Saturday, June 30, 2012

Another Day in Kiev

I think I have a free moment.  Maybe.
It is almost 9pm and Oliver is asleep here next to me.
Today he had tummy trouble again.  Lots of gas.
Honestly I don't know what the problem is.
I haven't given him milk all day and he is eating only baby cereal and fruit from a baby food jar.  Actually I only gave him baby cereal tonight and he spit up a lot less.  Can that mean that he is sensitive to certain foods?
Thankfully he lets us know when he is not a happy camper so
we can comfort him.  

Nolan is doing great!
He is such a smart cookie!  He has a great imagination too.
I gave him an empty 5 liter water bottle and the next thing I know he is riding it like a horse across the tile floor.  I didn't tell him this.
He takes his crayons and drops them into a little water bottle and plays like this for quite a while.  He is happy to play with us, but he is able to entertain himself too.
He is interacting with Oliver more and more, and Oliver is loving it.
Until Nolan is too loud, or too rough-- then Oliver will cry.

This got me thinking about just how much of a little one Oliver actually is.
I went online to familiarize myself with milestones at different ages.
Oliver has hit a few milestones at the 4-6 month old range.
He is just beginning to bear weight on his legs.  He lifts up his chest with his arms while on his tummy but is not really making any attempt to crawl yet.  However he is a master at rolling across the bed.  We have had two close calls!
He can eat solids, but everything has to be pureed and smooth.
I would love suggestions as to how to introduce chunkier foods without him choking.  

We went on a few walks.  At the park I had Nolan walk next to me holding my hand and not holding my hand.  He struggled with wanting to do his own thing, but as we continued to practice having him stay close to us, he got better as time went on.  I am very proud of how well he is adjusting to our new family.

Since we had a pretty normal day yesterday and Nolan even took a nap, I decided to skip giving him the melatonin at night.  He listened when I said it was time to lay down and he fell asleep within 1/2 hour.  He slept till 7:30 this morning.

Today he took another nap and is now laying down in bed watching a kid's show on tv.  Earlier he enjoyed a long bath.  Rachel ended up getting soaked in her clothes, but they both had fun!

For dinner, I went to the food court underground at the mall in the center.  Rachel stayed with the boys while I got take out.  I was hoping that Puzata Hata had take out and was happy to learn that it's called s-subway.  For $6 I got a bowl of borscht, Chicken Kiev, shoestring potatoes, and cherry veriniki.  That was enough for the three of us.  The only drawback to being smack dab in the center is the lack of a supermarket or any markets for that matter.  There is a small one across the street and up a ways, but it is expensive.  Back on Friday when we were out and about doing Embassy stuff I had our driver stop at a supermarket so we would have things like juice, water, bread, and eggs.

We have our plane tickets bought for July 4th.  Only four more nights here in Ukraine.  I am counting down the days. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

A Better Day

We had our 2nd full day with the boys and it went so  much smoother.

We were up by 6am to start our day.  Nolan was dry through the night again!  We ate breakfast-- I fed Oliver and Rachel fed Nolan.  We have been feeding Nolan so that he knows we are there to provide for him.  Plus, it has helped with the messes.  At the same time we are allowing him to have a water bottle with just a litle bit of water so that he feels like a big boy.  He loves unscrewing the cap over and over.

We are feeding Oliver much slower with little bites of food rather than shoveling it in.  By the end of his meal he is much more content to have the bib come off and have his face cleaned.  He is quite the character.  He loves to scrunch up his nose, raise his almost nonexistent eyebrows so that his forehead looks like that of an old man, and gum your finger to death. 

Oliver loves to be in the carrier with me.  He falls asleep everytime and it is nearly impossible to wake him when he is in it.  He loves the closeness and is definitely making up for lost time.  He is still spitting up-- almost like reflux, but he did finally have a good bowel movement so his tummy troubles are better. 

We went to our Embassy appointment this morning.  I was amazed to see the brand new, modern Embassy building.  All went well except for us having the wrong sized photos for the visa.  It was another stressful moment trying to find a photo shop that was open on this day after holiday holiday, but we did in you'll never guess-- the underground shops at the train station. 

The computer is giving me trouble so I will have to split this post in two.  For now--Enjoy the videos!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

We've Got Them!

Where to begin?
I am sitting at the bar in the kitchen of our apartment in Kiev looking out the window.  Rachel is out on the balcony painting her nails because she can.  Both the little boys are asleep.  Let's just say we are enjoying our little time of peace and quiet.  I wish I could post pictures-- behind me lie two of the cutest and sweetest little boys all snuggly in their jammies-- their very own jammies.
That in itself is a beautiful miracle.
These boys are forever with their family.

Let me back up a bit.
After running back and forth literally, to the bank, to the passport office, back to the bank, to the orphanage, back to the bank, back to the passport office, we finally had the passports in hand.
We withdrew the money from the boys' bank accounts to give as the customary orphanage donation.  My jaw nearly dropped to the floor when I saw that together they had 49,000 grivna equivalent to over $6,000 in their accounts.  And we gave it all to the orphanage since I was told that is what is always done.
Strange that I thought the customary orphanage donation was $1,000-- I guess I was wrong.  I did request that the money be spent on surgery for the kids. 

We really didn't have time to throw a going away party of any sort, but we did get to videotape Oliver and Nolan with their groupa and caretakers.  We also got pictures.  And what is really nice is that I brought another toy to see about an exchange for the white giraffe and after explaining why I wanted it, the caretakers just gave it to me and told me to keep the other toy too.  Yay!  Oliver still prefers that giraffe over any other thing I brought.

We didn't have but an hour to get everything packed and loaded into the car so that we could head to the train.  Just enough time to pick up an extra preventative inhaler for John and some melatonin for Nolan.  Since train tickets were about sold out, we had to get first class ones if we wanted to ride the train Wednesday night.  If you ask me, the extra $60 was well worth the air conditioning, free coffee in the morning, extra pillows, extra bedding, complimentary toiletry packet, and the clean smelling bathroom stalked with toilet paper, soap, and a rug.

Oliver had come alive since leaving the orphanage but he was still a content, cuddlebug.  Nolan however was quite active and curious about everything.  I was thankful for the pencil box I brought with a few crayons and paper.  I added an empty tic tac container, a few squares of a cut up blanket, and some scrap pieces of paper and suddenly it was his treasure that he packed and unpacked at least a dozen times.  He stopped to go to the bathroom which Rachel offered to take him.  She came back saying he was scared to use the toilet.  I solved the problem by going and showing him that Mommy can use the toilet and still live and right after he went.  This boy is really potty trained!

We ate dinner which was not an easy feat to prepare.  The bowl of instant mashed potatoes for Nolan was simple enough-- just add water from the big semavar and stir.  I was very thankful for thinking to save the plastic spoons from our plane trip over.  However, making Oliver's dinner was a bit more challenging.  After hearing that Oliver had a very special diet of a certain dried milk in his cream of wheat made with boiled water and nothing else, I was a bit nervous.  But hey, I have been a Mommy for nearly 18 years to just as many children so I didn't fret too much.  And of course our little chub-a-lub didn't complain one bit.
But he did spit up a bit after eating and has been ever since. :(

After dinner we tried to wind things down.  Oliver was content to just lay near us and chew on his beloved white giraffe, but Nolan wanted to stand up on the beds, look in the mirrors, and take off and put on his shoes about twenty times.  He pulled off his socks one time to clean the toe jam between his toes.  That made us smile.
Finally after he spilled his water from running back and forth on one of the beds I got out the melatonin and crushed it to mix in his juice.  Then Rachel and I waited to see what would happen.  Call it coincidence but within 10 minutes he was much calmer and Rachel and I decided to lay down and close our eyes to go to sleep.  Nolan had a little packet of tissues from the train and kept squeezing it making a noise.  He kept doing it as he lay down and rested.  He probably squished that tissue packet for 15 minutes as he finally dozed off to sleep.
Then around midnight,Oliver woke up and cooed for an hour while we slept.  Awww, so our little boy has a voice too.

The morning went fine and before we knew it we were in Kiev.
Now we are in our apartment just a few minutes walk from the Center where all the Euro Cup stuff is going on.  They had music blasting all day long.  The apartment is my favorite yet.  I love the layout, the bed is huge, and it has every amenity that I can think of. 

The first thing we did when we got here was give them each a bath.  That was fun and passed an hour of time.  Yay-- only 120+ hours to go!

Oliver is probably sick with a cold or something.  I know, I sound like a broken record.  He is still a bit congested and sounds a little wheezy but we watched one of the doctor's check his breathing just yesterday with a stethoscope and she said he sounded fine.  He loves to be in the carrier with me and falls asleep every single time.  Rachel and I used to joke that we were going to pinch Oliver when he was in the orphanage because we never heard him cry-- not once.  Well he cries now-- when we put him down. :)

 Nolan is doing fine.  He loves to use the toilet and has figured out how to flush it. He loves when I praise him about it too!  He also loves to turn lights off and on.  For the most part he is being great taking everything in stride, but he does continue to test every so often.  I did a few time ins with him today in order to make him rest and he began with lots of screaming.  As I talked to him, he calmed down and that lasted for 1/2 hour until he tried something again that I had already told him no to a few times.  Maybe it was opening the fridge, or trying to sneak on the balcony, or flush the toilet for the umpteenth time-- if he did these things after I reminded him not to, we did a time in.  As the day went on, and we broke up the hours with walks to the park or the store or out to the center his behavior continued to get better.  We made sure to have him do a lot of walking to get his energy out!

We had McDonald's for dinner-- Manka for Oliver of course.  He spit up a few times so I am now on my second load of clothes in one day.
Nolan loved the french fries.  With hopes that Nolan would wind down we got them in their jammies.  He still wasn't quite ready to settle down, so I gave him another melatonin pill with a little bit of coca-cola.  It was his only taste that night so he was happy to have it.  Within 15 minutes again, he went and laid down next to Rachel and fell asleep.

Since I have been typing, Oliver has woke twice with tummy trouble.  It seems that he is constipated and gassy.  The change in food I am sure.  I played bicycle with his legs and massaged his tummy and he went a little bit and passed a lot of gas.  Now he is feeling better for the time being.
But of course he is in Rachel's arms while I finish this blog post and try to reserve plane tickets home and he will soon be back in mine for the night-- all night just like last night. :)

Please pray for Oliver to feel better and for Nolan to trust us more and more.
Nolan misses the kids from his groupa, I can tell, but as a result he is spending more and more time with Oliver.  We got lots of pictures of them being sweet brothers together.

Also, please pray for our plane tickets.
Long story short, we are not able to fly out on June 30th like we thought.  It seems as if every day after a holiday is just another holiday around here so we can't get our medicals done until Monday, July 2nd.  We are able to fly out on Tuesday July 3rd, but can't afford the tickets plus they have long layovers.  It was looking pretty bleak for July 4th as well with Euro Cup ending and all, and I have been searching high and low for something. . . anything.  And praying but probably not enough admittedly.  Finally just as I am finishing this post up, I got an email for tickets on July 4th for a reasonable price-- not good-- but reasonable.  I'll take it.

Blessings from Kiev!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Praising the Lord!

Thank you for praying.
We set out to accomplish something that our translator and coordinator had not done before.  Getting 1 birth certificate in 1 day was challenging enough-- but 2?
Let's just say they were cautiously optimistic.
We went to the birth city that we were not sure about, and in the end they gave it to us!
Same with the second city!
We have 2 new birth certificates for the boys which means we will be catching that train tomorrow!
That is of course if we get the passports, but she is pretty confident that we will so I am trusting her judgement.
Thank you again!  For praying our family home.  Each step bring a little closer to being united with our family.

As for Sasha-- thank you so much!
What a blessing you all have been.
Since the whole Chip In didn't work that well, I am going to post all donations with first names.
The money that has been donated will bless him through out the rest of summer.

Danielle $15
Marco $20
Tharen $10
Lauren $15
Chelsea $15
Christine $75
James $35
Janelle $20
Agnes $10
Kathleen $150
Alexander $20
Janine $5
Ekaterina $30
 For a total of $404.67 after Paypal costs.

Wow oh wow!  No matter how big or small the love offering, you guys acted quickly to bless Sasha in a way he has never been blessed before.  Thank you for being the hands and feet of Christ for this young man who is learning what love is despite not having a family.
Well actually, I think we all are his family.

If you would like to email Sasha, please let me know.  I am sure he would love the encouraging words.
As to us adopting him, he is legally too old and he has 2 siblings here that he desires to maintain a relationship with.

Monday, June 25, 2012

From Sasha

Thank you everyone!  The goal has been met.  Actually it has been exceeded by about $100.00 so far.   We already sent $200.00 and plan to send him the rest in a few weeks.  He is incredibly thankful. Yes we could send all the money at one time, but it would probably be spent a lot quicker.  He has not had anyone to teach him how to spend wisely, plan ahead, and to budget.   Little by little I hope to find ways to share and teach him.  The goal is to help him out a little each month, but not have him fully depend on this money.

I wanted to share what he just wrote me.

Christine, thank you for what you have done for me. And now I
I want to thank those people who helped me. Now I do not even
I know what to say. I am very pleased that there are people in the world
who care for others. You know, for me it is the happiness that you
there. Suppose I do not know, but I will only say one thing, you have a very good
heart and it's great. Once I read the Bible a very
important information. There were these words help our neighbor if he
needs your help and bypassing his side. Now I am even more
began to believe in God. He really exists. This I at 100
percent know. I know that he pomoget one who believes in him. And you know
for me it is a miracle. The money that you gave me I use to
Living in an apartment and food. I'll be praying for you to have all
it was good. Once again all of you who have helped me a lot and a huge
Thank you. With love your brother Sasha.

Кристин, большое вам спасибо за то что вы для меня сделали. А теперь я
хочу поблагодарить тех людей которые мне помогли.  Сейчас я даже не
знаю что вам сказать. Мне очень приятно то что есть на свете люди
которые заботятся за других людей. Знаете, для меня это счастье что вы
есть. Пусть я вас не знаю, но скажу лишь одно, у вас очень добрые
сердца и это очень здорово. Однажды я в библии прочитал одну очень
важную информацию. Там были такие слова помоги ближнему если он
нуждается в твоей помощи и не обходи его стороной. Сейчас я еще больше
стал верить в бога. Он действительно  существует. Это я уже на все 100
процентов знаю. Я знаю что он помогет тому кто в него верит. И знаете
для меня это чудо. Эти деньги которые вы мне дали я использую для
проживания в квартире и на пищу. Я буду за вас молится чтобы у вас все
было хорошо. Еще раз вам всем кто мне помог большое и огромное
спасибо.  С любовью  ваш брат Саша.

Chip In Isn't Working

Yes you can still donate via the Chip In-- it still gets to the right place.

Hi Everyone!
I apologize that the Chip In is not working.  However, I can see that nearly $200 has been raised for Sasha.  The total is actually $197.85 after fees.

Here are the donations with the dollar amounts.


Praise the Lord!
Thank you so much!   

He is One Today!

Today is Oliver's birthday!
But I don't think anyone else noticed.
I mentioned it a few times and all I got is an "Eh."
Don't worry sweet baby boy, I celebrated in my heart.
And that song I sang in your ear-- Well it's the birthday song and from now on you are going to hear it every time we celebrate a year of your amazing life!
Can't wait to celebrate for real once we are home!

Rachel and I got to the baby house at 8:30 am. to pick up the boys to go and have their passport photos taken.  We got permission to take them without a nurse which gave us a chance to bond and see how the boys would respond to us outside the baby house.  Oliver and Nolan were very well behaved!
It only took a few minutes and cost 100 grivna.

After the photo excursion, Oliver fell asleep in my arms.  He seems to be doing that every day now.  Nolan was given a pocketful of candy when we got back.  I think it was for his awesome behavior.
Hmmm, I wonder if I should arm myself with a boatload of candy for the trip home.
We picked some up on the way home just in case.
I figure it can go one of two ways.  Either he will behave great to get the candy or as soon as he has the candy he will be hyped up on sugar and bounce off the walls.  Sounds fun.  Not.
As another back up plan, I am trying to get my hands on some melatonin.
I figure that whatever doesn't work on the train to Kiev, I will have something else to try for the plane ride home.

Tomorrow at 9 am. we are supposed to pick up the court decrees and then we will begin the paper chase to get both birth certificates-- in one day.
Please pray that this happens.  If it doesn't we are automatically stuck here delayed another week.
I can't even bring myself to think about this.
Just in case we are successful we needed to buy our train tickets for Wednesday evening.
As of this morning there were only first class tickets left.  And those were going quickly.  Some may think it very foolish, but we stepped out in faith and bought tickets for the 4 of us for $200.

If you don't hear me shouting from the rooftops at the end of the day tomorrow, you'll know why.
Just kidding.  I need to stay strong. . . and I will.

On another note, I wanted to share about Sasha.  He is doing okay,but is in desperate need for money.  He found another job, but he will not get paid until around July 21.  He does not have money for food or lodging.  He is literally living day to day right now. 
I know that many of you have emailed me asking to help.  Well now is the time.  We looked into different ways to get him the money and Western Union looks like the most viable option at this point.  It would bless him tremendously to be able to get him $200.  If anything above that is raised it will help cover the processing fees to get him the money, and the rest will go to him to bless him even more.
Thank you so much!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Instead of Pictures

I woke up really early this morning.  I just couldn't go back to sleep.  I am feeling really homesick.  Rachel is just bored.  Thankfully, I was able to message with John, William, and Julia for a little bit.  Can you believe I haven't heard the kids' voices since we first left.  They will be music to my ears. . . for at least a while.

Since I am not able to post pictures, I thought that a video would be nice.  It is very short, and I certainly don't like how my mind goes blank once the camera's rolling, but at least Alex and Dennis will see their Mama and new brothers.
This video was taken a week ago, but I forgot about it.  Nolan is such a cutie!

Since it is Saturday here, the baby house was quiet.  There were hardly any kids outside when we got there.  We decided to go to the music room for a change.   Nolan colored and played with some ride on trucks while Oliver enjoyed a new treat we brought.  He ate at least half a dozen "palchikees" which are sweet melt in your mouth puffs that resemble fingers.    He even army crawled a few inches to get one in his mouth.

When it was time for Oliver to eat, I was happy to see that the nice caretakers were there.  Here was my chance.  I decided to pull out the cute baby bibs that I promised to pass out to the babies.  I explained the best I could and pulled out my camera.  As I tied the bibs on, Rachel was able to get lots of pictures!  This is perfect since there are 3 babies that I want to see get a family.  Of course I would love to see all of them find homes, but at this time only very few children are able to be adopted at such a young age and I am pretty sure they would qualify with their special needs.  Sorry I can't post the pictures now, but I will once we are back home.

On our way out, we saw Nolan again.  He was riding around on a little car.  Seeing him got me thinking.  For the most part, the kids here have nearly everything my kids back home have.  They have toys to play with.  They swim.  They take baths regularly.  They get to play outside.  They paint.  They color.  They have clean clothes.  They participate in children's programs.  They get plenty of food.  They get pushed around in strollers.  I can go one, but you get the point.  They are very well taken care of especially when I compare them to all of our other kids' orphanages.

And yet they are missing something.  Something that no one at the orphanage can provide for them.

A family.  A Mama and a Papa.  Brothers and sisters.

And it shows.  These kids still yearn for attention.  They reach out for us.  They run to us.    They wave and they yell hi.  And many of them rock back and forth despite the wonderful care they receive.  Why?  Because deep down they yearn for the closeness and intimacy that comes from being in a Mama's arms.  They need that.  They crave it.

And that is just something that an orphanage and it's caretakers cannot provide. . . and it shows.

Yes, we are blessed to have our boys. . . to see them everyday. . . and to know that in just a few days they will be leaving this place forever.  But that day cannot come soon enough.

Hoping and praying that this Wednesday is the day we get to bust them out forever!

P.S.  Rachel got to sweep and mop the stairwell on our floor.  We did it as a favor to our friends who are still away at camp.  For a while, she actually wasn't bored. :)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Day 31

First things first.
Happy birthday love of my life!
Though I can't be there in person, I am in spirit.
I hope your day is one great big blessing!  I know the kids will do something special for you, and we'll do our thing once Rachel and I and the boys are back home.

We went to see the boys as usual.
I try so hard not to make the day a repeat of yesterday, but it is getting harder everyday.  Today is the 7th day of our waiting period, but it feels so much longer.
Rather than walking in our usual way with Nolan's eyes immediately fixed on us, we walked around the baby house the other way to get Oliver first.  Oliver's groupa looked like a bunch of bumble bees with many of them dressed in yellow.  All the babies had their cute, pink, bare feet showing so I figured it was going to be a hot one.  After playing with the babies for a while we took Oliver to go find Nolan.     Like always, he spotted us immediately.  He smiled and waved as we walked over to him.  

I've noticed that Nolan is making more eye contact with me especially when I am providing him with food or drink.  He wanted his usual sippy cup filled with water but this time he offered Oliver a drink.  What a pleasant surprise.  And Oliver drank a little bit too. . .  another pleasant surprise.  I was hesitant after feeding him a little piece of crumbly cookie the other day and watching him gag.  I'm not sure Oliver has ever had solid foods.

 Nolan is definitely getting used to us and shows many signs of actually preferring us over the caretakers but I can tell he is taking advantage of the current situation.  When he is with us he has the freedom to roam.  When he is with his group he is supposed to stay within certain boundaries.  He likes it best when we are close to his group so he has the best of both worlds.  He will wander off looking back to see who is going to chase after him-- us or the caretakers.  
He enjoys not only the snacks that we bring but the snacks that are served to the kids.  That little stinker is pretty darn smart I tell you.

Today Rachel went with me to take Oliver back to his group to eat.  As the babies were changed into pajamas I sat on the floor and played with the babies.  It didn't take long for me to be scolded though.  One caretaker insisted I go and wash my hands if I wanted to feed Oliver, probably because I touched the floor when I got up.  In the wash room it was interesting to see that not only did each of the babies have their own towel with a hook labeled with their name, but each of the caretakers had their own towel with their names.  Pretty sanitary if you ask me.   Strange being they allow the babies to steal each other pacifiers to pop in their mouth, and they share diapers.  It was very entertaining to watch two little boys keep taking the same pacifier from each other's mouths over and over.  One would pull the pacifier out of the other's mouth and pop it in his own mouth to get a few good sucks until the other one would steal it right back.  This went on 3 or 4 times and was absolutely adorable.    

Not only did I get to feed Oliver but Rachel got to feed one of the babies too.  I'm sure she enjoyed it very much.  After, I gave Oliver a toy to play with. . . a little, white, squishy, plastic giraffe.  He chewed and played with that thing for a long time, so much that I am very tempted to offer 30 grivna for it on the trip home, or even worse, slip it in my purse. 

I know. . .  what a horrible thought but it would probably cross your mind too if you saw how much he enjoyed it and up till now had never shown much interest in any other toy.  Here's to hoping they realize the sentimental value of Oliver having something familiar for the trip home.

I stopped to use the bathroom on the way out and passed the laundry room.  There are actually 2 big dryers and a lady who was ironing the kids' t-shirts.  How wild is that?

We rode shotgun again on the very same marshootka as yesterday.  Definitely our preferred method of transportation.  We made a quick detour over to the open market to get some fresh cucumbers and tomatoes.  We saw the same ol' babooshka selling bags and stopped to buy one.  She remembered us.  And after I paid her she gave us both big hugs and kisses.  :)

On Sunday we will attend a third church with the missionary family we spent the night with last week.  We are both looking forward to this.   Monday is Oliver's birthday and the last day of our 10 day wait!    We will of course sing him happy birthday and celebrate with him-- but not with a cake I don't think.  For some reason, I want to celebrate with him once we are home.  I want him to enjoy his very first bite of birthday cake surrounded by his whole family.  If he is going to gag let him do it in the comfort of his new home.
On this day we will take the boys to get their passport photos.  Then on Tuesday we will hit the ground running to pick up the court decree and try and get both birth certificates.  Please pray that we will be successful.

Lastly, thank you so much for the outpouring of generous and loving support.  This journey has been full of so many surprises and we are blessed that you have walked along side us the whole time.   I still do not know what next week will bring, but we certainly have less to worry about now.  Thank you again!  And bless you!

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Faith.  All you need is a little bit.  The Lord is able to take that little bit and do amazing things with it.
I know this to be true.
And it is by grace that He does this.  Because He loves us so much.
I know this to be true too.
See. . . yesterday I was having a pretty down day.  So much seemed to be weighing down on me that it was hard to have hope.  It was hard for me to have faith and trust that we would ever get home.
Oh sure, I had some faith and hope, but my tank was emptying pretty quickly.
All I could do was cling to this verse.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5

I don't know about you, but when life seems tough, and I feel this gloom hovering above me, things seem to be so much worse than they really are.  As I yearned to get my boys out of the baby house and home with the rest of the family, I felt that the hope of that happening was being taken from me as I heard the news that we might not get the birth certificates in 1-3 days.

Then with the news that we would need more money,  I was very discouraged.

Last night I went to bed early and just prayed and prayed for renewed strength and hope.
With my worldly thoughts, I really couldn't figure out how things were going to magically be better in the morning, but I knew that the only one who could get the job done is our Loving Father in Heaven.

Well, he didn't let me down.
I woke up feeling better.  My burden was lighter.  My spirits were lifted.
I do have much to rejoice in.
We all do.

As I checked my email, I found some very encouraging words from friends and family.
They brought smiles to my faces as I read each one.  It was as if I could reach into the screen and touch them, they felt so close.
The body of Christ is an amazing group of people.  It is hard to explain how I can feel so close to brothers and sisters in Christ, yet I do.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

We went to visit the boys today.  Nolan was happy to see us.  He understands that I am his Mama and Rachel is his sister.  He is beginning to understand that we have a connection.  When I went to take Oliver up to his groupa to eat, Nolan wanted to follow me.  He even lied and said he had to go potty just so that he could follow me upstairs.   Ya sure, the lying part isn't so good, but the thought that he wanted to keep dibs on me is precious.

Oliver is still congested.  No one seems to notice.  When he is outside, he feels hotter than usual.  And I hardly see him sweat.  Is this normal?  Hopefully he sweats and I just haven't noticed it or aren't looking in the right folds-- LOL.  Hopefully no one seems concerned about his congestion because it is just allergies.   Please keep him in your prayers.  The sooner we can get him home, the better.  
Did I mention that he is a major cuddle bug?  He is content sucking on his tongue sitting in my lap.  I still haven't heard him cry.  I'm thinking of pinching him just to hear it. ;)  Now that I have gotten to spend time with all the babies, I am convinced that he is the second biggest baby in the groupa!  And yet they all eat the same sized portions, so go figure.  He is less active than the rest of the babies but that is slowly changing.  I'm betting he sheds a few pounds once he is home and starts crawling.

After our visit with the boys, we took the marshootka back to the city center.  We did something really adventurous by sitting up front next to the driver.   It was actually much nicer since we had a direct breeze from the open window and no one to bother us with stinky armpits.  However I kept thinking as the engine revved louder than ever for half a mile, "When's he gonna shift!  He better hurry up and shift!"  The drivers sure are hard on the engines here.

John was able to give me some pointers about finding an ATM to pull out some money.  Bless his heart.  He aways manages to be my knight in shining armor.  
It's crazy I know, but I have a personal problem obsessing over the outrageous fees that some banks charge.  With many mouths to feed, I take pride in avoiding them at all costs.  It makes me feel like a better steward of the money that God has given us through John's job.  I avoid the bank fees at all costs so using an ATM here has stretched me in ways I did not want to be stretched.  

I was able to pull out only a portion of what we need because of limits, but it is a start.  It was bittersweet having the extra money in my hands.  In one way, I feel that I have now increased our chances of getting home sooner and on the other hand I feel like I have flushed money down the toilet.   But the fact that I bit the bullet and just did it, I am sure makes my hubby smile.  I bet he wondered if I would actually do it. :)

I saw that someone donated $50 to our grant fund.  How amazing is that?  I think that will cover those outrageous bank fees.  Oh how the Lord works.  Makes me smile knowing how creative our God is.  Certainly not on my own understanding.

Thanks for following along and for taking the time to leave me a comment.   Blessings.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Day 29

Hi everyone.  I know it has been a few days since my last post.  I'm sorry.  Honestly, I have been struggling with what to write.  Rarely do I have little to say, but I feel the Lord telling me to be still... be quiet... and lean on only a few right now.  There are so many amazing and wonderful things to share but they are often overshadowed by discouragement, disappointment, talk of further delays, and an overall ache to be back home with my family.  I sure miss them, that the thought of even talking to them  right now would probably have me crying buckets.  Yet, I still can't wait to hear their voices and better yet. . .  see their faces.

We are in our 10 day wait and the thought of being home around June 30th has been a beacon of light at the end of this tunnel.  It has been my hope that we would all be together in another week or so.
Yesterday, I learned of an upcoming holiday that will delay things a week, unless certain things happen.  I won't elaborate, but I will ask for prayer that the Lord works on the hearts of the people who will help with Nolan and Oliver's birth certificates.  Please pray with me.
I will also add that funds are really tight here.  We are having to spend more than I imagined, and that is above and beyond the nice cushion I brought.  I hope to figure out how to withdraw money from a bank and to find one with the lowest fees. 

But enough time spent on worrying about tomorrow.  Let me share about our last few days.

 On Sunday we stayed home.  The babyhouse seems to be on lockdown during the weekend so we decided to have a down day.  We washed some clothes and watched a few movies on youtube.
We watched Believe in Me, Cutback, and The Wish List.  Actually we watched one of those the previous day but I still wanted to mention it.

On Monday we visited the boys.  Nolan is behaving much better now, although he did throw sand.  But he is also a kid. . . an excited kid, and a boy so I didn't make too big of a deal out of it.  
Nolan always manages to end up with a few pieces of candy.  I don't know if it is because he is a favorite or if the caretakers are handing it to him with the expectation that he behaves for us.  Either way, it doesn't hurt anything.  He does end up with sticky hands, but I bought some wet wipes for 1 grivna.  

After an hour, I had to take Oliver back up to his room to eat.  It was Malto Meal type kasha again with a little brown spoonful of who knows what.  After guessing it was pureed meat or bulgar I finally asked.  It was mush made from "pachenya" which is a biscuit cookie.  As I fed Oliver, another caretaker began to feed another little boy.  In order to shovel it in faster, the caretaker pushed his head back against the blanketed back of the chair.  This method was not something I would use, but it certainly worked.  I think that kiddo broke a new world's record as fastest eater! 

Sorry, I do not mean to make light of the situation as I find it very sad that these kids are not talked to, played with, or encouraged to feed themselves, but what else is there for me to do.  I tried to talk and play with Oliver as I fed him so they could see from example how much more pleasurable feeding time can be for these babies, but at the same time I tried not to go overboard as to have my feeding duties taken away.

I saw two new babies in the groupa.  One little boy looks very sickly with purple fingertips so I assumed that he was at the hospital receiving treatment and had just gotten back.  The other baby is a little girl with DS who was born in September.  Both of them are cuties!

After I tucked Oliver in his bed, I went over to comfort two other little babies who were still waiting to be fed.  Amazing what just a touch of the hand will do.  I was with the other babies long enough for Oliver to fall asleep.  As I left the room I saw him sweetly sleeping with his chubby little legs hanging out through the bars.

That afternoon we went to another missionary friends' home outside the city.  I was not sure what to expect but Rachel and I were excited to be around other Americans.  The family has twelve kids with five still at home so I knew we would have something in common.  The family actually has a team of four from the states with them for another week, plus a Peace Corp volunteer so it was quite the party.  These missionaries have been here for 7 years.  The gave me a tour of their home which they built to American standards as close as possible so when other Americans come here they can have the comforts of home.  After being here for nearly 4 weeks, I have to admit that I found comfort in flushing my toilet paper.

We had barbecued chicken, pickled red tomatoes, freshly picked berries, tomato juice, summer salads, and stewed sweet peppers.  I ate raw garlic and onion fresh from the garden.  It was all very delicious. A neighbor came over and joined the party and later took me for a tour of his garden.  I ate gooseberries for the first time and boy were they yummy!

The two oldest boys reminded me of Adam and Caleb, and their little 5 year old girl made me think of Dennis.  It felt as close to home away from home as possible.

We were having such a good time that it was after 10pm before I looked at my watch.  We ended up spending the night.

The next day we rode a marshootka back into town with their oldest son Tim who still lives at home.  It was sad to leave, but what a huge blessing it was to get that time with them.  They filled up our emotional tank and gave us a break from the normal day to day activities.  

The next day we went to the open market.  I wanted to buy a bag to carry our things home.  When I asked the old babooshka who was selling them how much they were, I was surprised when she said three grivna.  I was very thankful and actually tried to offer her an extra grivna.  She asked, "What is this?" and seemed genuinely offended that I was offering her charity.  I was apologetic but at the same time I tried to show my appreciation for her and her honesty and hard work.  I guess love needs no spoken language because she understood my heart and gave me a great big hug and a kiss!  It was wild.
But she never did take that grivna.
As I walked away, I felt certain that we had both blessed each other. 

At the end of today's visit, Nolan did not want us to leave.  He did not want to go back to his groupa.  He did not cry, but he shook his head no to us leaving.  Finally with the promise to be back tomorrow, he waved to us good bye.

Oliver continues to have a snot nose and sounds congested.  I hope it is just allergies.  I seem to be more accepted by the caretakers since I have began showing them the photo album I brought.  Maybe this Mom of 17 actually knows something about taking care of a baby. :)

On the walk to the bus stop, I saw a man touching up the paint on his car with a bottle of nail polish.  Nice.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Day 25

Today is Saturday.  The weather is so much cooler that it is hard not to find a reason to smile.  I must have told Rachel 40 or 50 times how nice the weather is today.  Praising God!  Though we woke up late, we made it to the bus stop in record time.  The other adoptive family that is here couldn't join us at this time, but Rachel and I still went to the baby house.  Just as we got to the bus stop, the bus we needed, 110A, pulled up.  Talk about perfect timing. :)

It was so nice to see the boys after court.  Now that I am officially their Mama, it feels different to see them.   Not that I didn't feel in my heart that I was their Mama from the moment we met them, but now that we have declared to the judge that yes these boys have value, yes we want them to be part of our family, and yes we will love them always-- it feels more certain that these boys are here just temporary.
After the 10 day mandatory waiting period, we will get to leave the baby house with the boys forever!
They are orphans no more!

When we first got to the baby house we asked for the music room key.  When we got up there, it was very hot and I didn't feel brave enough to help ourselves to the air conditioner.  Thankfully one of the caretakers understood what I was politely asking for and they turned it on for us.

Nolan and Oliver were very excited to see us.

We tried painting with Nolan with Crayola Mess Free Color Wonder Fingerpaints.  Trust me, it wasn't mess free.  If you call getting a petroleum like goop all over everything you touch "mess free" then you're crazy. :)
 Thankfully I happened to buy some wet wipes at the open market right before we got there.

With John nowhere in sight, Nolan was definitely testing the waters this morning.  He spilled out his water-- twice.  The second time I gave him a 2 minute time-out on my lap.  After that he was fine with the water.  Then he hit Oliver (not hard but still) and I reminded him that we don't do that.  About five minutes later, he hit Rachel.  That was another time-out on my lap.  This time it wasn't as pleasant as the first one since he realized I wasn't playing around. After that I didn't see anymore hitting.  Then the other adoptive family came with the little girl they are adopting.  Things were going fine until Nolan did something again that he knew he shouldn't.  I had him sit on my lap for a third 2 minute timeout and this time he had a meltdown.  I think a light bulb went off when he realized I meant business. He started crying loudly, but I remained firm.  After I let him off my lap he continued his little tantrum on the floor.  It wasn't really even a tantrum but more like a lay on the floor in total defeat and sulk fest.  I picked him up and asked him if he wanted to go back to his groupa since I know that he enjoys being with the other kids and is probably tired of hearing me speak horrible Russian/ English to him.  He nodded yes, and I told him that after he helped put away the toys we would go.  At first he didn't want any part of it, but I kept up the expectation that if he wanted to go back to his groupa he needed to help clean up.  After a minute, he decided to help and then I told him we could walk back to his groupa.  I asked him to hold my hand, which he had no problem doing.  We walked back and he gave me a hug and blew me a kiss.  Any hard feelings were long forgotten as we blew kisses to each other.

Even though it was not easy, I was incredibly happy how the visit played out.  I know he is testing me and learning what is and what is not acceptable.  He is very smart and wants to know exactly what the boundaries are.  I think that is wonderful.  I prefer he do it now rather than doing it all on the trip home.

I got to feed Oliver again and love on the other babies in his groupa.   That room is sure loud at feeding time.  This may sound crazy, but I can't wait to hear Oliver's cry.  I have heard almost every other baby's cry, but not Ollie's.  He is such a content baby from what we can see.  That, or he has figured out that his cries go unanswered.  Either way, I can't wait.

After our visit and a rest back at the apartment, Rachel and I went to the big open market.  We found some great deals on coffee, candy for the kids back home, and deodorant.  With the cooler weather we actually took the time to explore more of the open market.  We found the pet section with live birds and guinea pigs, and the fishing section.  We found the huge home improvement section too!  I plan to take lots of 
pictures. . .  now if I could only figure out how to upload them to my computer.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Two New Sons!

Praise the Lord!
We are the proud Mama and Papa of two little boys!

We found out that court was scheduled for 5pm this afternoon.  The timing of this "for sure" news was perfect since we were already out eating an early celebratory lunch with two other families since John would be long gone come dinner time.

 Court was supposed to start at 5pm but didn't actually start till 5:30.  She was very nice and read through all of our paperwork before asking us a few questions.  Within 20 minutes the whole thing was over including her ruling in favor of us adopting the boys!

We are so happy to have two news sons

Nolan Robert Reed 
(Big Boy)


Oliver Wesley Reed 
(Little One)

We can't wait till Nolan and Oliver get to meet the rest of the family.  Hopefully only 2 more weeks here.  John is on his way back home now to be with the kids.  He will be home for Father's Day.  Perfect timing.  What is even more perfect timing is that the 10 day waiting period will end on Oliver's birthday.  I can't think of a better birthday present for him.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Court Should Be Tomorrow!

John's embassy appointment went very well. He will be back here late tonight.  In the morning, he will visit with our boys one last time.  Court should be around 4pm tomorrow.  And then John will catch an overnight train back to Kiev.  With the Euro cup going on, flights for Saturday aren't available.  God willing John will be back home with our kids on Sunday.
Today we moved to our missionary friends' apartment.  They will be gone for the next 2 weeks so they invited us to stay.  This is a huge answer to prayer.
Another nice thing is that the weather is supposed to cool down a few degrees starting tomorrow.  Yay!
  Big Boy
Little One
Both already Reeds in our hearts.  Court will just declare what we already feel in our hearts.  Can't wait!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Finally a Few Videos

It is so hot here! Riding on a marshootka for 25 minutes with hardly a breeze let alone air conditioning, doesn't help I'm sure. Honestly, we are so spoiled back home. Sure there is air conditioning here in cars and in homes, but not on any of the city buses we have been on. And when a bus designed to seat 15 has 30 people crammed in it, the temperature rises quite a bit. It is actually cooler to get out and walk.  When we first went to the babyhouse, I was concerned that the babies didn't have a cool place to sleep.  Thankfully the babyhouse has air conditioning in the "groupa" rooms .
The visits continue to get better and better with our boys.
Our Big Boy still wonders where he is in the pictures.
Our Little One is enjoying our attention and is blossoming as a result.  When we first met him, he laid face down when I put him on his tummy.
Now look at him!  He is rolling all over and scooting too!
When I held out my arms a few feet away he inched his way over.
Rachel noticed him rocking yesterday when she set him down next to her for a minute.  He stopped as soon as she resumed loving on him.  Right away she suggested that I spend extra time rocking him when we get home.  Can't wait!

Like I said earlier, it has been so hot here.  The caretakers set up 3 little swimming pools for the kids to play in.  Even though the water was warmed up and hardly refreshing, a few of the kids loved it!  As you will hear in one of the videos, a few of them did not!
Thankfully our Big Boy loves the water!  I think we need to get a little pool like this for all the little boys to play in. :)
Now on to the videos!

Looking Brighter!

We got the docs!  Court should be Friday.  In order for John to fly home this weekend he needs to visit the Embassy.  He is on a train to Kiev tonight so that he can do his visit tomorrow rather than waiting till Monday.  We have lots of videos that I will load this evening.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

How Things Are Going

Here's Rachel painting my toes while I read my birthday wishes from our kids back home.   I'm still lovin' my toes!
On Saturday night we went out to the market a few blocks from our apartment.  On the walk back we saw this band of teenage boys playing on the street.  A girl was walking around with a hat collecting donations.  For a few grivna we got to enjoy some great entertainment.
As we walked home we passed a young man playing his guitar singing Radio Head's "Creep."  Then he sang Rhianna's "Umbrella."  His buddy was steering a remote control car with a hat strapped to the top.  We also threw in a few grivna to encourage them.  Rachel asked the singer if he knew any Christian songs.  "Just one.  Joan Osborn's What if God was one of us?" :) (Just a slob like one of us.) It was fun hanging out for a few minutes before going back to our apartment.
When we visited our Big Boy yesterday we noticed that his hair was shorter.  He got a haircut!
It has been very hot here the past few days so we decided to do a morning visitb to beat the heat in the afternoon.  When we got to the baby house we were surprised to see tons of the kids out and about.  Now it looked like 121 kids lived here.  As soon as our Little One saw us his face lit up.  For the first time I took out my camera and asked to take a picture.  One caretaker asked another and they said yes! 
After this picture, John went off with our Big Boy to play with his groupa in the sandbox.  Rachel and I hung out with the babies.  With Rachel holding another little boy, I set down our Little One to take out my camera.  He must have thought I was returning him because he started to get very sad faced and had tears coming out.  My heart melted, and I quickly picked him back up.  It was just precious.
After an hour it was time to take the babies back upstairs to eat and nap.  They allowed Rachel and I to help with this task.  I decided to stick around and took the initiative to remove Little One's outside clothes and put him in a t-shirt and little underwear. 
Let me say--
The babies here are so chunky!
I then asked if I could feed him his kasha.
They said yes!
This was the highlight of my day!
But it made me kind of sad too.  After about 2 minutes into feeding Little One another baby began to be fed by a caretaker.  That baby was done before Little One was half way done because the food was shoveled so fast.  And here I thought I was feeding Little One fast-- apparently not fast enough.
All around us was crying babies-- all wanting to be fed at the same time. 
I wonder why they feed just one baby at a time while 3 or 4 others watch and cry.  I am no expert, but I wonder why they wouldn't make meal time more enjoyable by feeding three at once and having them take turns.
One bite for you.  And one bite for you.  And one bite for you.

After Little One was finished, I got to tuck him into bed for his nap.  Such a sweet treat for the both of us.

Once we were finished with Little One, we went back outside.
I was able to get a few pictures of the kids playing outside.  They all have to wear hats.
Unlike Dennis and Alex's baby house where they had not one single bucket or shovel to play with and when I brought them they were taken or stolen, this baby house has tons of things for the children to play with.
It was so hot that the sand was very dry so a nice caretaker brought out a bucket of water to wet the sand so the kids could actually build little castles with it.
Love this picture.  Like daddy, like son.
Now to update you where we are in the process.
To our big disappointment, we did not have court today.  The document we needed to be signed by someone back in the capital was not, thus delaying court. . . again. 
As you can imagine, this has brought a lot of stress to John and I. . . a second time.  Such high hopes followed by disappointment.
How many more days before our boys are free?  How many days until we are united as a family?  
We have had to cancel train and plane tickets with an added cost but with things completely out of our control, there is nothing else to be done.
It is what it is.
We miss our kids back home so much.  We miss our family, our friends, our church.  We miss each day that our whole family can't be together.
 We trust everything will work out for the good of the Lord, but personally my faith is weak right now.  Lord give me strength.  We are away from our kids right now.  And it is so hard to be away.  But we trust that the Lord will provide beautiful, gracious hearted people to step up in our absence.  This is so very hard to do.  But we have seen it happen again and again and we are in awe that though things are completely out of our control, our Heavenly Father still has a perfect plan-- even when we don't.  We need to remember this when things don't go as planned.  I especially need to remember this as we wait for this document.
Ring Ring.
Just in.  We got the document!  It will be on a train tonight.  However the judge is working on a murder case right now and has no room in his schedule.  He is going to work us into his schedule for this Friday-- we hope.
Please pray for mountains to be moved.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

It's Early for Me

Good morning.  Or good night depending where you are.  This past Saturday was my birthday.  I'm 37.  Rachel and John made it the best birthday possible considering we are away from the rest of our family.  I woke up to coffee in bed and a foot massage.  Rachel got me my favorite coffee and ice-cream.  She gave me a very nice pedicure. 

We went out to pizza for dinner with another adoptive couple who had just came in on the train.  It was so nice conversing them.  They can't wait to meet their little girl!

The visit with our boys went great!  I was concerned that our Big Boy might want to go back to his groupa early, but we were armed with good ol' pretzel sticks!  And I found some Roshen candy hidden in one of the ball pits left over from Children's Day.  Jackpot!

Little One is nothing short of amazing.  He gives me so much eye contact and likes to imitate whatever I do with my tongue.  I stick it out.  He sticks it out.  I give raspberrries.  He gives raspberries.  It is very cute.  It might have been accidental, but when Rachel went to take him one time, he shook his head no.  It made this Mama's heart soar.

As you may remember, my laptop crashed.  We gave it to some friends to fix.  They gave it back to us after church yesterday.  John gave them some money to show our appreciation and before they left they tithed the whole amount.  This really lifted our spirits in a country where bribes and extortion are rampant. 

John brought home the computer and before we could enjoy it, the dumb thing crashed again.  The operating system on it was not very stable, so John met with our new friend again and hopefully we will get it back today-- with a different operating system on it.

Please, please, please pray.  We are supposed to have court tomorrow but the document we need has still not been signed.  We found this out on my birthday a few days ago, and as you can imagine it really put a damper on things. 

Thank you to everyone back home who has so wonderfully stepped up to help take care of our children.  You are part of this journey.  We could not do this without you.  You have continued to lift our spirits as we wait for this process to play out.  Hope to write soon with some wonderful news!

Remember, trust in the Lord with all your heart.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Pizza and a Movie

John accidentally bought bologna instead of ham. He fried it up for lunch.  We had sandwiches with the same hot dog buns we had at our picnic.  They were so good, that I asked where our missionary friends had bought them.  They are found in the open market where there are literally hundreds of vendors.  And on our own, Rachel and I found the one vendor who sells them.  :)
I think we were both tired in this picture.  It seemed as if our Little One was
under the weather.  And he had a few scratches on his face as you can see.
What's that all about I wondered.
Did I mention that I can't wait to get him home?  I can't wait till there are no more visitations, no more drop offs, no more till tomorrows.
Our Big Boy is more and more interested to look at the photo album we brought.  He can't figure out why he is not in the pictures.  He loves when John names all the people in the pictures.
Rachel took this picture.  We both think it is such a cute picture of Big Boy.
He really is this happy!
We went for a nice walk around the baby house grounds.
Both the boys enjoyed it very much.
After about an hour, Big Boy was ready to go back to his groupa.  It made me sad that he actually seemed to prefer being with his groupa today.  But having adopted before, I can understand this and so we took him up.  His groupa, for the exception of our visits for the last two weeks, is all he knows.  They all speak the language he is familiar with, and he seems to love being with the other kids.  Totally understandable.  

John asked again for a microwave.  Finally he was told to meet the landlady down at the corner where he would walk to another apartment with her to get one.  Here he is walking back with it in hand.
Later he carried my "useless" laptop to the Center where we met up with friends of our missionary friends who took it to try and fix it for us so I would have it when John left in a few days.
When John tried to get "a quote" the guy seemed very uncomfortable to name a price.  When John insisted, the guy finally suggested twenty grivna.  About $2.50.
What a servant's heart.  Of course John and I would like to bless him with more, but we both thought it was very nice of him to suggest so little.
We went to visit the older kids orphanage/Internat.
The kids were happy to see all of us.
I got to see the girls' room on the fourth floor.
Here is where the kids watch tv and movies.  Since our last visit a few days ago, they changed the furniture layout.
This is where we watched Bridge to Terabithia.
This is the cafeteria.
We made pizzas with the kids.  Sergei next to Rachel has the biggest crush in case you can't tell. 
The kids handed their pizzas to the kitchen staff so they could bake
them in the oven.
The kids enjoyed their pizza very much!
Today is our daughter Sveta's birthday.  Can you believe she is 15?  Wow!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Picnic

In the open market right outside our apartment we are able to get potato peroshki for 2 grivna the size of a sandwich and as filling.  That is equivalent to about 25 cents.  They make a wonderful meal with some fresh cucumbers and tomatoes.
Here is a picture of our Big Boy with cream all over his nose and forehead after he fell when Rachel was chasing him.
He loves musical instruments.
Are these not the cutest pictures ever of Little One?  He can be such a ham.
And look-- he is sitting up!
Already he is blossoming before our eyes!
Big Boy listened when he was told to settle down.  He and John quietly played with toys.
Today we were invited to a picnic.  It was so much fun and a nice break from our everyday routine.
John loved jumping off the rope swing.
Here is John and Forrest.
In the middle of grilling hot dogs, it began to downpour.  The guy who runs the campground brought over these umbrellas for us.  Thankfully the rain didn't last longer than 10 minutes.
The pitter-patter of rain on the river was gorgeous.
We had a wonderful day at the river. 
Tomorrow John and Forrest are going back to the train station to return the ticket and get a portion of the cost refunded. 
Feeling a little down about the delay, but trusting God's perfect timing.  Now John will be here for my birthday and he will get in a few more Daddy visits with his boys before flying home.
We may also go back to the older kids orphanage for a movie pizza night with them.
Trying to stay positive. :)
Thanks for the encouraging comments.