May 24, 2011

A Day In Our Lives

Often people say that they cannot imagine how our lives work here. What do you eat? Which language do you speak? What about school for your kids? Do you have a house?

They might have an overly romantic picture of the life here, or they might be terrified of the idea of living in Central Asia (where is that anyway?).

Our live is pretty much a normal, every day life of a family with three kids. Or not. I am not a very good judge of that, I guess. I mean, for me, our life is normal. But on the other hand, we have lived abroad for most of our married lives!

So I thought I would share one day of our lives with you. Because I cannot remember what happened yesterday, I will talk about today.

I woke up about 5.30 when our fan started to make funny noise. I checked our bed side light switch. When the light is off, the switch has a little red light on...but not now. It means the electricity was off. Our fan was connected to the battery line, but the batteries were not strong enough to keep it going, hence the funny noise.

I am totally useless in such an early hour, so my husband got up and turned the fan off. Then he disappeared into the kitchen, and left the house around 6.15 am as he does every Tuesday: Men's Accountability Group. Or I think he did: I had no memory of this as I fell back asleep. A friend had come for a visit last night and we were sitting in the kitchen, chatting, up till 10.30 pm. Too late, but really fun.

Around 6.30 my son woke me up by patting my arm, not so gently. He was up and HUNGRY. I told him to go to the kitchen and ask papa to give him breakfast. 'But papa is not here!' he said. Oh yes, the Tuesday morning. I told him to go find an apple, find bread, find anything. He came back; he had not found any bread (I put it in the fridge because now the weather is getting hot and it keeps better in the fridge but he did not know it), and the only apple had a brown SPOT on it, so he could not eat it. 'Can't you eat it around the spot?' I asked hoping that he would disappear for another half an hour, but I gave up, I was too awake already.

Then our baby girl woke up. She is 21 months already, but she is my baby! I got her ready and dressed for breakfast. When I got outside to go to the kitchen with the two (our oldest daughter was still sleeping) I noticed a 2 liter jar of milk on the veranda. I had thought I heard someone calling earlier, but I was too busy with kids to go out to check it. We have just started to buy milk from a neighbor lady. They have a new cow who gives lots of milk; 8 liters a day. It is much much cheaper to buy 'village' milk, 0.43 euro/liter, than carton milk in a shop, which is 1.40 euro/liter. We use about 2 liters a day, so we buy milk from milk sellers that come from villages to the city to sell milk and yogurt, and pasteurize it at home. It is nice to support a neighbor into a little milk business, so we buy from them now.

I fed the kids some breakfast. I often make porridge (hot cereal), or bread and cheese. A very basic Finnish breakfast. Then we went back to the main house to wake up the sleeping beauty and to pick up the house. Our children have few chores in the morning that they need to do before they can invite their friends to play. My son quickly made his bed and brushed his teeth so that he can play before the school starts. He run to the neighbor to take the milk money, and started to play with his friends in our yard.

Usually I start a load of laundry after breakfast. Our washing machine is a top-loader, but I need to manage the water manually. I use hot water for the first round, but then I turn it off so that the kitchen would not run out of hot water. Cold water is enough to rinse the load of clothes. Well, in the summer we never get really cold water. Our water tank is high up in a tower, unprotected from the sun. So it bakes the whole day in the Central Asian sunshine and delivers nice luke warm water.

My house help did not come today, because it is her mother's birthday. She asked for a day off, and I was happy to do it. I was going to visit her mom for lunch.

I try to start 'school' at 9. I sit on the sofa with children and read for them. I have been reading Bible stories for them chronologically. I use my Bible, or children's Bible. After the story the children will draw a picture about the story. Sometimes I print ready coloring pages that I find in the net. For example it was easier to color ready pictures about the Ten Commandments than try to draw a picture for each one ourselves.

My baby loves school time and insist that she does everything exactly like her big brother and sister. If they have a work book, she wants a work book (an old coloring book will do). If they draw, she will draw. If they get the privilege to use markers, she wants to use markers. Luckily they are washable, from USA.

Today we read about 'Line Symmetry' in a Math book, and then we took paper, folded it in two, and cut out shapes that have a line of symmetry in them...hearts, butterflies, ladybugs, fish, lizards, a sword...It kept us nice and busy. I have to keep an eye on our youngest she found matches in the bathroom! Luckily she does not know how to light them.

Mean while two men were installing a satellite dish onto our roof. Now we can watch Central Asian channels...I like it for language and culture.

After snack time my son had play time with his friends, and my older daughter continued her school. She has started to play the piano, and today she was practicing to draw the bass clef and the notes on musical lines.

We had sandwiches for lunch and then I left for the birthday party. I took my son with me so that I could go to bazaar afterwards and buy him new sandals. The old ones were worn through the bottom! The baby took a nap and daughter got her cherished time with Donald Ducks.

I enjoyed the time visiting the birthday lady. We sat on the floor, around a tablecloth, drank tea and ate Osh. We looked through some old photos. I am finally learning the members of this big, large family!

The bazaar was hot! Luckily most of it is covered, but it is a crowded, busy place. I usually avoid taking children with me, but I knew it would be special for my son to go...and anyway I did not want to end up with too small sandals for him! On the way to the spot where they sell sandals, someone stopped us. 'Hello, how are you doing?', she asked. I answered politely, trying to place her into my contacts. 'She must be confusing me with some other foreign lady', I thought, as it often happens. Even though we foreign ladies in our city all look very different, I regularly am stopped by people whom I have never met and who think I am that lady with five kids (wrong!), or that lady whose husband has blond hair (wrong!). She asked about my son's arm, and then I remembered her; the nurse from the hospital! It was very nice of her to greet us and ask how we are doing. It is very Central Asian!

We climbed on the third floor of a building in the center of bazaar where the plastic sandals are sold. We bought sandals for my son, my husband and my daughter. They are very handy to wear around the yard, quick to put on, quick to kick off. The most expensive pair was 2 euros.

I enjoyed looking at the fresh fruit and vegetables that is being sold in the bazaar. Cherries, early apricots, little green onions, cauliflower, even lemons. I did not want to carry much because we had to walk in the heat, so I just bought little bananas.

The kids were very excited about their new sandals and wanted to show them for their friends! My husband took a little walk to the school bazaar to buy a pack of playing cards for my son and his best friend. The little boys here play all day long with tiny cards, trying to win as many as they can. My son spends lots of time learning to master the moves in order to win lots of them!

The dinner was a joint effort...I gave ideas and my husband cooked! Children were playing in the yard...our swing is really popular among the neighbor kids. There is always an opportunity to teach manners and good behaviour. Tonight the 'boys' did not want to listen to the 'girls' and covered their ears when the girls tried to talk to them. It frustrated the girls and emotions were raised. We reminded that it is not polite to cover your ears when someone is trying to talk to you, and if they could not play nicely together, the game would end. We have very nice kids in our neighborhood, and little stir ups like this often dissolve quickly.

It took me an hour to do the dishes by hand and clean up the kitchen. I skipped watering the street and the yard. Watering is done to keep the dust down and cool the air around the house. Evenings are a nice time to see the neighbors on the street, but I did not have time to go out there tonight.

Usually I give the kids a quick shower after dinner. In the summer they tend to get all dusty and dirty and sweaty! It is also a good way to calm them down towards the bed time. Tonight they got to watch a show of Doctor Snuggles (an old, old show). Their bed time is at 8 pm, and they fall asleep pretty quick after a story book and some songs.

My husband wanted to visit a friend, but the friend was busy, so here we are, sitting at our computers, working and blogging. Evenings are a peaceful time to write emails, read stuff, and watch TV-shows!

That was one day here in our Central Asian lives. Tomorrow will be different, I just know it! I will bake Cinnamon rolls and we will have a guest for lunch.

1 comment:

  1. I almost feel like I was there... you forgot that I had a nap during quiet time too! =-)


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