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

Monday, June 27, 2011

Too young to know this

"mom, what's the fiercest animal in the world?"

"hmmm, I don't know. What do you think?"

"well, I think maybe humans. Because they have weapons. And sometimes declare war on each other."

Luke, my son, I wish I could say you are wrong. May you never witness the truth of your words.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Swimming with the locals, and other adventures

Tbilisi sea:

We went a while ago. In the interest of catching up...I'm just posting. We had one of our friends' kids with us for the day, and we let the boys have a little impromptu swim in the tbilisi sea. It's just behind the city. Very much a local hangout--no Americans/tourists.

Luke jumped right in.


Random old metal structure

Jude the rock star visiting some of his fans.

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S car go

We have snails in our garden here, as I have mentioned before. Liam likes to throw them over the fence into the alley. Or smash them with a stick... Did i mention we have a lot of snails in our garden?

One day we were playing outside after much rain, and Liam had the happy idea to collect them on our stairs. At first it was kinda fun. They suck into their shell the minute you pick up their shells, and sometimes make a cute little squeaky sound as they retreat. However, it soon became apparent that we had a LOT of snails in our garden. Behold:

They threatened to take control of Lego city!

Once they were all gathered together, though, we just couldn't have a mass execution. So. Many. Snails.

The solution: pack them up in a bucket, and take them to a new home in the forest! (again, Liam is the mastermind of this plan.)

And in case you were wondering, yes, snails poop. Ewww.

Aren't my boys cute? Luke, the eternal ray of sunshine...he was grumpy because it looked like it might rain and he didn't want to go outside.

As a side note, this whole excursion was made possible by that wheel you can see behind Luke--a light gray land rover Freelander. Wheels! S car go!!! (Sorry, couldn't resist.)We are renting it for the rest of our time here as Paul has site visits to make in addition to the day trips we want to take with my mom. I can't tell you what a difference it makes to be able to go anywhere, whenever I want. Ahhhh-mazing.

Back to the real escargots...here is their new home. Run free, little snails! Or slide. Or slither. Or whatever.

And thus ended our save the snails (but not in our garden) campaign.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

States of matter

I have decided that Luke and Liam are like gas molecules. They literally bounce off walls. They fill every room of the house that is available to them. The only way to keep a room clean is to make it off limits to them.

Jude, on the other hand, is a liquid. He goes everywhere. He grabs everything. He will find the one tiny corner you haven't blocked off and crawl into it.

Paul--my hero and my rock, is Mr. Solid.

Mr. Solid informs me that I am plasma. As in fire. Or a neon sign. I think i probably agree with that assessment.

In case you want a refresher...check Wiki.

This is what happens when you homeschool, i guess.

Also, tons of pictures to come in future posts. I got a little behind. So check back soon!

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

I'm never mopping again

I was mopping (remind me to show you what a mop looks like here) and ripped the sleeve on my favorite shirt. Technically it's a tunic but I don't like that word. Makes me think of men in tights. So I will call it a shirt. It's this one and she doesn't do it justice:

I really almost cried. Liam told me he will buy me another one just like it when we get to Arizona. Only problem is it is from last year.

Would you pay 20£ on eBay.uk for a replacement?

Fix the sleeve somehow? It has an L shaped tear right at the top of the arm.

Make a pillow out of it and move on?

Find something more important to worry about?

I really really liked that shirt.

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Location:The kitchen

Friday, June 10, 2011

Out and about again

We've made an effort to get out and explore even though it has still been raining almost every day still. So much for spring--it's now hot! And muggy.

Last Saturday we took an outing with some friends, Ty and Reed Turley who are here for a couple months while Ty works on his PhD research. Ty and I were missionaries in russia together over ten years ago. So crazy that we should be here in Tbilisi at the same time!

We wandered through some of the old town. Some traditional balconies:

A sleepy produce seller

We saw where the patriarch of georgia lives. Couldn't stop Liam from posing on the fountain in the garden...hope it wasn't a holy spring...

For sale in a souvenir shop--cheburashka! (lovable big eared creature from soviet cartoons.) Might have to go back and buy one!

A church

And a wedding

Liam on the lap of Georgian hospitality

Up to the Narikala fortress again

The fortress, the river, the city

Jude has an adorable new smile

And back home, some creativity on the front doorstep. Army men, Lego mini figures, and mcnuggets were some of the key players.

Not much else happened this week...homeschool, laundry, meals, the usual. We're hoping to get out a lot more once we have a car.

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