Monday, February 25, 2008

This and That

The other day Dougle and I were engrossed in a deep conversation about Russian grammar when we looked up to find that Canaan had emptied his clothing drawer (it is in the living-room)! I took a few pictures and then we told him to put his clothes back in the drawer. He put them all back in, but as you can see in the second photo, they were hanging off the sides and definitely NOT folded! But we praised him for obeying and mommy later folded the clothes neatly so they would only be semi-wrinkled the next time he wears them!

The last pictures is of Canaan and I talking on Skype. You can see how much we enjoy it!! Skype is a FREE way to call from computer to computer. It is just like a telephone call through computers. If you have a web-cam, you can also see each other as you talk. If you have a fast enough internet connection (this is not for dial-up users), you can have a descent conversation. This is how Canaan has been talking to his grandparents, aunts, uncles and various friends. If you have Skype, add us to your account; we would love to hear from you. Our user name is mcdougle_family. We also are able to use phone cards and Skype to call from our computer to land lines. Using Skype in this manner does cost; however, it is about 5 cents to connect a call and about 2 cents a minute afterward. So, we are able to call to the States for pretty cheap. If you ever want to call us, my mom knows of a few cheap calling cards. Just e-mail us and we'll give you our phone number! And, we'll get around to getting you all our address, as soon as we figure it out and get the key to our mailbox (our landlord who is off on international business currently has it!).

A few photos

Just a few clips from last week- and some from church.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Still Honeymooning...

Hello everyone. Well, I am still enjoying my 'honeymoon' stage of moving to Russia. I expect that any day now, I'll enter bona-fide, cold, hard culture shock. But, until then, I am taking advantage of every blissful day!

So I thought I'd share with you a few interesting things. These are random bits of info, so bear with the unorganized train of thought that I have.

The other day, I was thinking that it will be nice to understand what people are saying to me when they start speaking to me in Russian. I entered the metro and a lady who worked at the booth started griping at me for not turning my card right when I swiped it. So, maybe it won't be nice to understand EVERYTHING!

Volodya and Mila came over for dinner the other day. They go to the church at Shabolovskya. We met them on our survey trip about 18 months ago and have kept in contact with them through e-mail and blogs. They are a super sweet couple who have a 13 year old son. They all speak English. Volodya is Dougle's tutor for Russian. He's been trained in the same institute I am at, but to teach Russian to foreigners. Mila works with Autistic children in schools. Anyway, they decided to just speak Russian with Canaan (for the most part). So, Mila has been trying to teach Canaan how to say 'up' and 'down' in Russian. They are longer words, but he'll get them soon. These are some pictures of them as she is working with him on getting up and down from the chair. Canaan just loves them both. They are great with him, and he recognizes them now. As you can tell, they were having lots of fun together!

Fact: we've found a bookstore near our apartment. This is fun because I like to buy books- I stick to buying Canaan books since they are all in Russian. (But I read his books too- to learn some words!) It is also nice because you can buy school supplies- pencils, pens, tape, scissors, crayons, notebooks, cards, paper-clips... you get the idea... at these stores. I have been in need of tape and finally remembered the last time I was out. I searched and could only find the roll of tape, without the dispenser. I was fortunate enough to run into another store that just carried these types of office/school supplies, but they too only sold the tape (without dispenser). Ummm. Our grocery stores nearby don't have them either. I am not sure where to buy them. I am going to have to ask. For now (remember-I am still honeymooning) I think it is funny and an adventure when I can't find exactly what I need. I still have lots of patience. It will run out, but for now, figuring out life here is just an exciting mystery waiting to unfold before me!

Change of topic- In my class, we were learning the words for the seasons and months. We were looking at the pictures in the book and I was surprised to find the Russian version of the seasons. No, seasons don't look the same in all the pictures around the world. If you click on the picture- I think it will enlarge for you, so you can get a better look. Look at numbers 2 and 4. They both have snow in them! Apparently, there is still snow on the ground in March and April. Though it is often gone by May, it sometimes snows in May. Now you know. The little pictures we have to distinguish the seasons are not the same worldwide! No buds on the trees in the Spring pictures here: the snow has not yet melted completely! However, we've been informed that the weather we've had (the high on most days hovers right below freezing) is very ABNORMAL! They say that the temperatures we are experiencing are those of March and April. So, now we all know!

Another thing about the language: Russian is just full of INCREDIBLY LONG, DIFFICULT TO PRONOUNCE WORDS! Yes. It takes several times of hearing and repeating before I can get some right. And then the next day when I go to class, I am already pronouncing it wrong again. However, I learned that after 3-4 days of hearing and practicing the same, long word, the pronunciation will finally stick. (For Example: здрабстбуите- hello- or познакомимця-a word you say when you are politely introducing yourself.) When I get it down, this new word joins the other random vocabulary words that I have learned, but not quite got down the meaning to. They are all floating around in my head, popping up at strange times. Every-once-in-a-while, I will suddenly think of one of these words and have NO IDEA what it means! So, I then ask Dougle. Most of the time he knows. Sometimes, I have to look it up in our handy Russian-English dictionary. How does that Russian alphabet go? A, B, V, G... oh, yeah. That is hard too. Many of the letters are not in the English order. So, looking up words can be difficult too. But, it gets easier everyday. I am finally learning that what looks like 'C' is actually an 'S' and you find it toward the end of the alphabet- not at the beginning!

Okay, that is all for now. Hope you enjoyed my random thoughts for the day. We love you all!

Saturday, February 16, 2008


So, as my dad and husband have informed me, I am a little wordy! Sorry for all the LONG posts! I hope you enjoy reading, skimming, or just looking at all the pictures!!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Little Bits of Info

Today (Saturday), we went to a mall near our house. It has no department stores, just little shops- mainly electronic stuff in this one, and a food court on the fourth floor. We walked around and looked at all the restaurant (about 7). Dougle got some Sharuma (chicken grilled and wrapped in pita bread with veggies and sauce- very tasty), while I chose good 'ole McDonalds. Part of me is embarrassed to say that (b/c it is so unhealthy!), but part of me is unashamed. There is something about eating McDonalds burgers and fries that is comforting when you are in a foreign place.I enjoyed every bite. Canaan has decided he likes fries too. So the 3 of us shared our fries, while Canaan also partook of some other yummy food I brought him (like yogurt).

It was colder today and yesterday than it has been. The temperatures are getting more 'normal' for here in Moscow at this time of year. We got up to 40 degrees and everyone said it felt like March or April. Now it is back down to about 12 degrees with a wind chill -3 degrees. Needless to say, our noses and cheeks were a bit cold. But we enjoyed walking around our neighborhood. We found a place where we think we can develop photos and the post office (where we will pick up any packages). So, that is good.

Also, I wanted to tell you just a tad more about Canaan. I don't know if you caught it in a previous blog, but Canaan has grown 6 new teeth in the past 2 weeks!He's had diaper galore and has been chewing on everything, including a book in the bookstore. I was trying to choose a new book to buy him and gave him a book to look out while I browsed. I should have known better, but the next time I looked down, he had chewed part of a page away! So, we bought that book! Oops! He's been such a trooper, though, through all the pain that comes with it! He loves eating crackers and chewing on his fingers to relieve the pain. So, he is up to 16 teeth- 8 on top and 8 on the bottom!
Another thing I forgot to mention is that he has been working on trying to feed himself. Once he gets through half of his food, he starts taking the spoon and feeding himself. I have to help him get the food on his spoon, but he is slowly getting better!
And, he loves going outside and playing in the snow. We bought a little shovel for him to play with (something we've noticed that many kids play with), but he really can't hold onto it. His gloves are a bit big for him, so his thumb doesn't fit into the thumb hole. This means he can't grab the shovel. But, he does go around pretending to shovel things up in the house!
One more thing- Canaan loves teddy bears. I brought two with us (one is actually an Eeyore, but he thinks it is a bear). He loves to say "BoooR!" He runs over, picks them up, hugs them, and gives them a big kiss on the nose. It is super sweet! My sweet parents hid small little Valentines gifts in our suitcases before we left. They got Canaan a small little bear; needless to say, he loves it!
I was going to post 10 things I love about Moscow on this blog, but Dougle said if it was all about Moscow, I needed to put it on our Moscow Missions blog. So, I did. Hope you all are doing wonderful!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Fifteen Months Old and counting

Well, it is long past due for a Canaan update. I have been wanting to do one for a long time but have not made the time until now. So, here is Canaan's 15 and 1/2 month update on how he is doing, what he likes/dislikes, etc.
Teeth: 16 (six are brand new and still growing completely through)
Hair: A Little Longer
I don't know if you've seen the TV show called MONK, but it is very cute, clean and fun to watch. It is about a detective who is hyper-sensitive about everything. He is very orderly and doesn't li
ke things out of place, including doors that are cracked open. Canaan is like this with the drawers and doors. He loves to say "door," point to all of them, and is all the time going around shutting them. We always leave our bathroom door open because there are no windows; he is always shutting the door. It doesn't matter what he is doing, including running to the kitchen for a cracker (his favorite food), but he will stop, close the bathroom door, and then proceed in running to the kitchen. He is so funny. If I leave a drawer cracked a bit to put something else in it, he beats me to it and closes it.
Walking: Everywhere

unning: He loves to play chase (right now it is just him running from us, but not the other way around yet).
Stepping: He is working really hard on going up and down stairs. It is one of his new favorite things to do. When I took him to the park, we climbed the 5 small steps up to the plastic slide and slid down. After a few times, he decided it was more fun to climb up the steps and then climb back down them! But, he almost always needs assistance in climbing. Because we have a step up/down into our bathroom, he practices very cautiously on this by himself.

Climbing: He is not a climber yet. He comes over and lays over the couch cushions, but isn't adventurous enough yet to try to climb up anything. My friends' kids (Aspen and Grant) who are the same age as Canaan are climbing on things; so I have learned from them to be content that mine is not yet climbing! Hang in there Nancy and Alison!

Throwing: He is getting a better hand at throwing. Now we are working on ROLLING!

cracker, spoon (poo), bowl (bow), hat (ha), water (wa-wr), bye-bye, door, diaper (di-pr), PaPa, bear (bor), belly button (be-bet), bee (bzzz), eat (eee), da (Russian for "yes"), church (tut), egg (ed), squirrel (curl), back (puts his hand
on his back and says bap-the same word for bath), high-chair (ha-chor)
baby, mom, dad, sleep, play, friend- His signs all have quite a Canaan "accent" to them. The only three he does accurately are: mom, dad, and thank you. For those of you who didn't see our video (on Dougle's blog), he will respond when we ask him: "Say Pashalusta" (which is please in Russian), he will sign please in sign language. In addition, we can tell him, "Say Spaseeba" (which is thank-you) and he will sign thank you in sign language. We are very proud of him for this!
Canaan has always been quick to comprehend what we are saying, if not the exact words, he understands our meaning. These are the newest things he responds to:
-Where is your....back, nose (on other people), belly and knee (in addition to the others he knows).
-Go get your.....whatever we ask him to get (truck, ball, drink, etc.).
-Eating words.....Are you hungry? Do you want a bite? Do you want a drink? He responds by yelling "aaaahhhh," stomping his feet excitedly, and/or running to the kitchen. He is now learning how to say "da," the Russian word for "yes."

-Don't touch....He knows exactly what it means, but doesn't always choose 'wisely.'
Put that back......he'll do it most of the time, even if reluctantly.
-Come here....another command he thinks he can disregard at times.

-Lets change your diaper........he used to run away from me, but now he comes with me and just today has started to lay down on the floor by himself. Now, he still complains when it takes too long to change, but he is doing better finally!

-Do you want more?/Are you all done?........He can choose which one he really wants and responds appropriately.

-Are you ready to go night-night?.......If he is sleepy, he smiles, drops whatever he is doing, and runs into the bedroom, saying "night-night!" If he is not sleepy, he just looks at us like we are very strange!
I'm sure there is more, but those are the major things I can think of.
Canaan has just started pretending a little bit. It is so adorable! He will pick up an empty cup that I let him play with and put it to his mouth, tilt his head up and pretend to drink! He will also pretend that bowls are hats. He will put it on his head and say "ha," smiling and laughing the whole time. He thinks he is very funny and cute! I think so too!

I am not sure who he gets this from,
but he has started to become very dramatic in some things. He will get super excited and exaggerate things. For example: when he is really ready for another bite, he will go at it with extra force and speed, clamping down dramatically on the spoon and pulling off very forcefully too. He almost chokes himself being so dramatic. Then there is the DRAMA KING ACT when we have made him upset or sad. If he isn't trying to actively rebel (yes, we are going through a very rebellious stage now), then he will bend over and tuck his head in my lap and fake cry/pout until we tell him, "That's enough, Canaan. Veeseeyo (Russian)." Usually Dougle and I are smiling at each other, laughing on the inside, at our silly Drama King- until he looks up and we resume our frowning face. :)

*Blanket and Paci- Yes, we still let him have them. They've been a huge comfort to him while we've been here. He only gets them in his bed, stroller, or at church when we are trying to get him to go to sleep.

*Pulling tabs on books- This is a new skill and a new love. He likes to pull the tabs so the animals/objects move. He is getting quite good at pulling them out and then pushing them back in (though I have had to tape a few back in place while he was learning how to do it without ripping it)!

*Looking out our kitchen window at the cars and trucks in the road. He is always going over to the window, reaching his hand up, and saying "uck."
*Peek-a-boo- This is a re-newed favorite of his. He will join in the fun and run to hide behind things and slowly come out from behind them with a huge grin on his face.

*Talking on Skype- This is a new favorite thing. He likes to see whoever is calling. He will get bored and play while Dougle and I talk, but will periodically come over to the computer to say another "Hi" and check to see if the person is still there. The first time we Skyped my parents, he tried to hand them things (his truck and a book) and got upset when they didn't take them and play with him. That was a very hard experience, but later he started playing peek-a-boo with them from behind the couch. That was a game they could still play together!
*Closing Doors and Drawers. He is our little helper!
*He still loves trucks (or anything with wheels), balls, books and teddy bears.

*Singing- I don't do this enough, but whenever we sing, he just smiles and listens. He especially likes, "The B-I-B-L-E," "Pat the Little Bible," and "If You are Happy and you Know It."

Friday, February 8, 2008

My First Russian Crisis

Wow. I have so much to share with everyone about what has been going on. I don’t think I can put it in one post. So, I’ll just try to share little bits at a time; we do plan to stay here in Russia quite a while…6 years I believe…so I should have plenty of time to share with you all of the interesting and boring details of life in Moscow. :)

Tuesday marked my first day of language school and my first major Russian crisis. I survived the crazy day only because I knew it would make a great story to tell you. I have recorded a long version of my day here, and at the bottom of this post, I wrote a "Short Version" for those of you who don't have time (or desire) to read my long, drawn out story.

I woke up early on Tuesday morning to get ready for the day. Language school doesn’t start until 9:30am, but I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to get there (or if I could even remember the way)! I headed off for school an hour early because I had to stop at the ATM, as well as a small kiosk for a Mars bar and a Coke. I figured I would need some chocolate and caffeine to get me through 5 hours of Russian! I arrived at the Pushkin Institute early and found the board where my class was supposed to be posted. Everything was written in Russian, but I have a decent grasp of Russian print. I proceeded to look for my name but couldn’t find it on any roster, so I went to the class I was told I would probably be in. To make a long story short, it took about an hour before everyone was rearranged and put in their correct classrooms. It was the first day for many students, most of whom didn’t know where they were supposed to be. Our teacher was very friendly, boisterous and kind. I figured out very quickly that I knew the least amount of anyone in the class. The teacher spoke in Russian, but would translate some of it into English. I took notes in broken Russian printing, hopelessly trying to keep up, not understanding anything my teacher wrote on the chalk board because she wrote in cursive, which is VERY different from print. When I found out that Wednesday was break day, meaning I only had class 4 days a week, my day instantly got better. I headed home with a powerful resolve to study lots of vocabulary and come back on Thursday and stun everyone with my newfound knowledge of Russian. Ha.

I arrived home late because I had to stay longer at the school to pay my dues. Dougle was at the door putting his coat on to leave for his language lessons as I was taking mine off. I settled down with Canaan long enough to eat a snack and then decided to take him to play outside. The people don’t keep their kids inside just because it is cold. Everyone just gathers at the playgrounds, talking together as their kids play happily. (In the future, playgrounds will provide many opportunities for me to meet and visit with other moms and grandmothers once I can talk to them!) I threw some laundry in, got Canaan and myself dressed up in our coats (this sometimes is a long process), and we headed to the great outdoors! Canaan loved playing on the playground; after 30 minutes, much to Canaan’s protesting, we headed indoors to rest. Mommy was tired! We got in, got undressed and as I was pouring drinks for the two of us, I noticed a small trail of water. Curious, I followed it to the bathroom door, which was closed. I knew right away what had happened! Here in Russia, the washing machines are usually in the bathroom or kitchen. They are small (I can fit about 3 pair of pants in one load) and take about 75 minutes to wash one load! Also, you have to put the drain in the toilet. I had forgotten to put the drain in the toilet! While we were outside, it had gone through one wash cycle, draining the contents all over the bathroom floor. Canaan immediately started playing in the water and slipped. He hit his head on the corner of the step, so I decided quickly to get him out of all the soapy mess. I set him up to watch a Baby Einstein and proceeded to mop of the water with our towels, wringing them out in the tub. This took a bit of time. Canaan apparently got impatient with his movie and turned the computer off and headed back in to tell me about it. Oops. In the process of restarting the computer and his movie, I decided he needed a nap and put him to bed. As soon as I started to finish cleaning up all the water mess, our buzzer rings. It is the inside buzzer, meaning the person is in the building and on our floor (the 12th floor), standing outside our hallway. I open my front door and hear someone yelling at me in Russian. Exhausted from school, playing outside and sopping up water, I wearily open the door to a Russian woman who is rapidly yelling at me in Russian. This older, Russian lady invited herself into our apartment and started pointing. I figured out that water was dripping into her apartment. With gestures, I showed her what had happened and she showed me that water was dripping from her ceiling into her apartment. She took my hand and started to lead me out the door, down to her apartment. She showed me exactly where the water was leaking in her bathroom. Fortunately, she had a plastic ceiling in her bathroom and it hadn’t caused any major water damage, just a few drips into a bowl she had put down. I think she just wanted me to know what I had caused in overflowing my bathroom with water. After exchanging phone numbers, I went back up to my apartment. Dougle arrived home late because he had to meet with someone after his language lessons. I was exhausted and he was a little panicked (foreseeing having to contact the landlord and tell him what had happened), but I had just successfully survived my very first Russian crisis. We e-mailed the landlord, who later called our downstairs neighbor; there was no problem or damage done, so nothing came out of it except that we got to meet her. Her name is Tamara and I hope to take cookies to her tomorrow and talk to her with the 10 Russian words that I know!


Tuesday was my first day of language school. I found out very quickly that I know the LEAST amount of Russian than the other 9 students in my class. I hopelessly tried to keep up, taking notes in my broken Russian print as I tried desperately to understand the cursive that our teacher was writing on the board. I survived my first 5 hours of school. I arrived home and was taking off my coat as Dougle was putting his on to go to his language classes. I threw some laundry in and took Canaan out to play on the playground. When we arrived back inside, I discovered that I had forgotten to put the drain to the washer in the toilet and it had drained all over the bathroom floor and was leaking into the hall and kitchen. I started to soak it up with towels, wringing them out in the tub when our doorbell rang. It was an older lady who was yelling at me in Russian. She invited herself into my house; with gestures I showed her what had happened and she showed me that it was leaking into her apartment. She even led me downstairs to her apartment to see for myself. We exchanged phone numbers and I returned to my apartment to finish cleaning up the mess that I had made. Dougle arrived home later that evening to an exhausted and weary wife, who had just survived her first Russian crisis!

Monday, February 4, 2008


Here are about 25 pictures we've taken recently. Hope you enjoy!

Culture Shock: Here We Come!

Well, I was going to post an update on Canaan, but it is going to have to wait until tomorrow night. I am putting up some pictures, as well as a slide show, and sharing some big news. I officially went into shock today. Our friend Volodya took us to Pushkin Institute to check out some Russian Language classes for me, Lucy. It turns out that I missed the placement test they were giving today, but we assured them that I was a beginner who knew next to nothing! Class starts first thing tomorrow morning; I will be going from 9:30-2:30pm, Monday through Friday! Ahhhhh! I was not expecting to begin tomorrow, and I was not expecting to be in class for SO MANY HOURS a day. I hope I don't die. You can pray for me. Then, we realized another thing: this means Dougle and Canaan will be on their own from about 9:00am-3:00pm everyday. (I think it will take me about 30 minutes to get there- it is pretty close to our apartment.) If you haven't read on Dougle's blog (the site name is posted in the right column->), then you need to read about his "baby culture shock." Basically, he is just having a hard time getting used to getting around a big city, without a car, with a baby! But, things are going better now that we have a new stroller. This stroller is more narrow and lighter weight and is helping us get through the metro easier. So, now he and Canaan will really have some super bonding! I'll admit, I am a bit jealous: I am used to being Canaan's primary care-taker. This will be quite a change for me. And Dougle is a little nervous, because he is not used to being the primary care-taker. He knows he is jumping into a whole new realm of playing "Mommy" all day. What a change for all of us!
So, I will be getting home from school around 3pm and Dougle will be leaving to go to his Russian Language class. He will be studying one-on-one with Volodya, a member from the church who is trained in teaching Russian. He will study 2 hours a day with him. So, we will be immersing ourselves in Russian and our new schedule for the next 4 months.
Keep us in your prayers as we begin our new schedule and dive head-first into language learning; this is all for the purpose of being able to aptly communicate God's love to the people of Moscow!