Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Ten years in Ukraine!

We have been here for a whole ten years now. This is one of the first family photos I could find of us in Ukraine. It was taken in the fall, and we arrived in spring, so it's not exactly ten years ago, but close:

And then here we are now:
We've changed!

Someone remembered that when we had been here for five years, we made a cake to celebrate, so of course they wanted another one now.

I am so thankful!!!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Adventures with Bogdan

In the past week Bogdan and I have gone on two wonderful adventures together. The first was on Monday. Some friends of ours are buying a house in a village near us, and I wanted to see how far away it actually is. So, in the afternoon while everyone else was at art/music/theater/office, we set out to explore. It was such a beautiful spring day, and such an incredible place to wander in! Bogdan said that he felt like we went to... "what was that place where we stayed in a hotel and went on walks?" Askania Nova! We did find our friends' new house, but of course, all we could do was walk past it, since the old owners still live there. The main attraction was walking along the little river. We saw wild ducks, turtles, muskrats, frogs, and so many kinds of birds. The muskrats were my favourites. I saw one, but Bogdan didn't, so I suggested that we sit and wait for it to come out again. We waited very quietly on one of the little footbridges with our feet swinging over, and sure enough, the muskrat came out. It swam right toward us to get a better look, which kind of scared Bogdan.

We walked a whole lot, and we were pretty tired when we headed home. I realised that I had 20 griven in my pocket and suggested ice cream cones. Bogdan instantly announced that he wanted white ice cream with strawberry jam on top. I had to tell him no, because I only had 20 for the two ice creams, not enough for jam. And then we saw another grivnya lying on the ground! When we got to the ice cream stand we found out that, yes, jam costs one grivnya. Bogdan got exactly what he wanted. We decided that was a special treat straight from God to us.

The next adventure was yesterday. For our beloved Oksana's birthday, Alys organised a really special day. She initially invited Raia and Asya to come, but we were planning on being in a small car, and both girls were busy, so I suggested bringing Bogdan instead. First we went to Kakhovka to get Oksana, then on to Dnepryani for a visit with some of the boys she grew up with. When we said goodbye to the boys, we went on to a lovely place along the Dnepr River and had a picnic. I didn't get any photos there, but it really was wonderful. Bogdan absolutely loved running around, catching creatures along the edge of the river and observing all the wildlife. He was asleep within five minutes of when we drove away from there. He woke up when we got back to Kakhovka, though, and enjoyed riding around on Oksana's bicycle with her.

Right now we're getting ready to go show the rest of the family (minus Raia, who is at a conference) the little river near us.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Christ is Risen!

I haven't written about Easter Day yet. Spring arrived the day after it, and I have been spending all my free time outside. Everything is so beautiful right now!

It was a beautiful holiday, too. The day before Bogdan and I made our breakfast cake. He went to bed with it looking plain, with the tomb closed.

And this is what it looked like the next morning, when we woke everyone with loud Easter bells and songs:

Because of everyone's full schedules we had to have an early breakfast, and I risked having it outside. Yes, it was chilly, but beautiful.

Right after breakfast half of us had to go sing at the early service, while the other half cleaned up, got dressed, and enjoyed coffee. Then we were all together for the second service.

Bogdan really likes the decoration by the entrance to the church:

He did not like my idea of taking a photo in the pretty grass by the bus stop while we waited on the way home:

This is the only photo I got of our special meal after church. It was delicious, though! This was the first time we've had asparagus in Kherson. It's rare, and we love it. We also had sweet potatoes (another rarity) and roast beef with mushrooms. Yum.

After we ate, Jaan had to hurry off for a theater performance at a youth Easter picnic for several churches together. Raia went soon after that to join her friends as spectators at the same event.

At home we enjoyed sitting out in the sun without coats for the first time this year, read the Easter story from our children's Bible, and then Will hid Easter eggs for our kids. We had never done that before, but they kept asking about it, and the big kids got to go to a fun event without them, so this was their special treat.

The rest of the day was just quiet and happy. It was such a joyful holiday for all of us.


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Happy birthday, Bogdan!

His big day was a really nice, simple one. We did a little bit of school in the morning, but mostly we just played. Raia spent long, focused time with him, making crafts that he really wanted to work on with her.  Later when the girls went to art, Jaan stayed home from theater and kept the fun times going, working and playing outside with him. The boys' big projects were to cut up the Christmas tree for a fire, then build the fire, and help cook hot dogs for dinner. After dinner each sibling presented Bogdan with things they had made or bought for him, and then he got his big present from us, too.

Minion hot dogs!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Back to normal?

After two full weeks of school quarantine, then a seventh birthday yesterday, maybe we'll get back into regular life now? Of course, the electricity would be off today.

School quarantine was even more disruptive this year than I remember from before. Our kids' music teachers weren't actually sick, and they really wanted to get in all their individual lessons, plus some, plus get home early every day themselves. So, most mornings when I was wanting to do regular school at home, their teachers were calling for them. (Raia even almost accused me of being unpatriotic: all the schools in Ukraine are supposed to close, you know! Why are we trying to do school?!)

Then we had the wonderful addition of having all their friends out of school and actually healthy. This quarantine was at least as much, maybe more, about saving money on gas as it was about sickness. So, their friends were constantly wanting to visit or invite them over. Plus crazy weather: so much was planned then cancelled again and again.

They did finally have one concert on Friday. Jaan and Raia played in that one. (Photo and video below.) Asya's was scheduled earlier, then rescheduled for Saturday, then put off again.... Now we still don't know when it will be. At least Asya got to have a sleepover with her friend Sonya.

Jaan is obvious; Raia is in the middle.

Bogdan's birthday was great fun. I'll write about that when I have electricity and can get to the photos on our computer. Unfortunately, now he has an awful cold. Poor guy. He's very sad about staying home from art class today.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Brother and sister

Two different moments from the past week:
What happens when the big brother is asked to help with tooth brushing, and when the big sister sweetly offers to help get ready to go out in the snow.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Spring snow silliness

Yesterday one of our friends posted a video on Facebook, and soon lots of the men from the churches around here were copying it. Maksim's is the best, so you should go watch that now. Then come back and watch our version....

Update: after all the videos on Facebook, another acquaintance of ours posted this video of how it really should be done.