Monday, November 9, 2009

Halloween Costume

So for halloween I was Yelena Prikrassnaya from the Russian fairytale the Firebird. My costume was made from a sheet I got at a DI. I borrowed a sewing machine and sewed it. It's based on the traditional Russian sarafan. It went together really quickly so it's not that great--example...the hem. But oh well. Then I embroidered firebirdish things on the front. I think they're pretty cool though the silver thread was a pain to use. Then I sewed ribbon on the straps. The crown (kokoshnik) was made out of craft foam and bead that I sewed on with the wire I took out of the ribbon. Total cost of my costume...$5...and I look oh so cool!

Cabbage Magic!!!!

Have you ever wished you could make magic color-changing potions like Harry Potter? Well, now you can with one magical vegetable—cabbage. We’ve likely all turned up our nose at this vegetable in our food. It’s the star ingredient in dishes from coleslaw to sauerkraut and kimchi to cabbage rolls. In fact, cabbage was one of the first plants cultivated by humans beginning in Greece and Italy. Conquering Roman armies believed cabbage could cure wounds, so they took cabbage with them as medicine as they marched across Europe and Asia.

Wherever cabbage spread, people came up with legends and myths about the cabbage. Greeks believed that cabbages sprung from the tears of a king who killed his son. Scottish people believed that on Halloween a girl should pick the first cabbage she saw; the shape of its root would tell her what her future husband would look like. Germans said it was impolite to talk about cabbages while looking at the moon because the man in the moon was put there for stealing cabbage on Christmas Eve. Everyone believed that somehow or other cabbage was a magical plant.

And now you can try your own hand at cabbage magic. First, collect your materials: five see-through glasses, measuring spoons, some powder laundry detergent, baking soda, vinegar and most importantly—cabbage.

But you’ve got to make sure you get the right type of cabbage. There are hundreds of types of cabbage from the tall, Chinese bok choy to the tiny, little Brussels Sprout. Our potion calls for the red variety. Red cabbage is a tight, ball of purple leaves a bit smaller than a volleyball.

Take a few leaves and rip them up into pieces. Put them in a clear glass or plastic cup. Make sure its clear and colorless so you will be able see the magic. Fill the cup with water like you were pouring yourself a drink. If you leave this cup for a while the water will start to turn purple as the cabbage juice seeps into the water.

But if you’re not feeling very patient and want to see something truly amazing, put the cup in the microwave for a couple minutes. Be careful; when it comes out the water will be very hot and purple. There are chemicals in the cabbage called anthocyanins that give red cabbage its purple color. When the water is heated, theses chemicals that make the cabbage purple are released into the water, turning the water purple. But if the water is purple what color is the cabbage? If you leave the cabbage to soak, after about an hour, you’ll see that the edges of your cabbage pieces turn a ghostly blue-grey as the anthocyanins sneak out into the water. If you left it all day long, you’d have ghost cabbage.

Now that you have your cabbage juice, pour a half-cup of water into each of the other four cups. Into the first cup, mix two tablespoons vinegar. To the next one, add ½ tablespoon baking soda. Put a tablespoon of powder laundry detergent in the third. Make sure you wash the spoon in between each measurement! Leave the last glass as a control. The control will show you what the mixture would look like if you just added the cabbage solution to regular water, so you can get a good scientific comparison. Mix the solutions until the additions are mostly dissolved.

Add two tablespoons cabbage juice to each cup. You will notice that each one changes a different color. Wow, you’re a real wizard! Want to know how we did it? It goes back to the real potion masters of the world, chemists. Remember how I told you there was a chemical called anthocyanins in the cabbage that made it purple? Well, this chemical changes color based on the pH of a solution.

What’s pH? Nearly every solution is either acidic or basic. The pH scale goes from close to 0 up to 14 and we use it to explain how acidic or basic something is. Distilled, perfectly pure, water would fall at 7 on the pH scale, meaning it is neutral, neither acid nor base. If a solution’s pH is less than 7, it is acidic; the lower the number is the more acidic it is. However, if a number is higher than 7 it’s a base; the higher it is the more basic it is.

Believe it or not, you have acids and bases all around you. Every time you wash you hands, you’re using a base. You can tell soap is a base, because like most basic solutions, it’s slippery. Acids on the other hand can be identified by a sour taste; lemon juice is a great example of an acid. Can you think of other acids or bases?

Our cabbage solution starts close to neutral. The laundry soap is slippery and it changes our solution to green, so bases make our cabbage solution green! Vinegar is a solution of water and a chemical called acetic acid—that’s right it’s an acid. So will it make our solution green? No, the vinegar mixture turns pink.

Now are you ready for the real magic? Take the cup containing the baking soda solution. It should be a blue color, showing that it’s slightly basic. Add your pink vinegar solution. Watch out! It fizzes and turns purple. The acidic vinegar and basic baking soda have canceled each other out and we’re back at neutral.Try adding the green solution. What do you think will happen? That’s right the whole thing turns blue-green because it’s basic again.

Don’t you wonder what other things in your house are acids and bases? What is milk? What about apple juice? Grab your witch’s hat and cabbage head and try your hand at some colorful brews.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Long live Swinewarts!!!

Alright so yesterday, we threw the most amazing birthday party that ever has been or ever will be. Let me give you a brief run down so you can all be jealous jealous jealous!!!

So it all began with our amazing owl invitations. We blew up balloons and taped ears and feet to them and drew an owl face and wings on them. Then we got fishing wire and taped them to people's porches, rang the door bell, and ran. Of course, Aimee and I were completely dressed up so as to be unrecognizable if anyone actually saw us. It was really fun.

Then Emily and I spent the last week making preparations. We planned some pretty amazing stuff. My dad built an amazing Quidditch pitch. And we gathered up some costumes.

The party started off badly. The kids didn't show up on time so we did some practice Quidditch and I was starting to freak because we'd had it planned to the minute. Finally we decided to just start. We took the kids inside and we helped them pick out a wand. We had gathered, cut, and sanded sticks into wands. My mom, who was playing the French witch assistant headmistress of Swinewarts, Eleanore La Fee, helped them pick wands to try. They took turns trying wands. On the right wand, suddenly there was a magical sound. After all the wand chooses the wizard.

Then we had them all sit down to be sorted. But this was a special year at Swinewarts for this was the year of the Biwizard Tournament. So we did the Goblet of Fire instead of the sorting hat. I lit the end of a shishkaboob thingy and then lit the goblet which was a brass amphora thing with tin foil stretched across the top and alcohol poured on top of that. It burst into beautiful big flames. Then we put the names on another skewer and passed them through the flames. They caught flame for a few seconds but didn't burn. (It's one of my new favorite magic tricks...) Then I read out which was in which class.

One group was Errius headed by the bold Australian Professor Bruce Butterbutt (he doesn't care much for formality and he really doesn't care for the name you can call him Bruce) played by my dear sister Emily.
The other group was Bolshevniki headed guessed it...ME! I was playing potions professor, Zababa Yaga, the granddaughter of the famous Baba Yaga (is not true zat she eat so many people...I sink she only eat maybe ten peoples.)

Then we went to the classes. Emily and I taught Care of Magical creatures teaching them about magical birds and making origami owls. Erin, the eccentric Professor Trilany, taught Divination reading doom and ice cream in everyone's futures. My dad, headmaster Stanley Snodgrass, taught Herbology where they planted magic corn and jelly beans. Just before Quidditch, a crop of corndogs popped up right where they had planted the corn and we ate them while mixing up some exciting potions made of Veritasirum, Dragon's Blood, Love potion, Polyjuice Potion, Mrs. Scower's Magical Mess Remover, Felix Felisis, etc. Then we played Quidditch. My team won by catching the Snitch. Then we went back to classes with Emily teaching ancient aboriginal runes. I taught my potions class in which we mixed Yozhik Juice (purple cabbage juice) with asphodel (laundry detergent) which turned bright green. Then we added juice of the erumpent horn (vinegar) and it turned pink. Then we added powdered Billywig Stingers (baking soda) and it turned blue and foamed. It was pretty cool. My mom taught Defense Against the Dark Arts where they learned how to defend from a dementor.

Then we had cake and ice cream and then the tournament began. First they got an egg. Strangely enough, they didn't figure out to crack it open very quickly. But when they did, there was a note written in code which they had to crake just as they had the egg. It lead them to the next challenge which for my team was getting a hippogriff feather. Fortunely, they had been informed that hippogriffs liked to nest under the bridge. There they found feathers and cds hung from underneath the bridge. The CD was a prophecy of where they needed to go next. My group was headed to the Quidditch pitch where they found three riddles on top of boxes. They said,
" The beginning of eternity,
The end of time and space
The beginning of every end
And the end of every place.

I am the beginning of sorrow, and then end of sickness. You cannot express happiness without me, yet I am in the midst of crosses. I am always in risk, yet never in danger. You may find me in the sun, but I am never out of darkness.

I dwell in bitterness, and accompany bliss. I evince blackness but never the light. I am found in goblets but never in a glass. I make oil boil."

Under the box was a pair of clippers and a note from Bertie Botts. We went to the bean plant where there were pods of fruit leather with jelly beans inside. Then we got a letter that sent us into the forbidden forest where we were going to decode runes. The runes went to different places where they had to make the potions to collect the foam and report back. Of course through out this whole affair, dementors kept appearing and had to be scared away. It was quite scary towards the end as it was dark and we were running through the woods.

We mixed a last few potions, downing them with toasts to Swinewarts, the teachers, and muggles before everyone went home. It was awesome.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Alright, I admit it...I'm a loser...

So, I just spent the entire day in driver's correction school. And I have one thing to say..."I AM TERRIFIED!!!!" Not because of the stories of collisions with trains in which cars were engulfed in flames. Not because of the drunk driving stories, in which every rib in a persons body was broken. Not because of all the head on collision stories that made me want to hurl my cookies.
None of these terrors even kissed the edge of the terror of meeting people who could be driving in the car next to me...
Now, truth be told, I do live in Virginia so we have an disproportionate number of rednecks represented...but my goodness, these all people are terrifying. I don't think there were more than two people in the entire class who I would trust to drive. I mean their answer to every questionable situation was lay on the horn and flip the other driver off. Does that strike you as good judgement?
Half of these people should have failed the test given at the end of the class except that the teacher told them all the questions and gave them the answers durning the course of the day and then gave them a few minutes to study prior to taking it. And with all of that you still only had to get 80% right and you could get back on the road. Some of these kids, it was the 5th offense and all they were really interested in learning from the teacher was exactly how many drinks they could have and still legally drive without getting a DUI. (For all those of you who are interested I could have 4...possibly only 3 since I am a woman who's family hasn't drunk alcohol in the last 100 years so I might have lower resistance...I found that incredibly useful since I plan to next drink....NEVER).
Now, the teacher really does deserve credit because he did teach useful information and he was actually as interesting as he could be for 8 hours (hour 4 found me slipping out the Russian notecards...but that wasn't his fault). I do feel like I could be a safer driver now that I have taken the class, but those other folk...I'm not so sure about. I really wish someone would come up to me and tell me it was really a personal class just for me and all those other people were just actors because I'm scared to drive in Virginia now...I'm absolutely terrified to drive in Utah.

С другой стороны...I miss everyone. And I really really really miss Ukraine. I'm so glad to be back with my family, but just every once in a while I think about stupid stuff like walking to school past the tank, eating kasha and cheese, or riding the metro and I just kind of want to hold my Cheburoshka doll and pretend it's Styopa. It's hard to have left a place that you loved so much and not have anyone understand. I know I talk about Ukraine way too much. I'm really sorry and I'm working on it. But I sometimes when I talk about it; I don't miss it so much.

Anyways, sorry for the diatribe/confession. I will hopefully have something better to report after I can drive again...2 more days...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I'm still alive but too busy to post anything...

So, it's not that nothing has happened in the last week...far from it.  It's just that I'm much too busy to write it all out.  I've actually fallen behind in my journal writing.  But all sorts of things have happened.  I went on a vacation to the middle of nowhere Ukraine and ate and ate and slept.  My mom came.  The world celebrated the completion of the my second decade on this Earth with particularly exciting celebrations happening in all former Soviet Republics.  I met the patriarch of the Ukrainian orthodox church.  I danced with a Ukrainian in traditional costume.  It's been amazing.  But time is short so that's all I can say.  Love you all as evidenced by the fact that I'm actually coming home from Ukraine.  Seriously if I didn't love you all so much.  I'd totally stay here with Vanya...

Thursday, April 30, 2009

I'm going to really try to keep this short.  I went home with Vayna and we had some great discussions.  Volodya was waiting for me to say something in Russian all night, but I had nothing to say sadly.
The next day, Vanya was in my room really really early (probably finishing his homework).  I turned over in my sleep and scared the living daylights out of him.  Megan and I went to Lavra to paint and we walked around the side and saw some cool new parts of it.  It was really deserted because it was so early in the day and we were in a deserted area.  We walked through this forested area and came up to this church on the corner of Lavra.  I kept thinking this is unreal.  I'm walking through a forest in Ukraine.  After a bit more exploring, we settled down to paint.  Then we heard something and we saw this procession coming with crosses, icons, and stuff.  One lady stopped and talked to me and Megan.  I couldn't understand her at first but after a minute I figured out she was saying that "Stand and follow us."  We didn't have any head scarves or skirts otherwise I think we would have gone.  Then another guy came by and said "Христос Воскрес!"  I totally blanked on the answer so I just nodded and said "Да, да."  It was totally awesome.  We had a bunch of people ask us for direction or the time so we must have looked pretty Ukrainian.  I went to the school and got a bunch of letters.  Igor, Tanya, and Larissa were all drooling over my cinnamon rolls.  Which I can't blame them for since they did smell, look, and taste amazing.  
Friday, was in Natasha's words, "Today you remember always."  It started out like anyother day, playing with Stypoa.  I went to the school and found out game night was cancelled which was really sad because I'd gotten permission for Vanya and Misha to go with me.  I played Accident de Train with Maintenance.  It went pretty well.  Then I broke the news to Misha and Vanya.  They were both bummed and suggested we just stay at the school.  So we did.  We played games, looked at Misha's music videos, and I burned my whole palm.  I call it my map to the well of souls because it really covers my whole left hand.  I kept trying to play with them despite my hand though my temper was getting short towards the end because they kept getting mad at me for being slow. when I had to play cards with one hand.  We took the bus home and it took along time so I was almost crying when we got home.  I was still trying to be though and I managed pretty well until Natasha heard I had burned my hand and asked to look at it.  She freaked out at Vanya for not making me come home right away and then she got out some cream and had me put it on.  It hurt so bad I started crying.  Vanya freaked out.  He kept saying "it's okay, it's okay."  But I think it was as much for himself as me because you could tell from his face that he was freaked to see me cry.  Then he came back a few minutes later with chocolate for me and Sasha got out my bed because I couldn't do it myself.  I stayed up and worked on my Kiev movie.  I already feel homesick for Kiev when I watch it.  I'm going to miss my family so much.  I don't think it would be so bad except that I know that when I leave, I probably won't be able to go back to see them.
I woke up the next day and Styopa wanted to play albom but I couldn't really draw with my left hand so I got to pen out and started drawing with my right hand.  Natasha came in and saw what I was doing.  She said she wanted to make me something.  She made potato pancakes that we're delicious.  Then I left and went to the train station for the biggest frustration my entire time in Kiev.  Then we went to Piragova and had a great time.  It was a gorgeous day.  When I got home I was fed constantly and Volodya instructed me on how to touch hot objects.  Then Vanya tried to convince me to stay with them until Agust and go to Egypt with them.  It was really funny because he only knows his months in Ukrainian so he had to keep running in and asking what month it was in Russian and the he'd run in and tell me.  Then we watched Soviet cartoons.  My favorite was Карлсон и Малише about a man with a propeller on his butt who was fueled by jam.  It was rather incredible.  
Sunday was stake conference which was awesome because our stake is trilingual.  So one prayer was in Russian (and I understood most of it) while the other was in Ukrainian.  Half the hymns were in Ukrainian.  And all of us we listening to english translation on the headsets.  There was actually also a group watching Russian sign language.   It was pretty amazing.  We also found out that President Ukdorf and Anderson are coming to Kiev on temple business on May 28th so I'll get to see them!  Then we went to the Mellers for dinner and I got to talk to Erin and Annie on the phone which was really really fun.  When I got home, my family told me we were going out for pizza.  Styopa in a restaurant was crazy but it was really really fun.  That night Vayna was waiting for me to watch cartoons with him but my family called so he ended up just making pathetic faces at me while I talked to them.  I asked if he wanted to talk to Emily and he said, "No!"  and ran from the room.  He was afraid she would make fun of her. 
Monday, Maintenance was my best class.  We made a movie called Criminal Graffiti starring Misha.  Then I went home and wrote in my journal while Styopa drew.  
Tuesday, Natasha tried to persuade me to stay with them until July so I could go to the моря with them.   Seeing Styopa at the sea would be awesome.  Then I made fruit pizza with the kids.  It was pretty cool.  I'm totally counting down the days of Maintenance.  I finished reading Screwtape Letters and started Til We Have Faces.  C S Lewis is the man.  
Wednesday, nothing exciting happened until the evening, then I went to Taylor's house for his birthday party.  It was really fun to see where he lived and have great Ukrainian food and hang with the Pozniki teachers.  We did some crazy things like jumping over a fire and playing round the world ping pong.  It was awesome.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

You know you need to take a shower when your scalp starts coming off in chunks...

Be prepared...I think this might be even longer than the last blog life is just so amazingly me at least.  
Last week, I AIMed Annie which was wonderful and made me super happy.  Then I came home to Styopa running out to meet me with his tights slid down around his knees...the little foolagin.  Then Vanya seranaded me on the baiyan (fancy accordian).  
The next day, we got to the school early.  It was the birthday of of one of the morning kids so we got cake, crazy bees, hazelnut candi
es, and korovki (my favorite, they are these little sweetened condensed milk candies).  The morning kids were kind of on a sugar high and this one kid named Glieb was giving Audrey a hard time by running around the table.  I was in there getting something so she asked me to help.  All I did was stand up and say "Glieb!"  He stared at me in terror and backed right into Audrey.  We had lunch and the head of ILP came to visit.  He watched me teach which was interesting since we were dying Easter eggs and it was probably the lesson I've been the most scared about all semester.  But it actually went pretty well.  The kids were totally entranced by the process because it is very different from pisanki.  With maintenance, I played Clue.  It went really well until Valera, Liza, and Sasha realized they could cheat and started showing eachother their cards.  Then Misha threw a fit and wouldn't play and convinced Vanya not to play either.  Fortunately this all happened after the guy who was watching left.  But it still was one of my better lessons with them because they were all into it and it did actually take like 55 minutes so there was only a short making stuff up period.  After school, Vanya and I fed a tiny little cat and Valera's mother gave us a ride home in their really nice car.  It was crazy because I was holding some farmer's cheese and a chicken wrapped in plastic bags in my lap.  (the next day I ate that chicken...).  It was fun because the three boys were in the back chatting it up in Russian and Misha was telling them he had gotten his yellow belt in karate and I said, "Misha, you didn't tell me that!"  He got this terrified look on his face and said, "You un
derstand me?  I am sorry."    We got home and were having dinner.  By the end it was just me and Volodya staring at eachother so I th
ought, I have to speak Russian.  So 
I said,  "Мы с Меган говорили об у кого есть самая хорошая семья в Киеве.  Я сказала у меня.  Но она сказала, это я!   У меня Зина, кто готовит за меня.  Я сказала, нет, у меня Стёпа.  И она сказала, "Да, да, ладно, у вас есть самая хорошая семья в Киеве."  You could hear Vanya and Sasha wip around in their chairs in the other room.  Sasha came running in and said, "Annilyn!  You spoke Russian!  We know you can but you do not say stories in Russian.  You say very good Russian."  After that, I 
went and took a shower.  I had to trick Styopa by telling him to go find Sima in the kitchen and then closing the door really really fast.  I could hear him scratching at the door but sometimes you have to be heartless, when you haven't had a shower in 5 days it's one of those times.  
The next day, Megan and Amanda and I went to Souvenir St.  I got some plain wooden eggs to paint and a Ukrainian family doll from the guy that sold me my laquer box.  I knew he painted the dolls himself so I asked if he would sell me some plain dolls.  He didn't have any but it showed me which kind I could get if I came back and told me the prices. I also got two rings one with a firebird and the other one says, "Господи спаси и сохрани мя" which 
means Lord, save and preserve me.  We went around St. Michael's cathedral and got kerchifs for visiting churches.  Then we went to the school.  I stayed late and pulled the membrane off the egg shells so we could make mosaics the next day.  Ten I went home and had the chicken and played with Styopa.  
Friday morning I went to the Russian art museum.  It was fascinating...probably only to 
me.  Two of my favorite pieces were a painting of a holy fool walking around barefoot in the snow and this picture of this upper class girl in European dress who was running away into the servants quarters and all the servants who are all dressed like Russians are staring at her.  It was so cool to see the weird Europeanization of Russian.  After that we went to Volodimir's cathedral.  It was incredible.  It has these frescos that are a mix of high renaissance, iconography, and art nouveau.  My favorite was the picture of Christ coming inot Jerusalem and all the people laying down their clothes.  I think it was made even more powerful by the Христос Воскрес sign in the apse.  I made deviled eggs with everyone.  They were all way wierded out by them when they saw it.  But then we made it and they said, "Okay we will try it."  And then they tried it and they all loved it.  After school, Misha and Vanya took me and Megan to see some graffiti.  It was crazy because they were telling use that there were narcomen there (men on narcotics).   On the way home, I was singing to myself and Vanya started singing the Винни Пух song.  And I said, "Yes, I'm Vinni Pookh."  He was all surprised that I knew who Binni Pookh was.  So then he told his mom and they started quizzing me on all the Soviet cartoons I knew.  So then Natasha said, "When Mattvei wakes up, go into the room and get all the cartoons and educate Annilyn in our movies."  We watched 4 different cartoons.  My favorite was Левёнок и большая Черипаха (Lion cub and the big turtle).  The song was stuck in my head all weekend. 
I got up early and ate some Deviled Eggs.  I cleaned the kitchen and left to go to the meeting.  The meeting was absolutely pointless.  But we got Reese's Peanut butter cups...the only American 
candy I miss at all.  Then we went to Souvenir St.  We met up with Eugene and talked for a while.  It was awesome.  I got a picture of him finally.  Then I picked up my dolls.  I got a ten piece one and a five piece one.  They are really cute, I'm excited to paint them.  Then I went home and (this is a story I heard later from Natasha) when he heard the phone ring Styopa who was supposed to be taking a nap said, "Nanninnin?"  Then Vanya picked up and said, "Annilyn?"  And Styopa started singing "Nannininn!"  and Natasha was like, "Tikha tikha, you are supposed to be taking a nap!"  Then I came in and it got worse.  Fortunately I was smart enough to keep quiet and he did eventually fall asleep right next to Mattvei.  It was adorable.  I played Sinbad legend of the 7 seas with Vanya.  I drew on my doll.  When Styopa woke up I showed it to him and explained who everyone was.  He took the Annilyn doll and gave it a big hug.  He was also really happy that I had drawn him eating kasha.  He would forget who it was and I would ask "Кто ест кашу?" and he would smile and say, "Ты!" and point at himself.  Then we went to the forest for shashlik.  It was fun.  We cooked hot dogs and chilled around the fire.  When we got home Natasha showed me how to make meat, пасха, and кулич.  It smelled amazing.  
Sunday, I got up early and got ready.  It was good I had the nursery less
on otherwise I wouldn't have gone to church because you could see that Natasha and Styopa were really really sad to see me go and they had fun stuff planned.  It was really neat to see all the people walking down to the church with their gorgeous baskets with the cakes and eggs and stuff.  I was really really sad when I got home because they had gone to the church and gotten their basket blessed and colored eggs without me.  But Natasha had saved some of all the food for me.  It was delicious.  Each thing was better than the one before.  I played cards with Vanya and Volodya.  It was the Russian version of Bluff.  It was really fun since we were playing in Russian.  Vanya was really afraid that I wouldn't be able to understand but I beat them the first time.  Vanya was amazed.  Volodya just told him "Vanya, she's not stupid!"  Then we went to shashlik with Megan's family.  We had chicke
n that was to die for but dedooshka told me that if he'd made the sauce himself it would have been better.  It was awesome.  We played Ukrainian baseball that is my new favorite game.  I got in trouble for throwing my egg shells away because they were holy egg shells (they were blessed by the preist that morning) and they were going to feed them to their chickens for good luck.  Apparently it was alright though because mine was a weak egg so it didn't really matter.  We went home and ate Easter food.  Vanya and I played battleship.  It was a total reenactment of the Cold War.  The Russians won.  But only by a hair.
So the next day, I woke up to Sima climbing up the side of my couch and Styopa saying "Allo!  Allo!!  Allllloooooo!"  I though, "Maybe I can ignore them and keep sleeping"  and then I thought, "Maybe that will lead to me getting peed on."  So I got up.  Then Vanya came in and wanted to play Uno (Russians and their fascination with Uno I do not understand).  Natasha got mad at him because she thought he had woken me up to play cards.  He was getting a royal telling off before he could say anything to defend himself.  Then Vanya, Sasha, and I had breakfast.  It was delicious.  I was the only one who ate the eggs because the other two don't like mayonaise...I don't either except the bread, chocolate, sour cream, mayonaise is better here.  You have to make sure to get the домажний (home) kind though not the Европейский (European) because that stuff is just like ours and is nasty.  Vanya played the Байан again for me.  Then we got all packed up and r
eady to go.  We piled in the, Vanya, Volodya, Sasha, Styopa, Natasha,  Mattviechik, all the stuff for shashlik, a guitar, a baian, Easter food, chicken food, glass bottles, and cake for the present in a little 5 person car (good thing car seats aren't needed here in Ukraine  though they wouldn't let Styopa sit up with me they told him the militzia (police) would take him away if they saw).  We went to the store and Volodya bought cheese and some ketchup.  It was funny because it was just like taking a car trip with the Schills with mommy worrying if we had everything, Daddy saying let's just get on the road, Stuart poking Aimee and Aimee squealing, and Erin shhing everyone because she was trying to work on h
omework.  I was starting to worry that maybe it would be a total let down to actually meet the Grand babushka because Megan and I have imparted to her character this magical aura and maybe she would turn out to just be a regular person and it would be sad.  But when we got there...oh my image of Baba Yaga was totally rocked because she now has Baba Tanya's image.  The woman really was incredible.  She was all shrively and tiny and hunched.  She had the classic old Ukrainian face with hairy chin and moles.  And she was wearing a rainbow kerchif, a purple spotted jacket, a yellow paisily shirt, a green plaid skirt, orange tights, and black shoes that were at least twice her size but probably fit her two hundred years ago (and the outfit only got better when she put on the camo jacket on top later because it was xолодно).  And she lived in this little house in the woods with a well (a real well that Vanya and I drew water out of with a bucket and a crank and all) and a squat dunny and a whole room full of icons.  She really liked speaking with me but she was hard to understand because she asked really hard questions.  Then she started saying things like..."The Soviets said..."  and I started to get worried.  Then she asked "Ты любишь Америку?" (you like America)  I said,  "Да."  and she made a face and Volodya said,  "Она родилса и выросла там." (Well, she was born and raised there.)  It was interesting.  I couldn't tell what she really thought of me.  I did catch that she holds America responsible for all the casinos in Ukraine.  She was saying, "In the Soviet time we did not have casinos or crime or porn 
or anything bad." (Megan's response was "Or FOOD!")  But I don't know if she never really disliked me or if I won her over when she saw me playing with Styopa but she kept trying to feed me (Vanya said if we saw her coming with more food we should climb the nearest tree and hide)  and she worried about me being to cold and fussed over my sitting on the ground (according to Ukrainian superstition I can no longer have children because I have sat on the cold ground, the old woman was going to go get me a chair to save me but Volodya told her my great grandmother was an Indian and they are adapted to this so I'd be fine)  and when I left she kissed my hand a blessed me (or maybe I misunderstood her and it was a maladiction of the worst kind).  Anyways, we had fish shashlik, tea (made on a samovar I think and I think it may have actually been tea I'm afraid), cake, and butterbrod.  It was all delicious.  We played Ukrainian baseball again.  Volodya tounced me and Vanya.  Then he said I will teach you two how to play and hit the ball but I caught it on his third turn and so I instantaneously won by getting 1000 points.  Volodya shook my hand and said Молодец.  
Here, I am going to explain this game to you so you can get an idea of what I'm talking about.  You have two sticks a really short one an a bat sized one.  You dig a small trench and lay the short stick across it.  You take the other stick and flip the short one into the air.  If they catch it they get 1
00 points and your turn is over.  Where ever it lands, the other team has to throw from and try to hit the long stick that you have now laid across the trench.  If they hit it your turn is over.  If nothing happens to end your turn, you go on to the next level which is hold the short stick in one hand and hit it with the other stick from the other hand.  If you catch it now, you get 500 points.  If you don't catch it you throw it towards the other stick and the person at bat measures how many stick lengths away it is, for every length they get 10 points.  Then the third round, you throw and hit from the same hand and measure how far it goes.  If you catch the stick on this round you get 100o points and win instantly because you play to 1000.  It is really really fun.  
I also played Fox and Rabbit with Styopa where I was the rabbit and he was the fox chasing me.  He wouldn't actually catch me though so it made the game hilarious, especially to Natasha and Baba Tanya who were watching me try to slow down so he'd catch me and him slow down so he wouldn't.  We were almost running backwards.  Then Vanya, Natasha, and I harvested birch bark that I am going to paint on.  Natasha said she made a birch bark painting when she was staying with a family in Switzerland like I am staying with them.  Then I sat on the porch and listened to Vanya play the bayan (I really really like accordian music since coming prepared when I get home).  Then we got back in the car for the ride of my life.  We spent more time on the opposite side of the line than we did on the right side because the traffic was so bad going back to Kiev and Volodya had no patience so he would go into the other lane until he saw a car coming, then he would ride the bumper of the car next to us until they scooted over enough for us to straddle the line.  Natasha was screaming "MY CHILDREN!"  at him the entire time.  
And Vanya poked me and said, "Why you like this?" and made a frowny face...he didn't understand "I am in fear for my life."  Once we got back in the city it was much better.  We drove past Church, Babin Yar, Lukianivska, St. Michaels, St. Sofia's, Lavra, and Big Mama, then across the river and home.  It was awesome.  At home, Vanya and I rematched in Battleship (American numbers and Russian letters this time)...the Americans won because the Russians lost a ship in the red tape of the Soviet system had sent it into uncharted waters.  They said it had returned and I had to bomb it too but I got no clues as to where it was.  So then they won.  But being honorable folk, they did conceed that I had really won because it was their own stupidity that lost the ship.  So we tried a high five but totally missed and ended up doing a handshake because we thought there was no way to miss on that.  Then, I took a shower!!!!!  Almost a week with out a shower, I have skills.
So Tuesday, I got up and played with Styopa (I always do, I don't know why I still bother writing that).  He tore my puppet apart and spilled my paint water everywhere.  So I wasn't all that surprised that I had a feeling of impending doom as I walked to school.  But nothing bad ended 
up happening.  I worked on stuff, went to the store for kitchen stuff and actually understood and talked to the cashier.  Then I made cinnamon roll dough with the kids.  It smelled amazing.  Megan and I walked home because it was still sunshiny and beautiful.  I got Styopa to clean his room (a miracle) and then we had a riotously good time playing tip me over.  He would say, "pаз, два, три"
 and then push me and and I'd fall over and he would laugh and laugh and laugh.  Then he climbed on me and lay down
 on my legs and I'd lie down and he'd be sitting up and then I'd sit up and he'd be lying down.  It was awesome.  Then I went and ate this fried califlower with smoked cheese.  It was amazing.  I beat Vanya's egg.  Vanya called me in and wanted me to film him on the bayan.  He was being really cute.  I don't think he finished all his homework though because he kept stopping to tell me about Ninja Turtles.  
This morning, Natasha had left the last big piece of пасха for me because I'd said I liked it.  So I had that with my breakfast.  Styopa's teacher came and Mattvei was sleeping and Natasha fell asleep on the ironing board.  I felt so bad for her.  I did all the dishes.  Styopa's teacher left and
 he came and found me.  He dragged me into the kitchen to watch him eat.  Natasha wrote out the recipes for the Easter food for me in very nice Russian print so I'd actually be able to read it.  And I actually did understand it which was excellent.  Then Megan and I took Styopa outside to play at the park.  He was excited out of his head when Natasha told him.  We fed pigeons and played in the песочик (sand).  He loved it.  He was really sad though when we said we had to go to school.