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

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Random Thursday

Is it the end of the day Thursday already?  Well in Russia it is I mean… for most of the people who read this blog in the states, it is still only mid morning.  Get jealous people… I am 9 hours closer to Friday than all of you!

I mentioned on Saturday that we went to lunch with most of the people here from Nick’s company.  Did I mention this?228720_10150167809223380_636798379_7007884_5914593_nThat’s what happens when Mommy delegates dressing Isla to Daddy! :)  And that’s also what happens when Isla has a Mommy too absentminded to notice that her dress is on backwards until someone at the restaurant points it out! 

In all fairness to Nick, he is so hands on that when he is home, he dresses her 90% of the time, and has seldom made any mistakes.  He also bathes her 100% of the time, and feeds her 50% of the time!  He is such a huge help; I am especially appreciative and thankful for him when he travels, like right now.  Thank goodness he is coming home on Saturday!  I love Isla and I cherish almost every minute with her, but right now I am so glad to see her go to bed… of course then I feel guilty once she’s in bed because I know that 30 years from now I will wish that I had a little chunky, monkey following me around and crying when I leave the room!  But definitely, she wears me out by the end of the day.

Also in other Isla related news, I am no longer dressing her in anything but a diaper when at home until either she starts walking or we get carpets!  Whenever I put clothes on her, she slides all over the slick floor in them, and that is actually pretty cute, but she also slips and slides when she doesn’t want to.  Today she slipped and fell right into the corner of our bed frame, and thank goodness the comforter was covering it, but as it is, she still got a bruise right under her beautiful little eye.  It made me sick to my stomach.

Monday Nick goes back to Moscow for two weeks… but Isla and I are going with him!  We will return a little early with my Mom the following Tuesday.  Yay!

Also, here is a picture of my new nephew, Finley – Finn for short!  Less than 3 months away, and I can hardly wait!!!  I hope I don’t have to wait until Christmas to see him.

226232_10150172788485798_840870797_6688151_62317_sI swiped this picture off of Facebook, and that’s the best I can get it.  Its almost better smaller though, I didn’t realize that it was a close up of his sweet little face until I saw it small like this.

We finally got our real car and driver today.  The car is a silver Mitsubishi Pajero, and our driver is named Andre.  I think he will be good.  He’s nice so far, and he followed me into the store and helped me with the cashier and also getting my produce labeled.  It was a little weird having someone follow me around, and I was so embarrassed when I inevitably remembered something I needed and had to go return to a part of the store that I had already been to!  I am kind of spastic when I shop, and aimlessly wonder around, so I wonder what he must think of me or if that gets on his nerves.

Alright… there is a box of Guylian chocolate sea shells calling my name.  I think that I will watch a little TV and then turn in early.  My brain is too tired even for Playstation!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lady of Leisure

Today I am footloose and fancy free!  I finished all of the work that I had to do, and I cannot proceed without further instruction from my bosses.  Nick is leaving for Moscow tonight so after he leaves and Isla is asleep, I am going to indulge in some PS3 time… Final Fantasy XIII is calling my name!

I supposed I could clean… and my apartment needs it BADLY, but I need a little quiet time tonight.  I am seriously beginning to understand the meaning of the phrase “A woman’s work is never done”.  I don’t know where it originated, but it is true!  In the states, there was always take out or fast food to help alleviate just a smidge of that work, plus I had my housekeeper for the last eight months we were there.  Here, I don’t have any of that!  I could get a housekeeper, and a part of me wants to just so that I can have someone in my house to practice my Russian on, but I need to start saving my money again.  We have been bad during this move, but thankfully we shouldn’t need to update any of our electronics for several years so that is one small blessing.

I was really missing home yesterday, but I am still loving Russia.  You can feel both ways at once!  God has spoiled us with this move, really.  He has provided for us with abundance every single step of the way.  We do not deserve it, but every time we think of Russia we will remember that God is also the giver of good gifts.

Also… my mom comes in less than TWO weeks!  YAY.  And we get to fly the Moscow to Krasnodar leg of the trip with her.  Pretty awesome, huh?

Blessings,
Stori

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Things I am missing about Houston today…

  • My preggo sister, who just turned 33 23 yesterday!
  • Torrential Spring/Summer downpours that makes the whole city feel like a rain forest.
  • Sweltering heat.
  • Pine trees.
  • Malls with stores I recognize.
  • Ceramic tile.
  • Ridiculously large houses on teensy weensy lots (less time in the sun!).
  • Brown lakes.  Brown rivers.  (Who needs blue water???)
  • Dust.
  • Traffic congestion on the loop.
  • Gallery Furniture commercials.

Sigh.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Resurrection Day!

Sometimes I call it Victory Day!  I guess Isla thinks so too.

IMG_0209I love Easter.  It is a day for the greatest rejoicing.  Without Easter, we would have nothing but a dead prophet, a dead messiah, a dead God, a dead religion… just like all the others.  But Christ proclaimed victory, even over death, and so we worship a LIVING God!  That is so powerful.

O death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?
O church, come stand in the light
Our God is not dead
He's alive! He's alive!

We are going to church and I am making oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for our Easter feast!  I brought two giant bags of brown sugar and 4 giant bags of chocolate chips that I have barely tapped into because I am rationing them.  I did have to make a batch to break in our oven the second day we moved in!  I took pictures, but then they got erased. :(  Moving to Russia has effectively broken me of my cookie dough habit, but I am excited to have an excuse to make some.  I am going to make two batches so that I’ll have as much to eat as I want :), and still have enough left over for everyone else.

Yesterday we went for a nice long lunch with everyone from Nick’s company.  We ate at a very nice restaurant about 30 minutes away with an amazing view of the Black Sea.  It was so cool.  I am so appreciative of my friend Jen, who sent me these from her camera.  I cannot wait until my mom gets in or our sea shipment gets in (whichever comes first) so that I can get my camera charger!  I am dying to take more pictures of Isla and Novo. 

Isla just got passed from person to person and had a blast! I am so thankful that everyone seems to enjoy her so much, and she loves people.  I would call her “Bubbles on Champagne” if that nickname weren’t already taken.  She loves to have a good time, and she is so outgoing and smiley!  She really does have a very sweet personality, and she tries to be obedient.  But at the same time, she is not a push over and has very definite opinions!  She is a joy to parent, and I am so thankful that God has chosen me to shepherd her through onto adulthood.

IMG_0190

My mom’s and my tickets to St. Pete have been booked (5/21 through 5/26)!  Now I just need to get busy picking out hotels and figuring out what we are going to do while we are there.  Nick is going to be in Dubai staying at the Ritz, so we will miss him, but I am sure he will be having a good time on his own!  We couldn’t go with him because my mom’s visa to Russia is only a single entry one, and I didn’t want her to leave early.  I want her to stay as long as possible!  BTW, getting a visa to Russia is ridiculous IMO.  It costs almost $300 and takes several weeks!

If anyone knows anything at all about St. Petersburg and what to see and do, feel free to leave your comments!  I need to get busy researching.

God Bless,

Stori

Friday, April 22, 2011

Same Ole, Same Ole

So, my life in Russia is shaping up to be pretty much like my life in the States!  I thought that time would move slower here, and that I would have all of this free time on my hands, but so far, that is not the case!  I cannot believe that it is already Friday, where has my week gone?

Earlier in the week, my mantra was to be flexible because you know what a stickler for naps I am with Isla.  Now, I can see that it is going to be a real challenge balancing the rest her growing body needs with connecting with people on their time (not my time!).  I have been a little too flexible and this morning, she was just exhausted, and when she gets tired, she gets uncoordinated.  She lost her balance and fell and hit the coffee table, and had a bloody lip/gum.  Thankfully she was fine, and it wasn’t much blood, but I know that it had a lot to do with being so tired.

Sunday we went to church as usual, and I was so touched because Isla’s adopted Babushka, Natasha, had knitted her a pair of booties.  Then someone else from the church remembered that it was her birthday and brought her a cake!  It was so cute to see all of the little kids SCREAM, and I mean SCREAM for JOY when they saw it.  It was so precious, and everyone sang her Happy Birthday.  We have been so blessed to find our church, and knowing that God prepared a place for us before we even arrived.  As a side note, Isla has started SCREAMING for JOY whenever she hears sounds that might be her Daddy coming home.  She is such a Daddy’s girl!

Monday is usually a day that I try to keep low key, so that we can rest up from the weekend.  We had friends for dinner and I made Gumbo because ****WE FOUND CRAWFISH TAILS IN RUSSIA****!!! The Gumbo was terrible because I had never made it before but when you find crawfish tails in unexpected places… you make Gumbo.  Next on my list, etouffee!

Tuesday was a very full day because we had a luncheon for some very BIG big wigs that flew in from Nick’s company.  I got to sit right next to the guy who is next in line to the CEO of Nick’s company (lucky me!).  Not awkward at all.  I didn’t know how important he was was or else I would have been more charming… :).  Just kidding, I would have been the same.  Thankfully Nick doesn’t care who I impress or don’t impress and is proud of me no matter what!  I feel the same way about him.

Wednesday I met my friend for a play date!  That was just plain old AWESOME. She has a little girl who is only 6 month older than Isla and I can’t wait to get together again.  Wednesday night we had our pastor and his wife over for dinner, and we had a great time!  I hope that we become good friends.

Thursday I went with friends to the market and shopping.

Today I am going shopping with a friend again, and tonight I think that I am going to a Women’s Bible Study, but I don’t know yet.

Tomorrow we go to an Easter Festival though our church!  I am very excited about that!

Now factor in a little crawling devil angel named Isla, a deadline that I have for the work that I do on the side, cleaning, and shopping/cooking that I have to do much more than I did in the states and that takes much more time… and you have a very full week!  Plus naps.  On top of that… I have a little prayer request.  I have been feeling very fatigued (I am NOT pregnant), and I don’t know why.  We are going to Moscow next week for Isla’s 1 year check up, and I might try to get in a see a Doctor at the clinic there.

And I still have to plan several trips that we have coming up… the most important trip?  When my Mom comes in a couple of weeks!  We have decided to visit St. Petersburg instead of Vienna, and I need to start planning, for real.

We have also been getting a lot of calls on our Vonage phone!  I’m so sorry if I haven’t called you, but so far its a LIFO system.  Last night for example, I talked to my MIL who has been trying to get in touch with me, and my favorite cousin Hunter called me out of the blue and we talked for a long time!  I will get to calling people SOON, I promise.

So life in Russia is pretty much like life in the US!  Except I don’t speak the language… egad, I need to start fitting in Russian language lessons soon.

I need a nap!

Ohhh!!!  But update on the vanilla farm.  Its has become my therapy.  Some garden.  Others make vanilla!  I have about 7 bottles going and I love to look at them and smell them and swirl them around.  Every,time I go to the store I look for an interesting bottle of cheap bottle to make a new bottle of vanilla, and then when I get stressed out, I go and cut up the vanilla beans and stick them in.  I don’t know why I find it so relaxing.

Now its off to get my girl!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Isla Frances is 1 Year Old!!!

Whoa little Frances… are you trying to give me a heart attack!? I simply cannot believe that Isla is a year old.  CRAZY. 

**********Update***********

I forgot to mention that her fourth tooth came in the day before her birthday on April 14th!  She did not fuss, cry, act cranky or give any indication that she had a tooth coming in :).  I only know because I had been checking her gums incessantly, and I saw it poking through.

Also, we are still nursing and have not started weaning yet; she has yet to try cow’s milk.  I may be softening on my 18 month stance, and am thinking I might nurse to to to 2 years.  We’ll see.  Its so easy, especially with traveling, and easy toddler food not being readily available. 

I am very thankful that I have been able to reach my breastfeeding goal of 1 year.  I never set out to be strictly “no formula”.  I had a “no formula” goal of 6 months, and then formula to supplement if needed after that, but it just got so easy after about 3 months.  I think formula is easier when they are little because you worry so much about how much they are eating, latch, ect… breastfeeding is plain old HARD and nerve-wracking in the beginning, but then the longer you breastfeed the easier it gets!  They get so fast, and you know they are getting a lot of food from other sources so you don’t worry about hunger.  Plus you don’t have to lug formula around everywhere you go!  I can’t believe that I have nursed this long, and I am thankful to be able to continue as long as Isla and/or I want to.  She may wean herself before I am ready… who knows?

**********************************************

 

I know I say this every time, but this time I REALLY mean it!  I don’t want her to get bigger, I love this age (as I have loved them all).  Its intoxicating being everything to such an adorable little person.  She loves me so much and looks to me to meet all of her needs.  I know that she will grow up, and I want her to grow up and be strong and independent from me, but right now, it is so sweet to be her mom and see her face light up when she sees me.  I have been going through old photos and boohooing, surprise, surprise…

I had Nick try to get pictures today of her in her Aggie bow, and we couldn’t really get any good ones.  However, it is a good comparison to how much she has grown!  I am also finishing her 11 month post and back dating it, just to have it on record.

This is really the bow that started my bow obsession!  I had been reading Kelly’s Korner Blog for a while, and I never really understood why she was so into bows.  Then I visited College Station when I was pregnant with Isla and I found this little bow, just in case Isla was a girl… and she was!  Then after she was born, she just looked so cute in her bow, and I got another little pink one, and we wore that one out.  Then I discovered "Wee Ones” headbands where you can change out the bows and the rest was history!  The truth it, newborns are so androgynous that is nice to have an easy way to differentiate girls from boys… not to mention bows are just so cute!!!Aggie IslaIts hard to believe that such a little pipsqueak is now the beautiful baby that you see before you!  Ok, maybe it isn’t.  I don’t know.  I am speaking gibberish these past couple of days.

P1050866Isla is now signing so well!!! She can sign “no”, “please”, “thank you”, “more”, “potty”, and “milk”.  She understands and can kind of sign “water”, and “finished”.  We are also working on “sleep”, “bed”, “bath".  For some reason she has been getting “finished” mixed up with “more”, although she was doing it very well before.

I think its so cool that my 1 year old says “please” anytime she wants something!  Who would have ever thought that you could teach such a young child manners? Oh yes, the authors of Baby Wise :), that’s who!

P1050867 Also, the fact that she can communicate means that she is much less whiny and fussy.  During her 10-11 month, she went through a phase where she would point and grunt and whine when she wanted something.  I redoubled my efforts to teach her “please”, and now she never does that.  I mean sometimes she fusses a little bit when she gets told “no”, but she knows I understand her when she wants something because she can let me know she wants something with “please”, so there is no frustration from not being able to communicate.

P1050869 She is obsessed with phones, remotes, my laptop… anything electronic.  I had decided to just let her play with phones because she was so tenacious, and also other people let her play with their phones, so it was hard to be consistent.  I thought it was harmless… That was before she started throwing a tantrum when I needed to take the phone away from her to use it, and I couldn’t talk without her following me all over the house crying!  Nick and I are having to retrain her that all of the above items are off limits and she is doing so well.  Now she will try to touch them, and will look at me and sign “no.”  Its hilarious!  Or she will stop when I say “no.” 

She tries very hard to be obedient, but sometimes I think she has decided that a spanking is worth it to get her hands on contraband items.  There is one phone that we consistently have a problem with, but thankfully its our Russian home phone so we almost never get calls on that one.

P1050870She has only just started walking when we hold her hands this past week!  She has been pulling up since November and crawling since October, but up until then, she would only put allll of her weight in her booty when you tried to walk her holding her hands.  I am not making any predictions on when she starts walking!  She will do that in her own time; I just can’t believe it took her so long to get to this point!

P1050871 She still pulls off her bows. :(

P1050872She is a fantastic eater and will eat anything put in front of her.  I attribute that to Baby Wise first, and making her baby food myself second (I don’t feed her anything I wouldn’t eat).  I know everyone thinks Baby Wise is just about sleep training, but it is also about regulating digestion (which helps with sleep training) and making sure that your infant gets a full meal whenever they eat.  I need to get back to being creative with my meals to keep my good little eater!

P1050873She has started saying “Bye Bye” whenever we leave her for her naps and bedtime; its so cute!

She is also saying “Hi” now, and frequently says “Hi! Hi! Hi!” to get my attention.

She is saying Mama, Dada, pa (for potty, Paw Paw), Boo, bo (for book), ha (for hot), Bye Bye, and Hi!

P1050874She still sleeps 11 to 12 hours a night, and 1.5 to 2 hours twice a day!  Once again, I love Baby Wise :).

P1050875

She is crazy about Nick!  I think that they have a special connection because I don’t think its normal for a baby this young to be so into their Dads.  Every time I walk over to the front door, Isla goes “Dada”!  She will chase after him saying “Dada” very urgently so that he will pick her up.  They play together and have a blast.  I can tell that she absolutely adores him!

And now potty training! I was surprised at the interest shown when I mentioned it so let me give a little bit more background.  I actually got the idea from “The Baby Whisperer” books, and I think what sold me on the idea was a statistic from the 1950’s.  In the 1950’s 90% of children were potty trained by 18 months, nowadays, its a mere 25%.  There are probably a lot of reasons for this, but I would guess that a lot of it has to do with more moms working.  Well I don’t have that excuse!  I am home all day with nothing to do.  Anyway, she recommends starting as soon as a baby can sit upright or at about 9 months.  The Baby Whisperer gave me confidence that it is not from lack of a child’s ability to be potty trained earlier, its just that parents don’t potty train earlier.  If I were a baby :), I would want to be potty trained as soon as possible so I didn’t have to sit in my own poop ever!  She says that most of her babies are daytime potty trained by 1 year if started at 9 months.  I also have a friend that started potty training her little girl at 1 year, and that gave me confidence too. 

I know that the longer you wait, you can potty train much faster.  With this way, it takes much longer to potty train, but you are done earlier.  Its a sprint versus marathon mentality!

This is what we do:
I take Isla to the potty several times a day, usually after she gets up, and then again after she eats, and any other occasion that I have her diaper off.  I tell her its time to go to the potty; this is very much parent directed.  Nick has been 100% on board, and takes the initiative more than I do!

This is a no pressure situation, and right now we are just familiarizing her with the potty.  She sits on the big potty in a little insert and is quite happy!  We play with her and her toys, and when she wants off, we pick her up.  I have been preparing her for a while, and whenever I can tell she is going to the bathroom (all mommies know the poop face), I have been signing “potty”, and whenever else I find it appropriate so that she can make a connection.

She has gone #1 once and #2 once in the potty.  We made a big deal about it, and let her flush the toilet and say “bye bye” to her you know what.

And we are just going to keep doing that until a light bulb goes off, and she figures it out.  I should probably look up more tips and techniques because right now we are winging it, but I am happy with our methods.  One thing I did backtrack on was using pull ups.  We are going to switch to pull ups when we get closer to our sea shipment arriving.  I don’t want to run out of the ones that I have, and then have to switch back to diapers for a while.

I am not worrying about nighttime potty training right now.

Conclusion

This is been my best year!!! I can honestly say that I felt high as a kite for the first 3 or 4 months after she was born.  I came back to earth a little bit more after that, but this has been the best year of my life.  Nick and I adore Isla with everything in us, and she has made our marriage so much better.  I can’t believe I was ever worried!

I praise God for the blessing of my little Isla!  I couldn’t imagine my life without her.

Our Apartment With Air Shipment

Ok, so I may have taken too many pictures!  Excuse me if its too much detail… I know our parents will appreciate these.  We keep playing around with the layouts, especially Isla’s room and the living room. 

From what I can tell, everything is from IKEA.  Ok by me, I am becoming very fond of IKEA!  I am not a trendy, stylish person by anyone’s standards, so its kind of fun having such a stylish apartment!

Standing in the entryway to our dining room, kitchen on the right, living room on the left.  I’m sorry about the exposure, some of these turned out a little goofy.  Those roses are Isla’s, a present from Jenny for her birthday!  Hrmmm… looking at the table like this makes me want to move it a little to the right.  I was hoping to maybe be a buffet or something, but I will just have to see how much it costs.P1050841Our kitchen with balcony to the left!!!  I bought the island at IKEA in the states and sent in our air shipment.  I am going to get bar stools for extra seating!  Only other addition is the water dispenser… an awesome investment!  I don’t know how I have lived this long without one.P1050843Living room!  We have arranged and rearranged this room, but Nick and I like this way because it feels the most conversational :).  I definitely want to get a few more bookshelves from a IKEA.P1050845Just kind of a random observation… I wanted to move the sofa cushions, but they are zipped to the couch.  Weird, huh?P1050846The view from the dining room, into our entry way to the left, and bedrooms, closets and bathrooms on the right.  I guess this is a second entryway, I call it the foyer, but we are using it as an office right now.  I actually love having the desk in this location because Isla can be playing either in the living room or in her bedroom, and I can hear her or get to her fast while I am working.P1050849 Entryway with three closets.P1050850 View from the entryway, onto the desk and dining area.P1050851View from Isla’s room.  The first door you see is to the half bath, and the second door is to the closet.  That is where Isla is sleeping right now because its the only room dark enough.  I didn’t both to get new photos of the bathrooms because they look the same as the other pictures I took and there were dirty clothes on the floor in one (master) and Isla’s potty training stuff in the other (half).  I am going to put the bookshelf that is currently in Isla’s room along this wall at a later date.P1050852Check out the doors to our rooms… pretty cool, huh?  WRONG.  They are the bane of my existence.  Assuming that we ever get Isla’s windows covered up enough, we still have to deal with all of the light that comes into her room through these all the way from the living room!  Her room is so bright.P1050848Isla’s room, curtains opened and closed.  With curtains closed the room gets bright gold. P1050854Isla’s room, curtains opened.  I just rearranged this furniture once again last night.  I don’t like it, but it gives the most room for her to run around.  I will get it figured out once the rest of her stuff gets here.  The apartment happened to come with the exact same bookcase that I bought for her room, except in black/brown.  I am going to move it into the office/foyer area when the white one comes in.  We are using a suitcase as a toy box right now.P1050856View from the window.  Emily’s quilt came in our suitcase because I didn’t want it to get ruined or stolen… but I was afraid to leave in the hotel room because then I though it might get stolen there!  I am so glad to have it.  It makes the room so cozy.P1050857Our bedroom.  There is a balcony to the left.  Its pretty good sized, but I didn’t get a picture of it.  Its filled with boxes that we are slowly getting rid of. P1050859It came with the TV in our room.  We will never use it.  I have a strict no TV in the bedroom rule!  Ugh.  I shudder just thinking about it.  Other than that, I love the room.  Even the curtains that came with the room work well with the rest of the bedding we have coming.P1050860We have more pillows and our duvet from the states coming later.  The accent wall paper should work well with the duvet that we already have.P1050862 That is it folks!  I hope you enjoyed our Russian home tour!!!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Second First Birthday

I don’t know why, but at the last minute, I decided to throw together a little birthday party for Isla on her actual birthday!  I had originally planned to just have it for Nick and I, but then I realized that that would just make me very sad.  So I decided to invite all of the people who are already here with Nick’s company.  We have all been slowly getting here over the past month or so, except for one couple, Rena and Dave, who have lived here 9 years.  There are still a few more families that we are waiting on.

The day of her actual birthday as luck would have it, I got one of the worst migraines that I have had in a long time.  It was bad, but I was determined to go through with the party.  Nick was wonderful as always, and took over picking up the cakes (mille-feuille and marquise, yum yum) that I had ordered earlier in the week as well as some balloons (that somehow managed to escape from him as he was getting out of the car, ha!) and a few other things.  My friend Jenny watched Isla for me for a little while, and then Rena and Annie (our babysitter) came and helped with Isla and food preparation.  Rena brought me this amazing OTC medication from the UK called Migraleve Pink (it has codeine), which I took about an hour before the party.  I took the the Migraleve and laid down for about an hour, and when I got up, I felt great!  I don’t get migraines that much since I quit working, but I can’t really implement my usual method of coping since I have a baby now.  I need to figure out something.  This one was bad, and the symptoms continued after the medication wore off and lasted until just a few hours ago.

The best part of the day was all of the phone calls that we received from friends and family!  Thank you thank you thank you all!!! :)

The party was simple, just pizza (our driver had a “guy” – its so crazy having a driver, but they know how to get things done and are so helpful in a town where you don’t know the language!), cokes, and two delicious cakes.  I think everyone had a good time, even though it was extremely low-key.  We are all still getting to know one another, and I am hopeful that we will all become good friends.

These are the best pictures that I got of the crowd, boo!  I am so mad that I didn’t think to take more pictures of everyone who attended.  Understandably, my focus was mainly on Isla.

Bad Everyone 2 Everyone Bad

This is my friend Monica!  She broke a bone in her foot, and has been traveling to Moscow and the UK to get it taken care of, and just got back here last week.  I was so glad that she could come, and I am sure she was happy since she has been cooped up in her apartment for the past week.  We keep thanking her for testing out the medical processes here! :)

Monica and Paul

This is the Salas family!  Jenny is very sweet and we have gone shopping a few times this week.  Her little boy Matthew is just a doll, and keeps bugging Jenny to let him come over and play with Isla. :)  He tried to hold her hand in the car the other day and it was the cutest thing.

Sala Family

Isla and her other play pal… Miss Macy :).  We are working on the puppy sign.

Isla and MacyAnd now to the birthday girl!  She was good as gold, of course.  She seemed a little confused at first when everyone started singing Happy Birthday to her, but of course she quickly realized that all eyes and attention were on her and she LOVED it.  She is such a little people person and is at her best when she has an audience.

Yay, at least these balloons didn’t escape!!!BIRTHDAY GIRL

What’s this? candle 4

For me?candle 3

Why are all these people singing to me?candle 2

I like all this attention!candle 1   

Matthew helped her blow out her candle.  Of course I let her dig in a get dirty.  She really enjoyed her cake!

Yum YumYummy CakeYYYYum Cake

We had a quick wardrobe change and before we got to presents.  Here is Isla with Dave.  She loves Dave and loves to play with him!  I think he’s fond of her too. :)

Dave and IslaHi Matthew!  Check out my super cool ball. (Please excuse the way I look… with the migraine I was just happy to be at the party!)Isla and Matthew  Wrapping paper!  My favorite.Opening Presents Thanks Rena!Presents  Isn’t my Wheelie Bug cool???Wheelie Bug 1 Wheelie Bug 2I am so thankful for all of the people who attended my little party!  It really meant a lot to me that everyone who was invited came, and I hope that everyone had a good time.

Now, tomorrow I am going to post Isla’s one year post with a picture of her in her Texas A&M bow!  And since I am borrowing my friend’s camera, pictures of the apartment.

Love,
Stori

Monday, April 11, 2011

Looking Forward to Tomorrow…

But first, today!  Today I got a little test on what I have been reminded of constantly about grocery shopping when you live in Russia… to be flexible!  And also to plan on things taking much longer than you thought.  I am making dinner for a friend tonight, and I have only three confirmed dishes so far that I can make in Russia with what I regularly find in the stores and with what cooking apparatus I have on hand.

So I set out today to go to a grocery store called Perry Kristock (sp?) that I visited on our pre-assignment trip, but I haven’t been to since we moved here.  I thought it would be so quick, in and out, and home to put Isla to bed!  Its a nice store, but unfortunately on arrival, I found that the shopping carts did not have a place for Isla to sit.  I tried putting her in the big basket, but after about five minutes of her ripping into packages, trying to throw things out of the cart, and standing up and trying to crawl out… I realized that this was not going to work!

Meanwhile it was naptime, which means fussy girl, which always puts a time limit on errand running!  So I told my driver to head on over to Tabris, the very nice store right next to our apartment where I knew I could get everything I needed.  FALSE.  I could not get everything I needed!  They were out of bell peppers, which up to now I have found everywhere.  Thankfully today I have a driver who speaks English, and he directed me to a little outdoor minimarket not too far from Tabris, where I was able to locate bell peppers.  But then I realized that I had forgotten Pampers, much needed because Isla was wearing her very last diaper!  So it was back to Tabris where I ran inside quickly and picked up her diapers.

Thankfully upon arriving at home, Isla was more than ready to go down for her nap an hour late, and I am able to get to cooking for my friend!!!

And tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow morning, our air shipment arrives at 10 AM!  Whoopee! And I will have the pleasure of all of the following items:

1. Ikea Kitchen Island (2 boxes)

2. Play Pen (2 boxes)

3. Diapers (1 box)

4. Pullups (1 box)

5. Child potty

6. 4 bowls

7. 4 small plates

8. 4 large plates

9. Transformer

10. Kitchen aid chopper

11. Kitchen aid hand mixer

12. 22 Baby/Childrens books

13. Activity Walker (children’s toy)

16. 1 box band aids

17. 1 box Airborne

18. Playstation 3

19. 1 package razor blades

20. 1 package Dove soap

21. 2 packages aluminum foil

22. 1 package plastic wrap

23. 1 memory foam pad

24. 4 plug adapters

25. 1 box baby wipes

26. 1 box dish washing detergent

27. 1 puzzle

28. 1 box sandwich bags

29. 1 cutting board

30. 2 Calphalon pots with glass lids

31. 1 cheese slicer

32. 1 spatula

33. 1 set of measuring spoons

34. 1 set of measuring cups

35. 1 lunch box

36. 1 colander

37. 1 mixing bowl

38. 1 pair baby shoes

39. 14 baby spoons

40. 4 sippy cups

41. 8 toddler spoons

42. 1 snack bowl

43. 1 box dryer sheets

44. 1 aluminum pan with cover

45. 1 full set of silverware (12 knives, 24 forks, 24 spoons, serving pieces)

46. 2 high chair toys

47. 1 package toilet paper

48. 2 baby books

49. 1 shoe care kit

50. 3 packages of Children’s flash cards

51. 1 baby beach ball

52. 2 white bath mats, small

53. 1 large brown bath mat

54. 2 pairs of slippers

55. 1 pair of tennis shoes

56. 34 baby outfits

57. 3 pairs men’s blue jeans

58. 10 men’s shirts

59. 5 men’s slacks

60. 1 jacket

61. Child’s activity table

***Items 14 and 15 removed for good reason. :)

And then the day after tomorrow??? We start POTTY TRAINING!  Whoopee.  Only 3 months late, but like I said before, I am giving myself a pass on some things.  We will be one step closer to no more diapers.  I simply cannot wait!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday Funday

Hello Hello Hello!

Today was a good day.  We slept in (45 minutes worth!) thanks to our precious girly.  We bummed around and then went to church.  I am so thankful for our church and for Ilya and Ira Gromov, the pastor and his wife.  They have been so welcoming, and I am surprised at the number of people who speak English!  I feel so humbled that they would speak my language with me, when I am the one who should be speaking to them in Russian.

One of the Babushkas has adopted Isla.  Her name is Natasha and every time she sees Isla, she runs over and grabs her.  When Isla starts to reach to for me, Natasha turns around and runs off with her.  She keeps telling me that Isla is too small and that I need to feed her more!  Little does she know that Isla doesn’t STOP eating all day long and it finally gets to a point where I have to cut her off or else she will never do anything but sit in her chair and eat.  Today Natasha whisked Isla away and when she reappeared Isla had two cookies, one for each hand, which she was happily gnawing away on.  After the service, she got another cookie… um, sugar high much?  Natasha has also asked me a few times if she can borrow Isla for a couple of days!  Very sweet, but no, and I am thankful that I am nursing still so I can give her that as an excuse.

After the service we went home and Isla was miserable!  Poor thing.  Not only had she digested way too much sugar, but our church falls right during her afternoon nap so she missed it, but of course refused a later nap.  I went and took a catnap and left Nick to deal play with Isla.  She was so fussy!  After I got up, we fed her some butternut squash to get some healthy food into her, and Nick and I put her in her stroller and we went for a family walk around the city.  We made a stop at Baskin Robbins, and finally the supermarket, and when we got home, we realized that we had been out for almost 3 hours!  I love living in a city.

My friend Virginia graciously let me borrow her iPhone charger (yet another charger that was misplaced in the move) so I was able to get it out and take a few pictures of my big girl!  Nick’s blackberry has not been working right, so right now this is our only means of taking photos! Please excuse the clothes I was folding in the background.  Hopefully this week I can borrow the charger again to take pictures of our apartment.

4-10-2011 002 4-10-2011 003 4-10-2011 004 4-10-2011 005 One big prayer request that I have.  I was speaking with Ira (the pastor’s wife), and she told me that that the church used to do work with an orphanage around here, but that about 1 1/2 years ago, the orphanage got a new director who forbids them from coming to spend time with the children.  It has a lot to do with the Russian Orthodox church, which views our church as little more than a cult.  Ira said that she would be fine with the ban if the Orthodox church itself did things for the orphans, but they don’t.  All while refusing to allow people who want to spend time with the kids do it!  There is going to be a festival this week, that the orphans will be allowed to attend, and there will be get the opportunity to hear about Jesus.  That’s one praise at least!

It is moments like this when it is so clear what a stronghold the evil one has on this country.  I would like to make a prayer request that this director’s heart would be softened enough to allow the church the opportunity to work with these little ones who desperately need love and care.  I am very thankful to have something specific to devote my prayers to for Russia.

Also, I have taken up a new hobby… vanilla making!  I brought over a large package of vanilla beans and all you have to do is split the beans, put them in a vodka bottle, store it in a dark, cool place, occasionally swirl the bottle and then wait for about six months for it to turn into delicious vanilla!  The first bottle that I bought is the second from the right.  It says Смирнов.  I grabbed it before really reading the label, and when I got home I realized that it was just plain old Smirnoff.  Russian vodka it may be, but that just wasn’t going to cut it for my first bottle of Russian vanilla!  So I bought the bottle to the far right, and made that into vanilla about a week ago.  Then I started wandering what I was going to do with the over a hundred or so vanilla beans that I had left so I decided to start my own little vanilla factory.  I made the Smirnoff into vanilla a few days ago, and then I bought three more bottles of vodka for my next batch.4-10-2011 008I still have lots more vanilla beans and I wanted to get more vodka, but Nick cut me off at three for this time!  Oh well.  I want to try it with another brand of vodka and test to see which one makes the best vanilla.

Now I am off to spend a little bit of time with my hubby and my new hobby before bed.

Dasvidania!

Pure and Undefiled Religion

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