Sunday, July 28, 2013

July 21- July 27

It was an interesting week.  Poor Rob had a stomach bug and ended up spending some time at home instead of going in to work.  The boys were so excited to have him around and that made it kind of hard for him to rest as much as he probably would have liked.  The boys aren't very interested in me when he is around.  There was a lot of wii played this week!

This week our family finally finished reading The Book of Mormon.  We started over three years ago.  Obviously, we didn't read much during our nightly readings.  With the boys taking turns reading it made things even slower.  We got through it though and Justin was excited to start the Doctrine & Covenants.  I was kind of leaning towards the New Testament, but we will get there eventually.

Rob was caught doing some logic problems on his iPad and the boys really wanted to help.  Their logic was a little bit interesting at times.  They decided to create their own logic problems for Rob to solve.  Justin's was very tricky.  Ryan's must have been a bit easier, as Rob was told that he finished it in expert time.

On Wednesday the boys and I went to the Magic Sand Center with the Embassy CLO group.  It was a very interesting place.  I think it would be neat to have some of their resources.  It was a nice outing, but I must say that it was an odd combination of unstructured yet overly directed. We started in a room that had light box tables with some fine sand on it.  The boys really enjoyed playing with the sand by letting it flow through their fingers and by moving it around on the surface.  Unfortunately, this was not the goal. A woman was up at the front with her own light box which was projected on a screen in front of the room.  She would draw something in her sand and instruct the children to draw what she was drawing.  Make a sun like this, draw clouds like this, etc. etc.  The boys were enjoying themselves, but the woman was looking tense as they were not doing what she was doing.  I took them downstairs to another area.  I knew it was there only because a younger girl had already gone down there because it was thought that the upstairs activity would be too difficult for her.  Well, yeah, the way it was run it would be.  Allowing her to explore the sand would have been fine though.

The small room downstairs had a large sand table.  It was like an elevated sandbox.  There were numerous toys in baskets on shelves that could be used in the table.  My boys quickly settled down and had a fun time playing in the sand.  They were hiding buried treasure to discover.  Another woman decided to try to direct the children's play another way.  She had a toy dolphin and tried to get the children to build it little paths to swim through.  Some of the children did, but Justin and Ryan just kind of looked at her like she was crazy.  They didn't want to build tall mountains with a small stream for her to swim through.

Justin and Ryan saw that some kids had been doing something else upstairs, so they went up to see what else there was.  They discovered their very favorite room.  It was full of stuffing and pillows.  It was like a pillow fight out of control.  They ran, jumped, hid, and had a great time.  The woman up there told them to be careful because the floor under the pillows was hard.  Sure, young boys are really concerned about the floor.  They jump off the top bunk bed and their floor is plenty hard.  She then tried to get the kids to relax and do a visualization exercise.  It was my kids and a three year old.  Guess what.  It didn't really work out so well for her.

Back downstairs one of the children was doing a cool painting activity.  Of course all of the children wanted to try it.  No problem, right?  Well, they only had one tray so only one child at a time could do it.  They had to wait for their turn.  The other areas were already cleaned up.  Hmmm, not the best planning.  They tried denying the three year old her turn saying she was too young.  The woman assisting was basically helping the younger children (including Justin) by controlling their project hand over hand.  Since we were running late, Justin and Ryan had to share a turn and a picture.  Once finished, we were told it took an hour to dry.  WHY wouldn't they start with that activity then?!?  Luckily, someone was able to pick ours up later.
I was glad that we went with the CLO group.  I never would have found the place on my own.  I wouldn't have had a clue what to do once I went in either.  There were plenty of employees, at least two spoke English, but they acted like tweens trying to run a summer camp without being given much guidance.  The boys had fun so we may go back, but we will be more assertive and say what we want to do and in what order.  We would also bring exact change.  It never ceases to amaze me how many businesses overseas don't have change. 
The Magic Sand Center claims to also be a therapy center.  I think that is one of the biggest joke.  I think they could do a lot to make it a great center for sensory activities that could be both fun and therapeutic, but for now it is a place to spend a pleasant hour IF you know what is available and plan your time accordingly. 
Another week of summer camp for the boys.  Justin actually did a couple of the crafts this week too.  We made a Mario and Luigi and did a couple of other things at home too.  I guess I need to look at what we have done over the past few months and update the entertaining my kids blog.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

July 14-20

My posts may be boring, but I have been doing a good job of writing about each week.  I wish this week I had something exciting to report, but I am afraid that my life is pretty routine.

The boys are still really enjoying being with Daddy again.  They are interested in whatever he is doing and climb all over him.  I sometimes have to remind Ryan that this isn't Daddy's house, it's where all of us live together.  He seems happy enough here, but he does miss Grandma.  It makes me happy when he talks about the little things that he misses doing with her like sharing an apple. To me that shows what a part of his life she is.  Grandma isn't just some lady we see sometimes for big major events, she is someone he knows from the time he has spent with her.

The boys are still going to summer camp twice a week.  Ryan is enthusiastic about going and Justin begs to stay home in his bedroom.  When I went to pick them up on Thursday, I saw Justin listening and actively participating in a group read-aloud.  He also will tell me about the things they do during the day.  He is so hard to drag out of the house to go anywhere, but he usually seems to enjoy himself when he does get out.

Thursday I had to go to the embassy to have my security briefing and get my ID badge.  It was scheduled at 4:00 so we could just come home with Rob after work.  He was able to take a couple of hours off of work and go with the boys to the playground while I was busy.  Once I was done, we all came home together.  It was hot enough that it was time to head home.  It was nice to come home and have dinner a bit early too.

The boys continue to improve on the Wii.  I am amazed at how fast they learn.  Just a few months ago they couldn't even play Mario Kart and now Justin can beat me.  It would be fun to find a few more games that the whole family can enjoy.  Maybe something that doesn't (gasp!) have Mario in it.

This week the former occupant's gardener came by.  He is too busy to work for us now, but he was kind enough to come over and show us where the property line is and to tell me about our trees.  We already knew about our apricot trees.  We have two more that are yellow apricots.  What we thought were fig trees are really almond trees.  We also have walnut trees and a plum tree.  There are a few cherry trees, but they are already done for the season.  It is fun to have things growing in our yard.  The window of opportunity for ripe fruit seems to be small though.  I hope to get more of the yellow apricots than I did of the others.  Even though we gave away more than 100, we ate some, and I froze some, I'm afraid that many ended up rotting.

The embassy employee association does a weekly produce order.  I love that I don't have to buy my produce at the store.  I think that when you order for at home delivery they tend to give you the less attractive produce, and from what I have seen it isn't always so great in the stores.  Poor Rob had a lot to bring home on Friday, including a watermelon.  We have been told that produce is pretty dismal in the winter and that we should enjoy it while we can.

On Saturday Rob had a couple of morning errands to run and no one really wanted to go grocery shopping.  We put in an order with SAS supermarket and it was delivered later that afternoon.  I really need to get out and more familiar with the grocery stores here, but it is nice to have the delivery option.  Since they have an English website, it really is quite easy.  Of course I wanted 3 liters of a certain brand of milk and they only had 2, but going to the store wouldn't have changed that.

We spent a little time outdoors.  We have in-ground sprinklers, but they don't reach the entire yard so Rob pulled out the sprinkler.  The boys had a blast and got very wet.

We will see what next week brings.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

July 7-13

I'm afraid that our days are probably not very exciting to hear about.  It seems like it is filled with routine tasks such as laundry, dishes, vacuuming, and the like.

Sunday started off poorly for me.  I had a killer headache and took some Excedrin about 6 am and went back to bed.  Rob woke me up at 9:00 am for church and I told him I still wasn't feeling well.  I ended up sleeping until about 2:00 in the afternoon.  I as up for a few hours, and back in bed for the night before 7:00.  I felt a lot better the next day.  Just glad that Rob was home and that he managed the boys for me.

Wednesday I took the boys to the Embassy to meet for a CLO activity to Play City.  There were only two other kids, but we had a good time.  Play City is kind of like a Chuck E Cheese without the pizza or large rat/mouse.  The main room has a variety of video games and other games, some identical to the games you find at Chuck E Cheese.  Rather than tokens, you put money on a swipe card and just swipe each time to play.  It is definitely easier than keeping track of tokens, but hard to keep track of how much more you have.  There is also a large McDonald's type play structure.  It does not take your swipe card, but rather a ticket.  You buy the ticket at the main desk and then take the ticket over to the play area.  The next room over has  bumper cars.  Once again, you buy a ticket at the main desk and then take it over to the bumper car area.  The bumper cars were fun, but the restraints were not very functional.  I was glad that I was in the car with Ryan and could keep him from flying out of the car.

The other side of the building has billiards, bowling, and a few other games.  Outside there are go-karts, paint ball, and mini golf areas.  I have no doubt that you have to buy tickets at the main desk and then take them to the designated area.  I think the reason I found that so amusing is because the employee would run over from an area to the main desk to take the money and then run back over to the area to take your ticket.  Kind of a one man show kind of thing except for the fact that there were more employees than customers.  I guess middle of the day on a weekday isn't prime Play City time.

This game was definitely Justin's favorite.  He and another boy there played it the majority of the time.

Justin and Ryan sporting the tie dye shirts they made at the Fourth of July party.


We had tried ordering pizza from GG's Pizza last week and they didn't speak any English.  This week I had Rob get someone from work call and order it for us so it would be delivered when he got home from work.  What we got wasn't exactly pizza.  The double cheese with stuffed crust had a generous amount of cheese and an okay crust.  Unfortunately, I don't know if they believe in tomato sauce.  It tasted more like cheese bread.  It was fine, but not what I want when I want pizza.  We also got a pepperoni and, not too surprisingly, it was not pepperoni.  We can try some other places, but we might end up having to just make our own pizza here.  I really miss being able to just order a pizza like you can in the US.  I know, what a rough life I have.

Monday, July 08, 2013

First Week in July

This week I was delighted to get our first letter.  Meredith sent it the day after we left for Armenia.  Of course that tells us nothing about how long it will take mail to arrive in the future.  Seems there is sometimes an issue getting our mail.  It was fun to get a letter from her though and she included a little picture. 

We continue to enjoy yummy fresh fruit such as cherries and apricots.  The boys always make a mess with cherries.  Justin's two front teeth are loose so he kind of gnaws on the them using the side of his mouth.  Ryan just always manages to make a mess.

 The boys started going to a summer camp this week.  They are going on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 until 1:30.  It gets them out of the house a bit and gives me a little break.  Ryan seems to really enjoy it so far.  Justin has a typical Justin attitude about it.  Hopefully they will meet a few kids from the neighborhood.  Right now a lot of people are out of the country on vacation.

Wednesday was the Fourth of July party at the Embassy.  It was the first time the boys and I had gone out there.  The kids loved the playground and got to play with a few other kids.  We had a BBQ and played a few games before we decided it was time for us to go home.  It was past the boys' bedtimes and since Justin was upset over losing the tug of war it didn't seem like the best idea to stay for another hour to wait for the fireworks.

Rob didn't have to go to work on the 4th so he and I headed off to the grocery store while the boys were in summer camp.  It is frustrating to try to get familiar with new stores, what is available, how to find what you want, etc. etc.  We were mostly successful and are hopefully stocked up for the week.  Even if I had Rob leave the car here with me AND I could find the grocery store on my own, it isn't like I could quickly pop out and grab something if I realize I need something.  SAS delivers groceries for about $1.25 fee and might become my good friend since they have an English website.
After lunch we decided to go to the mall to check it out.  Traffic wasn't bad going out there.  Guess most people were at work and the mall isn't right in the city either.  It is a beautiful building and easy to get to.  There really isn't anything there that I think I need though.  Too bad.  I don't know that I have plans to go back.
Ryan saw a store in the mall called New Yorker and was thrilled that he could read that the store was called New York.  Of course Justin corrected him and told him that the -er on the end of it meant it was New YorkER and not New York.  What was I thinking telling Ryan he is reading more and more everyday when he can't even get that right.  Poor little guy.  Justin makes sure to let him know who is the better reader.

The 5th was an Armenian holiday and we went to a BBQ at one of Rob's co-worker's summer house.  It is outside of the city not too far beyond Argel, for what that's worth.  I can see why people go there in the summer and not the winter.  The roads are not paved for a lot of the way and they are narrow and full of potholes.  It was much cooler out there than it was in the city and we enjoyed a pleasant day eating fresh fruit picked right from the trees/bushes (cherries, apricots, apples, mulberries, raspberries, and something like gooseberries), talking, eating some more, and hiking. 
I ate my first Armenian meal and it was pretty good.  I would say that it is definitely not the kind of meal you want to eat if you have to impress someone with table manners.  Chunks of meat mixed with grilled veggies and lavash bread may taste good, but aren't so pretty.
For awhile we had to force the boys to take a break from eating raspberries.  We were afraid that all of the fresh fruit they were eating was going to upset their stomachs.  They just ate and ate and ate...

The stones mark the graves where people are buried.

Looking down into the valley

Some of the cows we saw as we walked around the area

I'm sure this tells all about the remains we saw.

People come here and pray and then tie cloth to this bush so that their prayers will be answered.

Church remains.  Someone in the group said that they are from 750 AD but I have no idea if that is true.

This was made recently (sometime in the past ten years) as a commemorative something or other for the remains.  It was beautiful in person, but disappointing to see the date stamped into the side.  I couldn't read anything other than the date.

The remains of the church again

The remains yet again

Part of our group

Justin taking a rest

Street lights along the way

Justin and Ryan proving they could get up the rock.  No, they could not get down by themselves.

Tomatoes on the grill.  I hadn't thought to get the eggplant, green peppers, pork, fish, or other items.

Fish!  I stuck with the grilled pork. 

Cherry cake (Yum!) and the not-so-Armenian flan.  It was brought by a Mexican and it was absolutely delicious.

The green areas are where people have summer homes and keep things watered.
Some fairly typical looking apartment buildings that I saw outside the city on our drive home.

Little produce stand we drove by.

Saturday was a lazy day and we picked some apricots.  I made some apricot fruit leather (which we don't care for) and prepared some apricots for freezing.  I have 3 pounds frozen now and will probably do some more.  I wanted to see how they looked and tasted.  I know they weren't frozen very long, but they seemed to do well and not turn brown or mushy.  Since there is no way we can eat all of our apricots now I really have very little to lose by trying to freeze them.
Sunday I had a horrible headache and slept most of the day.  I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to sleep all night to Monday as well.  Headache seems to be gone so here I am updating the blog for Mom. :)  Hopefully I will do something besides laundry and dishes so I have something to write about at the end of the week.