal, Once Again...

As "anyone" can plainly see, I've been in Germany again. I must admit, I always tremble a bit when I enter tri-lingual situations. Hard to know if I can possibly be up for the challenge. The truth of the matter is, I know one language. Sure, I've dabbled in this and that in the lingual sense, but most people don't consider being able to count to ten and say I love you sufficient evidence of language mastery.

Surprisingly, speaking to four year olds in German ins't quite the daunting task one might think it to be. They're used to people asking them the names of things to test their brilliance, and see nothing wrong with this practice at all. They also speak simply, if not exactly slowly or clearly. You know, you get used to being called "Sigh-ya" and "Mall-ek." Of course try to repeat these words in the way they say them and they'll look at you like you're clearly lacking something in the intelligence category.

But there was more to the trip than just wracking my brain for the right word. I've discovered that I can speak German more easily yet I understand Czech better. I think this is partly because I actually studied German so I have a good feeling for the sentence structure and while I might not always have the vocabulary I can wiggle around it a bit more than I can in Czech. As far as the understanding part goes, I've been listening to Czech a lot more often, be it in conversation or on television, and that has definitely helped with my comprehension. Just don't ask me to string words together because I'm certain to put them in the wrong order and with totally incorrect endings. Thankfully, I was able to pull it off well enough that the twins probably don't even realize I don't speak German, the girls at least felt like I could follow what they were saying and make basic replies, and I was able to carry on a conversation with my sister-in-law during which we both communicated successfully. Granted, I might have occasionally agreed to things that weren't exactly true, but what's life without a few micommunications, right? Even when both parties are fluent in a mutual langauge they don't always get the whole story straight, so I'd say we did pretty well, all things considered.

Of course, there was more than just talking that took place. Saturday morning I had a completely new experience. I'm not sure if this is cultural or what (probably some health regime I've just never heard of) but we had garlic soup for breakfast. That's right, a nice water garlic soup with a few random chunks of potato on the bottom and little crunchy balls of some time sprinkled on top. Considering the fact that my husband thinks eating syrupy waffles in the same meal as bacon (especially for dinner) is the strangest combination ever, I have to say that I've never heard of anyone having garlic soup for breakfast.

After that odd start to the day (well, actually the day started much earlier, seeing as how we still woke up at - gasp - 5 AM, but that's beside the point) Mark left me to fend for myself. This is when I not only impressed myself with my ability to cope, I also learned a new cooking skill. First I helped the kids a bit with putting jam in the middle of sandwich cookies (not nearly as complicated as it sounds unless you're four and think that you should lick off the excess around the edges...). Then I was called upon to make cinnamon sugar coated almonds. I've often bought these tasty little treats at holiday and festival markets in Czech, but this was definitely my first attempt making them. While I did have a large amount of helpful supervision in the form of my sister-in-law, I think I could actually produce said nuts again on my own. I even went so far as to use my iPad skills to document the process and translated the recipe from German to English. Nice.

Later in the afternoon, after the men returned from their shopping trip (oh the joy of electronics stores) the entire crew headed to the ice skating rink in Weiden. Now let me first say that I've only been ice skating once before. It was either Junior or Senior year of high school, some sort of youth group event I believe. I spent the entire time just barely not clinging to the wall. Much as I hate to admit it, 16 or 17 was a long time ago. I won't say quite how long, but suffice it to say, I can basically call this my first time ice skating for all the good that prior trip did me.

For those not in the know, ice skates are really very painful contraptions. My ankles are bruised just from strapping them on. And there is really nothing natural about the stance you have to take in order to drift across the ice. Perhaps, once you really get into the swing of things, your body naturally bends to the point that the skates are somehow comfortable, but I never got there. I just did my best to stay standing. By the end of our outing I felt just about confident enough to allow for several feet to separate me from the wall, and I even got to the point where I would actually lift one foot completely off the ice for more than the briefest of moments. I wasn't about to start trying a triple sow cow (yes I'm quite certain that is not how you spell it, but that IS how it sounds) and my one nasty fall was enough to make me think that being even a little bit daring was a little bit too much, but I still managed to have a good time, and even let Mark take me out into the middle for a couple fast loops. Note: I was clinging tightly to his hand the whole time.

In the evening, the girls made dinner for us all. They were very cute about keeping us all out of the kitchen while they prepared it all. There were name cards set for everyone, and all the makings for sandwiches were spread out on the table for us to enjoy. Very fun.

I would also like to note that the two reptiles - Gary the turtle and Gary the chameleon - somehow met their demise over the past year and were replaced by two rodents. One is a rabbit (okay a bit better than a rodent, but still a nocturnal creature in a cage) and the other was some sort of creepy albino sort of something. The rabbit seemed to be allergic to something and kept sneezing all the time, and during the night the other thing kept making sounds like it was trying feverishly to escape. Not the most encouraging sound to hear when you're trying to sleep.

Overall, it was a really great weekend. Even though I'm still not sure what language to speak or even think in at times, I'm doing my best to get a hang of things :)

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