October 30, 2009
You may think all of these ideas below are a load of bull. My way is to watch some good comedy, eat some bad food, drink a bottle of wine and eat a curry or Sushi. Exercise like running, helps you to relax and may trigger happiness. Think of 5 things that you are lucky to have, plan a holiday. If you like shopping shop till you drop and damage that plastic. What makes you happy when you feel low?
Experts suggest these ideas.
10. Breathe: Breathing is normally a subconscious function, but conscious breathing can help reduce stress and tension. Focusing on your breathing keeps your attention on the present moment and is a common component of meditation, a proven stress reducer. Breathe deeply and slowly, noticing each breath you inhale and exhale.
9. Laugh: Laughter is the best medicine. Keep handy a book of jokes or a favorite comic strip cartoon. When you feel blue, immerse yourself in the humor and go for a stomach-aching full laugh. Deep laughter improves your immune system and helps you keep life's problems in perspective.
8. Return to Nature: Go for a walk in a park, sit by a fountain, or gaze at a poster of your favorite ocean or mountain scene. Reflecting on a beautiful natural scene can lift your spirits.
7. Gratitude; Make a brief list of three to five things in your life for which you are grateful. Reflect on each item and identify the positive way it impacts your life.
6. Give of Yourself: Providing an uplifting message or thought to someone else also uplifts you. Call an elderly relative or friend. Offer a few minutes of your time to baby-sit or walk the dog for a busy neighbor. Helping another moves your focus and will improve your spirits.
5. Exercise A brisk walk or any other form of physical exercise will improve your mood. Weed the garden or clean the house. The physical activity will help lift your mood.
4. Daydream: Recall a great vacation or a wonderful family reunion. Reflect on a card or letter someone sent you that was touching and showed they cared for you.
3. Use a Strength: We all have unique strengths, capabilities at which we are particularly talented. Use one or more of your strengths in some activity. If you don't know your strengths, take the VIA questionnaire.
2. Tend Something You Care About: Tend to a garden, a favorite house plant, a pet, or your car. When we tend something we provide a loving, caring attention to it that is a form of giving. Tending is not a chore, it's a blessing.
1. Apologize Guilt and regret can hang around us like a lead weight, bringing on mild depression without our awareness of the cause. Offer up a sincere apology for things you've done or said that offended or hurt another. You'll feel the relief of your burden of regret even if you aren't able to personally deliver the apology. Offering it up to the Universe is sufficient.
October 27, 2009
P.S Hopefully if you are reading this post a lot later than the date it was written, the situation and renting culture in Moscow may have improved from my descriptions above.
They say its like this for about 5 months. I will need to take some happy pills or watch some comedy. I'll have to download some off the web, but don't tell anyone. Its very easy to get isolated here if you relax on trying to be social. Its a big place and there are many expats but its not so friendly as I had hoped for. I suppose you can expect that in a big city. The bloody spell checker does not work on this blog so sorry for any howling errors, plus I am dyslexic. I will make happiness in my heart and at home to make up for the grey damp weather. Alternatively I'll get drunk and stuff my face with bad food, that will cheer me up and piss the Mrs off.
October 22, 2009
Meaning: If you put your foot in it, you do or say something embarrassing and tactless or get yourself into trouble.
Yesterday, at a baby group in Moscow, I saw a baby that looked like he or she had a bump on his or her head and put my foot in it- but Let's first flash back to 30 minutes before to this foot in mouth awful event.....30 mins before... I am at home with junior, I am in the bathroom when I hear a crash, I zip up my flies and run to the living room, junior is on the floor with a chair on top of him crying. I look and see nothing on his face or head, no blood nothing.... 2 mins later I can see a massive bump like in a Tom and Jerry cartoon rising up on his head. The oak chair fell on him as he pulled on a coat that was hanging on the chair...ow very painful....
Flash forwards 30 mins later at the baby group.......I see a baby that I have not seen before in the group, I say to the young mother of this infant, in an effort to be friendly, "oh no did he bump his head", she looks horrified and says "no it’s not a bump but a birth mark", my brain comes back from his lunch break and screams "what did you say idiot".
You get the picture, I wanted the ground to open up and suck me in, the woman sitting next to the poor woman looked very embarrassed. I tried to keep the conversation going (while sweating with pure embarassement) but could feel a her stabbing me to death while I spoke. Putting your foot in is like a disability, you don’t want it but can't do anything about it.
Below are some other examples.
By far and away the best way to put your foot in it is to embarrass yourself and others in a crowded room. It helps if you do not know the people you are embarrassing too well.
- "Have you re-decorated your flat its needs it" ....reply "yes last week"
- At a party you say in a "I was very short as a child" turn round and there is a midgit standing behind you.
- "Really you had the opperation? And I thought you hadn't had the surgery yet!"
- "I've stopped taking the drugs now! I say stuff the neurotic and violent tendencies."
- "Yes I know your husband was a good man and his death brings sadness to us all. Oh by the way can I have the electric mower back that he borrowed?"
- "What a huge nose you've got!" Did I just say that!
- "You're obviously a very talented individual! Do you talk trash for a living?"
- "I'd love to measure your ego, is it off the scale?"
- "I think you need a personality graft."
- "I'd set my dogs on you but I'm afraid that they'd get rabies as a result of biting your leg."
- "How is your dog?", reply "he died last week"
October 20, 2009
On another issue, today, I saw this sign on the Metro and so whipped out my mobile for a quick photo. I thought to myself, they have thought about most situations (but not all) in telling passengers what they cannot do on the escalator. They forgot to put other unlikely activities that could happen on the escalator, such as: No sexual intercourse, No dancing, No sleeping, No surfing, No fighting, No guns etc etc. I must write to the Moscow Metro asap with my suggestions.
October 19, 2009
When I am annoyed with another person that is foreign to me and not British, my accent becomes very posh and I sound like an affronted rude hotel manager from a 1970's British TV sitcom "Fawlty Towers". Why is this? I become like Basil Fawlty. I become very rude and aggressive. I am not normally like that. "I say do you know I'm British, take your hands off me sir"."Don't mention the war". If you are not British, and read this blog, you may not really know what I am talking about and may think I have lost my marbles. I forgive you dear reader.
When I am abroad, I miss things that I would never usually think about, eat or have. I miss fish and chips, (I never eat fish & chips except if I am very drunk and hungry) Pork pies (from a motorway service station), custard, roast beef, jelly, civilized queuing, the post office, take away curry, playing the lottery etc. My memory and image goes back 25 or 30 years to when people behaved differently in the UK to how they do now. I remember the sound of grass being cut at weekends, in my street in middle class suburban England, seeing the milkman deliver the milk to house door steps, to long gone days. I am not so old, but I feel like it.
My memory of England, is in a an endless time warp, my memory is in an English ideal, that I miss and fantasize about. When I am abroad, I feel like a foreigner, when I am back "home" in England, I also feel like a foreigner. I am a foreigner, a snail with his home on his back, a nomad, a traveller of no fixed abode. I am Basil Fawlty with an attitude and a rucksack on my back.
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History in the city is dying and should be protected, along with people who walk under or by such buildings. Why don't city authorities have a dedicated fund for such issues and employ a small team of inspectors to routinely monitor all parts and buildings in the city. That is not such a crazy idea and would add to the attractiveness of the city and attract more tourists. I have said my bit on this issue and will say no more. Please be careful dear reader.
October 16, 2009
If you were to put: "I would like a kilo of carrots please shop women" would it translate into: "You have big hills, come to bed with me" I challenge any Russian to try it and get back to me when you can.
Whether you're a stay-at-home mum or dad, the decision to move from work to home can be a journey fraught with difficulties. But there are some issues specific to stay-at-home dads that we've outlined here.
Despite being part of a growing trend, you ought to be aware that, as a man, you'll be in the minority group as far as stay-at-home parenting is concerned. Be prepared to be the only man in the playground, baby massage class or coffee morning. This, in turn, may make forming a network of friendly parents (a lifeline for any stay-at-home parent or Dad) that bit more difficult. It's a fact that you'll probably have to work twice as hard as a woman to get accepted into groups – but it's well worth making the effort. Other parents will be the support network that makes or breaks you as a parent.
To make it easy on yourself, it's a good thing to remember that everyone's in the same boat as far as the parenting game is concerned. If you're attending a baby group everyone there is probably new to parenting and desperate to find a friend to share the experience with. Knowing that you're all in the same boat may make you feel less self-conscious about going up to a group of mums and introducing yourself.
Man To Man
Although other mums are a key ally, it's equally important for you to be able to share your parenting concerns and issues with other men. There are loads of organisations targeted at the stay-at-home dad. Key sites to check out include www.homedad.org.uk and www.fathersdirect.com. Ask around to see if there are father groups in your area and, if there aren't, be brave and start one up!
You may be quite unconcerned with how others view your decision to stay at home, but it's certainly worth quizzing yourself over how you'll feel when you give up work to be a stay-at-home parent. If you currently earn the same or more as your partner, how will you feel to become reliant on their income? Make sure you and your partner have discussed - and agreed - how decisions relating to finance and childcare will be made in the future.
The main thing is to enjoy the time you have with your children. It goes so quickly! Why not take a leaf out of stay-at-home Dad Aaron's book and start an online blog of your children's lives?
October 15, 2009
For the love of god! I moved into my flat about 5 weeks ago and every week the landlady has been coming here and/or a worker to fix something and its still not finished. We had to wait ages for nets to be put onto the windows as a safety device for our child, as its 6 floors up. They took ages to be made, then we had to a get a child gate put on the kitchen door way as there is no door to the kitchen. The sink plug that goes in the bathroom sink is too small, so the water drains away when you fill it to shave. I still have to try to get locks put onto the windows, as in Moscow it seems every flat has plastic windows that just open without any safety catch on them at all. Very dangerous.
The kitchen sink stinks of sewage, the landlady came with two men 3 weeks ago and they could not fix it so she decided to get a new sink but of course the sink she originally put in is not a standard size so she has had problems finding a new one, they came today with a new one and have been banging about in the kitchen since 12 and its now 4.00. The sink in the bathroom is not a standard size either, so I don't know how I will find a plug to fit? Why do these Russians make life so hard for themselves and everyone else? a theme I keep returning to in this blog. We only took this flat as there was nothing else available. Trying to find a "normal" non vulgar luxury flat here, is a walk of fire and endurance of nerves. If you have a budget of about 3,000 euro per month or more it will be easier but they are still way off on acceptable and fair rent prices. We pay 2,100 euro per month excluding bills in a flat that is really only worth 800 euro per month.
On a closing note, I will say that so far, our flat owner and landlady seems to be good and fair, so my gut feeling may have been right, lets hope it continues.
October 14, 2009
1157 Original towers and walls of the Kremlin are completed
1237-38 Moscow is sacked by Tatars
c. 1330 Moscow becomes the seat of the Russian Orthodox Church; Ivan I constructs the Assumption Cathedral
1475-79 Grand Duke Ivan III (the Great) throws off Tatar rule
1533 Ivan IV (the Terrible) becomes Grand Duke of Moscow at three years of age
1547 Ivan the Terrible adopts the title 'tsar'
1552 & 1556 Battles against the Tatars; vanquishing of the 'Golden Horde'
1584 Ivan the Terrible dies; Fyodor succeeds him
1598 Boris Gudonov becomes tsar
1604 Pretender to the throne invades from Poland
1613 Poles are ousted from Moscow; Russian noblemen elect Michael Romanov as tsar
1682-96 Ivan V rules; the succession is disputed
c. 1695 Peter the Great takes the throne and embarks on dramatic reforms to modernise Russia
1703 Peter the Great decides to transfer the capital from Moscow to St Petersburg
1712 St Petersburg becomes Russia's capital city
1725 Death of Peter the Great
c. 1762-96 Catherine the Great rules Russia
Jun 1812 Napoleon invades Russia with half a million soldiers
7 Sep 1812 French and Russian armies clash at Borodino Field, 110km (70 miles) from Moscow
14 Sep 1812 Following withdrawal of Russian forces, Napoleon enters Moscow – but the city is empty and fires break out
Autumn 1812 Napoleon retreats from Moscow
1825 Decembrist Revolt fails; the monarchy is preserved and Nicholas I ascends the throne
1861 Alexander II abolishes serfdom
1891-1905 Construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway
1905 Nicholas II concedes to the creation of a constitution and Duma (parliament)
Oct 1917 Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, depose the Government; civil war continues until 1920
1918 Moscow becomes the capital again
1924 Lenin dies
1939 Joseph Stalin signs non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany
Jun 1941 Germans invade Russia and advance to within a few hundred miles of Moscow
1953 Stalin is succeeded by Nikita Kruschev
1980 Moscow hosts the Summer Olympics
Mar 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev becomes general secretary and introduces glasnost and perestroika
1989 The first open elections since 1917
1990 Moscow party chief Boris Yeltsin is elected chairman of the Russian Republic
Jun 1991 Boris Yeltsin is elected as president
31 Dec 1991 Soviet Union ceases to exist; the Russian flag is unfurled on top of the Kremlin
1994 Moscow's mayor decides to rebuild Church of Christ the Saviour
1997 Celebrations for Moscow's 850th anniversary
17 Aug 1998 Rouble collapses
1999 Surprise resignation of Boris Yeltsin, who is succeeded by Vladimir Putin
2009 - Mass consumerism, mass car ownership, mass pollution, a democratic dictatorship, mass population, mega rich groups, mega poor groups. Power = Standard pattern the world over where we have reached the point we are at now.
Renting here is a new game in comparison to my own country. Here, there is even less market and rent law control. You do sign a contract but it does not really protect you at all. There have been stories of Russian landlords just upping the rent as and when they like. Also they will ask to be paid in cash each month. They will come to your door for the rent. You will also not be allowed to put pictures or shelves on the walls. Its seems in Russia, the landlord views the flat as his, during your rental period and some will even go into your flat while you are away. Make sure you find a good landlord and if you feel nervous walk away. I also have to say, that many of letting agencies here are suspect and want the rent to be as high as possible as the flat owner will pay them one months rent for finding them a tenant. The owner may also have an agent and an agent from the company that advertises their property. Sometimes when you visit a flat you will have 3 people with you, the agent, the owner and the flat agent where you found the flat. The owners agent will often not introduce themselves and will just turn up with a mobile glued to his ear throughout the whole flat viewing.
If you can get your company to arrange all and pay for all, you will feel a lot better and less stressed but that is rare these days in Moscow. Gone are the days of paid rents and company help unless you are a CEO or in a similar high position.
When you look round any flat, they don't like you to ask questions, or to raise problems with the flat, they prefer this to be discussed during the contract stage. Agents will also agree on your terms but when it comes to signing the contract you will see that your terms have not been agreed in the contract. The agent and agents work for the owner and not for you. Be very careful and don't be bullied, walk away if you doubt on the owner or the agent. The bottom line is, you have very Little protection in Russia when you rent a flat. So dear reader shop wisely when looking for a flat in Moscow.
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Time is a funny thing when each day is almost the same. I am not in prison (not yet anyway!) unlike some people are, where each day really is the same, but I'm free and at home, where is home? Moscow Russia. Each day when you are not working, either by choice, or bad luck, it's very similar to the day before. The daily routine never changes and before you know it, it's mid week, or the end of the week and you have to do a double take in your mind to know that its not last Saturday but this Saturday, for example. I am blessed and have food in my (expanding) stomach and a roof over my head.
I'm off to another baby group today held in Moscow. They are good and its good to mix with others and also good for any child to interact with other children as soon as they can to survive this crazy world. Although I am not in my own country, I could be anywhere, as I'm at home most days in my small flat. Many people would be very happy to be at home all day and to be with their child and I know I am very lucky, but trust me after a while it gets a bit boring. Would I rather be working? in some ways yes in other ways no. To see the same faces day in day out in an office would drive me mad. So the life of a stay at home dad or mum is a double edged sword, good and bad. Enough ramblings from me, I must get junior strapped into the push chair and brave the smoky streets of Moscow and about 10 little screaming pooey rug rats. These baby groups are excellent and its good to meet new people.
October 10, 2009
I have looked for a "Barber" or men's hair cutting place, as I am used to in my country but have not found one in Moscow. Where I come from, you can get a hair cut plus shampoo, for around 9 euro and it takes just 15 mins with scissors and electric machine, you are done, pay and leave, no fuss, no techno music, just a hair cut.
I went for one today off the Arbat, and paid 1,100 rubles. I asked how much it would cost before I got it cut and I was told.... "it depends on the master" by a young man who played for the other side, if you get my meaning?! I then spent 1 hour having my hair shaped, shampooed and poofed about by another young man of a similar type, who wore ripped jeans and had hair that looked like he had been electrocuted. He combed my hair for about 10 mins into different limp shapes before taking to the scissors and actually cutting it, or should I say trimming it as you would a bonsai tree. I did not have the heart to tell him off as he looked quite nervous. My hair looked almost the same when I left as when I had arrived but more tidy and washed!! Why not one price for men and one price for women subject to type of cut.
For god sake, where can you find a plain hair cut for a plain price in this smoked filled city? or must all men visit a hair "master" or hair artist and pay artist prices?
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October 09, 2009
I have been to three baby groups here in Moscow this week. If you are a stay at home dad (or mum) in an expat community in Moscow there are many ways to meet others. I admit most people will be women and this is not a bad thing, but you will meet others and your small sprog will meet other small sprogs of all shapes, sizes and nationalities. You will not be alone my friend.
Some children are walking at 9 months and some at 14 months, they are all different. The important thing to do when you move to another country is to organize before you get there and research things out, so that when you arrive you will get out, meet people and do things. If you do not do this, you will very feel isolated, cut off and depressed and in a big city like Moscow with a strange language and different culture, it's vital that you minimize your depression. The weather is strange here, one day warm the next day raining, I think climate change really cannot be ignored by anyone anymore. This weekend I visit one the best outdoor markets in Moscow and I'll let you know dear reader what it is like.
My grandfather died on his commode, while watching the horse racing on TV and never went out, a lesson can be learnt from that, make the most of life and enjoy it while you can, well (I made the commode bit up, but you get my meaning).
Have a good weekend dear reader and be cool.
October 07, 2009
In Russia you cannot drink the water from the tap and must either buy bottled water or get one of those water machines they use in offices. The water is then (upon arrangement) delivered to you. The man came today to give us x 4 refill bottles but did not bring any change and you cannot use a direct debit payment each month from your bank to the company. It's bit strange and annoying. I gave him 1,000 rubles and he gave me credit.
I am off to my first baby club today, I have another on Thursday and another on Friday here in Moscow, its all happening socially! The strange thing about looking after a child at home all day is that your day is routine and each almost the same as the last, (poo, eat, sleep, walk) days merge into days, that merge into weeks. Before you know it, the week or month is over and you feel trapped in a cycle of time. I do anyway but that's just me. This afternoon, I meet another stay at home dad for a baby walk here in Moscow.
The landlady must replace the sink as there is a problem with it but the hole for it in the kitchen and the current sink are not a "standard" size so she is having problems to find another one, can you believe it? Why buy one like that in the first place? The plug in the sink in the bathroom also does not fit, so when I try to fill the sink up with water to shave, the water runs away. I asked the letting agent about this and he said just leave the water running. Coming from a more Eco friendly country, I was shocked at this. I now realize that Russians have zero concept of waste, resources or global warming. The country is rich in gas and oil so any idea of ecology and global warming is alien to them as a people and as a culture. They love the car here and pump out loads of smoke each day from their cars.
I must go now to the baby club, I'll report back later this week.
October 05, 2009
The weather seems to be changing today and its very windy with some rain. Went for a walk down to the Kremlin to see Putin for tea and cakes but he was out so I turned back as junior was getting upset. He does not like to stay in the pram too long but I often give him a biscuit, which keeps him quite for a while. Top right fruit & veg market Moscow.
Started my fitness regime today and went for 30 minuets on the exercise bike while he slept. I have decided to get up early each day and go running in one of the many long parks they have here. The only bad thing is, I'll be breathing in lots of carbon dioxide from all the cars but what choice is there in Moscow, Hope I can stick to the plan. Must see a doctor about my perforated ear drum, perhaps I can have an operation next year here in Moscow? we will see. This week should be busy as I'm going to meet lost of baby clubs and tomorrow I join the Britsh Womens club, we meet at Startbucks for coffee. The price of a cup of coffee in there is just crazy.
It's always hard starting in a new country when you don't know anyone or the area. Hopefully in time it will get easier, but I have the feeling of being lost and cut off here. Moscow is a big city but I'm sure there is lost to see and do here once you get out and about. Junior made the biggest brown poo explosion today, I thought an elephant had gone in his nappy. Must be due to the sweet corn and ham baby food I gave him today. Just thought I would share that with any readers of this blog. I miss Slovakia.
Moscow weather information -
October 03, 2009
later today, we went to an "Ausan" the French supermarket chain, they have many here. We found it without any problems. At the weekends the roads here are more normal for driving and less packed. We spent another 150 pounds on more stuff. Consequently, we won't be shopping except for milk and veg for the next 3 weeks.
Ausan is huge and my eyes got bigger when I saw all the cakes. See photo.
October 02, 2009
Today, junior and I went for a walk with 7 or 8 nice French women. We were of course the only boys except for one other baby boy who came along with his mum, I do not speak French, much to my shame but intend to learn (or have been) saying that for the last 10 years. Junior cried a bit and I had to dash into a shop to change his nappy on the floor of a pharmacy. We found out where a good supermarket is and an outdoor vegetable and fruit market. The market is open only Fridays and Saturdays. Important things when you are a man at home and the main (only) cook in the house. Little things like that in my world mean a lot. My next idea is to join the "Women's Institute", I'll get my dress out and hope they don't notice my beard.
It was good to get out the flat and mix with others. Today at one o'clock the landlady comes who only speaks Russian, to fit a small wooden piece of furniture by the front door for coats, (she chose it from a catalog) it is not my taste but she is paying, besides I could not argue anyway as I don't speak Russian. I must also fix the new car plates to the car, (that's another story the moving company lost our car papers so its only now that we can drive it although the car has been here for 4 weeks). I'll do this while Junior is sleeping in his bed. Yes I know you cry, "you can't leave a child alone", but its only for 10 Min's and his is in his room asleep and can't come to any harm. The weather in Moscow has changed and is now cold, windy and wet. So far, all is quiet next door and the TV and drilling has not yet started but who knows this could change later? - see other post.
October 01, 2009
Drilling all day above you and a TV sound through the wall plus a baby gremlin, pushes the limits to sanity.Note to self: Get out more and relax.
Question to self: Why do children love touching all electric cables and sockets? you tell them off with a NO and they just smile and crawl back to their project of destruction they were pursuing before you told them off! Sorry to sound soft, but I love my kid.
Well its now the second month here. I have been out on the Metro a few times carrying my child on my back in a kid backpack. I get funny looks from Russians, I think Russians like children and a smile grows over the miserable faces. The Metro is a beautiful to look at, but like any big city the Metro is very crowded. Not speaking Russian does make it hard and you have to plan all trips on the Metro before you go so not to get lost. Our car is still un-usable as the customs did not take a note of the engine number on their form as I'm told they are too lazy to look at the engine to check it. The moving company( who's name I wont mention), lost our car ownership papers so although our car arrived in Russia we have not been able to collect till this week. Staying at home all day is hard when you are used to working in my case since the age of 16, although I am lucky to spend time with my offspring its hard work looking after a baby. You have strict feeding and sleeping routines that must be followed and many nappies to change. This is all the more hard in an alien place like Moscow.
Finding a flat here is not easy, its very overpriced a basic flat can be from 2,000 euro per month and they like to be paid in cash as they do not pay tax. The standard of most flats is very poor unless you can spend 3,000 and more per month. Most Russians seem to think that foreigners have their rent paid for by their employers but those days are over for most expats abroad. More thoughts on this later....
I don't know anyone here yet so I feel a bit lonely and isolated here, this may improve, we will see. I have applied to join the Women's Institute, yes that's what I said, the women institute! although I am a man, my wife can join and I can go along as a member to their coffee and knittingmornings, where the conversation may jump from birthing experiences to my husband is a *** tard etc etc. Its way of meeting other parents. I am trying to form a men's parents club. there are more and more "stay at home dads" nowadays so I may have some luck? We will see. Sorry for my spelling and punctuation on this blog but I have no patience to check it!