Monday, March 30, 2009

Eastern and Central Europe in a week

So I just got back from our crazy week long tour of is the story though I'm going to have to do it in parts because it's a really long story.
It all began on Friday when I decided that Я люблю семью Жданов!  Меgan brought over her gift for the baby, a hat for the baby and a hat for Styopa she had crocheted.  We played with Styopa, he was being his adorable self.  Then we went to the пошта where the lady was actually helpful.  Then we went to school.  I made towers, DI style with spaghetti and cups and toothpicks with the kids.  I played Who am I with Maintenance and they thought it was pretty funny.  I got to trot out all of my Russian pop culture knowledge as I made up the names.  Misha was Вини Пух, Vanya was Чебурашка, Liza was Ранетки, and Valera was Taylor (their other teacher).  When we went home, Vanya annouced with glee that it was каникули! (Vacation). So he and Sasha were all excited we discussed baby names, looked at a magazine, translated a book of sayingings and had Styopa wet his pants and sit on me like 4 times.  It came time for dinner and we didn't have anything to eat because Volodya is in charge of buying food so Natasha won't have to and the man only eats apples and peanuts so he's not the best at shopping.  So we found a bag of a couple frozen plemeni and all got an apple.  We were still starving when we finished so I got out my crackers from school and we had a snack as we watched Jane Eyre in Russian.  I fell asleep in the middle because it was such hard work to listen to the Russian.  It really was a great night.  I was kind of really sad that I would be leaving the next day. 
So the next day I got up and packed and played with Styopa. We made up two new games Кастор (fire, but it sounds much more menacing in Russian).  First we had to use a two man saw of hands to saw the wood and then we had to chop it and then built the fire and lit it, blew it, and then we cooked the shashlik.  The other game was What animal am I?  Styopa or I would name an animal and I would pretend to be a лошадь, лягушка, слонь or белка.  I was impressed at my own knowledge of animals in Russian...all thanks to Styopa I think.  So then we had breakfast, oladi made of everything but flour because we didn't have any...I'm not sure Volodya doing the shopping is making anything easier.  So then I played with Styopa and then I had to go.  I got up to go and Natasha called everyone together.  Vanya said, "Sit down!"  So I sat kind of awkwardly in the entry way.  I tried to ask, "What are we...?"  but only got the response, "DON'T TALK."  (It's a Ukrainian tradition to have a moment of silence before a journey.)  After that I left and went to the Фора for supplies and then I went and met Megan.  It didn't feel real.  We lugged our чемоданы в вокзал на метро. It was not fun.  And we got there really early but we met up with Amanda and Audrey so we all went to McDonald's for some last warm food and a bathroom.  Then they gave us out our ticket in groups.  Megan and I were supposed to be together.  But when we got on the train, not only were none of the groups actually together but one girl was by herself in a room of random Ukrainians.  She was freaked and wanted to be with her friends in my cabin so I agreed to switch...and those who are kind and charitable like me are blessed, that train ride was one of my favorite things on the trip.  The lady on the bed across from me helped me put my coat and stuff away and then asked where I was going.  I said Hungary she got confused but we finally figured it out.  Then she asked, "Ты студентка?"  (are you a student?)
I answered, "Да, но сейчас я преподаватель англиского языка."  (yes, but right now I'm an English teacher).  
She said, "Oh, you speak very well in Russian!"  It really doesn't take a lot to impress these people.  She started talking to me like I really knew Russian.  It turned out she was really Ukrainian and said I should be studying Ukrainian because it's prettier.  I tried to explain it was hard to find a teacher.  She said, "I will teach you."  So randomly through the trip, she would tell me Ukrainian words and make me repeat.  I took a short break from Valentina and went and played Up the River Down the River with Taylor, Megan, Amanda, Cassidy and Megan.  I won by a hair.  Then I talked to some people.  Then I went back to my room.  Valentina and I talked about everything, Ukraine, my family, her family, the Carpathian mountains, children, icons, religion, the Book of Mormon, how I needed to get a boyfriend that was older than me and taller, how I didn't look American, really everything.  Half of it was going over my head too.  Then she got out dinner and told me to eat.  I got to try chicken on bread, pickles, eggs, and kielbasa all from her dacha.  It was awesome but I couldn't eat fast enough to please her.  It was really awesome.  Then she sent me to get tea and I didn't know where to go.  I asked the coordinator and she got all confused about how I knew I supposed to get tea and what I was doing talking to a Ukrainian lady.  She didn't know I could speak Russian.  Then I went to the bathroom which was creepy and nasty.  Then Valentina was asleep so I hung out with the obnoxious Americans.  Finally I went back to my room and all the Ukrainians were asleep.  I went to sleep too.
In the middle of the night, the train stopped suddenly and a water bottle fell on my face and I got a royal bump.  Everyone woke up.  Valentina made me watch the Carpathian mountains out the window.  I went to the bathroom and came back and saw Megan and was headed to talk to her and I heard from my room, "Елена!  Идий суда!"  (Elyena (my Russian name) Come here!) I swear Russians love to boss me around.  She showed me some classic Slavic houses.  Then she started singing in Ukrainian.  It was unreal.   Just as I was falling asleep the lady in the top bunk started sleep talking in Ukrainian, weird.  Oh, yeah I forgot to mention that they were all sleeping in their was quite an experience. 
The next morning, we woke up.  Valentina gave me some pumpkin seeds which I could not manage gracefully so I would just eat them whole when she wasn't looking.  But I had to crack some of them because everyonce in a while she'd hold out the trash bag to me for the shells.  Finally we got to Чоп and got on the bus.  We drove the boarder of Ukraine and Hungary where we waited forever and Taylor (our token male on the trip) found out his Ukrainian roommates were smugglers as we saw the boarder control tear the seats out of their car and 100 packs of cigarettes fell out.  To be continued.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Okay, I'm going to attempt to keep this short.  Basically, the big news is my host mom had a baby!!!!!!   It was really weird when it happened because Natasha finished cooking dinner, called us all in and then we started eating and she said, "It's so sad that we're all here and I have to leave but that's life.  Poka!"  I turned to Sasha and said, "Where is going?  To the store?"  She said, "No, to the hospital."  "TO THE HOSPITAL?????? As in the woman is having a baby???"  "Yeah."  I was aghast that she was in labor and finished cooking dinner and then took a marshuka to the hospital.  Vova put everyone to bed and then left in the car, I assume to meet her.  The next morning Vanya announced "We have a brother!"  That evening Natasha was home and I got to see the baby.  He's adorable.  We don't have a name for him yet.  Vova wants Valera. Natasha want Timosha.  Styopa calls it Anton.  Sasha calls it Slava.  Vanya wants Yura.  My vote is Yaroslav Vladimirovich Zhdanov though Vanya said we should name it Annilyn but I said that's not a boy's name.  
I made a quilt on a duck tape and boards frame.  All of the frame came from dumpster diving.  One piece I think might have been a hoe used by some peasant at the time of Prince Vladimir.  It turned out really well.  The baby now sleeps under it.
Styopa has been way way cute.  I'm going to be sad to leave him when we go on vacation next week.  He and I have found a new game, Баба Яга! (baba yaga) one of us is Baba Yaga and scares the other one.  His real Baba came over and he said "Baba, Baba!" and started making scared faces.  She was all confused until I said, "Baba Yaga?"  and he said, "Da".  Zina said, "Я не Баба Яга, я твоя хорошая Баба!"

Monday, March 16, 2009


Оk so the title says, "I LOVE KIEV AND RUSSIAN AND BABOOSHKAS AND EVERYTHING HERE!!!!" If you can't guess I'm really happy with life right now. Kiev pretty much is my favorite place ever and I can't remember why a month and a half ago I ever didn't like it. Oh yeah, I've been here two months which I have decided is not a reason to celebrate since it means I am a month closer to going home, not that I don't want to come home I just don't want to be done with Kiev.
So, monday I told the maintenance kids futures with the cards like the kings game. It was great. I wore my headscarf like a gypsy and we found out that Liza loves Misha. Valera is going to kill his brother and marry his sister in law. And I'm meant to marry Valera so maybe I'm the sister in law. It gave us lots to talk about and was awesome.
Tuesday, was a really happy day. I got to chat with Deidre and Sarah which was great. I played with Styopa and Vanya got ticked with me because I was singing while he was trying to do homework. His ticked voice is really cute. Then we had варенки с капустой. Maybe my favorite thing here. Then I played with Stypoa and was making different birdcalls. He did not want to go to bed but Natasha said he had to. He said, "Я спи сууууда!" (Styopian for I will sleep here) and he lay down on Sima (the cat) and waved his hand for me to continue entertaining him. Natasha and I could not contain our giggles. Finally he got off to bed and I helped Vanya with his math which was hard because Russians do everything differently so I had to translate the problems into American and then figure out what to do.
Wednesday, I woke up and the sky looked like the Ukrainian flag outside my window and it was actually warm. I went with Megan and Amanda to souvenir street. I got a Ukrainian shirt!!! I can now actually look like I'm out of a Russian fairy tale. It's way way way cool with the national pattern of Ukraine embroidered up and down the sleeves. I had a bunch of people compliment me on my taste in lacquer boxes again though I think it really annoyed them because I really liked looking but I clearly didn't have the money to buy the ones I was looking at. And I was actually thinking I might buy one so I was only pointing at the small ones. But I have a knack for picking out Soviet master miniature painters whose work cost hundreds of dollars at any size. I think I'm going to talk to Eugene about getting some blank dolls and stuff and painting my own. We wandered into St Andrew's Catherdral where they were ordaining a new priest. It was way cool to watch. After that we went down artist's alley and Megan and I were art nerds together critiquing the compositions and lauding the techniques. Then we went up through the park down to Khreshadik where we caught the metro back to the school. At the school, Megan and I freaked Audrey when we had a half Russian conversation about our plans for the next day. "Ты хочешь идти в пошта?" "Что?" "Пошта." "When?" "Зафтра." "Да, да!" "Хорошо." (Do you want to go to the post office? What? Post office. When? Tomorrow. Yes! Okay good.) Audrey just stared at us like you all are insane. That night we had shashlik that Vova had made! YUM!!!! Vanya was quizzing me on words in Russian. I knew a lot of them which frusterated him because he wanted to know more than me. So then he started asking random words he knew but I didn't like moon. I turned around and asked him 'fridge'. He said, "I do not know. But you don't know in Russian" I said, "Actually I do. Холодилник!" He was way impressed and every 5 minutes for the rest of the meal he would ask, "What is word?" And point at the fridge. And I would say, "Fridge, Vanya" And he would repeat it to himself a few times before going back to eating. He's such a funny kid. Natasha and Sasha also had a funny converstation about Lenin that night. Sasha kept trying to hold her hand out like Lenin and Natasha would say, "Нет! Это Гитлер!" (No! That's Hitler!!!) The idea of making Lenin look like Gitler (that's how they say it here) was really offensive to Natasha. She and Sasha got into a discussion of whether or not Lenin was a good guy. Sasha's vote was that he was bad, Natasha was all for him though against Stalin. It was fascinating to listen to them. I love eves dropping here.
Thursday, I almost wrote that nothing happened, but no, something happens every day here. Thursday, we were singing Old McDonald and Kyrill was choosing the animals. He's just barely started with us so he doesn't know that much English so the other kids were whispering suggestions. Igor whispered "Zombie, zombie." Megan said, "Zombie is not an animal. It has to be an animal." So Igor started saying, "Zombie cat. Zombie cat." So Kyrill turned to me and said "Zoombie Kat". I said, "Okay." The other teachers and kids and stuff made "oooooh ooooh" sounds but I threw my arms up like a zombie and proceeded to make the sound of an undead cat. It was like a howl scream totally cat thing. All of the teachers started laughing so hard we could barely make it through the rest of the songs. The story is now famous because all of the teachers have been telling everyone how I did the most amazing zombie cat noise ever. They keep asking me to recreate it but I don't think I could if I tried. Zombie animals have now been banned from Little America School.
Friday, I went to Петривка a metro station with a book market. Megan's host mom had told us about it. We wandered up and down the rows of stalls of books and dictionaries, and DVDs. I got some stickers for my kids. We wandered for a loooooong time. and finally came to the end of the stalls. We turned to go back to the metro and saw there were more ROWS of books. We went into the used book area and found all sort of amazing things. We found books in every language. I got a book of Сказки that has Little humpbacked pony, firebird, Tsar Sultana, and a bunch of others in Russian. It's awesome. And I found a book of Skazki from the Urals that has malichite casket and such in English. I got both books for less than $2 from this little old man granted they are both old Soviet age books but they are awesome. Then we went to go get Megan a purse. She wanted the one in the window so I had to ask the lady if we could see it. Then the zipper was broken. Megan showed the lady who turned to me and said, "She wants this purse? I have it in other colors." When I said she really wanted the blue one, the lady said, "Ладно, часто." She tried to fix it but it didn't work so I she came back and started talking to me about going to see this master and waiting. And I said, "Maybe tomorrow?" She said no we should just wait a few minutes. She herded everyone out of her shop and motioned for us to follow her out. She took us over to this belt fixer guys shop and we waited while he replaced the zipper completely. It was very exciting. That night, Taylor played volleyball with Maintenance, so when I came to teach them, the whole room stunk of Ukrainian boy (most of it was coming from Vanya). I could hardly breathe. That night, I went home and got in the elevator with this guy that looked like a Russian mafia boss. Right as I got in he turned to me and said "What floor?" I thought, if I answer he'll totally know I'm American and kill me! If I don't answer he'll be frusterated and kill me! I decided to go with the answering option so I said, "Шестой." He pushed the six button and the doors closed. That was when I remembered our light in the elevator is broken. I had to stand in the dark with this terrifying big man and count the flashes of light as we past the different floors praying the whole time that I would make it out alive. When the doors opened. I leapt from the elevator. I think the mafia boss dude probably just thought I was weird but I was terrified.
Saturday, I got up early, I could hear Styopa calling me through the door but I had wedged it shut with a shirt. I got up to let him in and found I couldn't open the door. I called back, "Styopa I'm coming." as I tried to fight the door open. It was really stuck. Vova came and got Styopa and I was still fighting with the door. I couldn't figure out how to tell him I needed him to push on the door so I just had to keep fighting with it. Finally I got it open and went off to the Relief Society party. It was fun. Then Megan and I went to the Украина mall. Where I found Анастасия (Anastasia!!!!!) We went tot the end of the red line to the market. We wandered for a long time in the slush. When we finally found the building, we were exhausted. We wandered through a few rows of very very very Russian coats (if I was staying here, I would totally get one but I think I'd stand out at BYU) then we found a bench and flopped down next to some babushki and people watched. We finally mustered the strength to walk and went back out to the real market and bought a kilo of cookies because we were stupid Americans and I don't know how to stay a fourth of a kilo so the lady got confused and just gave us a kilo. Fortunately they were AMAZING!!! I am currently eating a Ukrainian Tim Tam Slam (Passionate Kisses) with them and they are the best ever!!!!! I might have to bring back a kilo because they totally have even Tim Tams beat. They are thick cookies dipped in a lot of dark Roshen chocolate with little crunchies in it. YUUUUUUMMMMMMMM!!!!!! Take that with a glass of Milo...yum. Then we went to McDonald's for the free bathrooms (everywhere else here you have to pay and it's extra for toilet paper sometimes). Then we went to Palatz Ukraina where we met Anna and Misha (Megan's host family). They got in for free because some guy though Misha was cute (if only he knew...) We lucked out too and got 80hr tickets for 40 so we were sitting put close for 5 bucks. It was an awesome show, Украинский хор (Ukrainian Choir). But it wasn't just singing. They all wore traditional costumes and did dances and we got to hear a bandoora (Ukrainian national instrument). It was AWESOME!!! Megan and I were taking lots of pictures. At intermission I heard the guy next to us say, "The girls next to us are foreigners." At the end of the show we got up to leave and he cornered us in the hall on the way out and was saying something about "страна" (country). I said, "Я не понимаю" (I don't understand) which is usually enough to get them to leave you alone. He repeated, "What country are you from? Latvia? Estonia? Oh! I know you're German!" I said, "О, мы американки!" (Oh, we're American) I was tickled pink that he wouldn't immediately assume we were American, though actually a lot of people think Megan and I are German maybe because more Germans come here than Americans or maybe because we aren't your typical obnoxiously loud Americans. Anyways, this guy asked us if we like the show and I said, "Да, это очень хорошо". We went home on the metro. Misha told us this story he made up. It totally sounded like a Russian fairy tale. He and I also had a discussion about Кназь Владимир which I totally want to get ahold of. He said he'd help me understand it. So we need to get together and watch it. That night, I watched the first part of Anastasia. It's awesome!!!!!! It makes me so happy.
Sunday, I got up early so I could ride back the three stops to the beginning of the green line so I could say I rode the whole thing in one shot. When I got back to our stop, a little babooshka got on and sat down next to me. She saw my notecards for Russian and said, "Oh I have those for German! What are you doing?" I said, "Я изучаю русский язык. (I am studying Russian.)" She looked at me and said, "На каком язык, вы говорите?"(What language do you speak?) I said, English and she went off about everything. She would lean over and pat my hand and whisper conspiratorially to me in Russian as if we were best friends. She told me all about how she was going to visit her brother who had the flu. She said, "Я буду сказать ему что я познакомусь американский преподаватель англиского языка кто зовут Аннилин. И она изучает русский язык." (I am going to tell him that I met an American English teacher who was named Annilyn and she's studying Russian.) But she said, "It's hard for us to say your name what is your Russian name. You should be named Elyena. That's my granddaughters name. It sounds like Annilyn, yes?" I have now, looked that up on a Russian baby name sight (you can't find Russian names on English sites) and Tanya (that was her name) was inspired because Elyena totally describes me. The first thing it said was, "Elyena loves fairy tales." So yeah, my name is now Елена (which is the name of the princess in the Firebird). Oh yea, so when she left, Tanya leaned over and said some long farewell patted my hand again. I said, "До свидания" and she left. Then, I went to church. I actually got to go to sunday school. When I went home, I made Key Lime Pie. They all were fascinated. After I baked baked it, Vanya stuck a knife in it and then licked it and you saw his face light up. Later, when he actually got a piece he was pulling all sorts of controrted sour faces. I said, "Is it good or not?" He said, "Yes?" Sasha said, "Vanya, you dork. She said, Хорошо или плохо и ты сказал ДА" He said, "It's so sour I can't think." It's was funny. I also watched Anastasia with them in Russian with English subtitles. It was funny because we got to the "There's A Rumor in St. Petersburg" and Sasha said, "This isn't Russian, is it?" They also thought it was funny to have Rasputin sell his soul to the devil and cause the Revolution. That's giving his role way too much importance. When we finished they said, "That was...interesting."
This morning, I got to listen to Barratino (Russian Ponochio) told to Styopa. It was really fun.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

When I get back to America, I'm going to be amazing...thank you Vanya.

So Monday, Vanya decided that when I get back to America I'm going to be amazing.  So he started teaching me his tricks. He taugh me to twirl a stick in my fingers and made me practice all night long.  If he turned around and I wasn't practicing.  I got the look and he would say "Аннaлин (that's my name in Vanya accent)  Are you amazing when you go to America? No. Praktik. (Vanyan for Practice)."  I was trying to study Russian so was writing with my left hand and twirling a stick with my right-hand.  Finally both hands ached and I told him I couldn't anymore, Sasha called him a садист which I gather is Russian for sadist.  She was so you will see later on.
Tuesday, Megan and I went exploring around the Универсам и рынок (supermarket and market) around my house.  We got a cake pan from a little vendor in the market.  The Универсам is almost American in it's selection and it's cleanliness.  I made whirly gigs with the kids.  It was way fun.  I played with Styopa who is getting better at my name.  He's so cute.  Я люблю моего Украинского брата.  
Wednesday, I played with Styopa and studied Russian.  Then I went to school  On the way I stopped at the Фора and got milk, sour cream, and butter.  I stuffed it all in my coat pockets and looked like a total dork but was having a lot of fun.  We made flag poles in class.  I did the American flag on one side and the Ukrainian flag on the other side.  The kids really got into that.  Arina (one of my kindergartner's was way excited to tell me her flag wasn't either of those her flag was blue, white, and red.  Apparently, she's Russian.  I'm not sure I always understand how you decide here where you are from.  My host family has Russian parents but Vanya says he's Ukrainian and Sasha seems to think she's Russian.  With Maintenance I did a ring toss kind of game where they had to throw the ball into one of the bowls with a vocab card on it and they had to tell me before which bowl they were going to throw it into.  When I got off the bus I was think ing about class and didn't think about the fact that I was walking through the bus stop and totally turfed it on the nasty dog poop covered asphalt.  I can now say from the experience of having my face smeared through the ground that there is a reason we trade our boots for tapochki when we go inside.  But it was still really funny so I started laughing.  Vanya was just staring at me until I started to laugh and then he started cracking up.  He made me jump across puddles and walk along on the bike rack bar.  I felt so ridiculous that I couldn't stop giggling.  This guy in a car parked by us asked Vanya what was wrong with me.  He answered, "Она американка." (She's an American.)
Thursday, I had oladi for breakfast. Yum.  They are my favorite.  Megan and I went to find the post office.  We wandered all over.  Finally we crossed the street and right as we were about to give up we saw the sign that said Пошта up above the building.  It was right where we had started.  We went in and tried to figure out where to go.  There were people standing front of all the signs so we just got in the longest line.  We were getting all these crusties from the babooshki and we didn't know why.  We started wondering why so we started watching what was going on.  The people would go up.  Show the people their passport and get money.  All of a sudden we realized there was no one under 70 in our line.  We were totally in the pension line.  We went to another line and I handed them my letters they looked at them like "What the heck is this?"  Fortunately I had written США in big letters on them so they finally figured it out and asked me if they were going to America.  I said yes and they got out the stamps and stamped them and told me where to put them.  Hopefully they get to the right places.  After that we wandered in the direction we thought the the metro was.  We were totally off.  We walked for forever.  I thought I had gotten my excersize for the week but I was wrong!  We made women's day cards.  Kindergarten got really confused because I wrote "To: Mom" on it.  They thought I had two moms.  Kostya claimed he had 999 moms.  That is some serious polygamy but Prince Volodymir had 3,000 wives so maybe Ukrainians are down with the whole thing.  Megan and I got Шашлик (like kabobs) from a little stand.  It was way fun and the guy we ordered from was way cool.  Then we went to Russian class.  I was kind of bored.  When I came home Styopa dressed up as me in my boots and scarf and took pictures of Everyone.  He and I played kashoo (his favorite game) until dinner when I had plemeni (like meat filled pirogies)  They were way good.  
Thursday, Megan and I found a material store and art supplies.  I bought oranges at the market.  We ate potato wrapped around meat and shashliki ketchup.  YUM!!!  Megan and I figured out we are totally related which is funny since our host families are related.  We got flowers and chocolates for Women's day.  Tasia gave me a dafodil and Leonid gave me a tulip.  And we got cake and more chocolates.  With maintenance, I did fortunately-unfortunately with a pig drawing on the white board.  They would tell me what happened to the pig and I would draw it.  The best part was when he met an evil sexy pig.  And I did fortune telling with the Kings game.  I wore my headscarf as a gypsy scarf.  They thought it was hilarious.  I stayed late at the school and had some bonding time with the cleaning lady.  She liked our flowers.  She taught me how to say 'Happy Woman's Day' in Russian.  When I got on bus I had lots of stuff and some guy gave me his seat.  Sasha asked me how my day was and I said, "Awesome.  I like this holiday."  She helped me find a vase for my strange bouquet, a rose, a tulip, and a dafodil.  I sang songs with Styopa and played Uno with Vanya and Sasha.  
Saturday, I got up early and made cinnamon rolls.  They loved them.  I think Natasha ate 8 by herself.  The dedooshka came over and invited us all to go on an adventure on monday.    I played with Styopa until Megan called.  Then I went to the store for presents for Women's day.  I got flowers for Natasha and watercolor pencils for Sasha.  I went to the material store several times trying to figure out how to make a baby blanket for Natasha.  Finally I mustered the courage to face the people.  They were laughing at me.  I didn't know how to say a meter and a half so I had to act it out.  I now feel really bad for the Mexicans living in America.  They are so brave.  Then I went back and watched the Russian Three Musketeers with Vanya and Sasha.  Then we had плоф dinner.  Vanya said "Мне ненравится плоф." (I don't like this plof).   But I loved it, when Natasha asked if I wanted more, I said, "Да, мне нравится" (yes, to me it is very pleasing (direct translation is awesome)).  Natasha totally cuffed Vanya.  After dinner Vanya and I listened to his CD player.  He translated the Russian songs for me.  I was way impressed.  Then he made me try to translate an English CD.  The first song was about magic, elves, and the shadow of the moon so I couldn't do it. He got fed up with me and left but then the next song was about season and I totally could do it.  I wanted to call him back.  A little later h said he wanted to teach me all his tricks.  I said "Okay."  He proceeded to try to teach me to jump up, do pull-ups, and do those Russian kicks.  I totally failed at all of it.  So then he started making me do "Практик" (excersizes).  The little sadist had me doing excercizes and making a fool of myself for 2 hours.  I couldn't tell him no because he'd flash me that heartbreaker smile and say "Aнналин, you must praktik or you will no be amazing in America."  He told me he was my trainer and I should call him 'ninja' "Only not when mama or papa are here!"  When I didn't hold myself straight enough for excersizes, he would smack me with a stick.  Fortunately Styopa wandered in an would give me hugs and stroke my hair in a comforting manner.  Finally, Styopa came in and brought my camera which distracted Vanya.  He decided to take pictures and try to make it look like I was awesome at doing push-up so he made me drop to the ground.  My whole body is totally bruised.  
Sunday, I woke up and was getting ready for church when there was a little knock at my door.  It was Vanya with a potted tulip and a big smile.  Then Sasha came in with a picture she painted for me.  It's way cool.  They had all woken up early to wish me happy Women's Day.  When I got home Vanya made me kakoa and I had a piece of torte.  Then he and I played Uno and дурак (an awesome Russian game).  Then he made me do praktik again.  Ouch!  I got the idea to distract him with chocolate that I'd gotten from the school for Women's Day.  It worked for a total of 2 minutes then he got the idea of putting the chocolate on the floor and I had to do a push up and eat it.  I couldn't do it so then he put a couple of books under it.  He left the room and I ate the chocolate.  When he came back he said, "Анналин, you do it?"  I said, "Yes."  He gave me the look.  I said, "I kissed Gulliver!  See how happy he is."  He totally didn't believe me.  Then we went to the store.  Vanya discovered we have the same size feet so I can wear his roller skates.  I skated around the apartment.  Then we had dinner.  The dedooshka made me eat salted fish he'd made.  It was actually way good but I couldn't eat as much as he wanted.  We actually had a whole feast.  I had cutlets, egg salad, califlower, salat iz pomedora, bananas, stuffed peppers, and 2 kinds of salted fish.  Apparently I wasn't eating enough so Vova took the plate of salted fish and scapped half of it onto my plate.  I freaked because that is the only thing I really can't eat and it gave me a huge amount.  I started choking it down.  They gave me a piece of rye bread and it wasn't actually to bad until I got an eyeball half way through.  Then it started being really really nasty.  Finally I finished.  I felt totally bloated.  But Vova pulled out the torte, chocolates, and tea.  He also gave me a bunch of magic flowers that opened up when I put them in water.
Monday was a day off for everyone but ILP teachers.  So we went to роллики (ROLLERSKATING!)  It was totally the dedooska's idea and he was way excited.  We all got in the новая машина (we got a new car on Sunday!!!)  We drove all through Kiev which was way cool.  I videoed Lavra and Big Mama as we went across the river.  It was way cool  But then we had to catch up with Yuva and we sped up and were weaving through traffic and I thought I was going to die.  Then we got there and we had a great time skating even though I'm way sore.  I was way impressed that Yoova can skate.  The man is over 70 and was way good.  Vanya causes so many accidents because he was crazy and unaware.  Misha was a total wuss.  It was way fun though.  
So that's the news from Kiev!~  Hope you all are doing well!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Goodbye Winter!!!

So...Wednesday Lubko and Yarema fought over what to do with their food.  Lubko one of my little Russian boyfriends wanted to give the last of their creme filled croissants to me.  During this, Daniil came in and said "Goodbye" ran up and kissed me.  When Vanya and I went home, his mom wasn't there so he asked me if I wanted to play Uno.  We started to play when all of a sudden we heard "Ваня делай уроки!" (Vanya do your homework--the number one call in the Zhardov household)  Vanya looked at me and said, "Mother not here, and now he says!"  We finished playing and went and had dinner.  Vanya and I had a great chat about Япониш (Japanese).  He showed me how he can write upside down when he wrote "Я устал, я лежусь спать" (I'm tired, I'm going to bed.)  I wrote back, "Я тоже" (me too).
The next day Megan and I were going to the Russian art museum so I had to leave early.  I had been reading a book with Styopa while I ate my fish and potatoes for breakfast (not my breakfast of choice) and when I went to leave he cried and said, "Наналининанана, идий суууууда!" (nanannaananilininana (that's my name in Styopian) Come heeeeere!)  I gave him a hug and said "Я буду игать с вами вечером" (I will play with you tonight).  I didn't think he would understand me.  Then I snuck out the door.  The art museum was closed so we went to the Ukrainian Natural history museum and saw lots of rocks.  We also went to the archeological wing and saw lots of cool ancient Ukrainian stuff.  They had a cool map of Kiev through the reign of the 4 major kings of Kievian Rus.  We also saw a demonstration (like the political kind) across the street.  I wanted to go over and see what it was about but we decided to play it safe and stay away.  The banners said something about Ulia Timoshenko but I don't know if they were for her or against.  I taught then walked home through the snowy darkness.  As soon as I got home Styopa met me at the door and dragged me into his room.  We read and ate 'кашу' (Styopian for каша, porridge what he eats all the time.  It's actually the right word just it's always in the accusative case for Styopa because his mom says he's eating kashoo and doesn't understand cases).  At one point I was really tired and I lay down for a minute.  Styopa thought I was dead and poked me.  When I opened my eyes he pulled me up and gave me a big hug and a kiss.  We had dinner with the whole family which was way fun.  
The next morning, I left early to meet Megan and I got there early so I hid in the entry way to her house behind the door and when she came down I followed her being really quiet.  When I knew I wasn't going to be able to hold back the giggles much longer I reached out and put my arm around her right as her phone rang.  She thought it was me on the phone so she really really freaked out that some Russian guy was grabbing her.  It was awesome.  We went to Andrivsky Uzviz (St. Andrew's Desent also known as Souvenir Street).  We met this one guy (Eugene) who spoke really good English and asked where we were from.  When Megan said Utah, he said, "You are Mormon's maybe?"  When we said, "Yes", he said "You Mormons always like these" and went and got the Nativity dolls.  They were beautiful and was really right they were exactly what we like all day we found ourselves looking at different Nativity dolls.  He showed them all to us and told us "I met some of your young men (missionaries) and they said they liked them but they would like them better without halos so I tell my artist." So he had Mormon dolls with scenes from the life of Christ in them.  He also told us about the history of laquer box styles, Kiev, football, the weather, Virginia, and Russian artists.  We left without buying anything but we told him we'd be back the next day at 4.  We continued down the street.  I bought a lacquer box with the firebird on it.  The guy who sold it to me painted his own dolls and I had a fun time talking to him.  When I was trying to decide which box to get I would point at them and he would tell me how much.  I kept choosing the really expensive ones and he kept trying to show me the less expensive ones because he could tell I didn't want to spend that much.  Finally, he said, "You know lacquer boxes.  You choose always master painters.  They are more expensive."  So then he got out the small ones and I got one of those.  It's small and round (which is traditional of Kiev) and painted by an old Soviet master painter.  The guy gave me a good price because I opened his table.  Here it is good luck to give your first customer a really good deal and I got there right as he was starting to set out his stuff so he said with a customer so early it would be an especially good omen.  By the time we got to the bottom, it was freezing cold.  We went to Pazata Hata for blini, kapoosta and kartopla. 
The next day was awesome.  We went to a ward breakfast where we ate blini.  Then we went to Saint Sofia's and took a tour.  I was really proud that I could follow all the history of Ukraine that is immortalized in that cathedral.  The frescos are original from the 11th century.  I learned several interesting things.  Like marble used to be worth it's weight in gold so Yaroslav's tomb cost 6 tons of gold.  The church was left unattended for almost 5 hundred years under the Tartar Mongols and the Poles and trees grew up inside the church.  I also learned that when you walk from Zoloti Vorota to Adrivsky Uzviz you are crossing the whole of Kiev during the Kievian Rus period.  We got to climb  the bell tower and the weather was nice so you could actually see everything.  After that we went to Souvenir Street.  We got there right at 4 and Eugene ran up to us saying, "You're right on time!"  Then I went home and made Navajo Tacos for my host family.  It was really really fun.  Natasha told me how to get to the Goodbye Winter Festival.  An ancient Ukrainian festival where they burn winter in effigy and eat blini in the woods.  Megan and I went and I got a блин с икрой (blini with caviar) and Шашлик (a Tartar kaboob).  On the way home we walked by Roshen Фабрика имени Карла Маркса (The Roshen Candy Factory in the name of Karl Marcs) it smelled way good.