Tuesday, December 30, 2014

"First Christmas" 2014

Here in Kherson our Christmas traditions are changing some. It used to be that "First Christmas" was a family day, and "Second Christmas" (January 7) was our time to celebrate with church family. Here, both days are a mix of both. But, since we're no longer involved in every single little detail at church, we don't need to separate them like we used to.

So, here's our First Christmas, starting with Christmas Eve...
Bogdan helped me some in the kitchen, and he was so proud of that! Will came home from the office just as we were finishing making white mint fudge, and Bogdan told him that he had made it. Will asked, "By yourself"? and Bogdan answered, "Mama helped." Then, he was up a lot in the night coughing, and every time he opened his eyes he told me, "Bobo made chocolate!"

The next morning, Raia was the first one up, and she found that Baby Jesus was in the manger.

While I got breakfast ready, Will read to Bogdan, and they ate pistachios.

Asya helped me.
But then, she cut her finger quite badly, so Will took care of that, and she had to rest.

We had the last of our Advent readings. (Look at this, with little Jaan and Raia!)

Some of us went for a little walk to enjoy the sunshine. Then, as the sun set beautifully, our girls headed out for one last practice of the Christmas program.

We had a Skype call, and then got ready to go ourselves. The Christmas service was very nice, and included...

greetings from the mayor,
a message from the front,
lots of music, and more.
Watching a skit
Then there was chai and food and fellowship.

At the nativity scene, before heading home
Afterwards everyone was very wound up and very tired. It was a good, full, merry First Christmas.

Monday, December 29, 2014

'Tis the season...

...for rehearsals and concerts!

First was Jaan's piano concert. His teacher has been very sick for most of this month, so he has been studying with another teacher, while preparing for this. He wasn't happy with the piece she had him play, because it was way too easy for him. However, I told him that meant he could certainly play it without mistakes, and, of course, he did. He also sang two songs with the rest of the piano students who study with these two teachers. Here is one of those songs, followed by his turn at the piano:

The whole group and the teacher
Presents from Ded Moroz
Next was the children's choir, singing at the Christmas service at church. That wasn't quite a concert, but it required just as much time and commitment and even more rehearsals for Raia and Asya, their teachers, and all their friends. This is just one of the songs they sang:

(Raia is in the back row at one end, and Asya is in the front on the other.)

Then we had Raia's first music school concert. She did really well, too! Starting older makes such a difference.

Ded Moroz!
This time, when the kids started calling Ded Moroz, the school's little dog came running in first. Everyone thought that was hilarious.

He even had something for Bogdan!

Raia and her teacher

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas photos with four

Like what I posted yesterday, it takes a whole series of photos to get anything. These four seem to have an agreement never to all look normal at the same moment. And Raia never stops moving.

This one almost works....

I'll tell you all about yesterday's Christmas celebration and recent concerts soon.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry "First Christmas"!

Happy birthday to Jesus!

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Day 5

The light of the world:

Friday, December 05, 2014

Days 3 and 4


And fish:

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Day 2

Advent then and now....

Instead of buying candy, Jaan made grape juice jello. Bogdan was the first to find one of the hidden jellos, and then he just wanted to sit down with a spoon and dig in. Forget about searching for the note and the rest of the cups! But he did listen well to the story. And then, when I asked what songs about Jesus they wanted to sing, he insisted on "'sus voom" (i.e. "Jesus airplane). We figured out what he meant, and he was thrilled to sing and do the hand motions with us. I think that's the first time I've seen him actually have an opinion about singing and get involved.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Advent 2014

It's one of my favorite times of the year! Advent!

Last night we set up our Advent wreath, lit the first candle, sang "our" Advent song, and talked a little about hope and what is ahead for this season.

This year, these two...

Wait, she's almost as tall as he is?!?!
As I was saying, these two are planning and implementing everything for their younger two siblings. They're doing what we first started Advent in our family with, in 2006 (and then again in 2008 and 2010). They've been working on translating the little notes into Russian, formatting them, and collecting all the supplies. So, this evening they hid lots of 25 kopeck coins and the first note for Bogdan and Asya to find. It was great fun!

Then they read the note and Bible passage aloud.

And we sang "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel."

I think we have a very sweet Advent ahead of us this year, as we prepare our hearts to celebrate and remember Christ's coming in the world.