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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Saturday, October 31, 2009
Okay, I don't know how funny this story will come across on paper, but it was one of the funniest events that we've had so far with Erik:

The 3 boys and I went out for a casual supper at Denny's last night. We ordered this and that and everything was fine; nothing special. During a lull, my eye caught a slice of lemon on the table from someone's water, and seeing Erik in his usual extended-arm-with-palm-up posture that means, "give me something to eat), I asked the boys, "Should I let him try this lemon?"

Reese laughed and said, "No, Mom, he'll start screaming."

Laughing, I said, "I'm going to try it."

"Eeeeeeriiiiiik, do you want this leeeeeeemon???" Big eyes, and increased drooling. (Him, not me.)

I put a bit of it to his mouth and he took a tiny sip on it. OH, THE GROTESQUE FACE HE MADE!!! He let out a very soft but very high pitched scream, put his hands up and turned away!! Oh, my aching sides!!! We all just laughed and laughed!! I offered it again, and again with the soft Bee Gees falsetto scream, palms out and front in a defensive manner and grotesque face! I'm sorry, but it was FUNNY.

I waited a few minutes, and offered it again. He remembered and did the same thing!! Poor kid!! Once more, several minutes later, he was looking behind him and I put FOUR of them right in front of him, where his plate used to be. He turned around, gave that face again with the Bee Gee scream, and SWEPT them off the table with his hand!! By that time, I was laughing so hard, I knew that supper was over.

Know that this whole incident was as QUIET as can be!!! Never did Erik scream loudly (and believe you me, HE CAN SCREAM LOUDLY), and we didn't laugh loudly. I am really conscious of noise in restaurants, but we were really having fun and Erik was just so hysterical I couldn't help continuing in the tease.

IF ONLY I HAD A CAMCORDER, I would have loved to have shared it!!

Hopefully this story comes across as funny as it was in real life...
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Today we had a WONDERFUL time at the pumpkin farm to pick out Erik's very first pumpkin! He was so excited he could hardly stand it - he couldn't WAIT to race to the pumpkins and try them out, and find the VERY BEST ONE! :o)

The look of excitement and joy on his face was so priceless, I had to capture it on film!!

He also made special friends with a scarecrow! I thought those two were going to talk for HOURS!! They were best friends right away. I'm so glad my little boy had such a fun time!! :o)

I hope you enjoy experiencing the wonder and excitement of his first "pumpkin hunt"!! We did!!
Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Here's a nice picture of Reese taken recently.

That's all, folks!!
(a really cool shot)

(the view that we get to see from Titusville)

For two days, now, our area has been stuck to the radio and TV waiting for the new Ares 1 rocket to go up from the Kennedy Space Center. Delay after delay after delay has frustrated all of us here (and many tourists from there) but finally, Ares 1 went up!! I was on my way between patients' houses and just happened to be by the water where the best views were at the right time!

Ahhh... I just love living here!! What fun!!
Saturday, October 24, 2009
My parents (mom and stepdad) are in town for 3 days before they leave to go on a 20 year anniversary cruise (can I go??). What fun! They came to FL from Seattle, and mom was the one who watched the boys when Mark and I went to Ukraine, but she didn't get to meet the little bugger until now!

Today, we went to the hotel where they were staying and went swimming. We had a ball! The boys LOVE hanging out with their Papa Joe, and Mom and Erik were like peas and carrots. :o)

I had so many good pictures from the day that I decided to do a montage, rather than uploading every one to my blog! ;o) Hope you like it!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009
Though Mark and the boys make fun of it, I have a yellow VW New Beetle convertible with flower decals all over it. I like it and if they don't like it, they don't have to ride in it!! But ERIK likes it, in fact, he LOVES it, and this afternoon was the first time he rode in it!!!

Today was the first day it wasn't blazin' hot around here since about June. To celebrate, I took Erik for a ride in the Bug with the top down!! He LOVES wind in his face, so I knew he'd love this, and he did!! I know he enjoyed his trip through rural north Brevard county far more than any of the rides he took last week at DisneyWorld!! LOL!

"Goin' for a ride with Mom, Erik?"

"This is gonna be fun!!"

"Is it okay if I eat my shoe on the trip?"

"Yikes!!! This thing goes FAST!!"


"Don't bother me. I'm in a zone."

"This is the greatest day of my life!!"

"It's over?!?!"

Erik is the most expressive kid I know, especially when he's excited (watch him at ANY mealtime!)! He went from conducting an orchestra, to praying/meditating, to screeeeeeaching in ecstacy, or simply looking at me with a smile so big it couldn't be humanly possible. What a riot!! I told Mark he HAD to take him for a ride when we got back so that he could enjoy it for himself, and despite the flowers, Snow White mirror ornament, vase flowers on the dash, etc., he did it and really enjoyed himself! We left the carseat in it until tomorrow, just in case: "Want to go for a ride in Mama's car, Erik???" LOL

BTW, for the eagle eyed, I took his glasses off before the ride, just in case he ripped them off and threw them out of the window!!
Friday, October 16, 2009
This is a video that Andrea Roberts, who owns Reece's Rainbow, put together to show at the cruise she is taking with hundreds of other families blessed by Down Syndrome. She will be showing it, I assume, in one of the "auditoriums". If you watch closely, you'll see a picture of Mark and Erik that she put in there! (We found our precious Erik at Reece's Rainbow.)

--oh, and be sure and get your kleenexes before starting it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009
Guess who got new spectacles?? Mr. Erik!! As per usual, Mark and I went round and round about what style and color to get - I won't tell you who ultimately won. ;o)

We used Specs4us as was recommended and we couldn't be happier!!

He's been GREAT about keeping them on, but occasionally will wing them off without warning, which Mark found out yesterday morning when he stepped on them in the darkened room!! Fortunately, he was able to bend them back into place. ;op

This one has nothing to do with glasses, but I thought was so funny! I went in yesterday to get him up from his nap and found him like this! His right arm was twisted behind his back, his left leg was crooked and up by his armpit and his left hand was pulling his lower lip WAY down!! It was so funny I knew I had to run and get my camera.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
This is a eulogy to one of the most special little creatures in my life, our dog Adam.

Adam was born November 2, 2002, at Hasue Kennel in Michigan. We already had a whippet that we bought from them, Ellie, who was 15 months old at the time. She was a showdog reject (her ears didn't fold correctly) but I was really wanting a puppy this time. The breeder had 9 pups in "our" litter, and she chose which family got which pup. I wasn't too happy about that, as I wanted the one and only pup with light brindle spots, not dark, as Ellie had dark brindle spots and I wanted the contrast. Plus, the little light colored whippet boy that was pictured on her site was extra cute somehow. Guess who she picked for us?? The exact one I wanted!! She knew which one was perfect for us. :o)

Natasha, Reese and I (Nikolai was still in Russia) drove to Cedar Rapids to the airport to pick him up, New Year's Eve, 2002. He was the cutest little puppy I'd ever seen!!! He was an angel on the drive home... I believe that was the last time I'd ever called him an "angel", but that's okay!! He was Adam, a one of a kind. :o)

The week that we got him, I took him to JCPenney for portraits (yes, I did, and I'm glad I did!!).
He was soooo good during the photo shoot and we got some really cute pictures of him!!
Here he is with Reese, who was then only 8 years old, in the COLD Iowa winter, trying to get him to go potty!
Getting his picture was a challenge when he was a puppy because he was SO busy all of the time, but this is one of my very favorites of all (above). He was 3 1/2 months old.

As he got older, he got to be more fun, and I thought a fun photo shoot with the boys was in order! I like this picture because it looks like he's having such a great time on the fishing trip and is telling all of his stories!

This is a fairly recent one, and I like it because it shows his goofy side a little bit. He was such a happy little character!

He and Reese were such good friends, and Reese loved him like a brother, he often said. Adam could be a pain to handle at times, but Reese had an instinct with Adam and could handle him at any time. They were very close and loved each other dearly.

This one was taken the day of our house fire, when we were all stuck outside, waiting for the Red Cross truck to arrive. Adam didn't seem to notice that anything was amiss and thought it was fun that we were all outside and kept trying to get us to throw his toy for him!

Adam was the kind of dog that made you laugh. He was incredibly dumb, but he used that dumbness to keep us all entertained!! We often called him "Fat Adam" or "The Fat Dog", though he, being a whippet, was far from fat!! Next to petite and tiny Ellie he was fat, but he started responding to the name "Fat" so we kept at it. LOL He was a big GOOF and wanted nothing more than to be loved and protected. He was also a big baby, and had an extremely low pain tolerance. If he'd stub his toe or walk into a wall, he'd cry and come running at me for sympathy, which I wholeheartedly gave him!! He loved nothing more than to play fetch and would almost panic if you told him to "go get your 'where'd it go'"!! (Toys were "where'd it go"'s.) He loved to run as fast as he could and loved to show off to you how fast he was going. He'd RIP around the yard and run in front of you leaving 3mm of space between you and him as he passed at 80 mph. When he did that, you DIDN'T MOVE, cause if you did, he was liable to crash into you and both of you would end up with broken bones!! Somehow he lived his whole life without a major injury. Incredible.

Adam will be remembered for a LONG time in our family for being hilarious, dumb-as-a-brick, lovable, adorable, naughty (he never met a garbage can or kitchen counter he didn't like!!), and a big woosy baby. And we wouldn't have changed a thing about him. He was only 6 (almost 7) years old when we put him down last Saturday, from a very fast-acting illness that went undiagnosed by the vets (my best guesses are that he ate a toxic lizard or had a brain tumor or hemorrhage). Adam was a pain in the neck, but we couldn't have loved him more. He was a good friend, and a good buddy, and a good son.

He will be sorely missed for a long time.

The Creation
(Author Unknown)

When God had made the earth and sky
the flowers and the trees,
He then made all the animals
the fish, the birds and bees.

And when at last He'd finished
not one was quite the same.
He said, "I'll walk this world of mine
and give each one a name."

And so He traveled far and wide
and everywhere He went,
a little creature followed Him
until its strength was spent.

When all were named upon the earth
and in the sky and sea,
the little creature said, "Dear Lord,
there's not one left for me."

Kindly the Father said to him,
"I've left you to the end.
I've turned my own name back to front
and called you Dog, My friend."
Saturday, October 10, 2009
She did it!!! My little "Kapuska" did it!! She finished Marine Corps Basic Training!! HOW she did it I will never know, as it take a person of STEEL to be able to do it, but she must be made of steel, because she finished!!

It was a whirlwind trip, to say the least! I worked 1/2 day yesterday (my _0th birthday) then we all packed into the car and drove the 6 hours to the Parris Island area arriving around 9:30pm. Woke up at 5:15am to be there by 7:30am and waited on the bleachers until 9 for the ceremony. It was a beautiful ceremony, and I must admit, I couldn't help but cry on several occasions!! When I first spotted Nat, I got so excited!! I couldn't miss those adorable cheeks of hers!! She looked very serious standing/marching with her battalion and, while she was far away, I used my telephoto lens to get some photos. I noticed that Jennifer (the woman who used to be her foster mother while she was finishing up high school) and a friend (?) of hers was sitting fairly near us, but didn't notice we were there.
Afterward, the kids and I LEAPED from the bleachers to find her!! By the time we found her, she was already with Jennifer, and I practically attacked her (Nat, not Jennifer!)!! I was SO EXCITED and caught up in the moment, that I think I scared her to death when I ran up and hugged her, saying "Natasha! Natasha! It's Mom!!"!! She jumped back and looked at me like I was out of my mind, though she knew who I was (I probably embarrassed her, too). She gave me a slight hug and said she didn't think we were coming (???). She gave Reese and Nikolai slight hugs too but didn't really speak to them, (which crushed Reese, who adores his big sister), and shook Mark's hand. She did seem very uncomfortable to be talking to us. Jennifer was right there the whole time. (I so wished we could have had a few minutes alone with our Natasha...) Nat said she was sorry but she had to go. She politely posed for a few pictures, and left. We drove the 6 hours back home and arrived with one minute to go before the kennel closed and we picked up Adam (we took Daisy with us on the trip).

So while I'm absolutely heartbroken (and shed more than a few tears in the car on the way out of SC) that she was so not-happy to see us, I know in my heart that this is my child and that I was proud as a PEACOCK to see her doing something so wonderful with her life!!! God knows what's going on and I keep hanging on to those 2 completely separate prophecies (one in Wal-Mart, one in the courtyard of our apt. complex) that I received so long ago when she was 5 and 6. I do believe those were given to me by God because God knew the struggles we'd have in later years. I thank Him over and over for those gifts, because without them, I don't know how I would have been able to handle these past hellish 5, almost 6, years.

So it was a bittersweet "reunion" that lasted at most, 2 minutes. Just seeing my beautiful daughter makes everything worthwhile, though. Please do keep the prayers coming (and you know who you are!!).

And now, here are some pictures of my little girl's very big day!!! I'm so proud of her and I love her soooooooo much!!! I only hope she feels it!!! WE LOVE YOU, NATASHA KAPUSTINA!!!!

Little Erik did SO WELL on the entire trip!!! What an easy kid he's turning out to be!! He just really goes with the flow and just sort of does what we do! Here he is in the hotel. He was 4 hours past his bedtime, no nap, and he discovered the mirror. He had a BALL waggling his dog in the mirror!! It was so cute!!

Here are my men by the Iwa Jima statue replica on base. It meant a lot to Mark as his father George Taborn survived Iwo Jima.

She's in there somewhere...

Here they all are, getting repositioned closer to the bleachers. There were so many of them!!!! Nat was in an all-female battalion, from what I understand. There were 2 of them, and I believe, 6 male battalions. The drums were beating out the tempo of the marching, and I admit, my foot was tapping in time, too! I felt like getting out there and marching right along with them!

Here she is!!!!! In the front, with the black bun. She's the fourth from the left. The pretty one. ;o}

God bless my new camera and it's high powered lens! Here she is again, behind the flag (in front). I was so proud I was literally shaking. Knowing what she's been through since she was born and seeing what she has now accomplished really is incredible. Surely God has his finger on her!! I'm SO honored to be the one who adopted her. That God has used me to bring her here and give her love, a family and a name fills me with so much humility...

This is the former foster parent that Nat lived with for the last couple of years of high school. (I was bored waiting so long in the hot sun so I took her picture.) I guess her husband couldn't make it. She was sitting (in the packed bleachers) down a few rows and over a bit to the left.

Here they are, with the Senior Drill Instructor in front. It was a hot morning, and they'd been standing for such a long time, but no doubt, they were used to it!!

And here we are!! With our whirlwind pictures!! Doesn't she look great?! (My legs were literally shaking so bad I thought I was going to need to sit down or fall down.)

I'm so glad I got one of the two of us!! I just couldn't get enough of looking at her and marveling at her accomplishment!!!! Happy Birthday to me!!

Meeting her baby brother for the first time.

My four wonderful kids, all together for the first time!!! Again, Happy Birthday to me!!!

Are we there yet...??

Thursday, October 8, 2009
No, there wasn't a mouse in my shower this morning, yesterday afternoon I took Erik to DisneyWorld to meet "The Mouse"! It was the very last day of our annual passes, and we aren't going to renew (we aren't made of money). We hadn't been to Disney since last spring (too hot and toooooo many tourists!!) and this was our last shot at getting Erik there! Mark wasn't feeling well and our record-high temps were NOT what he was wanting to shlep around in all day, so it was just my boy and me, headed to Dis.

Erik... well, he did pretty well. He had NO CLUE that this was the "Happiest Place on Earth", and so he had no qualms about freaking out every so often. Probably it was way, way too early to take him there, but I couldn't help it, and it was THE last chance he'd have until who-knows-when, so he had to buck up and enjoy it.

He pretty much screamed every time we got on a ride and I sat him down. Then, after I sat down next to him and pulled him next to me, he was fine. I don't believe he smiled the whole afternoon, but he did do lots of talking and TONS of watching!! It was so hot that I kept pouring water on us to keep us cool.

He liked (if you can call it "like") the Dumbo ride, the Pooh ride,the little car ride, and (cough!) It's a Small World!! He did NOT like The Tommorowland Express (is that the name?) or Peter Pan and he screamed the whole time during Snow White!! Poor kid!!!! I would never have pushed him if I knew we had more visits on our passes, but this was his one chance and darn it, he was going to have FUN!!! (LOL) He also was TERRIFIED of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and our pictures turned out pretty bad. Speaking of pictures, I FORGOT MY CAMERA!!!! I had to buy one of those horrible one-use cameras that take such miserable pictures, but it was better than nothing, I suppose!!

If you want to see pictures of us, you can go to the Disney Photo website thingie. The address is:
and the ID number you'll have to put in is
Good luck!!! They aren't that great (the last one you can see him scream in terror right in Mickey's face!!! POOR KID!!), but a couple are salvageable.

This afternoon, we leave for Parris Island to watch my daughter graduate from Basic! What a busy week!!! I'm sooooooo tired. Yesterday wore me out in that heat!

Gotta go!! I hear Erik awake in his room. Time to start the day!
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Whaddaya know?!? I found some time to "rest"!! Today I had 2 patients cancel, so I got home early. I've felt bad for Reese, who's been homeschooling via the Internet, as he's been rather neglected lately and needed some attention. He requested a little time at the beach, so off we went!!

(Funny, before Erik was here, we'd simply grab a towel and go. Now that Erik's here, it takes 1/2 hour to pack up everything he needs, get his diaper on, etc. and go!!)

I don't really have a story today but thought I'd share a few photos. I do want to update Erik's progress and who we are seeing emerge as the person he is, but I'm too tired. Sorry!!

Pray for me tomorrow as I step into the shower.

I was so happy that he kept these sunglasses on the whole time we were there!! I was worried about how he might react to his new glasses (they should be in on Friday), but if this is any indication, he'll do fine!

Reese was disgusted that it was low tide and the waves were wimpy.

I'm not a screamer, but I let out a whopper this morning!!!

As usual, I woke up waaaaay too early. I dragged myself into the shower, with eyes partially open, clutching the walls for support. I got into the shower and noticed something brown and possibly out of place. I didn't care. Where was my shampoo. I tried to see the thing again, but couldn't tell what it was. Without my glasses, I'm really blind. I squinted, but couldn't tell. It looked like an upside down small brown resin figure that might sit in a flower pot or something. I squinted again, but couldn't make it out. Where's the soap.

Finally, I thought, I have to see what that is. Did it fall from the ceiling or shower head? No, it's way too big, and nothing is brown here. Yaaaaawn!! What the heck is that brown thing? Eyes half closed, I reached for it. It was squishy and warm and it JUMPED out of my hand through my fingers, with one foot sticking to the side of my thumb as it went airborne!!! I SCREEEEEAMED!!!

Now, if you know me, you'll know that I'm a tomboy. Grew up playing with frogs, toads, tadpoles, turtles, anything that our Louisiana city provided. But I'm sorry. This was one of those Mexican tree frogs that I DETEST. They STICK and they STRETCH and they are NAS-TY!!! As soon as I let out my scream, though, I knew Mark would stumble out of bed thinking the worst, and I knew he has been having some rough MS days lately, so I quickly yelled, "I'm okay!! I'm okay!! Stay in bed!! It's just a frog!!" or something of that matter.

Somehow I finished my shower with the thing watching me and came out dripping, shivering, and clutching my towel, and frantically told him my story. He couldn't believe it. A frog?? How did it get in there? I got the camera, took a picture and proved it. Was he laughing? No. Was he? No. Better not be!!! Maybe later he can laugh, but not yet.

"Are you laughing???"

Better not be.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Wow! I don't know if I've been this busy in my life!! (Wait-college plus 2 jobs was busy. But I was young, then!!) I have wanted to keep my blog very updated, but it has just been impossible. I couldn't stretch my patients over a 6 day period this week because I had to take Erik to Orlando to see the ENT and get a hearing test, so I've had to work longer days, and then with supper, groceries, Mark and the boys and the dogs, and all the care Erik needs (he can't walk alone, feed himself, or much of anything) I've been extremely busy. TOO busy. But it won't last forever. Next week will be similar (probably worse!) as I'll have to squeeze my patients into another 5 day work week as we are going to watch my daughter graduate from Marine Corps Basic Training up in SC, so next week will even be worse, but then hopefully, I can go back to easier 6-day work weeks (I say "easier" because instead of having 6 patients every day for 5 days, I only have 5 patients a day for 6 - or thereabouts). I try every day to get home in time to feed Erik and get him ready for his nap, but it has been impossible and I've had to rely on Mark and Reese to get this done. I feel guilty about it, but they've been good about it and haven't complained at all (and Reese likes getting babysitting money!).

I'm not really complaining. I'm just plumb tuckered out. Erik really is a very easy kid, happy most of the time, easily entertaining himself with anything that's near (a strap on his stroller suffices just fine). It's just hard sometimes when I'm tired because he really can't do anything for himself at all. And days when I don't feel good or I feel overwhelmed, I really wish he could. At least feed himself, maybe. I wish my mom lived closer. She's the perfect "helper" for things like this. She'd come over, smiling, cheerful as always, ready to dive in and help out. She and Joe hope to retire here in a year or so, and if I can get Mark to agree to live here that much longer, it'll be great!! (He wants to go back up north.)

I think I'm just in a complaining mood. I hope you don't mind. It's hard to be sunny and cheerful ALL of the time, and sometimes I just want to whine. I'm pretty good at whining, actually. I've had years of experience at it. But I really don't have reason to whine. I have a wonderful, loving husband who thinks I'm made of gold, I have two great teenage sons who help out a lot around the house, a daughter who has really turned her life around and is graduating as a Marine next week, a new little boy who is cheerful and loving and fun, and 2 dogs that I just adore and who bring so much light into the house. I think I'm just tired. Not getting enough sleep, and here I am, needing some cheese to go with my whine to share with the whole world. ...or, at least, those who care to read my blog.

Here are some pictures, and maybe by posting them, I'll perk up a little. You know how I love pictures...!!! :o)
This is one of Erik's favorite moments in life - sitting in his seat at the table, waiting for me to bring some food to him!!

Isn't this sweet? Erik has become such a snuggler lately!!! We love it!!

I TOLD myself I wouldn't put any more gross-out food pictures on here, but his expression in this one is so adorable, I couldn't help it!!

Here are Mark, Reese and you-know-who watching Bugs Bunny cartoons on NetFlix Online. They had such a good time!

This one cracks me up!
Erik: "How could you DO that, Daisy?!?!?"
Daisy: "I can't believe I did that... I'm sooooo sorry...!"

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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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