Hoping to someday find M's brother adopted in the U.S. -
Myckola Oleksandrovych Markov - 8/26/2003

Monday, July 28, 2014

Sunday, July 27, 2014

M's AFOs

I don't think I ever posted M's AFOs that we had custom made after her surgery.  Dr. Nuzzo spoke directly with our orthotist here who did an awesome job with the design.  We love these!!  After three years of having to buy shoes two sizes too big just to get the braces to fit, M can wear whatever shoes she wants.  These are so nice and thin, plus the cutout in the back makes them more flexible and more breathable.  She's also thrilled that the spasticity is gone in her foot so she doesn't need the two straps across the top and toe of her foot to hold it in the brace.  We're very happy!  

Friday, July 25, 2014


With six kids, haircuts are getting expensive. I decided to add "cutting hair" to my skill set.
M was first :)


D teaching M to play checkers.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Monday, July 21, 2014

Boundary Testing

I've heard that behaviors peek around 6 months home.  That's probably the average and for my boys, its held true. 

D copped a real attitude around 4-5 months home.  It lasted about 1 month.  Adoption is a huge change for kids.  He was the oldest and "in charge."  He had to let us take the reigns and relinquish his view of himself as an adult, capable of making adult decisions (yeah telling me how to drive isn't a good idea lol).  His behavior had a lot to do with stress at school as well and once school let out, he has been a different child.  He told me that he is really stupid at school because he is so stupid at English.  That breaks my heart.  (and why he is working with a tutor all summer who tells him all.the.time. that he is NOT stupid)  Its easy to see with him, why he puts up such a tough guy front sometimes.  

E has been a super easy kiddo until right at 6 months when he pulled some controlling behaviors out and tried that nonsense for about 4 weeks.  It got him nothing but loss of privileges and extra chores so he shaped up after testing the boundaries.  He did really (seemingly) dumb things like pretending he had no idea how to put clothes away (suddenly) or that he didn't know how to wash his hands.

But V...  that little stinker!
V has always been the most challenging one.  We hosted him first and he was a handful then to put it mildly.  We were actually asked by our facilitator if we knew how naughty "that one" was. (oh yes we did!)  He gave us quite a bit of attitude in Ukraine when we travelled to adopt them, mostly because he had a hard time processing all the changes going on.  However once home, he had a really nice long honeymoon period.  
Well...its over.  
He has been pushing the limits, breaking rules just to see what happens, talking back, and really just boundary testing for all he is worth.  To the point of not being safe.  If I tell you not to go in the deep part of the water at the lake because you cannot swim well, and you disobey, then you cannot swim at all.  If I tell you to stay in the yard and you decide to lead your younger brothers on an expedition into the woods, then you are not safe to play outside.  He even made his tutor lose her temper with him for being such a smarty pants to her. We finally had to tell him he wasn't allowed out of our sight because he wasn't able to keep himself under control.  He has spent the last few days following my husband around, having to do what he did, and today he had to sit in his bed while I was too busy to watch him. 

When I let him up to play, I explained that breaking rules again would result in having to stand where I could see him at all times. 
Finally the attitude was gone.  "Yes ma'am."  

Ten minutes later he picked me a flower and told me "for you mommy. you best mommy ever." And that would be why we ended up adopting this naughty kiddo.  I just love his naughty little self so much.

I have felt bad for how strict we have had to be with him, but such is life with an adopted child.  They need the boundaries to feel safe so they purposefully test you to see if you are going to enforce them.

Are you really in charge?
Can I really trust you?
Do you really do what you say?

Three years ago this confounded me.  Today I get it.
He pushes, I push back.
I'm safe to push against because I don't move. 
For once in his life, something is constant.
That brings comfort.

But WOW some kids really need to have this enforced more than others!!! 
So there you have it. Its not all sunshine and roses. 
Often its hard and messy too!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Three Ring Binders

My PSA today is that every mom with a child in the public school system who has an IEP or an ESOL Plan is to get a binder and a three-hole punch.  I've spent several hours over the past month or so making binders for each child, and punching holes in all of their paperwork.


People tell me all the time, "I don't know how you do it."  Well, the answer is that I don't always know myself.  I just do it one day at a time, and I keep it organized.  I even had the developmental optometrist say "Wow! You are so organized!" because I brought W's school binder along to his appointment and had everything at my fingertips.    

I've found that the key to success can be lost in clutter.  

So there... the tired thoughts of a mom who just punched holes in hundreds of papers.

Get Binders.  I waited too long.

For the record though, when compiling a dossier for international adoptions, the expanding file folders work better because you CANNOT bend, staple, or punch holes in those precious documents.  Instead they are safely nestled deep within plastic dividers.  Expanding file folders do NOT work well for rifling through paperwork during an IEP meeting.  They are prone to dumping the contents when perched on a lap.  Not that I'd know or anything.

Boys and Beans

All of those bags are full of beans!!   My boys are great helpers :)

And we found a little friend in the garden.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Two Years Ago My Life Changed

Two years ago, I was at JFK airport in New York.  
I was a nervous wreck.  I flew up the day before with W.
We were meeting a group of orphans and bringing V home with us for the summer.
It was this crazy thing called hosting...

While we waited at arrivals for him to come out, I was panicking.
WHAT ON EARTH possessed me to host a 7 year old boy?
What if he runs off?
What if he is mean to my other kids?
What if he hates me?
What if he is terrified from his 30 hour trip?

And then this tiny boy walked out with a group of kids.
Someone told him I was his mama for the summer.
So he stood looking up at me with the most impossibly blue eyes I have ever seen, and the rest of the world stopped.  I couldn't tell you what was going on around me.  I don't remember.  I just remember his tired, pale, skinny, little face looking up at me.

And then this picture happened.
Little did I know that I had just met my son.

We went to the zoo that summer.

He played in the water.

We went bowling.

We had his horrible, horrible, painful teeth removed, and filled.
I didn't realize children's teeth could be so bad.  
It absolutely broke my heart to see his teeth.

I saw a lot of this face.
He was a very naughty boy that summer.
He is STILL a naughty boy - haha!!

But he was also so sweet.

So sweet.

And crazy.

Sweet, naughty, crazy.

That's my V.

Two years ago my life changed because I met my son.  

We would say "goodbye" and "hello" and "goodbye" again before saying "hello" forever.
Our journey to finding each other had just started two years ago.


I don't even know what to call today, but its special to me.  
We celebrate "gotchya day" as the day we took them out of the orphanage forever, but today is our "Hello, I love you" day.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Eight Months Home

Where has the time gone?
Some days it feels like an eternity has come and gone with all of the issues we've had with school.
What I had hoped would help ease some of the stress of our transition instead added a nearly unmanageable amount of stress to it.  
I feel like I've lived 5 years of hell in a meeting room since learning about ESL laws.
There is nothing I wouldn't do for my kids, but I sit here at eight months home and never thought I would still be dealing with what I am from our school district.

Then some days I am driving down the road, listening to a song on the radio and I remember listening to that same song what seems like just yesterday, crying and wishing my kids were here.

And now they are.

So despite the crazy, ridiculous, unexpected struggles we've had with school, we have tried to celebrate every milestone no mater how small, and just celebrate the fact that our kids are here forever.

So what have we been up to lately?


He turned 12 last week.
And we celebrated our dossier being submitted exactly one year ago on his birthday last year.
Only God.

Some of my brothers met us for a Hibachi Grill birthday dinner for D.
My kids are nuts.
Especially that littlest one on the end there.

E ate so much food I was actually afraid he might explode.

D is looking way too grown up.
I missed too much.  

W is a loon.  
If he was stuck on a deserted island, he would find something on it to amuse himself with.

E wanted to sit next to me.  Its like a competition and he "won" this time.

My brother felt that he needed to show E how to properly flex.
In a restaurant.
This is what comes of having 4 brothers in the Army.
Muscles are meant to be show off, right??

Finally they are all looking at me.

My baby Wy looks just like my "baby" brother.  

Its like turning back time 14 years.

Today we went peach picking.
The shirt tells the truth.

She was excited to pick peaches too, but WOW was it hot today!  99 actually.


More photo-op fun from my crazy children.

No, we didn't plan the clashing plaids.  

E desperately wanted an apple slicer.

Beautiful views from the orchard today!

We hit up the splash park after the orchard to try to cool off.

D got an iPod for his birthday.  The bonus is that now I get actual photos of me in my photo stream!
I exist!

One of our favorite things to do this summer has been swimming!

E got a haircut the next day after this picture.  I swear.

D with his cake.
He was so happy this year, and I mean who wouldn't be happy knowing they finally belong?

Real smiles.  
Real happy smiles.
When I met him, he wouldn't make eye contact.
I have little moments of awe every time he smiles at me.

Happpppppy Birthday D!!
(it was sort of a pool party, so excuse the lack of clothing)

Blowing them out!

He begged for a Darth Maul lightsaber for months.
Happy kid.

My dad bought him a hammer.
He loves making things, so again, happy kid!

His gift from us, an iPod touch.
I'm a little jealous because I don't have one yet.
(I bought it from amazon warehouse deals for a steal)

Two seconds later he figured it out and was taking pictures of everyone.

Showing off his brand new Puma Shoes 
(again thanks amazon deals)

His favorite color is red.  
He actually asked me why God didn't give him red eyes because he loves red so much.

One day I caught all the boys doing THIS.
Yes ladies, they will make stellar husbands one day.
Its diapered, dressed, and in the carseat.

M's drink and wet doll is just too.much.fun.

Watching the Fourth of July parade.  It was, for the first time I can EVER remember in my life, raining and chilly.

We've done some of this.  
The boys love my cooking so much that they LOVE to pick blackberries so long as I promise to make a cobbler.

E ate a lot and picked a few.

M faithfully picked a handful at a time and brought them to my bucket.

IHOP had a .57 cent pancake day.
Lets just say, we won't be going to the .58 cent pancake day next year.
Seriously some of the worst food I've ever eaten.  
BUT (the important thing is) the kids loved it.

After therapy dash to the store to stock up on more lunchmeat.
My kids eat so.very.much.food.
So.very.very.very.much. food.

D's favorite flower is a rose, so I bought him a dozen for his birthday.
He was so happy and couldn't believe I got him 12 instead of just one.

Eight months ago we landed back on U.S. soil with our newest three children.
With the exception of when I went to New Jersey with Mariah for her surgery, I've always told the kids goodnight before they go to sleep.  I give hugs, a kiss, and an "I love you and I'll see you in the morning when you wake up." 

Tonight as I was telling all of the kids goodnight and giving them hugs, D gave me a little peck on the cheek.  Its the first time he has EVER done that.  During hosting he would get in his bed, face the wall and pretend to be asleep as we tried to tell him goodnight.  Its was the most heartbreaking thing to see.
Now he is all "Mommy say goodnight one more!" but he had never given me kiss.

Happy Eight Months Home to us <3 p="">

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life; but those who make their journey home across time and 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