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 here...like 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 car...me, 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 here...be 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.