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Showing posts from 2014

Christmas Shopping with a 2 yr old

Why did I wait until Dec. 23rd to go shopping, you may ask? Well, I'm not a very big shopper in general, but with David it is an all-day chore, and that gets tiresome. Last week's shopping forays were focused on a wedding that took place Saturday. So that brings us to this week...








...We set out about an hour before naptime and I figured David would have a snack and take in some sights before falling asleep in his stroller so I could concentrate. He started out on foot, but after just a few minutes he did his new thing where he is 'cared of footprints in the snow, and doesn't want his feet to touch the ground. So into the stroller he went.

Of course a few minutes after I had gotten him all settled in the stroller, we got to the bank which was located at the top of a staircase. My card doesn't always work in stores, so going without cash was too risky. I had to do the whole stair-stroller thing in order to use the ATM. So far, so good.

As we were walking toward the …

Which traditions do you choose?

Just realized that this is going to be another ex-pat post! I guess there's nothing like the holidays to prompt some cultural analysis.





It's harder to pass on traditions when it isn't reinforced by the world around you when you walk out the door of your house! I am genuinely happy for my new parent (or aunt/uncle) friends who are able to take the kiddies to pumpkin patches, dress them in turkey onesies, and sit them on Santa's knee...followed by a spring photo shoot in pastels for Easter! These are very positive, fun traditions. But since they are mostly driven by culture and a nostalgia for one's childhood, they can quickly go from inspiring to irrelevant once you live abroad or don't celebrate with your siblings anymore.

I know I have often written on my blog about making new traditions. Maybe I even write the same thing each year and then forget about it. But I'm new to making traditions while parenting, so I still have a lot of unanswered questions for …

Inside an Immigrant's Thought Process

It is really hard to get inside the head of someone functioning in a second language. I know this because it is my everyday reality, in contrast to the people around me!

I like to think of America as this place where anyone can settle down and lead a normal life, even someone arriving as an adult. But I realize that's a bit of an illusion. You never know what's happening behind someone's accent. And because receptive and expressive language acquisition can be different, you never know how intelligent someone is behind the accent...or how much of the conversation he/she is missing, while appearing to function as a native speaker.

Earlier today I was reading a novel about a Chinese student who came to the U.S. on exchange for grad school. She ends up being befriended by Christians and coming to faith...that's sort of the main plot, but I found myself thinking more about the logistics. The author did a good job of portraying some of the cultural nuances: tipping in resta…

Fiascos in Felt

I love the way finished felt projects look, so colorful and pretty and homey! I haven't quite mastered the medium, though. I seem to do better with paper, but maybe I will conquer felt in this lifetime!

I started making a felt Christmas storyboard for David last year, and lost momentum. So I took it up again this year.

My requirements were:

-representational, but simple
-big and sturdy enough for David to handle
-removable pieces that could be moved around


Problems and Troubleshooting:

Last year I cut out some figures but found them too floppy. Maybe if they were smaller it wouldn't have been as much of an issue. This year I finally fortified them a bit.




Not all felt is created equal...it doesn't necessarily stick to other felt (without adhesive), and depending on the thickness might also need a pretty strong glue to hold together permanently.



Anti-Flying

After going back to FlyLady time and again to see if I could make it work, I finally realized that it's probably not the best strategy for my personality type.

First I thought it was just the season of life or the fact that I have a toddler who will mess up whatever "zone" I've finished, turning 15 minutes of completed work into a new 30-minute job.

I also noticed that because I can't do all the rooms, and have to focus on the common areas, that preparing for guests will always involve cleaning the kitchen and neglecting the bedroom. I was so excited when FlyLady assigned the "master bedroom"....only to realize I had no time to do it that week as I needed to clean for guests.

"No-nonsense" can be good, but I put my foot down when she started talking about purging. "You don't need your school essays," she said. But I do. Okay, I don't. And my parents don't need them in their attic. But I'm not ready to throw everythin…

Going Home

Advent is almost here, but somehow the Second Coming is on my mind more. I'm in this phase where I can't sing or listen to a song about eternity without tears welling up.

This includes Matt Redman's "10,000 Reasons."
And on that day when my strength is failing The end draws near and my time has come Still my soul will sing Your praise unending 10,000 years and then forever more

And Brooke Fraser's "Soon and Very Soon."
I will be with the One I love With unveiled face I'll see Him There my soul will be satisfied Soon and very soon
It's not that these particular songs are the best lyrically or grammatically or whatever, but the overarching message is there.

And that's true for a lot of hymns that have a sort of natural progression through the walk of faith up to the day we meet Jesus.
From "How Great Thou Art" (Boberg/Hine):

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation, And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart. Then I shall bow, in …

One year later: another attempt

Funny story: I had all these unfinished Advent projects last year that I photographed and was going to write about, just to say...here's what I tried to do and didn't finish. I had even titled the post "The Advent That Wasn't." But it never even made it into my drafts folder, apparently. Or else it's there and I'm blind...anyway, here's a little Advent inspiration (or examples of what not to do)!
















Playing Around

Orphanage Update (Structural Changes)

My counselor friend from the orphanage came to visit us again the other day, and as always she updated me on how things are going over there. There are some big changes going on in how the orphanage is run and funded, from an administrative standpoint.

BEFORE:

-the orphanage was run as an institute of education (like a boarding school?)
-St. Petersburg orphanages had their own extracurricular classes led by onsite specialists (dance and music classes, academic tutoring, arts and crafts, etc.)
-orphanage counselors were by law (and academic background) considered educators and would therefore begin to receive pension after putting in 25 years of work in their field


NOW:
-the orphanage is a social agency
-kids are transported around the city (non-profit organizations lend a hand) to their extracurricular activities since the orphanage is a social agency and not an educational institution
-orphanage counselors are now considered social workers (despite background as educators) and will …

The Food Chronicles

I decided to look at what our family was eating to see if I could make some changes.


Breakfast: Omelets

Lunch: Homemade soup (chicken or pork w/ veggies using homemade broth), + sandwich (1 piece of rye bread with a slice of cheese or leftover roasted pork/chicken)

Dinner: Various kinds of meat+rice/pasta/potatoes +salad or other veggie

We have tea after every meal with a small treat of some kind (ONE piece of chocolate or ONE cookie). And snack on fruit or homemade croutons, etc.


Verdict: I know that I don't eat enough of some things, like fruits and veggies. But it's hard to believe that with 90% of our food made from scratch we could be way off the mark. People keep talking about the evils of grains and sugar and it's hard for me to believe that having a few slices of bread or a few cookies per day would be ruining my digestion.

A lot of women in the fitness discussion groups I frequent seem to talk about "real food" and "Paleo" all the time. So I d…

Launch

I rejoined the worship team recently thinking it was going to be a Friday night/Sunday morning commitment...but that was before I knew about the worship night coming up (tomorrow). And obviously my family also wasn't expecting me to be at rehearsals 2 nights a week. Yeah, I might not do the worship night next time...but on the other hand, I got this kind of jumpstart back into church stuff. It's 2 evenings away from my family, but it's also 2 evenings of deep conversations and riding home in the metro together, just like old times. It's kind of like when David was a baby and Andrei would have a big workload or something...suddenly things were more challenging, but it also helped me to move forward and gain some new skills.

I mentioned the relationships, and what can I say...we all are still learning how to die to ourselves. But we're aware of that, and we're praying about it. I don't think there is a strategy for running a worship team that would allow us …

Prairie Life

If you're looking for some wholesome historical fiction about homesteaders, I can recommend the "Butter in the Well" series. I downloaded both volumes for free on my Kindle, though they cost a few dollars now.

The two books in the series are written in the form of diary entries, which the author based on various historical documents and other publications. They are fictionalized accounts of the lives of real Swedish immigrants. The first is written from the point of view of a young wife, and the second- that of her teenaged daughter.

The diary entries are all pretty simple and some are even mundane. We hear about which foods they are canning on a given day and which new inventions have come to town. Sometimes there is a list of people who are sick. Sentiments are included, but not always. The simple style makes it seem more realistic, as if a real person is just writing his/her thoughts as they come and trying to record things for posterity. Even though it isn't ver…

Two days in the courtyard

Didn't manage to get one of those perfect fall photo sessions, but I got a rainy day and a snowy day for you! :)









Imperfections Reappear

Last Sunday was my first time back on the worship team. It had been about 2.5 years! I love singing and playing music, but I had forgotten how challenging it can be for various reasons.

Of course in my rose-colored memories, we would just show up and "get our praise on," singing our hearts out in perfect harmony. The reality though was that we had no sound equipment, few songs in common, and we practiced in a shared flat, which the neighbors must have loved! We worked hard then too, but I think there was a unique pleasure in having a worship team where there previously hadn't been.

Now the worship team is huge and we have so much equipment it doesn't really fit in the room...if you still want to fit the people in, that is. It takes a lot of time to carry around and set up and sometimes the singing sounds all wrong if one person's microphone isn't working right. We have a huge list of songs now but each one is disliked by at least one person in the group. Som…

We've Arrived

So I guess reading to your child is one of those things that make you a model parent! You'd think so. I've seen all those photos on social media and Pinterest with the DIY nursery reading "nook" and the adorable shots of the parents (more often the mommy bragging about the daddy) with the newborn, "reading" a book together...so cute. I definitely thought we'd be that kind of family, but it turns out there is more to babycare than read-aloud time! I think I have one photo of myself reading to David in his first year, and I can't post it because it's a pajama shot...whoops.

But since around the time David turned two, he's suddenly been very enthusiastic about books! He likes to read whole stacks at a time and has memorized various fragments and where things are on certain pages. We didn't do anything differently...just kept making them accessible and he eventually got interested. In fact, I worried that I wasn't "modeling" b…

Excuses

About this time last week, a friend invited me (via Internet) to a birthday party for her 5 yr old. And I immediately began to form an explanation for why I wouldn't go. I never even wrote back...isn't that awful?

Do I say "no" too much? Is it bad if I am thinking of excuses as soon as the invitations roll in? What is it that I really want to say, other than "I can't make it"? That it's too hard to ask someone to babysit, or too far to travel in an already busy day? Should I put out a public service announcement to my friends that I might be busy for the next 5 years or so? But no, I don't want to do that. Sometimes everything lines up: my availability, health, and desire to take part. And then I have a good time and know that these opportunities are a priority too, of a sort.

So then the day before the aforementioned birthday party, a friend from church called. "Vika just asked me to her son's birthday party," she began...I was s…

Survival Mode

We've had to scale back activities for the past few weeks due to the convergence of a few factors, including my head cold, Andrei's heavy teaching/conference schedule, and dreary weather. I guess I sort of alluded to it in the last few posts. Anyway, I did an assessment today and realized that I had let go of a lot of my goals and just a lot of self-discipline went out the window. I think it was okay to have a few "pajama" days, and that was a conscious decision-to not put too much on myself that would lead to exhaustion, during a time when Andrei needed to focus on other things. Taking naps during the day with David. But it is hard to get that momentum back, and I know that I will need to work hard at it as those gray winter days set in.

I've been mostly better for a few days and then I got these blisters on the corners of my mouth! Sorry if it sounds gross, but it's just another sign that my immune system was weakened, I guess. So I've been increasing …

Sniffles again

So I finally succumbed to The Cold that's been chasing us all this month! It kept flirting with me and then going away, and then settled in for a longer stay a few days ago.

When David was sick I tried to get him outside anyway for fresh air, but while I've been sick I just can't find the energy to get us both dressed and out the door.

So there has been a lot of junkfood-eating and cartoon-watching going on. And baking, because it makes me happy...even if the dirty dishes are still going to be waiting in the sink in a year or so.

This isn't a "domestic bliss" shot below, just one of those milestones where he's starting to do more things on his own. Maybe we never got to the point where he plays quietly at my feet while I cook, but at least we can do it together and make it a learning process!


Also, I am starting to get excited about Christmas. Maybe if I start working on Advent now, I'll actually finish something this time around?


The story of re-entry

I was pondering how I've readjusted to Russia on various occasions, and I realized that having a child definitely makes a difference. I've struggled to understand other ex-pat parents in the past, and now I am getting there myself.

Without kids (or a husband), I would arrive and hit the ground running. Back to the orphanage the next day, or getting called up to teach Sunday school because someone else was sick. Just kidding, that's an exaggeration...of course I had the jet-lag, and it's worse flying east than west! But I got into society...I had to.

Fast-forward to this past Sunday: almost 3 weeks after arriving, I got on the metro the first time, and went to church. When you delay re-entry, you are in a bubble of sorts. Maybe it is easier on your health to take one shock at a time, first getting used to your home-away-from-home before venturing out into your culture-away-from-your-culture. And actually, I was in domestic bliss-checking out the new shelves Vladimir pu…

Happy New Year

Blog post before midnight...ready, set, go!

I don't normally pay attention to New Year's resolutions, but something about September has me itching to make changes in my life.

Here are a few major goals I'd like to work on this school year:


1) Make a new Bible reading routine.

2) Continue healing my DR. (work on alignment)

3) Go outside with David at least 2x per day.


There are a few other goals and plans that I may or may not share on here.

Read more for some details about my recent endeavors...


Make a new Bible-reading routine.

God's Word is such that you don't really need any special equipment or even the perfect setting to dive in...but I still would like to find a format that works for me right now. I turn on an audio recording while doing chores; I open up the Bible while David is playing nearby...but it's only little snatches. There were a few days during jet-lag when David was still SOUND asleep late morning and I even got up before him...but those days …

After traveling

Thought I’d wash some dishes dash off a quick blog post while I wait for Andrei to get back from paying for the Internet.

It’s 50’s here and rainy, a little different from the 80-degree weather we left behind. And I have a raging headache, though it’s subsided some. Still dizzy and thankful to be off the plane.

It’s hard to believe this is the country the U.S. is at odds with. There is such a disconnect between daily Russian life and all that hype in the media. I've heard there are increased anti-American sentiments, but I’m not sure if that would be applicable in our residential neighborhood …??? Also, the airport has been renovated and looks a little more modern, and passport control was a breeze. The only thing was that the lady inspector laughed, saying I didn’t look like my passport photo…

“Huh. No resemblance!”

Me, taking off glasses: “Is that better?”

“Okay, that’s better. This IS yours, right?” (showing me the passport)

Me, squinting: “I GUESS. It’s Elizabeth. I don’t have my …

Crossing

We're leaving in just a few days to go back to Russia! Suitcases are already bursting at the seams with plentiful contents.

Last week we had some fun sibling interaction time, and David got to see almost all of his cousins! We got a few photos, but not too many as it's an active bunch! With kids you often need both arms to give a hug or stop a fight, so the camera takes the backseat.

Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see what changes have occurred while we've been away.

One thing I've gotten wind of are changes to immigration policy. It sounds like I might need official employment in order to keep my resident status. I can't even imagine what I would do about that. David is still young and I don't like the idea of needing employment just to stay in the country, especially when I have a family! Looks like we will need to visit an immigration lawyer when we get back.

I was looking forward to going back until this came up. I guess there are always ups and down…

Diastasis Recti: Summer Edition

The journey of healing continues...


The OB/Gyn I saw this summer wasn't very helpful in that she saw Diastasis recti as a "cosmetic problem" that could be treated only with surgery. Unfortunately, I think that's a fairly typical response.


Here are some other approaches I've been using this summer to work on this aspect of my health:



Exercise

Haven't done so well on this count; fairly consistent daily walks but not as vigorous as I'd like. Part of this is due to hot weather and not being able to go very fast. I also feel like with the stroller I obsess over whether I'm in the right "alignment" or not for core healing. So the exercise has probably been more about getting fresh air and Vitamin D than weight loss or toning.


"Tummy Team" rehab program

I started this 8-wk program shortly after we arrived in the U.S., and the very week I started was a challenging one with various setbacks ranging from David nursing a lot again to waking sev…

Mother and child moment

I've enjoyed some bonding with David this summer. Here we are checking out a fun fort near where my sister lives:





David was really clingy especially at the beginning of our summer trip, maybe because it was a new place. He constantly wanted to be with BOTH of us. I guess he still does kind of tend to want to escape from one parent to go to the other. But he is a lot calmer now!

As I said though, it's nice to spend time together and be needed, because he is on that brink of toddler independence where he is often more interested in other people and not me. :)




Relief of a sort

Hello, blog world.

David has been getting to bed at a more normal time for the past 2 days, so I finally have had an hour or two to unwind and catch up on correspondence.

...Now, where are those posts I was trying to write last month?

As I was mentioning to a neighbor, visiting here is always this conflict between wanting to be a hermit and wanting to see people and do certain things while I have the chance. And eat certain foods, but that need somehow doesn’t have any trouble being met!

The other factor is that of course people have different social needs, and we’ve all had to make some sacrifices to help each other have a moment with friends when we’re already tired, or a hermit moment when someone else wants an adventure. I’m not sure if analysis is even necessary…we’re all different!

New England offers some experiences that we don’t get in St. Petersburg, and David has had more outside time and seen a lot of wildlife that he doesn’t have access to normally. And he’s also splashed in t…

Amherst anniversary

Andrei and I celebrated 3 years of marriage yesterday! Life has definitely changed a lot, especially thanks to a certain little person.

For a fun "adventure," we took the bus into nearby Amherst, MA. It is actually a lot like my hometown, similar enough that I never go there, which at the same time means I've barely explored it at all.

Since we don't drive, we decided to use public transportation. In St. Petersburg there are a multitude of transportation options and they come every 10-20 minutes (more or less). And in this case it was one bus that came once an hour, though that might be just the summer schedule. Anyway, while we like public transportation, we would have to be pretty organized to use it around here, in order to be at the bus stop on the hour. When we were ready to go back we had just missed a bus, so had to wait about 40 minutes, and then the trip back took about 90 minutes. We didn't mind because we are used to a commute, and it was pretty comfo…

New England

So here we are almost a month into our trip and I haven't blogged yet!

My father said that a parent's definition of "vacation" is "taking care of your kids in a different place." So a lot of the adventures revolve around our toddler; not only taking care of his needs but seeing everything through his eyes, which can actually be very enlightening! And it's hard to think of anything else to write about at this point, so this is my fair warning.

Eventually I'll do some more specific posts on flying with a toddler and various aspects of parenting that we are dealing with this summer. I prefer to call it the "transitional" twos as opposed to "terrible." Just to be optimistic that way. ;)

Right now though I am sitting here sorting through photos. It can certainly be a big job, and I'm torn between the different options for archiving. I love the hands-on/homemade feel of scrap-booking and yet the practicality and durability of phot…

Can you say "packing panic" out loud 10x fast?

So, yeah...I had lots of posts that didn't quite make it to being published over the last few weeks. And photos that I don't have time to upload.

We just had our 3rd family birthday celebration in 2 weeks, and there was also a baby shower that I was heavily involved in, so it's been event-ful.

Things are up and down a lot and many times a difference of just one hour can make or break my day. I hadn't packed at all until this evening and then in a matter of minutes I was about 75% done...I just needed to be able to concentrate. Whereas David waking from his nap one hour earlier can really make me get behind.

David has been out of sorts and I'm never sure if it's just his age or if something is bothering him. He doesn't have any visible physical symptoms, but could be teething. I was literally in the middle of typing this (it's 1am) and he suddenly popped up in his bed and started calling for "Thomas," his new train (which is made out of hard p…

New

I wasn't the only one who had a birthday last week. My sister Masha gave birth to a baby girl on Monday!






We're all thankful for her safe arrival.
As I was picturing Masha as a mother, I realized that my sisters and I all have children now: Emily and I each have a boy, and Masha and Nastia each have a girl.

While we might not have always been close growing up because of age or language or adoption, we now have something new in common. There are new "battle-wounds," physical and emotional, along with the joys of motherhood. And I have been feeling this a lot in general with my fellow women. Growing up and entering the workforce or moving away or getting married created some distance, but entering motherhood provides new ground for friendship. Of course this is true with my mom and other female relatives, and friends and classmates too.

And I certainly don't want to exclude that parenthood bond with my brother and his lovely wife, and their ever-growing family! :)

Birthday time is crazy time

I'm back! I didn't really plan on a blogging hiatus, but I was feeling out of sorts all last week. Birthdays are hard work! Shopping, cooking, lots of interacting... but at the same time it's always sad when it goes by unnoticed... so I'm not sure what the "perfect" birthday would look like. Just glad it's only once a year, LOL!

(I was given a few beautiful bouquets, but didn't take a picture. Imagine a photo in this spot.)

We just have one week left to get ready for our trip to the U.S. In that time we will also celebrate Andrei's birthday (on Sunday) and then David's/Vladimir's in advance (theirs are in July after we leave). Oh yeah, and there's a baby shower on Saturday for someone at church. As I type this I have all these games pulled up on my computer that I'm trying to translate for a Russian audience.

Packing itself isn't such a big deal because we're going into civilization. It takes time, though. And of course th…

Old Wives' Tales

I was looking for games for a baby shower for a friend of mine, and I thought it might be fun to look up some old wives' tales about pregnancy and design a trivia challenge.

Myths and legends are fun, right?

Well I was looking at this site expecting it to "debunk" the myths, but instead it offered scientific explanations for why they were TRUE.

And that made me realize that it wouldn't make for a very good game in mixed company. I will share them here for anyone interested, but take a pass if pregnancy is a sensitive topic for you.


Old Wives' Tales Regarding Pregnancy: Worth Taking Note (loosely translated from this article)

Things you shouldn't do:

1) Take up handcrafting (Sewing, Knitting, Embroidery), because it will result in a birthmark on the baby's cheek.

Verdict: TRUE! The birthmark part is hard to say for sure, but this kind of activity done sitting down is bad for the baby because of poor blood flow...


2) Hang laundry

Verdict: TRUE! Not only han…

Tantrum Terror

David is 23 months old! Such an...interesting...age.


Okay, to start with the positive, the language development is fascinating! Just a month ago I observed that David was using more English than Russian, but recently his Russian has really been picking up. Good timing for us to take a trip to the U.S.! He definitely mingles the two languages, and sometimes he repeats the same word in both languages for emphasis.

He works really hard to find words that will express what he wants! For awhile now he has been saying "Syooda, syooda" (here, here) and points to his table or cup for us to give him something. He also says "BOY" to mean that the object is for HIM, or that HE wants some too.

And then the latest is that he figured out to say "need" in Russian, which is "NUZHNO." It is so funny to hear him asking for things (specifically SUGAR), saying that he NEEDS it. Last night he woke up and was calling for us and I heard him saying "Mama nuzhno, …

Diastasis Recti: Failing Miserably

So I've been working on healing my diastasis recti for about a year now, and I haven't made too much progress. There's been a little physical/strengthening progress, and also a lot of gleaning information and interacting with other people in the same boat.

The last time I wrote I mentioned yo-yo-ing, which is still going on, and a lot of times I just feel huge (for a non-pregnant person) in general, with respects to how my clothes fit, etc. At least 3 people have asked me if I'm pregnant in the past few months, and that didn't do a lot for my self-esteem (let alone for our friendship, LOL). That is definitely one aspect of DR I'd like to leave behind. Ideally I would take the opportunity to raise awareness, but it's not always convenient, especially in an awkward moment.

David is mostly done nursing, and we'll see what happens to my body next. One person said that my body has gotten used to "eating for two" and therefore I'm eating too mu…

Summer in the City

(read to the end, because there are a lot of random topics covered here)


Too...much...SUN....I know I probably say that every summer when we have a heat-spell, and I wish the heat wouldn't bother me, because it surely is a blessing to see the sun after a gray spell. But it's hard to find a happy medium, because when the sun is out there is no escape...not until very late in the evening. As opposed to the very low sun in the winter, it's HIGH in the summer. You can't just wait a few hours for the sun to pass over and some shade to appear. It is directly above for many, many hours during the day. Whether you're going to the bus stop or the store, you have to be prepared.

Personally David and I stay in during this kind of weather. I feel guilty because I know Russian moms try to make sure their kids get fresh air every day. We get up and shut the windows and shades/curtains so the apartment won't heat up, and then we go through our daily routine, until we get a l…

History in the making?

One of the things going on in Russia these days is a crackdown on smoking in public places. You can read about it here and here and here. The bill just came into effect this month.

Andrei and I were talking about whether or not it would make a difference. I'm definitely looking forward to dining out smoke-free. We always used to joke about how just a few feet (of air) separated the smoking and non-smoking sections. No walls or anything. Hello, second-hand smoke! We are definitely spoiled in this sense in the U.S.

Obviously businesses will want to follow the rules if they don't want to get strapped with a fine or worse. Today we were in the grocery store and the cigarettes were gone! That is, they were hidden from view.

But in other areas it will be harder to control. I look forward to standing at a bus stop on a chilly day and not inhaling cigarette smoke. But what do you do, perform a citizen's arrest on the person violating the new law?

Meanwhile, I would really like to…

Seeking brothers and sisters

I was contacted at one point by a woman who visits the same group of invalids with whom I am acquainted. It was great to make a connection that had the potential for future collaboration.

So we became "friends" via social networking, and started to correspond, though never meeting in person. I was encouraged to see the work she's been doing.

Except for this one tiny detail...

...She's Russian Orthodox.

And you know, she might have even been there before when we visited. I kind of might have avoided getting acquainted.

Maybe I'm going to lose a few friends for even admitting this, but I'm not very good at mixing (in a religious context) with people of other confessions (that is, non-Protestants). In 10 years of life in Russia I still kind of shy away from deep relationships with Orthodox believers. There are certain topics that we have to avoid. And I realize that some of it is tradition and not really doctrine/belief, but it just feels like it comes between …

Missionary aims

This evening while brushing my teeth and analyzing the world's political conflicts, I found myself wondering...are there missionaries who enter a country where they LIKE the political climate? Does anyone think to him/herself, "This country is so beautiful, and peaceful, and the culture is ideal, and its people are wonderful too, except for the fact that they don't know Jesus, so I'll go serve there"? Isn't there always something we want to fix?

And a follow-up question to that: is it WRONG to want to fix something? Missions and social justice often go hand-in-hand, and Christ certainly calls our attention to the needy. And when we see social problems, we want to fix them, but we also want to find someone to blame. So we blame the regime. Isn't that how it goes?

I can't decide if that is a fallacy or not, to blame suffering on the government. Does it matter where the corruption lies, as long as it is there, in hearts?

Sometimes it seems like life won…

Updates

So I used up my blogging time this evening trying to type out a complicated recipe for my food blog. I love collecting and reviewing recipes, but I'm not very good when it comes to exact measurements and things like that!

I've restored almost all the content to this blog from my old blog design. Hard to believe it's been less than 2 weeks as I'm already used to the new look!


However, I'm still getting used to having 2 panels instead of 3. I like having everything right there, and I hate deciding what should be at the top! I feel like I'm having separation anxiety with my blog lists way down there at the bottom. I looked at some other blogs and it seems like they're the same way, but it feels like it takes forever to scroll down to those links!

One thing I haven't restored is the touristy/bureaucratic links I used to have. I wonder if I need them? If people have questions they can always email me.

A new thing is that I added a "button" (image/…

Wisdom

At our small group these days we've been studying Psalms, and then Proverbs. The past two weeks have been all about Wisdom.

It was interesting how many references I picked up on in daily life during Week 1!

The first one was an episode of the Cosby Show, believe it or not. We found some episodes online and have found that it covers so many aspects of American life, particularly growing up with siblings! Oh, that Dr. Huxtable....he seems to have a sixth sense for what his children are up to. The episode that day featured one of the children scheming about something, and struggling through the decision-making process. I think it may have been Theo wanting to take flying lessons? And then figuring out what it would cost, etc.

Then we were watching..."Cars." Yes, that's right, the Pixar animation. In fact, it wasn't even the real version, it was either a YouTube clip or a Russian compilation. There was this song..."You didn't follow my advice, you wanted to…