Saturday, July 30, 2011

We're not lost.....

just incredibly busy!! Sorry for not updating sooner. We have been home for five days now and it has been a whirlwind.

Vitaly was giggling and just about jumping out of his car seat when we pulled into our driveway. The OC (original crew :) were telling him and Alina that we're home now. He was one of the first ones out and kept looking at the house, then back at us. After being ushered inside, the NA (new additions :) were given tours and shown to their rooms. Tolly was so excited that he just had to grab a broom and start pitching in his share! We now know what job to assign him. AND he likes it, SCORE! It's hard to keep Tolly out of the kitchen. He's always looking for something to eat or drink. They had such a strict eating/drinking schedule at the orphanage. Since he's been with us, we pretty much gave him a drink whenever he asked. We learned after a few days that that probably wasn't the best policy since there was a rash of potty accidents. Oops!

Alina was only slightly less excited about arriving at her new home. She wasn't feeling well and pretty much quietly took everything in. She has started eating more, but it's still just a little each feeding. We're hoping to get referred to an occupational therapist or feeding clinic to find out how to teach her to chew.
We believe that she is starting to feel more at home now.  She has found "her" spot on the couch and knows which toys she likes the best so far. (the rocking chair and big legos)

There has been a lot of firsts in the past few days.
1) first time at our house,
2) the first time on a trampoline (Tolly looked at me like "what do I do now?" after being put on the big black circle with the net around. Little sister Trudy was in there with a soccer ball. He may have thought that it was some kind of closed cage match or something for all I know. Mad Max anyone?),
3) first time swimming in a pool (they both screamed at going in out of fear. Tom, Ethan and I eased them into it and they ended up loving the pool!),
4) Alina's first time in a grocery store (yes I count it) An elderly man in a wheelchair came up to Alina and starting talking to her and touched her hand. He said that his daughter has special needs and spoke very kindly to Alina. Warmed my heart! Also, five minutes later an employee came up and starting talking to her. With a lull in the conversation (cause Alina doesn't talk yet and doesn't give eye contact) I mentioned that this was her first time in a grocery store. The lady asked "why" and I said because she's only been in  the country for a few days. Our conversation turned to adoption and the nice lady shared with me that she wants to adopt a little girl from America. It was a nice God meeting.
5) Tolly eats pizza, hot dogs, corn on the cob we think for the first time. Still loves everything he can put in his mouth. He will scavenge the table and eat food left if not cleared off in time or he's not removed from the dining room. The boy has a hollow leg.
6) first time at an urgent care clinic for Tolly. Had to get his hand re-wrapped after swimming. Not one of his favorite firsts.

How many pictures do we have of these "firsts" moments, none. No, we didn't lose the camera again. Well, not really. It was lost somewhere in the unpacking of the van. Only now, it's found and we will start up again with the fotografs. :)

The OC have been wonderful in accepting their new siblings. Completely a God thing! We've tried to address their questions about Alina's habits and they have been satisfied with our answers. And very loving toward her! I didn't realize how small Alina and Tolly were until they stood next to Trudy (2) and Holly (4). Alina is the same height as Trudy and 5 pounds lighter (25 lbs) and Tolly is only up to Holly's shoulders. Wow!!  Ethan has embraced having a younger brother and finally a roommate! Although his room had to undergo some serious childproofing when we got home. Ethan says that Tolly is his alarm clock, mom likes that. :) Holly and Sophie (7) like to have turns "watching" their new sister and are being really big helpers. Phoebe (12) and Lee (10) have smothered the NA with hugs, kisses, and encouragements! We are truly blessed parents.

Alina has joined the Princess Parade and Tolly has just run in to the family like his spot was saved for him!

Okay, that all said, let me say this......Our adoption journey has been wonderful!! We definately know that God put us on this path and that these two little people were meant to be in our family. Forever.
That doesn't mean that our journey is over. Oh no, it's just begun. While there have been many wonderful moments, there have also been difficult moments, hard moments. With everyone of those hard moments, we learn a little more about our new children, about parenting and about relying on God. He never said following Him was going to be easy. But then again, everything that is easy is not always good and everything that is good is not always easy.  More on all of that another time....

We came home to find mold in our basement. Covering our furniture and some of the cloth toys. Tom has spent the last several days emptying the basement (furniture and stuff to the dump) and de-fungalizing and sanitizing. So the children have not been allowed down there since we got home. That means that everyone was allocated to the first floor or their bedrooms. After a few days, 8 kids in the same four rooms can be a little overwhelming. Little. I said little, right. So today I got the dynamic idea to take the Littles (all of them and our Lee who is 10) to the playground and then a walk by the bay. The artificial blonde chemicals I used must have come back to haunt me. What was I thinking. It was like 158 degrees outside. No one had fun at the playground, except Alina because she was swinging. So we decide to go for our walk. Tolly has a meltdown because he's now enrolled in the obedience school of Mommy says, several of the Littles and a Middle were complaining about the heat. And I only had a double stroller. Mind you, I had 6 kids ages 10, 7, 5, 4, 4, and 2. The younger four didn't want to walk. At all.  Determined that we're going to go for a walk, I put Alina and Trudy in the stoller and head off.
Needless to say that 20 minutes later, we're heading for the van to go home and most of everybody is crying. Oh, and I forgot to close the van doors during our walk. Uh huh, not a good idea. While in the van, the crying 2 yr old proceeds to ask the 4 yr old (Holly) why she's crying. Maybe she thought if they were crying for the same reason that they could form a union.

It was naptime when we got home.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Aunt Mary had the bags packed and waiting in the driveway! :)

Just Kidding! After a looonngg trip, we have made it to Arkansas. We left Kiev, Ukraine, at 5:30am Saturday, left Frankfurt, Germany at 12 noon (which was an hour behind Kiev), then left Chicago at 9:30pm Central Standard time. We arrived in Arkansas about 11:30pm and got to Uncle Jim and Aunt Mary's house about 1:30am. Did I mention that it was a long day??

The plane trips were good. The first ride was only 2 hours. The first hour, Tolly was very excited, the second hour he wanted to get up and throw things. This did not make me hopeful for the 9 hour flight coming up. Alina was a little nervous, but she had her soft blanket and Mama next to her.

The flight from Germany to Chicago started out well, the kids slept for the first three hours. They had been up since 3am that morning. The other 5-6 hours was a little different. That's just too long to keep an active little man cooped up. We walked him up and down the aisles many times, tickled him, played with him and tried to keep him in good spirits. Actually there were only a few serious meltdowns, then he'd be ok for awhile. Especially if there was food involved. :) The boy still has not met a food he doesn't like.
Alina was so easy going that Tom and I fought over who got to hold her, and who got to tend to Tolly. :) Just kidding, but we did take turns.

Funny, he was soooo tired of sitting in his airplane seat, but right after we got off the plane, he happily climbed back into his stroller seat. Go figure.

In AR, our two oldest children, Ethan and Phoebe, joined Uncle Jim to pick us up. They immediately went to the new little ones and greeted them. Tolly was shy and just looked at them, Alina was sleeping. On the way home, Ethan sat next to Tolly and got him giggling. It was great to see them together. It's almost surreal to have them all together. This morning, Tolly and Alina were greeted by the other 4 sisters. They both kinda sat aside to take it all in, but by this afternoon they were playing with everyone.

We're having trouble with Alina eating again. She was doing well with what we were feeding her, but as of today has chosen not to eat it. It's probably due to all of the changes going on right now. We are giving her anything she will drink though to keep something in her tummy.

Here are some pics from the kids meeting. We start tomorrow morning for the 1300 mile trip back home. No more planes, we're driving. Our van is now full........guess we need a bigger van. ;)
Thanks to everyone for your encouragement, support, and prayers! We are all very grateful!
A first meeting....

Brothers having a good time. :)

Big Brother Ethan and Alina

Tom, Aunt Mary, Sophie, Holly, Trudy and Tolly

Cousin John with Alina

Asleep on the way home from the airport

Friday, July 22, 2011

It's Official...

Slava Bolgu...Passports are good to go, Medicals are done, Visas are issued and in hand, We've got all our paperwork ready and we get up at 2AM to go to the Airport.  No more posts for at least 2 days (maybe)

Pray for smooth travels and good flights.  Love you All!

To the Dogs...

Tom Says:

Aunt Mary whom we love dearly (watching our kids is above and beyond the call...) is a dog lover, so much so that she recently started a dog grooming business. (sidenote: they say that if you're doing what you love as your business, your business is more likely to succeed.  And I think her business proves that.)  There a not as many pets here as there are in America, it is a growing business but hasn't really reached  the level of craziness that we've got.  Along those lines there a bunch of wild cats and dogs; they are more like community pets than strictly wild animals.  They tend to be well fed as people put out food, chicken bones, potatoes, gruel, bread, etc...and people tend to treat them nicely.  They know how to cross the street and will follow the traffic lights just like people do (in fact I think some of them are better at it.) A lot of them do need a good brushing, so for you Mary we present, the dogs:

This is the orphanage dog...    

She would lay anywhere,

 ...even on a bush

Street Dog...

And another...

One more...
It's a hard life, gotta stretch...

Crossing the street, waiting for traffic to go by...

Waiting patiently for the boss...

Sound the Alarm...
All Dogs come running to chase away the intruder...

The intruder in question...

Big dog says not on my watch...
Public dogs at the park
Privately owned dog at the park

Dogoflauge at the park

Little guy outside our 1st bigger every day...

Fotografiya 2 of 2

Hey Guys, here are some more cutie pies...
Going for a walk

Checking out the new apt

Counting down the hours...

Going home soon

Gotta smile at that!

What's that?

Eye See You!

Dinner, Yum...

Dinner, not so yum...

Big shoes...

Pretty butterfly for a pretty girl

Almost there...

More Later...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fotografiya 1of 2

Here are some of the promised photos...

Alina practicing for the plane

Alina Says: Thank You to All who helped bring me home!

Sometimes a girl needs a drink (& a Pretty Bow)

Testing out the new backpacks...
Thanks Mommom & Poppop for the pretty backpack

Saying goodbye to friends

It's not easy when things change

Guess who likes the train...

Alina & Mom check out the cabin

And promptly go to sleep

While Tolly waves goodbye to everybody

Don't kick the Dad...
Good Morning Capitol

Endnote: Passports are fixed, we are set for Medicals and Visas tomorrow.