Friday, December 30, 2016

We Made It!

We survived the first semester with 2 kids! Andrei's done administering exams, so we've got a break now until next semester. There are definite perks to the academic schedule. If only certain conditions were a little bit more ideal!

I'm not sure what I pictured exactly, but the last few months could have been worse. We had our non-sleeper first and our good sleeper second (I type this as she is screaming hysterically and not going to sleep, but...usually she's pretty good).

One of the harder things about having more than one child is keeping them safe from each other... keeping them from waking each other up, etc. Sophia is pretty easy-going and can play with her toys by herself when she's in a good mood. So if she were an only child I could get something done, but instead I have to make sure David isn't smothering her. I might have mentioned before that I thought David might be kind of doing it to provoke us. So now that we don't repeat "be gentle" a thousand times a day, he doesn't run right over to squeeze her. He does it spontaneously but it's not like the first thing on his agenda. I have caught him rolling her over a few times, though!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Punch in the Gut

Started this post a month ago or so...

I feel somewhat convicted. I've never much been into political-correctness. Most of the advocating I've done has been for orphans and sometimes I've sided with various movements related to Christian values.

I know a lot of minorities in America have felt "unsafe" lately, and as a white Christian I realize that I don't have much experience with being discriminated against. So I don't even really know what to say! (sidenote: some friends of ours just commented that a swastika was painted on their lawn on Christmas Eve! Devastating...)

(another sidenote: I've never gotten into the politics of holidays in Russia...not sure minorities have even really started to make their voices heard. Western Christmas falls during the Orthodox pre-Christmas fasting period.)

In U.S. culture, I have often appreciated efforts to put the "Christ" back in Christmas. I dislike the mish-mash that the holiday season has morphed into. December/January contains several DIFFERENT holidays, and I like to call them by name. When I was very young, school music programs would still contain selections from various holidays, including Christmas, etc....instead of removing everything except the most secular of songs/traditions.

Anyway, a Jewish acquaintance recently made a comment online, asking people how he should reply when wished a "Merry Christmas." Meaning, how should he keep his feelings under control. While we fight for the right to keep Christ in our holiday greetings, it literally causes others pain (being kicked in the gut was basically how he described it). I hate the word "offended" and I'm usually the one to say that Jesus wouldn't care about offending people. But really I think that boldness is more appopriate when you need to confront some hard truths. Different context.

There's a controversy going on now (that was a month or two ago), related to some Pro-Life ads featuring some people with Down's Syndrome, and that might offend women who've had abortions, or something. Again I think...who cares about offending when the cause (saving babies' lives) is so important? But...sometimes there is a third option that would better protect all involved...and in a good way, not justifying controversial actions. That's what I've been pondering.

As another example, I have never much thought about whether or not I'm offending Muslims. Please don't get me wrong, as it's not like I've been called out for doing something offensive and chosen to just keep on doing it. It's more that I have not examined my own behavior to see how it looks to people in various demographics.

When "it" happens to someone close to you, that's often the point when you change your mind. So the fact that this person on FB was putting himself out there made me stop and think. Maybe when generalizations are made about people groups, I tend to ignore it, but when a person shares about personal experience, that's when I take it seriously. I wonder if it would work for sharing about the causes that are important to me, too. Instead of sharing articles written by someone else, coming out and saying "I'm a  ____ and I feel sad about _____." Maybe those memes and things that are passed around are just too passive-aggressive. What if instead of quoting a Bible verse, I shared about how it makes me feel when my own faith is mocked, or a health condition that affects me is made fun of? And of course it depends on your audience, too!

I want the Gospel message to be heard and not silenced. And if I say Merry Christmas...well, I'm really wishing that to Christians first, and secular Christmas-celebrators second, not really addressing those who DON'T celebrate. BUT I don't want to go around "kicking" people in the gut. Hmmmmm. Makes you think...

Monday, December 19, 2016

Advent Season (Whoops, Christmas already)

How is your Advent going, if you celebrate? Or maybe you "observe" Advent but save the celebrating for Christmas? Sometimes I wish we celebrated St. Nicholas or St. Lucia, too!

(Then a week went by after I started this post)

I got out the Christmas decorations in November, and I was glad for that because my enthusiasm soon fizzled out. In order to enjoy them in December, they really need to be put up in November, right? Before things get crazy?

David is almost 4.5 and I keep waiting for the year when he will be "into" Christmas. We got out our Christmas books and dutifully read them every night for a few weeks, but I don't even suggest it anymore. David likes to decline suggestions now with "I don't think so" or "no thank you." And this includes a lot of my arts and crafts or cooking ideas. He's said "I don't think so" to several baking projects recently. I tried making cookies but the dough was too sticky and David plopped a few M&Ms on and called it a day. I gave him free reign over all the ornaments but he didn't even have the heart to hang any. He likes the part where he opens the boxes and discovers the contents (but not putting them back). Maybe I could make that count for something, sometime. Are boys just not into the baking and decorating?

And he doesn't like listening to music.

So...this is the adult side of Christmas (or any holiday), I guess. Doing things that it seems no one appreciates, so that they can look back on it later as a nice memory. I'm not being sarcastic...I'm sure as a child I did my share of complaining and taking everything for granted. And now I miss those days. Of course David is gradually learning bits and pieces of how Jesus came to Earth and walked among us. So it's not like the holiday is ignored.

As usual, I stopped short of getting ALL the decorations out...funny, I remember my own mother doing that. I thought to myself...I'll make myself get them out, and then I'll have to do the work again when I put them away. So there is just a little bit here and there. I love the lights, though. I want to get more of those. Pretty lighting definitely adds a special mood. I lost my Christmas greeting cards that I put up every year. :( I hope they turn up someday. Yes, I hang onto every little scrap of paper from my life.

My MIL is in the hospital! And probably won't be released by Christmas. :( But hopefully for New Year's. Also, Andrei is preaching on Saturday and Sunday at a church retreat, which we're not going to. So that's our Christmas! But I think the "elves" may come up with a bit of holiday magic after all...

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Sophia's Birth Story, Part 3

Part 1

Part 2

My non-stress test was Thursday, and I would be 42 weeks on Monday. The next day (Friday), my sister was trying to make weekend plans with us, as my aunt was visiting her from the west coast. There was the possibility of meeting up at a playground or similar location on Saturday.

I didn't want to commit to anything, and the more I thought about it, the more I doubted I could handle a car ride. Wait a minute...I wasn't feeling well at all!

Other ladies in the birth forums had been feeling terrible for ages. Aching joints, contractions, etc. If I was just starting to feel poorly, it didn't necessarily mean something was happening...

At dinner, I went easy on the garlic aioli, just in case the nausea was going to start like it had with David, right at dinnertime!

I finally had to admit to my mom that I wasn't sure I would make it through the night. With David, the contractions had started at least 48 hours before. So I hated to get my hopes up, but then again, we had to be prepared.

A skunk had sprayed outside. I remembered the same thing when I was in labor the first time, heading out to the car in the middle of the night.

I couldn't even help David brush his teeth. Andrei took over and I retreated to the other room for the night. The contractions were just about 10 minutes apart, all night long. And that brings me to my birth plan...

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Bureaucracy about town

I had to go to my bank here to get a statement. My friend lives near that metro, and I had letters for her, so it seemed like I could combine the errands. The only problem of course being that I couldn't leave Sophia for too long.

It was my first time traveling that far within the city since May or so. Six months! I was nervous about how I'd hold up physically. I guess I didn't go anywhere without David for a long time, but we did go as a family to church and elsewhere. In fact, as I left today, a friend from church was on his way over to fix David's old stroller for Sophia!

I felt okay physically and it was good to be out in the world...a little bit of culture shock and a little bit of post-partum shock, or whatever you call it when you're doing the same old things, but as a different person.

I met up with my friend and we headed over to a cafe to sit for a few minutes. As we walked in, the guy making crepes (blini) was a kid (now grown) that I'd known in the orphanage. I started talking to him until I realized he was working on an order. They had changed the cafe around and I felt a bit discombobulated and had trouble ordering "Earl Grey" with the right Russian pronunciation. I remember those old days trying to order McDonald's and drawing out all those words, Beeeg Mahhhhk, Kyehhhchup so that the servers would understand.

We only stayed for a little while as I was nervous about getting to the bank. My friend came with me since she had the day off. While waiting in line, I looked through my paperwork and felt so confused about the dates. My latest papers said "2015," but when was that? Last year? And I hadn't been back to this bank since last June? What had happened in the meantime? Had I skipped a year of government inspection? I had a translation of my latest bank statement, so I must have used it for going to the UK. Was that last year?

The clerk called me over and had a form for me to fill out. Incidentally, for the IRS, which meant I had to fill out all my info. in English. Doesn't sound complicated, but it's really hard for me now to write out Russian words in the Latin alphabet. It's like trying to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time. At one point I did switch alphabets, but didn't get chastised.

After muddling through the documentation, I was told to come back the next day...ah, well. My friend and I said goodbye and I headed back to the metro.

Back home, our friend was still fixing the stroller. Then he and Andrei left together as Andrei headed out for a radio gig.

I need to mail off my documents to the immigration bureau and then my reward will be to get going with Advent.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Keeping on

Haven't really felt like writing, but I promised myself I would be transparent and keep sharing my thoughts.

I've probably mentioned it before, but God ministers to me through music. I wish I knew Scripture as well as I know song lyrics, but there's room for both! And I try to challenge myself to match up the songs with corresponding Bible passages.

Recently when I've been trying to quiet my soul, I keep recalling the words "...'Cause life is hard. And it might not get easier."* That's from a song I learned at summer camp back in middle school. Not too positive, right? But the line before that is, "..and we all need Jesus." So, in that case, the words ring true. In John ch.16:33 Jesus tells his disciples, "In this world you will have trouble." I don't see that as a scary thing. I just see it as assurance that going through hardship is normal and doesn't mean that we are being neglected by God or specifically targeted. Of course I am writing this while still trying to convince myself that my troubles aren't any worse than anyone else's.

And then of course there is the obvious: "I cry out. For your hand of mercy to heal me."** Not my favorite song musically, but a good song of appeal, reminiscent of a Psalm.

There are also a few that we sing in Russian that are comforting to me. For some reason I like "With all I am" (Hillsong) better in Russian, but I'll include some of the English words here:

Jesus I believe in you
Jesus I belong to you
You're the reason that I live
The reason that I sing
With all I am

I'll walk with you
Wherever you go
Through tears and joy
I'll trust in you

And I will live
In all of your ways and
Your promises forever

And that one I guess is about Jesus as a precious friend and the center of life. For me I think it's about how He sustains me. I want to cling to Him and all of the promises that He represents.

P.S. Found this site, kind of neat:

*"We Believe in God" (Amy Grant)
** "Good to Me" (Vineyard)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A year of this

Still need to finish typing up Sonya (Sophia)'s birth story. It is bittersweet in a way because I didn't know until recently how injured I was. But she is a delightful baby and I think the birth experience was gentle for her, if that's a thing.

The birth story isn't scary, I promise. :)

But as for daily life, I am feeling very thankful to be allowed to be at home. I don't really have a way to even get out by myself with the kids, but I look forward to doing that as I get stronger. While I have my MIL helping (hopefully for years to come!) and David doesn't need to be in school, I am really looking at it as a time to heal. It is a very important time in terms of being more functional in the future.

This morning I convinced David to snuggle with me in bed a little longer, as Sonya can sleep until 10 or 11. A text from Andrei told me it was snowing outside. I hadn't even looked! Then a friend came over and took David out to play, and Sonya went down for a nap, so I had a quiet house for a bit. I made an orange peel and cinnamon infusion on the stovetop and it was so relaxing. We had lunch, the friend went home, and David went down for a nap without a huge struggle.

Andrei came home and we chatted for a bit before David woke up. Then thanks to David having had less screen time earlier in the day, I felt no guilt putting on Netflix while cleaning the kitchen before small group. Then Nina came over to help before friends came for Bible study. David was so excited to play with her!

It was good to see church family since it had been 5 months. I was still very symptomatic today but got to see people and have a connection with the outside world. Survived another day!

Monday, October 17, 2016


Help! Blogger has done away with all my links that were in the sidebar. I had just updated them and it looks so lonely now. If you're reading this and have a blog, please share the link below since I don't know when I'll be able to restore them.

I saw on a few other people's blogs that theirs were back up. But not so with mine. The comments widget is gone, too. I could go find a screenshot of my sidebar and manually reenter them, but...

"Hello, tech support?"

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sophia's birth story, Part 2

Part 1 

Part 3

After about 39 weeks or so, the midwives started asking if I wanted them to check me, which I didn't. I declined scheduling an induction too. One midwife told me I could "go ahead and schedule" the next few appointments. You mean there's going to be more than one? Depressing.

What was required now at every appointment was a "non-stress test" to monitor fetal activity. A good idea in theory, but not very comfortable. Sophia had thankfully gone head down, but was still flopping around due to my diastasis recti. Reclining in the chair was the worst possible position, and they couldn't get the monitor to stay in place.

A few more weeks went by and I was now more than 41 weeks. At 42 weeks it was Game Over. Funny how you can go the whole pregnancy avoiding complications, only to have the baby forcibly evicted in the end!

It turned out that this appointment was going to be my last before being induced. My dad waited for 3 (!) hours as they kept me on the monitor, then sent me down for an ultrasound, then back up to schedule the induction for first thing Monday. The midwife finally convinced me to have an internal exam, ouch. I could have sworn she was actually trying to get things going.

I wasn't crazy about the nurse OR the midwife that were on duty, and they were both scheduled to work Monday as well. It wasn't looking good for proceeding naturally. When I finally got to leave, they kept saying "see you Monday!" Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence! 4 days to get something started.

To be Continued...

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Sophia's birth story, Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

While I'm facing the reality of a post-partum body and having a newborn all over again, it seems like a good time to review the miracle of Sophia's birth!

(for anyone just tuning in, we live in St. Petersburg, Russia, but I traveled both times to the U.S. to give birth...)

There were a few things about David's birth experience that we changed right away, or at least hoped to do differently. For one thing, I switched from the local Ob-Gyn in my hometown to a midwifery practice in a neighboring town. Longer commute, but a very caring community for the most part. Different birth plan, too-but I'll get to that later.

As my pregnancy progressed, I was often measuring ahead of schedule, and wondered if this baby might be early. I also had gestational diabetes, though. Once I got on a diet, my weight gain slowed down and things seemed more normal. But I still wondered if I might go early.

Once I got towards my due date, though, I had zero symptoms of labor. Same as with David! I mean, not a hint. I barely even felt pregnant. I was carrying really low though (low tone in abdominal muscles), and was told repeatedly that baby had "dropped" and that I looked "ready." Actually, I started getting those comments about 2 months before she was born.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Ferocious Four and 2 Months

The 4 yr old is a challenge right now! I wonder if he is just now reacting to having a sibling. I keep having unrealistic expectations. In my head, if I give him undivided attention for a few hours, he will let me take a break. Or if I let him kiss his sister once, he'll be satisfied and leave her alone and not continue to harass her. What DOES sometimes happen is that if I bite my tongue, he will stop the offending behavior since there is no reaction. But obviously I can't let him harm himself or others. I couldn't ignore the toy-throwing or opening the oven door repeatedly.

There are moments when he seems repentant and it seems like we've figured something out. Like when we argued and argued about naptime and then Andrei came home and intervened, but then David still asked for me and we lay down with our arms around each other and went to sleep. He still wants to please me even if it seems like he wants to hurt me.

David's "I'm sorry" phase seems to be over...when he used to come to us of his own accord and ask for forgiveness. Even when we had already forgotten. But he IS in an "I love you" phase, and that warms my heart. He can be a little resistant toward spiritual discipline, but prays spontaneously sometimes; yesterday's prayer was that I would have 100 babies, that would all come safely.

Thursday, October 6, 2016


I have a bit of an addiction to information. I don't think this applies to all areas of life, though. I'm not one to constantly track a package or flight. There are times when I can recognize that the outcome is in God's hands and I've done all I can.


The other times. I love knowing random bits of information. Before Internet, I liked playing Trivial Pursuit. Somehow I knew facts, even sports-related. Is that any different from wondering "now what was that actor's name?" and immediately looking up the Wikipedia entry?

Where do you draw the line? I think for me, the medical stuff is probably the worst. Are you in that category of person, always self-diagnosing yourself and convinced you're going to die? I have turned into one of those.

Monday, October 3, 2016

New week, New Year

This evening's post is brought to you by a pacifier-soothed baby (gave it to her and she put herself to sleep)! I'm not sure how I feel about that. Are we going to be running around at night looking for it when she can't sleep without it? But could it be any worse than getting up with David several times a night for the first three years? Is it harder to wean from rocking or using a pacifier? At any rate, I'm enjoying the peace and quiet for now. And will have to do a sleep post at some point.

Andrei started a full week of classes, with additional hours. So of course today he also came down with the family cold. Hopefully it will be mild!

The Jewish New Year is being celebrated right now. My church just started a new cycle of The Bible in a Year. I'm not sure how that ended up renewing in October, but I thought it was interesting that it coincided with Rosh Hashanah. I wanted to bake Challah and have our Bible study, but as usual we are sick and whatnot. Someday!

And the last new cycle beginning is related to my online fitness community having an anniversary sale. My membership had run out and I was trying to decide when to renew. I'm being careful about exercise, but right now they're my best resource anyway in terms of being gentle on the post-partum body. I just wish I could have someone like that in person as my trainer! But anyway, I saw the sale and decided that now is a great time to renew that journey. If you are at all looking for some home fitness instruction (especially focusing on core strength and much more), check out the 1 day sale at Fit2B studio.

Oh yeah, and it's my cousin's first wedding anniversary. David and I were there a year ago, dancing the night away. How life has changed in just one year!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Health crisis

(melodrama alert) It's been a rough few weeks! The day before we left for Russia, I had a very good doctor's report. I was extremely encouraged since it had taken so much longer to heal up after David was born.

Within a week after we arrived, I started having some troubling symptoms. I then self-diagnosed and began to read all about it, but decided I'd better take a break from that and focus on other things for awhile. I didn't want to see a doctor because I wanted to kind of put it out of my mind.

We were doing pretty well. Sophia was sleeping well, I felt like I was managing somewhat with two kids, and we were even able to do some fun things like baking projects.

Then the symptoms worsened, and anxiety and depression quickly spiraled out of control. I imagined myself as a life-long invalid. I'd never be able to lift groceries, or my kids for that matter.

I've already mentioned my prayer journal. I also started listening to an audio Bible throughout the day, since it's hard to find time for reading. I told myself that we'd survived much worse, like everything we experienced when David was a baby. I told myself it was just hormones. I told myself that it wasn't a cancer diagnosis. But the logic and "positive thinking" weren't working.

Crying fits gave way to hyperventilating, nausea, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, and extreme weakness. I was shaky all the time and wondered if I could be anemic. I'd never had an anxiety attack this bad. I think part of it was that I couldn't tell what was just butterflies in my stomach (probably about 90% of it)  and what was my organs falling out. Eventually I realized it was just anxiety, but couldn't talk myself out of it.

I gave in and let Andrei make a doctor's appointment for me.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Back to apartment life

As we get back to city life, it prompts me to compare different living accommodations. Would you rather live in a bigger or smaller space? I think as humans we often long for an upgrade, but at the same time a smaller home can seem pretty attractive. I liked living in a 1 rm apartment (that's not counting the kitchen and bathroom) the first year we were married, and living with roommates was always fun as long as I could have some privacy and space to do things like cook. It can be easier to decorate, too. All my little framed pictures look silly on a bigger wall.

Some of those "tiny" houses are pretty cute, the ones that are popular right now and even have their own show on HGTV. But I wouldn't try that with kids.

When your grandparents have their own backyard...

So we're back to our medium-sized apartment after staying with my parents. I like being all on one floor! Makes it easier with kids, laundry, etc.

The noise level is another story, though. Our walls are pretty thin! It's typical of our building type, but there were a lot of features that had us sold on this apartment.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Nighty-night notes and time travel

Before I get in bed for my sleep shift, there are two last letters I have to write.

1) The first is to write in my prayer journal. Unloading some needless worries is a pretty good way to end the day! It can get a little lonely taking turns with the kids instead of with each other, especially at night. So I have to spend a little time with Someone who helps lift that loneliness.

2) The other is kind of a fun one: I leave notes under David's pillow. Once he's asleep, I join him later for a few hours while Andrei is with the baby. I have to admit, David's bed is pretty comfy! But I also like to snuggle with him while I still can and just enjoy him without a baby sister interrupting (although she does eventually interrupt when Andrei brings her in for a feeding).

He always asks who's going to sleep with him, but most of the time he would never know I was ever in his bedroom. So I got the idea to leave a note for him, kind of like the Tooth Fairy! Last night I actually did one with his Invisible Ink pen. In general they say the same thing each night, but it's the thought that counts! Sometimes it feels like we're all in different time zones, overlapping at times to all be awake together. And at other times, watching each other sleep.

Pillow note

Thursday, September 22, 2016

5 years (before and after)

Andrei and I had our 5th wedding anniversary this summer. Sophia was already 5 days late at that point, so we went on a (last?) date.

I also came to the realization that we've been together 6 years (more about that sometime), while I've lived in Russia for 12 years...

...6 years with Andrei and 6 "without" (though he was a good friend).

...6 years as a single missionary, 1 courting, and 5 years as the wife of a preaching elder.

...7 years in children's ministry, and 5 with my own little cherub.

My perception is that the first 6 years went by much more slowly, and the second 6 sped by. Life was busy and hectic as a single missionary in a big city, but days could also drag by as I wondered what would happen next...and most of all, whether I would get married. I had all the time in the world, but waited eagerly. I couldn't believe it took a whole 6 years to start dating, and now suddenly another 6 have passed????

They say time seems to go faster if you have kids, which makes sense considering all the milestones to keep track of. No year is the same, and you can never go backwards. In David's first year or two, we used to celebrate each new month of his life! And in just a few months, Sophia will be a completely different person.

When I feel sad about time passing quickly, I remind myself that we've ONLY been married 5 years and have only just scratched the surface of all life has to offer.

I was rereading "Letters to Karen" which I read while we were engaged. I think it is one of my favorite books on marriage because it has biblical values without being preachy. It's just personal anecdotes with advice from a father to his daughter, in letter format (hence the title).

I like this quote about continuing to get to know someone as you journey through life together:

"The beauty of a partial knowledge is what makes life with your loved ones so fascinating. It could exhaust you if you let it. But it can also keep your heart singing with the thrill of just being alive." (Shedd, p. 17 Kindle Edition)

It's a good reminder to go back to focusing on others in the way that courting couples focus on each other. "How can I make this person happy?" vs. "How can I make him/her understand me?" And of course, fuller knowledge of the Savior as a goal rather than being satisfied with what we already know. If you think you know someone, think again...or better yet, ask some questions.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The new typical Tuesday (AKA taking turns napping)

Andrei had one of his heavier teaching days today and also had to get up earlier. As he was about to leave, David woke up, and I had just spent the past 90 minutes or so settling Sophia, in anticipation of more sleep. Andrei set up David with a movie and set off for work. David loves TV time as much as any kid his age, but doesn't necessarily like it as a solo activity. For now he found an imaginary playmate and made some commentary periodically. But I can't say I got more sleep. A "survive until naptime" kind of day!

The next goal was to eat breakfast and look presentable before Babushka Nina (Andrei's mom) arrived. 2 hours goes by faster than you'd think! As I made myself some breakfast, I kept stopping to give David various menu items to keep him placated. So I only ate part 1 of my breakfast and then took David with me around to different rooms making beds and putting together an outfit. Of course every once in a while I would feed, burp or change Sophia, or put her back to sleep. She can still sleep a lot, though seems to be sensitive to noise.

David kept suggesting games which we didn't have time for, particularly something called "making a robot" which sounded pretty involved. We did finally read some books while I was nursing Sophia. A current favorite is a book about the Human Body, and skeletons were a big theme this summer.

Despite all that running around I only got half (of two) beds made, and was nursing Sophia when Nina arrived, so couldn't open the door for her. I had planned to quickly (haha) get everyone out the door for some fresh air before it got close to lunch/nap(cranky) time. However, David did NOT want to go outside. He wanted to see what Nina had in her purse for him, and there was a glow-in-the-dark dinosaur to play with. Then I changed the plan and decided it was too close to naptime to attempt a trip to the playground. "I want to go OUTSIDE" said David.

Sophia had just eaten, so took a nap while we had a little lunch (plus the other half of my breakfast) and tea with banana muffins. Then she was waking up and it was time to put David down for a nap. The way for me to get sleep to would be to lie down with David while Nina took care of the baby, since Sophia isn't always a quiet sleeper. However, I had to wait for Sophia to wake up first, so I had Nina start the process of putting David down for a nap.

After Sophia was all fed, I checked on David and he wasn't nearly asleep. He was very upset when I switched off with Nina even though I promised she would be there when he woke up. I just couldn't wait any longer to take a nap. Despite the neighbors hammering above us, he managed to fall asleep after about an hour, while I lay there wondering when the baby would be hungry again! I woke up at every creak and thump, but must have slept since I had some very interesting dreams.

When David and I woke up, we heard Andrei's voice! I had expected him a few hours later but it turns out his evening class was actually in the morning now and he'd told me already (no memory of that). So we had a nice surprise with him home earlier.

We were all settled in the kitchen having tea and snacks and I looked wistfully at the late afternoon sun and said we should probably just stay inside since everyone was content. "I want to go OUTSIDE!" said David. Andrei went to lie down and and Nina and I worked quickly to get David into some clothes before he changed his mind (coat/sweater/shirt/gloves layered just the right way). "I want to stay INSIDE!" said David. And sneezed 5 times in a row on both of us. But I quickly ushered them out the door and sat down at my computer!

Next time maybe I will leave everyone else at home and go outside for my own walk.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

2 kids and blogging

2016 has been quite the journey so far! I'm sure I've said it before, but I think some more journaling and blogging in my life would be beneficial.

We left for the U.S. shortly after my previous post, and only just returned to St. Petersburg. For some reason I don't end up doing a lot of blogging in the U.S. This is not for lack of news or cultural observations, but probably because I just don't get a lot of computer time and often go to bed around the same time as David, who turned 4 while we were away.

It seems anti-climatic, though, to sum up the whole summer in a few paragraphs. So I will have to go back and do some reflecting on some of those experiences.

For example, Sophia's birth story, perhaps? It was quite a positive experience in the end, so I certainly don't mind sharing, if she'll let me. ;)

And that is as much as comes to mind for an introductory post. Onward to more about the summer and everyday life.

Friday, May 13, 2016

A trip to the Russian trauma center

Last month, we had a church retreat. Amidst heightened emotions, some discussions were started that prompted church-wide prayer meetings to be held the following week.

I attended one of the prayer meetings, and found many prayers being lifted up for the elders of the church (Andrei et al) and their families. Prayers for protection against sickness, discouragement, and temptation. I was touched because I guess I don't often think of our family in terms of spiritual warfare. When we face challenges, to me it's more of a opportunity for personal spiritual growth, and I don't always think of it being a threat to our ministry. But of course much of what God does starts right in our own homes with our own families and roommates.

Let's see how that works...

The next day, David and I were sitting at the kitchen table watching a kids' show so that Andrei could do some work for a radio ministry. One minute we were sitting side by side, and the next minute David was suddenly under the table! He slipped on the chair's soft cover and slid right down. He has actually fallen several times, but this time he collided with the table's wooden pedestal, very hard and sharp-edged. He could have cracked his head open, but came up holding his shoulder.

I knew there could be a serious injury, but he stopped crying within a few minutes. And there was no blood! To me it was a miracle that his head and neck were okay. I had to think about the prayer covering and this a challenge to our family's ministry? Or a reminder that angels are watching over us? He's only 3.5, but there have been many times when he could have been hurt worse.

It was really hard to determine the extent of David's injuries because he is normally hyper-aware of his body. Another time he had fallen (from the same chair!) and gotten a scratch on his pinky. He was so scared when he saw a little blood! And he favored that finger for days, holding it up in the air. So here we thought that anyone would be a little sore after a similar fall. I even made him some Play-Dough to take his mind off it, and he used both arms/hands, but would periodically start crying, "my arm still hurts!" And he moped about. But then he would be fine for a while.

We got ready for bed, but in the middle of the night he woke up crying that it hurt to lie in a certain position, and he couldn't really turn over by himself. So we knew that we'd be headed to the doctor in the morning.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

French fries in Finland

This post turned out rather long, definitely don't have time for this every day! However, check out my IG feed for frequent snapshots.

David and I (and the other concerned family members) can check this year's border run off our to-do list...whew. Until we figure out if we're going to get permanent residency for him, the 3 yr visa requires him to leave the country every 6 months. Or rather, he's supposed to be just coming for 6 month visits, but he's allowed right back in.

The search feature on Blogspot isn't always the best, so here and here and here are previous border runs with David, and here is one of my own from way back in 2008. Oh yeah, and wayyy back in 2007, one of my first blog posts was about visiting Estonia.

Sometimes we try to make a little trip out of going to Finland, but for the past few years we have found that it isn't very relaxing for all the effort we put in. Plus, it tends to fall between February-April, not the nicest months for exploring any northern countries.

This time, I decided as an alternative method to ask another missionary friend of mine to go with me and David, instead of going through the visa process with Andrei to get into any Schengen countries. My friend has Canadian citizenship, so it would be easy for her to go, and we were counting on that.

Unfortunately, my friend had to rush to Canada due to a family emergency, right before our trip! We were already planning to go on the last day of David's registration, so there was nothing we could really reschedule, and as usual, it was too late to get Andrei a visa, so David and I were going to be on our own. It took some effort to get tickets, as well. I found conflicting information on various websites, and had trouble entering David's birthdate. So Andrei had to make a special trip to the train station to get the tickets, but it ended up being a lot cheaper than via the tourist agencies!

I had planned everything out to end up with an optimal schedule. I always remind myself of this when it appears as though we're completely disorganized. The good intentions were always there! In this case, I picked a later morning departure and then a train back that would have us home for bedtime. We chose a town just 2 hours away, to make for easy travel.

David woke up on his own just in time to get dressed and leave for the train. We were making good time, nothing to panic about. He did start melting down though when he realized Andrei wasn't going with us. David has been having a lot of separation anxiety lately and goodbyes can take a long time. I think today and possibly yesterday were the calmest he's been in a while about Andrei leaving for work and such, but if any part of the goodbye ritual is omitted, he gets quite upset (if so-and-so didn't wave the right way, etc.). He asks for me at bedtime after wanting Andrei and/or Babushka all day! Anyway, I had to take out our emergency toy in order to distract him so that we could say goodbye to Andrei at the train station.

Watching loads and loads of birch logs go by!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A Day in the Life

Today was just one of those days where David was a little more rambunctious than usual! Once again I was thankful to have a more domestic day with few interruptions from the outside world, but I sure am glad his shenanigans are normally fewer in number. Also, we are at the halfway point of Andrei being away. So like I said in the last post, I'm feeling kind of "mom-busy."

I stayed up late last night enjoying the quiet. My kind of quiet...catching up via the Internet at my own pace, and doing a little reading for fun.

Didn't get the miracle I hoped for, and David woke up pretty early this morning. So I went to get him his chocolate milk and turn on Netflix. We started giving him chocolate milk when weaning from breastfeeding (at 2.5 yrs!), so it kind of stuck. No cavities that we know of!

David usually hangs out in the kitchen, but I wanted to snooze a bit and didn't want him in there unsupervised. So I set him up in the living room, right next to our bedroom....

An hour later, he had wet his pants. Just one hour. Somehow it seems to only happen on my watch and never when Andrei is in charge! I found some dry clothes for him and crawled back under the covers...

About a half million requests later (it's hard to make Buzz Lightyear's arms go the right way), I found myself in the living room again, this time to find David sliding around in a puddle on the floor, exclaiming "chocolate milk is slippery!" Again...Andrei gives him chocolate milk, end of story. I give it to him and get to clean up a chocolate milk eruption. Was kind of a backwards start to the housecleaning I had planned, but we rolled with it.

Went to bring the laptop back to the kitchen and felt something on the was modeling clay. Stuck right to the bottom of my computer, partially covering the fan. Uggghhh. David "didn't know" how it had gotten there, but still apologized, and then eventually confessed.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Checking In

The thing about getting behind with blogging is that it gets harder and harder to explain everything that is going on! Too much catching up to do.

(however, a hint is that I post little snapshots on Instagram, where you can see some more mundane moments)

This week, Andrei is traveling on a guest-teaching assignment. He is far to the east in Omsk. Funny to think that many countries in Europe are much closer to us! He is also 3 time zones ahead. We all miss him a lot, but David is probably the "easiest" age he's been in terms of single-parenting. No naps, but no night-wakings either (unless you count sleepily crawling into bed with me around 2 a.m.). And of course, Babushka and Dyedushka are always on call.

David was nonchalant about Andrei leaving, but then burst into tears when he wanted to wave one last time and Andrei was already out of sight. Sometimes I think the most important thing for a child (or anyone?) is for all of his loved ones to be together at all times. Whenever we broach the topic of death and heaven, David wants no part of it. "But I don't want to go to Jesus, I want to be with you. I want you to be my mommy." It sure is hard to sugar-coat, isn't it? At bedtime, David prays that Jesus won't let the "Nik-niks" (sp? villain from a cartoon) control his heart. I guess he somehow has a sense of inner conflict in his soul.

Life is sort of mom-busy right now. I don't do a lot outside of the home, and it's stressful if I have to do something like make a phone call..who has time for that with a very talkative 3 yr old underfoot? But at the same time it is a peaceful existence, even while knowing in the back of my mind that there are things looming that will need my, better not to think about that yet!

Here are some David quotes...some from FB, but not all.

-Naming his toy school bus "Classified."
-"David, eat 3 grapes since you're 3." After eating one: "But I'm actually only 1 year old!"
-"This cheese is shaped like a snowman!"
-"Mommy, if you don't wake up (because I'm telling you to), it will be a sin!"
-"Today is cloudy, so that means it's a cake day!"
-"It's's it Easter?" ("It's sunny...the snow is melting...are we getting on a plane for Amie's house/America?")
-"My boo boo is worse than EVER!"
-"It's so noisy in here I can't hear myself TINK!" (after turning on all his musical toys at once)
-(after discovering his chin dimple) "I want my cute dimple to TALK! I'm going to go to Daddy and say 'dimple surprise!'"

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Hurting hearts

It has been a tough news month. And by that I mean too much of the tough stuff! Some events to make one rely on God and ponder eternity...

Even when I went to the doctor for a prenatal visit a few weeks ago, the lady next to me in the waiting area had "Oncology" stamped on her papers. While I was worrying about getting weighed and measured, others were thinking about life and death. A poster on the wall read "Give Life" and listed some alternatives to abortion, and crisis hotlines.

Meanwhile, a few emails came in from friends in different places whose family members had received sobering medical diagnoses. And we are sent to our knees.

Three years ago now, I wrote a post about orphanage contacts and how when I see friends from the orphanage I'm never really sure whether God is showing me that the door is still open, or just giving me one last chance to kind of wrap up that chapter.

The post in question featured an interesting spontaneous encounter with a former orphanage director named Yuri, who was working when my two sisters were well as during the period when we met many of the other kids at summer camp and then followed up with them during subsequent visits to the orphanage.

So 3 years ago I ran into him outside my apartment building and got one of those famous bear hugs. And then just a week ago I heard that he had passed away.

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Epidemic

My MIL brought pizza tonight and David went to bed right on time, so here I am blogging (instead of doing my exercises), and it's not even midnight!

I wanted to give a description of a "public health scare" that we've been dealing with over here...not the Zika virus, though!


I went back to read my blog posts about the last time Swine Flu (H1N1) was here in Russia. I had a pretty light-hearted attitude at that time, as you can read here. Of course, that wasn't due to not taking the flu seriously as much as feeling skeptical towards the media and the way that people act sometimes when they don't even have all the information.

However, that was before I had a husband (who gets the flu sometimes), elderly in-laws, a preschool-aged child, and another one on the way. We do a lot of quarantining.


In mid-January, I begged Andrei to take David to church with him, as it was difficult for me to be alone with him (particularly in the evening) while suffering from morning sickness. However, Andrei said it would be better for David to stay at home too as there was "currently a flu epidemic." I will admit that these words didn't really click with me, as it seems there is always "something going around."

Then shortly after, Andrei's mother came down the flu right after visiting us. And a friend texted me about the epidemic, and another friend posted a photo on Instagram wearing a sanitary mask, and then Andrei called at the very moment I was reading the news. We had discovered right around the same time that not only the flu, but the Swine Flu was back in Russia. Though I didn't see many news headlines, St. Petersburg was indeed mentioned as having recorded several deaths already.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

If you didn't catch the vision

There have been some interesting posts this month lately (whoops, it isn't January anymore) about what people are hoping for in the new year.

The "one word" theme seems to be especially popular. I wonder if that has always been true or if it's a more recent phenomenon. Some popular ones seems to be "focus," "simplify," "engage," "listen," etc. Interesting because some of those seem to be a natural part of a cycle. We get tired and find the need to simplify and be still. Then we get rejuvenated and start to dive into things with a new intensity. Then we have too many commitments and try to hone in on one thing more intensely. And then we get tired...

Do you have a word or verse for this year? I'm curious to hear. You could leave a comment here or even email me.

But...I probably won't join you. Partly because I don't understand how one goes about "choosing" a word. Certain things will be on our hearts in any given season, and those are the things we will pray about. If we are planning a move, we may have "home" or "dwelling" or some other such word running through our head. Naturally we may search the Bible for that theme. But I guess I wouldn't read any more into it.

And my other question is about whether or not we can join someone on the journey. One person feels called to fast...can we join that calling too, or should it be individual? Should we feel bad if we DON'T get the same nudge or feel moved by someone else's urge to make changes?

What about at a "corporate" church level? Should a church congregation have a particular verse for the year? What is the basis for choosing it and encouraging everyone to focus on the same verse?

I understand that many people believe that God is "giving" them a word. I don't doubt that, but for me it is as spontaneous as remembering a certain hymn which reminds me of a certain aspect of faith.

Is there a difference between "choosing" a topic/word, and God dropping one into our laps divinely? I do like to do word studies and I see a benefit in that. I think that the desire to study something in depth can come from the Lord. But I guess I just wouldn't go so far as to call it my Word of the Year.


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Enter Winter

No Advent or Christmas posts in December 2015, must be a first for my blog! I did just now find a draft from November called "Preparing for preparing," in which I had written two words: "fermata" and "Sunday school." I guess I was going to mention the Advent/Christmas choir...but that's old news now.

So here we are in 2016! As usual, we are still in the midst of holidays here in Russia: another week off and Russian Christmas yet to come. Andrei already gave his exams, so he won't start up with academics until the next semester in February.

We had our typical gray period which I probably complain about every year on here. The shortest days of 2015 were dreary and overcast and it seemed to continue for about a month. And then recently I was ecstatic when it cleared up and the frosty days began. Beautiful. Unfortunately it then went down to about 0 F and I keep chickening out about going outside, simply because child-corralling doesn't always keep me warm enough. Maybe if I did jumping jacks...

It's light until 4-5 pm now, so I don't have to scramble to get us outside before lunchtime anymore... there is still some time in the afternoon.

The fireworks continue every night. Sometimes I feel like I am hearing Mordor in the distance. I wish it weren't the reality for people living near conflict zones. :(

No New Year's resolutions here. Lots of things to catch up on, as usual! And just looking forward to David continuing to hit milestones. He'll be 3.5 in a few days, so I'll have to post an update. :)

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:...