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

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Maya “Balshaya”

There has been so much going on since Isla turned one, that I feel like the most important person in our family has been neglected on this blog. (Oh man, calling a child the “most important” person in the family is something I swore I would never do before she was born… BWAHAHAHAHA… oh motherhood, how it has made me live to eat my words!).

Please note that on her updates, I have no one to compare her to, so I don’t know if she is ahead of the curve or behind the curve on some things and I have quit reading baby books for the time being.  This may or may not lead to some veteran mommies snickering at my fawning over how ridiculously smart I think she is!  Smile She may actually be way behind, but to us she is perfection.

Communication: Isla can say many, many words, and says new ones all the time.  She can say Isla, Mama, Dada, Boo, Pawpaw, Cookie, sock, off, on, out, bath, book, bag, ball, this, that, bye, hi, eye, and many, many more, although I would not say that she knows more than 25-30 words total.  These are just the ones that I can think of right now.  In Russian, she can say paka (bye bye), cuckoo (like peak-a-boo), da (yes), caca (yucky), koodah (where to), soodah (here) and ga ga ga (Russian baby word that is part of a rhyme Agnesa is teaching her).  Some of these are baby/nonsense words in Russian, but they are deliberate and intentional words so I am counting them if that makes any sense.

Her signing is going so well.  She can sign bath, eat, water, please, thank you, cheese, change, sleep, bed, finished, no, milk, potty and a few others.  I am not planning on teaching her many more unless I feel like she is getting frustrated.  We (by we, I mean me) are having a hard enough time mastering Russian without throwing another language too much in the mix!

I feel like her communication is phenomenal.  She is very clear on what she likes and doesn’t like without throwing tantrums.  She does whine when she wants something frequently, but I try to make certain that she signs “please” before I give it to her.  She nods very firmly when I ask her a question, and shakes her head when the answer is no.  If she gets really whiny over wanting something, I go stone-faced and ignore her.  I will not give in and encourage that behavior… however, Grandparents are another story and she picked up some bad habits while we were in the states. We are working on them though Smile.  She really seems to understand every word we say!

Some funny ways that she has communicated:

  • A few weeks ago in a restaurant she was tired of her high chair and wanted out.  I told her that she could get out, but only if she sat on my lap and didn’t run around.  I asked her if she understood me.  She nodded firmly YES, and then proceeded to sit on my lap for 30 more minutes like an angel.
  • She has started taking signing “finished” away from the high chair, and will do it whenever she doesn’t like what we are doing.  Like “hey Mama… I am finished with this car seat!”
  • She has been doing this for a while, but I think its hilarious.  Whenever she wants something she will point to it and patiently say “this” or “that” over and over, like “this… this… this… this…” until we figure it out. I am bad about reinforcing it because I say “this” back since I think its so cute instead of the proper name.

Eating: She is still a great eater although she is starting to develop preferences and will shake her head “no” at certain foods.  She loves cheese.  Her “cheese” sign is so darn cute, but I almost wish that we hadn’t taught it to her because all she does now is ask for cheese.  She will also occasionally have days where she doesn’t eat that much.  I don’t worry… it’s just the age I am told.

We have been working with self feeding with a fork and a spoon.  I am very pleased with how she is doing.  I usually put the food on the fork/spoon and then she puts it in her mouth.  There have been a few times where I have given her the fork/spoon and let her try, but she usually just ends up playing with the food. She will occasionally have meals where she refuses to eat unless she can feed herself.  I usually don’t mind if it is practical, otherwise I firmly tell her no and continue to try to feed her; it usually works.

We are still nursing.  We were down to twice a day when she wakes up and when she goes to bed, but with the teething she wanted to nurse all the time.  For the first time, I am starting to feel like I am getting close to being done, although Isla is not showing any signs.  There are so many benefits to nursing and the Doctor could not believe that she never got sick in the 5 months before he arrived and he attributed it to long term breastfeeding.  So I am weighing my options now between my desire to quit, active versus passive weaning, Isla immune system, and having convenient “food” when traveling.  I will say that the other day I was busy picking up and doing work and I had the most overwhelming urge to pick up Isla and cuddle.  She has always been a happy nurser, so I picked her up and “gave her the opportunity” to nurse, and just cuddled her for as long as she would let me.  I am grateful for those special moments that breastfeeding still gives me now that my baby is turning into a busy, busy, busy toddler.

Activity: Isla is a busy girl.  She is so busy and WILD.  I would call her a very active child.  Maybe its just the age?

  • She likes to run around and scream “ah ah ah”.  She sounds like a chimpanzee when she does it.
  • She is a very good little courier.  She loves it when I give her something and tell her to take it to so-and-so.  She always does it.  Its adorable.
  • She has started walking backwards.  She gets this little look on her face like she is soooo cool.  She thinks it’s hilarious.  So do we.
  • She is really into lotion.  She loves to put it on us and her.  She’s our little masseuse.
  • She is obsessed with socks and shoes.  She loves to get out her shoes from her shoe bin in the entry/study area and play with them for hours. And hours.  Why do I even buy toys?  She brings them to us to put on her, and they always match!  Socks she will put on and off forever.
  • She likes to help Nick get ready for work. She brings him his socks, shoes, bag, belt etc.  As soon as I say “Daddy has to go to work!” she says “Ock” for sock to remind him that he must wear his socks!
  • Here favorite book right now is a popup book that is a modified version of There’s a Wocket in My Pocket!  Her favorite thing is to bring me the book and say “book, book, book” and she always runs and points to it on the bookshelf.  I am so glad we finally found a book that she will sit still for.
  • She absolutely loves to be outdoors.  This is unfortunate since we live in an apartment and can’t just walk into the back yard, but I try to get her out to walk along the promenade by the sea every day.
  • She always gets so excited when she hears the beep in our apartment that lets us know that Nick is in the building!  She gets so excited and screams “Dada!” and runs to to the door.  I love it.
  • She has also started bathing herself with Dove soap (she has been refusing baby shampoo). Its pretty funny.
  • She likes to get on her Dad’s back when he does pushups.  It’s a fun ride!

Personality: She is LOUD.  All the time. She is loud when she is happy.  She is loud when she is mad.  She is loud when she is sad. This is a big disadvantage when living in the land of the quiet, stoic Russians.  It can be very embarrassing at stores.

Other than that she is so happy and funny.  I would not call her strong willed yet because she typically responds well to correction, but I would not call her an easy child or a pushover.  She has many, many opinions that she is happy to share with you.

Teeth: She now has TEN! She got her first molars in a couple of days ago, back to back and it was bad.  I have been so spoiled because the other teeth came in and she barely changed her behavior.  Her 5th – 8th teeth came in and I didn’t even notice them until days later.  These two molars more than made up for it!  We dealt with this in addition to jet lag the first week we were home.  Poor baby.  At one point she was running a fever of 103.2 degrees.

Random Things: She went to her Doctor’s appointment in the states and she was in the 40th% for weight (which surprised all of us since she looks like a chunky monkey to me) and 75% for both head circumference and height.

Sleep: She is down to one nap a day, which makes getting out and shopping so much easier.  I am still trying to figure out when the best time to put her down is.  Her nap must be longer (3 hours or so) for her to not get cranky, but she will only do this if I put her down after 1 pm, but then her wakeup time tends to run kind of close to bedtime, and I like to keep her bedtime pretty early… so I will get it figured out.

Here are some pictures my mom took when we were in the states.  These were my brother’s (Isla’s birthday twin) overalls when he was a baby and my hat from the 6th grade (sooo cool from Limited Too, lol).  Isla LOVES that hat!  I can’t believe she is wearing it after all these years Smile.



I know that I am ridiculously biased, but I think she is so adorable!  And so does her Daddy.  She is such a Daddy’s girl.  I cannot believe how much we love her and how much joy she brings us.  I know exactly what God means when he tells us that “He loves us with an everlasting love”.

Its true.

Parents do.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Since We’ve Been Home

So, we’ve been home for almost two weeks now, and I feel quite silly.  Things have been so slow here for a couple of reasons and I can’t believe that I was complaining about having too much to do!  Feast or famine seems to be the story of my life…

The main reason that there has been nothing going on is that we have been nonstop SICK in this house! 

  • First there was jetlag, which I was physically ill from for the first five or six days, partly from jet lag and then also lack of sleep with Isla getting accustomed to the time change.  She did not do nearly as well as she did on the trip to Houston.
  • Secondly Isla got her first molars in!  This was very exciting, except that my little dumpling who has cut teeth 3 through 8 almost without me even noticing that she had teeth coming in ran a fever for four days.  At one point she got up to 103.2!  Absolutely terrible.  I felt so bad for her.  I called our Doctor over to check her out, and he agreed with my mommy diagnosis that it was just bad teething in case anyone was nervous!
  • Thirdly, I got so run down this weekend from taking care of Isla all week.  I had a sore throat and was just exhausted.  We kept our weekend low key and I even played hooky from church while Nick and Isla left.
  • Finally, last night Isla woke up and threw up her entire dinner!  She is taking a morning nap (unusual for her at this point), and she seems to be ok, but I just feel like we cannot catch a break around here!

We start back up with our Russian lessons today! I am excited, but I have also enjoyed the past few weeks of mental relaxation.  Seriously, it is so mentally taxing, and we will pay for having been so lazy!

That’s what we have been doing in case you were wondering! Smile

Anyway, I am slowly finishing Isla’s update post, and then I am going to take a little “no pressure” vacation from blogging (as in, there will be no pressure on myself to update unless I am in the mood to do it!).  Also, I am off Facebook for a little while.  I hate Facebook at the moment, and its such a relief to not be on it.  You know how babies get overstimulated?  That’s kind of the way I was feeling about Facebook the past couple of months.  Maybe “oversaturated” is a better word.

Paka paka!

PS. Our internet has been working so much better!  It has been such a blessing.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Cookie’s Chess Table

Lately my mom has been really into refinishing furniture and she spends all her time reading about blogs of people who have refinished furniture!  I think she should start her own blog because she has done some amazing things… not the least of which is a beautiful bar that she refinished for me.  We bought it for $10, and now it looks amazing! (I need to get pictures of it…)

Anyway, that was just a little bit of back story for this post.  She has refinished this one particular table and wants me to post it on my blog to link up to several “linky parties”!  How cute is she???

So without further ado… here is a table that she refinished and repurposed as a chess table for Fin’s nursery.

Here is the before…


And the after!  Doesn’t it look great? I love it!  There’s room for storage underneath, and if Fin ends up being the genius I think he will be, he can spend hours entertaining himself with chess!photo (2)

Ps.  Mom, please send me full pictures of Fin’s room.  I want to show everyone all of the neat little touches that you and Shawna did.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tribute to Nick

Sooo… this may seem kind of random, but I just feel like I have to say it.

I have the best husband.  THE BEST.  I am so thankful that I met him at 19, we were engaged at 20, and married at 21!

Is our marriage perfect?


No I’m kidding it is not. You want to test your marriage… try moving to a different county!

But 6+ years later, I love and appreciate him more each day.  I cannot imagine my life without him.

Nick has always loved me so unconditionally, all while encouraging me to be better and reach for more than I would have on my own.  I could never have gotten a job as a engineer out of college without his complete faith in me, and especially not my job at the Big Oil Co that was my dream job (before I found my real dream job… Mommy!).

I can honestly say that before Nick I had no idea what it was like to be a good partner, and there were things about God that I didn’t understand.  I always thought that God was more someone to rumble and spar with, someone who didn’t want me to do what I wanted to do.  Oh I believed in Him, but I never understood exactly HOW he loved me.  Until Nick, and then suddenly Ephesians 5:25 became real...

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 

Nick has always loved me and treated me like a treasure, and its very easy to submit to a man like that.  So easy to rest.


Here’s to you, my best and most beloved!

(This would be the part where I insert a good picture of you, but I don’t have one on this computer and am too lazy to go and get another one. It’s ok.  You already know what you look like!)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Like Father Like Daughter

They do the most ridiculous things together...

YouTube Video

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, August 19, 2011

16 Months or Years? A harbinger of things to come...

YouTube Video

Me: Where did Isla learn to say "Mom", not Mama, in that bossy, demanding tone?

Nick: Ummmm... probably from you...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Today I am thankful for...

Russian sisters-in-Christ who come to see me off (and tease me a little for being so maudlin) when I have a three week trip ahead of me and I am nervous and sad to leave...

And those same SIC who welcome me home with a surprise party, flowers, gifts... and CHOCOLATE CAKE!

I am so loved. Completely and undeservedly.

God is so good.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

We made it!

We are home!

There was a major hiccup in Moscow, and so I didn't get home until 18 hours later than I was supposed to. It was a very stressful situation that took forever to get resolved (and a few tears), but in the end, I am very thankful for the resources that Nick and I have. I got a free taxi (paid for by Nick's company) to a free, fancy hotel suite (bought using Nick's Marriott points and convinced by Nick to upgrade me for my birthday), so even though I didn't make it home for my birthday to see my groom, I don't think I have mich to be complaining about...

Just check out my hotel suite!

YouTube Video

We got home this morning. Nick met us at the airport, which I am so thankful for. It wasn't easy getting away from a meeting that he had, but I am so thankful to know what a priority we are to him! I love my hubby :).

As you can imagine, Nick and Isla were overjoyed to see one another! She got a huge grin on her face when she saw him and wanted to go straight into his arms and hasn't wanted to be away from him for a second since then! As usual I don't have a favorite picture so here are all of them!

We got back the apartment at lunch time and after we ate, Nick went back to work and Isla and I slept for 4 hours. We were so exhausted; I had only slept less than six hours of the last 48, and Isla maybe a little more than that. Since then I have been unpacking and getting my house back in order.

Now off to cuddle with my groom. He is so cute!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Heading Home

Tomorrow I am on my way back to Russia! I cannot wait, I miss Nick so much. This is just a couple of random comments and then a few cute pictures of Isla.

This past week has been crazy. I spent the weekend with Nick's parents and had a wonderful time.

Monday I drove from Magnolia to Nederland to see Emily briefly and her beautiful new house. Then I drove from Nederland to Town and Country mall in Houston to meet with Krista, Henry and Kristen for dinner. My mom met me with Isla so that they could see her.

Tuesday we left on the 7:25 am flight for Louisiana. We had the best time seeing our friends and taking Isla to the Doctor. I treasure the people that God put in my life there with all my heart. Isla also had her 15 month check up. I really want to do an update post on her soon.

Here are some pictures from La!

Isla and Nathan. I couldn't get them both to look at the camera at the same time!

How I love and miss all of those dear friends! I wish i had taken more pictures. I am so thankful Elysha and David hosted a little party with three out of four of our closest couple friends. I love them to bits. The other couple couldn't make it understandably because they were home with precious new baby Norah! Don't worry, I got to see her the next day.

Thursday though Saturday we went to Great Wolf Lodge in Dallas! It was awesome. Here is Isla sleeping on the road trip up. I want to do a post on that too.

Today I saw my MIL and FIL one last time and saw another friend Kristen and her little boy Waylon, went for Mexican food one last time with family. And I packed. I hate packing.

Tomorrow I get on a plane for 11 hours with a baby, 2 large suitcases, 1 small carryon, 1 back pack, and 1 purse, and no stroller. I will fly 11 hours to Moscow, have less than 1 1/2 hours to clear passport control, customs, pick up all those bags, recheck in, and board the plane to Anapa. I am a little nervous, but I made it on the 2 day journey here by myself, and I know that I can do it again with God's covering. Please pray that I find favor with everyone I encounter and that everything goes smoothly and that Isla does well on the plane.

It's funny, after I made it over here the first time I felt so empowered, like I could do anything, but now I am all nervous again.

When I get home I want to do 2 posts, well maybe 3. One to say I made it safe. One on Great Wolf Lodge, and one on my precious daughter. I love her so, and then I am going to take a little break from blogging and possibly Facebook for a month or longer.

This is my first time using BlogPress. I don't like it that much.

Sorry if I rambled in this post.

Anyway, it's been a lovely time, but I miss my beloved and my life in Russia and I am so ready to get home. We will really miss everyone though...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Surviving Russia Rule #1: Whenever possible, TAKE THE STAIRS!!!

An email I received from my husband, entitled “Trapped in an Elevator”:


What happens when you squeeze 6 people (approx. 500 kg) into a Russian elevator with capacity of 400 kg? Guess what…there is no safety factor in this design….

You wind up trapped in the elevator, at the bottom of the elevator shaft, after a slow fall ending with a loud bang!

No posted capacity inside the elevator…

No alarm letting you know you’ve overloaded the elevator…

No automatic breaks…

No emergency telephone in the elevator…

No removable ceiling panel emergency escape (not even Steven Seagal could have gotten out of this tin can)…

Doors lock shut…

No A/C or even ventilation…

No cell phone coverage at the bottom of an elevator shaft…

Emergency button sounds more like a Morse code buzzer than an alarm…

What do you do? Yell until the Babushka 2 floors up hears you!

About 45 minutes into the ordeal, we channeled our inner MacGyver, and were able to pry the doors open far enough to wedge a piece of your Tupperware (sorry!) in the inner (elevator) door, and wedge the Tupperware lid in the outer door to get a little much needed ventilation.

Thank goodness we had at least one Russian speaker in the group that could communicate with the Babushka trying to help! After about an hour we were eventually rescued (though very sweaty and stinky), and with an great story to tell.

Another great party at Kevin’s, this one ending with a bang. Fun times in Novo!

Wish you were here, but glad you weren’t here last night! Love you!

P.S. Gotta love the (not part of Nick's company) guys starting to panic while Brad and I try to keep the mood light!

*****I decided to post the accompanying video. Disclaimer: The man using profanity is not my husband or anyone who works for his company! Nick is the goofy guy trying to narrate. As you can imagine… things were a little tense!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Something’s Gotta Give

I have been thinking a lot lately about my commitments and priorities. I am not the kind of person who likes to stay super busy.  I enjoy down time, and I was really looking forward to a slower pace of life once I left the USA rat race and moved to Russia… well it turns out you can the girl out of America but you can’t take the American out of the girl!  Apparently I just cannot say no to anything!  Since I moved to Russia, my commitments have only increased and I feel like some things have really been suffering and I have not had time to take on things that I really want to do.

I am very thankful for our housekeeper Agnesa, who helps me with the deep cleaning and will also watch Isla during her nap, in case I need to run errands twice a week.  I thought that having her would help with some things, but it really has not.  Having a housekeeper only helps with toilets and floors, but there’s still the day to day maintenance that comes with having a busy toddler and a husband, who in spite of being a very intelligent Aggie and Stanford trained engineer, has not quite figured out the purpose of a hamper or where to put empty food containers and wrappers once you are done with them or where… ok I’ll just leave it at that Smile.

I want to be able to:

  • get back into doing things that I love with my husband.  We have both let some things slide that we used to do together in the US that we could easily continue in Russia… but we just haven’t for some reason.  We were even able to continue them after Isla was born, but have totally let them slide!
  • get Isla back on a good routine.  Our life gets in such an upheaval these days with all of our traveling, and we never really got back into a routine between Ireland and our trip home.  Plus having Isla on a routine, helps me be able to get everything done that I need to.
  • work more on potty training.  Isla was doing so well before Ireland, but then we got back and I was a little overwhelmed with work, and so I intentionally decided to let it drop until we got back from the USA.
  • work more on Isla’s independent play and blanket time.  I have also let those slide and I feel like those are so important to her development.
  • cultivate strong friendships with my friends in Russia, both the Russians and the friendships through Nick’s company.  Friendships take time and energy, and I have to make certain that I don’t let them slide with the busyness of working and taking care of Isla.  I can get so wrapped up my own life that before I know it, its Friday and I haven’t made an effort to see a single friend.
  • maintain strong friendships with the people that I left behind in the USA. This has difficult partly due to our internet situation, but I miss and love everyone so much… which they wouldn’t know from the almost total lack of communication that they are received from me!
  • WORKOUT, good gracious.  I have got to do something.  I had a couple of things show up in my physical that I had to take before moving to Russia, and I need to work on having a healthier lifestyle for my own health and longevity.
  • work! I really enjoy the work that I do part time even though I don’t really need the money.  If only I could convince my boss (ahem, DAD) to give me realistic schedules and deadlines so that it wasn’t always so feast or famine…
  • cook healthy and grocery shop!  I don’t know why its such a chore to keep our pantry stocked in Russia, but it just is, and I feel like I am always behind.  Not to mention that cooking and food prep take so much longer.
  • continue my crafts.  I used to love to needlepoint, but I have not picked it up one time since I moved.  I also bought a beginners quilt kit because I would love to try that… I have some serious doubts that it will ever happen.
  • continue to visit the Children’s shelter.  It is my favorite thing next to being a wife and mom!  I am longing to go back.
  • oh yes, and there’s a little thing called, learning the Russian language.  Nick and I are trying so hard!  We take 3 hours worth of lessons a week, and it is kicking our butt.  We also put in practice time, but it is clearly not enough.  I can’t wait to do a post on our progress but that probably won’t be until late August or September because I want to make sure that I understand a few grammatical concepts first.
  • spend more time in prayer.  I desperately need that quiet time with my Lord, but I am so bad about letting it slide.  You know, my About Me used to say (and maybe still does say) “I love Jesus and studying the word of God.”  Confession: I have done almost NO studying of the word of God since Isla was born and I so miss it.
  • contribute more to my babyfood making blog!  Seriously.  My poor pen pal has pretty much shouldered that burden alone since I moved to Russia.  I have at least 6 or 7 recipes that I have made and taken pictures for and they are just resting on my computer.  Arg.
  • I won’t even mention taking the time to figure out what to do with with wild and wooly mop that I call “hair”… it’s a lost cause folks.

There are some obvious things that I have done that I won’t post here that I am cutting out.  Just plain saying “NO” to.  I feel bad, but I can’t take on other people’s responsibilities when my own plate is so full.  It would be one thing if they needed me to help out because of an illness or something… but very often it isn’t.

I do enjoy watching a little tv (usually DVDs) in the evenings with my husband… but who doesn’t?  Maybe the answer is to cut that out completely?  I don’t know.  I feel like I need a little bit of decompression in the evenings, but maybe I won’t be able to figure out if I really need it until I cut it out entirely.

I think that part of the answer might lay in coming up with a schedule for the week?  I don’t know.  My pen pal made one and I tried to do it, and it was soooo hard.

I found this great article on the blog Clark Chatter called “Where Your Children Rank”… I have always thought that I put Isla first, but lately I have been thinking that I haven’t been in in many ways.  Not just her development and Babywise Principles, but making sure that I am not so busy that I am not a present mommy.

Anyway, I feel like a big fat failure lately so either something needs to be cut out or I need to get better at doing more with less time or figuring out priorities better.  Case in point… I had planned on spending some of my vacation praying and figuring it out… instead every spare minute that I have had has been spent working my tail off to meet a work deadline.  I’m a mess folks.

If anyone out there in cyberspace has figured out the secret to having it all and looking fabulous while doing it!  Please.  Fill me in.  I am all ears.

Pure and Undefiled Religion

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