Friday, December 10, 2010

Dear Ukrainian Lawmakers,

Two of your Ukrainian babies are my daughters now. I know you want what is best for them because I spent 7 weeks in your beautiful country and visited the orphanage in Vorzel numerous times.

My girls were so well cared for... dressed in clean appropriate clothing, in clean diapers and they had clean hands and faces. Their baby houses were clean and their caretakers were working hard. My girls were loved by their doctors, their caretakers, and the facilitator and translator we used to complete our adoption. One of my girls was even lucky enough to have paternal grandparents who visited her regularly and showered her with the love of family. These girls had the best your orphan system has to offer.

But you know, as I know, that they were living this life on borrowed time. Eventually (and not too far off for my older girl) the day of transfer would come. A simple birthday would change everything they had ever known and life in a mental institution would ensue.

In their cases, before that fateful day arrived, you allowed them the privilege of a forever family in the United States. I do believe that it was brave of you to let them go far across the ocean to a world you know only through negative press. I promise you it was the right thing to do for them.

Now they have everything they had before and more. The children they play with everyday will always be with them, even as adults. Their caretakers are now a mama and papa who will always care for them. Their bedrooms, their toys, their books and clothes will always be theirs even after they turn four years old. They now have the security of a family, and family is for always.

So on December 16th as you consider voting to close down the international adoption program, think about the one thing your system cannot provide, the one thing that money and laws cannot grant an orphaned child, the greatest gift that adoption gives to a child... ALWAYS. Please don’t vote to close the door on the blessing of forever families for your orphans.

Thank you,
Masha and Autumn’s mama & papa

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Birthday Baby News

Autumn is one. This is still pretty unbelievable to me. She is just so tiny.

For her birthday celebration she enjoyed an ice cream cake and a shiny pink balloon. I think it is safe to say that Autumn has never before tasted ice cream or felt the icy sweet coldness of it on her tongue. She was very motivated to feed it to herself. And yes, when all was said and done, she puked it up.




She has started reflux medication but it is only helping a little bit. I am not so sure reflux is the real problem. Autumn has very low muscle tone and the esophagus is a muscle. Every time she burps, or stuffs her thumb in her mouth, the contents of her stomach bubble up because her muscles are not working to keep the door shut. The fact that Autumn is an avid thumb-sucker exacerbates the situation. I have taken to keeping her left arm out of its sleeve, tucked against her, with the empty sleeve wrapped behind her... straight-jacket fashion. But she refuses to fall asleep like this, so at nap and bedtime I give in and let her have it back.


Autumn’s early intervention evaluation indicated that she would benefit from physical therapy, speech therapy, and special education. Last Thursday was her first session, PT. She loved it. She is a tummy time baby. (I am guessing that the Ukrainians don’t subscribe to the “back-to-sleep” paranoia like we do because Autumn is a hard core belly sleeper.) Autumn showed us that she can stretch far to retrieve a toy, that her lower abs work beautifully so long as you hold her hips and thighs firmly, and that sitting up is not so far off. I am really proud of how hard she works and how little protesting she does during it.









My baby girl knows I am her mama now. She will track me with her eyes when other people are holding her and she will reach out to me if I come near. Her whole body does the love wiggle when I smile at her. And though she babbles “da da da” consistently, she can say “ma ma ma” which always makes me happy.


Autumn loves to eat. She will eat most anything and is getting better at taking a spoon as well as chewing. She doesn’t seem to have any texture aversions. She loves mashed bananas and whole fat French vanilla yogurt, pureed black bean soup, and mashed sweet potatoes. If I wipe her mouth or move her bowl out of her sight, she will cry. In fact, if anything at all makes her think the meal is over, she will cry.


And speaking of crying, she has the sweetest, saddest cry ever. Her facial expression freezes up and then her lips start to tighten into a line as her face turns pink. After a couple of silent seconds (warming up) a trill rolls out of her and the drops start to slide down her cheeks. Then it is just soft “waaas” until you give her whatever it is she wants. With a darling cry like that, it will be hard not to spoil her.


Monday, November 29, 2010


I have so much to be thankful for on this first Thanksgiving with Masha and Autumn. When I sit and think about it, it is overwhelming. Last Thanksgiving, adoption was nothing more than a “someday” dream for us.

Thank you to all who prayed for us. Thank you to the 47 people who donated a total of $10,281, and to the 48th donor who matched that total. Thank you to those who donated gifts, and those who blogged about us to get our story out. Thank you to Reece’s Rainbow and our stateside facilitators, our notaries, doctors, social worker, county and state officials, and to our in-country facilitator and amazing translator. Thank you God for tying it all together to bring us two beautiful daughters.

On Thanksgiving morning, Masha and the Gecko pulled the winning ticket from the vase that held the 127 entries for “Melissa at the Piano”.




Jackie Parambil is the lucky winner. I have already confessed to coveting this work of art, and so I created my own version... “Masha at the Piano”. (Notice we have another Giants’ fan in the making :-)


Here are a few other things I am thankful for...

Jade loves his Princess Peach


Ring Around the Rosie Girls


The First Turkey Dinner


Pie, Pie, & More Pie


Especially Blueberry Pie



My Gorgeous Sons


Monday, November 8, 2010

The Potty Opera

After her bath, Masha makes a very entertaining attempt at going potty. If she doesn't crack you up, you're broken.

Slacker News

I have been thinking about blog posts... and every night I fall into bed exhausted telling myself, “Maybe tomorrow.” Today, I told myself, “Ok, just write anything and post some pics so people know these kids are still alive and well.”

Halloween was extra fun this year with five little ones dressed up as a knight, a ghost knight, a bat, a hefflelump, and a bunny rabbit. Everybody cooperated, even Kimani who is notorious for pulling off any type of costume or hat. Masha figured out pretty quickly how the whole trick-or-treat thing works and then threw a fit each time I dragged her out of the neighborhood candy dishes.




Autumn went to the cardiologist and the news is fantastic. She had a great fix and has no residual damage from waiting so long for her surgery. Her heart is the right size and beats in perfect rhythm. Like her sister, she did not like the chest X-ray machine, but she was very well behaved for her electro-and echocardiograms. I loved watching her beautiful heart chambers pumping away on the screen.




Masha is really something. Everyone who meets her is charmed by her. Yesterday she fell and hurt her finger. She was holding her hand and came to show it to me. I asked her if it hurt and she lifted it to her mouth and kissed it, then she passed it up to me. It didn’t take her long to figure out the great American boo-boo cure.

Kimani and Masha have been teaming up for fun... baths, swinging, general household destruction...




p.s. Shhh, don’t anybody tell Masha’s groupas that I let her run around in just a diaper...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Oh Baby, Baby

Autumn’s real gotcha day outfit...


Last spring when Andrea from Reece’s Rainbow emailed me about a six month old cardiac baby, nicknamed Peach, who needed a family ASAP, I was excited. It is almost impossible to adopt a child under the age of one from Eastern Europe and I felt blessed to have the opportunity.

As the adoption process moved slowly along, I struggled with the feelings of losing her... the real chance of it due to her heart and the fact that her babyhood was slipping by week by week. Our infant would be ten months old by the time we got to her.


But when they brought her to me for the first time, both sides of that fear melted away. She was so tiny, almost bald like all my other babies, and light as a kitten. But she was strong. She could hold herself up steady and grab onto fingers and toys. She could vocalize several consonant sounds, and would smile at will.

(In Kyiv, her bed was the stroller...)

She can roll over and push herself up on her forearms. She likes to sing and will take turns “talking” with me. She blows raspberries. She watches me and tries to get me to look at her when I am going by. If I do look at her, she cracks a huge smile and then cries if I don’t pick her up.

(because we found out soon enough that this floor bed couldn’t contain her.)

She is a thumb sucker and a belly sleeper. She loves hair and will chew on mine whenever she gets the chance. She is a good eater and so far has tried rice cereal, banana, pumpkin/banana, and prune baby food, and a few bites of a sryupless pancake. When we got her, she was a big puker but now she is keeping down her food quite well, thanks to all the great ideas my FB friends shared with me about smaller portions and thickening, and of course holding her up endlessly, lol.

Autumn had a cold and was hospitalized right before we picked her up. She has been to see the pediatrician who put her on antibiotics and eye drops. He listened to her heart and lungs and said she sounds good. In a couple weeks she will visit the cardiologist for a follow-up echocardiogram.


She is enjoying her role as the family baby, basking in adoration from her brother Jade who can’t keep his hands off her. Of course, Kimani is not impressed by her and thinks the tuft of hair on her head is a convenient handle. Masha, my mini-me, mothers her... she brings her toys, tries to clean her face, helps me change her diapers, and pats her along with me when I burp her. Gecko thinks she is cute and loves the fact that “she is so tiny.”


She is a beautiful baby. I look at her and wonder... isn’t it amazing that she is mine?


Friday, October 8, 2010

More Masha

Ok, before I post more about Masha let me just say that yes, Autumn is doing fine. She is healthy and happy and has a post of her own coming up soon.

My first attempt at making Russian salad (for Masha)


Tasting the ingredients...


Testing the final product...


“I think it needs some salt, mom”


Can this be the same girl who stood trembling with fear when her feet first touched the water?


Masha loves how high and fast her new swing is...


My four year old Jade took pictures of us :-)


We were so blessed to meet Masha’s grandparents. They took us out to dinner at TGIF’s. They shared so much precious information about Masha, and all that went into the decisions that were made concerning her. It was clear to us that they love her very much and we have promised to stay in touch with them.


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