Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving faces

I had a few more Thanksgiving photos:

Just lovely, eh?

The big ones are people-eating giants


Trying mashed potatoes
He really, really enjoyed that little taste. Right at eight months (when we were in Kiev) his first two teeth came in. Also about that time, he started saying his first word: "nyam" (yum). He uses it often, with all different intonations and volumes. A quiet, happy, little "nyam-nyam-nyam" as he gnaws on an apple, "NYAM" at full volume with an angry red face when he sees someone else eating, conversational "nyam" when he takes a break in nursing. I think he's going to like real food!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

We celebrated Thanksgiving last night with the youth from church. I had no idea how many people would come, because most had been out of town for the week. We ended up with 13 guests, though. We did a very simple version of a traditional American Thanksgiving meal: Jaan made cranberry sauce, Raia made pumpkin pie, and I did turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy.

Preparations, with Vera and Alina

We didn't start buying supplies in advance, because we really weren't planning ahead. However, the closest grocery store has had turkey breasts constantly for about a year now. (Before that, turkey was really hard to find.) When Will went out the day before our celebration, there wasn't any turkey. Uh-oh. Saturday morning, he found a whole turkey at the market, though. He didn't think it would fit into our oven. We've always had small ovens, compared to American size. This one is the smallest yet. My American baking pan won't even fit into this one, and it did in all our other apartments. Anyway, I was able to jam the turkey down into a pan, once I had greased it well. You know how the tops of muffins hang over? This was like a turkey muffin in that sense. But it fit! And it tasted wonderful.

Around the table

The children's "table"

We have so much to be thankful for!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Advent already?

One of my favorite times of year is almost here! (My real favorite is when we celebrate the Resurrection, but that's why He was born, right? ) The first Sunday of Advent is next week. Somehow it surprised me this year, even when my Grandma had already sent us a beautiful Advent calendar that I can't wait to show to everyone.

Lighting Advent candles last year

So, I just went back and read my plans from last year and Ann Voskamp's post that I had linked to from there. Amazingly, Asya still remembers the little poem we read with our Advent wreath last year. Actually, almost every school morning, when Jaan and Raia repeat their memory work, she wants to say "Радуйтесь, люди." That will have to be part of this year, too. I went back to the same page where I had found that one last year, and I got another one for this year, too. And then I adapted it. Asya can say the old one this year, while Jaan and Raia learn a new one. Our new Advent poem:
Иисус наш Искупитель, Христос Царь и Спаситель,
приди, приди,
и надеждой зажги сердце моё,
приди, приди,
и надеждой зажги сердце моё.

Иисус наш Искупитель, Христос Царь и Спаситель,
приди, приди,
и любовью зажги сердце моё,
приди, приди,
и любовью зажги сердце моё.

Иисус наш Искупитель, Христос Царь и Спаситель,
приди, приди,
и радостью зажги сердце моё,
приди, приди,
и радостью зажги сердце моё.

Иисус наш Искупитель, Христос Царь и Спаситель,
приди, приди,
и твоим миром зажги сердце моё,
приди, приди,
и твоим миром зажги сердце моё.
That's the weekly plan.

Daily we'll be using Ann Voskamp's Jesse Tree book. I like the little "assigments" that she's added to each day now. At this point we'll still only read and discuss the Bible story, and not get into her additional devotional thoughts. Last time we did this, each night our children colored and decorated little pictures to hang on posters. I think I'll ask them if they want to do that again, or if they would like me to print out a coloring book for each of them? Or both? The girls are obsessed with coloring these days, so they might be very happy with the latter option. For coloring pages, there are the same little symbols we used before, or these that I like better (but need to see how they match up with the stories we have), or the many coloring pages here to choose from.

Sweet, little Asya's 2009 Jesse Tree poster

This week I need to choose hope, love, joy and peace Bible verses, then print out whatever we'll be coloring each night, and maybe choose a song to learn. And then I'll be ready!

Do you have Advent plans this year?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Kiev, part 2: Pecherskaya Lavra

Don't know why they were on the ground

A little angel, flying by a church cupola?

Right outside the monastery

With the tour guide, just before going down in the caves
No pictures allowed in the caves, which were the main attraction for our children. I wish I could have gotten a few of their faces, lit by candlelight, while they listened and explored, and when they finally saw Ilya Murometz. Will carried Bogdan all through the whole tour, and even Bogdan seemed interested. He was exhausted, but he took everything in with very wide eyes and never did fall asleep. Note the bright red fringe on the coat in the photo above. Raia managed to catch that on fire with her little candle. Oops.

It was beautiful above ground!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Kiev, part 1

Honestly, the train trip to Kiev was the worst we've ever had. Even with that rough start, the rest of the trip was good, though. We left Zaporozhya later than we have before, and so everyone was already way past bedtime and just couldn't seem to settle down. Plus, the usual heat, which makes it hard to sleep anyway. Miserable. However, we survived and arrived bright and early for an absolutely beautiful morning in Kiev. We had lots of time to kill before we could go to the apartment we had reserved, so we went to Independence Square.

More of Independence Square
Jaan was full of energy, and he ran around posing for photos. The rest of us just enjoyed the morning a little more quietly. We eventually stopped at a coffee shop (!) for a light lunch. Then we made our way over to the apartment.

Outside the apartment
This series of photos was really funny, because the girls were so out of sorts while we were waiting to get into the apartment. I chose the one that looks the most normal.

Bogdan's sleeping arrangments

His favorite part of Kiev: watching cars!

Sunday we didn't even go to a church. We just rested and went for short walks. Our appointments at the embassy were for Monday morning....

Raia's and Asya's pictures of Monday
No cameras allowed at the embassy, of course. I'll rely on the girls' drawings to show Monday. The time at the embassy was uneventful, but it took pretty much all morning. Note the American flag in Raia's picture. That represents the morning. The American flag in her picture is surrounded by red flags; that's the next event in our day. We decided to walk around in the center. When we came up out of the Metro, we saw more police than I had ever seen before in one place. That's when we remembered what the date was: November 7th! The anniversary of the October Revolution. The communists were having a meeting on the square (and there were more police than communists!). We walked through there, discussed it up one side and down the other, and then had a very nice lunch at a pizza restaurant.

Asya's picture is of a hand covered in blood. After lunch, after more walking around, we started back toward the apartment. At some point Asya calmly told me that there was something red all over her hand. Yes, "something red." Dripping off her fingers, staining her coat, running down on to the ground.... Somehow she had gotten a tiny cut on her thumb, and it was bleeding all over. There was a pharmacy right there, so Will took her in, got wipes and bandaids, and cleaned her up. No big deal, really, but it made a big impression on her, of course.

Jaan actually drew pictures, too. That's a real rarity for him. His drawing was of a Metro train, with great detail. He surprised himself that he could draw something and enjoy it.

The next day we went to Pecherskaya Lavra (Caves Monastery), and that's the one place we did take lots of photos. Coming soon...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Back from Kiev

Jaan with the founders of Kiev

We had a nice trip, got passports, and saw some of the sites of Kiev. Now we're exhausted! We actually didn't take very many photos. Big city bustle is just too much with four little children. Adding a camera in was pretty much beyond us. I'll try to post the few pictures that we did get, along with some stories over the next few days....

Friday, November 04, 2011

Great excitement

Everyone is very excited. We're leaving this evening for a week or so in Kiev. Bogdan and Raia need passports (and citizenship for Bogdan), and since the documents should be ready in about a week, we're going to stay the whole time. Jaan, Raia and Asya are planning to "see Ilya Murometz" at Pecherskaya Lavra and looking forward to eating at Puzata Hata.

Please pray for an easy trip, quick document processing, and a restful time away from all of us. Oh, especially pray for us tonight on the train. We ended up with tickets for the one train that leaves later. The older children will be happy to stay up, but Bogdan really likes his 8:00 bedtime, and he is probably not going to be glad to wait longer than that to settle down for the night.

I don't know exactly when we'll be back. Passport processing takes 5-7 business days. We'll apply on Monday, and then get return tickets when we have the passports.