Life on the Mekong and Other Rivers

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog, including strong statements in support of weinerdog-riding monkeys, are our own, and not those of the U.S. Department of State or the U.S. government.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Birthday Party

Because our little tyrant had his birthday on Tuesday, we decided to have a small party for him today. Small became large, then large became huge, then huge became unwieldly. 15 kids, 17 adults.

But, there were moments of calm...

...and a delicious cake decorated by what is clearly a person with vast, VAST experience with cake decoration...

...and then there was cake eating...

...and hugs...

...and chaos...

...and chaos with balloons...

...and at the end of the day, there was a tired 2 year old eating cake crumbs off the floor.

Pretty much just as we planned it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Jack gets his guitar --

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Jack is 2!

This morning he celebrated with Larissa - who bought him a tea set. Delicious tea for everyone.

And we had a special birthday pancake breakfast.

We like pancakes so we did a little pancake dance.

And then this evening we had an actual birthday cake.

In addition to all the other great presents, Jack got himself his very own guitar.
So we had to try it out. What kind of music? Fast, of course. Fast currently means Green Day, as it has for the past few months.

Update from Katherine: To Uncle Matty from Jack -- feel free to steal some of my sweet moves.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunset Bar no more...

Pictoral evidence of the Sunset Bar's demise.

It looks like the center - and an extension they put on in 2007 - fell down, but the far right side...

...and part of the entrance area survived.

The detritus of our beloved bar.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Rada Politics

An interesting day at the Rada yesterday.

Note the guy in the suit in front on the balcony with the woman in orange. Yes, I'm the guy pointing to my colleague that we should get out of the way as Party of Regions MPs enter the diplomatic balcony to confront BYuT MPs in the area where the computers that control the voting machines are.

And to see more of what happened.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Rada doesn't stop for American Holidays

I may have the day off, but the Ukrainian Parliament is in session, so I'm following its activities to see whether I need to head over.

The Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc (BYuT) is helping me continue my day off by once again blocking the Rada rostrum to not allow votes to go forward.

The article says the faction members blocked the rostrum and wedged chairs against the doors through which Rada leadership enters the chamber. The Rada is, therefore, currently on break.

Thanks, guys.

A relaxed Veterans' Day (for me) continues apace.

And tonight, American Chamber of Commerc presents - QUANTUM OF SOLACE... If our Bond movie karma continues, something will keep me from seeing the movie tonight.

Time to take my special lady friend to lunch at a chinese restaurant.

Monday, November 10, 2008

More than a Quantum of Solace... be found on Khao Lak.

Yes, we have decided to return to Khao Lak, Thailand for a mid-winter break from Kyiv in February.

Last time we were there, February 2002 (Khao Lak, not Thailand, obviously), we were unmarried, childless, and hanging with friends from New York.

This time we are actually contemplating inviting Vone down from Vientiane to take turns watching Jack to give us time off. We're such grown up bourgeois people.

In between, Khao Lak was almost completely destroyed by the December 2004 tsunami. It was probably the hardest hit part of Thailand.

But they've rebuilt, and so we will return.

Plus, we're going to head North to Vientiane for a week to see old friends and reintroduce ourselves to Lao food, Lao language, and Lao $5 massages.

Sadly, our beloved Sunset Bar finally succumbed to the flood waters of the Mekong. Historically high water in August (which included flooding in Luang Prabang and Vientiane) weakened the laughably inadequate supports, and a few weeks ago it finally collapsed. We are told it happened in 8:00 am and noone was injured. The owners say they will rebuild. Hopefully they will have rebuilt by February.

And yes, I am going to see the new Bond movie tomorrow.

Happy 233rd Birthday Marines

The Marine Corps was established on November 10, 1775. Each year, they celebrate their birthday with a party on or around November 10 wherever Marines are stationed. Because Marine Security Guard (MSG) detachments guard embassies around the world, a Marine Ball is held in many countries.

Kyiv's Marine Ball was on Saturday, so we got all dolled up and went out for a night on the town.

The Ambassador is the guest of honor at Marine Ball's held by MSG detachments.

Here is Ambassador Taylor with yours truly and my lovely bride of (almost) 5 years.

I've learned that there are no ex-Marines. Once a Marine, always a Marine. So here we are with Sargeant Jaco (MSG and party planner), retired Marine Cliff and former Marine and Marine Reservist Mark. The latter two are now in the Foreign Service.

After the solemn ceremony commemorating the history and heroism of the US Marine Corps...

....things started to devolve.

Garett was tired. I was kind enough to give him a ride.

Semper Fi!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Papa, Bunny & Aunt Max

Aunt Max

Loving the grandparents!

We had lots of fun last week with Papa, Bunny (sometimes called Mimi) and Aunt Max -- and by we I mean Jack and I (Katherine) because Phil was hit hard by the flu on Tuesday and slept until Friday at 3 just as his in-laws departed Kyiv. Coincidence? I think not, he missed lots of fun.
Thanks for coming Papa, Bunny and Aunt Max (she came all the way from California!).

Wednesday, November 05, 2008