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please pray

Saturday, May 31, 2008

We have had to make an emergency trip to Colorado.
Shad's mother is gravely ill.
Please pray.
I'll try to post more later.


pictures a plenty

Friday, May 30, 2008

I finally got it to work!
Sorry it's taken so long, but I was having trouble getting Picasa to accept my album.
It finally worked this morning.
Enjoy the more than 60 pictures from our vacation.
I'll be back to regular blogging soon.


we're home

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

We pulled the family truckster into the driveway at 9 p.m. this evening and collapsed in exhaustion.
The kids are in bed...
The house is suffieciently trashed with laundry...
The pictures have been downloaded...
And I'm ready to go to bed.
But I haven't forgotten about you.
I'll leave you (for now) with this little tidbit...
Maddie and the otters.


Vacation '08 Day 3 - moooo...and all of that

Sunday, May 25, 2008

This morning it was the world's largest hockey stick and the Hockey Hall of Fame...
This afternoon a jammed packed Edgewater Hotel.
It just keeps getting better.
(Does anyone else hear the sarcasm?!)
To say the USHHF was a let-down is an understatement...
Lead balloon...
Complete bust.
Just a few of the words that come to mind.
Turns out it was the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame...not the NHL Hall of Fame.
Big difference.
We were hoping the Edgewater would save the day.
I'm not so sure it will.
It is JAMMED with teenagers on some sort of school field trip.
Tons and TONS of teenagers.
Does anyone else remember going on one of those end of the year field trips with all of your friends. Staying in some hotel and staying up until all hours of the night.
Me too.
Do you remember how you behaved? How obnoxious you were?
Me too.
Tonight we're going to be on the receiving end of one of those nights.
And then there's the pricetag.
We used hotels dot com to book this room.
The website said it would be $149 for a suite...a kind and two queens.
Weeeeelll...we thought. That sounds pretty good. We'll splurge a little and be able to stretch out.
As we pulled into the parking lot to sign-in we were greeted by two busses.
School busses.
Full of teenagers.
Even Alek knew it spelled trouble.
'Mom,' he said. 'I hope those kids aren't mean to us.'
Shad, being my brave, gift of a husband, went inside to check us in.
He came out 45 minutes later...fuming!
Shad doesn't fume.
Turns out the price we were quoted online was the 'average' price of the room...and if we would have read the 5 pt font print, we would have seen that the hotel reserved the right to change the price.
So instead of $149...we paid over $200.
Me too.
I'm kind of sick about it.
Unfortunately we're stuck.
Since it's a holiday weekend, not only is this hotel jammed full...every hotel in town is full.
We were lucky to find this room.
We're trying really hard to enjoy this huge suite, without feeling too ill in the process.
Thankfully, the teenagers have stayed away from the water park so far. I think all of the elementary school aged kids are scaring them off.
I'm sure that won't last for long.
We're back in the room now.
We've stuffed our faces full of pizza, ice cream and pop.
The kids are sufficiently sugared up and now I fully expect them to fall asleep.
Right! ;>)
BTW - I just got done looking at the pictures from the swimming expedition. I want you to know I am going to do some creative editing before uploading them for you to see. There is a reason why I refuse to wear a swimsuit anywhere near where I live.
I want absolutely NO chance of anyone who knows me seeing me in a suit! :)
I look like a bovine in a speedo.
Maddie overheard me saying as much this evening.
"Cow, Mama?"
'Yea, Maddie, cow.
'Cow, Daddy. Cow, cow.'
Thanks Maddie.
I didn't need the reminder.
If you REALLY want to. Check out this link. It's a webcam for our waterpark hotel. Who knows - you may get lucky and catch a glimpse of me in a swimming suit! ;)


vacation '08 Day 1 and 2

Saturday, May 24, 2008

We are having SO. MUCH. FUN!
Whew.It's been a whirlwind.
It started out Thursday afternoon when we packed the van and took off for Minnesota.
Three minutes later we were back in our driveway.
I had forgotten the emergency credit card.
A couple of minutes later we pulled out again.
This time we made it a few blocks further before we realized we had forgotten the reservation printouts.
The third time was the charm. We haven't looked back since.
We stopped the first night in Iowa...and last night we camped at Split Rock Lighthouse along the shores of Lake Superior.
The were frost warnings.
I'm surprised I wasn't frosted this morning.
The kids slept amazingly well...it may have to do with the fact that we've run them ragged over the last few days.
But Shad and I hardly slept at all.
We camped in the most beautiful spot imaginable. I love waking up and seeing the lake the first thing in the morning.
And there's nothing better than hearing the water lap during an early morning walk.
And the kids have had a ball exploring.
Alek gave me a few scares.
I'm having to learn to let go of some of my 'mommy-fears.'
You know.
The fears that make you want to keep your kid in a cocoon for the rest of their live, instead of letting them experience life.
That's a WHOLE other blog post.
I'll write myself a note to get right to work on that one...right after I write something about my too serious nature.
But I digress.
This afternoon we packed everything up and headed back inland where we toured a really cool (literally) mine.
It's a former iron ore mine...
And it's underground.
We traveled a half-mile down and a half mile in to this cool mine.
The kids LOVED it.
Well...all except Maddie. She didn't care too much for the elevator ride.
But she like everything else.

Tonight we're staying in a nice motel with a pool. (The kids were stoked! ;)
And I finally have internet access.
(Can I just tell you how much I love having a laptop?! It was the best purchase for our trip to Ukraine. It's the gift that keeps on giving! I was like a kid at Christmas when I finally figured out how to set it up tonight in our hotel room! :)
Tomorrow we head back to Duluth for a hotel waterpark experience.
Talk about stoked!!! ;>)
This is the part of the vacation the kids have been talking about for the last six months.
But first we're heading to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
None of us are extreme hockey fans (although my Penguins are in the Stanley Cup Championships), but it's right here...and we like to take advantage of our opportunities.
We might be a little more excited if it were the football or baseball hall....but it should be fun.
They have a huge hockey stick outside.
Who doesn't want to get a picture of a big hockey stick?! ;)
Does anybody else find this whole vacation like something out of the movie 'Vacation'?
Traveling all over the country, seeing old abandoned mines and large hockey sticks.
Maybe it's just me.
Speaking of pictures...
There's good news and there's bad news.
The good news is I'm getting TONS of great pictures.
The bad news is...I can't post them yet because I brought the wrong adapter!
In the meantime, I'll post some pictures I've pulled off of travel websites to satisfy your curiosity.

I'd better run.
Everyone is falling asleep around me.
I'll keep brainstorming ways to get some pictures posted.
In the meantime, have a great Memorial Day weekend!


school's out for suuuummer!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I'm getting ready to head over to pick up the kids from their last day of school...
and then we're off!
Six glorious days of fun.
We're so excited! We haven't had a vacation in two years...unless of course you count two months in Ukraine a vacation.
I don't.
And it's Maddie's first road trip.
I think we'll need your prayers! ;>)
We're taking the laptop, so check back often for pictures!
We're off!


slide show

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I was recently reminded it's been awhile since I shared some pics of the kids, so here for your entertainment pleasure is a photo album and a mini-movie.
The pictures are just a few of the snapshots I've taken over the last months. (Click on the box to make it bigger.)
The video is from last weekend when my parents were in town. The kids decided it was time to remove Nicks' loose tooth. Someone had the brilliant idea of tying a string to it and slamming a door. I about died from squeemishness, but decided to let go of my Mom-fear and let them go for it.
Thankfully, it's still there a week later! :>)


saturday morning post

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I don't know about you, but I'm kind of liking this Saturday morning post thing. It lets me a chance to fill you in on the week and give you a weekend post without having to be too creative!
There's nothing better than a lazy Saturday morning! ;)
In that vein, here are this morning's headlines...


Maddie adored her grandparents. And they certainly loved her.
Grandparents are certainly a new concept to Maddie. She was a bit confused with the fact that the kids called my dad 'Papa'...but she caught on quickly enough.
She ate up all the attention and soon preferred Papa and Grandma to Shad and I...a sure sign that we are nowhere near where we need to be on bonding.


New phrases include 'ready to go', 'Daddy go bye-bye' and 'what's this'.
She understands most of what we say to her now. Either that or she's incredibly good at reading body language. GIven her hearing loss, it may be a combination of both.
We are just started learning our colors. We have a LONG way to go...but Maddie is enjoying the game.


The honeymoon is officially over and the REAL Maddie has shown up. Thankfully she's closely related to the pseudo Maddie and it hasn't been that bad, although Nick will disagree.
Nick and Maddie are fighting like CATS and DOGS!
They are at each other CONSTANTLY!
I don't know what I'm going to do with those two.
Anyone have any brilliant suggestions?

Many of you have asked where I got the cool newspaper for my Saturday morning posts...so here's the link. It's pretty easy to use and personalize. If you read closely, you'll see I wrote the copy in the paper. :>)


mundane monday

Monday, May 12, 2008

I'm still working on the Q&A post. Thanks to you all for such great questions. It's just taking me a little longer than usual to come up with witty answers. I'll keep trying. In the meantime please enjoy the first installment on 'Mundane Monday'.
Part of the problem I've been having in coming up with blogging material lately lies in the fact that life has settled down into a familiar routine. During our adoption process, every day was a new challenge, full of surprises, headaches and hope.
Now that Maddie is home, life is becoming more normal, more sedate, more routine.

But don't let that routine fool you. Truth be told, life is flying by at a frenzied pace and it's all I can do to keep up.
Right now, we are spending almost all of our waking, non-working hours at the ball field...and school isn't even out yet! Alek plays at least two games a week already...and Anya and Nick started practice last week.
And once school gets out, it'll only get worse.
Thankfully Maddie is easy going.
Very rarely do we get any complaints from her...every once in awhile she gets to be squirmy about sitting on our laps (we keep a tight reign on her for bonding sake), but a quick run to the concession stand or around the grandstands usually settles her down.
On the field...
Alek is pitching just about every game. He is ecstatic! He's doing well...he averages about one 'beaning' per game...but he also strikes out quite a few. And when he's not pitching he's playing third base.
Anya is doing so much better than last summer. She's more engaged in the game, which is something I NEVER thought I'd see. She's not playing in the dirt so much this year and is chasing the balls down like a pro. Woohoo!
To say Nick is excited about baseball is like saying I like chocolate. HE LOVES BASEBALL!!!! We missed his first practice last week and you would have thought we had ended his future as an All-Star!!! He wined, whimpered and cried almost all night. GOOD GRIEF! But once he found out there would be more practices, he was golden.
He woke up this morning ready to play...and gave us minute-by-minute updates as to what they were going to practice and what time we needed to leave to get there on time. Thankfully he wasn't disappointed. He LOVED practice and is already counting down to Friday's nights session.
Alright..there you go.
A mundane Monday report.
Hey! You asked for day-to-day...you claimed the everyday would be interesting.
I can't wait to see what kind of comments up come up with for this one!


nickelodean, lebanon bologna and ice cream

Sunday, May 11, 2008

'Mama! Mama!... Blah, blah, blah, edelodea.'
'What did you say,' I asked Maddie.
'Mom! She's saying she wants to watch Nickelodeon,' Nick offered.
'Nah,' said grandpa. 'She's saying she wants a sandwich made from Lebanon bologna.'
'I think she said ice cream sounds like a good idea,' I said.
Maddie just smiled.


10 years ago

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ten years ago, I was driving to work, minding my own business, listening to the radio.
It was the first week of May...
And I was having a pity party.
The dreaded holiday was approaching...and I was nowhere closer to being a mom than I was ten years before when Shad and I were married.
When it comes to pity parties, I'm gifted.
No, really.
I can throw a party like no other...and I was in full swing.
I had moped around all week, crying over all of the Mother's Day ads, complaining (mostly to myself) about the injustice of it all and just generally being a really grump to be around.
And on this day, I was particularly depressed.
Where was God in all of this?
He seemed farther away than ever.
Eventually I reached the point in my one-hour commute where auto-pilot took over...you know - when you've driven this route so many times you could do it in your sleep.
And that's when I had the dream.
A very, VERY real daydream...
I was sitting in a chair in one of the bedrooms when a little boy with dark hair, overalls and a t-shirt walked up to me and climbed into my lap. His hair was soft, he smelled like baby powder and he called me 'Mama'.
It was a very vivid...the kind of dream where you wake up and absolutely convinced it was true.
My heart was racing...
I could still smell the baby powder...
I could still feel his touch...
It was if God was reaching down and comforting me in my misery.
I took a lot of consolation from it.
I wrote the dream down in my journal...
savored it...
and endured the first Mother's Day church service I had attended in YEARS.
After awhile the dream faded.
And life went on.
Later that summer, Meshack and I took a vacation to northern Minnesota. While we were there we had a lot of time to talk about where we were headed, what we wanted from life and what kinds of goals we wanted to set.
It was during these conversations we realized it wasn't biology we were after. We just wanted to have a child.
We wanted to build a family.
We didn't have any spectacular genes that we needed to pass on. We had a faith and a home we wanted to share. So as we drove home we decided to start looking into adoption.
We got home to a call on our answering machine from our best friends. A woman from an adoption agency had spoke at their church. They talked to her about us, had picked up a packet and given us a call.
I called the agency on Monday.
A few weeks later we sent in our application.
We quickly set our hearts on Russia and started working on our I-600A and homestudy...
A few months later we had a referral of a little boy with brown hair, beautiful blue eyes and the most serious look about him. (picture at top)
We fell in love immediately.
We had found our little boy.
We would soon be a family.
A year after we adopted Alek we were getting ready to move to another state. I was going through the books in our room and came upon my journal. I thumbed through the pages and stumbled on my entry about the dream and the little boy. It was May X, 1998. The day Alek was born.
And the day we called the agency?
That was the day Alek was put on the Russian 'available for adoption list.'
I still get goosebumps nine years later.
That brown haired, blue-eyed baby is quickly becoming a young man.
He turned 10 Wednesday!
Where did the time go?
Has it truly been nine years already?
I swear it was just yesterday Shad and I met this scrawny little boy named Bogdan who couldn't walk at 14 months old and ate absolutely everything in sight.
He used to pull his arms in close to him, like a turtle, when he was overwhelmed.
He rocked himself to sleep every night and refused to look in our eyes.
He pulled away from hugs and couldn't tell when he was in pain.
Now our little guy is not so little anymore.
He's tall and muscular.
He's friendly and funny.
He doesn't get overwhelmed very often.
He falls asleep quickly and quietly now, gives us big hugs freely and climbs in our laps any chance he can get. (Of course, now he's getting too big to do that! - or maybe it's us that are getting too big! ;)
He's adventurous...he lives for flying in our friend's small plane, loves football, basketball, baseball and any other sport where a ball is required. He loves to swim, ride his bike, play tag and skateboard.
He's a math whiz...acing all of his multiplication tests on the first try.
He's kind, compassionate, loyal and brave.
He's handsome, charming, quiet and humble.
We waited 10 excruciatingly long years for this guy to join us so we could become a family.
He was so worth the wait!
Happy Birthday Alek!
Top: The referral video of Alek. Wasn't he a cutie?! :) Middle: Shad and Alek on the first day as a family. We had just taken custody of him and were on the drive home from the orphanage when we saw this sunflower field. Being from the sunflower state, we asked the driver to pull over, and I snapped this shot. It is still one of my favorites. Bottom: Alek last year. I need to get a more updated photo, but I'll have to wait until my sister-in-law comes to visit. (hint, hint! ;)


meeting the grandparents

Maddie must think she is in heaven!
She's getting a special treat this weekend.
Her grandparents are in town!
And she's finally getting held, hugged and spoiled by someone else.
My mom and dad pulled in late yesterday afternoon and Maddie's been in heaven ever since.
It's been a long time since someone other than Shad or I cared for her...and she's made a lot of bonding progress, but it's amazing how a little change in the schedule can throw these kids off.
So far Maddie's reaction has been incredibly mild...
My parents are old pros at this bonding stuff, so we've been able to nip a bunch of it in the bud, but there have been some minor incidents.
The biggest thing she's struggling with is settling down. She's overloading on all the attention...and can't understand why we're asking her to stop running through the house, screaming like a banchee.
Baby steps...baby steps.
I'm glad so far it's minor.
Thank. Goodness.
No big meltdowns.
No major tantrums.
No big hissy fits.
I don't think it's in Maddie's nature.
(Aach. Did I say that outloud?!)
We'll wait to pass judgment until the end of the weekend.


joy of adoption

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