Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Three months home...(4 months now, this was written a few weeks ago, but not posted til now)

Here is our first family photo....
Aren't we cute?! Okay, I should have done something to my hair, but look past that please.

It is hard to believe that it has been three months now since we brought Alina and Vitaly home. Some days it feels as if they've always been here. Then there are other days......

I had a few rough days last week, the kind where you just break down and wonder what God was thinking when He picked you for this ____________? Then after my sobbing and pity partying was done, the Holy Spirit had me look at things from a different perspective again. Look at all that you're family has been through in the last three months and tell me things aren't better.
For instance:
Vitaly - His vocabulary is increasing all the time. He can say about a dozen English words (including the names of all of his siblings). And he knows/uses about 10 signs. He is a smart little boy! He is also learning to count and can sing along with the ABC song. (Thanks to Ethan!) He is not as hyper as when we brought him home (most days) and is doing a better job at toilet training. You may remember that when we first came home, he was pooping about three to four times a day. And didn't care to use the toilet for it, let me tell you. Now he's down to once, maybe twice a day and will hold it until we take him to the bathroom. He still doesn't tell us when he has to go, but we've come to know the signs and he doesn't fight us. much.
He is learning a song to sing at our co op presentation night. He repeats many of the words and follows along with the hand motions. So much in just a short amount of time. He is remarkable!

Alina - She has gained three pounds since coming home! And she has started putting cookies back into her mouth, just gnawing on them for now, but that shows that she is moving in a good direction.  She used to have a fit when I would lay her down to change her diaper (the nannies didn't lay them down for this, it was done standing up), but now has no problem even on a diaper changing thingy in bathrooms. She used to really feel unsure on those things. That is a BIG deal! She is not just sitting anymore, she is exploring, getting into things, and filling the house with a unique laugh when she gets tossed around. The girl loves to be in motion. Big brother loves to fill this position and hear her beautiful laugh and see that smiling face.
Ethan just swung her up from an upside down flip. :)
Trudy - Has gone from being the baby of the family to almost having a twin. Alina (5 yrs old) is the same size as 2 yr old Trudy. Her feelings of competing with the NA's are almost gone. She is getting so big and so smart. She is excited to help Alina with pouring her drink or getting her a toy. And she congratulates Vitaly when he goes to the bathroom (in the bathroom :).

All the kids - have adjusted so well to having two new ones. They continue to amaze me and make me thankful. Sure, having two new ones added to their responsibilities too, but most of the time they don't seem to mind. Hey, they're not perfect. :) I love them all to pieces!
Holly helping Alina pick berries and put them in her cup.
Something else that helps to keeps things in perspective: thinking about where they would be if we didn't get to them. They both would have been transferred to an adult mental institution. We've seen a female one, I'm glad Alina will never step foot in one to stay. And Vitaly, we know where he would have gone. A remote mental institution for boys from 5 yrs old - adult. The lady who advocated for him to raise his grant fund adopted her son from that very institution just last year. Her and her husband were there. They know exactly what it was like. Our son would not have survived there. If you'd like to read about that place, go here http://covenantbuilders.blogspot.com/2011/10/on-rainy-days-they-stayed-inside.html
Rough days here are better than any day there. Lord, help me to keep this perspective.
That website also has another post about helping out a ministry that is now allowed to go to that institution to visit the boys and bring needed items. Please read about it and consider donating http://covenantbuilders.blogspot.com/2011/11/meet-lost-boys.html
We know the couple that leads that ministry. She was our translator in Ukraine and the couple that allowed us to go to the womens institution to help them. They are wonderful people.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Our November birthday.....

belongs to Phoebe, who recently turned 13!!

Happy Birthday to our beautiful young maiden!
I promised Phoebe that on her 13th birthday, I would take her to a salon to get a pedicure. She has been eagerly awaiting her time.....(WARNING: pictures of feet follow)

Mom got red.....
Phoebe got bright green...

Just yesterday, she was two yrs old like our little girlie. My how time flies.

Her birthday weekend was a very busy one, so the plan is to have her actual party in Dec. She wants to take her friends to a ceramics shop. Should be loads of fun!

Happy Birthday Phoebe, Dad and I  love you more and more each day.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Great visits...

We've taken our official third road trip since coming home with the new additions. We went and visited some lovely friends that we hadn't seen in awhile and got to meet their two new additions. We had a wonderful time with them, Thank you Scoda's for your warm hospitality and of course, your friendship. I got to meet a new cyber friend as well. It was nice to "meet" you Holly and see your lovely family in real life. :)

We "camped" out in our travel trailer at a lake there. Our trailer was made to sleep 10, and we have filled that capacity. Okay, sleep 10 it can. (Dr. Seuss there) But what about those times when it is not time to sleep yet and you have 10 people (four of which are 5 yrs old and under) just hanging out. They don't put that in the fancy colored brochure. Notice that there are only about four people in the nice brochure. There's a reason for that. I'm starting to rethink this camping idea. :)

While there the three oldest and I also got to go to a small Toby Mac concert. It was really cool and affordable. I really like him. I was the mom in the balcony dancing and singing all the while her kids are shrinking away. Except for Lee, she stayed and sang with me. :) Love that girl!

On the way back home we got to do something else that was really cool. We had arranged to meet up with some new friends. Julia advocated for Vitaly that helped raise his grant money to the $5,000 that we needed in order to adopt him. It was wonderful to meet with her, her husband and their youngest boy who also was recently adopted from Ukraine. How nice it was to thank them in person. And they got to meet the little man for whom they were shouting from the rooftops for. Good deal all around.
Aaron, Julia, and Vitaly. Thanks Julia!

Oh, and she loved on Alina too. :)
If Julia wouldn't have advocated for Vitaly, he might still be over there. Alone. Since we are Christians, we know that she did not act of her own accord, but that she was following the leading of the Holy Spirit, so we give our ultimate thanks to God. Thanks to her obedience though, we were ready to obey when called to bring Tolly home too. God has awesome plans! He is the Master Weaver of intricate details. WOW, just thinking about how things transpired still shocks me, for lack of a better word.
Short story: We were hoping to go and get Alina in Feb 2011 but the process took longer than I had expected and things seemed to be dragging. ( We had known some adoptions to go thru in just a few months) Until we got the call that we were to be there in late May. Looking back I can see now that Vitaly's grant fund would not have been there had we gone in Feb like I wanted. Or even in March, etc. God placed His hand on everything at the right time so that the money was THERE when we needed it. Thank you Lord!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Leanore Post.....

Who's the birthday girl?

Yep, you guessed right.

Always up for adventure,

with a perfect smile,

And a good sense of humor (teeth from Dad, humor from Mom).

Happy birthday to one of the sweetest people we know. We love you bunches Leanore!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

You are at the right place....

Mary says...

I'm just trying out a new look for the blog. The winter and barren tree scene was making me kinda sad. And since we are moving into a new season in our family, I decided to have the family blog reflect that. This one is a bit peppier and shows a lot of books. Which I don't get to read right now, but am making my kids read our kids are loving to read. (Look Amy D., I did it, I changed it on my own! I'll let the kids do the next one.)

Actually we have some avid readers in the house. Even the non-readers love to pick up and peruse books. And of course they love being read to. I don't do it as often as I used to or as often as I should. But I'm working on it.

All of the kids have been to the dentist, only one itty bitty cavity between them. BOOYAH! The dentist even got to look at Alina today. Alina in NO WAY let the hygenist touch her mouth, but we insisted that the dr be allowed to look in there. She was very quick and saw a good deal of plaque build up on her gums. By the end of the visit, Alina was smiling at the dentist and holding her new toothbrush. I love this new dentist, she sat next to me (I was holding Alina in the chair) and talked calmly and would occasionaly rub Alina's leg to get Alina familiar with her. You know you have found a good dentist when your kids actually ASK to go back. No kidding, they did. And her and her husband starting homeschooling their son this year. Oh yes, we'll stay. :)
It has been a rough couple days around here. I believe that I have discovered why (mostly). There has been a lot of out of the house activity, sometimes just me on errands, and sometimes with some or all of the kids. Our family is used to being on the go, but it really throws off the new additions. Which in turn throws me off, and if Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. So, I'm not sure how to address this issue right now, but it does need to be done.  We didn't really understand how much routine would mean to the new ones. We (insert I because my husband knew this all along) thought that we'd be able to just add them right into our routine (or lack of it) and keep going. Finding that to not be the case. Imagine that.

Every day is a learning opportunity to see what our new children can keep up with and when they need things slowed down. What they can handle and what is too much stimulation, break in routine, absence, etc. Tomorrow will be another test. We have a birthday party in the afternoon, then we split and some go home while others go to a corn maze. Then Saturday is Upwards basketball/cheerleading sign up and a football game. Slowing down will come sometime. Or we'll have to artificially make it come. Christmas. That will be a lovely time. :)

Another reason for rough waters lately is our lovely 2 yr old. The girl with the pink arms in the former post. That's nail polish by the way. She didn't like it when it came time to take it off. Lesson learned I think.
She's been getting into everything and being very clingy. We suspect that she's wanting to make sure that she's not forgotten about or replaced. We shower her with love everyday, and she continues to get into stuff. Not sure what else to do but pray and love on her. She adores her new siblings and is sweet and loving toward them. Thank God for that.

The biggest reason of all, I haven't been reading my Bible as much as I should. I know that I am in a "busy season" right now with many little ones, but what I need to refresh is in that Book and I should go there.
Note to self: Read Bible daily. Don't put it off. God loves you and wants to refresh you with His Word. Do it!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Holly post...

Happy 5th Birthday Princess Holly!  


The Princess and her Court.
Guess who started riding...
..without training wheels?
"I did!"
We love you Holly!! We are so glad that God put you in our family!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Dr appts, dentist appts, co op days, football, normal?

Mary says,

It has been SO busy around this house that I don't even know where to start. Okay, how about with the 30 million doctor appts we've had. Alright, you got me, that's an exaggeration. It's closer to like 28 million. Anyway, things are looking good. The last one was with a hand specialist, he will be doing the last surgery on Vitaly's hand in December. He has done many surgeries on people who have Aperts and we're confident that he will do a great job. We were also pleased to find out that the scars on Vitaly's pelvic area are not from abdominal surgery. Apparently the dr's in Ukraine used skin from that area for the surgeries on freeing his fingers. That was good news!!

Next for Alina is hearing testing and seeing a speech therapist to help with her chewing issue. She also has to get a test for her GI doctor to rule out any physical reason that she doesn't chew or swallow. Some really good news on her, she put a cookie to her mouth for two days this week. And she's letting us feed her a little (before spitting it back out) It's not that my cooking is that bad, really.
This is BIG news as she hasn't put any food in her mouth since shortly after we got home at the end of July. She has been drinking nutritional drinks (Pediasure, Boost) only since then. She also will grab a utensil that is on the table and a plate and make the motions to feed herself. We are sure that these are signs that she will eat again soon. And, she has gained three pounds since coming home! Praise God.

Let me see, what else was there......Oh yes, I finally called around a secured us a new dentist. Everyone has appts this month. Our last dentist saw us all on the same day, this office only wants two at a time. They want to spread the awesomeness out. JK  Trudy did a great job. She was so quiet until the tech was done that she made them believe she was shy. HA! Next up was Phoebe and Trudy talked the ENTIRE time. Then they praised Phoebe for her incredibly straight teeth (genetically handed down from dad but I gave her the good hair). The dentist actually said that Phoebe's mouth looked like the after shot from an orthodontist. :)
Next was Ethan and Vitaly's turn. Not to be outdone by his sister, Vitaly did a great job too. They let him sit on my lap and did the whole cleaning. The dentist said his mouth looks good, but he does have some kind of opening in the back of his mouth and his tonsils are as big as walnuts. She said that it's amazing that he talks as much as he does, because he has to do an extra step with his tongue to close that whole. So we got a referral for an ENT. Another dr appt. Oh well, soon they will be over. Maybe. Hopefully. For a little while. Ethan did good too. He's a good big brother. He made Tolly comfortable and encouraged him. Adventures in dentistry continue this week with two more luck winners headed for their visit.
Tom and I have had to do a lot of tag teaming lately. I'll start out somewhere and he will come and meet me so that I can get to the next thing or come and pick Ethan up for football practice. Speaking of football, The Saints are awesome. The last game was a varsity game against a public school in another state. The other team won by ONE point in OVERTIME. Ethan got to play several times eventhough he is on the JV team. He really loves playing and enjoys camaraderie of the team and coaches too.

We've been going to our co op once a week for about six weeks now. It's hard to believe that it has been that long. Vitaly and Alina are in the 3's class with me all three hours. They are doing well. Tolly likes to be around the other kids and really enjoys the art time. Alina likes music and dancing best I think. She seems like she wants to be involved more and we try, but to be honest, I'm still learning how to help her do things. It's hard to verbalize. The two lead teachers go to our church and are VERY kind to Alina and Vitaly. It warms this mom's heart to see someone else embrace their children. Thanks ladies!

Phoebe and Lee are gearing up for the musical drama that they will be in for co op in Dec. We are all excited to see it. Sophie and Holly love their classes and are happy to know when "co op day is tomorrow". Ethan enjoys spending time with his friends. Mom is exhausted when the morning is done. In a good way. :) Trudy happily goes to her class and can even pass me in the hall with a smile on her face and a waving hand for Vitaly and Alina.

Okay, I think that takes up the whole title. I know that if I did these more often I wouldn't have to write so much. But I don't, so I do.

Handsome guys!
Little one who shall remain nameless. (Nail Polish)
Notice the same little girl as above, only with long sleeves. :)
There are the gifted straight teeth mentioned earlier.
Sophie always has a BIG smile for everyone.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Some more Pix from last month

Tom Says,

The kids are a riot but they are also very loud.  I don't know who decided that giving someone under the age of 18 a musical instrument was a good idea; (well, it seemed like a good idea, at the time, at any rate, nevermind.)  One day they decided that all the book baskets weren't for holding books but for holding children...

Having a good time with beans & bowls

Billy Idol Hair!!!

Fun for all ages

Baskets aren't for books, they're for playing catch (in, not with)

Play that funky music...

Is it school or playtime? It's both!

Thanks again for all your love and prayers.  Tolly has his first dentist appointment tomorrow, should be interesting, we'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Aug - Sep Updates

Tom Says:

Despite the hospital visits and everything else happening in August and September it wasn't all bad.  Mommom and Poppop came for a visit (which was really helpful, they are wonderful and helped us keep an eye on the kids, did some driving to football, and definitely helped keep us from being overwhelmed with housework.)  So, let the good times roll...

Say Hello to Poppop, Mommom, and Linus

Let's Ride!
Ready to Roll!

Time to Trade
Mom enjoying time with the kids.

Watching big bro at the game.
Big Bro is the one in red????

Go #31

Cheer Leader in Training

Kids Running...

Isn't she adorable!

Hi Five, good game

Poppop's B-Day Pizza Party (his choice)


Don't get between a girl and her cake
My Boys!!!


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Finally...An Update...With Pictures!!!

Tom Says: Who knew that this blogging thing would be so hard...

Sorry All, It's been a busy month.  As you might know Mary is feeling better but that just means that she's busier than ever.  We've started schooling again, been to a dozen plus doctors appointments, started soccer for the littles, football for Ethan, met with the social worker(s) I'm busy at work (and school), and it seems that if only our days were about 6 hours longer, we might be able to get 6 hours of sleep. 

 But we're having good times, Tolly is doing well and Alina has gained some weight,  but still doesn't eat solids yet (Yaay pediasure/ensure/boost).  All the kids are too cute and we have pictures to prove it, so without further ado:

The Church threw us a baby shower.

Here we are in our Finest Ukrainian wear
Too Cute!

Bonus points for knowing it without Googling it
We met our friends here, dressing alike was coincidental (Homeschoolers what can you say)

Martha & the Girls
Boy with a stick, having fun, what else can you say!
Nice boat (or is it a ship) contains the answer to the above question

Dad says: uh oh, who went overboard? (nobody, really, I think I sneezed there)

Leaving the boat after a good ride

we'll try to do better and post once a week or so. Seriously though, the Lord is good, we're adjusting, and it's a good life Charlie Brown...