Tuesday, February 28, 2006
This is a funny movie. Our family just finished watching it this evening. It has Queen Latifah as Auntie Em, and Ashanti as Dorothy. We give it four thumbs up! The jokes are funny and the cameos are great. If you want some light entertainment this is a winner. Nathan liked Quentin Tarantino's and Kelly Osborne's cameos.
We also have Bewitched, Casa de Los Baby's, and Shopgirl. As soon as we get a chance to see each one we will let you know how we liked it.
At school Nathan, Spencer and I got a new lesson on remodeling! We are all to familiar with that topic. We got a very long Russian word and in Nathan's class he gave them a long English word.
Our Russian word is metala-plastik-ovwi. The English word that Nathan loves is antidisestablishmentarianism...."opposition to the disembling of the establishment"
Say that three times real fast!
Monday, February 27, 2006
We have all new employees at the post office so it was safe for me to show my face there. Noone who was working today saw my fit that I had the last time I was there. I walked in stood in line for about three minutes... got my package and left! Simple.
Tom spent an extra day at home today. He actually got up and took a shower but he couldn't make it to school. I took in the jewelry that he had made for different people. Madina finally has her clip on earrings and she was very happily suprised. Tom called her to let her know he was not coming into school but didn't tell her he was sending the jewelry.
Nathan's class got their assessments back. None of the students were talking much about how they rated. Nathan is classified verbally as Intermediate Low and his comprehension is at Intermediate High. We are very proud of him. He is doing excellent work at school, church and home!
Sunday, February 26, 2006
Saturday, February 25, 2006
I got out of bed to go and photograph a wedding. I took over 800 photos and I am sure there are a few decent ones in the bunch.
Spencer and I left the apartment at 9:15 so that we could be there by 10. We helped decorate three of the four cars. We met the mothers and the grandmothers before we saw the bride and groom. Of course everthing was traditional Russian. Which means it was an EVENT!
It was a smaller wedding than Valentin and Sveta's. It was very elegant and intimate. Natasha is a translator for the BLTC. She has translated for Tom when he has spoken at church. Dima also speaks English. Natasha and Dima will take a week off from working this week and then will honeymoon in Europe this summer. She originally did not want to be a winter bride but Dima wanted a winter wedding. It was not easy photographing the white on white but it was a beautiful sight!
Friday, February 24, 2006
We went downtown to Krasnaya Street to a store called Paparazzi. This store defined customer service for me today. I showed them my battery and told them what I wanted. The saleswoman looked at it and told the guy who was helping me to call the other store to see if they had the battery. He phoned and discovered that they had it.
They told me that I needed to go over to the Media Center. I simply said “I don’t know where that is”. The guy mentioned a marshutka that would take me there. But, the woman called a taxi instead and then PAID for it! She escorted Nathan and I to the taxi and thanked us! The taxi driver took us to the front of the Media Center and dropped us off. We walked right in and went straight to the store. Before the guy let me buy it he tried it out in my camera first.
Royal treatment over a 24-dollar purchase!
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
The Pancake Day - February 27 till the beginning of March: It is a holiday of ancient Slavs in honor to east pagan God of fertility (Vles). It is a holiday of farewell to the winter and welcome to the spring. The Orthodox Church considers the Pancake Day to be a Christian holiday the so-called cheese week. It is previous to the Fast and it is celebrated 7 weeks before Easter. It is a merry folk holiday when old rubbish or hey scarecrow is burnt. Most people put on skins of animals and soil their faces with soot to drive away wicked spirits.
To see a full list of Holidays go here: http://www.flowers2moscow.com/Russian_Holidays.shtml
Yesterday Olya asked to be paid early so that she could get a gift for her husband today. There is no Mother's Day or Father's Day here. So Men's Day and Women's have to fill the gap!
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
I stayed up late watching the Olympics and it has been fun to know things before you find out in America. Italy is only two hours ahead of us so we have seen some events live. I really enjoyed watching Shani Davis win his gold medal. Spencer was asking about being a speed skater... I wish there was a rink around for him to be able to skate again.
Thanks Joanie, for sending the paper. Tom was excited to take a new notebook to school today. We are so grateful for those of you who help us out in such practical ways!
Monday, February 20, 2006
Spencer and Olya tackled his room today. He was not feeling well so he didn't go to school. Since he was home Olya started asking him "is this clean" " is this trash" and after about an hour of that his room was clean!
Nathan and I were allowed to sleep. My back was hurting and Nathan has a sore throat. Only Tom made it out the door this morning!
We are all waiting to find out what homework we have and if the results from our assessment are in.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
When SpiderMan was over Nathan showed Fraggle Rock to the girls. Kaylynn and Becca had not ever seen it before. Nathan let them take it home. We gave Bill the movie Munich. It is an intense movie put out by Speilberg on the aftermath of the Isreali team being taken hostage and killed at the 1972 Olimpics.
Andrew came in when Judi and I were cleaning up my kitchen. He was trying to get us to tell him if we were going to make dessert or not! He finally just came out and told his mom what he wanted. So I made a batch of blonde brownies. They were a big hit. I am sure that my mother in law never dreamed that her brownies would become so famous!
The new family that we met have the same names as my Aunt and Uncle. They are Betty and Charles. Tom and I are going to have to work hard not to call him Chuck like my uncle... I just hope I don't start calling him Uncle Chuck!
Saturday, February 18, 2006
Everyone has finished their assessments now. Tom came home and said that he did well answering all of Tania's questions and he only had to asked her once to repeat something. The interview is completely in Russian. She will introduce herself to you and pretend that she doesn't speak English. You have to answer her questions and tell her about yourself and your life here in Russia. She wants to know what level of comprehension and communication you are at. We each had our little flubs but that doesn't matter. I can tell on myself and say that when I was given the chance to ask her a question I was trying to ask if her mother had a country home. I added one letter to the beginning of the word so instead of saying country home (dacha) I said 'zdacha' which is change. I asked her if her mother had change! Oh well, she just smiled and answered my question.
Olya's mother had a birthday yesterday and Olya's present was to tell her mother that she was expecting another baby! We found out a full month ago but were not allowed to say anything until after the birthday! Olya is doing very well and is still going to work for us through the pregnancy.
Sveta, Valentin's wife, is also expecting. She has had a hard time with morning sickness and was hospitalised many times because she was not eating.
We have another wedding coming up next weekend and I will take pictures for them. We are excited for Natasha. She is the woman who translates for Tom when he speaks. Our family has been asked to come up with some skits to perform at the reception... I don't know if Krasnodar is ready for this!
Friday, February 17, 2006
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Spencer and I were able to get the written part of the assessment done today. I also did my interview. And like Nathan... she said I was amazing! When our family first met Tania, the school's director, most of us did not even know the alphabet.
From our group Spencer and Judi H. still need to do the interview. Tania had a crisis with a student and had to go attend to that. Please pray for our fellow classmates. There is a couple that is trying to adopt two children. They have invested thousands of dollars that were raised just for the adoption and there is a person here who is trying very hard to block the adoption. Our teachers and the Director of the School care about every aspect of our lives and they have been very supportive of the adoption. We are praying that the court will hear the people who are willing to speak up for this couple!
We are grateful for our language helper and to our teachers. We are grateful for our Russian friends who really want to communicate with us and want us to learn this language.
Tom is still sore from his fall yesterday but he is up and walking around. He is planning to go in to school tomorrow for his assessment.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
After the rest of us finished our session with Lena we watched the DVD of me performing. Lena wanted to watch it so we talked about how many different languages I had to sing in and about Erin still performing. She asked me if I dreamed of singing professionally. And as always the answer is still no. I know how hard it is to keep a voice in shape and I have fun when I sing now and then but I would not want it to be a job.
Tomorrow, Spencer and I have our assessments. We have to be at school at 9am. Last week I was feeling nervous about it. This week I am just ready to get it over with. I am not competing against anyone but myself. If I am still speaking at the same level next year then that would be a problem! Last year when we got here we could only say "may I" and point at what we wanted. Now we can ask for specific items by name when we shop. Now we can translate simple things for our friends. Now we can spend an entire evening with Lena and Alexei and not need the dictionary! No matter whether the assessment shows that I am a novice or intermediate... I am still able to communicate with friends and keep our family fed!
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Since we come from Kansas we happen to love Sunflowers... however if you mentioned wanting some as a gift Russians will laugh at you. Sunflowers are food. Why would you ask for someone to buy you some food for Valentines Day or for your birthday?
Today we watched home movies of the boys with Lena. She actually understood some of the English. She enjoyed seeing the boys when they were little (my-len-kee) She was not having the best Valentine's Day. Her Valentine is in Moscow teaching at a Seminar.
Tom took jewelry to school yesterday and again today. He sold quite a bit. Someone bought bracelets to give to the teachers.
Some of the women picked out what they wanted and then their husbands had to ask "what did I give you?" Just like in America...
Monday, February 13, 2006
Yesterday we kept hearing the commentator say "в этом году". This phrase is pronounced "V-etom Ga-doo". I kept hearing it as Vetom Gadoo. I couldn't find the word Vetom in the dictionary. I finally realised the context and it dawned on me what it meant. V=in, etom=that, and finally gadoo=year (in Accusative case). "In That Year!" Duh! you cannot find vetom in the dictionary because it is not a word...
We do this in English too. We often say things very fast and it is as if the words are one. For example how do you say "I can do that for you"? If you say it at a normal speaking pace "for you" sounds like one word. Just remember when you speak with someone for whom English is not their first language... you don't need to talk louder just slower! Our friends like the way Tom and I speak English. We speak slower and more distinctly when we have to use English here. We know that people are listening who are trying to learn.
As we watch the Olympics we find ourselves not knowing who to always route for... when the Russian women played the Canadian women we cheered for Canada. Mich (michelle) is Canadian and besides the score was 12-0! When Russia was against the Chinese in pairs figure skating we were cheering for Russia. But, when America was snowboarding it was America all the way!!!
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Judi got a call from Jim C. after the movie was over. He needed to stop by for a minute. Judi told him to come on over but also warned him that the kids were all out playing in the snow. The kids go from ages 4-15. Jim came over prepared... he showed up with snowballs already made and nailed Spencer (15) and Andrew (12) as he came around the corner! They kids came in laughing and soaking wet.... Andrew said Jim put snow down his clothes. I am thinking the biggest kid out there was Jim!
Friday, February 10, 2006
It is Friday morning and the snow is still coming down here. We never expected to be living in a climate like this. We were told how much it normally rains in the winter here. This is the most snow that they have had in many years. When we were in New Mexico last year the snow fell there in record amounts too.
Maybe the snow likes us? Maybe it was getting us ready for Krasnodar?
We have friends in California who have been affected by fires and earthquakes... friends in Kansas who still have memories of the damage of past tornados. No matter where we live in this world we will have to contend with nature!
Spencer is off bowling with a friend, Nathan is playing video games in his room, Tom is still sleeping (his favorite past time) and I woke up at 8:30 and could not get back to sleep. Noone has anything that has to be done today so it will be interesting to see what the day holds... maybe movies, popcorn and hot chocolate!
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Ths snow came down feeling more like pins and needles than soft dewy snowflakes. It was sleet. Rain and snow is not a fun combination to walk in. Some how we got to school with our faces in tact. It felt like having someone scratch at ones face!
I found this photo on a Moscow News site!
Nathan had his assessment today. He was very pleased with how it came out. Spencer and I are scheduled for next week. We also have a review next week of lessons 25-30. It is great that time has past by so quickly.
Last night Valodya and Roma came by to talk over some prayer needs and requests of the church. Valodya brought his youngest daughter with him because she speaks English and he wanted her to translate. Once everyone was seated she realised how tired she was. She had travelled to Moscow last week with her dad to work for him there. She was so happy that Tom and I were able to understand the conversation. She kept leaning over to to tell Nathan she was surprised with how well his parents understood. We aren't doing bad for being adult learners! It is much easier to understand what is being said than to actually respond. But, we do have the ability to respond in simple sentences. Complex sentences are still hard to put together. Russian words and pattern of speaking do not lend themselves very well to English grammatical construction!
As they were leaving Valodya said "like in America, bye!" He and his wife are now studying English at the BLTC. He was practicing the English words that he knew and seemed to be having fun with it. It must help to see all of us struggle with new skills at our age and he and his wife Lena decided to join in and just talk with out fear. If someone speaks to us in English we still answer as best we can in Russian. It is the only way to ensure that everyone gets the practice that they need with language skills!
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
It is time for us to have our language skills assessed.
We are doing small reviews to help us prepare. Nathan is going first. His test is tomorrow. Spencer and I will go in next week. The course at the language school is 125 lessons long. Our class just got Lesson 30 today. Students are first assessed somewhere between lesson 25-30.
Lesson 30 is very interesting. We are learning the names and the different titles for each type of believer. Such as Hari Krishna, Moslem or Buddist. We have a new list of verbs and adjectives to learn and we just got the phrase "it seems to me"!
The assessment will determine whether we are at one of the following levels:
Each level has specific requirements. It is hard to determine where each of us will fall. So let the testing begin!
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Pranksters in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar altered the looks of a Lenin statue by pulling a halloween-type rubber mask like that used in the horror movie Scream over the revolutionary’s face.The monument’s head is about five meters above the ground, the NTV television channel noted.Krasnodar police presume the mask was placed on the statue overnight when there was nobody around.A lot of people gathered in the park where the monument is situated to look at the Communist Party leader in the killer’s mask, the channel added.
As for our day had a fun taxi driver. He was in a great mood despite all the snow on the roads. In the taxi was Mich, Tom, Nathan and me. A man opened Tom's door when we stopped at the intersection and asked if the driver was free... excuse me? Tom is sitting right there! The rest of us were in the back seat. The driver told him he had passengers right now. The man said "oh, I'm sorry, my vision is bad" when the door shut the driver busted out laughing.
As we were creeping along the street at one point the driver opened the window and said to another taxi driver "how's work?". It is odd how many people seem to just love the snow and are so happy out there. While others can be extra grumpy.
The majority of us made it to school today so classes were held. Tania was in the breakroom with us today. She said that she measured the snow on the table in front of the school and it was two feet high. Yes, we have two feet of snow out there. And when she did the measurement the snow was still falling!
Monday, February 06, 2006
Once again Spencer and I have Madina as our teacher! We are pretty happy about it. Madina is a very thorough teacher and gives great handouts. Today she gave us a model for prayer that she made up. She assigned us each a day to pray. Spencer is praying tomorrow, me on Wednesday and Michelle on Thursday and Janet next Monday. Bill is in Moscow. I think he had to go to the doctor. He was having some ringing in his ears.
Nathan has Arina and he is excited. I really enjoyed having her. She is trying to increase her English skills and will ask how to say or spell things when she needs the answers. Tom has Goar. Goar will challenge your Russian vocabulary and in my opinion she helps you actually learn to ask questions in Russian. Her English is not as good so if you ask in Russian she really understands how to help you. She is also an excellent teacher. She is very thorough with Russian grammer for each new lesson.
Today the talk was about the Superbowl in the breakroom. Iris was the one and only woman who stayed up and watched the game. Go Iris! For the guys it was Mike and Robert. The game started here at 2AM. Robert made a copy for those who want to see it at a more decent hour!
I was glad to hear that there were no Wardrobe Malfunctions this year! One classmate made a comment about Janet... as in Jackson. But, all Janet heard was her name so she threw something at him. I am sure it hurt cuz Janet is a very strong and athletic woman!
O, my goodness, I don't know how I could forget to tell this story... yesterday as we were walking over to Lena and Alexei's house we saw a trolleybus stop at the corner, a bag came flying out and then a dog stepped off. I guess he must have misbehaved on the bus!
Sunday, February 05, 2006
We went to Kovchek Baptist Church today. It was a traditional Russian Baptist Church. Much like the one we were at in Ukraine. We decided to visit because Lena grew up Baptist and she wanted to see how the services are conducted here. It was communion Sunday today.
They sang every verse of every hymn!
Fortunately only two pastors spoke today. Traditionally there would be three. But, since we had communion they only had two.
We got to see Vika and Arina at church today. Vika works in the Preschool at the Language School. And Arina is a teacher. They both sang in the choir at Kovchek. Vika sang a solo and it was beautiful!
Natasha came over and greeted me with kisses. That is also traditional in the Baptist churches here. Women kiss women and men kiss men. Most people were kissing on the mouth.
Natasha was looking forward to us coming. She is Bill and Judi's nanny. And we were able to let her know we were planning a visit when we were with them on Friday. Natasha's father is one of the pastors at Kovchek.
At the end of February we will visit Befania Church. (Bethany Church) It is a charasmatic church and we have heard great things about the music over there. I have a few of the CD's from their worship team and they are fantastic. If they were singing in English you would think it was our church back home in Capo Beach!
Saturday, February 04, 2006
· Rocket commander fined and banned for three years · Concern grows over abuse and beating of conscriptsNick Paton Walsh in MoscowFriday February 3, 2006
GuardianThe Russian military was facing growing public anger yesterday when, amid a flurry of high-profile cases of abuse, a senior officer was convicted of hiring his troops out as slave labour and pocketing the fees.
A Russian military court fined Vladimir Kontonistov 60,000 roubles (£1,200) and barred him from command for three years. Prosecutors said the sentence was too lenient and said they would appeal.
Kontonistov was deputy commander of a division of the Strategic Rocket Forces in Siberia's Novosibirsk region, a unit that services Russia's nuclear missiles. He hired out his troops to local businesses, according to Interfax news agency, a practice believed to be commonplace in an army in which poorly paid officers say they have to find ways to supplement meagre incomes.
The case came amid growing public disgust over the fate of Andrei Sychev, a 19-year-old conscript at a tank academy in the eastern town of Chelyabinsk. He was reportedly beaten and tortured by his superior officers during a drunken rage on New Year's Eve, during which he was tied to a chair and repeatedly hit. He did not receive medical treatment for several days, by which time gangrene had set in, forcing doctors to amputate his legs, genitals and fingers. He was taken off a ventilator only on Monday.
The defence minister, Sergei Ivanov, a confidant of President Vladimir Putin and tipped as a possible successor, was criticised for playing down the incident at first. An outcry by civil society groups led to calls for Mr Ivanov's resignation, and protests outside the ministry of defence on Saturday.
This forced the minister to act, sacking the head of the academy and pushing through an investigation that has led to criminal cases being opened against 12 servicemen.
Mr Putin called the incident "horrible" and last week ordered Mr Ivanov to conduct a wide review of the "educational work" of the military. He also gave the boy's family a flat. The local administration has awarded the family £10,000 in aid and Moscow's media now carry the details of a bank account to which the public can send contributions. Russian state doctors have said they can operate on him to restore his genitals.
The cases have drawn attention once again to the wretched conditions suffered by military conscripts. All Russian men are supposed to serve two years in the military between the ages of 18 and 28. Reports of brutal initiation ceremonies and bullying are common.
The media reported 10 serious incidents in the past 24 hours. In one case, Yevgeny Koblov, a soldier serving in Khabarovsk in the Russian far east, was heavily beaten in May last year, but lay in a basement for 24 days before receiving medical treatment. He may also have to have his legs amputated, as may another conscript from Ekaterinberg who reportedly has similarly serious leg injuries.
In an attempt to confront one of the most unpopular issues in Russian society, the Kremlin has pledged to reduce the length of service to 12 months.
While few are now sent to serve in the violent North Caucasus, near Chechnya, it is estimated that hundreds die each year through accidents or through the ritualistic bullying inflicted by superior officers. Forty-six soldiers died of non-combat injuries in one week alone last year.
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006
Friday, February 03, 2006
It was enjoyable talking with the children. They all asked if their finished products were beautiful. Don't we all need to be affirmed?!
After being at the Orphanage we all went to Bill and Judy's house for dinner and dominoes. One of the pizzas they ordered had mayonaise, cucumbers and tomatoes on it. It is not a traditional Russian pizza. We said it was strange for American pizza to be made that way. Natasha, their nanny, said it was strange for Russia too!
We played four games of dominos. The person to the right of the dealer won three consecutive times! The final game we played took a looong time to complete. The rule is if you forget to tap your domino to signal that you have only one left then you have to draw again. Well, I think it happened to Judy 3 times and then to Bill and me two times and to Mike once. Finally, Andrew, who had been giving Kathy a hard time all night WON the game!
Before we ate dinner I had asked everyone to pray for Nathan. He has his youth group meeting on Friday nights and he had decided that he wanted to pray tonight at the beginning of the meeting in Russian. Lesson 28 is on prayer. We have been learning all week how to pray in Russian. Lena had Nathan write out his prayer to be prepared ahead of time. He said it went very well. Nathan speaks Russian very well and very fast. I am not suprised that he is the first one of us to pray in Russian in public!
Tom had a night all to himself. I sent him a text message to let him know where Spencer and I were. He wrote me back saying that he had just gotten up from a nap and was getting ready to eat dinner! It was after 8PM then.
If anyone is interested in having their child correspond with a child here please send the letters to us. I will take them to the orphanage and have the children write back. Some of them are learning English and it would be good practice to have them write letters! We hope to find many participants. Please spread the word! This is a transitional house so the kids come and go. Their ages go all the way to 17.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Today was Janet's birthday. The women from school all went out to lunch. We went to a fun place called Prima Vera. It is amazing that we have an Italian restaurant here in Russia. The food was really great. The only people that got a suprise when their food arrived were Mary and Michelle. They ordered a Marinara pizza. Should be something with a great sauce, right? It was Marinara as in marine! It came with shrimp, calamari, mussels, squid, and some other things we were not quite sure of.
Yesterday, Lena and I went to the hospital to visit Anya. She is Sasha's daughter from the Rehab center. Her baby was born 5 days ago and he has pneumonia. I didn't do much there. I just listened to her and let her know that Nathan had the same problem as a baby. She was relieved to hear that. We prayed with her before we left. We tried to go back and see her today. But, when we got there we found out that she was already at home. The baby is still in the hospital. Please pray for him. His name is Timothy.
I had a talk with Nellie about my social project. I am going to start a new job; working at the orphanage. Hopefully, that will be a better match. Tamara was a difficult person to work with. No matter what I had prepared she was not happy. The children were thrilled but she was not. I was trying to stick it out because I told Nathan we need to learn how to work with difficult people. I am grateful for the answer to prayer. Nathan will go with his Dad and I will go with Spencer... hopefully that will work out!
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
I finally found the Russian word!
сурок лесной североамериканский
surok lesnoy severo-amerikanski
We got on this topic because tomorrow is Janet's birthday. Feb 2, Groundhog's Day. It is also Debbie H.'s birthday in California. Happy Birthday ladies! GP, I hope you do something nice for your mom! http://www.groundhog.org/
Tom went to school today and didn't look good. Three people tried to send him home. First Madina, then Kathy and then Ann. Madina- the teacher, Kathy- the nurse and Ann- the mom. But, noone was successful! He stuck it out for the day.
I shared our recent shipment of green chiles with the Texans. They all got excited. I even gave one to Janet. Evidently they like spicy food in Kentucky too!
My text messaging feature on my phone was not working. I took my phone over to the store and asked why. The gal over there had me change my phone language to Russian and then still needed my help finding where something was located on my phone. Oy! Talk about a language lesson. I should have taken notes because when I tried to show it to Nathan I couldn't because by then I had already changed the language back to English. Anyway it works again... so if you have my cell number I can recieve text messages now!
Tom's new lesson is on furniture and the rest of us are learning to pray. We are going to be assessed in a few weeks. So there is a chance classes will change again. I am not sure. Two of the classes are on the same lesson. Only one is a few lessons behind. We have a written test to take and then will have a verbal interview. It should be interesting to see the results!