Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunday Evening Post, issue 14

(Oops. The internet went out just after I finished writing this, so I can't post it right away.)

A photo from this week:

Happy birthday to Jesus!

Jaan... lost another tooth. We caught this one. It came out while brushing teeth before bed.

Raia... has really enjoyed helping with everything this week: making cookies, cleaning up, keeping Asya busy, practicing and preparing for church events.

Asya... decided that maybe she's not such a big girl after all. Even with all the practicing beforehand, when she got up in front of everyone to say her part of the poem, she couldn't do it. She just flopped down on the ground and then spent a long while recovering with her beloved Alina.

Baby... has done my back in. Ouch! I really don't have anything to complain about this pregnancy, but now my back is really aching.

Will... did a great job with the tea at church! That was just the start of the Christmas season here, so please keep praying for him.

School this week: We caught up in four days and enjoyed it; now we're done with Week 15. Friday we baked and prepared for the tea at church instead of doing school.

My books and knitting: I hardly remember reading this week. Too bad! I have kept working on my November afghan square, and I'm actually almost done with it. It is by far the hardest one yet, but it's pretty.

A quote:
To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the desert of loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude. This solitude requires not only courage but also a strong faith. As hard as it is to believe that the dry desolate desert can yield endless varieties of flowers, it is equally hard to imagine that our loneliness is hiding unknown beauty.
--Henri Nouwen
(Thanks, Julie W.!)

Weather and nature observations: Sigh. Rain and mud. I grew up without white Christmases, but I sure miss them now! The sun did come out off and on, and I enjoy that, of course. We went for a Christmas walk all together yesterday morning, and just before we came in, the sun broke through at the end of a rain shower. We were all soaked, but the sparkling wet view was worth it.

Advent this week... finished well. The photos here are from Wednesday night, when we made "Resurrection buns," which were a big highlight. Now we head into the Christmas season, celebrating Jesus' birthday as much as we can.

Other news, ministry, notes and miscellaneous from the week: I'll try to do a separate post about the Christmas Eve tea at church, our wonderful family Christmas day, other events and plans.

On this date in. . . 2005: I wrote about how the holiday schedule works out in our family and church life. It's still quite similar now.

holy experience

Just a few things I'm thankful for...
  • Christ's birth!
  • fun in Sunday school
  • Asya, making Christmas cookies and giggling with joy over each one
  • our silly cat, sneaking sugar out of a jar with his paw; he looked like Winnie the Pooh, dipping into his honey jar
  • Christmas carols, especially the traditional Ukrainian carols
  • spots of sunshine on Christmas day
  • new (to us) birds and pheasants in the park during our Christmas walk
My question for you: How was your Christmas? Will you celebrate again with us on January 7th?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday Evening Post, issue 13

A photo from this week:

Jaan... is beginning to entertain himself with reading, really reading. I was sick and canceled school one day, so he read instead. Also, he's going to be reading part of the Christmas story at church next week.

Raia... went out sledding one morning, by herself, before the rest of us were ready. Somehow she sledded into a concrete light post, so she's had some pretty fancy bruises on her cheek most of this week. I thought it looked like someone tried to draw a Russian flag on her face at first, but now it's faded.

Asya... is working on learning her first poem for church. At one of the Christmas services she'll say the beginning of it, then Raia and Jaan will recite the rest.

Baby... has a friend in Asya. She often wants me to turn or bend down so that she can talk to the baby. This morning, she climbed up onto the bench next to me at church, and said, "I want to sit by you, so that I can put my head on the pillow," and she patted my tummy to show what pillow she meant.

Will... is feeling the pressure of needing to plan and do everything for the Christmas season. We're going to have about three weeks straight of special events. Please be praying!

School this week: Hmm. I think this is the first time we haven't gotten through a week in the week I had planned for it. We'll be catching up a little next week.

My books: I noted down the suggestions you gave me last week (they look good!)....and then I started a Terry Pratchett book.

...and knitting: I started the November afghan square, and not just once. I've undone it and restarted three more times now! It's really hard to figure out the pattern and stay on track with this one.

Weather and nature observations: The snow lasted--and was beautiful!--until yesterday. Then the rain started. Now we have high wind, rain, and the sound of ice crashing down from the roofs. We put up bird feeders this week, but we haven't had many visitors yet. (Asya told me, "We're not waiting for visitors, Mama, we're waiting for BIRDS to come.")

Advent this week... was definitely full of joy! I didn't think of it when I was planning, but with reading about the life of Christ in order and having Joy be our third week, stories of His Passion come in Joy week. In a way, it's a strange combination, but in another way, it makes sense. "By His stripes, we are healed," and so we rejoice! Now we'll be thinking about PEACE: John 14:27.

Other news, ministry, notes and miscellaneous from the week: Jaan's piano teacher is in the hospital, so we have a little break from some lessons. Other than that...?

On this date in. . . 2006: interesting, I was talking about rain and snow then, too.

holy experience

Just a few things I'm thankful for...
  • the JOY of Advent
  • children showing mercy after justice is served
  • lots of quiet this week
  • Will working hard to protect that quiet time!
  • the flamingo that Asya saw while she was in Africa
My question for you: Can you describe your life right now in one word? (Thanks for another question idea, Mom!)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

We love snow!

Snow is much more of a commodity here than it was in Russia, so we enjoy it all the more! Will took them sledding today, so I have a chance to post photos from when it was my turn yesterday.

Headed up the hill

And starting down

Oops! They lost Raia!

...but she caught up.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday Evening Post, issue 12

A photo from this week:

American fish crackers!
("One of the best parts of Advent")

Jaan... apparently didn't know what a rehearsal is? He thought he had a choir concert yesterday morning. I got the girls ready and we went to the music school together, just to find out that the concert will be on the 24th. Jaan was only supposed to be there for a rehearsal!

Raia... had a big adventure this week. We had noticed a small lump on the underside of her chin. When we showed it to a doctor we know, he said that he wanted a surgeon friend of his to look at it. So, Friday, he took Raia (and Will) to the regional children's hospital in Zaporozhye. The surgeon decided that it was nothing to be concerned about, so Raia just had a big day in the city with Papa and her first ever McDonald's Happy Meal.

Asya... is the one "reading" the Advent poem for us every night now. So cute!

Baby... wants to have me on a newborn's schedule. A nap every few hours sounds great to me these days.

Will... is starting to work on Christmas preparations. (Remember Christmas is later here.) He's also finding the Wednesday night Bible study that he leads to be a real challenge. Instead of just the church youth like it used to be, it's now all ages, quite a few unsaved people, and a few rowdy children thrown in for good measure.

School this week: After a week off and then exams, we're now back to our usual schedule. It felt good to be back in the saddle.

My books: Well, I finished reading about the dolphins in space. Any suggestions of what should be next? Preferably available as a free ebook?

...and knitting: Here's the hat I mentioned last week. Since I finished it, I've just been working on other little things and ongoing projects, trying to hold off from starting right into baby pants.

Weather and nature observations: SNOW! Now it looks like winter out there. We love it!

Advent this week... has been somewhat, um, interesting. I'm really enjoying it. The girls are really soaking everything up. Will hasn't been able to be involved much. And then there was Jaan.... I couldn't figure out what to do with him. He couldn't seem to focus at all on what's important, and every evening was overshadowed by him fussing about something. After lots of praying for him, I decided that he wouldn't be involved in the treasure hunt anymore. He's now my helper. And it's wonderful to see him growing into that! The theme for the upcoming week is JOY: Luke 2:10.

Other news, ministry, notes and miscellaneous from the week: I can't think of anything more than what I've already written.

On this date in. . . 2005: Jaan was so little!

holy experience

Just a few things I'm thankful for...
  • a great first experience with doctors and hospitals for Raia
  • turkey
  • snow covering everything
  • ...and it looks like it will last for a while!
  • a son showing maturity
  • a big sister helping a littler one
  • the littler one taking everything in as if for the first time
My question for you: I asked above, what should I read next?

Monday, December 06, 2010

Look and listen archive

I'm archiving here what we looked at and listened to during Term 1. The current selections will be up on the Look and listen with us page. -->

Term 1
Artist: Albrecht Durer
Composer: Ludwig von Beethoven
Folk songs: Waltzing Matilda, Ай чу-чу (Russian), and Вийди, вийди, сонечко (Ukrainian)

The folk songs are the same throughout the term:

Hymns change monthly. Here are September's:
  • I Am Resolved (video and words, music to buy)
  • Любит лишь Христос безмерно (words, music downloaded from here)


Russian words


Russian words and video

And we'll spend two weeks on each piece of art and classical music.

Weeks 1-2


Weeks 3-4

Weeks 5-6

Weeks 7-8

Weeks 9-10

Weeks 11-12


*I changed these pictures for our family, and I've obviously chosen the Russian and Ukrainian songs on my own.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Sunday Evening Post, issue 11

A photo from this week:

Lighting the Advent candle

Jaan... wrote his first essay, all by himself. That sounds pretty impressive, and it was fun to watch, but the results weren't much. He was supposed to record an oral answer, but our webcam stopped working, so he asked me if he could type an answer. And he did! Four lines about Shakespeare.

Raia... is the one who's really memorizing the Advent verses and readings. Jaan's been doing some of the reading for us, but Raia actually knows what to say without looking.

Asya... spends all her free time pushing around a plastic tub of stuffed animals, her "babies" in their "stroller."

Baby... is waking me up at night with wild kicking and partying. We think this one will be our calmest child, because in our family the ones who move the most before they're born seem to be calmer after birth, and vice versa.

Will... made a trip to visit a friend, the homeless man who he took to a shelter in Zaporozhye a while ago.

School this week: The was our first "Exam Week." I think it went well, and we really enjoyed it. Jaan got to choose something to do (craft, baking, etc) every day after we were done with his questions, and Raia joined us for that part each day. Other than that, she had a week off from school.

My books: Since I finished my big, serious book, Will gave me something else, science fiction about spacefaring dolphins. Hmm. At least it's different.

...and knitting: My cutest knitting project ever! I also finished a matching hat, but I'll have to show you that later.

Weather and nature observations: We did get our first little bit of snow. It all melted after a few days, though, and now we have rain, fog and mud. One evening we went for a walk in the fog. That was a treat!

Advent this week: It hasn't been perfect. I think we've had tears over something or another every evening, but it has been wonderful. We're treasuring Jesus and His words in a quiet candlelit time each night and preparing to celebrate His birth. Last week we focused on Hope, this week we're moving on to LOVE: 1 John 4:10.

Other news, ministry, notes and miscellaneous from the week: Maybe it isn't nice to talk about this, but--we had our kitty neutered this week. That didn't go very smoothly, and it seemed like we spent several days just focused on taking care of him afterwards. He's okay now, though.

On this date in. . . 2006: Advent, plus some.

holy experience

Just a few things I'm thankful for...
  • first snow
  • Asya telling Papa about Advent each night
  • Jesus!
  • rays of light from the street lamps, coming through the fog
  • a new school term, ready to start tomorrow
My question for you: Do you enjoy foggy days? (I enjoy the quiet that seems to come with them.)

Friday, December 03, 2010

A glimpse of Advent joy

"Here's a smile! A smile usually expresses happiness. Jesus gave us many instructions to keep us happy."
--preschool Advent list

Иисус начал говорить людям о Царстве Божием. Он возвещал Радостную Весть о том, что спасение от зла близко. Что теперь все могут стать Божиими детьми. Что Бог любит каждого человека.
--Свет Миру, Александр Мень

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Advent 2010

Before you read anything here, please go read this classic post by Ann Voskamp. (I'm so excited that she's giving out a new Advent book! Next year....)

There. Now that you're in the right mood, I'll tell about my plans (plans! not necessarily reality) for this year.

Year by year we alternate back and forth between a Jesse Tree--Jesus throughout the whole Bible--or the life of Christ. This year is Jesus' life on earth. In the past, I've used a preschool list (scroll down there), that seems just perfect for the amazing 2-3 age, and I am looking forward to seeing how Asya responds to that this year. However, I was also wanting to raise the level a little for the older members of our family. So, I'm combining the treasure hunt list with reading a book by Aleksandr Men' about the Light of the World.* It doesn't correlate perfectly, and I'm still in the process of working it out, but it will come together. That will be every night of our Advent season.

For each week, we'll be lighting a new candle on a traditional Advent wreath, reading a poem and a verse, and singing. The theme for the first week is Hope, and our verse is Romans 15:12. Of course, we'll light the candle(s) every night, even though we only add a new one every Sunday. We like candles! Here's the poem we're reading:
Адвент наступает,
радость близка,
вот светит первая свеча,
пророк возвещает
людям в миру:
«Путь приготовьте Господу».
Радуйтесь, люди,
воспойте все —
Богу честь на земле!

Адвент наступает,
радость близка,
вот светит нам вторая свеча,
прощайте друг друга —
это любовь,
Так завещал Бог Саваоф.
Радуйтесь, люди,
воспойте все —
Богу честь на земле!

Адвент наступает,
радость близка,
вот светит третья нам свеча,
исполнитесь все
святой добротой,
чтоб обновился лик земной.
Радуйтесь, люди,
воспойте все —
Богу честь на земле!

Адвент наступает,
радость близка,
светит свеча четвёртая,
придет, не замедлит,
Сам Господь Бог,
о человек, прими Его.
Радуйтесь, люди,
воспойте все —
Богу честь на земле!
(I found it on a Catholic site last year, and I think it's actually a hymn.)

For the other weeks, we'll have themes of Love (1 John 4:10), Joy (still need to choose verse), and Peace (John 14:27). Does anyone know of a child-friendly Advent poem in English?

And, of course, we'll be getting a present for Jesus!

Also, here are links to our previous Advents:
I really enjoyed looking through them, and I hope to add labels soon for the years before those, too.

(*I almost hate to post this, because the actual book is so beautiful, but if you want to read along with us--in Russian--here is just the text. I'll just say it again, you're really missing out if you don't have the beautiful illustrations.)