Friday, September 30, 2011

First of Fall

Light gentle breezes...
Crisp skies...
Leaves falling...
Enjoying the last "fruits" from the garden...

 Digging holes...

 Making soup...

 First Oreo...

Teaching Sammy to pray... 
"Let's pray, Sammy."
(Closes his ears so he won't have any distractions when he's praying...right?)

Fall Flowers...
(My lack of color is giving the impressions that Americans are boring...
but I do so LOVE all the white and cream!)

Creeping creatures joining us in our home...
(We are up to three of these ugly, hairy guys so far.  And they are HUGE.  With his legs, he's about the size of my palm!)

Helping Papa build a dog house...

AHHHH!  Sammy NO!  
I think he's been hanging around the dog too long.
As I was snapping, I noticed what he was doing...

They don't have a problem with being in the dog house. :)

I just love the refreshing fall days, even if they are a bit unpredictable!

Monday, September 26, 2011

What's for Supper?

 A few months ago, I had a creative streak run through me as I was preparing supper which resulted in the creation of a family favorite (as long as I remember to SHRED not CHOP the onions, haha).

Yuri and Kristina are coming over for supper tonight (they couldn't make it last week) and this is what's on the menu, along with biscuits from the mix I made earlier and carrot cake (if I have the energy). 

Here's how to make it:

Layer sliced potatoes on bottom of pan (sometimes I lightly fry them in oil and water until tender), pour 1/2 of the seasoned white sauce over potatoes.  Add a layer of shredded or chopped onions then sliced carrots (in the photo I had left over corn and peas so added that as well).  Next add a layer of cooked chicken, bread cubes/crumbs then pour on remaining sauce.  Lastly, sprinkle shredded garlic on top.  Cook at 375 degrees until veggies are tender when pierced (about 30 minutes to 1 hr).

White sauce

Melt a little more than 1/4 c. of butter in a saucepan.  Add a little more than a 1/4 c of flour, stirring until bubbly and mixed.  Stir in 4 cups of milk until thickened.  Remove from heat and add desired seasoning.  I have used both mushroom seasoning packets and chicken.  (In the photo, I made a thicker sauce with 1/2 c. butter, 1/2 c. of flour and 4 cups of milk, but the sauce barely made it past the first layer.)

Well...guess I better get in the kitchen.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Coming Soon

Over on our ministry blog we will be starting something Eric has wanted for a while, a series of posts called People to Pray for.  Each week we'll introduce you to someone or a family here that we have contact with, giving you the chance to better know how to pray for the people God has called us to and for us.  You can get there through the picture/button above or the button on the side.  Can't wait to start the introductions!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Breathe In and Out

It's been so long since I've actually typed a post that I'm at a loss for words...or maybe it's just I have too many words floating around my head.  Things have been pretty busy so computer time has been limited.  

For starters, we "officially" started school 2 weeks ago.  The girls and I woke up Monday morning very excited about our "first day of school".  We rushed around quickly so we could get started by 9 AM.  I pulled out the folder with that day's activities and the new car box we had for Sammy.  Everything was going smoothly - Sammy was entertained and the girls and I were having fun with our Alphabet board game (from Confessions of a Homeschooler).  Doesn't Lydia look like she is having fun? :) 

My perfect "plan" lasted about 2 minutes.  After that, everything was a blur of chasing the dog to get Sammy's toys, picking up a few "presents" she left that time Sammy was bored with his toys and the girls had decided to look inside the folder, which ended with it all on the floor.  The second day, I was a little smarter - I put the dog in her kennel and gave Sammy a snack.
 As you can see, Sammy decided to make it a science experiment to test how far he could fling his soggy muffin.  Add to all of that a discouraging doctor's visit, leaving me wanting to cry for mama to come get me.  There were many days that I rushed around like a mad woman cleaning, only to come in and find this...

 ...all of the summer and winter clothes in one big pile on the floor (though you can't help but notice the smiling boy in the midst of it all).

I knew that something needed to change.  There had to be another way.  The next week we didn't accomplish as much school as I wanted but focused instead on building some good habits that would help us and just tried to quiet my spirit so that I wasn't continually rushing - both mentally and physically - but never accomplishing anything.  The things that we learned last week helped us to have a great beginning to our school week today.  Not only is it helping me balance house-keeping and school but it is also helping me be more relaxed and have some blogging time.  Here are a few of the things that we learned last week.

1)  Sammy started mat time.  What is mat time?  For us, it is a blanket on the floor with a few toys/books.  During the allotted time, he is not allowed off of the blanket.  Last week it took a lot of discipline to get him to stay there and it was hard work, but it all paid off today as he sat at least 30 minutes quietly playing while I did school with the girls!  I could go on and on about mat time.  My girls are already very good at it.  Since we don't have a nursery, it has taught them how to sit quietly in one spot during church.

2)  The girls help with dishes right after meals.  I wash, Lydia rinses and Anna dries and puts away.  Sammy sometimes helps too by passing the dishes between Lydia and Anna.  They are doing very well at it and I already don't know what to do without their help!  Not only are they a big help, but they also LOVE helping and talked forever about how "we were friends and sisters".  Before I tried to do it by myself "quickly" so that I would have time to spend with them, but it seemed like my time was always rushed.  Now, we do it together in about the same amount of time (maybe quicker) AND have a fun time.  This has been a HUGE blessing to me as we have started boiling even our water for washing dishes because of the continued parasite problem (it has been at least a year), making dishes an even bigger task. 

3)  I have learned that rushing around like a mad woman from one task to another does not help me accomplish more, it only makes me more stressed.  SO, breathe in and out...I don't have to do it all.  The funny thing is - things are more in order when I take it easy then when I go through the house like a whirlwind!  I'm also trying to not go so much by the clock.  It's not the end of the world if I am 10 minutes late getting to the dishes.

Well, the kids are all awake, Eric is coming home early today and we are having Yuri and Kristina over for supper tonight so I guess I better get moving - slowly of course. ;)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

(Updated: now my click here has a link.  Sorry.)
Doesn't that sound absolutely delicious?  My two favorite things made into one Saturday morning tradition.
My friend Sarah recently shared this recipe with me.  She usually uses the Pioneer Woman's sour cream pancakes (sorry, was too lazy to find a link), but I am so addicted to my buttermilk pancakes that it's hard to try something else.  One of these days I'm going to try them though.  These cinnamon roll pancakes were super easy to make and were quickly consumed.

Prepare pancake batter. (Click here for my buttermilk pancake recipe and also my apple cinn. pancakes.)
In a separate bowl, mix together 1/4 c. butter, 1 tbs cinnamon and 1/2 c. brown sugar.
Pour pancake batter onto buttered skillet and swirl in cinnamon mixture. {I dropped it, then swirled it with a butter knife.}

Next on my list is Banana-Pecan Pancakes and oven pancakes.  Always been a little skeptical of banana pancakes, but gonna give it a try.  So far, though, buttermilk pancakes topped with frozen berries and a little of mama's syrup (mapleline/sugar/water) are still a favorite.  What are your favorites?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Baba Maroosa

Not too long ago I mentioned Baba Maroosa to you.  We had met her while walking to church one Sunday morning and invited her to join us.  She has since been pretty faithful in attending, even on Wednesdays!  Many of her friends probably wouldn't take our tracts if they met us on the street since they are very strong Orthodox.  They also cannot understand why she is coming on Wednesday as well...Sunday is MORE than enough church.

On Wednesday I had invited her over for a visit the next day.  Valentina was also visiting (to help me) and thinking that Baba Maroosa wouldn't be over until a little later, decided to go for a walk.  When we arrived back home, Baba Maroosa was sitting on the swing waiting for us.  We fed the kids and put them down for naps, then I sat down with Baba Maroosa.  There were some awkward moments as it sometimes takes more time for me to figure out how and what to say in the language, especially for a long period of time and she was with us all day.  But this gave me a very good opportunity to get to know her and hear her story.

She grew up during the war and her parents were both killed during that time.  Her mom was killed right in front of her, which is a memory which haunts her still.  She talked about seeing a vision of Jesus and of Mary, relating that to salvation.  I tried a few times to talk to her about salvation, but Russians talk very fast and aggressive and unless you are equally fast, they will cut you off.  One of the times I started talking I could tell I was about ready to get cut off again, so I called in Valentina to help me witness.  Together we were able to direct the conversation towards salvation and talked with her a good while about salvation coming through none other than Jesus Christ.  She told us that she believes in Jesus and that she knows she is saved because how could she have survived all of that horror if God was not holding her?  She then told us of many of her friends who were either alcoholics or had already drunk themselves to death.  Please pray for this woman as she believes herself to be saved, but does not have an understanding of salvation.  Pray also for all of these elder women as many of them are hardened to anything outside of Orthodoxy and are so lost and without hope.  Their religion has not helped them, so they have turned to alcohol.  We feel an urgency to reach them, knowing that their days are drawing to an end, yet their hearts are very hardened.

 Anna, Sammy and Valentina on our walk home.

Baba Maroosa always walks with a stick.  After she left, I started taking care of the laundry.  When I turned around Sammy was almost outside the gate - walking with a stick.

Already the leader.

  But SO adorable!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Meet Our Newest Addition

Life here is moving at a fast pace, as usual.  I hardly feel like I have time to breathe at times, yet I do not know if I would change anything...and if so, what?  But, on doctor's orders, I did try to slow down a little last week.  Even though I wanted to can more, I think I'm done with that for the year as it is not as important as some other things.  Like...we are starting our first day of school next week. :)  Everyone here started yesterday, September 1st, but I wanted to start on a Monday...easier for me.  Anna is SUPER excited and Lydia is catching it as well.  I, on the other hand, feel way under-prepared to be getting started.  I feel like I've been half-planning all summer, yet still don't have things set up the way I want.  Yeah, it would have helped if I didn't decide to change the layout of our house the week before school, BUT it will be nice to have a little more order before we start.  The Lord has blessed me with multiple different schooling materials.  At the beginning of the summer I was a little discouraged by how little I have access to here and felt like it was going to be difficult to put together a curriculum, but now {thanks to very generous birthday gifts :)}I have such an abundant supply of books and resources that I'm not exactly sure where to begin!  Not all of the books have gotten here yet, but they are on their way.  Hopefully tonight I will have some time to put together a more definite schedule.  I also have a chore list I want to print out.  I am amazed at how much the girls are able to do and it takes such a load off of me, I just need to have something up that I, and they, can see.

Finally, I'd like to introduce you to the new addition to our family.

Yeah, I know.  I don't know what I was thinking either.  But isn't she adorable?  The second day I was really beginning to doubt my wisdom to agreeing (ok...and wanting) her, but she is very smart and is already learning not to poo or pee anywhere but here "spot"...soon, that will be outside.  That was pretty much my biggest problem as I already have enough of that to pick up.  The girls unanimously named her Girly.  (Well, Anna did mention Anna and Inga -???)  How did they come up with this "original" name?  Well, Papa's first dog was called Lady and he suggested that.  But Anna insisted that she was to small to be Lady...she was a Girly.  Any other suggestion after that was quickly voted out in favor of Girly, except for Princessa. :)  She is fitting in beautifully.  She loves to cuddle with me, but at the same time LOVES to play with the kids and Eric.  Anna has loved her from the beginning and Lydia and Sammy are starting to enjoy her more.  (They were a little scared of her at first when she was hyper and playing with Anna.)


Sights in Vvedenka

Though a lot of people are starting to clear out their gardens, there is still a lot of things just coming into the harvesting season.  We saw this field of pumpkins on the way back from church.  I think they just might be the most beautiful pumpkins I have ever seen!

Eric likes to meet the train whenever he can to pass out tracts and talk with people.  He says that Absalom won the heart of his people away from King David by sitting in the gates and that he wants to sit in the gates to win them for the Lord.  The "gate" to our city is definitely the train stop.  On his way one morning he snapped this picture.  Isn't it breathtaking?  The Lord is coming soon!  We need to work while there is still time!


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