Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Heart-Shaped Cookies

So the day before, on the 13th, I went to the Nadezhda Fund with moi russki brat, George and maya padruga, Helen.

I baked/decorated Valentine's Day cookies and brought snacks for tea time.

The cookies were originally just for visiting Aloysha and the kids in Kameshkovo. But I had so much fun baking them that I baked 10 DOZEN, that's right folks. And I decorated EVERY SINGLE LAST ONE of them!!!! It was so fun!!!! I even shared some with my teenage students, they loved them =) Everyone - my students, the grads and I, had a great time!!!

The Weekend I'd Been Waiting For...

FINALLY came on the 15th of February- I got to visit both Alyoshas, Oksana and Pasha at their foster family in Kameshkovo, YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! From L to R: Alyosha Usoev, Slava (their foster dad), Pasha, Alyosha, Erin, Nina (their foster mom), Karina (Nina & Slava's granddaughter) and Oksana.

My dear friend Anya drove and translated. She did a fantastic job, per normal!!! SPASIBA ANITCHKA!!!! In the photo below, she is sitting next to me. Isn't she gorgeous?!
It was our Christmas/Valentine's Day celebration. Nina, Alyosha's foster mom, made a delicious meal!!!! I baked and decorated Valentine's Day cookies in the shape of hearts. It was hilarious to see their expressions when they saw the cookies! They loved them =) I guess now, that I think of it, cookies like that don't exist here, hehe. Then of course, the kids got their presents. The flying monkey was a HUGE hit with everyone!!!! Pasha LOVED his electric guitar toy- even Slava enjoyed it =)
With my favorite kids in the ENTIRE world: Pasha, Lyosha, Alyosha, Karina and Oksana.

Karina with her stickers and Alyosha in the back- I can't believe how much he grew!!! He's fantastic! If I could possibly love him more, he'd be my own son!

The BEST thing this month, actually in the six months that I have lived here, was seeing them! Plus, even better is that Nina agreed to bring them to Vladimir regularly to hang out with me! This weekend, we're going to plan for ice skating, skiing or bowling- YAY!!!!

Long Overdue Update

SO MUCH has happened since I've returned to beloved Vladimir!!! All wonderful things, of course. I'v been back here for nearly one month- on Friday, it'll be officially one month.
For starters, I live with the absolute BEST family in Vladimir. The Kozmavas, they are so loving, considerate, generous and fun! I love coming home to visit with them every night.
My Beloved Host Family, The Kozmavas.
Sitting is my host dad, Oleg.
To his right is Manana, my host mom.
Standing next to me is my Russian brother, George.

We took this photo last Saturday (21 Feb 09). They took me with them to a Georgian Christening Dinner Party. It was OUTSTANDING!!!!! I was introduced to everyone single person there but no one thought I was foreign. Ironically, everyone tells me that I look Georgian. Perhaps that is why I blended in so well =) Then the people sitting around us heard me speaking to George, my host brother, in English. They asked and I told them I was American. NO SOONER THAN FIVE MINUTES LATER, the DJ is on the mic calling for "The American" to be brought to the front for a dance.

A line of at least ten people, men and women, formed- all of whom brought their cameras and shot glasses to take photos and shots with me. It was hilarious! I felt sorry for the little two-year-old girl whose party it really was, because it turned into mine for the few hours I was there.

I can't tell you how many photos, shots and dances later it was when I finally left with George. But suffice it to say that we left at 11pm. It was tons of fun. While there, I was invited to two more Georgian functions- both weddings. I'm told that it will be more even grand. It's hard to imagine since this party was so extravagant. I kept commenting and George, who is only 14, continued to assure me "this is nothing, Erin". I can't wait to see more!!!!

Here are some photos:
Their food is very similiar to Mexican food in that it's very flavorful and they use a lot of the same spices.

With my Georgian aunts, The Ladies Kozmava.
Nona is to my left. She's married to Oleg's younger brother Soso.
Next to her is Oleg and Soso's sister, Mamida.
With Soso and Nona Kozmava.
They have three BEAUTIFUL kids who are my Georgian cousins, of course.
The American- dancing with a random Georgian/Russian man. He was such a great dancer.
I was telling George "I'm going to kill you" because he was taking photos papparazzi style.
The American dancing with random man from above's son. I can't remember his name and
that's his mom in the background. They are George's godparents. Their son invited me to his wedding in September and I'm in!

Not to be left out- A GOAT made a cameo at the shindig. It was announced that we should all dance with him (and PEOPLE DID!) because he'll be the meal at the next soiree!

My two FAVORITE ladies in Vladimir!!! My host mom and host aunt. They are both WONDERFUL moms to their kids (and me), AMAZING cooks and hostesses, and BRILLIANT doctors. Behind them in my dance partner from the previous photo. In spite of having just one eyebrow, he was pretty hot.

Last, but not least, my friends- introducing the correct way to begin and end a party. Any gathering, actually =) PELAMUSHI!!! It's this outstanding dish with nuts as a topping that is essentially congealed red wine, OH YEAH!!!!

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Vso Privet!!!! (Hi Everyone!)

After 36 days of life in America, I have finally returned to Vladimir!!! It's a beautiful winter wonderland!!!! Although, I really could use the ski mask that I so proudly purchased but accidentally forgot in my mom's car.

Things are going swimmingly! I have a new host family, the Kozmavas, whom I love! They are super, as my host mom would say =) After everyday I really look forward to coming home and talking with them. Words can't accurately describe the improvement from my previous place. Suffice to say that they are God's blessing to me.

I haven't be able to blog, lack of time and internet access. But I have many things to share. So perhaps after this weekend...