Wednesday, July 31, 2013

An Overdue Reunion


Our journey to form a family began 7 years ago when we decided to adopt our first child.  After considering different options we came to the conclusion that Russia is where we were going.  Both Sara and I had the good fortune of spending some time out of the country, but neither of us had traveled to a place like Russia. 
As the time to travel to meet our little guy grew nearer, the excitement for the trip was ever-present, as was the slight fear of the unknown about how the trips would go. Needless to say, we were very pleased when our agency told us that we would be traveling with another adoptive family while overseas, and not only just any other family, but a family that had previously adopted two children from Russia. 
We met the Colles on our first full day in Moscow and had the pleasure of traveling with them for each of our three trips necessary to bring Lleyton home.  We last had the pleasure of seeing them and their son Taggart, who was one of Lleyton’s roommates in their orphanage in Samara, on what was certainly a freezing cold day early in 2008 as we both departed from Moscow en route back to our homes in the States.  The Colles live outside of Denver.  We live outside of Cincinnati.  Which means that we haven’t had much of an opportunity to keep up with them as well as we would have hoped.   Hence, when they reached out to us a couple of weeks ago saying they were going to be driving through Cincinnati on vacation we jumped at the chance to get together with them and reunite our boys.   
The boys in December 2007
 
The boys now.
 
 
The boys clearly hit the ground running when it comes to enjoying hanging out together...as did all of the siblings.  Here's to hoping that we can have the pleasure of hanging with them again next year during their summer roadtrip.  

 
 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Happy 10th Birthday!

Single digits are in this guy's rear view mirror.
 

Living in fast forward...


…at least that’s what it feels like most days/weeks/months in our house.  Time is flying by and there always seems to be something going on, yet we are doing our best to slow down and enjoy the ride. 

As you will probably concur after taking a look at the pics below, the kids are growing like weeds (except Lleyton of course, as he’s still positioning himself to be a jockey when he gets a bit older). 

Parker is nipping at Sara’s heals and could soon hold the title of 2nd tallest person in the family.

Addy and Cam are on the fast track to catching Lleyton soon, but who knows, maybe our little guy will spring up there and find his way onto a growth chart of these days. 

This year, not surprisingly with 4 small children, has been quite busy.  We set out to sell our house early in the year and to our delight we were successful (now if we could only unload our two rental properties we’d be set).  We bid adieu to our old house at the end of May and “moved into” our new house at the same.  The quotation marks symbolize the fact that we did move in and are living in the house, yet there remain MANY boxes yet to be unpacked (thank heavens for a fancy dryer that gets the wrinkles out of my pants/shirts each morning, as cardboard boxes don’t prevent wrinkles as well as hangers).  Our goal was to have all of that taken care of prior to our departure on vacation a couple of weeks ago, but that didn’t happen. Ces la vie. 

 Parker wrapped up another baseball season recently, as did Lleyton.  Addy and Cam did their best throughout the season to not allow Sara and I to sit down during any one game for an extended period of time and succeeded. 

 This week marks the week that we took off a year ago to head to Seoul to bring Camden home.  Those memories are so vivid in our minds right now, as we yearn to someday get back there.  I miss Seoul….and Moscow and Samara…and Addis Ababa.

Through the first half of the year we have celebrated both Sara and I’s 34th birthdays, as well as Cam’s first birthday with us (his 3rd overall), Parker’s 10th birthday, as well as Addy and Parker’s anniversary dates of joining our family. 

 In my heyday I was able to find the time to jump on here and blog a few times a week, which worked out great, as it gave those close to us an idea of what we were up to while also allowing Sara and I to preserve memories that we can share with the kids as they grow older.  Now I’m not one that’s going to say that I am going to be able to get back to my glory days (it’s amazing how much less time you have with each additional child entering the mix) but here’s to hoping I can get back in some sort of swing of things. 

 
 
 


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Winter is back!

Santa Claus was nice enough to bring the kids sleds last year for Christmas and then the darnest thing happened, winter decided to skip by us leaving us without an opportunity to put the sleds to good use.  Thankfully, winter looks like it is going to make it presence felt this year, and yesterday we took full advantage of the conditions and bundled the kids up from head to toe and hit the local sledding hill.  Can you guess which kid was the most daring of all?

This guy was a mad man.  Time and time again flying down the hill without a care in the world.

 
That's not to say his two older brothers weren't doing the same, because they were.  Each of the kids had a blast.
 
 






 
At the end of the adventure, they each seemed a bit too eager to take a shot at me with a snowball.
 
 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Russian Officials Must Reconsider


Much of the last week has been spent celebrating Christmas with our family, and over the course of the next week or so we have other celebrations including our annual visit from Grandfather Frost.  For those that may not know, Grandfather Frost is to Russians, what Santa Claus is to us. 

Grandfather Frost never misses our house.  He knows there is a young Russian born boy that was one of the lucky ones and was taken out of a Russian orphanage and welcomed into a family that loves him beyond comprehension and he never fails to pay us a visit reminding us of the land where Lleyton was born. 

Lleyton came into our lives late in 2007.  It was this time 5 years ago that Sara and I were between our 2nd and 3rd visits to Russia, eagerly anticipating getting back there and bringing home the boy of our dreams.  That boy is just like the thousands of other children currently living in orphanages in Russia who did nothing wrong and deserve a shot at joining a family like ours.  The needs of those thousands of children just like Lleyton have been disregarded now that Russian officials have banned Americans from adopting from their country. 

I don’t feel like I can adequately describe the feelings Sara and I are having in wake of this news.  It physically pains me to think of those children, to think of those families just like Sara and I five years ago that are not going to be able to bring their children home, to think of the people that have dedicated their lives to the making a difference in the lives of children in orphanages throughout Russia.  Each of those thoughts are weighing on me. 

To say I am upset about this ban would be an incredible understatement.  

When I get home from work this evening my children will run and give me a hug as I walk through the door, each of them having joined Sara and I to form our family through international adoption.  If this ban remains in place, the likelihood that a child like Lleyton in Russia right now will ever have a dad to run to when he walks through the door is extremely slim. 

Something needs to happen.  

Join me in hoping that those children in Russia who yearn to be part of a family, rather than being sentenced to live in institutions, get that chance again. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Family Traditions

It’s a busy, yet really enjoyable time of year around our house thanks to the holidays. We set out over the past few years to establish traditions during this time of year that the kids could both look forward to and hopefully look back fondly on. In the past we had hoped to make the jaunt to a Christmas tree farm so that I could show off my muscles and cut down a tree for the family. Well, this year we made that happen, but my vision of it was a bit skewed. After searching through rows of trees, one better than the next while the kids did their best to stay within eyesight, we found the ONE.  It was like a scene out of Christmas Vacation as a light shone down upon the tree that was meant for our living room.

Thus, it was my time to shine.

I wielded the saw that was provided when we arrived at the farm and took the ground as the kids looked on in amazement (I didn’t actually see those looks, but I am certain they were there). I slowly but surely began bringing down the mighty pine. The slowly soon outweighed the surely, at which time I let Sara take over as I looked on in amazement. Thankfully, for my psyche, she allowed me to the be the one that made the final few passes before exclaiming “TIMBER!”. 

These two jumped in and were willing to help bring down the perfect tree as well.

 
As one tradition began, another one continued, as we took to decorating the tree together while I did my best to sing over the very talented Michael Buble. The kids love my singing.
 
 

After all of the decorating had taken place, and the tree was adorned with pictures and lights and ornaments, things settled down a bit before a new friend showed up. That friend being our newest Christmas tradition, The Elf on the Shelf, or better known in our house as Fisbee. Santa’s little helper has been closely watching over the kids each day and flying back to the North Pole by night to report to the big guy himself on the kids’ behavior. By the looks of what’s on the other side of the locked door in our basement, Santa has been pleased with what he has seen.

Here’s some of the things Fisbee has been up to around house.
 
 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Anatomy of a Good Family Picture

As I was scrolling through dozens of pictures looking for blog worthy ones for an upcoming post about our Christmas tree I came across these three that I felt exemplified how I go about getting decent pictures of our little ones. 

Behind every blog worthy pic, there are many more non-blog worthy pics. 

Trying to get the group together.

 
Parker looks like he has about enough while Lleyton tries to corral the his very active younger brother.

 
The one we were hoping for!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Look who's 6!

Six years ago today on what was almost assuredly a bitterly cold day in Samara, Russia Georgiy Valeryavich Ivanov was born.  You probably know him better as Lleyton. 

That's right, our little guy is 6!

Time flies. 
 
As usual, Sara worked her magic and created a fantastic birthday cake, and this guy loved it. 

 
  
 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thawing out.

A week or so ago, the weather was in the 70's and 80's around these parts, at which time we pieced together a plan to meet some friends at a local farm for some good old fashioned fall fun this past Sunday.  A hayride, a barn full of animals that may or may not like being petted, a hay bale playground, pumpkins, a corn maze, this place has it all.  Then the weather took a quick turn for the worst and temps dropped 40 degrees and the winds came too. 

Did that hamper our good time?  I think not. 

And we have pictures to prove it...

The very good looking crew

 
Addy and her best friend from school Jack


 
The incredibly large cows were quite happy to see we made it out on such a cold day.


 

 


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Keeping our streets safe.

Our Justice League was out in full force this evening. 
 
Rain or Shine, we knew they'd be out there, and they didn't disappoint. 
 
 



 

The phone call I will never forget.

Five years ago this week I recieved a phone call that I will never in my life forget.  Sara and I had yearned to start a family since the day we tied the knot and that dream became one HUGE step closer to reality on October 29, 2007. 

We had started the adoption process 10 long months earlier and had pretty much come to the conclusion that we wouldn't be getting that phone call we so wanted from our adoption agency until after the new year.  Hence when the phone rang with a 317 number and it was our agency director on the other line I was in a bit of shock.  As she spoke in her very thick Russian accent I feverishly jotted down any and all info I could decipher.  The magnitude of the fact that she was describing the boy that we had dreamt of was lost in that moment as I did everything I could to write down anything she could share.  I can't adequately describe the feelings I was having when on the phone with her, but I will certainly never forget how it felt. 

After hanging up I gathered myself for about a second and called Sara.  The only problem was that she was in the middle of a conference and was unreachable.  If I called her phone twice I called her a thousand times until she was finally able to pick up.  I can remember exactly where I was on the interstate as I pulled over to make sure that I relayed everything I knew about the boy that would soon become our son. 

His name was Georgiy Valeryavich Ivanov.
They called him Gorsha.
He was tiny.
He was born on December 4, 2006.
He lived in an orphanage in a city named Samara.
He had been diagnosed with many issues (which we found is common in Russia)
He spent the first couple months of his life in a hospital.
He was in good health now.

I rolled through each of these things with Sara on the phone as we each were in disbelief this was happening.  After hanging up with her I drove the rest of the way home in quiet, trying to digest the fact that we would be leaving for Russia very soon to meet a boy that we had never seen a picture of, yet who would undoubtedly become the Lleyton of our dreams. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

He said what?

As we were driving home from Parker's basketball practice this evening he said something that both floored me and didn't surprise me.

It went like this...

Parker: "I can't wait until next year."
Me: "Why so?"
Parker: "I get to do more homework.  I want to think."

Someone please remind me of this very brief conversation next year when Parker is entrenched in 4th grade homework.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Call me a late bloomer.

As I mentioned the other day while updating how the kids were doing, Lleyton has a little admirer at school.  By admirer I mean a little girl who has told him she wants to date him, kiss him, and marry him.  Knowing how much she likes him and how he describes the way they interact, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised this evening when he told me that he gave her his phone number. 

You read that right, my 5 year old son gave his number to a girl.  When I say his number, I mean my number.  So I am both dreading and excited about the prospect of this young lady calling.  I can only imagine how entertaining it would  be to watch our little guy converse over the phone with anyone, let alone a little admirer. 

I'm pretty sure I was 15 when a girl was interested enough to pick up the phone and call me, and my son has me beat by a decade.  Dare I say he's growing up a bit too fast, but it's easy to see what his friend sees. 

This little guy is the total package...

He's funny

 
He's very smart

 
He's helpful to a fault
 
 
 He's adventerous

 
And he's got some really cool siblings

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Look who's back!

The blog hiatus is coming to an end.  As was the case during the last long layoff from the blog, our absence wasn't attributable to lack of possible blog content, as we have had plenty going on, it was more about having too much happening to sit down and adequately write about it. 

Since coming home in July, Camden has struggled, mightily at times, with attachment issues.  To say these struggles were a surprise to us would be incorrect.  We knew that based on his situation in Korea that we were most likely in for a difficult adjustment...and we were right.  He has been home with us since July and I think we can now say that things are settling down a bit.  Does he still communicate with his fists more often than we would like to see?  Yes, but not as often as he did this time last month or the month before.  Does he sleep in his bed each night?  No, but there has been a night or two here or there where he does start and finish the night in his bed, rather than ours.  Helping make things a bit easier now is his continualy improvement when it comes to speaking English.  His ability to communicate in English is coming along ever so slightely. His first word was Parker, and now he has added Addy, Elmo, I wanna, Where's it at?, and a few other phrases to his repitoire.

Awhile back, sometime last year during our long wait for Camden to join our family, Sara and I listened one evening to a web cast put on by our adoption agency talking about what to expect after bringing your child home.  I admit that having been through it three times before I kind of figured I knew what it was going to be like.  I remember during the talk that we were told to expect the child to sleep in your bed for months after arriving home, as that is what the children are accustomed to in Korea.  Be it that our other kids haven''t slept in our beds very often, I just figured that would be the case for Cam.  I was wrong.   Many more nights than not our little winds up in our bed at some point during the night. 

All that being true, we have noted some marked improvement out of our little guy in last couple of weeks.

As for the other kids, they are doing great. 

Lleyton is settling into Kindergarten.  I would like to be able to report that he doesn't have a girlfriend, but I'm afraid I'd be mistaken.  Since about day 1 of school, he has come home telling us about one particular young lady.  This particular little lady must have older sisters or watch alot of TV, as Lleyton has reported to us that she tells him that she wants to date him and kiss him and marry him.  Never a dull moment.

Parker is as inquisitive as ever.  He's doing great in school and I couldn't be more happy, proud, and/or relieved to report that the major issues we were facing at the beginning of this year with our big guy have ceased.  He's wrapping another baseball season in the next couple of weeks just before embarking on another basketball season. 

Addy is Addy.  She's as cute as ever, all while mixing in some of her now trademark diva moments.  To say she's pretty and she knows it would be quite accurate.  She loves Dora, shoes, and anything purple...and her brothers. 

For those surprised to see us active again on the blog and checking in in hopes of seeing how big our crew is getting, here you go...