A picture is worth a thousand words

This week I've gathered up a hodge-podge of pictures to document our life and activities in the last three months. There is a baby growing like crazy, family pictures at some cool places, snapshots of daily life, and more. I may have gotten slightly carried away. 
Kids playing on our apartment playground this morning (recess!) 

Restaurants:  Top--it's fairly common to have comfortable chairs and couches at the tables in restaurants, which is good because when I ordered a potato dish at the restaurant pictured, they told me it would take 90 minutes to prepare!  I changed my order.  Bottom left--Burger King sells beer.  Pretty much everywhere sells beer, and it's cheap!  Bottom right--Mikayla eating Draniki, potato cakes with sour cream.

Top:  Ethan listening to an audio book on the windowsill.  These windowsills are perfect for sitting, and they make me want to get lots of potted plants!
Bottom left:  Eating dinner on our closed in balcony.  It's too cold out there now, but we really enjoyed eating out there for the first month or so.
Bottom right:  Kids helping cook.  In general our time here has been really good for the kids when it comes to learning responsibility and helping out around the house.  Three kids helping cook at the same time though...not quite so helpful!  But worth it 😊

In September, we took a train to the Minsk Sea (it's really a lake) for an American Football game! The Minsk Zubrs won!

Left:  Kids with a dancer at Minsk's 950th anniversary celebration
Right:  With the bird woman statue by the market.  She is supposed to be feeding the birds. It makes me think of Mary Poppins every time I see it.

Park Challuskincau is one of our favorite parks here.  Mikayla had my phone while we were there once, and this is what I found πŸ˜‚  Right after the picture of Abigail was taken, I realized that the thing she is sitting on was only connected to one of the five poles holding it up. yikes!  We can't wait to go back and see this gorgeous park in the snow! 

Visiting the National Library.  We went the first time with some friends.  The girls are almost exactly the same age as our three oldest kids.  Later, we went back to see it in the dark.  The bottom left is a huge book in front of the building.

We missed school pictures, so cell phone pictures in the park will have to suffice. Mikayla is NINE years old!
Johanna didn't cooperate; I have lots pictures of the top of her head as she crawled over to get my phone.

Abigail. Four years old!

Ethan at six and a half.  He posed himself!

Let's get pictures of the kids they said.  It will be fun they said.  Three out of four looking at the camera is pretty good, right?

Painting on water (Ebru) class taught by my friend Maria.  The kids discovered that "paper, rock, scissors" is basically the same in both languages.
Heritage Museum:  I just can't get over the beautiful leaves.  Also pictured is Sidney, another American here with a Fulbright Teaching Assistantship

See Ethan running off to the side? A minute later I looked over and he was on top of a decorative well, receiving angry looks from a worker. 

Mir Castle:  One of the kids' favorite things so far.  That's Mikayla in chains in the dungeon.

Nesvizh Castle/Palace
Bottom right:  We had to put shower caps over our shoes to go in to the fancy part of the castle.

Johanna is suddenly into everything!

The Museum/Park of Stones: 20 minute walk from our house.  Lots of stones to jump and climb on, more beautiful leaves.

I get a little camera crazy in such beautiful surroundings (and with such cute kids)

The sequence of events when we watched CUC Live for the first time.  I'd say they were slightly excited!

Smoking laws are different here...
Just kidding πŸ˜‰ It's dry ice popcorn!

A little science museum with some optical illusions. Or maybe we just had ice cream one too many times and they are bouncing off the ceiling.

One of the best things about the playgrounds here is that they all have a merry-go-round and/or a see-saw!

Growing up soooo fast.  She loves, loves, loves looking out the windows! 

Happy Birthday Johanna!

Grodno visit: Abby kissing a baby buffalo.  We tried to take a selfie at a castle, but Abigail and Johanna kept crying, so we all pretended to cry...Steve and Mikayla look pretty happy though.

Belarussian doll making class at the Museum of Miniatures 

The octopus turned one on Halloween.  She celebrated with a unicorn, Ninja Turtle, and bat.

You know, just playing on the castle ruins.  And, yes, Steve is threatening to throw Ethan over the edge.

In Grodno

More Grodno

At home, top, Ethan reading to Abigail and Johanna.  Bottom: The kids have discovered the joy of coloring while listening to audio books.  Epic books has been a life saver!  I think being together in a foreign country has been good for the kids' relationships with each other as well.  They still fight, of course, but they seem to have bonded more strongly in the past few months. 

Horse show!  Abigail chose to ride a pony.  Mikayla and Ethan chose to do that massive inflatable slide.  Everyone agreed that the ballerina horse was their favorite.

Just cause she's cute 😊

A friend of Steve took us to B......askkdka Reserve.  The bison ate out of our hand and the buck tried to attack Steve!

We got a little Christmas tree and a few ornaments.  I've been surprised at how much Christmas stuff is around here!

Then there was that time we tried to take a Thanksgiving vacation trip to Vilnius, Lithuania, but the border patrol escorted us off the train when they found a problem with our visas.  We ended up spending Thanksgiving at a train station in the middle of nowhere, playing Go Fish and eating crackers.

Our flopped Vilnius trip turned into a "Thanksgiving stay-cation" and was pretty fun!  There are play places like this all over the city!