Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Griffin Gets Trimmed

We were already planning on giving Griffin a bath and a haircut with his new, fancy German hair clippers the day after the team-building activity, but after finding a tick on him that morning, we were extra determined. 

Even though we're newbies at clipping a dog's fur, we sort of felt encouraged that we couldn't make his cut look much worse than the uneven, haphazard one he already had when we bought him. He had bits of hair all over his body in a variety of lengths. We even made the hard desicion to clip the long hair on his ears short. The long fur on his ears was so soft, but it was hard to keep clean and we needed to make sure and brush him regularly to avoid tangles.

I just have to say that poodle hair is awesome! All those tight curls keep the hair together and are much easier to clean than human hair. I should know because I usually do the clean up when the boys get haircuts.

We bathed Griffin before his haircut with a shampoo that the pet store just handed to us to buy. It was supposedly to enhance the color of a black dogs fur. Unfortunately, it smelled SO strong of perfume, it was awful! Just awful! So, after his haircut we put him back in the tub and just gave him an oatmeal bath and I hoped that some of the perfume would wash away. 

Kate snuggling Griff after his haircut and 2nd bath.

All the boys got haircuts that morning, and afterwards we needed a snack! James enthusiastically volunteered to eat the leftover salad in the fridge and then asked if he could share some with Griffin. I am generally against feeding Griffin table scraps unless it's only a little and completely OK for a dog to eat. So, I said James could try giving him some, but wasn't sure he'd like it. I was so proud to see that Griffin ate the lettuce! He's a dog after my own heart and fits perfectly in our family. He loves fresh fruits and vegetables!

Griffin looks like a small black Labrador in his new haircut.

Of course, we HAD to suddenly have a cold snap outside the day after Griff's haircut, and since we didn't want to rush out to buy him a doggy coat on Sunday (we don't shop on Sundays), I found a old knit vest of William's in the donation bag that he'd grown out of and made Griff a sweater.

Griffin somewhat disliked his fall sweater (see that pathetic face?) and tried to rub against the couches or roll on the ground in attempts to get it off, but I was particularly proud of it. It's fun to be resourceful. Though, now that it's getting even colder, we're using a doggie coat that's a lot warmer and with fuller coverage!

Team Building Activity Day

Jon's department put together a "team building" activity day. Faculty and staff were welcome to bring their families, though many of the other's older children were already in school. It's fun that homeschooling offers us allowances. Jon and I looked at the pictures of the resort and thought how fun it would be to let our children run and play in the lush green grass and sandy beach.

The bus left around 9am and we drove about 30-45 minutes out of the city of Astana. It was fun to see a different part of Kazakhstan! It was also very interesting and humbling to see how some "country" Kazakhs live (at least in that area). 

Since we had JUST gotten our sweet, little companion dog, Griffin, and he had never been alone in our home, we asked permission to bring him along and they were ok with it.

When we arrived, the resort looked somewhat different than the above pictures let on. I suppose we should have noticed that the pictures looked enhanced...

There was not much grass, just what seemed to be mowed weeds. You might argue that grass was once there. At least it was mowed. I told the children to keep themselves and Griffin in the mowed area of weeds or on the sidewalk and stay out the of overgrown stuff. I felt impressed that there would be ticks.

The group supplied breakfast, though we didn't know would happen, so we had eaten before we came. The breakfast spread was quite different than what Americans consider as breakfast foods, but it was still interesting to sample some.

The children liked hanging out near the pier by the river. The river was pretty, and it ran slowly and peacefully. I stayed near the pavilion with Griffin, and despite the peaceful river, Griffin seemed to get upset whenever the children were by the water. I couldn't tell if he was trying to protect them or if he just wanted to be there playing with them. I'd like to think the former.

William was being a bit too independent and brave and it made me nervous to have him so close to the water, so I took him to a small playground. The playground was disappointing. The weeds grew shaggy there and the playground equipment was quite cheap and flimsy. Even at only four years, William was too big for the equipment. 

While at the playground, our little friend, Anisa said hello to Griff.

I noticed that a short brick-paved path to the playground (one we hadn't used) was lined with sunflowers. Most of them were dying, but a few still had some life.

I loved watching this bee!

I was pleasantly surprised that I caught a picture of the bee flying off the sunflower, but isn't it interesting that he flew off backwards?!

Jon's colleagues doing team building activities and games.

The small playground soon proved to be a bust. There just wasn't anything William could do there! I was planning to walk back to the pavilion, but William asked if he could go to the beach and sit on the lounge chair. Of course, for William, relaxing on the lounge chair soon led to sitting on the edge kicking at the sand, and then getting right down into the sand. At that point I realized we would not be leaving soon, so *I* relaxed on the lounge chair, somewhat defeated. I usually don't enjoy sitting in the sun. It hurts my skin. Oh, well. William was having a grand ol' time and that was worth it!!!

The older children noticed we were at the beach and joined in on the fun. Honestly, I think it was Bruce's and William's first beach experience and the first one James remembers. The children watched enviously as adults jumping into the river and begged me to let them go in, even just to wade their feet. However, I have heard from a few people that household sewage is emptied into nearby lakes and rivers and I really wasn't willing to take the chance and let them play in the water!!! They still had tons of fun in the sand, anyway, and they even found some shells!

Brucie was all sorts of charming with the Kazakh ladies at the retreat! He made a lot of female friends; so much so that they asked him when his birthday was and started planning a party for him.


Griffin enjoying letting his ears flap in the wind!

A couple more pics of Griff.

We stayed at the retreat until 5pm. It was quite a day and we all got nice late-summer tans!

p.s. Even as careful as I was at the retreat, I found a tick on Griffin's chest when I was petting him the following morning. Yikes! Jon and I immediately removed it and flushed it down the toilet. Evil! But, what made it even scarier was that only a few days later we found out that our friends' dog, Yuki, had a tick and it transferred a life-threatening disease to her! Yuki was so close to dying and they JUST made it to the veterinarian in time! We're so grateful Yuki is ok now!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Fall Colors on Campus

I grew up in Utah and autumn time could be pretty there, especially up in the mountains. Later, when Jon and I were married and starting a family, we lived in upstate New York for 7 years and autumn was absolutely gorgeous!!! The rich, vibrant rainbow of autumnal colors were mesmerizing and addicting. After enjoying such breathtaking beauty for so long, it was a bit of a disappointment to move to Moscow where the fall colors were duller, and now to Astana where they are almost nonexistent. Especially where we live on campus, there is not a mature tree around and the small trees seem to struggle to survive in their current conditions. I don't think the trees get much water in the summer, so when fall comes around the leaves go from yellow-green, to a dull yellow, to brown. Sad.

There was this one spot on this one tree near campus, though, that showed off some true autumn spirit this year! Way to go, little guy!


Jon and I soon discovered that it was very difficult to make decent homemade candy with the sugar purchased both here in Astana and in Moscow. It is just not refined enough. We usually end up getting some burning at the bottom of the pan from the impurities. Recently a friend, who works with the Embassy and can get food shipped here, wanted to reduce her food storage and offered to sell some of her American sugar. We got a couple cans to save specifically for holiday candies. Below is a picture of sugar in Astana on the left and American sugar on the right.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Projects and a New Buddy

Here are a few more pictures that were forgotten on my iPad and then I will be done, I promise (maybe)! Also, a little side-note, I DO have pictures of my side of the family, but some of them are not comfortable with sharing pictures on the Internet, which I respect. That's why there are no pictures of my family, but just know that I still love them! :-)

Kate wanted to do a building project with Grandpa Peterson in his wood shop, and so they built a candy jar dispenser together. Well, then of course ALL the boys wanted to have one, tool! What a cool project, right?! Here's William proudly showing off his candy dispenser with corn-free candy (because he's allergic to corn syrup). However, those stupid square candies really didn't want to come out of the dispenser -- whoops! Why can't corn-free candy be easier to come by?

Here's a video of the boys "helping" Grandpa build their candy dispenser.

More pictures of William and Pipsqueak. Remember, Pipsqueak was a neighborhood dog that visited the children several times. He didn't have a name tag, so the children gave him a name.

Notice Kate, James, and Bruce in the hot tub in the background just realizing that Pipsqueak had come to visit again!

 I love how sweet the children were with this little dog.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Peterson Reunion Water Fight

(I found some pictures of our trip to Utah on my iPad that I'd completely forgotten about, but I don't know how I could've forgotten about them! Fun times! Below is July 29th.)

One afternoon at the Peterson Reunion, Grandpa pulled out some water squirters and a great, friendly war commenced. The only adults that participated with the grandkids were Jon, his dad, and both his brothers, Jason and Jeremy. I was one of the party poopers that did not participate, but I had fun taking pictures from the safety of the second floor balcony.

Jon getting James right in the back!

Cousin Alex looking for someone to squirt.

Brucie getting his daddy.

William refilling. Look at that mischievous face!

And, here's why he had such a mischievous face -- he squirted me right on my shoes! All's fair in love and war, I guess! I LOVE how he aims with one eye closed!

Brevan squirting Will right in the face.

High-tailing it outta there!

James getting Jon.

Grandpa and Kate getting James.

Jon trying to escape from Breven and his triple squirter.

Jon's revenge refill, and Brevan realizing his soon-to-be fate.

Kate smiling and running casually from Uncle Jeremy. He wouldn't...

AHH! Right in the back! (I love that I caught Kate's reaction!)