Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mr. Mom

First things first, Kolya's new word of the week is "destroyed". Heidi and I started a new Kolya word of the week game just recently. The rules, unbeknown to him or his sisters, are that he must totally surprise us with it's use, it must be a word that he learned on his own, and of course it has to be a word that we have never heard from him before. Last week his word was "hexagon"! OK, proud dad moment over.

Yesterday, the lovely Miss Heidi took off to the "Big Town" of Tulsa, Oklahoma for some training. So I'm playing Mr. Mom until Thursday night. No biggie, I'm in the zone! I'm juggling work, kids, guitar lessons, running club, boot camp, Thursday night youth group at church, cooking and pressure from my fly fishing buddies to go fish every afternoon. Actually, fishing is not pressure, if I could find a way to cast whilst cooking dinner, scheduling showers and tucking kids into bed, I'd be hooking onto that big rainbow trout I missed a couple of weeks back at the Big Thompson! Hey, fish gotta eat, too!

I'm not boasting about all the stuff going on in my life. Miss Heidi does a lot of work when she is home, probably way more than me. She's the glue that holds us all together. Also, I applaud single moms for their ability to juggle all of life's demands. I personally know two, Joe's mom (my little brother from the program) and my baby sister who is doing it all and visiting her incapacitated husband in the hospital, all the while explaining to her two little boys why Dad can't speak or move. Having been a single parent myself, I have sympathy for the hard work it takes to raise kids on your own. So this little soiree is nothing compared to what Heidi goes through on my drill weekends and outings or what my Little's mom and my sister cope with daily. I just have to remind myself to slow down and be compassionate with the kids. I get into this zone I spoke about and I'm all business. Nadia and Kolya need direction, but they take it well and with the first attempt. Julia still needs constant direction and quizzing. A typical event goes like this:

D: Julia, when we get home I want you to take a shower and put on your PJ's.
D: Julia, what are we going to do when we get home?
J: Put on PJ's and take a shower.
D: Uhh, no, turn it around!
J: Ohh, ha-ha, Dad! I get PJ's wet that way!

(then as we walk in the door, she sits down or wanders off)

D: Julia, what are you supposed to be doing?
J: Take a shower?
D: Yes, and what else?
J: Uhh, put on PJ's?
D: Yes, great job! (here's where i tum off the all business attitude and show compassion) Now let's help Dad by getting this done. (big hug, big kiss)

Then I repeat the above steps a few more times before the actual task of showering and PJ's gets done at all. Meanwhile, everyone else has moved on to the next task, which usually is helping with dinner. Family time comes after dinner, but this week, we have thrown a dog into the mix! Yep, we took the plunge! More on that in another post later this week.

I really do love and relish my role as Dad and helping Heidi with raising our children. It's so much fun and when they get it and things click, all the hard work pays off! That being said, I look forward to a little downtime from when we put them in bed (8pm) and when I turn off my nightstand. Depending on the day I've had or if I'm tired that's anywhere between 9 & 10 pm. I read a book or surf the Internet with the laptop during this time, sometimes I watch the only two TV programs I Tivo, but only after the kids are in bed. (They don't get TV at night during the week. They are allowed cartoons before school, only.)

As I drift off to sleep, that ever-elusive Rainbow trout rises to the surface to inspect my entomological offering. Most nights he stares at it and swims off. Other nights he refuses to budge, snickering at me as if to say, "you gotta do better than that Rogé! Your fly pattern is weak, your presentation is off, and the current has your 'bug' scooting sideways in the drift! Hmmn, not believable, not even close!"

~ Felix ~

Monday, March 30, 2009

Happy Birthday, Nadia!

Today is Nadia's birthday! I have another teenager, she turned 13 today. I am happy that Nadia has new opportunity, a new home and a new family. She continues to learn and grow and her English is remarkable. She is still a bit shy with new people and sometimes refuses to answer back to questions posed to her in English. I usually remind her that it is rude to not answer and this usually elicits a "hello" or "thank you" from her.

It is Teresa's birthday, too! She and Jim are in Ukraine right now and hope to bring their three boys home for good, right soon!

I often wonder about adoptive children's bio parents and whether or not such parents remember or reflect upon their former kids' birthdays. This started for me when we celebrated Rimma and Zina's birthdays for the first time last year. Is there someone on the other side of the world that thinks of our 5 children and remembers them on their special day. Someone bore them for 9 months and then gave birth to them, surely they remember this difficult and uncomfortable task.

If ever asked, I will tell our kids that their parents did the best for them that they could under very harsh circumstances and that it was God's plan to deliver them into our loving and waiting arms. I thank Him everyday for giving them to us and I pray diligently for Rimma and Zina's eventual adoption. Zina's predicament is ever-present in my thoughts and prayers.

~ Felix ~

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Weathering the Storm

We are hunkered down at home today, weathering the storm, both figuratively and physically. The post is late this week due to a family problem. Our oldest, Nadia, is in big trouble and we had a huge "come to Jesus" meeting this past Tuesday. Yes, the honeymoon is over and I am in super-dad mode. Although our kids have had a difficult past and one is mindful of their orphan past, they have a family now and we are in charge...a lesson that Nadia experienced this week when I had to bring forth the hammer, so to speak.

I won't go into great detail about it as this is a family issue and she has suffered great consequences as a result of her actions. Suffice it to say that she is extremely apologetic and we will be visiting several children this week so that she may express her apology and request forgiveness. She has realized that someone does care enough about her to correct her and show her the way to be a good person and to love and respect her friends, family, and God. Nadia is definitely a changed girl this week and she and both Heidi and I are closer than ever to her as a result of our corrections. It is as if she has been waiting for us to show her that we can administer punishment as good as we show her love. She knows that we are her forever parents and that we will always love her even if she does something to anger or hurt us. This is a new concept to her because every other adult in her life has hurt or mistreated her and trust is a hard thing to give over. She told me that she loves us and is so sorry to have temporarily lost our trust and to have disappointed us. She in turn trusts us and said that telling us that she loves us isn't so hard anymore. She always has, but it was difficult to say so. Nadia is a hurt child, but the healing has begun, starting with that first contact back in November

Now for the weather. We were forewarned about our first blizzard of the year around Monday or so. Well, it is here in full force! We are receiving snow at the rate of 2" per hour.

Here's Casa Rogé at the onset of the Spring blizzard. The kids have a snow day and school is closed as are most businesses. Mom went to work and I left right after this picture to try and put in a day at the office. Hard to believe that it has been in the 70's the past few weeks. Take note that the flowering pear tree in the front yard there was already in bloom.

About halfway to work, about 20 minutes later, I got the call that our company was closing the doors for the day. Heidi works at CU and her campus had already closed, but she remained at work to catch up on some projects. I went back home to enjoy a free day with the kids!

Around noon or so, it was snowing so hard that I couldn't see down the street! It stopped snowing around 2pm and I took the opportunity to shovel the two feet of snow off the drive so that Heidi could get into the garage. She was on her way home. The kids helped me shovel and they played in the snow a little, too. So what is there to do when you're snowed in and mom and dad is home? Family games, of course! Here's a picture of Heidi playing twister with the kids!

Not a fair match when you take into account the youthfulness and flexibility of the kids! But Heidi was a trooper! I do "papa-sandwich", she does twister.

Heidi wants me to tell you all that Kole used the word "hexagon" in a sentence the other day. He constantly amazes us with his vocabulary and he never forgets something you tell him. I often forget this sometimes and I wonder if he really understands what I am telling him. I'm convinced that he does know because he regularly recants the stories to his mom and sibs. I stand in awe when he does. He doesn't forget the details, either.

Julia is doing well in school, too and her English is coming along quite nicely now. We still are working with her OT and speech issues, but four weeks ago she turned a corner and it is like a light has come on in her brain. She is making remarkable strides and is quite funny, often cracking a joke and making us laugh. I am so happy for her, she is an amazing young lady. It will be a privilege to watch her grow and develop over the years.

~ Felix ~

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sports & More...

The weather has been unseasonably warm the past few weeks and everyone has been getting outside and playing more. I’m still doing my boot camp program three days a week, but I also started a running program, too. Every year I run with a club 12 weeks in advance to train for the Bolder Boulder 10K. This year I have three training buddies who ride bikes alongside me. It’s a good way to get in family exercise.

The kids, of course, get plenty of exercise during their daily play. We live on a wide, relatively quiet street and our kids are usually riding bikes on that street or playing in the backyard. One of the more popular games we play is Street Tennis. No net is needed, but if you miss your volley on the downhill side, there can be lots of running to catch a fly-away bouncing ball! Heidi usually plays this game with them and stands on the downhill run. Here, Jackie O, aka Miss Julia, shows her good form while returning Heidi’s serve.

Nadia started Soccer practice a few weeks ago and her first game was this past Tuesday. She and Ashley are on the same JV team in middle school. They both have practice twice a week and play once a week, either on a Tuesday or a Thursday. They won their first game 2-0 on the other team’s turf. Nadia plays guard and got in on some action once or twice. I did see her clear the ball once. Here is Nadia “outstanding in her field”. (Snicker, snicker, I’ve been waiting all season to use that one!)

Kole is getting in some sports as well. At home he likes our wiffle-ball batting practice. He can hit it over the fence into the neighbor’s yard. We toss his football a lot too. Boy does he have an arm. His spiral is good and tight and puts mine to shame. I need to practice! Kole likes to try new tricks on his skateboard too and is always asking me to watch his latest move. A sloped driveway and a slight downhill street make for some interesting tricks. Right now, Mom has taken away his skateboard for a few days because he did not heed her warnings to wear his helmet. Usually this is not a problem, but Tuesday during Nadia’s game, he had to be told three times. The first two times resulted in time-ins with Mom, the latter was a restriction. For the past three days, the skateboard has enjoyed rides to Mom’s work place in the back of her car.

Our second oldest daughter, Jordan, flew in last Saturday for her Spring Break. She goes home this Sunday. The kids love her and she is “too cool” because she is older. Of course, these three have never had another sister, let alone an older one. Julia dotes on her and can be usually found hand in hand with her new sister. I’ve gotta introduce Jordan to “Papa-sandwich” and let her be the one at the bottom of the pile. It is sweet to her the playful banter of sisters in the house. Jordan really enjoys her new role as big sister. She used to be the youngest. On occasion I have viewed from afar her being role model and mentor to the two girls, this affirms that we are all family now and forever!

Here’s Jordan and Nadia jamming to Guitar Hero. The kids are only allowed to play it after home work and before dinner during school days, and then for only 30 minutes. Quibbling or arguments result in 10 minute losses of time. On the weekends, they get one hour. At first, I thought that we would have big problems sharing or wanting to play it all day, every day. But, this has not been the case. They usually only play it once or twice a week, forgetting about it due to other goings-on and they share and don’t argue over it. In case you’re wondering, the missed time is not accumulated. If they miss all week, they still only get the 30 or 60 minutes per day. So far it has worked.

Kole started his dental repair last week after I posted. He had three teeth pulled (rotten baby teeth), three fillings, and one crown. He returns next Thursday for the second half which is more of the same. Over the course of the next 10 years, he will need about eight implants to “make” teeth that he will never develop. He is missing eight to ten permanent teeth that never grew due to nutrition and childhood disease in his baby years. He will also need spacers, retainers and braces to make room for these future implants. I told him that he will have a million dollar smile when we finish all of his treatments.

Nadia’s birthday is on Monday the 30th of March. She turns 13! We will have a party that preceding weekend. Nadia has already made a list of the things she wants to cook for her invited guests. Borscht and Soshleek (sp?) were at the top of the list as I remember. Cake and ice cream were on the list too.

So, life goes on with our family. I’m sorry that the post was late this week. I’ll probably be late two weeks from now, too. That’s when I get to play Mr. Mom for the week while Heidi goes to Tulsa for a conference or training event. Whoo-hoo! Fun times are a comin’! I’m not worried though. It will be just a little more work than usual, but I can handle it!

~ Felix ~

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My first "I Love You"

Well, it finally happened, but hasn't happened since. Just the one occurrence despite my continued, "I love you, Nadia" offerings 20 times a day. Kole & Julia have been saying it for weeks, now.

You may remember that Friday or Saturday nights are family movie nights at home. We make a big deal of it, sometimes we have pizza, but almost always we pop some popcorn. I'm gonna have my man-card revoked for telling you this, but this past week's movie was Beverly Hills Chihuahua. Oh boy, I can hear Matt groaning now! He's gonna let me have it! In my defense, the "tweens" wanted to see it and I just wanted that precious cuddling time. Oops, there's that word again! I snoozed during most of it and had to Google how to spell "Chihuahua" if that helps my cause.

Nadia was tucked in close on the sofa and during a "tender" moment when said petite canine was lost and was trying to get home...

N: "Aww, Popi, poor Cloe Chihuahua no gets home!"

F: "It's OK, Nadia. Every Disney movie has a happy ending."

N: "Yeah, you think Cloe get home?!"

F: "Yes, sweetie!"

F: "I love you, Nadia"

N: "I love you, too Popi"

F: "Ahhhhhhhh!"

Ahh, exquisite joy. Thank you Beverly Hills Chihuahua movie people! I waited a few minutes and went into the kitchen where Heidi was visiting with our friend, Aimee. I related the above story. She told me that earlier in the day, Nadia announced to her that Kole and Julia were mama's babies. But, she, was a daddy's girl!

I'm still trying to wipe the permanent smile off my face!

~ Felix ~

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Watched Over

photo by Karen Springs

Above is a picture of our dear friend and missionary, Karen Springs. In addition to all the work she does for CBN, volunteer work putting on plays with older orphan girls and summer camp involvement, she finds time to visit the children that she has met over the years in these various activities. Pictured with her are our Rimma and Zina for whom we are working out some registration issues. If you have kept up with this blog, you know the story.

Karen sees the girls from time to time and reports back to us on their conditions and state of mind. She watches over them for us, and for a worried Papa, this is welcomed attention. We have a network of friends in the city of Kherson that can also help us out in a moment's notice should R and Z have an immediate need. Friends, Oksana, Sergey, Anatoly and his son Andrei, Sasha & Vera, and the folks at the House of Bible are there, to name a few. But it is Karen, with our ability to talk and e-mail with each other, not have things "lost in translation" and clearly understanding of our intentions that is the true blessing. Thank you, Karen, for all you do!

In a recent e-mail Karen told us of Rimma's excitement to join our family. For those of you that have never met Rimma, she doesn't like to show emotion or get "mushy". But every now and then she relaxes her guard and shows you her feelings. Both are eagerly awaiting Zina's registration and looking forward to 2010. Karen wrote (reprinted with permission):

"Hi Heidi and Felix, here are some pictures from my time with the girls in Kherson this past weekend. I got to see them on Saturday and Sunday, which was really fun. Both seemed in good spirits and as always-- growing up!! Rimma said some really sweet things about being excited to come with you and both girls are anxiously waiting for 2010!! Both of their maturity and understanding of the situation continues to amaze me-- they are two special girls... "

Heidi talked to Rimma & Zina this past weekend. She said that Rimma was especially jubilant and animated. Both girls are excited to be coming to us for the three weeks in August. How they found out is a mystery. If you want to keep a secret, don't tell the Kherson orphanage. At first Rimma was bummed about not coming for the whole summer, but she quickly realized that she could attend some of her singing "engagements" and even a portion of the orphanage summer camp. So she perked up and was thankful for the time she will be home. Rimma shared that her biggest worry about the summer hosting and adoption for that matter is her lack of English skills. This isn't the first time that she has expressed this concern. Rimma is bashful and shy and she is easily embarrassed when she attempts her English. Heidi assured her that she will be fine and that our three kids are learning English and will help her. She made her mom promise to meet her half-way by learning some more Russian. Rimma said, "Mom, you learn some more Russian and I'll learn some more English"! She also reported that she made has all A's (or their equivilent) in school. Rimma asked a few questions about her new brother and sisters and said to say hello before she and mom ended the call. It is great that all of our children already know what's in store for them and that adding to the family is a sure thing.

Oh, and Zina said to me last week, "Papa, I still want Colorado!" I assured her that we will always want her too! Ugh, sweet girl!

~ Felix ~

Monday, March 9, 2009

Rogé to the nineth power

Possible future Rogé 12-pack hauler??
OK, I’ll start off by admitting that this post is a rip-off from our friends, the Landrum’s! Back in January 2008, Leslie wrote a cute post about the math of raising a large family. It is hilarious! She is my favorite blog writer and I love the way she tells the story. I wish I could write half as well as she. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that she is an English teacher? Therefore, I’ll go with the old saying, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. She wrote:
It first hit me that some things just aren't going to be the same when I was
grocery shopping and realized that my brand of breakfast sausages only came six
to a pack. Now I am off mathematically! Also, when we dine out the gratuity is
automatically included in our bill as if we are a party of people or something.
There are no additional legal seating options left in our car. When I cook
breakfast I use eighteen eggs and an entire pack of bacon. Our washing machine
broke so we went to the laundry mat to do our clothes. We occupied fifteen
washing machines (almost the entire laundry mat)!! We take up a pew and a
quarter at church and a whole block when we ride our bikes. There are a few
perks that we now have as well. If we use the hair cut card that you get stamped
for each cut, we automatically qualify for a free cut. And if we go to get ice
cream we use up all the stamps in one shot, immediately qualifying us for a free
That got me to thinking as well. Right now, we are a family of five. Six when you take into the fact that our daughter Jordan comes home every Spring break, Thanksgiving or Christmas break and all summer. On the rare occasion that my oldest daughter Jessica comes in from out-of –state, we could swell to seven. Every two weeks or so, I go and pick up my “little”, Joe, from the Big Brother, Big Sisters program and he hangs out with me and the family. That makes eight! Rimma and Zina will be here for three weeks in August and we will one day have them home for good. Now we are nine minus Joe, ten with him. Nine is an odd number and lately I’ve been thinking that we could add an extra kido to the R & Z adoption trip in 2010. You know, make it an even ten. Normal household numbers could be eight by 2010! Don’t even get me started on the kids each summer on the UOO camp!

With those numbers, think of the pints, the pounds, the prices and the perks. Feel free to comment and give me your additions. (Yep, audience participation required.)
  • We could field our own baseball team!
  • We could play both sides of the court in basketball!
  • A package of hot dog buns won't be enough!
  • Neither will a pack of hot dogs
  • Sam's club or Costco would love us!
  • Cheaper by the dozen won't be just a movie anymore!
  • The washer & dryer would no longer be considered "durable goods"
  • HOV lane would take on a whole new meaning (high occupancy vehicle)
  • Friends may never invite us to dinner again! (that's a bad thing)
  • John & Kate plus eight would seem like a situation comedy!
  • I would lose weight easily, no food in the house, ever!
  • Heidi's full time job would be coupon clipping and "gov'ment cheese" getter!
  • We would be on a first name basis with the Goodwill and Dollar store folks!
  • We too, would take up a couple of pews and a side of the school bus!
  • Suddenly, a blue ray disk at $30 is a bargain compared to a night at the movies!
  • Buffet restaurants shiver at the sight of the gray Rogé transport box (pictured above)
  • A 12 passenger van that gets 16 MPG is a gas saver compared to 4 cars @ 30 MPG!
  • We would save the lives of many children and give opportunity to many more generations!
  • These children would enrich our lives and we would be following Christ's charge to all!

OK, hit me with more. I've got a lot of comical friends out there. I know you have at least one or two.

~ Felix ~

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Adoption...not just for the Infertile

At the Denver Museum of Natural Science

All is well at the Rogé house. These photos are from two weekends ago. We went to the Museum and took in an IMAX film as well. The kids are doing fine and aside from a couple of bugs discovered in the "toilet homework" and a eye exam for Nadia, there hasn't been much drama. Nadia's vision isn't correctable to 20/20 just yet, she is correctable to 20/40 and 20/50, but the doc feels that she may improve since we have started work on the problem. When we saw the kids' files in Ukraine at the SDA, it said that she had a mild astigmatism. The doc said that they should have taken steps then to help her and she wouldn't have this eye problem she has now. The bugs in the other two and Nadia's eyes are good examples of the need that all orphans face on a daily basis, we take good health for granted here in the US. That's why it is important to do all you can do in the life of one or more of these precious children.

You may ask yourself, "what can I do" or "what difference can I make"? I used to wonder the same thing. I am reminded of the story about the child who came upon the beach that was littered with hundreds of starfish. He began throwing them back into the ocean one-by-one. An adult saw him and asked why he was throwing them back when faced with impossible, insurmountable numbers of starfish. "Do you really think you are making a difference?", asked the stranger. "I don't know" said the little boy, "but I made a difference to this one" as he tossed the starfish in his hands.

That's how a person should tackle the insurmountable. When we looked at files at the SDA, we couldn't take all 27 kids we were shown. In our mission trips to Kherson and SB, we couldn't provide for or take all 400-500 kids we met. But we did make a difference to these three. We are making a difference to Rimma and Zina. It's a start. My friend Kari said once that she didn't know why everyone doesn't adopt. I second that! I read an article once that stated if every Christian family adopted just one child, there wouldn't be orphans or orphanages.
Please don't think me a self-righteous or holier-than-thou sort of person. I admit that I have a passion for orphans and most people cannot do adoption for various reasons. I was one of those people. I never thought that I would raise "someone elses" kids, let alone older kids. If we did adoption, it would have to be babies, right! Everyone wants a baby! That was my way of thinking until I met three wonderful kids named Rhya, Luke and Natalie...the Stoesz kids. From there we got involved with Ukraine Orphan Outreach and met Rimma and Zina along with the other 15 terrific kids. The rest is history as outlined in this blog, take a look sometimes.
What I'm getting at is this. If adoption is on your heart and you are struggling with the decision, come be a part of this year's UOO summer camp 2009. We will have eight children attending and no, they aren't babies. We at UOO advocate for the adoption and involvement of older orphans who are just as in need if not more. These are the little ones that have been forgotten. They need someone to care, to love them, to help them. Time is running out for them as they will be leaving the orphanages at the age of 16. The statistics are scary, you've seen them. You don't have to adopt, become a pen-pal and correspond. Let them know that not all adults will let them down as has been so in their short past.

Take a trial run with a youngster by volunteering with Big Brothers, Big Sisters organization. I have been doing this for two years now and it has been a blessing. My "little" has grown into a fine young man of 12 now and I get back as much as i give. He has taught me how to be a father figure to older children and he has a male adult role model in which to seek answers and communicate with.

Foster care and foster-to-adopt here in the US are always in need of willing parents. Heidi and I were undergoing respite foster care training when our dossier took off in Ukraine this past summer. Respite is where you take over for foster families when they need a break, take a vacation or need to attend a serious family situation. We will come back to this once we get Rimma and Zina home.

So there are lots of ways to get involved with the less-fortunate little ones in our world. You can host a day at our camp or just come be a part of the festivities, no strings attached. You can mentor a child or become a foster parent. You can help one of the many missionary teams in Ukraine such as our friend Karen and our friend Becky. Both minister to the orphans of Ukraine. Becky is trying to raise funds for her Orphan home she wants to start, contact her and see what she needs. $300 x 1000 people would buy the home and get it started.

By the way, the two girls I tried to get a family for are still waiting in Boyarka. The two earlier families that were interested are not able to continue at this time. If they were on your heart or if you want to talk about them, let me know. You can see a picture of them on Becky's blog right now. They are pictured on her latest entry. I took them off my blog due to the fact we were adopting at the time and I was advised that it could hinder our adoption of Nadia, Julia & Kole. I have pictures and could send them to trusted families should you ask.

One of my favorite quote sources is Teddy Roosevelt, I love that guy! Here's one for you, it fits in the theme of helping orphans and those less fortunate.

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing. TR

He also said:

Believe you can and you're halfway there. TR

It seems that Rimma and Zina will come home for three weeks this summer instead of the 10 week-long program that we had requested. Through many rounds with the director, he has chosen to be stalwart in his decision and his three other demands. Thanks to Frontier Horizon for making this possible. We will have to love them up enough in those three weeks to last until Spring/Summer 2010. That is when we are forecasting Zina's availability for our adoption. Rimma's clock is already counting down and we are working hard with the lawyer to secure Zina's court date and registration. There's another opportunity to experience the joy of older Ukrainian children. Come see us when they come home in the month of August!

About Us

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