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To operate or not to operate?

First night in the hospital...

The door to our room burst open around 2:30 a.m., but it wasn't for me. We were getting our fifth roommate. Zina had gone home for the weekend, but her bed was still reserved as she wasn't officially discharged yet. And now a new patient would occupy the remaining bed.

Lights were turned on and the new roommate squealed a little bit as the nurse tried to place an IV. I eventually learned that evening/weekend nurses were not the best at this type of procedure. And began to pray a silent prayer of thanks that I had an IV port in my wrist and didn't need a needle poke each time.




Saturday

Around 6 a.m., the nurse came in and beeped our foreheads with the thermometer and left. There were still a few hours until wake-up time and I had snapped a photo of the daily schedule on my phone. If you've read about my experience when David was hospitalized, it was a lot like that. In fact, this hospital ward was quite similar, except with adult patients, …

Where the month went

No posts on my blog for November. But there's a simple explanation for that!

Let's start with a month ago where I'm sitting in the ambulance. After 2 WEEKS of abdominal pain, an ultrasound has finally revealed a ruptured appendix. I wonder at what point it ruptured and whether it could have been detected sooner...such as 5 days earlier when I was at the doctor and they said "it's probably not your appendix, but I'd have to see the lab work..."

Once they saw the appendicitis on the ultrasound, the medics at the private clinic were quick in making a few phone calls and arranging transport to the hospital. At this point I was actually somewhat calm and relieved that the source of pain had finally been identified. I was hoping for an easy-peasy laparoscopic procedure and then I'd be done with my appendix for life! In fact, almost everyone I talked to seemed quite cheerful about it. While waiting for the ambulance, I saw the gynecologist whom I had seen ear…

Motels and milestones

I couldn't really blog for a few weeks because I was spending my evenings (which start at 11 pm) looking for lodging for a 25-person family reunion in New England next summer. I like the challenge of a little online research. But it's actually hard looking for accommodations for such a large group. I even polled FB but no one had any specific suggestions. I found lots and lots of nice vacation rentals that seemed to cap out at about 20 people. Many houses had 6-8 bedrooms, but with 7 adult siblings plus parents (and all the men in my family are tall) plus spouses and kids, a queen bedroom for each family unit was not exactly sounding like a situation that would lead to peace and harmony.

Also, it turns out that October is not too early to book summer accommodations. Some places seemed to be still updating their rates, but lots were booked either from earlybirds or returning customers. And since I had to run ideas by everyone else, it wasn't possible to really jump on thos…

A journal entry

This week so far:

-Andrei is working double-time this week in 2 different universities. So we're seeing less of him. On the other hand, we've been having lots of adventures on our own.

-It's been unseasonably warm. So we've been going outside a lot. REALLY hot in our apartment, though. I wrote about the heat coming on...now it's full-blast and up to 60 or 70 outside with the sun BAKING us. The weather is luscious, being baked isn't...but we will probably see colder days very soon! In the meantime, I cover myself in cool cloths to sleep, lol.

-On one of our walks, we first met a grandmother with her 2 yr old granddaughter. The little girl was enthralled by David and we learned that she has a big brother at home. Then we were taking a peek at the ducks and bumped into the one neighbor that we're sort of friends with, also with her granddaughter, whom she had taken out of preschool due to difficulty adjusting. I realized later that I find the grandmothers eas…

What's your hygge style?

The seasons are changing and I'm taking whatever measures I can to keep the increasing gloom from infiltrating our household. Aside from spiritual inspiration, there are of course many ways to make an environment feel more cozy.


I think it's partly nostalgia that triggers all those seasonal associations year after year. The sound of crunching leaves reminds us of a favorite fall recipe, or a Christmas song brings us back to the place we spent Christmas as a child. Along with that, there is more research nowadays to demonstrate that not only traditions, but a certain type of lighting and other details actually alter our brain, and arranging the environment the right way can help battle conditions such as Seasonal Affective Disorder.

I can't remember when I first heard the actual term "Hygge," but it wasn't yet the hot trend it is at the moment. I think it appeals to a lot of us because it combines our cozy traditions (a favorite type of drink, music, aromathe…

The coldest week of the year

I think around this time of year if I'm blogging actively, I tend to write about the germs going around, the days getting shorter...and of course, the wait for the heat to come on in our building (in addition to the beautiful fall foliage, of course).


The city turns the heat on-we have no control over what temperature or when, and once it's on, it will stay on at mostly full blast until April or so. At least, that's the way it seems. I did an internet search for what date it usually comes on in St. Petersburg-of course it is always a big topic of discussion here. The first week of October seemed to be the average.

I'm not sure how it works in the U.S.... I know individual families can decide when to turn the heat on,  but are there any restrictions, or could you turn it on any old day, like in the summer, for instance? I forget. I know that if you are in charge of your family home thermostat, you must keep a budget in mind. That's one question that we don't ha…

The school year so far

As usual I have many huge topics in my drafts folder, and I'm not sure when I will be able to sit down and finish those off. But no one wants to read long posts anyway, right? So maybe it's better to write about everyday life.

Home education:

David is 6 years old, kindergarten age for Russia but in U.S. he might be in first grade by now. At any rate, he's not going anywhere at the moment. It's partly the school system and partly his complexities. Let's just say he thrives most in a one-on-one environment (as opposed to the rumored 30-person class sizes at local schools). Although I wish he had more friends his age, I can also think of many wonderful adults in my life whom he would find very entertaining. It's just a matter of being open to the right opportunities. So, we aren't really worried about socializing him. It just might look different.

We thought about signing up for more classes at the cultural center down the street. But David did not seem eager…

Flying, continued

I suppose I'd better finish my tale!

We made it to the hotel with all our baggage and family members, and tucked in for the night. I set my alarm for breakfast ahead of the 11 am checkout.

The kids slept in fairly late and we let them since there wouldn't be anywhere to put Sophia down for a nap preceding our 7 pm flight. I waited and waited and finally just went down to the lobby to get breakfast since we clearly weren't going to all be ready.

On the way up with the breakfast, I asked the concierge about the airport shuttle as far as the 11 am checkout. Well, the "last" shuttle was at 10 am. Until 4 pm. Huh. I couldn't quite wrap my head around that one...11 am checkout...shuttle until 10 am. It was too late for the shuttle, anyway. I headed back upstairs to finish packing.

We were downstairs and checking out by 11, and the hotel mistakenly put the charge on my debit card. Nope, DELTA will be covering that one! Luckily I caught it and got them to fix it. M…

Flying by the seat of my pants

Have you ever missed a flight? Now I know what that feels like. Read on...

After spending a few weeks with my parents in the U.S, it was time to fly back to Russia. We had arranged with a transport company to be picked up 5 hours before our flight, leaving 3 hours for the 2 hour drive, arriving at least 2 hours before our flight.

It was our standard time to leave, but none of us checked the road conditions or had any idea that a MASSIVE construction project had been underway for the past few weeks. We certainly would have planned to leave earlier if we'd known! And the transport company definitely should have checked, too.



Soon after we got underway, the driver checked his GPS and realized we needed to take a detour. So off we went on the scenic route. I figured our extra hour would help, but the situation was more serious than that! We were creeping along on country roads. When we finally neared the city (Boston), we hit bumper-to-bumper traffic. I was avoiding looking at the GP…

Breaking up

I've written some about our church conflict, and sometimes an interesting development comes up that would be good to share, but then I run out of time OR it goes downhill again and I can't find the words anymore.

I will share eventually about the "dating" side of this period, but unfortunately right now we are still seeing relationships break down.

We have to say goodbye to being in close fellowship with a lot of long-time friends.

-they were my family for years when I was alone in a foreign country
-they walked with me through numerous trials
-they rooted for us when we were planning to marry
-they organized and witnessed our wedding
-they saw us become parents for the first time

Part of me doesn't even want to look at the wedding photos, or birthday cards from over the years, various gifts in my possession that came from these friends. Breaking up does that to you, right? You just want to erase the memories? I look at our different personalities and wonder wha…

Hosting World Cup 2018 and other news

Haven't had a chance to write in weeks, and the World Cup has been in progress for a few weeks already. It's so cool being a host city! I've never been to the Olympics or any other large-scale sports competitions, so this is kind of a new experience.


Although thousands of tourists hit St. Petersburg at this time of year, the demographic is totally different, of course. Instead of wealthy retirees or others simply on vacation, there are sports fans of all ages... not just from European/northern countries, but lots from the Middle East and Latin America, too. As you can imagine, that shakes up the cultural atmosphere just a little! It's so warm and friendly here. I love Russian culture, and have a cultural post coming up when I have the time. But all the people walking around smiling makes such a difference. Even the locals are admitting that despite the congestion and longer commute, the celebratory mood is contagious. It's hard not to smile when Brazilians and Egy…

Movie theater triggers

Summer always has a special feeling in the air. In St. Petersburg, of course, it stays light until close to midnight nowadays.

David's workshops are over, so he is on "vacation," resting from all his hard work. ;)

Andrei's workload fluctuates. Lately we've been having guests several times a week, so it feels busy even though Andrei is working fewer days. And the summer will probably fly by!

Since Saturdays are free now, Andrei and David (almost 6) went to the movies this weekend. And they let ME come, too! My in-laws stayed home with Sophia (almost 2). We don't often do this type of configuration because David is so attached to his grandparents. But he was okay with leaving with us as long as he knew he could play with them afterwards.

It was my first time in a movie theater since The Fire at Kemerovo a few months ago. I wouldn't really say I was nervous, just more aware. Probably the way Americans might have felt after the Aurora shooting. I looked arou…

A story of escape

"...our house didn't have a bathtub. Nobody's house did. In 1960. In paradise on earth." 

To celebrate World Book Day on April 23, Amazon was making available some free Kindle books from international authors. I downloaded a selection of them and read the first one earlier this week. It's called A River in Darkness: One Man's Escape from North Korea, by Masaji Ishikawa. This book is an autobiography.

There has been more attention to North Korea in the news recently. Honestly, I did not know many details about the Korean War even though I live in a post-Soviet country and my home country was involved as well. I guess I have been focused more on Russian history.

Even though I'd heard rumors of starvation in North Korea, this book, written by a survivor, erases any doubts. As I was reading it, I kept thinking about periods of starvation in Russian history, such as Collectivization under Stalin (with estimates of anywhere from 7-20 million casualties), or the…

What's wrong with staring at your cell phone?

Something has been bugging me and it's hard to put into words. I'm a millennial, also sometimes known as the "xennial" generation, characterized by having an "analog childhood and digital adulthood." I was 17 when I got a computer and started using email, instant messenger, Google, etc.



Meanwhile, Facebook wasn't really around until after my college years, nor did I have a cell phone until after college.

How about you?

I've been wondering lately what factors combine to form someone's attitude towards the internet and social media. Is it an age thing? Socio-economic? Personality?

Aside from that, there's a meme (image being passed around) with a few variations that shows a large number of people staring down at their cellphones. This is clearly presented as a bad thing, but no one comes out and says why it's bad. So I'm asking here, what do you think?

For example, one variation compares cell phone users to zombies, walking around wit…

April Survey/Selfie

What I've been...


Reading: Mr. Popper's Penguins, Little House in the Big Woods, Habits: The Mother's Secret to Success (Charlotte Mason), The Unhurried Homeschooler (Durenda Wilson-check out her blog)

Watching: Tumble Leaf (with David). Still had several seasons of WCTH to catch up on, but they just killed off one of the main characters, so I don't think I'll keep watching. :/

Cooking/Eating: Homemade chebureki, homemade bagels, hummus with fresh veggies, yogurt muffins

Listening to: Russian kids' songs on YouTube

Striving towards: Eating healthier and core rehab

Looking forward to: Spring projects

What David is up to: Reciting verses for his class, learning more and more letters of the alphabet, collecting toy frogs.

What Sophia is up to: Jumping and climbing, learning new words, taking care of dollies, "reading" out loud, babbling, getting all her clothes out to go for a walk, running around in her birthday suit at home. :)




Your turn!


Don't wanna

5 years ago, I had just applied for Permanent Resident status in St. Petersburg. It is the most permanent status you can get without going for citizenship. I started to read about Green Cards in the U.S. to do a comparison, but I don't really have time to do a full comparison, so I just jotted down a few points. I'm not sure if someone with a Green Card in the U.S. would need to prove their residency very often unless they were traveling abroad a lot. But I could be wrong.


Green Card

-valid for 10 years
-can stay out of the U.S. for up to 1 year...however, you can be investigated if you are gone for certain lengths of time
-don't need to demonstrate English proficiency until applying for citizenship?


Russian Permanent Residency

-valid for 5 years
-can stay out of Russia for up to 6 months out of the year
-must confirm residency by checking in once per calendar year
-must pass exam in Russian language, history, and law in order to apply


Since 5 years have passed, I now hav…

March Survey/Selfie

Made it through March! I'm sure there will be more snow off and on, but seems like the ground is thawing.



What I've been...


Reading: Decluttering at the Speed of Life (Dana K. White), more in Love Thy Body (Nancy Pearcey), Mary Poppins and Boxcar Children with David

Watching: When Calls the Heart (I'm only on season 2 or 3), Ultimate Beastmaster with Andrei, Matilda with David

Cooking/Eating: Artisan bread, pancakes, salsa, getting take-out from the authentic Mexican place down the road, trying to learn how to use cast iron

Listening to: Worship playlists, "Listener kids" worship music for kids, Easter hymns

Striving towards: Trying to knock some dreaded adult tasks off the to-do list (as usual). Passed my exam to keep my permanent residency, and will need to get my application in next (this) month.

Looking forward to: See above...moving on with other projects once the dreaded paperwork is complete. Also looking forward to Holy Week, which starts tomorrow for us…

Death and dying (heavy)

Trying to write down some deep heavy thoughts with constant commentary about creatures in my ear.

I was thinking a lot about this topic yesterday and planned to write about it today if I could recall my thoughts, with it not even registering initially that today is Good Friday in the west (1 week later for us). So, these are everyday thoughts, but also tie in to the Crucifixion.


Death as a taboo?

As I mentioned previously, our church sermon last Sunday was about taboo topics, one of them being death. But after thinking about it, I realized that there are a few different conditions here. When a tragic event happened earlier this week, I didn't have words to express my sadness. But was it because it was a "taboo" and I was embarrassed to talk about it? I did try to bring it up in a few contexts, but ultimately I decided that some things can't always be expressed in words. And since it wasn't my loss (I didn't know any of the victims), it wasn't necessary to…

Russia's own loss of schoolchildren

In Russia tomorrow (Wednesday) we are observing a national day of mourning for those who perished in the shopping mall fire on Sunday. Russian diplomats and poisoned spies are in the main headlines, but the rest of the world should know that the Russian people are deeply grieving about another matter entirely.

If you have friends in Russia, you may want to write and express sympathy. Of course we are in St. Petersburg and the fire was nowhere near us, but it is a national tragedy, and I'll explain why.

Part of why it is so painful is that many victims were children, and as you've probably read, safety measures were not up to standard. As an adult I often feel like I am taking risks with my own safety, but children do not have a choice...they depend on us. I think Americans are fairly obsessed with personal safety, so this kind of thing wouldn't happen to the same extent, but then...

I think you could draw a lot of parallels with the most recent U.S. school shooting, since…

March the Lion

I have to admit, I haven't been feeling like blogging lately, but it's not that there's anything wrong. I've been content with less computer time lately (with the exception of occasional bouts of scroll addiction on my phone), which is nice. I think if I decide to start blogging regularly I will try to monitor my computer time closely and make a limited list of sites to visit, or even turn the internet off in order to write.

I wish there were an easier way to post photos and create a little visual interest without getting on my computer. I don't really understand how to do it from my phone. Bloggers, what is the most streamlined way to post photos?

Typing is far easier from a laptop than a phone, of course.

Getting back to the title of this post, here it is March 23 and still snowy here like in many parts of the U.S., I hear. Do you think there will be snow for Easter? There most likely will be here, but that's typical. As I've probably mentioned before, R…

Musing on Lenten traditions

What do you like to do for Lent? Or, rather, what feels meaningful?

I've never gotten as much "into" Lent as I have Advent. I wonder why that is? Maybe because there is a measure of sorrow mixed in with the ultimate joy?

I stocked up on some new picture books last summer, as well as a devotional resource I'll mention below. As a visual person, it's the decorative elements that appeal to me more than the readings or other observances. But I still haven't really established any traditions. It's hard to find the time to get out all the materials and build a good supply that can be used annually.

It's a little bit confusing this year because the eastern and western Resurrection Sundays are a week apart. I keep forgetting which is which. I guess western is April 1 and eastern is April 8? When we had pancake week here, I was confused over whether Lent had started yet. Of course, I already knew that Valentine's Day coincided with Ash Wednesday, so that …

January challenge conclusions

As I wrote about last month, for January I focused on changing family sleep habits. Specifically, mine and Sophia's were problematic. Of course Andrei is also sleep-deprived on a regular basis, so he also benefits from Sophia sleeping better. But he controls his own sleep habits. ;)

Ironically, we flew to the U.S. on January 30, resetting our internal clocks. But I guess you could say it was the perfect final "exam"! :)

Surprisingly, both kids slept well while we were in the U.S. Sophia did not have her usual "happy hour" in the middle of the night. However, this meant that she was waking very early the first few mornings and I got to experience what so many parents of early-bird toddlers complain about. I went to sleep early, but still found it hard to get up early. Even when we started sleeping a little later, I found myself prone to morning melt-downs. I'm definitely not a morning person! And I also wondered, is there something wrong with ME or is it ju…

Continuing winter

Grateful for a somewhat normal day (so far).



Sophia finally slept! She woke up like 4-5 times last night but was back asleep within 5-10 minutes, which is basically "sleeping through the night" in our family.

Yesterday we went outside and enjoyed a beautiful sunny snowy day. It was so nice out that I didn't want to cut it short for Sophia's nap. She ended up getting overtired and throwing a fit. It was worth it though because she was so tired she had a good night.

Last night we got more snow. When I woke up the air was still thick with clouds blocking the sun and I couldn't bear the thought of going outside in that. However, the sun is peeking out a bit, so maybe after lunch we will give it a try.

1 week ago we were getting ready to fly back from visiting my parents. I think I read somewhere that jet-lag takes one day per time zone to get over, so we should be almost done!

My mind is spinning from various news stories: a Russian plane crash, Russians in Syria ki…

January survey/selfie

What I've been...


Reading: Interpreter of Maladies (Jhumpa Lahiri), Yellow Star (Jennifer Roy), Winter Blues (about SAD -Norman E. Rosenthal), Love Thy Body...(Nancy Pearcey), Habit Stacking (S.J. Scott)

Watching: Started some movie with Jack Black as a Polka entertainer on Netflix. David discovered a new show called "Earth to Luna" on Netflix, very entertaining and educational.

Cooking/Eating: Pancakes with hidden fruits and veggies, various concoctions with our new waffle/sandwich maker. Zebra cake for a baby shower for church.

Listening to: Raffi.

Striving towards: Not even sure, so many goals and plans all mixed together!

Looking forward to: Getting the packing/flight over with so we can enjoy some time visiting my parents.

What David is up to: Learning to read (in Russian), climbing on the furniture, mixing stuff together in the kitchen.

What Sophia is up to: Not sleeping well (but a little better), having a growth spurt, climbing on the furniture, opening/closing …

Things open in my browser, Volume 2

Thought I would switch it up with a fun survey post. Do you keep lots of browser tabs open with different projects you're working on?

Here are my latest:

-Gmail
-Chicken curry recipe
-"India" baby shower cake
-Facebook
-Amazon
-"prune waffle" recipe
-Carseat safety article

Nothing too scandalous this time around.

In my recent history:

-Ingavirin (antiviral treatment drug info)
-Braces and splints for hypermobility syndrome
-More cake decorating ideas
-Curtain options for Soviet-period kitchen windows

Your turn!

Fourth week of January

Another Monday, another blog post...

I guess my blog might be boring this year if I'm posting a lot about self-improvement goals, but progress is always interesting to track, right?

Have you ever done a sleep challenge? How did it go? I know some people work on getting up earlier in order to exercise or whatever.

You can read here about why I'm doing sleep in January.

So, here are a few of the latest experiments.

Action: Go to bed at the same time as David.
Result: I tried it a few times! The first night, I was really tired and fell asleep earlier. I was probably in bed a good 10 hours! But as a result I couldn't fall asleep the next night. Went to bed early, but stayed up late reading and was exhausted in the morning.
Conclusion: This could work if I set my alarm in the morning so as not to ruin my sleep for the next night. However, I think I would prefer to have a little alone time in the evening before bed.

Action: Don't go to bed at the same time as David.
Result: I fe…

Mid-month goal status-January

So how is everyone doing with their New Year's resolutions? I've seen a lot of interesting recipes being posted on Instagram. I conveniently scheduled my diet goals for after Valentine's Day, lol.

So, I mentioned before that I'm doing a "sleep challenge" for January. Meaning, that is my focus area and I'm giving myself permission not to stress about other areas of life for now.

I'm sooo tired.

First of all, small victories:

-During the first week of January, we conquered the New Year's Eve jet-lag, going from waking at noon to waking more like 10 o' clock. And we got David back to his pre-holiday bedtime. Progress!
-I managed to discipline myself to set my alarm to wake up earlier even when it seemed like it was going to be a bad night. (I wouldn't do this if I had a newborn or an illness but sometimes the timing is right.)
-I was able to avoid certain late-night vices, some of the time.
-I started taking my vitamins again regularly which…

First Week of January in the Russian Federation

We made it! We had a busy start to the year and I barely had time to breathe all during "vacation" week.

So, just what were we up to? In short, the first week of January is a week of "saying yes" to all social opportunities-usually, going to one another's house to visit and sit around the table with lots of food.

When else would we see our friends? Everyone works during the week, in the evenings we put kids to bed, and on weekends we have workshops and church.

It's intense, though! At one point all the dishes really piled up and I wasn't having time to wash them between guests. Or take a shower (sorry) or do laundry or check email.

Some of the cool things we did:

-met up with some American friends who just moved here and are expecting a baby
-had a visit from some church friends and discussed life and church stuff together
-had a late New Year's AND Christmas celebration with my in-laws since we had taken turns being sick on the actual holidays...

Best-laid plans of 2018

Only ran around for 40 minutes with this blank page open while I restarted the router and fought with the VPN to get David watching BeatBugs so I could do some blogging! That is just to say that plans must always be rather flexible.

In 2018 I decided to have a focus area for each month. People talk about having a year of saying "yes" or "no" and mine could be described as a year of making myself wait until it's time for that focus area, so that I can give attention to just 1 or 2 goals at a time.

Some of the focus areas are more abstract and some are projects that will get completed.

My focus area for January 2018 is sleep. 

I know it sounds better to start off with a new Bible reading plan or something, but I am desperate to have more energy to do things again and I am just trusting that it will happen in time.

In the past I have tried many times to go to bed earlier and at this point I will be setting an alarm clock to work on the morning end of things as wel…