Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Monday, July 25, 2016

Vacation photos, part 2

I said that we enjoyed our nature encounters. While we were sitting on the dock, this snake came up out of the water, holding a fish. We watched while it tried to find a way to swallow its catch, and then it eventually left, still carrying the whole, live fish.

Bogdan loved that his Spider-Man shirt, swimming trunks, and swimming ring all matched. (I think he was wearing a different shirt here, though.)

A fun series of photos:


They were trying to swing Asya by her hands and feet and throw her off the dock. (She wanted them to.) But hands slipped, or the effort wasn't quite coordinated, and Will caught that very moment on film here. Poor Asya ended up with a big bruise, but she was a very good sport, and didn't even complain.

To be continued.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Vacation photos, part 1

Of course, as soon as I sit down to do this, the internet connection decides to be difficult. I'll just leave it, and see if it can upload while I do other things....

Yes! That worked. Now you can see some of the beauty we enjoyed during our four days away at the beginning of this month. We went over the river and stayed in a little house at a "base" over there. Each day we played in the water a whole lot, and enjoyed watching and catching various creatures. The house didn't have a kitchen, so Will cooked outside for us. It was such a treat!

Oh, remember that I said that we didn't tell our kids where we were going? On the way there it was so fun to listen to them guessing. They were taking votes about if we would be going on a bus or train. "Oh, we've passed the bus station. That means I was right!" "No, we're passing the train station, too. Where can we be going?!?" And then when we arrived at the waterfront their eyes got so big.

The base where we stayed

To be continued.

Saturday, July 23, 2016


Our happy campers came home today. We missed them so much! (Well, Bogdan and our little neighbors and I missed them terribly. Will was still enjoying the strange quiet in our home.) They had a wonderful time. I think they are very tired, too. Asya says that she went and put herself to bed early last night, while everyone else was still playing, and she slept long and hard during quiet time when we got home.

A Polish team camp to help with camp, and they taught Polish language classes, too. I don't know yet how much the kids actually took in, but Raia is accidently saying certain words with a Polish accent.

I am sure there will be more photos online soon; these are a few that I took during "Parents' Day" today. I'm so happy to have them home again!

"Raja" and one of her new Polish friends
Asya in her tent
Brothers reunited

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


My parents left a pack of popsicle sticks with us, and then Mom sent Jaan this link. Over the past few days he's been building all kinds of chain reactions, and this is his latest creation:

Saturday, July 09, 2016


Starting last week, I switched my orphanage days from Saturdays to Fridays. I've been wanting to do that for a long time, and I think it's going to be just as good as I was hoping.

During the school year I was just worn out, because I would teach our children from Monday to Friday, which takes pretty much all of my energy. Then, as soon as I finished with them on Friday afternoon, I'd start planning my lesson and activities for the next day at the orphanage. I'd be up and out early Saturday morning, for a high energy day with the kids there. Saturday evenings are also often when we have social events. So, on many Sundays I felt like I could barely move. Will does a wonderful job of making Sundays easy for me. (We have traditions and habits to help with that.) But it was still too much. I felt like I could never catch my breath (or do laundry, or...). Plus, all our children are busy on Saturdays, so they couldn't regularly go on visits with me. Not to mention that the orphanage worker who is in charge of "our" groups on Saturdays is just hard to work with, and being with her all year long was draining.

So, last week I switched. It was so much better! The wonderful weekday caretaker was there; I've barely seen her all year. The older kids were happier and more relaxed. I was able to hold and feed the little guys without fighting for that.

(Recently I have been very upset by what seemed like a run of "you can't hold them, because they'll cry when you leave." That's a pretty standard orphanage line, and it's heartbreaking and wrong. But, happily, I don't hear it all the time here. However, lately it seemed to be pretty constant. Last week, when I switched days, I was so glad not to hear it. I got to hold the little ones, and actually explain to the nanny who was in one group that crying is a good sign. I told her that I'm sorry, and I do hope that my little friend won't cause trouble for her, but that crying when I leave shows that he has opinions and isn't afraid to express them. I think she understood that I'm not just a weirdo who likes make children cry... because I definitely don't! But silent children, lying in rows of cribs are the horror of the orphanage system. They don't cry, when they know that no one cares and no one will answer.)

If you pray for me on Saturdays for my visits, you can switch that to Friday now. Thanks! I hope to be able to keep this up, even in the fall when school starts again, but we'll have to see how everyone's schedules fit together then.

Oh, and next Friday will be the yearly, much beloved picnic for these kids. Happy! Please pray for good weather and that it all goes well.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Home again

We had such a wonderful time on our little vacation! There are tons of photos to sort through, but these are a few of my favorites.

On Wednesday we went kayaking, and that was probably the highlight of our time for all of us.

I'll write more about it and share more photos later.

Monday, July 04, 2016


By the time you read this, we'll be gone for a few days. I set it to publish after we leave, because we've made a big mystery of where we're going, and our kids are threatening to read all my email and everything to figure out our destination.

We had planned that our older three would be at camp at the sea this week, and that maybe we would all go down there, so that Bogdan could swim, too. But then we were too late in signing up, and there wasn't room for them. Plus, we've been missing having a dacha and a close place to swim. So, we rented a "dacha for those who don't have dachas" on the other side of the river. It's only accessible by boat, and it's right on the water. We'll be there Monday-Thursday, and we're really excited for this chance to get away.

(And our kids will still get to go to their beloved church camp. That will be at the end of July. This year it's Polish camp. A team is coming from Poland, and they'll be teaching Polish language classes, among other things. It should be fun and interesting!)

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Art classes

This year the art school our children attend has kept a few groups going on into the summer. Raia and I have been attending the oil painting lessons for adults and older children. The two weeks that my mother was here with us, she got to go, too. She just sent me her photos from that, to pass on to the art teacher. I'm going to share those here, too: