Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Weekday

Before I left most of the comments I got about my trip related to the weather. Since most of you are probably too lazy to look it up for yourselves, I thought it might be nice to highlight the weather here. Today we had a high of 32F. By itself 32 is not bad at all, but it was breezy besides, and that did make it rather numbing. But I don't believe it will get really arctic until after we're gone.

The ladies of the apartment went out walking today. We took the bus downtown and visited a bookstore and the outdoor market. The outdoor market is a tourist destination that sells fifty million nesting dolls, ten kinds of amber jewelry, and a few other things. Dog Evil visited my bed while we were out walking. My dislike of him deepens.

The D parents are leaving for Vladivostok in a week, so we all sort of have a week to rest after the busy schedule of Vyborg before it picks back up again. Nanny 2 and I will definitely be busier while the D parents are away speaking, since we'll be doing school as well as all the overseeing that parents normally do.

Monday, October 29, 2012

More Doings

Those of you who know me know that I have no great liking for pets of any kind, AT ALL. I don't know how I ended up that way, since we had animals growing up. Last night wonder bunny escaped from his cage. At first I thought it was just a large rat under my bed until he hopped on top of my neighbor. At least if it had been a rat we could have set a trap for it. Wonder bunny also has an early morning exercise routine, starting at 6am and going for an hour.

Mrs. D and the baby, A and N on our walk in the park. We had a dusting of snow this morning.

The dog also likes to have free reign over the bedroom particularly in the early hours of the morning. I've taken to barricading the doors, to keep from heart attacks at dawn when the dog decides to sleep with someone. Ahhh, the trials of missionary life!

 Church on Sunday at the Seminary. The kids enjoyed using the teenage boys as jungle gyms.

The evangelical church here is much smaller than in Vyborg, and with fewer English-speakers, but fellow believers all the same. It was Reformation Sunday, so we had a fellowship meal afterward along with four dances called by Friend H and I. The language barrier doesn't really matter much in dancing, because even calling in English to English speakers, no one listens, so teaching dances to those who don't understand what one is saying is normal.

This morning we all walked a few blocks down the street to Smolney Convent.

It was a brisk walk with beautiful sights.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Back in Санкт-Петербург

Friday was our last half-day in Vyborg. Pastor F and his family stayed talking with the D's until 2am. I went to bed early, but I might as well have stayed up because the D's and F's together make a rousing bunch! The Fs gave Nanny 2 and I each a box of chocolate covered prunes as a farewell gift.

We took the 3:45 slow train back to St.P. It would have been uneventful(If you can traveling with eight children, seven suitcases, and innumerable bags uneventful) except once we got on the train our party was harassed by a drunk man who passed by several times, tried to sit with us, and got rather angry. Thankfully we were able to get off the train(two parents, two nannies, eight kids, seven suitcases, plus bags) and get away without anything serious happening.

We arrived home very hungry at the P apartment and had a tasty chicken dinner with the Ps and Friend H. Friend H is the other young lady sharing the girl's bedroom. She arrived while we were in Vyborg and is staying here even longer than us, volunteering as an aide in the International school here. Friend H is twenty-two, almost engaged, from Iowa, and I'm already very glad of her company.

Church of the Spilled Blood. Mrs. P took the ladies on a long walk today so that the D's could have some family time. We took the bus and walked all over and this is one place we walked past.

Friend H outside a gift shop. Out of the five of us, Nanny 2 was the only to buy very much.

Tomorrow morning we'll head off to Church around 10:15 and get back after lunch sometime.
 I'm hoping for a restful and peaceful day.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Comings and Goings

Wednesday two ladies came to cook us a Russian meal. The one lady had visited before, and the other, her friend, is a Christian wife to an unbeliever, pregnant with her second child, who works as a surgeon in a hospital emergency room. They cooked us a kind of stir-fry and brought chocolate for dessert. It was a good lunch. Today we had a ladies' meeting for the church women; they all brought a dish for lunch, and tonight another family is coming to make us dinner, so we're getting plenty of local fare. I've lost track of how many people have come to visit, but it's been between one to four families a day for two weeks. You do the math. We have one short day left here in Vyborg, and we'll all be sad to leave.The church has been very welcoming.

We were also invited to tea by a Church family that lives in the country outside of Vyborg. They share an acre or so and an L-shaped house with another Church family. It was really neat to see the house that these two families built and the way it works out for them to live together. They served us delicious apple rolls made with their own apples.

On another note....

I need something to read. I couldn't bring books, I don't have a kindle, so that leaves the internet. I used to read a fair amount of Christian women's blogs until I grew tired of the seeming repetition in blogs written by single ladies my age: be content, trust in the Lord, whether you end up married or not. And I know that, but to live that is really, really hard. And just reading that over and over, you're single, it's God's will, you'll be fine, the end, came to be discouraging to me. So I shifted away from reading Christian blogs into reading costuming/sewing blogs, which are for me way more productive.

Except for right now, when I'm not able to sew, and I need other sources to keep me steady. One thing I like to do when I'm traveling is listen to the music practices and sermons from church. It helps me keep in touch a bit with what's going on at home. But sermons and music aren't quite as relational as blogs. So I'm looking for some good blog suggestions, encouraging and thought-provoking sources to read in short pauses while I'm away. 

So, if you have a suggestion of any good blog to read, post a comment with a link. And if you have a blog yourself, post a comment.

Nanny 2 and MissT at Tea

I so appreciate honest blogging. I know it's hard to be honest online, either because you don't want to offend other people(and it's difficult to be open on such a public forum without that happening) or you don't want to make yourself look bad. One honest blog I've been enjoying recently is The Dating Manifesto. The author strikes me as mature, with posts relevant to my situation, that are understanding yet challenging.

Another pertinent site at present is the Slavic Reformation Society (though I couldn't load the article about us for some reason), as well as the D website, where I make brief appearances. I'm quoted as being a "calming influence." I think the Ds don't quite know what to do with a person who doesn't talk continually. I'm actually probably being a lot quieter here than I ever am at home, just because I see no point in talking when eight other people are, and no one would be able to hear me anyway!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tower View

A Walk in the Park

Today we drove a short ways to Monrepos park. The park reportedly started out as the estate of a tutor of a tsar; and was eventually inherited by his descendant who dedicated it to God. After he died and his mansion fell into disrepair it became a park. And I'm roughly paraphrasing when I quote this story.

The gate into the park.
It was another sunny day, but the temperature has dropped to about 36F during daylight hours. Since I left my boots and wool mittens in St.P, it's more noticeable than it should be.

The boarded-up mansion. Several years ago some of the church members asked if they could fix it up. The officials hemmed and hawed for no apparent reason and nothing came of it. As we are learning, don't ask why, because there is no reason.

 This little tower was perched on a small island where there's an old cemetery. You can get there by boat, or wait for the ice to come, so we couldn't get close. The man who built it meant for it to be a symbol of the house built upon the rock, right on the edge so people would remember that life can end quickly.

There were lots of grand trees and piles of moss.

Here's the gate at the water's edge leading up to the cemetery.

We had a good view out into another inlet or bay.

The fount of eternal youth, which is apparently broken since water hasn't come out of the lion's mouth for a while. This is the point where we turned back and walked toward hearth and home to warm our toes. So far I've stayed in CT ten days and been in Russia for just two weeks. Blog traffic peaked on Oct. 1st with 110 pageviews(I should have known- the cemetery post. Brings 'em every time) and had 1300 pageviews in the past month, which is about double the average during my normal costume posts. Either Mr. G is a very avid follower of my blog, or all those people who I told to read my blog, actually are!

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Castle

Today we went on a tour of the castle with some of our new Russian friends. Vyborg castle is a confusing mix of Swedish, Finnish and Russian buildings stretching over the eras. Today was one of the few sunny days we've seen thus far, and it was beautiful weather for going out, though it is getting colder. Sadly, the mild illness we've all been fighting went to my head today and made me rather miserable. Thankfully the photos don't convey that, so you can enjoy them without the side affects of congestion.

Ten little children, sitting in a tree. One fell off and bumped his head, Etc.

The castle in the sun. We got in to the tower for free, apparently because every so often large families get in for free, and it's also off season, and so the museum was closed.

The courtyard. Russia doesn't seem very tidy to me; maybe that's just the way cities are, but there's lots of beer bottles, broken glass, cigarettes and garbage in the streets. The castle didn't have so much garbage, but it still looked a little unkept. Apparently at one point it was a prison. In May and June they have jousts and reenactments here. 

There was a small room off the tower gate with chain mail, helmets and such for everyone to try on. The guys loved it.

Looking over the old part of Vyborg

We walked up to the top of the tower. Tower steps are not, I think, for the faint-of-heart. There must be a tower maker's creed that all steps must be rickety and scary looking. These steps were metal, winding up the wall. In the center there were dusty planks that had been "under construction" for some time.

Looking out over the Bay

Having seen the view we walked to the indoor market to buy some gifts. The market is kind of a tourist place, but it also has fresh meat and vegetables. There was also china, boots, hats, linens, and the famous Russian nesting dolls. I bought two metres of linen and one small nesting doll. I don't really like the style of the dolls, since they're so bright and so many colors-some of them even had glitter- but I figured I'd get in trouble if I didn't buy at least one to take home.

Good old Torkol up on his pedestal.
We had borscht today; Pastor F and his wife came over last night to help us make a big pot of it along with some cottage cheese bars. Good stuff!

The old clock tower that was part of some old building of some particular nationality that I can't recall.

Red Square and the statue of Lenin, on our way home.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Vyborg Park Number Two

Saturday afternoon we all took a walk with some of our new church friends to a very nice park more on the edge of town.

I'm very glad we came early enough for it to still be fall, and not all winter here, and I'm very glad we got a glimpse of a more local area than StP. Even though the temperature is steadily dropping there's still color and greenery here in Vyborg.

The park was made up of an indoor basketball court, a race track, and several walking paths on the hill behind. There used to be a fairground set-up, but that's no longer in use. The kids enjoyed playing in the left-behind spinning teacup ride(which was full of mud). Originally the hill was a military fortification- I forget if it was built by the Finns or the Russians. Leftover from the fort were several crumbling brick buildings and a stone wall.

We all burned pent-up energy. It was a very good thing. Jump-rope, tug-of-war, soccer, badminton and general running in circles made up our agenda.

A Hobbit hole. For Soviet Hobbits.

The sort of tunnel things were mostly unappealing inside and full of trash.

I really couldn't tell what the purpose had been of the remaining structures. I don't know if this tunnel went anywhere, and it was too full of beer bottles to find out. But it still looks neat.

See? Color!

Part of the fairground graveyard, on our way out of the park. By the time we got home we were all chilled and hungry. We were glad to have dinner before our next appointment at 7pm.

The outer gate.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Links to the Outside

Even though I'm on the other side of the globe I'm still keeping up on the regular things, like the dance organization and my favorite blogs. And since I don't have any sewing projects right now to post about I figured I could post about other people's. The other night the kids watched "Voyage of the Dawn Treader"(surround sound! Amazing!) and it made me miss my sewing. I did bring a whitework quilt, but since we're only in Vyborg for two weeks I left it in St.P. I was so tired of luggage that all I brought to Vybrog was three changes of clothes.


Here's an encouraging post about having a hard-to-use job skill.

10% off American Duchess! Though personally I think waiting for the damaged shoes is the way to go. I love the new buckles, but I'm not wealthy enough at present to afford either them or the new stockings. Now I miss my shoes, too.

I'm only slightly jealous that I once again was not able to attend Mississiniwa. I'm totally missing out on the 1812 bicentennial!

I may have already posted this, but oh well. Love this dress. The more I see of the Victorian era the more I enjoy it.

Friday, October 19, 2012


Wednesday was wet and raining. We took a short walk and had one family over in the evening.

Thursday we had two groups of people come over, and in between we took a walk with Mrs. F, who was very sweet to spend so much time as our tour guide. We're such an oddity as a large family, we can tell people are talking about us as we go by. Some even thought we were gypsies.

Thursday morning we had a young couple come over to speak with the Ds. Here's their testimony, shorthand: This couple met when the woman was just sixteen, and they "fell in love." At eighteen she found out she was pregnant. After the birth of the baby their relationship cooled, and they seemed to have no reason to be together except for their young son. Then after searching and speaking with a friend the woman became a Christian, but her husband did not. She immediately proposed to her husband that they get married and, as she said with tears in her eyes, they are still together. For four years she prayed for her husband and worked to love and respect him, and after much resistance to the faith he also became a Christian. They now have a second child, an adorable little girl.

Friday the D's had three appointments, and Nanny 2 arrived. Nanny 2 was delayed one more week beyond us due to even more visa issues, but now she's finally here. I've been a little apprehensive about working with a co-nanny, who, by all reports, is my polar opposite. It should be interesting!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Food and People

I've recently had requests for blogposts about food and people; so here's a bit more.


So far the food has been mostly "normal." I think our guides have been careful to keep us on the straight and narrow American path. However, we have tried a few little items that have been different. One was Russian root beer made out of black bread. Apparently Russians don't like carbonation, so there's no fizz, and while it looks like root beer otherwise, it tastes like toast. I doubt it will ever be a favorite. The other night we all had a little candy bar that looked like a normal little chocolate bar, but was a cross between yogurt and cheesecake inside, and that was alright. The "sausage" that was suggested to us turned out to be pink rubber, similar to bologna. Vanilla here is powdered. We've also tried sweetened buttermilk, which is basically like a yogurt smoothie without fruit. I hope to try some fresh caught fish since we're just off the coast.


I've been hesitant to post about the people because I want to be careful about their privacy; also, as the nanny, and a fairly silent one at that, I've not been conversing with loads of people (other than cute little four year olds) in the past week. Besides babysitting while the Ds are out my duties during the in-home meetings are mostly to quench blood and quiet loudness, and overall to do the laundry, some cooking and some clean-up. I have listened in a bit during the meetings and while Pastor F is talking, and there are some amazing testimonies here.

Downtown Vyborg

One testimony we heard was of a lady who had epilepsy as a teenager, and that challenge led her to Christ. She slowly recovered and married a man who said he was a believer, but ended up a drug addict, in and out of jail. The lady waited for her husband while he was in jail and tried to be a help to him. Then, against all odds, she became pregnant and had a healthy baby (Because of her epilepsy they weren't expecting to have children). After the first baby she even got pregnant again, and was advised to have an abortion. The baby wasn't expected to be healthy and her husband was back in bad habits. But she kept the baby and miraculously it was born healthy. She and her husband separated, and now she's working for the church and interested in teaching her children at home.

The Round Tower restaurant.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Walk on the Wild Side

Monday afternoon we all took a walk around Vyborg with the Pastor F's wife and three daughters. Even in this nice large apartment the children have difficulty finding non-destructive ways to burn energy. And they do have so much energy.

Straightjackets- I mean, strollers- are wonderful things. And so are little boys.

This car is an advertisement of sorts sitting outside a home decor shop that's on our corner. I like Vyborg. It feels much more manageable than St.P and more like the towns I visited in Scotland. It's right near the coast, and it's much smaller than St.P. I just like it better. I'm a little concerned that once we get back to St.P, especially for the ten days or so that Nanny 2 and I will be alone with the kids, that it will be hard to get out and about beyond going to the park. Imagine house fever with eight kids.

We walked down to the bay where there was a small playset.

 On the other side of the bay there were two viking boats that had been used for a movie and are now just out for show. Apparently people used to be able to climb in them, but so much trash was left behind that they're closed off now.

Spinning children.

The path along the bay led to the castle. We're planning on going on a tour of the castle during our time here. The D's have a pretty busy speaking schedule, so I'm hoping it works out to go, and if not I'll try to go myself. I know sometimes plans don't always become reality for busy people!

From the castle bridge we turned left to walk through the old part of town. At this point it was about 5pm and it was getting dark and harder to take pictures with my (old) camera. I've not seen any real sort of sunset(and certainly not any sunrise) yet; it just sort of gets lighter and darker in a  hazy way. It's also foggy here, being close to the coast. Mrs. D will wake us up at 10am and I really can't tell from the light that's it's any later than 7:30 or 8am.

The old buildings, which are now apartments, reminded me of old Dutch architecture, which I guess makes sense considering that Peer the Great did spend time studying in the Netherlands.

After walking down the old cobblestone streets(seriously hard to walk on after modern concrete!) we stopped at a little cafe for a pastry and tea. Then we rushed home. The D's are having members of the church come to the apartment every day to talk with them and encourage them. Last night the party included four adults and two very hyper children who stayed for a very edifying but noisy four hours. Tonight our party is much more orderly, and I am thankful. I guess I must be out of practice; I realized the other night that it's been a while since I babysat for eight.