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aaaah ha!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I think we've figured her out.
We've discovered her little secret.
Call me crazy but I think Maddie can read lips.
We've been wondering for awhile why there was such a huge disparity between the moderate hearing loss showed in her auditory test and her seeming ability to hear everything.
Tonight we finally stumbled upon the secret.
We were playing the nightly 'where is' game.
Where is Mama?
Where is Daddy?
Where is sabaka?
Where is Walla?...when Shad leaned in close and whispered 'Where is Nick.'
She quickly pointed him out.
'See,' Shad said. 'The tests were wrong.'
'No,' I argued. 'You weren't sitting there. You didn't see how she reacted and didn't react to the sounds. She didn't hear them. The tests were right. Here...I'll show you.'
So I proceeded to whisper questions at a lower and lower level.
Still, she kept answering correctly.
And then the light bulb finally went on.
'She's lip reading,' I told Shad.
I asked the same question again, this time with my hand in front of my face.
Maddie just stared at me.
I tried it again.
She looked at me and then at Shad, as if to say, 'When is she going to ask the question.'
Shad was dumbfounded.
I was amazed.
I asked the same question, this time without uttering a sound, just moving my lips.
'Where is daddy?'
She pointed straight at him.
Wow! My kid can lip read. No wonder the orphanage director thought she could hear just about everything.
She had them all snookered...
bamboozled...
completely fooled.
I told you she was one smart cookie!

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you've got to be kidding me

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I am totally peeved.
I mean completelyinfuriated.
I'm steamed...
angry...
enraged...
fuming, furious, incensed, indignant, mad, raging, bent, beside myself, boiling, crazed, hacked, hopping mad, livid, mad, rabid, raging, smoking, steamed, vehement, burned up, exasperated, irate, miffed, tee'd off, exasperated, irritated, po'd, provoked, riled...
Give me some more words here people!
I need help!
Aaaaaaaagh!
Okay, let me tell you what has me so torqued.
(Wow, I came up with another word!)
The school district has decided to stop offering bus service to kids who live on dirt roads until the roads dry out.
Can you believe it?!
There are exactly FOUR roads in this school district that are paved...and only maybe five percent of the kids who ride the bus actually live on a paved road. Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I doubt I'm THAT far off.
So why am I all peeved when we live in town?
My babysitter lives in the country.
On a dirt road.
If I want my kids to ride the bus to the babysitters after school I would have to accept that they would be dropping my nine, seven and six year old children off on a HIGHWAY to find their own way to the babysitters house!
How asinine is that?!
UGH!
If safety is their main concern how can they justify dropping a kid off on a HIGHWAY?! Imagine, if you will, six year old Nick climbing off the school bus at the intersection of Old Hwy 9 and Cemetery Road and hoofing it a half a mile in mud so deep the school bus won't go through, until he gets to his babysitters house.
Yea. I can't imagine it either...BECAUSE IT WOULDN'T HAPPEN!
First of all he wouldn't go to the babysitters...he would probably go check out the old cemetery for awhile, then walk through the pasture to check out the cows and end up taking a short cut through the woods...arriving at the babysitters house about the same time I do - two hours later.
Ooooor, he'd go ahead and walk to the babysitters house, all the while stepping in every mud puddle along the way, taking off his shoes and socks as they get soaked, and eventually getting stuck in the quagmire I almost got the van stuck in last night.
That's if he doesn't try to cross the busy highway and go play at a friends' house!
And it's not like we have any other transportation options.
Shad works in a town 25 miles in one direction and I work in a town 20 miles in the other direction.
So if I don't want my children to be dropped off to play on the highway, I'm going to have to change my work schedule to come pick the kids up from school every day.
Remember that plan to spend more time with Maddie during the next month? We would have mornings together, just the two of us.
Yea. Just chuck that one right out the window...
right along with the bus schedule.

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back to work

Monday, February 25, 2008

Today was the day.
I went back to work...full-time.
The good news is Maddie did just fine in her first day of daycare.
She did hit one kid over the head with a lincoln log - but in my biased opinion, I think he deserved it. She also had trouble taking her nap, but other than that, day one went off without a hitch.
Tomorrow she'll stay home all day with her daddy and then for the next few weeks she will spend Wednesday through Friday mornings with me and then head to daycare for lunch, her nap and a couple hours of playtime with the kids.
To make that tradeoff, I'm working two 12-hour days on Monday and Tuesday.
I'm so glad to work for a company who gives me that flexibility.
It is worth it's weight in gold.
Speaking of thankful, I'm also thankful for my co-workers.
Guess who got surprised this morning with a food day and shower?
Me.
It was so cool!
I walked in to find a HUGE banner welcoming me back...along with an enormous table of food and a ton gift bags.
Awwww...they missed me.
And they think Maddie is adorable - which of course, she is.
It was wonderful.
My co-workers are the best.
I did pretty well with letting Maddie go to daycare today. Maybe it's because I needed the break, or because Shad dropped her off and I didn't have to do the goodbye stuff, or maybe it's just because I know I don't have a choice - I have to work.
I don't know.
Whatever it was, the day went pretty smoothly.
I'll take it.
More good news - the kids are healthy.
That's always a reason to celebrate.
Anya woke up without a fever this morning so off to school she went. And so far Alek has steered clear of the dreaded fever virus.
How does he do that?!
HEEEEEY!
If I could bottle that I would get rich.
And then I wouldn't have to work.
I'll get right on that! ;>)

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another one bites the dust...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

...and another one's gone...
...and another one's gone...
...another one bites the dust.
Anya is down for the count.
She succombed this morning to the dreaded fever disease.
I'm running out of Motrin.
Someone send in reinforcements!

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virus 4 - humans 0

Friday, February 22, 2008

Four down...

Two to go.
The nasty fever bug has claimed four victims in our house and I'm sure has it's eyes set on the other two. It's just a matter of time.
I brought the bug in, had it a day and handed it off to Maddie who then graciously gave it to her daddy who shared with Nick. I thought Anya was coming down with it, but so far she and Alek have steered clear.
I'm sure Anya is next.
Who knows about Alek? He seems to have immunity made of steel. I can't remember the last time he was truly sick.
Of course now that I've said that he'll be next.
Sigh.
Is spring even planning on showing up this year?
We have been buried in snow since we left for Ukraine in December. Yes, I missed most of it during December and January, but I have to tell you...
I'M SICK OF WINTER!!!
And I usually LOVE winter.
I think it's just that this year it's not showing any signs of leaving...and that means the yucky bugs won't be leaving any time soon either.
UGH!

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houston, we have a problem

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Life with Maddie has been difficult lately.
Not unmanageable...just difficult.

It all started Saturday night when she woke up with what can only assume was a night terror. The girl was absolutely petrified and wouldn't go anywhere near her bed after that.
She still won't.
It must have been some nightmare and I'm sure it was only magnified by the fact the poor thing had a fever of 102.5.
(That was the day we took her to the E.R.)

The dream must have had something to do with blankets, because now she won't go anywhere near one.
Not even close.
If she accidently comes into contact with one she will start screaming at the top of her lungs. And I have to be very clear about this...it's not a 'I don't like blankets and you can't make me use one type of cry,' it's a 'that blanket is going to eat my feet, get it away, get it away, get it away....' type of scream.
There is terror there.
It breaks my heart.
And there's not much we can do to help. We've tried reassuring her that it's alright. She's safe. Everything will be fine. But how do you convince a four-year-old that everything will be fine, when four weeks ago they were snatched from the only home they've ever known...and we don't even speak her language.
If this were one of the other kids we could have said...
'Nick, you're going to be fine. Mom and Dad are right here. We're not going anywhere. Everything will be fine. It was just a dream. Dreams aren't real, even if they feel like they are. Now, let me rock you for a little bit and then I'm going to put you back in your bed. I'll stay here until you go to sleep. Don't worry. Everything is fine.'
All Maddie hears is a muffled version of 'blah blah blah blaaaah blah. Blah blah-blah, blaaah blah.'
Sigh.
Five days later she is still worried about the blanket. She hasn't used one since and we have had to resort to using the really warm footie pajamas so she won't freeze at night. She also wouldn't go anywhere near her bed until just the last couple of days. She only went in her room to get dressed and even then she whimpered the entire time.
We finally took the toddler bedframe away and just put the mattress on the floor. Now she'll happily go to bed, but Maddie rocks violently in her sleep, so she ends up falling on to the floor.
And the side rails aren't there to protect her.
We've found her a couple of times banging her head up against the wall. (How the girl doesn't wake up I'll never know.)
Last night I moved the mattress away from the wall and out into the middle of the room. At three this morning I heard a banging noise, went in and she was off the mattress completely and banging her head on the floor.
I don't know what we're going to do. We may have to bring her in with us and see if it calms the rocking at all.
In other news...
I'm declaring victory.
Yes, it may be a little too soon, but I am officially declaring Maddie potty-trained.
Big deal, you say? Everybody is potty trained by the time their four? Especially the kids out of the orphanage system.
Oh, contrair mon ami!
(Did I spell that right?)

Maddie was not.
At least I don't think so.
When I went to pick her up from the orphanage I took a pair of underwear with me...no diaper. When I got her back to the apartment and took her in to use the facilities, I found they had put a diaper on her.
Hmmmm...
So I decided to go with the flow and just keep her in diapers until I got home. No use trying to start training in the middle of all that mess.
We started truly training two weeks ago and now two weeks later I consider her done.
And I will have you know that I am especially bad at potty training.
I'm no good.
No need to tell me otherwise.
I have three kids to prove it.
All of them weren't potty trained until after their third birthday. And so much for that notion that girls are easier.It's BUNK! Anya was the last one (age wise) to get trained and it was in no way easy.

I haven't quite had the courage to put underwear on Maddie full time yet, (aka - away from the house) but she's ready. I just need to take that leap.
Now before you give me any credit at all in potty training her in such a short period of time, let me say I imagine she probably was trained, for the most part, at the orphanage. She just didn't understand her body signals. Once she figured that out (and she's one smart cookie) it was all downhill.
Still...I'll gladly take some of the credit! ;>)
The only problem with little miss thing being potty trained is she insists on taking me to the latrine with her every time.
And every time is every 15-20 minutes.
There's no bladder issues, we've had them checked out. She just likes going potty.

Sooooo....
If you need me in the next few days. Check the ladies' room. I'll be in there with my newest edition of 'Parent' magazine looking for tips on how to get my four-year-old out of the privy.
Sigh.
I didn't think I would have to worry about this until she was a teenager!

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NO PLAYING BALL IN THE HOUSE!!!

Monday, February 18, 2008

If I have to yell say this one more time I think I may go nuts!
What is it with boys and playing ball in the house?
I've been telling them since they were preschoolers to not play ball in the house. And now they have Maddie doing it!
Believe me, it's not like I'm a wishy washy parent. Just ask the kids, I'm very strict.
We have rules...they know the rules...and they're expected to obey them.
And one of those rules is...
NO PLAYING BALL IN THE HOUSE!
I've tried everything...
time out...
grounding...
taking the balls away...
banning all balls to the garage (but somehow they keep finding more)...
spank!ng...
all of the above at the same time...
Nothing is sinking in!
What else is there?
AUGH!

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motrin, tylenol, motrin, tylenol...repeat

Sunday, February 17, 2008

We've got a yucky bug in our house and it's found Maddie an easy target.
Poor thing. It's just a high fever and aches - no other symptoms, but Maddie is miserable.
She spent most of the night tossing and turning when she wasn't crying - she kept most of the household up into the wee hours this morning.
Of course this is the first time since we adopted Maddie that she's been sick...and it's always an adventure to figure out how best to handle your new child's illnesses.
The other three kids usually do pretty well with getting some medicine and crawling into bed with mom and dad to sleep through the rest of the night.
Maddie SCREAMED. Most of the night.
Needless to say, none of us got much sleep...especially Shad who was the trooper and stayed downstairs with her on the couch to try and let the rest of us get some sleep.
I LOVE that man!
Then this afternoon she scared me.
Only three hours after her last dose of ibuprofen, her fever spiked to 104.5...UNDER THE ARM.
I wasn't taking any chances. I called Shad, who is on call this weekend to let him know what we were doing. Then I piled all four kids into the minivan and drove through the snowstorm to take Maddie to the emergency room.
I'm not usually the rush the emergency room kind of mom, but if my kid's temp is that high AFTER taking the medicine, I don't take chances.
Of course by the time we actually got in to see anyone enough time had passed that it was safe to give her a dose of tylenol...and of course the temp came down to an acceptable 100.9. But then by the time they had run the flu and strep tests, the temp was back up to 101.6.
They gave her some motrin and sent us home.
No explanation as to what it might be or how long to expect it to last. All I know is it's not flu and it's not strep, the doctor thinks it may be an ear infection - even though Maddie doesn't have any external ears.
We are home now and Maddie is doing fine. She took a little bit of a nap, ate a little bit and has been drinking fluids like a champ. She hasn't hesitated to take the medicine and is starting to act more like her old self.
But now Anya is starting to show signs of a fever.
This parenting stuff is hard. Especially on no sleep.
I'm hoping and praying for a good night's rest.
I think we're going to need it.

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WE'VE MOVED

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Now that the journey to find Maddie is complete, please join us at our new digs...

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cleaning up

Friday, February 15, 2008

WARNING: This is cute. Too cute. You're going to laugh. Don't say you haven't been warned. And please ignore my messy house.


video

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zdnyom razhdyeneeya!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My little girl became a big girl on Wednesday.
Where did the time go?! ;>)

It seems like just yesterday I was meeting her for the first time.
Oh yea. ;)
Sorry...I couldn't resist. I've said it for my other three kids. I can't leave Maddie out! :)
What a day we had.
If it were any other kid...the day would have stunk.
But for Maddie...it was perfect.
Well, almost.
She started out the morning waking up to find her room full of balloons...or bayoooooons, as she calls them. It's a tradition at our house to fill the birthday kid's bedroom full of balloons after they've gone to bed for the night. We've had some close calls in the eight years we've been pulling this off...but so far haven't gotten caught! :)
She LOVED the balloons and would have played with them all day, but we had places to go, people to see.
We came downstairs and let her have her BIG birthday present. The others would have to wait until after dinner. When she saw the bike, she let out a squeal, flew across the room, jumped on and promptly motioned that she wanted a push.
So, of course, her big brother, Alek obliged. That kid will do ANYTHING for Maddie. It's so fun to watch. They made several hundred trips around the loop between the kitchen, living room, den and hallway before I finally got them to stop long enough to eat breakfast.
After breakfast we took the kids to school and then came home to get ready for the stinky part.
The doctor's visit.
What was I thinking, scheduling this thing on her birthday?!
In my defense I have to tell you that the international adoption clinic we were taking her to only has hours every other Wednesday and by the time the next Wednesday came around I would be back at work.
So, the poor kid had to go to the doctor on her birthday.
But first we had to make the two hour drive to Omaha. (Sorry, Steve and Gail...there wasn't any time to give you a call. The next time we're up there though we'd love to get together for lunch!)
It wasn't so bad really. Maddie did great. She sat and sang to herself, ate raisins, took a nap and generally kept herself entertained for the two hours.
Hallelujah! The kid can ride long distances in a car!
We got there just in time for our 1 p.m. appointment and went straight in to meet with the specialists. They took her history (what history there is) and did a general exam, hearing test, blood tests and a developmental screening.
As my husband would say... There's good news and bad news.
The good news is Maddie is generally healthy. We still have to wait for her results to come back, but she looks good according to the doctor. She's in the 25th percentile for height and 10th percentile for weight...not too shabby considering Anya and Nick weren't anywhere near that when we brought them home.
Developmentally speaking I was pretty pleased. She scores as a older four year old on gross motor skills (dressing self, personal hygeine, ect.) and fine motor skills. She's low on communication and cognative, but the psychologist didn't seem to think there would be any long term issues. She thinks once her language acquisition comes along, she'll be just fine.
Good!
Now for the bad news.
Her hearing is worse than we thought.
The orphanage told us that she could hear everything but whispers...and while it appears that way when you interact with her, it is definitely not the case.
She has a moderate hearing loss.
It was so difficult to sit there and listen to the sounds coming out the speakers and to see my baby girl just sit there without any recognition at all.
It broke my heart.
Thankfully there was some great news to go with this though.
The inner ear is working perfectly. When they put the bone conducting hearing aid on her, she could hear perfectly.
Sooooo...
Maddie is getting a hearing aid.
Even though she doesn't have any ears.
It's kind of cute, really. It's a head band that goes on her head with a hearing aid that sits part of her skull. The skull acts as a conductor to the ear drum...and wallah...she hears.
Unfortunately, our insurance isn't going to pay for it. So while I duke it out with our H.R. department, we're going to see if we can get a loaner from the children's hospital we went to.
It sounded like it was a possibility.
Hopefully someday soon, Maddie will be able to hear everything that is going on around her.
What a day that will be.
In the meantime, it was time to head home and get ready for her birthday party...family style. We traditionally let the kids pick where they want to go for their birthday dinner. Most of the time we end up at Chuck E. Cheese, T-Rex or Rainforest Cafe...but since Maddie doesn't have a favorite yet and certainly can't communicate it, we picked for her.
Maddie and I met Shad and the other three kids at Ryan's...our local all-you-can-eat. The kids love it. I have to remember that.
Then we went home to open the rest of her presents.
We saved her cake and ice cream for this weekend...she seemed to be getting a little overwhelmed.
I don't blame her.
She'd had a long day.
Zdnyom razhdyeneeya big girl!

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yesterday, today or tomorrow

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

We don't know which day it is really.
Yesterday, today or tomorrow.
The date listed on her birth certificate is tomorrow.
But the reality is, it's probably not her 'real' birthday.
That's one of the many hard things about international adoption. The not knowing.
We were blessed with the first three adoptions we had birth records. We didn't have some of the specifics other kids do, but we knew the date was real.
With Maddie, we just don't know.
And, most likely, we never will.
Think about it.
Think about all the things you know about yourself and the day you were born.
I know that I was born on a sultry summer morning in August...just after 7 a.m.
I know that my mom had braxton hicks for two weeks before I was born and that I was two weeks late.
Poor mom.
I know I was my mom's first born child.
I know I was dearly loved and sought after.
I know I had no hair when I was born.
I know a lot of things.
And what I don't know I can easily find out.
With Maddie we know nothing.
Absolutely nothing.
Well, we know one thing, but I don't want to share here because it's the only thing she has that is her own.
Even if it stinks.
It's going to take some getting used to.
We haven't figured out how we're going to talk to Maddie about all of this yet.
With the others, we just opened up their files and shared what was age appropriate. I guess that'll have to do for her as well. Of course it will probably be a little while before we're going to have to worry about that.
In the meantime we have a birthday to celebrate. ;>)
Her very first American birthday.
Even if we're not certain which day it is.

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daddy's girl

Monday, February 11, 2008

Well, that was fast.
I think it took all of, oh, maybe two days, for Maddie to wrap her daddy completely around her little finger.

And vice versa.
This little girl LOVES her papa!
Can I just say that again?
L-O-V-E-S!!!
She adores him.
Worships the ground he walks on.
Can't wait for him to get home every evening.
And doesn't mind taking a bath, if he helps her.
It's amazing the power that man has.
Last night Shad took the older three to the church dinner before the evening service, with the plan that Maddie and I would meet him there.
From the minute he walked out the door, Maddie started crying.
She cried all through supper, the whole time we were getting dressed and during the drive to church (all of three blocks).
It wasn't until she saw her precious papa and was in his arms, that she was alright.
Sigh.
I guess I AM chopped liver. ;>)
Actually, what I am, is one in a long line of WOMEN to take care of Maddie. She's been around women of all shapes and sizes. Large ones, small ones, tall ones, skinny ones, short ones, fat ones...all of them took care of Maddie. None of them were special...none of them were MALE.
Shad is a man.
He's different.
He's unique. (in a good way ;)
I can see why her bond with him is coming a lot faster than with me.
It's to be expected.
And it's fun to watch.
This child experiences sheer joy when Shad walks into the house. Her face lights up, she starts jumping up and down and she won't leave his side until it's bedtime.
It's precious.
And I wouldn't trade it for anything.
What I would trade is what Maddie sometimes calls me.
Vannah.
What is Vannah?!
Instead of Mama, many times during the day I will hear, 'Vaaaaahnaaaah.'
I try not to respond. Or I'll ask her, 'What's my name?'
Then she'll get it right.
But most of the time, I'm Vannah.
Sigh.
Maybe it's Russian for 'chopped liver.'

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church chat

Sunday, February 10, 2008

How cute are these guys?!
I know I shouldn't brag, but I'm going to anyway!
Maddie's first day at church went extremely well.
She made it through the service like a trooper. Of course we had to bribe her with a box of raisins, but that's a small price to pay for a quiet 3-yr-old.

For Sunday School she came with me.
Somewhere in the middle of our Beth Moore video she hit her perverbial brick wall...but even then it wasn't so bad. She just got a little squirmy and giggly.
I can handle that.
We took this picture after we got home.
For some reason the picture turned out a little grainy. (I think it was still set on the sports setting from Alek's game yesterday.)
Sorry I haven't been too bloggy lately. I'm still making the time adjustment and getting used to chasing a toddler, so bear with me for a little while. Once life settles down a bit, I'm sure I'll be back to my typical, verbose self. ;)
In the meantime, here are some more cute pics.
-----------------------
Top: (from left) Nick, Alek, Maddie and Anya. Middle: Maddie and Anya strike a pose. Bottom: Maddie takes in a little American basketball. While Alek lost both games, Maddie had a great time watching her 'Walla' play.


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she's bi-lingual!

Friday, February 8, 2008

I had a first this week.
My first anonymous negative comment.
I guess I should be thankful, after all it took almost a year.
One reader accused me of having a bad attitude and told me to stop sighing and start enjoying my beautiful, little girl.
Sorry.

I'm working on the attitude.
And you don't have to worry about enjoying Maddie.
That comes easily.
So needless to say, I've been spending the last few days worrying about what to post. It's made me a little gun shy about keeping to the honesty part of the commitment I talked about on Finding Maddie.
But a commitment is a commitment.
So...
Honestly, parenting a post-institutionalized child is not easy.
It's hard work. And anyone who says otherwise is lying through their teeth.
It's worth every second of the heartache, pain and frustration...but it's hard work.
Just as hard as the adoption process itself.
But it's also full of unspeakable joy, laughter and adventure.
Take this afternoon for instance.
Maddie and I went to 'town' to meet Shad for lunch. We made a quick trip to Wally World to pick up some more milk (BTW - When, in the last eight weeks, did that become so darn expensive?!) and some stuff for dinner and then dropped by his office to pick him up.
(Another side note...I LOVE my van! It was wonderous not having to literally run to the market. I drove. And it was glorious! ;)
Today's visit at the clinic went much more smoothly than last time. Shad warned the girls about the Maddie situation and they were so good about it. I'm so glad they were understanding.
Then we went to a local pizza place for lunch. A nice, quiet pizza place.
And we took a booth in the back corner of the restaurant, trying to stay away from as many distractions as possible.
It worked great.
We had a nice, quiet lunch...just the three of us.
Until Shad decided to start the brainwashing.
For those of you who don't know, Shad and I are HUGE K-State fans. We are incredibly proud of our alma mater and have managed to brain wash our other three children into thinking the same.
Shad believes it's never to early to start the mind control process, so he got started...during lunch.
'Maddie, say 'GO CATS,' Shad prompted, pumping his fist.
She stared at him.
'Go on, honey,' he coaxed. 'Say, GO CATS!'
'Go Caa-Caa,' she yelled.
Alright!
Who taught her Spanish?!!

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what'd she say?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008



Sometimes you just have to wonder what is going on in that little 3-year-old mind! ;)
Maddie is a big talker.
All the time.
And we don't have a clue what she's saying.
You'd think there would be a huge language barrier...but surprisingly it's not much of an issue. Since Maddie has some hearing loss and because I knew it would help us communicate much quicker, I started teaching her some very limited sign language when we first saw her in the orphanage. By the end of our first visit she was able to sign 'more' when she wanted more and 'all done' when she was finished.
The girl is quick!
Still, with the hearing loss comes some pronunciation issues, so we figure the signs will help us truly understand what she wants. And it works. Just this morning she walked up to me and said, 'Mama,' and then signed the word 'eat'.
How awesome is that?!!!
She's already able to say 'Mama' and of course 'Papa' so we're good there. So while the sounds aren't there yet...the thought process and communication are.
And she's learning new words everyday. Words like Mama, Papa, potty, bye bye, all of the kids' names except for Alek who she calls 'Walla'...he loves it'; all done, night-night (ni-ni), Hello - which is more like the Russian version of 'allo' Actually, anytime she plays with her phone she says, 'allo? da!' She must have heard the caregivers on their cell phones; and nose.
The rest we communicate through the pantamime game. Now I'm glad I got so much practice in during my taxi cab days.
Whoa! Did I just say that?!
No! Must have been somebody else. ;>)

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zzzzzzz.......

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

I'm not sleeping well.
Since returning from Ukraine four days ago I've been waking up around 3 a.m. and falling asleep just after 7 at night.
I've tried taking a mid-afternoon nap to try to stretch my bedtime to at least 9 p.m., but so far it hasn't worked (I'll keep trying ;). I have tried taking Melatonin...but I can't stay awake long enough to take it at the right time. I don't drink coffee, pop or anything else containing caffeine...and I've cut back on my chocolate intake.
Nothing is working.
Maddie has been able to sleep since day one. No issues whatsoever.
I'm so jealous.
Other than my sleep issues, we're settling into our new normal pretty well.
The kids LOVE Maddie and Maddie loves the kids. It doesn't get much better than that. Yes, I know it's more than likely our honeymoon period, but I'll take it.
With our last three adoptions the adjustments were immediate and incredibly difficult. So far this one has been pretty smooth.
The only issues we are having so far is the no fear of strangers thing.
Maddie loves people.
Any people.
All people.
The more people the better.

And we're learning the hard way to keep a tight rein on our little girl.
Do you know how hard it is to carry an almost four year old around with you wherever you go?! My back is screaming from the extra strain, although there's good news. The flab on my arms is starting to disappear.
I have a feeling by the time Maddie has made the adjustment, my arms will look like something off of Muscle and Fitness magazine. (I just need to find a way to make it translate to my waist!)
Anyway...
I forgot to tell you about our experience at O'Hare.
My girl can charm your socks off...and she has the candy bars and wrist watches to prove it.
We were sitting at our gate during our five hour wait in O'Hare and I had just called Shad to let him know we had arrived and were waiting at our gate. While we were discussing the finer points of international travel with a preschooler, she was making eyes at the man behind us. Unbeknownst to me she had charmed this man silly. So silly, he interrupted my conversation to ask if it would be alright for him to give her his candy bar.
Sigh.
Later, in the bathroom, we were washing our hands and I turned my back for one second to grab some paper towls. Before I turned back around I could hear her 'talking' to her latest victim. She was admiring the woman's watch, and when the woman learned why Maddie wasn't responding to her questions, she offered Maddie her watch on the spot. We didn't take it.
Aaaack!
She tried the same trick on another person at the gate, but thankfully that person was too attached to her plastic armbands to become Maddie's next victim.
I need to put sunglasses on the girl to keep people from falling prey to her charms.
So that brings us back to Monday.
Maddie was scheduled for her first U.S. haircut. The girl needed a trim...she had a pretty choppy orphanage cut going on.
Shad had Monday and Tuesday off to help me with all the little stuff, so he came along. Unfortunately, he must have missed the memo on taking Maddie places, because he let her down when we walked in the door. Before he could get a death grip on her hand she took off, running around the room and giving everyone she came upon a big hug and two hands to the face.
Sigh.
This is going to be hard work.
Thankfully, this is our little town. We know these ladies pretty well...and they were very understanding and cooperative. Unfortunately, it was only the tip of the iceberg.
You would think after the beautyshop incident, Shad would have learned his lesson...but I learned with Shad a long time ago that there's no telling the man what to do. He's got to learn the lessons on his own.
Shad decided to take Maddie down to the clinic to show her off.
It didn't go any better. In fact the more he tried to keep a firm hand on her, the worse it got.
So we've decided that something's gotta give...and it's going to be Maddie's world.
She's going to find the next several weeks and months pretty boring, because her world is going to get incredibly small. While we will start going to church again next Sunday, we won't be doing much of anything else.
It will be pretty boring for a four year old who has just discovered this big, beautiful world around her...and for her 30-something year old mother who has just returned to her big, beautiful world.
No Kohls spending sprees.
No Panera's bagel runs.
And very limited Wal-Mart excursions.
Sigh.
Maybe it will give me a chance to catch up on my sleep.

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home sweet home

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, feels better than walking off the plane and into the arms of your family.
I cried.
Out loud.
I didn't care.
We were finally home.
Maddie wasn't quite sure what to make of everything at first. She had a death grip on my hand and stuck pretty close to me, which is so unlike her.

The kids were estatic. Each armed with a stuffed animal, they gathered around her and tried to get a better look, all talking at the same time.
'Does she speak English?'
'Hi, Maddie. I'm your big brother.'
'Mom, can you tell her I'm glad she's home?'
It was all I could do to get a hug out of them! :)
Maddie just stood there taking it all in. Not moving.
The girl was a walking zombie.
It took her quite awhile to get comfortable enough to even look at Meshack who she had met before. But by the time we walked out of KCI she had found her new favorite spot...in her daddy's arms.
My brother, sister-in-law and three of their kids drove all the way from Colorado to welcome us home. It was so wonderful to see them...and heartwarming to know they wanted this child in our family just as much as we did.
I have the best family.
And our family is complete.
I know I mentioned when I started this blog the reason Meshack and I were on this journey was because we felt like someone was missing.
There was a empty space in our family portrait and we needed to go find her.
When I looked at my husband and my children huddling together in the Kansas City airport, there was a deep sense of peace and fulfillment.
It had taken us 363 days to accomplish what had been asked of us.
But our family portrait was complete.
We had found Maddie.

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Now that our journey to find Maddie is over, I would like to save Finding Maddie exclusively as our adoption journal, so I will be moving our family blog over to Sunflower Seeds. Please join us there as we continue to chronicle Maddie's adjustment into our family and our transition into a family of six. I hope to see you there!

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the loooong flight home

Alright already! Jiminy but you guys are an impatient lot! ;>) I guess I deserve all of the razzing for keeping you waiting for so long. Yes. We're home!!! Now, sit back and let me finish my story. I've got to get it all written down before my swiss cheese of a brain forgets it all! :)
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I remembered to set my alarm last night. But I didn't needed it. I couldn't have slept more than a couple of hours. I was just too excited!
We were going home!
As we got dressed and ate some breakfast, I kept telling Maddie, 'Tonight we're going to be home, and you'll meet Q-ball, Punky and JacJac and see Papa again. Isn't that great?!'
She just smiled and gave me a look that said, 'Please give me more banana.'
Sigh.
I guess I'll just have to be excited enough for both of us.
No problem!
The driver showed up a little early which was just fine with us. He helped us get to the car with our bags and off we went.
As we raced through the streets I couldn't help be a little nostalgic. I mean, after all, this probably will be the last time I'll see Ukraine. I can't imagine having the money to ever come back...at least not until Maddie is older. I had met so many wonderful people here. It was a little sad to say goodbye to it all.
But it was more wonderful to know that in just 18 hours I would be home.
HOME!
We pulled up to the airport curb, the driver jumped out and helped carry our bags into the terminal. Then he pointed in the general direction of the ticket windows, said, 'good luck' and walked away.
Maddie and I were on our own.
No problem. I had been through here before. I could manage.
We walked through a throng of locals who were obviously waiting for the boarding call and went to find the Luftansa desk. When we arrived there was a line.
Great! I thought. Maddie is never going to put up with this, but ya know what? She did. She stood like a little trooper and waited and waited and waited.
Finally it was our turn.
Here is where I have a little piece of advice for all of you PAPs (pre-adoptive parents). Make sure all of your paperwork is in your carry-ons. And if you're traveling by yourself, it's even more important.
The ticket asked for my sworn statement from Meshack saying it was okay for me to take Maddie out of the country.
I said, 'You're kidding me.'
'No ma'am. I need to see the statement from your husband.'
'But he's in America. We're traveling to America. We live in Kansas. We're traveling to Kansas City. We're going HOME. He is at HOME. We are going to see HIM. I think he wants me to bring his daughter HOME!'
Oh...so you adopted her?
'Yeeess.'
Well, then I need to see the court decree.'
UGH! (I don't know why it mattered - Maddie had her passport with her name in it!)
Anyway...after a few frowns from her and some muttering underneath my breath she gave me the boarding passes for the flights all the way through to Kansas City.
I don't think I had ever seen anything so beautiful.
We made our way up the escalater and up to passport control.
There was a little hiccup at passport control. I'm not exactly sure what it was about, but they pulled Maddie and I aside to another officer. I asked what was wrong, and the nice lady said, 'oh, nothing. She just needs to see this.'
Okaaaaay.
The other woman scowled a little then signed off on something. The first woman smiled and said congratulations and we were on our way.
Security was a breeze. By the end of the day Maddie knew exactly what to do.
Then we waited for our flight.
The flight to Munich was uneventful. I thought Maddie might be a bit scared, but she actually laughed hysterically when we took off and thought nothing of the landing. She kept busy coloring and eating snacks. We made it through the first two hours without any problems.
Until we reached Munich.
We only had 40 minutes to change planes.
I don't know why they even offer this connection. For heaven's sake. It was waaaaay too short. The lady at passport control said it wouldn't be a problem...that we would make our flight.
She was right...but it was close enough to give me a heart attack. If you're flying on the 6:50 a.m. flight from Kiev to Munich and then going on to Chicago...be ready to run.
If the flight to Munich was uneventful...the one to Chicago was another story entireley.
Maddie was incredibly restless. I couldn't get her to settle down for anything, not that I could blame her, but we were sitting in the middle four seats (on the aisle) and there was no containing her. She was infatuated with the man sitting next to her, which thankfully had a granddaughter about her age, so he was used to it.
But I wasn't.
She couldn't sit still...didn't want to play with any toy for more than 10 minutes. Wasn't interested in the movies. The only thing she was interested in was her juice cup.
She drank way too much juice...which meant frequent trips to the bathroom.
And she had absolutely NO desire to take a nap.
Not ever.
I tried Benedryl...which I had experimented with during our passport wait. She showed no signs of hyperness during the trial and did take a nap that afternoon so I figured we would be alright.
Um. No.
While she wasn't hyper, she definitely wasn't tired. Not even close.
She didn't sleep more than 30 minutes of the 10 hour flight.
THIRTY MINUTES!
I about lost my mind.
We had a couple of screaming fits which required trips to the bathroom to 'correct'. Thankfully after the second one all I had to do was point in the direction of the bathroom if she got out of hand and she quickly shook her head 'no' and quieted down.
Thank goodness for small favors.
I thought we would never get to Chicago...but finally, we did.
American soil.
It was so sweet. We were finally 'home'.
Okay...not technically, but close enough.
We made our way through the 'American citizen' line in passport control, then grabbed our bags and went to the new immigrant desk.
Five minutes later my newest little citizen and I were on our way to recheck our baggage.
It was, again, easy peasy.
Before I knew it we were in Terminal One on our way to our gate for our five hour (yes, you read that right, FIVE hour wait). We tried getting on an earlier flight to Kansas City, but United Airlines in their unlimited wisdom decided to cancel that flight. So we had to wait five hours.
Five hours in a terminal with a three year old, by myself.
Yea. Tons of fun.
I tried, unsuccessfully to get her to take a nap, so we went for a walk. That was when I found the BAGEL shop!! Woohoo! I hadn't had a bagel in what felt like eons.
Maddie and I had a sausage, egg and cheese plain bagel with juice.
Mmmm-mmmm.
So good.
Then we made our way back to the gate to wait some more.
I thought about taking Maddie for a walk - but there's this whole don't leave your bags unattended thing...and my bags were way to heavy to carry all over O'Hare.
So we sat...
and we sat...
and we sat.
Finally, five hours after we touched down in Chicago it was time to leave for K.C.
The minute we got in our seats on the plane, Maddie fell asleep.
Finally.
Our one hour flight to K.C. was uneventful. I let Maddie sleep as long as I could before taking her to the bathroom. (I didn't want to interrupt the homecoming with a potty break.) Then we started our descent into K.C.
Kansas City looked amazing from the air.
I never noticed how pretty it looked before.
Finally...we were home.

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easy peasy

Friday, February 1, 2008

I overslept.
How could I oversleep today of all days?!
The cab was supposed to get there at 7:30 a.m...it was 7:15!
Aaaaaaach!
I jumped out of bed, yanked some clothes out of the suitcase, ran a brush through my hair and put on some foundation.
Then I got Maddie up.
She wasn't too happy with me...until I showed her a banana.
The kid is nuts about bananas.
She got dressed and we ran out the door.
Nikolai, the driver, was waiting at the gate. I hope we didn't keep him waiting too long.
The streets were relatively quiet. It's amazing to me..even in Kiev, things don't really get moving until around 9 or even 10 in the morning. And on weekends, you can count on the streets being deserted until 11...at least.
We zigged here and zagged there. Turning corners, going into areas of the city I had never seen before, until finally we arrived at the American Medical Center.
As we walked through the doors, a nicely dressed woman walked up to us and introduced herself as Lev's mother. She also is an adoption facilitator, although she doesn't do any translating...just organizing. So this part of the process she's wasn't to familiar with.
Great. Just what I needed...a rookie.
We sat down and waited for the clinic to open. It opens at 8 a.m., but the doctors don't show up until 9 a.m. Who knows why. But we were there so early to make sure we were the first clients of the day.

We were.
It still didn't help.
An hour and a half later we were still waiting for the report.
Aaach.
The U.S. Embassy only takes appointments until noon...and they made sure to tell me over the phone the sooner I got there the better the chances were that I would be walking away with a visa today.
I HAD to get that visa. I just HAD to! There was no way I was sticking around through the weekend just waiting for Monday.
NO WAY!
I pushed and prodded Mrs. Lev. I bugged and thought about bribing just to get her to MOVE IT!
It didn't help.
The woman, who of course was as nice as could be, worked slower than a snail. I finally had to flat out tell her I needed her to check and see if it was done. We had to leave NOW!
It was.
Sigh.
On the way to the embassy Mrs. Lev said Lev insisted we needed to get copies of our passports taken for the embassy. She said Svieta insisted it wasn't necessary, but Lev was positive we needed it.
I was willing to take Svieta's side...but there was no stopping the woman (finally). She said there was a copy center near the embassy, it would only take a few minutes.
If you have been on an adoption trip to Ukraine you know there is NO SUCH THING as an errand that takes a few minutes. Especially a trip to the copy store.
It takes FOREVER!
Surprisingly, only 10 minutes later she came out with copies in hand. Still...those 10 minutes felt like an eternity!
I was a nervous wreck by this point. It was 11 a.m. I just knew there was no way they were going to get Maddie's visa done today.
No way.
We reached the embassy and I jumped out and grabbed Maddie. We wogged our way down the hill, with Mrs. Lev trailing behind all the while saying things like, 'I'll wait for you out here,' and 'Good luck.'
'Thanks.'
We ducked inside.
We breezed through security and walked into the building.
It was like going home.
Everyone was nice.
Everyone was helpful.
Everyone was SMILING!
Everyone wanted to see us succeed at getting this visa as badly as we did.
What a blessing.
For the first time in weeks I felt like I was amongst friends. One guy even asked me if we had met before. He looked familiar, but I couldn't place him.
Forty minutes later I walked out with Maddie's visa.
I KID YOU NOT!!!
FORTY MINUTES!!!!
It almost made up for the horrible time we had getting the passport. ;>)
That was it.
We were done.
Maddie was ready to go home.
It was surreal. I had to ask three times if that was all.
They just laughed with me.
I had the little manilla packet, I had the receipt for payment and I had the little visa glued into her passport. What more could I possibly need?
I guess after all this time it felt too good to be true.
Maddie and I were finally going home.

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