Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Seven quick takes: Updates

I was looking back over what I've written recently, and I realized that there are many updates that I can give. So, in no particular order, here are continuations of bits that started earlier....

:: 1 ::

Bogdan: I thought we had gotten over the difficulty of going to art school. It's gotten even worse now, though, so please pray for him (and me). He actually cries.  That's only for about a minute, though; I listen outside the door. Strangely, he's loving it more and more, too. If I ask him at the end of an art school day what his favourite thing was, he's sure to say "School!" Or, this week, when he had a cold and had to stay home, he moaned about not being able to go. So, he does really enjoy it, getting there is just an ongoing struggle.

:: 2 ::

Karina: Her family is so kind to share updates with me. I love hearing about how she's blooming in her new family. She's ice skating every week now! Even though she can't walk on her own yet. Amazing. And she's just so beautiful:

:: 3 ::

Oksana: She came through her surgery well, and is in the midst of her recovery period. It's still a long road ahead, but she is doing well. We've talked with her Skype since the operation, and that is good for all of us. I also took Will's computer and our internet out to the orphanage again, so that all the kids she grew up with and some of the workers could talk to her.

There are a few more photos of her here.

:: 4 ::

Another family: I've only barely mentioned them here, but I know some of you were already praying. Another family has been here adopting. We got to help some with babysitting their other kids, and also we just enjoyed spending time together. Asya really hit it off with one of their daughters and was sad to see her go. They're in Kyiv now, almost done with the whole process and ready to go home in the next few days.

:: 5 ::

Orphanage: What can I say here? I continue to visit on Saturdays, do a lesson/play time with the older kids, and then feed and hold little ones. Recently a sweet internet friend collected and sent a bunch of coats, and I'm excited to get those delivered out there on a day when my favorite worker is on duty. I'm also working toward a visit to the boys who have been transferred--I want to take Will and Jaan to visit them--but I have a lot of details to pull together for that.

:: 6 ::

Will has had some pretty intense busy times lately, but that slowed down a bit now. He coordinated arrangements for two groups visiting in October, and he worked with a publishing company on getting some curriculum published in Russian. Somehow that doesn't sound like much, but it was. Now he's back to working on all kinds of smaller projects, at least for now.

:: 7 ::

I had mentioned that Raia's schedule this year might be too much. So far, she's thriving on it, even with more classes than she had started with. Mondays and Tuesdays wear her out, but she recovers and makes up for it during the rest of the week.

Was there anything else that I started writing about and left you curious?

Monday, November 02, 2015

A week with us

We have a pretty busy weekly schedule. There's a chart on our refrigerator to help us keep track of where everyone is supposed to be at what times. Every morning we do our regular school subjects at home, and then after lunch there's art and music school. And here is what that schedule is now:

Mondays are the longest days. Raia leaves right after lunch and walks to the music school for balalaika and then piano. When she finishes there, she heads over to art school for painting and master classes. Our school-week life works on a big triangle: home is the top, music school at the south-west point, and art school/Agape office/church at the south-east point. By the time Raia is done at art school, it's very dark out, so Will walks her home. (He was already there in the Agape office anyway.) Bogdan also has two hours of preschool at the art school on either Monday or Tuesday, it alternates. Jaan or I take him and pick him up, because he finishes well before Raia.

On Tuesdays Asya has painting and "lepka" (modelling? clay work?) at art school. Raia has solfeggio and music literature, and Will has to get her from that, too, since it doesn't end until after 7:00. Sometimes Jaan goes to get Asya from art school, sometimes I do, now that it's dark when she's done.

Wednesday is just choir for Jaan at music school--he rides his bike there and back--and painting and lepka (and chai!) for Bogdan at art school.

On Thursdays Raia has balalaika and Jaan has piano. Now Raia has a new art class, too, and we're trying to figure out if it's better for her to come home afterwards or just go straight to art school... slowly.

The only thing on Friday is Jaan's group choir class. And we prepare for Saturday.

Saturday! Asya and Raia go to art school together at 9:00, but Raia's classes don't start until a little later. They're often away from home until 3:00 or so, if the church children's choir is practicing after art school. Jaan has solfeggio and music literature, and gets back about the time the girls do. I go to the orphanage. Then every other we week have "English fellowship" with the missionary families, too. Saturdays are the busiest days and the most fun.

The art school has been posting lots of photos on their VK page. Here are a few of our kids that I have particularly liked:

Plus, here are some more from one of Raia's classes and one of Asya's.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Back to normal?

After a few weeks of whirlwind, I think we're settling down a bit. Ever since I left for my week in Lviv at the Agape school, I haven't been able to catch my breath. First was that week away for me, then we had a wonderful visit from Will's parents plus a family here adopting at the same time, plus some other stuff thrown in there, then straight back into our whole usual school schedule. Now it's fall break for the music school, so we're down to just homeschool and art school. Even art school stops tomorrow. So, I can take a deep breath now.

As far as sharing the grandparent visit, Will did a wonderful job of that on Facebook. You should be able to enjoy his albums there, even without a Facebook account. Here are the links:

Lots and lots of photos, and some amusing commentary!

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Watch and listen and pray

While I'm too busy to write, here's something to watch:
Agape school (where I was all of last week. Only in Russian/Ukrainian. Sorry.)

And something to listen to:
The Mason Jar Podcast, with my wise and wonderful friend, Karen.

And, more important than either of those links, please pray for Oksana! Today is her big surgery, and then she'll have a lot of recovery to go through. This is a pretty serious operation. She'll be in the hospital for a few days at first.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Seven Quick Takes: Overwhelmed!

:: 1 ::

Bogdan update: he is loving his lessons at art school. Going to his lessons, not so much. I mean, peeling him off of me and getting him into those classrooms is not easy. But, as soon as he's in class he's relaxed and happy and talks about how wonderful it was for the rest of the week. I can already see that he's learning there, too.

:: 2 ::

I'm going to school, too. Hence the overwhelmed title. On Saturday I'm leaving to go to the first session of this year's Agape school, and I'm trying to pull everything together for a week away. Yikes! Not ready at all. Hopefully I'll be like Bogdan: dragging my feet on the way, but then able to relax and learn once I'm there.

:: 3 ::

Jaan had a birthday last week. He's twelve now! Oksana and Alys celebrated with us. We had lots of fun and games, pumpkin pie, and a late night movie, since Oksana stayed over night, too.

:: 4 ::

Raia is working at settling into her school-year schedule. The beginnings of her weeks are FULL this year, but then the rest of the week slows down for her. We may have to adjust a little, just so that she can handle it better. She is enjoying it, though.

:: 5 ::

Asya has a birthday coming up, too. She's been a bit under the weather with a cold, but it hasn't slowed her down much, and she should be feeling better by the time she turns eight. Her little friend in the other half of this house has been even sicker than she has, so they have been "playing together" through the windows.

:: 6 ::

Karina... the sweetest part of the past few weeks has been Karina's family coming for her. We finally got to meet them--well, some of them--on Saturday. Karina's new papa and her new sister, also just out of an orphanage, came over to spend some time with us. We adults talked and talked, and our children loved playing with little Raia. (Yes! She has the same name as our Raia.) Then the next day they got Karina, and we saw them off to Kyiv. I posted photos on Facebook, and I also love this one that Karina's papa got after they left the orphanage:

(Probably her first time feeling the wind. She would have been in cars before, but a good Ukrainian caretaker would never have allowed wind to blow on her. Apparently she loved it. Freedom!)

:: 7 ::

Our children sitting out in the street with the babushki most evenings really amuses us. I always wish that I could sneak photos of the circle of elderly women sitting on stools and our children right there with them. This evening was the funniest, though. We were running a little late with supper, so I guess they had all gathered while we were still eating. Babushka O. came charging back here to demand children, because the babushki were bored without them, she said.

I'm overwhelmed... by all the fun and busyness and wonderfulness of our life!

Monday, September 07, 2015

Bogdan's first lesson

He has a funny camera face these days.
Bogdan has waited and waited to start art school. He thought summer would never end! But it finally did. Today was his first day. We signed him up for both art and a weekly preschool-ish class there at the art school. The latter was what he had today.

We told him that he needed to go to sleep right away at nap time, because I would be waking him up to go to class. I didn't know how that would work, because I tried to wake him up for a special program at church yesterday, and I couldn't do it. But today he jumped up, flew to get his shoes on, grabbed his snack, and ran for the bus stop. After we got off the bus, he ran again. I could barely keep up with him. But then we got to the classroom... and he froze up. I asked if I could leave him, and he said, "Better not to." So, I sat in the back for the first bit. The teacher had the kids introduce themselves. Bogdan did say his whole name (not Bobo!) loud and clear. Then she asked his last name, and he slid right down in his chair, so that she couldn't see him under the table. She asked his age, and from under the table he held up a hand showing four fingers, but he wouldn't say it aloud.

The teacher was really good about trying to draw him out, but not overwhelm or force him. He seemed to be warming up a little later, so I went out into the hall to read. I could hear his little voice off and on, and he seemed to be doing fine. They did riddles and clay and matching and coloring and talked about the letter A and more. When they finished--the class is a whole two hours long!--he came out jumping up and down and so excited that he could barely contain himself. I asked him if he liked it, and he said, "Very!" (That works in Russian.) He hasn't stopped talking about it since.

So, we have a real preschooler in our family now, not just a homeschooled one. 

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Seven quick takes: starting school, orphanage, and more

:: 1 ::

We had the best first week of school ever. The first day, first week, aren't really supposed to go smoothly, right? Well, somebody forgot to remind my children about that, because it was just idyllic. They have all been really excited to get back into school, and they slid right back into the routine.

:: 2 ::

In the week ahead, we should be moving into the full schedule for other classes and activities, too. Jaan and Raia have both had their first meetings with their music teachers. Raia came back with the award for excellence that she earned at the end of last year. Today both girls had their first lessons of the year at art school, and Bodgan starts there on Monday. It looks like we'll have someone (or two someones) at art on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. Bogdan is going to be taking a preschool-ish class there one day a week, too, not just art. Jaan and Raia will also have their individual and group music lessons; that schedule isn't set yet. Sunday school and church choir start back up tomorrow. Busy times coming up!

:: 3 ::

Jaan and I had another fun time at the orphanage today. (Raia was sad that she can't go now, because of art school.) One of the nannies told me that this is the hottest day of the summer... and it's already fall! So, we're still playing outside. Today we took sidewalk chalk, balls, and music for a song time in the shade. The kids love chalk, but the adults there don't, so I made sure to help with getting everyone cleaned up afterwards. One little guy had gotten so into his artwork, that I had to wash him down and change his clothes completely. Since most of them are in wheelchairs, getting them down on to the ground to draw and then back up again can be quite a production, but it's worth it. Another boy decided to stay in his chair and just give orders for what Jaan should draw for him; I thought that was pretty funny.

:: 4 ::

I already posted this on Facebook, but it was just so sweet: On the way out to the orphanage today, Jaan and I were discussing what he wants to do for his birthday next week. "Can we have all the boys over?" All the boys? Huh? "Mama, these boys. The ones we're going to visit now. Can they come?"

He's been having a hard time with leaving his friends there. He feels like just visiting them once a week isn't doing enough. As Will pointed out, that's pretty much what anyone who works with orphans feels.

:: 5 ::

Oh, she makes me laugh.
I have a whole series of photos along these lines. Raia was in rare form for school photos! She said that I could share this one with grandparents and the rest of you.

:: 6 ::

A really quick take: I sent out a summer newsletter, if you're interested and haven't seen that yet.

:: 7 ::

And... I'm running out of things to say. How can that be?