Thursday, August 27, 2015

Indiana/Florida trip, part 8

(No one mentioned that my numbering in this series stuttered. I just went back and fixed that. I think.)

We finally get to Florida! My flight was late getting out of Chicago, and it was an evening flight anyway, so I pretty much arrived and went to bed.

The next day, my sister and sweet nieces came over. I gave presents...

(All photos after this are from Mom.)
...and got to know them again. Last time I saw them Isla was 3, and Aliana was a baby, so we were almost starting from scratch. I desperately missed having my own children there, because they all would have had so much fun together, but I also enjoyed being without them and therefore able to focus on the others.

Great Grandma came down for lunch:

And then I guess it was that evening that we went shopping. Mom and Dad took me to Trader Joe and Target (? or Walmart?).

By the lake behind the stores
So, it was a nice, quiet family day, and I enjoyed it very much.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Seven quick takes: Duck tales, neighborhood stuff, funnies, etc

:: 1 ::

Our ducks continue to entertain us. Each girl duck has her own barrel for nesting, but recently Belyshka has been laying her eggs in Shokoladka's barrel. Shokoladka actually takes time to line her barrel with feathers and to sit on the eggs. She has mothering instincts that Belyshka completely lacks. Recently, while Shokoladka was in the favored barrel, Belyshka just laid an egg on the ground in the yard. Shokoladka was not happy about that. She tried to roll it across the yard to the barrels. When that didn't work, she built a nest all over and around it, peeping the whole time at Belyshka, as if to explain to her that she shouldn't just leave these things lying around in any old place!

:: 2 ::

Can you handle another duck tale? On the hottest days lately we've been putting out wash basins full of water for the ducks to cool off in. Porosenok gets in and starts spinning at full speed, until he has created a whirlpool that just keeps spinning him. It's hilarious to watch! Does he thinking he's swimming to somewhere fast?

:: 3 ::

There was some neighborhood excitement one morning, when an alarm next door went off. The house there is sitting empty, so they put a burglar alarm on it. Well, when the alarm went off the first time, a security car arrived, but without keys. In the process of getting over the wall to check on things, one of the guys accidentally shot with his gun! Shooting! In our neighborhood!?!?

:: 4 ::

We've really been enjoying the neighborhood children's library this summer. At least one of our older three is there almost every day. Once Jaan made two trips in one day! I took Bogdan and attended one of the little programs that they put on for the kids. He was so funny. They started with games outside, but he kept asking, "Where are the books? When are we going to read?" until we finally did go in for the reading time. Then he was very happy.
From the library's Facebook page

:: 5 ::

(This is shared with Raia's permission.) Yesterday Raia wanted to make my birthday cake all by herself. So, we went over the recipe, and then I left her in the kitchen. A little bit later she came to me with an empty jar of (special American) baking powder, saying that she needed another one, and where is it? What?! She had used up the whole jar! So, I went to check, and found all her dry ingredients mixed together. Most of what was in the bowl was baking soda and baking powder. With her creative translation and reading skills she had decided that "tsp" must mean "tseliy packet" or "tselaya pachka" (whole packet), i.e. one whole bag of baking soda and two jars of baking powder! We laughed so hard together, and that's why she said that I could share; it really was funny. There were mishaps the second time around, too, but she finally ended up with a cake that looks great. We'll be finishing up the decorating of it soon here, and then eating it.

:: 6 ::

The best birthday present for me: "my" Little K. out at the orphanage met her new parents today.

:: 7 ::

Last week Oksana was baptized. I was so happy to be able to be there for that. Please pray for her as she continues to learn and grow in the Lord.

I will still finish my travel log. There are more photos to sort for the Florida part than there were from before, and I haven't had as much time. But I will do it. Soon.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Indiana/Florida trip, part 7: Chicago interlude

After the retreat was over, the next morning, my wonderful friend came from Michigan to pick me up. She joined us for sweet time singing hymns together with the Advisory, Auxiliary, and other AO friends. Then she took me to Chicago to treat me to a fun day together. We hadn't seen each other for years, so we had a lot to catch up on. We talked all the way to Chicago, around Navy Pier (an amazing place for people watching! so many interesting people!), at a fun mafia-themed restaurant, and then on to the airport. From there I flew on to Florida. I can't express how good that day in between was.

Thank you so much, Roz!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Indiana/Florida trip, part 6: A magical moment

On the way back to the house after the first day of the retreat, we saw such a beautiful scene that we had to stop and soak it in a bit. And the car behind us had to stop, too, but they were with us and knew what was going on.

Naomi and Amy tried to get video or photos, but nothing shows the beauty of what it was really like. The sunset and the field show up, but not the millions of fireflies. All together it was breathtaking. Plus, there was the added fellowship of enjoying with likeminded friends. We talked about "that part where Charlotte wrote about storing up beautiful scenes in our memories for later," and everyone knew what we meant. (I pasted in that whole section of the book we were talking about below.)

Naomi sent me her photo of the scene, and I also tried to paint it from memory. I want to paint again while actually looking at Naomi's photo; I know now that I need to make the colors brighter.

I also added glitter to my sketch, to show the fireflies. When Will saw it, he thought that the girls had gotten to my painting, so I guess it looks childish, but I like it. I'll probably do it again on my next try at capturing this, too.

Charlotte Mason's vol 1 pg 49-50


Method of.––So exceedingly delightful is this faculty of taking mental photographs, exact images, of the beauties of Nature we go about the world for the refreshment of seeing, that it is worth while to exercise children in another way towards this end, bearing in mind, however, that they see the near and the minute, but can only be made with an effort to look at the wide and the distant. Get the children to look well at some patch of landscape, and then to shut their eyes and call up the picture before them, if any bit of it is blurred, they had better look again. When they have a perfect image before their eyes, let them say what they see. Thus: 'I see a pond; it is shallow on this side, but deep on the other; trees come to the waters edge on that side, and you can see their green leaves and branches so plainly in the water that you would think there was a wood underneath. Almost touching the trees in the water is a bit of blue sky with a soft white cloud; and when you look up you see that same little cloud, but with a great deal of sky instead of a patch, because there are no trees up there. There are lovely little water-lilies round the far edge of the pond, and two or three of the big round leaves are turned up like sails. Near where I am standing three cows have come to drink, and one has got far into the water, nearly up to her neck,' etc.

Strain on the Attention.––This, too, is an exercise children delight in, but, as it involves some strain on the attention, it is fatiguing, and should only be employed now and then. It is, however, well worth while to give children the habit of getting a bit of landscape by heart in this way, because it is the effort of recalling and reproducing that is fatiguing; while the altogether pleasurable act of seeing, fully and in detail, is likely to be repeated unconsciously until it becomes a habit by the child who is required now and then to reproduce what he sees.

Seeing Fully and in Detail.––At first the children will want a little help in the art of seeing. The mother will say, 'Look at the reflection of the trees! There might be a wood under the water. What do those standing up leaves remind you of?' And so on, until the children have noticed the salient points of the scene. She will even herself learn off two or three scenes, and describe them with closed eyes for the children's amusement; and such little mimics are they, and at the same time so sympathetic, that any graceful fanciful touch which she throws into her descriptions will be reproduced with variations in theirs.

The children will delight in this game of picture-painting all the more if the mother introduce it by describing some great picture gallery she has seen––pictures of mountains, of moors, of stormy seas, of ploughed fields, of little children at play, of an old woman knitting,––and goes on to say, that though she does not paint her pictures on canvas and have them put in frames, she carries about with her just such a picture gallery; for whenever she sees anything lovely or interesting, she looks at it until she has the picture in her mind's eye; and then she carries it away with her, her own for ever, a picture on view just when she wants it.

A Means of After-Solace and Refreshment.––It would be difficult to overrate this habit of seeing and storing as a means of after-solace and refreshment. The busiest of us have holidays when we slip our necks out of the yoke and come face to face with Nature, to be healed and blessed by
     "The breathing balm,
     The silence and the calm
     Of mute, insensate things."
This immediate refreshment is open to everybody according to his measure; but it is a mistake to suppose that everybody is able to carry away a refreshing image of that which gives him delight. Only a few can say with Wordsworth, of scenes they have visited
          "Though absent long,
     These forms of beauty have not been to me
     As is a landscape to a blind mans eye;
     But oft, in lonely rooms, and mid the din
     Of towns and cities, I have owed to them,
     In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
     Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
     And passing even into my purer mind,
     With tranquil restoration.
And yet this is no high poetic gift which the rest of us must be content to admire, but a common reward for taking pains in the act of seeing which parents may do a great deal to confer upon their children.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Indiana/Florida trip, part 5

Okay, the actual conference time:

Kathy led some singing, with her little helper.
Donna-Jean led everything else.
Her closing message about Charlotte Mason in hard times, pretty much took everything in my heart and brought it together with tons of encouragement. Homeschooling, orphans, Charlotte Mason, and Karyn Purvis all in one? Wow.

Our 15-year NTBI reunion
Misty and I went to Bible school together and then later reconnected online as moms. She came to the retreat with her darling five-month-old twins.

See? Darling!
Karen spoke on "Believe in mind."
She went from Anna Karenina (of course) to Charlotte Mason (of course) and talked about how minds are living and need real spiritual food. I was holding a sweet baby, so I didn't take notes. It was all good. Read her book.

It was all at a beautiful old church.
I'm afraid they didn't appreciate Karen's talk.
Mingling time
Pretty things
Cindy Rollins spoke Saturday morning.
I had to steal this photo from Amy. I'm in it, so you know I didn't take it. Cindy's talk was so good! When she quit blogging, I had just found her blog, and I felt like it was a tragedy not to be able to read what she wrote anymore. Hearing her in person was even better, though. Again, I didn't take notes, but I'll be listening to the recording again, I know. I don't remember if I had heard about her Morning Time before we started our Morning School or not, but that "liturgy" of hers has definitely inspired me when I have read about it. She talked about just doing a little at a time and building those beautiful habits.

Lunch music
My breakout session on foreign languages
(Photo taken by Melisa)
This is a sweet girl who really ministered to my heart. In a lot of ways she is like the kids I work with at the orphanage, but there's a night and day difference, because she has grown up in a loving family. I grabbed this photo when she got my orphanage photo album out to look at her "friends."

And I'm still going. All this was really special for me. If you're tired of it, you don't have to read....

Saturday, August 08, 2015

So good to be back

Beautiful flowers at the orphanage
Because I didn't go on the Saturday before my trip, it was almost a month since I had been to the orphanage. I've missed those kids! Today Raia went with me, and when we got there, the nurse wouldn't let me take the two groups of big kids out. But, since Raia can't come in (yet), I couldn't just stay inside the whole time. So, I begged for little K., and got permission to take her outside alone. I sat with my usual groups inside for a few minutes, heard how they're doing, and gave them the snacks I had brought.

Then I went outside with just one sweet little girl to spoil! Her group is so bed-bound that they don't even have hats and shoes, but I finally remembered to take Bogdan's sandals and Asya's hat for her to borrow. So, she could explore the playground on her own and be out in the sun more than I can usually allow. We wore her out; I think she's probably taking a good nap now. I don't think I've seen her ready to stop moving before, but today, towards the end of our two hours, she just wanted to sit in my lap and snuggle. Very sweet.

Yes, this is the little girl who is getting a family very soon. Please pray for them as they get ready and travel.

Also, there's a new little girl in her group. I just got to meet her today. Maybe I can start spending more time with her, after K. leaves? Of course, I love and hold and feed all of them, but K. was the only who really noticed my presence much at all. I was kind of sad before I got there today, thinking how much I would miss K. after she's gone. (Although I am THRILLED that she'll have a family to love her. Nothing tops that!) And then this new little one also responded when I walked in today, and S. gave me a big smile, and V. played her game of repeating sounds with me, and N. reached out and grabbed my face. It was a good day.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Indiana/Florida trip, part 4

And now we're getting closer to the actual event! A few more photos of the flowers:

Last minute planning

Here they come!

Lots of happy screaming and hugging
"The Bruce hug," reenacted

Many of these ladies "knew" each other through the internet for years, and for many it was their first time to meet in person. The excitement was palpable. We feel like old friends.

In my next post, I'll get to the actual conference part....