Tuesday, February 14, 2012

when downsizing is an upgrade

This is actually happening.

For the last couple months, Beth and I have been brainstorming and looking for houses in Atlanta that are closer to work. While we have no problem with where we are living now, we have been very interested in finding somewhere closer in town -- just somewhere with more of the perks of living in a city.

While we were in no rush, we think we may have found the perfect place:

Of all the houses we looked at, not only was this one the most move-in ready, it was also the cheapest.

It's been completely remodeled.

It's got a great backyard (plenty of room for an underground trampoline!).

It's a mile from work.

It's just a couple miles from some great farmers markets and tons of International stores and restaurants (a couple Russian places here and there!).

It's right beside I-85 and I-285.

It's right by a Marta bus stop, and a couple miles from the Doraville rail station.

It's perfect. At least for Beth and Liam and I.

It's definitely smaller than where we're at right now (half the size of our current place). But we couldn't be more excited. We're hoping to get involved in the surrounding international community, and just be more all-around intentional when it comes to where we live and why. We feel like it fits both -- it's close to work, but also close to so much we can really get involved in things in our area.

And we're closing on it TODAY.

We're overwhelmed, but excited. I'll keep you posted as to the details and all the exciting changes.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Our Turn Now

Beth and I with Nadya, Anya, and Yulya

Tomorrow, something very exciting will be happening in the city of Atlanta. Three very good friends from Moscow will be visiting. for a little under a week. In between trips to NYC and LA, they will make their stop here where we will show them around town and make the long drive to Indiana for another good friend's wedding.

I may have talked about this a little before, but this is something we've been excited about for a while. For many reasons.

While Beth and I were in Moscow, it would be an understatement to say we were spoiled by all of our friends. One of the reasons we became so comfortable so quickly in such an overwhelming city is because of all the help of our friends. From helping us find places, to helping us with the language, to even helping us get Liam's birth certificate (no easy feat in Moscow, especially if you're language skills are lacking), we were so fortunate to have friends that were there for you whenever you needed.

Now it's our turn.

We're so excited to now be able to share our city with some of our best friends. On the weekend we'll head up to the wedding in Indiana, but between then we'll be showing them all that we can in Atlanta.

Our dear friend Andrea is getting married!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Year Ago Today

It's hard to believe it's been a year since Liam's birth.

Months ago Beth posted about her experience, but I decided to also post it here for the occasion. It's long but I hope you enjoy it.

We went in for a check up on Tuesday the 8th.  The doctor said that there were still no signs that the baby was going to come in to the world on his own and she wanted to start the induction process.  She sent us to the first floor to check into labor and delivery.  As soon as I got there I was surrounded by a troop of Russian nurses, each with a job.  They took my blood pressure, felt my stomach, measured me, weighed me, felt my ankles, asked millions of questions, took my clothes, showered me, and dressed me in a gown and robe.  I felt like I was in a whirlwind and didn’t understand anything going on.  But finally I was ready and they admitted me to the hospital and took me to my room. The induction process my doctor wanted to use was a slow process.  She started Tuesday evening with a preparatory procedure…I was then supposed to sleep through the night and then they would start medication in the morning.  Tim and my mom stayed with me until about 11 that night and then they had to go home.

 I slept like a baby until the nurse woke me up the next morning. About nine o’clock Wednesday morning they gave medication to start labor.  Tim and my mom arrived five minutes after this and contractions began soon after.  By 11 o’clock they were rolling me to the delivery room.  Tim had to go downstairs to get scrubbed in and suited up.  I was in the delivery room for about 30 minutes waiting for him…getting a little desperate…I was so glad when he finally arrived.  I sent him right out to ask the nurse when I could get my epidural.  By noon the anesthesiologist was in my room giving me my epidural and I couldn’t wait!  He told me, “five minutes and no more pain.”  However, fifteen minutes later one of my legs felt a little tingly…but not quite the pain relief I was expecting.  I told the nurse and the anesthesiologist came back and upped my dose.  My other leg felt a little tingly…but my pain was increasing by a lot!  I told the nurse again that I was still feeling pain.  The anesthesiologist returned and after chatting with the nurse for a moment…decided to redo my epidural.  He pulled the first one out of my back and put a new one in a few vertebras higher.  Then he gave me twice the dose.  Five minutes later I was feeling nothing…my lips were even numb.  I guess due to the fact I couldn’t feel anything I stopped breathing as well as I should, and the baby’s heart rate started dropping.  A small army of nurses came into my room and yelled at me to breathe.  I had to really focus and breathe…but his heart rate stabilized.  This was about 2 o’clock in the afternoon. 

I napped for a while and Tim and I talked.  I was thinking that this labor thing wasn’t so bad.  We were incredibly surprised when around five o’clock my doctor came in and told us it was time to turn the epidural off. I told her no…and asked why!  She told me they must because I had to be able to feel to push.  I was confused because I know a lot of women in America who have not felt anything and been perfectly able to push.  For about the next two hours…I got the full natural birth experience.  I really thought I might die.  I also glared at my doctor constantly.  Only the fact that I needed her then kept me from telling her exactly how I felt about her.  If you have spent any time in Moscow you know that Russians are crazy about their cell phones and answer them whenever they ring.  You can always hear stories about teachers answering calls during a lecture, bank tellers in the middle of your transaction, or waiters while you are ordering.  This cultural trend is also true for doctors while you are in labor.  At least six times during the final part of my labor, my doctor’s phone rang and she would leave the room.  One time she told me that the next contraction we would push…however, right as the contraction started she got a call and left.  I told Tim I was going to push anyway…but he talked me out of it.  Finally at 6:53 William Soren Rhodes was born.  They washed him right there and wrapped him up and Tim was able to spend the next hour or so walking with him and talking to him.

  I was not so lucky.  The doctor needed to fix me up…so they called the anesthesiologist back.  He gave me what he called a super epidural…he said I wouldn’t be able to feel my legs at all or be able to walk for at least 2 hours.  However, when the doctor came back in a few minutes later I quickly informed her that I could feel everything and wiggled my toes for her.  She promptly took a needle and poked me with it.  I yelled and told her that it hurt…she asked if it was pain or pressure.  I informed her it felt like she just poked me with a needle.  The anesthesiologist came back and gave me something else.  An hour later I started coming to.  Tim kept talking to me…but I couldn’t really understand or respond to him.  I could just look at him and our son.  It didn’t matter what I was feeling…seeing them together was pure joy.  About 2 hours after Liam was born we were able to go to our room.  My mom and our friend Andrea joined us in the room and we ate dinner.  I couldn’t stop looking at Liam.  He was perfect and it started to sink in that I was his mother. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Between a Sacrifice and Vacation

Upon telling family, friends, and co-workers about our upcoming work in Moscow, we had mostly two basic responses:

WOW! What a sacrifice!
Have fun on your vacation!

In reality, of course, it was neither of those things.

Beth and I could never really think of it as a sacrifice. Because, honestly, we wouldn't have done it if we didn't think we would have enjoyed it. We both fell in love with the city years before, and were elated that we would be living there.

And, although this goes without saying, life in Moscow certainly wasn't a vacation. Anyone who has been to Moscow for more than a couple weeks will know this. Moscow is definitely more European than most of the rest of the country, and pretty international, but getting around and getting by can be difficult at times.

You see, if you're on a short term trip to possibly anywhere (meaning you're only there for a week or two), there's a strong likelihood you're going to get the special treatment. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, just not a good barometer for actually living there. Many times people who host groups in the countries or cities they live in, they tend to go easy on them -- for the most part. They naturally want you to like and enjoy the place. And even if you have difficult work to do, you probably knew what you were getting in to

I digress. Sorry about that. I'm just trying to say that living anywhere that isn't your home culture is probably going to be pretty hard at times. There will be days where it's a blast and you think it couldn't be better, and there will be days where you collapse in the snow and want to give up (there will probably be more of these days, by the way). Either way, as long as you shake off your American sense of entitlement, have an adventurous attitude, and have the long term in mind, every day will be worth it.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Last House Church

Sunday, January 22, was our last house church before Beth and I left for the states.  It was a night of pancakes (both banana and chocolate chip), fellowship, and sadness for Beth and myself.

This group of friends were some of the closest people we know while living in Moscow, so this night only made it all the more apparent what we were going to be losing by moving back to the US.

The evening was a great time to share about the previous 6+ months together, and to also look to the future. To our excitement, several people in the group brought up future meetings and were making plans to meet once we left. It was so great to hear people talking about how they wanted to be involved in the future meetings--those who were ambivalent or uninterested when the group began. There were a few who were downright uncomfortable when we first started. But week after week it was encouraging to see the growth in each person. Our friends felt welcome--safe, even-- to disagree, to share different viewpoints, to pray.

Although Beth and I had a desire to start a group like this, selfishly we needed something like this, for our well-being. We needed this kind of community to keep us sane and to keep us going. And it's something we miss the most about our time in Moscow.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lots of Love in Istanbul

Beth and I loved Istanbul. We were very fortunate to have friends there to not only give us a place to stay, but also take time out of their busy schedule to show us around. We were able to see so much.

But as much as we loved Istanbul, it didn't even come close to the love Liam was receiving all the time. ALL THE TIME.

People there love babies. Maybe it was the whole blonde-hair/blue-eyes combination, but he was just adored. I can't even count the times random people would come up to take a picture of him with their cell phones, or ask to hold him, or try to feed him things. In Starbucks, a mother and her teenage daughter played with him, took pictures, video, and held him. And even after all of that, the daughter didn't take her eyes off him until we left the place. I'm not exaggerating. She just stared at him.

Now this wasn't just women or girls. One time after taking the ferry, Beth felt an odd presence behind her while holding Liam. She turned around to see a young 20-something couple and the guy was holding Liam's hand and smiling. And not that creepy smile or sarcastic smile, but one of those infatuated smiles.

It was definitely strange. But as parents who already think our kid is the best thing since sliced bread, we ate it up. As odd as everything was, we never turned anybody down. Frankly, it didn't even seem that odd. Why wouldn't total strangers want to take a picture of our child to have on their phone forever even though they have no clue who this kid is??


Like Rome, Florence, St. Petersburg, and other cities we've visited, Istanbul was another on our list of places to see. But just saying that, the way that sounds, like it's just another city to scratch off our notepad, just doesn't honor it the way a place like this should. I know this goes without saying, but each city we've visited carries an immense depth historically and culturally that we couldn't wait to experience. Istanbul is a truly amazing city.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

kcohS erutluC

Reverse Culture Shock is something you hear about (and almost prepare for) while living overseas. It's the basic idea that the difficulty you had adjusting to a new culture (in our case, Moscow) will be somewhat similar when returning and re-acclimating to your native culture.

Surprisingly, we didn't have as much difficulty as we were worried about. It took less than a day to get used to driving again (we didn't have or drive a car the entire duration of our time in Moscow). In fact, things didn't seem that foreign at all. Most of our reverse culture shock experiences could be summed into one-sentence shouts of exclamation:

"This washing machine is HUGE!"

"Wait, you can get another drink with the same cup -- FOR FREE??"

"There's a whole aisle for cereal at the grocery store?!"

"Wait, I can wash my clothes and wear them again in the same day??"

I could go on.

But there is definitely another side to reverse culture shock. It's this feeling of displacement. Not only have we left this incredible group of friends and colleagues back in Moscow, but we are entering back into life in America as if it were two years ago. People have moved on. It's that tightrope feeling that probably feels the strangest. Not belonging to either world.

I know that sounds pretty pathetic, but I don't mean it that way at all. It's life. It happens. The tension will go away eventually.