I photographed the eagle and airplane at Mir Dyetstva, where the girls and I spent a congratulatory "Yay, we made it back and our apartment is almost in order" afternoon/early evening. We had a delicious meal and then I was able to just slump into a chair with good coffee and a good book while the kids played--supervised by someone else. (There's no school yet, our babysitter is away until September, and Chris is working around the clock to meet a big deadline--after which he has to fly to England until Sunday). As usual, we had a wonderful time there. Katya made a leopard and Natalia made a girl on a swing--who she kept hidden--because she wants to give it to Katya for her birthday (How great that she thought ahead to do something for her sister!).
This particular trip back to Moscow has been especially hard. Chris ended up not being able to join us in Colorado, so I couldn't send anything back with him. Then my taxi driver was physically unable to help me unload, so I foolishly went ahead and just did it myself... All of it, 9 pieces of luggage (including 3 boxes and 2 suitcases weighing 70 lbs, our carry-ons and the no-charge bag of car seats)... All on my own. Out of the van, up the steps to our building, up the steps to the elevator, and into our apartment... My legs and inner arms are dotted with deep brown bruises from the box corners--but I'm feeling better. I must admit, it's fun to shock misogynistic Russian men by how much I'm able to lift. I am strong. I'm not, however, twenty-years-old any more... Luckily those same men didn't see me curled up on the bed!
I feel so Russian when I'm able to say, "well, it wasn't THAT hard, because it was harder when..." All I have to do is remember doing the same travel when the girls were two and four, and suddenly the present seems like a piece of cake. (At age two, though, Natalia wasn't able to ask incredibly embarrassing questions in front of entire waiting areas at the airport... Questions I'm not about to write here, but you can e-mail me and maybe I'll fill you in! Hint--it's even worse than the "MOO!" incident that won me a prize on Rachael's blog!)
When you live in an apartment with no storage, for everything you bring IN, an equal amount of stuff has to go OUT. We use up our American "foodstuffs" such as salsa, Annie's Mac 'n Cheese, maple syrup, chocolate chips... Outgrown English-language toys and books get passed on to happy expat friends... And many needy people are helped by everything we donate. What a process it is, though... Unpacking means going through every area of the house--when you're fighting jet lag and just wish it were DONE. I try to "weed out" everything we don't need any more before we leave--but I'm not nearly as merciless as I am in my "it's-been-over-two-days-since-I-really-slept-and-I-need-these-boxes-unpacked-NOW-so-I-will-find-the-space-so-help-me-God" state. The end result feels great, though... A clean and orderly home that's well stocked.
When we come back in August, it also means I've finished:
- Shopping for the kids' current year clothing until next summer (I'll buy most of their clothing for the following year when it's on sale after this Christmas, though). Needs will arise here and there, but it's pretty much done... I don't need anything, either.
- Choosing and procuring the girls' birthday presents, many of their Christmas presents (in case unexpected illness would force us to cancel our holiday trip to the USA), all of the favors and party supplies for their birthdays, and random presents to give at other kids' birthdays. Having to plan for special occasions so far in advance lets me just enjoy them when they arrive!
- Picking out all the books Katya will read this year in English. It's too bad she can't experience the joy of regular visits to the library--where she could chose her own books--but she'll be very happy with all of the beginning chapter books that await her... Nancy Drew Notebooks... Beginning Cam Jamsen books... The Magic Tree House series... and many, many more.
In short, it means I'm pretty much done with errands until we return to the USA. It's a great feeling! Sure, there will be times that I'll wish I could run out and get something--but since it's not possible, I won't!
Oh... about that pesky thing called jet lag... Instead of sleeping, look what the girls started doing while I'm on the computer:
They're camping--roasting marshmallows and telling stories--with their Molly and Emily dolls. They've been listening to the Molly series of books on my ipod and are inspired to delve into imaginative play again. I can hear them talking about how many fish they just caught and are about to cook over the campfire :-) I'm glad that I can be happy about their creativity--and about how well they play together--instead of focusing on the fact that it's 12:45 a.m.! Hey, this is better than Sunday morning when Talia was up for the day at 2 a.m.--and there was nothing in the house to eat, so we went to the Starlite Diner for waffles at 3 a.m. You get some interesting looks from the nightclub crowd when you show up at that hour with a four-year-old!
Added the next morning: The girls couldn't fall asleep until 2:50 a.m.!!!! Even though they were in their beds! A few minutes later, Chris got home from work... I swear, this time the jet lag is worse than it's ever been before. I wonder why... They slept until 1 p.m. today. I hope we're not in for another night of giggles, protests and partying... I'd take them outside and utterly exhaust them, but Katya fell yesterday and hurt her knee (holding off on bringing her to the doctor until I can see if it'll just go away on it's own)-and it's uncomfortably hot outside (inside, too, for that matter...).