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

Thursday, June 23, 2011

We Roll

WARNING – Be prepared to be extremely jealous!

Tomorrow I will be in Ireland and experiencing a little bit of this…


And a little bit of that…

skellig michael

With just a touch of this…


Oh yes, and wee bit o’ that…


One thing we will NOT be doing… the Blarney Stone, thanks to a certain Mr Rick Steves and his rave review.

“The best thing about this lame sight is the opportunity to watch a cranky man lower lemming tourists over the edge, belly up and head back, to kiss the stone while his partner snaps a photo – which will be available for purchase back at the parking lot. After a day of tour groups mindlessly climbing up here to perform this ritual, the stone is literally slathered with spit and lipstick.”

It seemed like a good idea to take a pass on that one!

I am super excited and I have everything set and ready to go!

  • spreadsheet with color coded itinerary – CHECKitinerary

  • all travel and hotel confirmations pdfed, printed, and transferred to our Nook – CHECK

  • all maps of our drives pdfed, printed, and transferred to our Nook – CHECK

  • all important phone numbers and addresses compiled, printed, and transferred our Nook - CHECK

  • passports – CHECK

  • bags packed – CHECK

And away we go!!! I am so excited. Did I mention that??? I am SO excited. I AM so excited. I am so EXCITED!!!


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Church Picnic

A few weekends ago our church held a picnic at Anya and Alexsei’s place!  I took so many pictures, and this is just the highlights… and its still SO many that I am not even going to try to caption them all, especially the group shots, or put them in order, only a few.  Please enjoy Smile.

I will however start the blog post off with a little story about Nick.  This is him in a nutshell.  He heard that the A&A’s property needing weed-eating, so he bought a weed-eater for them at Leroy Merlin in Krasnodar and donated it to the church.  Then he got up and went a few hours before everyone to help cut weeds and mow grass so that everything would be ready for the party… what a precious man!  He has been so bummed that we don’t have a yard here because it means that he cannot do yard work, and he was so excited that he was able to get up and go and help outside in the blazing heat!  He has to be the only person I know who loves yard work… well, him and my dad, which is why they get along so well.

One major highlight: Isla and her new buddy Izlata enjoying blueberries.  It was Isla’s first time and she devoured them!  It has become her new favorite food.  I got about a million of the two of them together, but only a few turned out.  This one is my favorite.


This is Rozlan!  Oh my goodness is he adorable or what????  I want to keep him forever, but he already has an adoring Mama and Papa Smile.  He loved Isla’s toy keys and kept using them as a camera to take pictures of me taking pictures of him!

1 (2)23

Sweet Anya and precious Liosha!


Nick brought his “American” football and everyone was very sweet to throw it around with him!

American FootballBabiesBaseball

These three are all cousins!  Alexsei is our pastor’s brother and these are A&A’s two boys and one of Pastor Ilya’s boys.  We are missing little Matthew though!

Cousins 2COusins

This is my beautiful friend Katya holding her little girl Izlata!  She has been such a blessing to me.  She has no idea how much!

Cute Girls

Daddy and his girl.

Daddy & Isla SwingDaddy and Isla Swing 2

Daddy Love 2

Look close and you can see how tightly Isla is holding onto Nick!  She is such a Daddy’s girl.

Daddy Love Close Up

Isla and Izlata eating together Smile… both our girls love to eat!

Foodie Cuties

Izlata and her daddy, Igor!  He is so funny.

Igor & Izlata

Isla and Mama Katya!  When Katya is around, Isla doesn’t want to have anything to do with me.

Isla and Mama KatyaKiddos

I love this picture!

kissy coo

Our little madam, reclining on Katya!

Little Stinker

Rozlan again!!! His is sooo cute!!!

More Roslan

`Sweet Izlata.

Precious Izlata

Sweet Masha and her Mama.  Masha is 5, and is the funniest, smartest, sweetest little thing.  Her mom is Yana, and she was a famous singer before she came to the Lord and started attending our church!

Precious Masha & Mom

More Rozlan… he is soooo cute!  Here is handing Nick the phone.

Roslan and Nick

For Cookie and Boo.

Sweet BabySwinger 2SwingerViewVinyardWhole Shebang 2Whole ShebangYummy

The Lord has richly blessed us through our church!  They have been so kind to us, and we are so thankful for each and every person there.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Brain Dump

I woke up this morning with so much to do that I don’t even know where to begin!  I was also feeling unusually anxious and unable to pray and have my quiet time with the Lord, so I thought maybe a good old fashioned brain dump might help me get it together today.

*****UPDATE: Nick is in Moscow all week… if that makes any of my ramblings clearer.*****

  • Last night after Isla went to bed, I just sat on the couch.  And sat.  And sat. And sat.  I sort of watched TV and I sort of played around online, but I did literally nothing.  I was just so beat.  Big mistake because I was really behind today. I kept thinking that I should blog because I am so behind or I should do some work, but I just couldn’t make myself do it!  It was so bad… I couldn’t even make myself put in a video game because that would require too much mental energy. I finally worked on getting our new bookcase organized for a little bit.  It looks really good.
  • Right now, I’m looking at my apartment and wondering… was this place just clean a couple of days ago??? I have been watering my friends plants while she was away in Scotland and her apartment was spotless – clean and picked up!  I always have hopes of leaving my home clean when we go away on vacation, but normally we are packing things at the last minute and throwing things together and chasing Isla, so it usually looks like we came back to an abandoned gypsy camp.
  • Poor Nick did not get much of a father’s day.  I almost bought him an iPad, but at the last minute, I couldn’t go through with it.  Truth be told, with Nick it is usually better to err on the side of NOT spending money, so I talked it over with him and he agreed that now was probably not a good time. Its not that we can’t afford it, its that we choose not to spend the money.  After 5 years of two engineering salaries, Tiffy (Nick’s sister) giving us The Total Money Makeover in our first year of marriage, and now having an overseas salary, there is very little that we can’t afford, but we think that just because you have the money, doesn’t always mean you should spend the money.
  • I know I give Nick the reputation of being a tightwad, but he is actually so very generous.  He is not a hoarder.  If there is anyone in need ever, he is the first one to give them money or give them his time.  He just has a hard time justifying what he deems frivolous expenses – which is anything above food, clothing and a roof over our heads.  It can be frustrating for a wife like me – I wouldn’t call myself extravagant by any stretch of the imagination, but I do like my occasional frivolous purchases (i.e. Isla’s bows!).
  • I also know that it looks like we are living the high life over here with all of our traveling, but the truth is that most of our trips are being financed either all or in part by Nick’s company.  Either I am accompanying him on business and they are paying for our hotel and his airfare, so I only have to get mine, or they are financing it entirely.  He travels so much that its important for us to be together as a family.  This is considered a hardship assignment, so we also get two paid for vacations a year.  This year we are going to Ireland and Italy.  Don’t be mistaken, Nick works like a dog here, and he has to travel so much.  He deserves his little R&R.  The only trip we are exclusively paying for is my trip to visit Finn in July/August.  I have some guilt over leaving my husband and taking Isla away from her father and spending the money, and I am really dreading the flight over, but I know it will be worth it!
  • I usually feel so guilty over our financial blessings.  Nick says we should never apologize for what we have because its not like we stole it!  We earned it, but I still sometimes fret over being the camel who cannot pass through the eye of needle.
  • Isla slept for over 14 hours last night.  She practically put herself to bed at 6:40 PM, and then I decided to let her sleep in because she needs catch up days since we went a lot this past weekend… low and behold she didn’t make a peep until 9 AM this morning!
  • Our house has still not sold in the states.  I wish it would sell.  I haven’t even prayed about it because I just haven’t worried about it.  Now I am going to start praying.  We will lose money on it, and we have to lower the price even more.  The prices were inflated post Katrina and although our realtor at the time assured us that the prices would NOT go any lower than Dec 2007 prices; they did in fact proceed to go lower.  It’s a total bummer.
  • I have lost a few pounds since we moved here.  This is in spite of the fact that I have picked up a “coke a day” habit, eat full fat dairy everything, and have been freely indulging in salami many times a week, which I never bought in the states, only gazed longingly at in the meat counter.  Friend’s theories include – no more fluoride in the drinking water (interesting theory… I must look that one up more).  It’s probably a combination of no more cookie dough, less sugar in general, and almost no fast food or eating out.
  • I really need to start exercising.  I have realized that only time I will do it is if I start getting up at 6 AM and doing the 30 Day Shred video… but the getting up at 6 AM is just so hard!
  • I want some new blogs to follow… anyone have any suggestions??? I am really into blogs of people living overseas if anybody knows of any good ones.
  • Isla just started crying about 20 minutes after I put to her bed.  I went in and cuddled her.  She signed “milk” so I nursed her.  We cuddled some more and she jabbered.  Then she said “nigh nigh”, which is her version of “night night” to tell me she wanted to go back to bed!  Pure preciousness.
  • I used to think it was weird to nurse a baby past a year, but the truth is, it is super duper awesome!  The bonding time only gets better.  At first I was embarrassed that I didn’t plan on weaning her at a year, but now I don’t care what people think.  It works really well for us, especially with all of the traveling.  Sometimes its hard to find her food since she’s such a late teether, so I am thankful that she gets at least some nutritionally complete food.
  • I think it would be so cool if some totally random person started following my blog.  I want to keep my “followers” kind of low because then I would feel like I needed to censor what I put on here… but I do think it would be cool if someone just started following it out of the blue.  That hasn’t happened yet though… I guess I am just not that interesting!
  • I am having my blog “made over”!  I am very excited and I hope it is complete before we leave for Ireland.
  • And finally and most importantly, we just had a lady come to our church from one of the former soviet “stans”, I don’t even know which one although she told me several times.  Her country is in the middle of a civil war.  She left with her husband and four children with no money, to come to Russia to make a better life for them.  They have been living off of the generosity of strangers, they have no job right now and no place to stay.  Can you imagine?  Please keep them in your prayers.  My hearts breaks for them.  Thankfully we serve the great I Am, and He always works for the good of those who wait for Him.

Cookie asked for some pictures of Isla… I took these a couple of days ago.  Nick has our good camera so I couldn’t take any today… this is the best I can do!






Saturday, June 18, 2011

Brought to You by Vonage

When we moved to Russia, Nick and I signed up for a Vonage phone which is basically phone over the internet (also known as Voice Over IP).  Its pretty cool because we can keep our US number that we have had for years, talk to our family as if it were a local call, and they also included a nifty little voice messaging service where they email me the messages that people leave… here are just a few that we have received.

  • "Hey Nicholas, it's Dory and Iowa. I hope you all get this message but I'm gonna call back and I'm about 12:00 our time which I know I might be asleep. I was gonna see if y'all wanted to Skype. So I'll give it, I'll give the Skype you know, a chance around 12:00 and I I just remembered you were going to IKEA today so I I don't even know when you'll be home. So I will I will we will I will give it a try and I'll talk to you all and it's been a few hours. bye bye"
  • "Hello it's Dory here, it's Cathy. I'm going to talk real slow to see if your message. If you get my words right when it typed out. I hope you're having a wonderful time and that you had a great trip with Nick and I left and your mom. I was praying for you and for the weather and for Ireland doctor's appointment. I hope everything went. My name is Lee East. I love you I miss you and I'll talk to you soon. Bye"
  • "Hey story, this is Melody. I was just calling to see what you were up to and see if you were watching the lawyer waiting I guess I'll talk to you later. bye bye"
  • "Hey Nick, it's Dori. It's, it's Tiffany. It is 1045 here so don't think it's close to 8:00 there. So anyways just calling to say hi, Dewey again. That's it just call me whenever you get this. Bye"

Hope you enjoyed deciphering them as much we did!


Nick, Dory and Iowa

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Random Wednesday

So, I just wanted to do a quick update post to let you all know what we have been up to.

Last week we…

  • (The whole fam) went on a church picnic!  I am going to do a post for that one, but I took 350 pictures so it takes a while to sort through them and of course I have to caption them!
  • (Isla and I) went to the Safari park in Gelendzhik with our Pastor’s family and my friend Katya and her little girl Izlata!  It is a zoo, but it was pretty cool.  I probably won’t do an individual post on that one because I forgot my camera and didn’t take pictures.  I know we will go back with Nick so I can do a post then.
  • (The whole fam) went back to Gelendzhik with Katya, Igor (her huband) and Izlata, and some of their friends and walked the promenade and went to the Dolphinarium… I want to do a quick post on that one, but first I need to download the pictures from my phone.
  • (The whole fam) were also invited to our Pastor’s house for dinner!  It was great and I will do a post on that too… egad, I am so behind.

Some new things…

  • I started work again, and since I about killed myself the last time on a relatively small project, and this one is going to be big and long, I have hired a lady named Agnesa to come and help clean and watch Isla two days a week from 11 to 7.  This is great for so many reasons, but especially because she will be able to watch Isla while Nick and I take our Russian lessons on Tuesday and Friday nights.  Between Isla’s one-on-one time with Agnesa, our church, and our dear Russian friends, Isla should have enough exposure to Russian to learn it simultaneously with English!  She’s a lucky little baby.  I am always sad that she doesn’t get to do Mommy’s Day Out and have a nice time to play with other kids, but I think speaking two languages will more than make up for it.
  • Our church has been allowed back into helping the orphanage!!! Praise.  I really wanted to start going to help on Wednesdays, but unfortunately there is some concern that I being an American could jeopardize their visits.  It’s a long story, but our mainstream Protestant church is already viewed as an American cult by the orphanage directors and our church does not want to reinforce that view.  I don’t want to mess up their ministry, but could you be praying that there be some way that I could go and help out??? I am so sad, I would have loved to have gone and loved on those sweet children.

Here’s a pic (or two) of my precious little Isla.  She is frequently naughty these days, but rarely unhappy!  Its quite a winning combination, as she keeps me laughing all day long.  Today I was giving her a bath and she would throw out a bath toy at me and I would duck and we would laugh and I would throw her toy back in… well while I was ducking she picked up her hair-rinse bucket and chucked the whole thing (full of water) out… needless to say, we stopped that little game.  The jokes on Mommy! StuckBest Seat in the House

Father–Daughter Date

On Sunday I wasn’t feeling that well, and Nick and Isla decided to head onto church without me so I could get some rest.  Side note – it was so weird being in the house with just me!

We realized that it was the first time that Nick had ever been out with Isla alone.  He’s kept her at home many times, but he had never gone out with her without me!  Of course I had to get pictures to document this special occasion. Smile 

These two are just so cute, I had a hard time deciding which picture to use… so I just used them all!

Cute I&D 2Cute I&D 3Cute I&D 4Cute I&D 5Cute I&D 6Cute I&D 7Cute I&D

It was also the first time that Nick used his “daddy” diaper bag that my mother gave him last year and that I lovingly filled with newborn essentials.  It was a sweet thought, but ultimately a waste since Nick is one of those guys who can hold a peacock emblazoned diaper bag and not feel like his manhood is threatened one iota.  For the record, he can also bust out with Steel Magnolia quotes with the best of ‘em!  And I think he’s the manliest man ever. Smile

Cute I&D 8

Also, Nick and I talked it over and we think that its time that he and Isla start regular Daddy-Daughter dates together… it brings me such joy to think about it!

I am so thankful for these two; they are my treasures!

Pure and Undefiled Religion

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