In Flight

In Flight

A lot of people in the foreign service are gearing up to move or PCS as we call it. The above is what I will have in my bag/suitcase. Euro to buy a treat or two as we transit through airports. A  luggage scale is one of the most important items to own. Life changing. A scarf, because I am always cold on the plane. A book in case my electronics die. And finally the most important thing to have in your luggage - sheets! A friend shared this secret with me a few posts ago. Arriving at your new home with some dreamy new sheets to replace the rough welcome kit ones - priceless luxury.

Finish strong

Expat women have a problem with finishing strong.  This extends to their children who are learning by example.  It is so crazy shocking to me that people check out so early.  People who are moving, like me, but also families that have been here for years and years and will be back again after their summer wherever.
I wish they would eagerly attend all their children's end of year things.  I wish they would have their children attend all their end of year things.  I wish they would buy teacher gifts to actually say thank you.  Or at the very least send a note of thanks, or say thank you in person.  This is an expat thing I find especially shocking as I set out early yesterday to buy my daughter's Girl Scout leader a gift, today I will be going someplace else for a teacher gift and an extra special gift for my daughter's recorder teacher, who she loves, loves, loves.  Does this mean I buy gifts for all her teachers?  No.  Art teacher who isn't an art teacher and second year in a row has 'lost' every single thing my daughter has created in your class?  That guy is getting nothing but a very, very poor review from me.  And that is fine.  but if your child has a good teacher, you should tell them so.
Just because you are an expat with a busy life in the spring, does not excuse being lame.  Finish strong and set a good example for your kids.  I imagine a lot of them walk around slightly embarrassed for their poor behavior.  At least I like to imagine they feel a little bad, when deep down, I know a few don't even realize they have fallen so far off the social norm tree.

Pros and Cons about life in Moscow

The New Diplomat's Wife is hosting a Pro's and Con's about your post, her's is here, and mine is below.

Top 5

1.  Moscow! The city is fantastic, there is so much to see and do, onion domes all over the place

2. The summer - seriously, do not leave town in the summer with every other expat. Summer is divine. Light from 5 am till 11, everyone goes outside and enjoys it.

3.  Russians. For real. Russians can be guarded if they don't know you, but once they know you they are very warm. Even just out and about if you need help, all you need to do is ask. Baby strollers will be lifted up the stairs by any and every man going by.

4. You can find almost everything here. Does your kid suddenly need a bathing suit, or do you need panty hose? Easily done in Moscow. And do not believe the hype, some things are a little more $$, but a lot of things are fine or even cheaper than at home right now.

5. The metro! Seriously every metro station has a story. Some have a more beautiful to look at story.  Go on a tour or something. The yellow one is my favorite.

The not so top 5

1. The winter. It hits a lot of people hard. Use your happy lamp. Light a lot of candles, put up white fairy lights and go outside! Make yourself go outside, it really does help. And do not whine about the weather, it's Russia, grow up!

2. The current expat environment. Some expats here these days are stressed, unsure of what is to come.  Some are chronically paranoid. Avoid both groups if you can. And paranoia is an extremely catchy thing.

3.  The traffic. It really can be horrific. Be prepared to do a lot on foot. Bring a granny cart and some decent walking shoes and boots.

4. Lack of nature. I am lucky as my house overlooks a little green park, but a lot of people completely lack green. It is tiring after a while. There are parks but they are a pain to get to. Try and make sure your R & R reconnects you with mother earth.

5. Sanctions. They are currently a bit of a thing. In my day to day life I can no longer buy Finnish milk that my kids will drink, the apple selection if shrinking and no parm cheese to be found. But are we eating beets and buckwheat for every meal? No, Russians eat normal stuff and it is easy to find.

A little R & R

This week we had a get away to Finland and Tallinn.  Helsinki was so good for me.  I met up with a dear friend from Beijing days.  We were in the same all girl baby group back in River Garden.  It was a delight to see our girls together again.
 For me it was truly therapeutic.  My Finnish friend makes Martha Stewart look like a hack and she can knit circles around me any day of the week.  Plus she knew me before I had my feelings hurt one too many times by unkind expat women.  So I feel somewhat back on track after sharing thoughts on making, raising children and life in general.

a secret - the pizza making type

I have been keeping a pizza making secret.  One I got from a FS friend a number of years ago.  Because of it, my pizza tastes good.  Every time and no matter where we live, and I am the woman using local flour that I cannot quite read the whole label of.  My kids won't eat frozen pizza and I think my daughter would rather die than eat Pappa J's.

These two items are my secret.  A cup or so of the King Arthur Flour Perfect pizza flour blend and 2 tablespoons of their Pizza Dough flavor.   This flour makes any flour, the world over, work better for pizza.  It stretches.  It can be thin crust.  It is a good thing.  A very good thing.  But do not replace the entire flour needed with it, as too much is not that good a thing, just a ridiculous stretchy mess of a thing.

What did you do today?

Today I helped twenty girls with their self esteem and envision a world where no one is worried about the way they look.  Free to Be Me is a great WAGGS program for girls ages 7 to 14.

I adore these girls.  Yesterday the 4th grade had a big exhibition of projects and I felt like a super star - hugs, calling of my name from all corners.  One teacher, who I don't know, actually asked who I was, because ALL the girls seemed to know me.  I made a point of going to almost everyone's presentation.  I am going to miss these girls, four in particular who I have had in my Girl Scout troop for three years.
Tomorrow I am going to spend the afternoon with them again, 2nd Annual Powder Puff Derby!

change of plans

I had big plans for the week - a 5 page paper about The Crusades, music lessons, and other fun stuff.  Instead I got a kid with the flu and two trips to make to school.  So in an effort to make the best of the 'wasted' week - I have been going gangbusters on the quilt.