Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Our European adventure, day 1

After over a year of planning, praying, wondering, packing, stressing, and going through every single emotion, it was finally time to get on the plane and get our adventure started!

That's right, we packed for 6 weeks in Europe with only 2 big suitcases and a bunch of carry on bags! I packed more when we went cabin camping last summer!

The plane was leaving in the evening, so we had dinner at the gate, and my plan was to have the kids get settled in, watch a couple of shows, and then sleep through the flight. It started off as planned, they've all flown before so they're familiar with the routine. We got settled in, I said they could watch 2 shows or 1 movie and then we'd go to bed. After the first show they came around with drinks, so I figured they'd have their drinks, then be ready for bed when the 2nd show was over. But just as I was getting them settled in to sleep, they brought out carts of food! The kids got all excited as we waited for the carts to make it back to us, and then we ate and started to settle in when they went around again passing out water. It made the flight fly by for me because I kept counting down the hours we would have to sleep. FINALLY they stopped passing out fun things and the kids went to sleep, for just a few hours before they turned the lights back on and passed out breakfast just before we landed in the Netherlands.
We had a layover for a couple of hours in the Netherlands and then finally got on our flight to Ukraine! It was only about 3 hours so it seemed pretty quick. We landed in Kyiv in the evening, but the wheelchair wasn't waiting at the gate like we expected, they said it would be at baggage claim. We went through immigration pretty quickly, and went to get our bags. We gathered them one by one until only the wheelchair was missing. I went to a woman at a desk who thankfully spoke English, and she looked in a few places before having me fill out a form. We got it back a few days later, it hadn't made it onto the plane in the Netherlands!

Finally we went through the doors to the outside where we met our driver, Max. Eric changed some money and then Max drove us to our apartment and helped us carry everything up. We were on the 3rd floor, but the elevator was only big enough for one person and a suitcase, so I walked the kids up the stairs while Max and Eric raced the quickly closing elevator doors to bring all the bags up.

After we got everything into the apartment, we asked Max to show us a place where we could get dinner, and he walked us to a Ukrainian restaurant that quickly became our favorite, we ate there quite a few times during our trip! The food, everything, in Ukraine is very inexpensive. We were starving and excited to sample our first authentic Ukrainian food (via the pictures on the menu), so we ordered plates and plates of dumplings, blinis (like crepes) and potato pancakes. At that moment, I vowed I would eat piles of dumplings every day and never tire of them. 

Finally we walked back to our apartment and collapsed into bed. Our adventure had officially begun!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Home at last!

We made it home on Tuesday afternoon after spending 5 weeks in Europe!

My computer wasn't working on the wifi for some reason, so we'll be working on posting about our trip as we find some time this month.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Almost there!

This week was one of big news! We got our travel date that tells us when we have to be in country (in February) and we committed to pursuing the adoption of a tiny little guy with down syndrome in addition to 'Ivey'. 

It is going to be a busy couple of weeks as we pack and prepare and head out of town! We're taking the kids with us (6 weeks is a long time to be apart!) and calling it a family adventure. We'll be spending that time both in the capital city for paperwork, and in the region both kids are in for meeting, bonding, and court. We won't get custody until the last couple of weeks, but I'll be meeting them within the first few days of being there, so I'll have time to get to know them. 

Preparations for 'Ivey' are well underway, her bed is set up and made, and bedroom decor is bought, just need to hang it. We have a wheelchair that I periodically drive through the house to help the kids learn to keep the floor clear. We'll have to take the chair with us to pick her up and bring her home. People at the airport when I went to Hong Kong thought I was strange for traveling with an empty stroller, I can only imagine what they'll think when we're pushing an empty wheelchair.

For the little guy, we haven't prepared quite as much, having just decided to pursue his adoption. But as a baby, he'll need less. The kids have been looking forward to having a big sister, and are thrilled to find out that they'll also be getting a little brother, especially Jeb. He's already planning where all of the baby things can go in his room. Baby brother will actually be in our room for quite awhile, but I'm glad he's excited to share :)

One of the big topics around the house today is what to name the brother. Suggestions from the kids include Jaden, Jackapher, Jadaniel, and Jebriel 2. We may need to keep thinking :)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Christmas 2014-maybe our most dramatic yet!

Last year we started a new tradition where we have our Christmas Eve the night before actual Christmas Eve. They wake up on Christmas Eve, we do our family Christmas nice and slow, and then we're ready to house hop on real Christmas Day. 

So here we are on Christmas Eve Eve, in their Christmas pajamas. We also made the decision last year to stop buying matching pajamas for everyone. We knew at the time that by this Christmas we'd have 4 kids, and new matching pajamas x4 starts to add up! We have a local kid's resale shop that always has a Christmas pajama section, so I just pick from there and make sure there's red and green on it-good to go!

First American Christmas

Another tradition-the kids get to sleep in our room the night before. It used to be because we wrapped presents right outside their bedrooms, but they look forward to it all year so we'll keep doing it.

I got to hang the stockings this year instead of just laying them on the couch!

Ready to come down the stairs!

Christmas Eve Service at church

On Christmas day, we went to Eric's brother's house for lunch and presents with that side of the family, and then to my parents' house for my side of the family. I don't have a lot of pictures of that because Jubilee suddenly had a temperature spike and a febrile seizure. She's had them before, so we already had a prescription for a medication to stop the seizures. We used both doses we had and they didn't stop the seizure, so we ended up having to call for an ambulance. She started coming out of her seizure as they worked on her, but they wanted to take her to the hospital anyway to get checked out. Eric went with her so I could stay back with the other kids, and when she was stabilized and almost ready to be discharged, I went up to hang out and bring them home.
So no photo memories from that day, but I don't think any of us will ever forget it!!

A couple of sledding pictures

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Highlights

2014 was a pretty big year! 

In January, we celebrated 2 years of Jeb being home with us! 

Then in February, he lost his first tooth! 

March was a big one, my first time flying alone, to a country I'd never visited before, to meet my daughter and bring her home.

Another highlight for me-visiting Hong Kong Disney!

And becoming a family of 6

We celebrated Journey's 4th birthday late because I was in Hong Kong on her birthday

Eric's birthday at the zoo in April

Vivi turned 5 in May

In June and July we went on our 10 day road trip through the East Coast

Also in July, we celebrated 7 years of wedded bliss!

In August, we started construction on our house

After a lot of thought, we decided to put Vivi in a young 5's preschool program 

And Jeb turned 7

Vivi lost her first tooth

I finally got my wish for a group Halloween costume for the kids

Jubilee turned 3 in November! She was sick on her birthday, but still managed to enjoy herself

We finalized Jubilee's adoption

And the day before Christmas Eve, we had our last inspection and clearance to move into the upstairs of our house! 

I have another post ready to go about Christmas so I won't include that in this post. Big big year! Next year promises to be just as big with travels to Texas and a country in Europe for our adoption already in the works. We have been unbelievably blessed this year and wish the best for all of you in the coming year!

Trimming the tree

The house wasn't done when we usually decorate for Christmas, but we managed to get all of the construction stuff out of the front room so we could decorate it. It felt so nice to finally have a room that didn't have 5 gallon buckets, boxes of nails, wood, tools...all the reminders that we were still living in the middle of it all. For my Christmas present, Eric let me pick out new decor for that room. We didn't have much in it before, a hand-me-down couch, a kids art desk, and some toys. I hadn't found window treatments that I liked for the bay window, and with the staircase taking up space in the room, our hand-me-down couch felt way too big. My parents watched the kids so we could do our Christmas shopping for them, and while we were out I took advantage of a Target coupon for 40% off some curtains and a rug I had been eyeing for awhile. 

Anyway, here's some pictures of the kids trimming the tree

I didn't know what Jubilee would do with a Christmas tree full of ornaments, so we decided to leave it for a few days without decorations. The kids were bummed about that, and remembered that I had found a roll of streamers and put it by the basement stairs to be taken down for the party supply bin. They asked if they could decorate the tree with it, and then they made some paper ornaments

Her face when we turned on the lights for the first time

And the finished product, complete with curtains after 3 years of living here!