"We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life. But those who make their journey home across time & miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them, are carried on the wings of destiny and placed among us by God's very own hands."--- Kristi Larson

Our little princess!!!

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!!!

This is the best Christmas ever! It is so wonderful to have our little girl home with us this year.Last year I spent a lot of time wondering who she was and wondering how her day was spent. This year we are so blessed to have her with us! I am wishing everyone safe travels and a wonderful Christmas! I am now off to rub down with some bengay , take some Tylenol and tackle the new trampoline! Pray that the safety net holds!!!!!I will leave you all with some photos of Christmas eve and Christmas morning. Notice I am posting this before any photos of me on the trampoline surface!

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Just a quick update about Ava's test results. Her CBC and the screening for the coagulation disorder all came back normal! Yeah! We have once again been very blessed! Please pray for Karen's little girl Darya who is having sugery today.She is in our thoughts and prayers .

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Count down to Christmas

Well, Ava has been home with us for almost three months now. It is amazing just how much progress she has made. She is attaching to us so well. In Russia ,she would cringe when you would lean into kiss her. She now leans into every kiss and gives the sweetest hugs.I wondered if she would ever embrace our affection and she has surpassed my every expectation.She is such a sweet girl . She can be head strong too.I do not believe that to be a bad thing. I see such determination in her little spirit . I think that combination will make for a very well rounded young women!Look out boys!
We really have felt so blessed with her health . All of the reports from Russia have either checked out OK or cleared up with time. Which brings me to our next hurdle. She has been having pretty severe nose bleeds. They are really scaring for us but she just goes on like it is no big deal. We did some bloodwork yesterday to screen for Von Willebrand Disease. It is a coagulation disease. It is not as severe as Hemophilia. The worst type of this disease is classified as the mildest case of Hemophilia. I have to admit I have been concerned but I still feel extremely blessed with whatever we are dealt.When my doctor first said this He told me do not start worrying.Yeah right!I told my pediatrician just go ahead and write it down and save me some time searching for it.I am a bit tenacious . One thing that I promised Ava that she would never be in a hospital again or face anything alone. From the moment I became her Mommy I became her biggest advocate. I believe that God gives you only what you can handle. We have watched our sweet neighbor battling for his life against cancer. He is nine years old and had his leg amputated this past week. What a lesson that we can all learn from this brave young man!Please pray that Ben continues to heal and that his strength never fades. So, I look at what we are facing and say I will gladly take this if it is his will.We will find out the results next week.
We celebrated Jake's 6th Bday this past week! It seems like he was born just yesterday! What a sweet and silly little fellow he is.We continue to count the days till Christmas. How exciting to share Christmas this year with Ava! How truly blessed we are!!!!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Happy Turkey Day!

We had a great day celebrating all that we have to be thankful for.This year we have a lot ! We had a wonderful Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmings. Ava ate everything ! You name it she ate it! Two days before Thanksgiving she started taking her first unassisted steps! Before we know it she will be into everything! No need to go to the gym ...she is going to supply me with her own version of a workout routine! Here are some photos of Thanksgiving Day. Nick had not combed his hair so he restricted any photos of him!Jake looked distessed in one photo. We think sister was extra heavy after eating lunch!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Sweetest Little Hug!

We are still here! I have been the worst blogger in the history of mankind! The days of simply checking my email have been replaced with a very busy and active little Goldilocks! It is amazing how far this little lady has come in such a short period of time. We have our appointment to set up Ava's plan with early childhood intervention. Since they have been here for their initial evaluation Ava has been moving forward in her development. She watches everything and just absorbs it like a sponge! Her list of vocabulary has grown quite a bit. When we first met her she did not say a thing . Nothing. Now she is picking up words very quickly . She is still eating everything you give her. Yesterday, she had a whole grill cheese and a bowl of ice cream after lunch! The girl can really put away the groceries . We have not found anything that she does not like!She is standing up alone and we feel that our days before she takes off are numbered! All of the development stuff is really great but what she did yesterday was the greatest milestone yet. I had a lady come to my home to give me a quote about cleaning our home 2 x's a month. I had told her that we have a new baby and I do not have time to chase the dust that is slowly suffocating us all! When she arrived she expected a newborn baby and then Ava's story unfolded. When went through the house and discussed what I wanted and looked at all of the rooms. Ava is on my hip like a little monkey. The women asked me a couple of more questions about Ava. Ava and I were looking at each other and it just happened. Ava put her arms out and hugged me and patted me on the back as she put her head on my shoulder. She then looked up at me so sweetly and did it again. It was the sweetest moment we have had together. It was so wonderful to see her do this on her own. When ECI came out they asked if Ava shows affection. I had to pause and say I guess not. She is climbing on you , time in the rocking chair and being carried around so there is constant human touch. I guess I had not really thought about how she is the recipient of tons of affection but she has yet to return it on her own.What a wonderful feeling it was to see that she had felt enough love and trust for me to shower me with such a sweet moment. I will cherish that moment forever.
Well, we are approaching Thanksgiving and we have alot to be thankful for.I am so grateful for each one of my children . They each are such a blessing! I cannot help but think of all of the little children who will not have a family to spend the holidays with. As crazy as life has been lately around our home If asked would I do this again I can honestly answer in a second!I have a feeling that we are just not done yet. I think God will let us know if and when we should do this again. You just have to follow your heart and he will led the way!
I will leave you all with pictures of Ava and one example of how well she shares with ALL of her brothers!I promise her picture was taken first!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Belated Boo to Everyone!

Halloween has come and gone! I am a little late in posting pics but I figured I better post them before turkey day photos! We have all been under the weather and I relapsed after Halloween. I am glad to say all is well now. Ava got the cold but she is one tuff little girl. She managed to smile and remain happy despite feeling bad. I on the other hand was not so fortunate!
Ava's first Halloween was interesting to say the least! She was not really sure what was going on .After her response to Nick's costume we decided that her trick or treating at two houses would be enough! I can only imagine that she thought we were just crazy dressing up and then going to strange peoples homes for candy.
Yesterday we had Early Childhood Intervention come out to the house for Ava's evaluation.It is kind of a catch 22 because you want a good evaluation but you also want to qualify for their assistance. They were here for about two hours . Their evaluation was based on observing her and questions that I could answer. They have five areas of development that they estimate a child's approximate age range. I have to say that Dr. Mourdov in Russia was right on the nose with his estimate of Ava being approximately 3 -4 months delayed. She qualified for in all five ares which ECI refers to as global delays. Most of her areas were borderline but either way she qualified to receive their assistance. We feel so lucky to have access to this program . They will come out in two weeks and we will put together a plan for Ava. I will say we are completely amazed at all of the progress that Ava has made since coming home. She is so smart. She is like a little sponge just taking it all in.She is not even the same child that we met in the hospital on trip #1. Based on the fact that Ava had spent the first 9 months of her life housed in a hospital waiting for an opening in the orphanage we knew that she would qualify for a least one of the areas.I am excited about learning some new tools to help assist Ava with her continuing progress.
I will leave you all with some photos of Halloween. As you can see Ava did not like Nick's wig and teeth! Go figure! The girl has got a set of lungs!!!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Priceless Momentos

When you are preparing for that first trip there is so much info to remember that it can be so overwhelming. I had a really good group of friends that paved the way before me and helped me remember everything.Some of the best advice that I had received yielded a priceless treasure that we will keep forever. When we travelled to met Ava on trip one I left behind a two disposable cameras and a journal.I was not sure if these items would be used but I requested that they take some photos of Ava and have some of the caregivers write in her journal. I explained that these items will be memories of her life in Russia and would be placed in her lifebook. Much to my surprise when we arrived for our next trip both of the cameras had been used . After developing them we found that Alla had taken the time to photograph various days in Ava's life while we were away. These photos are so priceless to us and I believe will be so for Ava one day.Alla took the journal and wrote entries with beautiful illustrations as well. Ava was so lucky to have a special person to watch over her until we came into her life. Alla was truly heaven sent.While we were away I spent many days wondering what Ava was doing. I wanted to share some of these photos with you all . Maybe you too are wondering what the typical day holds for these kiddos. They are kids that play ,eat, sleep and dream of having a family of their own.I pray that each of their little dreams come true.
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Friday, October 24, 2008

One month with her new family

Wow, I am amazed each time I look at that ticker and see the time flying by. We have had Ava with us for over a month now. It is amazing to think back at that blank little girl that we met at the hospital. She did not cry or make a peep. She had a frown on her face and looked very lost. When we arrived for trip #2 we were met again with that same lost little girl. But after a few days of interaction you could see that sparkle in her eyes. She has been with us now for a little over a month now. Despite the fact that we know that we have a long road ahead , she has made such amazing progress. She has the most infectious giggle that you have ever heard. That giggle is totally reserved for her big brother ,Jake. He can make her laugh like no one else!
Ava has allowed herself to trust me enough to rock her to sleep each night. This would seem like such a simple thing for most. But for a child who has had only herself to rely on it is such a big step.She now relaxes immediately and really snuggles into my chest. When I lay her down she gives me one last look before she goes to sleep. It is a look that makes me wonder if she taking one last look like I might not be there when she awakes. We are always greeted with the biggest grin that says you are still here.
I have spent the last few days thinking about all of the children that are still there. These children live in a sort of limbo waiting for there turn to have someone to love. I have recovered from the jet lag enough now to say we will do this again. I feel certain that God has this in his plan for us. I believe that Ava was chosen for us long ago. She is definitely not what we were expecting(age or ethnicity) but I think that God has a sense of humor and lets you know that he is in charge! We have been blessed with a little girl who is in amazing health despite what her medical report said. We just had to believe in his plan and trust in him.
As each day goes by, I am falling deeper and deeper in love with my little princess. I cannot tell you how many time a day people say "what a lucky little girl she is" when it is us that are the lucky ones.
I am going to leave you now with our very silly girl that has mastered making some really silly faces! We say "Ava don't make the mean face at us! " and guess what she does...yeah, that's my girl!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Sweetest News!

We have had another really busy week ! I really do not know where all of the time goes. We have had a couple of weeks of doctors appointments checking out Ava's health. I am really happy to report that all of her blood work results were perfect.Even her screening for giardia was negative! She never showed any signs or symptoms but we had it all tested just in case. We had an appointment at the cardiology unit at Texas Children's also. As I had said before Ava's medicals had stated that she had a 1mm hole in her heart and pulmonary stenosis. After a quite traumatizing day of tests I am happy to report that the tests revealed that everything was normal! This was the sweetest news to hear! I had a peace about this news when we first met her but as I sat and watched that ultrasound I really could feel that tension building. It is a really scary thought to think what if. As I watched all of those children in that hospital I really feel like such a lucky momma.Now that we have those big hurdles behind us we can breathe a sigh of relief.
Ava has gained a little weight . We have added a little afternoon ice cream treat in to help her work on those cheeks! I know that girls usually do not desire a double chin but at this age we would be happy with a little roll here and there!
As far as Dad and I she is very clingy and will not go to any strangers at all now. This certainly makes you feel good. We are still keeping her world very small. This really makes a difference in her personality. As for the new addition to our family ...Jury is still out! Ava really likes the cat. Rocky has been so patient with her full body exams! But as for Tex the new kid on the block...lets just say her moves a little too quick for her. I tried to take their photo together but Ava was hauling bootie away from the termite! So here is a couple of photos of them separately ...at least for now! I predict that they will be the best of friends some time in the not so distant future.
Yesterday my sweet neighbors had a baby shower for Ava. It was so nice. They hosted a luncheon and invited all of the neighbors on the street . I was really touched that they planned such a special time for us . I even had people come that I had never even meet yet! It was so nice and we received so many wonderful things for Ava!We have really been blessed with a great street full of wonderful friends!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Home at last

What a emotionally draining last 2 weeks we have had. You can read a million books ,take classes but nothing prepares you for all of the emotions and flood of feelings that absolutely consume you. I have to first say that Ava is an amazing little girl that has a forgiving and trusting heart to have allowed herself to believe in us as quick as she has. Not saying that we do not have many years of issues to face because I think we will but I will say she has done so well considering what her life was before becoming part of our family. We definitely were in the honeymoon stage while we were in Russia. She would sleep 12 hours a night, eat anything you offered and was content. All of that changed when we got to the airport for our flight back home! She was wired. Of course it took us halfway through the flight to realize that she was so overstimulated. This was another one of those moments that you have read all of the info but are clueless that this will apply to your child! Well needless to say the flight was grueling and it ended with her finally going to sleep as we landed. Well it did not end there. When we arrived home she was greeted by our troops! She was not sure about the boys at first but I will say now she adores them. For the first week she was waking up at 3:30 am . So for the first week I will say between the jet lag and her schedule pushing us further into no sleep land I was like a zombie. To add on to this stress our beloved Cody was sick . We were unaware of the extent of his illness till later on in the week. He had waited on me to get home from Russia to show some symptoms. We took him to the vet on Tuesday and he seemed okay but rapidly deteriorated over the course of a few days.We had the vet do everything possible to save his life but despite our best efforts I held him in my arms as we put him to sleep on Friday. We are totally shocked by him leaving us so soon and were definitely not prepared for the void this has left in our life. I truly believe that God does not give you more than you can handle . So I have to trust that there was a reason for this and be thankful for the years that Cody blessed our family. When we found Cody he was a stray pup that someone brought to an animal shelter. The shelter said the last to be adopted was really large black dogs...So that is why we chose Cody.I believe that this is God's way of giving another little animal a chance at a good life. So,We are going tomorrow to meet a large black puppy that we have found at a humane society in the area. When we saw him he reminded us of Cody and we were compelled to call. This will be Ava's first puppy so hopefully they will grow up with each other and be the best of friends.I have such a soft place in my heart for homeless pets and I have shared that same compassion with the boys. I know Ava will have the same soft spot for helping Gods little creatures.
Ava continues to make great strides in her attachment to us. She settles in at night and lets me rock her to sleep. This is a far cry from the baby in Russia that was reluctant to trust me to do that. She is now sleeping from 7:30-8:30 ! She awakes in the morning with the biggest smile ever. She also loves to eat . She will eat anything . The downside of that is she would eat till she is sick. We hope that she will soon realize that the food will always be there and recognizes the sensation of being full.We are continuing to keep her world as small as we possibly can. Imagine all of the sounds and experiences that we see everyday . Now imagine that you have never heard a cat meow , doorbell ring or people coming up to you speaking a language you do not understand. This is all so scary for her. So keeping her life simple is the best gift we can give her.When you think of a 14 month old I do not really think of a baby. Ava is definitely a baby. I really think that was a bit of a shock because you think you are bringing home a toddler but she is a baby in every sense of the word.It is amazing to see the changes that we can already see in her just after 20 days of her being with us.She already calls me mama and knows that when she crys we will be there. That sure makes all the hard work and long wait so worth while.I can only imagine what she will be doing next year at this time!i will post some pics tomorrow hopefully with Ava and her new four legged brother!
Well, that is it for now!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Heading Home!!!!

I can honestly say I have never been so excited about getting on a 12 hour nonstop flight with a 1 year old!We have truly enjoyed our adoption experience here with Catholic Social Services and are so greatful for this precious gift we have received but we are ready to head back home! I think Dorthy summed it up when she said "There is no place like home"!The hardest part of this 3 week trip was leaving my boy's! I cannot wait to see them and for them to meet their new sister. Jake talked to Ava on the phone the other night and she really was excited kicking her feet! Jake has been going around proudly telling everyone about her reaction! She is going to love them both so very much!
We are very anxious to get Ava back home to be evaluated by her pediatrician.The day we received her info at the MOE ,we were told that she has a small hole in her heart and pulmonary stenosis.This can be a scary diagnosis to hear. I left the MOE kind of in a daze and really scared to death. As soon as they placed her in our arms we knew that no matter what was on that medical report we would face it together. I think God blesses you with a sense of peace that only he can provide. So, as we embark on this next stage many prayers for Ava's good health are requested!
Also ,I would request that many prayers be sent up for all the unsuspecting fellow passengers on Singapore airlines on Saturday morning!!!! Hopefully, Mr. Sandman will pay us a visit on the flight!
Paka Paka!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Life as we know it!

Well, life as we knew it has definitely changed! As from all of my blog postings you can all tell we have been a little busy!Life with a baby is a lot of work! Being the mother of two boys has definitely prepared me for Ava. It all comes back to you very quickly! Things here are going very well. Ava has done really well considering all of the change that she has been through this past week. She eats anything ! The formula has been really the only thing that she is not 100 % sold on. We have been using her schedule from the baby home with a few minor changes. So, I think the familiarity helps .The only thing that has been difficult is her bedtime ritual. Like many children that have lived in a institution setting, rocking themselves is a form of self soothing. You can read all of the books but nothing prepares you to see your own child do this. It is really heart breaking. We have been very diligent in rocking her and letting her know that this is now our job. Tonight, Ava did not rock herself at all . She crawled in really close and let me do my job!That seems like such a small victory but we will take it!She is beginning to trust us more and more each day. For once, every thing in the day evolves around her and she loves it!Every child deserves to know what that feels like.
Well, that is all for now.I am leaving you with a coule photos of Ms.Priss ! I told you she was a serious eater! We will be returning home on Saturday and I cannot wait to see the boys! I am not leaving my house for a very ,very long time!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Gotcha Day!

Okay,fellow bloggers today is the day we have been waiting for! I got up extra early this morning and thought I would update my blog now before I get really busy this afternoon.I am really nervous. You would think that I was a first time parent! I would definitely compare this day to both of my inductions. The doctor set up the appointments for labor to be induced.The first face to face meetings with my boys were arranged... no suprise arrivals! This is so similar but only one real difference. We have already met, kissed and held our newest bundle of joy!I have the same butterflies in my tummy that I had on the boy's birthday.The paperwork and the waiting was my labor now comes the good part...When they hand you the baby!
I have to say how surprised we were when we met Ava. When they handed us her info at the MOE with that little photo we were very shocked. We knew that we were travelling to met a little girl under the age of 24 months,any ethnicity. When they took us to meet her this little lady came out carrying somthing almost half her length. When she was unwrapping this precious little package we realized that she was really tiny! This little blonde head popped up with two big grey eyes looking at us.From the minute we met her we knew she was who God had chosen for us long ago.
Well, here is our little Russian angel!Enjoy!

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The sun is finally shining!

To all of you who have been basking in the sunlight it might not seem like a big deal but to us in the cold, overcast ...the sun is wonderful!After just a few short days here the weather turned really cold and produced a fine drizzle of rain. On some of the days I have worn three layers of shirts ,a coat, scarf and gloves! I am a true coastal dwelling Texan and I have realized that I flourish in the heat and sunlight! The weather is promised to continue to be good this weekend which is good because we pick up Ms. Priss on Saturday. We visited her yesterday at the hospital and she is so much better! In fact they removed her IV just before we got there. She is being transferred today(Thursday) back to the orphanage, so we will pick her up from there on Saturday. It is amazing to us how different she is after each visit. She now puts her hands out for you to pick her up.She mimics everything you do. Bret would make faces at her and she imitated them perfectly! She also said "mama" yesterday! Now, that really makes your heart smile! It is so wonderful to see what a forgiving little heart this child of ours possesses.
Today, we move into our own apartment. It is located in the same building but different floor.We figured two kiddos in the same apartment could be somewhat chaotic! We have had a great time with our roommates,the Kellams.They have helped pass the time here.We all have approached it with a great deal of laughter. I think humor is a must in a situation like this! So, we are now in the final stretch! I can actually see the "light" at the end of the tunnel.
We are ready to get this little monkey home and see our boy's!!!!!!!So, that is all for now! Check back on Saturday !

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Answered Prayers!!!

We got the most wonderful phone call today from Violet our translator! Ava is so much better and maybe getting out of the hospital on Monday and going back to the orphanage!Thanks Violet for taking such good care of us and keeping us informed.
We were blessed twice today! We received more wonderful news from my family everyone is okay and my home had no damage. What a relief!
Thank you everyone for the prayers!

Friday, September 12, 2008

No such thing as too many prayers!

We were able to visit Ava as she had been released from the intensive care unit. We were very alarmed by her breathing. It is so labored and she is very uncomfortable. Despite how she felt she would reach out for Bret and I both. She would also look at you so sweetly and smile. We requested that she be placed back in IC despite the fact we cannot visit her in there. She will receive a better nurse/doctor to patient ratio.We are deeply concerned about her condition and are requesting many prayers for this little angel.She has a very good team of doctors and nurses taking good care of her
On another note ,we live in Houston and my family is facing Hurricane Ike. We live about 1 hour from the coast. Both of my boys are there with my family. I pray that God keeps them safe while we are away.
Well all I can say is ...When it rains it certainly does pour!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Another day without baby girl

On our way to visit this morning our translator received a call stating that Ava was still in intensive care and could have no visitors. So, we traveled to the hospital and spoke to the doctor directly. She said that Ava would be moved to the general area tomorrow and can have visitors in there. It was good to speak to the doctor directly .She said that Ava was better and did not have pneumonia. It was really hard to turn around and walk away knowing that your little baby was just beyond that door and all alone .Anytime my children have been in the hospital, I have stayed with them. I could not imagine being anywhere else.Just the simple touch of another human being has a comforting and healing effect.When we first visited Ava she was in the hospital due to exposure to chicken pox.Isolation had a tremendous effect on her. The child that we met on day 1 was transformed by day 5. Even the hospital staff commented on the change.After next week she will never have to go through anything alone again.When I get that baby in my arms I will never let her go!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

One step forward two steps back

We were surprised to learn that Ava was admitted into the hospital last night due to her cough and fever. The orphanage medical staff were concerned about her bronchitis developing into pneumonia.While we were there yesterday we assisted them with the nebulizer to help with her cough.Despite her cough she was so active yesterday. It was hard to keep her still!She was really silly and laughed alot. This is a very strange place to be right now. You have been declared her parents in the court but are caught in the middle of the 10 day wait. Kind of a helpless feeling.They asked that we not visit today.We will get to visit her tomorrow. Please keep Ava in your prayers. We will post tomorrow... hopefully with better news!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Better late than never!

We arrived in Moscow on Sunday afternoon and are just now starting to recover from the jet lag!It hit us both like a freight train. On Monday we had a successful court and are now officially mama and papa to Ms. Ava Alexandra! We are thrilled beyond words! After court we got to visit Ava at the orphanage . She was a little under the weather but they let us take her outside for some fresh air. She has gained 2 lbs. since we saw her last and her hair is longer and curly! I cannot post pictures yet until the 10 day wait is up and we officially take custody of her on the 19th.So you guy's will have to wait!
We have another family that we are sharing an apartment with and have had a great time . But I am ready to get Ava and head home to my boy's! I miss them so much! Well, that is all for now.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Organized Chaos!

I am really not sure if there is such a thing but that sums up life at the Settle house this week! We are preparing our house ,children, pets and family for our final departure to Russia. And I have to say this is not an easy task! We have survived the first week of school. Nick did great ! Jake on the other hand had a slow start and so did I.We spend all of time together so it was like having that umbilical cord officially cut! He seems to be settling in his new routine and so have I.Now, I just have to get my Mom ,Dad, Aunt and Grandmother into our chaotic routine for the next few weeks while we are away. We are so excited to get back to our little girl but I absolutely dread being away from my boys. I pray that the time fly's by for all !
A huge thank you to Uncle Jim and Aunt Carol !!! Today,I was informed by the Secretary of State that some documents needed for court on Monday would not be returned to us for another 10 days! Well, they saved us an unexpected trip to Austin(and a good case of the hives!) and I will forever be grateful!
And last but definitely not least I would like to congratulate Michelle and Ian on the arrival of their daughter,Ana! Welcome Home Curly!
Well, I have to get back to my organized chaos!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hold on Ava...Mommy and Daddy are on our way!!!!

We got the most wonderful call this morning from our Agency stating that we will be in Russia for our court date on Sept 8th!!!! There is nothing more exciting than to look down at that ringing phone and see your adoption agencies number displayed on caller I.D.!!! With court taking place on September 8th that means we will officially pick up Ava on September 19th and return home on September 27th! We are thrilled beyond words. Congrats to the other CSS families that received good news today. Now, I am off to make all the arrangements!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Introducing... "The Dolphins!"

Today we had opening day ceremonies for Katy Youth Football. This will be Jake's first year to play flag football. Bret was recruited for the head coach and Nick is one of his assistant coaches. Games start in a couple of weeks so the team has been practicing hard. The team is composed of 3-5 year old players so I am sure the games will be full of surprises!We have been keeping busy while we wait for word of a court date . We are so anxious to get back to our little girl! I have already packed her suitcase full of clothes and goodies. I have already packed up the clothes for the orphanage too.Now, we just wait for the phone to ring.(Hint ,Hint K!All phone lines are wide open!)We are expecting news this week. So, say a prayer that it is good news and we will be reunited with our little angel soon!
The dreaded first day of school starts tomorrow!Jake starts Kindergarten and Nick starts high school! Pray that I do not ball till after I leave the building! All it takes is one little look from Jake and I am history!I told Jake that I will come have lunch with him tomorrow . He said how about you just stay after you drop me off in the morning...Oh lord, this is not going to be good!Our backyard backs up to the elementary schools playground. So hopefully that will give Jake some comfort being so close to home.Who am I kidding ...I hope it gives ME some comfort being so close to him! Nick on the other hand has informed me that he is way to big to be escorted into the school so that saves me a little trauma from leaving him! Pray that we ALL survive tomorrow and the boys have a great new year!i will leave you with some photos of KYF opening day ceremonies.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Ava's Silent Takeover!!!

It is amazing that someone so small can take over such a large house!The pink wave has travelled down the stairs and now entered the master bedroom!Today we put Ava's second bedroom together.This is where she will sleep until we feel she is ready to go upstairs. As Bret is assembling the baby bed he said wait till Jake finds out that Ava's sleeping in our room .Mind you he is five years old but currently holds the title as the "baby".At least till little Miss Ava gets here! There is an unwritten rule in our home when one child ends up in our room they ALL end up in our room!!! So, when I told Jake that you are a big boy and need to sleep upstairs in your room, he got the biggest grin across his face. But the grin did not happen before he asked if he could get IN the baby bed! Oh boy are we in trouble or what!Bret and I imagine that we could sell the house and get a one bedroom house with a fifteen car garage!Even Cody,our dog, stood and looked at the bed and then looked at me like how am I supposed to get up and in that bed!Just wait till Rocky gives it a trial run!
Ava, Mommy will do her best to keep them out of your bed ...but you better hurry up and come home!

Friday, August 8, 2008


I have posted a link to a ABC segment that featured an interview with the Chapman family.This was one of the most moving interviews that I have ever seen. Despite having the most unimaginable loss that a human could ever experience, they have such an solid faith. After the tragic death of little Maria ,their unwavering faith continues to carry them through.May we all be blessed with the level of faith and conviction that the Chapman family embraces everyday of their lives. May God continue to bless this family and his littlest angel.
*Sorry, I could not get a link but here is the address. Take a look it is truly a wonderful interview.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A room fit for a princess!

We had started on Ava's room long before we knew who she was. When we were in the building process the boy's came in and laid claim on their own room. Nick picked the room that is on one end of the upstairs. Jake had a choice to choose the room next to Nick's or choose one of the other two. He surprised us all when he chose one of the other two empty rooms. He told us he chose this one because he wanted to be close to the new baby. He had decided he was going to take care of his new sister at night...so sweet! I believe that God had placed a special place in each of our hearts for this little angel long before we even got to meet her. Well, after meeting Miss Ava we realize that she is not quite ready for a big girl bed! So, I am posting some photos of her "big" girl room .I still have her bedspread to sew and lamp to find but it is near completion. I have ordered a crib and some bedding that should arrive this week. So, her other room will be in the sitting area of our bedroom.(A wave of pink is slowly taking over the whole house!) We both agreed that this will be good for attachment and not so far away from mom and dad! Sorry Jake, we will take you up on your offer as the "night shift" later! So, we are still waiting and praying on word of a court date soon. If not, we will have a long two months before we will see her sweet face again. That is unimaginable, so we will be returning to Russia for a Ava fix !Michelle has been appointed my official babysitter ,tour guide barbie and partner in crime (that involves our checkbooks) while I am in country! In between the wait I will keep busy with all of my projects. And pray that the time will fly!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Retail Therapy

The boys and I have been getting a jump start on the new school year by doing some school shopping. With one going into kindergarten and the other a freshman in highschool we hit a variety of stores.Each has their own distinct style and of course sizes ,so we went to two different malls.I wanted to make sure that both the boys are all suited up in case a miracle occurs and we travel for court in the month of August. Ava also scored some new duds ! We also could not resist getting some more clothes for the kiddos at the orphanage.They had a great sale on sleepers , blue jean jackets and jeans. Wait till Our driver and translator (V &A ) see Bret and I coming with those bags again! A was a pro at getting all of those bags and all of us in the car! I hope he is ready for round two!!!! I will leave you with some photos of the orphanage donations. Jake has volunteered to be our model . Cody has the night off!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Great things

We have been home for a few days now . And I think we have just about defeated the grueling jet lag that just about killed us both! I have to say that we have both been in a state of shock over the events of the past week . We were so lucky to have had one last visit with Ava on Saturday. She saved the best one for last. She was so different from the little girl that we met on Monday. The doctors said that after two days of our visiting with her she was far more emotional. Well, I have to say Bret and I were truly amazed at her on Saturday. It funny to think that a little person reaching out to you could just melt your heart...and it did. When we had to leave the doctor said we will wait here for you to leave. As we walked away ,I could not bring myself to look back at her. I now wish I would have.
I really have a better understanding now of what is meant by good things come to those who wait. Each step of this adoption process seems to creep by and you have to wonder will it ever happen . Then you move on to the next stage of the process and realize that you have NOW entered the most difficult stage. We met this wonderful and amazing little angel who has stolen our hearts and we had to walk away.So we now will wait and pray for that phone to ring so we can return to our sweet girl and never be apart again. I think I will change the saying to GREAT things come to those who wait!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Saying goodbye

Today ,we had our medicals done. Everyone was very nice and it was not bad at all. I have been a little under the weather today. Hopefully my tummy will be feeling better tomorrow as it will be our last day to spend with Ava. We have really been amazed at all of the changes in her as we visit each day.So, it is very heartwrenching for us both to think of leaving her behind.A friend had shared how she had completed her family both through adoption and through the birth of her children. She had shared that her labor during adoption was far more difficult of the two. Having given birth to two wonderful boys, I have to agree with her. We are so excited about seeing her tomorrow but at the same time having to say goodbye to her just seems unimaginable. Please pray that she knows how much she is loved and for a quick return back to her.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

We are having a wonderful week with Ava! We have been so excited with all of the progress she has made with us in the past few days.She was sitting in my lap the other day and I felt something warm on my leg. She had sprung a leak! The ladies all ran around cleaning things up and looking at me not sure how I would react.I think after I broke out in laughter that said it all!Little do they know I am the mother of two boys. Need I say more? I have seen ,heard and worn everything gross that you could imagine! From boogers to ...well let's just saw I have exsperienced it all!I wore that baby pee pee with pride!We are really starting to get anxious about leaving her here. She has a wonderful group of caregivers that take such good care of her. That will help us with the difficult task of going home without her.
We have our 8 doctor medical exam tomorrow.We are going to squeeze in one more visit in with Ava before our trip is up.We have been taken such good care of by our driver and translator this week. Without them our trip would not have gone as smooth as it has. They took us under their wings and have kept us safe and entertained! We have really loved all of the agencies staff in Russia. What a great group of people ! They truly love these children and make it their life work to help these children. May God bless each one of them!
Well, we are off to bed!The jet lag is kicking our booties!B is already snoring!


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

We are really here...I promise!

First I have to say that I am the worst blogger in the history of man kind! We have been so exhausted physically and emotionally that we are not even sure what day it is!
We left Houston at 11:45 Sunday night but not before a lot of tears were shed! The boy's and I were having seperation issues! They managed to drive off with my parents without me hooked on the bumper of the car! I miss them terribly!Our flight was uneventful and despite Bret's prediction that I would take the plane down with all SEVEN of our bags we arrived without incident. No I did not bring my whole closet ! We had 2 Huge bags of clothes for the orphanage. Bret provided some much needed comic relief by falling down with the luggage!But what was really funny was the look on our drivers face when he saw Bret approaching with all of our stuff...priceless! So I know you guy's are saying get to the good stuff already!
We arrived at the Ministry of Education Monday morning to receive our official referral. I cannot share any details about the child out of respect for her privacy. They ask if you would like to meet the child ...Bret said I did not let them finish the question and interrupted with a firm and loud yes! We had Dr. M meet us to evaluate the child and he was wonderful. We would have been really scared without his help. Well, after our first visit with the baby our translator asked what we thought ...Bret said can we take her home now! He is in big trouble on day 1 she manged to wrap that man around her pinky finger ...really tight!
So , I guess you all figured out that we have both had our hearts stolen by this dancing Russian princess !!! And yes she really dances. We are really excited about this new chapter in our life and cannot wait to bring baby Ava home!


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Just a few more days!

Did you look at that ticker? We have our visa's in hand and are ready to go! Well ...kind of!I can hardly imagine that in a few short days we will be meeting the newest addition to our family...our daughter! We have been buzzing around finishing up last minute details for our trip. There has been so much to do that just when I think I am done... something else pops up!
We are so excited about this blessing of adoption but I am also suffering from a mix of other emotions. I absolutely dread leaving my boys! The thought of going so far away from them is weighting so heavy on me. I know they will be in good hands with my Mom and Dad but I will miss them terribly!Today I am going to spend the day with my boys and enjoy every minute of it! My cousin,Shan, shared some advice with me some years back that I have come to rely on whenever I am faced with uncertainty or fear. She said if you just give your troubles to God he will carry you through. She said when you do it the troubles will be replaced with a feeling of peace . I have relied on this at so many times in my life and it works.So I will once again lay all of this at his feet and wait for any fears that I feel to be replaced with his peace.
Well, our next post will be from Russia! I will do my best to keep everyone updated as the events unfold.Please keep our boy's and this little girl in your thoughts and prayers!You can never have too many of those.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

One Crazy Mama!

Since we received the call I have been running around gathering stuff for our trip! My mind has been going in a thousand different directions! I think I am suffering from some sort of sensory overload ... smoke could billow out of both of my ears at any moment!
We are so excited about meeting our daughter but sad about leaving our boys! Nick just turned 14 this past week and I think he will be OK .Now Jake is 4. He is tough as a boot on the outside but still a momma's boy! He still does not have a good grasp on time so hopefully it will go by fast for him with T and Pop! When the social worker came for our first home visit Jake thought she was bringing the baby then! He was so disappointed!He was ready to play! I pray that they are safe and having fun while we are gone!
It amazes me how God prepares you for the "birth" of a child . I am waking up earlier and earlier each night! I remember doing this with both of the boy's. I believe that this is his way of preparing you for sleepless nights ahead. Hmm...I will have to buy some extra concealer to camouflage those big bags I will be lugging around!
Well off to finish packing! I have got to try how to figure out how to fit 75 lbs. of orphanage clothes in my bags!I priced the shipping costs to Russia for the 2 boxes ...$650. ...EACH!!!!
Needless to say we will pay the airline extra $ to bring them.Congrats to all of the Families that have court this week!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Travel Dates!

We are happy to announce we have travel dates! We will be traveling the week of July 5th! We were completely caught of guard with the phone call! We figured that it would maybe be coming the end of the week or maybe next week . Of course we were out of town with none of our paperwork! So we returned home and frantically began making plans! We are so excited that we will be meeting our daughter in just a few weeks! Then so many of our questions will finally be answered. Who is she ,what does she look like and what is the beginning of her sweet life story. I have spent countless hours thinking about her and what it will be like when we meet her. It is hard to imagine that all of these questions will be answered in just a few short weeks! Please pray for her . My hope for her is that she has someone that has showed her the love and security that every child deserves. I hope she knows how much she is loved and that she already has such a special place in our hearts and family!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Toga anyone?

As we wait for specific dates for travel, I have been trying to keep busy! I have been focusing on getting her room completed. This has taken us a bit longer than we had anticipated. Getting a room ready for a "princess" has been a bit more challenging than the boys! I have two boys and I know what they like! I never thought that I would catch and hold a bug or embrace dirt the way I have over the years... but I have. I have evolved from a "girlie girl" to a woman with boys!So, trying to reconnect with that" girlie girl" again is like looking for something that you stuck in the back of the closet !But I think I have found it! Her room has been a bit challenging but really fun! I am finishing the drapes today and will have some photos up in the next couple of days. As kind of a teaser ,I am posting a picture of my drapery consultant.He decided to utilize all fabric scraps and victimize my poor shrubs! I hope this is not a glimpse of his college years! I am having flash backs of John Belushi in"Animal House"...YIKES!

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Call

We received a call from our agency on May 23,2008 .Yes, that was two weeks ago today!This was not just any call but "The Call" that every prospective adoptive parent waits for! Our dossier has been registered in Moscow! I think over the past 2 weeks I have experienced every range of emotion that has been possible.For those of you that know me well keeping such exciting news is not easy! But thanks to my duo of adoption angels they have satisfied that need to share this great news.With out the two of them this "labor" would be like trying to do it without your coach. And I have been blessed with not one coach but two!

I have sat down several times to post on our blog and I have deleted the post and walked away. For numerous reasons I have been a little scared to put the info out there. Maybe it would be somewhat of a jinx to announce anything or maybe she would end up with another family( her own or a Russian family ) getting to have her in the end. I have had two weeks now to absorb this info and feel ready for just about anything...well ALMOST anything!The region we will travel to is a blind region . We will receive no information about this child prior to travelling.I have spent so much time wondering what she will look like,will she like us ,what will she think when she meets us, and the list goes on.I have kept up with so many families that have been traveling to meet their children. The stories that they have shared have been so wonderful, some funny and some sad.So no matter how you look at it this entire journey is a leap of faith. We are so excited about getting to meet this special little girl! Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers along with all of the other little orphans that are waiting for a family of their own.

We will keep everyone posted as the events unfold!


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The past week!

We have been so busy this past week! Jake had his Pre -K graduation this past Thursday.In the program he was asked to do the hula hoop.Wow ,he did a great job! He bid a sad farewell to his friends and teachers from this year.But he is filled with excitement about attending elementary school this Fall. We live in a great area filled with tons of kid's! Not to mention the security he feels that the elementary school's playground boarders our backyard fence! It is always great to know that Mom is just on the other side of that fence!

Over the Memorial holiday we went to my Aunt's bayhouse.Bret and I are horrible about photographing various events as they unfold. We always have great intentions but the camera rarely makes it out of the car!!! As for this weekend ... no exception! You will have to take my word for it that we had a great time fishing and swimming. I will leave you with the only evidence that the weekend was a blast! This is Jake in the car on the way home. I was forbidden to post the photo of Nick but I will say ...Lots of snoring and drooling was going on!


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A wonderful suprise!

We started this journey to adopt last year at our home in Dallas. We had research agencies and countries and prayed that there would be a clear sign of where we were supposed to go. We truly believe that this adoption was planned for us long ago. Our hearts are filled with the love for a child we have never seen or met . So the lengthy research began.Along the way ,we encountered some wonderful people who shared their knowledge of the adoption process and their love for these children. One such agency ,that deals with placing special needs children , had a referral of a very special little girl.This child was far from "special needs "in our book but just incredibly special. I studied that little photo for weeks as we started gathering the necessary documents.It is amazing how emotionally invested you can become to a little photo. We received a call that another family was paper ready and officially had accepted the referral. As hard as it was to hear,We were truly happy for that little girl. She now would have a family to call her own.
Today,I was looking through some various adoption blogs when I came across a title that just caught my eye. To my surprise ...it was her! She looked amazing! How great that is to see that she received a wonderful family . She is with the family that God had chosen for her long ago.It just made my day! He certainly does work in mysterious ways!I believe that this is one of those moments sent our way to renew our patience and faith in this long journey.I take great comfort in trusting in his plan for us and faith that the daughter that he has chosen for us will be revealed soon! Now... I will return to decorating my daughters room! I sure hope she likes pink!!!!I will reveal photos soon!
Until then,

Saturday, May 17, 2008

My baby is growing up!

This past Friday night my oldest son,Nicholas,attended his first dance.We went out shopping that afternoon for some clothes. Of course he headed straight for the Kenneth Cole Store( thank the lord that it is an outlet!)Thanks Kevin for planting that seed of fashion in my 13 year old! Anyway he had a great time at the dance. At this age there was not a lot of dancing.I imagine the girls were on one side and boys grouped on the other!Like a group of animals evading a predator! Wow, I feel old! It seems like yesterday Nick was just a little baby and wanted to be carried around.Now, he could carry me ! Anyway I will leave you all with some photos of the big event!Next year he will be in high school. I imagine that the next dance photo will have a girl standing next to him! I am way to young for this!!!

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Wait

Yes, We are still here! Sorry I have not posted in a while but there has not been any new news on the adoption front. We have been patiently waiting for the Russian holiday to be over . We are really hoping that there will be some new activity this approaching week as they all return back to work! So...in the meantime we have been keeping busy trying not to think about how much longer till we receive "The Call"!!! This week a friend traveled for her 1st trip to met her daughter. She was so kind and generous to share such a special time with all of her fellow PAP's. I know that hearing her thoughts and experiences helped renew my hope that this will one day be a reality for us as well.Thank you O! These past few weeks I have reflected about the waiting portion of my paper pregnancy and how difficult it has been.But what has been on my mind this week is how difficult it must be for those children that are waiting.These children see some of the other children in their group leave with their new families. As time goes by they probably ask themselves when is it going to be my turn or why haven't I been chosen.For some, they will be lucky and get wonderful families that will show them the love of a Mom and Dad.For the others,they will wait... forever.I hope and pray that each child will know the love of someone in their life, whether it be a family or a devoted caregiver.These thoughts have put my waiting in perspective.It has been over a year since we first started on this journey ,in comparison some children have been waiting their whole life.
I will leave you with some projects that we have completed .One image is of the putting green( with a dry creek w/a bridge!) for the kid's and the other is the drapes in Bret's office.Yes MO,I really finished them!These projects really have helped the time go by . I will not say faster but have helped me cut back on the number of times I check the caller i.d.,emails and blog stalking!I do believe that Dr. Phil could devote a whole show to the additions of PAP's!!!!!