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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Making the list ...

Have you read the international news lately? About Ukraine and Russia?
Guess what - our big eastern neighbour is already talking about taking over the Baltic states. Again.

I grew up in a "closed" town - because of the huge military airport really close to our home. On Sundays, the pilots did "training flights" over the city. Very low. Rumors were that they were drunk then. So it might have been - with my parents' house overlooking the river valley, the planes often flew very nearly into the window of my bedroom (OK, it seemed awfully close, I think they were always playing on the edge of a catastrophe). Also, there were very quiet talks about Russian soldiers abusing Estonian girls and overall fear. We know that these soldiers poisoned our family's dog because it hated their drunken noise and barked.

Also, my father (who is 81 now) was deported to Siberia twice. Once in 1941 with his mother and little brother, his father being deported separately (and later killed in a gold mine), got back to Estonia in 1947 or 1948 because of his young age, and the second time in 1949 right from school because he had turned 16 just a month earlier ... He spent 14 years in Siberia, in seven different prisons. When I was little, I was sharing the bedroom with my parents. Father often screamed in his sleep. Mother said that he has nightmares about Siberia. After Estonia got the independence again, these nightmares ceased, only to start again during the Bronze Night.

I grew up in fear that has only grown after we have had the "taste of independence and freedom". I love some aspects of Russia - St Petersburg is The Big City of my childhood, we have experienced russian hospitality and russian gospel music is just wonderful -, but I also hate and fear them. I fear those who have listened to mr Putler's propaganda. I fear those who still believe that their grandfathers died for a good cause - being actually forced to join the army to fulfill Stalin's ambitions. I fear those who have no heart, no God, no love. And believe me, in Russia there are plenty of these people.

So I am making a list of things to grab when time comes to grab everything valuable and run. Jewellery, documents, children's books - from Estonian authors! -, favourite toys and photos. Meaning the computer, since we have never gotten to making proper photo albums or scrapbooks. Maybe - just maybe - this will not happen, but we are not sure. Not sure at all.

Please, pray for Estonia and other countries that Russia would want to occupy again. We are angry and worried.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Fabulous Five

Somebody snatched my baby away and gave me a big boy instead. This is the way I feel about Lillebror.

He turned 5 today. This cannot be so, right? Just a second ago he was 11 months old and we all were still adjusting to the whole new situation.

At 5, Lillebror can: all kinds of acrobatics tricks, teached by older brothers; read and write, um his approach to grammatics is a bit complicated, but we are working on it - anyway, when he writes about sheep it does not say "crocodiles"; tell several Bible stories; understand German as it is spoken on TV; some words in English, teached by older brothers; be cute and kind. He cannot: ride a bike; eat his dinner - or any other food - without trying to skip it; control his giggles; clean up children's room because there are too many things to play with.

He loves penguins, math, swimming, being silly, strawberry jam, gummy bears and pumpkin coconut cake. And Daddy ... and Granny ... and Mommy, too. I hope. :)

He shows no signs of RAD or FAS, he is just utterly spoiled by Granny. His constant ear infections have ceased a bit and his heart will hopefully grow strong without any surgery - it is getting better, anyway.

I am happy with the way he is. He is still homeschooled and will be at least until he turns seven. He has heard stories about the "Other Mommy" and orphanage, but he does not know any other way of living than with us, and I am his only "real Mom".


 This is the way he had dinner at the age of 11 months. Pureed blueberries and apples, just 3 days at home. Sorry about the blur.

 And this was his birthday dinner today. Same kitchen, same boy, just a different menu (and a different way of eating!) - potatoes, Schnitzel and glazed carrots. Nothing really fancy, but homemade and good.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Portugal

In all the hard times in January there was a highlight, too - we went to Algarve, Portugal. There was an international project in the school where WonderfulHusband works, and he told me to come along. I was not sure of it at first, but since WonderfulHusband's plane ticket and hotel were paid by this project's money (it is too complicated to explain, but apparently there is some organization that gives money for schoolteachers so that they can travel and exchange experiences), we only had to pay for my tickets and hotel - and at this time of the year, a double room is almost as cheap as a single.

We left our boys at my parents and gave them all clear instructions about schoolwork and visiting friends. The most important instruction was "Granny is right!".

We started in Tartu around 5 in the morning, took a bus to Riga (capital of Latvia), a plane to Manchester, UK and from there another plane to Faro, Algarve. We had -4'F in Tartu, 19'F in Riga, 40'F in Manchester and 60'F in Faro - so in only 12 hours we went from regular Estonian winter into a near-regular Estonian summer. Although here we never get palm trees or orange trees bearing fruit ... in front of town hall.

We had four full days there, filled with meetings, walks around the town (not Faro, but a really small and cute town near to the border to Spain), strange food and interesting experiences. Although the food was strange, it was not bad. WonderfulHusband was a bit unhappy at first because almost every day we had fish (he does not like fish), but vegetarian options were fine, too. One day we walked to the beach that reaches endlessly over almost all Algarve and picked ... shells, shells, shells. And pine cones from the woods. I mean, everybody loves shells and pine cones, right? We were a bit nervous about bringing them home - maybe them being a biohazard or something - but everything went smoothly, even with the English airport.

Then just on my birthday we came back. At 6 in the morning to Faro, from there to Stansted, UK, then to Tallinn that is our capital. From there we took a bus home. The weather ... was the same, just in opposite direction. So we went from summer to bitterly cold winter. In Stansted we had 6 hours to kill, so we decided to take a bus to a nearby town. In this town we found a coffee shop and had cake ... I refused to eat chocolate for several weeks after that because this was the biggest, sweetest and chocolatiest (sorry about making up a word in a wrong way, hope that you understand what I mean) birthday cake I had ever had!

I just felt sorry that we couldn't bring the boys. They would have loved it there! Maybe we will be able to take them there someday.

 The oranges were not ripe yet, said the locals. We "stole" one and it tasted better than those that we get in the supermarkt in Estonia!
 Just someone's backyard. We see those plants in Estonia, too -only indoors.
 The beach.
Coffee and cake in England. Next time I want to stay longer in this town - to try more sorts of the cake!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Really?

Lillebror is very nearly 5. I still cannot understand it that Leader Of The Pack once fitted into the sweater that Lillebror is wearing, and that The Dreamer was once that small ...

Anyway, this kid says the funniest things. He has serious questions, too, like: "Who created God?"

But three minutes ago ...

He fell today on his face. There will be a black eye, I think. :( Also, he bumped his cheek and his nose. I was vacuuming in the bedroom, so I have no idea how this happened - but an almost 5-year-old should be be to stay alive at home, right?

Now, several hours after the fall, he came to me and complained that he is "more used to that his nose does not hurt".

True, Lillebror, true. I hope this bruise will heal soon.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

I saw a ghost today

I was at work, on my way to speak to a teacher when I saw a girl sitting in the corridor, with her back to the window so I didn't see her face at first. Just the hair. Ginger, long, wavy. HER hair. I canceled the possible work for the rest of the day and just sat in my office, reading.

But wait - I have to go back in time four weeks.

Friday morning really early when we were riding to town, my husband behind the wheel, all kids in the back row, my cell phone rang. Unusual at this time of the day, but sometimes it happens. It was the social worker of the school where I work. Just some seconds into the conversation I screamed. Then I searched frantically for the number of a pastor (not ours) and called him - a very young and, as it seemed to me this morning, also confused and hurt. Then we were at school, letting the boys out ... and I was allowed to cry. Probably at the very moment when my MIL was dying at her home, but we didn't know about that yet. This phone call came later - by this time I felt like in the worst movie anybody has ever made.

One of our former students, a pretty, talented and sweet girl was dead. Police doubts suicide ... Her friends didn't. They knew. People don't fall from the really tiny window on the 9th floor by accident.

Everybody who knew her loved her. There was a lot of crying on this day at school. The friends, the teachers. The 14-year-old girl who first called the ambulance. I was not really able to help much, because I had loved this girl, too - a year ago we had a serious talk about her family situation (younger brother entered puberty with a bang) and her best friend has almost lived in my office all these years.

So much life in her, so many hopes - and suddenly it all was gone. Between running back and forth and listening others being shocked I had time to talk to our pastor on the phone. This helped a bit. But still - this girl was a Christian. Will she be held responsible? Will she get her wings?

I dreamed about her last week. She looked tired and there were no wings, but she said that she is OK. (I hardly ever dream about people who are dead, but when this happens - like third time in my life - I think they could be real meetings) I have heard that in some religions (Russian Orthodox, too, and they are Christians!) people believe that a soul is somewhere "in between" for 40 days after death. So is there still the hope of wings?

There are other teachers who have seen her in their dreams or felt her "presence" at school. (The family, of course, is devastated.) From the window of my office I can see the house where she lived and "this" window, too. So I guess the school was the last thing that she saw in this life. All teachers and her friends know it. Maybe this is the reason why we still "feel" her?

The Friday 4 weeks ago was terrible and the next day was not much better. We were at home and tried to keep to our regular routines, but in my mind two faces flicked - this girl and MIL, MIL and this girl. I was really thankful when I cut my leg in the evening, bled a lot and was finally able to cry over all this.

Please, keep this girl's family in your prayers. And in case you think that she could somehow still be around, pray for her, too. She was one of "my" children and she always will be. I would like to give her a hug and a lecture (about hurting people so much) in Heaven.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Nature vs nurture

Leader Of The Pack has got WonderfulHusband's eyes. Just less green and more grey, but the shape and the cheekbones - the same. Don't ask me how this is possible. Maybe because he was born in the same part of Estonia where WonderfulHusband's grandmother's family came from? Maybe there are more "proper" Estonians in this area? Like in "pure race"? My round eyes and the shape of my face come from my Germand ancestors, historically "pure" Estonians should look more like WonderfulHusband (but not completely, maybe the people in Northern Finland have the "right" faces - I once read some anthropologist's article).

Anyway, there is no explanation why Leader Of The Pack looks like his Daddy. Recently, we have found out that there is one more thing that they have in common.

When WonderfulHusband was in his teens, his parents installed cable TV that showed mostly German channels. He loved to watch TV and over time he started to understand what people on screen speak. Later - with me - he started to speak German himself, he still has a terrible accent and is quite creative with grammatics, but his knowledge in German language is above average. He only had German basics for a couple of years at school and by this time he already knew more words than the teacher ...Yes, I am married to a genius. He is smarter than anybody I know.

For over a year now our boys have been watching 30 minutes of nice cartoons every day. In German, because we have only the satellite dish and no receiver for Estonian channels. Leader Of The Pack understands a lot. He is able to translate to his brothers what is spoken by Yakari the Native American or by Vicky the Viking. He also can pick up single words from sentences and ask for the meaning ... And last night he created a "language joke" in German - nothing really special, but it was grammatically correct and we were able to understand it. This child amazes me, really.

Born to live in poverty and filth, to have learning disabilities forever ... Rescued to the cleanliness and feeding at the orphanage, mutated from hopeless to a ... language prodigy or what? This is where we see God's mercy. We have no idea how long this is going to last, and he is not fixated on languages - most of the time he is just another 9-year-old boy, playing with brothers, sticking his curious nose into everything, getting in trouble and helping at home - but I wonder what he could have been if his first years would have been filled with love, not spent in hell on Earth ...

Anyway, I am thankful and proud of him. We never made him learn it, we just provided the cartoons. I think we can call it unschooling.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Licence to read

We love fantasy books in this house. We love Tolkien, Pratchett, Narnia stories ... you name it. Also, we love Harry Potter. The problem is, when Narnia is appropriate for all ages and, as we found out last winter, LOTR movies are not too scary for a barely 4-year-old - since they happen so much in an unreal world, it is easy to explain how this all was made and that most things are made with a computer anyway (yes, we did watch some kind of "making of" documentary too), Pratchett's humor demands a certain knowledge of the world. The Dreamer is chewing his way through "The amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents". The story has something to do with the Pied Piper of Hamelin, but in a new and sarcastic way. Since this is The Book To Be Read Aloud To Mommy, he is not making much progress, but every time he reads to me he finds something funny.

Now, Harry Potter books are despised by many and loved by more, so we had to make an agreement about them. Since there has never been any HP madness in Estonia - no parties, no wizarding kits becoming suddenly popular, no cloaks or scarves or glasses being sold (more than maybe one costume in a special costumes shop), we consider it OK ... from a certain age. Not for Lillebror. Not for The Dreamer, since the story is about children who walk from the real world into the magical world, and all this in a very real city - London, where we hope to take the boys one day. I think it is scarier to read about something that sounds like it could happen (or watch it on TV) than to read a 100% fairy tale.

After Leader Of The Pack finished reading "The Hobbit" in the summer, he started asking for Harry Potter. He had heard at school that this is a cool book. We decided that at the advanced age of 9 he would be old enough to keep in mind that this is a fairy tale and not reality. Now he is 9 and this is what he started doing two days ago:

His at-home-trousers are torn and the floor needs to be swept, but he is reading. After all, he got the licence to read.:) He is not supposed to read to his brothers and not supposed to tell what is happening in the book. When the book is finished, he will be allowed to watch the movie. Without brothers, since they are not old enough yet.