Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy 5th Birthday, Adam!

Adam turned 5 this week!  He had a very eventful week.  He started off by getting a black eye two days before his birthday!  He was jumping on my neighbor's sofa and fell and hit his eye on a table behind the sofa.  By the next morning, it was completely swollen shut and black and blue.  Poor thing, and right before his birthday!  He had a party at school in his classroom, and we had a big party on Saturday at a mini-golf place near our house.  The kids ate pizza, cake and played was a great party!

He was very excited about taking cupcakes to school on his birthday
you can almost see his shiner

5 years old!

Shane and Adam playing mini-golf

Adam hitting some balls

Pizza party!

Adam's cake

Playing mini-golf

All the kids

Make a wish!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Where Are We???

The City Mall has been under construction for a long time, and now it is finally open.  The only stores open are a supermarket, a Christmas shop, and a few cell phone stores.  There are going to be more stores added, but for now we are happy with the supermarket.  The number one thing it has going for it?  It's location.  It is only located about 15 minutes away from Olympia, which is much more convenient than going all the way into town, which can take up to 40 minutes.  It is also enormous in comparison to all the other shops here.  And the shopping carts are "regular" sized....and not the Walgreens minis that we find at the other stores in town.  I know that this may not seem like much, but to us, it's a lot.  I felt like I wasn't even in Yuzhno anymore....

The City Mall

It is HUGE!

They even have carts for kids

It looks like a real supermarket!

Winter is Here!

It's heeere....the beginning of Winter, the longest season in Sakhalin.  Adam was so excited to see snow again!  It is so beautiful when it snows.  I took some pictures of our first snow of the season....

Adam at School

I chaperoned a school field trip to a market in town a few weeks ago.  I had about an hour to kill between morning drop-off and the departure time, so the teachers asked me to come in and watch the class.  The kids have circle time first and talk about the day of the week, that day's weather, and the day's activities.  After that, they had some free play, so I decided to take some pictures.  Here they are:

Sakhalin Bonfire

The 2nd Annual Sakhalin Bonfire was lit on November 7.  The guys in charge of it worked for several weeks to get all of the wood cut and the bonfire built.  The bonfire was a mini-replica of the Texas A&M Aggie Bonfire, but since Olympia is such a diverse community, it was set up to include everyone.  A few of the ladies painted the outhouse, which goes on the top of the stack.  It had all of the college and university logos from our community painted on it.  Here are some pictures:

The bonfire stack

Adam and the fire

All lit up

Amanda and Adam

Family pic....don't you just love Adam's face?

All the Aggies with an Exxon Neftegas sign

Another picture of it lit up


This year, Halloween in Yuzhno came both early and late.  Our camp held a Halloween/Fall Carnival for the kids 2 weeks before Halloween.  We couldn't hold it on Halloween because there were many people that were going to be away from Sakhalin.  Halloween fell on the weekend before the mid-term break at the school, which is when many families take vacations.

Just like last year, we invited the kids from the Zima camp to join us in our celebrations.   Adam dressed up as an astronaut, or since we are in Russia, a cosmonaut!  Our little temporary community center was packed!  There were many games for the kids to play and there was also a HUGE bouncy house.  It took up almost 1/3 of the building!  After the carnival, the kids went around Olympia to trick-or-treat.

My little cosmonaut

The huge bouncy house

Playing games at the carnival

Playing a golf game

Costume parade


My tired boys

The adults celebrated Hallween a few weeks late.  On Friday, November 13th (a good substitution for the Halloween party), we went to a costume party at on of our neighbor's houses.  Everyone was dressed up, and it was fun seeing our friends in their costumes.  Shane found a Zorro cape and mask, but couldn't find a hat, so he wore a bandana and Aerosmith shirt and called himself "Zorrosmith".  I went as his groupie....and yes, I know I look ridiculous in a black wig!

Posing for pictures with some of the girls

Shane with some of the guys

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Flooding Fun

At 4:45 AM last Tuesday morning, our fire alarm went off.  Shane and I flew out of bed, searching for a fire.  We didn't find one....instead, we found a flood.  On coming down the stairs, I heard the sound of water rushing.  It was ice cold and about ankle deep.  Shane found the source (a hose under the laundry room sink) and turned off the valve to stop the flow of water.  I called the emergency number, and within minutes, we had numerous people in the house to check it out and begin the clean-up process.  I was very pleased with their response time, and the fact that I wasn't the one to have to clean it up, find a plumber, carpenter, etc.  Just one of the great things about living in company-provided housing!

They determined that the carpet would need to be replaced, along with the laminate flooring in the kitchen and laundry room.  But first, all the sub-flooring had to dry out.  They finally began installing carpeting and flooring on Monday, but as of today (Wednesday), they are still not done.  I am just ready to have my house back, so the longer it takes, the more impatient I become.  I am hopeful that tomorrow will be their last day, and I can get all of this furniture out of my living room!

Some pictures:

Carpet and pad after the flood

Drying out the plywood sub-floor

Drying out my rugs :(

More Fall Pictures

The Fall season is so pretty here.  I just love all the colors.  So far, I really have enjoyed all of the seasons here (yes, including winter) except for Spring.  The whole thawing out process is really, really wet, dirty and cold, and just not fun at all.   I am ready for the snow to arrive, but in the meantime, we are happy to  enjoy the changing colors and beautiful scenery.

Pony Rides

A little girl in our compound turned 2 a few weekends ago, and she had pony rides at her birthday party.  Another woman that lives out here knows someone from the zoo or something, so they were able to get ponies out here for the kids to ride.  Much to our surprise, Adam agreed to ride on it....but only after a bit of coaxing.  He wasn't really keen on it when he found out I wasn't going with him, but he did just fine.

School Days

Adam is now in Primary 1 at the Sakhalin International School in Yuzhno.  This is the same thing as Pre-K in the USA.  He really enjoys school and loves his teachers.  This year, they are teaching the class to read with a phonics program.  He is learning sounds and letters in order of frequency (S, A, T, I, etc.) as apposed to A, B, C, D, etc.  From that, they are learning high frequency words and starting to make sentences with those words.  He knows about 20-30 words so far (documented by the school), but when we read at night or he sees something that he recognizes, he will let us know and show us how to sound it out.  It is really fascinating to watch him learn to read.  He is also learning Russian at school and now knows more than his Daddy!

Practicing his T's

Showing me one of his "high frequency" words

Some more of his school activities:


Family portrait (does my hair really look like that?)

I also took a picture of a map that they had put up representing all nationalities of the students that attend the school.  I knew there were a lot of them, but I didn't realize just how many different cultures and countries that are represented there.  

Right side

Map with all the different ways to say "hello"

Left side