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Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Happy Halloween

From the Lone Ranger and Tonto, or maybe just a cowboy and the blondest Indian you've ever seen

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Sunday, October 28, 2007
Dancing Queen
We were so pleased when Jay started singing along with a praise song in church this morning. Now that he's in the threes class, he starts out the 11 o'clock hour in church with us until children's church starts about 15- 20 minutes into the service. The last few weeks he's been very difficult, not wanting to stand during the singing or do much of anything else except draw on the registry pad. He was still very rambunctious, but I encouraged him to stand on the pew during the opening hymn so he could see Daddy up front playing his French Horn. He seemed to like that, and so later when we sang "Open the Eyes of My Heart", Jay caught on to the "I want to see you" refrain and sang it over and over again. Participation is good!

I was not entirely prepared for his musical prowess this evening, however. I had put in my new ABBA Gold CD for clean-up music in the playroom, and Jay started singing, "dancing queen" again and again. Later, Isaac was playing at the keyboard (I was playing the CD from our PC) and disrupted the music several times. At one point, he restarted the CD, and less than 5 seconds in, Jay said, "Dancing Queen!" There's one for the baby book. The first song he recognizes from just the instrumental intro!

And just because it makes me happy to note these things, a mom of five (give or take) behind us told me after the service that Jay is so cute she wanted to "eat him up". When she saw my expression, she added, "I know he's a handful." =] So I thanked her, of course, since it is so nice for people to let me know that my children's frequent drawing of attention to themselves isn't ALL bad. It seems like Paul, "Mr. Thomas", and I were saying something similar about the younger boy last night. *Sigh* they sure are cute, and as was also said last night, it sure is a good thing!

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Thursday, October 25, 2007
Potty Treats
The other day, Jay finished up on the potty and came out to discover a pile of junk mail. He picked up an envelope from the Saturn dealer (wanting me to trade in the car we traded in on the van), asked permission to open it, and proceeded to tell me that it said that he gets "nummy bears" for using the potty. Later, he picked up the BathFitter ad and it apparently had the same news. Unfortunately, no combination of gummi bears, stickers, and popsicles seem to achieve the desired result.

So today, since Paul is out tuning pianos, we're trying big boy underpants. It's almost 9, and we're on pair #2. I have a feeling it's going to be a long day.

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Monday, October 22, 2007
More Photos

Dapper Isaac in penny loafers

Send us back to Grandma's, please!!

Next up: Fox in Socks!

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Swinging Brothers

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Friday, October 19, 2007
Cobwebs and Tumbleweeds
So we've been terribly quiet here the past week, mostly because Paul's computer was very sick. Very, very sick. So sick that Paul spent half a day archiving the photos I should have been archiving all along in order to obliterate the contents of his hard drive and start over again.

It was so traumatic that he booted the laptop my younger brother gave us, either to have a stress-free websurf, or to investigate the possibility of using it for work. Anyway, Paul has cured the big PC, and now I'm dabbling on the laptop. It's got some aged software on it =] The worst part was the color scheme my young brother had chosen. I thought I had decent eyesight, but I was dying for the Classic Windows color scheme. Thankfully, it wasn't too hard to find ;)

Now we just have to make sure the boys don't figure out how to open the laptop and turn it on!!

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A Sentence?
Isaac put together a proto-sentence this week. Paul had left for work, and Isaac said, "Daddy go." He's no competition for my niece who was giving grammatically correct orders at her second birthday party, but he's doing quite well, verbally, for a boy!

The boys were both very interested in hearing Christmas carols tonight, so I sang them to sleep with "Away in a Manger", "Silent Night", and a number of other classics. Isaac was adamant that I continue. "Sing! 'Mas!", even when Jay told him, "No, Isaac, you can't sing. Mama is singing."

Jay's favorite was "Silent Night". It's the German blood, my friends =]

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Bible-Lovin' Boy
Yesterday, the boys and I were up in Paul's and my room while Paul was working, and my Bible was sitting there on the nightstand. I was hot and tired, so I asked the boys if they'd like to hear a story from the Bible. We started with the Baby Moses story, then read the Baby Jesus story (including the Baby John story at the beginning). Even lacking pictures, the boys really seemed to be enjoying themselves, but I had finally gotten too hot to lounge around upstairs. I believe it was Isaac who didn't want to leave his book behind, so we took the Bible downstairs with us. OK, that's actually a euphemism for Jay throwing or dropping it down the stairs (I didn't see). In any case, later on that evening, Isaac was not having any of this bedtime thing when our Bible study group came over, and sat in my lap, leafing through the Bible, saying "Book!" "End!", hugging the scriptures to himself, kissing and licking =^P the top edge of the Bible, and even, at one point, closing it and loudly exclaiming, "Amen!"

We may have a preacher in the family...

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Last night was not an especially restful one around here. Both boys have caught some sort of cold, and a mild fever. I suspect that, on top of the rather high temperature (I turned down the thermostat on three separate occasions in the past 24 hours- it would seem one of us is a thrifty Scot), was what woke Jay up in the wee hours, asking for water. At least that was his request when I got there. Paul has been so saintly as to answer pretty much all the late-night and early-early-morning hailings from the nursery, but I went last night (after Paul had already been), since it was Jay who was awake, and I thought I could sneak in and out without disrupting Isaac. Ha.

Anyway, Jay had started calling me specifically, so I went in and said "I'm here, Jay". That was a mistake, as no sooner had I begun speaking than the one-year-old sat bolt upright in his crib, pulled himself up, and started screaming, "MAMA, MAMA, MAMA!" in an anguished manner. *Sigh* So I fetched Isaac from the crib and sat in a chair in the boys' room for probably the better part of an hour, wondering when I would give up and take him downstairs to the futon. Since he was quiet and still, though, he eventually got all heavy and his breathing got very deep and slow. I think he was actually asleep, though he woke up when I put him down in the crib. He did not, however, start crying, thankfully. Jay then renewed his application for refreshment. "Where's your cup, Jay?" He said "Here" and handed me a sippy cup half-full of water. Application denied. "You don't need more water, Jay, you already have plenty." Whereupon, a little voice behind me started calling out softly, 'Wa'er, wa'er, wa'er!"

When I returned from downstairs with Isaac's sippy cup, I was heartened to discover no complaints or fussing. I gave Isaac his cup, began saying my goodnights, and then Jay said, "Mommy, you need to stay wif' me." Ha! As if! No way, Jose! "Do you need kisses, Jay?" "Yessir." (Don't ask me- this just cropped up all of a sudden; I have no idea from whence it came, and the "yes ma'am" doesn't seem to stick *shrug*) Wouldn't you know that after I gave Jay his kisses and started to bid the children a good sleep, the little one called out, "Kiss! Kiss!" =-) I wonder if this is what is behind Isaac's recent laying down to sleep with no crying (at least once Mama's out of the room)- watching big brother. In any case, he got his kisses, and he laid himself down to go to sleep. And there was peace. At least for the next ten or twenty minutes.

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I Love Bayer
Because they brought us Advantage. It's expensive, but SO worth it. Last night, Vyera's white ruff was flecked through with "flea dirt", and tonight it's back to its pristine, silky self. She's pretty happy, too!

Monday, October 08, 2007
In fact, that's enough for now. As you can see, L'viv is not hard on the eyes...

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Saturday, October 06, 2007
Looks Like Fun
I just ordered this for the boys with my Amazon credit card reward. It got very good reviews, and it's always exciting for the boys to have something new to look at, though of course they like revisiting old favorites. We haven't been reading as much lately for some reason, so hopefully this will help get us back into the habit.

I didn't expect it to cost so much more that a year of BH&G, but I guess they mostly pay for that through ads, anyway.

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Thursday, October 04, 2007
Home, Safe and Sound
Our trip was about as uneventful as a trip to Ukraine sandwiched between a North Carolina-Ohio round trip can be. We left here on Thursday after my ultrasound, which was fine though uninformative, as we (I) opted to leave the baby's sex a surprise. Friday evening, we celebrated Jay's third birthday with the vast majority of my side of the family. Unfortunately, Todd was stuck in North Carolina.

Saturday afternoon, we celebrated my parents' 40th wedding anniversary with a churchload of their friends and extended family. It was a very nice time, and Isaac even managed to get a nap in the midst of it, thanks to his father's patient ministrations. The following morning, after attending church with my parents, we left, dragging my sister with us, attended by Isaac's wailing *sniff* since our flight was leaving from Columbus and we didn't relish the idea of long-term parking. She was kind enough to take us to the airport Sunday (and miss her Bible study picking us up Tuesday night, in her pretty blue Mercury Milan!).

We made it to the airport in good time, and our flight out of Columbus was on time until we got to JFK. We then had to wait on the tarmac for an hour until our gate opened up. As we only had 80 minutes of layover, this was somewhat nerve-wracking. We eventually made it off the plane, and wore ourselves out (at least I was rather winded!) getting to the gate for our next flight, though it, too, was delayed, and there was really no need for haste. We had a fairly long layover in Madrid, providentially, so our late arrival there didn't distress us at all. If we had any idea what navigating the Madrid airport would be like, we wouldn't have been nearly so cavalier. After standing in lines for passport control, taking buses to the next terminal (and the one after that [oops]- a good 10-minute ride through the outskirts of Madrid), standing in a huge-mongous line to check in with our second airline of the trip, grabbing a quick bite to eat in one of the two McDonalds advertised in our terminal (this should have been a hint), walking what seemed like forever, only to find that we had to get on a subway train, getting off the train, and walking for another sizeable distance, we finally found our gate. We weren't late, but we didn't have much of a cushion leftover from our long layover.

By this point, I was so tired that I was able to sleep on the plane (which I wasn't sure I wanted to do, since we needed to be awake when we arrived in L'viv, since the same flight was bound for Kyiv afterwards). We were awake before we landed, though I'm sure if we hadn't been, landing would have woken us up! We managed to get through the passport control and customs with little delay (once we had our forms filled out), though our border officer had to give us a fake address, as we didn't know the real one ("Put 'Hotel Opera, L'viv'"). Sasha, our host, was waiting for us with a taxi when we came through customs, and we pushed past the men on the stairs in front of the airport offering something to us, or perhaps asking something from us (I have no clue). The taxi took us to a Baptist seminary in a nice old part of L'viv with a large iron gate. Sasha led us inside, where we were greeted by the doorman, who showed us to the third-floor room with its own bathroom (yay!!). That last flight of stairs was tremendously steep, and though I had nothing to carry but my purse and my very light carry-on bag (Sasha was lugging my luggage), by the time we got to the third floor, I was out of breath as well as being completely exhausted.

We had two twin beds with those lovely down comforters, a double wardrobe, a desk and two chairs, plus a small low table, a mini-fridge, a microwave and some dishes. Sasha promised to bring us food in the morning, and we went to sleep after bidding him a good night!

The middle part of our trip, though certainly the best part, runs together somewhat, since most of the days were very much alike. Each day involved at least a little walking in the lovely old city, some very little, some much too much for my comfort, as I hadn't brought any socks, and took a few days to rectify this. Thankfully, I had a first-aid kit in my purse, and was able to somewhat mitigate the blisters through the judicious application of band-aids! If we'd had a map the first day, or figured out how to read the one we borrowed by the second day, I'd have been in much better shape. By the third day, we'd figured out that it wasn't that hard to get to the spot where we'd been meeting for lunch by foot, and we did that for the remainder of our time in the city. Walking in L'viv's old city is a real treat for old-house junkies like me, so riding the bus, besides being crowded and (I'll admit) somewhat intimidating, just shorts a person of the opportunity to enjoy the scenery.

Unfortunately, we hadn't figured this out before then, and had a plan to meet up with an IP staffer at our lodgings at 12:30 on Wednesday. We took a nice long walk downtown to the opera, but got lost on the return trip, and had to hurry on aching feet (severely aching feet, in my case) back. We got there just in time to beat Sergei. After lunch was when I discovered the blisters.

Our lunch venue really deserves its own paragraph, so maybe I'll come back to that at some point, but not now! We were welcomed with open arms by everyone, not only those attached to the agency and church, but also the students in the English classes. Just as on our prior trip (to Kiev, in 2003), we developed (or renewed, in Paul's case) a strong affection for our Ukrainian friends (Paul had already known some of them from his trip in 2004).

We were blessed by getting to know the mother and teenaged daughter of a missionary family from western North Carolina a little bit, and were able to discuss some of the craziness of being an American in L'viv with them. Some things are obvious, like the apparent lack of traffic laws and the absence of a WalMart or comprehensive grocery store (Paul wanted to buy a watch, but couldn't quite stomach the thought of buying a watch in a watch store), but we didn't realize that the availability of water outside the hours of 6 to 9 (AM and PM) was an enviable amenity of the seminary until the American mom mentioned it in passing.

One of the more memorable taxi rides we took was the second day of classes. Yulia Timoshenko was in town, and the streets were jammed. Our taxi driver apparently had no interest in wasting her time, so sped down cobblestone alleys, climbed curbs, dashed into oncoming traffic, whatever it took to get us to our destination and out of her car. Maybe she wanted to go see Yulia as well!

Another interesting taxi ride was one of the nighttime homeward-bound drives (after our 6:30 class, usually it was after 9:30 by the time class had ended and we'd shared about the day and prayed). Shortly after we left, I noticed the low fuel warning light flashing on the dashboard. We had a church member with us to speak Ukrainian and make sure we arrived at our lodgings (for which I am very thankful!!), so I figured Katya had things under control, and I should not worry about it. Shortly thereafter, I noticed an oil pressure light alternating with the low fuel light. Intrigued, I kept watching, only to see a third light, one which looked (to me) for all the world like a bomb. It wasn't that long of a ride, so I just hung in there, and sure enough, we arrived at our destination safely without incident. I asked Katya about it the next night, or maybe two nights later. Like Paul, she hadn't noticed a thing. From then on, I should probably have insisted on sitting behind the driver so Paul could ignore any forthcoming warning lights, but I didn't notice any more anyway.

Well, it's ten o'clock, and I'm hardly done, though I am spent, so I'll have to write a part two at some future date. A thousand thanks to those of you who were praying for us. God took superb care of us, and the boys were in wonderful hands as well (His and my parents' and sister-in-law's). We really had a very pleasant trip, all things considered, but it is so good to be back home safely with our sweet, wonderful little boys*!!

* Isaac started grabbing at Jay's shirt this morning when I was holding him (Isaac), saying "Huck! Huck!" When he wrapped his arms around Jay's neck and started making kissing sounds, his meaning became crystal clear, and Jay returned his hugs at several points today. Though Jay was not reportedly a good big brother while we were gone, things seem to be back to normal- we have our same sweet boys back (At least until they both want the same toy *sigh*)

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