Saturday, March 31, 2012

Photo A Day - Whew!

I can't believe it - I posted everyday in March. That was my goal and I'm so happy I stuck to it. I really wanted to post about E's gotcha trip - it just didn't happen last year once we got home and it was so important to me to capture those wonderful memories. I hope that one day E. will read through this blog and catch a sense of just how momentous this past year has been - what an amazing blessing she truly grateful I am to be her forever mama. She is precious to me.
Last weekend we had a party to celebrate one year home - her one year gotcha party.
Hanging with the girls.
Proudly sitting next to her matrioshka (I have no idea how to spell it) nesting dolls she received from mama.
Forever family :)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Photo A Day - Artwork

I have to admit I am not much of a saver, but I want do want to preserve some of E's lovely artwork. I decided to take some pictures so they will last forever :)
Emily was doing a letter a week with the kids - B for butterfly and beans and buttons :)
C for caterpillar, and circles
The birthday card that E. colored for me.
A turkey made from E's hands and feet. My keys are in the photo so I could remember just how little her hands and feet really were. :)
A Valentine Froggy

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Photo A Day - Open Gym

We had a great time at the open gym this week....she loves going to this place. She is so busy the entire time - it's hard to get her to pose for a are some of the photos

doing a happy dance :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Photo A Day - The Cow

One year ago, when we arrived at the Courtyard in Moscow, we met a very nice bellman who helped us with our luggage. He spoke with E. in Russian and presented her with a gift...

I don't know if you can see just how disgusting this stuffed cow is? It looked like it had been rolled over by multiple trucks on the street. Ewwwwww.....
So E. played with it for awhile and when she went to bed that night I promptly stuffed it under the bed...easily left behind (ummmmmm...forgotten) the next morning.
We asked to be moved to a different room as the one we were in had no external!
We got all settled in our new and much improved room with large windows to let in the cold crisp air. There was a knock at the door and a maid, who spoke no English, presented us with a discarded (ummmmm...lost) item....

Drat! Followed...E. played with the disgusting (ummmm....lovely) gift for awhile and once again, that night, I stuffed it under the bed. I figured it would never work to put it in the trash - they would pull it out. So under the bed it went. The next afternoon we returned to a freshly clean room and....

The COW~ sitting sweetly on E's bed. After having a really hearty laugh about it, we decided it could not be left behind. So I begrudgingly packed the filthy thing along with the dirty laundry and brought it home. I have to say it cleaned up really well - it's actually black and WHITE, once you remove the dirt! And E. does really like the thing

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Photo A Day - Mud

Playing in the mud at Emily's. Have I mentioned what a saint she is? I'm so grateful she doesn't mind mud - I know I do! :) I know E. loves this kind of play.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Photo A Day - Home

One year ago today we made it home. After the longest 24 hours of our lives, in transit, arriving home was sweeter than I ever dreamed.
E. was such a trouper! I am amazed at her resilience - especially when I consider how low I was running on resilience that day. Without Becky I never would have made it - and I will forever be grateful for her love, support, encouragement, understanding and bravery that day.
After a tremendous melt-down (E's not mine:), waiting for the plane in Moscow, and a huge melt-down over the seat belts she settled in for the rest of the 12 hour flight to DC and the 3 hour flight home. I really thought someone might take her away from me in the ariport due to her volume, kicking and screaming. I truly believe that something in her little spirit sensed the enormity of what was happening - leaving the only home she had ever known.
This was her once she finally gave in to the seat belt and sleep....peace.
Thank the Lord for enough miles to fly home in business class.
Today we celebrate being home a year. With the hope of returning to E's first home someday. God is so faithful.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Photo A Day - Moscow Day 2

One year ago was day two in Moscow, and Becky and I were determined to see some of it. After our trip back to the US Embassy, where we had successfully obtained E's passport with US Visa and the mysterious, thick, brown envelope - along with very strict instructions not to let it out of our site and not to, under penalty of I don't know what, open it! We really wanted to make it to Red Square. It was cold, but sunny when we left the hotel. We bundled E. up and she barely fit in the little umbrella stroller I brought with me. She seemed very pleased to be venturing out and she sang to herself as we walked along.

We started the walk and as we got onto the main thoroughfare the wind started to pick up and it started to snow - it got worse and worse the farther we walked. We made it within about 2 blocks of Red Square and finally decided we'd better say "uncle" and return to the room :(

Do you see the couple in their wedding garb? BRRRRRR - I can't imagine being out in my wedding gown on a day like this. In the distance you can see Red Square - that's how close we got!
Bummer. I know this may sound strange to some, but I felt this spiritual connection to the storm - as though God was turning us around - I have no idea why or what He was turning us away from? But I definitely sensed we were to go back to the room - maybe it was too much for E. - too overstimulating? I don't know, but I definitely felt a peace the minute we turned back. I'm still disappointed we didn't make it to see St. Basil's Cathedral and the Kremlin and many other sites, but I know it was the right thing to return to our little nest in the hotel room. Someday, I hope E. and I will return together - did I mention I hope we go in the Summer? :)

The view from our room - we had really nice big windows.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Photo A Day - Moscow

One year ago, was pretty uneventful in Moscow. We had our exit exam with a Dr. It was at the same clinic where I endured the delightful 8 Dr. medical exam :) We also went to the US embassy to file initial paperwork for the visa needed and to apply for the big, brown, mysterious envelope that we would take with us to the US.
E. really struggled with getting in and out of the car - it was absolute terror for her - she was so afraid I was going to leave - she would start crying as soon as we parked. It was so sad - with the language barrier and only really being with me for 24 hours I could do nothing to convince her that I would not leave.
Other than those two trips we stayed in the hotel and just hung out. She played with the toys I had brought and we just relaxed and enjoyed each other's company.

Taking kuka (dolly) for a ride.

After a lovely bath, she crashed! This girl can sleep - from night one until now...she is an amazing sleeper and mommy is ever so grateful.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Photo A Day - Gotcha!

One year ago I woke up to a cold, wintry Vladimir. No evidence of Spring here. We had breakfast in the little restaurant at the Orion and anxiously awaited our driver to take us to the baby house. I wonder what E's last breakfast was like. I really couldn't even begin to imagine the depth of grief that leaving the baby house that morning would elicit in her. It was the only home she had known - and despite being an orphanage many of the caregivers seemed to genuinely love E. and they did the very best they could for her - with what they were given. Living in a family is what we were created for and it is infinitely better for E, but leaving her home was heart wrenching. And I believe I have seen her grieve that loss over the past year. When they brought her to me, in the music room, it was clear she knew something big was happening - I know she must have seen children leave with their forever families before - and she wanted nothing to do with it. She wailed, quite literally, as they stripped her down out of all the clothes, and she changed into the outfit I brought for her - the first of many outfits that would be all hers... Lydia, the caregiver I met on the very first day was the one who helped to change her. It was so clear to me that she and E. had a very special bond. Lydia was tearful as she said goodbye to E. Lydia hugged her many times and whispered sweet things to her, encouraged her - I so wish I knew what she had said, but I imagine it was precious and comforting. E. was leaving the only family she knew and she knew it. Not a dry eye in the room. It is always so interest when deep sorrow is the only path to great joy and this was one of those days.
I have quite a few pictures of that transition time, but they are so raw and so, intimate, really, that I don't feel they are mine to share - they are E's to look at and remember in her own way.
I will share this sweet picture of E. with Lydia, on the left, and Tania - the sweet music teacher on the right. I love these two women and I believe they loved and cared for E. in a very special way.

The intensity of the crying and sobbing really only lasted until we were in the van and then I became the safe one...E. quieted and snuggled into me as we made the four hour drive back to Moscow! Let the joy begin - not that the sorrow wouldn't return, it did, it has, it will, but the joy just keeps getting bigger. Thank you Jesus for the gift of E.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Photo A Day - Suzdal

One year ago, my friend Becky and I spent our first day in Russia. The day before "gotcha day"! I was really hoping to be able to visit E. that day and spend some time with her - hoping to ease the pain of the next day, but that wasn't to be.
We did get to spend a few hours in nearby Suzdal. Despite the snow and bitter temperatures, it is a lovely place full of beautiful churches and amazing history. Suzdal was once the capitol of Russian religious activity, long ago, when Vladimir was the capitol of Russia. My coordinator was a wonderful guide and we loved her stories and even her constant insistence on posing us to take pictures. :) We really had a lovely day. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to see some more of E's heritage and I look forward to the day when we can return together to explore further...hopefully in the Summer!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Photo A Day - Random

So, E. found a worm....yuck! I can't tell if the look on her face is one of delight or disgust?

Maybe a little of both.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Photo A Day - Priceless

fudge-cicle lipstick...$1.99
dress up cheerleader outfit...$2 (from a garage sale)
playing outside in the fort at Emily's....

priceless :)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Photo A Day - One Year ago

I just re-read my post from 3-19-11 here - I remember that day so vividly...and here we are one amazing year later. My heart is full again - with gratitude. I still can't always believe that I get to be E's mommy. As I re-read my post and remembered all of my prayer requests - it is so encouraging to see how God answered prayer over and over again. My dear friend Becky traveled with me on our "gotcha" was her first trip out of the country! Can you imagine? Her very first trip away from the US - was to Vladimir...she was so brave! And such an encouragement and support to me - I never could have made it without her. We had such a wonderful time together - it was an unforgettable trip.
We traveled through DC and then Munich finally arriving in Moscow. Our connection in Munich was super tight and we did run a bit of the way to make the flight. But we made it with all of our luggage in tact - only one minor problem - the handle of my roller bag suitcase never went back down again after I first rolled it to the aerotel that night. I have to say everyone who helped me with that bag fought with it and no one was ever able to get it to close back up :) Oh well - that was the biggest glitch so I would say I'll take it. More about our gotcha trip in days to come....I neglected to post many of the details a year ago and I want to document it for E. I want her to know what an incredible week that changing. I'd do it again in a heartbeat...the whole four years of wait were worth it.
Here's what my bed looked like one year ago...

Maybe that explains why the handle got stuck in the out position :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Photo A Day - Zoo

Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous, spring-like day around here. Temps in the 70's, beautiful blue sky - just amazing. E. and I took the opportunity to head for the zoo. She loves the giraffes, the monkeys and the polar bear. We had a great time.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Photo A Day - New Drummer

Last night we had a band rehearsal to prepare for some new Easter Music. Only, our drummer, Keith, couldn't make it. We had a fill in drummer.....

Look out Keith :)

I think he would have been proud.
Mama is actually praying she takes up a....welll.....shall we just say a quieter instrument. Does such a thing exist? :)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Photo A Day - Last Year

This time last year I was counting down the days to get back to Vladimir and whisk my little girl away. Praying that this sad little face would soon start to light up! What a difference a year makes!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Photo A Day - E. and Lucy

Quite often in the evening, my furry daughter, Lucy, will whine and wait at the top of the steps. She wants me to come up to bed. On this particular night, I hear the whining and discover this adorable duo, whining and waiting at the top of the steps :) Come upstairs mama. Who needs a clean kitchen? Right?