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 :-)

video 
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.

video 
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.
video 
And he is walking almost everywhere now!! All of a sudden!
Way to go Stas and Ricky....you boys rock!!