Pictures From September 1995

I promised several people, including my children, that I would post more pictures. I am always trying to combine pictures with stories, but I can’t say much about these, except that it was a family gathering in our house. Judging by the guest list and the fact that this picture was taken in fall 1995, it must be Igor’s tenth birthday.

We lived in extremely crowded conditions. This one room of fewer than 200 sq ft was the place for everything. All four of us slept there. All our belongings were stored there, all the desks, including mine for working from home, all the toys, the piano – everything was packed in this one room. Our beds and the desks were folding, the jungle gym, which you can see on that picture could be lifted up.

From left to right: Aunt Kima, her son Dodik, my Mom, me, Igor Sr (Igor’s father), Sasha – my cousin’s husband.

The next two pictures look almost identical, but I could not choose one, so I decided to post both. On the first one, you can see me in the far left corner. The older kids from left to right: my late nephew Petia (my cousin Ania’s older son), my half-brother Slava (my father’s son) and Igor. The smaller kids from left to right: my niece Iya, Anna and Vlad. (Vlad has a cold sore on his lip).

Everybody is dressed warmly because all the houses had (and still have) a centralized heating system, which was usually turned on only in October, so September would end up being one of the coldest months.

A Girl With a Monkey

I’ve scanned lots of photographs from 1995, and now I can continue with our family story. Here I want to show just one picture to illustrate “how things were” back then.

I am coming to daycare to pick up Vlad and Anna, and their teacher tells me that there was a photographer with a monkey (?!) and that he took a picture of Anna with a monkey – see below.

I do not even know why and how, and why anybody would find this idea appealing. Anyway, I didn’t know anything about that. Anna said she wanted a picture with the monkey, but then she got scared, which is also visible on the picture, and then she didn’t want to back out of that!

My historical posts are being published in random order. Please refer to the page Hettie’s timeline to find where exactly each post belongs, and what was before and after.

The Fall of 1995. Anna’s Ballet Classes

Since now Anna is wondering where her older daughter got the idea of wanting to be a ballerina, I have to remind her about her ballet classes.

Here is the story. My cousin Anna is a musician, and one of her side jobs in 1996 was playing piano for ballet classes in one of the nearby schools. For my life, I can’t remember whether the lady who ran these classes was affiliated with the school, had an independent “circle,” or whatever. But she ran these ballet classes for children of different ages, and the youngest dancers were six. As an exception, she would admit children who were five and a half and were exceptionally gifted.

Let me tell you that there was some rationale behind that age limitation.

For smaller children, coordination of the movements of different parts of their bodies is challenging. Anna just turned four, and she wanted to be a ballerina :). I was trying to teach her that when asked, she has to tell that she was five and a half, but I didn’t hold much hope. My cousin suggested that we will pretend we were a little bit late and that I should push Anna into the audition room when all the children already start to repeat to movements. Then, my cousin was hoping the instructor will already like Anna and will be more willing to make an exception. She showed Anna the moves which she most likely would have to repeat during the audition, and Anna was practicing on her own, tirelessly. It was unbelievable.

Continue reading “The Fall of 1995. Anna’s Ballet Classes”

Adding Some Missing Pictures

I was going to write a blog post about our travel to Poland in 1995, but when I started to look for the photos, I found two more, which I forgot to scan. One is from Vlad’s and Anna’s daycare from 1993 (it was taken at the same time as this picture). I hope everybody can recognize Anna and Vlad in the first row. A boy sitting between them, Dima Golyak, was from a “socially unstable family,” and I remember the teachers were constantly worrying about him. If I remember correctly, both teachers were Tanias. They were great with kids, kind, caring, and usually added a lot of common sense to rediculous rules. A girl in the red dress in the first row is a daughter of Tania, which is on the right 🙂

Another one is Igor’s school picture of most likely 1994. Because of what I’ve explained about the schools for special needs kids, the classroom size was small. Most likely, two boys wear the same kind of vest because it was a part of a set of clothes given to the boarders as a state provision.

It’s so weird to see that the kids are not smiling on these pictures, but that was a norm at that time.

The last picture I missed is another Vlad’s and Anna’s daycare picture from fall 1994:

I like it a lot 🙂

My historical posts are being published in random order. Please refer to the page Hettie’s timeline to find where exactly each post belongs, and what was before and after.

Pictures From Summer 1995

For the benefit of my older granddaughter, I am skipping right to the summer of 1995, so that I could show some pictures. The first two where taken in June 1995.

Anna, Ania, Igor and Vlad in the Summer Gardens (Letniy Sad)

My friend Olga had a daughter Ania, who was just several months younger than Vlad and Anna. We lived in the same building and knew each other since our children were babies. When they grew a little bit older, we started to plan our adventures together. On that day, we took subway (Metro) to the city center to the Summer Gardens, the oldest park in Saint Petersburg

On our way back home, with the Church on Blood on the background. Guess, how I know that it’s on the way back, not on the way there?

The next picture was taken later the same summer, when we were staying in the University boarding house. Here we are visiting the Peterhoff park with the fountains. We met Inna and her daughter Kira when staying in the boarding house a year earlier, and once again, now the kids were old enough to take longer trips.

Igor, Vlad, Kira and Anna in the Lower Park of Peterhoff

My historical posts are being published in random order. Please refer to the page Hettie’s timeline to find where exactly each post belongs, and what was before and after.

Reflecting on The Rest of 1994, and Welcoming 1995

Once again, there is a gap of several months when I have no pictures of the kids. The daycare picture was taken at the end of September, and the one below – on January 1, 1995.

During fall 1994, I was still working at the Operations Research Lab of the University. That job still paid close to nothing, and I was still in constant search of gigs. Also, I resumed my postgraduate studies and was slowly but surely getting through all of the required exams.

That fall, Anna first developed her chronic bronchitis, which she had for many years after. Nobody could tell me what the reason for that condition was, but one of the hypotheses was that she had an underdeveloped lung because she was a premie. As a result, any slight cold would develop into the obstruction bronchitis within several hours from onset. Most of the time, a pediatrician won’t recognize that bronchitis is coming, and I had to learn how to diagnose it.

It was scary, and it was not something you could get used to. Roughly every six weeks, it looked like your child is dying. There were no children’s versions of the regular medicine for that condition (and no inhalers, if you are curious about it). I would buy the pills, which helped with the spasms and crushed them into powder. I always had these pills both in my purse and on the nightstand. And when Anna would start coughing non-stop and wheezing: “Mom, open my mouth!” I had to manage to get that power in her mouth, along with some water. I knew that it would help, but it was scary each and single time.

I learned how to listen to her breath and catch an onset of yet another bronchitis. I learned to perform a special massage, which would help to get mucus out of her airways.

As a side effect, it would often happen that I could not send her to the daycare, and then I would take her with me to my postgraduate classes. One of the classes was philosophy, and I had to take an exam at the end. Fortunately, that class taught by the same professor Alexeev, whom I had during my undergrad studies, and who secretly taught us about existentialism :). Anna was sitting there very quietly, and I was always allowed to take her to my class. Could that trigger her future interest in social studies?!

Back to the picture below.

Our family tradition continued: everybody celebrated the New Year’s Eve with their immediate families or elsewhere, but on January 1, everybody would gather at the Aunt’s Kima house to celebrate her birthday with the extended family.

I know that I had several pictures from that particular gathering, but now I can only find that one. I have no idea why Igor is not on that picture because he was most definitely present.

Vlad and Anna wear animal costumes because, as I’ve already mentioned, costumes for the New Year go back to the old tradition Sviatki – the time between Christmas and New Year. Anna is in a squirrel mask, and Vlad wears a hood with bunny ears, and both of their faces are painted with animal features.

In the back row from left to right: my cousin Dodik (David), Kima’s son, with his wife Alla, then Aunt Maya, Uncle Slava’s wife. In the middle row – I, Aunt Kima, and my mom.
My shoulders were not intended to be bare to that extent, it’s just my dress pulled down, and I was still very skinny back then. I made that dress myself. I got the garment as a fee for teaching English to the son of one of “a friend of a friend.” It required only minimal work to fit my small body, and it looked spectacular, or at least I thought so back then.

Here was the start of 1995, and many things were going to happen that year.

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My historical posts are being published in random order. Please refer to the page Hettie’s timeline to find where exactly each post belongs, and what was before and after.

Daycare Pictures

Two pictures taken at Vlad’s and Anna’s daycare (aka Kindergarten)

Anna and Vlad are first from the left in the first row, and their later best friend Kolya is a second from right in the upper row. Vlad and Anna just turned three, Kolya is almost a year older. Interestingly, I remember all of the kids, their characters, but I do not remember any other names.

Vlad and Anna are dressed in “humanitarian aid,” and Anna wears shorts which was not common for the girls at that time. Almost everybody else wear the clothes from the stores, as nice as their parents could get. The boys wear button-downs and dark shorts, which was a standard, and most of the girls wear dresses and tights.

My historical posts are being published in random order. Please refer to the page Hettie’s timeline to find where exactly each post belongs, and what was before and after.

Summer 1994: Some Pictures

I was telling about the University boarding house here, and for the next four summers, we would follow the same routine – staying there for two three-week sessions. It was all the same no hot water and tons of cockroaches situation, but since my living conditions in the city did not improve, it still worked great for me. 

After I was fired from Urbansoft, I never had a stable source of income. The University paid close to nothing, and all the gigs were just gigs, but I was always ready for some extra work – more work meant more money. Thereby, even though I had four weeks of paid vacation in the University (and in any case attendance was optional), I had to take extra work whenever an opportunity would present itself.

The gigs tend to appear at a most inconvenient time, such as when I was about to go to the University boarding house, or when I just moved there. It would mean I have no time to relax, and that I have to craft a way to work without any equipment. 

Fortunately for me, half a dozen teenage girls who stayed in the same boarding house loved Vlad and Anna and didn’t mind being a collective babysitter. Most of the gigs I had at that time involved technical writing. I had decent English, good enough to write User Guides, Helps, and How-to manuals. At one point, Boris was contracting for an Italian entrepreneur Dr. Conrad (I have no idea what kind of a Doctor he was). They were developing an HTML-editing tool called HighDoc, and I wrote all documentation for it. 

There was a verbal-agreed pay for each portion of that work, and Dr. Conrad would bring payments in cash (in US dollars) when he came to Russia. He always tried to delay payments as long as possible, and I had these cinema-featured Italian arguments with him, yelling and pleading. And not just me, all people who worked for him did the same. The last project I did with him was so interesting that it requires a separate blog post. But now we were in summer 1994, and Vlad and Anna were two months shy of being three, and Igor was almost nine. 

I still didn’t own a camera and didn’t take any pictures. Only when Boris came with his camera, we would get some. So all the pictures below show one day when we went for a long “hike” to the Old Peterhoff park. 

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So, twenty-five year ago we all wore socks with sandals :). Oh, and by the way, that blouse was timeless. It traveled with me to the US, and I only retired it a couple years ago! It was dark purple, with tiny buttons, and I loved it.
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Anna was always the first to climb a tree
Continue reading “Summer 1994: Some Pictures”

1993: New Daycare

After more than two months break, I am resuming my historical posts. My granddaughter Nadia finally internalized the idea that there were times when her mother was a little girl, and that I am her mother’s mother. Thereby she started to ask lots of questions about what her mother was doing at her age. And since Nadia is almost three, I need to cover the missing period. That being said, welcome back to 1993.

As I mentioned in this post, our first daycare closed in January 1993. All the kids were transferred to another daycare, which was also subsidized by one of the industrial giants of the city. There was no Antie Galya there, but the teachers were reasonably good, and one of the teachers was great, and also she happened to live in the same building with us. That came handy because the new daycare was further away from our house, and to get there, I had to take a bus with two toddlers, and no double stroller. That teacher would occasionally help me to get the kids to the nursery, and sometimes, when only one child was sick, she would take another one to the daycare. 

Anna and Vlad were about to turn two in summer, which meant they could attend the “older nursery group,” and one of them was pretty close to our house. That type of daycare was called Kindergarten (Detsky Sad in Russian), and they would take children from two to six or seven, depending on when the child was starting grade school. Theoretically, they all were supposed to have “junior nursery,” but most of the mothers were opting to stay at home with smaller children. Because of the combined reduction in supply and demand, it was challenging to place a child under two to any daycare, but after two, it was much easier. 

Anna and Vlad started to attend their “Kindergarten Number 24” in September 1993 and continued until we left for America. 

Below is their first official picture, taken October 1993. Colored photos were unusual and expensive, and I only purchased two copies. And I do not have any more pictures till the next summer.

My historical posts are being published in random order. Please refer to the page Hettie’s timeline to find where exactly each post belongs, and what was before and after.