Monday, September 27, 2010


Being September, and being a barefoot/sandal/imitation Croc-loving family, none of us have worn socks for about five months, with a few rare exceptions. Last Thursday Katie needed a pair of socks for a trial ballet class (she decided against taking ballet, but that's another topic) and couldn't find a matching, hole-less pair in her own drawer, so I pulled out the single-sock drawer in my room and found her a pair of matching, white, hole-less socks. Well and good.

Then I added the rest of the single socks that were piling up on my desk, and the drawer could no longer be closed. We only moved here 20 months ago, and before moving I disposed of ALL single socks and ONLY moved pairs! Truly, I did!

Yesterday I got tired of the drawer sitting on the changing table and decided to do something about it. (Yes, that's Elisabeth's hand in the top left corner.)

Quite a few pairs were matched up.

After I'd had the children claim their socks (with much discussion between Jacob and Lukas about whether Lukas wanted the ones that Jacob had outgrown--which was most of them--and a similar discussion between Marie and Katie), and I'd put away Helen's and Elisabeth's (she has worn a pair of socks ONCE in her entire life, and they apparently got washed separately...), I went to look for more single socks in Katie's drawer, and found five...

 ...all of which had the matching one in the single-sock drawer.

And there are still a LOT of single socks left! But at least the drawer closes now.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Latest visit to Immigration

We've been in Cyprus for nearly 20 months now, and I still don't have official permission to be here. We applied for "yellow slips" shortly after arriving--a sort of residency permit or visa, which allows the bearer to stay in Cyprus for an unlimited amount of time and to travel in and out of the country at will.

As my husband and children have German citizenship, and are therefore members of the European Union, their applications were relatively straightforward. (I say "relatively" because Immigration did keep changing their requirements and it took six months for the process to be complete, which was rather unnecessary in my Western European-influenced opinion.) As I am married to an EU citizen, my application should have been equally straightforward. It hasn't been.

Here's a far too long post about part of the saga, in November 2009, trying to get proof of medical insurance.

Then the next day I went back to Immigration in Larnaka and was told my paperwork would be sent to Nikosia.

The saga continued...and I was eventually issued with a single-use re-entry visa so that we could visit my family in the U.S. from the end of December.

In February we got back home and continued discussing things with Immigration, and in March they actually phoned and said my yellow slip was ready...and an hour later called back and said it wasn't. More arguments about health insurance, and then almost as an aside, the comment that the children need to be in school. A few days later I drove to Nikosia to discuss it all with them in person. They finally accepted that I have health insurance, but said that they would have to speak with the Ministry of Education about the children's schooling.

That's the last I posted, but events have continued. In April, the police showed up--sent by the Ministry of Education! (I had a hard time not giggling about it, especially as in the heading of my other blog I say that it's nice homeschooling without worrying about the police showing up...we had plenty of threats via letter, but never did actually have the police show up while we lived in Germany.) They took a statement, then met with my husband a second time to rephrase the statement so that they could drop charges, as they found the whole thing ridiculous.

Then a social worker showed up, also sent by the Ministry of Education. She wasn't interested in anything I had to say, just said that it was her job to make sure the children were okay. I wouldn't let her in the house, but offered to let her see the children, but she said that wouldn't be necessary, but would call for an appointment.

Six weeks later, she did call and asked if I'd spoken with my husband yet, and would it be possible for us to come to her office. I said no: I had six children, one of them four days old. Without missing a beat she asked if she could come to us instead, and did so.

She took plenty of notes, but appeared to be extremely skeptical when we told her that the Cypriot embassy in Germany and Immigration authorities in Larnaka had both told us that as non-Cypriots, we were free to homeschool here in Cyprus. She ended by saying that we should be aware that the police might get involved, and was very surprised to find out that the police had long since come and gone!

So by then it was summer, we had a newborn baby, life was busy and not much happens in the offices in the summer anyway. We tried half a dozen times or so to phone Mrs. Evie, but never got an answer. We waited for August to end, and on Monday this week I finally headed up to Nikosia to, enquire politely at Immigration if they had any news for me.

I didn't get very lost on the way there, which was a nice bonus, and even better, found a parking space in the shade. They've taken down some of the chain-link fence, so it didn't feel quite like walking into a prision this time. Remembering that the doors to the stairwell had been locked last time, I took the elevator to the second floor--and discovered that the door between the stairwell and the elevator was now open, but the door on the other side, into the corridor where the offices are, was locked and said access only to carriers of an access card. In Germany, I would have turned around and gone downstairs to the registration desk. But then again, in Germany, my paperwork would have been finished 18 months ago. Not being in Germany, I stood there for a moment, and when two men went through the door (with an access card), I grabbed the door before it fell closed and simply walked in behind them and down the corridor to Mrs. Evie's office.

Once there I knocked on the door, but there was no answer, so I opened the door to find Mrs. Evie and another lady sitting at their desks. I got straight to the point and said that I've been waiting for 20 months for my yellow slip, they haven't answered the phone, a fax, or an e-mail, I wasn't able to go to my grandfather's funeral (true...but not necessarily totally honest, as I couldn't go anyway because Elisabeth didn't have a passport yet, not to mention it would have been prohibitively expensive...), and I really wanted to go to my sister's wedding in November (the wedding is in December, but we're flying in November), and when would they be finished? Mrs. Evie said, "We don't have e-mail," and then asked me to take a seat while she located my file. She didn't even ask my name.

Once she had the file, she told me that the Ministry of Education had said that we had to put the children in school, and they couldn't give me the yellow slip until I had proof of enrollment for them. I insisted on staying until she'd given me phone numbers for the Ministry of Education, the address, and a map with the location. (I had a map, but seeing as the U.S. embassy, the Ministry of Health, and Immigration have all moved since the map was printed, I wasn't taking any chances. As it turned out, the Ministry of Education IS where it says it is on the map--about a block away from where Mrs. Evie marked it on the map...) During the hour and a half I was in the office, the phone rang at Mrs. Evie's desk half or dozen or so times, and was never answered, either by Mrs. Evie while she was there nor by her colleague while Mrs. Evie herself was out of the office. The phone at her colleague's desk was answered about half of the times it rang.

I'll try to keep the rest short-ish: I went to the Ministry of Education, was led around the building to talk with four or five different people, finally waited an hour to speak with the second-in-command as the Minister of Education was not in the building, and was finally sent off with the address of the Minister, with the advice to write him a letter to ask for an appointment, or just ask directly for permission to homeschool, as it's really not a problem. I also found out while I was there that they had received the reports from the police and from the social worker and then sent the letter to Immigration a month ago saying that our children had to attend school, but of course, nobody could tell me why I'd never been notified by Immigration nor whether the Ministry of Education had any intention of doing anything else about my truant children.

That afternoon my husband happened to run into an acquaintance who has a connection with the Ministry of Education. On Tuesday I delivered (at his request) a letter to him to explain the situation, and on Thursday he let us know that he's on it, that nobody he spoke with at the Ministry of Education understands why we weren't given permission (not to mention never told we should ask...). He expects to have an answer by Monday.

So watch this space! Maybe, just maybe, I'l have a yellow slip by the end of next week...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Justification for my blog name

Oceanside, California, USA
Okinawa, Japan
San Bruno, California, USA
Weimar (two different addresses, three different houses), California, USA
Shin'ichi-cho, Hiroshima-ken, Japan
Tejar del Guarco, Costa Rica
Tuxtla Gutiérrez (three different addresses), Mexico
Düsseldorf (three different addresses), Germany
Essen, Germany
Bornheim, Germany
Ratingen-Lintorf, Germany
Ratingen-Hösel, Germany
Mühleim an der Ruhr, Germany
Lakeside, Montana, USA
Muizenberg, South Africa
Larnaka, Cyprus

So these are just the places where I've actually lived long enough to receive mail. (Well, I can't say whether I received any in Okinawa, Japan--I was three years old and don't remember. But we were there for two months.) I didn't count week-long summer camps, where I also received mail, but I also didn't count the two months in Thailand nor the two weeks in Peru in 2006, nor any place that I was only visiting "for the fun of it", as it were, such as visiting my brother in New Mexico or friends in Switzerland, etc.

Okay, here goes with ALL the countries I've visited:

North and Central America:
United States (still the single country in which I've spent the most time, living there most of the time until age 20, with numerous visits back since then)
Mexico (11 months with an exchange program and one one-week visit)
Costa Rica (ten visits, ranging from two weeks to seven weeks, first time as an exchange student)
Guatemala (one day-trip and several plane changes)
Panama, Honduras (only plane stops--don't really count)

South America:
Peru (two weeks to visit a mission we were considering joining)

Germany (just under 17 years altogether, 17 1/3 years from when I moved there to when I left, plus one visit since leaving)
Cyprus (current location, moved here 20 months ago)
United Kingdom (England five or six times to visit friends, usually five days each, and once for two weeks, Wales once only because I took the ferry from there to Ireland)
Ireland (several days while traveling around Europe by train one summer)
Norway (once while traveling around Europe, twice to visit people)
Sweden (really shouldn't count--drove through on a bus to get to Finland from Norway)
Finland (a couple of days to visit a friend)
Denmark (once while traveling around Europe, one day in Legoland)
Netherlands (many times: lived less than an hour from the border when I lived in Germany)
Belgium (one day in Brussels, several days house-hunting, and other times passing through to get the ferry to Dover from Calais)
France (once on vacation with the family I nannied, many times passing through by plane, train, or automobile)
Switzerland (half a dozen times at least, the longest a two-week backpacking trip with my aunt)
Austria (two days once, and drove through from Switzerland to Germany once)
Italy (three days in Venice)
Spain (one week visiting friends)
Czech Republic (only changing planes)

South Africa (four months with YWAM)

Japan (two months while my dad was in the U.S. Marines, one month as an exchange student when I was 15)
Thailand (two months with YWAM)
South Korea (really only changing planes on the way to Thailand, but got to go into Seoul during the 12-hour layover)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Not exactly an introduction

Friends' reports were correct: this website is very easy to use and photos upload quickly. It took two tries for me to convince Blogger that I wanted THIS time zone, but it's now set correctly. The only question I have is that since I corrected the time zone and it re-dated and re-timed my first post automatically (and correctly), does that mean that if I post from a different time zone, my choices will be either to let the computer think I'm still in Cyprus, OR to have it reset the times for ALL previous posts?

In the meantime, I've now posted a profile photo, a photo that my friend Peggy took of me a few weeks ago, while I was breastfeeding my two youngest children at the computer.

(I had two breastfeeding children when we first got internet connection and e-mail almost 11 years ago and my friend Amy sent me a list of common abbreviations--LOL, DH, DD, DS, and so on. I printed the list out for easy reference, and one day I read NAK in an e-mail from her. I couldn't remember that one and wrote back, "What does NAK stand for? I don't have the list within reach and I'm nursing Jacob and don't feel like moving." She of course wrote back ROFLOL because I'd not been able to look up NAK because I was NAK: Nursing At Keyboard.)

Anyway (I say "anyway" a lot, which I have to, to get back on track after my paranthetical comments, which have a tendency to be longer than the original ones), the photo seemed a good choice because I'm not often on the computer and NOT NAK, although I don't usually have both children at once. Ironically enough, I started the last paragraph with my 11-week-old in the bouncy chair and my thisclosetotwo-year-old climbing on my husband, but I'm now NAK tandem while I sit cross-legged on the couch, the laptop balanced between one knee and the piano bench... (Baby in the cradle hold, older child in the football hold, for anyone who's interested. In the photo, they're the other way around. I also often have both in the football hold, but the little one is now too big to comfortably have them both in the cradle hold at the same time.)

I'm trying to remember if I had a point? I think I was going to list the places I've lived, but I don't think I feel like it now. On e-mail lists I always signed myself "Sheila in Germany" or "Sheila-usually-in-Germany" (for when I was, um, writing while not in Germany...) until we moved to Cyprus in January 2009, so for awhile I was then "Sheila-in-Cyprus-but-was-in-Germany" and finally got comfortable with "Sheila in Cyprus." But at some confusing point--I think it was while we were in South Africa, but going back to Germany after a few months and I knew we'd be moving to Cyprus eventually--I joined a homeschool forum and had to give a name, so settled on "Sheila Somewhere." That name, at least, will always be accurate. Since this blog has no stated purpose except for me to have fun rambling without feeling that I'm imposing on anyone, I couldn't come up with any more accurate name than that.

Here's a photo of my second-youngest daughter, Helen, who will be two years old on Sunday. This photo isn't one of her cutest, but I'm posting it because although it's from a couple of weeks ago this is about what she looks like at the moment ("Mommy-get off the computer!"). And besides, it's so easy posting photos and I don't know what else to put here!

The photo in the first post is, fairly obviously, our whole family, taken about two and a half hours after my youngest daughter, Elisabeth, was born. :-)

And now, having rambled about nothing in particular, I have to come up with a title for this post.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Here I go again

I like the idea of blogging. It took me awhile to like it, though, and I'm still not sure why I do.

My first blog, Trying to Homeschool in Germany, was started because more and more people were asking me to keep them updated on our struggle to gain permission to...guess what...homeschool in Germany. I copied and pasted all of my updates dating back to, I think, July 2004, and was fairly good about updating when there was any news on either our family or in general in Germany with regards to homeschooling. My blog was found by googlers and we even helped two other families get permission, but our family never did. We also spent a significant amount of time outside of Germany, and were in such a precarious legal situation while in Germany that I no longer was able to post much about our own struggles anyway, which rather defeated the original purpose of the blog.

When we moved to Cyprus in January 2009, several people asked me to please continue updating my blog so that they could keep up with us. I ended up starting a new blog that was for that specific purpose, with the grand and glorious title of The New Blog. I've sometimes tried to keep up with it, but haven't done a great job. It hasn't helped that I started getting (a bit too much) into Facebook, and the specific people who asked me to keep my blog updated are all on Facebook now. In fact, one of them is on FB ONLY so that she can see our photos, as that's considerably faster than e-mail and I haven't managed to post photos to the blog, for no reason I can understand.

Then not long ago the host made some changes that I found confusing, not to mention did away with the wonderful template consisting of just books. I don't mind new things--in fact, I very much enjoy new things. What I don't like is changes to things I like! Friends kept recommending, so being up with my very-nearly-two-year-old too early this morning, I decided to have a go.

So, here I go again. If I can now manage to post a photo, I just may post here again someday, from somewhere...