Saturday, July 21, 2007

Adventures at the Zoo

OK, so I'm going to make this a quick post, since we're over at friends' house and I really should be chatting instead of blogging. However, since we no longer have David and Erin's place to connect with, I wanted to at least get something on here while we're over here tonight.

I think I'll just go ahead with the pictures. Of course, in the first one, Steven is enjoying the taste of Dad's sock. A nice treat for him, if not the healthiest.

One of our biggest adventures since we last posted was a trip to the zoo with B's language helper. Her name is Dina (I'm not sure how to spell it in English, but probably none of you know the difference), and she's really great. Anyway, last Wednesday night, she called us up and took us to the zoo. It was fantastic, since it proved a really good way to easily get new vocabulary (you don't need any confusing verb constructions to say, "What is this animal?" "This is a duck."). Good time, and we took lots of photos so we could ask again later for the vocab for each new animal.

I was so happy to see some South American animals, which made me feel right at home. Dina wasn't sure about my approach to most of them, though. ("These are really tasty!") Here I'm standing with a yummy-looking tapir.

Dina took this nice shot of the family straddling a sculpture of a walrus. I'm not sure why, but it's an interesting shot at least.

OK, so last week's What Is It feature was a little easier, and a couple of people were close. Carroll guessed twice, but one of her guesses, the bird house, was right. It is indeed an interesting bird house, but technically Lourens, who guessed that it was "most definitely a wooden thing with holes in and a pointed top," was also right. Kellie gets the points, though, for guessing it right in only one guess. This week, we have a Russian word that we saw for you to guess. I'll give you a hint - we did take this at the zoo. Give it your best shot at what this says, but no cheating by looking it up on the internet!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Language, language, and, well, more language!

I'd like to apologize in advance to any of you who are looking to read something new, fresh, and interesting about our lives, because we really don't have a whole lot of that. Instead, you'll have to read what is going on with us. Namely, lots and lots of Russian study.

On we go:
Of course, it's in our blogging contract that each post has to have at least one cute pic of Steven. He's getting more teeth in (his two top teeth finally came in today), pulling himself up, walking along a support (i.e. walking his way down the couch while holding onto it), and he's now perfected the crawl. Hopefully, soon he'll figure out that he just doesn't have the balance to walk yet and quit pulling himself up into a standing position, then letting go to walk somewhere, failing, and whacking his head on the ground. You'd think he enjoyed bumps on the head as often as he's done this!

We had a laundry incident recently in which a pink rag was washed with our clothes, bled, and so now I have a lovely selection of pink items. At least I always match!

We have had a couple of outings, I guess, so it hasn't been all language study. We went to the park with our friends David and Erin, and Steven got his first taste of cotton candy! Our plan is to rot his baby teeth out before they have a chance to fall out naturally.

The park near our future home has a really nice pond, big grassy areas, a lot of woods, and playgrounds and sports fields. Really amazing to find such a nice area in the middle of the city.

Our language study is going pretty well, I guess. I recently made my first humorous Russian blunder, the first of many, I'm sure. My problem is that I know just enough grammar to make myself dangerous. I feel like I should be able to say something, but I don't know exactly how to phrase it. But that shouldn't be a problem, right? I should just be able to say what I do know, and hope to be understood. At least that's what my brain thinks. However, this doesn't really work in Russian very well.

For example, I was trying to tell our teacher and the accountant that we had bought all the furniture for our apartment. I knew that one of the words for "to buy" is "pokupat'." However, I also knew that many Russian verbs add a "po-" prefix to make the imperfect form, and I needed to use the perfect (it was a one-time event, as opposed to imperfect events, which are processes). Therefore, it was logical that I would remove the "po-" and the verb for "to buy (one-time)" should, in theory, be "kupat'." Therefore, I should be able to form the past tense by saying "ya kupal" and then telling what I had bought. However, when I came out with this phrase, I got confused looks. I repeated it, guessing that my pronunciation must have been off. More confused looks. "Why did you do that," they asked? I tried to explain that we needed the furniture, since our apartment was unfinished. More confused looks. Finally, I was able to sort out that the verb "pokupat'" doesn't work like regular verbs, and the perfect form is "kupit'." The verb "kupat'" means "to wash," so I had just explained to them that we had washed all our new furniture. No wonder they were confused.

OK, since the What Is It For feature is proving so popular, I'd love to have a better question than this one. However, I don't have a very good picture to use, so you'll have to go with it. Here you have an item we spotted on our recent trip to the park. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to figure out what this is. Replies can be posted in the comments.

Congrats to Joy, who for the second week in a row guessed that the people in the picture, though standing, were tanning themselves. Russians really believe in an even tan, so they will frequently stand, rotating themselves periodically, even raising their arms to get that underarm tan that is so essential, whenever it's sunny out.