Saturday, December 31, 2011

Some statistics for 2011

The population of the southern part of Cyprus was determined by this year's census to be at just under 839,000. Interesting, I suppose, but the most interesting part to me was the following quotation:

Georgiou noted that the increase in the population was also due to the number of foreign nationals, which reached 21.4% of the total population, compared to 9.4% in 2001. A total of 179,547 foreigners were recorded, of which 62.6% from EU countries and 37.4% from third countries.

My question is this: how were we counted? Eight of us live in this house, all of us "foreign nationals", seven of us from an EU country (Germany), seven of us from a third country (USA). We are by no means an unusual representation. I'm pretty sure that I know more people with dual nationality than with just one. I imagine that for the state of statistics, anyone with Cypriot nationality was counted only as a Cypriot, and non-Cypriot Europeans counted only as Europeans, which would mean that our family consists of seven non-Cypriot Europeans and one U.S.ian, but I couldn't find anything to confirm that. And of course, there's the little issue that after nearly three years here, I'm still not actually legally registered here. I'm also not illegally here, my paperwork is officially "in process". For that matter, it just occurred to me that we haven't bothered to get Elisabeth a residence permit, either, so only six members of the family have their yellow slips. So maybe we were counted as six Europeans and two non-residents?

Of more interest to me personally are a couple of other statistics that are of no interest whatsover to the rest of the world. One is that 2011 was the first year since 1985 that I was not in an airplane, not even once, and the first year since 1987 that I haven't traveled internationally. The furthest away I went the entire year was to the Troodos mountains, less than two hours away by car, and my guess is that 2011 was the first year of my entire LIFE that I spent every single moment within two hours of my home.

Another milestone to me was that, at near as I could calculate, in April or May of this year I passed the 50% point and have now spent over half of my life outside of my birth country. That is calculating both the times that I spent outside of the U.S. while I still actually lived there (to Japan with my family when I was three, to Japan as an exchange student when I was 15, and to Costa Rica as an exchange student when I was 17) as well as all the visits back to the U.S. since I left. However, I won't have lived in Europe for half of my life until the end of February 2012, and that still won't have been half of my life actually IN Europe.

2011 was also the first year since 2000 that I didn't spend any part of the year pregnant. There have been some years in there that I didn't spend very much of pregnant, but I had been pregnant at least part of every single year since 1996 except for 2000, and now 2011.

Another topic: December 26, 2010 I set a goal of breaking a particular habit and have kept track throughout the year. There have been about 15 days in which I slipped up, but compared to probably more like 360 the year before, I guess I should be pleased.

One goal I set for this year was to get caught up with photos, not too happy with being well over a year behind. In October, very briefly, I was just under a year behind with putting photos in albums, but as time marches on, I was quickly behind again. However, I have continued with sorting and editing on the computer, and as I write this post, I am in the process of uploading the photos from the second half of November 2010 to, already did December 2010, and have May 2011 ready to upload and will then be able to place an order today. I've already gotten January through April 2011 printed, so as soon as my November-December 2010 photos arrive, I'll have six months' worth of photos to put in albums. (I couldn't do November-December before because I was waiting on copies of my sister-in-law's photos from our last visit to the U.S..) I plan to spend January continuing the sorting of 2011 photos and hope to have June through December ready to order by the time I receive the order I place today, and don't want to be more than a month or two behind after this. Yes, I'm probably slightly OCD in this area.

I don't think I'm making any "New Year's Resolutions" for 2012, just continuing on with some of my goals, which aren't tied to a particular year. I guess I figure that if a particular habit is a good one to start or a good one to stop, then today is the best day to start/stop it, whatever the date. But I don't want to write about any of those goals in such a (theoretically) public place, even though the only person I know for sure who reads this probably knows all of them anyway.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Second week of Advent

This first photo has nothing to do with the topic, but I liked it. :-) On the Saturday before the first Sunday in Advent, while Jörn, Mom, and the boys were at the art workshop, Dad and the little girls and I went for a long walk in the Salt Lake park. We were looking for flamingos, and did see them, but so far away that I didn't bother taking a photograph of them.

Later in the afternoon, just my dad and Helen and Elisabeth and I went over to the Salt Lake park to get pine cones for the Advent wreath. As I was starting to drill holes in them (the Advent wreath has four spikes on it, on which Jörn's family used to put apples, but I prefer pine cones and have a feeling that apples would get eaten anyway...), a waytoobigandscary spider came crawling out of one. So I ended up taking all the pinecones outside and spraying them with Biokill (an insecticide that is supposed to be harmless to mammals, and yes, I know that spiders are not insects, but it also kills spiders, and no, I don't ususally kill spiders, but I also don't willingly provide homes for them in the middle of my eating table), leaving them to dry.

On Sunday, my parents and all the girls and I went to Larnaca Community Church (where they did have an Advent wreath and lit the first two candles), then went home and played a game until Jörn called from the house church to say that it was time for lunch, then the three younger girls and my parents and I joined them for lunch there. In the afternoon/evening we were at Sue's and Richard's house to play games and have a meal, so we never did have a meal together at home, so the fact that we didn't have any candles yet wasn't really that relevant. I did drill holes in the pinecones and put them on the wreath either Saturday night or Sunday morning, though.

Monday morning Jörn had to work and Marie didn't want to go out, so the other eight of us squeezed into our seven-seater car and tried to go see a free museum that had been closed on Friday, and turned out to be closed on Monday, too. It was just across the road from Rizoelia National Park, though, so we went with plan B and drove up there, playing on the playground for awhile.

We did have my dad on the see-saw too. In fact, at one point all eight of us were on it at once. :-)

After the park we stopped at home to let Jacob out, then went to see the mosque across the Salt Lake from where we live, but the only photos I took were blurry.

When we got home, we realized that we didn't have much in the house for lunch, so Jacob rode his bike to the grocery store. While he was there I called him and asked him to look for candles, so along with lunch supplies, he brought home four gold-colored candles, which we added to our still-not-green Advent wreath. In the center I put our wedding candle, being a large white candle. That's something that my German husband still finds a bit strange. In fact, in German there's even a rhyme that says "In Advent first the first candle burns, then the second, then the third, then the fourth. If the fifth candle is burning, you slept through Christmas." We call the fifth candle the Christ candle, and we light it on Christmas Day.

Although not the most flattering photo of any of the people involved, here's a photo of our Advent wreath, finally with candles and two of them lit, on the second Monday in Advent:

My parents left Monday afternoon. They wouldn't have minded at all joining us in an Advent study, I'm sure, but their visit was so short and we were so busy, that I never got organized for it. So it was on the second Tuesday in Advent that we finally started a family Bible study, something we've thought of doing during Advent for many years and never had. In that respect, I guess starting over a week late is better than we've done before! There were pictures to color in, which most of the children helped with, and we hung them up on the kitchen door:

The top left is the cover page, then comes the theme verse for the entire study, John 8:12: "Jesus said to the people, 'I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't be sumbling through the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.' ". Underneath is the cover page for the first week, about the prophecies around Jesus' birth, as well as a drawing of Samuel annointing David, and some sheep to go along with David, I guess. We took two days to do week one, and on Thursday started week two, about angels. Katie and Helen did color in some pictures, but I'm not exactly sure where they disappeared to. We'll finish week two today, putting us on track for week three, which we'll probably start on Monday, as we again won't have any meals at home together tomorrow.

First Wednesday in Advent

So, off to a slow start...but Advent DID start the very earliest possible date this year, with Christmas Day being on a Sunday, so that's my excuse. :-)

My parents arrived on the Tuesday, late in the evening. The next afternoon/evening was the first day of the prophetic workshop that Jörn had organized, in which Jacob, Lukas, and my mother also took part. While it might have been nice to have had a nice, festive, family activity, putting up the nativity scenes (yes, plural--it's a bit out of hand) and decorating the Advent wreath, etc., the idea of actually getting all ten of us (or even eight of us) together at once didn't seem likely, so I didn't even try.

So: the first Wednesday in Advent, I hung up the stockings...

...cleared off the top of the piano and set up the nativity scenes...

...and tried to keep Katie and Helen out of the box of stuff, somewhat unsuccessfully. Helen pulled out this wall-hanging, and not knowing what to do with it (I never know what to do with it, either), she put it on Elisabeth, who was asleep on the couch.

Later that night after consulation with Jörn, I put a blue tablecloth on the piano, underneath the nativity scenes, and also put the globe on the piano, but haven't taken a photo, and if I wait until I have, then I never will post this.

I also realized that this photo doesn't even have all of the nativity scenes in it--at least half a dozen more have been added, and all have been re-arranged numerous times by every child except Elisabeth. And it's not for lack of trying that Elisabeth hasn't gotten to them, she just can't reach, even from the piano bench, and we've managed to foil her every time she's actually tried to climb ONTO the piano.
I also got out the Advent wreath things, but having no greenery and no candles, didn't bother taking a photo. That's for the next post...