Thursday, May 26, 2011

I feel like Pigpen

The weather has turned into a beautiful, hot spring/summer. The sun is shining brightly almost every day. And the days are long here...
the sun rises before 6 am and sets after 9 pm!

The peonies are blooming right now and their fragrance is intoxicating. Sometimes I just stop by the bush and smell the air...except when I feel like this:

Why do I feel like Pigpen? Well, the bugs are swarming around me! My daughter went on a walk with me tonight to get Bella some exercise...but she ran home half way because the little gnats and mosquitos are horrible right now.
The company was spraying twice a day, but supposedly the spray was toxic chemicals that have been banned in the US and the UK, except for agricultural use.
Well...when I swam this morning I felt like I was breathing them in with every breath..
when I walked this evening they were literally like the picture above...
when we sit by the pool to supervise the children they are landing on us..
our faces, arms eyes, ears...

counting the days until Key West

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Catching up...

Feels like ages since I've written here!

I have been busy with enjoying the beautiful weather we are having in Atyrau.
The sun is warm and so bright, while the air remains just a bit cool and crisp.
It is perfect weather for swimming in the newly opened outdoor pool...
and of course, trying to capture the breath that Spring breathes into the trees and flowers.

We have the mini triathlon for our children through their school this coming weekend.
We are also on a countdown to summer break...just two more weeks!

I have been learning how to make bread

using the best Christmas present: a Kitchenaid stand mixer. It is the machine to have in the kitchen, in my opinion! Thanks to my husband who believed in me and my cooking! We are going to try to make homemade pasta once our pasta set arrives for the mixer!
(ok, my husband bought me a beautiful pair of earrings spontaneously while we were getting a watch repaired at Christmas also...I'm not sure which I truly like better :) He spoils me!)

Hopefully once we are settled again in our home in Key West, I will have more time to blog...
can't wait to get there and enjoy the new additions:
(more photos coming once I am there!)
until then, I will try to write as often as I have time for!

Hope you are all enjoying your own sunshine :)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

That's what friends are for...

Friends are such a wonderful part of our lives.
Yesterday a friend of mine from our time in Rio called me on Skype...
for those of you unfamiliar with Skype, this is a fabulous program that keeps us that live so far away in foreign countries connected to our family and friends in other parts of the world.
You sign up on your computer, and it is free for the most part. If you connect computer to computer, the calls are completely free. On computers, we can also see each other with either the built in camera or the attached camera too!
We also have a dedicated phone number that has the same area code as where our families are in the US. This phone number costs, but at a minimal charge per yea. Iit saves us way more money than if we had to actually dial direct from a place like Kazakhstan!

Ok, so my point of this post was not about Skype, but rather about friends...
so this friend called me on Skype. We stay in touch but have not called each other in a while. She now lives back in Houston.
She and I have a unique friendship in that we really find the right words to help each other through certain situations. She helped me so much yesterday with a few struggles that I am having with living in a fish bowl brings that I feel renewed living here today.

We talked about how when you make friends overseas, we make them quicker. I believe the reasoning for this is because you never know when someone could prove to be a really good friend, and that they may leave quicker than you hoped. So we delve into our friendships at a rather quick pace overseas to get to know each other. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't. What matters most to me is how true they are. I really do not like superficial, on the surface friendships. As I get older, I just feel like I have no time for them. I mean, obviously there are people that I see on camp that I am friendly with, but not hang out with all the time. Those are fine needs them. The true friendships are the ones I crave, though.

Thanks my friend, you know who you are. I am so thankful that you skyped me last night, and that we had the conversation that we did. I look forward to visiting with you sometime soon!

You can't pick your family, but you can pick your friends...and I picked well when I found you!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

#7 Amsterdam, the final trip post

It seems as if these posts have gone on longer than I expected...
I know some of my followers may be bored with my travels, but there is so much of the world that interests me. I find the places that we travel so interesting. I want to share that with all of you, and hope that this comes across in my posts...not just me babbling about another place!

Therefore, this will be my last post on our European trip. Our last stop was Amsterdam.
This is my 3rd time to Amsterdam, and I have always thoroughly enjoyed it.
The people are a diverse mix of cultures. The native Dutch have always been so friendly and helpful, such as the lady that heard us speaking in English while walking through a shopping center. She suggested to us to go to the top floor restaurant, even if we do not care to eat...just for the view...and wow, what a view! The rooftops, canals and architecture are so interesting. (some of these pics are not from the rooftop view from the restaurant, which by the way, we did eat in! It was delicious!)

There is always a beat to the streets of Amsterdam. I feel as if everyone is always on permanent they stroll along the cobbled streets and walk, arms linked taking in all the sights. Boy, there certainly are sights (and smells) in Amsterdam...those of which we didn't partake in this trip since our children were with us... Sometimes you just can't help walking past some of the more...hhmmm, shall we say extreme storefronts with hhhmmm...interesting smells wafting out onto the sidewalks! I enjoyed all the bicycles and how eco-friendly the city is...though there are cars parked in every sidewalk inch available. I read that there is actually a worry with how many bikes traverse the roads due to pedestrian and car accidents with them!
My daughter and I visited the Anne Frank House. This is the house where Anne and her family, as well as another family, hid from the Nazis. This is a compelling place that draws me into the whole tragedy so immensely. I cry every time I see the rooms, which Anne's Father, Otto, the only survivor of her family, wanted it. He asked that they be left as the Nazis left them...bare. There are scaled models of the rooms with the furniture as her Father remembered them so that you get a feel of how they lived. But they are bare...which gives me an eerie feeling walking through. You can almost hear the voices that had to be so quiet at certain times of the day...and the black out curtains that made such an impression on my daughter.
It is always good to see our past and try to learn from the horrible mistakes, tough as it is to take. I am proud of our daughter for wanting to learn about Anne and her story. I do not have pictures not only because they ask you not to take them, but also out of respect for the family. I would feel wrong trying to depict it is a place to experience only in person.

We stayed in a lovely bed and breakfast, The Posthoorn, run by a French man. He took over the business a year earlier when his corporate job got to be too much and his wife and 3 children needed more room. The room was large, bright and comfortable. The breakfasts were always fresh and delivered when we asked. The basket pictured below had the freshest baked breads. I think for Amsterdam, a B&B is the best way to go! For us, The Posthoorn fit the bill perfectly!

My favorite day was traveling to The Keukenhof Gardens. This is where the amazing tulip fields are located, outside of Amsterdam. I had a field day (pardon the pun) with the beautiful flowers just starting to bloom. We were there just a few days after the opening so the flowers were not fully out, but spring had definitely sprung! The hothouse was filled with more types of tulips than I even knew was so colorful and exotic. It was a wonderful day for me and the family enjoyed it too!

Enjoy the pictures, and thank you for joining me on re-living our family's journey through parts of Europe!