Friday, April 17, 2015

Quick garden update

I won't go on so long this time, but I just had to update and say that I think the asparagus we planted from seeds last year is coming back! The little sprouts are so tiny that we were actually out there inspecting them with a magnifying glass yesterday morning and still aren't quite sure, but it really might be. I was thinking I would have to roast some ducks, too, because they got some of the big fat sprouts off the special asparagus roots that I ordered and planted, but as of today all three of those root crowns have big, fat shoots on them again or still. And we also have radishes and spinach coming up.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Happy Easter!

Easter was almost a week ago here, and almost two weeks ago elsewhere, but the Easter season continues....

Christ is Risen!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sad and happy

Last week one of the boys called from the orphanage and told me that two of his friends, boys who I have worked with very closely, had been transferred. And they were transferred, not to the closer, nicer nursing home, but to the far away mental institution where Sergei and Slava are.

Kirill and Sasha enjoying craft time a few months ago
We had actually talked in general about their transfer the Saturday before. I knew they were dreading it, but the staff had been holding on to them for some extra time, and I thought they would be able to do that longer. I also thought that at least Kirill would make it into the nursing home, where the more independent kids go. A very loving orphanage worker had really been trying to prepare him for that. I don't know what happened, but I've definitely been mourning their departure.

It's also been very hard to see those who are left behind. Saturday was a really fun visit (more below), but the little boys left in Kirill and Sasha's group just couldn't get into the fun. One in particular just kept shaking his head and saying, "They took our boys." And that was already several days after it had happened; he was still in shock. Our own children, especially Jaan and Raia, are having a hard time with this, too. Today Jaan wrote a sweet letter to Kirill, since Kirill can read some. I'll send that soon and pray that it makes it to him and is a comfort. Jaan is also asking if he can go the next time I visit out there; I don't know if that would be wise or possible, but it's something to consider....

But then the happy part: instead of my usual Saturday morning orphanage visit, I went out after nap time. I took our computer and internet and set up Skype to call Oksana in America. Because I didn't know in advance if it would work, I hadn't even mentioned it to the kids. But it did work, and it actually worked really well. I went from bed to bed and let everyone say hi, and then set up at a table for more people to talk with her for longer. I think everyone was encouraged, all around. We certainly all had fun talking!

Oksana will be coming back to Ukraine for the summer, because of her visa and a gap in her treatment. I would really like to find a place for her to stay with Christians in Kherson, instead of having to go back to the nursing home in Kakhovka. Please pray that I would be able to find the perfect situation for her. There are a lot of factors that make that complicated, but I know God is able.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Pascha preparation

When the West has already celebrated Easter, we're finally settling down to prepare for it ourselves. We just started the week-long version of Lenten Lights (in Russian*), yes, a bit late, but with lots of enthusiasm. The almonds and figs you can see in the photos were a Holy Experience idea.

Afterwards, and after we had sung what Asya was calling serious songs, Bogdan requested his own favorite. I got a little bit of video of him singing it. It's "I want to fly like a little butterfly," or his version is more like "Wan' like lil butter' voom."

Also, here's an article about Palm Sunday (yesterday) here in Kherson. Raia ended up in one of the photos, just her back, though. And there's this cute picture of Asya from someone we don't even know on Facebook.

*So excited to see that she's writing about Charlotte Mason now!

Friday, April 03, 2015

Spring gardening

(Oops. I never actually clicked on "Publish," after the photos uploaded.)

Our children have been missing having a dacha. (I haven't. I'm happy to live in a house.) Recently Jaan asked, "If we can't get a dacha here, can we just buy a piece of land where I can set up a tent?" And they've been asking and asking about spring break from school and about planting. So, this week, when music school and regular schools were having their breaks, we rested a bit and started planting.

Monday, I just needed a break, and everyone was completely set on the fact that it's spring break, so I let them play. It was nice. Then, the next day Jaan and I went to the central market to get some seeds and strawberry plants in the morning. After lunch, the girls and I had planned to go to the massive home and garden store for some other supplies, but Raia changed her mind and didn't want to go. Asya and I had fun, though. Then we ended up doing a little bit of planting in the evening. And Wednesday Will worked outside some, while we got back to school inside. (Spring break fever was completely solved by just two days off. Nice.) Then we planted some more seeds later in the day, while he was at the office. We're also in the midst of spring rains, which complicates things a bit; the mud is almost bad enough to swallow us up completely. But that will be perfect for getting seeds started!

I've noticed a weather pattern of a whole week of rain every year, right at the beginning of spring. If we can plant before that, it's perfect, but usually there's not much warmth before that. This year was another when we didn't make it before the rain started.

Over the years, I have come up with a few things that I always want to grow. At first it was broccoli, but I think that's off the list now. It's easy to grow, and it's in the stores now. (Fresh broccoli used to be one of those hard-to-find items. Not anymore.) My current list is strawberries, asparagus, and sweet potatoes. We had the most wonderful strawberries at our dacha in Russia. I didn't plant any when we moved to Ukraine, because we felt so temporary in Dneprorudnoe. But, as the years went by there--without our own strawberries--I told myself that the next time I had a place to plant, I would put in strawberries right away, whether or not I knew how long we would be there. So, first thing last year, Will made me a raised bed, and I put in strawberries. I think Bogdan got to eat one, before they completely succumbed to hail, slugs, and ravenous ducks? So, we replanted this year. And we'll be replanting again already. Will is reconfiguring the little fences in our yard, so one naughty duck got overnight access to the strawberry bed... and that's all it took.

Asparagus... we've been trying to start it from seeds. It grew okay last year, but didn't come back this year. Bogdan and I started more seeds this year, and he's having great fun watching them grow. He keeps asking when he can eat them, and "five years from now" just isn't a satisfactory answer for a four-year-old. However, I ordered some roots online! Exciting! And I just had to add a butterfly bush to my order, even though we really don't have much room to plant. Those should be coming soon.

And sweet potatoes... I got the idea of growing them because it is so hot here in the summers. But they're almost impossible to find. Will bought a few in Zaporozhye a few years ago, and I planted them at our dacha, but that was while we were getting ready to move, so I never knew what happened to them. I bought one along to Kherson and grew it indoors through the winter, but it died just before spring. Then, just recently, when I was in Kyiv, I saw them in a grocery store, but I couldn't bring myself to spend 150 griven for one sad-looking potato that might not even sprout. So, again, I ordered online. We'll see what happens there. There's a man in Kharkov who collects sweet potatoes. I ordered some sprouts of standard orange and a few purple (echoes of PNG!) from him, but communicating with him has been quite an adventure, so we'll see what happens.

Also, this isn't exactly gardening, but I just learned how to do sprouted buckwheat for salads. Grechka is already our children's favorite food, and they're excited about trying it sprouted for the first time today.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Milestones for Asya

Asya finished her learning-to-read book! It has seemed like we have gone really slowly with it, so she's actually been reading for a while now. She also mixed up the official order of events in our family by getting signed up at the library before she finished. But, anyway, now she's officially a reader. Of course we had to celebrate, just like we did for Jaan and for Raia.

(The crown is because our primer ends with "Конец всему делу венец." I just happened to realize that it's kind of a Shakespeare quote, too: it's one variation of the title "All's well that ends well.")

Also, when Jaan learned to read, Raia had just quit sucking her finger, and we rewarded her for that. Asya is finally reaching that milestone, too! She's getting her own nail polish very soon. We just have to be sure that she really is getting to sleep every night without that finger sneaking in....

And she lost one of her top middle teeth yesterday! She has such a cute, funny smile right now. I'll try to get a photo of that soon.