Saturday, July 26, 2014

Dinosaurs, forests, rain.

We haven't gone on as many exciting trips recently- winter combined with my work. I'm conscious that this blog is curated and that you only see little bits of our life, and I wonder how best to show parts that are both fairly honest and helpful. I have no idea. So here are some pictures of the kids in front of extinct animals, and in the forest... 

The National Museum is this year's big destination for us. It's fairly quiet, right in the centre of the city so easy to combine with other trips (to home affairs...). The aquarium was our go-to place on a rainy day when we had a car, but we haven't renewed our membership because it's a fairly long trip in heavy traffic on the Bullitt.
Eli takes his trains everywhere, so for him the museum is mainly an exercise in finding straight lines for a train track.

Noah to Eli: They've never actually seen a giant squid, ELI!! 

We had to reapply to Eli's Social Security at the U.S. embassy (after they lost the application the first time) so we borrowed my parents' car and combined the trip to the embassy with a trip to Tokai forest:

This picture is probably more representative of our winter: a lot of time spent playing games with duplos:

Noah and Eli have started to play complex games together, for hours at a time (they also fight, so it's not all idyllic). We spend hours reading to them every day, drawing together, and if the sun comes out we go to the park and sometimes see friends. And that's about it.
Noah is four now, and while we're not following a formal curriculum for his (very early) education, I wouldn't say we're unschooling either. Eug and I talk about what we'd like for him in the next months, and these conversations mainly revolve around wanting to help him cope effectively with everyday situations. There are moments where the kids are so genuinely kind to one another that I feel like I'm getting a glimpse of heaven. Noah is teaching Eli- about plants (edible and inedible : "don't eat it unless I give it to you Eli!! It might be poisonous!!), planets (MARS is the ONE WITHOUT OXYGEN Eli) and Noah-type logic. This is sometimes followed by really bad moments when they're hitting each other.

Eug and I were joking recently that our lives seem to be an experiment in inconvenience. In winter, we're without hot water much of the time because the sun doesn't get the solar geyser hot, and biking is not always that practical with the kids + heavy rain, so we're home a lot. We get food from our farm share, and at the end of the week sometimes we're left eating a lot of cabbage. Winter has made our choice seem more extreme, and there are real losses that get more noticeable over time- for example we can't safely go out after dark without a car. While life has many inconveniences, it feels abundant. I should qualify that- time is still in short supply, and we've come to terms with that more or less. The natural limits of life without a car seem to fit the place we're in, with small kids who don't like to be rushed.

Lastly, if you're the praying type, could you pray for the decisions that are in front of us for next year? I hope to finish my PhD soon, and since we have not returned to the U.S. since we left almost 3 years ago, we are considering whether to do part of a post-doc in the U.S. It would allow us to visit and reconnect with friends, both in Europe and Boston. We are also considering the possibility of selling our house and moving to a small farm in nearby Noordhoek, where we could have extended family join us. We have a farm in mind, so we're hoping if it right for us, it will still be available when we are ready to buy.