Sunday, April 10, 2011

List of winners

Okay, I have FINALLY been able to complete all of the draws for our final fundraiser!!!!  If you are a winner of ANYTHING, please email me at, so that I can keep track of your email address and make arrangments to get your prize to you.  Please bear with me a little longer, as I get the list together with email addresses for the free pendents from Sarah's Treasure Box.

A huge congrats to the one and only Mrs. Renee Tam for winning the iPad !!!!!!!

Okay, so here is the recap of winners.

Daily Draw - Set of 4 custom bookmarks

March 16th - Renee Tam
March 17th - Luba Bowden
March 18th - Renee Tam
March 19th - Sarah White
March 20th - Cammy Lockwood
March 21st - Susan Sunderlin
March 22nd - Katherine Parker
March 23rd - Theresa Smith
March 24th - Alicia Fanz
March 25th - Nicole Arigo
March 26th -  Chris Rengent

Goals Reached - $25 gift card

$500 - Renee Tam - Donated money back to fund :)
$1000 - Cammy Lockwood
$2000 - Susan Sunderlin
$4000 - Melissa Moos - Donated money back to fund :)
$8000 - Stefanie Senkiw
$16000 - Eric Hanchett

End of Weeks - $10 gift card

March 21st - Cammy Lockwood
March 26th - Luba Bowden

Most Shared - $30 gift card

Renee Tam

Large Draw Prizes

iPad - Renee Tam

Turbo Jam Video - Melissa Moos

Shaun T's Fit Kids Club Video - Margert Green

Tutu Dress - Steven Schlesinger

Darling Royal Doulton Figurine - Brian Jones

Blankie Boo - Susan Blatt

Mary Kay Tote - Chris LaMar

Mary Kay Clutch - Nicole Butcher

Scentsy Buddy - Theresa Smith

Congratulations to all of the winners!!!!! 

We really want to thank everyone so much for every penny of support that we have received, every prayer that has been thought or spoken for us, every good though and good wish that people have spared for us.  With out each and every one of you, we would not be sitting here in Easter Europe, bonding with and loving on this amazing little girl, who has been missing from our lives for so long.  And who know how much longer she would have stayed sitting here waiting for a family of her own, under estimated and under loved.  You have all been a part of our miracle, of putting our family together.  The words just don't seem enough, and the prizes are just material things to add interest, fun and encouragment.  Please know that for every donation, and each comment, note, email, yahoo post, phone call, in person converstaion, etc we have thanked you, and sent you love and blessings. 

Since here the internet has not been as cooperative as I hoped it would be, and K has been slightly more wild then I though she would be.  Please know that if it takes me another 2 years or longer, I will respond to all of you, and that each of you hold a special place in my heart.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Our sick girl - April 7, 2011

This morning’s visit went well. We played in the little area outside of her groupa’s main living space, where they get ready to go outside. We found some little ride on toys that the girls had fun on, even though they are both WAY too big for them. K did get a little silly a few times and opened the door to yell something at her group and then slammed the door in a little ones face. Well, that only happened once, she did go for the door a few more times, but we were faster after the first incident.

During our break this afternoon Em & I accompanied Mike on his afternoon trip to the store. We decided to go looking to see if there was anything new or more in the next village down the highway, as he has already found a nice little market down that direction. We didn’t end up finding very much, and stopped as we crossed over into a different region (oblast). There was a gas station there, so we went in, to see what supplies we could get there. I was super excited to score some Nestea Iced Tea, which certainly is NOT what it would be at home, but it’s better then nothing, and it is NOT pop. We also found a Barbie Repunzle movie in an East European language…although we are not sure if it is the right one for our girl or not. We put it on for Em when we got back to our room, and it offered English as a language option!!! YEA!!! We know that we will not be able to play it on our player when we get home, but we are hoping that when we get back to the capital city that we may be able to find an external player for the computer, and a few more children’s DVDs.

K was sounding a little congested last week when we meet her, and it has been slowly progressing over the week. Now her nose has been running constantly, and she has been sneezing off and on. The good news about all of this is that she is excellent about blowing her nose on command, and has become very good at coming to us and asking to have it wiped. The bad news is that this afternoon, it turned into a fever.

We visited this afternoon in the music room again. Don’t get me wrong. I know we are lucky, and I am VERY grateful to have such a large, bright, enclosed, private place to visit with her. But man, does it ever get HOT in there! The girls are always flush and a little damp, if not out right sweating by the time we are finished in there. So when K came in a hugged me, I though she felt warm, but wasn’t sure as my hug was quick as she rushed over to see Daddy. But then Mike thought that she felt warm too.

She ripped through the bag and found the snacks as usually. As she was standing leaning on me drinking her juice I could feel that she was really starting to burn up. We weren’t sure if we should take her back to her room or not. Considering that they had just brought her down, and completely changed her since this morning’s visit, we figured that they must already know, and not be all that concerned, so we continued with our visit.

We painted the girls nails. K has obviously had this done before, as she sat very still and straight and displayed her fingers for me. She colored and ran around. But as she started to run towards things that she is not supposed to, such as the piano, she didn’t seem to have as much enthusiasm as she normally does. When we told her “No”, she would stop, kind of turn, and half smile. I picked her up and we twirl danced back into the middle of the room, away from all of the “no” items. When I put her down she asked to be picked back up. She snuggled her little hot head into my shoulder and neck, and we danced most of the rest of the visit away. For a while I had her lying in my arms across my chest like a baby, and we just stared at each other while I sang what ever song was playing on the radio and we danced. She fought off sleep the entire time. I loved having her calm and happy in my arms. Feeling like I was able to help her feel better and happy. I think she really enjoyed it too. I was so happy to see that she was more then happy to keep such intense eye contact for so long.

I have no idea what they normally do for fevers, but I know that it’s not the same as what I would do. We sure hope that she is feeling better tomorrow!!!!

Playing in the groupa`s mud room

Happy girls, but her eyes look heavy....

Daddy snuggles

He got a smile out of her!!!! :)

Mummy snuggles for a little girl not feeling so great :(

The Therapy Room - April 6, 2011

Each time that we arrive at the orphanage we are supposed to attempt to check in with the director, and if she isn’t here, then we are to check in with the on duty nurse (whose office is directly across the hall from the directors). Often there is no one in either office, and we stand and wait for someone to come along and say “Dobre den. K?”, and then they will take us to where ever we will visit this time, and then they go and let the groups know that we are there, and someone will bring K to us.

Today we actually got to see the director, and she is the one who took us up to the music room. The director also brought K back to us, with all of her outdoor clothing. So, we bundled her up and we headed outside for our visit. We all had fun playing. Their playgroup equipment is in pretty poor shape. I wish we could do something to fix it up for them, but I wonder if that would be worth it or not when they have so many other needs, and this facility is scheduled to close…..

As it got closer to the time to take her back in for lunch, we started to walk around to the front of the building. We saw that her groupa was all outside, so we played a little more, as we can’t take her back until they are all inside. We went over to the gazebo, and the children came up to the garden swing. The caregivers loaded all of the children on to the swing and were swinging them there. K kept yelling something at them, and a few of them would yell back to her. She was very silly and lovey, showing off her Momma to her group. She would crawl into the gazebo, and then leap out into my arms and burry her head into my neck looking for tons of silly kisses and snuggles, and then she would do it again, and again….

When it was time to go in, we walked in with the groupa. One of the caregivers attempted to talk with me. She asked me how we were liking Ukraine, where we were from, and how we were liking K. She said “How you are liking K? Like? Love?” She completely hit something, because I started to cry and couldn’t answer right away. I thumped my hand over my heart a few times, and managed to say “Love, love, love”. She smiled at me, and seemed very relived and happy to hear that.

As I was about to go, the caregiver got my attention again and said “You buy Pampers. Thank you, THANK you. Thank you. Pampers, big problem.” I smiled at her and said your welcome, in their language, and then told her that we will bring more.

During our orphanage break, we walked around the grounds where we are staying. We feed the swans, and visited each of the gazebos at Em’s request. Such a beautiful place this is, and such a perfect time of year to be here. I love watching all of the trees and flowers burst open and grow.

When we arrived this afternoon, there was a new lady in the nurse’s office. She took us up to the hall in front of K’s room, and had us wait. Then she came out with K, and led us all downstairs. So strange, and we had NO idea where we were going. She took us to an area that we had never been to before, and then, we were in the therapy room. It was GREAT! It was so nice to be somewhere different, with different activities to do. In a room that is meant for running, jumping, and a little silliness. It was also good to see that K had obviously been in here before, and she was eager to show off her skills. Climbing the wooden ladder, walking the balance beam, throwing the balls, putting on boxing gloves….oh my. We had tons of fun in the therapy room. I hope that we get to play in there again one day. The change of scenery and variety of activities was GREATLY appreciated.

Snack time outside

Tiny broken swings, BUT she loved them!

In our new surroundings

Trying to direct K away from the 1 thing in the whole room that she wasn`t to play with......

Painting - back by popular demand!

Inside to toady - April 5, 2011

This morning we brought the water color painting books with us. WOW! Did they ever go over well. I picked them up at the dollar store for a buck each and a pack of paint brushes for the same. I wish I had of brought 10 more books like this. Both of the girls loved it. I can’t believe how long they sat there quietly painting away.

I can’t believe how much K loves to color and paint. I am so excited to get her home and start her on the curriculum programs that I have for her. Em wasn’t all that interested in much of it, but all of it seems to be exactly what K likes to do, and hopefully I will get a good response from her with it.

For this afternoon’s visit K was all fancy. Dressed in the super pretty pink outfit she was wearing when we first meet her, and her hair done up to the extreme.

We took play dough with us for this visit. We had been debating if it was a good idea of not, as we were both sure that K would eat it, or at least try to. But Em has been bugging to take it, she LOVES it, and so we did. We were utterly impressed that K did not once even pretend to put it in her mouth. She did hold it and squeeze it once, and she played with the animals that Mike made it into. I could see that she wasn’t much interested in having it smush through her fingers….possible sensory issue. She was disappointed that we didn’t bring the painting back, so we will need to remember that…

Her black eyes and bump on her head are getting better. I can’t wait for them to be fully healed.

Both girls LOVED the paint with water books

K got right into it, and soaked through many pages :)

All fancy after her nap.  Eyes healing well....

Outside, finally!!!! Monday, April 4, 2011

Only Em & I went up to the orphanage for this morning’s visit. Mike went into town with our facilitator. She is returning to the capital city today, and he is getting us some supplies to hopefully last us until she returns. She has left her travel kettle with us, so we will be able to make tea, coffee, and instant oatmeal in our room.

Our visit was a little nuts, and I won‘t send one of us there with both girls again. They colored and ran around like the silly, crazy little girls they are. But it is hard to give the attention to both with such strong jealousy. Also Em doesn’t understand why we can’t just pick up and go to the bathroom whenever, and other things like that. We made it through though, and all is well. I wonder what K really thinks about all of this. Is she really happy to be coming and spending all of her time with us, or does she miss being with her groupa, and whatever it is that they are doing? She is always excited when she comes into the room and sees that we are here, again. But is that because she likes the snacks that we provide, or does she get that we are so much more then that? I guess only time will tell.

Before our facilitator left, we had her ask if we would be able to K outside for some of our visits. As it has been about 5 days now, and she has not been out once since she has meet us. So when they brought her too us for the afternoon visit, I returned with her to the room, with a peace offering of diapers that Mike had picked up in town, and asked if we could take her outside. The caregiver swept her away and got her ready, and returned her dressed for the winter. We must look so foolish to them with how underdressed they must think we are. But we got to take her outside!!!

Oh, how nice to be out in the fresh air. New place to be, new things to do. We sat in the nice gazebo and had snack, and colored for a while. Then we played on the garden swing. We blew bubbles. We got to see how unsteady K is on the uneven lawn; she fell more then a few times. And we wandered around, trying to not interfere with the groupas who were outside. I am assuming that the take the swings down for the winter, as everything is metal, but regardless of where they are, they were not on the equipment. The girls went on the seesaw for a while, and then climbed the stair to what was once a slide, and jumped into my arms. They found it to be much fun, but I eventually had to stop them. So we went back to the gazebo and colored some more. The book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? has replaced the photo album as K’s favourite item in the back pack. It’s great!!! She tries to say the colors and the animals, and we all have fun making the animal sounds.

Looking at her photo album

Hard at work coloring - something they told us she could not do....

Finally OUTSIDE!!!!

Playing on the swing

Running free - good to be outside after being in for so many days

Daddy snuggles :)

Got your glasses ;)

In one of the play houses.  K got a sliver :(

This quickly became one of their favorite activities

Around the orphanage`s main building

Day 2, 3, & 4, and a summary so far

I know, I know. I promised updates, everyday. But I did say that was internet permitting. And the internet has NOT been all that permitting, let me tell you. I completely take my internet at home for granted. Along with a few other things… like being able to cook for ourselves. Also, having the computer to myself, for the most part. Em’s DVD player has broken, and so I am sharing the computer with her so she can watch a movie before bed. This new bedtime routine has got her going to bed only 2 hours later then normal, instead of the 4 hours that it had been. She is now sleeping through the night.

Our complaints are small, and things here are SO much better then we had ever anticipated them being, which I think helps a lot. The food at the restaurant is very good, and I am eating better then I ever expected to. Many of you would be impressed, and outright shocked ;p The staff here are great, and although they do not speak English, they go out of their way to try to make us happy. We have been told that they will attempt to cook us anything we’d like. We haven’t really gone there yet, but I’m hoping that they are serious about that, and that when our facilitator comes back that we will perhaps be able to explain to them how and what grilled cheese is, and French toast, so that Em can eat something that is more then fruit and nuts and cereal. Grilled cheese is sounding pretty good to me too.

There is a small stray dog that lives here. I had drilled it into Em to not touch any of the animals, knowing that a plane ride to a different country for rabies shots has been all too real for an RR family this past year. But our facilitator feed this small dog some bread when she was feeding the swans. So Em feed the dog some bread, and so on. I kept giving Mike & Em trouble for feeding the dog - who know follows us everywhere and sits outside our door barking at all hours. BUT, I have to sit outside at night to get on line, and our little dog sits with me. He growls and barks at any one, thing, and sound. He freaks me out a little, but I still feel safer with him alerting me to what could be in the woods directly behind me. So at the end of the night, when I am coming in to bed, I now feed the dog a piece of bread. The barking is annoying, but last night I discovered that it is because he is protecting us, so it’s not as bad. Whenever a car drives up the back driveway, by our walkway, he runs to the stairs and take a defensive pose and barks and growls to make sure no one is coming up this way. Now I’m sure he’d let them by it they feed him, but still it’s nice to know he watching out for us. Although I think it is important to say now that we do not need the dog, and that we DO feel safe here.

For our visits on day 2 - 4, they were all pretty much the same. We met with K in the orphanage music room twice per day. She does back and forth between coloring, looking at her photo album, and running around. She greatly enjoys her snack, and we are careful to control how much she puts in her mouth at once. The 9 oz cup full of juice goes very quickly, and I’m sure she would be happy if there were 3 more of them. They have these huge foam blocks in the room that we have been stacking and knocking down. It would be fun to try to build something with them one day, but the girls run at them right now, so that won’t be any time soon. The other day they just got so crazy. Em got whinny, and K was just into everything that she’s not supposed to be. We set up a bunch of the blocks in sets of two, and I just kept skipping around them in a circle, singing a “lalalalalalalala” song. It worked! Quickly I had both of their attention. Neither one really seemed all of that interested in following, but they each picked a couple that they circles, and waited for me to pass by and tickle them on my way. I just may have to get us some of these foam blocks :)

Day 2 - Me and my beautiful girls

Day 2 - Thank goodness for these blocks!

Day 2 - K found this balloon behind the blocks, and Mike was brave enough to blow it up for them.

Day 3 - Doing stickers with Daddy

Day 3 - Silly girls

Day 3 - In the bag any and every chance she gets

 Day 4 - Spinning around the stacked blocks

Day 4 - Being silly after they knocked them down

Day 4 - Just about done for the day....

Friday, April 1, 2011

Meeting K

After arriving by a 16 hour over night train, we crammed our belonging and ourselves into the back of a tiny car and drove another 45 mins to meet with the regional inspector (children's services social worker). We gave them our official referral that we received from the SDA and there were many words exchanged in a language that we do not speak. In the end, one of the ladies joined us on our journey to the orphanage, and one stayed behind (wishing us best of luck - the only thing that was translated) did some of our luggage so that we would all fit into the car.

We drove for an additional 20 mins or so out to the orphanage. At this point it had been over 21 hours since we had left our apartment. Emily was doing so well. We were very proud of her.

We entered into the orphanage and were seated in the director’s office...something that I have been dreaming about for years. It became very cramped, very quickly. With the 3 of us, our facilitator, the regional inspector, the director, the SLP, the doctor, the lady who does all of the paperwork for the orphanage.... We sat around the table and they read all of the information from her file to us. No surprises there, and little bit of background information.

Then we were all ushered up to the music room to wait and meet with our new little girl. Now, I was shaking a little bit, but had to laugh that Emily was so annoyed that it was taking so long.

Finally the director came into the room holding K's hand. I wasn't really sure what to do, other then throw the camera at Mike. Well Emily knew what to do, as soon as she saw her sister she yells at her, "K! Hi!" It was too funny. K looked around the room at all of the people sitting there, and the 3 of us standing awkwardly in the middle. The director said something to her, and she kind of looked at us, half smiled, looked around the room again, looked directly at me, gave me a huge smile and ran into my arms. She hugged me like she would never let go, and it was amazing. I cried, of course. She kept pulling her head back to look at me, smiling at me, and then hugging me again. I cry just thinking of it. Then someone else said something and she let me go :( But then she ran to Mike with a big smile on her face and leaped into his arms :) I don't think he could have been any happier:) She stayed there for a few seconds and came back to me for more hugs. Poor Emily was trying to get her attention, but she was only interested in us....that is until Emily arrived beside me holding a cookie for her.

She devoured the cookie, the whole time looking at me and hugging me. I'm so glad that she didn't care how bad we looked after traveling for so long to get to her. Then the orphanage staff put a stop to the hugging, they said that she just wants hugs all of the time and that we need to be firm with her. SO HARD, when we just want hugs all of the time too.

So Mike took the girls to the other side of the room to play with the giant foam blocks. I watched for awhile, and went over the medical reports and findings with our facilitator and the doctor. They told us that her coordination was off and that she falls down a lot. And that she had just fallen the day before. She is sporting a pair of black eyes and large goose eggs on her head. She did pretty well though. She was running and giggling, and kicking. She did fall over a few times, but was able to get herself back up. But she was also able to catch herself many more times.

They mentioned a few other things, such as speech delay, but we will see what come of all of that once she gets home. She reminds me of Emily a lot. She is not going to sit and listen and pay attention unless it interests her, unless it is the right time for her. The 2 of them together, are going to be something else. I can't waitJ

Our visit ended WAY too soon. She went back to her groupa, and we got in to car to do some serious paper chasing. Hours we sat and waited, but the inspector was greatly impressed by how much we had gotten done when we dropped the huge box off at her office.

We were finally done for the day, and we were able to come back to our room, unpack, breath, and go down to the restaurant for dinner. I was brave and ordered "a sandwich with bacon" and a vegetable salad. Well the bacon turned out to be ham, and a sandwich turned out to be one small piece of bread with A LOT of butter, the "bacon" and a 2 small pieces of tomato artfully displayed on it. The vegetable salad was a line of tomatoes down the one side of the plate, a line of cucumbers down the other, and a line of sour cream down the middle with onions on it. YUM! I'll have that everyday:) The sandwich was good too.

In all it was an exceptional long day. Hopefully the longest that we will have. We are SO happy to have finally had a chance to meet her, hold her, smile and be happy with her, to know where she is and who is caring for her while we can not. We love her, so very much. She is exactly who we thought she was, she is our daughter.

Sorry, we are not posting photos of her until after court.  You'll just have to make due with the ones we already have, and these "teaser" shots.

Momma & K meeting for the first time

K building a castle with Daddy and Emily

Spring has sprung in Eastern Europe

The weather here has been perfect - not to hot, not to cold, JUST RIGHT :-)

We have been jacketless most of the time, although this helps us to stick out like a sore thumb, as many locals are still wrapped in scarves, hats, and winter coats.

Our temporary new home is LOVELY. If we were picky, it could be a little large, have some more storage, and a kitchen area. BUT there is a restaurant here that is very reasonably priced and the food is VERY good. They are trying hard to please us too. They just offered to do our laundry for us, which is really nice and we may have to take them up on that, although I'd rather do it myself.

We just have to walk up a path behind our little house on the hill, and the orphanage is right there.

Between visits today we wandered around the grounds, enjoyed the spring, feed the swans, and picked looked at the flowers.

I should also likely comment that our internet isn't so good.  So please wait a little longer.  Updates will come as we get access, and photo will come as I get cooperation.

Our home away from home - The House on the Hill

Part of the front pond at the complex where we stayed

The restuarant and the other side of the grounds

The swan pond and gazebo

Gazebo Island

Feeding the swans

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Pathway with wild flowers.  The other side of the fence is orphanage grounds.

Walking along the driveway up to the restaurant

It's hard to see in many of the photos, but most of the hill sides were just covered in yellow, white and purple flowers.

The train

So we survived the 16 hour train ride :)

We rode in second class, in the very last cart of a very long train. We had our own little space, which was nice.

We must have been on one of the newer trains, because it wasn't all that bad. When we got on it was HOT, but it cooled off through the night, and the temperature was comfortable for sleeping. They allow smoking in the hall of the train which isn't overly pleasant, but not nearly as bad as you'd think. Actually we have been hotel rooms and restaurants that allow smoking that have been MUCH worse then that train was. The bathroom was absolutely disgusting, but I find bathrooms on any vehicle to be disgusting. The real problem with that was when Emily needed to use it. I would normally have held her, but she won’t go that way because I couldn’t keep us still. So Mike took her. I have NO idea how they made it work, but I don't think I want to know.

Surprisingly enough the movement of the train didn't make me sick, so that was a huge bonus too. Emily did NOT want to sleep on the train, and we spent much of the night encouraging her to be quite as to not disturb everyone else. We could see the stars in the sky as we drove through the night, and I'm a little disappointed that we didn't get to see more of what we were driving past, but I wouldn't really want to take it in the day. Our facilitator stayed in the room next to us, it was nice to have our own space, but know that we were not alone either.

We arrived in the city right on time and our driver was waiting for us to help with our language. We crammed as much as we could into his trunk and the rest into the back seat with the 3 of us. Our facilitator sat in the front with her luggage around her. Perhaps we should have packed less, but I haven't felt like anything we packed has been a waste of space yet.

Our train tickets

Our 2nd class compartment

Em, so excitied to finally be traveling by train

Finally asleep.....