How are the Kidlets?

It’s spring break!  Hip hip hurray!!!!  We’ve had such a great week.  We homeschoolers aren’t used to this “getting out of our jammies before 10am” thing.  School is brutal to our lazy morning routine!  But, slowly and surely we are learning.  This week of free play and jammie time has been just what the doctor ordered.  Woot!

So, how are the kidlets?  You’ve been asking and it blesses my heart that so many people love our kids.  I mean, I know they’re pretty fab, but nothing lights me up more than when other people care about my kids.  (Doing the dishes for me comes in as a close second, for future reference)  I would say the kids are doing pretty great.

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My Love

Addy is loving school.  I’m not surprised.  She’s basically my Mini-Me and I LOVED school, all the way through college I loved it.  I loved the friends, the food, the friends…and more time with friends.  Addy is a social butterfly, so she really enjoys her time at school.  She’s made couple of little friends and wakes up each day ready to go.  She’s still doing gymnastics twice a week and also really enjoys that.  Probably her favorite time of the day though, is when all the kids go to bed and she can read with her flashlight.  Addy is a total book-lover.  She always has been.  She doesn’t get as much free-reading time now that she spends her mornings in school, so we let her basically read for as long as she wants at night.  She finished the Anne of Green Gables series a couple weeks back and just informed me that she’s now moved on to Shakespeare.  Ha!  She reads a version of Shakespeare that has been put more in a story form for kids.  Here’s the version, if you’re interested:

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Handsome school boy

Ez Pez.  Oh, my Ez Pez.  Sweet little boy.  School’s a bit harder for Ezra, but he still says he enjoys it.  He would prefer to stay home and Lego it up all day, but alas, he’s learning that he does have some responsibilities in this world.  🙂  He always comes home from school excited about his time and eager to tell me all about it.  I choose to take that as a good sign.  He hasn’t made much progress in the friend department yet, but I think that’s maybe a boy thing.  I wouldn’t know, being a girl and all.  😉 He loves his sister and honestly, if he has Addy he is content as can be.  The two of them have their moments, but in general they are closer than they’ve ever been.  They are each others’ best friend- though they would never admit it!  Hehe.  Ezra is probably the most confident at language out of all the kids and we hear from others that his accent’s not half bad!  Sweeeet.  He has such a tender heart and I’ve noticed lately that when we share with the kids about Romaniv he really takes it to heart.  He thinks about it and it affects him.  I’m so proud of him.

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Big Boy!

Havalah and Seth are doing awesome. They are still so young, they seem to have barely noticed that we don’t live in the US anymore!  Kidding…sort of.  Seth is getting so big!  He’s grown out of his 4T clothes and he won’t be 4 until June.  He is so tall!!!  He’s talking a ton and his personality is coming out more and more.  We celebrated his Adoption Day last week.  I was again reminded of how amazingly blessed we are to be his parents.  He could not be a better fit in this family.  I really can not imagine what our lives would be like if we had said no to the DHS phone call that day in 2010.  Havalah remains a teeny tiny firecracker.  Oh my word.  That girl has got so much personality!  She goes about town, leaving swooning Babushkas in her wake.  Half of Zhytomyr is in love with Havalah.  Ha!  She is thriving and is content to spend most of her waking hours playing make-believe with her Playmobils.  Hava brings unbelievable joy to our home.

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School has been quite the adventure!  I guess that’s the best way to describe it.  It’s actually been less of an adjustment than I would have imagined.  The kids like to go and are happy when we see them at the end of the school time each day.  Their teacher doesn’t speak English and communicates with us by note.  She’ll write notes in this little book and then I go home and spend the next 45 minutes trying to decipher her handwriting so I can translate the note.  Ha!  She thinks the kids are doing great and in one note she said to “Please thank the tutor who helps the children with their homework.”  Ummmm, what tutor?  I wish! This Mommy and Daddy are the tutors around this joint!  Homework is a family affair each night as Jed and I bust out our phones to translate the homework assignment.  Painful with a capital P.

On March 8th we celebrated International Women’s Day at the school and the kids each had to memorize a poem to recite for all the moms.  They were given the poems on Monday to be memorized by Friday!!!  Panic ensued as we frantically translated and rehearsed and stumbled and cried.  But, by Friday our whole family knew both of the poems and Addy and Ezra rocked it.  They did SO AWESOME.  I think when I was sitting there listening to them recite their poems I was the most proud of them I have ever been.  They are just so stinkin’ brave.  Really.

They say they don’t understand what their teacher says, but they are doing well in school, so I think they must understand more than they realize.  They still can’t say much at all in Ukrainian.  My friend Alexis, who encourages me by email about language (thank you!!!), says that everyone who is learning a new language has a “silent phase”.  In that phase you may not be able to produce spoken language, but you are still learning.  I think our whole family is in one big “Silent Phase”.  Alexis said she spoke to a man who moved his family to Japan and put his kids in Japanese school.  He said it took about 6 months and then they really took off.  I’ve heard many language promises that point to that 6 month mark.  Oh please Lord, let it be so!  🙂  Addy and Ez write beautifully in Ukrainian and can read, they just don’t know what they’re reading and writing.  But, all in good time.  Step by step.

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It’s not all lollipops and roses.  The kids have their hard days, for sure.  They miss their friends and cousins.  They miss Grandparents and church and English.  On a rare occasion one of them will mention that they wish we could go back to Salem, but it’s not something they dwell on.  Even Jed and I have our lonely times when we think how much easier it would seem to just go back, but that’s not every moment.  Same with the kids.  They are being stretched and challenged for sure.  I wish I had someone to talk to who has “been there done that”.  I have no idea how to parent through all this transition, and in a second culture.  Still, the kids are happy and thriving in so many ways.  They are so brave and we trust that God knew what He was doing when He made each of them how He did.  They were made for this, just like Jed and me.  I’m so proud of them I could burst.

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In fact, I’m so proud I just have to show them off a bit.  Here’s some video lovin’ for your enjoyment.  Thanks so much all of you who love my babies and pray for them.  It means the world to us!!

And just for fun, here are Hava’s outtakes. Enjoy the silliness!


Switzerland Adventure Day 2

Yesterday was such a great day! A little stress, a little food, a lot of fun.


We started out the day bright and early with breakfast at our little Bed and Breakfast. I can't say enough about the place we stayed. It was just perfect! Clean, fresh, bright, super friendly owner, a five minute walk from the train station, walking distance to the embassy, and about half the price of a hotel in Bern. The owner graciously let us keep our bags there all day till we left on the train in the afternoon, so that was great!


We knew the embassy was only open from 9-12 on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, so we were determined to be first in line since we only allowed ourselves 2 embassy days in country.

With google map picture in hand we headed on our way!

We took a little funicular down the hill from Parliament.

Along the way...

Purty, isn't it?

The funny thing is, we waaaay overestimated how long it would take us to arrive at the embassy and we got there at 8:13! Yeah, they didn't open till 9:00. Ha! Better early than late! When the embassy staff arrived they looked at us like we were crazy people. Yeah, we're those crazy Americans who are so excited about Ukraine we arrive at the embassy when it's still dark out! 🙂

Wow! It's so busy! Good thing we got up at the crack of dawn! 😉

All our paperwork was in order and the visas applications and loads of documents were handed over. We then had to walk to a bank over by Parliament to pay for the visas and return to the embassy with our receipt. We didn't realize we had to pay for the visas with cash and just BARELY scraped up enough cash to pay. That was a nail-biter folks! Apparently the people we heard of who had their visas done in just 2 hours either got really lucky, or they paid to expedite them and we just didn't know that part. In order to have our visas done in time for our return flight to Ukraine on Tuesday we had to pay double and expedite them. Ouch! But, when you figure in how expensive it is just to eat and sleep here, it's actually less expensive to pay the expedite fee. So, we chose the lesser of two evils and our visas should be ready for pickup on Monday at 11:30! Pray that is the case! Thanks.

After the visa stuff was done for the day we had about 3 hours to kill before we would leave on the train to head to a town about 40 minutes away to stay with my friend Sandra and her fam. So, we explored Bern and it was fabulous.

We had to hit up Starbucks for the wifi to update our parents on visa stuff. See this whole, huge, spacious room?

...this is the spot Jed where Jed chose to sit. HA!

Swiss photo bomb

We just walked around the corner and bumped in to this church. WOW!

It was open so we took a peek inside.

In search of lunch...

We settled on this deliciousness. So goooooood.

Soon it was time to head to meet our friends. 🙂

The countryside on the way from Bern to their town looked just like the landscape on HWY 99 from Salem to Corvallis. Really! It was the most familiar thing I've seen since leaving the US. It even seemed more familiar than Starbucks! (hehehe) There was a lot of green farmland and lots of pine trees. Hallelujah for pine trees! I miss them very much. It was beautiful. 🙂 I tried to take a picture but it didn't really turn out.

We arrived at the train station where Sandra would meet us and found her easily. YAY! It's always fun to meet people in person that you've communicated with for a couple years. It was also so surreal. What are we doing here? Ha! This is hilarious that it actually worked out!

We took the bus to Sandra's village and then walked to their apartment. It's cozy and welcoming and we are having a great time here. Walter and Sandra are originally from Singapore, but Walter's job brought them to Switzerland 11 years ago. Sandra cooked us delicious Chinese food that made us very happy. You can't really get any type of Asian cuisine in Ukraine, so it was a major treat. SO GOOD! Then we talked, played Wii Fit (Which, by the way, gave Jed a Wii Fit age of 30 and me a Wii Fit age of 36. I hate the Wii.) It was a great time of getting to know each other better.

Sandra was talking some about Sinagore and I admitted that I really know nothing about Singapore or the culture there. I remarked to them that we only really know one person who ever had a tie with Singapore. Some of my parents' best friends are named Joe and Janet. Joe's sister Eileen was a missionary in Singapore for many years before we met her. I was mentioning to Jed that I think Eileen is the only person we know who has spent any time in Singapore. Walter and Sandra perked right up. Come to find out they knew Eileen! They were friends with her and worked in ministry with her in Singapore before they were even married! SHUT UP. You have got to be kidding me! At first we thought they were joking. I mean, out of all the millions of people in Singapore, the one person we know who lived there was their friend. What a crazy small world we live in, I tell ya. We were laughing our heads off about it. God is just too funny.

Now we're getting ready to head out to explore the little Swiss town we're in. It's Jed's birthday today so we'll need to make sure we find lots of treats.- I'm just looking out for Jed, mind you. This has nothing to do with my personal need for treats. 😉

Thanks for your prayers for our visas! Keep 'em coming! I'll let you know as soon as we have them in our hot little hands.



Our House!

So, I'm just sitting here in my little Ukrainian house, the kids are asleep, and Jed is off to watch soccer at a friend's house (He doesn't waste time with the man dates! Hehe) Life is good. We are blessed and happy.


Wanna see our house? YES! I'm pretty proud of us because we actually accomplished quite a bit today, despite the fact that the kids woke up at 4am. Oh, you say that just gave us more hours to work, so of course we should have gotten a lot done? Well, I say it was evil and instead caused us all to take a three hour nap at noon. We couldn't help ourselves! Jet lag is a beast.


So, the house is still a work in progress, but I'll let you have a peek at our new digs. We feel quite comfy here and are so super thankful. Here goes nothin!

This is our street, headed toward our house- the white building on the right.

Here's the front of our building. I think there are like 4 houses (flats) that are all a part of this building...not quite sure though. We enter around the back.

This is the path to walk around to our pad. 🙂

These steps lead to us! That balcony right above is our balcony. Everyone come on over!

Welcome! Here's what you see when you walk on in. (Minus the huge grins on our faces, so happy to have you! Also beware of tiny, leg-grabbing people ready to jump out and grab you...they're vicious I tell ya)

Oh, you like the purple kitchen, do you? Well, we girls like it too. The boys aren't so sure.

Too bad we don't have a microwave manual...not that we could read that either...hmmm

Here's the place where all the goodness happens. When you come over we'll eat loads of deliciousness at this big 'ol table! That's assuming I figure out grocery shopping and can buy the right ingredients for the deliciousness. Seth wants me to tell you he has his eyes closed. FYI 🙂

Here's the view from the dining room table of Jed leaving me to go on a man date. 😉

So, to the right of the front door is the kitchen, and this is what's to the left. There's the bathroom, and the living room.

Here's our AWESOME bathroom! This is the biggest bathroom we've ever had. For some reason I find it very cute and bright. Is that weird that I love my bathroom so much?

Our little washing machine is in the bathroom. When Addy saw it she said It's just my size! Yep, that's about right. Ha! We don't have a dryer so this girl's gonna have to learn the art of hanging clothes to dry. Sweeeeet.

Here's another time when a manual would be helpful...

This is the room that we'll use as a living room. I think we'll move out one of the beds to make more space, throw some cushions on the others, and call 'em couches.

The view from the other side of the room, complete with Jed looking creepy. He makes me laugh. I just love him!

Still with me? Now let's head upstairs so you can see the guest room. Hint hint...

This is the biggest room, so it will be for the kids. We can't fit 4 beds in it, so we need to buy some bunk beds. Until then, just the girls will sleep in here.

That white door leads to a shower.

THIS, now THIS is the guest room! Isn't it fantastic? 😉 The boys will sleep in here until we get the bunk beds.

Here's our cute little upstairs bathroom. So itty bitty!

Here's our enclosed balcony. Pretty sweet eh? Right now we're storing empty suitcases here. Yeah, when we brought 12 SUITCASES we didn't really think through what we would do with them after we were done traveling here. Anyone need a spare suitcase? Emma- notice my sweet hanging skills???

Our view during the day...

And now for the armpit of the house…

Our bedroom!!! Yep, we still got some work to do...

Isn't the house SO GREAT??? It's a miracle. It's so clean, plenty big, under our budget, a three minute walk to MTU, and furnished. We are so happy!
When we knew we were going to live in this house we were excited, but I had one worry. I was worried for my kids. There are no parks nearby, and I was so concerned about how we would find friends. Do we just walk around until we hear kids and then head that direction? It was a worry for me, but we really felt like this house was God's gift to us, so we knew He had/has our kids covered.
So, yesterday morning we woke up, looked out our balcony window to check out our view, and you'll never guess what we saw.


Would you believe they installed a playground right behind our house our first morning here?? INCREDIBLE. We were laughing, and I'm pretty sure I cried. Now THAT is God's gift to my kids, but also a gift to this mommy's heart. Where there is a playground, there will be children. It just goes to show us that God has gone before us and taken care of every single detail.
One of our friend's felt like God showed her that this move to Ukraine would be like Christmas Day for our kids. Like they don't know what they are getting, but that God has great gifts here for them. Well, gift #1 was delivered on our first morning and I am in awe.
It just keeps getting better and better. Saying yes to God is so much fun!!!!!