Sunday, December 24, 1995

Happy Holidays & Novy Gord (Happy New Year)!

Happy Holidays & Novy Gord (Happy New Year)!

   We hope you enjoy this, our first family holiday letter.  So much has happened in 1995 that it's the only practical way to bring y'all up to date.  So just skip over any parts you already know.
   Although we (Mila & Randy) were married after a 3-year courtship on October 12, 1994 in her hometown of Novosibirsk, due to legal complications she & Artyom didn't arrive in the States until 12/23.  The next few months were a chaos of settling in to our first year together (and many thanks to our generous friends, so helpful in that busy time - you know who you are!)
   We really lucked out with Artyom's schooling when he entered Springfield's public school kindergarten.  It seems that greater Springfield has the 4th largest concentration of Russian emigrants to the U.S. (perhaps due to some active church immigration programs, or as an inexpensive alternative to NYC & Boston.)  Result: Artyom's classes had half Russian & half American students, with a teacher from each country.  This gave him an excellent blend of both the immersion and bi-lingual systems, in which all students get exposed in the same classroom to both languages.  The result is that now, in first grade, Artyom's spoken English has progressed from nothing to almost grade level, while he's continued to improve his native Russian.
  Artyom also started children's classes at Aikido of Springfield in January, earning his yellow belt this fall.  It's something that we like to do together & has become the source of most of his playmates. Over summer, Artyom went to YMCA day camp.  He's learned to enjoy camping out and to swim like a fish (literally - he seems to prefer swimming underwater, much to our alarm.) At home, he's figured out computers well enough to know that either "Setup" or "Install" runs most of the CD-ROM software that we check out from the library.
   Mila, besides improving her English and converting Randy's bachelor pad into a home, has been busy working her way up through Springfield's depressed economy.  She's now at "Murasaki", Western Massachusetts's top quality Japanese restaurant.  Ask her if you're not sure of the difference between sushi and sushimi.  Bonuses include excellent takeout and occasionally working the Hartford branch, which is frequented by Russian skaters from the nearby training center.  They're very nice people, not at all stuck up despite their fame, and pleased to chat in Russian.
  Randy, despite an excessive fondness for desserts, earned his Aikido 1st kyu (the rank one level below black belt) and teaches the children's class.  He hasn't been terribly active in the law (MassMutual lets him earn more than most of his classmates, even those on law review.)  He judged some competitions at Western New England College School of Law (his alma mater) & helped some immigrants go through the local court system.  When WNEC hosted Russian judges and defense lawyers in program studying American criminal procedure, Randy recruited helpers including his wife!  Mila knew just how to help these out-of-towners get around - shopping, dining, and so on - since it's what she did for SAIC in Novosibirsk. As a result, the 3 of us attended some really fine parties and made good business contacts in Springfield.
  Perhaps our greatest decision this year was that raising Artyom in a small apartment in downtown Springfield, far from both our families, was not ideal.  ("It was easier to raise a child on my own," says Mila, "when I was living with both of my parents.")  Randy's family lives in Washington State, which has a healthier economy than here and where Mila's professional skills and education will be in more demand (Randy's too, come to think of it....)
   Therefore, we planned to move in summer 1996.  Suddenly, however, MassMutual offered Randy a nice voluntary severance package in support of its merger with Conn Mutual.  Now we are at this moment ditching our worldly possessions (Mila: "No problem, I came here with only two suitcases"; Randy: "But I might need these bank statements from 1984!") and moving to Washington.  Our new home, in the state's best school district, has plenty of room for Artyom to run & for Mila to garden.  It's on an island in a lake between Seattle and Bellevue-Redmond (two hot job spots.)  The mountain views are magnificent, when the clouds are up. Please stop by when you're in town!

  We hope you have the best of luck during the holidays and throughout the new year! In our travels & the adventures of life, we've found that our friends like you are our greatest treasure.

Randy Winn, Ludmila Gulina, Artyom Gulin
After January 6, 1996: 9032 East Shorewood Drive Apt 321, Mercer Island WA 98040

Voice: 206-230-8057   -    email: LawRWinn@Aol.Com