Sunday, June 10, 2012

Summer Fun!

Before Summer officially started Michael graduated from High School with his High School Diploma from Pleasant Grove High and his Associates in Science degree from Utah Valley University....Yeah!!!!! Jenae also graduated from 6th grade.

Summer fun has started.  Vitaliy is working on reaching the rank of Eagle Scout so our amazing Scoutmaster is having Vitaliy work with him as much as possible.  Vitaliy went with Sasha's group on an overnight backpacking trip.  The first words out of Vitaliy's mouth when he got home were, "That was awesome!".  They both had an amazing time and we are so glad.  We talked with our Scoutmaster and he said how helpful Vitaliy was for all the boys and how he is a good leader.  I was happy to hear that.  I think it is great that he is having this opportunity.  He really loves the outdoors and there is nothing better than Scouting for that!  He is currently on track to be able to earn his Eagle before he turns 18.  We are proud of his determination.

Sasha turned twelve at the end of May and passed the Sacrament with the Deacons today for the first time.  He did an awesome job.  I was proud of him for taking it so seriously and doing his best.

 This is Vitaliy and Sasha when they were getting ready to leave on their camp out.

 Andy and the boys!

 This is them walking down the street to meet their troop.  Sasha was struggling a bit on the hike so Vitaliy ended up taking Sasha's portion of the tent and carried it for him.

 This is when they got home.

 Jenae graduated from 6th grade.

This is Michael and his girlfriend, Maggie, on their graduation day.

We are all looking forward to all of the camps, (girls camp, scout camp, varsity camp, venture camp, timberline) this summer.  It ought to be busy!

I had to share this one.  Our puppy, Lizzy is getting big and we all love having her so much.  She is a great dog!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Why is that raisin moving?!?!?!

Yesterday Sasha came home from school and ran upstairs to find me.  No big deal, he always does that.  Then he handed me a little container with dry oatmeal in it.  No big deal again.  I was on the phone so I was just looking at this oatmeal and Sasha's happy face wondering why is he giving me oatmeal.  When he gets excited he doesn't speak really clearly so, oh well, I smiled and kept talking.  As I was looking at the oatmeal, I wondered why the big raisin in the oatmeal was moving.  That's when I realized that he had handed me a little container of oatmeal with a very big live beetle in it! I really hate bugs!  I handed it back and asked "why do you have a big beetle?"  He said (all smiles) my teacher gave it to me.  Was she trying to get back at me for giving her a difficult year!  Why did she send him home with a big beetle?  I don't get it.  Needless to say, he released his beetle into the wild and that was that.  But, I have to say, he was pretty happy about that bug!

Just a quick update on everything else....

Andy and Vitaliy both celebrated their birthdays on the same day in May.  Vitaliy turned 16 and Andy turned 40!  Both big birthdays.  Vitaliy got a new bike - a far cry from a car but he loves, loves, loves it.  He got a few others things along with an Addidas jacket and pants.  They are black and he wore them for several days in a row when I finally said to him "It is going to be hot today, you are wearing long sleeves and all black.....and.... you are now an official cartoon character so it is time to change your clothes."  He finally did but he has worn them a couple more times since.  In Ukraine the Addidas brand is "all that!" But here it is just another sports brand.  He really hasn't figured that out yet...but I am glad he really likes it.

Tiffany took Michael and Tyler to Lagoon and they were modeling their new glasses.  They had an amazing time.  It is funny how you can look at your almost grown children and picture them still really little.  I am so glad they all get along so well now that they are older....for the most part anyway.

Mother's Day was fabulous.  My favorite gift was given to me by my 15 year old, Jason.  He secretly videotaped everyone in the family and asked them what they love about me.

Jackson - loves me and I make good food

Cali - loves me, I make good food and I am nice (I am glad the times when I am not don't stand out), oh and I pray with her

Dustin - I make good food again - go figure, I help a lot - he loves me too

Sasha - loves me, says I am nice and he is so happy that I got him from Ukraine (my heart melted)

Jenae - had a long list but loves it when we go out together and I buy her candy and pop-tarts, she said she loves that I always exercise in the morning because she would rather die than do that

Jason - was very sweet and told me how he thought I was great and if he ever yells at me the way Michael       does I am supposed to show him the video so he will stop doing it

Vitaliy - said I am awesome and he is glad I am always trying to fix him (I loved that part because when we are having the mother/child conversations I tell him that I don't have many years with him and I am just trying to help him be better - maybe he is getting it after all)

Tyler - He said that he loves me and that he loves that I just lay it out on the line, no beating around the bush...I say it like it is...weird...he likes that!

Michael - loves me cause I make good food and clean up...but also because I am there when he needs me (oooh!)

Tiffany - she made me cry when she talked about how I am a great example to her and how she wants to be like me some day - she doesn't seem to realize that she is soooooo much better than me and she is an example to me!

Andy - He said beautiful things that a husband should say and I love him right back!

So - I had a great mother's day and I love my family - what more could you ask for! I have spent way too much time on the blog....back to homework....until next time!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Well, I haven't posted in FOREVER!!!!!  This is our family this last week at Tiffany's college graduation (all except Michael who couldn't make it because of a soccer game).  

Tiffany graduated from UVU with her third degree, this time a bachelors in Nursing.  She is doing amazing!  She has been officially single for a while now and doing fantastic.  She currently has a boyfriend and is very active with friends and fun.  She is an accomplished ballroom dancer and loves to go country dancing with her good friends.  We are proud of all of her accomplishments...she has been through a lot in her 23 years but she always comes out on top!

Michael also just graduated from UVU with his Associates in Science while at the same time completing his senior year in High School.  Yup, you heard me right.  He is the second in our family to get his Associates while still in high school and Tyler will do the same next year.  Michael is currently very busy with school and soccer.  He is the keeper for the varsity team at school.  This year he was also awarded first place at the Regional Science Fair for his project on Nitrogen Fixation.  He also received some honors and scholarships for his project.

Tyler has been working hard with school and at his job at a local hardware store (which he totally loves).  He is still amazing at juggling and will be in his school's talent show this year.  He has also taken a huge liking to the rubiks cube in all it's many, many varieties.  He can solve a 2x2, 3x3, 5x5 and a 7x7.  He is currently making his own custom cube.  He is amazingly creative.  

Vitaliy is currently on a soccer team of his own and plays midfield.  He is doing great in school and his English is awesome.  He still loves to ride his bike and is currently working on his scouting.  We informed him that he needed his Eagle before he can get his driver's license.  He wasn't too thrilled about that but he enjoys scouting.  He will be spending a lot of time this summer working in scouting.  
I had to throw this one in.  This is typical Vitaliy and Jason.  They can be the best of friends and the worst of enemies.  Makes life really fun.

Jason earned his Eagle Scout in December.  He is also doing very well in school and will follow in his brothers and sister's footsteps next year as his school schedule will be filled with college classes.  Jason is still a complete clown and adds a lot of fun to the house.  I'd say that one of his favorite pass times, though, is as a "student" in parenting as he loves to get on all the younger kids and keep them in line.

Beautiful Jenae...still an amazing gymnast and doing fabulous in school.  She is so outgoing and happy all the time.  Well, almost, she is a preteen now and the mood swings have begun.  Jenae has really enjoyed spending extra time with her sister, Tiffany, these days.  Jenae loves to babysit but her favorite place in the world to be is at the gym.  She turned 12 in January and is now in Young Women's which she loves, loves, loves.

Sasha is learning to read!!!! We are so excited for him.  We have been working on his enunciation lately because he tends to get lazy when speaking.  He still understands Russian but can't speak it.  He loves going to school and has a knack for coming home with things that don't belong to him.  He doesn't steal them....he is great at bartering for things.  We just have to be careful of the things that he is trading away.  He is still very happy and loves to be loved.  He is full of "I love you mom".  He also loves, loves, loves scouting!  

Dusty is as happy as he looks.  Dusty also loves scouting.  He is doing good in school and loves to play with his friends.  He loves to walk to school regardless of bad weather.  It would have to be sleeting and hailing for him not to walk to school.  Dusty got a bike for his birthday and loves to ride it whenever he can.  He is an active, outdoor kind of guy!

Cali Ann....she would love to be a scout if she could.  She is such a sweet heart and loads of spunk to go along with that.  Cali is doing well in first grade and loves her teacher.  She loves to play with friends and her, Sasha and Jackson always have fun playing together.  This is a girl that doesn't mind getting dirty.  She is loads of fun and then some!

My sweet Jackson!!!  He is so cute.  he is going to start school in the fall and mom is so, so sad about it.  Jackson is still the most fun loving kid!  He loves to play with his best friends, Sadie and Jake.  He also loves to follow me around and talk with me.  He always has the cutest things to say.  He tells me he loves me at 30,000 times a day and I love to hear it!

This is the newest member of our family.  This is Lizzy.  She was born on November 17, 2011 and we got her in February of this year.  She is a cute little boxer and we love her soooooooooooooo much!  She is so spoiled.  Our other dog, Oreo, died of cancer this year and everyone was sad without him.  So here comes Lizzy and she is such a great dog!  (like we really needed another mouth to feed....I know.... but she is great)

This is the most recent pic of Andy and I, just taken on Friday at Tiffany's graduation.  How are we???? Well, I think we are a bit tired most of the time.  Life is crazy busy.  

For Andy, work is finally picking up.  It has been a challenging five years with the troubled economy but he has hung in there all along.  Work is busier and we hope and pray it gets better and better.  As usual, Andy is very busy with scouting as the Varsity Scout Coach and he loves all those boys.  The boys in our troop are his second family and he is great with them.  Andy's work creativity gets better and better with each year.  You should just see the amazing finish carpentry he does for people.  He is a very talented man!  I might add that he is a great father and the world's greatest husband (and best friend)!

As for me....I just completed my first semester in pre-nursing with all A's.  I was sooooo excited about that. I have spent the majority of my time since January doing homework...especially math.  I love school and if all goes well I will be applying for the nursing program in the Spring of 2013.  The rest of my time is spent keeping things in order and taking people here and there.

It has been an amazing year since we adopted our boys.  Oh how the time has flown by.  It has been a year of adjustment and association.  Yes there has been downs but the ups outweigh the downs.  Everyone is settling in and things are going as good as they can.  I am glad the first year is behind us.  Looking back, I would do it all over a heartbeat!  (not saying I would do it again, but we wouldn't change a thing!)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Little of This & A Little of That!

Don't really know what Sasha is doing here...funny though!
 We hiked to Stewart falls with my brother's and sister's families.  We went on Labor Day.  It seemed that everybody and their mother's uncle was there with us.  It was really fun!

Andy was trying to hold Jason still for a picture.

 This is Andy with a lot of the Scouts to complete Jason's Eagle project up on the G mountain.  They cleared a new portion of the G hike so it won't be so steep at the end of the hike.  They had a great time doing the project.  Tyler and Sam found a lot of old, old cans and even a coke bottle that dated back to the 30's or 40's.  They both want to go back for treasure hunting.  They found Shasta cans, 7up cans and others.  Some had the old pull tab on them but some you had to use a can opener to punch both sides in order to drink...I don't remember those kind of cans.

 It was Homecoming on Saturday night.  This is Michael with Megan getting ready to go.  I miss being able to take pictures because I am the mom of the boy and all the pictures get taken at the girls house.  Thanks to the girls parents for taking good pictures.
 They look soooooo good!!!
  Both the boys had really wonderful girls to take to the dance.  I am grateful for great parents who raise wonderful daughters for my sons to date!

 This is Tyler and his date, Lexi.  This was Tyler's first date.  They look really good together and everyone had a great time.  They went out in group dates.  There were twenty kids in Michael's group.  Tyler had a big group also.
 Left to right, Tiffany, Courtney and Lucy, Courtney's sister.  They went on the "Dirty Dash".  It was a 10K in Midway by Soilder Hollow.  It is called the Dirty Dash because you run most of it in huge puddles of mud.   They also went with their friend Josh.  He must have taken this picture.  He is in the next picture though.  Tiffany works with Courtney and Josh at the care facility.  She had such a great time.  Wish we could have gone with her but we had soccer games and a lot of running around to do.  

 This was the after picture.  They were covered in Mud!  I am really glad Tiffany has good friends to hang out with.  She needs that in her life right now.  You got to be a good friend to do something like this, right?!

 Vitaliy has an amazing gift at creating amazing things out of legos.  This is a house he built.  Now the pictures do not do it justice.  He has built bookshelves with books on them, plank flooring, a microwave, cabinets, shelves, tables, chairs, computer desks, name it, he came up with it.  Now we have been buying Legos for years and we have these huge bins of Legos.  He has organized them and keeps building amazing things.  I can't even begin to list all the different things he has built.  This was definitely the most impressive to me because there is such attention to detail.  I would love anyone's input on others things I could encourage him to do with these talents that he has.  He also has a great talent fixing and working with electronics.  He can fix things and create things out of old phones and chargers, radios and thing like that.  If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them.

 This is a close up of the kitchen.  You can see the plank flooring, the countertops, chairs and cups on the table.

This is a side shot of the house along with the car that he made to go inside.  Like I said, this is just one of many, many things he has built.  

I just wanted to throw this one in.  They are so cute together, Jenae and Jackson.

The days and weeks are moving faster than I can keep up with.  It's Friday before I can blink an eye.  The kids are growing up so fast.  As school was starting I saw so many moms with their toddlers and car seats and realized that I was moving out of that after so many, many years of strollers, car seats, diapers, pacifiers.  I still have one more sort of toddler at home and I try to enjoy every single minute with him because I feel those days slipping through my fingers.  I love being a mom of teenagers and I think they are great.  I have a soft spot for teenage boys because I have so many of them and they fill my life with fun and laughter.  I guess I am starting to close the door to some stages and moving into others.  I am just going to keep enjoying the journey.....I'm still hanging on as we go because it goes quickly and sometimes there are a few bumps in the road.....wouldn't trade my life for anything in the entire world!!!!!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I Love Schedules & Structure!

Sasha had his first overnighter with his Scout troop and he earned his First Aid Merit Badge this month too!  He absolutely loves scouting!

 I spent a lot of time in the summer like this.  Sad to say that this is probably the last summer I will carry a child on my back...Hey...that might not be so bad seeing that he weighs close to 40 pounds!  Bittersweet though...I am getting old...ugh!

 First day of school for the Elementary kids.  I walked them to school, Cali didn't want me to come but then when it was time to go to 1st grade, she was glad I was there.

 We were looking through old pictures.  This is Tiffany on the left with her cousin Amy on the this picture.

 Oh my goodness!!!! This is Tyler when he was a baby (now 16).  He was the SWEETEST baby!!!!

 Jason & Vitaliy...a little older pic but I wanted to throw it in.  These two can be so much alike...its scary!  It also means that they butt heads now and again.

 Okay...pulled out the two HUGE tubs of Legos we have and they built so many amazing things.  I may have posted this before...can't remember but I was impressed.  This was a fun summer on a hot day activity.

 Jenae and Sasha...cute!!!

This is Michael and his "best friend" Megan.  They are inseparable! 

Can I just say I am so very glad school has started.  I don’t mean that in a ‘I can’t stand to have my kids at home’ way.  I mean it in a ‘I love structure in my life’ way.  My kids do so much better with set schedules and structures.  Let’s face it, during summer break do you really want to get up at 6:30 am if you don’t have to?  Do you really want to structure your day if it is not necessary?  Well, I don’t, so summer does serve some purpose.  But, this summer seemed challenging to me.  Having two new children in the house that, in my opinion, really require structure was challenging and a bit stressful. 

Now that school is in, we have a better handle on chores, schedules and what is allowed in your spare time.  For example, during the school year, video games are only allowed after school on Friday and a little on Saturday.  Between the chores Andy gives and the ones I give, Saturday is busier and there is less time to play games.  Which, in my opinion, is great….don’t even get me started on what I think about video games…ugh…a complete waste of time.  However, I do allow a little.  During the summer, there was a lot more freedom with that and I didn’t like it.  But, when it is so stinking hot outside, and, I am not the most creative mom, you do what you can do with it.

So….school is in and everyone is enjoying it…well…as much as kids enjoy school.  I really think that they enjoy the social part most, of course, who wouldn’t?  I have only Jackson home with me which is wonderful and I am so loving it!  My high school boys have unusual schedules so they come home once in a while and that works out just fine.

We have been working with Vitaliy to rely on his English for reading, writing and especially praying during family prayer.  He is getting really good at English and it is very easy and comfortable to have a pretty normal conversation with him these days.  I had some time alone with him recently and was able to talk about things that went on during the hosting and the time between then and the adoption and it was very enlightening.  I can’t wait to have that kind of conversation with Sasha.  He is doing very well on his English but still struggles quite a bit with the alphabet and things.  His conversational English is really good though. 

When I am a good mom…a patient mom….a mom that takes time to reflect on what just happened and how best to handle it, we can have some really good learning moments together.  I really need to work on being that kind of mom…I am only a part-time good, patient, reflective mom right now.  Anyway….Vitaliy likes to make everything a competition and doesn’t handle not winning very well.  Well, I was headed in to talk with him and I was not happy, but the part-time good mom kicked in and we had a wonderful talk about how we have so little time together and how it is important for him to understand that I have more years under my belt…yada, yada, yada…and how what matters is how we play the game…how we live our lives, not who wins that matters.  I told him that some day when we face our Heavenly Father, he isn’t going to ask us how many races we won or how much money we made…he is going to look at how we ‘played the game’ and judge us on that.  It really was a great moment. 

Every once in a while I see a little glimmer of all our efforts paying off.  I really hold onto to those moments because it is going to take a lot more time than 4 ½ months to undo many years of their lives.  Am I up for it….well, apparently my Heavenly parents think I am so I will just have to roll with that!

Our beautiful daughter, Tiffany, just passed her NCLEX and she is now a Registered Nurse!!! Yeah!!!!  We are so proud of her.  She will graduate with a Bachelors in Nursing in May and school will be done for her.  Unfortunately, but in many ways, fortunately, all this was going on as she was in the process of a divorce after only two years of marriage.  There is so much more to say about that but now is not the time.  She has moved back home with us and seems happier than she has in a very long time.  My mom says she is even glowing.  It is nice to have the old Tiffany back again.  Something is definitely said for being surrounded by people who love you!  I feel for the younger generation that is getting married right now because there are so many difficult issues they have to deal with that we never did when we were their age.  There are so many worldly and stupid distractions that can pull young husbands and even young wives away from what is most important in life.  I look forward to the day when Tiffany can be married to someone who loves, honors and respects her as the beautiful daughter of God that she is.

Sorry for the long post…. Hopefully I won’t wait so long for the next.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Family Fun!

This is Jackson and I.  We all hiked from our house to the Battlecreek Waterfall.  It is a great hike.  A little tough with 40 pounds on your back...but I am always up for a work out!

It is a tradition for Andy to take pictures this way.  He took a picture like this with his scouts last year just minutes before his accident and he has been doing it ever since.

Jackson and Jenae!  Our campsite was like a really big house with vaulted ceilings.  We had a sitting area down by the back of the van that I would classify as the Kitchen.  We would all hang out there during the day and at night we headed up to the table and fire pit for an evening around the fire.  I forgot to mention that the first day we had two thunder showers.  The first one we managed to keep everything dry and we sat under our "porch" and waited it out.  The other one...everything got soaked and muddy and we spent a long time drying chairs over the fire.

 This was one of their tree houses in the making.  Michael worked so long and hard on all those lashing that his hands were so sore.  I carved sticks so long that my hands hurt too!  How fun is that to get sore from whittling and not because you cut yourself!
 They would keep rebuilding their crows nest to see how high up in the trees they could get it.  It was fun to watch.

 This is our nieces - Chantel on the left and Celeste on the right and Tiffany in the middle.  They are all so beautiful...inside and out!

 This is when we finally arrived at Stewart Falls.  It is a favorite hike of our family. 

 Roasting Smo's by the fire!

 Cleaning up the campsite

 Andy relaxing for the first in forever!

One of the best things I learned in Ukraine...give the kids the camera and you get some really fun shots!
Relaxing and talking...good family fun!

This was Tyler's last crows nest and it was up there!
This was Jackson's birthday at the Creamery.  We put candles in his ice cream and sang Happy Birthday to him.  Good thing not too many people were around to hear us!

We were finally able to take a family vacation!  Seeing that our old van can’t go too far this was probably the only real one we will have but boy was it G-R-E-A-T!!!  I love camping!  We went up the Provo Canyon to Aspen Grove.  Well, the camp ground is actually called Timpanogos Camp Ground.  It is so, so, so very beautiful there!  We found a site that we thought was big enough for two tents.  Turned out it was big enough for three.  We borrowed two scout tents from our troop.  Andy and I and the two littlest ones had a tent, Vitaliy, Sasha, Jason, Jenae and Dusty had our family tent and Michael and Tyler had one of the Scout tents.  Tiffany was able to come up and spend one night with us so she slept in our tent.  So…for one whole night we had our whole family together around the camp fire!  Sniffle, sniffle…for a Mom that was an amazing night! 

The boys spent much of their time lashing logs together and making tree houses and crow’s nest perches to sit in.  It is a different world camping with teenage boys.  They are very creative with ropes and trees!  We also brought the BB guns and blow guns.  Sasha was banned from both after several attempts to teach safety but while he did play with them he had fun.  They killed many a large spider with the blow guns and had a lot of fun target shooting with the BB guns.  We brought lots of junk food and ate ourselves crazy.  That was fun too.  You know, all that camping food….candy, cookies, pop tarts, jiffy pop pop corn (you have got to have that when camping).  I love those little boxes of cereal to take camping.  We always had those when I was growing up so we had to bring those.  By the way…hard to find them…Macy’s sells them, in case anyone needs to know. 

We invited my brother’s family to camp, too, and my mom even came up for an evening.  We had my brother’s kids with us at our camp site and it was great to spend time with them.  Our incredible niece, Chantel, leaves for her mission this Wednesday so it was a real treat to spend time with her. 

We sat around for a whole day on Friday doing nothing but carving walking sticks, talking and having fun.  It is probably the first time in who knows how long Andy has had a whole day to do nothing…it was heavenly!!! 

On our last day we hiked to Stewart Falls.  It is a four mile round trip that takes two hours.  For those of you who haven’t done that hike it is wonderful.  It is a great hike for kids of all ages.

The last few weeks we have focused on spending more quality fun time with the kids.  It seems life gets so busy that we don’t always take the time to do that.  We have gone swimming quite a bit at our community pool, hiking, and walking.  We have taken them to the BYU Creamery a few times.  As much as we are Ute Fans, the Creamery is to die for!  It is so reasonable to take a big family for ice cream.  Another favorite pass time is to go to Rock Canyon Park just above the Provo Temple at night time and play on the playground and the big grassy hill.  Don’t know why we always end up there at night, but it is really fun to play on the playground at night. 

In the last two weeks Jackson has turned four and Tyler has turned sixteen.  We will be getting his driver’s license tomorrow.  Cali turns six this week. 

The new boys are enjoying all the hiking and outdoor fun.  We still have our share of problems to smooth out but for the most part all is going really well.  Their English is improving all the time.  They started saying their times to pray in English.  That was hard for them because they didn’t feel too confident in it but they are doing really well with it.

This has been a fun summer for our family and again, the camping trip was just the best!  A couple more weeks till school starts but we plan to go camping a couple more times before the weather goes bad. 

Andy and I celebrated (or at least wished each other) a happy anniversary the Friday we were camping.  All I can say is life is good!  No matter what happens, life is always good!