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Friday, October 17, 2014

Moscow Oddities

I take photos of odd things I see when I'm out in my world. There's usually a story that accompanies each, but sometimes it's just the fact that the world we live in, wherever that happens to be, is a really weird place.

I don't always understand the oddities where I live, but they're cool to think about. And it's pretty fun to share.

A brand of baby lotion here, not sure if the baby becomes bad after you use the lotion, or if you're just supposed to use it on bad babies.  

The Y in Russian sounds like oy, like the word toy.  So it's a toyalet

I have never before owned so many identity cards that I have to have with me all the time.  There seems to be one for every little thing you do.

There's an obsession with mayonnaise and sour cream, it's sold in huge buckets.  

A few weeks ago we walked by a couple leaving our apartment building holding a bristly creature I initially thought might be a very strange cat. Then the guy placed it on the ground and I discovered it was a...

Yep, it was a raccoon.  

For some reason this advertisement is on the door of every public restroom I've been in so far.  And I'm really perplexed by the picture.  Why is there a dial? Why is everyone looking at him so strangely? I took the picture to show to a Russian friend and have them translate, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

Ahhh the oddities of this country.  Still not quite as strange as Cairo, but it's got some doozies already.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Walking Man

It's a whole different world at our house these days.

Frankenstein has moved in.

Q was 15 months old when he took his first steps, and started really walking just before he turned 16 months.  That's a looooooooooooooooong time. In toddler years it was starting to feel like an eternity. And I know that he was still well within the range of normal walking, yadda yadda every child is different... I was getting really tired of seeing people post about their 7 month olds walking on Facebook, and having people remark on how tall he is for a 10 month old. It was difficult to see him so frustrated too, because he wanted to walk desperately, but he's just a cautious boy, he doesn't do things till he's sure about them (no DNA test needed for paternity here!). But now that he's walking it's like a bubble popped and he's back to his usual joyful self.

A little less joyful when he loses his balance and face plants on the hard wood floors, but still it's an improvement.

We feel like life is starting to have a rhythm again. We're all settling into routines and though our schedule at the new school is much more frenetic than we're used to, I think there's an air of contentment in our home. And it's not that there wasn't contentment in Cairo, but it does feel like life is a little bit easier here, a lot more balanced, even if we get fewer hours to enjoy the day. We have great workout facilities at school and are both getting exercise. The opportunities for culture are wonderful, we already have tickets for La Traviata at the Bolshoi next month. And nature abounds with beautiful leaves turning golden, and parks everywhere around us.

At home things are really good as well. There aren't a lot of restaurants around us, and no food delivery, so we cook more out of necessity.

He's starting to feed himself and is very proud of the accomplishment.

Q and his nanny Valia go to a music and Montessori class each week, and she also takes him on outings in the forest behind our apartment to gather acorns and feed the ducks.

He's getting really good at animal sounds, and seems to understand Russian as well as English.

Right now they're offering a baby swim class at the school, so on Saturday mornings we get in the pool and learn to blow bubbles and get our faces wet without freaking out.

And most of all, we read.

Oh my word, this child is obsessed with books. (Not complaining at all, and again no need for DNA tests from both sides)

We spend hours reading.  He goes and picks out a "gook" as he calls them, crawls into our lap and then we read while he turns the pages. And when it's done, he chooses another and we do the same thing again, for hours.  

What's really interesting is that so many of his books are not in English.  So I make up stories about what we're seeing.

This one's in Russian, I call it The boy and his onion rings who wants to tell his scuba instructor everything is fine.  It's a working title.

This one is in Japanese and luckily it seems to just be about playing Peekaboo, so it's a little easier.

All in all, life is pretty damn fantastic.  We're working hard, exploring our new city, making friends and watching our beautiful boy develop into a remarkable person.

Life is good...

And yes, I know... winter is coming... (insert Game of Thrones music)  We will survive!  Though we'll see how many small appendages fall off.  I'm guessing the pinky toes will go first.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


Things have been so busy ever since we arrived in Moscow. I feel as though I barely have the time to process each day before the next begins. Which makes it even harder to coalesce everything into some semblance of writing that others would want to read.

But I left for another trip last weekend to Turkey and am getting precariously close to missing the chance to tell about my expedition to Siberia.  So here goes... it'll be more condensed than I'd like because I can't share most of my photos since they have kids in them.

We left Moscow around 11pm and flew to a little town called Barnaul.  By the time we made it on the bus everyone crashed and slept most of the way to Altai. It was a six hour bus ride, so thankfully I was able to catch up on a little bit of missed sleep.

When we arrived, our campground was nestled in the middle of a cute little village on the banks of the Katun river.  We all had little cabins with a gorgeous view.

There was a lot of time spent around the camp, swimming in the river (or dipping in toes and screaming because the water was so cold).  And then we started the activities.  First a ropes course where I got the best shot of all time as one of my kids slipped and ended up doing the splits in mid air.  Then a ridiculously long hike through the rain and mud ending at a beautiful lake.

I'm still not sure how she got out of that.

It was a beautiful, cold, energizing, relaxing, exhausting and emotional trip. The first time I'd been away from Q for such a long stretch of time.  And quite an experience to jump into very different surroundings so soon after arriving in a very different country.

It was awesome, and I really hope I get to go back next year.