Wednesday, November 24, 2010

There's No Place Like Home...

Vitals:  Everyone is glad, so glad, to be home.  Ruslan is adjusting fine and Bill is sucking in all of America that he can since he has to go back to purgatory in a few weeks. 

Details:  By the time we got home on Thursday night, all the kids were asleep in the rental van.  I had high hopes that we could leave the lights off and just sneak them into their beds.  Bill thought I was nuts, but it actually worked pretty well.  It was 11pm in the states, but 6am in Keiv, so they had really been "up all night."  

We put Ruslan on a mattress in the boys bedroom so he didn't have to sleep in his room alone.  While I was making up his bed, he met the dog.  Poor baby, he really freaked out.  This was about the worst tantrum I've seen him throw, no doubt exacerbated by lack of sleep and flat our fear.  He threw a massive fit anytime the dog got within ten feet of him.  This was a problem, since the dog is very friendly and attached to all of us.  We finally shut her in the girls room.

After that, we showed Ruslan his bed and, once he saw the dog had disappeared, he went right to sleep.  The other kids lingered a little, just making sure this was the right house and getting re-acquainted with their stuff.  They were so wiped out though, that after a few minutes they all gave up and went to bed.  

They slept through the night and once the sun rose, we realized that our house-sitter had actually cleaned, and I do mean cleaned, our house.  This was a little strange for everyone.  For example, I think we all had forgotten that our cabinets and trim are actually white, and it was really strange to walk up the stairs without dodging old socks and legos. 

The boyscouts had made a huge "Velcome Home" sign and hung it in the kitchen.  We saw it last night, but the lights were off.  It looked great in the morning sunshine.  The boyscouts, neighbors, and our house sitter had also stocked our fridge, which was AWESOME!  We all had a glass of good milk, that we drank without plugging our noses, bagels with cream cheese, cereal, pop tarts and Bill came down later and made bacon and pancakes.  

Ruslan woke later than everyone else, so all the kids were awake to hear him cry because I wouldn't dress him.   He waffles between wanting to do things on his own and wanting everyone else to do stuff for him.  I think it has to do with how much of a hurry he is in.  It's really hard to stand by and watch him get dressed because it takes so long.  But, there was no reason to hurry that morning because he was so afraid of the dog.  

The "dining room" in our house is actually a play room.  Ruslan closed it off with cushions and spent a good bit of time in there playing.  Whenever the dog came near, he would stiffen and sort of scream, so the kids would come running and pet and hug the dog etc.  After a half-day of this, Ruslan finally came out and, in an annoying change of disposition, spent the REST of the day following the dog around, trying to get her to stay, come here, sit and lay.  He started off keeping a five to ten foot buffer, but by the end of the day, the dog problem was solved. 

So, as far as the family goes, we basically spent the weekend eating, playing and sleeping off the jet lag.  

As for me, personally, I promise I did NOT have an unrealistic, nirvana-like expectation that all would be chocolate and cream when I got back to the states.  I'm generally a pessimist.  However, even by my standards, it's been a little rough.

There are a handful of women in my life who are rock-solid friends.  They love me unconditionally.  They want the best for me and my family.  They would give me the shirt off their back without hesitation (in fact, one even tried to give me the push-up bra off her back once, but that's a different story).  They believe the best about me, despite all evidence to the contrary.  They would trust me with their life and I would trust them with mine.  In short, they are ROCKS.  Whatever happens in my life, I have a solid place to land as long as they are within 500 miles.

One of them, Maryann, is married to a Navy Chaplain.  They have been living in Williamsburg for the last several years and it has been SO NICE to have her near!  We didn't see each other very often, but like all my key friends, we can pick up where we left off regardless of whether we have been keeping in touch.  We've been friends for about 20 years.  I came to the birth of her first two children.  I watched her kids when she moved to VA a few years ago.  Her husband baptized our kids in the Atlantic Ocean.  Last spring, she babysat for a week so Bill and I could go away together. 

We were missionaries together with Campus Crusade for Christ and we are both insanely tight with money.  Several years ago, Bill and I paid off some bills and hit a goal of becoming debt free.  To celebrate, I went to Wal-Mart and bought all new underwear.  Maryann is probably the only person in my life who completely understands this.  She told me a few days ago that she and her husband got some sort of hefty bonus, so to celebrate, she bought herself a package of Mentos.  You just don’t find that sort of kindred spirit every day.  Anyway, just before we left for Ukraine, her husband was assigned to Japan for the next three years.  So, I knew she was leaving, but I thought we would be home soon enough to see them one last time.

We weren't.  She called on Saturday to say goodbye.  I could have driven over, but she was in the middle of packing and saying goodbye to her neighbors and etc. and we were just getting settled in with Ruslan.  It just seemed better to stay home.  ...Japan is more than 500 miles away.

Anyway, another of my Fabulous Friends is Cindy.  She lives across the street from me.  She's the kind of person with no boundaries and since I don't really have any either, we get along well.   She is the one that I brag about on facebook because she cleans my house and brings over dinner for our family.  She doesn't look at me like I'm a lunatic when the floor in the playroom is not visible.  She cleans with the full knowledge that all will be filthy again within a few minutes after she leaves.  She babysits at the drop of a hat and if she can't do it, she sends her husband.  She walks in the door with a huge bottle of wine and two wine glasses and starts pouring.  She’s pushy, gregarious, generous, crude, selfless, an uncontrollable pack rat, a compulsive cleaner and terrible at spelling.  I love her dearly.  

We both walk into each other’s houses without knocking, and on most days, one of us travels the "walk of sanity" because we need a break.  I am always welcome to retreat into her chaos and she into mine.  She's the kind of person that enjoys my personality quirks rather than tolerating them and she is a friend for life. 

We both have electric fences for our dogs.  A few years ago, her electric unit was ruined by lightning, so she walked across the street and grabbed ours off the porch.  We weren't using it, since the battery was dead in our dog's collar.  I was glad to see it and she knew I would be glad.  She had given us so much in time, labor and stuff over the years that I was complimented that she understood: what's mine is hers and what's hers is mine. 

Most of my other neighbors are very, very nice, but they are just too busy and too cultured to love us like Cindy.  For example, one neighbor told me early on that I spoil my children.  Our kids rarely play together.  This put a damper on the relationship and a sledgehammer to any idea of shared babysitting.

Another is of the opposite opinion and doesn't trust me with her youngest child.  Her older daughter told me she was worried about the girl eating our cat food.  However, I keep it on a counter.  This is more to prevent my dog from eating it than any children (stuff's expensive),  so I suspect there's something else involved.  Needless to say, this puts a damper on that relationship and another sledgehammer to any idea of traded babysitting.  

A third neighbor called once wondering why my children were playing in their yard without asking permission first.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course.  It is, after all, their yard. 

A fourth neighbor recently expanded his conversational vocabulary with me to include, "Is this the boy?"  Considering that for the past several years, he's limited himself to, "hello" and "goodbye," this is a 200% increase (and that's if we count a glance-less wave as the word "goodbye").  I suppose the potential is there, but it doesn't feel the same. 

As you might guess, Cindy is also moving.   She skyped me in Ukraine and said that her husband had quit his job, they had secured a renter for their house and were moving to South Carolina.  The new family moves in on December first.  

So, as I was pondering God's rock removal from my life, I remembered this verse: "When the foundations are destroyed, what shall the righteous do?" (Psalm 11:3)  Well, the smart ones take refuge in The Lord.  I stupidly answered the phone.

It was my son, Frank.  We had adopted him from Costa Rica eight years ago, when he was 12.  He came from a violent and abusive background, but he seemed to have dealt with it well and for the most part, he was a great addition to our family....until about two years ago, when something cracked and he started falling apart.  He ran away last August, when he was 19 and we really hadn't heard from him in over a year.  He called Friday night to say that he was homeless.  He and his girlfriend have been living in a truck in Delaware.  It seems the girl friend just gave birth to a baby girl (Kala Marie, 5 pounds, 14 ounces, 19 inches) and they were thinking that the truck might not be a good idea any more.

He insisted that he had called all the shelters in Delaware looking for a place to stay.  In his mind, nobody cares.  If people really cared, they would let Frank, Angel and the baby free-load indefinitely.  But, nobody cares.
People tend to get their dander up about newborn babies living in pick-up-trucks.  So, I was VERY skeptical that Frank had lifted a finger and spent much of the weekend on the phone with the shelters in Delaware.  They were extremely helpful and when I called Frank back with some numbers, he told me that they had found a place to live.  A woman had taken them in temporarily.  We'll see how long it lasts.  My consolation is that I have done the ground work for the next time. 

Now it is Monday morning.  Maryann and her family flew out today at 7am.  Cindy is packing up my sanctuary and she'll be out by the end of the week.  The boys are outside "raking leaves" with Ruslan and I was looking over homeschool stuff and trying to plan for the holiday.  

One of the shelters in DE just called.  It's normal to call social services about homeless babies and they asked, somewhat offhand, whether if they take the baby, I want temporary custody. 


  1. Wow Marnie. I am going to stop right now and pray for you. I love how you bear your heart. I hope that someday we can meet in person. Until then I'll be praying.

  2. Oh my, oh my, oh my. Now they say God doesn't give you more than you can handle....but.... turn to Him and we will too! My oh my OH MY...

  3. I'm going to say, "Wow" also. Lots going on with you guys. Seems that way for everyone right now. Maybe God is making room for some new rocks in your life. Maybe you're right, though, and he wants you to lean on him for a season. I always say, "If trials are to help us grow, why do we always ask God not to give us any?" It's hard to say, "Yes, please. I'll take more trials." God is faithful, though. I believe that with all my heart. Thinking of you, and praying for you.