Saturday, September 24, 2016

Nighty-night notes and time travel

Before I get in bed for my sleep shift, there are two last letters I have to write.

1) The first is to write in my prayer journal. Unloading some needless worries is a pretty good way to end the day! It can get a little lonely taking turns with the kids instead of with each other, especially at night. So I have to spend a little time with Someone who helps lift that loneliness.

2) The other is kind of a fun one: I leave notes under David's pillow. Once he's asleep, I join him later for a few hours while Andrei is with the baby. I have to admit, David's bed is pretty comfy! But I also like to snuggle with him while I still can and just enjoy him without a baby sister interrupting (although she does eventually interrupt when Andrei brings her in for a feeding).

He always asks who's going to sleep with him, but most of the time he would never know I was ever in his bedroom. So I got the idea to leave a note for him, kind of like the Tooth Fairy! Last night I actually did one with his Invisible Ink pen. In general they say the same thing each night, but it's the thought that counts! Sometimes it feels like we're all in different time zones, overlapping at times to all be awake together. And at other times, watching each other sleep.

Pillow note

Thursday, September 22, 2016

5 years (before and after)

Andrei and I had our 5th wedding anniversary this summer. Sophia was already 5 days late at that point, so we went on a (last?) date.

I also came to the realization that we've been together 6 years (more about that sometime), while I've lived in Russia for 12 years...

...6 years with Andrei and 6 "without" (though he was a good friend).

...6 years as a single missionary, 1 courting, and 5 years as the wife of a preaching elder.

...7 years in children's ministry, and 5 with my own little cherub.

My perception is that the first 6 years went by much more slowly, and the second 6 sped by. Life was busy and hectic as a single missionary in a big city, but days could also drag by as I wondered what would happen next...and most of all, whether I would get married. I had all the time in the world, but waited eagerly. I couldn't believe it took a whole 6 years to start dating, and now suddenly another 6 have passed????

They say time seems to go faster if you have kids, which makes sense considering all the milestones to keep track of. No year is the same, and you can never go backwards. In David's first year or two, we used to celebrate each new month of his life! And in just a few months, Sophia will be a completely different person.

When I feel sad about time passing quickly, I remind myself that we've ONLY been married 5 years and have only just scratched the surface of all life has to offer.

I was rereading "Letters to Karen" which I read while we were engaged. I think it is one of my favorite books on marriage because it has biblical values without being preachy. It's just personal anecdotes with advice from a father to his daughter, in letter format (hence the title).

I like this quote about continuing to get to know someone as you journey through life together:

"The beauty of a partial knowledge is what makes life with your loved ones so fascinating. It could exhaust you if you let it. But it can also keep your heart singing with the thrill of just being alive." (Shedd, p. 17 Kindle Edition)

It's a good reminder to go back to focusing on others in the way that courting couples focus on each other. "How can I make this person happy?" vs. "How can I make him/her understand me?" And of course, fuller knowledge of the Savior as a goal rather than being satisfied with what we already know. If you think you know someone, think again...or better yet, ask some questions.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The new typical Tuesday (AKA taking turns napping)

Andrei had one of his heavier teaching days today and also had to get up earlier. As he was about to leave, David woke up, and I had just spent the past 90 minutes or so settling Sophia, in anticipation of more sleep. Andrei set up David with a movie and set off for work. David loves TV time as much as any kid his age, but doesn't necessarily like it as a solo activity. For now he found an imaginary playmate and made some commentary periodically. But I can't say I got more sleep. A "survive until naptime" kind of day!

The next goal was to eat breakfast and look presentable before Babushka Nina (Andrei's mom) arrived. 2 hours goes by faster than you'd think! As I made myself some breakfast, I kept stopping to give David various menu items to keep him placated. So I only ate part 1 of my breakfast and then took David with me around to different rooms making beds and putting together an outfit. Of course every once in a while I would feed, burp or change Sophia, or put her back to sleep. She can still sleep a lot, though seems to be sensitive to noise.

David kept suggesting games which we didn't have time for, particularly something called "making a robot" which sounded pretty involved. We did finally read some books while I was nursing Sophia. A current favorite is a book about the Human Body, and skeletons were a big theme this summer.

Despite all that running around I only got half (of two) beds made, and was nursing Sophia when Nina arrived, so couldn't open the door for her. I had planned to quickly (haha) get everyone out the door for some fresh air before it got close to lunch/nap(cranky) time. However, David did NOT want to go outside. He wanted to see what Nina had in her purse for him, and there was a glow-in-the-dark dinosaur to play with. Then I changed the plan and decided it was too close to naptime to attempt a trip to the playground. "I want to go OUTSIDE" said David.

Sophia had just eaten, so took a nap while we had a little lunch (plus the other half of my breakfast) and tea with banana muffins. Then she was waking up and it was time to put David down for a nap. The way for me to get sleep to would be to lie down with David while Nina took care of the baby, since Sophia isn't always a quiet sleeper. However, I had to wait for Sophia to wake up first, so I had Nina start the process of putting David down for a nap.

After Sophia was all fed, I checked on David and he wasn't nearly asleep. He was very upset when I switched off with Nina even though I promised she would be there when he woke up. I just couldn't wait any longer to take a nap. Despite the neighbors hammering above us, he managed to fall asleep after about an hour, while I lay there wondering when the baby would be hungry again! I woke up at every creak and thump, but must have slept since I had some very interesting dreams.

When David and I woke up, we heard Andrei's voice! I had expected him a few hours later but it turns out his evening class was actually in the morning now and he'd told me already (no memory of that). So we had a nice surprise with him home earlier.

We were all settled in the kitchen having tea and snacks and I looked wistfully at the late afternoon sun and said we should probably just stay inside since everyone was content. "I want to go OUTSIDE!" said David. Andrei went to lie down and and Nina and I worked quickly to get David into some clothes before he changed his mind (coat/sweater/shirt/gloves layered just the right way). "I want to stay INSIDE!" said David. And sneezed 5 times in a row on both of us. But I quickly ushered them out the door and sat down at my computer!

Next time maybe I will leave everyone else at home and go outside for my own walk.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

2 kids and blogging

2016 has been quite the journey so far! I'm sure I've said it before, but I think some more journaling and blogging in my life would be beneficial.

We left for the U.S. shortly after my previous post, and only just returned to St. Petersburg. For some reason I don't end up doing a lot of blogging in the U.S. This is not for lack of news or cultural observations, but probably because I just don't get a lot of computer time and often go to bed around the same time as David, who turned 4 while we were away.

It seems anti-climatic, though, to sum up the whole summer in a few paragraphs. So I will have to go back and do some reflecting on some of those experiences.

For example, Sophia's birth story, perhaps? It was quite a positive experience in the end, so I certainly don't mind sharing, if she'll let me. ;)

And that is as much as comes to mind for an introductory post. Onward to more about the summer and everyday life.

Friday, May 13, 2016

A trip to the Russian trauma center

Last month, we had a church retreat. Amidst heightened emotions, some discussions were started that prompted church-wide prayer meetings to be held the following week.

I attended one of the prayer meetings, and found many prayers being lifted up for the elders of the church (Andrei et al) and their families. Prayers for protection against sickness, discouragement, and temptation. I was touched because I guess I don't often think of our family in terms of spiritual warfare. When we face challenges, to me it's more of a opportunity for personal spiritual growth, and I don't always think of it being a threat to our ministry. But of course much of what God does starts right in our own homes with our own families and roommates.

Let's see how that works...

The next day, David and I were sitting at the kitchen table watching a kids' show so that Andrei could do some work for a radio ministry. One minute we were sitting side by side, and the next minute David was suddenly under the table! He slipped on the chair's soft cover and slid right down. He has actually fallen several times, but this time he collided with the table's wooden pedestal, very hard and sharp-edged. He could have cracked his head open, but came up holding his shoulder.

I knew there could be a serious injury, but he stopped crying within a few minutes. And there was no blood! To me it was a miracle that his head and neck were okay. I had to think about the prayer covering and this a challenge to our family's ministry? Or a reminder that angels are watching over us? He's only 3.5, but there have been many times when he could have been hurt worse.

It was really hard to determine the extent of David's injuries because he is normally hyper-aware of his body. Another time he had fallen (from the same chair!) and gotten a scratch on his pinky. He was so scared when he saw a little blood! And he favored that finger for days, holding it up in the air. So here we thought that anyone would be a little sore after a similar fall. I even made him some Play-Dough to take his mind off it, and he used both arms/hands, but would periodically start crying, "my arm still hurts!" And he moped about. But then he would be fine for a while.

We got ready for bed, but in the middle of the night he woke up crying that it hurt to lie in a certain position, and he couldn't really turn over by himself. So we knew that we'd be headed to the doctor in the morning.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

French fries in Finland

This post turned out rather long, definitely don't have time for this every day! However, check out my IG feed for frequent snapshots.

David and I (and the other concerned family members) can check this year's border run off our to-do list...whew. Until we figure out if we're going to get permanent residency for him, the 3 yr visa requires him to leave the country every 6 months. Or rather, he's supposed to be just coming for 6 month visits, but he's allowed right back in.

The search feature on Blogspot isn't always the best, so here and here and here are previous border runs with David, and here is one of my own from way back in 2008. Oh yeah, and wayyy back in 2007, one of my first blog posts was about visiting Estonia.

Sometimes we try to make a little trip out of going to Finland, but for the past few years we have found that it isn't very relaxing for all the effort we put in. Plus, it tends to fall between February-April, not the nicest months for exploring any northern countries.

This time, I decided as an alternative method to ask another missionary friend of mine to go with me and David, instead of going through the visa process with Andrei to get into any Schengen countries. My friend has Canadian citizenship, so it would be easy for her to go, and we were counting on that.

Unfortunately, my friend had to rush to Canada due to a family emergency, right before our trip! We were already planning to go on the last day of David's registration, so there was nothing we could really reschedule, and as usual, it was too late to get Andrei a visa, so David and I were going to be on our own. It took some effort to get tickets, as well. I found conflicting information on various websites, and had trouble entering David's birthdate. So Andrei had to make a special trip to the train station to get the tickets, but it ended up being a lot cheaper than via the tourist agencies!

I had planned everything out to end up with an optimal schedule. I always remind myself of this when it appears as though we're completely disorganized. The good intentions were always there! In this case, I picked a later morning departure and then a train back that would have us home for bedtime. We chose a town just 2 hours away, to make for easy travel.

David woke up on his own just in time to get dressed and leave for the train. We were making good time, nothing to panic about. He did start melting down though when he realized Andrei wasn't going with us. David has been having a lot of separation anxiety lately and goodbyes can take a long time. I think today and possibly yesterday were the calmest he's been in a while about Andrei leaving for work and such, but if any part of the goodbye ritual is omitted, he gets quite upset (if so-and-so didn't wave the right way, etc.). He asks for me at bedtime after wanting Andrei and/or Babushka all day! Anyway, I had to take out our emergency toy in order to distract him so that we could say goodbye to Andrei at the train station.

Watching loads and loads of birch logs go by!