Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Once there was the sun...

Oh goodness, I can never write all the stuff that has happened in the last week so I'll just put the highlights which still promise to be extensive.  Monday, I got a package from my family.  There is a Ukrainian custom which our native coordinator enforces with glee which says you must dance for your letters.  So I had to make a fool of myself to get it.  But, it was worth it for the package contained hot chocolate and even better "The Adventures of Styopa, Vanya, and Sasha", a book written about my host family's adventures in Texas.  I took it home that evening and showed it to Vanya and Styopa.  We were looking at it when Sasha got home, Vanya called to her and explained the story to her in Russian and then we finished going through it.  Then I started translating it into Russian.  Vanya has decided I am the human dictionary so as I was working on translating the book, he was working on his English homework.  He would come ask me to translate words.  Sasha was getting really frustrated with us as I was dancing around the room trying to explain 'the way'.    She said, "Ваня!!!  Здесь словарь, делать уроки!"  (Vanya!!!  Here is the dictionary!  Now do your homework!).  
Tuesday, Natasha and Styopa were listening to music in the kitchen while I was working on my lessons (little cardboard dancing men).  Styopa would sing "LET MY PEOPLE GO!!!" at the top of his lungs.   Turns out none of his family actually knew what the song was about or even what that meant so it was good that it wasn't a bad word.  I found it very amusing.
Wednesday, I bought a Russian fairy tale book of Pushkin's skazki.  It is gorgeous.  I finished making my men and they debuted in my class in an awesome way for Parent's Day.  Then for maintenance I introduced vocab words and I have agreed that for every word they learn in English, I will learn in Russian.  
Thursday, I took the metro to Lukianivska where I always smell something delicious on Sundays.  So I wandered the market and then ordered a gyro with cheese.  It was really crazy Russian fast food.  There was a guy taking orders and making all the stuff at the same time.  He cut the meat off this huge hung thing on a stick and caught it in a dust pan, threw it in a flat bread with sauce, cabbage, and other stuff and then threw it on the grill for 5 minutes.  It was everything I dreamed it would be.  Oh yeah, and it snowed and was gorgeous.  And I got to enjoy it because I jumped on the red line (not my usual green) and road it out to the end.  The red line on the left bank is above ground because it is newer so it wasn't built to be a WWII bomb shelter so I could actually see stuff.  That night, the dedushka came over and yelled at me for writing on my lap.  Finally he dragged a stool in and made me write on that.  He's so cute.  We just found out he was an officer in the Soviet Army and he showed Megan his old pictures.  I really want to see them.  
Friday, I watched Russian comedy like DI.  They had lots of amazing ideas I wished I could use.  I miss DI.  And I learned a new phrase in Russian.  I'd heard Natasha say it a couple of times and then all of a sudden Sasha said it.  So I asked her, "What does 'yolgi polgi' mean?"  She laughed and said word for word it is fir tree branches but it's like 'oh my goodness'.  So that's one of my new favorite Russian phrases.
Saturday, I painted postcards and listened to Sasha read the Little Humpbacked Pony to Styopa which was incredible because it's all in verse and it included another of my favorite Russian words in the name of the main character "Иван дурак" (Ivan the Fool).  It's so awesome to listen to Russian fairy tales in Russian.  Then Sasha and I watched Brother Bear.  The best part for me because it was absolutely ridiculous was part where all the bears are sitting around telling stories and there is a Russian bear.  He mumbles something that is supposed to sound like Russian, but next to the actual Russian of the dubbing it just sounded ridiculous.  Americans really don't understand Russian at all.  Anyways, that evening, I went to Палац Украина (palace of Ukraine, it's a big concert hall thing) to see Ukrainian folk dancing.  It was incredible!!!!!!!!  It was interesting to see that Ukraine (despite most appearances) is not completely heterogeneous.  they had distinctly different Russian, Turkish, German, and Gypsy dances.  I decided that it may be true that most white people don't know how to dance (the German dances were kind of boring) but Slavic people are a total exception.  The guys at least really really really know how to dance.  It looks so cool and fun.  And it's crazy because while the kids in my classes can't do it as well as the professionals, they all can do those amazing traditional kicks and stuff.  Think the dancing tavern from "To Life" in 'Fiddler on the Roof'.  Maybe it's some kind of Popeye thing, if you eat a diet of pure cabbage, you are gifted with incredible dance moves.
Sunday, Megan was sick so I had to go to church by myself.  the subway broke between the last two stops.   I was alone in the car and had no idea what was happening and being so far underground I didn't even have cell phone service.  It was  very scary.  Fortunately it only took 7 minutes to start back up (yes, I was timing).  So when I got off I couldn't remember what маршука to take.  I started to freak out and said a little prayer.  I looked up to realize the people I was following were all carrying scripture cases.  I have never been so relieved to see scriptures in my life.  That evening I went to a fireside about personal histories given by the missionaries which are here writing the history of the church in Ukraine.  Did you know the first missionaries came in 1991, like a month after Ukraine declared it's independence from the Soviet Union?  They were really fast.  In 1998 the temple was announced though it took another 9 years until they were able to break ground but it's going to be finished next year!  The only unfortunately thing is that in a city with some of the most incredibly beautiful churches in the world, our temple is pretty ugly.  Anyways, it was really cool because it was given in English and then translated into Russian so I could kind of follow.  Then I went home and got to try my first salo (raw pig fat, the reason Ukraine and Russia are not now Jewish, Prince Vladimir just couldn't give it up).  It was in a soup made by the dedushka which was good though I don't really want to know what else was in it and I didn't really enjoy the texture of the salo.  I talked to Sasha about her grandpa and the end of winter festival next sunday where they are going to go into the forest burn winter in effigy and eat millions of blini (I'm trying to figure out how to get an invite).  Then I got to try some Торт which translates as cake but it's more like layers of pavlova or merange with hazelnut spread between them and choclate icing.  It was way good and I want to see if I can figure out how to replicate it because I don't think one would make it home but it is very traditional of Kiev.
Monday was Men's Day and Veteran's Day.  I gave Vanya some Harry Potter Uno cards because they don't have Uno here but they all love it and he loves Harry Potter.  I gave Volodya a card I made with a mug.  It seemed to make him happy though nothing could touch how happy I'd made Vanya and Sasha with my gift.  It was really fun to play Uno with them and eat pickle, kielbasa, and ketchup pizza that their mom had made.  We played in a mixture of Russian and English and was funny to follow.  We were using enough English that their mom wouldn't send them to do their homework because they were 'practicing their English' but we were really playing in Russian.  Then, Sasha and Vanya started telling each others futures with the cards.  It was hilarious.  Apparently I'm going to marry Снег sounds like 'Sneg'--Snape in English.  I want to teach them the Kings game but by this time our games had devolved into just Russian and their mom made them do their lessons. Oh yeah, and this day was the day I started writing this post.  Hence the title is because it was so sunny it was gorgeous because it had been snowing for the last 4 days or whatever and the air was full of microscopic water crystals so the world literally sparkled.  Everyone (and I really mean everyone) was smiling because it was so beautiful.  Unfortunately the title for this post was prefigurative for once again 'winter has killed everything' so it was only a brief moment but I made the most of it.  
Tuesday was uneventful actually.  I worked on lessons.  I was making myself Milo and poured the milk into a cup and Megan thought I was pouring myself a cup of сметана (sour cream).  She freaked out and was very relieved when she realized I was not that far gone yet.  She'd been starting to consider how to drag me forcibly onto a plane back to America before I went totally crazy and Ukrainian (though I don't think even they drink the stuff).  All the teachers think I'm a little weird because I have stewed cabbage and sour cream for lunch like every other day.  Taylor (one of the other teachers) was sick so we had to do some improvising.  So I taught the old kids for an hour and a half.  We made bread pudding which was fun.  The coordinator was aghast that I was going to feed it to the kids when she saw the mixture.  She asked her son, Ivan (who is 6 so he's not in the class), "Ты хочешь кушать?" (you want to eat it?).   He shook his head in a big way.  He's so cute, all the girls have a crush on him and I can't blame him.  He's adorable.  He always tries to stop me from leaving the school and yesterday he gave me a picture of a cat and a tree.  Then I played with Styopa at home and discovered I have actually learned to roll my р almost like Natasha when I say 'рыба' (fish).   
This morning, I ate blini with sour cream and jam (my favorite way) and played with Styopa.  We built 'красивый замок' (a beautiful castle) as Natasha called it.  And we made all the animals which lived in the castle drink tea.  Styopa would pour and I would bring the animals to drink.  All the animals made Russian walking sounds; I have been so tainted by this experience!  And then  we made a picture of everyone eating.  Стьопа, мама, папа, Ваня, Аннилин, и Саша кушают кашу и пьют чай в кухне где лампа и окно. (Styopa, mama, papa, Vanya, Annilyn, and Sasha eat kasha and drink tea in the kitchen where there is a lamp and a window.)  Oh, yeah Styopa is learning my name.  Currently, it sounds something like Annannnininininnninninininin!!!!  It's adorable though doesn't always get my attention the way he wants.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Okay, so life is here is just starting to feel normal.  Wednesday, I had a normal moment went I was crammed on the marshuka (little bus) so tight you can stay standing even when the bus dodges between the cars on the street because there is no room to fall over.  (Personal bubbles do not exist in Ukraine.)  And since there isn't any room to go up to the front of the bus and they don't want to waste time paying the driver and then finding a spot, you go to your spot and then pass the money up.  People here are very honest and helpful to each other in that way and the bus drivers are extremely talented being able to swerve through traffic and listen for when people want to get off and see when people want to get on and give some one 48 grivna in change (all in 2 grivna notes) when they pay with a 50.  It's no wonder every bus has an icon of the saint of transportation affixed to the front of the bus.  So anyways, I was standing in the middle of the bus and people kept passing me money and telling me how many tickets it was for and then I would pass the money back.  And after five minutes I realized, "this should feel really weird...but it doesn't"  and then I felt weird.
Thursday, morning, I had to cancel my excursion because I was so stressed out about my holy terror class.  So Megan and I were really depressed as me walked to school.  Then we passed the little bakery stand that always has these donuts out tanting me.  And that day I just couldn't take it so I made Megan stop and I asked for two.  They were delicious.  They had jam inside.  And they only cost like 13 cents.  Which means I could get a dozen for like a $1.50.  That evening, I went to Russian lessons put on by someone in our ward.  We were running a bit early so we headed over to get some dinner.  We got these Kievite Corndogs.  They are hot dogs inside scones, they are quite delicious.  A bit of grochitsa (mustard) would have made them perfect.  When I got home, there was someone trying to get in the building but they couldn't figure it out.  So I buzzed up and Natasha opened the door.  I got into the elevator and they followed me but didn't push a floor button.  I got out on my floor and they followed.  I walked over to my apartment door, starting to be way creeped out and they followed me again.  After I rang the doorbell, they asked if I was going to visit Natasha,  I said yes and they laughed and said we are too.  Aparrently, one of the ladies is staying with us now.  I'm not really sure who she is or if it's permenant.   I feel really bad because she's sleeping on the floor but if she's here for good, I'm not giving up my bed.
Friday, I went to president Hyde's for game night and ate  burritos.  Yum!  Unfortunately, we got lost on the way and wandered around in the slush.  It was kind of nasty.  When I got home, I sat down for tea and Masha (mystery woman) sat on the end of the table.  She and Natasha talked straight until 12 without pause so I was stuck there listening to them but only understanding a couple of words (they were discussing something about Natasha's Down's Syndrome organization.
Saturday, I got up and was reading when Vanya came in.  He showed me this way cool book about legends.  Then he showed me his piratetology book.  He had decoded this message, but it had come out in English because the publishers hadn't bothered to translate it.  So he didn't understand it.  So we translated about half of it together then his mom called him so I finished it.  He's such a funny kid.  Now that I've been his teacher he likes talking to me so it's way fun.  All day Saturday, he was getting in trouble for talking to me when his mom needed him.  For breakfast we had candied french toast!  DELICIOUS!  Then I went to the store and got a box of chocolates for my host family for Valentines and my one month anniversary.  I also got a loaf of bread and some honey tea.  I love the bread here.  It's so good and cheap.  
I read before I came that bread is practically worshiped as the giver of life in Ukraine...I am considering joining the cult while I am here.  (I am currently munching on loaf...yum yum yum).  Bread, honey, and irradiated milk...my favorite simple things here.  You know what sounds really good...bread with honey on it with a glass of warm milk...I might have to go get some milk when I finish this.  In case you are not so fortunate as to be familiar about what is so awesome about such simple foods.  In Ukraine (in most of Europe) milk is super processed so it doesn't need to be refridgerated and it has this slightly different taste that I love, every one else thinks I'm crazy but I like it better than American milk.  Then the honey (which I kind of worship at home anyways) is slightly grainy and bright yellow...like neon...and they let you eat it by the spoonful!  Now if only those darned homeland security people hadn't confiscated my peanut butter I'd be set with pb&h sandwiches.  Peanut butter is one of the things I really miss.
Alright, sorry for the wanderings of my mind...back to Saturday.  I went home and Sasha's godmother was there having tea.  Vanya came and met me at the door and told me to say "Privet!" to them because he had concocted this grand scheme where they would never realize that I didn't speak Russian.  I think my accent ruined his plan but he was sure that it was working until his mom explained who I was.  Then Styopa went down for a nap and Sasha and I pealed beets and potatoes and carrots for dinner.  We had a fantastic dinner for her birthday.  We had stuffed peppers (pickled peppers), kielbasa (not like you're thinking...like a hot dog only fat), calat iz kapusti (cabbage, egg, mayonaise, and who knows whatelse), calat iz kielbasi (potato, egg, kielbasa, peas, mayonaise), plof (a rice pilaf thing), and salted fish (it looks beautiful like a dessert but DON'T take a big spoonful!  It's raw fish covered in potatoes and beets and it's a little hard to swallow).  After dinner, I gave Sasha her present.  I'd given her Hound of the Baskervilles because it was one of the few books I could find that I knew what it was and had actually read.  Her mom was really excited and said it was a good book.  I also made her a book mark and a CD of English folk songs like Lord of the Rings stuff.  And I painted her wrapping paper with fairies.  She put it up on her wall which made me happy.  Then we had chocolates, tea, and cake (like coffee cake with berries and apples and stuff in it but no spices).  Everyone came over so we had like 17 people in our kitchen...crazy!  I drew Volodya.  Vanya saw so when his dad went to bed he snuck into his spot and combed his hair and made cute faces at me until I drew him.  It was hard though because the kid does not hold still.  Finally, I went to bed.  
Sunday, I went to church.  Taught nursery.  I taught about the loaves and the fishes and used little duck crackers.  It was fun.  Then I went to the Muller's (they are true saints letting us invade their apartment every Sunday).  Then I went to Megans.  We made brownies for her host family. They asked us if it was a traditional American food.  I guess it is...brownies from a box...pretty American.  I also talked to Anna about how to help the kids.  She gave me some good ideas and some books.  Sadly she said her really good books are all in German.  Then I called my family to talk to Erin because.  SHE GOT INTO BYU!!!!!!! Next year is going to be amazing.  
Monday morning, Megan and I went to the store.  I got my bread and a thing of honey.  Then we went dumpster diving for things for shop.  It was awesome.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Wednesday, I went home with Misha and Vanya.  It had snowed that morning.  Vanya and Misha had gone out first so as I came around the corner I scooped up a handful of snow.  They'd had the exact same idea...so a half hour snowball fight ensued.  Misha came home with us and asked me to play darts with him.  I whooped him (140 to 20) in 3 turns so he quit playing.  He asked me why I never played games with Vanya and I said "Because Vanya always has to do his homework."  He said that wasn't true so I sat down with Vanya and started playing chess.  3 minutes into the game, we hear, "Ваня, ты должен делать уроки!" (Banya, you have to do your homework!)  I gave Misha a very meaningful look.  
Thursday, I found out I was switching to Elementary which is going to be a pain.  And they have been teaching them all wrong.  So it's going to be a big big pain.  Megan and I went to the store and bought пломбыр (really creamy ice cream) to drown our sorrows in.  
Friday, I worked on lesson plans all morning.  I got to talk to my family!!!!  That was the biggest excitement of the day.  That night, I ate some delicious potatoes with mushrooms and kapoosta and I talked to my host mom about whether or not I will stay with them after the baby comes in March.  After that we had a full out tea with break and jam, chocolate, and lemons in sugar (my favorite teeth rotter).  I worked on my talk for sunday.
Saturday, I worked on lessons, talk, Russian, and made postcards (they don't actually have them for sale here).  Then I got to eat varenki (like pirogies) with farmer's cheese in them.  They were divine!!!  I have to figure out if they are possible to make in the US.  Later, Megan called and asked if I could come over and play games.  We played some Russian game with him only kind of explaining the rules.  Then we taught him Egyptian Ratscrew and Vanya came over and played with us.  Then we played Chinese checkers.  I totally creamed Vanya, making up for his winning at Chess.  Then the babooska fed us omlettes with potatoes and sour cream.  Then Megan and I recorded English listening excersizes.  I got to be Harrison Ford and use my manly voice.  I laughed really hard at all the mistranslations in our dialogue and wondered if my Russian book is the same.  
About this time, the dedooshka walked in and said, "Добрый вечер!"(good evening)  So I said,  "Добрый вечер!'  He looked at me in amazement and said "Ты говоришь по русски?" (You speak Russian?)  I answered "Только немношко."(Only a little) and he started going off about how I was amazing and Megan didn't know any Russian and it was really frustrating and I started to get really lost.  He showed me his fish he was pickling and told me that he was going to go put it out on the balcony and tomorrow it would be delicious.  And I started to be really afraid for Megan.  So anyways, now I have a old Russian man for a friend.
The next morning, I was so worried about over sleeping I was waking up all the time.  Finally at 6 I let myself wake up and work on finishing writing out my talk.  Then I started to get ready for church and Styopa woke up and came in.  When I was ready to go, he decided to help me get dressed.  He passed me my scarf.  I said, "Спасибо, что ещё нужно?"(thank you what else do I need?).  He pointed at my hat. "Шлапа?" (hat)  "Да."  I put on my hat and said "Ах, хорошо." (Very good).  Then he pointed to my scriptures. "Ой, сумка?" (oh, my bag?).  I got him to help me lift it.  Then I actually went to leave and he was way mad.  Megan and I got on the metro and there was almost no one else on.  By the time we got to the second to last stop, the last man got off.  I looked up to the next car and there was no one in there.  I looked back to the car behind and there was no one.  I whispered to Megan, "We are the only ones around."  She was kind of sleeping.  So I got up and ran from one end of the car to the other and spun around in circles and made a complete fool of myself.   It was awesome.  Then we got to church, I was called as a Primary Worker.  Then I did a miserable job giving my talk.  You'd think I would have gotten better but I'm afraid not.  Then I found out I'm really the nursery leader.  So I went to nursery.   After church I went to the Muller's for Hawaiian haystacks and chocolate chip cookies.  Yum American food.  Calvin asked me to play chess with him.  We played two games.  The first I beat him really quickly.  The second he was in check almost the entire time but I just didn't have the heart to tell him so we played down until he had just his king and I had my king, queen, and two pawns and were at a stale mate.  It was really cute.  Then I went home and had soup with bread crumbs (one of my favorite meals here).  Natasha played the piano, and I danced with Styopa.  Then I was reading a book with him and he peed on me, darn little kid.  Because I had been so nervous, I went to bed really early and I felt kind of bad, but I think I paid my dues been peed on again.  
Monday, Audrey (one of the morning teachers) got sick so I taught allllllllll day long!!!!  Ugh.  I taught elementary too.  UGH UGH UGH!!!!!  We will have to see if I can survive them.
Tuesday was fun.  I stressed out all morning about Elementary.  Taught.  And then went to Romeo and Juliette, the ballet.  Tickets were $1.25...for the Russian ballet...in the most amazing theatre...it's like the best ballet in the world and I only paid a dollar twenty five!  To think I used to get excited over $2 tickets at BYU.   I sat in a different seat every act though (we should have bit the bullet and paid the $3 for the really good seats).  Though it was kind of fun to move around.  And my last seat was actually really really good.  When I got home, my family was kind of ticked off because it was 10:45 and they usually go to sleep at 10:30 so Sasha and Vanya had had to stay up.  Vanya gave me a look that was berating but also one of the most adorable things I've ever seen.  He is so cute.  He showed me where the left overs were for my dinner.  I heated them up and had a very Ukrainian moment when he handed me the ketchup and I thought, "I don't want this, where's the sour cream?"  Sadly, we are out of sour cream so my Ukrainian condiment urge had to go unfulfilled.  

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Monday, was nasty nasty cold.  I felt totally happily miserable...because that's how you're supposed to feel when your in Eastern Europe.   So I walked around in my head scarf feeling miserable and giggling about it.  Yes, I am crazy.  
Tuesday, I woke up and everyone was gone.  So I had the whole apartment to myself.  I decided this was the perfect opportunity to practice my vocab lists for Russian because no one was around to laugh at me.  So I sat in the kitchen saying Russian words to myself over and over and over again.  I learned 60 new words.  Then I went to school and taught the kids about Groundhog's day.  The 'h' is very hard for them to say so most ended up saying 'groundpog' some even started calling it a 'groundpa' and got themselves really really confused.  But most of them thought it was a bear though I tried to explain it was like a rabbit.  Igor was really funny because we were talking about how groundhogs live in the ground like rabbits and he said "Rabbits no live in the ground.  Rabbits live in water."  I think he thought it was a frog.  So we started having this big fight over where rabbits live.  Finally I drew a rabbit and he consented that they live in the ground.  That night, Natasha and Styopa were both gone, and while their mom was away, Vanya and Sasha were partying.  They played music really loud.  And Sasha sat and talked with me the whole time I ate dinner which was really long since I'd been given a huge plate.  We talked about all sorts of stuff.  She has to memorize an English poem for class (Rudyard Kipling...I'm glad they aren't that mean to us...) so I helped her with that which was really fun.  Oh yeah I forgot to describe our adventures that morning...
Megan and I needed to get money to pay for our trip so we went to try to find an ATM.  Anna (Megan's host mom) said there were 3 behind my house so we went there.  The first one didn't actually have any money in it.  The second one had this totally scary guy with a gun in front of it and I just wanted to run but Megan said let's try it.  So we walked up there...the dude moved his gun and said something in Russian...and we ran away.  The third one was being serviced.  Finally we went to the grocery store (gastronom) and found one.  While we were there, I got a lion bar (delicious) and a bread cake thing shaped like a rooster (very Ukrainian...not so delicious).  Then we started looking for places to get Euros.  There are 1000 money changing stations in our area...none of them had Euros...I don't know what they are actually used for but it's not money changing.  But I got really good at asking "У вас есть юро?"
Anyways, today...I went to the art museum that is free the first Wednesday of the month.  It was way cool  They had some serious names and a huge exhibit on Eastern art with some way cool Muslim paintings of people.  Probably my favorite was the Winter Scene by Pieter Brugel the Elder's studio.  Then I taught.  In one class we had extra time so we made a card for Megan who is sick today.  They were way cute because they were so excited to write the letters even though most of them didn't know how they looked.  It's a way cute card.  Well, that's the story from Kiev.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Weekend of Adventures

So life was beautiful on Friday.  I played with Styopa...got peed on.  Did I say life was beautiful?  Beautiful and real and stinky sometimes.  I actually didn't notice until he started saying "Писал..писал...".  
I thought "Wait, I know what that means I think...it's to write when you put the emphasis on wrong...OH NO!  "Стьопа, ты писал?"
Smiling in a silly way and sticking his tongue out he said, "Да."  
Okay, let's figure out where.  "Где ты писал?  На полу...на деване...на мене!" (where did you pee?  on the floor...on the couch...on me!)
Which yielded another very silly "Да."  
So I got myself cleaned up and then left early for school.  I stopped at the grocery store and picked up some juice, milk, and two treats.  One was this chocolate piece of heaven called "Сонет" that was like a cross between fudge and brownies and mille feuille and who knows what else.  And then I got a "Сказки на яйке" (fairytale in an egg) which is like a kinder egg (chocolate egg) with a Russian fairytale character in it.  I got the tsar!  I was so happy, that I had absolutely no Russian face and everyone was staring at the crazy grown up who was smiling at the child's treat.  But it was worth it.
Class went really well.  I made paper boxes with the kids.  The greatest moment of triumph was when Olisia tried to give Ivan a candy and he just turned to me and said, "What I do?"  I was like "YES!!!  I am more interesting than the distraction!"  But I talked so much that we didn't finish the boxes in any class so all the kids were a little mad with me.  
After school, Cassidy and I went to President Hyde's house for game night.  On the way we saw a fire dancer in front of the Golden Gate which was way way way cool (look for a video on facebook to be forthcoming).  There, we played Apples to Apples.  I left early to get home before everyone went to bed because it's a long ways back to Kharkivska (my beloved stop) on the metro and then I still had to walk home.
Saturday, I got up late with the rest of my family.  I ate breakfast.  Drew a picture of onion domes.  Then it was time to go.  Megan and I met early at our accustomed meeting place (by the Soviet tank in the park).  We went and found a place for Megan to put grivna on her phone and then went to Palatz Sportu for blini!!!  Я люблю блини!  We both got блин с джемом.  Yum yum yum.  Then I bought a head scarf at a stall in the metro.  It's beautiful and I love it.  Then we rode the metro over to Arsenalna and met everyone else and went to Lavra.  It's this really amazing cave monestary which is kind of like the Vatican of Orthodoxy.  It's the place where the history of the Slavs was written so it's a really really really important place to all slavic speaking people.  We all had to cover our heads and where special skirt things to be able to go in.  And we had to get candles because it's really dark.  It's not a place I'd suggest for anyone who's claustraphobic but it is way cool.  There are all these really famous dudes mumified (naturally, it's the magic of the caves).  I even got to see Ilya Muromets...he's not as big as the fairytales say.  Then we went around through the area looking at different churches.  It's gorgeous, all the golden domes and icon frescos, just amazing.  
We were getting the beginning of the cold front so we went to this museum that was a surreal experience.  It was an old Soviet exhibit (complete with the framed picture of Lenin enshrined on the wall.) of incredibly small art.  Apparently there was this artist that liked designing things at impossibly small sizes.  There was a chess board on the end of a pin.  A camel caravan with a palm tree inside the hole of a needle.  The world smallest book (of Taras Shverchenkos poems, of course, this is Ukraine).  And a gazzilion other things all small enough that there was no way to see them except through a microscope.  So you walked around the edges of this room in a line looking through these microscopes at these things hoping and praying that you wouldn't get pink eye and if you took too long looking at one of them the 5 minute lady would come by and yell at you in Russian about how everyone needed a chance.  It was crazy.
After that, we listened to the bells calling everyone to services and then went to the refectory cathedral to watch the service.  It was amazing.  The churches (the ones that are still used) all smell of honey and spices from the candles so it's nice just to walk in.   And they turned off the lights so the icons all glowed.  Those big Byzantine faces of Christ are really incredible in the candlelight because of all the gold.  And then there was all the singing between the priest and the monk choir and then the regular choir.  It was incredible.  I really need to study up on how the services work because aside from being amazed, I couldn't understand anything.
After that, we were all really hungry so we headed back to Khreshadik to Pazata Khata for dinner.  I love that place so much.  This time I had fried potatoes, cabbage, cake, and cabbage varenki (pirogies).  My greatest moment was ordering the varenki because Tanya (our native coordinator) was helping everyone get what they wanted and she asked if I knew what I wanted and offered to help me but I said "No I can do it."  She gave me a look like "yeah, right" which I'm sure after dealing with the 12 kids before me was entirely merited.  But I went up and said "Веренки с капусту".  The lady behind the counter asked me if I wanted sour cream and Tanya went to translate but I said "Да, с сметану, пожалуйста" before she could.  She was amazed and I was very happy.  The food was delicious and again only cost 3 dollars for a feast.  After that, I went home.
The next morning I got up early to go to church.  I had left my hat at the school on Friday and it was nasty cold so I was decked out in my headscarf like one of the little babushki headed off to church.  I felt very Eastern European, though I think I got more stares than ever because young people don't go to church here.  Church was great.  I helped in Nursery for the 3rd hour.   It was weird to be with English speaking children.  After church we went to the Muller's house for spaghetti and had a great time there.  They are so nice to let us all hang out together at their house and to feed us.  After that, I went home and took a shower!!!  Number 6 since being here!!!!!  It's sad that I still can keep count.  Then I talked to Vanya and played with Styopa though I was a little wary of letting him sit on my lap.  Then I had tea and tried these little sausage and dill bun things that were really good.  Volodya (yes, that is my host dad's name!!!!!!!!) invited me to go running with him Monday morning.  I was way excited.
Unfortunately, I forgot to charge my phone and so it died in the night and the alarm didn't go off so I woke up 15 minutes too late.  I was so bummed though I was kind of terrified of going with him since I don't really run and I'm pretty sure he is intense.  But it would have been way fun.  Fortunately he got back before I left for school so I was able to kind of explain to him what had happened.  I learned the word for alarm clock just for the occasion.  
I have learned quite a few random words being here.  First off кушать (kooshet) to come eat is said to me all the time and said to Styopa even more so I now know how to conjugate it in every form.  на станофки (na stanofki) is at the bus stop...it's what you should say if you want the bus to stop...Megan and I learned this after we had an adventure with a bus that didn't stop at our stop.  блин (blin) like the crepe things is actually a mild swear word like shoot or dang it it took all the teachers a long time to figure out how serious a swear word it was because the first person that tried to explain it to us compared it to some really really bad words so we were all terrified to talk about pancakes but it's not that bad.
Well, I think that is enough for now...woah I wrote a lot.  And I included paragraph breaks this time.  I won't always because when I write it and paste it in later the computer eats them but I will try.