Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Life goes on QUICKLY.

What has happened in the last year? Well, literally, Tyler graduated and Zach is a senior in high school.  Tyler is over 6 foot and Zach is over 6'3".  They are still teenaged boys and being as I grew up with my dad being hte only male in the house, they are still somewhat of a mystery to me.  What have I learned in the last 10 years (and I may have realized this before...) when you ask a boy WHY he did something and he responds with "I...don't...know..." what he REALLY means is...he doesn't know.

I love my boys tremendously.  They are both such great guys. Kind, concerned, caring guys. If I was a girl their age, I'd have a crush on them.  I'd want to be their friend.  I'd TRY to like what they like (that would be tough for me...although I DID like video games as a teen...they are sooo different now.  And Minecaft...digital Legos? I don't get that at all!). They are both people I'd want to hang out with if I were there age.  I actually enjoy hanging out with them at MY age...when we all want to. I love my boys.  We are blessed to have them.  That being said, teenagerhood...is tough for kids and parents alike.  Not gonna lie about that. It's a strange season for all involved.

Tyler had his senior year and graduated this year.  He started college this past Monday.  Zach started his senior year earlier this month.  We need to take his senior pics very soon.  Here are some of my college kid...



and then a little flashback...




Because it happened THAT fast...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

March 2013-September 2013

My kids are growing up...well, they're getting taller, anyway.  There are times I wish they WOULD seriously grow up in ways other than height.  Teen boys can be a real mental challenge.  I'm guessing teen girls are worse.  They started back to school last week.  A sophomore and a junior.  Wow.  That pretty much sums it up.  Except they're giants.  5'10" and 6'1.563423".  That's right.  Well, really, I have no idea how far past 6'1" he is.  I just know he's taller than me.  And his dad.
And good looking, too.

So, what has happened worthy of an update?  Well, other than my kids aging (which they will not stop doing...and that is okay with me, NOW... We got the house.  The wonderful, beautiful, better than I deserve house.  It took 6 months.  Six looooong months.  And we didn't know it was our until the day AFTER we signed all the paperwork.  Because the woman who sold it...debated NOT selling...right up until the day AFTER we signed.  And the day she signed.  But we got it, the kids have had a pool all summer and 2 weeks ago - FINALLY got the trampoline they've been wanting forEVER.  Since both of those items are behind a closed gate, our insurance didn't go up.  And they loved the pool all summer...and they're loving the trampoline this fall! (Of course it was 101 degrees out today so the only thing fallish is the evenings coming quicker and the coolness after the sun goes down.  But I'm already thinking about fall pumpkins and where on EARTH are we going to put a Christmas tree?!?


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

August 2012 - March 2013 UPDATE...time flies and we're moving...

It has been an exciting and jammed summer. This past week was down right sad. We had to put our greyhound down after a short, sudden illness. I miss him. I'm sad. BUT...it will all be okay. Eventually. So, the whole last post about my hubby's company treating him so poorly? Well, they did. Hubby heard a rumor that his section was dissolving within 3 months...hubby started looking for another job. In another city. !!! Move again? NO! Sell our house? NO! But...when you hear the rumor that the major private employer in town is closing down your division in a few months...you start looking. And your wife begrudgingly says...okay. Long story short, my husband got a great job, for a great company, doing something that is highly sought after all over the US in Medford, OR. About an hour and a half from where we are now. He's almost been there a year. And you know what? If we hadn't hauled our butts out here for that OTHER company that treated him like dirt...we would have NEVER had this opportunity. Yes, I said WE. Because...WE are moving to Medford. We have sold our house (well, still awaiting on appraisals and it is taking forEVER) and have made an offer on a short sale in Medford (ALSO taking forever...)but we are supposed to be out of this house by the end of August. And so where will we go? Well, mom, dad and I will head up to the Long Beach Peninsula to hang out at mom's brothers house (my aunt and uncle). The boys and Tom...will live in Tom's one bedroom tiny little apartment for a while...till that short sale goes through. And gets the carpets cleaned and the walls repainted by Tom...and the boys. Then, mom, dad and I will return home to move in. (Then we will go pick up a new greyhound as I am desperately missing the one I had and want another RIGHT NOW.) Sooo... we are currently in three storage units and Toms apartment and will spread ourselves out even further....then eventually we will all be back together. Hopefully before it gets cold because our new house has a pool and I would like to try it before we shut er down for the winter! CRAZY. WEIRD.

UPDATE - So what happened?  We got the house and then GAVE it back and said No, thanks.  It was sliding down the hill and need $30k worth of work done to stake it to the ground.   We are renting  a house right now from someone Tom works with.  It is big and has enough room for all of us,  THAT is saying something.  It is also in the boys high school district. God provided well, for us.  We just lost another house about a week ago...short sales suck.  Now our house we were GOING to get has been relisted by another agent who thinks she can get the second mortgage holder to release his grip.  That is why the last sale fell through.  We are, once again, playing the waiting game.  IF this one doesn't go through, we think we may build a house.  We are currently looking for a level lot whilst we wait upon the rel estate powers that be...they have alll the control and we are finally to the point of "WHAT EVER.  God, if you want us here, make it happen.  If you want us to move on, make THAT happen."  We have been house hunting for over a year now with NO luck.  It took us a while...but we FINALLY gave it back to the Lord.  Because, bottom line, He has all the control anyway.  He will find us a house - or - build us one.  He continues to take care of us NO MATTER how whiny we get.  So glad He is God and I...am NOT!

High School boys...TWO of them.

It's been over a year since I posted...and it certainly isn't because nothing has been happening.  We have moved form a small town to a big city.  My husband took a new job.  And BOTH of my kids are...in HIGH SCHOOL.  When we adopted the boys, I knew life would change.  I knew it would go fast.  But I have two boys teetering on the brink of manhood.  Still firmly entrenched in the "boy" phase...but dangerously close...WAY too close to forever stepping in to their adult life. Video games versus hormones...who will win THAT battle?

Several years ago, I pretty much pummeled God with my questions about HOW my boys were going to make it.  Were they close enough to Him?  Did they GET it?  Do they realize how important He is in their lives and what part He has played in orchestrating their lives?  I don't think they "get it...yet.  I certainly didn't at 15 or 16.  I didn't have a clue.  But as I was churning myself in to a frenzy about "what If" my boys didn't have a clue, God whispered in my ear "I've brought them this far, Lois...I won't leave them now..."  Oh.  Yeah.  That calmed me.  I let them go to the One who has held them since before they were born.

Will my boys make mistake?  Yes.  Certainly.  Bad choices?  For sure.  But God loves them more than I ever could.  And He loves them unconditionally.  No matter what they do.  No matter how they screw up.  He's got them covered...and His plan is infinitely better than mine.  Mine isn't even CLOSE to His.   Plus I don't think you really CAN put your kids in a barrel and lock them in until they are 25.  And it might not work that well, anyway. And, I have come to realize that as much as I wish I could, it is NOT my job to get them through this part of life without scratches, bumps and bruises.  Sigh.  I have to rest in the fact that God has it all under control.

He didn't bring them this far to leave them now.  And with that knowledge...breath.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011! This year FLEW by!

Stationery card
View the entire collection of cards.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Surviving the Real World

It's Saturday and I just got back from helping my husband move personal things out of his office. This week he lost his job. He did NOT lose his paycheck. But everything he has worked for and done for almost the last 8 years has been taken away. They moved him out to Oregon, we bought a house and less than 2 years later, they are telling him that he has to move again in a year. Personally, I just want to SLAP someone. He is not the only one who got the short end of the stick...but I am pretty sure he did get the shortest stick. Again.

When I am able to look past the fear and anger of the situation, I KNOW God can work this in to yet another amazing chapter in our book. But we are, of course, in the "pause" of it all...wondering how and IF God is going to work this out...and by "if" I guess I mean is God going to work it out the way we think it should work out. It's funny how we like to fool ourselves in to feeling like we are in control of ANY situation. I know I'm not in control. And I know. God can do ANYTHING. But right now I don't have a clue what is going to happen. And I guess I find it more tolerable to THINK I know what is going on than to walk around in a daze knowing I don't.

Tom could write a book. I've already come up with a title. 'How to Survive Your Employer Sucking the Life Out of You - One Breath at a Time." In the middle of last year, they made Tom move his office. He went from a nice windowed view to a small windowless office. Then one of his hourly employees quit (actually she transferred to a different job working for a friend in the same company) and for SOME reason, in doing that, she created a HUGE problem between Tom's boss and his boss's boss. They actually, literally yelled at him for over an hour for letting her take another job. Working for her former boss and personal friend. I'm not sure how Tom could have changed that or why he would even want to. She was a good employee...and good at what she did, but she was an hourly employee that Tom had NO control over her hourly pay...his boss did. But somehow, it was Tom's fault. There have been other things but this one was the one that started to make Tom not feel the love anymore... And then this week happened. His boss lost his job and so did his boss's boss. They split the division that Tom was a manager of, took away all of his employees, gave them and his job to some one who has worked there for less than 6 months AND...put Tom under the one person in that division that has caused him problems for years. OUCH.

Tom came home from work the day after this news hit him and Zach said, "Did you quit?" Oh, Zachy...you can't DO that in the real world. There are house payments and car payments and bills and... So, after the initial shock of the week has sunk in and we have realized that we would have to pay back our 1st time homeowners $8k incentive because we haven't lived here for 3 years and, oh yeah, we bought a $180k house in a dead market in a town with a higher than the national average rate of unemployment. Not to mention the prices of housing plummeting. Except in Portland...where they want us to move. There is NO way we can pay back 8k, sell our house we've had for less than 2 years (at best for a profit and at worse...at all!) and move to Portland. And, oh yeah- we don't WANT to, either! We JUST got settled here!

Tonight, after hitting a wall at his work and yelling that I hate what they did to my husband, I realized something. WHY do we expect light from darkness? Yes, the did him wrong. Why would that surprise me? I SO want Tom to get treated with the same integrity that he treats others with...but he never is. They aren't Tom and they don't play by God's rules. WHY do we expect light from darkness?

So I pause and I try to make some God sense out of it. We really felt, that as hard as it was to leave Illinois, it was what God wanted us to do. Our biggest fear was getting out her and Tom losing his job because there aren't many other jobs around here...well, that has sort of happened. He hasn't physically lost his job...but he sure has lost the desire to work there. But we started talking. If God wanted us out here, in this place...how else could we get here? Tom's employer is one of the top 3 employers in this town. The school and the hospital are the other two. He has no medical background and he doesn't have teaching credentials so...it isn't like anything other than his company would have ever gotten us out here. There would be NO other way we would have come. We wouldn't look here for a job...it wasn't part of OUR plan. So, I think God is up to something. I'd love to know what, but...He isn't sharing just yet. So I have to do one of those things that do NOT come easily. I have to trust God knows better than I do. And you know what bugs me the most about that? That it doesn't come easily for me. God is the only one who has never let me down...so why can't I just let go of all that junk I keep mulling over in my mind and trust Him?

Well, I'm working on it....

The mind of a 14 year old...

I just spent an hour chatting with Tyler about Ukraine. He was mostly waxing poetic about his childhood...he spoke of everything from wondering if his Ukrainian grandmother was still alive to catching spiders with twine and gum. My thoughts switched back and forth from "I hope he always remembers these things" to "Is he just trying to stay up later and knows I'm a sucker for him recalling his days in Ukraine?"

I was able to tell him the totally God-woven timeline of their adoption and how they were only available for about 10 days when we got there and how within 7 days of us getting there, the government changed the rules to only being able to adopt kids 10 years or older (they were 7 & 8 at the time). Everything worked out within a very tight time frame for us to get them 0 and of course, God worked it out perfectly. Including the part that IF his grandmother had contacted the orphanage within the year they were there, they would NOT have been available for adoption. He said "Yeah, she probably knew she couldn't take care of us." Yes, and because she knew she couldn't, she didn't contact the orphanage. One of the first things Tyler ever communicated to us in English was that the ONLY person is all of Ukraine that ever loved him was his grandmother. I think of her often (she is probably in her 50s and is most likely still alive).

While I know his true past and many of the horrid things that happened to him, to hear him, you'd think he had the most wonderful childhood. The details about the games he played and the people who were his friends and were not his friends and the things they did...they all sound like something I imagine out of the 50s - you know...back when the government didn't protect us from sharp objects and the unsafe world. The fact is, childhood in Ukraine, in general, IS much more dangerous that our cotton-padded America. I know there are places in the US that aren't all safe and cozy, but MY world, and now our boys world, is fairly well-wrapped in a blanket of safety. Listening to Tyler talk about the projectiles they made (and shot at each other), the cement jungles they wrestled on, the thorny woods they tripped each other in and the playground full of really tall and dangerous metal toys they ran around and flew off of...it was like it was any boys dream. At one point he even stopped and paused. I asked him, "Does it seem like forever ago?" He replied, "Yeah. I miss it."

He misses it. I sit here and think about that. What is it that he misses? Having a mother who abused him? Or living in an orphanage and having NO parents? Does he miss not getting enough to eat? Does he miss living in a room full of same-aged children with dirty clothes and no showers? WHAT is there to miss? It didn't make me angry...it just made me think.

I know what he misses - he misses being a child! In all of his 14 years, Ukraine represents a time that was tough, yes...but it was also a time of freedom. Of not thinking about "Will this hurt?" but instead thinking "MAN! THAT HURT!" and of just picking himself up and brushing himself off and going to the next big adventure. Because if there is one thing you have when you have a mother who doesn't really care...or you live in an orphanage that is outnumbered on the kids to adults ration...one thing you most certainly have - is FREEDOM. Even if you aren't allowed to go there or do that...you DO go there and you DO go and do that. Because you have to get CAUGHT before you get in trouble! And it is worth it to try because chances are, you'll get away with it. And if you DO get caught, what can they do to you? Hurt you worse than you've already been hurt by your own mother? Unlikely. Plus, like most young boys, Tyler was invincible. To a certain extent, he still is...you know there is a reason common sense doesn't kick in for the male until they are in their 20s...it would really compromise their fearless invincibility!

I remember Tyler's first and longest-held complaint of becoming an American. "TOO MANY RULES!" He felt his youthful care-freeness being sucked out of him within a month of landing. It wasn't just school, it was family, too. I remember Tyler AND Zach saying to us "Brush our teethe??? EVERY day???" Followed quickly by showers or baths...EVERY day. and school...ALL day. No four hour break in the middle for quiet time (which I think was really teacher and orphanage worker four hour sanity time...). So much structure. If you think about it, how foreign was that for them? But I also remember him running to me EVERY time he got a little scratch! I would look at him and say "How can you be hurt by this? When we got you, you were covered with bruises and cuts and scrapes and NOTHING hurt you!" He consistently looked at me and said "Yes, but no one cared about me then...now I have you!" How can you find fault or argue with that?

I asked Tyler about how much fun he USED to have doing simple things. And how much time he spent outside playing WITHOUT all kinds of toys and accessories. He made toys out of ink pens and sticks and held on to single marbles because they were great and wonderful and bounced if you threw them down the hall. He said "Yeah, and now I don't want to stay outside for anything...and now I have all the video games and TV and my iPod..."

But even he knows that there is something he misses. Ahhh, the simpler life of childhood from the perspective of a 14 year old. He's only 14, but he's lived a lot longer than that.


The first time we met Tyler.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Brilliant!!!!

We have two amazingly smart boys...report cards for the midterm are in... Ty = straight A's. Zach = one B and the rest straight A's. Why the B? By his own admission, because he TALKS too much to other kids. Last term, it was reversed. Zach had all A's and Ty had one B. (but HE got the B because the teacher didn't put all of his grades in...every kids dream, a lower grade due to a teacher mistake!)

Although we did talk to Zach about his excessive chatter...really, I won't complain. These are boys who, when they stepped foot on American soil 5 years ago, didn't speak a WORD of English. Now they are pretty consistently honor roll students. They do their homework, they have great personalities, they are courteous(for the most part), they are athletic and they (for the most part) listen and obey us...wow. How blessed are we? VERY!

Monday, January 24, 2011

As I get used to this "being the mom" thing...

Less is blog worthy? Oh, I don't know...the kids still do plenty to amuse me. and FRUSTRATE me! Both boys are teens now. Tyler is 14 and Zach is 13. Tyler goes to HIGH SCHOOL next year...which is technically, physically...this year. And I don't even want to think about it cuz right after they go in to HS, then comes driving and well...I'm just not going to think about it! But it has been over 2 years since I blogged...and surely I need to keep a better record of my kids lives! I'm getting old, I won't remember! So, in the last 2 years, we have moved to Oregon, they are both in Junior High and on the honor roll, still love basketball and soccer and they are both amazing kids. They aren't perfect, but they have proven to be perfect for Tom and I. I love my kids - and I am very glad we got them!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

It's not just the 6th grade GIRLS...

Last night Tom and I were privileged to have Tyler's first "sleep-over" (that wasn't family). The very first friend Tyler ever made (BEFORE he spoke English) was Caleb. He considers him his best friend -EVER. And, of course, Caleb moved. But he only moved to Danville. But we still didn't see him often. Turns out this year, Caleb is on cross country for his junior high...and of course, so is Tyler. So we saw him at the first meet (And he won first place and ran like the wind!) Tyler started talking about having Caleb come up...and talked and talked and talked.

Well, Friday night was the Cross Country COW CHIP meet in Chrisman. Yeah. And they MEAN cow chip. They run in a field that cows typically graze and...POOP in. After it was over, Tyler found Caleb. So, mom, what are we doing tonight??? Can Caleb come over??? And we said yes. That began our evening with 6th grade boys(and one 5th grader...Zach). Average age=12. We started at Monical's where there were 3 girls from Rossville. As they went to wash their hands, "Hey...HE wants to go out with you...HE thinks you're cute..." I don't think I have EVER seen 3 boys eat so little and talk so much. Tom looked at me and said, "Oh my gosh, Lois. When I was substitute teaching, I always said I wouldn't teach 6th grade because the GIRLS are just too nutty. They talk all the time and they say nothing. I had NO idea that the BOYS were the SAME WAY!!!" It's true. It's not a girl thing, it's a 6th grade thing. We finished up and the boys loaded in to the car while I went to the restroom. Three minutes later, I opened the car door to the stereophonic sound of faux farting through the palms of their hands. The fartfest continued for the next 25 minutes until we got home. The rest of the evening was, I'm assuming, normal 12 year old boy stuff.

There are a few things you can learn from 6th grade boys, although I am not too sure how applicable they are...for instance, when playing Nerf darts, make sure you take your shirt off before the dart war begins. It HURTS worse with your shirt off.

Yeah, that one isn't too applicable to me. It was am amusing and enlightening evening, to be sure.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

JUST when you think they "get" it...

It's funny, the boys speak remarkably well when you consider they have only spoken English for a little over 2 1/2 years. I remember when they had been here for about 10 months, I wrote down some of their "mis-quotes" because it was kind of like their first words. I remember when Tyler came home and he said that there was a new boy at school. We asked him what the new boys name was and he said "I not know...maybe Breadstick? Turns out, his name was Brett. Later that week we asked what they were playing in PE and he said "Oh, FUN! We play FUDGE ball!" Hmmm. Could that be DODGE ball? Zachary was just as creative in his use of English. One time after Tom explain to Zach what "annoying behavior" was and...to not HAVE annoying behavior, Zach took it to heart. Tom was playing around with him early one morning and Zach had enough and said, "Papa...you're ANNOINTING me..." Another time, Zach came home and said his music teacher said he could earn extra credit if he came home and looked up Bosh on the internet. Bosh...Bosh...music teacher...OH! You mean BACH? They amuse us with their strangled English at times...but it has gotten SO much better. The biggest issues we have now are "dis" and "dat" and "da" instead of this, that and the. Dey don't use der "th's" very much. They are capable...but we are constantly correcting them on it.
Last week (a whole week in to school) Zach brought home his first week worth of corrected papers. He had two D's (and we don't DO D's in this house). The math D was somewhat understandable - timed test, review on division, moldy summer brain...I get that. But the other D was in Reading and Zach is pretty good at reading - he actually LIKES reading (unlike Tyler). I started reviewing the paper and could immediately see the problem. The story was about Nina who was Latino. The second question on the test was, "Nina is Latino. What would you say you are? A. Latino B. American C. African-American or D. Caucasian." Well, you guessed it. White boy Zach...is African-American. I asked him what he thought that meant and he didn't have a clue (and really...why would he?) I explained that Barack Obama is African-American. And Zach is not. Zach is caucasian. "Oh!"
Sometimes it surprises me what they don't know. I think what surprises me is that I assume they DO know it. We still have to slow down and remember - 2 1/2 years...not long at all! Then again, I still have to remind them to brush their teeth EVERY night...and they have been doing that for 2 1/2 years straight! They are SMART...and TYPICAL.
I got the school newsletter last week and made an interesting discovery...the SCIENCE teacher is NEW! This MAY mean that I have cryogenically processed insects in my freezer for NO reason! I keep telling Tyler to ask the teacher if they are going to do a bug collection. I would be willing to give them a proper burial...and I would LOVE to get them out of my freezer. Could this be the NO Illinois scrapbook all over again? Hmmmmm....

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I have BUGS in my freezer...

There are several things that are a “rite of passage” when you go to our little grade school.

In third grade they each had a rock collection to do. It was simple - 12 rocks. Find a black one, a round one, a square one (I do believe Tom CREATED a square one for Tyler...we couldn't FIND one...so, he chiseled one!)

In the 4th grade, it was the Illinois scrapbook. Tyler had to do it – 50 facts about Illinois in scrapbook form. He had all kinds of facts and all kinds of pictures from all over Illinois (because…I am a photographer…I take LOTS of pictures. And, the kids are almost used to it). He had everything from Metropolis to Chicago. AND, because we knew that Zach would be in the 4th grade, too, I always took pictures of him by all of the interesting Illinois stuff. We planned ahead. Anyway, Tyler’s Illinois scrapbook was awesome. I got an A+ on it. I mean, err…HE got an A+ on it. Then the grade school hired another 4th grade teacher and last year, Zach had her instead of the teacher Tyler had.

She SAID they were doing an Illinois scrapbook…but time kept passing and the box full of Illinois memorabilia kept getting dustier. Then the edict came down. They would be doing not an Illinois scrapbook, but an Illinois ABC book. Through the alphabet with three Illinois things for each letter. Zach got right to work and said he was doing great and needed NO help. What is a mother to do? FORCE her artistry on her son? I checked on him a little but, for the most part, I let him do his own thing. THEN…the day before it was due arrived. And I decided to check on my son and his ABC Illinois book. We got through A, B and C without too many problems. Then we hit D and I immediately knew I should have been checking CLOSELY all along. Three things for Illinois… Well, we have D – DOGS. There are dogs in Illinois. D – DOLLARS. There are dollars in Illinois. Is this what the teacher wants??? I don’t think this is what she wants. And then the D of all time. D…DIAPERS. People in Illinois wear diapers. Oh, my. What to do…laugh or cry? I think I yelled. Poor kid. Starting at D (and of course it was about 8:30 at night) and we had a looong night in front of us. Although it wasn’t perfect, it DID make sense. So off to school he went and turned it in – on time, albeit lacking some sleep on both our parts. But here is the kicker…because OTHER kids didn’t have it turned in, anyone who turned it in completed and on time got an automatic A. He COULD have gone with D – DIAPERS. People in Illinois wear DIAPERS.

ANYWAY…back to the bugs. In my freezer. Rumor has it that another mandatory grade school project is a BUG collection in the 6th grade. Every cousin who has attended 6th grade here has done one (an NO ONE saved any critters for us to recycle and re-use!!!). So, not knowing what we need, we started collecting bugs. And we kill them by freezing them. In plastic baggies, in Tupperware, in whatever we can find. After they are bug-sicles, I put them in one "community" container. It’s kind of gross. I am beginning to wonder if cryogenics is the best form of bug preservation. There are various unclaimed legs in the container.

So, I have a cicada, grasshopper, cricket, praying mantis, lightening bug, several moths and assorted I-don’t-have-a-clue bugs. Rumor has it that TYLER has actually put some bugs in the freezer, too (so I’m not the only one collecting bugs for our…I mean HIS bug collection.) We EVEN have some “midges” flown back from one of Tom’s trips from Oregon. Hopefully this isn’t an ILLINOIS bug collection.

I remember my mandatory 7th grade project – it was a LEAF collection. Much easier to collect, much easier to store. And…prettier, too. And not so gross and…leggy.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Time flies when you're having fun....


Wow. I looked up my old blog due to a friends blog and started reading my past posts. It has been OVER 2 years since I last posted about the fun of suddenly becoming a family of four. It has been a wild ride and I absolutely LOVE being a mom. My boys are now 12 (!!!) and 11 (!!!) and they are both the joys of my life. I think that perhaps I should start writing this again because it chronicles LIFE...and I forget the details if I don't write them down. So, thanks, Anita...I have decided to start blogging again!

Hmmm. Can I sum up 28 months in a paragraph? Nope. I will remember things here and there and make note of it, but for the most part, ONWARD! The boys speak little to no Russian anymore. I speak more fluently than they do (and, if you know me, you know I am NOT fluent in Russian!) They are pretty good at English although there are MANY times that I have NO idea what they are saying. Apparently, that is common for parents of pre-teens so I am not too concerned about it. They pick up slang. Sometime accurately, sometimes...not so much. I have had Tyler say things like "You want a piece of MEAT?" out of jest to his younger brother (meaning, "You want a piece of ME?!") and the other day, Zach - the youngest of the entire family jokingly said to Tyler "Don't question my authority..." I had to laugh as I told him that, as the youngest, he had NO authority! They hear people use idioms and then they use them...not really knowing what they mean or how to use them. It's amusing, to say the least.

The boys are sport nuts. They play basketball in the winter, baseball in the summer, soccer in the fall and this year, they are running cross country. They ran their first meet on Saturday. It was a huge meet with over 14 other junior high schools. They did very well and I actually ENJOYED it. As a spectator, a cross country meet is kind of like a flock of geese waddling from one spot to the next trying to follow your runner. I love watching my boys enjoy something - and they seem to enjoy running.

School just started last week. Ty is in 6th grade - JUNIOR HIGH. Zach is in 5th grade. They are growing up SO fast. Everyone says kids grow up fast...but when you get middle aged kids to begin with (middle KID age, not middle aged), it is like childhood is on overdrive. The good thing is that I remember more of it (I don't have to go back too far!).

Tom graduates with his Masters in December. He SAYS he is done...we'll see. The man has been in college for as long as I have known him...and we celebrate 17 years of marriage this September. He gives new meaning to life-long learner!

We did a "close" vacation this year (last year we went to Florida AND California). We went to Minnesota and up to Canada. It was perfect weather and we had a wonderful time.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Sping is in the AIR!


And Ty and Zach are READY for school to be OUT! Last night, Tyler fell apart with papa. He started crying when it was bedtime about how in Ukraine, they had a time when school was out and they got to run free and stay up and do whatever they wanted. He was not pleased to find out that he would not be running free with no one watching him here in the states. His thinking is that after school gets out, he and Zach should just be able to stay upstairs and do whatever they wanted while we are at work...no need for anyone to watch them. Little does he know that he is coming to work with me and attending the daycare all day. The school-aged program is going to be great for them. They do all kinds of field trips and they are kept busy. I KNOW he would rather watch TV all day and play video games all night. But I DO think he would get bored after a few days of that! At least I HOPE so!

I had my first official Mother's Day. We went to eat at the same restaurant that we go to every Sunday. It is a Chinese buffet that the boys refer to as the "manoga myasa" place. We have since started referring to it in English as the "Much Meat" restaurant...because that is what Zach named it. So, we ate at Much Meat and went home (OH and we went to the manager's office at Wal-Mart...but more on that later).The week before Mother's Day, the boys made cards and a tissue-paper flower in school. I got home on Thursday and Tyler ran up with something behind his back and said, "Momma! Momma!!!" whilst holding his gifts behind his back. He pulled them out and yelled, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOMMA!!!!" Ahhh. Zach waited until the day after Mother's Day to give me his card and flower. It is interesting to me to note that Mother's Day has always been hard for me BEFORE I was a mother. Now, on my first Mother's Day...I feel like I have been a mother FOREVER!

In a few days, we will have been home with the boys for 5 months. I am amazed at how well they have adjusted and at how GOOD they are. I mean, sure, we have our little bumps (I will tell you of a few funny ones in a minute) but for the most part, these boys who SHOULD be basket cases are actually very normal, very sweet, wonderful kids. The majority of our bumps are typical 9 and 10 year old things - not post-institutionalized, screwy, warped things! I am convinced that these boys were covered on prayer (by MANY people) before we knew them and that God and prayer is the reason they are doing well.

Hmmm...let's see. Zach has had a few rough weeks - but not at school! I get Zach up to "go potty" every night. I got him up last Friday and walked him in to the bathroom, positioned him in front of the toilet with the seat up and then I went outside the bathroom to clean the cat litter. The next thing I hear is the sound of soft rain on paper....no, wait...the next sound I hear is ZACH piddling in the TRASH CAN!!!!! The next thing Zach hears is "ZACHARY FANELLI!!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?!?" He has by then, of course, stopped everything - and is standing and staring at me wide-eyed. His words..."Momma...I forgot." Hmmm. Because in Ukraine we used to piddle in the garbage can all the time? No - they did have bathrooms and the bathrooms didn't HAVE trash cans. It wouldn't have ticked me off so much if I hadn't LINED HIM UP in front of the toilet. He had to MOVE to hit the trash can. So, in miffed-mother-mode, I said "FINE. YOU are CLEANING IT UP!" I made him dump the soaked trash into another bag and then put the trash can in the tub and wash it with soap and water. Then I had regained a shred of composure, dried the can, apologized for screeching at him and told him that I really hoped he didn't "forget" that in school - that would be embarrassing!

On Saturday, we went about our day waiting for the return of papa. He had been gone for a whole week this time and true to their form, they started asking when he was coming home the day before he was due. We went to Wal-Mart on Saturday and the boys got a giant frisbee and some other little stuff. Tyler is sly. He asks for the big stuff but asks by saying, "Me, I want this but you say no..." Then I SEE the $5 or $10 item and then I DO say no. But typically, they get something every time we go to the store. Usually at $2 or $3 item. A ball, a yo-yo - something. Well, we checked out and papa called as he was on his way home form the Indy airport. We went home and unpacked groceries and waited for papa. About an hour after we got home, Tyler comes up to me and tells me that Zach has taken a pack of gum from Wal-Mart. WHAT?!?!? I ask him to tell me what went on and he tells me that he "found" it on the floor at Wal-Mart. We went through the whole "is-it-yours" and the "did-you-pay-for-it" things and finally I got him to admit that yes, he had stolen it and no, it wasn't his to take. I am absolutely angry with him but trying to not lose it on him (you ungrateful little TURD!!!) and then I decide to let papa in on this. He is less than 10 minutes from home when I call and tell him (and he is furious, too).

Okay, so now he has to come home after being gone for a week and pretend like he doesn't know and greet them with hugs and kisses. I must say, he pulled it off very well. I read Tyler a book and Zach and dad went to the other room to talk. Ty told me that he saw the gum on the floor and asked Zach about it and he said he found it on the floor but "shhh - don't tell momma..." which, of course, he immediately did. At this point, I am glad that Ty tells on his brother. Someday it may be annoying. Anyway, Tom got Zach to crack and Zach was bawling his eyes out. Tom told him that after church, we were going to go to Wal-Mart and he was buying the gum with his own money (20 cents - wooo hooo)and then we were talking to the manager.

I called the manager ahead of time to make sure they wouldn't hall my kid to jail for a pack of gum and they assured me to bring him in. They had two managers talk to him and he said things like since Zach took something that belonged to Wal-Mart, they were taking all of his videos and games. Did that sound okay to him? Of course, Zach said "Yes." He talked for about 5 minutes about all the opportunities that Zach had now that he is in America and Zach just sat there and responded with appropriate responses. He got it the night before with his father. He seemed to understand this was a big, huge, monstrous NO NO. I think he won't ever try it again. I hope.Sunday came, I let his Sunday School teacher know what was going on. We hit Much Meat and then Wal-Mart.

But the best part of this story is what happened on Monday night. Tom said that they wanted to pray at dinner time (a first) and so they did. They each prayed and Ty said "Thanks for food and house and momma and papa" and Zach said "Thanks for grandma and grandpa and please help grandma's leg heal" and then they ate (I was working late). Then, Tom said they wanted to pray before bed (COOL!! Another first!). Tyler prayed that I would get home soon and Zach prayed about being thankful for momma and papa and grandma and grandpa and then...he said, "I sorry God for stealing gum." He really DID get it! Tom said it was all he could do to not just drop to his knees and start sobbing right there.

It is so hard to explain God and the whole concept of relationship with Christ to a 9 and 10 year old. It is different when you have them in church from the time they are born. These boys have had a lot of stuff happen to them. A lot of things that I would ask WHY to if I were them (Sometimes I ask why anyway!) To know that they are understanding forgiveness and grace and God and the love of Christ (okay, I know they don't understand all of that) but to know they are starting to grasp that they even need to SAY "I'm sorry" to God. It is just too cool.

Well, tomorrow is our combined birthday party for the boys at the church. They took invitations to their class at school and apparently Zach had a few left over and went in to the 1st and 2nd grade classes. The school has a deal where if you invite at school, you have to invite the whole school. Sooo - I got a call from school wondering if the 1st grade teacher should make copies of the invite for the entire class or if I really MEANT for the 1st and 2nd grade class to come.... Uh, NO! So far, we have had one RSVP from a 2nd grader - and the boys don't really know her. Go figure. We shall see if a million of if 10 show up - it doesn't matter to me. I know that we are having a giant jumping balloon and I know WE will have fun!

Saturday we are going to a wedding in Chicago and staying in a hotel so the boys get to swim. Sunday night is the Children's Spring Musical at church...both boys are in it so - we will have their first church performance. Two weeks ago we had their first school performance as they played their recorders. Zach is a complete HAM!

Next week, papa is gone for half the week and then we are going to St. Louis next weekend for Zach's birthday weekend. I take cupcakes on Tuesday for his birthday and school is OUT on Wednesday. And then, it is almost SUMMER TIME!!!

Friday, April 21, 2006

I think one post a month is...enough!?

Well, Easter is over (Yay!) and now life can return to normal (I don't even have a clue what that is anymore...)
My intuition was correct - the other foot DID fall - about 2 days after I wrote that. The boys both told us about some things in their past that is very hard to hear and know they have gone through. Just to give you the tip of the iceberg, I was telling Zach that he better love his brother (he had said he didn't) and I said "You better love him, he is the ONLY brother you will ever have." Both of them said "No, momma...we have other brothers and a sister..." To make a long story short, we spent the next hour or so discussing this (their official paperwork says there are NO other siblings). What we can gather, they had two older half-brothers and a half sister (somewhere around 15 to 17 years old). I don't think they lived with them and they may or may not have been related - their birth mother's life is pretty sketchy...and apparently somewhat promiscuous). Okay -so they had other siblings...but that wasn't the bad thing. Then they told us about a younger brother. He was a little baby. But - their pappa got drunk and fell asleep on him and he is dead. Yeah. DEAD. We tried to clarify that. He IS dead. So, by reading through the paperwork we have - we are GUESSING that is what got them permanently removed from home and their mother's rights terminated. He was about 2 years old and he would have been their half-brother because the man that they referred to as "pappa" was not their birth father. The really sad thing is that Tyler said to me (in Russian) "Oh, momma...we have MUCH bad history. I will tell you more when I learn more English." So, we tucked them in to bed, walked out of the room, let our jaws drop and drag on the ground and wondered HOW on earth you deal with this kind of stuff. We told them they were safe now and that no one can hurt them now. They seem to understand that - but I am AMAZED at how well theses kids are doing. They have WAY too much history. Ty has filled us in on various things when he sees something that reminds him of his past. NONE of the things he remembers are good. Oh wait - he remembers that they had a pear tree - and in the summer they had lots of pears and they were good but Zach ate them when they were green...that was the way he liked them!

Other than the stuff that comes out pretty regularly (we aren't too easy to shock anymore), we have had a LOT more firsts. We went to the Indianapolis Zoo and spent the night in a hotel with a two-person jacuzzi in the room. The boys LOVED the dolphins and the Walrus. They also loved the jacuzzi - they played in it for about 2 hours. Of course after the zoo, we finished the day up with a trip to Chuck E. Cheese (always a favorite).
Grandma had her knee replacement surgery. She has been over at Marg's since so the boys have seen a lot less of her. I know with Tom traveling...I am ready for her return! She is a huge help to us. Dad is picking up where she left off, but sometimes I JUST WANT MY MOMMY! Dad has been doing us a huge favor watching them too. He had Zach out planting and said he seems to know what to do.
Tom (er, I mean Zach and Ty) had their first ROCK Collection turned in at school...Tom was actually in the backyard CHISELING a rock so it would be square (one of the 12 or so requirements for the collection). Tom got A's on both collections! The boys also got their first report cards and we had our first parent/teacher conferences. At this point, it looks like Tyler will be in 4th grade next year and Zach will be in the 2nd. Better than we expected for Ty and about what we expected for Zach. Tyler AND Zach are both doing great. Tyler excels in Math. Zach is getting better to not get sent to the "director" nearly as often. It seems as if anyone ASKS me how the boys are and if they have been to the principal lately, I can honestly respond "No, not in the last couple of weeks..." And then inevitably, the phone rings within 20 minutes or so of that comment and guess who it is...Yup - the principal. He has figured out that Zach fears ME more than he fears him...so he calls and has ME talk to Zach. It seems to work!

We had our first BIRTHDAY!
Tyler turned 10! I have a kid in the double digits! For his birthday weekend, we went to Chicago and visited the Museum of Science and Industry that had a vide game exhibit (hands-on of course!) We were in that exhibit for over 2 HOURS!!!! I was SO ready to leave! They also got to make their own space toys and got the little plastic injection-molded toy and we went to the OmniMax theater. We also went to Check E. Cheese on THAT trip. They were exhausted and slept most the way home. Tyler also made his first purchase with his own money. His Aunt in PA sent him a $20 check and pappa cashed it. Tyler decided to buy a Razor scooter with it. He also got his first BIKE from Uncle Steve and Aunt Janet. He LOVES the bike - he loves being outside!
We had out first Easter!
And...our first Easter egg coloring and hunt. We did it on Saturday with lots of family involved in the hunt. The boys love the hunt because mom and dad always fill plastic eggs with MONEY. Tyler came away with a bucket full of candy and $11.00 - he cares more for the money than the candy!
We left the Easter service and went to Indy to an indoor water park. It was a BLAST for the boys. They took off and I didn't see Zach for over an hour (he went on the waterslide about 50 times!) Their were lifeguards every 10 feet so it was safe for them to go. We floated along the lazy river and watched the boys climb the stairs over and over to go down the slide again and again!


FIRST WATER PARK!!!
Well, May is right around the corner. We will have a combo birthday party for the boys and their friends and then we will have Zach's birthday weekend. We think we are going to go to St. Louis. MORE FIRSTS!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

A bunch of firsts....

Okay, I know - its been a long time. But it is the busiest time of the year for me at work...and the busiest time of my life since this year has began. I don't feel "busier" than I used to - I always felt busy. It's just that now I have even less time to do the things I like doing. But...I have to say...I LIKE being "momma" a LOT. I am no longer feeling like their parents are going to show up and take them home at any moment. Now I am just waiting for the other foot to fall. Like...when am I going to find out something terrible happened to them. Part of that is because they have been speaking about their past more lately. Part of that is because I know some terrible things DID happen to them. And...part of it is reading posts from an older adoption group about the problems people are having with their kids and they have been home for 2 and 3 years. That kind of freaks me out. And...I suppose part of it is because of behavior I have seen. I have to wonder where it came from and why it is in an 8 year old mind. So I think about it a lot. Welcome to motherhood.

We have had a lot of firsts lately. First Valentine's Day (what is not to like...candy, cupcakes and girls, girls, girls). First Dentist appointments, first fillings, first blood drawn (in America at least!), first hair-cuts from pappa, first visit to the Children's Museum in Indianapolis which led to the first rock-climbing experience (they both did GREAT!). They also had their second dental appointment and had half their cavities filled. They both have one more appointment to get the rest filled and then Zach goes back for the front tooth repair job. They also went back to the doctor and got their second shots and the bloodwork came back great - we have basically healthy kids (Yay! Praise God!).

It WAS pretty quiet on the school principal path...until today! Zach had a little episode today and got in trouble ad the superintendent called me. Nothing too serious - just a battle of the wills. I hope someday he learns that grown-ups win. The funny thing was that the super was talking to me and telling me he had Zach go through why he was upset, what started it, how he could have handled it better, etc. and they had talked it out and the super asked him "Can I have your word that you will be on good behavior for the rest of the week? I don't want to see you back in here? Can you tell me that you won't be?" And Zach said to him, "Yes...if you don't tell my mother!" The superintendent said "So, I guess you pack more of a punch than I do!" I told him that I didn't know if Zach remembered but...the last time we said if he went to the director...no screens for 3 days! Soooo...he knew what was coming. I explained to him tonight that adults don't play that game. WE tell. I also explained to him that his teacher ands the superintendent aren't his momma and poppa - they NEED to tell us because it is our job to teach the boys what is right and wrong.

I also had to talk to Ty because he hasn't been an angel either. He melted down and cried and sobbed. When I got him calmed down I asked him why he was crying. Was he mad? Sad? Angry? Frustrated? "No!" he answered to frustrated...go figure. So why? "I don't know." Yeah, I understand, Tyler - I really do. I had to explain to both of them that I loved them whether they were good or bad and that it is normal for little boys to do things wrong and get in trouble. It's okay. But...expect to get in trouble when you do it. They are both so different. Zach gets a remorseful face and a sullen look and take the punishment and is over it. Ty gets defensive and frustrated and cries and pouts. Then he takes his punishment and is over it. I feel like SUCH a MOTHER! So - Zach has no TV until Sunday and Tyler has no TV today. Tomorrow night Zach gets a reprieve as we are going to go see the new VeggieTales movie at church - so he gets one BIG screen!

Poppa has been out of town all this week and all last week. He was home for the weekend and then off again last Monday. Momma doesn't like single-parenting. The boys handle it fine but they miss him like crazy.

Next week is...Spring Break. Wow. My mom will be watching them for most of the week. We have nothing planned as we have our vacation planned for August and we are taking a day off...around EASTER. In the SPRING! Ya know?! How nuts is it to have Spring Break a month before Easter. And...fun for the boys...the school has state testing the week AFTER Spring Break. So...all those kids after having a week to couch potato - jump right back in to school and ISAT testing. Great timing. Poor kids! Welcome BACK!!!!!! SIT. WRITE. READ. CALCULATE. NOW!!! My boys ought to lower their scores a bit. I can't believe they even have to test - but they are.

I have more pictures...but not with me. Soon. Sooner than it has been...the boys are already too tall for size 8's (both of them) and all in all - I think they are doing GREAT! And Tom and I are doing just fine, too!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Brrrrrr...Baby, it's cold...INSIDE

Well, last night I was reading e-mail in the den and I was absolutely FROZEN. I figured it was just because it was colder outside than it had been in January (we had a couple of 40 plus days and LOVED it!) and so I thought the cold was me...in the words of my mother, I just needed to DRESS warmer. By the time I went to bed, I felt like a popsicle. We have a ceramic heater in our bedroom that runs 24/7 (that is another story) and it is always freezing in there so I figured I was just a weather woose. Morning came and I went in the bathroom for a shower and turned on the heater in there. No big deal, I am always cold in the morning.

Tom got up about 1/2 an hour later and said HE was cold! Hmmmm...He is NEVER cold!!! Then he said, "I think I have this figured out. I bet the heater is not on." What do you mean? It is broken? "Nooo - I bet someone turned it OFF!!!" So, he went to the thermostat (which happens to be located in the boy's bedroom) and sure enough - it was turned down to 50! And...the actual temperature was 53! NO WONDER WE WERE COLD!!!!

Of course, I assumed it was our button-pushing maniac Zach and I asked him about it. He said it was Tyler. Tyler was half asleep...but eventually fessed up. Yup. He turned it down. He had NO idea what it was...but you can bet his frozen toes he knows NOW! I don't think either will be spinning that little dial again soon - they were both frozen, too!

Yesterday was visit number one to the dentist. The boys have mouths full of cavities. About 7 each in their baby teeth and 2 or 3 each in their molars. They will go back 3 or 4 times for the repair work. I asked about Zach's front tooth and the dentist told me they would put a filling in. I said "It can't be capped?" thinking that Zach would have a huge silver tooth and the dentist said it couldn't be capped until he was 18 or 19. I am kind of freaking out thinking he will have this ugly metal tooth until he is 19 and then he explains...they can get TOOTH colored filling material and it will almost look like a tooth. You would have to look hard to see that is wasn't. Ok...my pretty boy will still be a pretty boy.

So far this week NO PRINCIPAL calls. Oh. But we DID have one last Friday. Zach strikes again. He was pretty much doing his own thing. Pouting, curling up in a ball in the cafeteria and crying, not eating his lunch, missing recess, pouting because of that, and then...just walked out of his class and down to the computer to play his games. He explained the whole situation to us when he came home...imagine this...he was the apple, Alyssa was the banana and someone else (unknown to us) was the orange. The apple and the banana were in line together and happy. Life was good. Then the ORANGE came up and split the apple and the banana apart. That made the banana sad...but it made the apple curl up in a ball and pout. Hmmm. Well, I explained to our apple that the pouting apple ended up missing recess and the banana and the orange went off together and played...so...what did the apple gain from this? We also explained that the apple is to NEVER leave the classroom. And, we told the little apple that the next time he went to the principal's office, it wasn't a day of no screens, it will be THREE days with No Screens!!! So...this week he has told us every day that he was good and he didn't go to the principal's office.

I KNOW that the call will come. I know he will be in the principal's office again...and I will have to live with one bored son who wants nothing but to frolic in screens...and will have 3 days of frolic-free screenlessness. That will be fun for all of us... that being said, I still think Zach is a pretty good apple...

Brr. I am getting cold again....do you suppose....Nah - just a weather woose...right?

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Hmmm...full circle? Total SCHOOL Experience? FUN with the Principal?

Well, it has been a somewhat mellow couple of weeks. Oh, except for Zach going back to the principal’s office twice (for getting is a shoving match...twice) and today...TYLER went to the principal's office. Why? Because he decked his brother in the bathroom. I don't know exactly why - something to do with a book. And I am guessing that Zach could have won an Oscar for his performance as wounded boy writhing on the floor in pain. But...nonetheless, we have to UNlearn pummeling as a method of problem solving. Sooo - tonight Tyler is having his first time of No TV, No video games (as Kenna calls it "No Screens"). He had a time-out at school and the principal called me and discussed how to punish him. It is actually the substitute principal who has called me all three times. He is great and lets me know what is going on. AND - he goes to our church. Interesting way to get to know other members of the church!

It has been rather uneventful other than that. It seems we have a good day, then a not so good day, then a good day, then a visit to the principal. Keeps us…um – entertained? Involved? Interested?

We had a couple of funny things happen that are quite endearing to us. Last Wednesday night in children’s church, Kenna (the Children’s Minister) was having the kids do an acrostic for the word WORSHIP. Kids called out things that had to do with worship that started with a W and then and O but when it got to R, no one was saying anything. Kenna kept asking and suddenly Tyler yelled out “R – RABBIT!!!” YAY! An English word that he knew started with R! Okay, we don’t worship rabbits, but HEY – one concept at a time. Plus, we ARE coming up on Easter and there are SOME people who worship rabbits around Easter, right? Anyway, we were pretty excited that he got an R word!

Then this past Sunday on our way to church, Zach and Ty had on MP3 players (they discovered those last week and are quite fond of them – and we happen to have several…so lucky them!) We have all Christian music loaded on them and Zach found a song that he liked so he played it over and over (like he does). Then he started singing along and we heard a rather loud off-key rendition of “You Are My Joy” by David Crowder Band – it was so funny and cute to hear this little guy belting out “You Are My Joy, You Are My Joy, You Are My Joy, You Are My JOY!!!” Of course it also happens to be one of Tom and my favorite songs. So, we are hearing more English in the strangest places! A few nights ago at dinner, Tyler just started pointing and saying colors of things – “BLUE! ORANGE! BROWN! YELLOW! RED!” They seem to be “getting” it. Now if we can just keep them from “getting” sent to the principal’s office!

All in all, it gets better every day. They are starting to feel “normal” to me – it is beginning to get hard to remember NOT having them…and NOT going to the principal’s office!!! (Just kidding!) I’m starting to love being a mom. And I am definitely loving these two little guys! I like the big guy in the middle, too!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Set a new family record...

Well, today Zach got sent to the principal. None of my siblings have been to the principals office (at least not in GRADE school) nor have any of their children. So we win first prize for THAT! What did he do? Well, his interpreter wanted him to write words and he wanted to play on the computer. She said "no" and...he cussed at her in Russian. Makes Tom and I wonder if either of the boys have done that to us without us knowing...because they have been PLENTY ticked off at us!

Then, to follow up on his bad day, he decided not to listen to grandpa on the walk home from school. He crossed the street WITHOUT him (Highway 1 - not a major highway, but a highway nonetheless!). He didn't stop when he was asked, he didn't wait. He did not LISTEN at all.

And why did he do any of this...well, guess what his answer was. The age-old and timeless typical response of "I don't know." I am sure he didn't know. But what amazes me is did he think no one would tell us? So, he had a 20 minute time-out and no TV or video tonight. And I got to say the words, "Wait until your father gets home..." Which of course he didn't understand, but I said them anyway.

Well, we KNEW he was a little IMP when we got him, didn't we?! Hope we can get his attitude under control! Yeesh.

papa talked to him at the dinner table (with grandpa present) and told him he HAS to listen to grandpa. And I asked him about school tomorrow and he said "Yah znyoo - zaftra nee director..." which would be, "I know - tomorrow no principal..." He was very well behaved all night. Go figure. He must have know that he better not burn anymore bridges!

This is SO much fun!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Some PICS!

Okay - so the first picture I just love because it is the first time that Ty told me he loved me. Prior to this, we would tell him we loved him and he would just not say anything. This was taken at Zach's orphanage and when I asked Ty what he said, he told me it said he loved me...Ahhhhh. So, of course, I love this picture!


Then we have a few pictures of Ty and Zach and their frist American Christmas. I think Ty's face says it all - it expresses exactly what all FOUR of us were feeling that day! The kids were surrounded by family and extended family and tons of packages and kids and food and excitement and confusion. They melted down by 2 o'clock on Christmas day and we retreated to the hotel. We ate pizza for dinner and they were asleep by 7 p.m.



And finally...the New Year has brought us FANTASTIC weather and last weekend it was about 60 degrees in Illinois...so we went to the park. Typically what Tyler is doing on the monkey bars would have FREAKED ME OUT...but remember what he was used to doing in the orphanage - this was not even a challenge for him (but it still freaked me out a bit

Vissyo! That's all for now! More later!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Okay...I PROMISE...

I WILL update and fill you in on the wonderful world of parenthood post Ukraine...and soon... But I JUST got my computer out of the backpack this Saturday - honest! Yeah, we are a bit busier than we thought humanly possible!

But QUICK update - Tom started back to work December 30th. The boys started school on January 2nd and I returned to work January 4th. We unpacked the last of our suitcases this past Saturday.

How are the boys? Better than I would be if I were them. They like school, they have an interpreter for all but 2 classes, our youngest already has a GIRLFRIEND (He is 8!!!! Gimme a break!!!). We are getting to know their personalities more each day (and our instincts were correct from the beginning SO FAR).

How are WE? I still feel like I am babysitting - it still doesn't seem real to me. Can't imagine life without them but it still doesn't feel like they are mine forever, either. They don't sleep long enough. Okay, they sleep like 10 and a half hours...but I wish they would sleep like 12 hours on Saturday - and they DON'T...EVER! As much Russian as we CAN speak...I wish we could speak more. We love them and best of all - THEY LOVE US! They are excited to see us when we get home (OK - they want me to fix or get them something when I get home...but when DAD gets home, they are excited!!!).

In a nutshell, I think we boarded the longest, wildest, craziest roller-coaster ride EVER about 2 months ago and I don't know if this ride will ever end (but I have a sneaky feeling it won't!)

I have a ton of pictures and NO time...I know all of you long-time parents are out there LAUGHING at me!

I WILL update again...with fascinating things I have learned from my boys...NEXT WEEK!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Believe it or not...

WE ARE HOME!!!!!!!! We arrived TODAY at 12:30. It was a looooong day and we are exhausted and we had several interesting things happen thanks to our children...I will tell you just a few...you know you are a MOTHER when you get handed every piece of chewed gum, dirty tissue and scrap of trash your children possess. AND you know you are a FATHER when you take your son to the bathroom in the airplane and the stewardess comes and asks frantically "Do you need HELP???" because your youngest son pressed the "HELP" button in the toilet...THREE DIFFERENT TIMES.

We made it, we are all here and relatively healthy (we all have colds) and the boys only had minor melt-downs.

Thanks you for all your prayers for getting us home by Christmas - they worked worked!!! We will put a few more pics up of their first US Christmas and we will see MOST of you next week! MERRY CHRISTMAS and GOD IS GOOD!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Soon and very soon...

Just a few more pics and a few more bits of info... We HOPE to be out of here on Wednesday. Vasya is trying his darndest to get us to the US Embassy on Thursday. We can BEG for a Friday appointment (they don't work on Friday's...) if we don't get it done on Thursday. We HOPE and PRAY to get on a plane on Saturday or Sunday (Merry Christmas!!!) and be home on Christmas. That is our hope....PLEASE PRAY we get here (I know youa re already but I am READY to scome HOME!)

Zach asked the DAY we picked him up "So, are we going to America tomorrow?" We WISH! Few more days, Zach...then some sanity will return (HA!) Our kids have watched so many videos it is funny (funny...in a scary sort of way...) There is literally nothing else for them to do besides that and draw (I have pictures for all of you to post on your refridgerators...) We had a great time yesterday in Yalta. We ate in a fancy restaurant...Zach kept moving his silverware (and the waiter kept moving it back tot he right place...) Enough talk - MORE PICTURES!!!




We GOT 'Em!

Hello all from the Fanelli's- Couple of things going on these past few days...
First, we are OFFICIAL. They are OURS! We are still going through the rest of the paperwork but the court side is done (and the JUDGE came in late and then left with he stamp - it didn't get done until after 1:30 and...it may delay us another day - we HOPE not.

Second, we had our first night all together...it was amusing. Nothing really happened, except Tom and I didn't sleep too well. We kept hearing the boys...SNORING. Yes, both of them.

Third, we had our first family vacation at the Black Sea (Yalta). Pictures to follow...

Fourth, I had my first haircut with a pair of blunt-tipped kiddy scissors (it was all we could find...) And for those of you with little faith, Tom did a DANDY job...but can you imagine!? He also cut his own hair. And he looks fine too.

I am thinking that my boys almost look like twins - I mean their jawline, their noses, their ears...they look SO similar...what do you think?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Just postin' more pics!





Tom did the update this time - I am just posting pics and some prayers - please pray that the Judge sees fit to come in early tomorrow and sign our paperwork. We can't do anything without it and we have a lot of running around to do before we can leave this region (maybe next Monday or may be Tuesday or Wednesday if we don't get the paperwork early) The biggest problem we have now is we will be running in to holiday schedules with teh US embassy soon - and we want to get OUT of here with our BOYS!!!! The Embassy takes both US Holidays and Ukrainian holidays off so...we are coming up on a bunch!
Love you guys!

Hinges and elevators...

Hello!

Tom here...

I know you've been waiting for the hinge story and the waiting is over! I will tell you the tail of the hinges.

HINGE STORY

First you must know that the toys we brought were rather generic. Remember, we had no idea if we were getting young kids or older kids, boys or girls... so, we couldn't bring everything. We have already exhausted the kids on most of what we brought, but boys like to play catch. We have been allowed to visit with Tyler in one room in the school and that room has a large storage system on one entire one. This is at least 20 years old, maybe more? It looks fine from a distance, but up close the thing is falling apart. Well, we have some balls with lights on the inside and we have occasionally even turned the light out when we were playing catch. Most of the time it's just Tyler and myself playing catch, but on occasion both Lois and Vasya (our interpreter) also join in. Well, on one such day the ball was thrown to Lois and it was not a good throw and she had to move to catch the ball. She moved right into the storage system and broke a door right off it's hinges! Yep! She broke three hinges in a second! We all laughed and then realized we had to fix the thing! Vasya told the Director of the orphanage what Lois did and she forgave her, and we told her we would fix it.

Seems simple - go to The Home Depot and by a few hinges and fix the thing - right? Well, there is no Home Depot and hardware for something that old may not be easy to find. Vasya found some hinges and we headed back the following day to fix the door. We arrive and start removing the old hinges and the new hinges do not look similar at all! Yep! We had the wrong style of hinges. Vasya claims they were the old Soviet style and we needed the old Ukrainian style!

A few days pass...

So, we went to the central market and found a different set of hinges and headed back to the orphanage - this time to fix the thing once and for all! Yep! These hinges would not work either! We were perplexed - now what? Well, Lois said, all you need to do is buy some wood and that would allow the hinges enough room and they would work. Vasya told Lois to go get Tyler - kinda brushing her idea off. If you know Lois - she doesn't care for that! She persisted and you know what - it may very well work.

So, we measured and recorded we need a pieve of wood 1 cm x 3 cm and at least as tall as Vasya's shoulder! Sure, no problem!!!

A few days pass...

So, back to the central market and we had to find someone sellinf wood! Not an easy task at all... but God is good and we found exactly what we needed and headed back to the orphanage - this time to fix the thing! Sure enough we were able to fix the door and in the process fix the door next to the one Lois broke!

ELEVATOR STORY

On Saturday the kids were sitting in front of the computer watching animated films dubbed in Russian and I thought they had seen enough and wanted to take the kids outside. So, I asked them to help me take the trash out. It is about a four block walk to the dumpsters - a nice little walk. So, Lois gathered all the trash - two bags and each boy grabbed a bag and off we went. We stepped outside our apartment and pushed the button for the elevator. We are staying on the 7th floor and we all piled in...me, my two sons and two bags of garbage. Zach likes pushing buttons and asked to push the button for the first floor. So, I approved and he pushed the button and the doors shut. In about 3 seconds the elevator stopped... I knew we were not completely down to the first floor, but the doors did not open! We were stuck between the 4th and 5th floors! Now, let me tell you the details about the elevators here... they are small - like 4 x 4! They stink! I thing every person and there pet has at one time used the elevator as a urinal!!! It is really bad! Then the garbage we brought with us... not a pleasant smell! So, I called Vasya on the cell phone and he was outside the elevator in a matter of minutes. He told me to press the alarm and hold it and when someone came on tell them I needed help. Sure, no problem - I speak such good Russian!!! No problem, nobody would answer. So, Vasya called a few people - who do you call when you need to get someone out of an elevator??? Well, Vasya got in touch with the right person and it would be 25-30 minutes. No problem! Except the two boys could not stop hitting each other - I had to separate them, but that didn't work and then Zach got tired and wanted to sit on the garbage bags! NO, NO, NO!!! Vasya then told them to settle down and before you knew it - the elevator was moving again. Just 25 minutes - not bad!

Well, that's my stories and now it's time to go.

Vissyo!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

PICTURES!!!


Typical BOYS!!!!








Family dinner




Tyler's Play - (He's the BEAR)

8, 7, 6, 5...

WOW! What a weekend!!! We went to Djoncoy as planned on Friday but FIRST we went and got Tyler and he went with us. We surprised Zach with his big brother! He was elated...of course. Then it got better. We asked the director if we could take Zach with us to Simferopal. In a nutshell, she said, "No, we can't do that, it is against the rules...but no one will check...so, maybe, if we can have him back within an hour of us calling if someone DOES check and we will have you request him for each day of the weekend...so, okay!" Yep - we got Zach for the entire weekend! We had him from about 11 on Friday until Monday morning at 9 a.m. We had Ty for each day from about 10 until about 6. Can I tell you...we FEEL like parents!!!
So, we had a weekend full of firsts. To name a few, our first family dinner, Zach's first pizza, and Tom's first time getting stuck in an elevator (with Ty, Zach and 2 bags of garbage...). We had a great time and we did a lot. We got another set of clothes for each boy, we gave them both bathes (they played for about an hour and had a blast!) We had to take Ty home each night and as he went with Tom and Vasya, I had time alone with Zach. Friday night he got his first bath and he played alone for 45 minutes (with me checking every couple of minutes). I gave him a bottle of bubbles (what harm can he do in the tub with bubbles???) and he used the WHOLE bottle. He was sliding around the tub like a nut! After he got out of the tub, it was about bed time so he, of course, had to go to the bathroom several times. After the last time, he actually went in and went to sleep. Tom called to me and told me to look in the toilet...well, first, let me explain the toilet. In most Ukrainian flats, the toilet room is just that - a toilet in a tiny room. OUR toilet has a broken lid so you can see how it works and you can see the water flowing in to the toilet everytime it flushes. It isn't like an American toilet - it is a little bit different - ANYWAY...you can see inside the tank because the back lid is broken in half...so what child can resist that? Well, not OURS. Apparently after the first visit, he had a thought and got the near empty bubble bottle and decided to see HOW empty it was. And there was enough in it to make quite a few bubble in the toilet tank which in turn made even MORE bubbles when you flushed. So, Zach cleaned his first toilet - unintentionally. We thought it was hysterical. I took a picture. I showed it to him the next morning...and he didn't know a thing about it. Let me tell you, it is easy to deny when you don't speak the same language...THAT will not last! But it was funny, anyway. On Sunday night he had to go to the bathroom about times before he gave up and went to sleep...and on that night he decided to dip a new roll of toilet paper into the back of the tank...I guess just to see what it would do. I tell you what Shelly - I am not allowing ANYONE to get him a squirt gun anytime soon. His mind is always working and he want to test everything.
He also likes the Bejeweled game on the computer - but not so much for the strategy - just for pushing every button on the computer. At one time, he had about 17 windows open. I told Vasya to tell him not to push all the buttons because he could break the computer...he responded, "I am not pushing a bunch of buttons" Uh huh. After this weekend, we have decided we have salt (Tyler) and pepper (Zach). Zach is our tester of limits, our pusher of buttons, our not defiant but not compliant one...Tyler is almost the opposite. I am sure they will both have their days - but this was how the weekend played out. All in all, though, it wasn't too much to handle...but we are tired! He got up sharply at 7:30 (no alarm) and told us "Dobre Ootra!" (Good morning) and made his bed quite neatly. He gave us hugs and kisses and then signaled that he was hungry and wanted to eat. He did this every morning he was here. They are both such great kids...we love them SO much. Soap bubbles in the toilet and all.
On Monday we had to take Zach back and then return to see Ty in a play. He was a bear and although we didn't understand what was going on, it was funny and he did great. We videotaped the play and we were like two proud, beaming parents. It was great - our first school play. Today (Tuesday) we have decided we are outgrowing the orphanage and tomorrow we are asking to take Ty for the whole day. Only 4 more days and they are ours FOREVER. We still have a hard time imagining that - it feels like we have been here forever. This whole thing will be much easier when we get home. And much more difficult, too, I am sure.
One thing we bought on Saturday was black-market videos on DVD with Russian dubbed in - and of course, they were glued to the computer screen. We have the equivalent of 26 full length cartoon (like Toy Story, Shrek and The Incredibles) on 3 DVD's. I am not one to want my kids glued to a TV...but it is about the ONLY thing we can have them do without being with them constantly. SOOO - for now, they are TV faces - and we are okay with it! They will have SO many changes hit them at once - the marathon movies will be a distant memory soon enough.
Tom says HE will blog tomorrow and HE will fill you in on the hinge story and the elevator story.
I will post a few pics and HOPE they come out!
Vissy0!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

NINE...

Sorry - no pics today - we forgot to bring the disk. We promise, we will try to get more on but believe me, it is SLOOOW going here!

Today we are taking it easy - Vasya took his car in for repairs and we are without it so we are walking around and looking in shops. They have a ton of "Second Hand" stores here with clothing. We found a jean jacket for one of the boys (probably Zach, the younger TALLER one!) and we have another one to go to across the street (THRIFT STORES IN UKRAINE!!!!). Don't worry, though, just clothes so I won't be coming home with a suitcase full of stuff for eBay!

We started our laundry in the tub this morning and got it all washed and ready to rinse when PFfffffffffffffftt blurp, blurp. That was the sound the faucet made when I turned it on. Yeah, the water is GONE. So, we have washed and unrinsed clothes sitting in the tub waiting. On the good side, we both took bathes before the laundry and we DID get to rinse so at least WE are clean.

Tom and I were talking as we walked down here and were recalling what the judge said to us. The LAST thing he said was "The boys will live with you FOREVER." Uhhhh. Forever? We were thinking college in about 9 or 10 years...FOREVER? Then again, that is kind of what has happened to my mom and dad - we couldn't live MUCH closer! And when we move, we are tasking them WITH us sooo - maybe forever isn't all that long!

Later this afternoon, (after Vasya gets his car) we will head to the orphanage to see Tyler. AND to repair a door that I RIPPED THE HINGES OFF OF (three of them...LONG STORY...not really but I choose not to embarass myself...). Today we will write another petition to take him for the weekend hours but we are also going to try to take him with us to see Zach on Friday. That should be fun. They have only seen each other for that short time at the court house (and they were already poking, pinching and pulling on each other!) and it might be nice for them to have some more time together. PLUS - I want to take a long ride with Ty and get to hug on him (yeah, I have ulterior motives). This week has gone quickly.

Please pray for the boys - they have a lot of changes coming up. Of course, pray for their hearts to hear THE message of Christ and His love. Pray that the next few days fly by. PRAY WE GET WATER!!! Zach will need another bath and clothing change by the time we see him on Friday! Pray for Vasya and his wife and son - Vasya has opened up a lot to us and...that is a family in need of the love of Christ. I have already told him that our family and church at home is praying for his family - pour it on. He and his family have had a lot of stressful things happen to them in the last year and a half (and they have only been married about that long). Vasya is a great guy and has been a huge help to us.

Tomorrow we will be up in Djoncoy so we probably won't post - but we will get another picture on here by Saturday! Love to you all!

Vissyo!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

TEN....

I have to tell you - it is like Christmas morning for us to get online at the internet cafe and see all the comments. What fun! And, it is so cool to see how God is working through all of you. We are SO thankful! It's funny, I read the comments and I can hear your specific voices when I read them - like you are talking to us!

Okay - so we are in the countdown and we are making plans. As you know, our boys don't speak English. They will learn, but we don't really want to wait for a couple of months to tell them about Jesus! Soooo - we have worked out an idea. We have a friend here who was our interpreter 11 years ago - and she works in children's ministry at Calvary Chapel Kiev...and she has talked with us and she will resent the whole gospel story to the boys when we get back to Kiev. Not only that, she will give them each their own Children's Bible in Russian as a gift from her.

So...now we have a HUGE thing for everyone to pray for. Pray that our boys are receptive to the love of Christ and that they GET it! We don't know how much they know (our guess is not much if ANYTHING) and we are pretty sure they don't understand unconditional love. Pray that this is the beginning of something beautiful for both of them (and for US!) We want these boys to be dedicated to Christ very early in their new lives - we want them to be able to see how God has had His hands all over this! That is our biggest prayer request yet - pray that our boys have soft hearts and accept Christ as their Savior.

And...you can imagine that we have had a little time on our hands...so I have had a little time to play in PhotoShop...these were taken at different times and in different locations - but aren't these beautiful (err...handsome...) boys!


Love and hugs to you all!
Vissyo!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Fanelli Family

As most of you know, today was our court date. Our documents came in at 11:20 on the train and our court time was 11:30. We got to the court house at...11:30 on the dot. When Tyler saw Zach, it was one happy reunion. The court was already in session for another American family, so we waited about 30 minutes. When it was our turn, we all filed in to the judges office (there were 16 of us I think!) and we went through the proceedings. Tom petitioned, they asked us a few questions, each of the education directors spoke, each of the orphanage directors spoke and then Tom petitioned again and we asked to change their names and then we stepped out while a decision was made (they had to have some time to type the official document). About 5 minutes later we were called back in and the judge read the decision (it was GOOD) and we are now in the 10 day waiting period. We pick up the boys and they are forever ours starting on December 16th. We still have a few days of paperwork after that but we will soon be on the downward side of the hill. And we will soon have two boys! And may we present...The Fanelli Family!!!
P.S. We found out today that our younger son...Zach - is about 2 inches taller than Tyler!!! Zach is on the left(in front of me), Ty is on the right (in front of Tom). Of course they are only 10 months apart - but Zach - who looked so small to us, is actually quite a bit bigger than his big brother (but, Tom says, Tyler is stronger!)