Friday, 22 January 2010

Jackson's a man now

On the home front, this week has been a big week for Jackson. The boy has become a man! Olga noticed this a few days ago, but I saw it for the first time yesterday. He's cocking his leg up to pee! This won't mean anything to non-doggy people, but until now he's been squatting down to pee, like girly dogs do, but now he's learnt that grown-up boy-dogs do it on three legs. I was so proud!

The Eagles have Landed

Everyone has arrived safely in Ekaterinburg.  I had a call from Olga at Helsinki, while Lara was playing in a special children's play area in the terminal; apparently she was being the Commissionaire, opening and closing the entry gate for the other children. She had been fine on the flight, making sure she shouted hello to everyone through the window, and waving. She waves at the planes as they fly over our house into Wycombe Air Park, so we said she needed to wave at all the planes she saw. Waving and shouting hello to the baggage handlers was just her own addition.
We thought she might want to get up and run about a lot, but this wasn't the case at all. She didn't sleep on the first flight, of course, but was mostly kept amused by her Colour Doodle etch-a-scetch that we'd got her for Christmas, specifically for times like this.
They were a few minutes early into Helsinki, and had a 3 hour wait there, a little longer than scheduled as there was a 25 minute delay in departing. A top tip for next time - buy extra wine on the flight and pay 5 euros per little bottle, rather than waiting until you get to Helsinki airport, where it's 10 euros...
I had a text waiting for me this morning, to say they'd arrived OK in Ekaterinburg, Lara had been fine, and slept for the last hour of the flight. They were 30 minutes late, but most importantly, there don't seem to have been any crises. In UK times, that meant they landed about 1.15am, so Lara didn't go to sleep until midnight, as far as her body was concerned, so she might be having a lie in this morning!
The big thing on the agenda today is an interview for Olga's mum at the British Consulate to apply for a 10-year visitor's visa. Let's hope it's just a formality.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

And They're Off! Only Just, Though..

Olga, Lara and Lucy left this afternoon for their flight to Ekaterinburg, via Helsinki. Here is an update of their progress as of 5pm from an online flight tracker ( - amazing what the internet can show you:

Lara looked the part at the airport, and was very confident about heading off without me. She was very clingy with me when we first arrived at the airport, she was a bit overawed, but after five minutes, she was happy to walk, and wheel her suitcase along (a birthday present from Grandma and Grandpa) like everyone else was doing:

 There weren't any tears at passport control, she understood I was staying to look after the boys, and gave me a hug and kiss, and a happy "Bye!" and a wave as they disappeared off to security.

24 hours ago it didn't look like this was going to happen!
Lara was sent home from nursery with a temperature of over 38 degrees yesterday lunchtime. There has been an outbreak of chicken pox in the older children's room there, and by 5pm I was getting worried, Lara had had a 90 minute sleep at home, and was lying on the sofa watching TV with Bob the Builder, not wanting to eat or being her usual self. I looked up the early symptoms of chicken pox on the internet, and they include a tickly cough (which she'd had this week, although it seemed to have cleared up by yesterday morning) and of course a high temperature.  Around this time I checked her properly for a rash, and indeed I saw there was a rash on her thighs, with what seemed to be large (1cm) blisters forming. More checking on the internet told me that if it was chicken pox, and if she was at the stage between 2 days before blisters appearing, and 3-4 days after they've appeared, then she shouldn't fly, as she is at her most infectious. It seemed she was right in the middle of this time frame. What a bummer. I checked with the travel insurance company, they would have no problem refunding Lara & Olga's flight costs, but they'd need written confirmation from a GP that Lara shouldn't fly. I was able to get her in to see our GP at 6.20 last night, and the first thing he said when I showed him the rash was "Well, it's not chicken pox". Phew! It was in fact urticaria, or hives, and it had probably been triggered by a chest infection that Lara was recovering from. He prescribed some antihistamines for the rash and some antibiotics to clear up anything left of the chest infection. By the time we'd been to order the medicine and collected Olga from work, and got home, it was close to 8pm, and Lara still didn't want anything to eat, and was just desperate to go to bed. I showed Olga the rash, and it had spread all the over her legs and onto her forearms, and looked quite unpleasant. We gave her the medicines, and rubbed in some calamine lotion, and Lara had a normal night, waking a few times but only needing a drink of water.
After having a hectic early evening, and needing then to watch the climax to series 5 of 24, Olga hadn't done any packing, so that was all left to this morning, while I looked after Lara at home.  The really weird thing was, when we woke Lara at just before 9am, and took off her sleepsuit, the rash had completely gone! No sign of the wheals at all, just a subtle pinkiness to her skin, that I treated with another coat of calamine, but other than that, she was her normal self, and had cereal AND porridge for breakfast, and a Full English for lunch. Quite bizarre, but we were so relieved that we hadn't reacted last night by cancelling their flights.
In the end, Olga got the packing done, although it was a bit tense for the last hour before we left home. Now I'm just awaiting a call from Helsinki in an hour or so to say that leg of the journey has gone OK. I'm off home to a very untidy home, but I'm not allowed to tidy up. Russian superstition dictates that you must not do housework, or any kind of tidying up, while a loved one is travelling, it's bad luck. Suits me!

For anyone thinking it's cold tonight, I just checked and it's forecast to be at most -22 degrees C during the day in Ekaterinburg this week, and that's with clear blue skies.

So, just me and the boys for the next 10 days..

Monday, 18 January 2010

42 Days Later...

After a mere 42 days, our bins were emptied today!

Look, see, in the distance - a bin lorry!

The snow has all gone now, although there are rumours that it will be back on Wednesday. It shouldn't be enough to worry us about Olga's flight on Thursday afternoon. The bigger worry about that is Olga finding the time to pack! She's busy this week training some Bangladeshi clients in our office, and tonight she's at her first art class of the new term, so this doesn't leave much time in the evenings to start filling the suitcase. I can see Thursday morning being a busy time, although Lara will be at nursery until it's time to go to the airport. At least, we hope she will be. After shaking off her last cold, she almost immediately seems to have another one, she has a bad cough, and even the nursery staff admitted she wasn't her normal self today. They kept checking her temperature, which remained OK, but they said she wanted lots of hugs today, rather than being her normal, independent self, and more worringly, asked for a sleep at lunchtime, which she's never done before.

We had a very nice change of scenery on Saturday night, going to Chris & Cara's house for dinner, with Lara. It was very grown up (and lovely food, Cara, thanks!), and Lara enjoyed herself, particularly playing Cara's piano. She even went to bed without much of a struggle, although her cough woke her (and us) up before 7am. Once I'd managed to get her back to sleep, I had to nip home to check on the boys and take them for a walk, before coming back to C&C's for breakfast. So yesterday was a very quiet day, while Olga did some work in the office, I took Lara to the park in Marlow, where we watched a boy's football match, complete with pushy parents and overbearing team managers. Much as I'd like to coach a football team one day, I'd like to think I wouldn't be the stereotypical tracksuit-clad Dad-manager, desperately trying to relive the good old days through my boys team.  I haven't necessarily retired from playing yet, anyway....

Updates to the blog might continue being more sporadic, as I don't get much chance at work now to write any posts - the credit crunch has forced the company to make redundant the guy who worked for me, so I'm doing the work of two people. Am I still a manager if I have no-one to manage?