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




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Friday, July 30, 2010

Good news!

Stas at therapy.

Stas in the back yard...doesn't mind the grass at all.

Stas' heart is great, and he has no cavities! When we brought him home from Ukraine his breath was quite unpleasant, his poop was stinkier than the average poop (sorry!) and his mouth seemed to have been full of cavities. Well, the stinky stuff is better since we went through a course of Flagyl and Erythromycin for Giardia and h. pylori. H. pylori is the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers and bad breath, so I am guessing other stinky stuff as well. Yeah.!

The heart...we were told that at birth he had an Oval Window. Funny, no doctors hear have heard of that term. Well, it is a patent foramen ovale (PFO). No problem, it's all cleared up.

As for the ears, now we can proceed and see if we can get this boy hearing! He is missing out on way to much noise. (Oh, I'm jealous!) Tubes are our first step to see if they do the trick. While he is sedated they will do the same testing they do to newborns to see if they are capable of hearing.

Will keep you updated....he is so sweet.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Can you hear me now?

No, the doctor said Stas doesn't seem to be hearing much. His tympanograms were completely flat. So we are getting tubes as soon as I can schedule him with the ENT, urologist and dentist. Poor guy. Tomorrow we have his teeth and heart checked and then hopefully soon we see the urologist. Then we can get tubes, fillings and circumcision all done in one shot. Yes, ouch! She said Stas' tonsils are worth keeping an eye on and Ricky's are a 3+ (4 is the worst!) so we shall be watching them too. She said kids we DS can be the toughest to have tonsils/adenoids out. This is when I am glad that Ricky still has a Mickey (feeding tube) in....it comes in handy for such things!

Eager to hear the cardiologist say that his heart is great. I suspect he will have an Echo tomorrow. I love Dr. Singh!!! He is the best cardiologist EVER!!!

Blessings to you. Please keep us in prayer. Please pray for all of the kids that need families. It seems that each day I am caught off guard when I think of the orphans and cry....actually weep. My heart says that next year this time we will go back for another.....I will have to let God tear that out of me if it isn't His plan.

Goodbye for now.

Gretchen

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Kingpin or second fiddle?? Which is he?

Ricky is struggling with what his role is now that Stas has invaded his turf. Ricky has gotten everyone's "favorite" vote for a long time, and now "you-know-who" (as we refer to Stas when Ricky is around) seems to have worked his way into our hearts at a rapid pace! The poor fellow is feeling rather dejected. I suspect he will get over it, but I must say, I sure feel bad about it. He can't stand if I do ANYTHING for Stas. Even wiping his face while he is eating. At lunch today he cleared his whole tray from the highchair to the floor. What a mess. He kicks his legs and throws whatever he has. I suspect that Ricky's inability to talk to us (except for sign that doesn't tell us a whole bunch about what he is thinking) is even more frustrating b/c he clearly has a lot to say.
Ricky was upset with every push I gave Stas. Not that that stopped me of course!

On a different note...we suspect that Stas is hearing very little. He hears a snap, so it is good that he is hearing something, but he doesn't seem to hear me when I enter his room and greet him with sweet mama greetings. I was 3 inches behind him in the crib and he wasn't hearing me and then I snapped and he turned around in delight. An ENT appt. on Tuesday should hopefully tell us something. Will see.

Perhaps we will have one guy that can't talk and one that can't hear....should be interesting.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The faces of JOY!

Stas loves my mom's walker. He just thinks it is hilarious. Look at that face! What a chunk.

At the park tonight.

As if he wasn't pure enough...

YEAH!!! I love this day! The most important day of their lives!
...now he is whiter than snow!!!!


Getting ready for the baptism...Uncle Matt (the godfather) with his human Stas guitar!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Ukraine #1

When I first started planning on what to write on this blog, I expected to share my many encounters with Ukrainian culture: "squat/Turkish toilets," the variety of foods, generous hosts and hostesses, my unforgettable experience with poor quality tap water, train rides, air travel, souvenirs, Russian and Ukrainian languages, etc. Most importantly, though, I was meeting my "soon to be little brother." But today I'm going to write about more important things- things that I hope to always remember, and the things that I will remember, that I selfishly hope to forget.

When I stepped out of the taxi at Solnishko for the first time, I tried to take in everything about the scenery that I could. I don't remember what the weather was like, where we parked, or the clothes that I was wearing. But I do remember, quite clearly, the sound of children crying through the broken down windows. I'd heard stories about life in these orphanages, and I'd seen many pictures of this one in particular; but that distant world was quickly becoming reality. I subconsciously forced the noise out of my mind, and focus on what I had looked forward to for several months; I was finally about to meet my little brother, and despite our tight schedule that day, I was determined to meet him. I rushed up the stairs with Dad and he (or Mom) rang the doorbell. After a few moments, a woman led us into the stinky "locker room," which possessed the distinct smell of dirty diapers, or worse. As Stas’s favorite caretaker went to take him out of his crib, I looked around the room in front of me. I suddenly remembered the crying that I heard earlier, and saw a few kids crying. One little boy rocked himself and jerked around on the floor. No one was there to comfort him, and there were many other children to take care of. One child army crawled along the floor; another slumped over in a walker. I started crying when I first saw Stas, and I was overwhelmed when the rest of them looked up at me. They were all miserable, and I knew that they longed for me, but I'd heard about the consequences of visitors making too much contact with the orphans. I felt guilty for only choosing one of the healthiest children in that groupa. As much as I love my brother, my heart aches for those other children that I've met, and I wish I'd done more for them. When you are a 12 hour flight away from a place that you remember so clearly and children such as these, there is only so much you can do when you have left them.

Words cannot describe all of my memories and the feelings that I have for all of those children. They are no longer pictures; they are children. They are lovable, have their own personalities, were abandoned and sent to that orphanage, and face possible death unless they are adopted by a loving family. Many of the children that I met in less than three weeks will not have the opportunity to be adopted. They will be sent to institutions, where there will be little or no hope of them surviving. Few people, if any, will care for them, love them, or treat them anything like the precious gifts that they are. To many they are seen as little more than unproductive beings that are a waste of time and valuable resources, a problem to "take care of."

Well, now that I'm in a pleasant mood…..

I'm going to take a break and visit my cousins that I think arrived about 20 minutes ago ;)

-Lizzy

Friday, July 9, 2010

Lizzy... again :)

I'm making another blog for Ricky and Stas, but it will take a little while to set up. Do you have ANY questions or ideas for things to write about? I can't figure out where to start, but I want to write something, especially while I can remember most of the trip well.

Thanks!

The groupa under the tree

As you know, we were eager to reach out to the "children under the tree." They were a group that is all children with special needs, some much more severe than others. Our (Reeces Rainbow's) little Taya and AnneMarie are in that group. This is a message from my new German friend who is adopting from the same orphanage as Stas. God bless her. It does my heart GOOD:

"Things are definitely on their way up under the tree. This morning there was not only an old lady with a triangle, singing songs to the children, but she also had some puppets with her and was telling the children a story. The strollers stood in a circle, closer together than usual, so the children could better see her. I wanted to join but the old lady was not pleased to see me, in contrast to the other caregivers who happily waived, so I did not stay long. The show continued for at least another 30 minutes as I could see from afar. :-)
The Israeli couple moved to open-air-germ free-shows now. Yesterday I asked them if they could eventually sing a song to the group under the tree as well. Imagine - they had already done it earlier in the day! They told me that the children were not reacting too much but that there was one physically severely handicapped boy who got very enthusiastic about the music. The Israeli guy allowed the little one to play the guitar while he himself was doing the chores. :-)"

AMEN! Thanks Andrea!!!! And good luck next week...I hope things start moving along more quickly...I will be praying!

Here are a few of our pictures you have probably already seen of some kiddos under the tree:

Lizzy and AnneMarie
A little guy with DS--I don't know anything about him


Taya and another little guy with DS


Thursday, July 8, 2010

There is always room for dessert!

I think back to our life 4 years ago...our plates were full. We were busy, we were maxed out. Along came Ricky.

I think back to our life 6 months ago...our plates were full. We were busy, and maxed out. Along came Stas.

It's amazing how two sweet-tooths like Dan and I can always find room for dessert...Ricky and Stas are our scrumptious dessert! AND WHAT A TREAT THEY ARE!



Does it get any sweeter than this?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lizzy's post

Finally home! *happy sigh* So much to say, so little time (and patience:) I don't even know where to start! I'll try to do a few posts in the near future.

This song brings me to tears nearly every time I hear it:
Never Gonna Be Alone by Nickelback
Hope the link works.... either way, thank God for Google ;)

Enjoy!
-Lizzy

P.S. Questions, etc.
tiffanytp3@gmail.com

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My little twins!




It kind of seems like that. I just didn't have to go through the first 3 years of having twins. Ah! Since Stas has been home he has spent lots of time with his family, gotten his own first pair of shoes (size 7XW---that is extra wide!), gone to 2 of his 3 therapies, and gotten more kisses than he must have in all of his life combined. Ricky is doing okay. Sometimes I think that when he smothers him with kisses, it isn't the kisses that are supposed to dominate. He is certainly letting Stas know the pecking order.

A Heart for Orphans

"A Heart for Orphans"

(Me and my goofy facilitator--We love you Halya!)

If you look on any of the pictures of me on our blog, you may notice this necklace around my neck. (Along with--and more powerfully--a San Damiano crucifix.) This and MANY other beautiful pieces were made by Alyn Shannon, who lives in Minnesota, spends much time in Haiti, and has an extra special heart for their orphans. She and her husband, Jeff, have committed their lives to the people of Haiti. Alyn has been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. It is a rough battle, but she has a special peace surrounding her, a beautiful faith and is committed to the people of Haiti for her life here on earth.

If you appreciate unique jewelry and have a heart for orphans in Haiti, please visit her sight for more of her products.

http://www.gs2studios.com/

Monday, July 5, 2010

Alexander!!! He's a keeper...go get him!

He was in my dreams last night, too!

I dreamt about her last night...

Thank you Heather for making this beautiful picture.

I couldn't get precious AnnMarie out of my mind last night. I dreamt about her and eventually woke up with her in mind. I have been praying she will find a family.

AnnMarie has heart problems apparently, according to her caretakers. They said that when the heat gets bad she has to go into the doctor's office at the orphanage for IV hydration.

She is beautiful. After rubbing her body with some deep pressure/stimulation...it's like she just "woke up." She played peek-a-boo behind the stroller and caught on to the back and forth pattern of play.

I still cry when I think of the orphans left behind.

Stas is such a lover. He is so gentle. These children are lovers.

AnnMarie needs love...please search your heart for her.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day!

I may not like the advertisements of godaddy.com, but I sure appreciate their appreciation for freedom and the service of those who have fought for it! (See link below) After seeing firsthand the results of communism in Eastern Europe, I have an even deeper respect and appreciation for freedom, capitalism, individualism, and our American liberties, especially the freedom to practice my Christian (Catholic) faith. I feel especially cautious of anyone or any group who desires to take away our freedoms and bring us down the road of socialism. It seems even more dangerous to me know, and far too plausible.

Thank you to all who have made our country great. And GOD BLESS AMERICA!

https://www.godaddy.com/Holiday/Independence2010.aspx?isc=gda712


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Life is so good--for Stas and for us!

We are home! Yeah.
I don't have the photos of our joyful reunion with our family.The Spencers came to welcome us home. What a treat. They took all of the photos for us too. It was Judi's friend Halya who was our facilitator. Our friend now too!!!! Thank you Judi for your help and your encouragement, your prayers and your being a part of all of it. You were such a huge blessing to all of us.

It's great waking up in your own bed!


brothers alas

It may not be the best bed...but your mommy slept next to you

Your last time having your feet on the floor of that orphanage--AMEN!

Halya working hard (until 2am) on the train to get our court decree translated for the US Embassy by morning

Goodbye Fr. Andrew--You were "Number one in the world" or "Number von in zee vorld!!!"

Proud papa awaiting the passport

"Rock-a-bye baby" to by beauty!

Apparently they have heavy stalking laws in Ukraine (or it could be the "draft" jokes--we couldn't understand the prosecutor, she spoke Russian!)

Halya helping to prepare the documents after to court to hightail it out of there to get everything done in a very short period of time so we can get passport by closing and leave in a.m.

First bath----AAAAAHHHH!!!

You are mine FOREVER now!!!
I can't help but cry EVERY time I see Stas and picture the orphans twisted in their cribs--stiffened--bottoms soaked with urine (or whatever), sitting in the communal playpen, rocking, chewing on the crib, crying, cross-eyed... It hurts so much every time I even let my mind go there. I hate it! Can't anyone help them?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Home and ready to drop dead from exhaustion!

We are home, we are safe, we are happy to see everyone, we had a celebration tonight, even my Uncle Bob and cousin Michelle from Pennsylvania with her children! Very fun. People at the airport to greet us was a wonderful blessing. So exciting.

Posting pix in a.m. Can't keep eyes open.