Monday, June 29, 2009

Just one photo

I haven't had time to write anything this weekend, so I'll just give you this one photo, before we head into a busy day and then back to our dacha.

(Edited to add: Mom, here are the rest of the photos like this one, so that you can see which you like best.)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Peas and bees

(Oops. I forgot to actually publish this. It was just sitting in Drafts.)

We went up onto "the mountain" to harvest the peas that Jaan and Raia had planted all by themselves. Such fun!

And then I stepped on a bee. Ouch! We limped back down the hill. While I soaked my poor foot, they inspected the stinger that I had pulled out of it.

Dacha thanks

Giving thanks is the way through pain. It's also something that pours out during happy times. This is some of the latter! Just a few happy moments from the past week:

625. The dacha itself is one of the biggest tangible gifts that God has given us in Ukraine.
626. Five white butterflies chasing each other all over our yard
627. Three children laughing and laughing in a tank of water
628. Asya singing her happy song and dancing: "Lapy, lapy, lapy" all around
629. Summer rain, such a rarity here
630. Breaks from the heat that is already so intense
631. Outhouse! Where else can you get distracted by a hedgehog or the bright stars on your way to the toilet?
632. Plants growing like crazy
633. Salad every day
634. The smell of roses first thing in the morning

635. Getting to know neighbors:
636. . . . one family giving us gifts from their pea harvest,
637. . . . another dedushka laughing incredulously at our dirty children
638. The aforementioned dirty (and happy!) children

639. The song of the golden orioles and every little glimpse of them
640. Asya recognizing the squawk of a pheasant, "'зан, Мама!"
642. Building fires with Jaan
643. Raia mothering Asya in their little house

644. Cool evenings
645. S'mores!
646. . . . and friends to share them with!

647. Having a dacha shower set up
648. All the wild hedgehogs
649. . . . and our own little Yozh, looking so sleek and healthy that he should do hedgehog shampoo commercials
650. My little blue and yellow flowers

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Rewind #5: Stephen!

(I'm leaving these to post automatically while we're at our dacha.)

For those of you who don't know, Stephen is one of my "little brothers." No, we're not related in anyway, but our families were neighbors and very close friends for as long as I can remember. He was on a missions trip in Russia, and then he came over here to visit us.

Stephen arrived on the day of Pentecost. His train got into Zaporozhya just after noon, so I skipped out of church a little early to go meet him. We had an uneventful trip back from there, dropped his luggage off and headed right out to dinner at our friend Lena's home. From there we took him to the evening church service, and then out to our dacha to sleep. We welcomed him by making him blow up an air mattress for himself.

The next morning our first butterfly emerged from its chrysalis!  Of course, Stephen got to be in on the excitement, taking pictures and watching with us.

I really didn't take too many pictures of Stephen with our camera.  He was doing more of the photographing while he was here.  (I might get around to posting more of his photos later.  He have me permission, but I'd have to sort through them still.  He did put some up on his blog.) Here's one of the few I do have from when he was at our dacha. . . Jaan and Stephen by the fire one night:

Stephen's visit flew by way too fast.  After the Sullivans left, we had one night in our apartment, and then we left, too.  These next pictures are from that short time in our apartment.  Reading together:

And a pillow fight!

I thought it was funny that the whole time Jaan and Raia were attacking Stephen, Asya was quietly sitting with a book right next to them.  She hardly ever even looked up, and it was a WILD pillow fight.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rewind #4: Poor Yozh!

(I'm leaving these to post automatically while we're at our dacha.)

I said Stephen was next, but I forgot one little event. Our poor hedgehog scraped his nose somehow. I was afraid it would get infected because he's so dirty, so we fought him and got some antibiotic ointment on it. Can you imagine how hard it is to get something onto a hedgehog's nose? When they're angry, their spines come down over their noses. We would hold out a cookie, and he would stretch out his nose, then we'd reach out to spread the ointment, and he'd curl up again. I finally got some onto the spines over his nose, and he spread it himself when he folded them down.  And he's fine now!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rewind #3: Sullivan's visit, part 3

(I'm leaving these to post automatically while we're at our dacha. I also added a photo in down below here.)

We got to celebrate Roz's birthday a few days early with a simple little surprise.

Raia gave Aunt Roz a wilted peony that she had found.

This isn't a great photo, but it's something really cute that Asya often does. She loves to give "massages." She'll come up to someone, say, "'саж" (массаж) and then gently squeeze their shoulders for a few seconds. I say that if she'd just learn to do it for a few minutes longer, it would be heavenly!

Later, Aunt Roz bought special straws that flavor milk as a treat!

And then, sadly, they had to leave:

Next up, as I go back over recent events, is Stephen's visit!

Monday, June 22, 2009

A peaceful day

Remember our jellyfish last year?  We went swimming this morning, and there were hundreds of them!  They seemed to stay all in one area, out where the water was almost to my shoulders.  Even the very biggest ones are only about the size of an American quarter; they're little.  Asya was especially enthralled with this new kind of "baby."  When it was time to leave, I dragged her out of the water, with her protesting and trying to tell every single jellyfish goodbye.  Unfortunately, it looks like the whole web site on them that I read and linked to before is not working, but there's a Wikipedia article.

I was sorry I didn't take the camera this morning.  Last year I took our children down to the beach quite often, almost every day once it got really hot.  This year we're spending more time at our dacha than the beach, but I still wanted to get in a good bit of swimming.  I was just a little nervous about how to do it, now that I have three active little ones to keep up with.  I mean, I had three last year, but Asya wasn't very mobile, and Jaan and Raia were very cautious about the water.  All that has changed now!  However, this year is easier than ever.  Two sweet girls from church have started going with me.  They are sisters, 14 and 10 years old, who live right near us, and are ready whenever I call.  It's almost unreal how easy it is with them helping me.  This morning I spent most of my time just sitting on the blanket, watching everyone play happily, or swimming with one child at a time.  Hopefully we'll make this a Monday tradition.

Everyone is napping now, and then we're headed out to our dacha for the rest of the week.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The many faces of Raia

I still have more catch-up "rewind" posts coming up, but here's something different first.  Raia's fourth birthday was a week ago. In honor of that, I'm posting some beautiful pictures that Stephen took of her. (He is a great photographer!) We actually celebrated her birthday in Kiev, but those photos will be coming later. For now, Beautiful Blue Eyes. . . .

(All the photos here are by Stephen Icardi.)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Rewind #2: Sullivan's visit, part 2

(I'm leaving these to post automatically while we're at our dacha.)

The Sullivans also weeded our garden for me. That's one of the most impossible jobs for me to do with my helpers. They tend to pull up everything all together, so to protect the garden, I don't get around to weeding very often. I don't have a before picture, but doesn't it look beautiful after?

While they were here, we had a wonderful visit with our friend Lena and her mother.

(Raia learning about how to make manti, the Kazakstani version of pelmeni/pozi/vareniki.)

That's when Stephen arrived, but I'll write about his visit separately later.

This photo makes me laugh. Photographers at both ends of an onion:

One night the Sullivans made delicious chicken shashlik for all of us. Jaan and Uncle Tom worked hard to cook it. I didn't get any photos of that process, but here they are enjoying the last piece of meat:

And then ice cream: