Saturday, January 06, 2018

Choir at the orphanage

Thank you for praying! Our whole family went on Wednesday, and it was wonderful.

Some of the church youth who are in the theater group wore costumes and played games with the kids:

Then the choir sang and recited:

Then there were more games and skits:

Toward the end, the choir kids paired up with the kids in the audience and made crafts. Then the choir handed out the presents they had prepared. All of that was really sweet, but I can't share the photos because we're not supposed to show faces of the kids who live at the orphanage. So, like I've said before, you can imagine it.

When we got back on Wednesday, most of the teens rushed right into preparation for a three-day Christmas camp at church. Raia was so excited that they had asked her to be a helper in that this year! She came home with us after the orphanage, but just to get her things and go back to church, where she's been since then. She has gotten to sleep there with her best friends and work at the camp. Asya and Bogdan have been really enjoying days at the camp, too. Today is the last day of that.

Tomorrow is Christmas (again)!

Then, next week we'll start back to school. Our family and music school had a Christmas-to-Christmas break, even though some of the schools around here started their break later and have another week off now. Art school will doing a camp all next week, and they asked Raia to help with that, too. At first I thought she wouldn't, since her siblings aren't going to be there, and we'll be doing school and music. But then I said that she can help in the afternoons, so the excitement continues, at least for her.

Monday, January 01, 2018

The Christmas play

Happy New Year!

On Friday the church theater group that Jaan is in performed their Christmas play. It was a wonderful version of Dicken's Christmas Carol. There are all these photos online already, and you might have seen the one that I posted of Jaan and his friend "Scrooge" right after the performance. Now I'm putting all the rest of our photos and videos here. I took video in almost every scene where Jaan spoke. In the first one he said that I missed the funny part (yes, I did), but at least there's a photo of that (him with the wreath around his neck).

I really liked the snow, so here are a photo and a video just to show that:

Then another video with Jaan in it:

A final video:

Now that the play is over, our next big event is Wednesday. We're going to the orphanage with the church children's choir. Please pray specifically that our own children will stop coughing, so they can go, too! The kids there really love our kids and have been looking forward to this for weeks. Of course, it will be fine even if ours can't go, but it would be so much more special with them.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Concert Week

This past week was full of music school concerts. Tuesday was folk instruments, Thursday was Jaan's teacher's concert, and Friday the whole winds and strings departments had a big concert at our church. That was Asya's first time playing her flute at a concert.


Their duet
Getting an award
A game
Saint Nikolai
Some of the performers
(better photo here)
Saying poems
Duet with his teacher
Another duet
Svetlana Mikhailovna and her students (and Raia)

Asya her special guest
Now we're done with music school events. They still have a few more lessons before holiday break, though. Then there's the art school celebration tomorrow, lots of church children's choir, and the theater performance that Jaan will be in. It's starting to feel a lot like Christmas!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Advent 2017

Since we're about halfway through Advent, I guess it's time for me to write about it. I like to have these posts to record what we've learned and thought about during Advent every year.

This year we're doing a very simple Jesse tree with the Jesus Storybook Bible. The Old Testament stories all end with a note of looking forward to Jesus. Having everything ready to go in Russian makes it very easy. Bogdan colors the little pictures from here and we stick them to our mirror. We sing the songs that have become tradition in our family--Адвент наступает and O, come, o, come Emmanuel in several languages--and we're learning Lo, how a rose ere blooming, which fits well with Jesse tree readings. Then we're also listening to The Christmas Mystery again, like we did our first year in this house.

Our Advent wreath is different again this year. The pyromaniacs in the family just couldn't leave candles alone, and Bogdan and Asya needed a craft to do, so they came up with this:

The stump is a spontaneous creation of Bogdan's from the first day of December, when we were reading about how a "shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse." I added a quote from Ann Voskamp, whose books I checked out for myself, but have also been sharing with our older kids.

And that's that: Advent 2017. 

Saturday, December 02, 2017


Last Saturday we celebrated Thanksgiving with our extended family of Americans and Canadians. It was a really fun, beautiful, delicious, and musical day.

I ordered sweet potatoes to share, which was a Thanksgiving first for us. Bogdan helped me to prepare one set of them like my grandmother used to with toasted marshmallows on top. We made another batch like candied yams. Yum!

Another fun first was a family concert after the meal. Lots of the kids and some of the adults shared music, and one family did a funny skit. That really added to the fun of the day.

Comparing their flutes
Trying piano and balalaika together
Dinner conversation
The concert

Trying a ukulele afterwards

Also, the past few years we have celebrated Thanksgiving late, which means that it falls on Holodomor remembrance day. I now put a memorial candle on the table with every Thanksgiving meal. At first it seemed strange to remember famine victims in the midst of such abundance, but then I realised that it actually fits with the theme very well. The first Pilgrims were thanking God for a good harvest after a hard start when half of them died. We can definitely remember tragedies while being thankful at the same time.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

An addition to yesterday's post

Raia's teacher sent us some photos that are better than the one I got:

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A musical morning

We didn't get much regular school done today, but there was lots of music! This morning Jaan and Raia played at a little concert for one of the schools in our neighbourhood.

I should have started the video a bit earlier, because they introduced Jaan and Raia with a riddle, so all the kids yelled "balalaika" as the answer right as Raia took her seat. It was cute. I missed that part, but you can hear the song they played:

Jaan and I left right after his part in the concert to go to Asya's lesson. We needed help with his accompaniment for her first little song and learning to get her flute in tune with our piano.

It was fun to see Asya's teacher working with her some, too.

We cancelled Jaan's piano lesson for today, but he and Raia still have ensemble to go to. Like I said, lots of music today.