In Milwaukee With Anna & Family

I spent most of the last weekend with Anna & family in Milwaukee. There was no special occasion, not big plans – we just wanted to get together. 

Also, after a long wait and anticipation, I was finally able to take Amtrak to Milwaukee. It’s tons better than it used to be taking the Van Galder bus to Madison! The ride is about 1.5 hours and very comfortable, with WiFi and electric plugs by every seat ๐Ÿ™‚

The thing I enjoyed most was the water quality monitoring. Anna is involved with the Milwaukee Riverkeeper project, and she asked me whether I would like to go with her and Nadia to do the measurements. 

It was so interesting! She has a whole case of scientific instruments and chemical reagents and the instruction book from the program.ย The monitoring includes measuring the water temperature, transparency, oxygen level, and more.ย 

I enjoyed this experience on many levels: 1) it is super cool that volunteers can participate in a real scientific project, 2) it is so important for the environment 3) I enjoyed doing something important together with Anna and Nadia 4) I was in a forest preserve, which I really miss!

I need to figure out how to get out to nature even when I am in the city!

August 29, 2021

Everybody asks me about details of Vlad’s engagement, but I do not know what else I can say except for the pictures. Vlad told us a while ago that he will come back to Chicago at the end of August to celebrate his and Anna’s 30th birthday. The date for the party was set in July, and when I told Boris, he said that he would try to come to be here for that milestone birthday. Between the European conferences he had to attend and his dental work, he ended up having only three days. First, I told him it is not worth coming, especially because the girls will be here all the time. He said something to the effect: it’s important for the kids, and I thought: who am I to forbid him from attending his children’s birthday?!


So he flew in Friday evening, just a couple of hours before the girls arrived, and yes, it was a little bit chaotic but very happy. Vlad and Dylon stayed with their friends in Oak Park, so it was quite a journey to attend the party!


Now, about the engagement. Several days before the party, Vlad called me: Mom, I wanted to let you know that I am going to propose to Dylon before the party. And also, his family will be there, so you will get to meet everybody.


To say I was happy would be not enough. I was over the moon. And how awesome it was that Boris was going to be there! Their friends’ house is gorgeous, and they could not find a better place for both the party and the proposal:)

Biking With My Girls

Anna brought her cargo bike with her (she ended up driving a truck because of that), and although driving a truck in the city is not the most enjoyable activity, the presence of a cargo bike made a huge difference! We could go anywhere on bikes! Both Sunday and Monday mornings, we would head to the Lake Front Trail to explore the playgrounds – thank you, Chicago Park District!

We biked to the Edgewater Art Fair on Sunday evening (because Nadia really wanted to listen to some concert), and we biked to Andersonville on Monday to have lunch with Vlad and Dylon.

At the Edgewater Art Fair, Nadia danced for forty minutes straight while the band was playing, and Kira followed as much as she could:). Neither me nor Anna could expect it!

Only later we thought that we could plan more outings with the cargo bike, including going to the Lincoln Park Zoo and to Navy Pier – both are relatively close to where I live, but unfortunately do not have convenient public transportation. We will plan better next time!

My Twins Are 30!

Can you imagine how I feel about this???

They will be all in town on Sunday, and that’s when we will celebrate their Big Birthday. I will hold off with the lengthy post till then – I want to add the most recent pictures. However, I posted about their birthday on the Instagram, because I wanted to mark the actual day, and here is a copy of that post:

There are nine pictures to scroll ๐Ÿ™‚

I Just Had The First Party!

This morning, Vlad and Dylon left for DC. Originally, it was for Dylon’s job, which he starts in September. So originally, we thought that they would be around for most of the summer. That’s where the plans for my move mid-summer were coming from. But then Vlad started to look for a job too, and now they are moving earlier because of him :). Vlad can’t be without a job for long, and now he will be a Beverage Manager for the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in DC.

Anna and the girls came to visit me on Friday night, and we and an almost impromptu party at my new place.I also texted my neighbors from the next building I met a couple of days before to come over and meet my family. It was so good! Good having most of the family together, good being around the like-minded people, good to meet new folks like in “before” times:). Vlad ordered a takeout which tasted great, and we finally opened my “Technologist of the Year” champaign and a couple of other bottles I had for years!

When I was packing, I found several boxes of glasses which I didn’t know about!

Oh, and Vlad got all “A” for his classes, so now he finally got his diploma in Classics!

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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!

Family Time

My daughter and my granddaughters are my guests for the past three days, and today my son-in-law joined them.

it’s a very busy time, with lot’s of cooking and cleaning, and it’s the most wonderful time spending time together, talking, reading books and drawing pictures, sledding and having fun the snow. these day, I do ot have to do sledding in the wee hours of the morning, when nobody can see me. I am a grandma with my granddaughter, and we can go sledding as all other people with children.

People are making sledding trains out of multiple sleds, and most of the time theey would turn upside down, but everybody would have fun anyway ๐Ÿ™‚

Today, Anna made scones for breakfast, as she always does. This time it was a new recipe, and it was super-delicious. Also, she made them with dry lingonberries, which I brought from Finland, and that made them even better ๐Ÿ™‚

December 1996. Gray Sanborn School

In December 1996, Vlad and Anna went on their first winter break at Gray Sanborn School. For me, it meant them being in the Children’s World for the whole day, but I believe it was included in their tuition. At least, I do not remember paying more in December.

I didn’t know anything about what they were doing at school. The parent-teacher conferences happened before Thanksgiving, and they started school right after. I could not understand what school assignments meant. It’s difficult to explain: I understood the words, but I didn’t know how the Kindergarten curriculum is organized. It was very different from Russian schools, and Vlad and Anna used to say that they “played” at school, listened to the teacher reading a book. Sometimes they would bring some drawings home.

It was a real shock for me when they brought home a newsletter for the parents from their teacher, Mrs. Kramers, when on the last day of school. The letter said: if your child does not know the alphabet, it’s time to catch up. If your child can’t count to one-hundred, it’s time. What-when-how?! How come I didn’t know?! I did not know that when they connected the numbered dots to make a Santa’s face, they were learning numbers.

I wish I could go back in time and ask their teacher how they were adjusting, how they were learning, how they communicated with other kids. I have three pictures from that winter from school, and I am not sure who made them.

In the last picture, they are sitting together with their friend Chris. Chris was in the same class with them and in the Children’s World. Actually, his family lived in the same building, as wem but we didn’t know. Chris didn’t take a bus to school; I think his mom, Janet, dropped him off, and then his parents picked him up from the Children’s World at a different time.

We learned that they are our neighbors accidentally. It happened when Pam arrived at our apartment at 8 AM one Sunday, realized that we do not have TV service on, and started to call our neighbors to find out what cable company serves our building.

Chris was Vlad’s and Anna’s best friend for the longest time, and Janet was my best friend for the longest time.

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.

At the Children’s World

The picture below was taken in the Children’s World during the first Month Vlad and Anna were attending; somebody from the staff took it and gave me way later. Vlad and Anna liked it there.

Their teachers’ names were Miss Kelly and Mister Brian; they were very young, fun, and caring and loved the kids. First, I was surprised by the small size of the place and by the fact that they were just pulling out tiny camp beds for nap time and didn’t have a separate room for the “quiet hour” ( “tikhiy chas”). I was also surprised that there were so many unstructured activities. And I was grateful for the meals.

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.