"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

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Well hi!

Not much time to update, but Anna is wonderful! She is eating and sleeping well, and she's very VERY active! She had her first pediatrics appointment last week and she is 28" tall and 16lbs! She's 0% for everything, lol! But she will grow and has already grown! She has an intake appointment at pediatric cardiology next week, and has PT and OT evals in the next week as well. She's a busy girl. Which means I'm a busy mom. :)

I like my car seat now!

Escape artist!

I'm 16 months old!

Thats as good as it gets with four!

This cracks me up every time I look at it. This was just a few days home, and she was clearly wondering what she had gotten herself into.

Stinker!

What! I'm only destroying the boys' lego creations!

Big sister got a haircut! Doesn't she look adorable!

I'm loving life!

Friday, November 16, 2012

And then there were six....

We are home, safe and sound, and somewhat sane. :) Flights went well and Anna Polina was a trooper the entire travel time. She flipped out a bit in her car seat when we got back, but she ended up sleeping a bit too. We had dinner at home, played and went to bed. And the best part? She slept from 9pm until 6:45am. We all woke up feeling pretty good! :)

Thank you for all of your prayers, well wishes and help during this entire journey. We are thrilled to be home with our new little lovie and appreciate everything!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Introducing!

Miss Anna Polina! She is 15 months old and weighs in at a whopping 14lbs!

We are all doing well. Tired, and kind of ready to go home, but otherwise good. Anna is doing very well for just busting out of the orphanage. She is sleeping well (but she's really restless and kind of a bed hog!) and she is eating ok. She really likes the bottle and formula, so I'm glad I packed enough!

She's a wild one! We didn't get to see this during our visits at the baby house.... we didn't really put her down much for fear of making someone mad that she was on the floor. But she's able to army crawl, and she can pull to standing and side step! Pretty impressive! She's also a bit ornery.... doesn't want me to put her down at all or be out of her sight even for a second. She screams her head off when she's laid down to be changed. I'm sure the neighbors appreciate that. :)

Al is a rock star! He has been such an amazing help and I'm so glad he's here. I had these thoughts of 'maybe I shouldn't have brought him' about halfway through the long flight, but he's doing very well and is so helpful. He carries groceries, brings me things, tries to entertain Anna (she wants nothing to do with anyone but me) and is really great company.

Here are a few pictures of the last few days. We'll be here in region until tomorrow, then back to the big city for the Embassy to pick up her visa, then home!!
She had just woke up from her nap and the nanny handed her out to me.

Being tourists!

Big brother is working hard to get me to like him!


Hello Beautiful!

I'm a gal on the go!

All dressed and ready to go!

We're outta here!

Helping me get the internet working.

Add caption

Al hanging out at our first apartment

Outside Anna's baby room door

I love my puffs!

There's that big brother bribing me again!



Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Story of Trip 1

If you aren't my Facebook friend, then I apologize for keeping you in the dark a bit. And even my FB friends didn't get a ton of details on our first trip, but they did get more pictures. :)

As you all know, the little one we were hoping to adopt became unavailable due to paperwork and the special needs list in her country. We were left reeling and not knowing how exactly to proceed, but we knew that we had to leave in a few days, and that there was a child there for us, we just had to go find her. We were tossed quite far outside our comfort zones, but were ready to step off the cliff of faith and continue this journey.

We arrived in the big city a day before our appointment, so we had some time to rest and eat, walk around, and try to relax. The day of our appointment, we were up early and very nervous and anxious. We were warned that we might not find a referral, that our paperwork wasn't extensive enough and that we had to be realistic. We were well prepared, we were ready.

The appointment went well, with our facilitator really working hard to help the lady at the office find referrals. They called and double checked info, found profiles and talked us through a lot of diagnosis. In the end, there were a few wonderful little girls that fit our homestudy. All were beautiful and of course all worth of a home, love and a chance. That was perhaps the hardest part of this journey so far. We had to choose. We were urged to take our time and talk it over. Staring at the little faces, one little one stood out to us. We couldn't really explain it, but we asked for her.

Lots of calls and talking and waiting later, we were signing to accept her referral! The next day we picked it up and then we got on the overnight train to her region. The next morning we were greeted off the train by our facilitator and we were off running. We went to the social workers office and some paperwork there, then off to the baby house! We met the director and the doctor, got some more information and talked about her health and the last year she's had at the baby house, and then suddenly she came up the stairs before us! She took our breath away, so tiny and absolutely perfect. And of course she wanted not a thing to do with us! But the nanny handed her over to me anyway. She was of course scared, there were at least 10 people standing there looking at her and she's suddenly in the arms of a total stranger! She was ok for a few minutes, then started to cry and the nanny took her back and they left. And we were asked if we wanted to adopt her! Of course, we said yes!

More paperwork, running around, and we found ourselves at our apartment late that afternoon. It was quite the day! The next few days were filled with exploring the city, visiting our baby girl, and just enjoying the country we've come to love. Another family joined us in region a few days later and we found a great Irish pub that had an English menu and wonderful food! We also found the market and did a little shopping. The only thing we were unable to find is souveniers! But thanks to my friend I have a few leads for that on our second trip. ;)

We were told of our court date just a few days before. We were able to prepare and write up our little speech, get our paperwork together, etc. And court went well! We were really pleased with our timeline, but we had to say goodbye to babygirl. I dreaded it. She was already crying at the end of our visits and not wanting to go back. We also knew this visit would be short since we had to get to the airport. We played for about 45mins and then took her back into her room. The nannies knew we were leaving (we asked our facilitator to tell them so they knew we'd be back!) and they told us it was ok, only two weeks, and asked her name. :) They all really seem to care for her and she is well taken care of. Of course I cried, and they patted my shoulder and smiled, and they consoled a crying babygirl and told me they'd take care of her. And we had to go. :(

WE got to the airport and after many hours of traveling, arrived home to three very anxious kids standing at the window waiting for us! :) We missed them so much, it was great to be home and be able to put them to bed.

So now we are counting down the days until Al and I can return and bust babygirl out of the baby house. When that happens, I will bombard you all with pictures!
Thank you for all of your prayers and good thoughts for our trip. Please continue..... we will be back there in 1.5wks and then home about a week after that. It can't come fast enough, I left my mama heart there and I miss her so much!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Busy week!

We are completely smitten with our baby girl. I promise to share more pictures soon, but since I kept the blog open this time I can't share much yet. Court is early this week and then we are headed home for the wait. Its going to be really hard to leave her. She smiles and practically leaps out of her nanny's arms when we come to visit, and she cries when we have to bring her back. I'm sure she will be confused as to why we aren't coming to our daily visits for  a couple weeks.

We are doing well. We've met up with another couple here a few times, been out to eat, hit the local central market and we really love being back in this country.

Please pray that everything continues to go smoothly. Also keep Alina in your prayers, she's having a rough couple of days and she's really anticipating us coming home. The boys seems to be doing great.... this is like old news to them. :)

Thank you to everyone who is thinking about us and praying for us.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Yes, we are here!

We made it.... it was a long day of traveling, three flights and lots of achy muscles from sitting on the planes, but we are here. We explored some yesterday and had some dinner, and slept. Sweet lovely sleep in a bed. :) We had our appointment this morning and it went well. Yes, we have a referral and will pick it up tomorrow and meet her on Friday. I will share more details as I can, but we appreciate all your prayers and support. It has been quite a ride for this adoption, and we pray things smooth out from here.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

And we are waiting for the girl. Again.

The sweet little one we were hoping to adopt is no longer available. Again. Her special need was Hepatitis C, and through unknown circumstances with the special needs list changing in her country that allows children under age 5 to be adopted, she was re-tested and she no longer has the Hep C antibodies. This means she is HEALTHY. This is AMAZING for her, she can live her life without worrying about medications or liver damage or anything else. But with this great news comes the bad... she is now not able to be adopted internationally until she is 5yrs old.

And that leaves us back at the drawing board. Again. If you've been reading here for a while, you will know that the first little one we set out to adopt this time around was adopted in country. It was easier to let her go, knowing how loved she is and that she has a family who cares greatly for her. This time its different. We don't know how to go on knowing that little 'A' will be waiting in an orphanage for 3 more years unless she is adopted domestically, which we hope and pray happens.

So where are we now? Well, we leave in a week. So we are traveling blind. God has thrown us well outside our comfort zone twice now, this time a lot farther than we know how to deal with. But we are trusting that He has the perfect plan for us. He knows what this is all about. He knows where we are supposed to be.

One thing is for sure, we know there is another child out there for us, and we are going to go find her. Please pray that our travels are smooth and that we find the sweet one meant to be ours.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

ONLY FIVE DAYS!!

There are only FIVE DAYS left in this giveaway! Michelle's FSP has raised a ton, and ours has gone up, too! If you want to donate directly, the box just to the right of this post is how you can do that. We appreciate every dollar.

We leave in under two weeks! Its sneaking up on us so fast!

So go! Donate to our FSP via the little box to the right, or go HERE and donate to be entered into the giveaway!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Still going!

We got our travel date, and we leave in just three weeks. There is a pretty awesome giveaway HERE that benefits my friends family, and also our family! You will get double entries if you donate to both! We sure could use the help, with replacing the hot water heater, two car repairs and repairing the AC in the last few weeks. And I know my friend is working triple time to get to her boys before the shutdown in their country.

Three weeks......

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Its a love story!

So as many of you know, last year all the awesome 'babyhouse 19' mama's banded together and send Christmas back to those left behind. One of us had the idea and all our craziness worked in our favor to get it all together in a month.

Well, now we are banding together again. My amazing friend MICHELLE has three sweet ones from Alina's old baby house (that we refer to as '19'), and while there met two little boys, who at the time had a family coming for them. Michelle and her husband witnessed these two boys on transfer day. The day they were pulled from their lives at the baby house and driven to an older child orphanage. It was heart wrenching, but they were able to rest a little easier knowing the boys had a family coming.

Then, the family backed out for unknown reasons. The boys were transferred to another facility that isn't so great, and last month another mom was there and witnessed their lives. She just happens to be another 19 mom, and with that, Michelle and her husband have stepped out in faith to bring these two sweet ones home.

Its truly a love story, and they are working fast to make it a happy ending. And here is where you come in! My friend JENNIFER cooked up quite the giveaway! Michelle and her husband are working double, triple time to get their paperwork done before the country closes its doors to new dossier's for the Winter. That means they need to get everything done, start to finish in two months. It CAN be done, it WILL be done, but you all know what really stands in the way......

So GO! Donate! Win some cool prizes and watch the love story unfold into a happy ending!
Click here-
A Real Life Love Story GIVEAWAY!!!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Where does the time go?

I'm certain  I ask this question every year. As the kids gear up for school and people ask 'What grade are they going into?' and I answer... this year '5th grade, first grade and preschool' and my brain short circuits and I pause; are my kids REALLY that old? Where has the time gone? How has my chubby little baby grown to a 5th grader who is starting band and excells in every subject? How is it possible my sweet baby boy is in FIRST GRADE, making friends crazy fast and reading chapter books like no tomorrow? And my little girl! Such a puny little thing when she came home, so helpless and small, walking herself out to the bus and going to preschool four afternoons a week, talking non.stop. about her friends and her teachers and school and anything else that jumps into that fantastic brain of hers! And I anticipate how our little one will fit into this funky little family we have created. She will be the baby! We will have four afternoons a week alone, just the two of us. What a marvelous thing... so much time to spend together, just the two of us. We cannot get her home fast enough.

Here are a few first day of school pictures. I just can't believe how grown they are!



Tuesday, September 4, 2012

World Cerebral Palsy Day

Today is World Cerebral Palsy Day! Three years ago, I knew next to nothing about Cerebral Palsy. In my ignorant mind, CP was completely debilitating. Wheelchairs and non verbal and downright scary. I didn't know what really caused it, nor did I pay much attention to treatments and therapies and AFO's and the people themselves who were affected by CP.

Then, I seen this-




And I also seen this next to her picture-
"Cerebral Palsy, working on her walking!'
And I started overworking Google. I read blogs by parents of children with CP. I bookmarked pages and poured over statistics and information for hours. And then, I casually left the page with her picture and info on it up on my laptop, strategically placed on the counter where hubby would see it. He walked in that night, looked at her pic and said 'she's cute, whats her story?'

It was all downhill from there. We knew she was ours, and I still cant' look at this picture without smiling and remembering how I just KNEW. We were very hesitant about the Cerebral palsy, but it was our own ignorance. Clearly she could sit up and smile and who could say she wasn't seriously cute! So we jumped.

And we learned. We met our girl on October 1st, 2010. I will never forget how my heart sank when the nanny stood her up and she was so weak and bent over, she had no idea how to stand up on her own legs and had zero balance. But when I sat down next to her and she leaned over and smiled at me, I said 'hi', and she said 'hi' right back to me. The next 4 weeks were spent getting to know our girl in an environment that was not conductive to actually bonding and teaching. We had to 'turn her in' every day after our visits. This was clearly affecting her. We made progress, but it was slow.

Fast forward two (!!) years and lots of physical therapy, going to school, and most importantly, being loved unconditionally by a family, our girl is pure sunshine! Is Cerebral Palsy hard? Of course. There are days that I just want to scream! I want her to walk and run and roll in the grass and then be able to get back up after. She has come so far..... she can walk on her own! She can get up off the floor on her own in two different ways! She's talking non.stop. and learning so fast, things are really clicking for her. But there are days where I long for her to be like her peers physically.

I watch her today, wearing her backpack around because she starts preschool this afternoon (her second year in this program, we love it!) and talking non stop about her friends and school and the bus and painting and books and circle time and PT and the teachers (by name!) and I know she will be ok. She is loved. And that has made all the difference.

(click the image below to read other blogs celebrating World Cerebral Palsy Day today, and link up yourself if you are a blogger!)
 Stumbo Family Story

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Busy busy busy

Our Facebook auction is still active! It closes on the 24th at noon! See the post below this one for a link! Many items still have low bids on them! Everything is handmade and makes great gifts.

Things are moving right along... our dossier has been submitted and we are waiting for a travel date. It looks like we will be on almost the exact same timeline as Alina's adoption! Which is perfect, we loved it there in October! The weather was perfect and we were free to explore without sweating to death or freezing!

The kids are gearing up for school. Al will be in 5th grade, Anth in 1st, and Alina in pre-k. School supplies are bought, backpacks filled and snacks bagged to drop off at open house. Al's trombone should be at school... he's starting band this year and is really excited about it! Anth starts Cub Scouts this year, and Alina... well she's just super excited to see her friends and teachers again. And the bus. She loves the bus. Mostly our bus driver. :) But we all love her.

We've had a very relaxing summer. Not super busy... it was so hot for so long that we didn't do much but toss the kids in the pool and keep entertained indoors. Now that its cooled off, we are back out riding bike, on walks, exploring and hitting parks to keep busy. School starts in just a couple weeks!


Early morning shenanigans while camping

The river was gorgeous and so calm

Hiking

The boys love St Croix
Mr Fancy jumps

She loves him.

Making a bear (or kitty!) for the baby

Welcome home sweet Malia!

Off road walker

Big brother helping her up the hill

Canoe

Ice cream. Or cheese. :)

Happy to be back on her bike after surgery



Little fishy

Being a tourist?


After surgery (new purse!)

My brothers sent me a balloon and bear!