kaluga park

kaluga park

Friday, December 30, 2011

What a Christmas!

We have had such an amazing year in 2011!  Our girls are growing up to be sweet little ladies, like their precious Mom, and we have my little man with us too.  We had a wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Gathering with our extended families was a real joy this Holiday season as we were able to introduce sweet Vasa to everyone.  He did well meeting and playing with his cousins, Aunts and Uncles. 

Christmas was a new treat for Vasa too.  He adapted pretty quickly to the process.  He would wake up each morning with the girls and hunt for Alvason, our Elf, he loved looking for Baby Jesus everywhere and for Santa.  We met with Claire's god family and he was shocked to see that Santa, better known to us as Uncle Dennis.  Vasa jumped to be held by Uncle Dennis and repeatedly told everyone that he was Santa.  Uncle Dennis has a longer white beard so he fits the bill. 

As Christmas day approached Vasa and the girls helped Claire bake cookies, cakes and other fun Holiday treats.  He was happy to sit on the counter and lick spoons and beaters.  He is a natural, just like my girls, when it comes to baking and eating the leftovers.  I think all the kids were happy with their gifts from Santa and from all the family.  As usual, it was a bit over the top because we are lucky to have such great relationships with our extended family and everyone is so giving.  We were able to enjoy time with my family at my Mom's house and with Claire's family at Gigi's river place. 

DD and Vasa both received glider bikes from Santa and DD rode her bike through the house almost all day.  Unfortunately, it was raining so she was regulated to the house with her riding but it didn't slow her down at all.  Allie got a poor man's Smart Board, or a Udraw for the Wii, and she spent several hours drawing and playing her game that came along too.  Ava received a ditigal camera and took nearly 50 pictures documenting all that happened on Christmas day.  She also took pictures of Claire's decorations which will help for next year when it comes time to put it all out again.  Vasa played on his bike but complained that it was broken because he couldn't understand that he had to balance the bike on his own.  He is used to riding his two firetrucks and car which have four wheels so it was a bit of a challenge but after watching his professional sister DD he is getting the hang of it. 

Our Christmas with my family and Claire's yielded great gifts as well.  Clothes, toys, projects and loud trucks all came home from our time together.  I think most of our loot has found a home in each bedroom and everyone seems to be delighted.  Gigi took the girls shopping on Wednesday of this week to spend their gift cards and just like her Aunt Jill, Ava Kate, stayed out nearly all day looking for just the right pair of shoes...maybe even more than one! 

As I reflect on 2011, I am amazed by the changes we have seen in our family.  Our Father is so gracious to continue to bless us with health and togetherness.  Claire's amazing Dad continues to get great results from his post cancer reviews, Claire's sister, Jill and her husband JD are well, their boys continue to grow strong and more incredibly smart each day, Gigi is happy to share her free time loving on her six grandchildren taking them out to eat and to the movies,  my folks are happy and enjoying retirement - mom cares for her mother, plays with our kids and gets to finally have down time to read and rest while Dad does whatever needs to be done for others and sings with his group of old guys, Jay and Kaci are settling into their search for the perfect child via adoption and we pray with them through that journey. 

Of all the changes that have been apart of our 2011, I continue to thank my heavenly Father for the peace that is my wife!  She is such a solid and anchoring part of me.  I have never known a more loving, caring, sweet hearted person than Claire.  For almost 18 years now this brilliant and beautiful girl has been an incredible gift to me.  She is an amazing example of Christ in my everday.  It is because of her heart for Him that we have been afforded our little Vasa.  She listened, even in the face of my concerns, to her heart as Father led her toward adoption. 

As a Dad, I am trusting that Father will continue to expand my heart and lead me to be the man he created for my four children and for my wife.  He has shown me what it is to love outside myself.  While this is against my flesh - which strives for everything selfish - Father keeps reminding me that I am not my own and that His plans are always perfect! 

My girls and Vasa are incredible gifts to me that I am becoming more and more in love with each day.  Claire and I have discussed the tension that is very real between our selfish nature and the progressive nature of Christ which is slowing rooting deeper in our hearts.  It is from this Christ like nature that I pray I live each day.  It is from this ever expanding heart that I love my children and seek Father's heart for them. 

I am a blessed man!  Christmas this year has been like no other and I hope and pray that 2012 brings Claire and I deeper into His heart!  Thank you for those who have been in prayer for us during our exciting & wild 2011 and through the past 6 months as Vasa has grafted into our family!  We could never express how vital your prayers have been for us.  I am the proud Papa of four incredible children and the luckiest man alive to have Claire as my wife and best friend!  Love to you all!    

Saturday, December 10, 2011

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Vasa-here with us over 5 months!

Hard to believe how many changes that Vasa has made in such a short amount of time.  I've put off the update mainly because of lack of time (4 kids and it is getting near christmas) and I don't feel like an great writer, so I'm afraid that things will come out the wrong way.  But, I'll try my best.  First of all, I can't say enough how proud I have been of my other children.  They are so incredibly sweet to Vasa and more patient with him than I am the majority of the time.  They include him, mother him, teach him, love on him, etc.. --it has just been a testimony to watch.  Vasa is incredibly loving and sweet to them, too-not to mention how cute he is--makes it a little easier.

Each day, Vasa's English is improving.   It is so funny to see what things will come out of his mouth.  He is so outgoing, too, so it has been a change for me--my girls are much more reserved in public places.  He continues to speak to someone until he gets their attention.  "Hey man!  Whatcha doin?  How are you?"  It is usually fine until he says hey man to a woman.  I keep trying to tell him, you can be friendly, but just say hey-not hey man, hey woman.   At first, I was afraid this was a bad attachment sign.  But, he is just outgoing and friendly I think.  He never stops talking and needs updates on everyone's status at all times.  He just asked me, "What's Granny doing?"  We haven't seen her since before Thanksgiving, so I'm glad my 3 year old is reminding me we need to pay her a visit.

I'm having to get used to boys.  I think a lot of the things he does, people say--that's a boy.  An example--he still likes to play dog.  Yet, now it doesn't bother me--it's not an activity for attention or coping, it is just something he does when he is bored.  He was quiet, so I walked in the dining room to see what "my son the dog" was doing.  He had a chewed up straw in his mouth.  One of my dogs had found it and chewed it up.  He had it in his mouth.  I said, "Vasa!  We keep telling you we don't put things in our mouth!" He says, "Vasa a dog!  Sparkle (our dog) do dat!"  Like-lady, you know this!  But, I have to give the speech about germs and choking.

It has been very sweet to hear him say now in the past month, mama loves me, daddy loves me, etc.. and anyone else that comes to mind.  He now willingly gives kisses and asks to sit in my lap--the lap thing doesn't last long, b/c he doesn't like to sit still, but it is still sweet.  I was happy to see him turn away hugs and being picked up when meeting some new friends and family members--thought that was a good sign.

He tested positive for tuberculosis-latent not active (lungs are clear and not contagious), but he is now on a medication he will take for 9 months.  It is a liquid and he hates taking it.  I don't think it tastes that bad, but he has to drink a good bit of it and he gets sick on the toilet about 2 hours later.  Last night, we have tried giving it to him at bedtime and we are hoping it helps.  We tried to switch him to the pill--heard it was a little easier with less side effects, but he doesn't weigh enough for the mg tablet--he has to gain 2 pounds to take half.  As far as the upset tummy, food helps a little and the doctor basically said--sorry about that!  I've been trying my best to fatten him up, but it's hard when he is sick to his stomach and is probably not absorbing the calories.  Keeping my fingers crossed that the night thing will work.  At his check up, though, we were pleased that he is now in the 8th percentile for height and the 10th for weight.  He is still a pretty good eater.  Loves, loves fruit--hard to put on two pounds, though, with fruit.

He is going to speech once a week--not sure the 30 minutes is helping greatly, but it gives me at least an idea of what he doesn't know.  We are trying to use more pronouns and positional words now and colors.  I'm having a harder time at speech than he is, b/c it drives me crazy to hear her ask him a question that I know he knows the answer, but he answers quickly without listening or thinking.   Like-"Do you eat a policeman--while pointing to him--Vasa answers, yes!" I think he might start school after Christmas, but my first choice in schools doesn't have an opening.  Little bummed--he just is getting a little bored if I am not pulling activities out for him all the time, etc..   I am so glad he is soaking it all up and wants to play with mommy all day, but it is hard to fold laundry and cook a meal with Vasa begging for mommy to play.  Trying to not let all of those household chores overwhelm me, but it is hard.  I have tried to be disciplined and even have some sit down time for school--it has been good practice and he loves any activity -for the most part-that we do.  Today he sat down and wrote some letters on his own--one was actually an A and one was an S-couldn't believe it.

Still working on what I think is an adoption thing--sit down if you get tired, read a book, etc.. He gets wild and crazy eyed and we either take a nap or have a quiet break in the dark with me holding him--think he has stimulation overload at that point.  In the beginning, though, I thought it was happening all of the time. Now it is getting better.  Always trying to guess--what is an adoption thing, a boy thing, a three year old thing, or personality thing.  He likes to be in charge and call all of the shots.  I probably don't let him call as many shots as I should--but trying desperately to make sure he knows who is in charge.  His latest when he doesn't want to do something is "Mommy-don't!!"  I even heard a ne kasool (russian for I didn't say) yesterday--I hadn't heard that one in a while.  I really haven't heard any Russian in a while.  Kind of sad, because I wished that we had known an affective way to help him adapt, bond, and keep his Russian somehow.  Hopefully, he can maybe pick it back up in the future.   So pleased that he is communicating so well, though.

He now tells us when he has to potty-hooray--and even goes most of the time at the house on his own.  He loves to sing (and talk).  His favorite song is still twinkle twinkle little star, but he sings many others now.  It was very sweet after church Sunday to hear him spontaneously sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. I had not taught him that-his sunday school teacher had.   Very sweet--he also tells me often, "Jesus loves me."  Makes me teary.  Jesus loved him enough to unite us as a family--we are so blessed.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

quick post update

My battery is going to die soon on the computer, but I had a few minutes to myself and wanted to make a quick post.  Vasa is doing great!  I can't believe how much he is talking.  Each day, he surprises me with a new phrase.  Yesterday, for example, my mom walked off at stein mart and he said, "Gigi, come back!"  Other times, I shake my head with a little frustration--he is not the best listener.  I still struggle with him not paying attention--thinking he would learn so much more if he would tune in a little.  Yesterday, somebody asked him if he had any dogs and he said no--then when asked what their names were, he said Joshua Vasa.  Uggh!  Listen, I wanted to shake him--you know this.  Yes, you have 2 dogs that you love, and yes, you know their names--you talk about them constantly.

He is still home with me--trying to practice things he needs to know for school--tell me when you need to go potty, ask me when you want to go outside, when we are doing something-don't just walk off when you get disinterested.  He is going to my gym once a week and the library, so I feel like that is helping him practice listening, sitting still, and following instructions.  Also a blessing--I was a little discouraged when we went to have him evaluated for speech--actually pleased with how he did, but kicking myself for feeling like I had him tested too early.  I felt like it wasn't a fair evaluation b/c of the 2nd language thing--comparing him to someone whose 1st language is english.  Also, a little discouraged when they told me that insurance would not cover it and it would be 90 dollars a week.  Wasn't sure he really needed it, so I said no, we'll wait.  I kept second guessing myself--maybe I'm not doing enough--but got a call back a few weeks later that our insurance would cover most of it.  Great!!  We went for our first appointment this week.  I was pleased that he did well, but continued to feel like I went into the wrong profession--30 minute session where they played with toys and got him to talk about them--90 bucks a pop--I should have done that--any child could probably be tolerated for 30 minutes :).

He continues to have new experiences each day--love seeing the joy on his face.  Today, he got to ride on a toy train at my gym--he thought it was the best!!  Can't wait to see his face at halloween when people just give him candy for opening his bag.  He's going to love that.  One last thing.  Went to hobby lobby--showed him santa and the christmas trees.  Not sure if he knows who santa is and why he is a big deal.  His response was, "oh barney?"  ooh is where for him--sweet thing--maybe we can say barney brought his toys this year.  Still doesn't watch more that 5 minutes of a show before he is finished--mean mommy makes him sit there, though for one show on occasion.

Favorite word--ah uh--went from ni kasul to no to ah uh.  Trying to get him to understand you don't say no to mommy and daddy.  He likes to be in charge.  

Monday, September 12, 2011

Preschool Drop-Out

Wow-this Wednesday will mark our 3 month anniversary since we have picked up Vasa.  It has gone by so fast.  He is also making huge accomplishments each day.  He is so precious and just has a love for life.  Everything always seems so exciting to him--new things are literally jump up and down exciting.  It is refreshing to see--there are so many things in life that I wish I could show uninhibitedly how excited I was like he does.  His English each day is making improvements.  We are hearing 3 word phrases sometimes--Vasa do it, juice is yummy...  I'm going to be a little annoying by listing all of his words just to allow myself to see all of the words he know so far and to have a record of them.  We think he knows around a hundred-- good morning, night night, all sisters names, mama, daddy, papa, Oscar, Sparkle, puppy, 4 grandparents names, Jill, Buddy, Jack, no, yes, eat, milk, juice, water, cup, hot, school, work, coffee, yucky, oh no, peek a boo, uh oh, beach, pool, washing machine, spin spin, dump truck, bus, car, open, big, tv, ouch, boo boo, flush, several potty words and anatomically correct phrases, hands, wash, tummy, teeth, hair, bear, apple, banana, cracker, cookie, door, walk, up, be nice, calm down, bicycle, man, woman, girl, boy, baby, doctor, guitar, monkey, march, e i e i o, round and round, outside, I love u, sure others but pretty good list.  We saw a speech pathologist and should be starting soon.  Pretty good start, though.

On to preschool--I was planning on starting him after christmas, but decided after talking to the preschool director that maybe starting now wouldn't hurt.  It's just 3 days a week and they are all learning routines and such now.  Well, Josh and I really didn't think he was ready, but thought we'd try.  I stayed the majority of the day.  It was kind of a tough first day, because he struggles a little with new environments and feeling the need to explore each nook and cranny in each.  We had a new classroom, new playground, new chapel, new music room, new classroom bathroom.  He did ok--he didn't want to sit still at appropriate times, but for the most part, he was ok.   He was having to learn to sit, learn to walk in a line, learn to sit at the table, learn to line up at proper times, etc... but he was doing ok.  Had a blip when he used the bathroom across the hall and instead of coming back to his room, he went to the next room and started eating their food.  Kind of funny but hate he is still looking for his next meal--hoping that will end soon.   I left for about 30 minutes to get something to eat and to see how he would do without me there.  During the 30 minutes, he ran out of the classroom and down the hall (one rule we hadn't covered--you have to stay in the classroom :)), he dumped out a bucket of blocks and kicked them all around the room while laughing--what fun, and decided he was finished with his shoes--oh knows the word finished--and took them off.  I think it all flustered the teacher-totally understand-and they recommended moving him to the 2 year old class.  I felt like that wasn't the right move for him.  I want him to learn to speak well, how to properly behave, and continue using the potty, so I was afraid that it wasn't worth his time and the precious teacher's energy right now.  Also, I was afraid he was being too stimulated at school.  There are so many little things at the house we are still trying to tackle.  Look at someone when they are speaking to you.  Sometimes you have to sit still.  Even though something looks like food or smells like food, it may not be food.  People need personal space--they are strangers--they may not want you to touch them.  You have to ask before you use something that is not yours.  Funny example this morning.  He loves all of his sisters' lip balms.  They leave them laying around and I remind him each time he is using them--please ask first before you use it--it is not yours.  Today he grabbed what he thought was lip balm and applied it to his lips--a bunch--it was a glue stick that was left out.  I feel like some of it are attachment issues anyway that are surely best handled at home.  We started a class at my gym which he loves, so I'm hoping that will be a fun outing with kids his own age.    Maybe after Christmas we'll rethink pre-k.  

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Stroller pushing/dump truck watching

Right now I am watching vasa push the stroller around the front yard. He now is saying watch mama. Trying to watch him but also give a blog update. Each day, his English is getting just a little better. He told a man today that his name was Joshua vasa--first time he has said it without being prompted--I was very proud! We have spent most of the last few days watching the dump trucks down the street. They are working on two lots, so each day many many dump trucks come through. He loves trucks of any kind and calls them all dump trucks.

We have allowed vasa to be around one of our dogs, sparkle, the last few days unless he gets the "crazy teeth" as josh and I call them. He gets this look on his face that tells you he has lost all self control and the dog goes up once again.

He still takes such delight in seeing cars. A lady pulled up beside our stroller to talk a second and vasa unbuckled out of his stroller and tried to climb in her car. Still so exciting to see the inside of a car!!

He has such a joy for life and is so pleasant the majority of the time. Baby gates are still a part of our everyday lives, though.  He still gets into the shampoo across the house, daddy's guitar, ipods, etc...  Nothing really bad--I just have a hard time keeping an eye on him when he is across the house and I'm trying to do laundry or whatever.

Day 2 of my attempt to finish the blog--today I went to olive garden with my mother and grandmother.  Get there and wow--we are by the emergency exit and they won't let us have a high chair.  Vasa sits beside me in the booth, but I was missing the high chair.  He had already had a "busy" (into everything kind of morning) morning so I was afraid what the lunch may be like.  He was, for the most part, good.  He didn't want to eat anything, though, so he was too interested in trying to look out the window, touch the man in the booth behind us, pretend he needed to go poop twice, and dropping everything he could under the table, taking his shoes off, and shouting at nana under the table.  After a few time outs in the bathroom, I was thankful it was time to go.  Josh and I call those "a working man's lunch".  Of course, when we have boxed the food up and walking out, Vasa decides he wants to eat.  Sorry, bud.  Maybe after your nap I'm looking forward to :).  We walked out (circling ever so carefully by the full tray that I feared vasa would pull down).

Vasa does finally seem, though, to be our child.  For the first week or so, I still felt like we were babysitting someone else's child.  I'm glad to finally have that "feeling".  I've had to swallow my pride a little bit, though here lately.  I have always taken a lot of pride in my child's behavior in public/school/that kind of thing.  When Vasa is cutting up in public, I'm having a hard time not explaining to others, "He's acting like this because I've only had him a few months."  How terrible is that?  I haven't really said it in those words, but I think it.  Ha ha.   Need to get over the caring what others at Publix or Olive Garden think. :)  God has a lot to teach me through Vasa.  I only hope God will use us to teach him.  Thank you for all of the "that is just what boys do" comments that others have given me.  I really do appreciate it--honestly.  I was the one that would argue that girls can be a lot like boys--come to my house--yet that was before I had a boy.  Now I think I'm understanding.  

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wow!! End of July already?

Josh and I have had a great summer with the girls and Vasa--our head is still spinning, though.  My brain fails to function at full capacity each day--we feel like we have a newborn even though he is three--just by the way our body feels.  We are sleeping ok, but each day is full of physical and mental use--running after Vasa (where is he, now?), shuttling the girls here and there to camps and things with their friends, playing referee among the girls (she scared me on purpose--Addison), keeping baby gates up for Vasa.

Vasa continues to be such a delight.  He has a killer smile.  The girls have fun with him and think he is very funny.  He seems to take such joy in the everyday things still that we take for granted.  It's funny to still see him enjoy turning on and off lights, turning on the fan in every room, opening each drawer and cabinet, turning on and off the tv, brushing and brushing his teeth, loading the washing machine, ....  goes on and on.  We are trying to not let some of them annoy us at times.  One of his favorites is slamming each door as he enters each room.  Our hallways seem to echo the load slam.

Vasa is using the potty well--I'm thrilled.  He even goes by himself at times and we're working on standing and peeing--my walls have never been scrubbed more.  We are visiting all of the bathrooms in each establishment in town, so let me know if you need to know where the bathroom is if we are out together.  He loves to go when he is bored just to flush and throw away paper towels.

His dinner habits are getting better.  He is trying to stick to eating off of his plate and we are trusting him with a plate in front of him.  Two weeks ago he was still shoveling all of his food in his mouth at one time if you put it in front of him.  We trying hard to keep him from feeding the dogs at the dinner table.  Funny today--poor Oscar, our old dachshund, thought he was getting food from Vasa when Vasa shook a post it note at him--oscar quickly jumped and ran off like he had a piece of cheese or something.  Losing his sight and his patience--I feel like the worst mom b/c we are still having problems with Vasa and the dogs.  We have gone over thousands of times with him not to even touch Oscar and to gently with one hand pet Sparkle.  I try to still watch him  like a hawk around Oscar, but we thought he had learned a lesson about touching him.  Several weeks ago, Vasa got bit by Oscar--not bad, but he tried to pick him up or something when I went to put clothes away.  Today, I was helping the girls get school supplies organized and I hear Vasa mess with Oscar's crate.  I get up and the dog shrieks and Vasa shrieks.  Bitten again.  I have learned my lesson, I guess.  I got a lock for Oscar's crate when Oscar wants alone time and now I have kept the dogs outside or on the other side of the baby gate.  Vasa knows the rule--we have demonstrated and acted out and explained a gazillion times.  Feel like I spend most of the day doing this.  Yet, he can't seem to control his impulses yet around them.  Even tonight, I hadn't let him get near our other dog (sweet patient one) all day and she walked up tonight--Vasa with a big grin was so happy to see her and instead of petting her sweetly -one hand gently--I think I say it in my sleep--quickly pulled the hair on the top of her head.  I could have beat my head against the wall.  Please pray for us on that.

We are headed to the beach for a long weekend tomorrow.  We are hoping that Vasa does ok with the new environment.  We are looking forward to spending time with the girls and seeing Vasa's reaction to the beach.  Also looking forward to not having to say, "No kicking the dog, pet the dog gently like this, don't lick the dog, don't chase the dog, no barking at the dog, no pulling the dog's hair--it hurts."  We will stay far away from dogs this weekend.  Vasa will be the only "puppy" there.  He still likes to crawl around like a dog and bark at times, but I am so thankful I seem to be getting more regular kisses than doggie kisses now.

Feeling bittersweet about the girls going back to school-August 8-can't believe it.  The house will be a little quieter (less stimulation for Vasa--good thing) but I miss them when they are gone.  One of my babies starts kindergarten this year, too.  I think I am thoroughly confusing Vasa--I call them the pet name baby sometimes, so he keeps saying, vasa baby?  ava baby?  and I say, no, you are a little boy and ava is a girl, but you will always be my baby no matter what.  Hard to see babies start a new school year and be another year older.  Hard to start all of that homework again--I feel like it is my work, too!!  So far, I've made good grades, though!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Wow! A month already!

The time has gone by so quickly! The 15th was a month that vasa has been a part of our family. We feel a little like we have a newborn because of our lack of sleep. It's not all vasa-Allie has been a terrible sleeper since we got home. I'm now in her room begging her with my expression to close her eyes and go to sleep. She is in and out of our bed 2-3 times a night. She claims her bed is uncomfortable. We think she has "Jimmy legs"--isn't that what you used to call it? She is a kicking and a moving all night long. Vasa gets up usually around 3-walks into our room and sing songs mama, papa, then runs back to his bed. We'll get him back to sleep-sometimes we have to stay in his bed-then he hops out of his bed at 6 am-ready for the day but obviously still tired. I keep reminding myself that it can't last forever. Josh and I are both two people that need sleep.

We are hoping that vasa learns some self control at some point around the dogs. He has moved on from trying to hug them too tightly to kicking them when he passes by them and licking them on their tongues. Poor thing has been in time-in (kind of a time out) for kicking the dogs several times today. He seems to understand and I act it out each time, but he can't seem to resist the urge.

Vasa loves going outside. He can't seem to get enough of the barbie jeep and his ride on toys. He loves just the freedom of the outdoors. Even when he is dripping in sweat, there are many wails and temper tantrums when it's time to go inside.

The girls have been extremely sweet and patient--seem to be more patient at times than I am. At times I do feel like I'm going to lose my cool when he licks me for the tenth time that day (puppy kiss)Which I cannot stand and when he reaches in the toilet for example after he's peed in it. But, josh continues to remind me--we've only had him over 30 days or so-it takes time!!

He is making a lot of progress--seems like baby steps, but I know we need to celebrate th. The temper tantrums seem to be getting shorter. He is learning lots of words-maybe saying 20 or so consistently. He is feeding himself and not shoveling in like the nathan's hot dog contest. He is very affectionate with the girls and josh and me. He rarely has potty accidents anymore. He made it through the whole church service without us having to take him out. It's been a lot of fun to finally hear him talk and really understand him better.

A huge help has been all of the meals we've received. It's been so nice to not have to worry about cooking. We continue to love seeing the joy and excitement of life--experiencing some of his firsts--pool time, dairy queen, playing in the rain-so special. Helps a little with the sadness for him and us with missing some of his childhood.

Monday, July 11, 2011


slow down, calm down

Hard to tell a 3 year old slow down, calm down, in our household full of 3 other girls--we have a stimulating environment with just me and Vasa at home.  Poor thing hears these phrases and no more than any other phrase--trying to add in good job, good boy, sweet boy, love you in the mix, too.

We are enjoying Vasa--trying to remember the little details of it all each day.  One day, we will laugh about some of it!  Vasa likes to run everywhere, so slow down and walk are quite common.   One of my dogs sees it as an invitation to chase him when he runs, too--only problem is Vasa sees it as an invitation to give her a bear hug and pick her up by the head.  We are still working on how to act around a dog.  My older dog has not been a big fan--he tries to hide out.  He is one of those dogs that wants to sleep and be left alone most of the time and Vasa can't seem to understand that.  Horribly, after bite # 2 from our older dog (I have tried to be so careful)  I think he has figured it out.  Don't turn us into family services yet.  

Just as I'm writing this Vasa has knocked a picture off of the wall and it has chipped a piece of the trim off the baseboard.  Welcome to life with a 3 year old boy.  We have had a lot of fun, but have definitely been kept on our toes.

Calm down--something we say at least once a day when he is chasing the dogs or can't seem to be interested in anything but running.  Knew to expect this b/c of baby home's kids normally getting overstimulated easily.  We've tried to have "down time" but it is sometimes hard to do when he won't read a book, watch tv, or sit for more than a minute or so.  He sees it as a punishment at times to be stuck w/ mommy holding him to calm down, but it seems to be the only thing that works.  

The girls have been very sweet and helpful.  They love to try to teach him words and teach him how to dance to their music.  They have only let out a little Vaaasaaaa when he turns off the tv when they are watching it or whatever.  We have to look at each other and laugh when he constantly acts like a puppy or jumps up and down with excitement over things.  

He did so well forth of july-we went to my parent's river place for the weekend.  He actually rode on the boat and tube and loved the fireworks.  I was a little bit tightly wound at the river worried that an unlocked door or porch would be found by him and we wouldn't know it.  We turned the door chime on so that helped.  I didn't see him on his air mattress one night around 2 am and freaked a little thinking he might have figured out how to go outside, but after searching for him a few minutes I found him on the floor beside the air mattress asleep.  

His eating has been ok--he has become picky all of the sudden, but he still eats pretty ferociously when he has something he likes.  We think he has put on about two pounds and his face looks much fuller to me.  He is sleeping well.  We have cut the nap out, but he is still up most mornings by 6:15.   seems really early.  But without the nap, he easily goes to sleep around 7.  

He still prefers to speak russian.  He knows about 10 words or so that he says consistently, but he seems to understand everything we say (for the most part).  Our least favorite russian word has become ni casool--meaning I didn't say--I think the 2 year old english equivalent of no--example--time to potty "ni casool; time to go inside "ni casool".  He is coming along great on the potty.  He is 3 1/2, but he is kind of like a newly trained child--goes just when we take him and ocassionally tells us--mostly out in public when he wants to play in the bathroom.  We've had a few accidents, but mostly our fault for not taking him in a reasonable amount of time.  

Well--time to go.  He is drinking out of the dog bowl.  

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Don't chase the dog/don't run from the dog

We have had an adventurous few days at home.  We got home on Wednesday night.  The flight was on time and was pretty uneventful.  Vasa played with his toys--some he liked better than others.  He kept his seatbelt fastened and even slept a few hours, so we saw it as a success.

The first day or two was a little rocky.  The girls enjoyed their new toy, but reality set in that he wasn't going anywhere--he was staying here.  After a few tears, they seem to be enjoying his company and the funny things he does.  We haven't had a toddler in the house in a few years, so we realized how unbaby proofed our house was quickly.  We now have plug protectors, cabinet locks, and a few gates up when needed, but it still takes a little work to keep Vasa out of the toilets and fireplace.  He is loving his freedom, but I'm trying to limit it a little to keep our sanity.

The dogs have probably been the biggest challenge.  He has kind of a love/hate relationship.  He would chase the dogs then run from the dogs the first few days.  We are now having to say, don't kiss the dogs in the face, don't pull on their leg, etc.. they will bite, vasa!  He now knows, "come here, sabaka! (dog)".

We've taken him here and there for things for the girls, and he has done really well.  Shy at times and crazy hyper during others, but overall very well.  It's been sweet to see his interaction with the girls.  He hugged and kissed Ava when she came out of Sunday school this morning.  Probably nice to see a face he recognizes :).

We are thinking about taking him to the pool this afternoon.  We are supposed to go to the river this weekend, so we thought it may be wise to expose him to the water--make sure he has a healthy fear of it at least.  We are taking two cars, though, in case the lifeguards ask us to leave--running and plunging into the deep end for example.  We're hoping he is content in the baby pool.

Sleeping has been ok.  He sleeps from 7-4, then is restless after that--up for the day by 6:15.  Josh and I are still tired from the trip, so it's been hard to recover.  Josh is actually working in the yard and I got a chance to wash 2 loads of laundry, so we are feeling successful today at the 4 kid thing--I know when I actually have to cook and such, though, it will be trickier. So many people have been kind enough to bring us food, so that has helped a ton.   Time to go--Vasa needs to go pees pees (potty) so I'll try to write more details later.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hold Your Breath!

So today started pretty much as usual.  Way to early for me (with a 3 year old to chase all day I've been needing more sleep) with a boy who is ready to look at cars out the window and have some breakfast.  Sweet Vas is going to think we sit in the window sill at meal time and he's going to be disappointed that there are only 5 cars that come down our street each day!  He'll adjust.  We were excited to have only a couple more days in Moscow and to have something to do today as we had to be at the Embassy today at 11:30 for our "interview" whatever that means!

Our driver picked us up at 10:30 with our translator Tonya and we made our way the two blocks to the Embassy.  We were a bit early so Tonya took us down the street to a really nice shopping mall and let us look around.  She showed us places we could eat, nice dress shops and she let Vasa ride an escalator.  After our stop at the shop we went to the Embassy.  Tonya was not allowed inside, as she had no business to conduct, but she took us as far as the security door.  We pushed our way through just like good little Russians and made our way right to the front.  We brought a bag of things for Vasa to do while waiting and one of the items was his little plastic phone.  While the bag ran through security they made us take out the phone and "check it" with the guard stand as it was not allowed inside.  We didn't think about that.  After checking my son's cell phone we proceeded to the Interview waiting room.  It was the same place I went yesterday with Tonya and she made me practice getting there several times with her to be sure I knew where to go.  No problems.  We were the first of five families to turn in our "invitation" for today's interview at window 1.  It was really nice to speak with other families who were all adopting, one for the second time, all of which were traveling home on Wed.

Before being called up for our individual interviews a US Embassy worker, Kathy, came out to address us all.  She went over policies and procedures for our paperwork and told us what to expect next.  She swore us all in and then the interviews were to begin.  Claire, Vasa and I were called first.  We were asked to verify all of Vasa's info on the computer screen before they printed his Visa.  All was correct.  Then I signed a few papers and she told us we could go once our paper work was finished printing.

While we waited, we played with the other children and talked to the other families.  About 30 mins later our package was ready and we were out the door.  I had to stop by the check window with my ticket to get Vasa's cell phone back but that was really quick.  Tonya was waiting and with a quick check to be sure we were given everything properly we drove across town to see the panorama view of the City.  It was from the Moscow University campus looking down over the river, sports complex and all of downtown.  It really was beautiful.  We picked up a souvenir for Vasa and got back in the car.

We took Claire and Vasa back to the apartment and I went with Tonya to the agency office a few blocks away.  When I arrived I was greeted by our sweet team and was congratulated on having all of the adoption completed.  They were so good to us and even informed me that we would be free to go home tomorrow!  I was beside myself!  Just yesterday Claire cried when talking to our girls.  We told you all of how rough yesterday was for Vas.  Last night at dinner, while Claire had Vasa in the restroom I told the Lord how tired, lonely and ready we were to go home.  Our sweet Heavenly Father gave us, yet another, amazing gift today by allowing us to go home even earlier than expected.

Now to find a flight!  Delta in Moscow is very helpful.  Claire had looked up all the numbers for me and I jumped on the apartment phone (remember all my local calls are free) and I had us on the 12:05 flight to Atl for tomorrow.  Just like our Father to even have our Moscow Suites representative in the unit next door checking in another guest when I came in so we were able to work out our check out info with him right away.  So we are all set!

Claire kept Vasa up today since there was so much going on with our booking flights etc.  We have been debating his nap time because he likes to rest but then is able to stay up later at night, which is the same dilemma  we had with all our girls about this age.  We ventured out this afternoon about 3:30.  We took Vasa, who once again has to have on a jacket and hat, for  a walk around town.  We walked down Arbat street  for several blocks where Old Arbat joins New Arbat which is the neat pedestrian street we walked the other day and may have told you of earlier in the week.  We walked and looked and listened.  There were musicians about, street performers and artists.  There has been one sketch artist who has been stalking Vasa for most of our time on this street.  We bought Vasa a picture of St. Basil's for his room and a few other things for back home.

On our way back up to the main street we walked behind a British family who was on vacation.  They actually asked us for directions and I was able to help!  I'm such a Muscovite!  We dined, again, at Chili's but this time we blew it out!  We each ordered our own meal!  I don't think Claire and I have done that on several trips to Russia.  We even had a couple margaritas!  Don't tell my Granny.  We laughed at Vasa while we waited.  We sat on the porch (all the restaurants on the street have these wonderful covered porches) because there was a gang of skateboarders right out front and Vasa liked to watch while he beat his balloon.  A man and his son sat behind us and the boy thought Vasa was funny too.  We played with his To Mater truck and his balloon while we waited on dinner.  Once the food came we all ate and enjoyed chicken, potatoes and veggies.  Claire is going to have to make mashed potatoes for every meal as we can hide anything in Vasa's mashed potatoes and he'll eat it.  I think he found one bell pepper tonight and gave it to Claire but all else I was able to sneak in.  He took a bite of my corn on the cob and gave me a half crazy look.  All is not lost because he likes grits!

After dinner we walked back under the street to our apartment.  Up the macheena to our floor.  We gave Vasa a bath / water torture as I sprayed him with the shower head and he played with his boat.  This sweet boy is going to love his tub at home!  No more Papa spraying him with water.  The funny thing about Moscow is that during a few weeks of the summer they just stop providing hot water.  That's right.  No hot water for most of the City because it costs too much.  Thankfully, our apartment has a small water heater so we have really hot water until it runs out.  So Vasa stands naked on the bath mat until I tell him to jump in and he move to the back of the shower and sits down on the cold tiles while I spray him with warm water until it runs out.  Sounds like we've improved his life already!  My poor sweet boy!

Since he missed his nap we put him to bed around 6:45.  He went right to sleep.  We happily packed for an hour before Vasa popped up.  I tried to help him back to sleep but found he had gone kaka.  Sweet thing has eaten so much food since last Wed that his little body is workin overtime!  We don't have a scale but are pretty sure he's put on some weight since his Momma got her hands on him.

With a new pull up on and a clean bottom Vasa went back to sleep.  You don't know the joy it is to sit with him on the bed while he's curled up with his bear and tell him that we will always be here to put him to sleep.  I know he doesn't understand my English but something in the way he looks at us I'm pretty sure he gets it!

After Vasa went back to sleep we finished packing (except the clean clothes on the drying rack - JD Claire can't stop doing laundry) and Claire and I made our last bit of tea and had a left over doughnut.  So hold your breath because our sweet Heavenly Father seems to have made a way for us to come home tomorrow!  We are so excited and cannot wait to parade our boy around to each of you!

You don't know how much we have felt your prayers, love and encouragement throughout this process! You all have been God's mouthpiece through this long journey and have continued to bless us by just caring enough to read and comment.  We love you all and thank you for loving us!  Pray Vasa won't "draswitcha" the entire plane to death for 12 hours straight tomorrow!  See you all soon!

Half of the Dunlap Six!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Chilis and Dunkin Donuts never tasted so good

Josh and I are enjoying Vasa's naps each day, because it allows us to catch up on some sleep.  Yet, when he doesn't go down until after nine and up at 6:45, we don't like them so much!  We started the day early today and decided to head to Dunkin Donuts.  Vasa has seemed sensitive to fried/fatty things, so we got him a plain donut and let him have half.  I think he felt a little gipped, and fussed a good bit when we offered him kix instead of donut, actually turning his nose up to them.  He seemed ok once I offered him some yogurt in the room.

Josh had to head to the embassy today with our translator to finally file our papers with the embassy for Vasa's immigration/visa stuff.  Thank goodness it is finally in the works.  Vasa and I washed clothes (one of his favorite things to do--although he doesn't get why he isn't allowed to turn it on and off) and played with play doh.  I was afraid we would get a little stir crazy in the room, so I was thankful when it only took Josh about an hour.  We head tomorrow to the embassy for something they call an interview--heard it's more of a lecture about things we need to know and more paperwork stuff.  Josh will head back to the CSS office after that and Vasa and I will come back here to play in the room.  I've tried to save some things for our time, so bubbles and paint with water activities will come out while Josh is gone.

Right before lunch, Vasa came in the kitchen asking for a cookie.  I still don't know a whole lot of Russian, so Josh got it, but I didn't.  I probably could had nipped it in the bud with some cheerios, but instead he got mad, went and laid on the floor, rocked a little back and forth, and gave me dirty looks.  That was the start of a rocky afternoon for us.  I picked him up and tried to calm him down, then Josh told me the cookie thing.  By that point, no cheerios or milk cheered him up.  Finally, the food was ready, and all was right with the world for a little while.  I decided to let him look at some pictures after lunch.  Josh and I were trying to think of the right time to let him see some pictures of him with his friends and his caregivers.  I have been reading several books, and some talk about the importance of letting kids grieve and look back at pictures.  One of the saddest parts of it all was that we have been skyping with the girls and our families.  He now thinks the girls are cartoons instead of his sisters--but back to the pictures.  When he saw them on the screen, he tried to talk to his friends and caregivers, thinking they could hear them like skype.

He had a fussy start to his nap--sad, and not happy (sure it was the pictures and realizing we're it ).  He woke up after 2 hours or so still mad at the world.  I would hold him and walk.  If I put him down, he would start pulling at his hair, pushing things down, getting in the corners.  Feel very sad for him.  Trying to distract him, we decided to make the hike to the kremlin again to go to the museum.  We were hoping we could make it there before the rain hit (it looked like it may rain).  Well, before we got 100 yards down the sidewalk,  a large thunderstorm hit.  We spent about 15 minutes or so under the street with 20 other russians (they have a lot of walkways under the streets because of busy roads). One good thing, though, is I think it took his mind off of his baby home losses for a while and probably now had it on the massive thunderstorm that his parents were stupid enough to take him out in.  The rain slacked off and we found a very large grocery store (russian standards--probably 1/4 size of our beloved Publix).  Vasa was very sweet and was good the whole time.  We came back and I called my kids.

This day made me so homesick that I had to hold back the tears while I was on the phone with them--only to cry when I talked to my mom and dad--can never seem to not cry on the phone with them when I am upset.  We are so ready to be home.  A full week is too much to be away from your kids.  We miss little things, too- ice in our drinks.  We miss free refills.  We miss people opening the door and smiling at you as you walk by.  Readable appliances and signs.

We went to chilis for dinner--the waiters there have been very kind.  They have talked with Vasa and tried to play with him a little.  They asked him, though, how old he was tonight--he had no idea--something among many things we need to work on with him.   They do want to be very accommodating.  They made sure I knew where the bathrooms were and checked to see if we wanted Vasa's milk warmed.  They did have diet coke and put ice in our glass.  My nachos tastes like some you would get back home.  That helps.

Vasa seems to be connecting with Josh--I'm a tad bit jealous, b/c he will willingly give Josh and his bear kisses.  I don't get them yet.  He also will ask Josh to pick him up--I don't get that yet.  I wonder a little--maybe just to make myself feel better--if it is b/c he's a man and I'm just like every other care giver he has had for the past 2 years.  I'm hoping it changes soon.    I continue to work hard on making eye contact with him and working on all the attachment tips.

I'm nursing my precious diet drink with the ice we did make out of bottled water with the small ice tray in our room.  Josh and I had to look hard for a diet coke or diet pepsi at the store--found a few.  I told Josh I thought it was funny that Russia may be the only place in the world that you have several rows of 2 liter beer in plastic bottles but can't seem to find soft drinks--small section of a row on the very bottom (pepsi only 2 liter).   We've already gone through all of the tea bags we brought, but the ice would melt so quickly that it almost didn't seem worth the effort :).

I'm done complaining--only two more full days in Moscow.  We'll survive.  Vasa will be happy about a car ride tomorrow.  He has to tell the doorman each time we walk in that we've seen lots of cars outside--at least I think that is what he is telling him.  Much love to my family.   One thing I have to add-funny seeing Vasa's face when he has watched Josh do manly things--shaving and peeing standing up and stuff.  It has been like Vasa is watching a freak show--he can't look away.  Sweet thing smiled one minute and whimpered the next while he was shaving.  All these new things...  

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day 2011

Well Father's Day 2011 was certainly one to remember.  I shared the day with my new son but only got to spend a few moments on Skype with my sweet heart girls.  They are the sweetest and I miss them very much.  I did get to see them with their Grandpa holding a big fish they pulled out of the river.  Way to go!  My girls have been fishing twice since we left and are getting pretty good at it.  Maybe they can help feed all the mouths we will have at home!

As a part of our Father's Day activities at Christ Community Church today I was asked to share my testimony and how it ties into our adoption.  My big old head was on the big screen at church today but it was neat to share all the Lord has done in my heart, marriage and family over the years and celebrate His being our Father!  That was a really neat activity and I'm thankful that Keith and the staff at our church would ask me to share and that we have such wonderful technology which allows us to feel so close even though we are so far from home.

We ventured out this morning to see the sites of the Kremlin.  Vasa was a trooper during the entire morning because it was rainy and cold.  We walked the 10 or so blocks from our apartment in a slight drizzle under a tiny bright green compact umbrella that Claire was smart enough to pack (probably against my complaining!)  We arrived but had trouble figuring out which ticket we should purchase.  Do the "full" tickets include everything listed or do you have to purchase them individually?  Full seems to mean "adult" price to me but not to Claire...we just bought the Kremlin Courtyard tickets because the ticket people didn't speak English and weren't interested in trying to understand my Russian.

While I was inside trying to buy tickets Claire was outside the little ticket booth with Vasa.  Claire is pretty certain that the old drunk lady from Friday afternoon in the lobby of our apartment building was outside the Kremlin.  Vasa was singing his "la, la, la" song when the old lady came over sang la, la, la back to him in a nasty tone then stuck her tongue out at him!  Claire said she had to laugh because the lady only had a couple of teeth.  Apparently the old woman had been holding a grudge against my boy since he got cheerios while she was being jerked off the bench by security earlier in the week.

Well as the rain picked up and the wind kept blowing the three of us sloshed through the courtyard of the Kremlin.  The place is really neat and despite the rain we had a pretty good time.  We walked around for a while looking at the palace, senate buildings, towers and churches which are housed inside the Kremlin, which means fortress in Russian.  There were beautiful churches that were constructed in the 1500s and are still standing.  They were used for crowning all Russian Tzar's etc.  We saw huge cannons  that were used in battles.  The palace was a bit different that I expected relative to the other buildings.  It reminded me of the gov't center back home.  If you can imagine it next to these majestic old churches!  Claire was the tour guide for Vas and I.  She read from our little wet map while I handed Vasa Kix as we stayed dry under a wing of a church building.  We decided to move on out and the rain stopped a bit.  We walked along the side of the Kremlin walls where we had seen the tomb of the unknown soldier on Friday.  We let Vasa look at a couple fountains and some statues that were in the fountain at different places.  Ducks, bears, foxes, wolves, children and an old man fishing.  He liked to see the water but was shivering from being wet.  There is a mall under the road at the base Red Square which had a food court.  We chose McDonald's and ordered except I felt under pressure while pointing at the "I don't speak your language" picture map and didn't order enough food for us all.  Claire shared her cheese burger with Vasa and I meant to order him carrots since he can't handle fries (learned that in Kaluga).  So to make up for that mishap I went back to order 2 (duva) vanilla ice cream cones for my bride and her new son.  Well, they don't have vanilla in Russia - then what are the 40 other people eating ice cream cones with white ice cream eating in here?  I chose strawberry and asked for 2.  Thinking i would receive a couple of pink colored cones...nope I got ONE plastic cup with vanilla ice cream in it with strawberry preserve on top.  Vasa liked the ice cream and I'm sure the berries were somewhat good for him but I didn't fire on all cylinders today when ordering for my wife!

The rain had slowed when we walked back and by the time we made it up to the apartment it was time for Vasa's nap.  He slept pretty well and Claire and I got a bit of rest too.  It felt good to get out of our wet clothes and lay down for a while.  I tested Skype with our church crew before the service and then we took a short stroll next door to the grocery store to buy a couple frozen pizzas for dinner.  After the first service testimony we took a walk up and down the street to get out a bit.  Of course the sun was out and the breeze was nice.  Then we came up and baked our pizzas (not half bad) and drank tea that we brought from home.  It was nice to have a glass of iced tea!

We've just been hanging in the room this afternoon and put Vasa down around 9.  Claire and I have been reading and resting this evening.  She will keep Vas here tomorrow while I go with our translator to file his paperwork at the Embassy.  We plan on bullying our way to the front of the line since we are US citizens...just kidding.  I'm sure I'll be in line a while everyone tries to get their travel visa just like my Vas!

Well that's it for the Father's Day edition of "A week in Moscow" by Josh and Claire!  Love to our sweet Daddy's and we will update you all tomorrow.  Sorry we've been less frequent with our posts but you try posting multiple times with a three year old who likes to play with his deflated balloon!  Love you all!  J&C&V

Saturday, June 18, 2011

successful day-4 to go

Good day in Moscow.  We spent a good bit of the morning walking on arbat street. Vasa didn't quite have an appreciation for the artists and musicians, but he loved the crane that was making repairs below the road.  We spent a good bit of the time watching that.

We ate lunch at the hard rock.  They had a blow up jumper inside--how cool is that-so Vasa played in that a while.  Then, when he saw the milk come, no more jumper.  Josh worked very hard trying to teach Vasa to only put one piece of food in his mouth at a time and to chew.  His meals for him still consist of him trying to shove as much food as possible as quickly as possible in his mouth.  We were prepared for this, b/c so many of the books that we read explained how common this is in institutionalized children whose food is limited every day.  He liked his mac n cheese and the bread and our hamburger meat, but wanted nothing to do with the brocolli or carrots. We bought the girls and my nephews a t-shirt and grandpa.  I continue to be impressed with how well our waiters speak english--wish my russian compared.

We headed back to the room for a much needed nap for all of us.  Vasa willingly went down for a nap.  After a few hours, we were all up playing in the room.  We were a bit frustrated b/c we tried to skype with Buddy and had a lot of trouble getting it to work.  We also tried with Mimi later and had trouble with hers, too.  We just downloaded the skype last week, and it kept saying that mimi's was outdated.

Vasa loves the toys--his favorite is probably the $7 big lot car that goes forward and back and makes lots of sounds.  We've enjoyed seeing him dance to his elmo cd player.  Turning on and off the lights is still also loads of fun.

We went out tonight to Chilis.  It was very yummy.  Josh and I split a piece of salmon, rice, and steamed veggies and vasa had a chicken sandwich and mashed potatoes.  He loved the potatoes and would eat some of the vegetables if I hid them in the potatoes.  He has left every meal with a very full tummy.  Speaking of full tummys-when you have lots of full tummies there is lots of kaka.  It has been a while since I had a child that couldn't ask to go to the bathroom, so josh and I forgot to take him to the potty when we got home--we were skyping with mimi when Josh said, oh no!!  Kaka!  He has actually done really well--only 1-2 accidents.

At chilis, they gave Vasa a balloon.  He has played with that balloon like I think no other child has played with a balloon.  He was very entertained with it and insisted that we take it back to the room.  He didn't want to put his jacket on until he saw me taking it off of his high chair.

Now, after some crying, he is in the bed but not sleeping yet.  Quiet, but not sleeping.  He seems to soothe himself by rubbing his head, eyelid, and pulling at his hair a little. Now he is rubbing the bear on his head.

 Josh and I have noticed, though, while we are rocking him at bedtime and when he got hurt (pulled the door on his toe), that there are no tears.  We think he must have blocked tear ducts or no tear ducts at all--may be a reason he's had some eye problems.  We also noticed that he looks flat footed-special shoes for that?  We thought maybe it is because of shoes that he has worn on  his feet thus far weren't the best quality or maybe the wrong size.  Josh said he couldn't be in the military for flat feet--maybe that will keep him out of the russian military, too :).  We heard that if he enters the country between the ages of 19-32, he may have to serve in the military.  He will keep dual citizenship, and I think most of their men must serve at least a short time.  He may just have to stay far away from Russia during that time-no gog/magog war for my child.

Love my girls and miss them.  I'm still hiding behind the drying rack (have a washer but no dryer) while josh is trying to get Vasa to sleep.

Friday, June 17, 2011

4 AM in Moscow

Four AM in Moscow on a Friday night and you would think it had been a wild night!  Just sitting on the toilet seat in our comfortable studio apartment as a light on anywhere else could wake up the fam.  After Vasa's nap today we played and talked to most of our family (Buddy and Jay - 8.30 am & JD you are on the docket)!  Vasa quickly put on his socks, shoes, jacket and hat after he woke up as he was ready for another ride in a macheena.  No such luck as we won't have another driver until Tuesday.

We did get out and venture to the grocery store right next to our building to grab some essentials.  Water, milk, juice, yogurt, cereal and eggs.  Vasa won us some points with the security man in our building who watches us with a careful eye (I know...I'm pretty menacing) with a quick "draswicha".  We took our purchases up to the room and then headed just down the street to everyone's favorite Moscow restaurant...TGI Friday's!  Our translator said we would probably see every other American in Moscow there for dinner but I think it was just us.

We took a stroll for about 30 mins after dinner to help Vas get ready for bed then came up and gave him a bath.  Again, no bathtub (which he loves) so we sat him in the shower and I held the removable sprayer and held it at a level he could play in while sitting on the shower floor.  All in all he had fun only it isn't as fun to play with a toy boat in the water that collects on the shower floor.  At least he is imaginative.  We soon put Vas down with a little tag team effort but it only took us about 30 mins.  He is a very sweet boy.

My Moscovian adventure really began after Vasa went to bed...and believe me this isn't a raunchy tale of Claire and I in action!  We decided to contact Delta in order to change our flight for a day earlier.  I tried calling from the common room just outside our door (shared with another unit) but the call failed once the agent got on the line.  So I tried again from inside our unit next to the window.  Same response.  I tried calling the local Delta office from our room phone (local calls are free!) but they only work 9 - 6 Mon - Fri at it was 8.30ish.  So, I grab my passport, ticket info and wallet to go outside on the street.  I got off the elevator and almost went out when I saw our (not so friendly) security man.  The door has a code after a certain hour (which I left in the room) and I was certain that I would be outside longer than 15 mins which would be 9 pm (not sure when door is locked but didn't want to sleep on the street) so I headed back up to get the code.

When I got up to our floor I decided to try the small balcony that serves the entire hall.  I thought, "It's right past our door" so it will be good.  Three calls to Delta later (the first two were dropped again while waiting for a supervisor to help) and no less than 1 1/2 hours on the phone we got it worked out.  Great story right?  Well, I was leaning over the rail (i'm on the 21st floor) so that my reception was strong enough all while praying the battery would stay alive.  Did I mention the door to the balcony only has handles from the inside?  No?  Well that's why I had one foot stretched back across the balcony wedged to keep the door open so I didn't get stuck.  So I'm waiting...on hold when I see another couple coming down the hall (obviously not Russian) and they are our partner unit.  They enter the unit and I hear them LOCK THE COMMON DOOR!  It's a cool 11:00 pm by now and I'm stuck on the balcony, half hanging over the rail (I'm afraid of heights) with my leg still inside and the door to my room is locked.  And of course I didn't bring my keys.

Well, I was cut off on my final Delta call as well due to battery issues but I made the very helpful agent promise that under all circumstances she was to complete our transaction.  She did!  So ear sore, tired and not sure how to get into my room I head back into the building.  I beat on the door and sweet Claire comes out (asking through the door if it's me) to unlock the door.  She can't!  We spent a few mins with her trying.  I'm telling her to knock on the neighbor's door as they locked me out here when she realizes that there are two locks - the 2nd needs a key.  She grabs our key and I'm back home.  No joke - I went through a lot of scenarios in my head on how to get back in my room - most contingent on my now dead cell phone!  Thank the Lord Claire heard me.

The other side of the story is sweet Claire.  She doesn't know where I am (i left to go outside) and I've been gone for close to 2 hrs.  She is trying to figure out where I put the contact numbers for our translator and the company from whom we rented the unit.  She even emailed my sister to ask her to call me.  We only have one cell that is working!  We quickly let buddy know that I was ok.

So why am I up?  Not sure.  I think the stress of the day has me reliving all my events.  At the end of it all there is a pretty cool 3 year old sleeping soundly with an arm around a bear while covered up with his "Cars" (Disney approves of this use) blanket right outside my bathroom door.  I like that...

I miss you all, girls mostly the three of you, and can't wait to be home!  Love ya'll, Josh

We are in our new place in moscow to stay-we think

Just got Vasa down for a nap--boy, did he need it.  He went to bed after 10 last night and then was up by 7:15.

We started off the day by being cheap.  The "cheap" breakfast in the hotel that includes your drink, cereal, fruit, and toast was 40 dollars a person, so we took our cereal down to the lobby and ordered milk and coffee.  I had planned to give Vasa flavored oatmeal today (the plain for him was not a hit), but he refused to even try it.  I don't blame him-I don't like plain oatmeal, either.  I just got the impression that he was used to eating porridge.  Apparently, everyone has to draw the line somewhere on what they will eat and not eat.  So, he ate our cereal, drank his milk, and ate the biscottis that the waitress brought us-probably feeling sorry for us when she saw our box of cereal.

We went to Vasa's doctor's appointment.  It was a total of 3 minutes.  He is 27 pounds and 35 1/2 inches long.  He spent 3 of the five minutes checking out his man parts.  Those seem to be in working order, too.  He told us he looked good and off we went (after getting the paper for the embassy).  Now we wait until Monday.

Our translator took us to red square where we saw the changing of the guards.  That was really neat--especially how they balanced the guns with the sword thing on the end pointing to the sky in their hands.  Vasa was unimpressed.  He just wanted to play with the chain surrounding the changing of the guards.  We walked through another pretty shopping mall.  We took Vasa's picture in front of Saint Basils.  Then, we headed to the other beautiful cathedral--right now I can't remember the name-how horrible was that?  But, it is hard to pay too much attention in a gorgeous, quiet cathedral with a 3 year old in tow.  It was gorgeous, by the way.  FYI--it was blown up in the 1930s, on the land was a public heated swimming pool in the 1960s, then they raised lots of rubles to rebuild the cathedral after the pool was run down.

Then, we waited for a pizza at a cafe to bring back to our new apartment.  Vasa has been extremely patient today.  Yet,  the one or two stop rule applies to all 3 year olds.  After more than 1 or 2 stops, time to go home.  We headed to the new apartment.  We enter the lobby to wait on the man meeting us with the key.  The doorman was not thrilled to see us waiting there.  We were also followed in by a drunk woman holding her beer.  He had words with her, but allowed her to stay.  She proceeded to push our things over so she could sit on the bench.  The doorman physically wrestled with her while Josh, the translator, and I hurried to move Vasa and our things out of the way.  I am trying to divvy out cheerios during all of this, too, so Vasa would stay in the stroller.  He has already learned how to unthread the buckle to get out-smart boy.  Our representative for the apartment finally meets us-he's originally from Australia but lived several years in new york city.  He was super nice, but by that point the bellman/security guy felt the need to check our passports to make sure we were legit or whatever.  By the time we get upstairs, my sweet husband pulls me aside and says we may not be staying more than a night here.

Yet, after we have gotten comfortable with the apartment, it actually seems very nice. It looks like an american like apartment.  It is air conditioned. we have wifi, we have hot water, and we have a kitchen.  The translator showed Josh around and we are actually in a great location.  Lots of restaurants and such around.  The rep from the apartment assured us that drunk women and mean doormen weren't the norm here.  He also said that he felt safer here than in NY.  He just said to mainly watch out for police officers looking for bribes or petty thieves.  But, our apartment rep in on call 24 hours a day and we have the translators #s and an american medical clinic # if we need it.  We will make it--as long as we can leave Thursday :).

Josh said the cathedral was the national cathedral--it cost 600 million american dollars to build.  Just fyi.  

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wow-what a day-finally made it to moscow

We had a great morning with Vasa.  He only got up once during the night.  He woke up happy and ready to play with all of the lights and doors in the hotel room.  We spent a lot of time in the parks today and walking, because he really seems to enjoy his time outside.  After lunch at McDonalds, we headed back to the room where Vasa and I took a nap.

At 2:30, we were picked up to go get Vasa's passport.  Nadia made the mistake of saying to us, "Maybe you can fly home sometime this weekend."  Josh and I were beside ourselves happy, b/c we weren't scheduled to fly home until next Friday.  We headed out to Moscow about 3:30, ready to start our Moscow leg of the trip.

Vasa was very good in the car.  He enjoyed snacking and playing with his toy phone for most of the way.  We are now regretting the McDonald's decision, b/c Vasa's stomach began to get upset on the way to Moscow--only a little accident in his pants--only one so far.

Got to the CSS office around 6:45, hoping we were doing a touch and go.  Regretfully, we were there about 2 hours, where Josh filled out paperwork for what we found out is our embassy appointment on Monday--what??  We were told that we can go home on Thursday.  If we didn't have our hopes up already, we should have been happy.  But, now Thursday seems really far away.  Vasa is such a people person that CSS folks said, boy he is a talker--not your usual baby home kid--very smart.  Thank goodness he was entertained while we were there by his own antics on his telephone.  He said that me and some bad wolf are the only people that call him on his phone.

We arrived finally at the hotel-after much traffic--stopped traffic for we think was some government officials arrival.  Vasa was very tired and irritable in the car and got his kicks spitting on us on the way here.  Not fun.  I will say, though, that when we were getting out of the car, our translator asked Vasa if she could hold his hand and walk in with him and he said, no, I want my mamma.  Thought that was a good sign--I had a proud parent moment.

We got upstairs and ordered room service.  Our room (for just one night--it will be fine)  is apparently the handicapped room, so there was no tub.  Instead of a relaxing warm bath, Vasa was slipping and sliding and continuing to turn the shower and tub on --remember, just a drain, no tub.  I am trying to hold him with one hand and unscrew bottles of shampoo and stuff with the other.  He laughed the entire time--any other time it may have been funny, but not tonight.  We got our room service, fed Vasa, and put him to bed.  He did go to sleep right away--after 10, so he should have been tired.

Sorry a little grumpy--but, it's my birthday, so I can be that way just for a few moments.  Pray that maybe, just maybe, we could fly home Wednesday.  If not, that we can be more comfortable in Moscow to stick it out for a while.   Love u guys!! Sorry no skype tonight--Josh let me come down to the lobby for wifi, so it's not in our room.  Miss my girls!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

We did it!

I'm really lost for words!  There is the sweetest 3 1/2 year old boy in PJs my Momma bought holding a bear my mother in law bought asleep!  I can't promise you I didn't look into the eyes of my Jesus while we put him to sleep tonight!  I don't know how or why Claire and I would be chosen to have such a little boy come into our family but I couldn't be more in love!

I can't wait to tell each of you our story of today.  After a bit of rest we made our way to pick up two cakes, I don't know, and then went to the Baby home.  We met with the director who had us sign a letter stating we knew his medical background and were ok with it and then her book which identified the specifics of our picking up Vasa.

We got to walk down the hall to get our son.  When we came into the room the children were just waking up from their nap.  I saw a couple children still laying in their beds.  One sweet girl, who is one of Vasa's good friend - Tonya - even had on a night gown I think DD has!  Vasa was going potty and the care givers were wetting and brushing his hair as he walked out.  He had on underwear and sandals! He couldn't have been cuter!  He will probably be encouraged to wear very similar outfits every time he is with Buddy - if he choses b/c he will always get to wear whatever when he's with her - it could just a easily be rain boots and overalls.  Anyway, the care givers were clapping for Vasa, the kids behind him were excited and Claire and I got to dress our son in the waiting area.  He seemed a bit overwhelmed by the whole process and to be honest we might have looked the same.  It was really a sweet time.  The director let him say goodbyes to his friends one by one and in groups.  Vasa got to hug his care givers and he started to cry.  The care givers were sweet to quickly tell him not to worry because his Momma and Papa were here for him.  Vasa tried to be brave!

I can't imagine having waited all this time to be woken from a nap, stuck on the potty and told "Hey, your new parents are waiting in the lobby!"  This boy is incredible!  Once we got downstairs, Vladimir saved the day as he had a "macheena" waiting to take us away.  We went to the passport office, where one of Nadia's (our translator) former students was waiting to help us.  Claire took Vasa outside and I went in to sign his document request.  We are set to pick up the passport tomorrow and then we head to Moscow!  (I told you I'm asking the Lord to get us home quickly!)

We scrambled a bit because we didn't have a place to stay in Moscow tomorrow night.  We are all set now.  We then came back to our room and had the cleaning staff bring sheets for Vasa's bed.  After a bit of snack we put Vasa in the tub.  We were worried that he might not enjoy the water as we have read such things before.  He must know that Uncle JD and I sit and watch our crazy 5 play in the river all Summer because he started pulling off his shirt when we entered the bathroom.  He sat on the potty and went prior to getting in the tub.  Then he tried to soak Claire and I while laughing and playing with his duck and boat.  He didn't mind us bathing him or washing his hair.  I think my 3 1/2 year old was easier to bath on day one than my second child is even at 7!  Claire is commenting about my potty statement but this was meant as a praise for my sweet boy who is potty trained!

After bath time we went for a walk.  We headed down to the main street and walked down the middle of the divided road where there is a long walkway with benches.  It is capped on either end by large parks.  The picture at the top of our blog is from the park (in the snow) at the other end of main street.  In the park there were lots of people, balloons, games, and pigeons.  Vasa and I ran at the birds trying to make them fly.  We walked around the park a time or two then headed back up the street.  We went to dinner at a restaurant we ate in last week.  It seemed really kid friendly as it had a kids table with toys and was playing cartoons on a big screen.  Well, the put us in the super nice quiet section of the place (not sure why) but Vasa was a champ.  We fed him a few snacks as we waited and he drank milk from a sippy cup.  We ordered a risotto dish for us all to split and a bowl of chicken noodle soup for Vas.  Claire and I had the two pizzas for lunch remember...so  we weren't all that hungry.  We also have leftovers in the fridge next to sleeping Vasa.  He'll probably smell it at some point!

We ate all the food and came back to our room.  We changed into PJs, made the bed and brushed his teeth.  Then we read books and sang songs.  This is the same routine we have had for almost 9 years at home and it seems as natural as breathing.  Vasa was so excited that it took a couple hours to get him to sleep.  Not bad really!  We were surprised at how well he rested.  I couldn't keep myself together as we held him on the bed and sang to him.  Vasa kept looking at Claire and then at me.  He would smile at us and close his eyes.  I think for a while he fought going to sleep somehow afraid we might go away if he closed his eyes!  Mama y Papa y Vasa...Mama y Papa y Vasa!  I kept telling him this as he would close his eyes.  I want my son to know, as my girls do, that we are here to stay!

All in all I don't know how today could have gone any better.  You know what?  My Heavenly Father has been doing this same type of thing since we started and Claire and I have come to believe in His faithfulness!  I was certain today would have been just as wonderful.  Only three things could have made it any better!  I wish my princesses could be here with me to help greet him.  Although, Vasa might need a bit of time to prepare for the "love sandwich" that awaits him when we get home!  These girls don't know how to not love!  They are the perfect sisters for this little boy.

I saw a scripture in the front cover of a Russian language book we brought to help with phrases and such.  It's a Psalm and its says "The Lord will bring the lonely a family."  He has brought my sweet (lonely no more) Vasa to us!  We are not home yet but we are getting there as soon as we can!  Love to you all!  Josh, Claire and Vasa

3 PM!

It's 1:30 PM and Claire and I just returned from the registrar's office where we signed Vasa's birth certificate and Claire signed the registrar's book as his mother.  We left and took his birth certificate and court order to the passport office to be "stamped".  Claire and I were not needed for the passport office this morning so Nadia took us across the street to look at cakes (which is a customary gift for the care givers).  After the passport office Claire and I had pizza.  We only meant to order one but received two four cheese pizzas!  Good thing we were hungry.  We ate then walked back (with our leftovers) to the hotel for a bit of rest before we pick up Vasa at 3 pm!

It is a bit cooler here this trip (still very nice) so we are going to take Vasa a light jacket and sweater to wear with his clothes.  Maybe a bit over the top but we understand the caregivers have a very watchful eye when we dress him to go out the first time.  They have been his caring "mom" for the past couple years but look out 'cause his real "Momma" is on her way!

We have an appointment at the passport office this afternoon at 4 PM to apply for his passport.  Claire thinks I'm crazy but I'm asking Father for His favor that we might get his passport tomorrow and have doctor's appointments and visa applications turned very quickly in Moscow.  I know we plan to be here throughout next week and that will be fine but Father says we can ask of Him anything we want and I know that He who only spoke creation into being can bring us favor with the workers here to process our information quickly!

Not too much of an update for now but in a short while we will have our son in our hands for good!  I continue to ask Father to bring sweet Vasa His peace during our transition.  There are many new things ahead and I want my son to enjoy them and feel safe at all times!  I would seek nothing less for any of my wonderful children...and he is mine!

Love to you all from the last quiet hour Claire and I will have...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Can you believe today is the day?

As is our ritual here in our favorite little Russian town, Claire and I are up with the Sun having coffee and our first breakfast.  When you rise at 4 AM you can have more than one breakfast.  Kinda like the Taco Bell 4th meal but we are geriatric and go to bed around 8 PM local time so our fourth meal comes early.

We are sitting here pinching ourselves as we look back over what seems to have been a long process but in hindsight, as is always true, things moved rather quickly.  Today I will have my first boy!  Joshua...Jr...not really but I think living in the South, having a pickup truck, a fishing pole, riding lawn mowers and a son...he should be called Jr.  Claire won't agree and we will call him Vasa.  We are going to wrap our gifts for the care givers, pack Vasa's sweet little back pack and get his clothes together.

We arrived safely and on time yesterday from our flight.  Neither Claire or I really slept on the plane yesterday so we were pretty tired.  I gave Claire an early birthday present (joking really) and upgraded us to First Class on the short ride from Atl to NYC.  We had a nice grilled chicken salad and an actual glass (not plastic) of white wine on the ride up for lunch.  (Claire comment--funny having a recliner function on the chair and having the stewardess ask "Mr. and Mrs. D-what can we get you today?  Hot towel?  I just kept thinking of the Seinfeld episode where Jerry was sitting in first class.  It was a treat to feel like somebody for just an hour or two :) )I probably did us an injustice by letting us sit there when we still had such a long flight in coach ahead.  When we got to JFK (NY airport) we were in line for the shuttle and saw a pro wrestler, we think--maybe you can help us figure out who he was.  He looks a bit like a latin version of the James Bond evil guy w/ metal teeth.  He has a really pronounced chin, dark hair, 7 feet tall.

Our economy comfort seats are much better than the far back of the plane.  The aircraft we came over on was the newest plane we've had.  The seating arrangements were different, storage seemed a bit better and we had our own tv mounted in the chair in front allowing us all to pick movies, tv shows and music to watch.  Again in an effort to get all possible entertainment and Claire and I have been counting quiet time next to each other watching movies on the plane as a date...I watched four movies on the way over and Claire watched 3.  My seat wouldn't stay reclined so I didn't get to take full advantage of the additional 4 inches I paid for by being in economy comfort but all was good.

We were hoping to be in the same hotel as last week and we not only are in the same hotel but the same room!  I told our family that we feel like important travelers (much like our well traveled brother in law) who often stays in the same rooms and all the folks know his name.

Claire and I were thinking back and praying this morning and we really believe that God has fulfilled his promise in Matt 6:33 in our lives since we decided to obey His call on our lives in October.  We have not worried and He has provided "all things" since we actively began to "seek first His kingdom".  What a testimony to His faithfulness as two young (watch it - we still feel young) kids from the US stand ready to bring our 3 year old son home with us today!

Much love to you all for caring, loving, reading, supporting and giving to us while we have gone through this journey.  We are getting closer to having our little boy home with us and we can't wait to share him with you!  Last post from a family of 5...Brady bunch numbers here we come!

Josh and Claire

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Something you should know

This blog has been a beautiful communication tool for Claire and I while being away during our adoption process.  We have written much of God's faithfulness to us, Vasa and his sweet little life and the exciting adventure we have been on since February when travel began.

I wanted to take a moment to share with you some of the amazing adventures that I live each day just because I have the most incredible group of girls living in my home!  I don't think I have shared much about my girls but for those of you who don't know them I pray one day you get the chance to meet them.

My oldest, Ava, is almost 9 but most days she could be 20.  Ava is patient, kind, loving, teaching, caring and beautiful!  She loves to spend time with Claire and I.  Ava was the student of the year in 3rd grade this year at her school (i'm bragging a bit) and while there are many, many smart and wonderful students in Ava's grade (most notably her cousin Jack) she was chosen this year.  I believe it is due mostly to her sweet spirit.  Ava is smart and works very hard but she is very kind and always does what she is asked without complaining (at least at school).  At home she loves her sisters.  She sometimes struggles because she is getting older and my two younger girls like to play games and pretend while Ava would rather not play the same games.  The girls do a wonderful job of playing together and loving one another but they are sisters and that leads to a few screams and tears from time to time.  All said, Ava is a sweet and wonderful daughter and I couldn't be more proud that I get to be her father!

My second, Allie, just turned 7.  Allie is sensitive, loving, joyful, imaginative, and daring.  Allie loves to make people laugh.  When the family is all together or there are people around with whom she is comfortable she is ready to make someone smile.  She will work at this no matter what.  She will make up stories, events, challenges, dances etc.  She loves music and likes to imitate the performer.  She is pretty good too (we can't get her to do her Ludachris imitation from Justin Bieber's "Baby" for anyone but it's funny).  Allie is a great student but she will turn in her work early (even wrong) just to get to continue her conversation with others.  She would come home on "yellow" during the year for talking.  Her response would be that "It just couldn't stop".  Allie worries about things that I wish she wouldn't.  She tends to reason like an adult and sees risk in places that I pray she would rest and trust in God.  I tell you that this child brings something different to every day and she along with her older sister will be an amazing teacher for their little brother.

My baby girl, Addison, turned 5 a week ago.  Addison is completely delightful!  She is an entertainer at heart.  I often refer to her as our cruise director.  DD, as we call her, will enter kindergarten in the fall.  Her job during the past few years around the house on school days was to report to Claire and I Ava and Allie's progress as they got ready for school.  We never asked her to tell us but she would run around the house and come update us on who had their pants on or was brushing their teeth.  This little lady is rarely in a bad mood.  She is such a joyful, sharing, selfless child.  I love to watch her play with toys.  I don't know many children (other than her cousin Weston with his pokemon) who enjoy playing with just about anything like DD.  She loves to learn too.  She is reading so well, she can remember anything if it is put to music and she loves to laugh.  I wish you could hear her laugh!

These are my precious little ladies.  I couldn't be more proud or blessed than to call these perfect little people my daughters!  Yes, they are all asleep right now but that by no means is why I could refer to them as perfect.  I do realize that they fuss, fight, disobey and can be challenging but so can I.  I am not always who I was created to be or live up to the potential that was designed for me but the grace and love that meets my imperfection is the same Spirit that allows me to say my girls are perfect just as they are today!

I'm surrounded by wonderful children!  You also should know Jack and Weston, my nephews.  These two heartbreakers are such funny, sweet and giving little gentlemen!  I cannot believe that the response from these two guys of Vasa's coming is that they now have even numbers with the girls.  3 on 3!  They are ready to share a room on vacation, teach how to swim, tube and fish at the river or just do anything that is completely boy (and believe me they are all boy!)

That leaves my wife.  Honestly, there isn't enough time or cyber space for me to tell you about my Claire.  She has been my best friend since 1993.  I continue to wonder how I could ever have ended up with such a loving, smart, beautiful and incredible partner.  I believe that God gives us what we can handle in life, which means that I can't handle anything (thus I have Claire and the three girls listed above) and my wife is the most patient and long suffering person on the planet!  While that is very true and you can clearly see her patience, love and sacrifice everyday as she parents, cares for and loves our family - she is an amazing representation of her Heavenly Father!  She possess all the fruit of the Spirit and has since I've known her.  She doesn't have anything but love to share!  She comes from the most incredible family and I couldn't be more thankful for my in laws!  Through her family I have a wonderful sister and I have a great older brother in JD.  There is no way to describe how much I love and appreciate my wife!  If you know her you know love, grace and beauty.  She is my best friend and my partner in our amazing journey and there is nothing I could ever dream to be more wonderful than her!  This is where God's word come true for me "He is able to do more than we can even ask or imagine!"

I could go on and on!  Believe me I haven't even touched on my family - which will be another post some time.  I just thought it fair for you all to know a little bit more about my fun home life!

Sorry for writing about my peeps but I just couldn't help it!  Josh