Tuesday 26 February 2013

Then and Now

One year ago today, Chris and I were stuck in a hotel room in Washington, DC instead of flying over the Atlantic on our way to meet Katie.  We had missed our first flight because of weather issues in another city.  Really?  Our first flight?  We couldn't even get out of Nashville!  The international adoption process is so full of emotional highs and lows, it was nearly impossible for me to not feel like missing our first flight was in some way prophetic of how the rest of the trip would be.  Thankfully, as I type this now in our Tennessee kitchen with my sweet Russian snuggled in her cozy, warm big girl bed upstairs, I know that the bumps in the road on our way to meet her were merely that; bumps in the road - and tiny ones at that.  

Who could forget this woman?!  She tried so hard to get us on a flight that would allow us to connect to anywhere in Europe that day.  My crying and showing her Katie's picture may or may not have helped that cause..

I can only compare the feelings I had (and I think Chris, although he's much less open about his feelings) on the first few days of that trip last year to the feelings I had in the last couple of days before giving birth to the boys.  I was anxious, excited, nervous, scared, happy, and apprehensive.  We were so, so excited to meet Katie who, at that point, was merely a year old photograph of a smiling chubby girl.  We had absolutely no idea what sort of conditions she was living in, the status of her health, the seriousness of her delays . . . we had literally no idea what we would find when we got to Russia.  I cannot believe, in retrospect, how trusting we were through the whole process and how much we just were going with the flow.  Thinking about it now, I completely understand why people looked at me with a sort of crazy look when I would explain the process to them.  There is a whole lot of unknown that you just need to roll with!

Or this woman?!  I'm pretty sure she hated me.
A'int nobody got time for Russian orphans.

We were so unbelievably disappointed last year that we were still in the United States, and not almost to Russia.  There was much uncertainty in that twenty-four hour period:  if we would even get to meet Katie on that trip, if we were wasting about $6,000 by even making the trip, if we should scrap it and reschedule for another time - all combined with the general anxiety and emotions about meeting Katie for the first time!  I'm not sure why we just didn't check into our hotel in DC and get drunk, but we we both shockingly really had good attitudes about the situation.

So instead of being on a plane, we spent our day looking at planes.  In a museum.  And it was OK.  Were we upset?  Yes.  Did we learn a little bit about patience?  I think so.  I hope so.  Did it make finally getting to Russia a little bit sweeter?  For sure.

The beginning might have been rough, but sticking around for the ending was worth it.  

Sunday 17 February 2013

Nine Months Home!

Katie has been home for nine months now.

Nine months.

Part of me cannot believe she's been here for nine months, and part of me feels like she's been here forever.  It's hard for me to see how much she's changed, because I see her everyday.  Here are nine months of photos to show that change...I couldn't believe it when I looked at them lined up like this.

May 16, 2012

June 2012
July 17, 2012

August 25, 2012
September 2, 2012

October 31, 2012

November 19, 2012

December 8, 2012

January 2013

February 9, 2013

The changes in Katie have been so much more than just physical changes though.  She is a completely different child.  She's still spunky - that hasn't changed; however she's so much less wild, completely more trusting and very affectionate.  There is no question that she knows she is a member of our family.  She freely gives hugs and kisses.  She will come into our room and get in bed with us when she wakes up.  She wants to be held and loved on all the time.  She is so smart, working on pre-reading skills, practicing her writing, drawing shapes, identifying colors, and so much more.  She loves to read books, and she loves to go to school.  She was invited to her first birthday party by a friend at school!  She has made such incredible strides, and I am so proud of her!

Tuesday 5 February 2013

Playroom Boot Camp

One thing I was sooooo excited about when we moved to this house was the huge playroom.  I'm sure someday we'll turn it into a bedroom and split the boys up, but right now we have an enormous, 20x20 playroom.  I was so happy to have a place for all of their toys, somewhere that would just be the kids' space.  I even said, "Who cares if it's a mess?  Just close the doors and nobody has to see it."  Yeah, I don't really feel that way.  We have slowly but surely just ended up with the room always being a mess.  Like, hey it looks like someone broke in and dumped all of our junk on the floors, threw couch cushions around, and dumped the bookcases out, kind of mess.  Nobody was picking their toys up anymore.  Nobody would put anything away.  I had to beg and plead with them to pick up their.own.toys.  Um, no.  I'm not doing that.  If you can't take care of your things, you can't have them.  I will not beg and plead with my children to act like normal human beings and clean up after themselves.  

This is what the playroom looks like now.

Nice and neat right?

And empty.  Every single toy has been put in our attic.

That is every toy that they have available.  The Legos stayed, for now, as have the dishes for the kitchen and the Mr. Potato Heads.  If they don't clean them up, those are gone too.  I guess at that point they could play outside.  The WiiU stayed, but they only get 30 minutes a day on that.  The books stayed also.  They're free to read as much as they'd like!  When they can show us that they can pick up when they're done playing with something, we will slowly give the toys back.  I promise you, a lot of the toys will not come back.  We are due for a toy purge, and now is the time.  They were livid!!!  They didn't believe we would actually do it.  And I'll be honest with you, I wasn't 100% sure Chris would do it.  He surprised me!  We'll see how it goes.  I think they will start to clean up in a more appropriate way, and I also think they won't miss 75% of the toys that are gone.  

Monday 4 February 2013

Katie's first U.S. Snow

We had a snow day on Friday, which really ended up being a dud.  There was no snow.  At all.  Saturday morning though, we did have snow that hung around for longer than it took for the flakes to hit the ground.  Our children were ecstatic!  This New England transplant mama?  Notsomuch. 

We loaded everyone up with their "snow gear" (which was really, really a pitiful attempt at snow gear) and they went outside.  Katie, the Russian child who should love snow the most?  Not so impressed.  She was the last one out and the first one back in.

While we took this, David was frantically trying to build a snow fort.
We got a quarter of an inch of snow.

This little boy loved the snow.  He was the first one dressed (which in itself is a miracle) and out the door, and the last one to come in.  He stayed out after all of our other children had come in and played with the neighbor.  He loved the snow!  I think he had the bulk of the snow from our yard on his clothes when he finally came in.

Yes, she has socks on her hands.  Two pairs.  Don't judge.

She was mad that she couldn't clean the snow off of everything.  Like the ground.  She tolerated it, but she wasn't a big fan.  Like mama, like daughter.

I was excited to wear the hat I got last winter.  And I find it incredibly ironic that I wore it in Tennessee for the first time, with my Russian child, since I bought it to wear in Russia while visiting her.  I like wearing it here with her much more.  

My favorite part of playing in the snow is the snuggling and hot chocolate after.  And this up close shot makes me wonder how much braces are costing these days....

Down on the Farm

Chris' parents live on the farm on which my father-in-law grew up.  We don't get there nearly enough, and we spent the day there on Sunday.  My kids were outside nearly all day, running, playing, rolling down hills, climbing into their tree house, getting dirty, and having a fabulous time.

Of course I had to take everyone's picture . . . Someday they will all be thankful that I insist on taking pictures every.single.time. we do something.  Someday.

My father-in-law has had some health related issues in the last year, so being able to spend time with them seems even more special to me now.  He looooves those children we have so much, and it's great to see them playing on the farm with him.

Excuse me, when did they get so big and grown up?  Make.It.Stop.

These jokers were, of course, attached at the hip all day long.  And desperately need haircuts!  They are getting so big.  And I can completely see in this picture why everyone thinks they're twins!  I guess I don't see how much they look alike when they're right in front of me.  Chris was looking at some old pictures while we were there, and he found one of him with his dog when he was a child.  He showed it to Henry and Henry said, "Wait, is that me?"  Henry looks so much like Chris did as a child - it's uncanny.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day.  A big change from the snowy cold weather of the day before!

This little muffin had so much fun at the farm that at 5:30 after her dinner and a quick bath she came to me, pointed to herself, said, "Katie," and signed sleep.  She was in bed, fast asleep, before 6:00!

I hope you had a great weekend!

Sunday 3 February 2013


We met Katie almost a year ago.  
This is what she looked like the day we met her.

And this is what she looked like last weekend.

She has grown three or four inches and has gained almost ten pounds since she came home.  
She weighs about 37 pounds.

This is what Chris and I looked like two days before we met Katie.

I remember trying to only pick the pictures that didn't make me look fat.  
Um, it's not the pictures honey.

This is what we look like today.

Chris has lost twenty pounds, and I've lost forty. 
I've lost more pounds than Katie weighs.

That's craaaazy for me to think about when I pick her up.

We've still got some more to go, but I'm so happy with our progress so far.  We are making choices that will have a lasting effect for our family, which is exactly why we wanted to do it.  

I want our children to have healthy eating and lifestyle habits, and they're not going to do that if we don't model it for them.  They can't make good choices if we're setting a terrible example.  They won't be active if we sit around all day and tell them to go play outside.

We've both had to clean out our closets and get rid of more than half of our clothes.  I never thought I'd be so excited to get rid of some pants!  (There's a very funny picture of me with my whole body in one leg of my formerly favorite black pants.  Maybe some day I'll be crazy enough to post it.)

I can't wait to see where our family is six months from now!