Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Okay so there wasn't really a fire. It was just a fire drill. But it was a new cultural experience for me and I thought y'all might get a good laugh out of it. This was my first fire drill to be part of this year. I guess the others were not while I was here or something. I'm not sure.

Well I was not in a lesson when this happened. I should have been though. I should have met with my native student Alex. We meet just the two of us 4 times a week. Well like many of our students, since we have 2 days off this week, he is out of town. So I was in my office cutting out papers like any good elementary teacher would be doing.

All the sudden I hear this God awful noise and the alarm is only about 30 feet from my office door. I was jammin' to my i pod while working so I turned it off and headed outside. Well like all good children, the middle and high schoolers were running out of the building. ( I think I have told many of you already that there is really not much of a sense of order around here. So unlike the single filed quite lines that we have back in the States we have mass chaos.) I'm walking nicely while teenagers run like chickens with their heads cut off all around me. I'm not really sure where I am supposed to go so I just follow the crowds. No one else but the teens seem to be in a hurry to get anywhere.

Thankfully it was such a beautiful day outside. So I really didn't mind having to spend some time out there. I am finally outside and looking around at all the children when I notice something weird. PreK and Kindergarten are not out here. I'm thinking surely they heard the same thing that I did. I wonder where they could be.

About 10 minutes later, here come PreK and Kindergarten strolling out. I see Jamie with Kindergarten and I ask her what took them so long. Well she told me that they had to change into their outdoor clothes!!! For a fire drill!!!

My thoughts are FIRE EVERYBODY OUT! No not the Russians. Their thoughts are FIRE LETS CHANGE CLOTHES!!! Obviously you can all tell that I am a silly American here. I assumed that like in America it is pretty much engraved in our brains from birth that if there is a fire you drop everything and get outside away from everything! Well obviously that is not the case. Here even though it is in the upper 70's! we still need to change, put a coat, scarf, hat, and outdoor shoes on! Not to mention changing out of a uniform into outdoor shirts and pants too!!

I decided that if there is a real fire while I am teaching, I am going to grab some kids kicking and screaming AND WE ARE RUNNING OUT THE DOOR TO SAFETY!!! HELLO!!! COMMON SENSE PEOPLE!!!

So let me just give everyone a little Russian cultural lesson that I have since learned this year. Russian children, though they may not bathe regularly, wear a ton of clothes!! First you come to school in an outfit. This outfit no matter what the weather will consist of an undershirt (girls and boys), cotton tights (girls and boys to the age of about 9-10), pants, shirt, jacket/ coat, shoes. Then they will come inside and change the outer layer into a school uniform. From there we also have separate clothes to play outside in. I know what you're thinking, and NO, they are not the same clothes they came to school in. It is another outfit. We have to change back into the school uniform to come back inside and go to lunch. Now if you are in PreK or Kindergarten then you also have a set of pajamas at school for nap time. (They do keep the same PJ's all week.) There is also a separate outfit for PE, dance, and swimming (all of which 90% of children participate in). So by now I have lost count as to how many outfits we wear in one day!! Talk about some laundry! And this cracks me up too, their outdoor and PE clothes are definitely Dolche and Gabanna, Coach, Armani, etc. So they aren't even real play clothes!!

So I hope you now feel educated about the Russian culture. This is one of the things that really makes me laugh. And it is so important for them too! Different sides of the world!!!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Birthday Pictures

Here are a few pics of my birthday weekend. Sunday we had a church picnic out at the US Embassy Dacha and took a walk along the Moscow River. The others are of celebrating with friends on Friday night at TGIFridays.

Monday, April 21, 2008


As I the number of pregnant friends of mine seems to be growing practically daily, I find myself discussing names a lot. I love these conversations and hearing different names and why people like certain names. But then I thought about my students names. I thought some of you in the great U.S of A. might get a kick out of it. So here are my kids names, hope you get a good laugh.

(Given name) (shorter name they go by) (how many in that class)
Maria (Masha) (3)
Eva (1)
Tate (1)
Daniel (Danya) (1)
Mikael (Misha) (4)
Maxim (Max) (1)
Elijah (1)
Tatiana (Tanya) (1)
Igor (1)
Alexandra (Sasha) (1)
Arkosta (1)
Alicia (1)

1st grade
Daria (Dasha) (2)
Sonya (3)
Nikoli (Nikita) (1)
Daury (1)
Artem (2)
Daniel (Danya) (1)
Yagor (1)
Edgar (1)
Igor (1)
Nikoli (Kolia) (1)
Anastasia (Anna) (1)
Alexander (Sasha) (1)
Alexander (Alex) (1)
Phillip (1)
Natasha (Natalia) (1)
Sebastian (Seva) (1)
Gorsha (1)

2nd grade:
Nina (1)
Katerina (Katia) (1)
Anastasia (Nastya) (2)
Anastasia (Anna) (2)
Nikol (1)
Maria (Masha) (1)
Vladamir (Vova) (1)
Mark (1)
Igor (1)
Platon (1)
Ivan (Vanya) (2)
Maxim (Max) (2)
Alousha (Alex) (1)
Alouna (1)
Sergei (1)
Boris (Bori) (1)
Korney (1)

3rd grade:
Anastasia (Nastya) (1)
Anastasia (Ann) (1)
Anastasia (Anna) (3)
Anastasia (Stasya) (1)
Adely (1)
Arina (1)
Alina (1)
Sonya (1)
Sofia (1)
Maxim (Max) (1)
Andrei (1)
Robert (1)
Stas (1)
Alexander (Sasha) (1)
Ivan (Vanya) (1)
Savely (Sava) (1) (I think he is my favorite student)

4th grade:
Xushia (Ksenya) (1)
Anastasia (Anna) (3)
Anastasia (Nastya) (1)
Alouna (1)
Polina (1)
Phillip (1)
Maxim (1)
Artem (2)
Dima (1)
Andrei (1)
(?) (Beka) (1) (its a boy)
Nikoli (Nikita) (1)
Alexander (Alex and Sasha)
Alexander (Sasha) (2)
Vladamir (Vova) (1)
Yuraslav (Yura) (1)

I think I probably forgot some. But they are probably repeats anyway. There are only like 2 dozen boy and 2 dozen girl names as part of the Russian language and culture. Crazy! I feel like they need a little more creativity in their lives!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Ryzan orphanage trip numero tres

I thought I would post some pics of our orphanage trip from last Saturday. It was great. We shared the Easter story and did an Easter egg hunt, painted wooden Easter eggs and had a birthday party like usual. So here are a few of my favorite pics from the day. I love it too because since this was my 3rd time going the kids remember me and there are certain ones that latch on to me more than others. Most of the pics will be of my little monkey Elena. She is 8 but smaller thans most of my preschoolers. She is the little runt so she gets picked a lot.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Easter Story

So I'm not sure what happened to the children I have been teaching for the last three weeks but today they were completely different children! This is a good thing. They have been terrible since spring break. I guess its like visiting grandma's as a child. It take our parents at least a week and a few spankings to get us back into a routine and acting normal again.

In preschool we did the colors of the rainbow. We made a little book. They read it back to me and it went well. They enjoyed it and it was a good way for me to assess each child individually on their colors. In first grade we did a color/ following directions activity. That went well too. We also read a book and they sat quiet the whole time! This is a first. They looked mezmorized or something. But its third and fourth grade that blew my mind.

We learned about the Easter story. Russian Easter is on my birthday, April 27th. It changes every year like ours but I don't think there is a rhyme or reason to their choice of date. Anyway, not only was my kids behavior extrememly good, but they also participated which means they were understanding our conversation. So we did a KWL chart. For the non education majors out there: K-what you know, W- what you want to know and L-what you have learned. This was my first time to use this in Russia. And I am so glad we did. It was the perfect flow of conversation. So we talked about what we Know about Easter first. There were the typical answers of eggs, Easter bunny, cakes with 1 candle (Russian thing), etc. Then I was shocked. They actually said Jesus. Now it is third grade that really threw me. They said Jesus dying on the cross and then coming alive again. Then on the Want to know section, my dear sweet Sava asked Why did Jesus die?, Why did they kill Him?, and Why did He come back to life?. I was thrilled beyond explanation! I had a book to tell some things and then I just practically gave the plan of salvation. It was so cool. I let them ask questions and made sure they were understanding all the words. I was using the simplist words I could to explain it all. So on the Learned section they had great things to put up.

I was so thrilled. I would have been plenty happy with their good behavior today. But then their questions and interest in the topic. It was great. I can get away with doing this around the holidays. If I do it too often then it becomes more questionable. I had a supervisor ask me if I was only going to talk about religion for Easter. My answer was no. And that was the truth. We also talked about food, the Easter bunny, dying eggs, egg hunts, and traditions around the world.

Also one of my David's in the 3rd grade said in Russian to Polina next to him that Jesus wasn't real. She was not happy about that. She told me in English what he said. So I told him that he was real and then he rolled his eyes at me. But what was great was they rest of the class yelling at him, no He is real!

So I have to go now, but I just wanted to share my cool day with you. We are going to the orphanage on Saturday and sharing Easter as well. So the more prayers that day the better!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

New Life

Though it is very overcast today, it is in the 60's here! The sun was shining for 10 days straight! I think it is the most I have seen the sun in Moscow since I came in August. Then it I think it topped off at 3 days. So I think I can say that the sun has changed my life. Yea, that sounds weird. But of course it began with spring break in Dubai. The sun was so refreshing. I love to see the ocean because it is a great reminder of how great our God is. But then to come back to Moscow and have it in the uppper 30's and raining. You could say I just wanted to go back to Dubai. But I think the Lord knew that I really needed the sun to get through the long work weeks. So the temp has been in the 50's and 60's with the sun shining! I feel like a new person! I want to be outside all the time. And I feel like there is new life springing up everywhere! They are planting flowers, the grass is growing, and there are birds everywhere! I think it is warm outside. For those who know me well you are probably thinking that I have lost my mind. But I just had over 6 months of snow, so yea its very warm! I just feel very happy. It is hard to explain. I love it. So though the sun is not shining today, I will still get out and feel the "warmth."

Okay a few people have asked exactly what did I do in Dubai. So here is a short little tid bit.
Friday: fly in, chill at the hotel, eat dinner, etc.
Saturday: spent all day at the beach! went bowling at the hotel at night.
Sunday: did the Big Bus Tour of Dubai, we had a land and sea tour. We got to get out and see cool stuff too. Did some shopping.
Monday: half day at the beach, half day in Dubai finishing shopping and sight seeing.
Tuesday: half day at the beach. Desert Safari! By far the best thing we did, besides the beach.
Wed.: tour to the Indian Ocean, let down.
Thurs: beach for 10 hours! I got so tan!
Friday: fly home :(