Saturday, December 31, 2011

С Новым Годом!

Thank you for the few replies I've gotten so far from my last post. Please let me know if you have any more.

How did I miss mentioning Jaan choir concert? It was last Friday. He did a great job! I got to hear his group's songs, but then I went out, because Bogdan was absolutely terrified by the applause. It was almost funny; he would be enthralled, fascinated by the music, but then everyone would clap, and he would panic.

You'll won't hear from me again until next year....

Friday, December 30, 2011


I have a little more time than usual to write now, while we're on a break from school. I just don't have many ideas of what to say. Any specific questions out there? Suggestions of what you'd want to hear about?

(You can email, if you don't want to comment:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Another day of Christmas

We didn't really get to have our usual family Christmas fun on December 25, so we carried the celebrations over onto the 26th. I'm probably sharing way too many photos, but you don't have to look at all of them if you don't want to.

We started off at the sledding hill. The snow was melting already, but there was enough for our purposes. (We do have sleds, but there wasn't enough snow for that yet.)


Asya's expression...!


We came back in time for lunch and naps. After nap time, Will made a "fancy" supper of hotdogs and potatoes, while the rest of us prepared a Christmas play, to perform for him as soon as we had all eaten.

Little lamb

An angel!

Joseph and Mary

"An angel of the Lord stood before them"

"Let us go to Bethlehem"

"Mary pondered them in her heart"

The cast

Taking a bow

Then we had my family's traditional birthday cake for Jesus.

Happy birthday, Jesus!

Can you tell that this is my fourth baby? I don't think any of the others had sugar this early. Bogdan's comments were the most enthusiastic "nyams" that we've heard so far.

Carrot cake

...and frosting

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

"First Christmas"

Our children have been referring to December 25 as "First Christmas" and January 7 as "Second Christmas." That sounds better to me than Catholic Christmas (since we're not Catholic) and Russian Christmas (when we're in Ukraine), so I'll go with it. Our First Christmas was a very busy day, because it fell on a Sunday. We spent more than eight hours at church!

So, our First Christmas started off with one of my favorite Christmas moments every year: discovering that the manger is no longer empty! We bring out the navitity figures one by one throughout Advent, but Jesus doesn't appear until Christmas morning.

Asya thinks about Jesus

We didn't have much time at home, but we did eat pistachios and open Christmas cards from my grandmother and church. After a special breakfast of scrambled eggs and cinnamon rolls, we left for church for the Christmas service.

The children sang and recited poems

We actually got a family picture!

Then we came home for a lunch and a short rest. Soon it was time to go back to church for an evening teatime. Our children and I had baked all day on Christmas Eve to do our part in preparing for that. The youth had worked hard to put the whole program together.

Christmas tea

Since other people were using our camera, I posted all the photos from the tea. It was a long, full evening of celebrating Christ's birth. Again, the children sang, the youth sang, people shared, there were games and skits and carols, and lots of treats to eat. Bogdan especially enjoyed that last part. When they finally poured the tea and started eating, he put his mouth down on the table and used both arms to sweep apples and bananas into his mouth.

I think this was the longest, most intense Christmas day we've ever had. Even the next morning, both Will and I were literally barely able to move. We're used to the Christmas season being a marathon, but not all in one day! It was very fun, though, and I certainly felt like we celebrated Jesus' birth.

We were able to have a much more relaxed family day after that, more like our usual First Christmas. I'll post pictures from that later.

Now we have the New Year's fun to look forward to, and then Second Christmas, with a children's service and caroling....

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

We wish you a wonderful day of rejoicing in Christ's birth! The Christmas season is just starting here, so keep celebrating right along with us.

(Poor Bogdan. An older sibling exuberantly decided to share the joy and dumped a whole armload of snow on him when we stopped to take a picture. I brushed it off, but he was still expressing his displeasure.)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Getting around

Bogdan has been crawling for quite a while now. He has his own special style, and it just makes me laugh! He's become very fast and very brave.

I think he looks like a seal.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Seeds of hope and love

...are growing!

Bogdan sings

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Visa news?

(Sorry, Mom. This post isn't for you. )

For other Ukraine families who might be interested: this isn't exactly news, but it is straight from the (Zaporozhya) horse's mouth. Even though our registration doesn't run out until March, Will went to our nice, helpful, professional, regional OVIR to ask about the new law that went into effect on September 10. (If you don't think all those words should be used in one sentence, come to Zaporozhya! I am not being sarcastic.) We thought they had probably had enough time to figure it out by now. And... they said the new law is being amended on December 25. So, come back at the end of January to see how it has worked out. Maybe that's not exactly news, but I hadn't heard about any amendments before that.

So, everyone can be praying that the amendments will be good, but we still don't know anything.

At least, that's how it is in Zaporozhya oblast.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Advent hope

Advent kulich?
Our Advent wreath this year really doesn't even look like a wreath. Maybe it will as the grass grows up, though. That was something to hope for in the first week of Advent, when the theme was hope. We've been using the idea of planting grass for Jesus, mixed right into our wreath. The candles are from our trip to Pecherskaya Lavra in Kiev, and in the middle of everything there is a "shoot coming up from a stump." I didn't have a pink candle, or even anything pink to decorate the joy candle, but Will and Raia stopped at a flower store on the first night of Advent to get the potting soil. They also got flowers for me... and Raia specifically chose a pink ribbon to go with them, not even knowing that it would be perfect for what we would put together later that evening.

Lighting the first candle

A closer view

Jaan reading to us

Asya planting seeds

Bogdan listening to the songs
I found the tune for the song we were just using as a poem last year! Now we're singing it every night.

Tonight we lit the second candle, and started the week of Advent love.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Kiev, part 3

I still haven't posted the last few photos from Kiev! So, here they are:

With new-old friends
One evening we got to visit with a family that I have been in contact with since Jaan was a baby, and we all lived in Moscow. (Their oldest has the same name, too, except that they spell it Yan.) Back in those days, we talked on the phone and emailed, but somehow we never actually met face to face. In Kiev they invited us over for dinner, and we had a WONDERFUL time. Their children were so sweet to ours, too. In the picture above, we were all sitting around their fireplace, listening to their evening reading, just before they took us back to the apartment where we were staying.

Bogdan was pretty miserable for a few days, as he cut his first teeth, but his beloved brother was usually enough to distract him from the misery, even when nothing else would do.

One more big event was a visit to the Natural History Museum. Again, I'm relying on Raia for a picture. Although, I do think she mixed the whale and mammoth skeletons together somehow. We really enjoyed the museum! Our friend Oksana, who lives in Kiev, was able to join us for part of the time, too. It's huge museum, and we only made it to three out of six (?) floors. (The first snow of the season was also falling thickly outside while we were there!)

On the train
When all our time in Kiev was over, we tried a different return route, and while it probably wasn't easier, it was better for us, I think. There aren't any day trains to or from Zaporozhya, but we found one that goes from Kiev to Dnepropetrovsk. From there we took a bus to Zaporozhya and then a marshrutka (bus-van) the rest of the way home. It was a LONG trip, but at the end we could collapse in our own beds.

And on the bus
Don't be fooled by the smile. Our sweet, usually happy baby was not happy for that leg of the trip... until he finally fell asleep.

And I think that wraps up all I have to say or show from our Kiev trip.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving faces

I had a few more Thanksgiving photos:

Just lovely, eh?

The big ones are people-eating giants


Trying mashed potatoes
He really, really enjoyed that little taste. Right at eight months (when we were in Kiev) his first two teeth came in. Also about that time, he started saying his first word: "nyam" (yum). He uses it often, with all different intonations and volumes. A quiet, happy, little "nyam-nyam-nyam" as he gnaws on an apple, "NYAM" at full volume with an angry red face when he sees someone else eating, conversational "nyam" when he takes a break in nursing. I think he's going to like real food!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

We celebrated Thanksgiving last night with the youth from church. I had no idea how many people would come, because most had been out of town for the week. We ended up with 13 guests, though. We did a very simple version of a traditional American Thanksgiving meal: Jaan made cranberry sauce, Raia made pumpkin pie, and I did turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy.

Preparations, with Vera and Alina

We didn't start buying supplies in advance, because we really weren't planning ahead. However, the closest grocery store has had turkey breasts constantly for about a year now. (Before that, turkey was really hard to find.) When Will went out the day before our celebration, there wasn't any turkey. Uh-oh. Saturday morning, he found a whole turkey at the market, though. He didn't think it would fit into our oven. We've always had small ovens, compared to American size. This one is the smallest yet. My American baking pan won't even fit into this one, and it did in all our other apartments. Anyway, I was able to jam the turkey down into a pan, once I had greased it well. You know how the tops of muffins hang over? This was like a turkey muffin in that sense. But it fit! And it tasted wonderful.

Around the table

The children's "table"

We have so much to be thankful for!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Advent already?

One of my favorite times of year is almost here! (My real favorite is when we celebrate the Resurrection, but that's why He was born, right? ) The first Sunday of Advent is next week. Somehow it surprised me this year, even when my Grandma had already sent us a beautiful Advent calendar that I can't wait to show to everyone.

Lighting Advent candles last year

So, I just went back and read my plans from last year and Ann Voskamp's post that I had linked to from there. Amazingly, Asya still remembers the little poem we read with our Advent wreath last year. Actually, almost every school morning, when Jaan and Raia repeat their memory work, she wants to say "Радуйтесь, люди." That will have to be part of this year, too. I went back to the same page where I had found that one last year, and I got another one for this year, too. And then I adapted it. Asya can say the old one this year, while Jaan and Raia learn a new one. Our new Advent poem:
Иисус наш Искупитель, Христос Царь и Спаситель,
приди, приди,
и надеждой зажги сердце моё,
приди, приди,
и надеждой зажги сердце моё.

Иисус наш Искупитель, Христос Царь и Спаситель,
приди, приди,
и любовью зажги сердце моё,
приди, приди,
и любовью зажги сердце моё.

Иисус наш Искупитель, Христос Царь и Спаситель,
приди, приди,
и радостью зажги сердце моё,
приди, приди,
и радостью зажги сердце моё.

Иисус наш Искупитель, Христос Царь и Спаситель,
приди, приди,
и твоим миром зажги сердце моё,
приди, приди,
и твоим миром зажги сердце моё.
That's the weekly plan.

Daily we'll be using Ann Voskamp's Jesse Tree book. I like the little "assigments" that she's added to each day now. At this point we'll still only read and discuss the Bible story, and not get into her additional devotional thoughts. Last time we did this, each night our children colored and decorated little pictures to hang on posters. I think I'll ask them if they want to do that again, or if they would like me to print out a coloring book for each of them? Or both? The girls are obsessed with coloring these days, so they might be very happy with the latter option. For coloring pages, there are the same little symbols we used before, or these that I like better (but need to see how they match up with the stories we have), or the many coloring pages here to choose from.

Sweet, little Asya's 2009 Jesse Tree poster

This week I need to choose hope, love, joy and peace Bible verses, then print out whatever we'll be coloring each night, and maybe choose a song to learn. And then I'll be ready!

Do you have Advent plans this year?