Tuesday, October 30, 2007


We got the news on Saturday evening that Steve's Grandmother had passed away. The girls took it pretty well, considering. Annette had done most of her crying when we told them earlier in the week that the end was near. Hannah was sad and teary but thoughtful and just nestled into Steve's arm for a while. Before the girls headed to their beds, we asked Hannah what she was thinking. She said, "Well, I am half sad and half kind of happy for Grandma--so, it's kind of weird..." She said this with her face telling us that she truly was grieving but the absence of actual crying telling us that she did not have the feelings of despair that we were expecting. She is maturing in so many ways and this response really brings home to me how fast she is becoming responsible and thoughtful and a young lady.

Steve and I feel the same way as she did. Steve's Aunt Denise said she found herself "torn between sad for me and happy for Mom" (or Grandma, to us) It was no secret that Grandma was eager to get to Heaven and that her body was tired of this world. She had quite a grasp of the reality that death of the body for a Christian is to be ushered into the presence of God as those who have gone before us.

Steve has a sister, Laurie, who works as a flight attendant for United. He was able to get a couple of "buddy passes" from her at a discounted rate (cheaper than driving) and he and Hannah left this afternoon for NY. Hannah was on cloud nine! Not only that, but they are stopping in DC on the way and staying overnight with Laurie and another sister, Mary. This means they can all fly up to NY together tomorrow but even better is that Hannah is right now getting a whirlwind tour of DC! She even got to ride the subway!

The funeral is on Thursday. As exciting as this all is for her, I expect that to be rough for her. If you think of it, say a little prayer for her, okay?

Finished landscaping...for now.

(...I never can seem to get a true "before" picture)

We worked hard to re-do our landscaping around the front of the house recently. It took us a while. I did most of the stuff in front of the house myself. Not because Steve wouldn't help. He certainly would have and did, some. But because I liked the work and the freedom to work at my own pace. The girls helped a bunch too. Well...Hannah did. The other two tried a bit but spent a lot more time playing in the dirt. :-)

Not that Steve didn't work hard. Just that I did the parts by the house. We had a lot of rock-work we wanted to do....cheaply! So we made a few trips to an area in the mountain/boonies where we could haul a bunch out of the creek there for free! It was a lot of fun and we would be sore going to bed at night but it was worth it. (I mentioned Julian the craw fish a while back; that is where we got him. We had company for dinner one night and were going to show them Julian who lived in a plastic shoe box on the kitchen counter. Thing is, he wasn't home. This was unusual for Julian who never left home, on account of the fact that he couldn't, up until someone- me- had the absence of forethought to put a little rooting plant in the corner of the box. Turns out, craw fish are pretty good climbers...)

Anyway, now that you know all that extra stuff, Here are some pictures of the girls working with me on the yard:

Hannah was a big help. She was actually able to fill the wheelbarrow alone several times. She was a very eager worker. She's growing so fast!

In this picture they are all working.
This is misleading as the next two pictures will illustrate...

Ivy likes to supervise.

Annette took many breaks.
She used this time to remind us how hard she had been working.

The finished product on the left-hand side. This whole bed wasn't there before.

The walkway. This was just a smooth slope but we decided that we would like to terrace it with stacked stone walls. I am very happy with the finished product! I wish I had closed the garage door for this photo...
We need to plant some flowers. Actually, I do have some that I put in there. A couple of hydrangeas over here and a couple of peonies on the other side, but they aren't much to look at yet.

Tomorrow I'll show you some other planting we did this week!

The Fall Festival

Our church does one of those "Halloween alternatives" each year and we call it the Fall Fesitval. This is one of the highlights of the year of church events for the girls. We do our best costumes for this event and have so much fun!
This year, Hannah wanted to be a black cat. She already had the ears, I was fortunate to find the long "velvet" leotard at a yard sale for $2 this summer and she wore black socks and black shoes. Pretty easy costume...well , except that the makeup took a little time but it was fun! Oh, and her tail was a pair of black tights that we tied around her waist and stuffed with socks.
Annette, who is 5 1/2, recently lost her two bottom front teeth and she chose to be the Tooth Fairy this year. She picked the color scheme. She wanted blue hair to look reminiscent of mouthwash. :-) Her face paint was fun to do as well. Especially the swirls on the side of her face. They don't show up as well as I wish in this picture but they may if you click on it to see it larger.

Ivy and Annette found this slide during the final forty minutes of the F.F. I tought Ivy would be too chicken to try it but they did it over and over until it was time to leave. It was really high!

Okay, now Dad, if you read this, you will be bothered by the fact that this next picture actually comes chronologically before the one above.... Sorry! ;-)

Last year Ivy was too scared to ride the ponies. This year, we took the video camera and I told Steve to get a video of her chickening out. She didn't! She loved it!
Same thing with the train but no video this time. She was scared to death of the train last year and this year she and Uncle Evan rode it twice! She smiled like this the whole time! I think Evan only smiled for the benefit of my camera.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dinner, Ukrainian Style

Get comfy....

Well, I mentioned that we had the privilege of being invited for dinner at the home of a Ukrainian family here in Knoxville this past Monday night. It's Thursday now and so I suppose if I am going to tell you about it, now is the time!

We really had a great time. I mean it. They were so friendly and Vera, the lady of the house, speaks quite good English. Her husband, Alex, has improved greatly in his ability to communicate in English since Steve first met him! They have five kids who were hidden somewhere in the house for most of the time but appeared sometime later in the evening. Beautiful kids. And our kids were so well behaved, well...except that despite our 'talk' in the car on the way over, Annette refused to try the Borscht! She missed out, though!

Vera served us a veritable feast and kept insisting that we eat more! We had Borscht, mashed potatoes, pork, Palmanyee (that's as close as I can get to spelling it in English) which is a kind of meat filled dumpling. There was also a pretty three-tiered serving tray with a tomato and cucumber salad on the lowest level, fruits and something else I can't remember in the middle and chocolates and Baklava on the top. Oh, slices of white bread with the fruit.

Now, normally, Steve avoids anything with potatoes (except fried), cucumbers, cabbage or tomatoes. So I was wondering how he'd enjoy the meal. We have been joking among ourselves about how we will be in Ukraine all this time and those are some of the main staples there!! But I'll tell you what-- We both raved about it all the way home! It was so good!!!

Steve ate all his soup, and had seconds and was pressured into thirds--not because he didn't like it but because we were both getting full! He really loved the dumplings and I think he even ate some mashed potatoes but I'm not sure. Of course, except for the tomatoes which were easy to avoid, I love all those foods and assume that is what I will eat in Heaven!

I loved seeing how the culture was different from ours. There was Babooshka in the kitchen cooking and taking care of Deodooshka (Grandfather). Vera and Alex called him Otyets (Father) and so I don't know his real name but he was my favorite! He wandered through where we were every once in a while and said stuff we couldn't understand and grinned, gold tooth gleaming. I think he was trying to show off some English but he was timid and mumbled and I couldn't understand a thing! Seriously, I wanted to hug him!

The funny, or at least different to us, thing was that the table was set for just us. There were 6, maybe 7 seats at the table and Vera sat off to the side and Alex sat at a place setting and ate some but he had already eaten. It was nice to visit during dinner but I admit, at first I was a little nervous that the plan was for them to stand around and watch us eat! Vera did keep a close eye on things and every time our dishes neared empty she was asking if we wanted more. Saying things like "Why you don't eat more? Alex always eats three bowls of borscht when he is eating". And, "Have some more palmaynee, don't you like them?" I did and had said so, but three helpings and two bowls of soup, a helping of mashed potatoes and some pork, not to mention the salad and bread were making me a little on the stuffed side!! Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining! It was all absolutely wonderful!

Before we left, I went to the kitchen door and waited while Vera packaged me up some borscht and dumplings and insisted that I must take some home. Babushka was there washing dishes and I wanted to help but got the impression that that wasn't something to offer. I did tell her the the food was "Ochin Khurasho!" (very good) and she smiled and nodded, pleased but unable to reply. I guess she suspected (correctly) that those were the few words I knew!

And I have to tell you that after the meal we went in the Living room and watched a few clips of DVDs that they have of some of the work Vera has done with an organization that ministers to the orphanages there. Very touching stuff. One that I that I can't help but mention was of a project to reunite siblings who were adopted apart. They had several groups of children but the children did not know what was happening. They were told to sit at a dinner table and when they did, they found that across the table would be their missing brother/sister. The one that was so precious was a girl, probably about 8, who looked up from her plate and saw her brother across the table and she just started sobbing with joy. She reminded me of Hannah. That is just what she might do. So precious. What these children have been through in their short little lives is unfathomable.

Really. My life is such a cakewalk. I have never been beaten or purposely burned, raped by a relative in my own home, or ripped from my family and sent to live in an institution. I have never been so poor that we could only afford my father's liquor or had to go to bed hungry, again.

You know, this is one of the reasons we are adopting. Because, in the grand scheme of things, any reasons not to are so shallow. Not enough room, not enough time, where would we keep that much more stuff?, they aren't biologically ours, money, etc... Do you see? They are all reasons that challenge our comfort, the bubble of "perfect-ness" that we have created for ouselves. Us, OURselves, Me, My.... If I have the capability to be a forever home for these children, how can I say that my "quality of life" is more important? God has sacrificed so much for us. Jesus certainly paid a price for my adoption into His family. How can I do any less? And you know what? What greater joy is there than to do the will of God?

This whole thing is ups and downs, joy and elation, but throughout every step we have joy. From deep within. From Him. And I am filled with Love for these children whom I don't even know yet. They're a gift. Not an obligation. Not a charity but a labor of love. It won't be a cakewalk, but it is a very worthy endeavor, for now and especially for eternity.

Monday, October 22, 2007

This and that

(Annette kissing our snowman from this past January)

Steve bought some snow boots on Friday. Yep, snow boots! Why? Well, because even though we moved all the way to Tennessee to get away from the NY winters, we are going to be freezing our wimpy little hineys off way over in Ukraine this December and January! Well, maybe the hotels will be cheaper...

I am quickly joining you fellow almost-travelers in becoming obsessed about packing! What to take? What not to take? What to buy there? Everyone says to travel light so I plan on doing my best! This is so unbelievable to be this close to leaving the country for over a month!!!! Yikes!!

Only 46 days until we leave.
Steve did the math. 46 days! Yikes again!!

I worked last night on a new template for moving our Loved Already site to a Blogger page. It will be much easier to maintain. We wanted a regular site to display all our different pages but we are getting to the point where it will mostly be just blogging from here on out. I'm glad because I like designing my own look and also I don't really like the Yahoo Web Hosting Blog format. It is rather a pain in the neck!

We are going for dinner tonight at the home of some people we know from the Ukrainian Slavic Full-Gospel church here in Knoxville! Vera is cooking up some Borscht and I don't know what else. I think I will bake some bread this afternoon to take along. I'm not sure what is expected according to Ukrainian culture when one goes visiting. Maybe Nataliya can give me a hint!!??

Check out this post on my sister-in-law's family blog! It is so funny!

Please remember our family, particularly the girls, in prayer. I mentioned a while back that Steve's Grandmother was failing. We are surprised that she is still with us but it is becoming clear that she won't hold out much longer. Annette is taking the thought of this very hard and Hannah will have a very difficult time too but she doesn't show it as much. Ivy, at two, doesn't really know much but was falling all over our little weeping Annette with hugs last night after Annette burst into tears on the phone with Great-Grandma.

We take great comfort in knowing that Grandma has been aching to go to Heaven for 10 years to be with her husband since he passed on. We'll see her again. We wish that our adopted kids could have met her.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Drum Roll, Please.....

And the correct answer is.....

So, I guess the winner of the prestigious "Pat Yourself on the Back" award is Rachel!! Now, Rachel, are you the Rachel I know?...redhead, three kids, daughter of Dawn (Oooo! "Daughter of Dawn", that sounds kind of cool!) or are you a new one?

At any rate, Pat yourself on the back and say these words...
"Wow! Awesome guess! What a great way to start the day!"

Thanks for playing, Y'all!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Yard Sale Goodies

The Haul
My mom's subdivision had it's annual yard sale day on Saturday. At our first stop we found a bunch of stuff. I found the table in this picture, something I really have needed. My living room has been practically devoid of places for guests to set their cups for quite some time! I also got a plastic grocery bag full of beads and craft items as well as that netted belt there. In all I found this entire list of items:
  • Four pairs name brands pants for Hannah
  • Four shirts, no stains. One is a pink tie dye shirt that says "Daddy's Girl" in rhinestones on the front. I was going to give it to Hannah but we decided to save it in case one of our adopted kids was a girl who might fit it. Hannah already has a "Daddy's Girl" shirt.
  • Plastic grocery bag of beads
  • two pairs of church shoes for Ivy in great condition; one white, one navy.
  • end table
  • Netted belt
  • flannel night gown for Hannah
  • Children's place skirt.
  • Window scarf (probably ten to twelve feet long)-blue with iridescent purple tones
  • really cute stuffed dog toy. ( I have NEVER bought a stuffed animal EVER ANYWHERE before but he was so cute, I couldn't resist!)
  • One Golden Book-Cookie monster and the Cookie Tree. Do any of you remember this book? I'm not a big fan of Sesame Street stuff as a general rule but I remember having this book as a kid and really loving the idea of a cookie tree!
Anyway, Mary at her blog which she calls Owlhaven has a couple of times held a contest to see who could guess the closest as to how much the stuff cost. I thought it would be fun to do here, too!

So, What's your best guess???? This would be a great time for any of you "lurkers" to join in!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


December 11!!!!!

We have a date!!!!!
More on LovedAlready.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Ivy Mae

I took some pictures of Ivy the other day when we were visiting my Grandpa.
It was dusk and the lighting was so pretty, I took a whole bunch!

Here are a few of my favorites:

(Or, in the south, some people say "Peety-pie" or something like that.
It means the same a peekaboo but I don't know why they say it that way.)
The Winky-Eyed Smile

The picture above and this one here make me smile because Ivy has this thing she does sometimes when she smiles: She winks one eye shut! We first noticed it when she was not quite one-year-old. The more she smiled, the more she winked and the more she winked, the more we laughed and the more we laughed, the more she smiled....
So funny. ;-)


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A happy day for a friend...

Congratulations, Leslie!!!
Kristina is going to be very surprised!! She is one lucky girl.

Mom's Overture by Anita Renfroe

I think this is pretty funny! This is my kind of humor. I love making up goofy songs to existing music! I even sometimes hear our girls doing the same thing! I love it when they copy me and it isn't something that induces guilt. Haha!

I am also very glad she ended it with "I'm the Mom" and that she included a variation of the "if I've told you once..." I haven't had opportunity to say that yet but I surely do remember hearing it!!!