Fall 2013

Fall 2013

Friday, September 30, 2011

Nine months

That is 3/4 of a year, approximately 270 days. 6,574 hours. 391,462 minutes. 23,667,694 seconds that Miss Maia has been home with her forever family. Although not every moment has been hugs and giggles, this sweet girl is loved beyond compare by her daddy and mommy as well as other family and friends. Yes I am a "little" bit biased, but God has truly blessed us by allowing us to be Maia's parents. It is a gift and responsibility that we do not take for granted. She has a smile and personality that bring joy to those around her. She wakes up happy every morning and has become such a little love bug! Watching Maia grow and blossom over the past nine months has been a privilege. I trust that God has a special plan for our Ukrainian treasure and I look forward to seeing it develop.

Saying good-bye to Olga in Kyiv on 12/30

9 months home with my forever family!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Birthday wishes and pajama day!

Happy birthday Nana from your Ukraine cuties!! We love you very much!

 It's homecoming week here and today is Pajama Day so Maia got to wear PJ's to school. How fun is that! I'd love to wear PJs to work - lol!!

Waiting for the bus in my PJs

Monday, September 26, 2011

Weekend pics

Mark was busy at our cabin over the weekend putting up a shed so the kids and I hung out at home. We had a good time. On Sunday, I braved church with them by myself and it didn't go too bad. We were invited to an outing at our local pumpkin patch in the afternoon which was sponsored by Thriv*nt and I took the kids to that. Here are a few (ok quite a few) fun pictures from our day.

Driving the tractor 

 Climbing up on the BIG 4-wheeler (he is about 6 feet off the ground) 

Driving the BIG 4-wheeler
 Climbing the tractor tire fort
 More tractor driving

Mom, those chickens are sure noisy!
 Checking out the fire station

 In Jail

 Crawling up on the "dinosaur"

Big trikes are a lot of fun!!

Whose duck is fastest?

This climbing wall is about 8 feet high. Maia climbed up it all by herself! I didn't want to take a pic of her climbing while I was "spotting" her. She did wonderful!!

my productive weekend

This is what I did this weekend.
two others and myself put this up on Saturday and Sunday.
The shed is 16' x 16' and the carport is 8'


Friday, September 23, 2011

Two Months Update

Can you believe that we have been home for two months already? Just like with Maia... in some ways, it seems like much longer and in some ways, it seems like it has not been that long. So, I figured it's time for an update on Matthew.
We've been pretty busy since getting home. Matthew has had his fair share of doctor appointments. On Tuesday, we had a follow up appointment with the urologist. Unfortunately, surgery was not 100% successful so Matthew is going to require another urology surgery next summer. We have seen some improvement and I asked the surgeon if there was any possibility that his body could still heal the issue completely. He said "no." I wish that I had been brave enough to say "With my God, ALL things are possible!" I am praying for a miracle and total closure of fistula that is diverting urine. The first surgery was so traumatic for Matthew that it is hard to think about another surgery.
He saw the neurologist last week. MRI and skull x-ray are scheduled for next week. These are to obtain some baseline information, not because there are any current concerns. The neurologist did say that we could consider some reshaping of Matthew's plate and skull as a cosmetic issue before he starts kindergarten if we want. I guess we'll see how things go, but I don't anticipate that we will pursue that. As Matthew's hair gets longer, his scar and plate will be less visible. We did get a referral to the brain injury clinic and those appointments are coming up in the next few weeks. I think that will be important so that we can learn more about how the brain injury affects Matthew's behavior, learning, etc. So, that's the medical stuff.
As far as adjustment goes, I think things are going as well as can be expected. Matthew seems to comprehend that we are "his" momma and daddy. And although he is sometimes shy around others, boundaries are still being learned. At the park last week, he was all ready to leave with some other kids who were heading home after playing. There is a lot of testing to see how we will react and how consistent we are. Matthew is learning that it is not ok to say "no" when we ask him to do something. He is somewhat defiant and not afraid to talk back. It's probably good that some of that comes in Russian so we don't understand exactly what he is saying - lol!! He is very impulsive and often acts seeemingly without thought which is a bit scary. My guess is that this may be related to his brain injury.
On the other hand, he is a very sweet boy. He loves cudding up with us, giving hugs and kisses. He notices when others get hurt and responds. He likes to be in the middle of all the action and doesn't want to miss out on anything. I'm starting to see a dimple in the left cheek when he smiles which is adorable. Although he is still pretty moody, I think some of the grief that we noticed after first getting home has improved. He went through a stretch about a week ago when he kept talking about taking a plane back to the detsky dom. His life is so much different than it used to be, I'm sure that there are many times when Matthew longs for the familiarity of the orphanage environment (not to mention that mom and dad have all these rules and expectations for how to act in a family). Today though, he did say "no detsky dom."
Matthew is learning English quickly and seems to be very observant. He picks up on activities well. His pre-school teacher says that he really enjoys chapel.  Machinas (cars, four-wheelers, motorcycles, tractors, lawn mowers, etc) are absolutely the best!! Grandpa Jerry's cows and Papa's boats are close competitors, though.
Physically, I don't think he's changed as much as Maia did in her first two months at home. Matthew has grown one inch and gained about 8 oz. Wish I could put some meat on those bones, but he is a very finicky eater. I'm hoping that he will adjust as well as Maia has. On the positive side, he does really love almost any kind of fruit. Now if he would feel that way about proteins...
It's been a wild and crazy two months, but so good to have our boy home!!

 Meeting Matthew again - three months ago

Headed home - two months ago

Home two months already!!

Ok... one last comment. Now that I look back on the picture of our first official meeting with Matthew three months ago, I can see a big change in him. Just like the meaning of his name, Matthew is truly a "gift of God" and we are so glad that he is part of our family!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Matthew is really doing great with English - he seems to comprehend very well. But some of his translations are pretty funny. Here are a few...

Matthew's version             Translation
Ya yee getchew                    I'm gonna get you! - What mom calls when chasing the kids around the yard.
Ick, Ick hans                        Wash your hands
Wotkup                               Wake up!
Geepa                                 Grandpa (as in Geepa Jerry - my dad)

There are others, but now that I have a few minutes to blog - of course, I can't remember them. Figures!! I'll have to share as they come to me. Guess I'll share a couple pics instead.

On our way home from Canada

Isn't that a happy face?? All because mom wanted him to face the camera instead of the back yard.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

School Update

The kids completed their first "full" week of pre-school. Maia had two days the previous week and four regularly schedule days last week. After the first day, she took to the bus like a pro! She absolutely loves riding the bus and actually taught the bus driver and aide the correct "sign" for the word bus. It's wonderful to have her look forward to going to school each day. I can see the difference that speech therapy is making for Maia as well. She is trying some new words which is fun to hear. A humorous side story...there is a little boy with DS who rides Maia's bus. He gets on the bus right before Maia and was crying every day when the bus stopped at our house. Mark asked if we had any toys that he could give the little boy to cheer him up. I stopped at the dollar store and picked up some stickers as well as a small package of plastic dinosaurs, thinking he could give the little boy something every day. The following morning, Mark gave the little boy a dinosaur. He was very happy as the bus left our house. When the bus arrived back at our house to drop Maia off, the aide told Mark that the little boy had liked the dinosaur a lot BUT kept throwing at the aide - lol! So, Mark is limited to handing out stickers. :-)
Matthew had his regularly scheduled three days of pre-school. He also loves going to school, although he is still a little disappointed that he doesn't get to ride the bus. The teacher tells us that he seems to comprehend a great deal of what is said, but isn't talking much in class yet. I think the language barrier makes it a bit difficult to play with the other kids at this point. He's learning words and talks a lot at home, even though we don't always understand what he's saying (in Russian). That might be for the best when he's mad at us - lol! The kids have chapel weekly and Matthew's teacher said he did a wonderful job of sitting quietly and listening during his first chapel. The school day (well... afternoon) goes quickly for Matthew and he usually wishes that he could stay longer.

We're blessed that the kids have great teachers who see their potential and create an environment that makes them excited to go to school every day!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Note to self revised... What are the odds?

On May 23, 2001, I posted a note to self to keep my fingernails out of my eye. Apparently, I was not quite specific enough in this note. I should have also included keeping other people's fingers out of my eye. Yep... I was back at the emergency eye clinic yesterday after Maia's fingers and my eye collided on Sunday afternoon. Geez!! What is the likelihood of scratching your cornea in the same place within 4 months of each other? I'm sure someone can tell me. Back to steroid and antibiotic eye drops as well as daily ophthalmology appts.

Revised note to self.... Keep ALL foreign objects out of eye!!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Matthew's First Day of Pre-School

I have been so excited to go to pre-school. It's been hard watching my sister Maia get on the bus every day, I really wanted to go to school myself. And today was finally the day! Daddy drove me to school and brought me to my classroom. When we first got there, I wasn't too sure about it.

 Then, I started checking out all of the neat toys. Maybe it's not so bad after all. There's other kids to play with, bikes to ride during outdoor time, snacks, show and tell. We even get to go to chapel to learn about God (mommy tells me all the time about how it was His perfect plan that created our family)!

When daddy and Maia came back to pick me up, I didn't even want to go home! You can probably tell by the look on my face. Instead, I wanted to show Maia all the neat things at school. It's going to be so much fun to go back tomorrow!!

Yes... mom is still catching up on blogging. So even though she is actually making this post on 9/18/11, she is going to back date it for the correct date which is last Monday.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


If you pay any attention to the dates on my post, you may notice that this showed up on 9/15, but is actually dated 9/10. That's because I'm trying to get caught up on the blog while keeping things in chronological order so I am back-dating some posts as I go along. Bear with me, I think I will catch up one of these days - lol!

With as busy as our summer has been, we had been able to travel to Canada (Mark's parents spend summers there). Weren't sure we were going to make it this year since the kids would be starting school right after Labor Day. But since I had a little bit of vacation time left, we decided we would go for a long weekend. I did not realize how much I needed that time away until we arrived. It was wonderful to get away and just relax. Nothing that HAD to be done, no laundry, no errands, just quality family time. I returned to work one week after we got home with Matthew so this is really our first opportunity to spend some time together now that the initial adjustment is over. What a blessing it was! The kids loved spending time with Nana and Papa as you will see in the pictures below. After we returned home, I still had several more days off so was able to see Maia go to school on her first day and spend a little 1:1 time with Matthew. God knew how important it was for me to be able to do those things. I feel like I missed out on a lot by having to return to work so soon. Anyway... enjoy the pics!!

Maia wasn't too sure of sitting down by the water at first, but soon decided it was a fun place to be.

Matthew hanging out.

I snapped this precious photo at just the right time. Don't they look precious? Maia had fallen down and Matthew was helping her up. Within a few seconds of this picture, they were pushing and shoving each other. Yep, typical siblings - lol!

does the paddle boat work?

Playing the organ with Papa

Helping pick up branches, it sure is fun to push the wheelbarrow around!

Making a birdhouse with daddy.

Love that face!!

Driving the boat with Papa was THE BEST!!

First ever smores. Matthew thought they were great. Maia wasn't too impressed so she shared hers with Matthew.

Thanks Nana and Papa for a wonderful time and the opportunity to relax and rejuvenate!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Meet the newest member of our family!

Yes, we have a new addition to the Hansen household!!

2 years old.

Weighing in around 22 pounds.

Beautiful blue eyes.

A sweet, sweet face.

Oh, so tolerant of excited little ones and the kisses they love to bestow.

Meet Otis "Spunkmeister" Hansen

Thanks so much to Michelle and her family for trusting us with for their precious boy! We (the kids and I)  love having another cat around. Vivien (our other kitty) is probably thankful that Otis is occupying the kids so that they leave her alone.  Mark... well, he loves me so he tolerates my love for cats! Thanks sweet hubby of mine!

Nice and COLD!!!

I was working very hard at making Matthew a bedroom when I was called out to the deck. Then my wife shot me with the garden hose. She had the kids in the kiddie pool and they started a water fight. All I want to do is make a bedroom for our son and I get shot with a hose for all my hard work.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Maia's first day of school

Maia started pre-school today through Community Education. She's ready to go!
 Got her backpack and headed out the front door to wait for the bus.

I can't wait to get on the bus.
 Here it comes!
 Oh, wait - I changed my mind. I really don't want to get on the bus. No Momma, I am NOT going to climb up the steps. If you want me on that bus, you are going to have to carry me. (It was a tough moment for momma. I was crying and she wanted to cry with me, but knew that if she did then I would be even more scared. Instead, she gave me big hugs and helped me pick out a great window seat. She reminded me that I would be home before lunch time.) And off we went.

I don't know what the big deal was. I had so much fun, I got to finger paint and play with the other kids. I can't wait to go back tomorrow!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

This Morning

I sat on a rock on a little island on Lake of the Woods Ontario and watched the sun rise. I'm sure I am not the first person to make this analogy nor will I be the last. But, I was reminded the similarities between a sunrise and God's presence in our lives.
I didn't get outside in time to see the beginning of the sunrise. When I sat down, the sun was already lighting up the horizon. The trees were a dark silhouette in the distance. The contrast between the light and the darkness made the little branches and details of the trees significant. As I was admiring the beauty of the scene, I thought about the parallels to my "human-ness." I am so imperfect. There are shadows and areas where God's light doesn't shine in my life.
But, He invades those shadows, He comes into the deep, dark recesses of my soul. He shines where a person can not even imagine that He would reach. And as the sun rose slowly above the trees, it turned white (yes, white) - a bright, pure, intense, perfect light - so symbolic of God and also Christ's perfection. If we allow him to, God will shine that brilliance through us. He can rid us of the shadows, the pain, the despair, the failings that darken our lives. He makes each day a new opportunity, a new chance to live for Him.
Those few moments spent with God, sharing the beauty of nature in the sunrise He created were soothing to my soul. I was (am) thankful for His presence in my life. And I am thankful to my wonderful in-laws for providing the setting as well as my sweet hubby who watched the kids so I could enjoy those moments of peace and solitude.

Friday, September 2, 2011

So glad it's Friday and would you pray for Matthew?

It's been a kind of rough week. We took Matthew in for his follow up appointment with the urologist on Monday morning. Poor little guy (Matthew, not the surgeon - lol), as soon as I picked him up to set him on the exam table he started crying. Removal of the dressing was traumatic (for all of us), but it was obvious that Matthew was terrified. He screamed the entire time - yes... literally screamed at the top of his lungs. I'm sure everyone in that area of the hospital wondered what was going on. The surgeon said that things looked good and that he would see Matthew again in a few weeks.
Things seemed to be working correctly for a couple of days. But now, we have noticed that his urine is not exiting from the right area. Mark contacted the surgeon and we were told that there is sometimes leakage from the suture sites and it should stop as the holes heal. Even if this was not the case, there is no way they would be able to do further repair for at least three months because right now, it would be like sewing through tissue paper. It's been a few days since Mark talked with the doctor and we are pretty sure that it is not leakage from the suture sites. The thought of another surgery is difficult. If you could see the fear on Matthew's face and hear those cries, it would break your heart. I'm crying now just thinking about what he must have experienced in his life to have this response.
Then on Tuesday, Matthew saw the ophthalmologist. We really had no concerns going in. He seemed to be using both eyes well and seeing clearly. The kid can point out tiny planes in the sky. We expected a routine visit with a "see you once a year" message. But, we didn't get that. Matthew's brain has shut off the function of his left eye. Probably as a result of his head injury. According to the doctor, it is as if this eye is patched. We will begin patching of his right eye (the good one) to see if his brain can be forced to change. Sometimes it works, sometimes the brain is not able to make this adjustment and resume function. I've ordered some fun patches (just like I did for Maia) and we will begin the patching as soon as they arrive.
So... would you send some prayers up for our boy? Specifically,
  • Resolution of the urinary issues. That Matthew's body will heal all of the incision sites and he will begin urinating from just one location (the correct one!) - the end of his urethra.
  • As far as the eye is concerned, there are a couple of requests.
    • First, that Matthew will be able to tolerate the patching without difficulty. We were told that this can be very traumatic in the beginning because it can essentially take sight away from the child. Pray that God will give Matthew understanding and peace of why this is happening. 
    • Second, that Matthew's left eye will begin to function perfectly very quickly and that there will be no need for further intervention after about 6 weeks of patching.
Last night, we went out for dinner which was a nice break. It was hot and miserable outside. When we got home, we walked to the backyard to see if I had any zucchini to pick. Well, one thing led to another and let's just say that a hose got turned on. I don't know if you can tell how wet Matthew is in the picture, but he LOVED getting sprayed! Clothes had to come off right inside the front door to spare the rest of the house.

Maia... hmmm, not so much! She would rather be mom's helper.