Wednesday, November 4, 2009

We just got back from five beautiful days in Florida! My cousin got married on Sanibel Island, so we took a couple of extra days and enjoyed ourselves. It was an absolutely gorgeous wedding right on the beach. Allison looked beautiful and her new hubby looked very handsome, too! Welcome to the family, Mike!

Grace had a blast! Give her any body of water and she will never leave. She didn’t want to get out of the pool. Thanks to cousin Nick for being her personal lifeguard. She didn’t want to leave the beach. Thanks to cousin Marcus for building sandcastles with her. She loved getting up in the morning and eating her Cheerios out in the lanai. Picnic breakfast is a pretty cool thing!

She did great on both the flight there and the flight back. The flight there left at 8:30 a.m. So we had to leave our house at about 6:00 a.m.. in order to get the car parked, take the shuttle to the airport, and get through security. We thought she would fall asleep for sure, since she had to get up so early. But she had no interest in sleeping on that flight. She did really well though! We read books, played with toys, ate pretzels, sat on my lap for awhile, then on Dada’s. She was a bit of a squirmy bottom by the end of the flight, but so was I. It’s less than a three hour flight, but I can’t sit that long either! As soon as we settled into rental car, she was asleep in two seconds.

The flight home left at around 1:00, right at her naptime. She fell asleep after about 30 minutes in flight and slept until we landed. Just what she needed!

Grace didn’t do too bad with sleeping during the vacation. She took her usual 2 hour nap everyday that we were there. The nights were a little off for her. There was only one night that she slept the whole night in her crib without waking up. Every other night she woke up at about 2:00 a.m. and didn’t want to go back in the crib. She ended up in bed with us where she instantly fell back to sleep.

Just like here at home, everywhere we went, Grace was the star of the show. She is just so gosh darn cute! Here are a few more photos of Grace in Florida!

With her Uncle Darrin...

Sitting on a big frog...

With cousin Nick...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

She’s Two!!!

Yes, Grace celebrated her second birthday last week! Wow, we just can’t believe that she’s two!!!

Grace and I made cupcakes together to take to her daycare. She loved stirring everything together. Boy, that batter was sure stirred well! We also took party hats and ‘squawkers.’ There are only five kids there and Jeanne got some great pictures of the celebration. Here's one:

On Sunday, we celebrated with our families. Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Darrin (who Grace just calls Uncle), Aunt Janice, Allison, Mike, Aunt Diane, Uncle Rick, Daniel, and Thomas all came over. We had Grace’s favorite dinner – spaghetti and meatballs. (She chose the menu). Then we had cake and ice cream. It was so much fun to have our family together.

The ‘Why’ questions have already started. Grace and I were driving in the car together the other day.
She said, “Mommy, where’s Dada?”
I said, “He’s at work.”
She said, “Oh. Where’s Dada’s car?”
I said, “It’s at work too.”
She said, “Why?”
I said, “Because Daddy drove the car to work.”
She said, “Why?”
I said, “Because it’s a long way to work and Dada has to take his car there.”
She said, “Why?”
I said, “Because it’s too far to walk.”
She said, “Why?”
I said, “I don’t know. Just because it is!”

I wasn’t expecting this to come so soon. I guess I had better brush up on my way of answering ‘why’ questions!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Gotcha Day – One Year Later

Wow! We can’t believe that it has been a year! Greg and I have to be the two luckiest people in the whole world. Grace is amazing! That sums it up!

I remember September 29, 2008 so vividly. The director of the baby home was out for the morning, so we couldn’t go there until late afternoon. When you know it’s your Gotcha Day, all you want is to get to the baby home and hold that baby safely in your arms forever! I remember walking into the baby home with all the cakes and the flowers. Then things were a blur for awhile. We gave Grace’s clothes to the caregivers and we were ushered into the Director’s office. We met with the doctor for the last time. The caregiver brought Grace in to us. Pictures were snapped with their camera as well as ours. Then we left! I remember holding Grace so tightly. I remember walking really fast on the baby home sidewalk to get to the car as fast as I could. I remember that first night at the Korvet, she slept in the crib right next to our bed. She slept the whole night through. I didn’t sleep one wink! I kept getting up and just standing there, staring at her. She is so beautiful!

Here is the photo from the Director’s Office on Gotcha Day next to one we took today at home exactly a year later. Can you even believe the difference?

We were so blessed that Grace was so young (eleven months old). We have experienced so many firsts with her. Her first steps. Her first words. No more bottles. All the teeth! She has come so far. She is excelling at everything! She is easily speaking in three word sentences. She is even trying some four word sentences. Two weeks ago, we were in the kitchen getting dinner ready. Greg always sits in the same spot at the kitchen table. Well, Grace wanted to sit in his spot instead of in her highchair. She said, “I sit Daddy’s seat.” The next day Grace and I were in her room getting dressed for the day. She saw her binky (pacifier) in her bed and asked me for it. She only gets the binky at bedtime and she puts it down before she gets up. (I know, it’s time to think about getting rid of it altogether!) Anyways, I told her that she knew the binky was only for sleep time. This logic didn’t seem to work for her, because she kept asking me for it. Greg walked into her room and Grace said, “Daddy get me binky.” Another four word sentence! Since then, there have been several more!

We have so much to celebrate this time of year. September 18 was our one year court date anniversary. September 29 was our one year Gotcha Day anniversary. October 8 will be Grace’s second birthday! We can’t believe she is going to be two. Boy, time is sure flying by.
Here is one more photo taken today.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Well, summer has come to an end. We’ve had an awesome summer together. I started back to work last Tuesday and students start this Tuesday. Here are some highlights of our last month and a half of summer.

We took Grace to Lake Michigan. We stayed in the Pentwater–Ludington area. We did a lot of hiking in the sand dunes. That’s a chore on its own, but with Grace on my back, I really got my exercise!

Grace loved playing on the beaches of Lake Michigan. She filled her buckets with sand and then emptied them over and over again. When we finally were able to tear her away from the beach, she was covered head to toe with sand.

We had a bit of a traumatic moment a couple of weeks ago. Grace and I were going to go into my classroom to get things set up. My car was in the garage. I opened the garage door and was starting to load up my car. Grace was waiting for me by the entry door (I thought). While I was in the garage, Grace was able to get my car keys. (I keep them in a dish on a table in the foyer. I didn’t think she could reach them!) Anyway, she brought the keys out into the garage and pressed the alarm button on my car. Well, the alarm went off (very loudly when inside the garage)! It scared Grace and car keys went flying through the air and landed behind a shelving unit in the garage. Grace was crying and shaking. I ran and picked her up, took her in the house and closed the door to try to deafen the sound a little bit. I was trying to calm her down. In the meantime, I’m crying because she is so upset. After calming her down a bit, I ran out to the garage to find the keys. I finally find the keys and then I realize that I don’t know how to shut the alarm off. I fumble to get the manual out of the car glove box. I brought the manual back into the house and finally figure out how to shut the alarm off. Meanwhile, Grace and I are still crying! With the alarm finally off, I just held Grace as close as I could and rocked her back and forth on the couch. When we had settled down enough, we went out to the garage to leave for my school. Grace pointed at my car and said “Beep, beep, beep! Loud!” Poor baby!

Last week we met with our social worker for our one year post-placement report. Yes, one year! Can you believe it???!!! When we look over the last year, we realize more and more how blessed we are!

I had to go to our pediatrician’s office to pick up the medical form for our post-placement report. Grace had a mosquito bite by her eye and it looked just awful. It was very red and her eye was swollen. I didn’t have an appointment, but I asked the receptionist about it. She went and got a nurse. The nurse came out to the waiting room to take a look. (I had never met this nurse before). She took a look at Grace’s mosquito bite and then she looked at me to tell me there was nothing we could do except wait it out. Then the nurse said, “Wow, she sure looks like you!” Greg and I looked at each other and started laughing. I said, “Thank you! It’s funny since Grace was adopted from Russia!” The nurse couldn’t believe it!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Oh, what an amazing week! Unbelievably, it was one year ago on Tuesday (July 21) that we met Grace for the first time. What a difference a year makes!

Here is our referral photo of Grace.

Here is one of the pictures we took of her on the first day (July 23) we were allowed to take pictures. She was nine months old.

Here she is today at twenty-one months old!

We spent last weekend at our first annual Astrakhan gathering. We met with the four other families that we met during our first and second trips to Astrakhan. We had so much fun! Monica and Russ were our gracious hosts! Thank you so much! Altogether there were seven beautiful children from Astrakhan. Here are two photos. Because of the timing, we didn’t get all of them in one photo. The second photo includes all of Russ and Monica's children. What a beautiful group!

Micah and Grace were together in Astrakhan while we were waiting for their passports. Here is a picture we took of the two of them in the courtyard of the Korvet Hotel.

Here they are today! Wow!

In my last post, I forgot to tell my saga of weaning Grace from the bottle, so here it is. We arrived home with Grace just a few days short of her first birthday. Our pediatrician recommends weaning from the bottle at 12 months. However, because of all of the other adjustments Grace was going through, she told us to continue the bottle for a while longer, but to wean her off the bottle by the time we came back for her 15 month check up. Well, I couldn’t do it. She loved her bottle! I had tried to give her milk in a cup (warm and/or cold) a few times, but she wanted nothing to do with it. At her 15 month check up, our doctor said we had to get her off the bottle. She gave us three options. She said we could put some flavoring in the milk. But this was her last resort and I agreed. I certainly didn’t want to add sugar to her milk! As a second option, our doctor said to just quit ‘cold turkey’ and give her only milk in a sippy cup. Well, I tried this for the first weekend and Grace would not drink anything. Well, I couldn’t take that, so I went back to the bottle and tried the doctor’s third option, which was to gradually add the taste of milk to her water, i.e. start with one tablespoon of milk added to her water, then two tablespoons, then three tablespoons. Grace still wouldn’t drink it! She knew it wasn’t her usual water! I did get Grace down to just one bottle a day (first thing in the morning). At Grace’s 18 month check up, the doctor didn’t mention the bottle and I didn’t either. I think I was too afraid of what she was going to say to me! I’m sure she assumed that Grace had given up her bottle. Well after this, I decided that as soon as I was out of school for the summer, I would stop the bottle ‘cold turkey.’ I was so worried about how Grace was going to handle this. I didn’t sleep the whole night before worrying about it. Well, as soon as Grace woke up, I went to get her out of her crib. I picked her up and she said “bottle.” I almost started to cry. But I brought her downstairs, put milk in her sippy cup and mixed her oatmeal up with milk. I was trying to act like nothing was different! She started eating her oatmeal and then drinking her milk. Yes, I said drinking her milk! I couldn’t believe it! And that’s all there was to it. She’s been drinking milk out of a sippy cup ever since and has never asked for a bottle again! I guess when she’s ready, she’s ready!

Well, this was a longer post then I had planned on, so I’ll end for now.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Oh, man! I need to start out again with an apology on how long it has been since we posted! It’s been over two months this time! June 19 was my last day of school, so now I’m on summer break! Grace and I have the whole summer to be together. It is absolutely wonderful to spend the entire day with her. She is such a blessing. Let me try to go back and fill everyone in on what’s been going on over the last few months.

There was no reason at all for me to be concerned over her speech and language development. This girl is talking, talking, talking! I was keeping a list of her words, but when it went over 50 words, I stopped! She is now putting words together into short sentences. She says, “I did it,” “I do it,” “Me, out, me,” “Me, go, me,” and many others! It is fascinating to watch and listen to her. There is honestly something new everyday!

My first Mother’s Day was great! We went to my parents to celebrate. Grace (and Greg) got me a bike trailer. Grace did really well on her first ride. I just went a little ways around our subdivision.

Our neighbors gave us their play stucture. Their children are now both in high school, so they really didn’t need it anymore. We were so grateful for their generosity! We bought a baby swing and replaced one of the regular swings. Other than that, it’s in perfect shape! The swing is the biggest hit with the slide as a close second place. She can’t quite climb up the ladder to the slide by herself yet, but we help her do that, then down the slide she comes. Here is a photo of Grace on the swing.
For Memorial Day, my family came over to our house to celebrate. We took Grace to a parade. She seemed to like everything, until they shot off the guns. Thank goodness Greg was holding her when that happened, because she sure hung on tight to him! After the parade, we went back to our house for a barbecue. My cousin Charity and her son Marcus were here from North Dakota. They hadn’t seen Grace since November, so they really couldn’t believe the change. Charity was pushing Grace on the swings and Grace wanted out, so she said “buckle.” Charity knew exactly what Grace wanted!

A couple of weeks ago we went over to our friend’s house for dinner and a play date. They have a son who is two years old. Grace had her first corn on the cob. She loved it! It was the funniest thing to watch!
We got Grace the best water toy ever! If you don’t have one of these, you’ve got to get one! It’s called the Fun Flow Play Sink by Step 2. I couldn’t find it in any store, but was able to order it from the Step 2 website. It was delivered to our house four days later. The first time we set it up, Grace played with it for over two hours!

We celebrated Greg’s first Father’s Day at my parents. It was a beautiful day, so we got out the sprinkler. Grace’s first time with a sprinkler! She loved going right up to the water and letting it hit her right in the face. She was just cracking up!
We took Grace to see her first Detroit Symphony Orchestra concert. The DSO plays at local Metro Parks. We packed a picnic dinner and rode our bikes to the concert. It was just a gorgeous evening. One of the songs had an oboe solo in it. I said to Grace, “Grace, that is an oboe.” She looked at me kinda funny, then pointed to and showed me her elbow. Greg and I started cracking up.

Last week was my first week of summer vacation. We spent the whole week playing outside. We played on the swing, slide, pool, and her sink. We went for walks and bike rides. We met my parents for lunch. I still have all of July and August. Yeah!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Gee, I can’t believe another two months have gone by since we last posted. It’s amazing how quickly time goes by! So much has happened, but I’ll try to go back and catch up on everything. We completed our first post-placement report and everything was sent through to CHI. It was so fun to have our social worker meet Grace!

In our last post I mentioned that Grace was finally saying some real words. I was so concerned because it seemed delayed. In February, she had two words – uh, oh and bye bye. Now she tries to say almost every word that we say. Her regular words are Mama, Dada, Gama, Gapa, hi, thank you, moo, quack, yellow, purple, red, blue, ball, bubbles, and more. I was packing my lunch the other day and I was holding Grace while I was doing it. I said, “Okay, let’s pack my lunch.” She repeated the word “lunch.” She repeats a lot of the words that we say at the end of sentences. I sing a lot of songs to her. Surprise! Anyway, I have been leaving off the last word in the song that I’m singing. Grace has been singing the last word to finish the song. One of her favorites is “Do Your Ears Hang Low?” I’ll sing the song and not sing the word “low.” Grace will finish the song for me by saying ‘low.’ It is so cute!

On March 29, we celebrated our six month anniversary as a family! It’s funny, but we honestly can’t remember when Grace wasn’t a part of our lives. We look back at pictures from when we first met her and the change is unbelievable. She is so expressive now and so affectionate. She laughs all the time, especially when tickled!

I was on Spring Break last week. It snowed!!! It just wasn’t right! Grace didn’t seem to mind, especially when I got the sled out. We went sledding around the yard both Monday and Tuesday. By Wednesday, the snow was all gone, but Grace still wanted me to get the sled down. She kept pointing to the garage wall where the sled was hanging. Hopefully, we are done with the snow for awhile.

On April 8, Grace turned 18 months old. We had her 18 month check up with her pediatrician. Grace is doing well. She has continued to gain weight and has grown over an inch since her 15 month check up. She is still petite and still wears 12 month old clothes. Developmentally she is just where she’s supposed to be or a little ahead in some areas.

We took Grace to a local park that has a nice playscape. She loved the slides. We could hardly get her to leave them to try some of the other things. She wasn’t real crazy about the swings, which surprised me. However, we tried the swing over at our neighbor’s and she really seemed to like that. We’ll keep trying the park’s swings and see how it goes!

Grace made her first visit to the zoo. We bought a membership, so we can go back as often as we want. We had such a good time. I’m not sure that Grace really understood what was going on, but she was looking around and taking it all in.

We took Grace to the farm at a local Metro Park. We saw cows, horses, pigs, goats, sheep, ducks, chickens, rabbits, etc. There were absolutely darling baby goats, sheep, pigs, and a calf. Grace got to pet a two-day-old baby goat. I started to cry, because it was just so precious! Greg didn’t get it!

Easter was so special! My mom bought Grace the cutest dress. She looked absolutely gorgeous! We went to my parents for the weekend, so we went to church there. Grace was the center of attention as always! After church we had an Easter egg hunt. Grace had been on an Easter egg hunt on Saturday with a friend, so she already knew what to do. Here’s a picture of her when her basket was pretty much full!

Well, I think that catches everybody up. We are so blessed!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Boy, we’re sorry it has taken so long to post an update! We have been so busy and enjoying every moment with Grace that we haven’t taken the time to write in our blog. I’ll go back in time to fill you in on some of the things that have been going on.

Thanksgiving was so much fun! We went to my parents to celebrate. Grace met my Aunt Connie and Uncle Sam and a bunch of cousins for the first time. She did so well, especially considering all the new people she was meeting and sleeping at my parent’s house. Here is a picture of Grace with some of her cousins.

Grace was baptized on December 14. We had her baptized at my church where I grew up. It was absolutely beautiful! The whole church has been so supportive of us since we began our adoption journey. It was perfect to have my church family a part of this celebration! Here is a picture that Greg took of Grace when we got back to my parent’s house after her baptism. Isn’t she beautiful!!!!
Christmas was so much fun! While she loved the presents, the bows, paper, and boxes seemed to be the biggest hits! I had two weeks off for the holidays and a bonus Snow Day gave me some extra time. Greg had the week between Christmas and New Year’s off too. It was so nice to spend all that time together. We celebrated Christmas at my parents and then Greg’s family came to our house after Christmas. We had our family photos taken for the holidays. They turned out so good. Here is one of our favorites.

One of Grace's favorite presents that she got for Christmas was the sled that Uncle Darrin got her. It's a tiny little sled with a seatbelt and wide bottom just for little ones. She absolutely loves getting pulled around in the snow. This is probably no surprise, since she liked the wagon so much. This is just like a little red wagon for the snow! She likes to scoop up snow with her mitten as she goes along, and then bring it up to her mouth and eat it! She winds up with snow all over her face and just laughs.

Our last blog entry said that Grace was starting to take a few steps by herself. It’s about two months later and she's walking everywhere now! It seems just overnight she made the decision that she would rather walk than crawl. Of course, she fell down a lot at first, but seems to get better every day. It's so much fun to see her learning so many things and trying out her new independence.

I’ve been so concerned about Grace’s language development. I’ve spoken to our speech therapist at school. She tells me not to worry. Riiiight! She told me to work on things like “Uh Oh” so we’ve been doing that. And sure enough, she’s starting to say it, or at least something pretty close. So her first word seems to be Uh Oh. She also says “num” when she likes what she is eating. I know, it may not be a real a word but it has meaning, so it’s good enough for me. She also says “bye bye” but Greg has yet to hear it so I don’t think he believes me. But her daycare provider says she heard it too, so I have a witness!

She’s still very small for her age. She’s 16 months now, but only wears 12 month clothes. But at her 15 month checkup, she was finally on the charts for both height and weight. We haven’t found much that she won’t eat, so that is helping her to gain weight. Her favorite foods seem to be peas and bananas, but she hasn’t met a fruit or vegetable that she won’t eat yet.

Sleep has been a little rough lately. Grace usually wakes up two or three times each night. Luckily, she usually goes right back to sleep, but there have been some nights where we’re up with her for two or three hours at a time. With three new molars in the last week, we think we may know why she’s restless, although they don’t seem to bother her during the day at all. Last night she slept through the whole night though, so maybe things are looking up! Yay!

I think that should bring you all up to date. We’ll try not to wait so long between posts next time. Thanks again for visiting our blog. Take care.