Tuesday, December 30, 2008

endings and beginnings

As 2008 comes to an end, so does our blog. Now that we are beginning our life as a family of 4, there is not much time to blog. In 2009, we're going to be focusing all our energy on Eli and Claire. We're trying to give Eli as much attention as we can, because we're still working on his attachment, which right now is not as strong as we would like for it to be. At times, he still pushes us away. We want him to feel safe and secure, and to really trust us. We love him so much.

This blog was meant for Eli, as a record for him of our adoption journey, so it has served its original purpose. When I can find a moment, I'm going to have it printed as a book for him to have and read when he is older.

I'll still be reading other blogs when I have a chance. Thanks so much to everyone who read this blog and shared their comments with us. The love and support meant so much to us, especially when we were in Moscow and again when Claire was born.

Best wishes to all for a very happy and healthy 2009!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

she's here

Claire Elizabeth

Born Sunday December 7 at 12:34am (by unplanned c-section)
8 lbs. 2 oz.
21" long
We thank the Lord for blessing us with such a healthy and beautiful baby.


(This photo was taken today, at 5 days old.)

Friday, December 5, 2008

less than 12 hours now

We're going to the hospital in less than 12 hours. My labor induction is scheduled for 6:30am. My mother picked up Eli at 4:30pm. He's only been gone for a few hours, but I already miss him terribly. It's too strange without him here. I won't see him again until Monday (when I come home from the hospital if I don't need a c-section). Since he spent the first 3 months of his life in a hospital, we decided that he wouldn't come to the hospital to visit me. He gets so upset around doctors and medical settings, and we don't want to cause him any additional trauma. R will see him Sunday afternoon, when he and my mother switch. He'll come home to rest and spend time with Eli, and my mother will come to the hospital to see us. (It's amazing to think that the baby will be here then!)

Please pray for Eli, and that this experience doesn't affect his attachment to me. I've been worried about that. For the last 2 weeks, he has had a strong preference for Daddy. If R is around, I don't exist. Intellectually, I understand attachment, but emotionally, it's SO hard. It's frustrating, because I want to snuggle him and hold him and kiss him, and he doesn't always want that from me at this point.

God has taken care of us all during this pregnancy. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers, as we welcome our precious daughter.

Monday, December 1, 2008

this weekend

I had my tests today. The baby is ok, but I still have not dilated, so they scheduled an induction for first thing Saturday morning. I will be past 41 weeks at that point. R and I are not thrilled about the induction, but we are relieved to know this pregnancy will be coming to an end soon and that she will be here with us soon.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

not yet

Still no baby yet. I'm 40 weeks now, and I went to the doctor this morning. I'm having contractions, but they're not regular, and I'm only the tiniest bit dilated. She has not completely dropped into position. The doctor thinks it will be another week or so. My due date is tomorrow, but it looks like she'll be making her appearance in December. On Monday, I'm having yet another ultrasound (my 4th) to check the amniotic fluid level and a non stress test to make sure she is ok to keep waiting for labor to start. (I requested that they not induce my labor unless the baby is in distress.)

Even though I'm exhausted and my feet are really swollen, I'm ok with waiting. I want her to come when she's ready. I know the timing is all in God's hands.

My sisters sent me a diaper cake today! It is very cute, and I really like it!

(The little pink elephant says "I love my mommy"!)

Tomorrow is Eli's 1st Thanksgiving. We are so thankful that he is here with us, and that we were given the opportunity to be his parents. He is such a blessing to us, and we love him so very much.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Christmas for orphans

This is something that we support, and I wanted to share in case anyone else was interested:
http://www.christmasfororphans.com/

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

almost time but not quite

I'm 39 weeks pregnant today. I went to the doctor this morning, and nothing is happening so far. The baby has dropped, but only a tiny bit. She's not in the birth position yet. I haven't dilated at all. So, it looks like we'll make it to our due date of Thanksgiving Day or even a little beyond. That would be great for us. It is much easier for R to take time off work after Thanksgiving than before, so even though we know the timing of her birth is completely in God's hands, we're hoping I can carry her for another week or so.

Please keep us in your prayers, especially the baby.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

some firsts

Eli's boo-boo has healed quite nicely. In only a week, it's almost gone. We were so pleased and relieved to see that his immune system is working so well, especially since it's still coping with the latent TB infection/INH medication.

He had some more firsts this week:

~ Sunday night, he had his first overnight stay. He spent the night with my mother. I was not ready to be apart from him overnight, but we had to try it before the baby is born, since my mother will be keeping him while I'm in the hospital. Even though he has stayed with my mother before during the day, I wanted to make sure he would feel comfortable overnight. He did amazingly well. She kept him on the same schedule that we follow at home, and when he came home the next day, he smiled when he saw me. He didn't get upset or melt down later that day or the next day, as he would have 3 or 4 months ago. I'm glad that he feels more secure.

R and I enjoyed our time together. We drove out of town and met my sister A. My last outing before the baby comes! We did a little Christmas shopping, and bought our first Santa Claus. Picking out presents for him and for the baby was so much fun. We had dinner together too. We had a great time, but it was strange to be out after dark! Even though we had a nice day, I missed Eli so much.

~ Today was Eli's first election. We took him with us when we went to vote this afternoon. His eyes were wide, taking it all in. He doesn't feel comfortable around people he doesn't know, and always cries, and today was no exception. R was about halfway through his ballot when Eli started crying. He stopped as soon as we left the building though. Even though he didn't understand what was going on, I'm glad that he still had the chance to see his parents cast their votes. It is exciting to think he is a citizen now, and will one day cast his own vote.

~ He can now point with his index fingers on each hand. He has been pointing with his whole hand, but now his fine motor coordination has developed enough that he can point with one finger!

I went to the doctor today. I'll be 37 weeks tomorrow. Getting close to the end now. Soon Eli will be a big brother! My uterus is still measuring a little large, which means I still have excess amniotic fluid. I'll be having yet another ultrasound next week (the 3rd). They want to measure how much fluid I have, as well as see her size and position. She has been extremely active today, with lots of movement. Please pray that she continues to be healthy as we wait for her arrival in a few weeks.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

owie

Eli had a full day today. R took care of him all day so that I could sleep. (He is a wonderful husband and father!) I'm 35 1/2 weeks pregnant now. I have huge swollen feet, and I'm exhausted all the time. Mobility and energy are very limited. When I was upstairs resting, I heard Eli laughing and laughing. It turns out he was playing soccer for the 1st time! They were kicking the ball around, and he thought it was wonderful. Eli had played ball before, but just rolling on the floor or throwing. He had never used his feet to move the ball before.

This afternoon, R took him outside, and they were kicking the ball around in the grass. Eli fell, and scraped his upper lip. He cried, but calmed down when R picked him up. He really loves his daddy. R carried him inside. He was no longer crying and was calm. R and I were a lot more traumatized than he was! We cleaned the blood off his little face, and gave him lots of hugs and love. We got the Boo Boo Bunny out of the fridge, but he only wanted that for very short time. He held it on his lip himself, and that was adorable. We gave him some Motrin for the pain, and then he was ready for his bath. I was glad that we were able to comfort him.

He is very bonded to his daddy right now. Because of the pregnancy, I'm not able to do as much with Eli as I wanted, like getting down on the floor to play or running around outside. Every day, R takes care of him in the late afternoons and early evenings. They go for a stroll around the neighborhood, run around the backyard, sit on the floor and build towers with blocks, and R gives him his bath every night. They have fun together, and Eli loves being with his father. It's amazing how God's plan unfolds. If I had not been pregnant, R and Eli would not have had as much time together alone, and their bond would not be as strong as it is now. It makes me happy to see how close they are. Eli completely trusts his daddy to take care of him.

Eli is teething right now too. He has 2 teeth coming in on the bottom, one on each side. I know it has hurt, but it hasn't slowed him down much. We keep offering him the teething ring from the freezer, but he'll only use it for a minute or two. He doesn't like the teething biscuits at all. He does like the baby toothbrush, and will chew on that. He has been trying to say "teeth" for the last few days. It comes out "tee" but we know what he means!


Ouch! You can see the scrape above his lip. My poor baby!


His adorable Halloween pajamas! His left hand is blurry because he's waving at Mommy!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

6 months home

6 months ago today we came home with our beloved Eli!

He had his 1st late night tonight. Since we've been home, we haven't been anywhere at night, especially since he normally goes to bed around 7:00 or 7:15pm. We had an appointment at 8:10pm to have our picture made for the directory at church. It was the earliest appointment we could get. He did really well, considering how sleepy he was. The only time he cried was when the photographer suggested that he sit on a table instead of on my lap. He wanted one of us to hold him the entire time, which is a positive sign of attachment. The pictures turned out pretty well, and were our 1st formal photos as a family, which was a nice way to celebrate being home from Russia for 6 months.

Eli was so cute riding in the car. He looked at all the lights while he sucked his thumb. As soon as we got home, we put his pajamas on and put him in his crib. He was asleep immediately! It was almost 9:00pm, so I hope he sleeps well and doesn't feel tired tomorrow.


leaving the orphanage in Kolomna on April 15, 2008


6 months later, a much happier baby!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

the word of the week

We finally have a word! Eli has said "mama" and "dada" and "hey" but now we have our 1st real word. For the last 3 days, he has been saying "up" when he wants to picked up! He had said "up" before, but not consistently and not in the right context. Now he'll say it when he wants us to put him on the couch so he can look out the large picture window in our living room. It is so cute! We are giving him lots of positive reinforcement when he says it, to keep encouraging him to talk more. When we were doing our home study, our social worker warned us that it might take him longer to talk because I would be meeting his every need, and he would have no reason to talk. I think that has happened to a certain extent. He communicates so much to me without having to talk. I'm looking forward to when he does talk though, and can share more of his thoughts and feelings with us.

Today he had his 30th dose of INH (the medication he is taking for his latent TB infection). Only 48 more doses to go! All things considered, he is tolerating it well, but it does cause his appetite to be less than it normally would be. We were worried that he had lost weight, but when we weighed him, he was the same, thank goodness. I'll be so glad when he doesn't have to take this medication any longer.

Every night, before I go to bed, I go in and check on him. He always looks so beautiful. I stroke his hair and rub his back a little. Seeing him lying there in his crib, with Mr. Snuggly, sleeping so peacefully, it's hard to believe that he was ever in a Russian orphanage. He is our precious miracle, and we love him so very much.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

6 random facts about me

I've been tagged by Kar! So now I have to pass along 6 random facts about myself. This is harder than it looks!

1. R and I got married on the 19th anniversary of our 1st date. It was definitely God's plan for us to be together, but it took us a few years to understand that and work out the details!

2. I love being a SAHM! I never knew I would enjoy it so much. I love spending time with my son.

3. I once met Lyle Lovett! Many years ago, I was working as a front desk clerk at the Holiday Inn in Athens, GA. He was in town to play a show, and was staying at the hotel. I only had the chance to talk to him briefly, but he was very nice.

4. I have a severe allergy to tree nuts. If I eat one, I have an anaphylatic reaction, and I've ended up in hospital ERs twice. I don't really enjoy going to restaurants, because I have to be so careful about what I'm eating.

5. I don't like to watch a movie unless I know it has a happy ending. My family has really teased me about this one!

6. The biggest fact (in more ways than one!) about me right now is that I'm pregnant at age 43. This is my 1st time ever to be pregnant, so it was quite an unexpected surprise and a little bit of a shock! Both of my children are miracles.

Now it's my turn to tag:
Sinziana
Carrie
Heather
Emily
Rob and Dede
Dana

If I tag you, here are the rules!!!
1. Link to the person that tagged you.
2. Post the rules on the blog.
3. Write six random facts about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post.
5. Let each person know they have been tagged.
6. Let the taggers know when your entry is up.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

16 months old

Eli is 16 months old today! It's hard to believe he's that old already. The time has just flown by. I went to the doctor today, and there was a woman there with a 7 week old baby boy. Every time I see a baby boy, I think about Eli at that age, and the fact that we weren't together. I wish that Eli could have been with us when he was that young. I wish we could have loved and held him every single day since he was born.

Attachment is going very well. He has been home 5 1/2 months now, and in the last 2 weeks, we've really noticed a change. He and I have built a relationship. We have gotten to know each other, and have a genuine bond now. He'll put his head on my chest and snuggle against me. When I carry him, he'll hold on to my arm. He'll cry and put his arms out for me, wanting me (and not just anyone) to hold him. Because it didn't happen instantly, I think it means more to me. It is so special.

He was so traumatized when we first brought him home, so afraid and unsure. Now his real personality has emerged, and he is an absolutely amazing boy, a true delight and joy. He is loving, gentle, mellow, smart, and overall, happy. He smiles and laughs often, and has a great sense of humor. Considering what he has been through - 3 months in the hospital and almost 8 months in the orphanage - there is no reason for him to be any of those things. God was with him, and now we feel so blessed to be his parents.

I had a 2nd ultrasound today. The doctor was concerned that the baby might be big, because my uterus measured larger than it should have. Turns out she is fine. They estimate she weighs 3 lbs 12 oz, which is 45th percentile for her weight for this stage of pregnancy. (I'm 32 weeks now.) The reason my uterus was larger is because I have more amniotic fluid. I'm still in the normal range, but at the upper end. (21, and anything over 25 is a problem). It happens when there is gestational diabetes, but I don't have that, so they're not sure what the cause is. Since I'm 43, it could just be my age. The extra fluid explains why I felt so huge for the last few weeks, and also the swelling in my feet and ankles.

My blood pressure was still low, 102/60. Otherwise, the baby is healthy, and the doctors think we're doing fine, thank God.

Most of today's ultrasound was done in the regular 2D, but the tech did a short 3D segment at the end of our session, and we got some fabulous pictures of our daughter's face:





She is so beautiful, and the Lord has blessed us beyond belief.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

thanks, sbp

This is my 150th post! Amazing! Eli spent the day with his grandmama, and had a wonderful time playing outside and getting muddy. R and I actually went to the movies. We saw Fireproof, and it was awesome! We highly recommend it. We completely enjoyed it, especially since we hadn't been to the theater in several years. We even splurged and got popcorn, sodas, and raisinets, which we never do, and that was fun. The baby was very active during the movie. The sound was loud, and I think she was responding to that. After the movie was over, we had an early dinner of Greek food. Yummy! We had a nice Saturday.

And thanks for the card, secret blog pal! :)

Friday, September 19, 2008

post placement report #1

We had our visit with our social worker this morning. She reminded me that it had been almost a year since she came to our house for the first visit for our home study. Our lives have completely changed in a year's time!

She thought Eli was just adorable and beautiful (which he is), and she also thought he looked healthy. Normally Eli doesn't like strangers, but he didn't cry today when our s.w. talked to him. She asked her secretary to come in and see how cute he is, as well as the 2 women who work in the office next door and a man who works in an office down the hall! The proud parents didn't mind showing off our beautiful and amazing son at all either, especially since he wasn't upset by the attention as he usually is.

We were only in her office for 20 minutes. We gave her the labeled pictures, and a check for $500. That was not fun. After all the money we've already spent on his adoption, I would much rather have been able to spend that $500 on things for Eli to enjoy, and not on MORE paperwork! She gave us the information on how to file the paperwork for the domestication of foreign adoption, so we can obtain a birth certificate for him in English. She told us where to get the forms and how to file them ourselves with the family court. That will save us some $$$. She also gave us the name of a lawyer, who is familiar with the process, but I think we're going to try to do it ourselves first. She also reminded us that we need to get his social security number.

She was surprised by my pregnancy, but gave us lots of congratulations. She said the same thing had happened recently to another one of her clients. She said I looked great, which made me feel good because I've been feeling huge lately!

It feels good to have that first post placement report done and out of the way. It didn't take as much time as I expected.

Here are some of the photos from our report. He smiles so much more than he did 6 months ago.




Friday, September 5, 2008

visits to the doctor for everyone

Eli had his 15 month checkup on Tuesday. He received the Hib and the DTaP shots, and now he is caught up with his immunizations. I am so thankful that he won't need more shots for a while. It is so scary for him. He spent the 1st 3 months of his life in the hospital before he was transferred to the orphanage, and we wonder if going to the doctor reminds him of that time. He always gets so upset. He cried and cried, and didn't stop until we were almost back home.

He is doing well. He is 24.5 lbs and 32" tall. He has grown 2"! He is still around the 50% percentile for height and weight, which is fine.

Then the next day, I had my checkup. I'm 28 weeks now. The baby's heartbeat was strong and regular, and the uterus was the right size, so she's growing. She is very active now, especially at the end of the day. I am so thankful she seems healthy.

It has been challenging for me. My feet and ankles are very swollen, and I'm exhausted all the time. If the timing had been up to me, I would have chosen to be pregnant after Eli had been home for at least a year. Being pregnant for the 1st time and not feeling well physically at the same time as bringing him home and adjusting to being a new mom has been the hardest thing I have ever done. When we started our adoption process, I had a different vision of our 1st months at home. The only thing that has gotten me through is the knowledge that this is God's plan, and I trust that He knows what is ultimately best for us. Right now, I don't know why this was His plan, but someday I will fully understand why things happened this way.

Then R goes to the doctor next week, and hopefully, his checkup will go well too.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

15 months old

Our Eli is 15 months old today!

This past Thursday (Aug. 28) was R's birthday, his first as a father. Since he had to work, we just had a nice celebration at home. It also marked 1 year since Eli entered the orphanage in Kolomna. We hate that he had to spend 8 months there before we were able to bring him home. We are so thankful to God that he is no longer there, and that he is safely home with us.

We have been home for 4 months now (as of Aug. 22), and he continues to adjust. Some of my favorite moments are when he laughs (he has an amazing laugh) and when he puts his head on my chest for a snuggle. He'll only do that for a few seconds at a time, but he is initiating it, and that is so huge. We love our precious boy so much!


He's been walking for 6 weeks now. His balance is much better.


Love that smile!


Playing with Daddy


The Karen Katz books (with the flaps to lift) are his favorites right now.


This flag that was flown over the capitol the day we came home from Russia and he became a citizen, April 22. (I'm so glad that I requested it from our congressman's office.) We ordered the case, and I love how it turned out. We put it in his room, and it looks so good.



He has started using a spoon to feed himself, which is right on target for his age. And notice, he's using his left hand. Our son is left-handed!




1st taste of chocolate cake!
We were celebrating my sister Allison's birthday. He seemed to like it ok, but wasn't crazy about it.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

slavic gospel association

Normally, I don't post anything political to this blog, but in this case, I decided to make an exception. This evening, I received an email from the Slavic Gospel Association regarding the conflict in S. Ossetia.

(We have been supporting SGA for the last year. I was originally drawn to them because of the work they do in orphanages. We wanted to do something to help the children who would be remaining in Russia and who would not have a family. )

Here is more information on the SGA's aid efforts in the region if you are interested.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

attachment progress

This afternoon, we had a family trip to Walmart. Eli was riding in the cart, and R was pushing. Eli enjoys the cart as long as you keep moving at all times and don't stop to look at anything! We tried to keep the trip brief, but by the time we were almost finished shopping, Eli was definitely ready to go. He started fussing, and then crying.

The best part was that he wanted me to take him out of the cart and hold him. He reached for me! I took him out of the cart and held him, and he actually stopped crying! He let me console him! I was so happy! It just made my day to know that he is starting to feel comfortable enough that I can be source of comfort to him. YAY!!!

Monday, August 11, 2008

6 months

6 months ago, on Feb. 11, 2008, we met our beloved Eli for the 1st time. It was cold in Moscow. Anton drove us to the MOE, and we received our referral. When we realized that Eli was born on our wedding anniversary, we knew before we even saw him that it was God's plan for him to become our son. We are so blessed to have him in our lives, and we love him so very much.

This is the 1st picture taken of the 2 of us together.

Friday, August 8, 2008

today's accomplishment

Eli used a spoon to feed himself today. He also held the sippy cup for the 1st time! We had tried several different cups, but he seems to like the Nuby cup the best.

Tomorrow he'll have a fun play day at Grandmama's house, and Mommy and Daddy are going to take some time for each other and go out to lunch together.


Monday, July 28, 2008

today's challenge

Today's challenge is definitely diaper changes. When we were in Moscow, it was extremely difficult to change Eli's diaper. He kicked his legs over and over, often while rolling from side to side. After we brought him home, things improved, but now it seems we are back to square one. He has started kicking again and moving a lot, but it's harder now, because his leg muscles are so strong. I try to hold his legs with one hand and diaper with the other, but he is just so strong now. We have tried saying things like "be still" or "lie still" in a soft voice, but that doesn't help at all. I stand back far enough that he doesn't kick my belly and his baby sister, but as I get bigger, that is getting more difficult! He seems to respond best when the behavior is ignored completely, but sometimes that is difficult to do. It is very frustrating! And since he is only 14 months, potty training is a long way off!

I went to the doctor this morning for the monthly checkup. I heard the baby's heartbeat, and it was very strong and regular. I am almost 23 weeks now, and other than feeling exhausted all the time, everything is going very well. Little baby girl F seems to be doing great.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

3 months home

July has been a very busy month for Eli. He's been home for 3 months now.

On July 4, he celebrated his 1st Independence Day as an American citizen.



Developmentally, he has made such great progress. He can feed himself, and he has just started drinking his afternoon juice from a sippy cup. He can stack blocks now.



My sister visited today, and he had such a great time with her!


He can walk now! He took his first unassisted steps on July 17, and we are such proud and happy parents.


video

Today he walked on the grass in his bare feet for the first time! Considering he was afraid of touching or sitting in the grass when he first came home, this was a huge moment.

Attachment is coming along. When he is held, he will rest his head against my chest or R's chest and snuggle in for a few seconds now. He will also sit in my lap for brief periods. When he is playing, he will stop and make eye contact. If I'm sitting on the couch, he'll come over and hug my legs. He is able to receive and show more affection than he was 3 months ago. We love him so much, and want him to feel secure.

When I can make him laugh, it is the best thing in the whole world. He has the most adorable baby laugh, and it just melts my heart.




Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Monday, June 30, 2008

ultrasound

Well, I had my ultrasound this morning. IT'S A GIRL! I'm thrilled beyond belief! I was hoping for a little girl. So now Eli will have a baby sister. Before this pregnancy, we had talked about a 2nd adoption and about going back to Russia. If things had worked out that way, it would have been difficult to have adopted a little girl. God's plan is perfect. Now we have a wonderful, amazing son and a daughter on the way, and our famiy is complete. We are happy and totally blessed.

After I got home from the doctor, my mom and I took Eli to the health department, and he received his 1st dose of TB medication. He was a little tired this afternoon, but otherwise, he didn't seem to have any side effects. We're hoping it stays that way. He has his next dose on Thursday.

Now we have to start thinking of names!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

vacation

We had a great time on our vacation. Eli wasn't crazy about the ocean, but he did enjoy playing in the sand. He loved playing in the pool. He splashed and splashed, and was so adorable! There were 14 people in the house, and he did so well. He loved the attention. We were worried about him being overstimulated, but he didn't have any meltdowns or difficulty. So much has changed in 2 months.



One of the highlights of the week was a visit from Ryan and Stephanie. We had a Kolomna baby reunion! Ryan and Eli were in the same orphanage at the same time. It was wonderful to finally meet them in person, and be able to spend some time with them. We had a great afternoon!



Friday, June 20, 2008

1st family vacation

We leave tomorrow morning for our 1st vacation as a family! We're going to the beach for a whole glorious, sunny, relaxing week. Taking a trip together as a family is a dream come true, and we feel God has truly blessed us.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Monday, June 16, 2008

good news

The health department called this afternoon, and Eli's chest x-rays were clear. No sign of active TB disease, and we thank the Lord for that. He'll start taking his medication on June 30, after we return from our family beach vacation. He has to take 300mg of liquid INH, 78 doses, 1 every Monday and Thursday.

He had a really good day today. We dropped his morning nap. He played until 11:00am, and then I knew he was really sleepy. He lay on the floor with his thumb in his mouth. Too adorable! I picked him up, and for the 1st time since our visits in the orphanage, he fell asleep in my arms! I was so thrilled. He slept in my arms for 30 minutes. Another step forward in our attachment.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

happy father's day

Today was R's 1st father's day! He is a wonderful father. Before Eli, he hadn't spent much time at all around babies and didn't know anything about them. He had never changed a diaper. Now, he takes such great care of Eli. He is very loving and gentle and patient, and I am so proud of him.

Another first. We took Eli to church for the 1st time. It felt so good to be back. I had really missed going. His Aunt Gracie stayed in the nursery with him. I was glad she could sit in there with him. He did so well, even when another toddler hit him over a toy. I felt so very protective when I found that out. Don't hit my sweet baby! He's been through enough already!

Tomorrow we should find out the results of his chest x-ray and when he's supposed to start his TB medication. We'll spend the rest of the week getting ready for our first family vacation! We're going to the beach next week with my family, including my aunt, uncle, cousins, mom, sisters, brother-in-law, and nephew. I'm very excited!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

1st visit to the doctor, part 2

Yesterday, we took Eli back to the doctor to have his PPD test (for TB) read. His test was positive. He will have a chest x-ray on Wed. We're expecting the chest x-ray to be clear, because he has no signs of active TB disease. He has latent TB infection, which means he was exposed in Russia to someone who had active TB, and now he carries the germ in his body. He is not contagious or sick right now, but there is a risk that he could develop active TB at any point in the future.

We had to go straight from our doctor to the health department. The nurse we will be working with is so great. I like her a lot. She was very friendly, and did a great job of explaining everything. She measured his induration (skin bump) and it was 15mm. A positive test is 10mm. Soon, they will put him on medication (isoniazid or INH), which he will take 2x/week for 9 months. That's a long time. Someone from the health department will come to the house and give the medication to him. It is helpful that they will come to us and that I don't have to worry about taking him to the health dept. 2x/week, especially later this year when the new baby comes. We definitely want him to have the treatment, because we don't want him to ever have full-blown TB, but we hate that he has to take it, because the side effects could make him feel bad, and he's been so happy lately.

If he had stayed in Russia, he would not have received treatment, and he would have been very sick at some point in his life. I am so thankful to God that he is with us, where he can receive treatment and have a healthy life.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

1st visit to the doctor

Eli had his first visit to the doctor this morning, and he received a good report! He is 22 lbs 9 ozs, and he has gained 2.5 lbs in the 6 weeks we have been home! He is 30" long. On the growth chart, he's around the 50th percentile. The doctor felt everything looked good, and I'm so relieved! He had a TB test today, and we'll know the results on Friday, but his arm looks fine so far.

He also had 4 shots today - Hib, PPV, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), and Chickenpox. It was so hard to watch. When he started crying, I almost started crying! He did very well though, and recovered quickly. Then we had to go to the hospital to have blood drawn. He didn't cry until they stuck his finger, and then again, I wanted to cry too, but again, he recovered quickly. I was so glad my mom was there with me!

After we got home, he had lunch and I put him down for a nap. After he woke up, he felt a little feverish and was very fussy. I gave him some infant motrin, and he perked up pretty quickly. He played for the rest of the afternoon and was completely adorable!

Friday, May 30, 2008

a special day

Today is Eli's 1st birthday and also our 5th wedding anniversary! A very happy and special day, and we're so grateful to God that we're able to celebrate all together.

Happy Birthday, Eli!
Mommy & Daddy love you very much!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

1 month home

We've been home a month now. Hard to believe. It feels like a lot longer. This past Thursday, Eli had his first visit to Grandmama's house! He did so well during the 20 minute car ride. Once we were there, he played, ate his snack, and had a wonderful time. After we got home, he was very fussy though, and he was whiny and clingy all day yesterday. The pattern seems to be that he does fine during the outing, but after, he is upset. This seems to be how he deals with stress. We were encouraged, because he did not melt down like he would have a month ago.

We'll be spending a quiet Memorial Day weekend at home.

His 1st birthday is Friday, and he got his first birthday presents in the mail! My aunt and uncle sent a cute pair of pajamas (which he needed), 2 adorable rompers, and a book. (Thanks N & J!!!) It's hard to believe he's going to be one. I still think of him as being a baby!


Feeding himself!



1st time to see a ceiling fan, and he was just fascinated by it!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

first feeding

We had an exciting first today - Eli actually fed himself for the first time! I put the rice cookie on the tray of his highchair, and just out of the blue, he picked it up and put it in his mouth. I couldn't believe it! For the last month, I have been trying to put food in his hand and guide his hand to his mouth without success. It will be fun giving him more finger foods now.

Some pictures from yesterday. He is just so cute!!! (It's harder to get pictures now, because as soon as he sees the camera, he crawls toward it and tries to grab it!)




Sunday, May 11, 2008

happy mother's day

My first Mother's Day has been very nice. R took care of Eli this morning, and I got to sleep in for the first time since before we went to Moscow for our 3rd trip. It was very luxurious! He is so good with Eli; he is a wonderful father. He also gave me a charm for my bracelet - little booties! So adorable!

Hope everyone has had a lovely Mother's Day!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

no more shopping for a while

Eli had his first trip to a store today! R and I took him on a quick trip to the K-Mart this afternoon. We chose that store because it's close to the house, and we knew it wouldn't be crowded on a Tuesday afternoon. We had a few things we needed to get, and I was feeling very stir crazy, because except for going to the doctor, I have not been anywhere in several weeks. The drive was only 10 minutes. He rode just fine. He always does so well in the car, just looking out the windows and taking everything in.

He rode in the shopping cart for the first time. I should have taken a camera. He was just so adorable! R pushed the cart, and we tried to hurry. He only liked the cart when it was moving, and he did reach out and try to touch things if they were close. After about 20 minutes, we were almost finished, and we could tell he was reaching his limit. He was starting to rock his head back and forth, so we decided to go ahead and check out.

The car was hot from sitting in the sun in the parking lot, and he did not like that at all. We turned the AC on immediately. He's not used to this humid southern weather, and it's not even that hot here yet. We wonder how long it will take for his little body to adapt to the climate.

When we got home, I fixed his dinner right away. R started feeding him, and he started melting down. I took over, and he ate a little for me, but then just had a full blown meltdown in the highchair. I took him out of the highchair and sat him in my lap. He stopped crying, and then I was able to feed him while holding him, as if he were a much younger baby. He finished his dinner with no more tears. I was so happy that I figured out what to do that actually worked!

He was agitated for the rest of the evening, until we put him to bed. He calmed down long enough for R to rock him and give him a bottle, but as soon as the bottle was empty, he started fussing again.

So, we tried an outing, but it seemed to be too much for him, so we'll wait a while before we take him out again. Slow steps.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

a sibling for Eli

I’m pregnant.

11 1/2 weeks. Totally unexpected, a complete surprise and shock. I am 43 years old, and this is my first pregnancy. I would not have believed it was possible. The only way to explain it is that it is part of God’s plan for our family. We had talked about a 2nd child, a sibling for Eli, but we thought we would be adopting again in a few years. Now we will have 2 children, both in diapers, before the end of the year!

It is a blessing from God, but for the last month, it has also been a challenge. I have had morning sickness (I don’t know why they call it that when it’s 24/7) and have just been exhausted. Our 3rd trip to Russia was very hard, because I felt so ill while we were there. Right now, all the energy I have goes to Eli, to taking care of him and being there for him. It was not how I had pictured our first weeks together as a family. My mom and sisters have been very supportive, and have helped me so much! I’m so grateful to have them close by.

The last 3 days, Eli has been happier. R and I talked about his attachment issues, and we agreed he needs as much love as we can give him, and that we also need to be as calm as possible. The screaming/crying meltdowns are reduced. Now he is whining instead, which is much better! He is communicating with us verbally. I am giving him even more affection, especially when he is upset, and he is accepting it. I have been giving him lots of kisses on the forehead and cheeks, and he seems to like that, as well as patting his back, holding him, and rocking him more. He has started holding his arms up for me to pick him up, so that is an improvement. He has smiled and laughed more, so I’m hoping he’s starting to feel more comfortable, both with us and here in his home. In the last few days, I’ve really felt that the bond between us is deepening.

We will really be focusing on his attachment for the rest of this year. We’re worried about his reaction to the new baby, and we definitely don’t want it to affect his bond with us.

He continues to eat well, and looks like he has gained a little weight. I made mashed potatoes for him yesterday, and he loved those! He also had a Yo Baby yogurt for the 1st time, and loved that as well. I’m so thankful that he is not a picky eater.

He is very active and is more comfortable crawling and exploring the house. R moved the baby gate in the kitchen, so now the dining room and living room are completely enclosed as one baby safe unit! He is still pulling up on all the furniture, and he’ll take a few steps while hanging on to the couch, but no real walking yet.

So far, everything seems to be ok. I go back to the doctor on the 12th. Please pray for us, for the strength and energy to give Eli everything that he needs right now, and for the health of this new baby.



a sibling for Eli

I’m pregnant.

11 1/2 weeks. Totally unexpected, a complete surprise and shock. I am 43 years old, and this is my first pregnancy. I would not have believed it was possible. The only way to explain it is that it is part of God’s plan for our family. We had talked about a 2nd child, a sibling for Eli, but we thought we would be adopting again in a few years. Now we will have 2 children, both in diapers, before the end of the year!

It is a blessing from God, but for the last month, it has also been a challenge. I have had morning sickness (I don’t know why they call it that when it’s 24/7) and have just been exhausted. Our 3rd trip to Russia was very hard, because I felt so ill while we were there. Right now, all the energy I have goes to Eli, to taking care of him and being there for him. It was not how I had pictured our first weeks together as a family. My mom and sisters have been very supportive, and have helped me so much! I’m so grateful to have them close by.

The last 3 days, Eli has been happier. R and I talked about his attachment issues, and we agreed he needs as much love as we can give him, and that we also need to be as calm as possible. The screaming/crying meltdowns are reduced. Now he is whining instead, which is much better! He is communicating with us verbally. I am giving him even more affection, especially when he is upset, and he is accepting it. I have been giving him lots of kisses on the forehead and cheeks, and he seems to like that, as well as patting his back, holding him, and rocking him more. He has started holding his arms up for me to pick him up, so that is an improvement. He has smiled and laughed more, so I’m hoping he’s starting to feel more comfortable, both with us and here in his home. In the last few days, I’ve really felt that the bond between us is deepening.

We will really be focusing on his attachment for the rest of this year. We’re worried about his reaction to the new baby, and we definitely don’t want it to affect his bond with us.

He continues to eat well, and looks like he has gained a little weight. I made mashed potatoes for him yesterday, and he loved those! He also had a Yo Baby yogurt for the 1st time, and loved that as well. I’m so thankful that he is not a picky eater.

He is very active and is more comfortable crawling and exploring the house. R moved the baby gate in the kitchen, so now the dining room and living room are completely enclosed as one baby safe unit! He is still pulling up on all the furniture, and he’ll take a few steps while hanging on to the couch, but no real walking yet.

So far, everything seems to be ok. I go back to the doctor on the 12th. Please pray for us, for the strength and energy to give Eli everything that he needs right now, and for the health of this new baby.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

1st week at home

It has taken several days to write this post! As those of you with little ones know, there is just NO free time right now! We’ve been home with Eli for a little more than a week, and we are all adjusting to being a family. Our sweet baby is 11 months old now!

He is sleeping through the night. R takes him upstairs, rocks him for a few minutes, and then puts him in his crib around 7:00pm. If he cries, it’s only very briefly, and then he’s asleep within 10 minutes. Even though he is taking a morning and an afternoon nap, he gets so tired that he is very to go to sleep when bedtime comes. He sleeps until around 7:00am.

He is not a picky eater. So far, he has not refused anything we have given him! He has been eating stage 2 baby food, and we have just started introducing table foods, now that he is chewing. He gets excited when we feed him. He smiles and bangs on the tray of his highchair, and he’ll cry if we’re not feeding him fast enough! He is not able to feed himself at all at this point. He can’t pick up the food and bring his hand to his mouth. His fine motor coordination is definitely behind. He just doesn’t have much control over his hands yet. He can pick up toys, and he’ll pick up food sometimes, but then he’ll sling it to the side. So for now, we feed him as if he were a much younger baby. It does give us a chance to work on eye contact, and it’s good for attachment. We’re also giving him bottles (Enfamil Lipil), 3 per day. He definitely needed the extra vitamins. We will probably switch him to toddler formula next month, after his 1st birthday.

We are working on attachment. He will initiate eye contact. Sometimes when he’s crawling or playing on the floor, he’ll stop and turn to look at me. He will even make eye contact sometimes when he is eating, and that is a huge improvement. When I carry him, sometimes he’ll hold on now. Unless he’s really upset, he will snuggle against us when we hold him.

Our biggest challenge so far has been his periods of intense behavior/meltdowns. When he reaches his limit, he screams, kicks, waves his arms, shakes his head very fast (like he’s saying no), and/or flails. If we try to hold him, he arches his back and flings himself backwards. At first, we thought this was overstimulation. Last night I did some reading on www.a4everfamily.org, and I realized that it’s not just overstimulation. We are dealing with attachment issues. At times, he feels anxious and doesn’t trust us yet, which makes sense.

When he reaches this point, it is very hard to console him. That has been frustrating to me as a new mother, and as his mother. I want to DO something that will help him to feel better. Sometimes holding him and walking around helps. Sometimes music helps. But often, nothing helps other than putting him down for a nap or to bed a little early, and then he’s so exhausted, he falls asleep right away. We are doing everything we can to stay in a routine, so he feels secure, and to stay calm, so he can be relaxed. So far, we have only been at home. We haven’t taken him out in public (no church, stores, or restaurants). We’re going to continue to actively work on attachment - staying at home, staying close to him, feeding him, giving him bottles, rocking him, eye contact, holding him lots - so that he can feel secure and accept our love.

He LOVES music. When we turn music on, he’ll stop what he’s doing and turn his head! Listening to music will usually calm and relax him. He likes classical, especially Beethoven, Joshua Bell, and the 3 Tenors. He did not respond to Yo Yo Ma or Mozart. He also likes children’s music, especially Raffi, and christian radio. We’ve already talked about how he might need music lessons down the road if this interest continues!

He also loves to ride in the stroller. It is the most adorable thing to see! He puts his thumb in his mouth, and just looks at everything with a very serious expression on his face. I think the movement is calming.

I still look at him in amazement. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that he’s really here with us! God has truly blessed us.

Here are some photos from our 1st week at home:




Wednesday, April 23, 2008

HOME

After a long, difficult, and exhausting day yesterday, we made it home.

Today was our first day together as a family, and even though we are all still very tired, it was wonderful! We are all so happy, even Eli. Eli was calm and relaxed; he was able to sleep, and he smiled and laughed.

We are so thankful to God, and give him all praise and glory for uniting us with our beautiful, wonderful son.

Monday, April 21, 2008

moscow - trip 3 - day 10

Our last day in Moscow! We are both so excited about finally going home! Overall, I think Eli had a better day today. He was very cranky when he woke up this morning. I woke up to him banging on the side of the crib, and he was fussy. He fell asleep for his morning nap early, a little before 9:00am. He slept for 1 1/2 hours, and after, he felt much better. He was smiling and laughing. He has actually started playing with some of the toys. He is holding them, looking at them, and using his hands to explore them a little, instead of just throwing them across the room.

He slept for 1 1/2 hours this afternoon too. After his nap, when he started getting cranky, we turned on the music again, and it was amazing. He turned around to look, and then relaxed immediately. R and I took turns holding him, and he was sweet and snuggly. He made good eye contact today, even once or twice when he was eating dinner. He did much better today with his bottles. He drank 3 4oz. bottles of formula and 1 4 oz bottle of diluted juice, and he was able to drink them in one sitting, instead of stopping and starting several times. He is figuring out how to suck on the nipple now. So, R and I can see the changes in him in just a week's time. It will be amazing to see how much better things will be for all of us once we are finally HOME.

We have enough SkyMiles now to request an upgrade on tomorrow's flight, so we will be asking/begging at check-in. The flight isn't full, so we feel we have a chance! We're afraid to get our hopes up, but it would make all the difference in our comfort on the long trip home.

We are almost packed, and Anton and Katia are picking us up tomorrow morning at 8:30. Please pray that we have a safe, smooth trip and that Eli has an easy time and isn't too stressed by all the stimulation.

Our next post will be from HOME, and our sweet Eli will be a U.S. citizen! Praise God!



He is the cutest!!!