Thursday, October 25, 2012

Boys Playing in Russian

So this isn't really a full post, but I thought a few of you might think it's funny.  The boys are starting (finally, after a whole year of going to kindergarten here) to pick up Russian.  They mostly use it at school, though, so we don't get to hear them speaking it much at home.

The other day Bobbie noticed that they were playing in their room together and speaking in Russian, so I tried to get a video of it from around the corner, knowing if they saw the camera they'd stop.  It's so cute to hear them speak it - it's like they've reverted to being toddlers again.  They've only been learning it for a year or so, so it's not a surprise that they speak it almost like babies.  

They kind of have that slurred only-parents-can-understand speech that 18-month olds do, but it's still funny (you can hear the word "samalyot" meaning "airplane" pretty clearly as they play with the toy plane):

Their pronunciation may be funny, but I could only get the intonation just perfect like that in my dreams!

Just to pad this post out a bit, a "Russian Cars" bonus!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Snow, Yurt, and a Minor Disaster


It seems that every year the snow gets earlier and earlier here.  Of course, this year we don't mind as we're going to leave to where there's no snow soon, so we get to enjoy a bit of it before we head out.  

The boys in particular always love the first snow of the year.  I think they forget how much they hate it by April, and they're just like "Snowball fight!" every year.  The novelty may wear off by December or so, but you have to at least get your money's worth at the beginning of the winter.

 We built the year's first snowman, but since we only had about four inches of snow and it wasn't wet enough to make a decent size ball, this is all we could get.

 Matthew, having recently watched "Frosty the Snowman," felt that the snowman looked lonely and wanted to give him a hug.

While Steven got to work making as many angels as he could fit into the flat part of the playground.

This week has been better than a lot of recent weeks, because despite still being on the hunt for a new culture and language helper, I got a lot of language practice in when some friends invited me to help them build their yurt.  

It was a bit different from a T yurt, as they had ordered it in a set from Mongolia.  The middle piece in particular was weird to me; apparently you have to have windows especially fabricated to fit or if it's warm, some plastic sheeting.  It does seem like a good way to let some more light into what can be a dark place in the winter, but I'm not sure how practical it is to haul windows around every time you have to move it.  

The first step is getting the wall lattice pieces set up and tied together and tied to the door.  This yurt is an "8-wall" yurt, meaning it's much bigger than usual (more commonly they are 5 or 6 wall pieces).

Then we had to set up the unusual high roof piece by balancing it on supports and then tying it temporarily until we can get the cross-pieces in to support.

The last step is getting the felt pieces on.  Unfortunately the set did not come with enough felt to cover the whole wall, so we halted construction eventually to go buy some more felt.  I also think they were going to buy another layer of felt for the parts that already had some, because the felt that was sent was quite thin and not up to insulating the yurt from the winter cold.

 The construction team takes a break for a photo shoot with the yurt in mid-build:

I was supposed to come back for the last day of building to finish (which I don't think actually happened, as the felt had to be ordered from somewhere), but the next day I got a call that our friends' garage where they were storing their furniture and household goods had sprung a leak.  You see, they're out of the country at present, so I had their key and had been checking on their stuff every now and again.

Sure enough, I rushed over to see what was going on and opened the door to a sauna.  It seems that when the hot water to the garages was turned on, there was a leaky radiator in the garage, which of course started spraying water all over the place.  Some frantic rearranging (and of course turning off of the water) later and it looked like this:

Mattresses were soaked, the couch was moist but hopefully salvageable, and some of the household stuff was ruined.  I did my best to get as much saved as possible, but it was still a bummer to have to call our friends back in the Western Hemisphere and tell them about the accident.

Above: you can see the radiator pipes on the right there, which unfortunately sprayed water for a day or so into a pile of stuff including books, kitchenware, bedding, etc.

Below: the weld that repaired the leak.

Sadly, some of the boxes of books were pretty much toast. :-(

And that's about it.  Tune in next week for more pictures of ... well, something.  Hopefully.

Thanks for thinking of us.  It's hard to believe that our departure is coming so soon.  We have some important meetings between now and then, so hopefully we'll stay very busy getting ready for them and also to leave.  We'll be seeing some of you very soon!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Attack of the Wandering Family!

 Steven and Matthew preparing for an assault on America

 So yeah, it seems that we are planning a trip to the US a little sooner than we had originally planned.  Due to a desire to get Steven into school for first grade next fall, and then the need to hand in our financial statements in April, we've had to reschedule our return for a few months from now.  Not ideal, but not the end of the world either.  And if you were thinking you'd have to wait for another year to see us, then it's good news to you as well.  Or bad news, if you don't like us much, I suppose.

Anyway, it's time for a blog, so here one is.  Not much going on, to be honest, except for stuff preparing for our new business and language study difficulties.  But you don't want to hear about that.  No, you want cute pictures of our boys preferring to sleep on the floor to their beds, and them reading a book as they fall asleep.

But we don't have that many of those pictures.  So, thought I to myself, what else do we have some pictures of?  Cakes!

Why cakes?  I don't know.  Ask my wife.  After making so many desserts for our guests (we have company at least a couple of times per week, and there's always a homemade dessert of some kind), Bobbie developed kind of a reputation for making delicious cakes.  And since there aren't really bakeries here where you can commission a cake, people started asking for her to make one for them.  She doesn't ask for much money, just enough to buy the ingredients (she's a much better baker than a businesswoman - that's why I'm in charge of the pine nut business!).

Above is a typical example.  Our friends and neighbors were having a birthday celebration, so they asked Bobbie to make them a yurt cake.  It's in the shape and decorated as a T yurt.  Below you can see the birthday boy blowing out his candle.

The tricky part of the cake was that they wanted it to show the T flag in cross-section when it was cut.  Obviously, with a yurt shape there had to be a top section that wouldn't work for a rectangular cross-section, so she did that in chocolate and the rest is the T flag:

This sort of thing has led to a whole slew of "orders," ranging from designs people want Bobbie to draw on their cakes (favorite cartoon characters, etc.):

to more classic roses and tiered styles:

I think this one is my favorite one, a birthday cake for some friends' daughter.

Isn't Bobbie amazing?  I mean, I guess you all knew that already, but she is, isn't she?