Hettie’s Reflections – Blog Posts


Welcome to Hettie’s Reflections!

Hello! My name is Hettie, I was born and raised in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and I emigrated to the United States in October 1996. I live in Palatine, IL and work in Chicago.

I’ve been very active in the Russian blogosphere, and my American friends keep asking me when I am going to tell my story in English. Well, the time has come.

I am going to write my story for my granddaughter Nadia, and for all my American friends, who has been so supportive through all these years, and hope that my children, Igor, Vlad and Anna will help me through this journey.

My Russian blog used to have “a lot of everything”, because first, I just like to write a little something every day, reflecting on everything happening in the world around me, and second – because I believe that people trust me more knowing me as a person. Everything I’ve done in my life so far, and everything I am doing every day, made me – and still making me the person I am.

This being said, although this blog is intended mostly to record our family history, there will be still “a lot of everything” here. However, for those who is interested in the history solely, I will paste all the links to the Hettie’s Timeline page, which will hopefully allow to read all these entries in a chronological order.

The links to my interviews and videos (mostly professional) will be pasted on this page, and also for those who is interested what I am doing in my professional life, feel free to check out my blog The World of Data.

My blog Hettie’s Cooking is hardly a cooking blog, at least I do not update it often. However, some of my legendary recipes, like “Mom’s soup”, can be found there.

Enjoy πŸ™‚


My new house has a bike room, and there are more bikes than people :). Biking was something I greatly anticipated as a part of my new life.

However, I have no sense of direction, and it always takes me a while to learn my routes.
The Lakefront Trail breaks about 2.5 miles from my house, and the first thing I wanted to figure out was how to reach the starting point.

On Thursday, Boris and I decided to give it a try. I checked Google maps, and there was a safe route, all using the bike paths. Unfortunately, about 1/3 into it, I didn’t trust Google and turned earlier than I should have. When I tried to get back on track, the route planner started to direct us to Sheridan. We even got there by accident, but we quickly realized our mistake. Then, it was all trial and error, and the whole trip took us 80 min instead of 35!

Boris left on Friday, but I still had to figure out how to do it right. I went out on Sunday morning, this time following the instructions, and got there and back in 40 min (I only lost my way once on the way back, but was quick to get back on track).

I am so glad I can bike here! And the surrounding is so beautiful!

Did I Mention There Is A Gym?

Right there, on the ground level! Since I already knew about that I gave Anna most of my home gym equipment. However, I also knew that there are some things missing, so I brought them in – the TRX, my weighted yoga ball and the yoga ball pumps (and I pumped all of them). Also, an ab wheel. And a couple of rollers.

I also brought my wall mirror, and and talked to the association about the installation.

I can even describe how nice is it to have such a nice gym in your house!

This Place Starts To Look LIke Me:)

As I already mentioned, the first night in the new place was without the heat, which we all survived. In the morning, Anna went to the Charmer’s Cafe across the street and picked up all the breakfast options she found there :). We all had breakfast around the partially folded dining room table.

Then, John and Kira went back to Milwaukee, and Anna and Nadia stayed to help us with more unpacking and move stuff around. One of the bookshelves had to be delivered to Igor, and empty boxes went to my mom – her move is on May 23. We also asked her to pick up a couple of things from my old house, which we left behind. That ended up being a bad idea, but at that time, I thought we need them.
Then the girls left, and Boris and I continued unpacking and finding places for things.

All my new neighbors are exceptionally friendly and helpful. Funny story: it turned out that this lady who “sold” the unit to me by describing the community and how she would never move – she liked me as well! And after our short conversation, she told the other neighbors that she hopes “this nice lady” will buy the place.

We tried to prioritize things that had to be done together before Boris’s departure. That included the things I could not do without him, like assembling a sleeper sofa and agreeing on our “design guidelines.” The only thing we should have done while he was here and we didn’t was hanging one more mirror.
With books, we decided that we will just put them on the shelves randomly and will figure out the specific order later.

Most importantly, we agreed on how the living room should look like. I made a point not to insist on something I have in mind but to make sure that that’s what Boris likes as well. For the sunroom, we are still missing the side blinds (this size is out of stock in IKEA for months) and the KALLAX small units (I am almost ready to pay a double price on Amazon, especially now when I realized I do not need three of them, but two at max, or maybe even just one). Anyway – that’s how it looks now:

The yoga mat was there temporarily, I forgot to remove it πŸ™‚
This sofa can be converted into a full bed
There is enough space to display everything I want!
Boris’s desk and bookshelves
My New breakfast place

Organizing My New Place

Boris went back to Finland today, and until the very last minute of his stay, we were trying to do as much as possible of unpacking, organizing things, hanging them up, etc.

Some parts of my house finally start to look like mine :). I will try to post more pictures tomorrow. Now I am tied. I sat down on an armchair by the window of our bedroom and fall asleep. I think now it will be a good idea to go to bed for real πŸ™‚

Move In Progress

I moved on Monday, but there is still so much to do that I can’t tell I moved.

The total number of boxes (not counting luggage, bags, etc.) was 155. I am not kidding. One hundred fifty-five. And that’s after tons of things thrown away.

The time window for the movers was from 8-30 to 10, but they came at 11 AM. and loaded the truck till 3-30 PM. When we arrived at my new home, the furnace was not working, and it took me a while to realize that it’s not the ecobee, but the furnace itself. And then, one of our heaters was shutting down the circuit breaker, and then all the outlets in the bedrooms would go off.

Then, the shower in the smaller bathroom stopped working.

But – I moved!!! A million thanks to my family – I don’t know what I would do without them!

Packing int Palatine

Unpacking on Rogers Park

What Was Going On In The Past Three Days?

I was packing, and also I was sick. So a couple of weeks ago, I thought how ironic it would be to get sick just for the time of move! And I did. And yes, I tested for COVID, and the result was negative. But there are other sicknesses except for COVID :). And I couldn’t just stop packing and sleep it through – I had to pack!
The absolute worst day was Saturday when Boris came. I wore a mask inside because I didn’t want to make him sick, COVID or not. We didn’t see each other since mid-February, and Boris hasn’t been to the US since November 2019. And here I am, having the worst cold ever!

Other move updates since the last post: the painting is finished. I haven’t been there yet, but Vlad says it looks fantastic :). I texted the person who fixed our dishwasher, and he said that there is a switch under the sink. I think a person who fixed the disposer accidentally pressed it. So, the dishwasher works, and the fridge works.

The cleaning ladies came today and scrubbed the place for four and a half hours, and now all is ready for the move. The internet was installed today. The sofa was delivered yesterday, although it was quite an adventure, so I will tell you about it separately. And looks like we are packed :). On

Moving Progress And What’s Not

On Tuesday, the painting of the new place has started. Also, my new appliances: a washer/dryer combination, and microwave, were delivered and installed.

Also, my new cleaning lady came for the first time, and we agreed on the schedule and the fees. I also asked her to do the pre-move cleaning on Sunday.Β 

That was great progress. On Wednesday, the painting continued, and the internet installation was scheduled for today.

I took a super-early train to get there to open the gated to the painters, ANd when they came in, they told me that the rooms with the cable are not accessible because there s wet paint, and nobody should stay there, even them. It was 20 minutes before my appointment slot, and I rushed to reschedule. They told me that the next available slot is going to be next Wednesday, and I was devastated. But just five minutes later, they called me and told me that there is a slot on Sunday afternoon, which I gladly grabbed, although I still have no idea who will be available at that time :).

Other damages of today:

  • the light in the fridge is out (hopefully, just the light)
  • I could not start the dishwasher
  • A zipper on my irreplaceable backpack broke.

Yes, I know, I have to survive:)

First Night At The New Place

On Monday, I spent my first night at my new home. It was an instantaneous decision. I knew I had to be there very early in the morning on Tuesday, and Anna was here with a truck and was going to drop some stuff there on her way home. So I decided that she can also drop off me πŸ™‚

I started to pack for the night. Boris always jokes about the number of “tubes with liquids” I need for my morning routine, so I will not even say how many of them I had to take with me. I’ll just say, there were more than one bag :).

I was surprised by how well this apartment holds the warmth. The weekend was very warm, but on Monday, it started to cool down, and even more during the night. However, I had to open the window, and it was still warm in the morning, and the heat didn’t turn on.

The first thing I did in the morning was going down to the gym. There, I met a neighbor who is also exercising at 5 AM :). The gym is great; there is everything I could need.

Then, I went for a walk around the neighborhood. I came close to the lake (I did it twice, at my street and another).

Continue reading “First Night At The New Place”

Anna Is My Hero!

The past two days were extremely eventful. On Sunday, when Vlad came to clean up the garage, I realized how busy he was with school work and that I shouldn’t have asked him to come, although I had to ask him. I was thinking about asking Anna whether she could come but then decided that she had way too many things on her plate to ask her to do more. But Anna was a hero and figured out our situation, and without me asking her, she announced that she is coming. She also forbade Vlad to do anything for my move until he is done with his school assignment, and she made arrangements with Igor to cover the days when the painters will be in. 

Then she came and cooked lunch to last for three days and took care of dozens of things on my list. 

I can’t even describe what a relief it was. That was the first time in weeks when I could focus on work during the work hours. I was able to complete a week worth of tickets in one day πŸ™‚

Another thing I didn’t do with Vlad was one more IKEA trip – at least I needed binds for the new house. So I asked Anna to go, and a small miracle happened. I already gave up on a smaller sleeping unit, but we chatted with Anna about it, and since I could not find the right one to show her, she suggested we ask the store associate.

This unit was unavailable for weeks and not on display, and when we first asked, the associate told us it was discontinued. But then she clicked and clicked and said that they have one, and what is color covering we want? 

We ordered the color I wanted from the very beginning, and it will be delivered on May 19! I still can’t believe we did it!

We picked several other items which I needed for the new house, including some blinds to try (we were still not sure about the sizes, they are a little bit tricky.

And then we had dinner at IKEA – that was the first time since the beginning of the pandemic!