Friday, December 30, 2011

Bookmarks for Mimi!

Today is my mother-in-law's birthday.  So what kind of gift can the grandkids give their Mimi when she lives 7,100 miles away from them?  Picture bookmarks! 
This is another idea I saw on Pinterest and just knew I had to do.  You can click here to see the original idea.  You can also use this idea and make some fun magnets for your refrigerator, which I haven't tried... yet.

First of all, I took pictures of the kids and had them pretend they were holding onto a rope.  This didn't take much persuasion at all.  They were more-than-willing little actors and enjoyed coming up with their own poses.  In fact, I later had so many pictures it was difficult to decide between them all.  However, I ended up trying to choose three different, unique poses for each child.

Our nearly 11-month old baby was the most difficult to pose since he doesn't sit still for long.  It is challenging to take a picture of him that doesn't turn out blurry since he is a man-on-the-move. We finally decided to sit him in the bathtub (to corral him) and hold a toy over his head.  This was the result:

I then cut the pictures out and made a little customized flower pot for the baby, so that he did not look like his body was cut off.  This worked out well!

I then had the pictures laminated at our local Kinko's printing shop, cut 'em out again, cut little holes in 'em, and added some beautiful rope-like string I already had.
{Below} And, here they are, lying in a Bible opened to our Mimi's favorite Bible verse, Nahum 1:7.
  {Below} Our three silly big kids, excited to send their creations to their Mimi.
 {Below}  Brianna, signing her Mimi's birthday card

We love you, Mom, and hope these little bookmarks bring you many smiles, delight, and pleasure to your daily morning Bible-reading time!

Happy Birthday!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas 2011 at Simferopol Baptist Church

(All thanks to the Van Sants for these pictures.  We were in church Christmas day, but with sick children; therefore, taking pictures was not on my list of priorities!)

In deaf church...

{Below} Deaf pastor, Slava, preaching

{Below} Signing/singing "Silent Night"
  {Below} Deaf children (with their families) receiving presents

 And in hearing church...

{Below} Receiving gifts!

Doesn't it just feel right to be in God's house on Christmas Day?!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tour My Home - part 8: {main area}

Welcome to... the grand finale!  This last area, the main area, consists of our living room, kitchen, dining room, and office space.  In reality, this living space is the whole second half of our house, and I am showing it all to you in one post!

I don't think you will ever know how much we sacrificed to get to this point in our home.  (You can actually see a little of it here and here.)  But, let me tell ya... it was worth it.  We scrounged and saved to get to this point, and are now enjoying the benefits.   

{Below}  I am standing in the door of Brianna and Micah's room, taking this picture.  If you turn right, you will be heading out the back door.  If you turn left, you will find the master bedroom and both bathrooms.  But, since we've already been to those spaces, let's walk straight ahead!
{Below} Welcome to our big, open space!  I timed this post just right so that you could see it decorated for the holidays.
{Below}  That door to the right leads to our boys' bedroom...

 {Below}  Since we do not have dryers in Ukraine, many people have asked where I hang our clothes during the winter.... Here is your answer... (Yes, I would prefer that they be hidden in a bedroom somewhere, but I don't like the mugginess it creates.  They dry faster out in the open, and we hardly notice them anymore.)

 {Below}  This is hubby's desk.  I also want you to notice the picture hanging on the wall, which is what we gave him for Father's Day this year.  Love it!
 {Below}  This is my desk which sometimes has a laptop setting on it (when hubby hasn't taken it to the church to work).

{Below}  My view from the kitchen sink.  I see nearly everything that goes on in my home (but my kids still think I have eyes in the back of my head... LOL!

{Below}  No such thing as dishwashers here, so are you wondering where I put my clean, wet dishes to dry?  Wonder no more.... See that drying rack that is disguised as a drawer?  Pretty smart invention, eh?
{Below}  You might remember our wood-burning stove that faithfully kept us warm our first two winters in this home.  We are actually thinking of selling it now!  Our tile floors are heated, and now that we have worked the kinks out, we love them.  The only heat we have in this entire area comes from the floors, and we stay cozy warm this way.  Gotta see (feel) it to believe it!
{Below} See that hole in the ceiling?  One day we dream of building a wooden staircase in that wide, open area that will lead to the attic.  And, in the attic, we plan to build our three boys a big bedroom!
{Below}  Since hubby and I both play the piano, having a piano in our home was a very high priority.  I am teaching all three of our oldest children, and when they "outgrow" me, we will find them a "real" piano teacher.
 {Below}  Looking back to Brianna and Micah's room (left) and the main bathroom (right)

Left to finish in this room:
*  Baseboards
*  Staircase
*  Curtains
*  Large, area rug for living room
*  Light fixtures in several sections of this area
*  Office cabinets and bookcases to replace the two desk  (and our big boys will get the desk for their homeschooling spaces to replace their tables.)
* Decorate, decorate, decorate....!   I still have all kinds of decorating dreams for this room...  But, one day at a time...

So, that about wraps it up!  I really hope that you enjoyed this "Tour My Home" series.  I enjoyed having you come along.  Do you feel like you know us better now?

God has been so good to us!  Even though we have seemingly made many sacrifices by leaving our comforts back home, the Lord has provided for us in great, big ways that we do not deserve.  Yes, we have had to be smart with our decisions and spending, but that is no different than if we lived anywhere else in this world.

Thank you, Lord, for this beautiful home You have given me.  And thank you, hubby, for seeing your dream of providing me my first OWN home ever fulfilled.  

I am forever grateful.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Family Christmas pictures 2011

In America, having family pictures printed as Christmas cards has been popular for years.  But, that is something that is not done here in Ukraine yet.  Since I love all things "picture," I have been thinking about making up my own.

And, since one idea breeds another, I immediately knew I wanted to do this for Christmas and thought, "Candy canes instead of tootsie pops sure would be PERFECT!"  The only problem is, we do not have candy canes here.  No problem, then.  Ukrainians don't associate candy canes with Christmas anyway! 

I got started on my project right away.  We haven't worn short sleeves here in a couple of months, so you can see that this picture (below) was not recent.
Then, I uploaded my picture to the amazing online photo-editing program Picnik.  I enhanced the colors, added  festive hats, "snow" (do you think they will believe it was snowing while my kids were wearing short sleeves?!), and a frame.  Then, I added the Russian text (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year) through another program [from that is downloaded to my computer] since the online program Picnik does not type Russian text.  And there you have it! (below)
 Still not done, though.  Then, we bought lots of little suckers...
 I got an X-acto knife, ruler, and old cutting board...
 ...cut around Nate's hand and added a sucker!
 And here it is, all complete!
 When I finish this project, I will have enough to give each family in our church here on Christmas Day!
So, there you have it... our version of a family Christmas card to give out this year.  Thoughtful, inexpensive, easy, and just down-right fun!  I mean, who doesn't love to receive candy from cute, smiling kids?!