Monday, January 31, 2011

When it rains it pours!

I was trying to think of something to write know, to start the week off with a new post.
Something inspirational, or something funny...
something serious or some photos..

Well, sometimes it just falls into your lap!

My shipment from Rio is finally coming tomorrow!
Well, tomorrow, my time...that would be Tuesday around lunch time...middle of the night for most of you in the USA.

I am having some walls painted today. I was not really expecting to have the shipment without any notice. (not that I am complaining! It just would have been nice to have some forewarning so that I could have painted a little earlier!)
But seriously, I do not care about wet walls or unfinished paint...
what I care about is that my "stuff" is finally here. My carpets, my kitchenware, our photo books, the kids games and toys, dolls, sheets and comforters, scrapbooking items to fill my time, paintings for my walls...

ah, I could go on and on, but let's just stop here. I will be back in a few days, once the chaos slows down a little...

Can you see my smile?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Poor Sammy

Who is Sammy?
Well, Sammy is my friend's big, black labrador.

Sammy was sick a couple of weeks ago. He started making a few wee's in the house overnight, which my friend said he has never done since he was a puppy. He wasn't eating too well either. They were concerned that something was wrong and called the local "veterinarian".
Quotation marks are there because a "vet" here is dodgy to put it mildly. They generally are afraid of dogs here because the Soviets used them for interrogations.
(or at least that's what someone told me!)

He gave Sammy some shots for what he believed was a bladder infection. Makes some sense actually... until Sammy started wobbling and not seeming right. It was maybe the high doses of medication the "vet" gave him.
Well, he started to perk up after the meds wore off, but then a big lump formed where the injections were given.

So, I accompanied my friend to another "veterinarian". Small little "Shop", where they sold a few leashes, a few toys and what seemed to be medications for various afflictions. These boxes at least had pictures of cats and dogs on them!
So, the "vet" was not there. She was working...huh? Isn't this her shop? Where the heck was she working?
Well, the assistant started talking to us in Russian. My friend understands a little, but this lady was rolling a mile a minute. She kept looking at us like we understood. We did get that we had to put a compression bandage on it...but of what, we had no clue.
My friend called the help desk of our company and passed the phone over...
What was outcome?

Cabbage. Yes, a compression bandage with cabbage.
Do I need to say more?

Monday, January 24, 2011


I have been a bit absent this past posts since last Monday?
Wow, where did that time go?

Well, it has been a fun week here. Last Sunday my husband and I went out onto the
Ural River...and walked on water! It was a little strange and a bit eery to be walking on a river.
You could see the thickness of the ice right through the top layer.
These were some cool bubble looking patches:

Here is one of the holes left by an ice fisherman. It amazes me how in this cold they can just sit there and fish!

Then, came the snow! My kids were so happy when they woke up Monday morning to a few inches of snow on the ground, and more flurries falling. Overall, my opinion is that we got about 6 seems like a lot! The kids have been ice skating and building snow forts. They have tried sledding down their little snow mounds...
such fun for them who have never really lived in snow.
Here are a couple shots of the falling flakes and Bella enjoying the snow:

and of course, last but certainly not least...

They just finished off their season with a home field win against the NY Jets.
Congratulations Steelers, and now:
Stairway to Seven!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Asian Winter Olympics

Today my family and a few of our friends families walked down the street to our husbands offices to see the carrying of the torch for the
They will be played from January 30th- Feb 6th.
They are being held this year here in Almaty and Astana, Kazakhstan.
They have most of the usual winter sports, but one that I didn't know. It is called Bandy, which seems to be a version of hockey only played with a ball in place of a puck.
Click on the links above if you are interested in finding out more about the games or bandy.

Here are some photos from the day:

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Here we come

Alarm set: 2:20 am
TV turned on: Thank you slingbox
First half: Uh-oh, but always keep the faith
Second: YES...I knew you could do it...
and as my Dad always says to me:
We had them right where we wanted them!

Steelers: 31
Ravens: 24

Onto the next round of the playoffs :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Maid Chronicle

My friend and fellow blogger, Gabriela, had a similar post some time ago...
sorry if I copied your title Gabs, but I thought that I would finally put in my two cents about my maids.

First there was Venezuela:

1. The first maid was found soon after arriving because of various social functions that I had to attend, and could not leave my 4 and 1 1/2 year old. She lasted a week.
One week....why?
The first time that I left my 1 1/2 year old daughter, she cried the whole entire time that I was away...which was only an hour and a half! The lady was bouncing her up and down as she was screaming in a fit when I got back home. Needless to say, I did not let her alone with them again, and she knew that by the time Friday came, that her services were no longer needed.
Really, it was quite easy to let her go, she understood, and even mentioned how she just couldn't take care of my little girl.
Mind you, my girl was (and still is) the easiest going, calm little one around!

2. The next maid seemed wonderful. And truthfully, she was for the first year or so that we had her. She came highly recommended from a lady who worked in the US Embassy, and even traveled with this lady when she took an assignment in Moldova. I got this maid when she returned from there, and felt so lucky!
She took to my little girl and my son right away. I felt comfortable leaving them with her. She cleaned, ironed and did most things very well. As time rolled on, she moved in with us, with her then 13 year old daughter. It was like having a built in big sister/babysitter.
They were fun to have around. We bought a little extra food for them and they generally stayed out of our business when the evenings came around, unless we all wanted to hang out together and chat or watch tv with the kids, etc...
Well, after about the 2nd year, she started slacking off around the house a bit. The she started to get picky about what gifts I was going to bring for them when I traveled to the US. Well, I should have listened to my ever wise husband and let her go then and there...but it was too hard. I was very accustomed to her and her daughter in my house. The kids were extremely comfortable with them, which made it easy to do things outside of the house. Then the guilty feelings set in also. I couldn't imagine who she would get a job with, seeing as very few expats were coming in to Venezuela then because of certain aspects of the company.
Well, by the time we left, I knew that I had made the wrong decision in keeping her. She wanted everything from me and gave nothing in return in the end. She criticized the gifts that I gave her, she didn't clean very well and they both had an attitude towards me that made me extremely uncomfortable (which is hard when they are in MY house!).
It was not the best good-bye, though we have spoken since then, and the coldness has worn off through the years.

Next we have Brasil:

1. I only had one maid in Brasil...
and yes, I should have let her go along the way also.
Once again, she came recommended from an acquaintance. She worked hard in the beginning and always had a smile on her face. She sometimes sang around the house and generally took good care of the house. She was wonderful with my animals. I left her with the animals instead of a kennel a few times when we traveled. She was sweet with the kids, too.
So what went wrong? Well, she just didn't clean very well. I am not a good task master. I do not like to always have to tell people what they need to be doing. I couldn't understnad why things were not clean...where the time went and still by the end of a long day, the house was still not clean. She started showing up late and leaving early. Again, ever wise husband said, find another lady...and me, feeling guilty for this sweet, smiling friend that I just couldn't deny helping out.

That's what it is feel so much for these people. they are there, working and trying to scrape by on the money we give them. I feel like I am helping them so much when I pay them, and they have the biggest smiles on their face. You know that you are helping them put food on their table.
But in the end, they need to do their job also.

She stayed with us through the end, and even took Coal, our dog that couldn't make the trip to Atyrau. She stayed smiling and was always a help with the animals. We parted on good terms, even if my house wasn't always the cleanest.

Come to the here and now: Kazakhstan:

1. Well, I have been here since the end of October. I hired a maid within a few weeks of arriving, and I have let her go.
Yes, I made the decision on my own that she was not living up to her end of the bargain
(read: lazy, not really cleaning, not sure she liked the animals nor took care of them too well the 4 weeks we were away, etc...). I was not going to get a relationship going any longer if I knew that I was not happy with her services...and remember, I do not even have any of my belongings yet! Imagine when my furniture and knick-knacks get here! What then?!
If she could not keep my animals happy, that was a big downer also. We plan on traveling quite a bit while we are here, and there are not any kennels. I need someone to love my Bella and Tiger close to how I do.

So, I am proud of myself. I finally was able to separate myself from a maid, and really not feel too awful about it. Cold? No, just a good boss of a job that is now mine, but at least it is how I like it!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The realities of Jet lag....

When one travels over 3 time zones, 4 days, and the dehydration that comes with flying...
how do you know "if" you are jet lagged?

You fall asleep after 3 minutes in a bathtub!
This is what happened to my son tonight.

We have traveled since Tuesday evening from Key West, arrived Friday evening to Atyrau, with ontime flights for the most part this time around.
We even spent a night in a hotel for a layover which helps a lot...

still, jet lag through all these time zones is a hard one to overcome, and tonight,
my son went in for a bath and fell asleep after 3 minutes...
snoring away!

At least we are back in our home without extra airline fees!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy Anniversary

I want to wish my husband a Happy 14th Anniversary.

You and I have so much excitement, adventure and pure love for one another.
I hope that our life continues to move forward as it has these past 14 years.
I love you and I love us!

My new Macro

My husband surprised me with a new macro lens that I have been wanting for my camera.
Here are some first shots that I took...

I love this lens! I enjoy looking at objects closely and trying to capture what I find fascinating.
Hope that you all had a festive New Year's Eve and that 2011 brings us all much happiness!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

I would like to wish you and your families a wonderful 2011!
From our piece of paradise

Happy New Year!!