Well, we're back from a taste of the big city. Not too long, but long enough to get some work done. OK, fine - we did have a bit of a break there too!
One of the things we needed to take care of was to get the boys new passports, as theirs are about to expire. Fortunately, the US embassy is located near the new Wendy's, so we stopped by for a taste of the US of A.
I took a picture of the cashiers' line to post, as it has to be the only Wendy's in the world with beer on tap, but it didn't turn out so you get this one instead. Swanky, no?
Unfortunately, we ran out of "family" tasks pretty early and then it was all language consulting for yours truly. The lovely Bobbie didn't have to do that, so she spent her days taking the boys out to play on all the wonderful non-glass-covered playgrounds! It did rain quite a bit while we were there so Matthew had to learn how to use an umbrella.
Our anniversary (yeah for 9 wonderful years!) is actually today, but we celebrated while we were there. And don't let anyone ever tell you that my wife is not a cheap date (Burger King was closed so we settled for Mickey D's).
Actually, we had babysitters for the evening, so for our date we went shopping. There are lots of things that are simply unavailable in T-land, so we stocked up. Honestly, we probably could get some of this here, but for more than double what we paid in Moscow, so it was worth doing it there and bringing it back. Check it out - Worcestershire sauce, saran wrap, curry, couch pillows: quite a haul!
Bobbie was lucky enough to get to hang out with friends quite a bit. I did see them in meetings and in between them, but it was hit and miss for me. Woe is me, in other words.
Actually, we did have quite a good time getting to catch up with a lot of our old friends from when we lived there. Steven loved our friends' guinea pig!
And it was another friend's birthday, so Bobbie went crazy and baked a cake with mint chocolate and coffee icing woven together.
Yet another picture of some of our friends getting together at the guest apartment we stayed in.
Alas, all good things must come to an end and eventually it was time to go home.
We opted for the train as 1) we were overweight for a flight and 2) it was less than half price and we were running out of cash. Here we are getting ready to board the train.
The way to save money is to ride 2nd class, called "platscart" in Russian. That means we didn't get a private room (called "coupe"), but instead each had bunks along an open corridor.
At first it was lots of fun, and the boys were SO excited (they love trains).
Around day 2 it started to get tedious, and the reality of being cooped up in a small space (with one chance per day to get out at a stop and run for 5 minutes before going back in) started to sink in.
By the last day they were running out of ways to entertain themselves and started to try Mommy and Daddy's way.
Finally, after 4 nights and 3 days, we made it. Well, we made it to a nearby city, anyway, and then we just had the taxi ride home:
We did get home in the end (and it's as beautiful here as ever, as you can see above). We're very grateful for His provision for our trip, and that we got here safely. I'm not feeling great, but we have a busy week this week (trying to resubmit some documentation for our organization, getting the boys' visas put in their new passports, and the boys are also starting kindergarten).
We'd like to thank you all for thinking of us while we were traveling, and to ask for you to continue as we get back to work! Thanks for stopping by, and we'll see you again next week (we have a couple of posts saved up from before our trip, so we definitely have things to post - perhaps you'll get to see the T method of slaughtering goats?).