Give thanksI do love living in an area that has four seasons. My most favorite seasons are fall and spring because they are less extreme than summer and winter. Especially here in Ukraine. Thankfully I prefer the cold of winter — snow rather than cold bone-penetrating rain…brrrrrr — over the heat of summer. This summer wasn’t so sizzling, but some years I have just wanted to climb into the fridge. Fall appeared with its cooling temperatures and I so love the bright yellows and golds as the leaves prepare to drop.

Today while walking around Podil with Jim, the cold winter breeze made itself known. Blustery. Actually quite chilly, though I won’t say cold yet. Cold is really really cold here. Really. Until we have inches of ice on the sidewalk, and trucks hauling snow away from the streets, then it’s not yet winter. Nor really cold. But it’s coming.

And as much as I love the white blanket of snow covering the dirt of the city, I do also love living in the city of flowers. Spring is amazing. The whole city smells new! Everyone comes alive after hibernating through the last month of winter — typically gray, wet, dirty…with everyone wearing black or grey. Bright colors on the trees, in the gardens, and on the clothes. Truly a sight for sore eyes.

Just wish it didn’t turn back into summer for sooo long.


Good Morning Girls winter study

2014_10151312379669492_440454881_nI am actively involved in another Good Morning Girls online Bible study. Over the next 8 weeks, women from around the world (and in 9 languages) will be studying the first eight chapters in the gospel as recorded by Luke.

Study groups interact either through e-mails, blogs or facebook groups. I’m involved in a group that meets via facebook and if someone reading this would like to take part, please let me know. We are quite a varied group from all around the globe.

W1D1 (week 1, Day 1) started today, so you are not too far behind to join us. We have five readings a week and study using a program called SOAP…Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer. Some days take longer than others, and there is a focus on slow meditative reading. Short but oh so sweet.

I am so looking forward to slowly concentrating on what Luke, the physician, has to say. Being married to a pediatrician I know that doctors are trained to notice details, ask penetrating questions and draw logical conclusions. They also meticulously record EVERYTHING that may have importance. This will be interesting! (Meticulously recording does NOT necessarily mean legibly recording…just to keep things honest…)

To learn more about this group, click through to the Good Morning Girls website here.

And for those with children, explore the website to learn about materials put together for you to use with your children as you look at this book of Luke!

New Year’s Eve eve

DSCN3964Jim and I spent some time last evening walking around Maidan (the main square in downtown Kyiv) and other nearby spots so that we could see the excitement building for New Year’s Eve. Our plan is to NOT be on the square tonight at midnight, but we DID want to get a feel for what’s happening.

The lights are really amazing this year. So many of the buildings facing the square and along the main street Khreshchatik are decked out with bazillions of lights!

We started at the TOP of the hill and walked down to Globus and overlooked the square. The New Year’s tree is really a beauty this year — I have been disappointed that the past years have been more commercial advertising than a festive New Year’s tree. The lights on the tree are in continual motion…adding a layer every few seconds until the full tree is lit, but only for a few seconds. Almost immediately the bottom layers begin to darken and we wait again for the brightness to return from the top down.

DSCN3970We then strolled up the street where the ‘House with Chimeras’ is located. I felt like I had stepped into Narnia — frozen gargoyles and other strange creatures amidst snow and beautiful lights. Made me pray for Aslan to end the snow and bring on spring. Very strange.

We cut through the Passage and stopped for a cup of coffee before reaching the hustling bustling street level of Khreshchatik and the Square.

Several kiosks are selling souvenirs as if we were on Andriivsky Uzviz (the shopping street), but some of the kiosks took on the flair of a Christmas bazaar. And of course lots of food and drinks were offered.

DSCN3972Huge screens with winter scenes helped create some of the atmosphere, along with a carousel (with see-through covering to protect riders from the wind!), more than a few Father Christmases, sleighs and carriages as props for family portraits, and the unfortunate headless Minnie Mouse. Children enjoyed the train ride around the square as well.

One of the large screens was more of an advertisement than adding atmosphere…no question that Bud has arrived in Kyiv and is alive and well!

DSCN3977As we slid back home on the thick ice, we thought about the revelers that will be out and about tonight and were thankful that a quiet evening at home suits us so much better. Time to talk, to enjoy special foods, and to thank God for an amazing 2012…and appealing to Him for direction in 2013.

Happy New Year!

Glorious winter day

We had a glorious walk to church yesterday!

Gunny Hill

You just have to love a town that sends these notices to townspeople:

Gunny Hill Status Thursday, December 16th, 2010

In response to the current temperature and predicted snow, Gunny Hill was barricaded this morning to allow for safe sledding. A fire barrel with ample firewood has been placed midway on the hill for your use. Even though this roadway is closed to through traffic, residents that live on Gunny Hill will still be slowly driving in this area to get to their homes. When the snow begins to melt, the roadway will be reopened and plowed. Please be very careful and enjoy one of Glendale’s oldest traditions.

The Village of Glendale

I’m not sure where the name Gunny Hill came from — it is NOT the name of the street that is barricaded — but this hill runs right down the middle of Glendale, Ohio. Sledding on Gunny Hill was a highlight of the season…not every winter did we get enough snow to slide down this hill.

Good to know that Glendale is ready for the weather! Kids, get the wax out and prepare the runners for a great ride. And take advantage of the fire built halfway up the hill to warm up before your next downhill adventure.

Ah, memories.

Big city with a small town feel

We live in a huge city that is occupied by four million people. And some reports say even more. I am definitely NOT a big city girl, but I must admit that the convenience of public transport — metro, tram, bus — is a huge plus to living in a city. A private car for most of us would be a luxury. (It’s a different story if you live outside the city limits…)

Much of the time we simply walk. To the grocery store. To the rinok to purchase fresh produce. To the post office (when we receive that occasional package). To the cafe to meet friends for a cup of coffee. And, of course, to the public transport stations and stops. Millions of people crowding the sidewalks could make that quite uncomfortable for me.

We feel truly blessed to live on a street that is divided by a wide pathway that is lined with trees. As we walk back to our flat from the rinok we purposely choose to take the center median. And this is our view:

Kyiv is proud to be one of the greenest capitals in Europe, if not in the world. And we particularly enjoy that fact — in all seasons. But I think it’s particularly beautiful to walk down a tree-lined path covered with a fresh blanket of snow.

Doesn’t feel quite so much like a big metropolis.

That time of year — Day 19

December 19 is celebrated in Ukraine as St. Mykola Day. Children anticipate chocolate or special cut-out cookies, so I did some baking before I went to visit my special friends in the hospital — only three were in the room on Friday. Have I mentioned lately what a treat it is for me to be able to visit these orphans who have no parent to care for them in the hospital? Last week I was privileged to introduce a new friend to the pleasures of this room. He wrote a blog about that time here.

Also in Ukraine, people who are named for the saints enjoy special recognition on their saint’s day. My language teacher celebrates her name day in January, for example, and people call her to wish her good health, success, etc. and present her with small gifts.

Well, Jeanne’s Kolya is actually Mykola, so December 19 takes on added importance to our family. I gave him a small heart-shaped cookie when he and Jeanne arrived at our flat on Friday afternoon. And then we had another couple over for a fun night of hot mulled wine, sweet treats, and laughter!

Typically there will be several evenings throughout the holidays when we have a crockpot of red wine simmering, the scent of the mulling spices wafting throughout the flat. A great way to warm up after sliding across the icy sidewalks to get home!

That time of year — Day 18

Yikes! I got so busy creating snowflakes that I forgot to post the site!

When you’re feeling creative and have a few moments, be sure to check out this site and create a snowflake!

You also get a chance to “catch” snowflakes as they fall. Let me know if you catch any of mine!!

Enjoy. Think white. Create a blizzard!

(I’ll be looking for YOURS!)

That time of year — Day 10

This is one of my favorite wintertime pictures, and it is on display every year once we see snow!

When we lived in Salisbury, Maryland, the winters were not too severe and not too very long, so expensive winter snowsuits were only needed briefly throughout a whole season. And sometimes winters only had flurries, so a snowsuit really was unnecessary.

Jamie was born in April and so his 18-24 month sized snowsuit worked well that next winter. (He weighed over 9 pounds at birth…) And I hoped against hope that he would be able to wear it again the following winter. At the time we had two 3-year-olds nearing 4 and Jamie fast approaching 2, so we were careful with our clothing budget. Wouldn’t you know that we had a very white winter that year?! I just couldn’t imagine buying a new snowsuit with no child to hand it down to, so I squeezed Jamie into the old one, put on his boots, and ventured into the backyard for some fun in the snow.

He lost his balance and fell forward. But the snowsuit was so small that he couldn’t bend at his knees. He was actually stuck in that position! I began to laugh and told him to wait there (as if he could go anywhere) while I ran back inside for the camera. (Pre-digital and too large to carry around to capture every moment of the day!) Anyway, I scooped up the camera and ran back outside to snap the picture. Still laughing. And that precious little guy, stuck in the snow, actually SMILED for this picture.

That time of year — Day 02

Snowflakes. Snowmen. Snow. Snow. Snow. I absolutely love decorating our home not just for the holiday season, but also for winter itself. Snowflakes, penguins, snowmen — they go up early and stay up for months!

A woman in our church cuts intricate snowflakes out of paper and simply gives them away as a “thank you” or “just because.” No two are identical. I tape them to our windows each year; some of the flakes are growing very thin where I place the scotch tape each year, but I have only torn a very few that could not be repaired!

Eight tape circles per snowflake. Sixty-four snowflakes. (You do the math.)