Jordans in Siberia (and Michigan)

Keeping up with daily life of the Jordans

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Getting to School

**It’s two months since school started, but I’m finally getting around to posting a few old blogs that have been written and waiting to be made public….maybe we’ll even get Ryan’s birthday picture taken today (only two months after his birthday!).**


School began last week rather uneventfully. Mostly. The really fun morning was Friday.


Since it is a little less than a mile to school, the boys ride their bikes. I have promised to ride with them for as long as they would like. Of course we all know that they could go by themselves, but we also know that Mommy loves to ride her bike. Thus Eric rides independently and Darin and Ryan go with Mommy through the neighborhoods to school.


On Friday morning we were half way to the middle school when the brakes seized on Darin’s back tire. Something needed adjusting or repairing in the cable, but nothing I could figure out and it was time to be at school. Quickly pulling Darin’s lock chain off of his bike, I handed it to him and gave him my bike to ride. As he pedaled away at top speed I realized I should have taken my own lock from my bike. Then I would have been able to lock Darin’s bike somewhere and leave it for Alan to tend to. Now I was stuck getting it home—and the back tire couldn’t turn freely because of the brake problem.


Ten or fifteen minutes and about as many different carry/push/pull positions later I leaned the bike against our garage and hurried inside the house to get Ryan. His school, which is right next to the middle school, starts 32 minutes later. We usually leave around 8 so that he has plenty of time to be in his classroom before the bell rings at 8:17.


But that day we left early. Although I tried for several minutes, I was unable to pump up the tires on either of our spare bikes. Alan was gone with the van. There was only one way to go to school with Ryan: on foot. While he pedaled slowly and shouted encouragement, I jogged along at a breathless trot. Ryan’s comments didn’t always help—it’s hard to laugh when you are already out of breath.


When we arrived at the bike rack by the elementary school, Ryan cried out in distress. He had forgotten his bike lock. Quickly, I told him where to ride to find the middle school bike rack so that he could get the lock off of my bike. By himself, he bravely rode out of the elementary yard and across the street. When he returned triumphantly one of his shoes was untied. I watched him stand his bike, sit on the sidewalk, laboriously tie the extra long laces and tuck them in carefully. At last he got his bike back to the rack and locked.


After all that, Ryan walked in the school doors with at least five minutes to get ready for the day.


When I reached home Alan was there. He hadn’t even gone in the house yet, but he had already fixed Darin’s bike. We laughed over the misadventures of the morning and I thought of my childhood friend who I had shared lunch with earlier that week. She had just run a half marathon and joked about having someone named “Juli” as her imaginary running partner. I had told her I didn’t think I could run a half mile. After my painful trot to school with Ryan, my laughing comment was confirmed. I really can’t run a half mile. I wonder if using the cross country ski machine in the basement would make a difference?


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Slurpee Day

The July sun was hot that evening when I got Mom’s phone message. I hesitated before informing the boys: “Today is Slurpee Day. You can get a free Slurpee at 7-11.”


Although they had already been horseback riding and spent hours at the lake with friends, the boys clamored to try this American treat.


Thus it was that after supper on the hottest day yet of summer we set out on a mile long walk to 7-11. In spite of the heat, it was fun to be walking down the sidewalk together. Almost every day in Russia we walked somewhere together—it’s the way to get places. For a few minutes, just walking made everything seem better. Then I began to tell stories. The boys can always walk if there is a story to listen to. The sweltering heat didn’t seem so bad anymore, either.


At 7-11 there was a sticky trail across the floor to the Slurpee machine. Special cups for the free Slurpees were on the counter. The boys were astounded that they could simply help themselves and there was no guard watching. Each had to ponder a moment over the multiple flavor selection. Eric decided to mix his. Darin and Ryan each chose a single color. When I picked up a cup to have a Slurpee, too, they all laughed. Each proclaimed that he would be the one to finish if Mommy didn’t want it all.


With our shoes squeaking against the sugary floor, we wished the clerk a “Happy Slurpee Day!” and headed back to the sidewalk. “Let me taste yours,” was the main flow of conversation for a while. Then the boys began to finish theirs. “Are you sure you want all of that, Mommy?” I did.


As we turned into our tree covered road, Ryan stuck out his tongue. “What color is it?” Indeed, it was electric blue. He raced home so Daddy could take a picture before it faded.


At home, the boys sprawled contentedly in the living room. A cooler breeze of evening was beginning to come in the windows. “What a tasty part of American culture,” one of them commented. “In America Slurpees are free one day of the year.”


Another funny culture moment: one evening a teenager came to our door with a fund raiser for his church. He was selling candy. Alan bought some thin mints from him.

The boys watched through the window as the youth walked back down our drive. “Wow,” one of them said. “A teenage boy with dread locks came to our house selling girl scout cookies. America sure is strange.” (The thin mints were not girl scout cookies, but the boys were yet unfamiliar with anything else by that name.)

Ryan had a blue tongue on other days, too....Here's a picture of one in June since I can't find the one we took for this blog.

Ryan had a blue tongue on other days, too….Here’s a picture of one in June since I can’t find the one we took for this blog.