November was a busy month! It started with the departure of friends from Canada and feels like it's just kept right on moving. A side note; after visits from home (and sometimes just from Skype dates!) there seems to be more homesickness that sets in. The visits are so worth it, though, so please come! :) We celebrated Doug's birthday over the course of a few days this year. I came up with a plan to give him a little gift each day that makes us think of him. It was fun to come up with ideas (as simple as S&V chips!) and celebrate him in the days leading up to his birthday. I made a special Mexican meal on his actual birthday which is a food theme that's pretty popular at our house.

While people back home in Canada were observing Remembrance Day, Germany was celebrating St. Martin, who was a Roman soldier. From Wikipedia:

"The most famous legend of his life is that he once cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar during a snowstorm, to save the beggar from dying from the cold. That night he dreamed that Jesus was wearing the half-cloak Martin had given away. Martin heard Jesus say to the angels: "Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptised; he has clothed me." [2]

The schools and towns have Lantern Festivals to honour him. There was one at CSK and one at Nadia's Kindergarten. Nadia was sick for almost a week, so she missed out on the St. Martin's Day festivities altogether. Doug stayed home with her, and Keegan and I caught a ride with some friends to Wollbach (where CSK is) to take part in their celebration. We walked around the town, the kids holding their lanterns (some of which have candles in them) and every so often we'd stop and the band would play a St. Martin's Day song and the crowd would sing along. After this parade was over, we met back at the school for Bockwurst in a bun, pretzel bread, Kinderpunsch and Glühwein. Glühwein is mulled wine. Think apple cider, but instead of apple juice they use wine. I think it comes out around St. Martin's Day and then is served at all the Christmas Markets.

We've been getting to know a great family who lives in a nearby town. Their son is in Keegan's class and I met his mom at a parents meeting at the school. We were both excited to discover that we have a few things in common. She was born in Canada, but raised in Europe as her parents were/are missionaries. Her family spent some time back in Canada during her high school years and she went to a high school in Winnipeg, so when I said we lived outside of Winnipeg and near Steinbach she knew what I was talking about! Doesn't sound like much, but when you're halfway around the world these small things are huge! Anyway, we enjoyed lunch at their place one Sunday, and the following weekend Keegan had his first non-family sleepover at their house as part of his friend's birthday celebration. What a blessing they are to us!

I also had the opportunity to take part in a cooking class in Kandern. Two German women teach the class to English speaking women. The class was taught in English and we learned to make Maultaschen, which are similar in many ways to Ravioli. We made three different kinds, and prepared them three different ways. My cooking partner and I made the Maultaschen with ground veal and beef and were encouraged to taste the raw meat before we filled our dough to make sure it was seasoned well. The meat was fresh from a butcher and the instructors insisted that when you know where your meat comes from (and it's fresh), there's no problem with sampling it raw. So, I did. And it was tasty! Once they were all cooked up, we ate them together as a group. We had them in a beef and vegetable broth, fried with onions, and in a creamy mushroom sauce. Delicious!

We've also enjoyed meals with a couple of other families after church, and also experienced our first American Thanksgiving! We had turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole (the kind that's topped with marshmallows!), devilled eggs and pumpkin and apple pie. It was a feast! And how fun to take part in different traditions. Also, between Canadian and American Thanksgiving, all of the dorms host a big Thanksgiving supper. HBR invited our family to be a part if theirs, but unfortunately it fell on the evening that Nadia started to feel sick. Doug and Keegan went and enjoyed the celebrations without us, and even brought home some of the leftovers. :)

November also saw the beginning of our small group with neighbours across the street who work for LEAP, which is part of Janz Team Germany. Our goal is to meet once a week on Wednesday nights, and hopefully we'll get people in our neighbourhood involved, too. We'll keep you posted on what we're up to!