Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

It was certainly a fun filled evening here last night.
My kids got to go trick or treating, for to house, pillow cases in hand and really receiving more sweets and treats than any dentist could be more thrilled about!

They then went and exchanged candy for silly bands and for other favorite candies, watched a Halloween movie and were so excited all the way back to the house!
So, whether you celebrated yesterday, or are getting ready for tonight, have a

Happy Spooky Halloween!

Friday, October 29, 2010


The sunrise this morning was beautiful over the Ural River.
The sky appeared as if it was on fire!

Hope you all have a good weekend!

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I probably should think about changing my closet a little...
now, don't worry Honey, I am not going out and buying a whole new wardrobe, but...
black and tights/leggings are definitely the norm on the street.

I usually wear bright colors from living in Rio, but felt a bit awkward today, when I went out.
First of all, I should mention that I went out for the first time by myself today.
I called the driver company that works for us here, they came and picked me up, and took me to where I needed to go.
I was in my rose pink track suit...
boy, did I stick out like a sore thumb.
The good thing is that I did go to a new grocery store that I liked a lot. It reminded me of one in the US really...not as many choices or different products than the other stores here, but just bigger aisles and very clean.

Food is tricky, well...everything is tricky since this is the first foreign country that I have lived in where I do not understand the labels! I wish that I knew how to spell "salt" in Russian or Kazakh. I really prefer salted butter. There is an English type here but I can only find the "unsalted" variety!

Oh well...I will keep trying new things!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Lunch, the old fashioned way

I remember when I was in grade school, my Grandma came to pick me up every Wednesday for lunch. We used to go to a really close restaurant called the Point View.
It is such a special memory that I still hold onto today.

Today, my children came home for lunch, as they will every day while we live here. It was nice to see them, hear about their day and their new friends, teachers and subjects. It was really good to see what they are actually eating for lunch.
Plus, since they ate fairly quickly, we got to finish our game of Yahtzee!

Change can be good...

Saturday, October 23, 2010


It is a word that has much meaning in our lives and in our society...

for me and my family right now, it is the pure joy in my children's voices.

"Mom, she's here!"
"Mom, I'm going out for a walk to see who is out in the neighborhood so that we can play"

They had this when they were very young, but for the last 8 years, it has been a task to call and make a "date" with their little friends, find them a ride or drive them there ourselves, and then going back for them, or having someone pick up their child from our house.

Now, it seems like they are little birds that have just found their wings and
are already experts at flight!
It makes it so enjoyable to be here.

Friday, October 22, 2010

I'm here..and with internet and a working blog!! (and of course a few airport stories!)

Yes, the blog works!
I guess that temporary residence we stayed in the last time we came didn't have the same set up as you can get personally.

So, the internet man came this morning, hooked me up, and here we are!

So, yesterday went fairly smoothly but there is always an airport story, right?!
Leaving Rio was challenging. We had to go from Rio-Sao Paulo-Amsterdam-Atyrau.
We needed to collect our bags in Sao Paulo, so that KLM could send them striaght through to Atyrau, since our connection was only 45 minutes in Amsterdam.
Well, the local Brasilian airline didn't want to do that. They said the travel agent didn't book the flight right and that they had to send the bags to Amsterdam.

Well, after much discussion with supervisors, my husband and the travel agent, they finally decided that they could do that. Luckily we made the plane on time, were able to pick up our bags in Sao Paulo and be on our way.

The flights were fairly non eventful. My kids (and me!) loved traveling in business class. It makes such a difference on the long haul flights. the flight from Sao Paulo to Amsterdam took 11 hours...and being able to lay your seat almost flat is amazing!

The 45 minute stop was not a problem as I was worried it would be. The gates were fairly close, and we made it without too much effort.
When we land in Atyrau, everything went smoothly with the passports and visas, but we were missing 4 out of 5 bags.

I guess the 45 minute layover wasn't enough for them! So, we had to wait in line (several people were missing their luggage actually) and fill out a form. We should get them on tonight's flight....but we shall see.

So here are a few photos of the house we have...
my daughter is still sleeping (it's almost noon here!), and my son is out playing nerf gun battles with some new should be good here. I'm excited...I just hope that the month without my husband goes by quickly!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

So long, farewell...

The house is packed, the boxes loaded and ready to move on...
just as I am. Tomorrow starts a long journey, a new adventure.

It is hard to say good bye twice, but I know that those that I really care about, I will see again, which is comforting.
So, me and the kids are off! My husband will join us in about a month....
the animals, well, that chapter still is to be written!

As I said before, I'm not sure if I can work out my blog in Atyrau; so if you don't hear from me for awhile, I promise to be back. I will work on it as soon as I have a chance!

As they say in Russian:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

In the middle of it all

As promised...
here are a couple of shots of the packers doing their thing...

The first day seemed to go well, the second seemed that brought about their bringing 3 extra people on Friday! It went quicker, but to me, there is still a lot to go.
I realized how much "stuff" we had as I keep seeing them pack, and pack, and pack...

Friday they also loaded a truck with what they had inventoried so far...
It is a bit trickier because we have things going to 2 different spots...
most of the "stuff" inside of all the furniture is going with us to Atyrau; while the furniture itself, and a few bits and pieces that we want for the Key West house, is going to the US.

I think it should work out well...I guess I'll let you know in about 3 months.
Yep, that's the estimated time it takes to receive your's hard thinking of what to pack when you know you won't see any of it for a long time.
Mostly we took only what we think we will need...
you know those weight limitations on suitcases kill world travelers like us!

Anyways, they will finish up next Monday and Tuesday, and then the kids and I are off to our new adventure! My husband and animals will join us a little later...which will be hard, but hopefully the time will pass by quickly.

More to come on the move next week! Hope you are having a good weekend!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

One amazing story and others

Are you watching the rescue of the miners in Chile?
I find it amazing that they have been so successful in their mission.
May God bless them and their families and help them through the aftermath of their ordeal!
Every man that comes out brings tears to my eyes...

We start packing today...I will try to snap some pictures and report tonight.

A sad part of our transition is having to say good bye to our older dog Coal yesterday. He is going to a loving home with my maid. Coal really loves her and the reality of the situation is that it would have been a very difficult trip for him. Plus, being 10 years old and trying to deal with the harsh winters of Atyrau may have been too much for him. So we made the tough decision to leave him here. It was a teary farewell but one I feel is best for him, which should always be most important when caring for an animal.
(This is not the best photo, but it seems it is the only one I can find right now)

Monday, October 11, 2010


You know, when I was at the hair dresser on Wednesday, it went too smoothly.
I went in and was out in about 3 hours, fairly normal.
I felt chicken that I didn't get my hair short right then and there...but now, I realize it was the better decision.
I went home, found the hair cut from that I wanted, with photo angles from front, side and back, and now felt more confident by Saturday.

So, I made the appointment right after one of my good friends here had her appointment.
She was scheduled for for 7. Except, where did I wake up today?
Right, the land of the perpetually late hair dresser.
My friend had to wait until 4, because he had her scheduled for 4. So I went to keep her company before my cut (secretly hoping he could cut mine while she was having hair coloring processed) but at time so he could take his time. Fair enough...
except that she didn't start her appointment until almost 5. So, I left and had dinner with my family and went back...
around 9 we finally started on my cut.

I was not worried in the least, so it must have been better for me to wait until I was really sure that was what I wanted. I really like it!! It feels different. I like to change my hair and it is really changed!
Here I am:

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Houses, hair and hectic

That pretty much sums up my life right now!

I had my hair done yesterday by my favorite hair dresser here.
There is always drama with him, but he gives a good cut.
The problem yesterday was me...not the time (for a change!)
Remember last time it took 6 hours? Well it only took 3 yesterday...and really, the first 1/2 hour we were chatting the whole time!

So, the debate yesterday was do I go for a complete change and cut it short. I mean SHORT!
Well, I chickened out...but he offered me a free cut if I decide to do it before I leave in a couple of weeks. I keep looking at photos of Michelle Williams new hair can google it, and I think I'm going to do it!

See, my philosophy on hair is that it grows! When I was a dancer I couldn't cut my hair. I had to have it long...and well, ever since I stopped dancing 12 years ago,
I have always changed my hair.
I have had it short before and liked it....
I have had it long and liked it...
right now, I have had my hair long for quite some time. I know it looks pretty...
everyone tells me how pretty it is.
For me, it is not about pretty. Pretty comes from the inside, and I think I still "look pretty" with my hair short or long.
What I want is a change I think. I'm tired of blow drying it the same way every time.
I know short hair has a lot of upkeep, but I am ok with that.
Anyways, the decision isn't made yet...but it is certainly looking like a short do is in store for me! (and if I do it, I will take a picture and break my rule of no personal photos on my blog!)

My friend Carol asked about packing...
yes, it has started. I technically do not have to pack anything except my personal belongings.
I do need to start putting Post-it notes on where items are going though. Most of our belongings will come with us, but quite a bit of the big pieces are going to storage in the US.
The air shipment was packed on Monday. No food allowed, not even cat/dog food.
Uh-oh...looks like it will be some home cooked meals for the animals too!
It went smoothly though, and it should be on it's way to meet us there!
The sea shipment starts next week. Wish me luck with separating what goes where and making the gentleman understand all of it!

and finally...we found out which townhouse will be ours!

This was much anticipated news because there was a small debate going on.
(I will spare you the details!)
We are having a townhouse that overlooks the Ural River. I am very excited about this because it allows us some more privacy in our back yard. Plus, it is at the far end of the camp...which means I will feel like I can "get away" at least a little bit. Also, it will allow me some great pictures (I hope!) of the Ural River, especially once it freezes over completely!

Things are going well!!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Only in Paris:
Pink toilet seat covers in the ladies bathroom!

Monday, October 4, 2010

The New Adventure (long post, but please read it all!)

On to finishing the pre-assignment visit...
So, after the extra two days in Amsterdam, we finally get to Atyrau. The flight is fairly simple, only about 5 hours (that means some great travel for future reference ;) )

The airport reminded me so much of when we lived in Maracaibo, Venezuela. It was small with only two stations open for checking passports and getting your bags, etc...
no carts to haul all that extra luggage we took. It was pretty funny to see my husband and I running back forth with the bags that we could carry!
I can't imagine going there the next time...
picture: myself, two kids, 3 suitcases (big), 3 carry-ons (small) and a dog and cat.
How about we do not even go there yet, ok?
(breath, om, going to my happy place, breath)

We were greeted by a few fellow colleagues of my husband and taken to the camp. It is close to the airport so that was good seeing as we were tired from all of our journey.
We stayed in the guest house, which was similar to a hotel, but much more comfortable. The ladies from the camp, who are wives of the men my husband will be working with, had put in a lovely basket filled with goodies and fruits, water and pops in the was a nice welcome seeing as we were tired and just wanted to relax for the evening to get ready for the next day.

The next day came and I was greeted by 3 ladies that were a sort of welcome committee for me. They took me around to the different grocery stores and even a flower shop! Boy, how did they know I needed to see that flower shop?!
I thought it funny, though, that they took me to about 4 different grocery stores, but I really found them all to generally have the same things! I wanted to tell them that I am used to this kind of shopping after living overseas almost 8 years now, and that most sights that they thought might take some getting used to, do not surprise me. I wanted to tell them that it is ok with how the meat and fish look in the cases...
how can it not look ok to least they were in semi refrigerated cases...
I mean, I usually buy my chicken and fish off a street vendor, yep...all out in the open!
They were quite generous with their time and their advice, so I just let them lead me around.
We had an afternoon tea where I was introduced to a few more ladies.

Truthfully, I think living on a camp will be the hardest felt by me. I think our children will relish in the freedom of walking/biking/scootering to school and friend's houses. I think my husband will still get up and go to work like anywhere...but for me, well, it will be different and probably take some adjusting of being around the same people every day, all day.
I will stick to my routine, though...and they have a beautiful "club" on the camp to help me do that. There is an indoor lap pool (YEA!!!!!) and an outdoor pool, as well (weather permitting obviously!). They have 2 nice indoor hard court tennis courts, a workout room, small library, restaurant and social area. It seems like life will work itself out there, and I will find my way. I always do!

The housing is quite nice. Though we are not sure which townhouse we are actually moving into, it really does not matter much. They are all exactly the same, so we are waiting for a final decision on which one it will be.

The school was great. It is quite small with combining of classes, but it was really well presented. The headmaster was very informative, honest and gave it to us as we liked it...straight forward! We heard of the benefits, like opportunity for specialized attention due to the small class sizes, to the faults, like the language program. At least this way we know what we are headed into...we already bought the Rosetta Stone French Course 1 for our son that is loving learning the French language this year! (His 12th birthday is this Tuesday by the way!)

All in all, I think this will be a great opportunity for our kids and for some great travel. I am trying not to get too overwhelmed by the "fish bowl" effect of living on a camp where everyone wants to know your business. I have my plan set in motion. I know what I want to get out of this experience, and though I am always open to changing my plan, I will stick to it and have fun in the process.
There are going to be some great travels from here!

Now, can anyone tell me how to continue blogging in a country that I believe blocks blogger? :(
Yes folks, that is a big downside...I tried to blog there, but I couldn't open my page! So, if anyone has any tips, please pass them along! I don't want to update everyone only every 6 months?! I promise to figure out a way once I get there...

but look for more crazy packing stories coming up! It all starts tomorrow with packing the air shipment! Off I go to organize! (Agh, I could use you right now Gabriela!!)