Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Riding for Relationship

Sophia got a new bike!  

Her first “real” (made of metal) bike. This is a big event in our house - - Papa is a bike guy, making his living selling them and spending his free time riding them fast, down-hill!

To be honest, I was a little nervous when we took her out for her first lesson.  I wanted everyone to be happy - Sophia to learn, enjoy, and GO FAST!  and Anton to enjoy teaching and watching his daughter succeed at something he loves so much.  
As we headed out to the Square, the first lesson began . . .

“keep your feet moving around . . . push, push down . . . 
watch where you’re going . . . 
keep your feet moving. . . don’t stop pushing . . . 
watch out . . . 
stop . . . 
turn the handle bars . . . 
keep moving your feet round and round . . . 
don’t stop, 
keep going  . . . “
It was so easy for her to get distracted.  

At first, this really frustrated me . . . I mean we were all so excited about her new bike and wanted her to have fun and learn . . . but Sophia kept stopping and running to do something else - like climbing up our old Smolensk canons.

Or running up to a little girl and asking, 
             “What is your name?  How old are you?”

Or running to chase a little boy on his bike - 
              just for the fun of running and laughing with him.  
We kept calling her back, 
             “Sophi, come ride your bike!”  
             “We came here to ride not to climb.”  
             “Soph, maybe that boy doesn’t want you to chase
I kept thinking, even in that moment, 
             “Just let her have fun and enjoy the day.”  

But, there was this bike, see, and a task to do, and so we kept coming back to riding.
Later, as I thought about it, it struck me . . .
    Sophia was much more interested in SHARING the experience - with us, 
                    with the other children, 
                    with the earth and wind and sound.  
It was more than just doing something . . . it was SHARING.  
Isn’t that funny?!  
How often do I lecture her on sharing her toys  . . . ? 

Here is her favorite way of sharing and I’ve often missed it and really never knew to call it sharing.  
“Mama!  Watch this!  Look!”  
“My name is Sophia.  I’m 3 years old.  What is your name?”
“Papa, can you help me?”
“I have a new bike.  My old one got broke.  Do you want to ride it?”
That day Sophia did learn to ride - kept her feet moving around - and even stood up to pedal!

But the real joy was so much more - it was in the sharing!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Great Idea For A Kid’s Birthday Party

My friend, Anya, just threw a party for her son, Roma’s, 5th birthday.  The theme she chose was so cute!

Birthday Train
The kids road a “train” through Roma’s life.  Each year was a “stop” and at each “stop” the children had to guess what Roma learned to do that year - and then they did an activity that had to do with what he had learned.

For example, 
Year one . . . 
   Roma learned to walk.  
   The kids had to do a little relay where they carried water by the spoonful from a little bucket to another.
They loved this !

Next stop, year two!  
   Roma learned to feed himself . . . 
   so the kids had to learn to eat jello with a popsicle stick.
And on to year 3 - I don’t remember what was this year. . . 
Year four 
   Roma learned to read . . . 
   and each of the children had to find some little gifts hidden in the room and read the name on each (if they couldn’t read, then they were to bring the gift to Roma to read!) There was a gift filled with candy for each child!
pastedGraphic_1.pdfAnya made a train cake - really cute and delicious!
Such a simple and fun theme!  It could be used for any age. really - just choose the years you wanted to highlight and come up with cute activities for each.
Here’s hoping all your birthday parties are happy ones!

Roma had a great time trying to blow out the one trick candle on the cake!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Come to Russia and. . . Buy a Bike!

Anton recently changed jobs.  He’s gone from selling fabric to selling bicycles!  

This very well could be his dream-job!
Our dear Papa, mountain-bike-loving guy that he is - is now the business manager of: 
“Sport Club Extreme - Your Guide to the World of Extreme!”  

The club was started by two of Anton’s bike friends a couple of years ago.  Basically, it has been a small re-sale and repair shop.  But, they want the business to grow and hired Anton to do the grunt work.
First thing up:
 Make the store look presentable 
and get some new bikes to sell!

They painted, organized, got new inventory, put up a small monitor to play continuous bike videos. . .

Sophia’s favorite part of the store is the rock border on the floor - she asked her Papa if she could take some home and he said, “If your mama says it’s ok!”  (Thanks a lot, Papa!)

Anton put up a magazine rack and now the club sells Mountain Bike Magazine, Russian edition.  This is the magazine Anton translates for - see, I told you he is an all-out Mt Biker!
In the back of the store is a really nice mechanics' shop where they tune up and repair bikes.  Dima, one of the owners, tuned my bike and he did a great job - went out for my first ride of the season Sunday afternoon and she rode smooth!
Second on the list of “must do’s”:    
Host a Season Opening.  

They did this all last week  - with lots of special events.  Now they are collecting the information they received from their customers and will plan the next steps.
Do you have any ideas for the Club?  Are you a bike rider?  What do you look for in your local store/club?  What are some ways they can reach new customers?
Are you interested in investing in a small business in Russia?  We’d love to talk to you !
Do you need a bike?  Come  to Russia . . . buy a bike!  :  )

We Changed Our “Shoes!” or “Russian Driving in Spring!”

Russian Spring Shoes

Did you get some new shoes this Spring?  

In Russia it is a happy Spring day when we can clean and put away our winter boots! 

After wearing those things every day for 5 months there is such a feeling of lightness when I put on my Nikes!  
We also change the “shoes” - “peri-obivatza” - on our cars.  
We take off the snow tires and put on the regular roadies.  
And it is the same feeling of lightness with those "spring shoes"- better control - 
      like gliding on and hugging the road at the same time!
This week Anton changed our shoes and everything is different about driving in Russia.
Driving in Russia - Goodnight, I DREAMED of the freedom of driving in this country for so long! I LOVE to drive!  I grew up in East Texas and learned to drive on twisting country roads.  Windows down, Journey cranked up . . . FREEDOM!    FUN!
Country Road Driving Aside . ..   
One of my first driving lessons with my father -  I was going around our Spring Hill “S-curves” and didn’t use the breaks AT ALL!  My dad just about had a heart attack and yelled, “What are you DOING!?”  I said, “I didn’t think you were supposed to use a break around sharp curves!”  It’s amazing my dad let me keep driving!  (Thanks, Dad!)
Back to Russia. . . 
Now, I feel like I’m learning to drive all over again . . . 
    Snow tires - We never had these in East Texas.  And actually DRIVE on snow and ice . . . are you kidding? Everything closed down and we sat inside drinking hot chocolate and listening for the school closing reports!
Snow tires make driving safer but they don’t let you cling to those curves, baby!  : ) 
    Pot holes - Ok, I just thought I knew what pot holes were.  Those little tiny holes in the  Texas road were wimpy pip-squeaks in the world of road hazards. 
Here, we have seismic shifts in road plating that result in death traps of astronomical size. The ice and snow fill these up and winter driving is pretty smooth, but as soon as the Spring thaw begins, the holes appear - like asphalt and gravel monsters breaking free of their winter homes.
Driving in Spring and Summer is a constant focus of attention so as not to hit a crater and blow a tire, or worse, your whole suspension! 

There is one stretch of road near our house where the road now consists of one lane. Everyone has to ride on one side to avoid falling in a hole at least 3 ft wide and 2 feet deep!  Some other spots in Smolensk the traffic speed decreases to about 10 miles p/hr while we all slowly weave around pot holes and “road waves” - at one spot we all just drive up on the sidewalk to miss a huge hole that covers most of the road!  
   CRAZY DRIVERS - Here is my latest theory about Russian drivers . . . 

Only Child Syndrome!  

For many years, families here couldn’t afford to have more than one child.  A couple of generations grew up as only children surrounded by parents and grandparents who catered to their every need and want, resulting in some of the most self-centered drivers on the planet!  (no offense intended to any only children out there - I, too, have an only child and hope to raise her to respect others)

Remember the bad stretch of road I mentioned above - the one that limits the road to one lane?  Well, last night I was driving with Sophia home from a visit with family and when we got to that place in the road, I noticed a silver Volga, license plates with a 1099-something (yes, I tried to memorize it). He was behind me was flashing his lights, signaling me to GET OVER IN THE OTHER LANE AND LET HIM PASS!!!  I couldn’t believe it and said out loud in the car, “What!? No WAY, DUDE!”  (Like I was just going to risk damaging my car so he could go a little faster . . . unbelievable!)  
I stayed in my lane.  

When we got to the intersection about 100 ft up, he whipped over in front of me, barely missing my front end and almost hitting the car in front of me.  I looked over and there were 20-something year old guys looking at me and laughing!  At that point, I tried to memorize the license plate and wished so hard I knew some “kreesha” in the town!  That stuff just makes me crazy!
So, this Spring as you drive - enjoy your SPRING SHOES - and remember those of us dodging pot holes and crazy drivers!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Before My Very Eyes

She a totally different little girl. 

I mean, I’ve known her for 3 years now - all her life - 
                                                                   but, yesterday, I looked at her . . . and she is different.
She has fundamentally changed.

Wait, how did that happen?”
I’ve been scanning my brain, my memory, trying to picture what she was like before this big change.  
I can’t put my finger on it.
Just look at those eyes, they know something now.  

I’m telling you, there has been a major change just this week!
This has happened before, you know.  
When she was around 6 months and again at 1.  

But this time was different - I was with her 24/7 for the last week - we both had colds and Papa was on a business trip.  
I was watching her all the time . . . and, suddenly, one minute she was a new, brighter, more “with it” little girl.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...