Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Our strange son

Nature boy
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

During the really cold weather, when it was rather cold inside, Jaan started shedding his clothes at random times. He's crazy! Anyway, he would completely undress, and then sit on the radiator by the (COLD) window with his bear and talk to the plants. Will said he just needed some time to commune with nature.

Monday, January 30, 2006

All is well here!

I've just been busy, and not had time for the computer.

Jaan wanted me to take this photo:

"Mama, picture!"
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

During the cold weather, Jaan and I had time indoors to do fun preschool activities from Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready, one of which was making a necklace with paper "beads" and a pipe cleaner "needle." Of course, since Jaan is a boy, his was a crane, which he carefully raised and lowered while making appropriate noises.

Jaan now knows most colors, circles, squares, and letters A, B, C, J, O, Z ("letter zebra"), and Я. He's very careful to turn over the R piece in his alphabet puzzle, and tell us that it is Я (Ya). Talking is coming along slowly, but he amazes me with new words every day.

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Raia continues to keep us amused with her "crawling." This photo was a second too late, because she was doing a full split just before. I think she's making progress, but she really doesn't see any reason for forward motion; after all, we carry her everywhere she really needs to go, right?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Questions and answers

We're still here. The glaciers in our windows are receding, and we haven't frozen. The computer is just almost constantly in use for Gospelink and other important purposes, so I haven't had a chance to write. Here are some recent questions that I haven't had time to answer:

Q. Is the building heat still on?
A. Yes. It wouldn't go off during a big cold spell like this.

Q. Do you have hot water?
A. Yes, and it sure is nice!

Q. Is the electricity still on?
A. Yes, and I wouldn't expect it to go off either.

Q. How cold is it inside the apartment?
A. I don't know exactly. It's "sweatshirt weather" in here.

Q. Who loaned you the heater?
A. The Korneichuks.

Q. Did you have church? I just wondered because they said schools were called off in Moscow this past Thurs and Fri.
A. Yes. It was a little warmer yesterday. The schools in this area were closed all of last week, though.

Q. I always thought of the flats as being too warm!! I guess that's not the case in Kovrov, huh?
A. It just depends on the weather. These buildings were made to handle cold, but if it's COLD out, they can't quite keep up. In cold weather, it might be overly warm, but in COLD weather, it does get cool inside.

Q. How is Raia doing with crawling?
A. I say that she's crawling; Will says that she's not. True, she's not crawling straight forward, but she's moving all over. So far, it seems like crawling is an art, not a science, for her. She's working on a new sport called "figure crawling" (like figure skating). She does a loop around forwards, then backwards, then she slowly and majestically raises an arm as high as it will go and poses like that, then another time around, then a leg up in the air. . . . The only time she moves efficiently is when Jaan helps: Raia lies on her tummy in a Superman position, and Jaan pushes her from behind. Then she flies over our linoleum floors!

This is just a cute picture from last night:

Mark and Jaan
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Cold weather continues

This photo pretty much sums up our day:

Staying warm and Gospelink
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Note that Jaan's feet are right on the heater we borrowed last night. And Will is busy with Gospelink work.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


That lying weather sticker I have over on the side of this page said "27° F - 6:00 AM" yesterday.  Not too cold, right?  The day was beautiful and clear, but I thought that sounded a little optimistic.  We started out for a walk together, and I was afraid Raia and I were going to freeze while we waited outside for Will and Jaan to join us.  She was crying, and the tears were freezing on her poor little face!  We only lasted for a quick loop around the neighborhood.  It was refreshing, even if it wasn't the walk in the woods that we wanted.

When we got back, I looked at our thermometer: -20° C (-4° F).  That's a bit more like it!  Then I found a better weather forecast at Weather.com: "Bitterly cold. Mostly cloudy. Low -18F. Winds NNE at 5 to 10 mph."  Uh-huh.  I can't argue with that one, except for the cloudy part.  It was--and is--as clear as can be.  They gave -14° as the HIGH for today.  We have ice on the insides of of our double-paned windows.  (But we're plenty warm, Mom.)

By the way, Weather Underground for Vladimir is usually a pretty good reflection of what we see here.  It must have just gotten stuck or something yesterday. It seems to be working again now: -21° F at 9:00 AM.

Waking up and discovering the ice
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Also, to change the subject completely, this is pretty interesting!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Out of the mouth of babes

Jaan has had me laughing a lot lately, as he's learning to talk more. Almost all of his English words are commands. When I take him to the bathroom, he points to the door and tells me "GOUT!" (go out), then "DOE!" (close the door). If one of us is in his way, he's very quick to say "MOOSH!" (move), or "S' DOWN!", or "S' D' UP!" to get us to where he wants us. We're working on adding "please" to these commands, and he's doing quite well with that. He can clearly say "please" and "пожалуйста" now. "Спасибо" is also very clear, but when he tries to say "thank you," it comes out sounding Ukrainian.

And Raia has been saying "Papa." Really! Last week she was saying "pa-pa-pa-pa-pa." We started trying to get her to just say two syllables together, and she really responded. I think she's even starting to understand what she's saying.

This is just a cute picture of her from yesterday:

Big girl!
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Last night

Jaan with the clown
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Jaan doesn't look too sure about this clown who was at the orphanage, but he really did like her. It was just a little scary when she picked him up.

We had a wonderful visit the orphanage last night. A group came with presents and a program. We loved having an excuse to visit with the children!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

P.S. to what I wrote yesterday

I forgot to say that the children's Christmas evangelism program went well. Our landlord and his daughter did come, and he's still raving about how good the puppet show was and how much fun his daughter had. It was a hit in Sannikovo, too, and Will says there were more adults--parents and grandparents--than they've ever had come out for anything before. Of course, all the kids came. Thank you for praying!

Babushka Tanya did call us to wish us a Merry Christmas, but she didn't come to church.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Our Christmas

On January 7th we celebrate Christmas with our church family. This year we had church in the morning, then tea. We were supposed to go caroling after that, but they put it off until the evening, so the children and I didn't go. We had a wonderful day! Here are a few pictures:

The children at church
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Practicing flying
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Pavel B. said that he was trying to get her ready for when she flies to visit her grandparents some day. Raia loved it!

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

С Рождеством!

It's Christmas again! We have a busy day ahead of us. . . .

(Our internet card ran out in the middle of trying to post yesterday. We'll get a new one soon, and then I'll be able to finish that post and put this one up, too. If you see updates, we're back online, obviously.)

Friday, January 06, 2006


A childhood friend was in Moscow for a month. I had invited her out here to see us, but she couldn't come, so yesterday we went to see her, her brother, and the Sullivans. It was a very long, cold day, and we're tired now, but it was also a very relaxing refreshing change of pace.

With Evelyn and Tim
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Evelyn and Raia
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Probably the most interesting part of the day wasn't even during our visit. As we got on to the late night commuter train from Vladimir to Kovrov with Jaan throwing a full-blown tantrum and Raia crying, I noticed all the babushki scrambling to go through their purses. The usual babushka treatment for a tantrum is a handful of candy. One woman brought over a whole bag of treats and told us "Merry Christmas!" We thought that was unusual, because most people would still be wishing us a happy New Year. She came back a few minutes later with a pack of tvorog. Then, once we had gotten our babies to sleep (no, Jaan did NOT get any of the treats), she came back again, this time to slide a gift of money into my pocket. We tried not to take it, but she insisted, so it will be going into the offering tomorrow.

She sat and talked to us the whole way to Kovrov. Apparently she had traveled with us in the morning, too. We got to share quite a bit with her, and then we mostly just sat and listened. She works in the "baby house" here. (Sorry for the literal translation. I'm referring to the orphanage just for babies.) Just because of that, I was very excited to meet her. The baby house here is not very open to help, but she did tell us what they do and don't need. I left slightly hopeful that we could be allowed in for a visit if we brought some of the things she mentioned, even though that's not officially allowed. We exchanged phone numbers and invited her to our Christmas service tomorrow. Pray that we'll have further contact with Babushka Tanya!

Also, you can pray for the children's Christmas program at church today. We didn't go, because it was for older, unsaved children, but Will's there. Please pray that there will be a good turnout and response. Our landlord and his daughter were supposed to come. Will, Pavel and a visiting group will also be doing the Christmas program in Sannikovo tonight.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


I love January in Russia! (Of course, that's easy, because I love
all months and seasons here.) January makes me think of crystal
clear days, a drop in temperature, brilliant early sunsets, and
bright whiteness. Today when we went out for our walk it was -1/-18;
-20 is where I start feeling cold, and we're getting close to that.

We've had fun watching the birds in our new bird feeder today, and
Jaan's back to being my good helper in everything. I've really been
fighting him on behavior and attitude for a while now, so it's
especially nice to have my cheerful helper back. Raia's working hard
on her crawling skills. In fact, she can hardly stop to sleep!

Tomorrow we're going in to Moscow to visit friends. . . .

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


We had a wonderful visit with our friends! It was so much fun to see Jaan and Bogdan together. You should have heard all the truck noises as they pushed their various little vehicles around our apartment constantly!

Bogdan and Jaan
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Bagels and more

Here are a few photos of our fun day yesterday:

Jaan enjoying his bagel
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Will and the CREAM CHEESE
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Raia ripping into a present
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

. . . while Jaan enjoys his "kakao."

Tonight we have friends from our old church in Moscow coming. They'll go to the youth club--which is tonight, because of the holidays--then spend the night and go to church with us tomorrow. (Church was also postponed, because our meeting place was closed on Sunday.) The Egor, Olga and Bogdan family will be staying with us; anyone else will sleep over at the Korneichuks.

One more thing: Raia is within inches of crawling! If I put her down on the kitchen floor, she makes it to the other side of the room in no time. She just gets up on her hands and knees, then pushes herself backwards. Her hands don't understand their part yet, so on other less slippery surfaces, she mostly just rocks back and forth and moves slowly.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

С Новым Годом!

That is, Happy New Year!

Last night we planned to go to the church party as a family, instead of me staying home with the children. This is the biggest holiday of the year in Russia, and the parties go all the way until the morning. So, we dragged Jaan and Raia (and Mi-ka, can't forget him!) out of bed and headed off to the Korneichuks' house at 10:00 last night. My plan was to put our babies back to bed there, and then join everyone else in the other room. I started on that. . . and woke up this morning to Will telling me that a taxi was already coming to take us home, so I should get us ready. I slept through the whole party!

Now we have a beautiful sunny day to enjoy. Will and Raia are asleep. When Raia wakes up, three of us will probably go outside, while one keeps on sleeping. When that one finally gets up, we'll open presents! Jaan understands what presents are now, so he's itching to get his hands on these from our Hunsucker relatives. . . .

We'll kill the time by making bagels. Will found cream cheese here: 1.6 kilograms of it! And it's the real stuff, Philadelphia brand! They've never had it before in the store here, and might not ever have it again. We have to make bagels to go with the cream cheese. Yum!

We already received an email saying that my parents are home safely. We miss them!