Saturday, March 31, 2007

still kickin it in Cali

We are still here in California for a little while longer. We have to go to another city to have internet access as the home we are staying in does not have internet. That feels weird but it is nice to take an online break.

Right now we are in a cafe down in Costa Mesa. Each country we have have visited has had some type of internet cafe where you can play online computer games or use the internet. Along with that come the highschool or college age crowd that swears. It is interesting to be in Russia or Ukraine and still hear the "F" word in English. Here in Costa Mesa is no different. It seems to be so ingrained in the speech of these young people they cannot seem to put together a sentence without saying it.

We plan to be down in the San Clemente area next week and after that we will head for Oregon. Right now we are not sure where we will be for Easter Sunday. This will be our first Easter in America in two years. I for one am looking forward to it!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

the last of the boxes

Spencer, Tom and I went down to Aliso Viejo to get the last of our belongings out of storage. We will be taking them back with us after we leave Oregon and go back to New Mexico. It was a little sad to move the boxes... part of us was still connected here through our things.

We had lunch with Mark. He had just returned from a short term missions trip in Uganda. It was fascinating to hear his tales. He is interested in coming to see us in Russia. We are looking forward to that!

Last night we went down to Capo Beach to The Bridge. It was the perfect night to attend. They celebrated sobriety birthdays and also did communion. One of the men there has 21 years of sobriety. He is now 77 years old. His testimony was amazing. There were over a 100 people there and we were so glad to be a part of such a special night!

Monday, March 26, 2007

check this out!

I took Spencer over to visit his friend Kaz in our old neighborhood. While he was at Kaz's house I checked out the Family Christian Bookstore in the area. When another woman behind the counter heard me tell the girl who was waiting on me that I didn't want to fill out a club card application "because I live in Russia", it led to her asking me questions in Russian. I got to practice there in the store! She has been to Moscow for short term trips. She took one of our prayer cards and then prayed with me right there in the store. That is the first time that has ever happened. Usually people will say that they are going to pray for you and then you smile and leave. She grabbed my hand and said "let's pray right now!" Thanks so much Jodi for encouraging my soul today!

We found an internet cafe not far from where we used to live. I saw a comment from Michelle on on my blog and decided to check out a post she wrote in honor of Spencer: click here She has listed ways to know if you are a missionary kid. The list is priceless. I love the one about spelling... Spencer spells better in Russian than he does in English!

Celebrity sightings and an update

When Tom was in California last he saw the guy who plays Hurley on Lost... yesterday I was at church in LA and I saw Loretta Devine. I love her work and it was exciting to see her! Since it was church I didn't take my camera... and I don't think it would have been right to bother her when she is trying to connect with God!

I am visiting with Erin today and she let me get online... I am sure she could see that I was going through withdrawal! I don't know how often I will be able to check in since we don't always know whether the people we stay with will have internet access.

I talked with Nathan the other day and he has started his new job. We are so proud and excited for him.

Spencer is wishing that we would be in one spot long enough for him to learn how to drive. But, we have a lot of ground to cover before we go back to Russia.

Tom is going to see about getting our things out of storage and we need to get in to our family doctor for check ups while we are here in California.

The drive from New Mexico to Arizona was beautiful. Our next road trip will take us from California to Oregon. Hopefully, we will get a vacation in among all the work we are doing!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Tom, Alida, and Spencer are on a mini-vacation in California, and enlisted Nathan to post this blog entry for them. The house they are staying at doesn't have a computer, so it will most likely be several days before Alida can post to her blog again.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


I just got back from a meeting with an on line friend. This was the first time I have met someone from a message board. We went to Starbucks and chatted for over an hour!

The drive here from Albuquerque was wonderful. It was so beautiful to see the terrain along the way. We leave for California in the morning. And I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

new stuff

don't take a family picture with the sun beating down on your faces!

Move to the backyard where the shade is!

This is the photo that will grace our new prayer cards. No, it is not centered and that is on purpose... now there is room for text. Tom is working on the prayer cards and we will give those out during our travels!

Our current prayer concerns:
raising support to career level to provide for long term needs
not to lose any of our language skills while in the States
safety as we travel

If you would like a copy of our newsletter please email us at:

Please click here for the new information on where to send gifts and monthly support.

what do you do?

I finally got a chance to put my pictures on so I could post some photos from the road trip we just finished.

This is a photo of the first thing Spencer did after getting to the hotel in Amarillo a few days ago. The car was unloaded and he decided to relax. I like taking a photo in the room or of the front of the hotel to remember where we stayed.

What do you do after getting into your hotel room?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Sleep Issues!

Fibromyalgia is something that I struggle with on a daily basis. Sleep is an issue for me so when I got this newsletter today I decided to share this article!

Vol. 7, No. 3

Get a Better Night’s Sleep

We all know that sleeping troubles go hand-in-hand with fibromyalgia. But did you know there are some simple ways you can help yourself ease those troubles? Try these tips, straight from the FM patients who have benefited from following them.

Check your sleeping surface. At a friend’s suggestion, Susan Kuske of Eagan, Minn., replaced her 20-year-old mattress with a new one that had extra padding. It has “helped significantly for morning stiffness.” Mattress pads have proven helpful for some patients, too. Heated pads are also available.

Consider a sleep study. Maybe your difficulty sleeping is simply part of your FM symptoms—but maybe the trouble stems from a different disorder altogether, like sleep apnea. Pinpointing the exact cause of your sleep troubles, and the ways they manifest themselves, will make it easier for you to manage them.

Talk with your doctor about medications that may help—and try doing some homework beforehand. For instance, Paula Reid takes melatonin, a naturally-occurring hormone that regulates the wake-sleep cycle. “I do not only take the melatonin during the evening for retiring, but also during the daytime,” she says, “and find that it is helpful to some extent with the pain.”

Set up the bedroom for sleep success. Make sure to eliminate sources of light—not just lamps, but also television screens—that may be cuing your brain to stay awake. Try an eye-mask, earplugs, or a sound machine that plays ocean waves or birdsong for extra assistance in blocking out disturbances. Lila Peck sprays her bedding with a linen spray she makes herself, scenting the sheets with lavender and sandalwood to help her fall asleep.

Pay attention to what you’re paying attention to! Does the nightly news make you feel anxious or sad? Consider getting your news from a different source earlier in the day. Do crime dramas tense you up? Try eliminating them for a while.

Exercise. FM patients are used to hearing about the benefits of exercise—but you may not realize it can also help your sleeping patterns. Studies indicate that moderate exercise helps improve quality of sleep. “I walk at least 30 minutes a day and feel that it is an important factor overall, but also for sleep,” says Kuske. “I often use my break at work to walk. Clears my head and helps my body!”

Maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Try to go to sleep at the same time every night, and to wake up at the same time every morning (even on weekends!). This will get your body into the habit of resting during those same hours each day.

Eliminate caffeine, alcohol, and other stimulants including tobacco.

Develop a bedtime routine. Kuske likes to read the Bible or another book with a positive message before she goes to sleep. Other patients may play relaxing music or make lists of things they are grateful for. Using a self-massage machine, or getting a massage from a loved one, can also make it easier to relax and fall asleep.

Margaret McGing recommends keeping a “sleep journal.” “Include the times you go to sleep, wake up, what you ate/drank that day, when you ate/drank, when/what forms of exercise [you did], and record how often and what times you might wake up during the night,” she suggests. Yes, it’s tedious—“but very helpful to a neurologist if one should continue to have problems and seek help,” she says.

Restrict your daytime napping. Even if you feel tired, try to nap for only 20 minutes or so—otherwise when it’s time to hit the hay that night, you may have trouble falling asleep.


My husband does not seem to have a problem with the last item... he rarely misses his daily nap and can still go right to sleep at night. Tom reminded me the other night about a time when Spencer was little and he announced to his Dad how easy it is to get to sleep.

Spencer's wisdom... lay down, close your eyes and wait!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

New Mexico

It is Sunday afternoon and we are back in New Mexico. Tom drove yesterday and part of today. I drove the last 2 1/2 hours into Albuquerque. It is so good to be off the road! I can write more tomorrow after I have had some rest.

Friday, March 16, 2007

How Russian Are you?

You are 100% Russian!

Great job!!!!! You did WONDERFULY!!!! Nice try!!! Were you born in Russia? How do you know so much about it??? Well, good job anyway!!!

How Russian are you?
Quizzes for MySpace

This is my test result and I am happy that after two years of living in Russia I was able to answer all the questions correctly! Spencer took it and he was 92 percent Russian... how Russian are you?

CookBook Search

I found this one in New Mexico

and I found this one here in Texas at Sams for a great price!

Before we left New Mexico I spent time with Mom looking through her cookbooks and the Betty Crocker one looked very good to me so when I came upon it at Sams I decided to go for it!

The More-With-Less Cookbook was recommended by Debbie P. in Russia. I don't think I need to look for anymore cookbooks. Especially since there are other things on the list of "things to buy in America" and Tom says that most of our purchases will need to be mailed home so our suitcases are not overweight!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

pursuing happyness

Ok, so I remember when a friend posted to her blog back in January using the title "The Pursuit of Happiness" it made me want to go see the movie "The Pursuit of Happyness". At the time we were still in Russia so I thought I would have to wait for the DVD.

I even sat through the Oscars with our family after we got back to the states and had those thoughts again after seeing Will Smith and his son Jaden. On Wednesday Spencer, Hailey, Tyler, Kim, Paul and I went out to actually see it! Tom stayed home to watch the basketball game on TV.

I enjoyed the movie... I teared up several times. It was inspiring to me that Rich Gardner was able to make his dreams a reality. I am a sucker for a rags to riches story!

Tomorrow is the big reward day in Dallas for the boys... they are going to a mall and to the movies. I am proud of Spencer for working so hard even though he didn't have too. He's on vacation!

I had a short chat with our oldest son Nathan tonight via email, he has actually done some driving and it went well. I am sure he will be happy for us to return the car so he can get in more driving time. We are heading back on Saturday. And of course I am proud of him too!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

new walking shoes

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Spencer and I purchased new walking shoes when we first arrived a few weeks ago... did I pack them to bring with me to Texas? No!

Spencer, Tyler and Luke are out doing community service for the city. Apparently, if you work two days doing city clean up you can win a trip to Dallas for a day of fun. Today is the second day for the guys to work... Dallas, get ready!

Monday, March 12, 2007


the joy of email!

Tom calls this her Austin Powers look!

Yanna has the remote!

The top picture is Eera and the second is her little sister Yanna. I got this in an email from their mom, my friend Olya. I am sure they were taken with her husband Vova's cell phone. Isn't technology wonderful?! I cannot imagine how much Yanna will have grown by the time we get back home to Russia in June.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

I got this idea from Laughing Through The Tears and decided I had to see what my visual DNA would look like. Enjoy!


Yesterday, Spencer and I made blini (Russian pancakes). He had looked up a recipe on the internet. He and Luke followed the recipe carefully, while Kim and I watched. But, the Russian friends we have don't actually use a recipe and I had my suspicions about how authentic the internet source was... the initial batter was too runny and the pancakes came out gummy. They should be more like a crepe. Spencer asked for help so I made a few adjustments. After adding more flour and some baking soda, baking powder, and more vegetable oil... we finally had a recipe that worked. I think Lena would have been proud!

Our modified recipe is this:
2 eggs
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups milk
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and salt. Sift the flour, baking soda and baking powder into the bowl, and stir in along with the milk. Mix until smooth and well blended. The batter should be thinner than pancake batter but not runny like water.

Heat a griddle or skillet over medium high heat. Lightly oil the pan. My friend Lena coats the pan with bacon fat and that gives it a unique flavor... but, vegetable oil works too! Pour about 2 tablespoons of the batter, or as much as desired, into the pan. Tilt the pan in a circular motion to spread the batter out evenly and thinly. When bubbles appear, slide a spatula carefully under the blini. Flip, and cook for about 1 minute on the other side, or until lightly browned.

Remove blini to a plate. Put a little butter on top, and continue to stack the blini on top of each other. To serve, spread with desired filling, then fold in half, and in half again to form a triangle...or you can roll it up and enjoy.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

how NOT to catch a plane

Russian Policeman Starts Bomb Hoax to Save Boss From Missing Plane

A Russian policeman has been jailed for phoning an airport with a bomb warning to help acquaintances of his boss make their flight, the Reuters news agency reports quoting an article in the Friday issue of Russian daily Kommersant.

A senior police officer, who was seeing off two businessmen in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg in February last year, told his subordinate to fix the problem when they failed to board the plane on time.

The assistant phoned the airport and said he had received a message about explosives and weapons on board the plane. The aircraft with 40 passengers on board turned around in mid-air to return to Yekaterinburg.

The police officer and his subordinate were sentenced to 21 months in prison each, the paper reported.Witnesses cited by Kommersant said the businessmen had been drinking in the airport.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

at night at the movies

We took the kids to the movies last night and they all enjoyed seeing Night At the Museum. It was fun to hear them laugh. I am not a Ben Stiller fan so I didn't enjoy it as much as everyone else did. I did like Robin Williams... he is one of my favorites.

Spencer gave me not one but two e-cards for Women's Day so he scored major points!

The Ultimate Blog Party is winding down but I truly do appreciate everyone who was able to stop by. I noticed that there are over 900 blogs listed on the party site and I know I have not made it to most of them yet!

I am writing this early because we have a big day and night planned for tomorrow. Two of the kids are skipping school to spend the day with us and we have Celebrate Recovery to attend! <== Click on the highlighted words and go to the ministry link when you get there!

International Women's Day

I got an email from our friend Olya. It was great to hear from her and to feel connected to our Russian friends.

Today is International Women's Day and is a major holiday in Russia. It seems strange that people are not wishing me "Happy Women's Day". They don't celebrate Mother's Day there as we do in America. Women's Day celebrates all women... not just those who are mothers.
Flowers, candy and wishes of happiness, joy, peace and success are given to each female in your life!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

all things Texas!

Spencer and I saw this in a Stuckey's on the way down here. We went back out to the car to get the camera. In Krasnodar we were treated by some friends to cornbread made in the shape of Texas so when we saw this it reminded us of Robert and Ann right away!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

meetings, meetings

it feels like all we are doing is this!

We are back with our friends in Tom Bean. The drive into North Dallas for our meetings was not bad... going there it was less than an hour in the car. We watched Dreamgirls at the hotel last night and that was a real treat! We also were taken to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. I had not eaten there in at least three years. We had lunch at a little Italian place and I had an Italian sausage Caesar salad and Tom had a crab cake salad... very tasty! We enjoyed going out to eat with Louie he has great taste in restaurants!

Monday, March 05, 2007

if it's Monday

We must be in Dallas! Don't know if we will see much of the city. We have meetings to attend all afternoon and evening. And tomorrow will be the same.

If we get a chance we may go to a movie... we have not been to a theatre to see a movie in English for 2 years! We saw things like Madagascar, The Island, and Chronicles of Narnia in Russian. So to watch in English will be a major treat!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Tom Bean

Wow! It has been great to see our friends again.

They have another dog. Last time we were here they had Skip and Angel. Now they have added Sparky... he was homeless and they took him in. Tom, Paul, Hailey and I were hanging out in the family room watching the Food Network after church and we had all the dogs at our feet or angling for a seat on the couch!

The service today was great. It was overwhelming to sing worship songs in English. I think I cried more than I sang! We are still having difficulty making decisions in stores. We went with Paul after church to pick up some food for lunch... just deciding on side dishes for the fried chicken was draining.

We are going back to church for a prayer meeting. Kim, a nurse, has to work this week so we only saw her at church this morning for a short while. Tyler and Spencer went to the youth meeting after the first service while Luke and Hailey attended the second service while we shopped for lunch.

We met with most of the elders at church this morning and got the chance to speak with a couple who adopted two boys from Russia. They are now a family of seven!

We are driving into Dallas for some meetings tomorrow and Spencer is planning to hang out here in Tom Bean while we are gone.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Amarillo News

We spent the night in Amarillo and now we are on the way to Tom Bean. It was a quick drive here to Texas and we are so excited about seeing our friends!

The drive was mostly uneventful... Spencer and I took a few pictures. When we got to the Texas border it looked like a storm was coming through. The winds were very high and we had thoughts that a tornado may have been nearby.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Ultimate Blog Party

How could I forget the big party???

I am setting a place at the table just for you... so don't be late!

Have questions like "why Russia?" ask away! I blog about our daily life in Russia, our trials with learning this language, and the work we do here. I write for our family, friends and supporters. I am glad that you have chosen to stop by. Please take your shoes off and enjoy some Russian hospitality... each time we have been to a Russian home for a visit out comes the photo album.

Our two years in Russia have taught us the importance of gift giving... if you are going to a Russian home for dinner the most popular gifts are flowers and candy! Make sure you take an odd number of flowers... even numbers are for funerals.

Take care and come again!

on the road again!

We are leaving for Dallas this morning. This will be our first trip without Nathan. It seems strange to leave him behind.

Stops in Texas include Tom Bean, Sherman and Dallas. It will be great to see old friends and meet new ones. I remember seeing an old ad about getting to Tucumcari by nightfall. I asked Tom if we would make it that far. He says that since it is only a few hours away it won't be a problem. Actually, I think the goal is Amarillo so that we make it to Tom Bean the next day!

I hope that we find internet access along the way... if not, Spencer and I will start going through withdrawal.

Enjoying the view

Spencer and I have been enjoying the walking path not far from where we are staying. It is very peaceful. Yesterday, we walked during our errands but didn't take an "official" walk and I realized this morning how much I missed it.

We started walking 5 times a week before we left Russia. It is helping me to feel better which is a good thing. Spencer is a great cheerleader. He is very encouraging and keeps me from quitting or giving up too soon!

We plan to keep up our walks all throughout our time here in the states... so if you want to join us just let me know. We would love to see your favorite walking trail!