Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Yes it is Gotcha anniversary for Marina! Happy Bachman Birthday 1 year!







I am posting Mel Dellanos' rendition of our events with a comment by me at the end. It is a reflection of "that day". I can tell you since I have experienced both child birth and paper birth, that the emotions are incredibly similar, and the pains that accompany each individual event are no worse for one than the other. I love Marina as much as I love Evan, and that is more than I can put into words...

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2011

What were you doing on Tuesday, November 16th, 2010??
Last year, November 16th was a Tuesday. Most people wouldn’t know that, or really care much because it was just another day but I will never ever forget it. I had barely slept the night before because I knew what that day meant. Cathy, Tully, & I had a lot of things to do, we had to pick up the passports, we had to finish packing, and cleaning the apartment (the landlady already hated us so we wanted to make sure not to leave too much of a mess for her to reinforce that opinion LOL!)… then we each had to go to the orphanages and pick up our children, forever changing their lives and all that they knew.

Last year, this day, Tuesday, was Gotcha Day. The day that Marina Hope Bachman & Timothy Danil DeLlanos would leave the orphanage forever in the arms of their Mommas.

The plan that day was for us to go to our regular morning visits. I decided not to go though because it would be just me and Timothy from that day on for the rest of our trip, and because I wanted him to have a little more time with his groupa/friends although he didn’t really know it at the time, and I wonder how much he remembers anyway. LOL I took the time to rest, pack, and finish up last minute things. We all had lunch at the apartment, and at 1 pm Roman picked us up and we headed for the Passport office. Tully & Evan stayed at the apartment.

When we got to the passport office, we had to wait a few minutes. Roman was our translator/facilitator for this errand since Marina (our actual facilitator) was in a different city with another family for their court date. We had been given some papers to hand over in exchange for the children’s passports. We gave them the requested papers, and continued to wait. We were taken to a tiny office and told to sit. We sat. There were three ladies there, one of them was speaking pretty excitedly to Roman, complete with some hand gestures and scary facial expressions. Cathy whispered that something was wrong. She just knew they decided to keep Marina (the child) and weren’t going to give her the passport. Of course, this was sarcasm, and totally said in jest. Nevertheless, we could tell something was wrong. Roman was a pale color, and was talking to the lady in a pleading tone. Then, our suspicions were confirmed when he called Marina and had HER talk to the passport lady. Of course, Cathy and I were sitting there in the dark, and Roman finally (out of the corner of his mouth(as if they would understand him! Hehe)) said, the name on Marina Bachman’s paper from the orphanage was wrong. Before they would give her passport over, it needed to be redone. This would mean going all the way back across town, hoping that the right person was available to get the paper redone, and coming back to the passport office all within about a 30 minute window so we wouldn’t miss the 5pm train which we already had tickets bought for. Now, anyone who’s been to Ukraine knows that such a feat is NOT gonna happen!! Traffic & timing are two things that are NUTS there! So, all we could do is pray. In the meantime, Marina was working her magic. Promising that she would be back to the city that night and would get the paperwork snafu taken care of ASAP if they would just PLEASE give us the passports. I’m not sure what she said to the lady (and I don’t think I wanna know!) but she reluctantly hung up the phone and proceeded with the “check out” process so we could take the passports. When they finally handed them over, Roman ushered us out quickly joking that we needed to hurry before they changed their minds! Lol

Once we were safely back in the car and headed back to the other side of town, Cathy and I finally breathed again, and we also noticed a HUGE vibrant rainbow in the sky… God’s Promise. Very appropriate for us at that moment, and one more thing to make the day memorable. We were so relieved that we were laughing, and crying. LOL

We went back to the apartment where we loaded up two vehicles and parted ways temporarily. My driver took me to Timothy’s baby house, to get Timothy, and Roman took the Bachmans to get Marina from her orphanage.
I’ll never forget the emotions, and the relief I felt that afternoon as I walked into the baby house for the last time… we did what needed to be done, and had a couple of tearful good byes with nannies and the head nurse (Tatiana) and walked back through the big grey metal gate for the last time. The weather was misty and cold, and it was cloudy. We headed to the train station and to freedom for a sweet little boy who had NO idea what was in store for him!!

When I think about that day, it’s still so fresh, I can remember the feelings, the sights, the smells… I remember the panic of thinking that the Bachmans might not get to leave with me & Timothy, the relief when we got the passports, saying goodbye to Roman, my very own security rabbit, and the train ride to Kiev, Nico’s face when he saw/remembered all the bags we had… getting to the apartment and being in awe of how great it was… the kids’ first baths… it was a long day, but one that I will never forget. It was my first day of being Timothy’s caretaker.


It was our Gotcha Day. A day that changed the course of our lives forever. Happy Gotcha Day to our sweet little son. We love you more and more each day!!

And My response:
Ah, I must add that when we parted ways for you to go get Timothy, and we went to Marina across the street from our apartment, there she was, sitting in a little chair in her "room". She looked bored as the nanny brushed her hair and brushed her hair...and brushed her hair. Then Marina gave up her orphanage clothes even the underwear and put on the new dress and stockings and fancy panties and coat and scarf and little red beret, and you could see she felt beautiful. We took a hundred photos since it was the first time we had actually all seen her room and all her friends were sitting around a table having cookies and milk. Then we met the staff at the front door, and choked back tears at the bonds that we formed in such a short time, bonded by the process of handing over a life that truth be told they never intended to watch over for so long:) But I could see they loved her and wished her well. We got in the car, Roman at the wheel, and headed to the train station with no extra moments to spare. Of course we were behind a wreck, and little Marina began to cry...sob, and she just fell apart. We were so sad for her! But Roman spoke sweetly and quietly for about 5 minutes to her, all in Russian, and she stopped crying. I will always wonder about what he told her, but I am not sure he could have told me in english. Marina never cried like that again so I assume she believed him and we somehow proved him true to his words. He really is a security rabbit! Journeying with Mel made all the difference as we were able to help each other and combine our funds to obtain one amazing apartment! Never mind how awesome it is to share the rebirth of a child with someone who has such a heart for going the distance too. I remember the sheer glee at getting to cut the kids free in the giant bathtub and Marina taking about 6 baths a day because she could. I remember thinking if Timothy turned off the light or the tv one more time....but I had no way to finish the sentence with recourse, because he had already done it 3 more times by the middle of my thoughts! Like a precious little puppy, God made Timothy too cute to have mean thoughts about:) I can never forget the friend I found in Mel, the friends I love in Ukraine, and the lives of Timothy and Marina who are now on vastly different paths than they were pointed. Where would they be now if we had not gone? I for one, would still have a giant hole in my heart. It is still broken but heals more every time I hear Marina laugh. And the cracks are now like stained glass, they let the light shine through in an interesting pattern. Thank you Mel for posting our memories. You did an amazing job. Probably because you are an amazing person. Love, Cathy

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Nearly a year has gone by....







and I can hardly believe the changes in Marina, and Evan too for that matter. Just yesterday Marina and Evan were headed to the car pool line to get in my car and Marina was just full of herself! Evan looked totally dejected and on the edge of tears...this has all been brought about because Marina lost yet another tooth yesterday! Evan's are loose, but Marina does not say a word about her teeth being loose and before you know it, she has two missing from the front and another that will come out this week on the bottom. This is devastation for a 6 year old boy for some reason. It is now his obsession so I feel sure he will wiggle his own tooth out this week as well. I am simply thankful that apple season came early and halloween is over...these kids love apples and are starting to look like little jack o lanterns! I have noticed Marina being much less feisty in the last couple of weeks. Less spitting, less lashing out...and FULL of hugs and love. She signs she loves me when she heads to the swingset out the back door. Evan has taught her this and I am grateful. I sit here typing and I am full of LOVE for these two amazing children who tenderize my heart just looking at them. I used to keep a verse in my bathroom taped to the mirror about how sorrow would be replaced by joy. I actually got it from a church mission group who came to the hospital during Cay's leukemia battle and church missionaries brought things to strangers who were there (maybe toiletries or something like that) and anyhow this handwritten verse was tucked in whatever it was that I got. I found it in my things after we left the hospital and Cay had used another portal to exit...so I taped it to my mirror in the bathroom and I cannot tell you how many times I mocked that verse and begged God to make it happen at the same time. Well, it has happened. Yes I see Caylyn when I look at Marina...and had I known Marina existed, I would have seen her when I looked at Cay. They are terribly similar, and vastly different. Yes, joy has replaced my sorrow. There are things I am sure of now that have become rock solid within. I am sure Caylyn is safe and a mighty force still being used by God. I am sure Marina is safe and a mighty force being used by God...and I am seeing adoption take root in my son's heart as a true concern and I really hope it will shape how he changes the world as well, because I know he is going to. We all do in some way every single day.
So we have been busy as always. Evan is a tiger cub scout and Marina would not miss a scout meeting if the sky were falling...the kids are doing well in school too. We went to San Juan on a quick 3 day trip last week when the kids had an extra day off (groupon coupons rock!)The leaves had started to change and the nights were cold and we had not been to the beach as a family all year, so we hopped on a plane and enjoyed simply building castles and jumping waves. I could not tell you much about the country other than the water is perfect and the hotel was 5 minutes from the airport. Both kids had runny noses when we left, and the ocean was the remedy that healed most of that! I feel sure it was the least expensive trip we have ever gone on. It is because of this perk that I love my job at USAir! Marina attended her first Buddy walk and took to the front of the line for photos (shocking!!). We have attended Rachels Run and spoken to families about reaching out to make a difference.
I personally have battled and battled with the fact that our USCIS immigration approval will expire in December for adopting a second child from Ukraine and it is killing me inside that we are leaving someone behind. Yes, I can start over but WHY? Tully has said not right now and it is not sitting well with me at all. I have such a restlessness about this. But it seems like it will not be anything I can fix at this juncture in time. I cannot extend our time without another home study, and that window is closing fast since it has to go through DSS again. I would appreciate prayers for peace over this. I am working in other ways though to make a difference as opportunities arise. I have been part of a growing orphan ministry at our church and we will officially launch this soon which is very exciting! I hope to host a shoe drive for orphans pretty soon. I went to Jim DeMints conference on orphans and adoption and it was totally amazing. I found a post yesterday from another mom and I will add it here: I think it is similar to how I feel about urgency. If it does not show up which is often the case with blogger for some reason, go to nogreaterjoymom.com and spend a minute with words from Adeye--she is really amazing. So I am one but there are more. Maybe God will channel some of this mad hatter feeling in me about the obvious fact that every month even here in South Carolina 60 children will age out of the foster system without a permanent family they can count on...what do those kids do for holidays and hope and strength now that the state has graduated them to the street? And you wonder why the jails are full of youth? Were YOU ready to live life on your own at 18? Why has the church turned over the command to care for orphans and widows to the state and when will we reclaim this as our right and responsibility? Honestly I promise this is not where I thought this post was headed...but these are things that we have to stop turning our eyes away from. 147 million orphans worldwide is an epidemic. It is in our back yard as well as across the oceans where we do not let our minds wander for long because we want to scamper back to where it is safe here in America and we do not treat our orphans poorly, do we? Do we? And yet you know we do when you read the paper or see the news. It has to change. I am one...be we are more.
And so it has been a year since we first met Marina, and when you go back to the first pictures of Marina and compare them to now, can you see what being a member of a family who loves her has done? Does not every child deserve to be loved? I cannot forget the alternative for her had we not gone. That alternative is a reality and a majority of what is happening to little children as our lives go on and we do not think about it or consider it because it is too sad or too difficult. But it is still real whether we admit it to ourselves or not.

Once our eyes are opened we cannot pretend we do not know what to do. Not everyone can adopt, but everyone can help. I hope that during Orphan awareness month you will be not just more aware, but will find a way to help be the voice of a child. I put this as a starting point just to make it easy for you. I know for a fact that these grants DO get handed to a family who will travel to bring a child home. Every dollar helps. It made it all possible for us. http://reecesrainbow.org/angeltreekids

I know the world is full of needs. I just can't think of one more important than helping a child who has no voice. When I think of the amount of money we spend here in America to dress our dogs for halloween I am utterly heart broken. This does not set well with me. No it is not my money to redistribute and delegate for the least of these... but it says alot about how callous our hearts have become in this world and our hearts need to be broken for these lost children...every single one of them. Together we can make a difference. I appreciate everyone who helped us bring Marina home. Instead of her sitting in an institution drugged and drooling, she is running in the surf and learning in a school surrounded by people who love her where she is a best friend to little girls named Mary, Nancy and Candace. She is a sister to Evan and a daughter to us. She is a cousin to Cole, Laurel, Leela Mae, CJ Mayfield and Forest, as well as those in Colorado she has not met yet. She is a grand-daughter who is doted on. She shares a joy that is indescribably rich about how her life is going to turn out now. That is a polar opposite to where she would be today had we not moved when God made a way. She had only a week before she would have been transferred to the mental institution, her original destiny. God is mighty, He can make a way for anyone to save a child from hopelessness. I am humbled and honored that He made a difference for Marina through us. Adding her to this family is the reason my sorrow has turned to joy as she joins hands with Evan walking down the hall at school and adds chaos and laughter as well as tears and teaching to our lives...she has been a gift from God to us, each of us. And we are a gift to her. There are more waiting for the gift of a family and the teaching of Love. Orphan awareness, the time to be aware is now.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Getting back to normal, whatever that is!

I think I am nearing the end of the trail with this computer...it really does sound like a 72 volkswagon in need of a major overhaul. When it does die the silence could be deafening! I am unable to load any photos up at this time because my computer is too full. It has served me well, and is somewhere between 5 and 6 years old. For an HP with 1Gb hard drive that is probably a miracle. But enough with the eulogy for my computer...I just want you to know why I cannot load any photos of Marina and her lost front tooth:)

Yes being 6 has its' hazards and one of those is to naturally lose teeth. Of course Evan was devastated that Marina lost her tooth first because that is one of those first grade battle scars that bodes famously well with children, particularly boys. Finally he conceded she was lucky. I could not figure out why brushing her teeth for the last two weeks was a battle in itself until we were at Sam's club on saturday getting Evan's glasses ironed back into their original(ish) shape, and I almost fainted when Marina's front tooth was sideways in her mouth. If you aren't ready for that sort of thing it really can grab ya! Anyhow on the way home I looked over at her and she was a mess, blood everywhere but grinning her little jack o lantern smile, front tooth gone. We finally found it behind the booster seat she was sitting on. I really want to find a way to post this photo so I will figure out something. It is so stinkin' cute!!

Evan has slowly returned to eating again, but lost some weight when Marina went into the hospital. He cried for two weeks with a stomach ache each time we were planning on eating, and Dr. Gramps diagnosed it as nerves. I seriously wonder if it was post traumatic stress brought on by Marina being in the hospital but we talked our way through everything for the last couple of weeks and we are all doing better. We have a family camp invitation this next weekend at Camp Courage sponsored by the hospital where Caylyn had been, it is a grief counseling group of us that will get together. I am more and more grateful for that group each time we can get together with them. It amazes me what a long process grief management can really be, though it shouldn't amaze me at all. Something that life altering redesigns who you are when you have to let go of a child or anyone you love. That term isn't really right either, as we never let go. I ran into two amazing people from our past this past week, both survivors of childhood cancer. I was so happy to see them both, but I wonder what sort of reminder I am for them. I hope it is to remind them to LOVE like crazy for the moments we have together. I never meant to indicate in my last post that my faith had waivered when I was so upset about Marina in the hospital but I am human and while God has the universe spinning just right, sometimes I teeter when I am feeling off balance. Then He gently sets me up again. But I know who holds my own tomorrow in the palm of His hand, and I know who loves my kids more than I do. More than anything for me, I love knowing these things in my heart. There is peace in this "knowing".

The impact of Caylyn and now Marina is moving me forward in other ways. I am happy to say I am committed to help with the new orphan ministry at our church. It is really a neat group of folks all in various walks with the project. Some are adopting, some are praying, and some have already adopted. All have the goal of bringing this epidemic to the attention of the church members. I think we have been complacent for too long on many subjects and now that I realize the plight of the orphan is so devastating on so many levels I am really moved to share the cause through whatever outlet I am able. Often it turns out to be a one on one at the grocery store or wherever I am able to stand still (usually with Marina in tow) for more than 2 minutes. She is a great show and tell kind of kid, especially when full blown proud of something like losing a tooth:) She cornered several of the elderly in Sam's when they were too slow in running away just to give them a load of Russian and then poke her tongue through the new hole in her teeth lineup:) That's a great segue into where she came from and how "you can have one of these neat kids too since I didn't get the last one!"

Marina loves school more than just about anything. Her first VERY clear english sentence is "MAMA! THE BUS IS HERE!!!" Her delivery is anything but subtle and it would not surprise me to find that the neighbors count on her more than their rooster or alarm clock.It is certainly dependable to the routine of getting out the door at 5:45 am. Evan is doing really super in school but is struggling a little bit with math and therefore in his first grade drama, makes him say he hates school and that he wants to quit. His face was priceless when I told him he had about 11 more years to go and then some college before we could talk about that. I remember vividly being shocked by the same piece of information in the second grade nearly a hundred years ago. He asked me how many days 11 years was. I was smart enough to figure that out ahead of time and snap out the answer, telling him I learned that in school just so one day I could answer him. Mama's are often mean like that, having the answer once in a while.

Well, fall is definitely here. It is now in the low 40's this weekend through the night time hours. We went from a/c to heat without so much as a weekend to open the windows and let in the autumn pollen. I bought new coats for the kids this past week. I am reminded to ask for survival prayers for next weekend as we are slated to go camping with the boy scouts for the weekend of the 21st and I remember camping in the cold a couple of other times in my life. I am sad to think they do not have individual plugs for the camp sights where we are going next weekend...I would drag our electric blanket with us. I am still in awe that it kept us alive on our previous smarty pants idea to camp in November a few years ago with Evan's best buddies, a trip he still talks about and one that is worth telling forever. It was a blast! We will take Marina on her first camp out as well as it is a family camping trip that will take place at Walnut Grove Plantation. It is less than two miles from this house, so we have options in the middle of the night at least! My original plan was to utilize my free airfare and go somewhere groovy with the kids, like St. Thomas or something (I also have friends in the hotel industry or we would just be able to use the airfare to see what airports look like and that would be about it). But Evan chose the camping trip. I love that boy!

So that's about it for us for now. I imagine I will be on a new computer that can easily manage my photo volume next time I update.(hoping the computer fairy will leave one under my pillow?!?!) The ipad is a pain in the hiney without a usb port as part of the design. I think I will wrap it up and give it to Evan one of these days. He uses that more than I can anyway. Ha, so does Marina come to think of it. She is pretty sharp on that thing and can open at least every game on there. Life continues to be fun and full and busy for us. I am working less these days as most vacations have been used up already at the airport, which is fine by me. I like staying home and cleaning this messy house every day. I like picking the kids up from school. I like making dinner without using the window of a drive through. Who knew I was meant to be a mom like June Cleaver? I bet no one...

Paka for now, Cathy

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Flashback...





Remember in my last post how I "mentioned" I was going to Hawaii? Well I actually did go, and it was utterly amazing. I climbed muddy rainforest trails, saw the sun rise above the clouds at 10,000 feet on top of a volcano, drove the road to Hana, snorkeled, rested, ate out and ate in, re-met my cousin whom I had last seen when he was 6 months old (he's a grown up now:) took a helicopter ride around two islands some of which are not possible to navigate on foot, etc etc...I could go on and on because it was easily the most beautiful place in the world. I will throw in the fact that 85* and relatively no humidity adds tremendously to my opinion of its beauty. I would post pictures but my computer is completely full and nowhere to upload them to the hard drive so they are trapped in the camera for the moment, right next to the San Francisco ones with the kids..Anyhow as I languished in the sun, Marina was nearly 4 thousand miles away quietly developing a bladder infection, probably from incessant bubble baths that she LOVES so much. The symptoms started out being that she kept wetting her pants, but never complained. So there was the thought process that maybe she was upset that I had left. Finally it was clear that an antibiotic and trip to the doctor was in order. By the time I got home, got back into a routine and life began to rotate around in a circle again, the holiday weekend came this past weekend and it was evident from her high fever that this had all traveled into her kidneys and she was pretty sick. So sick that she was admitted to the hospital on wednesday afternoon this past week. This was one of those really hard journeys if you have to know the truth. It has never crossed my mind that we would be beside this child in any hospital anywhere. But there we were, the same size bed, the same angle on the tv, the same little cars that go by down below, when the world is not the same. The IV pump made the same beep and Marina had the same scared look part of the time she was there. She even had the same hospital pattern little kid gown that is open in the back. Tully went through most of her admission work and her iv placement but it was me who walked into the hospital room after work and realized that her vein had blown and the medicine had infiltrated her hand, blowing it up huge and getting cut off with the hospital band that HAD been a bracelet but was now damming up everything in her purple fat little fingers and HUGE hand. I probably over reacted like a mama bear but it didn't have much longer to go before that was going to turn into the primary problem rather than the secondary....foregoing all my memories of how to win friends and influence the medical staff, I walked in and began releasing that tension of reality meets history...Honestly the hospital was like crossing a forbidden line in the sand. That was then and this is now, and never the two shall meet. But over a simple bladder infection gone amuck, the past and present collided on what I thought was either holy ground or the doorstep to hell. It totally freaked me out. I have not slept for 4 days unless you count minutes rather than hours as sleep. Marina carried the weight of the world in this new environment. She braved 4 separate iv attempts and finally gave up and took the shot in the leg to stop the e-coli that was causing her so much pain. Marina was funny at times and sweet all the time and charming in between those times. Who might that remind me of? It was as if she had been schooled by the champ of all hospital visitors. I will stop here but the similarities between going to the hospital with Marina and going to the hospital with Caylyn were way too similar. I took the night shift and Tully and Evan headed home, Evan bawling because he NEVER gets to stay in the hospital.
We were released yesterday late afternoon and headed home singing our little heads off in the car. Leaving a hospital on a beautiful sunny day just has that effect I suppose especially since Marina was on the edge of too happy since she was released. I was tired and looking forward to going to bed early but Marina's fever was heading back up the Fahrenheit pole again. We fell into bed way later than I meant to and she was tired and restless. At two a.m. she woke up and started to cry a little. Then she began to cry alot. She was crying out something that sounded like Adonai over and over, and she was getting louder and louder, to the point of sobbing for nearly an hour.(Adonai is one of the Jewish names for God but I can't recall the significance of that particular name right now, though I do not think Marina speaks Hebrew you really never know with these kids). My heart was breaking and I was afraid she was still sick. Finally she put her little hands under her chin and balled them up and shook them saying in sign, that she was scared. Then she said SCARED!!! I scooped her so close, hugging her and pleaded with her not to be afraid. I do not know if she was afraid due to a dream or a memory of somewhere she has been before, or just the hospital in general, and I will likely never know. We walked to the living room and the dog was all around her checking on her...so Marina smiled at Kiki and made Kiki lay on the couch with her, and the scared went away. That was at 3:30 am. At 4:30 am the alarm went off for me to go to work. Its a wonder they did not send me home for being a total doofus all day but I got through work and all I know is that I will probably never get any better at the hospital visit thing, even though everyone was amazing at Mary Black Hospital and treated us over the top like royalty. I am going to artificially remove the grey hair from my root system now which grew probably an inch since tuesday as Evan asked 5000 questions in the last 48 hours regarding the difference of where Marina was in the hospital and the hospital where you go to die. Tully too, probably needs a bit of therapy as well, though as usual his hair looks fine. There is no other way to make this clear, it was very very scary, and I do Not want to go through ANY hospital stuff with any of my kids ever again. I love them entirely too much. Entirely. Usually writing in this blog makes me feel better, but maybe I will need a little more time to go past this. Thanks for letting me cyber-yak....and Marina is wonderful today. Evan is great too. God is gracious even when He tests us and I believe everything happens for a reason. I am thankful that He is real and ultimately in control of the whole shebang.

Please pray for everyone effected by 9-11, then and now. I was 6 months pregnant with Caylyn when that happened. Where were you? How has it changed us all? How much has changed in ten years. How very very much.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

What the heck happened to summer???








My last post is heading into summer plans, and this one seems to be heading right back out again! Seriously, Marina and Evan start school in 2 weeks!! I can't imagine one child in the south even listens to their teacher before Labor day so why do we waste all those tax payer dollars???

It has been a wonderful summer except I truly admit I had to work too much. If it had not been for Mayfield and Holli and Forest (cousins, and Mayfield's girl friend) I am sure the kids would have had hardly any fun at all...but as it stands, they were busy as a one armed paper hanger! Those teenagers took those kids on more field trips and outings and swimming and to the icee stand up the road.....and to movies even! The fun hardly stopped. All the while I was working and slaving in the hot sun hoisting those heavy bags on to airplanes (why do suitcases weigh more in the summertime?? I am not kidding). When it was my turn to get in on the fun I booked a long weekend trip to San Francisco. Seriously, that is one of the coolest places to take kids and I had bought lots of tickets to fun things last christmas off of ebay so the trip was manageable financially (even restaurant coupons from restaurant.com!) The zoo is one of the best I have ever seen, small but extremely impressive!that in itself was an adventure that should be a kids book! Evan dropped his "lucky hat" into the gorilla compound... and the mama gorilla eventually threw it back out so her baby would stop licking all over it. Yes the lucky hat has been spit on by a baby gorilla, is that Lucky or what??? We hiked around in the redwood forest (Muir Woods), and then tried to justify playing in the ocean when it was 64* and raining, though they were not in the ocean exactly until Marina tripped over a large rock and literally fell in face first, then the race was on to see if Evan could get away with it too...Fisherman's wharf had a good marine aquarium (the touch pool with the little stingrays pretty much turned into a wading pool for Marina--she looked like I had dunked her in by her heels she was so soaking wet when we finally pried her away!) and then before we know it we ran out of time...I took the kids on a weekend that Tully could not go, so we invited Forest so I wouldn't be outnumbered. It was an extremely smart move on my part and he seemed to love the trip as well. It was kinda fun calling him up the night before we left and inviting him to California...he thought I was kidding...I told him to get a passport because who knew where we would go next time!!

Marina starts this next year of school in a newly implemented program called a trainable classroom, and we are happily familiar with the process as that is what Caylyn experienced in school and it served her beautifully. This will give Marina a great foundation of colors and numbers and lots of songs and books along the way to help with English and learning the alphabet. I am thrilled for her to be in this class of 5-7 year olds and Evan and Marina will now be in the same school together! He is happy about that as well and so am I. I feel like now I can let them ride the bus together, at least to see how it works out. Gas is too high to drive them and pick them up everyday anymore.

As you can see in the photos Marina has learned to swim...although you can't tell it is her because she is wearing Evan's bathing trunks...she seems to think they fit her better than a regular girl's bathing suit. I do agree the legs don't jam up her fanny so much but I can't seem to convince her she needs the top too...and furthermore it makes Evan insane that she raids his clothing dresser. He never has clean shorts he complains! I have been a bit disappointed because the girl has a load of precious clothes that she addresses with the term EW or YUCK. Sigh...guess those will be heading to consignment this fall. Or over to my sister's where her little girl is a diva in waiting.

Ok I am off to find some things for dinner, we are in for the day I think so if the kids ever wake up from a nap I better be ready for some hungry little bears! PAKA for now!

PS I am heading out to Hawaii with my parents and Mayfield and Holli in late August. Their reward for helping with the kids all summer included a)getting paid, and b) getting a buddy pass to somewhere, thank heaven they chose Hawaii. I invited myself to go with them...and no one said NO. I am really looking forward to some down time after this fast paced sweaty hot summer. Maui here we come!! Tully, enjoy those children:)

PS We just got back from PA this morning from a hard week of playing Tom Sawyer with Daddy/Tully. I will make that an individual posting when I am able to get hold of some really great photos from my MIL. That trip was really groovy and the kids had a blast doing some of the greatest summer things of all times, including tubing down a river and rope swinging into the creek as well as a 60 foot home made slip n slide...yep, it was all things Tom Sawyer, except we did not have to paint any fences. Since the camera ended up in the creek and Marina has stuck various things in my computer plugs and outlets, you will have to wait on the photos of that adventure, there is no way to upload them from my little memory card.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Graduates and summer plans....







As I mentioned in my previous post, both kids are now considered first graders. The process varied greatly as Evan got a wonderful party and a cap and gown and a pomp and circumstance tune to march into the sanctuary to...and Marina got an IEP for next year and an end of school party for summer!! Most of the difference can be attributed to sending a child to private school I think, but this is the long version of why there is only graduation photos of Evan...

Marina and Evan started their summer officially by attending Kickin' kids Karate summer day camp and they are overwhelmed with the program of fun that is in place there! I truly think every town needs THIS kickin' kids to come in and show 'em how it is done! The kids are so happy and exhausted when I pick them up!! They go on a field trip nearly every day, whether it is to the bowling alley around the corner or to the library for summer exploration of reading, these kids are on the go! There will be swim trips and water parks, and indoor jump parks, etc. Not bragging here, well yes I am, but this was the find of the summer! They also have karate class 2 or 3 times a week. Somewhere I uploaded some photos from my phone but they may have gone into cyper space, as I cannot find them on line. I promise to take photos of them in their outfits (I am SURE Evan will school me in the proper name for that when he gets home today)and I can't wait to hear all about their day.

Last night was Marina's sleep study to measure her need for having her tonsils taken out. She was incredibly good and promptly fell over asleep, right on cue, when the last wire was glued to her hair...oh was that ever fun to dislodge this morning at 6 am! The test was conducted overnight and she flopped from one end of that twin bed to another! That poor tech must have come in to reattach Marina's wire leads at least 10 times last night. I did take Marina to my mom's this morning by 7 am to play beauty shop and all was near normal when we headed back out to go to summer camp an hour later. Evan had his first spend the night party and stayed with his cousin last night. He loved it and was really proud that he did not cry even one time. I was delighted as well! Now if I could convince myself that I have indeed actually had coffee today... I must have failed my own sleep study coz it feels like I missed several needed hours.

It has been near a hundred degrees every day this week with no end in sight. I will work 3 full days friday saturday and sunday at the airport. I try to say I love my job at least several times an hour as I am at work, because I do, but it is hard to remember with that much sweat drowning my contact lenses and burning my eyes. People do not pack less stuff in the summer, though logically they should! Tully works at a mill that caters to families tubing down the river on the weekends he does not come home, and I think we are due a ride ourselves real soon! I am sort of jealous I think:)

Life continues on a normal path which is always a bonus for us and we do not take it for granted ever. Marina is talking in sentences but she mixes it in with her version of Russian, so one really has to pay attention to hear her sneak in things like I like that, or brush my teeth, etc. The words are clear and sound alot like us, which puts her at the distinct disadvantage of being southern/russian. To that I can only say "Bless her heart!" She has come a long way in her 6 months of being one of us and we love her more each day. She still spits at me but hardly would even consider doing that to anyone else so she must love me the most:) I am definitely her GO TO Girl, and can heal all wounds with a can of aloe and a big hug and kiss, whether I see the boo boo or not.

We have signed up for swim lessons starting next week and they go for two weeks, 4 nights a week. Both kids will attend. Marina LOVES the water and can swim like a fish now that she figures out that she floats with her floater bathing suit and a life jacket on top of that. Heck she couldn't sink if she tried!! She is small enough for the suit, but whoever designed the suit did not consider how much "Marina" there can be packed in a small body, and she is heavy like mercury so she tends to sink just under her mouth line--not a working plan if you keep your mouth open all the time like she does. I LOVE this photo of her by the pool, she is soooo HOLLYWOOD!! She has also established that she is the biggest fan of Curious George and can dance like a maniac when the "song" comes on...life simply rages through this child.

I remember that I fought so hard and was delayed over and over again when I went through the battle of her paperwork. The spiritual warfare was nearly unbearable and I was nearly despondent alot of days. I remember praying for her safety and protection every single night of our delays, for a year and a half. I fought as hard for Marina as I fought for Caylyn and you who know me, know I gave everything I had to doing what we could to keep Caylyn with us. But I know that Caylyn is no more than a breath away from me and I am sure she is in a beautiful place and she is totally healed now...and I know that every one of those prayers to keep Marina safe resulted in her being transferred to a good orphanage that cared for her and gave her the foundation for being the Marina we love so much now. I believe that the Marina THEY acquired was a shell shocked broken little child who did not even speak at 4 and a half and had a fraction of the personality that was discovered lurking within this beautiful child. I can never say thank you enough to those who were part of those answered prayers to build this little powerhouse of joy.

I pray that more children are discovered and prayed for and brought home this year than ever before...and so far Reece's Rainbow is blowing away its collective records up to now. No child deserves to wither away in an ill funded life draining institution, No child. Those that are left there waiting, are on my heart today as I watched Marina bounce happily through the door of Kickin' kids and a group of older girls all went "Awwww, she's so CUUUTE!" and threw their arms around her. How different Marina's life turned out...how utterly different. She is so incredibly loved. I do believe Jesus loves the children so much, and it is our job to be those arms, until He comes back and uses them Himself. This story is one that makes a difference...and I am not writing it, I am only cast in the roll of me by One who is so much Greater and Awesome. I am utterly grateful for the hearts he has rescued from the shards of broken-ness 3 years ago. That would include this whole family, in addition to Marina. The definition of a miracle is when God does something so amazing that we simply cannot do ourselves. Marina being here and being her, fits that definition. We are grateful beyond words...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Who loves the dentis? Who loves the water park??






Seriously, Marina had an absolute blast at the dentist. Whodathunkit? She has 5 cavities but that is not very much damage in my opinion considering the number of times she probably has not brushed her teeth since she got them. Her bottom two teeth are her permanent ones and she is right on target so said the magic dentist. They will fill her teeth with a composit that has NO METALS in it ( I still and always will link Caylyn's mouthful of metal dental work to her leukemia-God can tell me if I am wrong when I see Him). Anyhow we will exercise caution with all the lessons we have learned along the way, our working parenting manual coupled with prayers morning noon and night. That's pretty much all I've got:)

We also found this really cool water park called Rays splash zone that the kids took me to in Charlotte NC for our mother's day blowout weekend. They had a total complete blast and it is a cool place--we got tickets from living social for half price and I am glad we got another set waiting in the wings for more fun sometime in the future. The next day (Mother's day) Evan wanted to go back...HA! 30 dollars in gas is not a donation I want to make twice in a weekend much less twice in 6 months! That was only half a tank...but I digress...anyhow we ended up at big lots and opted for the small splash zone pool. Now if I could convince Marina that bathing suits are not optional (she did wear one at Rays). I am grateful we live in the country. Tully is coming home this weekend and will surprise the kids tomorrow as we pick them up together from school in the afternoon. At 6:45 this morning Marina wanted to call daddy so I let her (He sure was surprised!) She signed and jabbered away about play and school, and then made this huge arch with her arm like COME ON! and said DADDY< HOME NOW! I think he went to hang up and pack a bag!

I took them to Monkey Joes blow up air zone indoor fun place yesterday because they were so good at the dentist, and had some energy to run out...and after playing for about ten minutes Marina found a lady who would let Marina play with the lady's little 7 month old baby which Marina did for nearly an hour. That little girl is destined to work in child care...she was so amazing with that baby! She is gentle and sweet and very in tune to a smile that has been returned to her...she about goes into orbit. The love and joy that expands in Marina almost daily should be a poster ad for adoption I am not kidding. I love when she crawls up in my lap and just lays her head down, or RUNS to greet her brother with huge hugs when we pick him up from school... she is feisty and bossy but she is also the most gentle soul. A fine and beautiful combination!

She and Evan will attend the local karate school day camp this summer, and they love that they will go to summer school together. ME TOO! Kickin' kids has a ton of things planned for the summer, and they will have way more fun than me working out on that hot tarmac at the airport:) By the way, both Marina and Evan will graduate kindergarten this year--and both will be in the first grade next year:) How cool is that? Marina will have to work very hard to keep her status in her appropriate grade but I have seen her determination...it shames mine, and mine is fierce:) Well I have bragged enough for the day, and am feeling all sappy about how much I love my kids, all of them, including the one I can't hug right now. Life turned out a little more amazing than I was expecting three years ago...from black and bottomless to filled with hope and flowers and laughter. There are still hollow moments but I do not let them in to steal anything from us, or from remembering Caylyn. I have to push sometimes to make that happen, but sorrow is not where I want my energy to go when there is so much left to do on this planet. And Caylyn deserves better than sorrow anyway, she is the fortunate one:)Yeah, being a mom rocks the planet in my book. And God keeps his promises. He turned my sorrow to joy. Psalm 126:5

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

All Amercian Girl:)






It has been too long since my last entry but boy, have we been busy! We have gone to Pennsylvania twice by plane, and planted a good sized garden. Marina and Evan have lots of end of year programs, and getting ready to attend Kickin' Kids summer day camp where those folks have got every single activity in the whole of South Carolina on their calendar! These two kiddos are going to have a blast this summer! Easter was so neat, and Marina figured out to hunt for the colored eggs hidden in the grass...candy is a motivator for nearly everyone in my family and she is no exception to that rule! She had an open house day where we could visit during her art class and the teacher was so kind to even let Evan participate in the project. So that is why Evan is in Marina's class photo...he goes to school an hour after she does so we had that time slot open for him to be with me.
Tully and I celebrated our 11th year anniversary this past friday night and we all went to a baseball game in Lancaster PA with Gramma Sue. It was sure cold compared to our beautiful southern spring, so we could not stay for the whole game, but Marina and Evan had hot dogs and popcorn and lemonade and cheered each time anyone hit the ball ( no team affiliation necessary:). This particular ball park had an amazing playground as well, so we finished up the night with a round of that big fun. The next day we met with a few of Tully's old buddies who brought kids to gramma sue's house and the best fun of all began to unravel! The kids who came were so cool, Wyatt is 5 and his sister Cara is 6 (nearly 7). Evan and Wyatt played in the creek and caught toads and hoped to catch minnows in the trap that they checked 68 times, and Cara and Marina wandered around hand in hand, chasing a stray cat and generally just happy in the sunshine. Finished up the day with a camp fire and the sun went down on tired children worn out from the tree swing on the hill. Huck Finn surely never had such a great day!
Marina and Evan are wonderful travelers and I am so grateful for that!

Coming up we have a general medical check up, and a trip to the dentist with both kids...dreading that day! (may 11th). Marina is learning her version of English in leaps and bounds. Ice cream is now at the top of the list, followed by "stop it mommy!" That probably is from putting the ice cream back in the freezer before the half gallon is either melted or empty...
She always gets her point across and is a master signer, whether it is ASL correct or not, it is so applicable to the subject matter that one is never left guessing what her point is. She has stopped calling us mama and dada and now calls us mommy and daddy, which is really sweet. That was something she just did on her own, nothing we asked of her. Our goal this month is for Evan and Marina to work on manners towards each other, they have gotten too much like brother and sister, now we have to back it up a bit and see if we can be more cordial like friends. It is off to a much better start than I was anticipating, which goes to show, make the standards high!

Evan asked me the other day why we picked Marina instead of any other kid and honestly, I hope I give him the best answer there is....because we simply let God pick her for us. She is a perfect fit for this family, and I could never take any credit for that. Life is normal, like I had always dreamed it would be...of course our sort of Normal is all over the page and not within the lines, which is just how we like it. I am looking forward to planning a long weekend heading to the beach sometime soon, either the west coast or maybe Puerto Rico. (I love free airfare.) After that, I will have to buckle down and work like crazy through the summer on all those vacation bids that I am to cover. Lots of coworkers say I will lose weight, that is a real bonus:) But something tells me its' going to be hot out there! My parents already opened their pool this year so that might have to be my stop on the way home from work alot of days...

Happy spring, summer on the horizon. Life is great! Simply amazingly great...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lost in translation...



Oh Ms. Marina is coming along so nicely:) She utilizes what she knows, and continues as if it is the gospel...

Marina what are you doing with the Disney Magic wand toy? Why did you break the star off? Oh, it is now an airport scanner...well, who knew you never saw a magic wand in your life? You sure saw a lot of airport scanners though, huh?

Marina, why are you mashing your tongue down with my fingernail file? Oh, that is not a tongue depressor, it just looks the same...sort of. never had your nails done? Only been to the doctor, I see.

Um, Marina, you don't wear contact lenses...

Yes, Marina, you have a boo boo on your knee...why are you looking at me like that? It is called a band aid. Yes, it is pretty weird. Yes it hurts when you jerk it back off. Never saw a band aid before huh?

Marina, that is not a microphone, it is a water hose. Marina, that is not a microphone, that is a part of the badminton net...ok, yes it is. If you can sing that loud with that in your hand, it must be a microphone. I love your song, no one has one quite like you. Carry on Ms. Broadway.

Now I am on the receiving end of the flash cards. Mama?? Whatzis? multiply that question by 97 times...

She passes ladies at church and throws up her short fingered little hands and says HEY!, followed by "BYE!" all in 3 seconds. So friendly:) Out of 40 people in the airline line, she only hugged one man. Turns out he was the father of two adopted boys from Russia...could she have known this somehow?

Marina saw a picture of me holding Caylyn when Cay was maybe 7 months old and she got so excited! "Mama, look! You, Me!" Oh I wish I had been able to hold you as a baby Marina. But I had to wait til you were nearly 6. But if you can erase all that happened along the way and the time without a mama, and you THINK I held you as a baby, that is almost as good. Only remember the good things from before I came....and let go of the things that make you scream at your dolls and beat them with spatulas...and all the behaviors that make me wonder, what was your life like before I came? And what life is like for those in places that do not look like your good school, but maybe more like a baby house that had no patience? I can tell from your confidence that someone was good to you, and I can tell from your backed in the corner stormy dark eyed scared looks, that you encountered those who were not good to you as well. In time you will learn to trust enough to let your defenses down, and you may rest in my arms at night, knowing that no one will hurt you and that your life will be the best it can be, because we love you and work hard to make sure you know. Thank you for coming to our world and keeping us busy with such quality work...loving you and teaching you about all the things that matter. Love is a verb. We will show you. And I am sure that you will show us too, beautiful girl.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Today marks the big day that changed our world...


You might think that since this blog is about Marina (mostly) that today's post would be about her...and in a way it ends up there. But today is March 8th. And three years ago at 5:16 in the afternoon, Caylyn left. I think if the calendar was out of my sight I would still be able to tell you that today is different. The scar tears open alot on this day, every year so far. Because it still hurts so deeply in my heart for me not to be able to hold that little hand and look into her golden flecked eyes that always danced when she caught me looking at her with I love you in my eyes. In no short order, Caylyn changed the world. Not just my world. But alot of worlds around us...This is my nephew's college application summary on why he wants to go to Wofford to study pre-med. I had no idea how much his world had been changed.

"I didn’t expect to get this call. Not so soon. Caylyn had been sick for a while now, but it didn’t seem like this could be happening. She was
barely old enough to be in the first grade, let alone to be in a hospital bed, fighting with a respirator for every breath she took. I was
fourteen at the time, carefree and innocent, and wasn’t completely sure I was actually witnessing what I was witnessing. I had been at a
sleepover with a few of my friends the previous night, but then I got the call. It was seven o’clock and I wasn’t fully awake until I heard the
words, “Caylyn” and “come now.” I rushed over, pants halfway on, shirt wadded in hand, and I could feel the tension in the car on the way
to the hospital. “Caylyn’s special, you know that,” Mom kept repeating to me and my younger brother. I didn’t really know what was so
different about her. I didn’t think she was that different. Sure, she may have slurred her words, she may not have been able to verbalize
what she was thinking, and she had Down’s syndrome, but I didn’t think that made her different from any of the rest of my cousins. I didn’t
see her as a child with a disability, I saw her as family, as someone I would look after and help in whatever way I could.
The leukemia had obviously begun to win its battle with Caylyn. She began to lose her hair with the chemotherapy, and she gained a lot of
weight and retained a lot of water. I spent every spare moment with her I could—playing the games we used to play, putting on my “happy
face” to make her giggle. I guess I just didn’t understand the severity of the situation, because on that day, on the way to the hospital, Mom
seemed to think it was Caylyn’s last. Standing in a room with about ten of my family members, everyone was praying and begging for
healing for this precious baby girl. Caylyn’s dad, Uncle Tully, seemed not to care that I saw him cry for the first time. This was his
princess, his first born.
We huddled around her bed, wondering which minute would be the minute, and then we watched her go. Peace in her eyes, love in our
hearts, we stood by and allowed the doctor to turn off the respirator. That was the hardest thing I ever had to do—I almost threw myself
onto the machine, taking it upon myself to plug it back in and bring my baby cousin back to life. But there wouldn’t be any more games.
There wouldn’t be any more birthdays, more Christmases, with the child I knew as my friend.
I could barely sit through her “Celebration of Life” service. Yes, I know she’s in a better place, but at the time I couldn’t think of any place
better than right beside me. I can’t wait to see her again—to hold her in my arms, to hear her little voice, to see her as a true princess,
crown and everything, in front of a glorious king. But until that day comes, I’ll wait, educate anyone who asks about her life, and search for
a cure for her cause of death."

My sister in law went back to school and graduated on a different path than her original direction as well. She is in research for similar discoveries of a cure.

My mother in law works as an aid to SN children in school and home, making sure the parents have resources to better the world for their own children.

I have gotten so many emails over the years that we have had the privilege of being Caylyn's front line parents...that Cay made a difference to someone or some decision that someone was facing. I am pretty sure my mom has not gotten that many letters about me (that were positive about my impact on the world). Cay was and is a remarkable child...
she loved like Jesus, never cared about her hair, and skipped across the waters of heaven, leaving death with its mouth open. It may have taken her from me, but it released her into a freedom that she will never be burdened with this life again. You can't beat that for a long term sense of the way life should be. She is so close to the original Eden now I just know it. But I miss her very much. Today is hard. Because she loved like Jesus...and that is why Marina lives here. Because you can't watch someone love like Jesus, and not be affected in a life changing way. But I know in my heart that she is only a breath away, just a thin veil hangs between me and her, and it was made possible because Jesus is real and did exactly what He set out to do...not to condemn us but to bring us life abundant and set us free. Our life on earth is a battle ground, but life in heaven, well that is an entirely different playing field. And I know that I know that I know, it is real. Not out of a sense of desperation, but a sense of knowing that can't be disputed. And that has changed my life both here, and there. I am thankful God thought so highly of us to place her in our care. I Love you always, my first born. Mom

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Spring fever...

I think I have the best kids in the world. You might think you do, but I have to insist that these are the best for me...of course I would add my princess Caylyn to the mix if it were possible because she would make a remarkable sister to these two wild monkeys, but life is the way it is because of her, so it is not possible to have these two paths converge...Evan has been on his "Why did God..." quest this week. Why did God make earth and not just make heaven and skip this part? Seriously. He is 5 going on 80. When did God make God? Why did God make us all different? Why did God make us speak different languages so we have to try so hard to understand some kids? It has been an endless week for these questions, and I do not know what the instigation was? Some sort of epiphany to see if this mama knows anything at all? (so far, not so much.) He has been delightful to talk with. And oh Ms. Marina! Could there be a more loving child? She is full of joy and songs and so much laughter, topped off with tight hugs and wet sticky kisses. I am including a video of her discovering what a garden hose could potentially be designed for...ukrainian idol style:) Evan could not stand the concert so it ends abruptly when he gets hold of her microphone...but he did apologize and give it back. Evan has learned to ride a two wheeler this past week and also has a loose tooth. This is the week that a little boy takes giant steps towards being a young boy. Makes my heart hurt somehow.

The kids were sick with strep last week and Evan graced me with sharing his kindergarten stomach virus, how kind! This week Tully has gone to Pennsylvania to work on renovating an old mill into an apartment building...we are very grateful for this work that he has, and not sure what we would have done had the offer not come along. The kids miss daddy alot and they tell me that in their own ways....Evan mentions it often, and Marina just hollers nonstop for him through dinner:) We utilize the computer camera but have not had great luck getting it just right, so will work on that some more tonight. The flowers are blooming like crazy, the weather is gorgeous, almost 80* yesterday and topped off with a hard spring storm. Our garden seeds are starting to sprout, and all of this reminds me that our promises from God are in fact, true to His heart and being fulfilled in the grand scheme of things. We are so fortunate to be where we are and who we are, and I am grateful for all that we have become by His hand. We of course are never too near to where we should be, but that does not keep me from enjoying various parts of the journey:) It is the part of life that matters so much, this journey we each find ourselves on.

I won't write too much today as I am trying to manage a house cleaning miracle this am but I am crazy about the weather and it does wonders when winter takes its place at your back, then the rear view mirror...

Tomorrow is dr. Suess' birthday and I want to share a sweet letter from Marina's big cousin Mayfield when he was faced with the task of submitting a letter along the lines of "Oh the Places you'll go" for a college scholarship...ya just gotta love stuff like this!

Dearest Marina,
I’m glad to be writing this letter to you. I’ve waited for years and your parents have, too. You’re a smart little girl with two special brown eyes. You can do what you dream, no matter your size. You may have flown from Ukraine to be here with us now, but we never gave up; not never, no how. And in the same way that we brought you back, just know that you’re loved—in love you don’t lack. You may think you’re different from the kids that you know, but hold your head high—let your confidence show. And one day when you’re grown and are ready to fly, we’ll watch you flourish—and I’ll tell you why. You’re kind and so sweet and compassionate too--don’t get discouraged we don’t look like you. And though other kids may not act the same way, we’ll always be with you; in our hearts you’ll stay. So don’t think of yourself as a child with no home; you have a new family, and a house of your own.

Love Always,

Cousin Mayfield





video video

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Marina, the new Ms. Maybelline!








This is just the cutest photo session! Marina was being "quiet" so Tully went in search of her...and she was in the bathroom (probably) being Mini- me. I interject here with the thought that i can draw a straighter line than she can with a lipliner but not by much haha! She had a delightful school valentines party at school friday, just judging by the amount of "stuff" stuck to her leggings and dress! Her sense of humor has blossomed this week and Tully and I were talking last night about how she laughs so much now! She and I usually have several hours to kill each day and we manage to get down right silly so much of the time! But she thinks a ton of things are funny on their own, without me sacrificing dignity to bring her humor! I love that so much about her! What an amazing spirit she has and we are grateful that she is a part of our family. Still creating kitchen masterpieces and that is the best recipe for getting dinner cooked--plop her on the kitchen corner cabinet and let her butter some bread. We have a lot of buttered bread these days for dinner but that simple act allows us to actually have a hot meal most nights. She gets a little over busy when she is hungry and wants to hurry the meal along!
She has been restless at night and wakes up easy and sometimes cries or talks in her sleep. It is time for me to get the courage to haul her (and Evan too) to the dentist soon. I wanted her to like us before we made her mad by introducing that field trip. She got a shot for her MMR update the other day and she did amazingly well. Very brave I might add! Evan came home with a sort of virus yesterday and he evidently was wiped out when he got home, which annoyed Marina that her playmate was down for the count. She did let him sleep for the duration of the day and he is much better today. I am posting a link to a post that was in an english based paper in Ukraine...I want to reiterate that the conditions in this post were not at all what we encountered and just goes to show that as in all countries, ours included, conditions can vary greatly. Please pray for the children of these lesser cared for institutions as they desperately need to be in a family. All children need a family... please see the link as it is posted in my comment section by wordgardener (me). The blogger link never works for some reason...

Happy Valentines Day and may love abound where you are...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A life in the day of the Bachmans... or is it a day in the life?









Holy smokes, It seems like every time I want to update this blog, the day is over and I am snoring away, or Marina has slapped my computer closed and I can't find the cord to update the photos...well today the perfect storm allowed for me to find the ways and means to comply with my goal. The kids are sacked out from dragging around Biltmore House and Gardens for the day, and really, for goodness sakes, Marina was in a stroller all day so what in the world makes her so tired??? Tully and I were the ones hauling her up and down castle stairs...and I wonder aloud, if they had all the amenities they did, what were they thinking, only putting in one elevator? Despite my light grumbling here, we had a great day, and had gone with my parents with whom we really enjoyed the day and a fabulous lunch. Honestly I don't think the kids could have been better. Tully was awed by the place as well...

So much has been going on I hardly know where to start...Marina was invited to her first birthday party of Evan's friend Bodey, and therefore inadvertently had her first Mcdonalds:) When all the other kids had run off to play, Marina was still savoring her cheeseburger at the table! She had a blast to say the least. She has also started going to kids church with Evan and being in his class. He is stingy about letting anyone else help with her papers and such and that makes my heart happy. Even though he is the first to torment her at home with sibling aggravations, he is intent on making sure she has all that she needs when he is the only family member around. She has really taken to following what the other kids do and plays the games and makes up her version of the songs without skipping a beat.

We went to the circus last week, and I learned that even though we got amazing seats, opening night does not come early and the kids were toast by the time half time rolled around so we lied and told them it was over. They were fine with that, and I am sure the man behind us and his date were probably glad that we were leaving since Marina was holding their hands behind us most of the time...I say their hands, since they were holding hands and Marina decided they needed one more for their grip so she reached back and locked hands. They were graceful about it and it was funny, but it was really out of character for her. Wonder what the message was that they took home? I assume she made an impact on them and I know a kid with a message of love when I see one. She had it going on that night...

Our battle these days has been with her wanting/wriggling out of her car seat. We end up sitting by the side of the road in some empty parking lot until she has complied with the rules. I have a nice Britax that was given to us, and that has been our saving grace, but Marina howls when she is restrained, and a car seat seems to meet that dilemma. We are working through that and only time will give us the victory of "belt on" that we seek.

We have made great strides with Signing Times and Marina learns new signs weekly. Evan has now taken to utilizing Marina's most frequent russian words and if we knew what they actually meant it would make me feel better about his use. He speaks like her, she tries to emulate him...no one is speaking English, you see where this is going:) Thank goodness school is giving speech lessons or we would be on an endless treadmill. Now to figure out how to get Evan into real live Russian classes for 5 year olds...

I know that Marina turned 6 on Dec. 29th but that kid had been getting presents since we showed up on the scene of her life...so we waited to officially have a kid party until this past weekend. It was a total blast! We were able to have her party for 8 kids at Hearts of Clay where the kids all got to paint a ceramic figure and then we served spaghetti and meatballs dinner (in my trusty bean pot, a must have ya'll! Just ask me how to get one!) and also decorated our own cupcakes after the ceramics were completed. It was a good party and Marina's cousins were there, along with the beautiful Maya and Maria, and Toni and Darla. Toni is Marina's new best friend at school. Ironically Toni was a little girl that Evan played air hockey with at Greenville memorial hospital when Caylyn was sick a few years ago. Yeah, small world, I know. I remembered her beautiful brown eyes and cleopatra hair cut. She is a doll and loves Marina. How odd that they are now in the same class room holding hands walking down the hall? Somehow I imagine God is not surprised by this sweet bonus.

Hmm....what else? Ah, I started work at Family Connection at the end of January. I will be a liaison to families of small children with DS (0-3 years old) and operate as a support parent for them. I am very pleased to be a part of that journey and look forward to my first new family contact coming tomorrow. Two weekends ago I also got to speak to a lovely seniors class from First Baptist, about our journey. I loved having the opportunity and my only regret was that the person who had asked if I could come and speak, was not there. Peggy, we will have to plot another location to do this, and invite you to that one! But I appreciate the opportunity to have shared the lives of my two girls. I was humbly reminded of how sweet and difficult it all had been up to this point, and how I could never tell that story if there had been no God who loved me enough to have given it to me.

We will hopefully be a part of the new Orphan ministry (adoption ministry) that is being build at church right now. With more christians than orphans, the question therefore remains...why are there orphans? Anyhow I will wait to talk about that ministry until I am sure of all that will transpire. When God's hand moves, I imagine it will be large.

Tomorrow is the first day that Marina will be scheduled at school when it opens so she will be dropped off at 7:45 and then Evan goes to school 45 minutes later. I bet she will be tired but will love it I am sure. Tonight is the superbowl and Tully is quietly watching that...quietly because the OTHER Pennsylvania team is in it and not his beloved Eagles...the kids are probably down for the night and I am off to take a nice hot shower and read a grown up book...and get ready for that early exodus in the morning.
Enjoy the new family photos...she is a honey although a feisty one, and we could not imagine life without her.
PS one more Marina story...the other day we came home from school and she told me she was hungry...not unusual. I told her wait a minute which also was not unusual. But about 5 minutes later, I smell something yummy in the kitchen so I go to check, and i find that she has dragged a chair to the stovetop, turned on the burner, melted butter in the skillet and cracked two eggs in to fry, breaking only one of the yolks...and not too many shells either! Honestly! Special needs my Eyeball! She learned to even only turn the dial on the stove to 4! She watches and learns everything. Scary stuff my friends! No more wait a minutes for her:) And never underestimate the power of a hungry kid to fend for themselves. Yes we spend lots of time in the kitchen but I did not know the kinds of notes she had been taking. The photos of us in the kitchen were of us making cookies, I was too astounded to grab a photo of the eggs..and then she ate em up and they were GONE!