Monday, December 8, 2014

Home after surgery!!!

Pasha aka Grayson had the VEPTR surgery on Wednesday and was released Saturday to come home! He blew the medical team away with how well he's doing after surgery!  We bought a used bed to put downstairs for him because carrying him upstairs is very challenging now because we have to hold him very carefully now. He's eating good for him anyway and bossing his siblings around so I guess he's doing pretty good! 

Sitting up in his chair for the first time after surgery

Katya's doing well too she's picking up more english everyday and learning more and more things she can do herself everyday too. She's really taken to Zeus and likes being "in charge" of him doing things like letting him outside and getting him water. 

Callen has been getting good notes from his teacher almost everyday from school! At home he's doing pretty well too, he still is adjusting to a new sibling but overall he's making good progress. His FAS makes any changes to his life difficult to accept. It just takes awhile for him to accept new routines, like next year he'll be in school all day instead of half a day. I'm expecting lots of tantruming and defiance for a few months until he's adjusted. 

The other kids are doing good too they're all excited for Christmas and have written/drawn their letters to Santa! My 2 biggest girls (Lesia and Ashlyn) are looking forward to no school so they can sleep in! 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Pasha update

Sorry it's been very busy in our lives lately. I'm in San Antonio right now with Grayson and Jared and in the morning Graysons having the VEPTR surgery. They are titanium rods that will be placed into his spine to help him grow. It's a major surgery and carries lots of risks but he needs this done to improve his quality and quantity of life. So please pray for his health.......
In the hotel 

Dinner at the hotel 

Morning of surgery

After surgery: doing great in the PICU 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pasha is 6!!!

Today Today Today Pasha aka Grayson is 6 years old! I can't believe my oldest son is now 6....he's still my baby :) 

Today at the park holding my coffee for me so I could take a pic:) 

Katya about to slide

Kaeden on the rocker thingy

Here's the 4 I had with me today. Callen, Ashlyn and Lesia were at school.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Messages of hope

Every few months I get a short letter via email or facebook from our sweet girl we hosted in the summer of 2012 who's in Crimea. 
They remind me she hasn't forgotten us and still thinks of us:) not a day goes by that Jared and I don't think of her and miss her. We keep holding on to the hope that someday we will see her again.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Katya is 11!!!!

Katya turned 11 last week! We had a small family party for her here at home. She was a bit confused as to why we were singing to her and giving her gifts! Lol Lesia kept telling her in ukrainian that it was her birthday and these gifts were because of that but she just has no reference to know what we were taking about. Imagine being 11 and never have had a birthday party before:( 
We had a small store bought cake for her that night and pizza (her favorite) but my friend Anastasia who happens to be Ukrainian had her mom make Katya a napoloen cake for her birthday. It's amazing even Jared liked it and he rarely likes any desserts. 

Katya is doing really well, she's picking up more english words every week. It's going to be awhile though before she really picks up enough to get by on. She enjoys her siblings most of the time! They of course pester her and make her mad sometimes as all younger siblings do. She and Ashlyn are doing good sharing a bedroom still but Katya likes to keep thinks neat and Ashlyns a's been very crazy around here lately and I just don't have the energy to write so that's all for now. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wednesday pondering

Went to the Russian general store and an international market on Monday. 
I miss Ukraine everyday, mostly the food though :) and juice oh my gosh I miss the juice!!!! Yummy yummy yummy!!!

I hope I get to go back soon to visit and just sightsee without the stress of being there to adopt. Maybe I'll get lucky and another family will invite me to go along as a travel companion:) 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

I'm tired......

I am tired.....I'm physically, emotionally, mentally and whatever other way there is to be tired that's what I am! Having 7 kids in our home ranging from 16-2 plus the normal daily things going on in life on top of having 2 kids with Spina Bifida and 3 kids from orphanages is just flat out exhausting. The housework is never done, the laundry alone is ridiculous! Both our SB kids generate a ton of laundry alone due to medical issues that came with their diagnosis'. My husband is also remodeling our kitchen and dining room so we have an area big enough for all of us to eat together. Our home had a very small formal dining room and miniature breakfast nook and a cramped kitchen. Soooo on top of the messes that come along with 7 kids I also have construction mess to deal with. 
To say I'm stressed is an understatement :) we are still adjusting to life as a family of 9 for the year. Katya is still adjusting to being a part of our family and family life in general. She's doing great but of course there are bumps and pot holes in our paths. Navigating them sometimes overwhelms me and I have to cry and whine and just vent all my frustrations out. I'm not going to lie adopting from an orphanage is HARD. Our children have not had "normal" lives before they were ours. They didn't have a family to rock them as babies, no toys to play with, pretty much everything we as Americans grow up experiencing they didn't. Even the things we consider normal and routine are new and strange to them like washing their hands, brushing their teeth,  changing clothes everyday, actually playing with toys! 
Finding our new normal this time has been rough on me, I'm tired and get overwhelmed easily. It's a good thing Jared is the opposite of me and is super laid back. A lot of times I feel inadequate and like a failure because I feel guilty that the house is a mess or guilty I can't spend all my extra time (pretty much non existent) just doing fun things with my kids because we have dr appts, therapy stuff to do, home school for Katya and Pasha, grocery shopping, laundry, dusting, cooking, changing diapers, researching medical things, reading about attachment and trauma, school things for the others and just life in general. Not to mention trying to squeeze in time for Jared and I to be alone and just relax. I feel pulled in 5 million directions and bad that I'm not doing a better job at all this multitasking. 
I try to remind myself this season is just that a season. Someday it will feel "normal" again here.....someday. 

Lesia and Ashlyn got a hold of my phone last night. Now you see what I'm dealing with :) 

Friday, September 19, 2014

One month home.....

Things are still pretty crazy here. Getting into a routine with 7 kids here has been rough:) especially since I'm super unorganized and a huge procrastinator!

All the kids are doing good and getting along most of the time. They all argue just like siblings, even our 16 year old exchange student argues with Callen and Kaeden! They both are huge pests and like aggravating her. 

Katya is doing great, she's learned a few English words and is getting better at self care. Amazingly she and Pasha have become pretty close. While I was still in Ukraine she expressed several times when she'd she his pictures that she didn't like him. I think his wheelchair scared her but after me making her use one on the trip home because of her mobility and then me showing her all of her Pashas similarities she's realized they are a lot alike. 
Coloring hearts I drew then she cut them out. 

So far she's been evaluated at the Spina Bifida clinic to start getting referrals for other specialists and been to the dentist. 
I knew her teeth were in bad shape but she started complaining of pain so we had to take her sooner than we had planned. We had hoped to wait until her English was better so she could communicate easier but the pain was too much. She ended up having one tooth extracted on Monday and one filled, we still have at least 2 visits left to get the really bad stuff taken care of. She'll need at least one more tooth extracted:( 
Next week we go have some testing done at the hospital for urology so we will know more after then about our next steps medically. 
Here's me, Katya and Savannah. Pasha was in the seat behind them so you can't see him.

I'll update more on everyone else next time :) 

Here's Katya and Savannah under their blanket fort.

Katya, Kaeden and Pasha 

At the dentist 

Working on tracing and writing the alphabet 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I suck at blogging

Yes yes I know I'm a terrible blogger, I will sit down and write one out but I'm sooo tired now I just can't really form many coherent thoughts :)

We are all doing good, of course there's growing pains but overall the transition is going very well. I'll try to write this weekend about everything going on.

One of her first nights home, eating popcorn with Ashlyn

Playing with Kaeden 

At the airport greeting Lesia our foreign exchange student from Ukraine. 

Friday, August 22, 2014


We arrived home about midnight on wed/Thursday last week. Katya did amazing with all the flights and travel. We had a crazy busy day that day starting early at the embassy to get her visa and we almost didn't make our 2pm flight because of a paperwork issue they had on their end. We barely got to the airport in Kyiv in time to make our flight to Frankfurt. 

Our flight into Frankfurt was late by about 10 min because of turbulence and we only had a one hour and 12 min layover there, we had requested mobility assistance but they were not waiting on us as we arrived so I had to track someone down and wait on them to get us. We got to our gate just as they were about to close the doors. Kyiv didn't print our boarding passes so we had to do that at the gate in Germany and they put us in seats nowhere near each other. In fact one of us in comfort economy class and one in economy. No one wanted to move so after a few min the flight attendant finally found us 2 seats together in the very back of the plane so we trekked back there and started getting seated when he came back and said he had 2 seats for us in comfort class by the handicap bathroom so we had to trek back up there. No big deal when you can walk without issues but for Katya it's very hard walking in spaces like that. 

She was quite disappointed to realize that the movies on the flights were not in Ukrainian/Russian! She's refused so far to learn English or even try. She's actually told us she doesn't want to learn we of course know this will change so for now aren't pushing that to hard. 

We finally got into Houston about midnight and home about 2am, in bed around 3am on Thursday. I'm happy to be home and back with my family. I missed my kids a lot and my hubby even more. 

This was us in Wasghington DC 

On the plane headed to Houston 

Exhausted kiddo 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Pictures of Katya in Kyiv

Swinging outside our apartment here

First trip to McDonalds....ever!!!

At an aquarium here

Walking through the tunnel of fish

She liked the sharks 

Then we went to Bazaar or market 

Yum shaslik cooking 

An outfit I bought her at the Mall in Bila Tservka 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Gotcha day

Yesterday was Katya's gotcha day. We arrived early in the morning to get her from the orphanage. The orphanage is closing next month to become a regular kindergarten and daycare for the community so only 3 other children remain there now. I brought juice and snack cakes for them and gave them each their own gift bag with a pen that also has bubbles and an assortment of small plastic animals. 

Katya was excited to go but when it was time to walk out she started crying, she's been in an orphanage her whole life and one of the nannies has been with her since she was a toddler. It broke my heart seeing her cry, I know she's terrified of what's ahead but she's doing AMAZING! In fact today she wanted to get on the plane to come to America. 
We still have several days here so we can go to the embassy for paperwork and there's a medical exam she has to do before she can leave the country. 

I did give my email address to 2 of her nannies so I hope they keep in touch so they can see her bloom in a family. 

Here are a few pictures of her. 
This was walking out the gates to the orphanage. This boy was just adopted by an American family so he knows how she feels and was so sweet to comfort her.

Our first meal in a restaurant together!

Last nights dinner, she's a good eater!!! 

Having some gelato 

My chocolate cappuccino 

The apartment complex we are staying in this week

Monday, July 28, 2014

Katie and I: The first 2 weeks

These are from the first part of the trip before I could publicly post where I was. My best friend Katie aka my sister since we've been BFF's since we were 15 came for the first 2 weeks. 

She was such a great help to me, we had some good times trying to fit in here and just enjoying getting to talk without the interruption of our kids yelling in the background! Lol this process is very stressful especially coming here after everything that happened in Crimea and coming without my husband. Katie helped to keep me focused and calm, there are moments when you are here and something stressful happens that makes you want to just curl into a ball and cry but she didn't let me:) she encouraged me to keep going and fighting for Katya. 

Miss you Katie can't wait to be home again we'll need to schedule some coffee and shopping dates :) 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Another daughter....kinda sorta

So you all know we had wanted to adopt 2 girls this trip, Katya and Masha who we hosted 2 years ago. Unfortunately Crimea was invaded by Russia and is now a part of them so Americans cannot adopt from there:( we will never give up hope that someday somehow we will be reunited with Masha again. That summer she spent with us seems so far away now but we have kept in contact with her. I waffled back and forth on if we wanted to try to adopt another girl in addition to Katya but Jared was firm in his decision for our family that unless it was Masha we were only bringing home one. 

Right before I got travel dates for this trip I learned of a foreign exchange student program that was still looking for families for 2 girls from Ukraine for this school year. These kids have families in their home countries they just come to America for the school year. Anyway I asked Jared about it not really thinking he'd agree but surprise surprise he said "sure why not?!" 
There were 2 girls available and I thought either could fit in with our family so I left it up to the organizations coordinator to choose which student we would host, she chose Lesia a 16 year old who lives in Kyiv. It has worked out great because I'm only about an hour from Kyiv so I have visited her and her family while I'm here. So while she's not technically our kid we will have 7 children living with us this year soooo should be interesting having kids from the ages of 16 down to 2! 

This is Lesia and I in Kyiv at a festival 

And here we are in Bila Tservka when she came to visit Katya and I 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A new daughter :)

I had court yesterday and the judge found in favor of our petition to adopt "Berkeley", she had to attend court and testify that this was her choice and she did great! 

So without further ado.....this is our newest daughter Katya Suzanne! 
We have about 2.5-3 weeks left here to do more paperwork then we'll be headed home to the USA!!! 

This was during the court recess yesterday 

And this was last night at the orphanage 
Thank you to everyone who prayed and supported us and a HUGE thank you to whoever donated that money to us anonymously.....I'd love to know who you are so I can thank you in person someday!