Thursday, October 22, 2009

October 22, 2009: re-post from my other blog...

A couple of weeks ago a friend told me that she'd read a post at my other blog that she thought I'd accidentally put there instead of here, but I didn't get around to checking it until just now. She was right, so I've copied and posted it here. I'm not sure if it will go in the right order or not, as I'm certainly not going to try anything fancy, just claim the original date and time, which was October 22nd at 10:55 p.m.

Incidentally, I've since figured out just why I was SO tired, although I really should have been completely recovered from the flu by that time. Much to our happy surprise, we're expecting a baby next June! :-) (And the first trip to the doctor--two and a half hours, about three minutes of which were with the doctor--ought to be another post, but not today.)

October 22, 2009: This week so far

We have three computers (well, one isn't ours, but is more-or-less on permanent loan), all of which have different quirks. The main problem with this one is that it has a tendency to be near-dying--WHEN it's working, it's definitely the best of the three. It's the only one that lets me type easily, so I'm taking advantage of it working to try to update.
Passport: after the futile trip to Nikosia on Columbus Day, I chose the next sort-of available time, Thursday afternoon. We borrowed a friend's car so that Jörn could take Lukas to gymnastics, and at 2:00 I left in our car, with Katie and Helen, first taking a friend home. I'd tried quite a few times to call the embassy to confirm the hours, but the recording between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. kept telling me to call between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. However, just after dropping off my friend, I pulled over and tried one more time, as I still needed new photos, and if they couldn't tell me where to get them near the embassy, I preferred to try to get them in Larnaka. I actually talked to a HUMAN!! A very nice human, too, who said that of course I could come that afternoon to renew my passport, no problem--oh, but maybe she should just check if the lady who does that was in. She connected me to someone else, who informed me that under no circumstances could I renew my passport outside of the hours 7:30 to 11:00 (which is, actually, what the website said.)
So...I looked for another place to get passport photos taken (being embarrassed to go to the same place as the week before...) and found a parking space directly in front of a place that gave me FOUR photos (instead of two) for SEVEN Euros (instead of eight.) As expected, I look annoyed and wanting to get out of there in the photo. Oh well.
Monday this week I left at 6:30 a.m., with only Helen, and arrived at the embassy at 7:45, and parked only about a five-minutes' walk away. (A friend came to babysit the other four children as of 8:30, and another friend picked up Jörn at 8:40 for work.) I had to go through three separate security checks, and at the second one they told me I couldn't take anything except my papers, so I said (out loud) to Helen, "Okay Helen, no being hungry or pooping." They ended up letting me take the wipes and a diaper after all, which they put in a page protector along with my wallet, but not the crackers. It's a good thing Helen is very happy with mama-milk, because that's all I was allowed to take in. The rest was put in a cubby, no problem. (A friend of mine renewed her daughter's passport in Frankfurt, Germany, a couple of weeks ago, and had to walk several blocks to a kiosk that does businesss taking a lot of money to hold cell phones of people going to the U.S. consulate--no cubbies there!)
When I got home, I was falling asleep while talking with the friend who had been babysitting, and she talked me into taking a nap. I DO NOT NAP. But I agreed to go lie down. I started to drift off almost immediately, at which point Marie came to tell me she had found something, then Jacob came to ask a question, and then Katie brought me my cell phone, as Jörn was calling. And then I actually went to sleep and slept an hour and a half.
The afternoon was fairly calm, although the children were rather horrid about going to bed (Jörn has a regular meeting Monday evenings), and then when Jörn got home at 9:00 he brought along a couple of friends who needed to talk, who stayed until about 11:30.
Tuesday I went to Tots in the morning, which despite having something like 20 children, is considerably more restful than my own five at home. Katie and Helen mostly bee-bop around doing their own thing--I occasionally have to rescue some child's hair from Helen, and I did play peekaboo with Helen in the playhouse for awhile, and she fell off of her chair during snack time, but nothing dramatic. Then we took Sue home and visited with her for a bit, but it got exhausting chasing Helen and telling Katie to keep her feet off of the furniture, etc., so we were home in plenty of time for lunch. In the afternoon I let Marie stay home (Jörn was out) while I took Lukas to gymnastics, but I spent so much of the time trying to keep Helen and Katie off of the mats (Jacob helped by chasing Helen a few times while I was dealing with Katie) that I didn't get to watch Lukas much or listen to the Greek. Tuesday evening we had a prayer meeting here, but only until about 10:00. (Oh, and I translated and proofread some things for a friend, but it wasn't much.)
Wednesday I worked at the YWAM preschool--oh yeah, kind of a major thing that I haven't managed to mention here on the HOMESCHOOLBLOGGER blog, but as of last week, I'm working Wednesdays and Fridays in a preschool. (Those are the only two days that it happens...) I take Katie and Helen, and there are two other preschool children, as well as the 6-year-old daughter of the leader. I was VERY apprehensive about it all, but it's working out well, and it's so peaceful there. The three older children are at home with Jörn--Wednesdays his regular meeting happens here at home (the children have lists of independent and cooperative, non-parent-needed, work to do, and instructions to interrupt only if there's blood, which there was this Wednesday, but not too serious), and Friday is Jörn's morning off.
Wednesday afternoon we went to Sue's house to watch Swallows and Amazons--the children had actually started watching it Sunday evening on the "new laptop" (the one that we bought new just over a year ago, which has Vista, which we really, really can't stand), but about 15 minutes into it it started getting funny and then quit altogether, and our permanently-borrowed computer doesn't have a DVD player, and the "old laptop" (the one I'm using at the moment, bought used on E-bay 3 1/2 years ago and excellent in every way except for it's tendency to need repairs that would cost thousands of Euros if we didn't have friends who have done it for us for free twice in the last month...) wasn't working. Actually, by Wednesday it had been repaired again, but we'd already arranged to go to Sue's, and the children were REALLY excited about that. A much bigger screen and actual sound weren't too bad, either. :-) Shortly before we were going to leave there, we found out that the couple who was supposed to come to dinner at our house wasn't coming after all, so we invited Sue and Richard to dinner. After dinner we played Settlers of Catan with them AND with Marie and Jacob (who have been begging to play with Sue and Richard for ages), with Lukas, Katie, and Helen all trying to help. It was fun. I think. It was pretty loud, so kind of hard to tell. Then the children went to bed and we played a nice peaceful game.
Today...Jacob complained that he got woken up by my shouting (at Lukas, who had just dropped a rock about the size of Katie's head within about two centimeters OF Katie's head...), but I refused to apologize when I looked at the clock and saw that it was 10:00. Other than that, the day wasn't too hectic. I took Lukas to gymnastics--this time Jacob stayed home, and Marie and Katie watched, and I stayed in the car with Helen, who had just fallen asleep, and sorted photos on the laptop. Then a friend dropped off two of her children while taking another one of them to the doctor (and she had her baby with her, too), so another couple of peaceful hours, because of course the children all went off to play. After the doctor's appointment, they came back here for dinner, which was very nice, although a bit loud. But not as loud with nine children as it had been last night with only our five...I don't get it.
Tomorrow: preschool, Jacob and Lukas to Discoveries in the afternoon, Marie to Youth Group in the evening, YWAM dinner, and bed.
And I just realized that it's nearly 11:00 p.m. I'm looking forward to the time-change this weekend, as I'm not really enjoying the 7:00 a.m. getting-up on Wednesdays and Fridays...

Monday, October 12, 2009

October 12, 2009: The best-laid plans o' mice and men...

Our plan today was to go to the U.S. embassy in Nikosia to apply for a new passport for me (according to the website, only open from 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.), and then to Ikea for a growing list of "needed" items. One potential item was some sort of brainstormed idea for a hamster cage, cheaper (or at least bigger and nicer) than the only hamster cage at the pet store we visited last week, so on the way to Nikosia, we stopped at another pet store in case they had more acceptable hamster cages. We also had something to pick up at the post office, so not knowing if it might be something big, we thought it would be better to drive there than to walk.

However, this was what happened...

We started with the pet store that we'd gone to specifically because they were reputed to have the most hamster supplies--no hamster cages at all.

Then we went to the post office. As one street was blocked off, we turned into another and I jumped out and walked to the post office. It was only an envelope, but it had come open, so I had to sign for it. (It was the invitation to my host sister's wedding in Costa Rica, which is of course cool, but as we can't go, it made me sad...) Then when I walked back to where I thought the car wasn't there. I walked back to the post office and retraced my steps, totally confused, wondering how I was ever going to figure out where we were parked, since I had obviously gotten it wrong. I wondered around several blocks, and as I returned the third or fourth time to where I thought the car had been, Jörn came driving around the corner. That WAS where he had been, but he'd had to move, because someone parked (and left) their car just opposite ours, in the narrow one-way street, so nobody could get by. Because of all the one-way streets and several of them closed because of construction, it took him quite awhile to get back--he couldn't just drive around the block.

Already running rather late, we finally headed out of town, with Helen screaming. We sang all of her favorite songs and a few others, and I finally said that it didn't matter whether we made it to the embassy, but we HAD to stop. So we stopped, filled Helen up with mama-milk, and then kept going. I suppose there were speed-limit signs on the freeway, but I didn't get the impression that my husband paid any attention to them. For that matter, nobody else did, either--we were being passed more often than not.

We found easily enough the place labled on the map as "U.S. Embassy", arriving at 10:55 a.m. Rather than try to find someplace to park, I jumped out of the car while Jörn waited, to ask if this WAS the embassy (there was plenty of barbed wire and several soldiers on duty, but it seemed rather strange that there was a Cypriot flag and a Greek flag, but no U.S. flag...), and if I could still get in 5 minutes before closing time. Well, it wasn't--it was a Cypriot army base, and has been for a very long time. They could tell me that the U.S. embassy was somewhere completely different, but not how to get there.

So although now it was obviously too late, we thought we'd at least head for the other side of town, near the presidential palace and the German embassy, to see if we could find the U.S. embassy to be able to get there more easily another day. We actually found it very easily--it had a huge flag, flying high, which my husband spotted from the next street. (And my German-born children started singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" when they saw it, which despite my 19 years outside of the U.S. and my general lack of patriotism, I thought was pretty cool!) Again, my husband stopped the car and I jumped out to ask the lady on duty if there was any chance that the website was wrong and I could still get in, although it was 11:15. Well, the website was wrong: for U.S. citizens, the embassy is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., every day except for Cypriot and U.S. holidays. Today happens to be a U.S. holiday. I thought about it for a moment and said, "Oh...Columbus Day?" but the lady didn't know--she's from Romania and has lived in Cyprus for 20 years. This happens to be my 20th October outside of the U.S. (making it more than half of my Octobers, as this is my 39th October...), the 19th consecutive one, so I'm not too up on U.S. holidays.

Back in the car, and we went to Ikea. We did find some of the stuff on our list, and some that wasn't, but several things that were on our list were not to be found. That's fairly typical of a trip to Ikea, so I suppose not so bad. And I'll be going to Nikosia again at least twice in the relatively near future--once to apply for my passport and once to pick it up--so I can stop by Ikea again.

I did get something to use as a base for the hamster cages (Jacob and Lukas are both getting hamsters...), but still have to go to a hardware/DIY store for heavy wire mesh, and then figure out how to attach it, etc.

When we got home, I wanted to put the passport application and all of our passports away, and couldn't find the photos that I had taken last week. They were nowhere to be found--not in my bag, not in the car. I even looked through all of the pages of all six passports (Jörn had his own in his own bag--I only had the children's and mine) and the three books in my bag, and finally cleaned out the car. I had everything on my lap between the not-embassy and the actual embassy, and my suspicion is that when I picked up my passport, wallet, and passport application to jump out of the car the second time, I missed the photos, so they fell off my lap (and out of the car) as I got out, and are now on the ground across the street from the U.S. embassy. I HATE having my photo taken, and it was actually the best passport photo I'd ever gotten (depsite the huge pimple on my chin), because Jacob was with me and made me laugh right before the photo was taken. Now I'm feeling sulky (because of the cost and the fact of another photo at all) and have to go get more expensive stupid-sized photos taken, so it will be a much more typical photo that I'll be stuck with for the next 10 years. (The U.S. requires 5 cm by 5 cm--and then CUTS THEM DOWN TO THE EXACT SAME SIZE AS EUROPEAN PASSPORT PHOTOS!!!! So I always have to pay extra for the weird size and only get two photos instead of four. For a short time (I think Marie's second passport and Lukas's first, in the summer of 2002), they did accept European passport photos, but mostly I've had to get the U.S.-size ones--that's 11 passports just in the last 12 years, and two more are due for renewals next year.)

I was about to say that I'm finished with my whining for tonight, and then the computer erased that sentence for me, which reminded me that I'm on the "new laptop", which likes to erase things if I bump it just right, because the "old laptop", which I like much better when it is working, is not working again.

Now I'll stop, and go to bed early. Tomorrow has to be a better day.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October 1, 2009: Now I know why Lukas has a bed

Jacob hasn't liked sleeping in a bed since he was about four or five--he's mostly slept on the floor. For the last six months or so, Lukas has also been sleeping on the floor more often than not. Last week the boys cleaned their room completely, then put colored tape on the floor to define "Jacob's", "Lukas's", and "shared" areas of the room. In the process, Lukas gave me several blankets to put away, as he decided (at the end of September, after four months of Cypriot summer...) that it was really too warm for so many blankets.

Last night he asked me to give him some blankets, as the floor was too hard. I said, "Well, you COULD sleep on the mattress, you know!" His eyes lit up and he said, "That's a good idea! I can put the mattress on the floor under the bed, then when I throw toys on the bed, they won't bounce!!"

So now Lukas has his mattress on the floor under his bed. The same bed we brought to Cyprus because Lukas was so heartbroken at the thought of leaving it behind--it was the only children's bed we brought. He's slept in it maybe three times since we came. But at least he has a good place to keep toys without them bouncing.

What I haven't figured out yet is why we bought Jacob a bed when we got here. He didn't want one, and didn't want to lose that space in his room, but I thought he should have one. Maybe for the same reason my parents insisted on getting me a bed (a futon, actually) when I gave my bed to my little sister when she was big enough for a bed, since I preferred sleeping on the floor anyway and didn't want a bed taking space up in my room. Not that I know what that reason was, nor do I know why I preferred sleeping on the floor myself...