"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

Saturday, August 25, 2012

What I Know

St. Pete Trip 3 103

We were all packed and ready to take the train ride from St. Pete to Moscow.  It was to be our trial run traveling with a child we’d known for just 10 days.  I was armed with snacks and toys, but I had no idea how she would handle the next 8 hours of juggling from car to train to car to hotel in the middle of the night.  She fell asleep on my lap the last 2 hours of our train ride.  I spent that time looking at every inch of her.  Her perfectly arched eyebrows, her button nose, her bad orphan haircut, and her tiny dimpled hands.  It was after 1am when we finally arrived in our hotel room.  Our wake up call was for 5:30 because the doctor would come at 6.  I laid her in the crib and patted her back.  Her breath settled into a steady rhythm and her thumb went in her mouth, but instead of crawling in bed myself, I sat down in the gold chair in the corner and took out my phone.  I didn’t care what it cost, I had to express all I was feeling.  I texted my friend,

“I studied her hands tonight.  There’s so much I don’t know about her.” 

P7104808That was almost a year and a half ago, but it might as well be lifetime, her lifetime ago.  The other night I was talking about a store I hadn’t been to in awhile.  I caught myself as I started to say, “The last time I was there was when Sof was a baby”.  She was 2 1/2, but still such a baby then.

P7104809She has grown into a little person.  I know her moods, her tendencies, her likes, and her dislikes.  I can close my eyes and picture every part of her little body.  I’ve memorized every finger and toe.

P8125372She likes her clothes to spin.  You know, like when she turns around the dress/skirt must fan out.  She would like to wear a tutu everyday.  She has a drawer full of dancewear, and every morning we have to rediscuss the fact that nothing in that drawer is for everyday wear.  She has an opinion about her hair too.  Most days she must have her hair like Adrienne’s.  She defines girly.  


She’s into best friends.  If she really digs you she’ll say you’re best friends.  She says I love you, but selectly.  If she doesn’t feel it, she won’t say it.  Even if I prompt her.  When she’s done on the phone she always has to kiss and hug it.

P8125384  She’s proud of how big she is, but she knows my heart.  She always follows up with, “I stay little for mommy”. 

P8125388She has a sense of humor.  She laughs when you say silly things.  She thinks “No David” is the funniest book ever.   She gets it.

P8125389She wants to do everything herself.  Including pour her own milk.  Luckily, she’s pretty good at most self help skills, and the ones she can’t do she keeps trying.  Lord help you if you do something for her.  She will snap at you like a mouse taking cheese from a mousetrap.  She knows how to put her hand on her hip and she’s not afraid to use it. 

P8125405It is hard to remember that her story did not start with us.  For us, she begins when she entered our lives.  For her, that is chapter two. 

P8125399She remembers things from that first chapter.  Sometimes she brings them up matter of factly, and sometimes with emotion.  Either way it stops me dead in my tracks every time.


She remembers getting her bangs cut, and showed me how they do it.  She remembers swimming with her doctor.  One night she was tidying up her room.  She told me it was for her Russia brothers and sisters to come.  She tells me she doesn’t like her Russia house.  


Recently, she was in the bathtub.  She was jabbering away like she always does.  I was sitting on the floor playing with my phone, giving the obligatory uhhh humm’s.  I heard her say, "Does Aunt Anne like Joni?”  I said, “Aunt Anne loves Joni”.  She asked, “Why”?   I said,

“Because Mommy’s love their babies”

I looked up and our eyes caught.  In that moment I realized I can never say that  again.  I know right now she can’t piece all this together, but I saw the squint of her eyes indicating she was thinking.  She was filing that comment somewhere deep in her, to be pulled back out at a later date.  My mind fast forwarded to her at different ages asking why her mama didn’t love her.  I thought of the possible answers…I’m your mommy and I love you more than the world, she loved you she just couldn’t take care of you, or God wanted me to be your mommy.  I was later told by my agency to stick to the facts.  Don’t say her birth mother loved her, because that means people can love you and still leave you.  Scratch that one.  Stick to the facts they say, okay, but I don’t have a lot of them.  I believe she will grow into a happy, healthy, confident girl.  I believe she will be totally emotionally stable.  I also believe she will always have questions and wonderings.  She’s too inquisitive not to.


I don’t know how I will answer all her questions.  I love her story.  I think it makes her more interesting.  I hope someday she sees it that way too.  For now, she is a package we are opening everyday.  Discovering new and wonderful things about our beautiful child.

P8195533 After 18 months, I can confidently say, what I know about my child is far greater than what I don’t know. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Little of This, Little of That

This weekend brought a glorious mixture of cool mornings, warm afternoons, and sweatshirt and fire kinda evenings.  We spent it at the cottage where my sister, and Mike and Alison kept us company.  We had time out, shopping, getting coffee, eating, and visiting, and we had time in, boating, napping, eating, and drinking.  We spent time together, and time alone.  It was a perfect balance of yin and yang.    

Regardless of what we’re doing, we move in herds.  After a little shopping and coffee Saturday morning, we headed to the boat.  I’ll be honest, it felt like an obligation.  I can’t bring myself to be at the cottage for a weekend in August without going down to the water.  I do enjoy watching all our ducklings file down the hill in anticipation of water sporting fun.




Lexi brought her best buddy Jack.  He’s not a real adventurous kinda guy, so we had to giggle a bit at him tubing.  The whole ride you could tell he was grinning and bearing it!



I was more than happy to take Sofie back to the house for her nap after her turn tubing.  It was a little piece of heaven to lay on the bed, doorwall open, working on my computer while she slept.  She gave me 2 full hours!


She was well rested when we ventured out for dinner…all 13 of us.



Big T is a restaurant we’ve been going to for years.  When I say years, I mean more then 20.  They serve everything, accommodate large groups(and herds), and are kid friendly! 

$30.00 in arcade money…



$100.00 for dinner…



Not having this mess in my kitchen…



We finished the evening with s’mores.  Perfect!




This morning brought a visit to Grandma’s.  It was actually more like lunchtime, so we brought Wendy’s and ate it picnic style! 

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Grandma is still feeling a lot of pain, but she did look a little better today.  She was able to get down to the dining room once last week, and that socialization does wonders for the body and mind.  Hoping every day brings her more healing.





Reading material is pretty slim pickins at Grandma’s place.  We found a Dr. Suess, but not one of his more popular titles!

I am preparing to drink in my last week of real summer vacation.  Even though school doesn’t start until after labor day, I have to work before that.  The kids are still busy with their activities, but I plan being keenly aware of each morning minus my alarm, and each evening I don’t have to think about lunches and homework.  Where did this summer go?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Weekend Review

I like to think of myself as one of those Olympic gymnasts on the bars right now.  The high bar is summer, and the low bar is fall.  Last Friday I swung around and around on that high bar and then let go doing a split leap suspended just above summer, but not holding on.  I wore jeans and long sleeve tees, went to Starbucks and Target with no rush to get back to the lake, and was able to finish my runs without feeling like I was dying!  I love a cottage weekend without the pressure to be in the lake all day. 

Grandma has not been doing well:(  She has some fractures in her hip that happened because of her age and brittle bones.  It’s making it very difficult for her to get around, and she’s unable to get in the car to and come to us.  So, Em, Anne, and I packed up Natty Bug and headed over to see her. 


Grandma loves her vanilla latte, so we brought her one and sipped our coffee while watching Natalie entertain us!

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When we got back the kids had been down at the lake.  Kaitlyn told Adrienne she wanted to be just like her!  Awwwww.  So Adrienne asked her if she wanted to ski.  She enthusiastically agreed to try it and Adrienne came running up to the house to get skis and cameras and mommies.  Smart girl!  On our way down to the boat Livy and Lexi were coming back up.  Em and I said in unison, “OOOHHHH NOOOOO!  You will stay on the boat and cheer your sister/cousin on while she tries this.” 

P8115309Poor babies, such an awful life they have.  The root of this attitude?  They were not happy about all the praise little Kaitlyn was getting for trying this big kid feet.  They didn’t want to try it and whispered between each other that this was stupid and Kaitlyn wasn’t going to be able to do it anyway.  Oh how badly I wanted her to prove them wrong!  If I could have I would have swam underneath her holding the skis up!  Alas, she got good instruction from her big cousin Adrienne, and made at least 5 tries, but she’s just not quite strong enough this year.




No dice.  Good for her for trying though!  Guess who decided to try it the next day?  Yep, you guessed it, the dismal duo.  Nothing like a little peer pressure from a 6 year old!



Lexi was really close, but no successes yet.  In our book just trying counts as a win though.  We decided to revert back to tubing which everyone is a pro at!





Just for the record, in case anyone doubts my love for our Russian princess, I took off my jeans and put my swimsuit on because Sof wanted to swim.  I only swim when it is HOT.  It wasn’t hot.  Just sayin’.  I love that girl somethin’ fierce to swim on a day like that. 

I don’t know what the flowers on lily pads are called, but they provided good entertainment this weekend.  The girls got creative in finding ways to float out into the pads and collect the flowers.


Despite the temps we had just the right amount of good water time.  The water is still warm even if the breeze isn’t.



We really enjoyed our evening with the doors and windows open.  Everyone just chillin’ and eating. 


Yep, those are your feet.  They are super cute too!


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Kaitlyn continued her quest to be Adrienne’s mini me.  So cute!


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It was such a weird light over the lake that night.


When the sun went down, the cards came out, and kids fell asleep wherever they were. 



When we returned home I continued to let go of summer.  I lit candles and cooked in the crock pot.  I cleaned out closets and took inventory of jeans and jackets.  Suddenly though, it turned warmer, and I realized I still have a few weeks to embrace this short season.  I grabbed that bar back and started to swing again.  Soon enough I will let go and propel myself to that lower bar, but I have a few things left in my summer bucket list to accomplish.  We’re not finished yet… 


I’ve been obsessed with wanting to paddle board ever since Lexi and I saw it on Lake Michigan shortly after 4th of July.  Turns out they rent them on our local lake, so I took Lexi and her friend out.  I loved it!  The kids did great, but it’s pretty hard work.  We paddled for over 2 hours and went all the way across the lake and back.  About the last half hour the girls got pretty tired. I was so proud of them though, they persevered!  We will definitely do this again and bring Mark and Adrienne. 





Those little girls controlled that big board!  It was funny when we got there because they thought we would all share one board.  When they got they’re own they were a little nervous!  Of course Lexi decided quickly that she loved it and wants it to be her “sport”, and wants us to buy her a board, and wants to have her birthday party paddle boarding.  Her birthday’s in March, in Michigan.  The girl is like her daddy, all in! 

I do love you summer…