>>Tuesday, December 16, 2008<<
Moving to a new home
I feel like it is time for me to move on and write about the other phases of my life. My new home is Laughter through the Storm

I have enjoyed so much meeting so many people on the adoption journey. Please feel free to contact me if you need any advice or have questions. I love talking about it because it was a great experience for us. Nikolai is almost 4 now and growing like a weed. We call him the Mayor because not only does he greet everyone, but, he remembers everyone's name. He is a blessing in our lives. But, we have moved past the adoption phase now.. And I feel like it is time to talk about other aspects of my life.

I pray that this blog will help others in their journey to find their child. I know for me, reading other blogs was such a huge blessing and help.

I hope you all have a wonderful Holiday season and again, should you ever need me....just write a comment on here or come over to my new home.

Blessings to you all!!
>>Monday, August 04, 2008<<
Nikolai and Shingles..
Our poor guy has gone through so much in one week. He had the big surgery on his hand. Quite frankly, for something so major, he doesn't seem to be affected by it in the least. What the main problem is...he has shingles. He got them a week before his surgery. The lesions were virtually gone by the time of surgery. The very next day after surgery, they resurfaced with a vengeance.
He is in a lot of pain from the shingles. The worst part about this is that I have to keep him away from everyone until his lesions heal. He is such a social little guy. We are both going a little batty!!

Please pray that these shingles would leave!!

Hope everyone had a great weekend!!
>>Thursday, July 31, 2008<<
Please pray for our friends in the adoption community
I have been a member of FRUA for a while now. I haven't been as active as I once was. It is Families for Russian and Ukrainian Adoption. There is a family that just adopted two girls this past December. One has Cerebral Palsy and she is doing so well now. She has 2 older sons as well. The 14 year old son (Harrison) was with friends on a beautiful Sunday, almost 6 weeks ago. He was leaving the swim club and walking across the street to his favorite sub place with his friends. The friends made it across the street, but, he didn't. A car hit him at about 55 miles per hour. The driver was devastated. He was not at fault. But, I hear he is destroyed over it. They said that Harrison would probably not make it through the night. He broke so many bones, and worse..he had severe head trauma and they had to remove a part of his skull to help with the swelling. His amazing story is that he did make it. He is a miracle child. He is not recognizing people yet...but, I know he will. Please visit his site.... His mother is an amazing writer. But, it is her faith that is unreal. I read about him everyday as if he was a member of our family. He has touched so many people all over the country. Please pray for him and his family. He is truly a miracle.

I want you to also pray for my dear friend Michelle who is leaving for Ukraine in 5 weeks to adopt 3 children. She adopted a beautiful girl a few years ago. We became friends through the Ukrainian hosting program. She is amazing, and I feel blessed to know her. It is amazing the adoption community and the friendships that form. She is a survivor of pancreatic cancer as of this year. She is also an amazing inspiration to me. She is still trying to raise money for the children that she will adopt. She is considering special needs as well. I think that is so wonderful. There are so many children out there who need us. Especially those that need an extra hand. Please visit her blog. Her family has gone through so much and yet, she doesn't look at what she has been through. She is blessed to be alive to bring more children home. Please pray for her and if you are able to help her in any way, I know she would be blessed beyond words.

Thanks for reading this and praying for these families.
Nikolai's hand surgery
Well, the day finally came where Nikolai had to have surgery. He was born with ABS, which is Amniotic Banding Syndrome. In short, his right hand was fused together...well, at least 3 of his fingers. We were supposed to have the surgery a while back, but, he couldn't seem to gain enough weight to undergo anesthesia.

So, on Tuesday...he went under. Let me tell you what..I did not sleep the night before. The morning of, I just prayed for peace. God delivered. Nikolai was laughing with all of the nurses and flirting. It cracked me up. He had a crowd in there just watching his antics. It was hard to see him go down the hall to the surgery room. But, as he passed everyone, he made the spiderman fingers and pretended to put spider webs all over everyone. Again...he was hamming it up. It could be that he was a little funnier because they gave him so calming medicine.

The surgery was about 2 1/2 hours. When we got to him, he was crying pretty hard. Mind you, they basically broke his fingers apart and reconstructed 2 of them. He will only have 4 fingers. He was angry about his hand. It was wrapped up in a bandage and had a huge sock on it. Then, he happened to look under the sheets and was really mad. He had also a circumcision. As strange as this may sound, they needed the skin for grafting on his hand. A side note: I don't think that I will tell him that when he is older. He won't appreciate that too much :) But, when he looked under the sheets...he threw his hands in the air and with such exasperation said "OH MAN!! MY WEINER HAS A BOO-BOO" and then dramatically slammed his hands down on the side of the bed. I had to turn my head because I was laughing. The way he said that was hilarious. But, his pain was not. He was in pain.

When we took him home, we were in shock how great he was doing. He woke up yesterday and was acting like nothing happened. Then, around 9:00am, he started feeling really bad. He had a rough day. Last night, he broke out with shingles again. He had it last week. Our pediatrician said that they had never seen a child that young have shingles. So, now he is really ticked off.

Today was hard on us both. I couldn't seem to comfort him and he couldn't get comfortable. He is itching to death from the shingles and they hurt, and his hand hurts and his other part hurts. They gave him some pain medicine, but, it jacks him up pretty hard. Instead of resting, he is rocking back and forth and is very uncomfortable. Please pray for him that his recovery will be swift.

Hope you all are well!!
>>Wednesday, July 09, 2008<<
I am moving forward in my journey...
I have realized that after 2 years of having Nikolai at home, the adoption piece of it no longer is in my mind. It is hard to keep up with this blog, because we are no longer dealing with adoption issues. He is fully integrated into our family and now we deal with all the issues of what having 3 at home bring.

I will be quite candid about the whole adoption journey. I had a lot of expectations of what it was going to be like. I thought that the minute we saw each other, he would run to me. I thought when he came home, he would latch right onto me and let me hug him and love on him. None of that happened. He didn't know how to love or to show affection. I took it personal. I went through a really hard phase where I thought that I was a failure as a mother. He didn't want to be touched or held. He was very violent in his rocking at night. It tore me up that I couldn't do anything about it. I padded everything in his crib. He didn't want to be held when he was sick. I was crushed. Honestly.

We have come a long way. He loves life so much now and loves to hug, and likes to be held when sick. He can throw one heck of a temper tantrum that blows me away at times.

I have moved into the phase of what it is like raising three very independent children. So, in time...I may make a new blog to discuss everyday life.

I have appreciated so much everyone being such a support during the whole adoption process. I couldn't have done it without my blogger world friends and encouragement from random people.

There is so much that I am still learning. I guess motherhood is a work in progress. I sure do wish someone would have handed me the Motherhood Guide book. But, I suppose we write it along the way.
>>Sunday, March 02, 2008<<
2 year post-placement

It is so hard to believe that our 2 year post-placement is already here. It seems like yesterday that we were getting our Visa's, checking our packing list, and getting ready to board a plane to Moscow, Russia to meet our son for the first time.

Here we are, 2 years later and our baby boy is no longer a baby...he is a big boy now. At least that what he tells you. I always say that he is my baby. His comment back to me is "I not a baby mommy...I a big boy!". His words are forming at a quick clip. Wow, all the chattering in my home is serious business!!

Nikolai was just diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I don't know everything about it,but we will be meeting with a Nutritionist. Celiac is where your body is allergic to Gluten which is found in wheat and almost every processed food. This is why Nikolai has not gained much weight since being home. He can eat the entire house down and never gain an ounce. I have never seen a child that small eat as much as he does. Suffice it to say, he likes mama's cooking!! (and papa's).

There is so much to catch you up on with our family. We are doing really good and Nikolai has blossomed into this amazing flower. I am so proud of him.
>>Monday, September 10, 2007<<
"How come he got that pincher and I don't"
Those were the exact words one of Nikolai's little friends mouth. She is a sweet girl that my good friend babysits. My friend couldn't figure out what this little girl was talking about. She thought she was talking about a toy that Nikolai was playing with. The little girl kept pointing to his hand...
(it is hard to see in this picture, but, it is the left hand. He kindof has it curled up in that pic)

Finally, she got it. She understood. The little girl saw how Nikolai's hand looked like a "claw" to her because of his Amniotic (sp?) banding syndrome. His 3 middle fingers are fused together and he uses that as one and then he uses his thumb and pinky. He can pick up things that you wouldn't believe. So, this sweet little girl wanted a hand just like his because it was cool and it could do so much. I thought that was so precious!! I know kids can be cruel, but, kids can be so sweet and honest and not even know it.

We plan on having his first round of surgeries on his hand this year. They wanted us to hold off a little bit until he put on more weight. With the anesthesia, they wanted him to weigh more. The doctors tell us that it will be a series of operations probably up through 1st grade. It terrifies me for him to have surgery. I have had operations and they have hurt, but, I do not want any of my babies to ever experience that. So, I am very prayerful about it.

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Getting into the terrible two's
Well, I knew it would happen. But, maybe I thought that I would get a little lucky.. S bypassed the terribles, and M got it at around 3 years old...she still has it. Nikolai is right on track. He read the book on temper tantrums, put the book down and put it to use!!

So, I am in a whole new world with him. What worked for S does not work for M or N. Nikolai is very good with this whole time out thing. He obeys very well. Now, he goes kicking and screaming. But, we tell him why he is in time out and we give him 2 minutes. Usually, he is screaming "NO TIME OUT!!" or banging his head on the stair rails (which scares me to death). Then, right about 2 minutes....he stops and he is quiet. He is ready to say "I sorry" and we move on with our day.

It is in public that I am not sure what to do. The stage that we are in right now is the stage where if you don't give him what he wants at the exact second that he wants it....fury happens. He kicks, screams, and grits him teeth because he is so mad. When you are with 3 kids in the store and he does that. There are not many things to do, other than leave. What I did the other day was take us all back outside and made everyone sit on the bench. I put him in time out there, instructed the girls not to play with him. He threw what my dad likes to call it " A hissy fit!!!" Then, he was tired. I asked if he was ready to go back....he said he was. He said "I sorry" So, we went back in with no problems.

But, the looks you get are terrible sometimes. He likes to scream "Ow!! OW!! OW!!" when you pick him up and hold him while he is in the middle of a tantrum. I can't figure it out for the life of me. I think what it is....he is screaming "OW" because he just doesn't want to be picked up. But, the public doesn't get that....it makes an entire store turn and stare at you with cell phones in hand ready to call 911.

I think about calling Nanny 911 sometimes. I wonder if she has a direct line. With 3 children going through so many emotions and stages in their lives..it is hard to know what the right thing to do all the time. I do my best and I think I am a good mother. I try. I really do.
We went to the Russian Art Store
Nikolai and I took a nice stroll downtown where we live. We stumbled upon a Russian Art Store. I decided to go in. There we met Olga. She was from St. Petersburg. We talked and talked and talked. Nikolai seemed to be drawn to the dolls and other Russian toys. She was so sweet to us. She bent down and gave Nikolai a matryoshka doll.

I know that Nikolai barely remembers the Russian language. But, when she started talking...he was very drawn to her. It was a nice surprise on a sunny day while we were waiting for M.
>>Friday, August 24, 2007<<
Do I ever think about Russia?

I think about Russia all the time. I have met so many people who have told me that they were so ready to get out of there. To hurry the process, to hurry, hurry, hurry.

Not me, I am ready to visit again. I remember the smells, the feel, the people like it was yesterday. I loved Russia. Many people from all parts of the world have their feelings towards Russia, whether it be bad or good. Most are afraid...they think that all Russians are with the KGB, or the big "bad boogie man", or that everyone is mean.

My eyes saw beauty, great food, a fresh way of looking at life, generous, kind people. I saw the hardships in the eyes of the old lady who was the attendant at the portable bathroom in the middle of the street. She was hunched over and barely able to walk. When I saw her, I knew that she had seen the rise and fall of communism, she lived through wars, she saw it all. She was beautiful to me. She smiled the best that she could. Smiling is not a Russians way of life. That does not mean that they don't smile on the inside. It is their culture. I came to respect that. They laugh, have fun, sing, tell stories..just like anyone else. They choose to do it behind the doors of their own home.

I was there when a group of terrorist murdered a kid for being from the wrong race. It happened literally minutes before my metro stop. Terror is something that is a part of many of their daily lives. I saw poverty. I saw tremendous wealth. I saw historic buildings and places that are forever etched in my memory. It is a country desperately trying to build back so much that was ruined.

I am proud to be an American and am incredibly blessed for being born here. But, I am grateful that I do live in a free society that allows me to visit countries and take pieces of it and put it in my heart. What an amazing world we live in. There is so much to see and so much to learn.

Russia is our son's homeland. I cannot try and erase that. I don't want to. I am sure his birth mother did what she felt was the best thing for her. I pray for her, and pray for her safety. However, I am thankful to her. Because had she not given birth to Sasha Romanov (now Nikolai)...we would not have our son. I truly believe that it was all a part of a divine plan. I believe it was Gods plan for him to be born in Moscow and for a wonderful woman to send out a random email about a little boy she knew of that had special needs to a family in the US (that would be us).

As crazy as it sounds....Nikolai called us to Russia. We heard the call and we came. I am thankful to Russia for giving him the best life that they could while he was there. Our promise was to take it from there and give him the best life possible, no matter where he physically lived. Russia is a part of his blood, therefore...it runs through our veins.

This isn't about politics and who did what to who's country and what President is mad at whom.

Russia was our son's womb and we were blessed to help bring him into this world. Does it matter where a child is from? So many have issues with where you adopt your child. What matters is that children are Gods children and we are put on this earth to nurture them during our stay on this planet. God didn't say that your child had to be from your own womb, or from your own state or even your own country. We were blessed that we had a little of all of the above.

We made forever friends in Russia. Our sons playmates from his children's home live in he US near us. How amazing is that?

This is about the gift that we were given to see a whole new way of living and a beautiful country that so many don't really know or understand. Thank you Mother Russia. Until we meet

Here is when Nikolai and I took our first walk together in Red Square. One year later, we took our first walk into Build-a -Bear.

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>>Tuesday, August 21, 2007<<
4 years ago today...

I was lying in the hospital, having been there for close to 3 weeks. I was very sick with high blood pressure, and a baby desperately needing to get out of my stomach. They warned me that her lungs weren't ready. The doctors had to give me a drug to help me not go into a seizure. I had pre-eclampsia.

4 years ago today, the doctors said that our baby had to come out or that we both could die.

She was born at 4:00 in the afternoon. She was so tiny and so beautiful. Her chest was puffing in and out so heavily. She was struggling to breathe. They let me kiss her for a millisecond and I never held her in my arms again for another week.

She was rushed to the NICU. I was stuck in bed with IV's hanging out of me. Later that night, the nurses and doctors took pity on me and let my husband wheel me down to the NICU. I was still hooked to all types of medicines. There was still a fear that I would have a seizure afterwards.

I wheeled myself right up to the window of the incubator that my tiny-iny baby was lying in. She had a chest tube, tubes in every place imaginable and her chest was so swollen from trying to breathe. Never in my life did I feel the way that I felt in that moment. I was terrified of losing this beautiful angel that God had blessed me with. I cried with every tear that I had in my body.

That night, the doctor came in to sit next to me. He held my hand ever so gently and told me that he was called in because our baby's lung had collapsed and they would have to transport her by ambulance to the next hospital that had a Higher Level Newborn Intensive Care Unit. He said not to worry, that they would take care of her.

They wheeled her down in my room before going into an ambulance. I touched the glass and told her that I loved her and not to give up. "Please don't give up"

We reunited several days later. I was taken off all IV's and able to go to the hospital that she was at. I rarely left her side. She was in a tiny incubator and had IV's coming out of her head, toes, nose. My husband and I clung to each other.

When we walked in, the nurses were full of smiles. They told us that they had no idea what had happened, but, our baby girl had taken a turn. A turn for the better. They said that she must have loved that ambulance ride, because she only needed a ventilator for a day (compared to the original 3 weeks) and that she was making a miraculous recovery. I finally held her through the incubator. It was like a robot machine. I touched her tiny fingers and prayed every prayer that I could pray.

A few days later....we were told that she would be released from the NICU and sent to another hospital for a few days of observation. I was able to hold her in my arms. She smelled so good. She smiled at me and I knew we were going to be ok.

Today is her 4th birthday. I have been grateful for every moment of those 4 years. She is a vivacious little girl who has a feisty spirit that she had to come into this world with. She lights up my world and I thank God every day for allowing her to hang on. I celebrate life with her. I am so grateful.

There is rarely a day that goes by that I don't realize how lucky I am to still be on this earth with 3 amazing children. Most importantly, that precious little baby who struggled so hard to breathe........., she never gave up.

Happy Birthday Princess!!!

>>Saturday, August 18, 2007<<
Guilt is such a destructive visitor in your life....
I feel like guilt consumes a lot of my life as a mother. Where should I begin?:

Guilt that if I am working, my children are suffering.

Guilt that if I am at home full time, that I am not everything they want me to be.

Guilt because my 7 year old said in the Disney store today with HUGE crocodile tears "I don't feel special", because her brother got a $1 sippy cup and we were buying presents for her sisters birthday. (it happens all the time. our children feel entitled to toys, presents, everything)

Guilt because I don't have the energy to do the one million and one things that they want me to do during the day...."what's next? the pool?, park?, art?, dance?...you catch my drift"

Guilt because I am not the mom who is dressed to the "9's" when I drop off my kids at the school. I am lucky I put my shirt on the right way.

Guilt because I didn't make homemade cookies for my child's class, guilt because I didn't make a home made craft, guilt because I am not in the "Right" Play group or ANY play group for that matter.

Guilt that I am not taking Little N to all of these social activities to help him with his social skills. HE HAS SOCIAL SKILLS!!

Guilt that I don't have the house smelling like pine sol with the kitchen gleaming and the dinner cooked when my husband arrives.

Guilt that I have gained 100 lbs in 4 years.

Guilt that my children never seem to get enough of me, but, yet I give them 100% and have negative for me or my husband.

Guilt that I never seem quite good enough at parenting. But, yet I try so hard. M is in the terrible 2's, 3's, and 4's. N has FULL BLOWN terrible 2's. S needs every second of my time. I try to be everything to them. But, many days are filled with them screaming, yelling, kicking at me. Nothing ever seems to be good enough. I am with poopy diapers and kiddie talk 24 hours a day.

I feel guilty that I miss my life. I miss my friends, I miss working at a job that I love. I miss doing anything that resembles me.

I knew that when I decided to be a mother, my life would change forever. I wanted it, I am happy for it. But, where I am confused is that is my life supposed to be taken over by my children and you are left as a shell. Or do they compliment your life and you can still have some sort of sense of who you are?

I am struggling a little bit. Is there anyone else out there that juggles all of this? Any advice would help.

Where does the guilt end? Does it? What makes you a good mom?

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>>Thursday, August 16, 2007<<
Ok this is funny..."Mom my Ride"
I saw this on You Tube....and Oh my goodness....anybody out there who is a "minivan" Mom might be able to appreciate this. I swear this must have been me and someone forgot to tell me they put my car on television!!!

The one thing that I said in my life was that I was NEVER going to drive a minivan nor live in suburbia. Now I do both. I have learned to cut the word "never" straight out of my mouth.

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>>Saturday, August 11, 2007<<
Life after adoption....
Since it has taken so long to get back to blogging and a year has flown by. It will be a while for me to catch up on everything that has gone on.

But, I do want to talk about the emotional roller coaster that you are on before and after adoption. I know so many of you are waiting to adopt and you are struggling with how long it has taken. Then there are others who are in the middle of the adoption, others that are on the other side like us.

I remember wanting so desperately to be in Moscow and to get my son and take him home. Then, when we did get him home, all I wanted is for everything to be normal right then. I never anticipated the tidal wave of emotions that would come along with it.

My best advice to anyone who is considering adoption, adding another child into their family is to take emotional inventory of yourself. Meaning, are you ready emotionally for all the changes?

That is so easy said, I know. Don't get me wrong, I would not change a thing. I just wasn't prepared for the emotional roller coaster that has taken place. I will continue to elaborate and update on post-adoption in my blogs.

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>>Friday, August 10, 2007<<
What has our little man been up to this year?

Lets put it this way, what has Nikolai NOT been up to? :) In the past year since he has been home.... he has now officially become our local "mayor". When he first arrived in the US last May, he was afraid of everyone. Everyone except us. He was terrified of my parents, terrified of having a babysitter.

NOW??? Those days are over. He waves to everyone and says "HI!" and waves and gives his now well practiced smile. Wherever he goes...he doesn't meet a stranger. I am so happy about the change. But, it scares me too. Because he will run up to anyone. For instance, we were at the park and went right up to this woman and motioned for her to pick him up and put him on the swing. He has no fear. Of course, I am running up freaking out that someone else is touching him. But, I realize that he just wanted to get on that swing and Mom was just not fast enough.

He is faster than the speed of lightning. I have never in my life seen a child that moves as fast as he does. He was about 16 lbs. when we adopted him, he is now weighing in at 23 lbs now. At 2 1/2 years old...he still wears a size 12 month pants. But, what he lacks in size...he makes up for in "pizazz!!" He has completely shocked us all by his ability to pick up on everything. Sometimes that is good, sometimes...not so good. He watches his Daddy with the electronic stuff. Nikolai thinks now that he knows how to rewire a computer. :) So much for that international doctor that sent us a note "expect mild retardation". Nope....not here.... he is a smart little boy.

He loves his sisters and vice-versa. Sometimes...a little too much. Because he is so small, they think he is a baby doll. They dress him up, put him in their doll baby stroller. My hubby is not so sure about all that. I am not worried...he is having fun and he is totally a guys "guy". Whenever boys are around...he wants to be a part of the action. Loves jumping, loves crashing his toy cars, loves to scare the ever living daylights out of me!!! But, he knows how to charm the ladies. He gives that smile that melts anyone.

We are going through the terrible two's right now... His constant words are "No, Why?, NO LIKE THAT!" Yikes. This temper tantrums are pretty tough. But, I think it is mainly that he is a very active, independent little boy. He does not want anyone to interfere with his independence.
When you do, he lets you know. He is a champion at time out. He knows exactly what to do and doesn't move an inch! :) If I could read his thoughts...they would say "Geez Mom, why do I have to sit on the steps? All I was doing is trying to move the cat out of the way"

yea....move the cat out of the way...can we say..kick the cat and then running over to him to say he was sorry. He picked up Mr. Kitty to give him a hug (rather a gut wrenching smother) to say he was sorry. No worries...no harm done to the Kitty. They are so used to our wild brood.

More updates to come!!!
Love to all!