Saturday, September 8, 2018

Blogposts written in my head

In no particular order, here are some blogposts I've meant to write and haven't. (I should add "yet," but...some of them are definitely not going to get written anyway, probably none of them...)

Throughout 2017 I kept a list of all the books I read. (After about February or March I limited it to just the books I was reading for the first time.) I still have my list of books read in December 2017, so I could still do a blogpost on that. A lot of people keep ongoing lists of what they've read, but I never had. I did so for a year, got no joy out of it, and was absolutely thrilled when I finished my first book of 2018 and thought "I don't have to go write this down anywhere!!" All cool for those who love to do it, but I don't love to do it. Every single book I've finished this year has reminded me that I'm very happy to not feel like I have to write it down!

So-called "bullet journaling" got so popular that I had no interest in it whatsoever. But as I kept seeing post after post about it, I started to get more and more intrigued, and it's sort of what I do. Nothing decorative, and almost no "journaling," but lots of ideas taken from the concept that have worked excellently for me for almost two years now. But...that could be written at any time, so no hurry.

In May I wrote a post called "Why my children are not taking swimming lessons this month," about all of our everyday things and why there simply wasn't time to add swimming lessons to the schedule. June was supposed to be way less busy, but it wasn't, so I was going to write an ironic post called "Why my children have time to take swimming lessons this month," with the just-as-crazy-as-May-but-different schedule. But I didn't, and sure won't now.

Oh yeah, and I was also going to finish writing about our trip last year, six countries in nine weeks. I don't think that will happen, either.

Then there's the fact that we looked at 25--TWENTY-FIVE!!!--properties between January (or Februrary--I can't remember, but I have it written down, but I don't feel like going and looking for that notebook at this moment...) and May this year. When we made the appointment to look at the final one, we both said that this was the last one we were looking at. We were pretty resigned to not buying a house after all, were considering other options, fine. I paid very little attention to that last house, and when the owner wouldn't come down enough in price, I wasn't surprised. And then...things happened, and that house is now ours. I thought a blogpost on some of those properties that estate agents dared show us could be interesting, or one about the issues with this house, or even one with photos of the new house...

Oh, and then there's the fact that I've been using a smartphone since April (given to me last November, but it took me that long to get up the courage to try it out...), but I'm not finding it straightforward to get photos from there to the computer, so although I have plenty of photos (way, way, WAY too many photos...), I haven't posted any on FB since June. Our camera works sporadically, but it doesn't seem worth it to replace it, with smartphones taking better quality photos now than any camera we could possibly afford.

Speaking of June, I got to go to Oxford for a weekend for a "reunion" at which I had no business being, as the people I HAD met before I had only met once, 15 years earlier...but they'd invited me, and my husband who loves to give good gifts had booked my flight before I'd absolutely confirmed that I'd understood which dates it would be!! It was an amazingly awesome time. And it was the first trip I've done all by myself since I started dating Jörn. (Which will be 25 years ago next week. So my last "all by myself" trip was to Costa Rica, just over 25 years ago, July/August 1993.)

Another topic is helicopter parenting, lawnmower parenting, and who has accused me of what. And what makes me laugh and what doesn't.

Also, how I "take criticism" in general. I had an interesting experience a few months ago, receiving two batches of fairly strong negative criticism (in that two different people told me very loudly and clearly what I had done wrong, on two different topics) on the same day. One of them, I immediately recognized what I had done wrong, apologized, and corrected it. It in no way affected our relationship, and I bore no grudges of any kind. I was wrong, and was glad to be corrected! The other, I disagreed (and still disagree), but I could have just listened and gotten over it, but what really wound me up was all the "fluff" around it, "don't want to hurt you," "hear my heart," and so on. She's welcome to her opinion. She needs to allow me to have mine. I will not do what she asked me to not do, and I will not grudge her that. But when it has nothing to do with her, I'm not going to go along with her opinion, either! (If Person B is happy with me picking her flowers, I don't need to let the fact that Person A doesn't want me to pick Person A's flowers stop me from picking Person B's flowers! And no, it had nothing to do with flowers.) Still, it wasn't even the difference of opinion that bothered me so much, but the fact that she wouldn't acknowledge that it WAS an opinion. And even more than that was the beating around the bush and claiming a bunch of other things that were irrelevant to the topic at hand. If you don't want me to pick your flowers, that's fine. I won't pick your flowers. But whether I like your dog or not is not the same topic and not relevant. Now I'm really rambling on it (practically doing the blogpost already, I guess...), so I'll stop there. Maybe I'll expand another time.

Then, as every year, there are the dates of the births of the babies we had who were born dead. (Common phrasing is "miscarried," simply because they were born before they could possibly have been revived. I don't even actually know if they were already dead at birth, since the problem was never with the babies themselves, but with the ability of my body to carry them.) I don't often think of their original due dates (I never think of the original due dates of any of my living children, either), but today was the due date for our fourth child, who was born 14 and a half years ago.

I could always throw in a post or two about home education (or homeschooling or unschooling or free range learning, or change the topic altogether and just discuss semantics...) and what my children are up to.

And I keep wanting to write about our friend Bobby, who died several weeks ago. How can there be a world without Bobby? But I can't.

And there's always the fallback of just describing a day or week in our lives. Which isn't too crazy yet, because most activities won't get started until the third week of September, or even October. (Even less crazy over the next few days, because there are only three of us at home!! Except that since the only two children home are the two youngest, I might need to arrange babysitting a couple of times, which is something I haven't had to do for awhile, with a range of resident teens to choose from...)

Any other ideas? I have lots. But in the meantime, I'm getting accolades for "all I'm doing," when the reality is that I'm not doing terribly well any of the things I'm supposed to be doing. (That could be another blogpost, a list of all the activities I've somehow found myself a part of, and WANT to be a part of, and COULD do well, but...maybe there are too many...)

This and that, buying a house, children scattered, etc....

So...I just read my last blogpost, and was interested to see that we'd just met with someone about a house, but she couldn't come down in price and we couldn't go up. That was, by the way, house number 25 that we had looked at, having started in January or February. We weren't really all that serious about buying when we started looking, more just extremely frustrated with the situation with the house where we've been living for 9 1/2 years. Then when we found out that we couldn't get a mortgage past Jörn's 65th birthday, we got a little more serious, because that put a lower cap on our maximum than we'd expected, and also meant that we would have to buy NOW or not until we have no children at home, because all we'd be able to get would be a one-bedroom flat...

Well, newsflash: we have now bought that house.

The then-owner of that house suggested contacting a different bank to see if we could get a bigger mortgage. We didn't see much point in it, as Hellenic Bank told us the age-65 limit was Cyprus law, but Jörn phoned Bank of Cyprus. They told him that Cyprus law is age 70, but usually they only give loans until age 65. There are some exceptions, but he "wouldn't qualify." They refused to tell him over the phone what the exceptions might be, so he made an appointment to meet with them in person. Eventually, they said that the reason is that retirement is at age 65. Jörn pointed out that he has a German contract and won't/can't retire before he's 67. That gives us two more years, juuuust enough to put in an offer on that house. Which was accepted. (And then the bank randomly offered to extend the mortgage for an extra year, "just because," which is fine with us. I could do a daily series for a year on the rest of the chaos, but I'll leave it at that for now.)

So...with all of our savings (the entire amount we got out of selling our flat in Germany ), a loan against one of Jörn's life insurance policies in Germany (Germans love insurance, but as we cash in one after another for things like going to the U.S. and buying a house, I'm getting the impression that "life insurance" is just German for "savings account"...), and a mortgage from the Bank of Cyprus, we bought a house last Thursday. Because yes, four months is how long it took for the bank, the seller, the lawyers, the municipality, and the land registry to all get their acts together all at the same time. And with an additional amount of credit that Jörn was able to get from the bank in Germany because he's still an employee there (on unpaid parental leave since January 2009, but still with a contract...), Jacob is building a fourth bedroom on the roof.

Lukas sort of painted one wall of his room and the majority of his stuff is now piled there. (He also took a bunch of stuff to be stored at Jacob's warehouse this morning.) He's now on his way to England to do a work experience in landscaping and gardening, for at least three or four weeks, maybe up to six weeks. (In fact, looking at the time, he should be at the airport in Paphos by now. I was going to drive him, but I have an infected tooth or something that is making my jaw hurt, meaning I didn't get much sleep and am probably not safe to drive, so when our friend Mick offered to drive Lukas, I was happy to accept. I hope to have a text within the next half hour or so saying that he's gotten through passport control okay. He's traveling on his U.S. passport, but that's another story.) (*Update* Lukas phoned to say that he got through passport control with no problems!)

Katie painted most of her room and I might finish it for her tomorrow afternoon. She and Jörn left for Germany at 5:00 this morning. Katie will be seeing an orthodontist in Germany for a second opinion, because the one here wants to do waaaaay more than we think necessary. However, no longer having German health insurance (as of two years ago when German residence laws changed), she won't be able to have treatment there anyway, we're just hoping that that orthodontist (who handled Lukas several years ago) will agree with us that "wait and see" is a viable option. Next Wednesday, Katie will fly home (her first flight by herself!), and Jörn will fly to England for another art conference.

Helen and Elisabeth and I painted Helen and Elisabeth's room a couple of weeks ago already. (After we'd paid the down payment, the owner gave us keys to the house so we could get started.) They were excellent painters. They've taken a couple of boxes over already, too.

Helen and Elisabeth and I have also put paint on a large portion of the living room walls, and Jörn did most of one wall, but some parts need a second coat, and some parts can't yet be done because I'm waiting for Jacob to repair some plaster.

We're not painting the kitchen at this point, because the kitchen is fairly ugly, and we kind of hope that in a year or two we can somehow redo the kitchen...

As for Jörn's and my doesn't exist yet. A doorway from the top of the stairs onto the roof has been knocked through the wall, but not evened out, and a bunch of stuff has been delivered, but nothing else has happened. Jacob said "three to four weeks," but started two weeks ago, so I admit that I'm getting a little nervous about whether it will be finished by the end of September...

And no bedroom for Jacob, because he plans to move out on the first of October. He's welcome to stay with us if he shares with Lukas, or puts a tent in the garden, or builds another room on the roof at his expense...

There was a break in there for dinner, during which Lukas phoned, and Helen is on the phone with my sister Erin at the moment. Elisabeth is getting ready for bed, and when she and Helen are ready, I'll read to them.

I've written a lot of imaginary blogposts in my head, maybe after the girls are in bed I'll write another one. But don't count on it...