Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New camera

We got a new camera! Of course, I haven't taken any pictures of note with it yet, but soon...soon.

We bought our old camera last January. Yes, less than a year ago. And recently something just was not right with the batteries. We tried a variety of fixes but basically we could only take about 6 pictures before the battery would die. That's not really conducive to taking a lot of pictures. So we called customer service and they told us to return it. On Monday, Mark returned it and got the camera that's the next step up, but while he was there he saw our same camera being sold (new) for nearly 1/3 of what we paid for it 9 months ago. Obviously there is a problem with that camera!

The new one we got is a Kodak Z1012 IS (the old one was the Kodak Z712 IS). And yes, we know Kodak is not top of the line, because we don't need a top of the line camera. The pictures on our old one were great (barring user error) and it more than met our needs other than the battery issues. We debated getting a Kodak again, but have liked our past two so much that we decided to go for it. Plus we already had the right memory card and a new battery. :)

I've played with the new one a little bit and I like it. The big difference between the two is the MP per picture--the old one was a 7MP camera and the new one is a 10MP camera. They both have a 12X optical zoom and image stabilization, which were the two important features we wanted. Now I have no excuse for not posting more pictures, right?

Adoption update

I'm sure there are many of you waiting for an adoption update, but it's not October yet, see? ;)

Well, here's a little bit to tide you over. :) We finished all of our home study visits, got fingerprinted (it's a good thing they do digital prints now or my fingers might be permanently ink-stained from the number of times we've done this) to make sure we haven't committed any felonies since December, got employment letters, proof of insurance letters, state background DFS checks, and copies of all of the boys' paperwork from their adoption. Our social worker is waiting on our fingerprints (we should have those this week) and our references (which she will hopefully have this week as well). Next step would be a referral (keep in mind this is all different for Ukraine, but we're not looking at Ukraine right now)...

But since it is an international adoption and we can't have those without snags, we recently found out that the referral we were hoping to get may no longer be available. This most likely means that someone from another country (not the US) has gone to do a preview visit of this referral. We are supposed to know in the next couple of weeks where everything stands. Please pray that we will have patience and wisdom for this. It is a little bit (okay, that's a total lie--it's a lot) frustrating to be starting all of this again with no where to go. But we recognize that God brought us to this point and had us start again now, so we're running with it strictly on faith. Quite frankly, God has given us several things right now (adoption and otherwise) that He seems to be wanting us to move forward with, and we're a little overwhelmed! But if God has given it, He will provide. And if He hasn't, we continue to pray that the doors will be shut quickly and soundly. ;) We have found God to be very faithful in closing doors when we request that as a sign of direction. :) :)

I'll do my best to keep you posted, but I don't know when we'll know anything so you may not hear anything on the adoption front for awhile.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Life in the fast lane

Yesterday was my company "Day at the Zoo." We had free passes to everything at the zoo, and you can bet we took advantage of that!

We went to church in the morning and then went to the company-provided lunch at the zoo. We didn't really see many animals this time (although we did get to see the baby Amur tiger cubs and watch them play!) but we spent all of our time doing the things we normally don't do because there's a charge. We went on the train (many, many times), rode the carousel, saw the sea lion show, and went on two simulators.

That's where the day was interesting.

The boys have never been on any rides of any sort with us. We had talked about taking them to Six Flags this summer but it just didn't work out. They're still too little for a lot of the rides so it wasn't a big deal not to go, and they don't know what they're missing. :) But our passes to the zoo yesterday included rides in two simulators, and we thought this would be a great opportunity to try the boys out on them. I'm laughing just thinking about it.

I was mainly nervous not for the "ride" part but because we didn't know the content of the movies; i.e., how scary they would be. And while most 5 and 6 year olds might not be scared, our boys have been exposed to a lot less Western culture (unlike the 4 year old in Zhenya's preschool class who has seen "Hellboy." Don't these children have parents?!?) and since they haven't seen much TV I'm not sure how well they distinguish between fantasy and reality. But we opted to go for it and since the chairs are set up in pairs Mark rode with Dima and Zhenya rode with me. The first one we went on was an "Extreme Log Ride."

They loved it. LOVED it.

The second simulator was a dinosaur movie--sort of. It had dinosaurs in it, for all of maybe one minute of the 5 minutes in the simulator. The boys also liked that one, but it was 3D and I don't think they liked the dinosaurs coming at them as much as they liked the log ride. :) But neither of them seemed to think it was scary. We were careful not to prep them to think it was scary. I did prep them before the log ride and reminded them that everything in the movie was pretend, but I didn't mention anything about "not being afraid" because we didn't want them to think there was something to be afraid of. Did you follow that circular reasoning? ;)

Both of them slept well last night and got plenty of sleep but we'll see how they do today. It was a long day yesterday and that tends to mean we start the week off rough.

Oh, and it may be awhile before I post more pictures. Our camera's been having issues for several weeks and we're returning it this week and hopefully getting a new one.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Why? Why? Why?

We joke that our boys have officially hit 3 years old, because we hear "why?" all the time. And I do mean all the time. But realistically, they never went through this stage (somehow I think a dozen three-year-olds asking "why?" all the time in the orphanage is discouraged) and now they have the opportunity to ask questions and get answers.

They really like the asking questions part. LOL

When we first met the boys--even before we met them--our biggest concern was with Dima and his development. He didn't have any indicators of FAS, but there was just so much we didn't know. And what we were told was not particularly encouraging in regards to his motor skills--or any other skills for that matter. But when we were introduced to him that day in the director's office, both Mark and I watched him closely. Although he was scared, he responded appropriately every time something happened. If he heard a noise out the window, he turned and looked. If someone entered the room, he would look up to see what was going on. When he was standing next to the director and she was having a conversation with the social worker, he watched back and forth between the two of them. We could tell that whatever delays he had, his mind was intact and working very well. Any potential concerns we had about his brain have been laid to rest many times over.

Monday night at dinner the boys and I were talking about siblings--specifically going over that they are brothers, mama has a sister, papa has a brother and two sisters, etc.--to work on understanding family relationships.

Z: "Who next brother?"
Z: "Who next brother?"
D: "Next brother. Base ball."
"Oh, Nick's sister is Laura." (Nick and Laura are the children of one of the other players on Mark's base ball team, and the kids all play together at the games.)
D (pointing at his fingers): "Mama, eyes!"
"What?" (I say this a lot. :))
D (still pointing at his fingers): "Mama, eyes! Nick eyes base ball!"
"Oh, yes, Nick had ice on his fingers when he was stung by a bee."

...four weeks ago!!

Dima has one of the most amazing memories, both short- and long-term. He can pull things out that I didn't even realize he noticed, or that I would have thought he would remember.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Nine months home today

We arrived home on Dec 24, 2007. We had arrived in the States on the 22nd, but drove home from NYC.


We've made some significant progress! I was looking through my blog photos on Flickr and came across the ones we posted while the boys were still in the orphanage. They look so tiny! I just want to scoop them up and hold them! The weird thing is they haven't really grown much. Still right about 30 lbs each, although they have gotten taller. But they look so much different now--like little boys instead of babies.

There are times that I wish we were in a different place in life. Maybe living out on some land, in a bit more rural area (but still close to a big city--I need my culture fix and a major airport! ;)) doing life a little bit differently. But I also realize that if we were in that place, we would not have access to the same resources that we have here, and which the boys (Dima in particular) really need right now to help them catch up. So I am doing my best to be content with where God has placed us now, knowing that His plan and purpose for our family extends far beyond what I can see or imagine.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I have knots in my stomach

I am a lot more nervous about this adoption than the last one. Either that, or I've forgotten what it felt like the first time around (it did take awhile...). We have our last homestudy visit today, and I'm downright near panicked. Which for me means I'm sitting here biting my fingernails (at least if I'm typing I'm using both hands and not biting my fingernails). I'm a pretty low-key person, so my version of panicking probably looks like most people's idea of watching something interesting on TV. ;)

You'd think it would be easier the second time around. Our social worker most likely hit the nail on the head when she said "well, you adopted from Ukraine last time, so everything's going to seem like a piece of cake and you're always going to be feeling like you're forgetting something this time." Indeed. What do you mean I don't need documents dated within the last month? Any certified marriage certificate will do? Really? You mean once they're certified they're good forever? (Not in Ukraine, by the way.)

This is just a completely different experience, and we're not really into the thick of it yet. But I do have a feeling that I'm going to be feeling like I'm missing out on a lot. For a brief period we thought we might not even need to redo our medicals! Yeah, I nearly passed out too! But then we found out that they do need to be done within the last year (it's within 2 years for the homestudy) so we just missed it--our medicals were done last July. But if I'm getting everything correctly, these medicals are not nearly as involved. Hence why I keep thinking I must be missing something. :) International adoption dossiers can't really be this straightforward, can they?

And yes, you can guarantee that we're going to have a bear of a time putting our dossier together after I post that last sentence.

I hope it doesn't sound like I'm bitter about our Ukraine adoption, because I'm not at all. I enjoyed the experience and I certainly learned a lot from it. But they definitely don't make it easy to put that dossier together correctly...for the third--or fourth...or fifth--time.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The rest of the weekend

Emphasis on "rest." ;)

Because of how tired they've been, and the fact that we kept them out late Friday night, I opted not to take the boys to Mark's base ball game on Saturday. It was about an hour away and we wouldn't have been able to just run home if we'd needed to, so I felt it was better to take it easy at home and recuperate for the next week of school. We played and hung out and just had fun at home, but after lunch I really thought it would be good for the boys to have a little quiet time to unwind. I really didn't intend for them to sleep, so I thought instead of doing an actual rest time I would put an audiobook on the stereo and they could lay on their beds and listen. Ahem.

I'm not sure they made it past the title.

They were asleep in minutes and I was really glad we'd had our little quiet time because obviously they needed it. :) They got up a little later and we had a pretty good evening. Sunday was pretty much more of the same, and we did story time again. I think they made it past the title but definitely not past the first chapter. Sunday evening they "helped" unload some wood Mark had picked up for the other house. These were 10' boards, and the boys each got an end and carried it into the house. I'm very thankful we don't have anything to break in there right now--it was quite the comedy to watch them carry the boards up the steps and try to maneuver it into the house. They're not acquainted with the concept of working with a person on the other end of a 10' board, so it took them a little while to understand that they had to WORK TOGETHER to get the board inside. It was hilarious, and they had a great time. They did say it was "a lot of work", so I'm a little concerned as to what they're going to think when we have them start helping with the framing. LOL

Sunday night Dima had to finish some homework. I cannot even begin to express how much I was dreading this. It was writing, and he struggles with this big time. We had spent quite a bit of time on this worksheet already and had NOT had a good time of it. We have a clear dry erase Crayola board that I can slide the worksheets into and he can practice before he writes with the pencil, which is really nice since I'm no longer erasing holes into his paper. This particular paper was writing the lower-case vowels. We had worked on it on Thursday, and the "u" had NOT gone well. So when we went back to it last night, I had him start with all of the other vowels that I know he can do and which are similar--"o", then "a", then "e" (he'd already finished the "i"). We had minimal erasing, which was super exciting, but I was still dreading the "u".

He did it. Three of them. All by himself, and nearly perfect. I--literally--just stared at him with my mouth open. And then showered him with lots of praise. LOL I don't know if all of the extra rest helped this weekend or what, but for him to be able to write that well at the end of the day was amazing. I'm hoping it carries over into this week. ;)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

So many many things...

When I haven't posted for awhile, I'm always overwhelmed with the amount of things I want to tell you which inevitably means I don't post. ;) It's a vicious cycle.

This past week has been really rough. The boys have been tired. And even though I'm doing my best to get them in bed earlier, it's hard to fit everything in between getting home from school at 3:45 and going to bed at 6:45 (the goal). With dinner, homework, and baths...well, it's just hard. It's hard to balance having the boys experience new and fun things and knowing how much they need to rest and destimulate (I am positive that's not a word) over the weekend.

This summer, the boys got to see fireworks but only from the car as we were driving back to our hotel after a wedding reception in Cincinnati. It was a great experience, because they got to see fireworks but it wasn't overwhelming since they couldn't hear all of the noise and we weren't surrounded by people. But they really sort of missed out on the fireworks experience, you know? Last weekend was the annual Forest Park Balloon Race here in St Louis. It is an experience not to be missed, and we really wanted to take the boys. The balloon race is on Saturday, but the night before they have the Balloon Glow where they fill up all of the balloons at night. It's really pretty and an amazing sight. However, the Balloon Glow doesn't even start until 7pm, and then there was a fireworks show at 9pm. Mark prepped the boys on Friday morning that they would be coming home from school and resting so we could see fireworks that evening (we didn't think they'd understand the balloon part at that point). When we got home from school, we had a quick snack and then I sent them to bed and they slept for 2 hours. Yes, they're that tired when they get home from school. We planned on picking up hot dogs at the park (note to self: $5 per hot dog is a bit extreme--next time eat before we go!) so as soon as Mark got home we headed to the park.

It was already dusk by the time we got to the park, and all of the balloons were filled. The great thing with this race is that for the Balloon Glow you get to walk through and see all of the balloons up close--Zhenya even got to sit in a balloon basket! They liked all of the different colors and Dima loved reading the letters off of all of the balloons. Around 8:30pm, they started deflating the balloons and putting them away, so we found a spot on the balloon field and sat down. The fireworks were perfect for the boys' first fireworks show. They were big enough to be really cool, but not so large and loud as to be overwhelming.

The best part of the evening for me: Dima was sitting in my lap for the fireworks show, and he was completely relaxed. If you remember, when we first got home (and for a few months afterwards) we had a lot of problems with Dima stressing out over anything new. Completely understandable, but it's so amazing to see where he's at now. He leaned back against me and just watched the fireworks and laughed and smiled--so relaxed and comfortable to be out somewhere, doing something completely new, with his mama and papa and brother. I love to see that trust develop--he knows we are not going to take him anywhere that will hurt him, and that we are not going to take him anywhere and leave him (which is really probably the bigger issue for him).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

There's a hole in the bucket basement

Sunday morning Ike came through with some pretty heavy rain. The only reason I was really unhappy about this was because it was our company "Day at the Zoo" and the boys knew we were supposed to be going after church. I was still hopeful that Ike would move on and we could hit the zoo in the afternoon when I went downstairs to get something from the basement. We have a floor drain in the basement, and when the AC's been working hard it drains condensation into the floor drain. I noticed that the carpet squares around the drain looked a little damp, so I looked for a place I could move them to to allow them to dry out. And then I yelled up the stairs...

"Mark, the basement's leaking..." and said a prayer of thanksgiving that our house is a rental. :) :)

Mark got various things moved around and discovered the source of the leak--a small crack in the wall that gets progressively bigger as it goes towards the floor and ends in a hole. The water was, well, not gushing, but it certainly wasn't trickling in either. Thankfully, Mark moved the carpet squares out of the way and the water ran straight into the floor drain. Our basement has smelled a little damp the past few days but seems to be drying out nicely. We put in a call to our landlord and hopefully they'll be able to get the crack sealed up before any more rain.

And we did make it to the zoo on Sunday. Since the weather had been so bad, they had canceled our company day, but since the zoo itself had shut down several of their "attractions" (the train, the carousel, anything outside that required electricity), they made everything else free! So we saw the sea lion show, watched the bear feedings, toured the dinosaur exhibit, and visited a few other animals that the boys like. It turned out to be a great day to be at the zoo since the weather was really cool and there were not very many other people there. And they're rescheduling the company day at the zoo so we get to go again! :)

Monday, September 15, 2008

"I don't like you"

The other day I was in the kitchen fixing dinner, and Zhenya was in talking to me. All of sudden, he turned around, pointed at me, and said "I don't like you."

I must confess, my heart leapt into my throat and then sunk into my stomach, but I kept my composure and said "oh really, why?" And then it occurred to me that we've had a small problem lately with the word "don't", and for some reason when he says "I want" something, it comes out sounding like "I don't want" something. So I asked him "Do you like me or no?" and he said "I like you" and gave me a big hug. Whew.

It was a little startling to be told by your child that you've had for 8 months that he doesn't like you. :) I was expecting it a few years down the road, but not this soon. I was glad it was just a miscommunication.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Would you like bananas with your chili?

Yeah, me neither.

But last night when I told the boys we were having chili for dinner, Zhenya requested bananas so that he could dip(!) his banana in the chili (his exact words). And then of course Dima wanted to do the same. So I ate my chili like a normal person with crackers and cheese. They ate theirs with bananas. Dima actually mashed his banana up into large chunks in his chili. But they ate it all, so I'm fine with it. I'm just glad I have a strong stomach.


We've been noticing the boys have been really tired lately. As I've mentioned, school is hard for them in large part due to trying to process everything in a language they've only been hearing for 8 months. It tends to wear them out. It all came to a head last night after dinner.

Zhenya had finished dinner and was supposed to ask to be excused, except he wouldn't say it correctly. Not only does he know how to say it, but Dima had just said it (and was repeating it to try to get Zhenya to say it). He finally broke down in tears. These were tears of sheer exhaustion, and it was reminiscent to me of when we arrived in NYC on our way home from Ukraine. Both of the boys were exhausted and Zhenya just couldn't hold it together any longer. We sat on the floor of the rental place and he just cried tears of exhaustion. So last night instead of disciplining him, I wiped his hands and face and told him to go get his pajamas on and crawl in bed. He was mad, but he obeyed (crying the whole way) and I went in and helped him undress and get in his pajamas (at the rate he was moving he would have been undressed sometime around midnight). He stopped crying while we were putting on his pajamas, and then crawled into bed. I leaned over to kiss him goodnight and he threw his arms around my neck and gave me a big hug, then he rolled over and went to sleep. Can you say TIRED? Not one protest about being sent to bed. He was asleep by about 6:15pm.

I was a little concerned that he might be sick (even though he hadn't complained about anything), but I figured we'd wait and see how he was doing this morning. You have never seen a happier child wake up. He woke up about 6:30am, saw me, and just got a huge grin on his face. Yes, definitely needed some sleep. I may try putting the boys to bed a little earlier the next couple of weeks and see if that helps a little. They're usually in bed about 7pm, but I may bump that up to 6:45 or so. Since it's getting dark earlier now it makes it a little easier for them to think of it as "night". :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I'm still stressed, but in a good way

Much thanks to those of you who were praying for me yesterday (and those of you who may not have seen the post but would have been praying if you'd known ;)). I tried to word the post so that no one would get too worried about me, but the truth was that we had a meeting at 4pm yesterday. I thought that information might be a bit much for you guys in terms of making you worry...maybe I'm underestimating my readers. LOL

Since I'm sure some of you are more than a little curious as to what's going on...

We're starting the adoption process again! :) Yesterday was our first home visit for our HS. We wanted to make sure that we were able to be approved for more children before I posted anything on the blog, but we are approvable so we're running with it. We should be finished with our HS by the end of this month and I should have more details around mid-October. If things continue the direction they are headed, we will not be going back to Ukraine, but I can't won't share any details until we have a little more confidence that things are going to work out. I know--that was super vague. Sorry. :) But rejoice with us that we will be adding more children to our family!

The social worker asked (as some of you might) why we are starting the adoption process now, since we haven't even been home a year. We pointed out that our last adoption took almost 3 years. By starting now we should have more kids before we're 40. ;) Seriously, though, most international adoptions take at least a year. There are exceptions, of course, but we anticipate it taking a year or so. By that point, the boys will have been home almost 2 years (I can't even believe I'm writing that) and we feel comfortable bringing more children in at that point. Of course, if God chooses to move our adoption process along faster or slower, we know that He will bring our family together at the right time (that does NOT make it any easier to wait, by the way).

So we're on the great paperchase again. And yes, we have to redo our medicals. ;)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

One day at a time

It's official--I'm stressed. I'm not eating and I'm biting my fingernails--an interesting combination. But at least I won't gain weight...I'm pretty sure fingernails don't have much nutritive value. LOL

Prayers for a meeting I have today at 4pm would be much appreciated. :) Nothing too serious, just one of those things that causes stress. I read on someone's blog (I forget who now, sorry!) that stress is a sign that we are not relying on God. I totally believe that, and I've been praying that God would help me have faith that He is in control and that He will guide me in the direction He wants me to go.

It's just hard to be patient. :) And thus, the fingernails go.

Monday, September 08, 2008

I think my son is lazy

...but we're working on that.

Thursday was long. The boys had school and then I picked them up and we went straight to OT for Dima. That wasn't so bad, but then dinner was later than usual. While the boys were showing me their schoolwork, it became apparent that Dima was not finishing his work at school. They were tracing and writing letters, and then on one other sheet they were circling things that are the same. Now, I realize it's kindergarten, but I also realize that with Dima, if he figures out that if he doesn't do the work at school there are no consequences he will be only too happy to stop doing the work altogether, or will do the bare minimum required to make it look like he's trying.

No go in our household. You do not get to be lazy.

So I made him finish his paper. What should have taken 5 minutes, maybe 10 because he needed some help on making his letters, took 30 minutes and involved a meltdown. In all honesty it wasn't entirely his fault. It happened at the end of the day and he'd had school and then OT. But after his meltdown, he was fine and quickly finished up the ONE LETTER he had left and then went off to bed. Grrr... We have a new policy now...you finish your homework as soon as you get home, before you get to go play. I was hoping we could have some down time for the boys when they first get home from school--time to just play and unwind a bit, but it will be much more effective for Dima not to play until he finishes his work. This will encourage him to finish it at school (this is all stuff he can do and that they have plenty of time in-class to do) and learn how to do his work promptly and correctly...at least that's what I'm hoping. ;)

In all actuality, this meltdown wasn't too bad. They are turning into more crying spells than the wailing we were seeing before. I really think he's starting to learn how to control his emotions, and he's understanding that we will not be controlled by his emotions.

On Friday, as soon as we got home from school the boys showed me their work (we do this every day after school). Dima had a couple of things he hadn't finished, similar to Thursday. We sat down at the table and started on it while I got dinner going. At one point, he stuck his bottom lip out and prepared to cry.

I said, "Dima, you can cry and lose your sticker and still have to sit here and finish your work and miss out on playing, or you can not cry and get your work done and go play."
Dima looked up at me, "Go play."
"Then finish your work."

He sucked his bottom lip back in, finished his letters, and went to play. He was very proud of himself when he had finished his letters (he got lots of praise, of course!!) and he got to play before dinner and keep his sticker. He's just got to learn that this crying thing isn't going to get him out of stuff anymore. It's an unfortunate habit to have developed and one that's going to take some time to break. But I don't see how it will serve him to let him continue in laziness now. If he gets in the habit of not finishing work now, when he doesn't really have homework, how much will he have to do when they are actually sending work home?

Thursday, September 04, 2008


When Mark and I were in the market for a new car in 2000, we test drove several. I was adamant about getting a new car--we had been doing repairs on his Subaru for a year and I was tired of it. I wanted a new car with a warranty. We really liked the Prius, but it was the first year they were here in the States and they didn't have cruise control--a huge issue to me since we travel so much. The other car Mark really liked was the VW Jetta. I liked it just fine, but I wasn't about to pay that kind of money for a car that got worse gas mileage than his old Subaru. Then, while reading through the dealership literature, we came across a note that said the Jetta was also available in a diesel engine. Sold! We bought our first Jetta TDI sedan in 2000, and then sold that and bought a Jetta TDI station wagon in 2002.

In the process of trying to sell our sedan, I came across the TDIClub website. Lo and behold, I found family. People who were just as passionate about their fuel efficiency (most of the time) and their VWs as we were. Michigan had a fantastic group of TDIers. They had regular get-togethers (GTGs) and we made a lot of new friends. Even better, many of the people in the TDIClub love to work on TDIs, and they love to share their knowledge. Glen (aka MOGolf) actually changed our timing belt for our first Jetta and our second Jetta. We trust many of these people more than we would a dealership, as they've been working on diesels for decades and they know these engines inside-out, and can literally take them apart and put them back together (I've watched them!).

When we moved to St. Louis, I really missed (and continue to) our TDI group up there. There doesn't seem to be a strong group in St. Louis, although there are GTGs held every year down in Poplar Bluff and we have made it down there. The MI group got together every couple of months for just fellowship, tinkering, maintenance, and sometimes major repairs, and I miss that. Point being, I've been a little out of the TDIClub loop lately, which is why it took me a bit to think of that on Sunday night. Once I did, though, the TDIers came through like I knew they would.

I posted on the forum what was happening with our car, and as mentioned, within an hour Brian called to check on us. He's been working on diesels forever and we are so happy to have him as our mechanic here in St. Louis. We are incredibly picky about who we let work on our car as diesels are significantly different than gasoline cars (one mechanic told a TDIer he needed new spark plugs...diesels don't have spark plugs). Brian is amazing (as is everyone else at Car-Doc!) and takes great care of our car. But he didn't have any tools with him in Cincinnati, so while he was willing to come up and take a look at the car, he thought it was best to call in Glen.

Glen drove over at 7:30am on Monday just to take a look at our car. It's about a half hour drive for him each way. He spent about an hour with Mark, and took him to get a new battery, and then installed it. What a guy! Thanks to Glen, the only schedules that were disrupted that weekend were the two guys who stayed an extra day to help us (they crashed in our hotel room that night--ask Paul about that adventure sometime ;)) and his.

I love my TDI, and I love my TDI family. :)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


I know some of you have been waiting for an update from the weekend, so here goes...

It was the best of times...

Saturday was awesome. The boys did so well--they really had a great day. We started out with swimming and then headed over to base ball. We had brought their trucks and I sat under a tree while they roamed around and played. The rule is they have to be able to see me (and in this case they couldn't go out on the fields while the base ball games were going on) but they were able to wander quite a bit and had lots of fun exploring. We went back to the hotel in the afternoon so they could rest--and they slept for 2 hours. :) I knew they'd be up late that night so I wanted to make sure they had the opportunity to rest, and they definitely took advantage of it. They almost fell asleep in the car on the way back to the hotel! That evening was the potluck and then they had a caller for some square/contra dancing. Zhenya decided to participate and danced with Mark and I while Dima climbed all over a wagon. The boys got to see stilts and play tug-of-war (which of course they loved). Then we all went out for chocolate nachos--my favorite part of the weekend. Everyone crashed that night (even with the extra sugar).

Sunday Mark and Paul headed out to base ball and the boys and I went swimming. Sunday morning was the first time I think they were really comfortable in the water. They were swimming around on their own (with water wings) and had a lot of fun. But when we got out, they were really cold. We went back up to the room and Dima had a meltdown. Thirty minutes later he was fine and we headed to base ball. We met up with the guys, had lunch, played on a vintage playground (in the historical village), then Zhenya had a meltdown. So during the guys' last game both boys had to lay down on the blanket next to me, and they both slept for about 45 minutes.

It was the worst of times...

The boys woke up right before the end of the game which was perfect timing, so we packed up and headed to the car. I used the key to roll down the windows (a nice VW feature to help vent your car before you get in) then we loaded everything up and got in. I went to start the car...and nothing. It didn't turn over, it didn't crank--it didn't do anything. In fact, it actually turned the clock off and reset the trip odometer. Ummm..help? Thankfully there were still lots of people around. We had several people try to jump it--with different cars AND different cables, and still nothing, although we did get enough juice to be able to roll the windows up. We caught a ride back to the hotel with a couple of the other guys on Mark's base ball team, who were kind and generous enough to offer to stay an extra day to help us out. Our options were as follows:

1-Have the car towed to a mechanic, who would not be able to look at it until Tuesday. One or all of us would stay in Columbus.
2-Rent a car dolly on Monday and tow the car back to St. Louis. One of the guys who stayed has a big truck and was willing to tow our car back, but it would have been a long ride with 6 of us in the truck.

The boys were being thoroughly entertained during this time by one of the other guys on the team and their uncle Paul. We were past dinner time and they were already tired so it was wonderful to have people distracting them--thanks, guys!

So...we went back to the hotel and I said duh! I need to get to TDIClub (I'll explain all of that in a separate post). I went online, posted our dilemma, and within an hour our mechanic from St. Louis called to see what was going on. I explained, and he told me who to get in touch with. Brian (our mechanic) was outside Cincinnati for TDIFest and was willing to drive the hour+ up to us to come look at the car, but he didn't have any tools with him. Instead, I got in touch with Glen, who lives just east of Columbus. He had also been at TDIFest and had driven back home Sunday night. He met Mark at 7:30am on Monday to try to diagnose the car--and diagnose it he did. They went and got a new battery, Glen ran a few more tests, and we were on our way.

The funny thing is that it didn't mess up our schedule at all. We had planned on dropping Paul off at the airport about 1pm and heading home after that, and that's exactly what happened. We made it home late Monday night, but the boys slept the last couple of hours in the car. And so far, we haven't seen any behavior repercussions from being gone over the weekend. If we make it to this weekend without any, this will be the first overnight trip we've taken where we didn't have a rough week afterwards. Progress!