Saturday, December 31, 2005

Scurrying about!

C Новым годом! Happy New Year! Everyone is scurrying around today preparing for the holiday. The traditional thing to do is to spend the day cooking and cleaning. In addition, getting whatever items needed for the next few days. Some stores may or may not be open from the first until the third. Everything will shut down for the holiday! Novee Goad is a big deal here. There have been fireworks going off daily since the middle of December. If you live near the Mexico border (like California or Texas), you may see news stories there about illegal fireworks coming from Mexico. Now that we are here in Russia, we saw our first news story about illegal fireworks that came in from China. They were in boxes labeled Ceramics!

Nathan is going to a party over at the church. Most of the singles will be there. He was told to come at 10 pm. We are spending the evening with Alexei and Lena. They want us to have a traditional Russian New Year’s. They will get here at 9pm. and will stay until ??? Alexei is cooking most of the food. They are preparing two traditional salads, and a meat dish. I was asked what I wanted to prepare and they were suggesting a torte (cake) or pirog (pie). Alexei was yelling at me in the background that he wanted apples! Over and over he kept yelling apples! Tom says they are Alexei’s favorite. So I need to go down to the rinok and see if the guy I buy apples from is there. I can make a few traditional American Apple Pies to go with our traditional Russian meal!

Last night on TV we saw a puppet show. There was a puppet who came out from behind the puppet stage and sang a solo. He sang an old familiar English tune. "Let's Twist Again!" Tom was adamant that puppets cannot twist! I was insisting that he could not twist because of his costume. He was wearing a swimsuit, he had his hair styled in a red mohawk and he was wearing 6 inch tall golden disco shoes!

Friday, December 30, 2005

Weary Traveler Returns

Tom came home smelly, filthy and tired! He said he stepped in all kinds of animal droppings while he was out there!

He has a lot of photos to go through and we will get them posted ASAP! The baptism was interesting. They had to chop through the ice in the river and wade out to the spot they had chosen. Tom said just before the guys were about to go in Alexei decided to say a 'few' words. Tom says it was more than just a few words! And it was getting cold while they waited for Alexei to wrap it up!

Oh and I have a correction, the cows are named after people associated with Clinton. Not Putin. There is Monica, Bill, Clinton and President Reagan. The guys got hungry so Reagan was the first to go!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Slumber Party

We set out yesterday with Lena P. to see the Snow Queen. Literally, we fought our way into the arena. I went in shoulder to shoulder with a woman who was not budging and neither was I! Lena and I were able to secure second row seats for our party of 13! Bill and Judy came with their 4 kids and nanny Natasha, and Joyce H. was there with Hannah. After we got our popcorn and drinks the annoucer came on overhead and told us that we would not be seeing the Snow Queen due to the star performer having trauma in her knee. (it was an ice show) We were treated instead to Beauty and the Beast.

Not the Disney version but the Russian folktale. Nathan told us the many countires have some form of the story and sometimes the beast is a man and sometimes a woman. In this version the Beast looked like a dragon. And he lived in the forest. It was a fun show.

After the ice show we went for a walk. We tried taking our large party to several cafes or restaurants but they were all booked for banquets. We finally got in and had a great meal. Natasha and Lena were amazed at how huge the portions were. It took some convincing to get them to relax and just order what they wanted. Lena finally asked me if it was expensive. And it was not. I told her to "be peaceful" I don't know how to say don't worry! She got the message and then Judy said the same thing to Natasha and they both relaxed and ordered dessert too! It was Lena's first time in a restaurant and her first time sitting up close at an ice show.

Her day ended with coming over to our apartment to spend the night. Spencer said that Lena and I acted like school girls. I guess he heard a lot of giggling! She tried three time to call Alexei and could not get through. So I called Tom & luckily he answered. I told him to tell Alexei to get off of the phone and call his wife! Tom handed his phone to Alexei and I gave mine to Lena. When they were done Tom and I talked.

Tom says the cows are all named after people in Putin's administration. He spent the day chopping down a tree so wide that Sasha could barely get his arms around it. They counted 40 rings inside the tree. Now the men will have fire wood for the winter. Tom said he used a Russian chainsaw. He went out there with my camera so I am eager to post his photos!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Lena Rajabov gets him back!

Tom took this photo of Lena (our pastor's wife) at the BLTC Christmas party. She came over to see if she approved of it right after he did it. After the party we ended up at the bus stop with them. Her son Pavlek was teasing Tom and snatched of his hat. Lena, in a dead pan voice says:

"Pavlek, that is not good. He does not have hair and it's cold!"

I translated what she said for Tom and he roared with laughter. We really love our Russian friends. She let him take her picture... but, she got him back!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Peanut Butter Cookies & Fresh Cheese

New Year's Day is fast approaching. Today was not a day to be out on the street! Spencer and Andrew tried to go out to City Center to hang out. They were passed up by three full marshutkas in a row. That means they were standing out at the stop waiting for almost an hour waiting for a ride. They decided to go back to Andrew's house and hang out there instead.

Tom made an attempt to pick up a package. But, today was the first time they requested an additional tariff on the package. He didn't have enough money with him so the package will have to wait until he gets back from Artirka. Alexei called Sasha to say that an expert from America was coming to milk the cows! Lena says that Sasha makes excellent cheese. I have placed an order for fresh cheese. Hopefully, Tom will prove to be an expert milker and the cheese will be superb...

We have an Ice Show to attend tomorrow. It is The Snow Queen. Tom cannot go so Lena is coming. That should be fun. We may need her to explain things to us. She has never seen an ice show and I love it when things work out like that. When we bought the tickets back in November I had no idea that Tom wouldn't be going.

Tonight we had peanut butter cookies. I put squares of milk chocolate on top while the cookies were still hot. Lena and Alexei REALLY liked them. I sent Alexei home with the recipe. His first one in English. He read it without any problems. Like me, he was suprised that flour was not needed. Russian ovens are a little finicky. So we changed the oven temperature to 180C. The first batch was baked at 190.5C (375F) but that was a bit to hot. The second batch came out better when I turned the oven down to 180C (350F).
Super Easy Peanut Butter Cookies
1 egg
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of peanut butter
Mix all. Roll into balls and flatten with a fork in cross pattern and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Happy Boxing Day!

Michelle came over today and her greeting to us was "Happy Boxing Day!" She told Spencer that the holiday is celebrated in Canada, Britian and some other random European countries.... so here is our Boxing Day, Christmas, New Year's Photo.

*Tom's fur hat was purchased in Moscow on his second trip to Russia. It was cold and he need it!

*Alida's otter fur coat was donated by a gracious woman from Capo Beach Calvary Chapel in Capistrano Beach, CA. We found out when we got here that the city in Alaska where it came from (Kenai) is actually the home town of one of our fellow students.

Photo by Lena Parhomenko! Posted by Picasa

Ira & Mommy

Ira also known as Irichka, Ironka or Cuckoo! And, of course, her mommy. Olya could also be called Olga if you wanted to be formal. Remember that with Ira's name the I is pronouced like EE. Posted by Picasa

Alexei's Photos

We went to the movies while the church had a Christmas party. I didn't want to carry my camera around at the mall so I left it with Alexei. It is interesting to see our church family through his eyes! Here is one of his photos. Featured here is his wife Lena, her brother Slavic and their niece Ira.

The Three Red Heads! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!

It finally felt like Christmas today. This week it has been hard to get into the Christmas spirit. Everywhere we went we were being wished "Happy New Year" in Russian. It was starting to feel like 'where did Christmas go?'

At church we sang Silent Night. That did it! The church was all decorated for Christmas. Valodya and Klaus bought a tree. Tom helped wash the windows. Nathan had made snowmen with some of the other singles and they adorned the windows. I got together with the ladies last week and helped crochet snowflakes for the tree. Singing a familiar tune and seeing the decorations really helped it to feel like home.

Joyce and Hannah were there. Mary the new student from Germany was there. Several of the kids did special numbers. Klaus & Franzie's kids all played their instruments. Tobias on the guitar, Phillipe on the accordion and little Manuel had a bongo drum! Ruth sang a duet with Olya (the worship leader not Vova's wife!) And Hannah played the piano. Oksanna, Olya and Sonja did Angels We Have Heard On High and it was beautifully done. It was the first time I had heard it in Russian.

I got excited and was singing the worship songs a little louder than normal. Alexei has heard me sing before but not in Russian. Only in English. I'm sure when I sang in English it must have sounded like "bla-ah blah, bla-ah blah!"
When he heard me singing in Russian he wanted it louder and louder!

When Valodya got up to speak he said that it was Jesus' birthday. He also said it was not important that we be precise about the date. "Neh vazhnee toachnah" (not important to be exact/precise!)

His question for the day was "what gift are you giving to Christ?"
I had to stop and think beyond the obvious. I thought "I'm here in Russia isn't that enough!" My gift is trust and obedience. It's the best I can do. And I am sure it will be a challenge!

After church we went to the movies to see The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Stas's son Dima came with us. I was glad that Spencer chose to invite him. He had a hard time saying yes. He wanted to be able to pay for himself and couldn't. We paid for his transportation, food and the movie. I found out from Tom that one of Stas's teachers from the BLTC had given Dima a copy of the book and that it was one of Dima's favorites. He was so excited to have seen the movie! He will be able to go to school tomorrow and tell his friends all about it. Dima is the best English speaker in his family. When he didn't know a word in English he would use a Russian word but for most of the day he spoke English with us.

This was our first Christmas in Russia. We went to church, the movies and spoke to Mom and Dad on the phone. Just like we would do any other Christmas only this year instead of Kansas to California... the phone call came from New Mexico to Russia!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve Family Night

Mikie and Yahn are both vying for Nathan's attention along with some NEW KID! We spent this evening with Bill and Judy. We were among seven families that attended their Christmas Eve gathering. We brought over Polar Express. The kids were glued to the TV once it actually started.

Janet, Patrick and Talitha were there. The new family came too. Shane & Melissa are still getting settled here with their two kids. Mike and Kathy stopped by on their way to an all night event at their church.

Lisa and Jim came by too. They had some Russian friends who came over to shower at their home. These friends don't have indoor plumbing and come over once a week to shower. They just happened to choose today and Lisa said she fed them this time.

It was a fun night. Tom went to two AA meetings today with Alexei. When we got home we found him watching Madagasgar. We found an English copy today! We have seen it over and over in Russian but today was the first time in English. I think it is funnier in Russian. Nathan cannot decide. This copy actually has the special features so it appears to be official!
Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 23, 2005

What's New (in Rehab) Pussycat?

Sasha is the director of the Rehab center that we support. He is swinging his tail around! Today was the big party for the BLTC. It was the most fun staff party we have ever been to. Games, talent, puppet show, gifts for the kids. Russians know how to party.

Sasha has invited Tom out to the Rehab Center on the 29th. There are several men out there who have asked to be baptised and the church has given Sasha permission to do it himself! Tom has the most years of sobriety of all the men invloved in the center and they are excited about having him come out there to be a witness to the first group of men who want to be baptised! There is a man named Valera who has two years of sobriety already and he is one of the guys who is now working with Sasha.

My Al-Anon sponsor required me to attend AA meetings in California to gain a better understanding of alcholism. I understand how hard each day of sobriety can be to hold on to. I am happy for Valera. And eager to hear what Tom is able to report when he comes back! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Father Christmas!

We had a visit from Father Christmas at the school's Christmas party. All the kids got candy from age 1 to ? It wouldn't be polite to post the age of the oldest "kid" in the room. Father Christmas was great at asking everyone in the room what they wanted him to bring. One of the single gals asked for a "moozh" which is how you say husband in Russian. Father Christmas asked her if she wanted a moose or a moozh? She said she would be happy with either one. I would be careful about going to her home for dinner. She is the one who tells stories about making Road Kill Chili!

We have another party to go to tonight and I will post all my photos when we get home later. Right now it is time for a rest!

Oh and I am now officially feeling old... Nathan was invited to a singles event! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

No PETA group here!

Let's see... there is leather, fur, sheepskin, suede and more leather. Leather shoes, boots, hats, gloves, jackets and coats. And then there is fur. Full length fur coats, fur jackets, fur trimmed gloves, fur hats, fur lined boots, and fur trimmed coats. I don't think PETA could drum up a chapter here if they paid people to belong. Leather is a way of life here. Even small children wear leather. Why? It is cold. Leather can be worn in the rain. It is easy to keep clean. Leather is cheap here. And fur lined leather is very warm.

I have a fur jacket that I tried to wear when it first got a little chilly this fall. I was sweating. It is an Alaskan Otter. I wore it the first time it snowed with my black leather gloves and my black angora hat and it was just right! The woman who gave it to me lives in California. California is a state where people are afraid to wear fur. Someone might throw paint on you or harass you in someway. There are people who will look down on you for keeping your dog outside there. They would not like it here. Dogs live outside if you have a house and people wear fur. Just like in the old days before picket signs were invented!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Second snow day!

Michelle was happy. Tom's prayers were answered. Nathan thought it was neat. Anna was squealing with delight. Brownie sniffed it and then licked it! Some people were not thrilled about the slushy sidewalks but it was still a great day.

Spencer and Michelle were waiting for us with snowballs when we got to school.

Please check out the photo blog here!

The teachers were not convinced that we should have the day off due to the snow. Actually, if this were America there was not enough snow on the ground to merit a snow day, either. I mean if this were Kansas we would still have had to show up! Cuz, hey, the streets were clear!

Today Olya was at the school. She got to help out as the teacher for the preschoolers. Kurt and Rochelle hired her for the day. When school was over she was leaving with Rochelle. I was standing with Nathan and Spencer at the bus stop. Olya snuck up behind me and grabbed me around the waist and said "tebyah dehngee eelee zheeznee!" (your money or your life) Spencer was ready to hit her. Fortunately, I recognized her voice!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Scandalous Behavior

Tom and I have a habit of causing a sensation wherever we go. We don't always do it on purpose. At the concert the other night we ended up sitting on separate sides of the aisle. Tom sat with Alexei and Lena... and I sat with Olya, Vova and Spencer. After the show was over I crossed the aisle to see how the others enjoyed the show. Joyce B. was sitting beside Tom and she said "Alida I want to introduce you to someone" I smiled. She continued. "Alida, this is Tom... Tom this is Alida" on cue we both said "ochen preeahtnah" (it is a pleasure). And then Tom leaned in and so did I and we kissed. There just happend to be 4 young ladies around the ages of 15-17 standing in the row behind us watching the whole thing. And when they saw us kiss there was a loud gasp and then giggles. They were in shock!

I told my teacher about it during our time of sharing 'cultural experiences'! She said Russians understand jokes. So, next time I should turn to the girls and say "izveneeteh, ohn moy muzh!" (excuse me, he's my husband!)

You see men do not even hug women in public here when they meet. So for Tom and I to kiss if we had just met...well, that was scandalous!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Baby Dedications, Haircuts & Movies

Ira was dedicated at church today. We were caught off guard. If Olya and Vova knew about it they didn't say anything. Noone had a camera or anything. And Alexei was not there.

Ira was very cute. First she had her finger in her mouth then she tapped her nose with her finger then it was in her nose. Once Olya saw us smiling she removed Ira's hand and the show was over! Valodya read a passage of scripture and took Ira into his arms and prayed. Ira just stared at him the whole time. When he finished praying Vova began to pray. I almost started to cry. These people are part of our family and we shop with them, go out with them, play games with them and to hear Vova pray for his daughter was overwhelming!

By the way. Valodya and Vova both have the same name. Vladimir. They just both prefer being called something else!

Joyce and Jim had an anniversary this week as did Tom and I. When our names were called to go up and be honored; Tom had me go up alone since Jim was out of town leaving Joyce to go up front alone. So Joyce and I were honored with long stem white roses for surviving long term marriages!

Joyce and Hannah came over after church. Hannah wanted to play some video games. Today was haircut day and Joyce said she needed a haircut so Tom gave her one! I made a pizza with a new crust recipe I found. The yeast we have here is working out well. Pizza and french fries filled everyone up and then Hannah and Joyce left so Joyce could get her homework done.

Last night Spencer and I went over to Bill and Judi's to watch White Christmas. The classic Christmas movie with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney. It was fun to watch with Robert and Ann and all of Bill and Judi's kids. Their neighbors came up from downstairs and watched too. We sang EVERY song. Even the men sang along on the "SISTER'S" song. It was a riot!

Nathan and Tom stayed home last night and watch What the Bleep Do We Know? It is not really a "movie" movie it is more like a documentary. It is a good movie for discussion as a family or as a small group afterwards.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Choosing a Seat on the Bus

The other day Tom and I were coming home on the bus. We got separated because the bus was very crowded. I found a seat right near the door. There was a woman sitting in the seat alone. But, there was a man standing in front of her and a woman standing near the door but close enough that she could have sat down but didn't. I thought "how lucky" and then I thought "wait a minute... what is wrong with this seat?". My thoughts were:

1) Is the seat wet?

I checked and it was dry. I sat down.

2) Is she alive?

I watched her chest to see if she was breathing. She was. That helped me to relax a bit.

3) Does she smell?

I leaned in closer to her and took a whiff. She didn't smell any different from anyone else. I kept the seat and she slept on for about 20 minutes.

When she woke up she finished peeling the tangerine that was in her hands and took a bite of a section. And then closed her eyes again!

There is never a dull moment in Krasnodar. I'm sure your life is an adventure too if public transportation is included!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Nathan You Are Alive!

Lena and Olya came over around 4 today and that was the first thing they said when they saw him. He has not been sick, nooo.

I went to Metro today with Olya, Spencer and Vova. We were hurrying home and got caught in a traffic jam.... that is another story! Nathan sent me a text message saying "I DON'T KNOW HOW TO MAKE HER GO BACK TO SLEEP!"
He was at Olya & Vova's house with Ira. She is 1. Olya wanted to know what he said so I translated the message for her. She was telling me what to tell him. She is speaking half Russian and half English to me to instruct I just hand her the phone. She tells him to just play with Ira because she won't go back to sleep. She told him we would be there in about 20 minutes but he can take Ira home with him if he wants to wait for Lena over there. Just as he is getting the directions on how to dress her and where to find all of her warm clothes... Lena's brother Slavic shows up and saves the day! Ira loves Uncle Slavic. He watches her all the time. She cried when Nathan left her to go answer the door but she was happy to see Slavic when he came in!

Nathan calls back and says that he and Lena cannot get into our house because he does not have keys and when will we be there? I tell him that we were stuck in a traffic jam and I ask Vova how long it will take to get there. I also have Olya talking to me about Lena on my other side. So Nathan does not know who I am talking about or what and when to listen. So he misses me telling him we will be there in 5 minutes and we will honk when we get there.

Vova pulls up and honks really loud 4 times. Olya yells at him and tells him he is going to wake up all the kids in the apartments from their naps! I call Nathan and tell him that was us honking and to come on home right now! We have a lot of things to put away. I shopped in bulk at Metro! Spencer and I start unloading the car and taking things upstairs. Vova helps us and Olya heads home to check on Ira. When Nathan gets home he tells me that Vova came up the stairs and yelled at him and Lena for not coming down when he honked the horn FOUR TIMES! He tells them he got yelled at by a neighbor. Lena yells at him that she didn't know (he is her little brother) and Nathan says he didn't know either, that 's when he told Nathan that I was going to kill Nathan. Vova said I was really going to be angry and for Nathan to watch out when he got home!

Nathan comes home and tells me how mad I am supposed to be (which I was not!) and then tells me about Ira waking up 30 minutes after we took off and he climbed into the crib with her and she reads to him. He said Ira does not read or speak Russian or English she speaks "BABY". After that the bird got out and they went from room to room following the bird. Ira singing or reciting a rhyme (who knows). Nathan was praying all the while that she would not have a messy diaper. He DOES NOT do diapers!

As we were eating marshmallows and drinking cappucino Lena came over with Olya peeking around the door searching for Nathan...

"NATHAN, YOU'RE ALIVE" they said laughing. After we established the fact that I didn't kill him... Spencer made tea and then we had our language time.

Just another day at the Sharp's house!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

knife man!

He was so cool! Rochelle's daughter Kayla told me with a lot of excitment that she thought he was going to "cut all of his teeth out; but he didn't it was so cool!" Posted by Picasa

Down in front

Why won't that lady sit down and take her pictures like the rest of us? Posted by Picasa

a band of drummers

These guys were great. I wanted to yell at this woman though . She is in many of my photos! Down in front!!!! Posted by Picasa

on pointe

The men did most of the dancing on their toes tonight. Not the gals like in a traditional ballet. Posted by Picasa

Ladies in Red

Beautiful... Posted by Picasa

More gals in the band

Is she focusing? Posted by Picasa

My Fair Lady

I love her and her accordion! Posted by Picasa

and the band played on!

Check out the gal with the accordion! She is my favorite. Posted by Picasa

the gang's all here

This is a small portion of a large chorus line. I love the costumes! Posted by Picasa

Diva's on parade

These ladies know how to make an entrance! Olya said "ochen seriosnah" (very serious!) Posted by Picasa

Intenational Flair!

Her dress and his costume were stunning to see in person! Posted by Picasa

Ebony and Ivory

All I can say is these two were flawless. Posted by Picasa

A Chorus Line

These guys actually started out in two groups. Tan on one side and red on the other. And they intermingled for the kick line. They were dancing very fast and kicking up a "storm"! Posted by Picasa

Sword Woman

She has a sword around her waist that you cannot see. Spencer called her sword woman. He thought she was awesome! Posted by Picasa

Russian Flag

The opening number ended with displaying the Russian flag. Posted by Picasa

Men in capes!

These looked like sheepskin capes maybe they were felt... I'm not sure. Posted by Picasa


We went to the concert tonight... this one was all dancing and it was great! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

O Christmas Tree

Tom was very excited about all the peanut butter that is in the house now. So he built us a Christmas tree out of all the jars. He showed the photo to Lena and she loved it! Later Alexei and Lena came over to watch a movie. The "tree" was still up in the kitchen. Alexei wanted to know if we had a peanut butter factory in the house now!

Thank you Erin for your package today. Nathan has already played his game! And Spencer and I drank tea at school. I got another box from New Jersey that arrived at the post office. It also had tea and peanut butter! We feel blessed to have people thinking of us.

We also got pictures of Rhiana and they were soooo cute! I had to show them off to everyone. Her birthday is the same as Talitha's only Talitha is a year older.

Joan's Christmas card made it before Christmas and I was shocked about that.

I took Judi and Judi over to the yarn warehouse today. It was a fun trip. We also stopped by the office supply store. We still cannot get lined notebook paper. So I need to add that to our list of things we would like to receive. Our needs or wants are not exciting. We have only 5 notebooks left from the 10 I purchased in Rome. I never worried about wasting paper in the states...

At the yarn warehouse the guy heard Judi asking me what "Yun" is. He came over a little later and said that it comes from a 'barahn' which is a sheep. Which meant we figured it out correctly. I knew the word for cotton and so through a process of elimination we were able to sort out what the different yarns were. It was nice to have him verify it though! Posted by Picasa