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!