Monday, December 15, 2014

Settling in

We have books on the shelves.  The children have toy storage furniture in their rooms and the toys to fill them.  The awesome two story UAB box fort is just a pile of recycled cardboard and I think I am the only person who mourned its passing. Four boxes and two suitcases of clothes, books and housewares to donate to the nuns.  Snow tires on the car. More shelving requested from GSO and all balconies are full. We finally reached critical urgency in getting Alex new ice skates as the rest of the family's skates have arrived and skating is once again on the family activity list (spoiler alert: we got skates this morning and hit the rink this afternoon).  Beer is brewing.

We have spices, sauces and seasonings. Terry doesn't even normally like Mexican food and we've eaten enchiladas, tacos and tortilla soup all in one week.  Turns out what I suspected is true ... I don't need much in the way of clothes, toys, games, gadgets. But I must have my kitchen/pantry in shape or I'm a big grump.  

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Our stuff!

The day after the "psych out" I was certain something new would arise to prevent the resumption of cohabitation between my stuff and my family.  Our stuff was scheduled to arrive at 13:00. At 12:30 I was starting to get ready to go home, because if they say your stuff is coming, you go home even if you think they are teasing you.  The phone rang and the voice on the other end of the line said "The boxes are here early. Can you come home now?"

Well, duh.

These movers were fabulous. Very helpful, respectful, calling out the box numbers for me to check off my own handmade list (also good practice for Russian three digit numbers recall) and patiently waiting while I figured out which room each box should be put in.  The unpacking got overwhelming, and in several cases I had to tell the movers to stop unpacking things because a pile on the floor needs immediate attention whereas a pile neatly boxed can wait until tomorrow if necessary and there is a critical threshold of floorspace that cannot be cleared in a day.

As expected, everything was cold. Some things frozen solid (shampoo).  Some things exactly the right chilly temperature for enjoyment immediately (Yeungling).  We put all the items that, once cold, should probably not resume room temperature in one bedroom's balcony and opened the window to the outside.  We now have until April or May to consume everything located therein.

And for some other items, we now play the game of "can this, frozen and then thawed, be safely consumed?"

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


My stuff arrived in town the day after Thanksgiving. The Monday afterwards is a local holiday. I was a little surprised and definitely pleased to receive a phone call Tuesday morning telling me customs had cleared my stuff and I needed to be home by 1:00pm to receive it (the call came just before noon).

I ran around letting my boss and others know, and hopped in the car to get home in time. Lunch? Who needs that when you're pumped up on reuniting with snow tires that so helpfully keep you from getting killed as you get across town?  I got home, changed into jeans, and waited.  At 1:15pm I sent an email to the embassy shipping guy.  At 1:30pm I was looking up his phone number when he called.

Oops. Not today. Maybe tomorrow. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A little brag

Alex's school play is next week. She's a little mouse and in this play, unlike the Nutcracker, the mice are good guys.  Anyway, late last week I got an email from her teacher that a lot of kids have been absent and the teachers are worried about kids not knowing their lines. So, would it be OK (they don't want to put too much pressure) if they gave Alex ALL the other mice's lines to learn too, so she can say them if the kid is absent?

That's my girl!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

American English

Alex has a friend at school who has one American parent. The school is English speaking, although they learn British English (and yes, there is a difference, every so slight).  So tonight she tells us that when they are back at school she is going to ask the other girl if they can speak American English at recess, because they usually speak British English.

I wonder if they will notice the difference?

Friday, November 28, 2014

Epic Thanksgiving Post

The problem with being married to someone with artistic and design experience is that it is difficult to argue convincingly with them about layout and design issues. Of course, the family also knows not to argue with mommy about spelling or grammar, we all have our strengths. Why am I writing about this on Thanksgiving? Because I want several photos included in this post and the only way Terry will agree is if I write enough to make the pictures look nice spread among the text.

When you don't have your stuff, a lovely chilled bottle of white wine makes an acceptable rolling pin for the pie dough.  A tiny baby medicine dropper is a better-than-nothing baster. The borrowed roasting pan is too small so you use a tray meant to fit into the Mickey Mouse oven we used before getting our hands on the full sized American one, with the cooling rack sitting atop (and you hope the cooling rack is actually safe to use at high temps).  You lose a lot of turkey juice goodness because the tray is shallow and any movement makes the liquid slosh over.  There's a lot of talk between Terry and me of how things will be different next year.  The good news is that even with all that, everything looks delicious - which is why I wanted so many photos!  Notice the tray the turkey is sitting on - it's our new Uzbek pottery platter that we bought when we had a local craft bazaar at the embassy a few weeks ago. I am so completely thrilled with our purchases.

This year we're doing Thanksgiving at home, with only one dinner guest.  I am pretty sure this is the very first turkey we have ever cooked - we've always had somewhere else to go for Thanksgiving.  I am amazed at how relaxed this day is.  I made cranberry sauce this weekend and apple pie this morning. Terry made an overnight bread (started last night, baked it today).  We made dressing this afternoon while the turkey cooked, and cut veggies for the raw veggie tray.  Terry made gravy and mashed potatoes while I managed to get our car washed - it is so pretty! Such a deep dark red!  We got to the produce stand near the house and ran a couple of other errands.  We even had time to watch Frozen as a family (only our 4th time) and the kids got naps.  Our guest brought roasted beets and pumpkin pie. We managed to hit pretty much every mandatory Thanksgiving day food item without having to freak out about timing.  Maybe setting dinnertime for 5:00pm has a little something to do with it?

We also got a surprise visit from the owners of this apartment, with sweets and happy Thanksgiving wishes.  So lovely!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

cooking up a storm

Today the kids went to Sunday rugby.  Beforehand Terry made a full breakfast and I started bread.  After we came back:  pumpkin puree, pumpkin bread, applesauce, bread, oatmeal cookies, and homemade dinner.  It was quite a day.

We have friends with now-adult children. When we met them their youngest was a teenager.  They used to tell us to get the kids in the kitchen as young as possible. Part of the reason today's kitchen-fest was possible was that the kids helped and - as importantly - didn't need supervision so that it was help, not "help".

We still haven't convinced ourselves to work on their knife skills, though.  

Friday, November 14, 2014


Image result for kazakhstan flag
I know so many people around the world were excited and nervous at whatever time corresponded to midnight in D.C. on Monday, which was when handshakes went out.  I forgot that it was an important handshake day for us too.

Congrats, Terry!  Next summer when we go home for R&R, he'll actually return to post on a PCS out of his teleworking position and into the IPO slot in Astana.  I am sure that sentence just made some travel tech's head explode.

My little love

Zoltan is definitely more free with his affections than his sister. The other day they got the idea to make me birthday cards (6 weeks early).  Zoltan gave me his right away. He explained the picture and the very long word in "silly language" as meaning "Mommy, I love you. Thank you for all the love. Love, Zoltan"

I'm going to miss this when he grows up.