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Sleep Challenge: Week 1

The other day I stumbled upon an article offering X number of ideas for achieving Y. You know, ones that often turn out to be click-bait. In this case it promised tips for improving sleep quality: http://www.mommypotamus.com/sleep-tips/

I was pleasantly surprised to find some good ideas in there, as opposed to just time management ideas for making yourself go to bed on time.


A few that I can say I've already tried:

-taking Magnesium
-cutting out caffeine
-making the room dark for sleep
-getting some light exercise

Although I get around the same amount of sleep most nights, the quality varies. Sometimes I have trouble falling or staying asleep and other times I wake up in the morning unable to remember how the night went.


What I'm trying right now:

-switching computer to warm light in the evening with the software they recommend: https://justgetflux.com/
-getting out in the daylight earlier in the day (which is only possible before 3 or 4 pm)

Results so far: These sleep "ha…

Latest cooking fun

One thing that has made me happy lately is experimenting in the kitchen! And at other times going back to some simple comfort foods.

Every once in a while I like to treat myself to a trip to a different grocery store that is a little farther away and has more variety. It has a lot of imported products which of course can seem more familiar to me. But once I realized that my bill was nearly doubling, I decided to make it more of a special thing, or I get the staples at the regular grocery store and just go here for specialty items.

Recently I had a particularly satisfying trip where I treated myself to artichoke hearts, avocados, eggplant (imported) and frozen strawberries. I also bought some chickpea flour to experiment with. We don't have a "gluten-free" section or anything, but I do try to incorporate alternative items into our diet just to change things up. Oh, and I stocked up on oregano and cumin, two of my favorite spices that are sometimes hard to find.

Meanwhile…

Enough

If I've ever wanted to quit social media, it is now.

I have about 750 friends on FB, and most of the time I REALLY like all the different posts. There are definitely certain categories of posts that can be emotional triggers, depending on what I'm going through at the moment. But for all the chuckles and uplifting posts and fun photos, I don't mind one or two that are hard to read.

Lately, though...the negativity is winning. It has just seemed so...passive-aggressive lately, or something. I wonder if that's true or if I'm just in a phase where I'm sensitive to things like that.

A lot of times, the standard procedure is to post a quote, image, or link to an article that reflects the person's viewpoint. And it makes sense when what you want to say has already been wrapped up nice and tidy by someone else. But for someone reason this is where that passive-aggressive vibe comes into play for me.

A few months ago, it was Planned Parenthood. There were videos su…

Table for one

Today was a little bit of a crabby weird day! David had a screaming fit in the middle of the night and wouldn't tell us what he wanted. When we asked him in the morning of course he said he had wanted something like a snack, but why all the screaming??? Thankfully Andrei is always really patient with him, as I found the yelling physically painful.

Anyway, we were all a bit crabby in the morning, and Andrei was trying to finish some curriculum work that is incredibly draining and time-consuming. But David and I were in and out a lot, embroiled in various conflicts related to potty-training and the like. Yesterday's problem was that I couldn't get him dressed because he made his legs turn to jelly and wouldn't stand up!

David's new favorite game is for us to "switch" roles. He is Mommy and I am David. He gets to boss me around and it is pretty funny hearing his impressions of me! However, he somehow thinks of this game around bedtime. Then he gets to just …

Christian Education Rant

David has been more willing to attend Sunday school, which is his only school-like activity during the week. He is tolerant as opposed to enthusiastic, but no tears at least. Sometimes I wonder if it is very stressful for him, because he talks a lot about going home. After he spent some time with my MIL during worship, he had to keep tabs on where everyone was and make sure no one was going home without him. I told him we were going to go back upstairs to see the rest of the family after we did our Sunday school work. And I think he may see it as sort of a ticket to go home! But nevertheless, he is slowly adapting.

It has been fascinating to watch David's peer group develop, after years of teaching Sunday school myself. Preschoolers have the best comments, and very short attention spans! I shake my head just remembering how we kept trying to have "lessons" with them when they were only 2 years old. Of course there are older kids too, up to age 6 or 7. But there are 5 or…

How the week went

This week felt easier, but it didn't hurt that Andrei was home more! His weekly schedule alternates between lighter and heavier workloads, though of course there is always preparation to do for the next time.

I got more breaks, and took a walk every day, sometimes combined with grocery shopping. I got outside more than David did. After the latest (mutual) meltdown, I have not felt eager to venture out together again. I heard someone reference not "cutting corners," and I think that is so crucial with 2 and 3 yr olds. You have to leave lots of time for transitions. You cannot just stop playing and head from point A to point B. There is no such thing as squeezing in a quick activity, because you have to allow time for preparation and then easing out of it. (But of course if you have PLANNED for the activity to kill a lot of time, it won't. ;) )

Another thing accomplished this week was a closet renovation I'd been trying to get done for several months. David watche…

A City in Mourning

Last week's air tragedy was felt pretty deeply by the people of St. Petersburg. That's the impression I've gotten as I've seen the various posts and interactions that have come up in social media this week. Never-mind terrorism or the fact that the victims were just ordinary people on vacation (or that we flew into Pulkovo recently too). The mood has been more one of mourning.

As I said, I got a lot of these impressions through internet interactions. I didn't go downtown this week or venture beyond our neighborhood, so just by going about everyday life, I didn't see anything out of the ordinary. But bits and pieces started to come together as I saw what friends and acquaintances were writing.

One friend remarked how we (as residents of St. Petersburg) are all just a few links away from knowing someone who was on the flight (my paraphrase). And she went on to share the Gospel, for those who may be thinking more about Eternity at this point.

Sure enough, I did s…

Stateside

Our recent trip to the U.S. (which we arrived home from about 10 days ago) had to be timed very carefully, as it interrupted the school year. We also had the following to accomplish:

-travel before mid-October (when David's old visa would have run out)
-be in the U.S. in early October for my cousin's wedding on the West Coast
-arrive in the U.S. sometime before that, to get over jet-lag and get the visa application in the mail
-travel on a day when Andrei would be free to see us off
-be in the U.S. long enough for the visa to be ready, without having to expedite
-avoid arriving in Boston during a Red Sox game
-avoid early morning flights
-have Andrei arrive and fly back with us during a week when he has the fewest amount of lectures to reschedule


So, we did just that. Here is how we passed the time (sorry, can't get photos in order):






Estona-versary

3 years ago on this date (whoops, yesterday) we were sitting on a bus in the dark in an October snowstorm, crossing over the border from Estonia into Russia. David was not yet 4 months old, and needed a diaper change. There are so many things I remember about that trip, and you can read about them in this post if you want some background.

David's 3-yr Russia visa ran out this month, but instead of feeling annoyed at needing to get a new one, I've been marveling over all that has happened since then. And thankful that we decided to do it in the U.S. this year where David and I could be on familiar territory if anything went wrong.

But it didn't.

We actually got the new visa in plenty of time. It was a full 6 days before we were scheduled to fly back, SO anti-climatic.

I will say that a few questions came up, such as David's actual passport expiring in LESS than 3 years, so the need to imply that in the invitation. Thankfully we were able to find some good sources of in…

A little Russian healthcare before leaving...

No idea where the past month went, but I was planning for the past two weeks to be pretty productive, and instead I've been sick.

About 10 days ago, a virus hit our church (as usual). I started to feel weird about the same time, and before I knew it, I felt completely sapped of strength. Stayed home from church last Sunday and finally had to just put on some TV for David because I needed to lie down.

Then I waited for the usual cold symptoms to arrive. My eyes got reeeally red and watery, and I was sure the sniffles would be next. But instead I got this really specific type of pain in my throat, and once I checked in the mirror, I knew it wasn't just a cold...more like strep. :/

Andrei tried to make an appointment for me at the new fancy clinic just down the street. But unfortunately they were completely booked for the next day. Hopefully in an emergency they would have something.

However, the next place he called did have an opening. As I found the address, I realized that I…

Traveling (internationally) with a 3 yr old

Behind the scenes of our most recent getaway...


Basically been working on this post for a month now, and figured I'd better get it up before we travel again! (hint: in less than a week)


David turned 3 shortly before we went on our trip to the UK this summer. No more nursing this year, but still in diapers. Pickier than ever and co-sleeping more than before!

But on to the travel...


Plane/train/bus rides

As you've probably discovered when traveling with a young child, you have to plan ahead of time to make sure you have enough hands for all the pieces of luggage/gear. Out of "baby" gear, we only brought a stroller this time. We don't use a carseat on the plane, and rent or borrow one when we arrive.

If we had a newer or more expensive stroller, I might think twice about bringing one, since they can get broken in luggage holds. But ours is on its way out!

Taking the stroller means that one person's hands are occupied, but it also means that the child is restraine…

Incline your ear

What's your worship style?

As a member of a worship "team," I sometimes feel like I'm under scrutiny. Do I have the right stage presence? It's not a performance, but there is still pressure to behave properly and have a certain look.

I have been in churches that described their own worship sessions using terms like "freedom" and "Spirit-led." To me it seemed like it gave extroverts an excuse to scream, cry, and dance around. I don't take issue with their expression; only with it being labeled as something more spiritual. I only mean that others can be touched deeply too, without it coming to the surface. Does there have to be an outward manifestation? Are there other ways to see fruit?

People can adapt to different cultural norms for worship, which isn't a bad thing. It is completely respectful to rein in one's personal preferences, to sit and stand (or clap your hands!) on command, or to sing songs that are in a different style t…

Planning a "destination" family reunion

Behind the scenes of our most recent getaway..




Family reunions are sometimes hosted by family members, perhaps over a holiday weekend. Other families might have a time-share, like a beach house that they visit every year. But every once in a while, it's fun to plan something a little more ambitious.

My siblings and I are scattered across the globe at varying distances from each other and our parents. I guess it's fair to say that there are a higher concentration on the East Coast, but then again Florida is pretty far from Massachusetts. Suffice it to say that any gathering is going to mean traveling a long way for at least a few people. So, might as well try out different rendezvous points, right?

We started bouncing around the idea of a trip to the UK for my dad's 70th birthday. It's his ancestral home, and truth be told, I was excited to be going somewhere LESS than 5 hours away by plane (sorry, everyone else). So the decision was made to get 22 people (15 adults and…

Smiles and Drinking Water

I kind of gave away the post with the title there, but I wanted to start from the end of our trip when we'd already come back to Russia.

Visiting the UK was like visiting the West for me. Sure, British and American culture are not one and the same, but when compared to Russian culture they are very similar. I even ate most of my favorite foods while in London. Yum.

I know the "smile" thing is controversial, but upon return to Russia, I realized that I had enjoyed the friendliness of Great Britain. You can analyze whether or not smiling and being friendly is "natural," but since it was instilled in me from an early age, I feel like I'm myself when I can make eye contact with strangers and greet them, or make some random comment in commiseration, or even crack a joke. Suddenly it turns out I'm not so socially awkward after all. I saw an article recently about expats who turn into introverts while abroad, but I didn't even read it since I consider mys…

Summer in the 11th hour

Earlier this month, we were traveling in the U.K., so fun! Even though traveling is challenging, I have to admit it was quite nice to go somewhere a little bit closer. No overnight flights or jet-lag or anything like that. I'll be giving more details in some upcoming posts.

It's been harder to motivate myself to blog since I joined Instagram. You can look at my photos even without signing up. I've been trying to post there every day and it reminds me of the regularity of blogging and of the journal aspect that used to be more prevalent. Like those "Day in the Life" photo projects.

It's been a very mild summer and just in the past week it's gotten close to 80 degrees a few times. That's a hot sun, so I tend to wait until evening to go out walking with D. I feel like we've been attacked on all sides by various insects who have just been waiting for the perfect moment to party summer-style. I realized that it's not as much of an issue when it…

Looking Back and a Heads-Up

I've got a pretty old printer. It works fine, just takes its time. So I thought it might be fun to crank out a blog post while each page prints. :) I think my printer probably has me beat at wpm, though.

I've been pretty frantic (to say the least) over the past few weeks with trip preparations. Since it's more of a "destination" (UK) holiday, there has been a lot of general information gathering to do. Even though there will be onsite activities, we also don't want to pass up chances for sightseeing, but with 22 people it requires some initial scheduling if we are ever going to actually get anywhere!

And now I'm printing it all out, and we leave in...less than 18 hours. Very exciting.

Even though we've had lots to do (and trip preparation has taken priority), we've tried to make time for family lately, too. Andrei and I celebrated our anniversary this week, and went on a little date, finally! So for that day we were more focused on celebrating an…

Just the facts

I feel like I've been so boring lately as far as blogging goes, and at the moment I'm really focused on getting ready for vacation; so excited, although there is a lot to do. The weather reports for the UK (where we're going) have been the same as here, cool and rainy. Should feel like home! :)

I wish I had some deeper thoughts to share, and I want to believe that I'm continuing to grow and challenge myself, but sometimes it is hard to rise above the everyday stuff and see a bigger picture.

As I was compiling a little list of things to share, I was again starting to feel like it was all sounding kind of banal or self-centered. But at the same time there is a lot in me that's changed since becoming a mother (and it might be a different milestone for different people), and certain topics can be huge emotional triggers. It is hard to read the news or think about some of those hot topics, like abortion... at least without digging deep!

Anyway, a few recent things:


1) …

Summer as lifetime

"Summer is a mini-lifetime" is my loose translation of a popular Russian saying. I suppose a lot can happen in a whole quarter of a year!

But in general summer usually starts out with a list of hopes and dreams and some grandiose plans...and then before you know it, September is just around the corner. Were your expectations met?

Sorry if I'm getting ahead of myself here...don't worry, I'm not going to talk about Back-to-School. ;)

This has been my first summer in Russia in awhile... probably since the summer we were married (4 years ago), and even then we spent 3-4 weeks in the U.S. I used to focus more on being home for Christmas, and now summer is the best traveling time for our family. But not this year...we'll be traveling for just 2 weeks in August, and other than that have been around St. Petersburg!

I was hoping to get a lot of projects done this summer and we have a lot of friends to catch up with. But we've had a cold going around and have gott…

Downslope and Kitchen Experiments

After the last time I wrote, everything came screeching to a halt as we got a family cold. Andrei felt very sick and David had a pretty bad case, too. David even now seems a little sniffly. I had my usual kind of malaise for a few days and the general feeling that I was fighting a virus, but no other symptoms.

It's been a very mild summer, and right now I am enjoying a terrific summer rain/thunder/hailstorm going on outside the kitchen window. Hopefully it will clear up in another 3 hours when I need to leave!

A blog friend recently did a fun post about some favorite foods and kitchen tips, and I thought I would share a few as well, including things that David is into.


In no particular order...

1) "Korean" carrot salad.

If you've been to Russia, you know this dish. It's the one that's sort of marinated, not the one with mayo. A little zesty, with coriander as the key spice. It's usually recommended that you use a mandoline slicer to get the right-size ca…

Thinking Cap

I had a busy week, but there was something different about the intensity. It was one of those times when it felt like my problem-solving skills had to be on constant alert! I used to have these kinds of adventures all the time, especially when first living in Russia, or during seasons when I would be commuting to all different parts of St. Petersburg each day of the week. Times when you have to be thinking, thinking, thinking. Like when it would take me an eternity to find someone's home; the public transportation route, street name, building number, entryway, apartment number, floor, and door code all in my head or scribbled on one or more scraps of paper.

That was the kind of week I had, including a meltdown halfway through! But it's not meant to be a complaining post, and/or bragging about how "busy" I've been. Just doing some reflecting about some experiences, and thinking about why I might have felt overwhelmed.



Last Friday

-Commenced making a cake for an ev…

Daytime Fire

One day recently I decided to take David for a walk while Andrei was cooking dinner. It was actually after 7pm, but pretty much felt like afternoon, with there still being plenty of daylight.

David led me to a playground that had just been rebuilt, featuring a pirate ship, train, and other various climbing structures. He was ecstatic, and enjoyed looking through the "portholes" of the ship as I pretended to be a fish on the other side.

Then I looked up and saw black smoke billowing out of one of the windows on the first floor of the building that overlooked the playground. I couldn't see or hear anything coming from inside; no one seemed to be trying to put it out. Somebody's home was on fire. Several neighbors were on their porch balconies, but no one seemed alarmed. Diagonally to the apartment on fire, a man and woman stood on their second-floor porch, hanging over the railing, smoking. It was as calm a summer evening as ever had been.

I exchanged looks with a few…

New Venue

On Sunday I visited our new church location for the first time. The funny thing is that there are only so many Protestant church buildings in the city, and along with the Orthodox ones, they were given some other purpose during Communism (I'll get to that later). Now that the church properties belong to the Church again, we attend a range of events in these few buildings. We got married in one, attended weddings in another, went to a concert in the one further down the street...

The meeting hall we're renting now is the one with the gymnasium floor, up at the top of the stairs, where we once sat to hear a poetry recital, as well as attended a Santa Lucia celebration. That's how I remember it, anyway.  And now I'll spend my Sundays there.




Since so many congregations share the space, no one's really taken ownership...not completely, anyway. I don't know all the details and I'm sure that efforts have been made to fix it up at least a little. But it's pret…

Trusting

Summer plan reveal: In honor of my dad's 70th birthday this year, we thought it might be meaningful to gather in Scotland, the home of his grandparents. There's a Wales/England contingent too, but we eventually settled on the St.Andrews/Fife area.

I've been really excited and have been eager to get back to the UK since paying a visit there in my college days and before that as a young teen. Andrei and David have never been!

I'd been thinking it would be a "simple" trip since it's much closer than the U.S. (and fewer time zones) and we can speak English! For once it would be on "our" side of the ocean.

But of course it isn't as close for everyone else, and we all need passports, and the babies all need carseats, and....Andrei needs a VISA.

I guess I sort of knew in the back of my mind that Andrei would need a visa, but I was just thinking of it as something to check off, like when I would get a visa for going to Russia. Then at some point we…

Goodbye to a beloved author

In searching for words to eulogize Elisabeth Elliot, all I want to do is quote her many, many words of wisdom! And of course, the scripture passages that she based her life on. I mention her here and here.

But what to pick? Maybe I will, instead, recall a few episodes from my life in which she played a role.

1) 10 years of "Passion and Purity": I was introduced to this book in college. By then my beliefs and values were pretty much formed, but were beginning to be challenged, so it was comforting to find affirmation among the pages of Passion and Purity. I had some attempts to "convert" friends to this way of thinking, including in Russia later on (see below). After I met Andrei, I had 6 years to wait, but of course I didn't know that at the beginning or even the middle! Even though the situation was a little different, I reached for my copy again and again. And after hearing Andrei's side and reading about Jim Elliot, I still find similarities that I can r…

Of tea parties and pickpockets

For the past few weeks, my Canadian friend Sabrina had been talking about having a picnic. She had found a good spot and Andrei was going to visit the doctor nearby, so it started to look like it might work out to travel there together. Then the weather got a little windy and Andrei was leaving earlier anyway, so I decided to attempt a field trip to Sabrina's flat with David instead.


Of course it's hard to schedule anything since D's sleep schedule varies. On that particular day, he woke up an hour earlier than usual....which meant we really needed to get out of the house sooner in order to fit in a visit before naptime. Thankfully, that was okay with Sabrina.

It wasn't too hard to get David ready since he was so excited once I told him we were going out for a visit. Andrei had already left, so David and I rode the tram by ourselves, and then headed over to the metro. David was intrigued by the people who stand around handing out advertisements. He figured he should ut…

Run-down

Some items from last week, a few from right now, and some plans...


1) David had an eye infection last week. I guess it might have been plain old pink-eye. We used some drops and it got better before we made it to the doctor. But what's weird is that a few days later my friend mentioned that both of her kids had had it, too. David hadn't been in contact with anyone all week, and it's actually school vacation time right now. However, it WAS really windy outside, with lots of debris flying around. I wonder if that is making people get more eye infections? I've been avoiding wearing contacts until it calms down a little.

2) On transplants: a family I know here in St. Petersburg recently went through a test of faith...their baby girl got quite sick, and it was determined that she needed a new liver. And time was of the essence, and it was going to be expensive, and they didn't want to have it done in Russia. So there was a whirlwind of fundraising and travel plans, a c…

Banking, AKA Handwriting Practice

The other day, I had to go do a bank errand that I'd been postponing for quite some time. Our branch closed within a year or so of my opening an account, so I had to switch to another one, two metro stops (and a tram ride) away. Even without being a huge distance away (40 minutes), it wasn't the kind of thing where I would just happen to be in the neighborhood.

Andrei was feeling well enough to stay with David for a few hours, so I finally dragged myself over there.

The bank (in Russia, at least) makes me nervous. I suppose part of it is language and having to speak over a high counter, though at least it isn't through the glass. And not knowing the proper protocol and so on. But it's ten times easier than visiting Immigration, of course! I kept telling myself along the way and throughout the whole process, that no matter how silly I might look, they have to do their job and help me...within reason, of course! And that is true even at Immigration where the officers ca…

Life lessons for mother and child

I felt sort of emotional while out and about with my son today. For one thing, I love seeing him interacting with people, especially when it's successful.

As we walked down the sidewalk, he suddenly dropped to his knees to inspect some ants, right by an older lady who was taking a breather. She was just tickled pink. I didn't want to speak English and kind of interrupt the moment, but I didn't want it to seem like I wasn't engaged, either...the usual dilemma. But I liked seeing her get a chuckle. Then he said "poka" (see ya) to her, and I told him to say "Do svidanya" instead. And he said, "she's somebody's Nina!" He thinks all women around his grandmother Nina's age have the same role in life! :)

Next, the grocery store for some carrots. David is liking a book called "Carrot Soup," and specifically asked to go to the store to buy some. How could I pass up a chance to feed him vegetables?

We usually say hi and bye to…

Apartment: D's room

Bummer: Lost about half the photos I had been storing up for this post. :/ It would have been cool to see the transformation, but I've got a few from when we first bought our apartment, so we'll start with that.

The former owners were semi-empty-nesters, and had tailored this multi-room family apartment to meet their needs, including a huge bedroom with matching furniture, etc. They sent the cable from their TV through the wall into the room behind it, which they were using as some sort of cloakroom/walk-in closet? Definitely not standard for Russian city life! But we'll see what happens if we ever become empty-nesters. ;)



The shelves were ugly but came in pretty handy, and we were using that room as an office (the missing photos). We moved some of the shelves down to table level and I did a few craft projects there.

However, we ultimately decided this would be the best room for David (see below). We moved his furniture in there a while ago, but he just started sleeping t…

May flowers

Woo-hoo, a new post. Naptime is going by fast, though.

I'm still working on getting my energy back, and unfortunately Andrei has been under the weather. :/ When I last wrote an update, he was getting ready to go to Moscow for some heavy-duty lecturing. Well...he's been back for 10 days and still not recovered. Tonsils and laryngitis, not fun. So basically our May to-do list is hanging around for June.

Speaking of weather, we never really got our spring here in its proper season. We went from non-winter to non-spring (sort of warmish, but blustery all the time), and now that summer officially starts in 3 days, we are having spring-like weather. It's actually quite nice. You just have to wear layers and be prepared for the sun to suddenly go behind the clouds or even a rainstorm to come out of nowhere. I realized that part of what keeps me from enjoying the glorious sunshine is being unsure of what to wear, or not being able to convince David what he should wear. Now that h…

Almost three!

I haven't done a David update in a while. I think there are lots of things kids try once early on, but I usually count it as a fluke until done regularly. So here are some skills David has actually mastered lately.


Getting good at...

-making arguments. He now connects ideas with "because" and "so." For example, "Don't touch my chair because it's mine." "Turn on the light so I can see." A lot of times he links seemingly unrelated phrases, which sounds funny, but it's impressive to see him trying so hard to explain things logically (or making excuses to get out of doing something).

-cooking. This is actually related to something bigger which is his attention span getting longer. He can stand on a chair while we do a whole baking project together, even if I ask him to wait while I wash a few dishes and clear the counter. He can wait until I give him an assignment. Sure, he might have shown an interest before, but he never had the pati…

The Return of the Prayer Journal

Time for some speed-typing; it's getting late here but I've been trying and trying to write this post, for at least the past week!

I've gotten out of the habit of journaling, but when I do there are always these recurring themes; usually problems that I just can't solve on my own strength. Lately it has always been about sleep issues and trying to be disciplined at the same time.

So last month I had my cold virus after the church retreat, and somewhere in the midst of that wrote a note in my journal asking the Lord to help me not waste time before bedtime. Usually it is because I am avoiding that One Last Thing I have to do, even if it's just brushing my teeth! The next entry is when I was starting to have the weird fatigue that I later attributed to a vitamin deficiency. And when I looked at those entries side-by-side, I realized that the health issue making me drowsy in the evening was not only keeping me off the computer but also helping me fall asleep faster, …

Update

Okay, so I started taking vitamins more consistently and it definitely helped after a few days. Now I'm just regular sleep-deprived, ha!

There is a noticeable difference between regular tired and springtime tired when vitamin stores are depleted.


Other things going on around here:


-Catching up with some friends as time and schedules allow.

-Spending far too little time outside again.

-Enjoying a few spring days, but then trying to stay warm enough inside when the cold weather is back.

-Booking plane tickets and hotels for summer travel, and having my debit card not work, and then wondering how Andrei is going to get a visa.

-Practicing alto parts and trying to make certain English song lyrics ("you give and take away") sound good in Russian.

-Praying for Nepal.

-Preparing to send Andrei off to Moscow this weekend to teach an intensive course for a university affiliate.

-Cooking with my newest sous chef. He is starting to be more interested and his attention span is now l…

Fighting fatigue

A word that people like to throw around in Russia in the springtime is avitaminosis.

My kid's sick, your kid's sick....avitaminosis.

Why do I feel like I want to sleep all the time? Avitaminosis.








But seriously, it can be so hard to get energized!

We live in an area that has very little sunlight for about 6 months of the year. David usually takes a multi-vitamin, but I realized that I hadn't given him Vitamin D drops all winter, nor have I been taking anything myself.

Last weekend we were at a church retreat, and I came back feeling like I'd been hit by a bus. Yes, we may have a cold virus in the family, but a week later, we still have the sleepies. I'm a total night owl and yet I'm practically falling over my keyboard right after dinner. I don't even have the energy for aimless Internet browsing! It's not the same kind of tired where you haven't gotten enough sleep and/or have been really active physically. It feels more like jet-lag.

Meanwhile, D.…

Living simply; living far away (Nepal)

My mom recently sent me a book, "My Seventh Monsoon" by Naomi Reed, an Australian missionary to Nepal.

I took the book along with me to a church retreat last weekend and read a few chapters while waiting for David to fall asleep.

By the next morning, the earthquake had struck. But I didn't actually make the connection until much later. I walked into the conference room to see my friend who had been to Nepal several times, fiddling nervously with her phone. She mumbled something about an earthquake and her friends there. I didn't have internet or anything all weekend...so as I said, it didn't really register, but I could still see how it affected her. It definitely reminds me of Haiti and how many of my friends were affected by the 2010 disaster. Not a place that I've visited, but whatever burdens the hearts of my brothers and sisters is going to get to me, too.

My (Nepal-loving) friend then went on to lead morning worship for us in her sweet, faith-filled way…

Two forms of "entertainment"

Whoops. Took an accidental blogging hiatus again. 

I've been experimenting with time management and "relaxation." What are some ways to force yourself to unwind, without being slothful? How would you define "recreation"? Yes, blogging and/or journaling fall in there somewhere for me, but I've been exploring other genres as well...


In the time leading up to celebrating the Resurrection (AKA Lent), I found phrases like "no housework during naptime" floating around my head. Things that are fun like baking tend to only create MORE work. So what to do if I'm not allowed to use that time to get organized? What would be edifying?

I found myself doing some holiday crafts while watching a movie or two on Netflix. This made me keep my hands off my computer and cut down on the excess information flow a bit. It's hard to pick the right movie for the mood, but every once in a while I hit on an interesting documentary. It's definitely a step up from …

Missing members

As I recently watched a PBS series about the Amish (Shunned/American Experience-possibly still available for viewing online), a testimony in the very beginning spoke to the heartache of not being able to sit at the same table as those being cast out.

And that resonated with me.

"Blessed are those that are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." (Revelation 19:9)

Not all will be present at the Banquet, and sometimes we get a glimpse of this here on Earth, with the empty seats at the dinner table just one way to illustrate this.

Are the Amish justified in their "shunning" practice and general separatism?

"Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: 'First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'" Matthew 13:30

I don't know. BUT I do know that the documentary brought up several parallels to spiritual life and the pain of having unsaved fami…

Book recommendation/Caveat

It's March, and I have just enough time to squeeze in a book review for Reading Month. Unfortunately, my Kindle bit the dust some months back, so I haven't been indulging in literature much as of late.

However, I have a series that I wanted to share. I've started to write about it a few times and always stopped just short. The first book in the series is called "Chop, Chop" (by L.N. Cronk) and you can download it free for Kindle here.
And what's worse,' she went on, 'is that on Sunday we're going to get back onto a plane and go back to our houses and our TVs and our hot tubs and we're going to forget about all this.''No we won't, Laci. We won't forget.'She wiped her eyes and glared at me.'Yes, we will. You say we won't, but after we get home we'll feel differently. It won't ever feel like this again.' -Chop, Chop (L.N. Cronk)
So....how to describe this series? For one thing, the dialogues are all like th…

Outings and non-outings

I'd been attending rehearsals for a "praise and worship" night for about the last 6 weeks, and then woke up yesterday feeling congested-yuck. So I stayed home.

It was a week of staying at home. Even though the sun came back, there was a rather brisk wind that made it pretty chilly for outdoor excursions. It was really nice to get caught up on some indoor activities. Andrei had a heavier teaching schedule, so David and I had lots of bonding time.

One day, we needed something to do and I had decided not to attempt naptime for scheduling reasons. So we stalled at home as long as possible and then headed outside to the tram stop to wait for Andrei. The last time we did that, we somehow missed him...we froze while waiting, and he came home to a missing family and no lunch ready or anything!

So I made the decision to hop on the tram in the direction of the metro. The only thing that made me nervous was that Andrei hadn't contacted me at all, and there was the possibility o…