Saturday, June 21, 2008

Preschool Pick Up

This post was meant to be sent while we were still in Podsosnovo, Russia. I miss Pod.

It's like pulling teeth to upload pics so it's taken sometime. I had a breakthrough this morning with a complying dial up connection and babes who were engaged in building a castle in the kitchen while Nate cleaned up! Sweet!

Desi goes to preschool 5days a week and stays from breakfast till after naptime. He's had some ups and downs but overall is really doing well for a little guy who doesn't speak the language everyone else in the school does.

We've recently discovered that for some reason he's been placed in the 5-6 year old class. What strikes me most about this are the little girls and how attune they are to Desi. They look after him and are quite motherly toward him; and it sometimes carries over to me. Watching over the stroller, helping me with Zoe, making sure we get all our stuff, and on mornings when Des is reluctant to enter the classroom they take his hand and lovingly, but assertively, usher him into the classroom.

So I finally went to pick him up last week with a camera and took some great shots of these great little kids. They have been really very nice to DPJ and I'm very grateful for it!

It was cutecutecute when I pulled the camera out -- they are congregated instantly and posed to perfection without any coaching. They know they're cute!

On the bench. Sasha is the boy laying down (I don't know many of their names) he became Desi's instant friend. A really sweet boy who would often caress Desi's face. I don't think he was feeling well on this day.

Des seemed to be more subdued in personality during his time at school. He couldn't talk much, of course, because he doesn't speak Russian yet. When I would pick him up, he would immediately begin talking to me, literally nonstop, and his teachers and classmates would look on and listen in wonder to his little enthusiastic voice.

Here are the women bringing in breakfast to the classrooms. Each class has their own attendants who bring in the meals, etc (Desi's is actually the younger one) . Note the pail, perhaps with water or kasha (hot cereal), and the bread wrapped in a cloth, the tea pot and a little dish of butter or jam.

This is Sasha. Desi's bestbud in Russia.

Spiderman made an appearance one day. This is Sasha all dressed up and posing with the ladies. Oh! It looks like one of DPJ's Superman capes is also being sported. They were definitely intrigued with Desi's toys, etc.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Provincial Observances

Preamble: These observances were composed in April/May but before I had a chance to post them, I found that I'd mistakenly deleted most of them and then saved the document. The next time I opened it there were only 3 listed out of the 12. I had an idea today to try and find a shadow doc via Google Desktop and there is was -- a (recovered) doc that was in some hidden cache file. I did numerous searches via my systems (Dell) search tools and I found nothing. If you haven't downloaded Google Desktop, I urge you to try it!! It's most handy!

  1. I love that Nathan has become more of the point person when things go awry with the babes. Instead of reproaching me, people go to Nathan and give him an earful ("Will you please get your son to stop playing with those fish heads in here?") Of course, I'll still be intercepted by the occasional babushka concerned for the welfare of my underdressed (or in two cases overdressed!) children. It's a generational thing that spans all time zones.

  2. Luba is something of a horticulturalist. She has plants overpopulating all the window sills and nurses them daily. Last night I caught her in the kitchen lovingly spritzing one of her larger plants in the sink. She had a cup of water in her hand, which she drank from but instead of swallowing, she blasted it back out all over her plant. I couldn't help it and began to laugh uncontrollably. She joined me and explained in pantomime that she hadn't a spray bottle so this was her method. She's a genius.

  3. Mayonnaise. The choice dressing of the Russians. There are about 20 different varieties in the stores Рcan't find mustard but there is plenty of mayo! I've studiously avoided regular usage of the stuff for most of my life (plain yogurt is best; esp. the Greek kind!) but find I'm being reeducated as Luba makes little hints & helpful suggestions to use mayo on our cucumbers and tomatoes, or drizzle on top of the freshly fried fish she's made, or in the pork cutlet saut̩ with potatoes and carrots, or on the pelmeni and veriniki (meat and potato dumplings). I'm not saying it wasn't all good, but it just doesn't feel right!

  4. After a fun evening of laundry with Luba, she leaves to spend the rest of it with friends across the street. I shout after her, "Have fun!" and Nathan, who was beside me, remained silent for a minute and then said, "They don't have that expression in Russian. I wouldn't know how to translate that."

  5. Nathan currently works (for free) at the collective farm's brewery here in Podsosnovo. He often has to beg his coworkers to allow him to help out with the work, and while thus engaged, he tries to get them to discuss their lives and families. Last Friday there was a little celebration after lunch, and some of the workers retired into a small, tucked-away room taking frequent shots from several bottles of vodka (and eating sunflower seeds). Nathan sat with them for a couple of hours listening to them talk and occasionally joining in on the conversation (and, it must be said, also partaking of the sunflower seeds). At one point, Nathan's coworker Roman explained: "We Russians never drink vodka at home, because by the time we leave work it's all gone."

  6. It's nice to have a cat on mouse duty (and to find that I am no longer allergic to cats – yes, mom, can you believe it?!) However, on a recent Sunday the cat joined us in the living room as we were in the middle of our sacrament meeting with something suspicious in her mouth. Des announced, "The kitty's got some chocolate!" But upon closer inspection it was not chocolate; it had 4-little feet and a head&tail! Ugh! The presiding priesthood holder expedited a fast removal from the scene but the spirit was decidedly disturbed.

  7. Russian women love their stilettos and general high heeled shoes. Even in winter with multiple inches of snow on the ground, I've witnessed countless numbers of them stylishly navigating the icy surfaces without any problems. I am more at ease in my military reminiscent Earth boots. Clunky but comfortable.

  8. Motorcycles. I cannot understand the appeal. Ever since my mom got into an accident with a neighbor guy on a bike (yeah, she was hot) and hurt her ankle, I've been a combination of terrified and annoyed by them. They are so noisy. And guys who usually have motorcycles have a certain personality (uber- machoism perhaps) which really turns me off (I know, gross generalization) Anyway, Pavel (19-yearold son of Nikolai&Luba) has a bike. He pulled it out of the garage, all rusty and busted, and resurrected it and his social standing in just over 3-weeks. The guys and the girls flock to him. He's outside from noon to last light and his machina posse comes and goes throughout the day. Girls young and old will stand around, eating sunflowers seeds, giggling&ogling him; Guys with their bikes will come roaring up to the house and they'll all convene and straddle up and blast off. Ugh! A bike culture thing, another universal.

  9. I'm so proud! Zoe had fishcakes for breakfast this morning. Luba&Nikolai go fishing a lot and the other night put most of their catch through a hand grinder creating a lot of fish meat (with bone chunks!) Zoe has become more adventurous in her eating since arriving here, which has been a relief to witness. Up to this point she's been a very reluctant eater. Fishcakes!! For breakfast!! YES!

  10. There is this interesting anti-consumerist thing happening in my behavior (it's always been in my mind but I am finding real&necessary utilization and urgency for it). I note with dread all the waste we are generating as it builds up at the back of the dom. We buy lots of 'fizzy water' (carbonated h2o) and yogurt and juice and milk and various packaged things. . . all this creates large amounts of garbage and is starting to affect my usual tendencies to buy more, replace more, keep things new and nice. For instance, my rubber gloves have a hole in the finger, my impulse is to just buy another pair but then I think, what will I do with the old pair? It will just sit out back and contribute to the waste. . . or Luba needs a spray bottle and I entertained thoughts of going to a store and finding her a nice one but then realized my Mr. Proper spray cleaner (spin off of Mr. Clean) is almost out and she could use that instead. She also spends a lot of time watering her plants and I've thought of getting her a fancy watering can until I noted she had begun using our Bon Aqua water bottles and decided that recycling them was certainly more virtuous. Good lessons

  11. Nikolai&Luba dote on Zoe (Des will get an occasional poke, smile or hair ruffle.) Nikolai can't walk past Zoe without making some little baby noise (a favorite is, "Coo Coo!" as in a coocoo clock. It sounds so funny coming from adults and I've heard several people say it to her) and calling out her name, or trying to reach for her or nibble on her. Zoe has tried her usual snubbing tactics with them, which is usually shouting the word, "NO!" But they are undaunted and keep coming back for more abuse. She and Luba will get into shouting matches that will usually end in giggles (Luba calls her "Madame"). One day Zoe was pulling her onsie down and looking curiously at her chest. Luba saw her doing this and began to laugh heartily and has since been poking at Zoe's chest and coaching her to eat more cabbage so that her breasts will grow.

  12. I'm awkwardly noting a lot of split pants and open flies. Mostly in guys. Pavel, for instance, will sit astride his bike in a pair of pants with a huge split right between the legs. All this actually makes me feel a little better about an old pair of linen pants I love and have been sheepishly wearing with the very same problem.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Desi Candor

When I told Desi it was resttimenaptime one afternoon his response was, “I’m not resting! Aren’t you nuts?”

Zoe! You look just like a girl!

What do I smell that’s excusting?

Run for your lives! That mommy has a toothbrush!

Can we do something fun in Russia liiiiiiiiike. . . . . . build a tent?

Zoe? Do you want to be a peacemaker?

Is that in New Yorkan?
(‘New Yorkan’ is the new standin for English)

After getting scratched away from a big hug he was giving Zoe he cries, “Arghh!! Zoe’s like a cat!”

Dad, did you forget? I don’t speak Russian!

The babes love me to buy these little chocolate eggs that have toys inside. On one unfortunate day, the toy inside Desi’s egg was a little beachgirl and he threw it to the ground in anger saying, “I don’t want a girl toy!” I then proceed to give him my gender-equal-love-lecture and being-grateful-for-what-you-have-lecture when he finally conceded with the following , “It’s ok, it’s ok. It’s ok that I have a girl toy. There’s a boy with a ballerina shirt at my school. So. . . it’s ok, it’s ok.”

Early one morning:
Me: What are you thinking about Des?
Des: I’m thinking about how to get out of Russia.
Me: Get out! Why do you want to get out?
Des: I want to go see Heidi.

Zoe, Do you want to get naked too?

As we were walking past the fields one cold morning, Des points excitedly to a stack of steaming hay, “Look! Hot hay!”

Des has had a runny nose. It seems he resists all instruction to use a tissue over his sleeve – until one day he said, as his nose was oozing, “I know just what to do about my nose!” He then dashes to his clothes cupboard and pulls out the pants he was wearing that day at school. He digs out from the pocket a battered tissue and begins to wipe proudly and says, “A girl from school gave me a tissue.”

Des: Zoe do you want me to kiss you?
Zoe: No
Des: Do you want me to hug you?
Zoe: No
Des: Do you want me to spank your bum?
Zoe: No
Des: Zoe, do you know what ‘spank your bum means’? Does it mean ‘read me a story’?

I'm turning dark and going into the toilet!

After making a funny, senseless sound for a few seconds, Des earnestly turns to me and asks, “Is that a funny memory? Is that going to be a memory for you? Are you writing it down?”

When Zoe grows up will she still be Zoes?

After a nice long cuddle, Desi sighed, "I don't want to grow to a grown up -- I want to stay with mommy. I don't want to leave mommy."

Will you be so happy to see my children? Will you love them? Will you? I'll take them to see their grandma&grandpa everyday!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Zoe en Voice

No! I said No!

While swinging one morning Zoe declared happily, “MyGrammy loves me!”

That bug standing on me.

Please! Pretty please!!

This butter's yummy!

Zoe: Neibaur . . .
Me: Are you thinking about Neibaur?
Zoe: Yes, Neibaur.
Me: Neibaur and Leila are our special friends. I think about them all the time. I miss them.
Zoe: No! My friends! Neibaur&Leila.
Me: Are they your friends?
Zoe: MyNeibaur. MyLeila.

With her legs as far apart as she could get them standing Zoe will proudly call our attention and say, “Kids do that”. She must have seen some kids somewhere doing that and has been trying it ever since.

Nia nadda Stroller!” She addressed the stroller in Russian! We were out walking and she insisted on pushing it along and it proved too difficult. Nia nadda means it’s not necessary or you’re not supposed to do that. Des has been hearing a lot of that word.

Pointing at one of the biggest freckles on my arm Zoe asks, “Chocolate?” I say no. “Ice cream?” She wonders. I say no. “Take it off?” She suggests. I say no.

As a baby approached us, Zoe pointed and said, “Little man coming.”

Not me, not me school.” She’ll say this in order to be reassured that she does not have to go to school. She only lasted about 4days before it was decided that she would not go any longer. She and I are now spending consecutive, one-on-one, days together and it is the most blissful discovery – the company of my daughter!

No way Jose!

Eat something, tummy hurts.” She never used to ask for food and now to hear her say this on a regular basis is greatgreatgreat.

Desi happy?

Zoe had her finger up her nose. I asked her what she was doing and she explained, “Get something nose”.

My teachers, byebyebye. Pakah pakah!” Again reflecting upon school and the happy fact that she doesn’t have to go.

Zoe found some coins on the floor and was so happy, “My kopeks!” then she started tapping them together and said, “ Singing kopeks!”

After searching a bit to find her favorite socks, she began to put them on and say, “Don’t worry socks, don’t worry. Mommy find you. Hi!”

Sunday, June 01, 2008

In Kazakhstan

We’re in KZ for the next month trying to get back into Russia with a new 3month visa. Meanwhile we’re hotel hopping and sightseeing in Pavlodar. Today we ran into our first American family at the fountains as ourbabes were frolicking topless. It’s the first extensive verbal conversation I’ve had with another woman in a real long time. Nice.

Below are some pics of the city. These are highlights – don’t let them fool you into booking your next family vacation to Pavlodar, Kazakhstan.

Getting off the day shift at the Pavlodar Waldorf? Nope. Highschool graduates. Who needs a cap and gown when these little numbers are the rage!

The Russian Orthodox Church. We had a spectacular view from our hotel.

This was the playground in the shadow of the church. Thebabes loved it. I was rather on edge as everything was made of metal from what had to be soviet era, most of the equipment was rusting and jaggedy. The human hamster thing in the center was a big hit, as you can imagine. When the big kids occupied it, we were breathless.

In the same day we marched over the Mosque. Spectacular! It was so exciting to see a mosque again – it’s been since my trip to Dubai in ’98. I love mosques and hope to see several more in KZ and UZ!!
Here’s Des being provoking with his orthodox Jesus icon here on the Mosque premises. Where does he get these ideas?

So, goodbye urban metropolis we’re heading next week to rural KZ to wait out the Russian visa game. Nate’s promised I’ll love the longdrop facilities and bringing in water from the neighborhood well. Anyway, I’m living it up now in our hotel by taking showers everyday again and lounging around in my new housedress purchased at the rynick (bazaar) down the street. I’ve decided it’s cool to be a hausfrau and decided I’d dress like they do here. So comfy and quite liberating! I’m lovin’ it! Nate makes regular trips to the market to get me fizzy water too. He brings it home baby.