Sunday, May 31, 2009

Graduation, Baby Shower, & Lydia Photo Shoot

I'm trying to do a better job at keeping our blog updated, so... can you believe it- I'm doing another post already! The only bad thing about it is that it tends to make me stay up too late (especially now that the sun is setting after 11pm here!) Yup, it's 10:20pm, and I still see bright sunshine out my window!

The graduation ceremony for the international academy was held on Friday. Aaron had the privilege of giving the address for the students.
The graduates:
The sign language club performing a song:

Some of the band members:

Yesterday, I had a baby shower! It was a fun time and a great blessing! My two dear friends Christy and Cristy organized it. I didn't take many pictures, but here are a few:

We have had some beautiful days here, and today really felt like summer! It was 26 or 27 celsius, which is somewhere around 78-79 fahrenheit! It feels SOOOO great after a long winter and cold spring!!! This afternoon we went for a walk in the park and took some pictures of Lydia in her new dress. The tulips are so pretty, and the lilacs are blooming too. Their fragrance fills the air as you enter the park.

One more interesting/bizarre thing: This afternoon this group of people was singing & dancing on the corner near our building. We think they were a Hare Krishna group. Strange!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Field Day

Yesterday the international school had a field day at a large park in the northern part of the city. Lydia and I went along to watch and enjoy the beautiful day. We were blessed with sunshine and the warmest temperatures we have had so far this year. It felt so good! Many other parents came to watch, and Lydia had plenty of little 3 & 4 year old friends to run around with. Here are a few pictures:

Lydia & Olivia:
Lydia with friends Noble, Rita, and Olivia:
Some of the spectators:

Part of an eating competition:

Egg toss:

The students got a little carried away with shaving cream at the end. Here's Aaron carefully avoiding getting any cream on himself...

But someone else was determined that it wouldn't last long...

So he did get a bit creamed (sorry no picture of the result), but he didn't look as bad as the girls pictured above!

Tomorrow is graduation, and after that, Aaron is free for the summer! We're looking forward to some relaxing weeks in June before Baby arrives.

Speaking of Baby, I had another doctor appointment today, and everything is still looking good. He did say that he thinks the baby will come before the due date; probably sometime between June 18 and the end of the month. I wouldn't mind- I already often feel pretty uncomfortable! I only hope she waits until after the 20th, because we have a special date to see something at the Marinsky Theater, in celebration of our 10th anniversary! (Now that we have work visas we can get cheaper theater prices- woohoo! MUCH cheaper!) Our anniversary is in July, but we wanted to celebrate before Baby & sleepless nights!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lydia's Birthday Party

Last Saturday (May 23rd) was Lydia's big birthday party! Since her friend Noble is also turning 3 years old at the end of the month, we had a combined party for the two of them. We invited lots of their little friends, with the parents too. Since the crowd was too big for our apartment, we held it at our church, which worked out great.
Here is Noble's train cake, and Lydia's butterfly cake. If you want to see a video of them blowing out the candles, click on the YouTube link to the left.
Everyone starting to enjoy the food:

Some guys from church giving Lydia a gift:
After eating, we played some games:
And did a craft:
And everyone got some fun gifts!

It was quite a fun and memorable day! We are so thankful for good friends to share it with.
In other news, I had another ultrasound on Monday. The technician said that everything looks good and the baby is healthy. Praise the Lord! While she was showing us the baby's profile on the screen, we got to see our little girl open her mouth and stick her tongue out! (Does that say anything about her personality?) We could also see that she was swallowing. Pretty cool! She was estimated to be at 5 pounds already. I can't believe I only have about 5 weeks left until the due date! :)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Lydia's birthday & other exciting things

Lydia's 3rd birthday was last Sunday (the 17th)! She says that she is now big. The night before her birthday I decided it was time to give Lydia her first haircut.
Here's the "before" picture:
And there goes that long baby hair!

The result:

I think it turned out pretty nice! On Lydia's birthday, we had a little celebration with some pancakes for breakfast (with a candle on Lydia's), and we shared some cake at church. In the evening we skyped with Grandma & Poppaw, and they watched her open her presents that they had sent. Her really big party was yesterday, shared with her friend who is also turning three on the 31st, but I'll put pictures of that up later. Here are the ones of opening presents with Grandma & Poppaw.

Thanks for the great gifts! They have been keeping Lydia busy the past week. We're looking forward to more fun things coming with Mimi & Poppi in June!

Now for the latest belly picture, taken on May 18. (After I thought I couldn't possibly get any bigger...)

And the last picture is from the ultrasound on May 7th. Someone said it looks like she's blowing a bubble :) It's actually her hand held up near her face.

The baby looked healthy and seemed to be growing fine (they said she was already 2 kg, or about 4.5 pounds), but apparently the blood vessels in the placenta were a little bit constricted. I've been on medication for that the past 2 weeks, and I'll have another ultrasound tomorrow to check that everything is OK.

I'll give a quick update on getting Lydia registered for preschool, too. I think we got all the paperwork figured out and taken care of this week, and Lydia and I got to tour the preschool. It looks really nice, with lots of fun stuff! Lydia is excited and asking when she gets to go. However (there always seems to be ONE more thing...), they now told us that we need to get Russian health insurance for her. So we have until sometime in August to get that figured out. They gave me the address of where to go for it, so hopefully it will be an easy (and not too expensive) process.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Bits of daily life

Here are few things that have been going on since I last wrote. First, some pictures of one of the first warm days in April. We walked a few blocks north to the Neva River and enjoyed the sunshine.

One of the things we have enjoyed while living in St. Petersburg is having opportunities to host several guests. Recently we have had Alyona, a colleague with our organization, staying with us. Lydia loves to spend time with her. She has been so much fun to have around, and has also helped us on many occasions when our Russian language skills were lacking!

We also recently had Luciana, the fiance of a friend from church, stay with us for a few days. Lydia loved her too, and she got a lot of practice speaking Russian, since Luciana doesn't speak English.
We, being the scrabble-lovers that we are, had a real treat while Luciana was here. We got to play Russian scrabble! We had the help of the dictionary (and our friends when we got really stuck), but we did better than I thought we would. Of course, we still came in last place. The first 3 letters on our board spell a word we used. Any guesses what it means?

We've been getting good use out of our Settlers of Catan game (thanks, Mom & Dad M.!) Here we are teaching Alyona's friend Yanna how to play.
On May 11th we took a bus about an hour outside of the city to a place called "Oranienbaum." The town is called Lomonosov. (I think I have those spelled right). There is another palace there, with a large park to walk around in, although this one is more run-down than some of the other places. The weather wasn't quite as nice as we were hoping for, but it was still nice to get out of the city and into a more natural setting. We went with some other American friends, Kevin, Emily, and little Josiah.
Spring flowers!
Here's our future coffee junkie- drinking straight from the pot!
Alyona is gone on a trip right now, but she'll be back with us for a couple of weeks in June. (Then our next guest will be Aaron's mom- here for the birth of her newest granddaughter!) Alyona's birthday was going to be while she was gone, so we celebrated before she left.
I think I'll end this long post for now, but not without some funny quotes from Lydia:
Lydia: "Daddy, do you know what 'eagle' is?"
Daddy: "Well, it's a big bird."
Lydia: "Oh, I need to go to the store and buy some eagle."
Daddy: "Why?"
Lydia" "Because I need to make chicken breast."

Alyona: "I'll be leaving tomorrow."
Lydia: "Oh, but now it's already tomorrow!" (The previous day I had been telling her that her nanny was coming tomorrow, and now her nanny was there, so of course, it was tomorrow!)

Lydia (watching Daddy scratch his ear): "Daddy, don't poke your eardrum!"
Lydia (later, at bedtime): "Dear Jesus, I pray that we don't poke our eardrums." (This was all after a speech by me about how we should never stick anything in our ears.)