greetings from the Baran household!

Another year has passed and once again we seem to find ourselves in a panic to catch up to the season. We still have cards to send, have to buy our tree, and presents, and plan the next several weeks as we coordinate our four calendars.

In typical fashion, we've had a very busy year. Can't seem to come up with what exactly it was that we've accomplished - but we were sure busy! We've had a year filled with good friends, family and fun. We shared the joy of family visits, events and weddings :)

We started 2003 with the continuing celebrations of the Christmas season. This included welcoming exchange students from Chernivtsi, Ukraine. This poor group arrived in Saskatoon at the coldest, bleakest time of year. But, we kept them warm! Marko kept an active series of digital pictures ( posted almost every day. This became a hit for families back in Ukraine who would wake up each morning and check out what was happening in Saskatoon. Hosting these students was the second part of Marko's high school educational-cultural exchange which saw him travel to Ukraine during Easter break 2002.

This July, Nissa and Marko both travelled back to Ukraine with Lastiwka Ukrainian Choir who toured and performed numerous concerts throughout western Ukraine along with Pavlychenko Folklorique Ensemble Ukrainian dance group. For three hot weeks they sampled life without air conditioning, computers, their own vehicles, cell phone, microwave - to name a few of the 'hardships'. But, they came back with great experiences and tales to share! They ate at a sushi restaurant with their cousin Oleh who lives in Kyiv; visited with their dido Theodor Baran's brother and other cousins in Lviv; travelled to Peremyshlany to the gravesite of the great grandmother and the marker of their great-grandfather Blessed Martyr Emelian Kowcz; took over seven hundred pictures; shopped in local grocery stores as well as markets; and were backstage in theatres and opera houses that were 4 & 5 hundred years old! There experiences spanned from the very primitive to the ultra modern European. Imagine our surprise though, when one report home from Nissa gleefully stated that she had gotten married!

Their tour coordinator arranged for both groups to create their own traditional hutzul (mountain people) wedding - fake - mock - just for fun (please do not send gifts!). Nissa was selected as the bride and a Pavlychenko dancer was chosen as the groom. The entire mountain village was involved in preparing a variety of traditional foods and refreshments, music, horses for the bridal party, extra guests and even a church complete with a very real priest! The festivities continued throughout the day. If you visit the Lastiwka site, you can see the participants gathering at the church in the foothills of the Carpathian mountains. Their celebrations even became a highlight for a bus of tourists who stopped to take pictures of the 'traditional wedding'!




Photos: At the monument to the Founders of Kyiv, after a concert, the "wedding", a group photo at the Taras Shevchenko monument in Lviv.

When they returned home it wasn't long before we headed off to the cottage to get some real work done. In 1998, we poured a cement pad for eventual construction of a garage. The time had finally come to build! Builder Bob, along with muscle of a few other hard workers, had the job finished in a week. He then went directly into getting ready for 2004 project of a bunk house for Nissa and Marko to move into. This will finally give Bob and I the opportunity to make ourselves a real bedroom in the cottage and able to move out of our 6 x 8 closet! The area in the yard got cleared and levelled, a storage shed was conveniently moved over to the other side of the yard and a footing was poured for the foundation of the building (middle right picture). It wasn't all work at the cottage this summer. We celebrated Baba's birthday, Marko's birthday, welcomed visitors and just had a relaxing time whenever we could! It's certainly Lucy's favourite place to be too! Nissa and Marko were even successful with their bathtub boat - after the first few failed attempts!





Photos: First wall goes up, a view from the road, finished! pouring the foundation, moving the shed, Marko's birthday, bathtub 'race', Lucy on a forest path

When Bob wasn't working outside, he was working inside - namely the kitchen. We all very much enjoy his nalysnyky (crepes), holubtsi, varenyky, stews, apple pies, to name only a few of his delicacies. And, we especially like washing it all down with his most excellent wine! :)

When Bob is not spending time with his alternate stresses, he continues with employment in Building Standards Branch with the city of Saskatoon. Other spare time finds him volunteering on various Boards within our community.

Currently, Nissa, (third year physics) and Marko (second year university) are in the middle of first term exams. Both are still part of the Lastiwka choir as well.

Marko's spare time is spent with curling. He plays on a junior men's team, a men's team, and also welcomes the opportunity to sub for other teams. He even made $5 last weekend in a bonspiel. Whoopy! He is sure to go far with earning that kind of income after two days of work. Their junior team has earned a spot in the northern playdowns (Nipawin, January 2) and are hoping to make it to provincials.

Nissa spends her spare time on the roof of the physics building looking at the stars - and making a few dollars cashiering at Extra Foods. She is also looking forward to working some shifts at the U of S campus observatory starting in January.

Me, I'm into my second year managing a university student residence. As if spending time with two students isn't enough I choose to spend my days surrounded with 55 more. It's great! Oh, the stories......

Time to wind up. Putting this news together has been fun - We looked through the many pictures of this past year and talked and laughed about the things we did. It's been a good year. For this we are truly thankful.

From our house to yours we send wishes for a very merry Christmas and a happy healthy new year!

Від Миколая до Йордана бажаємо всього найкращого - Веселих Свят та щасливого нового року!



bsnm baran