Sunday, December 31, 2006

More Christmas pictures

A Christmas present!
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Christmas dinner
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Happy Birthday Jesus!
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Raia was dancing, or rejoicing, or something.

Treats for our neighbors
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Some Christmas pictures (and more)

Christmas morning
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Raia pushes Jaan
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Jaan pushes Papa
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

I should have taken some photos of how the children slept after all the fun in the snow! The weather today is just as beautiful as it was when we took these pictures, it's just colder now. (The temperature is a good bit lower than the Vladimir weather sticker is showing.)

Woodpecker paintings
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Jaan and I painted again last night. We've been seeing a Great Spotted Woodpecker right here around our home recently, so of course we had to paint one. We had seen them in the woods before, but never right here. Jaan's painting is more than just woodpeckers, but I can't remember all the other details. I'll have to ask him to explain it to me again.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Praise the Lord!

My friend has a sweet new baby! I hadn't heard any news when I went to bed last night, so it was the first thing I checked for this morning. Caiden (Jeffovna? ) was born yesterday. She shares a birthday with two other sweet little girls: Katya Korneichuk here and Eliana, the daughter of our friends in Indonesia. My Mom has already seen Caiden and says that she's beautiful! Praise God for the safe arrival of this sweet baby, and please pray for Shannon to recover quickly and well from the c-section.

(By the way, lest anyone take me seriously, I am joking about the middle name. I haven't heard if she has one, so I just made one as if she had been born here.)

Edited to add: look here and here for photos. If you're Russian, be forewarned: the second photo is horribly shocking!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Last bit of advent

With Natalya
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

On Christmas Eve I invited one of our neighbors to come up for our advent time. She's an English teacher, so she's interested in our holidays and the Christmas carols (although, we usually sing them in Russian ). Plus, she loves our children. Back when I planned, I had written a new note, which only works in Russian, but our verse was the same as the one on the list: John 3:16. Jaan and Raia were so excited about the balloons, that they couldn't listen very well, though.

By the way, this neighbor informed us that she was talking to Jaan recently and mentioned something about all the snow that Дед Мороз (Grandfather Frost) had brought us. He was very quick to point out that Jesus, not Дед Мороз, had sent the snow.

There was one last treasure for Christmas Day:

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Look how she's grown!
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

I particularly liked the message:
"December 25 - Isn't this baby cute? When he was born, he made a whole family happy. Jesus was born a baby, too. He came to make the whole world happy. Read: Luke 2:1-20. Enjoy your celebration today. Continue to learn about Jesus and love Him forever!"
(The pictures on the ornaments are from their first Christmases.) Our sweet children bring us so much joy, and Jesus does even more so; He is our Joy!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Merry Christmas!

For those of you who are missing snow
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

We had a wonderful family Christmas yesterday, and now the holiday season is just getting started here. Yesterday we had a quiet morning together, then went out for a walk in the woods. The weather was perfect: clear and cold with fresh snow. Will kept trying to get pictures of the snow sparkling in the air, but it didn't show up in any of them. All of us had a great time enjoying the beauty, sledding, and having fun together.

Jaan and Raia were so tired when we got home that they took extra long naps. While they slept, Will and I enjoyed the quiet and prepared our Christmas dinner. The children woke up to that, then the Christmas story, a present, and a birthday cake. We spent the evening visiting our neighbors with treats and Christmas greetings. (December 25 isn't a holiday at all for them.) Then it was bedtime. We had such a perfect day, I didn't want it to end! I'm glad we get to celebrate for another two weeks here.

There are a ton of pictures from yesterday. Hopefully, I will get to sharing some of those and the last little bit of advent soon.

My wish for you is that you will continue to celebrate Christ always, even if you live somewhere where Christmas is already over.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

His little sheep (and regional news)

Wool socks!
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

(Jaan was in desperate need of wool socks, so that was what they found in their bags last night, instead of any other reminder of sheep.)

For those of you who know and love everyone out here, and for all the prayer warriors who pray without knowing them personally, here's a random list of the news that Will brought back from the regional missionary-pastor meeting Friday:
The Miskevichs have a new baby! (I don't know the gender or name, but at least I know about the baby!) The Egorovs--that's Nadya and Volodya in Sudogda, who were in the car accident this summer--have a baby due at the end of January, and the baby is still breech; please pray! (And please pray for my friend Shannon, who's in the same situation.) The Kolchugino church wants to join back in to our regional church organization. The government is tightening control on non-profit organizations. (Moms, don't worry. This is not personal persecution. It's new paperwork and inspections for the churches.) They watched a presentation compiling survey data from independent surveys; the official figures are that Russia is about 70% Christian (Orthodox). These surveys went deeper: about 7% actually attend church, take communion, and are serious about what they believe. Pray for Russia!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

What a day!

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Yesterday was one of Those Days. I won’t say it was bad, because I needed the reminder to cling to the Lord, and I am not unhappy with the way I responded to the children all day. . . but it was very hard. Somehow I forgot to figure how much Will would be gone on these last few days before our family Christmas into my plans. When I realized, I thought it wouldn’t be too big of a problem. Making Christmas cookies sounds like a good thing to do with the children on the long days without Papa, right? Somehow it also slipped my mind that last year we only had one little helper (Raia wasn’t mobile yet) to three adults (both my parents helped). This year it’s more like one adult, one hurricane, and one tornado. Add in that our day started off with a minor flood in our kitchen, which became a major flood running down our neighbor’s wall, and that the children were WILD, and you can guess how things went.

Oh, I was gratified to see that when I let them run free outside yesterday, they actually did run around screaming. It seems like no matter how much they do that inside, I take them out and they turn into demure little angels. Not that I would complain about that--they’re like me, God’s creation has a calming influence on them--but sometimes it is nice for the wildness to take place outside, not in our little apartment!

We did have some especially sweet moments. After nap time, Raia was fussy, so Jaan wanted to hold her and “pet” her to calm her down. She didn’t like that, but all three of us snuggled up on Jaan’s bed, and he got to pet her while she nursed. That did the trick, and we all got up happy.

And we all enjoyed our advent time, even without Papa. Jaan seemed to understand the story and did very well repeating that the Holy Spirit came down like a dove. However, when Will came home and went in to say good night, Jaan announced, “Papa, we learned that the Holy Spirit came down like a PARROT!”

Tonight, again without Will, we’ll read
”December 23 - This is soft and fuzzy like a sheep. Jesus called Himself the good shepherd. Do you know who His sheep are? Read: John 10:7-18.”

EVENING UPDATE: Today has gone much more smoothly. We made two kinds of fudge and decorated our gingerbread men from yesterday. We had two mishaps, not related to cooking. Jaan and Raia were really looking forward to going and buying chocolate to decorate with. When they woke up from their naps, we got dressed and went out for our promised walk to the store. I put Raia down outside, and she didn't say anything. Well, I wouldn't expect her to say anything, since she's not talking yet, but she didn't make any noise. . . just toddled off. It was really dark. When we got out under the lights in front of the store, I looked down and saw that my baby had just walked through the snow to the store IN HER SOCKS!!! I had forgotten to put her boots on her! I grabbed her and ran back, came up here to put her boots on while Jaan waited outside, and hoped that no one had noticed. Well, no one had seen, but I came out to find Jaan reporting the whole story to the neighbors.

The second mishap came during the moment when I closed them out of the living room to hide their advent bags. I opened the door and Jaan came running by. When I grabbed his arm to slow him down, he kind of gulped and then started gasping. There had been a coin in his mouth, and he had swallowed it! He did the same thing when he was really little, but this time it didn't go down as easily. He recovered after a phone call to Will, some water, and a second helping of supper.

Life is never dull!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Faith like a mustard seed

Raia's mustard seeds
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

(I didn't get any good photos of Jaan last night.)

"December 22 - We've learned that the cross represents Christ, but do you know what the dove stands for? Read: Matthew 3:13-17."

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Originally uploaded by fylliska.

(Yes, that's a smile. At least, she thinks it is.)

Next is
"December 21 - The mustard seed is the smallest there is. When it sprouts, it grows into one of the largest plants. See what Jesus said. Read: Matthew 17:20."

Oh, and our marigold seeds from a few nights ago are already sprouting!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

All about yesterday

I hope no one is getting tired of advent posts. Who could get tired of sweet children learning about Jesus? But then, they are my sweet children, so I'm probably biased. The photos from yesterday show more of a whole day around here.

But before we get to the photos. . . last night we thanked God for the snow. Jaan seemed to be quite fascinated by the idea that God gives us snow. This morning the first words out of his mouth when he looked out the windows were, "Бог кидал нам еще снег!" ("God threw us some more snow!")

Shoveling snow
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

His feet got wet, so he had to rest them on the heating pipes for a while when we came in.

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Last night's advent treasure.

At the orphanage
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

The kids were so wound up! They combined both fourth grade classes, and it caused chaos. Oh, well! Both our children and the children there enjoyed the movie. Although, like Will said, "After a good night with them, you feel tired. After a bad night, you feel like you've been run over by a truck." It was a run-over-by-a-truck night for the adults.

Tonight, in our family, we'll be enjoying popcorn and reading this:
"December 20 - Popcorn kernels to make popcorn! Jesus talked about corn and serving Him in this passage: John 12:24-26."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

White Christmas?!?

We have had really strange weather this year. The snow was wonderful all through November; everyone was commenting on how unusual it was to have all of November without a thaw. Then December came and it all melted. This weekend we saw a hard rainstorm, followed by a rainbow! Now it's starting to get colder again. Yesterday was beautiful, and today promises to be about the same: fresh snow on the ground, clear blue skies and SUNSHINE. Now that's what winter should be here!

Here are photos from the past few days of advent:

Feeding raisins to the bag monster
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

. . . on December 16.

Planting our seeds
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

. . . on December 17. They made me laugh so hard on Sunday. I had to bring Raia home from church early. When Jaan returned later with Will, Raia attacked her big brother with enough squeals and hugs to make it seem like she hadn't seen him in a year. And in the midst of that Jaan announced, "We saw fireworks! I wasn't scared, but Papa was."

Christmas carols!
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

. . . on December 18. (Maybe this photo is better?)

We'll continue learning about Jesus tonight with
"December 19 - A hard stone! Can you change this stone into a piece of bread? Do you think Jesus could? Jesus was asked to do just that. Do
know how He handled it? Read: Matthew 4:1-4."

Then we're headed off to the orphanage to enjoy some time with the children and see the Christmas movie Will's going to be showing them.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

God takes care of the flowers

And He takes care of us!

God takes care of the flowers
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

They were just plain dried flowers, but I sprinkled them with lavender oil, to make them special.

We have a few busy days ahead. Here's for today
"December 16 - Raisins! They are made from grapes, which are a healthy and delicious fruit. Jesus told us how we can produce good fruit. Read: John 15:1-5."
Ilyusha is coming over to play before the youth meeting, so we'll probably include him in this.

And tomorrow
"December 17 - Jesus told a story about seeds that a man planted. Then He explained it, revealing its deep meaning. Read: Matthew 13:3-8 and Matthew 13:18-23."

And Monday
"December 18 -Christmas is just about a week away. And here is an appropriate song. Sing it loudly! The angels also praised God when Jesus was born. Read: Luke 2:8-14."

Had I mentioned that Raia's favorite Christmas carol is "The Wise Man Built His House upon the Rock"?

Letting Mama smell
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Building on the Rock

. . . or on the sand?
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Now we'll do
"December 15 - Flowers are pretty, aren't they? Jesus used flowers to teach us a reassuring lesson. Read: Matthew 6:28-34."

I forgot to tell about Raia's new word: какао (hot chocolate). The day before yesterday, Jaan was trying to convince me that he needed hot chocolate, he finished his argument with, "Видишь, даже Ляля хочет какао. Да, Ляля?" ("See, even Baby wants hot chocolate. Right, Baby?") She nodded her head vigorously, which I would have expected, but then she shocked both of us by saying "КАКАО!" loud and clear. Now whenever she wants a drink she says какао (but she'll happily accept water).

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Raia wants some, too.
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

And right now Jaan is asking if he can climb the Christmas tree! I haven't been quoting him as much lately, but he still keeps me laughing.

Last night (and all of yesterday) went wonderfully, even though we missed Will. He's back now, sleeping. Tonight we'll be reading
"December 14 - Don't try to eat this! It's sand. It reminds us that Jesus knows something about architecture, about buildings--and building lives. See His instructions: Matthew 7:24-29."

Yesterday we actually made it outside and stayed out for a long time. We've been sitting inside a lot more than I like to, but the mud was almost impossible to navigate with two little ones who fall into puddles. Yesterday was drier. One babushka just kept shaking her head over the fact that Jaan and Raia were riding a tricycle in December. It is rather strange! Most of the time we were outside we followed a huge flock of waxwings around. They're usually in pretty big groups, but this much have been a convention. I've never seen so many in once place, at one time. Raia was so excited! She would just stand, looking up, saying "тица! тица!" and then start trying to jump. I think she wanted to fly up to them.

Now Raia's putting her bears to bed in my lap: "Shh, Mama!" Life is wonderful!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

More advent pictures

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Putting it on the Christmas tree
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Last night we put one on the tree and one on our display shelf. Which reminds me: we haven't shown you our shelf!

The review shelf
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

This is just from the first week. Now we've moved down, and we're filling up the next one. Every day we look at our display and talk about what each little thing reminds us of.

Pray for us tonight without Papa! (He's in Moscow for the day.)
"December 13 - Ordinary salt. Yes, Jesus related salt to us and our behavior. He also gave us some advice. Read: Matthew 5:13 and Colossians 4:6.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Advent day 11

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

While Will was hiding the bags, lighting the candles and getting the living room ready, we made hot chocolate and tea. Jaan and Raia were thrilled to find heart cookies and share a special snack.

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

"Слава Богу"
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Jaan always wants to sing "слава Богу" ("praise God") and nothing else, so last night we switched to learning a different Christmas carol: "Слава, слава Богу в вышних." Papa even let him help play it on the guitar! (Note the book lying open there. Jaan usually uses the animal book that has been his favorite since he was a baby as his hymnbook. It makes perfect sense to me, looking at God's creatures and praising Him!)

Cleaning up
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

This made me laugh. When we were done, Jaan helped me clean up. We were too early, though. Raia wasn't done eating. She came back with her crumbly cookies, so Jaan sat right by her with the vacuum and cleaned up crumbs as she dropped them.

Next reading:
"December 12 - We use the cross as a symbol, representing Jesus. Do you know why? Read: Phillipians 2:1-11."

Monday, December 11, 2006

Busy day

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Last night, we came home from a long day at church with no naps, had a quick supper, and then visited with our friends from Viazniki. After all that, Jaan and Raia were too tired for much at all, but they found the bars of soap, listened to the story, and then fell into bed.

Today we'll be able to sing and draw the special time out a little more.
"December 11 - Hearts. Wordlessly, they speak of love, don't they? Jesus gave us some commands about love. Read: Matthew 22:37-40."
(I fixed the reference.)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Houses, soap and a painting

A house!
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

For tonight:
"December 10 - It's soap. Do you like to wash? Washing turned out to be a happy time for a man who met Jesus. Read: John 9:1-7."

Also, I finished another bird painting yesterday. I was looking out our windows and at this picture while I painted. You can compare and let me know what you think. I'm not completely satisfied, so I'm very open to tips, suggestions, and constructive criticism.