Thursday, January 27, 2011

Little Mary Poppins

We took Alice to a pediatric surgeon this morning.  I had Erin come along because it is better for me to have a second set of ears when talking to doctors about my children.  The office wanted a copy of our court decree and her birth certificate.  Ok, I said, but they're not in English.  So, they made a copy of them.  Whatever.

The doctor was quite impressed with our little one.  He said she doesn't have a hernia, just a weak spot that will heal on it's own!  And that whatever we've been doing since we got her has cleared up some bowel issues and to keep it up. (insert happy dance and a bit of pride)  He just delighted in her and told us how glad he was that we have her.

He said she was like Mary Poppins...practically perfect in every way.  I couldn't agree more.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Homecoming Queen

We arrived to about 50 people waiting for us.  It was wonderful!  We had a professional photographer (and dear family friend) come to take pictures.  I wanted to enjoy the people and family and not have to worry about remembering to take pictures.  She also came back to the house, trying to capture pictures of the children meeting Alice for the first time.  Alice was so impressed with it all, she fell sound asleep and slept the rest of the evening until 4 am.  Here are a few of what she captured at the airport.
All of our Houston family in the elevator...they all fit!

Our awaiting public...look at all those signs!
When we got out of immigration, our children ran up and met us.  They were so excited to see us, they gave us all their posters and took Alice from me.  I didn't see her again until we left the airport!

Meeting Grandma for the first time...see Charlotte's hand?  She followed Alice every where.  Charlotte is in almost every least part of her!

Alice was exhausted.  She just let everyone hold her and kiss on her.  Never made a sound.  And she was passed around and around and around.  Bless her heart.  Everyone had prayed so hard for her and helped us through the whole process.  It was like she belonged to all of us.

My father-in-law gathered us all together for a time a prayer and praise.

We have had such a wonderful time since being home.  Alice has really enjoyed all the attention she's gotten with 3 older sisters and 2 older brothers.  Erin and I have to schedule time to hold her! 

I took her to our pediatrician on Thursday (the day after we came home.)  The doctor asked for her medical history.  Um, she had heart surgery....yeah, that's all I know.  She ordered a ton of tests...blood, urine, and a stool sample (still haven't figured out how to get that one!)  Alice also has a good sized hernia.  We meet with the pediatric surgeon on Thursday morning.  And the pediatric cardiologist  in March.  And physical therapy sometime in there.  

She sleeps great.  She fusses sometimes, but not very much.  Some of that is due to the orphanage.  She learned that no one would answer her why bother?  We are training her that we will be there for her.

I can't believe we've had her for 2 weeks now!  She's starting to fill out, praise the Lord!  Where her stomach used to fall in, it now is wonderfully round.  Her hair is growing and shining.  Her face is starting to fill out and she smiles now when we reach for her.  She's such a delight to us all!

It's amazing to me what love and care can do for a child.  2 weeks.  I can't wait to see how much she'll blossom and grow from here.  

I love to be able to tell strangers what the Lord has allowed us to here.  I haven't taken her out much.  But, when I do, I tell everyone that stands still long enough to hear Alice's tale.  It is such a beautiful story.  It is our story, the story of our redemption. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How we are in 7 sentences...

We made it home safe and sound.

She did great.  What a sweet girl.

Over 50 family and friends welcomed us at the to come.

My daughters have a new doll and take turns choosing her clothes, dressing her, giving her a bottle, etc.

Erin is shopping for a bigger van.

We all are in love.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


It's done.  Official.  Final.  Over.  Complete.

We have her visa.  We've done everything that we were required to do to adopt sweet, spunky Alice.  She was so impressed she slept the entire appointment.

We will begin our flight home tomorrow morning at 5:35.

And, as if you haven't already figured it out by now, songs will get stuck in my head at certain moments.  It's like my life is one big musical.

Here's today's musical number... it's just the song, not a video.  Still enjoyable and pretty much what I've been singing since the US embassy.

Monday, January 17, 2011

One more thing on the to do list

Alice has been sleeping in bed with us since we got her out of the orphanage last week.  (Small side note...tomorrow we will have had Alice for a week!)  It's been working just fine.  We've all been sleeping ok.  I wake up a lot to check on her.  We have no other place for her to sleep since she's still so little and rolls around...a lot.  But, last night Erin had a "light bulb."  He took everything out of his suitcase and...

Yep, that's my baby sleeping in a suitcase!  We put down a fluffy blanket then one of our blankets.  She slept for a few hours then woke herself up with a dirty diaper.  After a change, bath (it was one of those dirty diapers), and a bottle, out she went.  She slept great and has been in a delightful mood all morning.  I slept great, too.  That was nice.

Alice's new hat
Today we have her medical exam.  Not sure what that means or what to expect really.  I may to an update to this post when we get back to the apartment.  *Update*We made it through medicals.  It seems that America and 3 other countries require a medical exam before giving out visas.  When our driver picked us up he had another family in the car.  A dad named David and his newly adopted daughter, Madeline.  This girl's smile could light up a city!  She's beautiful.  Click here to go to his blog.  Then we went to another apartment and picked up another dad with his newly adopted daughter, Olivia.  Click here to go to his blog.  Good thing we didn't car seats.  Because in this Land Rover were 3 parents and 3 girls in the back seat!  The medicals were simple.  She gave Alice a quick and general exam and then told us to wait 20  minutes.  Then 20 minutes later she came out and told us to wait 20 minutes.  About an hour later we were done.  They work on a different time than we do.  We came back to the apartment and ate lunch.  Miss Alice took a nap in her fancy new bed.  One more thing checked off the list.  One more to go.  Tomorrow we go to the embassy for her visa...then we're outta here!

Almost able to sit up
Running the hurdles
Yesterday was my daughter, Charlotte's 9th birthday.  We were able to talk with the kids via a web chat.  It did my mama heart good to see their faces and hear their voices.  We were able to sing happy birthday to  Charlotte.   Our family gave her a sweet little birthday party.  I'm so thankful they are there to stand in for us.  Charlotte is such a neat kid.  She's a deep thinker and a little mama.  I know she's going to be such a great helper with Alice.  When she turned 7, she told me she thought she was old enough to start changing diapers.  I agreed.  Now, at 9, I wonder what else she can do?  Run errands for me?  Read to Henry and Alice while I do phonics with Thomas, give Alice one of her bottles, change diapers, and cuddle with me.  Rest up, Charlotte, mama's got a long list of to-do's for ya.

I miss the children so much it's difficult to talk about without getting teary.  I keep going over and over in my head what we have left to do hoping that will make the time go faster.  I don't think it is.  I know that the time will soon arrive that we're all together.  

What a sweet day that will be!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

4 more wake-ups until we're home...

We got Alice's local passport today and headed out.  If I haven't made it clear enough...I dislike the drive!  I have been dreading it ever since the first one...the day we met Alice for the first time.  I usually sleep the whole way, but how was I going to do that with a baby?  Well, today we found out.  Alice and I slept for about an hour and a half of it.  Then, I made her a little nook on the seat next to me.  I laid her down and gave her a toy.  She played for about 45 minutes or so.  Then I held her and we did that for about 45 minutes.  Then bottle, then sleep, the get the idea.  Other than being what seemed like forever long, we did just great!

Our apartment here in the capital is a bit on the scary side.  The outside of the building and the  The inside, not so bad.  It's super tiny.  An entry way, tiny bathroom, little bedroom, small kitchen.  That's it.  Our last place had 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.  Yep, we were spoiled and now we're paying for it.

BUT, we are in the middle of downtown.  Tonight we loaded up and walked to TGIFridays.  I put Alice in the Ergo and zipped my coat up around her.  I looked like a strange pregnant woman (my baby bump was WAY high.)  She fell asleep.  When we got to the restaurant, I unzipped and there was a baby in there!  The looks on the customers faces was priceless!  We ate an American-ish dinner.  We ordered chips and salsa as an appetizer.  No joke, they brought out the smallest bowl of salsa I've ever seen.  We're from Texas ya'll.  We give the baby that size of bowl of salsa...for himself.  But, it was good.  We miss spice.

We are tucking little one into bed now.  We bought her a pacifier thinking she would like it...and she a chew toy and let's see how far I can spit toy.  We may not bring it out to play on the airplane.

Friday, January 14, 2011

You'll have to use a little bit of Imagination...

*UPDATE**I found the camera charger and was able to upload the no longer need your imagination...thank you for your cooperation. 

We went to a real life castle yesterday.  We had wanted to do it last time we were here, but didn't want to miss a visit with Alice, so we didn't go.  We were able to this time, though.  We loaded Alice into the Ergo, packed a "diaper bag" and off we went.  It took about 2.5 hours to get there which Alice and I slept most of the way.  The roads here are full of holes and the drivers must swerve to miss them.  Yep.  It makes me nauseous just thinking about it, too.

We took great pictures and then ran out of battery.  I'm not sure where the charger for that is.  Hopefully not on my bed at the states.  Anyway, when we find it, I will post them.  One thing I decided about castle living is...I wouldn't like it.  It was cold and wet.  But, Erin was very impressed and had us go into every touret and dungeon.  He loves that sort of thing!





From there we went to a cathedral that was over 500 years old. Erin was fascinated.  It was very pretty.  We talked in quiet, hushed tones.  For that reason, I was ready to go outside fairly quickly into the tour.

The views from both the cathedral and the castle were amazing.


We went from there to lunch.  It was yummy...borscht.  At least that's what I had.  I loved it.  The owner asked if we had brought Alice with us from America.  We told her, through our driver, that no we had adopted her here.  She told us thank you for doing such a thing; that here she would have no future and the orphanages don't care about them.  We agreed.  She asked if we had other children.  When we told her 5 she was surprised.  Large families aren't really the norm around here...ahhh, just like home.

Today we were hoping to pick up Alice's local passport and head back to the capital city.  Nope.  The passport will be ready tomorrow morning at 10.  Good thing we can get it on a Saturday.  We were also told that the embassy in the capital city won't be open on Monday because of Martin Luther King, Jr. day.  A moment of panic as it takes 2 days to get through the embassy.  We have our flights booked for Wednesday morning.  But, since they already have taken her picture for her visa the facilitators dropped off the paperwork today, counting today as day 1.  We will be able to do her medical appointment on Monday, finish at the embassy on Tuesday and head home on Wednesday.  So, we pick up her passport and head out tomorrow...4 hours on those rough roads.  I'm hoping for a long nap from both Alice and I.

She's eating well.  And sleeping well.  Tonight, she cried and cried.  We couldn't make her happy.  I'm not sure what the issue was.  But, after crying, a bottle, and a bath, she was worn out.  She feel asleep soundly.  Who knows?

We are loving watching her come out of herself a bit.  She will crack herself up and just start laughing at who  knows what.  But, it makes Erin and I laugh too.  She will army crawl over to Erin and cries when he walks past her without picking her up.  He has no problem with that!

I am counting the days until we get home.  I'm so ready to start our lives with her!  I'm ready for her to meet the neatest sisters and brothers in the world.  They are such great kids.  They were patient when I was knee deep in dossier.  They worked hard at both garage sales.  They have handled our 2 trips with grace.  They wanted her as much as we did.  They are really amazing kids.  We are blessed to have them.  And so is Alice.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Crazy in Love

I know this post is going to sound so crazy.  I've been trying to create it in my head all day.  Trying not to sound like the dork I know that I am.  I want to apologize for the remainder of the post now.  If you want to stop reading so that you can maintain the facade that I'm...well, something entirely different than I am...I wouldn't blame you.

Although I thought I knew I wouldn't love Alice any less than the 5 children God gave me through the womb, but the intensity of my love for her surprised me.  Truly, there is NO difference in the love I had when we held our first five and the love I have now.  We had to block off part of our hearts when we left in December, or we wouldn't have been able to leave.  Now that we are able to fully open up to her, we are fierce in our protection and love for her.

I am amazed, shocked, and honored by this.  This is how the Lord feels for us when he adopted us to share in the inheritance of Christ.  I would not treat her any different or less than the children God gave me from birth.  Just as he doesn't treat us differently.  Am I the only one sitting here slack jawed thinking about the enormity of that?

This is why I apologized.  I am sure every other adopted parent has already figured this out.  I can imagine you are sitting reading this thinking...DUH!  I'm slow.  I usually get there, just to the beat of my own drum.  My children are already at this point emotionally.  We were able to talk with them over the internet tonight.  They ooo and aww when they see her.  They fight to get to look at her face.  6 year old, Tom, said, "I just want to eat her up!"  They already know how much they love her. They've always known. The faith of a child, right?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

We got Alice!

Today was insane!!  We left the capital city at 4 am and drove 6 hours to the city where Alice is.

We made 2 stops in the to get the court decree that the judge allowed the adoption and one to get her new birth certificate with our names listed as her mother and father.

Then we went to the orphanage.  The smells where the same and it was a bit overwhelming.  We got to her groupa and I saw her and got so excited!  I had brought her a "freedom" outfit.  It had a onesie that said "So Loved".  I know they couldn't read what it said, but I knew.  The nanny wouldn't let me dress her.  I had been waiting for that moment for a long time.  But, I held my tongue.  It was so nice to see her without all those layers!  She had a onesie, pants, jacket, blanket sleeper, hoodie, hat and a blanket wrapped around her and covering her head.  And everyone that saw us leaving told us to cover her more.  It was hard to bite my tongue then.  I mean, I did it, I just didn't want to.

We went from there to 2 different banks.  The orphans here are given money from the government.  I don't know why.  If they are special needs they get more; in a different bank.  We closed out those accounts and gave the money back to the orphanage.  It is expected you will do this.  We didn't ask, we just did.  We also had to go back to the orphanage to sign papers of the transfer of Alice to us.

During all the running around we had Alice.  They don't use car seats here so I was able to hold her and cuddle her.  We actually had a wonderful time, her and I.  Erin was anxious to get everything done and was tired of waiting, waiting, waiting in line.  But, Alice and I tickled and giggled and cuddled and kissed and slept.  I'm pretty sure I was in heaven for a bit.

When we finally made it back to the apartment (around 6 pm) I couldn't wait to give her a bath.  I had been waiting to do that for months!  But, this is where the post gets really hard.  When I say she's tiny, I mean it.  I'm talking thin little legs, hip bones that stick out.  Her backbone is like a razor going down her back it sticks out so much.  Her ribs jut out.  At the orphanage we were given 2 different pieces of paper telling us what she eats and when.  The first one was from the nanny that took care of her.  It had 3 bottles listed.  The second one was from the orphanage lawyer and 6 bottles + meals listed.  The lawyer took the first list and threw it away.  I don't think she was getting the 6 bottles + meals.  I think she was getting the 3 that consisted of milk and wheat cereal mixed in.

I know this is an easy fix.  I know that in God's providence he chose this little girl to be in my family.  A mom that reads books on nutrition like novels and is willing to do what it takes.  I know that this is the first day of the rest of her life.  But right now, sitting next to her as she sleeps and I can see her backbones, it makes me...well, I'm sure I can leave that to the imagination.

I'm so thankful the Lord put us on this path.  Today, the Lord used us to save her life.  Wow.  That he would give us such a privilege.

Sleeping Beauty...orphan no more

She's a doll.  She loves to be held...which is good, because I love to hold.  We are sleeping with her in our bed and she sleeps best when one of us is holding her.  I'm loving every minute of it!  Today was too crazy to take any pictures.  But, we aren't leaving the apartment tomorrow, so more should come.

And just because the name sounds the same and I've had this song stuck in my head all day (and you know how I feel about that...if it's in my head it should be in your head too).  Now, imagine I can sing and dance like the lady in yellow and Erin is the guy with the turban.  Here ya go...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tiny but Mighty

Super short post to say...

We made here safe and sound.

We get to break her out...TODAY!!!!!

Praise the Lord from whom all blessings flow!

I'm doing the Dance of Joy!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Last Push

I've had my last 3 babies without any pain meds.  And they were all 9 + lbs.  I have long, gentle labors.  8+ hours.  At the end of the labor, I'm tired and I'm ready to be done.  I hit transition and I am pretty sure I won't survive.  Then it comes time to push.  I dread that part.  I usually start to say "No" over and over and my body takes over and does it for me since I've usually decided I want to go home and come back tomorrow...even if I'm already home.

That's how I'm feeling now.  I want to scoop up Alice and run all the way home.  But, I so don't want to get on that plane and go back to where we are going.  I'm dreading the long flights...the smells...the language issue (we don't speak Russian and they do)...and missing the kids.

I keep looking at the pictures we took of that sweet face.  I get so excited.  Packing her clothes made me warm and fuzzy.  But, I so do not want to go through this last little bit.  However, this time is going to be easier.

We have already adopted her.  The 10 day waiting period is over.  She's ours.  That takes that unknown off the table.  We already know that the language is going to be an issue and have brought 3 books to help with that.  We know that I am going to get carsick each and every time we get into a car.  No way to fix that.  It's just nice knowing.  We know that we really need far less in our carry-ons than we did the first time.  I know that we needed to bring canned refried beans, tortillas, and gluten free Bisquick in our suitcases.  I know that I enjoy spending all that time with Erin.  That part is really fun.

Our flight leaves in a few hours.  One last push to get our girl home.

What an adventure this has been!  I never in my wildest dreams ever thought I would be adopting from Eastern Europe.  What a crazy ride.  And just like my natural births...right now I don't think I ever want to do it again.  With my natural births, the moment the baby is born, and we get to see and hold that sweet new's totally worth it.  I know that's how this will be.  When we get to dress her in the shirt that says, "So Loved" and walk out of the orphanage will be totally worth it.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Waiting to Exhale

I haven't seen that movie, so if it's bad and should never be the title of a Christian mama's blog post, I apologize.

But, that's how I feel.  Like I'm holding my breath, just waiting to exhale.

We leave Sunday morning, again.  Our flight leaves at the same time as it did last time.  The 11th is full of appointments (I have no idea of what nature the appointments are...I just stand where they tell me to stand). 

Then there's 2 days of...nothing.  We have to continue with the orphanage routine.  I have to visit my daughter in that boring little room.  I am going to ask if I can feed her and change her diaper, however.  But, I'm struggling with the fact, that now not just in our hearts, but on paper too...she's our daughter.  We still can't take her out of the orphanage until the 14th.  In the adoption world, that is known as "Gotcha Day."  Bet you didn't know that this was also an educational website. 

We will fly home on the 19th. We will arrive at the same time as on December 24th.  Seems a bit surreal.  This time, however, we know more what to expect and how to plan accordingly.  That's nice.

The absolute neatest thing about this entire adoption process has been the ability to see in 3D what the Lord did for us when he adopted us into the family of Christ.  He plucked me out of the worst place.  He loved me when I didn't smell good and I begged to return to that place.  It was all I had ever known.  He showed me clean.  He showed me the sun.  He showed me brothers and sisters that have loved me and helped me to grow in him.

Even leaving Alice behind is something the Lord has done for us.  He told his followers he was leaving to go prepare a place for them.  We have been preparing for Alice!  We have the crib up and decorated all in pink.  We have been able to buy clothes for her now that we know her size.  We have a better understanding of what she will need once we get her home.  We are preparing for her to come home.

5 more days until we leave...

10 more days until we...get...ALICE!