Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Heavy heart

It appears that it will be awhile before we go to Ukraine. The new SDA has changed the way dossiers may be submitted. Previously, they were to be mailed in. However, they have now designated that dossiers must be deposited by making an appointment with the SDA and that facilitators may only deposit two dossiers at the appointment. All documents in the dossier must be valid for 6 months beyond the date of submission. So here's what that means:

Our facilitator cannot just submit our dossier in its current state because some things will be too close to expiring (for example, our 171H--approval to adopt internationally from the US--expires at the end of January). However, we can't update our documents until we know when his appointment is with the SDA in case we update too early, making our documents too close to expiring again.

This isn't a terrible-horrible-no good-very bad thing, but it is hard because we want children so much. The nice thing is that we weren't anticipating traveling before May or June anyway, since Mark will be done with school then. We will continue to wait on God and know that His plan is the best.

Please pray for our facilitators as they try to work through these new regulations, for the employees at the SDA as they also try to get everything worked out with the new system, and for the many children in Ukraine who are waiting for families.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

My time of day

This is ever so appropriate for me, as I am definitely a night owl... :)

You Are Sunset

Even though you still may be young, you already feel like you've accomplished a lot in life. And you feel free to pave your own path now, and you're not even sure where it will take you. Maybe you'll pursue higher education in a subject you enjoy - or travel the world for a few years. Either way, you approach life with a relaxed, open attitude. And that will take you far!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


God is definitely preparing us to return to Ukraine, which is a bit ironic seeing how long it's taking us to get there. :) In Ukraine, it is considered very inappropriate to set your Bible on the floor. Last night we were at Bible study, and Mark had set his Bible on the floor of the living room next to where he was sitting. I was holding mine in my lap, because every time I set it on the floor I remember Ukraine, and lately those remembrances are coming back more and more strongly. ;) Mark set his down, then turned to me and said "It feels weird setting my Bible on the floor--it reminds me of Ukraine." And he finally had to lean over and pick it up because it was bothering him. :) :) We both miss Ukraine so much and are so anxious to go back. Every day it seems there are more things that bring Ukraine to mind, even smells and sounds.

We have a fingerprinting appt this Friday for our FBI prints (part of the I600A application for our 171H approval). Not much else is happening adoption-wise, although we both need to redo our medical forms. That is definitely the most painful part of the adoption process, and it has nothing to do with shots. Ukraine requires the med form to be filled out very specifically, and it can be very difficult to convince people to do it one specific way, especially when to them it appears to be essentially the same thing between the way they do it and the way we want it done. So prayers for time to do the appts and that they would go smoothly would be great. :)

In other news, we are considering buying a house. It is right up the street from us and needs some work. We would like to buy it and live in our current rental house while we fix it up. We've pretty much decided that we're going to make an offer on it (way lower than what they're asking) but we still need to get financing. That's not a problem, we just haven't looked into it yet. We're not exactly jumping into this house--more easing ourselves in. :) There's currently a tenant in the house, and we don't want to kick anyone out before Christmas. We've been talking about what to do with this family--they have children with medical needs and I'm sure they don't have a lot of income. But the house needs more work than can be done with people living in it. If we buy the house, we can do some of the work with them there, but we are hoping that after the holidays that we would be able to help them find some housing and help them move. So there have been a lot of factors to consider with this house, including the tenants, rehabbing costs, etc. Consequently we've been taking our time making a decision. ;) I think if we are able to get good financing and they accept our really low offer we'll know it's a good decision. We're letting God take care of all of the details with this. :)

Friday, November 17, 2006

How easily it goes...

We have officially reapplied for our I171H (US approval to bring a foreign orphan here) and gave them all of our documents plus a hefty chunk of change. Actually, if it had all been change, there's no way we could have picked it's that hefty. :) Filing the I600A (the form you file to get the 171H) is the second most expensive part of our adoption, not including travel. Having to do it twice is not so much fun, but you do what you have to do. :) The funny part was this conversation:

Me: "Do you know about how long it's taking to process these?"
BCIS guy: "Well, we put a priority on these, so I'd say about 10 weeks."

I had the hardest time not laughing. That's a priority?? Two and a half months?!?! I'd hate to see what happens if they're running slow. :)

But the good thing is that we were able to submit, which we thought might be a problem since our old one hasn't expired yet. If it really takes 10 weeks we can expect our new approval the week our old one expires. How's that for timing??

Friday, November 10, 2006

New carry-on rules for Europe

Not pertinent to most of you, but I know a few who'll be interested. :)

New carry-on rules for Europe

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Fun times

We had a great time this weekend with J and J from Kansas City! It's great to have friends who can drop by and hang out, even if it's not for very long. I hope we convinced them that despite St Louis' recent media coverage (that would refer to the most dangerous city coverage, not the World Series coverage) that this is truly a great city. We had a fun dinner Friday night and then went to the Arch, Blueberry Hill, and the Science Center on Saturday. There's a lot more we want to show them (especially the City Museum!) so we're hoping they can come back soon. Hopefully we didn't wear them out on their weekend getaway to relax. :)

Mark has started singing with the choir at church, but tonight instead of going to rehearsal I'm stealing him away to go to a Blues game! Periodically at work they offer up tickets to local events. Yesterday they offered up St Louis Blues (hockey) tickets for tonight and I was one of the winners of the drawing, so we'll be in one of the club suites tonight. It's nice to get spoiled every once in a while, especially since we could never actually afford these seats. :)

Election day...well, it's probably not in my best interests to discuss it on the blog, but I will say a special CONGRATULATIONS to my dad who won his election! He has held his position since 1973 (before I was born!), and if I calculated correctly this is his 10th election (I may be off by one). Congratulations, Dad! :)

Friday, November 03, 2006

What kind of pie are you?

I had to post this after taking the quiz through Katie's blog. This description of me made me laugh, and I'm sure Mark will totally agree with it!

You Are Cherry Pie

You're the perfect combo of innocent and sexy
Those who like you enjoy a contradiction

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Changes to the blog

As some of you may have noticed, the blog looks a little different. I transferred it over to the new (beta) Blogger. Had a few moments of panic when I did so, since I couldn't remember exactly how everything looked. It's still not quite right, but I'm getting there. For those of you that may switch, may I suggest printing out a page from your blog so you'll know what it looked like when you're trying to set everything back up?

I can now have links to other blogs (I could before, but not in a way I liked) so I may be requesting permission from some of you to post the link to your blog. I know some people prefer to keep their blogs for family and friends only, and I don't want to invade anyone's privacy. If I already know your blog gets linked to, I probably won't ask, so if your link is up there and you want it off, just let me know. :)

I'm so excited that we have company coming this weekend! J (aka Jimmy Fast) and his wife are coming over this weekend from Kansas City. They'll only be here for a short time, but we've already got dinner plans for Friday night and I'm thinking a trip to the Science Center might be fun. On the other hand, there's always the City Museum which is not at all what you are picturing. Check out the website if you don't believe me. :) One of the great things about St Louis is that there is always something to do, and so much of it is free! (That's the part I really like.) I'm going to have to make a separate post of free things to do in St Louis.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Another week

And yet another week has passed. :) I'm trying to be more diligent about posting here, and quite often I think of things I want to post, but somehow I never make time to get them on here. So an update from the Midwest:

The St Louis Cardinals won the World Series on Friday night. We live down in the city, and it actually wasn't crazy at all (that seems to be the recurring question). Saturday was crazy for us but it had nothing to do with baseball. We had an early morning vet run due to a really bad flea season here. Our poor dogs have been itching for over a month and we just thought it was an allergy to something in the yard--they couldn't possibly have fleas since they're on flea medicine. Turns out that's not so true.
Then Mark headed for some demolition at a local community center that's being rehabbed and I went to a double baby shower for some friends from church. Mark picked me up from the shower and we got some supplies to finish the games he was making for our Harvest Party at church.
In the evening we went to a Halloween party which was a blast. Lots of little kids speaking other languages. :) The party was put on by WUSPA, an organization for spouses and partners of Wash U people, and it's a lot of international faculty and students (i.e., we're pretty sure we were the only US-born adults there, and we were definitely the only ones who only speak one language fluently). This was the first event we've been able to go to and I'm already looking forward to the Thanksgiving party in a few weeks.
Sunday afternoon we went to a local pumpkin patch and picked some pumpkins to carve. Consequently, Monday night we had a carving party at our friend Julia's, who fixed some delicious curry followed by spice cake. Yum!

Last night was a lot of fun. We always stay in our neighborhood to pass out candy to all of "our" kids, and there are a lot of them! Their costumes were so cute and it was so much fun to get to see all of them. During the summer the kids are always out playing in the street, but with it getting colder and dark so early we don't see as much of them. They give us so much delight and we love to love them. Many of them run up to us to give us hugs when we get home from work. They don't know how much of a blessing they are to us. :)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

How cold is too cold?

Every year, I fight turning on the heat. It has nothing to do with money; more a desire to fight the realization that winter is upon us. Consequently, I usually set a timeline--a specific date when I will turn the heat on (Mark just humors me through all of this). This year I decided not to turn the heat on until November. Now, this is a big problem if you live in Michigan, and probably not a problem at all if you live in Florida. Most years, I would say it wouldn't be a problem in Missouri either. However, this year we have had an unseasonably cold October; i.e., we've had several nights at freezing already this month. We've had a few warm days when I've been able to open up the house but mostly it's been a bit chilly. Not yet having kids, the cold is not such an issue for us, and we troop around the house in sweatshirts and use the electric blanket at night. No big deal. However, even I have my limits. The house has been below 60F for a couple of weeks now, and we've been managing pretty well. But on Monday night when we went to bed the temp was at 56F. I finally caved and told Mark I'd turn the heat on when it got to 55F--I was starting to worry pipes would freeze, although our cold-weather dogs were absolutely loving it! We got up Tuesday morning to a thermostat reading of 53F. We turned the heat on. :)

In other news, the St Louis Cardinals have continued to exceed all expectations (except those of their fans) and are leading the World Series 2 games to 1. We're supposed to have Game 4 tonight, but it's currently raining and supposed to worsen as the night progresses. Normally they could just postpone the game a day, but it's supposed to rain pretty steadily (and hard) all day tomorrow. We'll have some friends over tonight to watch the game and share some food. I'm sure they'll appreciate the fact that we've turned the heat on since the last time they came over was pre-heat. ;)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Weekend highlights

This weekend our church sponsored a marriage conference for the community. Leslie Vernick gave three seminars on building better relationships, both within a marriage and in relationships in general. All three sessions were wonderful and I would highly recommend her to anyone seeking to develop better relationships!

Saturday afternoon was the end-of-year picnic for Mark's vintage base ball team. We had a lot of fun spending time with the friends we've made from the team (as well as their families) and eating a lot of desserts.

The most exciting announcement by far is that three cyber-friends have appointments in Ukraine in the next few weeks! All three of these families have been registered with the adoption center since before everything shut down. They are finally getting to travel to find their children. I am so excited for them and looking forward to following their journeys!

If I sound a little blah, I am. I've been spending way too much time up late watching baseball. I really like watching baseball, but I don't usually bother. The games are so long and I hate to give up that much time when I could be doing something else. However, with the St Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship games and now in the World Series we've been inviting friends over to watch the games. It's not as bad as if we were on the east coast, but it does take its toll after a week of staying up too late. I guess I'm starting to show my age. ;)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

99K and counting

For those of you who don't know, we drive a VW TDI Jetta wagon. TDI's are diesel engines and they get much better fuel efficiency than gas engines--we average 47 mpg city/highway and 50+ mpg on straight highway driving. Our 2003 Jetta had 98K miles on it, and it was time for a timing belt change (every 100K miles). Most dealerships are not very familiar with the diesel engines and there are some significant differences, so we prefer to have people work on our car who know and love diesels. To that end, last weekend we drove to Poplar Bluff, MO, for a TDI get-together (GTG). An amazing TDI mechanic changed our TB for about a lot less time and money than it would have been at the dealership, and we are confident that it was done by someone who actually knows what he's doing. He did have a small (very small...really miniscule...but I did help!) amount of help from me (Courtney), and those would be my legs you see sticking out from underneath our car. The white tennis shoes in the background are Mark's. :) He's more of a woodworking guy--built the bunk beds for our kids, etc.--while I love cars. Unfortunately, I don't have the time to actually learn enough to be useful, so what you see in that picture is me replacing the underside of our car after the TB change was done.

We've often received comments from people about the odd things we do. Yes, we do odd things. Always have, probably always will. But we do them together, and that's all that matters to me. :)

Friday, October 06, 2006

Contemplations of the cosmos

This is the picture that is currently on my computer desktop (the background) at work. You can find this picture and others like it at the Astronomy Picture of the Day hosted by NASA. The other day, I was stressing over some adoption paperwork. I had just finished sending some emails and had closed my web browser. The picture on my computer caught my eye. It looks so small and beautful, yet the galaxy pictured here is huge. I am a tiny insignificant speck compared to this galaxy. And God reminded me that there are things bigger than paperwork and worrying over small details. He will take care of getting our children to us. I need to sit back, relax, and do what He asks of me.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The logic of an almost 3-year-old

This post is really for Tonya, a friend of mine in GA who shares stories of her 4 boys on her blog. Through her I was introduced to "the rock game". The rock game is like the silent game, only you can't move or talk (because you're being a rock). Apparently Tonya's boys are big fans of this game, to see who can be a rock the longest. Inevitably, her youngest loses. :)

Last Friday night we babysat for a friend of ours who has a daughter, Kassidy. Kassidy will be three at the end of this month, and she is so much fun. (By the way, anyone in the St Louis area who wants babysitters, we're available. You won't find anyone with a more thorough background check...local, state, federal, plus visits to our home, full medical evaluations, reference letters. If you want well-screened babysitters, find someone who's adopting. *smirk*) So I was making dinner and I asked Mark to entertain Kassidy since I was working over the stove and didn't have anything at the moment she could help with. Mark decided to teach her the rock game. Kassidy lasted all of about 2 seconds before she moved. Mark tried to explain to her that she was supposed to be a rock, and asked "Do rocks move?" Her response? "Yes, when you sit on them." She has a point. If you sit on an unsteady rock or pile of rocks, they do move. Score one for the 3-year-old. :)

Mark has come down with the cold I had last week so he went to bed early last night. This gave me the opportunity I've been looking for (but absolutely dreading) to go through all of our adoption paperwork. At the beginning I was very good about filing everything and I kept a spreadsheet (it's actually an Excel workbook with multiple pages for expenses, timelines, etc.) so I would know when all of our documents expire, when the notaries expire, when the apostilles expire... ahem. Anyway, when Ukraine shut down I stopped keeping up with it, for hopefully obvious reasons, the main one being that everything would expire before we could get there. And it has. So last night I went through our paperwork binder and our dossier binder and transferred all of the paperwork into one much larger binder, in reverse necessity order (that would be the order in which we will need the documents, with all of the expired ones at the back). I can't throw anything out since many of our documents are good for a couple of years in the US, just not in Ukraine. I started a new sheet in the Excel workbook titled "dossier timeline #2". Let's hope we don't need any more sheets.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Post-cruise post

We made it back! (although I really didn't want to)

Brief synopsis: We left on Tuesday and flew from St Louis to Seattle. The parents of a good friend of ours live there, so we stayed with them Tuesday night and had the biggest king crab I have ever seen. It was absolutely wonderful. Wednesday we took the train from Seattle to Vancouver (side note would have cost us an extra $250 per person to fly into Vancouver. The train was $52 per person, roundtrip, plus we got to see some great scenery...thus the train ride). We boarded the cruise ship in the early afternoon and had lunch on the ship. We departed at 5 pm and headed from Tracy Arm, a small fjord. We were in Tracy Arm all day Thursday, then docked in Juneau around 1 pm on Friday. In Juneau, we hiked to Mendenhall Glacier (about 6.5 mi roundtrip) and got to touch the glacier. Pretty cool (literally)--I'll try to post pics when I get the chance. Saturday we were in Skagway where we went kayaking. Lots of fun since we were in a sea kayak with a rudder, so it was really easy to steer. We were kayaking in a lake where the salmon spawn, so we saw a lot of salmon and many bald eagles. Then on the drive back, we saw two bears fishing in the river. That's the closest I've ever been to an uncontained bear, and it was incredible. One of them walked right behind our van (we were pulled over to take pictures) with his freshly-caught salmon trying vainly to get out of his mouth. Sunday we cruised Glacier Bay and got some fantastic pictures of the glaciers, and of us shivering out on the deck. The weather was warm with temps in the 50's, but the wind coming off of the glaciers is pretty cold. Monday we were in Ketchikan and we went snorkeling. Yes, snorkeling. In a full wetsuit, of course. The water temp was 57F, so it was actually warmer than the air. We got to handle a sea urchin, an anemone, a sea cucumber, a sunflower star (like a starfish but with 20-24 legs) and a starfish (purple!). Tuesday was a day "at sea" and then Wednesday we arrived back in Vancouver. We did see seals, sea otters, porpoises, orcas, and humpback whales while cruising around. We actually saw several pods of orcas. They were beautiful.

We then stayed two nights in Vancouver at the Light Heart Inn Bed and Breakfast. I would highly recommend it. They're in a great location very close to the SkyTrain (Vancouver's light rail system). The breakfasts were delicious and our host, Greg, was always available to suggest things to do or help us find our way around town. We used our time in Vancouver to try out a tandem bike around Stanley Park. We biked all the way around the park and then returned to walk through even more of it. The weather was great and it was wonderful to be outside. Friday we took the train (actually a bus, but through Amtrak) back to Seattle and ate dinner with R. and J. at the Crab Pot. Yummm...more seafood. Then back to St Louis on Saturday.

Of course, we jumped right back into the real world with a birthday party Sunday night (happy birthday, Maggie!) and we have a soccer referee recertification test tonight. *sigh* But it was great while it lasted. Of course the food on the cruise was fantastic, etc., etc. We would highly recommend Holland America to anyone looking to cruise, especially after talking to several other people who've been on different cruise lines. They all agreed that out of the major lines they had been on, the service and food were best on the HAL cruises.

Still no news (although occasional rumors) from Ukraine...

Monday, September 11, 2006

A whirlwind of travels

I made it back from Michigan only to turn around the next weekend and drive to Ohio. We spent Labor Day weekend in Ohio at the Ohio Cup, a vintage base ball festival. We had a great time and the weather was wonderful!

This weekend Mark had another base ball festival but this time at home. The Jeremiah Fruin festival was a great success although the Perfectos did not do as well as hoped. After the tournament we had dinner with a friend from TCU and his wife. We hadn't seen them since their wedding in Iowa a few years ago and were pleasantly surprised when we found out their first assignment after seminary is in Columbia, IL, about 25 minutes from us. We had a great dinner (with amazing desserts!! Oreo bonbons...yum) and then played Skip-bo until way too late. The teams of girls v. guys each won one game. Sunday was church, a very sad and pathetic St Louis Rams v. Denver Broncos game (we were cheering on the Broncos), and then dinner with some more friends in IL! Another great dinner and more great dessert (hot fudge cake...delicious!) it any wonder I've gained 5 pounds?!? Not the ideal way to start a cruise. And yes, we leave tomorrow for an Alaskan cruise.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Fun lunch!

Well I can't work all the time, contrary to what Mark thinks, so I took the opportunity today to have lunch with Julie and Katie, good friends of ours in MI. We went to Flats Grill and it was so yummy. They do sandwiches quesadilla-style. All 3 of us are super busy so it was amazing we were able to find a time that worked for all of us, but we did! It was a quick lunch but so nice to sit and talk, and catch up on all of the news about our families as well as other friends we haven't seen in awhile.

I went to the Grad School today to have my thesis evaluated. I think getting all of the formatting right is a bigger headache than the writing itself. They have to make sure all of the fonts are big enough for microfilming, and that can be difficult with chemical formulas. But it's been done by others and it will be done by me. Eventually. ;) At least I don't have to pay for tuition anymore!!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

It is finished. (almost) :)

Wednesday morning at 9am I defended my Ph.D. thesis. Finally. :) It's been a long time coming. Oh, I should mention that I passed. Always a good thing. Hopefully now sleep will become part of my regular routine again, although I'm not back home yet. I have a few corrections to finish up from my committee but nothing major, and I will be so happy when it is all done.

I want to thank the many of you who have been praying for me, some of whom didn't even know what you were praying for. God has sustained me in absolutely unbelievable ways during the past few weeks. He has kept me safe and healthy through a few weeks of very little sleep and a really bad diet (the truffles were delicious!). He gave me the wisdom and grace that I asked for, to be able to answer questions and converse as a true daughter of His--with a calm heart knowing that I had nothing to fear regardless of the outcome of my defense. God continues to hold me in His hands. I feel His presence daily and I am so grateful for it. So again, thank you and please know that God definitely heard every one of your prayers and it was very evident in my life.

Back to corrections! :)

Thursday, August 17, 2006


...and that's exactly what it's going to be. I haven't had much sleep for the past week or so--I think God is preparing me to be a parent. If I get to eat as much chocolate as I have been, I'll be all set. As I mentioned in the last post, I've been a little stressed, and my response to that is to snack. Luckily for me, one of Mark's patients gave him Godiva chocolates, a friend brought back truffles from Denver, and I bought Mark peanut butter cups the other day (just to be nice :) ). I actually didn't want any chocolate last night! (after I'd already had a truffle *smirk*)

Last weekend was crazy as usual for us, but made so much more fun by the presence of our good friend Rob. I'd post a link to his blog but I'm not allowed to do that. ;) Anyway, we had a good weekend and I hope Rob did too, as he sort of got sucked into our chaos. He should remember that being the order of the day from college (Ole South at 2am? Hot chocolate? I am so there. And no, I don't know who took the Christmas tree from in front of the admin building.).

I am not planning to post again until sometime after mid-week next week (so don't worry about checking until at least next Wednesday), but hopefully I'll have gotten some sleep and be a little more coherent by then!

Friday, August 04, 2006


I am so excited it's Friday, in part because I'm really tired. I've got some big stuff coming up in the next few weeks and I'm more than a little stressed. The nice thing is that God is totally taking care of me, both physically and mentally, and hopefully I won't drive Mark crazy over the next few weeks.

I am, however, really looking forward to tomorrow. My sister will be in town and we are going to have lunch with her and her boyfriend! I don't get to see her very often and it will be great to catch up. Then tomorrow night Mark has a vintage base ball game followed by a Cajun potluck. That should be interesting. ;)

We are now the proud owners of a table saw. That puts us at table saw, circular saw, jigsaw, router, compound miter saw, and assorted drills, etc. The next power tool purchase (I think) will be a drill press. We've had a request to make another bed. That's always a good excuse to purchase power tools.

And...I already know what I'm getting Mark for his birthday! Yes, it's in December. Yay for me for being 4 months early. I can't give any details on here 'cause he'd find out, and I want it to be a surprise. So you will have to wait just like Mark. I'll be sure to post and let you know if he likes it.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Life is a rainbow

Our power is back on (as of Saturday evening) but I kind of liked having it out. :) I think I'd be good with no power except for the washing machine. I've never done laundry by hand although I'm sure I could learn if it were necessary.

Some of us in the neighborhood spent a few hours on Saturday clearing trees out of our alleys. The power companies wouldn't restore power until the trees were taken care of, and the tree companies wouldn't remove the trees until the downed lines were taken care of. *sigh* So we took matters into our own hands. I now know how to disassemble and reassemble a chain saw. :) Never know when that might come in handy. And a special thanks to the gents from Empire Electric in southern Missouri who were up helping to restore power. After a lot of work on their part, power was restored to most of our neighborhood. You should have heard the cheering in the streets. :)

Today on the way to work it was thinking about raining, and we saw a beautiful rainbow. I love rainbows. I know how they work, and I think it's amazing that God would be interested in making light split into different wavelengths (colors) to make this beautiful arc across the sky. For no other reason than to allow us to see it. How cool is that? As you can see from the bottom picture, it was even a double rainbow!

Friday, July 21, 2006

And everything went dark

It's been quite the crazy week for us. I came down with a lovely upper respiratory something last Thursday/Friday. I was really feeling it come Saturday and I sounded it too. :) On Saturday our car started making some interesting noises (not unlike the ones coming from my throat) and Saturday night the alternator light came on. Not good in car land. Sunday Mark was supposed to be heading to IL for a vintage base ball game, but we didn't think the car would make it (wise choice in hindsight). Monday I stayed home from work sick but still had to take the car in to our mechanic half an hour away who said he couldn't fix it and that it looked like the alternator had seized and that the car would only probably drive for an hour or so on just the battery...after Mark had driven it for 10-15 minutes the night before, I'd had the 30 minute drive, and I now have to find a dealership. *grimace* So he tells me the nearest dealer (about 20 minutes away) and I start driving. I made it there without incident. The repairs were anticipated to be covered under our extended warranty, so I went ahead and got a rental car (available at the dealership--that was an unexpected convenience...but I was in West County. Sorry, that joke will only make sense to anyone near St Louis.) even though they weren't going to be able to look at the car until Tuesday. Their schedule cleared and they did get the car in on Monday, and were supposed to overnight the parts and have the car done Tuesday afternoon.

Have you figured out that this was a long week? We're not even to Tuesday yet. ;)

Tuesday I go to work (my apologies to my co-workers--I sounded, according to them, like Tone Loc) and that afternoon I get a call from the dealership--they forgot to order one of the parts. They're overnighting it and the car will be done Wednesday afternoon. Wednesday...still no call by 5pm, so I call. They overnighted the wrong part. *smirk* Stay with me here, we're only on Wednesday.

For those of you unconnected to the internet or possibly in areas of the world with bigger concerns (there are certainly many right now), a rather large storm came through St Louis on Wednesday night shortly after we got home. We lost all power, as did all of our neighbors within a several block radius. Many people say it's scary to live in St Louis city...after the storm, everyone was outside checking on each other. We had neighbors going up and down the street checking on people, passing out candles and matches, helping move tree branches. It is such a wonderful community, and lest you think we happen to live in one of the "nicer" areas in the city, the average household income in our neighborhood is well under $30K. ...Okay, I'm off of my soapbox.

Thursday I stayed home from work sick and finally got a chance to actually rest, although it was a bit warm with no electricity. After Mark got done with work, we went and picked up the car (hooray!). Last night was pretty warm in the house and it was 89F when we went to bed. That was with all of the windows open. Thankfully, another storm blew through today and cooled everything off--it's supposed to be in the 60's tonight. We're not anticipating having power until possibly early next week. It shouldn't be a problem; keep in mind people have been living like this for centuries, and there are people all over the world and even parts of the US that live without electricity. We've already redistributed our perishables and we have enough candles to light half the neighborhood (according to Mark). Plus, we'll have a lower electric bill this month!

I'll do my best to keep all of you posted, but sometimes life gets in the way of blogging. :) Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, July 10, 2006

A little behind... updating, that is. Ukraine has officially reopened for adoptions! This is wonderful news. For the months of July and August, they are asking prospective adoptive parents who are already registered with the NAC/SDA to send a letter stating their interest to adopt. They are trying to determine how many registered families they really have waiting, as opposed to those who have switched to other countries or pursued other options during the wait. There are currently 1200 dossiers registered with the NAC/SDA for international adoption. During September, October, November, and December, they will schedule appointments for previously registered families in the order of their registration number.

And what does this mean for us? *wry smile* We are not yet registered, as our dossier made it just a bit too late to Ukraine to be submitted last fall. In January, the SDA will start accepting new dossiers from prospective adoptive parents. Pros and cons... pro: Mark graduates next May. We anticipate that we will be able to travel after his graduation and before he starts a job, so he won't require any vacation time, and he won't have to miss any school! con: All of our documents expire by December this year, including our INS approval. This is the most expensive part of our paperwork (second to the HS, which only has to be updated and is therefore cheaper to redo). pro: We're taking a vacation in September which will be wonderful...con: We don't need the trip cancellation insurance we purchased "just in case". *grin*

Monday, June 19, 2006


I have determined that I am a patient person. I do not have a problem with waiting--in fact, I'm very good at waiting. Which is a good thing, since we've been waiting a long time for kids. I don't mind the waiting. I don't question why our kids aren't here yet. But my heart aches for what it doesn't have.

I am very blessed to have a wonderful husband who is my absolute best friend, and was long before he was my husband. It is hard to pass another Father's Day and not be able to share it with him. For some reason, Father's Day was harder on me this year than Mother's Day. I really want to be able to give him the gift of children, but it is not mine to give. God alone determines our gifts. I do know that when you have waited a long time for something, and it is truly a desire of your heart, you cherish that gift more than any other. I hope we don't cherish our kids to the point of spoiling them. ;) We'll leave that to the grandparents.

There is a new rumor for the SDA opening. I love to share the rumors (share, not spread--there's a difference). I am a roller-coaster person, as those of you who know me can attest. I love the ups and downs and I really like loops and going upside-down. I think that's why I like the rumors. They give me an up, and then a down when they don't become fact. It sounds silly, but when you've gone down you can only go up again! I was in a down at my last posting (thanks, Angela, for the comment!) and I am very appreciative of all the prayers that I know are happening for us and for our children. The latest rumor is that the NAC/SDA will open July 1 or July 7. Why the rumors always seem to put them opening on a weekend or a Friday I don't know. I don't really believe that they'll open the first week of July. But it's fun to think that maybe they'll be open before too much longer.

In the meantime, I think I'm going to rearrange the kids' bedroom. Mark will roll his eyes and smile, because I love to rearrange furniture and I get pretty antsy after a few months of everything in the same place. I've been trying to decide how to rearrange our living room, but I can't seem to come up with anything that will really work. However, I have an idea for the kids' bedroom and the office downstairs so I'm excited to do some furniture moving. I think I've got the office all figured out, but I need to do some measuring in the kids' room.

I'm also (since I never have enough to a certain paper that HAS to be done soon) starting as a volunteer for a local children's rehabilitation institute. I've worked with special needs kids before and I'm really excited to help out here. I'm hoping I can help ease the burden for parents who can't be there as much as they would like. I'll keep you posted (to the extent I can without violating privacy laws).

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Important Notice to the Adoption Community Interested in Ukraine - June 14, 2006

Dear Members of the American Adoption Community Interested in Ukraine:

The Embassy has received a diplomatic note dated June 6, 2006 from the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine noting the new adoption authority, the State Department for Adoption and Protection of Rights of the Child will open in July 2006. The Embassy will continue to track the transition and other adoption-related issues closely, and will provide updates as appropriate by e-mail and on our webpage: Any American adopting parents who would like to be added to our e-mail list are welcome to contact us at adoptionskiev @ state . gov (remove spaces).

I'm really trying to be hopeful, but right now all I want to do is lay my head down and cry.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Has it been a month yet?

I can't pass this one up. This video was put together by a mom of a child adopted from Ukraine. She has presented it to the Ukrainian Embassy in the US to encourage them to reopen adoptions for US citizens. Every child shown on this video has been given a home, a family, love, and hope for the future. If even one of these children had remained in the orphanages, he would have been turned out on the streets at age 16. There are still so many waiting for their parents to come and get them.

Adopted children video

I thought I got this corrected last week but apparently it didn't take. Here's a second try.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

I promise not to make you cry again...

I probably shouldn't promise that so early in the game. How about I promise not to make you cry for a I was going to say months, but then I thought I might have something sweet to share, and I don't want to get in trouble for breaking any promises.

The newest rumors: The new SDA is supposed to open up June 24--yes, that would be the same SDA who was supposed to open up the beginning of May. What can you say about governments? I hate to destroy the hopes of some of you out there, but the opening of the SDA doesn't really mean a whole lot for us. One of my coworkers heard they were opening late June and said "oh, so you could have kids by July!". Ummm, no. Aim for December, maybe February and you're probably closer. Unless of course you mean July 2007. ;)

There are at least 600 dossiers already registered with the old NAC being transferred to the new SDA. That equates to 600 families waiting to get appointment dates, all ahead of us. It's going to be awhile. But don't give up hope. There might be a small loophole we can squeeze through. Currently, it appears that when the SDA opens, they will have the same restrictions on US families as before the NAC shut down--namely, the only children allowed to be adopted by US citizens are those over the age of 10, siblings of children you have already adopted, and special needs kids. If true, those of the 600 requesting young, healthy children may not get appointments (this is only speculation). We're still open to adopting special needs kids, and have a couple of special needs that are near and dear to our hearts for a variety of reasons. So we'll see. No guarantees on when we'll succeed, but we're not giving up.

Friday, May 19, 2006


Usually I do pretty well with waiting through all of this, but every once in a while something gets me. This one did.

Cheerios commercial

Monday, May 15, 2006


Whew! I thought things would slow down once April was over, but we're still moving full steam ahead! The clothing drive was a few weeks ago and we collected nearly 3 tons of clothing--not bad for a first drive. We got a great response at the church and the staff has agreed to put it on the calendar for next year. All of the clothing we collected is being sent to Brovary, Ukraine, which is a suburb of Kyiv (also spelled Kiev). The really cool part about that is that we have visited the clothing store and the church where these clothes will be distributed. We spent the night in Brovary while we were in Ukraine in 2003.

A couple of weekends ago, we coordinated the team-building events at our church retreat. We had a blast at the retreat, in part because we got to play with everyone's kids! At one point we were in the pool, and were watching 6 kids between the two of us. It was great! Everyone keeps saying if I watch their kids I won't want so many, but I'm still thinking a houseful (read: 6 or so) would be fantastic. It was a wonderfully relaxing weekend. We played some tennis, softball, mini golf, played in the pool, and ate so much food. We had a great time with the team-building activites (especially the marshmallow towers).

This weekend being Mother's Day, and my sister's graduation, and her birthday(!), I drove down to Spfd for lunch with some of the family on Saturday. Unfortunately, it was a very short visit since we already had dinner plans with some friends of ours. One of them we hadn't seen for several months as he's been in Iraq, and we were so glad to get to see him. Welcome home, Scott! :)

Friday, April 28, 2006

Home visit, take two

Our home visit with our new social worker was absolutely wonderful! She is also an adoptive parent and so understands a lot about the process and the emotional ups and downs. We're very excited to be working with her through the rest of our adoption process.

On a completely different note, I've been hesitant about posting this for a number of reasons, but I think it's something people should be aware of. There is a photographer who spent some time near Chernobyl photographing some of the people affected by the disaster 20 years ago. The subtitles are not in English, but the audio is. I will say that this is very graphic (not violent), and I would not recommend watching this with young children.

Chernobyl photoessay

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


We're back from the Lone Star State (Texas, for those of you who aren't familiar with some random state nicknames) and it was incredible getting to see so many old friends! We had so much fun and got to do everything on our "to-do" list...except eat at several restaurants and one ice cream place we were hoping to get to. ;) In substitution, we ate at a couple of new places (for us) and had a great time hanging out with everyone. We had the most gracious host who let us and another couple and their 2yo son stay at her new house. We had such a great time, but I don't know that any of us got a lot of sleep. Isn't that what sleepovers are for?? Great food, great weather, great friends--altogether, a most wonderful weekend.

Tomorrow night is our home study update. I have been informed by our SW that MO has no requirements for safety precautions within a house, other than a smoke detector on each level and a fire extinguisher in the house (we've got 3). I had thought we might have to make a quick run to the store for some cabinet locks, etc., since we haven't finished childproofing yet. We've been working towards it for a few years now, actually, and have been acquiring furniture and arranging rooms to be more accomodating for kids. We're not there yet...but we've still got some time. :)

Tonight I'm going to Kinkos to make some copies of a lot of our documents for the SW to take with her to use for the update. I realized last night that ALL of our dossier has to be redone. *sigh* It's our own fault for moving. All of the documents that are currently in Ukraine have our old address on them. But our home study update will have the new address, and all of the documents need to match. So they will all need to be notarized and apostilled again. Once again, I thank whomever in MO government decided to put a cap on the cost for apostilles relating to adoption. You are saving us SO MUCH money!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Guys and dolls...and more dolls

The musical is over. It was a blast, truly, but boy am I glad to have our evenings back. The title of the post come from the fact that there were not enough males interested in the leads and a girl played Nicely Nicely. She did a phenomenal job, by the way. Many of our gamblers were females as well. :)

No news adoption-wise. We have our home study visit for the update next Thursday evening (04/27).

This week is normal chaos for us. In addition to the usual commitments, we are organizing a clothing drive at our church for Ukraine through Master Provisions. MP collects clothing here in the states and sends it overseas. It is truly an incredible ministry. We first became involved with them through clothing drives at our church in Michigan, Meridian Christian Church, and then had the wonderful priviledge of traveling with MP to Ukraine to see their clothing ministry in action. The clothing drive will be held April 29 from 8a-5p at our church here in St. Louis, West Hills Community Church, out in West County. If you're in the greater St. Louis area, please feel free to drop off clean used clothing in good condition. If you'd like to volunteer to help sort and pack, show up and we'll put you to work! :)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Lots happening, little to say

Well, it's now happened. I have so little to post on the adoption front that I'm going to assault you with what we've been up to. :) Last weekend we performed for a Tartan Day Ball, held in honor of Tartan Day which celebrates Scottish heritage. It was a LONG night (you try being in a corset for 6 hours), but fun nevertheless. And I can truly say that I now have a much better grasp of how imposing an approaching line of Highlanders in kilts and long swords would be. Sunday night we spent an hour in the basement refurbishing a dresser as we waited out a tornado warning, then headed to church for a business meeting. This week we've got dress rehearsals every night (until 11pm!) for the musical which opens this weekend. Mark's conducting and I'm playing in the pit orchestra. Welcome to a world of sleep deprivation I haven't hit since college--and hopefully won't hit again until we have kids.

In reality, there is some news from the front. We have decided to switch social workers for our homestudy update. I have now contacted the new one, and the old one, and our facilitator in Ukraine, and I think everything is worked out. We're hoping to not have the update completed until after May 1, which will allow us to incorporate any changes that need to be made. In all honesty, it would be easiest if the new Ministry did not change any of the paperwork requirements (and we don't have any indication that they will make changes), but we have no guarantee at this point so it seems safer to hold off a week or two longer and make sure.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

News on the ex-NAC

It hasn't been posted by the Embassy yet, but it seems to be official that the current NAC (Natl Adoption Centre) will shut down at the beginning of April. From then until May 1, they will complete the processing of families already in-country pursuing adoption. All other paperwork will be on hold until the new ministry takes over on May 1. It's a little odd, but I'm really excited about this new ministry taking over. There are still a lot of unknowns--we may still not be able to adopt even after May 1, but it's great to see Ukraine making progress and trying to update their system. In the past, the adoption process for Ukraine was marked with corruption and accusations of corruption. Hopefully the new setup will eliminate those possibilities so the focus will be on finding children homes, not making money on the side.

There are many of us who feel that it would be beneficial to the whole situation if the NAC (or whatever it will be called now) would charge a processing fee for the adoptions. They don't because they don't want it to appear that they are selling children, which I totally understand. But charging $1000 per adoption could make such a difference over there. That money could go towards computerizing their database, facilitating updates on children already in the system (right now it is usually sticky notes, and often times the files are not updated with any regularity), improving orphanage conditions, etc. This is why I'm excited about the new NAC starting on May 1. There are so many possibilities!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The greatest of these is...hope

I have been thinking about things lately, and reflecting. I have a pretty good commute to and from work--about 25-35 minutes with no traffic--so I have lots of time for ruminating. :) Specifically, this week I was listening to a Christian radio program and the guy was talking about suffering. It got me to thinking. Are we suffering through this adoption process? No.

I thought of how little disappointment we have actually had. No miscarriages. No children placed with us and then removed back to their birthparents. Our entire process has been one of hope, not disappointment, and it will continue to be that. I think of the many families around the world, particularly in countries of war or civil unrest. I think of the mothers who have watched their children be torn from their arms...sold into slavery, conscripted into the army or rebellion forces...or worse. Things could be so much more painful, and for many others they are.

I am so grateful to be in a place where all I can do is hope.

Thank you, Lord, for hope.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Slowly but surely

I tell you, it is a process trying to get things done, or in this case, re-done!

We need to send in notarized and apostilled copies of our doctors' licenses, as the ones currently in Ukraine expired at the end of Jan 2005. So far, my doctor's office did it but without the needed signatures (at least partially, if not entirely, my fault) and Mark's doctor's office had both signatures on it (the doctor and the notary) but the notary's statement says "sworn to and subscribed before me this 3rd day of March 2006". Not a problem, except the doctor's signature is dated Feb 28 2006! That won't fly with the apostilling office. *sigh* So now everything goes back again. I do feel bad asking people to do this over and over again. It's not fun for them and it's not fun for us either.

I'm supposed to be contacting our social worker as well to get our HS updated, as it was completed last April. It's hard to believe we've already been at this for over a year. We're still pondering what to do after May 1. May 1 is when the new government division takes over the adoption process. But it's looking like they still may not reopen to US dossiers, and we aren't sure what we're going to do if that happens. We could continue to wait it out, but we can't really afford to keep redoing paperwork every year, and it is possible Ukraine could be shut down for a long time. It's also possible they could reopen May 1. *wry grin*

In the meantime, we're performing at a ball at the end of March, we've got family coming up in mid-April for a musical we're performing in, and we're heading to Texas a few weeks after that for a wedding. Trying to stay busy (well, okay, we're not really trying--it comes naturally) keeps our minds off of everything else. Besides, we probably won't have time to do a lot of the things we do now once we have kids, so we better get as much of it in now as we can!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Appointments for all!...well,, some

The NAC has started issing appointments! We know of a number of families who now have appointments in early March. Unfortunately for us, they are only issuing appointments to those families who were registered before the shutdown. And unfortunately for many of them, the NAC appears to be going in chronological order by when the dossiers were received. Since there are families who were registered last May(!) and the shutdown didn't occur until September, you might notice that there would be cause for a small bottleneck here. Okay, a rather large bottleneck. There are believed to be about 1000 families who were registered from May to September who did not receive appointments last year--plus the families who had appointments but did not find a child and are being invited to return. The basic idea of all of this is that it's probably going to be awhile before we're going to put it mildly.

Yes, it's very frustrating. While we still believe that God has a plan and that it simply may not involve us going to Ukraine before autumn, it doesn't mean we're particularly thrilled with it. While I would love to say that we can be patient and wait, etc., etc.--which is true!--there are days it is really...really...hard. There are tears, there is frustration, there is anger over parents who beat their children, neglect them, poison them. Why would God give them such a precious gift when they don't appreciate what they have? Why do they have the opportunity to ruin their children's lives, when we don't have the opportunity to love them, cherish them, hold them?

Only God knows the answer, and I can't begin to wrap my feeble human brain around the plans He has. I know that when the plans we think are so wonderful fail, He has an even more marvelous plan that is beyond our comprehension. Even in my sadness and pain, I am excited to see what God has planned for us. It will be quite a journey.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Latest word from the embassy

The U.S. Embassy released another notice today stating that the law has been signed by Pres. Yushchenko giving the NAC temporary authority until May 1, when the new ministry will take over adoptions. That would be the general summary. :) The important part for us comes in the FAQs they listed at the end:

"Q: Will the NAC accept all new adoption dossiers after it re-opens?
A: The NAC has advised that previous restrictions on acceptance of new dossiers will remain in effect. (See our earlier notices regarding the Government of Ukraine’s concern about the non-compliance rate by American adoptive parents with regard to post-adoption reporting, which is required under Ukrainian law.) The NAC will only accept dossiers filed by U.S. citizens on behalf of certain categories of orphans: siblings of previously adopted children; older children; and children with serious health problems. "

sigh...looks like our dossier will continue to wait in Ukraine. From what we can gather, our dossier will most likely be submitted in May, after the new ministry takes over. That means that we probably won't travel until late summer or fall, which could be very good. Plane tickets will be cheaper and Mark will be that much closer to finishing grad school. Plus, we'll have plenty of time to paint the room that still hasn't been painted. ;)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The rumors fly...

I realized I have been remiss in posting to all of you regarding news about adoption in Ukraine. So, here goes... (n.b.: much of the following text is taken verbatim from U.S. Embassy notices to the adoption community)

On December 20, 2005, Pres. Yushchenko signed a law transferring authority over adoptions from the Ministry of Education (who has jurisdiction over the NAC) to the Ministry of Family, Youth, and Sports, which will have jurisdiction over the new State Dept for Adoption and Protection of Children. This law went into effect on Dec 22, 2005, thus removing the NAC of the legal authority to process adoptions. However, the new State Dept for Adoption and Protection of Children has not yet been formed. Unfortunately, since the former central authority (the National Adoption Center under the Ministry of Education) no longer had jurisdiction over adoptions as of Dec 22, and the new adoption authority under the Ministry of Family, Youth and Sports had not yet been established, a jurisdiction and processing gap was created, with no Ukrainian ministries’ having the authority to handle adoptions. Thus, there was a large problem for people in Ukraine trying to complete adoptions--no one could sign off on their paperwork, since no one had authority. At least 40 U.S. families were stranded in Ukraine, unable to complete their adoptions.

As of January 11, the Ukrainian parliament (Rada) was scheduled to review a draft law on this subject that would allow the NAC to retain interim authority over adoptions until May 1, 2006, at which time the new authority is expected to be in place.

On January 12, the Rada passed law 8680 giving interim authority over adoptions back to the Ministry of Education’s National Adoption Center (NAC) until the new adoption authority is legally established under the Ministry of Family, Youth, and Sports. The law will come into effect as soon as it is signed by the President, who has up to 15 days to review it. The NAC has informed the Embassy that as soon as the law is signed by the President, the center will be reopened.

By the title of the post, I am referring to the many rumors we hear daily. "The NAC will reopen and begin accepting dossiers this week." "The NAC won't begin accepting new dossiers until May." "The procedures for adoption will change and the referral system will be different." "The referral system will remain the same even after the new ministry takes over." Needless to say, we take all of the rumors with a grain of salt. ;) We continue to wait to hear definite, official news. We are obtaining new notarized copies of our doctors' licenses since MO licenses expire in January each year. We will be sending those over to Ukraine shortly so that if someone does start accepting new dossiers, our paperwork will be ready to go. Nothing else in our dossier starts expiring until April, but since we won't be traveling before then (it would take a miracle) we will definitely need to redo other paperwork before we go.

Please pray for the people of Ukraine, Georgia, Russia and the other European countries who are suffering from a cold spell there. As of today, 181 people have died over the past 5 days due to the extreme temperatures (-13 F, -25 C) in Ukraine.

Friday, January 13, 2006


I am watching the snow blow by on what is definitely a wintry day. I have been meaning to post for awhile on this particular subject, as I had a bit of an epiphany the other day. I was musing about the weather, and the winter, and how we look forward to spring, and began to see parallels to our adoption process.

Right now it is cold, and dark, and everything is hibernating (or, like me, wants to be ;) ). We don't know what is happening in Ukraine, only that changes are being made. Occasionally we have a warm spell and we begin to see hints of green on the trees or the ground, only to have them fade as the cold returns. We have heard many rumors of Ukraine reopening, what may happen, etc., however, they always fade away as Ukraine continues to try to readjust their adoption process. Soon, it will truly be spring. Flowers will bloom, the sun will shine, and we will forget the bitter-cold days and how it seemed they would last forever. Someday, hopefully soon, we will be home again with our children. This winter of waiting will fade as a memory, but perhaps not so cold or difficult in memory as it feels to endure now. We continue to wait and hope, knowing that spring will come, both as a season and as a family.

Thank you all for your continued prayers. Most of all, please pray for our children. Please pray that they stay warm and healthy this winter, and that God would give them someone to love them and hold them while they wait for us. Like many of you, we look forward with great anticipation to the day we will be able to post that Ukraine has reopened.