Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Something I Might Never Get Used To


How many pairs of shoes does your child need for school? My kids need a minimum of three. Outside shoes, inside shoes, and PE shoes. The PE shoes and the inside shoes stay at school and every morning they change from their outside shoes into their inside shoes. 

Now, this totally makes sense to me during winter. It is even a nice thing on rainy days. But on a regular nice day outside? It just seems a bit excessive. 

This rule of needing to change shoes also exists at a couple other buildings in camp   - and at the clinic which is in town. But in case you don't bring extra shoes around with you, never fear! There are shoe covers! 



And you are required to wear them. Even on a perfectly nice, dry day. 

One of the places you need to wear them is at the pool and another is the gym. So at the front of the buildings they have a container of covers and also another container for used ones. They also have cubbies when you step in, so that you can leave your covered shoes and change into your indoor shoes. 

And okay, I get in on the one hand. We take off our shoes at my house. It keeps things much cleaner. But on the other hand, I need to wear street shoes in order to go to the gym so that I can change into work out shoes. Which means I can't say, run to the gym. Unless I am going to change from my outdoor running shoes into my indoor ones when I get there. 

The other thing that is confusing is that another building, the HUB, does not make you wear shoe covers or change your shoes. Why the inconsistency? And really, I could understand if it were there as an option for inclement weather. But on nice days? I just don't get it. 

And my kids hate it too. Often the covers, which are sized to fit over adult male shoes, fall off of Kaya's shoes after a few steps. So she's always shuffling and tripping and whining if we are in a shoe cover building. Because I have not learned to keep a pair of shoes for her in my purse yet. 

I also wonder what they do with the used covers. I sure hope there is some sort of recycling. Because otherwise it is a huge waste as well as a huge inconvenience!!


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Dance Dance Dance

Today was International Children's Day at the school. They have all kinds of activities planned through the day, and kicked off with a fashion parade. Kaya went in a Gabonese dress and Xander wore a yukata. (Most kids did dress from their own nations - but I don't have anything exciting from the states.) 

Anyway, got there and I quickly found Kaya's class and was looking around for Xander's. At first I couldn't see it - but then I spotted a blond head bobbing to the music. He was sitting and dancing the entire time. 

I thought it was so cute - I love that he hears music and has to move, to dance. 

And then I realized...I was also bouncing to the music. Sure I had Emi in the carrier - but she was just an excuse. Even without her I probably would have been bouncing to the beat right along with my boy. 

Guess I know where he gets it from. 




Saturday, May 23, 2015

Translation Problems

am learning Russian. Slowly. I am taking lessons that are provided - but we only meet once a week, which means I have to remember to study the rest of the week. Also there was that five month break I took. So it's a slow process. 

I can read all the letters now - it just takes me a little while - and at the end I might not be able to understand what it is that I read. 

Enter Word Lens. 

This is an app that lets you aim your camera at text and it translates it for you. (Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, German, French, or Russian) 

The app very clearly states that it does best on block print that is straight across - and honestly - most labels for products don't fit that description. However - it does a valiant effort - switching and changing and trying to find the correct translation. It just often does a terrible job. 




That last one is probably correct - since the last word there is butter. And it just makes more sense than stoker creamy butter. 

The other night Brant and I went to a coffee shop for dessert after going out for dinner. Some places have English menus. This place did not. So I'm doing my best to read the menu. And tried using word lens (which was at one point telling me something about the Ethiopian evil on the menu) to help out where I needed help. 

Eventually I decided on a traditional hot chocolate. 

And this is what I got. 


It was melted chocolate. Served with a glass of water. Because hello - you're spooning melted chocolate into your mouth and you get a little thirsty. 

You may have noticed that this picture was taken after I already decided to eat some anyway. 

Apparently what I wanted to order was a "Kakao" - which does make sense. But all of their kakao listings had strange flavors added, so I thought traditional hot chocolate would be, you know, traditional hot chocolate. Also in my defense, there are two other coffee shops I have been to where you order a hot chocolate and get what I would think of as hot chocolate. 

My husband, however, knew that I should have gotten a kakao. I'm still not sure if he just wasn't paying attention to my order or if he just thought it would be funny to see my reaction to getting a cup of melted chocolate.

I'm just glad I didn't order the large. 



Tuesday, May 12, 2015

So this is Sakhalin

I've been thinking about this post for a while. I am still in some ways holding off judgement of Sakhalin. I'm still kind of in the phase where I compare everything to Gabon (though I am trying not to start every sentence with "in Yenzi..."). 

In many ways this is a better posting. There are multiple grocery stores. Even multiple locations of certain chains of grocery stores. There are many other stores as well - even a Columbia store. So you can buy things, which is a huge improvement. I was even recently taken to a store that carries stranger items, like gluten-free flours and almond milk and almond butter. They are outrageously expensive - but you can buy them. 

The facilities here are nicer than in Gabon. There is the Oasis - with a very large pool, a kids pool, a hot pool, and a giant water slide. In addition it has an area upstairs and other exercise areas. (And it's been a while since my tour - might be where the basketball court is?) There is also the Rec Center, with a meeting room, and exercise equipment and weights and rooms - oh and between these two places they have all kinds of classes, Zumba, yoga, spinning, etc. taught by actual certified instructors as opposed to just whoever volunteers. 

There is the HUB, which has a restaurant and a bar and even a play room for kids as well as a nice park outside. There are a few other parks in camp too. 

Basically, Yuzhno is an actual city. It's quite different from where we were in Gabon. Xander is taking aikido and modern dance - in Yenzi he wouldn't be able to do after school activities until next year. So there are advantages to this posting. 

However, the camp has a very different feel. It is bigger and there are still many people here that I haven't met. There is an Exxon camp twenty minutes away - and their kids are bussed into the school, so we see their kids - but rarely the parents. 

Socially it seems very different. And maybe I just haven't spent enough time here to really know, but in Yenzi people were always having events or dinner parties or going out to eat at one of the four places that all served the same food. (Did I mention there are multiple types of restaurants here??) But there almost everyone had a menagere - which meant guaranteed babysitting. Here it is much less common to have a nanny, and so it seems people don't go out as much. The couple times we had people over to the house the kids all came too - so it's just very different. 

I'm reserving judgement because I'm sure there are wonderful things and people here that I just haven't had the time to find yet. (Yes we moved here in September but I was only here for a couple months before I went back home to have our third baby. I've been back just a couple of weeks.) 

For now, I miss the people and the feel of the camp in Gamba. I miss the smaller camp and letting the kids just play outside. I am really missing having one season - but only because it is much harder to buy baby clothes when you have to think about weather and sizes. 

We just got our container - so having our own things might also help me feel more settled here. 

Next time - some pictures. :) 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

What's This All About?

So when we moved to Gamba - I blogged about it mostly so that family and friends could see where we lived and what we were up to. You can still find that blog over at www.brantandhanako.com. We recently moved to Sakhalin Island - and my family still would like to see what it's like here. So I will have posts about that. But I've also had all kinds of other ideas going through my head, and lucky or not for you, this is where I'm going to write about them. I'll try and remember to tag posts appropriately, so that if all you want is Sakhalin, you can find it - or if all you want is my crazy ramblings, you can find those too. Hope you find something you enjoy!