Just one of the many things we love about homeschooling is the freedom that the lifestyle affords. For many years we have home schooled year round. This way we can use Fridays for out-of-the-ordinary activities, like baking Christmas cookies or going to a museum.
Yesterday was an unusually warm Friday in late January so we took advantage by going for a hike. Elizabeth (second from the left), one of my girls' dear friends since their early childhood, was visiting from Minnesota while on a short college break.
Because Elizabeth was with us, she was able to take a photo that included me and the kids.
After the group shot, we started the hike in earnest and were a bit disconcerted to discover just how deep the white stuff was. In true "mother" style, I suggested we give up and return to the car. Thankfully, the kids talked me into going ahead as planned.
We ended up having a blast despite trudging through 12-18 inches the entire hike.
Alexander was down-right gleeful. What eleven-year-old boy wouldn't enjoy a good romp
in the snow and the chance to hurl snow balls?
At the kids' request, we brought both dogs. They, too, seemed to enjoy our white playground.
One of our canine lovers, Cassandra, was 11-year-old Poochita's aide on the hike.
Daria cared for our puppy, Sunshine. Daria and her charge often ran alongside the trail that the rest of us were blazing in the virgin snow. This gave Sunshine the opportunity to plunge her snout in the white blanket repeatedly. Since Sunshine is part terrier, we presumed she was looking for small prey. Thankfully, her skills as a field-mouse hunter still need honing.
The rest of us had enough to do to just trudge through the deep snow.
By about half-way through the hike, our jeans were soaked to our knees, but the beauty of the morning kept us from misery. We gloried in the splendor of God's creation.
For Tessa and Elizabeth, the hike, which took about three times as long as it usually does, afforded the perfect opportunity for fellowship. Elizabeth will be one of Tessa's bridesmaids.
As the hike went on, Princess Bink (left below) and Natasha grew tired
but helped each other keep moving by holding hands.
Both of these former orphans are still so petite even though they were adopted almost six years ago. Princess Bink, almost nine, weighs just over 40 pounds. Natasha who will be eleven in a few weeks just recently topped 50 pounds. Neither of the girls has yet to make it onto even the bottom of the height-and-weight charts used by physicians.
Princess Bink and Natasha's first mother drank a great deal of alcohol when she was pregnant with each of each of them. We've been told by physicians that one of the outcomes of a pregnant woman drinking too much can be the permanent stunting of her baby's growth. We pray and pray that the Lord, the Great Physician, will heal these two precious girls and enable them to reach full adult stature despite their rough start in life.
Being just six-years-old, Oksana got a boost from her oldest brother, Joe.
In fact, the last third of the trail is a steep, winding hill. Joe carried his little sister the entire way.
When Joe first saw Oksana's photo when we were early in the adoption process, he told us emphatically, "She just has to be ours! She just has to be ours!"
Joe's heart was stolen by the young, dark-eyed beauty long before he had the chance to meet her. Now he is proving to be a picture-perfect older brother to this little girl who is an answer to his prayers, a dream come true.
My man after successfully carrying his 40+ pound sister up the long, steep hill.
Once we reached the end of the circular hike, we still had to walk a short distance on a very muddy dirt road to get to the van. When we reached our vehicle, Cassandra and Daria cleaned the dogs' paws with snow and then lifted them to the waiting transportation that would carry them back to their well-earned mid-day bowl of dog food.
Once the dogs were settled, each of us had to transfer into a clean pair of shoes and place our muddy boots into a large plastic bag.
Here, Tessa is pointing out what a trend-setter she is wearing two different shoes. Meanwhile, Princess Bink is hoping someone will hand her extra pair of shoes over the top of the seat.
Before I climbed in the van, I was able to witness a sweet interaction between Daria and Sunshine.
Until just two months ago, Daria was an animal-loving orphan who had no animal to love.
Now the Lord has provided a comical, naughty puppy to laugh about and adore.
In fact, as I was watching the two of them interact from a distance and taking these photos with my telephoto lens, I heard Daria whisper to Sunshine in Russian, "I love you!" Then, in English, she followed that with, "Do you understand??."
No matter what the language, I think our formerly helpless mutt and our formerly hopeless teen understand each other perfectly.