Just when we thought that our plate was full in life, God dished us up some dessert!




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Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas and more!

My kids are not happy about my choice of Christmas trees this year. I don't know why! Ricky thinks it is cool. He was a little protective of it.....This is a Stas proof tree. If he knocks it over...which he certainly will, no one gets hurt :-)
Posting a day early because tomorrow I will likely be busy. How about you?

I think Stas' Christmas thank you's may read something like this:

"Dear _________:

Thank you for the box of _________. I love the BOX!

Love-
Stas"



Isn't Christmas Great????
This is our Christmas card this year. Enjoy!



Have yourself a blessed Christmas. Say a prayer for all of the sweet orphans who won't be celebrating this Christmas. Please take a moment to ask if you are being called to parent one of these precious little loves....and boy are they lovable!!! Please spread the word about Reece's Rainbow so next year a number of these children will spend Christmas in a home with a family....father and mother, brothers and sisters, a squishy bed and soft blankets. A nativity set and a Christmas tree (no matter how small). Kisses and hugs. Wrapping paper and boxes. Some gifts to open...but none better than the love of a family.

May the love and innocence of the Christ Child fill your hearts and minds this Christmas. Welcome Him as you consider welcoming another precious child :-)

Friday, December 10, 2010

A trip to see Jodi....

...her family and Santa!

My sister and I were needing to head to St. Michael, MN to visit their Catholic School. We were showing them our new program that we designed and would love to see it in the hands of every school in our Archdiocese, and across the country---www.PURElyYOU.org

Not only was I excited to present the program, but I was  thrilled to be able to go to St. Michael because my best blog friend (bbf), Jodi, lives there. For those that don't know this, I met Jodi through Reece's Rainbow, as her darling Toma lived in the same orphanage as Stas and she had been to Ukraine several months prior to us.

My sister and I left early to be able to have enough time to visit..okay, at least some time. I called Jodi on the way to tell her that I was an hour or so out. Little did I know that she emailed my house in the meantime asking when I would be there. Well, my husband so kindly intercepted that email and replied unbeknownst to me...

After weaving through the neighborhoods in the dark, not at all able to read house numbers, I knew I was at the right house, when what to my wondering eyes should appear:

But Santa dear!
I was told I couldn't miss him. He was illuminated in their upper window.

My sister and I were greeted with a little princess, Summer, in her white gown....looked like a nice First Communion gown, actually! I realized I MUST be special. It was fun to greet all the people I have come to know through my blog world. My kids apparently listen to warnings about the internet because they were still convinced that Jodi could be some 60 year old sick man! They must not have all met  her at the concert this past September at our house :-)

I was introduced to each of the kids which was such a treat. Meeting Artoma had an extra special meaning of course. He was  a little cautious of me initially...who wouldn't be, right? Then, LOOK:

Okay, fine, I had to bribe them to play with me!



And to top it off!!!!!
I actually got a lot of those kisses...the camera just kept missing them!

IF anyone is looking for a great Christmas gift, small but tons of fun, try this game SPOT IT, it is such a good game. I played it with kids and we have been playing it tons since we got it too.

I hated saying goodbye! We needed to head over to the school, though, and couldn't be late.

Grabbed a picture of the family, minus 2:

After one last photo with my bbf:

Said goodbye to my Santa friend, but not his best side:

And off we went.

After our meeting I dropped my sister off and checked my email from my phone. Saw a message that read: "Oh good!  I need my cupboards cleaned!!  You should bring her over more often ;)"

Perplexed, I looked to what message proceeded her response and I found: "I am leaving my kiddos right now.  Should be there in about an hour.  Hope your house is clean because my sister has a cleanliness disorder.  I should have told you about that sooner :)  She might end up picking up toys and things like that and she also snoops through cupboards looking for clutter.  Sorry.  I can help you clean a bit when I get there.  Hubby left behind to take care of kiddos, including Stasi who has stunk up the entire house.  Yikes!!!

Gretchen  <3"

Mr.  SmartiePants struck again. He likes to make fun of my blog world.
Just for that...I picked a special photo of him!
My sister and I both wondered why, after my sister picked a couple pillows off the ground and threw them back on the couch, Jodi muttered "That's right, I was told about your cleaning thing." Hahaha Mr. Funny.

Let me see if I can find another flattering picture of my love:

I just have to wonder if Jodi was waiting for my sister to hop up and start peeking through the cabinets....that's weird.

Nice to see you Jodi!!!

PS: I tell my kids they shouldn't label anyone a "best friend" because it's very exclusive and hurts others feelings....so, likewise, I most certainly would never have just one BBF, right?! WARNIING: No blog friends were hurt in the making of this entry...I hope:-)

PPS: Stas is still feeling awful. Ricky just got over Mono so I thought that perhaps is what Stas was getting, but I don't think so. He probably has rotavirus or some stomach bug like it....a bad stomach thing. It pains me to see him in the little playpen I have set up for him. I need to keep him in it at times because of the terrible diarrhea  and vomiting, and he doesn't watch tv or anything to take his mind off of his yuckiness....so he is spending time there because he doesn't know what to do with himself and he will spread it to a house of 10 :-( He actually likes it :-( He can just lay there. Every time I glance at him and see the look in his face I see orphans with no one there to care for them, clean up the vomit and soiled clothe in a timely manner. The stench is awful!!! Image a room full of that. I know many workers do their best...it's just no way to live. I see why kids die in the institution/orphanages....the dehydration is so easy if not tended to well, liquids and medication for vomiting and fever. Oh, my heart hurts for them. Stas isn't awake this morning yet, I can only hope here on day 3 he is turning a corner. Poor love.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Nothing....

A post from Julia's blog...who saw so much more....
      We live a harried life.  Running here, there and everywhere.  We work, take our kids to this activity, then that activity, rush to meetings, juggle schedules and cook, clean and work side-jobs in our spare time.  We rarely have time to do Nothing.

     We love doing Nothing.  A day where we have no appointments, no meetings and no places where our children have to be.  An evening where we can stay at home, curl up as a family with a bowl of popcorn and watch a movie.  An afternoon where we can take a walk or play in the yard.  Nothing.  Nothing so that we can do what we find pleasurable.  Reading a book, building a puzzle, playing a game.  Nothing has warm connotations, happy thoughts.  Nothing is what we live for as a family. 

For us, in America, Nothing means Everything.

For the Lost Boys and Girls, Nothing means NOTHING.


This is what NOTHING looks like for the Lost Boys at Aaron's former institute.  This was Aaron's Nothing.  A shed with Nothing in it but carpets and benches.  Nothing. 

On warm days, 20 plus boys will be led to this shed.  20 plus boys will go inside this shed.  A bench will be placed across the door so that they will not be allowed to leave.   Then, those 20 plus boys will do nothing.  They will sit inside that shed.  They will sit.  They will rock.  They will cry out.  They will moan.  They will stare at the walls.  They will hit each other.  They will hit themselves.  They will sit.  They will sit.  They will wait.  After hours of sitting they will get to leave for another shed, to eat.  They will be forced to eat quickly so that they can be led back to this shed.  To do Nothing.  In the afternoon they will be led to their rooms.  They will be made to lay down on their beds.  For hours they will lay on those beds.  Some will sleep to escape.  Others will lay and do Nothing.  Staring at the walls, ceiling - staring at Nothing.  When it is time to get up, they will go back to their shed.  Again, to do Nothing. 

On rainy days, or cold days, they will stay in their buildings.  They will not leave those buildings.  They will not venture downstairs or get to visit the other boys in the other buildings or even in the other part of their building.  No.  They will stay in their section.  They will sit in the sitting room.  It is as empty as the shed.  Benches and carpets.  They will sit.  They will sit and they will do Nothing.  They will rock.  They will moan.  They will hit each other.  They will hit themselves.  They will sit.  They will wait.  They will stare at the four walls.  They will do Nothing.

Once in a while, on weekends, they will get to hear music.  The bigger boys will get to do jobs.  Some jobs that are heart-breaking.  The best behaved boys will get to kick a deflated ball sometimes.  Sometimes a stick can be found for drawing in the dirt.  Sometimes they will even let a child or two play in the sand pile that is often used as a toilet.  Sometimes.  On really rare days, when visitors come, they may even get out a hidden toy or two.  Rarely.  Most of the time, they do Nothing.

Nothing for the Lost Boys and Girls in Eastern Europe means Nothing.

Two worlds.  Our Nothing.  Their Nothing.  Can we just sit by and do Nothing?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Doesn't he have a nice set of teeth?

Look at that picture at the top. This boy is ALL mouth. He has a great mouth and he's not afraid to use it. He kisses like mad. I LOVE that puckery boy. 

I updated to a Christmas theme (before you Renee! :-)  I wish they had "Happy Advent" backgrounds. I had to work just to find one that said "Christmas." Enjoy. I know I smile every time I see the picture of that cute little Stas walking. He is so happy!

Tomorrow I get to see Jodi...and her giant Santa friend. I can't wait to meet her kids in person too. And, of course to see Rich again. Her kids are going to hate me because she's been making them clean for my arrival.

While I'm up there I have a meeting at a church to show them a program that my sister and I made. Feel free to check it out. We have to make a few minor adjustments on our website, so please overlook that, but.......www.PURElyYOU.org

Happy Advent!
Gretchen

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sinking

Please take the time to jump over to another blogging/adopting friend's blog. She has stated in such a visual way what it is that I feel every day. I know that not everyone is called to adopt, but I know a whole lot more people are called to adopt....than are jumping.


If you are able, PLEASE, pray, and take a leap in faith. Ask God to show you if you are being called. Renee, is this blog, talks about the 100 sweethearts....yes 100....that were added to www.ReecesRainbow.org in Region 23 in Russia just the other day. Those faces....I could take any one of them and be so, so very happy. I love them with everything in me, yet my life is one right now where I just can't go get another. God put the brakes on my burning desire. I have decided that my way of "rescuing" any more of these little loves right now is to help others see the multitudes that are sinking.... and to help others get their child into their "life boat".

Let me know if I can help you!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Real hope and change!!! Non-political :-)

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I would say there is real reason for HOPE here, wouldn't you?!
 Isn't he just a ham. He's all smiles. I couldn't get him to stop grinning. I can almost always get Ricky to go to the bathroom if I offer him a grape or a piece of lettuce...weird, huh? Well the last few days he does "both" things on the toilet without any tangible rewards...except all sorts of hooting and hollering! And I do quite a bit of that!!!
He seems to be kicking the "mono". Doesn't he look like he is feeling just fine? I guess we discovered it a little late in the game.

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And check out the CHANGES Stas has been making. He blows on a whistle which is key to speech progression. If you think about it, to make a "b" sound or an "m", you put your lips together and then exhale on command. Well, the whistle teaches him to exhale on command just like he will have to do with all of the verbal sounds.
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And he is walking almost everywhere now!! All of a sudden!
Way to go Stas and Ricky....you boys rock!!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Looks like lover-boy has some explainin' to do!

You see that shirt on Ricky?



I guess it is my own fault...leading him into such a life. By the way, I would never have let any of my other boys wear that shirt. It was just somehow okay for Ricky...until now.

I've been trying to figure out just what was wrong with Ricky. Feeling YUCKY for soooo long. The culprit ..."the kissing disease" .......................MONONUCLEOSIS!


Looks like Stas and I better watch out!!!! We might be next!

Friday, November 26, 2010

I love company, especially Uncle Matt!

He has a way of making everything just a little more fun. Okay, a lot more fun. He is also Stas' godfather.

Ricky has been sick for a while and not eating. I think Uncle Matt had the knack for getting his appetite back :-)

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 And today I did just a little bit of shopping. I didn't have anything that I set out for. No doorbusters! I just woke up, everyone was sleeping and I decided it was a great time to sneak out while 13 other people at my house were sleeping. (And that was one meal, and one blown-out diaper which I didn't have to fix or clean up after--- ----YAY!)

This is what I got! I thought Ricky would run away from it....
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I guess he had enough of it though!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Way to go Stasi!

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Fun, Oops, Ouch and Grrr!

Jenny donning Ricky for the outdoors to play!  FUN!

She is my sweet little caretaker for little kids..she loves the boys!

Ready to go...except the boots.

Jenny getting Ricky's boots on.
Off they went to play.... meanwhile back in the kitchen...there was Stas....that's the oops part!
Do you see he seems to be bothered by something with his tongue? Poor  boy.
He MAY have learned about putting his tongue on cold metal  :-(

Ouch! One more reason to keep the refrigerator/freezer doors tied closed...not just so Ricky doesn't steal food from the refrigerator.
 GRRRR.....from me.
 On a good day...yesterday WAS one of them...this is what my laundry room looks like...

 I heard sounds coming from the laundry room and just had a bad feeling.......the kind that says two boys have been naughty....

GRRRR!!!

More GRRRR!
Do you see any remorse in that look?

You know how they say the laundry is never done? Well I know that is true at my house! The problem is Ricky loves "folding" laundry and Stas loves throwing loud plastic things around. A bad mix in my laundry room!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Look what we saw today :-)

Don't your kids steal green beans from the refrigerator to watch TV?

I put it in a bowl so it seemed more like a snack.

Guess what Stasi saw this morning...

SNOW!!!
I wonder if he was ever able to look out the window in the orphanage...

Then I found him at the door...

And then at the window...

And then I looked outside...

Look what I saw out the window...

Beautiful swans. They have been hanging out the last few days. We were horrified to see one of our sons with a bow and arrow heading down to the lake a few days.....lesson learned!!!!!  (I think...we certainly were LOUD and clear!)

And what do you have to say about THAT??

Friday, November 12, 2010

The boy loves to dance!!

Ricky loves music. If he is sad...play music. If he is sick...play music. If he asks for music...PLAY MUSIC! Dan was in Detroit and went to a John Ondrasik concert..(Five for Fighting writer/singer) and this guy singing was the warm up...Matt Hires. All music needs Ricky's approval. He was a little cautious at first...uncertain...and then he busted out the moves. Stas was actually dancing a little on his own too (not just playing with the plastic plate). That move Ricky does where it looks like something must smell.....that is his version of the submarine move! It happens to be the same thing he makes a stinky smell so it cracked me up when I saw it.
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PS: Stas is walking a lot now!! Hoot hoot! He makes me let go of his fingers so he can do it on his own. Not bad! Video to come soon. My boy is really taking off in so many ways....did I mention I just love him sooooo much!

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Lizzy posting...her Anya (Anne Marie) tribute

Lizzy keeps busy with school. Who doesn't, right? Well she came across this song and just cried because it reminded her so much of sweet little Anya. She had some short, but ever so precious time with her. Bless her heart....she has a good one. She proved it to me yet again today by a very selfless decision....

http://blessedtobebrothers.blogspot.com/2010/11/matthew-west-save-place-for-me.html

 Thanks for your good heart LIZZY!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"New addition to busy brood brings blessings and abundant joy" -- an article about my boys

Here is an article written for our Archdiocesan newspaper. The woman who interviewed us was lovely. Thanks Julie! I hope others can see and feel how blessed we are. In reality, no words describe how these two little boys being in our family have nourished our lives...more importantly...nourished our SOULS! But we can try to explain, and hope and pray others are drawn to bring one of these little loves into their home.

These children need someone to love them, but you know something, WE really need them, too! The world would be a better place if we all had one of these special people in our lives (or two or three)!

International adoption may seem like a daunting process.... it was awesome.... especially in hindsight!



My honeys!

Go find yourself a little honey!!! 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Mystery solved!!

I figured out who keeps opening the pantry!!!!!
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What a cute little prowler!!!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

ABR... a piece of cake! And guess what???

Stas can hear....just fine! Everything looked great, which totally shocked me!

I really didn't think this was the case. Here is my best guess. When Stas first came home he could not hear, at least not much. I really think that was the case. He loves when we retrieve him from his bed, yet when I would creep up behind him, talking at a normal volume he didn't notice a bit...then I snapped and he turned and was so delighted. After tubes I think he started hearing much better but nothing had any meaning to him. So, as of 6 weeks ago he can hear and now things will start registering. Now that I know he can hear I'm going to be a little "pushier" with him. I will put him in front of the TV with Signing Time, for one...Like, in a highchair so he has no choice but to watch it because it will be right in front of him. And he will watch the same one over and over....good repetition.  He seems to be picking up on some things. He is so close to walking which is very fun.

Did I tell you how much I love that sweet, sweet little boy? Oh, he is just precious. I can't get enough of him. And Ricky is starting to like him now too. He thinks it is funny when we teach him sign....he tries teaching him too. 

We have an article coming out in our Archdiocesan newspaper, The Catholic Spirit, about Stas' adoption. Eager to see it. Hoping...praying....that many families are touched by our story, other families' stories and seeing all of those precious souls on www.ReecesRainbow.org ,  and viola! they will begin that blessed journey called "adoption" as well! Praying!

On our way up to the ABR.

Yay, got the IV in on the first try! That is a huge success with those little fluffy, doughy arms.
Playing Patty cake!