"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

Friday, January 28, 2011

New Beginnings

“Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past.  Behold, I will do something new.  Now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it?  I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:18-19

We have been back in the states from Russia for one week and three days.  Before we left, I thought that I was very prepared.  I have lived overseas, I have experienced culture shock and the awkwardness of standing out, and I thought that it would be very similar.  Once I got there, I realized that I had been ok because I had been clinging to a few things that were not necessarily going to be true in this place.  I did not realize just how isolated Novo is, when we lived overseas before we were a short plane ride or drive to some amazing locations.  Right now the nearest good airport is in Krasnodar, 2.5 hours away!  I also really thought that there would be some Americans there already, and right now there really aren’t.  Normally in overseas assignments there is a whole expat community that existed before you even arrived that you can ease right into, and we currently only have one couple there who were lovely enough to show us around on our trip.  There are virtually no expats there.  I can’t change how isolated it is, but thankfully there will be about 17 families coming at around the same time with my husband’s company so we should all be in the same boat in navigating the Russian culture.

Once those things that I had been clinging to were stripped away, I sort of freaked out a little bit, and Nick did a little bit too.  I started to think of all of the downsides to moving overseas like Isla doing a lot of growing so far away from her Grandparents, and wishing that I were going to be a Minivan Mama, dropping Isla off at Mommies Day Out, and doing all of those other delightful things that US Moms get to do! 

Thankfully Nick and I regrouped and remembered that we have felt God’s hand in all of this, and we know that he is the reason that we are going.  It was almost as if I could hear him saying to me “Stori, you have been clinging to all of these external things… now they are gone.  Will you cling to me instead?”  There is nothing like moving away from everything you know and completely stepping out of your comfort zone to make you completely depend on Him.

Nick has already located a Calvary Chapel located in Novo, which I am thrilled about.  The services will be in Russian of course, but that’s ok.  We are all members of the body of Christ!  I am praying that this will be our church home, and it kind of has to be because that’s pretty much all that is there.  It’s crazy how few churches there are in a town of over 250,000 people!  We probably have 10 times more here in little Madisonville.

Anyway, Nick and I are getting very excited about going and setting up house.  My Mother-In-Law is in, and she and I have been shopping up a storm, and I am not even close to being done!  We got to see our apartment and take pictures… it is wonderful, but it only has two closets, YIKES!  One of them is huge, but I have been racking my brain to come up will storage solutions.  Thankfully there is an IKEA 2.5 hours away in Krasnodar!

Here are some pictures of our apartment as it stands today, lol!  I know that it will be beautiful once it is completed. :)  At least we got to see the layout.

DSC_0035DSC_0021DSC_0029Here is some of the shopping we have been doing stateside, and we are not even close to being done!  I am a little bummed because we cannot ship food, and although the food there is great, there are certain things that we love to eat that we cannot get there.  I am getting pumped about coming up with some creative cooking solutions though!  

DSC_0056Finally here are some pictures from Russia.  We didn’t take too many pictures because we didn’t want to be those crazy foreigners taking pictures everywhere with our flash photography :).

Isla sleeping in the hotel in Moscow.  I’ve never seen a more tired baby.

DSC_0014 Best room service ever!  Except that my freshly squeezed orange juice was room temperature.  Fun Fact: Russians do not chill their beverages and ice is a rarity.  Another Fun Fact: Food at restaurants is served as it is prepared, so you better eat it as soon as it comes because it could be 45 minutes before the rest of your party gets their food!

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Isla in the fleece pajamas that I packed for Moscow! They were totally unnecessary.  Fun Fact: In Russia the buildings heating is turned on in the fall and not turned off again until the spring.  It is all centrally managed, and the only way to regulate the heat in your room is to open doors/windows.  Even our apartment will be heated this way!DSC_0019

  The death trap crib.DSC_0016DSC_0017Isla sleeping.  She’s already working on her Russian stoic face.  This picture cracks me up!

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We got many disapproving looks for not turning Isla into a star fish!  Fun Fact: Russians love babies, and they love to bundle them up so that they cannot move!  They even do this in Novo, which was not that cold, in my humble and afraid of cold weather opinion.

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Women’s toilet in the business class bathroom at the airport in Krasnodar.  Yes, I said business class. :)

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The Russian Hooters.  Nick made me take a picture.

photo (21) At the Chili’s in the Moscow airport on our way home.  I was ready for a little bit of Americana by then!  And really, really ready to get to Orlando.

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While we were there, we also found out that the visa process has changed.  That mean no 10 day is Moscow.  Boo.  BUT it means that we will be spending 3 weeks in Houston instead because we can get Nick’s working visa stateside. Yay!  I am excited to get some more time with friends and family before we leave for good.

All in all it was a really lovely trip, and the Russians that we encountered were lovely for the most part.  We are very excited, and we can’t wait to see what God is going to do there!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Things

Remember how Nick wouldn’t let me get Thing 1 and Thing 2 shirts the last time we were in Orlando?

168649_1807112620880_1331877289_1974635_8049788_n He wasn’t so lucky this time.  No way was I NOT going to get family shirts now that we have a little Thing 3! :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Orlando Magic

We are currently in Orlando and I have a lot of blogging to catch up on.  I had planned to take a mini-hiatus until we were home, but this thing cracked me up so I had to share!

Today Nick and I left Isla with my mom and dad since she was asleep while we went to ride Pirates of the Caribbean.  We could not have been gone longer than 15 minutes since there was no line, and when I came back, what do you that my mom had been doing?

You guessed it!  Posing Isla. Taking Pictures. In Disney World.

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This woman can’t be trusted. She never stops.

Stage Cookie Forever!

Smile

Friday, January 14, 2011

Greetings from Novo!

So, here we are in Novo. Nick and Isla are sleeping in the bed together. The first night we were here we stayed in Moscow in one of the nicest hotels I have ever been in, but in spite of that, the crib they gave us was a deathtrap (more pictures later), so Isla had to sleep with us. Now that we have a somewhat normal crib in Novo, she doesn't want to go back to sleeping on her own, and I feel bad because so much is crazy in her life right now, so it looks like she will be sleeping with us the next few days... Please Lord let this be an easy habit to break!

The past two days have been a little bit overwhelming, and there have been some low points, but I am going to try to stick the positives!
  • The Russians that we have encountered have been so sweet to us. We had been told that Russians don't smile and especially not at strangers, but everyone has been so nice and helpful. Isla helps with that, even airport security was cooing at her and making a fuss over her. Its obvious that Russians really value children.
  • The food has been amazing so far! We have been to three grocery stores and an outdoor market, and the food is so good and fresh. The cheeses are great!
  • A MacDonald's opened here about 3 weeks ago. I am no food snob, and I love some good American fast food in moderation. Although I'm told that it isn't quite like our American food, apparently they serve bree cheese!
  • *Update* I forgot to mention, the weather is nice. Its a little cold and a little rainy right now, but not too bad and was even sunny the first day we got here! So if this is how it is in January, then I am sure it is beautiful all year round. The Black Sea is the most popular summer vacation spot amongst Russians, and we are close to very nice beaches!

Uh oh, Isla is up so I gotta go! She is so precious and an endless source of fun!

My Gals and our Babes

I meant to post this back before Christmas, but I forgot!  I must get this up though.  Remember this picture and this post?

Week 32 Pregnant friends

And here we all are, literally almost one year to the day later!  Jessica is already pregnant with her second (YAY!), and Elysha and her husband are trying for number two, and I am absolutely NOT (in spite of the fact that I look pregnant), nor do I have any interest in another baby for a little while yet!  :)  Sorry the quality is so bad, this was when our Canon broke and we had to rely on Nick’s blackberry.

Best OneWhat a year it has been and in spite of moving across the world, I hope I get to see these girls who mean so much to me a lot in the coming years.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Short on Storage? I have the answer for you…

I just recently found the Space Bag at Bed, Bath and Beyond, and it is so amazing!  Seriously, please nobody post that they have been using it for years because then I will have to counter with… “Really?  Really? And you didn’t blog about it!  Why didn’t you share it with all of your blogging buddies? Wanted to keep this little gem all to yourself, huh? HUH? HUH?”  This is just begging for a little review!

For our pre-assignment trip we are allowed to bring items in our luggage and leave them there in our apartment.  We don’t know how long it will take for our air shipment to arrive once we move, so this is just to make sure that we don’t have to live in a hotel for a long time.  I am trying to pack like we are camping, so I am bringing bedding, towels, and a few other items.

So far I have packed two king sized pillows, king sized sheets, and also a king sized comforter, and towels.  I would not normally think that I could fit all of those into one suitcase, but thanks to the Space Bag it is a snap!

Here is a shot of a king sized pillow vacuum sealed next to a regular king sized pillow.  I would guess that it is less than half of the volume (maybe 35 to 40%).  I don’t even have a very good vacuum and I can’t help but think that a vacuum with decent suction could make it smaller.

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DSC_0898I decided to try to fold the TWO king sized pillows in half, and fit them into the same Space Bag above that is only holding ONE pillow, and sure enough it fit!

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Now I have plenty of room in my bag to bring along a lot of food items to leave as well; this is a huge help since we don’t be able to pack food in our air or sea shipment!  I have packed 2 king sized pillows, an entire king sized sheet set, a king sized comforter, 3 large towels and a few hand towels and wash clothes, 4 giant bags of chocolate chips – Nestle of course… you can see where my priorities lie, 2 giant bags of brown sugar, 2 big things of cocoa powder, 4 large jars of Jiff, and anything else I could fit into the crevices of a regular, large (but not oversized) suitcase!!!

I can’t wait to use it on all of the comforters that I have laying around that I want to keep because they sometimes come in handy but also want to get rid of because they take up so much room!

THANK YOU SPACE BAG!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

PawPaw’s House

My Dad recently pointed out that I have a tendency to say that I am at my Mom’s house when I visit my mom and dad in Houston.  Apparently, this really, really bothers my Dad.  I don’t know why I always do it since my parents have been happily married for over 35 years now, which is a fact that I am quite proud of!  So for the record, whenever I say that I am at Cookie’s house… I am also at Pawpaw’s house!

Also for the record, Isla just loves her Pawpaw!  He lets her get away with anything (a common theme amongst grandparents – yes that is his $500 iPhone 4 that she in chewing on)!

Isla and Pawpaw 5

Pawpaw can keep her entertained for hours (yes those are his nicotine tablets that he is giving her to use as a rattle)!

I&P6 In spite of his unconventional toy choices, Pawpaw is pretty great and we love going to visit him at his house!

Dad, you are awesome and we love you!

Monday, January 10, 2011

All’s Well and Away We Go!

So… sorry for the melodrama last night.  I was very worried, and when Isla didn’t respond to the rocephin shot on Saturday, I had a moment of panic where I thought “Oh my gosh, my baby has leukemia!”  I have known grown people who have had pneumonia, and responded well to a single shot.  This is going to sound so stupid, but they ran sooo many tests on Isla, and she was so miserable and I just kept thinking about all of those mothers whose children really do have serious illnesses, and how strong they have to be to watch their kids go through much, much worse.  Pray for those sweet mothers!

Isla’s fever broke last night, and this morning her white blood cell count was down to 9000, which is right smack dab in the middle or normal, which is exactly where I want it to be!  This might be TMI, but I should let you all know what is going on.  I have never blogged about this, but Isla had a fused labia at her 6 months appointment, which I treated with a cream, and thought we were done with.  Well her labia refused, and because of it she was not able to completely eliminate her bladder, which caused a minor urinary tract infection.  At this point, she is responding to the oral antibiotics, in addition to the two rocephin shots, so we have been cleared for travel!

See she is feeling much better!  Her Dad has been putting her on her rocking horse that used to be mine that her Cookie refinished just for her.  She LOVES it.  I would have thought she was way too young, but her Dad just popped her on one day and started rocking away.  That is what Dad’s are for after all… to push the envelope!  She has great balance on it.

DSC_0012 DSC_0009Nick called me after the appointment when he got back to work, and told me that we were all set to leave tomorrow morning at 8 AM for our big adventure.  We will return to the states on the 17th to Orlando until the 22nd.  This will mean that we lose two days in Orlando, which I am completely bummed about, but I have so much to be thankful for, that it is hard to stay down for long!

We have spent the evening packing up, and Nick has been coming up with creative ways to keep Isla warm in Moscow!

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DSC_0006DSC_0008Ummm… I’m not so sure that Isla is crazy about her Dad’s kangaroo solution!

Please say a prayer for us for safe travels, and I need to write Isla’s 9 month post since we will be traveling on her 9 month birthday… but I think I may postpone and just do it a couple of days late.  I am tired, and we have an early morning tomorrow!

Thank you so much again for all of your sweet words!

Stori

PS. I love my penpal :), everyone should have one!

PPS. I know I use a lot of exclamation marks… but I am going to continue to use them freely and without shame!!!!!!!!!! HA! :)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Trip Status: Delayed

We were supposed to leave today for our pre-assignment trip to Russia, but unfortunately my fears came true – Little Frances got sick!

We got home late Wednesday night, and Isla was very fussy and clingy all day Thursday.  I should have known something was wrong, but I just chalked it up to teething, she only has two and she’s overdue for a few more!

Friday morning she woke up and I knew she had a low grade fever, Nick didn’t think so, but I just knew… I spend all day holding her so I know what her usual body temperature is!  I couldn’t find my thermometer, but I called the Doctor and scheduled an appointment for later that day anyway.  I still thought that the fever was due to teething, but since we were two days away from a trip around the world I wanted to make sure it wasn’t something serious.

I took Isla to the Doctor and explained that we were leaving in a couple of days and they ran every test under the sun on her, they did a blood test, nasal and throat swabs, and a urine test, all of which really upset her but nothing telling showed up.  They also confirmed that her fever was low grade at 100.3.  The only thing that looked suspicious was her white blood cell count, which was about 19000 (normal range between 4000 to 15000).  To be on the safe side, they gave her a massive antibiotic shot.  The nurse said that it was a very painful shot, and it was.  Poor Isla screamed and then cried for a very long time, and I felt so bad!

My Pediatrician’s office is open on Saturdays (sick patients only) so we scheduled an appointment for yesterday morning just to confirm that the antibiotic worked and her white blood cell count was down.  I left the office very relieved though, since everything looked ok, and I figured the antibiotic would kick in and everything would be alright.  It wasn’t.

Friday night Isla woke up with a much higher fever than before (my guess, between 102 and 103).  When we took her to the Doctor, her blood test still showed a high white blood cell count, the antibiotic hadn’t helped even slightly.  So they gave Isla another giant, painful antibiotic shot in her other leg.  It was tragic.  She screamed and cried for a very long time… Isla got to the point where she cried even harder every time the nurse walked into the room!  She had the same nurse give her the shot and run the tests both days, and she knew that when that nurse came into the room it was bad news!  She stayed pretty upset for the rest of the visit, but I did manage to get her a little sucker on the way out.

photo (17)Her Doctor advised against us traveling, which we completely agreed with.  Her urine and throat swabs were sent off to a lab for further testing, and we are going in in the morning just to check on the results and test Isla’s white blood cell count one more time.

This weekend has been pretty low key.  Isla has been super sweet and cuddly, and we have been giving her Tylenol and Advil to keep her fever down, but its still pretty high, above 101 whenever we aren’t artificially lowering it.  We are scheduled to come into the Doctor first thing tomorrow morning.  Nick is coming too :).

DSC_0911As of right now, we are set to leave Tuesday for Russia, but we will just have to wait and see what happens tomorrow!  I just hope that Isla gets better and we can figure out what is making her white blood cell count so high.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mr. Awesome

Nick Wann is a man of many titles:

Blog reader not being one of them, so I don’t have to worry about him nixing this post… besides, its my blog, and I can post what I want!

Nick

  • Best Husband
  • Wonderful Father
  • Loving Son
  • Fightin’ Texas Aggie (A-WHOOP!)
  • Stanford Man
  • Solid Friend
  • Handy Manny

And now he can officially add Professional Engineer to those titles!  Or really I can… since he would die if he knew that I had called him any of those things in a public forum. HA!

Seriously, I am so proud of him – we just got the news this week!  Nick works so hard and he studied for months for the Professional Engineering exam.  I would also like to add that he passed in the Structural I category, which has the lowest pass rate of all other engineering disciplines.   Isla and I are blessed to have such a wonderful, kind, smart man in our lives. Smile

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year and Russia Update!

Happy New Year everyone!  I am renouncing goals for the year.  I think that is a wise choice considering how nebulous my near future is right now.  My only goal is going to be that I get our apartment in Russia unpacked within one month of receiving our shipment… I am notoriously bad about procrastinating setting up house after a move.  My stretch goal is to have curtains up by the end of the summer!  Did I say stretch goal?  Make that a miraculous event!  I probably should at least try to set up a goal around weight loss or something… the baby weight came off easy, but I am a stress eater for sure and between the move (hold on Nick, let me get a quick bowl of cookie dough to snack on before we discuss realtors) and the holidays, I have a few extras that need losing that I didn’t have in September.  I am trying so hard not to care about those things and set a good example for Isla’s sake, but old habits die very hard!

  • We are still at my mom’s house because we have our cultural orientation in Houston.  Nick and I will spend a day in his work office on Tuesday learning about Russia, and also meeting with an accountant to discuss how the new assignment will affect our taxes. 
  • We also got a call last week that somehow our blood had been lost after our physicals way back in November so we have to get our blood drawn the same day at the Houston office.  How do you lose someone’s blood and why did it take the powers that be 5 weeks to realize that they had lost our blood?  The annoying part is that we need our medical clearance to be able to list our house and get our visas so that has all been put on hold.
  • After that we head home for a couple of days (I miss my home), and then we leave on Sunday the 9th to go and see Novorossiysk!  We are going to overnight in Moscow on the way, which should be cool (literally – they are having record freezing temperatures.. in Moscow!).  We will get to see our apartment and someone will be taking us on a tour of the city, and show us restaurants and grocery stores.  We will hopefully get some idea of what’s available for packing our shipments.
  • Then we fly straight from Novo to Orlando for a fun week with my family!  I am so looking forward to a little bit of fun and relaxation… and also seeing the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!!!!!!!
  • Then its home for 3 weeks or so to pack up, and then we head to Novo for good… fun but scary!

It is a busy, stressful, scary time.  We have spent a good chunk of the last week saying good bye to friends and family that we won’t see before the final move, and that has been very hard.  I know that this is going to be a wonderful thing, but right now we are kind of in a valley.  I do feel like things could be much crazier and hectic than they have been, and I have only God’s grace to thank for that.  I have felt his covering throughout all of this, and I know that He has worked out all of the details!

Also we have decided to take Isla with us on our pre-assignment trip.  Especially with us still nursing, she just felt too little to leave, and Nick’s boss was insistent that I go an see where we will be living, so we can’t stay and just let Nick go.  Everyone around us is sick or getting sick or getting over an illness, so I would really appreciate and covet prayers for our family, and especially Isla’s health at this time.  We need her healthy before we take on her on a 6 day trek half way around the world!

Pure and Undefiled Religion

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