Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Tongue is my Enemy

Most of you have heard of an English idiom "Putting your foot in your mouth" . In fact, some of you have used this idiom in reference to your mouth more than once. I used it just the other day. Again.

We were on our way to my mom's house after morning church service for a birthday celebration when I asked my husband to stop at a grocery store so I could get her some flowers. My plan was to get in, grab a pretty flower pot and get out as we were in a hurry to get to a place that had food. When I got to the store I started frantically looking through different pots of flowers lifting the more attracting ones and taking a closer look when I thought I heard someone say,

"I like that one best."

I ignored this comment as I didn't think anyone was talking to me. After about a minute I looked up and saw a man staring at me and at that very second I understood that it was him who made that comment. Not wanting to appear rude (hah!) I said,
"I am sorry, were you talking to me a second ago?"

"Yes, I said I liked that red one when you were looking at it, " he answered. "I don't know much about flowers but those look good."

"I don't know much about flowers either, " I said. "So I am having a hard time deciding."

Then he said something I wish he didn't.
"In fact, when I was married, I used to just cut daffodils and give them to my ex-wife. "

I smiled, thought a clever thought and spurred out, "That is why you are not married anymore, hah?"

"Hmm....ye.....aha....hmmm..." he mumbled back.
I immediately felt bad about my comment but not before he said,

"Say, do you subscribe to the Oregonian?"

Right at that moment, I realized that my tongue has gotten me in trouble. I usually make an extra effort avoid sales people. When I see one, I tell my self, "Do not look up. Do not make eye contact. Now, RUUUUUUUN!" It is an innate feeling of some sort that works to GUARD me from unnecessary, unplanned spending and from wasting my time and theirs. But now, I felt so bad about what I've said, I felt like I owed him at least a little bet of attention and allow him to get through his spiel.

Needless to say, I spent about fifteen minutes telling him why we don't currently subscribe as we don't mind at all reading a bias newspaper, and listening to his rebuttals. Finally, I grabbed whatever pot of flowers that didn't look too wilted, took his contact info and politely left the scene.

There is simple rule that one must follow and he/she will never be stuck in such an uncomfortable position:

That simple rule is.....if you are feeling the urge to say something clever, bite your tongue. If after a few seconds you still find it clever, bite your tongue harder until it bleeds. It IS better, than putting your foot in your mouth. Trust me.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Slow Fade

A New Year's resolution: Philippians 4:8. Because it is a slow fade.

~Finally, brothers [and sisters], whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is fair, whatever is pure, whatever is acceptable, whatever is commendable, if there is anything of excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy-keep thinking about these things.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Papermakers and the Like

Saturday night we went out for a very late dinner (thus breaking another mommy rule) with one of Peter's nephews who has been staying with us for the last couple of days. He is a high school sophomore at a small high school across the river. We were talking about my daughter's school, when he said:

"Our high school has the worst mascot. " I smiled and thought how typical it is for a teenager to think that school mascots are corny.

"It is Papermakers! " He blurted out as if we were the only company he was not embarrassed to share this with. I almost chocked on my lemon flavored water when I heard this.

"And when we have games, this big thing comes out, they call it the MEAN MACHINE and does its little dance."

"What does it chant?" I asked. "We will cruuuuuuush you!?"

I was fascinated. Having had grown up and lived in the same city all my American life and not being too big on school rivalry stuff, I only really know a handful of mascots. I guess I always assumed that school mascots are supposed to signify strength, pride, leadership and the qualities alike. So, I've decided to enlighten and amuse myself some more and found these higher ed schools that have pretty interesting, if not embarrassing mascots. At the risk of exposing my ignorance, here it goes:
  • University of California-Santa Cruz is home to Sammy the Banana Slug.---Yummm!
  • Volunteers of the University of Tennessee---while noble, pretty lame wouldn't you say?
  • Texas Christian University is home to Horned Frog ---So what that it is a state reptile?
  • Scottsdale Community College is home to...............brace your self...........Artie the fighting Artichoke! ---An aggressive vegetable? This guy sure does not look like it:
  • The North Carolina School of Arts has a Fighting Pickle for its mascot.---Why? Because it is an art school??? I am so inartistic.
  • Southern Arkansas is home to Mule Riders --slow but strong???
These make the "papemakers" sound pretty darn good. Which one do you like the most?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Mean Mom I am Not

For the last three months or so my days have begun with the words,
"I've had it! This torture has got to stop!"

What torture? One might ask, lady, you've just woken up! I am referring to the torture often placed by newborns in their first months of life a.k.a. sleepless nights. As I mentioned in the post written earlier, I am still awaken every two hours by my chubby cheek son who is eight and a half months of age.

In case you missed it, I said my son is EIGHT AND A HALF MONTH but has a sleeping habit of a newborn. When I mention this to my closest friends (you know those who tell you the truth in your face) I get absolutely no pity from them. They simply say that the fault does not lie in him but in me. Excuse me? As if I deliberately lay there and stroke his face with a feather until he wakes up. What my friends refer to is that I have broken every mommy rule out there in regards to kids and sleeping habits. All of my kids are/were rocked to sleep. All of my kids have slept/sleep in our bed. All of my kids woke up/wake up in the middle of the night for a nightly snack. All this happened/happens because I am not MEAN enough.

They say I have got to teach him by letting him cry until he is blue in color, his body shaking, snot all over his tear deprived face and too exhausted to protest and he'll fall asleep on his own. But how can ANYONE do that to this:

Not that we didn't attempt to do it. We've tried this technique with my daughter (oh, the fate of the firstborn) which was not only ineffective, but made her more clingy afterward. If you are a mother/father reading this, could you PLEASE comment with your suggestions on how we can teach our son to sleep through the night without being MEAN? I promise I'll make you a celebrity when my blog will actually be read by people.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

If You Procrastinate Christmas Preparations or The Most Bizarre Christmas Eve

If you procrastinate preparing for Christmas and think you can do last minute shopping for everything you might:
  • be snowed-in by the snowcalypse and would not be able to get out of the house for two weeks
  • have a neighbor stop by and ask you if you are starving because she is on her way to the store and could get us food. We humbly asked for a gallon of milk.
  • be so busy preparing for the last minute everything to turn around to kids who have done some face painting with permanent markers just in time for Christmas pictures. This is what they looked like after some aggressive washing
  • not be able to go shopping for ANY presents
  • look for some unused gift cards you were given to give to others
  • have a Christmas tree that looks like this on Christmas Eve
  • Use a Happy Birthday bag for the only real gift you do have

  • be blessed with parents who shopped for gifts for you from your kids preventing all sorts of negative noise

  • give pictures of the gifts because the gift did not arrive in time

  • use a candle from the guestroom as the Christmas centerpiece

  • have orange flavored water for the drink instead of a sparkling cider

  • miss your overdue hair stylist, nail professional, and waxing specialist appointments and look.....well, beautiful?

  • forget to check how long it takes to make a turkey and have your guests wait 3 hours to begin eating dinner at 10pm

Don't see the turkey? It is because it is still in the oven as I type this. It is 11:58pm. My dad could not wait any longer

Drum roll, please............................................................After 7 hours and 10 minutes, here is my sister Julia's first turkey!

You think we could have taken it out earlier? We do too. Here is Julia with her very supportive husband

If you forgo all the Christmas preparations, you might have the time of your life and remember what Christmas is really about. Though next year, I'll start preparing for Christmas in July.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

An Unplanned Escape

Last night I was on the phone with my good friend, Vera, whining how we are stuck because of snow and cannot go anywhere when someone knocked on our door. I was very surprised to have a visitor as we have not had anybody not even any of Peter's sixteen siblings stop by for a random visit for whole two days now. This is because even if their car was a tank, they would not be able to make it up our mountain on steep roads that have three feet of iced snow. This visitor turned out to be a nice neighbor of ours who very graciously invited us over to his house to watch a Blazer's game and have some pizza. I was about to accept the invitation when my husband came out of the garage and joined the conversation. He didn't like the idea as much as I did.

"Basketball? Nah, its the last thing I am interested in," he said, which sounded kind of rude.

"OK, then I'll be going as I have some more neighbors to invite," said the guy and left.

"I just had a chance to LEAVE the house for the first time in a WEEK and you blew it," I scolded him.

"To go and waste an hour and a half watching a game on television? Lets spend some quality time together as a family instead, " he said.

(Yes, I know I am a lucky woman to have a husband who prefers talking to me to watching sports on television. You can go ahead and envy me.)

That is when I reminded him that we have broken our family record with the amount of hours we have spent as a family this week. We have also have spent soooooo much time in our house that an idea that one can LEAVE the house to watch a basketball game on a small television while eating grocery bought previously frozen pizza all while talking to people you hardly know sounded pretty good.

"Pizza? I didn't hear the pizza part." He said curiously.

I looked outside and saw what seemed like an exodus. Our fellow neighbors, some carrying small children were straddling over the snow bumps, trying very hard not to drop the kids on the ground. They were all heading one way, to the house of the nicest man on the block who actually gave a care about the sanity of his neighbors who have not left home in a week or more.

Not to much convincing came after I mentioned the pizza part and my husband agreed to go. I looked through my food deprived fridge and kitchen cabinets in an effort to find something that I could contribute to the party but found nothing. So I got out enough food to make a mediocre fruit salad while Peter got the kids ready. Right before we were to head out the door I looked my kids straight in the eyes and with a serious face said,

"Make sure you eat my fruit salad, even if no one else does, you hear?"

They nodded in agreement as they too were ready to do anything to get out of the house we usually are pretty fond of.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Ой, мороз мороз. Oh, Frost,Frost.

I was looking outside at our snowed in everything and shrugged at the thought of leaving the comfort of my cozy warm house to go outside when this Russian Folk song came to mind. So I looked it up on youtube and found this clip. It is a song about a guy who is trying to get home in an extreme winter cold and is asking "the frost" not to stand in his way of getting home to his wife who is very jealous. Hope you enjoy pictures of Russian winters, Tina!

About Me in Numbers

This post was inspired by the meanest mom, only my numbers are not as exaggerated and thus not as fun. For those of you that care here it goes:

1: number of husbands I intend to have
2: number of kids my mother had
3: number of kids I have
4: number of kids I want to have (on certain days)
5: number of times I took a deep breath today in an effort to prevent screaming out loud
6: number of years it took me to get my bachelor's degree
7: number of years we've been married
8: number of Christmas gifts I still need to buy
9: number of interrupted hours of sleep I get if I am lucky
10: total years of schooling I will write on applications after I am done with my masters and impress everyone
11: number of states/countries I've traveled to (Washington, Wyoming, Colorado, Hawaii, California, Mexico, Antigua, Germany, France, Russia, Canada)
12: how old I was when I immigrated to the US
13th child is my husband in his family. So far he's been the luckiest one.
14: number of years I've had a crush on my husband
15: number of minutes my baby's naps have been these past few days, whats up with that?
16: number of times I asked my husband if we could PLEASE get a housemaid
17: number of children my mom in-law gave birth to and raised. I am not even kidding.
18: number of books waiting to be read by me
19: number of years I have been playing piano though you would never be able to tell that as I am pretty good at hiding that fact
20 years old I was when I got married to the love of my teenage crush

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Letter to Our Neighbors

Dear Neighbors,

I am writing this letter to both apologize and explain something to you. You have seen something through your blind less windows today you did not expect to see at such ungodly hour. I know you are dying to know what exactly is wrong with the neighbors you've never met. If you couldn't see who/what was making loud noises as it was dark outside, let me clarify. Five males. Wearing nothing but underwear. Jumping and rolling in the snow. You thought you saw this didn't you, but weren't sure. Please understand that we are not crazy nor suicidal. We are Russian. On occasion, Russians like to use banya aka Finish Sauna. Still confused? Basically its a little wooden shack that has a stove that produces enormous amounts of heat where you go to get sweaty and get whipped with birch branches (venik). You don't see it? We do have it, its in our basement.

No, it is not as bad as it sounds/looks. Believe it or not we think its good for us. After you are done with that procedure, you may want to go outside and jump in the snow or an icy pool.

See, we are not the only ones who are crazy. Other people do it too. As for the loud noises we apologize for those, but you would scream louder if you did what they did today. And we would understand. So, if you are still curious and want to add a few years to your life, stop by. We'll be happy to expose you to this temperature variation. If you are still annoyed, get some blinds and pray for warmer weather.


Your Russian neighbors

Friday, December 19, 2008

an intruder

When we woke up today we learned that someone has made an attempt to invade our privacy. The family felt violated and the feeling of suspense was in the air. Thank goodness it snowed again last night so the footprints of the intruder were clearly imprinted for all to study.

"Mom, I think it was a cougar, or a deer or a wolf!" said my daughter with eyes wide open. So we print ten pages of cougar foot prints and compare them to the ones found on our deck.

Just then someone suggested that

and these

look like the foot prints of um---a dog!? Just a plain old domestic animal. Yes, dear readers I know what you are thinking and you don't have to say it out loud. We need to get a pet as soon as possible or one day our kids will grow up and ask the zookeeper if they could pet a cub lion.

The mystery, however, has not been completely solved and one question still ponders in the air of this house. That question is this:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dmitri Hvorostovsky

This is probably the best baritone of our time who happens to be from Krasnoyarsk, a city in Siberia, Russia. My husband is just a little tiny bit obsessed with him and hopes to score a duet with him sometime in the near future.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

So Afraid of.....Snow!

So we are still under the winter weather advisory here in the Portland Metro area. Schools across the area were canceled again today. The school I work for has canceled school for the third day in a row only I don't really care as I am currently on leave and thus cannot be compensated for staying home, drinking apple cider and playing in the snow. The weather and the road conditions turned out to be better than predicted and the school districts could have probably gotten away with having the schools open. The worry was not so much the snow but the ice and the freezing rain that we were supposed to get a lot of today. So what happens if this weather holds up for the next few weeks or so? Will we learn how to drive by the time we are back to our rainy Oregon self? Or maybe we should all take a field trip to the Midwest where they loooove snow I hear and thus dread global warming the most.

Or maybe we should learn how to survive DA WINTER from our friends in Siberia, Russia. Try navigating through this!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Good friends, good times

In spite of the weather, the party was a success! We had about 8 families over. I was glad everyone made it to the party and home safe as it was getting very icy out. My sister and her husband ended up dumping their car out on the side of the road and walking uphill for about 30 minutes all while carrying a big glass desert dish. We were surrounded by a good group of friends whom we've known for 15 years or more. These were the friends we've met when we were pre-teens and with whom we hung out pretty regularly all through youth until we all got married. Catching up on the past and the present and deliberating over the future was a lot of fun. Today is my husband's actual b-day. We are hanging out at home and enjoying the snowy weather from the comfort of our house. A (with some help from mom) made the sweetest card for her daddy. I like her thinking. She knows what her parents really need right now.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The weather outside is frightful and I am planning a party

We've decided to celebrate my husband's birthday by inviting oh, about 9 families for dinner. These are pretty close friends of ours, some of whom we haven't had over in a long time. I've been pretty excited about the whole thing until I checked the weather. It is supposed to snow heavily tomorrow. The temperatures are about to hit record low too. I called a good friend of mine and told her how nervous I am that people won't be able to make it to our house and was about to cancle the party. I am planning to cook full course meals for 20+ people and would hate to pig out on it all by myself! You see, we live on a hill that is elevated about 500 feet from the valley floor. And it might be a challenge getting to our house if it is snowing outside. I used to dread snow days when I was working. What are you talking about you say, teachers looooooove snow days! I do too if they cancel school. But if they don't because there is no snow where the school is I get to risk my life driving up and down our little mountain on a car that has no chains (because my husband is too cheap or too lazy to get me those) or a four wheel drive. "You blink and the snow is gone, " he says, "so why bother." It is true that we are not spoiled with the snow here in the Northwest. So when we do have it, its a BIG deal. Schools close, corporations release workers early, the news reporters suddenly have something to to talk about and citizens are glued to the television watching cars get stuck and struck here and there because of snow. Anyhow, we'll see who shows up tomorrow. Now that I think about it, most people we invited live on the same hill as we do and were born in Siberia. Very diverse circle of friends, I know. If no one shows up, I'll put a sign at the foot of the hill that reads:
"Whoever makes it up this hill alive is invited to my husband's birthday party. Bring good spirit and a snow sled."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Worst Comedy Ever

I am writing in an effort to save two hours of someone's precious time that amounts to the thing called life. Last Friday, I asked my sister who suggested that we have a movie night to rent the movie "Airplaine!". I bleakly remember seeing it about 16 years ago back in Russia thought I remember really liking it. The critics at rottentomatoes (ratings of which I am starting to seriously disagree with) marked it as "fresh" with 98% approval rate. That's 48/49 critics liking the film a lot. Yes, it had some corny humor they said, but it was funny corny. Not only that, on the back of the DVD someone wrote that this was one of the best comedies ever made. My sister who had a feeling this film was going to be a disaster found it at Blockbuster which further impressed me I shamefully confess.
"If this movie wasn't funny, Blockbuster would not keep it on its shelves for 28 years, I said to her."
So here I am sitting in our bonus room getting ready to be laughing out loud. About 10 minutes into the film, I started to understand that the movie was not even remotely funny. It wasn't just the corniness that an 80s comedy delivers, the humor was outright gross. So we gave it another 20 minutes or so and turned it off in disgust. I felt cheated and my sister could not believe that I would choose such garbage. I have very little time to dedicate to movie watching as I rather be sleeping thus I usually choose with care and am usually happy with my choice. This Christian movie critic website has been my aid in those choices and even though it is only one critic, one opinion, it is an opinion that challenges the films content against Christian values. Check it out!

Chronicle of a sleep deprived mother

This post has been inspired by Heather at ChezWhat? I was relieved to read her blog as I identify with missing my mind a lot lately too. You see, raising 3 young kids who have not been as fond of sleeping as I am, has taken its toll on my proper brain function. Lets begin with my first born, a daughter, A. When A was born 5 years ago, like a lot of first time moms, I was stressed beyond reason. Breastfeeding was not going well a lot and I started to express my milk using a pump. Every 3 hours. For 40 minutes a session. I will not comment on what this torture did to the shape of my breasts as I was so determined to feed my baby the best that long term effects of anything but her health mattered least. The first time I had to supplement her formula was when she was 3 months of age and I almost cried. You see, I believe I was hypnotized by all the baby books I've read that emphasized the importance of breastfeeding and I felt like I was a horrible mother to be feeding her her formula. I have to say that I got part of my life back after I started supplementing. Though I continued to pump for another three months, Abby had a pretty good feeding schedule and I was able to get some sleep. When she was about 2.5 years of age, and I was sleeping through the night most days I got pregnant with N. Numerous trips to the bathroom during pregnancy turned out to be nothing compared to the sleep deprivation that was to come with N's birth. Not only did this kid wake up every three hours to eat until he was about 2 years old, he is our early bird, our human alarm clock. He would wake up at 5 a.m. wanting someone to play with him. I got pregnant with T when N was 13 months old. That pregnancy year between attending to my bathroom needs and N's feeding I woke up on average 7 times a night. When T, our little 11 pounder was born, for the first time in months I slept for a stretch of 6 hours the first three days or so. I would wake up all rejuvenated ready to take on a new day. I am not sure what exactly happened since that time for T's sleeping patterns have been so very sporadic. He is eight months old now and I find myself waking up every 2 hours to feed him. Is that normal, people? Yes, sleep and brain deprived I am. Now, what am I to do, dear nonexistent readers? How can I get my brain cells to function properly again? I mean I am forgetting basic things and I often find myself searching for simple words and I often stop during the middle of the sentence scrambling for words needed to finish it. I am terrified to return to the adult world and engage in adult conversations and problem solving for adults are not as forgiving of the dumb as little kids are. For now, they think I am the best and the smartest thing alive in their little planet.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Our Trip to Hawaii

This picture could be on the next billboard for Hawaiian Air. You know, those "Work as Much as You Want" ones.

A few weeks ago, I took a very unplanned, very unbudgeted trip to the Big Island of Hawaii. My husband had a project to complete there so he flew there the next day after he was asked to do so. His brother had text him about this opportunity while he was at choir practice. So he came home and said, " I have good news and I have...good news." I interrupted him right there and said that I do not even want to hear about it as his brother has already notified me that he was looking for Peter to tell him about this project. I had bittersweet feelings about having him gone for the next week or so. On one hand, I knew that this was a good opportunity for him to make some money as (oh my!) he's been out of work for about two days and had no big projects planned for the next week. But I also could not imagine how it is that I will mangage with three small children all by myself without anyone to come home and send me to take a nap. So he left and it was just kids and I for a few days until...he started outright teasing me. He would send me pictures of him having a blast after a busy day of work that apparently ends at noon in Hawaii. He would tell me that he went swimming with the sea turtles and that the temp there stays around 85 degrees. By about the third day of this I had enough and told him that Tima ( my youngest) and I are flying in to join him. Though this was not the best financial decision I have ever made, boy did we have a blast. Leaving the 40 something degree rainy Northwest, sending my oldest two to grandma's, and spending Thansgiving evening with my husband on the beautiful island of Hawaii, felt like I took a peek at heaven. If only I could pemenatnly drown my credit card with its balance down those clear waters, I would have felt no guilt whatsoever for having the time of my life.


So I decided to join the rest of the world and begin a blog. I realize that I am about half a decade behind yet it is still as exciting. I am creating this blog for purely selfish reasons but mostly to revive my sleep deprived neurons. We'll see how it goes.