Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Thankful for a Warm House

The house is quiet and dark, except for the calm flickering and crackling of my Woodwick candle and the hum from the washer.  What beautiful sounds!  My empty cup of spearmint tea sits next to the beautiful roses Eric bought me.  How I love early mornings!  How refreshing they are!  Today though, I may crash by the time everyone is ready to wake up because Daniel woke me up at 4 AM!  Even though he quickly fell back to sleep, my mind has been racing.  Racing with Sunday School ideas, curtains for the church I'd like to have made, summer guests...there is so much excitement!

Church has been going well.  Sunday we had 8 in Sunday School!  Two girls have started coming specifically for English lessons, which I started when I heard they would be allowed to come for that.  The lessons were cancelled this Sunday though as we had no heat!  We were all too cold by the end of services to have English lessons.  The electricity has been really bad lately.  That particular day it was off from midnight until around 4:30 Sunday afternoon, then off again a few hours later.  Boy was it COLD!  Since then, it has gone off almost every day, but only for a couple hours.  We thought about cancelling services Sunday, but decided to have them anyways.  Besides being cold, we had a very good Sunday.  We have started using the puppets in Sunday School.  It is amazing how quiet the kids sit through the puppets!  During the kids Sunday School, Eric teaches the adults without a translator.  This particular Sunday he was so animated that even the kids wanted to pay attention to his class! ;)  I guess he has to do something to keep the adults from looking at the puppets. hehe!  A curtain will be going up soon between the sections.

Forgot my camera, but Eric had his phone handy. :)

The household has been moving pretty smoothly lately.  We finally posted a schedule and though we don't always go exactly by it, it has helped a lot.  Eric wants me to print one for him now too. :)  Anna has been such a BIG helper.  If I get her started, she does a good job at washing the dishes.  Now she has even started washing some of the "big" dishes for me!  AND she thinks it's fun!  Lydia still sweeps around the table, but needs a little more instruction and Sammy is willing to help with anything.  He clears the table, takes the laundry out of the washer and usually helps me hang it.  And Daniel, well he can usually be found in the room that I just organized - reorganizing.
Doesn't he look like a little rascal?

They look SO guilty!  And they should...they just dumped the cushions and stuffed toys on the floor!

For school we are using the Abeka DVDs.  At first I HATED the idea of using these.  I felt (either of myself or of others, I do not know) that it wasn't really homeschooling - just an easy way out.  I spent hours, days, researching different materials and was thinking about mixing different things.  When I approached my husband, he pretty much said that if I wanted his support/help in homeschooling then I would use the Abeka DVDs.  Wow!  All that time I wasted!  I should have just come to him first!  I already knew that he was interested in them, but I guess I didn't listen good enough.  So I decided to follow him.  He is the head of the home and I definitely wanted his backing with schooling.  Still, the first week or so I HATED the DVDs.  I felt like they weren't helping me any and I was just sitting there watch someone else teach my daughter.  I found that I had not fully submitted or surrendered my will.  After giving my attitude to the Lord, I have found that my husband truly was right-it has been a huge blessing and help.  It has taken the burden of planning off my shoulders. 
But, at least for me, it is not completely hands off.  Anna and I love pausing, fast forwarding or completely turning the DVD off for a class while we "do it together".  Writing class is almost always this way.  We have had fun making the program our own.  I think it doesn't matter what curriculum you use, there will always be something you want to change.  I thought about cutting out the Bible class as we already do Bible, that would take away 45 minutes to 1 hr., but I really don't think she can get too much Bible.  And the entire day really doesn't take that much time, 1 1/2 hrs maybe 2hrs max.  There is so much more time in the day for other ways of learning.  Now that I am pregnant again, it has helped even more as Anna can pretty much do her lessons by herself on days when I am sick or have doctors' appointments.  I have folders that I put her work papers in under the table.  I usually try to set that day's folder out for her and all she has to do is pull out the paper.  I switch the papers out on Fridays.
 Lydia and Sammy made headbands too.  As you can see, we are a little behind in our schooling because we didn't do much school on furlough.  Just enjoyed time with family and friends. :)

I have more I want to write but my time is up.  Lots to do today - Bible lessons then church tonight.  Nastia, the young lady we are doing Bible lessons with, also asked for piano lessons.  We may be starting that tonight too.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


We noticed recently that some were struggling with right attitudes around here lately.  So what can you do to help change the atmosphere in the home?  Have a girls' day out!

The girls have been doing their chores very well, Anna was doing her school...with Bible lessons, church, etc., there hasn't been much time for down time.  Lina started teasing Eric that he had me locked in a prison - a very pretty, prison, though. ;)  Eric and I had been talking about the need for the girls and I to have some fun time together, so Tuesday morning before the kids got up, I presented my request to him.  He said yes!  After breakfast, I let Anna off of dishes duty and she immediately started school.  At 12 pm we jumped in our taxi and made our jailbreak.  Our destination?  The mall!  We had the entire day planned.

We started with lunch.  What did we HAVE to eat?  McDonalds. ;)  We haven't been doing so good on the diet lately.

Then we did something that Anna has been begging to do, which would be impossible with the boys...Ice skating!

I would skate with one girl a little, help her to the wall, then go back for the other.  Two young young ladies came over and offered to help.  The girls loved making new friends!  They were very curious and I was able to talk to them a little about why we are here then give them a tract before we left. 
This was the girls' first time ice skating and it has been almost 13 years for me (the last time was my first outing with Eric with his church).  I was dying to skate around.  Maybe I can get Eric to go out with me? ;)

Next, we stopped at a little station that paints nails and had our nails done - a first for us all.  The girls just had their nails trimmed and painted, I had mine scrubbed too.  I don't know how I managed to live this long without once having a manicure!  And it was like $12 for ALL of us!
While I was helping Lydia up to her seat on the other side, Anna picked a sparkly polish for one hand and a purple for the other.

Lydia picked a soft pink polish, like her dress.  Don't they look like they are just loving this time?

We used the remaining of our time just walking around, picking up coffee for papa and potty breaks.  We barely made it through the door before Daniel latched onto my leg.  I guess he missed me.  The girls are already planning the next break. ;)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Daniel is 1!

January 10th, 2012
One whole year, my sweet Daniel!  It hardly seems possible, and yet it seems like you have always been a part of our lives.  I love your cute, scrunchy nose smiles, the masculine way you crawl...though you don't do that much anymore, you're growing up so quickly!  I even love your messes.  Everyone blames you for everything - even when the tree fell with no one in the room, it was Daniel's fault.  You kinda did that to yourself, though, because most of the time it was you. ;)

You were thrilled when I came in to get you singing, "Happy Birthday".  The kids were excited too - until they came out and saw that the floor was not covered in balloons, nor was there even a banner.  Anna matter-a-factly told me, it couldn't be your birthday because of those important missing items.  I am sorry, poor Daniel.  I just could not locate them.  You did not notice though, you were too thrilled about the apple oatmeal muffins waiting for you.  Oh!  How excited you were!  I wish I had recorded it!

Following breakfast, we all got dressed and headed to the mall.  The kids had plans on what we should do, but Eric and I did not decide until we got there.  The mall has a big play center on the third floor.  We started by taking a little train ride.  You are so quiet in public that I am not sure what you thought.  I know what you thought of the play place - you insisted on being held, especially after I went down the slide with you, as you seriously watched all of the noisy boys running around.

Then we did it, we broke the diet and went to McDonalds.  You had your first chicken nuggets and fries.  That, I think, made your day.
We walked around for a little while, you sleeping comfortably amongst a soft bed of coats in the back of the cart, looking for a baby gate (nice birthday present, huh. hehe).  But, there was known to be found.  Everyone just looked at us like we were crazy.  Then, we bought cake AND ice cream - much to the delight of your brother and sisters- and headed home.  When we got home, I started looking for candles and found you a balloon!  How much fun you had!  While you were playing with it, I lit the candle and we all started singing.  You were like, "Oh.  That's nice."
"Now where's my balloon?"
Until Papa blew it out and you discovered...
IT SPARKS BACK UP!!! (Surprise for Mama too.)  How intently you stared, waiting for it to spark back up!
How poorly mama captured it, but your reaction was too priceless not to share.
Time to cut you your first piece.  Mama sat waiting and ready for you to dig in so she could get some cute, messy pictures.
We all waited...
and waited...
and waited...
but there was no way you were going to dig into that!  Papa decided to take matters into his own hands as all your siblings, were by now, dying to get a piece.  The spoon didn't even get fully into your mouth before you decided, it was not for you.
Sorry, buddy (Sammy's nickname for him).  We tried.  Guess we should have stuck with the Apple Oatmeal Muffins.  We decided to go ahead and give you your present so you had something to do while we enjoyed your birthday cake and ice cream (which you didn't like either).
Lydia moved her arm up, so your face is blocked, but I LOVE the open mouth.

Happy Birthday, my baby boy!  My daily prayer is that someday I'll be rejoicing over your second birth.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Story of Our Christmas Play

I must admit, I did not think that I would make it through it.  I have a tendency of getting myself in way above my head.  The children's bell choir was planned, but a Christmas play was not.  It had been on my mind and I was casually glancing through skits online.  We were now down to about 4 weeks, maybe 5, either way not much time.  Reading through them one in particular caught my attention.  It had such a powerful salvation message that I could not help but do it AND it only needed a few actors with an adult doing most of the talking.  Lina quickly translated it and we started practices.  They were interesting to say the least...the practices and the kids.

Let me begin with bell practice.  I had imagined them listening intently and ringing on key.  I mean, it is three 10 year old's and the other three were mine.  HA!  They were making their own melodies and harmonies, bells were in mouths, wiping noses (NOT by the younger ones either!)...Talking in Russian is hard enough without all of these distractions, not to mention that kids don't have the patience to wait while you try to explain yourself. ;)  Then there were the babooshka's singing a different melody to "help" the kids know what to do asking them questions right in the middle of a song.  If they stopped me and started talking, the boys would disappear within a second and I would have to go chase them down again.
 Our Cast :)

Now the skit.  Usually the practice consisted of me chasing down kids to get them to come for their part, trying to get them to be quiet enough so that the others could say their lines...  A lady, Olya, stayed to watch our practice the Sunday before our performance.  She and Eric were laughing the entire time, THEN asked if it was supposed to be serious or a comedy!

I approached this with my usual big dreams.  I had a folder of costumes I wanted to make, lists of things we needed (like a couch, HAHAHA) get the idea.  Well, we came down to 2 weeks of our play and I had just gotten back my sewing machine from Slavic.  He had needed it for his business.  But, my sewing machine is now having problems!  AHHH!  I started to get worried and stress over it.  It seemed like it was on my thoughts day and night.  How foolish of me!  I guess I didn't think God could take care of my little costume problem!  Eight days away from our play, I walked around the second hand store looking for some sweaters for the boys.  After we had already paid for them, I noticed some princess dresses on a stand.  The girls were SO excited.  There is another section that is cheaper so I decided to walk over there first to see if they had any princess dresses.  I'm sure you can guess what happened next, but I did not have a clue!  I was not looking for the Lord to provide or care for my worries, especially since they were such little ones.  There they were, 2 costumes that looked perfect for shepherds, one for Joseph and one that could work for an angel!  I was practically floating in air through the store!  I still needed a Mary costume, but WOW!  Look what the Lord had already done!  I then went back to the first section to get the princess costumes for the girls and EVEN MORE was waiting for me!  An even better angel costume, another shepherd costume AND A COSTUME FOR MARY!!!  What a blessing!  I am so thankful the Lord still blesses when I am leaning only on myself!
 The mom, son and daughter

Sunday morning we arrived at the church early, as planned.  Lina went over to Bogdan and Nikita's house to gather them, but Bogdan would not get out of bed!  As I was arranging to have Lina ring his bell, I turned around to see his mom walking into the door and Bogdan shoveling the pathway with the other boys!  Interesting start to our day. ;)
Our 'manger' scene characters...Max played both Joseph and Isaiah.  And I just noticed that Lydia has baby Jesus upside down...ooops!

Overall, the Lord really blessed.  The play moved pretty smoothly.  I was very proud of the kids.  They did a super job.  Nikita knew his lines perfectly and Anna did a good job with her lines too.  But the one who stole the show was Daniel.  He was a little 'lamb' in a basket at the manger scene while the kids sang 'Angels We have Heard on High'.  Everyone started laughing and I looked down to see our little lamb swaying back and forth in his basket to the song!  I about died {from laughter}!  He was just too cute!  And Joseph ended up moving so the lamb was front and center, between Joseph and Mary.  Lina and I ended the skit by singing the song by Ron Hamilton about long ago in Bethlehem.  It summed up our play perfectly.  We decided to sing it only the week before.  I was desiring to do parts, but we ended up singing it together...which is good since I had been moving at high speed the entire time and had a hard time slowing down.  Add to that, I was SO nervous that I could hardly get my lines out correctly at the beginning!  At the end, two ladies were crying (one left the building).  I am not sure if it had to do with the message of the play or not, but we are praying for their salvation.  Also, Bogdan and Nikita's mom came to the play too.  For those who have been praying for our Christmas play, thank you so much!  We tried to video tape it for you guys, but our 'video man' didn't get the whole play.  He's learning so we'll get there.  Because of the video camera, Bogdan left saying he was a movie star now. ;)
Nastia, a young lady who we are doing Bible lessons with.  Also one of the ones crying at the end of the service.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

New Year's Eve Service

Kisses for Lina

Wow!  I can hardly believe we got through the past few weeks!  We had a nice Christmas, which I'll share with you later, then started preparing for our New Year's Eve service.  I don't remember exactly how many people came, but we had over 20.  After the message, we started the evening off with sparklers while the men cooked the shashlik {grilled chicken}.  The kids {and the adults} were very excited.   

They ended up moving over by the men cooking and were quickly  shooed away.

Everyone made SO much food!  This was SUCH a huge blessing for me!  I didn't have to make ANYTHING!  We provided the chicken and some supplies, but another lady wanted to make the cake and salads.  I love to cook, but some days the extra work is just too much for me.

After the meal, the kids played some games.  They had a lot of fun and I think some of the adults wanted to join them. ;)
Bogdan with Anna at the top.  Nikita, Max and Sammy in the bottom photo.

Most of the people attending are not saved.  Right now, Eric is doing Bible lessons with three different people and possibly will be doing another one soon.  He has started doing them at the house, which I have really enjoyed, even if it means more work for me with preparing meals, keeping the kids quiet and some times skipping naps. {That's a sacrifice! ;)} 

This young man's name is Serioza.  He does not come to every service but comes occasionally (or frequently?  not sure how to classify his visits).  He really enjoys the company, but we are not sure how interested he is.

This man with Daniel is Ruselan, the man Eric did Bible lessons with in the prison and also Bogdan and Nikita's dad.  Although he lives pretty close to the church, he has only attended a few services.

This is Bogdan and Nikita's mom, Katia.  She is extremely friendly and has asked to meet with us to talk about salvation.  She recently got a new job and says she still wants to meet with us, just when she has more time.  She also came today for our Christmas service (I'll explain about that later), which we were very excited about.  She is very friendly and seems to get along with everyone well.  She loves the kids.  Pray that God will open her eyes to her need of salvation.   

There is much to catch you up on, people to introduce you to, but I will try not to overwhelm you with it all at once.  Thank you all for your prayers!


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