Saturday, February 22, 2014

Another 6 months later

We rose in the 4 a.m. darkness, got all bundled up, and set off on foot, baby and suitcase in tow.

It reminded me of another scene...the one where we were trying to leave Estonia for Russia. But there was no snowstorm this time, and we were trying to get OUT of Russia. David's 6-month registration was up.

We were Finland-bound.

One ticket to Helsinki, please!
We'd had some tentative offers to go by car, but when nothing worked out, it seemed more and more likely that the train was the right option for us. It certainly has many features that make it easier to travel with a child. You can move about (except when passports are being checked) freely. Children do not have to be restrained in a carseat. There are no traffic jams. The bathroom facilities are always available. The border officers come onboard to check documents, which saves time and also means less putting on/taking off of winter garments.

We took the hi-speed "Allegro" train from St. Petersburg to Helsinki, which takes 3.5 hours. I do have to say that I experienced some motion sickness, which I don't remember from previous train journeys. Maybe it was the speed? Or the terrain? It wasn't too bad, though. It was just hard trying to walk up and down with David because it sort of threw my balance off and contributed to motion sickness.

We took the early morning train, which was nice and quiet. We were exhausted, but at least we had a whole day to spend in Helsinki and it wasn't wasted on the train.

David didn't sleep much on the way there, so that meant we could all crash and take naps once we arrived. The hotel got our room ready early in anticipation of our morning arrival, which was another blessing.

There is never enough time to do everything! I half-joked to Andrei that we were going to spend the time catching up on our sleep from the night before.

We headed to explore the bookstore first and got a few Moomintroll books as a remembrance of our trip.

After that we were ready for lunch/dinner and headed to a Japanese restaurant. The night was young, but we were tired. I was hoping to fit in some evening tea somewhere, but David fell asleep on the way back to the hotel. It was not even 7pm and he usually goes to bed at 10. It was almost 9pm in Russia, though. So much for our evening in Helsinki!

I decided to go to bed too, but then David woke up and continued to wake up several times throughout the night. So much for the comfy king-sized bed!

The breakfast buffet in the morning was delicious, and then we checked out and headed over to the Contemporary Art Museum. David was asleep again-apparently on Russian time, as it was only about 12 noon local time. So much for a nap in the train!

David missing a cultural experience

Our train ride back was pretty smooth despite David's rejected attempts to make friends with a rowdy group of Swedes. He still managed to flirt with one of our neighbors, and Andrei later rocked him to sleep for a pre-arrival nap.

Now we need to get David registered again for 6 more months. In the summer we'll probably make a trip to the U.S., and next February or March we'll be looking to take another registration trip. Ukraine doesn't look likely and we've done Finland and Estonia, so maybe we'll look for a new destination.

Being in Finland brought up temptation towards materialism. I don't think it would feel that way if I hadn't lived in a poorer country. I feel the sort of hoarding tendencies rise up...we don't have that in Russia, so I should buy it, right? So many beautiful, high quality products. So many elevators for stroller navigation. A tram that moves so smoothly that it is almost noiseless as it moves across the tracks. Northern country and new language aside, I almost wanted to live there, after being in Russia. Yes, we "dream" of getting out of here sometimes. But I know these things are part illusion. There is no ideal place to live. And we have a Divine Trip Planner-He knows where we need to be.


Proof I was at a museum!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Awkward in a good way?

There is nothing sweeter than seeing the result of answered prayer.

I know I'm supposed to be going to be going to (oops) bed earlier and my sore throat of 2 months is coming back, but I need to reflect.

I started thinking about it last Sunday, as in the 9th, I think it was. But I didn't have time to blog. And so, it's been brewing.

The classroom our church rents on Sunday mornings has more than one awkward feature, but the most pronounced is probably the fact that the door is at the FRONT of the room. Yep, try walking in when worship has already started, or even worse...during the sermon. No slipping in unnoticed! Or what about if you need to excuse yourself in the middle of the service, or if your child should squirm or cry? Grin and bear it? Or stand up and walk out, as everyone stares at you?

I know I sound melodramatic to some of you, for which I apologize. But the fact is that I found a positive feature of the room's backward layout.

When I'm late, people see me. I don't want them to, but they might just be glad to see me. Similarly, I see others who come in late. A lot of times this will be someone who had asked for prayer during the week. And I can't help but feel an incredible sense of thankfulness that this person is here worshiping with us.

That brother with a heart problem. The teenager with stomach pains. The young woman who lost her grandmother. The young man who hasn't been with us for many months. They CAME. In my "church" series I've been exploring the struggle of maintaining church attendance, so I am really conscious of what it takes each person to get to church.

There are a few people whose presence practically makes me burst out crying each time. Like my friend who was pregnant at the same time as me and came down with chicken pox...then got a brain infection of some sort after giving birth. Is she here today with her husband and babies? Is she even singing with the worship team? We weren't sure we would see this day.

So as I look up at the worship slides, my vision might get a little blurred. Because certain people are still walking in and trying to find seats and taking off their coats. But in my distraction, I am thankful. And I look around and am reminded of other needs, ones not answered yet. I know I must continue to pray, constantly.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

David's "vocabulary," 19 months

I'm just sort of typing this out to remember it later! We honestly haven't been paying attention much to where he should be for his age, and are expecting a delay due to having two languages.

Communication is happening, verbal and otherwise.


"Arf-arf!" -Dog

High-pitched squealing/giggling -Bird

"Zzzzzzzz." -Car

Slurping/sipping noise -I want a drink of water

Growling noise -Bear/Tiger/etc.

Gesturing with hand/aahhhhh -Hot

Gesturing with hand/ohhhhhh -Cold

Shaking head -No/I don't want to/I don't want to stop.

"Boom!" -Fireworks/firecrackers outside

"Bam!" -I hit my head (or other body part).

"Co-co" or "Coo-coo." -Quack (Duck)/Cookie

"Bl-bl-bl" -Belly button

"D-d-d" -Daddy or Daddy's things

"M-m-m" -Mommy/milk (nurse)

"B-b-b"- Bread

"Blech" -Yucky/trash

"Too-toooo"- Train/Let's go (to another room, for instance)

"Too-tah" -Туда (Russian for "that way" or "over there")

"Ai!"/"Oi!" -Exclamation


Those are the ones he uses with me, Andrei or Nina might have more in Russian.


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Child-Proof Crafting

...It's not the crafting that's child-proof, it's the RESULT!

David was napping (gasp!) one day recently, and I decided to finally tackle a project that had been in the works for the past 6 months or so.

Lacy Earring Holder
Ever since we moved in 1.5 years ago, I'd never really unpacked my jewelry. The previous owners of the apartment left behind a vanity table with plenty of drawers for storage...pretty, but not practical for having a toddler in the house. For the first several months, the vanity table was used for diaper and baby clothing storage. :)

Then I decided enough was enough and moved the baby stuff out, but jewelry and make-up didn't seem like the best items to be within reach, so I still couldn't move them in. So I was looking for ideas to put my jewelry HIGH UP.

I really liked the idea of using a picture frame. I saw some examples online. Some involved stretching wires horizontally across the picture frame, and others required stretching a lacy material or netting across the frame so that you could stick earrings through the holes. I like that joke about Pinterest that it helps you use "things you have around the house (just making a trip to 3-4 different stores to supplement)." I did try to make do with plain old materials not suited for the purpose, and that's part of why it took so long.

I bought a cheap-o frame at IKEA, and then Andrei spent a long time getting it to the right color. Then I wanted to use up the lacy scraps I'd found lying around, but it was this narrow strip, so I couldn't stretch it across the frame properly. I tried to stiffen it up with starch and that was pretty much a bust. Then I ended up trying to close the gaps with thread. This is all by way of saying that if you look closely, the final result is far from perfect. Those seams just jump out to me when I look at the photo. But I'm still happy with how it turned out. An acceptable creative solution and not too unattractive.

But when I went to fill it up with earrings, I found that I didn't have that many dangly (sp?) ones after all. What I do have a lot of is NECKLACES. What to do with THOSE? I actually bought a few pretty hooks but I'm not sure when we will actually mount them somewhere.

In a moment of desperation I threw a bunch of knick-knacks on top of the vanity mirror and dangled the necklaces down. It looks a bit silly and is far from stable. But now the necklaces are at eye level and aren't lying in a box all tangled together!

And it all brings a bit of color/personality to the bedroom.

Improvised Necklace Holder