Friday, August 22, 2008

Steven's Got a Girlfriend ...

... we all know where he's been, etc. And if you know the song I'm referencing, then you need to get some better taste in music.

Anyhoo, we thought you would enjoy the wonderful video of Steven and his new friend Nina. Yeah, you've all heard the story of how I never kissed a girl until my wedding day. Well, my son apparently doesn't take after me much, because he didn't even make it to sweet 2!

I think my wife is to blame, though. You can clearly hear her egging them on in the video. Shame on you, dear! (Although she assures me that they smooched on their own, and she only encouraged them later so she could document it for posterity. Oh, that makes it so much better!) Fortunately, it looks like the technique isn't quite there yet (you're not supposed to end up with a knot on your head as far as I know), so maybe we don't have to worry too much.

Language study is going swimmingly, as both B and I are pretty glad to have a bit more structure in our lives with the return of regular classwork. As you can tell from the video/pictures, though, we've also recently had a visit from some friends. David and Christy and their family (otherwise known as "Family Footprints" in our bloglist to the right) were here for a visit. It seems to be looking more and more like we'll be working with them in the future, so it was a fantastic time to get to know them better and just spend some time chitchatting in English for once. Plus, they have really cute kids and we got to hang out with them a bit as well.

Here B and our friend Julie are sitting with the kids on a swing, just enjoying the beautiful evening.

Aside from their visit, we've also been out and about on our own soaking up the sun. Last weekend we decided to head over to our local "forest" (which is how the Russians distinguish a big park from a little one). On our way in we passed some flyers for the day's event: the "Wild Mint Festival." We were unsure of what this might mean, but apparently there are New Age-y people in Russia as well! They're just as "different" here as they are in Oregon. They had some interesting music going:

but Steven's favorite was the sword fights! (Maybe I've missed this somewhere, since this isn't the first place I've seen it, but could someone explain to me what the connection is between New Age philosophy and medieval times?)

Of course, it was a broiling hot day so B decided to take Steven for a plunge in the pond there. Russians have a more "European" style to their swimming attire, so we decided against a wider shot. Sorry to disappoint those of you who were looking forward to seeing any overweight older men in Speedos. ;-)

Maybe you're wondering how, without a double stroller, we can manage to get around if just one of us needs to take the kids out? Well, wonder no more, but instead marvel at the ingeniousness of the lovely B, who managed to transform our simple stroller into a double with the mere addition of a pillow!

In other news, we've had several other bits of excitement in our lives lately. Yesterday evening, Steven managed to get one of the drawers in the office open that was supposed to be closed. And of course, he managed to dig the most dangerous thing in that drawer out - a packet of straight pins. Not satisfied with merely getting them out, he had to taste them!

B, being the vigilant Mom that she is, spotted this and tried immediately to effect the removal of said pins. She got two out but was just in time to spot a third headed down his gullet. Well, we thought, it's off to the clinic we go. Until we called them, that is. Almost 1000 euros ($1500 or so) just for an X-ray and consultation. So, after researching the issue and finding out that they probably wouldn't do anything but just look at the X-ray and make sure it was on its way through, we decided to just keep a close eye on him. That made us take a step back and "think" about the situation and lift up Steven's health to him.

Basically, we were told, there's a pretty good chance it will just go through naturally and you only do surgery if it's caught in the esophagus or tears something. Watch out for coughing, pain, or vomiting and, barring that, you should be fine. Of course, later that night, Steven started to cough. This morning it was worse, and we were on the verge of taking him down to the clinic to get checked out.

However, this afternoon (after being stuffed full of food in an effort to make things speed up a bit) he passed the pin, as you can see below, without any ill effect whatsoever! We're very thankful to the appropriate party for working that out so well (and no, in case you're wondering, I didn't touch it to put it on that baby wipe!).

And that's about it. And for all you facebook addicts, I thought I'd leave you with this picture I saw recently about an imagined "Soviet facebook" (might need to click on it to read it). I found it funny, anyway.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My Turn

Well, J has taken his turn rambling so now it's my turn! I was going to post on Russian fashion and I how I've adapted to it, but I still need to take some pictures so we will save that until next time (hence the recycled image above). For now all I have to report is, well, nothing.

Our Russian teacher comes back on Friday and classes start again on Monday so life will return to normal (at least for us) next Monday. For the present, I am spending my days as any good, old-fashioned housewife should: cleaning, cooking, taking care of children (only this time I'm NOT pregnant).

We have been trying to spend as much time as we can outside since it has been so nice. It's funny because last year I could not understand why everyone wanted to "go for walks" every day. Now I understand that it's because during the winter you don't get out much and those who saw us when we arrived in the States in March know that we needed as much sun as we could get (for those who didn't see us, we were all yellow from lack of sun exposure).

Anyway, we both have been trying to eat healthier and with the added exercise have been losing weight. And let me just say at this time IT'S NOT FAIR! Why do guys have to basically do nothing and lose 20 lbs in a week while we women drink only water and eat only fruits and lose maybe 2 lbs a week? Yet another mystery in the world of women.

Well, if I haven't lost you because of the extreme boringness of the post let me move on to the cute pictures and videos of the boys since that is main reason for the post. A few of these pictures are older ones that I have been meaning to post. Enjoy:

A few cute ones of Matthew. Hopefully this will even out the imbalance of Steven getting his picture put on here a lot more than Matthew.

Steven has taken to my "Hip Hop Abs" exercise routine rather well. Here he's getting in on the act himself!

I got this video this evening while I was doing laundry. Steven had just gotten his bath and decided he wasn't quite ready to be put to bed yet (apologies for the nudity). ;)

And finally, for our Russian friends, I thought I'd post this picture of me back in the US with a bag of ice. They don't really use ice here, so we've been trying to explain how important it is in the South.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Image Management

So, our life is pretty much the same (language study, evenings with friends, taking care of kids, etc.), so I thought I would post some of my musings instead. I know, I know, you want to hear about how cute Matthew looks when he sleeps, but too bad!

Actually, it was a recent blog of our friend Lydia's that got my mind meandering down the path it's been on (and Lydia, I'm just crediting you since you prompted the initial thought - I know you didn't have anything like this happen). She was talking about how she had done something that embarrassed her; not that it was anything important or hurt anyone, it was just something that she did that made her look bad in front of other people.

Well, that set me to pondering. I've since developed a nascent theory about this, especially as it relates to the internet. Years from now, when I'm receiving my Nobel prize for this sociological development, you'll be able to say "I read the blog post which first elucidated this theory years ago!" Then all the people within earshot will beat you up, because that's what should be done to people who say things like that. I mean, really!

What, you don't think I'm smart enough to win it? Why not? Al Gore won it! Al freaking Gore!

Enough scolding, though. My theory is about how the internet makes traditional "image management" almost impossible. You see, in "real life," that is, life outside the confines of the internet, it's quite easy to be multiple things to multiple people. Around your boss, you do your best to cultivate the image of a responsible worker, diligently applying yourself for the good of the company. Around your parents' friends, you try your best to come across as respectful and ambitious, just the kind of person you know would make your parents proud. And then, of course, around your friends you try to be the gregarious fun-loving life of the party so that they'll all want to be more like you.

You could make that list last forever, because I think if we're honest with ourselves we all want pretty much everyone who comes into contact with us think that we're "better," however that applies to that particular person, than we really are.

And here is where the internet enters to spoil all of our well-laid plans. You see, when you post something on your blog or twitter or facebook or whatever it's not really possible for different people to see different versions. Maybe someday you'll be able to put something up on the web and tell it to "edit out the bit about the poker game when my grandmother reads it" and it'll know what to do. However, at this point in time, it's a real headache to do things like set permissions for certain people to have certain access, etc., so most of us end up not doing it.

You're not going to want your grandmother, friends, or even your dog to see this picture.

We've all had that situation, though, where we realized that someone wasn't who they appeared to be, at least not who they appeared to be to you. You know, like that girl in your group who sings special numbers on Sunday from the hymnal and has been homeschooled for the past 10 years. You think of her as a perfect little angel, and suspect that she only ventures out of the house to bring cookies to the people at the retirement home. Then, one day you venture onto her Facebook page and it's full of comments like "Whassup cracka! Yo we go'n roll tonight!" from friends you've never heard of with screen names like HottieMcTail92. It's like an alien life form has shown up to possess your friend.

This is not your friend. Probably.

Alas, the bubble is burst. You realize that, no matter what this person says or does, you'll never quite look at them the same again. That uptight textile management professor that you always thought was "quirky" is suddenly revealed to be a closet anarchist who supports ecoterrorism. It can be very disconcerting.

Dr. Bradford? Is that you?

So, what is the solution for those of us who blog? Barring a complex web of deception where we only give out the page to our computer-hacking blog to our geek friends and maintain the butterfly-collection blog for our extended family to see, we're forced to go with the J solution: writing for the MCD. That's right, the Most Conservative Denominator.

Let's face it, if our friends read our blog and they think it's a little lame, not much harm is done. However, if your rich teetotaller uncle reads your pineapple upside down cake recipe and realizes there's rum in it, he might just write you out of the will! Much more damage can be caused by going too risqu
é than playing it safe.

As an example, we have friends with a whole range of taste in movies. Some of them are more liberal in what they'll watch than we will. Some are more conservative. That's totally OK. However, watch what happens when I post, say, the "Holy Hand Grenade" from Monty Python:

See, there's a perfect example. Now, I think that is one of the more hilarious things ever captured on film. I see it as a parody of medieval religiosity, not an assault on faith. However, according to the rule of MCD things like this should never be posted, since I'm sure I have friends who would be offended by it.

Wait, I've just violated my own rule in order to give an example. Oh, bother. Here, take a look at this puppy. That should take away all your anger. ;-)