Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas is coming!!

Wow--two months since I last posted. There is so much to say and yet life seems to go on as normal--which is a good thing. Sorry no pictures--my computer freezes up as soon as I put my camera card into it and I know nothing about why it's happening or how to fix it. I have to wait for some one smarter than me.
Hannah has been enjoying swimming lessons and passed the first two preschool levels quite easily and will start level three (eel) in Jan. She just loves to be in the water but during lessons she does have trouble sitting still and listening when the teacher is helping the other kids--she just wants to swim all the time.
Sitting still is a problem for my little girl--it is the only thing she gets in trouble for at school and almost everyone that meets her comments on her energy level and her curiosity. I must be used to it because to me she seems like a normal 4 year old kid and I think her behavior is pretty good most of the time. Oh well--we will keep working on it.
She really enjoys her church school and I am very happy for that. It is one hour of instruction with mostly hands on learning but the kids are required to be quiet, calm, and respectful the whole hour. She does very well and just can't wait to go back so I know she likes it. Those teachers have never complained about her energy level but they seem to be the most calm people I have ever met. I think it's good for her. It is also nice for me because it is an hour of total quiet for me. It is not worth it to go back home so I take a book and sit in the church library and read for a whole hour--it is heaven.
Her first school pictures were taken in Nov and they turned out great. She has two "best" friends in school and the mother of one of the other girls arranged for them to have a friends picture of the three of them. It is so cute and will be a great keepsake to have of Hannah's first friends.
We got to see a couple great Christmas shows--Mickey's Rockin Road Show in Nov. and then we saw the Moscow ballet perform The Great Russian Nutcracker in Dec. While they are on opposite ends of the culture spectrum, we truly enjoyed both. At Mickey's show, Hannah wore jeans and a Cat in the Hat shirt, we met up with two other little friends, and the whole place was jamming the whole time with kids jumping, clapping, dancing, and singing along most of the time. She had fun.
At the ballet we both dressed up and she sat very quietly and was enthralled the whole time--that is until the very end when she quietly crawled up in my lap and fell asleep. It was about an hour past her bedtime at that point. We both enjoyed that as well and she twirled around the house in ballerina mode for days afterwards.
Thanksgiving was a big celebration for our family this year and Hannah got to meet five members of my immediate family that she hadn't met yet. 31 of us were together for two whole days and it was so fun. We had a big prime rib dinner the first day and then the traditional turkey dinner the next day. Both were so delicious.
Hannah ran with her cousins the whole time and I only saw her when she needed something or got very tired--then she would come to Mom. It was so fun for me to see her having that much fun and it was reassuring to see that she wanted me when she needed anything. It was cold and snowy the whole time and my brother's road was sheer ice so our traveling was a bit hairy but everyone made it and we had a blast.
Now my youngest brother Dan and his wife Kristin are the only ones that Hannah hasn't met in person yet. They plan to be coming through Minnesota in the spring when they move from California to Connecticut and we can't wait to see them.
My court date in Russia was in January last year and we just had our one year post placement visit. It went very well and once again Hannah charmed the socks off the social worker. She was very shy which is not like her but she seems to know when we are at visits that concern her and she gets more wary. It is nice to have that done but it hardly seems like a year is almost here.
Hannah had her early childhood screening this month and she tested "okay" for her age. That was good to hear but the screener went ahead and put through a referral for an IEP anyway because of her history. I am very glad and I hope that she qualifies for some help because I want her to have the best start possible before school. She won't get the evaluation until Jan. so we will see.
Looking at the whole school thing has been stressful for me--who knew I had so many options and that I would be touring kindergartens the way other people tour colleges. Where I grew up there was only one school and everyone went there so that was it but not so here. I am touring one of the public "choice" schools in town that teaches based on the core knowledge principles, her neighborhood school, and two of the private options in town. So many things to think about. Like --both private schools have full day kindergarten which I think is good and certainly fits my working schedule better. The public schools here only have half day kindergarten so more daycare would be needed. If she needs any of the free help the state offers she would only get it in the public school system--it is not available to the private schools. And of course, cost is a factor too. I am also keeping an open mind to holding her back a year if her testing shows she is not quite ready. I would like her to be with the same age kids but I also want her to have a good start in school. So much to think about. The private schools and the choice school have enrollment deadlines in January so I guess I will be figuring this out fairly soon.
She is growing and learning all the time and I see changes from month to month so I still think it is feasible she will be ready by Sept. One example that struck me was Yesterday she asked me if she could watch a movie. I said "How about if we paint instead, I got new paints." A couple months ago she would have just whined "No--a movie please" but yesterday she said very calmly, "I do like to paint but I really want to watch a movie now, please". I couldn't resist so she got a movie against my better judgement.
Getting ready for Christmas has been pretty fun. She loves our Christmas tree. I put up the tree and strung the lights at night after she had gone to bed. In the morning I showed her and when I turned on the lights she gasped and said, "Mom--you made that?" She was quite impressed by me at that moment. She really got into the decorating and helped me for a good 45 minutes. She was very good at hanging the ornaments and talking about each one as we hung it. At one point it seems to bother her a little when she figured out I had most of the ornaments before I had her. So I was really glad that I had bought a couple new ones that were just for her. After decorating it she wanted to call Grandma. While she talking on the phone to Grandma I hear her say, "Can you see this one?" and then she goes to the tree and holds the phone up to an ornament. So funny. She is getting the Santa thing and seems excited he will bring presents --she wants a pony and a barbie. I took her to the Mall to see Santa and she wouldn't go close. I was not going to force her so we just left. She said to me, "Mom--I want to like him. When I get bigger I will like him".
We do read the Christmas story also and she plays with the nativity and talks about Baby Jesus so we are learning the reason for Christmas also.
I think Hannah and I will have Christmas eve and Christmas morning together--just the two of us and I am looking forward to that. Our big family Christmas will be on New Year's Day.
So..Happy Holidays to you all. I will be back next year to post about our first Christmas together.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Love at first sight

One year ago today I walked into an orphanage half way around the world in Siberia and met the most beautiful little 3 year old girl. My life was changed for the better that day.

Quote from my journal entry that night--
"I have met my daughter and she is perfect--my heart is full."

I have no better words to describe how I feel than "my heart is still full". I love you Hannah Raisa McNab and always will.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Culture Day at school

Today I took the morning off work to attend the Culture parade at Hannah's school. Parents were invited and kids were asked to dress in a traditional attire from their culture. We finally got to wear the dress I bought for Hannah in Moscow. One of her little friends said to her "Hannah, you look beautiful". She loved wearing it at first but after a bit she wanted to change back--she didn't want to be different from the other kids. I hope she becomes proud of being different as time goes on.
It was a lot of fun and it was fun to see her class in action. A room of 20 four and five year olds can be quite chaotic. I always admired teachers but even more so now. I had to leave in the middle of the day and that was harder than dropping her off in the morning. She clung to me saying "I want to go to our house please please please." and "Don't good-bye to me". fortunately the teacher said she had a good day after I left and she was in a great mood all evening.

Earlier this month Hannah moved up to a new room at her daycare/preschool and is now in the Pre-K class or as she says "The big kids room". Most of her class moved with her so she is still with her friends but the class size almost doubled from 12 to 21. I sure am thankful to the teachers because they have a hard job. She now has to wear a uniform--she thinks it is great.

On Labor Day we did make a big weekend of it since it was our last summer one and Hannah had just graduated from her preschool class. We went to the "lake up north" to my sister's place. My brother and his family and my mom were also up there with their camper. We sure had a good time.

There is a Nature Center here in Rochester with great hiking trails and other nature things for kids and adults alike. They had thier annual Fall Festival a couple weeks ago and Hannah and I went. It was a great way to spend the day with a kid. We were blessed that the weather was just perfect for a Fall day--sweatshirts and jeans. We got in a lot of hiking and had a good time.

We have started swimming lessons which are a big hit--she loves the water which I knew but she really loves learning from her teacher. I sit behing this glass wall with all the other parents and watch. Sometime during the class she has to make sure I am there and then waves like crazy until I wave back.

We also started religion school and that is also a big hit. As soon as she reached the door she says "Good-bye Mom" and then shoos me away. There is no place to watch so I take a book and have one hour of quiet and reading so it is a big hit with me too.

Mommy is getting back into her life too. Last weekend I went to a Nursing conference at a resort in the Brainerd Lakes area (Northern MN). My sister went with and stayed with Hannah while I was learning. Hannah loved being with her Aunt Kathy and thought it was funny that Mom was "going to school". It was a beautiful weekend and we got to see a lot of trees already changing colors--the yellow and oranges and reds were quite vibrant--very pretty.

This coming weekend I am celebrating the 50th birthday of my dearest friend. My mom is coming to stay with Hannah while I go out. Hannah is so excited to see Grandma. It will be the very first time since we've been together that Hannah will go to bed without me there. I can't think of anyone else I would let do it than Grandma. I am so thankful to have such wonderful family.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Home six months

I am a little overdue as we were home for six months on August 6th. Every day I am still amazed that I get to be the Mom of this little beauty and I marvel at how blessed I am but in many ways it feels like she has always been with me. She is just a part of me and I love her so much.
The weekend of the 6th was our Annual McNab Family Campout--the 25th year. We had an awesome time and Hannah was the talk of the weekend as many people were meeting her for the first time. It was mind blowing to realize that only six months ago she lived in an orphanage in Russia and now she was in America, surrounded by 62 loving family members, and running like crazy with the other kids.
Also I do still remember feeling that the adoption process was so difficult with many disappoints along the way and I remember wondering if it would really happen that part is all a distant memory and doesn't seem so bad. I do believe that the process shouldn't be that hard but I can not wish that any of my journey was different because it lead me to Hannah!

She has learned so much in the last six months. Communication is not an issue with us anymore. She understands everything I say and her vocabulary is expanding rapidly. We are able to have little conversations now and I love it.
She knows all my immediate family (which includes her 16 cousins) by name and just loves to visit or spend time with them.
She is really bonded to me but yet has an independent streak that is usually enjoyable but occassionally frustrating.
She came into the kitchen yesterday saying "Mama, Mama" sounding kind of urgent. When I said "What", she wrapped her arms around my leg and said "I love you so much Mama". and then went back to play. Those are the moments that make everything worthwhile.
She is a little copy cat. The other day she called for me and when I didn't come immediately she said "Mama come now........ONE.....TWO.....THREE". The thing is I have only used that on her twice but she seemed to know it meant business the first time I did it. She doesn't seem to get that I can tell her what to do but she can't tell me what to do.
She is a compassionate little girl and is very upset when anyone else is upset. She always says "I'm sorry" when she thinks she has hurt some one else. Her teacher at daycare says that she always comes over and tries to comfort any kid that is hurt or sad.
Her favorite toys are her babies, her kitchen, puzzles, and her fisher price little people. She loves to ride her bike (with training wheels), walk her baby, go to the park, and go swimming.
She absolutely loves animals with horses being her favorite. I have had a little pony crawling around my house saying "Neigh" for a couple months now. Her teacher said she even had to stop her from eating grass one day.
Movies are another love and I have to limit them as she asks for a movie almost every day. I have become acquainted with all the Disney princesses, Bambi, Toy Story, Dora and Diego, the new Mickey Mouse, Special Agent Oso, the Wonder pets, Little Einsteins, Handy Manny, the wiggles, and Yo Gabba Gabba--all pretty good shows. I no longer keep up on Grey's Anatomy, Desparate Housewives, or the latest Bachelor--nothing I watched before is suitable for a 4 year old.
She is always active and sitting still and listening is her biggest challenge in school. It is also a challenge in church. I think if Mass could be only 30 minutes she would do fine but an hour of stillness and quiet is just too much for her.
She falls asleep in my arms every night and I wake up to her smiling face every morning. Life is good.

Our first six months have been all about getting to know each other and finding our groove together and it's been great. But now I think I am ready to introduce more into her world and I think she is ready for it too. I have her signed up for swimming lessons starting in Sept. and she will start church school in Sept too. I think I also want to get her into some kind of dance as she loves it so much. Our lives are about to get busier but it all sound wonderful.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fun times

Hannah and I had a photo session and I finally got the CD so will post a few of my favorite pictures--I just love her different expressions on these.

Two nights ago Hannah and I were doing arts and crafts--she was cutting pieces of construction paper and putting stickers on them. It was a child's safety scissors that she was using. I left the table for a few minutes to check on the dinner I was cooking and when I came back I found long pieces of black hair on the floor. I think I did inhale deeply and say "Oh Hannah, your hair" but then composed myself and remained very calm. She was so proud of herself so I just explained that scissors were just for hair and then put the scissors away for the day. It made me sad to see the shorter hair where she cut it but logically I know it is just hair and it will grow back. I haved already been able to laugh when telling the story.

This afternoon we were in the car and playing the "What does a cow say" game. We had exhausted a whole list of animals so I decided to ask "What does Mama say?" I was a little nervous what I would hear but Hannah didn't miss a beat and said "Pray to God, be nice, and no fussing". I guess she does listen.

Two good friends with young children recommended the movie "Discpicable Me" so I took Hannah tonight. I have to admit I wasn't too impressed in the beginning as the main characters talked about stealing and hit each other, blew each other up, and all the adults were mean to the kids, etc. but decided to stick it out a little longer as I heard it had a really great story. About 30 minutes into it (I still didn't see the nice part) Hannah turned to me and said, "Hannah done with this movie Mom". I asked if she wanted to go home and she said Yes so we did. When we got to the car she said, "That big movie naughty Mom". I was actually pretty proud of her as she knows bad behavior when she sees it.

I felt like a bad mommy today--it was sprinkler day at day care today and I forgot Hannah's swimming suit. They had extra t-shirts and underwear at daycare so Hannah had to play in the sprinkler in her underwear but I guess she didn't mind.
Maybe some day I will figure this being organized thing out but then again--maybe not.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

sweet bedtime

As kids go, Hannah has always been pretty easy at bedtime--just a short period of hard times about a month after arriving home--otherwise pretty low stress.
These past couple weeks have been another bad stretch. She goes to bed just fine but then will not go to sleep. I have always held her until she is asleep and these past couple weeks she starts kicking, waving her arms, sitting bolt upright--any movement that keeps her awake and then after about 30-40 minutes of that she starts fighting to get out of my arms. I have tried laying her down at that point but it just prolongs the whole process. We both have ended up frustrated until she finally gives in to sleep--often as late as 10pm so I have very little free time afterwards.

Well--tonight was a bedtime of my dreams. At 7:30 she told me she was done with her bath (she never says that as she knows it means bedtime), she was so relaxed while I rubbed her with lotion, she said her prayers beautifully--when she was done she looked at me and said, "God is happy?"--Yes, Hannah, God is very happy you talked to him so nicely. Then she snuggled into my arms and lay there without squirming. She stared into my eyes and I whispered "I love you". Everytime I did that her eyes would flutter shut and then open again until after about the 10th time she whispered back "okay" and they did not open again--she was sound asleep by 8:00. It was so lovely and loving.

I know it won't happen this way often but tonight I am basking in the feeling and reading a good book.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Here are the pictures

I don't know what order they posted in but here are pictures of the Russian singers Hannah and I saw and some others of Hannah.
I played the CD I bought of the Tuvan throat singing group for the first time today and Hannah got very excited when she heard it saying--"Like the show Mom--the music show--I want to see the guys". She insisted on seeing "the guys" until I finally convinced her they were much too far away for us to go see them.
We had a great 4th of July with my sister and her family--baseball in hot humid weather and fireworks--very American. It was fun to have Hannah there thinking that last year she had probably never heard of America and now she was celebrating the birth of our great nation and will grow up with that as just a normal part of her life--amazing!!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Life is good

Can't believe it's been so long since I blogged--funny how that seems to happen when you have a child at home. I thought I would be better but wow--it is lower on my priority list than it used to be. Also I really needed a place to vent and to get support during the waiting time and blogger buddies were fabulous for that and then I needed a way to keep in touch with many friends during the referral and trips period and blogger was great for that. Now, life is going along pretty good and I guess I don't feel those needs so acutely anymore. has been long enough that I miss my blog comments so I had to come back.

We have no big exciting news but have just been living normal life and it has been mostly good.

Hannah is doing very well in her daycare--learning new things, expanding her English so much, and making friends, and going to birthday parties. The only glitch we have had is that last week her teacher (who she loved) quit very suddenly--just didn't show up one day and called in quitting. They have been very good about dealing with that at her school and Hannah doesn't seem fazed but I wonder what she really thinks. I just tell her that Mommies never leave and I will always be there to pick her up from school.

She is very independent and I often hear "Hannah do it" when I try to do things for her but despite that I really think our bonding is going quite well. I have 4 recent examples that all made me smile because they are big changes for us.
I took her to a book signing by one of my favorite authors and when we walked into the book store where lots of people were she said, "Hold my hand Mama".
We were at my sisters house and my sister saw her struggling to put on her shoes and offerred to help. Hannah said, "NO, Mama helps me."
I took her to Toy Story 3 at the theatre and at one point she said "I want to sit on your lap Mama" and at another point she just crawled up on my lap and snuggled in.
Hannah loves movies so we have a movie night once a week at home. When she was first home she would sit as far away from me on the couch as she could get and I remember thinking "I hope some day you will sit on my lap during a movie". Now she wants me right next to her and if I am not close enough she slides as close to me as she can get. Sometimes she will even sit on my lap for most of the movie. If I get up to put clothes in the washer or some other little thing I want to get done, she will come find me and ask "What you doing Mom?" and then expect me to come sit with her again.

She usually never lets me out of her sight for more than 5 minutes when we are home but the other night I was talking to my sister on the phone for at least 20 minutes and I never saw or heard Hannah during that time. I went to investigate when I got off the phone and found her in the bathroom---she had about 8 barrettes in her hair, foundation smeared on her face, her clothes, and most of the bathroom sink, and had black mascara lines on her face. There were also two wet washcloths and towels with make-up on them--I think she was trying to clean up her mess. When I caught her, she looked at me and said "Mama, is Hannah pretty?" OMG--of course I told her she was the prettiest girl I had ever seen. and then--we promptly washed off her face and had a discussion about how beautiful Hannah was all the time and that make up is for grown ups, not little girls. She seemed okay with that.
She is such a girly girl that I fear make-up will always be an issue with us. Every single day when we get home she puts on her princess dress and fancy white shoes and wears that for whatever she plans to do--color, dance, watch movies, play with her kitchen or other toys. I finally had to buy another one so she still had one to wear when I was washing it.

She also enjoys helping me and is quite good at drying the small dishes and putting the silverware away from the dishwsher. She also likes to wipe off the counters, cupboard fronts, and anything else she can reach. She never wants to stick around and help me cook though.

Hannah had her first illness since living with me and it was hard on both of us. I took her to church one Sunday morning as usual. Although she was acting very tired that morning so I let her take her blanket into church. Well it was a good thing--about 3/4 of the way through mass she just suddenly vomited. She was sitting on my lap so it went all down my front and her front and then I caught it in her blanket. No harm to the church but we left immediately. Then she had a fever for the next two days and a sore throat for about a week. Strep was negative--just a virus. During the time she was sick she was not herself. She became very whiney and cried a the drop of a hat. She dissolved into tears when I gave her the wrong part of the apple she wanted to eat and had such a pitiful cry anytime I told her no. It was very hard to walk that line between discipline to stop those behaviors and sympathy and caring because I knew she didn't feel well. I was afraid that if I let them produce postive results they would continue after the virus was gone. But..I couldn't just let her cry and held her and cuddled her every time. Fortunately the virus left and she is back to normal. When I tell her "No", she smiles and says "yes", and then when I repeat "No", she gives in and just says "OK"--that's the girl I know.

Here in Rochester they started a "Music of the World" series of concerts. The very first one was a group called Huun Huur Tu--they come from the Tuvan Republic of the Russian Federation and are known around the world for thier Tuvan throat singing techniques. The group was formed in the early 1990's and they now tour the world. It consists of four throat singers who also play traditional Tuvan instruments.
Hannah and I attended the concert. I thought it might be a bit much for a four year old to sit through a whole concert but she was amazing. She loved every minute of their music. She swayed and rocked along to the beat and clapped wildly after every song through the whole 2 hours. She got close to falling asleep but wouldn't let herself.
The music was awesome--I was truly amazed.
I had a great time enjoying the music and also enjoying Hannah's joy.
We got to meet the band afterwards--they were very happy to meet a little girl that was from their "neighborhood".
It was so fun and I am so glad that I took Hannah. I feel like it was a once in a lifetime opportunity for us.
We didn't get home until 10pm and Hannah fell asleep on the short ride home. I carried her in and got her in her pajamas without waking her and then went to just lay her down but...she opened her eyes and said "prayers first mom". She stayed awake through all the prayers and then promptly fell back asleep. It is so good to know that she is really listening every night.

I would like to add pictures but my computer is not recognizing my photo card right now so I have to figure that out and will put pictures on my next post.

Our life sounds boring when people ask me what we've done (not very much) but it has been the most fun and exciting 6 months of my life.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Adjustment going well--mostly

Just finishing my fourth week of work. Overall it has gone remarkably well but has of course been an adjustment for both of us.

Hannah is amazing as always. She seemed to genuinely enjoy daycare from day one. She adjusted to the new morning routine so easily and has never been a problem to get going in the morning. She always wakes up happy and is quite talkative and fun on the way to school. In the beginning she just turned to me, said Good-bye and started playing. She mostly played by herself and just watched the other kids and the teacher reported that she was happy and cooperative but quiet. She seemed happy to see me at the end of the day.
Now….She is still easy and fun to get up with in the morning and we have fun on the way to school but she is getting clingy once we get there. We drive into the parking lot and she says “School, Yay” and walks right into her room but doesn’t want me to leave. I think she likes being there but just wants me to stay too. Even though she is clingy she still goes pretty easily, it just takes a little distraction and about 5 good-byes.
She starts playing with the other kids right away and the teacher now reports she is still happy and cooperative but also very talkative and energetic--much like at home. Not much else to report as we haven’t done much else besides work and school--we are both ready to spend our time at home in the evenings and weekends.

My adjustment seems like it is harder than Hannah’s. The morning routine has worked well for me also and I am happy with Hannah’s daycare so that part is good. I am secretly a little happy that she is clingy and doesn’t want me to leave because I want to be that important to her.--maybe that makes me selfish but it’s the truth. I don’t like leaving her and can really tell that our time together is shorter but I have enjoyed being back at work. In my ideal world I could do my job and work part time but that is not the case. The hardest adjustment for me has been my role at work. I have worked in my same area for over 20 years and have been one of the “experts” for quite a while. My work has always been important to me and I put a lot of myself and my time into it. I am now putting a lot of myself into it but am not putting as much time--I am actually leaving on time every day so that I am not leaving Hannah for any longer than I have to. This is fully supported by my boss and coworkers and I am so glad I can do that but………I just can’t be involved in everything that is happening I can’t jump in to fix things for everyone else, and I have to delegate more. I am struggling with the feeling of being less important at work than I used to be. I know it is just my personal feelings and I need to adjust my thinking and I will because I am so happy with my home life but it just hit me harder than I thought it would. I really know that I am replaceable at work now but…………I am not replaceable in Hannah’s life so I shouldn’t need anymore than that. I did get tomorrow morning off work to attend my first Mother’s Day tea at Hannah’s daycare. Should be fun for both of us.

I do find that I am more relaxed. All the little personal conflicts at work don’t bother me as much and I don’t get involved in them because I don’t have the time and frankly they just aren’t important. That has been a good effect. I also am much more relaxed in housekeeping. It makes me fear the thought of unexpected guests dropping by but it is totally worth it when I am playing, laughing, or dancing with Hannah instead of vacuuming or dusting. She is willing to help with chores and does but I want to do funner things with her.

More about Hannah:
She keeps getting cuter every day
I finally got her to eat some vegetables
She loves her Grandma and cousins
She freely gives me hugs and says “I love you so much”
English is coming along--I can understand a lot of what she says but others can’t too good yet.
She can sing her ABC’s, count to 20, and knows most of her nightly prayers
She sometimes is shy and hides behind my leg and sometimes is very outgoing
She loves the park, her baby dolls, pretty ponies, and Disney princess movies
She is very particular about her shoes and which ones go with which outfits--more than me.

We are going to my mom’s this weekend to spend Mother’s Day. My mom has been here a couple times but it will be Hannah’s first time at Grandma’s house so Grandma is excited--should be fun.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Back to work after a busy week

All has been going well with Hannah and I--there has been a lot going on and I don't know where to begin.
She is so sweet and her personality keeps showing more and more every day. We have so much fun together. She seems to be learning so quickly, still uses a lot of gestures to get her message across but her English is starting to grow. She is starting to show frustration when I just don't get what she wants to tell me. Her understanding of the English language has grown tremendously--in fact it seems she understands almost everything I tell her so that makes things easier for me.

Hannah started daycare/preschool a week and a half ago--she has been only going every other day for half days--mostly because I can't stand anymore seperation than that. She seems to be really enjoying it and her teacher says she is doing great. I spent two days there with her and was very satisfied with her teacher and how everything was run. I just wish I didn't have to leave her. It has been harder on me than on her. I start back to work tomorrow so she will be starting full time.

We spent Easter at my sisters and the weather was almost like summer. The kids were able to play outside all afternoon without coats. We had so much fun with two egg hunts. first the big kids (teenagers) hid eggs for the little kids (10 and under)and then the little kids got a chance to hide eggs for the big kids to find. They thought that was so cool. Hannah was the youngest one there but she got into doing everything the other kids did.

Thursday was her 4th birthday. I wanted to spend the entire day with just the two of us so we went to the Minnesota Zoo. It was a wonderful day. Hannah had so much fun seeing all the animals and I had so much fun spending the time with her and seeing things through her eyes. She was such fun company. I keep experiencing new feelings and this day was no exception. I felt more than the joy of being her mom--I just truly enjoyed her as such a fun person to be with. When we got home I had her presents all layed out and she had so much fun opening them and playing with them. She kept saying "Thank you Mom". I was overwhelmed with how perfect a day could be. We had the best little conversation:
Me: Oh Hannah
Hannah: Oh Mama
Me: I love you so much
Hannah: I love you so much
Me: Wasn't this a great day for your birthday?
Hannah just gave me the biggest smile and then the tightest hug. I could feel her happiness and that made me the happiest I have ever been. I hated to put her to bed that night because it meant the great day was ending.

Saturday some of my family came into town and we went to the hotel so Hannah could go swimming with her cousins. She had the best time. It was fun for me too but the constant vigilence of keeping track of her, making sure she is safe in the pool, and that she is behaving is quite tiring. I am used to being the aunt who just can have fun with the kids and it is a totally different role being the caretaker and enforcer.

Hannah's baptism was Sunday. She looked like an angel and she was so good in church. I could not have been more proud. It was quite an emotional moment for me. I am not sure that Hannah understood it but she definitely knew that it was something special.
Following the baptism we had a party at a local pizza place to celebrate that and her birthday. She certainly ran off a lot of energy with her cousins and loved every minute of it. She was so busy I think the only time she stopped to eat was when we had the cake. She was excited for presents and it was fun to watch her because she would look at each present and seemed like every one was just what she wanted. Although there were so many that she actually got tired of it and quit before getting done. Mom had to open the last present for her. I just can't believe all the support that I keep getting from all my friends and family.

Now I am a very exhausted mom after all that and I dread going back to work full time. I actually don't dread the fact of working and having Hannah in daycare but I know how stressful my job was and I know that it will only take a few days to be knee deep in the stress again. I pray that I can leave it at work and just be there for Hannah when I get home.

I know my posts will decrease now but I do hope to keep up with important updates. I have so far been able to say that I haven't experienced the exhaustion that everyone says starts as soon as you get your child but I feel it coming on. Hopefully I will be pleasantly surprised.

Friday, March 26, 2010

eyesight--check, hearing--check

When I got the medical information from Russia it stated that my daughter had slight vision problems.
Today she had an assessment done by a pediatric opthalmologist and got a very good eval--20/20 vision and perfect beautiful eyes. Yes--that is what he really said but I already knew the beautiful part.
Also had a screening by a pediatric audiologist and they said her hearing is perfect too.
Earlier this week she saw a dentist and got a great report there too.
I didn't really need to have a panel of doctors tell me that Hannah is perfect but it is niced to know they agree with me.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Home 6 weeks now

Home for six weeks--it seems like such a short time and like its been forever. We have had so much to do and so much free time also.
We have been to two doctors, a dentist, visited family, had visitors, gone to parties, visited daycares and choose one, and had lots of fun times at home and at the park. I have had some serious dental work done so have had to leave Hannah with a friend twice now. I really hadn't wanted to do that so soon but I couldn't have her at the dentist with me when I was getting crowns so it happened. It actually went very well. My friend came to my house, Hannah did really well with her, and was happy to see me when I got home.
I was just looking at pictures of when I first met her and it is amazing how much bigger and brighter she looks now. She is so much more animated than at the orphanage. My mom visited the first day we were home and then was just back this week. I asked her if she noticed any differences and she said, "Well she is much more smiley and comfortable now".

I have seen really good growth in the bonding and getting to know each other.
She sat on my lap in Russia but I think it was because she thought she didn't have a choice--when we got home she did not want to do that anymore. She also didn't like me to read books to her and if I did she just sat beside me. Today she brought me a book to read and then climbed up on my lap. She sat there on my lap through the whole book. I was so happy.
She has never gotten out of bed until I have gone in and told her that she could. We cosleep at night so I am always there in the morning but for her naps I would check on her very often so that I didn't leave her laying in there for long. This past week she has started calling for me when she wakes up. She has come to trust that I am there even when she can not see me--she knows that I am out there and will come when she calls.
This morning we walked to the park. After about an hour of playing Hannah told me she was cold. I asked her if she wanted to go home and she said yes. So she started off towards home. After we had taken a few steps I felt this little hand reaching for mine and she held my hand all the way home. For any other 4 year old this may sound like just an ordinary morning but I was excited about many things. first of all she told me that she was cold--she knows she can tell me her needs. Second she wanted to go home and knew exactly where home was. And third she reached for my hand and kept holding it. This was especially big for me because I usually have to tell her that she must hold my hand and I certainly have always had to initiate it so that felt pretty cool.
This afternoon she found a packet of pictures and wanted to look at them. It happened to be pictures of her during my first trip so they were all at the orphanage. We were about half way through looking at them when she all of a sudden turned to me and wrapped her arms very tightly around my neck and held on--I don't know if she was saying "Thank you" or "Don't make me go back" but her face looked very happy so I took it as a Thank you. I just held her and told her I loved her. She then said, "I love you" back to me. I got quite a few hugs over the next few minutes. It really felt good.
Naps and bedtimes have become quite easy and fun lately which I love. I think it is partly because I can read her signals better now. She falls asleep in my arms and I hate to put her down.
I know that every day won't be quite this good but we are definitely moving in the right direction.
I am still waiting for the day that she can speak English and actually tell me what she is thinking.

Go back about three posts and you can see I had some trying moments also. One thing I did after that that has really helped is to tell all my friends and family to always redirect Hannah to me. She would often prefer to go to others when they were around so I asked them to not do anything for her but to redirect her to me. If she wants something to eat they say, "Ask your mom" or if she needs help they say, "Ask Mom to help", if she want to hold their hand when outside they say, "Hold onto Mom's hand". Even if she wants them to play with her they say, "Let's ask Mom if we can play now". I saw the difference in just one day of doing this--it really helped her to learn that I was the one she needed to go to for all things. It was awkward to ask people to do this at first but when I saw how much it helped I was so glad I did.

The love was definitely there from the very first day but this bonding--the feeling that we absolutely know each other and fit together and can trust each other--is also a process for the new mother. I am getting to know Hannah just as she is getting to know me and every day I feel more (I can't even think of the right word so I can only say "more").

I hate that I only have three more weeks off work but the truth is that I have to survive so back to work I go. It is another transition that Hannah and I will have to go through but I feel that we have started a solid enough relationship to get through it together.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Beautiful Day

Was up to 60 degrees here today and we made the most of it.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

My Healthy Girl

I took Hannah to an International Adoption Clinic yesterday and got a great report. Actually they were just able to confirm what I already know. Hannah is very healthy with no obvious problems. She has no indications of malnutrition and the doctor confirmed that she looks like she has been very well cared for. She is almost 50% for both height and weight and they told me to expect her to grow more.
Developmentally she is doing well also--there are a few gaps with some knowledge but they suspect that is due to lack of exposure. Her fine motor and gross motor skills are good.
She was so good through the whole visit and did not even make a sound during her ppd test--just put her mouth in an O shape when the needle went in. She was very cooperative with everything they wanted her to do but she was totally quiet--she did not utter a word until her and I were in the room alone.
The doctor noticed signs of attachment to me developing but gave me tips for continuing to work on that. Again it was things that I already know but was good to hear it from a professional. Attachment and bonding are the most important things to work on now and everything else should come after that.
The tips they gave me go along with what I have read and are many things that I am doing already so that was good to hear. I will list them here just in case they can help anyone else as I know that I have learned so much from other blogs.
Keep your world boring and routine as much as possible
Do not go on trips unless you have to and try to only do day trips--it is best if she only sleeps in her own home for the first 6 months. I already missed on this one but don’t have any more overnight travel planned for a long time.
Do not let anyone else hold her, feed her, dress her, comfort her, or meet any of her needs--ideally for at least 6 months
If other people are around , they always need to redirect her to Mom if she wants or needs anything
They were very happy that I was co sleeping and recommend that for as long as we both are okay with it.
Keep the bedtime routines very consistent--this I have been good at and tonight when I told her it was time for bed, she started the ritual so I think it is working.
Make a picture chart of the schedule for the day so she can see what is coming up
Work on simple education for now--letters, shapes, counting, using scissors, etc.
Do not get involved in any outside activities for a few months--it is too much right now to introduce coaches, teachers, other mom’s yet.
As a single mom I do have to return to work and have Hannah attend daycare-that will start in one month.
Their suggestions were to slowly transition to that--stay with her the first couple days, etc. They also emphasize the importance of getting there on time to pick her and never let her be the last kid picked up for the day--it may make her feel like she is being left. They also recommended having a picture of me in her cubby at daycare and that I try to go with when they have field trips at first. The other important thing is to make sure the day care provider fully understands that Hannah does have appropriate stranger or situation fear and she will need to be watched very closely.
In three months we will go back and that time will also see the International child Psychologist to assess bonding. They said that after watching us they expect it to be going good but if it has not progressed, they will give me some specific exercises to work on it.
I have to brag and include that the doctor told me that the referral pictures she got of Hannah were the cutest she has ever seen. Of course I think so but it was very nice to hear.
My sister lives near the clinic and I had planned to stay and visit her for the weekend but the doctor really confirmed that we should go home to our own house so we did.

The appt and the report were both very good. Hannah and I are doing great. The interesting thing is that when I tell my friends and family (that aren’t involved in adoption) the suggestions of the doctor they respond like it means something is wrong. I get responses like “ I am sure that everything will work itself out”, “ You and Hannah will get used to each other and find your groove”, “We are certainly praying for you” “Just hang in there--it will all come”. I know they mean only the best but I want to shout--”Nothing is wrong, this is normal for International Adoption and we are doing great already.” but I don’t (except to my closest friends). Instead I just say “thanks”.

We had a great day today and a great bedtime tonight. I am having a really good spell right now which makes me extremely happy. I have also managed to actually feel calm throughout the bedtime routine even if Hannah isn’t and that seems to help her get calm quicker.

Thanks to everyone who commented on my last post--the support and suggestions are always welcome and appreciated.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Warning--crying may occur when reading this

I will update on Hannah first as that is probably what everyone wants to hear about but then will talk about myself--afterall this is really a blog about my journey. Most of Hannah's story is hers to tell when she is ready.

Hannah is doing very well--her time clock has totally adjusted with her sleeping about 9 hours at night and then a 1.5 hour nap in the early afternoon. She has skipped her nap a couple days but does better with it. the sleeping difficulties seems to be working themselves out. She doesn't cry very much at all anymore and sometimes still takes a long time to go to sleep but sometimes she falls right to sleep. I can't complain about that.
She is understanding a lot of English that I speak and repeats many words that I say but isn't talking on her own in English yet. She can count to 10 and actually counts objects correctly and she can sing the alphabet song but she does not recognize the letters by sight yet and is still having trouble with colors. She can be very animated and playful and is a lot of fun to be with.

Hannah truly is the light of my life and when I look at her I can't believe the feelings of love I have--she is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen and I still can't believe I am her mother. good as it sounds all is not perfect all the time. Just a note to keep perspective--I am writing this after a particular trying day but we have had several perfect days also. I knew there would be many changes in my life when Hannah came and I prepared for many of them and certainly welcomed them. What has taken me surprise and what no one warned me about is how fragile my own feelings would be. I feel like an emotional wreck. I am not a crying person but have cried more than my share these last couple days.
When my friends or family visit or I visit them, Hannah would rather go with anyone else than me for playing, holding hands on the street, sitting by in church, etc. She loved my sister and I really want her to have a great relationship with my sister but it still hurt when she would repeatedly want her for fun things over me. I logically know this can be normal (especially for chldren from an orphanage) and I have even seen my own nieces and nephews do it when they were with me and asked their mom to leave. Despite having this knowledge I feel so deeply hurt by it and I can't seem to stop that feeling. Then I feel guilty because I am thinking of myself and I should be thinking of Hannah and what her needs are right now. It is all so confusing.
The other thing that is hard is that Hannah gets over everything so fast--as soon as she is done crying or whatever she acts as if nothing ever happened and wants to go on playing like nothing has changed. I am finding it hard to let go of my frustration or bad feelings that quickly but am really trying to because we have so much more fun when I can.
The emotional roller coaster of the adoption process is minor compared to real life with your child. I was a very self-assured and self confident-person before but now, not so much.

As I said I would never change a thing--Hannah lights up my life in ways I never imagined. I just have to learn how to handle all these new emotions.

My sister sent me this article that a friend of hers gave her 10 years ago when she had her first baby--she has kept it all this time and pulled it out for me. It talks about having a baby but as she said--Motherhood is Motherhood and it is the same for all of us:

We are sitting at lunch when she casually mentions that she and her husband are thinking of “starting a family.”
“We’re taking a survey,” she says, half joking. “Do you think I should have a baby?”
“It will change your life,” I say carefully keeping my tone neutral.
“I know,” she says, “no more sleeping in on the weekend, no more spontaneous vacations…”
But that is not what I meant at all. I look at my friend, trying to decide what to tell her. I want her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes. I want to tell her that the physical wounds of child bearing heal, but that becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound so raw that she will be forever vulnerable.
I consider warning her that she will never read a newspaper again with out asking, “What if that had been MY child?” That every plane crash, every fire will haunt her. That when she sees pictures of starving children, she will wonder if anything could be worse than watching your child die. I look at her carefully manicured nails and stylish suit and think that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to the primitive level of a bear protecting her cub. An urgent call of “Mom!” will cause her to drop a soufflĂ© or her best crystal without a moment’s hesitation.
I feel I should warn her that no matter how many years she has invested in her career, she will be professionally derailed by motherhood. She might arrange for childcare, but one day she will be going into an important business meeting and she will think about her baby’s sweet smell. She will have to use every ounce of her discipline to keep from running home, just to make sure her baby is all right.
I want my friend to know that everyday decisions will no longer be routine. That a five year old boy’s desire to go to the men’s room rather than the women’s at McDonald’s will become a major dilemma. That right there, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming children, issues of independence and gender identity will be weighed against the prospect that a child molester may be lurking in that restroom. However decisive she may be at the office, she will second-guess herself constantly as a mother.
Looking at my friend, I want to assure her that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, put she will never feel the same about herself. That her life, now so important will be of less value to her once she has a child. That she would give it up in a moment to save her offspring, but will also begin to hope for more years – not to accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her child accomplish theirs.
I wish my friend could sense the bond she’ll feel with women throughout history who have tried desperately to stop war and prejudice and drunk driving. I hope she will understand why I can think rationally about most issues, but become temporarily insane when I discuss the threat of nuclear war to my children’s future.
I want to describe to my friend the exhilaration of seeing your child learn to ride a bike. I want to capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog or cat for the first time. I want her to taste the joy that is so real it actually hurts.
My friend’s quizzical look makes me realize that tears have formed in my eyes.
“You’ll never regret it,” I finally say. Then I reach across the table, squeeze my friend’s hand, and offer a silent prayer for her, and for me, and for all of the mere mortal women who stumble their way into the most wonderful callings. The blessed gift of being a Mother.

Author unknown.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Home for 10 days

It is hard to believe we have been home for 10 days.
It seems like we just got here and yet it seems like we have been through so much together.
First of all I have to say that it is the most wonderful thing I have ever experienced and I still feel like it can’t be real. I have gotten very used to calling myself Mama and I really like the sound of it.
I also have to say that it is the most frustrating thing I have experienced. The frustrations all come from me—Hannah is great. I feel frustrated when I can’t understand what she wants or needs, I feel frustrated when I don’t know what to do (which is often) and I feel frustrated when I can’t seem to comfort her the way I would like to. I do think that I am a good Mom but I already wish I could be better.

We have done quite a few things for only 10 days and she is adapting well into my life and I hope she feels I am adjusting to her just as well.
She has had a few visitors—mostly family and a few friends. She warms up slowly to men but quicker to women and even quicker to children. She seems delighted to have some one to play with besides just Mom but she clearly seems to know that she stays with me.
She loves to have me around her and wants me to follow her everywhere, even into the next room to retrieve something. She doesn’t necessarily want me to do anything with her but just be there.
She is generally a very happy girl, enjoys everything, and never seems too frustrated when I can’t understand her. She understands me pretty well now but is not talking in English yet. She chatters and sings in Russian and I wish I knew what she was saying. She can sing the alphabet song if she does it with some one. She loves to play with baby dolls and her kitchen and carries her “purse” with her most places. She also loves to have her hair done and likes to do mine—she is all girl.
She has been out to dinner a few times, to bagels and coffee in the morning with the girls, and to church—she did well in all those settings.
She has also been to the swimming pool and has gone cross country skiing with her cousins—she was cautious of the pool at first but once her 8 year old cousin convinced her to go in, she loved it and cross country skiing was a hit from the start—she cried when I took her ski boots off.
I have seen little fits (tantrums) but they subside pretty quickly with “time ins” after which she repeats “I’m sorry Mama”, gives me a kiss, smiles, and goes right back to playing.
She is not very cuddly and does not like to snuggle with me (except at night) but we do get lots of good eye contact—she has really improved in that area. She freely gives me kisses but is not so quick to hug—I mostly get my hugs from games we play.
She is very smart though—she knows that I love the hugs and kisses so whenever I catch her doing something she shouldn’t be doing—she flashes her big smile and runs over to give me a hug and a kiss. How can I be mad then?

We are still trying to figure out the bedtime and naptime routine—that is the only hard thing we are going through right now. For the time in Russia and almost the first week here at home bedtimes were easy and fun. I would get her pajamas and she would be excited to put them on, we would get ready for bed, I would lay her in bed, read 3 books, say prayers, and she would then fall right to sleep while I laid with her. It was heavenly—at least for me.
On Sunday that all changed. She put up a big fuss crying and kicking when it was time for her nap and has continued that for all bedtimes since. The next day she still cried but would quiet fairly rapidly and then cling to me, not letting me put her down in bed but falling to sleep in my arms—it took a while. Now today she started screaming as soon as she saw her pajamas, cried all the way through prayers, but then quieted down nicely in my arms. Once calm she did lie down in bed but took over an hour to get to sleep.
I am not sure why this is changing but some theories are:
--she has realized that she can assert her authority for the first time without bad consequences and is doing so in a big way.
--she is very comfortable and having fun and just doesn’t want to go to sleep (bed)
--she is scared for some reason.
I think and I hope that it is the first reason. I have remained consistent in that once I start the bed time routine I do not quit and let her be up any more no matter how much she protests. I think she needs to know that I will carry through and not give in to crying. I also stay with her until she is asleep—I just feel she had enough time going to sleep on her own with no one to comfort her and I want her to know that I will always be there when she needs me. Also, it helps my bonding to be able to comfort her.

My journey to Hannah was long and difficult. I still don’t have any great insight as to why it has to be that way but I wouldn’t have it any other way because I certainly can’t imagine any different ending. I simply can not fathom Hannah and me not being together. It is the perfect ending to my long journey.

My adoption song is just as fitting as I thought it would be.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Home at last

Just wanted to update everyone that I am now home. the trip went well except for one minor (haha) little incident--will explain later. This is a long message as a lot happened since I last wrote.

The flight from Krasnoyarsk was good but delayed. Nothing was announced in English so I wasn't sure what was going on and I almost got on the wrong plane because it was boarding at the time that mine was supposed to--good thing that the ticket takers check that as you go through or who know where I would have been. So I was afraid to miss my plane and I went to wait near the gate but two old Russians ladies scolded me for having Hannah there--it was too close to the door and thus too cold for kids--so I went and waited where they told me to which was much farther away.
This put me at the back of the line when boarding started. We have to go outside on the tarmac to board and everyone was crowded around the plane and we were at the back of the crowd. It was at least 30 below zero this morning. One man saw me and started shouting in Russian. I did not know what he was shouting but pretty soon the whole crowd was shouting and the people just parted and Hannah and I were pushed up to the front for getting on the plane--apparently he was shouting something about a child and it being too cold so we got to go first. Unfortunately Hannah decided at that time she didn't want to go and she sat down. I couldn't lift her and handle my carry on luggage so some nice man took my luggage and I took Hannah. They are very protective of their children. It's pretty cool.
Hannah was perfect on the plane ride--she only slept a little but traveled well--stayed in her seat the whole time and even kept her seatbelt on.

My time in Moscow was really good. I did not like the city on my way through when I arrived but I think I was just over tired from the travel because I really enjoyed it this time (except for how expensive everything was).
The day we arrived we had to go right to a Russian Doctor that works for embassy for Hannah's medical appt. She passed with flying colors. the Doctor said that he thought she must have been a favorite at the orphanage because she did not look or act like a typical orphanage kid--meaning that she was normal size, looked healthy, and wasn't afraid of him. He did tell me to expect one big problem as she grew older--keeping the boys away. HaHa. She also had her Visa picture taken that day. We just spent the afternoon at the hotel that day so that I could rest up--Hannah didn't seem tired by the long travel but I was.
The next day was totally free so we didn't do much again. The agency lent me a stroller so I just walked all over the place around my hotel to check things out. We were out for about 2 and a half hours walking around (with Hannah in the stroller). Little did I realize at the time that I was so close to the major attractions. To me it felt warm after Krasnoyarsk but I felt bad when we got back to the hotel because Hannah was really chilled--I dressed her warm and she sat on my lap for about 30 minutes wrapped in a blanket before she wanted to get down and play--the Russian women would not have been impressed with me that day!
Friday the agency took me on a site seeing tour--to Red Square and St. Basils and Christ the King Cathedral--Everything was gorgeous. Only then did I realize that when I was out walking the day before I had come only one block away from Red Square without knowing it. They also took me to a hill overlooking the whole city which was pretty awesome. I asked about the Kremlin and they said we didn't have time to go in there so I was bummed about that. We went to the Embassy where I got all the papers needed for Hannah to immigrate to the US and that all went very smoothly also. We were done by 3pm so I decided that I wasn't going to be in Moscow and miss the Kremlin so I put Hannah in the stroller and we went on our own--it was walkable from my hotel--while I didn't spend a lot of time there I was so glad that I went--it is pretty awesome.
As I was walking around there I was thinking--"Here I am, pushing MY daughter in a stroller through Red Square and inside the Kremlin--I could never have imagined this and yet it's reality--so amazing".

We left the next morning at 4am from the hotel. While waiting for the plane in Moscow I met another couple that had been to a different region to adopt their child and were returning home. they had the exact flights as me up until Chicago--then I went to MSP and they went onto St. Louis. It was great to meet them and have some one else to navigate the airports with me--they were really nice and a great help.
the first leg of the flight to Frankfurt was uneventful.
Then--I had to go through security in Frankfurt which was quite eventful.
To back up, I had bought a Faberge Egg in Moscow and it was in my carry on bag--big mistake. When my case went through the x-ray scanner, it stopped and was never brought out. They found out it was my bag and they closed all the security lines in that vicinity and diverted all the other passengers to other checkpoints. They took Hannah and I into a small room and roped off the area and questioned me about the contents of my bag. I eventually remembered the egg and found out they thought it looked like a granede on the x-ray machine. We had to wait until a bomb squad came and denoted my egg. I was very nervous and actually started crying because it was getting so close to my flight leaving--I was envisioning being stuck in Germany. When they finally let me through I went right to the gate and onto the plane as there was no time to spare. Fortunately all turned out well and I can laugh about it now but it was not funny at the time. At least I know they are hard at work keeping America safe!
The rest of the flight was very uneventful and we arrived home as planned. Hannah slept very little but traveled like a gem. Many strangers commented about how cute she was and how good she was on that long flight.

My sister Kathy picked my up with my car and drove us home which was a good thing as I was in no shape to drive at that point. My mom and my brother and sister in law (Dave and Pat) were there also to greet us. It was really nice--they had balloons and flowers. If Hannah and I hadn't both been so tired, it would have been nice to stay and visit with them for a while but all I could think about was getting home. Hannah cried after I put her in her carseat and closed the door. I think it was because I closed the door and the rest of us were all outside and she got scared so I had to say very quick good-byes and get in the car. It took her a little while to settle down and realize that I was going with her. Being over tired didn't help.
Hannah slept the ride home but was very excited when we got in the house and she saw all her new things. She ran from thing to thing and was having a good time. It was so cute to see her playing with her kiechen and her dolls--she knew exactly what to do. She also took to my sister Kathy right away and was playing with her and talking in Russian to her--Hannah was obviously directing her play. I am sure she was glad for a new face after being sequestered in a plane with Mama for over 20 hours!

Hannah is still on Russian time and woke up at 3am. She was ready to play but Mama wasn't. I ended up falling back asleep in her bed while she played in her room and slept for 2 more hous--she was still playing. She then slept for 6 hours this afternoon. She has been just a delight this evening--alternating between entertaining herself and wanting Mama to play. We are having fun. I am hoping to get her to sleep through more of the night tonight--we'll see.

Thus ends my journey to getting my daughter home and begins my journey of being Mama!!

Here is a message from Hannah. jcrtgkvtr8uhn675ihh7nio i6uy i6yiui5--that means hello everyone.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

In Moscow--on our last leg before home

I am in Moscow. My internet time here is not free so this will be short.
The flight was okay--Hannah tolerated it pretty well and slept for a short time.
When we arrived we went directly to the Doctor that works for the embassy and he declared Hannah healthy.
then onto her picture for immigrant visa and then finally to the hotel.
we arrived at the hotel at 11:30am but because of the time change we had already been up for 12 hours so it was a long day. We just hung out at the hotel and I splurged with room service so we didn't have to go anywhere.
when I put her down for a nap at 1:30 we both slept and then I work her up at 4--I think she felt like it was night time but I didn't want her to be awake all night so I got her up.
She did well. She is changing daily--she is the not the totally shy and quiet girl that she used to be. She is more comfortable around strangers and is more talkative in public and very talkative in our room. She definitely has found her voice and she is quite a little director. I can't tell you how many times I heard "MaMa" today and sometimes it was quite demanding--but it is still music to my ears. She just keeps getting cuter.
It is very hard to take pictures of her when no one else is around--she will not hold still for me. pictures today.
We have a totally free day tomorrow while the embassy processes our paperwok and then a busy day on Friday--tour of Moscow and Embassy appt on Friday.
The Home Saturday. Yeah!!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Weekend update

Silly girl

reading to her animals she has lined up in the corner

at the restaurant

I'm writing this at 1:30pm on Monday.
Hannah is napping so Mama gets some computer time.

Sunday was another great day--we did really well together and spent most of the day in the hotel room except for going out to eat. It was just Hannah and I for lunch at the hotel cafe. Once again she ate some of my food but not what I thought she would eat. Then supper was out to a restaurant with Craig and Janet. I ordered chicken and rice and some fruit--thank goodness I ordered fruit because that is all she would eat.--oh and some ice cream for dessert.
Bedtimes have been easy but not without tears--she cries for about one minute when I tell her its time for bed but is stopped by the time I get her there. She listens to me read the only three books that I brought and then she goes to sleep with her animal in her hand and her thumb in her mouth--it is so sweet. She does the same at naptime but falls asleep almost instantly then.
This morning we went to the hotel buffett for breakfast and she finally ate some protein--one and a half boiled eggs, three chicken meatballs, two pieces of cheese, and some bread with jelly. That is definitely the most she has eaten at one setting.
She is talking to me quite a bit but I don't understand most of it. She still clams up when strangers are around which I think is a good thing. She is definitely more comfortable as she was yelling in the hotel hallway today. That is the first time I have heard her be loud in public. She listens pretty well though when I tell her not to do something or to do something--sometimes she says no first but she usually does it.
Today we are going out to get her passport with her new name. It is minus 31 degrees so that will be our only outing today.
I haven't talked much about her name. She was called Rah-ya at the orphanage and answers to that but she also knows her name of Hannah. I have been calling her Hannah all the time because that is just how I think of her and she definitely knows it so that transition is going well too.
sleeping and eating are our big events--between those times Hannah plays--sometimes with me and sometimes without me. She is always busy and is very busy--she knows which things are hers and which are Mama's and she leaves mine alone. When we play together we read books, color, or I just follow her around. I have tried to do some more physical stuff like chase her and grab her, toss her around, lift her up and down, dance and sing or yell (she is so quiet)--she laughs at first but it seems that as soon as she realizes we are both having fun she wants me to stop so it never lasts for very long. I did have a kids movie in my laptop this am and she started out sitting by me and gradually wound up laying beside me with her head leaning on my stomach and kind of snuggled in--that was the same thing, once she realized how comfortable she was up against Mama she moved. The only time she stays snuggled into me is when she is asleep so I enjoy it then.
In many ways I am anxious to get home but in some ways I am enjoying these days of just her and me without any outside distractions.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Best Day of my far

WOW--where do I begin---my first day as a mother is over and I have a little angel sound asleep in my bed.

The day started out with going to some official office and signing my life away again and then we got the adoption decree and the new birth certificate that states my name as Hannah's mom. that was pretty cool to see.
Then back to the hotel to wait--I was so anxious.
They brought Hannah to me in the hotel lobby at about 11:00--when she walked through the door and saw me, she tried to hold back and she wasn't real keen on coming to me at first but she did stay with me. My friend Janet was there to film it for me but I haven't watched it yet. That initial meeting was the hardest part of our day so I am not sure I want to see it just yet.
I was supposed to take her upstairs to change her clothes and then give them the orphanage clothes back so I rushed off with Hannah in tow only to get to my room and find out that I had left my purse, camera, and room key down in the lobby--I had Hannah in my arms and that was all that mattered. So I had to go back to the lobby and they were ready to leave so they didn't wait for the orphanage clothes--they will pick them up on Monday.
And then we started our day together......
She loved changing into new clothes and especially her new shoes. We played around for a while and she got used to the room--the light switches have been on and off many many times but I have allowed that so I can't complain. In fact, we made a game of it. There were some "time Ins" where I held her on the couch--she purposely did things that she knew she wasn't supposed to and they were dangerous--like playing with the plug ins or climbing in the closet. She hated the time ins and after about three we didn't need any more.
I gave her apple juice which promptly ended up all down the front of her so that got her a shower-which she enjoyed except for the hair washing--and outfit number 2. Then mom washed her clothes in the sink as I don't have enough outfits to go through 2 every day.
For lunch I ordered her Borscht (beet soup) because I thought it would be something that would be familiar to her but she wouldn't touch it so it was just yogurt, oranges, and bread for lunch. I ate most of the Borscht--it is okay but not my favorite.
After lunch I tried a nap-that is her routine but she would have none of that. so on to plan B.
I took her outside to the ice sculptures just for some play time and to get out of the room. Once again she loved getting into her new snowsuit and boots and mittens--she loves mittens. We were out for about a half hour--she would have stayed longer but that is enough in this cold. We just ran around--she loved watching people and she got her first pony ride which she really loved.
Wendi and Trevor came over (from their apt.) with their son Nik to visit and then Janet and Craig came down also--I have the biggest room so we met here. Once other people came, Hannah got very quiet again and hung pretty tight to Mama which of course I was so happy about. She did play with Janet a little but always came back to me.
All 7 of us went to a restaurant for supper. Both kids did really well there. Hannah sat on my lap the whole time. I ordered a baked potato with sour cream for her because I know they eat that alot but again she wouldn't touch it. I had ordered spinach ravioli and she loved that so we shared.
After supper we played in the room some more and had fun again.
Her normal bedtime is 9:00pm so I got out her pajamas at 8:15 and changed her anticipating a long process. I put her pajamas on, put her in bed with no fussing, and read her three books, and then turned the lights out and got into bed with her--that was the only thing that caused fussing and she turned her face away and put her hands over her eyes. But she was too tired to fuss for long--she fell asleep while I was saying our prayers. The whole process was only about 10 minutes. I know every night won't be like this but it was a good first night--I do wish she would have been able to look at me while falling asleep but hopefully that will come also.
Now I just stare at her and can't believe this little miracle that is my daughter and is lying in my bed--How amazing is that?
It has been a long journey and I still can't believe I am here but the little person I hear breathing behind me is living proof.
I am a Mom!!!

Friday, January 29, 2010


There are three of us here on our second trip that have completed court and none of us got to visit our children on Thursday or Friday of this week so we stuck together. Both days started out leisurely and I got some reading done.

Thursday we met up for lunch at our favorite--Mama Roma's and had a great time. I found the book store I remembered from the first trip and got two books about wildlife in Siberia that has Russian and English explanations. Luke and Annika (my nephew and niece) are going to love looking at those and it will be a good thing for Hannah.
Then we headed over to Wendi and Trevor's apartment and watched movies in English. We took drinks and snacks and just sacked out there for the whole rest of the day. It was relaxing, comfortable, and fun. The walk home at night was a little cold but we are enjoying the fresh air.

On Friday morning I switched rooms in the hotel to a bigger one with a living area --to prepare for having Hannah with me. My small room just wouldn't do the trick--she needs room to play. It is really nice and I still have a view of the river.
Then Janet and I went out and purchased ballet tickets for tonight--that is right-- the Russian ballet in a Russian theatre.

We met another new couple today and they, like everyone else, are extremely nice. Unfortunately we just ran into them and they are leaving tomorrow. We all had dinner together at Bankok--great asian food. The company was really good and as usual the talk usually ends up centering around the children.--we all feel so blessed.

Janet, Craig, and I ended up being the only ones going to the ballet. The show playing was Anyota. I have never heard of it but it was simply magical. the music, dancing, and stage settings were all fabulous--a most enjoyable evening.
I am so glad that I got the experience and I can tell Hannah I went to a Russian ballet while I was waiting for her to come home!
Got home around 10:00 pm and now need to get to bed and rest up--the real fun begins tomorrow. Hope I can sleep.