Friday, March 20, 2015

Super Papa

While I was gone for two whole weeks, Will kept up with everything here. On top of the usual, he celebrated Bogdan's fourth birthday, did two music school concerts with our own children and attended one more for our friends, supervised the school list that I left, cleaned our house top to bottom, AND redid our bathroom.

Photo evidence of the latter:

The bathroom was in bad condition, but without before photos, you'll just have to take my word for it. The tall, skinny photo shows white wall space. Before, all of that was icky grey from mildew. Tiles had fallen off the walls, and there was nowhere to put anything. It all looks incredible now.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Two weeks. Wow.

I just got back from two weeks in Kyiv. A wonderful family was adopting their sixth, seventh, and eighth children, including one from "my" orphanage. So, I went to Kyiv to stay with the one from here, while her mother traveled to get her brother, and then to help with all the Kyiv running around (and waiting) that they had to do. I know many of you were praying for me/them/us. Thank you! We definitely needed those prayers.

It was really a treat for me to see these children start to bloom. This was just the beginning of the wonders of what they have ahead of them, but it was already dramatic. The picture above shows my little friend, and one of the ways she liked to calm herself after exciting times out in the big world. My first two days with her--while her mama was gone--she was like a newborn. She only wanted me to hold her with lots of skin to skin contact, feed her, and put her to bed. She's sixteen, but she has missed out on so much! She's very, very far behind where a 16-year-old with Down syndrome would usually be.

Then her brother joined us. He's 11 and also has Down syndrome, but he had been in a school, and is in much better shape. (He is so much fun, and he was also starting to bloom and change while I watched.) And we started spending more time out and about. The first time in a restaurant, my little friend tried really hard, but she was so fluttery and anxious that she couldn't eat at all or sit for very long. I took her out and walked her back to the apartment early. A few days later--just a few days!--we tried again at the same restaurant. This time she ate about half her food and handled everything well enough that we even sat and ate dessert; she got a little bit worked up while we were finishing that. A few more days, and we actually tried T.G.I. Friday's, where she ate a nice meal and sat happily, even in a loud environment, even when the power went out. Then... the finale: back to the first restaurant on another evening. This time, we went through the line and got our food. She gulped hers down. I went back for seconds for her. Then thirds. She would have taken more, but we stopped there, and she just nibbled off what I had for myself. This time she was perfectly calm and happy. That much progress in less than two weeks!

That's just one vivid example. I could write more about watching them gain weight, confidence, smiles, trust, ability to express themselves.... (Not to mention how much I enjoyed the super-cute baby brother, too.)

I'm adding a photo of them that I took outside the American embassy, after their last appointment there, when they got their visas:

Monday, March 02, 2015

Photos and funnies

Shokoladka the Duck wanted to be inside with us.
They burned the old Christmas tree.
I'm really late posting this; Will got me 14 roses...
...for our 14th anniversary. Beautiful!
He had them delivered to the fancy restaurant where we were having dinner with all the missionary couples for Valentine's Day. I was so surprised!

Lots of fun with Jaan's hair these days
A quiet evening
For several years now, Jaan has been piano-less. Since we moved here, he has practiced on an old, kid keyboard that our neighbors loaned us. This week Will bought a used electric piano being sold by people leaving Ukraine. Jaan's loving it!

And now a few quotes from Bogdan:
Bogdan and I were crossing a road in a crosswalk, when he looked up and saw a truck headed toward us. It was stopping, but apparently he didn't know that, because he told me something like, "Need to run! I don't like when I'm dead."

He was upset by the fact that dogs, um, do their business on the ground, and he came up with a very creative solution: "Хай 'ав-'ав ед на humph ко-о-о и там кака." Got that? I laughed because he started off with Ukrainian and then included his great love of Kipling, too, not to mention the creativity, and still in his own language. He meant that the dogs should ride camels to somewhere far-r-r away and make their messes there.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Next week

Two big things going on next week:
1) I'm going to Kyiv with a mother who is adopting, just to help out however I can. I'll be staying there with her daughter from here and maybe her baby from Kyiv, while she goes to another region to get their other new son. Please pray for all of us and all the details involved. Plans are still very flexible, and I don't know yet when I'll be back.

2) Will will be staying here with our children, of course. He also needs to keep up with renewing our residency and at least some of what he does for Agape. So, pray for all that, too, please.

I'll try to post some photos and funny Bogdan quotes before I leave. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The little ones

I wrote before about my typical Saturdays. Right after that I was able to start into more regular time with the bed-bound little ones and some others who don't participate in the Bible lessons, as I said that I was wanting to. Now that's part of the routine.

A few months ago the older girls we work with were temporarily moved into a "baby" group (they're really not babies, but they are little and they live in cribs), so I'm easily getting lots more contact with these little ones. After I finish the Bible lesson and take the boys back to their group, it's lunch time. I go in to the babies, and start feeding someone. I usually start with K., because she loves me and won't be calm until I give her some attention. I'm slower than the nannies with feeding, and I make sure we're talking and interacting the whole time. I haven't gotten used to feeding the ones who are flat on their backs all the time, although I do that sometimes. I'm always afraid that they'll choke! They all eat some variation of puree or mush fed to them with spoons. There are eight children in that group, and often about the time I have finished feeding two, the nanny is already done with the rest and cleaning up.

I've been bringing them cookies and juice, too, since I do that for the older kids. For these little ones, I crumble and mash the cookies and mix them with juice and then feed that to them after their regular lunch. I've noticed that some have definitely come to expect a sweet treat when they see me; I must be the cookie lady in their minds.

There's one absolutely precious little girl who is blind. I hadn't spent much time with her, because she's very fearful, and I didn't want to upset her. However, this week, the nanny told me that this little one always thinks she's hungry. No matter how much they spoon into her, she has a fit when they're done. (And she really is getting enough; there is no danger of actual hunger here.) So, this time before she even started to protest that her lunch was over, I took her a bowl of cookies. She did fuss when that was gone, but she also let me take her out of her crib and comfort her some in my arms. She could only stand a few minutes of that, but she was calm when I put her back. I'm going to try to hold her each week now, and see if she can get more comfortable with that and with me.

Oh, and about little K.... The time before last, the nannies seemed really tired and one had a toothache or something. So, they asked me to take K. with me when I took the older ones out for the Bible lesson. I wasn't too sure how that would work; teaching and interacting with the older ones, with her clinging to me? But I tried it, and it was fine. She sat in her stroller and listened and even "sang" with us. This week, she obviously wanted to go again and kept trying to pull me toward the classroom. But, there were other guests visiting at the same time, so I just walked her back and forth the whole time. She can only walk with support, and she loves when someone helps her practice. Then, when the guests left, I put her back in her stroller to do a short lesson with the older kids. She screamed for a minute, but as soon as we started singing she was sound asleep after all the exercise and excitement that she'd had.

Thank you for praying for me and for these little ones. Maybe you can pray specifically for a family to come for K.? She's the only one in that group who I know for sure is available for adoption. Thanks!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

More randomness

I was just taking photos off the camera. Here are a few:

School on the first sunny morning!

Asya's drawing for the library
Leftover orphanage crafts
I keep wanting to write about the fun and busyness of January, but I'm just not getting around to it. So, if you want to read my friend's words about it, most of what I was doing was helping her. And here's a video that includes the sweet girl who was just adopted here (she's Chesnie now), plus other kids and families, a few of whom I know.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Raia's second concert

Very soon after Raia's first concert, she was invited to play at another concert. She jumped at the chance. I thought it was pretty funny, because before she started at music school, she was looking forward to everything except concerts. She thought that concerts would be scary. Apparently experience changed her mind right away. I missed the concert, but Will recorded her part for us: