Monday, July 31, 2006

ummm.... thanks Ed!


four of a kind!


Alexei celebrates 8 years of sobriety!


I got an email from Ed in California. Hi Ed!

He sent a link to some photos he took of Tom and Alexei. It looks like the guys are having a little too much fun while they are away.

Tom called tonight for Alexei to speak with Lena. It was the first time the two of them had spoken since Alexei left. It was good to see how happy she was after the phone call. I told her that we would arrange another phone time with the guys before they come home.

The painting above the guys heads is one of our favorites. Tom and I have a copy of this painting in storage. You can learn more about this version of the Lord's Supper and the artist, Hyatt Moore here:
http://www.hyattmoore.com/store/?section=1&productline=1



Sunday, July 30, 2006

passport control

I spent a full hour standing in line at passport control in Krasnodar. I am grateful for Tim Watson coming to pick me up at 4:30. Our plane landed at 4:ooam but it took so long to clear passport control I didn't even see Tim until 5:10 or so.

People were tired and cranky standing in that line. It was comical to hear them yelling at the passport control officers. They were saying things like. "There are no terrorists out here!" "This is not Dagestan!" "Do any of us look like terrorists... is she a terrorist? is he a terrorist? What about the babies...are they terrorists?!"

The plane had a large group of teenagers on it. They were taking a long time to process since each of them had a passport and a document that gave them permission to travel and the paperwork had to be looked over.


My greatest point of frustration during the whole night was actually in Vienna. My knitting needles were confiscated! I had to take the scarf I was making off the needles and leave them with her. I know all you knitters are saying that is why I should have had a stitch holder with me... yeah, well I forgot. I have read about people who mail their projects home to themselves or who pack their knitting and don't take it in the carry on. But, I didn't do any of those things. I was in shock over the fact that you can fly out of Russia with knitting needles but you cannot fly in with them. Interestingly, they didn't seem to mind the sewing needles in my purse. Just the knitting needles were a danger to the other passengers! I did have my crochet hook with me and I was so mad that I crocheted a hat on the leg from Vienna to Krasnodar! That will show them...

Nathan and Spencer had the entire apartment cleaned up and looking great. I was imagining half eaten pizza everywhere! There was a sign to greet me and on my pillow there was a bottle of peach flavored tea and a bag of sourcream and onion chips. These guys are going to be great husbands. They are very thoughtful!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

going home

I don't have much time left here. I have to get my bags packed and catch the train to the airport in the morning. So be in prayer for me as I travel and as Tom and Alexei travel as well.

Oh and Tom sent me an email saying that he and Alexei had a great time at Wal-Mart... Alexei loved it there!

4:35 am

I leave tomorrow to go back to Russia. I am looking forward to the creature comforts I left behind. My own bed, our DVD and video collection, all my yarn! However, I am not looking forward to getting off the plane at 4:35 am Monday morning, getting whatever sleep I can and then going to school the very next day. It is a good thing that Spencer and I will not resume his homeschooling until September.

Tom and Alexei have a travel day also. They will be taking the train from California and traveling to New Mexico. His parents will then go with them to Texas and Kansas. Tom is glad for the help driving. It would have been a long haul for him with out having Mom and Dad help out.

I finally heard from Nathan why Spencer was not answering my emails. His internet card ran out. I was going to ask Judi H. to tell my son to stay home long enough to answer his mother's emails but that plan won't work without him having an internet card!

Tim and Joy have friends who read this blog so I will publically say "thanks so much!" for being willing to come and get me from the airport at 4:35 am. Especially since Tim is leaving for Ukraine later that day.

Hezbollah not on Russia's Terror List

I don't usually post two news articles in a row... but news happens and this story is one that I thought was worthy of posting.

Hezbollah not on Russia's terrorist list
By HENRY MEYER, Associated Press Writer
Fri Jul 28, 7:45 PM ET



Russia on Friday published a list of 17 groups it regards as terrorist organizations, but did not include the Palestinian militant movement Hamas or Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrilla group, both regarded as terrorists in Washington.

Separately, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Hezbollah must have a say in any agreements in the Middle East crisis, Russian news agencies reported — another sign of differences between Russia and the United States about the region.

"Any agreements must be coordinated with all the basic forces in Lebanon, including Hezbollah, as an organization that is represented in the parliament and government of Lebanon," RIA-Novosti reported quoted Lavrov as saying on a plane returning from an Asian security meeting in Malaysia. Hezbollah has 11 members in Lebanon's 128-seat parliament, and two Cabinet ministers.

The terrorist list, published in the official daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta, included al-Qaida and the Taliban as well as the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, a rebel group fighting for Kashmir's independence from India, and Egypt's banned Muslim Brotherhood.

The Russian Federal Security Service's top official in charge of fighting international terrorism, Yuri Sapunov, said Hamas and Hezbollah were not a major threat to Russia and were not regarded as terrorist groups worldwide.

But he said Russian security agencies took account of international lists of terrorist groups when exchanging intelligence with foreign counterparts.

Sapunov told Rossiiskaya Gazeta the list of 17 "includes only those organizations which represent the greatest threat to the security of our country." Groups linked to separatist militants in Chechnya and Islamic radicals in Central Asia made the list.

Russia has come under criticism for its refusal to list Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations.

Israel is now fighting a ground and air war in Lebanon against Hezbollah guerrillas, who are firing rockets into northern Israel. Israeli forces have also attacked the Gaza Strip to target Hamas militants. Russia has criticized the scale of the Israeli offensive, while the United States has blamed Hezbollah for the violence.

President Vladimir Putin earlier this year provoked U.S. and Israeli anger by inviting leaders of Hamas to Moscow shortly after their January election victory. The meeting made no progress in softening the group's refusal to recognize Israel's right to exist or foreswear violence.

Lavrov's reported comment about Hezbollah echoed the arguments Russian officials made for inviting Hamas leaders, when they said that they were dealing with Hamas as an entity that had just come to power in elections.

Lavrov said that Russia's support for a Hezbollah role in decision-making in the Mideast crisis was shared by European countries and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, adding: "As for support from the Americans for this position, I have no such information," RIA-Novosti reported.

The European Union considers Hamas a terrorist organization and along with the United States slapped financial sanctions on the new Hamas-led government. But it does not list Hezbollah as a terrorist group.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Russian Rocket Crash


Photo from www.lenta.ru

Russian Rocket With 18 Satellites Crashes After Launch


MosNews



A Russian rocket carrying 18 satellites crashed shortly after blasting off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan late Wednesday, the Federal Space Agency said early Thursday. According to the Xinhua news agency the Dnepr carrier rocket with the satellites, which belonged respectively to Russia, Belarus, Italy and the United States, crashed 25 km south of the Baikonur launch pad, a piece of land on the northern Kazakh steppe that Russia leases to launch its spacecraft, Yury Nosenko, deputy head of the Federal Space Agency, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying. No damage or injuries were caused on the ground, he said. “An emergency shutdown of the engines occurred 86 seconds into the flight,” a spokesman of the Mission Control outside Moscow said. Nosenko said the first stage of the rocket failed to separate on time and “that is why the engine was shut down in the emergency mode.” The crash dealt yet another blow to Russia’s space program, which has suffered a series of mishaps since last year. Interfax also reported that Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko traveled to Baikonur to witness the launch of his country’s first satellite, the Belka, which was onboard the Dnepr rocket.

His reaction to the crash was not reported.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Happy birthday!

In Italy:
Today is Erin's 30th birthday. And she is performing tonight! Tomorrow we will have a dinner party but tonight the show must go on!


In America:
an email excerpt...

Alexei & I went to the post office in Santa Ana, so he could experience an American Post Office. Then we went to South Coast Plaza where I got my watch battery replaced after 7 months of it being dead!! We ate at McDonald's (his very first time!) & he liked it. He was amazed at how quickly people were served & got their food. We then bought shoes at Shoe Pavillion. He & I have matching pairs of tennis shoes (he will use his for riding his bicycle, & I will use mine to walk in.


In Russia:
I have not heard from the boys today and that means things are going well... right? Yeah, that is what I will tell myself!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Look out!

In the US:
Tom was able to borrow a truck from Gordon and JeanneMarie. He is out driving around now in Southern California so lookout!

He spoke at the Bridge. I have not heard how that went since Tom sent the email about speaking before it actually took place. DaveHickman, Tom Sharp and Alexei Parhomenka all in one place? Have mercy!

In Russia:
I received a text message from Judi H. telling me that school starts on Tuesday for her and I. I am not excited. For some reason I thought I would have a week to recover once I get home. This month has been one of the most difficult ones to endure. Two family deaths and some friends of ours are going through a difficult time right now. It is overwhelming.

In Italy:
I found two all English bookstores.
There is the Anglo American Bookshop and the Lion Bookshop and Cafe. Both are not far from the Spanish Steps. Which is not far from Rome Baptist Church. I didn't purchase any books yet... I cannot decide what I cannot live without!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Celebrity Sighting in San Clemente!


THIS JUST IN FROM TOM!!!

Excerpt from this mornings email:

Lisa had to pick up an ear-bud set for her telephone at Cingular store. We went to the one here in San Clemente. It was there that we had our first 'celebrity sighting!'

In walked....'Hurley' from Lost!! He needed something for his phone. Lisa & I spotted him at the same time. (He's taller than I am & wider, too! He's really big.) Lisa said she wanted to talk to him but wouldn't go over to him. I just walked up to him & said, "Excuse me. Could I bother you a minute?" He said 'yeah' & I said, "My family & I moved to Russia a year & a half ago, & the thing that we HAVE to have sent to us to help us cope w/ the cultural stress is episodes of 'Lost.' We're really big fans of the show, love your work & thank you for what you do." He smiled & said, "We were supposed to go over to Russia to promote the show, but the Russian tv station didn't have enough money to bring us over." I told him in was on in Russian & we still asked for English language copies. Keep up the great work." He said 'thanks' & I walked away. It was great; Lisa couldn't stop talking about our 'Hurley' sighting the rest of the day!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Update on the American Tour

Tom and Alexei are on the move. They have left Simi Valley and are now down in the Dana Point area.

Here is an excerpt from Tom's latest email... sorry, I edited all the mushy and personal stuff out!:

It was so good to see Chip & Joanne again!! There was only about 12 people at church - 6 to 8 people were on vacation. So it was very intimate & close. Chip did worship, which was good. Alexei sang a couple of songs in English. Chip gave him a cd of the worship music afterward.

Afterwards, Chip had the people come up & pray for Alexei & I. A guy who used to attend the Bridge when I taught is part of The Gathering. He recently got married last year, & shared how my teaching (esp. on boundaries) had really changed his life. It made him ready to get married again & now he's happy!

Then we all went out to lunch at Wahoo's. I had fish tacos & shrimp tacos. Alexei had steak tacos but didn't really like them. He said El Torito was better!

Then Chip & Jo drove us to the Russian church. The pastor recognized me & said he would give me some time to speak if I wanted it. (How can I pass that up?)

There was probably 125 people there, & we didn't have much time for people to pray outloud.
The pastor spoke, we sang in Russian, the youth had just returned from a camp in Kazakstan where they worked at a children's home. They did a panel & were interviewed by the youth pastor. Then they had a 30 minute video. Then an older guy got up & gave an evangelical message for about 5 minutes. Then the pastor called me up. Pastor said I had 2 minutes. I asked the pastor if he would translate for me, but he didn't need to translate any! (That was nice). Afterwards, several people from last time we were there came up to greet us. A older woman complemented me on my Russian & said our photo is up on her refrig & she prays everyday for us. (I believe her!) Vladimir, the pizza delivery guy from Raul & Christines was there & introduced me to his wife Sveta. She was very nice & had great English skills. She sends her greetings to you& the boys.

Tomorrow night we have dinner w/ Bruce & Kelle & their kids. I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

2 were baptized

I went back to Rome Baptist church again. There was a baptism today. There were two missionaries who are leaving for Thailand that were prayed over. There were some college kids that were leaving to go back to America after spending time here with Agape Italia.

The list of places the visitors were from today were:
Cameroon
Germany
Austria
Northern Ireland
Scotland
Ohio
Southern California

There was probably around 150 people there today. I could barely sing through all my tears after the baptism when the church began to sing Trust and Obey. That is the song that has been going through my head since we first felt the call to Russia. Today was the first time I have heard it sung since we began the process of moving.

In the USA:
Tom and Alexei endured 119 degrees in Simi Valley. He said it was a 110 in the shade! Tom is speaking today and then they will be attending the Russian church service this afternoon.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

swimming pools and movie stars

In the USA :

Tom and Alexei have not had a celebrity sighting but they are enjoying "American Food". Like, Chinese take out or a Mexican dinner. They are also enjoying staying at a home in Simi Valley with a pool. They have been out to see Auntie Martha. I am grateful that Tom is there for Martha right now. He was able to help her out in many ways. Kenneth and James also made it home. For anyone who has a family member in the military please know that leaving an emergency message with the Red Cross does work! Kenneth made it home from Iraq four days before the funeral.

In Russia:
Nathan and Spencer seem to be doing great. Spencer emailed me to say that he had a sore throat yesterday but he ate pizza and ice cream and it felt better.

Nathan is busy with cleaning out his room and watching Godzilla movies.

In Italy:
Erin and Rhianna were looking at Rhianna's photo album and Erin asked Rhianna "who is that?" Rhianna moved Erin's hand off the picture and actually made her point to me! "Ah-Dah!" What a smart little girl!

We mailed a package to a friend of mine in California from the Vatican post office. At first they were not going to do it because they didn't sell boxes there.
But, fortunately a cute little toddler (Rhianna) intervened and they were more than happy to help us out. Finding a box, wrapping up the contents with extra care and then making sure the postal worker sent it out properly!

I still have time to mail a few more postcards so send your address to my email:
alidasmail@juno.com

Friday, July 21, 2006

They made it!

I just received an email from Tom. Here is an excerpt of what he had to say about the trip so far:

Thanx for your prayers. Alexei & I are in Simi Valley, CA after our flight & enjoying the weather, food & people! We had an interesting flight as the flight crew had to 'take down' a rowdy drunken man. (It was neither Alexei or I!) They eventually tied him to his seat w/ pillowcases for the remaining 5 hours of the flight. Once we landed no one could leave until LAPD first came aboard, arrested & removed him. The rest of the flight was non-eventful!

Alexei's 1st impressions of the US/LA is that it's "very big, very clean, very beautiful & has more cars than he has seen in his lifetime!" He's taking pictures of the places we go to. He's been fascinated by the book of matches w/ the name of our hotel on it, how big & vast CA is, the variety of choices w/ everything, & how he can walk around w/o his passport or ID! A different kind of freedom.

Alexei & I are going to drive to Pomona today & try to visit Alida's Aunt Martha. Tonight & Fri we are staying w/ a woman from Pastor Dave's recovery church who is a LAPD detective. She has a pool & spa! We may try to go to the Reagan Library & Museum w/ Dave, or to the IMAX theater. It's very hot here, so staying indoors where it's airconditioned is best!

We ate Mexican food today at El Torito's!! It was very good. It wasn't as spicy as Alexei had thought it would be. He enjoyed it very much. Last night we went to Von's, Alexei's 1st time in an American grocery store. He's also fascinated w/ American tv. He's like a kid in a candy store when compared to what he's experienced in his life in Russia up to this.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I guess I am too old for this!

I just finished reading this news article. Although I found it very interesting I have realized that most of the blogs I read on a regular basis are written by older women. They are pastor's wives or women who knit and/or crochet. It is not only the young people who are blogging. I think it is gaining in popularity with the older crowd as well. However, when I have a technical problem... it's the 19 year old who comes to my rescue!



Survey: Bloggers are young internet users

Bloggers are a predominantly young group of Internet users who are novice storytellers, enjoy describing their own experiences and have a growing audience in the online world.
A glimpse of this group was put together by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.
The survey found that almost one in 10 Internet users are bloggers and the audience for this group of online diarists is growing. Almost four in 10 of the approximately 147 million adult Internet users in this country say they read blogs.

The people they are reading on the online blogs are a young, ethnically diverse group. They are mostly newcomers to writing — often writing about their own experiences. More than half of bloggers are under age 30. They were most likely to list their life and events as the most popular topic, followed by politics and entertainment.
The poll findings are based on a sample of 4,573 Internet users with a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points and a sample from a separate survey of 233 bloggers with a margin of error of plus or minus 7 percentage points.
___
On the Net:
Pew Internet & American Life Project
http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP%20Bloggers%20Report%20July%2019%202006.p

and they're off

Tom and Alexei left this morning. I heard from both Nathan and Spencer and it seems like they miss him already.

It was weird to not say good bye in person. Tom and I said goodbye through text messaging last night.

Pray that they have a safe trip. Pray for Nathan and Spencer as they live together for two weeks without parents. Pray for me as I am still grieving over the loss of my dear Uncle Fred.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Alexei and Tom

Alexei and Tom are leaving for the states tomorrow. Please pray for them as this is Alexei's first time on a plane since he began his sobriety. He is very nervous about the long flight to America.

Tom told me the wieght of Angelina... Valentin and Sveta's daughter. She weighs 3kilograms 600grams. If I calculated that right she weighs 7 lbs. 9ounces. She is a good size baby!

Nathan and Spencer are about to go it alone. Tom leaves tomorrow and I don't return until the 30th of July. Tom says that Lena will be coming by daily to check on them. Maybe they will ask Lena to stay with them since Alexei will be gone too. It is not as if they need her to babysit... maybe just to referee!

Monday, July 17, 2006

It's a girl!

I just heard from Nathan that Valentin and Sveta have had their baby. It is a precious little girl and they have named her Angelina. Mother and baby are fine. Nathan says they spoke with her on the phone this morning... Sveta that is, not the baby!

I guess since Valentin is our "son" that means that Tom and I are grandparents! Where did the time go?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

yah don't know what yah got till it's gone!

Worshiping in ones native tongue is not to be taken for granted. We have not been to an English speaking church serivce in over a year. Today I had the priviledge of attending Rome Baptist Church.

http://www.crossspot.net/rbc/aboutrbc.htm

It was a wonderful multi-cultural congregation. I saw all the racial colors of the rainbow around me! It was quite a poignant moment after the children's sermon... as the children were leaving we sang Jesus Loves the Little Children. The young ones truly represented the "red and yellow, black and white" from the song.

Pastor Dave and his wife Kathy are very personable and seem truly happy to see all the visitors. Afterwards I gave my visitor's card to Pastor Dave. I had written my address in Russian. He looked at it and cracked up laughing. He said "I guess if I want to write to you I will have to write your address this way, won't I?" He shook my hand and said "Pocka!" (bye!)as I was leaving.

If you ever get to Rome I hope you are able to attend Rome Baptist Church. The English speaking community of Rome will open up for you!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

WorldVenture


I was able to have dinner last night with the Halls. They are such a great couple. Janet gave me a description of Tim so that we could find each other when he picked me up at the metro station. She said he was "very tall". Boy is he ever! He was clearly the tallest man there. I walked straight to him and introduced myself.

They also had John from Senegal over for dinner too. We spent the evening talking about what is going on in Russia, Italy and Africa.

John and his family have been in Senegal since 1994. He is a teacher and his wife is kept quite busy with their five kids! John is studying here for the summer.

Janet is a food science and nutrition major so of course dinner was excellent! We enjoyed a traditional italian 6 course meal! They have been here in Italy since 1987.

Tim and Janet are on the European Leadership Team. So they know our Russian supervisors quite well. We talked about language learning, culture stress, transitions for teens when they go back to the states. They are a wealth of experience and information.

It was good to have an evening of fun and laughter after the news of Fred's death yesterday.

Friday, July 14, 2006

life...

I don't know exactly what to say or how to feel right now. Tom told me that my Uncle Fred has died. I called my Aunt Martha and she doesn't want me to come back.

This is just such a shock to our family. We have become very close with Martha and Fred over the years of living in California. They often took the boys when we needed to travel or for our family emergencies like when I had my gallbladder out. They had Nathan for a week when Spencer had his tonsils out. They acted as surrogate grandparents for the boys. The kids always came home with new toys after being with Martha and Fred!

Nathan is having a hard time. Spencer tells me he is doing better today than yesterday. Tom is still sad. I am numb.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Hoop - Hoop - Hooray!!

Coordinating Tom & Alexei's trip to America has been interesting over the past 5 months. After all, we have dealt with the mechanisms of two governments & other agencies, which all have their specific procedures & policies. At times it's been a learning experience, & at other times little more than what seems to be jumping thru hoops. Today Tom attempted to purchase their airline tickets even though Alexei is in Moscow for training. Along with Alexei is his passport & travel visa, both required for ticket purchase. Tom said a quick prayer & fortunately, the woman at the Aeroflot Airlines office in Krasnodar was extremely helpful & reserved the tickets for next Wednesdays flight!! Tom & Alexei will be wreaking havoc a day earlier in America than planned, however we're certain that they will have fun while visiting with many friends & family in the States!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Alexei gets his traveling papers!

I got a text message from Tom saying that Alexei was granted his visa to travel to America. I hope that all of you who will be seeing Tom and Alexei are ready for them. They are truly "brothers". They share the same sense of humor and it is uncanny how much alike they are. Here is your official warning:

"California, Kansas, New Mexico and Texas, LOOK OUT!!!"

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

celebrations

Italy celebrated the big World Cup win yesterday. The cars, the horns and the flags were all busy yesterday! All the commotion woke Rhianna up around midnight. Hopefully, they are finished but, who knows how long it will last!

Tom says they are still without hot water.

Valentin and Sveta's baby is due anyday.

Today is Olya's birthday and the guys have been invited over for the party.

Lena and her father stopped by. They had been visiting at her brother Vova's house.

Spencer got the chance to go over to Andrews again for pizza. I got a text message from Judi saying they were throwing caution to the wind and having pizza on a Monday. Normally, Spencer is there for pizza night on Friday!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Italy Wins!

The air horns started in with the first goal. It was a long game and a long night. The streets were packed after the game. Many people had their kids out and were waving flags, singing songs and taking pictures late into the night. No rioting though and that was a blessing.

Tom and I "watched" the game together keeping in touch through text messaging. Zidane's head butt was the talk of the night.



The guys got the electicity back on and were very happy. They went for 32 hours without it. We are grateful that Ervand was able to take care of it! And it was nice that Tom and I could enjoy the game together.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

F is for Cold

When making an attempt to turn on the water in Italy just remember that the F is for Cold. Otherwise you will burn your hand and that is no fun.
Let's just say I have some personal experience to draw from!

They guys have been without electricity since yesterday. So if you sent an email to one of the guys they cannot retrieve it yet. As of about an hour ago they were still working on it! There appears to be a short in the wires going into our apartment.

Slavic could not fix it. So Ervand was called. He wanted an electrician but it was a Saturday and no one was available. Tom said that Olya's girlfriend's boyfriend was not available to come over either! The last text message I got from Tom said that Ervand thought he knew what was wrong and was off to the reenock to get the parts he needed.

They went to the store yesterday and stocked up and candles and flashlights.

Tonight is the final game for the World Cup. The landlord for the apartment we are staying in has invited us over to watch the game with his family. Pandemonium will break loose if they win... I am not sure what will happen if they don't. Either way it will be a long night. I have already seen people out on the street with large Italian flags getting ready for the big game!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

just hanging around

I have not done any sightseeing here in Rome like I did last year. I spend the time with Rhianna. I am grateful for the chance to bond with her and trying not to think of how long it will be before I see her and Erin again when this trip is over. I am working on "staying in today" like Tom always says.

I received an email from Janet, also with WorldVenture, here in Rome. Hopefully, I will be able to make it to dinner with them on the 14th. There is another WorldVenture person here from Senegal and we are both scheduled for the same evening. It should be an interesting discussion to find out about what WorldVenture is doing in different parts of the world!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Vladimir Putin explains Kiss


Russian president explains kiss
Thu Jul 6, 7:28 PM ET
In between answering questions Thursday about North Korea's missiles, Iran's nuclear program and relations with the United States, Russian President Vladimir Putin answered what was for many observers a more burning question: What compelled him to kiss the bare stomach of a young boy in a Kremlin courtyard?
Footage of the June 28 incident was broadcast on all Russian television stations. It quickly became fodder for Internet chat rooms and topped the Moscow tabloids the day after. The question was one of the most popular among the thousands e-mailed in for a live Kremlin Internet conference carried on the British Broadcasting Corp. Web site and a Russian site.
In the footage, Putin, 53, is shown walking up to a small crowd of tourists in a Kremlin courtyard and crouching down in front of the boy, who appears to be five or six years old. As the Russian president talks with Nikita for several seconds, he tugs at the boy's shirt before finally lifting it up and kissing him on his bare stomach.
"He seemed to me very independent, very serious, but at the same time a boy is always vulnerable. He was very sweet. I'll be honest, I felt an urge to squeeze him like a kitten and that led to the gesture that I made. There was nothing behind it really," Putin said, smiling.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

at least ten times


How many times have you read the book Goodnight Moon?

I think after Rhianna's nap I read it at least ten times. I am reminded of when our boys where young and they wanted to be read to over and over again.

I guess as adults we do the same thing. We look for what is familiar and comforting and ask for it over and over again. It doesn't matter how many times I drink peach flavored tea or eat McDonalds french fries... they never fail to satisfy me.

I heard from all my guys by text message today. Tom purchased a fan for our bedroom. He said he thought it was "cool!". Spencer has been writing me in Russian so I don't forget. It is amazing how much it helps to read his text messages.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

no sleep last night


Italy beat Germany 2-0 in extra time last night. Erin, James and I were up late talking and all of a sudden we heard stamping on the floor and screams coming from the apartment above us. Then the noise in the street started. Cars with flag bearers went up and down the street. Then a crowd started to gather. Scooters, motocycles, cars and people on foot filled up the street in front of our building and stayed there all night.

I wonder what will happen if they win the World Cup?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

happy 4th of July!


We hope that everyone is enjoying their holiday.

Alonna, Vasa and Dionna left today. Vasa is traveling back to Dahgestan. And Alonna went to stay with another woman whose husband is also traveling.

I am sure that Nathan is relieved to have his room back!

Please keep Tom and the Sharp family in your prayers. His nephew Kristopher just recently passed away. This is the first family death since our move and it is difficult to not be there to support everyone.

Monday, July 03, 2006

The subway

The subway is not my favorite place to be. I am cautious since being robbed on it last year. I thought I was giving myself plenty of time to go to the internet point last night and then get back home on the subway. However, the subway closes early on Sunday nights. I got there 15 minutes after the lines had shut down.

I thought "maybe, I will walk home". So off I went. Things were looking familiar so I felt good. When I got to Termini, the main transportation point, I realized I had been walking the wrong direction. But, the good news is I was at the point where I could catch a bus or take a taxi. I asked three different people which bus would take me to Ponte Lungo and finally I found a night bus that stopped at the same points as the subway. I was only four stops from the apartment.

There is a Russian proverb that says your tongue can take you all the way to Kiev. It is a good thing I am not afraid to open my mouth and just ask. My Italian is pitiful. I have to repeat most everything I say. Gratefully, I made it home safe and sound.

Rhianna has grown so much! She is not a little baby. She is a constant source of motion while she is awake. Very inquisitive and very bright. She has quite a voice on her too. She seems to be an opera singer in the making. She can project quite easily!

I hear that Spencer is baking another cake. Tom sold more beads to Lilia. Tomorrow is the fourth but in Russia and here in Italy it is not a holiday. Tom and the boys will most likely chill out at home. Perhaps Tom will make some burgers and do corn on the cob like last year.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

This just in...

Today Alida left the quiet villa of Assissi & took the train back into Rome. She will be in the big city for the rest of the month. Friends from the States arrived & all are enjoying their air-conditioned apartment!

Spencer & Tom went to church with our house guests to Marat & Christine's church. (Nathan didn't go to our regular church as he said he was locked inside the apartment & couldn't find any keys!) Marat's church sponsors the work of our house guests in Dagestan. Lena had called Saturday night & asked if we would go with her on Sunday to Marat's church because pictures that Alexei took on the big bike ride to Sochi were shown. Alexei wanted his family at the service! We enjoyed the small church experience, Marat's teaching about Jonah, & viewing the beautiful pictures of the ride thru the mountains down to the Black Sea.
Last year 6 Americans came for the bike trip...this year only 1 American returned. The men were tired & worn out. Alexei was home for a matter of hours before he left on the train for a seminar in Moscow. When he returns in 2 weeks, he & Lena will oinly have a few days together before Alexei & I head to America. (Provided the US Embassy grants him a travel visa.)

Saturday, July 01, 2006

From the top down!

Yesterday, I went up to the top of the hill and worked my way down. I went to St. Rufinos, then St. Clare's... now at St. Clare's I was told not to take photos. But, you know me! Just like in the Sistine Chapel last year I was respectfully disobedient. I felt entitled since I had waited outside St. Clare's for two hours. Yes, it was nice to sit there in the cool breeze knitting and people watching but that is not the point! I just sat down in a pew and waited for a good shot. I got two. Downstairs in St. Clare's crypt I got a good one. I also took some photos of the relics. I left St. Clare's and went to Santa Maria Maggiore. I think it does not get visited as much because it is hidden. I found my way down to St. Peter's.

As I was out walking I saw one of the dirtiest men I have ever seen. I thought he was homeless. I had to look a little closer. He was a monk. His feet were filthy and his hair was long and grimy. His face looked dirty. And his robes were worn. He looked peaceful and content. He was dressed like a Franciscan monk. But, he easily could could have been one of those guys on the side of the freeway in CA holding a sign saying "will work for food".

Did you know that nuns wear birkenstocks and carry backpacks! Personally, I prefer my Clark sandals they are wonderful on these cobblestone roads. http://www.clarksusa.com/


Tom says the guys both chose different ways to celebrate the end of school. Spencer baked a cake and Nathan stayed up all night on the computer. We have a break from school for the month of July. Then we start back up in August. No rest for the weary!

oh and I found another blackpurl! http://blackpurlco.blogspot.com/ we seem to have a lot in common.