Friday, April 27, 2012

Packing Day...

Sometimes I feel like we have been packing for nearly two years. We started this visa process in Aug. 2010 and I took our first load of storage to Texas from central Mexico at that time. We have made 5 other trips with our stuff over the past 20 months and have moved houses on 4 occasions, with Olya and the kids even having a 3 months visit in Russia during this time.

So with the suitcases, what we have been living out of for the past 3 months here in Juarez coming out of the closet, clothes coming off hangers, bedding gathered from the beds we are doing lots of washing today and packing everything up.

In a few hours we will be heading across the border to begin our trip home. Though it has taken many prayers, lots of funds and amazing support from family and friends throughout the process we are still in a state of shock that we are finally going. When you fight for something so long and hard and face continual setbacks it takes a little while for it to sink in that we finally accomplished it. But oh, how much sweeter it is.

So amid the dust, the mismatched socks, the diminishing piles of laundry and the growing stack of our suitcases... spirits are high.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Miracle...

The Consulate updates their website with each weeks cases on Tuesday. Last week Olya and I had decided that if there was no update on her case this week, I would take the Thursday train home alone to San Antonio and her and the kids would follow once the visa did come through. Even with having friends and family all over the world praying for us and for the visa approval we were very discouraged on Tuesday when there was no update.

After some tears and general disappointment we decided to take action. Deciding our plan of attack we would each play a role, I wrote the attorneys back home asking if there was anything else we could do at this time to help speed the process up. I also wrote our Congressman who represents the district we live at back home. I am fortunate to have a representative that sits on the Committee for the Dept. of Homeland Security, if anyone could help get the ball rolling faster I figured it would be him. (As of this writing I have not heard back from either of them Ha!)

Olya was then going to go to the Consulate one last time on Wednesday just for a final check before I left Thursday. We really had no hope that they would have updated since the one on Tuesday the day before, she arrived home though with the good news that they had just approved her visa that morning and would be issuing the visa that day. And if all goes well we should have it sent DHL by Friday afternoon or Saturday morning. We were elated... the wait is coming to an end.

So I decided to stay and since the train from El Paso to San Antonio only goes three days a week (Mon. Thurs. and Sat.) we started praying that the visa would be there by Friday to catch the Sat train. Thursday morning we were shocked when checking the website to see that her DHL package had already been delivered to the local office for her to go pick up. Raymond offered to come drive her to get the package and take it to the border to validate it. They left at 2:30 pm and arrived home at about 11:00 pm after spending seven hours at the border. She had her visa validated and all ready to go, she actually did cross and then they came right back... Ha! (I think she is going to miss Mexico)

So tonight we are happy and tomorrow we pack and move across to the US side and begin another chapter of our lives. 

Guy's Rulez for Girl'z

(Borrowed from Miguel Dieter, as borrowed from "a Guy")

The Guys' Rules

At last a guy has taken the time to write this all down. Finally, the guys' side of the story. We always hear "the rules" from the female side. Now here are the rules from the male side. These are our rules! Please note... these are all numbered "1" ON PURPOSE!

1. Learn to work the toilet seat. You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down. We need it up, you need it down. You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down.
1. Sunday sports. It's like the full moon or the changing of the tides. Let it be.
1. Shopping is NOT a sport. And no, we are never going to think of it that way.
1. Crying is blackmail.
1. Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one: Subtle hints do not work! Strong hints do not work! Obvious hints do not work! Just say it!
1. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.
1. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That's what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.
1. A headache that lasts for 17 months is a problem. See a doctor.
1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all comments become null and void after 7 days.
1. If you won't dress like the Victoria's Secret girls, don't expect us to act like soap opera guys.
1. If you think you're fat, you probably are. Don't ask us.
1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.
1. You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done. Not both. If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.
1. Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during commercials.
1. Christopher Columbus did not need directions and neither do we.
1. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like windows default settings. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.
1. If it itches, it will be scratched. We do that.
1. If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing," we will act like nothing's wrong. We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.
1. If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, expect an answer you don't want to hear.
1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine... Really.
1. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as baseball, the shotgun formation, or monster trucks.
1. You have enough clothes.
1. You have too many shoes.
1. I am in shape. Round is a shape. Thank you for reading this.

Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight; but did you know men really don't mind that? It's like camping. Pass this to as many men as you can - to give them a laugh. Pass this to as many women as you can - to give them a bigger laugh!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Hump Day... defined in the Urban Dictionary as:

Hump Day -
Wednesday, or the hump of the week The absolute BEST day of the week, the day of maximum hope that maybe, you might make it out of this week alive. A particularly good hump day can last you the rest of the week, and by Doomday morning (Monday) you survive by anticipating hump day. Nothing goes wrong on hump day.

Most other days can be defined by hump day. Tuesday is the day before hump day. Thursday is one day after hump day. Except Friday is WOOOH!!! FREEDOM!!! Day, Saturday is Mostly Hungover day, and Sunday is PreDoom day.

Hump day has nothing to do with sex. Unless one wants it to. I like to declare the existence of hump day just to see people's faces. Usually being conservative and all "Do you know what the best thing about Tuesdays are? Its the day before Hump Day!" "What's hump day?" "It's the hump of the week!!" (they all shake their heads in pity.)

Mining the Asteroids...

This is something I would love to do!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bible Code

So one more Tuesday has come and gone with no update on Olya's visa approval. BUMMER!!!

On another note I was watching a documentary on the Bible Code phenomena and so started doing some research online and ran across a site where you can conduct your own searches. Check it out by clicking here. 

As a joke I ran started running names, and when Olya's first and last name came up in the same grid I decided to see how far it would go. I then added the word "Russia" since that's where she is from, and found it also. I then added Alex and sure enough he was there, Julian wasn't found in that text but his nick name was, Juju. Besides if you ask him what his name is he will argue till he is blue in the face until you call him Juju so I guess it counts. 

So I have all three of my Russian family members in the same text. Cool! I decided to throw in the word Texas, you know just to confirm that they would all be living there with me... and was I surprised when I found it.  

My name Gabriel was not found in that text with them but Gabe was... So I am convinced my family will soon be home altogether in Texas. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

In honor of my Aussie Friends...

I found this on one of my friends Facebook pages and wanted to share it here in honor of all my Aussie friends. Some of the better friends I have are from the land "down under" and among their many traits good humor always was high on the list. So to all my Aussie friends, cheers Mate...

These were posted on an Australian Tourism Website and the answers are the actual responses by the website officials ... lol

Q: Does it ever get windy in Australia ? I have never seen it rain on TV, how do the plants grow? (UK).
A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around watching them die.

Q: Will I be able to see kangaroos in the street? (USA)
A:Depends how much you've been drinking.

Q:I want to walk from Perth to Sydney - can I follow the railroad tracks? (Sweden)
A: Sure, it's only three thousand miles, take lots of water.

Q: Are there any ATMs (cash machines) in Australia? Can you send me a list of them in Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville and Hervey Bay ? (UK)
A: What did your last slave die of?

Q:Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Australia ? (USA)
A: A-Fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe. Aus-tra-lia is that big island in the middle of the Pacific which does not ... Oh forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Kings Cross. Come naked.

Q:Which direction is North in Australia ? (USA)
A: Face south and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get here and we'll send the rest of the directions.

Q: Can I bring cutlery into Australia ? (UK)
A:Why? Just use your fingers like we do...

Q:Can you send me the Vienna Boys' Choir schedule? (USA)
A: Aus-tri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y, which is Oh forget it. Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in Kings Cross, straight after the hippo races. Come naked.

Q: Can I wear high heels in Australia ? (UK)
A: You are a British politician, right?

Q:Are there supermarkets in Sydney and is milk available all year round? (Germany)
A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of vegan hunter/gatherers. Milk is illegal.

Q:Please send a list of all doctors in Australia who can dispense rattlesnake serum. (USA)
A: Rattlesnakes live in A-meri-ca which is where YOU come from. All Australian snakes are perfectly harmless, can be safely handled and make good pets.

Q:I have a question about a famous animal in Australia, but I forget its name. It's a kind of bear and lives in trees. (USA)
A: It's called a Drop Bear. They are so called because they drop out of Gum trees and eat the brains of anyone walking underneath them. You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.

Q:I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Can you tell me where I can sell it in Australia ? (USA)
A: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.

Q:Do you celebrate Christmas in Australia ? (France)
A: Only at Christmas.

Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? (US )
A: Yes, but you'll have to learn it first.


"Oh no... Dad is watching soap-operas in Spanish!!!"

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I am Xenophilic...

I know, I know I am idiosyncratic in my search for unusual words. It all started when I was about 9 and my dad taught me how to use a dictionary. I found atypical words fascinating even though there was not always a chance in everyday usage for the words that peaked my interest. I still look up definitions and here is a list of some of the words I have come across in the past week.

n. an attraction to foreign peoples, cultures, or customs.
n. an unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange.
n. refers to the noise produced by smacking the lips together.
n. A person who uses long words.
n. A long word.
adj. long; polysyllabic.
adj. Pertaining to or given to the use of overly long words.
n. One who is curious to know everything that passes, and is continually asking “What now?” or “What news?” hence, one who knows or pretends to know all that is going on in politics, society, etc.; a newsmonger.
n. The hybrid offspring of a male zebra and a female donkey.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Alex is a great kid! I love his humor and how he keeps us laughing, I would post more stories of things he says or does but he won't let me... This is the dilemma I face, when writing my blog how much should I respect others wishes and how much should I just post on my own??? WDYT?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Letter from Olya...

Dear friends,
I hope this note finds you well and happy!
I would like to ask you to pray with us for my visa. Maybe some of you already saw Gabe's post with an update about it. In short, we've been waiting for almost three months here in the border town. When Gabe and I had our last interview, the lady said that if everything checks out we will get our package in 1-2 weeks. It will be three weeks in couple days since then. So we went to the embassy to check on our case and we were told that it doesn't seem there's any problem and we probably will hear from them soon, they are just waiting on some info confirmation, I think from Russia. They told us that they usually update their site with approved/denied visas once a week and once our visa update is there it will be just 2-3 days before we get it in DHL. But if there's no update of my visa, that means we need to wait another week... Now, the most difficult part for us is that we are just waiting all this time here and it's becoming very stretchy for us financially. Gabe is staying with us now for the last three weeks, as supposedly we could get the visa any day, so he could travel with us across the border. Also on the embassy site it says that the medical exams (that I had to take before the interview) are valid for 3-6 months depending on the results. I do hope that my results were ok for them and it's valid for more than 3 months, but in a week it will be 3 months since I took them and I hope they won't require me to do so again, as it is expensive. So my specific prayer requests are:

-That the embassy does get the info they are waiting for in the beginning of this coming week
-That they issue my visa this coming week
-That they update their site early in the week with our updated case
-And that we do get the DHL package with my visa this coming week
-For our financial supply during this time

 Thank you for taking the time to read my letter and thank you for your prayers! We really appreciate it! Much love, Olya, Gabe and the kids

Cow in the news...

By Alice Baghdjian
BERLIN | Fri Apr 13, 2012 10:47am EDT
(Reuters) - Yvonne the German cow evaded helicopter searches, dodged the hunter's gun and even eschewed her calf and best friend for a life on the run.

Now the tale of the runaway cow, who captivated the nation last year when she bolted from her farm to escape slaughter and roamed free in the Bavarian countryside for three months, will provide fodder for a Hollywood animated film.

  "Cow on the Run," based on the daring dairy cow's escapades in the wild, will be produced by Munich-based film company Papa Loewe and American film producer Max Howard, whose previous credits include Walt Disney's "The Lion King."

Michael Aufhauser, founder of the Gut Aiderbichl animal sanctuary in southern Germany, which now looks after Yvonne, said the film was going to be "very romantic."

"Yvonne even falls in love with a buck," he said of the film which is set to hit the silver screen in 2014.

The farmyard fugitive broke through an electric fence on a farm near the Bavarian town of Muehldorf in May last year.

Yvonne lived happily off the land for three months until she landed on a "most wanted" list after bolting in front of a police car. Authorities deemed the runaway a security risk and gave hunters the go ahead to gun her down.

But Yvonne foiled numerous attempts to capture her, and thwarted plans by animal activists to lure her back to the farmyard using her own calf, her friend and a breeding bull named Ernst.

 The canny cow was eventually captured in September after receiving a double dose of tranquilizers and was taken to the animal sanctuary after more than 90 days in the wild.

"People thought she was a dumb cow and would not know what to do in the wild," Aufhauser said.

"But she was so clever, nobody could catch her and that amazed people."

  (Reporting by Alice Baghdjian, editing by Paul Casciato) Click here for original article.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Visa Update...

Olya and I just got back from standing in line for nearly two hours at the Consulate to try and get an update on the status of her case. Two weeks ago we were told that if everything checks out that within two weeks we would have her visa so since that didn't happen we went down there in person. Last time I stood in that line we got someone who was rude and had no idea how to answer our questions and gave us so much bad information I was really praying we would not get her again. By the time we got to the window it was a different person, we were so thankful. After explaining the info we were looking for she looked up our case and she told us everything seems to be in order they are just waiting on verification on some of her Russian data. She assured us it shouldn't be too much longer and that soon we should get the visa.

I am puzzled by this as the whole 20 month process has been to check and verify and recheck her data... most of the time from Russia as the US data we submitted was easy to verify. I guess it's good they are trying to keep the "borders secure" and now I am seeing why so many people try to get to the US without going through the proper channels... they make it so tough.

I am just glad it should almost be over. Please keep praying it comes through soon that all the info is verified so that it can be done.

So Close... Yet So Far...

Twenty months ago we started the application process for Olya's visa to the US. Right from the start we knew we would face obstacles as well as delays, mostly due to her being Russian and having gotten married in Mexico and applying through the Consulate here. We took this in stride and buckled down for the wait. We had no idea the ride we were in for.

We have had challenges along the way like waiting months for her police report from Russia, to her and the kids living in 4 different locations in the past 12 months. We have also been blessed by the help of many along the way, from finding a good and economical immigration's attorney to the people who have put Olya and the kids up in their home letting them live there and helping to take care of them while I was in the States.

 So we were very excited when the day came for me to join them in southern Mexico and all travel to Cd. Juarez, the Mexican border town across from El Paso Texas. All interviews for immigrant visas with applications originating in Mexico have to interview in Juarez.

Arriving in Juarez in late January.

Although we were thrilled and excited this trip was one of the hardest I have ever made. See I had thrown my back out in late December and had been completely immobile for the entire month of January. The pain I endured that day of travel was probably the worst I had ever had in my life, I was on very potent pain killers that would work only temporarily and due to my immobility learned what it was like traveling in a wheelchair.
God Bless Raymond and Esther who picked us up and let us stay in thier house for the 10 days we were hoping to be here.

Olya went to her interview and due to my being laid up in bed I did not go with her. The Consulate actually advises for the applicant to come alone so we thought it would be fine. I think the whole concept of a Russian living in Mexico marrying an American in Mexico then applying for a visa to the US was a little hard for them to comprehend. As they sent her case to Administrative Process saying it would be another 6-8 weeks before a decision would be made.

Looking at this photo right above you can see the brown fence running the length of the photo, that is the border fence between Juarez and El Paso, the sand in the front being the Mexican side and the mountains being the US side. This spot is 3 blocks from the house we are staying in. We are so so close... yet with no visa yet it still seems a world away. Please keep praying it arrives so we can go home.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Yesterday I was walking with Julian to the store to pick up some things for dinner. About two blocks from our house there is a house that has a playful German shepherd dog; this dog runs back and forth along the fence line as you walk the sidewalk in front of the house and right when you get to the last corner of the property he begins to bark... it's the same every time.

As we were walking along I said to Julian, "Don't be scared okay, the dog always barks on the corner!" "I know Dad," Julian said. And as we got to the corner right at the same time the dog began to bark Julian jumps towards the dog in the position from the photo above and started barking and roaring at the dog. He then turned to me and said, "Don't worry Dad, I scared that dog!" I couldn't stop laughing.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Happy Easter...

If Christ is risen, nothing else matters. And if Christ is not risen—nothing else matters.    
—Jaroslav Pelikan (1923-2006)

The thing that I like about this quote is that no matter what you believe, it applies to you.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Jungle Animals...

I went on a walk earlier with Julian and while we were out we picked up a small pack of animals for him to add to his collection. The pack was called "African Jungle Animals: Savage Edition!" Imagine my surprise that once we were home and opened the pack we found included in the set, a kangaroo, a moose and a polar bear.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Keep Going...

Anytime you're afraid to try something new...just remember, amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic. -David Drake

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Thursday Thought - Blogging...

"Orange phoenix" by Vitaly Alexius Samarin 

 ...has been something I enjoyed the few years I was consistent with it. I feel that I ran the gauntlet of public opinion in "the time before" Facebook here on this blog although that was not the intent of this blog. I created this blog back in 2006 at a very trying time of my life, a time of immense personal growth. The only commitment I made when undertaking this project was to myself, (yes I know you thought I was writing this for your benefit, Ha!) and that was that whatever was posted here would be positive. What better way to combat the negative than with something positive right?

 Well those of you who were regulars here may have noticed the diminishing posts and probably figured that life just happened and that there was more pressing things to do with my time. Which it did in fact happen. That sadly was not the reason I stopped blogging. I stopped because in my eyes my life situation became quite difficult to find something positive to post about. I went through a series of failures, legal battles and health problems during the past 20 months. For not having kept up with this blog, you can call it what you will, lethargy, self-pity, downright negativity and you would probably have me pegged.

 Recently a dear friend was telling me that the miss reading here and it got me thinking... that then led me to revisit here and I spent sometime reading through my archives and came back to the understanding of why I had blogged so fervently before... and I started to miss that part of me that had died. The desire to seek that positive moment in each day no matter how hard a day has been, and when finding it to take the time to write it down, to record it and to throw it up here on the site and send it out into the world, not knowing who it might find or what it might mean to them.

 I choose the painting above to try and capture the feeling I have as I try to regain that part of me that has been missing. The part that strives always to be positive. I have always had an easy time seeing the funny things in things and sharing them with others. I remember sharing with a group of my friends back on New Year's eve of 2000 that along with being known for the funny things I was going to make it my goal to be known for being positive as well. I truly did become that person... then lost that part of me these past two years.

 So at the core of this blog my promise to make it positive will remain. Since I am trying again to find the joy in myself that I used to have, I have decided to take up this blog once again. And although I am maintaining this blog for myself... I am doing it here to share with you in hopes that I can bring you a smile. And the only promise I will make to you... is that this blog will be like it was and hopefully that might bring you a smile.

 P.S. Don't forget to leave comments...