My Birthday Celebration

It feels like the whole birthday week with Boris being here since the 14th, with so many birthday wishes and things I’ve done during the week. On Saturday, Vlad and Anna organized a big party for me, and many of my friends came.

There were some dramatic moments with an original venue going out of business and too many people being unable to come due to COVID (either being sick or quarantining or deciding not to risk). Still, it was a great event, and I am very thankful to Vlad and Anna for organizing it!

I think there are more pictures around, and if I finally collect them from everyone taking pictures, I will post more :).

Mom’S Birthday

Mom turned eighty-eight on Tuesday. Since she always refused to celebrate her birthday before the actual birthday (the superstition that you can die not reaching it in this case), and since next weekend didn’t work either, Igor and I took her out on the day of her birthday.

Fortunately, since Igor discovered Eurasia cafe, we can always go there for the food that mom likes. We ordered several different Russian dishes, and gave her our presents, and everything was good. At leat, she seemed happy and thanked us. Although for the next two days, when I talk to her on the phone it sounds like she found some reason to be unhappy, but I am pretending I do not notice:).

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A Second Christmas

As we had December 26 as the “Christmas day observance,” I declare it to be two Christmas Days this year:). And on December 26, I went o Milwaukee to spend a day with Anna’s family. I brought all my presents, the presents from Igor, the bracelets my mom gave to the girls, and two giant chocolate Santas from Boris. And also, I had my skates with me, because we planned to skate together, so although it was a day trip, I took a bigger suitcase than I usually take to Helsinki.

The girls decorated this snowflake for me
And Anna supplied me with enough flavored coffee to last until the next season.

And we went skating together, although it took four attempts to find the right size for Kira, and she refused to skate at the end πŸ™‚

And today was the final day of my Christmas marathon: I had mom and Igor over for tea, and we exchanged presents.

Two of my cookie parcels are “almost” delivered, but at least in the destination country, and the Ukrainian parcels are still god-knows-where, but all of the remaining parcels are delivered. Unfortunately, there are three unclaimed boxes that were intended for local people who ended up not coming to pick them up. I know that some people didn’t come due to the weather, but you know what -we will eat them for a change πŸ™‚

Also, I received a parcel from Ireland today, and more postcards, and I hope that some might come before the end of the year!

Doing Christmas Things With Mom

For the first three weeks of December, my life was so full of different activities that I rarely came home before nine. I told mom that I would take her out to do Christmas things during Christmas week.

Since she no longer takes public transit alone, I could only take her out when I work from home and can pick her up.
It all worked great on Wednesday, and I took her to the Chrstkindle Market and the Chicago Christmas tree. The weather was ideal – it was around 30F, and no wind or snow, and we spent more than two hours outside. I was really glad that mom didn’t complain about “how everything is so expensive” and seemed to accept that the holidays allow spending more on fun things. She liked the food and enjoyed looking at the Christmas ornament without looking at the price. She thanked me for the good time and told me that she felt the Christmas spirit and the holiday atmosphere. Which is more than I could expect, so I am marking it as a success.

(I was hoping for fewer crowds, but by that time, everybody knew that the snowstorm is coming and that Wednesday would be effectively the last day of the market)

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Weekend Highlights

It’s already Wednesday evening, and I still didn’t blog about our weekend with Anna’s family. We all had a great time, but somehow I find it difficult to put it in words – what exactly was so good? I had many worries that somebody might get sick, including me, or something else won’t work, but everything worked perfectly. 

Maybe not “perfectly,” because the weather was not cooperating, and Kira didn’t get enough sleep the first night, but still, it’s amazing how many boxes we checked!

Still, the best part was having all these tiny precious moments. Kira said: Baba’s house is so beautiful! – when she saw all the Christmas lights I left on. Nadia loved the kitty purse I bought for her in Helsinki. Both girls marched to the kitchen after they woke up and hung out with me, letting the parents have some sleep. Nadia said to me while we were in Ryan Educational Center at the Art Institute: Baba, please don’t help me; I want to be challenged. 

Here is a list of all the Christmas activities from the past weekend:

  • Merry Merry Chicago concert on Friday night
  • Having people over on Saturday mornings
  • Going to the Steadfast Tint Soldier at the Lookingglass theatre (a beautiful show, but for a little bit older children or adults)
  • Β Having late lunch/early dinner with Vlad
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The First Christmas Concert

I got tickets for the “Merry Chicago” concert in the CSO for Nadia and me on December 16. It was a little bit of a stretch because they could not leave until Nadia’s school was over, but it ended up being not a little bit but a lot of a stretch. To be precise, Nadia was dropped off in front of the CSO a minute before the concert. But we were not late, and we had terrific seats in the second row on the aisle.

It’s hard to believe, but Nadia sat through the whole 1 hour 50 min concert completely focused on the music! Even during the intermission, after we walked around for a little while, she insisted on returning to our seats and anticipated the concert’s second part.

And nowadays, the Christmas concert is very different from when my kids were kids – there is no story, no dances, so it is pretty much music all the time – shorter pieces, for sure, but still!

Christmas Rush, As Usual

The past week was another week of extreme sleep deprivation, packing and mailing cookies, writing postcards, and figuring out and ordering the remaining presents.


In addition, there was a holiday party in the youth shelter on Tuesday, a party at Igor’s office on Wednesday (I went to see his workplace), and a VIP reception at the Chicago Architectural Center on Thursday!

The weekend was “Christmas in Chicago” for Anna and her family. With infections rising in Illinois and worldwide, I worried till the last moment that something might not work out, but nobody got sick, and we had a fantastic weekend! Although we had to skip some of the things we had planned due to the extremely cold weather, most of our plans worked, sometimes better than expected. More to follow.