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 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 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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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Thoughts on preparedness

When we first got to georgia, we had no food. I have no idea what Paul was subsisting on for the three weeks before we got here. And since we live up a huge hill and have to carry everything we buy up with us, I had to gradually stock the pantry.

(Aren't these beans pretty? It's the most widely available bean here.)

First we got staples. Noodles. Flour. Rice. Beans. Oil. Sugar. Sound familiar to any of you Mormons out there? These are the foods we are advised to store, so we can be prepared for any disruption in our normal food supply, be it personal economic hardship or worldwide fuel shortage or crop failure or disease pandemic or...well, so we are prepared and can live through anything that might happen.

So these staples were all that was looking at me every time one of my boys said, I'm hungry--and let me tell you, they did not want anything from said cupboard. Even adding meat--chicken or ground beef--did not do much for anyone. I couldn't help but think of the many people around the world who would consider this a lot of food, a well stocked pantry. But honestly, when you are ripped from your comfortable life, as my kids I'm sure felt that they were, these staples make pretty bleak meals. And it is very stressful for the mom when all you can think about is what to feed your family, where your next meal is going to come from.

I should also point out that it was march and nothing was growing yet. We could get last year's potatoes, carrots, onions, cabbage and beets. Lots of fresh greens tho. Some mealy imported tomatoes, pretty decent apples, and bananas at a shocking $.75 apiece. If it weren't for these, we would not have had any fiber or vitamins at all.

The next items i added were only slightly more helpful in creating meals. Yeast. Eggs. Bouillon. Tomato paste. A few Georgian spice blends. oregano was especially hard to find, and you just can't do pizza without it. I had the hardest time finding anything that would taste good to the boys. And i found out that really, if it doesn't taste good to your kids, they would rather be hungry than eat it.

I know these basic foods will keep someone alive. But not my family. Gotta have spices. Gotta have familiar flavors. Gotta have some "home treats" stored away so there can be some semblance of normalcy while struggling to rebuild your worldview according to the your new situation or circumstances.

I was delighted to find many of some old standbys from my days in Russia: buckwheat, known as grechka here, cream of wheat, a certain brand of oatmeal...but the menfolk around here were not impressed. And as I tried to remember what we ate as missionaries, i came to the conclusion that we did not eat very well at all. Noodles, rice pilaf, and soup. Salami/sausage type deli meat. Oatmeal. White bread with nutella...snickers...Finnish chocolate...mmmm fazer mints....I just found out you can buy these on amazon. Oh yum. But I digress...

Currently Liam is subsisting on the following:

cereal (a German brand of frosted cornflakes called snowies)

freshly baked georgian bread (it is the best bread ever, baked in a clay oven and costs like $.50. I think I will have eaten my weight in Georgian bread by the time we leave)

Georgian cheese bread--khachapuri. Also delicious and cheap. Unfortunately I can't
partake of the goodness. But the boys eat it every time we are out. It's sold in corner bread stores and on every restaurant menu. Thank goodness. Many a whiny afternoon has been saved by the procurement of khachapuri.

and pelmeni. These are little meat filled dumplings, boiled like potstickers or in a brothy soup. With fresh dill. Oh so good. And if it weren't for these, Liam would have no meat at all. This what they had for their first meal in the house here.

I make them from scratch in the states, but lucky for me, they are sold frozen everywhere here. One good legacy from soviet times.

So. The lesson learned from all this? If things fall apart in the world, we need a cow for dairy and a wheat field to survive. Chickens. We need to grow vegetables and fruits and preserve them to last through the winter. We need a root cellar. We need a good source of sugar. Kids need some familiar things to help them feel like life is good. If all we have is buckets of where and beans, we are not going to be very happy.

And beyond food:

A couple of weeks ago, our water was shut off for a while. I had been filling all our empty 8L water bottles back up with tap water, just in case of, you know, whatever. Because this is Georgia, and "whatever" seems to happen frequently here. So, yeah, the water gets shut off for several hours. The neighbors came over to see if our water was off too. I asked if they had any water stored, and they said they didn't even have any in the teapot. Their water had never been shut off before in the 50 years they'd been living there. We had plenty to spare (we have bought a lot of water over the last 2 months) so i gave them a couple of bottles so they could at least have something. It was great to be able to share. And my bottle filling mania was justified. You just never know when you're going to need vats of water.

Besides cleaning and homeschooling, this has been the main occupation of my time here--feed the family. Meet their basic needs. Life is distilled to basic needs pretty quickly when everything familiar is gone. It's been on my mind a lot.

And I'd like to just add that in the absence of familiar food, familiar toys go a looooong way toward making kids happy. My children could win a Lego marathon.

So. This ended up being a longer post than i thought it would be. What are your thoughts? What would you buy if you were me? What can you make from staples? Do you have enough for yourselves? Do you have enough to help a neighbor out?

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

What we've been up to

Mostly we've been busy with just regular life. The kids send a couple hours a day doing homeschool stuff, either in their workbooks or on the iPad. While they have "recess" in the yard, I do laundry and cook and clean.

Jude is 8 months old! He chills in his stroller while we are outside and loves it when the boys play peekaboo with him around the laundry hanging on the line. He sits up well now, still has a funky worm crawl, and is super fast in his walker--will even play hide n seek in it. He has changed so much in the time that we've been here.

Nothing cuter than this round little man!

When the boys are outside, Luke is the ringleader, deciding what they will play. Choices include Liam being the man and Luke being his dog, either of them being a variety of Lego ninjas and the other one being the evil skeleton lord, and the current favorite, Harry (Liam) Ron (Luke) and Mrs. Weasley (me). This one is evil killer clown. Or something like that.

Liam jumps and climbs and roams all over the yard, and has managed to put holes in the knees of almost all his pants. Since there is no target with $4 pants...I have to mend! This is what I came up with for one (idea from a random foreign crafty blog):

I'm kind of proud of myself. It was my first patch attempt, and Liam loves his monster pants now. I put footballs on the knees of another pair. They're cute too but not as awesome as this! Grrrrr!

The lilacs have come and gone, and we are into roses and peonies. We are at the end of strawberry season. Such strawberries! Oh my! Small and tender and sweet! I made jam and pie and we ate the by the kilo. And for once in my life i think i am ready to be done with strawberries! On to cherries, first sour ones and later bing cherries.

We've been exploring around the city some more, taking advantage of sunny days before it gets too hot. We went to the botanical gardens again and hiked to a waterfall.

We spent a while observing a frog pond with lilies, frogs, and thousands of tadpoles.

Great views on the hike back:

We took a trip with some friends to a village called Sighnaghi, in the wine country of southeastern georgia. It was like stepping into Europe. So quaint and beautiful. We had an amazing meal at a winery--here is our chef who later took us on a tour around the town.

His wife held Jude so I could eat. The boy is so so so grabby. She fed him the crusty end of Georgian bread--and he loved it!!! He was happy so I was willing to let him try a new food, and it turned out great! He didn't have any reaction, so now he has something to eat wherever we go. Hooray!

We spent some time at a park making friends.

Isn't the town cute?

Carvings on their WWII memorial: they lost thousands of soldiers from their small town.

One last shot from Sighnaghi and then I have to go make some hamburgers to feed the missionaries :-)

Good times had by all. We are all doing well. Halfway done with our time here!