Thursday, January 24, 2008

How do I begin to describe the weirdness of the past few weeks? I guess it all started with the car trouble a couple weeks ago. Since then it's been one thing after another. I seriously don't know where to begin.

Let me just ell you about our trip to UB for the recording of the Eagle TV (Mong. Christian TV station) programs.

A few weeks ago, the Eagle TV people called and asked if we could come to UB and do some shows with them. They wanted us to talk about abortion and youth related issues. We were nervous but pretty excited as we prepared for our programs. During this time we were trying to get the car back in shape but things just kept getting worse on that score. So we decided to call and set up a taxi the night before.

We called a taxi driver's phone number and told him we wanted to leave at 7 am the following morning. He asked if we were joking because apparently this is a popular prank. Hetee assures him that we have a 10 am appointment in UB so we have to leave on time. The guy, still dubious, says he will call to confirm at 6 am. Hetee says, "great", then they hang up.

Six am rolls around and no phone call. Hetee tries calling the driver but his phone is off. So, at 6:30 we get a hold of another driver. At this point we're pretty desperate and get a woman taxi driver who assures us that she'll be right over to pick us up (we had Nate and Abi with us). Hetee asked if her car was ok, warm etc and she says all's ok.

So, we leave, and about an hour out of town, the car trouble starts. First the antifreeze froze. Then the engine overheated from the lack of antifreeze. We stopped at this little gas station and the crazy driver gets out to check under the hood. Then she gets back in the car and recons that if she goes in reverse, the antifreeze will defrost.

We get back on the highway, backwards, and proceeded to drive to UB in reverse. Try explaining that to your preschoolers while trying not to hyperventilate. Hetee only has to say 2 words: Blog material. Smarty pants. He then chides the driver, in a very nice and polite way, that she should have put Russian antifreeze in her car and not the cheap Chinese one. She spouts back that it's cold outside and everyone is having the same problem. Not true, as evident by the heavy traffic we later encountered in UB.

"Could it get any worse?", you say. Yes it can, and it did rapidly. The transmission gave out, apparently and we stopped yet another time for her to tinkle under the hood again.

Nate: "Why are we stopping again?"
Me: (sarcastically rolling my eyes) "Because it's so much fun."

The car eventually started up, just when I was contemplating putting an extra layer of clothes on the kids. From that point on, in order to not over heat the car, the driver would get it to the top of a hill, put it in neutral and we'd coast down until we were going like 40 km per hour, then she'd start it back up and we'd go until we got to the next hill. This went on for about 7 hills. By this time we're an hour late. The only thing keeping me from complaining my butt off is I want to be a good example to the kids. So I keep my exasperated remarks to myself, as much as I can.

Nate: "Mom, the other day I rode one of those stairs that moves"
Me: "Escalator?"
Nate: "Yes, that's it!"
Me: "Well, how was it?"
Nate: "It was ok. But it kind of freaked my feet out."

Hetee: (addressing the driver) "So, uh, what's the name of this hill?"
Driver: "Oh, you NEVER say the name of a hill while you're driving on it. It's bad luck; any real driver knows that!"
Me: (In mock seriousness) "Well, that's good to know."

As we drive on, the driver starts telling us stories from over 30 years as a driver. She once drove a BMW in from Germany and almost got car jacked by Russians with AK 47's. That sounded better than the day I was having so far.

An hour and a half late, we arrive at the TV studio. The kids await Hetee's dad to take them to the circus while I get changed and throw some make-up and jewelry on. At this point, I'm so nervous I can taste it.

We go on set and start filming. Hetee was great and did most of the talking at first. I warmed up little by little and by the time the abortion questions started coming in, I was amazed to see how easy it was! I didn't want it to stop!

But, the time came to wrap it up and get going. We decided to go and get a late lunch and wait for the kids to finish at the circus. While we were eating at the "UB Deli", a drunk guy drifted in and asked Hetee to read him the menu, as it was an American-style restaurant. He then said I was beautiful then asked for money.

Me: (muttering under my breath) "This day is bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s..."

The craziness didn't end there (I still didn't tell you about peeing in a bucket with a room full of people but maybe you didn't have to know that) but I do have to end my story. It's late and I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

For Twila

Twila is my package exchange buddy whom I met via this blog. Most recently I sent her a camel wool shawl in exchange for all kinds of cake and cookie decoration goodies from the US. I'm always having trouble emailing pictures so I thought I'd post them here. That way, everyone else can enjoy them, too. =)

Kenny had so much fun shaking, stacking and knocking everything down again! Abi and Nate and I got started on a batch of cookies right away and tried out our fun, new cookie cutters. =)

I'm so thankful for a new friend! (And a house that's warm enough for Kenny to wear shorts and a muscle shirt in the middle of winter!)

Reluctant Puppy Owners. Again.

This time of a dalmatian--a gift from a man who goes to our church. Well, the mother is a dalmatian but the father, he's anyone's guess.

Here's Lucy. She's very sweet and smart and already a part of the family. Kenny calls her "Juicy".

Nate was at our Pastor's house in Ulaan Baatar the first few days we had Lucy, so Abi got to spend a lot of one on one time with her. They really bonded and now, Lucy follows her everywhere and has come to love Abi's blankie as well.

Kenny, trying to coax a sleepy Lucy out of her favorite spot with some fish crackers

Oh yeah, does anyone have any good tips for house training a puppy in -30 degree weather?