Thursday, August 30, 2012

It's (almost) Fall!

Kristen says...

I was out walking Pip this morning (oh to have a backyard!) and in-between bouts of grumbling I took the time to revel in the fact that my feet were crunching dead leaves and I felt comfortable (rather than overly warm) in my long pants and hoodie...and I realized, it is (almost) FALL!

After two years of the tropics I am so happy to have fall back!

Fall has always been my favorite time of the year:
-Cooler weather!
-Pretty colors!
-My birthday! ;)

Honduras was a beautiful country, but it didn't have the change of seasons that I was used to in Iowa. And, since we were in Honduras to follow the school calendar, and since there isn't much time off in the fall, I have been missing my favorite season for the past two years (except for that whole going home for Homecoming thing last year, which was AWESOME and fun, but really short).

So the weather is a little cooler, the leaves are starting to fall, and tonight we are gong to watch a high school football game! I am used to Friday night lights in Iowa, but I have been doing research and found that the local teams play on Thursdays Chris and I have decided to "adopt" one of the local teams and go to all their!

Sorry I don't have some nice fall photos for you...maybe next time! :)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

End of August Musings

Kristen says...

Chris and I finally admitted it the other day...we miss Honduras.

We have talked about how we miss the weather, the food, the apartment, the people... (but not the traffic). For myself, I really miss my school...

And while we really love DCland too, I am finding myself at a loss lately to know what I should be doing with my time.

I am currently in the middle of reading no less than 5 books; 1 on my Kindle, one on my iPod, and three paperbacks. I have another book that I probably should be reading as it is due back to the library soon.

I baked bread and cookies last week, but haven't made a real meal since our first week in DC.

Our house is unusually orderly (although probably still more cluttered than yours) and I have run both the dishwasher and the clothes washer this weekend, something I would normally put off until it became an essential in the middle of the week.

I can't seem to settle into tatting, watching a movie, or even blogging without making a plan and thinking about it for way too long a time. These are three things that I traditionally really enjoy doing.

I think my problem is that, with the exception of the past two years when I started work on Aug 1, for the 22 years before that, school started when the Fair ended. This year...

I Miss Teaching.

I miss planning. I miss posting to my school blog and turning in my lesson plans. I miss checking papers (really). I miss the intellectual stimulation of knowing that I need to 1) organize my curriculum 2) review what I know about the subject 3) learn more about it and then 4) figure out how best to enable my students to learn part or all of what I know or have learned. I (almost) miss having to get up in the morning at a certain time, and I really miss my daily interactions with other teachers and my students.

That's not to say I am unhappy. I have Chris and my puppy, I am exercising at least three times a week (yoga!), I can WALK AROUND THE NEIGHBORHOOD and the city, I can go to museums and the library, I eat fantastic food, I am seeing friends and family...

But I think I am a little bored. And I miss hoo, right? Silly me, complaining about not having to work...

At least Russian lessons start next week...for sure once those start I will at least be intellectually stimulated again, which is something my brain is craving. Hopefully I will be able to throw myself into that enough that I will have "mental direction" again...

I'll let you know how it goes... :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I got to go to the Iowa State Fair!!

Kristen says...


For the past two weeks I have been in Iowa visiting the Iowa State Fair (first time in 3 years!!) and seeing my little brother get married and quite often wishing I had the ability to update my blog like I do my Facebook...only this evening did it pop into my head to get a Blogger app! Yay!

So hopefully I will be able to update this a bit more often!

As I said, I decamped from the DC area for a few weeks because I've been promising myself that if I were in the continental US I would go to the Iowa State Fair, no matter what. I've talked about the Fair before but have not been since the blog was started, which is a MAJOR bummer because I LOVE the Fair!

I mean, who wouldn't with great stuff like this:
Chocolate-dipped chocolate chip cookie dough on a stick!

My nephew AND a Fair Square!

A chocolate moose!

A huge pumpkin!

Cotton candy!
A red ribbon!

Weird vegetables!

Cast your kernel for the president!
And more! There is also horseshoe throwing, a cow made of butter, big pigs, cows, and rams, baby animals being born, acres of campers, 57 foods on a stick, basically anything you can think of is at the Fair!!! I went 6 of the 10 days and REALLY enjoyed myself. It is one of the 1000 Things to See Before You Die...  :)

Chris was not able to join me at the Fair because he had classes (sniff), but he did fly out to Omaha and then drive 6 hours to join me for my brother Timothy's wedding! My whole family went to Valentine, Nebraska to celebrate the occasion.
This was the view from my seat at the ceremony

Cutest ring bearers EVER!!

Katie and Timothy!

I missed Chris!

My entire family!
 It was a great two weeks, but it's nice to be back in DCland and back to focusing on our upcoming adventure! I start Russian language classes in just a few weeks!


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Russian Language Worries

Kristen says...

I think learning Russian is going to be harder than learning Spanish.

This is seemingly random thought has been going through my head a lot lately as I've been watching the Olympics and listening between the English commentators to try to catch the Russians talking to each other.

I took two years of Spanish in junior high/high school and knew the few special characters (ñ, anyone?) before we moved to Honduras, so I was able to skip the alphabet section of Rosetta Stone and move straight on to the "real" learning...I also had a basic understanding of the verb tenses and a pretty good smattering of vocabulary, so it wasn't too long before I picked up most of what I needed to know to survive.

Russian, on the other hand, looks to be harder.

The other day I did Rosetta Stone's free Russian demo, and, oh boy was my confidence shattered.

For one thing, much the alphabet is SO different! I took a semester of Japanese in college so I "get" the different characters thing, but the Japanese symbols were like pictures to me, and I could use them to remember what sound went with which "picture." Russian's Cyrillic doesn't look like pictures to me, at first glance it looks like my alphabet was put up to a mirror which is underwater and being projected onto a wavy white looks like something I should know but that just doesn't make sense in my brain...

Here is a link to the Russian Cyrillic alphabet. See what I mean? Some of the letters look "right", but then there are the ones that look so different. And I think it will be hard to remember how to pronounce the ones that look the same as our letters, but sound different...

I found this website with this image, something I think I will be referring to often:
I did not create this image. It is the property of:
A second thing that concerns me is the length of the words. Someone told us that we will pick up the alphabet in 3 days, but getting used to really long words will take longer. I have been noticing the penchant for length as I've been paying more attention to the Russian athletes in the Olympics, and many of their names are 4 syllables or will be a challenge.

Not that I'm not up for the challenge...quite the opposite, in fact.

I'm not teaching or subbing while I'm in DC, so I need something to fill my time (besides museum-hopping, of course!) I've been enrolled in a two-month Russian language course and as long as an actual employee doesn't need in, I am really looking forward to getting into the classroom. And of course, like we did in Honduras, we will probably get a tutor once we get to Russia...

Still. It's going to be tough.

But I am excited!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

I don't know if you noticed, but we have a new name...

Kristen says...

Well hello!

I know, I know, it's been a while.

But honestly, we've been a little busy.

Just over two weeks ago we were given a list of cities and countries that had an Embassy, Consulate, or Consulate General that needed someone with Chris' abilities/job specialty. It was a GREAT list of 14 countries, and we would have been happy to go to (almost) all the places.

Last Tuesday we ranked the countries high-medium-low and 1-14 and sent it off to the powers that be...

And this Tuesday we went to Chris' flag day ceremony, which was the ceremony at which we found out where our next adventure would be...

Here's Chris' flag...

We are VERY excited to be heading out to Vladivostok, Russia!

From the research we've done, it looks like a very nice, hilly city with all four seasons (and VERY cold winters) on the far Eastern side of the country. After the tropical heat of Honduras, I am looking forward to the snow, although ask me again when we get there. :)

I'm also very excited that I will get to learn another language...hopefully I will be able to start Russian language classes sometime next month.

Besides the time we've spent researching Russia, we've also been enjoying the DC-area.

We have been eating food we've missed the past two years (Indian, YUM!)...

...and rented some bikes to ride around and see some of our favorite monuments

It's really nice to be here...

And of course, I have been spending every prime time watching the OLYMPICS!!! We have our tickets here with us, and yesterday would have been an AWESOME day to have been there, as we would have watched a US fencer win the gold, BUT, here's the consolation prize: the 2014 Winter Olympics are in Sochi...RUSSIA! :-D