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...