Friday, January 9, 2015

7 Quick Takes


Soooooo, Maks has strep again. Or still, I'm not sure which one. I think this pretty much guarantees the rest of us are going to get it again, and Amelia and Lily are already not feeling well... Just... pray for us. I am sick of everyone being sick! It is a constant battle. :(


Charlotte is starting mini-4's at the preschool next week. I am so excited, but sad at the same time. I think she feels the same! But, she's ready.


The Phoenix Catholic Women's Conference is coming up soon. There are some wonderful speakers, like my friend, Leila!

I have never gotten to go, but I did get close last year, and already had my ticket purchased, but then had to sell it. I am hoping and praying I can go this year. I will be buying my ticket soon. If you buy early, you get $10 off! Let me know if you're going!!


So, I dropped my phone in the toilet way back during Lent and it was working for a while, but then completely died a few months ago. My upgrade isn't until January 13th, and I am so happy it's finally coming up. I manage our crazy schedules from my phone, plus we don't have a home phone (who does anymore???), so using a phone that doesn't hold a charge is really frustrating. I know, first world problems. But, I am so glad I can upgrade this week.


I have started shopping for first communion and confirmation dresses for Amelia. Luckily, Zulily has some beautiful ones on there right now for a really reasonable price.

I really like this one, but I'm waiting for her to wake up to choose.


We exchanged something at Costco that wasn't working well for a new Crock Pot, and I'm struggling with it a bit. I love that it is bigger and has a timer, warmer, etc... but it's SO big that I have to cook all of my recipes a bit differently.

I am looking for good recipes for Amelia's reception, but I'm so afraid anything I make is going to be dry.


There are 3 tiny babies on Reece's Rainbow right now from the country Maks was adopted from...

Pray for these sweet babies. Discern adoption. Donate, share, help in any way the Lord leads you. If you have fears or concerns, contact me! We can talk it through!

Happy weekend!


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

When You Can't Pray...

The last year of our lives has not been easy. It has been beautiful, but difficult. Losing Nico to the ban, and then watching him grow up via pictures was a great loss. He still exists. He still waits in an orphanage. A part of my family is missing, and that hurts.

The adoption process isn't easy, and I promise this isn't yet another post about adoption, but really about those trying times when you are in the thick of grief and can't bring yourself to pray.

I tend to shut down and go into robot mode when I am struggling. I have a hard time hearing and speaking to God. I beg for clarity, but I am not open to it. I sit in mass in tears, hoping for the fog to lift, but I can barely eke out a prayer.

This is not my current state right now. But I've been there, especially in the months leading up to meeting Maks after losing Nico.

It has been so very important for me to network and find myself Christian friends that I know will pick up the slack. This is one way Facebook can really be a blessing. I am taking a break right now, but I have connections that have made it outside of Facebook to keep me grounded. I have been able to plan things with real life friends easier because of it.

The prayers of my friends and family truly did get me through some tough times. We had a fairly easy transition into family life of 8, and I know that was because of Christ. He took care of us even though I couldn't speak with Him. My friends and family took care of me with their fervent prayers when I couldn't do it.

It's beautiful, and I'm forever grateful. I hope that anyone reading has that type of support, because I'm not sure how anyone gets through life without it.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

When Evil Stares You in the Face

Many people go through life without realizing when evil is before them. They feel it, but can't grasp the entire reason for the feelings they're experiencing.

Someone I know was recently confronted with the evil of abortion. She helped her friend in any way she could, and her friend did not want to go through with it, but she was being strongly coerced by the child's father. Eventually, her efforts failed, and her friend went through with it anyway.

There is a sinking, heavy feeling in our stomachs when we realize this evil. Something grotesque and wrong. Our very souls are repelled by it.

That is how it feels when you walk into an orphanage. Just as abortion is a grave evil, so is children warehoused like animals, with no one to love them. 8 toddlers calling you momma and begging to be adopted. Some orphans might get "lucky" and live in a "good" institution for a while, but that all can change by one transfer.

Not everyone is called to adopt. But, just as we are called to speak up for the unborn, we must be willing to speak up for the 100's of thousands of orphans in this world. There are far too many of us turning a blind eye and making excuses when, realistically, we could be doing much more. It makes us feel uncomfortable, so we don't want to think about it too much. We don't want to make eye contact with the homeless man on the street, because we can't help them at that moment. When really, a smile and a prayer is quite possibly exactly what they need.

Find your cause. Figure out where you can help. I've found mine, it's always been the pro life movement. And until the pro life movement actually starts to include bringing awareness to orphans, I will not be silent.

Pro life
Pro life
Pro life

Friday, January 2, 2015

7 Quick Takes


I am taking the month of January off of Facebook to refocus a bit. I have been wanting to get back into blogging, and also get my family blog updated for a while, but I haven't had a chance. I think this will help me get there, as well as add some more prayer to my life.


Christmas and New Year's Eve was wonderful. My kids had so much fun, we got to spend Christmas day with family, and the New Year's Eve, the big girls and I played Sorry! and had hot chocolate and did sparklers. Christmas Day, we went to the parish closest to us, instead of our own parish, for mass, and it was interesting, to say the least... I love our parish, and that experience reminded me of how much I truly do.


Is anyone planning on seeing the Pope when he comes to America? I would like to, in a perfect world, but I'm not sure I will be able to make it happen.

Coming to Americaaaa!


In case you didn't know, Friends, the complete series, has been added to Netflix streaming!!! I know it's a little "Liberal Agenda"-ish... but it's always been one of my favorites, and I am already having a blast watching all the old episodes. I watched 5 last night and plan on watching more tonight.


Speaking of TV, Downton Abbey and the Bachelor start this week. I am sooooo excited! Yes, I know the Bachelor is horrible, and I promise it is about the raciest thing I can handle these days, but I love it. I am hoping my favorite recap-blogger will be blogging through this season!


What is one thing you always wanted for Christmas as a child but never received? For me, it was an American Girl doll. I read all the books from our school library and loved the historical stories. But I never was able to have a doll. My mom was a single mom and that was wayyyy out of our price range. I never, ever thought I'd buy them for our girls, because HELLO, they are SO expensive... but I had a feeling that Amelia really did want one, but was too afraid to ask, and that made my heart ache a bit. Lily had asked for one and then said she would take a Target knock-off instead, but I knew she really wanted one, too... So, when Kyle's dad sent us a large amount of money right before Christmas, I KNEW what I could do...

Let me tell you, I am not one to spend this much on Christmas. But I have never, ever seen such a twinkle in my girls' eyes like I did when they opened those dolls. They never in a million years expected to get them, and the experience made me cry. I am so happy I was able to do something special for them. Maybe this all sounds stupid, and I understand that. But I don't care. I had to share, because I am so proud of my girls for appreciating this gift. They are not as spoiled as I think they are.


Now, I must take a break from the rambling about expensive dolls and bring this blog back to Earth. I am asking one thing of you all this year. And that's to honestly, strongly discern whether or not you are called to adoption. Put your doubts aside. Spend time in adoration. LISTEN to Christ, and let Him lead you. No excuses. Let them go. If you feel called, jump. Shoot me an email, and we can chat through all doubts and fears. If you do not feel called at this time, consider how you can help.

If you consider yourself pro-life, this should be your next logical step. Stretch yourselves this year.

In honor of St. Basil's feast day...

Happy 2015! Have a wonderful weekend and a Christ-centered New Year!!


Friday, December 19, 2014


I know the subject matter of this blog has shifted since our adoption. I try to put together cohesive blogposts about other things, but when I start typing, I just can't get anything out other than bringing it back to orphans. I can't help it. I have been so focused on the pro life movement for years, and this continues it for me. I saw the faces of children who will probably never be adopted. It hurts. It haunts me.

When I first saw Nico, he was a baby.

He was listed on Reece's Rainbow for a year by the time I had seen him. A YEAR. Many babies were listed after him and adopted. When we committed, our agency told us they had lost hope that he was ever going to be adopted, because no one ever followed through.

He should've been home with us in 2013, but the Russian adoption ban in December of 2012 stopped him from coming home and still stands today. Instead, all we have is pictures.

Another little boy was listed and overlooked for years, too.

Our sweetie, Maks. He was listed on Reece's Rainbow for TWO years. Families committed and then walked away. Families pulled his file but never took him home. God chose him for our family, and finally, at the age of 3.5, he came home.

Other babies were listed, chosen, adopted before he was. Why?

And now... I am hoping to be proven wrong... that the same thing is not happening to this little boy. Who has been listed, and others have been listed after him, but he still waits, while the others have been chosen and adopted.


Is adoption hard? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

I can't adopt them all, you guys. If God calls us to, I'd love to add Truman to our family. But he could be chosen by YOU. NOW.

Don't let him wait. Don't let him suffer anymore. Don't let him be overlooked.

Please pray for him, for whoever his family is. Donate if you can. Share his sweet face.

If you feel called, jump. Jump off that cliff for this angel. God will catch you. Be not afraid.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

One Year Ago Today - Finale - Home!

Our trip home started early in the morning. I had only slept for 2 hours. Niko drove us to the airport while listening to YMCA and The Cure's "Lovesong." I cried through Lovesong. The Cure has been my favorite for years, and it was such a perfect song for the end of a long trip where I had met, bonded, and was now bringing home my newest son.

I knew that the trip home was not going to be pretty. Traveling alone with a newborn and a 3.5 year old who couldn't walk was never something that was going to be easy.

Niko got us checked in at the airport, I hugged him, thanked him, and tipped him, and we said our goodbyes as we entered the gates. Oh, how I didn't expect to miss them so much.

We waited a while in the children's lounge and then the Lufthansa staff let us board the plane first. Maks was very tired, since it was 4 am, and we hadn't slept much, but he was doing great. We boarded the plane and he was happy as can be. I gave him some juice, and then he threw it up all over himself. It was then that I realized that I didn't have a shirt to change him into.

Our first flight was only about an hour and a half to Frankfurt. When we got there, Maks was asleep, and we exited the plane to find our next gate. We were told it had been moved, so we walked and walked and walked and walked and walked (I DESPISE that airport!), until we found the new gate. That gate wasn't right, either. I had steam coming out of my ears by this time... I stood and studied the sign, to no avail. I gave up. I had a 4 hour layover, and I'd find it later, after I had some coffee. Maks slept. Too much... But I got a chocolate croissant and some coffee, met some adoptive parents from Bulgaria who were obviously about as flustered as I was at that point already, and rested for a bit.
For the love, do NOT let your kids sleep on the layover before a 10 hr flight!!!

Someone helped me find my gate and they told us to wait and they would help us board... They made us wait until everyone else had boarded. Again, I was not happy. But, when they took us back to our seat and I realized we had a bassinet, I was ok. Then I saw that we were seated next to a 40ish year old man, and I apologized, "I am going to apologize in advance," I said, "this is going to be ugly." He said not to worry, and let me tell you, that man was a Godsend. I had been praying that we would not be seated next to someone cranky for that flight. And we weren't. He helped me more than he could ever know, and I am forever grateful for his kindness.

The stewardesses showered both boys with gifts, and we settled in for our 10 hour flight. It was a bit of a struggle from the get go. The arm rests would not fold up in these seats, and Maks wanted to snuggle. He was frustrated that I couldn't hold him, because I was trying to get Sam to go to sleep, so he would smack him whenever he could. He wouldn't watch the movies, or play with toys, or anything. If I tried to put Sam down in the bassinet, he'd cry. The man next to us drank a lot, but helped with Maks and didn't mind one bit if Maks pet his arm hair, or otherwise bothered him.

After about 5 hours of that nonsense, the kind man fell asleep, and Sam decided that was a great time to have his first poopy diaper blowout ever. I took both boys to the back of the plane, where the only changing table is, as Maks pet every man's arm hair on the way. We had to wait a few mins, and when we got in, the bathroom reeked. I put the baby on the changing table, and Maks stuck his hand in the poopy toilet. I screeched, he laughed. I washed him up while holding onto the baby, then opened the door, found the closest stewardess and begged her to take Sam for a minute while I cleaned up Mr. Poopyhands. She didn't even care that Sam was covered in poop too. She showed him all around that plane, all the ladies squealed in delight as I cleaned up my crazy boy. He decided that pooping in his own diaper would be fun right after I changed him, and I realized I was not only out of diapers for him, but I didn't have a change of clothes for Sam. "What am I, a new mother?!" I thought... Thankfully, they had spare diapers on the plane, and I was able to get Sam cleaned up a bit and swaddled him up for the next 5 hours of the flight...

We went back to our seats and the kind man actually apologized for falling asleep! I was finally able to get Sam asleep and into the bassinet, and then I put "Planes" on the tv and held Maks tight so that maybe, just maybe he'd fall asleep too. Just as he'd fall asleep, a woman and her rowdy toddler would run by screeching and wake him up. This happened 2 or 3 times. I was so exhausted, I can't even explain... I had a glass of wine, thank goodness Lufthansa gives it for free. I needed it. He finally fell asleep around hour 8. I nodded off for about 20 minutes. He woke up about hour 9 and we had about an hour left. He cried in his seat the whole time. The kind man did everything he could to help me quiet him down, but it didn't help. Luckily, those planes are so loud, I doubt anyone else could really hear him.

When we landed in Denver, I was so dizzy and delirious. There was some mix up with my strollers, and I had to get to my next gate within an hour and 20 minutes. Luckily, an airport employee and some other kind people helped me. I got my luggage, grabbed clothes and diapers out of it for the boys, got through customs and everything else, made the mistake of stepping onto a moving sidewalk (phew! Almost fell!), changed the boys in the bathroom, and made it to my next gate.

I was charging my phone and was pretty much in a fog, when a man came up and said that Maks reminded him of his son, who is 8, and also has Down syndrome. I told him that we were on our way home from Ukraine and that we were glad to meet him. He was so nice, and had tears in his eyes.

Luckily, the last flight from Denver to Phoenix is a short one. We were seated next to another man, with incredibly irresistible arm hair, and I was the most exhausted I have ever been in my life. I have given birth to 5 babies, but it doesn't even compare. I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore. I would nod off, then snap awake and realize Maks was petting the man next to us. I finally wrapped my arm around him, put the baby on my shoulder, and tightly held them both and passed out for about 45 minutes. Maks fell asleep too. I awoke to the news that we were starting our descent and I started crying. I couldn't stop crying. I'd get it under control, and then think of seeing my girls again, and cry again. The kind man that talked to us in Denver offered to carry Maks out of the plane, that he'd be honored, and I graciously accepted. Angels. God blessed us with so many angels on the way home.

I came down the ramp and saw my grandma, grandpa, and Aunt Tarry. My girls weren't there yet. I was still crying. And then I saw Kyle, Amelia, and Lily, and cried some more. Our friends were there too. Then Tessa and Charlotte came, and they seemed confused. We all hugged, fawned over Maks, the photographer took pictures, we headed over to luggage, and then headed home. On the way home we bought Maks his first Happy Meal and my beloved Dr. Pepper and fries (even though they didn't taste good because I was too exhausted).

Oh, it was good to be home.


Friday, December 5, 2014

One Year Ago Today - Part 4 - Gotcha!!!

This year flew by. Most years of parenting do, but wow, this one really did.

A year ago today I spent all day waiting for that phone call. The one where our facilitator would say he had our boy's passport and we were ready to break him free; to start our new lives together.

That phone call did not come until 5 pm. The sun goes down in the fall/winter in Ukraine at 3:45 pm, so it was quite dark. We headed to the bank, then back to get my stuff and give the keys to the landlord ("What do you call in English?" "Landlord." "OK... like Lord of all Laaaaand!" -me and Niko, haha) Then we went to the orphanage to get my boy! We went to the office, handed them our donations, and I left baby Sam with Niko and the others while I went to get Maks changed into his own clothes. 75 layers of them, of course. He was not in his regular groupa's room, all the kids were gathered around for story time in another room. I got to see some kids I hadn't seen before. They were all so sweet and happy.

We went into that groupa's bedrooms, which was full of cribs with no sheets. I am hoping they were just being washed, because I don't feel like that orphanage would be the type to keep babies on plastic mattresses with no sheets. But I don't know for sure.

One of the nannies helped me get him dressed while I took pictures.

Eventually, Niko came to find us and I picked him up and carried him out. Maks blew kisses to all of his friends and they all said, "Paka paka, mama!" It broke my heart, but I had to focus on the joy.

We got back to the office and they gave me his file (which included his baptismal certificate, two crosses,  and medical info) and some medicine for his eye. Niko carried Maks and I carried Sam, and Maks smiled ear to ear looking over his shoulder at me. I wish I had a picture, but it was too dark to take good ones.

We got into the car, and headed to Kiev. It was a 2 hour drive, but he was happy the entire time.

He watched all the lights, junked out on cookies, "talked" to Nico, and just had a blast.

When we got into our apartment, it was pretty late at night, so I got him ready for bed, but he wouldn't let me leave his sight. This sweet boy wanted me to hold his hand while he fell asleep, but I needed to do embassy paperwork, so I stood in the livingroom with my iPad on the tv so he could see me, and made sure I did not leave his sight until he was asleep. It was so utterly sweet, and I couldn't believe it.

When you prepare for adoption, you have to expect anything. Many of these children have traumatic histories, or do not transition well. I was prepared for that. I was waiting for that. I was waiting for temper tantrums, fear, mourning, anything... but it never happened. Our boy was lucky enough to have been in a decent orphanage, with strong bonds to his caregivers (this is not typical!!) All of the prayers that had been said on behalf of us and our sweet boy had worked. His heart was ready for us. He was ours.

Gotcha, Maksimka. Forever and ever.