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Sunday, September 16, 2018

Not a Baby Any More

Today William padded over to me while I was making brownies.  He lifted his chubby arms beseechingly to me, "Mommy! Mommy! Up!"  A few days ago I caught him coloring on the floor with a green marker.  I looked at him, he looked at me, and then he put the cap on the marker, got up, and handed it to me while looking fairly abashed.  When we fold our arms to pray before dinner, he looks around at all those pairs of arms quietly folded and quickly folds his own.

My baby isn't a baby any more.

I've found that I don't see my children grow up gradually.  I see them as a baby or a toddler or a little child or a big child or a young women for years.  And then one day, my perspective shifts and they've moved on to the next stage.  I stop seeing them, treating, and expecting them to act as a baby and everything changes at once to toddler.  Yesterday they couldn't be expected to talk and today they are. 

William has been our baby for the last year and a half, but now we don't have a baby anymore.  He can feed himself (not with silverware and not soup), he gets up and down stairs without any hesitation, he lets himself out to play in the yard, he often does what I ask him to, he tries to repeat whatever I tell him, and he makes faces that he finds to be very, very funny.

I've found after having a few children that my favorite child stage is eighteen months to three years, and William has only reinforced that preference.  He is mostly cognizant of what is going on and is starting to communicate, but he hasn't become willful yet.  I love the stupid, unknowing, innocent gaze of a toddler and their wholeheartedly delighted smile and laugh when you please them.  I love how snuggling into my shoulder with a blanket makes everything in the world right again, and they are endlessly delighted by reading Where the Wild Things Are every single night.

Having a child who is right on the edge of bursting into full young womanhood helps me appreciate my sweet little toddler even more.  I know that soon enough he will be straining to grow up and become part of the adult world and for now I am happy to delight him with a second brownie followed by a tickle at bedtime.  And also, that oldest daughter can help with the dishes while I'm singing a second song to William before putting him to bed.

I used to be so anxious for my babies to grow up because I needed them to become something other than another burden in my already-full load.  But now the load has been shared around and I can enjoy savoring the sweet innocence of toddlerhood.  Soon enough it will only be a memory, so I'll hold on tight as long as I can.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Uzbek Campsite Reconnaissance, or My, How Close Kazakhstan Is!

Katheen's contribution:

This past Monday was Labor Day, and Mom decided to take us all into the mountains for campsite reconnaissance and a picnic. The Uzbek mountains are not as close as the Tajik ones were, so it’s a bit of a drive to go hiking. Mom had seen this nice lake (actually a reservoir), and wanted to check it out. Once we got close to the lake, we saw the dam. It was huge, and we thought we were pretty close to some awesome campsites. We found this winding road, and we went up and down, hoping to get close to the lake.            

But any side road was either part of some local’s dacha complex or led to a lakeside village. Turns out, Uzbeks are a lot like Tajiks. Wherever there’s a nice lakeside spot, there is bound to be a house. Now, we found plenty of not lakeside campsites, but Sophia had been hoping for a lakeside campsite, and apparently, Joseph agreed. When we drove out of the last village, Joseph was almost in tears. “Stupid Uzbeks!” he fumed. “We wanted to go camping!”

I was about done, but Dad wanted to go a bit farther. We drove until we got to this gated place with lots of semi-trucks. Dad got out and spoke to a guy in uniform. Turns out, it was the Kazakhstan-Uzbekistan border! None of us had our passports, so we drove back home. Now, we can say we have driven to Kazakhstan. We hope you also have an interesting Labor Day!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Operation Steal Kay Kay’s Heart

Kathleen has asked to contribute to the blog.  I warned her that she wasn't going to earn fame and glory because this blog will never go viral, but she still wanted to write for the blog.  She'll be periodically contributing, which is whenever she feels like it.  Blogging is not a required activity in our house.

Edwin is a very secretive person. He mostly keeps to himself, but has some interesting schemes. One of these is to get William into Kay Kay’s heart. To make William appear to the best advantage, Edwin dressed him in a velvet jacket with a tie and loafers. At first, the scheme didn’t appear to be making any progress. But this week, Kay Kay started to notice William.
And why did Edwin want William in Kay Kay’s heart? Edwin adores William, and likes the attention that William gets around the world. But Kay Kay seemed more interested in 4-month-old Timothy, so Edwin devised this scheme to get William in the limelight of Kay Kay’s heart. We hope your brothers’ schemes are successful.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Why having two cars is probably a good thing

Last week I used the car.  Right now we only have one car, and in fact we've only ever had one car for the entire duration of Brandon's and my marriage.  We technically owned two cars while in language training for Dushanbe, but since they were on two different continents, I don't think that counts.

When I use the car, Brandon can't use the car.  This mostly doesn't cause problems - he gets a taxi to work, he catches a taxi to come home.  But it wasn't that simple last week.

I spent the morning at horseback riding with the children.  The lesson went long, so I went home, stripped off my sweaty riding clothes, changed into regular clothes, and headed to the embassy for a medical appointment.  I had a few (non-emergency) things to discuss with the FSHP which took awhile.  I was finished around 12:30.

The plan was for me to get a taxi home and leave the car keys with Brandon, who had a dentist appointment in the afternoon.  So I met up with him and we walked out to get me a taxi.  Tashkent has a really great app, MyTaxi, which allows me to set up the pick-up and drop-off point when ordering a car.  I searched for a taxi, but there were none available.  I searched again, and again, and again.  No taxis. 

We thought about flagging a taxi off the street, but Brandon wasn't confident in my ability to correctly direct the driver back to our house.  Tashkent taxi drivers are simply people who drive you places, not people who know how to get where you are going.  If you don't know the directions to your destination, you're usually out of luck.  It doesn't help that our road has two names and is about a quarter of a mile long in a small neighborhood so nobody knows of it.  We spent two hours one night convincing a delivery driver that yes, our house really existed.  Nobody knows our road unless they actually live on it. 

The next logical answer was to have Brandon drive me home.  We live the same distance to the embassy here as we did in Dushanbe - three miles - but the speed limit is slower and there are almost ten times the number of stoplights.  Instead of taking 15 minutes, it takes about 25 minutes to drive home from the embassy. 

This would have worked fine on a normal day, but Brandon's dentist appointment was at 2:30, and he had to leave by 2:00 to get there on time.  In addition to his dentist appointment, he also had to get cash out at the cashier.  We were in the process of buying a car from someone leaving post, and they wanted the money in cash.  Their flight left Sunday night, and this was the last day Brandon could get cash out.  Unfortunately, the cashier was closed for lunch and didn't re-open until 2:00.  It was 1:15 when we realized this. 

So Brandon went to his office to finish a few things.  I had some lunch since I wasn't going to be getting home any time soon.  Then I texted the housekeeper to let her know that I was going to be gone for quite a bit longer and told her to go home when her work was done.  Next I texted the Russian teacher to let her know that I would be missing my lesson, but to go ahead and teach the children their lessons.  After that I texted a friend and cancelled our play date for that afternoon.  And finally I called Kathleen and let her know the situation: 1. I would be gone for several more hours 2. Make sure everyone was somewhat behaved 3. Don't kill anyone. 

Then I read a book.

At two, Brandon got the cash, and then we both went to the car.  I (poorly) navigated him halfway across town, getting us to the appointment only ten minutes late.  We had no idea how long everything would take, so I spent two hours watching old Soviet movies (it was a very strange experience watching the peasants singing and bringing the harvest in and realizing that I was in a place where they were the good guys) and reading while Brandon had filling stuffed into his tooth roots. 

And then, finally, I got to go home - only five hours after I had intended to be home.  The children were all intact, the house looked fine, and William was very relieved to see me. 

I've debated the past few months whether or not we really needed two cars.  I know that I'm very happy that we will have them, but my miser side has insisted that it's a poor use of resources.  But after Friday, I'm pretty sure that I can tell my miser side to quit complaining.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Impressions of Tashkent from the window of a car

We've had the car for a few weeks now and have done some, but not much, exploring of Tashkent.  We've been here eight weeks now and my house definitely feels like home, but the city still is a foreign place.  Dushanbe was small enough that it was pretty easy to get to know a good portion of the city, but Tashkent definitely will take a bit longer.

When we first got here, I would look at the map and estimate how long it looked like it would take to get to a place in the city.  But there's something funny about the scale because it usually took three times what I thought it would take.  What looked like a five-minute drive in Dushanbe would turn out to be a fifteen minute drive in Tashkent.  It took a while to get used to that - there was hardly anywhere in Dushanbe that took fifteen minutes, much less half an hour.  Drive for half an hour in Dushanbe and you could be at the head of your favorite hiking trail.

I've never had to navigate a large city like Tashkent before.  Cairo was enormous - it took two hours to get to a wedding that was only halfway across town - but we hardly ever ventured outside our neighborhood, which was small enough that we could walk most places.  Baku had terrible traffic - it could take Brandon over an hour two drive three miles home from work - but it wasn't a very big city.  There were areas further out, but we stuck to a pretty small area and it was pretty easy to get to know that area.  Dushanbe was just small.  It had two major roads and that was about it.

But Tashkent is a big city - in fact, it was the third largest city in the former Soviet Union.  I've discovered that one of the major reasons it is so big is because a whole lot of people live in houses (I have no idea what the percentage is, so I'm sticking with "a whole lot").  There are definitely Soviet-style apartment buildings, but I've been surprised at how many houses there are.  If you look at a map, it looks like there are significantly more houses than apartment buildings, so that makes for a much more sprawling city.

Uzbek houses have a feature that I really enjoy - the outside-the-gate yard.  In Dushanbe and Baku, the houses were all in walled compounds, with the walls going right up to the street.  It made for very private houses, but pretty ugly roads.  Here in Uzbekistan, the houses are still all in walled compounds, but almost all the houses have a yard outside the gate.  Some foreyards (my very own term) are practically forests and some are carefully tended with lovely flowers and carefully trimmed shrubs, but they make walking and driving through neighborhoods very pleasant.  Unfortunately our foreyard is just grass.  But all of our yard is just grass, so I guess it makes for easy maintenance.

While driving around Tashkent, I've also noticed that the roads are very wide.  Usually there are four or six lanes.  This makes traffic less troublesome to deal with, especially since everyone isn't double-or triple-parking like in Baku.

And the reason that they aren't double- and triple-parking is because there are lots and lots of parking lots.  I've never lived in a city with so many parking lots - the bazaars have parking lots, the grocery stores have parking lots, the malls have parking lots, the water parks have parking lots, and there is always ample parking on the street.  I had friends in Baku who hired drivers just so they didn't have to park their cars because parking is so terrible, so I'm very happy to not have to stress about parking once I finally get to wherever I'm going.  You people in America may laugh, but you never realize the beauty of parking lots until you live in a place where they don't exist.

Brandon and I are divided on the driving here in Tashkent.  He feels that the driving is worse than Dushanbe, and I think it is better, but it's probably just different.  There are speed cameras so there isn't as much speeding as in Dushanbe.  But there are a lot more lights and turning left often is a bit of a scramble as everyone is trying to cross three lanes of traffic.  There are definitely fewer pedestrians crossing at random points, which is nice.  And since almost all of the roads have medians, nobody tries to pull the ridiculous red-light behavior that drove both Brandon and me insane in Baku.

I think that Tashkent is going to take a little bit of time to get to know.  But we plan on staying here long enough that by the end I'll wonder how I ever felt like I didn't know this city well enough to feel right at home.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Root Canal

Two weekends ago, Brandon's tooth started hurting.  Our family has been blessed with remarkably good dental health - neither Brandon nor I got any cavities until after we had been married (I blame Utah's lack of water fluoridation), and none of the children have ever gotten cavities.  When we were living in DC before going to Baku, Brandon had a close call with a potential root canal, but our good dentist in Baku was able to fill the tooth and avoid the full workup.

But when Brandon came home from work one Friday and mentioned that his tooth was hurting and then woke up Saturday with it hurting even more, I knew that our streak of good luck had ended.  He took a lot of pain medication to get through the weekend and Monday morning visited with the med unit to discuss who to see about teeth.  

Dushanbe had one dental clinic that was sometimes okayed by the med unit and sometimes banned by the med unit (the issue was sterilization of instruments), so I wasn't sure what Tashkent had to offer.  The FSHP recommended a place to get the tooth checked out, but cautioned Brandon about getting anything too drastic done.  "You should be okay with a filling or a cleaning, but I probably wouldn't recommend a root canal.  That should probably be done in London.  You're never quite sure how good they are at those things here."

Brandon called the clinic and he was able to get an appointment for that day.  He made it there after some hairy driving (turns out that Google maps is a lot less useful when it doesn't give directions) and met the dentist.  

Brandon has been speaking Russian for two decades, but he was happy that dentist spoke English.  The funny thing about foreign languages is that that you learn vocabulary based on what you need it for.  So he knows lots of Russian terms about religion and labor issues, but knows no words for things like horseback riding or dentistry.  He stayed very far away from any dentists' offices in Ukraine; one of the branches on his mission met over a dentist's office and they would often hear the children screaming while they were meeting on Sundays.

So when the dentist led off in English, he was happy to continue chatting with him in that language.  

"So, what is the problem?" the dentist started out.

"Well, my tooth is hurting."

"All the time? Or only when you eat?"

"All the time."

"Sounds like you've got pulpitis. You're probably going to need a root canal.  Mind if I take a quick look?"

Brandon got into the chair an opened his mouth so the dentist could look over his painful tooth.  The dentist prodded, poked, and then pulled out a needle.  He poked Brandon with the needle, started some serious digging, and then pulled out an even longer needle.  Before long the digging turned to drilling, and the dentist was no longer taking a quick look.

Later, Brandon told me that he knew by that point that he was halfway to getting a root canal.  He also knew that the med unit had told him specifically not to get a root canal in Uzbekistan.  But, as he told me later, "What was I supposed to do?  They had my mouth wrenched open, I had been poked by several needles, and the drill was making some serious inroads into my tooth.  It's not like I could hop up, thank them for their time, and make a quick getaway.  So, obviously, I stayed and got a root canal.  Maybe if we had been speaking Russian, the dentist would have been able to communicate better, but it was too late to worry about language differences."

I know that root canals can be quite expensive - thousands of dollars in the US - so I took a deep breath before asking him the bill.  

"Now remember, this is just for the root canal," he cautioned me, "I still have to get the filling and crown done."  When he told me the total - 118,000 som - I did some quick calculation and came up with $148.  Not bad, considering.  Then I did another calculation and realized that I had the decimal off - it wasn't $148, it was $14.80.  It cost less than getting McDonald's for our entire family.  

Brandon still had two more appointments before he was restored to full dental health, and in the end he had to lay down a whopping 594,000 som for a root canal, filling, and crown.  With the exchange rate, it ended up being $74.  

So we'll see how the root canal ends up long term.  A few weeks out, Brandon is feeling fine, so I figure it's working out pretty well so far.  And at $74 a pop, we can probably get it done again if we need to.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Horseback riding

One day over six months ago, I made a decision.  I used to ride horses a very long time ago, but had to stop when I was a teenager.  I've always missed riding, and have tried to ride when I've had the chance, but I haven't had that much opportunity.  When I was younger I didn't have money and as I got older and have had more children, I haven't had the time.  I felt selfish leaving the children every week so I could ride, so I haven't.

But one day I decided that I wanted to ride again.  I spend a lot of time taking care of the children and I finally gave myself permission to do something that I like to do just because I wanted to.  The lovely thing about children getting older is that some flexibility comes back into your daily life.  After making that decision, I realized that I could have my cake and eat it to - not only would I ride, but the children would ride, too. 

We haven't done any sports with the children because of my own laziness.  I don't like running around taking children to activities, and there haven't been that many opportunities anyway.  I briefly considered ballet in Baku until I realized that it would take three hours every week.  We tried to start karate in Dushanbe with a teacher who would come to our house, but I couldn't get the teacher to ever call me back.  So my children haven't done any sports, and they really haven't asked to do them either.

The great thing about horseback riding is that we can all ride together.  I don't have to put the children in classes for their own age, because we are a class entirely on our own.  Since we homeschool and live in a country where you can pay enough money to get what you want, I was able to set up lessons for everyone at once.  I also like horseback riding because it's a sport we can all do together as a family.  And most of all, I like that I can ride with the children and have a little fun of my own.

Brandon brought home a flyer the first week of work, and it was for a quite nice-looking stable.  I wasn't able to set up lessons, however, until we had a car and gear for myself and the children.  The large box of helmets, boots, and tights came a few weeks ago, and the car got registered the week before last, so the last step was setting up the lessons.

I had hired a Russian teacher around the time the car got registered and during our first lesson I had her call the stable.  Our teacher, Elmira, had been recommended by a friend who also mentioned that Elmira had helped her out with getting things arranged for a birthday party.  She was happy to help, and by the end of the session we had lessons set up for that Friday.

Friday morning we all put on our brand-new matching riding tights, matching paddock boots, and matching helmets.  Elmira showed up at 8:15 to come to the stable with us and act as interpreter, and we headed over.  Thankfully it's only three miles from our house, because Tashkent is a big city and it could have been a quite a lot further.

We showed up, waited around a bit, and then the children got to mount up.  I missed half the lessons because I was busy filling out forms, paying money, and making sure I understood the payment system, lesson scheduling, and how to change lessons if we were going to be out of town.  Every place has their own system, and every country their own way of setting up systems, and what might make sense to you isn't necessarily what makes sense to someone else.  Add in the translating from Russian to English and back again and it took quite a while.  I was very glad to have Elmira's help; I'm pretty sure it would have been a disaster mess if I had tried to do it on my own.

Meanwhile the children were learning how to mount, sit, use the reins, and do exercises on the back of their horses.  Thankfully there was a girl who could speak English to translate some of the directions, and miming accomplished the rest.  At the end of the lesson, almost everyone pronounced it fun, and Edwin, as usual, pronounced it horrible. 

We finished the morning with my own lesson, which reminded me that I never was a great rider and twenty years absence hasn't made me any better.  But I'm old enough that I (mostly) don't care whether or not I look fantastic and I just enjoy doing it even if I'm pretty lousy.  I was able to remember how to post and canter and I didn't fall off when I lost a stirrup, so I guess that's a good enough start for now.  The good news it that I'll have lots of time to work on it!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The Car!

Thursday night Brandon pulled into our garage.  We haven't had anything parked in it for the last six weeks except bikes, so it was pretty cluttered with car seats, strollers, lawn mowers (we have three), yard equipment, and toys.  I cleaned everything up so that he could park our much-beloved and much-destroyed Honda Pilot at the third home it's had overseas.

The car has been in Tashkent for longer than we have but it's spent the whole of that time sitting in the embassy parking lot, waiting for bureaucratic processes to declare that we were allowed to drive it.

The processes have been frustratingly slow, especially since we'd been assured that they would be much faster.  First we had to be accredited.  I had turned in paperwork the first week in June to get the process done, but somehow it wasn't done.  I'm not sure if it was pre-paperwork or if I turned it in too late or if it just wasn't turned in, but we were not accredited by the time we arrived, which I thought was supposed to be the plan.

So first we had to get accredited, which is the process by which we legally establish our presence here in Tashkent.  We're not tourists and we're not Uzbeks and we're not working for a company, so the government has to recognize Brandon as a diplomat which allows him and us (because we're his family) to stay here and not get kicked out.  It also affords us some protections from various government processes.

After we got accredited, we had to get Uzbek driver's licenses.  We've never had to get local driver's licenses before, but we do here.  Brandon informed me that we have to have these documents, our American driver's licenses, our accreditation cards, and car documentation whenever we drive, which sounds like a lot of paperwork to me.

So with our accreditation cards and Uzbek licenses in hand, Brandon had to pay the registration fees.  On the day when the fees were ready to be paid, Brandon had forgotten the check book and also enough money to pay with.  I spent a half hour scrambling to figure out how to get the money to him so that he could bring the car home for the weekend, and finally had a friend's driver take it to the embassy and give it to his boss who gave it to Brandon who couldn't get it himself because he was in a meeting.

Brandon took the money down, paid it, and the car was ready to have its plates attached, which required a trip down to a government building to finish the job.  The embassy staff went to start the car and it was dead, which crushed our plans to have the car for the weekend.  They assured Brandon that the mechanic would look at the car first thing on Monday morning, and I made other plans for weekend transportation.

Monday morning the mechanic wasn't at work because of a death in the family.  Tuesday nobody looked at the car.  Wednesday they decided that the battery was dead and charged it.  Thursday morning they put a new battery in the car and Brandon forked over more money.  Thursday afternoon the car got plated and Thursday evening the car made it home.

We celebrated by taking it out Saturday night to a party at the British Ambassador's house followed by dinner.  We have survived reasonably well without a car for the last month an a half, helped out significantly by our sponsors who have an eight-seater minivan and a driver and a willingness to let us use them both (thanks, Sarah!).  Tashkent has an Uber-style app that works with taxis, so that has helped too.  We also live half a kilometer from a grocery store, so that has made getting food a whole lot easier.  And really, six weeks is much shorter than the five months we spent waiting for our car in Baku.  So I shouldn't complain.  But still, it really is great to have a car again!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

School 2018-2019

Tomorrow morning I start school with the children.  This year I've started a different approach to the beginning of school.  Usually the first week of school is completely insane as I try to make everyone do all their school work every day while I rush around trying to answer everyone's questions about the new curriculum, fix the problems with materials, change schedules on the fly, and print out the materials that I forgot to print out earlier.

This year I've decided to have a graduated start.  The children were getting bored (they would disagree with that, but when they start fighting and squabbling, that means they're bored) and I still had things to finish, so I gave them a few subjects to begin that that they could do independently.  I added a few more the second week, and this week (the third week), I'll start schooling them in the areas they can't do independently.

I had planned to have all of the curriculum printed out this year, but my printer decided, after I'd only finished printing out history, that six months was a reasonable life span for a printer and it died.  I've had it with inkjet printers, so I just ordered a laser printer instead.  At this point I don't care about price, I just want to have a printer that isn't constantly having problems.

So I'm not starting all school tomorrow, since I'm still waiting to print out grammar, writing, science, and Latin.  But I will start the school that I have the materials for.

This year I have two children in the grammar stage and two children in the logic stage.  Kathleen is in seventh grade, Sophia in fifth, Edwin in third, and Joseph in first.  Kathleen and Sophia work almost entirely independently; I only teach them grammar.  They have some online classes - both have history and writing online, and Kathleen also has creative writing and music theory.  Sophia has decided to also take science online.

I enjoy the break that online classes give me - I don't have to be everything to everyone and also I don't have to grade their work.  I don't feel that I have been teaching expository writing very well, and I know I can't teach music theory, so it's nice to have someone else's help.  It's also good for them to get used to working for someone other than me.

Edwin is working mostly independently this year.  I teach him grammar and writing, but otherwise he does his work alone and only comes to me with questions.

Joseph is in first grade, so I do pretty much everything with him.  But this year I have a helper with school - Kathleen.  She has been given fewer morning chores and now teaches Joseph his history and science lessons.  They have been working together for two weeks now, and I've been very pleased with how she works with her brother.  He is honestly getting a better lesson with Kathleen because she has more time than I do.  None of my children have ever done the history activities, but so far they have made a cave painting, the whisk and crown of an Egyptian pharaoh, and a Sumerian cuneiform tablet.

Eleanor begins reading this year, which I'm not looking forward to.  Teaching a child to read is one of my bottom three favorite things to teach them, along with potty training and sleep training.  Hopefully Eleanor's cheerful temperament, lack of educational impediments, and my experience will lead to lessons with fewer tears and yelling.  Fingers crossed.

William's schooling this year will be learning how to play without bothering the rest of us.  Hopefully he'll be good at it so that I can take care of the other five children.

In addition to academics, the four oldest will be taking Russian three times a week and piano lessons.  I've arranged for the teachers, so this week we'll be starting everything.

The children have never taken any PE classes, although I've considered it off and on.  I used to ride when I was younger, and when I heard that Tashkent has several stables, I decided on behalf of everyone that our family sport will be horseback riding.  The children will take lessons, I'll get to ride myself, and we won't have any games to ruin our Saturdays.  I imagine that some of them will tell their therapist one day that they never got to choose their own sport, but they can add it to the other list of deprivations that come with part of our family.

I'm looking forward to having an entire school year without interruptions, something that hasn't happened since the 2015-2016 school year.  We're not moving and no babies are being born, so we can just settle down and be very steady.  I'm sure I'll wish for something to mix things up come mid-January, but overall it is nice to be stable.

School gets a little easier every year, and this year I'm going into my seventh year of homeschooling, so I'm hoping that this year won't be too crazy.  I'm a little apprehensive about juggling four different children's needs and education, but I'm very glad to have Kathleen's help.  As with everything in life, we will eventually figure it out and settle into a workable rhythm.  But until that happens, wish me luck!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Last Ten Percent

We have been in Tashkent for five weeks now and are almost completely unpacked.  I officially unpacked the last box two weeks ago and have spent the last two weeks - between pool dates and water park trips and play dates - organizing and rearranging things to my preference.

By this point ninety percent of my house is arranged and it is almost completely functional.  I have spent the last five weeks pushing hard and getting everything settled exactly the way I want it.  I have spent all of my energy making sure my house and household run the way that I like. 

And it's almost there.  All of the books are in their places, all of the dishes are where they belong, and all of the office supplies are placed in their specific bins.  I have spent hours and hours arranging and organizing clothes, putting together furniture, and finding places for all my backup toiletries.  I have purchased house plants, gotten pictures framed, and found weight lifting equipment. 

But there are still a few things left.  The pictures aren't hung up and still sit in the same corner I put them in almost five weeks ago.  All of the hooks are jumbled up in a cupboard, hanging out with the kitchen clock.  My dining room is half-decorated, with a variety of mirrors being tried out for a variety of spaces and an empty vase waiting for flowers.  The tools all sit next to my storage shelves, half organized and in the same place they were a week ago when I got stopped mid-job.  My consumables shelves are a jumble, having become a dumping ground for everything that doesn't have a home.  The school room is only half-organized and I'm missing half the house plants that I still want to buy.  Brandon has a weight bench but no bar or weights to lift.  The children's school work isn't printed out and their notebooks aren't organized.

Some of these things are still unsettled because I'm missing some key component.  My pictures are un-hung because I'm waiting for a few frames that are coming in the mail.  My hooks are still in the cupboard with the clock because I'm waiting to have all the things hung at once, which is waiting for all of the pictures I want to hang. 

I started to print out the school things this week and was mid-job when my printer stopped working.  I've had a terrible time with printers - I don't think inkjets were made to print out hundreds of pages at a time - and this one only lasted six months.  So I had to buy a new one, which means no science, Latin, grammar, history, grade sheets, or checklists until the new printer comes.  But that's probably okay because I'm waiting on more paper, too. 

Some are because I haven't taken the time to do them - instead of finishing organizing my tools I've been working on organizing things for the new school year.  At least I was until the printer broke.  Same thing with the consumables shelves - they don't loudly demand to be fed three times a day, so they are further down on the to-do list.  Our garage is a total mess because it's too hot to go and organize it.  I figure November will be a great time to do that - and also a good time to finally put our jungle gym up in the yard.

Others are waiting on our car.  I want to buy more plants, dirt, pots, and the rest of Brandon's weightlifting equipment, but I can't do that without a car.  Maybe this week that will happen.  Maybe.

And some are just a pain to do.  Who actually wants to organize that last dark hole anyway?  As long as the stuff isn't in your way, it's fine.

But honestly these things will take another six months to get done.  I have most of the irritations taken care of, and these last few things don't present enough of a problem to take the time to fix them.  School is about to start for real (well, the things we have the supplies for) and then all of my free time will disappear and plants and weights and pictures will suddenly seem less important than recovering from school by the pool with a book.  The house works enough that the final push seems like too much trouble.  Who needs pictures on the wall anyway?  They're just decoration after all. 

But one day the pictures and hooks and clocks and plants and piles of junk will get to me and in a fit of responsible-ness I'll get it all done in a week.  I will put in work orders, request furniture, go to all the bazaars, finally transplant my herbs, buy a few fruit trees, put my storage shelves in order, and finally label everything that can possibly need a label.  The children won't get lunch, we'll eat cold cereal for dinner every night, and Brandon will get ignored all week. 

Then I'll look around and heave a sigh of relief.  Everything will be in it's place, and the nagging voice in the back of my head can find something else to bother me about.  And I'll wonder why I hadn't just buckled down and gotten these things done six months earlier.  But also, I'll know that I'll just do it again the next time we move.