Saturday, January 31, 2009

January 31, 2009: Responses to comments and other misc. stuff

We bought a car today, or rather, signed that we're buying it, but won't have the actual car until the money has been transferred from Germany. (We hope that's what we signed--almost everything here is in Greek AND English, but the piece of paper that we signed today was only in Greek!!) Yesterday we tried to open a bank account here, but we can't do that until we have an address. And we can't establish residency until we have a bank account. I'm a little curious as to how we're going to pay the deposit and first month's rent without a bank account, but I suppose we can transfer that directly as we're doing for the car. Oh, and my European husband and children will have no problem with residency here, of course, but we may have to leave a deposit of something like 800 Euros for me, since I'm not European. I suppose it's because I might have only married a German (14 years ago) and had five children just so I could sneak into Cyprus, leave my husband, and become a financial drain on the Cypriot government...

And I think we've decided on a house. I lost track of how many we saw all together, but we've narrowed it down to two. Actually, if it were up to only Jacob and me, we'd have it narrowed down to one, if only up to my husband, narrowed down to the other one, and Marie can't decide. Lukas, Katie, and Helen don't have much of an opinion. We were supposed to have definitely decided yes or no on the one that I want by this evening, but didn't call yet, so we'll call tomorrow. Today, that is, as it's already past midnight.

Since Sue said I don't have to make her anonymous, hi Sue, and thank you so much for the hug this afternoon--that was SO needed! And I'm clueless about Firefox, Internet Explorer, and the ability to make comments. Nor did I know what RSS was until you told me, but at least I did figure out how to do whatever it was I did that helped......

As for the Greek, your computer may be showing you Greek on your screen, and other people may be seeing it, but for three in Greek, what I'm seeing in your comment is o with a hat, n with a tilde, and e and a with accents! I'd be very curious to know what other people see!

And to Tina: my other blog has all the details on our fight to homeschool in Germany, but the short version of answers to your questions: yes, I'm from the U.S., but no, we didn't exactly "have" to leave Germany, and homeschooling didn't actually end up being the reason we did, although it was the first reason we started looking about four years ago for ways to leave Germany. We're in Cyprus with YWAM.

By the way, when anyone leaves a comment on my other blog, I get an e-mail telling me that a comment has been left. However, I don't for comments left on this blog! It can't be that hard to figure out, but I'm not managing it--anyone want to clue me in?

I'm at the computer so late because the light bulb of the reading light on my side of the bed burned out. I don't know how to go to bed without reading first, so I'd better get a new light bulb tomorrow. I mean, today.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

January 27, 2009: Today...

After 12 days in Cyprus I'd hoped to have a few phrases of Greek, but it's not going very well. The real estate agent who drove us around to several places today was very nice and the first Cypriot to be willing to try to teach me some Greek, so I can now count to five, say that I have five children, pronounce corner store as well as "Pepsi" halfway-correctly (pi is not "pie", it's more like "bee", except that the consonant sound is something in between English "p" and "b"), and almost say "car". She was very patient with me as I read signs as we were driving around, correcting my pronounciation and translating, but I'm afraid that I don't remember much except for what I just listed, and where the accent on "pharmacy" falls...

No, we haven't found a house or apartment yet. We would like the house we saw on Saturday, in the location of the apartment we saw today, with the garden of the first house we saw today, and with the rent of the one on the other side of town...

I was asked what we did with our car and apartment in Germany: the car we sold back to the dealer (we'd bought it just over two years ago, about a year old at the time, but we'd driven as many kilometers as would be normal for a car at least twice it's age, so nobody else was willing to buy it...), the apartment is still on the market and has been since September. The very first people to even look at it were scheduled to come the day after we left Germany, and since we haven't heard anything from the real estate agent, we take it that they weren't interested.

The rest of what I just wrote got rather too long, so I took it out and will post it separately...

January 27, 2009: Part of today's quilt square...

I'm reading a book called "Homeschooling: A Patchwork of Days" by Nancy Lande, a collection of "a day in the life" stories written by 30 different homeschooling families. There are a couple along the lines of "We rose at 5:00 a.m. and had individual devotions and morning exercises and practiced Chinese and cared for the animals before family breakfast cooked by the six-year-old and devotions lead by Dad at 6:15, before which all the children had gotten dressed and made their beds" etc., but most of them were more in the realm of something that I could imagine, and a few were even more in the realm of our reality. I found myself observing us at some points today as if I were writing one of those chapters:
"Around 10:00 we finished cleaning up after breakfast and I went upstairs to borrow some DVDs, as we'd bribed the children with watching a DVD in return for decent behaviour at the Christian Unity Service last night. As we've never had a television and own one 23-minute DVD that we were given for Christmas last year, this was a huge treat and a great motivator. After watching the first episode of "Little House on the Prarie" and working through the children's angry reactions to Pa not having a beard and Reverand Alden claiming that one is saved by attending church, I then read a few things to the children before lunch, after which the two older ones did some math..." etc.

Of course, I could include or leave out things such as reading the same verse out loud about six times before Jacob could answer who went where: the sentence being something like "Paul entered the synagogue" and Jacob couldn't tell me who or where, because he was playing with Helen, playing with a pillow, complaining that Katie was too loud, complaining that he'd rather read Garfield, asking when lunch would be, etc. Or the "did some math" in the afternoon would be more like, "As I took Katie off of the coffee table upstairs AGAIN and tried to chat with S., Jacob said "two and one-tenth", so I checked and said, "Nope, and Lukas, stop being so wild with the cat!" then asked Marie if she needed help, and if not, please go back downstairs and check on Helen, who was asleep, and keep doing math, repeated at Jacob's insistance that 2.05 is 2 1/10 that zero-point-zero-five is NOT one-tenth, took Katie off of the coffee table again, told Lukas to be gentle with the cat, took Helen from Jacob who had just brought her upstairs and asked him if he'd figured out zero-point-zero-five yet to which he stared at me as if I were from another planet and said "It's not zero-point-zero-five, it's TWO and one-twentieth!"..."

Knowing that the above paragraph is accurate, as is the sentence "I read the Bible and history to the children before lunch and they did math after lunch", I of course really wonder what each of the sample days in this book REALLY looked like! (Please, I do hope that some of them were a little closer to ours!)

And despite being fairly anti-television, I suspect that the most valuable "educational" thing we did today was have a LOT of discussion about the Little House on the Prairie episode.

Oh, and Lukas did have another piano lesson today, this time with a book lent to us by S., who lives upstairs and to whom this apartment belongs. :-)

Katie is looking through Lukas's German book and saying "m-m-monkey", "r-r-rabbit", "d-d-dog", etc. which sounds nice and advanced and as if she were learning to read, but as I said, this is his GERMAN book, so so far not one word that she has pretended to read actually even started with the same letter in German as it does in English. Okay, now Lukas read a few words to her (in German), so now she's doing it bilingually: "fl-fl-flower, Bl-Bl-Blume, pl-pl-plate, T-T-Teller." Katie, by the way, did not approve of us trying to get her to say that she's three in Greek today--she kept saying, "No, I'm trés!" I would still really, really like for my children to learn Spanish, but I think that Spanish is going to have to take a back-seat for awhile, so she'll eventually learn to say that she's "tria" and I might eventually learn how to get Greek letters on my keyboard. (Not that I know how to spell "tria" in Greek anyway, nor, for that matter, what the official transliteration might be in English.)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

January 25, 2009: Lukas's first piano lesson

Lukas was watching Marie practice the violin and said he wants to take violin lessons, so I gave him the same answer I gave Marie four or five years ago: you have to learn the piano first. (Lots of reasons, but that's not the topic right now--maybe I'll write about why another time!) So Lukas asked for a piano lesson, and very, very happily, the place we're staying has a piano. Our piano books are all in the shipment, which won't arrive for another few weeks, but his interest is NOW, and in any case, we should take advantage of having access to a piano for the next couple of weeks, since we're unlikely to have a piano once we've found a place to rent...

So I started out by asking Lukas to describe the piano, which he did: "Well, it has keys that make the hammers inside hit those big strings to make a sound, and brakes (peddles...), and shiny wood, and a thing to put up to put the notes on, and designs, and a bench, and our piano at home had a lot of dust on it." (Our piano back in Germany probably doesn't have any dust on it anymore, as we sold it to a German-German family...) I rather liked his description. :-)

We went on to talk about black keys and white keys and patterns and up and down and the musical alphabet and he found all the C's and learned middle-C position, and we're finished for today.

Friday, January 23, 2009

January 23, 2009: Catching up...

Having received much scolding about not updating my blog, I'm going to try to write something this morning. We'll see how far I get...

To start with, I've already given up on the idea of anonymity--I'm just not any good at that. :-) So the absolutely most current updates on each member of the family: my husband, Jörn, is still in pajamas and is standing at the stove making scrambled eggs; Marie just heard me ask Jörn what he is making and suddenly decided to be awake, so has just gotten up; Jacob just had a shower and was hanging up his towel when I started this sentence; Lukas just got out of the shower himself (it's taking a long time to write this sentence...), Katie is dressed and playing with Legos, and Helen is also dressed and is sitting in the buggy (stroller, pushchair--you know, a thing on wheels for transporting small children, or, in our case, mostly for putting them someplace while I'm typing so that she doesn't "help" me) next to me, watching Lukas set the table. Katie and Helen and I were up at 7:00 and have already had breakfast, and then Lukas was up next, so I gave him Helen so I could have a shower and get dressed.

As for where we are: in the guest flat of an "internet friend" (whom we have now of course met in real-life!), in a very nice neighborhood in Larnaka, Cyprus. We stayed in another guest flat the first almost-week, then came here three days ago. The children have been having a wonderful time with the Legos, K'nex, and books, and I've enjoyed the books and piano, but neither as much as I'd like, since we also have internet connection here, so I've spent more time on the internet trying to catch up with e-mail and my favorite blogs than I have reading or playing the piano. Helen, Jörn, and I have a very comfortable bed with a duvet (we don't do well with separate sheets and blankets!) and have no desire to change beds. Then there's a nice room with two beds, in which no child wants to sleep: everyone wants to sleep in the sofa-bed. They keep switching around who sleeps where, so last night Marie had the room with two beds all to herself, Lukas and Katie slept in the sofa-bed, and Jacob slept UNDER the sofa bed.

We're looking for someplace to live. I'd really like to live in this area, where we can get downtown and to shops and so on on foot, and it's also not far from a big park by the salt lakes (which have water and flamingoes right now, but dry up later on), where there are lots of trees, a great playground, and wide paths where the children can run and yell without driving everybody crazy, and where we could ride bicycles, if we had any. (We brought Lukas's bicycle and the bike trailer is coming in the shipment, but I didn't end up having time to wrap up my bike for bringing, so left it at a friend's house for her to sell, and we'd already sold Marie's bike and given away Jacob's, as neither of them were very good, so we need three more bicycles. Jörn doesn't ride a bike, and Katie and Helen can ride in the trailer.) We've looked at a house and three apartments here, two of which we're still considering, and we'd like to see a few more.

We also looked at two houses out "in the country" closer to where Jörn is working. One of them was very easy to rule out, as it had a big, totally un-fenced swimming pool, and the owner repeated several times while we were there that one of the neighbors lives in Israel and only visits a few times a year, but we would need to be very quiet while he is there. Yeah, right. It's not like I would MIND if the children were quiet for a couple of weeks at a time several times a year, but I haven't figured out how to make that work yet. The other house was nicer and Jörn could walk to work from it, but the biggest drawback is that there would be NO place for the children to play. With the beach about 20 meters away, I'd be paranoid about letting them out by themselves. No playground, no park, no place for a six-year-old to ride a bike, the children couldn't go to the bakery or anyplace else by themselves. It had never occurred to me that I might someday have a choice between the city and the country and would CHOOSE the city! I grew up in the country and loved it--but I wasn't the one doing the driving of five children to dozens of different places, and at home, we had four acres of land, lots of trees to climb and places to hide, and lived at the end of a (then) very quiet road, so could roam pretty far pretty safely. If we could have something like that here and could have some animals, I'd be willing to do the driving, and we'd be happier at home with less desire to GO someplace anyway. But that's not what we would have: the children would have considerably less freedom than in the city, especially with big bodies of water (whether a swimming pool or the Mediterranean...) nearby, we wouldn't have animals, AND we would have to drive anywhere.

And the "city" isn't exactly big, nowhere near the size of where we've lived the last seven years (or, for that matter, any of the places I've lived in the last 17 years). And my husband would still only have to drive about 15 minutes to work, and if I did want the car, I could take him to work and pick him up, just as I often did in Germany. Not that we have a car yet, either, but we're looking for one...but this post is more than long enough already, so I won't go into those debates right now!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

January 21, 2009: Link to my "old" blog

I meant to write about the last few weeks, instead, I spent a bunch of time trying to figure out why the link to my old blog wouldn't work. I wasn't successful (it keeps claiming a different URL than I typed in!), so here it is the old-fashioned way: . (Edited May 18, 2013 to add that all of those posts have been transferred to .)

And I think that's all I'm going to write for tonight after all, as I'm very tired! No culture shock, as such (although I'm still confused about how to cross streets...), but somehow exhausting anyway. It's only 9:45, and that would only be 8:45 German time, and I'm going to bed. (I'm sure I'll read at least a little while first, though. :-) )