Saturday, August 28, 2010


I learned in Alaska that for the adoring Aunt, there's nothing like a blog for bragging.
So without further ado, here I go.

Entering the ungainly years when soon pants and ankles will meet halfway, but still--beyond a doubt-- adorable. Terribly smart too. (And still cuddles his auntie!)

Can you see them in the picture? These freckles drive me nuts, they're so cute! And Dasha is a delightfully sunny, affectionate girlie.

The loving, slender little princess who tells me "I will miss you when you go away. You are the joy giver." She is unbelievably sweet.

Loves to be called her baby nickname, the little burunduk (chipmunk). Fun-loving and bouncy and she still has that raspy voice. :)

Quieter than her siblings... she loves to catch your eye and smile (just like she's doing in the picture). The littlest Sobie is a chubby package of cuteness!

Oksana and her amazing cooking...! She made us a delicious dinner of Russian soup and varieniky (Russian perogies). Sooo-ho-ho good!

I bought a tie-dye kit to make matching shirts with the kids! We had a lot of fun making them and they turned out great. I haven't taken a picture with everybody in it yet, but here's one of David and I in our groovy new duds:

The children do amazingly on the bells! They play both Russian and American songs beautifully. Many churches call to ask them to come and play for services. Here they are, practicing with Papa.
...But not all of them practice. Damara's not quite ready for bells so she cheers them on from the sidelines.

The is the wrapping job I got from Dr. Eyebrows.
For some reason I liked it so I took a picture.
For some reason I liked the picture so I'm sharing it with you.
It might have something to do with garnering sympathy but I'm not going to analyze.

My brother is a FIRST RATE teacher! I loved watching him teach English at a college in Zap. one evening. His students obviously adore him and even I enjoyed the lesson! As in everything else he does, he is a dynamic, energetic, wholehearted, and very personable teacher.

He also makes delicious all-you-can-eat blini.
Worth coming to Ukraine just for THAT.

Hope you enjoyed some snapshots of life in Ukraine! Thanks for stopping in. :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Vava pt. 2

Sheila Sheila!!!! Lol!

Went to the doc (who we discovered is an elderly retired doctor in a tiny flat) and I won't go into all the details but it was quite an experience. He was a dear old fellow whose flat smelled of onions and who had the bushiest eyebrows which constantly distracted me.

Also, he was refreshingly un-American in his medical ways! Sterilized his instruments over a flame, for instance. Nor did he make me sign one, not ONE, medical waver or insurance form. When can you get that kind of quaintness in America I ask you!?

He didn't seemed as concerned as my American doctor friends were (time will tell whether that bodes good or ill for me, heh!). He snipped off the dead skin and put some strange dark blue concoction on it which he said consisted of glycerine, German crystals, and silver. He game me a small bottle of it with strict instructions to apply twice daily and keep away from any water with that hand.

Strange procedure, but actually the thing is looking and feeling MUCH better tonight! I'm so grateful and I will credit time, prayers, and... well maybe even my Ukrainian doc for the improvement.

It looks like amputation, after all, may be delayed. Whew.

My Vava

"Vava" is what the kids call a boo-boo. And I have one! Scott's driving me to the doctor in Zaparoshia (not sure how you spell that one) to get a spot on my hand checked. It started about a week ago as just a few bumps but now it's a big yucky wound, getting larger, and some doctor friends of ours that we sent a picture of it to thought I should get it tested instead of waiting until we're back in the States. Nothing much to worry about (don't flip out, Grandma!) but I would appreciate your prayer that the doctor in Zap would diagnose it correctly and help us get it taken care of. :)
Thanks much!
And I'll try to update this evening- if we don't get back too late- with pictures of the little darlings who are such a JOY to be with!!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

We are here, in Ukraine! :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Waiting at the airport

This is bound to be a somewhat random breakfast post from Logan International Airport. I am just sittin' around waiting for my parents to arrive so I figured I'd post, if only with the intention of looking to passerbys like an intelligent business sort of woman working on her Mac (ohhh looks can be SO deceiving!)
I got breakfast at Dunkin' Doughnuts and I will not tell you WHAT I got, because I always get a little annoyed when bloggers assume that their readers care about that sort of minutia of their life, but I will mention that the "egg" in my bagel greatly amused me. Aside from a bit of yellow coloring, the Dunkin' Dudes had done nothing whatsoever to make that particular piece of limp flabbiness look or taste even remotely like an egg. Regardless, I still enjoyed my breakfast a ton! :) (And wait a minute; did I just describe the minutia of it!? Yikes! I'm slipping!)
A baggage man or janitor, or other employee of some sort just passed me by, and as I looked up at him I gave him a smile. He in turn looked dourly at me as if he knew some disapproving secret about me. I'm wracking my brain. Could he possible know that I left my English-Russian dictionary at home, or that I didn't make my bed until evening a few days ago, or (horrors!) that I didn't read the Terms of Agreement on my iTunes account but clicked that I had!? I did give him a nice smile and I think he probably wishes he had smiled back. I also think I'm giving too much thought to the grumpy baggage man so I'll move on.
Another observation from this airport:
Does anyone really enjoy this jazzy elevator music!? The melody line (or lack thereof) combined with random percussion makes it sound as if the entire orchestra is falling down a gigantic set of stairs, but still determined to keep playing as they tumble. Even the pianist sounds as if his seat is at a great slant and he's desperately clutching at the keys with twitching fingers in order to keep from hurtling off.

And, a final benediction: bless all the airports who have free WiFi!! :)

As you can see I've got way too much time on my hands right now, but wow I'm excited about this trip!
Love to all,

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


See that lovely family above? I'm going to be with them in a matter of days! This is my brother Scott, sister Oksana, and my other five nieces and nephew: David, Dasha, Diana, Dalina, and Damara! They live in Ukraine and God has opened the door for me to go and see them for a few weeks with my parents. I'm so excited; it's been close to three years! I can't even imagine how changed the children will be from what I remember; it will probably be a bit of a shock at first. I'm anticipating getting some serious "Auntie Time" in, though, and I hope to love on 'em every minute I can.
Mom and Dad will meet me in the Boston airport (where, incidentally, Mr. and Mrs. Gren will be leaving on the same day on a flight to California) and from there we'll hit London for two days, then on to Kiev where we'll meet Scott (teaching at a Bible School there right now) and he'll accompany us on an overnight train ride to their region of Ukraine.
Sounds like an adventure, doesn't it?
I'm always game for an adventure.
(Particularly those involving a new stamp in my passport and nieces and nephews.) :) So...

Via Con Dias, My Darlin'!

...Er actually that's what you should be saying to me, but I have that song in my mind so out it came.

Monday, August 09, 2010

The Weed: an allegory

Not terribly original, perhaps, but doing some yard work around here supplied me with some thoughts. I couldn't help but see some parallels to life in the story of one of the little gardens in the terraced yard.

Once there was a little garden plot on a hill overlooking the sea. It was a productive garden of young plants. Nearly every day a Girl would come and water the ground, and the sun would rise and smile on the plot throughout most of the day. Tiny tomato, pepper varieties, basil, garlic, and parsley plants began to grow in the rich soil. They were kept free from grass encroachment by a tall stone barrier. The crowning glory of the pot was a strip of fragrant Bee Balm flowers, nodding at the sea as the wind would gently nudge them. Every day hummingbirds were drawn to the little plot by the crimson flowers, and they'd dance above the basil and tomatoes, happily licking the nectar.
Time passed, and with Girl's watering, the sun's smiling, and the sea's gentle breeze, the pants began to grow taller until they passed the stone barrier in height and enjoyed their first view of the sparkling waters of the cove beyond. Occasionally, Girl would come with a trowel and dig around the plants, plucking out the few intruder weeds that had somehow crossed the stone barrier and audaciously taken up residence among the tenants of the plot. Most of the weeds were easily visible; spindly little creatures that grew at random spots beneath the valid plants, and didn't even have enough sense to plant themselves in the sunlight. Instead they clustered cowardly around the base of the tomatoes and Bee Balm, as if hiding beneath their leaves would perhaps conceal their identity from Girl for a few days longer and give them a chance at life. Girl was careful, though, and most weeds, no matter how small and no matter how cowardly, were discovered and plucked by her unsympathetic hand...then banished to the white bucket. From there, they were dumped into a mass grave of weeds, sticks, and other such things so offensive to gardeners and their plots.
One day a little Weed seed arrived to the plot. (How it survived a journey over the stone wall and into the plot is anyone's guess. Did the wind carry it? Was it brought on an animal's paw or dropped by a bird? The silent appearance of such weeds is a mystery in and of itself.) This Weed seems to have been a particularly smart one, for instead of picking a cowardly spot beneath the leaves of the basil, it dropped itself strategically smack-dab in the middle of the rectangular plot. Therefore, it took root in the center of the Bee Balm. Girl missed it among the thick crimson flowers when it was tiny, but finally came upon it one day when it was in its adolescence. Surely it must have stiffened as her hand reached dangerously close to pluck it, and then faltered. Hmm... maybe this plant isn't a weed. After all, it's growing an such a symetrical place; it fits so well where it is. Maybe it's just another flower I never noticed. Girl decided to ask the head gardener about the unrecognized plant, but forgot to do so until the next watering. By this time, Weed had grown to a dignified height and could see over the rock wall to the sea. It enjoyed it's little plot and had a diabolical plan of its own to take over more and more space therein. Maybe settle down; have a family; spawn some grandweeds. Girl faltered again when she came upon Weed. It looked different from any flower she'd ever seen, but it was flourishing so well and growing so tall. Maybe it was a flower after all. It seems so at home there among the Bee Balm...
The day came when Head Gardener himself came to look over his plots. Carefully he strung up the heavily laden tomato plants, checked the peppers for ripeness and admired the heighth of the basil. He stopped, though, when he saw a tall, foreign plant sticking its head haughtily above the Bee Balm. What on earth...? Stooping for a closer look, he shook his head incredulously. This weed had grown bigger than any of the other plants in the plot. Not only was it tall, it was wide. It's tenuous arms spread as if to engulf the Bee Balm and clutch the vegetables on either side. And, worst of all, it was beginning to seed.
Slowly, Head Gardener began to pull Weed from the base. Weed hung on with all its might and refused, at first, to be lifted from the ground. What a struggle! hearing the death toll, Weed grasped desperately at the plants on either side of it, determined to lose no footing in this perfect little plot of land. Head Gardener was persistent, though, and soon an enormous root system emerged from the deep. Weed, reluctantly admitting defeat, was carried away by girl to the mass grave. Before Girl threw Weed to its death, she held it out and gazed at it incredulously. How had she missed this weed at first? And then, how had she justified its existence in the plot? How had it grown to such an unbelievable size? And finally, how large would it have grown if the Head Gardener hadn't uprooted it? Now there was a gaping hole scaring the land right in the middle of the plot, and though it would soon cover itself back over with loose dirt, the Bee Balm wouldn't grow there until next year. Not only that, but as girl threw Weed into the mass grave with a frown (as if it's grasping roots just might reach out and seize herself!), she noticed a crimson flower whose own roots were tangled and grasped in one if Weed's tentacle-like roots. At least one flower had been sacrificed in the struggle to remove Weed.
She started back towards the plot, and as she walked, she smoothed the wrinkles in her crimson dress and contemplating her own life.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Fun with Ginny :)

Elisabeth's younger sister, Ginny, lives nearby and I've liked getting to know her a bit. We share several things in common such as a love for animals, music, and traveling.

We went over to Ginny's home a few days ago and had a singing time. Elisabeth loves music; was once a proficient pianist, and loves to sing. She's got a beautiful, clear, strong soprano voice. We sang some hymns together, which Elisabeth joined in with relish (which is to say, she enjoyed it. Not that she brought a pickle condiment to the music room. Just sayin'.) Elisabeth always seems to like the hymn And Can It Be the most. She nails the high note in the chorus! :)

Also, Ginny and I played around with some of the lovely oldies like You'll Never Walk Alone, Moonlight Serenade and Stardust. Some of my favorites! What an enjoyable time.

Today Ginny invited me to join her at the stables where she keeps her horse, Big Chief. Aptly named. He's huge. And gentle and lovable and beautiful!

It's been so long since I've ridden, and I enjoyed every moment of it! (I know, I know, some of you are even now remembering my last attempt at riding. You're remembering me sprawled on the ground. The broken cinch. The horse running off into the woods. But truly; this wasn't like that okay!?)

Ginny and Chiefie- a lovely pair

Big Chief emboldened me by forcing me into my first jump. I was wanting to attempt a jump but well, he's a rather high fellow (17 hands) and I lost courage. And then I realized that we were galloping towards one and whether I wanted to or not HE was intending to fly over it, so I'd better hang on. He did, and I did, and I can now say that I have JUMPED a horse (or rather, as Ginny says, that he jumped me!) :)

Thanks for a lovely time, Ginny.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Misc. Cove happenings

Our days have filled with people. We've had almost nonstop visitors for the past few weeks, and today is a bit of a breather. No guests; just work around the house and yard! When I wake up in the morning and Mr. Gren tells me that we've got company for breakfast, then a few more coming for lunch... I feel a little overwhelmed. But then our guests step through the door and I find myself meeting such beautiful people. From Texas, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Kansas... I can't even remember all of the places these new friends of mine are from, but each other them has been so engaging and kind. We all share the same admiration for the dear lady who, as I type, sits dozing in the sun on her wicker chair. (She's got a little smile on her face and I wonder what's she's thinking or dreaming!) Nearly all of the women who have come to see Miss Elisabeth tell her with tears that she has been a friend to them; a spiritual mother who, even though they never knew her personally, seemed to give them daily wisdom and guidance through her radio program or her books. I wonder, if I could count the number of people on whom she has had an impact, how many there would be?

I've been reading a little in quite a few books lately. Every day I read in Daily Light, which is a collection of Scripture portions compiled for morning and evening reading in the 1800's. It sits handily on the kitchen table here and is a tiny battered black leather volume. The inside cover has printed in it, "Marks on cover show where crickets chewed when we lived in a house without walls". I'm also laboring my way through Dicken's Great Expectations ("laboring" not because I don't enjoy it, but because I keep misplacing it or forgetting about it), and Elisabeth's book These Strange Ashes. (Why do I always try to read so many books at one time? I have no idea. But I think it's the way I'll always be!)

Lately, I've been dreaming about little Caleb. In my sleep, I hold him and he's always so chubby and smiling. Last night I kissed him all over his face and It was wonderful, but I kept thinking that it wasn't quite the same because I wasn't catching that amazing baby lotion smell. :) Then, I woke up and realized that it had been a dream, and my heart swelled with futile longing and my arms ached to hold him. Its hard to go cold turkey without 5 little ones when you've been their "other" Mamma for the year.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

I'm delighted!

I am laughing SO hard! I just discovered something!!
In fact, I can't remember the last time a youtube video delighted me as much as these did.
Anyone who knows me well knows that this is just...well... me! :)
Man, I'm just going to post all of these right here on my blog. Can you watch these without laughing!?
Sooo, anyone want to make a musical with me?