Sunday, July 30, 2006

Teeth, motorcycles, and Spanish - random updates from Tbilisi

So much is happening, and since I have a few moments to myself, I thought I would hit the highlights of the past week.

We'll start with Kyra. By Monday she had her first tooth - the lower right. By Friday she had her second tooth - the lower left. As soon as she allows me to get a good photo of them, I will post it. She's much happier now that the teeth are in, she's sleeping better at night, napping better during the day and is generally less fussy. Ah, if only it will last.

Moving on, let's talk about David's motorcycle. David is off to Armenia for two weeks of work and decided that while he was gone, he would have his motorcycle painted. A friend of his had a bike painted by this guy a few weeks ago and he did a great job (and a cheap job compared to US prices). We dropped it off at the shop on Saturday and then took the kids out to lunch. About an hour and a half later we are outside the restaurant, getting the kids strapped in their carseats when David exclaims "well, there goes my motorcycle" and sure enough, his motorcycle goes flying past us with two guys on it, one of them is the painter. We get the kids settled, hop in the car, and follow in the direction the bike went but can't find them. David shrugs philosophically, you see, he has a phrase for stuff like this happening in Georgia. Whenever anyone complains about traffic, food, housing - pretty much anything at all - David puts his left hand up and makes a little circle and says "you used to live here" and then he puts his right hand up and stretches it as far as he can from the left makes another little circle and says "and now you live here". In other words, just go with the flow.

So, we decide to let it be and we head out to the park with the kids. After about an hour of running around the park with "super hero" Blaine, we load up and head home. On the drive home, believe it or not, we see David's motorcycle go flying past us again. I tell David to turn the car around and follow him, so he does. Turns out the guy was headed back to the paint shop. We pull in about 2 minutes behind, the guy is already off the bike, with his helmet in his hand. He sees us and immediately adopts the universally understood "OH SHIT" face. He speaks very little English, David doesn't speak nearly enough Russian to convey his unhappiness with the guy joyriding on his bike, so David calls a third party to interpret. All is resolved and we drive away. But David and I took bets on whether or not I will see his bike around town over the next two weeks.

And finally Blaine. Sweet, funny, adorable Blaine. I thought Kyra getting teeth would have been the highlight of my week vis-a-vis the kids, but Blaine trumped her. Friday was his last day of Spanish-immersion summer camp. For the past month he has spent all day during the week speaking, thinking and learning Spanish. But, as David and I found out on Friday, not everything translates.

Blaine came home from school on Friday with all of the papers, art projects and miscellaneous crafts he had done during the past month. He and I were looking through them and he was describing them to me. One particular picture he made showed a man, a woman and a child. I asked him who the people were - the conversation went as follows:

Me: Blaine, who are these people?
Blaine (pointing to the woman): That's Mami
Me: And the man?
Blaine: That's Papi
Me: And the little boy?
Blaine: That's Joe
Me: Joe?
Blaine: Yes, Joe

David and I looked at each other - we had expected him to say either "That's Blaine" or his other favorite "That's super hero Blaine". Neither of us had a clue who Joe was. I decided to ask again:

Me: Who is that little boy?
Blaine: I told you, is Joe!

And then my college Spanish kicked in and the light bulb went on.

Is Joe = Es Yo
Es Yo = That's Me!

That's us. Mami, Papi and Joe. And the drooly toothy girl named Kyra.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Why I never seem to have time to update my blog

She's teething. And that means my sweet, adorable, happy baby has been replaced by a monster. A monster that doesn't sleep. That has to be held 24/7. That acts as if you have abandoned her to the gypsies if you let someone else hold her.

I'm exhausted. I'm sometimes incoherent from the lack of sleep. She went from taking 2 great naps every day - usually a 2 to 3 hour nap in the morning and at least another hour nap in the afternoon - to maybe taking 3 half hour naps each day. Maybe. At night? She alternately sleeps and screams for an hour at a time.

We've tried Tylenol. Doesn't work. Tried homeopathic teething tablets. Don't work. Tried ambesol/orajel. Just pisses her off more. We busted out the bottle of Motrin the other night since she has attained the magic age of 6 months. It worked for about 3 hours of blissful sleep.

This is one of the few downsides of being a nursing mother. No one else will do. David can go in to her at night and try to soothe her, but 95 percent of the time she will scream even louder when she realizes it is not me picking her up. And she doesn't even want to nurse. She just wants me because she associates me with the comfort. Usually I can just hold her and soothe her back to sleep. But you do this 10x a night = exhaustion.

But relief may be in sight. Today I noticed that tooth number 1 has started poking through the gums on the lower right. Let's just hope the next eleventybillion teeth are easier. It's always hardest the first time, right? RIGHT???

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

It's the most wonderful time of the year

Oh, if only you could be in Georgia right now. Summer is here. We still have relatively cool evenings, hot days and the best part? It's fresh fruit and veggie season!

I had been led to believe, before moving here, that spring and summer brought an abundance of fruit and veggies but during winter, the pickin's were slim. Not so much the case these days now that Georgia has fairly reliable trade with other countries with warm climes during our winter, but spring and summer are still the best for fresh produce. Grown locally - anywhere from Tbilisi to Batumi and all places in between, if you are a fruit and vegetable lover, this is the time to be here.

Not only is the produce abundant, fresh and outrageously delicious - but it's also dirt cheap. I can go to the veggie market and buy enough vegetables to feed my family for a week or more for less than 10 bucks. A kilo of tomatoes, some salad greens, fresh basil, green onions, garlic, purple onions, potatoes, cucumbers, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant - so much for so little. And so damn good. The tomatoes and cucumbers in Georgia are some of the best tasting I have ever had. I missed Georgian cucumbers while I was in the U.S. earlier this year - here they are almost sweet. I can eat a whole cucumber (or two) as a snack.

Fruits are a bit trickier, because the seasons here for some fruits are very definite. Strawberries, for example are "done" now. In May, you could get a kilo of strawberries for 2 or 3 lari almost anywhere - at the bazroba, at the grocery store, on the corner by your house. Everyone had strawberries for sale. Perfectly ripe, juicy and sweet. But when the season is over it is over. You cannot buy a strawberry now if you wanted one (lucky me - I froze a bunch). Once strawberries are done, cherries start appearing. And apricots, and peaches. Apples are available, but won't really be in peak season for another month or so. And melons.

Oh, if you like watermelon, Tbilisi is the place to be during watermelon season. They are becoming available now - and quite decent, but in another few weeks? I cannot even begin to describe how incredibly awesome the watermelons will be. Right now, the prices are at a premium - 1 lari per kilo, an average of anywhere from 8 -10 kilos for a small watermelon, so 4 to 5 bucks US. But when season is in full swing later this month through August? Watermelon will be about 20 tetri per kilo. That's works out to about 10 cents per kilo. For less than a dollar I can have some of the sweetest watermelon in the world. And I know watermelon, believe me. My grandfather used to grow some of the best watermelon on his farm in Alabama - summers there were spent picking the ripe ones for market and a few to eat until our bellies would pop. Blaine is now experiencing the joys of fresh watermelon - he begged me to buy one yesterday at the market and I did - we both ate quite a bit as soon as we got home.

The best part of the fresh produce here is that the timing is perfect for Kyra. We are just starting to introduce solid foods to her. She had a little taste of watermelon at the 4th of July celebration and liked it. This past week we started offering her banana (not Georgian, usually imported from South America) which she quite likes. And then carrots, which she prefers over banana. Yesterday she had her first taste of apricot and I think she loves that best of all. I have peaches waiting to be tried - if I don't eat them all first. I have also cooked up some pears for her to try later this week (I cook and freeze it in ice cube trays with a dash of lemon juice to keep them from turning brown). When apples come into season I will do the same. I could buy jarred food - but why would I when it's so much cheaper (and tastier, in my opinion) to offer her the fresh fruit and veggies.

Now if you will excuse me, I have some watermelon calling my name. Yum.

Monday, July 03, 2006

4th photos

Where are we going? Croc-Oh-Dile Lake!

Or so says Blaine, who has obviously watched way too much Dora the Explorer. In reality, we went to Turtle Lake on Sunday for the annual AMCHAM/Embassy Fourth of July Celebration. Surprisingly, it turned out to be a nice cool evening and it made the celebration more enjoyable since we weren't battling stifling heat and bugs.

We went to the same celebration last year but the big difference was that last year this time I was in the early stages of pregnancy and was exhausted and sick most of the time. This year I was able to relax and eat and drink and generally be merry the whole evening.

Even though it was cool, that did not stop Blaine from taking a dip in the lake - as a matter of fact, I had to force him to get out even though his teeth were chattering as he said "I'mmmm nnnoootttt coooooold". After his swim and a bite to eat, he played on the playground, going down the "twisty" slide about 400 times. Kyra had her first taste of watermelon and quite enjoyed it and after a while she fell asleep snuggled up against me in the sling. She woke in time to enjoy the fireworks. I thought she might be afraid of the explosions, but she was fascinated by the light show. Blaine loved the fireworks - all night long he kept asking when the fireworks were going to start and I kept telling him "after it gets dark".

All in all, we had a lovely 4th of July (even though it was only the 2nd of July). We hope you all have a lovely 4th as well.