Peace Like A River

It was a wide river, mistakable for a lake or even an ocean unless you'd been wading and knew its current. Somehow I'd crossed it... Now I saw the stream regrouped below, flowing on through what might've been vineyards, pastures, orhards... It flowed between and alongside the rivers of people; from here it was no more than a silver wire winding toward the city. - Leif Enger, Peace Like A River

Monday, March 31, 2003

Well, we've gotten the word. We're scheduled to head back to Russia this Saturday. Bummer is we're scheduled to return the following Sunday. mmm, wish we could move that up a bit, rather than just sitting around in a hotel with Hanna. Oh well. Will be *so* glad to get this over with. It's not exactly been fun having this hanging over our heads these last few months what with all that's been going on. Will be an enormous weight lifted to have Hanna home safe and sound.

Deb said two other couples would be going with us, or at least we'll meet up there, and they'd go to the region with us. I'm not exactly sure if we're all going on the same flights. She said with one of them, the woman had lived in Russia for 6 months or so (not sure why), and the other couple hadn't ever been outside Minnesota. Hmm, not sure if that was literally true or just hyperbole, but sounds like they might be understandably nervous about the trip and were glad that some folk who've been through it before would be with them.

We're scheduled to have court on Tuesday. So, if we're getting there Sunday night, don't know what we'd do on Monday. Perhaps visit but otherwise sit around? And then, Deb said we might not go the Embassy till Friday. Don't know if they're only doing adoptions on Friday or what, but that's a day or so of doing nothing. Then, couldn't get flights on Saturday (don't know what the hangup is, maybe that infernal Chicaco-MSP leg again.) At least coming back we're going Frankfurt-Chicago-here, which will make it noticeably shorter than that return trip we had the first trip. Ugh. Those other people would probably head back before us, as they don't need to go to the embassy, as they are making their first trip.

So, I'm going to miss the Final Four, and the Masters. Rats. I always look forward to those each year. Maybe I can tape some of the Masters.

Friday, March 28, 2003

Well, seems like we didn't get quite as much snow as anticipated. So far, looks like we maybe got an inch or two. It is still snowing a bit today, and it is cool and windy today. Ah, March. In like a lion, out like a crazed rabid wildcat.

Schedule says we have orchestra practice tomorrow. We have Saturday practices once in awhile. I suppose I'll go.

Got my ticket to NC booked today, using our frequent flier miles. Will leave here July 4 at 10:15 am, and return July 7, getting back here at 7:18 pm.

If you like conservative commentary, I like to read, lots of good articles daily there.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

I poked around the Web a bit and found something about the newer US Embassy building. You'll notice the top two floors are solid, and don't have the greenish windows like the rest of the building. Apparently that was part of the cleanup process after all the bugs were discovered. The top floors were lopped off and rebuilt in a secure fashion. The rest of the building is perhaps not secure, so all sensitive work would be done on those top floors.

One news story says: "The future nerve-center of U.S. operations in the Soviet Union was quickly dubbed “The Great Transmitter.” A nearby Russian Orthodox church, (across the street I think) which U.S. security specialists believed to be the receiving center for the devices hidden inside the new embassy, became known as “Our Lady of Telemetry" or "Our Lady of Perpetual Observation”. "

Apparently a snowstorm is headed our way. Should get here tonight, and we could have as many as 4-7 inches on the ground by morning. Ick. Some parts of the state could see 10 inches. Yay.

When we were in the Vienna airport, it was strange because there wasn't much seating available, almost none in the round hub that had all the gates for the section we were in. So, there were benches stretching back down a long hallway, but there was smoking in there, so not a tolerable place to sit. We went back downstairs near where we entered the airport, where there were more seats available. We passed most of our long wait there. Back in the corner where we were, there were some young Arab looking folks. One time a couple of security guards came by, and had many of them stand up against a door and took pictures of them. I thought I heard one of the guards ask in a thick accent "Palestinian?" It seemed like they were taking photos of Muslim people and perhaps checking them out in some database? Who knows. Probably just routine checking they do there. Another Arab young man came over, and they went up to him and asked to see his ticket and passport. There were some women with them, and were using a laptop, with lots of baggage, so seemed like average travelers. Still, in this day and age, one couldn't help looking with a suspicious eye.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Oh yeah, in those photos of Moscow taken from our hotel window, the newer US Embassy building is just to the right of the Russian White House (the Parliament building). It has the greenish glass windows in what looks like a sandstone shell. This was the building that when it was first built, the US allowed Soviet contractors to build it, and surprise, they later discovered it was riddled with bugs. Devices were even embedded in support beams, etc... Was never sure how they cleared that up.

Just to the right of the US Embassy, that rectangular building (just to the left of the really tall building) is the Mir hotel. We stayed there a couple nights on our first time around.

Sticking up above the top of the right central part of the Mir is the older US Embassy building. You can just make out the yellowish coloring of part of the building, it has what looks like a central elevator shaft. We went to this older building with John to get his papers.
As we were leaving the orphanage, they asked if we'd like to see Hanna's group, so poked our head in the door to her room. There were several cribs in there. Hanna and a few other kids were walking around the room. One boy had a little turtle toy, it fell on the floor, and Hanna walked over and took it away. Hmm. She seemed a lot more confident and busy in her familiar room than when she was with us.

We'll have to work on getting her room done up this weekend. We'll paint the room, got some furniture to put together.

Looks like the airlines are getting hit with reduced traffic cuz of the war. Hope that doesn't affect any flights we end up taking. Plus there is this strange virus floating around, though that seems mostly confined to Asia. Remind me again why we're traveling all over the world right now?

While driving around Kostroma we saw various markets. One older lady had fish sitting out.

John almost seemed older when we returned, maybe it was just not seeing him for awhile. He's been saying "I'm hungry" a few times. I'd never heard him say that before we left. He likes to "waltz". One of the songs on his music cds is a classical piece, and I'd waltz with him, but lately he's been waltzing by himself. He'll stand on his own, and kind of step around the room like a waltz 1-2-3 step. He takes one big initial step, and kinda turns. It's quite funny to watch.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

When we got back, Ramsey was at the airport, and was parked by our van, so when we approached and John saw us for the first time, he got a big smile on his face. We got him out of his car seat, and he started saying "They're (or was it we're?) here!", over and over! He was glad to see us.

On that drive to and from Kostroma, the roads weren't always the best. And Sergei drove like a typical Russian driver. He was a good driver, but passed other vehicles rather close to them, went a zillion miles an hour, sometimes bumps lifted us completely off our seats. Eek.

In Kostroma, we changed money at a "black market". Pulled up, guy came over, handed him the bill, he went over to some other guys, and they brought back rubles. That was rather strange.

Monday, March 24, 2003

There's no place like home. There's no place like home. Well, returned last night from Russia. A very loooong, exhausting trip back. When we finally walked in the door, we had been awake for more than 28 hours, and I didn't sleep too well our last night in Moscow anyway, so I was *quite* tired when I returned. Here is an account of our trip.

The trip to Russia was relatively quick and pleasant. Although, on the Lufthansa flight from Chicago to Frankfurt, the seats were rather cramped and not very comfortable. But, at 7.5 hours, it was tolerable, and I dozed a bit. We got to Frankfurt early in the morning, and on to the flight to Moscow. At the Moscow airport, we went through customs in record time (on our last two trips it took forever). The people weren't there to meet us when we came out of customs, so we waited, and they did show up a in a few minutes. They said they were stopped in traffic. But before they arrived, taxi drivers who seemed to hovering looking for victims to pounce on asked if we needed a ride.

We were told we were going to go straight to the region. Which was fine, but it already been a long trip, so wasn't really looking forward to a long drive, but all in all I suppose better than just going to a Moscow hotel, sitting for a night, and having to get packed up and leave the next day. So off we went. And promptly got stuck in traffic. On the road we were on, there was some bridge work going on, and apparently lanes narrowed or were eliminated, so traffic was backed up for several kilometers, and took us probably an hour just to get out of town. Not exactly what I wanted to see since I was already quite tired, but oh well.

Once we got going, it was an interesting ride to Kostroma. It was neat to see the countryside. Still snow on the ground there, and chilly temps. I made the remark to Rhonda that the entire country looks like it was built 50 or 60 years ago, and then just left. Everything looks dilapidated and run down. We went through several villages. Rhonda wondered how they survived. Didn't look like a lot of work available. The buildings were often shabby, fences were shabby. But, the windows facing the road were striking. On all the windows facing the road, and most buildings had 3, although some larger buildings had 4 or 5, the windows had ornate wooden shutters, a very Russian, almost Ukrainian pattern. Quite pretty. Several Orthodox churches along the way, with their characteristic domes. Although some churches were in bad shape, almost looked abandoned.

We stopped to eat at a little roadside place. Nice decorations on the inside, sort of antique. We had some good soup. By the time we got to Kostroma it was dark. We went straight to the hotel and got checked in.

The room looked much like our room at the Mir our first trip to Moscow, or like our room in Astrakhan. It was rather chilly in the hotel (and in Kostroma) so kept our long johns on always, and huddled under our covers. At least the bed was warm. And the water was warm, but it was tiny showerhead.

The next day, had a breakfast of beef tongue and some potatoes/carrots that weren't terribly appetizing. I noticed in the restaurant, and in the hotels we stayed in, and at the orphanage, that there seemed to be way more people working there than were perhaps needed. Maybe it was a Soviet-style jobs program or something like that, jobs are provided, etc... After that breakfast, we headed to the orphanage. We were with three other people. Sergei the driver, a big Russian bear of a guy who seemed to be a bit of a card. Andrew was our facilitator, he's the one who knows the officials and gets signatures, etc... Inna was our translator. (In Astrakhan, Marina was both facilitator and translator.) Inna said that while she was near the front desk that morning waiting for us, the workers there didn't realize she was our translator, and they were talking about what they should say when the KGB asked about us. Maybe should just give our names and passport numbers. Ha! Didn't take the KGB long to check up on us foreigners! We felt like spies.

I think it was in the morning that Inna said she had heard on the news that the war in Iraq was finally underway. It was expected, but it felt strange to be so far from home.

The orphanage looked much like the ones we saw in Astrakhan. Relatively clean, but old. We went to the director's office first. Through the translator, she said that orphanage kids were usually delayed and needed attention and stimulation. Then, they brought in Snezhanna/Hanna! They gave her to Rhonda. I tried to touch her, and touch her hand to my beard, but she didn't like that at all. She started to cry, and I moved back, and Rhonda comforted her, but after that it didn't take her long to cotton to me, especially after I gave her a tasty animal cracker! I was surprised she took to me so quick. I was expecting her to want to avoid me mostly.

There definitely seemed to be a little personality in there somewhere. She was alert and watched us, and liked the little toys we brought. She was able to stack the stacking cups all by herself. That's something that took John awhile to master. We went to another larger room where we played with her there for awhile. It had lots of toys in there. so must be a place they can take the kids. Toward the end of our first meeting, I was holding her (by then we were good friends) and had the blanket Rhonda got around her, and I was gently rocking back and forth, and she fell asleep!

She has a rash all over though, and sometimes scratched at it, poor girl. Can't wait to get her back so we can get that treated.

She made almost no sound in all our visits with here. Just a "nnnh" once in a great while. Rhonda had brought a doll whose eyes open and shut when you move it, and I imitated that, and Hanna, after watching me, blinked her eyes a couple times!

Also, she clearly understood her name. People would say her name and she would look at them, and seemed to respond to when they spoke to her (in Russian.) John never really seemed to do that when we saw him in the orphanage.

After that visit, went back to the hotel and rested for a couple hours. We were still tired and messed up with the time, but the Melatonin really helped us deal with the time change, and it wasn't so bad. We went back for a second visit in the afternoon. Hanna liked to be held, and was quite content while we were holding her, but if we put her down, she also liked to walk around, and would walk in large circles around the room. I would sometimes kiss her forehead rapidly and making mm-mm sounds, and she seemed to like that. After doing that a couple times, she even leaned her head into me so I would do it again!

We were given some info about her background. She's had kind of a rough start. The mother's parental rights were terminated. Apparently the mother was not employed and drank, and wasn't able to care for her. Apparently Hanna was found with strangers who were drinking, and she was hungry. As a result, she was taken to a hospital or something like that, and later to the orphanage, and action was taken against the mother to terminate her rights. Apparently the mother has had two other children, one born in 1997 and one in 1998. No indication if it was the same father. Also, no information on where those two children are now.

Oh yeah, that morning of our first visit, Inna was talking to a lady who turned out to teach music at the orphanage, and she invited all of us to hear her sing at this event commemorating when the Romanovs came to power. Apparently the Romanovs were either from Kostroma, or at least were there when they came to power. I got the impression they (the three Russians with us) didn't really want to go, but it would've been rude to decline, but we sure were interested in going, just to see something different.

When we got their, the mayor was giving some kind of lecture in a smallish room, so we waited outside, The lady, who was in nice clothes and makeup, looked quite different than when we saw her earlier, told us about some of the history of the Romanovs, especially about a famous icon found in a church there, and legend said saved people from several disasters or invasions. Another smiling lady there gave us a little booklet, but it is in Russian, so am not sure what it is about exactly.

Anyway, once the lecture ended, we quickly tramped into this room, must have looked funny to those already sitting in there, and the lady sang a piece from an opera by Glinka about a local hero. My oh my could she sing. Just beautiful, very Russian music. Her voice was powerful in that small room. We were glad to have the chance to have heard that.

It's one of the odd contrasts about Russia. Some immensely gifted people, but also great poverty, and practices and customs that seem to make it very difficult for that country to get itself out of the deep hole it is in.

That evening, we didn't go out to eat, just went to the room, ate some of the food we brought with us. We had a pleasant surprise when Mom called! How nice to hear from her in that faraway place! It was also nice to hear John's voice, as we missed him very much. We're quite grateful that Mom was able to come and take care of him!

Boy, it was a cold night. The wind was howling all night, and coming through a window that wouldn't close tightly, so got rather cold in the room. We later heard that weather in Moscow was particularly bad, and in fact some families in regions couldn't return to Moscow. Two families in Astrakhan even missed going to the Embassy on Friday. That's too bad. I suppose they had to wait till Monday.

The next morning we had breakfast in a different restaurant in the hotel. It looked like some hippie love den from the seventies. The colors in the room were brown and purple and pastel green and pinks. The walls were covered in silk prints. The food was great though. We got some of ravioli. Not tomatoey, but like ravioli wrappers filled with a delicious spiced meat mix. Mmm. Inna said that dish though was not a breakfast dish, but more for lunch or dinner.

We had one more visit with Hanna. We took a number of pictures with our digital camera, and I'll be getting those onto the website soon. Apparently the connection software that comes with the camera doesn't work with Windows NT, which is what I have at home, so I'll have to take it to work and get the pictures off the camera there.

Then, we left town. Oh, we did stop at place with linens, as they wanted to buy some for someone in Moscow. Apparently Kostroma is known for its linens. We also stopped at some kind of post office to call Lufthansa to try and change our tickets to Saturday (no luck). There were about 20 phone booths in there, we had to leave a deposit at a window, then made the call, and then go back and get back our deposit minuss whatever the call cost. There was some woman just angrily chattering away, and Inna said she was probably Georgian, who speak a language very different from Russian.

On the way back stopped at the same restaurant, Had some delicious pork. Drove by some stands selling towels. Inna said people who work in plants in the area make towels and whatnot, but they are paid in the product, not money, so they sell the stuff to make money.

We stayed at Ukraina Hotel, one of the wedding cake buildings. It's used a lot by adoption agencies, but we didn't get to stay there our first time around. We only saw one couple with a baby with them though at breakfast. It was a much nicer place, although also kind of chilly. A nice view from our window, will include those photos on the website. We were right across the river from the Russian White House, the US Embassy, and the Mir Hotel we stayed our first night in Moscow last time around.

Inna said we probably shouldn't be out on the streets, what with Russian opposition to the war. We weren't going to go out anyway, just to be safe. So, we just spent Saturday resting in the hotel.

It is dismaying what the Russian media is saying. They are saying we are conducting this war to get Iraq's oil. Putin has also made some pointed comments lately, and it almost seems like he is trying to create a wedge between Russia and the US. (And today I heard reports that some Russian companies might be providing Iraq with equipment and training that could interfere with US military tactics.) I am just hoping we can get Hanna home before something could happen that would affect adoptions. I have a hard time believing Russia would just up and put an end to adoptions, if only because it brings in so much money, and I'm sure some officials have their hand in that till, that there are plenty of people with an interest in keeping adoptions going. Still, I'm not really looking forward to going back, and will be overjoyed when Hanna is finally home.

It was a punishing trip home. We got up at 3 in the morning, left the hotel about 3:45. Had a drive through very quiet Moscow city streets. Although, Inna pointed out some working girls were still on the street. At 4 on a Sunday morning, in chilly temps? Egads. Anyway, the flight to Vienna left at 5:50 am. We got a delicious breakfast that really hit the spot.

A long 4 hour layover in Vienna, till we left for Washington. The plane was neat. Each seat had a screen in the seat in front of it, and we had a number of entertainment options. We watched the recent Harry Potter movie. Also, they had a separate channel showing the progress of the flight, and, something I hadn't seen before, had two channels with two different cameras showing out the front and below the plane. Out of the front was interesting on takeoff and landing, but the view below let us see what we were flying over. So, as we progressed, I kept track of where we were, and then looked at interesting things.

Like, saw that watery low area south of Amsterdam. Then, watched as we crossed the beach out into the English channel, as we crossed the beach into England. Crossed over northern London. Watched as we crossed the beach in Ireland and out into the North Atlantic. Watched as we crossed the beach into North America somewhere near Goose Bay, north of St. John's.

Another little wait in Dulles, and another little wait in Chicago. All told, we probably spent 8 hours just sitting in airports, which greatly lengthened the trip. That same kind of trip will be the last option when we come back with Hanna, cuz we can't do that again, not with a toddler in tow. Ick.

So, there it is. A trip that didn't seem as enjoyable as our trips to get John. Felt more like work. Lots of traveling. Tiring. But, such fun to see Hanna. Like with John, there does seem to be a spark in there. We'll just have to fan it, and help her grow and develop.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Well, still planning to leave tomorrow. Not entirely excited about such a long trip, especially with everything going on in the world. Oh well. Gotta practice that faith thing. sunday school and the sermon yesterday seemed directed at my worries, like God was trying to tell me something, so that helped.

We're scheduled to come back Sunday, but hopefully we'd be able to switch our return to Saturday.

Will give you an update when we return!

Saturday, March 15, 2003

Took John for a walk around the block this morning. Of course, with the warm temperatures, water is running everywhere, and, being a normal boy, John heads right for the puddles and streams and splashes right through them. By the time we got home, his feet were quite soaked. So, took his socks and pants off, and he's enjoying running around in his bare feet.

Had to do some stuff for work last night, but I was able to do it all from home. I got VPN software from Qwest that lets me get into the Qwest network, and then I can use pcAnywhere to take control of my computer at work, so it's like I was just sitting there at work. So, much nicer to be able to work from the comfort of home, and not have to take all that driving back and forth.

Still getting things together for the trip. Not looking forward to the long flights, but oh well.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Well, it looks official. We'll be leaving for Russia next Tuesday, the 18th. We're scheduled to come back Sunday the 23rd, but perhaps we could come back Saturday if some seats open up. So, prayers and all that.

We went to the agency last night to sign our visa application. (She, and we, had forgotten about getting visa pictures, but she was able to get photos off our old app, and I think copied them, which is nice cuz it means getting things Monday, rather than having to stop by the FedEx office Tuesday on the way to the airport, which we had to do when going to get John, and it was just more stress.) Anyway, she said other people had seen the video with Snezhanna on it, and said "she's cute, I want her!" Too late!

The other night at bedtime as I was talking to John in his crib, I asked if he jumped on the couch with Julia, which he likes to do, and he said his usual "no pushing...naughty..timeout", but then he said, in a real clear voice, not slurring any sounds, "John, I'm sorry. Thank you, Kyle". Hmm, don't know where that came from. Maybe he was remembering squabbling with Kyle (a boy he visits with now and then. I think they are going to get together today.)

This morning he said "I get to go play." A whole sentence, with subject, predicate, verbs, everything!

One of his cd's has the Oompa Loompa song on it (from Willie Wonka.) It's funny when he sings along with it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Rhonda talked to Deb yesterday, and she said it is possible we might travel as soon as the 22nd. So, will have to see. Also, it's possible we could leave that Saturday, and return on Wednesday already. We'd come back from Kostroma Tuesday night, and so could maybe leave the next day. A whirlwind trip, and probably be a wee bit tired, but it would be nice to get back quickly.

New Horizon called Rhonda yesterday and asked if we wanted to try John in the pre-school room. They assumed from his size he was toddler material, but when they saw his b-date, they wondered if we'd want him in there. (That room was a ratio of 1-10, as opposed to 1-7, and is a dollar/hour cheaper.) So, she said yes, but apparently John cried for quite awhile in there. Possibly because John was more familiar by then with the toddler room, and had toys more suited to him, whereas this room had more craftsy stuff. Once John went back to the toddler room, he was fine.

He didn't sleep again, though. Maybe being in that new place was more upsetting to him, being out of familiar surrounding and routines, and he's just not able to settle down to sleep. Plus, they are on cots, which he isn't used to. He did rest quietly, but slept then when he got home, and he was ready for bed at 9 and slept a bit later than normal this morning.

Temps might be in the 30s today, but the forecast for tomorrow is possibly 3 or 4 inches of snow. Argh. But then, maybe 50 by the weekend.

I'm currently reading The Hill Bachelors by William Trevor, a recent collection of 12 of his short stories. He has become about my favorite current short story writer. Just beautiful, gentle, moving stories. He is Irish, so a lot of his stories touch on Irish issues, like 1921, the IRA, Catholic-Protestant, etc... but never in a heavyhanded way, always with a human touch. There is a volume called The Collected Stories from 10 years ago or so, that has many many of his stories from over the years, the book is probably close to 1000 pages, something like that. I'll get that one of these days.

I'm starting to clean things out of my office. :( Still not sure where I'll put things. But, it'll be nice to get that room ready and be done with it.

Monday, March 10, 2003

Could it be? Might it be? Is it possible? This might be the last cold morning of the winter. More bone-numbing temps this morning, below zero with wind chills worse yet. But, warm air is coming our way, and could be in the 20s by late afternoon, and it will only continue to get warmer throughout the week. Could hit 50 by the weekend! It's the little things in life. (Kris said it was 65 there in CO. Boo hiss.)

John had a busy weekend. Stayed indoors on Saturday as it was cold, but he played with his toys. Liked playing with his Fisher Price train set.

Last night after our time in the nursery, we stopped by "Old Donalds" so he could play in the kiddie area. He would probably stay there all day if he could. He'd run with the other kids and crawl through, and come over often just to check in and get some ice cream and milk. As usual, wasn't happy about leaving.

In fact, when we left the nursery, he wanted to stay and play, and so wasn't real cooperative in getting his coat on, but when I said we could stop by Old Donalds, oh, he got happy right away and got on his coat. And on the whole way over to McDs, from time to time I could hear from the backseat "Old Donalds".

This morning he was telling me about it, and said things like "stop hitting me", or "keep going". Hmm, wonder if other kids in there were saying those things. It's funny what he picks up on and remembers.

When I ask him about jumping on the couch with Julia, which he loves to do, he'll often say "no pushing...naughty...timeout". So I wonder if they get a little rambunctious and Sue has to calm them down sometimes...

Lately he's been pretending to be sad, and then I'll comfort him. He'll say sad, and then pretend to whimper, put his hands to his face and come over for a hug. Sometimes he'll say "feel better". Not that he really is sad, he's just pretending. Funny. Don't know where he started that.

He had to go to New Horizon today again, as Sue was sick. Dropped him off and the other kids were sitting nicely around the table about to have breakfast. John just wandered off to play. But, he'd already had breakfast so shouldn't have been too hungry.

Saturday, March 08, 2003

When we went to the church last night, as we were just waiting around the foyer, near the nursery, John started saying "gone..clock, gone..clock". I couldn't quite figure out what he was talking about, but then I noticed in the nursery that a clock that's usually above check-in desk was missing? That little bugger knew there was a clock there and noticed it missing! He enjoyed the pictures, he likes to say cheese.

It's about time for him to get up from his nap. I can hear him there, kind of fussing. Maybe he's still a bit tired.

We got about 3-4 inches of snow, so went out and snowblowed the driveway this morning. I did the neighbor's too, as they are away.

Got a call this morning from someone who wants me to take their sunday school class tomorrow. I suppose, as there probably isn't anyone else at this late date. They're in Colossians, so will try to put something together. Sounds like this person might be gone off and on, and I said I could help when possible, but I don't know which weeks I might be gone in the near future.

Friday, March 07, 2003

Dropped John off at New Horizons this morning. Seemed happy enough to be there. He started roaming around right away. Weren't too many kids there, the director said there might be only 2 or 3 kids in his room. The others there were having some breakfast, but I had already given John his breakfast before heading over there.

Tonight we'll get our pictures taken for the church directory. Wish Hanna could be in it, but oh well. At least we'll get a freebie.

I suggested my writing group start thinking about a name. My suggestion is The Fordham Hill Garden Society. (Another guy liked that and suggested the addition of "And Tea Club".) We'll kick around names at our meeting on the 15th. The girlfriend of a member is a marketing person, so has given us this survey thing they must use to help a business what to focus on when trying to figure out how to name itself... will be interesting to see what that leads to

Thursday, March 06, 2003

This morning as I was getting ready to go, I had my lunch bag on the stool, and John saw it and picked it up and said "Daddy's purse." Ha.

John was going to have some Kroupa for breakfast. (Russian equivalent of Cream of Wheat, basically.) We'll have to pick up some more if and when we go.

Friday I'll take him to that New Horizons place for the day, as Sue was going to be busy that day. We've used that place once or twice before as a backup day care option. He seemed to like it there, although it's probably been awhile since he was there last.

Last night when he had had his supper, and was still sitting at the table, John said the longest sentence I've heard him say. He said "Get down Go play LeapPad Dora".

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Here is a link to an article debunking this John Edwards character on that talking with the dead program on the SciFi channel. Shouldn't it be obvious that these people are charlatans? But, as the article says, the kind of people who fall for this are people who want to believe it is true.

Check out today's astronomy picture of the day. (Or, if you aren't looking at it today, find it in the archive for March 5, 2003.) It's a neat representation of where people on Earth live. Looks like ND is indeed the Buffalo Commons!

Speaking of which, one of the speakers at our past missions conference is a pastor at an inner city Lutheran church, in one of the tougher Minneapolis neighborhoods. He talked about how there is a great migration worldwide from the rural to the cities, and then in a few decades 75% of the world's population will be in cities. He made the interesting observation that the Bible starts in a garden (rural) but ends in a city (New Jerusalem).

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

The last couple times I've dropped John off at Sue's, as we're getting his coat off, he's said "I love ducks!" No idea where that came from. Sue does have this toy that has several little yellow ducks, so maybe that is what he's thinking of. So today Sue asked him after he said that, what does a duck say? And he happily said "quack quack quack!"

Rhonda talked to Deb yesterday, and it seems unlikely that we'd travel by the 15th of March. But she said "soon", so don't know if that means the 22nd is a possibility or what.

history nugget of the day:

In a bizarre selection process that suited his passion for women and wine, 10th-century pagan Prince Vladimir of Russia "interviewed" Jews, Muslims, and Christians to determine his kingdom's future religion. It was a momentous move because the nation he had forged from petty, squabbling tribes had five million people and was second in area only to the Holy Roman Empire. Vladimir became Russia's first Christian leader and his baptism marked the beginning of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Vladimir's decision was influenced deeply by his grandmother, Princess Olga, a Christian convert who urged him to stop persecuting Christians. In AD 986, Vladimir brought in Jews and heard the case for Judaism, but rejected it when he learned the Jews had been expelled from Jerusalem by a God "angry at their forefathers." He was intrigued by Islam, which allowed him "70 fair women," but he shunned this faith too when told he must abstain from alcohol. "Drinking is the joy of the Russians!" Vladimir said. "We cannot exist without that pleasure!"

He finally chose Christianity when his emissaries told him of the glories of the Cathedral of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, and he embraced his new religion with the same zeal he once reserved for warfare and women. Now a model Christian, Vladimir built Russia's first stone cathedral in AD 996, the Church of the Tithes, and gave it 10 percent of both his personal income and revenues from his vast empire. Unfortunately, he sometimes took his new faith too literally, especially Christ's words, "Resist not him that is evil." When his empire subsequently was swamped by a crime wave, the church actually pressured him to make arrests and executions until order resumed, and Vladimir complied.

Vladimir's efforts to Christianize Russia continued until his death in 1015. By then he had established churches, cathedrals, and monasteries throughout his kingdom. His devout deeds earned him two enduring accolades: He was canonized as Saint Vladimir and is remembered as the Father of Russia.

Monday, March 03, 2003

Well, that was a fun drive to work this morning. A light snow is falling, we could get 2-3 inches by the time it's done, and some wind, so roads were slow all over the metro area today. I'd say about double the normal commute times. And of course comes the stupidity. Lots of accidents reported, some rollovers. People in way too much of a hurry for the conditions.

Still no precise word on when we might make our first trip. And still not sure how events in Iraq might affect plans. Will just have to wait and see.

Last night John was exhibiting some two-yr-old behavior, as he as fussing and lying on the floor when I was trying to get his jammies on. And I told him I'd count to 3 and he should get up or he'd have to sit in timeout for awhile. And then he quit fussing but still laid there, and waited for me to count, like he was waiting to see what I'd do. So, he didn't get up and I said ok, you were naughty so you have sit for awhile. And he was perfectly calm then, almost like he thought it was something fun to do, but he knows its for when he is naughty. So we went to the kitchen and he sat in the chair, and I set the timer for two minutes. He always sits there pretty quiet. I went out to the living room to put his LeapPad on the table, cuz I got out the Dora cartridge Mom sent, and John must have wondered where I went, cuz I think Rhonda usually stays in the room with him, and I saw him slowly creeping out with a quizzical look on his face, wondering where I went. So I told him to get back on the chair, and when the timer went off then he had fun with his new Dora LeapPad cartridge.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

When we got home from church this morning, John was just a jabberbox. Talk talk talk talk talk talk talk. Don't know who put a quarter in him. He had fun jumping on the bed for a bit, and was singing some of his songs all by himself. He knows his music so well. And yesterday, he was making up his own songs a little bit, singing about this or that but making up his own tunes. That's the first time we've heard him to that.

I took him outside yesterday while it was still warm (today is freeeeeeeezing.) We walked all the way around the block for the first time. But already coming back, about halfway up Isanti, he started whimpering a bit because he knew we were headed in the direction of home and didn't want to go back. He loves to play outside so much.

About time for his nap, and I'll sit down with the Sunday newspaper. Good news from Pakistan I see, as they flushed another rat from its hole.