ONE YEAR!! How did that happen? Where did the time go? Last night as I rocked Vera to sleep I kept thinking how lucky I was to have her in my life. I kept thinking of what I was going at this moment one year ago. I literally counted down the minutes until 2pm July 4th Stavropol time (which was 3am July 4th California time). I woke up, crept in her room and touched her sweet face, prayed over her and watched her for a bit in while slept.
That first trip to Russia was so scary. Not from an environment or people perspective, but from an emotions perspective. Not knowing what to expect, hoping it would all work out, and the nerves and love.. just overwhelming. But I did it and survived. The second trip was great and all my memories of Russia are fond and for that I am grateful.
That first day, when they brought that tiny little girl in the pink dress with a bonnet and bow in to the office to meet me… well from that first day, that moment, she was my daughter. Love at first sight is real people. That day she was scared and timid. She was quiet. She rocked back and forth and held her fingers in her mouth (much to the dismay of the caretakers). She was unsure of me but also a little curious. Such special moments that have been etched in my brain. The next 4 days were so much fun. For me, its like the moment the referral comes its like getting that positive pregnancy test. The meeting… well maybe like the first ultrasound. Something visual to make it all real. After that, it’s the waiting. Then court (labor) and gotcha day (birth).
Here is a little video of Vera the second day we spent together. Notice the gray color of her skin, the rocking (it wasn’t until I got back to the hotel and watched it that I realized she wasn’t dancing.. she was nervous). You will notice the lack of muscle tone in her 20 month old legs and she is barely walking. Scooting more or less… The orphanage kept saying if you just love her and feed her she will thrive. In my mind it didn’t matter. If she walked like that forever or if we had to go to therapy and practice. I loved her no matter what. Here is the video:
She moves so quick now, it is hard to catch her for a video. She runs, she jumps she laughs. Her legs are all muscle and boy can that girl climb! Looking over the pictures from a year ago, it is so hard to believe the change in her. But then again, not so hard since love and one on one attention is good for the soul:
So here is a little list of Vera
1. She says 3 words together no problem. Saying cute phrases like “come with me Momma” or “be careful Momma”.
2. Has the BEST memory ever. You can ask where she left something (i.e. the hairclips she pulled out of her hair) and she will tell you where it is and will go get them.
3. Much better at using her spoon now for eating. Can use a fork no problem.
4. Still sleeping like a pro in her bed and still has never tried to get out of bed. Even when it takes her longer than 5 min to fall asleep.
5. Working on using scissors and instead of wanting to cut paper she searches for anything with hair to give a haircut. Dog, barbie, teddy bears.. all are potential clients.
6. LOVES TO SWIM. We are working on when you have your goggles on, you can actually keep your eyes open.
7. Believes the iPad is hers and she is actually sharing with Momma. I am thinking that I will be saving up for another one so I can use one that is sans sticky screen and cookie crumbs.
8. Loves to care for her dolly and I see her doing all of the things I do for her and it melts my heart.
9. She has gained 7 pound (she is now 27 pounds) and is just a smidge past 37 inches tall (that’s just over 4 inches in growth).
10. She is a good little eater. Eats pretty much anything BUT not fond of potatoes. The one thing she ate the most of in the orphanage!
11. She hated milk in the orphanage but loves it now.
12. She thinks those yogurt snacks by Gerber are candy and I continue to let her think they are a special candy treat!
13. She loves to brush her teeth and wants me to do it all the time as well. My dentist will like to hear that one.
14. She still has not warmed up to men very much. The only one she will freely go to is my dad. It hurts my brother in laws feelings. I hope she will learn to love on him. She talks about him often just is very nervous to walk up freely to him.
15. Easy as pie to travel with or dine with at a restaurant.
16. Knows our night-time routine and if I turn the light off to her room (usually I let her do it) she must turn is BACK on so she can turn if off.
17. Loves her some mexican food
18. Copies me in the car whether I am singing, dancing, talking on the phone OR picking my nose. YEP. Did that the other day, looked back and she was doing the same thing. Not my proudest mommy moment.
19. Pretty much knows her way to walk to the park (it’s about 1/2 mile from our home and she knows the turns)
20. 100% potty trained!
AND if you made it through all of that. Your reward is a picture of her from that very first day and a picture of her TODAY! I love my dear Verochka. I love so so much that those words don’t even begin to encompass the depth of it. When I talk about it I cry. Momma loves you the mostest. Momma loves you to the Russia and back 10 times, past the moon and the stars all the way to forever!
Vera July 4 in an orphanage in the village of Inozemtsevo