"Adventures, I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull...But that's not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have just landed in them, usually...I expect they had a lot of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn't. And if they had, we shouldn't know, because they'd have been forgotten."

-Samwise Gamgee, The Lord of the Rings

Monday, December 27, 2010

So what did she think of Christmas?

That seems to be the question on everyone's mind! :) Well, to answer... if she didn't think we were crazy before, she sure does now! When the tree went up she loved it! She would heartily exclaim 'WOOO!' every night when we turned the lights on. Then we had a little issue with opening the presents under the tree while mom was in the shower. :)

We opened our gifts here at home on Christmas eve morning because Eugene was on call and had the day off, and had to work on Christmas day. Then the kids and I went up to my moms house (my sister was home!) and had dinner there Christmas Eve and got to play with cute cousin Brooklin!

She came out in the living room on Christmas eve morning and Daddy had put together her dollhouse. She roamed around the living room for at least 10mins before she noticed it (she's super observant!) and then she seen her new shopping cart (to which tonight she exclaimed she was taking her baby to Target). I tried to get a decent pic of the three kids in front of the tree.... yeah that wasn't happening with all those gifts waiting to be opened!


It was fun to watch them open their gifts! We sucked it up and got them a Wii, and they've had a good time playing it so far. E and I have even played the boxing and bowling! Alina got a big dollhouse and a new metal (no tip!) shopping cart, and a few other smaller things. Anthony got a big Lego set, bb gun (from dad), Nerf gun, and some smaller things. Al got a big Lego set, compound bow and arrow set, and a few smaller things.

Overall she enjoyed Christmas. We had a couple really big meals which she enjoyed, and she got to meet many family members for the first time. Got to enjoy lots of cookies, appetizers, and pie! What a blessing to witness the wonder of her first Christmas! To be able to enjoy seeing everything brand new through her eyes. To laugh as she shouts with joy at each new experience.

She had just gotten up and was so excited to see this shopping cart! And the little doll I made her for her first Christmas.


Didn't take her long to figure out how to open gifts!




Al was super excited to get this model PT boat! Complete with glue, paints, etc!


Anth has been coveting a Nerf gun!


Cute cousin Brooklin!


More presents!




Oh a pillow pet!




our three love's at Grandma's Christmas Day


Alina gets her new AFO's on the 29th! She already crawls circles around us... soon she will be running circles around us!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Snow!

Oh did we get snow! 9" fell and made for a fantastic playland for the kids! The boys were so excited to get out and shovel (wonder how many more years I can get out of that?) and Alina was so excited to just be out crawling around in it. She loves the snow! And throws a big fit when its time to come in. :)


A couple more kids and I won't have to do any shoveling! :)






Having a blast in the snow!



Whats that? You've never seen her without a smile on her face? She must always be happy?
Uh huh.


This is the 'My mom just made me come in after 2hrs playing in the snow isn't she a big meanie' tissy.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Two months ago.... one month ago...

Two months ago....

... we were led through an orphanage, hearts pounding, heads spinning, up stairs and down long hallways, past many many rooms, feeling lost and found all at the same time. When we finally walked into the room and seen our girl... I can't even describe the overwhelming rush of feelings that took over. I wanted to laugh, cry, scream, rush over and scoop her up, stand back and let my fears take over. But we just stood and stared, hesitant to go to her but resisting the urge while everyone spoke very fast in Russian around us, while they explained to Alina who we were. I will never forget that moment, when they told her that we were going to be her Mama and Papa. She opened her mouth and gasped a little, turned to look at us and gave us this huge smile.


And so it began. We played, we smiled, we talked quietly to her. Our interactions with her were being watched and observed. This next picture was taken as we had to go. It was a chance to finally hold her, if only for a few seconds. A chance to let her feel us, and to capture us on this very important day.


One month ago....

....we were finally united as a family! After a very long day of travel, we arrived back in our home state to our waiting friends and family. Again, emotions came rushing that I can't describe. 5wks in a foreign country is taxing, especially when your other half had to go home earlier, and you've been away from your kids that long. My boys looked like they had grown inches! I'd been seeing them on the computer screen via skype for 5 long weeks, and to finally wrap my arms around them.... it was wonderful! And to reunite with my husband, for Alina to be seeing Papa again!
(next two pictures taken by the amazing Melissa Fryckman of Melissa Fryckman photography. My BFF who made the trek to the airport to capture these moments for us! <3)





Today...

.... our girl is growing and thriving! When we got home she was 26lbs and 36" tall. Today she is 28lbs! Her faced has filled out some, she is using the potty full time, and is picking up English faster than we could have ever imagined. She's been given a clean bill of health from our pediatrician, has had her eyes examined and now sports a cute tiny pair of glasses, and has her intake appointment at Gillette childrens hospital cerebral palsy center in January!


Two months ago Alina couldn't bear much weight on her legs, much less take deliberate steps. Today she walks very well holding only one hand, or pushing her doll stroller. She prefers to walk instead of riding or being held, and will walk up and down the hallway holding the wall. Her legs are strong, her steps intentional. I can't wait to see how quickly she gets going once she gets the PT and bracing/shoes/inserts she needs! She has motivation on her side, she WANTS to walk, she WANTS to do things herself.

In only two short months many lives have changed. All for the better. We are so blessed to have Alina as our daughter. Watching her grow and thrive, learn new things, see everything with such a fresh outlook! Everything is fascinating to her! Watching her outside all bundled up rolling around in the snow (and I was certain that somewhere in UA a nanny fainted because she was rolling around in the snow) and seeing her delight at being pulled in the sled and sliding down the hill on her belly. :) Its amazing what two short months can do.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Spectacular spectacles!

Its official, I now have two kids in glasses. Something I was not looking forward to because I know how hard Al is on his glasses.... and he got his at age 5. Alina is only 3.... and she's certainly not a dainty gentle girl. :)

She has kept them on really well all evening and she keeps pointing to them and saying 'Alina's glasses' which sounds like 'Nina's gashish'. Then points to Al and says 'Nanner's gashish' and then mine saying 'mamas gashish'. :)

Hopefully they help keep her one eye straight. The eye doctor didn't even classify her eye as lazy or as strabismus! She thinks the correction for the farsightedness and astigmatism from glasses will help. We have another appointment in 6wks for a recheck to make sure the prescrip is correct and she's not crossing.





Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful

We have so much to be thankful for. A nice house, comfy beds, plenty of food, friends, and our family. As I type this, baby girl is asleep. Little boy and dad are snuggling on the couch with a video, and big boy is hanging out watching too. I'm looking outside and the very cold blustery day, but the sun is shining and the snow is beautiful. We have nowhere to go today. We spent the day together, I made a big meal and we invited our neighbor lady over so she didn't spend the day alone. Food was good, it was fun to watch Alina eat and eat. And eat. And then enjoy her little pumpkin bite. :) And now everyone is resting, and I'm thankful.


Thankful for quiet moments between brothers. Even if electronics are involved sometimes. :)



Thankful for my husband. <3


Thankful for big boys




Thankful for silly little girls



Thankful for friends that help silly little girls learn how to play



Thankful for JoAnn fabrics flyers. Even if read upside down. :)


We also spent last Saturday night with friends and a little friendly rivalry. the pics above are from that night, when the Nebraska Cornhuskers battled the Texas Aggies in college football. Good friends, good food, and a good game. The Aggies won. Much to the delight of all my boys, and the grumblings of all the other boys. Hehe.

So much to be thankful for. I hope everyone of you is just as thankful!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Family pictures

I finally wrangled my family past a washcloth, into decent clothes and into the basement studio for some pictures! I wasn't sure what Alina would think of the timer or my remote but she was very amused by the flashing light and beep. :)


Yes, thank you. I KNOW they are super cute! :)


My big kid!


My little big kid!


My baby!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

She must think we are crazy

I mean, she went from never going anywhere but around and around the baby house in a stroller, to jet setting halfway across the world, and then going somewhere almost daily! We got home just two days before Halloween, and then we went to Church, and to the grocery store, Target, the OUTLET MALL! We attended a Veteran's Day parade, visited friends, rode bike. She must be thinking we are totally crazy!

But she is taking it all in stride. I'm amazed daily that she is adjusting so well to her new life. She's even getting used to her car seat, even though I bribe her with a snack trap of Cheerio's almost every car ride. :) Whatever works, eh?

I've started shopping for Christmas. If anyone has any idea's of what a 3yr old girl would like, I will take 'em! I thought maybe a water/sensory table would be great for her. I know the boys always liked playing with dried beans, rice, etc, and I think with her not walking that a sturdy water/sensory table would be great. I also ordered a cool good quality metal kid sized shopping cart. The kids all love them.

In other news, Alina stood by herself today! In the middle of the floor, with nothing to hold onto! We start our first round of appointments on Monday, can't wait to get this girl going. She's so motivated to get going. I'm sure soon she will be running circles around me. Instead of crawling circles around me! :)


Have you ever been this tired?


Maybe this tired?


It turns out Alina likes to wander at bedtime. If we lay with her she wants to play, so we snuggle and then let her be. She gets out of bed sometimes, and then she can't climb back in, so she gets in the rocker. Doesn't she looks so comfy? i'm convinced this girl would be happy sleeping in a shoebox the way she rolls her little body into a ball while sleeping!

Her first ride in the bike trailer. She thought it was so funny, and kept pointing out my butt on the seat in front of her. Always a confidence booster to hear 'mamas butt! Mamas butt!' the entire bike ride.


First snow! It was beautiful on the trees!


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Busy busy!

Okay okay! I will post! I know I always hated it when people returned home from their trips and the dropped off the face of the blogging planet! I ALWAYS wanted to see new pictures, hear updates, etc. I told myself I wouldnt' do that, but here I am, a week between posts and getting pestered to post an update and MORE PICTURES! :)

Thing are busy here, but we are all good. Alina is, in the last two days, picking up English super fast. Unless she is in trouble I only speak English to her, and unless she has an attitude or is tired, she will say things in English. Yes and no is still 'da and nyet', but thats fine. :)

She somehow picked up the nickname 'Nina'. When you ask her name, she says 'Alina' but it sounds like 'Nina', and it just stuck.

Tonight dad brought home a box of clothes from a friend he works with, and she promptly picked out a jean jacket with fluffy puffy wrists and collar, and a little swimsuit skirt. She was FANCY. :) And quite proud of her getup.

When we go shopping, she grabs random things and says 'oh cute!' and throws it in the cart. I think we shop too much. :)

The boys are doing great. Alexander had no problem adjusting. He's done the big brother thing for 5yrs and he's good at it. I'm so proud of how mature he is. Anthony, however, had a rough week. He felt his dethroning from baby status and made sure we all knew he was feeling dethroned. The last few days have been better, we are just really reassuring him, lots of snuggles and lots of play time. Thankfully Alina takes a 2hr nap in the afternoons so Anth and I can spend that time together.

Next week we start on appointments for Alina. Pediatrician and eye doctor all in one day, then we will branch out into PT, ortho, dentist, and early intervention for speech therapy, and some oral issues she has (she's a thumb sucker and her mouth is shaped because of it.)

Onto some pictures! :)

So pretty!


She can climb this one on her own! The big wooden one is too big still.


This outfit was a gift from a sweet friend. <3 Dad was very pleased!


Pre-meal tantrum. She doesn't understand that here food doesn't just appear before her like at the baby house.


What a life!


Alina's new BFF, Anara! The two cutest EE girls ever!


All three of our babies! <3 <3