Thursday, February 22, 2007

A while back I posted about Nate having the measles. Well, it turns out that it wasn't measles, after all. It was just some virus that's been going around. After Nate got it, I came down with it, then Kenny had it and now Abi has it. She was miserable yesterday--she had fever her eyes were hurting. She was also so self-concious of her spots and kept saying that it was just "a bunch of freckles". I think the worst is over now and she should be feeling better by tomorrow.

Nate, Kenny and I are fighting colds but other than that everything here is going pretty good.

Today I was reminded of how big Nate is getting when he announced that he was going to cook lunch. With the help of Begi, a young girl who hangs out at our house a lot, he mixed rice, little pieces of carrot and garlic that he cut with a dull knife, and chicken bullion with water and--get this-- mandarin juice! Begi put it on the stove and cooked it then served us. Everyone tasted it and was full of compliments for the chef! It wasn't bad at all! I know teenage girls who cook a lot worse than that.

Nate also likes going to the store by himself and buying things like bread or ice cream. He is getting so independant and I have to be careful not to be too helpful sometimes. The other day he asked if he could go and buy some bread with his own money. I watched him from our 5th story window as he trudged through the snow, falling several times. He came home, proud as punch that he had contributed to the family table. My baby is becoming such a little man!

Kenny is 8 months and "cruising" already. He has another tooth, now too. Kenny is such a daddy's boy. He loves cuddling and playing rough with Hetee, and when Hetee's not home, Kenny sees his clothes lying around and crawls to them and puts his head on them! It's so cute that they have that bond. Today I took Kenny out of the tub and was trying to dress him but as soon as I took my hands off him he was off, crawling as fast as his fat, little knees could take him, away to his daddy who was sitting nearby. Too funny!

So what have I been up to? Besides daydreaming about life in a house with a yard, I have been learning how to make granola bars. I tried a recipe I found on then I tweaked it a bit and made some more. =) They make a great snack for a mom on the move, like me. I'll have to post my version here soon.

For now, I'm off to bed. Today was my grocery shopping day. I shopped for us and for 6 "Little Hearts" ladies we are helping--whew! I'm beat!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Pancho Villa and faithful sidekick, Sancho Panza

Tsagaan Sar

The lunar new year (or tsagaan sar, as they call it here) has come and gone and Spring is officially here. The weather is behaving accordingly and warming up quite nicely. There's still a bit of a chill in the air but it won't be long before the ice and snow melt and we're left with a huge mud puddle practically on our door step from the ice skating rink they made outside.

Anyway, We left Sunday afternoon for UB and spent the evening there with Hetee's grandma. She was overjoyed to see us and, in true Mongolian form, fussed over us with abandon. For those of you who are not familiar with Mongolian tsagaan sar traditions, here's a little run-down for ya.

Tsagaan sar 101:
Tsagaan sar, one of the main Mongolian holidays, is considered the holiday of the elderly. For 3 days, they reign supreme. Perched at the head of the table, surrounded by family and friends, they are doted upon and treated with lots of love and all the respect they deserve.

The food of choice? Meat dumplings or "buuz" are they are called in Mongolian. These are washed down with milk tea, a mixture of, you guessed it, milk and tea but with salt added. It's pretty nasty stuff. Many houses also serve, "airag", fermented mare's milk. mmmmm.

The tables are set with plates of buuz, a baked sheep's butt, and a pile of cookie type thingys with candies, dried milk curds, and other delicacies piled high on top of it. It really is quite a sight. (I'd have pictures but, once again I forgot to take them. Kenny was sick and fussy most of the time so my mind was not on taking pictures, sorry.)

After everyone has had all the buuz and potato salad they can handle, the shot glasses are brought out and filled with vodka. The host makes a toast and then the songs start. Each person must sing a song then take a swig of their vodka. It gets loud after a while, as I'm sure you can imagine.

After about an hour or so, everyone leaves and goes to the next elderly relative's house and the whole process starts all over again. We don't drink the vodka, but we are expected to eat the buuz and sheep butt and drink the milk tea. We visited 4 houses in UB, and 6 today in Darkhan. That adds up to a LOT of buuz and by the 4th house, I was feeling pretty sick. And when the host brought out a bottle of Chinese vodka that had a snake curled up in it, that pretty much put me over the top. Everything after that was a blur.

I still feel sick to my stomach when I think about all the buuz I ate. But seeing the joy on the faces of all those elderly people, including my Mongolian grandmother and aunts and uncles, makes me feel good inside. Our family really blessed them and made them happy and, in the end, that's all that matters, anyway.