Saturday, January 28, 2017

Aspects of living abroad


So I wrote about grocery shopping recently and now I have something to share about the postal system in Russia.

I just completed an experiment in which I ordered some books online to see how long they would take to get here. I'm not sure about big cities in the U.S., but here it's like being back in college: you get a package slip in your mailbox and have to go to the pick-up window. Kind of exciting but a let-down at the same time because you have an extra errand to do before getting your package.

Post offices are pretty easy to find and ours is practically visible from our kitchen window (if you kind of crane your neck a bit). I've written before about how the hours can be confusing, but it turns out that the pick-up window doesn't have a lunch break.

A few weeks ago, the first part of my order came in. It had been shipped separately from Great Britain. The pick-up window is open until 8pm and it was around 6, so I grabbed my passport, threw on a coat, and headed over. I went around the corner thinking I had been sent there before to pick something up. Waited in line only to be told I needed to go to the other window on the other side of the building. Once at the front of the line, it turned out I was supposed to actually copy my passport info onto the back of the package slip, along with the date.

That was to receive one book, which had taken a month or so.

Earlier this week, I got the second package slip, marked Urgent. I hustled over, but when I opened the door, the room was filled with people and I didn't have that kind of time to wait in line. :( Everyone always complains about the lines at the post office, but I don't usually mind...must have come at a particularly busy time, though. I went back home feeling rather disappointed.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Rocking


The baby stopped napping recently, or I should say she started fighting sleep. Too much to see and do, I guess! Andrei has always been the bedtime person and I've never really had the knack, aka patience/stamina. I'll have to look back through my notes from David but up until now we pretty much would give a pacifier to Sophia and she would go to sleep. And then for nighttime Andrei would rock her a bit. But now for naps she waits for someone to actually put her to sleep.

A couple of times Andrei wasn't home and she just kept crying. Finally I got out the baby carrier, which I had intended to use more, but then found out it can be hard on a weak core. But I think the most damage would be from doing a lot of chores while wearing the baby. Just walking around a bit wearing the baby (I've heard up until an hour) is okay, until your core muscles get weak and you start to compensate. So I decided to get it out and have it handy for emergencies. One of those came about the other day when Andrei was out, so I put her in the carrier and paced a little bit. Then finally I remembered that Sophia likes music...as opposed to David, who doesn't really respond as well. There was even a period when I would put Mozart on and prop her up on a pillow with her pacifier, and she'd drop off.

Anyway, the song that came to me goes like this:

"Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us...that we may be called the sons of God!"

(if you know it, you're humming it now)

That song was just what was needed to calm both of us.

The next one that came to my mind was: "How deep the Father's love for us, how vast beyond all measure..."

As I was singing it, I realized it isn't one of my favorites, rather melodramatic! But at that moment it fit the theme of the hour. I was thinking about how I needed the Father's love for ME, and also wanted to model it and receive it for my kids.

Later that same day, David was watching yet another cartoon on Netflix. It was actually a new one that had cropped up, involving a naughty baby chick named Chiro. David watches a lot of action movies and cartoons, yet he found THIS mild one scary! Sometimes he would press pause or hide. I observed what was making him nervous, and it turned out to be the moments when the chick's parents were about to discover his wrongdoing! Of course the screenwriters did try to build suspense, but I felt so guilty that David was scared about discipline! I hope I'm not TOO scary when I'm mad.

In the evening, I meditated on this issue of parenting and thought about how I have a lot to learn.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." -James 1:5



Wednesday, January 18, 2017

"Grocery haul"


(My phone takes long,
 narrow photos....don't
know how to fix that)
I titled this post ironically. We don't do that kind of grocery shopping around here. I'm trying to think of how to explain it. The style here is kind of a mix between minimalism (smaller living space and especially kitchens) and hoarding from the instilled fear of a deficit. So, I guess similar to couponing where you would grab up all the toothpaste on sale or something. But there's not a lot of sale items that we would need, and meats/veggies on sale tend to be already on their way out. So if we do get sale items they can be pretty random like a big bag of cookies or tea bags. We pretty much go out and buy the staples pretty regularly, or my in-laws bring food. Not always a lot of variation, but sometimes something really yummy like bacon.

Today I was on a walk and entered the store just as I was getting hungry for lunch. Suddenly, everything in the store looked appetizing, even non-food items. I was particularly drawn to some cute tins of tea, but already have tons of cute tins with nothing to put in them. Saw a bin of Twix and had to restrain myself. Luckily I only take as much cash with me as I need. I did pick up a few treats and then started drooling over some cute dishes, but didn't have the money or a way to get them home! Plus we don't have the space...but we'll see, I may have to send Andrei back to the store.

Anyway, here's what I ended up with for a non-essentials store visit (picture top right): some party hats that say Happy Birthday, some roasted sunflower seeds, some Oreos, and a Kinder Surprise egg for David as a reward for doing some chores.

Here are a few things that made me laugh...but did not tempt me to buy them.

A sausage keeper container thing. Did you know you need a separate container for storing pepperoni? Those cute dishes are right behind it....we certainly don't need more mugs, though!

Some really cheap tea that didn't get marked down correctly.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

My little boy


You know the joke (sort of) about how new parents look down at their baby and wonder when the "real" parents will show up? Only because it is such a great responsibility!

Confession time: I STILL feel that way, even though my son just turned 4.5 years old. How is he MINE? How am I old enough to have kids? (and some of my friends have teenagers) When are the real grown-ups going to show up and make the decisions and take him to the doctor and shepherd his little heart? I'm so glad I don't have to do it by myself. Because I'm winging it.




When I take the time to slow down, I wonder if I'm too late to enjoy him while he's still little. What if he doesn't need me anymore? I yell "I love you!" just to test it out, and he still says it back. :) I reach out for a cuddle, and he's still up for it. Whew. I can't carry him around anymore. And since I stopped trying to carry him around much about a year ago, it always surprises me when I put my arms around him and feel how tall and heavy he's gotten.

At night David often calls for me, since Daddy is with Sophia. I grab half the contents of my bedside table and relocate to his bed across the hall. Recently I noticed that he was making it until dawn by himself. But then I kept going in to join him anyway. Sometimes the neighbors were too loud on my side of the apartment, and sometimes I just wanted the company. I wanted to squeeze in as many cuddles as I could! Then when it got really cold this past week, we curled up together for warmth, and argued in the morning over who would turn on the light!

Having a younger sibling can make a child seem older, but David is still a little boy! He still has cute (mis)pronunciation and plenty of innocence left. "Come visit us sometime," say the guests on their way out. "Okay, I'll come tomorrow!" I'm a little bit scared thinking of the disappointments in life that will eventually come his way.

I hope he notices that I neglect the housework in order to spend time with him! I know it probably seems like he always has to wait for me to just do one more thing-feed the baby, go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, turn on the washing machine, etc. But I really do try to relax and be present, even if I complain about the mess all along the way.

4.5 years ago I became a mother! I don't feel like I'm out of the fog yet, but I've managed to keep him alive so far. ;)

P.S. Totally forgot to dedicate a song to my birthday boy! Not really related to motherhood, but in honor of the Storks movie we've been watching lately, it's "Fire and the Flood" by Vance Joy.

Late at night when you can't fall asleep
I'll be lying right beside you counting sheep
Anywhere I go there you are
Anywhere I go there you are...


Thursday, January 5, 2017

Unlimited


A lot of people were commenting on how awful 2016 was. And I can definitely think of people near me who have lost loved ones very recently. Even as I type this, the names and faces float across my mind, and I lift them up to the Lord. A child...a mother....an orphanage director...a father. Sometimes it is just something that happens to other people, and sometimes it is closer to home.

He isn't doing it as much now, but David had a period this fall where he was asking me about death a lot.

"Mommy, I don't want to die, EVER." And I just say "I know." Because I don't want to trivialize the grim reality of death by saying something too chipper, and neither do I want to admit that it scares me, too.

But one day we had a talk about new bodies, and he kind of latched on to that idea. And by the next evening he had a new prayer request: that we would die soon, to see Jesus, to get new bodies, so that he could run fast and Nina could pick him up and play rough with him, etc. I felt like his uncomplicated understanding of it made it easier for him to change direction with his thinking.

I don't know if I'm too young for a mid-life crisis or not, but sometimes it feels like I'm at some kind of point of no return (over the hill?), where that old injury or whatever isn't something that's just going to go away....it's here for good. Those hobbies might never fit into my lifestyle again.  This old brain might not bounce back (though it's still early postpartum). And sooner or later we do have to look to the future and think about eventually having new bodies. I wish I could have the pure excitement of my son as he imagines unlimited physical activity!

Will there be gravity in heaven?



Monday, January 2, 2017

We Made It, Part 2


We survived New Year's Eve!



It actually wasn't too bad considering New Year's Eve is one of my least favorite holidays. I think I'm warming up to it, but it's still hard to accept that the Russian New Year is my Christmas. So a lot of the excitement that I feel for Christmas is what they feel before New Year's. Whereas I feel nothing before New Year's, so I feel guilty for feeling nothing! If that even makes sense. I also don't like messing with everybody's sleep schedule and then having to get back on track. That must be an adult thing as I enjoyed plenty of all-nighters in my youth!

So, my in-laws came over around our dinnertime which is 8pm. I barely lifted a finger this time. I try to get the table set and create a generally festive atmosphere, but I can't handle a bunch of cooking and cleaning with small kids around. So they actually brought the food AND the presents, and I was (mostly) cool, calm and collected...MY gift to everyone. Seriously, it was a good plan. I was hanging the laundry while they were there, though...sometimes Andrei and I sneak around trying to get things done while the grandparents are around!

We had a tasty meal: chicken, oven fries (by Andrei), mushrooms in cream sauce, beet salad, and fresh veggies. Assorted storebought desserts.

We tried to get Sophia some sleep before the fireworks began, but she wasn't keen on missing the party. She definitely got a little over-stimulated.