Last week we had the chance to stay at a dacha for two nights! The first two days were a retreat with the folks in our organization who live in St. Petersburg. Then we stayed an extra night with one other family, just to have a little family vacation time. A dacha (pronounced "dah-tcha") is a Russian country house. We might call it a cabin or cottage. Usually they are a bit rustic, and they often don't have indoor plumbing. That describes the one we stayed at, although in the little village where it was located, we saw many dachas being renovated or new ones being built. There was quite a range from really delapidated ones to really nice ones. I would say most are on the delapidated end of things though. The dacha villages are really something to see. I don't think there is anything quite like it in the US. They are built close together, but they all have a little yard or garden plot, usually fenced in, with kind of a secret garden gone wild look to them.
The dacha we stayed in was owned by another organization that has people in St. Petersburg. It was about an hour's ride on the electric train from the city. From the train station (a platform out in the middle of nowhere), it was a short walk to the dacha. We walked past two tiny stores on the way there- the only ones around. They were like little mini-marts, but they had a little of everything. (Even diapers you could buy by the piece, which was good because we forgot some for Lydia to wear at night!) The morning we got there, there was a milk truck that had come to sell fresh milk to the villagers. They also were selling fresh home-made tvorog (something like cottage cheese). I wanted to go back on another morning and buy some, but we didn't get around to it.
We had a nice time, enjoying the fresh air and being away from the city. Lydia loved playing with the other kids, picking raspberries, finding snails, and playing in the sandbox. She had so much fun that she didn't want to take time to go potty, and we quickly went through all her pairs of pants. By the last day she was wearing her jammy pants! Thankfully on the last day we were there, she decided that she liked being able to go potty without our help, and we didn't have anymore "accidents."
For dinner the first night we made shashlik, which is like grilled shish-kabobs. Very yummy, and something Russians love to make at their dachas or out in the countryside for a cook-out. We also celebrated Aaron's birthday (34 years!!) on the 12th. After the shashlik, we sang happy birthday and enjoyed some cakes that I had made. Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of that. Here are some that we did get:
And here are some recent pictures of Birdie's beautiful smile:
She also found she likes to suck on her fist. In the first picture she looks like she is contemplating something important!