"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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Sunday, September 20, 2009

A New Chapter!

We thought that Ava's first Gotcha Day anniversary was a great time to close the page on this chapter and start a new one! We look at it as not the end but just a new beginning. We are so excited about this new chapter and the blessings that it will bring into our lives. So click on the link and see where our next chapter will lead us!


One Year "Gotcha" Day Anniversary!!!

Today marks our one year "Gotcha Day" anniversary ! It seems like it was just yesterday that we walked out of that orphanage in Russia.I handed them your new clothes and they quickly changed you. When they handed you back to me you just looked at Daddy and I with those big blue eyes and did not even shed a tear. I made a promise to you on that day that you would never be alone again . You now belong to a family ...forever. Now looking back at you then and now I am amazed at the changes that you have gone through. We walked out of there with a timid baby that we really knew nothing about. In one short year you have grown into our little girl that I know better than myself. The strength and courage that you have shown just amazes me. Leaving everything you have ever know and embracing us with your trust is one of the greatest gifts that I have ever received. This past year has been a wonderful year full of blessings. I had no idea how much one little girl could impact so many lives. Each day that you have graced our lives you manage to bring out the best in all of us. With one simple smile or giggle you can light up a room.

I really cannot remember my life before you.I just remember something missing in my life. A place in my heart that you have filled. Although it has only been a year it seems like you have been here with us always.In that year you have carved a place in each of our hearts and wrapped everyone in the house around your little finger. I am often told how blessed you are . If they only knew how blessed we are that God had planned long ago that you were to be part of our family,created you with each of us in mind and placed you in our arms.
I love you more than you will ever know,
One Blessed Mama

Monday, September 14, 2009

Attachment vs. Developmental

Okay, bare with me it has been one of those days! First off I want to say that things here have been going great. Ava is attaching wonderfully and has made such progress since coming home. We have been receiving services from ECI for about 10 months now. We do not qualify for a speech therapist through them because there is not something structurally wrong with Ava's mouth.So we have a caseworker that comes out every 2 weeks and checks on progress and offers suggestions. Our social worker suggested that we leave their program and enter a true speech pathologist program. So today we had our first visit with the speech pathologist.Ava is totally different in a strange setting . So they come out and take her in the back for an assessment...alone. Okay Bret can see the look on my face and I think it was something like shock or panic. She took Ava to her office did not have much luck on getting her to talk and then Ava took her hand and headed to the door to look for me. So then they headed to the waiting room and got Dad and I to go in with her. I think at that point I started to breath again. (Yes I think that I stopped breathing when they took her back.) It is so difficult to explain to someone that this child that she is seeing is not the same child that we see everyday. Ava was a bit overwhelmed and at one point crawled up in my lap and buried her face into my chest.She was like a doodlebug in my lap.I have had my baby with me for 1 year now and I know her as well as I know myself. You know that gift that God gives every mother.Well he has given me Ava's map and I know it well. Ava got in that room ran around like she was in overdrive and made no eye contact. It was like she was crazy. We have been home for 1 year this week and I have stayed home with her. She has found this home to be her sanctuary and in many ways it has been the same for me. The Speech therapist then let me know that she thinks Ava is ready for mother's day out. What?????? That knocked me for a loop.I then had to explain to her that Ava already had that socialization and what our #1 focus has been is attachment. I really did not feel comfortable explaining to her (the professional) the importance between attachment vs. developmental .What a stressful appointment it was and I left there questioning what the hell am I doing! Do I put her in some program for children one day a week.I know she would benefit from it socially and developmentally. Then I think what our social worker who is also an attachment therapist said when we saw her 3 weeks ago for our post placement. She said that the best thing that we have done for Ava is staying at home and keeping her world small. We have been blessed for me to be a stay at home mom. So ,the thought of dropping her off at a children's program and not having to work would stress me out maybe worse than her ! So I am left here today wondering if any of you have faced this and what you have done.

Any suggestions would be great .It is hard to be be reminded of what these precious kids have been deprive of at the beginning of their little lives.Today, I have been reminded once again of that and it really makes my heart heavy for her. I do not like days like today!

I think I will post this on my blog and see what other feed back I get . Wait I think the only other person who reads it is Kristine ,momma of that yummy peanut butter cup! Ha, Ha!Well Kristine and the gang give me your feed back!

Okay, I am going to go wash the mascara off my contacts so I do not bring home the wrong first grader!
Share the wisdom people!!!!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

September Already!

We can hardly believe that it is already September! The time is just flying by. In a couple of weeks we will be celebrating our one year anniversary of picking up Ava. What a wonderful day it was walking out of those orphanage gates with our precious girl and looking forward to our new lives together as a family.Since we have been home a year we feel that it is time to move on . There will be one final post on September 20th and then we will be starting a new chapter in our lives!
Today, Ava and I went to Jake's school for a parade and picnic lunch. It amazes me when I see her in this social setting. She was easily overwhelmed and timid a year ago. But today she is so secure and comfortable sitting at her Bubba's desk coloring a picture. When we go to leave she ever so gently leans down and kisses him and tells him bye . It really warms my heart to see how she loves each of us as we do her. She is truly a treasure that was heaven sent.
I will leave you with a picture that Jake took of her at the school.As you can tell from Jake's photo he was feeling a little ridiculous dressed as a nursery rhyme character! He was all smiles when he got his costume off! Check back on the 20th for our exciting announcement!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Warning! Contains Gross Bodily Humor

We have our own little mystery going on around here. I have several suspects but I am really wondering if it is one single person to blame or rather a group effort.

Suspect #1 Jake - profile: sweet mama's boy; always eager to point or pull the finger;expert storyteller

Suspect #2 Nick - profile: (confidential)Cannot divulge too much personal info I am under a gag order ; I suspect there is a restraining order against me coming within 10 feet of the high school

Suspect #3 Dad - Profile: High protein diet ...Need I say more

Suspect # 4 Tex - Profile: Sneaky and eats dirt, bugs and everything in his path!

The problem here is that I have a beautiful little girl who suffers from a syndrome called P.O.D. For those of you that are not familiar with this be glad! If you have boys in your house you are probably in denial but have seen the signs of this disorder. POD a.k.a. Pooting On Demand . Yes, my little "poot in pink" thinks this is so funny to cut the cheese in public! While we were out shopping the other day she cut the cheese so loud the lady on the aisle looked at me!
I am fearful that she is lost to all the laughter that she can get from her new found bodily function!So her is her latest mug shot . If you see her out in public I swear it is not me!

Monday, August 24, 2009

One Sad Little Sister!

Today was the first day back at school and I have one sad little lady here! Every time we said "Ava do not be sad both bubba's have to go to school" her bottom lip would stick out! Ava has enjoyed having the boy's here for the summer. It will take us a good two weeks to get back into the groove but we will have some really good one on one time again.
I now have a sophomore in high school and a first grader. That means I will one day have a freshman in College and a kindergartner! That sounds really crazy!
Well, stay posted we have some really exciting news to share in the next few weeks! Until then I will leave you with some pics of the first day!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Three Day's and Counting!!!!

School begins on Monday ! I cannot believe summer is gone! Ava is going to miss her bubba's. I did not see any X box or Rockband on either of their schedules for this upcoming school year. Maybe there was a mistake? NOT!
On Monday morning there is going to be some cobwebs burning!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Here is a photo of the band. Nick the singer, Jake on the guitar and Ava on the piano.
Look at that grin on her face! Too cute!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Who's the Boss?

NEED I SAY MORE????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ava's Top Ten List!

We are amazed on a daily basis at how much Ava has changed. We walked off that plane with a quiet , meek and timid little baby. Now fast forward and we have a two year old firecracker! She now has a voice. And did I mention that she loves to hear herself SCREAM!!!!

Ava's 10 Dislikes:

10. Tex's Kisses! Tex and Ava are eye level and she always has some sort of snack residue on her upper body. Well need I say more, you add in a dog with a kin sense of smell and a love for giving kisses and the result is lots of screaming! Tex one day she will love you but right now Rocky ... ROCKs!

9.Mashed Potatoes! Lots of potatoes in that cabbage soup at the orphanage. She loves french fries only!

8.Doctors in white coats! She is terrified!

7.Thunder and lightening! This is a new fear that has just emerged!

6.When Momma puts her purse on! She does not like if I go somewhere without her! She has a mommy addiction! I would not have it any other way!

5.Not being able to choose her own shoes! It sounds crazy but she loves her shoes.She gets straight out of bed and heads for he shoe rack.Her current favorites are her princess high heel collection and a pair of green rubber caterpillar boot! As you can see in the photos, the green rubber boots are a must in every Texas girls wardrobe!

4.Tight clothes! She had enough of that.

3.Long Car rides! Even with her favorite show on the TV. When she is done... she is done!

2.Being hungry! Everything is good as long as you are not late with breakfast ,lunch dinner and snacks! It is as simple as this:

Ava + a full tummy = A happy girl!

1.Being told NO! This really stinks and I hate it too !!!!!! Get used to it sister we live in a house where the testosterone levels are dangerously high!

Ava's 10 Favorite Things:

10.Water! She loves to bath, swim and splash in puddles! You would never believe this was the same child who was terrified of the bath tub in Russia! Now, she is a little fish!

9.Her blanket! She has grown attached to one blanket. It has got one edge tattered just right. She likes to tickle her nose and toes with that tattered corner. And watch out if you are extra special she will tickle your nose too!

8.Ava loves other little people! She loves to be around other little kids. When she gets around someone her age you see the biggest grin and lots of giggles!

7.Ava loves to be outside! Ava was housed in the hospital for a big portion of the beginning of her life. When she went to the orphanage , she would get sick and off to the hospital she would go. So she loves to put on her rubber boots, a hat , loads of sunscreen and soak up some Texas rays!

6.Music! Ava loves music! She loves for you to sing her anything. Believe me American Idol has not contacted me about an auditions but she thinks my voice is just lovely!!! Ha!

5.Ava loves Rocky! Ava and our cat have a special relationship. They have a mutual love for one another. They have joined forces against the dog...Sorry Tex!

4.She loves to eat! You would not now it by looking at her. She is still quite small but making great progress. She eats anything. On the boy's plates everything is separate and Ava mixes everything up! Ava loves Hummus, olives , tomatoes, broccoli,onions but spaghetti is her favorite!

3.She loves her bubba's! Jake is her clown / partner in crime and Nick fulfills a loving yet silly role.

2.Ava loves to be carried around! She is on my hip about 75% of the day.No wonder I am on the geriatric circuit at the gym!

1. And top on her list of favorite things..........Ava loves being part of a family! This is so apparent to us in how she has grown to love and trust all of us.She looks at each of us with such love and devotion. This is not always a easy transition for a child that has spent their life in an institution. But each and every child deserves to have the chance to be loved and accepted. Ava has found that and at two years old she has been one of the best teachers that I have ever had.

So, there you have it ! This little firecracker has come into her own. We are so excited tantrums and all!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Date to Remember!

Okay, I admit I am not the most organized person. I guess you could call me a closet slob. I am one of those people that keeps stuff in case I will need it someday! I was sorting through some of my old emails today . When I looked over at the date, I realized that was the day that my sweet little girl was born in Russia . Yes, I admit I have keep emails from 2007! When I looked back on that date ,we were packing up for our big move from Dallas back to Houston. On that hot day in July ,we endured the painful task of packing up and bidding our farewells in Dallas. On the other side of the world our pink bundle of joy was born. I was so anxious to get moved! I was excited about returning to my hometown but really excited about beginning our home study. I had to cancel our first home study appointment because of the relocation. Our social worker suggested once we got settled in Houston then we could proceed with the home study. I remember thinking that every road block that we encountered was delaying the adoption process.It was so frustrating and I was ready !!! Funny thing is that the little girl that was meant to be our daughter was not ready . She had just been born. I look back on this now and know that every detour and road block was in place for a reason. And I am reminded as we are about to begin another wonderful adventure ... GREAT things come to those who wait!

I leave you with my pink bundle of joy in pink high heels and her Walmart shopping cart! And yes that is her hair , not a wig!!!!!!!!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Happy Birthday Baby Girl!!!!!!

Today is Ava's second birthday! We are so excited and blessed to be sharing this special day with her. This will be her first birthday party. When we met her she was one week shy of her first birthday. We were told that in the orphanage they lump the kids birthdays together and celebrate as a group. So for your 2nd birthday it is all about you!

We had some of your favorite people as guests to share this special day. Top on Ava's list is her great grandmother,Nana. She has a connection with her that is so sweet. She is not like this with everyone but Nana holds a special place in Ava's heart.
Ava had a great time and really got into opening the presents. Jake decided that you would dress like a princess and he would be a knight. As you can tell from the first picture she was not wanting her photo taken! What a diva!

Happy Birthday Baby!
We love you more than you will ever know!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Journal - Our Final Visit

Today we were allowed to see you one last time before we leave.Since Podolsk is in the same direction as the airport, we went to see you before the flight. We were allowed to lay a blanket down on the floor and you really enjoyed that. Today you would reach for me. What a change from the quiet little lady we met on Monday. You enjoyed laughing and playing with the stacking cups. You did not stack them but enjoyed chewing on them! Yum! We had 2 hours to play today. Daddy was amazed at how interactive you were today. You loved dancing to Daddy's Blackberry tunes. When it was time to leave I handed you to the doctor. She said you would both stand there till we left. I walked down that long hallway and I could not bring myself to look back at you. I could only imagine what you were thinking watching us walk away.The thought of leaving you in that hospital is overwhelming.As we leave you I am left wondering if this week with us was just another abandonment for you. We both feel like we were in shock.This all feels like a dream. What a great week we had playing with you and getting to know you.I will pray that you will be returned to the orphanage soon.

We now are at home and are waiting on the phone call about our court date.I have to say that this stage of the wait is the most difficult yet.After leaving you , we have decided to combine trip 2 & 3. The thought of leaving you again would be too difficult. I pray everyday that court will be earlier than September. I also pray that the Lord will keep you safe until we return to you. I hope that you are filled with the knowledge that you are loved beyond measure and now belong to a family.

We Love you,
Momma & Daddy

The Journal - Day 4

Today, I came alone to see you. I could tell it was killing Daddy to miss the day with you. He went to work today in Moscow. I traveled to Podolsk with Alex and Violet. They have taken such good care of us this week. I have not once felt scared or unsafe. I do not think you were feelng well today. You spit up a few times, but despite that I could see you had fun playing with me. We put a blanket on the floor and you had a little more freedom. You really love your baby Einstein musical book. You also played with your bunny we made for you at Build a Bear. You smiled a lot more and babbled a lot more too. You rocked yourself a couple of times but that will all change when you get home. The doctors at the hospital said you must have a strong immune system because you have been there twice for exsposure to an illness and not gotten sick. I did not get to feed you today because you had already eaten. After our visit, we went by the orphanage to drop off your things we brought for you.They all said what a wonderful little girl you are. I met your main caregiver ,Alla, and she was very sweet. I could tell she cared about you a lot. We will not get to see you on Friday as we have our 8 doctor medicals in Moscow. We will have our final visit with on Saturday before leaving for the airport.The thought of heading back home without you is going to be so difficult. In just a few short days you have captured such a big piece of both of our hearts!

The Journal - Day 3

We arrive today a little late for lunch, so we do not get to give you your bottle.When the doctor comes in to bring you to us she tells us that you seem alive with emotions. She said our visits have been very good for you and you are showing so many more emotions.We pass you back and forth and have a great time playing with the toys we brought.When we lean in to give you kisses you cringe. It is hard to imagine that you are unsure about what a simple gesture of love is. Daddy leans in a tickles your foot and there it is the biggest smile and giggle that we have ever seen. We are thrilled! You have made us work really hard for that first smile. Leave it to daddy to know just what would work. We got some great pictures of your beautiful smile.We also got a better view of those six teeth that you have been hiding.You love the butterfly rattle that makes all kinds of different sounds.You seem to like anything that makes noises. That is good because we are a loud family that lives in a noisy house!
After our visit today we went by the orphanage to drop off our clothing donations. The director was on vacation but we gave them to the orphanage doctor. She was thrilled and very gracious. She said that you were a wonderful little girl and you could tell that she was fond of you.She said that you look like me. I did not realize how nice that was to hear. What a compliment. She told us that she has seen a photo of your birth mother and that she was very beautiful. I would not expect anything less because you are such a beautiful little baby. I can only imagine how difficult it was for her to leave you. She knew that she could not take care of you and wanted only the best for you. One day I will help you find her so that she can see what a wonderful young women you have become.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Journal - Day 2 with Baby Boo!

We arrive at the hospital today before lunch. When they bring you out today you again are wrapped in many layers of blankets.I immediately go over and scoop you up. They allow us to go into the office to have our visit.There is no where to set you down and watch what you can do so we take turns holding you.We brought a backpack filled with books and toys for you to look at. You loved the baby Einstein book with music and noises!It does not take us long to realize that we have a little dancer on our hands!Daddy plays music his blackberry and you dance,jump and shake your head to the music! The doctor enters the room with a bottle of formula. You grab it and off you go.I have never seen a child suck so furiously. As I hold you in my arms you are gripping my fingers so tight and your eyes are rolling back in your head.Every few seconds you open your eyes and look at me as if to see if I am still there.You can hold a bottle like a pro but you allow me to feed you. I can see that this will be a great way for us to bond.When the bottle is empty you continue to suck .I take it out and you grab it and jam it back into your mouth. I can tell that you are still hungry.At this age in the states you would be on more than formula. When I asked if you could have some of the Gerber puffs that we brought they looked at me like I was crazy.Did I mention that you have a full set of teeth !
You continue to entertain us with some babbling and dancing. When we ask you questions you shake your head no . Very Cute! You are sitting on my lap when I realize there is something wet and really warm on my leg. Yeah ...you peed on me! The nurses ran in and get you changed. I laughed . They do not know that I am the mother of two boys and used to all things gross and crude! The boys have prepared me well for just about anything.I wore my "pee pee" jeans proudly the rest of the day. It was kinda of like you had marked me as your momma today!
At dinner tonight we both found it hard to eat wondering if you were still hungry.Our hearts are heavy thinking about you stuck in isolation at the hospital. It sounds strange but we will be happy when you are returned to the orphanage. After much discussion you will be Ava Alexandra. A new name , a new beginning .

The Day We Met

I cannot believe that today is the one year anniversary of meeting our sweet Ava. The time has flown by so quickly and I have watched her transform from a scared ,shy baby to a confident ,spunky (that sounds better than stubborn!)little girl. Our lives were forever changed when we walked into that hospital in Podolsk.That first week ,I had taken a journal with me to take notes after each visit with Ava.

Day 1

We went to the MOE today to get our official referral. We waited for a couple of hours in a long hallway for our turn to be called in. We waited with two other American couples. One of the families were with CSS and shared their knowledge of the IA process.Our translator Violet left us with Svetelana as we waiting for our invitation to go in the back.Finally, we were all called back to a small room. There was a round table in the center of the room and we all took a seat. On both sides of the room were four ladies working on computers.We sat in silence for what seemed like an eternity. It was the most nervous silence that I have ever experienced. A lady entered the room with two large files in her hands. She sat them on the table and began speaking Russian to S asking which family would be going first. S pointed at us. I glanced down at the file but I did not see a photo on the front. She opened the file and took out a sheet of paper with a lot of data and at the top left hand corner was a small black and white photo.She then turned the paper around and started reading the data in Russian.They all kinda sounded like Charlie Brown's teacher! S was translating but I was focused on that little photo.I recognized you from the database. It was the same photo that I had see everyday for months. I was totally shocked that you were so young and blond/light eyed. We were open any ethnicity and up to 24 months. We expected a brown-eyed beauty that was at the top end of our age bracket.This was definitely proof that God has a sense of humor! Always remember EVERYTHING IS ON HIS TIME AND IT IS HIS PLAN!
We were then given all the basic info about you .Then they asked if we would like to met you . Bret said I yelled out "Yes" before they could finish the question.We then drove to Podolsk. We arrived at the gates of the baby home located in the middle of the town of Podolsk.Violet took us inside past the guard. When you walked into the yard there was colorful murals painted on the walls and play ground equipment scattered throughout the grounds.In the backdrop was a large two story building.When entering the building we could not help but notice the silence. Violet took us straight to the directors office where we learned you were taken to the hospital due to a fever and exposure to the chicken pox.Violet was determined we were going to see you today so after much persuasion the clinic granted us permission to visit you. So we were back in the car and heading to the hospital.When we arrived we were shocked to see the conditions of the hospital.We went to the last building in the back where they kept the children. We rang the door bell and Violet worked her magic. We were asked to wait in the hallway while they went in in the back to get you. We had hired Dr. M to come and evaluate your medicals. I have to say I was scared to death!I managed to maintain that "deer in the headlights" look all day!

Minutes passed and this doctor that was no taller than 4'6 comes walking out with something that looks half her size wrapped in many blankets.She laid you on a table in the hallway and began unwrapping you. Layer by layer whatever was in there was getting smaller and smaller. Then there were two big beautiful grey eyes just sizing up each of us.I was shocked to see how tiny you were. You were one week shy of your first b-day and weighted what your brothers weighted at 3-4 months.We studied each other for a few minutes and then I scooped you up.You did not cry at all.They explained that you had been there for 21 days in the "box".I think you were glad for the human attention and change of scenery. Dr. M evaluated you as we helped and watched.We were amazed at how bright and alert you were. We would give you our fingers and you would pull yourself up. Small but very mighty! You made excellent eye contact and studied every detail of our faces. But you were completely silent and had a frown on your face. Dr. M talked to us about your medical report.You had a lengthy list on your medical: PFO(small hole in between atrium's of the heart) ,rickets ,pulmonary stenosis, premature at 36 wks , 4.4 lbs at birth, delay about 3-4 months,angel kiss on your forehead and large stork bite at the base of your neck! Dr. M felt the hole was closed because he could not detect a murmur and all of you other issues would resolve with good nutrition and the love of a family.Before we knew it ,it was time for your nap . I walked out of that building in a daze. Where was my sign . I just knew that God was going to give me a sign that you were our daughter.I had seen your picture on the datbase countless times but I would always just pass it over. When we got in the car Violet asked what we thought of the baby. Daddy jumped in and said "When can we take her home". Well, that was my sign ! This man was terrified of a baby with a heart condition.He walked out of that building and knew without any doubt that you were our daughter. You managed to wrap that man around your finger in two short hours. You definitely beat my time! I leave there with so much on my mind it is difficult to process it all.All that I know is that I have just met my little girl!

Monday, July 6, 2009

1st Trip To The Beach!

Ava had her first trip to the beach this past week. She had a blast digging in the sand and looking at the shells. She has really been bonding with Nick lately. Jake is her clown that always entertains but Nick is older. They have been spending more time together since school has been out for summer and she is forming a great bond with him. It is really wonderful to see!

We are so excited to be approaching our one year anniversary of meeting our sweet girl! Time has really flown by.I just look at her and it seems so surreal that we have been blessed with such a wonderful bundle of joy!


Saturday, July 4, 2009

An American Girl!

The Day we walked out of the orphanage with Ava the ladies took her back and changed her into the clothes we brought her. When she came back out they said "Look at her she looks like an American girl!" Well, let's fast forward 10 months later ... if they could see her now!

Happy 4th of July!!!!!!!!

Note to self: Never try to have a photo shoot BEFORE the nap!Sorry Ava I had to document the terrible two's. No one believe's me!