Wednesday, July 31, 2013

How it went, part 2

When we got to the church, I went to "hide" in a side room while the guests kept filing in. It seemed like a really long time went by! I got my bouquet and met up with the flower girl and the other girl who was going to sort of hold my "train" (although it wasn't THAT long). I didn't have any bridesmaids or anything.

Finally my dad and I were getting ready to enter the sanctuary. We hadn't actually even practiced to the music! In fact, the music was being cued by one of our friends. He kept running into the back room to turn it on or off.

We found it actually hard to make a right angle turn because of the way the doors were. I reminded myself to relax and smile as I walked down the aisle. This was a wonderful day! Andrei looked nervous, however. I thought he was feeling emotional about getting married. And then I saw his father running around onstage for some reason. I later learned that Andrei had forgotten to take the rings out of his backpack, so Vladimir was quickly putting them in place as my dad and I were approaching the altar!

I may be biased, but it was a beautiful ceremony. We had looked for someone outside of our church to marry us, but ended up having our own pastor and friend perform the ceremony instead. And we were glad. His sermon spoke right to our hearts. Translating the ceremony for my relatives was a guy who'd translated for us the very first time we'd visited Russia in 1996-and then he'd become a good friend.

There were so many details we just hadn't had the energy to plan. A large part of this is related to having spent most of my emotional energy on getting documents formalized prior to the wedding. I also think that neither Andrei nor I thrives on planning big, fancy events. We both have a creative/artistic side, but when it comes to execution we do better to keep things simple.

There were no bridesmaids. There was no bridal shower or bachelor/bachelorette event. There wasn't really a color scheme. I didn't get my nails done. We didn't write our own vows. We didn't make programs. Some friends made us invitations, but most of them didn't get handed out until the day of the wedding. There were family and friends helping, and we gave them the freedom to put their own personal spin on it without running it by us.

As I've mentioned before, we were just touched by people sharing in our joy. I'm amazed just scrolling through some photos and noticing that I can even pick out the smiles on the blurry faces in the background. Why all this for us? I suppose, it is a testimony of God's faithfulness. All of the people there had their own stories, their own problems to work out. What were they thinking? For me, weddings are usually a chance to forget about everyday life and just have fun. But in some way or another, I also got a glimpse of the Mystery that is marriage between two person and between the Church and Christ.

And that's not all...

Sunday, July 28, 2013


So I got a new computer, and I'm still figuring it out.

My old one had Windows XP, and I got Windows 7 on this one. So far, I like a lot of the features.

Except...dun dun dun...the TOUCHPAD (it actually went crazy while I was typing that).

I did read about it in the reviews, so it's not like I wasn't warned, but I thought I'd be able to find a fix. Example: In Windows XP you can select "turn off touchpad while typing," and apparently they got rid of that option in Windows 7? Weird.

The problems are:

-text randomly gets bigger/smaller when scrolling (solved that one by turning off pinch zoom)
-the mouse goes crazy and thinks I've selected something when just hovering (think opening/closing pages, etc.)
-the cursor jumps around when typing, so I'll be in the middle of a sentence and suddenly end up somewhere else

I'm trying to investigate to see if I can "fool" the computer somehow and get it to not be quite so responsive.

So there's my little vent. If you have any ideas, let me know! In the meantime, I'll be blogging when possible, even if it means using the "undo" button a lot to get back what I was typing.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

How it went

I might as well continue with wedding month! I've never really written an account of our wedding, and I think I'm going to do that now, 2 years later!

Part 1: In the Bridal "Suite"

The hairdresser came TOO EARLY. I think she was supposed to come at 8 or something, and came at 7 instead. I had planned to have a nice breakfast and suddenly had company. She told me to jump in the shower and get my hair wet...

The whole time I was getting my hair done, I was wondering how I would pay for it! I didn't actually have any rubles on hand and hadn't had time to get to an ATM. I did have some dollars, and a debit card. I picked up my phone, and saw a text from my mom that they were heading over to meet me. But when I tried to write back and ask about cash, I got an error message saying I was out of minutes. GROAN! So much for coordinating. There would also be no wedding morning texts for Andrei, oh well!

I started to get more and more nervous as the stylist got close to being done. I also had no way of knowing whether my mom and the other girls were lost or not.

Finally, I heard some knocking and went to open the outer door to find my mom, sister, sister-in-law, nephew, and aunt all huddled together in the hallway. They'd made it!

A look outside revealed a cloudy/drizzly day, just what I'd ordered! The days leading up to it had been hot and stifling, and I was worried that I (and the wedding guests) would wilt. The cooler temperature was such a relief and I was even willing to get a little wet.

Our friend arrived in his mini-van a bit early to drive us, and pretty soon we were ready, too.

Time to head to the church!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

1 and beyond

Summer in America!

David turned one at the exact time our plane touched down in Boston, which seemed a bit ironic. I've been as cuckoo ga-ga tickled excited as the rest over the birth of George (AKA the Royal Baby), but I'm quite happy to have a 1 yr old rather than a newborn at this point.

Skype call with Russian grandparents!

I think that's partly the way God designed our parental instincts, to be enthusiastic (and appropriately concerned) over our child's current developmental stage.

Andrei and I aren't really in a summer camp/ministry phase of life at the moment, so summer is a good time to do some traveling, mainly visiting my relatives. With all the hot weather we did start to feel like we should visit another time of year when we can stand being outside for more than a few minutes at a time. On the OTHER hand, having experienced a few St. Petersburg heat waves, I believe excessive heat is easier to bear in New England than in a crowded Russian city with long summer days.

I think the Russian walking culture has instilled some good habits in me. Normally when given the choice I would much rather read or write than go (waste precious time!) outside. But there have been times lately that I haven't known what else to do with David, and it has calmed him down. Just like other nourishing traditions, it feels like a kind of medicine.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Remembering one day in July

The story of our wedding photos is sort of sad.

To make a long story short, we didn't really get any professional ones. We DID have family/friends with photography experience and nice cameras taking candids. Everyone is a photographer these days. But the person we hired to be our Photographer (so our guests could relax and enjoy themselves) didn't really come through. We ended up with a few folders of unedited photos and all the posed ones (siblings, indoor photo studio) missing.

Bear with me, this post is going to get better!

I've heard people say that the candid photos are the ones from their own weddings that they liked the best. 2 years later, I'm starting to agree. I still want to pick out a few acceptable ones and get them framed, maybe give some away. But the candids are the ones that make me relive that wonderful day.

I think in some ways Andrei and I are still blown away by the things people did to make our day special, or just the way they simply rejoiced with us. I wish everyone's marriage could start out that way! It is certainly meaningful to be in front of that many witnesses. I'm not talking about numbers, though. It's more about a unity of the spirit, if that makes any sense. And I believe that the Holy Spirit was there. Even though there were non-Christians there, I like to think that they saw it, too.

Just Married!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Next installment

Part One is here. Note that we are talking about real-life circumstances and not my dream sequence described here. :)


We had a date with the specialists.

As I mentioned, I was nervous about the details: about needing to quarantine items, about dangerous substances, about a few bugs getting away and continuing to multiply...and also about needing to clean for "company" (AKA the Bug Guys). Weren't they going to be going through every nook and cranny, like my underwear drawer? (gasp)

Well, David solved that one. He needed a nap, outside. Babushka had not arrived yet. I took him outside and the bug guy (there was just one) arrived soon after and got right to work. We had to stay outside. I was not involved at all. And that's when I realized...when you are too concerned with controlling everything, the best solution is to surrender control to someone else.

So we stayed outside while it all got done, and then all went and had lunch, and stayed outside for the rest of the day too, while the apartment was airing out.

How long ago was that? A week? It seems like ages!

The bug exterminator did NOT find anyone. No signs, nothing. Our bed was "clean." Maybe we never had "tenants," or maybe we were just in time. By the time you see them running around, you've got a pretty big problem. I count it a blessing that I didn't have any encounters.

I did get some more bites, only on my ankles, up to a few days ago. I think I've been bite-free for the past few days. There could be a few offspring somewhere, but the poison will continue to work, and for now it seems that we have won.

I still have doubts sometimes, thinking of all the ways they could come back. I guess in an apartment building you're never really SAFE. The bug guy said we're having an epidemic and that the warm weather is PERFECT for the bugs to thrive. You never know which of your neighbors are trying to drive out pests, only to have them seek refuge in YOUR home.

And so I realized that this is another area of my life in which to trust God. There are a lot of times I feel like a pilgrim, when we have to travel for one reason or another. It was a relief to become apartment owners, but in the back of my mind I sometimes feel God saying, "Don't get too attached to it." Whether it's bureaucracy, vacation, or a bed bug infestation, He reminds me that the only way to really feel at home is to abide in Him.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Birthday #2

Last Saturday was Andrei's turn! This time last year we had been wondering whether or not he would have to share his birthday, but that turned out to not be the case. June 29th came and went, and no baby.

Homemade placemat encore
I don't know about other families, but it usually happens that if Andrei or I want to prepare a surprise for each other, the person being surprised has to take care of the baby, which sort of gets in the way of spoiling the birthday person, if you know what I mean. Here, corral the little one while I make a "surprise" dinner or whatever.

Just try keeping him occupied when he knows his other parent is doing something interesting in the other room! At least with Andrei's parents helping, the adult-child ratio is skewed a bit in our favor, so we all get to rest a little while taking turns with various tasks (okay, his parents do almost everything when they're over).

It worked out this time that Andrei was able to drop us off (via tram) at a new mall nearby, and I managed to do a little shopping while David slept in the stroller.

The birthday itself was the same as mine-a meal, then lounging around in the living room laughing at David, and then we snuck out to a movie.

Knee-level timer self-portrait

My day

I was riding a regular city bus (the kind I have a pass for), when someone suddenly handed me a pie. I looked around and it looked like other passengers were being given them, too. Interesting.

When I got off at my stop, I noticed that there were several stations where prizes were being handed out, like it was a holiday. Everyone was sort of giddy. The various prizes seemed too unrelated for it to be a business promotion. I called a friend to see what she thought, and she said "the government is getting people revved up. Something is about to happen."

I got home and an unfamiliar scarf hanging from our coat hooks caught my eye. Someone was in the apartment. 

A peppy college-aged girl suddenly showed up and came right over to David and started examining him, almost like it was a house call, only I hadn't called the doctor. I had the feeling that I had to pretend like everything was normal, so that they wouldn't know I was on to them. The girl asked the same questions that the pediatrician asked. At one point she asked me how much he weighed, and I shuffled through some papers to find his latest print-out from the pediatrician, but for some reason his weight had not been recorded.

By this time, some other "nurses" had arrived on the scene, and were starting to examine David as well. Then it got even weirder as other mothers and children started to enter our apartment, and I realized that our apartment was being taken over to be used as some sort of base. I made small talk with one woman who had a boy close to David's age, but we knew intuitively that we couldn't discuss what was really going on.

While they were performing more tests on David, I decided to sneak downtown. I went into one store that had some housewares, and a clerk offered some advice. He was just a young college guy like the girl that was in my apartment examining David. He seemed so casual that I almost felt like I could relax and joke around with him, but I knew that he was really with the government. They had purposely chosen these youngsters so that people would be more likely to let their guard down.

I got back to my apartment and the nurses were spoon-feeding David from a jar. "Excuse me, what are you feeding him?" I asked, without even taking my shoes off. I looked at the contents and saw that it was spaghetti. "But he hasn't tried tomato products yet," I protested, though I didn't try too hard to argue.

Finally, Andrei was home. We had to decide together what to do. We were being watched. As we looked out the window, we saw a man walking along, holding a weapon. Then another man came along, also armed. Shots rang out, and we knew that it was only the beginning.

Now THAT was an intense dream.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

An update of sorts

A new kind of problem has kept us busy lately.

It started out with a few itchy bites on my leg. "Bug bites in the summer?" you say. "How unremarkable."

Perhaps. But they were just so CONSISTENT. No matter what the weather, what I wore to bed, whether or not I had changed the sheets, windows open or closed...whatever it was sure was hungry. I never felt anything at night, never saw any bugs on my body, I would just suddenly start itching and find a bite or two (or several).

Finally one day (my birthday), while David was taking an amazingly long nap, I did a little research. Unfortunately, the best explanation that fit the situation was that we had bed bugs. :( I didn't want to believe it...I really wasn't looking for there to be anything wrong. I would have accepted an allergy explanation or something similar. But, the signs were just adding up to bed bugs.

Andrei wasn't getting bitten, but he wanted to make sure David (with a few suspect bites) and I weren't going to suffer long. We then entered the research phase of things...

We scoured extermination sites and forums. Andrei wanted to hear from the professionals and I wanted to hear from the people who had experienced this (and won!) :). I typed in search phrases like "I get bites but husband doesn't," and found tons of testimonials. He looked for (child-safe) bug poison that could be purchased in St. Petersburg.

Meanwhile, if you read enough testimonials, you learn just how much people suffer psychologically from trying to get rid of infestations, whether it is bed bugs, fleas, etc. If it goes on for long enough, paranoia sets in. Since we didn't seem to have a huge problem (no visible signs of bugs except for the bites), we weren't TOO worried, but there was still a need to act fast. Even so, we began to exhibit a mild form of paranoia, manifested by incessantly checking each piece of lint we came across, often repeatedly. :)

Andrei, in an attempt to protect David, put containers of lavender water around the legs of his bed, so bugs couldn't climb up.

David's bed bug "bling"

My issue was that I'd read all about quarantining belongings. People described basically living out of garbage bags for MONTHS. I started becoming obsessed with how this would work. How would we determine what was clean and unclean? How would we keep them separate?

Where were they hiding?

To be continued...

June 2022

So, we are 4 months into what's happening in our part of the world...though, of course, we live pretty far from the border!   Currently:...