Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A busy day

It's not like Monday is ever a calm, quiet day in our house, but it's not like any other day of the week is, either. I generally like Mondays. If nothing else is planned, we often get a decent start on the week's worth of "school stuff" in the morning, in the afternoon Lukas and Katie have Discoveries (a sort of junior youth group at a local church for ages 6-11) and Helen has Antidote (drama class), which I usually stay for, and either watch, take my computer and sort photos (I'm only 13 months behind at the moment...), or read, and I often take Elisabeth, who sits entranced for the full hour. All quite peaceful.

Yesterday, a few other things were planned.

To begin with, it was the last day of the week our friend Barbara from Germany spent with us. (Well, actually to begin with, I went for my walk by myself, but that's every single day, so doesn't count.)The weather being slightly less sunny (like by, oh, 350 days or so??) in Germany than in Cyprus, Barbara wanted a last chance to go to the beach, and was happy to take up to two children with her. Marie needed to go shopping for a black outfit for her orchestra concerts coming up (a mixed-age orchestra in Nikosia, in which she plays third violin and has a concert tonight, and a youth orchestra in Limassol, in which she plays first violin and has a concert next month), and Jacob and Lukas both got a bit sunburned going to the beach with Barbara on Saturday morning, so it meant deciding among the three little girls, all of whom had been to the beach several times in the last week. (I lost track of just how many times--maybe five?) I totally understood Barbara not wanting to take all three, but I also was not at all willing to go myself in the morning/mid-day sun, with no shade, so we were discussing how to decide which of the three would have to stay with me. I finally asked Elisabeth if she would like to go shopping with me (she LOVES shopping...if she hadn't been born at home, I might wonder if she got switched at birth...), and she cheerfully said, "Yes, I want to go shopping with you and Marie, and Barbara and Helen and Katie will go to the beach." I sometimes forget that although Elisabeth speaks almost no German, she DOES understand every single word, and she is also very observant and gets a lot of the indirect things that people say in either language (English and German). So that was settled...except that when I went to tell Katie to get ready, Katie said she didn't feel like going to the beach! Before I could say anything else, Elisabeth joyfully exclaimed, "Then I can go to the beach with Barbara and Helen!" She won't be three for another two weeks...I was impressed with all of her absolutely correct logic. :-) Throughout the conversation I'd been washing dishes and mixing a double batch of bread dough and sorting more laundry.

Barbara, Helen, and Elisabeth were finally ready to go and I drove them to the beach (Makenzy Beach on most of the signs, but I've also seen it spelled Makenzie and Makenzey, and yesterday I saw Mackenzy, reminding me that I keep meaning to try to find out for whom the beach is named and therefore, how to spell the name of our kitten, who was found there!!), then came home and did more laundry and shaped the bread dough. (Marie and Katie made their own shapes, and I made the rest into two loaves, to one of which I added sunflower seeds. Then Marie, Katie, and I went to the Family Thrift Store downtown and found a skirt and a blouse for Marie, as well as three books and two glass pitchers for me, because it's sort of impossible to go to the thrift store and only get what I'm looking for. Then we went to an office supply store because Marie needed a black folder for her music for the concert tonight. They had many, many styles of folders, and many, many colors...but in any of the three or four styles that would have worked, they didn't have any all-black folders. We finally settled on a black folder with red rings, because Marie already had a blue folder with black rings in the same style, so when we got home, she switched them, and now has a black folder with black rings and a blue folder with red rings.

I dropped off Marie and Katie at home and turned on the oven to bake the bread, then went back to pick up Barbara, Helen, and Elisabeth, arriving back home about two minutes before Jörn got home from work, put on my third load of laundry for the day, and took the bread out of the oven so we could have lunch. Barbara was packed just in time for her to say goodbye to everybody except the three little girls, who were going with us, and then we went to Helen's drama class--Lukas didn't go to Discoveries because he wasn't feeling well, and Katie didn't want to go because she didn't want to miss the last hour with Barbara. Not that she spent it with Barbara--she ended up participating in Helen's class, which had many fewer children than usual.

From Antidote we headed straight for the airport, where we went in with Barbara to make sure she could take a plant through (she asked at the check-in counter and they said yes, so hopefully, there weren't any problems at security...), then headed home. Oh, and throughout the day there had been several texts and phone calls with the contrabass player from the Nikosia orchestra with whom Marie rides to rehearsals, and I'd also texted Marie to say that I wouldn't be home in time to take her to meet that friend by 6:00 for last night's rehearsal. Just before 6:00, as we were walking out of the airport, the friend texted me to say she wouldn't be there until 6:15, but when I called Marie to tell her, they were of course almost there. Marie was disappointed that she hadn't known earlier, because she could have had another 15 minutes playing violin with the B family, a "musicianary" family who stayed with us a week ago for two days, and who arrived at our house around 5:00 yesterday afternoon, while I was out. All four of the sons (19, 17, 15, and 11) play violin, as does the mother, the father plays guitar and flute, and I lost track which of the sons play which further instruments. The 11-year-old plays cello, but it needed repairs, so we didn't get to hear it.

It was cool to hear all the violin/guitar music coming from our house when I parked in front of it, but it stopped soon afterwards, because Jörn needed to finish preparing dinner and our boys wanted to play with their boys. The mother and I had been talking about improvisation when they were here a week ago, though, so we went downstairs to the guest flat and got out the keyboard that friends of ours left here a year and a half ago to be sold, and in a few minutes she explained more theory to me than I learned in eight years of piano lessons. I much, much, much prefer playing the piano, but the two disadvantages with it are that trying to play that would have meant that there would have been at least half a dozen other hands trying to join in, not to mention a dozen voices, at least, and that the piano is out of tune even with itself and is in any case tuned (such as it is...) half a tone lower than pitch.

As soon as dinner was over, Jörn put Helen to bed and the rest of us packed the two cars with all the luggage and instruments and people. Helen was asleep quickly, so we left Jacob with Lukas and Katie and took Elisabeth in the car and drove the B family to the airport.

When we got home, I put Elisabeth to bed, and then only 45 minutes later than planned, Jörn and I sat down to discuss a book we've been reading for a couple of months and wanting to talk about with each other ever since, and only managed to start last night (the first 14 pages...) because we put it in the calendar to do so.

And throughout the entire day, while communicating with lots of different people in three different languages, running errands and making bread and washing dishes and doing laundry and keeping track of schedules and airport runs and meals and bedtimes, there was a continual background conversation going on in my mind, praying for a close friend and her family. This friend's mother had not been at all well over the weekend, so I'd turned on the computer yesterday morning just to find out if there was any news, and since I saw that she was on-line at gmail, I asked her. It turned out that her mother had died just an hour before, peacefully, and with some of her family there, but not with her oldest daughter present, living in a different country as she is. I'm horrible with words of condolence. I can give way, way too many examples of things I really hate to hear, so wouldn't say myself, but I don't know what helps to hear, either. I say "I'm sorry" and "If there's anything I can do to help, let me know," and of course I do mean those words, but I don't know how to really express how much I care, how much my heart hurts for them. Three of my grandparents died within three years (2008, 2010, and 2011, all three in August), so I know a little bit of the helpless feeling of not having been able to be there because of not living in the same country, or even on the same continent, but as special as a grandparent can be, that's not a parent. And even when it wasn't totally unexpected (although still unexpectedly sudden), and even when there is a long list of "perfect timing" types of things, and even if one recently spent quality time with that person, and even when one knows with confidence where that person is, it's just all Not Nice. I spent a couple of hours with this friend and her family this morning, and she talked some about her mother, and the things they have to organize and when they might fly to England for the funeral and so on, but a lot of the time was focused on my little girls running around or talking about miscellaneous other stuff, and I didn't even offer any kind of (verbal) condolences to the rest of the family. I do care, very much, but I don't have a clue how to show it, so I just kind of spent the whole day yesterday (and today, too, for that matter) telling God that I do and hoping that He would pass the message on.

A few calm(ish) days would be welcome...

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Getting up early

I delivered newspapers six days a week from when I was ten until I was 18, which involved getting up around 4:30 in the morning. Saturdays I would "sleep in", pleased if I made it all the way to 8:00, until I got a regular Saturday morning babysitting job that started at 6:00 a.m., so then it was seven days a week that I was up early. Then followed my year in Mexico, where I likewise got up fairly early because I had to be at work (volunteering in a children's home) early, and then one more year living with my parents and taking a more-than-full college schedule (I don't remember what time my classes started, but I do remember that I very often had to have my car jump started because I left home in the dark and arrived once it was light and forgot to turn my headlights off) as well as working more than full-time. And once you have a reputation for getting up early, they say, then you can sleep in for the rest of your life.

So in 1991 I moved to Germany to be a nanny for the children of an opera singer...who necessarily kept late hours, and the children didn't need to be at preschool (Kindergarten in German) until 9:00, so I was no longer such an early riser, for the next two years, anyway. Then I started working in the Kindergarten myself (as an apprentice or Praktikantin), so had to be there at 7:30 or 8:00 for the next year, then the next two years I was in school (Fachschule für Sozialpädagogik, for anyone who knows the German system...no real equivalent in the U.S.), then my final year as an intern (Annerkenungjahr) in yet another Kindergarten, so that was four years of getting up decently early...

...and then Marie was born. For her first six weeks, she woke up and wanted to play at 4:30 a.m. every single morning. We went to Costa Rica for two weeks, where she had no jet lag whatsoever, waking up at 4:30 local time every single morning. Then two weeks in the U.S., where she likewise adapted immediately and woke up at 4:30 every single morning.

But when we got back home to Germany, when she was 10 weeks old, she DID have jet lag, sleeping until at least 9:00 a.m.! She was happy and I was happy, and I was rarely up before 8:30 or 9:00 any morning in the next 14 1/2 years. (Well, okay, for the three years and two weeks that my husband's great-aunt lived with us, I did have to have breakfast on the table at 8:30 every morning, but that meant that I got up at about 8:27 and it was convenient that she was practically blind, because she would have strongly disapproved of my being at the breakfast table in a nightgown, if she had known.) Because of my earlier reputation of being an early riser, though, I did continue to occasionally get early morning phone calls from my mother for about 10 of those years, because she continued to think of me as an early riser. (And she has always been one, as far as I know, and still is.) She eventually figured it out, commenting that it was so easy to deal with the supposedly nine-hour time difference (California to Germany) because we stayed up so late and got up so late, and she was used to going to bed early and getting up early, that she could practically keep her same schedule and it matched ours. (Likewise practical when we were in California--I would stumble out to the living room at 5:00 a.m. because I couldn't sleep, and Mom was usually already awake and reading or getting ready to go for a walk.)

Aaaaanyway...point being, For at least 14 years, I had been accustomed to rarely going to bed before midnight, and considering any time before 8:30 in the morning to be way too early. When I happened to be up earlier, I enjoyed it, but not enough to decide to go to bed earlier, so it was a rare occurence. Until May last year...

Although I had been out for occasional walks in the morning during our first three and a half years here, it was exactly one year ago today, May 18, 2012, that I started going out EVERY day, even wearing tennis shoes rather than sandals, and I've been LOVING it. When only the little girls and I were in Germany for ten days last summer I wasn't able to go walking on my own, and I didn't manage every day while we were in Germany, Costa Rica, Germany in February/March this year (although I did go out a lot of them, about five or six days a week!), but I've only missed about three other days because of sleeping too long.

So anyway... to be able to bear going outside and actually moving throughout the summer, I had to go really early, usually leaving by 5:30 at the very latest, often by 5:00, and even as early as 4:30 more than once. With autumn I could set out a little later, in fact, had to, if I didn't want to walk in the dark, but I still needed to be home by 7:30 some days anyway, so I was glad about the time change at the end of October which meant that I could leave at 5:30 again.

And then NaNo happened...

Marie and I kind of talked each other into participating in National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, which is a challenge to write a 50,000-word piece of fiction within the month of November. I would have quit on the first day if she hadn't been bugging me. Or on the second. Or third. In fact, I think I threatened to quit every single day except for the last two. But the only way for me to write 1667 words a day (not counting e-mails and Facebook and other easy rambling) was to write some every morning. So even though it wasn't light until 6:00, I kept getting up at about 5:00, almost every single morning, to write for an hour before going out for a walk.

What I have NOT done a single time in this year is set an alarm. (Well, I did two or three times to take someone to the airport. But not to walk or to write.) Three reasons for that: I hate alarms and waking up to one puts me in a bad mood; setting an alarm would be rather counter-productive as that would likely wake up small people that need to stay asleep for me to go out; and if I need an alarm to wake me up, I figure I actually need to sleep more than I need to get up.

By December, though, NaNoWriMo was over (Marie and I both finished!) and it was still pretty dark even at 6:00, and darker every morning, and I keep waking up at 5:00 or before and I did not WANT to be awake then! One night I read for absolutely as long as I could keep my eyes open, in fact, at one point I caught myself thinking I was still reading but I actually had my eyes closed. I finally gave up and turned off the light at about 11:30. And I woke up at 4:45. I refused to get out of bed and tossed and turned until 5:55, but never went back to sleep. Six months before that I was reluctantly turning off my light at 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. just because I knew I ought to try to sleep, and dragging myself out of bed at 8:00 or 9:00 because children needed feeding or at least refereeing.

After all those years of being up early (and enjoying it), I can't believe it took me 15 more years to remember how much I love being up early, and what a wonderful start to the day it is just to wake up because I've finished sleeping!

My parents' visit, part three

Final installment! I'd already written most of this, but wanted to put photos in, which means sorting through them in Picasa and exporting them, none of which is difficult, but is easier with two hands and no interruptions. I finally got around to it just now and discovered...that we hardly took any photos the rest of the time my parents were here. Oh well.

So...we took it a bit easier Friday, just walking downtown for ice cream in the morning, tidying up the house a bit in the afternoon, and having house group in the evening. Marie had church band practice, but not youth band practice, and youth group wasn't happening, either. And looking through the photos reminded me that my mother also taught Katie and Lukas to knit. :-)

Saturday was much the same at first, except that it included shopping, one of my favorite activities. Not. But much more pleasant in company that isn't into shopping either. :-) At Metro my mother got a birthday present for Jörn AND found seven granola bowls (probably "dessert bowls" or something, but they are PERFECT for my granola!) which she said were for my birthday. :-) (And she would have gotten more, but they only had seven.) And then Marie needed a new swimsuit, so my mom and I picked her up after a meeting Marie had at LCC and continued our shopping spree with a third non-shopping-lover. Both thrift stores were closed, so then we tried Orphanides, which is bankrupt and half empty and in which I hadn't been since about October, but I thought we might get a good deal. And we would have, if they had had any swimsuits, which they didn't. They did, however, have some very nice drinking glasses which were 60% off, and my mom bought (so she thought...) 24 of them. (When we got home and unpacked them, we discovered that one of the six boxes contained only three, not four glasses. And since then, the total has been reduced to 21...) Carrefour also didn't have any swimsuits, so I finally gave in and we went to Marks and Spencer, where we had bought the swimsuit for Marie two years ago which still fits her, but of which the elastic is completely useless now. Elisabeth is wearing swimsuits that were handed down to Marie 15 years ago and the elastic is still going strong, but oh well, I guess they don't make things like they used to. (How do I insert a wry chuckle here, mostly laughing at myself sounding so old??) At least we found a gorgeous swimsuit for Marie, and then my mother insisted on paying for it, too. :-)

Just because, here's another photos of Dad with Makenzy:

Saturday evening was Jörn's birthday party, his birthday having been the day my parents arrived. We'd had a cheesecake on the day, and we don't always have a party, but he'd decided he wanted one this year, complete with a lot of guests. Of course, just ourselves made 10 people, and we invited another family of ten and a family of five, as well as two families of two people each and one more person, making exactly 30 people. It wasn't any more chaotic than it is with just us here, and it was great fun. We did take several photos, but they're mostly of people sitting around, so here's one just of Jörn explaining what's what on the buffet, prepared by him, of course. (I made the cornbread! And the cake. :-) )

Jörn requested a cake with fire on it. I tried, but I think it looks more like a flower. And I couldn't decide what color background to make, then decided not to make ANY background, claiming that that was so that the three dairy-free guests could also eat a piece of cake (the cake itself doesn't have milk, but I made the frosting with cream cheese).

On Sunday my parents opted to attend Larnaka Community Church, where Marie was, as usual, playing violin in the band. Katie and Elisabeth went with us, and since we were so close to the sea front, we meandered over there and had some more ice cream before going home. After lunch my parents and I played a game, and then when Jörn and the others got home, we went over to Sue's and Richard's house, as we normally do every other Sunday. The children watched a movie and the rest of us played several games.

Monday returned to non-school-holiday schedule. Jörn had to go back to work and I had Writers' Group in the morning, so it was nice having my parents here to babysit. At some point my dad and Lukas went out for a walk (and had ice cream), and they played games and survived. :-) In the afternoon my mom went with Helen to her drama class, while Katie and Lukas went to Discoveries, and activity group for 6-11-year-olds at LCC. We'd planned for some of us to go to the beach after that, but there'd been quite a downpour and we decided that it wasn't really beach weather.

Ever since my parents had come a year and a half ago and my mother had expressed an interest in sailing in a small sailboat, I'd hoped to be able to take her out in Richard's boat, Galini, so we'd tried to organize that earlier during their stay. However, the weather wasn't very cooperative, either too stormy or too calm, but on the final day, it was pretty perfect. Normally I go to Sue's house on Tuesday mornings with the three little girls, but that wasn't impossible to change, and in any case, Katie had been wanting to have a one-on-one visit with Sue. So Lukas went with Jörn to the Tuesday-morning art group as always, Katie went to Sue's house, Jacob and my dad stayed home with Helen and Elisabeth (they did go out for ice cream, I heard), and my mom, Marie, and I went sailing!

Galini hadn't been used all winter and Tim (Richard's sailing partner) and Jacob had done some work on her while Richard and Sue were in England recently, so it took awhile to get everything set up, but it all worked. I was REALLY nervous about sailing "by myself" for the first time since last summer, only having sailed one other time without Richard, and that was at the end of last summer, having just spent the summer learning to sail, and with Marie, who has much more experience than I do. Some of my tacks were very wobbly, to say the least, but contrary to some people (this was supposed to link to a blogpost I can't find, about a friend who capsized the boat four years ago...), my mother was excellent at immediately going to the best place to go to balance the boat, and we had a wonderful time. I did relax eventually, but then got kind of panicky when it was time to bring the boat in. I told Marie that I might be at the helm, but I needed her to tell me exactly what to do, which direction to turn what and when and why, and I wasn't even sure I even cared about the why, just tell me what to do! This is why I love sailing with Marie--she did all that, but without one single moment of acting superior or making me feel silly. Not to mention that she was exactly right and we brought Galini in beautifully and in one piece. :-)

In the afternoon my parents had been invited to see a run-through of the play in which Lukas will be performing in a couple of weeks, "The Twits," and they enjoyed it very much.

The highlight of the afternoon for me was seeing a hedgehog in the garden (that's "yard" to Americans!)--the first hedgehog I've seen since we came to Cyprus. I'd heard that there were hedgehogs here, but had a hard time believing it, as I haven't ever seen a dead one on the road, whereas in Germany, we saw them all the time. (As well as two or three live ones...)

My dad got in a last cuddle with Makenzy...
...and then my parents had an overnight flight to Jerusalem (to see my brother and his wife and their brand-new baby), and will be back next week for a couple of days before returning to the U.S. It was very odd saying "See you next week!" when dropping them off at the airport--this has to be the first time in 22 years that I knew when saying goodbye at an airport when I'd next see them, and made it much easier!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My parents' visit, part two: Paphos

Thursday (May 9th) was our biggest outing with my parents, driving all the way to Paphos, another place I had never been. Last summer, while the little girls and I were in Germany and Marie was in Greece, Jörn and the boys had gone to Avakas Gorge and really enjoyed it, and were eager to share it with the rest of us. There was a bit of confusion as to who actually had directions and who should be following whom, but we did eventually arrive... For future reference, ask tourists, not locals, for directions. It was only when I finally asked someone who looked like an absolutely typical tourist and turned out to be one, only having arrived the day before, that I was given decent directions!

Having arrived considerably later than planned, we didn't carry our picnic on the "hike", but ate it at the parking lot, which had a shaded picnic table, before starting out.
 That turned out to be a very good idea, as much of the hike was actually a climb or a balance or a scramble or a jump, and it would have been very awkward to carry our impractically packed plastic containers and bags!

Avakas Gorge is beautiful and was completely worth the long drive and even all the detours on the way there, and we took way too many photos, of which the following are only a selection.

I forgot to take either the sling or the Ergo carrier, so carried Elisabeth like this for the first few minutes, but she soon got down and walked. I wouldn't have been able to carry her while climbing anyway, not even in a carrier.

This can be seen on many postcards...

The photo below doesn't show how high this rock was, nor how slippery, making it very difficult to get up onto. Most of us helped each other (at one point I slipped off completely and if I hadn't been holding both Marie's AND Jörn's hands, I would have landed pretty hard!), but my mom insisted on doing it completely herself, saying, "I can do it by MYSELF!!" in exactly the same way Elisabeth does. ;-P

My parents with all of the children...

Somewhere in this picture is a stranded baby goat, calling to its mama, slightly higher, who was calling back. I hope they managed to reconnect and get to safer ground...

 We then drove into the city of Paphos, to go to the Archaeological Park, where Jörn had been once a couple of years ago. As I parked, I realized that Elisabeth was asleep, and I groaned, knowing that even if she woke up, she would have to be carried and would be in a bad mood. Just as I steeled myself to the thought of just slinging her over my shoulder and carrying her like a sack of potatoes, Marie came up to me (she'd been riding in the other car) and said that she was tired and really didn't want to go anywhere--would it be okay if she just stayed in the car? And how it was okay! :-) So I didn't have to carry Elisabeth and Elisabeth got to keep sleeping, and the rest of us enjoyed exploring the ruins and partial excavations and beautiful mosaics.


At some point my dad offered to take us out for dinner somewhere on the way home, which we thought sounded very nice, although I didn't really have a clue how to start looking for a place. (Happily, my father started the offer by saying, "I know you don't do McDonald's, but could we find someplace else...?") The Archaeological Park was huge and we didn't even see everything before we were all ready to leave, and by that time it was so close to dinner time that we decided to look for someplace right there in Paphos. I went and got Marie and Elisabeth from the car and it didn't take long to find a place at all, which was fairly reasonable price-wise, considering that it was a touristy place, and the food was delicious. Jacob was the only one who used the camera while we were there, as evidenced by the following photos:

A last view of the seafront, with the fort in the background, before we left Paphos:

When we got home, four children went straight to bed, but I don't know what the others did, nor my parents or even my husband...I got in bed, and the next thing I knew, it was Friday morning.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

My parents' visit, part one

Two weeks ago I commented that it's already acting summer-like, unseasonably warm even for Cyprus. Happily for me, it did cool down in the last week, and I also appreciated the rain...but the timing wasn't necessarily the greatest, with my parents visiting for only a week. They moved to Eureka, California, ten months ago, where it never really gets very warm and the sun is rarely visible, so might have liked a little more heat and sunshine. However, we managed to pack quite a lot into one week, and there really was plenty of sun, even if not quite as much as we're accustomed to.

They arrived last Tuesday evening, conveniently after the little ones were in bed (I can't say I love taking the little ones to the airport...), yet not particularly late. We had to wait awhile because their luggage didn't arrive and they had to fill in forms and such, but it was nice and peaceful waiting in the car and reading a book, waiting for Marie to phone me from inside the airport. (Maybe someday Cyprus will figure out the concept of cell phone lots, but in the meantime, I, like many other people, park somewhere just outside the airport and wait, rather than park and pay...)

When we got home, my dad walked into the house and immediately found Makenzy.

And I do not understand just how my mother managed it with the ten-hour time difference, but she got up to go walking with me at 5:45 every single day, which I enjoyed very much! The first morning we even walked around the entire Salt Lake, as it was foggy and not too hot. I didn't take the camera, but it's not like I haven't posted photos of the Salt Lake park a...few...times before.




On Wednesday we walked downtown and went to the medieval fort, which I had never seen before. I can't claim it was wonderfully exciting, but it's nice to have seen one of the local sights! Funny how we always seem to have to have visitors as an "excuse" to do that.


And then we went for ice cream, something that my father has gained quite a reputation for providing. :-) One of the times they visited us in Germany, we had ice cream every single day, and it's also my dad who gave Katie her very first non-Mama-milk food: ice cream, when she was only five months old. We didn't have ice cream every day of their visit this time, both because my dad is trying to be more careful with his diet and because we're trying to limit sugar for all of us, but we certainly enjoyed the treats.

Orthodox Easter was May 5th this year, so schools were closed both the week before and the week after, which meant that most of the children's regular outside activities were also on hold, which was very convenient, as normally, there's something scheduled almost every day. In addition, Jörn took the week off of work, so could join us for almost everything, not to mention that for activities which required cars, we wouldn't have fit in one car.

In the afternoon (when Jacob and Lukas would have normally had their guitar lessons) we hung around waiting for my parents' luggage to arrive (it did), and then we headed to the beach, taking a picnic, but no photos. It was warm enough for my parents to go in the water, and the children don't even need it to be warm to do so, even when they start turning purple, as Elisabeth did, but I ended up deciding that I will have more than enough opportunities the rest of the summer and I really didn't need to get cold.

We probably played a game that evening, as we did any evening we had time, but no photos.

Here's another photo of my dad with Makenzy. The two of them really hit it off--one time she even went down the stairs and around the corner to find him in the guest flat.

The next day really needs a post of its own, so I'm going to stop there. I hope to finish up blogging about the week before my parents come back!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

First of May, actually about April, and more exactly mostly about Makenzy

Happy May, everyone. It's already being summer here, but I'm still hoping to hold out until June to start using air conditioning. Yesterday it was 32 degrees (Celsius! That's less than half of a Fahrenheit degree short of 90 F), which seemed rather warm for this time of year, even in Cyprus, so I looked up what the temperature had been on that date in previous years: between 23 and 26, "normal" high for April 30th being 25 degrees. I'm hoping this is a heatwave and not an indication of an extra-long, extra-hot summer.

Last November Marie and I participated in NaNoWriMo, both of us meeting the challenge of writing 50,000 words in the course of the month. In April, Marie participated in Camp NaNo, same idea, except that one sets one's own goals. She tried to talk me into participating, and I finally agreed to blog every day for the month of April (but didn't sign up at the NaNo website). I managed the first two days, then on the fourth, and then on the sixth. So much for that. Not promising anything for this month, just rambling for the moment. It's not that there's a lack of topics, just a lack of time.

A few of the things I thought about blogging about: the births of my nieces (one in March to my sister and her husband, one just last week to my brother and his wife); trips to the park with friends (several times, both with a fellow homeschooling family and with a little girl I babysat twice); Elisabeth completely potty-training herself day and night AND moving to the girls' room and being thrilled with it AND night-weaning; my search for and exploration of Cyprus's largest salt lake, in Limassol; cutting Marie's hair; the play Marie and Jacob were in; our first trip to the beach for this year; cleaning the fans; a bunch of stuff from March (our time in Costa Rica, my birthday, traveling, etc.); how to spend the first birthday money I've had in years (haven't spent it yet); love/hate relationship with technology; accidentally deleting a blogpost from last May and having Sue find it in cyberspace for me (that was very cool that she found it, but also worries me a bit because there are some things I've deleted because I didn't want anyone to see them after all, and I do NOT like the idea that they're still "out there" somewhere!!!); more walks in the Salt Lake park; being given lots of strawberries; buying 20 kilos of oranges; etc...most of which is probably not all that exciting for anyone except me anyway, but this is our life.

And of course, our kitten, Makenzy, acquired one month ago today. End of ramble, here are a bunch of photos of furry adorableness.

We had two rabbits in Germany for a couple of years, but Jörn was always quick to point out that they lived OUTside, and were MY rabbits, not his. (I did catch him feeding carrots to them a few times, though...) So Jörn has never had a pet in his whole life and wasn't keen on the idea of getting one. However, he and Makenzy have quite taken to each other. Makenzy especially likes his beard. :-)

 Makenzy is also crazy about feet and shoes. One evening she went from foot to foot during dinner, finally found a foot that was holding still, climbed up on it, and went to sleep. (This is Jörn yet again.)

Helen often sings Makenzy to sleep...

Jacob's sandal, this time...

Sound asleep on my lap...

Another photo for my extremely large collection of photos of Jörn sleeping with a baby sleeping on top of him...

Makenzy only had formula for about two weeks and transitioned to eating dry kitten food very easily. She did think for the first few days that she had to get INTO the bowl to eat, but since acts like a cat, standing on the floor and eating out of the bowl.

Makenzy loves the dollhouse Katie and I built last year...

And finally, a photo Marie took last night of Makenzy falling asleep...