Wednesday, February 25, 2009

This is a good day!

It’s Wednesday and I haven’t written this week. It’s a hard task to get done sometimes, but I love to write. Finding the time with three very needy kids is the hard part. Our schedule is very tight on Sunday night through Friday afternoon. I always look forward to the weekends, not so much as it is time off from work, but rather it is two days & nights that I can throw the schedule out the window. Well, OK, I like the time off, too! I let the kids stay up with me on Friday & Saturday nights. We cap off the day’s events with a family DVD or game time. These are the only two nights that the “big TV” gets used with the family.

Heidi’s sister, Sally, came to spend the weekend with us this past weekend. She flew in Thursday night and left Monday morning. The kids enjoyed meeting a new family member and Sally enjoyed the bonding time she spent with them. The Hibner sisters, Heidi & Sally, put on a good show at the pool doing flips and dives off the spring board on Sunday. Sally took them to DQ for ice cream treats that evening, too.

Heidi’s brother, Max, sent the kids four games in the mail. We received the package yesterday. All evening long while I cooked dinner, they kept asking if they could open the big box. I wanted them to wait until Heidi got home so that she could enjoy the scene. I must have told them ‘no’ about twenty times. Sometimes they listen, other times they just want their way. Firm and steady is the way with these three.

Heidi's cousin, Terri, sent the kids some more clothes last week. Of course, they love them! Kolya has a new favorite shirt and it is worn often. We have to make him take it off to wash it. Wearing a clean set of clothes everyday is still a new concept for them as is for most orphans. They only changed clothes and had a shower once a week at the Dietski Dom.

Thank you Sally, Max and Terri for the visits, clothes and games. It is really appreciated by us and the kids. Keeping kids in new clothes is not an easy task as many of you know. Your gifts are a big help!

And now, the latest on the kids.

The OT report for Julia came back this week. She does indeed exhibit strong Sensory Integration Disorder (SID). All of these things are correctable and can be overcome by her, it will just take time and we are determined to help see her through to the end with love and support. Our medical provider has signed her up for some PT and OT appointments in the next couple of weeks. The PT will probably not be needed after an initial assessment, but we will definitely go forward with the OT. We want to do anything and everything our little girl needs to be successful. We also completed a CT scan due to some head trauma from physical abuse that has come to light. Julia will follow up with a pediatric neurologist.

This past Monday we had our first child study at Julia’s school. There were many helpful teachers and counselors present for our appointment, all of them work in the school and see Julia on a regular basis. In attendance were the principal, the school counselor, the ESL teacher, Julia’s homeroom teacher, a speech therapist, an OT therapist, and some district representatives. Everyone there was willing to do whatever it takes to help Julia. While she still has a long way to go and we do not feel that a traditional 5th grade class is appropriate for her, Julia has made terrific strides. Her teacher report that suddenly, two weeks ago, Julia started becoming more active, more engaged, and started participating in group activities. We have noticed these things at home, too. She is starting to us her English words more instead of grunting. We all formulated a plan for Julia and we were all in agreement to emphasize and celebrate her successes. That is, promote and encourage more of the things that she is good at. The teachers feel that her confidence level is on the upswing and that this has enabled her to open up more. When she tires or if her confidence in a task is diminished, she gives up and regresses. The same thing happens at home and she usually melts before bedtime. Julia continues to be the sweet girl we all know her to be and I love our play time after dinner. She loves the “Papa-sandwich” and wrestles like a pro. This girl is strong and she is learning to control herself rather than being out of control as she was in the past.

Kolya continues to shine. He is making great marks in school and is learning English rapidly. He is a little comedian, too. He cracks me up. He also has a memory as sharp as a tack! I made a little comment yesterday morning when he found my missing Oakley lens. He reminded me later that evening that “I saved you $40 dollars”! I think he wants a reward or something. I reminded him of our “guys’ day out” on Saturday. I took him to get his first American haircut at the barbershop on Main Street. All of my barber buddies loved him. He got to stand with the barber when it was my turn and assist. Just a little off the top, Kolya. I survived! We then went to the store to buy him a new coat and later we went to a sports recycle shop and purchased him a skateboard. He was ecstatic! He loves his new skateboard and showed me many tricks on it. He said he used a skateboard at the Dietski Dom and that is where he learned. We ended the day with lunch at a little cafĂ©. His sisters were off at a birthday party, so Kolya got a lot of Mom, Dad, and Aunt Sally time afterwards. While outside, reclining on his skateboard, he told his Aunt Sally, “This is a good day!”

Nadia started soccer practice this week. She has to run a lot in the first two weeks to improve her conditioning. She really needs this outlet because she has nothing to do after school but annoy and pester her siblings. There’s a little bit more harmony in the house these days because we have been channeling activities in two different directions; one for her and another for the younger two. After Monday’s practice, Nadia could barely walk straight and was very sore. I snickered a few times and she told me that it wasn’t funny. I insisted that it was and she didn’t get mad. Nadia loves to snuggle with me when we watch a movie as a family. She still likes to hold my arm when we go places and I keep reminding myself that she will be too cool one day to do that with me. I hope she never grows out of it.

Rimma and Zina continue to be ever-present in my thought, my prayers. The orphanage director is requesting some insurmountable conditions to their summer stay with us. I’m not too happy with him at the present moment and it is not over the summer trip, really. It is all over his inaction over the registration of Zina. (Our Frontier Horizon contact tells us that he said that he is anti-adoption and that the children are better off in the orphanage system.) FH insists that all is not over with the summer trip and they are going to make a third counter-offer. But, I know, that it really is over and R & Z will most probably not be coming to stay with us, their family. Heidi or I will make a trip to Ukraine to see them again after the summer is over if this is the case.

On a brighter note, our registration contact says that she and the orphanage lawyer are working on Zina’s eventual registration. Signs are pointing to this happening soon. If so, we will go them both sometime in 2010.

So Kolya was right! “This is a good day!”

Monday, February 16, 2009

A chance for home

There may be a chance for Rimma and Zina to come home this summer for 10 weeks. We are cautiously optimistic that this will happen because we were shot down last summer. Things have changed and we are known to the powers that be in Ukraine this time. However, the situation could change and head south in the blink of an eye. I won't believe it until they pop out from behind the customs doors at DIA. It would be a blessing to have all our children under one roof, if only for a summer. R & Z have been asking to come, but we have told them that it is up to the orphanage. Pray that this happens.

For R & Z's possible trip, we have enlisted the help of our friends at Frontier Horizon who do summer-long hosting placements. We hosted two girls last year through them and it was truly a blessing. If you want to know what it will be like to adopt and live with a precious young child from Ukraine or if you are on the fence about international adoption, I urge you to host a child for the summer. They have three programs to choose from. A long program (10 weeks), a short program (a few weeks) and a Christmas vacation program. Give KT or Dr. Rosini a call. All information is on their website. Whether or not you choose to do these programs will not affect R & Z's chance to come home. If they are approved, we will bring them home. But there are so many more that want the chance to come to America and live with a family. Many get left behind. Think it over.

Perhaps a long term hosting program is not idea for you. The cost and commitment may be too much for you. Perhaps you want to get involved for a couple of weeks, a couple of days, or a couple of hours. In that case, please remember that our annual Ukraine Orphan Outreach (UOO) ministry will bring 8-10 kids each year. The 2009 Summer Camp is coming up! This is an excellent way to meet the kids and devote as much time or resources as you want to afford. You can always volunteer at an activity or partake in the event(s) and just watch the fun happen.

In either case, your life will be changed. It changed our lives. Both opportunities opened our eyes to the delight of older orphan children who want and need a family as much, if not more than the youngest little ones. Come, be a part of this year's UOO camp. Don't let this summer pass you by again without feeling this experience.

~ Felix ~

Sore arms & tender hearts

Last Thursday was a hard day, indeed! It was Doctor-Day or "many ouches" as stated by all three. The inevitable was upon us and rather than start an all-out sibling war, we decided to do all the kids' medicals all at once. I think we started somewhere around 2:30 and by the time it was all over, we left at 6:30. We chose a local pediatrician through our health care provider the month before and this was the first day we could get in and get it all done. Well, almost all done, we still have to return this week for the TB testing.

The first order of business was physicals with the doc. One by one, the doctor gave them a clean bill of health from a physical aspect. She entered all the information that was known about them from their Ukrainian and US State Department forms. Presto, bink and just like that, the trusty computer said that they all needed more shots...NOW! Everyone but Kole got four more, He got three. The cocktail consisted of a Hep A, a Hep B, a Meningitis, and a tetanus shot. Yikes, I felt so bad for them.
There were a lot of unhappy kids...and the fun wasn't over, yet! While I made appointments for the TB test for the following week, Heidi took them over to the lab for a blood draw. Ugh, four shots and now this! The lady who was on duty was none other than my friend, "No Pain, Lorraine". Her self-appointed moniker is a result of her tender care and ability to make a normally unpleasant situation painless. She's the best and usually does all the kids that come into the lab. I'm a big baby when it comes to blood work, so I go to Lorraine, too! She did both of my draws during our adoption process.
The kids were finally finished and looked like they had gone through the wringer! Poor guys, I really felt bad for them, but it needed to be done. We were sent home with "toilet homework" if you know what I mean. That's what I call true love!
The next day, Heidi had to leave work early because the schools called. Both girls were sick and running a fever from all the shots. Julia recovered in a couple of hours and Nadia felt better after sleeping for a few hours. We made both girls stay in their rooms and they couldn't watch TV or play. This was to ward off any possibility of future thinking that all they need do is say they are sick and go home from school. Both girls were fine by days end. Kolya was a trooper, he stayed at school and reported that he felt fine. Except for a little lingering soreness, all kids are OK today.
Oh, I almost forgot. The adoption story about the Volf kids and our kids came out in the Sunday paper. Here are two hyperlinks. One is the article and the other is for a photo slide show. I also have them linked on the right side of this blog.
~ Felix ~

Sunday, February 15, 2009


An individual has not started living
until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns
to the broader concerns of all humanity.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

I came upon this quote this weekend while surfing the web and I couldn't shake it or leave it be, so I thought I'd write about it. I spent the greater part of my young life in pursuit of the accumulation of perishable and insignificant "stuff". Sure, I was raised a Christian and spent my boyhood years following Christ's example. But once I went out on my own, I fell into that trap with everyone else in this world, a self-serving, self-centered way of life. I was never completely satisfied and always wanted more. I regret not knowing our Lord and Savior on a more personal relationship all those years. As the song says, "Lord you never let go of me". Thank you for hanging onto and waiting for me.
Sometimes we all have to be blinded like Paul to be reminded of our free gift. Mine came in 2001. I won't go into the details, that's another story. In short, I lost everything near and dear to me and had to start over in life at 35. The next year I met Heidi and everything changed. She has helped me succeed in ways I couldn't imagine. She had it all together and she taught me how to be a better person. I had already restarted my journey with God, in fact it's a private joke with us that our relationship started on a Sunday morning in March 2002 while I was in Bible class. The one thing I was able to give back to her was a personal relationship with Christ. Heidi was raised Catholic and was saved in her youth, but she felt disillusioned and left behind, she was "searching", as I had been. We married in 2004 and started our walk together, seeking a relationship with Christ that we so desperately wanted. That's when it happened, we started living, really living.
Heidi and I have been blessed over the years. Blessed with great jobs, blessed with our own home, blessed with steadiness while the rest of the nation struggles during our bleak economy, blessed with great friends. But most of all, we have been blessed with seven children. Let's count them: Jessica 20, Jordan 15, Zina 13, Nadia 12, Rimma 12, Julia 11, and Kolya 9, in that birth order. Yes, they are a blessing. They were not born from Heidi, but rather a gift from God. One has moved on to college, one lives with her mom, three are with us and two (R&Z) are family awaiting in Ukraine for mom and dad.
In the end, it's not about all the material stuff you can accumulate. I remember Christ's charge to all of us to take care of the widow, the orphan, the stranger. You don't have to adopt to follow His request, there are many other ways. Thank you Dr. King for reminding me of that and thank you Lord for sending me that message. That's what "Living" is to me!
~ Felix ~

Monday, February 9, 2009

House Rules

My Pirate Sailing flag & Family Motto (just kidding)

We were honored to be asked today for the rules we have at our house. Friends of ours want to establish a new beginning with their child and asked us to tell them what is working for us. I'm no parental authority when it comes to kids. I just analyze the situation and make a plan accordingly. Sometimes I get it right, other times it's a scratch and we start over. So I was deeply honored to be asked. Thanks guys!
Over the years the rules have changed or been eliminated depending upon the age range and maturity. Everyone from Jess & Jordan, the camp kids, the girls this summer, to our three have had some version of the rules. I'm firm but fair when it comes to the rules and a lie will get you in more trouble than if you fess up and face the music. Of course tween kid rules are vastly different than teenage dating daughter rules. House rules are different than outside rules. You get the picture!

I keep them short and simple, too. Young, developing minds can only grasp so much. The experts will tell you that when correcting an adopted child that you must keep things simple and not too much information at once. Anything more you start to sound like Charlie Brown's teacher and you get that "deer in the headlights" look. We keep it to 10 short sentences. The rules are as follows:

  1. Be nice to everyone.
  2. Keep your room tidy and make your bed every morning.
  3. If you make a mess, clean it up immediately.
  4. Return your things to your room after use.
  5. Turn off lights, water, radio, television when not using them.
  6. Eat only in the Kitchen and at the tables.
  7. Wash hands before and after eating and when returning from outside.
  8. Children will do dishes, clear table, and sweep after every meal.
  9. This is your home, take care of it.
  10. Obey Mama and Papa when you are told to do something.
Rule number one has always stayed the same and is a cornerstone for all the rules to follow. It all hinges on rule #1. When someone acts up or starts an argument usually all we have to do is call his or her name and they respond, "I know, rule number one". The other day I heard Kolya telling Nadia to obey rule #1. Don't ya just love it when they get it!

Rule number 10 is my catch 22. If I missed a rule or something new happens, I pull that one out! That way, I don't have to hear Nadia tell me,
"Papa, take out trash is no rule!"
"Ah yes it is sweetie! See rule number 10!"
"Is no fair, rule number 10!"
"Hey, hey, Nadia! Remember rule number 1!"
"Me know, me know, BEEEEE NICCCEEEEE, Ughh!" (with a roll of the eyes)

See how that works!

Each child has a copy of the rules pinned on their bedroom wall. There is a copy on the fridge in case they need another look. One day while Lilya was here, I had them all write the rules in Ukrainian just below the English sentence. They can't tell me that they don't understand the rules. "Nyet poni-my-yo" doesn't cut it, sister!

I'd be interested in hearing what rules you have established at your home. Perhaps I will adapt them to ours. Yours may be verbal or understood. You might have a list like we do or maybe anything goes at your place. No one family is exactly alike and different circumstances dictate different outcomes. Our three need structure and rely on the 10 rules to guide them out of trouble, or into it as it always seems.

Gotta run, some one's yelling that someone else is violating rule #6 and munching on a peanut 3 inches outside the safe food eating area! Danger Will Robinson, DANGER!

~ Felix ~

New adopting friends

Thank you to the families that responded to my request to add folks to "our friends adoption blogs" listing. I hope to get more over the next few days. Let us know about your story. You are truly doing God's work.

Marcie & Josh, welcome! You are friends now and we are excited for your chosen path! Thank you for the privileged of listing you. Now we have a new story to follow. Whoo-hoo!

Natasha & Erik, welcome! Wow, leaving in a couple of weeks, huh! I had no idea! We are glad you chose to tell us about your adoption. Of course we will pray for you and the process. Been there, done that! Support in just the form of a little comment now and then does wonders for the heart! Good on ya!

Cornethia & Jim Bob, welcome! I didn't ask permission to add you, hope it's alright. I noticed that you have the same SDA appointment day as Natasha & Erik. Cool, you'll meet someone that you have been following! Thanks for all the kind words over the past year!

God bless you all, glad to have you. I used to wait and ask folks, but I feel that if you are commenting on our blog and have been doing so for awhile, you won't mind us sharing your story. In fact, I may back and look at some past comments and post some new folks that are adopting. If you rather not be heard, let me know. I'll respect your wishes and won't post your comment as well. If you can't wait to get listed or if I missed ya, please let me know that too. After all, I'm busy times three these days. Sometimes a few details fall through the cracks.

~ Felix ~

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I Love You!

Those three little words...Ahhhh! Don't you love to hear them. We are waiting on the day that our girls tell us. I can see that they do and perhaps and day it will slip out. We are more than patient. We, however, tell them at every turn, a hundred times a day. We also give spontaneous hugs and kisses. They just need to be showered with love and that's just what we do.
Nadia and Julia are the best snugglers and they love to be held by either one of us. Nadia kisses me on the cheek every time we part ways or meet at the end of the day. She is still building trust. Julia is, well, just Julia, so we don't hear it from her. Heidi told Julia one night that she loves her and Julia replied, "Me too". Heidi said, "You love Julia, too!" She giggled and said, "No, I love you." So Love is there, just never spoken by the girls.
Kolya tells us all the time now. He will do so in front of others. Last night at bedtime, he presented us with a few self-made Valentines cards. One said, "I love you, Papa", the other, "I love you Mama" and the third was a combo, "I love you Momma & Papa"! He routinely walks up to us and hugs us for very long periods of time. Kolya wouldn't let go last night at bedtime, so I pulled away, still he wouldn't let go. I asked if something was wrong. He said, "No". I asked if he just needed more lovin' and he said "Yes". Then came those three little words, "I love you"! Uuhh, I could have died happy right then.

We had parent-teacher conferences last night. Suffice it to say, everyone knows of Julia's special needs, so it wasn't a shock to hear the reports of school life thus far for her. She has some OT this week and some more evaluations planned in the near future. She is bored with her lessons because she doesn't understand the processes or the language. That student study can't come quick enough for her.

Kolya & Joshua at the airport

Kolya is a star pupil in his class and the teacher reported that everyone wants to be Kolya's friend. He actively engages and is learning English rapidly through his immersion into school. His cognitive level is also coming along. He did a rather tough graphing math problem with no trouble. His teacher says that he is very neat and has the nicest handwriting. Kolya gets to write a new Ukrainian word on the board each day to show his class. The teacher reports that everyone waits in anticipation of this word everyday. He helps them pronounce it and this gives him the added confidence he needs to succeed.

Changing gears now. I've noticed, as I update the 'Friends' blog area over there on the right, that most everyone we know or follow has come home. I can't wait to start updating the Hoffmann blog and the Christopherson's blog. Pretty soon, everyone will be "Home"! We've got to get some new friends up there! Let us know about your adoption blog and we will add you.

Speaking of friends, I miss a few on the other side of the world. We miss you Becky & Nadia, Eunice & Kevin, Karen, Olga & Sasha, Rollie & Leena, Andrea & Sergie, Natasha & Luba, Oksana, Vera & Sasah F, and all the orphans we have met through the camps. You are ever present in our thoughts, dreams and prayers. You guys are the 'salt of the earth' and we love you all. Especially missed and loved are Rimma & Zina, our daughters in our hearts! Nadia, Julia & Kolya know of you and tell everyone that you will too come home one day. They are eager to meet their new sisters.

~ Felix ~

Monday, February 2, 2009


Routines, I like routines. Things are getting settled and the kids are adjusting to their new surroundings. Everyone knows what to expect and when. Nadia knows the bus picks her up at 7:20 and drops her off at 3:05. Julia and Kole know that their bus is at 8:15 and they get home at 3:55. Mom or Dad is not to far behind at 4 to 5 pm and dinner is usually at 6 sharp, and always as a family. When Mom or Dad gets home we start dinner and homework needs to have been completed or attempted. After dinner to 7 is time for family games, homework help or telling us about their day. Showers are at 7 and bedtime is at 8pm for Julia and Kole and Nadia stays up until 8:30. Everyone gets a bedtime story, but this needs to be done before the appointed lights out, which is the same as bedtime. Mom and Dad unwind from 8:30 until our bedtime of 10 or earlier if really tired. The TV isn't allowed on for the kids from Sunday night through Thursday night with the exception of after school and after homework time before Mom and Dad get home. We may, once or twice a week watch a Tivo'ed program from that 8:30 to 10 pm window I spoke of earlier. Thursday nights are church nights and the schedule gets pushed back about 30 minutes. Also, there isn't time for bedtime stories since we get home right at the kid's bedtimes. But they experience spiritual growth and get taught the importance of our Lord and Savior, so it's time well spent.

On weekends, things change a bit. We get outside more and the schedule goes out with the wash. Saturdays mornings are meant for cleaning and tidying up their rooms. Each Saturday, one kid gets his.her turn with Mom at the grocery store. This is something we learned with the girls we had this past summer. Things can get out of control and go downhill fast with three kids in tow at a supermarket!

The rest of the weekend is made up as we go. We (Mom & Dad) are usually burned out from the week long schedule and just want to take it easy. The exception to this is that we try to do a family pizza night on Friday night with a movie. Sometimes that gets pushed over to Saturday night if we did something else on Friday night. I have been buying the Jiffy-Pop pans and letting each kid pop their own popcorn on the stove, with supervision of course. I make a big game of it with usually some sort of goofy singing like, "shake that pan like a Polaroid picture". They laugh and think it's hysterical, another one of those things that, in time, I will lose to teenage "un-cool-ness". For now, they think I hung the moon and I don't want them to know any different.

We play a lot of "Papa sandwich", which is nothing more than them piling on me or tackling me around the ankles until I fall, then piling on me again. I love it and it works out a lot of their energy, too. I'm not sure where we got the term from, but I'm usually the bottom piece of bread. Bicycles and roller blades are a big hit, too. I ride with them a few times each week.

When I got back from Ukraine I started my workout and weight-loss plan. I get up MWF mornings and go to the gym and I started adding running to my exercise regime a couple of weeks back. You can see my progress on my other new blog. The kids like to ride their bikes when I do my long run of 40-60 minutes on Saturday morning. Usually it is just two of them as the third is taking their turn with Mom at the supermarket. Needless to say, I am tired and fall asleep when my head hits the pillow each night. But I love our routine! It's one I can live with.

Unbeknownst to the kids, we cook everything on the Weight Watchers plan for family dinners, when I'm home. This includes the pizza night. The cool thing about WW is that everything is real food and is no different than what you might eat anyways. Each dinner consists of a "smartly" cooked meal with lots and lots of vegetables and fruit, two things they can't get enough of. On the odd occurrence that we can't eat at home or we get invited somewhere, it is I that watch the meal and take care of myself. No need for the family to have to conform to my problem. I just exercise portion control and all is fine. I help do a fair share of cooking, too. Tonight's dish was Creole Chicken and rice with a side of chopped up fruit. I went out on a limb with a touch of spiciness. It was a big hit The kids picked the side dish of cantaloupe. See regular food, just sneaked in healthy stuff!
Our friends the Volfs brought their new family home this past Thursday, We all went to the airport to welcome them home. Ashley and Nadia hit it off from the start. The two families went to the pool on Sunday and everyone had a blast. I skipped out for some much needed "me time". Afterwards, I caught up with them and we all went to their house to watch the big game. It was a great party and another chance to let all the kids play together. The kids weren't too interested in the game, they just wanted to watch the 3-D Disney ad during the half-time show. We left at a reasonable hour in time to get back into the bedtime routine.
Kolya had his orthodontist appointment this morning and the doc came up with a plan of action. Kolya will need two cavities filled and one is a baby tooth that the doctor said could be made into a permanent tooth, since there is no permanent tooth behind it. He will need a third one pulled. Once Kole turns 12, he will be started on braces and will need to wear a retainer until he is 21. At the age of 21 he will undergo implants to replace the missing teeth. I didn't get a clear picture on what will happen with the two "sideways" teeth that are growing in wrong.
Both girls got a trim at the hair salon this weekend. They enjoyed that. Of course it is still a big competition for our attention. On Friday we had a big melt-down when Mom and Dad had to go see the specialist about Julia's future. We have formulated a plan for her, more about that at a later time. Well, we were gone just too long and the bottom fell out. A lot of tears and fits came about as a result. Oh well, I guess they are attached! More problems ensued over the course of the weekend from Nadia. She is trying to maintain her control over everything and we just won't let her have the reins. I sometimes forget that she is a child. She reminds me of it every time she throws a fit. I maintain control and composure and when she gets out of hand I deal with her firmly and swiftly. That bumps her back to center until the next crisis comes along.
The kids have taught us the importance of routines. Things get out of whack when something unknown comes along or the schedule gets amended. I keep reminding myself that these are wounded angels entrusted to our care. They are still hurting and mending. We keep them close and under our wings for the time being. I know our friends and family understand the need to stay at home and "nest" with them.
~ Felix ~

About Us

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Longmont, Colorado, United States
Heidi loves to play sand volleyball, sail and garden. Felix loves to fly at the local aeroclub, sail and fish.