Sunday, September 4, 2011


So, my dear friends that I mentioned previously are hoping to bring Artem back for Christmas!! I cannot tell you how excited I am. For one thing, I am pretty sure it will be his first ever Christmas with Christ at the center- who knows what seeds might begin to grow? Secondly, it is the first step in what I hope will become his forever family! Now, there are a ton of pieces that have to fall into place for this to happen, but this sweet family who previously had no plans whatsoever to pursue adoption are quite smitten with our boy, and are quite open to whatever God has in store. So, let's see this miracle begin.

As is so often the case, the biggest obstacle looming in front of this family is financial. Hosting fees are simply to cover travel and visa expenses, but they can be overwhelming at an already expensive time of year. And we wont even get into the topic of potential adoption fees yet- lets see God move this small mountain first. So, I need your help. I will be posting about fundraising opportunities in the near future- please don't tune me out. We have a chance to make a HUGE difference in the life of this child. Now, if you know me you know my heart bleeds for orphans worldwide and I know that this can seem like a tiny piece. But it is a BIG deal for Artem. What are the current stats of orphans worldwide- 167 million? Overwhelming, I know. But we have to impact that number one at a time. Lets offer some love to the one right here in front of us. He is ever so worthy. Here is the link to the fundraising site. Seriously people- if just my facebook friends each donated $10 each, we would have this in the bag. And if YOU felt lead to repost this on your wall, and some of your friends donated- well- we could start chipping away at that second mountain looming in the distance called adoption fees. Please please please. Let's change his world!

Bring Artem Home for Christmas!

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Day that had to come...

First off, here is a family shot: Artem was all dressed up too, but he spilled ketchup on his button down shirt! Oh, well...he is still adorable!
This is my brother and sister and law and their youngest, Nathan with Artem. Thanks to them, he even went home with some Spanish words (Tia and Tio mostly)!
And here he is with Nana and Papa (Shauns parents):

And finally Babushka and Dedushka (sp?): This boy is very very loved!

So, departure day. I really thought I was prepared for it. I mean, I was dreading it the whole time, but we went into this with a host only mentality and I thought I was alright with that. It. was. awful. The days leading up to it there was plenty of talks about it. He was so open about not wanting to go back, so free with his emotions and affections. We got plenty of hugs and kisses and I love yous the whole time he was here. One night in particular broke my heart- we were having a chat on the translator and he was expressing his worry about what would happen when he got back to Ukraine. I guess the older boys can be bullies, and if they see something they want, they just simply take it. All the little gifts we got him were such treasures to him- I seriously doubt he has ever had so many possessions in his life. The thought of someone stealing from him made me so sad. I asked if there wasn't a teacher or a caretaker who could look out for him and he looked at me like I was completely crazy. He got a set of earrings for his sister whenever he sees her again- I went ahead and wrapped them in hopes that they would be more likely to stay in his possession that way. He basically told me that if someone tried to take those, he would fight them, but I cringed at that and told him to be careful and look out for himself- no material things are worth his safety.

Packing his bags was tricky but we got it done. Photo album full of memories with our contact info in the back. His Russian English Bible in which I highlighted some of my favorite passages. Clothes, toys, shoes, school supplies, and gifts. Poor kids carry on weighed a ton though! And I managed to slip in a letter and some unseen goodies after he went to bed.

The flight out was really early, so Shaun stayed home with the two younger kids and Ashtyn and I took him. We were such a wreak! Artem was somber at first, but as soon as he got around the other boys, he separated from us and took on the tough boy act. They were all in pretty good spirits- several of them had been through this before so I think they were coping the best they could. When it was actually time to say goodbye however- the tough boy act melted away and he clung to us and choked back the tears. For Ash and I there was no hiding it, we were complete saps. My sweet sweet boy- I don't think he has any idea how much we miss him!!

The one thing that made it all slightly more bearable however is that we do have hopes of seeing him again. I cannot mention any names and it is certainly not a sure thing yet, but some friends of ours that met him while he was here are seriously considering adopting him. So we are praying for that to work out, and hoping they might host him for Christmas. Couldn't let Artem know anything about it poor kid. He is so strong though, and so brave. And he is always in our thoughts and prayers so I know God will take care of him!

The rest of the visit

Wow, we got way too busy for blogging. Forgive me, i wanted to savor every moment!

I would say the highlight was a long weekend in a beach side resort (I love spg points!!) We headed over to Sand Key and spent 3 nights and 4 days. It was awesome. Ironically most of the kids preferred the pool to the big blue ocean- but we got plenty of both! Grandma and Grandpa went with to help with the kiddos (since Shaun couldn't stay the entire time-boo). Artem got even tanner (if that is possible) and even met a cute little girl from Moscow at the pool one day. Strangely- we seemed to find Russian speakers everywhere we went while he was here- I don't think he has a clue how rare that actually is in the States. They had kids activities at the pool in the afternoon, and he got second on a swimming race- against some much bigger kids too.

We went to Rock Springs with our cousins- water is always a hit with Artem. He did reach a point of being tired of little kids, so my 14 year old nephew Zac and his friend let A hang with them for a bit- which totally made his day. These springs are especially cool because you can take a tube up to the boil, and ride the current downstream.

I pawned off my little ones, and took the two oldest to Disney again. I was really hesitant to do it after the first failed attempt but I am so glad we went! It was fantastic- he had so much fun. We went to Magic Kingdom and he conquered all the mountains- but I think his favorite was the race cars. We closed the place down, staying through the electric parade and the fireworks. I hope he took home some good memories.

Let me add some pics and I will cover the goodbyes in a separate post...

Friday, July 15, 2011


Lets just say Disney was a fail. Mega summer crowds, intense heat made for one very unhappy (and uncooperative) boy. There were moments of fun, but not at all what I envisioned. Bummer. Oh well

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Week Two

I was really hoping to manage a blog post more than once a week- pitiful ;) Let me see if I can hit the highlights

*Roller Skating- So Artem takes a little time to warm up to a new idea, so when we first got to the rink he was very hesitant. He did take one painful spill but it didn't take him too long to get back on the floor and he was doing great in no time. He has asked to go every day since then. And informed me with great sadness that he doesn't roller skate in Ukraine. We will have to go at least one more time...

*Sea World- His amazement when he saw the whales was AWESOME. Incidentally, there is a little video segment at the beginning of that show that shows a small child in silhouette holding hands with her parents that had me almost in tears... He rode everything they have. We learned he likes roller coasters which makes me very happy as I haven't had an excuse to ride them in several years. The second day we went he got to touch a stingray and a dolphin which was pretty cool. Oh, and his heelys have arrived so he has been zooming everywhere- and he crashed right into another New Horizons Ukrainian host kid! Actually I am not sure he actually crashed, but he did help the little guy pick up his water bottle which somehow dropped, and a little bit later we saw each other again and the boys started talking in Russian to each other so we figured it out. They were in FL from Maryland- so unlikely that we would meet like that!

*Aquatica- Another huge hit. He tells me that they have water slides in Ukraine, but the lazy river was new to him. He was up for anything (although we arrived at the park during an afternoon thunderstorm which had him looking at me like I was crazy and asking to go "Dom")

*New Horizons welcome party- a day of boating fun at our house (have I mentioned lately how thankful I am for this house?) It was wild- swimming- volleyball-tubing-jet skis-sandcastles-food- food- food-kids jabbering in Russian everywhere. Artem got the slightest bit puffed up with pride that it was at 'his' house, which was kind of adorable. As far as I can gather, none of the other Cenral Florida kids are from his orphange, but they made freinds pretty quick.

*Science center- He is so curious, and such a bright kid. He doesn't miss anything and he catches on so fast. The Science Center is all very hands on so this was great. Also neat was watching him interact with the other kids at exhibits. He was polite and generous, quick to pass a turn or offer a hand despite the language barrier. Fantastic.

Tomorow's big plan is Disney, so I had better get some sleep. Pictures later I promise

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Week one

I apologize in advance. I am getting pretty tired and this post has no outline in my head at all. I just wanted to document week one and the things we did and impressions we have gotten before I lose them.

Most days this week have been spent at home. If you have ever been to my house you know that does not equal boring. Not only do we have more than enough to keep us entertained, we have a revolving door of visitors. If its not the kids from around the block, its friends or family. And lots of them. I think we are overwhelming poor Artem with introductions. Hopefully overwhelming him with love, too! Days at home have consisted of riding bikes, playing video games, hanging on the beach, and taking out the boat. And eating. The kid eats more than Shaun. Loves meat. And fruit, but mostly meat. We did try to go to a community pool, but just as we got there it shut down because of lightning. So plan B was BK playground and ice cream. I also got him to the eye doctor (getting him reading glasses- need to go pick those up), and we have done some shopping for shoes and a winter coat to take back home and such. Typical 12 year old boy, he has little interest in shopping, so we have to keep it pretty short. Helps that he is decisive. He does enjoy getting nice things, though- he has mastered the pitiful "Please?" with those big brown eyes (used it on me for a second pair of sunglasses and a Transformer toy). He catches onto things really fast- very short learning curve. He has almost mastered my iphone translator and camera. He also asked to use the camera and took at least 100 pictures of everything and everyone, especially the dogs. He loves the dogs. He is really good with them.

The ride to church on Sunday was like an hour long (we are taking him to Kissimmee). No car sickness though, like they had us expecting. He was pretty well behaved at church. He seemed a bit bored and a little antsy, understandable since he couldn't catch much of what was going on. We did get him a Russian/English Bible that has the verses parallel to each other so he could at least follow the readings. And, I'll admit during the sermon I did play ticktacktoe with him and then teach him dots. I was trying to keep him from fidgeting and sighing every two minutes! I might have spoiled it for the next few weeks though he will expect games. I find myself torn quite a bit- between spoiling him like he has never been before because hey- I only have a month to do it- and treating him equal and holding him to the same standard as the other kids. Like so far- today I let him drink way more soda than I ever would the rest of my kids. And if he shows a preference for something- like a seat in the car or a certain life jacket- I tend to ask the others to humor him. It is not taking him long to expect that though, although he does still show gratitude. His "Sank you!" is pretty cute. He is a total clown. His teasing is a bit of a dilemma for me as well, though. I love that he is funny and having a good time, but good natured ribbing can start to appear like it might be sass. But how much should I really expect in less than a week? Part of me thinks I should be glad that he feels comfortable enough to smile and say "uh-uh, uh-uh!" in a little squeak when I tell him its time for bed or a shower or something. The important thing is he does do it, even if he might not want to, when I insist. He is really bonding fast (as are we). He loves the kids, and eagerly shares anything he might have with them. He enjoys time with Shaun quite a bit as well. They told us to expect him to bond to the father of the house first, but oddly I think he is a little closer to me so far. I think I'm his safety net, and I am glad I can be. He is quick to offer help to any one of us if he sees a need.

We found a Russian food store in Kissimmee which thrilled him. Not only was he able to speak to the cashier- he got to pick out groceries as well. In case I have any other hosting parents reading, here is what he chose: Sausage...Kielbasa type, smelled almost like bologna. Pickles (cucumbers in brine actually, but same same), chicken filled dumplings that the girl said they eat with sour cream on top, salted sunflower seeds, this little snack bag that was filled with basically onion flavored croutons that he ate like chips. A relish of some sort that tastes almost like a spicy cocktail sauce. A white chocolate bar. And toy filled chocolate eggs (he wanted enough to give all the other three one). So really, we have close substitutes for all of them.

Ok, well sleep is calling me. Sorry for the rambling post. Its been a long day! Let me throw in a couple of pics...(they always end up at the begining)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day One: Fun at home

So after a looooong day of travel for Artem, we figured it was a good idea to keep day one low key. We have worked out an interesting method of gesturing and turning to google translate when we need it, but we seem to be communicating fairly well. He is very polite and respectful, but also pretty open and friendly. I was worried about feeding him but he seems to be doing ok. He had Kielbasa, a hard boiled egg, and crusty bread for breakfast. Lunch was a bologna sandwich. He eat every bit of his chicken and rice at dinner. I'm not sure if he actually likes it or if he is just polite. As soon as breakfast was over he went straight to his room to make up his bed, and then helped Mason with his. So far he hasn't let me do a single thing without at least offering his assistance. We spent our morning playing in the water. He wasn't sure what the water cannons were at first but once I demonstrated he didn't waste any time starting a water war with the kids. He got me in on the action as well ;) In the afternoon a good friend of mine brought a bike over for him to use while he is here, along with her 6 kiddos. The crowd didn't seem to phase him at all. The bike has been a big hit- he spent a lot of time riding that. I was pleased that he was obedient as far as wearing a helmet and staying within boundaries- I dont think we will have any trouble taking him places at all. There was an after dinner boat ride and a little wakeboarding action. Artem has shown me up and gotten up on that thing already! Shaun says he seems right at home in the water. So, it has been a very busy day of getting to know each other but I think we are going to have an awesome visit!

Arrival Day!

Here we are waiting on the flight to come in...(sorry couldnt get Mason to hold still) ;)

And here is the first shot of all of us...

Just the kiddos (Z is peeking in at the bottom)

He was pretty tired and a little bit shy, but he seemed excited and not at all intimidated, really.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

New Horizons

This is Artom:

Artom is 11 and lives in an orphanage in the Ukraine. According to his bio he likes running, playing tag, and soccer. He loves dogs. He would like to learn how to play volleyball and wishes for his own soccer jersey.

Artom is going to come stay with us for a few weeks this summer. It is through an organization called New Horizons for Children. I first heard about it through a fellow blogger. At first, we just felt called to donate to scholarship funds, but then I registered for the photolisting and I saw their faces. Thankfully I have a supportive husband, because after that it was all over ;) We are in the final application process right now. Not quite as extensive as an adoption, but still pretty thorough. I am getting so excited to show him his room, and take him to church with us, and take him to the ocean! I don't think he has ever seen the ocean- can you imagine seeing that for the first time at the age of 11? Mostly I am so excited for him to have the chance to experience a family.

What then you ask?...of course you do. So do I. Right now we are only feeling called to host Artom. Maybe he will find his forever family while he is here with us. Maybe we will feel lead to do more for him. At the very least I can assure you that from here on out he will have people in the world who think about him, pray for him, and will be there for him. Please pray for him, and for us if you will. In all honestly the thought of another international adoption is daunting...the expense, the time... But as always I remain open to Gods will. Perhaps soon we will know his plan for Artom. Just thankful we can have this small part in it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Medical stuff- TMI I am sure

Lets see...medical update

First- test results- some irritation in her duodenum. Possible Celiacs- sent out a genetic blood test. Which came back negative- no Celiacs. Continue diet and antacid meds...check back...

Second- decided to seek a second opinion. Went to head GI at Arnold Palmer Hospital. He look at all her tests and results, deemed it toddler diarrhea, and said not to worry. She is growing, she is healthy, she is not uncomfortable....he said even the milk allergy was too insignificant on the blood test to even consider it an allergy. Feed her cheese he said. Bulk up on fiber. And stop worrying.

Third- the blood. After some online research that backed him up, decided to take the chance and follow doctor #2s advice. Couple days later her babysitter thought she saw blood in her stools. I looked, thought it might just be something she ate...called the first doc and promised to keep an eye out. For two weeks, nothing. Seemed to be seeing improvement. And then- again- blood. Seemed to me that it couldn't be anything else, and I have seen it many times since. So went back to first doc, fessed up about seeing another man, and was told to collect more samples. And that is where we are now... could be the reintroduction of dairy (seems most likely)? Could be something else....frustrating!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Testing Tuesday

Wow- two posts in a month!!

Just an update here- Z is scheduled for an upper and lower endoscopy on Tuesday morning. I am really hoping to have some answers shortly after that. The prep isn't gonna be pleasant....liquid diet for 2 days, and lots of 'clean out' ahead of time. Thank goodness for Grandma's coming over!

So since I have been spending so much time in the health food store...and looking at specialized cookbooks- I got inspired. I decided to go on a 'clear skin diet' myself. I'll just admit now- I am really bad at healthy eating!!! Hate it, really really hate it. A lot of the diet changes my research has shown I should avoid are similar to Z's restrictions anyway, so I figure if at least she sees me eating this stuff maybe she wont think I am trying to poison her. So we are both dairy free now, I am attempting to go off refined sugars and eat more veggies. Also added some supplements and yes,probiotics (awesome stuff btw!)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

dairy free sugar free?

Obviously I haven't been blogging for quite some time. This might be the start of a renewed interest- or it might not be. I dunno. Kenzie has just been having some health issues, and I am a bit lost dealing with it. So, maybe I might get some useful advice out of this. At the very least, I'll get to vent!

Without going into too much detail, she is having digestive issues. Its nasty, trust me. Thankfully not too serious, in that she is growing and happy go lucky most of the time. She is beginning to show signs of discomfort, which is resulting in a more determined course of action on my part. The pediatrician discovered she has a milk allergy, so we cut that a few months back. When that didn't fix her issues, and she seemed to actually be getting worse, we went to a GI doc. So far we have learned that her body is not able to process sugars. Forgive me because I am still trying to understand this, but from what I understand, when sugars go in for her, her intestinal tract is unable to absorb them, and so they continue right on through, along with any other contents. I think I understand more about what she doesn't have then what she is not lactose intolerance, its not celiacs disease (thus far), it is not Crohns, IBD or ulcerative colitis. I have a feeling more testing is to come. So far they have run a blood test to determine the milk allergy and taken..ummm...samples to determine that her output contains high levels of sugar...

Last night she woke us up wailing- squirming in discomfort. This morning required a complete stripping of the bed and a really good bath for her. Honestly, we are pretty sure she has had these conditions to some degree her entire life. I am not entirely sure why suddenly she is so miserable and she never has been before. We entered the alternate universe of Whole Foods today...isles and isles of organic, gluten free, dairy free, soy free, free range.....supplements and substitutions and a whole lot of label reading for me. My little miss is really no help in this process as she previously had like 5 foods she would eat and is one of the pickiest eaters I know. She hates trying new things. Doesn't help either that I have a mean sweet tooth, I love my cheese, and I know success is going to mean support from the whole family. So in addition to the journey to the health food store, I just ordered like 4 cookbooks off amazon for various restricted diets. I need to learn to enjoy cooking ( I really don't like it!) and resist convenience foods. This is NOT going to be easy...but I cant stand to see her in pain, I am soooo over diapers and she so cant help needing them right now, and I am worried her condition will begin to get worse if we dont get it under control now. It will be good for all of us, right?