Dec 29, 2010

My tree is so sad

Christmas is gone, and my tree is just sitting there, dropping its needles on the carpet, like a monument for a time passed. I keep staring at it, and cannot help but to feel sadness - its a time that passed. Its a moment in our lives that we won't get back.

It's amazing how hard it is to capture a moment. I really can only recall just a handful of actual MOMENTS, that I made a conscious decision of capturing in my heart. Like a snapshot of my life that I said to myself - I want to carry these pictures with me always, in my heart.

This last Christmas is supposed to be one of them. A picture of the most beautiful tree that I've ever had. The picture of so many gifts under it. My little son, sitting among the pile of unopened presents, eating a box of milk duds. My father-in-law with his presents, smiling. My husband getting so excited over the presents he got.
Just a quiet family afternoon. It was wonderful. Not because of the presents, but because we were there, together, healthy and happy. But for some reason the "film" for these snapshots doesn't want to get developed in my head. Its blurry, its dark, and uncertain. Perhaps my memory is really failing, in a clinical sense. So, everyday, I wake up to see a sad, dry and dying Christmas tree, and I fail to feel that moment of happiness that we shared just a few days before. Something is wrong.

Dec 23, 2010

One less suffering - A plea for help.

When I first started taking a look into the numbers , the information and statistics about orphans and adoptions, mostly out of curiosity, one of the first roadblocks that seemed to be overwhelming to be is the though: How can I possibly help? How can I save all of them? There are so many, living alone, unneeded, unseen, and some even dying - forgotten.

My friend and sister, Kim have shared a story about the Starfish. Don't try to change the world as it is, but make a difference for just one starfish. I've pondered this, and prayed for the Lord to give me guidance on this. I searched more information - there was no shortage, as the need is great.

We are so used to tune out the commercials on TV, the ones that seem to be designed to provoke pity, and even shame that we are sitting on our warm couches and doing nothing about starving children in Africa. Trust me, I would turn the TV off, or change the channel just as many others have probably done the same.

But the deeper I dug, the deeper it went. But alongside this seeming endless ocean of despair and hopelessness I also saw an equally wide and vibrant stream of hope. Blogs after blogs of couples who are either adopting, thinking of adoption, or advocating and putting in their time and resources into adoption.

I wanted to share something with you all, that touched me so deep. Deeper than any plea from Sally Struthers, than any music video about the suffering of the orphans. A few months ago, No greater Joy Mom posted about the orphanage, where they got their adopted daughter from.

Her adopted daughter, and many other kids at that particular orphanage have mental disabilities, mainly the Down Syndrome. In Russia, that means that you are left at the birthing home and your life will be that of the oblivion. You will spend your first five years in a crib of an orphanage 24/7, taken out only for routine " basic care" procedures, and sent to a mental institution for the rest of your life. You will know no love, no playing, no joy, no simple loving human contact. You will be dead to the world, yet a living, breathing, thinking and FEELING human being.
I must warn you, this is a heart-wrenching post. The images of these little ones will be etched in your brain. If you feel that you cannot read this, don't. It's not my intention to shock or guilt you - not at all. Just to show what one mother saw. She sent a plea for help, a cry out for someone to find it in their heart to rescue one of those poor children.

The story does not end there. A few months had passed, and I found another post on her blog. A couple has adopted 2 of the boys from that orphanage.
7 kids total are being adopted, all with special needs. I don't know if it was as a direct result of the first post, but the fact is - these children can have a voice.

Not all are called to adopt, not all feel ready, and that is understandable. My only please is - please don't close your eyes. Please don't pass up opportunity to speak about this crisis of indifference out loud. Whether you are Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or Atheist (or any other religions belief or lack thereof) - we all know that no child deserves a life like that.No human does.

The world will tell you you are not strong enough, not rich enough, not good enough, there are way too many more important things to do, its not the best time, who cares, there are "country's" problem.
Don't buy that bullcrap. It doesn't cost anything to look into and find out more information and share with others.

Many of these and other adoptions have been assisted by Reece's Rainbow, a ministry that assists with adoption of a child with Down Syndrome.

Dec 22, 2010

Stressed out over the stockings.

Ok, I have to admit that I am totally stressed out of the whole stockings thing. I mentioned that I wanted to have a year of "firsts" this year, and we have decided to do the whole Christmas Stockings.
A confusing tradition, I did not know the story behind it, neither did my husband. But I am now quickly realizing how stressful the whole stocking thing can be:

1. What's a good gift for the sock (from now I shall refer to it as a sock, as I like that word)? I was confused about the content of the sock, and had to get guidance from a number of people.
2. What is an appropriate amount of items int he sock? Does it have to be filled to the brim? Should things be sticking out of it like in the pictures? what if the gifts are too short and don't want to stick out, do you need to find something long to stick out?

3. Yes, my mind really does go through this agonizing lunacy.

4. How to make sure that everyone has equal amounts o stuff in the sock? The items will be different, so how to prevent someone's sock looking empty, just because you got them items of a different width/length.

5. When are you supposed to open the sock? Before or after the main presents.

6. Does everyone get to watch or is it a private thing?

7. If you don't have a fireplace or a chimney - can you hang socks anywhere?

So, these and many other details I have been going over with these silly things, to the point of me not wanting to do the sock thing again. To be honest, I am so stressed over it, that I have started buying myself sock stuffers. Why? I'm afraid that everyone forgot sock stuffers for me, and when it comes to the time of opening them, mine will be empty, and everyone will feel sorry for me and bad that I didn't get anything in my sock. So I'm secretly stashing stuff to put in my sock. Problem is - there isn't that many of us, and everyone bound to figure out who bought what.

Ok, I know that sounds like lunacy, but I really want to do this Christmas right. This is a very confusing custom. There should be like a step-by-step instructions.

From Google, regarding the stocking: "The gift given by Santa Claus would be something to eat, a thing that makes a sound and gives a pleasant view to the eyes or gift which has a lovely fragrance." My stocking has one gift so far - a stick of salami. I guess it conforms to all criteria.
I had no idea that the sock gift has almost the same criteria as haiku poetry. This is so confusing.

Dec 21, 2010

World without prayer

Me and hubby went to our son's school yesterday, for the parent-teacher meeting. That's always exciting and a little frightening at the same time, but everything that she said was positive.

The topic of our conversation came around to our nationalities (I think we were talking about their international "Where am I from" day at their school, that's coming up in a couple of months). John, my husband, mentioned to the teacher how I should tell the kids about getting in trouble in school for spreading religious propaganda. True story, I'll tell you all about it someday.

Now my son's school is a private Christian school. All of the teachers are Southern Baptist, African American women who got the Gospel with their mother's milk. They are awesome, and when John said that the teacher's eyes got wide. She looked at me as if we were joking, but I told her, that where I come from, for the longest time you were not allowed to practice religion, or even believe in God. She put her hand to her heart and exclaimed: "Then how did 'yall pray?!"
"We did not. We could not."

She gasped, and I thought that it was so dear and awesome that here is a person, to whom God is so much a part of her life that she cannot even imagine a place, where one not only not have a place to pray, but not even want to do it because they do not believe there is a God at all.

Of course, Russia is not like that anymore. Even back when I was a kid, at least in our town, you would just get laughed at for believe in God. But there were times where you could loose your job, or even your freedom for speaking the Gospel.

But anyway, I just found it so interesting to have a glimpse into another person's life, where a world without prayer is unimaginable.

Dec 18, 2010

Busy Holiday weekend

Today was a busy day. Went to mail the rest of the presents (very proud of myself, as this is the first year I'm actually mailing things to people). Went to the mall, got myself a mouse hat. Very happy.
Spent the rest of the day on working on the house decorations. I never really bothered to do holidays. Never decorated the house, didn't really worry about creating the mood. That all changed once Gio became cognizant of the holidays, I think. I just want to create (hopefully) good memories for him to take into his life. I want him to feel like some days are more special than others.

So me and him worked on creating the sparkly chains. Basically I got a bunch of sparkly pipe cleaners at the dollar store and we made a link chain out of them, which were them put in the tree. As a cheap and fun-to-make decoration, I highly recommend is.

Another fun craft for the holidays are the snow-ball chains. I got a couple of packs of the white and blue sparkly balls at the craft store (the poofy cotton-balls with sparkles), and just put them on a thread. I then taped them to the walls and various objects. The picture doesn't do it justice, but it actually looks really cute.

I wasted to have them hanging on the ceiling, but our ceiling is actually roof-shaped - it becomes a 15-foot ceiling half way through the room, and I don't even have a ladder high enough to reach it.
I also decided to go all the way out and make some centerpieces for the table.
I got a bunch of pine-cones from the yard, spray painted them white (just a little bit). Got some left-over pine branches and some red ribbon and the green sparkle-pipe cleaners. And Voila!
I know, they look a little lamo, but they were fun to make.

Oh yeah, I finally finished the wreath, and decided to leave it hanging inside. The pine cones were also spray painted.

Please visit Skip to my Lou for more great ideas.


Dec 15, 2010

Google in Russia

Google just opened a new office in Russia. This is for my Kimmy, who dreams of working for Google one day.

Vegemite or Nutella?

You might ask yourself, why is this even a question? Nutella = sweet hazelnutty heavenly substance that probably coats the streets in Haven vs Vegemite. What the heck is Vegemite?

Actually, Vegemite is delicious. However, I used too much of it this morning, which made me sad. Then I googled to see if I was mis-using it in someway and sure enough – you supposed to put just a tiny bit. I think I’ll have to try again.
Spent last night finishing wrapping the stocking stuffers (The SOCKS, according to my son) and the rest of the presents. Also spent an hour and a half making treat bags for my son’s school party. That was pretty fun, but I just never know whether I am getting the right thing. I cannot believe how socially incapable I am. It’s like I have lived in a cave all my life. I have to check the etiquette about almost anything with my husband, because for some reason I am clueless about what is acceptable and not acceptable in a polite society.

I went to pick up more Christmas stuff at the Hobby Lobby – oh man, they are nearly sold out of everything. I cannot believe how quickly they sold several isles worth of stuff. People were just grabbing stuff off the 50% off shelves. No beads though. I was hoping to stock up on beads while they were half off – alas, they were the normal price. I should have bought much much more the last time. Got spray paint for the pine cones and will try to finish the wreath tonight. I have a feeling that by the time I’m done with it, Christmas will pass.

Oh, I have gotten a log of gingerbread dough and my cookie cutters. I will be trying the gingerbread cookies later this week or next week and will document the progress. Quite excited about that.

Mom sent me some of my old pictures, this is me saying “Happy Holidays!”

PS: Vegemite adventures continue, and my breakfast sandwich was saved. Like a phoenix it was reborn in the form of an English muffin, lightly oiled with margarine, lightly toasted, and VERY thinly coated with vegemite. OMG. If a sandwich could purr, it would be doing it in my belly right now. I think I just found my true breakfast food love.

Dec 13, 2010

Ukraine without Orphans

"By the year 2015, Ukraine will be a country without orphans, according to the vision of a newly established alliance known as Ukraine Without Orphans.

More than 500 Christians from around the world met in Kiev at a three-day conference to launch the alliance.

This is an awesome goal, and through God everything is possible.
Source: via Children of Zaporozhye

Dec 11, 2010

My first wreath

Ever since we have moved to Georgia, for some reason I have been trying to do as many "firsts as I could." I feel like I have been asleep or in a coma for the past 13 years, I don't know why. Maybe because I fear that my memory is going, as I have trouble remembering things that happened last week. Maybe because I really have spent more than a decade of my life accomplishing absolutely nothing. And by nothing, I mean - nothing.

So, this year I got to carve a pumpkin and make a pumpkin pie from scratch, among many other great and not-so-great other "first time" things. I always wanted to make a wreath from scratch, and finally sat down to make one today. It took me almost 2 hours, and it is not finished. I have much more appreciation for real tree wreaths now, because let me tell you - it's not easy. But it was extremely rewarding and even relaxing experience, despite it being a pain int he butt.

This is what it started out as - just a bunch of tree branches that I started trying together with some wire.

I ended up decorating it with some of the fake dry deco branches i got for 50% of at the Hobby Lobby. I also have a bag of pine cones that I'll be spray painting and putting on the wreath with a thinner wire. But for now it looks not bad. It's a bit akward to hold, to be honest, but it's sturdy enough.

Dare to DIY Please visit the DIY party on Newly Woodwards to see more Christmasy stuff (that's actually awesome.) =)

Fantabulous Friday!

Dec 10, 2010

The Time traveler

I think the feeling of longing for home is universal, even if they make a new home elsewhere. But no matter how much time you spend in a few city or a country, I think a part of you always reaches out to the place you knew as home before. I see that in myself, my family, and many other immigrants.

That is why I find the internet utterly fascinating, because now I can just Google my town that I grew up with. Before that I would have no way of knowing what's going on there, or hope to ever find people from my childhood ever again. Now, I have most of my classmates on FaceBook (or the Russian version of it, I should say). I can Google my town and read the latest news, or see what new building they built. And that is the part that I am not entirely comfortable with. You see, back in the day, my town still had whole neighborhoods of wooden huts with no central water, heating, or even sewer. My own house was a wooden structure, built on the wooden supports. We did have plumbing though (gotta love plumbing!). When I look at the pictures of Mirny (the Diamond capital of Siberia), I feel like I stepped through a time portal. In my mind, as well as my heart - it is still that town from long ago. A town without a gigantic beautiful Christian temple (not unhappy about that, of course). A town without a fancy sports center and rebuilt schools.

It's not easy, but sometimes I find the pictures from the "old times", in black and white and all grainy. Because for some reason almost every picture made in the 80s, especially in my household, looks like it was taken in the 40s. Anyway, when I find those pictures and look at them I feel dizzy. As if I am staring into a void. That time had passed, that world, that country, that city essentially does not exist anymore. But for me, finding those pictures - an affirmation that I came from a real place, that it existed, that people I knew have lived there (and probably still do).

Change is hard, we know that, but for me it's even harder when it happens without me.The school that I went to - an olf, two story, wooden, falling apart building where I learned English language is now the pride of the city. It was built anew - an architectural marvel with a luxurious gym, auditorium and even a dance club. I still remember cramming into a 10'x10' dressing room to change for the gym class - about a dozen girls in a tiny, poorly lit room. One year we had to miss almost a month of school because the pipes under the cafeteria broke in the winter and the floor cave in. One winter, the heat would not work for the longest time, and we had to wear our winter coast int he classrooms. The ink in the pens was frozen solid. Fun times.

There was a group of missionaries that came to visit us in the late 80s. Honestly, I am guessing that they were missionaries, but back then they were just a bunch of Americans that came to visit. But they did not seem to have any purpose and it was strange to us. But I don't think they were allowed to preach the Gospel, for even though the Iron Curtain was falling, for the most part, religion was still pretty much an unacceptable thing to be occupying yourself with. You might as well be proclaiming riding the unicorns and talking with the elf people. I recall this one time, walking with these two Americans (I think they were in their ate teens or 20s). And it was freezing cold, and we walked them from our school to their hotel or the apartments where they were staying. And we were talking, trying our best to keep the conversations - between their broken Russian and our broken English. Now I am realizing that I was probably walking with missionaries, telling them about mosquitoes. And I was the person they were trying to mission to.

Life's funny that way.
But back to the school.I guess I was lucky that my school at the time had the dressing rooms or a cafeteria (even if the floor cave in, releasing a whole bunch of toxic gas). The very 1st even school in Mirny was opened in 1958. It was located in a tent, and it had a wooden barrel with a cut opening in it - to throw the coals in to burn for warmth. They had 5 students. :)

But this is what my school looks like now.Beautiful, isn't it? I found some pictures inside the school, and they were breathtaking - granite or marble floors, hallways, stairwells. Definitely not what I remember. and I'm really happy that my old hometown has been built up and expanded. Yet, I think I will always have this ache in my heart - just an ache that everyone gets when they think of their childhood and the world they knew becoming "history".

This is the Triniry church in my town. That is perhaps the most amazing thing - this beautiful temple to God in a town where the missionaries once were not allowed to evangelize.

Dec 9, 2010

Guest posting: Why not?

I am honored to have Kim Young from Journey 2 Ethiopia to write an awesome blog about reasons for adoption.

Why Not?

In the book of James we are told that it is our responsibility to care for the widows and the orphans. It doesn’t say that some are to care for orphans it says that all are to care for them. We could all find a reason, excuse or exception if we allowed ourselves to. I thought we could delve into some of the reasons for not adopting an orphan.

The problem
The problem is that there are over 147 million orphans in the world. 147 million children who are lonely, hungry, thirsty, and have nothing, but the only thing they really want is a family to be part of. If only 6% of Christians adopted one child then there would no longer be any orphans. So if only 6% of Christians followed the command in James 1:27, then there would not be a need for the other 94% of Christians to adopt. Will you be one of the 6%?

The Reasons

It’s just not something my family is called to do...

We are all called to care for the orphan, not some of us, not those of us with money, all of us. Now your family might have another calling to how to provide for the orphan (by supporting adopting families or perhaps foster care), but we are all called to care for them.

We don’t have the means to adopt...span>

Do you have a family? Is there one or more of you who has the means to love another person? Well, then you have the means to adopt. In addition to foster care adoptions - which are free - there are grants, scholarships, no interest loans, tax credits, fundraising programs, and many other ways to come up with the funds for adoption fees. Do you think God would call you to it and then not provide the means? Is your family covered in luxuries? Perhaps you can cut them back to find money for an adoption.

I would rather have my children biologically...span>

Well, I guess it is a good thing Christ extends his love and adoption into his family beyond the Jews and his biological family - or we would all be doomed and fatherless. Your child is your child, whether by bone and blood or by love and miracles. Every child born is a miracle whether God plants the baby in our womb or our heart. Beyond the physical - there are no differences. And go ahead and have biological children - but that shouldn’t stop you from making room for a child without a biological family to care for them.

It’s not the right time...span>

Far be it from me to encourage you to move before God asks you to move. But is the timing a legitimate thing you are waiting on - or is it an excuse to not follow God’s command for us to all care for the orphan? If you are not sure of your answer to that question, you should figure it out, and pray for the right timing.

I have too much going on in my life right now...span>

This goes along with the timing aspect. If you have too much going on in your life right now, you will probably always have too much going on in your life. Are those things that God has called you to, or things that you have busied yourself with to avoid God’s direction in your life? I invite you to rid yourself of the distraction of busyness. Focus on God and rescue His orphans.

My husband would not want to adopt a child...span>

This is one of the most common cries of a woman whose heart is yearning for the orphan. Our husbands love us, and feel the weighty burden of providing for us - whether they are the primary earner or not. They are cautious with their passions and often need God to gonk on their head with a frying pan before they yield to God’s direction for the orphan. In most circumstances that I have seen - the husband comes around often as passionately if not more than the woman. If you want to adopt but your husband doesn’t - pray for him, talk to him, find out his concerns. I read a blog recently addressing this where the author encouraged those women to look within. Is your husband seeing you complain and gripe about your current circumstances and responsibilities? It reminds me of when I was younger and had to prove to my parents that I could handle what was on my plate before they would allow me to add to it. This wasn’t because they were punishing me, it was because they loved me and wanted to make sure I didn’t overwhelm myself. Perhaps in some cases, the husband is hesitant because you already complain about finances or how much work your current children are. If so, he loves you and is trying to protect you and your family. Focus instead on caring for your current responsibilities with joy and peace and praying for an opportunity and the resources to chase God.

My family will think I had lost my mind

**Newsflash** - if your family is not Christian - they already do. And if they are Christian - then they probably will be some of your biggest encouragers. Lots of people will think you’re nuts for adopting, especially if you go international. This is not your concern. In fact it should be your goal.

So Why Not?

So - why not adopt? Why not find the country with the most orphans or need and adopt from there? Why not ask God where He would have you adopt from? If you can think of any other reasons not to then post them in the comments so we can talk them out. Feel free to leave us comments with any questions about how to get started.

Dec 7, 2010

Orange cat and the greedy child.

The town where I grew up I think had only one orphanage. At least that I knew of, only I did not know that "that building" was an orphanage. As a child, I never really though of orphans, or it never really clicked that there really were real kids just like me who did not have parents. Who lived in a building with a bunch of kids and never ever got to go home to their mother and father, nor had any Birthday parties or New Year's feasts. Orphanage was really something that characters from Charles Dickens' novels lived in sometimes.

Next to our school was a special other school called the internat. Internat is a school for orphans, very poor kids or kids who's parents are unable to care for them, or disabled kids. Back in the day, thought, we really didn't know exactly what that meant. We actually were pretty scared of the kids from that school, even thought I don't think we have even met anyone. They kept to themselves, even though our schools were separated just by a large yard.

I think in our minds we assumed that the kids in that school were either young criminals or there "was something wrong" with them. Yay for education about those less fortunate than us!

Anyway, I still recall this shameful incident to this day. One time my school was doing a toy drive to give to the kids in the internat. In my defense we grew up not having as many toys as kids do these days. I spent longs time picking out what to bring, and my mother finally chose the big orange stuffed cat. She said that I have not played with it for a long time, and for God's sake - I was in 2nd grade. Begrudgingly, I brought the cat to school and put it in the pile of toys. All the while, I felt terrible, thinking - how on earth is my poor cat going to live without me? To have some kid I don't know tug on it and break it?

At the end of the day, I creeped to the pile of donation toys and...stole the cat back. I hid it in my close, because I was ashamed of this. But I was happy that I had my cat back.

I don't recall playing with that cat after that or what happened to that stupid toy. I just wish that I could go back in time, and give that little greedy girl a good talking to. So that I could pick my most favorite toy or several, and bring them over to that school with my own hands.

I guess the cat will always remind me to explain these things to my son so that he doesn't have to regret an act of greed or ignorance later on.

*The cat at the beginning of this entry is not the actual cat. I have no idea where that cat is right now, most likely in a garbage somewhere.

Dec 6, 2010

Season for crafting crasies, Part 3 - Wirewrapping

Dare to DIY
Newlywoodwards if hosting a blog party, dedicated to the wonders of homemade gift making. I don't know about you, but I find homemade gifts awesome. I honestly think that something made is better than something bought, within reason of course :)

Like food, for example, I think it best left to very close friends and family to exchange. I love crafting, and coming up with ideas, and this year I have decided to make ornaments. I have not decided whether I am going to give them as gifts (mainly because they are ornaments and would be opening them on Christmas day when they don't need the ornaments anymore). But here are some of my creations.

I got some 20 gauge jewelry wire and some of my old beads and trinkets (previous year's crafting crazies) and wire wrapped them to make the ornaments.

This is my first experiment with wire wrapping and I found it to be a very relaxing and fun craft. I'll definitely be making more. Please let m know what you think, and don't forget to visit NewlyWoodwards for links to other blogs with awesome crafts and gift ideas.


Memorial Box Monday: The man

What amazing is, it seems that for every bad thing that happened in my life when I was a child, the Lord gave me back several times fold. Growing up without a father, and two not-so-great stepfathers, heartbreaking first-ever romance in high school - I swore off men forever.

True, I was also a heart-broken 18 year old girl when I made that decision, but my mind was set firm on never dating again. I even decided to find a boy, having ask me out, and break his heart on purpose. That is about when John entered my life. Back then, working at the local Dunkin' Donuts - he was a usual customer. Usually coming in late in the evening, always smiling, always pleasant. A really nice guy, but beyond that - he was just one of the customers.

I was getting ready to quit that job, as it was starting to interfere with my school. My last day there I initially wanted to not go to work - hey, its the last day. But something told me that it would only be right to finish things and I headed to work. As my last hour approached, and my mind was already far away from the little donut shop, John came in to get some coffee. Asked me how I was doing, to which I said "Great, this is my last day!".

I still recall his face. I have never seen someone being THAT upset at the prospect of never seeing me again. His face...darkened, that is the only way to put it. I could see the panic in his eyes as he immediately asked me if I would like to have coffee with him. I declined. He left me his phone number on a napkin and I stuck it in my purse. I never planned to call him. He was much older, and really not in the dating mood.
Miraculously, the napkin remained in my purse a month later, when on a whim I decided to call him. He remembered me, miraculously as well. We went out, and I had the best time of my life. He was genuine, and funny, and really really decent. No flirting, no hinting, just fun.
On the second date he told me he could marry me. A few months later he were planning to move to another state, closer to his family. And a few months after that we got married in the courthouse in Florida.

It's been 13 years now, and we are still together, and still cannot imagine our lives without one another. The Lord had given me an amazing person. Someone who loves the Lord, who is honest and kind, and supportive about anything that I have tried to do in my life. I don't think that it was an accident that something told me to go to work that day. That the napkin that could have gotten lost or ripped - stayed in tact for such a long time. God found this man for me, the one perfect man who was a perfect match, and he brought us together. And no matter what - I will always be thankful for that. Just as my husband would not be the man he is today without me (and I say that without pride, as whatever I have good in me - I have from God),and without him - I would not be the woman I am today.

Dec 4, 2010

One less Orphan: Free giveaway

One Less Orphan blog is doing a free giveaway for an apron (they have really awesome ones too), in order to help Apisa family get more followers and funds for their adoption.

Please visit them and show your support!

Dec 3, 2010

Season for crafting crasies, Part 2

As I have told you a little bit ago, Christmas brings out the crazies in me. I went to Hobby Lobby last night after work, and ran around the isles for almost 2 hours, with my eyes wide-eyed and my basket full of miscellaneous craft ideas. I ended up having to put a lot of them back.

What did not help is that they had their Christmas stuff for sale, and I don't know what it is, but it seems the older I get, the m,ore accepting I am of the kitschy holiday decor items. Like the gingerbread men - I used to think they were lame, and now I'm like all about them. What? And roosters, I dunno what it is with the roosters lately, but I'm considering buying a whole kitchen set with them. Anyway.

I ended up bringing home a few branches of dried Christmas berry-branches for the centerpiece on the table and some pine cones. Hey 50% off! Also a couple of things that me and Gio can do as a project (totally justified project). Some beads, wire (for the ornaments) and some wooden plaques for wood burning. I started burning wood last night at 11pm. The need had to be fulfilled, you know?

I call this thing the Rorschach sock. Everyone saw a different thing in the design. You tell me what you see.

Not sure what I'm going to do with them though. They don't have holes, so you can't use them as ornaments. Theya re just flat thin wood cut-out shapes.

Insidently, there is an awesome giveaway for some amazing owl hats that you can join over at We don't have it all together

Today is the last day to sign up, so hurry!

Dec 2, 2010

Win an iPod Touch - The Jones' raffle

The Jones family are currently holding a raffle to help raise funds for their adoption costs. Enter and you could win awesome prizes:

But more importantly, help another lost child find a home. =)

Russian Adoption news

As you probably have heard, there has been a long-time deliberation within the Russian officials as they are looking into changing the laws regarding international adoption for the Russian orphans. After several reports of deaths, cases of abuse, and in the most famous case - a Russian orphan boy being sent back home, hundreds of adopting families in process were affected and a freeze was put on the adoptions outside of Russia.

Things are finally moving forward regarding Russia's changing laws towards international adoption, as Russian Adoption blog reports.

"...another round of talks between the US and Russian negotiators concerning the conclusion of a bilateral adoption agreement will be held in Washington, D.C. on December 1 through 3, 2010. According to Levitskaya, this round of talks aims to settle some final outstanding issues on the way to signing the agreement. While the official press release does not indicate a target date for signing, other Russian officials were quoted in the press as saying that they hoped it would be signed by the end of this year or in January."

I would like to request for a prayer that whatever may happen may happen according to God's will. May the roadblocks to children finding homes be lifted and favors granted towards the future of many children.

Lottery of Life

Came across this interesting campaign for the Save the Children foundation. On their site, you can spin the wheel of life and see where you might have been born, if you had another try.

Dec 1, 2010

Russian New Year: My squirrel costume

New Year celebration is a big deal in Russia, or at least it was when I was little. Imagine Christmas, New Year’s and Halloween are all wrapped up in one awesome holiday. Not only you get a real tree to decorate, have presents under it, huge feast and many houseguests, a bag of candy at school, but also to wear a costume!
Yes, New Year’s is definitely the time where childhood dreams are born. Instead of Santa Clause, an old man named Grandpa Frost (Ded Moroz) and his granddaughter Snow Maiden (Snegurochka) would come to schools and kindergartens with sacks of gifts and light the tree. Not on fire, obviously (Soviet childhood was not that traumatic). We used to have a big morning party at school, where we could wear costumes and were given big bags of various candy. Now the bags were awesome. Imagine a Siberian kid who waited the whole year for this one day to receive a bag with 1 or maybe more tangerines in it! I'm sure that's not the case anymore, but the first time I had a banana it was 2 inches long and was green and I love it. The smell of chocolate and tangerines is unforgettable, and I will forever associate it with holidays.
The bags of candy would be half-eaten by the time we even left the school. Fierce bartering for various types of candies would ensue and kids would try to score their favorites from others.
The costumes themselves were quite modest in my day compared to what is available to the kids in Russia now. Most of them were homemade and there were very few choices of what we were allowed to dress as. Whatever it was – it had to be wholesome. Girls were usually squirrels, foxes, snowflakes, etc. Boys would be bunnies, little bears, etc. My mom knitted this two piece skirt and jacket brown outfit (that I actually wore to music school), and I was a squirrel for a couple of years. I don’t remember if it involved brown squirrel ears and a tail, although I think the costume was pretty much just an outfit. I must say as a kid, I was always jealous of kids who’s costumes involved sequins. Anything sparkly – and I was drooling over it. I wanted to be a snowflake. A princess.Anything that called for anything sparkly. Anything but a stupid brown squirrel.
- This, sadly, is not what my costume looked like.
My mom finally succumbed to my pleas and made me a new costume. Out of her wedding dress. Instead of my old brown knitted outfit I now had a dress, made from a gorgeous silvery-white silk, with see-through sleeves and white silk flowers. It’s kind of sad that the dress that she wore to marry a man who made my life hell for 3 years, still ingrained in my memory as one of the most loving things she did for me. I wish I had any pictures, but I remember that being an amazingly special New Years.

Why a brown costume? Because squirrels are brown, silly.


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