Sunday, January 31, 2021

Krakow last year

This time last year we were in Krakow. It was a hard time for me to travel, and we wouldn't have gone if we hadn't needed to, but now I'm so glad we did! That trip to was the highlight of 2020 for everyone in our family.

I didn't ever finish posting photos from our time there. Here's what I did share:




Then there was Saturday, Sunday, Monday that I never put up here, and we flew home on Tuesday, February 4th.

So, I'm looking back at the photos now....

On Saturday we split up. Will, Jaan, and Raia went to the Schindler Factory Museum, which is recommended for ages 14 and up. Raia took lots of photos there. They walked all the way back afterwards, exploring parts of Krakow that they hadn't seen before. Bogdan, Asya, and I started off with a walk. After we enjoyed more time with the pigeons and trumpeter on the square, we got a brochure for a free museum of amber, so we went off to find it. It was a very fancy amber jewellery store that has exhibits in the back, all about where amber comes from and more. Again, like at the other museum, Bogdan was utterly fascinated. Then we three went to our friends' house for a creek walk with Clarissa. 

Here are a few photos from that day a whole year ago:


(End of Raia's photos; beginning of mine and Asya's. It's hard to believe there were flowers at this time of year.)

Another balalaika!

Beavers live in Krakow.

We had no idea that borders would close soon after this, and that a year later travel wouldn't really be an option at all.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Kyiv and more

Last week I went to Kyiv and back. After having so much trouble getting ready to travel, the trip itself went quite smoothly. I hadn't forgotten about the January 8-24 lockdown, but I had subconsciously thought that "essential" meant what I would need to prepare for a trip. Once I got past getting everything ready and actually got moving, the only inconvenience of the lockdown for me was that there was nowhere to sit or wait around, since all restaurants and coffee shops could do takeout only. The weather was a bit too cold and wet just to stand outside, too.

When my train arrived in Kyiv it was still too early for my embassy appointment, so I got some food and stood around some, but then I decided to start walking, instead of just standing. And I walked all the way to the embassy. I was still early, but--wonder of wonders--they let me in. My time there was weird, but I was able to turn in applications for both Will's passport and mine. Our new passports should be delivered to us soon, and then we'll be able to start and restart several document processes that we need to work out. After the embassy I ran an errand for a friend and then went out to the hotel by the clinic. That was as nice as I could have expected. They did pack a breakfast for me to take with me early the next morning, exactly as I had hoped.

At the clinic everything went quickly and smoothly, too. I had CT scans, and then waited for them to be processed. When we got results I had an appointment with my doctor. She said that everything looks good from the scans and her very thorough examination. I did think it was funny when she said that she wasn't ready to put me on a yearly checkup schedule, but that 6 months would be too soon... so, come back in 7-8 months. As if that's so much more than 6? Anyway, we're very thankful. All went well, and everything looks good. A whole year has gone by since I finished treatment. I think that's the anniversary I'll celebrate, even though a year ago I wasn't done with cancer yet. Finishing treatment was a big milestone, and it's a concrete one to remember.

After that it was so nice just to sit in the clinic's restaurant and watch the beautiful snowfall. (Their restaurant can work, because it's a "cafeteria for workers" and "hospital kitchen.") It was just gorgeous; honestly, almost everyone who came in oohed and aahed and took photos and videos. I wasn't the only one enjoying it. Then I had to go back in to Kyiv, and I really froze in the weirdly empty train station. But then I baked in the train and finally got home the next morning.

The other highlight of recent days was that last Sunday a family from church invited us over. There's a group of families that gets together every year on or near Baptism, and this year they included us. We had a wonderful time! We've all been missing family times like this, since our various foreign friends moved away. We ate together, played games, talked, and had a great time. And it was cold outside; "Baptism Frosts" (the traditional extra cold weather around Epiphany) were real this year. (My poor duck got her wing frozen to her house, but Jaan chiselled her out.)

Other news: Will's on a break from his allergy treatment. He was supposed to be moving up to a full dose now, but before he could do that, he developed a rash on his feet. It doesn't itch or bother him at all, but his doctor said to stop the medicine for a week to see if it goes away. Of course, we won't know if any of this is working until late summer when allergy season starts. We hope and pray, though!

I'm taking an online college course through the local Bible institute and really enjoying it so far, even if it seems like a whole lot of reading and writing. It probably isn't objectively a lot, but it has been a really long time since I have had assigned readings and homework deadlines to meet.

And that's about it here, I think. I'm so thankful to be cancer-free a year out from finishing treatment!

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

SNOW! and travel plans

Snow has become a rarer and rarer treat around here over the past few years. We were all thrilled to wake up to a snowfall this morning. I canceled our first hour of school, when we usually read all together, and instead we went outside to enjoy the snow. We ran around like crazy, threw snow, were fascinated by the "snowsticks" that were falling instead of snowflakes, and then came in for a good day of school. I think everyone has plans to go back out as soon as they can, too.

Tonight I'm leaving for Kyiv. Tomorrow morning I'll have an appointment at the American embassy to renew both my passport and Will's. I remember many years ago, American embassies seemed almost like a haven, especially when we were wading through Russian paperwork difficulties. At least there was one place where the rules made sense and people were pleasant. No more. Sadly, the embassy (at least in Kyiv) has gotten harder and harder to work with. I'll take local Migration Service or even other government offices any day over them. (One of the men at Migration here has the ringtone on his phone set to the Servant of the People theme song, and his attitude matches it.) Just trying to get an appointment at the embassy this time was a long ordeal that made me want to scream. Maybe it's good that I've had something other than the upcoming medical stuff to focus all my emotional energy on, though.

Assuming I survive the embassy, I'll head out to a nice hotel near the cancer clinic. Because of covid, the cheap hostels are closed, so I'm looking forward to the treat of a night at this hotel and their good breakfast (if they'll let me take it with me?). Will and I stayed there once at the very beginning of my treatment. Now it's been almost a whole year since I finished treatment, and I have a checkup to mark that milestone. I have blood tests, scans, and appointments scheduled for most of the day. In the evening I'll get on another train to head back to (hopefully still snowy) Kherson. Please pray for me as I travel, deal with the embassy, and see my doctors. Thanks!

Friday, January 08, 2021

Second Christmas

"Second Christmas" was yesterday, and it was lovely. Bogdan and I went to the first service at our church, then on to an Orthodox church in the center. He had been invited by our library, since he participated in a holiday art contest. The rest of our family went to the second service at our church and stayed long afterwards.

We enjoyed our time at the other church. If we had know there was music before our part, we would have gone earlier. Then Bogdan wanted to walk around a bit and see the decorations, even in the rain. After we got soaked, we had to warm up with treats, of course.

When Bogdan and I came home, the other kids were still at church. When they eventually came back, plus one extra (people who have been here for Agape summer camps will recognise the extra), we ate dinner, went carolling to our neighbours, and then came home for cake and music.

We don't usually have presents on Christmas, but this year a box came. While Jaan walked his friend across town, the others got to open their gifts. Bogdan and Asya were especially excited. They got exactly what they wanted:

All week has been full of fun, and yesterday was a great culmination to all of that. Today we finish up school break and get ready to jump back in to regular life on Monday. A nationwide lockdown started today, too, so music school will start back up online only. And we'll see how everything else will work out around that. We've had a wonderful holiday season!