Tuesday, June 16, 2015

HOME - the first week

So here we are, one week in!  What a week it's been!  Our first few days were chaos but we managed, then the days got easier for a little where everyone played a little better, then it got hard again with everyone feeling the stress.  It wasn't "fun" anymore, and the last few days have been more difficult with whining and tantrums and grumpiness and sadness.  Gianna has had only a few outbursts, mostly just attitude.  She is generally sunny and compliant.  Logan has been the most vocal with lots of crying at night and temper tantrums.  Kian has been sad and felt ignored a lot.  We are honeymooning but everyone is adjusting in their own ways, too.  It's a strange vortex phase.  One huge praise - we hardly had ANY problems with jet lag.  It seriously was a non-deal.  The language barrier is obvious and difficult.  She is already picking up words like; stand, sit, please, hey wait, Logan/Kian don't, blue, kitty, puppy, "come here".  Those are the ones I can think of now.  Those are the ones she uses unprompted from memory.  She repeats a lot of words we say.  I'll be perfectly honest, I can't wait for her to speak English.  I ache so often to communicate with her.  There are times that she is telling me about her previous life with wide eyes and I just have to stare and pray that she tells me again later when I have a video recorder running.  Someday we'll be able to talk and think through things together and I can tell her about how God loves her - all of her, her difficult parts and her lovely parts.  Someday.  Sooner rather than later from what I'm hearing!  We're managing, learning, getting to know one another, figuring this whole thing out.  Day by day, little by little.  Next on the agenda - move to the new house!
the first morning - toys!

my bed!

this bunny!


whatever this is!

the first breakfast

the first day.  it felt like babysitting.  "let's get every toy and every costume out and take it back and forth inside and outside and inside and outside!"

our schedule, helps me relay what the plan is for the day

finding things she likes to do

"quiet time".  lol.  welcome to America kiddo!

"Masha and the Bear" is a Russian cartoon and it has given her a welcome break from all the English.  I think it makes her feel comfort in stressful days.

helping Daddy cut strawberries

umbrellas are like the coolest thing apparently, even when it's not raining

learning to play together



Saturday, June 13, 2015

TRAVEL - finishing up

Lots of paperwork fury happened after we got her out of the orphanage.  Then we waited in Odessa a few days and headed to Kiev to wait for her passport to arrive.  We did several appointments and paperwork before the passport came, just couldn't pick the results up until it came.  Also waited to finish at the embassy for the passport.  Nail-biting later, I'm glad we did that, because the passport was a few days later than expected.  Then we had to run like crazy to finish things up and fly out that weekend.  It was crazy, and there were lots of twists and turns in the road.  One near disaster after another, and we landed back at home all together!!!  We were crunching up to deadlines and praying A LOT.  The trip home was better than I expected, but still long and arduous.  None of it seemed to matter, though, when we were finally in our own beds tucking our children in.  All worth it!  We came home almost a week ago tomorrow.  Here's how the rest of the trip looked:

shopping together in the streets of Kiev

See that tiny door by Zack's head?  That's the SDA.  Where all Ukrainian adoptions go.  wild.

First morning as a family.

Going wild in Odessa!

exploring the Delphinarium in Odessa.


Getting to know each other.  Very well.  In one room.  The majority of the time.  Help.

Try telling her not to drink the water.  I dare you.

Getting to be a pro on the swing!

Our delightful bunch of kiddos.

Grass!  Running free in the grass outside of the embassy.  Waiting to go in for our visa.

This is the life!

"I'm going to my new home!!!"

Yep.  I used a tablet.  Not apologizing.

Goodbye Ukraine!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

TRAVEL - the day we busted her out

An excerpt from what I sent to family about the day we took Gianna out of the orphanage:  

May 25, 2015.  One of the most unique days I've ever had. It started with waiting. A lot of waiting. Waiting for the call that Elena was in town and we would start the process to bust Gianna out. Adoption is not "hurry up and wait", it's "waaaaaaiiiit, then HURRY UP!" That's what happened. The afternoon was a blur of flurry scurry paperwork doing and gift buying and packing up. Poor Carrie and Drew had to pack up in 15 minutes when we discovered that Elena had to be at the court by 5.  So with all that done, we ended up at the orphanage at 6pm to pick Gianna up. I brought a new outfit for her, including underwear and shoes (which she was very excited about), and her new little backpack where she put all the remaining toys and things that we had left that we could find.  She was all smiles, definitely aware of what was going on.  She had said goodbye to her friends.  She was ready.  We gave a letter to the caregiver and the caregiver gave us a book with a handwritten note and a stack of the drawings that she had done while she lived there.  We then all piled in the van and went to supper. Other than everyone needing to go to the bathroom all at once it was really a good family time. That's also thanks to Drew and Carrie's help.  The kids played around in the park after the meal.  Kian was elated that his new sister is with us "forever now", and Logan seemed curiously interested.  Gianna was skeptically tolerant of her new brothers.  So with all that stress over, all that was left was to head to Odessa and get our room. All the kids did STELLAR on the 2 hour ride to Odessa. Everyone was calm and played a little. Gianna listened to new Masha her doll sing songs the ENTIRE way. I'm glad that thing has over 100 phrases (kinda cool) or else that would have been torture. As it was, it wasn't.  smile emoticon Then we got to the hotel and the stress started again. Gianna was an hour late for her medication, I had to go to the bathroom so badly it was crazy, and the driver needed to be paid, and we needed to check in. Carrie and Drew helped tremendously herding our little brood of cats and checking us in and helping us get our bags to our room and helping us find our room. Etc. Then the fun began. For a while we let Gianna explore her new environment.  Dialing the phone, jumping maniacally on the bed, flipping TV channels, eating, drinking, and being merry.  Then it got late and time to wind things down.  Gianna felt as though she was free and in Disney World and didn't understand that we shouldn't jump on the bed anymore - it's bedtime and she needed to get her jammies on and brush her teeth. No surprise after the (no doubt emotional roller coaster) day she had that she ended up mad at me, crawled under the bed and pretended to read the phone book. Not kidding. So then with some animated cheerful persuasion she came out, I showed her my little "bedtime routine" picture, and she got more on board. I don't know how many times we needed to redirect her from bouncing on the bed. She refused to listen to stories, and instead looked at the city lights off the balcony with her new papa.  Then she didn't want to get tucked in, and instead wanted to listen to her doll some more. So we listened to Masha say "esho, esho, esho" and sing Russian songs for quite a long time. Kian and Logan were so tired they passed out almost immediately in spite of Masha's serenading.  When I finally went to bed well after midnight, after posting on Facebook and soaking my feet a bit (processing the day), Gianna was still awake and rustling around. She shifted around for a little bit, laying on her pillow in 100 different ways. Then she said she had to go to the potty and I took her. Then she laid down beside me, I rubbed her back, held her hand and she was out LIKE A LIGHT. She slept well all night and woke up easily the next morning. So did the boys. Not too bad upon reflection. So ended day one of our new family!

Signing her out!

She looked so cute and small packing up her things.

All ready to go!

Listening to the new Masha doll all the way to Odessa.  Kian enamored with his new sister's presence.  Keeps asking "am I always going to have a sister now?"

Welcome to the family, Gianna!