Monday, June 27, 2011

Stake Youth Conference Week

 Cali riding her bike.  She likes to wear a baseball cap under her helmet because Sasha does.  If it was up to her, she would be a boy!  

 Jenae is always... I mean always helping her younger brothers and sister.  She is helping Jackson on a two wheeler with training wheels.

 Dusty loves to ride bikes.  He and Vitaliy will ride out of the canal and love every minute of it.

 Here is Vitaliy outside the USCIS after receiving his Certificate of Citizenship.  Sasha received his in the mail a few weeks ago.  We had a fun afternoon getting this.  Then we went out to eat and enjoyed good conversation.  You can learn a lot about each other when you turn the radio off in the car. 

Last week was a quieter week than usual.  It was out Stake’s Stake Youth Conference.  My son Michael was the youth in charge of it and I think he did a pretty good job if I do say so myself.  It stressed him out quite a bit, but he did good! 

Michael, Tyler and Vitaliy all attended.  They started with a BBQ and swim party, the next day an outdoor fun day of games and rock climbing, a dance and ended with a service project of hard work in the hot sun and an evening fireside all of which was incorporated with spiritual enrichment.  What a great few days!  I am so grateful for the youth programs in our Stake that do so much for our kids.  These boys came home happier each day they went…well with the exception of Jason not really enjoying the dance.  Vitaliy absolutely loved the dance.  He has been to a couple of dances but this one took the cake.  One of the girls came up to Tyler and told him, “I just danced with your brother and his accent is dreamy!”  Ugh!!!  I didn’t know girls still talked like that.  Anyway, it was so fun to see their countenances brighten each day!  The more involved with Church and it’s activities Vitaliy gets, the more you can see his heart and spirit soften….I absolutely love it!

The younger kids and I just went about our normal week of trying to keep things picked up.  I did stay home a lot which meant that I spent less money (yeah!) and got caught up on the laundry.  I did a lot of house work too.  It was a good week.

Michael and Tyler are off again this week.  They are staffing at the Timberline Scout Camp in Mt. Pleasant.  Tyler went on Saturday with the group but Michael had to be taken yesterday because he had to stay and finish up with Youth Conference.  So…we drove our little VW Beetle, no problem with that except the last probably two miles was off road.  We drove so slow because I didn’t want to damage my car.  We are so used to big SUV’s and not worrying about those things until we got this Beetle.  Oh, the world of smaller cars.  Gotta love them though…if there isn’t room for them in the car…they can’t go.  Too bad, that means mom has to go all by herself…what a shame!  I only take the 15 passenger when I really need to.

Because Vitaliy was 14 when he was adopted he did not get his United States Citizen Certificate without having to go down to the USCIS office in Sandy.  Did you even know there is a USCIS office in Sandy?!?  I didn’t.  Why in the world were we dealing with and overnighting, etc., all that stuff to the Midwest…really!!!  Anyway, he had to read over the oath and he had to sign saying he would abide by it.  I read it to him and explained the things he didn’t understand.  Then I proceeded to help him spell his middle name as he signed because he didn’t know how.   I thought that was kind of fun.  I got a bit choked up as we read through the oath.  Then I made him pose for a picture outside with his certificate.  He didn’t want to at first then he did.  I said, “don’t you realize what a golden ticket you have in your hand?  Do you know how many people want what you are holding?”  He, as you can see in the picture, happily posed for a picture.

Talk about getting choked up, we had the boy’s baptismal interview last night.  I loved listening to Vitaliys’ answers to the questions.  He is so happy to be getting baptized.  You can see it in his face and you can feel it when he talks about it.  Sasha was a bit silly during his interview but that is typical of him. 

So, not a lot of pictures this week.  Everyone is doing well and enjoying the summer.  The kids are learning more English and I am learning more Russian.  We have had more heart to heart talks lately and even some parent to son talks on serious issues.  It is a fun to watch as the boys are really settling in to our house and our family.  It really feels good!

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Lot of High Adventure!

The boy's at camp, Jason, Tyler, Vitaliy

 I just love this shot of Jason.  He just has this great little boy a good way!

 Vitaliy....King of the Mountain!

 Tyler (with a weird look on his face) showing us the sights.  He was the photographer on the trip and did a great job!

 Vitaliy repelling

 See, what did I tell you...he always has a funny look on his face.  I think he does it on purpose.

 Climbing through the slot canyons

 Jenae just had her hair re-cut and it is shorter.  She took the camera and took so many, many, many, etc, etc, etc, pictures of herself.  I threw this one in that we took together.

 When I first did my blog so very long ago, I named our two new boys Thing 1 and Thing 2.  This is Jackson....he must be Thing 3!

 For some reason yesterday Sasha, Cali and Jackson pulled out the snow clothes and dressed up in them and played for a while in them.  Here is Sasha!

 Michael and I were doing Yoga...Royal Dancer Pose... but Michael decided to pose for a picture instead.

This is Jenae right after her hair was re-cut.  I just love her new look!

 Here is Dad.  Happy Father's Day!!!  Jenae was posing weird on purpose in this one!

My older boys had a fun filled week at Scout camp.  Michael and the Ventures (16-17) went to Coyote Gulch and Lake Powell.  They backpacked and water skied, not bad, huh?!  Every year that boy gets stronger and stronger.  His first real backpacking experience was when he was 14 and carried a pack that weighed over 40 pounds.  He had a great time and assured me that there were many spiritual experiences.  (That was a concern of mine) 

Tyler, Vitaliy and Jason went with the Varsity’s (14-15) to the Entrada High Adventure BSA Camp.  They hiked, free climbed, repelled, shot guns and a bunch of other things that boys like to do.  They took some great pictures.  One of the videos that they shot was of Tyler and Vitaliy and two other boys laying on the ground hanging over this ledge that went straight down….way down.  They threw a rock down to show how far down it was.  These are things that mom’s just don’t need to know about….at least not until they are all home safe, anyway!  They had an amazing trip.  They really loved the repelling.  They repelled a 30 foot wall that Vitaliy was proud to say he repelled in 13 seconds and they repelled a 120 foot wall.  I saw pictures and it was huge!  The camp had bikes they could ride so they really liked riding out there.  Entrada is in Moab and it is really beautiful there.  They also had a shooting range there.  (Just FYI, all their activities were run by experienced people who worked at the camp…just saying)  Vitaliy had the opportunity to shoot a 350 magnum.  The instructor told him to be careful because the gun would kick back.  On his first shot his arm kicked back.  He turned to the others with a smile on his face and said, “I like that!”  He then shot several more rounds and hit the target perfectly.  Apparently, he is a marksman.  They also spent one day white water rafting.  They said it was awesome.

The boys all came home tired but very excited about their trips.  It is good to have them home.  Each night the Varsity’s had a devotional.  One night Vitaliy was called on to pray and he did it in Russian.  Yesterday at church one of the boys in their group was asked to tell about their experience at camp during Sacrament meeting.  He talked about how Vitaliy prayed and even though no one understood Russian, they understood and felt the spirit of his prayer.  It was an awesome testimony to hear.  It was obvious to me that the Spirit did touch and teach our boys during their campouts and I am grateful for that. 

The younger family that stayed home had a busy week too.  I was determined that they were going to have a campout in the backyard but my week started to fill up.  I was trying to help Andy get one of his jobs done so he could go to camp with the Varsity’s so I went over there four days in a row to help with cleaning and painting.  He never was able to go but the job is almost done.  Meanwhile, Jenae did a lot of babysitting for the younger kids.  I wasn’t too happy about being away from them each afternoon, but they managed.  Finally, on Thursday night we pitched a tent in the backyard.  We roasted marshmellows in the microwave and made smores with Ukrainian chocolate (thank you Stephanie for bringing us home chocolate).  We brought the laptop outside and watched Despicable Me with everyone as we were sprawled out on our air mattresses.  Andy asked me if WE were supposed to sleep in the tents, or just the kids.  After all, he had worked so many, many hours all week and was tired.  I told him that I really wanted to be out there with them to get the full experience.  We did end up sleeping out there and it was pretty comfortable.  It was a cold night though, but it was really fun!  I would have loved to bottle the expression on Sasha’s face when he learned that he would be sleeping in the tent overnight.  He was beyond thrilled!

Okay, I have got to mention the weird food item for the week.  Last night, Sasha made a jam, mustard (and I mean a lot of mustard), ham, and cheese sandwich on toasted bread…and he ate the WHOLE thing!  It was gross!!!

We had another missionary discussion.  Before we set the baptism date I told the missionaries that I wasn’t sure because I had never heard how the boys really feel in their hearts about all that they have learned.  I told Vitaliy that he needed to know in his heart that what the missionaries have taught him and what he feels and has learned at home and at church is true, that Heavenly Father has confirmed to him through prayer that it is true and right for him before he could commit to baptism.  He then proceeded to express his feelings in Russian.  I then felt what the boys felt at camp.  I didn’t know exactly what he said, but the Spirit of it confirmed to me that he has a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Then I turned to Sasha.  Now Sasha doesn’t learn like everyone else might and he doesn’t necessarily express himself the same either.  But, he is very receptive to the Spirit and I have seen that time and time again, especially with the primary music.  So, I had him look right at me and I reminded him of the music he loves at Church and the times he and I have sung “I Am A Child Of God” in his room at night and asked him if he understood the missionaries and if he knew that he was a child of God.  Well, I could see the softness of the Spirit come over his face and I knew that he knew he was a child of God.  What a great moment that was for me to see!  He understands as best he can right now and that is what was needed.  The boys will be baptized a week from this Saturday.  I am grateful for how the Gospel and the Spirit can soften hearts and enlighten minds…it works on me every day….as long as I allow it to. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Summer Vacation??? A Vacation???

This Jenae and I at Summer Games right after the award ceremony

We went to Wingers for a late lunch after Summer Games.  Every year Michael designs a shirt to wear which says he is Jenae's biggest fan.  What a guy!!!

 This is Vitaliy in his Class A and Andy in is Class B - they made the Class B shirts for their camp.  Tyler designed the shirts.
Here he is posing for the picture!  What a great smile.  By the way, he and Sasha are now sporting the famous Golling haircut.  Which, by the way, was not forced on them...they asked for it.  Well, it was sort of forced on Sasha, but once he got it, he was happy.  I am pretty sure he didn't think I was talented at cutting hair, but once I was done he realized, Wow, she didn't do half bad.

Please note Jackson's designer style...three ties and pajamas on his head....he pulls it off!!!

I gave the camera to Sasha and ten minutes later he had fifty pictures are a few of the good ones.  Jason and Jenae out front.

Dusty loves Basketball

Jackson just kickin' it!

Tyler in front of the computer.  He is a wiz at helping me with the computer!
Did you know that the "G" in Pleasant Grove stands for "Gratitude"  We sure picked the right place to live.  By the way...this is the view from our porch!  Oh, we live in a beautiful place!

The summer is going full force now.  Jenae competed in Gymnastics at Summer Games in Cedar City last weekend.  She received the Gold medal for the beam in her age division.  It was really exciting.  Michael, Jenae and I drove down Friday night and stayed in a hotel overnight.  Okay, that really was a vacation.  We went swimming until ten o’clock, along with at least thirty other kids, but it was fun and the pool was warm.  We went out to eat and nothing was rushed.  It was really fun.  I really enjoyed having the time to spend with just two children alone together. 

Friday morning, the same day we drove to Cedar City, Vitaliy and I drove up to Weber State for Michael’s Boy’s State graduation.  I have to say it was intimidating sitting in a room with 259 young men who you know were 99.5% Eagle Scouts and 99.5% with amazing grade point averages.  Out of all the young men, 197 of them received scholarships.  Michael did earn one of the scholarships and that was exciting as well.  The majority of the graduation was focused on gratitude for our armed forces.  The youth Lieutenant Governor was a young man named Andrew who suffers from Cerebral Palsy.  He was absolutely amazing and incredibly motivating.  I hung on his every word.  He was elected to his position by his peers and I can certainly see why.  He had my vote.  The other boys loved him!  Watching him made you appreciate life and strive to be a better person.  By the way, thank you Stephanie for joining us at the graduation.  It was amazing seeing you!

So…Michael came back from Boy’s State, Jenae competed in Utah Summer Games, Jason, Tyler and Vitaliy leave for their Varsity High Adventure Camp tomorrow, Andy joins them on Wednesday, Michael leaves for his Ventures High Adventure Camp on Tuesday and I will be home with our “younger” family consisting of Jackson, Cali, Dusty, Jenae and Sasha.  I will only have five kids!!! Five young kids for that matter.  This should be fun!  There is a whole different set of activities you can do with just younger kids and I am looking forward to that.  Maybe we will camp in the backyard…they would love that!

Vitaliy received his first class A Scout uniform today and he posed for a picture in it.  Let me say that again, did you catch that…HE posed for a picture!  He is very proud to be a Scout and I am really excited for him. 

We should have some baptisms coming up soon.  We found out today that when the boys are sealed to us in the temple, which can happy anytime after their baptism once Vitaliy receives the priesthood, that all of our children will be able to come into the sealing room to witness it!  That is very, very cool!!!

I am anxious to share my testimony of the gospel with the boys.  There have been many things I wish I could explain to them better.  But, the most important thing I wish they knew is my love for my Father in Heaven.  It is because of His relationship with me that helps me with my relationship with my children.  I was sitting in Sacrament meeting today.  I was asking forgiveness, yet again, for not being as good of a mom as I can be.  I asked Heavenly Father, how does he love us but dislike the things that we do?  What made me think that was I find it hard to find the likability of a child when I don’t like what they are doing.  My husband asked me, so it’s not that he is being bad, it’s just that you know he can be so much better.  Then I realized that I just received part of my answer.  Heavenly Father must look at us, and in my case, often, and think, “She could be so much better than she is being right now”.  That made me realize that if I look at it from his perspective, I can approach it positively.  It was a mini-revelation and I needed it.  Now I just need to apply it.  It has changed my mood and I am grateful for that.

I want more than anything for the boys to have the gospel in their lives.  Not just because we have it but because it brings me so much happiness, comfort and peace to know who I am and how I fit into my Heavenly Family.  So, I look forward to sharing that with them as soon as I can.

I appreciate all who support our family in what we are doing and thank you for that support.  It helps more than you know.  I also really appreciate all those families who have adopted and share their stories with me because it helps me in so many ways.

Families…..It’s where it’s at!!!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Always a fantastic smile!!!!

 Jenae had a hair cut for the first time and had enough cut off to donate to Locks for Love

 This is our friend and hairdresser.  Jenae babysat in exchange for a haircut.  She will be going back next week because she wants it even shorter.

 I had to throw this one in.  This is Jackson sharing a snack with our neighbor Sadie.  They have been spending a lot of time together.  I want to save this picture when they are both like 17 to show them then!
 Eating ice cream after a healthy walk.  Sometimes this angle of a picture for him is the best that I can get.

 On the other hand, Sasha and Jenae are always ready for pictures!

 Andy finally gets his teeth at the end of this month.  A whole year after his accident!

 This is Sasha's birthday cake.  The others were trying so hard to stop him from blowing out the candles until after we finished singing to him.

 More ice cream!!! What!!!!
 At first Vitaliy was slaughtering Sasha at soccer.  I tried desperately to explain to him that it isn't just about winning.  After all it is Sasha's birthday...don't you want him to have a good day.  Finally, he thought he understood and then started giving his goals to Sasha's really just isn't sinking in yet.

 Birthday cake and ice cream and a great big smile!

 It was supposed to be a picture of just me and Vitaliy but everyone saw the camera and jumped in!

 Vitaliy thought the glasses were cool.  I do think he needs to go to the eye doctor.  I'm not sure he will be as enthusiastic with real glasses.

 8th Grade Completion.  If you look closely, Jason and Vitaliy are the two extremely bored young men on the right hand side second row down.

 Completion again...Vitaliy is hold his certificate up-side-down on purpose.  I didn't notice until I downloaded the picture.  Jason received an award for perfect attendance and perfect citizenship.  Vitaliy received an award for perfect attendance.  After all, he had perfect attendance the whole month he attended!

The School year wrapped up nicely. It was really easy for the older boys and they kept reminding me that most kids are not going to school the last few days, especially not the last day of only an hour and a half.  But, for me, it was my last hour and a half with just Jackson so I made them go...I am so mean!

We have had success with Sasha at school and his behavior has dramatically improved.  I was very glad to hear that he was doing better.  Whatever he was doing, whether good or bad, it seemed that all the kids knew first and they were very eager to let me know.  They were all watching his every move.

Our city pool opened up and the kids are really enjoying spending time there.  All but two of my kids can go without an adult so they get a lot more time there than they used to.  We are a very outdoorsy family so we have been on a lot of bike rides and walks.  Thanks to one of our neighbors I think we now have enough bikes for everyone.  All we need is a trailer for those with little legs that can't go too far. 

We celebrated Sasha's 11th birthday last week and it was really fun.  He got his fingerless gloves that he has wanted for so long, dog tags and a V-tech laptop to name most of his gifts.  The V-tech is pretty fun.  It even has a function to learn Spanish, but I think we will hold off on that one. 

We are big Scouters in our house so Vitaliy helped with flags on Memorial Day.  It was raining pretty hard the morning we put them up but he didn't complain.  He really enjoys going to Scouts.  I think this summer with Scouts will be a blast!  They will be leaving next week for a week-long High Adventure Camp in Moab.  I can't wait to see how he likes it.  It is really helpful that my husband is the Varsity Coach and two of our other boys will be going too.  He came into a house with instant friends for Church and school.  It has been really helpful.

Missionary discussions are going well.  We had two of them without translators but they worked out okay.  At one time I prayed for some sort of "gift of tongues" so I could communicate with the boys.  Well...I had no major episode of speaking Russian but what I have had is an ability to communicate with the boys so they can understand.  It really is pretty cool.  I have also learned a few great Russian words which stand for...come here, listen, that is forbidden, and cool!  The most important words in our house for them are "I love you" and they know those in English already.

The kids also played soccer with the missionaries on their "P" day and they all had a great time.  One of our missionaries is being transferred to Orem and our interpreters are going home for the Summer but they are helping us to find someone who can fill in.  We have a Book of Mormon Stories in Russian and in English so for our scripture reading each night Vitaliy and I take turns reading each caption under the picture.  We are moving right through all those stories.  I love the Spirit that surrounds these two as they are learning the gospel.  They can really feel it also.  After every discussion, they are really pumped and are in great moods.

Today was the first day of Summer Seminary and Michael and Tyler always like to go to that.  They have it every Tuesday at 11:00.  Michael is away this week at Boy's State up in Weber so Tyler was going.  I asked him to take Jason and Vitaliy and they all really enjoyed it.  I am so grateful for programs like that. 

Life is good and going well.  It is not without it's bumps and bruises though.  This is a challenging time in our house.  It is hard to be patient, a trait I already struggled with, but it has been worth it.  So far the good times still out weigh the difficult or challenging times.

Let me give you an example of the difficult....

Sasha, come here.....Sasha, come here..... (many minutes pass).... Sasha!  Come Here!!!!
I win, I win, I win (did you know that just about everything is a competition?)
I not hungry, I don't want to eat (but you will snack on a whole loaf of bread....I don't think so)
Why can't I  (the rest of that doesn't matter....It gets old fast no matter what they want)

Now, an example of the good....

When they are asked to pray with out translator here, the number one thing they are grateful for is a family, a mama and papa
So many kisses on my cheeks that I need a bath (my other children have jumped on that band wagon, too!)
Very enthusiastic "I love you's"  many times throughout the day
Wanting to spend time with family

The difficult is only difficult because I wish that I could have had these boys long ago so they could have grown up in a family and had the security that comes from that.  The difficult is only difficult because life is busy and sometimes it doesn't feel like there is time to be patient.  (a correction I need to make).

The good is good because they feel loved by their family and they are starting to feel the love of a Heavenly Father who is watching over them. 

So....when you add it all up, Life is Good!  It really is!