Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted
according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or
slow to do the humble work.

- Mother Teresa

About Me

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Sunny Florida, United States
I am the proud mom to 6 kids: Natasha, 24, Nikolai, 20, Reese, 20, Maylee, 14, Erik, 10 and Violet, 7. The kids come from Russia, Ukraine and China; I'm so proud of my family sometimes I think I'll burst and I needed an outlet for it - so I've created this weblog. :o)
If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one.
- Mother Teresa

Motivation for Moms

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One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody.
Mother Teresa

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Monday, August 31, 2009
Still no word from my men. They left Kramatorsk on the train and spent the day in Kiev, but the place where they are staying apparently doesn't have Internet. *sigh* It's 2am in Kiev right now, so I need to give it up for the night. In a few hours (their time) it will be Tuesday and they will finish up at the airport hotel that night where I know from experience there is Internet.

FAITH is not always easy...
Sunday, August 30, 2009

Well, Mark, Erik and the caregiver Mark hired from the orphanage are on the train to Kiev!!! Mark hired the lady to help on the train ride until Tuesday night when she returns back to Kramatorsk. It will be money well spent. With Mark's MS, he really needs his sleep, and the help of a caregiver will help with stress a LOT.

You have NO IDEA how badly I wish I knew how it was going!!!! Those trains are NOT easy to sleep on, but it can be done, in the best of circumstances. With a "sturdy Ukraininan bahbushka (how Mark described her) and a new 5 y.o. who's never been outside of his orphanage walls, hard telling if ANYONE's sleeping!! LOL!!

Mark has his laptop, and we can only hope that he can access the Internet at the hotel in Kiev. Or in the Frankfurt airport, where he and Erik will connect for 7 hours on Wednesday. It's so hard to have NO contact of any kind!! But I know God is watching out for them. After all, I asked Him to.

That's all I know for now. The boys and I are just doing our "thing", waiting for them to return. It's the calm before the storm...
Well, after having a private blog for so long, I've decided to go public, or at least try it! Court is over and all we are waiting for is for my men to come HOME!!!

I've removed pictures of the other kids in the orphanage now that I'm public, but if you see one that I missed, please let me know so I can remove it.

I can't access my blog these days for some reason, but I can post... at least, I THINK I can - I can't see my blog to check it!!

Mark and Erik are taking the overnight train from Kramatorsk to Kiev tonight, then Monday and Tuesday they'll finish up at the Embassy and we'll pick them up in Orlando Wednesday evening! YAAAAAAYYYYY!!!!

Other than that, news is slow around here. The boys and I are just sitting around, waiting for Mark and Erik to come home. We're in a bit of a "holding pattern". Work, school, dogs, chores.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Well, I'm alive, anyway!! I haven't posted much because I've been traveling for 12 days, though I'm told it was only 2 1/2 days... (Feels like 12!)

Monday evening after court, Mark and our facilitator dropped me off at the train station for the overnight ride to Kiev. Boy, was THAT hard!!! I didn't think it'd be THAT hard to say goodbye!!! I felt like such a traitor for leaving! It just felt WRONG. But my brain knew it wasn't, even if every other part of me thought it was. It was horrible leaving. I wanted to jump off of that train soooooo badly.

Anyway, after the train arrived in Kiev at 8am, I went to the Embassy to sign some papers so that Mark could finish up when his turn came in 2 weeks. After that, I did some souvenir shopping (I love shopping!)and then went straight to the hotel at the airport. Got there by noon, but without air conditioning, and the temps outside around the 80's range, my room was so hot I couldn't sleep!! So I pretty much laid there and sweated until 3am when I gratefully went down to catch the shuttle bus to the airport to catch my 5:30am flight.

Met a really nice Ukrainian-turned-Canadian lady who was fascinated by my story about Reece's Rainbow and Erik and now she wants to adopt!!!

That flight took me to Frankfurt where I had a 7 hour layover (yes, 7 hours). I met some really sweet kids in the Ukraine airport while waiting for that flight. They were from CA and spent the summer in Ukraine visiting their grandmother. Delightful kids! On that flight, imagine my surprise when my 2 seat mates were a mother and newly-adopted son from Ukraine! She had an interesting story: she and her husband went to Ukraine to adopt 2 teenage girls. When they got there, they found out not only that they had a 12 year old brother, but that the girls decided they did not want to be adopted after all and they ended up with the brother!! Took 2 months and lots of headaches, but they were on their way home to AZ and they happened to be my seat-mates! Cute boy, seemed like a really nice kid.

Normally, I'm pretty shy and keep to myself when I travel, but this time I made so many friends! LOL I even sat in Frankfurt with my Ukrainian-Canadian friend and had lunch! Ha, ha!

After a LONG 10 hours, we made it from Frankfurt to Orlando and I was HOME!!! Mom and the boys were there to meet me, and it was sooooooooo good to be home. The streets here are very smooth, BTW!!!

I had 1600 e-mails waiting for me, hardly any of them junk - just mainly stuff from the child amputee group I'm with, and the Reece's Rainbow group. And, of course, a pile 2 feet high of regular mail!! Included in the regular mail were several letters from Natasha, which was fun. She sounds like she's doing GREAT! She sounds really happy and like she has a purpose now. For so long in high school all she did was party, and no doubt she knew she was going nowhere, with no direction. Now, she has a purpose and a plan and I think she's really happy about that. :o)

I am going to try now to put up a video montage, if I can figure it out. Wish me luck!!!
Monday, August 17, 2009
After waiting for an hour for the prosecutor (whom I swear looked either drunk or hungover), we had court today! Everything went very smoothly - no problems, no hard questions, no issues of any kind! YAY!! IT'S OVER!!!

Afterward, Mark and I went to our favorite bakery and bought a little cake. When we got home and bit into it, it was like a rum cake or something - had a very strong liquor flavor, but it also had almonds hidden in it, and creamy stuff, and other unidentifyable things. It was quite good!

Now, a disclaimer to satisfy my husband and my son Reese: In the picture of the two of us below, I am NOT showing as much cleavage as it looks and that is NOT my bra in the picture - it is a white "underblouse" thingie. I know I'm going to get a comment from my brother about this picture so I thought I'd beat him to the punch. And Reese, don't worry, I'll put a sticker on my "line" when it's scrapbook time. ;o)

Here we are (above) after court. Mark had on a black suit jacket, but he was so hot he "lost" it and it didn't make it back on for the picture. We are in our apartment and I used my timer for the picture.

Here he is with our yummy alcohol cake. ;o)

And here he is again, this time with is three favorite things: 1) Coffee 2) Big bottle of water and 3) packaged cookies from the bakery (they are delicious!!!). I couldn't resist getting this picture!

Saturday, August 15, 2009
...for action, that is. It seems we hardly do anything here, but eat, sleep, and visit Erik. He is doing wonderfully, by the way. And today was the first day that he got mad when we left!! We didn't see him at all yesterday, the first day like that, as we were busy all morning doing very little with the facilitator (and going to lunch - going to lunch takes at least 90 minutes here. Service is SLOW.) In the afternoon, Mark wasn't feeling well and I was tired (from doing nothing, I think) so I didn't go, either. This morning, Mark still wasnt' feeling well, so I went alone and the little bugger was happy to see me! The caregiver said he was looking for Mama, and whether that's true or not, I don't know, but it was sweet of her to say, and it seemed to be true. We had a nice visit and are bonding nicely. This afternoon, Mark went with me, and we had a nice, long visit. We saw Leeza again, and little Alina and the girl from yesterday playing outside, but their caregivers were not very nice and we didn't visit with the girls for long. They also would not allow me to take any pictures, which didn't surprise me.

I love this picture below. Mark was playing with Erik with his hat and Erik was having such a fun time! When he gets excited, he gestures wildly and I caught this adorable picture:

I also put in 3 similar pictures here to show how much he likes to look at books!! For a kid who's never seen a book before, he sure shows good interest. And he TALKS the whole time he's looking!! "Lalalalalala babababa", etc. He is so animated! The top picture shows how he likes to hold your finger when he does something like turn the pages in a book, or push a button on a toy, or whatever. It's like he wants moral support, so he holds your finger while he's doing the job. It's the sweetest thing!

Friday, August 14, 2009
*Not her real name.

Today at a restaurant eating lunch with our facilitator, she said, "I don't know if I should tell you this or not, but there is a 3 1/2 year old little girl at Antoshka that will be available for adoption on Monday. You could process her adoption along with Sergei's if you wanted. Are you interested in meeting her?"

Our chins dropped onto the table.

She continued, "This is HIGHLY unusual, because healthy children are never pre-selected, but because you are already here and can meet her, it is possible to do this. Maybe. She is completely healthy and you can meet her after lunch if you wish."

My chin was still on the table. Mark was able to utter an "uhhhhh...".

She said that if we were available to be in Kiev, one of her partners would have to be at the SDA on Monday at 9:00am the moment that they opened, because on that day her file would be available, and probably the very first person there would have her referral, so if we were interested, we had to do something about it over the weekend. She could be included in our court session, though court would have to be postponed a few days or a week.

After wiring my jaw back into place so I could speak, Mark and I agreed to meet her. How could we not??

We waited in the therapy room and they brought in a gorgeous, bouncy, friendly, smiley, cheerful, blonde little imp who promptly took her shoes off and set them neatly by the wall. A very, very cute and appealing little girl!!! We played a little while and Mark and I nervously conversed with the director, his wife, and our facilitator, searching desperately for an answer to give. I silently prayed, "God, please tell me what to do!!"

After she left (after charming the pants off of everyone in the room!), we discussed it. Of course, both Mark and I were reluctant to be the ones to give our opinion first, but he confided that he didn't think we were prepared for her financially, emotionally, time-wise, or space-wise. I somewhat silently disagreed a bit on a few of his points, but I did agree that financially we probably couldn't cut it. My main thought was that if she would be placed SO easily, then so be it. Our family is one in which we enjoy including the kids that aren't as fought-over, the harder to place kiddos. Let the easy to place kids go to the families that aren't as able or willing to accept the other ones. We CAN accept them, and willingly so, and so it was my thought that we ought to let her go. We will wait and if we adopt again, we will adopt a child that is less wanted and needs us that much more.

She left and told the director our decision and said he was happy with our explanation.

But it was hard, let me tell you. She was so cute.

Thursday, August 13, 2009
We had the nicest visit yesterday. Afternoon visits are the best. He is rested, fed and we have the most amount of time. Lately, Mark has been sharing his bottled sparkling water with Erik and he LOVES it!! He makes the funniest faces when he anticipates getting a sip! The kid's got personality, it's clear to us now to see. :o) He does this little happy thing with his arms, winging them out to the sides in anticipation, then gets this funny drunk look on his face and SMILES. He leans forward and says, "La, la, la!" when he wants another sip of the water! We love it! It's SO cute!!

Here he is, doing this little thing where he licks his finger?? He doesn't bite, it, doesn't suck on it, but we think he tickles it with the tip of his tongue. Not real sure, but he does it with either hand- which ever one's available. lol I like this picture because it shows the quiet, sweet side of him. (Above)

This picture (above) is just silly, because he is just being goofy. Mark must've just kissed him or something.

And of course, we have to have a wild laughing picture in here!! The kid just loves all of the attention he's been getting and is becoming more and more "himself" all the time. Today was the first day that he didn't want me to leave. He held onto my fingers and tried climbing out of the "pen".

Also, something fun: he ALMOST knows how to sign "more"!!! When Mark has the sparkling water, we try to get him to sign more (which is more of a clap than the real sign, but who cares). He gets this look on his face, like, "Are you serious? You want me to do that dumb thing with my hands?" but he ALMOST is doing it!! When we help him do it, and then praise him he gets so proud and excited and knows that he just earned a sip!

Can you tell we are having fun with him? :o)
This seems to be a favorite activity in Erik's room. Hanging on/leaning over/chewing on the "pen" walls. Their room is designed to have a "big" area with linoleum that is open and unobstructed. Lena sits in a stroller along one wall, the TV is in the center of the same wall, and Dima sits in a plastic chair or stands in a standing table along a "pen". It's like a huge playpen. There is a swing and a ballpit in there, that never seem to be used, ever. The kids mostly lie on the padded floor or hang out on the railing. I wonder how much paint Erik has injested in his 5 years there?? There are very few "loose" toys in the "pen", and precious little to do. We did one day see the caregivers have Denis and Erik in a walker and let them walk around on the linoleum, which was great, but I think that is a rarity. I wonder how Erik will like his bedroom with all of the cabinets and drawers full of toys to explore and the freedom to come and go as he pleases?? :o)

These pictures are reversed. They are of Mark bringing Erik back to his room after a visit. After SO MANY trips up and down these stairs and down this hallway, I had to get pictures. :o) Plus, I just like to take pictures.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009
We had a nice visit with Erik this afternoon - what a cute kid!!! He's so funny and really coming out of his shell every time we see him.

THEN - as we were walking with him around the orphanage in the yard, I spotted Leeza. There was no way I could get around. Anyone who knows me knows that I would *LOVE* to adopt Leeza, but she's been spoken for (hopefully her family will get here soon!). Not only was she the cutest thing ever, but before I could turn around to avoid her, she ran STRAIGHT AT ME, with this HUGE smile on her face and said, "MAMA!!!". I heard Mark mutter, "Oh, that'll help...!" LOL I about died. The caregivers didn't know who I was and Erik was dressed in his "I have parents" clothes, so we didn't approach her, so as not to worry them. They called her away just as I wanted to start to cry. A few minutes later, we had no choice but to pass by again, and do you know what that little dickens (my grandmother's word) did? She stood on the top of a play thing platform and with the branch of dead leaves that she was holding, started strumming it like a guitar and singing!! Mark and I laughed so hard we about split a gut!!! THAT didn't help either!! You don't KNOW how badly I wanted to take that precious little girl and RUN! By that time, we had told the caregivers that we knew Alexei's family and Leeza's new family (though we really don't know Leeza's), and they understood why we were there and relaxed quite a bit

BUT! By THAT time, Mark had fallen in love with his OWN little girl!! A PRECIOUS little brunette, just as petite and feminine as could be!! He asked her what her name was, and she said, "Alina". He picked her up and she called him "Papa", and that was all he needed. He could hardly put her down. I kept telling him our taxi was coming and we needed to go, but it was as hard pulling him away from her as it was pulling me away from Leeza!!

We took our taxi home, and Mark called our facilitator asking if she was available. She's checking. Mom? We may need you again next year...!!!!! LOL The probability of her being available is fairly low, however. Just because kids are in orphanages doesn't mean that they are available for international adoption. I will admit, though, this girl was really a special little girl.

(And OF COURSE I didn't bring my camera!!!)
These pictures are in goofy order, but I'm too chicken to mess with them on this computer which always deletes things, so they are just going to have to stay in the order that they are!

First, it is Erik's 5th birthday!! We brought him a teddy bear and a new outfit. The ladies were delighted to change him from his orphanage-wear into his new clothes, and to our surprise and delight, everything fit! He came out of the changing room looking SO PROUD, it was so cute!! He was smiling, and walking and gabbing up a storm - you could tell he was excited! We hung out in the room for a bit, and I passed out treats and gifts for both kids and caregivers, and then we went for a walk.
Here he is, getting tired toward the end of our walk. This is a double stroller (without "dividers") and big enough for him to curl up in and get ready to snooze - which he never did. Life is too interesting now to sleep!!!
Here he is, enjoying his papa. Gotta love the hat!!! (We found this outfit in the marketplace.) I told Mark I kinda liked the scarf he had on the other day better, but all I got was a "look". LOL

Here he is with his beloved Papa, after getting on his new duds and receiving his new teddy bear!

Before he got dressed, checking out his new teddy bear. He likes stuffed animals. :o) I think this is such a cute picture. Visits are getting better and better. He really seems to be recognizing us now and when we leave, he looks forlorn. It's nice. He seems to be beginning to attach to us. Not a lot yet, but certainly a good start!! Today (this morning - we have one more to go!) was a really good visit. :o)
Monday, August 10, 2009
Yesterday afternoon was a good visit. It is clear that Erik has never been taught how to play. He doesn't know what to do with toys and seems to feel safer watching us work the toys than him actively playing with the toys. Today we made a bit of a stride in that area. The caregiver put us in the sleeping area that has a mat on the floor. She tossed some stuffed animals at us and we decided to play. I came up with this silly game where I held a stuffed animal high over his head then slowly brought it down so that it sat on his head like a hat. Of course, he moved his head and it fell off. He was fascinated by this! I did it over and over and got tired of it, so Mark took over. It wasn't long after that that Erik was handing Mark the toys to put over, then on, his head! It doesn't sound like much, but if you were there, you'd see the progress. He is learning that you can have FUN with objects, not just hang on to them and wing them across the room out of frustration of not knowing what to do with them! It was a good visit.

Here he is, in "thinking mode". When he thinks hard about something, he gets a look on his face, and his babbling goes from a bland, "la, la, la" to a much more intense, quick, and higher pitched, "lalalala". It's so cute! He makes different faces when he's concentrating, too.

Here I am, in the early stages of the game.

Sorry for the duplicate photo, but this computer's commands are all in Russian and I don't know how to read "Delete" in the menu!! Everything looks like this: флшуідьуишієу".
We finally came up with a name!! We had to go back to the notary and have a document re-drawn (what's 300 grivnas among friends, anyway?) but it's for the lifetime of little Sergei, so we figured it was worth it. This is what we came up with:

Erik Gabriel George Taborn

Erik: A name we both liked. Mark first came up with this name originally but I didn't really like it. Since then, it's grown on me and I think he looks like an Erik. There was some dispute about the spelling, whether it should be "Erich" or "Eric" or "Erik", but the latter was decided upon. "Erik" means "Honorable Ruler" or something like that, but whatever.

Gabriel: A name that I LOVE, but didn't think was just right for a first name. He just didn't seem like a "first named Gabriel" to me, but I was not willing to let it go, so it's in the middle. As Gabriel is one of the highest angels, I thought it was fitting for our beautiful angelic little boy. :o)

George: This is Mark's dad's first name. Mark's dad passed away several years ago but was very much loved and Mark wanted to honor him in this way and I had absolutely no objection.

Reese has two middle names, so why not Sergei/Seriozha/Gabe/Simon/Peter/Erik? This time it's for keeps. I wanted to keep "Sergei" in his name, but 3 middle names?? There just isn't enough room, and I don't think Erik will mind after he gets used to his new name and new life.

Saturday, August 8, 2009
I can't wait to get back to the States and have little Gabe evaluated. I really want the opinion of therapists who have experience with pedes - I don't have much. To me, though, he seems to be globally on a 12 - 18 mo. level. He'll be 5 next week (we need to watch the dates so we don't miss it - we keep losing track of time!). He is sooooo delayed in so many areas, it's so sad. But I do see signs of potential that are very encouraging to me: For example, he LOVES to look at stuff. Flashing lights, pictures in books, photos, toys. When he looks at books, he looks at EVERY picture before losing interest. He loves people and loves to interact. He enjoys being outside and going for walks and enjoys looking around. He seems to WANT to learn stuff. His eye contact is so-so. He will make eye contact, but only for short periods of time. He likes physical contact a lot - likes to be tickled, held, touched. Likes to hold hands. He doesn't initiate much, though: he doesn't usually reach for stuff, but often just lets you hold it by yourself. He doesn't initiate walking, but if you take his hand and guide him, he'll walk with support. When he goes in a stroller, he doesn't lift his feet up to put them in the "slots", but lets you do it for him. When he eats (such as the cookie episode below) he just opens his mouth - does not reach for the food. No doubt, these are the results of not being allowed to do much, and he should improve in time. I do see lots of potential with him, as I've said. It will just take time. Hopefully others in our situation have seen the same thing and can encourage me. I really want to just get him home. It's hard visiting in the orphanage where there are so many rules, and eyes, and nothing is ours or familiar. Oh, well. It's part of the process.

Our visit went much better this morning, as morning visits go. We mostly just sat and looked at books, but he was MUCH more animated than other mornings, which is encouraging. Afternoons are always wild, but this is our first "happy" morning visit! Mark even tried his hand at discipline, telling him "No" when he kept throwing the book that we were looking at. ;oP It helped!!

That's all for now. Our afternoon visit is in a couple of hours. -oh, and we went to the market today, like a big flea market. Bought some clothes for Peter at ridiculous prices, and Mark got some really nice sneakers (desperately needed!) for $25. It was very interesting. Raw meats, cheeses, eggs and breads out in the open at room temperature, etc. It was fun shopping, though. Mark also got some sunglasses for around $2.50. Amazing. There were also puppies and kittens for sale. There were two dachsund pups that were PRECIOUS that the guy was selling for $40 each. Purebred dachsunds. Wow.

Gotta run and let Mark on the computer for now. Hopefully later I'll have more pictures to share. I can't do videos yet because of the computer, but after I get home I'll share some. Bye!

(BTW, keep the comments coming, please! They are a lifeline to me!)
Friday, August 7, 2009

(He's so cheerful in the afternoons that even with this scarf on his head, he's laughing!!)

Okay. I slept about 11 hours and I'm ready to start again this morning. Mark thinks that my picture files are so huge that I'm clogging her computer so after this post I'll erase everything from her hard drive and hopefully that'll clean it up a bit.

Here are the two guys enjoying their afternoon visit. Laughs galore, of course!!

Mark is insisting on staying the entire time, and insists that he can make the trip home with Peter alone. I have my doubts, but when Mark sets his mind to something, I'm learning that he really can do stuff. What I may do is fly to wherever they are connecting through when they get to the States and meet them there so I can help fly home on the final leg of the journey. When I suggested it, Mark melted and said, "That'd be soooo great...!!!" So that's the plan as of right now. Because of that, I am trying to let the two of them spend the most amount of time together (with me content to take pictures) so that Gabriel can get used to his dad and feel the most comfortable with him. I'll take my turn when they get home. PLEASE pray that this is the right decision!!!! I am terrified of leaving Mark alone in a strange country with an 18 mo./5 year old to travel 1/2 way around the world!! He seems comfortable with the idea, and hopefully with our facilitator's help he can do it. (but, YIKES!) This would be financially very beneficial to us, with having to pay for one less plane ticket, I can stay at work until they get home, and we wouldn't have to hire anyone to stay with the kids and dogs at home while I went back. With the orphanage donation surprise, we are going to be cutting it pretty short.

I got to meet some other RR kids yesterday and the caregivers graciously let me take photos! I will post them in another thingie so as not to jeopordize this one!!!

Mom, good luck finding the boys' camp in the morning!!! Start early to give yourself "getting lost" time. They will be FULL of stories, so be ready!!!!! Thanks for all you're doing to help!! We love you!!
I quit. I can't take all of these errors anymore. I've tried EIGHT times to post these pictures and they keep getting messed up. I'm going to bed. I'll finish the days' news and pictures tomorrow.
Before you read this, scroll down and read, "Day 2, Part 1).

Our afternoon visit also taught us some lessons:

Lesson #1: When visiting your child at an orphanage and have never seen that child eat (though were told he could eat anything) do not feed him a whole cookie, especially one from a Ukrainian market that disintegrates instantly upon entering the mouth, and especially when that child spits each bite of the cookie out in delight.

Lesson #2: Don't expect that a child automatically knows how to drink from a straw. The child will bite down on the straw, expecting something good, and when no reward is given, the juice box wielding the straw will be thrown into the dirt. Wet juice boxes in the dirt are messy.

Lesson #3: When taking the risk of feeding your new child for the first time outdoors with no people or trash cans around, BRING NAPKINS. Receipts wetted with carbonated water do not hold up well, especially on children who are laughing hysterically!
Well, this is the FIFTH time I've tried writing this post, but the computer I'm working on... well, let's just say it's not mine. Our laptop, as previously mentioned, doesn't work here with the Internet, so we are using the computer in the flat where we are staying and Mark thinks it has a virus because it KEEPS erasing my blog posts!! I will do it this way: I will write short posts and readers will just have to deal with scrolling up all of the time. Sorry, but I'm sick of rewriting the same stuff!! (It's not saving anything, either) I'm also getting really tired, but I will try to write with the same vigor as I did when I wrote this stuff the FIRST time.

Okay: we have discovered something rather important: Simon/Sergei/Peter/Gabriel doesn't do as well in the mornings. Our visit times are right before lunch and nap and he is tired and cranky. Today he was just this way. We took him to the play room and expected our visit to be like yesterday afternoon's was. We sat him on the floor of the playroom and I rolled a ball to him, expecting him to start laughing. He screamed. A scream of, "I really, really don't want to be doing this and am soooooo frustrated!". It was short, but intense, and we quickly realized that he was NOT in the mood to play. So Mark held him quietly and he was content to do nothing other than just sit in Mark's arms and be held. Fine with us! Lesson learned!! He yawned and talked to himself and made clucking noises with his mouth and was very ready to go back to his room afterward. Poor little fella. No pictures.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
One thing I didn't mention in my last post was that the director offered Leeza (Elisabeta) to us. I can't TELL you how hard it was to say no!!! I knew that she had her family coming for her, and I told them that I thought they were submitting this week, and they were happy to hear that, but it was a really hard thing to turn her down, considering that we had our petition letter written and everything before realizing that her original family was still going for her. Long story. I'm sure we will see her over the course of the next week or so and I'm sure I'll have mixed feelings, but I'm just glad that she has her mom and dad coming for her. She's a special girl, and they will be blessed.
Whew! It's not easy using someone else's computer, especially when most of the tabs are in Russian! Good thing Mark is such a computer whiz, cause without him I couldn't have done any of this!

Okay! Here goes!! It takes like 10 min. to upload 5 pictures on this computer (seriously) and I'm soooooo tired that I only took the time to upload these 10, but these'll certainly get you started!!

We walked into the orphanage and it was so eery, after seeing so many pictures on Google Earth, the Life4Orphans (or is it Life2Orphans??) website, and other families' pictures; it was now OUR turn to be here!!! We met Anatole the director and as expected, he was very nice. I've only heard wonderful things about this man!!! We talked about our family, and the opportunities that the boys had (as disabled children) and the opportunities that Sergei would have as a part of our family and in the area that we lived. He was very attentive and glad to hear everything that we said. Unfortunately, I forgot the family photo album at the apartment so I have to show him tomorrow!! UGH!

Anyway, eventually, they brought little Sergei ("Seriozha") in. He was one scared, NERVOUS, little boy. He was actually physically shaking and making this grunting noise (almost like a growl). Here he is as his caregiver carries him in (check out her expression!):

Poor little thing was so overwhelmed at all of the people and all of the attention!!

Mark got to hold him first!!! (That's okay - I had the camera!!)

He was very nervous, as I said, and I was kind of surprised at how "closed in" he was. I was sad because he never smiled, and just seemed so... institutionalized. Mark and I both fell in love with him instantly however, but I was slightly disappointed, thinking that at age 5, he'd lost SO much time and how far he had to catch up to where he might have been. But he was precious, and that's all that counted. Catch up or no, we loved him and would be there for him for forever. No matter what.

This little picture is really sweet. Mark bought this little "Baby Mozart" toy for him. You push the big button and it lights up and plays classical music. He really was interested in it, but with all of the stuff going on, he was pretty overstimulated. Still, after awhile, he was standing on the ground and the toy was on the chair. Someone pushed the button, and he "discovered" it! He got his eyes WAY close to the flashing lights and just stared. And stared. It was adorable! I noticed at that time that he had pretty good attention span and could focus fairly well. (Considering.) This was a great toy that Mark bought.

Soon afterward, it was time for his lunch and nap and we had to go. We went out to eat with Masha, our facilitator, and had some weird food that was great! (And I hate "foreign" food, or anything "weird".) I had some sort of pork thing, and potatoes with "garlic", but it was mostly cheese. Anyway, we did some paperwork stuff, she dropped us off at our apt. and I posted a thingy on here and checked my friends' blogs to catch up. At 4, we went back to the orphanage.

This is who greeted us:

A completely different little boy!! I took him from the caregiver at his room and accidentally tickled his thigh. He let out squeals of laughter, surprising me to the point where I almost dropped him!! I tickled him again, and more squeals!! Who was this happy, friendly little boy?? Where was the NERVOUS, grunting, shaking little boy we saw at lunchtime??

We had a WONDERFUL visit!!! We walked all around outside, then got a stroller. We carried him, he walked, we sat and played with the music toy. LOTS of laughing and giggling and squealing and wiggling with joy!!

Here he is with his Papa, just enjoying the company and the nice weather. He and his Papa are quite tight already!!

For a little while, he got VERY wild and just was so hyper he didn't know what to do with himself!! He does this little "trembling" thing that I want to get checked out when we get home, and he stiffens up when he gets excited. Definitely not a "low toner"!! He may be tiny, but he's strong! (He's got an older brother back home in the States that's like that, too!) There were times when I wondered if he has very mild CP, with the way he tremors and stiffens. If he does, it won't be a problem. But he was a wild man for awhile, laughing and just having the time of his life, with people all to himself to love on him. :o)

This is just kind of a funny one. Mark was walking with him, holding him by the hands (he needs hand-held assist to walk), and he wanted to see the camera so he walked over to me so fast I didn't have time to get a picture - and I got this close up! LOL

Did I mention that he was a different kid on our second visit??

I have a series of this picture and the following one. He and Mark were cuddling together on the stoop and just really enjoying each other (Mark is SO IN LOVE). Mark was cuddling him and I got this darling picture. Sergei was calmed down by this time (he got rid of a lot of his energy!!) and enjoying some quiet time with Papa.

This is Mark's favorite shot. He and Serozha were just visiting together nicely when Mark started tweaking his nose. They ended up with this silly little game where they touched noses together and just held them there. Serozha loved this and kept doing it over and over (and even with me when I finally got a chance to put the camera down and hold him!!). It was so sweet and something that really meant a lot to Mark - they made a connection. :o)

So far, so good, everyone.
I am using my facilitator's computer, which means I can't get into my Road Runner account. If you've been e-mailing me at my mjtaborn@cfl.rr.com e-mail address, I can't get to it!!! Best thing to do is contact me here; if it's private, tell me to write you and I'll use my netzero account to do so (it's like a junk mail account that I keep but rarely use). mjvoigts@netzero.com .

Mark and I are working on trying to hook the camera up to Masha's computer so we can share PICTURES!!!! You will NOT be sorry you waited for them!!

If someone wants to e-mail the Reece's Rainbow group and let them know what's going on, please do! I can't even write the group, because I am not a member through netzero. UGH! Just tell them that we're here, etc. and to check my blog for progress. Thanks!! Her computer text is all in Russian so it's a bit testy getting through, also. ;op

I'll have stories and pics up soon!!
Greetings from Kramatorsk!!! WE MADE IT!!! We actually had 3 very smooth flights (BIG HINT: If you are planning on traveling a long distance by plane and are overweight (especially if BOTH of you are overweight) ... LOSE WEIGHT! Mark's tailbone and my hips will never be the same, especially after the long flight from Philly to Frankfurt! Those seats are NOT designed for "big boys and girls"!! LOL But our flights were on time, good connections, and Mark tolerated the flying pretty well. He hasn't flown in decades by choice, and he did great! He was adorable on the first flight, gripping my pinky finger for support, yet with his nose plastered against the window looking out at the clouds, all hyper from excitement and fear. He was so adorable!! By the third flight, he was a chilled as the rest of us.

We arrived in Kiev in the afternoon on Tuesday and were taken straight to our apartment, where, if I remember correctly, we stayed until the next morning. We were BEAT. At noon the next day, we had our SDA appt. and the lady who interviewed us was so nice!!!! It was not a tense meeting by any means! Very relaxing. We saw a picture of little Sergei (Simon) taken 2 years ago. Not a great picture (we have a lot that were better) but it is always fun to see a picture we've never seen before! We agreed that we wanted his referral and a few hours later we picked up the letter (whatever that was) and we were off to the train station! THAT FAST!! The bad part is that we didn't get to see any of our Reece's Rainbow friends like we were hoping to. UGH. Maybe a little too fast?? We arrived in Kramatorsk this morning (what day is this?? Thursday??) after a rather long night on the train. The train itself was fine (and the bathroom not THAT bad!!) but our systems are SO out of whack that it was hard to sleep. I didn't dare take a sleeping pill that night but you bet your boots I will tonight!!

Whoops! Gotta go! Time to go to the orphanage for our second visit and our facilitator will be meeting us in a few minutes. Gotta get down there to meet her - more later!!!!!!
Sunday, August 2, 2009

Well, we leave tomorrow!!! Mom's here to house/dog/kid -sit, we had dinner with the Cornishes , our bags are 95% packed, our nerves are shot, and our e-tickets are sitting by the door!!

We leave tomorrow out of Orlando at 1:55pm connecting through Philadelphia and Frankfurt to Kiev!! We arrive in Kiev (supposed to, anyway!) Tuesday afternoon at 1:20pm (no, it's not 24 hours, remember to subtract 8 hours for the time difference). Our appointment to get the official "referral" for Simon is Wednesday and we hope to travel on the overnight train to Kramatorsk Thursday night. We meet Simon on Friday!!

I will check my e-mails in the morning, but probably not do any blogging until we are in-country!! I'm sure I'll have lots of stories to tell.

PLEASE PRAY FOR US for smooth traveling and energy enough to enjoy it! LOL

I'll post again as soon as I am able and have something interesting to say. :o)

So until then, Good-bye, and dasvidanya!!!

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If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day, go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.
- Chinese proverb
It is not the will of your Father that any one of these little ones should perish. Matt. 18:14

Whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. Matt. 18:5

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

My family

My family
Nikolai, Mark, Missy, Reese, and Erik

Nikolai, 19

Nikolai, 19

Reese, 19

Reese, 19

Erik, 9

Erik, 9





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