Monday, April 2, 2018

Don't wanna

5 years ago, I had just applied for Permanent Resident status in St. Petersburg. It is the most permanent status you can get without going for citizenship. I started to read about Green Cards in the U.S. to do a comparison, but I don't really have time to do a full comparison, so I just jotted down a few points. I'm not sure if someone with a Green Card in the U.S. would need to prove their residency very often unless they were traveling abroad a lot. But I could be wrong.

Green Card

-valid for 10 years
-can stay out of the U.S. for up to 1 year...however, you can be investigated if you are gone for certain lengths of time
-don't need to demonstrate English proficiency until applying for citizenship?

Russian Permanent Residency

-valid for 5 years
-can stay out of Russia for up to 6 months out of the year
-must confirm residency by checking in once per calendar year
-must pass exam in Russian language, history, and law in order to apply

Since 5 years have passed, I now have to renew my residency permit. That last point (the exam) is what I have accomplished so far, along with getting a new translation of my passport. The exam was challenging and maybe I will write about it in a separate post. I still need to fill out the form and pay the govt fee at the bank and probably get a bank statement for proof of funds, and figure out the line system. I'm assuming we will have to wait in line overnight? I need to find someone's brain to pick who did it recently.

I'm definitely procrastinating. I don't want to fill out more forms and get more stamps (hopefully) and be scrutinized. I just don't want to do it. I wish there was another way. But....paperwork will always be there, no matter where you live. I'm sure some out there are dragging their feet about taxes this time of year. I'm grateful I have relatives helping me on the U.S. side.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

March Survey/Selfie

Made it through March! I'm sure there will be more snow off and on, but seems like the ground is thawing.
Sketchy night kitchen pose. Posting at 11:30 pm, fit it in before the month changed! :)

What I've been...

Reading: Decluttering at the Speed of Life (Dana K. White), more in Love Thy Body (Nancy Pearcey), Mary Poppins and Boxcar Children with David

Watching: When Calls the Heart (I'm only on season 2 or 3), Ultimate Beastmaster with Andrei, Matilda with David

Cooking/Eating: Artisan bread, pancakes, salsa, getting take-out from the authentic Mexican place down the road, trying to learn how to use cast iron

Listening to: Worship playlists, "Listener kids" worship music for kids, Easter hymns

Striving towards: Trying to knock some dreaded adult tasks off the to-do list (as usual). Passed my exam to keep my permanent residency, and will need to get my application in next (this) month.

Looking forward to: See above...moving on with other projects once the dreaded paperwork is complete. Also looking forward to Holy Week, which starts tomorrow for us.

What David is up to: Getting over a virus, more food aversions than ever, still really into watching the Wild Kratts and acting out all the different "creature features" every day! Being a great big brother.

What Sophia is up to: Just learned how to say "No!" Climbing and jumping. Playing dress-ups. Copying everyone! Discovering how fun it is to jump in puddles (along with her brother, of course).

Your turn!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Death and dying (heavy)

Trying to write down some deep heavy thoughts with constant commentary about creatures in my ear.

I was thinking a lot about this topic yesterday and planned to write about it today if I could recall my thoughts, with it not even registering initially that today is Good Friday in the west (1 week later for us). So, these are everyday thoughts, but also tie in to the Crucifixion.

Death as a taboo?

As I mentioned previously, our church sermon last Sunday was about taboo topics, one of them being death. But after thinking about it, I realized that there are a few different conditions here. When a tragic event happened earlier this week, I didn't have words to express my sadness. But was it because it was a "taboo" and I was embarrassed to talk about it? I did try to bring it up in a few contexts, but ultimately I decided that some things can't always be expressed in words. And since it wasn't my loss (I didn't know any of the victims), it wasn't necessary to the healing process for me to talk about it or reach out to the relatives. I think it would be different if it were my own loss and I needed to process it, or if my friend lost someone and I needed to initiate the conversation to help that person heal.

So if it's okay to mourn with or without words, what makes it a taboo topic? I think the two hard parts are: 1) how they died and 2) what happens next.

And it is actually pretty hard to write about!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Russia's own loss of schoolchildren

In Russia tomorrow (Wednesday) we are observing a national day of mourning for those who perished in the shopping mall fire on Sunday. Russian diplomats and poisoned spies are in the main headlines, but the rest of the world should know that the Russian people are deeply grieving about another matter entirely.

If you have friends in Russia, you may want to write and express sympathy. Of course we are in St. Petersburg and the fire was nowhere near us, but it is a national tragedy, and I'll explain why.

Part of why it is so painful is that many victims were children, and as you've probably read, safety measures were not up to standard. As an adult I often feel like I am taking risks with my own safety, but children do not have a choice...they depend on us. I think Americans are fairly obsessed with personal safety, so this kind of thing wouldn't happen to the same extent, but then...

I think you could draw a lot of parallels with the most recent U.S. school shooting, since that is still fresh in people's minds. How could this happen? How could children be so unprotected? Where are the policies to prevent this? What is going to be done to ensure that this doesn't happen again? And just like in the U.S., it has happened before, and then some time went by and the memories faded, until it happened again.

Friday, March 23, 2018

March the Lion

I have to admit, I haven't been feeling like blogging lately, but it's not that there's anything wrong. I've been content with less computer time lately (with the exception of occasional bouts of scroll addiction on my phone), which is nice. I think if I decide to start blogging regularly I will try to monitor my computer time closely and make a limited list of sites to visit, or even turn the internet off in order to write.

I wish there were an easier way to post photos and create a little visual interest without getting on my computer. I don't really understand how to do it from my phone. Bloggers, what is the most streamlined way to post photos?

Typing is far easier from a laptop than a phone, of course.

Getting back to the title of this post, here it is March 23 and still snowy here like in many parts of the U.S., I hear. Do you think there will be snow for Easter? There most likely will be here, but that's typical. As I've probably mentioned before, Russian "Palm" Sunday actually makes use of pussy-willows!

I've got a lot of bureaucracy/paperwork type stuff hanging over me, and I feel like I have to put off fun plans until that's done. I've been doing some spring cleaning during the day, but whenever a babysitter's available I end up using that time to do some grown-up errand rather than doing some much-needed shopping or getting lunch with a friend. Hopefully soon!

One thing I was browsing on Pinterest today was (were?) ways to bring nature into the home. Rocks, leaves, plants to touch? Dried flowers? I like the idea of getting out into nature, but I'm not inclined to sit around playing with dead things that used to live outside. Where would I get a dead stump? And do drawings of the samples count too, or is there some sort of healing property in the items themselves? Is it true that wicker baskets are more grounding than plastic ones? And why do we need to be grounded, anyway?

Off to make a wasp for David's class tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Musing on Lenten traditions

What do you like to do for Lent? Or, rather, what feels meaningful?

I've never gotten as much "into" Lent as I have Advent. I wonder why that is? Maybe because there is a measure of sorrow mixed in with the ultimate joy?

I stocked up on some new picture books last summer, as well as a devotional resource I'll mention below. As a visual person, it's the decorative elements that appeal to me more than the readings or other observances. But I still haven't really established any traditions. It's hard to find the time to get out all the materials and build a good supply that can be used annually.

It's a little bit confusing this year because the eastern and western Resurrection Sundays are a week apart. I keep forgetting which is which. I guess western is April 1 and eastern is April 8? When we had pancake week here, I was confused over whether Lent had started yet. Of course, I already knew that Valentine's Day coincided with Ash Wednesday, so that helped me figure it out.

Speaking of Valentine's Day, I decided to leave up Valentine's decorations until Easter. It seems like a good theme for the interim period-constantly thinking about love! I saw that there were a few articles about balancing Valentine's Day and Ash Wednesday and I wasn't quite sure what the big deal was...not eating chocolate? At any rate, that day of course ended tragically for American high-schoolers. :(

Monday, February 19, 2018

January challenge conclusions

As I wrote about last month, for January I focused on changing family sleep habits. Specifically, mine and Sophia's were problematic. Of course Andrei is also sleep-deprived on a regular basis, so he also benefits from Sophia sleeping better. But he controls his own sleep habits. ;)

Ironically, we flew to the U.S. on January 30, resetting our internal clocks. But I guess you could say it was the perfect final "exam"! :)

Surprisingly, both kids slept well while we were in the U.S. Sophia did not have her usual "happy hour" in the middle of the night. However, this meant that she was waking very early the first few mornings and I got to experience what so many parents of early-bird toddlers complain about. I went to sleep early, but still found it hard to get up early. Even when we started sleeping a little later, I found myself prone to morning melt-downs. I'm definitely not a morning person! And I also wondered, is there something wrong with ME or is it just a matter of whether the crankiness happens in the morning or afternoon?

Now that we've been back in Russia for a week, Sophia is starting to sleep better. However, this is thanks partly to my meticulously planning and limiting her naps. It is counter-intuitive for me to do this, but it has gotten her sleeping at night again. While she had fought her second nap for several months, I finally learned that is it actually the MORNING nap that should be dropped, making more awake time in the first half of the day rather than the second half. I also read that there should be about 4 hours of awake time between the last nap and bedtime. We'd been doing it the opposite, napping earlier and then crashing an hour or two before bedtime. I think we're on the right track now!