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.

Getting Together at a Distance

Vlad made a surprise appearance in Palatine on Saturday. I know the story – he and Anna have ordered some stuff from Vanille for me, and then Vanille went on quarantine. Then Vlad decided that he and Dylon will just come and surprise me.

I am not sitting at home all the time, even during quarantine, and when Vlad arrived unannounced, I was not at home :). So I kind of figured that all out, when he called :).

We met outside, all of us wearing masks. Vlad brought me some French pastries and a bunch of red carnations for the VE Day celebration. I gave half of them back to him so that my mom could see then when we all get on the zoom meeting. He also brought a box of macaroons and told me that he wanted to give it to my neighbor, who was driving me around all the time before and after my surgeries. She was surprised and happy :).

It was a bittersweet encounter; it’s hard not to be able to hug and kiss, and to keep the distance. I am glad that Vlad and Dylon came down here, but I can’t wait till we can meet for real.

We decided not to tell my mom that Vlad was here. I told her that Vlad sent pastries and flowers by Uber (they do such deliveries these days), and I gave her Vlad’s flowers to take home after our quiet family celebration.

The Weekend Worries

On Friday, after I called my eye doctor, then next thought which occurred to me was thought about Igor’s moving to the new place. At the end of February, Igor received a note that the lease on his apartment id not going to be renewed. For historical accuracy, I have to mention that the level of hoarding was unacceptable by his landlord standards. We all had a couple of weeks of worries, mostly because we were wondering whether his current landlord will give him a bad reference. I offered to co-sign, and he secured one place in Rogers Park. A couple of days later, it turned out that another place approved him as well, but he already signed with this Rogers Park place.

I gave him a hard time about signing the new lease starting from March 15, because it meant paying for an extra two weeks. He was not ready to move on the 15th anyway, and Vlad told him he would help him to move on the 22nd.

Continue reading “The Weekend Worries”

Post-surgery Day

Now about Wednesday. I already had some vision in the right eye even before I went to bed, and in the morning, I’ve realized it is now the same as in the left eye, maybe slightly better. The eye overall felt tons better than the first one after the surgery. I do not know what the surgeon did wrong the first time, and I am not going to try to find out:)


I had a follow-up in the morning, Vlad got into really bad traffic, and was late. But since now he is an excellent planner, we still arrived virtually on time. This time we didn’t have to wait for the doctor. My eyes were checked, and the right one appeared to be the same about -2.75.
Although this time, the surgeon sat with me and asked what questions I had, it didn’t feel like he was interested in me. I asked all I needed to confirm (eyes dryness, when I can resume my training, makeup, etc.) I will have a follow-up with him in three months, and the retina doctor follow up in four months, and endless visits with my eye doctor to finalize my prescription (which might take 4-5 more weeks)

I needed to take my mom to the same eye doctor for her annual, and I figured out I will make her appointment on the same day since Vlad will be there anyway. So when I realized I would need to adjust my glasses for the right eye, I called my doctor. They said they are booked 100% until Tuesday, “but let’s see what the doctor will say.” I also called the Lenzcrafters to see whether their lab person will be in, but they said he is in on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday only. Which meant I wouldn’t be able to get glasses that day.

Continue reading “Post-surgery Day”

Sweet Stopover

Yesterday, I had my second cataract surgery. I think it went somewhat better than the first one, but I will share more details after today’s follow up.

That time, the surgery was earlier in the day, we were supposed to show up at 8-15AM. And when we were going back, it was almost lunch time. I suggested we will go out, just because we haven’t done so for a while. We tried a couple of places on Palatine, but there was nothing we really liked.

So we decided to do what I actually do sometimes, and looks like Vlad does sometimes as well: having ice-cream for lunch and instead of lunch 🙂

Both of us had affogato, I had int with coffee ice-cream, and Vlad – with vanilla (only mine is shown), and then Vlad had a scoop of strawberry ice-cream, and I had a blueberry pie one. Two-cource lunch, I’d say 🙂

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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A Picture of Our First Christmas

I finally found one picture from our first Christmas Eve in the US, which I described here. I’ve already added the picture to the original post, but for since in was published a week ago I thought it’s worth to show this picture separately.

I do not know where are the rest of the pictures, I only have this one – Val posing with Anna and Vlad.

You can see our tree with paper ornaments, and a star, and a string of lights, and a garland. The holiday outfits were given to us by my co-workers with older children, and the hat was made of plastic (came from some game set), but Vlad loved it:)

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.

About My First Christmas

Knowing that I was born in January 1963, you might think that my first Christmas was on December 25, 1953. But in fact, my first Christmas happened only in 1996, keep reading to find out why – this is going to be the longest post you ever read in my journal.

Before the October revolution of 1917, Orthodox Christianity was an official religion of the Russian Empire. The Julian Calendar which is two weeks behind the Julian Calendar, was used both in Church and in civic life. 

After the revolution, the Church was separated from the state. Several months later, by a decree of the Revolutionary government, the country was switched to the Julian calendar. Christmas was denounced, along with all religious holidays, and Christmas trees were forbidden. That situation lasted until early 1930 were when the government decided to allow some of the fun to come back. Granted, there should not be any mention of Jesus. All the festivities were reassigned to the New Year celebrations. There was no more Christmas tree; it became a New Year Tree. The Bethlehem star on top became the Red Star. The Grandfather Frost remained more or less the same:). 

Continue reading “About My First Christmas”