I haven’t been out & about taking photo’s the last couple of months. But this is not a whine about that (though I could whine a whole blog post full), instead it’s an excuse for me to post some photo’s of Dane take late last Spring. I have Dane on the brain today.

Dane has been a rockstar! He is the happiest boy. He gets himself up. Feeds himself. Leaves for school on his own. Comes home on his own. He is just a shining ray of sunshine.

With all my struggles these past months, I had been really dreading Dane going back to school. He loves school, but homework? The last 4+ years have been a nightmare. Once he got past 1st grade, he surpassed my ability to do German homework. And there was a lot of German homework.

Every day we had fighting. Arguing. Crying. Me and him. Homework sucked the light out of our days. It built a wall between Dane & I. German school days are shorter. In elementary school days typically end around 12:25. Families are expected to contribute to the school day and homework is a big part of the learning process.

Dane’s school was sympathetic to our plight and Dane was in homework-after-school groups. He also had reduced workloads in German. Still, there was strife in our home and a lot of mornings with tummy-ache’s and a crying boy in my car on the way to school.

Enter Gemeinschaftsschule (The Final Countdown). High school. GMS. It’s still relatively new in Germany. It’s not the same in every place. It’s not available in every place. Ours is perfectly tailored for Dane.

Dane, together with a social worker, chooses what level to be in for each subject. For him that means beginning German, and advanced math. He is terrible at German, fantastic at math (and English LOL). It means he cannot only understand the lessons and handle the workload but he is succesful in every one of his classes. He is not bored, he is just happy. So incredibly happy.

Plus, added bonus, homework is done at school and at school only. No homework in our house. Our happy, happy house. He meets with the social worker every week. They talk about his classes: Is he challenged? Is it too much? Is he finishing the assigned homework at school? Is he having any issues with teachers? Fellow students? It is beyond fantabulous.

Dane is my last. Six of six. I wish this school, this teaching style, had been a choice for all my kids. Dave & I are both overjoyed to have a child so happy, so excited to go to school, so engaged with learning.

Because Dane is my last, I have been consciously choosing to do more activities with him. Do those activities that are his speed. So much of our travels have been my speed. Museums, historical sights, wine tasting… not so much boy stuff. Not that he’s complained, but this year I’ve tried to mix it up a little & toss in stuff just for Dane.

Last May, when I had my all-classes reunion for my elementary school, in my hometown, it was during Dane’s 1st summer break (Pfingstferien, or Pentacost break). It was just me & Dane on a roadtrip to Holland. I decided to surprise him with a little something just for him.

We drove to my hometown in Holland. Past the house I grew up in. All the things of my childhood. And then we drove outside of town, into the woods, through twists & turns winding up at a typical Dutch camping. The Dutch love campings!

A camping is a campground. There is usually an office, with a little grocery store, maybe a snackbar with fries & ice creams. While in America most people would pitch a tent, in Holland most people park a camper. A RV. Many Dutch park their RVs for the summer, either visiting frequently or staying 2-4-6 weeks at a time. It’s always amazed me that my people love to go on vacation an hour from home.

The campground I picked, ‘t Schinkel, had one extra option besides tent, camper or “chateau”. They had dragon eggs! I found this by accident, looking for a place near my hometown. And why wouldn’t I choose a dragon egg to sleeep in!?!? It was absolutely perfect for me & Dane.

Dane understands Dutch. But he’s not fluent. So I checked in, speaking my fastest, most dialect-y Dutch so he wouldn’t understand we were checking into a dragon egg. I had to fight to keep the surprise. Finally I gave him the key, the camping map, and he ran ahead. Excited to drop our backpacks & sleeping bags and go to the playground already.

I wish I’d been fast enough to capture his face when he came running back…

“MOM! We are sleeping in an EGG!!!”
“AN EGG!!!”

It was a hit. It was super comfortable to boot, and we had the night of our lives. This was bonding done right.

Dane & the dragon egg

I have a dozen Dane & dragon egg photo’s LOL!

The dragon egg convention

Inside, reading, because no wifi. Heaven.

Bonus? The dragon eggs are right next to one of the playgrounds.

Down the “road” there were tire swings.

The road to the camping. The road I rode almost daily as a child on my bike.

One of our many new friends at the camping.

Selfie! Me & Dane