30 August 2010


i'm not sure what will happen with this blog.

if it's about life in russia, i'm failing. i don't see much of russia these days. and, really, who wants to hear more about the car sagas and paperwork sagas and dealing with the consulate? it's all old news.

will we be in russia next year? it's possible. will be be overseas? it's probable.

i don't really think i'm mommy-blogger material. a friend said about f@cebook, "what ever happened to privacy?" it made me think about this whole blogging thing. because, it's not just my story anymore. it's hers. and i don't know what parts of it she wants shared.

i do treasure the blogger-friends i've made, though. many of them are now irl friends who just started in bloggerdom.

and, actually, i get quite nice e-mails from people that touch my heart and make me want to keep being an encouragement.

so...we'll see. right now we're recovering from the start of school. i'll be back--either blogging myself or just commenting away. (that sort of feels like cheating, though. and, goodness knows my comments are often as long as your posts as it is! without a blog i might be one of THOSE commenters--not a fate i relish.

17 August 2010

in brief

Monday: Went to Pavlosk. Had a lovely day. "I am just so happy to be feeding ducks." Did take photos...will post. (I know I posted photos of the last time I went..but can't find that post.)

Today: Went to amusement park. Decided rides in the park are only amusing if you have physiological "fear" reaction while knowing you are really safe. When you think you might not be safe, it's not amusing.

Tomorrow: School for me.

14 August 2010

for Christmas...

We're going to Lapland!

We'll fly in and spend the first day playing in the snow and/or shopping. That evening there is a snowmobile trip to see the Northern Lights and have a campfire.

The next day we will go for a dogsled ride.

The following day we will go to a reindeer farm, drive across the Arctic Circle in a reindeer-drawn sleigh and visit Santa Claus in his village.

We leave the day after and come home for Christmas eve and day.

I am so excited! I think this is the perfect time to do this--we're geographically close and she's still full of wonder and belief. I've never taken a package holiday, but this seemed perfect for us.

13 August 2010

Colorado pix

June, I have to start this with sad news for you. My camera battery died right before the singing cowboys came on stage. I do have pix of the fun beforehand, but until friends e-mail me their pix, there are no singing cowboys to be found here.


Here is my favorite cowgirl ready to leave Chattanooga and fly to Denver (via Dallas).

outside Casa Bonita in Denver--a gloriously cheesy Mexican restaurant
You don't go for the food.
But the cliff divers, pinatas, puppet shows and general atmosphere are priceless.

at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
(Nif, Amy, let me know if you want this picture removed.)

This is America the Beautiful park. See why?
(That circle is a fountain.)

eating a just-picked apricot

The night of the singing cowboys!
Waiting for everyone to arrive at Flying W Ranch. I couldn't pick just one.

getting her face painted

watching a horse get shod

dancing with Sunshine Sweetwater

ready for the chuckwagon dinner and show
She loved the cowboys! She had been planning for weeks,as she told me often, that she would be on stage with them and sing a song--just one. I told her I wasn't sure that would happen. They did announce that she was visiting from Russia, so I popped her on top of the picnic table and everyone applauded. That was a happy moment. She ate some, made her usual multiple trips to the bathroom, danced a lot, and then fell asleep. All in all, an excellent night.

Ah, my glasses. Well, the eye doctor told her this time that she needed to wear her glasses all the time. So, I abandoned my contacts and got glasses, too. I know she's not wearing them here. But, she usually does. And I've decided bold frames like these replace make-up for me.

12 August 2010

we didn't

* learn to swim
* learn to ride a bike
* get professional pictures taken
* get any pictures of the two of us, really
* buy a temporal thermometer

get to finish this post! Maybe later...for them all.

11 August 2010

we brought back...

Everyone seems interested in what came back to Russia with us. Well, in addition to the clothes we brought over (also pictured) we brought supplies for a year:

All of that fit into this:

and cost $400 to bring with us. Most of that was because we flew on a domestic flight before we flew international. We had two 50 lb. bags and two 70 lb. bags.

What is all that? Well...
-clothes for Lexi for this winter and next spring, underwear to outerwear
-three pairs of shoes for Lexi in two sizes
-some clothes for me (but not nearly as much!)
-Christmas presents
-candy canes
-one of my dolls that L adores
-vitamins for us both
-cold meds for L (we're pretty stocked for me and on pain reliever for her)
-shampoo, but only a couple of bottles
-lotion for sensitive, exzema-prone skin
-warm vanilla sugar hand sanitizer
-ziploc bags
-chocolate chips (in the carry-on because they're HEAVY)
-cupcake liners
-brown sugar
-fabric for halloween costume, cotton jammies and a corduroy jumper
-gifts from friends
-velcro hanging strips and hooks
-notecards with envelopes
-wall stickers (and an extra set of the same so wherever her next room is will feel familiar)
-dress-up clothes. and tap shoes. in two sizes.
-alphabet stamps and non-toxic ink pads
-pencils with erasers, erasers for pencils
-a new backpack
-American flags we were given on the 4th
-a travel pillow and blanket that she didn't really have any interest in
(I think that's it.)

Some of these things they have here (medicine, tampons, shampoo) but I just prefer having medicine I know, tampons with applicators, and shampoo that I like when it's really dry in mid-winter. Most of the things we brought are either unavailable or ridiculously priced. Clothing here is poorly, cheaply made and costs an exorbitant amount.

I told my friend who shopped with me not to feel compelled to keep up--we're done shopping for the next year! She'll be back at T@rget as soon as the baby's born. ;>

It's a breeze

Ah, bliss.

My windows are thrown open wide and the fans are gently wafting cool, fresh (well, as fresh as it gets here) air back and forth from corner to corner. Things are cooler. Rain clouds are gathering and spitting. I slept last night.

Huh. I guess my excuses for non-productivity have evaporated. Best get busy!

08 August 2010

groan, much?

We are so far past "inelegance" that is isn't even remotely amusing.

It is dreadfully, insanely, ridiculously, intolerably hot. It is stifling. Suffocating. Will-zapping. Mind-numbing. It is just. so. HOT! I cannot function. Heat has zapped all possible incentives to do anything but be cooler. Must. find. air.

It's too hot to go out, too hot to do anything. It's hot. Hooooooottttt. The cats are lying around on their backs, not moving all day. It's a little eerie.

And it is loud. A friend told me that there is a noise ordinance in St. P that means you have to be quiet after 10 p.m. This ordinance, apparently, does not apply to cruise-and-party boats on the canal outside my window. The bridges go up at 2 a.m., so the noisy boats cruise up the Neva to see that and then past my window until about 2:45 a.m.

What am I supposed to do? Shut the tiny, little screened window that lets in a breath of air for the fans to blow around? (Even if it were cooler I wouldn't sleep with the big windows open because 1. We're only on the second floor--with climbable roofs below us (Why isn't it rooves?) and 2. Mosquitos--I don't trust the toxic plug-in to defeat the swarms an open window would invite) It would be quieter. But, it would also be hotter.

Lexi's room is a quieter, and we could bring in a multitude of fans, but the bed isn't very comfortable. (I think the answer is sleep there until 3 a.m. and then move to my more comfortable bed. But that takes initiative. We'll try it tonight. Probably.)

Why is it even when it's this hot every living, WARM-blooded creature still wants to snuggle in my bed?

In years past when it got this hot I just showered often, wore little, and changed my sleep to 3 a.m.-11 a.m. and then laid around reading and drinking iced tea all day. That's not really an option anymore.

I. need. sleep. I need it to be cool and quiet.

Then I can get my act together. School starts in a week-and-a-half so I need that act together quickly.

For now, peach juice and frozen strawberries are getting tossed in the blender.

07 August 2010

grown, much?

Wow, huh?

On July 22, ten months home, the doctor measured Lexi at 46.5" and 44.6 lbs--putting her in the 25% for both height and weight. She came home in the 10%.

(The K's and M's are for how tall Kristina and Mama are.)
(I'll move this back to July 22 soon.)

Here: October 2009 and June 2010
(She and Alex have grown so much they now require a double stroller at the Bronx Zoo. Can't wait to see next year's picture...)

(Ann Marie, our children are STUNNING!)

06 August 2010

I don't think we're in Kansas

We're certainly back in Russia.

One of our bags was lost and I had to fill our paperwork in triplicate. It would have been duplicate, but I made "too many mistakes" (2) on one--because the date format kept changing on the form.

No one met us (odd) so we had to take a cab. The first group of cabs, wrangled by one guy, wanted us to trust their meter. I asked for an estimate of the charges and they told me 1500-2000 rur. I declined. They asked what I thought a fair price was and I told them 800 rur. They continued to try to convince me that 1300 was a fair price as I asked around to try to find a cab that wasn't theirs. I found a nice man who led me past the corrupt wrangler to another wrangler (head to the far left after exiting baggage claim--skip the first group) who charged me 700 rur. Ha!

It's incredibly hot. It's incredible how hot 90F can feel with no a/c in the city. Tomorrow it will be 97F.

Discovered there was no running water when I went to take a shower this morning.

My car is undriveable due to a flat front tire and expired-while-we-were-away registration. They can't renew it because my kartooshka, proving I work for the consulate, also expired while we were away. So, we walked the three-mile loop of school-consulate-home to pick up the car key and expired registration from school (car left there to avoid surprise towings while away) and deliver it to the consulate along with passport-sized photos (had those--Ha, ha!) for my kartooshka. Once that is done, they will re-register my car. AND I left them money for the insurance policy that will expire in September, hoping that we won't have a disruption then. (Ha, ha, ha. Right.)

We had blini for lunch on the way home. The blini did not agree with my stomach. At all. Fortunately, the water is running again.

We have to figure out car-less shopping and ways to beat the heat tomorrow. Maybe a trip to Mega...

Yep. We're back.

[In brief: Do I want to return to live in the US? Yes. Why don't I just do that? I'm a single mom. I have to have a job. The market for teachers in the US is rotten right now. AND international schools sign contracts much earlier (November--everything sorted by February) than US schools (May, June, July, August...). I can't be jobless. Lexi and I both like to eat. So, we'll see. Will we be back sometime? Most assuredly. At least, that's my plan. Quit snickering. My guess at this point is another two years on the international circuit, but not in Russia, and then back to the US.]

More catch-up on its way. Catching up on life and sleep first. Thanks for sticking around!

04 August 2010

safe and sound

We're home. We flew on three planes for 20 hours. Lexi was practically perfect. I don't know how she could've been any better--carrying her backpack and pulling her suitcase, looking quietly at the safety instructions (on every plane) for ages, sleeping, and quietly occupying herself. Wow. She has always been a good traveler. This time she was AMAZING.

We're both jetlagged. Lexi is REALLY jetlagged. And, since she was awake (but not up--in her bed either just lying down or looking at books) from 11:45 p.m. on last night, I was, too. I gave up at 3:15 a.m. and went back to sleep. I don't think she lasted much longer. We reluctantly crawled out of bed at 10:30 this morning.

Lexi is SO glad to be home. She hasn't said, but I can tell she wishes her new friends were here with us. Or that she could just go outside and play in the back yard.

Now the unpacking begins...