Archive | March 2017

Spring and kids, making memories

Just putting up some photos for the memories:

One of the girls started by taping a paper and a word search on the inside of the toilet door, so we’ve kept it going– doing drawing and messages on the paper and everyone finding words in the word searches. It’s fun.

How God is saving me, a testimony from motherhood

I gave this testimony in church yesterday morning, about how God is saving me (from my sins). And I listened to myself, and I thought how sad it is that I’m 41,and I seem to be still on such a low level of following Jesus, thinking His thoughts, showing His heart.

So in that way, it’s a bit discouraging, but …. at least I’m not where I was 11 years ago, thank You, Lord.

Saturday morning I had a Jesus moment in the kitchen with Una.

We both get up early–we’re the early birds, and we were in the kitchen, I was fixing cream of wheat for breakfast (my kids love this and they eat it almost every morning). Andre woke up too and joined us.

But it was early. Vitaliy, his mom, Skyla and Vika were all still sleeping. It was a busy time in general. The day before, Vitaliy, Skyla, Vika, and I had driving to another city to attend a missions conference, and then home that evening, then this morning, we were driving there again. Andre and Una were staying home with babushka yesterday and that day, Saturday.

So there we are. And Una, she’s 2 and a half, talks a lot. We can mostly decipher what she’s asking for. But she was trying to ask me for something, and I couldn’t figure out what she wanted. Not by repeating, not by asking questions, etc.

So she started to “cry”/yell in frustration. It was tearless yelling/crying.

So then, in my mind I start immediately feeling this pressure– she’s got to stop screaming! Everyone needs to sleep!

So I started telling her, Una, stop crying. I repeated this several times. And I held my hand over her mouth so the screaming couldn’t be heard, and so she would understand that she HAS to stop!

But she didn’t stop.

Now. Here was my moment: What am I going to do?

10 years ago, I would’ve spanked her. … But I don’t spank anymore, and that’s because I try not to use punitive reactions or methods with my kids generally.

That morning, I was thinking, I would take her to Vitaliy and he can get her to lay down, be quiet and probably fall asleep again. But I didn’t want to bug him.

I could feel the strictness, the anger, irritation rising inside me. Now my old way– my kid is NOT obeying me! Punish!!! was not really there. But her childishness was starting to provoke my fleshly reaction of acting more and more strictly.

She is still yelling. I stepped away from her, and started washing the dishes. I honestly did not want to pray. I didn’t want to give up my fleshly way. –That’s the lie–that my fleshly way will be easier, and God’s way will be harder. That flesh dying–yes, that’s hard for the flesh. But in reality, God’s ways– they are life and peace and health to my bones.

So God gave me the grace to start praying about how to show love, gentless, patience, meekness to this child.

Let me insert something. Clay Clarkson’s book, Heartfelt Discipline, has a chapter entitled something like “Instead of Strictness, Sympathy.” I have never forgotten just the title all these years.

I don’t know what all happened to me in those few moments of prayer, but I felt my heart releasing and opening. I waited even a bit more, until the ugly was ALL gone and I was ready to deal with Una and not get immediately angry again if she rebuffed my attempt to help her.

She’s still yelling.

I dried my hands off, got down in front of her, and hugged her and said, “I’m sorry I can’t understand what you want.”

And Una, who loves to hug, immediately ceased yelling and hugged me back, and was ready to move on.

Thank You, God, for being such an example of a Father. Thank You, Jesus, for living out His heart of compassion when You walked among us. Thank You, Spirit, that you live this out in us.

I think often of Isaiah 53 when I think of my children. That is such an emotional passage. For example,

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering….

In some measure, like Jesus, we can carry the pains of our children through sympathy and compassion.

Thank You, God, for how you are saving me. I love You.


*** And I want to add, that today, she also cried a lot like that in the early morning. But I’m not going to set my face against her in punishment. What if she’s feeling the time change? The fact that we were out of the house running hither and yon ALL day long yesterday? That mommy was gone for two days before that? Maybe it’s just some phase in the hard age of two. Maybe she’s not able to express herself otherwise. Maybe she doens’t like being awake with only me. You know? It’s OK. I can graciously, kindly bear the little pains and sufferings of my kids with dignity, and I’m old enough as a parent to not worry that I’m leading them down the path to a life of manipulative selfishness. (I can also step away from the pressure of a two-year-old for a while, thanks to my family 😉


weight loss, 2017

So, I’m sharing the good, bad, and the ugly about weight loss.

Back in November, I stopped following Phase 3 of the Curves eating plans–that’s the maintainance-keep-adding-muscle-losing-fat phase.

I figured I’d “take a break” for the holidays–Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year. Then, I’d start back again…. You know.

Ha. It’s March and I’ve never started back again. I keep working out three times a week though.

So they offer a repeat Food School– a four-week group where we are back on the diet together and we work on motivating ourselves to keep at this discipline for life. I love doing this work in a group!

So I’m all re-excited about this. I’m back on Phase 1 for a week (1200 cal), to re-set my metabolism. The dietician who leads the class says if it’s too hard with breastfeeding (it was hard the first time–I was feeling really bad sometimes), then to move to Phase 2 (1500 cals). I’m breastfeeding a lot less now, so maybe it will be fine.

It’s not so much the calories that are important. It’s what kind of calories they are– a healthy combo of proteins, carbs and fats. (I’m not going to argue about what’s the right thing, there are just too many opinions. I’m just going to follow this diet because it’s varied  and I have great results on it and it keeps me pretty healthy.)

I’m feeling all poophead that my fat percent is back up to 36.8 (I started at 38.something, then got it down to 29.6). And my muscle is down from 31.7 to 27.9.

But I don’t stay poophead for long! It’s still a huge improvement. And on we go again.

I’m excited!

Our 13th anniversary

The first half of the day was Vitaliy getting our van towed to a repair station and me going to the dentist. But a church gal brought to the door a package of chocolates and a card from the church. They are so sweet that way ❤


After the dentist, the 2 kids and I went to a cafe, and we ended up buying new mugs–several of ours had been broken so we’re getting low.

At home again, the kids sang us Happy Anniversary to the tune of Happy Birthday.

And the gave us chocolates and some little cross stitch things–the girls are into cross stitch right now.

And a card

In the evenig, we went on a walk together.

our latest international marriage adventure

During our premarital counseling, we filled out a questionnaire. One question was something like this: “How do you view life?”

And for the answer, we had to choose A. Suffering B. An adventure C. (I don’t remember)

So, of course, Anne the American chose B, an adventure, and Vitaliy the Ukrainian chose A, suffering.

Our lovely counsellor (whose DIL happened to be Latvian, I think) didn’t hesitate and said something like, “This is a very cultural question!” And we dropped it.

Funnily, after living 13 years in Ukraine, I would probably also choose suffering, though maybe part of that is just growing up and experiencing/observing harder life experiences generally, not just the Culture of Injustice that exists in Ukraine.

ANYWAY. The point of all that is to say: Vitaliy was denied a visa to the U.S.! Twice. We were both shocked for a while, but the lady said that he should probably try applying for a Green Card.

So! suffering or adventure–a bit of of both or neither?!–it’s what we’re doing! Sticking this into the “what I never imagined doing in my life” file.


After sending off the first part, he took me out for coffee, and we had a helpful talk about my life which I will probably not blog about until I get further along in my internal processing.

on my paper, you see where I explained the “i before e except after c” rule (to spell receipt).

Victoria’s birthday

In Russian/Ukrainian, Victoria shortens as Vika (VEE-kah). And our sweet Vika recently turned 10! That’s a age with a lot of birthday expectations, so I tried to live up to it 🙂

We woke up, and none of us could bear waiting longer, so she opened her three presents. Then I took her and Skyla to the mall for breakfast.

Then we bought another gift for her in a store upstairs that we all love, that gives a discount on birthdays.

Back home, we packed everyone up and went to big Art Mall. There we visited a peting zoo– that was loads of fun.

Then we had lunch at the food court.

Then Skyla and Vika went to a place called Kids Will, where they have all different professions for kids to try out, and they can earn and spend money. They spent about 3-4 hours in there while Vitaliy and I sat nearby with the little kids playing on an indoor playground (and eventually falling asleep). When they woke up, we headed home.

Then Vitaliy took her for yet another gift– Legos. And then we had candles, cake and ice cream and watched a movie together.

Everyone had loads of fun! It was a neat day in the midst of some stressful days.

Thank you, Lord, for refreshing us through celebrations and through our children.