Sunday, June 28, 2009

UOO 2009 Camp - Day 5

Bad news! The 4 day camping trip that the kids were supposed to go on has been cancelled due to horrible conditions at the campsite. Why not just move it, you say? Well, each year we partner with Wilderness Adventures to give us the camp experience. We help them with their annual dinner event and they in turn help us with the camping. So, all of their equipment, tents, trailers, cooking grills are stuck in the mud up in the Lake Granby area. Therefore, we can't move it to another location or reschedule it. That's OK, though. The UOO team has a backup plan and we sprung into action.

Dima serves it up!

Yesterday after church service in Loveland, we went to the local park and had lunch. The kids got to play in the river and with the water toys at the park. It was a great success! We then went to the Stoesz house for games and dinner. The kids rode their first American bicycles, got into a water fight with squirt guns and perused the Stoesz farm. Just a quick note on the squirt guns, why didn't they have those cool, technically advanced toys when I was a kid! Darn it!

"Big" Dima showing his bike skills

Dinner was a a choice of lasagna or spaghetti, or both! Bread, salad and veggies were our sides. Since we still had birthday cake in abundance from Saturday, that was desert.

Marina is usually all smiles

Tomorrow the kids will go to Rocky Mountain National Park. I have to return to work for a couple of days to pay the bills. Clarke and Kari will take on the task for the first part of the week. I'll be sure to ask them how things went and report back to you.

Nastya is quite good on skates

~ Felix ~

Saturday, June 27, 2009

UOO 2009 Camp - Day 4

On Saturday we held our annual camp birthday party. If you're not familiar with this event, let me explain. The orphanages in Ukraine only celebrate mass birthdays twice a year and some orphans aren't aware of their birth day. Heidi and I witnessed one such celebration at SB last November. There are no cakes or presents and usually the treat is a bowl of fruit. We at UOO decided a couple of years ago to have our own mass birthday party complete with games, hot dogs, cake, ice cream, presents, punch and even a pinata or two. This pivotal event is remembered by the kids for the rest of their lives. I have had the orphans tell me so on our trips to Ukraine.

Our next event of the day was an evening at the Colorado Speedway in Erie, CO. There were several categories of races and the kids were asked to present the trophy to the winner of this 30 lap race. Tickets, dinner & drinks were donated by the generous owners of the Speedway and they even reserved a section at the finish line for the kids! Thanks CO Speedway!

Sasha seems a bit concerned that his driver is in the back of the pack. What a cute, angelic face, and a sweet kid!
~ Felix ~

Friday, June 26, 2009

UOO 2009 Camp - Day 3

Day three started when the kids ventured out to Bounce, an indoor bouncing/fun center in Loveland. They had a blast on the several huge blow-up toys. Lunch was served and the group departed for bowling at Sweetheart Lanes in Loveland. Everyone scored a strike and there were smiles abound! Here, Natalie Stoesz & Josh Volf share a lane with Sasha & Vova.
Again, breakfast, lunch and dinner were supplied, cooked and prepared by our wonderful volunteers. Thanks Guys!
~ Felix ~

Thursday, June 25, 2009

UOO 2009 Camp - Day 2

Today the kids started out with a trip to Miller farms to pick huge, yummy vegetables. As always, this is a huge event because Ukrainian kids love vegetables. The Miller farm grows 'em big, too! Pictured above, Ryha Stoesz leads the way for us! Picture below, there's always time for a pedal-tractor race at Miller Farms!

Most of these veggies end up in our annual community dinner, which is scheduled this year for July 12th from 5-9 pm. Do come out for it if you can. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Kids are free! So come feed the family, meet the kids, and enjoy some good times!

More down time was in order as the kids returned to the Lake house for more boat rides and swimming. We ended the day with a meal provided by one of our many volunteers. Thank you all, this camp couldn't happen without your support!

~ Felix ~

UOO 2009 Camp - Day 1

After a night of rest, it was exciting to meet our new guests. We had long ago planned down time the first day to let them acclimate to after a grueling 14+ hours of flying, a huge time change, and lack of sleep. Here they are at the Carman's lake home in Loveland, looking chipper as ever. They are (listed from left to right, front row then back row): Vova, Sasha, "Little" Dima, "Little" Yulia, Olya & "Big" Dima, Tatianna (chaperon), Nastya, "Big" Yulia (chaperon) and Marina. With them are Eric Carman, Clarke & Amanda Stoesz of UOO.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

UOO 2009 Camp - Arrival

Well, all eight kids and the two chaperons/translators arrived safe and sound tonight. You could definitely see the look of exhaustion in their faces. All but a few were done and ready for bed. It took a while to get out of the airport and to the van. An hour-long drive to the Carman's home was in store for them next. Only one of the Chaperons stayed away as I drove them to their "American home" for the next week. They will transition to the Stoesz home about mid-camp and will stay there until their return to Ukraine. Heidi and I decided not to host in our home this year due to our recent adoption, a wise move as our kids are new to their family and need more time with us.
Our camp attendees are:

Chaperones - Yulia & Tatianna (both speak English)
Girls - Olya, Yulia, Marina, Nastya
Boys - Dima, Vova, Sasha, Dima

Come on out, the fun has started!

~ Felix ~

Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day, Red Rocks & Zoo

Hello there, friends & family. That's right! I made it back from my summer duty with the USAF and boy oh boy am I glad to be home. I like my other part-time gig, but being away from my family is no picnic for me or Heidi, aka "Single-mom" as she told me. Not a moniker that she cared for at all.

The kidos were equally happy to have dear ole dad home too. Nadia hugged and held onto me like I had been gone a year. Julia wouldn't leave my lap and Kolya had to tell me all about his birthday that I missed. I hope I never miss another one.

On Saturday we ventured out to Red Rocks amphitheater where these pictures were taken. The kids and mom had fun running up and down the stairs while I rested at the top. I was still tired from three weeks on the road.

After Red Rocks, we took the kids to the Denver zoo. Sorry, no pictures of that unless you want to see the three hundred pictures of the baboon's red butt or the rhinoceros' slobbery face!

We celebrated Father's day on Sunday as is the custom. The kids treated me like royalty and served me a ribeye steak with all the trimmings. Mom did all the grilling. I felt like I needed to be doing something, but everyone insisted that I take it easy. All the kids gave me gifts and letters. Nadia's letter was especially touching and made me tear up. WOW! Julia gave me a picture and Kolya gave me a book entitled, Why a Son Needs a Dad. NICE!!

The UOO 2009 camp kicks off tonight with the arrival of the 8 kids at the airport. We are getting dressed and starting to move towards the van. If you want to be involved and you live in the local area, there are still things to volunteer for and events that need your help. Visit our website at
~ Felix ~

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Happy Birthday Kolya!

Today Kolya turned 10 years old. Hopefully he had one of his best birthdays ever. It wasn't over the top, but not exactly an average day, either. I cooked breakfast for the kids this morning (a treat), then dropped all three off at the YMCA camp for the day. After work and camp, we went to Red Robin for dinner. Kolya was a good sport with the Happy Birthday routine! Kolya is an absolute treasure!

Felix is away on his summer National Guard duty, so I'm going to be a single mom for almost two weeks. The plan is to keep things strict and simple so that I don't lose my mind. Work is super-busy, our Ukraine Orphan Outreach summer camp kicks off in two weeks, the kids are needy. Hmmm...I might lose my mind!

I'm happy to report that Julia is really improving from her occupational therapy sessions. She goes once a week for one hour. The biggest improvement is in her speech. She is pronouncing things more clearly, and her vocabulary has noticably improved over the last few weeks. For the life of me I cannot figure out how sensory/tactile delays can affect speech - but it does. I have really enjoyed hearing what she has to say, especially now that she can express herself better in English. She has a great sense of humor. But we still have a way to go......

Nadia is attending a YMCA Leadership in Training camp this week. Today she said she had "fun" at camp - a huge step in the right direction. She was naturally apprehensive about the camp at first! Recently she told me that she misses her friends in Ukraine. I was so relieved that she will confide in me (is it confiding if I post it on the Internet?). Nadia is very strong and exceptionally resilient, but she needs to let down those barriers once in a while.

And then there is Buddy. Crazy Buddy. So much for the fence. He's busted.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dodging a Bullet

For the past two weeks or so, there was talk on the adoption forum boards about the impending Rada vote in Ukraine. This vote by the governing body of Ukraine was set for June 2nd and would have forever changed adoptions and orphan ministry in that country. If passed, there could have been a moratorium placed on international adoptions.

In other words, this would have meant no more adoptions. The bill would also have limited contact with orphans in orphanages to ONLY governmental officials. International ministry and their teams would have been in jeopardy. Also, everyone was not sure if the SDA would immediately stop all adoptions and send the families that are already there, home. Or would they slowly, over time, cease all international adoption. History has shown us that the SDA quickly and immediately enacted past Rada legislation.

Indications are now that the bill was removed from the agenda or that it was postponed for another time. In either case, international adoption marches forward.

We chose not to write about it prior to the vote, perhaps it was denial. For me though, God provided me a peace and calm that I asked for as I prayed long and hard for this bill's defeat or removal. I can see His hand in this as I asked Him to show me His glory!

Rimma and Zina's dream of being reunited with our family is safe for now. Our friends over there in harm's way right now can proceed with bringing their children home. All of the children who have asked me countless times for a family, who asked not be forgotten, who still have the hope of love taking them in...may still find their dreams realized.

Please don't delay or hesitate if Ukraine adoption is on your mind. Take that walk in the fields of the fatherless. They are waiting.

~ 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.