26 November 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thought I'd post an update before I left work today since it's been a while...

Nathan continues to develop well. He now spends most of his days running wildly around the apartment, dancing to Russian children’s songs, jumping on the bed, and alternately playing with and throwing his books and toys. He understands a great deal of our adult conversations, and his vocabulary (both verbal and ASL) increases daily. His latest word and sign are, respectively, “butter” and “please” – huzzah for good manners! In addition, Nathan can point to any body part you name, including what we affectionately refer to as his ‘doodle.’

Since Christmas is approaching, we are deciding what to get for him, and we are pretty settled on a rocking horse we saw at a nearby shop, a small electronic keyboard (nothing too fancy, though), and some new clothes, as his vertical growth has been accelerating rapidly – he shot up half an inch in the past 2 weeks alone!

Our school director is hosting a Thanksgiving party at his home this Saturday (we don’t have Thursday off), and it should be a lot of fun. The entire school staff is invited, and since most of the Armenian employees are not familiar with the American traditions, it will probably be quite an experience for them. Then again, there are no cranberries or sweet potatoes here, and the green beans are very different, and the turkey had to be ordered from somewhere special (they’re not commonly available here)…so we’ll see how it goes!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

05 November 2008

November already...

I just finished putting up all the October photos that I thought were worth sharing. Looking at them makes me realize how many things happened last month! School had to be canceled last Thursday due to some plumbing issues, so Jarred and I took the opportunity to explore a different side of Yerevan: Kond, the oldest surviving neighborhood in the city. It's actually not that old compared with truly ancient sites throughout the country -- only about 200 years -- but the vast majority of buildings in Yerevan are considered modern, as they were built during the Soviet era of the 20th Century. Anyway, I've included my photos of Kond in the October Photobucket album so you can see for yourself.

Now it's November, and the temperature is dropping. Monday it was 6 degrees Celsius (about 42 degrees Farenheit) at 8:30am, and I hear from some that we could expect to see snow in a few short weeks. How exciting! We decided to take advantage of the last of the relatively warm weather this past weekend and went for a picnic with our friends Josh and Hasmik at the ruins of Zvartnots Cathedral, about 14 km west of Yerevan. Nathan got a lot of exercise climbing up and down the steps again and again, and saying the words "up" and "down" over and over, too! He also saw ants for the first time.

My class has a new student -- a Guinea pig named "Poncho." She was originally the pet of the secondary students, but their science teacher says they weren't taking very good care of her, so she needed a new home. Of course, she is welcome with me! At first I thought it was strange that she had a Spanish name, but I soon found out that poncho is an Armenian nickname meaning "chubby." Either way, she's a cutie! I'll have to take a picture of her to include in November's photobucket album.

Just one more thing: Congratulations to the new president-elect, Barack Obama, and all our fellow Americans on the triumph of this historic U.S. election. From what we've seen on CNN International, it seemed the majority of people in the world, except for about 47% of the U.S., was hoping Obama would win, so this is an amazing victory for just about everyone. (And lucky for Armenians, Obama, unlike Bush, has pledged to recognize the 1915 Genocide.) I think this article says it all.