Monday, May 23, 2016

Happy Adoption Day!!!

So May 26 is the official adoption day, but we celebrated this past weekend by going to a water park. Gianna got to choose where we went, and out of the options (zoo, aquarium, I forget what other options we gave her) she picked water park!  We headed up to Great Wolf Lodge for a few days of fun.  The kids had a BLAST!!!

Wolf ears are standard issue upon checkin.  Here we are surveying the water park.

This trip we got to marvel at how far we've come behaviorally with our eldest.  She allowed herself to enjoy the whole experience!  Nine months ago she would have probably found a reason, any reason, to sabotage the fun and sulk in a corner for an hour and a half.  Or her anxiety would have been through the roof at every water slide and pool and sprinkle of water, and she would have wanted to go on but then bailed and whined and hem-hawed and not really done anything and then been withdrawn and sullen because she didn't get to experience the fun.  Battling yourself must be almost as exhausting as reading that run-on sentence.  INSTEAD - you have never seen such joy and elation!  Or such bravery!  You could see it in her eyes - she was not about to let anything get in the way of her enjoyment of the activities.  She needed next to no encouragement to slide down the bigger kid slides, even when her head got underwater at the end!  She was the first to volunteer to go down the biggest slides with me.  Everyone got a little whiney and tired by the end of the day, ("But I don't WANT to go over there..." type thing), but with just a dash of acknowledgement and encouragement to follow the family, she complied readily and happily.  It was... was... almost like... like a normal kid!  I was so impressed and happy I could have fainted.  We were all ready with a "sabotage plan" should we need it, and to our joy, we did not need to employ it!  She had one 30-second withdrawn anxiety-fest once when she fell and bumped her arm.  But Dad simply said "I see you fell and bumped your arm.  That stinks!  Come Gianna, we're going to get splashed by the bucket!"  And that was it.  Off she went.  Healed!  It's a miracle! :)

Our room had a separate little "cabin" for the kids.  Very cute!

Kian was also very brave and tackled some big things that surprised me.  He was determined to learn to swim and he got quite a bit of coordination down on a life-jacketed doggie paddle.  He even started to make forward motion by the end of the day!

Again! Again!

This smaller one she did over and over again, too, even though her head got wet almost every time.

Enjoying and "bucket of ice cream" break

Happy Adoption Day to our amazing little family girl, Gianna!!!

Thursday, May 19, 2016


So why talk on and on when I can post pictures?  Here are some recent photos for your enjoyment!

This photos is special in particular because it shows Gianna's growth in social situation.  That blur is her running around with palm branches in church on Palm Sunday.  A year ago she was huddled in my shoulder petrified of other people.

Now here she is the confident little miss, feeling comfortable in her environs!

Here we see Gianna working on right/left coordination, practicing with new gross motor movements, applying her nascent knowledge that if Mom and Dad say it's safe and that she's ok - that she'll more than likely be ok, and overcoming her fears and anxieties and misbeliefs that the world is inherently against her and she must maintain control at all costs or any new situation will likely result in death.  Oh, and she's learning to ride a bike. :)

First Easter eggs!  She looooooovvveeesss hard-boiled eggs, so to Gianna, this tradition is the bees knees!  Next year we tackle the pysanky - the traditional Ukrainian Easter eggs!

Flying a homemade kite in the spring breeze!

Ponds are the best

A tulip that we planted together is growing!  No one is more excited as Gianna.  Tulips were blooming everywhere in Ukraine when we left last year.  It's a bittersweet memory for her, but we paid tribute to this memory by planting our own tulip bed last fall - and here they are blooming just in time to celebrate her adoption anniversary!  Anniversaries are happy but sad.  They're happy-sad.

But there's also mustache day at school - and who can be too too sad while sporting a superior 'stache?  I ask you, who?