"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, January 31, 2011

In three months...

...our daughter has learned-

to stand on her own
to color and draw
to sit steadily with her legs criss crossed
to walk steadily with only very little support
that M&M's truly are the best treat ever
to stop sucking her thumb
to speak English
to understand English
to use the potty full time
to wake up dry in the morning
to scold her brothers
that she's a girly girl with a dark side
to wrap daddy around her finger
to shop like a pro
to trust
and what it feels like to be loved unconditionally, beyond measure.

Happy 3 months home, Alina. You are beautiful!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pinewood Derby!

Alexander is a part of Cub Scouts and every Winter they have a Pinewood Derby. Last year he made a Nascar, this year he made a school bus! He did such a great job on the car itself with sanding, painting and details. He won two out of three of his races... that bus was FAST!

All the cars!

Al's car is the school bus!

The boys were totally engrossed!

Assistant Cub Master Dad was the announcer!

Anthony and Alina were taking a snack break

After the races

And just because its funny, this is what happens when you give a 3yr old stickers for the first time. I put them in her backpack to bring with as an activity in case she was really bored at the races, and she took it upon herself to use them before we left. :) I was happy she could get them off the sheet by herself, that takes some dexterity!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cast on!

Alina did really well with getting the casts on. A little complaint when they were stretching her right foot, which is the tightest and moves the least, but nothing like I was expecting. Once again she proved that she is a tough chick and can roll with it.

When she got the choice of colors, I expected her to pick red or orange, something like that. Oh no, she grabbed the pink and the purple and wouldn't let either go. The nurse told her she could have one leg purple and one leg pink and that was pretty exciting for her.

So for two weeks she's the proud owner of one hot pink leg and one purple leg. She has a little bootie sock that goes over her toes and some walking boots because the casts are slippery and they put them on like walking casts so she can still get around. Overall she's doing well, although since we've been home she's been asking me to take them off. I think she thinks they are like her AFO's that come off at bedtime.

Whats with the gloves? She was fascinated by the gloves the nurses that cast her had on, so they gave her a pair and she wore them the entire visit, and for the rest of the day. I had her leave them in the car when we went into the restaurant to eat and when we got back in the car she quickly asked for her gloves and put them back on. Weirdo. :)

In other news, the boys both have strep. Ugh. I got a call yesterday morning when I was coming home from Alina's PT that Al was in the nurses office with a fever and sore throat. :( So off to pick him up and on the way I made him a doctors appt and they were able to see him right away. he tested positive for strep throat so he's on his first ever antibiotic. I guess making is 8.5yrs without antibiotics is pretty good.

Of course then last night Anthony started in with whining and then he had a fever and his throat hurt. It was bedtime so I gave him mo trin and this morning called in an appt for him and Alina. Figured I'd get it all taken care of in one shot since she said her ears hurt. Well Anth tested positive for strep, Alina tested negative and didn't show signs of any illness like an ear infection either. Thank God! So both boys are on their first ever antibiotics. Thankfully they are liquids and only taken once a day for five days. Al took the first dose last night and was already feeling better. Hopefully it ends there. Although my friend's kids were here on Monday and now one of her little ones are sick.... so praying the other three stay healthy too!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Blogging from the bathroom

No really, I am. You see tomorrow Alina gets casts put on her legs and feet and will be unable to enjoy her nightly swim in the bathtub, so tonight I'm sitting on the floor of the bathroom while she plays away. Its been over 1/2 hour and she shows no sign of being ready to get out yet. :)

See these two pictures below? Just a little comparison. The first one was taken the Sunday after we arrived home with Alina from Ukraine.

This second one was last Sunday, almost 3mos later. What a huge change in our girl! She looks so much older! and her hair has really grown!

She doesn't even look like the same little girl! And really, she's not. She's now opinionated, a little bossy (ok I'm being nice, she's alot bossy), and she's talking non.stop. Seriously she's like a parrot! She repeats and retains everything she hears. I don't have to say hardly anything in Russian to her anymore. Which has been bad, I've lost almost all I learned!

Here is another comparison. This was taken the afternoon of our first visit with Alina in Ukraine. Oct 1st, 2010. The second was taken the day of her baptism this last Sunday, Jan 16th 2011.

She just looks so grown up compared to those first few days we were with her. All good changes, more amazing every day!

(BTW its now been an hour and she's still in the bathtub. Oh how I'm going to hate tomorrow night when she realizes she can't take a bath. :( poor kiddo!)

Monday, January 17, 2011

A beautiful baptism

Baptism's are always beautiful. Watching a family give their child to God and knowing what that means... they are always so special to witness!

Alina was baptized on Sunday. We explained to her what was going to happen and she kept saying 'Pastor put water hair?' and continued with that until Pastor finally DID put water on her head. :) She looked like the princess she is and did so well. When people came up to us after the service and told her and us 'congratulations' she would smile and say 'tank oo much!' (thank you very much)

After service we went and ate at a local bakery/restaurant. Our wonderful friends and my mom and step dad were able to attend the service and have lunch with us after. It was a beautiful baptism.

All dressed and ready to go!

Pastor, one of Alina's Godmothers, Susie, and us

A few good family pics!

Grandma and Grandpa

All pretty in her dress and fancy shoes. :)

And, proving that she is in fact my daughter, after we got home she got upstairs and promptly took the dress off exclaiming 'ugh!' when she tossed it aside. :)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Are you really here?

Sometimes I just sit and stare at Alina. To make sure she's really here. Our time in Ukraine seems like such a blur! Like it was so long ago when it was really only 3mos ago. Time has gone by so fast. I sometimes look at her in disbelief! She was a picture for such a long time. A longing in our hearts and in our minds, and now she's here, like she's always been here. She catches me looking at her and will smile and say 'Hi Mama!'

The honeymoon is for sure over! She has totally realized she is a 3yr old girl and makes it known! I cannot believe how fast she is picking up English. In the car the other day I was going into the turn lane and hit the end of a rumble strip, and she hollered 'Anthony farted!' We all had a good laugh about that. She has meltdowns over goofy things just like any 3yr old, and understands most of what we say to her now and is starting to answer appropriately instead of just saying 'Da' to everything. She spilled her water cup yesterday and was whining, so I asked her what happened and she said 'oops water' and I said 'well, go get a towel and wipe it up!' and she went right over to the drawer, grabbed a washcloth and cleaned up the mess. She certainly understands everything!

We had an appointment at Gillette childrens Hospital last week and it went very well! They took an x-ray of her hips to make sure everything was developing properly there, and after getting a history and asking alot of questions they want to do an MRI of her head to see where the brain damage is, how much, etc to get a better gauge of her CP. She has what is called spastic diplegia, which is the most common form of CP and directly relates to her prematurity at birth.

Also in the next week or two she will have casts put on her legs from the knee down to stretch the muscles and tendons in her ankles so they bend properly. Right now they are so tight from not being worked since birth, they have to be forced to stretch and casting is how thats done. The first casts would be on for two weeks and then the doctor will judge when those come off is she needs another 2wks of casting. This is called serial casting and is used for CP, club foot, arthrogryposis, etc. The downside is the girl LOVES her baths and with casts on her feet thats not possible. It should make for an interesting two weeks for a child who asks for 'bath?' two seconds after she finishes dinner!

On Sunday the 16th Alina will be baptized! Its also appropriately 'Russian Sunday' at our Church as they sponsor a pastor and his wife/family in Russia, and they will be here on the 16th! Choosing Godparents doesn't get any easier as you have more children!

But for now I will leave you with a cute picture of our girl, who is growing and blossoming before our eyes!

"Not flesh of my flesh,
Nor bone of my bone,
but still miraculously my own.
Never forget for a single minute,
you didn't grow under my heart, child,
you grew in it."

Saturday, January 1, 2011

AFO's and snow!

I know, my titles get catchier by the day. Although I'm pretty sure nobody is reading anymore so it doesn't matter! HAHA!

Alina got her new AFO's last week! At first she was really excited about them, exlaiming 'oooh pretty boots!' when we first got them on. By the time we got home she was totally over it, and the next morning when we put them on to go to PT she was not having it. Insert big tissy on the floor.

She's doing better with them now though. She will willingly put them on. But these may have something to do with it.

Yep, thems some gaudy light up shoes. She loves them! We of course had to buy new shoes since she only wears a size 7 and the AFO's make her need a size 8/9.

A little modeling

Strike a pose Neens!

Her hair is getting so long! I can easily put it up into pigtails now, and even these cute little low piggies! i'm so happy she has fast growing hair!

We've had quite a few meltdowns lately, but she's pretty easily calmed once she realizes she's ok. Sometimes we just have to roll our eyes when she freaks out over silly things like wanting a fork instead of a spoon, or Dad taking her to the potty instead of mom, but its all things we need to work though.

We've had a few super nice days to play in the snow! by super nice I mean in the 30's! UNHEARD of in MN in December!

Handicap schmandicap! I will do whatever my brothers do. Even crawl through 4ft of snow to do it!

She made it to the fort!

Here he was showing me how he could stand on top of the snow and itwas only to his knees!

Then he fell through. It was up to his waist! (he was leaned over trying to get out. Me being the great mom that I am took pictures instead of helping him. But hey, I didn't have boots on! LOL!)

And because he's cute. :)