Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Kitchen smells

Right now my kitchen smells like my kitchen back in Ukraine- the smell of cooking beets and onions, garlic and potatoes.  Our farm box came this morning and contained beets and carrots and tomatoes, so I got the urge to make borscht.  It's been a long time since I made it- mostly because you cannot make borscht in small amounts, so you have to have enough people around to make the time and effort worthwhile. As it is, we are going to be eating borscht for the next century. 
My first roommate, another missionary, in our living room. Note the classy carpet on the wall decor. Very traditional

My Ukrainian roommate who taught me how to make borscht

Enjoying tea in the kitchen with friends. Notice the old radio on the wall over my friend Sasha's head. It's an old Soviet model that only plays one station, has no antenna and can only be turned on or off. It played music that the government chose. http://www.bellybuttonwindow.com/1997/russia/there_is_only_one_ra.html

There's something about this time of year that makes me think of my time in Ukraine. The memories seem to be especially strong when I'm walking out in the cold late autumn weather. I remember my mornings, bundled up in my warm coat and gloves, walking across town from my flat in the center of the city to the university a little way away.  I remember breathing the cold air as I made my way through parks lined with pensioners and craftsmen selling items from their homes- old medals and Soviet souvenirs, matroshkas and other Ukrainian artwork. I remember making my way up the old staircase inside the university, in to the rundown and barely heated classroom where I would study grammar and vocabulary with my teacher and sip from small plastic cups filled with hot tea.

My building- I lived on the second floor- with the enclosed balcony (which was full of ancient things belonging to the landlord)

The University building where I studied

It seems like a lifetime ago that I was that person.  Pretty much the only resemblance to that life is that I still live in a city... and right now my kitchen smells like cooked beets.
At Livadia Palace in Yalta

I had a thing about photographing Lenin statues

Saturday, November 26, 2011

An unexpected twist in the road

We survived Thanksgiving. Most of the day was pretty quiet- went running (along with most of the population of Seattle, or so it looked like), watched the parade on TV, then went to my uncle's house to bond with a couple of dozen relatives.  These are relatives that I am not actually biologically related to and I see one branch of this family only about once a decade.  My grandmother had the good suggestion that, since the local family and the family from the other city don't see each other often, we should try to not sit with our spouses and people we know well, but with people we don't talk to often. This backfired in a terrible way, as no one really could think of anything to talk about, and we were busy with the 12 kids who were sitting all over the place.  It was the quietest gathering of 27 people ever, I'm pretty sure.

But the food was good and we made it through and yesterday Daniel took Ethan to work with him (hurray!) and I recovered and cleaned our house and did things like that. And when we went out in the late afternoon to Target, it wasn't too crowded and we still got some good deals. And Daniel bought a new pair of jeans. In the kids department.  And you wonder why I have body issues.

Okay, so when I was about 3, my dad went back to school. He already had a degree but wanted a different one. I'm vague on the details, because I was 3. And then he got a master's degree at some point in time.  Again, I'm vague on the details.  My mom was a stay-at-home mom until I was 13, when my family realized that they could not pay for college on a pastor's tiny salary. So then Mom went back and got her master's degree and that took up several years when I was a teenager.

My brother has started a collection of master's degrees and certifications and things like that. He has been studying and in school pretty much non-stop for the past decade, with no plans to stop.

I got my master's degree when I was single, and always prided myself on the fact that I was done with all that and would never disrupt my family by going back to school. When Daniel and I married, I sighed a breath of relief knowing that he (disliking reading  and very well established in his career) would not ever want to go back to school.

I smirked when friends at church and in my other life went through the "going back to school while juggling family life" thing. Because that would NEVER be us.

I should have heard God laughing at me about then.  Because I spent a good bit of last week working on my grad school application. 

For a couple of months now, I've been thinking a lot about the idea of pursuing a degree in law and public policy. I've gotten involved in the anti-human trafficking cause and have been learning a lot about advocacy and lobbying. And I've had the feeling that I really needed some education and could be a much more effective advocate with some further education.  After a good bit of research, I found a program that really appeals to me- it's an online course of study through a major Christian university back east.  Right now I'm just applying for the certificate program, but when the kids are both in school, I can transfer my credits over and go for another master's degree, if I so choose.

So now I'm filling out applications and buying GRE study books (darned test scores are only valid for 5 years, and it's been way longer than that since I last took it) and freaking out about writing an essay and personal statement and things like that.  Oh, and wondering what the heck I'm doing, but at the same time really feeling that this is the path I need to walk down. 

I'm not applying to start until Fall 2012, so this wont cut into my blogging and Facebook time for a while yet. I know you were all concerned :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I am not going to survive this week

It's Tuesday.  It's raining. I did not get up and go running this morning.  It's after noon and my kids are still wearing their jammies.  And they are making me INSANE.  Ethan's off school this week, and that means there's no break, ever.  How quickly I got used to the quiet afternoons when he is at school and Vivian naps. This week it's constant bickering and shoving and Ethan is completely incapable of saying a single phrase without prefacing it with "Mom! Mom? Mom!" EVERY SINGLE TIME.  He's doing it now.

I've been struggling with Ethan lately- I'm so glad that he's gaining weight and the feeding tube has been such a huge relief. But him getting more calories means more energy. And with Ethan that means that some of his sensory issues are dialed up too.  He's a sensory seeker, which means he has to be touching someone and crashing into them and climbing and just constantly requiring input.  And I prefer to never have anyone touching me ever.  I've always been anti-physical contact. So much so that my grad school friends laughed at me because I required a large personal space bubble and would flinch if someone sat too close to me in class. So being climbed and bumped into and shoved all day by a little person is not my favorite thing. I love the hugs and kisses, but the rest of the constant touching makes me batty.

I really don't know how Ethan's teachers and therapists at school manage with 16 of these special needs boys. 

Oh, and Vivian's response to Ethan's pushing and shoving all day is to shriek and overreact at the top of her lungs.  ARGH. Thank goodness we have plans for tomorrow, because I think making it through today is going to do me in and I cannot do this for another day.

And did I mention that we are going to Thanksgiving with our usual group of relatives, but this year there are 14 extra people coming along. So there will be 27 people in my uncle's not huge house.  I have trouble breathing when I even think about that.  Thank goodness I am in charge of bringing the wine and can prepare properly :)

Now I need to stop whining and go work on being thankful for my kids and this free time we have together.  Deep breath.

Monday, November 14, 2011


We spent the long weekend up in Canada this weekend, hanging out with Daniel's friends and family, and actually finally getting to see my uncle. We hadn't seen him or his wife since our wedding, almost 6 years ago, so we were glad to finally have a less busy visit and to be able to make it to his home.

This weekend, when we weren't at home or at my uncle's house, we were hanging out with hordes of people. On Friday (which pretty much everyone had off school/work up in Canada), we made the gigantic mistake of going to the local mega-mall, where I'm pretty sure half of the population of Canada also was hanging out. Then we went to the Chinese mall, which was slightly less crowded. But not much.  We also went to crowded restaurants, the very crowded science museum and in between places sat in a lot of traffic.

As you know, I am an introvert. And I am an introvert who spends 90% of her waking hours at home with the kids, not interacting with anyone except via Facebook or Skype chat.  I don't usually talk on the phone (because I am scared of it), and I rarely even write emails any more. So I've totally lost what little ability I once had for being around lots of people.

This socialization overload has a weird effect on me- I develop the obsessive need to purge our home of everything unnecessary and to clean and tidy and organize.  Even things like my Facebook feed or the number of blogs that I follow but don't read finally got to be too much. So, since we got home last night, I've been bouncing from project to project, tidying, purging, removing, etc.

I hope this little episode lasts long enough to get to the things that really need organized, like the junk drawer and the snack cabinet. Must stay crazy a little longer!!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Yesterday, Daniel did one of the most romantic things ever- he came home at 1:15 PM.  It's been a really hard week for him at work with some really late nights. But today they were not trying another of their (ultimately doomed) deploys, so he packed up and made it home early. And we were SO happy. We had a morning playdate with good friends, then only few hours of each others' company and then the fabulous Daddy was home and we were so happy.

And then last night my amazing church hosted a Parents Night Out, and we dropped the kids off and ran away to dinner and then to Target. It was so nice to have a meal without anyone throwing food or dancing next to the table.  During our date, I kept thinking- we should be more romantic or we should have more romantic conversations. And then I realized- this is who we are. These are the conversations we had when we were dating- ones about the economy and technology and bank accounts. Because this is us. We are not romantic people (Although Daniel does bring me flowers fairly regularly) Neither of us likes overt displays of emotion. We operate best in a world that is controlled and calm. And that works for us, even if it's not the type of romance that you see in the movies.  

So in my world, yesterday was perfect. My husband came home early, and was here for us. And then we spent time together at dinner and at Target. And we were happy.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Once upon a time, my life did not revolve around poop

Poop. Poop, poop, poop. That's all we talk about or think about around here anymore. Has Ethan gone lately?  How's his stomach doing? Should we run a feed tonight since he hasn't pooped lately? What about Vivian? How's she doing?  MY LIFE IS ALL ABOUT THE POOP.

This does not fill me with a great sense of accomplishment as a person. Particularly since the whole pooping thing has turned into a giant power struggle with Ethan. He'll just sit there for HOURS and do nothing. He just stares into space and doesn't make any attempt to go and it makes me insane.  Which I generally fix by lurking just out of his sight in the kitchen and trying to eat my weight in snack food while I wait for him to JUST DO SOMETHING ALREADY!!!

In 48 hours though, we will be ditching our kids at our church for a few hours for a free babysitting evening! Three and a half hours of free child care!  Daniel and I have been so overwhelmed with Ethan's health and Vivian's recent viruses and Daniel's insanely busy job that we haven't even really had a conversation (at least one that wasn't about website deployments (his obsession of late) or poop (mine, obviously)). 

Our big plans for the evening involve going to an Indian restaurant and then to Target.  Because we are wild and crazy that way :)

In other news, anxiously waiting for the time change on Sunday morning so that I can actually run in the mornings again without worry of being attacked in the darkness. Because really, if you were some sort of bad guy and you had your choice of who to grab, I'm clearly the slowest runner out there and provide the best chance.  At least that's my excuse for why I've not been running lately. What I really need is a running partner, but that's not terribly likely to happen. 

And in other, other news, I have two social events scheduled for the next two days. I get to talk to other actual human beings (probably about poop, but I'll try to think of something else to contribute to the conversation). So happy!