CLOTHING – So we knew when we moved here, that we were coming in the “dead of winter”. With the exception of the baby, all of us have heavy winter coats with hoods, gloves, and boots. For the baby, I have a car seat cover-all. It basically covers up the whole car seat and baby. We also brought mostly winter clothes, i.e. long sleeve shirts, sweaters, blue jeans, long blue jean skirts, etc. I knew that the baby would need a coat, but I didn’t want to buy one before we left because he was growing so fast. My hope was that we could wait until next fall to buy him one. I had also brought sweat pants for the girls to wear when playing in the snow.
God has a REALLY funny sense of humor, because THIS Christmas (January 7th) turned out to be the coldest Russia has had in 120 years. So I think that I have everyone all bundled up really well for the Christmas Eve service. Everyone had on winter clothes, coats zipped up, with hoods, gloves, and boots on. The baby had on a fleece sleeper, a hat, and was completely wrapped in TWO fleece blankets.
When we arrived at the church, we were ushered into the office, and this was where the fun began. A lady from the church about lost her mind when she saw me unwrapping Kenneth in the heated office. The baby was sweating, and wanted out of his “cocoon”. She kept saying, “Poor boy” over and over again along with some other choice words. My Russian was good enough to catch that part. We were sitting on couches, and she couldn’t believe the boots Kelsey had on. So she took them off, and went got another pair of “snow boots” for her to wear. This was also when she REALLY lost her mind. None of us girls had on “leggings”. We had on long skirts, socks, and boots. Julie’s skirt apparently wasn’t thick enough, so she went and got another skirt and tied it on her. Our translator that was with us just kept laughing and shaking her head.
Within a few days of this event, a gift bag of hats, two more winter coats, several sweaters, a pair of snow pants, and four pair of leggings, all arrived at our house. The next several times we went to church, we were “checked” to see if we were wearing leggings or sweat pants, and had hats on. One lady literally lifted Katie’s skirt to see if she had leggings on. Poor Kimberly couldn’t win. Her leggings were “skin” colored, so they never thought she had her leggings on. We have all taken to just wearing the sweat pants under our skirts to be done with it.
A snow suit was given to us for Kenneth. Remember the boy in the movie, “A Christmas Story”, who can’t move his arms? Oh, yes! This bad boy has a furry inner-suit that you put the baby in first. Then you put the baby in the “suit”. First time we put Kenneth in it, he looked at us like we had lost our minds. I thought I would make them all so happy to see him in his new “suit”. But I had forgotten to put his hat on under the hood, and to put on his wool booties under the outer booties of the suit.
In America, we take our coats, hats, and gloves off when we come into church. In Russia, a lot of people stand through an entire two-hour liturgy with coats on (and zipped up), snow pants on, women with hats on, and babies and small children trapped in their straight-jackets (I mean snow-suits).
We could stand keeping our coats on, but poor Kenneth was dying of heat exhaustion in his snow suit. So I unzipped it some, took off his hat, and let him “air out” a little. Within five minutes, a lady wanted to know where his hat was. I pulled it out of my coat pocket and smiled. 🙂
Strollers – I asked Fr. Joseph to acquire us a stroller, because after our Moscow trip I decided Kenneth needed his own “ride”. I was thinking of a simple umbrella stroller like we had in America (that stroller the airline said we couldn’t check, but that we could have checked after all). Now in hindsight I can see God’s sense of humor kicking in. THAT stroller would not have met muster in Russia!
So Fr. Joseph goes off to the store, and I wait for his phone call. He gives me the three options, I tell him how much money I want to spend, and ultimately I let him decide which one he thinks is best since he is looking at them. He comes back with Kenneth’s new Cadillac.
I had heard about Russians covering babies up. I had experienced Russians telling me how to cover up babies, but nothing prepared me for this stroller. It literally has a bassinet (think Moses-basket) that you put the baby in. You put that in the stroller, and then you zip a covering up over the baby, so all you can see are the whites of the baby’s eyes! Most of the covering will unzip off when warmer weather arrives. The picture will speak for itself.
The tires are grand too. They are comparable to bicycle tires. Plus, it comes with a matching diaper bag! We are totally styling now. And lest you think I’m alone with this kind of stroller, we have encountered several versions of it on our walks around Rostov!