Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas with the Wandering Family - a B post

Well, first Christmas is over.  Now, we are getting ready for second Christmas.  

At least, that's what I call it.  They call it New Year's here.  They have the same Christmas figures and traditions as we do but they do it all on New Year's eve (now, some of you might already know this but just in case some are new to our blog I thought I would state it again).  

Anyway, to recap what we did for our Christmas: of course, what's December without a Christmas party?  So, being the party animal I am, I assumed the responsibility of hosting probably the only actual Christmas party here.  We did it the Friday before Christmas and had our English Club over.  I wanted to introduce them to some of the typical fun we have at Christmas parties like Dirty Santa and going for a treasure hunt.  I don't think they got it.  I basically had to tell them where to find the next clue.  But, we had fun.  

And, of coures, I had to bake, bake, bake.  I'm pretty proud of this snowman cake if I do say so myself:

Our tree had lots of gifts under thanks to some grandparents, aunts, and uncles who wanted to spoil their grandchildren (I can't complain either since I got a ton of stuff to make me even fatter (again, not complaining).  Jesse got the perfect gift:  a Nook (an electronic book reader).  More space for me to pack things when we come back, because he won't be trying to hog an entire suitcase just for his books. 

Anyway, because of time conflicts, we did the typical present opening/cooking thing on Christmas Eve (we wanted to do it while skyping the grandparents).  

So, we woke up, the boys helped make pancakes, and then we ripped into the presents.  

By the end, the boys got the hang of ripping into the presents.  The rest of the day they were busy playing while Mommy and Daddy crashed.  

I wanted to start our own traditions and decided to make a Stollen bread (a German fruit cake).  Since it takes 6 hours to make I probably will not make it except for Christmas.  It was pretty good.  The boys like it but ended up picking the fruit out.  Oh well.

 And, I had to take this picture of what the market looks like.  The whole market is lined with kiosks looking exactly like this one.  It was so crowded I wasn't able to take a picture of what the aisle looked like.

So, we finished up our Christmas.  Now, time to celebrate second Christmas which included Christmas programs at school.  

Here, the kids all dress up like Halloween for their parties.  I had to have a pirate costume for Steven since he was in a presentation with the other boys as a pirate (look below).  Anyway, I had forgotten about getting a costume for Matthew.  So, I just dressed him up in Steven's costume since their parties were on different days (ain't he cute?).

So, like I said before, Steven's class had a program that included songs and dances from the kids. 

Here Santa Claus is named Father Frost, and he has a granddaughter named Snegurochka (Snow Maiden).  One of girls from Steven's class is playing her here (the one dressed in blue) and she looks just like the pictures of her.  On a side note, Steven adores this girl.  She takes really good care of him and has assigned herself as his protector.  So, cute.

I knew about one of the songs Steven was doing, but what I didn't know was that he was going to sing Jingles Bells (in English) by himself.  I wanted a video of this but by the time I got the camera out, he was already half way through.  He did great (if a little quiet). 

 They had one of the dads dress up as Father Frost/Russian Santa so we had to take a picture of it.

Although we usually don't buy each other something for Christmas, I really wanted to get this for Jesse (or I should say, for both of us).  It's a sushi kit.  Pretty tasty, and we've already had sushi twice since Christmas!

We really tried to work with Steven to memorize his lines for this poem but he just couldn't say it fast enough.  Besides, he was having way too much fun with his scarf to bother with lines.

Anyway, that's about it for Christmas-related post stuff.  Tune in next year for more on New Year's, and until then, С Новым Годом!

Thursday, December 15, 2011


 I'm too lazy to write much, so I'm just going to let most of these pictures speak for themselves.  Above is obviously family game night, with a tense game of Candyland won by, if I recall correctly, Matthew.

Except maybe these pictures I'll write something about, because they won't make much sense without an explanation.  In an effort to get more time in the language, I've been trying to make some contacts in a nearby village.  Finally, I was able to arrange to live with an older gentleman there in his one-room home.  It gives me lots of language practice, and until he moved back to the city very recently, I was trying to get out there several times per week.  Here's where he lives:


The inside looks like this:

I sleep next to the bag of potatoes, he sleeps on the bed where I'm standing to take the picture.  It really is a very cozy affair (note the wellhead inside the house, so it doesn't freeze!).

This is the kind of thing we do there; go out and look for firewood to cut up and haul back.  The coal trucks have been slow to come around this year for some reason, so everyone's trying to find enough wood to burn to heat things.  It gets rather cool this time of year.

Back in the city, Steven's been working hard on learning to read, and he's doing really well.

Though he does take frequent breaks from his studies to wrestle with Dexter.  By the way, Matthew seems to be allergic to Dexter, so he'll probably be leaving us as soon as we can find another home for him.  It will be a sad day for poor Steven, who will lose his wrestling buddy.

Getting into the Christmas spirit by baking cookies,

and putting up the tree and the ornaments!

Merry Christmas from the Wandering Family!