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Showing posts from 2017

Holiday aftermath (Dec. 26th)

We had a lovely (Gregorian calendar) Christmas this year, which I'll describe a little bit in a minute. Just yesterday I was still feeling great about the way things were going, despite some hardships. However, it feels like today we hit a wall and everything is going downhill. Sophia was awake from about 12:30 a.m. to 5 a.m. or so. Pulling an all-nighter for some fun or productive reason is one thing, but it's another thing to be held prisoner by a tiny, laughing creature. Yep, she was laughing and head-butting me. I threw in the towel and summoned Andrei, who needed to be up at 6:30 for work...ugh.

Amidst multiple messes this morning, I was counting down the minutes until Sophia's naptime so I could take a hot shower and wash away all the frustrations of the holiday prep that had never really been dealt with. Alas, there is no hot water. So I'm blogging instead and finally having my first cup of tea!

I remember another year when Christmas went really well and I thou…

Halfway there

Yesterday we were halfway through Advent! And we're nearing the shortest day of the year, which is always a bit of a relief once we're past it.

I've been encouraged by how we've been able to observe Advent this year. David (almost 5 1/2) is able to participate more and take initiative, and his enthusiasm somehow soothes the usual loneliness and dreariness this time of year.

Part of why I didn't write this post earlier is that I wanted to include a few visuals. You may recognize some of our same old decorations from other years, but there are always some changes.

I enjoyed Callie's post about enjoying Christmas as an adult, and I have to say that many of the same principles apply for me, so here is our version.

-Starting early:

Going to all that work to get out/sort decorations (if they're mingled like ours) and arrange them, only to enjoy it for a few weeks? Nope, we have to be able to enjoy them for at least a month, in my mind! I also realized that Chris…

A tale of two fathers

Andrei and I both grew up with great dads! There's a reason I'm focusing on them in this post, but of course the moms are pretty awesome, too.

Back when Andrei and I were "just friends" and left comments on each other's blogs...back when we were in a small group together and prayed for each other's prayer needs...it was almost 10 years ago, and at that time, each of our fathers got diagnosed with prostate cancer.

So there we were, with our fathers going through identical health crises!

But we got through that time. A few years later we got married, and then had kids, and have been going back and forth between the grandparents and making lots of memories.

However, the grandfathers aren't able to visit each other's countries due to their health restrictions. And lately, they've been in sync again with some more serious complications. Over the past few weeks we've been imagining scenarios where we lose Andrei's dad or mine. We could have los…

October Survey/Selfie

Been doing a lot of survey-like posts lately, but had to get this monthly one up!






What I've been...


Reading: Elisabeth Elliott books and biography, "No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers"

Watching: Still no time for TV! David has been watching "Martha Speaks."

Cooking/Eating: Pumpkin bread (onceuponachef recipe), stir-fry, pizza, apple cake (bhg recipe)

Listening to: "Holy Spirit" (Kari Jobe?), "Try" (Pink), "Waters of Babylon" (remake of Don McLean)

Striving towards: Getting the house a little cleaner. Also getting more sleep.

Looking forward to: Baking once the house is cleaner (it's lunchtime so I've got an agenda).

What David is up to: Inventing his own form of multiplication...or algebra? He was sitting there saying "what's 2 fives plus 1 five?" and counted it all out on his fingers.

What Sophia is up to: Dropping her second nap (aka not sleeping at night), clapping, stomping, waving, climbing, sweeping the…

Halloween Senses

I'm not a huge fan of Halloween in general, but it helps take me back to my childhood. I realized that I still have very strong associations, even having lived outside of the U.S. for 13 years (and being away at college before that).


These are some of my sharpest memories. Play along if you'd like! You could even think of yours before reading mine: What do you SEE, HEAR, TASTE, TOUCH, SMELL on Halloween night?




See: The orange glow of the jack o' lantern with the candle flickering inside.


Hear: The crunch of the leaves underfoot and the thud of the candy bar falling into the bag and joining the others. When staying home, the footsteps on the porch and the doorbell ringing....


Taste: The pepperoni pizza we used to order each Halloween so we could be free to "man the door." And of course, the candy.


Touch: The icky gooey pumpkin guts! And the smooth plastic wrappers of all the little candy bars we would sort as soon as we got home. :)


Smell: Leaves. Pumpkin spice is YUM…

Things open in my browser

Not lacking in blog post ideas, just thought this was a fun game to play if you're the type to have multiple projects going at once.

Apparently I've been filing away ideas for future shopping trips or even places to live/vacation.

-Zappos
-Gmail inbox
-Real Estate in Bulgaria (don't ask)
-Article about expat life in Bulgaria
-Kids' play kitchen on Avito (like Craig's List)
-Life in Bulgaria article in Russian
-Blogger
-Blog post I wanted to comment on, "She Builds Her Home"
-Blog post I wanted to comment on, "Bethany Vitaro"
-Carter's outfits for Sophia for 2018
-H&M

I guess that shows my more materialistic side or something, but really it's just projects I'm working on that I give attention to for a few minutes at a time.

What about you? If you don't keep lots of browser tabs open, what's in your recent history?

My recently closed ones are:

-Christian radio station Теос (Andrei was on yesterday)
-Our church forum on VK

Splitting up

Have you ever been in a church split? How did it make you feel? How did you deal with it? Were you a leaver or one left behind? One going out or sending?

We have "lost" maybe 2/3 of our congregation in the last 6 months. Doesn't matter why, but I feel like I have to grieve a little bit.

Reactions may vary and range from gossip to prayer to the hope of a turning over a new leaf. The problem with the optimistic approach, I've found, is that it doesn't allow for processing what's happened. And what has happened? It's quite typical/normal for followers of Christ to move on and worship in a new group of like-minded believers. There can be many reasons for this and they don't even have to be super "spiritual."

But when people leave because of some sort of conflict or unfulfilled dream, it feels to me like giving up on relationships. It feels like divorce. I know some might argue with me and say that sounds harsh. And I know divorce isn't the …

September Survey/Selfie

What I've been...


Reading: Liar's Winter (Appalachian) by Cindy Sproles, Tanglewood trilogy by Rachael Anderson, Chamomile trilogy by Susan F. Craft

Watching: Zero time for TV!

Cooking/Eating: Homemade salsa (canning recipe), chebureki, mushroom soup

Listening to: Still the same! Super Simple Songs on YouTube-perfect for toddlers.

Striving towards: Being fit (see previous post).

Looking forward to: Decorating for the holidays.

What David is up to: Starting some craft/preschool type classes.

What Sophia is up to: Copying, climbing, getting into everything.




Your turn!

Working on my health/What if....???

A year ago I was struggling with some postpartum health issues, and here's a little update. Okay, it got a bit longer than intended...


It's probably no secret that I'm not really into "fitness." I like certain recreational sports, or movement as a way of achieving a goal, but really can't get very hardcore or competitive about it. I have too many other hobbies that I'm trying to make time for, and I don't get a rush from pushing my body to its physical limit.

Of course, I never needed fitness to feel good about my body and never felt like I needed to lose weight or tone up...

2 babies later, I'm picking up the pieces. It turns out fitness is about being healthy so you can be strong for everyday movement, not just beating a personal time. And this summer, I did some PT.

I haven't been able to locate a women's health PT in Russia. There is massage therapy in some form, but given that it's hard to find a good pelvic health practitioner in…

New normal

Anyone else on an academic schedule? I always look forward to the routine that September brings. Andrei's new job this semester has a pretty heavy workload, but at least we know what to expect each day. I have to plan for things like cooking dinner each day since I don't have anyone to go to the store for me and no childcare while I'm doing kitchen stuff. Sometimes it's easier to get done if I'm not counting on someone's help. Of course my MIL is there to help out sometimes though.

One thing about this season (in life and otherwise) is that I don't really get a big chunk of time in the evening. It's basically eat dinner, put kids to bed, put myself to bed (including minimal kitchen clean-up and before-bed routine). Unfortunately, going to bed earlier isn't really resulting in much more sleep. I remember David started sleeping really well starting from about age 3, but I'm not sure if I'm ready for 2 more years of this....(such a sweet age t…

August Survey/Selfie

Yep, I'm back-dating this...driving me nuts not being able to update! Someday! (actually couldn't find the scheduling tab to push this back to August)






What I've been...


Reading: Marie Kondo (finally), Sky Blue trilogy by Karol Whaley, Heidi Elliott series by Kimberly Stuart

Watching:  Wild Kratts, Anthony Bourdain culinary adventures

Cooking/Eating: Borscht and other soups, omelets with squash, saffron rice.

Listening to: Super Simple Songs on YouTube-perfect for toddlers.

Striving towards: Unpacking and decluttering.

Looking forward to: The new school year.

What David is up to: Constructing spider-webs, sculpting snakes, spouting information of various types.

What Sophia is up to: Toddling around with armfuls of toys, climbing on higher and higher pieces of furniture.




Your turn!

Little things

Got to get a July post up, not sure how the rest of the summer will go! As I probably say every year, just as September feels like a fresh start, summer always feels like a big deadline. Even though we normally travel for less than 2 months, it feels like I have to reach the end of my to-do list before we go away. If I haven't seen someone all year, it has to happen now even though it could happen in September. But now that we're leaving quite soon, I've abandoned all the lists and have focused my attention towards the suitcases and provisions across the pond.

Anyway, we did get a bunch of little projects done even if it wasn't as much as desired. A few examples are below. Little organizational fixes that will make life easier even if they're not anything fancy.

I'll do the fancier one first, though. This was hand-made by friends. I love being able to put up decorations that are made with love and not from IKEA. :)


Next, some additional shelves for the floor-t…

June Survey/Selfie

I was going to post about something else and then noticed that it's the last of the month already!




What I've been...


Reading: "Wonder Weeks" by Hetty van de Rijt, Ph.D. "Daffodils" by Alex Martin.

Watching:  Drumroll....nothing! :) Today David and I watched some YouTube videos of people catching large snakes. Pretty wild. :)

Cooking/Eating: Cheesy Chicken Fritters from Natasha's Kitchen...also currently obsessed with Panzanella now that we finally have ripe tomatoes. Today I tried a chocolate-chip muffin recipe for the first time, not bad.

Listening to: Nothing here either, computer's on the blink...sometimes I put on some lively tunes for David to have a dance party.

Striving towards: Getting back to healing my core. Looking 6 months pregnant again. :/

Looking forward to: More family birthdays, and spending time in the U.S. once we get the plane ride over with.

What David is up to: Mixing concoctions in the kitchen, and planting things in some win…

Birthdays as an adult

Not going to write about a party or growing older...just some rambling about everyday life mingled with birthday stuff.

So my birthday was a few days ago and I set expectations low...no offense to anyone who helped make it special, which I appreciated. ;)

I had the usual birthday insomnia. Does anyone else have that? Again not even really related to deep thoughts about growing older....just general wakefulness and trying to plan out the next day.

Finally was trying to fall asleep around 2:30 a.m., when Sophia joined me for the night. After several wake-ups, I started getting birthday texts around 8 am (on a Sunday morning). However, they were not texts from actual people. They were from stores wanting to "congratulate" me...and inviting me to buy something, of course.

Around 9 Sophia was up for the day, so I headed into another room to play, but Andrei sent me back to bed. After tossing and turning, I was just drifting back to sleep when a friend called. I lied and pretende…

Remembering

While gathering some notes about my late grandfather to help process his passing, I was surprised that I hadn't blogged about my trip to Budapest with my grandparents and older brother back in 2007. That was my first year of blogging when I was pretty regular. There's just a gap during those dates. But, it was a great vacation, so I'm glad I spent the time enjoying myself and their company.


Looking ahead

Just bought tickets for our trip to the States in a little over a month. I don't think it's hit me what I've gotten myself into. In fact, I don't think I can even imagine what it will be like with 2 kids!

We ended up having to switch airlines due to seat availability, but maybe that will be a good thing. Our last experience was actually pretty unpleasant. When we touched down in Frankfurt, we needed a few extra minutes to get off the plane. We let others go by us before getting all our bags down, Sophia (5 weeks old) in the carrier, etc. It was hard even getting our shoes on with the crowds around us and taking turns holding the baby. But apparently there was very little turnaround time or something, and the stewardess (polite up to this point) came up and started barking at us to get off RIGHT THIS MINUTE. And then she proceeded to stand over us, yelling, as we tried to gather our things now that our nerves were shot. No offers to hold the baby, help with bags, etc. …

May survey/selfie

Just realized this didn't post! Back-dating...


What I've been...


Reading: "Light of my Heart" (Silver Hills trilogy by Ginny Aiken), continuing "Center Church" by Timothy Keller

Watching:  Started the new "Anne of Green Gables" on Netflix. Decided not to continue. Anyone want to discuss?

Cooking/Eating: Sour cream pound cake, chicken wings, zucchini bread, buckwheat, cinnamon rolls (not necessarily in that order).

Listening to: Andrei on the radio. :)

Striving towards: Taking care of trip planning and all the other adult responsibilities.

Looking forward to: Seeing family this summer.

What David is up to: Learning some letters, sculpting with Play-Dough, and handling snakes at a petting zoo!

What Sophia is up to: Getting into everything...including the food on our plates as opposed to her own. ;)


Your turn!

Playground-hopping

Monday morning. Woke up assuming Andrei would be around for a few hours this morning, but it turned out that his class schedule rotates, so he had 2 classes as opposed to one this time, and had to be on his way. I got to work on breakfast for me and David. I shared my egg with Sophia even though she's not a year yet and could have a reaction.

We found out yesterday a friend was in town and was free to spend the day with us. Sometimes spontaneous visits are the most successful because there is no time to go back and forth about whether it will work out...we have been trying to get together with so many people with little luck.

As soon as Sophia was asleep I had about an hour to clean and spent 15 minutes in the bathroom, 15 in the living room, and 30 in the kitchen....which still was barely enough to scratch the surface. ;)

Another thing going on was my laptop not functioning...as I mentioned, some of the keys aren't working due to a water spill. Andrei took it with him to dro…

Spring is/was here-Part 2

Catching up around here...

-typing on a borrowed keyboard as my laptop keyboard met with a water accident. Have you ever had a computer take a really long time to dry out? Wondering if I should give up and take it in to the repair shop...

-building heat is officially off as of a week or two ago. At the same time, the hot water is being worked on, so it was off for a few days last week. Sounds minor now but I'm still catching up on dishes!

-I really love spring. Too bad it only gets here a few weeks before summer. Summer starts June 1st in Russia. But spring will be able to catch up since summer doesn't really get here until...who knows when!

-it might not get hot every summer, but there's no canceling White Nights! We've been going on lots of walks (for us), and it's nice to be able to go outside in the daylight way into the afternoon and evening.

-way behind in summer trip planning, and even harder without a functioning computer. Hmmmm...check out my Instagram fe…

Spring is/was here, Part 1- annual avitaminosis

Hi, friends! May has been "sick month" here. Or I guess I should say, since Easter.

From a post I started about a month ago:

The kids are both sick for the first time, and I realized that part of me has been waiting for this moment: to play nurse and coddle with soft blankets, juice boxes, and all-day cartoons.

What are the things you said you'd never do, as a parent? I think I planned on being fairly strict, and I wanted to encourage my child(ren) to be independent. I love those lists going around with chores for each age, starting at 2 or 3. BUT...another meme caught my eye recently. It goes something like this: If your child is asking you to do something that he(she) can do himself, that simply means that he LIKES when you do it for him. Imagine if you asked someone for a favor and were told "nope, you're capable of doing it yourself." I remember as a child what a treat it was to be carried even when I was "too big" for it. Or when I got to watc…

April Survey/Selfie

What I've been...


Reading: "After a Stroke Strikes" by Charles Kegley, "Field of Ashes" by Rachel Miller, "The Appomattox Saga Omnibus" by Gilbert Miller, and "Center Church..." by Timothy Keller

Watching:  (on Netflix) "Today's Special," "The Lady in the Van," "Little Boxes"

Cooking/Eating: Funchoza (glass noodles with stir-fry), Easter eggs, Banana muffins, Borscht

Listening to: Raffi

Striving towards: Kicking the family virus

Looking forward to: More spring days!

What David is up to: Putting puzzles together by himself (100 pieces is the new record).

What Sophia is up to: Implementing new dance moves.


Your turn!


Processing

I don't know if there is any way to kind of "speed up" the processing that you go through after traumatic (major or minor) events. If we could control it, I suppose we would choose to fall apart only when convenient. I know as a parent especially, I try to "hold it together" until another adult comes and I can go cry. But again, it isn't that easy to control.

So this month there have been a lot of various stressful events-terrorist attacks, church conflict, holiday tension....and I felt totally calm. Well, on the day of the bombing, I wanted to cry, but didn't want the kids to get upset...yet by evening, the feelings were gone.

Then with church stuff, I honestly felt at peace. But when I was physically at the church meeting, it all started coming back...just like I had to go through certain emotions when entering the metro after the terrorist attack. I had to be in the sanctuary and see the empty seats to really feel the loss.

We've got colds in ou…

The wounded

Woke up to news of U.S. airstrike on Syria. Ummm....not sure what the consequences of that are going to be!

Last night I was scrolling through FB and happened to click on a stranger's page that has a lot of friends in common with me. I ended up reading the pages of a family whose teenage daughter was wounded in this week's bombing.

As they attend one of the local churches here, a prayer chain had gone out, but now I had a face to fit the name.

Based on the posts I saw, it went like this:

-the teenager was helped out of the metro by a woman who heeded her request to go home to her parents, despite her injuries

-the girl only knew her father's cell phone number from memory, so they called her father, who called her mother to warn her that her injured daughter was about to show up on her doorstep

-they called an ambulance, which arrived in about an hour*

-the girl had some shrapnel on her leg and a ruptured eardrum, and required surgery

-her sister was having trouble getting…

3 days later

Sophia is 8 months old today. It's hard to believe that the bomb was just 3 days ago. It doesn't even come up in conversation anymore and we are back to complaining about the same old things.

When I've taken the time to think about it, I've been observing how many encouraging stories there have been about what happened. I guess I have a few other tragedies in my mind, like Beslan and the Moscow theater hostage situations, and those seemed to be such a mess. Maybe you can't really compare the situations....is a suicide bombing much different from an accidental explosion, in the immediate aftermath? Certainly different from dodging bullets, but still a very panicky situation, it would seem...

Since there isn't much coverage on English-language news sites, here are a few things I've been reading about:

-accounts of how calm and organized the evacuation of the metro was
-bystanders/other passengers selflessly offering first aid
-people helping each other get a…

Day after

Everything is normal. Nothing will be the same.

I spent much less time reading the news today, once I realized there was not going to be anything additional. The names of victims have been published, but I don't recognize any of them. There's been a new attack in Syria, with many more casualties-how very, very awful. :(

It feels like we're kind of isolated. Our friends and family around the world showed concern, but today it is back to business as usual. A CNN headline reads "As Russia mourns St Petersburg attack, Europe shows little solidarity." And I think I can finally agree. In the past, I felt that Russians were being too hasty to accuse the West of favoritism and/or bias, mourning one terrorist attack and not another. But I really noticed it this time. I was so sad for London, and many people were. But I do not know anyone in London. And yet, I did not feel that strangers were sad for St. Petersburg. There are probably people who haven't even heard, bu…

Chance of terror

It has always seemed like terrorist attacks always occur somewhere else-even in Russia, they are usually in Moscow, or in some conflict zone. I never expected it here.

14:40 The blast occurred
15:00 I knew Andrei was finishing his lectures, so I texted him to ask him to buy some bread so we could have sandwiches for lunch.
15:15 My MIL's phone rang (she was at our house), and it was Andrei calling to say there had been an explosion. The metro station nearest his work was closed, so he was headed to the other metro line.

I started notifying people that we were okay, and Nina called Vladimir (Andrei's father) to say he was safe. Vladimir started crying with relief.

I was about to burst into tears myself. I was mostly stunned into silence. David was full of energy and irritated that we were making phone calls instead of letting him play freely with Nina.

15:45 Andrei called to say he had made it halfway home but that the metro was being evacuated (seemed logical in case of other…

March Survey/Selfie

What I've been...


Reading: How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind (stay tuned for a book review)

Watching: Doc Martin season 7

Cooking/Eating: Challah

Listening to: Michael Card

Striving towards: Surviving my daughter's sleep regression.

Looking forward to: Easter and more spring days.

What David is up to: Making up new and creative dance moves! Surprised me, too!

What Sophia is up to: Eating (and pooping) stickers and other tiny, tiny things she picks up off the floor...yay for pincer grasp!



-Your turn!

Which Country to Call Home, Part 2

About a month ago, I wrote about our destination as an international family. You can read that post here. After I published it, a friend reminded me about Jesus (in Luke and Matthew) having "no place to lay his head." That is comfort that I have drawn on at times, and it's important to remember that nothing is certain and any of us could find ourselves homeless at any time. For families of mixed citizenship, of course the horrible thought (or reality!) of being separated may rear its head at times. This is something I don't think about too much, even though I can travel to many countries on short notice without a visa, while Andrei cannot. I will have to renew my residency permit soon, including passing an exam! David and Sophia are on visas until we figure out a longer-term solution, and those are never guaranteed either. And who knows what international relations will be like in the future?

So I had sort of written about things from the point of view of human emot…

Family life

I figured if I went to write a status report then everything would change. Sure enough, I was going to write about how David had been calmer lately, and then he was a bit out of control today. Oh well, I think in general he is getting used to having a younger sibling. In some ways it is just as I pictured: brother and sister doing funny things and entertaining the rest of us. Along with fighting over toys and pinching each other or whatever.

I noticed recently that David was playing by himself more and okay with me doing something else or even being in a different room. It's great if I can get something done without needing to turn on a show for him.

Sonya (Sophia) is army-crawling and even has callouses on her tiny toes from pushing off. She has become very interested in small objects. I have systems for keeping David's toys boxed up and out of the way, but there is always that one thing that gets out...and if there is one small object in the entire room, Sonya will find tha…

Middle March

Well, that week flew by! I guess it got taken over by Women's Day, a church function, and registering the kids' passports.

So, the run-down on our daytrip to Finland. It was boring, hooray. I didn't even take any photos except on the train.

We decided to give our beaten up umbrella stroller one last run (we ended up getting another one the next day), figuring we could ditch it and use a soft carrier if it fell apart. It held up, though. Sophia was alert for the train ride as it wasn't yet her usual naptime, but then went to sleep.

Everything went fine with border control. There were a couple funny things about the train such as it not having a baby changing station despite it being the family car. It was way easier having 2 adults, though the train ride was only 2 hours. I think the hardest part was getting on and off and riding the metro to the actual train station.



We went to the same small town in Finland and again I was struck by how quiet it was. Such a relief af…

Coming Up

It's off to Finland again! We have to do another border run.

Andrei got a visa this time, and they even gave it to him for 2 years. So, technically he's covered to visit other Schengen countries as well. I was thinking the other day...it would be sooo much easier if he had a U.S. passport. We've never really had a pressing need for him to have U.S. citizenship, but if you add up all the visa applications, it would eventually pay off to go through the process.

We are going to try the same route as last time...yep, the train stop with 2 minutes to get off, where the door didn't open for me and David. But I'm guessing that only happens to me, so hopefully Andrei will handle the door and we'll be all set! Still haven't bought a new stroller though, so not quite sure how Sophia is going to get around. Less than 24 hours to decide!

Other than that, we're hoping for a non-eventful trip. No visa problems, stuck doors, sickness, etc. Okay, God? :)

I'll writ…

It's getting real

It's an age of many transitions-6 months, that is (almost 7 by the time I post this).





I'd been looking forward to feeding Sophia "people" food, at the very least because she acts so offended when we eat in front of her! Literally, looks at someone taking a bite and starts sobbing. I started mixing up some purees for her, which she tastes sort of nonchalantly. However, now I think "do I HAVE to feed her?" just thinking of all the extra dishes and laundry it creates. I'm looking forward to table foods even more, when we'll just toss some of whatever we're eating on her tray.

Meanwhile, she is getting pretty mobile. She already crawls on her tummy like a pro and is much more determined about getting toys beyond her reach. The floor often seems like the safest place for her now, rather than squirming out of someone's arms. I don't think we bed-shared with David at this age-it's intense! She scratches and kicks, practicing her crawling m…

February Survey/Selfie

What I've been...

Reading: The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country

Watching: The Beginning of Life: The Series (on Netflix)

Learning: Biblical Greek 

Cooking/Eating: Too many baked goods, including these, these, and these.

Listening to: Easter hymns

Striving towards: Going to bed earlier and decluttering my life.


What David is up to: Counting, gummy anacondas, and everything glow-in-the-dark

What Sophia is up to: Army-crawling, opening/closing drawers, trying finger foods, playing peekaboo


-Your turn!


Perspective: Which country to call home

4 years ago, David was a baby and everyone was asking me if/when we were planning on leaving Russia. I wrote about it in this post.

Now they're asking again, in addition to wanting to know our specific plans for school!

Back when I was having trouble getting a visa to stay in Russia long-term, I remember this issue coming up: If I get a full-time job to stay in Russia, then I can't do the things I was doing before. I wondered if it was worth all that time and effort. Other missionaries were starting to relocate and move towards similar ministry, but in a neighboring country.

Why would we pack up and leave? Russia is our home. There are people to love all over the world, but it's not like you can close your eyes and point at the map to choose where to go next. There has to be more direction than that. I've moved before, so I know what it's like and I've dealt with all sorts of bureaucracy before. It wouldn't stop me. But in order to be willing to do that, y…

The Urban Housewife and Proverbs 31

I was a bit bowled over by a blog post I stumbled upon. The blog itself seems like it has a lot of posts about conservative Christian homemaking that I would normally agree with, and I actually want to read more of her writing. However, the more I live abroad and gain perspective in housekeeping/family life, the more I realize that the suburban American Christian vision of a housewife isn't necessarily a universal ideal.

So with that little intro in mind, here is the situation. Someone wrote to this blogger (linked above) asking for advice on boredom and loneliness as a housewife. The blogger had a fairly-anonymous male reader write a response from a husband's viewpoint.

I guess my first issue is with the women who were supposedly commenting that they were bored. I can't even imagine having "nothing to do!" I can't imagine looking around a house that is already clean and wondering what to do next. Every once in a while I will hear a comment from a woman who …

What Christian marriage really looks like

When Andrei and I were engaged or maybe newly married, I remember talking with a friend about how hard it was to find time to spend together as a couple. She had been married a while already and had a few kids, and kind of laughed a little in response. "I remember those days!" she said. And I wondered what other kind of marriage relationship there would be, once you're not striving to spend every minute of every day together.

One thing that happens sometimes if you're church members is that the ministry that might have brought you together in the first place often keeps you physically apart. You might fall in love with someone by seeing him/her serving others, but later that service is what keeps your loved one from coming home earlier. And your family life might be interrupted by ministry-related phone calls. Even weekends are often taken up by "church activities." When Andrei and I were dating, my dad once visited our church on a Sunday, and wondered if w…

Making friends like it's your job

Being a mother has made me more isolated, but it's not what you'd think. Just as difficult situations can make or break a friendship, it's similar with parenting, especially in another culture. In my case I think I became somewhat intimidated by Russian mothers, and stopped reaching out. I mention Russian mothers because I think Americans are more individualistic, and can be more tolerant. But I am careful there, too. Just like with politics, I don't bring up certain parenting topics with American friends unless I suspect we'll be pretty much on the same page.

Anyway, when David was a few months old, I was talking to a friend from church on the phone. She'd had her second baby several months earlier. I confessed to her that the hormones were still getting to me. She said "really?" and I didn't know what else to say. I'd just assumed that there were certain maternal buzzwords you just had to utter ("diaper rash"...."teething&quo…

What went wrong?

I was thinking about all the years I've been blogging, and noting how I stopped writing as much. That's true of a lot of blogs I used to follow as well. Even though we all say we don't have the time, I know one issue is privacy. And somewhat related to that, I find myself not wanting to be as candid. When I look back at previous entries, I want to feel casual enough to just write about my day, or share something I'm struggling with. But it doesn't come as naturally. And I feel nervous nowadays sharing what's on my heart.

I observe some pretty amusing things each day, but I'm afraid of just having a "mommy" blog. Yuck. And yet...it also bugs me when women bloggers write about and photograph beautiful things, but never share a word about their daily messes or parenting struggles. There has to be a little bit of real life in there. So, I'll have to let the words come, even if they are about the same old day-to-day issues...like the person curren…

And then 10 years went by in a flash

So I was waiting around for an important anniversary, and now it's come and gone...oh well. If you look at the archives in my sidebar, my very first post was on February 5, 2007. Ten years of blogging! And it's not only the blogging that's interesting, so much as the living that was going on during that time period.

I'll be honest: I find anniversaries on other people's blogs pretty boring. So feel free to scroll on by, but in case you're just joining up and want to catch up on my missionary life pre-kids, etc, here is a selection of posts from each year.

(Side-note: have you ever printed and/or published a blog? Or just backed up the posts somehow? Wondering about a good format...)

2007
-How to choose from just one of the 226 posts? I wrote about faith, culture, orphans, teaching English, Bible study, friendship, and probably food, too. A good representation of that phase is probably the post entitled The State of Things.  It's interesting for me to read …

Aspects of living abroad

So I wrote about grocery shopping recently and now I have something to share about the postal system in Russia.

I just completed an experiment in which I ordered some books online to see how long they would take to get here. I'm not sure about big cities in the U.S., but here it's like being back in college: you get a package slip in your mailbox and have to go to the pick-up window. Kind of exciting but a let-down at the same time because you have an extra errand to do before getting your package.

Post offices are pretty easy to find and ours is practically visible from our kitchen window (if you kind of crane your neck a bit). I've written before about how the hours can be confusing, but it turns out that the pick-up window doesn't have a lunch break.

A few weeks ago, the first part of my order came in. It had been shipped separately from Great Britain. The pick-up window is open until 8pm and it was around 6, so I grabbed my passport, threw on a coat, and headed ov…

Rocking

The baby stopped napping recently, or I should say she started fighting sleep. Too much to see and do, I guess! Andrei has always been the bedtime person and I've never really had the knack, aka patience/stamina. I'll have to look back through my notes from David but up until now we pretty much would give a pacifier to Sophia and she would go to sleep. And then for nighttime Andrei would rock her a bit. But now for naps she waits for someone to actually put her to sleep.

A couple of times Andrei wasn't home and she just kept crying. Finally I got out the baby carrier, which I had intended to use more, but then found out it can be hard on a weak core. But I think the most damage would be from doing a lot of chores while wearing the baby. Just walking around a bit wearing the baby (I've heard up until an hour) is okay, until your core muscles get weak and you start to compensate. So I decided to get it out and have it handy for emergencies. One of those came about the o…

"Grocery haul"

I titled this post ironically. We don't do that kind of grocery shopping around here. I'm trying to think of how to explain it. The style here is kind of a mix between minimalism (smaller living space and especially kitchens) and hoarding from the instilled fear of a deficit. So, I guess similar to couponing where you would grab up all the toothpaste on sale or something. But there's not a lot of sale items that we would need, and meats/veggies on sale tend to be already on their way out. So if we do get sale items they can be pretty random like a big bag of cookies or tea bags. We pretty much go out and buy the staples pretty regularly, or my in-laws bring food. Not always a lot of variation, but sometimes something really yummy like bacon.

Today I was on a walk and entered the store just as I was getting hungry for lunch. Suddenly, everything in the store looked appetizing, even non-food items. I was particularly drawn to some cute tins of tea, but already have tons of …

My little boy

You know the joke (sort of) about how new parents look down at their baby and wonder when the "real" parents will show up? Only because it is such a great responsibility!

Confession time: I STILL feel that way, even though my son just turned 4.5 years old. How is he MINE? How am I old enough to have kids? (and some of my friends have teenagers) When are the real grown-ups going to show up and make the decisions and take him to the doctor and shepherd his little heart? I'm so glad I don't have to do it by myself. Because I'm winging it.




When I take the time to slow down, I wonder if I'm too late to enjoy him while he's still little. What if he doesn't need me anymore? I yell "I love you!" just to test it out, and he still says it back. :) I reach out for a cuddle, and he's still up for it. Whew. I can't carry him around anymore. And since I stopped trying to carry him around much about a year ago, it always surprises me when I put my…

Unlimited

A lot of people were commenting on how awful 2016 was. And I can definitely think of people near me who have lost loved ones very recently. Even as I type this, the names and faces float across my mind, and I lift them up to the Lord. A child...a mother....an orphanage director...a father. Sometimes it is just something that happens to other people, and sometimes it is closer to home.

He isn't doing it as much now, but David had a period this fall where he was asking me about death a lot.

"Mommy, I don't want to die, EVER." And I just say "I know." Because I don't want to trivialize the grim reality of death by saying something too chipper, and neither do I want to admit that it scares me, too.

But one day we had a talk about new bodies, and he kind of latched on to that idea. And by the next evening he had a new prayer request: that we would die soon, to see Jesus, to get new bodies, so that he could run fast and Nina could pick him up and play rough …