Sunday, January 27, 2008

Snowy Sunday

This morning we woke up to a pretty blanket of snow covering everything. It makes the city look so much nicer! We took a walk in the park before church and took some pictures.

As for an update on Lydia's potty training... She is doing great! She still naps and sleeps at night with a diaper, but otherwise, as she says, "No diapers! Big girl!" Only a little accident every once in a while. It only took her about a week to get the hang of it. Now that she is a "big girl" she has decided she doesn't need to nap. After lunch she always says she is tired and wants to get in her crib with "Aa-aa Baby" (her monkey and baby), but she just spends one and a half to two hours in there playing, talking and singing. At least she's usually happy in there, and I still get a little break!

Lydia is learning and talking so much. She can count to ten, and sometimes 13, and she tries to count to 20 (it usually ends up, "iteen, iteen, iteen, TWENTY!"). She also surprised me one day when she suddenly started reciting all the colors and animals in the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See... in order! She tries to say all kinds of things that she hears us say, and makes up two-word sentences. One of my favorites is that when she calls to me from another room, she often says, "Hey Babe!" I guess she heard that from Daddy! She's so much fun at this age. Some of her favorite activities are coloring, stacking blocks, playing with her Noah's Ark toys, pushing her doll (or anything else) in the toy stroller, and playing soccer with Daddy ("Kick-a-ball!"). Today she and Daddy played soccer in the snow.

Lydia is also learning to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and Jesus Loves Me. The first one often goes, "Minkle dar, How I won... sky!" The second goes, "Jesus Me, Jesus Me, Bible tells me so!" And sometimes the two songs end up merging into one medley!

Saturday, January 19, 2008


This slideshow gives you a glimse into what has been consuming my time this week! We decided to go into potty training full force. I guess I should say I decided, because Lydia had her doubts about it. We started on Tuesday, with NO diaper. Lydia was excited about wearing panties, but she soon decided the potty wasn't for her. We had about 7 wet pants accidents that day. The encouraging thing was that I knew she could hold it when she had to go, because she'd hold it the whole time she was on the potty, and then let loose when we put her pants on.

The next few days were met with varying amounts of success. Lydia's favorite phrase when I sat her on the potty was, "No plops!" After six "accidents" just yesterday morning (I don't think they were exactly accidental), I was glad when the nanny came to take over, and my language lesson gave me a break. Last night Lydia did much better, and so far today only two sets of wet pants, and lots of "plops!" We're making progress!

On another note, Aaron is gone today with a friend, helping to deliver Christmas gifts to children whose mothers are in jail. Our friend got connected with a neat organization that does this, and I'm excited to hear how it went.

Aaron's first two weeks back at school after Christmas break have gone well. He is enjoying his teaching, and the weeks fly by. He said he'd much rather have that job than the one I'm doing right now!

Here's a recent picture of Lydia trying out a new treat. These things are like pelmeni, except instead of meat inside, they have fruit. These particular ones had blueberries, and Lydia talked about her "purple hands" for a long time afterward. I think these are usually boiled, but I tried frying them too and liked them better that way. Reminiscent of McDonald's apple pies.
By the way, we have some new videos on our YouTube site (see the link to the left). They're of Lydia, of course. And of course, they're cute! :)

Here's one more picture of Lydia being creative with her underwear.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Happy New Year!

We have several new pictures and stories... First a view of the area right outside of our apartment building on January 1st. All the litter you see is the remains of fireworks (some very large, loud fireworks) that were being set off all through the night until 3 or 4 in the morning. We hardly slept at all, but we had some neat fireworks displays right outside our window! Thankfully, Lydia slept through most of it and only woke up once. New Years Eve is the biggest holiday celebrated here.

Here's a close up:

On December 27th we took a walk around some of the historic parts of the city in the afternoon & evening, and we also went inside St. Isaac's Cathedral. Here are some pictures from that walk, and inside the cathedral.

We had another fun day on Thursday. We finally got to see the inside of the Hermitage (in the Winter Palace). Every first Thursday of the month is free admission, so we decided to take advantage of that. We knew it would probably be crowded, since this is the major holiday week for Russians, so we got there right when they opened at 10:30 AM. There was a long line of people already waiting to get in, as you can see in one of the first few pictures of the following slide show. They're standing in a line, right? That kind of surprised me, because it seems like many other places where we would expect a line, Russians form more of a tight cluster around the entrance. Well, as soon as they opened the gates to the palace courtyard, the line completely disintegrated, and everyone rushed forward and mobbed around the doors! It didn't take too long to get in, and once we were inside, the museum didn't seem too crowded, since it is so huge. I mean huge! We were there from 10:30 to about 3:00, and we only saw most of the 2nd floor, and one room on the first floor. And that was even without really taking time to appreciate all the art. Even if you're not into art, it's an amazing place to visit just to see the inside of the palace. The opulence from the time of the tsars is just incredible. The Hermitage's art collection includes over 3 million pieces, and even though the place is so huge, only about 5-10% of it is on display at one time. We'll have to go back another time to see more of it. On our way out, we realized it was good we got there when we did, as there was a long line to get in, reaching all the way through the palace courtyard! You can see that in one of the last pictures of the slideshow. Lydia would have stayed home with her nanny, but she called and said she was sick, so Lydia came with us. She did great, and she brightened the day of the usually stern babushkas who sit in the rooms of the museum to keep their eyes on everyone coming through. One even gave Lydia a piece of candy!

One more slide show to share. This brings us to today. At 10:00 this morning it was -19 Celsius, and by 11:30 it had warmed up to -18! So, we decided to go out and finally try our ice skates and Lydia's sled! It was actually nice to be outside because the sun was shining for the 4th day in a row!!! You don't know how exciting that is until you've lived here for a while! The bundling up is quite a process, but Lydia loves going outside. We went to the park across the street, an she had great fun on the sled. No snow, but we pulled her around on the frozen pond. We couldn't stay out too long though- my toes and fingers started to freeze! I think I need some reindeer skin mittens and boots! I don't think I've ever experienced weather this cold. Now we understand why people kept telling us in December that it wasn't REALLY winter yet.

Here's a picture of Father Frost outside of Smolny Cathedral that we saw the other day. I guess he rides a boat in St. Pete!