Friday, October 5, 2012

Two Year Gotchaversary!

I'm seriously delinquent in blogging.  I'll catch up....some day.  But, I wanted to say "Happy Gotcha-versary" to Darya! It was two years ago today that she walked out of that orphanage forever.  I seriously cannot believe how much she has grown and changed in that time!  This morning as I was sitting in her IEP meeting (a meeting with school staff to discuss her individualized education plan) it occurred to me that today is the anniversary. Her teachers were saying how much she has learned in the past year in school (and, of course, what goals they have for her in the upcoming year).  I was reflecting on her tremendous growth in such a short amount of time. For those of you that know me personally, I'm not one to cry easily but I started tearing up reflecting on our sweet girl.  To God be the glory!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

California Part 1

Okay, so it's been quite a while since I blogged and will just have to pass on blogging about end of spring happenings.  I'll just give a quick summary:

Darya finished her first year of pre-k.  It went really well!  She really likes school and I honestly am surprised at how much she has learned and grown this year.  She is learning more and more words (though usually still signs and fusses to communicate), but there are a few verbal words she uses frequently, "no"being the most common of them. That's our girl! Ha!  She also turned 4 years old on June 9. She is growing up so fast!

The boys finished another year homeschooling and were eager to take a summer break.  They had their very first piano recital and got to show off perform for some church friends.  Our oldest son, who is going into 6th grade, got to go to his very first youth camp.  It was bittersweet for me!  To say he had fun would be an understatement.

Moving on.  We went to California for a few weeks to visit family and friends.  I'll start with the first part of my trip and I have good intentions to blog about the others.  Darya and I flew out a week before Joel and the boys so we could go to northern CA to visit my family.  We stayed with "Aunt Joannie" (my twin sister) and her sweet son, Joey.  We mostly bummed around her house or my mom's, but we also went to Columbia one day which is an old mining town. Here are a few pics from my week there:

I forgot to mention how incredibly well this girl travelled!  We had three flights with a couple of long layovers, and she was GREAT the entire time! 

Darya and cousin Joey walking to Grandma's house

Sitting on the steps of the old schoolhouse in Columbia

Yeah, we were supposed to share that cone

 Panning for gold

My Aunt Les (mom's best friend) and her beautiful daughter, Claire (she was the flower girl in our wedding and an inspiration for adoption)

Cousin Simon

Grandpa Chucky (my dad) 

4th of July with Uncle Steve (my brother) and Grandma Charlene (my mom)....they'd probably hate that I posted this pic of them, but alas I don't think they even read this blog since they're both computer illiterate :-)

That's it for now!  Stay tuned for more pics from our trip!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

4 Years Ago Today

Four years ago today, a young Ukrainian couple gave birth to their second child, this time a girl. I can only imagine their excitement and anticipation of her birth. I imagine their son was excited to be a big brother. But when they found out their precious daughter had something "wrong" with her, Down syndrome, they made the extremely difficult decision to let her go. At only a month old, just a little peanut, she was admitted to the orphanage. At a year of age, they released her to be available for international adoption because they were told she would have a chance of a foreign family might want her. I believe that was the last they saw of her. More than a year went by without anyone visiting her, until we arrived in the fall of 2010. I still can't believe it's been almost two years since we adopted her. Yet I feel like she's always been part of our family. I am so thankful that I get to be her mother now and that she is part of our family. Happy 4th birthday to my beautiful sweet princess! I would cross the ocean for you again in a heartbeat!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Springtime is busy time

Wow, this is post 200!  It was 2 years ago that we were in the whirlwind of adoption paperwork.  Now here we are living life as usual, with the addition of our beautiful little girl.  I must say that spring is always busy in our house!  Or rather I should say out of our house as it's when baseball season and good weather are upon us. Two of our boys are playing spring ball, which means lots of practices and games, many out of town.  The weather is just beautiful this time of year, too, and we've been enjoying lots more time outside.  We had such a wimpy winter this year, that our pool has warmed up early enough this year for the boys to enjoy (Joel, Darya, and I prefer to wait until its at least 85 degrees!).  I'm sure I've got lots more to say, and hopefully update again soon, but for now I'll just post a couple of photos (unfortunately my laptop died recently, which means I lost A LOT of photos, but what can I do?)

Ben's action shot:

Joel and the boys by Lake Alice (University of Florida campus):

Darya and my turn for a photo op.....see the small alligator on the left?

Darya now prefers to eat at the bar like her big brothers. Here she is enjoying a snack after a nap (as evidenced by her wacky hair):

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Happy Belated Birthday to my Benny!

I'm a bit late on this (one week to be exact), but happy 9th birthday to my second son, Ben!  9 years....that marks halfway to 18. Such a bittersweet age.  It also marks his entrance into tween-hood (goodness, I technically have two "tweens"!  The teen years are just around the corner).  Ben is awesome. I love that kid!!  He is such a sweet, kind, funny, and thoughtful boy.  Happy birthday to my Benny D.!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Grandpa and Grandma's Visit

Last week, Joel's parents flew out from California to visit us for a week.  We had a great time!!  I am so thankful that our kids have such wonderful grandparents (on both sides of the family).  We visited them in California last year, but this is the first time Joel's parents got to spend a lot more one-on-one time with Darya.  Below are some photo highlights of our time with them:

Darya's shirt tells the truth!  Even today, 3 days later she's still asking for Grandma or "Apa"

Darya and Grandpa at Sam's baseball game

Grandpa has endless stories to tell

The boys loved watching funny videos with Grandpa

We celebrated Nate & Ben's birthdays by our pool (Joel and his dad worked on the yard and built a fire pit!)
 Enjoying smores by our new firepit
  We went to Kanapaha Botanical Gardens
Darya devoured her first candybar (Twix) at the boys' baseball games

Proud of his record-breaking fish at our homeschool field trip to the UF fisheries
 Three generations of fishermen

Last day with them after visiting Lake Alice and seeing some 'gators

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Good morning, Sunshine!

Darya often plays in her room before going to sleep, or when she wakes up.  She usually destroys her room by chucking everything in sight wherever they may land.  This morning was no different.  See this toy box that she's in below?  That is usually full to the brim of toys!  Ben (our almost-9-year-old) went to get her up for school and yelled at me to get the camera.  How cute is this face? She's still got the sleepy eyes, but yet has enough energy to chuck her toys out of the bin.  Oh, how I love this girl!  

Our little sunshine!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Adios shark tooth!

Today Nate had his beloved shark tooth removed.  He did really well (not that the laughing gas had anything to do with his bravery and relaxed disposition! haha).  Click here to see it before, and another video here.  I hope the photos below don't make you queasy!  Yeah, I do have a thing for quirks and oddities like extra teeth and webbed toes.  There ain't nothin' wrong with that!  Now for your viewing pleasure:

Monday, February 27, 2012

Birthdays, oatmeal, "I love you", and Francine

I am so sporadic when it comes to posting on here.  Thanks for bearing with me :)  So it's going to be a hodge-podge of a post hence the weird title.

Today is our youngest son's 7th birthday. He's been counting down for ages! He was surprised when he was greeted by a load of friends from church at the local Natural History Museum.  We all went inside to play and explore (15-20 of us maybe?) then went out for a delicious lunch.  I think he feels pretty special.   Happy birthday, Nate-Nate!

Here he is in front of a megalodon jaw at the museum (I'm so glad these are extinct!)

This morning Ben put Darya on a barstool to eat her oatmeal.  Here she is demonstrating her spoon skills (which she usually begs for us to feed her or she tries to use her hands, so she must have felt like a big girl sitting there and wanted to eat like one).  The words she does verbalize aren't always super clear and are usually one or two syllables, though she tries to repeat.  Just recently she's made progress in saying "I love you" which I'm quite impressed because of its multiple syllables!  Listen for it at the end of the video (though she added an extra syllable - but I'm super pleased nonetheless!). We must say it to her a million times a day, so she's quite familiar with the phrase.  I do love that girl!!

And lastly, if any of you have followed my blog for a while, almost exactly a year ago I posted about some of those children left behind.  One sweet girl who stole my heart, "Francine", now has a wonderful family adopting her!!!  I confess that when her English-speaking nanny at the orphanage asked me (and another adopting family who was also smitten by her, too) to find her a family, I wasn't quite sure it was really going to happen, to be honest.  Not that I didn't think she was special, but because I just didn't think I was able.   But God is bigger than our doubts and abilities!  I certainly wasn't able to find her a family, but God does answer prayers!  Whenever I see updated posts and especially videos/photos, it makes me smile.  What a sweet little girl and she has found the perfect family.

Well, that's my hodge-podge post!  

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


I peeked in on Joel and Darya resting on Sunday afternoon and this is what I found:

Monday, January 30, 2012

Shark Tooth part 2

So, a certain 6 year old with an extra tooth got a hold of my camera.  As I was scrolling through the photos on it, I came across this video. What a ham!  Apparently this shark-boy has also invented his own language. Also, for those of you who might meet him in real life, he has informed me that he's tired of being famous for his shark tooth. So, no autographs, please.  But if you ask nicely, I'm sure he'll happily oblige and give you a peak of his tooth.

Friday, January 27, 2012


Yesterday we jumped on the opportunity to go to Legoland Florida (how can you pass up a deal where a family of 6 can get in for $30? We went with our homeschool co-op at a discounted field trip rate).  It was awesome!  We all had so much fun.  Of course, two of my boys are hoping to grow up to be professional Lego builders like millions of other kids, but who knows?  Maybe living this close to Legoland they will one day :) The weather was great, the crowds were down, and we got to hang out with some friends, and saw many other friends throughout the day.  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Shark Tooth!

A few weeks ago we noticed that our 6 year old son is growing a tooth behind his two front baby teeth. We assumed it was his adult tooth growing behind, but it turns out it's just an extra tooth!  It's called a mesiodens tooth, and I think is fairly common.  He had a dentist appointment the other day, where they informed us he'll need to have it pulled soon, much to his dismay.  He's  proud of his "shark" tooth and feels quite special and unique.  Anyone else have one??  I read online that it can be inherited, but neither Joel nor I know of anyone in our immediate families who have had one.  Anyway, I know this post is a bit off my usual posts (adoption, DS, etc.), but thought it would provide you all with some mild entertainment ;-)

p.s. Darya is all better from her pneumonia!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

7 out of 9

Seven out of nine orphans that we have been specifically praying for over the past few years are either home with families or have families on their way!  Isn't that wonderful?  Our boys faithfully pray daily for the orphans.  They have had no doubt they'd get families, it's just a matter of when it's going to happen.  It's been such a blessing to see my children's faith grow as their prayers are answered.  Each time I tell them that one of the children is on the "My Family Found Me" page on Reece's Rainbow they get so excited and say, "The Lord answered our prayers!".  So true!  Yes, 7 of 9 have families....but I'd love to have that 9 out of 9!

1. The first child we signed up to pray for (through Reece's Rainbow) was "Kyrah" who is now named Jessa.  The boys prayed daily for months and months.  She is now home with the White family, along with four other kiddos from her same orphanage:

Jessa ("Kyrah") then:

Jessa now (in the middle of two of her sisters) - how stinkin' cute are they?:

2.  Shortly after the White family committed to adopting Jessa, we signed up for another precious little girl with Down syndrome.  Sofia was adopted and home with her new family, the Sanchezes, in less than 6 months!

Sofia then:

Sofia now (isn't she just gorgeous?):

3. and 4.  Next, we signed up for two boys with other special needs. These boys had the odds stacked against them. First of all, boys are less likely to be adopted than girls (I don't know why that is). Secondly, they have other special needs that might be harder to place them with families. Finally, they were getting older which slims their chances even more.  But thankfully, God doesn't work within statistics! Seth (formerly known as Phillip on RR) just returned home with his family, the Lunnens, this past fall, and Edwin (who will be Micah) has a family, the Evensens, in country right now adopting him!

Seth then:

Seth now (eating a chicken nugget in the van - All American boy!):

Edwin then:

Micah (aka "Edwin" on RR) now (while in country, still being adopted):

5. and 6. Last year, we helped to fundraise for a little girl, Carlene, for RR's annual Angel Tree fundraiser.  Now, she has a family in the adoption process.  And, of course most recently, we have been praying for and advocating for Lilianna.  She has a family starting the adoption process for her, too!  Both girls should be home some time this year, Lord willing.



7.  This would be our precious Darya, who has been home with us for over a year :-)

Darya then: 

Darya now (our sweet little firecracker!):

8. and 9.  Catherine and Anna are still in need of families.  We are still praying for them!  Would you please pray for them, too?  Thanks!!

Catherine is still waiting:

So is Anna: