Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Summer is in full swing here. I think next week we have all of the kids home again. I think they have all been home together only one week since school got out. And really that is just fine with them. Each of our kids, when they have been the only one here, have told us that they like it when they are home alone with us.

So far, Mark has been busy with 3 weeks of boy scout camp, a week of driver's ed, and a week of basketball camp. He leaves on Friday again for a church youth event in Missouri.

Sergey has been to a week of boy scout camp and a week of church camp.

Valya has been to two weeks of church camp and gets back on Saturday.

Sergey saved up his money to buy a new bicycle. We already had one for him, kind of a mountain bike, but he wanted this trick bike.

Valya saved her money to buy a new digital camera. She bought it while she was in Rapid City to attend a Quinceañera ceremony for Nancy's boss's granddaughter. It is pink, her favorite color, and she is "wearing" it in this picture.

Valya enjoyed the celebration and now she thinks that she should have a big bash like this one. She will also be 15 in August. She reminds us that if she were still in Ukraine she might be married when she is 15 or 16. She loved Sabine's gown and tiara.

We have new friends in Rapid City. Olya is also from Ukraine. She married a fellow that used to go over there on mission trips, and Olya was their translator. They fell in love, got married, and settled in Rapid. Olya is from Mykolaiv, a major city just to the east of Odessa. Olya commented on our blog while we were over there because she was very familiar with the area we were in. Valya often calls her to chat in Ukrainian. Olya has a new baby, #3, for them.

Here is a picture of Nancy and Valya at the party. Valya, like a typical Ukrainian female, is very fashionable. She likes to dress up, more so than the other girls around here. Her summer school reading teacher, and Olya, commented how pretty her clothes are. She will take odds and ends and make ensembles out of them. Here, she just took a scarf she had and wrapped it around her dress. And yes, she loves high heels. Not long ago, she convinced Nancy to buy some high heels, too.

Now that Valya's English is improving, she and Nancy have begun to have girl talks at bedtime. Valya wants to know things like first boyfriends, first kisses and other "secrets". Recently, I have been going through the birds and bees talks with Sergey. I know from the orphanage that he has heard it all, and maybe even seen it. But I'm discussing it with books from a Christian perspective.

Over the fourth of July, we went to a family reunion on Nancy's dad's side. Our Ukies "got" to meet lots of new relatives that weekend. In this group picture, these are mostly cousins, and there were some that weren't even there!

In the olden days, they liked to see the corn, "Knee high by the Fourth of July". Modern corn does much better than that these days. Here are some cousins in the corn.

Another relative that Valya met recently is Nancy's uncle Glenn. He is in a nursing home, and Nancy says that Valya was very tender with him.

Valya has learned to swim this summer and now enjoys the pool. I went down there with her once when the boys were gone and took a few pictures. She is a rascal; just as I would snap the shutter she'd make some face. I took about 10 pictures before I got a good one.

Sergey has been having fun talking with his former orphanage friends from #4 who are now with families here in America. He has talked with Grisha Fumia a couple of times recently. He has been in America for a couple of weeks now and lives in Mississippi. I got to know Grisha fairly well. I made sure I gave him a hug everytime I saw him, "for Ashley". Here is a picture of the two of them taken on Dec. 6, 2008, on one of our first days at the orphanage to adopt him. Somehow, I'd like these two to be able to see each other again.

I've been kidding with the Ukies about adopting 10 kids. In fact, I had even joked about that with Sergey while we were over in Odessa. Valya would be all for it; she really wants a sister. Sergey isn't so enthused. If we had the money, I'd want to do it tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Checking In

Just a quick post here to let you know that we're doing fine.

During June, Sergey and Valya were in summer school, which covered math. Next week, they start the July session where they will be studying reading and writing. We have had a private tutor for Valya, as well, for spelling and reading, and that has really been helping her.

Mark and Sergey have open gym for basketball, and Valya has open gym for volleyball. They are all looking forward to sports in school this coming year. Sergey also is on a rec league baseball team now.

Mark and Sergey were at boy scout camp all of last week. I did not go as I don't have much vacation time built up. I used it all up and then some during our adoption trips last winter. Nancy, Valya, and I did go camping down there last Friday night, though. Valya complained about sleeping in a tent, but I think she kind of enjoyed it. I marked it down as another first for her, in addition to the umpteen other things she does for the first time. For example, last month she let me teach her how to ride a bike, and now she loves it. Sergey, Valya and I went on a 12 mile ride a couple of weeks ago. We also got her into swimming lessons, and now she loves the city pool and goes as often as she can. Mark will be gone a total of 3 weeks at boy scout camp, as he is also gone two weeks as a councilor-in-training.

All three of the kids will be going to week-long Bible camp later this summer.

For the most part, we are keeping the kids busy with activities.

When we went to Rapid City a few weeks ago, I forgot my coat at McDonald's and I didn't realize it until the next day. When we went back to look for it, it was gone. The coat had our camera in it. I had some great pictures of the kids at Custer State Park and I lost them... very disappointing. Last week I finally got a new camera, so maybe I can post some pic's on the blog again.

Here's one from tonight at bedtime as we gathered for prayers.

We often pray for their friends back in Ukraine that they will get families. Valya says that sometimes the girls cry at night. When someone cries, her friends will crawl into bed with her. Sometimes there will be 4 in a bed... We also prayed for the Whaley's tonight. They took their son Sasha along with them to Ukraine on their adoption trip and he has run away. It is very sad. They are adopting two boys from Orphanage #4 in Odessa, whom Sergey knows.

Of Sergey's classmates that I spent time with last winter, I know of 4 that are now adopted - Karina Nasekos, Dasha Strainick, Grisha Fumia, and Lena Hoffman. How exciting to see them with families. 5 out of their 14 have left this year. It must be tough on the others.