January madness

To say this January has been a busy month is an understatement.

Perhaps even the understatement of the year, keeping fully in mind that the year has just started.

Let’s see – there was Juliana’s birthday which coincided with the first snow in Northern Virginia and let’s just say that no one was really prepared for that. In fact, we didn’t even make it to her preschool that day – not for lack of trying – but for lack of competent bus drivers out there (2 buses got stuck in the snow on the main road to her preschool which ended up closing down the entire street). Perhaps it also didn’t help that the snow plows were more or less absent for those crucial first few snow hours.

Oh well, so we drove back home and turned the day into a cupcake baking marathon and snowman-building party. Yes, in fact Jules did want to build that snowman (did you catch that Frozen reference?).

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The next day, thanks to cleared roads, we headed to her “real” birthday party at Pump it Up which was lots of fun and no, cupcakes were certainly not lacking.

And then, just when we had found a home for all those new pink, purple, sparkly things that had suddenly moved into our small little apartment, I had both of my eyes cut open.

By a real person.

On purpose.

IMG_0674I had contemplated LASIK surgery for quite some time, knowing that I was a “perfect candidate” and even though I was not entirely thrilled about the prospect of the surgery (did I mention you get your eyes cut open?), I thought it might be pretty amazing to not have to worry about finding your glasses in the middle of the night when you get woken up at dark ‘o thirty by a crying kid. And besides, everyone I had talked to said it was life-changing and totally not painful. Well, turns out everyone was right – and I am now finally allowed to sleep without these beautiful goggles John woke up to every day for the first week.

And then 2 days after surgery, it was this guy’s birthday!

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What did the kids and I get him?

See that awesome jersey he is wearing? Yes, that, my friend, is the National Mongolian Hockey jersey – handmade for him. Don’t ask me about the details and where I got it; it involved a bit of a heated back and forth with a vendor in Singapore but it arrived, literally just in time for his birthday and let’s just say, John was totally surprised! Did not see that one coming at all!

And since birthdays are serious holidays in our house, we celebrated with friends, partaking in one of John’s favorite activity – playing boardgames. It was a fun afternoon and we have now accumulated about a dozen more boardgames … well, something to keep us busy during those Mongolian winters.

And now that school has officially started and we’re playing the daily game of “snow day / snow delay / or normal school day tomorrow?” we are starting to get back into our normal routine.

Only now new tasks are in the mix:

IMG_0721Yes, now it’s my turn to go to school and learn Mongolian. I am now experiencing first hand what John has been doing every day for the past five months only he is in class MUCH longer than I am (and also more disciplined to study).

This is the first language I am learning in a new alphabet (Mongolian uses the cyrillic/Russian alphabet) so I am learning EVERYTHING from scratch.

I am learning how to read new letters, make new sounds (there are countless variations of “o” and “u” that have tiny tonal differences), and write new letters again. I can very much relate to Luca who is doing the same, except that the letters he’s learning make much more sense to me.

I am really enjoying the class and excited to be taking it with a fellow spouse moving to Mongolia with her family this summer. It’s just bittersweet when you are stumbling and stumbling over new words and how to pronounce them and then realize you can’t read or recognize your husband’s or children’s names in cyrillic. Ah, those “aha” moments ….

Oh and then, I am also doing this in my free time.

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Yes, I am enhancing my bread baking skills thanks to a new book and baking supplies, courtesy of my Mom (maybe she didn’t like the bread I was serving last time she came to visit?)! Bread – and by bread, I mean GOOD bread (this is crucial) – is a household stable in our family. We love it.

There is nothing better than a good slice of (warm) bread with some cheese or a glass of wine. We are bread snobs. I mean, we lived in Austria for the past two years, how can we not be?

Yes, so it’s been a busy month.

Now excuse me while I wrestle another slice of brioche out of my children’s hands. I made it, so I get to eat it, right?

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