Two weekends ago, I spent the weekend in the Ukrainian children’s hospital #8. Andre had been waking up in the night with a weird barky cough, and I thought it’d just go away because during the day he was fine, save for a stuffed nose.

Not so. So Saturday-into-Sunday-am  night, he woke up in the night with that cough, a high fever, and fast, loud breathing. We decided to call the ambulance-doctor.

A lot of people use that here because the medical service is free (the medicines are not). The doctor came and said he had “stenosis” which is stricture of the breathing ways (or something like that) and was in the first stage of pneumonia. He gave him a shot and that helped, and called the ambulance to take us to the children’s hospital.

I decided that I would stay with Andre and take Una, too, as Vitaliy had a baptism that morning. The doctor also said Una sounded bronchitis-y, too, so she also should be treated.

The ambulance personnel came, got us down into the ambulance, put Andre on a stretcher in the back and I sat back there with Una, too, and one ambulance guy. We road to the hospital. It was dark and cool. A long drive, too.

We stood outside the door in the night, the guys ringing or knocking, and someone came to let us in.

Then I sat with them both in the receiving room where a doctor checked them both again. Weighed them, looked in their throats, listened to their breathing. This all took maybe an hour.

They then took us in the ancient, huge elevator up to the fourth floor (infections).

We were put in a room with 2 other mom-baby pairs. One baby was 2 months, the other 5 months. The moms were really nice and chatty and helpful, not overly so, as everyone in the room also needed sleep and stuff.

Here are some day-time pictures.



There was a sink in the room. The toilet was out in the hall, for everyone. The furniture was 4 adult beds, 4 cribs, 4 nightstands, and a general table (in the photo below).



Then we had Sunday, our first day. I was pretty tired from the night action. But hey, nothing like a 3yo and curious 1yo to keep someone awake :)

I decided to let Una crawl around on the floor in the room. I think this was a bit shocking maybe, culturally, but the alternative was trying to keep her up on the bed when she was constantly trying to get off the bed. It was OK.

I was given this list of meds to buy (see photo below), so Sunday am, while Andre was still sleeping, I slinged Una on, and the nurses told me to walk down the street a bit to find the pharmacy. And they told me that the second one (they are side by side) was much cheaper, so try there first.

Very helpful personnel! In the photo, the top half is stuff for Una and dosages/times to give, and the bottom half is the same for Andre. I later went to talk to a nurse to make sure I understood when to give everything. It was rather mind-boggling. One thing a half hour before food for Andre, then 15 minutes before food, then 10 minutes after food. Then some it didn’t matter. Then some 2 x’s a day for Una and 3 x’s a day for Andre. Wow. I later understood that this list was to hold us through the weekend until the main doctors got there.


The janitor lady also showed me around–the toilet, food (a little kitchen on the small floor where you got your breakfast and lunch (they didn’t have dinner). It was cream of wheat or soup usually.

I realized we were all waiting for Monday. Monday is when the 2 main doctors came in and they did all the analyses (blood, urine, stool, ultrasounds).

Then there was the regime of the hospital. They gave each child shots in the bottom morning and evening. As we were leaving Monday, we figured out they’d been giving Una the antibiotic shots that should’ve been for Andre  … but oh well! “It’s because of Russia,” the doctor joked.)

Sunday afternoon, Vitaliy came with the girls and we went out for a walk and dinner with all the kids just on our street. Vitaliy asked if we could go home because it was kinda crazy trying to keep two little kids in that room. They said we could sign the papers rejecting their care and go to a private clinic for all the tests, or if I wanted to wait there, they’d do all the testing for free on Monday morning. So we decided to wait.

Sunday evening, we (all the moms) were given plastic jars to collect the test specimens for Monday lab–anal swab, urine, and stool. I didn’t get stool for either or urine for Una, but by that time, I didn’t really care and figured they’d have enough to work with, with their blood tests.

By the end of Monday morning, the children were traumatized: We did shots, then blood draws, then ultrasounds of their internal organs, and nebulizer breathing.

Then the doctors came around. The head doctor and other guy. They were both fairly gregarious and looked over all the kids in the room, chatting with the moms, etc. One gave a small lecture about feeding children, and that was interesting.

(Did you know that the profession of pediatrics was developed in response to the invention of formula feeding in the 1800s? They helped determine food dosages.)

Then we all waited for analyses to talk to the doctors again.

Vitaliy came early afternoon, we talked to the guy, and he told us what antibiotics to buy, deleted most of what the first list had said, and just to give them a make-you-cough syrup on there.

So we were driving home, and deciding to give antibiotics or not. And all things considered (test results, chat with the doctor, the kids’ conditions), we decided not, but we immediately started nebulizer treatments and 2 syrups, modified diet. And they were well in about 3 days.

The hospital was a fine experience. I got the feel of that soviet, being-in-the-system feel, and I also got to get out of it when it didn’t serve me any more(American? assertive husband? confident in giving care myself?).

The personnel were nice to me (and mostly pretty nice to the Ukrainians, too).

In my home town, Chattanooga, is a lovely tea shop, the English Rose. It’s worth a visit.

They use tea cozies to keep the pot of tea warm. I love the look of them. I’ve thought of sewing one. But it’s pretty far down on the want-to-do list.

So today was the group yard sale hosted by the local Christian school. We went, we spent.

I picked up this three-piece set for 50 cents! I like that it’s Ukrainian style.


Vika got this tea pot for free there because the spout is chipped.


Interesting find!



I am so tired. I mean, I’m to the point where I want to just cry because I am tired.

Nothing major has happened, just a wedding last Saturday where I took part in some of the program (planning, practice, light stress), then an important phone call to plan for, then the girls’ school which I still love but it takes time and effort, hosting another baby shower at our place (2 in about 2 weeks time), out-of-country guests that I gabbed with until the wee hours, recording another moms video.

It’s all just adding up. And there’s no rest for the weary.

So Vitaliy left for Belarus today. Single parenting is much easier now that Skyla and Vika are older, but I still start feeling depressed, like what on earth is the value of my life? and what am I doing here??

I’m working on a new website–yay–but I feel like, what on earth do I want to say? I’m so tired I feel like I have no purpose, no specialty, nothing great. And it all adds to my current feeling of pointlessness.

I know, I just need to go to bed, and it will all go away. Then my naturally calm, fairly-optimistic self will just pop back out. I just need to go to bed.

But I can’t. It’s too loud with four kids :)

So I think things like, oh, I should just start studying midwifery again! Surely that is important enough to cover up my feelings that I’m “doing nothing” with my life.

And then, I know I can’t. I have minus energy level, so trying to pump meaning into my life with that activity will just suck out the energy I need just to keep functioning and wash the dishes yea one more time.

So it’s like… Just learning to live with this low energy–light depression level, and know by faith that I don’t need to search for some kind of meaning by filling up my tired time.

Sleep will come again.

Somehooooooowwwww ….

Somewheeerrre ….

Some waaaaaayyyyyy!!!!!

(That’s from a song, in a movie, that I can’t remember the name of in this mental fog.)

… But I feel much better just having shared that with you all. :)

Video home school

Knock me down with a feather.

(I will preface this by saying that this way of home schooling is not right for everyone, nor is it some ideal that somehow magically will work out the same effects in your home as it has in mine.)

Deep breath.

Home schooling: I’m all about Charlotte Mason and … I had lovely visions of peering at wildflowers in meadows and hours of reading aloud. My children gleefully imbibing generally wonderful things.

Does Reality have to come along every time?

I fall asleep reading aloud. One child hates (capital-H Hates) “school” and cannot spell to save her life (though she excels at other, very important life skills). My other child walks the streets reading books. She is bankrupting me because I pay them paltry sums for reading in order to encourage my I-hate-reading daughter to read (and that works, too).

I don’t know. Home schooling nothing like I imagined it. There have been brief moments where it is like I imagined it. But the bulk of it has puzzled me. I just haven’t enjoyed a lot of it either.

So, you know. I think I’ve kind of committed a bit of home school blasphemy by trying out video school. Like, lessons every day and textbooks, and teachers. The purist-idealist in me has cringed a thousand times.

I wanted to try it for one year. I need to get my kids caught up academically. I dislike the “teaching” part of home schooling (hello?), and the parts I disliked were sapping all my fun and energy for doing things I wanted and liked doing as a home schooling mom.


It’s been a week. We’ve done more school this week than we have in a long time. Wow.

Video school is not perfect, it has it’s downsides. But I’m still rolling around in and enjoying the upsides.

  1. I spend almost all day interacting with my girls now. I actually feel like we’re becoming interconnected in relational ways that I have desired for a long time. They’re not just watching videos alone in a room (they are both in fourth grade). I’m right there, watching most of it with them, getting their papers organized, re-stating things, doing assignments together. It gives us a lot to talk about and shared experiences.
  2. Teachers are so creative! And I do the fun extras! that I love! In the first week, we’ve made pull-apart bread (science), made origami frogs (Exodus plagues), and we’re doing a reading contest.
  3. They are being challenged academically in ways I do not have the fortitude, discipline, or energy to do. For example, each one actually wrote journal entries. Journal entries, people.
  4. They are getting along better–their time is filled and in constructive ways.
  5. They are being exposed to people (teachers) who value education, intellect, and thinking skills–we don’t have people in our lives here giving them that inspiration, direction, and encouragement.

Pull-apart bread:


Andre saw their reading contest charts and wanted his own, so he’s developing more, too! It’s the first time he ever tried coloring in the lines :)


Origami frog.



So, I was praying a few months or years ago that I’d have opportunities to practice hospitality. And I’ve had them. And this weekend is a big one.

I’ve been using Gina Garland’s prayer journal/organizer for a few years now, and she has listed to pray for myself (as a wife) “to be a good cook… willing to learn.” And it’s being answered in ways I never thought of myself.

Here’s her video, by the way, and you can email her to get the pdf file for your own journal:

So I noticed that instead of just following recipes, I like learning the tricks and understanding behind cooking. So I signed up for SmartKitchen lessons for a few months and that gave me a good bit of insight.

The War in Ukraine started, and that really somehow motivated me to express patriotism through cooking Ukrainian. In my teenage-hood, I really enjoyed making breads, too, and still today my bread-y things (like challah, pelmeni, vareniki) turn out well. I remember observing how Vitaliy’s mom does some things, too, like her borshch tricks (adding a spoon of sugar, for example).

So anyway, This Weekend.

It’s my test.

Saturday we’re having a baby shower at our place, and I’ve signed up to make pizza (practiced that) and peach cobbler (practiced that, too). And I want to cut a watermelon to look like a basket or baby stroller or something, but not sure about that yet.

It’s all about timing, too, because then  on Sunday we have 2 older Ukrainian couples coming for lunch (probably but not for sure). And I want to make zharkoye (Ukrainian dish with meat, potatoes, carrots– kind of like stew) and salad (tomato, cucumber, onion) and another peach cobbler for desert.

So, I’ve carefully made my shopping list and today is my buying day. Then tomorrow, I’m starting with pressure cooking the zharkoye meat and getting that cooked up (for reheating Sunday). Then the pizza and cobbler for the evening shower. Then getting the rest cut and ready for quick Sunday prep.

And then to see if it all can look fairly effortless … :)

Yesterday when I wanted to find a youtube video showing how to fold the hinkali, I found this man who does this cooking show in Russia, and I love his style! So I started watching, and I made his pizza today. It was so good!

Here’s how it turned out:


I’m learning new ingredients, too! I bought real mozzarella cheese for the first time, red wine vinegar, and used the homemade tomato sauce a friend had given me here. It was so wonderful, Vika and I scarfed it down!

Also, I cooked the pizza on the bottom side of the cookie sheet (sprinkled with flour) as he recommended, and it was a great tip!





Vitaliy had hinkali in Georgia (the country) and wanted me to try to make it.

So today I did! Thin dough (flour, water, salt) pinched around ground meat (made with onion, garlic, spices and water)20150825_181745

(These are the extra that I’m freezing.)


Boiled then eaten.


My only problem was that I made them too big at first. We didn’t realize how much they expand when they cook. So when I saw that, I made the rest smaller.

Turned out pretty good for the first try!

Here’s the mess:



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