Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

Hello again, dear friends! Another year has come and gone and once again it is time to send out our Christmas Wishes to all.

David and Kate continue to grow and mature. This year David started High School and it won't be long before Kate joins him.

We hope this brief note finds you well and send you our warmest wishes for a prosperous 2012.

Bill, Cathe, David, Kate and Bob

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010

Merry Christmas to all our friends! We hope that this year has been good to you and that 2011 will bring you further joy in your life.
Merry Christmas from Bill, Cathe, David Kate and Bob

Sunday, October 3, 2010

So there we were, just minding our own business when…

Three years ago today we arrived, completely unannounced, at the Northern Kazakhstan Regional Boarding School. October 3rd, 2007 was just a regular Wednesday for the students, who were unaware that we had arrived. Usually, arrival of a new family was big news and generated a lot of activity, but we had arrived during school hours.

So... while we were meeting with the Director, Assistant Director, and staff Social Worker, along with our attorney, translator, and the Department of Guardianship rep ("the D.O.G. Lady"), David and Kate were both immersed in their studies when The Call came.

David came to the Director's conference room first (he was in Language Arts class, Kazakh we think), but we had to wait a few minutes for Kate to arrive. She was in PE and some of the other girls had done their best to spruce Kate a bit, even getting a bow in her hair, though it was obvious she had been playing hard.

Fast-forward to today... Both have grown over 9 inches in height since coming home. We won't even talk about shoe sizes. They're both active in sports and doing well in school. Still not the best students, but definitely holding their own, which is amazing considering that they got a late start in school and have had to learn a whole new language as well. David has mastered the "Art of Eye-Rolling," while Kate has mastered the "Hair Ball Sound." Basically, completely normal for their age group, and solidly in the middle of the pack.

Knowing now what they didn't know then, would they choose to pick us again? Well, that answer depends on teh day of teh week. Homework isn't easy... Tests are no fun... And, we're not the Fairy Godmother or Fairy Godfather. But you know what? We're doing well and unless someone mentioned it, you wouldn't know that we weren't always a family. What do the kids say??? In true teenager fashion, both say, "Yeah, I suppose!"

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to All!

Dear Family and Friends;

Hard to believe Christmas has already come again. 2009 has been a very busy year for us as we continue to grow as a family and we're looking forward to 2010.

We pasue for a moment to give thanks for all we have been given and pray for a great year to come. This year, for the second time in a row, our Christmas travel plans were derailed by blizzard conditions on the east coast, leading us to travel directly north to Michigan. The change in palns wasn't all bad as it did lead us to take a short side trip to visit another family who was in Petropavlovsk this summer. We met their son during our trek two years ago, so it was a small reunion to see him again.

Below is our annual Christmas photo and letter. Cathe had a lot of fun with the Jib-Jab "Elf Yourself" web site, even getting Bob into the action!

And what about Bob? What's he doing while we're on our annual winter trek? Well, he's chillin' at the Berry Hill Doggie Spa and Gardens! When we broke the news that he wouldn't be coming with us, it only took him a moment to grab his shades and favorite ball:

Our 2009 Christmas Letter

Dear Family and Friends,

Merry Christmas, Greetings and Salutations! 2009 has been a year with many peaks and valleys, but we can thank the Lord that there were far more peaks to celebrate.

Bill is still working for a small defense contracting firm based in the Memphis area. Not quite the same level of excitement as working for a bigger company at a military base, but the commute is great (just two lights and a school zone) and there was no move involved with taking the job. It’s a program/project financial analyst position, so Bill is always up to his eyeballs in numbers!

Cathe is now in her sixth year teaching at the same school, a new record given all our prior military moves. This year her role has expanded to include more staff development duties and came with a new title, Elementary Instructional Technology Specialist. Although the new title didn’t come with a raise, it continues to bee both challenging and rewarding. This year she was invited to present at a Discovery Educator Network event, and loves the embroidered polo shirt that came as a presenter’s gift!

Although Stephen completed his active duty military obligation in the spring of 2008, he has been on the rolls in the Individual Ready Reserve (non-drilling status). He recently received notification that he is to report to Fort Jackson, SC in January for re-activation and possible deployment. Please keep him in your prayers.

Meanwhile, David and Kate are adjusting to the full school workload with no special accommodations. We are very proud of the huge progress they have made in just the two short years they have been home. Reviewing the monthly marks on the kitchen doorway, Kate has grown over seven inches while David has grown over eight. The neighbors have accused us of putting MiricleGrow in their orange juice!

It has been a blessing to see and stay connected with old friends and extended family. This year we have even gotten to visit a few of David and Kate’s friends from their old school in Kazakhstan. We hope to see you, talk to you or at least share a few e-mails with you in the coming year.

With the warmest wishes for this Christmas Season, С Рождеством всех!

Getting to see another old friend from Petropavlovsk

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Anniversary and Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

The Thanksgiving holiday has an extra special meaning for our family as it also marks our family homecoming anniversary. November 21st, 2007, the day before Thanksgiving, we welcomed David and Kate home. This year November 21st also marked "National Adoption Day."

Wishing you all the best at the beginning of the Advent season!

Bill, Cathe, David, Kate, and Bob

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Has it only been two years?

Fall has already arrived and the days are quickly becoming shorter. We're over half way through the first marking period and sprots activities are keeping us very busy.

Today, October 3rd, 2009, is a very significant date for us: Two years ago today, the four of us met for the very first time. That Wednesday morning, Bill, Cathe, Masha, Sasha and the "D.O.G. Lady" packed into Sasha's Lada and headed to the Petropavlovsk Regional Boarding School.

The scarriest part for us was that we were going into this visit 100% "blind." After arriving in Kazakhstan and meeting with the Department of Guardianship representatives in Petropavlovsk, we had traveled 250 km cross-country to the small town of Saumalkol to visit the Airtau Orphanage. Circumstances didn't work out so we headed back to Petropavlovsk for a fresh start. All we had at that moment was the confidence that God had a child or children waiting for us "out there somewhere" and we just had to find him, her, or them.

Talk about trust: There we were in a stranger's car with a lot of cash in our pockets, out in the middle of absolutely nowhere, and having no idea where we were actually going. We would challenge anyone in that situation to tell us with all certainty that they didn't have all their trust in God, that He was leading them where they should go!

Meanwhile, David and Kate were getting started with their school day and were completely unaware that a significant change was about to take place.

What came together that day is nothing short of a miricle. We will forever hold a debt of gratitude for what Masha, our translator, Tatiana Tokareva, the RBS Social Worker, and RBS Director Kokpenov did in matching David and Kate with us. On the home front, Scott our house sitter and Anne our Social Worker also pulled off an amazing feat by providing us with a Homestudy Amendment, increasing the recommended adoption age range so that there would be no questions regarding our court application.

We find it nearly impossible to comprehend that it has now been only two years since the day we came together for the first time as a family. So much has taken place and we have done so much catching up that it seems to be now as it has always been. There have been challenges, but nothing extraordinary. And we're sure there will continue to be challenges. That's part of any child's process of growing up.

There comes a point in time when a blog changes from the topic of adoption to recording life's events. Like many families whose blogs we followed during our preparations and travels, we have decided that this is a good point in time to wrap up our adoption blog since our family has now transitioned from Adoption-mode to Facing Life's Challenges-mode. Although we plan to fill in a few details, and perhaps an occasional anniversary note, this will be our last regular entry.

We want to thank our family and friends who encouraged us through the peaks and valleys of the adoption process, sharing the joys and giving us the leg-up when we needed it the most.

For those considering adoption: Do your homework and DO consider adopting an older child or children. We had the opportunity to go through all the early reader books and quickly progress to higher level books as we helped the chrildren thrugh the early stages of learning English. We also were able to do a lot of activities right away and enjoy each others company. Perhaps this is a big part of what makes it hard for us to believe that only two years have passed since we worked our way through the age levels at an accelerated pace. We don't feel that we missed out on anything, rather that we have experienced much more since the children could share their experiences with us as well.

We found tremendous support and a wealth of information through several Yahoo Groups such as Kazakhstan_Adoption, PAKK (Parents Adopting Kids from Kazakhstan), and our regional group, PVPK. There are also groups set up for each state. The first place we found and started reading was Kazakh Adoptive Families (

Friday, February 27, 2009

Groundhogs and Daffodils

Here we are, just posting our February update and it's almost time to begin working on our March entry.

Before starting this draft, we looked back to last year's February entries to see how they compared. It would be very easy to cut and paste those entries with only a few minor changes in the details. Funny enough, some things change and others don't!

One change which we were happy to see was a non-repeat of last years Night of the Tornados. During the anniversary week of that event, we did experience unusually warm weather and a few minor thunderstorms, but thankfully nothing like last year. Being from more northern climates, we're still not used to that sort of weather in mid-February. We're still on the temperature roller-coaster though: yesterday hit 72, today's high will barely hit the 60's and we're expecting snow flurries in the morning... Daffodils began popping right on schedule around the 14th and this week we are seeing the start of flowers on the bradford pear trees. Although Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter (or to quote Bill Murray, "I'm predicting Spring on March 21st"), the signs of spring are beginning to show in Memphis.

A little side project Bill has been working on for the past six months has been to check weather readings and sunrise/sunset times and compile the list in an excel file. The last daytime high temperature in Petropavlovsk above freezing was on December 7th and the shortest day, December 21st, only offered 7 hours and 12 minutes of daylight. Of course, the big trade off comes in summer when the days in Petropavlovsk can be over 17 hours long!

In honor of Groundhog Day, "День сурка," which also happens to be Kate's "Half-Birthday," our friend and Cake Man Extraordinaire presented us with yet another masterpiece. Kate got into the spirit of things while helping bake a big batch of cupcakes to take to school for her celebration. The Groundhog cake was greatly enjoyed during Super Bowl Halftime at a neighbor's party. (David and Kate thought the 3-D commercial was pretty neat!"

Academics have been a challenge which David and Kate have taken on and continue to amaze us. Granted, there is a lot of parental pride in this statement, but also much humor. Kate is still a bit confused, but David is quickly grasping the absurdities of the English language. Recently, David has been dealing with synonyms and homonyms and we had a good laugh when he simply stated, "English is crazy! How can "pound" be how much something weighs at the same time as hitting something?" Welcome to our part of the world!

Despite all the challenges, David scored another academic success this month: His Science Fair project was selected as one of a few to represent his school at the county level. We are extremely proud because the project was truly David's work with only a little parental assistance. Drawing on Wikipedia and his Большая книга экспериментов (Big Book of Experiments), he put together an excellent Water Wheel project.

Sports and Scouts continue to keep us busy. David just earned the rank of Tenderfoot and is well on his way to Second Class Scout. His basketball team wrapped their season with a 12-1 record as the league champions for their age/category. The following Tuesday David started tennis and Kate's basketball season began. Tomorrow, we'll be back in the swing of shuttling between games, practices, etc. They're also looking forward to the lengthening days so they will have more time to enjoy scooters, bicycles, and a new Rip-Stick skateboard.

In addition to school and sports, both are also learning about charity and service to the community. Tonight is the first of this year's Lenten Fish Frys and they will be earning service hours by helping set up and run the event. Last weekend, we trekked downtown to the FedEx Forum to enjoy the annual "Soup Sunday" fundraiser for Youth Villages. We had a very interesting discussion one afternoon last summer when the kids wanted to know why we went all the way to Kazakhstan instead of just going to the Detsky Dom not far from our home. Since they had been placed at the Priute Shelter Home before going to the Regional Boarding School, they quickly understood the difference.

While at the FedEx Forum, both took a few minutes to pose for photos, Kate with the "HAPIBUG," and David trying to get an early start on the soccer season... 8-D

Be sure to periodically check the Antares Orphans blog,, and last, but not least, we want to put in a plug for Kazapalooza ( which will be held at the Opryland Resort in Nashville, TN this year (June 5th-7th, 2009). Although geared mostly toward younger children, Cathe REALLY wants to see the Grand Ole Opry. Anyway, do check out their web site for more information.