Monday, April 28, 2008

If You Give a Child a Worksheet

. . . or One Morning in Florida.

If you give a child an alphabet worksheet to color, he'll want a clipboard to go with it.

When he sees the clipboard, he'll want to take it outside.

Once he gets outside and has his baby sister settled near him, he'll notice that the neighbor's sprinklers are on. Of course, he has to get his head wet!

When he head is thoroughly soaked, he'll remember that the scooter is dirty. After washing the scooter, he'll see that riding it back and forth makes trails like the letter X. He'll write in the road for a while.

Sister gets all wet, too, and when she realizes that her towel looks "just like" the bride's dress from Saturday, they have to play wedding for a few minutes.

Then, the neighbor will come out, so the child takes her dog for a walk, while the neighbor holds the baby.

When he comes back from his walk, everyone will discover that a bird is building a nest in the oak. It's a Great Crested Flycatcher, which is new to all of us, so we have to read about it.

Seeing the bird bringing sticks makes the child want to play with one of his own. He finds a really big one, and since it has a nail poking out of it, Baba brings a hammer.

They work with the hammer for a long time, without success, and then switch to a screwdriver. Once they finally make progress there, the muddy clothes from the sprinklers are washed. Since the all-important pants were in there, and they have to be dry by naptime, Baba and the bride take the laundry to a friend's dryer.

The friend is the mother of Saturday's bride, so she donates a real veil! Now the wedding play moves to the backyard, where the child sees a butterfly.

That reminds him to check on his caterpillar. When you all run through the house to do that, you see that it's 10:00, so you put the baby down for a nap, and grab a snack. While the children are eating the snack, Baba gives them a bucket, and asks them to pick the rest of the little grapefruit for juice.

At this point, the camera battery runs out, but you keep going. As you supervise the grapefruit picking, you see that the kumquat tree is in desperate need of water, so you turn the water on for it.

That leads to more water and dirt play. When Grandda invites the children to run an errand with him, you quickly change their clothes and shoes and send them off.

By the time they get back, you're ready for lunch. As you bring them in, you hear, "But Mama, I wanted to color my letters!"

And all that is a very good representation of what a typical preschool morning is like in our family!

Easter again!

It's Easter in Russia and Ukraine and other Orthodox countries today. I'll give you a little more Easter music.

Music is from here.
This is probably my very favorite.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Jenna's wedding

We had a great time at the wedding today. Just a few photos. . .

The beautiful bride

Queen Raia and her slave (Uncle Matthew) fanning her

Asya enjoyed some more time with Uncle Michael

Jaan helped the band play

Thursday, April 24, 2008

We're off to Florida!

And Asya is seven months old!

The ongoing list

809. Gifts being recognized by my children:
"Mama, I'm so glad we found a crayfish today. I really wanted to."
"Well, had you told God that?"
"Yes! So that means he gave us this one, especially for me!"

810. A skink stuck between the steps to our deck, which meant that I saw a wildly squirming, bright blue tail and pair of legs as I approached (it slipped through soon after)
811. Asya looks like a cherub in a Renaissance painting; I love this one, that I just discovered!
812. A chance to wash muddy little feet
813. Dogwood at night
814. Randomly reading blogs (a rare thing for me) and happening across an old friend! I thought she sounded familiar, and then I realized that I knew her.
815. VISAS HERE EARLY! Grace to trust and wait is also a gift, but this was a special gift just for me. It's so nice not to be fighting off worry this time.
816. Lightning bugs and the look of wonder on a four-year-old's face when he sees them for the first time
817. Going on a family night walk to look for rabbits
819. Asya's commentary as we walk
820. The evening light, in between little rain showers
821. Rocking chairs, recliners, gliders: American luxuries that I hadn't enjoyed with a baby of mine before
822. Peanut butter and chocolate candies, peanut better and chocolate cookies, peanut butter and chocolate ice cream
823. The luxury of a washer AND dryer
824. All kinds of special foods delivered to "Dad's Country Store," free for us
825. Bluets (I just discovered that they're called)
826. A yellow-throated warbler, singing and putting on a show just off our deck

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I'm so spoiled!

827. This morning Jaan found a Luna moth down by the creek! It was perfectly fresh, and still soft from having just come out of its cocoon. We carried it halfway up to the house, and then had Will come down to see and photograph it. It wasn't ready to fly yet, so we put in a a box, and it's still resting right here by me. It will probably fly off tonight. After all the excitement, we headed back down to the creek. We were talking about our special gift from God. Jaan said, "Maybe God will give us another one." I told him that I had only seen a few in my whole life, but you never know. Jaan and Raia got back into their mud hole. I sat back down, and I did look over at where the moth had been. I saw. . . no, it couldn't be! Surely, it was just a leaf. But I walked over to check, and yes, there was a second one, in exactly the same place! More excitement, more pictures, more praise. . . .

(Feel free to comment. This gift is too special not to talk about.)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Language update

We've been in the USA for almost two and a half months now. People have asked how Jaan and Raia are doing with language since we first arrived. I thought I'd update again now. Jaan's pretty much fluent in English. (Oh, how nice it would be to learn so fast!) He still tends to mix up word order a little bit: "I with you go" and such. Also, if he doesn't know a word, sometimes he'll just try saying the Russian equivalent, with an American accent and see if people understand: riding his bike and saying that he'll step on his "tormozes" to stop. Raia is also starting to mix English words in with her Russian, and I've heard a few--broken--English sentences out of her. Still, she'd much rather speak Russian, and doesn't seem to notice that not many people understand her. She's also very shy about trying English. I did hear her kneading Playdough and talking to herself in English recently: "Yak dis. Yak dat. Poosh!" Oh, but was that getting ready for Ukrainian? She'll also practice on Asya, whispering things like "Come here, Baby," but getting all embarrassed if we notice.

Also, this doesn't have to do with speaking English, but I've noticed that both Jaan and Raia are getting much better with telling stories in sequence and referring to times. It used to be that everything in the past happened "yesterday," and they'd tell it all jumbled up. Now there's a lot more of "when we were still in Russia" or "last week." Saturday they went with Will to Charlotte for Pop's (their great-grandfather's) birthday party. On the way there, they had a big adventure. Will stopped to help a turtle across the road, and it turned out to be a huge snapping turtle! Both of them gave me very coherent retellings of the whole story. They also told me that after that adventure, "a light came on in the car that meant something was not right, so Papa stopped again and fed the car some oil. After the car ate the oil, it felt better, and we went on."

Saturday, April 19, 2008

News, news, wonderful news!

OUR VISAS CAME! Will's Mom just called from Charlotte to say that the visas are there! Praise the Lord!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Today's find

We are really, really enjoying the spring weather. . . and the creek! Our days usually include morning time at the creek. Then, we come up for lunch. The children shed their wet, muddy clothes at the door. By the time lunch and naps are over, the clothes are dry and ready for another dip. Sometimes Asya goes with us and sleeps along the way. The morning she fell asleep before we left. She didn't miss out too much, though, because we brought our best find back for her and Will to see.

We moved it to the light from the skylight to get a better photo. That worked fine for an individual shot of the crayfish. All the pictures of us observing it just look like we're staring into a bright light. That is, all except this one:

(In case you hadn't noticed our prayer requests and the countdown over to the side here: we bought tickets! Please pray that our visas will get here before May 1!)

Another gift

828. This whole day seemed like a special gift. Every day is a gift, but this one seemed extra special. To start with, it was just beautiful. When we went down to the creek this morning, we saw goldfinches. Then, I saw a tiger swallowtail laying eggs on the lowest branch of a tulip poplar. I couldn't believe it! Their lowest branches are usually almost too high to see, but this one was almost within reach. I sent the children off to ask Will to help us get the eggs. As soon as they walked off, Asya and I saw a possum ambling towards us! She got excited, like when she sees a cat or dog, so it noticed us and stopped. It was already so close, though! Then it turned and slowly walked off. When Will, Jaan and Raia got there, we followed where the possum had gone, and found a deep den. And that was just the morning. . . .
(Not my photo; click on it to go to where it came from.)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Field trip

This first one isn't from the field trip. I just posed the children before church.

After church we went on a field trip to see bees!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Tickets, tickets, tickets

I actually had some kind of vague dream about plane tickets last night.

The good, fun, happy news is that the children and I have tickets to go to Jenna's wedding in Florida the last week of April! We heard about an airline that has really cheap, direct flights Greensboro-Sanford, so we're going! We'll leave Will behind to a few quiet days of actually getting something done.

The complicated, frustrating, but also good news is that we're working on tickets to Ukraine. Want to hear why I was seeing tickets in my sleep last night? Keep reading. Here are the options that we're looking at now:
  • Really cheap tickets to Kiev on May 1 or 5, with a Christian travel agency. That leaves us in Kiev, though, which is still an overnight train trip from where we want to end up.
  • That agency could also get us tickets to the international airport that is closest to the Sobies (our friends of friends, who are going to help us), but they're more expensive and involve an overnight in Vienna.
  • Really expensive tickets, bought online, going to that international airport.
  • The first tickets I mentioned, plus buying the last leg on our own through a Ukrainian travel agency, having those tickets delivered to Pasha's cousin in Kiev, and asking him to bring them to us at the airport in Kiev. That would actually land us in Zaporozhya (there's a domestic airport there), if it works!
Okay, maybe that doesn't sound too bad, reading it. Still, add to it that we can only guess when our visas will be ready, but we want Will to be able to get to and from Russia with our belongings before May 10. So, we don't want to be too cautious and push the date back, but we also don't want to jump ahead and get tickets for before we have visas. (If we went with the tickets for May 5th, we would get to Kiev on the 6th, Zaporozhya on the 7th, and then Will would still have to find a van and driver, and do all the traveling, before his Russian visas runs out on the 10th!) It's really not bothering me, which is an answer to prayer, but I do kind of feel like my head is spinning from all the complications and options. It's a completely unstressful kind of spinning, though.

I wrote a prayer request yesterday asking that we'd be able to get good travel dates. Please pray for all these details!


The only way a servant can remain true to God is to be ready for the Lord's surprise visits. This readiness will not be brought about by service, but through intense spiritual reality, expecting Jesus Christ at every turn. This sense of expectation will give our life the attitude of childlike wonder He wants it to have.
-Oswald Chambers

(Thanks, Elizabeth!)
This list is all about those "surprise visits."

829. Delicate bouquets of spring wildflowers
830. The color green
831. A husband who pulls over on the side of the road to get wisteria for me

832. Happy, healthy children, playing together well
833. Baby asleep in my arms; she already doesn't do that so often anymore
834. Pussy willows (and the kind heart that thought of calling around to different florists to find them for me)
835. Thunderstorm! "The heavens display the glory of God. . ."
836. Pink shirts with butterflies for both Raia and me
837. Quiet house during naptime
838. Redbuds

839. White star-flowers, carpeting the ground down by the creek (I just found out they're called spring beauties; how appropriate!)
840. Our nests: bluebirds out front, Carolina wrens in the back, chickadees in the bird house

Bluebird eggs

839. The daily rounds to check the nests
840. Little boy with muddy bottom, sneakers full of water, happy face

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

More Barmalei

I wrote about Barmalei before. Yesterday Jaan was eating crackers. He told me that he was a crocodile, "and this cracker is Barmalei. Then, when I throw him back up, it will be just like in the story!"

He's not throwing up today, though. Hurrah!

Will said that this photo should be labeled, "How Jaan deals with Rotavirus. . ."

He disorients it!
This photo was taken just after he had been sick. His bucket is right behind him. But he really wanted to stand on his head!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


This gift gets its own post, too.
841. Last Sunday evening on our way home from church, we were almost all the way here. I was wishing that we could see some wildlife. Twilight, out in the middle of nowhere. . . . Just as I said out loud, "It sure would be nice to see some deer," we came around a curve, and there, in the greenest field I'd seen, there were about 20! A bunch ran off, but several stood there long enough for us to slow down and get a good look. Jaan's still talking about it. So am I (obviously). Will said that it was just in case I was wondering about whether or not God loves me.

Monday, April 07, 2008

A new week

Abby's on her way back to Wyoming today. Her visit flew by, but it sure was nice to see her. Thanks for the photo, Baba Julie!

We're working on visas now. We got our photos printed yesterday, while we were in Charlotte. (I thought about showing you, but then I decided cute and flattering pictures are much better than mug shots.) The phone call that our invitations are ready came through this morning. (I'm afraid it might take me a little while to get used to that Ukrainian-accented Russian!) We have applications printed out. (Thanks again to Baba Julie.) Will called and set up the DHL pickup and delivery for our invitations, so now we just wait for them to arrive. (Was that too many parenthetical comments?)

Jaan is still sick, so please pray for him and for quick progress on our visas!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Enjoying Abby

Will's sister Abby is here from Wyoming to visit with us! We're all greatly enjoying our time together. This morning, when Abby got into the shower, Raia said, "Mama, we're really dirty." And Jaan started echoing. I couldn't figure out what was going on, but then they got to the point: "We need to go to Aunt Abby!" Needless to say, I made them wait.

Yesterday, they talked Abby into blowing bubbles for them. Jaan took her outside, and then came back in for the flyswatter. Of course, Abby had to ask what it was for. She soon found out! (No, not to hit her; Jaan likes to swat bubbles! ) I have another really sweet photo of Abby and Raia blowing bubbles together, but this one was just so funny that I decided to share it instead:

I'm almost afraid to say this: it seems that the sickness is past. (Please, Lord!) Jaan and Raia both ate good breakfasts this morning, and they made it all through yesterday without any problems. Thank you so much to everyone who was praying for us, and to God who healed us.