Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Couch Cushions and Back Bends

Liv and I were playing a game where she was the architect, and I was the builder, and we stacked three couch cushions on top of each other. I thought this would make a good spot for me to try a back bend (spoiler: I can't do a back bend). Liv yelled, "That's not what this is for!" and jumped on top of the cushions just as I went to do a back bend. I fell on top of her, and the cushions slid, knocking us both to the ground. "You're squishing me!" Liv said. But when I tried to get up, I could only lift my head up two inches because she was laying on my hair, and I was laying on her. So I was stuck staring at the ceiling, and Liv was stuck being squished. After yelling and giggling for Tyler to help us, he finally saved us by pulling us up at the same time. We are ridiculous.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Life Changes Yet Again for the Madsens

What do you write after an 8 month absence? I guess all the crazy updates.

I spent 3 weeks in Russia last summer and had the time of my life! All that was missing was Tyler and Liv!

I came back and started what I didn't know would be my last semester of grad school. During that semester:

  • Liv started preschool at Bloomington United Gymnastics and Soccer and loved it!!
  • We found out I was pregnant
  • I went home for Amy's bridal shower
  • Ran two Color Run 5k with Liv
  • We spent most of Thanksgiving break in Chicago (freezing!)
  • Tyler received a job offer in Utah with 4Life in their International Department--Eurasia
  • I turned 30
  • Tyler tiled the bathroom
  • We packed up the house
  • Moved to Utah
  • I passed the Foreign Service Exam!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (A huge goal of mine)
  • I interviewed for the job I have now (Director of International Outreach at More Good Foundation)
Apparently we like to have all life-changing news happen at the same time.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Thoughts on Cultural Exchange

The level of cultural exchange that has occurred among the students has been incredible! While at Kuchak, we had the opportunity to really get to know other students.  We had students finding any common language they could: some Americans using German to speak with Russian students if both had studied it in school, some using Russian, others English, and some using me as an interpreter between English and Russian.  We had a fantastic game of volleyball, with Russians versus Americans.  The Russian students won the first round and the Americans the second.  We wondered if we should leave it at that for friendship's sake, but decided to play a third anyway.  The Russians ended up taking the third match, and we all had a great time!  We even went down the line and congratulated all of the players.  One of the Russian students then introduced us to the Russian banya, which is like a sauna.  This was a great cultural experience for all involved, as we got to try something very Russian.  We then took back to the cabins for some card playing, with the Russians teaching the American students "fool," a card game that is very popular here.  The students from Indiana then taught the Russian students how to play Eucher (unsure of spelling here), a card game that is played a lot in Indiana.  Though some of this took place with an interpreter present, much of it did not, and the students were very creative with explaining difficult rules to speakers of other languages.  Instead of playing cards after the first few rounds, I decided to talk to some of the students who weren't playing.  We started with a group of three of us in the hall chatting, but by the end of the conversation, we had attracted quite a few interested students, and our numbers swelled to 8-10.  They were asking me questions about our culture, our educational system, and even our political system, and then I would ask them questions, and we would talk about the similarities and differences.  It was amazing to get to know the students better, and to hear their impressions of us, and to share all of the things that we have enjoyed about being in Russia.  The relationships that have been built reaffirm to me the importance of cultural exchange, study abroad, and language learning.  I have seen how the students on both sides have become more motivated to learn each other's language in order to communicate better.  I have heard several students comment on how wonderful it has been to meet other people in their field who are studying much the same questions as they are.  We look forward to contuing to build these relationships when we return home.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Russia on My Mind

I have had insomnia for days (meaning as soon as I wake up in the night, I can't fall back asleep, so I do get some sleep, just not as much as I'd like), and I woke up at 4:00 am.  After trying unsuccessfully to sleep, I decided to be ridiculous and ask Tyler if he wanted to wake up and bleach my hair, because who doesn't want to do that at 4:20 am?  So here we are, putting foils in my hair, hoping it'll process before I have to leave and catch my shuttle to the airport. Did I mention we're using a pinwheel because we couldn't find a comb?

I am really excited to be going back to Russia, but I'm nervous in a way I haven't experienced yet.  I always miss my family when I'm gone, but it's different now that I have a child.  I have dreaded leaving Liv ever since I was accepted to the program.  I'm so torn between wanting to go to Russia and wanting to just stay and hang out with her.  Luckily, she is excited that she is going on a trip of her own to grandma and grandpa's, and she can't wait to see her cousins!  I think the separation will be harder on me than on her.  I'm also sad to be leaving Tyler, and this will be the longest that we've been apart since we got married.

The good news: I'm going to Russia!  And people want to go to the banya!!! Already a very promising adventure :)  The other students seem like they will be so much fun to get to know better, and they are up for exploring, so I'm very happy!  I also get to visit Moscow on Saturday and see some friends from when I lived there.  It makes me so nostalgic for my summer there in 2009.  That was one of the happiest times in my life, and it will be weird to go back without some of the people that made it so unforgettable (Acia, Eli, and Tyler to be precise).

Here's to more great memories.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Earlier today I said something along the lines of, "I don't know what I'm doing with my life," and Liv said, "No, it's MY life!" which pretty much sums up why I don't really know. 

She also asked me today if I am writing about doubling in books, which made me realize she's doomed to be a literature major some day. 

We went for a walk yesterday, and Liv saw a guy running past without his shirt on.  She said, "That boy is naked!  Why is that boy naked?"

The other day, she told me I needed to get out of bed so we could go to the florist.  I wondered if she knew what that meant, so I asked her what we would get there, and she told me she wanted blue flowers. Then she brought me a pretend blue flower later.

Liv has really been into dancing and coloring the last few days.  She is really getting her coloring down.  Before, it was just scribbles, but now it is more controlled lines that she can draw.  She's also really fun to dance with.  She has some good moves!