Dec 16, 2011

what have i been up to lately?

i've been really horrible at blogging lately. i always think about how i should do it, and then i just oh i'll just get on facebook or pinterest real quick.... or oh i'll just watch one episode of Boy Meets World. like that's possible. so here's what's been happenin the last month (not particularly in chronological order)
peter and paul cathedral
we've been to the fortress before, but with sveta we actually went inside
 all of the tombs of the old tsar's are in the cathedral
along with just prettiness in general. i think this is one of my favorite cathedrals 
dinner at vitalek's house
see, i have this adorable 3 year old student.... and his name is vitalek. he's super cute, and a fireball of personality. this kid goes from lecturing and yelling at you in russian to giving you hugs and kisses in a heartbeat. and he recently started doing this thing where he furrows his brow and then undoes it over and over again... plus he's got a sweet action mullet... anyways, i love him. and jessica and i got invited to his house for dinner! he's got 2 older siblings both of which are at least than 10 years older than, but he definitely runs the place. he is the king of the house. his mom is so sweet though and showed us a bunch of pictures of him when he was little.... more little. he's a little hockey player and we saw pictures of him skating all dressed up in his gear. one time when he was 2 i think, his parents took him to a harley show at the winter palace and he was all dressed up like a biker, riding around on a little mini harley and tons of people were taking pictures of him and videos, because he's just that dang cute. his mom is super sweet and sent us home with a ton of homemade canned russian food. it's also really entertaining to see kids at home and to see that they act the exact same way there as they do at school
 this picture pretty much show's his personality perfectly
 so sweet and innocent.... looking.
parents night/open house teaching
having parents come in to watch you teach is really nerve racking and intimidating. i am definitely not a fan. we had a whole night with our kids that parents rotated around with their kids from class to class watching us teach. it definitely put the pressure on and made for a stressful week of preparation. but, it was all worth it in the end when the parents of one of my students talked to me after class about how their kid was doing and said that i was his favorite teacher and a very good teacher for him. then they gave me a box of chocolates. they are such sweet people and i'm really sad to be leaving them soon. it was great to hear that they thought he was doing well because he's a very quiet student with some disabilities and i'm never really sure how much is getting through to him, but it gets through at least some because he's improved so much through the semester!
roostik is the blue ninja :)
we also had a parents night where we told the parents a little bit about ourselves, and they could ask questions. also very intimidating. the oldest elementary students translated for us which was AWESOME to see cuz it showed that the program really works. these kids are fluently translating and they're like 14. it's ridiculous. they're also all boys and they were all bigger than almost all of us teachers. nice. i wish america would get with the program on the whole teaching foreign languages starting young thing. i teach 5 year olds that can make full sentences and ask questions and completely understand what i'm saying. it's so amazing, these kids are so smart!
fail, fail, success!
once upon a time, 5 girls went on an excursion to go to a museum of curious things. the very first museum in not only st. petersburg, but in all of russia. however, when we got there, it decided to be closed that day. there was a zoology museum right next door, with the most intact wooly mammoth in the world, but that was closed too. double fail. BUT remember that mendeleev museum heather and i tried to get to multiple times and could just never quite do it? turns out it was pretty much right next door as well. who knew?? so we headed on over to check it out. unfortunately, neither of us had our cameras that day, but it was really cool! i'm such a science nerd.
 this is mendeleev himself and then a sculpture of him in st. petes, not at the museum. the museum actually was mendeleev's old flat and so it included his original study and the first rough drafts of the periodical table, as well as other things of course. apparently the guy was good buddies with a bunch of other smart and talented people. go figure
Thanksgiving! An American tradition brought to Russia.
thanksgiving was quite the process this year. we decided to throw jessica a thanksgiving dinner birthday party because she really just loves america and misses her family and her birthday was the next week, so hey, why the heck not?? she was told to go to the school at 8 for a "meeting" and that she couldn't come to our apartment (where everything was being prepared) because bekka was having her russian friends over. BUT when i left the school with her she started to head back to our apartment with me, which.... was just not ok. so i quickly asked her if she would go to okay (grocery store) with me. somehow, i managed to waste an hour and a half in there. still not really sure how i did that, then we went back to the apartment with everyone else gone. some suspicious activity might have happened after that, but we got her to the school with no problem and she was super surprised when everyone jumped up and yelled happy birthday :)
after the party i went home and started making pumpkin squares, one of my favorite desserts as a kid, while i waited to talk to my family. they're pretty much the same as pumpkin rolls, just not rolled up (the squares, not my family. just to clarify.) and they're freaking delicious. then midnight came, and so did my skype date with my family. it ended up being about a 5 1/2 hour date while i watched my family go through a thanksgiving dinner and dessert with out me, but it was worth it to at least sort of feel like i was there with them. thank goodness for skype! i was up till about 6 am but the date was only 5 1/2 hours because they tried to make me go to bed at around 2:30 am, but i called back not long after and rejected that. 
the next day we did our teaching and then headed to sister and elder hazelwood's (a senior missionary couple) apartment for a thanksgiving lunch. we had wonderful turkey with gravy, homemade stuffing, vegetables, rolls, and my pumpkin squares with ice cream. overall, it was more than amazing. i absolutely love the hazelwoods, and elder hazelwood is just like my papa which makes me love him even more. i couldn't stay there long cuz i had another shift of teaching, but it was a fantastic substitute for dinner with my family. i don't think i could have asked for anything better.
everyday i'm shufflin'
thursday night = game night in st. petersburg. one of our game nights we decided to learn the party rock anthem dance, which we will be performing at leslie's wedding. here's what the dance is supposed to look like. here's where we learned the dance. and here is what we ended up with:
creepy stuffed dead things. did i mention a mammoth?
st. petersburg has the world's most intact wooly mammoth, complete with fur and everything, which was found in siberia. i went to see it. 
it's a platypus!!! 
and my darling hedwig sitting on my shoulder :) or my shoulder blade.... 
 try to tell me that this fish isn't completely creepy and unnatural. just try!
 the mammoth in all it's glory!
 i walked home that night in sleet and snow. i was completely covered and soaked by the time i got home from my 15 minute walk from the metro. unfortunately, you can't really tell in the picture.
and when i got home, my lovely, not-roommates had pumpkin french toast waiting for me :) i love them.
leningrad blockade memorial
for 900 days during World War 2, st. petersburg, then leningrad, was almost completely surrounded by a blockade and cut off from the outside world- only with the exception of lake ladoga, known as the road of life. people were given only 125 g of bread to live on each day for rations. when the enemy bombed their food supplies, people made bread mostly made from the dirt in the area of the old building, because it was just a little bit sweeter because of the sugar that used to be there. when sveta was telling us about this, she was emotional and quiet for the entire day and began to cry when she talked about the hardships her people and city faced. never have i see a russian show such emotion, yet i don't know how anyones heart couldn't break at seeing the trials these people suffered through, and some of them were strong enough to endure, and the mass grave of 400,000 people- less than half of who were killed during the 2 1/2 year period.
the start of the war....
the end of the blockade
 is this not completely adorable?

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