Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Summer Fun

Since there seems to be a dearth of blogly interest in our continuing Russian efforts, I'll focus this blog on our enjoyment of the summer season. In Russia, the summers are actually quite a nice season. It's a little warm in the Moscow area, but it never gets too bad, and with the help of a fan at night, it's actually quite enjoyable weather-wise.

Here in North Carolina, things are a little different. It gets hot! Since we last wrote, we've had temperatures pushing 40° C (100° F) on a few days. Fortunately, folks here are ready, with pools, beaches, and air conditioning to keep things comfy.

The first few days it was really hot was something of a revelation for poor Steven. Most of his life has been spent in the cold, so he wasn't really ready for the splashing and sloshing fun most kids associate with summer. It didn't take too long, though, before he was enjoying his summer quite a bit.

One of the local towns had a summer festival, and Elvis showed up! Actually, he seems to have lost a bit in his singing voice, but I suppose for a dead guy he's doing all right.

One of the best things we've had happen in the past weeks was a visit from my brother Sam. We had such a good time chatting with him and catching up, and we're really glad he was able to come down. I think he also enjoyed playing with Steven as well, since he hadn't seen him since he was really little.

We took the family to the local park one day, and here we are enjoying the merry-go-round that my Mom used to take us to when we were really little. I don't know how much Steven enjoyed it, but he rode it, anyway.

Here's Sam with Matthew. I'm not sure that Matthew cares, but there you go.

B finds this picture amusing. She could never figure out why I seem to spend a good portion of the day with the laptop. I don't really use it for anything specific, but for some reason I like to have it around in case I want to look something up. This picture might explain it - maybe it's genetic? :)

By this time, Steven was fully enjoying his time in the pool. He might have lost his fear a little too quickly, since by the time we'd been there 10 minutes he was ready to jump in the deep end any time we took our eyes off him.

Last week, we went down to Florida for a combined business/visiting trip. While we were there, my parents hooked us up with some friends of theirs who own a boat. They took us out for a day, which was a great time.

We went out to a small tidal island that was pretty much deserted. Steven had a good time just being able to wander around and play in the sand.

Matthew might not be such a fan, but he did finally go to sleep. The rules said that he had to wear a life preserver, so we put one on him. Whether it fit or not, might be a different story!

OK, so here's this week's challenge: who are these people B's posing with? It's not a hard one for most of you, so no points are awarded this time, but I thought it'd be fun to see who recognizes them. Enjoy!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Hiking Around and Hanging About

Once again it's been a while since we posted a blog, and we're starting to get those "reminder" emails that people are waiting for an update. And so here you have it!

What have we been up to? Actually, we've had a good week and a half. Being back in the US has been a drain on our language study, for certain, but it has been nice to catch up with so many of our friends and family again, as I'm sure I've said before. It's always especially nice to be able to spend time with family, so when I heard that B's Dad was thinking of going on a hiking trip, I jumped at the chance to accompany him. Later Kellie, B's twin sister, decided to join us, and so the three of us headed up for the Tennessee mountains. Here we are at the beginning of the trip:

We parked the truck in the parking lot at a state-run campground, and headed out into the woods for an extensive hike to our final destination. Actually, even in between actually camping, we spent most of the weekend on hikes all around the valleys that we were in. Most of the trails followed along a river, with some spectacular scenery the whole way:

Of course, hiking that much makes you very hungry (I think we totalled around 30 km the whole weekend). To that end, we brought some steaks that we grilled over the campfire the first night, and enjoyed the food with the extra gusto that real hunger brings.

When we saw this log sticking out over the river a bit, we couldn't resist the chance for a photo op:

On our last morning, B's dad promised to buy us breakfast if we got to the truck in time. That sped up our hike out considerably, and here the two of them are revelling in their food. Actually the bread in the picture was stolen, after a discussion on how much food gets tossed prompted B's dad to reach over and take the toast off another diners' table after they left before the busboy could come to throw it away. :)

Warning - the rest of the blog is kind of child-centered, and doesn't have a lot of info about what we're up to. If you're wondering what that is, exactly, it's mostly studying Russian, taking care of the kids, and meeting up with our friends and supporters. I've been fortunate to have opportunities to speak in several meetings since we've been here, and I think we'll have another chance or two to present our work before we leave.

Anyway, here goes. This is Steven "enjoying" a haircut - his first from a professional barber. He wiggled so much it turned out a bit crooked, but you certainly couldn't blame the barber, who had his work cut out for him from the start!

Couldn't resist putting a few videos in, and here's a short one of Steven playing in the hose outside. It's been really hot lately, so he's enjoyed the chance to get wet when he gets it!

I don't think this is supposed to be a riding lawn mower, but you couldn't tell Steven that.

We finagled an invite to our friends' Martha and Mike the other day, and so we got to play with all their animals for a while. Of course, M & M couldn't make it (sorry we missed you!), but I think Steven still had a good time. He's not been around animals much in Russia, since most of our lives are in our apartment, but he's enjoyed it since we've been back.

More of the same, pretty much, this time with their dogs:

So that's about it. This weekend my brother Sam is coming into town, and then next week we head to Florida to visit family and straighten some things out with our financial guys (taxes get complicated when you move overseas, in case you're wondering). We'll try to post on those topics in the weeks to come!