Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Day 30-The Little Things...

Maria's view-

Dude was so happy this morning.  He kept a constant pleasant little smile on his face for our entire visit.  We found a swing and claimed it because all of the groupas were outside today.  It was near to Griffin's old play shed and we enjoyed watching all of the children in his old groupa.  Griffin seems to recognize them and enjoyed watching them as well.  Do you remember the adorable twins that I told you about?  I believe they must be orphanage favorites because they were allowed to roam about while the others had to stay in the play shed.  They would come over to Griffin and talk to him, Griffin would smile and wave.  It was so adorable. 

In this groupa, there is a blond headed, beautiful girl with Down syndrome that is not listed on RR.  I would never know that she has Down syndrome if it weren't for her facial characteristics.  She is a typical toddler, playful, active, verbal, and would make a wonderful daughter for someone.  I am going to see if there is any way for her to be listed if she is available for adoption.  She is so beautiful.  She would wave to us when she would see us looking, she would throw her toys out of the play shed in hopes that we would pick them up, yell at us to get our attention, and I love her to pieces!

Ollie from RR (Click HERE) was in the other play shed next to this one.  This little guy is so strong!  His profile says that he has a heart condition but it does not slow him down at all.  The nanny put him in a walker and then dumped out a bucket of toys in the middle of the play shed.  Well, he wanted one so he crawled out of the walker, landed on his head, and grabbed the toy he wanted!  Then he continued to play.  He was able to get back up into a seated position all by himself.  Again, he's so strong and very capable.  What an angel!

While we pushed Griffin in the swing, I pulled Giraffe Meat out of a grocery bag and handed it to him.  Well, he wanted G.M. and the bag.  He played with the bag as if it were a brand new toy.  His smile was huge as the wind would make it fly up in front of his face.  Then he would crinkle it all up, then shake it back out... He would also put G.M. in the bag, then shake him out into the dirt, of course. :-)  It is always the craziest kinds of stuff that kids love to play with the very most!  My 6 year old and 18 month old LOVES to play with a plain cardboard box that is sitting in the middle of our living room.  A BOX.  And Griffin enjoys shopping bags better than a toy.  It's the little things. :-)

Our visit went by pretty quickly because of everything going on around us.  It was very enjoyable to be surrounded by all of these cuties and I loved watching how happy Griffin was.  I hope he has this much fun with his sisters at HOME. :-)

So, we got the call today that we are to have court at 4:00 on Friday.  We will fly back to Germany on Saturday and I will get to see my Big G!  So excited!! Please start praying that court will go well!  Thank you!!

Chris's View:

Yeah, I am totally at a loss today.  What shall I blog about?  I guess I need to start taking requests LOL!

Let's do 9 Fun Facts about this place.  Yeah, I could have went 10, but I guess I am getting lazy!

1. They wear their wedding ring on the ring finger of their right hand instead of their left hand.

This might be mistaken by some people in America, as I found out by looking on an Ehow page HERE.  It is such a subtle difference, but it is one that Americans could place an entire different meaning on if they saw it.  Anything from widowhood to sexual preference could be signified by a ring on the right hand ring finger in America.  While trying to find pictures of this for the blog, it was interesting that I found a picture of every category that was on the Ehow listing.  I decided to go with the one that I am referring to in my fact above.
2. On the train the toilet dumps on the tracks. Kind of weird to flush the toilet and see the ground below.
We experienced this first hand on our train ride from the capitol city to the region we are in.  We were on an overnight train, and the last thing our driver who took us to the train told us was to use the bathroom before we got too close to the city, as it becomes a sterile zone.  It is nasty when you think about it.  Many people travel along train tracks to get to civilization (well, at least that's what Bear Grylls says!).  I guess it saves a lot of money on having to service the train and things like that.  While we are on the subject, the toilet on the train was pretty odd too.  It had a foot lever to press to flush... at least I didn't have to touch anything in that nasty place with my hands... yes, it was GROSS!  This is not the toilet from our train in the picture... ours was stainless steel all over the bathroom, I guess so they could just hose down the entire room without having to put any effort into scrubbing it.  I guess it could be worse, it could have been the one in the picture, where it looks like they don't clean at all!  LOL!
3. They speak two languages, and it is not uncommon to hear a single conversation where one person is speaking 1 language and the other person is speaking the other language.
They have an official language here, but being part of the former Soviet Union, there are many people here who have retained the Russian language.  The two languages are pretty similar from what I understand, but they are still different nonetheless.  Here's a little cheat sheet I found for Russian Cyrillic... or you can paste this whole blog into Google Translate and have a blast trying to learn the language!  The national language is one of the most melodic in the world apparently.  From personal experience, it doesn't sound that melodic while they are speaking it, especially when they seem to be yelling at each other when they speak.  It is hard to even think in our driver's car when he or our facilitator is on the phone... it's like they are yelling at the party on the other side, like they just did something insanely wrong, like drown a puppy or something!
4. Christians are forbidden from playing cards, it's considered gambling.
Not a shocker here until you think that under Communist rule, religion was seen as a problem to the leadership, so they abolished most religious places & events in the Soviet Union.  Many churches were destroyed by the Communists, their valuables sold or melted down to support the regime.  It has made an amazing comeback since this country got it's freedom.  Russian Orthodox is the main religion, and everyone has icons of patron Saints with them.  I wonder though, if they play cards with these religious ones could it be considered religious training?  Maria brought up a good point... even Solitaire is could be viewed as "playing cards".  LOL!  It is pretty interesting that I have been in so many different countries and seen their religious across the years I have served in the military, and while there are some that don't, most take their religions way more serious than Americans do... unfortunately, this also means I have seen my share of fundamentalists, but those were mainly when I deployed to hot, sandy environments!

5. You have to pay to use the restroom in public places, but at least there is toilet paper, thanks in part to McDonald's teaching people that it is better to be sanitary and bring in slightly less money.
Thank you McDonald's!  LOL!  I have shown pictures of the "squatty potties", but could you imagine the nastiness if there was no toilet paper?  McDonald's was the main reason for this change.  After years of study, and many years of proper toilet training, the owners of the company determined that people don't get sick as often if they wash the poopka off their hands before consuming their meals (big shocker there, huh?)!  They lobbied the government to make toilet paper readily available to all people to help cut down the instances of dysentery & Hepatitis A.  It worked, and now you can buy a 4 pack of TP at most stores for around $1.00... look at America... Westernizing the world 1 bathroom at a time!
6. Bread and mayonnaise are consumed at about every meal.
I read a blog that this place is in what is called the cult of bread.  Bread holds a sacred part of worship and rituals in this culture.  I did not understand at the time, but when we were in the capitol looking around, we kept seeing magnets that had a loaf of bread, some salt & what looked like a piece of bacon on it.  It is this exact thing that is offered to people when they come to a home for dinner here in this country, prior to the meal.  It is a symbolic welcome and blessing on the guests.  Mayonnaise though, is a different story.  I don't understand that one, but what I can say is that the Karavan has a Wall-o-Mayo!  LOL!  By the way, yes, that is a loaf of bread here, though we have not seen anything near that elaborate... I'd like to though, it looks delicious!
7. Commas are used as decimal points instead of periods.
This is not unique here, but it is different from the US.  The comma is used as a numerical place separator in many European cultures.  Just a subtle nuance.  You can actually change many Microsoft products to do this if you just really want to see what it looks like... or, you can just look here.....  $4,99 = $4.99... see, I told you it was subtle.
8. You have to pay for plastic bags at the grocery store.
I discussed this briefly in yesterday's blog.  Many places in Europe are doing this now.  I think there may be a couple places in the states doing this, but it really hasn't caught on.  As Americans, we like the convenience.  If a place starts charging for plastic bags, it just might drive away business.  It's a heck of a lot better for the environment though.  The fee is nominal to the US traveler, but I can imagine that to the people here that make wage, remember, it's about $350 per month for the average salary, it could add up quite a bit.  We saw a young boy walking home with an unwrapped loaf of bread yesterday, and it was shoved up in his armpit... no bag or nothing! Yeah, I can imagine that dinner... bread & underarm cheese!  Yummmmmmm!  Sign me up!  LOL!  Also different, since we are talking groceries, in Europe, the rear wheels of your shopping cart are not set, the caster around just like the front wheels.  Makes for some fun rides for the kiddos!
9. People don't smile at you or say Hello when you pass them on the street; they keep a very straight face.

This is something that we dealt with when we first got to Germany, but it is not nearly as bad here.  I think it is taught here, where in Germany, the locals soften up once they get to know you or see that you are genuinely friendly.  It's not all Germans, but it seems like it is ALL the people here.  The younger people don't even seem to acknowledge your existence on the street, while the older people seem to almost glare at you... I guess to see if you are going to pay respects to your elders or something.

Okay, so you talked me into it...

10.  The rate of alcohol use by teenagers is higher here than anywhere else in the world.

Ummm... maybe the word teenager is thrown around too much in this country.  Everything I have found, kids, yes children, can drink here starting at 10 years old.  They can legally purchase alcohol as CHILDREN... wow, what a difference from the US, where teens, yes teens, have to go to the county line gas stations to have a remote chance anymore of getting boozed.  It is estimated that 70% of kids get their first drink from their parents, and that 60% of child poisonings are alcohol related.  This is partly due to there being no differentiation between low-dose & high-dose alcohol like in many other European countries where teens are allowed to drink.

Hope ya'll enjoyed it... see ya'll tomorrow!

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