Monday, June 23, 2008

It's Potluck!

Having been gone from the blogosphere for a week, I'm going to join the "potluck craze" and fill you in on various little tidbits. I got the idea from Holly over at June Cleaver Nirvana, and I'm borrowing her lovely logo for today's post.

We're having fusili with pesto (my own, made with LOTS of garlic) and a glass of Sunrise Carmenere wine. We are s-l-o-w-l-y enjoying the wine after a l-o-n-g and messy play date.

So... What has Tamara been up to this past blogless week (and the meager week before it)?

We're not moving to another apartment.

As I wrote last month, we thought we might have to move. After an extensive search for another apartment, it became clear that our best option was to negotiate with our landlord for repairs/a fairer price and stay put. Armed with much data to support my position, I was able to make our case in a very reasonable manner. She agreed and we're staying for at least another year. Many repairs will be made on the apartment while the girls and I are in the US next month and I'm really looking forward to the results!!

I did a MAJOR overhaul of our apartment as if we were preparing to move.

We're not getting a bigger apartment, so the solution was to get rid of everything I possibly could. I'm not done, but I did manage to completely pick through and reorganize our bathroom, the kids' room, our room, most of the living room and most of the entryway (our storage area).

That leaves the bookcases in the living room, 1/3 of the boxes in our entryway and the kitchen... I just couldn't get to them.

I did, however, manage to fill the hallway outside our apartment six times with huge piles of items to donate/throw away. A local church accepts donations, passing them on to needy parishioners and an orphanage; they were VERY happy when I drove up with a full car of bags. Three times.

It feels REALLY, REALLY good to have stuff organized; it will make it much easier for the men doing the repairs and it will much easier for me to unpack when we get back from the US in August with a whole new load of stuff.

My cousin and her son visited us from Oregon.

Nick and Judy were here from Thursday through Sunday, making the incredibly long trip for what amounted to a long weekend! Judy works for an airline and can get a round-trip ticket for only $79...!!!!!! Her sister-in-law was in Moscow at that time with a tour, so she figured... why not?

Their visit prompted my manic cleaning efforts and it was nice to be ready for them! I had fun showing them around.

They took in Red Square, GUM, the Kremlin and Armory, Christ the Saviour, Novodevichy Monastery, Gorky Park, the Arbat (with lunch at the Hard Rock and an iced coffee at Starbucks), a river cruise and a circus show.

I must say how incredibly impressed we were by the circus on Tsvetnoi Bulvar... In the past they had disappointed me, causing us to favor the circus on Prospect Vernadskovo instead... But the show this week was AMAZING and they're now my favorite circus in Russia. Photography was strictly prohibited, which is a shame. Wouldn't you have loved to see a chicken on toe shoes dancing to Swan Lake??? (Seriously--the chicken did dance--but the more serious acts BLEW US AWAY).

Katya's insomnia is no better despite all my efforts these past few weeks.

I'll look into the homeopathic suggestions about valerian that you guys made once we get to the US. I hope that jet lag coupled with exhaustion after camp will lead to some more regular sleep...!!!!!

I was a guest blogger over at Bleeding Espresso.

Check out my week-long series on the "Newlywed Portrait Tour" of the city's most beautiful spots that couples make in between the ceremony and reception. I take you through the seven most popular spots, starting at Gorky Park and ending up at Red Square. I prepared this series for Michelle a while ago; that's how she had it when I was otherwise so bogged down this past week! I think at some point I'll format it for my own blog, too.

I wish that I had had the time to communicate with Michelle's readers while the series was running! I'll have to go back and do so once things calm down.

My internet was down off and on last week and our computer is acting up.

As if it weren't already hard enough these days... I'll be in better touch once we get to Connecticut this weekend and I get my new laptop!

Annnnd... Last but not least... I'm doing something CRAZY!!!!!

So... Here's the kicker... What have I decided to do as a result of all this exhausting activity? SLEEP?? Aw, come on, that would be, well... frankly, given my kids who are about to be jet-lagged, impossible.

Nooooo, people. Let's think of more, well, insane activity.

SUCH AS RUNNING A HALF MARATHON. Yeah, that's right... 13.1 miles/21.1 kilometers. Because I'm crazy.

I already followed my friend Rachael into the blogosphere... Why not follow her to Chicago for the annual Chicago Half Marathon??!!

Her sisters are doing it, too... Lori... Francie is thinking of doing it... And I think Natalie is, too...

I'm following this plan to get ready in time; it's by an experienced runner/trainer and it can help a rank beginner to be properly prepared. You can track my miles/kilometers on my sidebar. I would have run more this week, but I can't run first thing in the morning or in the evening since I'm alone with the girls and can't leave them by themselves.

I followed another plan in April/part of May that claimed to take you from being a couch potato to running 5 kilometers in two months. It was great!

I was able to do it until I got so sick from my pollen allergies and stopped running for five weeks. The amazing thing is, when I started again, it only took two pathetic runs before I was able to do 5 kilometers--as if I'd never stopped! In one week I'm feeling good again and have lost 3 of the 6 lbs I gained while not running and sick.

Sure, I'll have to take a few days off from work in order to be able to fly to Chicago--but I'm pretty sure that won't be a problem. I would pay for my substitute if need be, and I think that would be the worst-case scenario. A few friends have mentioned that the jet lag could make it rather hard for me to complete the run, but I laughed at that... Are you kidding?? I'd be flying ALONE, without my children!!! That's TWELVE UNINTERRUPTED HOURS OF REST, PEOPLE! More than I've gotten since giving birth to Natalia!

There's also that pesky question of paying for a ticket to Chicago, but I might be able to cover the cost with frequent flyer miles... And even if I can't, I can't recall when I last did something for me.

We never go out, I ditched the fake nails because it took too much time that I'd rather spend with my kids and I didn't think the cost was worth it, we're not taking a vacation this year and I will have been parenting on my own (Chris has non-stop business trips and grueling assignments this year) from May 9th through August 6th (except for 9 days when I hope Chris will be able to join us at his parents' house in Colorado), and then most likely I'll be primarily alone with the kids for the rest of August and September, too...

Intense, to put it mildly.

Going ahead and buying that ticket to Chicago would force me to make myself a priority, to devote time to exercise and caring for ME. If I get all that regular exercise, I'll have the energy necessary to be the parent the girls need. It seems like a win-win to me...

The sheer distance of the race does intimidate me right now, but I'm comfortable with simply doing my best. If that means finishing a chunk of it by walking, then so be it. That would certainly still be an achievement considering that until I started running in April, I hadn't really exercised regularly since 1995! I have also spent much of the last few years in pain from fibromyalgia; I'm amazed that I can run as much as I am.

There has been more, so much more... I'll slowly chip away at it all!


Rachael said... you've said it, so it must be real!!!! I was holding my breath for whether you'd do the half with me or not! Don't let the distance intimidate you. It will be FUN, I promise. And, try to get a couple extra days and we'll sight-see in Chicago. I'll take a few days off too if you can.

Anonymous said...

ahemmmmm Chicago native ...ahemmmm HELLO anybody listening?? ahem...I would love to sleep in a hotel and sleep in late while you both run...and then take in the town with you...ahem...

my throat just won't seem to clear

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you are back on line!
Good luck in Chicago!
It is a wonderful town - check out the flowers all over the city, walk along Michigan avenue from the small beach on the North side to the Art museum. You will love it.

HRH said...

What a fun potluck.

You have been busy! The cleaning out of the apartment seems like alot and then the visitors, the training for the run, insomnia...etc! OMG. You girls are seriously crazy with the run, but it will be fun to do it together. Wish I could be there to cheer you on.

Tina in CT said...

Really glad that you are finally doing something for just YOU!

I cringe thinking of all that was cleared out that could have been put away for the girls in later years (the doll house). I am taking out the doll house that Dad made you the Xmas you were Natalia's age so the girls can play with it when they are here. You know what a saver I am.

Loved the blog you did for the wedding photo tour.

bleeding espresso said...

My you've been busier and now about to get even busier! I'm tired just reading this potluck post ;)

Michelle said...

Yeah, another runner!!!

I have fibromyalgia and I am a runner. I ran 4 marathons int he past year. i was not an active person before but when I hit my mid-30s, I decided I needed to do it. I love is my relaxation! If you need any help, let me know!

Annie said...

My deepest instincts are with your mother.... But, if I don't clear out some of the STUFF in my house my sanity will be at risk. I hope you can be an inspiration for me.

How I'd LOVE to meet you in Chicago...but I'm SO TOTALLY NOT the kind of person who would be at a "run" that I can't bear it. I'd feel like such a loser. If you ever go to Chicago for the tour of pre-Raphaelite paintings, or something....I'll be there!

Annie said...

Oh.... I am also stuggling with Ilya's insomnia. It is a true problem. We started with valerian (prescribed by our Russian pediatrician). No luck. Then we got a prescription. No. I doubled the dosage. (Sounds dreadful, but Maxim had once been on the double-dosage, so I doubted it would kill him.) Definitely not. Nothing. We watched carefully - maybe he wasn't taking it! But, no. Ilya reminds me of some raging rhino on a nature program who won't drop no matter how many of the pellets hit him. It is nightmarish. Fortunately, he is OK being up on his own, but I am not very happy about that. :(

Lori said...

Yeah for you! It will be fun, if not the run at least the weekend.