Sunday, January 23, 2011

Walking, rambling, a Sunday-in-my-life...

Getting a walk in the morning isn't that straightforward, between awake and asleep children and my husband's work hours, not to mention my own tendency to stay up far too late. But every single time I do go for a walk, I'm glad I did. Last summer there were many days that I never stepped outside even for a moment, and I'm sure I'll get there this summer, too, but right now, there's no excuse for that! Still, a goal of actually "going for a walk every day" is simply never going to be met, so I've made it much simpler: get out of the house at least once every day, even if it's only to get the mail! (Getting the mail means going out the front door, down four steps, and maybe three or four meters to the mailbox on the front gate. We have a new mailbox, incidentally, which I just put up last week. The old one was rusty and didn't lock well, but one reason it didn't lock well was because of how I'd pried it open when Helen put the only key we had for it, INTO it. Then Katie did that and the second prying-open wasn't any better for it. The new one looks nicer, of course, but the chief advantage is that we have TWO keys for it, and yes, we have them on two separate keyrings!) I blogged about my walk last Saturday, and then Sunday I walked to the playground and back with the little girls (and I climbed a tree, which was the first time in WAY too long, and not a very big tree, but still very enjoyable!), which isn't far, but it was a walk. I did get out of the house (and further than the mailbox, though not always much further) every day this last week, but didn't get another attempt at a "real" walk until Saturday. Once again, I meant for it to be a peaceful walk by myself (well, with Elisabeth, but she doesn't talk much yet!), and once again, children kept waking up. I got up at 7:01 and could have been out of the door by 7:05 on my own, but didn't actually get out of the door until 8:05, with Lukas, Katie, and Helen again. Unfortunately, they weren't in such great moods and I really would have rather left at least some of them home, but I also wanted to let Jörn sleep, so I took them all.

We went down to the nature path at the salt lake again, turning right this time. There were several burned areas, which we thought was strange, and quite a lot of erosion in one area.

Running water was exciting to see (not too common here!), but it wasn't exactly where it belonged, so a little concerning. Lukas and Katie imagined exploring up the waterfall and wished they had boots; I was glad they didn't.

We got all the way to the Venetian aquaduct at that end of the nature path, but mean Mommy wouldn't let them go up on it this time.

Helen is actually the very safest up there, as the sides are at least up to her elbows, I'd guess (the only time I was up on it it was not long after we arrived here, close to two years ago), but since the sides are not much higher than my knees, the thought of walking up there with Elisabeth made me a little nervous, especially while trying to keep an eye on three little ones. Well, on Lukas in particular, whom I wouldn't put past the attempt to sit on the edge and dangle his feet over. Nope, not on my watch.

The walk home wasn't so great, as certain short people were complaining that it was too far and we should have come in the car or with bicycles.

Note: Helen was not one of the complainers.

We get onto the nature trail pretty much right in the middle, and there's a sign on it at the end saying that it's four kilometers long, and we're about 500 meters from the trail, so that means we walked about five kilometers. I'd say that's pretty good for legs that are only two years and four and a half months old, and have been walking for a year less than that! Anyway, exactly one hour and 59 minutes after leaving, we arrived home, I more-or-less glad I'd gone, but still determined to go sometime soon by myself!

Today we all went to Larnaca Community Church (LCC), which Marie has been attending for a couple of months and we visit sometimes, but the reason today was that the youth band was playing today, with Marie on the violin. Marie went an hour earlier than the rest of us for rehearsal, the rest of us went out the front door at about 9:40. We could have gone in two cars (or squished into one), but I decided that I'd rather walk, and then Jacob joined me. Quite the opposite of yesterday, rambling along at the speed of a two-year-old (or to be more honest, the speed of a five-year-old, which, when she's not hyper, is not very fast), I could barely keep up with Jacob. We played some limbo under some tree branches on the way, which Jacob may think was to have fun, but was an excuse on my part to slow down! Nearly there, we met my friend Sue walking the same way, and when I commented that Jacob set quite a pace, she suggested that he carry Elisabeth. So I handed her over, and while I'm not sure it slowed Jacob down any, it did give me a chance to catch my breath!

When we arrived, not much after Jörn and the other children, as he'd had to negotiate children into their respective seats and buckle them in, then park, unbuckle them, and walk from the parking lot, I discovered that Elisabeth had dropped her butterfly rattle. Jacob suggested he go back and look for it. He actually walked all the way back to the house, but didn't find it.

I don't remember much of the church service--Katie seemed to think it was cool to act like a two-year-old, and while I like two-year-olds very much, I prefer them actually AT that age (and size), and also preferably one at a time. Helen was also being a pretty two-ish two-year-old. Sue ended up going in the baby room with Helen, shortly after that Jacob, Lukas, and Katie went to Sunday school, and then when Elisabeth started singing (happily, but loudly, and after the singing had finished...), I went and joined Sue and Helen.

After church Sue went to check her post office box and then was going to come back to LCC and see if I was still there so we could walk home together. Elisabeth was so fussy, though, that I left not too long after Sue did. But I walked relatively slowly (partly just enjoying getting to set my own pace, partly waiting for Sue, but also partly looking for the butterfly rattle!), and then when I got to the first place in the shade where I could sit down (on a low wall around the same park/playground we'd been to the two previous Sundays), I sat down and was finally able to calm Elisabeth down. Sue met me there and we walked on together, still looking for the rattle. It occurred to me that when I find a baby toy or sock or something like that on the sidewalk, I put it up on a wall or a fence, so that dogs won't get it and so that the person who lost it might still find it, so I wasn't just looking at the ground--and sure enough, the butterfly was lying on a wall, near where Jacob and I had been playing limbo. :-)

We went into the convenience store on the corner where I turn into a side street to go home, and Sue crosses the main road to go to her home, so that I could buy credit for my cell phone, and then we stood there on the corner talking. After awhile a lady came out and...handed me Elisabeth's butterfly rattle! I guess I set it down on the counter when I paid, but I really have no memory of having done anything with it at all...And then my phone rang, and it was Jacob asking when I was getting home. They'd passed us in the car, but I hadn't seen them because of looking for the rattle and chatting with Sue...not to mention that I hadn't been looking out for them!

Still, I was home by 12:10, and then Jörn and the boys left for the house church, which starts loosely at 10:00 or so, but people arrive at all times. Jacob and Lukas didn't want to miss out on Sunday school, which supposedly starts at about 12:00, but hadn't started yet by the time they got there. I like some things about the house church very much, including, in theory, that it's not tied to the clock...but it does sometimes go on very long, and that's not really a wonderful experience for hungry small children. Or their mother. Last summer I often went home when Sunday school started, taking Katie and Helen with me, and then went back for lunch, but in the last couple of months, Katie and Helen have been very restless during the singing, as well. So three weeks ago I finally just decided that instead of going every week and sticking it out as long as I could stand it and then leaving with fussy children and being resentful, that I just wasn't going to go at all, at least not a regular basis. However, Helen had been asking all last week, every time we were in the car, "Go Panos' house?" and every time I said no and told her where we were going she sighed and said sadly, "Go Panos' house." So...I thought we'd go ahead and go for lunch today. So when the service was over (at 1:40), Jörn phoned me,  and I got the three little girls in the car and headed over there for lunch, which didn't start until at least 2:15. It was great seeing people, though, and Katie and Helen also enjoyed it. We left again at 3:30 so I could drop three girls from church off at basketball, since that was on my way home anyway, and we also waved to Marie and Andrea, who were walking there from home.

Once home, I hung up a third load of laundry (I'd put one load on when I got up and hung it up before we left for LCC and started another, and hung up the second load and put on the third when I was home before lunch) and started a fourth, packed some things together, and waited for the other car to get home, and then we all walked to Richard and Sue's for a game and dinner. We enjoyed that very much, as always, but Helen was quite tired and getting hyper even before we started dinner, and I think vegging out on videos while Jacob and the adults played a game rather hyped up Lukas and Katie, who were bouncing off the walls by the time we left. They were in bed within ten minutes of us getting home, though, and I then read three chapters in the latest Jan Karon book that I borrowed from Sue, and sitting on the couch with a sleeping, nursing baby and hearing nothing but the click of the laptop keys is rather pleasant. I've enjoyed my quiet evening so far and am looking forward to a more peaceful Monday!

And it occurs to me that I still have a load of laundry to hang up...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Morning walks

Thursday we received two package slips, one for a package to be picked up at the local post office, one at the customs office of the main post office. I suggested that I pick them up yesterday morning before Jörn left for work, as he otherwise would have gotten up 20 minutes earlier to drive to the two post offices. We left it that if I was still asleep when he got up at 7:40, he'd wake me and I'd drive, but if I woke up on my own earlier, I would walk. I was pleased to be awake already when Helen woke up at 6:15, and even happier when she only nursed briefly and then fell back asleep. I got up and got dressed and even had some time on my own, as the post offices don't even open until 7:30! I left a little past 7:00, with Elisabeth in the Ergo carrier, and was surprised to arrive at the first post office only 16 minutes later. It takes considerably longer with children along! That was of course too early, so I went down to the sea front (unfortunately, I didn't have my camera--it was gorgeous) and ambled on to the big post office, where I picked up one package. (Photos from Kodak Gallery, in a rather huge box for only 200 photos--I took them out of the box and left the box there.) Then back to the small post office, where I got a package from my mother with a sweatshirt Lukas had left at my parents' house and a rattle that Elisabeth had left there. Elisabeth seemed very pleased to see her rattle again, and Lukas was thrilled with his sweatshirt. :-)

When I got home, Helen, Katie and Lukas all greeted me enthusiastically, and I discovered that Helen had woken up only minutes after I'd left, so Jörn hadn't gotten to sleep in after all. :-( I was disappointed for him, but also for me, because I had enjoyed the walk so much I was already thinking about how I could do that again. Then last night Jörn said he was happy for me to go for a walk today if I wanted, so I went to bed early enough to wake up at a reasonable hour, pleased to be awake at 6:30 this morning.

However...Elisabeth and Helen were both very much enjoying their morning mama-milk and I didn't want to wake up Jörn, so I lay there in bed letting it get later and later. Helen woke up Jörn, then, and I commented that I'd have liked to take a walk, but now it was too late, and Helen said, "Helen walk too?" I said, "Well, I was kind of hoping to walk fast..." and she said, "I run! Like this!" and jumped out of bed to show us. :-) So I got up and got dressed after all. As soon as Helen and I (and Elisabeth!) were ready to leave, though, Katie woke up. So we waited for her to get dressed. Then as we were ready to leave, Lukas woke up. So we waited for him to get dressed. My peaceful morning walk turned into a 90-minute ramble with four children...but at least Jörn got to sleep!

I did take the camera today, so here are a few photos. First, the salt lake with water:

And to contrast, here's a photo of the same place in October:

Lukas and Katie were having a great time using their imagination, running ahead and calling out what they were discovering in their explorations. They followed bear tracks and made secret signs and cut through undergrowth with a bush knife and made plans for a sea voyage and I don't know what all else. Helen tried hard to keep up and it was cool seeing how Lukas and Katie took care of her. Here the three posed for a photo:

Elisabeth would have liked to get out of the Ergo carrier and follow them, but as she's not even crawling yet, I wouldn't let her:

At one point Helen asked me to carry her, and when I wouldn't, Lukas offered. He actually only carried her for maybe a minute--she walked the rest of the time.

This is the grove of trees where there used to be a very nice playground. We played there in December 2009, then were out of Cyprus for six weeks, and when we went back a day or two after getting home again, discovered that they had removed it. We'd hoped that maybe they were just going to replace it, but nothing has happened there since.

Part of our walk was on the soft "nature path" (and off of it, going cross-country), this photo was obviously taken in the paved part of the park:

Pretty close to home, we discovered a nearly-dead playground, with a dangerous-looking slide. Helen was eager to go on the "Sy-lide!" but when she got to the top of the steps, decided that discretion was the better part of valour and went back down the steps.

There apparently used to be a just some cut-off poles and two lonely seats:

The rest of the walk was through a residential area and I didn't take any photos.

I still hope to get in another walk or two on my own in the next few months, before it's too hot after 7:00 a.m....

Friday, January 14, 2011

Two years in Cyprus!

Two years ago today we moved to Cyprus. Nervous, excited, full of curiousity. This was our very first glimpse of Cyprus, from the airplane:

Two days later, while on a walk together as a family exploring our new home of Larnaka, the children started playing on the beach. Having come from 10 degrees Celcius below zero in Germany, we thought 10-15 degrees above freezing was pretty warm! And we must have acclimated some since, as none of the children have even asked to go the beach since November.

Here's a photo of our family taken in February 2009:

Wow--it's strange for me to look at that photo. Marie and Jacob are both nearly as tall as I am  now (not that that's very tall, but they're "only" 13 and 11), and that dress Helen is wearing in the picture, at age 5 months, was on Elisabeth, age 7  months, in the last week.

Our most recent family photo was taken June 11, 2010, the day Elisabeth was born:

Here's a more recent one of the girls, taken Christmas morning, 2010:

And of the boys a minute later:

The photo we took of ourselves on Christmas wasn't too great, so here's one from our 16th anniversary a few days later, December 30, 2010:

We've had plenty of challenges in the last two years, but many, many more blessings, especially in the shape of friends. Jörn loves his work and the rest of us certainly keep busy enough.

To our relief (and joy!), it was confirmed last week that our landlady is renewing out lease for another year without raising the rent. Although this is officially only a three-bedroom house, we recently made one of the two living rooms into a combination office/bedroom and our former bedroom into a playroom/guest room, probably to become the bedroom of the little girls eventually. Downstairs we have an additional two bedrooms (one leading into the other) in a guest flat, which has been occupied by various friends and acquaintances almost all of last year and promises not to be empty this year, either. We can theoretically sleep 16 people without even blowing up the double air-mattress, in reality I'm sure we could fit in many more, considering that the boys usually sleep on the floor (leaving two empty beds in their room!) and Katie usually crawls in with Marie (in a single bed, leaving Katie's double bed free!)

We won't know how long we'll be in Cyprus until we know we're leaving again, but I know that we all feel that we've only just arrived. We miss friends in Germany, of course, but seeing as we have friends on every continent except Antartica, we'll always have people to miss no matter where we live. Home is where we are, and that is a good place to be.