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!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What does 'Busy' really mean anyway?

 Michael and Jackson kick'in it!

 Tyler just being goofy!  Kudos to Tyler because this week he fixed my washing machine.  He wasn't told to do it he thought he would just look at it and see what he could do and he fixed it!  Love you Ty!

 A famous Jenae self-portrait!

 This is the fourth of July.  I couldn't remember if I posted these pics or not but this one is really good of Vitaliy.  He is starting to like the camera.

 The boys went on their Entrada Scout camp.  They rock climbed, biked, shot guns, white water name it, they did it.  Vitaliy was getting back into the boat after jumping into the water.  He said the water was VERY cold!

 This is a group of them on the boat.  Tyler is on the left and Vitaliy sort-of in the middle.

 Still at camp, setting up I think.

 Vitaliy was able to shoot a real gun for the first time.  He had brought a little money with him so he was able to shoot a 357.  He loved it!

 Andy finally got his permanent teeth!  He looks great!  I keep telling him how great he looks with his new teeth.  He is so glad he finally got them!

 We took the kids hiking on the G.  This is not my favorite picture of myself but we don't get too many where we are together in the picture so I let vanity go and posted it anyway.

 Jenae and Vitaliy enjoying the view.

 These two look like twins... it's hard to believe that they are two years apart.

 This is Cali on the Fourth with my niece, Celeste....Two beauties I'd say!

As the summer rolls on I have found that parenting can be a tiring job.  It’s a good job…and I like it, but I feel pretty exhausted at the end of the night.  You know…I was just rolling along in life.  Things seemed rather simple.  Everyone knew the routine and what was expected of them.  Yes…there was always fighting and a somewhat semi-organized chaos about the house, but it was so routine that it really didn’t faze me.  Just picture dinner time…kind of like the kitchen at Denny’s as everyone’s meal was being prepared.  It is just easier to dish out each plate and hand them out…youngest to older.  Occasionally, oldest to youngest…just to shake things up.  Then, someone starts crying or screaming about something…still very normal for our house.  Here comes our favorite private joke…Andy and I would just simple look at each other and very calmly say….”Do you hear someone crying?”  Answer:  “No, do you?”

Then, we thought, hey, two more….really…what’s two more when you already have eight.  Well….let me tell you…..two more is exactly that….TWO more! 

Okay…I am not complaining.  I love my two more!  I get all choked up when I go into Sasha’s room at night to check on him while he is sleeping.  Why?  Because, guess what?   He has a mom who thinks about him before he falls asleep and wants to make sure he is alright.  He doesn’t know I’m there doing that…but I am and it chokes me up…silly, but that’s the way I am.  I love more than anything watching them settle into family life.  They are truly happy and content and I love having them here.

Now, the tiring part.  It really is tiring training or re-training someone to all of a sudden be in a family that has routine and daily practices…does that make sense.  There seems to be a need for constant monitoring to guide and direct these boys.  Again….I am soooo not complaining, it is amazing and wonderful and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.  I am just saying that it is definitely challenging and enlightening.

I am very pleased with my other children who have done such a wonderful job of being patient and loving with their new brothers.  And, I am grateful to all my children for being patient with a mom who one minute is kind and loving and calm and the next minute is bug-eyed and a little less than relaxed.  It really is amazing how resilient children can be….yet another thing to be grateful for.

Update on activities…. Lots of scouting, hiking, biking, scootering, movie watching, eating, video game playing, eating, backpacking and yet more eating.  By the way…thanks to Wendy for her comment on buying frozen burritos (or not buying them anymore).  I never knew about them and I bought them.  The kids love them and it makes for a great and quick lunch!  Thanks, Wendy for the tip from your blog!

Sometimes I really feel like I don’t have anything to keep me busy.  People say to me all the time…in fact it is probably the comment I get more than anything…that, wow, you must be busy.  But, I really don’t feel that way as the day goes on.  Because, I could be cleaning, doing laundry or washing baseboards (do people really do that on a regular basis?) Or, I could clean my stove top instead of just wishing that I could buy a new one so I don’t have to scrub it like crazy.  But no, all this stuff still needs to be done so how can I possible be busy?  What am I doing all day?  Well, when I figure that out I will let you know…but, what I do know is when I hit the pillow at night, I am sooooo done!  I guess I must be busy.

I love my life, I love my kids, I am crazy about my amazing husband and….I look forward to the start of the new school year….what about you?

Friday, July 8, 2011

To Eternity!

Just had to blog today to share with you that our family went to the Mt Timpanogos Temple last night and the boys were sealed to Andy and I.  What a great night it was.  All of our children were in the sealing room with us.  I don't want to blog about the details but you have to imagine for a moment our ten children making their way through the temple to the sealing room all dressed in white!  It was an awesome sight to see.  What a great night it was!!!!

At one point it was mentioned all those who have helped us along our way through this adoption and to this point and I couldn't turn to look at those that were there because I knew it would be very emotional.  But, I need to let you all know how much everyone has had a hand in this.  There were many prayers and well wishers, there were those that helped financially, there were those that were sounding boards and shoulders to cry on and there were those that helped to push us along the way.  Some of you did more than one of those know who you are and we are forever grateful for your love and friendship.

We are, of course, still on this journey and have a long way to go but this was a monumental milestone and it feels GREAT!!!!

I had to throw this one in.  Here we were in our beautiful temple whites wearing our black, blue and brown shoes.  I cropped the shoes out of the first shot but thought this one was cute too!

 This was after we went out for ice cream and came home.  Vitaliy wanted this picture taken.  He prefers to wear his Church clothes this way but understands that it wouldn't really work out.  What a stud, huh?!?

I can't even tell you how many times Sasha said, "I love the temple".  He told each of us individually and then he told us all over again.  So, just to let you know, Sasha loves the temple.

I will blog again soon about the rest of our week because we did some fun stuff this week but I wanted this post to be all by itself.  I am so glad my kids were able to go inside the temple not only to be with us (of course) but because the temples are the most beautiful man made places on Earth!