Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Johanna Joy turns TWO!

I still can't believe our *baby* is a big TWO year old! We had so much fun celebrating our JOY-giver's birthday. We played a few little games and then since Johanna's favorite thing is to dance, we put on some cowboy music and promenaded around. I can't put into words the amount of joy and happiness Johanna has brought into our lives. Thank you Heavenly Father for this precious gift!
I tried & tried and could not get a good picture.. she was so cute holding her skirt and twirling, twirling, twirling
With her two adopted big sisters Svieta & Olya.. and believe it or not Caleb is happy in this picture :) (look closely and you can see his tonsils!)
In our family we take blowing out candles very, very seriously
Yummmmm! Tell me again why Mommy never lets me have this stuff?
And this is for that certain someone who says there is never a picture of me on the blog... happy now?? Although I have to say this picture of Johanna reminds me of the one of myself on my 2nd birthday.. except I had my mouth open and was screaming my lungs out.. and I had four times the amount of hair..

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Please pray for Caleb

Please pray for Caleb the Conqueror.. he fell and broke both bones about an inch above his left wrist. We are very, very thankful that it was a clean break and should only require a cast for two weeks. Pray that it heals quickly, straight & strong. I've always loved the verse that God knits us together in the womb so I'm praying He will just *knit* these bones together. Our lives are just so dull and boring we needed a little extra excitement. :)

Another matter for prayer is a new visa law that was passed Oct. 4th. Here's an exerpt from the English Moscow Times:

The government is tightening the screws on foreigners who want to work here full time without a work visa -- and itinerant English teachers look likely to be the first to feel the squeeze.
Multiple-entry business visas, which used to let foreigners stay in Russia for up to one year, will now only allow stays of up to 90 days at a time, according to a decree signed by Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov on Oct. 4.
Under the new rules, such visas will still last one year. But they will only let people stay in Russia for up to 180 days of that year, and for no longer than 90 days at a time. Moreover, if a foreigner stays in Russia for 90 days straight, he or she is then required to leave and not come back until another 90 days have passed.
Zubkov's decree also says foreigners might have to obtain the visas in their native countries -- which implies that U.S. and British expatriates could no longer hop on the train to Kiev for a visa run. But representatives of visa agencies and foreign business lobbies were unsure how that rule would be implemented, and some said it might not apply to Westerners.
What is clear, however, is that expats can no longer stay in Russia endlessly by obtaining multiple-entry business visas and renewing them each year, said Alexei Filippenkov, director of the Visa Delight agency.
(^^this is exactly what we've done for the past 10 years)

"Now, any foreigner who wants to come live here has to either go through the immigration process, and eventually obtain a residence permit, or else find an employer who will prepare a work visa for them," Filippenkov said.

There is a very good chance we will have to leave the country by January 4th and stay out at least 90 days before re-entering. We are going to start down the document trail to obtain a residence permit.. but we've heard this is about as difficult as adopting (document wise) .. so should be fun fun - like I said before our lives are just way too dull & boring....heh!

Fall pictures

We have a tradition every September to dress up and do a family picture and individual *school* pictures of the kids.. this year unfortunately my friend with the great camera was gone on vacation.. so no family pictures, but some sweet ones of the kids.
Our precious 8 year old Rachel
With her beloved cat Chocolate
A note of explanation as to why David looks like a Russian army conscript.. one day during school David was in the bathroom for quite a long time.. I finally went to knock on the door - David emerged with large chunks of his hair cut down to the scalp.. I asked him why he decided to cut his hair to which he confidently answered 'because it needed cut.' So we just buzzed him :) After a half dozen of David's famous frozen smile pictures I told him to 'just relax, act natural and don't actually smile' ........
AHHHHHH so much better!! Actually I love this picture because I imagine this is what a certain 6 year old James Dean looked like most of the time.
Battle-scarred Caleb
I so want to get a shirt for Caleb that says 'I was born tough'... seriously this kid is one of a kind - all he talks about is getting 'big muscles'. The other day we were out for a picnic and as a special treat I bought a chocolate bar to divide.. when I handed Caleb his little square he asked me if chocolate had sugar in it.. 'yes' .. then he asked does it have protein in it?? 'hmm not really' to which he declared he didn't want the chocolate because it wouldn't build *BIG muscles*. I think there's just a little tiny bit of his Uncle Matt in there somewhere...
I got Johanna all dressed up in white tights and shirt, beautiful bow in her hair and whilst distracted for 5 minutes turned around to find her happily filthly playing in the sandbox...
Who needs hair bows to look cute??!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

catchin' up...

Sorry it's been forever.. here's some fast, rambling happenings of the last month:

*'Zhatva' - the big Russian harvest celebration was celebrated September 9th. One of my favorite holidays over here as it always coincides with the leaves being at their height and getting the last vegetables out of the garden. (I mean come on in November we're thinking about ice skating more than pumpkins :) We had a big feast after church and enjoyed the fellowship and gorgeous sunny fall day. We had two guests - one a man that just got out of prison and has been living in a tent in the woods. The other Colya a young man from Turkmenistan. Colya works at the local internet office and as our internet is forever not working he has been out to our house several times. Was great to see him finally come to church! Pray he continues.. he had so many questions about the Bible he has been reading.

*The start of school meant James could resume teaching a class at the orphanage. He was a little disappointed to discover they completely changed who lives at the orphanage; now instead of the older students he had worked with for the past two years he has a room full of younger children ages 9-10. Pray these classes continue to go well.

*Apples - my month in a word.. we have 7 apple trees that had the biggest harvest I have ever seen! We made apple butter, sauce, juice, cobblers, cut up apples to freeze and 12 liters of apple cider vinegar... actually I'm not sure what I made ask me in a couple of weeks - it's either vinegar or hard cider :) I told Rachel she could made a cobbler every day if she gathered the apples and did everything herself. On about the 5th straight dinner of enjoying cobbler and ice cream she let out a contented sigh 'this is the life!'... I have to agree, I LOVE the fall!

*School begins! - well actually we did little bits and pieces all summer.. I now have a 3rd grader, 1st grader and the most enthusiastic preschooler I've ever seen. We are still having trouble understanding Caleb's speech but he loves sitting at his desk cutting, counting, coloring and doing anything I call *school*.

*Bible Studies - Pray for James on Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday. Also our friend Lena began a Bible study at her apartment on Saturdays. On Friday nights they have a game night with a short Bible lesson especially for unbelievers.

*Snow - supposedly this weekend, the kids are wild with excitement. The morning after Johanna's birthday (which was Sunday, I'll post more later w/pictures) we heard the boys up at 5:00am running around upstairs. James went to investigate and found them at the window looking for snow. James told them there was no snow and get back in bed.. David replied 'but MOM SAID there would be snow after Johanna's birthday.' It is vital to remember that kids take everything you say literally. How did someone who hates to be cold give birth to polar bear children???!?

Thanks to all for your love and prayers. Hope you're enjoying a wondrous autumn and praising Him for the harvest!

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