1 in 10,000

HeartStatistics are one of those things that we talk about a lot in our flat. Almost always these numbers are in conjunction with some health challenge, and my pediatrician husband frequently has the same general statement: 99% chance that this is nothing, BUT if you are the 1%…well, it’s now 100%.

Our daughter Jeanne and her husband Kolya are expecting their third child — our first granddaughter — in early February. They have two young active boys (ages 3 and 18 months-ish) and are more than thrilled to be welcoming a little girl into the family. Already they are discussing names and dreaming about how life will look with three little ones in the home.

Last week Jeanne received a call ten days after a routine ultrasound and she was told to travel to Annapolis (from Salisbury on the Eastern Shore of Maryland) for another sonogram. It seems that the baby was so active and uncooperative (shy?) that they could not get a clear picture of the heart for routine measurements. No big deal. She and Kolya made the drive on Friday leaving at 7 a.m. for the 9:00 appointment. How do you say thank you to a friend who will take all day with your grandchildren so that the parents could go to the center without the distractions of the boys?

Well, once there the staff seemed quite surprised that no one had prepared Jeanne and Kolya about the seriousness of the baby’s condition. What? Are you serious?

It turns out that precious Baby Girl has pulmonary atresia, a condition that affects 1 in 10,000. Pretty good odds. Unless you’re the 1…see what I mean? For those interested, you can read more about this congenital heart defect on this site from Boston Children’s Hospital.

Turns out this little one will most likely be facing three separate heart operations by the time she turns 4 years old, beginning with one within the first days or hours. The birth will now take place at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore…over 100 miles from home sweet home. We are so thankful for the team that is forming to be ready to treat her immediately, as needed.

For my praying readers, would you be so kind as to lift this dear family up in prayer as the Lord brings them to mind? Would you pray that this little heart will not deteriorate further between now and delivery? Would you pray that the medical team will seamlessly work together to bring about the best results possible? Would you pray for safety on the roads as Jeanne and Kolya make multiple trips for continuing evaluation of Baby Girl? Would you pray that Jeanne and Kolya will know without a doubt that God has this under control, that He is not at all surprised by this, and that He has hand-picked them to be the perfect parents for this little one? May the Lord pour out His grace on them during this time of waiting.

I would love to hear from any of you that have experience with open-heart surgeries in newborns!

May God be glorified through all that takes place. He is good.


Monday in the ‘bury

On Monday morning we woke up to snow! (Not new for us who recently arrived from Kyiv). But fun for Salisbury. Jeanne dressed Milan in multiple layers — including boots that make it a bit difficult for Milan to walk. Jeanne, on the other hand, toting her own heater for at least the next few weeks, tossed on a sweater and flip flops to sit on the step while Milan played. Had to do this early because the snow wasn’t going to be around for long.

Dasha had an appointment that morning, but dropped Jamie and Lydian off with us so that we could grab those few precious moments with them before we were leaving on Tuesday morning. It is still hard for us to believe that our children have children. I mean they really do have children.

There we were in Jeanne’s kitchen. She was busily putting dishes in the dishwasher and Jamie was feeding Lydian. And Milan wanted to stand in his favorite chair to watch his mommy. He also thought it might be fun to force Uncle Jamie out of the chair…subtly, of course. Smart boy.

Jeanne, Milan and I scooted in and out of Town’s End hair salon so Kathy could give me a trim that would last through our month of travel. Hopefully. Returned home to pack/repack the few things that we had removed from our suitcases…and also to put the finishing touches on a devotional that I would be presenting later that evening.

Jim and Milan enjoyed another book together — complete with snacks. Sometimes I wish that I DIDN’T take so many pictures because it is a bit distracting for the kiddos, but then on the other hand I am so thankful for the record of our stay!

That evening was another special time for us in the life of our church there. A fabulous committee of ladies organizes baby showers for the expectant moms in the congregation…Jeanne is on the committee, but had the night off. This night was HER night to be spoiled. And spoiled they did! Thanks to Vira, Charlotte, Anna, and Trish: the punch was actually tasty (not always so, as you know!); the sheet cake was flavorful (how long has it been since we’ve had a bakery cake?!); and she was literally SHOWERED with gifts. This church body is so creative…I was speechless at the generosity and the thought that went into each gift. A handmade quilt?! Personalized onesie?

When the party ended, talk about spoiled, Vira even pulled up the van and loaded it with Jeanne’s gifts, balloons…and the rest of the cake. All we had to do was drive home. And once THERE, Jim helped bring all of the packages in.

48 hours. My heart is full. I am overwhelmed by the goodness of God. His faithfulness through the generations. His love for my family. His care for the details of life.

Jeanne will be taking us to the airport early in the morning. Better get a bit of shut-eye.

Sweet dreams.

Kyiv to Frankfurt to Philadelphia to Salisbury to Delmar

So, have you missed me?

Just kidding.

We were so busy before finally heading to the States that I just couldn’t get pictures onto the computer and blog posts written. I have some GREAT pictures that I will post of some moments before we left, but have finally found a few minutes to actually post about our time here so far.

How much could have happened in just a weekend, you ask? You’d be surprised.

We left Kyiv in the wee hours of Saturday as the city was trying to warm out of a deep freeze. Our dear friend Cara offered to pick us up at 3:00 a.m. and get us to the airport. (Is that a good friend or what?!) The roads had been clear and no more snow had fallen, so what could go wrong, eh?

Well, to start with, we weren’t exactly ready to go when she arrived. Packing and creating space in drawers for house guests while we’re gone…and cleaning so they wouldn’t turn around and leave…took longer than expected. I must say I wasted a bit of time trying to check in online … FINALLY made it happen, but without time to print the boarding pass. Ugh.

So, anyway, Cara is behind the wheel and we notice that the roads are getting a bit slippery. That is, when we could even SEE the roads. Fog completely engulfed us several times and we wondered whether we had missed exits, etc. Didn’t help when the main road we were on was totally closed to traffic. No warning. Just barricaded. We turned around and Cara set out on a back-road plan to get to the airport. But again, we couldn’t see any landmarks along the way to know whether we were still even going the right direction. A bit scary, but Cara did a SUPERB job of navigating. We went to check-in — normally an obnoxiously long process in Kyiv — and we waited only a few minutes before someone pleasantly checked us in, weighed our bags, and sent us on our way upstairs. Once upstairs, we again had a minimal wait at security and also at passport control. Quite possibly the easiest departure we’ve ever had.

Flew to Frankfurt, switched planes and headed to Philly. Again, no problems. Managed to stay awake to watch a couple of movies — gotta love Footloose (the original) with Kenny Loggins singing the theme song. I was trying not to dance out of my seat — I taught many an aerobics routine to that soundtrack! Fun.

Time to grab a bite to eat in the Philly airport before flying the last leg to Salisbury, Maryland. How sweet to have Jeanne, Kolya AND Milan waiting for us. Unfortunately our little guy eventually woke up and wasn’t interested in sleep when we got to his house. Jim and I both went to bed before Milan. (Sorry, Jeanne and Kolya. Just couldn’t stay awake another minute!)

The next morning I was up early and thought I might as well get my shower over with before everyone else was up. Five of us needed to be ready for church by 9:15. When I entered the guest bathroom, I just grinned…yeppers! We really WERE at their home — not just a dream!! (Thanks, Aunt Biz, for making bath time such fun!)

Milan and his daddy skyped with relatives in Ukraine before we all headed to church. A very special service and a wonderful afternoon followed. But that’s going to have to be another post…




This warms Grammy’s heart to see her grandsons playing together…also knowing that their Moms are also together!

I don’t think you could ever send me too many videos.

Thanks, Dasha, for shooting and sending the video. Thanks, Jeanne, for getting Milan over to Lydian’s place!

First metro ride

I love this picture of this sweet family’s first metro ride. I think that Milan can adjust to new things as long as his daddy’s arms are holding him! What comfort. (Makes me remember to trust my own Heavenly Father’s strong arms supporting me when I venture into new areas…)

Today the clan is returning from western Ukraine to Kyiv to begin the last minute shopping, packing, visiting that will take place before their early departure on Thursday. I am looking forward to hearing about Milan’s adventures with his other grandmother and multiple aunts, uncles and cousins.

Please pray for them as they travel back today. For the trip out, Kolya’s brother drove them. Today they are using public transport — small buses (one transfer) for this 5+ hour journey. Milan isn’t a big fan of being held all day, so the small bus could present some challenges, to say the least. And the buses can become quite stuffy…even sometimes a bit chilly…so praying for a comfortable temperature. Otherwise, off will come Milan’s pants so he’s not overheated…followed, most assuredly, by passengers trying to keep him bundled! Folks here have no problem expressing their views on how you care for your child!

Sleep, Milan. Grammy will stay up with you tonight, as needed.

Name that tune

A musical interlude during Milan’s visit with his great-grandmother. He rather likes the baby grand piano, and didn’t even need to watch his fingers. Any requests?

I understand that there is a video of these two playing a duet — can’t wait to see it!

Looking forward to seeing both of these characters at the end of the summer.

(Safe travels on the return to Maryland, Kotiash family!)

Road trip

I love that Jeanne, Kolya, and 8-month-old Milan have just made their second 12-hour road trip to visit his great-grandma in Ohio. And I love that friends will take that sweet little family in and make them feel right at home.

And I love that skype works across the miles and I get to see everyone, too. Just a teensy bit envious that they’re all together, but thankful that I can observe.

The little munchkin adjusts so well…happy, sleeping appropriately, investigating his new surroundings.

Love, love, love.

50 years ago today

…Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.


But 50 years ago the first man orbited the earth!

[Once upon a time there was a video here, but it seemed to knock the sidebar off and so it is now deleted. Lots of options on youtube if you’d like to see this historical flight]

(And 28 years ago today Jeanne and Anna entered this world…happy birthday!)

Road trip

Today is one of those days that I would have very much liked to be with my children. Daughters Anna and Jeanne were taking a short trip to the Philly airport to pick up a friend with a 24-hour layover. Georgia is actually on her way to Ukraine — to our flat, to be exact — and she wanted to take the opportunity to visit the kids and meet sweet Milan. Georgia was the chief designer for the decorations at Jeanne and Kolya’s wedding and reception…has it really been three years already?

In addition to a fun road trip — praying that Milan enjoys it as much as the girls — and getting to see a friend first met in Ukraine, upon their return to Salisbury they will walk into a baby shower given by our church there for daughter-in-law Dasha. Baby Boy Peipon is due next month.

This would have been the perfect day for me to tagalong.

(Oh, well. Much was accomplished on this side of the Pond: Newsletter completed. Language somewhat studied. Website progressing.)

Obolon green

I ran across this picture a few weeks back — taken a few years ago — and have just been waiting for St. Patrick’s Day to post it.

Kolya’s first-ever experience with green beer. It might well have been his last, but I can’t say for sure.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!