"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

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween is over.... time to Christmas shop!

We had a great Halloween! Big A doesn't dress up anymore, he has enjoyed handing out candy for the last few years. Anth was a wolf again, Alina was an astronaut, and Anna was a pirate!

And I was only partially kidding about Christmas shopping.... my Etsy shop is open and taking orders for Christmas! I have six ready to ship dolls at special prices, and custom listings as well if you would like to order a specific doll. I can make them to look like your favorite kid, your kids favorite characters, or just about anything!

This little cutie has long red braids and green eyes! She's so sweet!

This cutie patootie has black hair and little curly pigtails, and black eyes! She's adorable!

There are many more, and also the custom listings. I can embroider your childs name, birth date or special day on the dolls for no charge!
Click here to visit my Etsy shop!!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Falling for Fall

The kids are out of school for MEA weekend..... and we've had a couple lazy days hanging out together. While I had grand hopes of sleeping in.... the kids were all up both days before 7am. :)

But we did get some nice weather and headed out for a couple pictures..

So funny! Al is being good, Anth is bored cheesing, Alina is rolling her eyes and Anna is being her typical clown self.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Walking progress, 6 months post rhizotomy

A is now 6 months post SDR (Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy). Every day the changes in her amaze me. She's always been independent, but she can easily do things with ease now, instead of struggling with even the simplest tasks because of poor balance.

One thing that has changed dramatically for her is her walking. Before the rhizotomy, she could walk independently, however her walking was awful. She crouched, her knees touched, her feet turned all the way in, her arms were up in high guard and her back bowed/belly stuck out for balance, and she just couldn't support herself well. She used her walker most of the time, or she preferred to crawl at home.

Last week at therapy she leaned forward and rested on the edge of the ball pit, and was throwing balls back in. She then pushed herself back and stood upright with no assistance and had zero problems with moving herself back upright and standing. It was incredible!

This first video is Alina's gait lab nearly two years ago. Her walking was pretty much the same right before surgery.

These two are from this weekend.... walking with her crutches and 'off roading' with them. 

 She had her 6 month follow up appointment today with ortho and PT. Both are impressed with how well she is doing and think she looks great! Pretty much said keep doing what we were doing and see you in a few months!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Back to school!

What a glorious time of year! :) I'm joking. Kind of. The kids all started back to school last week, and thankfully they all enjoy school and were looking forward to starting.

Al is in 6th grade this year. I still cannot believe he's that old. This is his first year in the middle school. He's still as confident as ever, and I know he'll do just as well in 6th grade as he has in the last 5.

Anth is in 2nd grade. This is his last year in the primary! He's my social guy and came home telling me about the new friends he made the first day. His teacher was impressed with his reading skills, and I love to watch him devour books and excitedly tell us all about them.

Alina started Kindergarten! Talk about being excited! This girl couldn't wait! Its been a bit tricky to get her therapies all figured out since she's in school full time now, but I think we have it. She's only missing a few minutes of school two days a week, the rest they got before or after school! So far, she loves school and is thriving. She's working really hard on her forearm crutches and doing very well with therapy.

Here is an obligatory first day of school pic. Anna carried her shoes around and was pretty miffed she wasn't able to get on the bus too. But she got over it when she realized she had mom all to herself all day. :)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Fall is closing in fast

I can't say I'm disappointed... Fall is my favorite time of year. The air is crisp and clean, the leaves are beautiful and there is just something about Fall that 'resets' me.

Its been a while since I've posted. Anna celebrated her 2nd birthday the end of July. She wasn't quite sure what to think, but she was quite pleased with the cake and gifts.

The first week of August we had the pleasure of spending a long weekend with fellow adoptive families that have adopted from Alina's orphanage! It was incredible to see the kids all together again, just being kids. Running around, laughing, eating, swimming and talking. And to sit and have fellowship with all the moms that night.. there are no words! We laughed, we cried, we joked and told stories and all understood each other in everything we were going through. It was truly amazing.

All these sweeties used to reside in the same orphanage!

Then we tossed in the other two Ukrainians from other regions.

A truly amazing bunch of women.

Then we spent time being tourists in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, TN. Its a beautiful area and we would love to go back again!

We went to the TN Air Museum

a real cockpit

who doesn't love a candy store
The summer has flown by. With therapies for Alina every day, other appointments to prepare for school and trying to fit in some fun as well, we find ourselves at the end of August and school just around the corner. Big A is going into 6th grade, Middle A going into 2nd grade, Little A into Kindergarten, and baby A will be the lonely only at home!

We are trying to figure out some therapy times for Alina because she will be in school full time. She's still at 3 days a week physical therapy post surgery, and she also has the added fun of vision therapy now too. She's a busy girl but continues to make huge gains physically after surgery. She's so much stronger! She's starting to work with forearm crutches in therapy. They aren't her favorite but its the next step for her.

I can't wait for the Fall weather. Fall also makes me reminisce and miss Ukraine. Both our trips were in the Fall and the tiny bit of crispness in the air in the mornings makes me homesick for Ukraine. We've been spending a lot of time looking over pictures and video's, talking a lot about the girls' birthplaces and our time there.

All in all, we are doing very well. We are trying to enjoy every single day!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


I'm watching this girl. Watching her as she changes every day. Watching her as she easily does something that was so difficult before..... watching her expressions as she accomplishes a task with ease. And I'm amazed.

This is Alina HEEL TO TOE walking three months after selective dorsal rhizotomy. (blogger wont' upload the video I want to use, so this one is not as good. :/)

Here is a post that shows her walking progression a little over a year ago.
Walking progression

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


If you are arriving from 'No Great Joy Mom' blog, welcome!

Our girls both have Cerebral Palsy, but each is affected very differently!

Alina came home from Ukraine in 2010 at age 3.5. She has spastic diplegia cerebral palsy. This means it affects her legs. She was very weak and had a hard time even sitting up properly. She had zero trunk strength and hadn't been encouraged to get up and about. We started physical therapy with her right away and they were also very proactive. Lots of stretching and activities later, she was much stronger, could move her body more easily and was even getting up and walking! We found out in 2012 that she also had hydrocephalus, and she has had two brain surgeries to help correct that. In April 2013, Alina underwent a Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy at Gillette Childrens in St Paul. She is really progressing fast and we are so proud of her hard work! Important dates to look up for Alina's adoption and story (if you want to read her story)- September and October 2010, Summer 2012, April 2013 through present.

Anna came home from Ukraine in 2012 at age 15 months. She has left hemispheric cerebral palsy. This means it affects her left side. Mostly her left shoulder and arm, but also her left leg. When we met Anna, she was the size of a 5 month old. She was tiny and weak and needed to be held up to sit. Fast forward a few months home and she was walking and all over the place! Anna also started therapy soon after coming home and progressed very fast in large motor. She will 'graduate' from PT soon, but will continue OT for her arm.  Important dates to look up for Alina's adoption and story (if you want to read her story!) October and November 2012 through present.


We complained about the rain and cool temps, and Mother nature heard us. It has been hot and humid for the last few weeks and the kids are either indoors or in the pool! We took a day trip up to Duluth and just hung around, walked and looked and threw rocks, had some lunch and dinner. It was a very fun relaxing day.

Posing on an anchor in front of the lighthouse

Throwing rocks into Lake Superior

We are easily pleased. :)

Another anchor

Anth touching the top of the lighthouse.

Add caption

She was in heaven! She loved throwing rocks!

We got to see this huge ship leave the harbor. It was almost as long as the canal! 

Oh the drama!! All she wanted to do was throw rocks!

Alina is really working hard on her standing and walking. She's so steady now! Before surgery she would tense up her legs and be grasping for something to hold onto at all times. Now she moves her arms and looks and dances with ease! The difference is astounding, every single day!
I have to get a new walking video!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Two months post-op

Summer has finally found us, and while we are very busy running back and forth to PT every day for Alina (and PT and OT for Anna twice a week), we are trying to enjoy the warm weather that has finally arrived! Our pool is all set up and the solar cover has done its job of turning our frigid well water into the kids' favorite activity! The boys have been on a few Cub Scout/Boy Scout adventures, Alina is in summer school a few mornings a week, and Anna.... she's just Anna!

Alina is really doing well in PT. She's getting so strong, she's able to half kneel all by herself, knee walk and keep her balance across the house. She gets on her bike and goes like crazy! Before surgery, her feet had to be hooked to the pedals because she couldn't keep them on the pedals. Now, she doesn't need that. She pedals herself with no assistance on her feet!

Her walking is also coming along beautifully. Her feet still turn in a bit when she's not paying attention, but she's heel to toe walking perfectly, and when she's 'nice walking', its perfect! Right now she still uses her wheelchair for distance but is starting to use her walker a bit more at home when outside playing as ok'd by her physical therapists. She also knows that if she starts walking like a dork, she loses her walker. She's really tired of the wheelchair, and wants to be done with it. :)

Overall, we are extremely pleased with the surgery and her progress. Just seeing how easily she can transition to different positions on the floor, move around, and how excited she is to be able to do simple things like tap her toes or stand in ballet positions that were literally impossible for her before.

First Position!

We are so excited to watch her progress. We love her therapists and her team, and everyone is working so hard for her best interest. She's a very hard worker and takes almost everything in stride. She's excited with everything she can do now, and knows she will only continue to progress if she works hard!

Alina Ballerina

Anna adores her big sister!

First day of 1st and fifth grades, and last day of 1st and fifth grades!

Pretty poser and the blur

The difference in Anna's left foot in only a few months of therapy

Al is 11!

At the Capitol

Friday, May 24, 2013

Two weeks home (6 weeks post-op)

Alina is doing GREAT! She is regaining strength very fast and is quickly resuming her regular activities. Her only restriction right now is walking outside of PT. She still needs quite a bit of proper gait training, and that needs to be in PT. While we've been 'cleared' to allow her short walks in her walker as long as she maintains a proper gait, we've only let her a few times.... her hips still need quite a bit of strength so her feet done rotate in. She's able to walk so much easier though, easily walking heel to toe, moving her legs easier and her knees don't hyperextend anymore!

She is doing all floor activities independently.... laying, rolling, sitting, kneeling and knee walking. She's also able to half kneel with support, and starting to be able to do it on her own! Before surgery, this was impossible for her even with full support. Now she can move her foot up and kneel with little effort. The change in her body is phenomenal.... the ease in which she can do things. Things she could do before, she now does easily without effort. I'm so excited for her, she is so motivated to move and walk, run!

She's going to PT five days a week; Two days in the pool, three in the gym. The PT's all work her very hard because they know her potential, and they are all pretty amazing too. She always has a good time at PT and is proud of herself for all her hard work.

Great tall kneeling her last night at Gillette

Alina has good friends!

Half kneeling, and talking!

Tall, straight standing her last night at Gillette

Alina got a medal at Gillette PT for meeting her goals!



Little Sister was happy big sister was home!

Rental Wheelchair