Sunday, August 28, 2016

Prayers for school

All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
And great shall be the peace of your children.
Isaiah 54:13

Art school schedules

This is not organised thoughts and goals and plans about school yet. This is just a prologue... or something.

First, Bogdan is really protesting art school/preschool this year. Again. I've decided to make him go, because he really did love it last year, and he learned so much. But I'm also questioning it. I don't want to do anything at all that might make him think he hates learning. (Even now he's saying, "I don't want to go to school. I just want to learn at home."  So, we're still okay on that front.) He has a pretty full schedule, though: three sessions a week this year. I say sessions, not days, because it's far from three full days of preschool, but it's still a lot for him. They've added more subjects and mixed things up a bit, which I really like. Last year preschool was sitting at desks and concentrating. This year he'll have crafts, school prep, speech, rhythm, English, music, "lepka" (modeling clay), drawing/painting (with his favourite teacher!), and a general preschool class. Please pray that he'll really enjoy it, learn a lot, and that we'll have wisdom to evaluate if it's good for him.

Second, Asya is starting at music school! She's been looking forward to this for quite a while. She decided that she wants to play the flute, mainly because she knows the teacher from church. I thought we were set with that, but we found out today that the rules have changed; she has to have an "entrance exam" on Tuesday, and the teachers don't just take on students by their own choice anymore. Supposedly it's all just a formality, but I know she'll be nervous, and I also don't want her to end up with another teacher after she's anticipated this one for so long. So, please pray for Asya on Tuesday.

I don't have any special prayer requests for Jaan and Raia, but they can certainly use prayer as they also start into another school year.

And for me! I'm very, very excited that I get to go to a one-day homeschool seminar September 10. With travel time and a day of sightseeing, that means I'm gong to be away for a little while right at the beginning of the school year, though, and that makes me feel a little crazy. I'll be here for Bogdan's first two preschool days, but I'll already be gone by the third.

Okay, that's all for now. I'll try to write more homeschool details later, if for no other reason than that it helps me to think them out.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Picnic!

At long last, a post about the picnic! July 15 we took a group of kids from the orphanage to the city park for a picnic. These yearly picnics are the highlight of the summer for many of these kids (and for our family!). The day before, Alys and I had gotten together to prepare the food and get all the last details ready. Then, on the morning of the picnic we set up at a shady place in the park. It was so hot! I think it was the hottest day of the summer, but that didn't stop us.

We had a little video story to watch, then we did crafts and sang. We blew bubbles and played with balls and other toys. While the kids walked around with friends and helpers, we got lunch ready, and then they came back to eat. After lunch, we still had more surprises. Alys had arranged for dessert at a fancy restaurant there in the park. That was probably the most special part of the very special day. For many of the kids, it was their first time in a restaurant. I was so impressed by how the waiters and waitresses worked with them. Everyone got to practice their good manners, and we didn't even break anything. Over dessert we handed out birthday presents from the whole year, since Alys hadn't been there to celebrate them with us.

It all sounds so simple, but a lot of work went into it, and it was just a wonderful, wonderful day.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Elizabeth's visit

I think we packed a good bit into a short visit, without being too overwhelmingly busy. At least it seemed like that to me; I don't know what Elizabeth thought about the pace of everything. She arrived on Saturday afternoon after lots of travel. That day we mostly just ate dinner together and went for a little walk.

Sunday we went to church, ate out, came home for quiet time and crafts, and then had our traditional weekly popcorn and movie night.

Monday we went sightseeing around Kherson:

Tuesday was kind of supposed to be a down day, but it was a busy one. Will went to the office. Here at home they played games and Elizabeth took the kids on a walk, and then our little friend Sonya came over to practice English and play even more. Elizabeth kept everyone busy and happy, and I got a lot done, too; it was so nice!

Wednesday was amazing. Alys and I had planned a mini-picnic for the few kids from our groups at the orphanage who hadn't been able to go on the real, big summer picnic. Having Elizabeth here for that was really great. Both the picnic and the mini-picnic get their own blog posts in the near future, so you'll be hearing more about them later. On the way home from there we stopped at Lviv Chocolate for cold coffee. That night Elizabeth tuned up Will's old viola and played a trio with Jaan and Raia. If you're a Facebook friend, you can see a good video of that here, or try my partial version with worse sound.

Thursday was my birthday. I had said that I wanted to go kayaking again, and Will had arranged everything for another kayak trip with the same guide we went with in July... but just before it was time for us to leave home, they called to say that she couldn't come. He talked them into letting us use the kayaks by ourselves, as long as we stayed right in the bay. We went across to the same place where we had our vacation, kayaked all over the bay, swam, and ate a picnic that Will had prepared. It was wonderful!

Friday was the last day together. I said goodbye to Elizabeth and went off to my usual orphanage day. She took the kids for another walk, and they all got free ice cream at a new little place by us that was having its grand opening. Then Will took her to the airport and she flew away.

Will and Elizabeth have both already posted lots of photos. Some that I shared here were hers, and some were ours.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Seven quick takes: a guest, video, and more

Brandy, who taught me to do these, does them every week. I apparently haven't done one since spring.

:: 1 ::

We just had a friend from Charlotte visit for a week. We were so excited to have her here! Usually when someone asks how they can help or encourage us, I say, "Come visit." I know that's a huge request, and not many can actually pull it off, but Elizabeth did, and we are so grateful. I'll write more about her visit tomorrow.

:: 2 ::

Remember English camp? There's a beautiful video about it online now. It's mostly in Russian, but there are some bits of English. My parents and most of our family and lots of happy children show up in it.

:: 3 ::

Then there's little Karina, who went to America with her new family almost a year ago. At that time, she couldn't walk yet. I just saw photos on Facebook of her running in her first race! And walking out to her school bus all by herself.

:: 4 ::

A recent big event in Kherson was a concert by the American Christian rock group Kutless. (I had never heard of them before.) Raia really wanted to go, and the rest of us didn't. So we asked one of the amazing older girls from church to take her. They had to go way early to help beforehand, and then Raia stayed out until quite late. She had a great time! Apparently she didn't think much of the music, but the fun and excitement and getting to help the older church youth with everything was right up her alley.

:: 5 ::

Raia also had a funny little adventure last Friday, when she went to help me at the orphanage. At one point, she was just flopped on a couch with a few other girls, listening to music with them, when the orphanage doctor came in. He looked at her and said, "Girl, what's your last name?" He's big and loud, and she was scared. She kind of stutter-whispered it out. And then he said, "What group are you from? I thought I knew all the children here!" She answered that she was from "Mama's group." Hah!

:: 6 ::

We are celebrating three years in Kherson and in this house! We getting up close to the longest amount of time that we've stayed in any one home. (That was three years and three months in our fifth floor apartment in Kovrov.) I sure hope that we can stay on here much longer.

:: 7 ::

It has taken me a whole week to write this. Right now, I'm finishing up outside while a very animated newly three-year-old neighbor carries on a wild conversation with his flying toy car and a rock that serves as a telephone all over and around on me.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Building progress

Wow. I'm blogging in real time! I mean, writing about something that happened today, instead of last week or last month.

Today Alys invited Jaan and Bogdan and me to go with her and Sasha and check up on the building site, where the home for boys who age out of the orphanage is going up. We have been out there periodically, but I don't think I've taken any photos there since the groundbreaking. (Alys has, though. Did you notice that I added a link to her updates in our sidebar a while back? --> ) With the walls going up, the progress is dramatically visible now.

Bogdan carefully made a collection of samples of all the different kinds of building materials. He was storing it in a matchbox... but then the puppy ate the matchbox. Oops! But he didn't mind much.

Afterwards we got ice cream, and then drove on a bit to get some pictures of the countryside and looking back at the village. I'm not too pleased with any of mine, but it really was beautiful.

Please be praying for the construction of this house, for all who are involved in the process, and for those who will live in it.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Vacation photos, The End

Four days of vacation equals a whole summer's worth of photos? I guess so! Here are the last of them.

Our last evening there, Raia came running to me, asking me to come to the dock and bring the camera. The sunset was incredible! And we had a girls photo shoot while we enjoyed it.

Our last day there was cool and very windy, so we didn't do as much swimming, but we did try badminton and had a great time together with that.

The pump again
Also, we rescued a poor snake that had gotten its head really stuck inside a snail shell. Really stuck. It was a group effort, but were were able to get it out and let it go free.

And then it was time to go.

Boat ride back to Kherson

Sunday, August 07, 2016

More vacation photos (Jellyfish!)

When we first got to the water front to go across the river for our vacation, we had to wait a few minutes for the boat. While we were waiting, I caught a jellyfish! We saw these tiny freshwater jellyfish years ago, when Asya was a baby, and I had kind of been looking for them again ever since. (Actually, we apparently saw them twice, but 2008 and 2009 must have blurred together in my mind.) We put that one into a bottle and took it across with us. It was joined by others, and we enjoyed watching them in our bottle and in the water the whole time we were there. We even brought three of them home with us afterwards, and they lived in a big jar for about two weeks.

Since we've been home, we've been experimenting with different ways of drawing jellyfish: white crayon with a watercolour wash over it, white paint on top of a watercolour background, or Raia's ink drawings. (Boo. Apparently I cut off the bottom of her page when I took the photo, and I didn't even notice until now.) Oh, a random thing that is kind of connected: after four days away from art and music, as soon as we got home Raia grabbed her balalaika, Jaan started playing piano, and then both girls had to paint.

The web site that we first found about freshwater jellyfish has reappeared at a new address, if there's anyone else out there as fascinated as we are who would like to read about them.