Thursday, February 27, 2014

I'm Back

It was awesome to come home after the retreat to all the smiling faces.  Jennifer was able to stay one more night before heading home Tuesday afternoon.   The kids were happy to keep her company and of course Andrew was excited to have someone new to show his magic tricks too.

Oliver is making so much progress these days.  He understands more and more.  He loves to play and imitate his siblings.  He knows that hats go on the head and he will purposefully turn it around.  He knows that backpacks go on the shoulders.  He can undress himself and run to get his jacket when it's time to go outside. 
Not sure what is going on here, but I found the picture on my camera.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Mom's Retreat

This weekend is the mother's retreat. We have been here in Oxnard since Friday afternoon.  The beach is walking distance from the house. 
The women I am with are absolutely amazing.  A few of the ladies have come the last few years, but for most of them, this is their first time.  Some have traveled from Texas and as far away as North Carolina, so it is real treat to spend time with them.
Here I am with Jennifer on the left and Tatyana on the right.  I met Jennifer and her wonderful family back in 2009 when we were adopting Alex.  One of her daughters were in the same groupa as Alex.  After all these years, we have kept in touch, but only now have we been able to meet up again.  I met Tatyana in 2012 when we were adopting Nolan and Oliver.  Her and her husband were also adopting two boys and we met up a few times in Independence Square.
Bother of their families are amazing and I have been blessed to get to know them better.
Christie is on the right in the blue.  After many years of talking to her via phone and email, we finally meet.

We went on a long walk and came upon all of these seagulls.  "On you mark. Get set. Go!"  Christie and I took off running.  We chased those birds back and forth just for the fun of it.

The weekend has been so therapeutic.  Healing.  Rejuvenating.  Relaxing.  Energizing.
I have had the chance to get reacquainted with old friends and make new ones.  Though it is not limited to only adoptive Moms, this time we happen to all share the common bond of adoption.  We have laughed, cried, and reaffirmed and comforted each other.
Last night we all went out to dinner.  It was nice to have someone else do the cooking and waiting.

One thing that has been very encouraging to me is to know that there are women who live to build up rather than tear down.  We are all different.  We are all unique.  Each of do things a little differently.  And some of us are thrilled to learn a thing or two from each other.  I am gleaning so much wisdom from these Moms. 
Now if you'll excuse me, lunch is ready.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Anastasia, Paul, and Oliver

Anastasia is our trusting one.  She has a beautiful innocence about her.  She is loving, sweet, and very sensitive.  She loves to draw and paint.  She has a tender heart for animals.   Anastasia is always full of energy that I will see her outside running around the grass in our backyard in the evening.  She is shy and quiet and is content staying in her routine.  She enjoys helping out in the kitchen.
Oliver is our youngest.  He is adorable and makes us all smile.  He has such a cute personality and absolutely loves books.  He can be a persistent little turkey to get what he wants, and that is to be held.  He is a people person through and through.  It warms our hearts when little Ollie falls asleep in our arms.  He will sleep through the loudest of noises because that means he is not alone.  He is a lover of marshmallows.
Paul is one of a kind.  He is easy to please and goes with the flow.  One minute he is serious, the next he is joking around.  Paul is a great big brother that Alex and Dennis especially look up to.  I love how he takes the time to make sure they feel important.  He loves to hang out in the kitchen when I am cooking dinner.   He is a bottomless pit when it comes to eating... and always lets me know how appreciative he is for what I make for the family.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Adam, Julia, Alex, Dennis, and Nolan

This young man is our Alex.  He has a winning smile.  I can't believe he is turning nine years old next month!  He is happy and carefree.  He loves to laugh.  Alex has proved that laughter is the best medicine because he is the healthiest he has ever been.  He can eat a cheeseburger in no time, and loves salty, crunchy snacks.  Alex cares deeply, but is still learning how to best show that to others.  Alex loves nature and animals.  Now that he can read, he is taking more of an interest in books.  I am so proud that Alex is becoming more independent.
Dennis is one outgoing boy!  His resilience is an inspiring example to all that know him.  He is smart, determined, and can do pretty much whatever he sets his mind to.  Like his big brother Caleb, he enjoys dressing up.  His favorite breakfast is pancakes with peanut butter and syrup.  Dennis enjoys building legos and if given the choice, he would gladly sleep on the floor.
Julia is beautiful, trustworthy, and dependable.  She is very smart too.  She enjoys playing the piano.   She is old fashioned with some of her favorite stories being Little Women, Little House on the Prairie, Christy, and The Love Comes Softly Series.  Julia loves ketchup so much that she will add it to her tuna sandwich.  She invented refried bean soup.  She plans to serve chocolate milk at her wedding.   Julia has the special gift of reaching out to the elderly. 
Nolan is a charming little guy.  His flirtatious smile will melt your heart.  He runs toward a camera.  He is incredibly artistic.  He is funny yet stubborn.  He is very social and loves school.   Nolan plays well with kids of all ages.  He is very independent that I have to often remind him that he is only five years old.  He is a great eater!
Adam is my oldest child.  He will turn nineteen in just a few months.  He is handsome, intellectual, and musically talented.  On the other hand, he is quiet, reserved, and on the shy side.  He is fun to play Mastermind with.  He is going to college to be a mechanical engineer.  Adam likes Dr. Pepper and eats peanut butter sandwiches plain.  He enjoys reading.  His younger brother Oliver thinks he is the best!

Saturday, February 15, 2014


Oliver woke in the wee hours of Friday morning.  I could not get him to go back to sleep unless he was in my arms.  Come morning I knew that I had to take him to the doctor.  I thought back to this time last year when he had bronchitis, and I was scared that he was really sick. 
Yesterday he seemed perfectly fine and then sickness set in overnight.  He was seen at urgent care because I wanted to avoid the ER.  He had a chest x-ray, and thankfully his lungs showed clear.  However, he does have bronchitis.  The doctor gave him a steroid, antibiotic, and albuterol for breathing treatments.  Once back home, Oliver seemed to be getting better.  Around 8 pm I took him upstairs so I could lay him down.  He began to cough and seemed to dislodge a piece of phlegm that got stuck in his throat.  He was having trouble breathing.  I firmly patted his back and dialed 911 at the same time.  His breathing got better, so I told the dispatcher nevermind.  My plan was to take him back to urgent care or ER at this point.  Then he coughed again, and was having trouble breathing and I felt that the drive would be too risky.  I called 911 back.  John took Oliver in his arms and was able to comfort him so beautifully.  Our whole family laid hands on Oliver and prayed.  Oliver fell asleep before the paramedics got there.  John took Oliver outside and the night air helped his breathing even more.  His pulse oxygen level was 94 and his breathing was much better.  They told me that Oliver probably had croup as well and to keep the humidifier near him all night.  We avoided a trip to the ER, and though Oliver tossed and turned all night and kept me up, it gave me the opportunity to pray for him continuously throughout the night. 
Come morning, Oliver was much better.  Honestly, it made me wonder if I had dreamt the whole thing the night before.
Oliver continues to get better.  Thank you for the prayers.
Here is Nolan's latest masterpiece.  Remember, he is only five years old and didn't know how to hold a pencil a year and a half ago.
We joke around in our family all the time.  That involves winking.  Only one problem.  Julia isn't a very good winker.  So, this her version of a wink.  One eye open, and one eye closed.  It's catching like wildfire throughout the house.
Thank you for the recent donations made towards the adoption of our little girl.  It is such a timely blessing, given that today is her birthday.  We are touched that you have partnered with us to help bring her home.
Happy birthday baby girl!
I wish there was some way I could let you know that we are thinking of you!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Little Girl

There is a little girl that I think of often.   Though she is not legally our daughter yet, I wish with all my heart that she will soon be.
We've seen videos of her.  She is a dainty little thing.  In the video she looks so lost, but her eyes penetrate my soul.  She doesn't seem to have the desire to smile, laugh, and enjoy life.... yet.   I yearn to scoop her up and never let her go.
We've even chosen a beautiful name for her.
So where are we in the process?
Well, that is pretty amazing in itself.  We are much further along than I thought we would be at this point.  Our dossier is finished and we have been fingerprinted for our immigration approval.  All we are waiting on is the official word from our immigration officer that we have been approved.  That should come in the next week.
After that, all of our paperwork will be apostilled and then it will be sent off for translation.
If everything continues to flow as quickly as it has been, we should be able to travel in April or May to meet this sweetheart.
We thank you for the last few donations that have come in.  We are blessed by the beautiful words of encouragement that some of you have sent.  We covet your prayers through this process.
To answer your questions, no we are not adopting a second child.  I'm not sure if John will travel with me on this first trip.  We hope to have her home in the fall.  We are still fundraising.
February is a special month.  Can you guess why?  This little munchkin is turning three.  I wish I could be there with her.  I wish she could be surrounded by people who adore her.  I wish she could be mesmerized by the light of a few birthday candles.
For now, I think about her... dream about her... and do what I can to bring her one step closer to home.   If you feel led to help with the costs of getting her home, you can make a tax deductible donation to:

Looking for New Blogs

I am looking for wholesome blogs that I can add to my blog list.  Many of the blogs that are listed have not been updated in a long time.   As it is, I've deleted at least twenty of them.  My children really enjoy reading our blog, and they like being able to follow the blogs I have listed on the side.  When I have the chance, I like to look at them to.  If you blog regularly and the content is clean and wholesome, please leave your address in a comment so I could add it.  Thanks!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Self Expression

My Mom has started this thing.   The kids just know that when Baboonya comes they will be baking.  She has managed to get all the kids involved.
 We love you Mom.  We love all the goodies you bake.  Whether it be English muffins, bagels, soft pretzels, cream cheese and fruit pastries, peroshki, or potato rolls-- they are all delicious and we are spoiled. (Julia made the apron.)

Oliver is making so much progress in every area.  Just tonight he was signing Daddy when John came home from work as he was making the D sound. 
I know that it has a lot to do with Oliver's most amazing teacher named Kim.  We all love her.  She comes to the house twice a week to work with him. 
Annalyn shows her creative side while taking a break from forensic science.
Nolan is really artistic.  At just five years old he is drawing farm animals on farms.  It is uncommon to not see a pencil in his hand.  He can literally sit for hours and draw and write and color.  And when he is not drawing, he is doing a puzzle. :)
This seems to be a new style for Oliver.
I forgot to mention some exciting news in our house.  We have two new drivers!
Rachel and Julia both took their behind the wheel driving test last week, and passed!
When I went to add them to our insurance, I was pleasantly surprised by the minimal added cost.
Naturally, from the moment they got their licenses, they both began asking me when they could do their first solo drive.  For some reason, this was very hard for me to let them do.  Am I the only one?
 Rachel drove to and from work by herself over the weekend.  And Julia drove to youth group tonight.  There.  It's done.  Crazy how now that this first solo drive is over, I feel so much more comfortable with them driving.  It is so weird.  I was the same way with Adam and Caleb.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Caleb, Sveta, Anna, William, and Jonny

My children have been quite cooperative with picture taking.  It is such a blessing to be the one looking through the view finder.  I am incredibly thankful to be a part of each of my children's lives.
Anna is a true beauty.  She possesses so many qualities that she doesn't even realize.  Not only is she incredibly gorgeous with her strawberry blonde hair and baby blue eyes, but she is dependable, bold, and energetic.  She can spark up a friendship much easier than most.  Give Anna a piece of fruit and a cup of hot tea and she is content.   Anna is taking guitar lessons, and I hope that one day she is brave enough to play in front of a crowd because I think she would do great!
Sveta is sixteen years old.  She cares deeply for those who are in pain.  She has the prettiest twinkle in her eyes and a great sense of humor.  She keeps a very neat room, and is proud that she doesn't keep tons of stuff.  Every night Sveta asks me if I would like a glass of tea.  It is very sweet of her.  Sveta is diligent to get her school work done, no matter what is going on.  She loves ranch dressing and Chinese food.  She enjoys listening to music and singing along.
This is how Caleb really smiles. Wink, wink.

Caleb is a senior this year.  It is hard to believe that he was once a little boy with the cutest little voice and silly smile.  He sure has grown up.  He is very responsible and outgoing.  He is loyal to his family and friends.  After years of Caleb not wanting to eat raw fruits and vegetables, we have finally figured out why.  Each time he eats them he has severe chest pain and a burning mouth and after some research it appears that he has Oral Allergy Syndrome.  Thankfully, he has no problems eating cooked vegetables.  Caleb is hard working.  He is well rounded.  And he gives the best foot massages ever!
Jonny goes by Jonathan at school but I think he will always be my Jonny.  He is smart, funny, and never fails to give me hugs throughout the day.  He has a great memory and often reminds me of things that I need to do.  Jonny is a bit accident prone-- two scars on his forehead, two chipped front teeth, and numerous bee stings-- but he does not let that stop him.  He is an inspiration!   Jonny is a great student too. 
William is one of a kind.  He has a strange sense of humor, but is able to make us all laugh.  He is springy, energetic, and fearless!  He is a stuntman.  He is determined.  He can do anything he puts his mind to.  He likes things in a particular order.  William is a literal thinker.  He takes everything at face value.  William would be happy to live on hamburgers, chicken nuggets, and cereal for the rest of his life.  In all honesty, William can be difficult to understand, but once you really get to know him it makes it all worthwhile.  Recently, I was given the book, Look Me in the Eyes.  Let me just say that it was a very therapeutic read.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Happy Birthday Andrew!

Happy birthday to our 12 year old Andrew! When I asked him what he wanted to do, his answer was not only sweet, but it surprised me how simple it was.
He wanted a camp-like cook out.
But first John took Andrew and a few of the other kids to the skate board park.

After the kids worked up an appetite, they came home and we got ready for the cook out.
While the wood burned down into coals, some of the kids got wild on the trampoline.
The kids were so excited.  We kept hearing, "This is the best day ever!"

The kids aren't usually big hot dog fans, but roasted Hebrew kosher dogs are so yummy when they are roasted on a stick that I ran out! 
Thankfully there were plenty of smores and a pot of split pea soup on the stove just in case.
Anna got this great shot of Adam.

Andrew roasted me a perfectly gooey marshmallow.  It was great!  I wanted another so I began to roast one myself.  It caught fire and I began to wave it back and forth to put it out.  A piece landed on my sweater.   Nice.
After the kids ate, they played Ramp Tag.
Andrew asked Adam if he would bring out his guitar.  He did.  We sang a few songs.

Oliver was a gooey, sticky, marshmallow mess so I excused myself to give him a bath.  When I came back out Andrew asked if we could sit together.  It really was a perfect way to end the day.
After a year of the kids asking and me saying no, the trampoline finally made it over to the pull-up bars. 
The smoke was hurting Paul's eyes so he got goggles out of the garage.  The smoke bothered Alex more, so Paul gave them to him.
Paul really enjoyed the evening.
Galina and Paul
Galina planned a scavenger hunt for Andrew.  He found her present in the microwave. 
A few of the kids played a prank on Jonny and Andrew.  They took Jonny's present and replaced it with an identically wrapped present with girl barrettes in it.  It was quite funny watching Andrew open it.
Andrew got Skylanders and Giants from Grandpa and Grandma.
Adam wrote Andrew this funky birthday letter.  It was hilarious to hear Andrew read it outloud.