Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Random Happenings

Well, as you can see from the pictures, a few things have happened since the last post.  For example, my plant is still alive.  That's right.  My beautiful plant that I bought about 2 months ago is still alive.  Not only that, but it's even blooming!  

Why am I finding this worthy to post on our blog?  Because of my history with killing plants.  I've even killed a cactus (who knew you shouldn't water them every day?).  Well, I was pretty deteremined to keep this one so I did some reasearch and found out how to take care of it.  Now, our house is full of the glorious aroma of my sussess (or maybe our Father just felt sorry for me and has kept it alive this whole time).  Miracles do happen!

Another happening is our coworkers had their birthday a few weeks ago.  Husband and wife having the same birthday (don't some of you husbands wish for that).  So, since they love breakfast foods, my gift to them was a breakfast feast.  I have to say I didn't regret it since I love to eat this kind of stuff.

One of the biggest happenings going on around here is our new addition to our family (no, i'm not pregnant).  

One day we took the boys to a playground where a group of kids had 3 puppies and were trying to find homes for them.  We had been talking about getting a puppy and this seemed to be the right time.  So, we took the smallest of them and brought him home.  His name is Dexter and he's a mutt.  There are a lot of stray dogs around here so Dexter might be a mix of about 50 breeds. 

He seems to be a gentle and kind puppy so we are hopeful.  The boys, as you can see, love him.  Matthew will just carry him around for a long time and then sit down in a sit with him in his lap and Dexter just goes with it.  No fussing or fighting.  He isn't that dirty anymore of coures.  He has had about 5 baths in the past 2 weeks. 

The other big happening is that my coworker, Erin, and I went to the nearest "big" city around here and just had a vacation for 4 days.  I don't think the ladies have ever done that here so our men encouraged us to go.  And go we did.  

After the 5 hour van ride up there, we got to a hotel room and spent the next few days drinking coffee, walking, shopping (mostly window shopping), eating, and watching movies. There are a few nice restaurants in town, so we went to the Irsh pub that offered great food and entertainment.  We ended up going there a few times enjoying it every time.  And then waking up whenever we wanted and did whatever we wanted.  SOOOO relaxing.  A big thank you to our husbands for that!

Until next time, and thanks for reading!

Edit - additional note from Jesse: Please be thinking about our documents, which go in this week (or maybe next) for our residency application.  We hope to have everything accepted for processing, and then we should find out in the next six months what the decision is.

Monday, October 3, 2011


So, we still have a lot of posts to catch up on (I know, I promised the one about the sheep slaughtering soon), but today we're going to go with a post about the boys.  As many of you know, we were able to get them a space in a local kindergarten after some paperwork and hassle.

And what a blessing it's turned out to be!  They've been going for a little over a month now to the building seen above, from 8 am until about 3:30 pm every day.  We were planning to pick them up after lunch daily, but they take a nap from 1 to 3, so we decided to let them do that there and then pick them up after naptime (or тихий час, "quiet hour" as it's called in Russian).

Anyway, more on that in a bit.  It has been really nice lately, so we've been trying to get as much out of the good weather as we can before it gets cold.  There must be some sort of Indian summer going on, because it's October and it's still very nice weather.  A few years ago, there was already snow on the ground at this time!

 Matthew taking advantage of some of his time outside to get some exercise!

Whereas Steven prefers to play football with the other boys - a definite future Luis Suarez here:

There are some playgrounds around, and we take advantage of them as best we can, but none of them can compare to the playgrounds at the садик (pronounced "sadik," it literally means "little garden" and refers to the kindgarten/day care thing where the boys are going).  Theirs are always well kept up and don't have broken glass laying around everywhere like the other playgrounds we go to.

 When we first started talking about sending the boys to a sadik, the idea was that they would go to one class together.  We thought that would minimize the stress of being in a new place and help them to adjust gradually.  The main reason we wanted them in the sadik was to learn Russian, and it turned out that having them in the same class actually caused stress, and wasn't helping them learn the language. 

So we split them up - Matthew had been going to the age group that Steven was in, and not getting much out of it.  We are so blessed to have this lady as his teacher when he dropped down to his age group - she is fantastic!  Very patient with him, and actually likes that he's teaching the other kids English as he learns Russian (the other teacher didn't care for that much).  She's also been great at being patient with Bobbie as she tries to explain what he needs and what we need to work with him at home on, etc.

This is Matthew's classroom.  He's in a group with other 3-year-olds now, and most of them are actually Russian (which is weird when you consider the T majority population).

This is Steven's teacher, or was until today.  Some of these pictures are out of date already, because the school recently asked if Steven could move up a level to be with the other kids who are going to school next year.  

We're not quite sure he's ready (they're all 5 and 6 years old, and he doesn't turn 5 until November), but since his teacher isn't quite as patient with him not knowing Russian we figured we'd give it a shot and hope for someone more willing to be flexible.  Today was his first day with the older group, and Bobbie said he seemed to be enjoying it when she went in to pick him up.

Steven's former class much better reflects the ethnic demographics of the local population - I think they're all T except for him!  Here he's enjoying his after-nap snack before he comes home with Mommy.

 As for what they do there, it's actually quite interesting.  The first thing the kids do in the morning is exercises in the gym.  We had to get special clothes for Steven, including a pair of shoes that can only be described as ballet slippers, for him to have the correct uniform.  They do jumping jacks, stretches, and all sorts of things (that's Steven on the right, trying to do the "bicycle" in the air).

After the exercises, they eat breakfast, then have a lesson (basic school stuff) and then "free play."  Then they eat lunch, and then a brief time to play and then a nap.  We come get them after their nap.

Last week we were invited for our first "parent-teacher conference."  Or, at least, that's what Bobbie understood when they invited her.  We showed up not quite knowing what to expect, but it turned out to be a mini-Olympics, with the parents getting involved as well.  Here's Steven getting warmed up for his event (which didn't have anything to do with the circles, they were just there for the kids to jump into and out of to warm up):


 Actually, he had to do a sort of "musical chairs" thing, which ended with him placing 3rd.  Then, there were events for the men, the women, a crossword puzzle-type game, and a whole-family balloon-popping contest.

You'll be happy to hear that the Wandering Family took 1st place overall.  We had a decidedly weak start, with several events we did poorly in, but then came from behind.  I was confident when they announced that the first event would be "Strongest Dad," because looking around the room at my skinny competition I thought I would have it in the bag.

Then they said what the event was to be: how many pushups could you do in 30 seconds.  I tried my best, but could only manage 22 and came in dead last.  The skinniest guy there did 38 and put me to shame.  Then we managed to win the crossword puzzle, despite the fact that it was in Russian.  The only thing I can think of is that the other families didn't really know what to do? 

After Bobbie finished second in jump rope and we won the balloon-popping contest, we narrowly took the victory.  Yeah for us.  Here's a picture of the leading competitors (actually, this is 2/3 of the entire field, so it's not like we had a lot of Olympians to defeat).  Most of the families just picked up their kids and went home, so only 6 families or so were actually in the competition.

Mom and son recover from their exertions with a hot drink.  It took our boys about two days to discover the joy of hot tea, and now they ask for it at home.

And I think that's about it.  Thanks for reading, and see you again next week.  If you're looking for things to be remembering, you could keep in mind our application for permanent residency, which we're hoping to get submitted this month sometime.  We also have some "higher ups" coming in for a visit next week, so that should be interesting as well.