Thursday, August 28, 2014

Summer 2014 photo scavenger hunt part two and some other photos

Full disclosure: these aren't just scavenger hunt photos. But this will at least be much shorter than the last post!

To start the week...Monday morning, Marie, Jacob, and Lukas left for camp with the Larnaka Inter-church youth group. Here they are at the meeting place, waiting to get on the bus:

And they just happened to all get on the bus at the same time, so I got another photo:

This is Marie's sixth year (sixth year!!!) going to camp. Five years ago, I was maybe a tiny bit teary, took lots of photos, missed her a bit, and looked forward to her return. Now...well, Jacob's there for his fourth time, and Lukas for his first, and I was pretty much "Hey, get on the bus so I can leave now!"

Jörn was out all day Monday, so lunch was my job, but with only the girls, I didn't have to do anything exciting. (Jacob very much and Lukas to a certain extent expect an actual MEAL...) I'd thawed some pitta bread for the three camp-goers to make sandwiches for their packed lunches, since I'd forgotten to make bread, and I'd even bought some lounza (ham, I guess) for them, which is a huge treat, because we generally avoid cold-cuts because of MSG and salt, AND I'd given them each a juice box, an even rarer treat. (They were left over from when Jörn was in the hospital in June--the hospital only gave him water and tea to drink, and in Nikosia they didn't even give him water, saying that the water wasn't very good and that he should buy his own!) So...we also had pitta bread and lounza and juice for lunch (and cheese and carrot sticks and whole cucumbers), AND I let the girls take theirs outside to eat:

This resulted in me hearing from Katie that I am "amazing" and "the best mother in the world", over and over again. Which, although rather exaggerated, was admittedly rather nice to hear, since I usually hear quite the opposite from her. AND there were no dishes to wash, so win-win.

Monday the girls also started packing for the sleepover they'd been counting the days to for a week or so, and I'd been counting down to for three years, we figured out. Apparently, it was when Jacob first went to camp and I commented about not knowing what to do with "only" four children at home, that Sue suggested (offered? joked? promised? spoke in a moment of temporary insanity?) that when Lukas was 12 and also went to camp, and assuming Elisabeth was weaned and we didn't have any more children, she would take the three younger girls for an overnight at her house. Elisabeth weaned on her fourth birthday two months ago, yes, she's still the youngest, and Lukas is 12 and at camp.


Jörn worked all day Monday and all day Tuesday and had Wednesday and Thursday off. Wednesday morning at 7:00 or so the girls started asking how many minutes until they were going to Sue's house. They didn't like the answer of 240 minutes. They were much happier at 10:13 when I said 47 minutes, because that was less than an hour, so Katie set the oven timer and I had a whole 47 minutes of nobody asking me how long.

At 11:00 they piled into the car with what they'd packed (which included pillows, two dolls and clothes for the dolls, and some clothes for the girls themselves, but two of the three apparently forgot underpants...Elisabeth was the only one who remembered!) and we drove the 500 meters that we normally walk. We'd been there about two minutes when Helen said, very politely, "Can you two please leave now?" So we did. :-) However, we'd forgotten the crib/cot mattress as an extra bed, so returned a few minutes later with it, but just left it outside and then escaped. Here is Sue's account of their stay.

And WE spent the rest of the day all by ourselves, together!! (To be sure, Lukas phoned at around 7:00 just to chat, and while we were eating dinner at Souvlaki Express after that we suddenly heard "Hi, Mommy!!" and got a wave from Helen and Elisabeth, who were just returning from the playground with Richard, so I did have SOME contact with my children that day, but rather minimal. :-) )

This morning we decided to run some errands, and as we were going out the door I grabbed the camera and the scavenger hunt list and said I could possibly photograph a garden gnome at Kleima. As I read the list to Jörn, he asked what kind of horn  (number 11: a horn), and I said I had no idea, it was up to me. I'd been thinking of taking a photo of Helen or Lukas blowing one of their many tubes, but since we were in the car, I pointed out that there WAS a horn right there, so I took a photo, and here you have it:

Our first stop was Estia, a stationery shop downtown, where we got a birthday present for a friend having a birthday party this afternoon, and I talked Jörn into posing for this photo for number 5, a rack of postcards:

Then we went to the copyshop near Metro, where nothing inspired me to take a photo, and then to the Politechni office. "Politechni" means "many children", and we're members there for 25 Euros a year, which gives us discounts at all sorts of places, such as several bookstores, pharmacies, and bakeries. The biggest single saving is swimming lessons: instead of 30 Euros a month for the first two children, it's 20, and for the rest of the children, 10 instead of 20, so we saved 40 Euros in May and 40 in June, when Jacob, Lukas, Katie, and Helen took swimming lessons, and 50 Euros in July, when Elisabeth also joined in. Anyway, the reason we went there was to pick up a backpack for Helen, who is school-aged now, as each of their members receive one at age six. (Helen will be six next week.) And since I sort of cheated on number 16, a sign in a language other than English, Jörn thought I should take a photo of the politechni office sign, so I did:

And then I took a photo of the sign next to the elevator, because if I understood it correctly, it's pretty funny, at least in our opinions:
 Are there people who don't know to push the button for the elevator and try to push open the doors??

And at Jörn's request, I also took a photo of the list of all the businesses in that building, which happens to include the dentist I went to last year for a root canal and the pediatrician who came to our house after Elisabeth was born:

From there we went to Kleima, a store on four levels, and I don't know what to call it. A department store, maybe? Anyway, Jörn's mission was a particular plastic garden shed, which we accomplished, and mine was to get a photo for number 2, a garden gnome. In English, there's a difference (in my opinion, anyway...) between "gnomes" and "dwarves", and I would call these "dwarves", but this is Cyprus, not Germany (too bad I didn't think about needing this photo while we were in Germany, because there are garden gnomes EVERYWHERE!!), so a nanos is just going to have to count:

There were some more on the stairs:

And as we drove past the garden center part of Kleima, I asked Jörn to stop and let me run in and see if I could find some REAL garden gnomes, but nope, just shelves and shelves of dwarves in weird green light:

And while I was there, I took a photo of some birdhouses for substitute alternative B, although Jörn thinks I should photograph the empty swallow nest above our kitchen door, which I still might do.

Then we went to Micro (a grocery store) where laundry detergent was on sale, and while there I texted Sue that our 24 hours were up, but she said that they'd voted to stay until 3:00. Okay, then! :-)

Before lunch Jörn went swimming, which he's been doing daily (Cyprus is all about connections, and we have a friend with connections to hotels that mean Jörn can swim without paying) and I sat in the shade and read a book. (I do NOT go in the sun if I can help it!)

After lunch (scrumptious salad prepared by Jörn, of course), I happened to glance at my phone and see that Sue had texted about 15 minutes earlier, just before 2:00, that Elisabeth was ready to come home. So we went and collected the girls after 27 hours without children, the longest I have ever been away from all of my children at the same time. And except for the hour I spent at the Salt Lake park this morning, all of that time was spent with Jörn. :-)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Summer so far, with scavenger hunt photos!

There's simply no way that I can catch up with this summer, but two of the I think three people who read this blog are with me on Facebook anyway and will have seen all or most of these photos. Still, since I just now I suddenly remembered my last post of non-information, about the 2014 Summer Photo Scavenger Hunt, I decided to at least look through my photos from June, July, and August (so far) and see how many of the 21 items I just by chance already have. So here are a few...
The second week of June (so technically, not yet summer, but as I said last year, considering that it feels like summer as of May at the latest, I'm counting all of June!!) my husband's art team coordinated an outreach at Finikoudes, the main street along the beach, during Kataklysmos. To the Western world (such as know that it exists at all...), this is Pentecost, the celebration of the sending of the Holy Spirit to the Church in Jerusalem. Here, it's about the flood (so-called "Noah's flood") and there are lots of competitions and such involving water, and I haven't entirely (or at all...) understood it yet. Anyway, every evening for the whole week after Pentecost, Finikoudes was closed to traffic and booths were set up selling stuff and games. The only booth in the whole place that was unique was the one Jörn's team was running, offering free drawings. And for some reason, there's no photo of the sign in Greek (it looked just like this one, but in Greek...), but this was DEFINITELY a weird language to most people going by, and a LOT of people stopped to find out what on earth it was about. It was totally cool.

So, whether I consider that to have checked off number 16, a sign in a language other than English, or not, I wanted to share it.

These next two, however, of Finikoudes during the festival, almost definitely count for number 4, a group of tourists, as there are ALWAYS tourists in Larnaka, and especially in the summer, and obviously for numbers 6, an urban street scene, and particularly amply, 17, a lamp post.

Everybody in my world long since knows that my husband had a "mild" heart attack (myocardial infarct) June 13th or 14th (or perhaps several--I took him to the hospital June 14th at 5:30 a.m. because of chest pains), and then a "major" heart attack (cardiac arrest) while in the ICU at Larnaka General Hospital in the early hours of June 16th. He was then taken to Nikosia for an angiogram, where they also inserted two overlapping stents into the artery that had been completely blocked, and a few days later, returned to Larnaka. I took this photo from his hospital room: what looks like snow in the distance is the completely dried up Salt Lake which is 400 meters from our house. Although our house is not actually visible, as all the houses around it are higher than ours, it's somewhere in this picture. And it doesn't really fulfill any of the scavenger hunt photos, but I wanted to share it, so here it is.

In a lot of languages, the word for "pet" is related to the English word "mascot", such as the German "Maskottchen" (the "chen" on the end simply being diminutive), so I chose a photo of Conny and her kittens for number 12, a mascot:
 Conny adopted us against our (or at least, MY) will, sort of in December. By the end of January I was kind of admitting she was ours and was putting out two bowls of cat food (because Makenzy would NOT share), but by the time I'd decided we should really admit she was staying and get her spayed, we realized it was too late. Her kittens were born April 4th, and this photo was taken June 19th, so they were 2 1/2 months old. From left to right, Lady Jane Grey, Joan of Arc, and Alexander the Great. They have happily all been adopted, and even more happily, by good friends, so we will get to continue to watch them grow up. And also happily, Conny has now been spayed. As have the kittens. (Well, in the case of Alexander, castrated.)

On July 4th, Lukas, Elisabeth, and I flew to Germany. There was so much fog in Larnaka, however, that the plane coming from Frankfurt couldn't land here, so at 4:00 a.m., when we should have been taking off, we were boarding a bus to be taken to Paphos. A little before 6:00 a.m., we got put on the shuttle bus to the airplane, and I leaned out of the door to take these two photos:

 And so actually have a photo of a sunrise, number 13! Throughout June I saw the sunrise most mornings on my daily walks, but never had the camera. In July I started getting up a bit later and missed about a third of the days, and so far in August I've missed four days but haven't seen a single sunrise, so I'm happy to have this one.

And here are Lukas and Elisabeth in the bus to the plane, just because they're cute:

The journey to Germany continued to be eventful, because we missed our train connection in Frankfurt. However, as it was booked as part of the flight, Lufthansa was still responsible for getting us to Düsseldorf, and we ended up flying instead of taking the train. The approach to the airport was amazing. First of all, of all the many, many times I have flown into Düsseldorf, I have not often seen much of anything until literally seconds before landing, because of heavy cloud cover, but this time, it was practically completely clear. For a good 15 minutes or so we had a perfect view, and I recognized place after place after place, from the Kettwiger Stausee in Essen (we lived in Essen when we were first married, although not in Kettwig), down through Mulheim an der Ruhr, where we lived for the seven years before moving to Cyprus, past Duisburg where I took German classes for two years, across Ratingen Lintorf where I actually saw the house where we lived when Marie was born, over the Lintorfer Wald and Angermund, where I lived for my first three and a third years in Germany, to the airport. Totally my "old stomping ground" and I loved it. I'm not actually sure if this photo is of the Rhein or the Ruhr, but I could figure it out if I put enough effort into it. Either way, it might be pushing it a bit to consider this number 1, a sign welcoming people to your home town (or a nearby town), but I'm going to anyway.

The above photo does illustrate well that the Rhein-Ruhr Gebiet (area) is the most densely populated part of Germany and, along with Paris and London, one of the most densely populated places in Europe. However, that's not all there is there, as the next photo shows, incidentally being scavenger hunt photo number 7, a rural landscape:

We arrived in Germany on a Friday and stayed with Phil and Margaret in Angermund until Tuesday. Friday evening we went up to Mulheim to see Peggy, Hannu, and Florian, and Lukas spent the night there. (He and Florian have been friends since they were two years old, Peggy and I the same length of time, although we were rather older than two when we met. :-) )

Saturday morning Elisabeth and I went back to Mülheim to visit with Katrina, Heinz, and Hannah, whom we were supposed to see Friday afternoon but had had to change because of our late arrival. Then Hannu collected us and took Lukas, Elisabeth, and me to Kaiserswerth to see Aileen, where we had coffee and cake and then went for a walk along the Rhein, before she took us back to Angermund.

Sunday morning we went to our home church, IBCD, and saw some people we knew and many more we didn't. Soooo many people have moved, and of those left that I still know, several had already left for the summer, as July 4th was the last day of school, so I didn't get to see some of my closest friends, including the ONLY person who has been a member of IBCD longer than I have been. We went home from church with Gary and Elisabeth and had a wonderful afternoon with them, where I took a photo that meets the requirements of number 10, a photo bomb (someone found lurking in the background of photo; the lurker may have intended to disrupt the picture or may be doing it unintentionally, but the background lurker is a surprise to the photographer), and I am the photobomber!

 We enjoyed the afternoon very much, and I also took one very quick trip to their attic, where we still have too many boxes stored, and quickly located my box of journals, over 40 in total, kept from when I was 11 years old until 37. (And yes, I've continued to keep a journal since then, but I've been in Cyprus since then, so already had those journals here.) It was difficult to leave behind some other things I came across, such as a doll Jörn gave me in 1996, but I knew that getting the journals home was going to be challenging enough, and I managed to take NOTHING else. Lukas, however, found all the little people and animals from the castle Jörn had had as a child, and brought those back with him. (The journals had been left behind because I didn't want to trust them to the shipment and couldn't justify taking up a whole suitcase with them, and the people had been left there because while I was packing stuff to move here, the children had refused to put them away, so I'd tossed them in a box to be stored...)

Monday were doctors' appointments, and that night, Jörn, Katie, and Helen arrived in Germany. I had the beginnings of a sore throat, and the next morning I was absolutely miserable, unable to swallow comfortably or talk, had a fever, and could hardly get out of bed. (And didn't, until after 9:00.) Phil and Jörn took me to a doctor, who was concerned that it might be an abscess, so they sent me to the hospital in Duisburg where, incidentally, Jacob had been born. No abscess, but acute tonsillitis, and they wanted to admit me!! I refused and had to sign that I was leaving against medical advice, which was difficult to do as I literally could barely hold the pen.

We thought we wouldn't be able to travel up to Hamminkeln that day, as I definitely could not carry a suitcase for the two train changes, and Jörn still wasn't allowed to, barely three weeks after his heart attack, but Phil ended up driving me and three children, and Jörn and Helen went by train.

The family camp with our mission organization was, once again, absolutely wonderful. I'd gone to the first one they had, two years ago, with the three little girls, and it was only decided a week before it started that Jörn, Katie, and Helen would join us this time. Every detail worked out perfectly, and I'm so glad we went. Under the influence of drugs (antibiotics and prescription painkillers), I was able to participate in everything, but also slept much more than I usually do. By the end of the week I felt fine.

It ended Saturday morning and then we took the train to Oberhausen to have lunch and the afternoon with Barbara, Karl-Heinz, Andrea, Nils, and Nils. :-) (One Nils is the son and brother, the other is Andrea's boyfriend.) Then back to Angermund.

Sunday morning Phil took Jörn, Katie, and Helen to IBCD, then came back and took Lukas, Elisabeth, and me to the airport. We had a six-hour layover in Vienna, where, as it was raining the whole time, we didn't even attempt to go out, but there was quite a nice play area. We arrived home in the early hours of Monday morning, where Tim P. collected us, and that evening, Jörn and the others arrived home. Jacob didn't get back from participating with Operation Joshua distributing Bibles in Greece until the Thursday, when the whole family was together again after having been scattered in four countries. (On the Sunday afternoon, Jörn and two children were still in Germany, two children and I were in Austria, Jacob was in Greece, and Marie was home in Cyprus!)

Wow, this is getting long. If you've gotten this far, go ahead and bookmark it and save it for another day, or just skim the rest of the photos, or whatever. I won't know the difference! But I'm going to go ahead and continue narrating the rest of the photos that I've already put in here...

There are very, very few photos of me, partly because I'm more often on the other side of the camera, and partly because I'm not generally in cute or interesting situations that people want to photograph! But I thought this one did a somewhat decent job of number 21, a photograph of (you) with something representing the season, as although we have visitors year-round, we tend to have MORE in the summer. It was great getting to meet an internet friend, Michelle, and her husband Andreas and their three children:

However, I do have more (and possibly closer to on-topic photos) for that one, which I'll get to in a moment. First, though, a teaser as to our major project of this summer: building a loft and bed for Katie in the girls' room. I may or may not eventually do a blogpost just on that, since I took a lot of photos and I really enjoyed it. In the meantime, here's a photo of Jacob in Richard's and Tim P's workshop, where we got to use all sorts of power tools, and another "photobomb" qualification, as I had no idea that Richard was visible through the window into the electronics workshop until after the photo was posted on Facebook.

Oh yeah, another photo of a "mascot", Lady Jane Grey, the day before she went to her new home with Tim F.

August 6th to 10th we went up to Rocky Point campground in the mountains, a wonderful escape from the heat and humidity here. So here's another photo for 21, if you see me there behind Lukas's tent.

And another photobomb...

And another of me with something representing the "season"--a season of relaxing, hanging out with my family, and playing LOTS of Boggle with Marie:

Unequivocally, barbecues and s'mores represent summer:

And a candid photo of me with five out of six children!

One day, Jacob, Lukas, Elisabeth and I drove to the top of the trail to Caledonia Waterfall (number 18, a waterfall, and the last topic for this post!) and hiked down to it. If you look carefully, Jacob and Lukas are above it, looking considerably more dangerously close to the edge than they are.

Jacob scared me a lot more in this photo:

And Lukas was the only one who went in completely:

Then Lukas and Jacob continued down the trail, while Elisabeth and I walked back to the car and drove down to meet them. Elisabeth is an amazing little hiker!

On Sunday we all went to Millomeri waterfall, which is my favorite, and spent an hour or so there. Katie, Helen, and Elisabeth all went in the water, too, but only Lukas went under the waterfall:

And that concludes this installment...