Saturday, July 30, 2005

Raia's name

Several people have asked about Raia's name, so I'll write about that here. (I remember that I answered everyone's questions about Jaan's name soon after he was born, too. Click here for that.) Now is a good time, while she's asleep, and Jaan's "swimming" right here near me on the balcony. There isn't that much to say about it, though.

Really, we just chose the name because we like it. It is a Russian name. It's usually short for Raisa, which our name book says is from Greek and means obedient and compliant. Our Raia is just Raia, not Raisa, though. That's also really close to the Russian word for paradise (rai). The other Raia that we know says that her parents named her Raia, because she was such a heavenly baby. We can say the same about our Raia.

Friday, July 29, 2005

". . . try, try again."

Sigh. They only do weddings on Fridays and Saturdays. Now we have to
wait until Tuesday.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

"If at first you don't succeed. . ."

We'll be trying again tomorrow. ZAGS was closed today. At least
that's not an insurmountable problem.

Please pray for us today!

We're going to the local Kovrov ZAGS, and we really don't want to run
into another overly strict official there. Pray that we can get a
birth certificate with no further hassle. Thanks! I'll let you know
how it goes.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Wonder Baby

Yes, she did it again! Yesterday was another no-dirty-diapers day, and
she slept for almost seven hours again last night.

(Will needs the computer today.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Random bits

Raia is still pretty fussy. This morning while I was bouncing her and walking back and forth, listening to her scream, Will said, "Well, at least you can brag about her being potty trained and sleeping through the night at just six weeks old." That's not quite true, but I'll brag anyway. (The six weeks part is true; Raia is six weeks old today! For me the newborn stage ends at six weeks, and she does really seem to be growing up.) Yesterday she didn't dirty any diapers. There were wet ones, but she did all her pooping--and she's still like a newborn in that she does a lot of that--in her potty. So far today she's kept that up, too. That means a much easier load of laundry for us. She also slept seven hours straight last night. I don't know if she had just worn herself out with all her fussing, or if she's starting a new trend, but it sure was nice!

Jaan's tantrums are greatly diminishing, and his behavior is almost back to what I would expect out of him. We've been doing "Toddler School," which he loves. We start by singing together, and then have lessons on subjects like Following Directions, Holding Mama's Hand, Picking Up Toys, and just to make it a little more academic, we started working on learning colors. As I said, he loves it. He's constantly going over to the side of the living room where we usually start, standing up straight, singing "la-la-la," and trying to get me to start a session of "Toddler School."

In other news. . .
Yesterday Jaan and I found butterfly eggs! This time I'm pretty sure that we'll have Cabbage Whites, unless there's some other really similar white butterfly here. Of course, they weren't on cabbage, but I looked in my books, and the weed they are on is one of the kinds that Cabbage Whites like.

OK, I did think of a few more things:
I'm afraid Raia's hair is going to fall out. It seems to be starting in the front. That's what Jaan's did when he was little. His hairline started receding and didn't stop until there was nothing left. The rest of her hair is getting longer, though. I'll just keep hoping that it stays.

Jaan used to call me "Baba" (which means grandma) and Will "Tata." These days we're both "Mama." What's so confusing about plain ol' mama and papa?

Fennel tea is a very good thing. It's helping to calm Raia's poor tummy.

Monday, July 25, 2005

It's Monday

Fun in the pool
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

I hadn't really planned to post any pool photos from last week, but this one was just too cute.

Jaan and Raia at church
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

You can always tell that our church meets right in the middle of nap time. Yesterday Jaan and Raia had a nice rest on the floor behind our seats. Their little friend, Mark, was stretched out across two chairs on the other side of the room, with his grandmother's purse under his head for a pillow. Will's preaching didn't put anyone else to sleep, though.

(Grandma and Grandpa Burton, he's wearing the new shirt from you. Thank you so much!)

Yesterday, last night, and today Raia has not been her usual happy self. Please pray for strength for us and comfort for her. Nothing is wrong; she's just a little fussy, but it does get to be tiring. It seems that I remember Jaan had a little fussy stage at about this age, too.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

I'm taking a weekend break. . .

. . . but I did update our prayer requests and change the format around again. (There's a link over on the right side of this page.)

Friday, July 22, 2005

A chip off the old block?

Will cooling off in the dog's water
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

This is the photo Mom was talking about in her comment yesterday. So, what do you think? Does Jaan really look much like Will did? They at least enjoyed some of the same pastimes!

Also, here are some photos from this summer, taken by Dan Nordell of the MN team:
There are quite a few of Jaan and the rest of us.

Is anyone other than the faithful grandmothers out there?

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Summer days

This is one of Jaan's favorite activities on these hot days:

"Swimming" in his "pool" on the balcony
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Today he also got to do some more serious swimming. Will had set up our birth pool over in the Korneichuk's yard, so that we could use it while they are on vacation. (Don't worry, Susan, we're being really careful with it, so that it will be in good shape for you. ) Jaan and his friend Andrusha loved playing in it this evening.

A smile!

Yesterday Raia smiled at me for the first time! I was beginning to wonder when she would do that. She really loves to interact with faces, but up until now there hadn’t been any smiles. Yesterday I was talking to her, and she turned up one corner of her mouth. . . then the other. Then a smile!

Also, I keep forgetting to mention that we weighed her to get an "official" 1 month weight. Our scale is really inaccurate, but it said that she weighed about 5.4 kgs. That's almost 12 lbs!

I won't go on any longer now, because I'm typing this with one hand, while standing and bouncing a fussy baby. Maybe I'll post a little more later, so as not to completely leave out Big Brother Jaan.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Happy Birthday, Tanya!

We celebrated Tanya's birthday on Sunday. Friends from church got together, and we tried to beat the heat by sitting in the shade by Tanya's garden.

The birthday couple (Pavel's birthday was yesterday)
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Pavel and Raia
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Yum! Birthday cake!
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Ira, Anya, and Jaan looking for strawberries
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Just having fun together
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Worn out from all the partying
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Please be praying for Pavel, Tanya, and their girls as they travel now to visit relatives.

I thought I'd just add this story about Jaan from an email I had sent to Mom:
He was so funny when it was time for us to go. I was afraid he was going to cry when I told him that it was time. Instead, he said, "Nyum?" I told him that it wasn't time to eat, it was time to go home for bed. Again, he said, "Nyum!" waved goodbye to everyone and took off running toward the gate. We were all rather puzzled as to why he was talking about food and what was making him leave so enthusiastically. Then he stopped at his favorite berry bush and started getting provisions for the road. And he ate berries all the way home. Lately, when we've had to leave, the girls have given him various berries to take with him, so that he wouldn't cry. (Leaving there is always a great tragedy.) I guess he figures that it's just the thing to do now.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Final installment: Moscow trip, part 4

Saturday: In the early morning Will's sisters and Adam (from Will's home church) arrived in Moscow from the camps they had been working at in our region. Will met them and brought them to us at the apartment. Later Nathan came to pick Adam up, so we all just sat around and talked. After Nathan and Adam were gone, Anna and Abby made a delicious Mexican meal for us, while we took Jaan out to play on the playground. Slides were another of his new discoveries in Moscow, and he enjoyed scaring us with lots of near-falls from the top.

Sunday: We all went to Nathan's English-speaking church and met up with a group of friends from camp there. After church we went out to lunch all together, and then walked around the center of the city, on Arbat Street, by the Kremlin and in Red Square. I think Raia must have broken some kind of record for nursing while we walked all the way from one end of Arbat to the other. When it starting raining our group broke up, and we dragged our tired selves back to the apartment.

Monday (Will's 29th birthday!): Will and Jaan took Anna and Abby to the airport. That night we celebrated Will's birthday by having a supper of Mexican leftovers with Nathan and his friend Masha.

Tuesday: In the morning Will and Jaan went to the office of our visa consultant to talk things over with him, but he was home sick, so they went on to the Christian bookstore. Raia and I went for a long walk in the same area where we had picked berries earlier, but instead of berries, we enjoyed the river and bird watching. Our certified copy of our marriage license arrived by mail, so we went to bed thinking that we'd be able to get the birth certificate the next day.

Wednesday: We went to ZAGS early, hoping to be able to get done there and at the embassy all in one day. It turned out that a certified copy wasn't enough. We needed something called an apostile. (Are we the only ones who had never heard of such a thing before?) The result of the meeting of the authorities had been that either we bring in an apostile or sue the ZAGS and go through that whole legal process.

We realized that we were really stuck, so we decided just to finally go home. That afternoon we were able to officially show Raia at the embassy, fill out all the forms, and pay the fees, so that Will can just take the birth certificate in when we get it, without having to bring Raia back. We also went and talked to our visa consultant. We didn't get anything finally settled, but we do have several options. We'll probably end up paying to renew my visa without me leaving the country. (I'm still praying that we can figure out some way to get Raia's papers in time, because I was making plans for a nice visit with my friend Danielle in Romania when we had to renew!)

Thursday: We just went got on a bus to Vladimir. It started out as one of those not-good travel experiences. Will paid for three seats, so that Jaan could have his own, but that got tangled. We ended up with Will in the front alone, and Jaan, Raia, and me further back. At least Jaan did have his own seat; that was nice. Jaan started screaming right away because he wanted to be with Papa. It was also almost unbearably hot, and time for lunch and naps. For the first little while we just crawled through Moscow traffic, Jaan laid on the dirty floor and screamed, Raia cried, and all the other passengers practiced their murderous looks on us. Finally we got moving, and things cooled off. Then Jaan was able to sleep, and Raia could settle in to eat. The rest of the trip went great. Will was able to move back with us as the bus cleared out. In Vladimir we had to wait for a while for our train to Kovrov. Jaan loved the waiting room, which overlooks all the train tracks. We couldn't peel him away from the big window; he just stood there and exclaimed over all the trains.

It was wonderful to finally arrive at home! Jaan dove straight in to his own toys and played happily for the few minutes before bed. We were amazed at the instant change in his attitude and behavior, just from being back in his own place.

Thank you all for your prayers! We could tell many of you were praying. For now we're waiting for the apostile that my parents are getting for us and also for a new doctor's letter. We're going to try getting a birth certificate here in Kovrov next, even though we had been told that would be impossible. Please pray that we'll be successful.

I'm going to have to have Will read this and check to make sure I got everything right. Like I said, it's kind of a blur in my mind, but I do think I got most of it.

Since I started with one photo of one sleepy kiddo, I'll end with another of the other one:

A very tired Jaan, happy to be sleeping at HOME after our trip
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Remember our caterpillar?

Admiring the chrysalis
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

When we came back from our trip, we found that our caterpillar (June 30) had turned into a green and shiny gold chrysalis. Today the butterfly emerged! It is a Pavlinii glaz Inachis io. I should probably know what that is in English, but I don't. I'm going to get our English butterfly book out. . . OK, it's a Peacock butterfly. Unfortunately, the photos didn't turn out too well. In this one below you can at least see the beauty of the colors. I have another one that shows the pattern, but the color isn't as good. If anyone wants to see that one, let me know, and I'll send it to you (Dad ).

Jaan was very excited by this new creature in his jar. I don't know if he made any connection between the caterpillar, chrysalis, and butterfly, but we did talk about it, and I showed him the empty chrysalis. Maybe he understood. If not, I'm sure we'll be doing this again next year, and by then he'll get it. For now it was just an exciting adventure. He was pretty upset when we let the butterfly out of the kitchen and watched it fly away. Now he keeps looking on the balcony for his "bird" and waving goodbye.

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Moscow trip, part 3

Thursday: In the morning we left the guest house, and met up with our friend (and wonderful helper!) Dima S.. He took us to an apartment near ZAGS, where several of his relatives live. Most of them were out at their dacha or busy with work, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves. We were so thankful to have this place! We just spent most of that day resting. Jaan actually got a nap, lying down in one place, for the first time since we left home. That makes life a whole lot better for all of us.

I think Jaan and Will also went shopping in the supermarket just across the road on Thursday. In Moscow and other parts of the world a supermarket isn't a big deal, but we've gotten unused to them. We really enjoyed the convenience and treats like fresh broccoli, avocados, celery, chips and salsa, and Mexican food!

Friday: Another nice rest day. . . we went for a really long walk and explored the natural monument area that the apartment looks out on. We actually got to go hiking and berry picking in Moscow! Jaan loved that, and so did the rest of us. Well, Raia slept the whole time, but I think she enjoyed it anyway.

I'm really not going to drag this out too much longer. There's not much more to write, but now I need to go get myself and two little people ready for church. So, once again, to be continued. . .

Saturday, July 16, 2005


I forgot to mention that Jaan has two new teeth: his bottom right
canine broke through yesterday, and the left one came up today.

Moscow trip, part 2

(Note: I added a photo to yesterday's entry. )

Wednesday: After two days of running all around with our own feet, we hired a driver for a few hours. That was a nice break! Jaan was very disappointed, because somehow when we told him that a car was coming, he assumed that meant Uncle Pavel from Kovrov would be the driver, but he got over it and enjoyed riding with a different "uncle." It took longer, because of the traffic, but we could just sit while he drove us to ZAGS again. We still didn't have a official enough marriage license, but we had the other documents, and we were hoping to try what they recommended at the embassy: registering Raia's birth as if I was a single mother, and then declaring that Will was the father.

The ZAGS lady was pleased with our two new documents, but refused to register us as unmarried (which would have been the standard way to take care of this problem. We know of other people who have done that.) According to her, we are married, just not married enough to register a baby. Argh! She also refused to marry us there so that we would have a Russian marriage license. (ZAGS handles marriages, so she could have done that.)

So, we went back to the guest house for one more night. . . and more Veggie Tales for Jaan. His special treat each night there was getting to watch one of their Veggie Tales videos, something he had never seen before. The next day a team was coming in, so we would have to find another place to stay, since we wanted to wait in Moscow for the decision of the higher ZAGS authorities and lawyer, as well as for the official marriage license from my parents.

Again, to be continued. . . .

Friday, July 15, 2005

Moscow trip, part 1

Ready to go to Moscow at about 4:00 am, wearing Grandma Kathy's sweater
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

A short summary: as I had said we were planning on "two days in Moscow to get Raia's documents." And, as you can see, we just returned from that last night, after ten days. We still don't have any papers for her, so we can certainly use your prayers.

If you want to hear more, keep reading. The trip is already something of a blur in my mind, but I'm going to try to remember and give all the details, for those who are interested.

Monday (a week ago): At 4:30 in the morning, we left to catch our train to Vladimir. I made the observation that I felt sorry for people who have to travel without a toddler. Jaan turned everything into an adventure. He had so much fun watching the trains and everything else! (Of course, there's a flip side to traveling with a toddler, too. It can be complicated by tantrums and constant potty breaks. We had never had tantrum problems until this trip, but now Jaan has certainly perfected the art of tantruming.)

In Vladimir we switched to the Moscow express train. When we arrived in Moscow, we met up with our midwife friend to get a doctor's letter that we needed and then went straight to the northern end of the city, to the ZAGS (registration office), where we planned to get Raia's birth certificate. We made that long trip, only to discover that they only register deaths on Mondays, no births. That was slightly discouraging, but we thought we could still get the birth certificate the next morning, and make it to the embassy for the passport Tuesday afternoon, in order to go home on Wednesday, as we had planned.

So, we went all the way down to the south to find the guest house we would be staying at. By the time we got there, we were pretty exhausted, so it was wonderful to find a friendly face waiting to let us in and a nice place waiting for us to crash.

Tuesday (Raia's three-week birthday!): we went back to ZAGS, and this is when we really started running into problems. The first woman took us straight to the head of that ZAGS, which didn't surprise us; that had all had to consult about us when we registered Jaan, too. Last time they just accepted the fact that American documents are different from Russian documents and registered us. Not this time! After a long consultation, we left with a list of things that we needed to do or get:
1. Correct the spelling on one document. (My name can be spelled two ways in Russian, and this lady wanted my doctor's letter to match our marriage license.)
2. Get a letter from the American embassy saying that my last name had changed to Hunsucker. (Our marriage license does not specifically say that my name has changed, like a Russian license would. Last time they just took the fact that all my current documents say Hunsucker as proof of that. Again, not this time.)
3. Get an official marriage license. We weren't sure about this, but the lady refused to give in. The only concession that she made was to call a meeting with her boss and a lawyer.

So, we left and started making calls to find a doctor who could write me a new letter, since the one who had written the first one was on vacation. We found one who could come that night, so we headed off to the embassy. They are always nice and helpful there, so we had the letter about my name change in no time.

Back at the guest house, we got in contact with my parents, and they started the process of ordering our marriage license. The doctor came, and not only wrote us the letter exactly as we needed it, she also prescribed some natural remedies for our colds.

To be continued. . .

Thursday, July 14, 2005

We're home!

Let us catch up a little, and then I'll tell you about our trip. Right
now we just need to rest and figure out where we are.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Just two cute photos

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Here's Raia sleeping (always cute!), and Jaan showing off our "new" bed. Will extended our bed just before Raia was born and bought new butterfly sheets for us just a few days ago.

There's not too much else to write about. Jaan and I have colds. Please pray that Will and Raia don't get sick. Tomorrow we're leaving for two days in Moscow to get Raia's documents.