Saturday, September 24, 2016

Seven quick takes: Bogdan and birthdays and more

:: 1 ::

Bogdan and I have made a few cards with memories from my London trip to send off with thank you messages. While looking for inspiration for the next one, I came across this. Isn't it amazing? My evening at St. Paul's and on the Thames actually looked like that. The sky was less pink, and more golden, with dramatic dark clouds over one half of the city I didn't have a camera with me, and I wished that I did, but I loved the lighting.

:: 2 ::

I have been enjoying a few spots during the week where it's just Bogdan and me at home. It's nice. He usually wants to play preschool with me.* Or paint. Or go for a walk. I've been thinking about how different life is for him now than it was for his older siblings. A few of my friends with large families have mentioned discovering that their little ones don't know basic Bible stories; we're not quite there. (I think he does know them.) But he has missed some of the Bible activities and the little kids books that everyone else revelled in. And none of them were happily going off to classes away from Mama for several hours at a time! So, really, he's not missing out, his early childhood isn't worse; it's just different. We'll make a point of reading Bible stories and the beloved books, now that I've thought of that.

*You know he loves preschool, when that's what he wants to play.

:: 3 ::

Narration: this has constantly been on my mind since getting back from London. Karen Glass does such a good job of talking about it, and then I listened to a podcast about the same subject a few days ago, too. Karen especially left me very encouraged that this is a long process, and she also gave me ideas of certain things to aim for right now.

:: 4 ::

Hannah's blog post (and other other pieces that she has written) is a beautiful picture of adoption and families. We were honoured to get to meet her and her husband when there were here adopting.

:: 5 ::

Of course, we all know that adoption changes lives, but I saw that again very clearly when I was at the orphanage last week. There's a teen there who is from a group that I don't work with much. I greet her every time I see her, but she usually answered me very shyly, if at all. I've also known that a family was coming for her, but they had various delays along the way, and I couldn't talk about that with her or even tell her what I knew. Then, her mother came for a first adoption trip. Last week, when I saw the girl again, she was glowing. I greeted her as usual, and instead of a mumbled, looking-at-the-floor answer, she looked up and started bubbling: "Have you heard? I'm going to be adopted! I have a family coming for me!" and on and on and on. It was wonderful. She's changed that much, just because she knows that she has a family; what will it be like when she actually joins them?

:: 6 ::

September birthdays here: Jaan's was back on the 10th. I was gone, but Will made it a special day for him, and then we celebrated some more when I got back.

Today is actually Asya's birthday. She has a busy, full day with her beloved art school classes, though, so we won't do much at home. (Facebook tells me that she celebrated there two years ago, too.) The art school has also started monthly birthday celebrations, and the first one is today, so she was thrilled about that: September birthdays, being celebrated on her day! We made cupcakes for her to take to that. Then, tomorrow we'll go to Jump Park, an indoor playground. Will has taken our kids there twice, but without me, and Asya wants me to experience it too, hence her choice of that for her birthday fun.

:: 7 ::

I just realised that I've at least mentioned three out of four children, but not said anything about Raia. Hmm. She is busy and happy as usual. Yesterday was her turn to go to the orphanage with me, but she couldn't, because her nose is running a little. Today she made pancakes for Asya's birthday breakfast and bought a present with her own money. Recently she entered a photo and essay contest about pets, so he had to do a photo shoot of her Martin:

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Please stop right now and pray for my little friend Noor Karina and for her wonderful family. Her one-year adoption anniversary just passed by. She has been thriving in her family. Today there was a "major medical emergency," and she's in critical condition. PRAY!

One year and one day have gone by since then.

UPDATE, one day later: God did a miracle! She's already home from the hospital. Still, please keep praying for her and her family, and praise God for His mercy, too.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Mini picnic

When we had the picnic in July, a few of the kids we work with most regularly weren't allowed to come. We really wanted to include them, too, so we did a mini picnic on the orphanage grounds about a month after the main picnic. I think I actually enjoyed it more than the main event because it was pretty much one on one time with just a few kids, and I know they loved it, too.

We chose a time while Elizabeth was here, so that she could help. It also turned out to be a day when almost all the kids from the orphanage were on another outing, but our same few were left behind again.

When we got there, we found a shady place and left Raia and Elizabeth to set up and prepare plates. Alys and I went off to get the kids. The two girls were still in bed--why even get up when you've been left behind on a day that everyone else got to go out?--so we had the fun of waking them up with big hugs.

After we got them ready, we took them out to our little picnic place, and settled in to eat the food that was waiting there. They were pretty excited, even about that simple treat. Then we watched the same video story that we had had before with the big group. I was really proud of Raia, because partway through some of the orphanage workers came out to talk to me, so I just threw her the puppet that I was translating with and told her to continue... and she did it!

The story was about caterpillars and butterflies. At the big picnic, we had wanted to show one of Bogdan's caterpillars, but weren't able to, because it chose that very day to make its chrysalis. We searched high and low, but couldn't find any more caterpillars then. On this day, as soon as we arrived, we started finding caterpillars! Soon we realised that they were tent caterpillars, and that we were right near their food plants. So, we made a point of observing them with the picnickers (and we brought a few home to Bogdan).

Then we sang and did crafts and just enjoyed being together a little more. For dessert I told them that since we were outside, on a real picnic, we would have potatoes and mushrooms... and then I gave out chocolate "potatoes" and "mushrooms." We laughed about that together.

All too soon it was time for the kids to go back to their groups and for us to head home. We all have great memories of our special time together, though.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

At the building site

A few weeks ago Jaan and Will spent a good part of a day helping at the building site where the home for boys who grew up at Tsyurupinsk orphanage is being built. There are some photos from that day here. Please do keep up with that blog, if you're interested in the building progress. I have a link to it on our sidebar here. -->

Click over for more photos.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Our foreign language resources

Almost a year later--end of August 2017--I'm coming back to add in the group photo that I just got by email:

I know that I said more than once at Karen's seminar that I would email foreign language resources to people who were asking. Maybe that will interest more than my fellow seminar attendees, and it's easier to send a link to everyone than to remember who wanted what, so I'll just post here. Please let me know if I am leaving out anything you asked for.

A PR article that has sample foreign language lessons:
On the Teaching of Modern Languages
There is actually quite a lot to work with there. I translated the French into Russian and taught just the first part of it to parents at the Indiana AO conference. Personally, I really liked the way it went. With a real class you could keep working from there for much longer than just the one sample lesson I did.

Christine and Alyssa's book that is written for mothers who want to work with a language helper to teach their children a foreign language:
Language Learning for Children
I have not used this myself, or even read all of it, but what I have seen looks great. Christine herself says that she has learned more about Charlotte Mason since writing it and wants to make revisions, but I think it's already a good resource. (If you're on the forum, Christine offered a free download of the book there.)

My opinion on the Cherrydale Press books: yes, they're a good CM foreign language resource, but they're not enough for a full CM experience, and they're rather expensive to be just a part of a curriculum. If you want to read the work of Francois Gouin, which Charlotte Mason raved about (here), his book is online here and elsewhere. I highly recommend it! I know of mothers who have created their own Gouin series after reading this, and that's a great idea.

If you want to see one of the textbooks that the PNEU schools used for French, here's an example. Honestly, it's just a textbook, nothing very special. However, before the TX conference, I read up a little about the author, and I saw why Charlotte Mason liked his work. He was a real reformer in foreign language teaching. You can see that, even just in the introductions to his textbooks. You can find other specific books by looking at the French and German listing on the PNEU programmes.

Random note: I love using foreign language audio books as a modern replacement for a French teacher who would read to the give or give a lecture for the kids to narrate back.

The Latin TPR book that we love:
I Speak Latin

Also, Comenius' Latin primer: Karen mentioned it, and we actually do use it in our family. There are various versions online. English is here. (I doubt that anyone wants my Russian links?) You can find it read aloud--with great expression that makes our children laugh--on this YouTube channel. We just listen over and over again to a little bit at a time, look at the pictures, and then slowly begin reading it aloud ourselves (Mama and older children) or talking about the pictures (younger children, if they want to. Bogdan actually really likes what he calls "the other English.")

Jaan (our oldest) is also just starting into Visual Latin this year. I can't say much about that yet, but so far, so good.

Now, that was all just my own opinion and personal experience. I am NOT an expert, and it's far from exhaustive on Charlotte Mason and foreign language. I hope it fills in some of those gaps where I couldn't remember author's names or exact titles when we were talking face to face, though.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Schedules. Ugh.

These past few years I have found Septembers to be so confusing! We love all the opportunities our kids have, and they love all of it, too, of course. But getting everything started up each school year makes my head spin. We're making progress, though; I almost have a schedule mapped out. It's changed even since that screen shot last night, and we still have to add solfeggio, but still, we're getting there.... Before long it will all just flow automatically, and I'll almost forget how crazy these first few weeks were.

Monday, September 12, 2016

What a wonderful trip!

My heart is just so full of thanks for the wonderful trip that I'm just returning from. Several people gave me money for my birthday to use for this trip, and Will really encouraged me to go. Thank you! It was all just so amazing and refreshing and encouraging.

I am not good at selfies, but can you see the background?

I'll probably be writing about all of it as much as I can in the next few days, but we'll see how much that really turns out to be. For now, just a quick summary:
Wednesday--I left on a train to Kyiv.
Thursday--I flew on to Paris, where I had an eight-hour layover that allowed me to see the Eiffel Tower. Then I flew on to London. Getting into London was a bit nightmarish, but I finally got to my hostel in the early morning hours of...
Friday--After a few hours sleep I stumbled out for breakfast, and then went on a walking tour offered by the hostel. I came back and took a nap. Then I went to Evensong at St. Paul's Cathedral. I ate dinner sitting by the Thames, then crossed over to see The Globe, just the outside and the gift store to get something for my birthday boy. Then to the hotel where the Glass family was staying, a little time with them, and off to my hostel and bed. It was an amazing day; I kept feeling like I was dreaming a happy dream.
Saturday--Karen's all-day seminar. Again: amazing. She did a beautiful job of speaking about Charlotte Mason both as a broad overview and in depth. The group of ladies who came to hear her was just wonderful, too. Afterwards, the Glasses and one of the other people who had come to the seminar and I sat and talked--about life, books, Poland, Ukraine, Wales, and much more--for a few more hours over pizza.
Sunday--3 am to the airport. Ugh. I was way early, but still came closer to missing my flight than I've ever done before, just because I was happily sitting at the wrong gate until they paged me at the last moment. Paris. Kyiv. Train.
Monday--Finished reading Mere Motherhood: five thumbs up. Kherson. Home sweet home! School.

So, there are the facts. I know I've read about debriefing after a trip or event should be, "What happened?" and something like "How do you feel about it?" or "What impact did it have on you?" Maybe I can give more details of the first later. (I hope so.) And the second question? We'll see about that, too.

Thursday, September 01, 2016


Our first day of school is done! I'm not really sorting our school photos from this morning now, but when I looked through them quickly I was struck by all the expressions on Bogdan's face.

(Click for a closer look.)

And then there's this:
Neighbour kid in the photo