Saturday, July 28, 2007

What to write?

I'm having a hard time thinking of what to write. I want to say more than just the children are growing, the belly is growing, the garden is growing. . . .

We got some great dirty pictures this week. Here's one:

Beautiful girl
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

(Maybe I've mentioned this before: when Raia looks like this, and I
ask her if she's dirty, she always replies, "No, I'm beautiful!")

Will built us a sink, using the old washing machine:

Old washing machine gets a new lease on life
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

I thought this was cute:

Putting the babies to bed
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Of course, Jaan and Raia are always together, and they adore one another. However, they usually play side by side, not together, if you know what I mean. One rainy morning this week, they--on their own--started playing house for the first time. I loved watching!

Monday, July 23, 2007

. . . and back at the dacha

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

We finally got back out to our dacha last week! It seemed like it had been so long. After our week at home, we had planned to return to the dacha on Monday, but I just couldn't seem to recover from the heat and exertion of going to church. (Nothing serious, just very weak and tired.) Monday and Tuesday I felt too bad to get up and get going. I started myself on a no sugar, no white flour diet, and it seems to be helping. (That's easier said than done here, without well-stocked American health food stores. The average Russian diet is refined sugar, starches, and white flour. . . well, almost. ) Once I got moving again, we were able to spend Wednesday through Sunday morning gardening. It took almost that much time for Will to catch up with the weeds! Everything is growing beautifully, though. We spent Sunday at home, and once I'm done here, we'll be going back to our dacha.

We're having fun getting to know people out there. When we arrived, our sandbox was FULL of old toys. We still don't know who they are from, but the children thought it was Christmas morning, and they've been enjoying them ever since. This week our five-year-old neighbor was visiting his grandmother, so it's been a little quieter than usual. We're glad that Jaan has a friend to spend so much time with, but we're also working to balance that outside influence. You can pray that more of Jaan will rub off on Pavlik than the other way around. Up until now, Jaan had usually only played with children of our close friends, neighbors we know well, or much older children. Now we're getting our first taste of more typical little boy play, where everything comes straight from TV and movies. Instead of hurting feelings by absolutely refusing to let Jaan go over and watch TV in their dacha, we try to invite Pavlik over to spend time with us more often. The poor kid has had to try some pretty interesting meals! I wonder what he tells his Mom about us?

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Funny story: one day I noticed that Jaan and Raia were chewing something green, so I rushed over and asked what they were doing. They replied that they had gotten into nettles, so they were "making подорожник." What? Подорожник is a common weed, that is used to treat stings. But how do you make it? It turned out that they thought when I picked подорожник, chewed it and stuck it on them, I was making some kind of medicine. And further, they thought that it could be made with any kind of leaf! Needless to say, we had a little nature lesson, and now they can identify and use подорожник on their own.

Raia's подорожник
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

At home

We spent the past week at home. We had been planning on doing that, once we had our garden planted and things settled at the dacha. Settling in here in our new apartment is going to take a lot of work, but Will was able to make good progress on that over the past week.

He sorted through things, built shelves, hung wallpaper, bought and installed a home entertainment center. . . um, well not a home entertainment center exactly, but our children think that's what it is. We now have a. . . (drumroll please). . .

Washing machine!
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

That's a first for us, and it is so nice! I can't believe how easy it is to wash clothes now. The children pretty much do it for me. We throw everything in, and two hours later it's all ready to be hung up! Doesn't even need to be wrung out! Jaan and Raia give me a blow-by-blow account of what's happening for most of the whole two hours. The first time they saw a spin cycle, Jaan came running to me with big eyes, yelling that something terrible had happened: the clothes had disappeared! He and Raia were both very relieved to see everything "come back" a few minutes later.

Doing laundry
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

On Wednesday we celebrated Will's birthday. He went to the nursing home as usual. When he came back, we were waiting with a special dinner, games, and mocha cheesecake. We didn't invite any guests, but we had a wonderful time as a family.

Happy birthday, Will!
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Then Will also got to go to Moscow for a slumber party with Nathan. That's when he posted all those photos. (Oh, my! I'm just now seeing how many there actually were. I hope they weren't too much for anyone with a slow connection.)

For over a month now, we've only been home on the weekends. Those are our busy times, so we haven't been going for walks or playing outside around here much at all. This week we were able to get back into our old schedule with that. I was just amazed by how many people had noticed our absence. I would expect the babushki and young mothers that I usually talk with to ask about us, but I had people I didn't even know coming up and saying that they had been worried about us and missed us. I found it encouraging. People do notice us and miss us when we're gone. Several people wanted to know why Will had let the grass grow in the courtyard this summer, instead of cutting it like he has in the past. Again, I was glad that when we had to move, we didn't have to go far.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

For our fans: a backlog of dacha photos

An early unfortunate discovery: crabgrass exists even in Russia!
Jaan enjoying his first hot dog at the dacha.
Necessity - the mother of invention.

Cuddling up inside when it was still cold outside.

Sunny weather!

Close encounters with a butterfly.

Russian poster child.

...but all-American when it comes to mud!

Jaan watering the rhubarb

Enjoying eating outside.

Jaan showing off his new swing.

Raia helping mama plant cucumbers...

...and watering them all on her own!

Early moorning cofffy....

Jaan helping Raia dress

Jaan "working" on papa's bicycle.

Jaan gardening...

...and planting flower seeds.

Raia doing her part.

Supper (grilled chicken)

Washing up...

...dirty feet...

...and dirty faces.

Weeding together.

Jaan going for water with papa.

Scary Monsters!!

Jaan in his nest.

Our "street".

Helping papa fix the bike.

Easy in, easy out!

Helping mama rest

Look, mom! No fleas!!


Following the snake with mama.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

A slow week

We had a slow, quiet week, since we all came down with colds. That wasn't any fun, but it did seem easier put up with not feeling good when we could be outside all the time. The children and I spent a lot of time resting on a blanket spread on the grass behind our garden. I think we ended up with more nature photos from the week than anything else. None of those are spectacular, since our camera is more for taking pictures of cute children than snakes and bird nests. I did add quite a few garden pictures over on the side here.

Yes, I said mentioned a snake! (Wildlife is pretty rare in Russia, so I get even more excited about it here than anywhere else. Did I tell you that Jaan and I saw a musk rat at the camp site last week?) One night when we were eating dinner outside, I saw a snake in the woodpile by our outhouse. It moved on too quickly for anyone else to see it. But then, when we were finished eating, I saw it coming out of the other side of the outhouse. () From there we chased it all over our neighbor's yard and back into ours. Jaan and Raia got great views of it, and so did our five-year-old neighbor boy. They were all so excited! (So was I!)

And I mentioned Bluethroats, my new favorite birds? They built a nest in the lot behind ours! So far, there are two little eggs in there.

Other than that, here are just a few more random bits:
-We found out when gooseberries ripen. . . now! And we're also enjoying raspberries, the last of the strawberries, red currants, black currants, and white currants.
-Jaan and I discovered the pond. I think there should be a note added to The Care and Feeding of Pregnant Women, if there is such a book. It should go like this: "Be sure to have a cold pond nearby, for any discomfort from hot days." The water is so cold that we can only stand it for a few minutes, but now that I know how nice it is, we're going to be jumping in a few times a day. (I know, I know, not what we should have been doing with colds. I made sure that we kept our heads out of the water, though.)

Strawberry shortcake!
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

This was before we got sick. Last weekend Raia and I baked shortcakes, which we took with us and enjoyed at the dacha.

The other kind of strawberry
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

I was weeding the radishes. Raia came up to me, pointed to them, and asked for "that kind of strawberry." I asked, "Strawberries that grow underground?" She nodded, so I gave her a radish, and she happily ate it.

Chicken soup
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Bathing beauties
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

I thought I had gotten a system set up for once a week online time. I bring the computer with me to the Saturday morning prayer meeting for young mothers at the church apartment, then set up and use the phone here after everyone leaves. Last week Will came and fixed the phone so that I could do that. So, everything is set, right? This week I got online, got most of the way through checking email, and the internet card ran out. Once again, Will has to get the children dressed, and come over to rescue me. . . .