Posts tagged Christmas

Merry Christmas!

brighter threesomeWe have nearly wrapped up the year of 2017 and preparing now for 2018.  We came back on Saturday to cold weather in Minnesota after enjoying two weeks of family and friends in warm Arizona.  When we left we had set the house at the temp of 55 degrees. Imagine our surprise when we got home to a house that was 40 degrees!  The plants were mostly all frozen, except of those hearty ones in the bay window.  The toilet was frozen and the kitchen sink nobs for cold and hot would NOT move, frozen!


We made the best of it but spent all of Christmas Eve in town with the folks.  How nice to go to two services at my folks’ church and then celebrate afterwards with a nice beef roast dinner.  Of course, we had to play dominoes after that and the novice of the group, my brother Tony won.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Thankfully someone my Mom knew came out to look at our plumbing situation.  He will come back tomorrow in order to fix the problems we have.  All is ending better than we thought.  It turned out to be a more expensive two week vacation than we bargained for!


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Another Christmas concert in fieldhouse

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis Christmas concert has been a tradition for MANY years, even before I was born. My parents paid for the tickets for Ken and I to go and we had our bus ride with about 25 other people paid for also.  What a wonderful time to get to the fieldhouse an hour before so I could walk through my old alma mater.  The campus has added many new buildings since I attended 40 years ago.

There were FOUR choirs in different colored robes and there must have been at least 400 singers with an orchestra of about 50 members.  The audience in the bleachers must have been at least that and on the floor of the gym where I used to play badminton and watch basketball games, there must have been another 400-500 people.  In total, there was probably about 2,000 people in this fieldhouse that serves the college as a sports place throughout the school year, but in December it is a wonderful concert.


How nice to go to a restaurant afterwards with the 25 other people and enjoy Christmas caroling before we ate.  My folks are in their 80s but they look much younger.  A great way to celebrate the new holiday season! My Mom is wearing her Norwegian sweater while my Dad is wearing his usual bolo tie.  They met as singers at voice lessons and the rest is history.


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Working as a “volunteer” all day

Carnegie Nov. 28 concertTypical Saturday and I spent most of it inside our Carnegie building getting it prepared for the next fundraising concert on Nov. 28th.  Time is of essence as there is MUCH to do to prepare both levels as opposed to just one! Now we will have our guests come in the back entrance and then take the internal stairs.  Usually, we have had everyone approach from the large west entrance.  But now we will be able to have the choirs risers right up against the doors as people would normally enter.  Instead of having to make sure that the stairs are snow and ice free we will have all people go around to the back.


THAT MEANS to have the back area that has been typically used as a place to put junk and get that to look nice for people to see and get in the Christmas mood of things. We will have Christmas caroling to begin with and then at 7:30 will be one of the choruses, either men’s or women’s.  We will also have the string orchestra (with me playing violin) and the university’s pop chorus.  It should be a very nice fundraiser.

HOWEVER, in the meantime, I have primed the walls that lead to the bathroom and up the stairs and there was a LOT of moving of heavy tables and doors and other things. It was a 2 or 3 person job in some cases.  I’ll go back tomorrow to keep working on things before we have a full crew coming to help next Sunday.


I should have taken a BEFORE photo of this because it really looked bad before this.  There were wooden tulips and cobwebs and it looked frightful!   I will show more photos later.

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Well, would you look at that!

…end of the year already!  Indeed, we have already turned the 2016 calendar to the last month of December and that will go into overdrive with all the activities that have to happen before the end of the year. I just started having my comp students do their powerpoint presentations today, four of them.  They were all good, however, two read from their note cards, one had good eye contact using a Prezi presentation and the last one did the best. However, I didn’t agree with his topic or the position he took. Just the same, he did an outstanding job, he is my top student in that class.

Then afterwards I met with a student who is failing and it would seem that she does NOT quite understand some of the important APA formatting rules that I had already gone over with her in Paper 3. I’m flummoxed by how some of these students seem like normal, nice kids but they do NOT seem to connect with key concepts.  I found out that I am not the only one experiencing this as a teacher to these freshmen students. Other teachers have commented on the same thing.  Okay, that means these students that were born just before the turn of the century have something else going on in their upbringing? Or is it their education?

We have students from all over the country and I have another class with mainly Korean and Chinese students.  My three Korean students are getting top grades and they understand the concepts I have given them.  Getting back to my one student who is failing, she may just give this class a drop and do it over again next fall.  In any case, she told me she is not doing well in her other classes either.  I think she needs to just focus on those classes so she doesn’t fail on all of them as well.

I have ONE more week of teaching and then I need to start working on my historical grant that I was awarded and write on things relevant to my region of the state. Not much is known about our farmers working the rich agricultural soil. Unfortunately, we are so out of the way for people 4-5 hours from us to the south. I kind of understand and can relate to what the people in Kazakhstan must feel like with the rest of the world. I know they are hyper sensitive to either being ignored or not given the respect they should have with their long traditions and rich history. In a small way, that is what it feels like to be from this area of the “fly-over” country where our voice is not heard or at least disregarded by those elites in a crowded city setting who are the “big shots” and seemingly call all the shots.

Okay, enough of my grousing, I should really turn in for the evening. I have Christmas cards that I am writing out. Today I mailed out about 35-40 and I have about 25 more to write.  My husband has about 60 of his own to write but he is on a different schedule than me.  I have packing and Christmas presents to put together.  At the end of the month we will drive with my folks to see my brother and his family in Wisconsin and celebrate his birthday on Dec. 31st.

More about my Christmas vacation plans later.   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Today is everyone’s holiday, yesterday was our holiday too

Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our 20th anniversary, we met in Almaty, Kazakhstan on May 2, 1993 and were married the following year Dec. 24, 1994.  Seems like a LONG time ago but we made the 20 year mark after having lived in Kazakhstan, then Washington D.C. area, then Kyiv, Ukraine for about seven years.  Then in 2007 I started this “Kazakhnomad” blog in Almaty, Kazakhstan when we returned to live and teach in Kazakhstan again.  If you have never been to Kazakhstan, there are photos taken of this amazing country by a very professional photographer.  Check this URL out:

Today is everyone’s holiday for those who believe that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Israel. My husband and I went there 20 years ago on our honeymoon along with many other historic sites throughout Israel.  Yes, besides those who are Christian, many others celebrate this holy day of Christmas but they take the Christ out of OUR holiday by putting in Santa Claus and reindeer and jingle bells, etc.  It is as ludicrous as having chocolate bunnies and eggs for Easter but that is what people who are nonbelievers do.  They want to have a celebration about something so they chime right in with banal extras. They don’t REALLY believe they exist but they make up this fiction to feel good about something.

The sad part about what Christmas has become is that people give each other gifts and some of them are way too expensive and probably not even wanted by the receiver of the gift.  I suppose they are trying to replicate what God did in giving us His Son to die on the cross for our sins.  Jesus was born to die on the cross as a punishment.  We deserved what happened to Jesus because of our sin. Yes, I guess that is difficult for some people to absorb, they think the kids won’t understand it either or that it is too gory.  The truth of the matter is that many people throughout the world live in poverty and can fully relate to the story of Jesus’ parents being too poor to have a proper place to have a delivery of a child. Indeed, Jesus was born in a barn with animals in it.

The nonbelievers also think that the crucifying of Jesus is too horrible to tell young children so they bring in fluffy, white bunnies and color eggs instead.  When kids who are living in abject poverty learn about an innocent person being punished, they can probably relate…many kids are sold into slavery or treated terribly because of their living conditions and lack of education.  Therefore, it is deemed good news for these children to know about a Savior who loves them…loves them enough to die on the cross for them.

Well, I am about ready to wrap up another year regarding what I see, observe, know about Kazakhstan.  It isn’t so much these days after living away from this great country.  However, I have many people who still hit on this blog so I will keep it up.  You never know, I may be writing my book about Kazakhstan soon.  I may have some free time in the future that I will use to reveal in English about a little known country.  Almost as little known or maligned as the true Christmas story of Jesus birth which we celebrate today.

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December Christmas Decorations at the Carnegie

Right now I am in class with my dutiful composition students typing away on their post-assessment of the semester.  They all NEED the 25 points that this task is worth, that is, if they answer all the questions correctly.  In the meantime, I am about to leave them to themselves so they can finish this assignment on their own while I go off with two of the students to the Carnegie building.  This is for my other comp lab class that actually thought of this assignment to do as a kind of “field trip.”  Anything to get out of class, right?  I didn’t tell them that they will have to look at the traveling exhibit that is there at the Carnegie and answer the 14 questions that I composed so that I KNOW that they read the material.

I have had a pretty good semester with very compliant students but this 1:00 p.m. class has been a challenge.  They are very diverse and needy in some respects. The mature ones I tried to get out of this challenging class to an earlier class I taught. The ones who are not prepared for college are still in this class with the exception of a few.  The antsy ones play off of the others but after enough disciplining, they are by now ready for the rest of their college career.  I have had them write papers on human trafficking and that was after they downloaded the FREE e-book version of Two Kyrgyz Women.  I have harped on them about APA formatting style and researching with good keywords.  They know about that now but many of them had learned MLA formatting in high school, if they learned that at all.  Some came with grammar errors and others came with persistent punctuation or spelling problems.  They are all good kids at heart.

Anyway, in about two minutes I will leave this group of 16 students to their own devices.  I must trust them but I will get a report from the student who gathers up the 700 word self assessment.  I will have a GREAT time with my other composition class who are ready, I hope, to put up the Christmas decorations in the Carnegie.  We will have three Christmas trees to put up.  Lots of icicle lights and also more ornaments and about ten wreathes.  We will have the local newspaper over to take photos of this event.


Back from the “field trip” and all 16 students showed up and two others from the historical society were on hand. We had a photo of the 19 of us for the paper and then some of them had to get back to campus for their other classes of the day.  We stayed on until 5:30 p.m. after being there since 1:30 p.m.  It went very well with the kids all pitching in and stringing the lights around the pillars and others putting the 3M plastic up to keep the cold air out.  It should be looking nice for Friday night after people read about it in the newspaper tomorrow.

The kids were READY to help because they didn’t want to work on the 14 question worksheet that I had given them.  They got half done with that. I found out that the 15 kids I left behind were very diligent and wrote and wrote so that they can have extra points.  I will have all these papers slipped under my door for me to find tomorrow morning.  Tomorrow I will have the students do their powerpoint presentations on their final research paper.  I am in the home stretch and feeling good!

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Happy Anniversary this Christmas Eve

With my latest blog entries dedicated to what my expat friends think of Kazakhstan, I thought I’d take a break and show photos that I took recently.  Today I was all absorbed in Christmas Eve preparations that I almost forgot that it was our anniversary as of 16 years ago.  So, I should show photos of Ken and me…nah.  I’d rather show photos of other people than us.  We want to celebrate those who make Kazakhstan special for us, like the children.  They are so special and Christmas to me is about babies and children because of the One who was born over 2,000 years ago.

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More Photos from “The Grinch” (Part II)

I planned to show photos from our Language Center work party last night but I’ll do that tomorrow.  Instead, I have other photos to share with little anecdotes.  I’m very much in the Christmas shopping mood, I just bought 10,000 tenge ($66) worth of warm clothes at the second hand stores by the Green Bazaar. (Three turtleneck sweaters and a suit jacket) Also, I bought a festive, green Kazakh vest off the sidewalk from one of the vendors.  I’ve already bought gifts for family members back home.  I’m anticipating having parties with some of my work colleagues and maybe some students who live in Almaty.  I have gifts to give them under my little tree from Poland that I bought at the Green Bazaar two Christmases ago.

In keeping with the Grinch theme where he stole all the gifts and the tree and tried to steal away the Who village joy, I am showing not only MY Christmas tree but also a resident dog that belongs to our building.  At first I was scared of him (“once bitten, twice shy” applies with me) and he of me. But now we have become friends and I would miss him if anything should happen to him.  Usually he sits outside of the second floor door but sometimes he sits on my floor.  I haven’t fed him too much but we seem to have an understanding.  I don’t know his name but I call him “Happy.”  He is not much to look at but seems to have a very sweet spirit.  The dog in the play “The Grinch” was just as adorable, see yesterday’s posting.

Finally, below is a photo of my friend Kim AFTER the play in her Who get up.  She was a bridesmaid in my wedding 17 Christmas Eves ago and I was a bridesmaid in her wedding in 1990.  Somehow we both ended up here in Almaty, loving the Kazakh people and their culture.  There may be some of my detractors who claim at my place of employment that I don’t like the Kazakh people and that I hate the country saying that it is a garbage dump, but they are wrong!!!

At my office I have noticed something very interesting happen after I was “fired” or in other words, not re-hired.  The Kazakh teachers who are in my office are giving me small presents on the side.  Not making a big show of it because they don’t have the English skills to convey their caring for me.  They know the truth, they know that I have stayed in this great country of Kazakhstan over two years because I have GREAT hope for their nation.  Next week may be difficult to say goodbye to those who have made my stay at this university very meaningful.  One office is planning a special tea party for me.  Thank you ladies!  Now, here is Kim in her outfit, you can’t help but smile along with her.  Sure glad she didn’t wear this as a bridesmaid in my 1994 Christmas Eve wedding. She would have been banished from the group!

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Photos from Busy Holiday Celebrations

Thanksgiving was celebrated in full American fashion with dressing, turkey, mashed potatoes, salads, pumpkin and pecan pie, the WORKS!!!  Thanks to my long time friends from Minnesota, Kim and Erik, I was hosted with 30 other people. 

Almost like home where we sang and laughed and carried on, almost like I was back with my own family in Minnesota.  Thanks Kim and Erik and thanks for getting the bird, what a sacrifice he made! Now I have my Christmas tree up with all the decorations and have pulled out my Christmas cards from last year.  I’m ready to enjoy a less busy pace of life once all classes and meetings are done and grades turned in.  Tomorrow I’ll show the photos from the Culture Festival at our university where many of my undergraduate students participated.  Busy times, but fun ones as the Kazakhs celebrate Kurbanait or KURBAN AYT (Eid al-Adha) holiday today and tomorrow.

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Family Fun Fotos – Part II


These photos are compliments of my brother Tony who shot some real good poses.  Thanks Bro Toe!  Thanks Tora and Jeff for hosting and thanks Mom and Dad for creating such a wonderful family!

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