Friday, 22 February 2013

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 1)

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This is my first go at a 7 Quick Takes post. I've been reading other people's for so long I kind of feel like an internet stalker for not doing my own. Thus, taking the plunge!
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Walter got his second cold ever. The first cold he got was so easy -- he lapped up his medicine, slept a little more than usual, and was generally like normal except congested. This one, however... yikes. After five days it seemed to clear up only to return with a vengeance later that day and turn into an ear infection. He spent most of Wednesday sleeping on me, looking incredibly sad, and crying. Normally I'm pretty relaxed about baby stuff and find the prevailing societal anxious attitude towards babies beyond frustrating, but I'm glad that I went with my gut on Wednesday and took him in to the doctor. I'm also really glad that my mum didn't push me to take him, even tho' she thought taking him was the right thing to do. She let me make the decision on my own after we talked through how he was doing and how far on the scale of abnormal his behavior was. When taking an extended vacation with family these small courtesies make all the difference! Anyway, now I have a much happier baby who is clearly on the mend, and that means that I'm much happier too. As David says, Walter's smiles hold the moon in place so it's nice to have them back!
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On the night that Walter was really sick he kept me up for most of the night, as he was after my attention every 30-60 minutes and refused to be separated from me. Maybe it was the sleep deprivation taking over my brain, but I couldn't help seeing many parallels between his relation to me and my relation to God. As he bugged me, constantly, for 12 hours, I couldn't help but see the way I bug God whenever something in my life is wrong. Like Walter, I can't always express what it is that is upsetting me. Like Walter, I will keep trying to attract God's attention through crying, complaining, and general unhappiness. Like Walter, I often refuse to be satisfied with anything other than exactly what I want delivered exactly the way I want it, even if the other option would do me a world of good if I'd only accept it. For me this was a real lesson in patience. I am not a very patient person, and I always worried that this was drastically affect my relationship with my kid(s). When I realised that Walter's constant harassing of me was no different (and probably a lot better) than my constant harassing of God when things in my life don't feel well, I also had a glimpse into the infinite patience & love of God, who puts up with my griping so much better than I put up with Walter's :) Spiritually I'm not always that much different from a 6-month-old. How's that for a lesson in humility?
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It looks like we're heading back to England for the time being, which I'm starting to get excited about, at least in the moments when I can let go of all the stress and uncertainty that have clouded my life for the past year-and-a-bit. I'm happy that we've missed the English winter and that we'll be back for what will hopefully be a lovely spring:

Blossoms at Wimpole Estate last May
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Of course the main downside right now to heading back to Blighty is that I have to do yet another visa application, this time for Walter. Do you have any idea how much I loathe doing applications? Since 2009 I have done either a passport or visa application every year. They are a particular problem for me because I am of a suspicious nature that likes to read more into the questions than is probably there, and who constantly second guesses what I've put down. In other words, I'm overly meticulous and perhaps pedantic. It's why I make such a good Fraud Analyst. Anyway, every time I complete an application I think to myself, "good, it will get easier next time" but it never does. Usually when I freak out about it, David reminds me that people the world over (or "people much less smart than you") manage to apply and get visas, but this time around it has led me to think "how would someone not as smart as me interpret this? Am I interpreting this correctly?"... So I live in a hell of my own making for the three weeks or so that it takes to complete the process. Pray for me :)
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For Christmas my mother-in-law gave me the book Bread & Wine: Readings for Lent & Easter. While I haven't always managed to get to each day's reading (at least my backlog isn't quite as large on my backlog of daily catechism readings) I've been really enjoying working through it as part of my devotions most evenings. Usually I enter Lent with really good intentions and then find out that I'm halfway through Holy Week and haven't managed to spend any time to use Lent as an opportunity to grow in faith. This book is at least giving me a chance for reflection every night and the readings have been a good way to review my day.
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And, since a 6-month-old is giving me a little more reading time than a 6-week-old, I've brought out my copy of Lord of the Rings and am reading through that in my spare moments. I love it. I love it so much that I can't believe that I found it a boring chore to read the first time in picked it up, back in 2002. The days have been predominantly grey out on the west coast, so it's been nice to escape into the world of literature when I can't escape outdoors.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

The Kulturforum

Our internet hasn't been working for a couple of weeks so now I'm really behind on blogging. But my brother is home for reading break and he's had a chance to fix it!

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My last big ‘cultural’ trip out with Walter in Berlin was to the Kulturforum, where one can locate museums, one of the Staatsbibliothek’s, and the Philharmonie. Our main destination for the day was the Gemäldegalerie, home of Berlin’s older paintings. 

The Philharmonie -- I like how it sort of looks like music, or at least sound waves!
I’m always a little apprehensive when I take Walter to a museum, especially one where I need to pay to get in, because there’s no guarantee that he’ll co-operate with the idea of quietly looking at the different treasures. Fortunately he fell asleep when we got to the museum!

He later woke up but was content to look at paintings, although eventually he demanded to be carried so that he could have a better view!
I had a great time as it turned out that the museum had a number of paintings by some of the masters I admire, like the Holbeins, Dürer, and Bosch. My art gallery trips thus far have been in the UK and North America, so it was neat seeing the different geographical emphasis of the Gemäldegalerie as it meant getting to view a lot of ‘new’ styles and subject matters. Everything, aside from the audio tour, was in German but that was nice as it meant I didn’t feel quite as compelled to read all the notes! 

A portrait of the Virgin by Hans Holbein the Elder

A portrait of a merchant by Hans Holbein the Younger. It's really neat because you can actually read the writing on the scraps of paper in the picture.

Portrait of a young girl by Petrus Christus. I loved this one so much that I had to get it on a magnet...

Bosch's St John on Patmos -- the background contains various illusions to the Book of Revelation

A scene of young revelers by Willem Buytewech. The details are quite amusing, including the young man on the left who is relieving himself into a jar.


After the gallery, Walter & I were to meet David at the East Berlin Staatsbibliothek. This turned out to be quite an ordeal – between construction, heavy traffic, and the overall distance it was quickly apparent that if we walked we would be late. So I took the train, but I was still running late, and due to German paranoia over cellphone hacking I was unable to use my phone because I’d turned it off (for the first time since putting in a German SIM card) and when it rebooted it required a password to access the phone! This meant that I couldn’t call David to tell him that we were running late, so he was stuck waiting in the cold for over twenty minutes while worrying over why we hadn’t arrived. Then our plan of having cake in an old palace was also cancelled, as the cafe was closed.

Eventually we found a little bakery where we could grab a snack (and grumble over the excessive prices in Mitte). Then it was time for David’s treat, namely a return to Berlin’s oldest currywurst stand so that he could experience it for himself. The elevators happened to be broken at all of the train stations we needed so it was really good that he was along for the trip as I’m not strong enough to carry Walter & his stroller up and down the stairs!

We had a great time at our little supper. We were able to sit in the makeshift restaurant and we splurged on beers to help wash down the currywurst and pommes. It was a nice little break for David as well, since he wasn’t able to join us on most of our adventures.