Sunday, June 29, 2008

Big Chief "Broken Elbow"

Casey in the emergency room of our local hospital in severe pain. He had just been given some pain medication through his IV and I got out my cell phone to photograph his adventure!!!
Look at the size of his broken elbow and arm compared to the other arm!!! It swelled up even more and has continued to swell. He can not have a hard cast until the swelling goes down next Wednesday (maybe). He is still very swollen today. So we will see if he gets casted next week or not;-).
His elbow and arm began to also turn a nice color of purple. He does have a soft cast, but, every movement is very painful for him. He is taking pain meds round the clock, sleeping in the rocker-recliner, and keeping an ice pack on his arm to hopefully get the swelling down.

Casey resting in his chair in lots of pain!!!I made him lay on the patio today so he could get a little fresh air. He was not too happy about leaving his easy chair;-).

Well....Last week was a bit crazy. It seems we have a new Indian Chief among us named Broken Elbow. Casey was having a wonderful time with DeeDee and Trisha riding the ATV. They were all running like wild cowboys and Indians over the prairie. Life was all good. Here are a few pictures of the girls and Casey in their vehicle. I am always telling them to respect this toy and use it with caution. After each hill run they would return home to report in to me. Then they would get a drink and refresh before trading drivers and passengers. Only Casey, DeeDee, Karissa, Christian, and Trisha are heavy enough to ride in my opinion.
They go to an area near our house where there are huge hills of dirt to ride on. The kids have been going to ride on these same hills all summer and nothing had changed. Only there was one huge problem when Casey and DeeDee switched hills. A construction of a new neighborhood is being built near the dirt mounds. When Casey (driver) and DeeDee (passenger) went up the side of this familiar hill, all was the same, until they began to descend.
There on the other side was a sudden drop off where a bull dozier had scooped out a huge chunk of dirt. They flipped nose first into a roll over. Thanks be to God that they had on helmets and were wearing their seat belts. However, Casey broke his elbow and fractured his humorous bone by his elbow!!!! DeeDee was not injured, but, they both had seat belt burns on their necks.
Casey has now learned how extremely painful a broken bone is and also has developed a great respect (maybe fear) of our ATV!!!! It is a wonderful toy and I am thankful Duane bought a type with a roll cage for safety. Guess Casey is out of the ATV for the rest of the summer and can not swim either until his hard cast comes off some time in August. He will miss the swim season (for the most part) this summer and he must be very careful with that arm for one year to completely allow healing.
So it was quiet a day we had last Wednesday. The other awful part was that I kept looking at my watch and thinking "Wow...Casey and DeeDee have been gone way too long this round of riding. I pray they are okay". Naturally when they are out riding it makes me nervous worrying about them. Unfortunately, Casey did not have a cell phone with him as it had run out of charge!!! Gee, I guess he should make sure the cell phone is charged before going out:-).
When they stopped rolling over...Casey said (as they hung upside down) he was afraid of gasoline or something else and so he unsnapped DeeDee (she dropped to the ground) and told her to get away from the machine. He then unbuckled his belt and dropped to the top of the roll cage in extreme pain. He told DeeDee to run over to the construction workers and get help. Fortunately, a good friend of ours, was working in one of the new houses being built and got Casey out of the ATV. Casey was in so much pain he could not get to his feet and move away from the ATV.
Katie Aunna had been begging all day to ride and I would not let her...thank the Lord!!! She was disappointed that she was not allowed to ride;-(. The second picture is of one of Casey's riding buddies on his off road bike. In the next picture Katie Aunna begs one last time to ride and is told NO. It was this run that Casey and DeeDee experienced the rollover!!!
Our friend called Kisty at work and she came to pick Casey up and bring him to me. I could not leave as I had six kids in the pool. So Kisty came rushing across town to the scene of the accident. Also, one of our service trucks was in the area and two of Duane's employees turned the ATV over and drove it home for us. God bless them for being so thoughtful and helpful. Kisty brought Casey here and we decided Kisty should take her medical POA for the kids and take him to the emergency room. He was so sick with pain!!!
I called my girlfriend at her work and she immediately came home to watch the kids while I went up to meet Kisty and Casey in the ER. The other kids were swimming while the bigger kids rode the ATV. I started pulling kids out of the water right and left while my GF was on her way. Duane was OUT of town working. So, anyway...this is the story of the big chief "Broken Elbow" as the kids called him when he got home!!!!
I also have other news to post about. But, first my cousin Debra (lives here in Clovis) mentioned that I have not put any pictures of our pet Gracie Belle on the blog. So here is Gracie Belle Gartner looking very content in this picture. I was thinking maybe (in the next photo) I should attach a handle to her back and she would make a nice dust mop......hahaha!!!!!
Anyway...the big news for today is that John-John swims beautifully without his floaties. My goal for him was to swim this summer without them and today this has become a wonderful reality. I have to brag that he can swim under the water and pop up for a quick breath and back under to swim. Also, he can swim to the side and grab hold when he needs a breathing break. He is so COOL!!! He has also been asking to go pee-pee in the potty now and never has a pooh accident. He has been dry for five days today!!!! Looks like he will be in big boy undies by end of summer. He is doing so wonderfully!!! The best part for me...NO MORE DIAPERS!!!!

Here are a few pictures by special request also. My cousin in Seattle wanted me to post a picture of Duane and here it is;-).

In the above pictures I thought John-John was so cute playing outside today. I am also proud to announce that John-John has removed his floaties and is a fish like the rest of the bunch. He is NOW ABLE TO SWIM!!!! Yeah for John!!!!!! Hope you enjoyed the update. Who knows what excitement will occur next week. Hope it is a little calmer here.

The pictures of the girls are pretty cute, too!!! They had a matroshka and each SISTER represented one of them;-). I thought that was pretty cool that they knew the nesting dolls were sisters and so are they. So they proudly held as their representation of being sisters and wanted me to take their picture;-).

Oh...BTW....I am still on my cleaning binge and have completed several items on my "to do" list. Garage looks great, our classroom is ready for the new Fall session, and one of the kids closets is straightened out. My next task is to have something very interesting to tell you about next weekend. However, I must clean out my huge closet first. I will explain further later;-)))). Many blessings to you!!!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Week Is Flying By

I can not believe it is already Wednesday!!! Guess I missed getting some pictures uploaded to the blog this past weekend. We have been very busy with establishing a routine we can all work around. I have added even more to my "plate" with having seven children at home. The grand children come over and I have NINE kids here...ha ha. But, I am still thankful that we could have the opportunity to have our beautiful little kids.

Sometimes I want to adopt them out...yeah right....and other times I am so enjoying them. It seems I move from one mess to clean up to another. Then there are the meals to prepare and clean up and then baths to do. I don't even want to talk about the laundry demands...Oh MY!!!! However, I have to say that the enjoying part is far more often felt than the overwhelmed feeling. Also, we are not completely adjusted just yet (we've been home for about six weeks now.

Poor Duane is struggling to get financially re-established after the prolonged time in Russia and work for him is the height of his business season. Our temperatures here have been very hot and mainly dry. He is working very long hard days. Tonight Katie Aunna, Karissa, and I are still up...oh no!!! OPPS!!! I just looked over and Katie is snoring in the lounge chair. Time for us all to go to bed now. We will sleep till who knows in the morning....ha ha. Although these are rough times, they are also great fun times!!! God has blessed us as we work and struggling like the rest of the laboring world. I will take and post some pictures for you soon. Blessings to all!!!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Brief Post

Just wanted to add a brief message to my last post. I did not tell you that I am planning to post at least once each week and more when I can make time to get on my computer. I intend to post over the weekends and once during the middle of the week. This way it is a little more predictable for you to know when to check the blog. Since blog posting is a new experience for me....I am trying to get organized on when to post. I will upload pictures during the weekend!!! Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are days when several kids have different therapies to go to and so I am a little more busy during this time. Hope this helps everyone who follows our family to be better informed. Many blessings to you and thanks for loving our kids!!!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Karissa and Katie Aunna look so much a like!!!!

The Who's Who of the Gartner girls.
John absolutely loves to swim!!!!

Annie swimming on Father's Day
Casey's sweet smile!!! He is getting so big and way too fast!!!
DeeDee wearing the dinosaur towel. What a hoot;-)

Just wanted to write a post to the blog and say that all is well with the family. We are on a cleaning binge at our house. I have had just about enough of this clutter. Needless to say....the house was quite a mess when we returned from our one month stay in Russia!!! It was such a stressful adoption process. I feel I am just now beginning to recover from the travel, adoption stress, and financial difficulties of extended time away from home. The financial aspect seems to be bigger than we initially thought. I am thinking we will need at least a year to recoup financially as we have a lot more medical expense to deal with now, too.

John does not want to share the bench with little Mary....ha ha!!! Don't think this will stop her though.

I knew Mary would get her place on the bench.

All in all....I don't think I have ever seen a happier child than Katie Aunna. It is so sweet as she loves her new family so dearly and just can not say "I love You" enough times in a day. Katie's English amazes me every single day. Today she said "What is this?" and pointed to a picture of a wolf in one of our home school library books of fairy tales. She can tell me anything in Russian.....but, she wants to know English!!! This morning I said back to Katie Aunna "What is this?" in response to her question. She surprised me with "I don't know what is this!" I said in a growling voice "The big bad wolf" and she said "OH NO...not that!".

I am bragging again, but, she really is so smart that it amuses us all!!! The kids cracked up laughing when she said "OH NO...not that!" and she said it with such loud expression. It was hilarious. Well...back to the cleaning project. I have so many clothes that it is over whelming to me!!! So we are making it our project to take out all the clothes that are a 2T or under for girls and a 2T or under for boys!!!!
Lots of cute Gymboree clothes for baby girls. I just don't know how long this will take us to clean all this out and get some order to the closets. Their drawers were also scrambled in my absence;-). Lots to do over the summer. We also went through all of our homeschooling materials and organized them all into nice plastic tubs. We have some of our Fall 2008 materials purchased, but, must make a trip to Lubbock to the Christian Home School Supplies to complete our curriculum for the next grade.
Also, I am hoping to save up a little cash to buy a twin bed and switch furniture around. Although Katie Aunna was initially happy to room with Annie, she and Karissa have chummed up pretty nicely and are best of friends. Now they want to room together and so I guess I will move them around toward the end of summer. Poor little Christian is crushed at Karissa's attention to Katie Aunna as he has been the "cat's meow" in Karissa's life since birth. Now this new "SISTER" steps into the picture. I notice he is a little impatient with the girls in general and pouts more often!!! But, he is getting more "special" attention from Mom and Dad!!!
Father's Day was great!!! We fired up the smoker and smoked sausage, ribs, and prime rib roast....YUMMY!!!! Duane enjoyed his special day so very much. All the kids came over (grown ones and grands, too) for a Father's Day swim party. It was such a relaxing day for him and he has few of those type days!!! Now that the heat of summer is roaring he is in full swing with his business his cell phone rings constantly. I just had to set my foot down and say "NO PHONE and NO SERVICE CALLS". It was hard for him, but, he remained with us for the entire day last Sunday.

Cutie Pie Karissa!!!!

Duane has been working about 80 hours per week!!! So I am a single mom;-). By the time he gets home, everyone is fed, bathed, and ready for bed within a few hours. I have been putting everyone to bed at around 9:00pm now and trying to get up earlier so we can swim before the afternoon heat. Duane laid on the patio couch under the fans and swam some in the pool as well. Then I took him for a surprise pedicure for which he was totally against.

Duane relaxing on the patio;-)

I could not even get him in the chair. I talked him into going over to Wal-Mart to shop for some groceries. During our shopping I kept talking to him about his "horse hoofs" and getting his toenails trimmed. FINALLY.....that worked and he said he would do it. Guess what??? That's right...he loved it immensely and promises to not give me any trouble when I say it's time to return for another...ha ha!!! Sorry...he would not let me take his picture in the BIG chair. Maybe on the next visit he will allow some photos to be taken of his indulgence of decadence!!! I did get a few shots of my cousins husband in the chair. He was fully cooperating when I arrived with Duane.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


The Gartner Gang

Recap of pictures already posted!!!!
Today my friend came over and she helped me with some laundry and to get Katie Aunna and Annie to their therapies. It was quite nice to have a little help. Our SW for our home study agency also came out to meet Katie and she helped me do some was so nice as there is soooo much of it!!!! Anyway, we are heavily in transition now. Katie and I are still in the honeymoon phase of adjustment. But, we are settling into real life nicely with the other kids and they are doing well with the new changes in the family. I hope those who read this blog and are waiting to become international adoptive parents or have already become IA parents relate to this process through my blog. It's tougher than one might imagine!!!

So, if I ramble a bit trying to get all my thoughts and experiences into order, please excuse me for that. It seems with each addition to our precious family there are moments during the day that I think "GOSH!!!! Am I in over my head?"....ha ha. Duane laughs at (with) me when I say that and he always responds with "Of course you are honey...but time will smooth it over" and a big chuckle;-). He knows I will adjust and the kids will adjust, too. Then everything will run in a smooth flow!!!

Although, after this adoption, I am looking at things a bit differently than before. I am thinking about all those hormonal teenagers in this house someday soon!!! Heck....10 years goes by pretty fast!!!! That would make Casey 24 (hopefully not living at home anymore and working in Duane's business like Casey says he wants to do), Karissa and Christian 17 (getting ready to go to college), Katie Aunna 16, Annie 15, Mary 14, and John-John 13....YIKES!!!! It should be highly interesting. I'll try to blog that some day...ha ha. BTW....I will be 61 and Duane 66 y/o in ten years;-). We will have spent 41 years with children in our marriage by that point and married for 45 years!!!

As a result of looking ten years into the becomes even more important to me to keep their home school alive and well so they will not be exposed. Exposed to people that I don't approve of who might lead them to bad choices and away from their best friend Jesus. My dear girl friend said to me "Oh, are a survivor. You will always do whats best for your family." You know....all those nice things that GFs say because they love you;-). Thanks be to God!!! I also realize how important a good transition means to the mental and physical health of that new child and tapping into the potential within them.

Although, we have experienced adoptions from both good and not so good institutions, each child has had some related issues from their previous environment that needed to be worked out of the child. These behaviors vary and are unique in some ways and universal in others. Katie Aunna is just crushed when I say "No, not your way, but Mom's". But, bless her heart, she obeys (a little begrudgingly) and accepts my decisions. Her love for me is immense and for her family. Katie appreciates Duane and I in a way, that our children grown from babies, do not. I love this older adoption experience we are having with Katie Aunna. She is perfect for us and we are for her. She has become a full fledged member of the Gartner to speak....also among the children!!!
Oh yes, and Katie Aunna now has glasses 3Xs stronger than her orphanage pair and her prescription sunglasses came in yesterday. She is enjoying her view of the world now both indoors and out. I am expecting a little stronger lens with her next check up in August. She can not sit on the couch to watch television without squinting. Katie can see TV at about four feet away. However, at the rate she is learning her English....we should get a good exam this next visit. Then comes the DENTIST in Fall. He is the painless dentist though....thank the Lord!!!
Mary Beth, on the other hand, is tiny on the outside and huge on the inside. Mary's fearlessness sometimes scares me and I worry about her future. All the children watch Mary and are protective about what she attempts, interceding often with a stern "NO". It is most important for her to be protected from the world until she is old enough to think about what she wants and how it relates to her own safety. Her spirit is MIGHTY and she needs to be developed into a leader. She is smart as can be and should do something great with her life!!!! Her head is hard as stone. Change/Conflict for Mary Beth is a fun challenge and she likes the thrill of conquering it. She walks tall (in her size 3T clothes at age 4 years old)!!! However, Katie Aunna has really been determined that Mary wetting in her "Pamper-a" must stop. Usually, in Russian orphanages, the children potty train very early to conserve diapers. "That's a girl, Katie Aunna, lets put that diaper money in a college fund!"

Mary being Mary!!!

But, inside Mary's heart she is filled with a great love for her family and kindness once she gets past being ornery. She would protect her family like a little wild hog...ha ha!!!

Christian wants to please his Mama and he tries so hard. I hurt my back a few days ago and he has virtually bent over backwards to be supportive. He does have a boiling point, though not quickly reached, then he gets a little stubborn. But, all in all, he loves his life and soaks up any praise given to him like candy;-). Christian and Karissa are the informants. All happenings are reported by them. He expects everyone to follow the rules.....ha ha.....but, wants everyone to cut him slack for bending the rules;-). He also likes organization and does not do well with rapid change. It shocks him. But, when it comes to helping his Mom.....he's the one who is always there.

Casey is a sponge hungry for information. Because he is so smart and knows about many things in his environment....he gets into trouble often. Touchy-feelie of everything because he thinks he understands it. But, he is also a very loving person who holds a deep respect and appreciation of his family and his family history as our only bio-baby. I look at him and see my dear late father in this child. He acts like, looks like, and thinks like my Daddy. His features are identical to pictures of my father when he was a young boy!!! It's pretty cool. His good looks and behavior let me know (along with Annie) that my dear late parents are really near by.

Casey's protective big brother mode.

The "older" girls.....ha ha!!!
Karissa is beautiful. She is graceful and delicate like a beautiful Ukrainian woman. Small bones, tall, strong, and slender with much grace and beauty. Katie Aunna looks so much like Karissa it is amazing. I often confuse them from behind (especially when sitting together) and call Katie Aunna "Karissa". Katie even carries her self much like Karissa. I love that Karissa has a ROYAL self assurance about her existence in the world and yet still needs her brother Christian. They are truly attached to one another in body, mind, and spirit. I swear Karissa can scrape her knee in the front yard and Christian comes out of the backyard with a scraped knee, too. They are very much a unit of two children acting as one child. They are also great at aligning with each other against their siblings!!!

Annie is a sweet little girl, though tall and thin, strong like a green tree branch. She has exactly Duane's long slender toes!!! She also looks so much like my little sister, Phyllis, that I am not sure if God took their characteristics from the two and actually made Annie for me;-). I will post Annie and my sister's picture again so you can see how much she looks like Phyllis. Annie is not as physically healthy as the other children due to her mild CP. She is in therapy several times per week by different professionals to keep her CP in check. I would love to avoid any surgeries on her legs. Annie is a very loving and lovable child. Although, when she does naughty things she tries to hide it. I always find out and she blames Mary!!! Ha Ha!!! Annie also is a big family person and enjoys her life very much. She has anxiety when she has to make contact with strangers and she is well bonded to Duane and I (Sib's as well).

Now, the baby of the family, John-John. He is a very quite little boy!!! His life revolves around eating, potty training, sleep, and lots of play. He was very weak when we first got him. However, John-John is gaining strength every day and improves with his speech delays (now that he is recovering from separation trauma while we were away). He is the most delayed developmentally of all the kids and requires special attention. Due to feeding circumstances in his orphanage he still can not chew very well. He has the ability to chew, but, would just rather be fed like a bird. That is, at top speed (like a baby bird from it's mother) and in a belly stuffing amount. A few big belches and a potty break, John-John is off to play his toys. Happy go lucky with life!!!

John-John the day we met him in the orphanage in Serbia. Such an empty look in his eyes!!!

John-John and Papa the night before we left Serbia for America with him. We had spent three weeks in Serbia with him at this point. He knew life was getting better every day and that these people (Duane, Mary, and I) loved him. We took Mary to Serbia and she really helped him become happy in Serbia with her carefree attitude and courageous spirit!!!
John-John swims with his head under water confidently.

He amazes me with the amount of food he is able to gobble up in one meal!!!! It all must be soft foods that he can practically swallow whole. The faster the better for this little fellow. Maybe, he will truly believe one day that "There IS more! Slow down take time to chew and enjoy the meal". He has progressed on this issue greatly. I am slowly getting him to accept more and more solid foods without choking from trying to swallow it whole and grab the next bite.

But, by and large, he is the most physically loving child a parent could ever want. Nothing makes his little heart race like when I pick him up and kiss and hug on him. Then he squirms down from my arms and he is off to P-L-A-Y!!!!! Periodically, he comes to see if I am here and then returns to his toys. John-John has always done this since he came home.

John-John sitting outside with me one early morning on the patio;-).

I am so thankful to God that He has chose me to be over loaded with kids...ha ha. Let's see....that's many spills to wipe, tears to dry, brawls to referee, accidental wetting of pants to change, year round school to operate, and a lot of laundry every day (3 loads for the boys, 3 loads for the girls, a combined red load of boys/girls clothes, plus one load each of towels and cleaning cloths). Meal preparation requires all the big kids (Casey, the twins, and Katie) to make, serve, and clean up. I'm hyper and keep a very neat house.

Duane asked me to get a domestic helper...I hired three house keepers to come in and clean during the week. It helps so much as they change bed sheets, do dusting, floors, and scouring. So that's nice. But, a nanny is out of the question. I don't want to miss or share one minute of my time with my precious little ones and I am selfish as I want them to only bond with me;-).

So I am at times feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, still fighting some jet lag, readjusting to our new one and integrating her into "our" routine. However, I am enjoying them all so much!!! I realize how fast the next 10 years will fly past me and I want to enjoy as much of these days as possible!!!!
Also, I want to mention that although we did not like staying 27 days in Russia away from our family here (the kids here suffered for our return) it was a good bonding time for Duane, Katie, and me. It gave me the opportunity to re-direct many of Katie Aunna's institutional behaviors while in Russia and it helped her to conform to our ways. She really got to know Duane and I and trust us completely by the time we left Russia. She also more easily blended with our other kids because she and I talked about home so much during this time. I love that picture I posted a while back where Katie is blending with her siblings. She looks so gracefully natural in the group of her siblings in America...her forever family!!!! BEAUTIFUL!!!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Another Day in Paradise

Removal of trampoline tarp to have a new one made for the kids;-). It's their favorite toy outside.
Christian was a bit surprised that it was just springs hanging there!!!

Well I am happy to report that all of our registration documents for Katie Aunna have arrived at Kids To Adopt. She can now be registered with the Russian Consulate. Whew....that's a load off of my mind!!! I feel a great obligation to fulfill my contract with the Russian Federation by registering Katie and sending in all of her post placement reports. She continues to amaze me with her use of English. Today, she said several things in English which surprised me. I also noticed she is wanting to communicate more and more with her siblings. Katie told Annie "Come on here" when she wanted Annie to come swim with her!!!

John-John was extra happy this morning. It was like he woke up adjusted to Katie Aunna and back to his old self today. I was getting very worried about him. My kids are very attached to me and he is our baby of the family. I had NEVER been away from John-John before and he was so traumatized. I can't decide what upset him most. The heart break of accepting that Duane and I were gone or the shock of a new child (much bigger than he) showing up with our return. But, thanks be to our God that he is back to normal today and started to talk again. It was like he was so traumatized he had stopped talking.

Anyway, he got up this morning and walked over to me, as I sat drinking my coffee and reading a magazine, and said "I want a banana"!!! I almost fell out of my chair and I know my mouth was hanging wide open. I grabbed him up and just kissed and hugged him!!! Of course, he got his banana;-). Here are some pix of him happily eating his banana this morning.

Thank-you, dear Lord, for giving me my John-John back!!! Isn't he a doll??? I think his "baby of the family" spot was challenged with an out of birth order addition to our family. However, he is doing well as of today and his appetite has returned.

It was also an eventful afternoon as Duane and the boys removed the trampoline tarp to have a new one made. The old one had a hole in it and was in bad need of replacement. The trampoline is one of the kids favorite toy!!! Yes, I know...they are dangerous. But, which part of life is not in some way or another?!?!?! Here are the pictures and one with Christian who discovered the missing tarp first. I had to take his picture as he came out right as they had removed the old tarp. We are also planning on buying an inexpensive swing set for the children this weekend. We had a horrible wind storm of 50-70 mph winds. It tore the tree house and jungle gym to pieces....waaaaa!!!!