Jun 202011
 

We spent last week visiting my parents in Northern Germany, and I thought you might like a few impressions from that trip. The weather wasn’t that gorgeous but we only got rained on once or twice. We were unusually active that week, went to the pool twice, borrowed bikes from an aunt of mine, and had a little bike tour on the day before leaving. Of course that was the day it rained but we only got mildly damp so all was well.

So we went to an open air theater and saw a production of Pippi Longstocking:

freilichtbühne

 

My mother’s roses on the living room table:

rosen

Our son got to play with my cousin’s Lego train set:

lego

And my mother’s garden full of roses (I have a thing for roses but I’ll spare you the other rose bush pictures):

moreroses

At the place where my parents live (not where I grew up but where my mother grew up), there’s a genuine castle on a hill right at the town center:

schloss

Castle entrance:

schloss1

Inner entrance (whatever it’s called):

schloss2

The keep (I think):

schloss3

Courtyard:

schloss4

Different view:

schloss5

Where you get your tickets (we didn’t go inside this time):

schloss6

Castle with sheep (You know I had to take that photo don’t you? And no, I don’t know which kind of sheep this is or where to get the fleeces, sorry.):

schafe

Castle from the other side of the hill (I know it looks as if there were a forest but there’s actually a park a bit further down):

schloss7

And that’s it. I didn’t take the camera with me on the bike ride, I didn’t take any pictures while playing mini-golf (my son’s first time), and I totally forgot to take pictures most of the time.

Now I’ve one week left before resuming regular teaching, and I really hope to pop in here once or twice in the near future.

 

Apr 212011
 

After a busy sprint towards Ester break we’re now enjoying a somewhat more leisurely pace, my family and I. Now usually at the start of any kind of break I tend to freeze, and get paralyzed with choices, and plans, and such, and this time I thought I’d learn from past mistakes and make the transition a little smoother.

We also, usually, tend to make big plans for projects of all sorts, and then in the end, spend all our time off work and school at home, each of us in his own room, doing things alone. Which is quite enjoyable but then we do like to spend time with each other as well. Even if we sometimes need a little reminder.

So this time we started Easter break even before it had begun by thinking about what things we’d like to do, and possibly when. And fit those things around the appointments that were already made in advance, like my writer’s meeting next week, and my husband’s rehearsal, and important soccer games that have to be watched on TV, and also out wedding anniversary next week. (I’ll be out that evening, at the writer’s meeting. Yes, it’s alright, I got clearance by my husband, and I plan to go out with him some day next week instead.)

Last Sunday we went on out first bike tour for this year. There was a sheep shearing fest at a local museum farm thing, called Jexhof. There were also quite a few handspinners there, representing the local guild. I have recently become a member but have never been to any meetings. So we unearthed the map with all the bike trails, looked up how to get there, decided we’d go late in favor of eating lunch at home first, packed some cookies, water bottles, sun screen, sweaters, and in my case a spindle and some fiber and set off.

When we told my mother-in-law about our plan she nearly fainted. For some reason she thought the museum was so far away it would take us about two hours to get there. Um, no, only a little more than an hour. That’s what we had guessed when looking at the map, and that’s how long it took.

The weather was fabulous, sunny and not too hot. I found that I get easily out of breath when biking uphill due to my asthma but recover very quickly. It’s still a bit weird to me, all the people we meet see a not-young, over-weight woman riding a bike, and gasping for air at the slightest molehill, and I’m the only one who knows that I’m actually quite fit. But I sure don’t look like it.

When we arrived at the historic farm there was a huge crowd. Everybody had brought the children to see the sheep being shorn. We went in anyways.

My son then went to climb trees and do other important things, while my husband was happy to sit in a quiet corner, away from the crowds, and I went to look for the spinners who were sitting in the other part of the yard where the café and most of the people were.

I actually did know one of them, a regular from the other spinning group I belong to, so I stayed and chatted, and watched sheep being shorn, and answered questions of the people passing by. “Look, that lady does crochet!” (No, she doesn’t it’s called spinning, dear.) that woman I knew before even gave me a big wad of Falkland top, very nice and soft and smooshy, and when I ran out of fiber I gathered my family, and we rode our bikes back home.

Sorry, I didn’t take any pictures at all. I’m a bad tourist. Still, it was a great day, very nice bike ride, and it felt like being on vacation for real.

 

Mar 182011
 

These days I spent most time with my son nagging him to hurry up already. From the minute I wake him in the morning to the time when I put his lights out in the evening our encounters are a string of, “Faster, you’re late, hurry up already.” This is not pleasant. I have come to resent the way he closes the zipper of his jacket or his shoes. It’s taking so much time.

He really is very slow in dressing and undressing himself, and in getting ready for anything. He – like me – has a problem with transitions. He – like me – also has a problem perceiving time. He doesn’t really feel how much time has passed, or how long things are taking. This is a real problem when he needs to get ready for school in the mornings, when he has to get home after school, and when he has to get ready for all his extra-curricular activities. His teacher even wrote about it on his report card. How much she doesn’t like reminding him every single day to get ready, get dressed and get home. Even the women who volunteer to help the children crossing streets are getting annoyed with him because he’s always the last one, and they stay there waiting and waiting instead of going home.

We have tried a lot of things, counting, setting a timer, not doing anything and sending him to school without breakfast, but what I mostly do is this constant nagging. It’s totally automatic by now, and I guess neither my son nor me listens to it. It’s just an unpleasant background noise. Sometimes I wonder why I keep doing it since my son has turned deaf to it anyway but then I found I keep nagging because at least that’s a way to release some of my frustration. So I nag, nag, nag, and then I get angry, and tap my foot.

The other day, when he was telling us that the volunteer women had threatened to report him to the school we thought about how he could become better at this. His problem is that he is easily distracted, and so when he puts on his shoes and clothes after school, and chats with the other children he won’t do both at the same time. He either chats or gets ready.

All of a sudden I realized that he doesn’t have a way to measure how much time has passed. He doesn’t know if he is going fast or slow, he is just doing one thing after the other when it occurs to him. He lives pretty much in his head so the fact that he is still standing there in slippers while most of the other children have already gone home doesn’t register with him. And it doesn’t help that the friend who walks with him is about equally slow.

So we talked it all through and for the first time ever I asked him about the other children. He said there were quite a few who were as slow as him. And we asked, “And do they live as far away as you? And do they have volunteers waiting for them as well?” Turns out that those boys live just across the street from the school. So I asked him about the children that are getting ready much faster than him. And there is one boy, his best friend who gets ready very fast. So I told my son to watch him, and try to match him. And he did, and at least he is only late coming home from school, not extremely late.

The problem is that apart from us and the volunteers waiting for him, and getting worried because there might have happened something to him, he also has two days when he comes home, has 15 minutes to eat lunch, and has to leave for school again. Now, this was his choice. We told him not to sign up for those things but he really wanted to, and so we sit there, wait for him with lunch ready on the spot, and then tell him to hurry up because he’s late.

Evenings have been getting better, and then I remembered that that was when I told him the exact time when he had to be in pajamas, and then when the lights had to be out. Of course he couldn’t know. My husband and I knew that we wanted him to turn out the lights at 8.30 but nobody had bothered to tell him. The minute we told him he could look at the clock and see how many time he had left. Of course it helps that he can read time now. You can’t really do that with most younger children but with a second-grader you can.

So yesterday evening I sat him down and told him that he has to wake up at 6.45, get out of bed at 7.00, be dressed and ready for breakfast at 7.10, brush his teeth and get ready for school at 7.25, and leave a little later than 7.30.

Well, today it worked like a charm. He did struggle a bit, and then I know it’s quite a tight schedule, but he made it. I sat the clock next to him while he was putting on his clothes, and for once he realized that he does not have time to read or play in the morning. He could sit down for breakfast and instead of me telling him, “You’re late, you’re late, you should be brushing your teeth now.” he was the one glancing at the clock saying, “I only have four more minutes before I have to brush my teeth.”

I know that our schedule in the mornings is a bit too tight but I also know that neither my son nor I are ready to get up earlier than we do because that would mean to going to bed earlier as well. And having more time does not always lead to having less stress. I know that when I have the feeling to have plenty of time for something I often end up doing everything so slow that I have to hurry up in the end anyway.

Of course, now that it worked (once) I’m a bit angry at myself for not realizing this earlier. And I’m a bit afraid that this might be one of those things that work once, and then nevermore. But then I know that when I, as a grown woman, finally realized that catching the 7.05 bus meant leaving the house at 6.55, and that meant brushing my teeth and putting on makeup at 6.45, and that meant having breakfast at 6.15, and that meant getting up at 5.45, and that meant setting my alarm for 5.30 – that felt like a revelation to me. “You mean in order to catch the bus at 7.05 I have to set the alarm more than 1 1/2 hours earlier? Oh, that’s why my timing never worked. No wonder I had to rush and scramble every single morning. Duh.”

Duh indeed. I really hope that I will cease to resent the way my son – slowly and diligently – pulls up the zipper of his jacket. Or fastens and unfastens the velcro on his shoes not once, not twice but at least four times each time he puts them on. And I really hope that I can become more than a nagging device for him.

Dec 282010
 

and I’m really enjoying the quiet time we’re having.

I also know that I haven’t written an update on my year of happiness in months, and yes, I will wrap it up eventually. I also didn’t write my yearly “List of books I’ve read” yet, and I don’t know if I will but then you can go to librarything and look up my “books read in 2010″-list.

Christmas was very nice this year, with most of the traditional elements:

Weihnachtsessen

the food

weihnachtsbaum

the tree (a bigger one this year)

weihnachtsengel

the angels my mother gave us.

I hope you have a quiet time as well.

Dec 172010
 

So today’s my son’s 8th birthday, and so I stayed up late yesterday to bake and decorate 30 cupcakes to take to school today,

cupcakes

also de-frosted the cake, decorated the breakfast table,

candles

and set all his presents out.

presents

Today I got up extra early, snuggled a bit with said son (my favorite bit of the day so far), we had breakfast all together (for the birthday even my husband got up early). Then bringing the child and the cupcakes to school, all the while feeling guilty because my MIL was out shoveling snow, and then I felt bad again when the teacher asked if I would come and get the tray later. I thought my son would be totally able to carry a tray home from school, especially when it’s empty. (For the tray full of cupcakes, not so much.) Only later did I realize that in today’s culture where walking through the snow is considered cruel punishment most parents would have picked up both the child and the tray. It’s really weird that I have my mom guilt-moments at the exact time when I’m spending all my time and energy doing things for the son instead of me.

Then a bit of drinking tea and chatting with husband, then errands again, now I’m all set with buying presents. Then hanging up of laundry, and running for 30 minutes (indoors!), having lunch with my son and his friend. His friend is about the loudest talking kid I know. When I went to the annex to take a shower my husband said, “Guess what pitch our son’s friend’s talking is.” I said Ab. I was right. (This flummoxes me a little, and makes me proud.)

Then I made them both do homework, then I taught two piano students, then I started writing this and had a piece of birthday cake, then I taught four more students, and then was now.

I haven’t knit or spun any so far. Now I’m waiting for my last student of the day and then it’s beer o’clock.

Tomorrow I will host a Star Wars birthday party. So far I have everything I need for a cake with blue frosting, green colored soda, extra strong paper and elastic for making masks, and a list of game ideas. And origami paper for folding x-wing-fighters. I have the feeling that beer o’clock will come early tomorrow, and that I won’t be doing anything on Sunday.

I have been all bake-y lately, I even made my very first Stollen. Lactose-free and only a trace of fructose:

Stollen

The end.

Jul 172010
 

I had such a great day that I forgot to take pictures:

– spinning orange Merino/Silk while watching the Tour de France on TV

– my husband staying home unexpectedly (he had planned to go to a party and stay overnight)

– barbecue in the rain (both we and the barbecue were in a dry place)

– baking bread (it’s rising as I write this).

I know it’s a bit weird, turning this blog into a photo blog. There are so many unwritten blog posts rolling around in my head, and I can’t seem to find the time to write them down at the moment. Blogging became just one more thing on my list that I didn’t manage to do in time. So I decided to take the pressure off. At the same time there were two people reminding me about taking photographs, both visitors who came into our house for the first time. Both of them asking about the pictures on our walls. Which reminded me that I was the one who had taken them. And that I sometimes like to photograph. So for now you’ll get more frequent posts with less words. I also was inspired by Amanda Soule who always fills my heart with joy.

The funny thing is that by taking pictures of the things I love about each day my mood has lifted, and I feel a bit lighter and happier.

Apr 292010
 

I’ve been to one of these semi-compulsary parent-teacher things again. (And be warned, this post is epic, sorry.) It’s called ‘Eltern-Stammtisch’, and I’m sorry but I can’t really translate that. ‘Eltern’ means ‘parents’, and my online dictionary tells me that ‘Stammtisch’ means ‘regular’s table’ which is one meaning of this, but a ‘Stammtisch’ is also a regular informal meeting in a bar. Which in this case is a bit misleading since I always expect beer and merriment only to be greeted with an agenda (and this time there was even someone writing minutes).

So it works like this: the teacher tells the ‘Elternsprecher’ (insert long-winding explanation, that’s one of the parents of the students in my son’s class who was elected to be our spokesperson) that she wants an informal meeting, we all get nice photo-copied invitations, arrange for baby-sitters and such and meet at a restaurant. A greek restaurant this time which was a bonus. Especially since I had to go there directly after work without having had dinner. Then we have a meeting that doesn’t really feel informal while eating pita and feta cheese, and drinking wine. Then you chat, and then you go home.

In my case I chat, I feel bad, I drink too much, I go home, and then I grab my poor long-suffering husband only to rant about all the other parents, the system, and modern times. I was quite good at first. This time I only ordered water since I was really tired and exhausted after a long, long day of teaching, aka talking to people. I know what happens if I sit down in front of a beer when I’m tired. I a) don’t ever get up again, and b) talk about twice as much as usual which goes on everybody’s nerves, mine included. I like talking but really, I already know all my stories. Well, most of them anyway.

So I was good, I ordered water, I brought something easy to knit because that makes me more patient, I ordered something nice to eat because I was hungry. Also I knew that drinking water would bring me home earlier because I could have a beer at home later. So all was fine. Then the teacher announced that there would be a kind of spring celebration at the end of May. Everybody is invited to participate, maybe play a nice song (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). I already knew about this so I was totally prepared to bring my guitar and sing the one song that I know by heart. It should have been something about spring or animals but I thought since this is a love song, in a way, all would be fine.

The celebration thingy of course would be held in the afternoon so that the parents who work (out of home) can attend too. Nice thought. It will start at four o’clock in the afternoon. On a Wednesday. – I’m sorry but I burst out laughing. Wednesday is one of my busiest teaching days, and my first thought was, “No way can I make this, well, you just have to celebrate spring without me.” Next thought (and the mothers among you will recognize that one). “If I only move three students, and then get home early I could make it.” I then made the mistake of saying that I might be able to reschedule something and come after all. Then I thought, “Susanne, are you crazy? That would mean prepare food for that while you don’t have time, move three students around, rush there, play a song nobody wants to hear anyway, grab my child telling him that we have to go now, no matter if everybody else is still staying because I have to teach my last student of the day, and then run home to work again.” Also there are no empty slots in my timetable to move the three students to.

When I came home and told my husband about this he said, “Are you crazy? You can’t do something like this on a Wednesday afternoon, you’re working Wednesday afternoon, why did you even think about it?”

Why I did? I did because I hadn’t seen my son for more than twenty minutes at a time that day, because I have the feeling that he will feel bad if everybody goes to the spring thing but him, or everybody goes with their parents and he has to go with a friend or with his grandmother, and that I’m a bad mother.

Of course. Again. Because, you see, all these other mothers know every single homework that their children had had, and how they spent every single minute at school. My son when asked about his day in school says, “It was fine. Can I read while eating lunch?” (To which the answer is no every single day but that’s another topic for another post.

I don’t see his homework nor do I want to, I don’t really know what he did, and it’s hard enough to coax him into giving me all those pieces of paper that I’m supposed to read or sign.

And my son doesn’t find school particularly fascinating, interesting, or challenging. Just now he is sitting outside in the sun, taking turns reading a comic book aloud with a friend. The other child is in third grade. Guess which child is the better reader.

Yesterday at the meeting everybody was going on about a test the children had just had about telling the time. Evidently only three or four students in the whole class had answered the second question correctly. When we talked about this yesterday I assumed every child had made the same mistake as mine but no – the mistake he made didn’t count because the others didn’t even get what the question was about.

All the other parents (well, all that talked at that moment) were all about how the test had been too hard, and how the children are too young to learn to tell the time, and how children are supposed to start school at a younger age than before but they’re still supposed to learn the same things. I did say something, and maybe that was a wrong move, because while the official policy is to have children start school earlier the unofficial policy that parents and kindergarten teachers seem to follow is having them start school later. When you look at the children’s birthdays you find that most of them aren’t that young. One boy is turning eight in May, my own son is already 7 1/2. That’s not particularly young for first grade.

So the general consensus is that school is too hard, and that the children can’t learn all this stuff because they’re too young. Like one of my student’s parents said last week, “He couldn’t do his homework, it was too hard.” To which I should have replied, “Madam, the homework is hard, I know, but I know that if you’re son who is more intelligent than you give him credit for would just try a little thinking now and then he could have done it. Just because you can’t do it doesn’t mean he can’t.” What I did say is, “I have been teaching this for decades now, I know he can do it.” And rightfully so, he said down at the keyboard, started playing the song, it sounded terrible I said, “Why are you starting the right hand at G?” he really looked at the music and had it. Yep. Too hard, definitely.

I often feel like a bad mother. Right now I should probably be outside and share some incredible mother-son experience with my son, only he wanted to play with his friend instead. And I’m fine with that. Today I felt bad when he gave me another test they had had in school, math this time. He had everything right but two sums. And my first thought was not, “Wow, he was almost perfect.” my first thought was, “Why did he make these stupid mistakes?” Because those were only lack of concentration. He made those mistakes because he couldn’t be bothered to check. Now I get why my mother was always angry at me for not applying myself enough, like, at all. I also remember that it didn’t feel like that from the inside. So I didn’t share my first thought with my son, I said, “Wow! You were almost perfect!” but I couldn’t help adding, “Look at these two mistakes, I think those were lack of concentration. You could have had a flawless test here.”

When I was among all these other mothers yesterday evening I suddenly felt lacking because my life is not like theirs. Because comparing myself to them, which is a sort of sin in itself, I felt inadequate and as if I weren’t loving my son enough. Which is clearly bullshit. Sitting next to my son every day when he does homework does not make him a better person or even a better student. Quite the contrary. And it’s not as if he had to sit there doing it all alone, his grandmother is there, she makes sure that he does all his homework, and there’s always someone to ask. I really would like to have a job where I don’t have to work afternoons when my son is home but on the other hand he really doesn’t need me hovering about him all the time. Also I think doing homework together is overrated as a bonding experience.

The problem is that when I spend time with all these other parents, these ‘full time moms’ (there were a few dads too) I feel like an alien. I say something, they don’t really get what I’m saying, I feel inadequate, they probably feel inadequate too, you know how it is, and so my husband is right:

I have to stop going to these things. It doesn’t do anybody good. I usually go to show that I’m willing, and that I want to participate in school life but I’m fooling no one.

I really like the teacher, and I don’t have anything against the other parents, when the class is going on excursion to the museum I’m in. That’s easy to fit in for me because I have mornings off. For things like that spring celebration? I’ll buy a dozen bagels, and send my son off with his grandma while I teach. Everybody will have a good time.

Sorry, but I can’t be a full time mother. I can’t be a full time anything. But it’s still bothering me, of course.

And then I remember that I went to another ‘Eltern-Stammtisch’ the week before. A really informal one, and that I had a great time there.

Feb 102010
 

So, yes, I am definitely happier than I was last year, I’m doing something right here. Of course, I’m writing this now after a night of completely uninterrupted eight hours of sleep. If I had written it yesterday it might have turned out a bit different since I had 4 1/2 hours of sleep that were interrupted four times.

As I told you last month I made a bunch of resolutions. Those were:

  1. Go to bed on time.
  2. Pick up after myself.
  3. Write 500 words of fiction at least six times a week.
  4. Think about the things I love about my family, students, and friends.
  1. And again, I didn’t manage to go to bed on time very often but still I have slept more than the months, or years, before. I find that I have to cancel watching DVDs most evenings. In order to get enough sleep it’s a very good idea for me to go to bed very, very early, and just read a bit. That’s seriously cutting into my knitting time but still, every single day I manage to sleep enough or nearly enough I feel happier the next day.
  2. I’ve been doing very well on the “picking up after myself front, and that makes me happier as well. There are still heaps and piles in some areas but I’m getting there. And I manage to do a bit more housework which my husband appreciates very much.
  3. I did write 500 words of fiction (or sometimes more) about five times a week. It seems that there’s always something coming up, and that six times a week is very hard to accomplish. But still I have several thousands of words more of my story than I had before January. It’s great.
  4. I didn’t do that well on the “thinking about the things I love about my family, students, and friends”-front. Especially with my son I got decidedly cranky. But I can say that his sleeping is getting better. It did take a bit of a threat, though, I have told him that he is not to come to me at all until morning. Since he wants me to leave both his and my bedroom door open all night so I can hear him I told him if he so much as calls me throughout the night I will not only close the door but lock it. Apparently that was just the thing it took. You might want to wish me luck, we’re currently working on the “debate everything your mother says”-issue.

The other thing that makes me happy is that I’m starting to lose weight. Well, to be honest I’m down by 100 grams over the last month but still that’s something because over the last two years my weight has been climbing up every single month. Losing weight is something I hope to achieve through becoming a happier person but I’d say the goal of happiness is much better than the one of getting slim.

The thing that makes me even happier than losing a hundred grams is that I might be starting to exercise again. I did some yoga on Sunday (very slow, very easy yoga that made me realize how much out of shape I am), and yesterday I did my very first ever “Couch to 5k”-workout. See, I’m decidedly not a runner. I’m not built for it, not even when I’m a normal weight and fit, and I have never been able to run for any length of time. But when I was thinking about what kind of person I want to be I found that I’m really envious of people like my husband who just put on their running shoes and then go off jogging through the fields for an hour or so. And then I thought about what Mel had started some time ago, and then I read Kris’ post about how she managed to run a marathon, and that got me motivated.

I didn’t know whether I should talk about it here because all I’ve done so far is alternately walk and jog for a total of thirty minutes once, and I did it at home just staying in one spot (and I know that’s not quite the same as moving forward while doing it, but trust me I did work out and I can feel every single muscle in my lower body right now). I’m not about to go out on the street with this anytime soon, and I’ll never run a marathon for sure, ever. But still. I feel pretty amazing having tried out something new. I plan to do the next session of walking and running tomorrow in the morning.

So this will be the fifth resolution in my “happiness project”, exercise three times a week or more.

Feb 042010
 

Well, most of last week was devoted to prepare my husband’s birthday party on Saturday. We started buying groceries on Wednesday, and just before we went out of the house I decided to check my e-mail, and – my computer froze on me and went dead. I tried to remain calm, did not frantically try to get it working again but instead went out with my husband to get vegetables, meat, and wine.

After we came back I switched my dead Macbook for my eight year old eMac, and hoped that I could use that for teaching. What a good thing that I had made a backup just days ago. The only thing that would have been gone forever where 1,000 words of the story I’m currently writing.

Wednesday was also the day my new notebook arrived. I absolutely love it. I have been tip-toeing around it for about a year now, thinking that I’d make one myself but it never happened. I even bought a poor substitute that I never was happy with, and that destroyed the lining in my favorite handbag with its sharp edges. I always carry a notebook, and I love that this can hold regular sized notebooks as well as loose sheets of paper.

Thursday morning I spent making lists of ingredients, and timelines for party preparations (in my new notebook), and copies of all the recipes we needed. Thursday afternoon I went to buy even more groceries. (In between I kept turning my dead computer on, and off again, and then I found that sometimes it booted from the installation disk, and that the diagnostic software claimed that the hard disk was still perfectly functional.)

Friday we did a little cleaning, then there was a great amount of teaching (as most days but that Friday was near insane). I was totally flustered because of both the looming party, and the fact that every single lesson brought up something that I needed on my computer. Also the eMac doesn’t work with my iPods. Or with any of my student’s. I started spending my free moments looking longingly at new computers. And I found that the new Macbook doesn’t come with a Firewire connection. Which I desperately need for my audio stuff.

In the afternoon one of my students suggested something for my computer that didn’t work but it brought me to a point where I googled “Macbook grey screen beeping” and found out that my problem was not a dead computer but faulty RAM. Bingo! I still had some RAM in a drawer because when I bought the computer I had immediately upgraded. And once I switched that for the old one the computer was working again. Phew! I immediately did a backup of everything.

My husband and I spent the rest of the evening preparing onions, ginger, and seasonings for next days party. And we rehearsed the Bach piece he had wanted to play for our guests. Through rehearsing we found out that the piano had de-tuned itself over the past two weeks. My poor husband had to try and match his violin to a piano that produced several pitches at once.

Our son spent the night at his grandmother’s place, very helpful. Saturday was spent cutting, and stirring, and seasoning, and cooking, and baking. In the end I barely made it into my “party clothes” and make-up, and I was really, really happy that I had insisted on setting the tables first. Which meant carrying the tables, and chairs, and plates, and glasses, and silverware down from my mother-in-laws apartment, before setting everything up. My mother would have been proud, I even had matching paper napkins.

We made Samosas, Pakoras, Naan bread, Lamb stew, fish curry, Dal, Almond Chicken, and mango creme. Doesn’t sound that much work, doesn’t it? Only we made everything from scratch, and somehow it took about nine hours to prepare everything. With the added bonus that all the dishes had to be ready at the same time, of course. I’m so not going into catering.

The party itself was very nice, only I didn’t enjoy it that much, I was just too tired. Our son managed to sprain his ankle for the second time that day, claiming that he had broken it. Well, it wasn’t broken but it wasn’t fully functional either. The party went on until three in the morning when my husband’s brother left. That conversation with him between one and three was the highlight of the day for me.

The next morning after about five hours of sleep we started cleaning and putting everything away. That went on for the whole day as well. In between we had an argument with our son who wanted to attend a birthday party despite his sprained ankle. In the end we caved in, and I took my mother-in-laws car to drive him over to that indoor playground about fifteen minutes from here. (And still I don’t know why it’s reasonable to have a birthday party where every single child gets carted around by his parents. I would have had to spend one hour in the car to get him there and back.) When we arrived at the playground thing and I got out of the car it smelled somewhat funny but I didn’t think about it. I got my son to the party, and left to go home. After some time the car started to behave in a weird way. Well, I barely got home and when I did the car stank and a woman passing on the sidewalk said, “Is your hand brake on? Haha.” Haha, very funny. At first I felt very dumb for not realizing that I had forgotten the hand brake but then I thought again, how I always check it at every single light I pass. Well, it seems that years and years of putting the car in a closed garage that’s not really ventilated might cause your hand brake to rust so that it can’t be disengaged anymore. Fun.

Now how to get my child back from the birthday party? My child that could barely walk? Before researching public transportation I remembered that there was one other mother that I recognized, and I had her phone number. I was lucky because she was home, and she agreed to take my son with her. Phew.

Monday was a quiet day, and we started to relax. Only the annex seemed to get a little cold. We didn’t think much of it and went our merry ways. On Tuesday it was clear that something with the heating was not right. But it was only the annex, not the main house. (This always sounds like we’re living in a mansion but we have a very small, very old house to which we built a three-room-annex for teaching.) So we decided to call the furnace guy the next day.

Just after teaching that day my son and mother-in-law came down the stairs and my MIL said she couldn’t bring him to do his homework. When my husband and I told him to do it right this minute he said, “Not yet…” It was six in the evening! So I threatened him into completing his homework (which took all of ten minutes, whining and crying included), and then he handed me a letter from his teacher. I’m to come in on Friday, it seem that we’re not the only ones having slight problems with him at the moment. (As an aside, we already have an appointment to get help, no worries.)

Well, we didn’t take that all that well. That evening I declared that from now on he was to sleep in his bed all night long, no exceptions. (As I explained in my last post we have a contract now, and this has resulted in him falling asleep in his bed but still every night he came over to sleep in the sleeping bag on the floor.) I had told him this but still he was very surprised when at 5 in the morning there was no sleeping bag in my bedroom for him. I told him to go back to his room and stay there. He cried, he started to bargain, but I had none of it, he had to stay. (By the way, he didn’t even mentioned being afraid that night. Seems like his fear was a convenient tool.) The rest of the night was somewhat unrestful, I had to put him back to his bed every 30 minutes or so but his protests became softer and softer.

The next day I realized that a) I had to find a way to get to the health food store without a car, and b) if I didn’t get to the big city that day the next time I could would be a week from now. So I left in a hurry while my husband phoned the furnace repair people. I went to the big city and ordered my new piano, something that would merit its own post if my life weren’t so full at the moment. We had realized that it would take us ages to save enough money for the piano, and that our regular expenses had gone down (no more daycare fee and one mortgage paid off). So I went in and ordered my new, shiny, black piano, and it’ll get here in two weeks or so.

Before leaving I received my very first shipment of the Rockin Sock Club, something really exciting but I didn’t have time to open the package yet. When I came back from my adventures in the city, laden with groceries and very hungry the furnace guy arrived and I spent the next thirty minutes helping him decipher the manual for the part of the furnace that controls the annex. Then my husband came to tell me that I had exactly ten minutes left to eat lunch before my first student arrived. (Then he spent the next hour or so helping the furnace guy who then phoned his boss who came also in.) For now we have heat in the annex again, and there will be a new part to be put in in a couple of days.

Then I taught for the rest of the day, spent the evening knitting for the first time in days, and fell asleep like a stone. I was waken by my son at 2 a.m. clutching his pillow, a blanket, and a big bag of stuffed animals but I sent him back to his room, and he didn’t even cry!

Today my husband decided to try the car again, and came back saying it went fine, nothing wrong with it. So I took it to buy groceries and get the beer cases from the party back to the store. The car acted a bit weird when I left the garage, and once I went down the street there was this “wup wup”-noise coming from the tire back right as if I had a flat. I turned around immediately and drove home again. Of course my husband thought I’d gone all female on him but when he checked the car again he barely got back into the garage after moving it for about three meters back and forth. So the car is clearly broken. Fortunately this is mostly my mother-in-laws problem since it’s her car but since we all use it we’ll pay half of the repair. Unless it’s very expensive which will mean it won’t be worth it. We already decided that we won’t buy a new car again. We’ll see.

So now I hope that the next week will be a little quieter. Tomorrow I’ll see my son’s teacher, some time the next week we’ll get our heating in order again, and then I’ll get my new piano, and then we’ll have “winter break” for a week.

How are your lives going? Exciting as well?

Oh, and by the way I have a piano to sell. It’s walnut, about thirty years old, and just had a complete overhaul.