A Week in Photos: April 9th + Randomness

Hi Friends!

I hope this finds you well, with a smile on your face and a spring in your step.  🙂  Things are chugging right along around here.  We’ve had a great week so far.  Lots of normalness, lots of laughs, a few tears, and plenty of coffee to fuel it all.  

Last week we celebrated Seth’s Adoption Day!  The actual day was while I was in America, so we held off on the festivities till we could all be together.  Every year we take a day to celebrate that God brought Seth in to our family.  He’s only 4, so in the past we have done it more for our other kids, so that they would see the value in adoption and understand how special it is.  This was the first year Seth cared about it.  He still doesn’t fully understand what it means, but we often tell him the story of how he came to be our son, so it’s just a matter of time before he “gets it”.  All he gets right now is that it’s a special day just for him.  He chose to go out to pizza and bowling, so we did!  

Oh how I love our boy.  Sometimes I can’t believe he didn’t grow inside my belly.  Just like our bio kids, I feel like Seth is an extension of me, like a piece of my heart is walking around outside my body.  I love my baby.  🙂

   

  

  

  

 

Funny Story:

Have you ever heard of “No-Poo”?  Despite it’s name, it has nothing to do with toilets.  “No-Poo” is a method of hair cleansing without shampoo- get it, no “poo”?  Shampoo strips the scalp of much of it’s natural oils that are so good for your hair.  When you strip your scalp of it’s oils, then it thinks it needs to produce more oil, then you strip them all again, then your body makes more, and on and on.  Anyway, I have been a no-pooer for a couple of years now and it’s the best ever.  I use baking soda to wash my hair, and apple cider vinegar to condition it about once a week.  It works well for me, but sometimes I feel like the soda is a bit harsh on my scalp.  In fact, hardcore no-pooers will never recommend baking soda.  But honey and aloe and all those expensive treatments aren’t realistic for me.  Baking soda is cheap and accessible, so there. I read somewhere that washing your hair with egg yolk once a month is a good way to give your scalp a little break.  So, being the weirdo/fierceless warrior/hippy that I am, I decided to give it a whirl!  Why not?

I read in the instructions that you need to make sure to only use the yolk and not the white, and to make sure the  water isn’t too hot.  Wellllllll….yeah.  I separated the egg well, or so I thought.  The water wasn’t tooooooo hot, or so I thought.  I got out of the shower and yeah, scrambled egg head.  There’s nothing more romantic than a husband who will patiently pick cooked egg out of your hair.  I’ve got a winner, folks! Now if the Denny’s jokes would just stop.  “Oh sweetie, you smell so good, now I just need a side of bacon!”  Ha.Ha. Shut up.  😉 

I may smell like a diner, but my hair is soft and shiny, so I wouldn’t call it a complete failure…not completely. 

 

We are so thankful for new volunteers! Praise God!

  

Sweet Aaron needs a mama. Do you know her?

  

  

Sweet Ben also needs a mommy and daddy. He is not thriving. Please share our boy!

  

Stephen is waiting for a family too. Oh my sweet boy. He loves to run and spin. Treasure.

Addy is such a great helper at Romaniv. The boys love her! The feeling is mutual.

Hava took this last picture.  I just like it.  I love cuddling in with my kiddos and reading a good book.  I’m not a “playing” mom.  I don’t like to play toys with my kids.  I’ll play Just Dance on the Wii, or jump on a trampoline, or bake cookies with you,  but please, for the love, don’t ask me to play Barbies.  I just.can’t.do.it.    What I love most, is reading to my kids.  Find us a good read-aloud and it’s all over.  I hope they will treasure the memories of us all cuddled up reading a good book.  I know I will.  🙂  (I hope they won’t mind the mild scent of brunch) 

  

A Week in Photos: ‘Merica Edition

Last week Ezra and I were in the good old US of A! We had to go there for some document stuff and had a grand time!  It was the first time either of us had been back since we moved to Ukraine 17 months ago.  I was nervous to go, wondering if I would feel out of place, or too “changed”, but all my worries were for not.  It was a special time and our love tanks were absolutely filled to overflowing.  

*I was horrible about taking pictures.  My bad.*





I felt a lot of feelings throughout the trip.  Some were expected, others were not.  At church on the first Sunday I was so happy to be there I could have cried- and maybe did, just a little.  There were so many mixed emotions coming and going that my insides felt like a huge tangled up knot.  Then a wise and wonderful friend came to me and wisely advised me to stop telling myself what to feel and what not to feel.  

“If you keep telling yourself what you should and shouldn’t feel you’ll miss out on all that God has for you this trip.”  

Truth.  I decided in that moment to just let myself feel what I felt and to let go of the reigns just a bit.  I’m a control freak and I avoid vulnerability, but letting go of that control made for a much cooler trip.  





Curious things we noticed while in America:

-The streets are HUGE. Wowzers.  The lanes are so ginormously wide!!!  It felt like every street was a freeway.  

-Driving is amazing.  I forgot how freeing it is to get behind the wheel and go wherever you want to go. 

-The sidewalks are empty.  Ha!  On our first full day Ez and I walked to the DMV because I needed a replacement drivers license (my wallet was stolen last summer).  After I got my license we walked to my friend’s house who was generously loaning us a car.  As we walked along in the beautiful sunshine Ez said “Where are all the people?”  Haha.  Seriously though, walking along a sidewalk totally alone in Ukraine is a very rare thing.  

-The DMV is more efficient than I ever realized.  Don’t agree?  Just try to get a document replaced in Ukraine and you might change your tune.  🙂  

-Everyone is SO FRIENDLY and SO SMILEY!  Woah Nelly.  It felt like every barista and every gas attendant and every cashier was my new BFF!  Sooooooo not Ukrainian.  When we were going through customs in Portland, the lady who was taking the declaration sheets asked Ez “What grade are you in, buddy?  Hey, do good in school, okay bud?”  He barely nodded.  I reminded him not to be rude and he said “But, Mom, I don’t even know her!  Why was she smiling so much????”  Oy.  Ha.  Seeing all the smiles was AMAZING.  🙂 🙂 🙂 

-Everything is sparkling clean.  Serious.  You could eat off the floor of Target.  I didn’t, but, yeah the cleanliness, wow.

-People  popped out of the woodwork to tell us they pray for us every day.  I had no idea.  Blessed my socks off. 

-So many people love our Boys fiercely.  The Boys are like rockstars.  I pray God speaks to their spirits and gives them even a glimpse of how deeply they are loved by multitudes of people.  Thankful. 



I think the biggest thing I felt on the trip to America was a feeling like I was letting all my breath out.  It felt like I’d been holding my breath for the past year and a half- without even knowing it, and I finally just exhaled.  You see, in America I undestand EVERYTHING.  I understand every conversation, fully.  I understand every sign, completely.  I understand every bit of culture.  I understand the body language.  I understand cultural jokes.  I understand family norms and social norms.  I understand traffic laws.  I understand what is expected of me in just about every single situation.  In the whole two weeks I was there I never had one bit of tension  inside like “Uh oh, what am I supposed to do here….?”  

Not so in Ukraine.  I think when people think of living in a different country they mostly just think of the spoken language  issues- like vocabulary.  I know that’s all I thought of!  And yes, of course that is a HUGE HUGE HUGE learning curve and a HUGE HUGE HUGE obstacle.  But there is even so much more that has to be learned than just how to say words.  You have to learn the systems of how things work.  

How do you buy food at a store?  How do you buy food at a market?  How do you do banking?  How does the transportation work?  How do I behave when I enter this public building?  What do I do when I meet a new person?  What is expected of me?  How do I read that sign?  And if I can’t read it, who do I ask for help?  How do I send and receive mail?  How will this social gathering go, and what will be expected of me?  What if they ask me something and I don’t understand?

Sure, you can ask questions, but often you don’t even know what questions need to be asked.  There is so much that is unspoken in culture.  I can’t even tell you how much that affects daily life.  Culture is everything.  People don’t explain certain things to foreigners because it is such a cultural norm that everyone conforms without a second thought!  Everyone except us.  🙂  We don’t even know what we don’t know.  Sure we know more than we used to, but I’m still terrified of the post office.  So yeah, we’ve got a ways to go.



I realized that I have become so used to feeling unsure (about what to do, what to say, how to act), that the insecure-pit-in-the-stomach feeling I get when I go most places in Ukraine has become normal to me.  Oh guys, I feel dumb so often.  Hahaha.

BUT, in America I remembered that although I often feel dumb and unsure and not confident, that is not who I am.  I am bold.  I am strong.  Christ in me is bold.  Christ in me is strong.  He made me brave.  I’m actually a fairly smart person! 🙂  I can’t even tell you how that felt- to be able to turn off the insecurities and just BE ME.  I saw it changing Ezra too. 

We both came back to Ukraine reminded of who Christ is in us.  We came back braver and stronger.  We needed that.  

So yeah, it was awesome.  Part of me didn’t want to leave, but another part of me couldn’t wait to get back.  I have a feeling that is a tension we’ll live with as long as Ukraine is our home.

We have people who love us on both sides of the world.  We have home on both sides of the world.  I can love both places and long for both places.  I’ll just go ahead and stop telling myself what I should feel.  🙂







A Week in Photos: March 8th

Oh my goooooodness! What an awesome week we had! It was go go go and packed with amazingness.

Jed was in America for 12 days and just got home last Thursday. He had an awesome time of connecting with supporters and churches. He went with the purpose of building a Wide Awake Medical Advisory Team and made lots of great contacts toward that end. It will be exciting to see what comes of it.  We realize that we are at the far limits of our own personal knowledge for how to best help the boys at Romaniv.  It’s time to pull in the big guns. The people Jed met with were so gracious and excited to help. Our Boys are loved by so many!

These past few days we had an extra special treat. You see Wide Awake gets to partner with some pretty special people, and two of them visited this past week. Suzy and Lois visited from Hands of Hope Adoption and Orphan Care and we had a super great time. We got to talk about how we can best work together and how we, along with Mission to Ukraine, can best join forces to care for our Boys. It was incredible!!! We didn’t want them to leave!  Talk about kindred spirits… I’ll share more about that later. Now for the pics!

On Tuesday we celebrated Valera’s 30th birthday! He was over the moon excited!

That pink box was his only birthday wish 🙂

Suzy, Lois, and Romaniv Directors. All four, so precious to us

Baking, baking, baking in preparation for a BIG party for Romaniv nannies!

Four handsome MEN- all ready for their special performances

Addy and Ez came along to help with the party. They were so happy to see their Romaniv buddies!!!

Sweet nannies. We love them.

Stasik welcoming everyone to the special party!

Hands of Hope gave each nanny their own multicooker! They are all the rage here and cost almost a full month’s salary! The nannies were just a tad bit excited.

Meanwhile, the boys were busy being adorable…

Maxim’s first selfie 🙂

Our Friday afternoon team is back in action!

All in all it was a fabulous week. Good things are happening left and right. We are so blessed to partner with MTU and Hands of Hope.

On another note, our fam is battling some sickness and just all around exhaustion, so we would appreciate your prayer. We’re sick and tired of being sick and tired. Ain’t nobody got time for that! 😉

Till next time! Say yes to Jesus this week, okay?

A Couple Weeks in Photos: February 23rd

Hi!  How are ya?  We are just fine and dandy.  Many good things are happening- in our family and in Wide Awake.  I wish I had the time to just sit down with each of you and give you all the details, but alas, a blog post of pics will have to do.

We are deep in the throes of homeschool and language lessons and Romaniv trips and Young Adult nights and Legos and orphan advocacy and Barbies and parenting and all kinds of other stuff.  No day is like the one before. It’s not all glamorous, in fact I wouldn’t classify any of it as “glamorous”, but it is our life and we wouldn’t trade it for the world. (except some days when the copious amounts of unglamorous snot, saliva, and poop threaten to overwhelm…)

Hehe…anywayssss…time for pics!

*There are a couple of boys in this post that are available for adoption.  I gave them aliases to protect their identity.  FYI.  Mommy and Daddy, are you out there???  🙂 

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A playground in our neighborhood

 

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It’s the little things. 🙂

 

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We found an ice road!!!

 

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Hava decided maybe she COULD write some letters! I’m glad I didn’t push her earlier.

 

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I can’t resist. My baby is so cute!!!! Yep, he’ll always be my baby.

 

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This is “Micah”! He is available for adoption and I can’t wait to write a post all about him and find his family!!! I’m just waiting for confirmation on his diagnosis. Pure sweetness.

 

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“Stephen”!! Stephen needs a family too. He is blind and needs so much sensory input. Running him in the halls is the best. He can walk, but sometimes he likes a ride. 😉

 

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Please keep praying for our sweet one. Little love needs a miracle.

 

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Hava Rudy the Cutie

 

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Sweet loves with Tanya, a most amazing volunteer. She loves the boys so much.

 

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Seriozha. He loves to say “Beep beep!” He is normally silent, so when he perks up with a loud “beep beep!” it makes us laugh so hard!

 

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Ez Pez Dominez

 

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Still can’t resist.

 

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Addy Maddy Baddy

 

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Seffer Boy-o

 

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Luckiest mom evah! Right here.

 

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Yaroslav. I can’t even explain to you how much I love this boy. The smile, the squinty eyes, the thumb-sucking. Too.Much.

 

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Micah! Someone see this boy. He is beyond precious. I have video and more pics. I’ll write more soon. But let me just tell you that our whole team is in love with this boy.

 

 

A Week in Photos: February 10th

Hi Friends!  Time to unload my phone again.  Every time I go to make a picture post I have to first delete like 50 or 60 pictures of Seth.  He’s a selfie-aholic.  Really.  We may have a problem. 🙂

Life here has been quite a ride lately.  Good times, hard times, happy times, scary times.  Mostly I just can’t believe this is my life.  I am the most blessed girl.  Not every day is easy- but sometimes it just hits me that the life I’m living is basically the life I’ve dreamed of since I was a tiny girl.  Wow.

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Our dear friends Andryi and Olya got married! Hava was the flower girl. It was such a fun party!!! We danced and ate and danced and ate. It was awesome. We are so happy for them!

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Addy and Nastya at the reception

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The bride and groom’s table.

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We had to take a jaunt to the Embassy. It felt really strange to be there. I realized it was the first time in 16 months that I didn’t feel guilty for speaking English in public. Wow.

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We need help. Professional help.

 

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My cousin Hannah is teaching English in western Ukraine this year. She came to Kyiv for a visit and then to our house! We ended up being in Kyiv on the same day. Super special!

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Last Tuesday our boy was doing really well. He definitely isn’t declining anymore. Now we just need to pray for more improvement in his health.

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Hannah and Addy. I love my family.

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Helping our boy keep his body safe.

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Seriozha and his accordion. I can’t even tell you what a blessing he is to the Boys- and to us! Ilya obviously likes it! 🙂

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Some friends from church came over to give us girls a “Beauty Night”. They did nails and cut hair and let my girls put makeup on them. It was so special.

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No boys allowed!