Thursday, March 26, 2009

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

The weather here is rather nice today. There is still plenty of snow on the ground, but it is around 38 degrees and getting warmer by the minute. Sonia says not to get to comfortable, though. It is scheduled to snow Monday. Apparently, the weather can turn on a dime here and it often snows well into June. Have I mentioned how much I love Atlanta?

Today is the last day that I can use a computer until Monday, so if you don't hear from me, there is no need to panic. We will be in the outskirts of Barnaul at a retreat center for the ScreamFree seminar. We have met some incredible people here already and will soon meet about 150 more. I think my favorite person thus far is a ginormous ex pro footballer named Arkasha who could crush me with two of his fingers. He is the most gentle person I have ever met.

I also had to break some difficult news to Hal this morning: I am quite smitten with a new man. His name is Zachar. He has flaming red hair and the most amazing dimples. We played games late into the evening and the way that he looks at me melts my heart. If I had my suitcase (which I still don't BTW) I would stuff him into it and bring him home. He'd fit, because he is barely two years old.

Gotta run - off to the Aeroflot office to try and shake down a Russian airline worker or two and track down our bags.

Day FIVE Sans Suitcase

The saga continues. No luggage and no straight answers from the authorities. We had to fax all of our passport and visa information to the airport only to be told that we now need a Russian authority to do it for us. I am not holding my breath on that to happen.

We leave tomorrow morning for the retreat center and I'm just thankful that the outfit I wore on the plane is one that I like.

We spent today doing some sightseeing around Barnaul. Everywhere you turn is a different statue of Lenin. I'd show you some pictures, but my USB cord is packed safely in my luggage. The snow is all melting and you have to be really careful where you walk. If you get too close to the street, you get splashed with black slush. If you get too close to the buildings, huge drops of metling snow falls on your head. Now I know why Russians wear those big fur hats.

The women here are very stylish and rock the leather boots with stilletto heels. Most of them are tall anyway, so I feel very short and a bit on the dumpy side. It doesn't help that I'm wearing baggy lounge pants that are crispy from the accumulation of crud they've seen since Sunday.

The past two nights have been spent training the leaders of the seminar. Hal is learning how to work with his translator, Ivan. We quickly found out that most things translate very well over here, with a few minor exceptions. All of Hal's stories and/or jokes about eating out or eating too much are met with strange looks. The average Russian does not eat out EVER and walks everywhere. The flat where we stay is four flights up (no elevator) and no one has a car. Everyone we've met is slim and trim. Did I mention that I feel dumpy?

Well, time to hit the hay. Big day ahead of us. First stop, the Barnaul airport to fill out more paperwork in the hopes of again seeing my makeup and clothes.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Shivering in Siberia

We've managed to find some internet access here in Siberia, so I thought I'd give a quick update as to what's going on. Hal and I arrived yesterday morning after being en route 27 hours. Our Atl plane had mechanical problems and we had to be re routed to Paris instead of NY. Apparently, our luggage decided to go on to the Big Apple without us and is now enjoying a matinee of Cats.

We don't know when it will return. So, Hal and I have been in the same clothes since Sunday and are without our winter coats, hats, and boots. That's alright, because it is warm here. Almost 30 degrees.

The people are great and the food is fantastic. I probably won't fit into my jeans whenever they do get here.

Das Vadanya,


Saturday, March 21, 2009

So long, farewell...

Well, folks - Here it is. The day before we leave for Siberia. A trip that brings a literal irony to the title of this blog. I thought I was ready until this morning when I realized...

I have to pack for 10 days in one small suitcase for -5 weather and 4+ days spent on a plane all the while having maybe 2 days' worth of internet access. Bottom line???

Totally NOT ready.

Thank God the moms are here to save the day. Marmie, Sally and Mimi are my heroes, making orthodontist appointments and homework happen in my absence. I know all will be well, but I anticipate missing the heck out of my kids and vice versa.

Hal and I are taking a video camera to document the whole thing and I plan on writing blog posts daily so that you can be with us on our journey. Don't know when I'll be able to post....but that's another issue. Should be fun. Will be cold. Wish us luck.

*For those of you who don't know, Hal and I are off to conduct a 4 day seminar in Barnaul, Siberia for a group interested in ScreamFree. We'll be talking to parents, teens, grandparents, church and community leaders, professors of psychology, and college students on all things concerning relationships. Should be fun!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ahhh.. Now it all makes sense.

So THIS is why my flip video is always running out of batteries...

Cup of What???

I saw this GIGANTIC mug at the store yesterday and came really close to buying it. My life certainly could use a huge dose of calm right about now.

Hal and I are packing for our trip to Siberia. My toes are already cold thinking about this adventure. The HIGH will be in the low 20s - and for a girl raised in the South, this is not anywhere near normal.

So, like I said, I almost bought the mug. But then I thought for a moment. If I drank a mug filled with this much coffee (um...tea drinkers don't bother telling me that I can drink tea - because it is simply not happening) I would be the exact opposite of calm. I would, instead, be flying around my house, bumping into things with a severe case of the shakes....which pretty much describes me every day. So, instead of buying the mug, I bought a snicker's bar.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Grandpas for Sale

The next time you've had just about enough of your father in law (or your own father), drive him down to the Grandpa Store for a trade in.

Today's special:

72 year old chain smoker who will occasionally yell obscenities at your children for no apparent reason.

Suddenly my dad (and his Karaoke habit) doesn't seem quite so bad.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Are fathers shirking their responsibilities to their families?

I ran across this article today and thought that it was interesting. Sometimes, as women, we drive ourselves crazy by talking ourselves into being angry with our husbands when taking a deep breath and a closer look would do.

Check out what Glenn Sacks and Robert Franklin from have to say in response to Parenting's new "Mad At Dad survey" which found that an alarming number of moms are extremely unhappy with their male counterparts. Sacks and Franklin question the legitimacy of the survey and point out what they call a more factual one....

"Are fathers shirking their responsibilities to their families? A 2002 University of Michigan Institute for Social Research survey found that women do 11 more hours of work in the home per week than men, but men work at their jobs 14 hours per week more than women. According to the BLS, men’s total time at leisure, sleeping, doing personal care activities, or socializing is a statistically meaningless 1% higher than women’s. When work both outside the home and inside the home are properly considered, it is clear that men do at least as much as women.

Most moms have no reason to be mad at dads, and there’s no evidence that they are. Unfortunately, such a finding doesn’t play to the mainstream media’s anti-family “woman good/man bad” drumbeat. It also doesn’t make for catchy headlines."

This column first appeared on World Net Daily (3/6/09).

Glenn Sacks, MA is the Executive Director of Fathers & Families. His columns have appeared in dozens of the largest newspapers in the United States.
Robert Franklin, Esq. serves on the organization’s Board. Their website is

I'm curious as to what you guys think. You can reply here, on twitter, our FB group, or our community forum.