To my very best friend…the greatest husband anyone could ask for…the most wonderful father…
Happy birthday, Nathan! I love you!
To my very best friend…the greatest husband anyone could ask for…the most wonderful father…
Happy birthday, Nathan! I love you!
Two years ago, yesterday, a judge signed off on the paperwork that authorized us to be Max’s forever family. Things have been hectic around here so, even though I actually remembered, I forgot to post about it yesterday! On May 16, 2011, all of our lives changed in so many ways…and in every single one of those ways, we are all so very blessed!!
Here is Max, while we were still in Russia (hence no car seat), in May 2011, the little spider monkey that he was.
And here he is, 2 years later.
Max, Daddy and I love you SO much, buddy…and we are so privileged to be your daddy and mama!
Not long ago, on our way home from church one Wednesday night, we decide to stop and get a treat from Starbucks. Nathan likes some decaf iced something-or-another while my and the boys’ tastes run more akin to peppermint hot chocolate.
So we ordered a small hot chocolate for the kiddos and split it into 2 kids’ cups. I was a little nervous about Max because I had heretofore just put a little bit into a sippy cup for him. He’s not known for his grace when drinking out of a cup…and hot (warm) chocolate in a regular coffee cup – in the car – made me a little nervous.
I almost couldn’t watch…but then I couldn’t stop myself.
With Nathan driving and iliya and I looking on in amazement…
Max literally guzzled – nay – sucked his drink down in less than a minute.
You have the visual from a movie of a person who’s incredibly thirsty and puts down an entire glass of whatever without taking a single breath?
That was Max. And it was hilarious.
Maybe you had to’ve been there. :)
I apologize for the plethora of Max videos these days…except, well, I really don’t actually apologize. I guess what I mean is that my videos are a little Max-heavy these days…you know, like they used to be Iliya-heavy when he was going through spurts of development (well, and when he was an only child). Max has taken such huge developmental leaps in just the past few weeks and I am trying to get so many moments caught on video. I’m truly amazed at how far he has come in 2 years.
Here’s an example of him “reading.” I can read him a story one time and then he will flip back through the book and pretty much read it back to me. He seems to have such great comprehension (or memory, at the very least) when it come to books.
Here, he “reads” The Very Busy Spider, by Eric Carle.
First, I want to say – to my mother and to Nathan’s mom – Happy Mother’s Day! I love you both and am so thankful for you on this very special day. And to all the other moms in my life – both family and friend – I also hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day, too!
My mother’s day weekend has been a bit crazy to say the least! I’m exhausted (story of my life!) so this post will be pretty short so that I can make it to bed at a decent hour.
Last Thursday morning, Max wandered into my room well before I ever woke up, saying, “I’m sick, mommy” and “I have a little fever.” I checked his temp but he seemed to be normal…but what you see next is not so normal.
This child very rarely (never) wakes up and wants to come lay back down. He was sort of lethargic, so even though the other signs pointed to him being okay…it was sort of ominous that he came and let Iliya be his “nurse” for the first hour of the morning rather than get up & at’em like he normally does.
Although he seemed okay for most of the day, he started coughing Thursday afternoon and night. Thus began Round #?? of this sickness he acquires every couple/few months. Friday was pretty pitiful, too, and he also started running a low grade fever.
Saturday, we had plans to run our first Fun Run – it was a Mother’s Day event hosted by a local adoption agency. Iliya had been SUPER excited about it, looking forward to the day of the race. We woke up on Saturday morning and Max still had a low grade fever but it didn’t seem too bad. Figuring that he would feel poorly at home or out in the beautiful (perfect, really – overcast and comfortable) weather, I decided to go ahead and take both boys. I didn’t let Max out of the stroller, about which he wasn’t happy with me (there was a cool bouncy slide he wanted to play on), but we managed.
Finally, the last of the 5K participants crossed the finish line so it was time to line up for the Fun Run. Max was still ill at me for not letting him out of the stroller, but once we left and were on our way, he started enjoying himself. Iliya convinced my sister to run with him so they took off and before long, even she was eating his dust.
He didn’t “win” the race, but he finished with a huge grin on his face and was SO proud of himself to have won a medal for finishing his first official run.
Saturday afternoon, Nathan surprised me with a beautiful arrangement of flowers! This isn’t the best photograph…but they are totally beautiful!
Saturday evening, Max’s temp spiked and began a very long night. (a very, very long night in which I
Before bedtime last night, Iliya couldn’t hold out any longer. He gave me a card he had created – it was a posterboard that was folded over in half and made a giant card. And I. loved. it.
Hallmark has absolutely nothing on the creation of a child.
And today was pretty well an extension of yesterday, in terms of Max’s health and Iliya’s sweetness. I am SUCH a blessed mama – blessed with the best husband and children a girl could ever imagine having! I took Max to the doctor this morning, found out that it really is “just” his usual sickness…no strep, no flu, nothing but what seems to some sort of viral sinus infection that makes him feel completely miserable. We ate lunch at my sister’s house and then came home for an early bedtime.
So my Mother’s Day weekend really embodied what being a mother is all about – taking care of children, being exhausted, and savoring sweet moments together.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Last year, my inlaws made a trip over to our house and helped us build a raised bed so I could grow some veggies. I had been wanting a garden SO badly but always felt like I didn’t have a spot for it. Our backyard is home to 3 ginormous oak trees – all three of which are both a blessing and a curse (although, if one is looking for a silver lining, we do like to say they are the gift that keeps on giving all. year. long.) and – as I’ve mentioned before, one of the downsides to having all these trees is that our backyard is not conducive to having a garden. Thankfully, we have the perfect place in our front/side yard and that’s where our garden bed is located. It’s perfect, because it’s not too visible from the road, but we still encounter it everytime we drive into our driveway, so there’s no forgetting to tend the garden.
ANYWAY. So, our garden was so wildly (very, very wildly) successful, last year, that we decided to take it on again this year. One of the lessons I learned was – well, to quote myself – “next year, i will start out as a minimalist and by the middle of the summer, i’m sure i will be much happier with the average garden i’ll be tending”
But I think I forgot that lesson a little bit. So let’s just start with our process of getting the garden ready for this year.
First, we bought some plants.
When they come in the little seedling cups, veggie plants are all so quaint and tiny. They fit in the back of my car with no problem. Vegetable seedlings are sort of like kittens – you know, so cute and small and you can’t resist getting one…or two…and then overnight, they’ve gone from these precious little things to huge monsters that are totally crazy in every way.
Well, at least that’s how it is for me. Even though I used a garden planner this year, and even though I feel like I set everything out nicely and efficiently….I fell for all the little tiny veggie plants and as a result, am not going to start out as a minimalist this year.
Anyway, moving on. Over the winter, we had let the garden bed grow up a good bit. We didn’t do a winter planting (though I do plan to do one this year…maybe) so the grass and oregano and mint took over everything (yes, I’d been advised to plant the crawling plants like oregano and mint in containers, rather than in the garden, but at the time, I’d already planted them last year and got too lazy to dig them up). Before we got into the process of preparing the garden bed, I dug up any of the herbs that were still in the garden and replanted them into containers (except for the rosemary, because it was already so well established and I didn’t want to risk killing it).
As you may (or may not) know, my intention is to garden organically. And I HATE weeding (yes, I’m that gardener – a lazy one). And, our garden had so much grass in it that I really wasn’t sure how we were going to get it out without using a weed/grass killer. So I did my research and learned about the idea of killing grass by placing cardboard over it and then dirt over the cardboard (some call this lasagna gardening, but as far as I can tell, actual lasagna gardening is WAY more involved than what we did). The cardboard will suffocate the grass underneath it and then as time goes along, it will break down and – I’ve heard – earthworms LOVE it.
So I saved plain cardboard shipping boxes for a couple weeks. I removed all the tape and labels that I could and then laid them out in the garden bed. As you can see, we tried to use things that didn’t have any colored ink, but ran out of boxes (actually, I had a stash that I forgot about and didn’t find until later in the day when it was too late) and had to cut up a few paper shopping bags. Those had colorful ink on them, but I decided I wasn’t going to worry about that – surely a little bit of ink is better – in the long run – than roundup.
Iliya “helped” us – mostly by staying out of the way and picking blooms off of our camellia bush. Here, he’s located a double bloom. Very cool. Max stayed close by, and played in the dirt or just by himself until naptime.
After the cardboard was down, we unloaded a yard of dirt/compost mix. Thank goodness for family, who let us borrow their vehicles for such jobs!
Next, I got everything planted as I had planned out using the online garden planner.
Finally, it gets very hot and – often – dry in the summer so we needed to rig up a sprinkler to keep everything hydrated through the summer. Nathan had the absolutely awesome idea of threading a soaker hose through the garden as our irrigation system. I loved the idea so I researched it a bit online and found that it’s not a novel idea but one that many people just don’t seem to use all that often. So I read the most pertinent tips and Nathan got the soaker hose set up and, at last, made a trip to our local nursery to pick up some pine straw mulch. In the beginning, we had decided to mulch the garden out of sheer laziness and not wanting to have the garden taken over by weeds and grass – and then found it was a side benefit to keeping the soaker hose from becoming dried out (and to keep the moisture retained in the soil). Win-win!
Sidenote: All of my herbs are in containers this year.
Around suppertime, we were finished. Exhausted, hungry, but done. And I had the nasty hands/fingernails to prove it.
That was about 4 weeks ago. Almost overnight, everything started to flourish. And here we are, as of this past weekend:
In the garden bed, I planted:
In our containers, we have:
So I would say that it’s not a minimalist garden at all…and I will probably be fighting my way through it with a machete, come this summer. But it should also give our family some delicious food and, hopefully, some opportunity to can things like salsa.
It’s a good start and I’m happy with it. I’ll keep you posted.
In keeping with the catching up theme of my blog at this moment, here’s another happened sometime last month thing I meant to post and never got around to it.
I even uploaded the video and photo and just never put it all into a nice, tidy blog post.
Ah well…so you get to see it now. :)
So anyway, a few weeks ago, I had sent Max back to the bathroom to get ready for his bath. He usually runs back there and starts throwing toys in the bathtub. But on this particular night, he did something a little different. The kid is a toothbrush snatcher – if you don’t watch your toothbrush or keep it up where he can’t get it (or, now that he’s climbing so well, that’s not even a good option), he will snatch it up and start brushing his teeth with it. I’m pretty sure every toothbrush in our house needs a good Max-cleansing. :)
So here you go….Max brushes his teeth…
I’m so far behind. I had uploaded a bunch of photos early LAST month, knowing that I would want to do a photo post when I had some downtime on the blog. Turns out (and I should know this from previous experience), downtime on the blog = too busy IRL to do anything other than survive…including posting already-uploaded photos.
So let’s make a quick trip back in time because, for whatever reason, I thought these were important enough to upload. :)
Did I mention, when I was in Russia, how much I loved the kasha we ate? The sweet sisters at the Catholic mission sent me home with a pound of oats (just like the ones we ate in-country!) so I could try my hand at it once I got home. I found a recipe that helped me with ingredient ratios…I tweaked them…and ended up making some pretttttty good kasha! At the time, Nathan was out of town, both boys were sick…so I was the only one that got to enjoy it. But it was pretty spot-on and delicious!
During the almost-2-weeks that Iliya was sick with the flu, we totally could’ve bought stock in some tissue company. Bless him, he was miserable.
Sweet Max had some hair troubles. Thankfully, he’s had a trim since then and the troubles are not quite so…troublesome.
Here’s a random cell phone photo of our spring mantle. Not a great photo, but I do love the mantle. Have I mentioned how glad I am that my brother convinced me it would be great for us to paint the brick and built-ins around our fireplace? Best decision ever, for this house!
Both boys were so sick that we missed going to spend time with family for Easter. Their fevers broke on Saturday evening so we took them to church on Easter Sunday.
I tried out my hand at making faux Reese’s peanut butter eggs. They were SO delish!
We were “egged” by someone *cough, cough -mysister- cough, cough* who came and planted a bunch of easter eggs in our front yard. The boys had a blast and got to feel included in an Easter festivity.
The Easter bunny visited our house for the first time, ever (we’re usually visiting family) and that was a pretty neat experience! It looks like the EB went all out, but really, the baskets are on the smaller side and built up in the bottom. We try not to go too crazy at holidays but we also use the opportunity to give useful gifts (which probably means that our kids will get their wives things like vacuum cleaners someday, if they learn by our example!)
Iliya’s creativity at work – using a half of an Easter egg, he created Gracie the Red-Nosed Dog.
Gracie the couch. Sometimes I think, that poor dog…but then I think she probably loves the attention. Except that she is getting old and I have to remind Iliya that she’s not a spry young thing that can be wrestled with.
I finally invested in an ice cream maker and Iliya and I have experimented with chocolate/peanut butter and triple chocolate. Next up, I think we are going to try mint chocolate chip.
I sort of think Max liked the ice cream a little bit. Not sure what gives me that idea. :)
One day, I was packing something into plastic food bags and Iliya saw a picture of a toast smiley face on the side of the box of bags. He decided that’s what he wanted for lunch so I gave him the supplies and he went to town with it.
Max loves to pick up Iliya’s math worksheets and “do math” after Iliya’s finished with them. It’s not uncommon for me to hear “six plus six” or “two equals” or some other random math words strung together. It’s cute. :)
“Hey mama! Get a picture of me! I’m George Washington!”
I received this in the mail. Apparently, someone must know something that I do not.
I received several Amazon shipments a few weeks ago and Iliya grabbed the boxes up to create a home for his stuffed animal friends. He got busy with the scissors, cutting out doors.
He made a kitchen and a bedroom for his friends and even a couple weeks later, this is still set up in his bedroom.
Silly, silly, sleepy boy.
Iliya, packing what he refers to as his “Prepared Bag.” I found his old school backpack and he decided to make it useful…it has water, snacks, a flashlight, gum, crayons, and a few other things that would be helpful in a pinch. He carries it everywhere these days.
I forgot to mention that Iliya lost another tooth! He’s got one more to go before we get a respite for a couple years (hopefully!).
And I think that’s it for now!
Tonight, I turned the oven on 350* and put our dinner in to cook.
About 30 minutes later, I finished up our veggie side and called everyone to the table. Before they made it to the kitchen, I went to open the oven door to take out our dinner and noticed something a little….off.
I lost all words but knew something needed to be done because – even though it wasn’t IN the oven – that part of the oven gets very hot. Plus, the poor lizard was freaking out a bit, scrambling about. So trying to keep my voice calm, I turned the oven off and said, “umm…Nathan? Nathan? Umm…. Hurry up and come here. Hurry, please! I need your help!”
He later told me he was expecting there to be fire emergency….so he was probably a bit relieved that it was just a lizard in the hot clock of our oven.
We were quite perplexed as to how to get the cover off the clock…I was about to call my dad (who is the appliance guru) but was afraid we didn’t have time. We decided to try unscrewing a few screws before calling up the big guns. Iliya was SO wanting to help, but we didn’t want him to get burned. We tried to prepare him for the very real possibility that the lizard might not make it.
Nathan grabbed some gloves while I pulled a screwdriver out of the drawer.
We had to disconnect some wires to pull the entire panel away from the oven.
Finally it came loose and we took it outside. Max had to bring along his own (pretend) lizard.
The boys were full of wonder, but the lizard had stopped moving and become listless. Nathan was afraid that it had died but I kept noticing that it was still breathing rapidly despite its not moving.
Finally, Nathan got it out. The lizard jumped down and took a rest on the patio….he wasn’t even phased by the boys trying to get a look at him. He looked a bit shell-shocked but was breathing. His head and tail were quite scorched but he seemed okay otherwise.
After a couple minutes, he scampered off and we lost sight of him.
Moral of the story: there isn’t one…well, except for all lizards everywhere who can’t even read this blog post. But I sure am glad that silly thing came through alive. Oh, and as Iliya and Max are concerned, their dad is the #1 hero who unequivocally saved the day.
I’m slowly getting back in the swing of things…and I just remembered I didn’t share about Iliya’s latest tooth loss!
There’s really not much to share…except that he pulled this one all by himself – worked on wiggling it for several days and then one day, he was working on it at the bathroom mirror when he ran into the living room to share his newest loss. It was exciting! I don’t know if – the fact that he can pull his own teeth – is more exciting for him or me. I just know I’m glad he can do it! :)
And the tooth fairy forgot to make an appearance that night! We were headed out of town for a quick overnight trip the next night, so she wouldn’t be able to make up for it then. But thank goodness, she made up for it the next day, before we left to go out of town. She came at some point when we were all in the front part of the house playing together. Magic! :)
That’s the story of Iliya’s latest tooth loss. It looks like he’s got about 2 more to lose before we’ve got a break in tooth-losing. Thank goodness! :)
I came home to 2 sick kiddos.
Between their sickness and my jetlag, it has taken a solid week for us to get back on track.
I have a lot of stuff to catch up on, but my blog is, unfortunately, toward the bottom of that list.
… I’m just thankful that our days of laying on the couch and doing absolutely nothing but watching tv and snoozing are coming to an end.
We are finally back in the land of the living.
March 25, 2007 ~ Nathan and I arrived in Vladivostok, Russia for the first time ever.
March 25, 2013 ~ yesterday ~ I arrived home from Vladivostok, having been on a trip unrelated to adopting.
It’s hard to believe that I was just a week off from being in the very region we met Iliya six years ago.
Yes, today is the sixth anniversary of the day we met this cute, crying, chubby little baby.
My, how time passes…and how life changes.
I am sitting on the shuttle headed back toward my house. Last night was a crazy travel experience but I am almost home and thankful for it. Also, thankful for ALL of our family who banded together to help take care of the kids while Nathan was out-of-pocket some of the time that I’ve been gone. Both kiddos came down with the flu so it’s been an interesting ride for them all…and I’m ready to get back and hug my sickies.
For now, I will leave you with a photo. Of ALL the sights we saw this past week…none was as sweet as this one right here.
After we landed yesterday, we were greeted at the airport by the shuttle from our hotel. We boarded the shuttle and – though the hotel website mentions a quick 10 minute ride to the hotel – were taken on a wild through winding residential, snowy roads…almost hitting a few pedestrians in the process (there is often a seeming war between pedestrians and automobiles here).
We began wondering where we were headed when we finally made it to our hotel – a Swiss chalet- style place. It seemed very nice.
The lady at the front desk spoke excellent English and we later learned that the hotel is owned (at least in part) by an American. It has large rooms, small rooms, and even smaller, economy rooms – which is where we were located. If we hadn’t already become close throughout this trip….these rooms would’ve done it! :)
Jess and Megan had never been to Moscow, so they wanted to get the city tour…even though it would be the quick and
On the train ride, I commented on how surprised I was that everything had English translation with it. Even 2 years ago, when we visited Moscow, there was no English to be found.
Of course, I spoke waaaaay too soon. Once we were off the European-style train, we were back to reality. And we did NOT get lost in Moscow…no, we sure did not.
Actually, we didn’t get lost, exactly. Just a bit turned around. In my experience, there is no such thing as a sense of direction in this ginormous city. But we tried the walk anyway…and my experience held true….
(hint: This is not the Red Square :))
Finally, after about 30 freeeeeezing minutes, we decided we could probably walk for 2 days and not get anywhere…so we turned back and decided to try the Metro. Thanks to many unhelpful folks and 2 super kind English gentlemen, we made it on the correct Metro line that would take us right to the city center. Three stops going at the speed of light took us 10 minutes…so we tried to figure out just how long it really would’ve taken us, if we’d been walking…even in the right direction!
We arrived at Red Square and it was SO cold. Even though we each had layers on, it was such a bitter cold that we quickly lost feeling in our fingers and toes (and our ears….totally our fault for those of us who didn’t have hats!)…so we made our rounds inside the Red Square before needing to warm up in the GUM shopping mall.
Here we are, in the city centre. We were so completely cold that we just randomly snapped photos as quickly as we could. If it had been warmer, we probably would’ve located someone to take a photo of all of us together.
We made our way into the square and were so disappointed to find a LOT of construction in the middle. I am so glad that we got to see the Red Square with no construction when we were there with Iliya (the other times I’ve been, there has been something major happening in the middle of the square).
I told Jess and Megan that all the work being done really causes the experience to lose a good deal of impact. But they were still happy to say they’d been….after all, how many people can truly say they’ve had the experience?
Our group photo in front of St. Basil’s was pitiful but we were so cold, I didn’t bother asking anyone to retake it for us. Ah, well.
We booked it into GUM, where we thawed out before heading back toward the Metro station.
It was a very sluggish trip back via the aeroexpress train….the trip wore us out, so we were very quiet on the way back. Once we arrived, as we waited for the shuttle to take us back to the hotel, some of the girls finished their souvenir shopping while Megan and I took advantage of the Starbucks we found. Yum.
And after getting back to the hotel, we got some sleep (or tried to, anyway). Heather left early, early this morning and the rest of us will be leaving for the airport in about 10 minutes.
So for the final time, from Russia, I say….Dasvidanya!
So…we’ve made it back to Moscow and are moving in on having been awake for 24 hours. There are some kids above us in the hotel who are stomping around and I’m feeling grouchy. I just found out that Iliya has the flu and though I know he is in perfectly capable and loving hands, it still makes me feel incredibly guilty to be halfway across the world while he’s so sick.
Anyway, so with all of that, this will be a quick post to recap our final day in Vladivostok.
The last day of the conference went really well. Fr. Myron, Drs. Slava and Tanya, and Orphans at Play received nice certificates. The sisters from the Catholic church shared several of their experiences working with the children in baby homes.
I would say, one of the really exciting things we saw was networking. And not just any networking….but that it was being done in a country where that’s just not always the norm. It was so great to learn how much the folks from different agencies perceived the training and wanted to learn more and more.
After we got back to the hotel, we rested for a bit, did a bit of laundry and them had a special visit! Jess and Megan went on a tour of the city with the sisters while Heather, Corinne, and I went to dinner with our very dear friend, Lana! You’ll never guess where we went.
Yes! The Vlad Inn! For old times’ sake of course. :) We had such a lovely time and were so happy to get to see and visit with Lana for a while.
As we were on our way back downtown, it occurred to me that I’d never been downtown at night…so Lana stopped for me to get a photo. It was beautiful….and of course, I was in a hurry so my photo could’ve turned out much
For our final farewell, the sisters thought it would be fun to see what we Americans thought of kvass. Kvass is a popular probiotic drink in Russia that sort of tastes like root beer (unless you drink beet kvass which is a completely different taste, from what I gather). Anyway, we Americans didn’t like it all that well…but at least we tried it!
Today, we were up & at’em dark and early….flew for 8+ hours and then went on a short, crazy, freezing excursion around Moscow. More on that later. Good night!