Friday, May 4, 2018

Why my children are not taking swimming lessons this month

It is May again, and this May is very similar to the last several Mays, with regards to busy-ness, but with more variety in the past. However, no children are taking swimming lessons this May.

Monday: Okay, so the Monday of this week was actually still April, but as a typical Monday, I'll include it.

At 5:35 a.m. I wake up to an alarm, something I hadn't done regularly for the last 20 years until last June, and which totally scared me this Monday, because it my first time using my new-to-me phone given to me over five months ago. My friend Dagmar collects me and (usually, although not this particular Monday) another friend, Jeannette, and we go swimming at Makenzy Beach. The water this Monday was REALLY calm (λάδι, we have learned to say, which means oil or something to do with oil, and I have no idea if I spelled that right) and they'd put in some new buoys, so instead of just swimming to one and back, as we often do, we swam from one to another, about six in all, I think. We didn't draw any faces on buoys this time.

At 9:00, three children arrived who will be joining us Monday and Thursday mornings for the next month or two. They've lived in Cyprus on and off, but had been gone for the last year, and just got back (temporarily) last week. Neither of their parents are native speakers of English, so I'm giving a bit of support to the two seven-year-olds. (The parents speak excellent English, but they understandably prefer to speak their respective native languages with their children.) The 13-year-old is a very good friend of Katie's, and the two of them disappear into Katie's room for the duration. I do some things together with the boys and Helen and Elisabeth, and then I rotate who I work with individually in the living room while the others occupy themselves otherwise.

At 1:30, the little girl, M., I've been taking care of several hours a week for the last year and a half arrived, and Helen left with M's mother. She teaches really awesome children's dance/movement/gymnastic classes, which Helen now goes to as of a couple of months ago. (I got to watch a class several weeks ago, and was very impressed, and Helen loves it.)

I didn't take anyone to Pathfinders (a church activity group for 6-11-year-olds) this week, because our church building sustained pretty serious water damage a month or so ago and has been meeting in a hotel at Makenzy. It's not THAT far away, but it's very difficult to be at Makenzy at 4:00, return M. at 4:00, and be at Catherine's at 4:00, so I just do two out of the three at the moment. So Jörn and I BOTH drive to essentially the same place, where I park at Catherine's and take M. over to her mother at the American Academy (where the dance class happens), and Jörn picks up Helen and drives her and Elisabeth (and this week, Katie, who has been helping, but usually has to be there early, but didn't this time) to Pathfinders.

From 4:00 to 5:00 I help in Catherine's "First Steps" drama class, for 3-4-year-olds. Helen attended that class from when it was first started, I think six years ago, and then Elisabeth did, and and some point, I started helping. Elisabeth outgrew the class, but I didn't. It's one of my favorite times of the week.

At 5:30 I picked up Lukas (who also helps at Pathfinders, but had gotten a ride with the leader to be there early), Katie, Helen, and Elisabeth from Pathfinders. At that point, I also had to take M.'s car seat out, but when I opened the trunk (or boot, or as Jacob informed me, simply "the back" to avoid confusion) to put it in there, I discovered a pallet-board creation and my guitar, both left there by Jacob, who has been using my car rather a lot lately. I was not happy. The pallet-board thing had to go across the girls' laps, and the guitar had to go in the front with Lukas. I was not happy with Jacob.

Normally, Jacob, Lukas, and Katie all go to Youth Alpha (dinner and a Bible Study) Monday nights, but because we had guests coming for dinner, Lukas decided not to go. Also, Jacob stopped by the house with his friend Max, because they'd been working all day and hadn't eaten. So we'd thought we'd have eight people at dinner (only half of them Langes), but ended up having 12 (because at the last minute, Katie decided to eat something too). Jacob, Max, and Katie then headed off to Alpha, while the rest of us had a very enjoyable evening at home.

One Monday morning a month I have Writers' Group, and having two extra children in the morning is a new thing, but that was a fairly typical Monday.

Tuesday: This week's Tuesday was a holiday, but we didn't do anything different than usual, except that grocery shopping wasn't possible. (And since I don't do the grocery shopping anyway, that's not actually relevant.)

I walked in the Salt Lake Park with my friend Sue (no alarm for that--she texts when she's awake, and I'm almost always awake before that), and then we sat on her garden swing and chatted until Jörn phoned and asked if I was aware of the time. Oops. So at 8:15 I rushed home, rushed a shower, rushed breakfast, rushed children, and left late, stopping at the bank for money for piano and saxophone lessons, then realized that my darling son had left me with an empty gas tank, so stopped at the gas station as well. As we pay the saxophone teacher per month and the piano teacher per lesson, I paid for that from the saxophone money and will pay him the rest next month.

So Lukas had his saxophone lesson while Helen and Elisabeth had their piano lessons (the teachers live across the street from each other!), each of them doing their written music theory with me during the other one's lesson. They're supposed to do that at home, but often don't. When there's time, they also each do math during the other's lesson.

From there we drove to Sue's house, where we've been going Tuesday mornings for about eight years, I think. Lukas walked home from there.

I'd accidentally turned off my new-to-me phone after Katie had called me during the music lessons, so I didn't get any of Jörn's many attempts to call me and tell me we were rather late for lunch, until he called Richard instead.

Home for lunch and reading with the girls until Helen had to be at drama rehearsal at 3:00. As Katie was out, we took Elisabeth with us, and after dropping off Helen, met a lady for coffee to discuss the house she has for sale, which is more than we can afford. A very nice conversation, but, very understandably, she really can't sell the house for what we can pay.

Back home, and then Jörn picked up Helen at 5:00. Dinner (bread and stuff--I'd made bread after lunch, lunch being a cooked meal), read to the girls (Swallows and Amazons at the moment), then once they were in bed, Jörn and I went for a walk of about 7 kilometers, which we do once or twice a week.


Swimming with Dagmar, schoolwork with the girls until 10:30, and then I went to Oasis, the refugee community center where I taught English last year, but haven't this year.

Between the two English classes Wednesday morning, another lady (a retired midwife) and I are trying to get a support system for pregnant women and new mothers going. Nobody has actually showed up yet, but because of it being announced, one woman who was there for English told another woman back at the refugee camp about it, and she contacted us, back in February. I was able to accompany her to a couple of check-ups, and then support her through labor and the birth of her baby. We've also visited a couple of others in the hospital, and been to Kofinou (the refugee camp) once, but as both of us have fairly limited time, we've unfortunately not been able to do as much as we'd like. Still, people are starting to know we exist, so that is good.

As I was about to leave, Katie phoned me and asked me to pick her up. She'd walked to church in the morning to help with cleaning up, but I'd said I might be able to pick her up, as it's getting rather warm. (In fact, it was 30 degrees yesterday (86 F), and very humid, so I would actually call that "hot" rather than warm...) I picked her up, and then we went downtown, where I wanted to try on some Birkenstocks. Seeing the prices, I think it's just as well that they did not have my size in the style I like.

Elisabeth's rehearsal for "Alice in the News" (to be performed May 27th) was 2:30 to 5:00, and I'm also helping in that class. There's a certain amount of telling people to be quiet and not sit on each other backstage, etc., but I really love this group of 7-9-year-olds, and I actually have things to DO backstage. Of the three plays, this is the one that I really enjoy working with.

And Wednesday night, after the girls were in bed, we went to Sue's and Richard's to play Cities and Knights (Settlers of Catan extention), as we do most Wednesday.


Thursday morning was walking with Sue again, and having the three extra children in the morning. Also, at the last minute I had M. for the morning (well, from late morning, and then until 4:00 p.m.), as well. She mostly sat on my lap and listened to the boys reading to me. None of my own toddlers would have done that!

Normally M. arrives at 1:30 on Thursdays, and M.'s mother takes Helen, but since I already had M., Jörn took Helen to the dance class. At 3:00 I took Katie to her drama rehearsal and picked up Helen, then we went shopping for birthday presents for Jörn, then we picked up Helen's and Elisabeth's friend Sophia, came back to the house (very close) to put the presents in the house, and then drove to the Greek Evangelical Church, where the three girls go to Midiclub, an activity group similar to Pathfinders, but as of age 3 and really only until about 8 or 9. They started it for ages 3-6, as there wasn't anything for that age group, but they've expanded it as the participants got older, and now divide into two age groups for some of the activities. That's from 4:00 to 5:30, and I used to stay and help a bit, but now I have M. until about 4:15 and Greek class at 4:30. So I drop off the girls and drive to the American Academy (which isn't far at all and I should walk...) to return M., but yesterday, M. had fallen asleep after shopping, so I parked in the shade and cleaned out the car while I waited for M.'s mother. A pair of shoes and socks belonged to Elisabeth. EVERYTHING else (drink bottles, candy wrappers, receipts, etc.) were from Jacob or Jacob's friends. I put everything in the back. Once M. had been collected, I drove back to GEC to park, as Oasis, which is where my Greek class is, is across the street.

The classes are free and are actually meant for refugees, but were made available to other people in the community if there was space. I started a week late, and the only class in which there was space was the most advanced class, which is about halfway through a book I finished eight years ago. However, since there are only two or three of us in the class, and the teacher (at my insistence!) does NOT speak English with us, it's a very good opportunity for me, and I'm hoping to finally make some more progress. We're really just using the book as a way to start conversation, and are talking much more than in any other class I've had, except for the one-on-one lessons I had last year (and would like to continue, but schedules are difficult to coordinate...). Greek finishes at 6:00, so Jörn picks up the girls (including Katie, who walks from drama) and takes Sophia home.

Last night at 8:00 I had a phone call scheduled on the topic of home education in Cyprus, which was very interesting. Jörn and I often go for a walk, but I had to wait for the phone call (which ended up being about 45 minutes long), so he went for a walk by himself.


This morning I went swimming as usual, and it's almost 8:00 now and I haven't showered yet. In the winter, I turned on the water heater before I left to go swimming, and got in the shower the moment I got home, to thaw out, but it's 28 degrees already today, so no danger of freezing, nor have I needed to use the electric water heater for a couple of months already. The girls are required to appear by 9:00, so I have some time. Lukas left with Jacob before I even got home from swimming.

Normally, Friday morning I would be home all morning and we'd get a decent amount of schoolwork done, but today I have a meeting at 11:00, with the group planning Roger Jones' upcoming tour of Cyprus with the musical "Rock," about the life of Simon Peter.

Friday is unique in that is the one day that none of us are in any way involved in theater! However, Some of us have discussed the possibility of getting involved with the drama club at the British military base, which has a group Friday afternoons...

I have M. again from 1:30 to about 3:30 (sometimes 4:30), and Sue and Richard come for dinner. Jacob, Lukas, and Katie go to youth group, and we usually have to pick up Katie.


The last several Saturdays have only had one rehearsal, but this Saturday will be Helen's group (8-10-year-olds, performing "The Twits" May 20th, and Helen is one terribly awesome Mrs. Twit) in the morning and Katie's (11-13-year-olds, "Bog Boy") in the afternoon. I'll help at both rehearsals, which with Helen's group isn't much more than occasionally raising an eyebrow, and putting away props and scenery at the end. The main reason I'm there, really, is to be familiar enough with the show to be of help to Richard in the sound box for the performance. I'm happy to do it, and it's not exciting, but it's fine.

Katie's group, on the other hand, is one that should absolutely not need anyone helping. They do not need any help with props or changing, they're old enough to help with scenery, etc., and they OUGHT to be old enough to sit quietly backstage. I spend the whole 3 1/2 hours glaring at people, physically moving people away from each other, removing props from people's hands, and holding my finger to my lips. I'm supposed to be getting familiar with the show, but haven't been able to watch much of it at all, because I'm running crowd control in the back. And their play is this Sunday.

After the rehearsal, Jacob will be arriving with his truck, and we'll be loading the scenery into it in preparation for Sunday morning.

Saturday evening, I usually go over to Sue's and Richard's to play some game that is NOT Settlers of Catan. Jörn doesn't go, because he only wants to play Settlers.


The last several Sundays there have been two rehearsals, but this Sunday, I'll be at the theater (REAL theater, or I should spell it theatre, as in Scala Theatre in Larnaka!) from 8:00 in the morning, transporting and setting up scenery. The children will arrive at 10:00 for rehearsal, at some point there will be a lunch break, and then the play is at 5:00 p.m., so we'll probably be there from 3:00 or 3:30, I guess. It's a very nice theater, but doesn't have any real dressing rooms, so most of my time back there is spent telling the boys to stay where they were told and the girls to stay where they were told. At least, that was my experience the last two years with this age group!

And this is why nobody is taking swimming lessons this year in May.

At the end of May, Catherine is off to China for a month, to perform "Just Imagine," and is taking Jacob with her for lights and sound. So there will be no drama classes or rehearsals at ALL, after having them every day of the week except Friday for the last couple of months! Unless, of course, we do check out the Dekhelia base drama clubs...Lukas and I are both interested in lights, sound, and backstage stuff, and Helen in acting.