6 Months!

It’s been over 6 months since Oleg came home. That’s crazy. It seems like he’s been here so much longer. He fits into the family perfectly. It’s clear that God’s hand was at work bringing Oleg to us.  There have been difficult days in the past 6 months, but not a single day when I questioned whether or not we did the right thing. He is our son and I would cross the ocean a million more times if that is what it took to have him home with us. 

Ugh

This reminds me why I don’t keep a journal! Anytime in my life when I have tried to keep a written record of things going on I always fail. I always get behind and then avoid it completely because I never have the time to keep up. That’s what happened with the advent activity calendar blogging. The advent activity calendar was a big success, but me blogging about it was a fail and has resulted in me totally avoiding tumblr. 

On a happy side-note: I have pretty much everything bought for next year’s calendar on clearance at the end of this year! I love a good bargain… and time spent with my kids. 

Advent Activity Calendar

Sometimes the new year is a good time to put things behind us. I need to put blogging about the advent activity calendar behind me. It stinks to get so far behind on something! And I don’t want it hanging over my head any longer! 

I don’t have pictures of everything, and I’m not going to go into major detail, but here goes… 

Day 17 (Ornaments/Dinner with Randy and Natalie) 

After Oleg got home from school I had the kids “open” the sock and work on these ornaments, but the real activity for the evening was dinner with Randy and Natalie (the couple who helped us adopt Oleg). We told Oleg at the start of the month that they were coming over on the 17th and he was so excited for this day to come! Almost everyday he would ask about it (way more than he asked about how many days until Christmas). I am so glad that we set this dinner date up. We had a wonderful evening catching up. Randy and Natalie truly are wonderful people and we are blessed to have them in our lives. 

An interesting thing from the evening was how much Oleg spoke in English even to Natalie! It’s amazing to step back and think about how far he’s come. 

Day 18 (Snowman ornaments) 

If you’ve been on pinterest you’ve probably seen the snowman ornaments where you draw little snowmen on each finger of your child’s hand print. On day 18 I made those ornaments with Wally and Lucy while Oleg did some freestyle work on his ornaments. I didn’t take pictures of the ornaments (because I didnt expect to get this far behind and I wanted them to be a surprise for our parents) but they turned out adorable! We will definitely cherish those ornaments for years to come. (Hopefully we will all forget how much I kept yelling “Don’t touch anything!”) 

Day 19 (Star Hunt Game and Oleg’s Christmas Program) 

I was pretty exhausted on Day 19… it is so hard to make it through Christmas stress free! I was scrambling for an activity the day of because of all the changes we had to make previously. What I came up with was Burger King crowns and a sponge in the shape of a star. The kids were at Mema and Papa’s house with Uncle Travy so it was up to Uncle Travy to hide the star and the kids searched for the star just like the wisemen searched for the star above Bethlehem. I knew it was pretty lame for Oleg and he was pretty bored with it, but the real activity for him was his school Christmas Program that evening. 

I did not expect to cry. In fact when it started I thought about the moms who post on facebook about crying through their kids programs and I wondered why. BUT then I saw Oleg up there being so comfortable and confident. And heard him participating in songs about our Savior. And I lost it. Seriously lost it. I was sobbing. And trying to hold in the sobs which turned into explosions that either sounded like laughter (totally innapropriate during serious parts of a children’s program) or snorts (absolutely humiliating). The more I tried to stop the more they came. It was awful… actually it (Oleg’s program) was wonderful; I was awful. And the awful thing about being the mom of a 13 year old boy is that after the program you want to shower them with love and share a special mom/son moment, but they would rather ignore you and hang out with their friends! 

I really wish I could say more about how proud I am of Oleg and how hilarious it was to see him flirting with all the girls, but I must move on. 

Day 20 (Choose your own adventure) 

Day 20 was total stress for me. I was running around like crazy all day and realized at the end of it that I never sat down and ate a single meal. Thankfully the kids were with my Mother-in-law. Unfortunately I messed up and didn’t have a sock activity for them. Thankfully Sherry pulled out some activities she had in her basement and let the kids choose whatever one they wanted to do. They came home with some fun craft projects and more great memories with their Grandma. 

Day 21 (Our family Christmas) 

Day 21 was wonderful. I’m realizing right now that I am way too tired to attempt to put any of that joy into words (or the joy of the days that followed). 

I’ll finish up tomorrow. 

Happy New Year! 2012 was truly one of the most amazing/life-changing/challenging years of my life. I feel like I’ve come to the end of a marathon. I’m exhausted and relieved to be done, but also extremely thankful to have gone through it. I know that 2013 will hold new challenges, but I also look forward to it with the confidence that it will hold more wonderful experiences. 

Day 16 (Christmas Car Ride)

Day 16 was another day of canceled plans. Wally was still sick so no cookie decorating or Christmas Carol Dance Party. But it was still an amazing day! 

Oleg was grounded from electronics so he went crazy decorating the house for Christmas. We now have so many paper chains hung up with blue painters tape all over the house :) 

This was just the start of it. 

We also made some amazing Peppermint Crunch Puppy Chow (one of my new favorite Christmas treats).  

But none of that was what was inside the back-up plan sock! 

Inside the sock was a note that said “Christmas Car Ride”. The kids were so confused over what that could mean. They kept asking if we were going to Mema and Papa’s house :) 

We started off by making special Christmas treat necklaces for the car ride. We made them out of yarn, bells, Fruit Loops, and chocolate covered pretzels. 

I helped Wally complete his first so naturally his was completely eaten before we even headed for the car. He kept telling me the food broke off and then he would eat it and smile. 

(Excuse the spaghetti stained faces from dinner) 

Lucy and Oleg took more time on their necklaces (really just meaning they put more fruit loops on their’s) 

After they were done we all loaded into the car. All I would tell the kids was that we were going to drive around listening to Christmas music and eating our snack. Wally went through every member of the extended family asking if they were going to “be there?” 

Our secret location was the Brown Christmas Light Show which is a house in Mason that has a huge display of Christmas lights set to music you can tune into on your radio. 

Unfortunately, I didn’t pay close enough attention to Lucy’s diaper before we left and once we got there she informed me that she was wet and cried to go home to be changed. We did stay for 2 1/2 songs and it was pretty awesome. 

When we got home Oleg wanted to find new uses for the remaining yarn. After enhancing some of his previous crafts he came up with the brilliant plan of setting a trap for Nate’s return home from work. 

Even though I was sad to have Nate gone all day, and for our canceled plans, it really was an amazing day with the kids. 

Day 15 (Giving toys away)

Day 15 is something we have always said we would do with our children. I was excited for this day, but also nervous to see how it would play out. 

Day 15 was set to be the first time the kids would be receiving presents this Christmas. We were scheduled to have our home-group Christmas party and we had drawn names with the other kids in the group. Unfortunately the party is postponed due to sickness, but we went ahead with our morning plans anyway.

Nate asked the kids if they could think about how excited they get to receive presents. He told them they would be receiving a lot of presents this Christmas from our family members. Then he told them that some kids don’t get any presents at Christmastime. He asked them to think about how sad they might be. He asked them to go through their stuff and pick out toys and books we could give away to those kids who don’t have any this Christmas. 

Nate went with Oleg to his room and I brought Wally and Lucy into the playroom. We had a big Santa Sack to put all the toys in. 

At first Wally was hesitant and wanted to keep a lot of his stuff (he freaked out a little when I mentioned giving away dvds), but after a little bit he would pick something up, say “give away”, and run over to put it in the sack. He had the biggest grin on his face as I cheered him on. He made a small pile on the couch of the things he wanted to save. 

In the end Nate and I were blown away by our youngest son. He wanted to give away so much! He held onto his favorite things (which is how I knew he wasn’t just putting everything in the bag as a game), but the things he really doesn’t play with much he wanted to put in the bag. I was amazing, and slightly horrified as he gave away the first 2 stuffed animals we bought the kids before they were born. I thought about stopping him, but then I realized those toys really don’t get played with so what’s the point of holding onto them. We can learn so much from our children. 

Lucy was an entirely different story. From the moment Nate mentioned giving stuff away she started declaring “my stuff” over and over again. Wally would take something to the bag and she would grab a handful of things and put it in the clothes hamper she had claimed as her keep pile. She just kept yelling “My stuff” and “No”. 

Here’s a picture of her clinging to her stuffed animals (neither of which she plays with anymore). 

Towards the end of our activity we told her that she had to give one toy away. This is what she came back with. 

A “stress ball” cow we got for free from the AG expo… notice how the face, ears, and feet have been bitten off. 

Is it bad that this stuff cracks me up? 

In the end we sat next to the santa sack and told her she had to give away either the lion or the doll. Eventually she put the lion in the bag and then balled her eyes out. I love that little girl :) 

(Sorry Adam and Heather, who gave her the lion on the day she was born, part of me really wanted to keep it for the sentimental value, but we really needed to get down and Wally had already moved me towards giving away stuff we don’t use). 

Oleg did great. He picked out a lot which cars he could do without, organized the rest, and found some over due library books in the process! 

I’m so proud of all 3 of my children! 

We ended by letting them open their new Christmas shirts (which were suppose to be worn to the party if it hadn’t been canceled) 

This was Nate’s attempt at getting them to pose on the couch holding up their new shirts. 

Instead of the party that evening we all watched The Polar Express and hid bells in the kids’ stockings. It was a great day despite the change of plans. 

Day 14 

The flu struck again! :(

Sherry babysat the kids on day 14 while Nate and I had a much needed date night. Sherry was going to take the kids for a special night out at Potter Park’s Wonderland of Lights, but Wally started feeling worse as the night progressed. Instead they had lots of fun, and lots of cuddles, with Grandma at home. I couldn’t ask for anyone better to take care of my little guy when he is feeling sick. 

My heart breaks for the families who lost their precious children in Connecticut and my heart hurts for the darkness that is present in this world. God sent His Son into this world to be a light in the midst of the darkness. May His light shine bright in Connecticut as they grieve their great losses— bringing comfort and joy. And may His light shine in our hearts as we hold our dear children tight. Thankful for another day with them. Everyday is a gift. 

Day 13 (Ornaments)

On Day 13 we did our advent activity over at Grandma’s house with our friend Grace. 

The kids love looking at ornaments on our Christmas tree so I thought they would really enjoy making their own ornaments for the tree. I found some on clearance at Michael’s. 

For the big kid ornaments we used scrapbook paper, mod podge, and optional puffy paint. 

Sherry wanted a nice picture with Oleg… 

Finally a semi-decent one with Lucy too 

It’s so fun having a son who enjoys doing crafts… although I think his favorite part was when he squeezed the puffy paint and it made a farting noise. Oleg did a great job on his ornament … 

Grace wins the crafting award (I didn’t get a picture of her 2nd ornament which was equally cute) 

Mine and Sherry’s

Once again, it is great to share these special times with people we love. 

Day 12 (Snowball Fight)

While I was out celebrating 12/12/12 day with my CL students. Wally and Lucy and Oleg were doing their 12th activity at Mema and Papa’s house (with Uncle Travy there to help!). 

It weirds me out so much to see a picture where Wally and Lucy look almost as tall as Oleg! 

How did they have a snowball fight with no snow? 

sneak attacks from Oleg

I’m pretty sure Oleg loved it… 

As always, the kids had a blast with their Mema, Papa, and Uncle Travy. 

Day 11 (Gift Bags)

Day 11 I had to work more than normal so I didn’t get to participate in that evenings family activity, but I did get a touching compliment from Oleg before I left. I overheard Oleg ask Nate if I was leaving for work. When Nate told him I was, Oleg groaned and said, “Mom’s fun.” That made my day… it also made it hard to leave! 

Nate did a great job of helping the kids decorate gift bags with some nativity stickers I got from Oriental Trading Company. 

They did about 6 more and Oleg keeps asking when he can decorate more! I think he is excited about being able to participate in giving gifts to our friends and family.

Day 10 (Snowmen Boxes)

Day 10 was another punt because Nate was still sick. We were suppose to babysit provide free babysitting for one of Nate’s co-workers, make more treats, and bring the treat plates to the neighbors. Not wanting to get anyone sick, we canceled those plans. 

It’s hard to find activities that a 13 year old will enjoy AND 2 year olds are capable of doing. Since day 10’s back up plan was thrown together last minute I didn’t have a snowman craft for Wally and Lucy. Thankfully 2 year olds don’t need anything fancy to keep them entertained! 

They tried out these new safety scissors I found at Goodwill. 

And made random Christmas trees with Oleg’s left over supplies

Oleg made snowmen out of Chinese take-out boxes. 

I’m so proud to have a son who knows how to use a glue-gun! haha 

They turned out great! I can’t wait to fill them with some Christmas Crunch Puppy Chow.