Week 9 – Westward Journey

We successfully posted our I-539 application to extend our nonimmigrant status. It turned out that the most significant challenge was to arrange for the required payment of the $ 370 processing fee.

The check or money order must be drawn on a bank or other financial institution located in the United States and must be payable in U.S. currency.

Is it only me, or does it seem rather contradictory to ask a nonimmigrant to make out a check from a bank located in the United States, as this requires to open a bank account with them? And does anyone born after 1980 know what on earth a money order is?! It’s a piece of paper that looks like a check and that the U.S. postal service can issue on your behalf. Took me and Benni a visit to a local bank to reveal this rather useful piece of information. Now we can only wait to see whether our application will get accepted. We should know by the end of June.

Other than that, we have started to prepare for our return to Berlin. I know this sounds crazy, but with two kids you need to plan ahead!

Good news: After applying for the third year in a row, Benni got accepted into the JFK Friendship Center, a kindergarten affiliated with the school that Mieke and I attended. Upon our return Benni will join the “Lucky Kids”, a truly bilingual institution that should hopefully promote Benni’s continuously improving English.
Bad news: because Alex is too young he will not be able to join before August 2019.
We have thus started applying at kindergartens located near “Lucky Kids”.  Until now a rather frustrating exercise, but we will chirp away until we find something suitable for Alex.

On this note, I would like to share some of Benni’s best Denglish quotes that have emerged over the past couple of weeks:

  • Hier dürfen heute keine cars fahren. Das ist die perfekte Rennstrecke for me.
  • I go here, Mama, can you help mir?
  • Jetzt kommt der biggest one ever! (referring to a stone that he wants to throw in the water)
  • This one is big, aber nicht so big wie the others. (referring to another stone)
  • Nicht so doll wie you can! (asking me to hit the table)
  • Mama, may I drink was aus your glass?

He starts to sound like his parents! And Jen!

We have further applied at several swimming schools to ensure that we can utilise the winter to set Benni on his journey to earn his Seepferdchen. We know that this won’t be the case for some time, but Bennis has set his heart on learning how to swim, ever since he found out that Magnus in fact can already swim (Magnus = 5 years, Stine’s youngest son). In addition, we have reapplied for gymnastics as both boys seem to dearly miss their weekly class balancing on every ledge that they can find…

Our week in bullet points:

  • We spent three nights at Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park, Michigan. We did three hikes, with the Union Mine interpretive trail turning out to be a real treat. While learning about the copper mine located underneath our feet we hiked along a beautiful little river that supplied the mine with the energy to haul the rubble from the mine shafts in the mid 1800s. Benni has become a stout hiker. A distance of 5 km is absolutely no problem.
  • We stopped by our real first old school road side diner. We made sure to top off the experience with an old-fashioned chocolate malt!
  • We stopped at KOA Journey in Duluth in desperate need of doing laundry (10 days) and taking a shower (4 days). Luckily, all parks from here on out will be fully upon, so that this problem should not reoccur anytime soon. Our campsite further turned out to be quite beautiful and we used the opportunity to roast some sausages over the campfire.
  • On our way west, we stopped at Sibley State Park, MN. We spent the day hiking 3.3 miles to Mount Tom observation tower and took a dip (or rather the boys) in Lake Andrew.

We are now camped in Lake Herman State Park in South Dakota, due to arrive in the Badlands tomorrow!

The compass reads WEST!

Until next week!

P.S. Summer has arrived! I personally already think it’s almost too hot 😊