Family of Five!

Family of Five!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

So many changes!

Didn't realize that it has been so long since an update so I will make this extra long! Time has gone by so fast and life has been very busy. Since our last post, Eryna has started school and made her way to full days, we celebrated her first Thanksgiving, Eryna had her cast removed, went to Disney and Sea World for a day, I went back to work, Eryna performed in her first school Christmas show, we decorated our house for Christmas, and now everyone is home for 2 weeks to enjoy a break before life gets going again!
Now to expand on each event...
Eryna has been attending Redondo Elementary, the school I have taught at for the past 4 years, in a second grade inclusion class. She has two teachers and there is a paraprofessional in the classroom as well, though he is a one-on-one for a student with spina bifida. All three adults are amazing and have taken Eryna in as one of their own. They have been patient and understanding to her needs. We couldn't have asked for better teachers. The students in her classroom have been great as well. When I first went back to work, I ate lunch with their class everyday until I was told that I can't (no parents are allowed in the lunch room, I tend to forget I am a parent when it comes to work!) I really enjoyed that time each day bonding with her and the other kids in the class. They would always tell me all about her day and ask many questions about her life. I miss those peaceful 20minutes at work. Last Thursday we had a school wide Christmas show. She did so good. You would have never known that she just learned and is still learning English. I have videos of it, I will try to post them as well. She is very behind the other kids in learning but that is expected. We are mainly concerned about her learning English and making friends.

We celebrated Thanksgiving at Shawn and Amy's house. Eryna loved all the food options and that she could eat as much as she wanted! Its amazing that she never stops eating though she has lost weight since being here. I think its because she is more active and she eats a lot of fruit. The orphanage fed them a lot of bread and you can tell because Eryna barely ever wants to eat bread anymore!! She prefers vegetables, meats, and her favorite of all is fruit! Of course she would eat candy all day if we let her but she has come along way with accepting that candy is only for special occasions.

Right after Thanksgiving, we headed up to Orlando for our first family vacation which was our Christmas gifts to each other. We went to Sea World first and had a wonderful time. Eryna loved all the sea animals and even went on her first roller coaster. Poor thing, we took her on the biggest and baddest one out there, The Manta! Shawn took her and he said that she cried and screamed the whole time and when it ended, she told him "Beautiful Daddy"! We asked if she wanted to go on it again and she said no! The shows were amazing and all the decorations up for Christmas were beautiful. She had a smile on her face the whole time and the boys were just as excited. Ethan had a little tantrum because he didn't understand why Eryna could go on the roller coaster and he couldn't. I felt bad for him because he wanted to go so bad but Disney World made up for it the next day because he was finally tall enough for Space Mountain.

That night, the Davidson's, our good friends from Homestead, came up so they could join us at Disney World. I am so glad they did because we had a wonderful time and we needed their help. Poor Eryna was so tired and overwhelmed by all the excitement at Disney. She had a very tough day and didn't get to enjoy the second half of the day but it still was a great experience. The morning was nice and all the kids got to ride a good handful of rides. As the day went on and the park got a little more packed and Eryna got more and more overwhelmed. She did take a nap and after that, the day went a little better. I think Disney was too much too soon. Let's just say I needed a vacation after that day! The next day we took it easy and just hung out by the pool at the hotel. That was my favorite day! I was happy though to take our princess to visit her castle for the first time and to take our completed family picture!

That next Monday, I went back to work. I never thought going back to work and having 3 kids would be so exhausting! I feel like I am shorting my kids in so many ways. I have less patience, my house is a mess, dinners aren't as well prepared and healthy, and the list goes on and on. I pray so hard that I can find a happy medium in all this and I know I will figure out a system soon. I am so thankful for Shawn. He amazes me everyday. God couldn't have customized a better husband for me than Shawn. We work so well together and pick up each others slack exactly when needed. He knows when I have had "one of those days" and completely takes over. I am so blessed knowing that I get to spend the rest of my life with this man. Right now he has the kids outside playing and is pressure cleaning the back porch so I can have a quiet house to write this and so we have a clean porch for our Christmas dinner!!
Eryna has loved all the Christmas festivities. She sat on Santa's lap, had a little talk with him, and refers to him as the guy who gives candy! She is the first one to remind us each night to turn on the lights outside. We had a wonderful time decorating our tree and we are making cookies later today!
A lot of you ask how the boys are doing. Ethan and Logan are doing great. Logan is still a little stinker but is getting better. He plays best with Eryna when its just the two of them. She loves to use him as her baby! Ethan is our constant reminder that we are doing something right as parents. He is so smart and the sweetest thing ever. He is my emotional child. We just signed him up for t-ball again. He is excited about that. We wanted to sign Eryna up for softball but we are going to wait a little longer. We may do cheer leading or swimming this spring. She definitely has a swimmers body and loves the water but just needs a lot of practice. She is still having her tantrums when she doesn't get what she wants and there are times that they get really bad but I can say that they have gotten better. I know that God will heal her and in the mean time, He is using this experience to teach us many things about life and His promises to us. He knit her together in her mother's womb wonderfully and fearfully made and He will guide us through it all.
I am enjoying the break so far and trying to catch up on a lot of stuff, this was my first thing on the list. I hope I remembered everything and you enjoyed getting caught up. Wish I could promise that I will keep up with it more but I will just say that I will try to!

First visit with Santa
Santa trying to ask Eryna what she wants for Christmas!

First bubble bath! She wanted one every night after

Sea World!

Eryna was trying to figure out what this was!

Eryna's face on "The Manta" ride

Shamu roller coaster

Hugging her Shamu as she watched the show

Getting ready to go visit her castle

Our 3 precious kids!

Ethan just made it!

Our strong princes!

Hanging out in the pool

Love this picture of her!

Lazy river time!

Decorating the tree

She loved all the ornaments

Doing sign language at her school show

Playing the bells at her show

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Eryna is riding her bike by herself!

Getting her first haircut!

We went short! She loved it!

Waiting for her first parade to start. Happy Veteran's Day!

New Pictures!

Happy Birthday to Ethan and Logan!

She loves to play at the park!

Such a silly girl.

First day of school at Mama's school!

Happy girl going to her "big girl" school!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fall Festivities!

Baking Halloween cookies!

Getting ready to frost them all.

She loved cleaning out the pumpkin!

It's time to trick or treat!

The trick or treating crew!

We had a wonderful time this past week with a lot of fall festivities. The boys had a Harvest Festival at their school and Eryna loved being apart of that going from class to class doing activities. Then we had a weekend of parties and a special visitor from my best friend Alissa. On Sunday while Shawn worked, she helped me bake homemade Halloween cookies with the kids. We had a huge mess but a lot of fun. The kids loved it. Then Monday we went trick or treating with my nieces. Eryna had the time of her life. Everytime she got a piece of candy, she would scream with excitement and show us all. She has been having really good days so far. The counselor is happy with her progress since the new medication and says we should start her in school. We are going to attempt very short days next week at the school I teach at. Everyone is being very helpful and willing to accept her. We still have our moments and small tantrums but have come very far since our first week home. We can now honestly say that we are enjoying her for who she is and not always worrying about what will happen next. Please pray for her as she will experience school for the first time next week and for us as well to be able to allow her to leave our hands.

Eryna learning how to use the mouse!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Video from Wii Dance!

Forgot to put the link for the video earlier. Here it is:

God is Greater!

I went to sit down the other night to write a new entry and just couldn’t. I opened our blog and heard our first song “Our God is Greater”. I forgot that I had changed our songs while in the Ukraine and since I always wrote our blog on Microsoft word and then transferred it over, I never would hear the music. God knew then that I would need to hear that song on that very night I opened up our blog site. God is Greater and Stronger than all that we are going through. He is our Healer, and nothing can stand against us. We will not allow this time in our life to break us or to turn us away. It is making us stronger.

Since my last blog, a lot has changed and a lot has stayed the same. We still have the tantrums and the struggle to do school work each day but I can also say that we still have Eryna’s smile. Her smile is what keeps me going each day. She blows me away with her huge heart and desire to make you laugh. She loves her brothers and will try to help them at any moment. Of course that causes fighting because we have raised them to be independent so now having someone come in and do everything for them doesn’t work too well. In the morning, Eryna wants to get everyone a glass of water, spoons, feed the dog, help get Logan dressed, help make lunches, etc. I love her work ethic when it comes to helping, I just now need to find a way to apply this work ethic into her school work! J We have taken her to every doctor needed to make sure she is getting all the nutrition she needs and to be as healthy as possible. Her cardiology appointment went perfect, pediatrician had to update a lot of her vaccines (7 shots in one day poor thing), neurologist recommended some medication to help with behavior but we have decided to wait and try other approaches, dentist is next week (we hear that an orphan has an average of 7-9 cavities when they have their 1st appointment), and the best news is that we found an amazing counselor that speaks Russian!! Shawn was looking on the internet one night because he felt that it would be good for her to be able to speak to someone in her own language and he found a lovely lady named Yana that has a practice in Aventura (about an hour from us). We have had 3 appointments with her so far and we are so thankful that we found her. She really cares about Eryna and has been helping us a lot with communicating with Eryna. She recommended a couple of vitamins for Eryna to take to help with her ADHD and we have been able to see a slight change in behavior since. I am praying that we can help her focus through using a holistic approach first before going to medication. We also started speech therapy last week. She was approved for 3 visits a week but we have a high copay so we are only doing one visit a week right now.  I think that’s about it as for her health right now.

I would like to share some things that continue to make us smile each day from our princess. Eryna loves to dress up. Poor thing only had boy dress up clothes for a while but she loved putting on about 3 different ones at a time. Now we were able to get her some old prom dresses and those she wears about every day. Her next favorite thing is swimming. She would eat, sleep and live in the pool if we let her. We are going to have to heat that pool all winter because I don’t think we will be able to keep her out. My parents bought her a bike so she loves to be outside trying to learn how to ride it. It has been very difficult to teach her to pedal but she is coming along. She does prefer Logan’s tricycle and rides that the most. Eryna still loves her puzzles and playing with dolls. My parents watched Eryna one night so we could have some special time with the boys and they got a kick out of her playing with my sister and I’s old dolls from childhood. She had them all sitting at the table eating dinner with them, she took them to the bathroom, pushed them around in a shopping cart, and then put them all to bed. It was so nice to see her have a great bonding time with my parents. My mom did say that the whole time she kept asking for the boys and made sure she was gonna sleep at her house. Eryna loves to dance as well. We got the dance Wii game and she has a blast with that. I uploaded a video of her dancing with my nieces, you can see that below. She has such a big laugh as well. She has that laugh that will always make you laugh at the same time even if it wasn’t funny!! She also has a way to melt your heart after a tantrum. She always holds our face and says “I’m sorry Mama” or “I’m sorry Papa”. She has learned good manners too. She will always say “Thank You and Your Welcome”. We are still learning on how to say “Yes” when asked to do something but this past weekend she learned “No and Stop” very well…..not the order I wanted but at least she is learning words! Her most consistent words that she can say are: please, thank you, your welcome, home, shower, pool, may I please, store, eat, stop, no, help, Chloe (our dog), Ethan, Logan, Nonny, Papaw, Papa, Mama. That’s all I can think of right but I am sure I am missing a lot. She definitely understands a lot more than she can speak. I hope as things calm down more, I can get on and write more. I never thought I would miss doing this but I do. Especially when I hear people tell me that they miss our entries and continue to check each day. I am sorry for not keeping up with it more often but I will try harder!!
Love this picture!

Craft time with daddy.

First time baking with mommy.

Loved seeing the pumpkin patch.

Beautiful smiles!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Our First Week Home!

So after a long adoption journey, we are home, back to reality. God delivered Eryna from poverty and abandonment back into a family, no longer alone in this big world; now wanted and loved and welcomed into our family. This should be the end right. A perfect “love” story and everything would go wonderfully. Not the story with us. Eryna gave us about 2 days of honeymooning until her terror burst onto the scene. Sometimes her fear for not being fed enough or her lack of ability to hear the word no, literally takes my breath away. When asked how things are going, I would love to smile and say “wonderful, perfect, etc” but I can’t. We have been spit on, bit, kicked, scratched, disobeyed, refused, clung to, adored, ignored, loved, and rejected. God love her. We are parenting a damaged and traumatized child. Every minute is on; there is no off. We’ve missed appointments, failed to answer emails, left voicemails unanswered, texts unread, we’ve regrouped, replanned, restructured, and reorganized.

We are exhausted beyond measure.

I know what a lot of you are thinking; you asked for this. Well your right, we did and I would do it all over again.  It doesn’t mean that we are not exhausted. I read this the other day and it is so true, “Children who have been abused, abandoned, neglected, given away, given up, and left alone are shaken so deeply, so intrinsically, they absolutely require parents who are willing to wholly invest in their healing; through the screaming, the fits, the anger, the shame, the entitlement, the bedwetting, the spitting, and the bone-chilling fear. Parents who are willing to become the safe place, the Forever these children hope for but are too terrified to believe in just yet.” I know we can do this.  We prayed for this and God walked us through it all. God heals and redeems, He restores wasted years and mends broken hearts. Eryna will not remain broken. She is loved too much by a good Savior. Shawn and I will not remain exhausted and spent. We have a merciful Savior who will get us through this. We have an extremely supportive family who has been with us from the start. We have friends that send us encouraging messages (that we don’t always get a chance to respond to) and bring us a dinner since I can’t even think enough to go grocery shopping.
God really spoke to me through my devotion today which allowed me to be able to sit down and write this honest post to you all. The verse was “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deut. 31:6)
So when you ask “How are you?” don’t be surprised if I say “Actually I haven’t looked in the mirror in two days, haven’t had a shower in 3 days, I lost my temper with my uncontrollable daughter this morning, I spent 2 hours today just trying to get her to sit down and color a sheet of paper, I had to hide all our food last night so she doesn’t ask me a million times for something to eat after she just ate her plate of food plus all the left overs,  and I am tired of washing sheets from her peeing in her bed every night. “  But since I am so afraid of scaring some of you away…I may just say “We are doing fine, thanks for asking.” Just continue to pray for us and we will be at the doctor on Monday morning getting drugs prescribed for our sanity!

These are the moments that keep us going each day!
Cousins having fun!

This is her favorite toy and she is the happiest when she is in the pool!

Yay! We made it back for Ethan's 5th Birthday!

He loved his gifts and especially that we made it back in time!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Home Sweet Home!

Practicing her letters on the plane

Love Amsterdam carts to push around!

First visit to Walmart! She was so excited about
all the small stuff we had to get her!

Her and Logan loved pushing the cart together

First visit with her cousins!

Reading books before bed. Love our new family!
We are home! Eryna and I made it through our 22 hours of traveling. The trip from Amsterdam to Atlanta was the hardest since it was the longest flight. She only slept for 20 minutes in the beginning and then fell asleep just as the plane was landing. It was difficult to keep her entertained and happy. The poor people in front of her that were woken up every time she would try to stand up and pull on their seats. Every time she would push extra hard on the buttons on the screen in front of her. She had fun kicking the seat in front of her as well and the man would turn around and ask me to have her stop. I wanted to say “If I knew Russian, I would be screaming at this point but I don’t so I am trying my best”. I apologized about 10 times to him and he still continued to ask me to control my child. For the most part, she did really well and I was able to be very patient because I knew what the end result was! Customs went very long and nobody had compassion for me that I only had 40 minutes till my next flight. Well since I didn’t get to the gate until everyone was boarded, they didn’t have seats available for us. We had to wait till the next flight but it wasn’t too much later than the original flight. We arrived in Miami at 7:30pm and had a nice crowd waiting for us. It was great to see our family and friends there. The kids had a great time playing and Eryna blended in right away. We came home and got to bed as soon as we could. I am really suffering with Jet Lag today and Shawn had it yesterday.
Logan woke up first this morning so he came in bed and I was able to snuggle with him for 30min. before Ethan woke up. I was then able to snuggle with Ethan for 30min. till Eryna woke up. It was a perfect morning. We adventured to Walmart to get some needed items for Eryna. It was actually an enjoyable trip with the whole family. We came home and went into the pool. Eryna had the time of her life in the pool. She was very nervous about leaving the steps but as soon as Shawn got in with her, she was willing to go farther. We had a wonderful time playing as a family during the day and just showing Eryna everything in the house. My dad, sister-in-law and kids came by to visit later on. Then our friend Cinda brought over dinner and some groceries. That was a life saver because I had no intentions to cook or go grocery shopping. Our nightly routine of showers, books and prayer time went a lot better tonight than last night. Eryna fell asleep all by herself tonight and I am beyond ready myself. I will hopefully write more details when I have more sleep and can think!! Enjoy the pictures!