Thursday, December 30, 2010

Today's a Special Day!

The other day someone made a comment that made me think-- wow what great timing to be asking about them. Who is the them that I am talking about? Well, Nathan and Nicole and their family whom we are really good friends with-- that's who! I haven't been blogging much because they have been here for the last couple of days and well-- time with friends is so much more fun!

Annalyn sporting one of her Christmas gifts-- a reading head lamp-- how cool is that?

Nicole with G

William, Andrew, and Jonny on the trampoline! The kids love it so much!

On a separate note--
Today is a special day!


John and I are celebrating 17 wonderful years of marriage! Woo-hoo! And we are going out with our friends Claudette and Brian! Another woo-hoo! And I don't have to cook, or clean, or put kids to bed! A triple woo-hoo!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Ben Update!

I kept the shoes and stuff for Ben in the car-- just in case. Today we were near where he lives and I decided to stop and see if he was around. He was! I called out to him from across the street and he met us half way. Ben finally got his shoes, a rain slicker, a Christmas card, and a blanket. Adam got to meet him too. He was very pleasant and very appreciative-- just like I remember. Turns out he gets a monthly check that he picks up at the nearby post office and would love to get off the streets. But no men's shelter for him-- he admits to feeling caged in surroundings like those. So I promised to look for either a long stay motel room or a room for rent in the area. He was ecstatic that someone would take the time to look into something like this for him.

Thanks for encouraging me not to give up on Ben!

It Always Is

I have not posted about our trials with a few of the kids lately. Up and down is a good way to describe this past week. One of the middle boys didn't like their seat in the van being taken by another brother and they were further upset when I told them to just go sit in the back. When he thought I turned my back he punched his brother's cookies and then lied about it. So he didn't go to the park. When he wanted to finally get up we discussed what being sorry meant and how he has to understand that had he just listened to me by going and sitting in the back, I would have taken care of his brother's bad behavior and he wouldn't have gotten into trouble.

My two oldest boys decided to give me lip one day about doing the dishes. They wanted to know why the other kids loaded the dishwasher wrong, why the kids didn't rinse their plates, and how I should implement some magical dishwashing plan where everyone takes care of their own dishes. I asked them how they expected me to get 15 kids to do this, when I can't even get 2 of them to listen to me right now. They felt like arguing and arguing and I didn't. They were sent to their rooms with no IPODS and now they have dish duty around the clock for the rest of the week.

One of my daughters has had a bad attitude lately. For the most part it just makes me sad about her because I know her behavior is related to her not receiving any letters from her bio brothers this month acknowledging her birthday or Christmas. Still, no excuse to treat us like dirt and I think she realizes that. Cross out the think-- I know she realizes that.

Whether you have one, two, six, ten, or fourteen kids-- they can wear you down.

Honestly, I was needing a fill up-- and I am sure the kids did too.
So, this morning I gathered with all them for prayer time and a devotional about what gets in the way of having an intimate relationship with God and how we can draw closer to God by also working on our relationships with each other.


Half an hour with God and I am filled back up.

This time with God was like salve put on a wound.

Soothing. Healing.

It always is.

It always is.

Monday, December 27, 2010

It Came!

The second box for the trampoline came today and I didn't even know until the kids were begging me to let them put it together. Within three hours it was up and the kids have been using it nonstop. As I type they are out there with flash lights jumping their little hearts out.

William even snuck in the house to make popcorn! What a party-- now they are begging to sleep outside.

P.S. The hill that you see in the background is the hill that John and the kids climbed and called me from so that I could go in our backyard and watch them wave to us.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

It's a Merry Merry Christmas!

Berry compote, what a wonderful Christmas beverage. And still it brings back so many memories for my girls when they were back in the orphanage. Only difference is Anna misses the occasional nut (apricot pit) she would find in the bottom of her cup that she would hide in her pocket and chew on way past her bedtime. It was one of the few things that she looked forward to when she was living in the dietski dom. Five years ago and she still remembers.

The kids all take turns doing the dishes-- Galina is no exception.

Julia got a cute present from her friends up north. All made from potatoes of course!
Can you guess where we went for Rachel's birthday?

We went roller skating! When we weren't taking Alex and Dennis around the rink in a stroller we were giving them high fives every time we went around.

What a small world. Karyn from blogland came over and introduced herself. It is always nice meeting people in real life!
Even John enjoyed roller skating with the birthday girl!

After skating we were going to go out for pizza but we decided on Denny's instead. So glad we did-- the waitress was phenomenal! First time we had sodas coming without even asking.

The lighting in our new home isn't very good in the bedrooms so when I saw this lamp I immediately thought of Rachel who loves to read and write in her room.

Since we were so full from dinner we did a birthday breakfast where she blew out her candle in a cinnamon roll! Notice the huge cup of compote-- second time making it in a week.

Happy birthday Rachel! We can hardly believe you are 15 years old! Please stop growing up so darn fast!

For Christmas my Mom baked tons of cookies with Julia and Sveta.

When I saw Andrew sitting on Adam's lap I couldn't resist taking a picture. Another "Make Mommy Cry" moment.
2nd "Make Mommy Cry" moment in two days. Dennis is such an imaginative little boy. When I asked him why his cars were in my slippers he said they were parked in the garage.

Anastasia and Jonny with Baboonya on Christmas morning!

The kids loved all the candy they got for Christmas!

Before opening their one gift bag we sang Happy Birthday to Jesus. Galina's family had sent gifts down for her to open Christmas morning.

After opening presents we surprised the kids with a big trampoline! It was disappointing to have to tell the kids that FedEx messed up by only delivering one of the two boxes. The other box comes on Monday-- only two more days kids!

Jonny got "Guess What I am".

Doesn't Caleb look thrilled to be playing?

Anna was a cute little hippo.
Adam was a such a good sport!

Our first Christmas with Anastasia and Paul was wonderful. It is hard to believe that they are our oldest children to be adopted who also happened to spend nearly all of their lives in the orphanage and yet they have transitioned into our family so gracefully!
Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! Can't wait to see what the New Year is going to bring!
P.S. Connie did not make it. We are sad but are also thankful that we got to spend those few days with her.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Life is Not Always Smooth Sailing

Okay, so our puppy won't eat. She throws up her water and she is lethargic beyond belief for a puppy. Then my uncle mentioned parvo, and I am now incredibly worried. I called the vet, but there is no cure-- just iv fluids and such. Our friends who we got the puppy from is worried too and I mentioned that I think the puppy has parvo and that is when she told me that the puppy has already had two sets of shots including the parvo vaccine. Thank goodness. Now I can breathe a little. Maybe she will be alright after all. Maybe we can nurse her back to health. She is walking around a little bit more and she loves drinking the rain water when we let her out to go potty. At least she is not getting worse. And she doesn't have diarrhea which is a good thing for all of us.

Another good thing out of all this is that Annalyn, Sveta, Anna, and G have stepped up and become Connie's personal little Mamas-- and they are learning a lot. Anna had her so bundled up with her head leaning over Connie that I thought something was wrong. "Nothing is wrong Mom, I'm just singing "Away in a Manger" to her." Precious, I know. They can predict when Connie is going to throw up, and when she needs to go potty. They keep her bundled up and cozy. They are dedicated to caring for her no matter what the outcome is going to be. We keep praying that little Connie will be up and about by Christmas.

Wouldn't that be an awesome gift?
The rain keeps on coming in epic proportions that Sveta and I nearly drowned on our drive home last night. I am so thankful that John and I decided to get rain gutters a few weeks ago. The kids are going bonkers-- and I have resorted to letting them watch movie after movie. Thankfully for Rachel's birthday coming up-- we are going roller skating in two days. That should use up some of their stored up energy. Meanwhile, making cinnamon popcorn, playing hide and go seek, and running to the mailbox daily will have to suffice.

Still... what do you think about all this rain? I hear it's everywhere.
G is doing well. My intention for blogging about doing respite is to let her family see how she is doing through regular updates, and to hopefully be an encouragement to others who are struggling with their kids or are thinking of providing respite sometime. It is still an amazement to me how kids can act one way for their family and be completely different in another. Not to say that the adoptive family is lying, but rather how a child will go on with the same behaviors for so long with that family that for the most part they don't know how to change. Tantruming, lying, manipulation, threatening to hurt siblings, having little self-control-- and then being a complete angel for everyone else. Sometimes respite breaks that cycle. Hopefully it will this time.

But that "angelic behavior" is a lie and so I try to get to a point where they are forced to be real and show their true colors. So I asked G to sweep because afterall she is going to be here awhile and needs to chip in. And she did without a peep of displeasure at first. But like one of my other girls, she didn't do a very good job. A part of me just wanted to do it myself and avoid conflict, but I called her back and showed her where she missed. A hint of displeasure was noted by me this time. Good, her true colors-- I think she will get there before her time here is over. She went back and did a much better job-- I think she saw through watching me with my other girls that I wouldn't accept anything less.
Here are a few other things worth mentioning.

Anastasia (12 years old) asked to watch Cinderella.

Anastasia is proud that she can now pray at dinner, "Dear Jesus, Thank you for this food. Amen."

Not all homeless people are like Ben. We went to drop off some food, shoes, and rain jackets for him and met up with some other guy who was in his spot. I guess many homeless people live in that area-- and this one was not anything like Ben. Sadly, this guy was a complete nut case, a real weirdo, and told me that Ben doesn't need anything and I should give it to him instead. Since he wouldn't go under the bridge to get Ben, I wasn't about to leave anything but the food with him. His response to the food we gave him-- The world is coming to an end. You watch. Harry Christmas-- not Merry Christmas. Okaaaay.. time to go now. It was broad daylight, and I had both Adam and Caleb in the car with me so I wasn't scared or sad for my safety-- I was just sad that we didn't get to give Ben his shoes. As we drove home, I contemplated never sharing this because of all the told you sos I am sure I will get. Well, if that is how you choose to respond, well I can't help that. And to tell you the truth, I will probably not encounter Ben again because of what happened this last time. I just know that meeting Ben on that one day was something that I hadn't really planned on but by listening to God, I allowed him to minister to Ben through me. Maybe it was only supposed to be that one time.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Meet Connie, Our Newest Addition to Our Family

Going back a few days, I'll show you how our trip started out and ended.

Rain + traffic + a car full of kids + loads of fun fun fun!

We arrived at Grandma and Grandpa's house safe and sound.

The kids enjoyed playing with all the different toys.

Breakfast was a treat-- the kids ate straight bowls of sweet cereal instead of mixing it with Cheerios, corn flakes, or rice krispies. Only at Grandma and Grandpa's!

Jonny helped Grandpa with his morning suduko.
Sveta made sure Rachel got to the table for her mini-birthday party since Grandma and Grandpa will miss it.
How cute-- a birthday cookie!
Rachel loves her new vans she got for her 15th birthday!
Saturday morning we opened presents.

While everyone was getting situated I did Anastasia's hair.

We took turns opening gifts one at a time. I was surprised when Grandma and Grandpa started opening a gift from Jonny. I hadn't taken him shopping.
How cute! Jonny asked if he could open and eat these candies that he got for his birthday. I said sure. Who knew he would save one for Grandpa! It was the sweetest thing ever!
Alex loves his Iron Man robot!
I can't wait to try my new digital meat thermometer!

Anna was so excited to get this doll. Anastasia thought it was pretty cool too!

William and Andrew got new roller skates. Even the rain could not stop them.
Paul and Jonny got new remote control cars so they could race!

Told you he loves playing with his new robot!
Christmas dinner was prepared by many hands.

The prime rib turned out beautiful!

Christmas dinner was wonderful. Matt and Jen, and my Mom joined us.

This was Adam's serving of dessert! A growing boy has got to eat!

Andrew built a log cabin.
Anastasia got to know her Grandpa-- don't you just love this picture?

Andrew and Paul-- just like twins!
Julia was excited to use her yarn ball winder.

"G" is settling in nicely. She and Annalyn have really hit it off. They have so much in common it is uncanny.

And finally--- I would like you to meet Connie.

She seems to be sick, but we doing our best to nurse her back to health.

Isn't she adorable? And look at Sveta our mother hen-- she adores this puppy so much!