Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday Evening Post, issue 18

A photo from this week:

Our two days of hoarfrost were lovely!*

Jaan... finally figured out one of the mysteries of music school: how to get choir music. The poor guy is baffled by so much that would be everyday life for children who go to regular school. Now he knows what a copy machine is, and that he actually has to say that, yes, he needs copies of the songs.

Raia... has especially been enjoying the snow. She and Jaan both just roll in it and flop around and yell like crazy things. Raia buries her head in the snow, just for the fun of it.

Asya... likes the snow, too, but she doesn't last as long outside as the older two do. They play outside together, and then Raia sweetly brings her home, when Asya can't take any more. Asya comes through the door yelling, "I'm here! Make me cocoa!" I'm working on getting a please into that.

Baby... has an officially tuberculosis-free Papa. Not that we ourselves had any questions about that, but Will was required to get chest x-rays this week so that we can officially be allowed to have a baby.

Will... is working on his wonderful housewife skills. I've been feeling slow and tired and "foggy," so he's stepped up how much he does with housework and cooking and childcare. He's also been working on domestic relations with the neighbor below us. We've had a few plumbing disasters, and with the last one, the neighbor was very mad (and drunk). They've worked up to where their last exchange was peaceful, though.

School this week: We finished Week 19. Again, I think the highlight was Shakespeare: A Winter's Tale this time. Also, we're really enjoying Just So Stories. Jaan gets to listen to an audio version in Russian, and then I read the English to him, and that works really well for him.

My books: I have a lot going, but I don't think I finished anything this week. No, I take that back. I zipped through Starlighter. It's not my kind of book, but it was fun to read, and I know the author.

...and knitting: I finished my December afghan square today, but I haven't posted photos yet. I also made a really cute, quick little pair of baby mitts. Other than that, I've been really frustrated with my various projects. I started a great baby blanket pattern, which got me back into crocheting, but then ran out of that yarn. Everything seems to be stuck, waiting for yarn or inspiration. Hopefully both are coming soon!

Weather and nature observations: My favorite kind of weather! It's been cold, clear, sunny, and hoarfrost on the trees.

Other news, ministry, notes and miscellaneous from the week: Someone we've tried to help before showed up again in Dneprorudnoe, and he's in bad shape. Please pray for Will to know what to do with him. At this point, until he actually wants help and not just money for his next drink, we're having to ignore his calls and knocks on our door.

On this (actually, yesterday's) date in. . . 2004: I'm going with yesterday's date again, because the pictures and memories there are just so much fun!

holy experience

Just a few things I'm thankful for...
  • another quiet Sunday morning
  • such excitement about Sunday school!
  • the hoarfrost and our walks to enjoy it
  • winter
  • just the habit of thankfulness
*Do go look at the rest of the photos!

Monday, January 24, 2011

One Thousand Gifts

Many of you know how much I enjoy Ann Voskamp's writing. (And you might even remember how I "met" her.) My parents gave me her new book, and I'm slowly reading it. The message has already changed my life, though. It's what I've learned with her, from her, through her, over the past few years. I'm going to try something a little different for me: reading this book with an online book club. We'll see how much I'll be able to participate and how much I'll want to share...I don't know yet. I would encourage anyone and everyone to get Ann's book and read it!

Oh, also, my mother-in-law and her friend will be interviewing Ann on their online radio show today. I usually listen live and participate in the chat there, but I don't know if I'll be able to this time. If I can, I would love to "see" you there, and if not, I'll listen from the archives later.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday Evening Post, issue 17

A photo from this week:

We've been doing a lot of this
(Well, a lot for us! An episode of Emil, almost every night.)

And I think that's about it for now. All is well. Other than our trip, which I already wrote about, we've had a nice quiet week. And I seem to have writer's block. So, some thankfulness, and then good night to all:

holy experience

Just a few things I'm thankful for...
  • knitting
  • a new round of crocheting
  • quiet Sunday morning
  • online sermons
  • SNOW!
  • pictures and videos from Kovrov
  • home
  • family
  • warmth
  • baths

Saturday, January 22, 2011


During the Christmas season our children collect money for "a birthday present for Jesus." In the past, they've used it to buy toys for orphans. This year they decided to use it to get a present for the homeless man who Will has been helping for a while. Yesterday we finally went to the shelter in Zaporozhye, all together to visit him and take him his present. Sadly, "Uncle K." had just been taken to a tuberculosis hospital, so we couldn't see him. We thought maybe just Will could visit him there, but even that wasn't possible. The general city TB hospital wouldn't take K., so he's out in some small town. Please pray for him! He's been in a Christian shelter all this time, but now he's back with all his old prison buddies.

We had a long, fun family day trip, though. Our children got to see the homeless shelter, meet the man who runs it, and hear his testimony, even if they didn't get to deliver their present in person. When we got to Zaporozhye, we took a taxi out to where the shelter is located, in the factory district of one Ukraine's most polluted cities. Will always talks about how awful it is out there, but I had never seen it. Yes, it's horrible! But the funny part was that when we came around a bend in the road where the panorama of smokestacks, cooling towers, slag heaps, and grey air opens out, all three of our children exclaimed: "Wow! Cool! Look!" They couldn't stop talking about how beautiful and wonderful it was. "This is where they make clouds, right Mama?" and "It looks just like sheep wool coming out of those chimneys!" Although, Asya did say, while holding her nose, "Let's just call this place Stinky City." I think the taxi driver was laughing at us.

Monday, January 17, 2011

New Year 2011

Here's another post about our holidays, even though the holiday season is over now. This year, the youth didn't get together for the usual all-night party. Too many people were away, or busy with other things, or even just too tired. So, we enjoyed a quiet night at home. Well, it was quiet inside; the fireworks outside sounded like a war! We made pizzas....

Then we headed outside to do a little bit of early noisemaking ourselves. The story of our fireworks started two years ago. The year before last, Will bought fireworks for the first time in our family. Our girls were pleased with the quiet, pretty, little sparklers and such, but Jaan kept saying that he they weren't "real fireworks." So, last year, Will bought the real thing. However, we were so busy with the youth party and everything else, that he never used them. They sat all year long. Somehow, in that time Will forgot what he had gotten. Around bedtime we went out for our little, early fireworks show, assuring Raia and Asya that it wouldn't be scary... and we ended up terrifying our children! It was a very pretty show, but it was definitely "real fireworks"! Jaan was very pleased, even if he was scared. They all went to bed after that, and somehow they slept through the midnight bombardment.

The next morning, there was a flurry of present opening:

Asya with all her presents at once

They played all day long!

Then, on the evening of January 1st, we invited the youth over for dinner.

The children's room was a busy place.

We really enjoyed having Nikita vist us for the first time.

Raia took this photo.

It was a great way to see in the New Year, even if it was not exactly traditional. I think everyone agreed that it was okay to do without the all-night feast, since we replaced it with dinner, games and fun fellowship the next evening.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Evening Post, issue 16

A photo from this week:

Big helper

Jaan... is obsessed with Astrid Lindgren. He spends his quiet times listening to her audio books, reading by himself, and then some evenings we've been watching a TV series on the computer. Recently, he was having a bad day, and he couldn't seem to think of anything positive or pleasant. I told him that if he couldn't come up with some good things, I wouldn't be able to do school with him. He asked if he could write them for me. Sure! A few minutes later he brought me a note, that said (with very rough spelling and handwriting), "1 It's good that you put Lindgren on the iPod 2 It's good that I have a Mama."

Raia... didn't have any more trouble with sickness, after last week's adventure. She's back to her normal, busy self. Most days she's a butterfly or a fairy in a costume that was a New Year present for her.

Asya... is also enjoying her fairy/butterfly/ballerina costume. She joins in with Jaan and Raia's pretending more and more, too. For a long time, our children tended to play in twos; someone was usually off playing alone. Now more and more, they play all three together.

Baby... nothing really new. I think I said a while back that Jaan wants a brother named Alfred? Well, this week Raia started talking about the name Samuel.

Will... is back to his usual schedule, after the holidays. Things have changed a little, though. Instead of having the church leader meeting on Tuesdays, they're now doing it on Sundays, late afternoon to evening. I like that better, but I'm having a hard time getting used to it.

School this week: We had a good first week back, but it was definitely a first week. We moved slowly through Week 17.

My books: I'm continuing Ann Voskamp's book, and I finished up The Flight of the Shadow, a George MacDonald book, that I started quite a while back. I also just downloaded Starlighter, written by our friend, Bryan Davis, for free! I don't think I've read any of his fiction yet. (I haven't started reading it yet, but I wanted to mention it, because it's only free for a limited time.)

...and knitting: I've just been working on my December afghan square, halfway done.

Weather and nature observations: We've had almost a full week of rain, I think. There were little bits of wet snow, too. The week ahead is supposed to be colder, though: it's always supposed to be cold for the celebration of Christ's baptism.

Other news, ministry, notes and miscellaneous from the week: I myself had a very quiet week. I mostly just sat at home. A few people came over, though. Jaan was back at music school, and Will was back to his usual schedule.

On this (actually, yesterday's) date in. . . 2006: I wrote about Jaan's vocabulary. Strange that even back then he was trying to speak Ukrainian!

holy experience

Just a few things I'm thankful for...
  • a quiet week to sit at home
  • the soothing sound of rain at night
  • little helpers
  • playing together
  • painting together
  • reading together
My question for you: How was your week? (I'm just repeating my favorite.)

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Sunday Evening Post, issue 15

A photo from this week:

The Other Wise Man

Jaan... has been making paper snowflakes and German stars almost non-stop. If he keeps putting snowflakes up on the window, soon we won't be able to see out! It's fun to see him working on crafts with such concentration and focus.

Raia... had thoroughly enjoyed all the holiday fun. She finished it off this morning by getting sick on the way out to a Christmas visit at a village church, though. Poor girl! Whatever was wrong with her seems to have passed over by now, though.

Asya... said her poem! Over and over and over. Once again, she refused to say it in church, at the Christmas service, but afterwards she went around with the Sunday school children to visit housebound babushki, and she said it for every one of them. She insists that she can't say it at church, but when I asked if she'd say it for babushki, she replied, "Of course!"

Baby... is probably having a growth spurt. Or else, why am I so tired and hungry?

Will... has been so busy! He helped with daily prayer meetings, a funeral, the Christmas church service, caroling, the children's Christmas program (lead role in the play!), village trip, and probably more than I'm forgetting.

School this week: Christmas break.

My books: I just started reading Ann Voskamp's book on my Kindle, and I'm forcing myself to go slowly, one chapter a day.

...and knitting: This has been The Week of Knitting. I'm having so much fun! Instead of school for Jaan and Raia, I've been learning new knitting techniques myself. I started a pair of baby pants to match the sweater and hat that I already finished. I'm out of yarn for that project now, but before I ran out, I learned the infamous Kitchener stitch. Then I started on the December afghan square. Fair Isle knitting is new for me, and I couldn't do it very well with just my usual way of knitting, so I picked up English style knitting to go with my Continental/Russian. Now I can knit with one color in each hand!

A quote:
Gratitude is what makes the past a grace, here holy, and tomorrow a gift.
--Ann Voskamp
Weather and nature observations: Snow! We had several days of sledding and our white Christmas. I realized that I hadn't specifically prayed, asking for snow. I did, and the next day it came. Right now it's starting to melt and looking kind of spring-ish outside, but I think there's more winter to come.

Other news, ministry, notes and miscellaneous from the week: I'll try to continue posts about individual events.

On this (actually, yesterday's) date in. . . 2003: I'm linking to this, even though it's yesterday's date, because of the baby pictures of Jaan. It's been a while since I've thought about him as a baby.

holy experience

Just a few things I'm thankful for...
  • the white Christmas that I wanted, as a direct answer to my prayer
  • a wonderful holiday season
  • flurries of paper crafts
  • children who clean up (or try to) afterwards
  • movie nights of Emil from Lonneberga
My question for you: What are you excited about for 2011?

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Family Christmas

December 25th isn't much of a holiday in this part of the world, but in our family it's Jesus' Birthday! That morning, after the big evening before, our children actually slept in. Then Asya stumbled out to find that the manger wasn't empty anymore.

Baby Jesus!
Jaan and Raia soon joined her. Then they started into Christmas books and snacks with Papa....

While I fixed a special brunch.

No, we didn't spend the whole day around the table, but those are the photos I got. After brunch, we went out for a walk. The sun was shining a little, but by the time we were dressed, it had disappeared again. Our walk was actually a rather damp one, but we had a great time, wandering through the park. We saw birds that we hadn't seen before, and we heard pheasants. The pheasants led us all over through the wild, brushy areas, but never did show themselves. After that, the rain was picking up, so Will and the older two went to the grocery store, while Asya and I headed home. She and I did stop to watch a non-Russian (Uzbek? Kazak?) wedding party dancing wildly and singing. And before we got home, the sun broke through in the midst of the rain, making everything sparkle.

Once everyone was back, there was a short nap time, while I made lasagna and baked a birthday cake.

Festive dinner

Not quite enough nap

Raia took this photo.
I wanted a picture of me frosting the cake, while Asya watched. Um, yes. It makes me laugh. She's been working on vertical shots lately. (Actually, she figured them out, just a few days later. You'll see some of those soon, in another post.)

Then our guests started arriving.
We had invited the youth for tea, and a good group came. Such fun! We sang, ate and talked until late, when Will announced that I would be turning into a pumpkin soon.

The children's table

Our family Christmas celebration was a long, full, happy day, and it certainly felt like a celebration!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Christmas Eve

I'll go back now and write about some of the events of our holiday season so far. First, the Christmas Eve tea at church:

Making cookies beforehand
We spent a good bit of the day baking and preparing treats. I loved cutting out sugar cookies with Asya! I guess she can't remember ever having done this before? She giggled with excitement every time she lifted the cookie cutter and saw the shape that she had made. Then we took what we had made to church and added it to what everyone else had made and bought for the evening.

Will starting off the festivities
There was tea, of course, along with tons of sweets, singing, games, poems, testimonies, and just a lot of good, fun fellowship time.

Asya and Alina

The children participating

"I just couldn't say my poem!"
As I said before, she had to recover with Alina for a while after her first attempt at public speaking. Fortunately, she has a big sister who didn't have any trouble with reciting both Asya's part and her own.

We all really enjoyed an evening together as a time to kick off the celebration of Christ's birth! There's usually more focus on the January 7th Christmas, but this was the start of the season.

Monday, January 03, 2011


I completely forgot that I've almost promised to write on Sunday evenings. Nothing really got in my way last night, just too busy, too much fun! I'll write soon....