"Being a family means you are part of something wonderful. It means you will love and be loved for the rest of your life. No matter what." ~Author Unknown

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Progress(and the pitfalls of it)

Everyone I see has lots of questions for me about how Sof is adjusting. When you're living it day to day you forget to write about it! Everyone wants to know about her sleeping. The first few nights she would wake up crying a few times a night. I would pat her back and she would go back to sleep. A couple times I let her cry it out(which didn't take long) and she would also go back to sleep. The last two nights she's slept through
the night, but woken up around 6 when Adrienne is up and getting ready.Again, I pat her back and she goes back to sleep. I assume she will get used to hearing that activity in the morning and sleep through it. I had to wake her up at 8:00 this morning to get Lexi to school! I have no complaints though. She's in her own bed and sleeping more each night. As for the Daddy issue, very slow. She seems to be more tolerant of him everyday. It's hard with him and Adrienne because they are gone so much. Adrienne is almost NEVER home so it's hard for her to make progress, and Mark is at work all day and our nights are crazy. Tonight we had good progress though because she actually approached him on her own. She was playing with Lexi's iPod and Mark encouraged her to come show him. She did and then a few minutes later the screen went black. She went to him and held it up for him to fix! Big step! She's lovin Lexi(who doesn't?) and plays happpily with her. Lexi loves to be the little mother! So you may be wondering, "What are the pitfalls?". Well, with each little bit of confidence Sof gains she gains a little bit of naughtiness! She's learning she now has choices, and is liking her freewill. Today we had several battle of the wills...stiffening in the carseat, refusing to hold my hand, not wanting to leave, etc. What happened to my sweet girl who was happy to be on my hip?? Who told this child she has choices??? I'm sure it was one of the older girls! I'm so glad she is finding her place in this world, but as they say, "Be careful what you wish for"!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Busy Just Being

We've jumped right into our regular routine with shopping, cooking, and lots of driving big sisters around! Sofia seems to become more confident with each passing minute and experience. She's such a good girl, but has a hint of trouble to make her normal! She's been sleeping and eating well. She doesn't seem to like meat, but I haven't decided if that's a taste or a texture thing. Last night she slept through the night without waking up and didn't get up until 7:30. She is in a big girl bed with a rail and doing great! This morning we went to the pediatrician for a full check up. She was so good! The nurse was a male, and I was immediately nervous about how that would go over. Sof tolerated him though! She had blood work done which will determine what immunizations she will need to have done. She also has a Sacral Dimple, which is a small "hole" at the top of her buttcrack. It isn't that uncommon and usually doesn't require any treatment or have any bearing on normal development. It basically means that the spinal cord didn't fuse right, and in some cases can mean it's teathered. I will take her for an ultrasound to see if that's the case in her. She is already walking and has normal reflexes so nothing to worry about there. This begs the question...did we know about this when we accepted her referral? The answer is no. It is only visible when you change her diaper and spread her bottom. I changed her diaper twice when we had visits in the baby home and never noticed it. I only noticed it when we were in our hotel room. It wouldn't have changed anything, but it is kind of irritating to me that it was missed/ignored/left out of paperwork. So, we will wait for bloodwork to come back for immunizations, get the ultrasound, have an eval for fine and gross motor skills, and doctor will call me back about speech & language eval(not sure if we're going to do this right now or wait for fall). All things that were expected in her care.

Getting into the cupboards!

We went out to dinner with some of my teacher friends. You can't tell in this picture but my friend Beth was on all 4's on the floor picking up Sofia's dropped crayons. This kid has so many people wrapped around her little finger!

Don't tell this happy camper that she's about to get poked for blood!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Home Sweet Home

It's so great to be home!  I'm just going to give a quick run down of the last couple days, because now I have laundry and cleaning to do and can't just sit on the computer(the drawback of being home)!  The flights home were uneventful.  Sofia was so good!  She slept a few hours but mostly ate and played quietly. 

In the hotel before leaving.
Taking a snooze on the plane:)

These pictures were taken at JFK airport.  A new American citizen! 

We had lots of friends and family at the airport to meet us.  Everyone was so excited to see her in person!  The first day home was busy.  Alexa had dance so we dropped her off and went to have a Starbucks!  Of course I had to get one for Sof!  Her first Starbucks steamed milk, and so sweet they didn't charge me for either drink!  They know me well and have been waiting for her homecoming also!
She so knows how to pose for pictures!

The hardest thing coming home has been her reception to the other kids.  She still is not interested in Mark at all, but he understands.  The kids however have been waiting for her for so long, and just want her to love them.  She is still very attached to me and not good with others.  Not sure if that is a real diagnosable adoption issue, or just her personality.  I know it hasn't been long, but I just don't know if I should be doing something different.  This morning Lexi and I sat and played blocks with her, and then I edged myself away.  Lexi was really happy and it was a good step!
Adrienne is gone all weekend at a dance convention so we'll see how that goes tonight!  Sof is having fun checking out her surroundings and playing with all her new toys.  By the way, she hates dolls and stuff animals.  Same reaction she has to people...hmmmm.  One step at a time:)


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Good Bye Moscow, Good Bye Russia

Today was our last day in Russia.  Tomorrow we will be headed home!  We had to go to the US Embassy this morning to get Sofie's Immigration Visa.  That was a trip!  Like everything else here there was a long line, and we were told not to wait.  Go ahead of everyone waiting and go to the beginning of the line.  No problem, well for me!  Mark was a nervous wreck!  While there we met another couple adopting a 9 year old girl.  So nice to converse with others going through the same process.  After that our driver took us to Red Square so we could walk around there for awhile.  Yes, it was as cold and windy as the pictures look!  We went back to the hotel for naptime and walked to the mall for dinner tonight.  Then it was bath, pack, and bed!  So excited to be headed home tomorrow morning!
Outfit of the day!

Red Square

St. Basil's

This one's for you Aunt Anne!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Not much to report...

We are missing St. Pete:(  It was pouring down rain here this morning so we really couldn't take Sofia and go out.  By the time it cleared up(and started snowing instead of raining) our coordinator couldn't take us to Red Square.  We were advised not to try it on our own.  So, we hung out in the hotel room and had a good nap.  This evening we went down to one of the restaurants in the hotel.  The presentation was as rich as the prices.  Good food though and they gave Sof a little toy!

Tomorrow we will complete the last of our paperwork before heading home!  Two more sleeps and I will have all my girls under the same roof!  That makes for sweet dreams:)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hello from Moscow

We woke up this morning in Moscow in our new hotel room.  We left our room in St. Pete around 4pm yesterday and checked in here around 12:15am.  It was a taste of what our travel home will be like!  Sofie passed with flying colors.  She really is such a good girl!  First we had to stop and see our coordinator S to get some of our final paperwork from her.  We said our good byes and she gave us a sweet little gift.  Then we went to the passport office to get Sofia's passport.  We waited in the car while Mark and the translator went in.  Then we headed to the train station.  More waiting there as we were about 2 hours early.  Finally we got on the train.  It was very comfortable, lots of room, nice diaper changing area, and a food car.  Sof played quietly on my lap for awhile, then I gave her some snacks and she fell asleep.  She slept for probably 1 1/2 hours then I had to wake her up and drag her out of the train, into the car, and in the hotel.  By then she was awake and ready to play.  She toddled around a bit while we got settled and I thought there was no way she would go back to sleep.  Like usual, she surprised me.  As soon as I laid her down in bed she knew it was bedtime.  It was more like a nap though because it was well after one before we got in bed and our wake up call was at 6.  Early this morning a doctor came to look at Sofia to clear her for immigration.  She did pretty well considering her fear of strangers.  Today we are going to do Red Square because it is our only free day in Moscow.  Off to get ready!
Leaving St. Pete

Surely the best dressed on the train:)

Ready to take on Moscow!

Princess Sofia

Yes, I'm a princess!
We leave St. Pete this afternoon for Moscow.  We will get picked up around 4 and go to get Sofie's passport.  Then the train will leave at 7:30pm and arrive in Moscow at 11:30pm.  It will be a little taste of what Friday's travel will be like.  So far Sofie has proven to be pretty flexible, but even so it's asking a lot of a 2 year old!  Wish us luck:)  Probably won't be able to do any updates until tomorrow.  Not sure what our schedule will be like in Moscow either.  I just know it will go pretty fast and get us to Friday when we can come home!     

Monday, March 21, 2011

Quick Update

More of the same today...sightseeing, eating, super cute girl!  Went to St. Isaac's Cathedral this morning.  Big and beautiful.  We went to a different coffeeshop also and both wondered why we hadn't gone before.  Love it!  It's kinda like the St. Pete version of Starbucks.  Sofie and I had our first coffee(I had coffee, she had milk)!     
After naptime we headed to the mall for dinner and some shopping.  We wanted to get a few things before heading off to Moscow tomorrow.  We have our comfort zone here and know where to find everything we need!  Sofie was trooper again today.  Tonight she was a bit of a stinker!  She's definitly getting comfortable and testing some of her boundaries.  No news on the Mark front, still tolerates him!  He prepares most her food and gives it to her so she will associate something good with him.  Tonight after dinner Mark offered her some yogurt melts(her favorite) and she wouldn't take them from him.  She dropped her bowl on the ground.  I scolded her(gently) and took the bowl away, and she was so mad!  I wouldn't give her the snacks though.  She cried it out and finally decided she wasn't getting them any other way so she took them off Mark's hand.  Round 1 goes to Mommy!  I admit I'm tiring of the issue already and hoping to see improvement coming quickly!  My hope is that when we get home she will see the other girls lovin' and playin' with Daddy and decide to join in.  My fear is that she will treat my big girls this way also.  I'm just ready to get home in our comfort zone.  Tomorrow is the first step, off to Moscow!     
Loving her strawberries!

Silly Me!

This morning I had to take stock of what outfits I had left and which ones I wanted Sofie to wear when.  So, I decided we would use one of her not quite as cute outfits today, and save the others for Moscow.  Silly me, she looks ridiculously adorable in anything!!!  Judge for yourself:)

Her shirt says, "Think happy thoughts, Big smiles, Love life".  Not hard with this girl around!

Every morning she takes her blanket and pajamas and puts them in a pile in the corner.  I think I could put this girl to work at home:)  Anyone know where I could get a stool for her to reach the washing machine?  Just kidding people...don't send me nasty comments!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Being a Culley is exhausting!

Today we headed out around 11 to eat lunch and go see the Hermitage.  The Hermitage is a giant museum filled with paintings and all sorts of other stuff!  It's an all day event, but we couldn't leave St. Pete without seeing it.  It is not something you can go to and get back for nap.  Well, maybe if we had started a lot earlier, but our sweetpea likes to sleep in and I'm not messing with that!  Instead we headed out and decided we would take our chances with missing naptime.  Sofia is such a good girl!  She was happy in the stroller or in the carrier, and she also walked right by me too!  I was so proud of her.  So many people smiled and talked to her!  I wanted to say, "Hey, you get one of these right up the road!  Go pick one up!  They need you!!!".  Again, I restrained.  We had a great day walking and seeing the museum, and it was almost 6:00 before we got back to the hotel.  Our Sofie did so great, but fell asleep on the way back.  She woke up mildly cranky but we ventured down to the hotel restaurant for dinner.  She ate a big dinner and then I took away her cup of juice and it was meltdown!  We weren't bothered or surprised, she was more than entitled to her feelings!  Luckily we were done, so we paid and headed out.
Notice the face?  She knows when mark is behind her!

Winter Palace(one of the Hermitage buildings, the one we toured)

Look Mom!

The cutest display in the place, and the one I was most interested in!

All tired out!
Yes, that face was for me!  First time she's been mad at me, not the last!

We figured the rest of the night would be a bust, so we did bath and bedtime routine right away.  We decided to keep her up a few minutes longer though because we wanted to Skype with our big girls before they go back to school tomorrow.  All the sudden she got a second wind and was all fired up!  The great thing about this is that Mark was in the room!  Usually when I Skype Mark sits in the hallway so she will interact on the computer.  Yesterday if he was in the room she wouldn't even look up.  Tonight she was totally going about her business and even continued chattering when he sat behind us.  This is HUGE!  Pray it continues to improve tomorrow!  Have I mentioned how smart this girl is?  She repeats everything I say, and loves her books!  We go through them over and over and she repeats the words.  She says meow everytime she gets to a cat, and knows a few other animal sounds.  She also waves and says Hi and Bye!  We are so amazed at how quickly she learns!  Tonight my sister blew her a kiss and I showed her once and she did it!  I told you, genius!  Anyway, I'll leave you with some super cute pics of her brushing her teeth(which she LOVES to do!).  Sweet dreams:)


Good Morning!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Ups and Downs of Sofie

 We had a typical day in the life of parents.  Some disappointments, some surprises, and some joys.  First I'll tell you about the disappointments/frustrations.  Everytime Sofia wakes up it's like starting over.  She mourns a little that we're still here(sorry babe, it wasn't a bad dream), and she gets really clingy(to me), and she takes forever to warm up.  Her distaste for Mark seems worse not better.  I think it's a combination of the fact that he's a male and not wanting to share me with anyone.  Hoping this gets better with time.  Tonight when we were doing bath she walked past him holding my hand.  Yep, that's what a good step looks like.  In the morning when I take my shower Mark feeds her her oatmeal and she tolerates it.  Baby steps...it's only been 2 days:)  On to better things!  We went down to the flea market/souvenier stands today.  It's a pretty good walk and Sofie was happy looking around.  Got your nesting doll Beth!  Then we went to a burger shop for lunch.  I gave Sofia a straw and she thought it was the greatest thing!  My mommy heart loved seeing her discover something new, and my teacher brain loved that she could put the straw in her sippy cup, fitting it perfectly without tipping or hitting the sides.  Good fine motor sweetpea! 
That took us to naptime.  Last night we bought some baby tea at a toy store in the mall.  It is common practice for the kids to drink tea here.  The can we bought is for 6 months and up!  So, before nap we mixed some up and she seemed so happy to have it!  Before nap and bed I sit with her and her warm drink and cuddle and read books.  That brings visions of cuddling your sweet baby with a bottle or sippy cup doesn't it?  It's a little more awkward with a coffe mug between us!  Don't worry, we really snuggle in when she finishes drinking!
For dinner we went to our favorite Sushi place that we never see kids at.  We decided we were going to take our chances and go for it.  Success!

Highlight of the day was skyping with all our family back home.  Everyone was there!  Grandmas, Grandpa, Aunts,  Uncle, Cousins, and Sisters!  I swear I could just leave Skype up all day as we go about our business!  Mark stayed out in the hallway so Sofie showed her talkative, delightful self!  She loves Skyping.  She gets excited to see herself on the screen and espescially loves to see kids!  I could be creating a monster.  I'm thinking maybe Mark should Skype us from the hallway to try to build a relationship!  Hmmmm...maybe tomorrow:)    

Questions and comments!

Sally...We leave St. Pete on Tuesday by speed train.  Then we spend Wednesday and Thursday finishing up in Moscow,  and leave for home Friday.  Yay!!!  Heather...good thinking on the toy.  Decided against it which makes you like my financial advisor, saved me $50!  Figured out today she just needs a straw to play with anyway!  Will post more later after dinner:) 

See What I'm Wearing Today:)

I don't like to stand still, so this is the best you're getting full length!

Uh oh, is that Daddy guy coming?

Nope, he's in the shower.  I'll continue playing with Mommy!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Day 2 as a Culley

We continued to get to know each other today.  Sofia did a lot of tossing and turning last night, but never cried.  She ended up sleeping until 10am so we got a late start.  We also wanted to skype with our big girls so we hung around the room for that.  By then it was lunch and nap time for Sof.  Just after she got up from her nap we got a skype call from my class!  It was so cute!  They are having pajama day at school so they all sat around the computer in their jammies.  I could have spent the whole day skyping to stay connected to home.  I'm so done here!  I really love this city and it's great to just focus on Sofia, but the idea of being home in my own routine trumps all that right now!  It's not about me though...so on to Sofie!  She loves her books.  Especially "Good Night Moon" and a color book I bought her.  She has already picked up on a couple animal sounds, and she repeats everything I say.  This girl is so ready to talk!  In fact I fear once she learns she will never stop!  She's a smart cookie though!  Delayed...but eager to catch up:)   

This evening we decided it was time to get out and face the world.  She was NOT happy about that idea.  She likes the comfort of our room, and even then she doesn't want Mark in it!  But she's a Culley now so she's gotta figure it out.  I bundled her up, stapped her in the stroller, and headed out.  She cried until we got to the street, and then she started looking around.  We headed to the mall(where else?).  She ended up doing great!  We ate in the food court and did a little shopping.  She sat in the highchair, rode in the stroller, and even walked a bit.  All big steps for her! 
I love how she drinks!
Eating some soup:)
This special face is reserved just for Mark...everytime he so much as looks at her!
See the face?  Daddy's taking the picture.  Before that she was in heaven in the shoe store.  Mommy was too until she saw every shoe was $120 and up:(
Ready to go home!
We got back to the room and had a bath, warm milk, and bed.  I already tell she's sleeping more soundly tonight!  Tomorrow we will go out walking to the flea market!