Saturday, September 29, 2007

Plane tickets=done

Lately I've really been struggling with the financial aspect of our adoption. I think we have enough money, but what if we don't? And I worry about such things. So silly of me, as God was quick to point out. :)

We had identified the flights we wanted to take to Ukraine, one-ways from StL to JFK (New York), the JFK to Kyiv. Only one stop, so less chance to lose the luggage. And yes, I'm sure that statement will come back to haunt me. ;) Anyway, the flights were running over $500 per person. I had checked for a couple of weeks and they weren't changing at all, so I decided I would purchase them with our next paychecks, which was yesterday. So I got online and what do you know? The prices had DROPPED by over $100 each!! So we got both of our flights for under $1000 total (all taxes and fees). Then, as if God wasn't already saying "hello, I'm taking care of you!", we found out that a girl Mark had referred to his work has accepted a position and he will get a referral "bonus"!

I continue to be amazed at my own lack of faith. I know God is taking us to Ukraine--why can't I grasp that He's going to make everything possible? That doesn't mean we won't have struggles or problems in the process, but He's already got it all planned out. It gives me funny feelings to think that God already knows our children--exactly where they are, what they look like. Wow.

So we will be traveling to Ukraine on Dec 2 and arrive on Dec 3 (and we're trusting God with the luggage!). :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

We need your help ;)

So here's the deal...we're going to be first-time parents. Of toddlers (under the age of 5, so maybe a little older than toddlers). And it's a little hard to prepare when you don't know age or gender. This is where all of you, internets, can help.

Monday night we registered at Target. Part of the reason for doing this is the ability to update the registry online from Ukraine once we know more information about the kids. But there are a few things we will need regardless. What I would like you to do, if you have the time, is to check out our registry--not to buy things, although you certainly can if you want ;)--and offer suggestions of other things we may need or want. Some things were left off because we already have them (playpens), others because we won't need them (bouncy seats). Other things were left off for lack of information--there were some super cute outfits, but Mark made me control my nesting urges. :) :) So for those of you have/have had/know of/think about toddlers, we'd love your input!!

P.S. This isn't just for parents! I know of a lot of people without kids *ahem* who know lots about them!! Sometime those without do a better job of looking beyond the obvious and seeing the things we really need. :)

P.P.S. To get to our registry, click HERE. To leave comments, click on the word "comments" under the post and follow the directions.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I love living in St Louis :)

These are pictures from the annual Forest Park Balloon Race last weekend. It is an invitation-only balloon race as it is (according to the announcer) the largest balloon race held in a metropolitan area. Apparently most balloon races are held outside of cities, and this one is in the heart of St. Louis. It is free, as are many activities in StL. :) Friday night they have a balloon glow where the balloons are lit up at night, and then Saturday is the race. The first balloon to go up is the Energizer bunny (the hot "hare" balloon) and then the "hounds" follow. The balloon to drop a bag of birdseed closest to the "hare" balloon wins. I took over 100 pictures on Saturday, but I'm pretty sure you don't want to scroll through 100 balloon pictures, so I just shared a few. We were right next to the balloons as they were filling up and lifting off so I got a lot of pics of that as well as all of the balloons as they floated overhead. The last picture is from the Children's Hospital parking garage, and gives you a pretty good idea of how many balloons were there (70!). It was a beautiful day for a balloon race and we had a great time.

So I know we're supposed to be planning to travel, but we haven't had much time to sit down and discuss what we need to get done. I think the first order of business is to get plane tickets, and right now we're leaning towards one-way tickets (no, we're not moving to Ukraine). Two sets of one-way tickets are about the same cost as a roundtrip ticket plus one change fee. The chances of us choosing the correct return date are pretty slim. :) Plus, if you buy roundtrip tickets you're tied into one airline. So even if you need to change your return date, if they don't have 4 seats available until 2 weeks later than you want to return you're kind of stuck. Some people have had to throw away the return portion of their roundtrip tickets and buy new one-way tickets anyway, and we'd certainly prefer not to have to do that. Regardless, we haven't completely decided yet. It's looking like the flights will be about $500 each for one-way, and roundtrip is running about $900. So...

We also need to start making a packing list, but every time I start thinking about it I get so excited I can't sit still long enough to make a list. LOL And I've decided I'm absolutely terrified of becoming a parent. :) :) But also VERY ready!!! :) :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

December 4!!!!

Yes, we have a date!!! We have been accepted by the SDA and our appointment date is Dec 4 (dossier submitted Aug 13). This is actually a few weeks earlier than we were anticipating, but I know God has a plan and a reason for us to be there at that time. I can't stop crying because I'm so happy, and this is going to make finishing work up for the day really hard! We're finally going to Ukraine to find our children! :) :) :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

You haven't heard because we haven't heard (day 25)

Nope, no news yet. :(

But there are more destruction pics...

This is the door within the window. I can't begin to tell you why it's there because we haven't the foggiest idea. The best reason we've come up with is so that you could get into the upstairs middle and front bedrooms without going through the back bedroom; however, that requires you to climb through the "door" in the window.

This is the door open. Not much room to get through. We didn't try it (wanted to though!) because the pane above is broken and I wasn't keen about crawling underneath a loose piece of jagged glass. Go figure. ;)

This is one of the "secret treasure" holes. At least, that's what my mom likes to think. We haven't ventured up here yet--not sure we want to find whatever's up there. It will get pulled down with the rest of the ceiling so we'll find out soon enough!

This is the fireplace that was covered over in the front bedroom. It has been bricked up, sort of. There are bricks in there but no mortar, so Mark (of course) pulled one out. It's now known as the fireplace with the stash of dirt, because that's what came pouring out. We've got all kinds of theories as to where the dirt came from, none of them pretty. The hole...

...and the dirt.

Since we pulled out a top brick, we're guessing the entire fireplace (at least mantel-level and below) is filled with dirt...and who knows what else.

But really, can I tell you how much fun this is? We're having a blast and it's great getting dirty and destroying and rebuilding (okay, eventually rebuilding) this house together. :)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

More pics of the destruction (day 22)

Adoption: no news yet. Check back on Tuesday. ;)

We've been demolishing a little bit more of the house. I decided it's about time to get some more pictures up!

Here's the marble hearth that we uncovered underneath the living room carpet. Probably not original, but pretty cool all the same.

This is what it looks like when you remove all of the tiles from the bathroom walls. Yuck.

A great shot of the faux brick with the kitchen cabinets removed. How many colors can you paint a kitchen?? (or not, in the case of the mudded drywall)

General destruction of the back room. All of the cabinets and the countertop are out, and all of the paneling is off of the walls in there and the kitchen.

This is the really cool wallpaper in the back bedroom upstairs. There are two cool layers here: the top layer is the vases with flowers, and the layer underneath it is the house, fountain, and 3 trees. I'm trying to carefully peel off that top layer to reveal more of the scene underneath but they're really stuck. We can tell from some other areas of the room that that scene also has a well and a balcony. For perspective, the area that's shown is about 2.5 feet tall. I'll post the "secret hiding places" tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

That was interesting... (day 20)

For those of you who don't want to read about our day-to-day but are solely interested in the adoption, no news yet. ;) Check back on Thursday...or next Tuesday...or next Thursday... :) :) (The SDA announces appointments on Tuesdays and Thursdays.)

Last night was our first orchestra rehearsal. I'm not even sure "interesting" is the right word to describe it. We're definitely going to enjoy the band more than the orchestra, but we'll probably stick it out for the semester in both. It's good practice for both of us and will help develop my patience. Yes, even after all of the adoption waiting I have a lot of patience-growing to do, and it felt pretty evident on Monday night!! It ended up being a 2 hour rehearsal with a 15 minute break and a half hour of the conductor trying to sort out music, which I personally felt should have been done before the rehearsal and not 1 hour into it. *sigh* But I remind myself that I don't know his situation, and he may have been busy with actual important things before rehearsal (in the big scheme of things, this is pretty unimportant). :)

I had an interesting dream last night. I should preface this by saying that I have very vivid dreams, and they're often very odd. ;) But this one really struck home for me.
I was in a yard, almost more like a field, facing away from a building. There was a low stone wall on my right. On either side of me were two children, kneeling with me in the grass. I was singing "How great Thou art", and I looked to the left and the little boy was singing along with me. He knew all of the words, even to the verses I didn't know. He was maybe 4 years old, blond and so skinny! But he smiled and sang along with me. I looked forward again, still singing, and Mark came up behind me and put his hands on my shoulders and said "They're not really there, you know." And the children were gone and it was just him and me in the field, and I hung my head.
I woke up singing "How great Thou art". :) The dream sounds really sad, and it's making me cry to remember it, but it wasn't sad in the dream. I just remember feeling so much joy that this little boy was singing to God with me.

There are two things that I find interesting about this dream. One, I often dream of children (almost every night) but I don't usually have any indication that they are mine. But there was a connection between me and this little boy, different than I have had in any of my other dreams. Two, I have been praying for a long time that God would be providing our children in Ukraine with someone to love them and watch over them until we can get there, but also that He would provide someone to show them His love and tell them about Him. I know they are probably too young to understand, but I want them to grow up knowing God in the same way Mark and I do.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Mark passed his licensure test!! (day 18)

Mark is officially licensed in the state of MO to practice physical therapy! He took the test last week but I didn't post because he was nervous enough about it already. :) He got his letter yesterday stating that he had passed!! I am so excited for him and proud of him. He has studied really hard the past couple of months to be prepared for this test.

I have a new video for all of you. Check out The Promise, and be sure to watch the video. This is a program in Russia, not Ukraine, but it is a good example of the conditions in the orphanages, especially for children with special needs. Ukraine also sends children with special needs to separate orphanages where they are usually kept in bed with very little interaction. There are a number of groups working in Ukraine to combat the stigma of special needs and to improve conditions in the orphanages. One I am fond of is His Kids, Too, a US based non-profit that works directly with several orphanages in Ukraine. There are some pictures on their website of one of the orphanages they work with called "Home of the Forgotten Children" (starting at the bottom of the page). You can look through their many picture albums of their mission trips to see the work they have done and how much still remains.

We are at day 18 (thanks for the reminder, Nataliya! :) ), but we don't anticipate hearing anything for a couple of weeks. We do know of two families who have received appointments, one who submitted July 16 and one who submitted July 30. They both found out within the last week and a half, so we are anticipating another couple of weeks for us. We'll let you know as soon as we find out!!

Tomorrow is the Jeremiah Fruin vintage base ball festival in Lafayette Square Park, so we will be at the park most of the day.As long as it doesn't rain, we should have beautiful weather since our temperatures have finally started dropping. Autumn seems to be settling in, and I would love a nice long autumn before we head to Kyiv in winter! ;)

***Oh, and I took out the links to the pictures from Ohio Cup from the previous post and just posted the pictures. Sorry about that.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Back from Ohio

This past weekend was spent in Columbus, OH, at the Ohio Cup vintage base ball festival. Mark's brother Paul came along for the ride (literally) and flew into St Louis on Friday. He and Mark went to Goodwill and picked up some pants for him, then I converted them to knickers before we left. We drove to Ohio on Friday and the games were on Saturday and Sunday. Here are some pictures of us, taken by people at the Ohio Cup.

I am, hopefully obviously, the one in the dress. In the first pic Mark is walking alongside me and Paul is on the left in the green shirt (this was after the potluck on Saturday night). In the second picture Mark is the one in the front row without a bat and Paul is standing behind Mark.

On Friday night, a couple of the guys had eaten at Cheeseburger in Paradise and raved about the chocolate nachos. So Saturday night we had a team dinner there (really just dessert) after the annual potluck at the fields. And yes, the chocolate nachos were really good!! I highly recommend them! (It's not tortilla chips like regular nachos.)

After this weekend, I'm about "sports-ed" out. The guys played base ball all day and then went back to the hotel to watch Sportscenter every night! And pretty much all of their conversations revolved around sports. Unfortunately for me football season just started. ;) Overall it was a great weekend. Paul and Mark got to play base ball together, Paul was able to see our new house (and help remove a refrigerator from the basement--thanks!!!!), and we all had a lot of fun hanging out. Of course, I think we're all a little sleep deprived but hopefully we'll be able to catch up in the next couple of nights. ;)