Saturday, May 31, 2008

Smooth Adjustment

Katie Aunna blending with the other kids like she has always been here!!!
The girls the night we took them to Little Trisha's ballet performance on Friday night.
Mary torturing Katie Aunna;-).....Mary being Mary!!!!
Katie Aunna's first McDonald's meal!!! Chocolate milk was the best part..ha ha!!!
Katie Aunna found the bag rather interesting to look at about 5 inches from her face!!! New glasses are coming soon!!!!

Things are going very smoothly with Katie Aunna's adjustment and the adjustment of the kids to a new sibling. It amazes me that God has matched her so perfectly to our family!!! She blends with the kids and it feels like she has been with us always. Of course, each one of our children have adjusted very well and quickly. I can not possibly imagine my life without them or before they came to be our own!!!! Katie Aunna is a very happy child now and she says "Ya tebya-lou-blue, Mamooshka" which means "I love you, dear Mama" a hundred times per day to me.

I have such admiration for her as she has had such flexibility and strength in her new life. Her trust in me is so touching and it is strong. Katie Aunna loves her new home and adores her new family. Now she is telling me "Internat...nyet...America Da-Da-Da". Which means she is happy to have a home in America and she does not miss her old life or the orphanage she called home for so long and does not mention anyone that she misses. I actually believe that encountering her ex-family member in Murmansk was very disturbing to her as now she tells me this person's name and says "Nyeto-beto (with the person's name)".
I think for a long time now she has worried that this person would disturb her life with us and even in Russia she was even more worried about this person suddenly showing up. Now she openly expresses her distaste of this woman and is happy the ex-family is in Murmansk and can not get to Katie Aunna. I have promised her that she will not come here to America and that Katie Aunna is safe with us with no need to worry.

Many IA kids go through periods of grief and loss of identity. Katie Aunna really did not grieve much. In Murmansk, the three weeks we spent together was good for all three of us. Although, it was difficult to be gone from home for so long, it was very beneficial to our process of bonding. Further, once she went to sleep here in America that first night two weeks ago today, she gained much confidence that we have been honest about the greatness of her new life.
She slept with me that first night in America and Papa had to hit the couch;-). The next night, she asked to get into her bed, Annie's room (now belonging to both girls). About 2:45am on Monday, I sat up in my bed wide awake. I felt I should check on her. I first went to Karissa's room and checked Karissa who was snoring away!!! Then Mary's room and she was peacefully sleeping. Next, I walked quietly into Annie's room and both girls were sleeping well. I just stood there watching them sleep for a few minutes when Katie sat up in bed and was totally disoriented.

She tried to look around and wake up and the only words she could utter was "Mama". I immediately walked over to her and scooped her up into my arms. She threw her little arms around my neck and smelled my hair. She then took a deep breath and relaxed. My timing was perfect and we bonded even more at that early morning hour. I took her back into our bedroom and she whimpered about going to bed again. I think her little body was still on Russia time and she was finished sleeping. So I told Duane..."Let's really surprise her with a new lesson in American shopping at Wal-Mart".

Duane thought this was a great idea and so we all dressed quietly and about 4:00am Duane, Katie, and I slipped out into the early morning darkness to our local super Wal-Mart. Before we went to shop for groceries, we took her to I-Hop for breakfast. She ate pancakes with scrambled eggs and liked them very much with blueberry syrup....ha ha.....even on the eggs. Then we drove over to Wal-Mart around 5:00am.

First we stopped and looked at the huge American flag in the spotlight on the store. It was something she could see as it is a huge flag flying over the name "Wal-Mart". When we walked in she was delighted and kept saying "OIY, Mama...Oiy!!!" We were extremely low on groceries after being gone for a month to Russia. So I pushed one basket and Duane pushed the other. We loaded up our baskets to the max!!!! Katie Aunna was so happy and surprised at how much we had in groceries.

It was really funny and yet sweet to see her appreciation of American grocery shopping. In Russia, they buy only a few things and make frequent trips to the grocery stores....NO SUPER WAL-MART shopping. So this was something amazing to her!!! As we left the store it was breaking daylight and Katie was thrilled with this day until Papa came home and unloaded grocery...then he got ready to leave for work!!!

The other kids were still sleeping tight!!!! Kisty spent one last night here and everyone was getting ready for work inside the house. Once the groceries were put away I took her back into the garage as she wanted to look at all the bikes, scooters, and electric cars. She was amazed by all the stuff. The big all terrain go-cart (ATV) scared her and so Duane took out the Barbie car, small scooter (push type..not the electric type) and the pink Barbie car. She called this "Katie Aunna machina" which means it is her car;-). We had some trials at driving, but, she caught on fast.

I just got out a lawn chair and sat outside with her as she confirmed that the the bike was hers, and the Barbie car, and the scooter. I am posting a few pix of her playing early that morning on the 19th of May. It was still a little cool outside that early and so she is dressed in heavy clothes. But, she did have fun and we further bonded together as she played with my undivided attention. I sipped a nice American cup of coffee with artificial sweetener and cream. YUMMY!!! If life could have stood still....this early morning play-time would have been perfect.

I think the adjustment of transferring trust for the first time in her life was completed in her mind after the first week we spent together in Murmansk. Then her trust in us was solidified once she saw how good her life in America would be for her. It seems that switching to different food has been a difficult for her more than any challenge she has endured. Katie is a picky eater if she does not like what she eats. I swear this kid is living off cheese, chocolate milk, juice, water, bread, and cheese. She is not much for vegetables!!! She dearly loves candy.

Then we turned on the pool heater and three days later Katie Aunna experienced swimming!!! She loves it so much. She calls it "the big batha-tub" and I am proud to say she is swimming without floaties now. I will take some swim pictures of her tomorrow for you!!! I was amazed she has learned to swim so fast!!!! Katie Aunna is also very trusting of me and will slide down the slide if I catch her and give her a boost to the side of the pool...ha ha!!!!

Yes, I know I sound like a new mother bragging on her baby. But, Katie Aunna is the Arctic Princess...but, you all know this about her already...right?!?!?! She is also the Royal sister of the IVF Miracle Baby Casey, the Ukrainian Prince and Princess Christian and Karissa, the Siberian Princess Annie, the Borovichi Princess Mary, and the Serbian Prince John-John baby. Gosh....I hope these three governments do not demand their royalty back...ha ha. Don't tell any government officials that I have their royalty;-).

Well, on to more current events......Last week was a a bit nerve wracking for Katie Aunna as we went to many different doctors. Every time we went to a doctor she had anxiety and asked me if she would have a shot today. I told her no with every doctor even though blood work has been ordered. I will get to that eventually, but, until she has a little more understanding of English, I will not do her blood work. She also is short one MMR and so I will wait for this also.

The GREAT news is that we had a very successful assessment of her vision at the opthamologist and her new glasses (3.5 X's stronger than her present orphanage glasses) will arrive on Tuesday or Wednesday of this coming week. It is such a thrilling thought that she may have a fairly clear look at her world. I am praying God allows this to be reality and will keep you posted about her new glasses.

I will certainly post a picture of her as she is very proud about getting new glasses. They are darling on her. She does have a great deal of sun sensitivity and so I ordered transition lenses for her. I wonder what she will think about that cool perk for glasses;-). Oh yes, and all week she has been touching Karissa, Annie, and Mary;s ear-rings. Then she asks me (mainly in Russian) where are her "ear-a-rens". I keep snapping my finger next to her ears and telling her we must "snap them" into place. Well, this afternoon she begged for "ear-a-rens" repeatedly.

When Papa got home from work she ran up to him and asked him for her "ear-a-rens". Duane said "Okay, Papa shower and Pa-ca for ear-a-rens". She stood by the car in the garage with my hand in hers and waited for Papa to take us (Pa-ca) bye-bye for her ear rings. She picked the peradot, which is perfect considering her birthday is in August (same as mine!!!). Katie Aunna bravely and again with great trust got into Papa's lap in the ear piercing chair.

One girl at the Claire's Store in the mall got on each side of her after marking her ears. That's her ear-a-rens went into her ears. Immediately after the snap...she had a funny look on her face like she was not sure if she wanted to laugh or cry. I grabbed the hand mirror and gave it to her before she had a chance to cry. A huge smile came on her face as she looked into the hand mirror of herself and she did not drop a single tear!!!!! So Katie Aunna got her ears pierced this evening ( crying). Here are some pictures which will need to go into several posts due to the 5 picture limit per post....enjoy Katie and sibs;-)!!!!

Monday, May 26, 2008

More Pictures From the Last Week Home

Katie Aunna loves fried chicken!!!!
Katie Aunna and Karissa look a lot alike!!!
Mary Beth gets a it or not;-)
Aunt Phyllis brings a gift to Katie Aunna
Katie freaked out in the airport in Amarillo when all the kids came running up to me yelling "Mama". She curled up by our luggage and started to cry. It did not take her long in the car on the way home to warm up to the kids riding with us. She tried to talk to them in Russian, however, they spoke back in English;-).

Dancing the Night Away

Me, Karissa, and Mary at the wedding!!!
Papa and John in a trance!!!
Katie Aunna dancing with DeeDee
Katie Aunna dancing with Uncle Mark
Katie Aunna and Uncle Mark
Katie and all the kids had a wonderful time at my nephew's wedding. John-John got some much needed one on one time.

Big Family Wedding

Karissa's hair for the wedding
She is just beautiful!!!!!!
Christian and Katie Aunna dancing;-)

Well, Saturday night we had been home for exactly 7 days!!! It was quite a night of celebration for our family as my sister only has TWO children. I can not imagine why...ha ha. Any way her oldest son had a beautiful wedding. Karissa was the flower girl and she was just lovely and completed her flower girl task perfectly. She went to the beauty shop and had her hair fixed for the part.
Katie Aunna had a blast. She was horribly shy at first with many guests and about 100 family members present who all wanted to talk (English naturally) to her. But, Katie Aunna really took to her Uncle Mark (my sister's husband) and I can't say I blame her. He is quite a happy and gentle fellow!!! She danced with him and then Christian asked Katie to dance. Once that started to happen then DeeDee wanted a dance with her too.
It was so funny.....when we passed by the cake table...Katie Aunna sniffed the air and said "YUMMY"!!!! She has such a huge sweet tooth and sugar is something we usually do not have in our house. But, she is adjusting well and our transition to English is awesome. She is getting new words every day!!!
I have to say that John-John is the one who seems the most traumatized. Although he is the baby of the family, all the attention focused on Katie Aunna, has been difficult for my precious little Serbian baby. Saturday night he sat the whole evening in Duane's lap and did not budge once to run around. Although, Kisty tried to reduce his trauma by bringing all the children to meet us at the airport late last week when we got home, John was rather shocked to see us and Katie Aunna. It also shocked Katie Aunna too when she saw all the pictures of the kids in her mind come to real life.
John-John is eating and sleeping normally, but, he seems to be in a state of shock. I think he had begun to believe that his Mommy and Daddy were never going to return home after a month in Russia. Then suddenly we come home and a new child was with us whom he had only seen in pictures...come to life. I told him often about Katie Aunna before we went to Russia and showed him her picture. He would say "Ka-tie" and point to her picture. I just think the real life person was a shock to him. He seems to be doing much better today than he has since we came home.
Casey, Christian, Karissa, and Annie have not missed a beat in the adjustment process. They have all progressed well. Little Mary (Liquid Nitro) has been quite surprised that Katie Aunna refuses to bend to "Mary's" will. In fact, if Mary pee-pees her pull-up, Katie Aunna gets furious and puts Mary on the pot with a swat or two to the bottom. Then she scolds Mary in Russian. I think the early potty training mentality of the Russian orphanages came out in Katie.
Mary understands exactly the problem and seems quite willing to stop wetting her pants. So, I must say that Mary has done great on potty training since Katie came home and cracked down on her. What a hoot. I will try to catch the process of scolding on camera for you...that is...if Mary dares to screw up tomorrow...ha ha. It is sort of a potty training break for me with Mary.
I am getting more excited for Wednesday to come as Katie Aunna has an appointment with our local opthamologist for her new glasses and Thursday she will see a specialist in pediatrics at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center (thanks to Patrick Conner). Also, home school is going great with her. She remains the ideal student and our classroom has calmed down tremendously since Katie Aunna came home and the stress of waiting for her has ended. I have made two posts today...this one and two with just pictures in it. Hope you enjoy them!!!

More of the Courtyard Marriott

Marriott entry
Church across the street from the Marriott
Katie Aunna on Old Arbat Street with her Hard Rock Cafe balloon;-)

More Pictures of Moscow

Lobby of the Courtyard Marriott
Looking up through the foyer
More hotel lobby view
The word Hotel written in Russian
Thesign we all love to see!!!!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

More Post of Moscow

Golden statue of a princess on Arbat Street Our friends (Jay and Tanya's) little boy Alexander....what a heart stealer!!!!
huge ceramic cow on Arbat Street
GEE!!! No wonder they fear the police Doesn't he look nice?!?!?!!!!

More Back Tracking

Another shot of the brewery in Murmansk
Katie Aunna standing in front of a huge tree in the Arbat Hotel Garden.
Another shot of the huge tree in the garden.
Arbat Hotel Garden in Moscow
Katie Aunna dancing to the music in the garden from a breakfast band,

Here are a few more pictures of our trip to Moscow. What an amazing city in the Russian Federation. It is definitely the center of all the matters in Russia in regard to restaurants, shopping, shows, museums, churches, and any type of wonderful sightseeing one may want to do.

Back Tracking

Brewing equipment in Murmansk. Food was fabulous as well!!!!
Katie Aunna and Mama in the Old Arbat Hotel garden. It was Divine!!!
Katie Aunna exploring flowers;-). I love the "firsts" with newly adopted children.
Katie Aunna the "MOVIE STAR"
What a show off. My I do adore her so much!!!!

I just wanted to take a little time to catch you up on my post in Murmansk where I said there was something going on that I could not talk about. It was horrifying for both Duane and I as our facilitator decided to give out our information about what hotel we were staying at with Katie Aunna. Much to our shock and dismay on the 10th day of the waiting period we were contacted by an ex-family member!!!! I want to say that the other couple adopting a precious little girl at the same time kept us calm. They were wonderfully supportive and I will always love them as our special friends.

Anyway, it was a horrible extra stressor for us to endure during our adoption process. When we left Murmansk this person was waiting for us at the Murmansk Airport!!! This really made me mad as I did not want Katie exposed to her again. I was also highly shocked when we returned to the USA and we received a phone call from this ex-family member. What I could not understand is that this person had not seen Katie Aunna in several years and relinquished any/all rights to her long before we began the adoption process. Needless to say, we have changed and unlisted our phone number.

Okay....Now to more pleasant business. We debated, due to the expense, of staying at an apartment, but, Duane decided he wanted the experience of a nice hotel. It was certainly nice. We stayed in the Courtyard Marriott which was as nice as the Marriott Grand or the Trveskaya Marriott. It was snuggled more into a little side street, but, was only a few blocks from Trveskaya Street so we were able to get our vodka to bring home;-).
While in Moscow we met up with another couple who had adopted an adorable little baby boy in Murmansk. By the way, during our long...long.....long stay in Murmansk we had dinner with this couple. This nice couple took us to a cool restaurant right after Duane's own heart...his brewing. The picture of the huge steel tanks are brewing beer. It was delicious beer if I do say so myself!!!! The couple was running a few days behind our process with their adoption. So they did not arrive in Moscow until shortly after us.

They stayed at the Arbat Hotel in Moscow and there I took some beautiful pictures of Katie Aunna. We had such a wonderful day with them and their new little boy. He showed off like a true movie star and was a joy to be around. We walked around old Arbat Street which was a treat for us as on our previous adoption trips we had not seen Arbat Street. Our dinner was wonderful at the Hard Rock Cafe;-). Katie loved the loud rock music and so did we!!! I hope you enjoy these photos from "Russia With Love". I have a few more pictures to show you of Russia and so will make another post to include them as only five pictures at one time can be placed into each post.

Friday, May 23, 2008

We're home!!!

Katie Aunna in America!!!
Katie Aunna and our grandchild DeeDee.
Christian, Katie Aunna, and Karissa putting a puzzle together on Katie's first day of home school.
The girls welcome Papa home from his first day back to work!!!!

Just wanted to at least say that we are home now and resting. Trying to to get into a routine again and recover from severe jet lag. I try to start moving around doing things and then it hits me and I am totally exhausted with a dizzy feeling. I believe it must be recurring jet lag. Duane amazes me as he seems to instantly recover...lucky dude!!!! I want to tell you how wonderful Katie Aunna is. We are enjoying her more and more every day!!! Her English continues to improve rapidly.

Today she swam in our pool without any floaties and only a little push here and there to the steps or side wall. Then she gained the courage to slide. We all praised her bravery!!! Once she did it though there was no stopping her from returning over and over again to slide and doggy paddle to the side. It shocks me how fast she has caught on to swimming. However, most everything she does is at a fast pace. Katie is extremely smart. I believe because her vision is so bad that her other senses are very acute.

Last week we took her for her first check up and she ask me if she was going to get a shot. I felt so badly that I said "not today". So, I tucked the order for blood work into my purse and will take her next week for her blood work. I am really dreading doing this, however, it must be done. She has a great trust in her Mama and so I am worried about having to do blood work on her. We are scheduled to see a pediatric doctor who frequently cares for internationally adopted children and the ENT in Lubbock next week. She will also see a specialist for her eyes who is top notch. It would be so wonderful if she could see clearly!!!

Well, I have included some pictures of her with her brothers and sisters. She is so in love with her new family!!! I don't know if I have ever seen a happier little girl and I can say she is everything that our family ever dreamed of having. We adore her and will continue to blog about her so that those who love her too can follow her progress!!! Each night we get out our "English Book" and study the names of each picture in the book. Smart little girl!!!
She is also pictured with Christian and Karissa as they work a puzzle in home school together. I am so surprised at what a good student Katie Aunnie is in home school. She is a perfect example for her brothers and sisters. Thank you to all who have prayed for us and helped our dream come true!!! Many blessings!!!!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day 2008

Feeding the birds and making new friends;-)
Katie Aunna pets a pigeon!!!
Pigeon flying off of my arm...remember Home Alone...Lost in New York??? This is "Gone From Home and Lost in Russia"....ha ha!!!
Katie Aunna feeding the "seagulls"!!!
Hey Shane...wouldn't RM, Inc be jealous of this unit?!?!!!
Katie Aunna on what we called "The Young Man of the Sea"?!?!

Factory Smoke Stacks and factory windows.
Run out of gas???? Call your local army truck;-).
Russian version of Allsup's 7-11 Store!!!!

Today is bitter sweet for us. We are so happy to have our little Katie Aunna and we realize how much she needs and loves us. All she talks about is coming home to America. She loves to look at the Kodak photo album of everyone!!! She still insists on calling Casey expect that Casey;-). Any way I hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day today, Kisty, as you are the mom for all the kids this year!!! We wish with all our hearts that we could be there right now and united as a family. However, since that is impossible, we will have one heck of a celebration party when we get home next weekend.

Today we went out and walked in a completely different direction. I thought maybe we could get a closer picture of the big factory stacks that blow smoke night and days per week. I have noticed a slow down of the smoke stacks this weekend. However, they NEVER stop working. It is a factory and I will ask some questions to see what type of factory it is. I am posting the pictures we took. There were ARMED guards at gates and so we could not get any closer than the fence across the street. We were concerned that our camera might get confiscated if they saw us taking pictures and we would certainly not want to break any possible laws.

As we strolled along we passed a statue and our little ham had to jump upon him for a picture. The statue has an anchor on each side of it and he is facing towards the sea. It leads me to think he may be the sailor or explorer after which Murmansk was named or he may be a memorial or tribute to sailors. Sorry, but, can't read any Russian....ha ha!!!!

Next, we had crumbled up some old bread we dried out for the millions of pigeons here in Murmansk. We went to a nearby park where two little girls were also feeding the pigeons. Just for laughs....Katie Aunna has learned the word for seagull and EVERY bird is a seagull. She kept telling these little girls "seagull" and they thought she was out of her mind. First, she was saying a word which made no sense to them. Secondly, when I pointed to a seagull overhead and said the word "seagull" they cracked up laughing at Katie Aunna.

Anyway....we continued to attempt communicating and one of the little girls knew a few words of English. It was pretty cool!!! Katie Aunna enjoyed visiting with them very much and had a blast with the "seagulls". Hope you enjoy the pictures!!! Love you kids tons!!!!