Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Top ten reasons I'm happy to move to Baltimore

10. Honfest, the Kinetic Sculpture Parade, and other Baltimore eccentricities
9. The Baltimore aquarium
8. The Walters Art Museum
7. Bergers cookies
6. Vaccarro's eclairs as big as your head
5. DC adventures
5. Being able to see my brother's plays in DC
4. Being close to NYC and the rest of the east coast
3. Being back with some of my favorite friends in the world
2. Living in our own house
1. Knowing Paul has a REAL JOB! And knowing where we will be living for the next several years! Hooray for us!

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy new year, y'all

Wow. I just realized I haven't posted since September . I guess that's what the holidays will do to you. Well I'm thinking about making a resolution to post like once a week or something. Just thinking about it. In the interest of catching up: we live in Utah. For now. Looking for a job for Paul as soon as he finishes The Dissertation. My kids are still noisy and destructive and I love them to pieces. I'm trying to run a photography business, start an etsy business, and write in my spare time. And, someone thought I was organized enough to be the secretary for the children's organization at church. Paul is still laughing over that one. I think I should probably go do something productive. Like pull all the tissues out of a box. Thanks for the idea, Jude!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

100 mph

we have been home for about 6 weeks. i feel like i have been catapulted from country roads onto the freeway. and really, that's kind of what happened. life hasn't stopped for one. second. since we've been home. 

luke started 2nd grade about 10 days after we got home. we had school stuff to buy, open houses to attend. etc. etc.  then liam needed a preschool. so we got that taken care of. it's amazing and wonderful and a 20 minute drive away...so that is taking some getting used to. we got the boys to the dentist, and found out we have to get some work (ok a lot of work) done for luke--poor kid apparently inherited my teeth. i have been canning and freezing fruit and pizza sauce and homemade baby food. we just got a new niece! and are going to visit her this weekend. did i also mention i'm opening an etsy store? and selling my stuff at a boutique? more on that later...

but seriously. i am just amazed by the constant swirl of the fast life around me. 

and in addition to that feeling, i also feel a bit like frodo returning to the shire. we have been on a journey, and we are different people than we were when we left. it's hard to explain. but everything is different now, even though it's so very much the same.  i am not quite sure what to do with myself. and life, of course, doesn't care what i think. it just keeps coming. 100 mph. 

anyway. we're back home. and i'm back to blogging. 

Sunday, July 31, 2011


We are all home again. I will post more in the coming days about our last month and the trip home, but for now I just want to capture my thoughts before they are gone.

It is surreal to be here again. I did not realize how fully steeped we were in georgian life. The things that bewilder me: toilet seat covers and bathmats. Decorative plants. Light switches at the entrances to every room. Central AC. Kitchen appliances. Junk mail.

The other thing that is weird is how our former life is all right here, like we never left. We are changed forever by the last five months, but did anyone really notice we were even gone?

All three kids are asleep. The luggage all made it home too. I never want to smell airport air again. I never want to see another suitcase again. Though I do have to unload them...so I guess I still have to look at them once more. And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to dry my tears of sheer relief that it is DONE and go to bed.

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Location:Gilbert, AZ

Friday, July 15, 2011

Armenia trip!

Last week was one of the highlights of our summer: a trip to Armenia!

Getting there:

We applied for visas online, and apart from needing to send a reminder email or two, it was pretty slick. Apply, wait a week (supposedly two days), then print out your visas. Only $15 per person.

We bought tickets for the night train from Tbilisi to Yerevan, leaving at about 8:30 pm and arriving at 8 am the next morning. We had purchased 2nd class or "coupé" which is a compartment with two beds down low and two above. When we got to the platform and showed the officials our tickets, they looked at our passports, then showed us right to our bunks. Only 2 problems: first, there was no door or compartment-- it was all open; and second, there was a girl on one of the bunks already! The train officials said, oh we'll sort it out once the train gets going. It happens all the time apparently...

So we just piled in on one of the bunks and let her have the other one. Since it was open we could see the neighbors, and there was a family with a little girl next to us. They came and got Jude from us and sat him down with their little girl. They were playing and smiling at each other so adorably. Then the customs police came on so they had to hand Jude back to us, and the poor little girl was beside herself. Sobbing. Inconsolable. After the police left, the aunt came and got Jude again, and the girl was instantly happy. His first Armenian would-be bride :) btw everyone on the train was Armenian. Employees, travelers, everyone.

It was so so so humid, and even at 8:30 at night with the train windows open, we were all pretty sticky and gross. Even so, we enjoyed getting to know our new friend. She was Russian, from moscow, and was taking a graduation trip with some friends and was visiting armenia and Georgia. Just as we were getting to be friends the train peeps came back and explained that we had coupe tickets, didn't we know that? and why were we in the general seating area? Um...because this is where you put us? So we packed up our stuff and herded the kids through a few train cars until we got to....

Air-conditioning and second class! Hallelujah. There was only ac in the corridor, but oh my, was it lovely. The whole train, btw, was totally james bond. Minus the guns, glamor, and intrigue. Corridors, compartments, russian, clackety clack, the whole bit.

We got settled and then shut our door (a door!) so the kids could get changed into jammies. Then got up to take them to the bathroom...and couldn't. open. the. door. it took us seriously 15 minutes of trying, knocking and calling out for someone to help, getting out the multi-tool, praying, and finally just getting lucky enough to fiddle with it in just the right way to get it open. We didn't close it all the way again needless to say. Accidentally caught a pic of Luke getting jammified...

So. We got everyone to the potty. Got beds made. They gave us linen packages with sheets, pillowcase, and towel.

This is how I felt about no ac in our room:

Jude was so hot I finally took off his top and let his tummy hang out, which everyone on the train loved. Since it was still roasting hot, all the Armenian men were shirtless, in shorts and flip flops. They all loved Jude and wanted to hold him...he totally went to them, grabbed their chest hair, smiled his toothy smile for them. What a kid.

We eventually got to the border at around 11 pm, got off, got our stamps, got back on, and were on our way. No problems whatsoever. Apparently we could have bought a visa right there at the border if we hadn't gotten e-visas. We settled in for the night: Paul and luke took the top bunks, Liam got a lower one to himself and I got to share with Jude, who was so happy to get to stay with mom all night long. I was not as enthusiastic about it, but we had no bed or car seat or stroller or chair. What can you do.

As we were going to sleep, the AC miraculously came on in our room! Bliss! We slept well and awoke at 6 when they announced that we were close and that we needed to give back our linens. We were wondering what exactly we were going to do since it was so early and we hadn't been able to connect with the people we were going to stay with (our Georgian phones quit working before we crossed the border and we couldn't call them). We were just standing out in front of the train station when Justin Budd, our host, came up to us. Bless him, he had come to meet us, with his minivan, and whisked us back to their home.

More to come about the wonderful Budd family and our further adventures in armenia!

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Location:Soviet era night train

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Fourth of July

We celebrated the 4th with the Reeses as well as another American friend, Marisa. We took another trip in the caucasus mountains, this time to Kazbegi, the last town before the Russian border.

On the way we stopped at a fun mineral spring. Jude loves Marisa! He also loved getting his feet wet.

Isn't it cool! It looks slippery but wasn't at all. Kind of porous like sandstone. There is like 1/4 inch of water moving over the rock, which is orange from the iron in the water. The boys had a blast playing here.

We drove up and up and up, and finally got to the town of Kazbegi, which is really Stepantsminda now. But everyone still calls it Kazbegi...hard to see why, right? It's the town at the bottom of this valley.

We started down there and hiked up to this church.

Straight up, through the forest

Paul packed a very jolly Jude up the mountain.

A lovely meadow for a photo op. You can see Mt. Kazbek in the background.

The views at the top were just stunning:

It was tough climbing but we made it! (blue raspberry ring pops were effective incentives for the boys.)

The two specks down at the bottom near the road in the picture are jeeps--just to give you a sense of the size of these mountains.

I just love these velvety green mountains.

The group! Happy fourth!

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Into the mountains

It is summer, and it is hot. Time to get out of the city and up into the mountains! A week ago monday, we took our friends, the Reeses, up the Georgian Military Highway (the old road from Tbilisi to Russia) into the High Caucasus Mountains.

We chose a hike through the Khada Gorge, and it was just lovely. We hiked along this little river:

The boys threw rocks in it, then Liam ran through a mucky marshy spot and got all wet. He doesn't like being wet.

I washed his pants, socks, and shoes out in the river, then Paul hiked the whole rest of the way with Liam on his shoulders. Bless Paul and his shoulders.

We had a lovely picnic

And a fabulous day all in all.

Location:Khada gorge