Saturday, March 25, 2017

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 emotions, though my trust is in God. The times of high stress with red tape come in waves, and right now we don't have any major deadlines.

We are in a time of peace. My spirit is at peace and I don't worry about the future. It's partly thanks to my faith and partly the season that we're in. Another season may have me freaking out, but I don't see that as a sign of weakness. I believe that God predisposes us as individuals to be anxious in some situations and stronger in others. I don't see the worry itself as a flaw. It's what we do with it. I'm not afraid of flying, or most travel. But the packing will have me losing sleep every time. Maybe God will take away that feeling of stress someday, or maybe He just uses it to keep me humble. I fully expect to be brought to my knees many more times in this life. When it comes to parenting, Andrei and I sometimes get anxious in contrasting situations. I might be totally calm while he's worrying, and vice versa. But we're both right, and we honor each other's concerns.

I've never liked to speculate. Ever since I was young, I never had any clear ideas about the future. I delayed my college entry decision until the last possible minute, and I declared my major on the last Friday of the last week possible of sophomore year. It was hard when people would ask, because "undecided" wasn't a satisfactory answer. And then people wanted me to make a guess anyway. But I didn't know the future. Then at graduation everyone wanted to know, too. Nope, I never planned to be a missionary. I suppose it is normal to ask these kinds of questions, to show an interest in someone. But....why can't "I don't know?" be an answer? I don't like to say I'm going to do something, if I'm not sure.
Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. -Matt. 5:33-37

Maybe this is why I don't like to talk about it...I don't want to make a promise I can't keep. But the other side of the coin is that I love to make charts and plans and do the research on various leads. So while I might not reveal anything that is uncertain, chances are that I have plenty of ideas brewing, with all of the details mapped up. And I'm happy to share any KNOWN factors with anyone interested. But right now it is on more of a smaller scale; no major life changes at the moment!


Thursday, March 16, 2017

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 that one object.

I've felt that kind of bone-tiredness lately where you are kind of going on auto-pilot, totally exhausted. Definitely spacey at times and having a hard time forming complete sentences! Sonya is up a lot at night.  For a while she was waking up halfway through the night, eating, and then playing for like an hour. I often had to call Andrei to come take her and rock her back to sleep. So basically I would start out sleeping with David, then switch rooms and sleep with Sonya, and then go back and forth a few more times. The beds are on opposite sides so I kept getting confused about where the edge was! Basically like the newborn days. Sonya isn't playing as much at night but she still wakes up a lot and whines or moves around. I don't normally look at the clock, but there are a lot of disruptions.

Speaknig (whoops) of sleep, I had this whole plan to cut out computer time in the evening and go to bed earlier. I was going to be well-rested. I think Sonya started the shenanigans around the same time. So after a few days I was going to bed earlier, but behind on various correspondence, missing things like blogging, and still sleep-deprived. So now I don't know.

It will probably all be different a week from now anyway...and then different again the next week.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

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 after being in a big city, like someone had hit the volume button. The weather was just as grey, though. And without big-city sights to provide a little color in the winter, I think it would be a little dull. Definitely pros and cons. I liked immediately noticing ethnic diversity-not that it's absent in Russia, just a different mix. The little stores downtown had so much character, and that's something I miss about living in a small town, buying from local artisans and things like that. If we'd been in a car I probably would have made quite a few purchases! But as it was, our budget went towards train tickets and lunch, and our hands were full from carrying emergency changes of clothing. Oh, and apparently I'm supposed to notify my bank a week before entering a new country, which I had failed to do.

We visited a nice restaurant that I had found on the internet. It felt a little odd being alone there on a Saturday, and I wondered what Finns do on weekends. Were they all out skiing? Home doing chores? Out shopping? But we just relaxed and enjoyed it as Sophia took her nap in the stroller.

We still had about 2 hours and decided to visit the Railway Museum. But once there, we realized we didn't have the motivation to even go inside. David was having great fun running up and down their handicapped ramp and was disappointed that we were leaving. But it was cold outside! So we went to the train station and sat in the waiting area, and David and I went up and down the escalator and elevator and staircase.

On the ride home everyone was a little cranky, of course. But I really felt for a lady sitting near us whose toddler had not napped. She tried the whole way to put him to sleep, and he was only getting drowsy at the end, when it was after 7 pm.

At the next opportunity, Andrei and his father went to the Immigration Office to register David and Sophia at his parents' address.

Now we need to look into getting them permanent residency so that we don't have to always be counting days in and days out. But I think it may be a long process-no fast lane even though they're Russian and I already have permanent residency.



Friday, March 3, 2017

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 write about it when we get back. Although, if it turns out non-eventful, then it might not make for a very interesting blog post...

Thursday, March 2, 2017

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 moves. Time for a guard-rail, stat! Anyway, I think she's going to be a feisty one, so I'm bracing myself. I'm hoping David will be able to help entertain her sometimes. They are already pretty competitive. He commands us to look at him and listen when he is speaking. She hides under a blanket and waits for us to ask "Where's Sophia?"

I was looking back at my blog archives to see when David reached certain milestones, and found this fun post from exactly 4 years ago! Definitely the same things currently going on with Sophia, though she was born a month later, so she might be ahead a tad.

Some differences:

-I don't think of Sophia as fussy or clingy, as I noted with David. Maybe I'm just more relaxed about "getting stuff done"? Of course, David can help sometimes, too.

-Sophia stopped napping too, but I guess earlier on we figured out that she sleeps well in the baby buggy, especially in the winter. We put her in her snowsuit and open the porch window so she's "outside."