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We Made It!

We survived the first semester with 2 kids! Andrei's done administering exams, so we've got a break now until next semester. There are definite perks to the academic schedule. If only certain conditions were a little bit more ideal!

I'm not sure what I pictured exactly, but the last few months could have been worse. We had our non-sleeper first and our good sleeper second (I type this as she is screaming hysterically and not going to sleep, but...usually she's pretty good).

One of the harder things about having more than one child is keeping them safe from each other... keeping them from waking each other up, etc. Sophia is pretty easy-going and can play with her toys by herself when she's in a good mood. So if she were an only child I could get something done, but instead I have to make sure David isn't smothering her. I might have mentioned before that I thought David might be kind of doing it to provoke us. So now that we don't repeat "be gentle&qu…

Punch in the Gut

Started this post a month ago or so...

I feel somewhat convicted. I've never much been into political-correctness. Most of the advocating I've done has been for orphans and sometimes I've sided with various movements related to Christian values.

I know a lot of minorities in America have felt "unsafe" lately, and as a white Christian I realize that I don't have much experience with being discriminated against. So I don't even really know what to say! (sidenote: some friends of ours just commented that a swastika was painted on their lawn on Christmas Eve! Devastating...)

(another sidenote: I've never gotten into the politics of holidays in Russia...not sure minorities have even really started to make their voices heard. Western Christmas falls during the Orthodox pre-Christmas fasting period.)

In U.S. culture, I have often appreciated efforts to put the "Christ" back in Christmas. I dislike the mish-mash that the holiday season has morphed i…

Advent Season (Whoops, Christmas already)

How is your Advent going, if you celebrate? Or maybe you "observe" Advent but save the celebrating for Christmas? Sometimes I wish we celebrated St. Nicholas or St. Lucia, too!

(Then a week went by after I started this post)

I got out the Christmas decorations in November, and I was glad for that because my enthusiasm soon fizzled out. In order to enjoy them in December, they really need to be put up in November, right? Before things get crazy?

David is almost 4.5 and I keep waiting for the year when he will be "into" Christmas. We got out our Christmas books and dutifully read them every night for a few weeks, but I don't even suggest it anymore. David likes to decline suggestions now with "I don't think so" or "no thank you." And this includes a lot of my arts and crafts or cooking ideas. He's said "I don't think so" to several baking projects recently. I tried making cookies but the dough was too sticky and David pl…

Sophia's Birth Story, Part 3

Part 1

Part 2


My non-stress test was Thursday, and I would be 42 weeks on Monday. The next day (Friday), my sister was trying to make weekend plans with us, as my aunt was visiting her from the west coast. There was the possibility of meeting up at a playground or similar location on Saturday.

I didn't want to commit to anything, and the more I thought about it, the more I doubted I could handle a car ride. Wait a minute...I wasn't feeling well at all!

Other ladies in the birth forums had been feeling terrible for ages. Aching joints, contractions, etc. If I was just starting to feel poorly, it didn't necessarily mean something was happening...

At dinner, I went easy on the garlic aioli, just in case the nausea was going to start like it had with David, right at dinnertime!

I finally had to admit to my mom that I wasn't sure I would make it through the night. With David, the contractions had started at least 48 hours before. So I hated to get my hopes up, but then again…

Bureaucracy about town

I had to go to my bank here to get a statement. My friend lives near that metro, and I had letters for her, so it seemed like I could combine the errands. The only problem of course being that I couldn't leave Sophia for too long.

It was my first time traveling that far within the city since May or so. Six months! I was nervous about how I'd hold up physically. I guess I didn't go anywhere without David for a long time, but we did go as a family to church and elsewhere. In fact, as I left today, a friend from church was on his way over to fix David's old stroller for Sophia!

I felt okay physically and it was good to be out in the world...a little bit of culture shock and a little bit of post-partum shock, or whatever you call it when you're doing the same old things, but as a different person.

I met up with my friend and we headed over to a cafe to sit for a few minutes. As we walked in, the guy making crepes (blini) was a kid (now grown) that I'd known in the…

Keeping on

Haven't really felt like writing, but I promised myself I would be transparent and keep sharing my thoughts.

I've probably mentioned it before, but God ministers to me through music. I wish I knew Scripture as well as I know song lyrics, but there's room for both! And I try to challenge myself to match up the songs with corresponding Bible passages.

Recently when I've been trying to quiet my soul, I keep recalling the words "...'Cause life is hard. And it might not get easier."* That's from a song I learned at summer camp back in middle school. Not too positive, right? But the line before that is, "..and we all need Jesus." So, in that case, the words ring true. In John ch.16:33 Jesus tells his disciples, "In this world you will have trouble." I don't see that as a scary thing. I just see it as assurance that going through hardship is normal and doesn't mean that we are being neglected by God or specifically targeted. Of c…

A year of this

Still need to finish typing up Sonya (Sophia)'s birth story. It is bittersweet in a way because I didn't know until recently how injured I was. But she is a delightful baby and I think the birth experience was gentle for her, if that's a thing.

The birth story isn't scary, I promise. :)

But as for daily life, I am feeling very thankful to be allowed to be at home. I don't really have a way to even get out by myself with the kids, but I look forward to doing that as I get stronger. While I have my MIL helping (hopefully for years to come!) and David doesn't need to be in school, I am really looking at it as a time to heal. It is a very important time in terms of being more functional in the future.

This morning I convinced David to snuggle with me in bed a little longer, as Sonya can sleep until 10 or 11. A text from Andrei told me it was snowing outside. I hadn't even looked! Then a friend came over and took David out to play, and Sonya went down for a nap…

Temporary

Help! Blogger has done away with all my links that were in the sidebar. I had just updated them and it looks so lonely now. If you're reading this and have a blog, please share the link below since I don't know when I'll be able to restore them.

I saw on a few other people's blogs that theirs were back up. But not so with mine. The comments widget is gone, too. I could go find a screenshot of my sidebar and manually reenter them, but...



Sophia's birth story, Part 2

Part 1 

Part 3


After about 39 weeks or so, the midwives started asking if I wanted them to check me, which I didn't. I declined scheduling an induction too. One midwife told me I could "go ahead and schedule" the next few appointments. You mean there's going to be more than one? Depressing.

What was required now at every appointment was a "non-stress test" to monitor fetal activity. A good idea in theory, but not very comfortable. Sophia had thankfully gone head down, but was still flopping around due to my diastasis recti. Reclining in the chair was the worst possible position, and they couldn't get the monitor to stay in place.

A few more weeks went by and I was now more than 41 weeks. At 42 weeks it was Game Over. Funny how you can go the whole pregnancy avoiding complications, only to have the baby forcibly evicted in the end!

It turned out that this appointment was going to be my last before being induced. My dad waited for 3 (!) hours as they kept m…

Sophia's birth story, Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

While I'm facing the reality of a post-partum body and having a newborn all over again, it seems like a good time to review the miracle of Sophia's birth!

(for anyone just tuning in, we live in St. Petersburg, Russia, but I traveled both times to the U.S. to give birth...)

There were a few things about David's birth experience that we changed right away, or at least hoped to do differently. For one thing, I switched from the local Ob-Gyn in my hometown to a midwifery practice in a neighboring town. Longer commute, but a very caring community for the most part. Different birth plan, too-but I'll get to that later.

As my pregnancy progressed, I was often measuring ahead of schedule, and wondered if this baby might be early. I also had gestational diabetes, though. Once I got on a diet, my weight gain slowed down and things seemed more normal. But I still wondered if I might go early.

Once I got towards my due date, though, I had zero symptoms of labor. Same …

Ferocious Four and 2 Months

The 4 yr old is a challenge right now! I wonder if he is just now reacting to having a sibling. I keep having unrealistic expectations. In my head, if I give him undivided attention for a few hours, he will let me take a break. Or if I let him kiss his sister once, he'll be satisfied and leave her alone and not continue to harass her. What DOES sometimes happen is that if I bite my tongue, he will stop the offending behavior since there is no reaction. But obviously I can't let him harm himself or others. I couldn't ignore the toy-throwing or opening the oven door repeatedly.

There are moments when he seems repentant and it seems like we've figured something out. Like when we argued and argued about naptime and then Andrei came home and intervened, but then David still asked for me and we lay down with our arms around each other and went to sleep. He still wants to please me even if it seems like he wants to hurt me.




David's "I'm sorry" phase seems t…

Confession

I have a bit of an addiction to information. I don't think this applies to all areas of life, though. I'm not one to constantly track a package or flight. There are times when I can recognize that the outcome is in God's hands and I've done all I can.

But...

The other times. I love knowing random bits of information. Before Internet, I liked playing Trivial Pursuit. Somehow I knew facts, even sports-related. Is that any different from wondering "now what was that actor's name?" and immediately looking up the Wikipedia entry?

Where do you draw the line? I think for me, the medical stuff is probably the worst. Are you in that category of person, always self-diagnosing yourself and convinced you're going to die? I have turned into one of those.

New week, New Year

This evening's post is brought to you by a pacifier-soothed baby (gave it to her and she put herself to sleep)! I'm not sure how I feel about that. Are we going to be running around at night looking for it when she can't sleep without it? But could it be any worse than getting up with David several times a night for the first three years? Is it harder to wean from rocking or using a pacifier? At any rate, I'm enjoying the peace and quiet for now. And will have to do a sleep post at some point.

Andrei started a full week of classes, with additional hours. So of course today he also came down with the family cold. Hopefully it will be mild!

The Jewish New Year is being celebrated right now. My church just started a new cycle of The Bible in a Year. I'm not sure how that ended up renewing in October, but I thought it was interesting that it coincided with Rosh Hashanah. I wanted to bake Challah and have our Bible study, but as usual we are sick and whatnot. Someday!

Health crisis

(melodrama alert) It's been a rough few weeks! The day before we left for Russia, I had a very good doctor's report. I was extremely encouraged since it had taken so much longer to heal up after David was born.

Within a week after we arrived, I started having some troubling symptoms. I then self-diagnosed and began to read all about it, but decided I'd better take a break from that and focus on other things for awhile. I didn't want to see a doctor because I wanted to kind of put it out of my mind.

We were doing pretty well. Sophia was sleeping well, I felt like I was managing somewhat with two kids, and we were even able to do some fun things like baking projects.

Then the symptoms worsened, and anxiety and depression quickly spiraled out of control. I imagined myself as a life-long invalid. I'd never be able to lift groceries, or my kids for that matter.

I've already mentioned my prayer journal. I also started listening to an audio Bible throughout the day, …

Back to apartment life

As we get back to city life, it prompts me to compare different living accommodations. Would you rather live in a bigger or smaller space? I think as humans we often long for an upgrade, but at the same time a smaller home can seem pretty attractive. I liked living in a 1 rm apartment (that's not counting the kitchen and bathroom) the first year we were married, and living with roommates was always fun as long as I could have some privacy and space to do things like cook. It can be easier to decorate, too. All my little framed pictures look silly on a bigger wall.

Some of those "tiny" houses are pretty cute, the ones that are popular right now and even have their own show on HGTV. But I wouldn't try that with kids.


So we're back to our medium-sized apartment after staying with my parents. I like being all on one floor! Makes it easier with kids, laundry, etc.

The noise level is another story, though. Our walls are pretty thin! It's typical of our building ty…

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 di…

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, …

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…

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.


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 …

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 exp…

A Day in the Life

Today was just one of those days where David was a little more rambunctious than usual! Once again I was thankful to have a more domestic day with few interruptions from the outside world, but I sure am glad his shenanigans are normally fewer in number. Also, we are at the halfway point of Andrei being away. So like I said in the last post, I'm feeling kind of "mom-busy."

I stayed up late last night enjoying the quiet. My kind of quiet...catching up via the Internet at my own pace, and doing a little reading for fun.

Didn't get the miracle I hoped for, and David woke up pretty early this morning. So I went to get him his chocolate milk and turn on Netflix. We started giving him chocolate milk when weaning from breastfeeding (at 2.5 yrs!), so it kind of stuck. No cavities that we know of!

David usually hangs out in the kitchen, but I wanted to snooze a bit and didn't want him in there unsupervised. So I set him up in the living room, right next to our bedroom....

Checking In

The thing about getting behind with blogging is that it gets harder and harder to explain everything that is going on! Too much catching up to do.

(however, a hint is that I post little snapshots on Instagram, where you can see some more mundane moments)

This week, Andrei is traveling on a guest-teaching assignment. He is far to the east in Omsk. Funny to think that many countries in Europe are much closer to us! He is also 3 time zones ahead. We all miss him a lot, but David is probably the "easiest" age he's been in terms of single-parenting. No naps, but no night-wakings either (unless you count sleepily crawling into bed with me around 2 a.m.). And of course, Babushka and Dyedushka are always on call.

David was nonchalant about Andrei leaving, but then burst into tears when he wanted to wave one last time and Andrei was already out of sight. Sometimes I think the most important thing for a child (or anyone?) is for all of his loved ones to be together at all times. …

Hurting hearts

It has been a tough news month. And by that I mean too much of the tough stuff! Some events to make one rely on God and ponder eternity...

Even when I went to the doctor for a prenatal visit a few weeks ago, the lady next to me in the waiting area had "Oncology" stamped on her papers. While I was worrying about getting weighed and measured, others were thinking about life and death. A poster on the wall read "Give Life" and listed some alternatives to abortion, and crisis hotlines.

Meanwhile, a few emails came in from friends in different places whose family members had received sobering medical diagnoses. And we are sent to our knees.



Three years ago now, I wrote a post about orphanage contacts and how when I see friends from the orphanage I'm never really sure whether God is showing me that the door is still open, or just giving me one last chance to kind of wrap up that chapter.

The post in question featured an interesting spontaneous encounter with a forme…

The Epidemic

My MIL brought pizza tonight and David went to bed right on time, so here I am blogging (instead of doing my exercises), and it's not even midnight!

I wanted to give a description of a "public health scare" that we've been dealing with over here...not the Zika virus, though!


2009

I went back to read my blog posts about the last time Swine Flu (H1N1) was here in Russia. I had a pretty light-hearted attitude at that time, as you can read here. Of course, that wasn't due to not taking the flu seriously as much as feeling skeptical towards the media and the way that people act sometimes when they don't even have all the information.

However, that was before I had a husband (who gets the flu sometimes), elderly in-laws, a preschool-aged child, and another one on the way. We do a lot of quarantining.



2016

In mid-January, I begged Andrei to take David to church with him, as it was difficult for me to be alone with him (particularly in the evening) while suffering f…

If you didn't catch the vision

There have been some interesting posts this month lately (whoops, it isn't January anymore) about what people are hoping for in the new year.

The "one word" theme seems to be especially popular. I wonder if that has always been true or if it's a more recent phenomenon. Some popular ones seems to be "focus," "simplify," "engage," "listen," etc. Interesting because some of those seem to be a natural part of a cycle. We get tired and find the need to simplify and be still. Then we get rejuvenated and start to dive into things with a new intensity. Then we have too many commitments and try to hone in on one thing more intensely. And then we get tired...

Do you have a word or verse for this year? I'm curious to hear. You could leave a comment here or even email me.

But...I probably won't join you. Partly because I don't understand how one goes about "choosing" a word. Certain things will be on our hearts in an…

Enter Winter

No Advent or Christmas posts in December 2015, must be a first for my blog! I did just now find a draft from November called "Preparing for preparing," in which I had written two words: "fermata" and "Sunday school." I guess I was going to mention the Advent/Christmas choir...but that's old news now.

So here we are in 2016! As usual, we are still in the midst of holidays here in Russia: another week off and Russian Christmas yet to come. Andrei already gave his exams, so he won't start up with academics until the next semester in February.

We had our typical gray period which I probably complain about every year on here. The shortest days of 2015 were dreary and overcast and it seemed to continue for about a month. And then recently I was ecstatic when it cleared up and the frosty days began. Beautiful. Unfortunately it then went down to about 0 F and I keep chickening out about going outside, simply because child-corralling doesn't always ke…