Hoping to someday find M's brother adopted in the U.S. -
Myckola Oleksandrovych Markov - 8/26/2003

Thursday, December 30, 2010


I have been a bad blogger lately. I finally have the laptop back at home though so at least I am able to blog now. I picked Phillip and Katya up from Dulles yesterday around 5pm. Their plane landed at 2:44pm and that is how long customs and immigration took them. Every other plane from Europe landed with theirs I think.

Long story short. We drove home, had dinner prepared by my cousin and his wife, then let the kids play a little and showed Katya the house before baths. After baths Katya let me put her jammies on and put her in the bed. She laid there and talked a while before going to sleep. She woke up around 1am and I rocked her a little bit and she went right back to sleep. Somewhere around 6 or so she woke up again and Phillip got her and put her in our bed. She fussed a while then threw up. Yuk. I'm not sure what was wrong but she was fine the rest of the day.

Naptime was awful. She screamed and cried and wouldn't let me rock her at first. She just saw the bed and I explained it was time for "speet" and she just got upset. I would appreciate some tips here because at first (since she wouldn't let me rock her) I just put her in her bed and let her scream a little while. Then I went in and rocked her to sleep. As soon as I put her down, she woke up and started screaming again. So I rocked her again. Same thing. Fast forward 2 hours later and none of my kids were asleep.

Finally she said she had to pee so I took her to the potty then brought her back to her bed. When I laid her down and tucked her in that time, she didn't fuss at all and went right to sleep. THEN I could get Wyatt to go to sleep.

Overall though, the kids have played happily with each other all day and our "Christmas Day" is tomorrow morning! I am so happy to have my hubby back. I missed that man!

Katya has a Dr. appointment on Tues. next week so we'll see what specialist they refer of to and what everyone recommends. She definitely will benefit from medical attention here in the U.S.

I will fill in what all went on in Kharkov at other time. When I have time!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

So I have been unable to post on my blog via the iPod. I am on the laptop at Phillip's parents'.

Phillip left Charlottesville Airport at 10:30am on Sunday and after traveling to Dulles, Munich, Kiev, and Kharkov, finally made it around 1am Tuesday morning, but he got right off the train and headed into a full day of paperowork with our translator that included a 2 1/2 hour car drive to Katya's hometown. He finally made it to an apartment to get some sleep on Tuesday night (Ukraine time - so early Wed. morning EST).

So right now they have everything taken care of except getting Katya's passport. They expect to pick that up on Monday, then get Katya and take the night train to Kiev. Phillip emailed the embassy on Friday about an appointment but hasn't heard back yet. We're hoping for a Tuesday appointment so they can pick up the visa on Wednesday and come home! We're going to have to change flight plans again though because right now their plane leaves Kiev on Wed. morning and unless the embassy pulls a miracle and does everything in one day, they can't leave till Wed. night. Oh well...

Last night I asked the boys if they wanted to put out cookies for Santa Clause. We aren't opening presents at our house till Daddy comes home so I wanted to do something fun for them. Wes was all into it and said we also needed a carrot for the reindeer. Wyatt carried the plate of cookies over and Wesley carried the milk cup. Wes asked if Santa would come in the fireplace. I said yes. He said well Mom there is fire there! He might get burned! I said Santa would be fine and he'd come down as soon as they went to sleep and leave a present. Wes then said "I'm gonna get in my bed now and NOT peek!" Wyatt looked at the fireplace, the cookies and milk, then climbed up on the love seat. I said, "What are you doing." He said, "My gonna wait for SannaClas. My want see him." Oh MY he was MAD at me for making him go to bed!!

The only way I got him to go to sleep was to let him sleep in the newly made Princess toddler bed...

We called Phillip on skype this morning from his parent's house so he could watch the boys open presents. They showed Daddy everything they got and ate donuts in front of him. I've promised a repeat of Christmas Day at our house once Daddy and Katya get home. Wesley is SO excited that we get to "Have Christmas Day AGAIN!" Our presents will remain under the tree until we're ALL home.

Its been really hard today to not have Phillip here. We could have waited till after Christmas to go get Katya but we really didn't want to do that. She's never had a family for Christmas and even if she doesn't really understand that Daddy was there with her today, we did. I miss him so much. We've never spent Christmas apart before, not even when we were dating.

I'll be really glad when he gets home :) We're gonna have a PARTY!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Daddy is coming!

Phillip flies out tomorrow morning to go finalize paperwork in Kharkov and get Katya. He has 3 flights totalling over 12 hours with two 6 hour layovers and then an 8 hour overnight train ride to get to her. Please be in prayer for him to have safe travels, and for me and the boys who will be spending Christmas without him. Also please pray for Katya who is going to have her world turned upside down when Daddy comes to get her and she will have to travel on the train and the same long flight to get home.

Phillip is taking the laptop with him (which is on its last leg) so I don't know if I can update the blog while he's gone but I might go borrow one at someone else's house. Or MAYBE I can get him to update the blog -- we'll see.

I have an iPod touch that my brother loaned me so we can skype with Phillip but other than that, we won't see him until he flies home on the 29th.

Please pray that all will go well with the paperwork for Katya. There are several things in Kharkov that have to be done that will take a few days and then they'll go to Kiev to get her visa at the embassy. It is the holiday season but we've been told they'll still process adoption visa's even the week of Christmas and New Years. IF by some miracle they get things finished up early, they will try to get an earlier flight home.

Hopefully we'll all be able to ring in the New Year as a family of 5 under ONE roof!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

4 Days

We're still a little jet lagged but I think maybe its not so bad coming home as going over. While in Ukraine we felt like we'd been gone forever, but once we got home it kind of felt like we'd never left except that we left colorful leaves on the trees and 65 degree temps to come to home no leaves on the trees and a windchill around 10 degrees.

It snowed Monday so Wesley's preschool was canceled but he still had his Christmas program that night which we were SO glad that we got to both be here in our little window of time and see him. Of course he sat on the steps and didn't sing, but watched everyone else. Oh well, he's only 4 and we were just happy he stayed on stage. He seems to be terrible shy in front of people.

Phillip leaves Sunday morning to fly out of Charlottesville and into Dulles then has about a 6 hour layover before he flies to Frankfurt then another long layover there before he gets into Kiev. Poor guy! He went back to work Monday and has already got 2 hours overtime. Of course we can use the money because he didn't get paid while we were in Ukraine and won't get paid while he's gone again to get Katya.

We came back to find the Christmas season in full swing but we're having a hard time getting into it. For one thing, we won't be together and another is that we've just spent a month in Ukraine in an orphanage and Christmas almost (to me anyways) seems like a frivalous spending spree and not the celebration of Christ's birth that it should be.

The kids are excited about Christmas and Katya. We're going to wait till Daddy and Katya get back to celebrate Christmas here at our house. The kids won't know the difference and that way Katya still gets to have her first Christmas with a family. Ukraine celebrates the New Year first, then they have Christmas then they celebrate their "Old New Year." We might just find ourselves celebrating all January long.

I've nearly washed all of our clothes and I've started getting Phillip's stuff ready to go back. I cried every day we were in Ukraine (not constantly of course!) because I missed the kids and I'm sure I'll probably cry every day while Phillip is gone until he gets back and we're ALL together as a family of 5. This whole process has turned me into an emotional sap lol.

Seriously though, the emotional toll of adopting is nothing to sneeze at. I've heard it said that adoption is not for the faint of heart. I don't really agree with that because I consider myself pretty faint of heart! Without God as my source of strength, calm, wisdom, and comfort, I would not have been able to take all the ups and downs of this process and keep going. I think this whole process made me realize in a new way how weak I really am and how big God is.

I read the book Crazy Love while we were in Ukraine and I love how it talks about Christians always wondering what "God's Will" is for their life. They spend so much time searching for "God's Will." If they could just figure out "God's Will" then they'd do it. Well the book goes on to say that we should be living "God's Will" in the NOW. What does God want us to do RIGHT NOW. We aren't supposed to figure out the "Master Plan" and then try to go do everything just right so we don't mess it up. No, God wants us to do what He would do RIGHT NOW.

That was such a source of comfort to me because we had to make so many snap decisions and I was left wondering "What if I just screwed up what God intended for us?" "What if that was the wrong decision?" "How do I know this is what we're supposed to do?" Basically the answer is that God walks with you and no matter what choice you make, if you are really seeking his will and trying to love and serve Him then you are living out His will for your life. There isn't some secret to finding God's Will. You just have to live in it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


We are finally HOME.

We found out after court on Thursday that we couldn't do any paperwork during the 10 day waiting period which will end on the 20th of Decemeber, so we decided to come home and wait it our here in the U.S. I signed over my POA to Phillip so only he will be returning to Ukraine to get Katya during the week of Christmas.

We went to the orphanage and told Katya goodbye on Thursday morning and left her almost all of the toys we bought her, some snacks, a picture book and we tried to explain that we wouldn't be back for a little while. We got one of her nannies to explain to her that her Papa would be back on the 21st to pick her up and take her home but at 4 I don't think she grasps the concept. We are hopeful that since her workers know when Phillip is coming back that they'll remind her of that when she asks for us. The inspector told the judge at court that Katya asks for us every day before we would come visit her so we know she will be looking for us.

I'm a little sad that we won't all be together for Christmas but I'm also so happy that Katya will have her Papa there with her for the first time in her life so she won't have to spend another Christmas alone and without a family. We will save our presents here for when Daddy and Katya return. We are thinking about just doing a New Year's/Merry Christmas Day but we'll probably just tear into everything as soon as they're home! Our translator said she was sorry that we would have to spend Christmas apart and said Phillip could come back after Christmas to finish the paperwork but we want this thing finalized and Katya home ASAP!

We also found out that the Ukrainian parliament is voting to close adoptions on Dec. 16th so we feel very fortunate that we got to court and were declared Katya's parents before that vote comes up!

Our trip home was very very long. We found out there were no train tickets left AT ALL for the 4pm train leaving Kharkov and going to Kiev so we had to pay an extra fee to get 3 tickets on a bus that someone else had already booked. Not sure how they even worked that but they said we could have them for an extra 100 grivnah and we said ok.

The bus wasn't bad. It had more leg room than an airplane but smelled worse. There was also a "flight attendent" that served drinks and snacks in route. The bus driver drove like everyone else in Ukraine only he was doing it in a huge 40 passenger German Engineered bus. Oh well... at least we were bigger than everything else on the road! Oh and it was snowing to beat the band when we left Kharkov so traffic was awful! After a few hours we stopped for bathroom breaks at another bus station. I had to pee so I hopped off the bus with our translator who then informed me that you had to pay 1 grivnah for the privaledge of using the toilets and instructed me to grab some toilet paper at the window as well.

Ahhh... and I thought I'd seen it all.

So I walked into the ladies room and was hit first by the stench. Ugh it rivaled the worst portapotty you've ever used. So I covered my nose and went to a stall and AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!


The toilet was level with the floor. Phillip didn't get this description so I'll explain in more detail. The toilet seat was completely level with the floor as in to use the toilet you'd have to either stand over it or squat or something... I dunno. I didn't find out how you'd use it because I turned around and ran out completely horrified that everyone else on the bus was using these toilets and that there was no handsoap at the sinks. I'm a bit of a germ freak and I had to practically bathe in hand sanitizer and then I purposefully inhaled the fumes through my nose to get rid of the smell. Wowzers.

6 hours later at the Kiev airport I finally got to pee in a REAL toilet.

About an hour after that, we started smelling something burning. The driver of the bus pulled over and we could see the brake roters glowing on the wet ground. Not cool. They told us that they were trying to repair the bus so after about 30 minutes of sitting and them doing something (and Phillip going nuts b/c he's a mechanic and was convinced that he knew what was wrong) we pulled out and despite still smelling the burning brakes, drove on.

We left Kharkov at 4pm and arrived at the Kiev aiport at 12:30am. Our flight left at 5:30am so we had to sit and kill 5 hours. We went through security at Kiev which wasn't bad and got on plane to Frankfurt.

Awful ear pain again for me when landing despite taking benedryl and zyrtec! Wel landed around 7am.

Customs in Frankfurt is the most thorough security anywhere. Thankfully we weren't one of the people who got special processing or pulled aside to be searched so we were happy!

We had a 6 hour layover in Frankfurt which was loooooooong but we dozed off a few times and had a snack at the snack bar and waited...

Our flight was supposed to board at 12:15pm but that was delayed because the cabin crew wasn't ready for passengers so we waited till about 1pm to board. Then, the captain made an annoucement that we had been waiting for passengers who never showed up so they had to remove their baggage.

Then he annouced that we had to wait for clearance for takeoff.

Around 2pm we finally took off. Yay! U.S. bound!

The flight was long, the food was good, we napped a tiny bit and one really cool thing on this plane was that we had our own personal touch screen tv to watch movies on, or listen to music. That really helped to pass the time!

After 9 hour flight at 38000 feet, once again, awful ear pain when landing then partial deafness for several hours lol

We picked up our luggage and went through U.S. customs in like 3 minutes. Sweet.

My Dad and step mom were waiting for us when we walked out of our gate. Our connecting flight to Charlottesville didn't leave till 10pm so my dad said he'd pick us up at Dulles which is only a 2 hour drive to where we live. We landed nearly an hour late around 5pm. Dad drove us home after stopping to get me a bottle of water and a bottle of tea which I drank in 10 minutes. I was SUPER thirsty!

We were home at 7pm and showered (for the first time since Thursday night Ukrainian time) and in the bed asleep by 9pm, an hour before our flight would have even left lol

We woke up wide awake at 5am and couldn't go back to sleep so got up and went to IHOP for breakfast (first American meal in a month) then went to Phillip's parent's to pick our kiddos up. Wes was standing at the door waiting for us and I picked him up to hug him and he just clung to me. Wes NEVER does that so I know he missed us! Wyatt was still sleeping so I went to his bed and rubbed his head till he woke up. He jumped up and hugged me and wouldn't let me go for about an hour. After he woke up good, he melted all up against me and hugged me with his little arms and said, "I like you!" We stayed for a little while and let the boys eat the candy we brought them and gave them each a set of Bricks (knock off legos) then the boys said they wanted to go home! NiNi and PaPa were heading to church anyways so we loaded up the boys (who jumped into their carseats voluntarily) and drove home. As we were going down the road Wes said, "I really missed you, mom." I missed you too buddy!

It is SO good to be home. Our shower is amazing and will never ever fuss that it is only a stall and not a full size. Our toilets are marvelous. Our sinks are splendid. My kitchen is WONDERFUL and I am in love with my microwave and garbage disposal all over again. My washer and dryer make me feel like I am a queen and I am blessed that I am able to wash a supersize load and then *angels singing here* put my clothes into a dryer to have them emerge soft, fragrant, and warm. I have a vaccuum cleaner that I LOVE LOVE LOVE to use and we are so blessed that we can drink our tap water without a second thought.

We take so much for granted here in the U.S. but we are SO incredibly blessed. Compared to most of the rest of the world we live in spendor. I certainly feel like I'm living in splendor now!

So, I need to call GE Money Bank and tell them how upset I am that even though I called them BEFORE we left for Ukraine and told them that I would be using the card in Europe and DID NOT want it put on hold; they put it on hold and declined our travel agency's charge for plane tickets.

The last seat on the plane, Katya and Phillip's return flight home and they declined the charge then called our HOME phone to ask about it 5 minutes after we walked in the door last night. Ya know the home we had to fly from EUROPE to get to return to? yeah... Fortunately our travel agent used the company credit card to pay for our tickets so now we have to wire him the money but Phillip got the seat on the plane. Ya know the LAST one! Golden Rule Travel Agency rocks. Who else would do that for you?

Seriously though I am outraged at the CC company. Old Navy Credit card through GE Money Bank. BAD BAD BAD. You are on my naughty list and I will close the account after complaining because I stressed over and over how important it was that the account NOT be put on hold. Now not only do I have the charge for a super expensive holiday flight, we have to pay to wire the money. URGH!

But now to end the world's longest blog post on a positive note...

Phillip goes back to work tomorrow. Wes goes to preschool and I will be taking him. That just thrills me. I get to take my kid to preschool again. Yay! I get to feed my kids breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack and clean up after them. Yes I GET TO and I'm beyond thankful for it. I get to put them down for naps and bedtime and give them their baths and wash their clothes. Ahhh the joys of being a mommy! I love it and I missed it and I'll never take it for granted again!

We'll have the whole week together and then Phillip will fly out of Charlottesville again on Sunday morning. He has a super long flight plan with a lot of long layovers and then he'll get off the plane to get on an overnight train to Kharkov to start the paperwork for Katya's passport, tax ID number, birth certificate, and some other stuff. His estimated return date is Dec. 29th-30th. We'll spend Christmas apart but I will be here with the boys and he'll be with Katya. God willing we'll be all together to ring in the New Year as a family of 5

... after I pick him up from Dulles because once again the layover to fly to Charlottesville is like 6 hours. A stressed out 4 year old who just flew across the Atlantic waiting 6 hours in an airport - Hah.

We are SO blessed! Thanks everyone for your prayers and keep 'em coming!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Heading home

We had court today at 12pm. Well, it was scheduled for 12 but we had to wait for a little while cause they were running behind and the "persecutor" for our case hadn't shown up yet. "Persecutor" is what our translator calls the prosecutor in case you didn't get it yet. (haha)

Anyways we were asked a lot of questions by the judge like "What is your job?", "Does your family support your decision to adopt?", "Why do you want to adopt when you already have 2 kids?", "Describe your house." and stuff like that.

After about an hour of questions and the formality of reading the paperwork, we were told to go out and wait in the waiting room. Our translator took the orphanage inspector and vice director back to their offices and we waited. The judge was trying to find a way to waive the 10 day wait or at least let us start paperwork during the 10 days, but alas, it just wasn't possible. We found out a little later that even if he had done it for us, the orphanage director would not have honored his decision and would not have let us take K or begin paperwork to finalize things. Things are just different in Ukraine and you just have to accept that its not like the U.S.

Because we can't do any paperwork during the waiting period, we decided to fly back home and that Phillip will return on Dec. 20th to finalize paperwork and bring K home. We didn't want to go home and both leave our boys again so soon and its cheaper for one to fly over and back than two. I signed over my POA to him today so tomorrow after visiting K and saying goodbye, then buying some promised chocolate for our kiddos, we will take a 4pm train 8 hours to Kiev and go to the Boryspil airport and wait for oh about 4 hours to fly out of Kiev at 5am Saturday morning to arrive in Frankfurt at 7am and have a 6 hour layover and then a 9 hour flight to Dulles. We have a 6 hour layover in Dulles to catch a flight to Charlottesville but its a 20 minute flight and a 2 hour drive so my dad is gonna pick us up instead of us waiting all that time for a 10pm flight.

The judge didn't finish his decree today because he was busy trying to see if he could waive our 10 day wait so our translator will pick it up tomorrow, but we are officially the parents of Mariah Katarina Johnson :)

She is 4 years old and has cerebral palsy that affects mainly her legs. She has such spirit and determination in her and she reminds us alot of Wes. We are very optimistic about what the wonderful medical advances in the U.S. can do to help her. We came to meet her very anxiously because her file and picture at the SDA were not very compelling and in all of her 4 years listed with the SDA no one every went to visit her, but we talked it over and prayed about and decided that if this was the child that God intended for us that He would equip us to be her parents no.matter.what. So we went to see her.

We are so very glad we did!

Monday, December 6, 2010

We got a phone call...

So those infamous papers that were finally signed on Friday last week (due to everyone praying for us no doubt!) were submitted to the SDA today. It can take up to 5 business days to process these papers but we need them done no later than Wednesday so we can have court on Thursday as scheduled. We sent out prayer requests to our church, posted on facebook and this blog and that whole "Pray without ceasing" thing; I've been doing it.

So this morning we braved snowy sidewalks and super slick ice covered roads to walk to the orphanage and visit "K." We didn't fall down, but we had a few close calls! I don't see how all these women walk around in 4 inch pointy toe boots without missing a beat!

We had a good visit and since the cold wasn't ripping our face off today, we decided to walk around and explore a little bit. We walked to a 2nd Hand Store we had seen the day before but it didn't have much in it. We kept going and found 3 more 2nd Hand Stores further down the street that did have a few items that should fit "K." We've been trying to find her a pair of shoes or boots but new children's shoes are ridiculously expensive and we don't have her foot with us to make sure its the right size.

We also found another little coffee shop (they're everywhere) right next to one of the stores so we went in to get a cup of coffee and warm up. We got 2 Mochachinos and 2 little creampuff things for about $1.75.

We did go into a Children's store to price boots and some of them were 800 grivnas! So we bought 1 pair of tights to go under a little dress we found and decided to keep shopping for shoes until we find some for a little less!

In case anyone is wondering why we are looking for clothes for "K," the orphanage doesn't give us any clothes for her because she doesn't have any that are just hers. They are for all of the kids so we have to provide clothes the day we take her with us.

After walking around shopping for about an hour (mostly walking), we headed back to the apartment to make lunch and talk to the boys on skype. I miss those boys so much but they seem to be very happy with NiNi and PaPa so that makes me feel a little better (but not much). Wes was showing off a truck he built with Legos that a silly NiNi bought him after saying she wouldn't buy legos because they were too messy; and Wyatt was coloring with a purple marker. Eventually they got into a shoving match in front of the computer and Wyatt tried to shove Wesley off but couldn't so Wyatt tried to color Wesley's face with the marker to get even. And all of this is before Wes even went to preschool this morning.

Our apartment is boring. Our TV is in terrible shape so we can't even watch Russian television. Phillip has resorted to playing a John Deer game on the computer that he installed for Wesley and I have been playing too much "Super Mega Worm" on my brother's iPod touch. I read all of my books already... like 2 weeks ago already. So since its supposed to be a balmy 37 degrees tomorrow we are going in search of the worlds 3rd largest city block tomorrow. Its supposed to be close to our apartment.

Ah and the good news that I've saved for last: Our translator called this afternoon and said that our documents will be ready on Wednesday so we can have court on Thursday as scheduled. YAY!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Groundhog Day

I've heard other adoptive families say that staying in Ukraine turns into a scene from the movie Groundhog Day. Well its true. We wake up every day to the same bleary gray skies and make our trek to the orphanage. The sky looks the same all day long. I don't know how people here can stand to be without the sun but its driving me nuts! The sky looks the same at 8am as it does at 3pm and then it gets pitch black. We've had some snow, some extreme cold, and lots of drizzling rain but the sky looks the same all the time.

Oh and one thing I forgot to mention is that this apartment does not have a shower curtain. I'm not sure why not, but I cannot take a shower without making a huge mess!

We had a bit of an episode today. We'd been eyeing some meat at the grocery store that had different kinds of rubs or marinades on it. I was scared to try it considering we've not been so lucky with "mystery shopping." Today though we grabbed a pack of little steaks that had a green marinade on them. We weren't sure what kind of meat they were but it looked pretty good. When we opened them, they smelled good so we fried them in a pan and they tasted a lot like deer... or lamb. So we decided to pull the wrapping out and try to google the words to see what it was that we ate and THAT is when we noticed it. The expiration date of 11/12/2010. OMG we freaked out for a while thinking how sick we were going to get. We'd been so careful with expiration dates, HOW did we miss that?? Ahhhhhh!!!

and then...

a few hours later...

we remembered:

in Ukraine the dates aren't the same as in the U.S. 11/12/2010 means 12/11/2010. We know this but in the moment we forgot.

Ah well I guess we'll live another day. We never did find out what kind of meat it was though...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cloudy & Rainy with Meatballs

Food we bought at Billa
Our apartment stairwellYummy little cake @ the Coffee Shop

The weather here has been crazy. Wednesday and Thursday the high temps were 15 and 18. Friday it warmed up enough to snow a little bit and today it snowed this morning but warmed up and was pouring rain by 9am. The ground is still frozen though and the mud skim on top of it is like a sheet of ice. I almost wiped out jumping off the curb and into the crosswalk this morning.

We walk about a mile to the orphanage twice a day so the freezing cold was not fun! We aren't minding the warm up much at all but could do without the rain. The snow was pretty this morning before it melted.

We found fresh meatballs at the store yesterday and fried those for lunch today. We ate them with variniky and fried mushrooms and onions along with a pasta sauce we found that is actually very tasty. We finally lucked out with the "mystery shopping" and actually got not only pasta sauce, but a good tasting one! We've learned that just because it LOOKS like something back home, it probably is not and definitely won't taste like it... well with the exception of Ramen Noodles.

We bought some Stollen and have been eating that for breakfast or snacks. It was very expensive (50 grivnah -- about $6) so we expected it to be something super special but its pretty much raisin bread with a powdered sugar coating.

The best pastry we've had so far was a cream filled roll this morning at a little coffee shop that is on our way to the orphanage. We got 2 cups of coffee, 2 rolls, and a little chocolate cake for about $3. We saw more pastries we want to try and its a nice little spot for us to warm up going and coming. The lady who runs the place doesn't speak a lick of English though so we have to do a lot of pointing. Actually, no one here speaks much English. In Kiev it seemed that most stores had English on the menu and at least one person who spoke some English but here not so much!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Mvi Brat!

We had two good visits with "Katoosha" today. Katoosha is a "tender diminuative" of her Ukrainian name and its what her caregivers call her most of the time. It took us forever to figure out what they were saying and why. We finally came back one day and googled the word on google translate for about a half hour before we figured it out.

K ate an entire bag of cherry preserve filled rolls yesterday. She ate over half in the morning and the rest of them in the afternoon. I think she liked them alot so we took chocolate filled rolls today and they're gone too! She wasn't crazy about the chicken broth I made her one day. She said "Ni soup" and gave it back...

They have chocolate eggs wrapped in foil with little toys inside of them here. They are called KinderSurprise Eggs and she loves them. One of her eggs had a pink dog with a cup of coffee and a cell phone. The other had a turtle. Evidentially there are series of toy collections that you can collect from these eggs. We are planning on bringing about 15 home with us for Wes, Wy, and "K."

She likes to look at pictures of Wes and Wy on Phillip's blackberry and we even have a few short videos of them doing stuff at home. She really likes to watch those too. We've been telling her that Wesley and Wyatt are her brothers. One of her caregivers went through the photo albums we brought, with K, and told her about each picture and that Wesley and Wyatt are her brothers and that we are her Mama and Papa and she is going home with us. We weren't sure she "got it" even though she repeated everything.

Today when she saw Wesley and Wyatt's picture on Phillip's blackberry she said "Mvi Brat!" (My brothers!) It was a really sweet moment.

She also love love loves to listen to "musica" on the blackberry. Its kind of ironic to hear Carrie Underwood singing, "Don't listen to them when they say you're just a fool to believe you can change the world" when you're in an orphanage in Ukraine looking at a 4 year old who's world is about to change. Hearing Casting Crowns singing "Oh that I would have the kind of faith it takes to climb out of this boat and then, into the crashing waves." really takes on a new meaning when you feel like you are IN the crashing waves!

But I've found that if you don't step out of that boat, you won't ever know what its like to walk on water.

So here are 2 pictures of "K" and her daddy or "Papa" as she calls him.

The papers were signed!

So after a discouraging day yesterday for both us, our translator, and the orphanage director of unsuccessfully trying to get our paperwork signed and the situation looking rather bleak, this morning we found out that it had been signed! WHoohoo!! We also have a court date for Thursday next week. The judge is according to our translator "A very good guy."

We are still doing a lot of paperwork. Some new requirements popped up and we have to prove that our little girl is a citizen of Ukraine. Yep you read that right. Our translator is doing that today.

We are trying to have the 10 day waiting period after court waived. Our little girl has a medical condition that may make this possible. The judge said that if it is legally possible, he will try to do it. So they are looking into that for us.

So prayer requests in order:

1) that the SDA will process our paperwork that has finally been signed SUPER SUPER quick. Normally this process takes 5 working days, but we only have 2 before we have to have them for court. So pray pray pray!

2) That the judge will be able to waive our waiting period after court. If he can't then we're going to try to take care of all paperwork necessary here in this region during the waiting period so we can go to Kiev on the 11th day. Some regions allow it, some don't. Our translator is checking into this as well for us.

Our translator works very hard for us and she has been away from her family for a long time too as they don't all live in Kiev. We miss our kids and she misses hers so it will be good for everyone for this process to move quicker than it has been.

We're off to find some pizza and get "K" some more KinderSurprise Eggs. We're ready to celebrate even the small victories!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Worth Reposting

I have seen this post a couple of times on other people's blogs before we left for Ukraine but tonight when I saw it again, somehow it meant more than before. The man who wrote this died in a car accident about 6 months later.

You can read their blog here: www.louxfamilyblog.com

Redemption by Derek Loux - Friday, December 12, 2008

"Renee’ and I are sitting in the office of a telephone company in Novograd Valenski, Ukraine, using wireless internet. We are in the middle of adopting three special needs boys from an orphanage here. Two of the boys have Down Syndrome. Roman is high functioning, energetic and happy. Dimitri has serious mental retardation, failure to thrive, and though he is five years old, he is the size of a 1 year old. He has sores on his face, a distinct smell of death on him, and yells out if we try to do anything with him other than hold him. Because he has less ability to respond and learn, he naturally gets less attention and care from the orphanage workers in this world of limited resources. The harsh reality of the “survival of the fittest” principle is a life and death struggle that this little boy is losing fast. Our third boy Sasha, is a brilliant six year old who has Spina Bifida (the condition our son Josiah died from in 1996). He is like a learning sponge that can’t get enough! He is happy and alert and thirsty for knowledge and experience. So with two of our boys, we get an immediate return on any investment we make. With Dimitri, there’s not much immediate gratification. In fact, it’s unknown when and if there will be a return at all. This is the kind of situation that makes the carnal, fallen, human reasoning think, “Why try? What’s the point? What will this produce? What good will this do? Why not select a boy who has more potential? This looks like a lost cause.Two days ago we drove for hours into the Ukrainian countryside to the village where Dimitri was born. We met with officials there and signed papers and answered their questions. We also went and saw Dimitri’s house. The day had been long, we were still recovering from jet lag, I was beginning to really miss my six daughters at home and all the familiar things our fragile human hearts entangle themselves with in feeble attempts to feel secure. Sitting in the dark on our very long drive back to Novograd that night, the Holy Spirit began to whisper to my heart, and new understanding about redemption began to take shape.I was thinking, “Man, adopting this little boy has been so much work. This is exhausting, expensive, uncomfortable … and it doesn’t feel very rewarding right now.” What am I doing in some little Soviet car in the dark, in the middle of rural Ukraine in frozen December, as the driver dodges cats and potholes? What if Dimitri doesn’t improve at all? What if we get “nothing” out of this? … Ahhh, there it was; that dark, fallen, unreedemed, selfish human love, rooted in the tree of the knowledge of “good and evil”. The love the Greeks called “erao” love. The love where we treat someone as precious and treasured for what we can get out of it. This is unlike “agapeo” love, the God kind of love that treats someone as treasured and precious for their good, not for my good. It’s when I love a person in order to meet their needs, having no expectation of them meeting any of my needs. At a whole new level, God is working His kind of love into my weak heart, and He’s using little Dimitri to do it.On the drive home that night, the Lord whispered in my ear, “This is Redemption. Derek, do you know how far I traveled to get you and bring you back? I had to be separated from my Son, in order to get you, just like you are separated from your children in order to get these boys. Do you know how expensive it was for Me to purchase you? It cost me everything. Do you know how broken, sick, damaged, twisted, dirty, smelly, and hopeless you were? And at the end of it all, you had nothing to give me or add to me. I did it for you. I emptied myself and became nothing so that you could have it all. This is redemption.My friends, adoption is redemption. It’s costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous. Buying back lives costs so much. When God set out to redeem us, it killed Him. And when He redeems us, we can’t even really appreciate or comprehend it, just like Dimitri will never comprehend or fully appreciate what is about to happen to him … but … he will live in the fruit of it. As his Daddy, I will never expect him to understand all of this or even to thank me. I just want to watch him live in the benefits of my love and experience the joys of being an heir in my family. This is how our heavenly “Papa” feels towards us.Today, settle your busy heart down and rest in the benefits of redemption. Enjoy the fruits of His goodness, and stop trying to “pay Him back”. You’ll never get close you goofy little kid."

Please keep praying for our paperwork

Our translator called today and said she isn't sure if the papers will be signed today afterall. We were told Monday that they'd would DEFINITELY be signed by today. Well they haven't been yet and its 1pm here. We don't know what is REALLY holding them up. We've heard reasons and excuses but we just don't know the real reason.

We moved to an apartment within walking distance of the orphanage and a supermarket this afternoon. We found some online and were going to see those today but all of a sudden our translator and landlady had one available right where we needed it. Ta-da. Now we don't have to pay a driver twice a day.

Please keep us in your prayers for these papers to be signed! Its frustrating and we're trying to stay positive but its really really frustrating. God can handle this. He didn't call us here to just leave us when it got hard. Pray pray pray. We have until 6pm today for these papers to be signed. We're 7 hours ahead of EST. That means there are 5 hours left to pray for this to happen today so lets get to it!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

More snow - No Papers yet

Yesterday it started snowing before our 2nd visit with "K." By the time we got to our car, it was snowing, sleeting, freezing rain, and probably some cats and dogs too. Our driver looked at us and said "Winter." Haha Yes it is.

We found out the Russian word for snow. Its schnick. When they try to say "snow" but it comes out "schnow." Our driver was trying to tell us about the "schnow" and we thought he was trying to "show" us something.

I must have eaten something that didn't make my stomach happy when we were back in Kiev because I've eaten my daily limit of Immodium for over a week now and its STILL not happy with me. Phillip and I have both lost a noticable amount of weight. All the running around we did the first week, we just didn't have time to eat much and then having to come back to Kiev and having to do it all over again and come out here where we are now was another couple of days with not much to eat. Its also hard to find "pre-packaged" food. One apartment didn't even have a microwave so it didn't matter anyways. I like to cook and I don't like processed food so we're making out pretty well but it takes time to prepare food and we're running around a lot here. We did find the UA version of Oodles of Noodles. Yay.

I have a pair of jeans that keep falling down everywhere I go. They were "skinny" jeans. Now I have lots of extra room in them. They were my favorite jeans, but I'm not sure if I want to fill them back out again. Maybe a dryer will take of this problem! I did bring a pair of pants that were really tight just in case this happened and they fit nicely.

We took "K" some of the clothes we brought with us today. They workers put her hairbows in her hair and bring her toys back that we gave her so we thought that we'd just give her a pair of clothes to wear. Everything she has worn has either been too small or way way too big. The 2T shirt I brought her fit really well but I think 3T would be fine too because she is fairly tall. They didn't put her skirt and leggings that we gave her this morning but maybe she'll have them on this evening. I want to know what size to buy her because half the things I brought were too small so I gave them to the grouppa.

Its snowing here so I'm making chicken soup and watching the snow fall. Its supposed to be a high of 15 tomorrow. We asked our driver if it was supposed to "balshya schnick" (big snow) but all we got was "da schnow." Hmmm....

Please keep praying that our papers will get signed. We are waiting on a phone call from our translator to let us know when they've been signed so we can go pick them up and put them on a train to Kiev so that she can get them (in 8 hours) and submit them to the SDA. Please please keep praying! We need those papers before we can get a court date!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Swimming in a bathtub

We had heard that "K" swims as part of her therapy and we were told how much she likes it. We had been waiting to see her swim and no one mentioned it again so we asked this morning, which is a feat in itself that required google translate on a blackberry, a pen and a notebook.

So we came back earlier than usual this afternoon to see her swim. We followed her caretaker all over the coridors of the orphanage and into a room that had her pool. It was a huge bathtub full of warm water. The water was green and we aren't sure if that's the color it comes out at the orphanage or if they put something in it. Our water at the apartment is clear even though we can't drink it.

"K" did a bunch of exercises and stretches in the water and then had a massage afterwards and did more exercises. It seems to either wear her out or really relax her because she seems very tired afterwards. We had wondered why she was so tired during our afternoon visits and now we know why. We were showing up right after her "swims." We are going to try to visit longer in the morning and not come in the afternoon as often.

We found out this afternoon that our paperwork was held up another day. Its a long story but the just of it is that we are waiting on a stamp to arrive so the person who is supposed to sign the papers can sign and them stamp them with this seal. I was really upset. We thought it had been done today, but we are told it should happen tomorrow.

While we were playing with "K" today, a nannie came and got us and we were taken to the director's office this afternoon. They had all the people there from our first meeting plus the nannie (that is our favorite) there asking "K" and the nannie questions. We had no translator so we sat there knowing they were talking about us and knowing it was important but not being able to understand anything. After about 10 minutes the nannie motioned for us to get up and we walked out. She stood in the hall and pointed at Phillip and I and said, "Mama Papa hedoshay(I think it means ok)" and then pointed to "K" and said, "doycht" (daughter). We assume this means that they agreed its ok for us to be "K's" mama and papa. This is why we thought the conclusion was signed today... so we aren't sure what the meeting was about now! lol

We bought "K" a toy telephone this morning. She loves cars and trucks (mashinas) so we got her a "Cars" phone. She loves it. She talks on it and says "Kak delah? nohme" Not quite sure what all of that means... We also found her a knockoff version of the Little Kelly Dolls for only 5 grivnah. "K" is always wearing the same red shoes so we got a doll with red shoes just like hers. Another hit.

We hope to have the papers signed AND stamped with that elusive stamp by tomorrow! Please please keep us in your prayers. We really want to get this show on the road so we can go home!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

If Home is Where My Heart is then I'm Out of Place

You know you're homesick when the sight of McDonald's golden arches makes you teary eyed. I don't even like cheeseburgers but I so desperately wanted a taste of home that we asked our driver to stop at McDonalds so we could get a burger and fries there. They put ice in our coke which was nice since it was the first ice in our drinks since we left Dulles, but we were both wondering the whole time if it will make us sick. We wanted the ice bad enough to risk it. I've already taken Immodium for a week anyways!

We talked to the boys twice on skype today. They fed us maccaroni and cheese and we fed them a kindersurprise chocolate egg and cream puff rolls. Then we took turns giving kisses. Wes showed us the Christmas ornaments that NiNi bought him and Wyatt. Trains. He was very excited and obviously didn't want to leave them on the tree. We miss those boys so much but we are so greatful that we get to see them and hear them twice a day even if just through the computer.

I found a roll of paper towels in the kitchen today and Phillip and I both got ridiculously excited. I guess they do sell them here because there they are in the kitchen, but I haven't seen them in a store yet. I found a secret compartment hidden in the bathroom tile that had among other things, a bottle of something that looks like windex. Can it be true? An apartment with paper towels and windex??!

It snowed this morning and yesterday morning as well. Not much, just a little but its supposed to do more this coming week and a high of 21 degrees for Wednesday. Maybe we'll use that long underwear we brought yet!

We visited "Katoosh" as they call her at the orphanage, twice again today. We have to stay in a long hallway with several sofas when we visit her since we aren't allowed to play with her groupa. Many times other people are visiting children in the same hallway and they bring toys and chatter away in Russian. Katoosh wants to go see what they're doing and gets really frustrated if we don't let her. I wish we could go outside, but its cold. Its challanging trying to play with a child for several hours in a long hallway when she doesn't understand what you are saying and we don't know what she is saying either. We bought some toys but I think the new has worn off of those. I will admit I get bored playing with the same markers, crayons, notebook, and beads after an hour as well. We took her upstairs tonight to a different sofa (change of scenery) but it was so dimly lit that I kept losing toys on the carpet. She seemed really tired and frustrated tonight and I think she has a cold as well so even though we are supposed to stay longer than an hour and a half, we took her back to her groupa. She seemed ready to go. I think they may have been doing something she wanted to do? We are going to try to find something more interactive and interesting tomorrow at the children's store across the street.

Being in a foreign country is interesting and exciting. Living in a foreign country is challanging and a little frustrating. Visiting an orphanage twice a day, every day is emotionally exhausting. Nothing could have prepared me for it. It has made me question myself and God, but today I realized that most of all, we just can't wait to take Katoosh home.

We're waiting for the orphanage director to sign papers that have to be submitted to the SDA and then processed over 5 working days before we can petition to have court. Please pray that she will sign the papers tomorrow so we can get going with the next step towards home.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

2 weeks today

Its been two weeks today since we left the U.S.

Two weeks since I kissed my boys goodbye. I never knew I had the strength to do that and if I knew how much I would be missing them now and what it feels like to leave your heart in another place, I don't know that I could have done it.

Two weeks since we ate our last American meal in Dulles airport at Fudruckers. We ordered in English from an English menu and got exactly what we ordered. I'll never take that for granted again!

Two weeks since we washed and dried our clothes in a washer and dryer!

In two weeks my perspective has changed a lot. I looked outside the orphanage today at the playground.

All I could think about was the new playground our church is purchasing.

We are blessed. We should never ever forget that and we should take every opportunity to share what we've been blessed with because isn't that why God has blessed us in the first place?

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Calzone

So we'll start with the title of this post. If in a far east city in Ukraine, and you stop at a place called Pizza Bella and you see a Calzone on the menu, DO.NOT.ORDER.IT. At least not if it has salami in it. Phillip and I got pizza to go last night for dinner since we have had a hard time finding a grocery store nearby to buy food to cook here at the apartment. Anyways, it looked good. Smelled good. And I was ready to claim my half. So I took a bite and O.M.G. WHAT is in that thing? So I spit out what was in my mouth and found this piece of meat that had a very offending flavor. So I did what any good wife would do. I nibbled my half even and stuck it back in the box and told Phillip he could have the whole thing. I'll eat MY pizza.

Haha. The look on his face was priceless. Well, you ordered it, Babe.

The salami here is NOT American salami. No the smell and flavor that comes to mind is....raw deer. Mmmmm....

Thank goodness we had my "Fungi Pizza." Yep, that's what they call pizza with mushrooms, but it was good and we operated on the cold calzone this morning to remove the salami and eat just the bread because we did pay 35 grivna for it.

We are required to visit our girl at the orphanage at least 3 hours a day. We can go from 9-12am and 4-7pm. So we go twice a day for around 2 hours each time. We are not allowed to see the other kids in her grouppa. They said its because even very little children have an accute awareness that we are a mama and papa and they recognize this and become upset. We've seen some little ones walking down the hall with a nannie or two, but for the most part its just us and our girl. We have a very, very, very long hallway full of chest high windows and its lined with lots of large potted plants. The worlds longest runner carpet runs down it and that's where we walk up and down with our girl because she likes to just walk back and forth.

We found a toy store today and bought a few new toys to play with because the ones we brought were getting old. She likes to color with markers and crayons and she really likes to take things out and put them away, then take them out and put them away... wash. rinse. repeat. You get the idea!

We bought a slinky but the stairs here are too wide for it to work so we demonstrated it on the couch and our hands which resulted in excited sqeals and a demolished slinkly. RIP slinky. Your 10 minutes of fame made a child happy.

We also found a container of super huge beads that can be threaded on a shoelace. Huge hit. Not so much the threading part, but the fact that it can be dumped and filled, dumped and filled, dumped and...

"Squish" is still the favorite. She holds the bag of playdoh while we walk the hall. She also likes Papa to hold the squish while she pulls it apart and you guessed it; stuffs in back in the bag.

I also found a cute little headband with a pretty flower on it. I know that we might not get it back, but I gave it to her today anyways. She loves to have her hair decorated with bows and clips. We have to stop to fix it if any of them get frazzled. The day we met her, I know she had at least 30 flower clips in her hair. Today we were down to 4 plus the headband.

Its supposed to snow tomorrow so I'm wondering about our drive to the orphanage in the snow. I swear I will never complain about Charlottesville drivers again. They are tame sweet little lambs compared to driving in Ukraine.

Our regular driver had a very very well used car and we noticed that it had a miss a few days ago and it had progressed to a dead miss yesterday (one cylinder not firing at all) and we tried to explain that Phillip was a mechanic and could look at it for him. We were concerned we'd break down somewhere ya know? He spoke no English though and I finally told him that Phillip was a "mashina vrach" (car doctor) but he didn't seem to understand that he wanted to look at the car. So today we were standing outside waiting for Sergei and were approached by a younger man who asked if we were waiting for our driver? Umm.... dude WHO are you? We kinda said umm yeah we are and he said oh ok its me. Get in the white car. My mind went wild with assumptions of what COULD be going on, but no he was a nice guy and drove us to the orphange. Well, he drove us near it then we had to remember where it actually was and tell him how to get there. Then we had to tell him how to get back to the apartment because you have to go a different way. "Turn on the street with the BIG egg" Yeytsol Balshya! Yes, there is this HUGE concrete egg on the street corner... I will get a picture but what I really want to see is the chicken that laid it.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving From Ukraine

The worst part about having good news is when you can't share it. We rode an overnight train to the region where we're staying and arrived about 6am yesterday morning. The train was hot. One of the people in our compartment kept coughing and coughing until he finally either got off the train or went somewhere else. He startled us when he did so because he got up and threw the door open which made the light come on and some little alarm go off which startled the two Americans in the top bunks who got blinded and startled awake on a train in Ukraine.

When we got off the train we were met by a driver and he took us to McDonalds where our translator tried to order me an egg biscuit. I got an egg McMuffin. Oh well, the coffee was very good and I was just happy to have a bathroom after refusing to use the one on the train all night!

After that we went to meet the orphanage director at her office which we thought opened at 8am but found out after waiting 20 minutes until 8am and she didn't arrive that they don't open till 9am. So we waited. We do a lot of that here.

After our translator had a very very long conversation with the director in her office, we drove to the orphanage and met several other people in charge there. They were very thorough and we were left with the impression that they very genuinly care about the children there.

After we had talked for a while, they brought in the little girl we were there to meet. She walked in wearing a super frilly pink dress covered in flowers and had about 30 flower clips in her hair. She said "izdrahswitzya!" (Hello and yes I know I butchered the spelling) She told us (in Russian) that her dress was very pretty and did we like it? We gave her a toy car to play with ( I know I know, but I have boys) which she loved and started making car noises while driving it. Wesley will be pleased.

They took her to the gym where she does her exercises and showed us how she does all of that. She talked the whole time. "Its raining outside so my groupa didn't go out today" "When we're done, I'm putting my shoes on myself." Then it was time for us to go and she said that she was glad we came to visit her, please don't leave yet, she wants to go for a walk outside. It was raining... she knew that lol

We visited her again last night and this morning. She points to Phillip and says "Papa!" She was scared of his beard yesterday but today she decided to pet it and says something that sounds like "poke" then jerks her hand away and laughs.

She likes to color and she is fascinated by the playdoh we brought. She calls it "Squish" because that's what I told her to do with it and it stuck as what she named it.

We found out today that she LOVES huge stuffed dogs. One of her nannies brought this huge stuffed dog (suh-bah-ka) to her and said that she loves dogs and horses. Keep in mind the nannie speaks NO english. We got this from what Russian I can speak and hand motions.
She also likes to play with cars. They have several ride on cars and she liked Phillip to push her around in them while I chased with "suhbahka."

She tells us "Paka" (bye) and "dezveydynya" when we leave. We are supposed to visit no less than 3 hours a day. Trying to tell the nannies today what time we'd be back was interesting. They speak no English and we don't know how to say time in Russian so we were trying to show each other what we meant with our hands and getting nowhere and Phillip said (to me) well what is it in Ukraine? 17:00 hours? Then one of the nannies said "Oh 5 o clock?" YES!

Paka Paka

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More later...

It is another rainy day in Kiev. It is supposed to really whip up tonight with lots of wind and rain. There is a protest going on in Indepence Square which is right next to our apartment. They are protesting higher taxes. There are lots of people speaking over loudspeakers and lots of extrememly loud music (all in Russian). We THINK we heard the Russian version of Shania Twain's "Man I Feel Like a Woman." Not sure though. They were out there until late last night then again early this morning. Our apartment is literally vibrating with all the noise lol

The good news is that we're headed out of Kiev tonight :) More later...

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Making dinner

This makes me so thankful for my washer and dryer at home.

The delicious chicken stew we made.
The chicken before we cooked it.

That's Chef Phillip's hand next to the chicken pot.

Making the best of it.

We had hoped that our facilitator might be able to work some magic and get us a 2nd appointment on Friday, but that didn't happen. We are waiting till Monday at 9am to go to the SDA and sign up for the next available appointment. We're hoping we'll be able to get an appointment for later on Monday.

All of this waiting is really hard. We miss our boys so much! I don't know how I will last the rest of the time because I miss them more each day and I didn't think that was possible. They seem very happy when we talk to them on skype though. Wyatt kisses the screen and squeals "Mama and Dada!" and Wes runs off and says "Oh I'm too busy to talk."

We know that all things work together for good and in the grand scheme of things it is only one week that we've been set back. Our timing is not the same as God's timing and we know that He is working things out for the greater good for our family.

So while we've had a few days of just waiting for paperwork to be re-approved we have walked around a bit and gotten aquainted with Kiev. Its been rainy off and on so we're afraid to go too far for fear of suddenly getting wet. I left my hat in Dr. Yuri's car on Wednesday and he hasn't returned it yet so I bought one in Independence Square for 50 Grivna (about $6). I think overall I blend in pretty well here because people keep trying to start conversations with me in Russian. I wish I understood it better!

We found a nicer grocery store today called Vila (I think). I nearly bought a bag of salt instead of a bag of sugar, but thankfully I asked someone who told me what it was. We also found TGI Fridays but we didn't eat there. We're trying to buy food and cook it at the apartment to conserve money.

On the way back from the store we saw a bunch of people dressed up as animals and cartoon characters in the street. I stopped to snap a picture of the ones in the street and Bart Simpson and a Lion ran over to where we were and told us to take a picture WITH them. Bart thought it would be a good idea to flick us off in the pictures - we said No. After taking a few pictures they told us that was their job and then asked for $20 USD each! Hah! I told them "No, we don't have USD, we have Grivna and you can have 5 grivna each." No, they wanted $20USD. They kept asking for dollars and we kept saying no, you didn't tell us it cost money, so they finally told us to delete the pictures on the camera. I know what I'd do in the U.S. but here I wasn't so sure what to do. :-O Maybe its common knowledge here that it cost money to take pictures with people in costumes? No one else was doing it so I'd say probably so...

Note to self: never take pictures with strange animals in the streets of Kiev.

We walked back to our apartment and cooked a whole chicken in a pot with vegetables for dinner. We bought frozen fish fillets and are going to attempt that tomorrow. The oven is gas as well so I'm not too sure how this will go...

Friday, November 19, 2010


We've updated our paperwork and requested a 2nd SDA appointment. We are waiting to hear when that will be. We requested it as soon as possible.

Riding in a car in Ukraine is quite an experience. I just have to shut my eyes. Our facilitator is a great driver but the other people we've ridden with were crazy! Everyone drives like they are playing chicken at 120-130 kilometers an hour. Passing multiple vehicles at a time is the norm.

We had something really interesting for lunch yesterday. We hadn't had much to eat at all on Tuesday since we were in a car for 14 hours and we had not bought much food to keep in the apartment since we knew we were leaving and thought we wouldn't be back here for a while.

We went to an underground mall to find somewhere to eat and went to a place that I think said "Mister Chef" in Russian. We got a baked potato and sandwich meal and the idea of it was to choose from multiple toppings and put two on your potato. They all looked extrememly unfamiliar so we went with what the guy in front of us got. It turned out to be grated pickled beets then a layer of some sort of creamy sauce and the fun part was the fish chunks (which seemed raw) mixed in with it. Sort of like a hidden surprise. Wow. We each ate a few bites just to say we did then ate the sandwich which was good.

I made oatmeal this morning. This apartment doesn't have a microwave or a washing machine so its a little more challanging. The stove is gas and I have to light it with a match. Very interesting. I'm scared I'm gonna blow something up!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


We have had a rough 2 days. We were unable to adopt the child who's referal we accepted so we are now back in Kiev and have requested a 2nd SDA appointment. I can't go into details on the blog, but this has been very difficult for us.

We know God has a plan for us and that we are supposed to be here. We don't understand all of the whys and may never understand everything, but we will go back to the SDA believing our child's file is there waiting for us!

Please be in prayer for us. We are trying hard not to be discouraged or to question God in all of this. Its easy to trust God when life is easy, but you find out how deep your faith runs when things you had planned seem to all fall apart.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Should be sleeping but...

Whew jetlag is annoying. We are leaving at 3am to drive to the region where the child we were refered is. I should be sleeping, but I can't! The air quality here is a bit on the poor side and I think its from the small fires we saw burning in the fields all around Kiev when we flew in. I'm not sure what they are from but its rather smokey sometimes and my allergies are in overdrive. Our appartment also smells quite strongly of cigarette smoke. It seems everyone here smokes.

We went to a pharmacy today and I bought a few things. Its really interesting how you have to buy things here. I showed the clerk what I wanted and she wrote it on a piece of paper and I had to pay for the things at a different counter then walk back to get my stuff. Not sure if that is how its done, or its how its done if you don't speak Russian.

The food here is excellent. We have eaten borcht, varakavina, "pancakes" with wild mushrooms inside (like a stuffed crepe), Greek Salad (1 piece of lettuce w/ cucumbers, red peppers, tomatoes, black olives and feta cheese), and of course we had to try a Ukrainian McDonalds. Let me just say that their version of ketchup rocks. I also bought a cup of coffee from a vending machine. I could read the writing well enough to pick what I wanted.

Another interesting thing is that the milk at the grocery store comes in a bag. I thought our facilitator was playing a joke on me when I asked for the milk and he picked up a bag!

I laughed when I saw the toilet paper in our appartment. Its pink and has flowers on it. We were warned Ukie tp was rough, but whatever brand this is, isn't bad haha!

We have a small washer, but no dryer. We washed clothes and strung up a clothesline in the kitched to let our clothes dry. I think this is par for the course and I am really happy we had a washer!

One thing I have learned about Kiev. Sidewalks are not just for walking. Oh no no no. They are also parking spots, additional lanes for traffic and a place to pull over when the politzaski wants to have a word w/ you about your driving methods.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Our God Reigns Here

We have good news! First though, let me walk through our trip so far.

Our wonderful friend from church dropped us off at Charlottesville Airport on Saturday morning around 12 (well ok lunch time). We went through security, popped a hole in my travel pillow, bought a sewing kit at the airport shop so I could sew it up, then waited for our flight.

We flew for 20 minutes in a prop plane to Dulles Int. where we walked down and found our gate immediately then had dinner at a restaurant in the airport.

Our flight left 15 minutes late and we had seats right in the middle of the plane so no windows! All of the flight attendants were German and I must look German because they kept asking me what I wanted to eat or drink in German lol

The dinner they served us was very good as was the breakfast only three hours later.

I wish I had known (or maybe I don't) how excruciating the pressure change would be for my ears. Seriously, it was horrible! Phillip didn't have much pain but I did. If anyone knows how to prevent this, LET ME KNOW! I couldn't hear for a good 30 minutes.

After being on the plane for over 8 hours with NO SLEEP, we were SO SO ready to get off and walk around. We had nearly NO leg room.

In Frankfurt we had to go through security and my backpack got flagged and sent back through the scanned twice, and I had to walk to the counter with all of the other "suspicious people." They were really being super thorough with the people in front of me if you get my drift. They made the guy in front of me unpack all of his stuff and then took him to a separate room. Yipes!

I really didn't want to have to go unpack all of my stuff and empty it out so I kept praying, "God please just let them tell me its ok!"

The guy looked at me and pulled out my half empty water bottle from Dulles Airport and said "DRINK or TRASH!" I said "Trash." He handed me my backpack.

We had a short layover in Frankfurt. I tried to nap, but after 10 minutes they started bording our plane to Kiev. We had more leg room on this flight and flew a bit lower to the ground (instead of 38000 feet and 600mph). It was cool to see Germany and Ukraine from the air. Phillip slept the whole flight. I woke up with my mouth hanging open and head pressed against the window to everyone else on the plane eating breakfast. Attractive.

After almost 3 hours, we landed in Kiev. More excruciating ear pain for me.

At Borispol everyone jumped up and raced off the plane. Literally. So we walked to customs, met our VIP guy holding the sign with our name on it and walked past everyone standing in line. He took our passports, had them stamped and that was that. We walked out to the main part of the airport and saw a guy with a sign that said "Johnson and Johnson" on it so we told Alex aka huge bodyguard size dude we were good to go.

We walked over to the guy with our names on the sign and told him hi and he said "Follow me." We walked out the airport and he got on his cell then handed it to me and said "tell them your names." A lady asked me what my name and my "partner's" name was and I told her Phillip and Erin Johnson. She said no no no, we are supposed to pick up someone from company "Johnson and Johnson." Oh geez. No wonder he didn't seem friendly. Next time we'll get a picture of our facilitator BEFORE the airport pickup. He had our pictures, we never asked for his.

We went back in, sat down and waited for our guy to find us this time. After 20 minutes or so, he did and knew our names lol Whew! Let me tell you that Borispol is not like Dulles or Frankfurt so we were happy he found us.

We drove to our appartment (well facilitator drove) and unloaded our stuff then went to exchange money, buy cell minutes, and got some food for breakfast/snacks etc. Its amazing I could function after 30 hours with no sleep.

We ate dinner, went to our apartment and passed out for an hour then we got up and skyped our boys then went back to bed.

Our SDA appointment was at 12 so we met our translator and facilitator at 11:40am and walked to SDA. We had spent the morning sharing my iPod and earphones listening to my "Adoption Playlist" and praying. We asked God to just make it very clear who was meant to be ours. We felt really calm!

The inside of the SDA is not what I expected. It was a nice office space type of room and the woman we met with was very nice. I don't want to say too much yet, but we accepted a referal for a 4 year old and are headed to meet this child tomorrow or Wednesday!

We also met a couple who adopted a 3 year old girl and are heading home on Friday. We're meeting them for dinner in a few hours just to hang out. Its so different not knowing what everyone around you is saying! We can't even order in a restaurant without help.

Today is the Day

Our SDA appointment is in a few hours. I can feel everyone's prayers here because we were able to get a good night's sleep (well compared to the plane lol) and I feel surprisingly calm.

Our appartment is SUPER SUPER nice. Its more like a tiny house instead of an appartment. We are walking distance to Independence Square and we can hear the bells chime every hour from St. Sophia. Kiev is a very nice city. A lot like the downtown mall in Charlottesville but on a larger scale. The drivers are kind of crazy though, but even crazier is the people who jump out in front of them! Again, a lot like Charlottesville!

We ate dinner last night at a Ukrainian Restaurant with our facilitator. It was very good and they had English on the menu. I had Borcht and Phillip had Varakivini(not sure how to spell it - but its filled dumplings). Both were delicious.

Keep praying for us. We have 4 hours till our appointment. Pray that God will reveal to us VERY clearly which child or children are ours!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hello from Kiev!

We're here! Exhausted but ready for a good nights sleep and our appointment tomorrow. My ears are still sore from all the pressure changes on the plane, I already forgot NOT to brush my teeth with the water (oops) and the funniest (or scariest) thing that happened to Phillip and I was that we followed the WRONG guy out of the Kiev airport. He was holding a sign that said "Johnson and Johnson." Yep he figured it out outside and made me talk to an angry woman on the phone who told us that he was supposed to pick up people from the COMPANY OF Johnson and Johnson. NOT Phillip and Erin Johnson. Whoops.

Good news is that we went back in and found our guy (or let him find us) and all is well :)

Please pray for our appointment tomorrow. Its at 12:00pm local time so 6am Monday in the U.S.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

I heard a voice saying, "Who will go?" and I said, "Here am I Lord, send me."

We are finally leaving! After all of the paperwork, the meetings, the classes, more paperwork, doctors visits, more paperwork, apostilles, FedExing, more paperwork, then waiting for our date; now we finally get to go! WhooHoo!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I should have something to say

but my brain is kind of blank. I am so busy with trying to make sure that I don't forget something for us, and take care of everything for our boys before we go that I have nothing left in my poor brain to write about.

I will say that due to some unexpected possible obstacles and some unexpected possible surprises, we are probably gonna have one heck of a story to tell when we get back!

God surely works in mysterious ways :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Orphan Sunday

Today is known as Orphan Sunday and I think that it was very fitting that today was our last Sunday at church before we fly out to Kiev. Today our church prayed over us during service and I really cannot describe what a comfort it is to know that we have the support of a praying church family while we go halfway around the world to seek God's will for our family.

My mind has been kind of in a whirlwind lately, but I wanted to post a few specific things that we would like to ask prayer for as we prepare to go.

1) Please pray for our boys that we will be leaving behind. Pray that they will not be upset or confused about where we are and how long we are gone. We have explained things to them many times, and we think they have a good understanding of what is going on, but leaving them is what we have always known would be the hardest part of this journey. ( So pray for mommy and daddy too!)

2) Please pray for the officials we will be meeting with on the 15th. Pray that they will see our sincerity and love that God has placed in our hearts for a child we have yet to meet and that they would look favorably on our case and that they will have a clear understanding of the children we are hoping to adopt and why.

3) Pray that we will be shown the child/ren that we are to adopt in our first appointment ( so we don't have to have a 2nd) and that God will speak clearly to us and show us where He is leading and where we are supposed to go.

4) Pray that we will have wisdom and discretion for all of the new and unfamiliar experiences we will encounter.

5) Pray for our safety and smooth travel once we leave home and after we arrive in Ukraine.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Tree is Decorated!

We set the Christmas tree up last night. The kids were thrilled. They decorated it themselves and then I had to behind them and decorate the top half. Wyatt got into hanging an ornament, then hanging another one on that ornament, then another... all on the same branch.

Late last night we packed our stuff just to make sure it all fit and met the weight limit. The limit is 44lbs. We were at 42lbs. Phillip is fussing about the amount of clothes I'm trying to bring, but it IS a months worth I'm trying to fit! Space bags are awesome though!

We set up VIP service to walk us through customs in Kiev. I feel much better knowing we'll have someone waiting for us when we get off the plane. To be honest I did it more for my dad who is giving himself gray hairs worrying about us, than for me. Hah!

I think this weekend we may take my chickens to their "chicken sitter." Yep, I am having someone chicken sit for me. My babies can't be left alone! They have been very upset with me for keeping them in their pen the last few weeks. We re-seeded the yard and they love to eat grass seed and new grass... so they've been penned up and are showing their displeasure by refusing to lay eggs! I let them out one day and was rewarded with ONE egg.

I finished the boys' Christmas shopping today while Wes was at preschool. Wyatt just doesn't care what's in the cart as long as he has a drink so I got him a drink and went shopping. Wes is now "checking" my room to see if its clean every 5 minutes. I'm going to have to lock it because he knows where I hid the presents last year -- in my closet. I know that's what he's after!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Enter to Win

Suzanne over at One Less Broken Hearted is having a giveaway to help two families bring their kiddos home. There are some really great prizes so head on over and check them out :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My room looks like my brain feels

I have been doing a zillion different things to try to get everything ready for us to go next weekend.

In my mind, the house MUST be clean. I will not return to a dirty house. I washed all the bed linens today.

The bills all need to be set up on auto pay to make sure everything is paid up while we're off and we come home to electricity. Still haven't done this yet.

I have been trying to prepare food and either freeze or can it so that we'll have something to eat that doesn't require much prep when we get back. Yeah so on top of cooking food for us to eat NOW, I really haven't gotten much done. 4 jars of chicken soup and 2 frozen quiches. That's what takeout is for, right?

Packing. I'd been storing everything in our closet so on Sunday when we got the email with our appointment date, we ran upstairs and pulled it all out along with our bags so we had a pretty huge mess of stuff. I organized it all today into catagories (laundry stuff, gifts, childrens stuff, medication, travel food, personal care, electronics) and put each catagory into a plastic ziploc bag. We also bought some space bags last night so we're going to smoosh our clothes into those. Packing light for a Ukrainian winter is proving a little troublesome.

Plane tickets. Done.

Worrying about losing luggage, changing flights, going through security and customs. Done.

So this brings me to why I ran off and forgot my poor kid's backpack and snack for preschool this morning. I wasn't thinking about it. :-O

In the middle of the craziness though I have to stop and grin because THIS is crazy. We ARE going to Ukraine. We set out doing this without knowing how it would all come together and God has been so faithful to provide for us right when we needed it. His timing astounds me. I am so glad that I am not "really" in control of any of this and that the way I thought things needed to go are not always they way they have happened.

God has a plan for us and we are so ready to see another part of it unfold!

Monday, November 1, 2010

November is Adoption Awareness Month

This is the first time I even paid attention to this fact. Last year at this time we had just started the first steps in our adoption and I guess somehow I just never noticed that November was Adoption Awareness Month.

So to make up for our ignorance, we are doing a little something extra to promote adoption awareness this month -- we're adopting!

Ok, so you probably already knew that, but I think that it is just so cool that last year we didn't know anything about adoption except that we knew that God was calling us to do it; and now here we are one year actually later doing it.

I hope that you will follow along as we head to Ukraine NEXT WEEK (yes I can say that now!) to see what God has in store for us.

This really is HIS story, not ours. See, even God promotes adoption awareness :)

So, what are you doing to promote adoption awareness this month?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Appointment Date

Well we got home from church and had an email from our translator. Totally unexpected for a sunday afternoon, but it had our appointment date!!!

I know you wanna know what it is.

Its WAY earlier than we had expected. We were anticipating end of November.

Well guess what!?

Its November 15th!!

We are currently throwing stuff around in our room trying to figure out what we still need to get. Oh my goodness!!! God is so good! Maybe we will be back in time for Christmas after all!!

And for heavens sake! None of my family will answer their darned phones!!!!

Friday, October 29, 2010


I just finished reading the book Radical, by David Platt and W.O.W. Does this guy get it or what? Its not that his ideas are so radical, its the idea that the church and Christians have strayed so far from what Jesus intended that really hits me.

This book is awesome and will leave you feeling a little bit, well, radical! This is Christianity you can get excited about!

One of my favorite quotes from the book is this:

"Some wonder if it is unfair for God to allow so many to have no knowledge of the gospel. But there is no injustice in God. The injustice lies in Christians who possess the gospel and refuse to give their lives to making it known among those who haven't heard. That is unfair."

How many times have you heard the question that starts with "How can a loving God allow ____ to happen?" Well David Platt poses the question, how can we as Christians continue to ignore what God has told us to do? To GO to the nations. We as Christians are the hands and feet of God. Instead of the question starting with "How can a loving God...?" It should start with "How can Christians (the church) allow this ____ to continue?" Puts it in perspective, huh?

Get the book! Click the title at the top of this post to view it on amazon. You can get it for only $5.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


So today marks two weeks since we submitted our dossier. Yay!!

I have been trying to fill any extra time I have (which isn't much) with either doing my Rosetta Stone Russian, or reading. I've been reading The Connected Child, Adopted for Life, and Radical: Taking back your faith from the American Dream. All three are very good books and I highly recommend them. I was hoping to take some of them with us to Ukraine, but I think I'm going to be done reading all of them before then. I only have Crazy Love left and I am halfway through Radical already.

I've been doing pretty well with Rosetta Stone, but I don't know if learning Russian is SO hard that it literally makes me fall asleep at the computer after 30 minutes of it, or if its just that I never sit down and relax during the day until then and my body is like ohhhh lets go to sleep! I try to do Russian during the boy's naps, but that's also my time to clean and organize anything I don't want them messing with; and recently the cleaning and organizing has been winning out.

So basically we're just pluggin along here doing the same old same old routine and waiting for one little email...

We did get a really cool bit of news though. Phillip's boss decided to move their hours back at work to offset daylight savings time, so now Phillip will be leaving at 3:30pm. So awesome! I don't think he has EVER been able to come home that early in the entire time we've been married. Its great now but will be even better when we get back because that will mean I will have my relief person coming in a lot earlier than I expected. Yay!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Will it be this week?

Today is 10 days since we submitted our dossier. Friday of this week will be 15 days. We were told that we should hear something in about 20 days so it should either be this week or next I think. I'm not sure if that included weekends or not? I'm counting the weekends!

I thought I had the boys' Halloween costumes taken care of for Trunk of Treats this Saturday, but when Wes tried on his dragon, it was WAAAAYYY too small. It says ages 2-4 on it so since he's in that range, I thought it would fit. No. The legs end at his KNEES! He LOVES it though and managed to sqeeze it on and ran around roaring so even though I've tried to talk him into taking it back and finding a new one, I think we're stuck with it. He wanted to sleep with tonight. That's how much he loves it. He is just a huge 4 year old. I was charged school age child admission for him at the football game this Friday and had to convince the lady that no, the kid is not in school yet so he should be free!

The local highschool football games are awesome. They shoot off a cannon, fireworks, and a firebreathing lion everytime the home team scores. Then they shoot off t-shits into the crowd, drive a little car around the track, pull a REAL lion around in front of the crowd, and of course there are lots of cheerleaders. Its a real event and we went to the last homegame of the year this past Friday. The kids think we're at the Fair or something because of the Dippin Dots Ice Cream, Dominos Pizza, hamburgers, hotdogs, glow lights, and all the EMS vehicles. Oh and I was super happy to see a huge tablefull of Krispy Kreme Donuts for sale as we were leaving. Mmmmm....

Saturday, October 23, 2010

9 Days...

Its been 9 days since we submitted our dossier. Yay!

I got to try my winter attire for Ukraine out at the local football game last night. It was COLD! It actually got down to freezing early this morning and we had our first frost. I walked outside this morning to let the chickens out and scratched ice off of the picnic table on the patio.

We have a very exciting weekend at our church today and tomorrow; and then W will have his Harvest Party at preschool next week, we'll have Trunk of Treats at church and hopefully by the time all of the excitement is over, we'll have our date!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

How Many Times Have you Read This Verse?

but never really thought about what it meant?

John 14: 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

This is Jesus talking to his disciples and trying to explain to them about His upcoming crucifixion and His ultimate return to heaven.

Now think about this in the context of you meeting a child in a foreign country. You want to adopt this child and you love this child and in the short time that you have known this child, they have become yours; BUT you have to return home for a little while before you can complete everything.

What do you tell this child to help them understand that you will come back? That its not goodbye forever. You will be back.

That's what God is telling us. He is preparing a place for us and will come back for us. This verse just kind of took on a whole new meaning for me today and I thought it was pretty cool :)

This chapter also has another of my favorite verses:

14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

Yeah I've been claiming that one for this past year and I'm happy to report that God keeps His word ;)

7 Days Down...





Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Checking email makes me nervous!

Ok so we've been submitted 6 days already. I am starting to imagine what getting the email that has our appointment date in it is going to really mean. Plane tickets, packing, moving my kids' stuff to their grandparents' house, making sure the bills get paid while we're gone and the mail gets picked up, etc.

So far other than the paperwork and mad dashes around trying to update and FedEx paperwork, we haven't had much of a change in our daily life. Well soon its all going to change! That makes me excited, but its also making me realize what it all entails.

Wes on the other hand has asked me on a nearly daily basis, "Mom, WHEN are you gonna go get my baby girl?" Or he spots a little girl in the grocery store and asks me, "Mom are we gonna get a baby girl like that one?" He is ready for us to go! I hope he doesn't loose his enthusiasm for a sister should we bring one home for him. He seems ready to purchase all things pink and sparkly when we go shopping. He always wants to get something "For our baby girl." And even though we are hoping for a girl, I have prepared my heart to be open for a boy or a girl (or both!), but Wes just seems to know something I don't...

So with all of this weighing on my mind, checking email makes me nervous because one of these days very, very soon, I am going to get the email we've been waiting for and then it will be...


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

5 Days...

Five days since our dossier was submitted. Tick tock, tick tock...

I finally remember to order some long underwear today. I couldn't find any small enough in stores to fit me without making me looking like I had a weird layer of extra skin. Even the small is not actually small! I'm already freezing here now and the temp hasn't gotten down to freezing yet so I figured I should at least get some pants to go under my pants haha. I just hope that the waistline isn't some granny style up around my belly button cause that will look REAL attractive with my skinny jeans. I guess that's what long sweaters are for...

Wes was running around in the yard today and said that its almost time for it to winter here because the leaves are starting to fall off the trees. Silly kid. He loved the two snow storms that dumped nearly 2 feet of snow each time last year. He thinks its going to do that again this year. My hope is that if it does, it won't be when we're trying to fly out or back home. Any other time is fine!

So 5 days... we're just waiting. I have nothing meaningful to post yet. As soon as I know our date, I'll be booking flights with Golden Rule Travel!

Monday, October 18, 2010

7 Years & 4 Days

Today my wonderful husband and I have been married for 7 years! Today also marks 4 days since our dossier was submitted which by my calculations means we have about 16 more days till we receive our appointment date. I am still hoping sooner rather than later...

God has blessed us so much in these past 7 years. We both took classes and worked for several years before I became pregnant with Wes and decided to be a SAHM. We've seen several job changes that came with challanges. We built a house together while I was pregnant with Wyatt and lived with him sleeping in the living room of our old house for 4 months! We've weathered several "family issue" storms together. We also made a really difficult decision to change churches about 3 years ago. We really wanted a church where our kids could grow up surrounded by other children their age and form lifelong Christian friendships. Neither Phillip or I really have that type of friendship with anyone and we felt it was so important for our children to be able to grow up in an environment where that type of support would be available to them.

I would say that decision marks a huge turning point in our lives. We have grown so much as Christians, parents, and a couple since that time. We both have a real desire to serve God wherever and however He calls us and I LOVE that I wake up on Sunday mornings not thinking of ways to get out of going to church, but excited to go!

So here we are. Married for 7 years with 2 little guys and just ready and waiting to add more! :) Its been a great 7 years and I can't wait to see what the next 7 (or 77!) have to offer. It keeps getting better and better!

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life; but those who make their journey home across time and miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them,are carried on the wings of destiny; and placed among us by God's very own hands. --Kristi Larson