Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Desi Candor

While pretending: “I’m new. Shake my hand. I crawled out of the wall. Glad to meet you.”

Zoe when we grow up to be real people we’ll be married and you’ll be my wife and I’ll be your . . . FATHER and we’ll have lots of children. Sometimes you can visit my apartment too. Do you want to visit my apartment Zoes? When I’m five you can come to my apartment.

“Does she love me? Does grandmaGrace love me mom?” While looking at pics of our visit last November (’07). My grandmother turns 100yearsold next month! We love you grandmaGrace!

I like seeing Zoe do lots of kinds of funny things.

While kicking wildly and making sharp movements with his arms, Des called out, “Do you see? Am I like tofu mom?” He meant Kung Fu.

You know what I’m thinking about? [Pause] Oh! I need to think about it . . . [Long pause] Ok, I thought about it . . . [In an very mysterious voice] Secrets for everybody in this whole land and the New Yorkans!

Are you happy I gave you a kiss?

My fingers are pretty.

Tomorrow I’m going to learn not to do bad things.

Mom? Can you come to my bed and cuddle and talk about what we’ll do when we get back to New York and Heidi’s place?

“It’s evil that you make me try! I hate it!” On being required to practice wiping his own bum.

Zoe loves me!

I didn’t fall asleep last night – I laid down and transformed.

Are the Holy Ghost and God ever funny?

Is Grandpa as old as this matchbox?

I want to go back to New York tomorrow!

Des: I’m funny right?
Zoe: No! No way Jose!

I don’t know how in the world I got peepee on my pants.

Am I pretty Zoe?

I handed a napkin to Des and directed him to please wipe his ‘mouth’. When I looked over a minute later I found he’d put the napkin inside his mouth and was solemnly wiping it out.

During another bathroom independence session: “No!I don’t want to be like Oliver, he wipes his own bum. I don’t want to wipe my own bum! YOU DO IT!”

I hate when you say ‘NO’. I hate that cute voice.

After a halfhearted attempt to eat DPJ announced,”I’m done with my gas. Food is my gas.”

“Heidi is the one who loves us best!” While chanting and walking around in circles with Zoe.

Mom? Do you know what my earth would be like? STRAWBERRIES AND MANGOES.

“Well, I don’t see how we can make it better if we can’t use superglue.” He’d torn or broken something, which I can’t remember anymore, that couldn’t possibly have been mended with superglue. He’s of the opinion that superglue is the magic-fixer.

“I was nice and hard working – it was great! I had sweat.” After making a half-dozen superhero collages.

After a little gas escaped his rear-end Des observed, “It sounds like a helicopter.”

Desmond said, in dependable bigbrother fashion on the first day of pottytraining Zoe, “I’m the one who watches over Zoe to make sure she doesn’t poop everywhere.”

Why didn’t Heidi come with us to Russia?

I’m a lovely work of art, right? Or is Jesus a lovely work of art?

Zoe en Voice

Desmond! Choose the right!

I got hurt on my blood.

Do you wuv me?

With a plastic playphone in hand Zoe says, “Hello my little grammy!”

We began potty training during the month of October and during one session in the bathroom she looks up at me and says, “I need privacy”. So I left. I’m so glad we don’t have to go out to the outhouse! People train their babies so early in RU/KZ, usually between 18mos-2yrsold!

One morning while Des was still sleeping, Zoe couldn’t resist his quiet little figure on the bed and she went to him, stood over him and then leaned down and said against his cheek, “Oh, Des! I wuv you so much!”

I went out one evening to get water from the well and as I returned I saw Zoe watching for me from the dom with her little face pressed against the window. Once inside she explained to me, “I look at the moon mom. I talk to the moon. I say, where is mymommy?”

Zoe had pulled a chair over to the fridge and was searching through all the pencils and crafty items we keep on the top. I asked her what she was doing and she replied, “I want smell the glue

Every morning Zoe is usually the first one awake and her first destination is my bedside. She’ll stand there and gently call to me until I wake then she crawls in beside me and we cuddle and giggle and, yes, she still nurses (morning&night). When she’s sufficiently satisfied with her fill-o-mommy-love, she’ll sit up with that rosy twinkle on her face and say happily, without fail, “How ‘bout we eat kasha and eggs? How about that?” It’s become such a signature saying that we each mimic her regularly.

I want sip of mayonnaise.

At the breakfast table Zoe sighed and asked, “Heidi sit by me one day?”

Zoe had her hands tangled up in my hair, “I play with yours hair – it’s toy

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Snap! Crackle! Pop!

Have you ever taken an 8+ hour daytime train ride with your babes? (Planes count) And after finally reaching your destination with one heavy bag strapped on your back and another in your hand take those steep, perilous steps down to the platform and then . . .


land oddly, twist your ankle and crash in a heap with a shriek? Did two people ever struggle to pick you up and nearly fall in the process?

Did you ever lean against the side of an old soviet train and shiver and quake and just want to cry&cry&cry&cry for your mother?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Getting ready for the big bad winter

As I’m writing this it’s currently about 60 degrees outside and has been comfortably around that number for over a week. Yippee! Nevertheless, we’re gearing up for a ferocious winter. Ferocious because we’ve never endured a winter in Kazakhstan and we expect it to be bad. Really bad. I mean, we’re about an hour away from Siberia!

A cozy hibernation requires lots of wood and coal. Our neighbors, the Salzberg brothers, are in the business of woodcutting. When Nathan finally caught them on a sober day they loaded up their big truck with logs and rumbled over to our side-gate and unloaded all of this . . .

There are two empty sheds near this pile so we decided to use one of them for wood storage. But first Mr. Jones has to chop all those logs up so that they’ll fit into our stove and he’s sure been busy with that axe! I have to say, I love watching him engaged in all this manual labor about as much as I like the vision of him pouring over books in a library. My new macho man has since decided we need another truck load of wood (he’s broken 2 axes already – Desi calls them ‘oxes’) but truly we really don’t know what we’re doing and expect to burn through a lot of wood. We’d like to feel we can liberally do so without fear of running out in the middle of a deep January freeze and then needing to chop another truck load and perhaps get frost bitten in the process . . . you get the idea.

It took a few more days, but Valya finally busted into our kitchen one morning and said it was time to go get the coal. An hour later Nate arrived with a driver and 7 tons of coal. They dumped it in one big black dusty heap and now hard-worker-Jones gets to shovel it all, bit by bit, into the other empty shed. It’s taking a long time.

Meanwhile after each session he comes in coated with coal dust. This is a big change for a guy who’s used to city life with thebabes and moonlighting libraries and classrooms! He has the marks to show it too. Our first lighting up of the stove was very exciting – Valya did the honors while we watched and took notes. It’s going to take some practice to get it as hot as he did. I may have the hydraulics a little skewed, but the way I see it is the heat rises to the attic where there is a tank of water which is heated and pumped via external pipes and radiators throughout the house. It works! I love that I can hang wet laundry on the pipes in the winter and have them dry there. All of our winter things and other miscellany arrived from Russia last month. We are not going back for that last hoped for month. We did end up getting our Russian visas (for 1month) but we are out of time.

Nathan Jones also fixed the old fashioned washing machine in the banya. One side is a spinner, which I was always able to use, but the other side it turned out only needed a little squirt of oil and now it’s rotating like new (it’s maybe a 50year old machine). I’m happy to have things simplified a little – though I still have to remove the clothes, ringing each of them in the process, and then rinse them manually and give them each another cursory ring, then place them in the spinner for a real professional job. They dry more quickly this way, of course. All this still takes about 3hours, non-stop action, but the weather’s been great and I’m still getting my kicks out of it. It’s nice to be so easily pleased.

Also, we decided to buy a used bike at the local rynick. It’s been a bit of a trial and we’re regretting it. My very first go at riding a bike again took me by surprise – it’s hard!! And it wasn't long before I fell and skinned my knee – tearing one of my 4 pairs of pants. Ugh! The fall messed up the right peddle too. And then the tires went flat. Nate was able to replace the peddle after a series of frustrating attempts and then the pump I bought turned out to be a real ‘light-weight” not doing the job properly. We borrowed Valya’s pump but after a week it went flat again! And again! I bought the bike to make life easier, I must say.

Lament over. Here are a few more pictures:

It’s BLAZIN’!!

A nice box of freshly chopped wood.

This is my borst cooking on the wood burning stovelove it!

Desmond P. Jones has his first chore: gathering kindling for the fire

I’m a hard working guy.

Zoe and I taking a moment to cuddle and kiss.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


There are certain hazzards
to opening a cereal box with ones teeth . . .

A loose TOOTH!

A few days later Desmond P. Jones had a transformed smile.

And a chain reaction – now the neighboring tooth is loose too!!

Whoops! There it went! Pretty fly for a toothless guy.

[If I hadn't seen cuteMargaret's recent pics on her first day of kindergarten, I think I would have been freaking out! DPJ turns 5 next month!]

Monday, October 13, 2008

Making lists, counting blessings

I'm a big listmaker – always loved dumping out what's in my brain on paper. All things become alive, validated by its visual nature. Sometimes I even find it hard to depart with my lists, esp. the grocery lists. I usually have several old ones hanging around the kitchen for quick reference.

I recently read a talk by Elder Maxwell that said this (thanks Miggy!):

Occasionally I see individuals who are meeting life's challenges reasonably well but who unfortunately fail to appreciate the general adequacy of their response. They let the seeming ordinariness of life dampen their spirits. Though actually coping and growing, some lack the quiet inner-soul satisfaction which can steady them. Instead they seem to experience a lingering sense that there is something more important they should be doing or that their chores are somehow not quite what was expected, as if what is quietly achieved in righteous individual living or in parenthood is not sufficiently spectacular.

Grounded, Rooted, Established, and Settled (Ephesians 3:17, 1 Peter 5:10)
(the link is in my sidebar, under the other inspirational talks i love list)

It hasn't always been easy to adjust to this simplicity around me; the shrinking of my social circle, the struggle with my emotions, the dearth of activities, my lonely mono-lingual universe, surrendering more of myself to my children . . . and over and above all, the steady feeling that I'm not appreciating this time enough – that there are hidden treasures here I still haven't brought into being, or that I'm deliberately snuffing, as Elder Maxwell put it for me, the "quiet inner-soul satisfaction which can steady [me]. "

While walking home one night from the library, I started making another list, simply called. . .

Things I like:

Old barns
Clothes on the line
Cows coming home
My daughter in black
My son’s conversation
Buying garden/farm fresh food
Children bestowing hugs
Banya night
Me with my glasses on
Church with myfamily in our home
The smell of wood/fire/burning
My laptop and internet (even though it’s dial-up!)
Working in tandem with Nathan
Quiet houses with gardens
The call to prayer
Flying kites
Cold ‘fizzy’ water
My children playing and sleeping
Haribo gummies
Contact with family and friends
Time to myself

[Note to Picasa album followers: I finally upload all 100+ photos from August – see link in sidebar)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Pardon Me Poetry: a personal reprise

Sharbakti Afternoon

We took our stroller
out onto the dusty streets
noses still crusty, paint stains
on his jeans. They are both
wearing their snowboots.

The playground is freshly painted
in primary colors.
The trees are losing their leaves
but the small sour apples
still cling.

The wind is trying to tell me
something – Oh! my daughter
needs to poop!
(potty training, 2nd week)
Too late for the
pink-starred panties.

I take her across the street
trying to obscure ourselves
behind a small facilities building.
It is quiet but for
the wind and my grumbling.