Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Swan Lake at School

The 3rd and 4th Grade Drama Club put on Swan Lake today; they did such a great job! Natalia played the prince's mother and a swan sister. She LOVES theater!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Half Marathon in Siberia

I did it! I'll do a post as soon as I can with all my pictures, etc.! It was wonderful!

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Lake

Here I am on the lake for the first time, assessing the conditions for the race on Saturday. 

I am SO thankful I have great ski goggles; it is beyond bright here. The sun reflects off of all the snow and it's blinding! 

The terrain varies: the ice can be glassy and bare, or it can be covered in snow. The snow is mostly lightly packed, and great for running—but it can also be wind-blown, and almost knee deep. If we have to run in deep areas of snow that aren't uniform in depth, the running will be exhausting and very hard on one's knees... We're simply aiming to finish and not hoping for any kind of race time.

The wind will be blowing throughout the race from north to south, while we'll run east to west. At least it won't be head-on! If only we could get some wind from beyond to help push us forward!

For as far you can see, it's just white... The finish line will be visible from the actual start line, but we'll have no sense of distance covered... That will be the hardest part. You just keep on going...

Here are some local kids on their "unique" playground!

Freezing—and Running!— for a Heart-Warming Cause! PLEASE HELP!

I went through with it, and I've arrived in Listvyanka, Siberia—where I'm running in the Ice (Half) Marathon across Lake Baikal!!! ( I first wrote about the marathon last July...) The lake is a truly awesome body of water—it holds around a fifth of the fresh water on the planet; is a kilometer and a half deep in places; and contains thousands of plants and animal species found nowhere else on earth.

Here I am, in green, with my friend who is also running.

You can find out more about the run and area by visiting the Ice Marathon website.

I'm hoping to raise some money for a wonderful US charity that helps Eastern European orphans. New Horizons for Children  helps older orphans to experience life in a loving family during summer and winter vacation home stays in the United States. I chose this charity because of what I've seen it do first-hand, forever changing lives for the better.

You can easily make a donation by visiting my fundraising website:

I personally know families who have hosted through New Horizons, and some have even adopted their sixteen-year-old summer guests! You can read more about my friend Rachael's experience with New Horizons—and as a new mom to sixteen-year-old Ukrainian-born Nick—at her blog ( 

He has fit right into the family, adored by his little brothers and sisters. 

Rachael, incidentally, got me both blogging, volunteering with Russian orphans, and running when we met in 2004... She was in Moscow waiting for her St. Petersburg-born six-year-old Katya's US passport... 

Here they were waiting to host Nick last summer...

...And here he is with his new family.

An orphan's wishes are simple - love, FAMILY, home, acceptance, HOPE. They are the most basic needs of the human spirit that every child should be entitled to. Unfortunately, for most orphans of poverty-stricken Eastern Europe, these simple wishes are far-fetched, impossible dreams. Most will have to scrap and scrape to make their way in this world - alone - and statistically the odds are not in their favor. At 16 or after 9th grade, they are turned out into the streets, with nothing but the clothes on their backs and little to no skills. Some sources say that only about 25-30% of Ukrainian orphanage graduates will go on to hold down a job or attend a trade school for more than a year. The rest fall prey to the streets: crime, drugs, prostitution. 10% will commit suicide by age 25.

Hosting gives them hope. A chance to experience and see firsthand what a family can be. A chance to know that somebody in this world cares about them. For some, hosting may be their one chance to meet their forever family and to be adopted. It's a chance to rewrite the whole rest of their story - to change their future. I greatly admire the work the charity has done and hope it can expand to reach more children.

I know many people ask for donations, but I'd be so grateful even for a tiny amount. Donating through is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with– they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to New Horizons. All money donated will go to provide scholarships to children hoping to be hosted—and we'll direct the funds to help Nick's best friends who have been left behind. This is their very last chance to find a family instead of ending up on the streets!

It costs $2,500 per child to host, and not all families can afford this cost, even though they yearn to open their homes to these children... I would be immensely grateful for anything you can donate!