Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Such a good big brother

Best buddies
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

I know I brag about Jaan being such a good big brother a lot, but seeing him with Raia really is one of my favorite parts of having two little ones in our family. A few days ago, I had gotten them dressed to go out. Then, I left Raia on the couch so I could get myself ready. Jaan was with me. Raia started crying and he ran to her. Then, all of a sudden, she stopped crying. I flew out to the living room to see what Jaan had done, almost expecting to see him sitting on her or something. I found him sweetly patting her, while she cooed at him. Of course, I had to take a picture.

Taking care of his baby sister
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Boys are such fun!

Just in the past few days, Jaan has managed to make a dent in his forehead, skin his chin, and swallow a ruble! I can't figure out if he's trying to keep me young or make me go grey prematurely. Through all that he continues to be a very happy, active little boy. We've spent hours outside watching big digging machines (I guess I'm going to have to learn what they're called) and then coming in and reading "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel." At least he also enjoys butterflies, ladybugs and flowers.

Will's in Moscow again today, still working on visa stuff. He had hoped for this to be just a quick day trip, but he just called and said that it really doesn't look like he'll be able to get back tonight.

I think I was going to write out several thoughts below the picture of us going for a walk. First, did you notice that nice green grass in the background? That's part of our ministry to our neighbors. You can't see the flowers in the picture, but there are quite a few that we've planted out there, too. It started in the beginning of spring, when we got sick of all the trash the the melting snow was revealing. I was too pregnant, and Jaan was too busy, for me to help much, but Will cleaned up around our building. Once it was clean, we decided to put in a flower bed. Soon, we knew all our neighbors and everyone knew us by name, people were bringing us flowers to add, and some of the older men would come out to sit and talk to Will while he worked. We didn't deliberately start out to do anything like that, but we're really glad that it just happened like that.

The other thing that I was thinking of writing about was how much attention we attract. I feel like an exhibit in a museum when we go out. I know people talk about The Woman with the Two Babies. It's somewhat unusual to have two children here, and it's very unusual to have two close in age. Also, letting a little baby like Raia be upright is a sure way to have her turn out as a hunchback or cripple, according to Russian medical wisdom. People are always shocked to see Jaan as a healthy little boy, running all around, when I tell them that I carried him the same way. Sometimes I get tired of the stares, but I thankful for the opportunities to talk to people. I've had to explain quite a few times already why I didn't have an abortion. That's a very sad commentary on society; it always makes me want to cry, but I'm still thankful for the opportunity to share.

I'm sorry to end on a sad note today. Pray for Russia!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Just quickly

Today is a busy day, but I did add something cute to Conversations with Raia.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

This is the way we go for walks

Jaan in the stroller, Raia in the carrier, and Phyllis on foot
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

I might add more here once I get Jaan to sleep.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Playing outside

If I don't answer emails, haven't updated this blog, and can't come to the phone, it's because WE'RE OUTSIDE!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Conversations with Raia

Have I mentioned how else Raia takes after her Aunt Leetra? She loves to talk! Sometimes if there's not a face nearby to talk to, she'll get fussy just because of that. I know all babies babble and coo, but I've never seen one who does as much as Raia. We can even talk her out of crying. One of us just has to get close and tell her that we'll listen, and she stops crying. (If you want to see something cute, click here.)

The beautiful days continue. We're spending as much time as we can outdoors. After all, we need to soak up our vitamin D before the winter!

Looking around for someone to talk to
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


What a day! Jaan woke up around 3:00 this morning, an hour before Will's alarm was set for him to catch his train to Moscow. And Jaan didn't get back to sleep until 7:00 or so. Of course, Raia slept peacefully through all of Jaan's wakefulness, so she was ready to go at 8:00, and she woke him up then. The two of them couldn't get their naps coordinated, so one or the other of them was up all afternoon. Now Jaan's in bed for the night, and Raia just woke up from her evening nap. Will should be back late tonight, and he'll be yawning tomorrow, too. After getting up at 4:00 this morning, going all day long, and arriving home late, he'll have to set his alarm for about the same time again tomorrow in order to go save a place in line at the passport office to register our visas.

Even though we're tired, we three had a good day today. Poor Jaan had a slow start, which included breaking his favorite cup at breakfast and lots of tears over that, but helping me wash the dishes made him forget about it. After a grey, drippy morning, we had a beautiful clear afternoon, so we had fun outside for a while. A friend from another town dropped by quickly to give us a message for me to translate and pass on to someone in the States, so Jaan was thrilled to have company. And then we spent almost two hours helping our poor landlord do some paperwork that we'll need to register tomorrow. Maybe that wasn't too much fun for him and me, but again, Jaan was happy to have a guest to visit with.

So, good night to all! I hope. . . I mean, I hope we're headed to bed and a good night's sleep before too long.

(Well, just as I finished typing that, I heard a panicked shriek from the bedroom: Jaan waking up with one of his nightmares or whatever it is bothering him. I ran in there and got him calmed back down. Then Raia started screaming and woke him up again. Yawn. But Will should be home soon!)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Beautiful days

Well, after I wrote that autumn had come, it warmed back up. Still, the real heat is gone. Yesterday was the first time that the temperature at church has been bearable since we moved to the new place. And the weather is just beautiful!

Today, when we got up, we just ate breakfast and then went outside. Raia slept while Jaan and I walked all over the neighborhood. Usually I take her in the carrier, but today we used the stroller. Jaan took his big brother responsibilities very seriously. At first he tried to get in the stroller. After all, that is usually his place. However, when I explained that Raia got to be in the stroller today, he put all his things in various places on the stroller to free up his hands, turned his hat around backwards, and got ready to push. He had to have his hat on backwards, because he's still so little that he almost has to be under the stroller to push it, and his hat gets in the way. He can't see anything at all from down under there, so I walk along beside him and steer, but he supplies all the forward motion, plus sound effects.

Right now it's nap time, but when they wake up, we'll probably go right back outside to enjoy the beautiful weather some more. Which means I'd better get some things done around here while I have the chance. . . .

Friday, August 19, 2005

Autumn already?

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Remember what I said about yesterday seeming like this first day of Fall? I took this picture of Will enjoying (?) our first cool day yesterday.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Jaan's favorite poem

Jaanchik Jaan
(adapted from A. A. Milne's "Cradle Song")

O Jaanchik Jaan
Has ten pink toes,
And ten pink toes
Has Jaachik Jaan.
They go with him
Wherever he goes,
And wherever he goes
They go with him.

O Jaanchik Jaan
Has two brown eyes,
And two brown eyes
Has Jaanchik Jaan.
They cry with him
Whenever he cries,
And whenever he cries,
They cry with him.

O Jaanchik Jaan
Has one brown head
And one brown head
Has Jaanchik Jaan.
It sleeps with him
In Jaanchik's bed.
Sleep well, brown head
Of Jaanchik Jaan.

We have all the Pooh books on a shelf above Jaan's bed. (Thank you "Aunt" Jules!) Several days ago I started reading them to Jaan, just randomly. Now that we've found this poem, he insists on "boo" before bed, and he won't be satisfied until I choose the right book and the right poem. Of course, the right one is this one, "Jaanchik Jaan."

(Happy Birthday to me! I'm 25 today. We're greatly enjoying a nice, quiet family day. It seems to be the first day of Fall.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

All wrapped up

All wrapped up
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

This is how Miss Houdini sleeps. I seem to remember hearing that at this age her Aunt Leetra could squirm out of her clothes while napping. Raia would do her proud in similar escapes. However, she loves to be swaddled and gets upset when she finds herself unwrapped. The only way we can keep her wrapped is to actually tie her in. With Jaan Will would ask, "Do you want me to swaddle him?" when he started getting fussy. For Raia Will says, "Should I go tie her up for you?"

And, speaking of sleeping, she pulled another long sleep stretch last night. This one was weird, though. We put her down in the living room for her evening nap, which is usually about an hour around dinner time. She still hadn't woken up by the time we were ready for bed! I went to bed, expecting to be woken up as soon as I had fallen asleep myself. I woke up with a start at 2:00, when she usually eats and ran out to check on her: still peacefully sleeping. She finally woke up at 3:00! I think that was more than eight hours! Now, if she could just do that starting at our normal bedtime. . . .

Monday, August 15, 2005

Glimpses of Jaan

First the promised finger painting pictures, and then some others:

Just getting started
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

"This is fun!"
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Hard at work
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Cleaning up
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Observing a ladybug
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Jaan and Mark at the baptism yesterday
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Jaan with his beloved "Ear" (Ira)
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

They're beside Ira's sister Lena, who was baptized yesterday, and Lena's son Andrei.

Where's Jaan?
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Two months old

Raia is two months old today, so I want to post a little update on her. I think I can do that much, even after our very long, full day. Hopefully, I can get to photos tomorrow.

Raia is finally over her fussy spell. She does seem to have became quite a mama's girl, though. Is that possible at this age? I thought everyone was just holding her wrong. She likes to be upright, and according to Russian rules, she's not old enough be held upright yet. However, Will knows all her tricks and isn't afraid to hold her the way she likes, but she wouldn't go to him when he got back from Moscow. She stops crying right away when I take her.

Her smiles have gone from being a rare treat to a constant joy. She loves to coo and goo and carry on to anyone who will take the time to stop and talk to her. Her big blue eyes take in everything that goes on around her, and she's very interested in everything these days.

Raia is getting big, and we can tell that she's gained weight. I have some friends who are selling vegetables now, so I'll take her to get weighed at their vegetable stand soon. She holds her head up some, but she's still pretty wobbly. She continues to do very well with using her potty; we usually only have to wash one poopy diaper a week!

We love our sweet Raiechka! (And of course, we love our sweet Jaanchik, too, but today was Raia's "birthday." Jaan will get his turn.)

Friday, August 12, 2005


We've had two rainy days in a row here, but just now the sun is coming out! Jaan's going to be so happy when he wakes up from his nap and sees that we can go outside. Maybe we'll even go over to play with Katya and Alyona.

Raia seems to be getting back to her usual sunny self. She pretty much lives in the sling, and we're both drinking lots of fennel and chamomile tea, but that's enough to keep her happy. I certainly don't mind; I love having her snuggled up to me all the time, and the tea tastes good. It's so nice to have her back!

Jaan's really missing Will. Last night at 11:00, when I finally fell asleep myself, he was still sitting there, fighting sleep and waiting for Papa. Jaan did have a really good time with finger painting yesterday, though. (I'll try to post photos soon, if they turn out well.) And, like I said, he's going to be very happy to go outside when he wakes up.

Will should be back tonight. Well, it might be really early tomorrow morning before he actually gets here. He wasn't able to meet up with a doctor in Moscow to get our letter notarized. All the homebirth-friendly doctors are on vacation right now. We may see if there's anything more that we can do here. Otherwise, we'll just wait until next week, and Will can go meet up with someone in Moscow then. At least he was able to see all the Gospelink men and get things moving with our visas, as he had planned.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Home alone

Will left early this morning for Moscow, so we are Papa-less here. So far, all is going smoothly, even though we miss him. Raia seems to be getting less fussy. Yesterday was better, but then she gave us a hard time during the night. Today she's had fussy spells, but I think it's better overall. That's a big answer to prayer, because I don't think I could survive without Will, if she was still screaming so much.

Jaan and I have been busy with fun little projects. He's become quite an artist just recently. He loves to color. We bought him a paint with water book, which just fascinates him. (That's what he's doing in the photo below.) I made the mistake of letting him use my scissors (with help, of course); now he thinks he should be able to use them all the time. It's fun to see him enjoying all this so much.

The artist at work
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

See how we avoid too much mess? He gets a whole bottle cap full of water.

Please be praying for our document problems to be resolved!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Potty pictures

I feel like I'm having to give up on anything that can't be done while bouncing a crying baby. You know, all those unimportant things like eating, going to the bathroom, cooking, and such. Just kidding. It does get frustrating, though. I finally got Raia to sleep, so I'm going to type fast now. Hmm, if I could just learn how to type with my nose. . .

Actually, after I told everyone what a hard time we're having, Raia did give me one really thoughtful gift yesterday: she slept all the way through church. Jaan did, too. Seeing both of them curled up together so sweetly for two whole hours probably made everyone wonder what I meant about fussiness. It was a very refreshing break for me!

OK, on to the photos:

Potty partners
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Unfortunately, Raia was indulging in her recent favorite pastime when Will took the picture. She doesn't like to sit any longer than it takes her to do her business. She's happy until she's done, but then she's DONE. I guess not even posing for a photo will keep her interest. I still thought it was cute though. (There had better be some Langers reading this to make posting such a silly photo caption worthwhile! Kristin? Kara? Are you there?)

A happier potty picture
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Sunday, August 07, 2005


Lately Raia has had good days and bad days. The last few have been pretty bad. She seems to cry a whole lot. We've noticed that she's developing an umbilical hernia like Jaan had. This time I know that it's nothing to worry about, and I know what to do for it, but I think it must be uncomfortable for her. Jaan was at his fussiest when he had his hernia, too.

She's crying so much that one of our neighbors stopped me yesterday and told me that someone must have put the Evil Eye on her. She then started listing off strange things I should do to counteract that. So, pray for our neighbors, when you pray for us. Pray for them to be patient with the crying, but also pray that they would come to know the Truth.

Who wants to come hold Raia for me?

Saturday, August 06, 2005

In the words of Jaan

Jaan still doesn't talk much, but recently he's starting saying his
name. At least, he says "Ya." It's pretty funny because that means
"I" or even "I am" in Russian, so when someone asks him what his name
is, he replies with "I am." I hope that not sacrilegious! I know he
doesn't mean it to be.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Another beautiful day in Russia

I waited to post today, because I was hoping to have a certain piece of good news to share. Alas! not so. (Hmm. Can you tell that our current read aloud is about King Arthur? I don't think I would usually use "alas" in everyday speech or writing.) Several people had told us that we could get the letter notarized here, and so get the birth certificate right away. Will went to the notary, and found out that it would be impossible. Now the birth certificate is on a back burner until we get Gospelink business arranged so that Will can make a trip to Moscow to meet with the missionaries in that region. Then he'll be able to go to a notary there.

I also haven't written much because I've been busy with tomatoes. Monday morning Will got me 23 kilograms of tomatoes. That's more than 50 lbs.! (He had to bring them back from the market on a borrowed bicycle. ) So, I've been cooking and freezing tomatoes. Today, while Jaan and I were working on that in the kitchen, Raia slept in the living room. We heard her start fussing, and while I washed my hands, Jaan ran out to her. By the time I got to them, he was sitting there, babbling to her. She was smiling up at him. He's such a good big brother!

Anyway, I've thoroughly enjoyed that work. Also, last night we went over to the Korneichuk's to get our pool out of their yard before they come home. We ended up staying for quite a while and working in their garden. That was fun work, too. Of course, Jaan enjoyed the time to play outdoors, and Raia got a good fresh air nap.

Oh! I do have some other good news. After three months of being off, our hot water came on yesterday. It's so nice, but I'm having trouble getting used to having it back. What a wonderful trouble to have to deal with!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Getting closer!

The people at ZAGS today were very nice, which is a direct answer to prayer. They were very surprised that we had such a hard time in Moscow, and kept telling us that they weren't going to refuse to give us a birth certificate here.

The woman in charge of birth certificates had never dealt with a home birth or a family where both parents are foreigners, so she went straight to her boss. The boss didn't know what to do either, but she found out by calling Vladimir, which is the capital city of our region. Apparently all we need is to have the doctor who wrote our letter come out and sign in person (not very likely), or have her letter notarized. Will is probably going to have to make a trip to Moscow to do that.

So, I'm a little sad, because this new delay kills all my hopes of a trip to Romania to see my sweet Daniela and renew our visas. But I'm also very encouraged by the kindness of the officials here and by how close we seem to be to getting this birth certificate.

A smile?
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

I had Will take several photos, trying to catch a smile, but Raia was too fast each time. Does this one count, though? It's pretty close.