Monday, September 23, 2013

September 22, 2013

This week was another fairly routine week.  Justin started after school activities on Monday and Wednesday.  On Mondays he will learn and play a variety of playground games and on Wednesdays he has soccer.  Otherwise, school was pretty normal for both boys.

This week Louisa started working for us.  She works 4 hours a week and does things like ironing. :)  I can't believe how much she can get done in the few hours she is here.  I certainly don't mind giving up some of the other chores, especially ironing!  I guess in all honesty I can't say I gave up ironing since I just didn't iron.

Thursday I went to a PTA meeting.  I'm not the kind of person who wants to be in charge of anything, but I certainly don't mind helping.  The first event we are going to have is a Fall Festival on November 1st.  Justin's school is an international one so they don't do Halloween.  This will be a nice substitute.  While I was there, Rob and the boys went across the street to help out the neighbors with their internet.  The boys met Skylar, a 13 year old girl who they think is totally awesome.  They can hardly wait for her to babysit them sometime.  Justin thinks Rob and I should go away for a few days.

Friday after school I had a meeting with Justin's teacher.  We are trying to come up with some ways to enrich the curriculum for him so that he isn't bored in school.  She is a great teacher and has a lot of ideas.  It is wonderful to have a teacher who seems to really "get" my child.  He spends so much of his day there so it is important to me that it not be a miserable experience for him.

After we got back from Justin's school, we got ready for the Embassy Hail and Farewell BBQ.  The boys were thrilled that Skylar was going to come over and then ride to the Embassy with us in our cab.  She played wii with them a bit and got to have them talk and cuddle with her all the way to the Embassy.

We were hailed even though we have been here awhile because we got here after the last Hail and Farewell.  The boys had fun on the playground and I always love getting out of cooking something for dinner.

J's teacher has the students doing raz-kids online and both Justin and Ryan are addicted to it.  They love to get online and read and take the quizzes so that they can earn points.  In fact, Saturday that is the first thing they wanted to do.

So into his quiz that he didn't even know I came in to take his pic.

Ryan is having fun reading a nursery rhyme.
Saturday was Armenian Independence Day and the country celebrated 22 years of independence from the former Soviet Union.  We went to Haghtanak Zbosaygi, which is also known as Victory Park.  Ryan got an Armenian flag painted on his face and an American flag on his hand.  Justin passed on the face painting though.

The park isn't too horribly attractive in my opinion.  There just isn't a lot of green.  There are a lot of statues and monuments to see.  There is a lot of open space and a great view of the city.  Somehow this isn't enough for me and it seems bleak.
Entrance to the park.

So tired of walking.  This was BEFORE he saw the rides.

Isn't Armenian writing interesting?

Mother Armenia statue

Once the boys saw that there was a section of the park with rides, their energy increased.  Justin was just about to die from all of our walking, but he made a miraculous recovery.  The boys went on the swings, the storm, and the baby ferris wheel.  They liked them so much that they decided to go on them all again rather than choose a new ride.

This is what I called the baby ferris wheel.  I didn't realize that in addition to going around
like a ferris wheel it also spun around the other way.  It was far from a baby ride and we weren't
sure Justin was enjoying it at first.

The ticket system for the rides seems a bit complex.  The rides cost between 50 cents and $1.25.  You have to buy a ticket for the rides rather than pay cash.  How you explain what ride you want is beyond me.  Perhaps you ask for tickets of various denominations, but I didn't see how that was marked on any of the tickets.  We really lucked out because most of the rides were free until 2:00 pm for children under 15.  For us the money wasn't a big deal, but it was great not to have to figure out how to pay.

At 2:00 we bought tickets for our family to go on the ferris wheel.  I found a ticket booth near the ferris wheel and pointed to the ferris wheel and our family.  I gave her some money and took the tickets and my change.  Seemed to work.  The boys were unimpressed with the ferris wheel.  It moved slow enough that you could get on and off without it having to be stopped.  Of course I wouldn't want to step off just anywhere so we waited until we were at the bottom. :)  We followed up our ferris wheel ride with ice cream and cotton candy.

Hopefully they were part of some sort of performance.

The boys didn't dare complain too much about our stop to Yerevan City to pick up a few items.  It was pretty crazy in the parking lot, but we managed to get there, buy our things, and return home with Justin only needing to remind Rob once not to use bad words.
Justin had a quick break at home before heading off to a party.  Ryan stayed here and enjoyed some extra time playing on the iPad.  It was a long day and unfortunately I got too much sun and I had to pay for it on Sunday. :(

Sunday, September 15, 2013

15 September 2013

This week we had decent internet.  Hurray!  It made my life a lot easier.  Ironically, I think I spent less time on the internet when it worked than when it did not.  When it was mostly not working, I spent a lot of time checking to see if it was working and trying to download things very s-l-o-w-l-y and multiple times.

Ryan and I continue to pick Justin up at school in the afternoon.  We leave a bit early so we can watch the frogs.  I am still having so much fun watching them, as is he.  We also go out with our cameras and a clipboard for ABC walks sometimes.  We are trying to get pictures of things that start with each letter of the alphabet.  I think we will be without a few letters, but we are having fun.  The weather has still been in the high 80s or low 90s during the day, but I know that soon it will change.
Ryan and I love to watch the frogs when we go on our walks.
 Grapes seem to be ripe now.  We pass by some houses in the neighborhood with grapes and they have more than they could possibly eat.  I wonder what they do with all of them or if some just spoil.  I was delighted to see that they are evidently ripe everywhere now and very tasty and cheap.  Better enjoy them while we can.  At least everyone in the family likes them.  With the plums, it was just me.
It is grape season!  Since these aren't ours, we bought some at the market.
They were only $1.25 a kilo!  They are small, but seedless and delicious.
Rob took Friday off of work because he has some comp time he needs to use before the end of the year.  It was nice to have him around and the boys gone.  We went to Yerevan City Supermarket downtown.  I would rave that it is the best supermarket I have been to here, but I realize that I have only been to Kaiser and to a small little market in the city.  I enjoy the convenience of being able to order online in English from SAS and having them deliver.  Yerevan City had a much wider selection and lower prices.  They also had some things that I haven't been able to find yet.  In the US we wouldn't consider it a particularly great store, but it is all relative.
That afternoon when I went to pick up Justin, Rob stayed home with Ryan.  Cyrus and his mom came over to see if Ryan could play.  Justin joined them when he and I got back.  Even more time without the boys.  It was so very quiet in our house.  It gave us some time to get ready for our dinner guests.
We had Elder and Sister Reese from church over for dinner.  It was nice to have them over and have time to talk a bit.  In church it can be hard to get to chat much sometimes.  Justin and Ryan were in heaven and treated them like adopted grandparents.  They loved the attention and we enjoyed being able to share an American meal with them.
On Saturday Rob had to work for just over an hour.  We chose to go with him and play out on the Embassy playground while he was working.  It is the only American style playground here so it is a special treat.  We drove into the city when he was done.  We decided to see the Cascades.  We parked by the Opera House in an underground lot.  The city has just started charging for street parking, but the tricky part is paying for it.  You can pay in advance at kiosks, if you know where they are.  You can also pay using your cell phone.  The problem is that our provider doesn't have that feature.  Some people have said that since we have red plates (diplomats) we would be okay.  I guess if we should ever need to park in pay parking and not find a way to pay, we can risk it.  The fine is about $12.50 US.  You can pay for parking by the hour, day, week, month, or year.  It is $5/month or $30 for a year so I guess if we think we will be parking on the street we can find a kiosk and splurge.  For now the underground opera lot is perfect for us.  It too is relatively inexpensive (under 50 cents an hour) and not in the sun since it is underground.  It also means you don't have to parallel park. :)

This is the Opera House in downtown Yerevan.  It has a great (and inexpensive!)
underground parking lot that I think will become our regular parking place.
It took us a few minutes to figure out where to go once we came out of the lot.  We wandered around the block until we saw it.  It wasn't like you could miss it once it was within sight.
Street signs?!  That is sadly not always common.
These have English too, a real plus.

The Cascades in Yerevan.  Would be prettier if they weren't
doing construction at the top.

Statue of someone who is probably important.

My boys. :)
The Cascades consists of many flights of stairs up the hill.  There are statues all along the way.  There is also an art gallery of some sort, but we opted to just check out the statues because the boys were not in the mood for walking around quietly and looking at "boring" things.  The really great thing about the Cascades is that there are escalators under the stairs.  We went in one of the little doorways and took escalators up.  Escalators are entertainment in and of themselves for our kids.  We did take the stairs down and look at the statutes on the various levels.

What could be better than a statue of a naked soldier of some sort?

City view from the Cascades

Mt Ararat would be great to see from here on a clear day.

No idea what they are still working on. 

I spotted a deux chevaux and it made me think of when I lived
in Brussels as a child.

After we were done walking around, we headed to KFC for a special lunch. Yes, KFC is a special treat here.  It isn't like there is a McDonald's, a Burger King, or Wendy's or anything.  There IS a Pizza Hut, but as was the case in China, Pizza Hut is a somewhat "fancy" restaurant compared to the US.  Maybe we will give it a try soon.  Something about American fast food can be comforting when we are overseas.  Plus it is something that the boys will eat without complaining.
We were able to make it home again without incident.  I tried using my phone to help with directions, but Google Maps was absolutely crazy!  When I got home I looked up the problem online and discovered that there was a mandatory update to the app.  I did the update and all is fine again.  It is a VERY helpful app in a place that has few street signs.  Sometimes seeing the street signs doesn't do much for me either because we drive past too far for me to try to match up the squiggles I see with what is on the map.
See what I mean?  Which KFC location would you choose and how would you know you were getting close?