Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sugar and Spice

Our family is very, very thrilled to announce that we are expecting a GIRL!  We already have three boys and only one daughter, so the news of another girl was the biggest excitement we have had in awhile.  Hubby was with me during my ultrasound, and before the nurse even made the announcement, he said, "It's a girl! That is, without a doubt, a girl!"  I just started laughing.  I mean, really... can anyone else make sense of those black and white ultrasounds?  Hubby must have a gift, and maybe it is because his father was a pediatrician. (Although his father never, ever gave ultrasounds).  
This picture was actually taken last month, but it is all I have to show.  I am actually 27 weeks along now and almost exactly 3 months away from the big day... my due date, November 22nd.

So, how am I feeling?  Pretty great, actually!  I am, without a doubt, no longer in my 20's, and I can feel that. I also am anemic (meaning I need more iron and am taking supplements), but that seems to be a pretty common pregnancy trait and easily taken care of.  I definitely have nothing to complain about.  I have an adoring husband and four adoring children who love to touch my tummy and send their love to their sister. November is going to be a month to celebrate, for sure!

{Below}  Brianna at Disneyland with Princess "Sleeping Beauty," last October
The most excited person in our family is, no doubt, big sister Brianna.  She will be nearly 7 years old when she finally gets her sister, and I like to tell people, "I am not having a baby.  Brianna is having a sister!"  I recently saw this picture for sale online and thought it was perfect:
Yes, Brianna will be losing her "only girl" status, but she is completely okay with that.  Sometimes I think she is even more excited than I am!  In fact, she has even helped us choose her sister's name, but I will share the name later, once it is completely decided on and won't be changed.

So, sweet little baby girl, we are very happy about your arrival!  We are beyond excited to have you join our family!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The men are headed home!

Yes, my men (Nate is one of my "little men") are headed home later today and we are all ecstatic!  My cutie-pie 2-year-old son Micah thinks they have been in "You-Train" for two weeks.  I wonder what he thinks they have been seeing and doing there?!  

I don't have many pictures to share in this post other than pizza, pizza, and more pizza.  Apparently my guys sustain themselves on pizza when there are no women around to cook for them.

{Below}  One last pizza date with Daddy before their first flight headed home.  Hubby said a crowd of our church people traveled to the airport to see them off and there were many tears shed.  I am almost glad I wasn't there for that part of the trip... Goodbyes are just so hard!
For just about $5 more than their first time around, they found a nicer hotel in Kiev to stay in during their overnight layover.  (Their "overnight layover" was really only half of the night since they had to leave for the airport by 3:00 am.) From their description, their hotel this time was quite the upgrade from the one they stayed in two weeks ago... newer bathroom fixtures, nicer beds, air conditioning, fantastic view, etc...

{Below} And just to say they had the experience, they ate their dinner at Domino's Pizza.  Domino's Pizza, people!  In Ukraine!   (If you want an idea of the prices on the menu shown in the picture below, the current exchange rate is approximately 8 to 1.  This means a small, classic pizza costs around $5.50, a medium costs around $10, a large costs about $13, and an extra large is about $14.  A large "premium" pizza costs $18.)  Prices have been rounded to the nearest dollar or half dollar.  I'm curious to find out if it really tastes like authentic Domino's Pizza!
Hubby and I have missed each other like crazy.  Except those few days during camp when our telephone time was limited, we have enjoyed long "catching up" chats through the wonderful internet telephone service Skype.  In the picture below, you can see a photo that hubby sent me.  He was sitting in a cafe and had pulled out an old high school picture he had of me in his wallet.  Wonder if he was thinking about our dating years?  We dated FOUR years before we were married.... from the summer before my Senior year in high school to the summer before my Senior year in college!  Those were amazing days in my life, but I wouldn't want to go back.  I love where we are now in life too!
So, excuse me while I take another little blogging break to enjoy having our family reunited.  My next post will be a pregnancy update, but until then we'll be enjoying one another's presence again.... and I will be feeding my guys something other than pizza for awhile!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Youth Camp 2013 "Fighting for the Faith"

Here is the first message I received from hubby after the Monday night that teen camp started:

Great start to the conf. 2 young men saved, praise The Lord.  Thanks for praying. Will talk with you later. Nate's asleep and I should be too...but I'm doing laundry. Love ya!  G-nite. 
What a tremendous report!   Going two weeks as a single mama are worth it when I receive a message in my inbox like that.  Poor guy, though... I wish I could help him with his laundry so he can rest.
And here is a message I received this evening:

Thanks for praying. We've come to our last day...It's been a great week, praise the Lord!  Love y'all.

We haven't communicated as much as we normally do since camp started.  With a 10-hour time difference between us right now, we who are here on the West Coast are just going to bed when he is waking up, and he is starting evening services when our day begins.  I look forward to hearing his stories once everyone returns home and he gets a chance to rest a little.  
Hubby is not the photographer in the family, so I was very pleased to receive this many pictures from him. Glad he remembered to get some shots for me.  He deserves a big hug when he gets home!
{Below}: We have groups come from all over Ukraine (about the size of Texas) to camp each year.  The distance from the city of Odessa to our city of Simferopol is a 12-hour trip by train (and, of course, train is the way to travel in Ukraine).  You can see in the map below where Odessa is highlighted with the smaller red circle. Our city of Simferopol is marked with a red star.  
{Below}: Group from Odessa, Ukraine
{Below} Group from Lemanskoye, Ukraine (city in the Odessa region)
{Below}: And then, each year we have a faithful group come all of the way from... not just another city, but another country... the country of Belarus!  In the map above, Belarus was highlighted with the larger red circle.  Talk about commitment to the cause!  We are honored that they choose to come year after year, traveling for days to be a part of our Teen Camp.  Camp just wouldn't be the same without them.
{Below}: And now some shots of my little guy, Nate.  Here he is once again enjoying a meal with buckwheat.  That kid is Ukrainian through and through!
{Below}  We chose our theme "Fighting for the Faith" this year based on the theme of our home church's Youth Conference this summer.  Some of you readers may have already recognized the logo, and for those of you who didn't you can see the original ideas at North Valley Baptist Church's website.  Since a western theme is a much more familiar idea for those who really do live in the wild, wild west, it was challenging to translate the team names.  Words like wranglers, sheriffs, deputies, rangers, etc... just don't carry the same significance in the Russian language as they do to those of us who grew up in the good 'ole South of the USA.  And words like howdy y'all, yeehaw, and giddy'up probably weren't heard much this week at Teen Camp, though I'm sure they had their own version of their ideas of what is western (and how I would have loved to hear them!)
{Above and below}: Nate, a true Texas-born boy, probably enjoyed "showing the ropes" to whichever teen would pay attention!
{Below} And to leave you with a smile, I thought you would enjoy seeing this t-shirt that one of the guys came to camp wearing.  What would the world do without products "Made in China"?  (Of course, he probably never would have known there was a spelling error if hubby hadn't asked to take his picture and explained why he wanted his picture - LOL!)
Keep smiling for Jesus.... and Fighting for the Faith!