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:

Confidence and Trust

Vera will start Preschool in a couple of weeks. We have one more trip planned next week before we buckle down for the fall and take joy in the local fun here in the bay area. I LOVE the fall. It is a beautiful time and well, it is our Family/Gotcha Day, Vera’s Bday, my niece Nyah’s Bday, Halloween, my sisters Bday, Thanksgiving, my Bday and of course Xmas. So we have lots to celebrate as the year comes to an end 🙂 Did I mention I love this time of year??

I know I have mentioned before how well Vera has done on attachment with me. She wants nothing to do with strangers (i.e. people who say Hi randomly to her or show her attention at the park or store). It wasn’t until recently that she finally let my sister in and showed her real affection. She is good with my close friends but isn’t one to follow them and leave me. She needs to know I am there at all times. She trusts me more than I could have ever hoped for.

Vera started gymnastics last week. It is a sort of Mom n Me class and the parents follow instructions and take their children thru the exercises. Last week it was Vera and I and two other kiddos and their moms. Vera did great and I was very proud with how far she has come. She is a fantastic listener and follows directions well. She is SO strong in her legs now. People always comment on her “dancer” legs. Yesterday, it was just Vera and I in the class so Coach Torr*y was able to give Vera one on one time. Vera was very anxious about this as she walked off with what is essentially a stranger to her. I stayed very close as Vera was watching for me and I could see the fear in her eyes. Coach was great in relating to her though and I could see Vera slowly relaxing and that made me happy.

The above brings me to a few worries with starting preschool with regards to Vera.  As I mentioned, Vera will NOT respond to strangers.  If someone she doesn’t know asks her her name, she will sit and stare blankly at them or run to me.  I am a little nervous how she will be with her teacher.  Preschool is Mon/Wed/Fri from 9-12.  We have a “meet your teacher” day the Wednesday before she starts so hopefully that will help make her teach not a total stranger in her mind.  Did anyone else have an issue with their child basically shutting down with regards to unfamiliar people?  Also, I know this was a discussion we just had on a mom board regarding telling or not telling the teacher about the adoption.  I am going to visit with the teacher one on one prior to the start of class to give her some insight on Vera and her adoption as I think it will help her understand Vera’s fears a bit more.

The second issue is Vera is very insecure. If she can’t do something right the first time, the tears start and frustration and anger set in. I have learned that with her I need to go to her, ask her to calm down and try again. Normally she doesn’t want to try again, but I am insistant she does. When we do it together, and she completes whatever it was, she is so happy and we hug and then we do it again and again. Normally we leave it after a few successful tries and then we do it again an hour or so later and BAM now she knows the skill and all is well and we climbed that hurdle.  This can be anything from cutting out a shape or jumping.  I worry that in class, she may be asked to do something and the water works will start if she psychs herself out that she can’t do it.

My final worry is Vera not being able to handle being told “no”.  Coach Torr*y asked her last week to come off the floor since class was over (Vera had wandered there while I was filling out paperwork).  The tears immediately began flowing and she ran to me.  It is like her feelings were hurt.  This happens whenever a person other than myself tells her no.  I explain to her the persons reasoning when this happens but I don’t know what else I can do.  I also wonder if this is only the case because I am there.  For example, when she is at preschool, will any of this happen since I am not there?

So, any and all advice would be appreciated 🙂

In the meantime, here is a little video of my sweet girl.  We are coming up on ONE YEAR together.  MAN that went fast…. Better start working on the then and now post!  Have a great day!

First Camping Adventure

It is a go-go month over here and last week on Tuesday we headed out for our first camping adventure.  I packed way too much stuff but I pretty much do that all the time.  I had made the mistake of mentioning camping the Friday before we left.  So, Vera asked each morning if it was camping time.  On Tuesday when I said yes, she was SO EXCITED!

Two Cars worth of stuff! LOL

The first day it was going to just be Vera, myself, my sister and her kids.  Then on Wednesday, the rest of the gang would head up.  That included my sister’s husband, our friend J and her family and our friend V and her family.  When we got there, there we claimed our sites and unloaded the cars.  The kids were so good being patient waiting for us to finish.  Soon as we did, we swimsuited up and hit the lake.

Camping is right on the water

On Wednesday the kids played and played and the adults had fun too.  I spent my day tugging Vera around in her boat or watching her swim or throwing her up and down and practicing putting our goggles on and looking under water.  We had smores and told stories by the campfire.  Thursday was much of the same thing.

Playing hard wore my little girl out!

Friday came and the kids played a bit in the morning and by lunch they were pooped and ready to head home to take a shower.

Waiting for us to finish packing so they can head home!

We got home Friday and Saturday we had a party to go to.  So, even though we were exhausted we made our way and ended up having a great time.  Monday came before we knew it and it was back to our normal routine.  We spent Sunday catching up on the Olympics and Vera is now in full “nymnastics” mode.  She watches everything they do and tries to replicate it.  We cheer for Russia and we cheer for the USA.  I admit I was very happy when Russia won a gold last night on the bars.  Prior to camping, I had signed Vera up at the new gymnastics school that opened Aug 1 by our house.  We missed the first class but we will there tomorrow.  She can’t wait and I can’t either!

Until next time!

 

 

Days of Summer

Summer keeps going by and with that lots of laughs and smiles in our home.  Vera and I spent a couple of days in Tahoe this past weekend.  Sunday we swam at the resort pool and spa.  They have a huge spa where the kids can go and Vera loved it.  Honestly it was my preference too because the pool was COLD!  Monday we ended up hanging out and walking around exploring.  There was no swimming as Tahoe was having a rain storm complete with lightning and thunder.  Tuesday we got up and headed home about 11.

On the way home we stopped at Toys *R* Us.  Vera and I both needed to get out and stretch.  I realized I had never brought her to one before.  She was in toy shock/heaven.  Everything was “WOW!  Look Momma a XXX”.  She didn’t ask for anything and was simply on cloud 9 to be riding around seeing all the toys.  I did make some notes as to what might be good bday gifts and Xmas gifts though.  She was such a good girl that I decided to buy her one of those plastic grocery carts.  The market by our house has little ones and when we shop she uses one and helps with the shopping.  Getting her very own made her day.

I know I have mentioned before that my mother watches Vera during the day.  Well obviously it is summer so that means that Vera’s older cousins are home all day with her.  They have gotten very close over the summer.  Vera’s language has become more clear and I believe it is because of being around the older kids.  Last week Vera did start stuttering a little.  It was sort of like, “I I I I want bike”.  Last week it was very noticable.  Even Ryan (my 6 year old nephew noticed it).  I emailed my friend who is a speech pathologist (HI J) and she relieved my worry and will be meeting with Vera come September.  Well, as of yesterday the stutter is almost non existent.  Funny how things can change so quickly.

I know I say it all the time, but I am just so happy to be this little smiley face’s momma!

 

 

Russian Adoption – European Children Adoption Services

I have been meaning to post for quite a while on my agency.  They have been in the middle of freshening up their website while continuing to be amazing advocates.  The agency that I used for my adoption was European Children Adoption Services (ECAS).  If you click HERE you can read a little summary about my experience with ECAS.

If you are thinking about a Russian adoption chat with them.  They took care of me, they made my experience joyous and memorable.  During my time in Russia I didn’t have to run all over town for appts.  They did it all.  I made a quick stops here and there when my signature was necessary, but other than that.  It was painless and easy.  WAY easier than I had expected and that I read about on other blogs.

They are also HONEST.  Zina is a straight shooter.  Judy is patient (and I know I tried that sweet patience during my wait).  The wait, well know this, it going to be what it is going to be.  They can’t make it go more quickly.  Believe me I when I say I tried to will it but it just doesn’t work.  It’s in God’s timing people.  But when it is time (and for me it was a 6 month wait) things move quick!

Zina, Judy, Faina and everyone at ECAS.   Vera and I love and appreciate everything you did for us and everything you continue to do for others!

ONE YEAR Metcha-AniVera-Sary

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

Vera TODAY!