Friday, December 26, 2008

Nice hat!

So I was upstairs visiting with my daughter-in-law Caitlin and son Mark as Caitlin was nursing my new granddaughter, London... who is absolutely adorable, by the way. :) She had taken her nursing pad out of her blouse and set it on the bed. If you're not familiar with these, they are just simple cotton circles about 4" in diameter. Jasmine walked up to Caitlin and London and saw the nursing pad. She placed it on top of London's head! She thought it was a hat!!!!! I WISH I had a picture of London with a nursing pad on her head!!! ;)

Here's a cute pic of Sophia with her little pig tails! It's the first time she's had long enough hair to attempt them. :)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What's the magic word??

So here's a quick little blog for ya.

We're having dinner tonight, Winston, Jasmine, Sophia and me. Jasmine, who is turning four in March, has become quite demanding at times. She knows the way to be polite, but sometimes gets it in her head that she can get what she wants HER way. She put her hands on her tiny little hips and said "Mommy, get me my chocolate milk now!" Well, that's not going to happen. There is no way I am getting her chocolate milk until she asks the right way.
So I redirected her to ask politely and respectfully. So, she changed her body language and softened her tone. She said "Mommy, I want some chocolate milk to drink." I said, "What is the magic word?" She looked at me with her big blue eyes and said "Hocus Pocus." I thought Winston was going to spit out his dinner with laughter. I love my kids so much!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas to All, and to all a Good night!

We have had a whirlwind of a year. We have been blessed with a new daughter from Kazakhstan Our first grandson was born prematurely during our trip to Kazakhstan, so we learned of his birth through the grapevine from emails!!! That was crazy! :-)
I began homeschooling our daughter Martina this year. At times, it is a real struggle, but it's also a huge blessing. I LOVE spending the days together with her instead of driving back and forth to school. And then just this month, we got a new daughter-in-law and a new granddaughter! It's been a VERY busy year!!!
Above all, we are so grateful to have Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, in our lives! He is THE reason for this season.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Welcome London Pike!!!

Wow!! What a great day! We got to see our granddaughter, London, just minutes after she was born into this world. She is so wonderful; she's beautiful and is very content. We love her soooooo much!! Our daughter-in-law Caitlin had a wonderfully blessed time with her delivery and is doing well. Daddy, Mark, is beaming with joy and love. They will be wonderful parents. They are both very tired after the day's events, but will sleep well in their Tempurpedic bed that's in the hospital! It's a full-sized bed AND it's a massage and incline-bed!! Holy smokes... jokingly, I asked the nurse if I could check in tonight. :)
I also got to talk to Daniel and Kristin, Daddy and Mommy of Ezekiel. He's also adorable, and is doing very well! We love him sooooo much too!!
Jamie, along with a friend of mine named Karen, saved the day! I needed a baby sitter and Karen stayed for a while, then Jamie came in and finished out until we got home! She is having grandchild #3 in about 8 weeks!!!! I love him (baby Hudson) soooooo much too!!!!! :)
Enjoy the photos of our day.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A new Pike and another any day

Here are pics of our son Mark and Caitlin at their wedding!!! I love my new daughter-in-law, we're so blessed to have such wonderful daughters-in-law!!! We have three of them now!!! Caitlin is due with our 2nd grandchild any day now! :-) Ezekiel is our first one, but we haven't gotten to see him yet :-( we love you Ezekiel!!!!!
More later....

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Amelia Bedelia hits Pike Valley Farm

When I think of it I will be posting my favorite quote of the day from one of my children. Today's inaugural quote is from Jasmine:
My favorite quote of the day: "Uh oh, I think she has energies". This was what Jasmine said when one of our dogs sneezed.

Jasmine, my three year old is wonderful. It is probably my favorite age. They're so funny, I just love the way their minds work at this age. That's why I took Early Childhood Education as a specialization in my Elementary Ed degree all those years ago. :) I remember this age even with my two older ones, who are now 15 and 11. And I have a two year old who will likely bring me as much entertainment in about a year as the other three have already done. Not to mention all the grandchildren I have (or am about to have). ahhh
So anyhow, Jasmine was wanting to help do the laundry the other day. I use that term "help" very loosely. It's like when Sophie, my two year old, wants to "help" with the dishes. It makes a 15 minute job about a 30 minute job. But, it's all good. :-)
Back to my pile of laundry. I taught Jasmine how to fold various things, such as a hand towel, wash cloth, and dish towels. She felt very proud of herself when she made it resemble mine. She would carefully fold, sometimes folding the wrong way so that it would look like a man's tie... but she would see the error of her ways and correct it. She was feeling very proud. When I had finished with the rest of them, she had a small pile that had her name all over them. The edges didn't meet up, they were crooked in every sense of the word. A person with OCD couldn't have dealt with it! My mom, sister and 11 year old daughter, would have 'fixed' them for sure. But I resisted and thanked her for her help and told her what a great job she did. I asked her to go and put the washcloth and hand towel under the sink in the bathroom. She returned in about a minute, and I sent her into the kitchen with the hand towels. I told her to put them in the towel drawer in the kitchen. Again, she felt so accomplished, she was beaming! I just love this age.
So, fast forward a few hours. I had finally put Sophie down for her nap and had a chance to run to the bathroom... I seem to 'hold it' way too long if I get busy with the kids. My bladder is amazing sometimes! lol So as I am sitting down, I looked straight ahead at Jasmine's Amelia Bedelia moment. I had asked her to put the hand towel and washcloth under the sink. I didn't say "put it in the cabinet which is under the sink." She had neatly folded them and placed them very carefully under the entire cabinet and on the floor, which was under the sink. Oh my goodness, it was so funny! I guess you had to be there. Did I tell you how much I like this age?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Oh, Shymkent!!! I can't believe Obama won!!!

Thanks for sending this pic of me, Jamie!!!

I hope this isn't going to offend anyone, but that's sort of what blogging is all about, right? It's about saying what's on your mind, what you're up to, and how to fix the world in one's humble opinion. :-)

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'd know that there's a joke behind my "Oh, Shymkent!" title... go back to July and you'll understand it better. :-)

My eleven year old woke up this morning and asked me immediately who won and my reply was "just go back to bed for the next 3 or 4 years, and it will be okay." and she laughed. She told me later that she had a dream she was on the Titanic... and I said "that's called 'Obama won', honey". Again, she laughed. She brought me all her money she had saved up from her allowance to help out since she knew things were going to get much worse, economically speaking. She's heard things on the news over the last several months. But apparently, my eleven year old knows more than a little more than half of American voters.

I cannot believe that so many voters went for Obama. I am dumbfounded that so many people have been duped! Did anyone hear about the Ayers story?? Did anyone listen to Revered Wright??? Did anyone hear about how he wants to raise the death tax????? Did anyone know that it's not been proven that he was even born in the United States? Did anyone hear that he has very LITTLE experience and will not be able to protect us??? Did anyone notice how the stock market went down another 5% today after the election results... after it had gone up for several days? And just tonight I read, according to the Associated Press, that Russia is going to send missiles to counter the U.S.

"Russia will deploy short-range missiles near Poland to counter U.S. military plans in Eastern Europe, President Dmitry Medvedev warned Wednesday, setting a combative tone that clashed with global goodwill over Barack Obama's election."

Yeah, goodwill. I have heard over and over again that people like that he has been elected and that a lot of people think it's because he's going to be a push-over when it comes to defense and military. Holy Shymkent, I cannot believe we're in this place!!!! I will not be watching much news now, I used to love Fox News. I am annoyed with McCain and Palin at their poor campaign choices. My sister, a friend of mine (Jim) and I could have run a MUCH better campaign for them! (this is the saving the world part in my humble opinion).

Apparently, there is a bumper sticker out there that has a big "O" in white on a black background and then is says in small letters sh*t... I would get one that says "O" and then Shymkent in small letter. It's really funny! At least there are some people keeping a good sense of humor about this!! lol

It's just that he is so far LEFT (wrong) and I am so far RIGHT (right!)!!! LOL

Finally, I must say that I know that God is sovereign over all the nations, over all things. We'll be okay. As one of my friends sent me in an email this morning, No matter who wins the election......

No Matter Who wins the Election:

1. The Bible will still have all the answers.
2. Prayer will still work.
3. The Holy Spirit will still move.
4. God will still inhabit the praises of His people.
5. There will still be God-anointed preaching.
6. There will still be singing of praise to God.
7. God will still pour out blessings upon His people.
8. There will still be room at the Cross.
9. Jesus will still love you.
10. Jesus will still save the lost when they come to Him.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Trick or Treat!

Here are a few fall and Halloween pictures I thought I should share. I have to tell you, Sophie was so cute trying to figure out Halloween! You could tell that she was just like "okay, let me get this straight. I'm going to put on this costume that makes me look like a bee and then I get free candy??? I'm in!"

Jasmine was a Pooh Bear since they like honey so well, and her sister was a bee. ;-)


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bionic Woman

Okay, I know that many of you who read my blog are WAY too young to know what the heck I am talking about! Back in the seventies or so, there was a show called the Bionic Woman. She had "bionic" parts, like her hearing and other things; it's rather vague in my mind because I was 10 at the most in the seventies. :-)
So I am a bionic woman because I got my new pacemaker on Tuesday! Here's a pic of me I took of myself with my phone. I'm a dork, I know. LOL

Here's how the surgery went, I'll tell on myself.
The doctors came into my room and talked to me and Winston about my surgery. They were rather grim, because they were not sure of the best option. One option was to just change the pacemaker itself and that's it. That would be okay but one of the wires I have in my heart isn't conducting as well as it should. Instead of 7 mHz, it was only transmitting 2mHz (I think it was mHz).
Another option would be to extract one of the leads from my heart and put in a new one. The problem is, I have 4 wires or leads, in my heart right now. They said that the vein they had them in was occluded. Four wires in one vein is too much and there is no room left for even much blood to flow through. Two wires have been in there for 20 years and then they were recalled. So they put in two more leads about ten years ago. The bad thing is, by removing a wire that has been in the heart for that long cannot be removed without significant risk. They had another O.R. waiting in case I began to bleed out and they had to cut my chest open. Whew! While we were talking about all this, Winston got a phone call from Jordan, a guy who works on our farm and has become family to us. Anyhow, he took the call! The doctors stopped talking about it and just looked at me-- they put their hands up in the air as if to say "what the heck?". We laughed and when Winston got off the phone, we decided. We told the doctors to evaluated once they got in the surgery to see if they felt the 'bad wire' could conduct enough shock to keep me going. Hopefully I will not need to replace them before my next pacemaker, which should be in about 10 years.

Once I was in the O.R., the team had been assembled. There were about 8 all together. They gave me oxygen, put on my EKG electrodes, and the large pads on my chest and back that can shock you if you go into cardiac arrest. (These pads are like 4x7 inches). One of the nurses yells to me across the room, "Honey, how much do you weigh?". Keep in mind there are like 8 people in the room! I said to her in a joking voice, "Oh, well I can't tell you until you give me an intercom. I think 8 people in the room is not a large enough audience, I should announce it to the whole hospital!" They all got a good chuckle.
They administered the sedative in my I.V. and I began to get sleepy; I saw the cardiac monitors doing a little dance. It was taking effect. I said "okay.... goodnight. My monitors are dancing around, so I think I'm on my way out. See you on the flip side". Again, a chuckle, and the next thing I know, I'm in recovery with my husband at my side. :-)


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I'm a loser

Okay, here's a picture of me and Sophie a few weeks ago. I just thought many of you are craving a Sophia pic! :)

I'm a loser. Many of you would agree. But I'm talking about I've lost 10 pounds since I have been sick! :-)
I got a fever and stomach pain on Saturday October 4th and today, the 14th of October, is the first day I've been without a fever since! I spent an evening in the ER and 2.5 days in the hospital. Sunday and Monday all day, my fever was 103 F. Eating Jell-O or drinking water made me cry out in pain. It was agony, I tell ya! Agony!

On Monday evening I called my doctor's office and told them what was going on, and they told me to go to the ER. By the way, did I mention that I was supposed to get my pacemaker replaced Monday morning??? Well, needless to say with a fever, they wouldn't do it. I had to cancel. I was told from one doctor in the ER that I had ulcers. I said "but that wouldn't cause a fever". And his response? "well it could" in a really dumb kind of voice. lol At least that is how I remember it. Anyhow, putting that medical degree to good use! "Well it could". Geesh! They told me to go to my family physician the next day; they said they didn't like sending me home with a fever after having it for 72 hours.

So, I made an appointment with my family doc. He's awesome, his name is Dr. Duncan. He knows a lot and has a really good bedside manner too. That is sometimes more important to me than their skill-but he's got both! Yay, Dr. D!

He said he thought it was either a fever blister or thrush in my esophagus. Either would have been a pretty rare thing. He said it was a guess at this point because it be a very long time to get an appointment to get a scope down my throat. So he scheduled me for a barium swallow on Thursday, gave me 3 different kinds of medicines and sent me home. I was relatively satisfied because I trust him. The medicines were to be taken 4 and 5 times a day. I literally cried when I had to take it. I couldn't drink water without crying! When it would get close to time to take my medicine, I would watch the clock and begin to fret; I knew how much it would hurt. I didn't want to take the pills. I would hold the pills in my mouth with a swig of water, trying to coax myself to swallow them. I would psych myself up for it. "Okay, one, two, three, GO. Okay. One, two three, GOOO! Oh! I can't! Okay, yes I can. One, two threeeeeee...." You get it. It was awful.

So I went to bed on Wednesday night with fever still at 101 F and aching badly. I still couldn't swallow water or food. It had now been 4.5 days since I'd had food! The good news? I was dropping a pound or two, I could tell. I went into my dressing room to brush my teeth. I could tell that I had some soreness in my gums, but who knew something else was wrong? Everything on my body was aching, I thought it was part of the sick-deluxe package. :-) I looked in the mirror as I was preparing to go back to my bed. I couldn't get over how nasty my hair looked, how can a woman approaching 40 have greasy hair?? I began to brush my teeth and I looked in my mouth! White spots! Thrush!!! I thought I now had the answer to my stomach/esophagus pain. I couldn't eat or drink the next morning anyhow because I was due to get my barium swallow test. I looked it up online and found that adults usually don't get thrush unless their immune system is compromised. Hmm. What is going on with me??

The next morning I called for Dr. D at 6:15am, knowing that I needed to cancel my in-laws' trip over if I didn't need to get my procedure. I spoke to another doc because mine wasn't on-call until 7:00am. He suggested that I not go in until I got ahold of my doc. I waited until he came in and called him. He listened to my story about the thrush in my mouth and asked about my fever. He said he would call off my procedure and that he would call in some new medicine at 9:00. I agreed and hung up. He called me back about 10 minutes later and told me that he and other docs had a "conference" about me. He said that I needed to come in to the hospital and check in. He said that having a fever that long was not right and I need to get there that morning.

When I checked in, I learned that I had lost about 10 pounds! Whoohoo! Too bad I was too sick to care at the time. :-)
The nurses had a tough time getting in the IVs because I was so dehydrated. All in all, I have 10 holes/bruises on my arms. On Friday morning, they did a scope down my throat. The doctor found that I had viral ulcers on my esophagus and in my stomach. He said they were deep and to the nerve. He explained that is why I had such a high fever and big pain. He prescribed medicine and said it would take a total of ten days. I was already through 6 of them, I'm on the downhill side now! Wheee!

I still couldn't eat anything, so they gave me the medicine in my IV. Friday night the IV medicine was burning really bad! I hesitantly pushed the nurse call button. She came in and said it was fine. About ten minutes later, paged her again; I was ready to rip that IV out of my arm! It was swelling really big and felt like hot molten lava under my reddened flesh! When she returned she seemed a little annoyed but then one look at my arm and she apologized and brought ice and cold wash cloths to soothe it after she removed the huge stinger, known as an IV. The problem was, it was no longer in the vein, it was delivering the medicine under the skin. It didn't feel like medicine, it felt like poison! I still have a large bruise to show as my hospital battle scar. lol

On Friday night, I finally ate a popsicle! It hurt but I was ravenous at this point. I ate it despite it's stabbing pain. It tasted so good!

Saturday morning, I was released from the hospital. The discharging doc told me to make an appointment with my regular doc next week because he feels that my immune system is compromised; otherwise, I wouldn't have gotten so sick, kept a fever so long, or had thrush. I continue to feel better each day.

I am out of town with our youngest daughter, Sophie, at 4 days worth of doctor's visits and tests. I will return on Friday night and see my doctor on Monday, get my pre-op testing and then on Tuesday get my pacemaker. The thing is about that, I have to get the leads replaced! And as for me being a "loser"... I'm sure I'll pack it back on in no time. LOL

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

On second thought....

I thought I had things sorta figured out, but on second thought....

I have many people ask me on a regular basis "how's Sophie doing??" with hopeful anticipation. I happily reply to nearly everyone "Wow! I can't believe how well she's doing! You'd never even know she's new to the family or to America!"
Just when we're settling in really well (we've been home for 2 weeks now) then something weird happens to remind you that you've only been home for two weeks now. :-)
I was in Kroger Grocery store and all was going fine. It was our second trip to a grocery store in two weeks' time. I had my 3 year old bio daughter in the little car in the front, my daughter Sophie, 2, in the cart by the handle. The nicest "old guy", probably around 75 or so (no offense to anyone nearing that age!) gently pulled the cart closer to him to load the bagged groceries. It was only about 1 foot or so, and backwards she goes, away from me! Only by a foot or so. She freaked out. She screamed, everyone in the store looked at us. I remember thinking "this is an event I will remember for a long time". I scanned each face gawking at us; each had a combination look of horror and annoyance. Her small body trembled as I tried to console her and comfort her. Her tears made my shoulders damp. This went on for about 2 minutes, although it seemed like an eternity. The "old guy" felt terrible. He apologized at least a dozen times; I felt like at this point, I must tell him. I put my hand on his shoulder and looked at him in the eyes; he looked tearful himself. I said "Sir, please don't worry about it. You did nothing wrong. She's adopted and we've only been home with her for a couple of weeks, and when you pulled the cart toward you and away from me, she thought someone was taking her away from me. It's nothing you could have predicted." He seemed to understand, but apologized again.

As we left the store, I could instinctively feel the eyes laying on my family. They had witnessed something terribly significant in our lives, although to them, it was likely a fleeting moment of a toddler disrupting their shopping experience.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Electric slide....

The electric comes from Kyrgyzstan, a country south of Kazakhstan. So apparently, every day for about 2-3 hours they have planned blackouts. In the middle of the afternoon, the electric goes out. If you happen to wander into the heat, today was 122, you'll find that it's the norm here. Nobody is acting like it's a big deal at all. The grocery store that is on the first floor of our apartment building, simply writes down each and every purchase and uses a calculator. There are a few stores who have decided to beat the system and have bought or rented generators for these two-three hours per day. So, did I mention that the temperature was 122 yesterday?? Yeah. No air conditioning, no TV... good times, good times.
Now maybe I don't know how this stuff works back in the US, but it's never occurred to me that someone would "import" electricity. The real kicker is it seems that this is not only expected, but it's anticipated by the locals that it will get much more frequent and longer as the summer continues. Nice.

Speaking of electric, I must tell you about our utilities situation in our apartment. First of all, you know the guys that drive around in the nice trucks to come check your water meter or electric meter? At home in KY, because we have such a huge dog, the electric guys don't even have to get out of their truck. They have a remote control reader!!! Anyhow, no such device here (there's a big surprise). The other night, an elderly lady came knocking at our door. It was Sunday night at 9:30. She was the "meter maid" and read our water and electric! LOL The hot water is random in this apartment. When we got showers here, it would be scalding hot and with less than a second's notice, it would turn ice cold!!! It was enough to make a nun cuss!!! LOL Anyhow, Winston figured out how to make it a bit more consistent while in the shower. First you go to the kitchen, where the electric hot water heater is located. Then you turn on the kitchen sink water, pray it gets warm. When it doesn't get warm, you turn it off, and wait a few seconds. Turn the faucet back on to the assumed "hot" position, and wait. Repeat about 9 times. Eventually, the hot water will become hot enough to take a shower. But you MUST leave the kitchen sink running the entire time. By the way, when you get out of the shower, you will then notice a considerable amount of water that has accumulated on the floor. That's because it leaks. Nice, I know. You wish you were here.

The hot water heater shares a plug with the microwave, which sits on a small wooden 'bench'. The bench is too small and will topple over if not careful, or if you have a 2 year old in the house. Wait a minute, we have a 2 year old in the house! That's how I know it will topple over!!!! And therefore, any food you might have had parked in the middle of the microwave has now dispersed to various corners of the microwave. There is a microwave, but not one microwavable dish! Not one. The plates have metal on them, and there are no plastic or glass dishes, plates, etc... And the hot water heater must be unplugged in order to make room for the microwave to be plugged in. Please see attached picture. :-)

I will need to take a photo of the pipes that are dangling above on every street. I will post it hopefully tomorrow.

Peculiar place....

To say that this is a peculiar place is an understatement. I think I've talked about the corruption that seeps out of the pores of this country. I have talked about the bread being sold from the trunk of a car (no wrappers on it), the way I've seen a sheep in the back of a car in the middle of town, the way you can get a pack of gum as change, or buy three diapers at a time.
I haven't talked about a few other things that are "strange", but maybe it's just strange to us, as Americans; so, here are a few observations. There are traditional, older Kazakh women who are randomly scattered on the streets, parking lots, etc... and they sell various things to eat or drink. You get a bowl of some sort of traditional concoction dipped out of a bucket. The bowls are regular bowls like would be in our kitchens. After the customer eats the food, it gets rinsed out in another bucket (along with all the other bowls of the day) and placed back out as "clean" for the next customer. This is sort of like fast food here in Kazakhstan. In this photo, a man who took some time for lunch during a work day stopped to get some food from this lady, including courld which is like a salted curd ball (like cheese I think) and mare's milk. yes, Mare's milk. (I shutter to think of drinking it) Many of you know that I was a vegetarian for most of my life, and then once we began farming, started eating meat again. At this point, I would be SO happy to see a McDonalds!!! LOL By the way, I asked for their permission to take their photo. They were happy to oblige.

Some of them make a drink from various fruits, vegetables, and grains. There are some people, mostly women, who have an ordinary bathroom scale, usually decorated with various stickers, and they charge you to use it. I think bathroom scales are a luxury here, so you might as well just pay from time to time. Keep in mind, this is just on random street corners, parks, etc... None of these "enterprises" are regulated by health/safety/food quality kind of people like would be at home. If you get the notion to set up a stand somewhere, more power to you.
There is very little rain here, but the mountains provide water for a long hot summer. There are concrete ditches that have valves in them, and we've seen people go and open up the valves to fill their water bottles. The other day, while we were waiting to cross the street, a man was filling a water bottle. The water was spraying Jasmine and Winston; I saw the sunlight catching the millions of droplets as they shot over the man and onto my husband and child. I have to say, it was pretty amusing, but definitely peculiar.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Three Diapers at a time... and Let's Go for a Ride!!!!!

Things are strange here, no doubt about that! There are times you go to a restaurant or grocery store, and they will give you back your change in money (tenge) but sometimes if they're a little short, they'll give you gum, matches, or the best one to date: Winston got 3 calcium pills as change at the pharmacy today!!!! How funny is that???

But one of the earliest and funniest things I noticed in Kaz is the thing I like to call "Three diapers at a time" situation. Oh, let's take anything you would buy in America in bulk for example. A PACK of cigarettes (I don't recommend these, but they are popular). Well, here you can buy ONE cigarette at a time! Okay, let's take Tide. I seriously think I buy a 64 load bottle or box of Tide at home. The good news is, they DO have Tide here. The bad news is, you must buy a teeny tiny box of it. It does three loads of laundry. Then down to the store you go again to buy more. Diapers. Here, nearly everyone refers to them as Pampers. Doesn't matter the brand, it's always Pampers. So why on earth would one buy a box at a time? I think I've bought as many as 104 at a time (the newborn size). Here, it's very very common to buy one or two diapers at a time. When you buy them, you ask for the size, say Pampers and tell them how many you want. In our case, we went crazy! We didn't just get one or two, but THREE diapers at a time!!! Woah! We're rebels!

And finally, I must share a few photos with you all. Our friends, Brad and Steph, and Jenn and all of us went to the zoo today. Any one of you who knows our daughter Jasmine knows that she is crazy about the zoo. I took her and Martina the week before we left for Kaz and she has told nearly everyone she's met in Shymkent about all the animals she saw there. Not just about one or two, but all of them! lol So anyhow, we're heading out to the zoo with our driver/translator/coordinator and she is NOT a good driver. That is important to note not so much for this story but in the general sense that if we make it back in one piece, it's nothing less than a miracle. And so the story goes... We had 9 people, including the driver/translator/coordinator girl, and three kids ages 3 and under. (By the way no car seats are used here! Grrrr) The car is nice, but not huge by any means. SO, Brad volunteered to ride in the back all the way from our apartment to the zoo!!! I laughed so hard. So here are a few pictures to let you in on the fun. Please note the photo of the caged bear.... note any similarities?? I'm just sayin'. ;-)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A lesson in the Russian language

Okay, if you didn't read the previous post about the rainstorm, please go down and read it first.

No, seriously. If you didn't you should read it first and then come back up here.

Okay, I'm trusting that you've read it....

last chance................

So, without getting graphic here, I am going to tell a funny story on my daughter Sophie. She'll shoot me for this one day, but it's soooo cute! So Winston and I are sitting on our bed in the mid morning hours talking. Sophie was in there running amuck carrying blocks around or something that a two year old would do. She stopped dead in her tracks and held on tight to the footboard. Uhoh, I thought. I think she's gonna have a bowel movement!!! They've been really nasty, so as she stood there bracing herself, I figuratively was bracing myself for what I would have to endure only moments later. Sure enough, we heard those unforgettable noises... the kind you hear when your kids blow on each other's tummies and giggle for five minutes. But there was no giggling piercing the air. Not yet. The only thing piercing the air at this point was a retched smell!!! I looked and her and told her it was okay (I think they maybe got punished at the orphanage if they went in their pants). She did have a diaper on afterall. I'm no dummy! This isn't the first baby I've raised. :-)
So anyhow, I quietly and sweetly said "Uhoh! Did you poopy?" and she looked at me with those gorgeous brown eyes, with her eyebrows raised and simply said "Kaka" which is Russian for "poop"!
Oh, my gosh I thought I would die laughing inside. I may have giggled a bit but I was dying inside! The other funny part of this is, they told us at the orphanage that she couldn't speak and that she would be 3 before she would say anything. She will be 2 tomorrow. And I will have to tell her that the first real word we heard her say was "kaka".

Now, back to that story I posted yesterday. I supposed the answer is "oh, kaka! where are my wipers????"

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Oh, Shymkent! It's Raining!!!

So Jenn, Brad and Stephanie and our family all got together yesterday evening for some pizza... NOT like home, but for here, it's good food. Anyhow, Jenn was leaving our apartment and came back about 20 seconds later. It was raining outside!!!! Now, you must understand what an event this is. We've been here since June 11th and it's sprinkled 3 times for about 1-2 minutes each. That's it. So rain is crazy here! Jenn told us to go to the window and look at it... it was driving rain and even some lightening! Wow!! It was kind of exciting. So Stephanie and I were looking out the window to the street below at all the cars and I thought of something funny. It rains here like 6 times a year, Jenn said. So I told Steph "I'll bet they're all like, 'crap! where's my wipers switch???' " And then I said "I wonder how you say "crap" in Kazakh?" Then Winston said he thinks it's "Shymkent" and we all chuckled. So as far as we know, they say "Oh, Shymkent! It's raining! Where are my wipers???"

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Meet our Kazakh Beauty

I am going to post a couple of pictures here of our daughter. She's sweet and smart. She's a different child since she got out of the orphanage! She's doing great!!!! We got official custody of her on my birthday!!! (the 19th). What a praise and HUGE blessing for me! She has not had any issues whatsoever yet. Her only food issue is that she doesn't like a big variety of foods I've found yet. They told me she'd eat anything! Not at all true. She does give it a good effort though. :-) She sometimes backs away from a food and cries, but she stops as soon as I stop offering it to her. She likes the yogurt, bananas, juice, cookies, crackers. So far, that's about it.
I keep bracing for the worst and praying for the best. She's acted as if she doesn't even remember the orphanage!!! She has blossomed even more here at the apartment in these last 4 days even. It's been unbelievable. I am amazed at her skills she was holding back on us in the orphanage!! She does most things that are age appropriate, I can't think of anything off the top of my head that seems delayed at this point. It's mostly experiences she hasn't had. She had never held a crayon or anything like that. In the BH she would look at it and toss it. Now that she's been around them, she scribbles with it! Yay!
I will post more later about her, but wanted to get these pics up.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Playing Doctor with the Baker's Man

Now that I've got your attention by the title of my post, I'll explain. My asthma has been really bad here because of pollution, dry air, etc... I've had to get medicines here, after Skyping my doctor back home. They told me what to get but said they can't write a prescription. Not a problem!!! Here, you simply go into any pharmacy and tell them what you want. You pay for it and get on with your life. You don't even have to have it written down. you just tell them. The same goes for medical testing. You don't even make an appointment, you just go in and tell them you want an ultrasound, an x-ray, or an MRI, or whatever, and you're done. An x-ray is $5.00, an MRI is around $100. You get your results immediately too. No waiting around, you just get them handed to you right away. Now, having said all that, the healthcare system here is not even close to what we have in the states. You just hope and pray you don't have any major medical issues while in-country. If you do, you might be straight out of luck. It's interesting to say the least.
There are people who go to the back of apartment buildings and yell or speak over a megaphone about the fruits or vegetables they have for sale. One day a man with a horse pulling a cart of watermelons was behind ours. Another day, there were women with buckets of apricots.
I saw a guy with a sheep in the back of his car (a live sheep) in the middle of town. It was a pretty funny sight! Here's a picture.
Pat a cake, pat a cake baker's man. Bake me a cake as fast as you can. And don't put any sugar in it; make it as bland as possible. That's what the rest of the nursery rhyme would be here! ha ha! And also, some other interesting findings; they put out big cardboard boxes of cookies and you just reach in and get what you need. No gloves or tongs required. I was completely sold AGAINST the idea, when I saw women pick up cookies, and then toss them back into the box.
I see on a regular basis people pulling up to markets with loaves of bread they have brought in the back of their car. No Tupperware, no bags, just stacks of bread on the floor of their trunk. And another day I saw a store employee with a whole shopping cart full of loaves of bread. But they were not wrapped up; they were just in a cart all by their lonesome. And then she grabbed a loaf with her hand, again, no gloves. The cart was just one that was from the front of the store.
It's funny in comparison that our local Kroger store in Kentucky has antibacterial wipes beside the shopping carts so you can wipe them down before you begin pushing them.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A glimpse

Here's our daughter Sophie; it's just her ear, but it is all I can do for those of you who are so hungry for pictures! :-)
Once we get custody of her, about a week from now, if I have any time, I will be able to post a whole photo! :-)
Today when she came into the bonding room, she ran towards me!!!! The nurse said that this morning when she got her dressed, that she was all happy, as if she knew she would get to see us. Then they took her upstairs (not sure what is upstairs) before we got there and she started crying for her mama! :-) AWwwwwww..... how sweet is that???
We had a lot of fun with her today, but I think that the longer this goes, the harder it becomes. The thing is, she is ours. Technically, she was ours on the 4th of July! But we must wait until they get their "paperwork" done. I wonder about the legitimacy of this "paperwork" but they hold all the cards. We must wait.
And to be honest, I just want to get home in the worst way!!! I want to be in my own bed at night. I want to get Sophie to know her home and her family. I want to see all my kids; I want to get on with my life. I cannot wait to leave and begin the 'rest of the story'.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


We went to court yesterday to petition to ask to adopt our little girl. It was very interesting because first of all, it was all in Russian and Kazakh. We had a translator there who filled us in. The judge had a nice face and I thought he looked kind; I had it in my mind that he was a good man with a good heart. He asked us 4 questions. Here, the husband answers and the woman sits quietly! This was very difficult for me not to talk! lol If you know me, you're smiling and shaking your head "yes" right about now!
So, Winston answered the 4 questions short and sweet. There was a bit of a funny moment during our court procedure when he asked how many children we have. Winston said "we have three who live at home, three who are grown and out of the house." and then the judge looked up and said in Russian "And you want a SEVENTH???" I couldn't help myself and let out a giggle and a smile, and Winston said yes, as I shook my head in agreement! He had a look like "O-key dokey!" and sort of shrugged his shoulders! It was pretty funny in such a serious setting. Anyhow, within 5 minutes he said "congratulations on becoming parents---AGAIN". A huge relief and rush of joy come over me! Is that it?? Is that all??? We're done????? Holy smokes!!!! I have another daughter!! I have THREE beautiful daughters!!!! I'm her Mommy! It's official!
So for those of you who might not know the whole story, we have SEVEN children now, AND we have TWO daughters-in-law!!! AND we're expecting two grandbabies!!! One in November from Daniel and Kristin, and one in February from Josh and Jamie!!! We are SO blessed!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Slower than Christmas

My mom used to say "Slower than Christmas" when I was a child. I knew the meaning then because I thought Christmas was the slowest thing in the world. It seemed to be much longer than 1 year in between Christmas mornings. The anticipation, the daydreaming, the buildup of it in your heart and your mind. It couldn't come fast enough! And FAST it was not! So, I understood the meaning of "slower than Christmas"
As an mommy, I see it through my children's perspectives now. Anxiously awaiting the end of a school week, the end of the school year, waiting for their birthday to roll around once again, and especially, yes, Christmas. Waiting for that magical wintry holiday that we celebrate a bit too extravagantly. A day we designate for Jesus' birthday and WE get the gifts. Actually, it's interesting to type this out in prose. It seems that Jesus WAS the gift for us all those years ago, and we celebrate by giving and receiving gifts each year. It's that He was the gift. I have always known this, it just has a bit of a different light on it for some reason right now. Maybe it's the kazakhstan heat.
Aha, Kazakhstan. The reason for my ramblings. Okay, we've been here since June 11th. It's only June 28th. We won't get to go to court until July 3rd or 4th most likely. And then it's another 15 days after that before it's final. And then it's another 15 days after that before we are able to go to Almaty and finish our paperwork!!! And THAT my friends, is "slower than Christmas". I now know this phrase all too well. I am ready to take our daughter home. I already love her, and I'm ready to teach her things, to read to her, to explore this world with her, to instill good values and morals, to teach her of my beliefs and His truth. I am ready, but the day that I get to take her home is slower than Christmas.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Keep your eyes upon Jesus

We are in Kazakhstan. It's been a very very long time since I've posted. We've been here for a couple of weeks now. I miss our children terribly! My heart aches for them and I have another month and a half to go!!! Goodness!
We're very blessed to have other American families here; some who live here and one who is also adopting from the same orphanage. We are having as much fun as one can have in over 100 degree temperatures. In July, we are told, it will be around 120 on a regular basis. Woohoo. (not very enthused about this). Everything is dusty, dry, and hot. Did I mention that it's hot here? lol
We found out that friends of ours in the states can mail us care packages! We're really excited about that! It takes about two weeks to get here. We will be very happy in two weeks. :-)
All joking aside, we are finishing up our bonding time with our beautiful little Sophie! She will be turning two in July! About one week after I turn 39!!! Just a few years difference there. ;-)
We are praying for a quick court date and perhaps even some leniency from the judge to expedite things because we'd like to get her to a physician in the States for a medical concern.

We sure do love her, and we know that she is already a huge blessing to us. We thank God for leading us to her, and giving us the chance to give her a great life! She can share those beautiful Kentucky Sunsets with us too!

That's all for now.

Friday, May 30, 2008

A Bit More Good News

Whenever I see the adoption agency's name on our caller ID, I get so full of hope. Her voice on the other line sounded upbeat and I anxiously awaited to hear the words. She told me that we received our LOI and I was ready to jump up and down and scream "Thank you Jesus". Right as i was assuming the position to jump and taking in a deep breath to exclaim my gratitude, she said that dirty three-letter word: "but..." Ah, I felt the wind leave my sail, the ton of bricks fell upon my head, my heart sank like the titanic, okay, you get the idea. She continued "but you don't have your confirmation numbers or travel dates." Oh! I was so close to have that joy I've been awaiting for the last two years! Regardless, I am happy that we got 1/3 of the puzzle. I have hopes that we'll be leaving June 6th (our date we were last told) or soon thereafter. I hope to be posting again in the next couple of days telling you our dates. :)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Weather in Shymkent, Kazakhstan

The waiting game....

I'm still waiting on our LOI. I doubt very much I'll get it today because I imagine our adoption agency will be closed for the Memorial Day holiday. So tomorrow would be the earliest I'll get it, and it's only 11 days until they "think" we'll be leaving!!! Uuuuuggghhhh! Try to buy plane tickets to half way around the world with a little over a week's notice. NOT cheap. Anyhow, please pray for us and pray for the timing of this adoption to work out. I'm praying hard for the judge to have favor on us and to grant the adoption without any second thought.  We're also praying for discernment that when we see her for the very first time we'll know without a shadow of a doubt that she's ours. :-)

Thanks for your prayers and love, I hope to be blogging a LOT more as things develop.

Three red shirts

We had  a wonderful time visiting with our daughter-in-law Kristin. She's 4 months pregnant and is glowing!  She's going to be giving us our first grandchild! I'm going to be a pretty young grandma, hopefully HE (or she) will think I'm super-cool. So when Kristin was in town, she, my daughter Martina and I went to Whole Foods Market and gave out samples of my homemade chicken noodle soup! It was a hit as always, people asked for me to sell the soup! We sell the chicken to make their own soup, but they want the shortcut. To the right you will see a picture of Martina, Kristin and me. We had  a lot of fun. We were representing our farm, Pike Valley Farm.   In case you don't know, we raise and sell organic pastured chicken, beef, pork, turkey and sometimes eggs (when we're not out of layers).

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Finally, some good news!!!

Okay, we finally have some good news to report on the adoption!!! We got a call on Wednesday while we were at church to call the agency, that they had an update for us. The tone of her voice, once I got it that night, made me prepare for another set-back on our time frame. She had also left a message on my cell phone and an email asking us to call her ASAP the next day. 
The agency is on Pacific Time so I had to wait until after noon here to get ahold of her. She said, "okay, hold on... let me get your file.... okay, I've got it. Well, I have some okay news and some bad news."   I was totally preparing for her to tell me that we were set back another couple of months. "Semey has been set back  another time; there are no girls available for the June/July dates so that means that those in line will also have to wait and you'll be set back further." (okay, deep breath, I was prepared for that.) "However, you do have the option of switching regions and going to Shymkent probably a month from yesterday."  (okay, breathe deep, NOT prepared for this!) That poor girl, I must have asked her three or four times "so you're telling me that I could leave in a month or so if we switch regions?"   She'd reply with a "yes" and I'd ask her again a minute later. 
It's been 2 years this July that we signed up for this adoption. It was supposed to take nine months or so! But I am a firm believer in God and His perfect timing! Although my flesh at times would get frustrated and tears would pour down my face, I ultimately knew that it just wasn't my time. I felt that God closed one door and opened another. I wondered this when we had previous set-backs, but I felt it even more now. When I called my husband and told him the update, I asked him what he thought about switching regions. He said "well, it seems to me honey, that one door has been closed, but another one has opened up for us."   Aaaaaannnnndd, there ya' go! Took the words right out of my mouth. We're going to Shymkent! We feel that our daughter is there and that God will make a way for us to get her, including switching our regions! 
(For all of you Blue Collar Comedy folks, here's what I felt like:  
Me: It seems we've had a lot of roadblocks while trying to go to Semey. God, should we switch to Shymkent instead of Semey???
God: No, I just like messin' with ya. Here's your sign.  


So now, I have paperwork to finish up that I didn't finish up from about 2 months ago when we were told to pack our bags and get ready to go. I put everything on the back burner and thought I'd just get back to it when it was certain. So on Monday Winston and I are going to finish up our paperwork and then on Tuesday or Wednesday I'm going to drive to Frankfort to get it apostilled. Whew! Then I've got packing to do, phone cards to buy, email lists to set up, gifts to buy (you are expected to buy gifts for the translator, doctor, orphanage director, coordinator and several of the caretakers at the orphanage).

On that note, I will go and begin some of my tasks!