Tuesday, September 28, 2010


It is like I've fallen off the face of the earth, isn't it?  In some ways I hate my job, and one of those ways is how it requires 100% dedication for several weeks a couple or more times a year.  Dedication that removes me from family, from friends, and even from myself.  Occasionally, in the past few weeks, I've taken a tiny bit of time to look at some other people's blogs and respond a bit....but even that has been sporadic.  Christine some time ago suggested that we share five "new" things about us.  I thought I might actually be able to do that; though I'm still in over my head, I need to take a gasp of fresh air.

Five "new" things:

1.  I am TEACHING.  In exchange for my children's tuition, I am teaching 7/8th grade English and Bible at our children's small Christian school.  I love it, love it, love it.  The only problem has been that my "real" job has been so onerous that I've not given this the attention I wish I could have done.

2.  I am not teaching Korean children in the middle of the night this year (just couldn't make myself do it) but I am teaching Korean adults over the phone beginning at 4:30 every morning.

3.  Zhenya moved to the Christian school the other kids are in because we just couldn't pay the Catholic school tuition any longer.  Odd that the Christian school will allow me to work for tuition, but my own church won't.  Yet; I do understand - it is bigger.  More "organized".  The structure won't bend for such things.

The move resulted in his repeating fourth grade.  I think this is a good thing....but funny how it came about.  

4. I spent much of the summer trying to find homes for 1) a Spanish exchange student, 2) a ten year old boy who is being disrupted, 3) a ten year old girl who is being disrupted and 4) a lovely 16 year old girl from Latvia, an orphan, who wants to be an exchange student.  I think I got places for every one....but all ends are not yet tied up....

5.  Anastasia is doing amazingly well.  She thrives in her teacher's classroom (same teacher she had last year) and is running cross country - and doing beautifully.  I can see it sort-of "filling her up"....calming her down.  It is a perfect sport for her in so many ways.

So - I could write a whole post about each of those, and may do so....but though the religious education program did get up and running this weekend, the second week is nearly as harrowing as the first, so I need to buck up.  Not time to crumple, yet!

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Last night I worked until I could work no more, getting ready for the open house for catechists that was held this morning.  For a variety of reasons, I was forced to get a late start preparing all the lesson plans for this year, and the main point of the Catechist Open House, is to give the catechists their materials.  So, I was racing against the clock to get them completed on time. 

When I finally got the last one done last night it was no longer officially "night", but one o'clock in the morning.  I wearily stacked my originals in my arms and went over to the church building to make the copies and put them in binders.   My colleague, who is responsible for Adult Education was, to my surprise, working in his office.  His wife was out of town, and this gave him a chance to "catch up".    Down the hall were probably 40-some MSU freshmen, Fr. Joe, and the College Student minister having the "Freshman Retreat".  (That was a nice perk because I got left-over pieces of pizza and cake.) 

When I went home at 2 a.m., they were all still there.  So was the custodian, who was still cleaning the school, after a day dealing with a flooded basement.

When I got back this morning at 7 a.m., Art - one of the Knights (Knights of Columbus) who are constructing a Parish Library and meeting room out of an empty space, was already hard at work in the basement.  In the church someone was praying, and one of the sacristan's assistants was going from door to door, cleaning the holy water stoups, accompanied by her preschooler who was "helping."  Vince, the elderly professor of criminal justice, who watches the phones on the weekend was cleaning a few things up, followed by his little dog, Lily. 

I love being part of a church that never sleeps.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Three minutes until a conversation with a Korean engineer.  My only chance to blog.
Four more of those conversations to go, some fun, some wearing (when the English is difficult; I love, love, love my students.
Get children up.
Food, clothing, into car.
Arrive at school, try to set up, be prepared, bright!
Teach Bible; teach English.  Dear, wonderful students.
Rush to the real job.
Work like there is no tomorrow....  actually, it is work like tomorrow is coming far too soon, which it is.  No help in organizing office, unpacking 500 textbooks, taking registrations, setting up class lists, recruiting volunteers, getting 8 grades of lesson plans updated for the liturgical year, copied, bound, distributed.
Meeting and orienting 20+ new teachers. Preparing for Open Houses.
Run to get children; headache from no lunch. 
Drive them home.  Make dinner.  Try to get them to attend to homework.
Back to work until bed.
Home.  Sleep.

Friday, September 10, 2010


One of the little blessings of blogging has been stumbling on some far-away and even unlikely friends.  One of these jewels is Ciska.  Ciska is a talented, articulate and spiritual young woman, who loves her family, her job, literature and her journey into Catholicism.  I love Ciska and her blog. 

She did me a favor and tagged me in a meme.  I am floundering in busy-ness, and this structured assignment is precisely what I need.  I think we'd call it "Four Things":

Four things that are always in my purse (besides the obvious)
  1. Nametag (for use at parish events when I'm official)
  2. Church keys
  3. Folding Scissors given to me by my dad
  4. Camera (to try and catch events worth remembering and blogging about)
 Four things in the drawer in my desk (that one wouldn't expect to find there)
  1. Russian birch box (ostensibly for stamps, presently empty)
  2. DVD of Craig, Anastasia and me and our friends' son in Gorky Park
  3. Tiny icon of St. Evgenii
  4. Quotes of Mother Teresa calendar
Four favourite things in my bedroom
  1. Antique mirror with a frame of gilded roses
  2. The kerosene Rayo lamp, that my dad studied by as a boy
  3. A picture of a little boy on a sliver of moon with a poem underneath "Dreams are Made in the Moon"; was in my dad's room when he was a child, and also in mine, then Aidan's
  4. A fan; I have slept with a fan going for most of my life now, and experience deep distress without "fan noise".
Four things I always wanted to do
  1. Be a stay at home mom
  2. Be really good at embroidery
  3. Live in Russia part of the time, at least
  4. Be saintly
Four things I like at the moment
  1. Sirius radio because I can get BBC World Service
  2. My phone English students
  3. Having all my children in one school
  4. Teaching English and Bible at Summit.
Four things no one knows about me
  1. I am so bad at judging how much to cook, that I often don't get dinner so the kids get enough.
  2. I anguish every day about what to wear
  3. I often go to three church services on a weekend
  4. There's a bathroom in the otherwise unfinished basement that I leave to the boys to clean.
Four bloggers I want to tag


Thursday, September 9, 2010


I thought I was making some headway cleaning up my office....  I tossed a whole packet of Zhen's schoolwork from last year, then picked up his folder of "Special Writing"....I was sooooo close to chucking it.  I mean.  I was in that "throw-it-away" mood....


I opened it up and saw....the dedication:
How can I throw it away?  Maybe my dear boy won't always love his mom so much.  What could be more precious than this?

Saturday, September 4, 2010


Monday, we had a wonderful day at Cedar Point, that stellar amusement park in northern Ohio.  All the Russians came, of course, and even Lydia came from Virginia.  This day was living proof of the concept that giving pleasure to others can be more rewarding than experiencing it yourself.  Because I am not a roller coaster fan.  All the kids are.  They went from roller coaster to roller coaster, having the time of their lives. 

I carried a bag with probably 40 pounds of stuff in it and waited in line with them, and waited for them in the blazing sun.  But, seeing their enjoyment made what was really a sort-of torture into true happiness.  All the better when, once the day was over, every single child told me privately that they'd had a wonderful time, and thanked me. 

Now I need to get them to formally thank my mom who gave us the money for the trip as our Christmas gift.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


This summer has just been full of everyday things.  On one hand I feel I didn't accomplish much, but bit by bit, we made a few improvements. 

Last week our resident computer geek, Sergei, installed a new printer for my mom.  My mom's apartment radiates serenity and order.  You really can't tell that from this photo of her office because it is such an active workplace, I suppose.  But when you are actually in this room, you can tell that order reigns and she knows precisely where everything is.  Gosh, I strayed so far from the tree on this one.  I know where thing are generally, but there are a lot of things in my spaces that ought to be elsewhere and there is not any sense of peace or serenity in my office, that's for sure.

My mom absolutely loves Sergei.  I think she and I both feel that in some mysterious way, he was sent to us by my my dad,who passed away a couple of years before Sergei came.  The two of them are cut out of the same cloth.....across decades and continents, they somehow came to share many of the same unique mannerisms and interests.  When Sergei comes to help her like this, I think she feels in a way like my dad is still helping her.  It touches my heart..  And, I'm also touched by Sergei's extraordinary sensitivity to her.  I was really amazed by the thoughful and clear way he explained things.  He had to install a new operating system in order to get the printer to work, so things looked different to her....and he had the acuity to understand that the changes might be disturbing, so he patiently and gently explained every one.  Oh, so much better than I would have done.

While we were there she showed me a few things that she had temporarily taken from the security box at the bank.  I took a photo of the contents of this little box.  Yes; it makes me feel old, but when my brother and I were born, rather than ugy plastic bands with computer chips in them, babies were designated by these dear little bracelets.  Here are mine and my brother's.
Ilya's final post placement report had to be sent in this month.  For that I needed photos.  I spent a week or two feeling like a spy, as I crept about trying to get photos of the boy-who-will-not-be-photographed.  And don't ask if I explained it to him.  I did!  And he just laughed (somewhat reasonably, I must admit) when I tried to express the importance of sending the photos to Russia to show them that he was well.  "Do you think they come here to take me away?"  Trying to explain about the agency's reputation, etc., seemed futile.
So I snuck around and took photos such as these.....as I was creeping up to take this one of Sergei and Ilya, the Best Buy employee asked brightly, "Do you want the camera department, Ma'am?"  No!!!! Shhhhh!!!!  He was startled.