Sunday, January 31, 2010

Travels and Traveling in Urkaine

Over the holidays, we traveled to Kiev to take my parents to the airport. We stayed a few days in Kiev with them, as well, to show them the city. My boys are AWESOME travelers. We’ve traveled by train a lot around Ukraine, so they are used to the routine. There are two, daily express trains to Kiev from Kharkov (and vice versa): the morning express goes from 6:30am-12:30pm, and the evening express is from 4:30pm-10:30pm.

I love traveling by train! When the boys and I traveled to see Dougle while he was in Kiev, we discovered First Class. In First Class, you have the option to travel in a semi-private compartment with 3 seats or with 6 seats. The door is a glass door, that leads to a long hall that travels the length of the train. Bathrooms are on one end, though I hate using the train bathrooms. Most of the time, they are VERY gross! But, you can often see the train tracks from the drain in the bathroom floor. In Second Class, it is like air travel. There are just rows of about 30 seats per car. With children, it is wonderful to have a compartment to yourselves, so they can be a little louder and won’t bother everyone and where there is a little extra leg room (for Canaan to walk around) and a small table. If we travel overnight or on a long journey (usually over 12 hours in length), you can travel in several classes. One is in a community car with many bunk beds. Another way is in a compartment with two bunk beds (4 beds). We have always traveled in the compartment. I am including a picture of it, as well, for you to see the various train cars we travel.

Snow Days

It was VERY cold when my parents first arrived in Kharkov. In fact, the first week they were here, it was the coldest it had been up until that time! The temperatures got down to -4 degrees F! It snowed a few times, and we all enjoyed (or did our best to enjoy) all the cold weather. We had a few fun times out and walking around. Here are some pictures of us enjoying the great, snowy, cold, outdoors!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Father Frost and Snow Maiden

Catching up! There are several blog posts I am doing with lots of photos from around the holidays that I am just now getting around to posting! So, in the next 3 days, I will be uploading MANY pictures and doing a few posts!

We were in Kiev on the Russian Christmas Eve: February 6th. We were near the center where they had a big Christmas tree and a Ded Marroz (Father Frost), and his granddaughter, Snegurochka (Sn0w Maiden). We got a picture of them with Max, since Canaan was too scared too have his picture taken with them. Can you imagine this being your job? Standing out in the snow and cold all day? Don't worry, we paid well for this picture! :)

Father Frost, here in Ukraine, is the Santa figure. He is dressed in red or blue and is accompanied by his granddaughter, Snegurochka. She is from a Russian fairy tale of an old couple who had no children. One day, they built a snow-woman (here in Ukraine they are snow-women, not snowmen). Their snow-woman transformed into a little girl. She lived with the couple, as their daughter, throughout the winter months. There are several variations of the story, including one, where she falls in love with a human boy, but melts when she steps out into the sun’s rays to see him.


Kiev is beautiful. It has been the capitol of Ukraine since 1934 (before then, Kharkov was Ukraine’s capitol). Kiev is a lot like Moscow in many ways: it is a very internationally diverse city, modern, it is well kept and beautified, etc. Anyway, we went to Kiev with my parents. I had wanted to take them around Kiev to show them a little bit of it, since there are more interesting things around Kiev, than around Kharkov. However, I failed to take into account 2 things.

  1. It is winter and COLD. And there was actually a very big snowstorm while we were there, which grounded all flights. For this reason my parents’ flight was delayed a full 24 hours.
  2. We were all tired after a big holidays.

So, instead, we just spent 2 days enjoying each other’s company inside the church apartment in Kiev. We played games, read, played with the kids, etc. We did get out to see the center and eat at TGI Friday’s (which is a MUST DO when we are in Kiev, since the only other American restaurant we have in Ukraine is McDonalds!). In addition, Liv, my parents and I went down to the souvenir road in Kiev and browsed the selection. We don’t get quite the variety of touristy, yet very traditional, items in Kharkov. However, I think we about froze my poor mother to death. In addition, my parents also babysat for us one morning and Liv, Dave, Dougle and I went out for a brunch and one last time without kids, while they had one last time with just the kids. I LOVE GRANDPARENTS! :)

Our time was great together and it was really nice having those few days where it was just our family. Here are some pictures of us in Kiev. Mom is eating a traditional Ukrainian soup out of a bread bowl in one of the pictures. Not only was it cool looking, but it was great tasting! Another is of some really LONG icicles hanging from a building in Kiev; the men up there were trying to take them off-they had the area underneath them roped off so no one would get hurt from a falling icicle)! There is also a picture of some of the snow we got the night before my parents were supposed to leave. Another is of Dad carrying Canaan, which he did frequently, and in the snow. That is quite a feat, trudging through the slush and snow!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Canaan Singing in Russian

So, here is another video! It is of Canaan singing in Russian. He is singing the chorus to Here I Am to Worship, in Russian. At the beginning, he asks me to turn the camera on, and in the middle, he asks if I have turned off the video yet or not. Otherwise, he is singing, very excitedly, because I told him he could watch the video if he sang for me. And he LOVES to watch himself of video!

Canaan often sings songs during the day, and more often than not, he is singing in Russian. He picks up on the songs from our Sundays with the church; we have two worship times: one in English and another in Russian. This is where he learns the church songs. His favorite children's song at the moment is This Little Light of Mine, his favorite church song in English is still King of Kings (that is what he calls the song We Will Glorify), and his favorite song to sing in Russian is Blogaslavityea Gospoda, which has no English equivalent that I know of.

During our times with the church, Canaan is so good about sitting and singing when we sing, and praying when we pray. We let him read his children's Bible or other books during the sermon, but he must sit still and be quiet. He usually does a great job of this and is a great example for his little brother Max, who is just now having to learn how to be quiet and sit still. Not only is it a great time for them to learn how to sing and pray, but they are also learning how to control themselves and keep quiet, a skill that they will need all their life!

Of course, Canaan's favorite part of Sunday time is Bible Class. He and Malachi and Silas all jump up after the final prayer and exclaim, "It is time for Bible Class!!!" They love singing kids songs, listening to the story, and doing their craft.

Thank You Note

Canaan has been writing some thank you notes recently for all the Christmas gifts he received. (So, if you sent him a gift, your thank you note is probably in the mail!) Anyway, the other day, he received two bleated gifts. While he was painting a picture (paints was one gift), I asked him if he wanted to paint a thank you note. He declined, and I decided not to push it at that moment. But later that day, he was drawing on a white board we'd had set up for an English lesson and he told me it was an 'e-mail' he was writing to thank Aunt Carol. So I got out the video camera to record what he had to say about it. Here it is. Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Sweet Thank You

Right before Christmas, we received this package in the mail. Each person on our team received a hand-made note from the Bible class. They even wrote a bit in Russian and signed their names in English and Russian! Thank you so much for your encouragement!
These are the notes for Dougle, Lucy, Canaan and Max.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Out of the Mouth

So, most of this is going to be funny stuff. However, it happened. Just yesterday, Canaan told Dougle he didn't like him. He was in trouble with Dad and didn't appreciate his punishment. This morning, he was in trouble with me. After several spankings, he told me he didn't like me, but he wanted to be with Daddy. :( I guess being a good mom sometimes means that I won't be liked by my child all the time. I just want to be okay with this, knowing that he will one day thank me for it, as I do with my mom!

Ok, here is the funny stuff.

Canaan: I won't help you again! (after I made him throw away one of Max's diapers)
Mom: Is that a nice way to talk to Mommy?
Canaan (completely serious): Nope. May I not help you again, please?

Canaan: What time is it?
Mom: Nine O Two.
Canaan: That's not an O (letter), that's a Zero!

Gran-Nan: Do I need to comb my hair?
Canaan: Yes, because it is short. You need to get it little like ours!

After Canaan saw a man run to get on the subway, but missed the train.
Gran-Dad: Don't worry, he'll catch another train.
Canaan: Gran-Dad, we call this the metro!

We are having Canaan ask to get up from the table after he is finished eating.
Canaan: May I get up now?
Dad: Are you finished eating?
Canaan: Yeah. Possibly.

Canaan: I am combing my hair, because it looks dangerous!

Dad: Canaan, hurry up! (picking up his toys)
Canaan: I can't. I'm slow.

Eating with Silas, Canaan meant to tell him they were 'bread buddies' because they were eating bread together. Instead he said to Silas: "We're buddy breads!"

Canaan was playing trains with Malachi. His train was speaking to Chi's train. I really don't know where he got this!!
Canaan: Promise me, (dramatic pause), when I come out of the garage (his train), I will get to see you!

After Dougle told him to clean up all his boo
Dougle: Canaan, obey me.
Canaan: I am just thinking of how to put them away.

After laying the boys down for bed, Dougle had to go back in to settle them down.
Dad: Canaan, don't talk to Max in bed.
Canaan: But sometimes he talks to me!!

After Mommy and Auntie both told Canaan 'no' about something he wanted, he thought for a while and then said, "Mommy, 'no' is not very nice!"

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Made With Love

This Christmas, my mom gave me the sweetest, most wonderful present! She hand sewed a quilt for me, using old material scraps she had from sewing me clothes while I was growing up! Beautiful and precious, filled with lots of memories! Some of the material came from a little shorts/shirt outfit she made me when I was 4 yrs old (I think); some came from a Thomas the Tank Engine pillowcase she made for Canaan when we visited for furlough last May. Other scraps of material I recognize are from aprons we made together, choir dresses she made for Liv and I, an Easter dress when I was in grade-school, pillows she sewed for my bed when I was a little girl, a Chinese-looking shirt she made me after I graduated, a vest she stitched, and a jacket she made for me.

The older I get, the more sentimental I become too. I know this gift took a lot of time and effort, and that she worked hard to be able to get it to me this Christmas, since we didn't have a bed spread that fit our bed properly. And seeing the memories she put in there, of other things she's sewed me, in addition to some needlework, makes it even more special. In a time where everyone is so busy, where home-cooked meals are less common and where home-made gifts are rarer, it makes this gift even more dear to me. I know this quilt will be something I'll treasure for years and years, and one I will pass down to one of my boys (or their wives), to pass down from there.

However, the best gift my mom ever gave, and continues to give, is the gift of a loving home and family. Raising me, she didn't follow the cultural norms all the time-or most of the time! She didn't search for other's approval and support of her methods of child rearing and discipline. She didn't do things so that I'd like her and think of her as my best friend (growing up). And because of that, she is my best friend now.
My mom didn't encourage me to do things that would make me more popular, but to always put God first in everything, especially when it was a hard decision and cost me in the world's opinion. She didn't push me to make something wonderful and successful of myself in the world's eyes, but to be a person who could make a difference- even a small one- in other's lives. My mom sought to do what was best for my spirit and my eternal soul. She taught me about God's love, and how to love others, as He loved us. And for that I am deeply grateful. When I wanted to go to AIM and do mission work, she didn't try to scare me or gently suggest other 'good' things; she supported me, emotionally and financially, to get me where I wanted to go, doing what I wanted to do. And when things got tough, she didn't encourage me to come home and try something different (because she really would have prefered I do something closer to home); instead, she challenged me to persevere through the hard times. Then when I took her only grandchild to the other side of the world, she loved me still! She works so that she can save money to fly half way across the world and visit, even though the climate isn't the nicest and the food is not the best! (Maybe one day we'll meet somewhere 'cool!')
In a way, I guess I compare my Mom's gift of this quilt, to the gift of a good home and Godly upbringing. It isn't a gift of something that is popular or a la mode. It doesn't make my life more convenient or easy, and won't help me get rich. But when the nights are cold, I have something warm to snuggle under, and when the days are dreary and filled with things so unfamiliar to home, this quilt is something familiar and close to my heart. It is a gift of time and love, not a gift of money or a quick purchase. It was thought out in advance and filled with memories. I want to be more like my mom in many ways. And now, each day, I am reminded of how blessed I am to have her as my mom. Thank you, Mom . . . for everything!

PS. I know my mom would want me to say, and I want to say it to: Thank you to my Uncle Tim and Aunt Susie who put it together for us. They were able to get it done quickly and expertly, putting echo stitching on it and everything! Thank you, too!