The Orchid Show at Chicago Botanic Garden

It looks like last week, I was fortunate to see three shows which will be now closed. I already wrote about the Field Museum event, and now I am going to writ about the Orchid Show.

My friend Lena (Lena- One, the one who used to live in Palatine and now lives in Ann Arbor) loves orchids, and she visits the Orchid show annually. 

This year, she planned to come the first weekend it was opened (good for her and me!) I was glad, she visited (not even mentioning, it was right after my surgery number two when I needed help). I joined her and her other friend from Palatine for the first time, and we also took my Mom along. 

The show was amazing! My Mom could not believe all of those were indeed orchids 🙂

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Mom’s Birthday Celebration

On Friday, my Mom turned 85. I started to think about how we will celebrate that day way-way in advance.

Most of the time when somebody is celebrating the 85th birthday, there are lots of friends and family members who can take part in the celebration. But Mom immigrated to the US less than two years ago. Moreover, she is extremely reluctant to develop new connections, and she firmly believes that she does not understand people around her. There are very few of my friends with whom she interacts on a more or less regular basis

I knew that an essential part would be having all grandchildren there, and because of that, everything depended on Vlad’s schedule. First, he said he will be able to do Saturday, but turned out that January 11 was going to be his first day back to work after nine days off. He suggested that we do Friday night, and I said it had to be in Palatine. After all, it turned out great, because it was easier for everybody, including Anna.

It was almost a surprise party for Mom. I told her that we would do “something” for her birthday and that she should be ready by 5-30. She did not know until the very last moment, that all of her grandchildren and her great-granddaughter will be there.

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What I Did and What I Didn’t Do This Season

Many people told me that they are impressed with how much I managed to do this holiday season. Most of the time it is expressed in a rhetorical question – how I manage to find time to do “all that.” The truth is, this season I did less than I normally do. The reason why it does not seem so is that I knew ahead that won’t have time for all my usual activities, and I planned which of them I am going to reschedule or cut entirely. 

The moment Anna asked me: Mom, are you still enjoying your Christmas, or are you stressed out, I realized I need to watch for the latter. I can’t rush when choosing presents. I can’t rush when I wrap presents, because this is an enjoyable activity. I need to wrap carefully each and single cookie I am sending out because that’s the way I add my love to the recipe :).

And you know what? I am really happy with my season. I didn’t do any of the shows: either Welcome Yule, nor the Christmas Carol, nor the Nutcracker. And I am OK with that. I didn’t get a chance to listen to the Caroling at the Cloud Gate, not even once, and this is a little bit upsetting. But I am delighted that I had time to meet with many people who are near and dear to me. People are the most important, and for all the rest, there will be next year – this is not the last Christmas season! 

Mom and I had a subscription concert on Dec 20, it was a matinee, and it was one of the days when I  could not leave work earlier. I’ve exchanged out tickets for Sunday matinee, the same show. It was great since it was Dec22, and all shopping and packing was done. I could spend time with Mom, not thinking about other things in the background. I also delivered two more boxes of cookies:), and we had lunch with my friend Lena -2 (not to be taken for Lena -1 from Michigan).

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Before I Get Back to Work and Life…

I’ve already posted this video on Instagram, but Instagram saves only the first minute. Here is the full version – all three minutes :). There are lots of things I am going to write about in the next several days, which will be relatively relaxing (but only relatively:)). Still, before all these things, I just wanted to say how much I love my house at Christmas and how happy I am to be able to spend this after-Christmas time here by myself.

I spent the last couple of hours sitting by the fireplace, catching up with my friends’ updates, and drinking hot black tea with Finnish blueberry liquor. And having some parmesan cheese with the most fantastic fig jam with ginger and cardamon, a Christmas gift from my friend.

My Cookies – All Over the World!

They started to arrive! In fact, quite a bit of them arrived before Christmas, as I hoped!

My cookies in Germany
My cookies in Helsinki, hand- delivered by me
In Minnesota
In Indiana
In Michigan

Im am also informed, that they made their way to California, New York and Ohio, and overseas to Moldova, Switzerland and Bashkortostan (in Russia).

I hope now everybody believes that my cookies are real :). Happy Boxing Day and Happy New Year!

Christmas Eve in Helsinki

One of the craziest things I ever did – the flights both way with two connections, more time in the air than in Helsinki. But if I am supposed to be not just a godmother for Sonia, but a Fairy Godmother for the whole family, I have to measure to these standards!


Flying there:

O’Hare Airport
O’Hare Airport: the best things for Christmas!
I had to explain this Santa that I am going were the REAL Santa lives!
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Presents

This week, presents started to arrive, and thus the second best part of Christmas has started! One of my most favorite moments is always the arrival of the parcel from New Zealand. Because… well, because it is New Zealand!!!

My friend made this neckless for me, with a coffee cup charm. And she and the girls baked some cookies:

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Day Two in Ann Arbor – Nature

We were planning to start from the Botanic garden, but it was not opened till 10 AM, so we went to Bandemer Park first. The views of the river were stunning! We saw lots of people walking the trails, and some even biking, although I thought there is not enough room on these tiny narrow trails.

Lena
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Staying in Ann Arbor – Life is Wonderful!

This weekend I am in Ann Arbor visiting my dear friend Lena. Lena used to live in Palatine; five minutes drive from me. She is a great person and a true friend, and we have a lot in common, no matter 20 years age difference, me being a crazy workaholic, and her being a homemaker for a long time. I was very sad when they moved to Ann Arbor because of her husband’s work. She visits me from time to time, but it’s not the same. Now, two years after she moved I finally came to visit her.

On Friday after work, I took a Wolverine train from the Union station.

This train moves with speed over 110 mph, but due to the issues with its computer, we were one hour and fifteen minutes late. Lena had to stay up late to meet me at the train station, and we didn’t go to bed till 1 AM, but at 6-30 AM today we were up and ready for adventure.

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