Sleep Tight

For the three and a half months Sweet Girl has been home now, she has slept on a small cot just beside the bed in mama and papa’s room. Having spent her entire life sleeping dormitory style with at least 10 other children in a row of beds, we knew sleeping in her own room, her own bed, would be a big adjustment to overcome. We could not force her to spend those first scary nights alone in her room and we didn’t want to start the habit of her ending up in our bed, so the cot became a familiar extension of the comfortable little pallet on the floor she took to so well to those first couple of unfamiliar nights with us in an Moscow hotel room.
We had fully prepared to begin transitioning her to her own bed when she showed signs of attachment. She had spent some time napping in it during the day, so it wasn’t totally foreign. However, due to many outside circumstances and for a variety of reasons, we have found ourselves selling our house and gearing up to move the family onto a much better situation for everyone. Despite her doing so remarkably well with her adjustment, we have been careful to prepare her for every change and implement them slowly. We knew that moving would be a huge obstacle to her attachment and adjustment. With awareness of that, we decided not to push and not to change the familiar sleeping arrangement she was accustomed to until we were settled in the new house. Of course, this wasn’t an easy decision for us since one of us (9 times out of 10, mama) has been with Sweet Girl every night from her bedtime at 8pm to when she falls asleep, with no break, since picking her up that night in Russia from the orphanage.  Because of this, our available free time together is limited to 7pm-8pm – when the twins go to bed to when Sweet Girl needs to go to bed. It’s hard since we work all day and need time in the evening to reconnect and be still together for a moment without children.
But last night, a break through… rather, a miracle! Sweet Girl, of her own accord, asked to go “nite-nite” in her big girl bed. We were a bit startled and caught off guard, but welcomed any chance. So we quickly gathered the baby monitor and set a trail of ambient light leading from her room downstairs to the open door of our bedroom and said have at it! We talked about the house being quiet and about how she could go to mama and papa’s room if she got scared. After several testing bathroom breaks, she went to sleep in her very own bed by herself! That sleep continued until 3:30am when we were awakened unexpectedly by a toddler bedside in our room. No warning, no noise on the baby monitor, nothing, just a little person whispering “mama!”. We directed her to lay on her cot and all quickly went back to sleep and that was that. When we asked her in the morning what happened, her only answer was “scared”. That however doesn’t seem to deter her as she remains adamant about wanting to go to sleep in her room again. So as I write this, I’m upstairs just outside her room, quiet, watching her on the webcam trying to repeat last night’s brave performance!Morning update: She made it until 5:50am and then came downstairs. She didn’t want to lay in her cot and instead knee’d mama and papa in their kidneys until we were all up for the day at 6:15am.

We have 6 more weeks in our house so we’ll see how she does! She’s very proud of herself and excited so I think she’ll do just fine!

Sweet, precious, spunky, brave girl.

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3 months home

Sweet Girl has been home officially 3 months now – we can hardly believe it! Seems like it has been much longer, not only from our perspective of adjusting to being new parents again, but she has been picking up things at a phenomenal pace and I forgot just how little time she’s spent here. Mama got the same stickers we used to chronicle the girls first 12 months of life to chronicle Sweet Girl’s first 12 months home. Unfortunately, life has been so busy, blogging Sweet Girl’s progress has been difficult to say the least. I don’t know if we’ll ever catch up, but we hope to do better in filling everyone in. You might even see a few posts I started from a month or two ago pop up out of chronological order.
Now 3 months home, Sweet Girl is understanding almost 100% of our instructions in English. She is speaking a version of Rusglish.. Russian with English nouns and adjectives scattered in. Its sometimes difficult to decipher whether she’s speaking English or Russian. She is learning more and more everyday and it often only takes her a single time hearing something before she’s repeating it again. She is completely comfortable in our house and with the twins. She continually wants to help with her sisters, whether its with bath time, unbuckling them from their car seats, or giving them food. She sometimes tries to take on a disciplinarian role with them which we try not to encourage.
Words she’s saying in English include:
i love you
Jesus
more
all done
mama
papa
Cranky
Happy
teacher
school
Lollyhop (bunny at school)
french fries
soup
chicken
macaroni and cheese
apple
orange
banana
yogurt
chocolate
ipad
water
juice
milk
please
thank you
car
bath
shampoo
monkey
doggie
kitty cat
shirt
pants
shoes
jammies
icky
oops
mess
baby/babies
hit
house
next
careful
dangerous
one
two
three
four
five (and counts them)
she can spell the letters of her name
and tons more I’m sure I’ll remember later!She’s doing an excellent job of stringing things together including “lollyhop school” and “more apple please”. And when it relates to tattling on her sisters she’s excellent at “mama babies no please” and “papa cranky no my room”In the interest of getting the update out, heres some random pics with no organization! Most are of her first day at school!



 

1 Month Home

(posted by him)
Its been 4 weeks… almost a full month… since Sweet Girl came home. This past week was the first of a new month, meaning busy time for mama at work, the first one we’ve encountered since she’s been home. As so, with the exception of Monday, the rest of the week was mine to spend with Sweet GIrl and I would say this week was slightly different than those previous… more so characterized by testing of boundaries.Monday was the only day I went to work. The act of me leaving with the twins is perhaps the most difficult thing for her to deal with. When she sees her sisters getting ready and going down to the car with papa, the tears are inevitable. She will throw her arms around my waist and beg me not to go. After prying her off, mama is left with a 30-45 minute unconsolable sobbing. We have learned that this can be eased by allowing her to get fully dressed alongside her sisters and sometimes going for a short car ride just to get out the house. While we think she is mostly upset by me leaving and not being sure when/if I’ll return, there seems to be part of her that simply wants to get out of the house.

The remainder of the week was my turn. Since the twins normally accompany me to work, on days where I don’t work, we’ve worked out the arrangement where mama leaves early and drives an hour and half out of her way to drop them off at school and in the afternoon, Sweet GIrl and I load up in the car and do the same drive to fetch her sisters. While very inconvenient for everyone, we feel it is necessary for the girls to see their friends at school and us be able to focus our attention on Sweet GIrl during the day. She does struggle the same with her mama leaving in the morning, but to a lesser degree than papa. By the time the afternoon gets here, I get several questions that infer as “where is mama?” And by the time the afternoon gets here, she is very excited and rides very well to go get her sisters. She becomes instantly excited when we pull up to their school but is still very shy inside around all their friends and teachers. On the ride home, since she sits forward facing in between her two sisters who are still rear facing, she’s constantly talking to them and passing things to them. When we finally get home, there is a made dash of children excited to see their mama… Cranky is now competing with Sweet Girl on who gets to be held/hugged until the table is set for dinner.

I started this post off with this week was different, characterized by more testing of boundaries, and that has come in the form of sleep. This week, I have instantly become unsuccessful in getting her to take her afternoon nap. We’ll get changed into our pj’s and into the bed and I’ll settle down on the floor of her room like I always do, but she now instantly tries to sit up/stand up, talk, and whatever else to remain awake. When I lay her back down and place the covers over her, she becomes upset and latches on with a tight bear hug. Breaking this bear hug causes instant sobbing. No longer will remaining in her room within line of sight eventually result into napping. We sat in total darkness for over an hour sobbing before eventually giving up. We haven’t been too worried as at 4.5yrs old, she is really at an age where naps are becoming optional, and since we’ve spent so much time in the car, she usually gets a solid 45 minutes there anyway, but she was such a good napper just a week ago, its like the switch just flipped. But this may also do with her attachment to papa, as mama was able to make her nap this weekend where I haven’t been. But her bedtime routine has also suffered from more sobbing and extended time trying to get to sleep, but mama is always able to work her magic and once asleep, she has remained pretty steady in staying asleep until around 7:00am, so for that, we are thankful.

We also concentrated on having our 2nd and 3rd sessions with our student translator. The first visit was characterized by head down, almost sobbing, these recent visits she has become accustomed to him in the room where she will play and resume her normal business largely ignoring him. But while she doesn’t typically respond, she does understand and acknowledge what he says to her. Also, he’s been able to catch some of her chatter and while not in direct response to his questions, he is able to understand most of what she is saying. One misconception I’ve witnessed is just putting someone who speaks and understands Russian in front of her, doesn’t immediately establish communication. Just like with any unfamiliar English speaking person, she is shy, reserved, and closed off first… just because they know her language, doesn’t change her reaction to new people. However, I’ve found if we’re able to spend time and take the focus away from her, she’ll eventually start to open up. But we feel no one outside our home gets to witness her true rambunctious, chatty nature that we experience every night… but this will only come with time.

As for everything else, our expectations are exceeded on a daily basis. She has become completely comfortable with Cranky and Happy and we have not had a single fallout between them as I was prepared for. She loves to do things for her sisters, hand them their bottles, help with bath time, even tries to instruct them to do things in Russian. Happy loves having someone to chase around and Cranky remains fascinated by what her big sister is up to. Bath time continues to be an all time favorite and potty time is no trouble. Eating continues to be hit or miss depending on the food choices, but largely we have no problem getting food into her. We’ve had no more breakdowns over communication or lack of understanding each other for several weeks now. She’s picked up a handful of English words, even used her first English word “hot” in context last week. She is also intrigued by learning the alphabet and the alphabet song and will sing and pronounce the letters along with her various toys that do so. Her favorite letters are the beginning of her name “C” and “A” and she struggles the most with “W”. Perhaps what I’m most amazed with is her ability to soak of new things so easily. She only needs to see you try something once before she’s repeating it, and thats without language involved. It just further reiterates how amazing and smart she is and only needs to be given the opportunity and she will flourish.

2 Weeks Home

Now that Sweet Girl is home we can be a little more open about the procedure. For all those coming here as a resource about adoption, Sweet Girl is from Vladimir, Russia. All posts about being in region reference Vladimir and all posts about the capital reference Moscow.

I hope to keep the blog up but transition it into a journal of our family and Sweet Girl’s place in our lives! So with that, here’s an update on what we’ve been up to!

Ten things I didn’t expect in our first two weeks home:

1. Cranky and Happy to not bat an eye as Sweet Girl has seamlessly taken her place as the big sister. The interactions between all three girls are genuinely sweet and caring. There has been very little issue over toys, attention, etc.

2. In Moscow, Sweet Girl slept on a pallet next to the bed with us. Here, we have her on a little cot next to our bed. In Moscow, Sweet Girl slept 8p – 8a without issues. At home, when she wakes, she’s up. This has been from 3a – 8a. Our hopes of getting her into her own room at night after a couple of days have turned into we hope we can get her into her own room by Christmas.

3. All 3 girls at once is still pretty overwhelming for he and I individually. It’s our issue though, not theirs, as we learn to split our attentions well enough to fulfill all three girls need for affection, attention, and positive reinforcement. I feel exhausted 99% of the time. I try to not let my frequent frustration show, but I am human and I fail. He is super dad and is continually patient and present with them.

4. While deep down I am not surprised, Sweet Girl is modeling all the twins behavior. They throw food on the floor, she wants to see what happens when she throws food on the floor. They want a book read, she wants a book read. She watches their behavior as a model on how to act in our family. Thankfully, the twins are surrounded by a village of people who have helped us model good behavior for them so they can now model good behavior for Sweet Girl… except for that throwing food thing 🙂

5. Sweet Girl has attached very quickly to he and I – moreso him. She comes to me and loves me and needs me, its when her Papa is at work, her little world breaks down. It is getting better as she realizes when Papa leaves he will always come back. Overall, when not at home, her anxiety about being forgotten, being left, or all of us not going home is palpable. The shocking degree to which she “needs” us has been slightly overwhelming, but we’re managing.

6. Eating is harder than I thought it would be. In Moscow, Sweet Girl was pretty picky about what she ate and that has continued at home. It is a little bit her controlling her completely uncontrollable surroundings and a little bit that she thinks we are crazy Americans for eating all this food out of boxes. We are learning her and she is rewarding us by trying and liking new things occasionally. She has no pressure with food. She can eat as much or as little of whatever she wants whenever she wants.

7. Sweet Girl loves going. As a way to avoid the insanity that comes from being inside all day every day, we try to go out for little trips every day. She loves to crawl into her carseat and get buckled. She loves going into stores and looking at all the stuff. In the grocery, she just wanted to touch all these things she’s only seen in pictures.

8. She is SMART. She prefers to teach us the Russian word than learn the English word, but she is learning new concepts so quickly. She can bead patterns, sort, color, trace and overall learns so fast. She tries to mimic words we say and already understands lots of basic things we tell her. We taught her A and C this week and now she can consistently say, find and write those letters. And I don’t even need to get into her expertise at what she’s now taken as HER iPhone and HER iPad.

9. She doesn’t like warm Krispy Kremes. I know it’s a travesty, we are working on it.

10. She has maintained lots of orphanage habits, but others she has dropped quickly. While she can dress herself, she prefers to let us dress her. She knows she is supposed to sit for meals but sometimes, her curiosity about the cat causes her to get up and investigate. She shares well and is tolerant of twins being in her room and riffling through her stuff. She is opinionated about what she wears. She is learning what happens when she doesn’t respond to “Nyet!”

I won’t lie. This is HARD. Adding another child to your home who already has so many life experiences is not roses and daisies. But God said to follow Him. He didn’t tell us it would be easy and not fraught with heartache, but He did tell us that the reward would be worth it. Seeing the light in her eyes the first time she saw fruit at the grocery store made every document we chased worth it.

 

So, here’s our first two weeks in PICTURES!

HOOPS, part 2

I was hoping to be able to post this last Friday, but as is the case, there was no news.Michael at DHL is in contact with DHL (region). Now the hold up seems to be that the adoption center either doesn’t have the package ready for pickup or won’t call DHL (region) to pick it up.

I requested Vita call again to day to tell them to give it to DHL (region) asap, but I have yet to hear if she did. It’s a little ridiculous that emails have to go through 5 people before they get to the right person!

HOOPS, part 3 to HOPEFULLY come soon 🙂

I looked at flights early this am and it’s looking pretty fantastic (like miracle territory) if we can book soon. We might go ahead and book flights before we have confirmation the visa invitation is on it’s way. It’s slightly risky, but the alternative is that flights go up and we pay more. It’s not just a little more either, it’s like thousands more.

But also, before we book, we need confirmation from Vita whether she wants us to be in region Sunday afternoon so we are ready to go early on Monday or Monday afternoon so we have a shorter day.

Anyway, here’s some pictures of the cutest 20 month olds around!

10 Tidbits

Sometimes I think of things or take a picture and mean to post it somewhere and never do.Or maybe, something in itself isn’t enough for a blog post or I just don’t have time so it hides on my phone. Here are 10 tidbits, inspired by the pictures on my phone.10. This morning it was raining and I hit traffic again. I have no clue why in the middle of this road, traffic always stops. I wanted to share this picture with the quote, “At least it’s not Monday anymore!”

9. For LAOKV’s birthday the other week, we went and saw Sister Hazel at Ziggy’s. I knew I was old for 4 reasons. 1) By the time we were done with dinner, I was ready for bed 2) I had a glass of wine with dinner and said that was enough for the whole night. 3) I wore flats and my feet were still killing me after standing on concrete for 3 hours. 4) The old guy dancing behind us was more endearing than embarrassing.

8. I’m addicted to shopping at Goodwill for sweet girl. I have such a hard time paying full or even half price for kids clothes. For the twins I buy a lot of their stuff used from a multiples resale group because the prices are so good. And I still match them and that’s hard to do at Goodwill. But for Sweet Girl, I can find awesome things in singles at Goodwill and I don’t feel bad about it. Yes, she has 11 Christmas shirts, but when you consider I paid $2 each for them so the whole lot is retail for one, who cares! And of course a 4 year old needs 3 bathing suits when she’s coming home in October! I posted this on my facebook, but here’s a recent Goodwill steal – RL Polo Sweater (maybe slightly big, but we’ll roll the sleeves back, Cream Cherokee LS top, Children’s Place Jeans and Target brown boots in excellent condition. $9.50!

7. Cranky loves shoes. She wants them on and off and on and off and on and off all day. Or socks. She can easily get them off herself, but can just now, get her sandals back on again. The other day, she saw her shoes on the floor in the living room on the way to the kitchen for dinner. She insisted (when she insists, we usually say ok, it’s a matter of picking battles) that the shoes come with her. Then she proceeded to use them as bowls for the pretzels she didn’t get to yet.

6. I saw this picture on my phone and didn’t recall what it was or why I took it. Then I remembered – this is the Delta terminal at JFK. There was a pigeon just walking around. Why not! Welcome to America!

5. Also in Eastern Europe, I found Nascar on the TV one day, but the announcers were speaking Russian. It was better than the alternative TV choices!

4.The twins LOVE to eat cereal in a bowl with milk and a spoon. They are SUPRISINGLY accurate with the milk filled spoons for 18 months!

3. The twins have developed in unison, a love for baby dolls. They have two sweet babies they keep in their cribs that Gregory gave them – sometimes they can’t stand to leave baby alone all day and have to go grab her through the rails. They also have two bigger babies that G-ma gave them for their birthday they drag around by the hair. We are practicing loving the babies, being gentle to the babies, feeding the babies, putting diapers on the babies, etc. Just when I think they understand gentle, they decide it’s hilarious to whack the baby over the head.

2. My big girls can now climb up stairs to go down big slides all by themselves. Cranky usually is too lazy to go up the stairs and instead asks that you just put her at the top of the slide.

1.You didn’t think I could go an entire post without discussing adoption or advocacy did you?!? I read this blog post this morning and was in tears. Everyone we have directly spoken to about adoption has been completely supportive, and I haven’t gotten rude comments yet, but I know they are out there, especially for my friends as they willingly adopt children with more severe special needs. This blog post summed it up PERFECTLY.  Click here: Into the Flames. I know it’s another link, but please read it. And then know.. I’m not asking you to go into the building the first time, much less go back into the building. I’m the one going into the building and I just might go back into that building again one day. What I ask you to do, is hold me up when I get out of the building and help me polish the treasure I’ve just drug out of the building who may be covered in soot and grime and be burned in a few places. Can I do it without you? Yup. But, it’s certainly nice to see everyone when we get out!

[T]heir mumbling grows to shouting. They say that they could understand you feeling like you needed to save one -as they glance cautiously at the little one that you just risked your life for….that you were willing to GIVE your life for……but they really can’t understand why you would go for another. Haven’t you sacrificed enough? Some are even saying that you are selfish! They are saying that when you race into that house, it makes them uncomfortable. It distracts them from the things that they have to think about that day. You try to reason with them, but their faces are full of pity for you! Pity that you have obviously lost all common sense. That you have stepped out of where God would want you to be….

Bonus: While I was wrapping up this post, I went to Goodwill for my lunch break. I found this coat for $3. Baby Gap 3T. I previously bought sweet girl a coat, but it’s a 5/6. I was nervous it wouldn’t fit and I was nervous about the weather in October in Eastern Europe if the coat didn’t fit. I hear we might see lots of snow. For the price, it’s worth the risk. I need to borrow my favorite 4 year old soon so I can try it out to see whether to pack it or pass it on to someone else’s littler sweet girl.

Weary…

This has been a very hard week on the adoption front. I’m growing weary. At a time when the end is in sight and I can see the finish line, I just can’t seem to find the strength to get over these last few hurdles.
We got a court date for August 31st. We leave in 10 days. We should be jumping up and down, we should be so excited, but we can’t, because once again, there might be one simple piece of paper that’s missing that could bring it all come crashing down. I feel like for every single document, for every step of this process, the burden has been on he and I to fight for our Sweet Girl. Nothing has come easy. Nothing has been simple. After months on end of EVERY DAY having to fight for something, we are drained.
I can’t wait for the judge to ask if I will treat this child as my own, if I will love this child. I want to tell him that beyond a shadow of a doubt she is already my child. I already love her as my daughter. I want to look him in the eyes and tell him that every day of this journey I have fought for her and I will not rest until she’s sleeping in her bed, in her house, with her mommy and daddy saying prayers with her and telling her stories.
As I was listening to the radio in the car on the way to work this morning, I was thinking of how of course I won’t give up, of course we’ll keep going. I suddenly realized that this is what God does for us every day.
He fights for the souls of his children.
Through war, poverty, hunger, and more, He battles for us.
Yet, He’s never grown weary and He’s never thought of giving up.
So when today, we grow more weary still by the battles yet to fight to bring her home, I will remember, that I don’t have to be strong, my Father is already strong for me.
Until she is in our family pictures, we won’t rest.
Saving a spot for you Sweet Girl…

How did we decide to adopt?

I think it’s pretty common knowledge we had some struggle conceiving Cranky and Happy (ironically the treatment we pursued has a next to 0% multiples rate – ha!). But finally I was pregnant and I had a blissful 2 weeks basking in the knowledge. And then the morning sickness hit at 5w5d. And then at 5w6d we found out it was twins. And then, I had a rough go of a high risk pregnancy. And then we had a rough go of it in the NICU when they were born premature and Happy got rushed into emergency surgery. And then we had a rough go of it for the first few months while we all adjusted to our new normal.When we were just finally getting into our groove, it happened.

I was still barely sleeping and stress and money worries (holy moly 2 infants in daycare!) were still hanging out.

We said, NO MORE KIDS UNTIL THE GIRLS ARE 5!

There was no way we could afford another in daycare and still protect our financial future.

And then..

I saw her..

(We were not able to share this picture before we met her)

I wasn’t expecting it. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I’ll never forget where I was or what I was doing. But I heard Him plain as day. “She’s the one.”

“The one what God? The one I’m to pray for? The one I’m to advocate for? The one? What does THE ONE mean??” I knew my questions were futile. I knew exactly what He meant before he answered. “She is your daughter,” He whispered to me.

Without thinking, I fired off an email to find out more.

I emailed 2 friends her picture. They were confused. Honestly, I was confused.

I said, “But God, I have 2 babies! Special needs! This is too much! The time! The money! – I have to tell him!”

And then I wanted to passout.. oh my goodness.. I was going to have to tell him.

The next day, I emailed him her picture. I didn’t have the guts to tell him in person. I simply said, “Can I have her?” He didn’t answer so I clarfied, “I’m serious. I want her.” (That’s the actual words from my G-Chat transcript). He’s heard crazy things from me before, but this might be the winner.

I got another picture.

She’s just over 2 here. This is the earliest picture anyone has seen. The fact that she wasn’t smiling in this one either strengthened my resolve.

We talked through it for a couple days. I tried to forget her. She was all I could think about. I spent hours researching everything I could – about her, about adoption, about Reece’s Rainbow. The thought of having to live without her overtook me. Within a month we jumped in head first. They estimated the process would take 12-18 months and $35,000. I couldn’t imagine the thought of either. The estimated budget is now over $50,000 and while it’s a large sum of money for sure, it now represents LIFE. Her LIFE. I will pay anything to show her that she is precious, she is ours, she is valuable, she is LOVED.

This sweet girl will never go without a mommy and daddy again.

6th 4th

Another week has passed – where is the time going? I’m so happy that the weeks are passing quickly – it means it’s one week closer to when we get to see you again! It also means one less week to get ready for you!

The last news we heard is still no news. I tried to think of a creative way to skip our third trip and just take 3 total, but our facilitator said it’s just not possible. We are hopeful to hear something this week. We’re desperate to get back to you!

We finally figured out what you are going to sleep on when you come home. It seems like it should have been an easy thing, but it was hard! One day this week Papa is going to put your bed together and then we can work on the finishing details of your room. Mama has already made you a quilt for your bed. Now I just need to make a couple of pillows, your curtains and a pillow sham for your bed. And hang the artwork and print your name letters and hang those up.

On July 3, we went to Annie’s house for our annual July 4th trip. This is the 6th year we’ve done this – or the 6th 4th. Every year the cast of characters changes slightly, but it’s always a good time. And the best part! We just have to bring food so it’s free!

Here are all the pictures! Next year you get to come! Yay! And Taylor will be very happy she doesn’t have to play with “all those babies!” And Olive gets to be there next year too if Olive’s Mama braves the heat with a wee one 🙂 And hopefully other friends will be on the way to #2 too!