Monday, July 11, 2011

Local exploration

Our family went on kind of a backyard expedition this Saturday. Out past our Hovd airport is a famed local hill, on the backside of which are well-known petroglyphs. So we grabbed the blue russian van (iVan) and our notebooks to go and document them. At first we parked and climbed right past the ancient pictures... there aren't many signs or bulletin boards for tourist information!

On our way back down the mini-mountain we descended right through a cluster of petroglyphs - mostly of simple mountain goats, with a few deer. The boys started drawing every single one but eventually quit (either because there were too many OR they all looked about the same). It was kind of like a historical egg hunt. To finish the day with some drama, our van wouldn't start... so we utilized the good old-fashioned family push-start to get the van turned around and rolling slightly downhill (it was close!). Another successful adventure!

Summer holiday

Ahh, the bright break of summer holiday in Hovd. Although Krista has continued some schoolwork and gardening, she has also found some time to relax in the dependable sunshine of western Mongolia and enjoy our front lawn. It may not be much, but it is enough for toes and the upkeep isn't too tough!

We missed the 4th of July this year - fireworks and roasting marshmallows down by the river - but grandma Adiad brought a nice goathead over for roasting! The boys joined in with a couple of legs, hoofs and all, and quite enjoyed themselves! Not so good on hershey's and graham crackers, however...

Monday, April 11, 2011

New Years in the Countryside

Spring is here!! Two weeks ago was the annual Kazak New Years celebration, the marker for spring's beginning. Our family and the Lains were invited to go to the countryside and visit our hosting Grandma's son.

We piled into two cars, one driven by a family friend and the other by another brother and headed for about an hour ride out to where this family currently kept their gers. We arrived to a barren area with little more than dirt, rocks, a ger and a corral for the animals. We were warmly welcomed and all 5 kids headed straight for, well, the kids. There were at least 50 kids and lambs one of which was still slimy from birth.

We were called in and enjoy several cups of tea and then after a few minutes outside, to wash hands, we all came in and ate!! The table was laid with candy, several salads, dried milk curd, and meat. Everyone made a good dent in the meat, me being handed a rib and told to clean it, then the soup is served. This is the main food of this holiday and is a milk based rice soup. In every home you are to have two bowls, one to fill each of your legs. The kids were then quick to return to the vast outdoors and all the wonderful babies to be chased, hugged and generally adored!

As the sun began to drop it was time for the ewes to return and the job of helping the lambs and kids find the right mother began. Both ladies of the house knew all the sets of twins by sight and keep handing them to all of us for safe keeping. When the mothers did arrive it is a wonderful mass of animals and people working to get the matches correct.

Before we headed home we were back for one more cup of tea and a few family pictures were snapped. We then pile in again for the ride back, with the addition of two students from a near by ger that were returning to the city after the holiday. The trip, animals and full stomachs made for a wonderfully memorable day!!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Birthday Season

March and April are the birthday season for our family and team (not to mention the Kazakh New Year... blog forthcoming)! Unfortunately we have been without a working camera lately (soon to be remedied on Krista's birthday), so thanks to Zeke for these great birthday photos!

First was Eden's birthday - already 6! She got a big pink birthday cake and LOTS of presents and some dandy hand-made birthday cards. Presents included dolls and chapstick and anything pink, and she walked around for days afterwards asking how cute everyone thought she was. Here is a Mongolian doll that we have been saving for her since we brought her into our family 4 years ago...

Next was Saiah - now 8. His birthday included a sunny hike to the Children's Park with lots of friends and ice cream cones... hey, it was almost above freezing so why not?! Kids were all over the trees (wow, a park with real trees!) and statues of livestock, which seemed to be quite more fun than the weird "exercise equipment."

Then it was off to dinner, one of the only real restaurants in town, with presents and lots of kids "flirting" with the table of English-speaking ladies across from them. After that is has just been a flurry of more birthdays - Marvin, Eli, Krista Lain, Zeke next week, then our Krista!