Fall 2013

Fall 2013

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Then and Now

These are pics we took last year on Christmas Day at the detsky dom.

I was so happy to have this "forbidden" picture, because I thought that would be the last time I saw Matthew and would only have the memories of our time with him.

And here we are a year later celebrating Christmas with both of our kiddos. So fun!!

I actually am thankful that we didn't have a white Christmas this year. Think they are too???

Matthew was "over the moon" to have a tractor like Grandpa Jerry's!!

365 days and 2011 years - Two gifts from God!

Three hundred and sixty five days ago (Christmas Day 2011), almost to the minute as I type this, we left the orphanage in Sevastopol with our beautiful daughter. I have to say that it was a little overwhelming to realize that we were now parents and responsible for this child. She has been a blessing in our lives and a Christmas gift from God.

Two thousand and eleven years ago, that same loving heavenly father gave us all the most amazing Christmas gift of all - His only son Jesus. May you be blessed by the love of Christ today and always!

Friday, December 23, 2011


Matthew is doing just fine. He is a little grouchy at times but that is all. His eyes look awful, but the surgery went well. He may be able to ditch the glasses soon.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Thank you Jane and prayer request for Wednesday

First, I want to say thank you to one of our blog followers, Jane! Your comment about my last post was so appreciated. Many days, I feel pretty alone in the parenting thing. Most of our friends are long past the toddler stage with their kids and between work and family, I just don't have much time to make new connections with other moms for support and encouragement. Jane, thank you for sharing your day with me and reminding me that I'm not the only one who has days like that.

Next, we just ask for your prayers for Matthew on Wednesday. He will be having eye surgery. We hadn't anticipated this since he'd already had corrective surgery in Ukraine back in January. Although you wouldn't suspect anything if you look at Matthew, he does have some difficulty when he looks up/sideways or down. So, we report to the hospital tomorrow morning at 7:30am. Given how traumatized he was last time we were there, I don't anticipate that he will be happy when he sees where we are going. Please pray for peace for our little guy as well as compassion for all those caring for him, wisdom and discernment for the doctors. And would you include a little prayer for mom's peace as well? :-)  Maia will be spending the day with Nana and Papa and she's looking forward to that!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Today we were "those" parents

You know the ones...

Their kids are running wild.  You wonder why they don't keep them under better control. Don't they believe in discipling their children, setting boundaries, teaching them respect? Really, those parents shouldn't take their kids out in public if they can't behave. Don't they realize how disrespectful it is to others?

Yep, I've had those thoughts about other people's kids. But today, it was time to eat my words. Because it was MY kids who were doing the acting up. And I just could not seem to get a handle on them.

Our Sunday school Christmas program was today. Maia wasn't feeling great (another cold) so she was cranky. When she doesn't feel good, she likes to just lie down on the floor. So, that's what she did. Took off her shoes and laid down by the Christmas tree in the front of the church. Matthew?  Well, he could not sit/stand still. He was all over the place, trying to stick his finger in the burning Advent candles, fighting with other kids - oh, it was a beautiful sight! Finally, one of his SS teachers had to pull him onto her lap and hold him there as he argued with her. So nice! I had the absolute WORST headache by the time we left church.

I know that our kids are not going to be perfect. But, I'd prefer not to be the one that everyone is saying "Thank goodness that's not my kid" about. My only consolation? Maia was not the little girl who was standing in front lifting her skirt up and looking through the see-through/tulle part of it while she was singing.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cookie Monsters

Last week, I had baked some molasses cookies and they were on a cooling rack on the kitchen table. I left the kids with Mark while I ran an errand. Was gone maybe 30 minutes. Entered the house to find two smiling kids waiting for me at the top of the stairs - cookie crumbs all over their faces. Dad was on the phone in the living room. I asked the kids "Did you eat some cookies?" All innocence, they shook their heads "no." Mark hung up the phone and went into the kitchen (I was still in the entry). He asked, "How many cookies were on the table?" I answered "At least a dozen - how many are there now?" Any guesses what the answer was?


Yep, the kids had been busy. We did find three half-eaten cookies hidden in a toy car. There were some very sugared up kids that evening. They could hardly sit still to eat dinner. And all that molasses? Dad enjoyed the laxative effects the following day. :-)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I was wrong

I wrote this Dec. 18th 2010 as a comment to one of our blogs.

Mark and Melanie said...
Today it was hard to leave after seeing Maia. When we where leaving we helped Maia take off her coat and boots. All the other kids in her group were coming in from outside at the same time. Some of them wanted us to help take off their coat and boots too. They waited for one to get the coat off and when they left to put it away the next one came for help. They were all smiles when we helped them. At the end Melanie was holding Mathew and he had a great big smile on his face. Melanie did not have such a nice smile, she had tears in her eyes because we can't take him home too. We just don't have the resorces to take care of two kids who need extra attention and medical care to grow up to be their best. This is hard on Melanie, she wants to help these kids so much.

Bad Bloggers

We have been doing a lot the past few weeks. we need to blog more and keep everyone up to date. So this is an update for you..
It looks like Maia will need some work done on her eye again. The left eye is not staying corrected like we had hoped. Matthew will need the same thing done too. That is the bad news. The good news is Matthew is getting a power wheels tractor for christmas and Maia is getting a kitchen with a stove and microwave. Then they will be getting lots of small gifts too.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Happy Adoption Day!!

One year ago today, we sat in a court room in Sevastopol asking a very kind woman judge and two "jurors" to approve our petition to adopt a little girl named Anastasia. And our family of two became a family of three. This was the first picture we shared with you of Maia Anastacia Hansen.

It has been such a joy to see our sweet girl grow and blossom over the past year! So many changes... from a child who really didn't like to be held or touched to a little snuggle bug. From saying just a few words to singing the ABCs (ok, she skips a few letters but I don't mind). From being an orphan to having a forever family who treasures her beyond compare!! We love you Miss Maia and are truly blessed to call you our daughter!!!  Happy Adoption Day!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Finally back on line and one year ago

Gosh... we've been without internet access for about three weeks now. It's good to be back online. I'll try to get caught up in the next few days. I may back date a few entries from last month, not sure yet. But, just want to remember for right now.

This is Mark's post from one year ago today. We had been in Sevastopol for a few days already and were getting to know our sweet girl.

Saturday - December 4, 2010
Well we had a good visit today. It was about an hour and 15 minutes. When we saw her she was outside playing with her group, she saw Melanie and came to her for a big hug. We walked and played on the swing, her best toy was a tape mesure Melanie brought to find her size. It was a sewing tape that has a spring loaded retract feature that she loved.

After that we went to the market for a good suply of food for the week.
I understand it is snowing back home, it is about 55 here, neeener neeener neeener.

And here's a pic from that day.
What a difference a year makes! Love that sweet girl of ours and am so glad she's home. Although I have to say, I wouldn't mind if the weather was nice enough that we could be dressed the way we were one year ago today - lol!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Our computer went bad. We lost the hard drive and we have not been able to blog for a few weeks. We are back now and will start blogging soon. But today we have lots of things going on.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Life is fragile...handle with care

Last night, I attended a visitation for the 12 year old son of one of my former co-workers. He was killed in an ATV accident last weekend. My heart aches for Theresa and her family. Please include them in your prayers.

And when you're frustrated with child, spouse, parent, pet, co-worker, whoever....

Remember that life can change in an instant and you may find yourself wishing for that spilled milk or temper tantrum or messy house. Will those things really matter if that person is gone?

Take a few moments to give that extra hug, say "I love you" or "I'm sorry" or "You are so special to me." Those are the times that we remember.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Every now and then...

God reminds me.

He speaks softly and gently reminding me of the first time that I saw Matthew (remember my first blog post about him?), how he touched my heart immediately.

He reminds me of the prayers I sent heavenward for that sweet boy, while we were in Ukraine and after we returned home.

He reminds me of the tears that I cried leaving the orphanage with Maia and wishing that I could bring Matthew with us.

He reminds me of the tears I cried in the first few months back home, feeling that I had left a part of my heart in Sevastopol.

He reminds me of the miracles that He worked to bring our son home, that He softened Mark's heart and filled it with willingness to add another child to our family (I was so happy to be sharing that post with you!).

God reminds me that this was His plan since the beginning of time, that He is the creator of families and He most certainly is the reason for our family (Remember this post?).

Then I forget the difficult moments and remember...

And I am humbled at His goodness in allowing me to parent these beautiful children of mine.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Catching Up

I've been meaning to get caught up on what's happening here by back dating some posts, but it's not happening so I'm going to put the past week into this post and be up to date.

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Hearts at Home conference here in Rochester. This is a Christian conference for moms. My sweet husband watched the kids so I could go both Friday night and Saturday. The speakers were great and the chance to spend time in fellowship with others was a wonderful blessing. My dear friend Del went with me and it was also a gift to be with her! Thanks to Mark's cousin Janelle for telling me about the conference and allowing me to register as part of her group!

On Tuesday, Matthew had his first dentist appointment. We explained what was going to happen in advance and Matthew practiced opening his mouth. He did wonderful!!! Here he is getting his teeth cleaned. The hygenist said that she had kids twice his age who aren't as cooperative.

The dentist was great with Matthew and gave us good news. No cavities, no bite problems. Matthew's teeth are perfectly spaced to allow for good alignment when his permanent teeth come in. He'll be seen in six months for a routing cleaning and check-up. YAY!! A perfect report!!

Work is keeping me busy. The workload itself has been steady lately and I am precepting a nurse practitioner student. Given that I'm a novice myself, it's a little bit daunting. But hopefully, she will learn a few things while she's working with me.

Yesterday, we attended an Adoption Celebration which is hosted by the agency that we started with when we were planning for a domestic adoption. We were the only family who had completed an international adoption so we were a little out of place, but it was fun to see some other families who have succesfully adopted. Given some of the short wait times they have had, it reinforces that God's plan was for us to bring our kiddos home from Ukraine. His plan is perfect!

Today was a sad day for me. We took Otis back to his previous family. There had been two instances when he became aggressive with me when I was cuddled up with the kids and the second time, he was aggressive with Maia also. Nothing happened, but we don't want to take any chances with the kids being bitten. He had also been very dominant with Vivien and she was miserable. Had lost weight and was pretty much living under the bed. So, we are back to being a one cat family (at least for the time being). :-(

And that catches things up. Oh... I almost forgot to share our funny for the day. I wish that we'd had a video camera at church this morning because Maia provided the entertainment. The kids went up front for the children's sermon. Matthew sat down, but Maia decided that she didn't want to. She started to come back to where we were sitting, then decided that she was going back to the front of the church. She was almost there when she changed her mind and went into one of the pews to visit the people sitting there. Since she was being social, Maia continued to go into several different rows of pews to visit. She came back down the aisle towards us just as Mark was going to get her. When she saw him coming, she ran back up front and climbed the steps to the altar and laid down. Everyone was laughing and she was thrilled with being the center of attention. Gotta love that girl. Poor Mark - his face was pretty red as he carried her back to our spot.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November is Adoption Awareness Month

There is so much in my heart that I would like to share on this topic, but I am running short on time right now. Until I can get that post made, please check out Adeye's blog. She is featuring some amazing adoption stories this month including one of my favorite families - the Pattersons. If you've been following our blog for a while, you may remember me blogging about their daughter Chrissie who is now dancing with Jesus after a courageous battle following heart surgery. Their adoption journey is such a testimony to being faithful to God's calling! Anyway... hope you enjoy reading as much as I am.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Candy

The absolute BEST candy ever!!

Matthew and Maia weren't quite sure what to make of this dressing up thing. They both got to wear their costumes to school. I helped out with Matthew's party which was a lot of fun! I'm not sure he cared too much that I was there, but that's ok - lol!!
We took the kids to see Nana and Papa first. They still didn't understand what trick or treating was all about but were happy to see them. But... after the first couple of houses in our neighborhood, they realized they were getting lots of candy and that was pretty good. Then it was, "one more (house) please." We limited it to about six houses because it was getting late. But I'm guessing next year, we may need to plan for a few more. :-)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

What we've been up to

Wearing cuddly new pajamas from Nana
 They are great!!

 Enjoying time with family - Mark's cousin Bethany hosted a shower for us yesterday. It was wonderful to spend some time together and visit for a while. Schedules make it a challenge to get together as often as we would like so this was a special gift. And the kids were so blessed, I'd say it was as good (or better) than Christmas!!! Jill, Matthew has not went anywhere without his airplane since we have been home. It stayed in the car at church this morning, though.

 The kids' cousins have a trampoline at their house and were kind enough to let Matthew and Maia give it a try. Pretty sure it was a hit - lol!! 
 Daddy was hiding underneath "helping" them jump around.

Truth to the phrase "A picture is worth a thousand words." Maia goes through life at a slow, leisurely pace. Matthew - well, he's moving so fast that he's just a blur! Maybe he should be The Flash or Speedy Gonzales for Halloween.

I forgot to mention that Maia had her first dentist appointment last week. She was not too sure about people looking in her mouth and a little apprehensive about leaning back in the chair, but she made it through and had a good report. No bite problems, no cavities. She'll go back in six months and we may try cleaning her teeth at that time.

Today, we had a full day! Sunday school and church this morning. After the service was over, the kids got to attend a fall festival while Mark and I attended a parenting session sponsored by our church's Health and Wellness Committee. We both felt like we were given some good information. Ran home for a quick change of clothes and headed out to the farm where Mark keeps his airplane (and other toys). Met my parents there so that Mark and my dad could pull a snow plow blade off an old truck. The kids enjoyed running around and Matthew was so excited to see Grandpa Jerry. Ran a couple of errands, stopped for dinner, and came home. The kids were exhausted so hopefully, they will sleep well tonight.

A little funny for the day... the kids have been learning that it's polite to say "excuse me" after certain bodily functions. Yesterday, we were in the car and drove over some rumble strips. Maia and Matthew looked at each other, started giggling, and Maia said "PARDON ME!!"

And ten months ago today (at about 1AM on December 30, 2010), we walked in the front door of our house with our daughter. In some ways, it seems such a short time ago and in other ways, it feels like she's always been here. Can't imagine life without that sweet girl!! God gave us such a blessing in Miss Maia!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Sometimes I forget.  The stress of daily life can be overwhelming at times. Parenting two children with special needs is often exhausting, mentally and physically (yes... I know - parenting children in general is exhausting). Add a demanding job, worry about finances, a messy house, all those things that we deal with every day and it's easy to get bogged down in that. Tonight, I am making a conscious choice to be thankful.
  • Thankful that even though I am feeling rotten, it's just a cold. I will get over it. Compared to a life-threatening or chronic illness, I have nothing to complain about.
  • Thankful that my sweet husband told me that he would put the kids to bed tonight so I could go out and sit in the hot tub, relax, and then climb into bed myself. Not every parent has someone to share the responsibilities with.
  • Thankful that I have a job caring for a precious group of people, the elderly. And that this job is stable and offers us excellent health care for the entire family. What a blessing that is!
  • Thankful that there are two adorable kiddos who greet me with squeals of joy when I get home at night. Kids that are learning what love and a family are all about, kids that God has given me the privilege of parenting.
  • Thankful that I have a God who reveals Himself to me when I stop long enough to seek Him. I sat outside tonight looking at the stars and prayed that God might show me a shooting star. I closed my eyes for a few minutes and opened them to see a one right in front of me!! How cool is that and what a reminder of God's presence. I am thankful that He reminds me to slow down and BE thankful!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bad Daddy

Last weekend we came home from something and Maia as always saw our house and said "THERE IT IS"
and then BAD DAD drove past the house. Maia didn't like that and started to cry. I just drove around the block as Melanie tried to tell Maia it was ok.


PS. on a side note.  Last March when I filled up the hot tub we found I did a poor job of getting it set for winter when we went to get Maia. Yep it froze and cracked a pipe. Well it was a little more than a pipe, it was a manifold. I just got it fixed and we used it for the first time last night.

Next time I will pay to have it done by the pros.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mini vaca

Well, it wasn't really a vaca, but I took a few days off work. On Monday, Matthew had Early Childhood screening at school and I wanted to be there for that. He did well, passed in every area except speech which is not surprising given that he's only been home a little less than three months. The speech therapist who did the screening works with Maia. She will rescreen Matthew in the future, but she didn't seem too concerned with the results she got. That's great news!
Since I was home, Mark took advantage of the time to go back to the cabin and fix the roof on the shed. 60mph winds had ripped off the tar paper that was waiting for shingles (or something). Anyway... Tuesday, he took our nephew Gavin and his friend Tim along to help out. Maia and I had lunch with my friend Del and after Matthew was done with school, went to visit my cousin Marge and celebrate our birthdays.
The kids were both off school yesterday so we had a lazy day. Up late, brunch, made some cookies as a thank-you to our neighbor John who took the awesome pics you see below (and our family pic above), then headed to the park. Mark got home late afternoon. My parents came down last night and took us out for dinner for my birthday (thanks mom and dad!). Matthew was soooo excited to see Grandpa Jerry!!
It was wonderful to have a a little break and just enjoy time with the kids. Kind of hard to go back to work today. Mark and the kids came to have lunch with me which was a nice surprise. And that sweet hubby of mine asked people to send me email birthday wishes so that was fun, too. He made a fabulous dinner - ribs, baked potatoes, and broccoli/cauliflower - yummy!! Oh... I forgot one of the best parts - I got out of the car and Mark and the kids were at the window, waiting to sing happy birthday to me - what a great present! How blessed I am!!!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Weekend at the Cabin

Several years ago, we purchased some land in northern Minnesota. Our cabin is NOT what many people think of as a "cabin" - you know... the second home, all the amenities, etc. We bought this land thinking about the future - possibly building our retirement home there. But right now, it's pretty primitive. No running water (yes, that also means that we have an outhouse), electricity by generator, no tv, no internet. We've had big dreams for everything we want to accomplish, but life has been a little busy lately - lol! Last summer, I didn't make it to the cabin at all. Mark went once. We didn't make it at all this year before bringing Matthew home, but Mark has been able to go a few times since we've been back.
Finally over the weekend, we were able to go as a family. The first time for the kids. They loved it. Lots of space to run around and play. Treasured time together. What a blessing. Here's a few pics from the trip.

Our property is heavily wooded. This is a picture of the ground - yes, those are all trees!!!

A giggle for your Monday

Ok, here's my first "kids say the funniest things" story. We're driving down the road and all of a sudden, there is an odor from a farm that we passed.

Mom: "EEEWWW. Something stinks."
Kids start smelling and making faces.
Mom: "Wow, it smells like someone pooped their pants."
Matthew: "Mom, Maia."
Mom: "No, Matthew - Maia did not poop her pants."
Matthew sticks his hand down the back of his pants, pulls it out, and says, "NO POOP MOM!!"

Oh my goodness, Mark and I couldn't stop laughing! Yeah... we've been working on keeping fingers out of butts even before this happened.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

365 days ago

One year ago today, our dossier arrived in Ukraine. Oh, I remember the anticipation of that time. The waiting was so difficult. Praying for Maia every day, that God would prepare her to become part of our family. That He would prepare Mark and me to be her parents, that He would go before us and smooth every path. And He definitely did!!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

God knew!

Although there is no doubt in my mind that God chose Matthew to be our son (I only have to think back over the past ten months to see His hand at work in Matthew’s adoption), I would like to share a story with you that gives further confirmation of His divine plan.

I received an email in the middle of August from a woman named Michelle. She introduced herself by saying that we didn’t know each other, but she felt “compelled to send” us an email. Michelle had been on an international flight in early July and met a woman who was bringing home her daughter (adopted through Reece’s Rainbow). A while later, she was on the RR website, checking out the “Already Home” page to see if she could find this family when she came across Matthew’s picture and our story. Michelle told me that she began to cry.

Now why would that cause such an emotional reaction?? Well, Michelle and her husband Bob had recently returned from Ukraine. They had met with the SDA on June 1 and received information about 2 little boys who were available for adoption. As the SDA told Michelle and Bob about the children, they mentioned that 7 other families had visited and rejected one of these little boys because of his medical diagnosis. Michelle and Bob chose to accept the referral and visit the child who had been rejected so many times. As they visited him, they struggled with what to do. Should they go visit the other little boy they had received information about? Were they going to be the 8th family to reject the child they were visiting? As Michelle and Bob prayed, they came to the conclusion that they could not leave this precious child in the circumstances that he was currently living in so they proceeded with his adoption. But, Michelle wondered about the other little boy’s profile. She asked God for confirmation that they had made the right decision.

Yes, God gave Michelle that assurance that she asked for. Matthew was the other little boy whose profile that she and Bob had been given during their SDA appointment!

Michelle’s email was a wonderful gift to us as well, confirming how perfect God’s plan is. When we received our referral for Matthew, we were also told that many other families had refused him. It broke my heart to think about that, but also reassured me that God had chosen Matthew to be our son. Hearing from Michelle reinforced what my heart knew from the first time I picked Matthew up, he was chosen to be part of our forever family.

Thank you Michelle for contacting me and giving me permission to share your story!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Weekend pics

We had a nice weekend. Mark was feeling pretty rotten - he and the kids have been fighting colds and I think are on round 2. Mark's had the worst of it. So far... I've managed to avoid the crud. In spite of that, I've got some cute pictures to share.
Yes mom, I KNOW how adorable I am!

 Actually, I can't take any credit for these next pics. I think we may have an aspiring photographer on our hands. These were taken by Matthew - yes, REALLY!

Our neighbor John is a photographer. He did a photo shoot for us on Saturday afternoon at one of the local historical sites. I brought along my camera and Matthew wanted to take pictures. He did a pretty good job, don't you think??

Today, I braved church by myself again with the kids so Mark could try to recuperate a little bit. The kids love Sunday school. And they did pretty good until just after the sermon - really sitting still for two hours straight is a lot to ask of a three and four year old.  This afternoon, we visited some of Mark's friends. I wish I had brought the camera along. The kids got to play with a little white lab puppy and pet a horse for the first time. Matthew even got to sit on a cow. It was a full weekend and Matthew reached his limit. By the time we got home this evening, he was wiped out. Even getting ready for bed was too much for him. So... mom put his pj's on and cuddled up in the recliner. 

Precious moments, the first time Matthew has fallen asleep in my arms. (Maia? Nope, not yet.) 

Matthew and Maia were asleep by 7pm. They will probably both be awake at 4:30am - just like this morning. Even though they went back to bed, I'm not sure either of them made it back to sleep. Ah, well.