Getting Back to this Blog

HELLO THERE!!!  I know I know its been months.  I have some good reasons and a lot to share so go grab a snack and get comfy….  Ready ok.

So, last I blogged about our life, I gave you the 3rd Birthday rundown.  At that time we were still at my moms.  Remember, the house had flooded from the busted rubber washer hose??  Well fast forward to December and the house was FINALLY done.  So, what did I have done?  Well the whole house was repainted, the kitchen was gutted and remodeled, the downstairs bath got new tile and the whole downstairs got new floors.  The last things to do now are refinish the Master bath vanity and Vera’s vanity and replace the countertops with leftover granite from the kitchen.  Oh and install those pesky laundry doors :-)  I am sure I will think of a few other things as time goes on, but for now, Vera and I love everything about the house and are VERY happy with the change.  Here are a couple of pix:

Before View

Before View

After View

After View

Before View

Before View

After View

After View

Christmas came and we decided to have my family over Christmas Eve to show everyone the house.  It was fun to have everyone here.  That never happens.  My sister cooked up a storm and we ate, chatted, opened gifts and had it was great.  After everyone left, we headed to my sister’s house to spend the night.  Christmas morning the kids woke up and that was a blast!  Vera was SO excited that Santa brought her exactly what she asked for.  What was that you ask?  Why a pink train and a new blanket of course!

Mommy and Vera Christmas Morning

Mommy and Vera Christmas Morning

Vera with her new blanket from Santa

Vera with her new blanket from Santa

New Years came and my dear friend Julie was turning 40 on NYE.  We normally go to her house and celebrate her bday and NY.  But this year, I just wasn’t feeling good.  I even got dressed, drove there and ended up heading back home before I even entered the party.  So, in lieu of a party, it was Vera, my niece Ava and myself.  The girls made it til 11:50.  They tried :-)  I made it til 12:10!  LOL

The month of January was pretty busy.  I had two weddings to shoot and an engagement session.  In between, just normal life stuff.  Running here and there, dealing with the flu that got me, and making time for naps and snuggles on rainy days.

Vera is doing AMAZING.  She is talking so much and all the time.  Nonstop.  She loves to draw and is presently obsessed with all things princess.  She received a Cinderella costume and glass slippers for her 3rd birthday from Aunt Deb and she would wear those each and every day if she could.  She has learned to write her name and we are working on neatness and fitting it in the space for her Valentine’s cards for friends at school.  We are even having some friends over on the 15th for a Valentines Party as Vera calls it.  My girl loves a party!

She is still doing gymnastics.  She did change gymnastic schools.  Not because the old school was bad or not good enough.  We changed to a school that is owned by a Ukrainian family.  There are lots of Russian families there.  Vera LOVES it.  They love Vera as well.  She walks in and tells everyone “priviet” and when she leaves she says “paka paka”  The moms and grandmothers like to talk to her in Russian and Vera smiles and nods a yes or no.  Who knows if she knows what they are saying but they seem to be satisfied with her response.  She no longer is nervous on the little balance beam and will go across no problem.  She is great on the trampoline and can forward roll all over the place on her own.  Coach Anatoliy (he isn’t her coach yet but he watches her and greets us with a huge smile each week when we get there) even told his wife that Vera is very good and an amazing listener.  And I would have to agree.  Two weeks ago we spoke to one of the grandmothers and I shared with her Vera was adopted and she asked what part of Russia.  I told her and she quickly responded that she LOVES that area of Russia and vacationed there several times.  She then proceeded to tell me, “Your daughter, she is really russian, you must keep her in gymnastics.  It is in her blood to be here”.  LOL!

Vera has been home now 16 months.  She and I are mother and daughter and have a special bond that is so much stronger than I ever would have imagined.  When she crawls in my arms for hugs and love or we snuggle to watch a little TV, it is in those moments that I realize how lucky I am.  Part of why I was so quiet these past months is the adoption ban really did a number on me.  It made me so sad yet so grateful that I have my daughter.  It was all I could do to get thru each day without being overwhelmed at the thought of the children still there, waiting for their family.  A few weeks ago, Vera was taking a bath and randomly said, “I sad at baby house.  I wait for my mommy at baby house and you come back for me.  I get happy”.  When she said that my heart hurt and broke for all the children and families that will never be.  I am still praying that those that met their babies will be allowed court so that they can bring their babies home.

So, that is the latest and greatest in a summary overview on us.  I promise to be more regular.  I have a list of all things Vera coming up!  Have a great day everyone!!

Fundraiser for Candice Nadine and MercyFound Ministries

OK Peeps….  If there are any mommies out there who are looking for holiday cards and want to support a GREAT cause, I have something for you!

I designed a few holiday card templates with Matroshka’s on them.  Two options here.  You can Purchase a template and I will create the jpg for you using any image you send me.  I will also adjust the text to read how you would like it.  Then, you can take to print on your own.  OR  You can purchase a template and I will also print up your cards for you.  Now, these are professional cardstock cards!  I sell these to my clients for $2.50 each and they don’t blink an eye as the quality is that good.  But for you all, I will print up the cards at $1.25 each.  ALL OF THE PROCEEDS will go to Candice and MercyFound Ministries.

Check out the site here and get your cards for a cause now :-)

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Hey Look, Its ME!

OK,  I owe you a blog about the happenings as of late!  Lets see…. On October 11th I got a call saying there was water pouring out of my house.  I rushed home and sure enough there was.  The living area is above my garage and well, long story short, the washing machine hose busted and water shot out for HOURS!  The whole second level was dust.  So, after the cleanup, I was left to repair the damage.  The house was needing a new kitchen anyway, so she is getting one.  Along with new paint, floors, counters, etc…

In the meantime, Vera and I have been staying at my moms.  It is hard not being in out own space, but luckily, for Vera and I, so long as we have each other we make do :-)  The house should be all put back together December 1.  That is my target date and I am pushing hard to keep it!

So, besides the flooding, Vera celebrated a 3rd birthday!  She continues to blossom at an unbelievable rate!  She talks so much now.  I don’t know how I was ever worried.  She is happy to tell you she is THREE now and loved celebrating her birthday.

Aunt Tessie and Nana with the Birthday Girl

Trike Races!!

Birthday Singing

Blowing out the candles. Well Nyah’s candle since she already blew out her 3!

Mommy and her Princess!

Tomorrow I will be posting a little something for the holidays.  Stay tuned, you won’t want to miss it!

And a little video of my brave confident and super STRONG daughter….

One Year Home Pictures

Well, I had to take some special one year home pictures of my sweet Vera.  She enjoys the camera most of the time.  Though some days, she will stop, look at me and say, “no pictures Mommy” while shaking her hands.  So, in those moments I stop and give her the space she needs.

I made a pretty big deal over her one year family day.  I think for me (I don’t know if it is like this for others) the day is so meaningful because that day it all became real.  For me, it was more like her birth day.  Of course we will celebrate her actual birthday in October, but this day just means more to me.  I wasn’t there the day she was born in October 2009.  Anyway, we made a pretty big deal of it and Vera loved every minute of it. She even insisted on candles for her cake.

Leading up to our one year, there was a lot of reminiscing and she seemed to express more talk about Russia.  Repeating her story of how mommy came to get her (which I tell her).  And adding things like “I sad Russia”, “Babies cry Russia”.  She can look at pictures and distinguish those that were in Russia, and those that were not.  She doesn’t seem to remember the caretakers as she will look at them and ask, who that is.  OR maybe she does and there is confusion with referring to them previously as Mama and now she has me?  I don’t know.

Nonetheless, we enjoyed our day and spent it with family and close friends. Fall is here (though it has been in the high 90’s the past few days) and pumpkin patches are open.  Vera is excited to go to the two we pass each day.  Birthday Party Plans are in the works and I need to get invites out this week.  Better get busy!

In the meantime, here are some pictures I took of Vera to celebrate her One Year Family Day…

My sweet Verochka…..

Dearest Vera,

It is hard to believe that it has been one year since you and I began our forever.  I remember so clearly the details of that day.  I remember waking from the little sleep I got knowing that today was the day I got to be your mommy in person and not just in dreams or on paper.  As the van drove those bumpy 2.5 hours to your orphanage, I prayed for you and for the sadness you would be feeling.  I wondered how the next days, weeks and months would be.  When we pulled up to the entrance I walked to the directors office. I went thru the formality of “signing you out” of Mashuk Baby House.  It had been your home since that day in February 2010.  It was the only home in your memory and they cared greatly for you for the past 19 months.  You were 23 months old.  You spent 19 months there and sadly, you had no possessions.  That broke my heart.  I walked thru the gardens of the orphanage to your room.  There you waited with the caregivers working that shift. We were late and it was dinnertime.  Your groupa was in the front room and the caregivers wanted to say goodbye and feed you one last bottle of porridge.  I came to know these women and in ways I would miss their faces, their russian chat and even smiles as we played charades to communicate during my visits.  They were kind enough to show me things like what kind of food you were used to eating, what you didn’t like to eat or drink and how to dress you warm enough.  If they only knew you we were headed to California in a couple of days.  A place where we hardly wear socks and we swim in the ocean and run wildly thru parks chasing birds and ducks without hats and sweatshirts.

I dressed you in your new clothes and the caregivers oohed and awed.  It really made them happy to see you in a big bow.  I passed out bracelets to them with your name in Cyrillic and then the english translation “Faith” for them to have and remember you by.  Some pictures were taken and it was time to go.  You hugged them, not really knowing what a hug was. I put you down and you wanted to hold hands.  We walked to the door and you never once cried or looked back.  You were eager to go with me and on toward your new life.

That drive to the airport was a little tough.  You were frightened of the car.  But you snuggled into my chest and found your spot.  I knew it was going to be okay that moment.  I knew you trusted me.  It was like that moment our hearts touched and fused together.

My sweet daughter.  I had imagined the first year would be tough and full of tantrums and adjustments.  As I look back, for me, the hardest part was the jet lag and the tired I felt that first month home.  The lack of sleep for 10 days in Russia, actually MONTHS of lack of sleep, because the time leading up to court was not very restful and it all finally hit me.  I can count your tantrums over the past year on one hand.  You have slept peacefully and soundly in your bed each night since that first night home.  You try new foods and like most things.  You have embraced being loved and your new life and family.  Watching you learn and grow has been the most amazing experience.  I look at you that day September 28, 2011 and I look at you today and so much has happened.  All for the good.

I hope one day when you are old enough to read this blog, you will see how much you mean to me.  This has been the most amazing year of my life.  Being your mommy was the greatest gift I was ever given.  It feels like you have always been here.  My heart has expanded in size with love in a way that I never imagined was possible.  When you smile at me my whole world lights up.  When you run to hug me I melt to moosh.  You make me a better person.  When I get tired from work or when I stay up late editing pictures for clients, I simply look over at a picture of you and I am inspired to press on.  We  have so many more family days to celebrate and memories to make.  I can’t wait.

Vera Rose.  Vera meaning Faith.  Rose for the resilient nature of the rose-bush.  Forget to water it and it often sits dormant, not dead.  Feed it and it grows beautiful flowers.  I promise to keep watering you my sweet daughter.  Tonight we will clink clink our glasses, eat macaroni and cheese and have cake to celebrate this special day.  But not before we hit the park to run, play and ride the merry-go-round 100 times.

Things I Love about My Daughter

Vera is growing so quickly and I simply don’t want to forget anything about these special times.  I do a pretty good job of keeping up on my picture a day (see link to the right for all those pics).  It will be great to turn that into a book at the end of this year and do it all again next year.  I also try to make those lists of Vera’s milestones as I know it will be great to remember those details later on.  One thing that I have not done is make a list of the things I Love about my daughter.  So, here it goes:

  • I love Vera’s gentle and sweet nature with people and things.
  • I love how Vera shows compassion and concern with others.  If I say owe or sneeze or cough, she is running over to me to check on me or rub my back.
  • I love that she now calls me mommy.  At first I was hesitant but now I love it.
  • I love to hear her answer the questions asked by Dora when she watches TV.
  • I love the soft moan/grunt that she makes when she is drinking her nite nite bottle in my arms.
  • I love how she loves her cousins and never wants to leave them without offering up a hug.
  • I love how helpful she is.
  • I love her desire to learn new things.
  • I love how if I am dressed up, she wants to be dressed up.
  • I love how she notices if I buy new shoes, paint my toes a new color or wear something she has never seen.
  • I love her smile.
  • I lover her giggle.
  • I love how when I tickle her, it is the best thing in the world; and if others try, no laugh escapes her lips.
  • I love her sweet-smelling sweaty toes.
  • I love that after years of crazy ups and downs, losses and failures, I ended up being mommy to exactly who I was supposed to mother. God is good.


First Day of Preschool

Well as anyone who has kids or is on Facebook know, it is that time of year. The starting of all things school. It was no exception in our house this year. I know I have mentioned it before, but Vera will be attending preschool M/W/F for 3 hours in the morning. We have been talking about it and with her two older cousins in school now, she was anxious to have her own school to go to. Last Wednesday I attended the parent/teacher orientation at Vera’s preschool. Thursday was a meet and greet and Vera got to attend. There she got to meet her teacher, meet some classroom friends and famliarize herself with her teacher, school, class and surroundings. IT was good for her.

Two days ago on Wednesday was the big day. The FIRST DAY OF PRESCHOOL. She was very excited and I kept preparing her that Momma won’t be there but she will come back before lunch, etc. We pulled up, I signed her in and she was off! She went with the teachers aid (they take them from your car, it is valet drop off). She had a little deer in the headlights look which worried me, but she didn’t cry. 3 hours later I was there to pick her up and she was so happy to see me. She said it was good and that she played, ate a cracker and drank juice. The teacher (as she put Vera in the car) stated that it went very good and she would email pix and a report that night. Sure enough she did and it was great to get a little peek into the first day.

My little preschooler

In other news, we are THIS CLOSE to being a family for a year! We met earlier this week with the social worker for our one year post placement. Now we won’t see her again until next September. Vera is hitting all kinds of milestones and is very much a normal two year old, almost three (about two months away).  Which reminds me I need to call and schedule her well child.

In the meantime, here are some of the latest things on Vera:

  • Everything belongs to Vera.  Most common phrases heard are: My toys, My doll, My mommy’s lap.
  • She is quite the meat eater these days.
  • She now will say Mommy as much as Momma. It is cute to hear her say it as she says Mommy so cute.
  • She is really getting into pretend play. Being a mermaid or a princess or a dog or cat.
  • She is really enjoying gymnastics. She is gaining confidence and more body control all the time. For example, keeping one foot flexed while pointing the other and then switching. Jumping down the trampoline and moving her legs out and in. She still has fear of falling off the balance beam, but each time she get a little better. She also has regressed a little in jumping off of blocks, etc. But we will keep working on overcoming her fear. Mind you she will jump if she and I hold hands. It’s just the fear of doing it alone.
  • Her fear of trains is getting less. She can tolerate looking at them and doesn’t run to me when she hears them. She will however cover her ears most times when she hears one. At night, in her bed, she will cry if she hears one (in summer I keep her window open for fresh air and a train goes by at 8:45 and 9:45). I will go in when I hear her and she will be there with her hands over her ears and eyes closed crying :-( Sometimes I think she dreams of it because about once a month or so she will wake up that way and there is no train going by in the distance or at least not that I hear.
  • She is very sure that she wants to be a pink princess for Halloween.  I was pushing for Cinderella, but a blue princess is not acceptable for my little Ruskie.
  • She loves to be chased at the park on the grass and I love to chase her and hear her laugh hysterically.
  • She will go up to kids in the park and say “Hi I’m Vera”.  But when she says Vera she doesn’t say the VVV sound so it sounds like her name is Era .  We are working on that sound :-)
  • She as of one hour and 30 minutes ago finished day 2 of preschool and had a great day with no tears.
  • Vera knows most of the alphabet and her numbers 0-13.  She can’t recite the alpha song correctly yet but hey she knows the letters and can be quizzed on them.  She can count in order 1-10 though sometimes she leaves out 5 and 6.  She can show you numbers 1-5 with her hand and it is stinkin cute.  Colors and numbers she has basically knows since month 3 or so….
  • When her language skills begins to grow, her dysfluencies (stuttering) appear.  It was happening a bit a couple of weeks ago and then stopped.  Started up again this morning.
  • Is gaining independence daily.  Wanting to climb in the car by herself, take off her clothes alone even pottying all by herself.  But she still loves her nuggle time in the morning with mommy and her bottle time in my arms at night.
  • Starting to enjoy coloring a lot more and craft like projects.
  • Is sweet and loving.  If she hears me say ow (maybe I bummed my toe) she will run over and say, “momma ok?  what happened?  awwww I kiss it.  Its ok momma”
  • Very good table manners.  I am a proud momma and here is a cute video of the end of dinner: