Sunday, September 30, 2007

Friday, Saturday, Sunday

On Friday Asya had her first bath:

First bath
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

The hot water was fixed the day she was born, but that only lasted for one day, so she didn't have a chance to enjoy it until Friday. We've found that newborns love to have relaxing "swimming lessons" in a full tub, and Asya is no exception to that.

Going potty
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

There's a similar photo of Raia that I just love. You can't see it here, but Asya gets that very same look of concentration on her face. Useful fact that I'm not sure I had ever heard in America: sometimes babies fuss because they have to go potty, and they're much happier when they don't have to do it in diapers!

Also on Friday Will, Jaan and Raia made a quick trip to our dacha, to pack up some things and bring back fresh vegetables. They also brought me some of my flowers:

"For you!"
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

(I'm afraid it's a better picture of the flowers than of the children.)

Saturday was my first whole day without Will. He had to be at the monthly missionary-pastor meeting in Ivanovo. Everything went really well here, though. We had unexpected helpers (a hyperactive six-year-old boy and his sweet mother) show up in the morning. Even though they are the most. . . how should I say it? demanding? challenging? of any who could have come, it really was nice. They took Jaan and Raia out to play for a while, and then we all had lunch together.

In the afternoon our friends Zoya and Elizabeth, who live in Moscow now, showed up. I knew they were planning on being in Viazniki today, and I was sad that I wouldn't get to see them, so I was thrilled when they called and said, "Um, we're in Kovrov." It was great to see them and catch up a little. I didn't get a good photo of Elizabeth, but I love this one of Zoya and Asya:

Zoya and Asya
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

(Elizabeth, I hope the group one I took with your camera turns out better than ours. Everyone else, go check Elizabeth's blog, because I know she'll be posting about her Kovrov/Viazniki trip when she gets back to Moscow.)

Today Will and the older two are in Viazniki for the Zhatva celebration there. (The churches in our region try to stagger out the dates and times for celebrating Zhatva, so that there are chances to visit each other.) Asya and I are enjoying a very peaceful, quiet day together here. I almost don't know what to do with myself. I think I'll start by watching her sleep for a while. Have I mentioned that she's incredibly sweet?

Friday, September 28, 2007

BIRTHday post

I'll start slowly working on this now (Tuesday) and see how long it takes me to get it pulled together, little by little. Maybe we'll have a name chosen by the time I'm done.

Jaan and Raia woke up at 7:00 monday morning, right as the baby was born. As they stumbled in to meet her, Raia's first response was "Малышка? Отдай!" ("Baby? Hand it over!") Since then, every time I've said something about "our baby," she insists, "No! Mine!" Jaan loves the baby, and wants to hold her constantly, but right at first he was more interested in the details of how the pool got into the room, where the hose came from, if he could go swimming, and so on.

First meeting
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

The baby cried right away, but she calmed down very quickly to the sound of my voice and Will's. I was amazed at her reaction to Jaan and Raia. As soon as she heard them, she lifted her head and tried to look at them!

With big brother
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

. . . and big sister
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

She has feet!
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

"But then why can't she walk? Or at least stand up?"

After a few hours together as a family, Jaan and Raia went to visit friends for the day. Soon after they left, a midwife that we had called from Moscow arrived to check us. She said her trip was pretty much useless; it's rare that she sees both mother and baby in such perfectly good shape. But she did weigh and measure the baby for us.

54 centimeters long
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

So far, the baby seems to be pretty fussy, but very sweet, of course. She wants to eat all the time, so I'm hoping she'll be happier once my milk comes in. She has dark hair, and looks a lot like a fatter version of a newborn Jaan. She's has very alert times, and loves to be talked to. It sure looks like she focuses right on our faces and wants to interact with us. Like all healthy babies, she has a great pair of lungs, but unlike others, she also has a funny shriek, unlike anything I've ever heard before.

Oh, I heard Will muttering about Murphy's Laws of Birth. Some of our last words before bed Sunday night were from Will, "I should have asked Pasha for the pump today" (to blow up the pool) and from me, "It would be really nice if those welders would come tomorrow." (The hot water for our building had been off for a week or so, because some welding needed to be done on the pipes outside. Of course, they came Monday morning, after Will had heated all the water on the stove, just like he had to last time.)

I think I spoke too soon in saying that Asya is fussy. She was her first day, but she's settled down already. She sleeps most of the time, as she should. I know it can probably be explained away as gas, but yesterday (Wednesday) she looked right in my face, met my eyes and smiled. . . twice!

And, yes, Asya is much happier with real milk!

By the way, this time the church has decided that they're going to help us with our new baby. I've been very encouraged by everyone's involvement, even if it is a little much sometimes. We had several helpers a day, almost every day this week! Most people have never seen a baby this small, so it's quite interesting to see their reactions to Asya. (Especially in the old days, even mothers weren't shown their babies until later on than this.) Also, the newborn stage is when I do everything "wrong" by Russian standards, so. . . like I said, it's interesting.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Help from Jaan

We keep getting questions about how to pronounce our baby's name. Here's Jaan, telling you how to say "Baby Asya."

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Share Photos - Free Video Hosting

(DropShots doesn't seem to be working right now. Dad helped out by posting this same video on his site. Click here to go see it. Thanks, Dad!)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

She has a name!

Anastasiya "Asya" Hunsucker
was born at 7:00, Monday morning
September 24, 2007
in Kovrov, Russia.
She weighs about 4 kgs (8 lbs, 13 oz)
and is 54 cms (21.25 inches) long.
Thank you, Lord, for this sweet baby!

Usually I think it's funny to name a baby one thing and call her another. (Hence, Raia is just Raia, not Raisa.) However, in this case I just love the sound and meaning of Anastasiya. (It's prouncounced the Russian way: Ah-nah-stah-SEE-ya, not Anna-stay-zhuh. . . и Ася, не Настя! )

There will be better photos later. . . .

By the way, all along I told Will that I wanted him to name this baby. And he still went with my favorite name choice. He's awfully nice, you know.

UPDATED: Pronounciation is AH-syah, just two syllables. You know, now we have the letter Я spelled every possible way in our family. Our children are Ян, Рая, Ася; in English that's Jaan, Raia, Asya. English is such fun.

Monday, September 24, 2007

New family photo

New family photo
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

We have a sweet new baby girl! Details later.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sorry to leave you hanging

We're doing much better here! Thank you for praying. Both children are coughing now, but the medicine took care of the other problem. I've actually been sleeping well and feeling good, which is a miracle, because I would have expected to keep going downhill until the end.

Now I need to go wake two sleeping children from their naps, and get them ready for a big church holiday. . . .

Happy Zhatva everyone!

Friday, September 21, 2007

The last few days

Picking tomatoes
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

The last few days have been kind of busy. Tuesday we did have a wonderful day at our dacha! The weather was nice, and we brought in the tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, more beans, some beets, some carrots, and the last of the broccoli. Jaan and Raia were thrilled to be allowed to help. Usually we haven't let them just go wild with picking, because that's exactly what they do: pick wildly.

While we were there, we found out that my visa invitation letter had been refused again, though. So, very early Wednesday morning, instead of going back for another dacha day, Will headed off to Moscow to meet with the visa consultant we have worked with in the past. (More about that later.) Here in Kovrov, the children and I had a wonderful day, mostly outside around our apartment building. The weather was just incredibly beautiful! I had fun catching up with the neighbors, who I haven't seen much lately. We discovered that the only oak tree in our neighborhood is dropping acorns, so Jaan and Raia spent most of their time collecting and playing with them. I don't know that they had seen acorns before.

I was thrilled to have enough energy to keep up with the children all day. That night things went bad, though. Will couldn't get back from Moscow on his usual train, because of schedule changes and train wires being down somewhere. He ended up on a bus to Vladimir. I fell asleep right away here (that's a rare treat these days!), but after only an hour, Raia was up screaming. I finally figured out that her problem was one of those horrible, gross, but harmless childhood things. . . pinworms. All that dirt eating over the summer did have an effect after all. Will got to Vladimir too late to continue on to Kovrov by bus or train, but with me calling him several times, obviously upset and Raia screaming in the background, he took a taxi all the way from there. We were so glad to see him! He got everyone calmed down (Jaan was up, too, by then) and in bed by 2:00 or so.

Since then we've just been in survival mode: doing tons of laundry, resting, medicating. . . . Jaan has also come down with a terrible nighttime cough; he's happy and healthy during the day, but he "barks" all night long.

So, pray for sleep in this family! With pregnancy, worms, and coughing, poor Will seems to be the normal one in a group of insomniacs. And he's the one who handles all nighttime emergencies, so he's been up, too. We are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, though. Everyone is starting to feel better already. Today is another lovely fall day, and I'm headed outside for some fresh air with the children.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Questions of the day

"Are there monkeys in the basement?"
"What does the moon eat?"

And that was just during breakfast. What's next?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Making progress

Fun in the rain
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

I don't have any current rain photos, but I didn't post this one from June, did I?

The rainy weather continues here, but the sun came out long enough yesterday morning that the children and I went for a wonderful walk. We collected our first bouquet of fall leaves, and Raia fell in as many puddles as she could. She greeted everyone we passed by saying, "Sunshine!" and pointing to the sky. Tomorrow and Wednesday are the only days I could see on the weather forecast that don't say rain for sure. (Somehow they missed predicting the glimpse of sunshine yesterday, though.) We'll probably take advantage of the break in the rain, to go harvest and spend a day at our dacha.

We're making lots of progress at settling in here. Actually, Will is. I mostly sit around, and the children just try to hinder progress with their "help." Our landlords are expecting a baby soon after ours, so they're nesting, too, and that helps. Jaan and Raia are loving the constant stream of people in and out of here. This week we've had a plumber come twice (once for a whole day), people to take out a small refrigerator, a friend to help bring in a bigger one, someone to check the stove, landlady several times. . . . Jaan is constantly asking what "guests" will be coming next. He also asks many times a day, "Mama, has the baby come out yet?" I find it hard not to be short with him on that one. "Just look at my tummy. What do you think?" And his answer is usually, "Oh. Well, how much longer?"

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Still rainy

Maybe it's not actively raining here, but the weather has definitely stayed rainy. Yesterday we walked around in the nearby indoor market to burn off steam. Today Jaan and Raia kept busy with playdough and a long bath time. But the trees are changing colors! And the temperature is perfect!

I think Will is nesting. He got the baby clothes out this morning, and since then he's been cleaning, organizing, and moving things around all day. It sure is nice!

The preschooler
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

"This is your letter, Raia."
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Rainy days

Singing in the rain
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

I'm afraid readjusting to apartment life isn't going to be easy. Yesterday the natives were restless all day long. Still we had a good day. It just takes more energy to keep up with them here! I can't send them out by themselves to play and get dirty, like at the dacha.

In the morning, when we went out for a walk, the rain started just as we got to the door. So, we went back for umbrellas. Jaan and Raia ran around under the umbrellas, while I watched from the doorway and held the yellow leaves that they were collecting.

After naps, instead of going back outside like we usually would have (it was still raining), we did preschool-ish activities. Well, Raia and I did. Jaan mostly jumped up and down next to us. It's funny how much of a preschooler Raia is now. Certainly not a baby or toddler anymore! She is obsessed with writing her name. We can sit and fill up a whole page with me holding her hand and helping her to do that. I think she can count better than Jaan, although both of them are working on that now. And both of them can ask enough questions to make my head spin.

It's still raining here. . . .

(I can barely reach the keyboard now because the whole time I've been sitting here, Jaan and Raia have been "shopping for the baby." The go fill up bags with their toys, bring them to me, and present them one by one, explaining exactly what the baby will need them for as they do so. My lap and the desk are covered almost completely.)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A few more dacha photos

After Jaan's birthday celebration we came home. It's been getting cold enough, and we've had so much rain, that now it's more comfortable to be here at our apartment. Hopefully we'll have another warm, dry spell and get in a little more dacha time before fall is really here. The last watering day in the gardens will be next week, and the electricity will be going off soon, though. We can at least enjoy some more days out there, even if the nights are too cold, or the power is off. Back when it was still hot, Will said something about how he didn't want the summer to end. I could have hit him! Now I am reveling in the cooler weather, changing colors, and hope of seeing our baby soon, but I agree that it will be sad to see the dacha season end.

The Great Wall of Beans
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

At first I wasn't too happy with these beans, because they just grew and grew, and didn't seem inclined to give us anything. Now they're producing in great amounts! If nothing else, we'll have a freezer full of beans for the winter. I wish I had taken note of what variety they are. . . . something Tanya's sister sent from America.

Window in the bean wall
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Berry face
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Squash harvest
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Squash and beans: probably our two most successful crops this year.

New strawberry bed
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

(I thought it was funny that Susan also included something about family size in what she wrote yesterday.)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Sleeplessness and lots more

While I was not sleeping last night, I decided to write more details about how I'm doing these days. Mom always wants exact particulars, and maybe someone else will read this and have ideas or suggestions for me.

I still think it's my blood sugar that's not right. During the day, I can keep it pretty stable with a good diet and constant snacks. If I do "crash," I've learned how to get myself back up again. Nights are the problem. I have to eat at least every two hours. I usually don't even feel hungry, but if I don't eat, I can't sleep. It's like my body won't let me. When I do doze off without those snacks, I jerk awake after 15-20 minutes. And jerking awake like that is such a shock, I can't just roll over and try again. It's like my body panics: heart racing, adrenalin pumping, shaking all over. It seems to be getting worse, too. At first, I could go for longer periods of time once in a while, and when I needed to eat, any snack worked. Then it came to be that I needed protein snacks only. Nothing else helped. Now it's never more than two hours, and it seems like the only thing that really helps is two eggs and a glass of milk. But if I have to eat two eggs every two hours. . . . That will probably change soon anyway. It seems like anytime I find a food that works, it doesn't last for long. A good night is when I can sleep two hours, gulp down a snack and go right back out for another two hours, and so on. It's still not my ideal peaceful night, but I'm very thankful when I get one like that! A bad night is when I can't seem to eat enough or find the right food, and I keep jerking awake, trying different snacks, going for walks to burn off the panicky awakenings, feeling exhausted but not able to sleep. See why I need your prayers?

Happier news: now that we've had another week to work on settling in here (that's what last week was set aside for), and now that we have internet set up (that took a few days), we're headed back to our dacha! Thank you, Lord, for outdoor life and fall weather!

Computer news: For those who are interested in such things, this is the actual gadget we're using to get on the internet.

Other computer news: Our laptop is finally fixed! Will can pick it up the next time he's in Moscow. Then we'll be a really high-tech, portable family. (By the way, does Apple not know that airplanes fly to Russia? Or do they have some alternative method of shipping to Russia that they think is cool and creative? Something like hot air balloons and horseback couriers?)

Babies: We have so many old friends around the world having babies these days! I've been keeping myself going on their stories and photos. Little Ella, born early, weighing less than 2 lbs was one of the first. (If you want to read her story, email me, and I'll pass your request on to her mom, who would probably invite you to their blog. Right, Debi? Amazing answers to prayer there!) Or no, I guess Olivia Hope in Indonesia was first this year. Then there was Liz's Jasmin in Asia, Owen, Hanne's sweet little girl in Belgium, Baby Abigail in Perm, and Timothy in Siberia. Lara let us know on Sunday that she was in labor, but we haven't heard anything since then. Just yesterday I saw photos of the Goodman's brand new granddaughter. And I'm still waiting and praying with Caryn, Allie and Danielle. I think I'm probably even missing some!

"See" you later. I'm very ready to get back to our dacha.

Happy birthday to Jaan!

I'll just write about Jaan's birthday today. We can get to other things on another day.

Four years old!
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Compare with these photos.

Jaan turned four yesterday! We had a wonderful time celebrating. He had really been looking forward to his special day, and I think it fulfilled all his expectations. In the morning he got to open his special package. The joy of that was drawn out as long as possible. Because of a rainy day, he and Raia spent the rest of the morning playing indoors with the presents and making the box into art projects, which they also called presents. Then, his long-awaited guests, the Korneichuk family, arrived. We enjoyed hot dogs, hamburgers, fresh garden vegetables, and lots of fellowship and wild play time with them.

Countdown calendar
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Opening package
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Thank you to the Hunsucker grandparents!

With guests
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

The night before, while Jaan and Will were at church, Raia and I made a special dessert for the big day. Since we can't bake a cake at the dacha, we tried a rhubarb jello. Raia was my big helper every step of the way.

"Big leaf, Mama!"
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Raia had to pose with the biggest piece of rhubarb, after we came in from harvesting it in the rain. Go to our garden photos for another one of Raia with her leaf.

Kitchen helper
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

She had her own knife (a butter knife!) to help with cutting up the rhubarb. I cut up all the other pieces, while she proudly hacked away at her one stalk.

(Our fast new internet connection is not feeling very fast. No complaints: at least it's a connection! But I'm having lots of trouble getting photos to post. I tried at various times during the night, and I'll keep trying today, so check back to see if I can get any more through.)

UPDATED: The connection is still dragging, but I got my photos up.

Prizes for having babies

Dad sent us an article that made us laugh. Too bad we don't live in Ulyanovsk! They give cars and other prizes for having babies. Well, you have to have the baby on the right day and all. . . .

Really, though, the article reflects the way things are here. You probably know that Russia's population is declining and has been for a while. When people see that we're expecting our third child, after the shock (three children is a huge family here!), the comments are usually alone the lines of "Helping to solve the demographic crisis, eh?" or something about the money that we'll be getting. (Except that we won't be getting it, because we're not Russian.)

In some ways it's sad: the fear of starting a family here and materialistic reasons to have children or not. In some ways it's just weird: who in America would ever congratulate you on a pregnancy and then head right into talking about the tax break that you'll get with another child? And in some ways it's good: it does seem like we're seeing more babies and pregnant women since the government has been encouraging family growth.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Variegation Time!

After discussing home repairs in such detail on my last post, and not adding any pix to variegate the tedium, I thought it was time to make amends. Therefore, a short tour of the Hunsucker's living room. (Ooorah, OooraH!!) Yes, I know, thrilling matter indeed, but one must be thorough, not so? Notice the books stacked around. I wasn't kidding about thinking of floor to ceiling shelving!


Originally uploaded by fylliska.

The shelves. There were only the two free-standing units. Bottom
shelf is an enhanced sewing table, and the rest was crafted by your's

More polkis...

More polkis...
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

More of a frontal view. Looks better from the front, when you can see
more how they tie the free-standing units together. Ach and alas, the
room's not quite wide enough to get the ideal shot...

The Shkaf

The Shkaf
Originally uploaded by will mayakovsky

This is The Shkaf, former property of our church matriarch, Olga Grigorevna, who left her apartment to the church. For an idea of scale, it's about 6 feet high and close to 5 feet across. Truly a God send for us.
Hmmm... reminds me of the time my friend Nathan and I were getting acquainted with a russian toddler. He looks at Nathan and says 'he's a ... windowpane!!', at which his mother asks, 'well then, what is Will?' 'Him? He's a Shkaf!!' No hesitation, even. That was about 3/4 through Bible School for me, and I'd been eating well and sitting a lot. What can you say? Toddlers are just so very perceptive!

Albuming-ish Space

Albuming-ish Space
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

On the bottom we have a trunk crammed full of the landlord's dead
parent's clothes. (Notice the tasteful drapery of said trunk.) Then
comes the cabinet thingy, legs taken off and appropriately stashed
away. The boxy shelf unit on top was completely my addition... a
little rough, but as always, not bad for working with a handsaw. =)

Announcing. . . .

No, not a baby yet. Did I get anyone with that?

Announcing. . . .
We have internet! Will went and bought an expensive, fancy, new-to-Kovrov gadget--I don't even know what to call it--and we're back online. If anyone is interested in figuring out what this thing is before I have time to read about it, here's the web site. It is high speed, at least sometimes. However, we might have to see our first monthly bill, before we use it much for anything new. We're very used to measuring out internet time by the minute, but I have no idea how to count how much incoming traffic there is. Does anyone know how much 500 Mb per month is and how fast that would go? It's going to take a while for me to learn that I don't have to hurry online.

Anyway, we're back with email and blog posts!

(Yes, this time it's really Phyllis posting. . . from home!)