Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Happy Birthday Mom

We wish you a very happy birthday and we want you to know we are thinking about you today. We miss you and hope you have a great day. All of us here love you, even those who haven’t met you. You have blessed them as well as us by your willingness to send us packages with our favorite shows and games from America. Thank you so much mom, we appreciate all you have done for us this last year. Thanks for being so supportive of us. We Love You and Happy Birthday!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Living Room Circus

This past week we were able to entertain 3 of our “nieces and nephews” while their parents were busy house hunting. We had a lot of fun with them, but were once again reminded how much energy children have. I think we did a pretty good job at tiring them out this week. Marvin and I challenged them to a basketball game. Then all of the kids and me took on Uncle Marvin. Marvin barely pulled out a win. We played sardines, which I found out I was much better at hiding than finding. Marvin and their other uncle took them to a field and they tried out the Marvin’s boomerang. (Kathy thanks for sending it, they had so much fun and couldn’t wait until Uncle Marvin got home to go try it out.)

We topped the whole week off with a grand finale, a living room circus. ) It seriously felt like a circus during rehearsal, they all were very excited.) They all did a great job and even Marvin who sat down right before dress rehearsal and said, “Oh this is my nightmare” had fun. Marvin stole the show with his one ball juggling act. Other acts included a tightrope show, dancing monkeys, lion & tamer, magic tricks, and a clown show. We had so much fun and we certainly won’t forget that evening for a while.

Watch out for falling Trees

I was on my way to language last week and experienced a slight delay. The city decided it was time to trim the trees by the market. It was an interesting process because half of the street was blocked off by the truck lifting the guys with chain saws in the air, but nothing was blocked off people were still walking on the sidewalks like normal, dodging falling branches and getting sprinkled by wood chips. I decided it would be a best if I waited a bit before walking through the snowing woodchips. I observed something you would never find in the States. The guys were literally between the lines, and a branch got stuck on the line, so what did they do? They just shook the line until the branch fell off. As amuzed as I was I need to get to language so I closed my eyes and walked straight through the falling wood chips.

Language Bloopers

Our language teacher had a birthday, so I made cinnamon rolls. We were all very surprised to learn that all 3 of our teachers had never tasted cinnamon. They were very impressed with the flavor so they requested the recipe. My teacher right now doesn’t speak any English so I had to translate the recipe, which is harder than you think. I had to look up a few words like, knead, mix, rise, and pan and after it was all done I thought it was going to be understandable. So I proudly give my teacher this recipe I worked so hard to translate and she began to read it and then when she came to the step where you place the cinnamon rolls in the pan and let rise for 10-20 minutes, she stopped and looked at me with a puzzled face and said, “Erica what are you trying to say?” So I told her I didn’t know what the word was for pan and described it to her, using a few words and gestures. Then she started laughing and told me what I really said:

Lay cinnamon rolls in a glass toilet and let rise for 10-20 minutes. Oops!

After I told this story to a few our ex-pat friends they told me never to use the word preservatives when you refer to the stuff that keeps your food fresh for a long time. (Many times when it comes to technical words like this they are borrowed from English and sound very similar you just have to add the local accent.) Apparently this is not the case with the word preservative; it actually is the word for condom. After they told me this I just laughed because I remembered talking to a taxi cab driver about bread and how long it lasts in the States because it has lots of preservatives in it. After my comment he was silent for the rest of the trip, I thought it was kind of odd that he stopped talking. Now I know why!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Our Hot Water Woes

Meet our Hot Water Heater! We have a little love/hate relationship with this thing, and Marvin has become very familiar with it. First I have to tell you what an amazing plumber and husband Marvin is, because we wouldn't have hot water right now if he hadn't taken apart the pipes of this thing and gotten all the rocks out of it. Right now we have a lot of pressure at our house and our hot water heater is cleaned out which leads to two beautiful words, HOT WATER!!!

It is amazing at how a hot SHOWER will make my day. I seriously feel like a queen! We have learned the art of bath in a bowl. Boiling water and pouring into a tub inside a bathtub and then pouring the water over yourself, but for the time being I will cherish every hot shower I can get!
Marvin was laughing about how I always would hope there would be hot water everynight when I went to take a shower. After about 5 minutes of being in the bathroom trying to get hot water I would walk out to get the water that I boiled, just in case I needed it, and I would have this glare of irritability on my face. We had a good laugh about this and we both agree I am much more pleasant after a hot shower.

The good news is I have had to confront my attitute about hot water this last year. It is funny how as an American I expect things to go a certain way and if they don't I get frustrated or grumpy, as in my case with hot water. This past year I came head on with my sense of entitlement i.e. that I was entitled to a hot shower, a washing machine, space on public transportation, etc. I had a good hard look around me to see how people live here and my eyes were opened to the fact that hot water comes and goes and locals don't blink an eye, women wash clothing for their family of 6 by hand, while waiting on a ride home I see people who are tired and want to get home as much as I do. To make a long story short I have learned that a hot shower is not necessary and that my "standard of living" based off of America isn't a right, but it is a priveldge. So everytime I get a hot shower I feel like it is a gift from above.

The Hill

Marvin took these pictures from his favorite spot in the village where we live. It is a hill that is near a creek that divides the village. When it was warmer Marvin would go up to this hill and read and a local shepherd would sometimes sit down beside him while his sheep grazed. Ever since finding it Marvin couldn’t wait to sled down it, now we have the snow, all we need now is to find a sled that is big enough to hold us!
The buildings in the background is our booming metropolis, as you can see the city isn't that big.

This picture is looking out over the village we live in.
Those are sled tracks that you can see in the snow. Sleds are the winter bicycle here of our area. It is very common to see children walking down the street pulling someone in there sled.


I am not sure if any other family puts together a puzzle during the holidays but it has been something that I have enjoyed doing with my family so I picked on up for this holiday season. I sure picked out a tough one, our necks hurt after working on it for a while. It definitely kept us occupied during the evenings this last week, but we are glad we finally mastered it!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Happy New Year

We had a pretty quite New Years evening, Marvin took in a football game and basketball game that my parents sent to us. I worked on finishing our scrapbook, and intermittently the neighborhood children would knock on our door. They were dressed up in costumes and wanted money or sweets. Unfortunately we did learn of this tradition until the day before, so we didn’t have time to get any sweets prepared. As midnight drew closer we turned on the television to check out what was going on in our part of the world. We came across our country’s version of Dick Clark’s New Year’s Eve Special. It was pretty fun watching something that was a familiar, but with all of this culture’s twists. Then midnight hit and booms were heard all around us, so we ran upstairs to take in the fireworks. We would have loved to take a picture but our camera isn’t that great at night shots, so let me explain.

We could see little bits of color everywhere lighting up the sky all throughout our village and town. (It was such a clear night that we could see a long way.) This totally beats the 4th of July fireworks hands down because they were going off all over the place at the same time. We could also see the big city fireworks display. This lasted about 15 minutes and then our neighbors started shooting off some big stuff. It was fun to be able to watch all of the celebrations from our upstairs windows. The neighborhood boys were in heaven as they enjoyed lighting things that explode for hours.