Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Still here

Wintry postcard from St. Petersburg during some recent colder temperatures...

I don't even remember how to edit on here! I hope to update soon, though...for now, check my updates on Instagram. I have a regular account and a second one for homeschooling thoughts.

Monday, March 23, 2020

The week that felt like a thousand years

Last Sunday, we went to church. I kind of figured it would be our last for awhile. By the way, we usually get around 15 people...but we do have to travel public transportation to get there. People were making plans and it was awkward feeling like we wouldn't likely follow through on them.

Anyway, that was a weird day, but not for the reasons you'd think. On the way to church, the tram wasn't working...then on the way home, the escalator broke down when we were halfway up! And I had the beginnings of a migraine. We stopped to eat on the way home...also probably our last time for awhile.

I was still checking the news every 5 minutes at that point. In the tram on the way home, I heard someone on the phone explaining that they were unable to drop something off at the orphanage because it was under "quarantine." First time I'd heard that word used around here in regards to COVID-19, although it's common to quarantine orphanages during a seasonal epidemic.

There wasn't much news all weekend, but I got a sense of something brewing under the surface...come Monday, something was going to surface.

And I was right. 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Coronavirus in Russia Q&A (personal observations from a resident)

Hello from St. Petersburg! This isn't supposed to be a strictly factual OR deeply philosophical post... just a little journal entry during this strange life episode.

How many cases are there in Russia?

-Officially around 150, but it's unclear if there are enough tests available and at what point people are seeking medical attention. Pneumonia wards are pretty full, though.

Is there panic?

-Something shifted over the weekend and people started panic-buying, and some new quarantine measures were introduced at the beginning of the week. At this point people seem more skeptical and annoyed by it than scared. But a few people are nervous, especially if they have older relatives.

What are local people stocking up on?

-Mostly toilet paper and buckwheat. Other popular dried goods are oatmeal, flour and pasta. I found it interesting to see empty bread shelves in pictures of U.S. stores. What do you do with extra bread, put it in the freezer?

What protective measures are in place?

-You can read about it online, but the borders are closed and schools/universities are mostly switching to distance education. Behind the scenes there are vaccines and testing kits being worked on. Stores, restaurants, and other businesses are still open.

How are you keeping busy?

Friday, March 13, 2020

And so it begins (Lent and Lethargy)

A week or two ago I felt like I was coming down with something. It was a weird combination of symptoms: fatigue, sore throat, but also a bit of a GI bug.

It wasn't really progressing, but it was the middle of the week and I figured I had picked up something at church on Sunday. I just couldn't get my energy back, though! And suddenly I recognized the feeling. In the spring every year I usually have a period where I'm totally dragging all the time. Not the same as winter malaise, a special springtime variation where the sun is out, everything is good, and yet I just want to sleep all the time. I've been attempting late afternoon couch time, but that also happens to be Sophia's neediest time, go figure...maybe it makes her nervous when I lie down.

I have a few old posts on "avitaminosis"...I just checked them and they were written in May, BUT with the mild winter, maybe things are just happening a bit out of order this year?

To get some energy back, I determined to get more sleep. Sometimes I think it's ridiculous that I don't get enough sleep, since I don't get up early for work, but...it's always something.

Of course as soon as I decided I was going to sleep more, there were obstacles...kids needing a cuddle, or the bedroom being too hot because it was warmer outside and the heat was still going full-blast. Etc. And then finally one night Andrei took over with Sophia, and when David got up early he quietly went about his business...a miracle! And I got some sleep. And then a few more nights after that I got probably 7 hours.

Monday, March 2, 2020

The month of change

I keep trying and failing  (timewise) to type up Finland notes, but meanwhile a month has passed since our trip, so it's time for an update. (Side note: Been having terrible trouble with Chrome, had to download Opera before I could get images to show up on here. Anyone else?)

I'm liking our schedule right now, and usually there is much more daylight by the end of February, so there is a different feeling in the air as the seasons change.

Spring sunshine/ The "clean" version of the living room...

Andrei has fewer class hours this semester, or at least they're scheduled differently. He's home most days by 6 instead of 8 pm. He teaches at 2 universities and even has a few foreign students that need instruction in English, which is great practice for him.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Bureaucracy Update: Roadblocks

My children are 7 1/2 and 3 1/2 and have lived in Russia all their lives on guest visas! They were born in the U.S. and only have U.S. citizenship.

Last fall, the government passed some new laws allowing foreign minors to apply directly for permanent residency on the basis of one parent already having permanent residency. That's us!

As soon as the law came into effect, we began to make preparations to start the application process. From my last few posts about this, you can see how the individual documents can be difficult to get.

One of the things we were advised to do was to switch the kids' registration to our flat instead of Andrei's parents.' Everyone living in the Russian Federation has to have an official address where they're registered, which might not be the place where they actually live...it's confusing. Currently I'm the only one registered in our flat.

We were going to switch the registration to my name, but that was going to be a complicated process via immigration authorities...whereas Andrei could supposedly do it in a different place, since he's a citizen.

Anyway, Andrei went back to the Main Center for more info, and what they told him was that the kids' applications could get rejected completely. Since the kids have one parent who is a Russian citizen, the government could deny them residency and force them to get Russian citizenship.

I guess I don't know many countries where someone might pass up the chance for citizenship, but the thing with citizenship is that it's a lot harder to cancel than a residence permit.

But the other downside is that David could get drafted into the Russian army...and who is to say that they couldn't change the law in a few years to include females, too? The length of the mandatory service can always get changed, too. Right now it stands at 12 months. Putin promised to reduce or eliminate conscription...but when my husband was serving, the term was increased to 2 years, effective immediately; he had to serve an extra year. With many Russian youth looking to emigrate, is it likely that there is enough interest in a professional army in order to end the draft?

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Bureaucracy Update: Tuberculosis Tangent

Last month I had my meltdown over the kids' medicals. Maybe it's good that I didn't know another month would go by without getting them done!

We were sick until early January, then everything in the country was closed until January 9th. As soon as offices opened back up, we were at the clinic with the kids.

We went to the kids' section of a fancy private clinic down the street (not the same one that failed to diagnose my appendicitis in a timely fashion). We consulted with a pediatrician first ($$$) per the rules, then got the kids their Mantoux skin test which rules out tuberculosis. That's what is required by immigration authorities, and it has to be entered into a vaccine booklet, which we didn't have yet.

Speaking of tuberculosis, one of Andrei's students got sick with TB this year, and he (Andrei) had to go to the infectious diseases hospital and get all the tests done to prove he wasn't infected! The student likely had had a latent form anyway, though.

Since we got the skin probe, we were thinking about going ahead and getting the kids a TB vaccine (BCG). It's given at birth or shortly thereafter in Russia and some other countries. Our kids were born in the U.S. and we hadn't gotten around to getting them one. The BCG is not given to adults because 1) it hasn't been shown to be effective beyond a certain age and 2) it doesn't prevent the form of TB that affects the lungs. (some new research is currently coming out, though!)

There are some pros and cons to getting the BCG vaccine...

Still here

Wintry postcard from St. Petersburg during some recent colder temperatures... I don't even remember how to edit on here! I hope to updat...