John:

Well, the saint of iPods answered my prayers! After waiting a day and a half of unplugging it and not touching it, I retried the iPod, and it sprang back to life as if nothing happened! I still cannot do a reset, which worries me a bit. But I guess as long as it is working, I can't complain!

After our walk yesterday, it turned cold, cloudy and rainy, and this has continued so far today. Good thing for Scrabble! (Thanks Mom!) Anne beat me a few days ago when towards the end of a long and very tight game, she scored a 56 on a two word, triple letter 'z' with only 4 plays remaining! I was devastated until I came right back with a triple word using that same 'z' for a 48 with 3 plays remaining! But she closed me out with a two word, double plural using a single 's' for 28 with 2 plays left. Bleen!

Random musings on fatherhood: Anne is clearly and hopelessly superior at being nurturing and patient. Ten minutes of screaming, crying and flailing grates on my every nerve, while Anne seems drawn to comforting the screaming, flailing mess of what used to be the cutest little thing on earth. I think I look frustrated the way Anne looks frustrated when the computer won't respond the way she wants and I come over and click the right buttons and the computer suddenly starts cooing and giggling again. Call it male vs. female, or John vs. Anne. But judging by my experience and some of the emails we've gotten, women just have it. Let me save myself by saying that there are of course exceptions, and this doesn't relieve us men of chores and duties. It's just that I think we each have our strengths, and better to exploit them where we can and minimize the weaknesses. Just as in anything in a good marriage or any other good team. You wouldn't want 7 foot 6 inch Yao Ming dribbling the ball up court when you have Jason Kidd to do that! (Is Joe Tortorice reading? Does he remember our backyard ballgames?); Yao can do other things like make up the formula, wash the dishes, or fix the iPod! Yes, Yao can take a few dribbles if there is a full court press, but truly, the team is better off if he stays close to the basket, scores from in close, gets rebounds and blocks shots. Maybe this is nothing new to folks out there, but again, it seems that people enjoy hearing our little discoveries and insights!

One thing I have gotten pretty good at is making an utter fool of myself for the sake of the kids' entertainment. I've noticed that the sillier and goofier the face/behavior, the harder the laugh/giggle! Now I know why all the kids' shows like The Wiggles looks so goofy and weird to me, while the kids just love it!

Anne:

Well, it's like the 7th cold, rainy day in a row... we are trying to think of it as "cozy" instead of "cabin fever!"  Good thing we got out for that one hour of partial sunshine yesterday!  We haven't quite dispensed with showering yet, but we are recycling our few long-sleeved shirts for several days in a row. 

I would like to say that John "Yao" Lim is doing a much better job with the daddy stuff than he would lead you to believe in the above passage!  He's great with the kids... I think it's just a matter of getting used to all of it!  I don't know how much of my knowledge is "female instinct"... I think being the oldest of four kids, a family physician and years of babysitting may play into it somehow! 

So John is a great dad!  I must tell you, though, for those of you curious about the odd mismatched outfits our children are wearing today, how this look came to be.  We decided to give them a bath this morning.  Since we don't have a baby bathtub or bath seats or any of that stuff here, I usually just climb into the tub with them, bathe them, then hand them off to John one by one for drying and dressing.  So I had their outfits laid out on the bed... since it is freezing in here in the mornings, a onesie undershirt and a sleeper.  As I was sitting in the bathtub with Kid #2, John calls from the bedroom with Kid #1, "There are four outfits here."  I explained that because it was cold, two were for Maya and two for Daniel.  I handed off Kid#2 and soaked in the tub for a few minutes longer.  When I emerged into the bedroom, I found our two children adorably dressed with their sleepers on the inside and their underwear on the outside!  When I started cracking up and told John why, he said he thought they looked like baseball players.  Not wanting to teach them to be conformists, we have enjoyed their little mismatched look for the rest of the day!

In other kid news, Maya is scooting around really well on her chest... she kind of rocks back and forth on her hands and knees and then propels herself forward.  Daniel is getting better at his sitting, not quite as floppy as before.  They are both doing much better with their spoon feeding.  They have also discovered that beloved baby trick of doing the raspberries when you have a mouth full of cereal.  We are also learning that out of the ten toys on the blanket there is none so interesting as the one that your brother or sister is playing with!

We thought we would end with a few of our food creations... useful information for any of you that may find yourself living in a Kazakh apartment for six weeks!

Blineys (crepes) - Buy blineys from Viola store.  Heat for 20 seconds in microwave.  Spread strawberry jam on bliney.  Sautee one cut apple, banana and raisins in CHOCOLATE BUTTER!  Spread on bliney.  Cut four two inch cubes of vanilla ice cream from the block in the freezer and place on top of fruit mixture.  Enjoy!   Alternate:  Sautee apples and dates in non-chocolate butter, use honey (we recommend August honey!) in place of jam.

Lentil soup - Chop three onions and one clove of garlic in olive oil.  Add water.  Add dried lentils.  Add a splash of Moldovian white wine (red if you're feeling adventurous, we haven't tried this yet!).  Simmer for two hours.

Mashed potato/carrot/walnut/raisin concoction - Wash and peel six medium potatoes.  Use large, dull knife.  Boil potatoes.  Peel and slice three gargantuan carrots.  Use same large, dull knife.  Sautee carrots in butter along with three small, sliced onions.  Add about 1/2 cup raisins (a medium brown, sweet variety selected at the green market after a lengthy explanation of the difference between the eight kinds available).  Add August honey just before removal from heat.  Mash potatoes with butter and boxed milk.  Spread mashed potatoes in bottom of serving bowl.  Top with carrot mixture.  Crush walnuts with bottom of a glass juice bottle.  Pick out shell fragments.  Sprinkle on top of concoction.  Enjoy!

Dumplings - Buy frozen dumplings from Viola store.  Be adventurous about what is inside dumplings.  Boil for recommended number of minutes on package (it will be the only character you recognize on the package).  Drain.  Serve with splash of vinegar and white substance found in cupboard which is hopefully salt.  Serve with carrot/cabbage/raisin/beet salad also purchased from aforementioned store.

Ok... you get the idea!  Hope you all are well-- we miss you!

  

Look at us reading!

John teaches Daniel his wild-eyed look

Sitting up alone...almost!

Soundly sleeping against the comfy metal bar

Toga baby!