Saturday, July 19, 2014

Palace of the Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich

Wednesday was an extremely hot day, probably the hottest day of the year, but we decided to go on a family outing. We invited our good friend Spring to come with us. All the children seemed to hang on Spring, they love her so much!

We went to the Palace of the Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich. It is a beautiful wooden palace that we pass by every Sunday morning on our way to church. We have meant to visit the site for a long time, but never got around to it, however we made it a priority now that we know we are leaving soon!

So, everyone grabbed their "Adventure Bag" (named by the children), stocked with some snacks and water, and we headed out to make the hour and a half long trip.

William charmed the ladies around him on the tramvi as he played with the head of his monkey backpack and pretended to make it talk. He likes to call the tramvi a choo-choo train.

Kate LOVES horses! So when we found this statue by the palace, I had to get a picture.

I wanted to get a family picture in front of the palace, but the sun was way too bright, so we decided to sit in the shade, slather on sunscreen, and let the children play while we waited for softer lighting. 

While we waited, we found several four leaf clovers! Jon and I had never found a four leaf clover before, but we found at least two or three in only a couple minutes, and Kate found a bunch of her own.

William playing in our shadetree (below). The children liked to make the long run across the field to a bushy cherry tree where dear William covered himself in cherry juice. Is there such thing as poison cherries? I'm not sure if he ate any or not. Yikes!

Brucie especially loves our friend Spring! They are good buddies!

We decided to take a walk around the palace, and we found a better spot to get a family picture. The sun was still bright, though.

Feeling as though we were melting from the heat, we found another shade tree and bought and enjoyed some plombir ice cream (the best kind of ice cream you can buy in Moscow). These poor horses wanted shade as well.

It's not often you see a no smoking sign in Moscow. But, Spring pointed out that it makes sense next to a palace made of wood. ;)

isn't the palace gorgeous?!

We wanted to take a tour inside, but the tickets were very expensive and the children, by that time, were worn out! Maybe we will go back, but our time in Moscow is running short.  :(

Monday, July 14, 2014

Fourth of July 2014

On the Fourth of July, our family went out to Red Square. 

First, we took the children to the history museum. Unfortunately, we had three little boys who would not cooperate very well. Bruce was fairly well behaved, but his poor feet hurt, so we had to keep finding chairs for him to sit down and rest. William was a normal, energetic three-year-old (not very compatible for a museum visit), and James was bored to tears. So, it made the experience not as enjoyable as it could've been. 

Jon, Kate, and I liked the museum, but we wished we would've started on the upper two levels, since they were more interesting (to us) than the main level. 

The main level had A LOT of ancient artifacts that were just rusted and corroded, and I felt like there were way more arrowheads than was necessary. The second level had some fun clothing, huge model ships, and other things. I never made it to the top level, since I took the bullet and corralled the boys on a bench while we waited for Kate and Jon to finish the rest the museum in peace. I'll admit that I let the boys watch a video on my phone while we waited. I realize that it was an undeserved reward to let them do that, but otherwise I couldn't have kept them still and in one spot.

Kate and Bruce by the gorgeous flowers by Gum mall

After the museum we were hungry, so we took the children to a restaurant near Red Square called Beverly Hills Diner. It has a really fun American 50s theme. I had hoped that we could get a table in a car, but they were filled. No matter, the children were still mesmerized by the vintage atmosphere. And, bonus, we got a booth next to a running model train, which we would not have seen had we been sitting in the car.

The food was fairly good. Kate and Bruce got their long awaited, much craved hot dogs, and the others got other American foods. 

Unfortunately, I am obsessed with salmon, and I got a salmon patty burger. When I got it, it was cold, there wasn't a hint of pink in the white, pasty patty, so I doubt there was salmon in it, and...there's no other way to describe it other than it was absolutely disgusting! Jon even attempted to switch meals with me, but he couldn't eat more than one bite of my salmon patty. 

We did something that I very rarely do at a restaurant, and we mentioned how bad my meal was to the waitress. She asked if I would like a new one, of which I certainly did not, so I requested to just not pay for it. Besides not wanting another pasty salmon patty burger, we have noticed that restaurants in Russia often take extra long time to serve your food, and I didn't want to wait again. Thankfully, I didn't go hungry. I just shared a meal with our picky William.

And, that was about it for our Fourth of July celebrating. After a long day out and about, we were pooped when we got home!

William feeling sad when I took away my iPhone

Blogging Break

Obviously, I have been on a blogging break for quite some time. It was just something that I personally needed to do to keep sane. I was feeling a lot of stress, anxiety, and pressure, and although I enjoyed having written a blog post, I wasn't enjoying writing them anymore, if that makes sense.

We found out quite suddenly at the beginning of February that our landlord had sold our apartment and that we had a month to move out. He wasn't necessarily trying to be mean. In fact, I think our landlord thought he was fair with the amount of time he gave us.  And, a little in his defense, we were aware that he had the apartment up for sale; he had just promised us at one time that we would have up to two months to move out.  

And, of course it had to be around the coldest time of the year!

Thankfully, we were able to get everything packed up in time (with some generous help from friends). And, by some miracle we were able to find an apartment large enough for our family to move into before we were homeless.

It is actually very difficult to get a decent sized apartment for a family of six in Moscow because most Russians only have one or two children.

Still, we had to downsize (we lost one bedroom, a dining room, a storage room, and a balcony), BUT we got a second bathroom!! Holy cow! It has been SO wonderful to have a second bathroom! I won't go into any detail, but I'll just say that it's empowering to be able to lock the bathroom door for once.

Our new apartment is beautiful! We nicknamed it The Palace. It, unfortunately, costs the same as our last apartment to rent, but it is a nicer, newer apartment. The living room is my favorite. It's sparkly and Kate and I agree that it's magical. :-)

The worst part is only having two bedrooms and just trying to share that space. Jon and I do not get our own bedroom, and we really miss the privacy.

We have lived in our new apartment for five months, and we were all unpacked and comfortable, when we found out that we are moving again!

This time we are headed out of the country to Astana, Kazakhstan. Jon got a new job that we are very excited about!

So, my blogging may still be spotty, but at least I have a desire to try again, though now I'm just voice dictating from my phone instead of lugging out my laptop. Hopefully when we are settled into our new place, I will be ready to write regularly again.

Pics of our new place before we moved in:

Monday, February 17, 2014

Oh, There's No Place Like HOME For the Holidays!!!

I can’t even begin to describe what a wonderful time we had visiting our families in Utah! Our trip was very therapeutic, and it filled in an empty place in our hearts that has been aching for A LONG TIME. It was so much fun to be back home after a four year absence!

Our flight went OK. We were really happy with the entertainment options, however being in a cramped and tiny space for soooooooooooooo long got old really fast. Brucie got bored and impatient quickly, and at one point he was laying on the floor at my feet whining over and over and over and over again, "This is taking FOREVER!" Feeling annoyed, I thought, yes it is!

William had about 30 minutes of solid screaming time on the plane while everyone was trying to sleep. Embarrassing! He was SO tired, and we were trying to get him to sleep, but he wasn’t giving in! Some random Russian mom with a baby in her arms invited herself over and tried to give Jon some advice and soothe William. I think it only made things worse, but if it made her feel better to help, more power to her. Jon and I finally gave up trying to get Will to sleep and just handed him an iPad and he quieted down. All we could do was hope that he didn’t kick the seat in front of him and spazz out anymore.

I've decided that international flying is like being in Hell with some slight perks.

James and Bruce getting chair massages just before the flight.

I POURED on the hand-sanitizer ALL throughout the flight!
We were going home and we were NOT going to be sick for it!!!

Getting comfy on our first flight

Will FINALLY got to sleep at the end of the flight.

I think it's cute Bruce fell asleep like this.

Unfortunately, I realized after we’d left that I forgot my camera at home (insert eye roll). I was so mad at myself! Jon and I took an entire week to pack for this trip, and yet I still forgot it! Of all things to forget, especially on vacation! So, the best thing we had was our subpar cell phone cameras.  That was better than nothing, I suppose.

We arrived in Salt Lake City not long before midnight. I had always imagined, during these past 2 ½ years of living in Moscow, that once we finally returned to the U.S., I would kiss the ground with happiness and relief. Melodramatic, I know. However, I guess I was much too tired when we flew in and much too excited to see family…and I forgot to even consider it, though I doubt I would have followed through.  I mean, where do you kiss?  The airport floor (covered in dirt and germs from all over the world)?  The asphalt or concrete outside the airport?  Probably the ground at home, I would think, but then the time seems really long past.

We were so lucky – we had three weeks to spend with our families!

We spent the first part of our trip with Jon’s family. We celebrated Christmas with them, and Jon’s brother, Jason, had his wedding reception just before New Year’s.

Grandma and Grandpa saved decorating their tree for our kids! I thought that was very generous, especially since our kids did it the day before Christmas Eve. That means that most of their Christmas season they just had the lights and ribbon on their tree.


My father-in-law took Jon and me to Cosco so that we could do some “elf work” before Christmas. It was fun to get out and go on a drive without the kids (they stayed home with Grandma and Aunt Jenni) and see some of the “old”, familiar places again. I can’t remember the last time we shopped at Cosco. However, I can’t help but mention: Cosco carts are comically large! I felt like a midget pushing the cart around the store. Honestly, it’s a little ridiculous how big they are. I almost had Jon to take my picture, but realized nobody else would think it was funny. Trust me, the carts are ginormous!

The kids made gingerbread houses (brick style)
with Uncle Jason and Aunt Mandi

Jason’s and Mandi’s reception was beautiful, and it was great to see most of the family on that side.

Bride and groom dancing
Bruce playing with the chalk board in his brand new suit at Uncle Jason's reception.

What a mess!

Playing outside in the snow

Playing inside with Grandpa and Grandma's toys

Watching Grandpa's iPad

Bruce and I making pies with Play-Doh

On December 30, Jon’s parents came with us and we visited Jon’s maternal grandmother, then we met up with Jon’s other brother, Jeremy and his family and we went to see the lights at Temple Square. It was cold, but fun! That night, instead of going back to Jon’s parent’s place, we went to my parent’s home and stayed over a week.

We celebrated New Year’s with my parents and siblings, and then that weekend we had James’s and Bruce’s birthday party with the family (blog post to follow).

Bruce fell asleep right under the bras while I was shopping at Gap!!!

The last week of our trip, we hopped back to Jon’s parents house for a few days, then went to Jon’s brother’s house for a night, and then spent the last couple days with my parents.


Jon and I got to go to the temple!  It was wonderful!

William entertaining himself while Jon and I packed to leave my in-law's house

It was SO great to see parents, siblings, grandparents, and good friends! The kids loved playing with their cousins.

One of the best parts about our trip was that we had our oldest three children take turns going alone to spend time with the opposite grandparents. So, for example, we would all be with one set of parents and we would send just one of the kids to the opposite parents for a couple days each. It was helpful because we didn’t have a big enough car to fit our entire family. We could tell the children really cherished that special one-on-one time with their grandparents and getting to know them.

It was SO hard to leave at the end of our trip! There was so much anticipation going to Utah, so many loved ones to see, and so many things to do, but it felt like we had nothing to return to in Moscow -- just extremely hard work, cold weather, and snow. Of course, we have dear friends here, too, and they are the best part about being back. I guess it’s nice to be in our own space again, as well.

William napping on the place home

At the airport in Moscow, waiting for our taxi (a.k.a. the Vomit Mobile)

The boys were too tired to eat or even face their food the night we got home

We pray that it won’t be so long before we can return home again! Thank you, everyone (you know who you are), for making it such a special, memorable trip!