Saturday, October 2, 2010

7 Months Home on Sunday

It has been ages since I've posted here. This little blog began with our adoption of Ira Joy, and with that for a while has meant very little time for anything else. The last seven months have had some real down times, but also some of those moments to savor and ponder forever. Maybe we have to get through those low points to get to see the treasures God has waiting. Like so many things in life, the rewards are far sweeter when you've had to put everything you've got into them.

Here's a few highlights from the past few months.

In April, Ira Joy celebrated her 4th birthday at home. Her Momma got most teary upon picking up the cake. The clerk said it was such a lovely princess cake and how old was the birthday girl. "She's 4 today, but she's never had a birthday party and likely not a birthday cake in her life," I said. She couldn't say much in words but she was so excited and knew that the cake, presents, and decorations were all for her. Her most favorite gift was a Little Tykes car from Grandma and Grandpa, to which she said "Machina, machina, machina" (car in Russian). (She's had a love and fascination with cars ever since she left the orphanage.)

In May, her Papa filled up the swimming pool. For the first two weeks, she was absolutely terrified of the water. Even with Momma in the pool holding her she was shrieking about it. She told me in English "too big water". So we went to Walmart where they have the tiny plastic pools. Then she would say Ira "neesky" pool (Russian for "little"). We decided to have Papa get in the big pool and that is exactly what she needed to overcome her fears. Then she liked it a little too much, scaring me to death with her bravery in the big pool!!! Unfortunately, around late June, after an afternoon of swimming, a patch on a repaired whole gave way and ripped the liner from bottom to top.

July included her first Independence Day, along with our family tradition of eating at the International House of Pancakes every 3rd of July, and her very first vacation to the North Carolina mountains. We spent about three days in Lake Lure, enjoying swimming, and a special trip with Papa driving a pontoon boat, gem mining, and some hiking at Chimney Rock State Park. It was a lot of activity, but I assure you, she never ran out of energy!!!

In August, we went to Asheville for Grandpa Richardson's family reunion on his mom's side of the family. She was her cute and charming little self and was excited about staying in a hotel overnight. As is the case sometimes at home, she sang throughout the night at every awakening, "Twinkle, twinkle", the Barney song, "Jesus Loves Me", and oftentimes combinations of multiple songs together. Needless to say, some of us didn't sleep. Hmmm, probably until she outgrows this habit, there will be no more one room stays for the whole family. I will tell you, her little voice is very sweet, just not so welcome at 1am, then 2am, and 3am. You get the picture. She used to sing in Russian and it is kind of sad that she isn't able to do that anymore. (Since she has always rocked and sang in the night, I really wonder how the other 13 children in her groupa ever got any sleep--- Perhaps, they all did this-- an all night chorus)

In September, Ira Joy began preschool. It is so nice that it is close enough to walk there, and to know she is so close by should she need me. This has been wonderful for her as it has helped with her speech delay. She tells me, "Mommma school Evan, Stephen, Liva... Ira go school, play... Papa go work." It has given us much needed time for getting one on one homeschool teaching done, while she is busy happily playing in the structure her little system needs and craves. (We've found it is kind of tough for a child to go from every single thing in their lives being scheduled and structured-- even the potty, to a family relaxed structure... It is just so different!) Anyway, she loves her school and everyone in it very much. She is very Russian in her good-byes though, has to hug and kiss everyone she sees on the way out the door. Sometimes, I have to hurry her along. It is comical.

This is something Ira Joy dictated to her teacher. I was shocked she got all this out last week, but her teacher assured me these were Ira's words, although it took some time for her to get the words out:

by Ira Joy White
Cook spaghetti.
Mommy and Poppy cook.
Your tummy hurts if you eat too much.
Poppy and Mommy put cheese on spaghetti.
Mommy buys it.
Spaghetti is good.
There have been so many first experiences for Ira Joy over the last few months and we are sure to add more. The tantrums, developmental difficulties, and sleepless nights have been difficult for our whole family. You don't just become an instant picture perfect family overnight. We've all had to make some adjustments, but it is part of the process. God is using this to shape all of us into the people he wants us to be. It certainly has uncovered our weaknesses, but probably our strenghts too. We have days where we all blow it, but we get back up give it another go. She has an infectious spark, a zeal for life that is amazing given her history. She loves us so freely, and it is all worth it when I hear her sweet voice, say after school "I missed you Momma."

Sunday, March 14, 2010

One Week Home

First of all, after four weekends in a row of flying to and from Russia, it is great to have one at home. This has been a challenging week with many ups and downs, as to be expected.

Ira Joy is doing well. She's an extremely active child. She's often into everything! Despite the language barrier, we are communicating fairly well with her, using lots of repetition and gesturing. Praise the Lord, she has adjusted to the time difference from Russia to here with no difficulty!

She is having to learn the ins and outs of our household, testing the limits with her new family. She is finding they are set quite firmly in place! This has been hard for her and for us as she learns she can't always have what she wants. I'm sure going from the strict structure of the orphanage to something different would be confusing so she's just trying to figure out her new life. Each day does seem to get easier in this regard.

The kids all love her. Evan likes to carry her and share his Huggy bear with her. Stephen helps get her in her car seat and straps her in. Olivia helps her with puzzles and likes to swing on the porch swing with her. They do however, prefer her not to touch their bigger kid things. I caught Ira Joy just about to give Olivia's American Girl doll, Samantha a bath! That would not have gone over well.

Her favorite toys are a play purse, shopping cart, and a cookie jar shape sorter. She can say the boys names, grandma, grandpa, monkey, up, down, momma, and papa, hello, and bye-bye.

Cute highlights from the week: Matt discovered her mopping the kitchen floor with the Swifter mop; She put toys in the bath for Olivia and proceeded to (in Russian) tell her she had to get in to the bath tub; On the first night home, she made a spot for Olivia to sleep in her toddler bed with her; Singing cute Russian songs when she's happy; Deciding she likes baths herself IF there are fun toys to splash with (before this she screamed); Wearing Evan's eyeglasses and the next day she was surprised with a pair of hot pink sunglasses from her Aunt Ally; Putting the sunglasses on Momma and Grandma and the face of the cookie jar shape sorter; Giving hugs to her aunties, grandma, grandpa and several of the girls at church; funny thing this morning-- She did not want to get dressed because she wanted to get the kitchen swept and table cleared after breakfast, did not have time for that this morning as we were running late for church, couldn't explain that one too well to her but did get that dress on her little body.

Well, that is our week in a nutshell. Ira Joy is quite a blessing and keeps me hopping. Maybe I'll finally lose those extra pounds. If I'm to get something done, I've figured out that she has to have a job too. So, she's been quite the helper around here. It will be interesting to see what the next week brings.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

We're Back in the US

Ira Joy slept 20 minutes of the 10 hour plane ride, but we've made it home. Our translator had told her what to expect, so when we arrived at the airport she knew we had a ways to go in the machina- car. I've been telling her a machina is a car so now she calls it a machina car. We were up at 6:30 am Moscow time. It is now almost 8pm but in Moscow it is almost morning. So, little miss is very exhausted and has finally fallen asleep. We'll stay this night in Richmond and go the rest of the way home in the morning. Have a dreadful head cold, am so sleepy, going to get some sleep now.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Last Full Day in Moscow

Tonight, I am excited to be going home, but also feeling a little emotional about what we leave behind here. We leave behind a rich and interesting culture, our baby's homeland, the best translator/coordinator we could ever have (she's been like family), and thousands of other children who need homes. To see Ira Joy experience freedom in a way she never has before makes me sad for those that may never know it.

On a happier note, we saw lots of the city today. We toured St. Basil's Cathedral. It is so colorful with domes that almost look like candy. I wondered today how it compares to the grandness of Solomon's Temple from the Bible. Matt said Solomon's was probably grander, so that gave me an interesting perspective. We could have toured the Kremlin but I did not think Ira Joy would think the 1 and 1/2 hour tour very interesting. When we walked to Red Square today it was snowing quite a bit, and began again as we were leaving. Matt bought a Russian hat, as the vendors were thinking his bare head funny with scarf on top of it. There must have been around five different men that tried to sell him one before he gave in.

There is a very fancy mall on Red Square. I've never in my life seen such a place. Lots of the stores had English names, so I would imagine my dear sisters would have recognized those high dollar designers for clothes, shoes, and purses. For me, I wouldn't know a $1,000.00 purse from a $30.00 purse. We didn't bother going in any of the stores except a Russian gift shop, and a drug store. Matt remembered we like to pick up ornaments on our travels (Our travels are so many, right? Ha-Ha). So he had me pick out a couple. They will be a sweet memory for us every year for our tree. I also bought a picture of Russian folksy story-book type children for Ira Joy's room.

This afternoon, I had to leave the little cupcake with her Papa. She cried when she saw me put my coat on and figured out she could not go. There was a problem with the power of attorney we had prepared to have her government account go to the orphanage. So, our translator came and got me. We walked quite a ways (mind you, I'd already walked for hours today), got on the subway. She knew I'd never been on a subway, so she held on to my arm so as not to lose me. We went and had the whole document done over with a new signature at the notary, rode subway back, and she got me back to the hotel. I am for SURE not a BIG CITY girl! When I returned, the Papa and his "Moushka" (Mouse) (his knickname for her) had gone out gallavanting again. They found a grocery and bought some "malko" (milk) and enough water to last us our remaining time here.

She teared up tonight at bedtime, but didn't actually cry tonight. So, that is good. She is so happy when walking. She just sings a little tune all the time walking, and looking frontwards, and backwards, everywhere!

I brought a bunny that sings "Jesus Loves Me" with us. Some dear friends from home gave it as a shower gift. Thanks, Phyllis, Grace, and Caroline if you're reading this. She loves it and has been singing along with it. It is absolutely precious. Matt took video of it from his cell phone, and is going to try to post it tonight on facebook. When we get home we can put pictures on the blog.

Well, that is about it for tonight. We'll leave the hotel at 8:30 in the morning for our 12:30 flight. USA here we come!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Doctor's Visit and Trip to the Embassy

Well, today was supposed to be an easy fun day, but our coordinator got a nice surprise that the Embassy was taking off tomorow, so thankfully we were able to go today. I think if we had missed it tomorrow and had to wait until Monday, I would have been a really upset Momma. After all, three wonderful munchkins are waiting for us at home.

The embassy visit went well. It was high security, but that makes sense. There were probably about 20 other families there today at the same time. Matt had to sign a few things and we had to take an oath that our information was true and accurate. Ira Joy was nervous, about this new place and so many people. When she is nervous, she picks her skin off places on her fingers. (Might have to have her wear her mittens in the plane to get her to stop). One of the families whose adoption blog I follow was also there today. That was neat to get to see them in person. We met another family getting their first adopted child (boy around 20 months). They also homeschool and have 5 biological children. Another nice family was getting their fourth child, with three other adopted children from various regions in Russia back home. We were provided with Ira's birth certificate, and other original documents, as well as her visa. So now she is ready for international travel. She wore a corduroy bishop's style smocked purple dress and purple hairbow. She looked beautiful!

We played in the children's playroom several times today. She rocked too hard on the rocking horse, and went backwards. I was actually relieved when she cried over it. She has hurt herself several times (including walking into a glass wall) and seemed unphased by it. I kissed it and she recovered pretty quick. But the next time she got on that rocking horse, she seemed to understand when I would tell her to slow down and be careful.

Papa is spoiling her by putting her on his shoulders up high to walk around. She tried to get on my shoulders and I did not comply. We walked over to the McDonalds today and she got her probably first ever cheeseburger. They gave her a McDonalds flag which she was thrilled with. She waved it around in the wind on the walk back to the hotel.

The doctor said she was pretty healthy, obviously very thin, but would overcome it. The 2T jeans I put on her actually kept falling off this morning. He wants her to see a cardiologist at home but could not hear any signs of the atrial septum defect (?). We definitely need to see an allergist soon, with her skin issues and conflicting information we've gotten. They did give us the list of immunizations, so hopefully there will be no need for repeats.

Okay, I'm so tired, I'll close this up for now. Matt is going to try to at least post the pictures from his phone, since we can't get the pictures off the camera... Just 1 more full day, then the airport!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Day 2 With Irina Joy

Irina slept fitfully last night, no crying but waking and rocking herself back and forth. Can't wait to rock and comfort her in the glider rocker back home. When Papa's loud alarm went off this morning though, she was all smiles. She was cooperative with dressing quickly so we could eat breakfast before leaving for the airport. We seemed to love the pureed bananas and a cereal bar, milk box.

The beautiful big brown eyes were constantly watching everything today. It was mostly a day of travel. Traffic is so bad here that we were actually in the car for quite a bit more than when we were on the airplane. She was excited about the airplane and did not get afraid during take-off or landing. She was very proud to get to wear her butterfly backpack on her back. She only got perturbed with me once on the plane when she dropped the spoon she'd been playing with and I took it away. She is not concerned about germs. She will eat off of the floor and even the trash. I try to say "icky", not sure she gets it. We finally arrived at the hotel in Moscow around 3:00 (1 hour time difference from Samara). So, too late for a nap. She enjoyed helping me put things away, so much so that she decided to put my bag, her backpack, and every single toy we brought in a drawer or a cabinet. She is very THOROUGH. She's going to be a big help at home. Our translator said to make sure we do let her help with things, because she was known for helping out so much in the orphanage. They say she is so helpful and kindhearted with everyone.

Besides being a good girl on the plane, Ira Joy was much calmer today. We took a cold walk this afternoon with her. This time she kept her mittens clean. She was plumb tuckered out tonight at dinner, but ate chicken and potatoes very well. I would not let her eat all of it because she is used to much less and I knew she would get sick. She teared up a little at bedtime, but I bundled her up in her blanket I made her and sang and gave kisses, till she got out of my lap to stretch out on the bed and go to sleep. It did not take long at all and it seems her sleep is more peaceful.

Tomorrow she gets a visit at the hotel from the doctor as requirement of the American Embassy. We hope to get a visit in to Red Square. I'll have to dress warmer than today, denim skirts with only knee socks definitely not right attire. I've been told this hotel has a playroom for kids so we will probably check that out as well.

I've learned a teensy bit of Russian, and Ira is learning "wash hands", and "up", and "down" (thanks to the elevator- also, have to remind her Papa that 3 year olds like to be the one to press the BUTTON-- he keeps forgetting that!).

I think Privyet is "hello", Olivia, at least on the telephone it is. Evan thanks for reminding me about the sprite bottle, I'll try if I can get one not glass. Will bring chocolate, the hotel housekeepers gave it in Samara when they cleaned the room. We miss you all and can't wait to be back home.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I so wanted to post pictures, but Matt cannot find a particular cord (I see a bag full, apparently not the right one). If he finds it we will post pictures when we arrive in Moscow.

Irina was very excited to see us, spoke of "machina" (car) and BEEP-BEEP. She did beautifully in the car ride to the hotel, and even in the mall where we stopped for some food for her. She just kept looking up at both of us and grinning real big.

There have been no tears for her today. All HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY. She is already learning we have to say NYET (no) quite a bit, but is seemingly ok with that. She is thrilled at the freedom of going to the bathroom whenever she wants, so we have been at least 20 times today. She loves to push the button on the back of the toilet for the big SWOOSH! In fact any button is great. She enjoys the elevator. We've tried just about every sofa and chair in the general areas of the hotel, and have been up and down the stairs over and over.

A sweet thing today-- She was singing-- kind of humming, didn't sound like real words but she was definitely making music, something I've tried to get her to in the past. It was real cute, and she did it often throughout the afternoon.

She is highly energetic and the hotel is not a good place for that so we bundled her up real good and walked to the mall. She did real well holding our hands and staying with us. I gave her a shovel to scoop snow on the walk, and she enjoyed that.

We ate dinner at the restaurant at the top of the hotel-- kind of fancy, but not much else available-- and our crackers and PB wouldn't suffice as a meal for a growing toddler. She ate real well, and before we left, wiped down the seat, and brushed all crumbs from the tablecloth with a napkin. She looked like she worked in the place. It was hilarious. You should of seen Matt and I trying to move the long stem glasses, candle, etc. as she cleaned the table.

Another cute thing-- She got her mittens terribly dirty on our walk so she helped me wash them and hang them to dry.

She is a cutie, and has received lots of compliments and admirers around the hotel. We finally got her to sleep tonight, and will head out for Moscow on the airplane in the morning.

That's all for now. Our internet minutes are almost up with this hotel.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Today's Visit

I think Little Miss Cupcake is ready to go. I think she understands that tomorrow is the DAY. One of her caregivers came in to tell her goodbye because she is off tomorrow. She told us we were getting a real good girl. She was so very sweet and gave us her address in case we want to send her any pictures. It is so good to know she has been well cared for at the orphanage.

We tried her new red boots on her today to make sure they fit. She loved them. I was going to make the long walk to a mall nearby if they hadn't, so glad they fit. It is very cold today.

We were originally told we could not get her until the afternoon, but are excited that we will now get her in the morning. We'll leave the hotel at 10:30 am to head for the orphanage.

Till tomorrow.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

In Samara

After approximately 11 hours flying, 7 hours of driving, and about five hours of waiting in airports, we arrived at our hotel in Samara around 8pm (Samara time is 9 hours ahead of our time). Matt slept a bit on the plane, but I slept none. Every time I was just about asleep the toddler two rows behind would begin screaming, or the stewardess would walk by with water. SO, it felt so good to get a hot shower, quick call home to check on dear sweet sick children, and go straight to bed. We slept a straight 11 hours, what a blessing!

We will go visit the orphanage this afternoon and see Miss Cupcake. We can hardly wait until tomorrow. She won't have to hear us say good-bye anymore.

Also, please pray we won't get sick with whatever our children at home have. We need to be well to get through the next few days. Can't wait to be home for good!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New to Blogging

Well, here goes my first post.

I decided to start this blog to share our adoption with friends and family. In addition to blogging about adoption, I'll probably blog about homeschooling, quilting, crafts, family fun, and spiritual matters.

We began our journey back in September to adopt a little girl from Samara, Russia. Our first visit to meet this wonderful girl was right after Christmas in 2009. Our court date was on February 19, 2010. Now we are back home in our small town waiting out the 10 day wait. Matt and I will be flying out this Saturday, February 27 heading back to Samara. We will have regional paperwork on Monday and then FINALLY on Tuesday afternoon, March 2, we will get to experience the much anticipated "Gotcha Day". I have the "Gotcha Day" dress all ready for her. It is a beautiful pink bishop style dress with brown smocking, including ponies smocked around the neck, and of course a matching hairbow.

Stay tuned.....