Bloom and Grow

So obviously, blogging has not been a priority for us the past few months.  However, I thought it would be nice to at least post a few photos.  It’s been a lot of fun with the girls growing and learning.  The coming of Spring reminds me of how the girls keep on blooming and growing before my eyes.  One of the songs I sing to them at night is Eidelweiss from the Sound of Music.  Yes, now that I am thoroughly outnumbered in the house, I finally watched the movie and it is actually really cute.  Anyway, part of the song’s chorus says, “may you bloom and grow forever”.  That is my hope and prayer for our girls.  So in the future girls, when Spring comes around, remember your Daddy is thinking of you.

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Adoption Day – Looking Back on August 13, 2012

I realize this is NOVEMBER…but I don’t want to miss the opportunity to blog about an important milestone for our family – our one year anniversary of “Adoption Day.” I thought I would begin by doing a recap of our actual Adoption Day August 13, 2012. I don’t ever want to forget the details of that day. I have to admit while we were living out “adoption day” I wasn’t thinking much about the “moments” and enormity of the day…rather I was a first time mom who was completely terrified, overwhelmed and yet so happy to finally walk out of two orphanages WITH our daughters in tow!

So…we finally set out for our 4th and final trip to Russia. Even though we were very familiar with the trip by now, everything was different this time. Our suitcases were full of little girl clothes, toddler toiletries and accessories. We were bringing our girls home! We were close to missing our flight from Moscow to Kaliningrad because we were trying to report that our stroller we checked in St. Louis had not arrived. Trying to report lost luggage is a pain anytime, but try doing it a Russian airport. We filled out paperwork that was in Russian, walked back and forth and back and forth between several different counters. We even had to get our “report” “stamped” or something. Anyway, we really didn’t have much hope of ever seeing that stroller again…BUT it did arrive at the Kaliningrad airport two days later! Anyway…by the time we arrived at the Moscow Hotel in Kaliningrad we were exhausted as usual. Upon arriving we also found out that our interpreter Natasha was out of town. This was a huge blow to us. She had been with us throughout all of our visits and provided us with the best communication between us and the orphanages and us and the girls. To top things off, we were given a VERY tiny room with no place for the girls. I could barely walk around the bed. We had spent almost 20 nights in this hotel and we had never had a room so small or inadequate. At this point, I laid on the bed and cried. It was all too much. I was overwhelmed and remember thinking for a second…maybe we shouldn’t do this – meaning pick up the girls the next day! Thankfully, Brett stepped in and took control. He got our hotel room changed to a larger room and we went to get something to eat. A couple of hours later, we were ready for bed and reflecting on how that was our last night as a family of two.

We woke up on August 13, 2012 and got ready. Our agency worker had mentioned that we were supposed to bring treats for each of the orphanages to have a little “party” before each of the girls left. So…we headed over to our supermarket that we visited so much throughout our visits and tried to pick out cakes and candy for each of the orphanages. We also picked out two little balloons to give the girls…something so little…but those balloons provided special moments on adoption day! Anyway…it was time to head out for Lydia’s orphanage. When we arrived, we stopped at the Orphanage Director’s office first. The Director, Ludmilla, was very encouraging and mentioned how we had persevered through a lot of adversity to reach that day. It was also mentioned that Lydia had an upset stomach that morning and some diarrhea from nerves.

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Brett and I both wondered how much the girls had been prepared for adoption day and if they really had any idea what was happening. A year later, I believe that Lydia understood a lot more at the time than I realized. Anyway, we arrived at Lydia’s group and all the children headed into their dining area to share the treats we had brought. During that time, we talked with the Director a little bit more about the food Lydia was used to and her “schedule.” We had been told that we would receive detailed information about both of these things, but when we asked it was just a few bits and pieces here and there. I do remember that the Director said that they didn’t feed the children pork of any kind and thought pork was horrible for children!

After the little “party” I took Lydia into a room by ourselves to change her into her new clothes. I was so nervous about helping her get dressed and doing her hair! It seems silly now, but at the time I just wanted her to feel comfortable as possible and beautiful! The balloon was a hit right away. She loved it!

IMG_5486 IMG_5487 IMG_5489 IMG_5491 IMG_5493 IMG_5494 IMG_5496 IMG_5499It was time to leave her section of the orphanage. I don’t know what I expected, but the good byes were quick and few. The two workers in the pictures both said good-bye but I don’t remember the other children being around. We headed up to the front of the orphanage and said our final good-byes. Lydia took my hand the whole way…up to the front of the orphanage and out the door. She didn’t hesitate when it was time to get in Sasha’s car. She seemed a little nervous, but mostly excited.

IMG_5500 IMG_5505 IMG_5507 IMG_5512 IMG_5518Then…we were off! She seemed to enjoy the car ride back to Kaliningrad and was constantly taking in her surroundings. It was just the three of us and our driver, Sasha, in the car. Sasha didn’t speak much English and we spoke little Russian so we immediately were forced to begin communicating through motions and broken languages. This would become our normal over the next few months. Once, we got back to the hotel…we were really on our own! Just us and Lydia! What a feeling! We looked at books back in the hotel room and each laid on our bed and watched Russian Hello Kitty with her. It was Lydia’s time to be an only/older child for three hours :)! I am sure I took her and put her on the potty several times too! The girls wore pull-ups during those early days but I was still constantly putting them on the potty!

IMG_5519 IMG_5522 IMG_5523Then we headed to lunch. We just went to a restaurant in our hotel that Brett and I had visited several times before. It was an epic failure. She didn’t eat hardly anything. We tried borscht soup and pizza…two foods that we now know she likes. I think it was a combination of her being overwhelmed, her nerves and a cold/virus she was struggling with. I was a little discouraged, but we moved on and got ready to pick up our little Nora!

When we arrived at Nora’s orphanage, we were told very little, but I just remember that we had to wait quite a while outside in the back playground. Lydia enjoyed playing on the playground and I think it was familiar to her since that orphanage had been her home only 11 months prior.

IMG_5525 IMG_5530 IMG_5532Finally, it was time for Nora to arrive! We were so excited to see our little Nora and also for the girls to be reunited! Lydia also seemed to be excited about this! Lydia had lit up each time we mentioned Nora’s name or showed her pictures so we couldn’t wait to see them together. Well…their reunion was a little awkward…but priceless none the less! I just don’t think the girls, especially Lydia, knew how to express their feelings at that point. Nora was happy to see us, especially me. She kept saying “MaMa”. They both were a little shy at first with each other, but once we went in the little garden house to change Nora, Lydia made sure that Nora got her special balloon and was excited for Nora to get her new clothes on too! Again, I was a nervous mommy and trying to change Nora in an outside shed! We got our one souvenir from the orphanages…Nora’s underwear. They ended up in our bag by mistake. I still have them and even though they are too small now, I can’t part with them.

IMG_5537 IMG_5541 IMG_5542 IMG_5545 IMG_5547 IMG_5552 IMG_5557We had brought the treats for Nora’s party, but her group of children came outside when she did, so the workers said they would share the treats later. We headed up to the Director’s office, but I don’t remember her being there. It was an Assistant Director and the Doctor who had been in court all three times with us and who we had seen on our previous visits. It came out through broken English/Russian that the Doctor had been on call in the Emergency Room when Lydia was brought in a few weeks earlier for swallowing a ruble (Russian money). What a small world! I think we signed some papers and then it was time to go! On our way out, we stopped and took a couple pictures of Nora’s area. One thing I remember seeing was Nora’s crib. It was the one without sheets or anything on it because she wasn’t going to be sleeping there that night…she would be with us! We also stopped to get a picture with a few of the kids and a worker. At this point we also got our first family photo!

IMG_5561 IMG_5564 IMG_5565 IMG_5567 IMG_5568 IMG_5569 IMG_5570 IMG_5571 IMG_5572 IMG_5574 IMG_5576 IMG_5579I should also mention that a lot of the workers were also excited to see Lydia since she had previously been at Nora’s orphanage before she aged out. Then it was time to go! The girls were excited to be in the car and I remember Lydia holding on to Nora’s hand/seat most of the time…stepping into her big sister role right away. The next couple of hours were a blur. We had to rush the girls to a place to get passport pictures and then I believe that Brett went with Natasha to go to more government offices before they closed and Sasha took the girls and I back to the hotel. It was my first time by myself! When Brett got back, we went to dinner at a little cafe across the street from the hotel. We each held a girl on our lap (no booster seats) and tried to feed them supper. Lydia barely ate again and Nora did okay. It was comical I am sure all the way from us ordering, to helping the girls eat! By that time, it had been a huge day! We headed back to the hotel and did our first bath! Brett did the honors and the girls LOVED bath time! Then we watched a little more Hello Kitty in Russian and started our bedtime routine! For the most part, our bedtime routine hasn’t changed much since that first time. It wasn’t something Brett and I talked much about ahead of time…it just sort of happened. We read two books, prayed with the girls and then said our good nights. They slept together on a pull out couch. Both girls slept really well the first night. Nora woke up crying once (I think it was that night too), but easily went back to sleep. I think they were both EXHAUSTED from their big day! Becoming daughters is a big deal :)! Brett and I barely slept…especially me. I just kept checking on them and at one point was awake for hours just trying to take it all in…our daughters sleeping away on the other side of the room! God orchestrated that day from the beginning of time! I am so thankful for our adoption day and never want to forget it!

IMG_5580 IMG_5584 IMG_5589To be continued…with reflections from one year later!

Play and Plays

The Faller girls invited the girls and I to attend three plays this summer at the Little Theatre in Sullivan. All three shows were for children – Pinocchio, Dora and Snow White. They plays were fantastic and we had so much fun making a day of it each time with picnics, lunches, parks and even swimming.

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Sam and Frodo

On our way back from Branson, we picked up two sheep – Sam and Frodo. Was this planned you may ask? Yes. Our new house has a pasture and we had decided to try out sheep. The pasture had been set up for larger animals so we had ordered some sheep/goat fencing and hoped for the best! Brett had found a Southdown Babydoll Sheep (the breed we decided on) breeder near Springfield, MO so it worked out to pick them up on the way back from vacation. We felt a little bit like the Griswalds in our Jeep with a luggage carrier on top, a large dog crate in the back, two car seats, the girls and us. Sam and Frodo did really well on the way home though and it definitely was a trip to remember. It was a little surreal and overwhelming when we picked them up.

The first couple of weeks were a little rough and included lots of time putting up fencing and several “escapes” by the boys, but we are enjoying Sam and Frodo so much now. They do a great job keeping the pasture “mowed” and are a part of our family. The girls love to feed them and help change their water, etc. We enjoy watching them out our window and hearing their “baas” when we are outside. They have gotten more and more comfortable with us and are fun to interact with. Enough words…here are Sam and Frodo!

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Daddy and the girls!

Daddy and the girls!

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"Farmer" Nora

“Farmer” Nora

Finally home...now just have to get them out of the Jeep!

Finally home…now just have to get them out of the Jeep!

The ride home!

The ride home!

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First days home and warming up to us.

First days home and warming up to us.

Viewing the pastures at the breeders.

Viewing the pastures at the breeders.

Just getting started

Just getting started

 

They love grain!

They love grain!

4th of July at the Lake

We were so excited to get away for a few days and enjoy time with friends. Our good friends, the Krugs, had asked us to join them at Table Rock Lake/Branson over the 4th of July. We headed down on Wednesday and came back on Sunday. The trip back will be its own blog post…but for now VACATION! We had soooo much fun…all of us! We swam, swam and swam some more…pools and the lake. We enjoyed boat rides and watching fireworks over the lake. Jenee’s parents even watched the five older kids (ages 3 – 8) one night so we could all have a date night out. Everything was new and exciting to the girls. After a stressful June, it was just what our little family needed..time just to enjoy each other (and friends) and make memories.

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Lydia’s Birthday Party

We had postponed Lydia’s birthday party in order to attend my Grandpa Weber’s services earlier in the month. June 30th was the day we finally got things together enough to have her “big birthday” party. Lydia was very patient in waiting and didn’t give us too hard of a time about it. We originally planned to have the party at our local park, but it was booked so we went ahead and did the party at our new house. Everyone that was able to come were troopers about our not-completely-put-together house and the torrential downpour halfway through the party. At the end of the day, Lydia’s smiles made it all worth it and we were so happy to celebrate our Lydia with everyone.

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