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Monday, September 23, 2013

What you've missed

I know some of our blog friends and readers use Google blogger dashboard to get updates from the blogs they follow, but since we've moved to WordPress a month or so ago, we don't feed to Google anymore. I decided to stop by and say "Hi!" to any of you who've missed our latest posts and updates!

Please come see what's new at our new blog address: http://lublyou.com

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

I love people, I love lakes

No offense to Mitt Romney, but this song is very catchy and hilarious. Actually, almost everything by Schmoyoho is on my fun list. So, I was editing the photos from a BBQ we had the other day, and it made me thinking how I love people... haha but seriously, I do, and why is making good friends suddenly so much harder when I'm 25 than it ever was?! You know, building friendships is a lot like dating: it takes lots of time, effort and emotional determination. And it just seems like after college it gets harder to divide 24 hours in nice chunks for work, family, grown-up responsibilities, good old friends, and getting to know new people. How do you find time to spend with your friends if you're not in college anymore?

Because of all of the reasons I mentioned above, I'm learning to truly appreciate every time I get to hang out with my friends without worrying about being somewhere else doing something else that I have on my to-do list. Ben and I usually try to meet with our Sandpoint friends for lunch from time to time, go hiking or to the beach, organize a BBQ evening.. In summer it's 500 times easier! Our latest gathering was super fun, a huge thank you goes to Ben's parents for providing us with their backyard and grill!

The next few months promise a lot of heart-warming activities, including a camping trip in Montana with one of our best friends (I can't wait and I hope we all make it there!), and a wedding in Utah with many-many amazing friends coming from all over the country. Even looking forward to it makes me feel very comfy and happy inside. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

about a turtle that was trying to cross the road

Idaho turtle
turtle crossing the road

It's not a secret that I love animals. That should explain the number of the turtle photos in this post and my uncontrollable excitement. Here's the story: we were driving back from Schweitzer mountain in the evening, when I suddenly saw a little head poking out of a shell at the edge of the road! I've never seen a turtle in the wild, I almost couldn't believe my eyes, but I started waving my arms like crazy and telling Ben to turn around and go back.

We parked nearby and ran to meet our new friend: this silly turtle was trying to cross the road, and it wasn't the best idea ever. I quickly picked it up, we took dozens of pictures and started searching the area for a safe place to let the turtle go. We figured it was travelling in search of a pond to lay eggs since it's that time of year. Google maps didn't show us any water close enough, so we hopped in the car with the turtle in my hands and drove for a few minutes until we saw a perfect spot. It was a big and beautiful lawn with 2 ponds in the middle with lots of cattails, we said our "good-bye"s and he or she took off and swam away under the mud instantly.

I hope it loves its new home and there will be lots of turtle babies soon. Oh, I get attached to animals too quickly! But seriously, it's so cool that I get to see lots of wildlife in and around town! I miss the moose from our backyard. Hopefully it'll be back in winter again to chew on frozen apples.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Sandpoint parade and Hope fireworks: how we spent the 4th of July

Sandpoint Idaho 4th of July parade
horse painted in American flag
Sandpoint 4th of july float

Have you had enough of a break by now from seeing photos of the 4th of July and the fireworks all over the Internet? I hope so, because today I'm sharing my part of the celebration!

In the morning of our first 4th of July in Sandpoint, Idaho we woke up late, quickly made coffee in our press, and headed out to the parade. The streets were packed with cars, bikes and people, it made us once again feel thankful for our wonderful little apartment downtown! It's great to just walk everywhere with no need to get there in advance in order to drive in circles looking for a parking spot. 

The parade was fun, we saw many familiar faces walking down the street with the flags, performances, vintage cars and horses. It was a bit too hot, and next year I'll bring a hat and a bottle of water. Something to sit on would be nice, too.

Hope Idaho fireworks
Hope ID 4th of July
fireworks in Hope Idaho
Independence Day in Sandpoint and Hope
fireworks in Idaho
Hope bay foreworks
Hope marina fireworks
lake pend oreille fireworks
4th of july on lake pend oreille
idaho 4th of july

In the evening we met with Ben's parents and all together headed to a friends' beach house near the town of Hope on the other side of the lake. The place was gorgeous: a private beach, fantastic views of the lake and the mountains, lots of boats and people water skiing and boarding. We had a wonderful dinner which was followed by the Independence Day firework show above the lake. It's a new experience to me to watch a show in North Idaho: the sounds of the fireworks echo from the mountains and reflect in the lake. Breathtaking!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

One year American anniversary: So, where are you from?

Burgers and the Trump Tower, of course.
It's been a year since we moved to the US! We had lunch with Ben's parents today and we all agreed that time just flew by. It's still so clear in my memory: we all had lunch on our way from the airport, it felt just like today, it was very sunny and a bit breezy, and I had huckleberry lemonade because it's what you're supposed to get in North Idaho.

Our first Idaho lunch on the way from the airport.
It's no news to anyone who knows us or is familiar with the blog that we love it here. We're very lucky to live in such gorgeous place with Ben's family in town (and they are the best in-laws I could ever hope for!), good jobs, little Sonya bunny, a nice apartment, and lots of fun activities in the area. The main downside (and from the very first moment we decided to move we knew it'd be the toughest thing) is how far my family is and how much I miss being around them. I'll just stop with this thought right here before my eyes get so wet that I can't see the screen.

Our first kayaking trip and my first chimichanga.
I decided that since I don't need to really discuss how cool it is here or convince anyone that we've been enjoying the American life so far (and all the Reese's peanut butter cups -- yes, still obsessed with those!), I'd finally write about this one thing that kind of bothers me... When people bring up Russia wherever I go. There are dozens of different scenarios but generally it goes like this: I say "Thank you, you have a good day, too" (as I'm buying something at a store and getting ready to leave) and the person gets very excited and says "Where are you from?"  "Russia," I respond. "I knew it! My friend in Seattle had a friend from Russia!"

It's generally absolutely inoffensive, sometimes I get a good laugh at what people say to me after the "I knew it" part, but eventually, after a year, it just gets old.  I wanted to write this post to finally get it all out of my mind and maybe change my perspective on it, but also as an encouraging note for people in the same situation everywhere around the world.  I want to remind myself and everyone living somewhere other than their country of origin that it's nothing personal, it happens to "foreigners" in every country, just because, you know, people are curious and they like to talk.

I really don't like when people talk about my accent.  The thing is, it's not a strong accent!  I've been speaking English for a long time, and I lived in the US for nearly 9 months before moving more permanently last summer, and I do speak English well.  Of course, I do make some mistakes and I have slight accent, but trust me, I'm working on it! And it really discourages me when I talk to someone for a long time and then they suddenly get excited and say: "Where are you from?" - "Russia" - "Oh, I knew it! (no, you didn't!) You have such a cute accent! Say something else with your accent! Aw, so cute!" Yes, lady at the insurance company, I'm looking at you! Last time I had to go to their office, she saw me entering the door and yelled: "Aw, the Russian girl with the accent! Say something!" Like seriously? This actually makes me feel like an exotic zoo bird that is meant to entertain this lady with my cute accent.

Let me clarify something: as a traveler or tourist in a foreign country, you might be asked where you are from and people might say you have a cute accent as well, but you usually have in mind the eventual end of your trip and return to your home. Which is probably why I never minded people asking or taking interest in me as a foreigner before. When I meet people in a hostel or somewhere traveling, I ask them about their home country, too. And of course I don't mind sharing the fact that I'm from Russia with friends, or answering honest questions about Russia or anything else that comes as a natural course of conversation. As an expat, though, I don't like to have my "foreignness" highlighted, and I'm actually scared of being a "forever foreigner" in my new country. Whenever someone asks "Where are you from?" I feel that I am an alien here and don’t belong, while actually I am trying to call the US my home.  It's not the same to have a personal conversation with somebody about myself as a person who happens to be Russian as it is for someone to ask "Where are you from?" and then follow it with a long stream of fun facts, stereotypes, news items, etc., etc.

I guess as annoying as it sometimes is, the "Where are you from?" question from the strangers is still better than some of the things that people who I know say -- "Oh, Katie, last weekend I went here-and-there and I met this 45-year old stay-at-home mom of 5 who lives on a farm with her husband who is a hunter. She is from Russia! You should definitely meet, I even got you her phone number, call her!" I can't even tell you how many times I heard various versions of this offer for the last year. And it doesn't matter that I never said I'm looking for Russian people to be friends with, or I don't have friends, or even the fact that this brief description points out that we have absolutely nothing in common with this person from Russia except that she/he/they are from Russia! And I was born in Ukraine, after all! 

Ben and I were joking today that I need to print big infographics with "Fun facts about Russia" and "Did you know? Russia edition" and pin them to the wall around my desk at work. I really like my co-workers, but when I hear: "Oh, Katie, did you hear.. did you know..." and then some fact or person or event from the news about Russia, it upsets me. I understand, they don't mean anything bad, it's just me being fed up with hearing it so often everywhere like everyone feels like they need to connect to me on the fact that I flew in here from Russia. 

Did I mention people at parties/barbecues/bars? There was this guy who we met at a couchsurfing meeting last fall, and then recently he came to a bbq at our mutual friend's: 10 of us were sitting around a table when he enters: "Oh, hi Sarah, long time no see, how are you? Hi, Ben, haven't seen you since fall! Oh, and you.. let's see... Masha? No? OK, Natasha? Olga?" - and he just keeps dropping all the possible names he heard were Russian. You don't remember my name, it's OK, just let me tell you I'm Katie.  Don't, oh, don't just be like "I know you're Russian, that's the only thing I bothered to remember about you, so I'll just proudly pronounce all the Russian names I know since I'm so culturally educated and worldly." Very rude, sir.

There is no right or wrong on this topic (except for you, mister cultural fail), I can talk about it a lot since we live in a small town in North Idaho and foreigners are just not very common here. I just feel like it's a part of my first-whole-year-in-another-country experience, and I wanted to write down what I feel and think now, so I can compare it to the situation in a year or five. And as I mentioned in the beginning, it doesn't make us any less happy or excited about being here and I'm thankful for this fun last year of my life.

One year later family lunch and a nice umbrella stick in the middle.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Schweitzer Summer Celebration

Schweitzer summer view

On the last day of June we headed up to Schweitzer mountain for Summer Celebration! I'm one of those rare people (especially around here!) who prefers grass to snow and summer to winter. I have to confess we didn't make it to the mountain this winter even thought we live in a ski resort town. I guess it wasn't among the reasons for choosing Sandpoint when we were moving, so I don't feel bad about missing the ski season. I still want to try it at some point, maybe next year... maybe..  

Sandpoint summer
Selkirk mountains
Schweitzer in summer
wood acorn pin
Sandpoint bird view
The cutest acorn pin from my friend Missy
Lake Pend Oreille view from Schweitzer
Sandpoint view from Schweitzer
Idaho ground squirrels
How many ground squirrels do you see
Schweitzer view Canada
Schweitzer Summer Celebration
Schweitzer Summer Celebration chairlift rides
Schweitzer chairlift rides

But this summer we finally got to the top and awed to the spectacular views: you can see Sandpoint, Lake Pend Oreille, Montana and even Canada from there! Their Summer Celebration was so much fun, too! I'll just list a few things: free chairlift rides, live music, a food and art market, and lots of wild and not so wild animals. 

After we'd spent enough time at the top, we were trying to decide how to get back to the village: on the chairlift or just by hiking down the mountain like many people did.. we chose the lazy way and were enjoying the views going down when we saw the following:

On the trail on one side we saw a guy mountain biking downhill, and on another side running towards him was a bear! A pretty big bear! It all happened so fast: they just missed each other and the bear ran off as quickly as possible, everyone on the chairlift just went: "Wooooooooow!" That was when I realized that the lazy decision isn't always the bad one.

Even writing all of this now, sorting out and uploading the photos, I'm feeling so excited and happy to be in this amazing place, stunning nature and with the great people who surround me. I want to wish everyone a very happy and fun 4th of July! It's going to be a double celebration for us: Ben and I packed and hopped on a plane towards our new life exactly a year ago.

Happy and Merry Fourth!

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