Monday, April 30, 2012

Catching Up

So, we have a lot to catch up on since our last post.  When we made that post, we were still in Moscow getting new passports to replace the ones that were lost.  Since then we've come back home, had a visitor and gone out to see some of the countryside we hadn't yet visited, and had visa news and a birthday party.

Let's start by finishing off our time in Moscow:

 Every time we go back there, we try to get together with our old friends, who are sisters from Uzbekistan.  They are really fantastic people, and we always have a great time.  They gave Matthew an early birthday present:

and more importantly, they made us real Uzbek plov, which is one of the most delicious foods in the world (although bad versions of it are much more common than good ones, in my experience).

Anyway, we eventually did get our new passports and returned home.  On the way, we picked up a visitor, a friend of ours who also lives in Siberia.  He came to T-land with us for a visit, and we had a great time seeing some parts of our republic together, including a town I'd never been to before.  Unfortunately, I didn't take the camera, so you'll just have to take my word for it that all that happened.

Then, after another eventful week, Saturday was Matthew's fourth birthday.  Last year he turned 3, which is the really important birthday in T culture (I don't know if you remember the video of his hair-cutting ceremony?), but we still wanted to have a party, even if it was smaller.  He got some nerf-type guns, ...

... and a few other presents, but the big one was the present we ordered on ebay a few months ago and Bobbie's parents sent over for him (thanks, Poppa and Grandma!).  Here you can see him opening the box:

Our family had a set of these things when I was a kid, and though the good quality ones are now out of production, you can still buy them used on ebay (you have to look for a good deal; some of them are really expensive!).  It's a set of tracks that you can build for a marble to roll down, and some of them have a starter and finisher piece so you can make it a race.

It was a big hit with the boys, and still several days later they're wanting to play with it 24 hours a day!

 Here's a little video of how it works with it all set up:

 Anyway, Bobbie also made lasagna (which turned out to be really popular with our T friends!) and some multi-colored cupcakes for a birthday dessert.

 Then the cupcakes went from beautiful works of art to being stuffed into faces as fast as possible.

Matthew even got another T vest from our next-door neighbors.  I guess he should give one to Steven so they can both have one.

Anyway, the end result was two happy boys, and two tired parents.  It was a fun day, overall.

Last night we had some more company over, and they were so curious about the toy that we set it up together again.  Truly a toy for boys of all ages!

And that's about it, or at least of the things we have pictures of.  Please be thinking of our residency application; the final decision is due this Friday.  We'd really like to be able to get permanent residency so we don't have to start the application process all over again next year!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Passport "Issues"

 So, you know those things up there?  Passports?  Yeah, so, it turns out you can't live without them in another country.  

I know you knew that already, but in case you were wondering, like, at all, it's 100% true.  We can confirm it from personal experience.

You see, about three weeks ago, the lovely Bobbie was taking Matthew down to the clinic in T-land to get a certificate that he was better and could go back to school (if your kid's been sick, you have to have a doctor's permission for him to return).  Anyway, to make a long story short, unfortunately, the passports were accidentally left behind inside the public transportation, and our many advertisements offering a reward for their return went unanswered.

So, we needed new passports for Matthew and Bobbie, which means going to the embassy and getting them.  Unfortunately for us, the nearest embassy to T-land without crossing a border is here:

Yep.  Moscow.  Our wonderful capital city, only 4,700 km away.  So, it was time for a trip.  But first, a cute picture of Matthew wearing the colors of his favorite team (or, in honor of the fact that it's an English team, perhaps I should say "colours of his favourite team"), Liverpool:

Now, I must admit that I was loathe to leave the work at a very busy time for me to come here to get some new passports made, but there are some advantages.  First of all, we can't get decent beef in T-land, so Bobbie bought some steaks and made them up with a squash salad thing that was super yummy.

We also got to visit our friends and coworkers here while we waited for the documents to be ready, and they gave us their old roller blades that their kids had outgrown.  Steven and Matthew love them!

We also took the boys over to IKEA one day, where they got to play in the ball pit (always a popular destination):

Look at the wonders of the western world: shopping with carts!

And, since we had to be here anyway, of course I got to do a language check on our friends who have lived here and studied Russian for a couple of years.  You might remember their daughter from pictures a year or two ago when I was here checking them then.  The boys had such a great time playing with another kid who speaks English (though I don't think her baby sister provides quite the same level of energy as Matthew and Steven when they play together!).

Here the boys are playing train with friends while waiting for one of them to complete his Russian interview (which I've been listening to for the past two days to write up some recommendations to help them improve in the future).

Anyway, thanks for stopping by.  Passports have arrived, so now we go back home this weekend.  Going to be a busy few weeks when we get back catching up, not to mention we have someone coming in for a visit to help us work on some things.