Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Rain drops keep falling on my head

"Ouch!" says Nathan. Tom and I laugh.

"Ow!" says Spencer and Tom & I laugh again.

"OUCH!" says Alida... only Tom is still laughing!

Have you ever had a raindrop land on your head with such force that it hurt? I thought the rain in Kansas was hard. These rain drops were huge and heavy. We got caught in the rain after we finished our pizza. We walked out of the restaurant and it started off slowly then started to pour! We had two choices at first:

1. Run for the nearest tree

2. stand and wait for the bus

We made a run for the tree. Tom decided fairly quickly to hail a taxi. So what would have been a 12 ruble ride home turned into a 50 ruble ride home! Such is life.

I went out for a big shopping trip with Melanie today. She took me to a large renoc that rivals the Orange County swamp meet in Costa Mesa, California. There were designer clothes, jewelry, shoes, purses, perfume, electronics, you name it... it was there! The people here are very frank in how they speak to you. Melanie is very tall (I'm 5 foot 2 so everyone is very tall to me!) and she needed a new swimsuit. This older woman just flat out told her that the two piece suits she had for sale would all be two small for her and she could only look at the one piece suits. Melanie had not even told the lady her size! I was looking for jeans. A different woman had some in my size...Melanie told her I was size 47 (Russian size). I was asked if I wanted to try them on. When I hesitated she came down on the price 100 rubles. There is a sheet they hold up and you step behind it and try on the item you select. Some women at other stalls just took off their tops and were trying on bras out in the open. I am not so free! Melanie ran to the front of the stall and assured me you could not see from that angle so I was brave and tried them on. That was the fastest I was ever in and out of a pair of jeans in my life! I paid 1000 rubles (35$) for a new pair of Jordan jeans. They show a picture of Michael Jordan's logo who knows if they are fake or not? I also purchased a lime green leather jacket for the same price! It says real leather & made in USA but we are not sure about that either. Anyhow, it will look cute this winter.

Our taxi driver was funny today. There was a car beside us that had to screech to a stop to avoid hitting the car in front of it. The steering wheel of that car was on the right so our driver was able to talk to him out of his window. He looked over and said "harashow!" (Good) The other driver nodded and said "Spaceeba" (thank you) Melanie told me that the other driver said he was praying to stop!

Nathan had his first art lesson today. Gaulia came to the house and worked with him for an hour. He is working on faces. I think she is a fabulous teacher. She said the magic words "your child is gifted!" His homework is to draw a male and a female face. He likes her teaching style. I am glad we made the choice to do private lessons. Gaulia has some of her pieces on display down on Krasnaya. She is a painter. I will photograph them when we find them. She comes again Thursday. Nathan ordered everyone out of the room when she got here. It would be nice if we had a studio for him. Right now he is lucky to have his own bedroom!

The boys and I finished our language homework this afternoon. We only had one word we could not find in the dictionary. We will have to ask Lena for help. The alphabet chart show a picture of ice cream covered in chocolate on a stick. The corresponding letter is looks like a backwards E. We think it should be the word for Eskimo pie ice cream. Tom remembers Alexei saying something to that effect. But we could not find the word. Not even in the bolshoi (big) Russian dictionary! Spencer is glad that Lena is so patient. He keeps making the Russian letter I backwards. It looks the same as an N in English only the center line goes the other way. Force of habit makes you write an N instead of doing it backward. Thank goodness we have all this time to practice before school starts in the fall!

The guys are embarrassed because I am taking pictures in the restaurant!
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Zhar Pizza
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stalls were close together at this renoc
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Russian grafitti... hope it does not mean something offensive!
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Spencer still waiting for a bus!
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Spencer waiting for the bus
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Monday, May 30, 2005

Lesson One!

Lena came over today to officially start lessons with Nathan, Spencer and I. We met for two hours. We covered half of the alphabet, learning the correct way to pronounce the sounds, print them, write them in cursive and learn a word that began with them. We also learned some phrases. Since Lena does not speak much English we have to use the dictionary to communicate. It works out best to have someone teach you who cannot fully communicate in English. We are forced to learn the Russian words for what we want to say to get her to understand (paneemaj)!

Before she left she went into the bathroom. She has shopped with me enough to know that my favorite color is light green. Lime actually! Well, she came out of the bathroom beaming because I had found toilet paper in this color. She was estatic. She told us she had NEVER seen toilet paper that color! She taught us the Russian word for surprising "yoodivleno". It does not cost that much to buy colored toilet paper. Most stores just don't sell it.

Mila is still waking up from a nap!

Tom gave Mila a highlighter to play with.
We need to get some toys!
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Mila's mom; Christine

Christine is American! But, Russia is her home now.
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Mila's dad; Murat

Murat is from Dhagestan.... a republic of Russia.
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Mila came over with her parents today!

Our home is not child proof. When we get our
permanent place we need to get it prepared for
little ones!
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waiting for tram-vi to be repaired!

It was eery how patiently the passengers sat while
the tram-vi was being moved and then re-started.
No one spoke to complain or question what was going
on. No one displayed a reaction to the flash from my
camera either!
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Traffic jam- view from window

We rode the tram-vi home from Krasnaya. This
was a first for us. A motorist decided to cross the
tracks very quickly causing the tram-vi to brake
suddenly and that made it stall in the middle of
the intersection. The tram-vi operator had to get
out and direct it backwards while the conductor
(ticket collector) steered it out of the intersection.

Somehow they managed to get it going again!
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We spied a detective agency!

Spencer and I were out shopping this morning
on Krasnaya. We have passed this way several
times before. Today was the first day I noticed
this sign!
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Sunday, May 29, 2005

New View Students

South Carolina family has Southern California family over for dinner!

We had dinner with some students from the Language school. I met Jody and Melanie when I went over to New View to interview Ella to be our house helper. Jody just walked right up and introduced himself to me! Melanie found me just a few minutes later. Later that week she called and asked us to dinner. She wanted to know what food we were missing from the States. I told her Spencer was asking for fried chicken. She made fried chicken, macaroni & cheese, and homemade rolls! A truly southern meal.

My quest is over...they have shared their stash of peanut butter! Tom was so happy. Melanie says that her Mom sends weekly shipments. She gave me two pairs of jeans since she has lost weight and can't wear them anymore. I am grateful because two pair I brought with me are not fitting very well due to the 'walking everywhere you go in Russia' diet! Jody gave a pair to Nathan that are brand new! You can't really take things back that you buy from a renoc. Jody didn't try them on so he was stuck! Jody seemed excited about the boys getting their power converters. He is eager to play their Nintendo DS games and the Gameboy games too! He says he will most likely stay at our house too late... he doesn't know us yet. What is too late for the Sharps?

Nathan & AJ

Nathan would love to have a cat. He gets
excited when we visit someone who has one!
By the way. AJ was named by Aiden. It was
something he said clearly. AJ is a girl...they just
recently found that out!
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Melanie & Aiden

I just love this little guys face. I had to take his
photo again!
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Nathan, AJ & Leia

Micayla got the picture in focus... but she cut her sister
in half!
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Micayla took this one!

This one did not quite get focused. I think Micayla
was on the move! Melanie and Jody are not fuzzy
in real life.
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Spencer, Alida & Leia

Micayla was learning how to use my camera!
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Leia holding AJ the cat!

Jody and Melanie; her parents in the background.
Leia likes to keep the cat close to her...real close!
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Aiden eating ice cream!

Aiden was eating ice cream by the fistful! He kept
going back to the table and finding more.
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Nathan: the kid magnet!

Nathan is with our new friends; Macayla, Leia
& their little brother Aiden. They are watching
the video Ice Age.
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Macayla making faces!
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Saturday, May 28, 2005


Our venture out yesterday was to buy a vacuum. Both boys went with me. We saw many militsia (police) out on the streets. They were pulling people over randomly. After we purchased the vacuum it was very difficult to hail a taxi at the usual place. The taxi drivers appeared to be avoiding the area where the militsia were. Tom thinks that perhaps some of the taxi drivers did not have licenses or the proper documents. We walked up a block and a half until I was able to make eye contact with a driver! He slowed down so we jumped in quickly and sped away. We saw the militsia again as we went around the corner on the next major street. I know that it is Memorial weekend in the States but there is no such holiday here. Perhaps there is a dignitary in town!

Friday, May 27, 2005

Tom & Domo play tug of war

After playing with the sock for a while on his
own Domo brought the sock over to Tom for
a game of tug of war!
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My first hand knit sock!

The colors were great; the body of it was fine
but the toe was awkward! I will try again with
another pattern. I did not mind giving this one
to Domo because it was not getting a mate!

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Domo & the Sock

I finished the tube sock I was making and we
were laughing at how badly the toe came out. I
put the sock on Domo's nose and he became our
Friday night entertainment!

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The Value of Water

Water, how important is it? Right now the water is turned off. Why? Who knows? Ella commented that where she lives this happens for a week or two once a year. She says there could be repairs going on somewhere in our district. She is cleaning and we had water when she did the dishes but she always does the floors last. We have two dogs and lots of guests who get the entry way floor dirty and the living room floor has the most dog hair. She can sweep but not mop. We cannot shower. I buy 5 liter bottles of water to cook with and for drinking. At least we can clean ourselves off with that. Welcome to Russia!

2 hours later the water came back on! The shower works again and we can do the laundry now. Slava Bogu! Glory to God!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Evil or Good?

This site is certified 71% GOOD by the Gematriculator

There is a website that tells you if your site is good or evil! I tried the BibleGateway site and it was only 77% good. It must have been the evil part of me that looked it up! Our website www.sharps4russianrecovery.com is only 43% good. Tom thinks it's funny. It was his idea to look up Bible Gateway, but since I actually did it I took the full responsibility!

view from other balcony
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view from balcony of kitchen
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bath & sink room

A typical Russian bathroom has the toilet separate
from the bath tub and sink!
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toilet room
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Entry way

This is the realtor who helped us with the hunt.
She spent some time in America so spoke a bit
of English!

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One of the bedrooms
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Apartment Hunt

Lucky number 13…we pray the lift works on the day we decide to move in! We found an apartment we would like to buy. It is on the 13th floor. Ervand , Joyce, the realtor, Tom and myself viewed the apartment this morning. We were grateful Joyce came along to translate. The place is brand new. It is unfinished. We would get to do the final work on it to get it the way we want it. Everything we need is close by….supermarket, pharmacy, renoc, church, and the language school is not too far. We don’t mind the number 13. December 13th is the day we got married!

When we walked out of the apartment Tom and Joyce saw a man coming out of the supermarket with beer and bread. I saw someone going through the trash. We talked about this location being the place we are called to work. We could tell the addicts and the alcoholics were out getting there meals for the day. This location is near the sewer that Tom toured last year. He visited the sewer with Tim Watson and two men from Artika and discovered where as many as 1500 people live during the winter months and about 150 in the summer.

We pray now for guidance!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Spencer made a billboard for me!
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Our happy little family!
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walking home..... finally!
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How many are waiting for # 6?
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Waiting for the trolleybus!
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People shopping on Krasnaya
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Spencer downloading his photos!
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Nathan is happy with his buddy
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Domo & Nathan
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Nathan & Domo
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Culture Lessons

Walking down the street here can be hazardous to your health. Last night Nathan was walking Domo and he found a needle that someone had just used to shoot up near a tree outside our gate. He’s smart enough to know not to touch it. I thought about all the little children that walk this way. The bus stops right outside our gate…. I know addicts don’t think about the “what ifs”. They shoot up and move on. Is there a deeper reason as to why it was right outside our gate? Are we being reminding by our Higher Power of why we are here? I can only wonder…and continue to pray for the addicts and alcoholics here in the city.

Lena is taking me to buy my ticket for Rome today at dva (2pm). She will be here right on time! Tom has a language lesson at tree (3pm) with Alexei M., the other day Alexei M. and Lena were here at the same time. Lena told me that they went to Bible school together. Before we left to go exchange money she asked him a few questions and he answered her partially in English. She told him in Russian that she didn’t understand… it was funny because Tom and I did. He used the phrase ‘phonetic sound’. Tom said he thought his Russian was really improving since he understood that phrase! Alexei hit himself on the head and answered her in Russian. He said he had been teaching a lot that day and was confused he forgot what language she spoke!

Spencer just handed me the recipe book his grandmother, Tadah, made for him. He opened it to the Hawaiian Banana Bread page. I guess that is what he and I will do when Ella is finished working today. I hate to get things dirty after she is finished cleaning. Everything looks and smells so wonderful! She told Tom that when she had a dog it had short hair. No shedding! We blame Domo, Mr. Border Collie sheds daily!

Two times we went to the Austrian Air office and both times we were told by the woman there that she was absolutely too busy to help us! That would not happen in the States. They are too concerned about Customer Service scores. At Sunflight Travel we tried to buy a ticket on Areoflot but the woman and Lena decided for me that I should not have a 7 hour lay over in the Moscow airport alone at night. The word she used translated in English literally to armour. She told Lena I would be "without armour for the night". So we have to wait for the Austrian Air lady to call us back. Lena said that is how business is done in Russia. OY!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Jokes from a friend

I got these from my friend Candra in Texas! I just could not resist...

A highway patrolman pulled alongside a speeding car on the freeway.
Glancing at the car, he was astounded to see that the blonde behind
the wheel was knitting!
Realizing that she was oblivious to his flashing lights and siren,
the trooper cranked down his window, turned on his bullhorn and yelled,
"NO!" the blonde yelled back,


Two blondes living in Oklahoma were sitting on a bench talking........and one blonde says to the other: "Which do you think is farther away...........Florida or the moon? "

The other blonde turns and says "Helloooooooooo, can you see Florida.......?????

woman walking a huge dog!
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who needs a cross walk?
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Tom walking home from market
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Nathan let me take his picture
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Makes no sense to me

Some things about this country defy reason. If I want hot water in the kitchen I have to turn on the hot water in the bathroom. In the house we rented last year it was flipped around. The hot water source was in the kitchen. I am making an attempt at baking right now. Only heaven knows how it will turn out. The oven does not have a temperature gauge. I brought an oven thermometer with me from the States. I started with the oven being too hot, 400 degrees. Then I turned it down a hair and it went to 200. I was aiming for 325! Now, I get to baby sit the oven to watch my bread so it does not burn. The oven had to be re-lit! There is never a dull moment here.

Well, the bread was edible but it fell in the middle. I got a chance to talk with my mother in law. She suggested adding more flour and trying to bake it at a higher temperature... like 350. I knew Mom would have an answer. She had to make adjustments with recipes when she moved to New Mexico.

The bread never made it past the guys in the house. I should have made a double batch. I had enough strawberries. I will try again.

We had pizza and french fries for dinner. Then we watched The Forgotten. It was pretty good. I liked the movies we watched last night better. We saw Osama and The Final Cut. Osama is a foreign film with English subtitles. It is excellent! Final cut is the one with Robin Williams where he edits the films of peoples lives. Really good too!

Monday, May 23, 2005

power lines for trolleybus
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trolleybus & newly constructed building in background
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Lena shopping at the Renoc
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