Wednesday, April 20, 2016

We have a match!

One of our grand plans for next year (no longer next year, but rather in about 4 months!) is to hire an au pair to give us more flexibility with traffic, snow days, and our study schedule.  We decided we would seek only German speakers, to get the kids a little familiar with the culture and language of where we're going, and helping us with our homework would certainly be an added boon! Because we're planners, we had decided April would be when we started the process.  For comparison, apparently most people start the process 2-3 months before they needed someone, and we were just shy of 5 months out. A few weeks ago Terry and I spent a large chunk of our free time crafting our "all about our family" letter, choosing photos to upload, answering all kinds of questions on the online questionnaires, reading au pair profiles, scouring advice from aupairmom.com, and scheduling time to Skype with the au pair company people who had to vet us before we could be let loose on the unsuspecting young girls (and a few boys).  In the end we registered with two au pair companies to give us a broader range, although it turned out we would have done fine with only one as none of the au pairs we emailed to from the other agency ever wrote back to us.

It's only been about 10 days since we finished our paperwork and we just matched with an au pair!  I was really nervous because I didn't think we could possibly get so lucky, because she was only the second au pair we had an interview with. She seemed to have all the qualities we found most important, and she seemed such a good fit for us. We had her "meet" the kids tonight via Skype before we settled down to our conversation, as we figured we never hired a nanny who hadn't met the kids before, why would we start now?  Of course, we have had three out-of-the-ballpark amazing nannies so far, and one perfectly fine nanny who lacked the problems and dramas we have heard about from others, so we do seem to manage OK.  Two of the amazing nannies were only the second people we interviewed so I know it can happen so quickly.

When Alex wanted to be tucked in again after getting up to use the bathroom I told her the lady she met would take care of her next year while we were at work and she asked why we chose her.  I told her the main points, and she said it sounded good ... so I guess she's on board.

[note: I wrote this on Monday but was too nervous about jinxing things to post until she confirmed. She just did (within 10 minutes of being offered the match - the person at the company whose job it is to offer her our match was out Monday and Tuesday)]

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Leaving, on a jet plane ...

Well, not anytime soon, but it is for real now. I have orders and I have plane tickets. At this point it's just me and the kids, we don't know the details about what will happen with Terry (whether he leaves with us or 1-2 weeks later. He will leave Astana in August, that is for certain!)

With fewer than four months to go, everything seems funneled.  We base our meal planning on what is in our pantry we need to get through before departure day. we have stopped shopping in bulk and cancelled many a Subscribe and Save.  We're looking hard at anything we could donate: clothes, kitchen items, toys and although we've done one large load to the nuns, I plan to fill the car at least one more time.  Looking to sell the car. We try to keep the kids from buying things with their allowance, knowing we'll be moving them soon. Our last major allowance drawdown was when we convinced them to use their money to go visit the amusements at Khan Shatyr. We even let them buy themselves ice cream/sorbet at the end.  We have our bucket list of those things we figured we'd get around to doing, then never did - Khan Shatyr beach, you're on the agenda within the next couple of weeks!

At work we're looking forward to our successors, looking for time to prepare handover notes among regular work duties. Goodbyes are still a couple of months away, but there is that note of winding down.


Sunday, April 3, 2016

Date Night

Our date night plans were pretty sedate, then a friend called who also had a babysitter that night and we changed our plans to meet up with them. With the rain and additional movements in the evening we ended up deciding to take the car rather than try to catch cabs throughout the night.

It all started innocently enough.  Babysitter came, we hopped in the car and headed to Shoreditch, a restaurant we'd been hearing about.  It does burgers and stir fry type stuff. We tried one of each. The burger: completely forgettable.  The Indian chicken and spinach over basmati ... it tasted just like Indian food!  It had spice, and the right kinds, and the right flavors, and did I mention my mouth felt a nice warm burn that endured after the food was eaten?  We were ecstatic. It was probably on par with your average strip mall Indian in the USA but here in Astana, that makes it the best in the country.  The restaurant was also really funky and adorable, with a hopscotch game in the front entryway and live music appropriate for a restaurant (i.e. not too loud and not too distracting).  It was completely booked but we had come early and had no qualms promising to be gone before the table's second act at 11pm (outside the USA we have found there is no turnover for tables - the one you book is the one you own all night long). Also, service was FAST.  We got an appetizer and our main course and easily could have come and gone within 45 minutes.

Dinner over, we headed to the bar where we were supposed to meet our friends. It's drizzling. Our windshield wipers refuse to kick on. We pull over a few times to squeegee off the front windshield. Terry keeps turning the wipers on hoping to make them work. The back wiper is working just fine. This is not cool.  The bar is in a more populated part of town from where we live, and it took a few swings around the block and a half-block distance to find parking, When we got there not only was every table reserved, but almost all of the bar seating. We found our friends squashed into the corner of the bar against the wall.  The music is deafening.  The beer is Corona.  We decide to split.

The final stop of the night, The Rock's, was the perfect pub.  Several British standards on tap as well as the bar's own brew. Although they were also fully booked, our friends ran into friends and we all piled into their generously large booth. A good night was had by all.  When we returned to the car the rain had stopped and visibility was 100%.  Just for fun on the way home Terry tried the windshield wipers to see what would happen.  I think we all know what happened.