The poll is almost closed, so hurry and cast your vote (look to the right) on what you want covered in this blog!
So far the majority vote has been for cultural experiences. And oh, my dear friends, today is THE DAY to blog about such matters. Too bad it's not going to be from such a positive standpoint. But hey, the facts are facts.
Yesterday was Sitora's birthday. It was absolutely wonderful! At about 10:30pm we finally called both sides of our family via skype so they could talk to the little Princess on her special day. By the time we were finished, it was almost 1:00am! EEEK! AAAAK! Her bedtime is 8:30pm. Not good.
She woke up around 7-8am, not exactly sure, then came running into our room and fell asleep with us in bed. I was pretty happy because she needed to sleep for like 20 bazillion more hours anyways. All of a sudden, around 8:30, the neighbor's child started screaming like there was no tomorrow right in the middle of the hallway by our door. The concrete walls and echoing hallways didn't help either. Sitora bolted awake. Which brings me to:
1. There really isn't any personal space here. Remember the days when we lived on 3 acres of land in a beautiful old farmhouse? Ya, those days are far gone. Often we are awakened in the middle of the night (or kept awake at bedtime) by the neighbors children running and jumping above us (children here stay up til midnight). When people walk in the hallways talking, or someone is knocking on the neighbor's door, we hear everything. And when someone bangs on our door for whatever reason (particularly people we don't know) I have to grab Sitora and bolt for the opposite end of the apartment or else the stranger at the door will hear her laughing. Then this stranger will not give up because they discovered we are home, so they will continue banging on the door and ringing the doorbell nonstop. Non. Stop.
So after the rude awakening, Sitora and I get ready to leave and head out the door all bundled up for the cold weather. We have to walk down the street, catch a bus (and today I was actually running after the bus begging the driver to wait), walk down the stairs to the metro station, swipe my metro card, go down an escalator, wait for the metro, be pushed and shoved into the metro by what feels like billions of people and hope someone let's me sit down with my child, then we get off the metro, go up the escalator, and finally walk about 5 blocks (in the cold) until we reach our destination. By the time we arrived I was worn out and pretty discouraged. But we ended up having a wonderful time praying, dancing, and drawing pictures for Father.
On our way back home (just imagine doing everything listed above above, but reverse) I realized we needed some groceries. We stopped by some fruit and veggie sellers and bought our needed items. Mind you, this is in the freezing cold, outside, with no grocery cart, no receipts, no sanitary conditions with bright sparkly clean shelves, and no smiling check-out cashiers wishing you a wonderful day. And most the time, the fruit/veggie sellers are smoking while they give you your products. Wonderful isn't it?
I have to watch the sellers very closely to make sure they aren't ripping me off. I was about done buying groceries when suddenly I realized Sitora had taken a huge bite right out of a mandarin orange that had not been washed yet. She took a bite out of the peel for Pete's sake! What was my child thinking?
2. Without a car, it is very difficult to accomplish anything with ease. Sitora is still light enough for me to carry, but with all our winter gear on, it's pretty difficult to carry her for long. She often cries when she has to walk because she is afraid of the people walking by and the loud traffic. The only way I can bribe her to walk is when she thinks she might see a kitty cat somewhere.
So we stuffed the groceries in my purse (not a big grocery bag, my purse!) and hopped on the bus home. After our bus stop we walked back up the road to our apartment. All of a sudden an old babushka lady started yelling at me in Russian. She was pointing to Sitora and complaining that she wasn't properly dressed for winter. I looked at my child and though to myself, "She is perfectly dressed for winter. She has on every single possible winter item there is!" I didn't want to say anything I would regret, so instead of answering I just shook my head and walked the other direction. The babushka kept yelling at me as we walked away. Under my breath I muttered, "Lady, you better stop now. I'm getting angry." And that was that.
"Finally, we're almost home," I thought. I made Sitora walk because I just couldn't possibly carry her any farther. I reached up to brush my hair out of my face when I realized my favorite earring was missing. I freaked out, ripped my scarf off, looked inside my coat and purse, then I slumped my shoulders in deep disappointment realizing there was no way I could find it ever again. Just in case, I took Sitora all the way back to the bus stop looking down at the ground with small hopes, but to no avail.
3. Life here is just plain hard sometimes. You know the phrase, "a walk in the park"? Ya, not so much here. The minute I step out the door, I have to mentally prepare myself for hardship. But on the other hand, that's why we have to purposefully look for the good in our simple lives here. We focus on what we do have and remember that others have it so much worse.
Even now, as I write about my day, I am forcing myself to focus on what I did love about today, or else I'll have a bad attitude until tomorrow. So I'm going to chose to recall what a wonderful time I had with my daughter today. Not only did we spend time with Father, but we also went on a lunch date. Sitora was a perfect angel and the workers asked to have their picture taken with her. Our usual order of lentil soup with lemon was absolutely delish, and the quality time we spent together was priceless.