Friday, October 10, 2014

Photo time

As soon as I moved into the house and unpacked all the boxes, I had to get up decorations. It doesn't feel like a home without them!

I loved my last house in Ohio. It was beautiful and had a lot of character. I also had this notion that I needed to decorate my house in such a way that it appeared I didn't have children. Does that make sense? Everything clean and organized. No toys on the main floor. Pretty crazy and the upkeep was a constant battle. When I moved to our current home, I decided that I would go for FUNCTION and it has made my life easier, for sure. We have the laundry on the main floor - what a blessing! - instead of in the basement. I have one of those nifty laundry organizers with three sections to divide your laundry. Well - it's isn't hidden away - mainly because there's nowhere to put it! - but it's actually in the hallway. So you see it when you come into the house. With 7 people - laundry is happening on a daily basis. Also, 7 people = LOTS of shoes! So we put together a shoe rack which is ALSO in the hallway. Not something you would see on HDTV, but it works for me!

Lunch date with my new friend, Mary. She is super fun. 

Finally got a pedicure. Don't you just love the polka dots?

BIG WELCOME TO OLLIE, our new van. Tyler's truck, Clyde, went the way of all the earth so we thought a second van would look awesome in our driveway. 

I loved General Conference. We had a great time. Anna's friend, Keri, came over to make cookies. 

I made Borscht! Yum!

Keith was sick one night and threw up. He rarely get sick, so it is always a surprise when he does. He was most upset about missing school the following day, despite feeling just fine right after he threw up. I took him with me on a couple of errands and we went out for lunch together. The people who were to the restaurant were so kind to him. He always attracts kindness from other people.
Me and my boy. Keith loves to drink root beer.

These two are so similar, it's kind of crazy!

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

The power of prayer

My testimony of prayer has grown throughout my life. I remember being young and losing my glasses. We had family prayer to find them and then my mother wisely instructed me to focus on the inspiration the Holy Ghost would give me. Sure enough, the thought came to look under the bed and there I found my glasses. 

My good friend, Cherie, taught me to speak to Heavenly Father often in prayer - throughout the day, in whatever I was doing. I still do this and it is more of a play-by-play thing, such as "Did you see what I did there? Pretty silly, huh?" sort of communication. 

In the Bible Dictionary, it states that when we understand that we are a child of God, prayer naturally occurs. It only makes sense that we would want to speak to our Father in Heaven, as He created us and knows what we need to learn here on the earth so we can prove ourselves worthy and return to Him. 

This past weekend was General Conference. I especially enjoyed Elder Richard G Scott's talk, which spoke some about prayer. Here is the link to that talk:

I would describe myself as a worrier, with some level of anxiety over difficulties and potential scenarios of life. For the most part, I begin my prayers with things I am grateful for and end my prayers with requests for help. I have so many worries in life and I had never thought to share my worries with God. As I listened to Elder Scott's words, I determined that I would share my worries with Heavenly Father in prayer.

And so, yesterday when I was out running errands alone, I prayed aloud in my van. I listed off four or five things that worried me - both past and present. I was amazed at what followed. Not only did I feel peace and happiness, but I cannot even recall what the worries were that I mentioned. It is as if those worries were taken from my mind altogether. It was glorious and beautiful and it was a gift from God due to my communicating those worries with him. 

I am so grateful for that talk by Elder Scott which encouraged me to share "everything" with Heavenly Father. 

Today I was reading my scriptures in The Book of Mormon, and I came across this verse:

2    But behold, I was without hope, for I knew the judgments of the Lord which should come upon them; for they repented not of their iniquities, but did struggle for their lives without calling upon that Being who created them.

When I read the last phrase, I realized that have been struggling in my life due to not calling upon my Father in Heaven enough. I hope to remember this experience and reflect upon it often.  

Friday, September 26, 2014

Live in the moment

Death is something we know is coming. And yet, I am surprised when I hear of someone passing away. It's almost as if I forget that we are mortal. Recently, another trauma mama's husband died unexpectedly. I have contemplated how she must be trudging on, day-by-day, with her special needs children and no spouse to comfort her or share the load.

My dad passed away when I was twenty years old. I saw my mom struggle as she went about supporting our family financially and in every other way, too. I look at my dear husband, Tyler, and wonder how long he will be on the earth with me.

Tyler recently learned that he will be deploying something in the next 3 years. We were hoping he would avoid a deployment, but his commander thinks it would help him make rank and would look good on his record. I won't lie in saying that the idea of him being gone for 6+ months worries me. It's not the idea of him being gone, although that will be tough, it's the idea that he won't be coming back. Good men deploy and good men give their lives in military service.

Above all, I believe that God will not take us before our time on this earth is over. I just hope that Tyler still has a lot left to do here and that we will have many more years ahead of us, together. However, in case it is God's will to bring Tyler back to Him, I am trying to focus on serving my dear husband every day as if it is his last.

It seems logical that we should do this: live in the moment and bless our all loved ones as often as we can. Make their favorite meal, read their favorite book, take that trip to the park, show extra love and care. Our time here is short. One day I hope to look back and say that I focused on the important things: my family.

Families are forever.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Happy Birthday Grandpa Bob

Every year we celebrate my dad's birthday. This year he would have been 76 years old. I am sad that my husband and children never knew Grandpa Bob. He was a kind and loving dad to me. He encouraged me in anything I wanted to do and made me feel beautiful and capable. He also taught me how to sing in harmony from a very young age. Any errands he would need to go on, I was invited to join him and chat about life. He taught me the gospel of Jesus Christ and to memorize the articles of faith. He was an incredible missionary and he loved his Savior. I am so grateful for the legacy he left behind. We always have hot dogs, dr pepper, and spice cake - his favorites!

As this is my first year being gluten free, I had to adapt the recipes. Below is a gluten free spice cake and some gluten free rolls that I used as hot dog buns. They were both delicious, even I was pleasantly surprised how good they were. 

Roll recipe found here.

Recipe found here.

I looked up a simple cream cheese glaze online from Martha Stewart and it went nicely with the cake. 

Tyler reading some of Dad's poems. He wrote many wonderful poems. Here are a couple he wrote about me:

Dad drank Dr Pepper before he became diabetic, then it was on to Diet Dr Pepper.

This photograph was taken as we began fundraising to raise money for Dad's heart transplant. Unfortunately, the surgery was unsuccessful and Dad passed away. My son, Calvin, has the middle name of Robert and is named after my Dad. He, too, will have to face a heart transplant one day.

I will forever be grateful to this man who gave so much of his time to me. He wanted to know my thoughts, my interests, and he was the best cheerleader I could have ever hoped to have. I love you, Dad. I miss you everyday.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Endocrinology for Iryna

Today we met with the endocrinologist about Iryna. To my knowledge, this is the first time she has met with an endo since we first adopted her. I am concerned because Iryna doesn't seem to be growing very much, ie staying in the same size of clothing for more than 2 years, and also because she is beginning to develop in what looks like puberty. The idea of Iryna beginning menstrual cycles is enough to scare me, although I realize it will happen eventually. We went in to discuss the idea of growth hormone and possibly deterring the onset of puberty. After meeting with the doctor, he said she is not eligible for either growth hormones or preventing puberty. She is 10 years old and she is on par with where she should be, puberty-wise. He indicated that she *should* begin her cycles in a couple of years. He also stated that Iryna should reach the height of about 4 foot 10 inches...can you believe that?! My jaw about hit the floor. I knew she wouldn't be tall - but I somehow assumed she would reach at LEAST 5 feet. Ha ha. I guess we will have some "being short" related jokes in our household in the near future. This also answers my questions for endocrinology for Keith, Calvin, and Silas who are all short in stature. The doctor did say that I should try to fatten Iryna and the boys up by giving them milkshakes every night. So, we are going to give that a go.

Monday, September 08, 2014

What's new with Iryna

As you know, we've had a difficult summer, and Iryna has most certainly struggled as we have made major changes in her life. She was excited about the changes but they also overwhelmed her. Iryna has always allowed for me to be affectionate with her. If I asked her for a hug or for a snuggle, she would oblige. Sometimes she would have her arm between me and her when hugging me, sometimes not. I recognized that affection wasn't her strong point, but I know how important affection is for everyone so I made the effort to show it. Well, in the past two weeks, Iryna has come up to me and hugged me on her own. She has also asked me for a snuggle! I am excited for this progress!

Her hair is growing out some, although some people still mistaken her for a boy.

There are days when Iryna tries to control her impulses - and days where she doesn't. I don't know how to motivate her to WANT to overcome the impulses. I hope in time that she will find the motivation from within herself. She truly is a GOOD GIRL who has to overcome herself to improve. Such a struggle!

She seems to like her new school here, especially riding the bus with Keith. They are both in the same class, which I'm not exactly thrilled with - I think they might learn better being separated from each other as Iryna tends to baby Keith somewhat. 

Iryna has her own room, which I am thinking is a must for her. It consists of a queen mattress and box spring set in the middle of the room, some curtains - up high so she cannot reach them, a picture of Christ and the temple, a closet (with an alarm so she won't go in and break all the hangers or change clothes multiple times throughout the night) and a door alarm, so she won't go roaming the house unattended during the night. I recently bought The Clone Wars wall decals for the boys room and Iryna was very jealous, so I bought her some Super Mario wall decals for her room. She. Loves. Them. In fact, she asks to go up to her room so she can look at the wall decals - they are up high on the wall so she cannot reach them, otherwise she would try to remove them. 

Iryna still enjoys puzzles. Sometimes she rips the puzzle pieces apart, which is irritating. She has also removed the Mario sticker from our wii remote. It's not that she wants to keep the sticker or the tops of the puzzle pieces...she just wants to destroy them. Such an oddity that I still don't understand after six years. 

She loves Calvin AND is incredibly jealous of Calvin. Everyone in the room can be wearing shorts - or "leggies" as she calls them - but she will pout and say, "Only CALVIN!" and stick her chin out at him. It is bizarre. Now Silas is picking up on this habit. Ugh. 

Iryna is still underweight, despite my feeding her as much food as she wants. We are making an appointment with an endocrinologist to see about growth hormone. Anyone have any experience with that?

Iryna is still very oral and enjoys sucking on metal or hard plastic objects. I need to get her some more items to chew on. Any suggestions? Right now we have a few barrel of monkey monkeys that she likes. I took this video of her chewing on the monkey the other night. 


I think Iryna is making some progress. There are some things she has grown out of and I have learned how to prevent things from happening - like no more items in her room other than what is absolutely necessary. Motherhood can be challenging, but whenever Iryna runs up and gives me a hug? That is liquid gold. I love my Ukrainian princess!

Friday, September 05, 2014

Back to School

This summer has been rough on me. I had ideas of what the summer would hold, but life happens and we must adapt. I am grateful for the new memories I was able to make in Oklahoma with my family. My kids feel more close to them now than ever and still ask about them. Transitioning to the DC area has been difficult. There have been several times where Tyler and I both have felt like things were against us. We have had verizon fiber optic internet installed - which is supposed to be amazing - and we've had three servicemen out to figure out why it is super slow. Still no improvement there. The area we live in struggles with phone reception and service. We had to switch from AT&T because AT&T doesn't cover my neighborhood. It was sort of comical - people would call but I would only get voicemails on my phone. Imagine trying to set up utilities and doctor appointments but not being able to receive calls. So, we switched to Virgin mobile and now I get phone calls, but people say my voice is difficult to hear. So now we are trying to see if they can fix that or if we need to switch to yet, another cell phone carrier. 

Medical care has also been a beast. For one, the appointment line receptionists aren't nice - which is a first for me in my 9 years of Air Force medical care treatment. Second, our new PCM wasn't able to meet with us for the whole month of August. We got in initially to get Iryna's medication filled but after jumping through hoops over the course of 3 weeks, we had to get another appointment to get a written script so we could go to CVS to get it filled. We can't not have Iryna on meds. It wouldn't be pretty, folks. Another issue is getting referrals close to where we live, instead of the 90 minute commute that most referral locations want us to make. So far we have gotten two out of the several that I need nearby, but Anna has been out of her accutane for 6 weeks now and no dermatology appointment is even made yet. Frustrating!

Trying to enroll 5 kids in school, with 3 having IEPs, has also been interesting. The school administration decided to spread my 5 kids into 4 separate schools. Thankfully, all kids will be on a bus route. However, the first two days of school, they would only bus two of the kids. So I needed to drive the twins and Silas to their schools - both of which were 20 minutes away. Silas only goes half-day, so I was making three 20 minute commutes, which added up to 2 hours of driving per day and I was only getting 1 hour and 45 minutes of a break within all that. It was TOUGH. And our a/c is out in the van. I am not trying to complain (at least not consciously) but it's been so hard on me physically. It is hot outside and I am sweating a ton and trying to deal with new schedules and the stress that I feel multiplied by the stress my children feel with starting a new school year. Thankfully, today they got the twins and Silas on their bus routes - so no more commuting for me! Yippee! Today I get 4 1/2 hours of uninterrupted time. It is sweet bliss, I tell you. And here are the photos you're looking for of my 5 kids. Aren't they cute?