Tuesday, July 29, 2008

We are praying

Please pray with us for Susan.

Remember, God is always good, and He always loves us.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Fun with friends

Helping Sarah

Andrei at work

The Sullivans offered to help us with a project. They got into a big one: painting the kitchen!

Friday, July 25, 2008

ABCs and 10 months old

I haven't posted a video for a while. This is Jaan, reading to Raia. It's too bad our camera won't go for more than 30 seconds with video. Jaan can't get through the whole book fast enough. I got a bunch of quick clips, but I can't tell which one is best.

Asya turned 10 months old yesterday! That seems old. At nine months, I feel like we're getting close to that first birthday; by ten months, they're just old. Her latest accomplishment is that she can climb right up to the top of the (big!) slide. She has two teeth now, and eats everything in sight. I tried to get a photo to show her teeth yesterday, but when I looked at it just now, I couldn't see anything. This photo of Raia in the archives could be Asya, except that Asya doesn't have anything on the top yet. Asya really doesn't look too much like Raia in other photos, but that one is just about identical. Since the tooth photo didn't turn out, here's another cute one from a recent village visit. She was enjoying the raspberries and apricots.

I might be posting less than usual for a little while here. Our friends, the Sullivans, just arrived from Moscow. They'll be here for two weeks, and I am going to enjoy every minute of the visit!

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Today I took the children swimming, and we caught a freshwater jellyfish! I had no idea that they even existed. Just before we were getting ready to leave, we went out into the water one last time, and I saw it. It took some juggling to get it, while holding Asya, with Raia hanging from me, but Jaan helped. It's a tiny little thing, about the size of a quarter. There's a website all about them. If you look at the videos, you can see what the centerpiece on our table at dinner looked like.

The photo is actually of a moon jelly. (I took it from here.) Our find looks exactly like a miniature version of one. I remember when I was little, one of our favorite exhibits at the Florida Aquarium was the one with the moon jellies floating around peacefully, accompanied by classical music. Now we have our own version of that. . . at least for a little while. I hope it survives until we can take it back and release it!

The website I mentioned above didn't have any sightings in Ukraine listed. Of course, I reported ours. If you see a listing added for a freshwater jellyfish found in Kakhovskoe Reservoir, you'll know it's ours.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Saturday night Jaan and I went to see the city day fireworks, and we had a wonderful time together. I had been planning to take both Jaan and Raia, but Raia didn't want to get up when I went in to wake them. It's probably a good thing, too. Somehow I had thought the show would be right here near us in the center, and it was scheduled to be at 10:00. When Jaan and I got to the center, it was empty, and I realized that the fireworks were going to be at the stadium. So, we hurried off to the stadium. I figured that we could see the fireworks as we walked down there. Well, we got there, and the concert was still going strong. We enjoyed the beautiful moon, watching people, and studying how cotton candy is made. Finally, by 11:00, Jaan actually said that he was tired and wanted to go home. We were disappointed not to have seen any fireworks, but we started home. Just as we left the stadium, the fireworks started! At first it was just like what they do every weekend at the restaurant near us: pretty, but not too big. I was enjoying watching Jaan. This was his first time seeing a fireworks show. But then they started shooting off HUGE fireworks. Jaan panicked and took off running! And, we had been standing on the edge of a ravine. He went right over the edge. It was terribly dark, so I could only see his face in the flashes of light. But, I got him back up on the road, and we enjoyed the rest of the show as we ran away. . . together.

We got home around midnight, and Jaan told Will something like, "Papa, we saw big fireworks and I fell to the bottom and sugar turned into fluff there!"

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Fun rainy day

Today we went to the church to take some summer camp invitations that I made. All three children had a great time there, watching Papa work and learning about cement. Then it started to rain. The group that is here has been playing with children at a playground near the church every day. Today, because of the rain, all the children came to the church. We were stuck there, too, so we had a great time playing games, singing, watching the skits and listening to the story that the group had prepared.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dneprorudnoe tour

We're alive and well here. Will's still working long hours at church, so I'm busier than usual, too. Plus, there just hasn't been much outstanding to write about. We're enjoying wonderful, full, summer days.

There's a good little interactive map of Dneprorudnoe online, so let me take you for a tour. . . .

This is just a picture of my screen; you'll have to go over to the link above to be able to move around and zoom in and all. The dark blue X that I added is where we live. If you click there (on the real thing), it will zoom in. Click again, and you'll be able to see building #3. This mining monument:

. . . is in the center of that roundabout at the end of our street. The building you see behind it is the one right next to ours (#1). At night, people like to race their cars and scooters, screeching around the monument, while all the partiers yell and scream. There are fireworks there at least once a week. Sigh.

Now, click on the button I labeled "Whole map." Note the red umbrella up at the top. That's where we go swimming. All the green next to us is the park, which we love. Over to the right-hand side, I added another X. That's the church. Dneprorudnoe is so small, that there isn't really any city transportation. We walk everywhere. Church is on the other side of the city, but even with the children, it only takes about 20 minutes to get there. The greyish-brown area in the south-east section of the city is the huge market. If you click there, you'll also see the other roundabout, which is the far end of the race track I mentioned above. It's also the city center, and there's a great new playground there. I hope you enjoyed zooming around Dneprorudnoe with me.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


We have a tooth! Asya does, that is. Her first tooth has just broken through, and I wouldn't be surprised if there are more right behind it. She's her usual happy self, though.

Funny update: Some of the babushki have been fussing, because Asya didn't have any teeth yet. Along the lines of their fears that I don't feed her enough, they have been worried that she's not getting enough calcium, hence the late teething. Never mind that all our babies teethe around this age; they were calcium deficient too, don't you know? Anyway, one sweet lady showed up yesterday to feed our children dairy products. They thoroughly enjoyed that, of course. Then, today at church when I showed her Asya's new tooth, she responded with, "See? I told you that she needed calcium!"

Friday, July 11, 2008

Happy birthday to Will!

Today is Will's birthday. He's working at the church all day, so we took a cake to him there.

Tonight we're going out to dinner to celebrate!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Natural gifts

As you may have noticed, many of God's gifts to me come in the world He has created. Here are a few recent ones, from yesterday at the beach:

779. The Common Kingfisher. I actually saw this beautiful bird flash by last time we went swimming, but I thought I was dreaming. Surely there aren't any birds that brightly colored outside of the tropics? Yesterday I got a good enough look to be sure of what I had seen and look it up. (Not my photo. Click to go to where I found it.)

780. The bat that flew down for a drink, right in front of us, in broad daylight! Either we awakened it with our noise, or they just get thirsty while sleeping on hot days. I was thrilled to see one so clearly. I enjoy watching them around the streetlights outside our window when I go to bed, but they're just shadowy blurs then. This was entirely different.

781. The perfectly peaceful, glassy water. The I photo posted of Jaan enjoying it yesterday really captures the beauty.

782. When the wind picked up, and little waves started, beetles floated in by the hundreds. I loved watching Jaan and Raia scurrying around to collect them. Yozh had a feast last night!

783. Last week, as we were walking down to the beach, we found a place where water was leaking. There were hundreds of white and blue butterflies puddling there. That was enough to excite us. But, in the middle of the clouds of other butterflies, there were two different kinds of swallowtails! In America I would have said Tiger Swallotail and Zebra. Here I think it was an Old World Swallowtail (left) and a Scarce Swallowtail. They stayed right next to each other, intently drinking. After a while, I got my finger wet, and picked one of them up, letting it drink on my finger. (Again, the photo is not mine. Click to go to where I found it.)

784. This one is from earlier; I had written it before we even had internet set up:
We found a field full of butterflies in the park while we were walking. When we stopped to watch them, we noticed that one of the blue ones was laying eggs. Jaan was enthralled. We took one of the eggs that we saw her lay. Then, as we crouched there, holding our breath, she came back and laid another egg on the leaves in my hand! It was just a perfect moment.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

At the beach

We've had so much fun at "the beach" already this summer. I've been taking the children swimming every week. At first, the water was beautifully clear, but there were hundreds of schoolchildren there. Now it's nice and peaceful, but the water is green.

By the way, that was with as much zoom as our camera can give.

Asya is officially climbing. Does that mean she's a toddler before she can even walk? She was fascinated with this piece of concrete and spent most of her time climbing on and off of it.

Look at the green on her!

Still climbing. I missed getting a photo of the beached whale pose. She would get onto her stomach up there, arms and legs outspread, and then grin at me.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Yozhik photos

I posted that one photo of our hedgehog, who is so creatively named Yozh, but I never got back to giving you some better pictures. Here are a few now. There was some discussion of what we should feed him in the comments back there. This first photo shows the egg addict in action:

This is from all the way back when Will first found Yozh: the children's first meeting with him, when they woke up the next morning and found their big surprise. Asya is still convinced that he's some kind of prickly kitten, and really wants to get her hands on him. (She LOVES kittens.)

Just a few mornings ago, one of my helpers dropped an egg, so we scooped it up, fried it, and then they ran off to feed it to Yozh.

Yes, I picked Asya up to let her watch, too, right after I took the photos.

The latest excitement has been discovering that Yozh does in fact eat bugs. We're now spending most of our outdoors time searching for beetles and such. Jaan took a little box to church yesterday and seriously explained to everyone that he was looking for bugs for his pet hedgehog.

Six little-known facts

According to Mrs, I'm supposed to post six things that you might not know about me. Hmm.

  1. My first experience overseas was in Papua New Guinea, not Russia. I went there when I was 16 and loved it.
  2. I can't drive. I've never had a driver's license.
  3. I have been pregnant and/or nursing for over five years straight, without a break. (Just nursing now, thank you very much!)
  4. My ideal pet is a box turtle or tortoise.
  5. I asked Will what to say (as I sat here and ate ice cream). He says to say that I'm a closet ice cream addict. I say that's a well-known fact. See #3. I have to make rich milk, right? So I eat ice cream every day. Did you already know that?
  6. I told Julie W. this a few days ago, and she thought it was weird: I find watching snails to be wonderfully relaxing. Are there any other creatures so calm and fascinating?

They like snails, too

Now, I think I'm supposed to tag someone else. This has already gone around all my blogging friends in Florida. Is there anyone in NC who wants to tell me six facts about yourself in the comments? Someone from GBC? The NC Laura? It would be fun to get to know you more.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Big yellow bird

When I told Will what we saw this morning, he asked if I meant Sesame Street. No, not quite that big of a bird, but the same color: we saw golden orioles! Click on the picture for one link and here to listen to their song. They were beautiful, and the recording is definitely what we heard. Although, they screech like jays, too, as we heard and the article says. Jaan was busy in the mulberry tree, but Raia and Asya and I followed our orioles around the park for a while. There were at least two of them--a pair--but I think there were more, too. They stayed up in the tops of the trees, so even with their bright coloring, we only got glimpses.

If you go back to my mystery tree, you'll see that the mystery is solved. It's a Catalpa. Thank you so much, JennyBeth, whoever you are.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Working hard

Will's been working at the church every evening. This is the second week of trying to finish up some projects there. The men have been working on fencing and putting in sidewalks.

And I just thought this was cute. Jaan and Raia were working intently with some special no-mess finger paints. Asya crawled over, pulled up, grabbed a crayon and joined them. Three in a row!

A few of God's gifts

We've been here for two months now, and I'm just getting around to my first gifts post from Ukraine. And this is a ridiculously small sampling of the wonderful gifts that God has given us here! Just remember that each one here stands for many, many more that aren't mentioned.

785. Butterflies! I think if they were the only beauty God had created, they would be enough to convince me that He loves me.
786. Art supplies, neatly organized
787. Two long, deep letters from friends who have given me some of my longest, deepest friendships
788. A mulberry-leaf basket, full of mulberries, brought home for Asya

789. Purple hands, faces, and even feet after a free snack in the park

790. A lady bug that calmed a long bout of fussiness
791. Fat little fingers, trying to catch that ladybug
792. The hot, tired, happy walk up from swimming
793. A lovely and easy trip to and from Zaporozhye
794. Pictures of the twins in Kovrov!!!
795. Snails “swarming” after rain
796. Holy Experience posts left in our mail, so that I can go back and reread this and more, as needed, even without an internet connection
797. The park
798. Babushki who bring flowers: if they keep up, I’ll have peonies in every room!

799. Little spots of beauty appearing as we work through chaos: the coffee corner, beginning of a nature shelf, new linoleum, and, of course, my flowers

801. The most wonderful secret hiding places for my children to play in
802. The smell of peonies (I wish there was a way to capture and keep smells!)
803. Two lastochki sitting on the clothesline in the early morning, when I went out to hang clothes
804. Clouds that look like summer in Russia
805. Asya crawling through the grass to get a dandelion
806. Three red tulips and a white iris
807. Kind strangers who give me flowers
808. White petals on the ground

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

New category

Anyone who knows me, knows that I enjoy nature almost as much as I enjoy my children. So, I'm starting a Nature Notes category to record some of our finds and observations, and to ask about some of our mysteries.

Here's one solved mystery (or almost solved): I had asked about this tree. Baba Julie suggested that it might be a locust tree. I found a picture that looks almost exactly like mine. Once I get my books, I'll see what kinds of locust trees are here, and then we should know exactly what our "soapy smelling trees" are.

Here's the next mystery tree:

They're blooming everywhere now, actually just reached the peak of their season, I think. Jaan and Raia love the long pods hanging on these trees, and we're all enjoying their beauty and fragrance.