Sunday, November 22, 2009


The holidays are coming! For the first time ever, we're going to travel to be with extended family for Thanksgiving. Fun! (We had Will's parents and youngest sister visiting us one year at Thanksgiving, way back in 2003. This year we'll be visiting his other sister in Odessa.)  We're heading out on Wednesday, to arrive on Thursday and celebrate on Friday.  Excitement levels are very high in this home!

Advent will also be starting while we're gone, so I've been preparing for that. Advent is a time of preparation; I've been preparing to prepare.   We'll be doing a Jesse tree, using Ann Voskamp's book of readings. (I highly recommend it!)  I do think that will be more for Will and me, but the Bible stories are ageless, of course.  And I might draw from some of these devotionals, for something more at the children's level.  On the side, I'm also planning to repeat my version of Noel Piper's Advent story from what we did last year.

But back to the cards: that's what the picture above is.  Our children love cards, especially pop-up cards, so I made one for each person.  I'll be packing these cards to bring out as a surprise in Odessa. . . an invitation to start preparing to celebrate Jesus' birthday.  Ann's book starts off with an invitation; I copied out a good bit of that, and the Bible verse, and added notes to each child.  I had such fun making these invitations, savoring the words I was working with, and praying that this upcoming season really will be a time when we come face to face with "the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD."

I'm sure you'll hear more about our preparations for Jesus' birthday.  This is just a start. . . .

(By the way, I'd love to hear about what others are planning, how you prepare for and celebrate Christmas, with Christ at the center.)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Our bedroom

Way back when we first moved in here, I posted before and after pictures of our apartment.  I never got to the bedrooms in that.  Here, finally, are some "after" photos of our room.  This one below matches up with what we showed at first:

We used one of the excess shkafs as a wall to divide off a little office nook at the entrance to our bedroom. This was actually something that we did right at first; I just never posted photos of it.

And then on into our bedroom. . . .

A few weeks ago we bought ourselves a mattress.  Now it looks like we have a real bed!  And the top really is real!  Of course, we just had to plop the mattress down on top of the old couch that was already there, plus a door and some stools, but you can't see that.  And with the curtains that Will got at the second hand store, and the wonderful Kovrov picture that Anna gave us on the wall, it all actually looks coordinated!  You could even say that it looks like someone planned the colors.

Now I just have to show you the children's room.  There were some big changes in there not too long ago, as well. . . .

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

More yellow

We had a wonderful dacha day yesterday. This is my favorite photo of the few that I took while we were out there:

(Be sure to scroll down and read what I started writing on Friday.)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Children's thanks

holy experience

We've been adding to "Thanksgiving Trees" almost every night this month. (A skipped evening--too late getting home--led to cries of, "But Mama, we want to be thankful!" ) This is what the leaves say so far:

489. Gaia (Asya's blanket)
490. New (to us) clothes
491. Family
492. Gaia
493. Bunk beds
494. Snow
495. Stories
496. Gaia
498. Cartoons
499. Princess dress
500. Gaia
501. Sofia
502. Playing "dogs" together
503. The Pants
504. Glue (Asya's current second favorite thing)

505. And I'm so thankful for our children and their thankfulness!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Yellow leaves

I started to write on Friday, then ran out of time and left it to finish on Saturday. The electricity was off all day Saturday, and Sundays are usually too busy to write, so I'll just leave you with this one photo of beautiful leaves from this weekend.

Maybe I'll get Friday's post finished sometime in the next few days, so look for it to appear below this.

Happy Sunday to all!

Friday, November 13, 2009

A week in our school

Since homeschooling Jaan is keeping me from writing here as much as I used to, I thought I'd tell you about what we did this last week. I used to write during nap time. Now that's usually my time with Jaan.  We're still not doing much in the way of "real school"--it's really only about an hour a day--but we're thoroughly enjoying what we do.

So, what do we do?  In the morning we (try to) read a Bible story, alternating back and forth between Old and New Testament.  Many days that gets left until bedtime, though.  Raia and Asya listen, too.  Then we head outside.  Outdoor play is still the most important part of all of their education.

Then, in the afternoon while Raia and Asya nap, Jaan and I first look at his calendar and work on memorizing: for now we're learning Psalm 23, a poem and a hymn.  After that we do a Russian reading lesson.  His next lesson is something different every day, a break between reading lessons.  Last we do English reading.

Here's what we did each day this past week during that "something different" lesson: Monday I was sick, so we didn't have school.

Tuesday we made a page for his nature notebook page, working on handwriting (he traced the title), glueing down samples and drawing a little.

On Wednesday we worked on similar pages about birds, finishing up one and starting another.  Jaan drew the cutest woodpecker I've ever seen!

Thursday we read history: Olga in our Russian history book and Columbus in American history.  (It was really fun earlier when we were reading in one book about Leif Erickson and in the other about the Norsemen who first came into Old Rus.)  So far, history days are Jaan's favorite.

Friday Jaan worked on learning to crochet.  He made a beaded bracelet during our school time, and as soon as Raia got up later, he made her another one:

Oh, on Friday I was especially thrilled to see Jaan write a word by himself, spontaneously!  (I haven't really started teaching him to write.) Yes, he left out a letter, but I really didn't even notice that at first. I had pointed out to him the date that we'll be leaving to go on our Thanksgiving trip to see Anna, and I asked him what he wanted to draw there to mark it: "Maybe a train?" He covered up the paper and wrote "leaving"!

Also, he said something really sweet after school on Friday. We had finished, and I was sending him outside to burn off the energy that builds up while he sits at the table. He looked up and said, "Mama, you teach me so well!"

In the evenings we have bedtime stories every night now, and I definitely count that as educational.  Believe it or not, it's new since we've started school; I never could get us organized to read every night before this.  We recently finished the first Pooh book in English and Russian.  Now we're on to Beatrix Potter.

(By the way, this has nothing to do with homeschooling. . . .  Since soon after the last time I wrote, our water has mostly been on during the days.  We're so happy that the scheduled water times didn't last long at all!)

Monday, November 09, 2009

Bouquet of thanks

holy experience

Here's just one little bouquet from a day on my journey "to make my life a vase, filled with the beauty of thanksgiving."* I offer it up to the One who gave it to me, the One who created all the beauty that still surrounds us in this grey November.

In this bouquet, I'm thankful for
506. fiery maple leaves
507. purple grasses
508. yellow flowers with velvety grey leaves
509. midnight-blue berries on red stems
510. discarded peachy chrysanthemums
511. dark red grape leaves
512. cashmere sweater, a second hand store find from a husband who loves me!

*I'm quoting Ann V. there. Please go over to her blog, for beautiful words about thanksgiving and beauty.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Natural remedies

Remember what I said at the end of my last post? Part of this article made me laugh yesterday: even Yulia Tymoshenko (you know, the politician with the beautiful braids) is eating lemons, onions, and garlic!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Dneprorudnoe has water problems.  We've known that since we moved here.  Now it's really crazy: for the past few days, we've only had water for a few hours a day.  They just posted a schedule that says, "From November 3, drinking water will be turned on from 6:00 to 8:00 and from 18:00 to 20:00 every day."  That's all.  No explanation.  Sigh.

Already tonight, a neighbor girl came knocking with a handwritten letter "to the mayor," she explained.  She was collecting signatures to ask him to turn the water back on.  Will that help?

So, while the rest of the country is panicking about swine flu, here in Dneprorudnoe people are obsessing about water.  Although, I did laugh when I heard that prices have gone sky high on lemons, onions and garlic.  In America there are waiting lines for flu vaccines and such; here there's a run on the natural remedies. Of course, you can't find a mask or flu medicine either. . . .