Friday, October 28, 2011

Two years

Two years ago today:
I met Hannah for the first time--in a visiting room in an orphanage in Sosnovaborsk, Russia--half way around the world.
She was shy, timid, very quiet, and absolutely perfect.

I looked back at my diary from that day. I wrote a pretty long detailed entry about the first visit with Hannah after I had processed it all but driving home from the orphanage I jotted down my first impression and it said:

She is the sweetest thing! My heart is full! She looked at my picture and said "Mom"!! I don't exactly feel like her mother yet but it came naturally to hug her, kiss her, and say "I'll love you forever". I got some smiles today but no real laughs. I can't wait to hear her laugh.

Two year update:
She is still the sweetest thing.
My heart is still full.
I absolutely feel like her Mother--because I am!!
It still feels natural to hug her, kiss her, and tell her "I love you forever." is natural for her to give me hugs and kisses and say "I love you Mom--YOu are in my heart."
She laughs all the time and it sounds as wonderful as I thought it would.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Great weekend

The weekend started out with no definite plans at all--these are usually the best kind.
And the weather was glorious--high 60's on Sat., 70's on Sunday and both were very sunny. Great Indian summer.

Saturday morning was just a casual morning at home--we stayed in bed late (8am). We were up at the usual time (6am) but watched cartoons and played in bed until 8. I putzed around the house doing dishes, starting laundry, etc. while Hannah played. She plays so nicely by herself in the mornings. It just felt nice and comfortable--just our normal life. I still revel in that feeling--that Hannah and I have this normal life together.

We finally got going around noon.
Started our day purchasing tickets for Disney Live that is coming to town in Nov. Hannah thought the show was right away. No matter what suggestion I brought up for the rest of the day, she said "But, we have to see the show first". It took a while but she finally gave into the knowledge that the show was many days away.
Had lunch together at Panera and she was nearly a model for good restaurant behavior--that doesn't always happen so I was a happy Mama.

Our next stop was Oxbow Zoo--a small local zoo that Hannah really enjoys. She got to feed the goats and deer and pet the cows and horses so she was in heaven. We also ran into her Pre-K teacher from last year and spent some time with her and her daughter. We ended up spending almost 4 hours there. Just as we were walking past the bird cages to leave, they started feeding the eagles and owls. The owls eat mice and the eagles eat pocket gophers. They really tore at the poor little dead animals. I thought it was gross but it became the highlight of the day for Hannah. She can't wait to tell her friends.

Next stop--Lion King movie in 3D. Hannah loves the show so I knew it would be a big hit. She kept the glasses on all the way until the last 15 minutes and then all of a sudden she wanted to take the off. It was pretty cool but I decided that 3D was not cool enough to pay the extra money for.

After getting home, we were going to play baseball for a bit and just as we went outside, some neighborhood kids and their mom were walking by on their way to the park. Baseball did not hold the same excitement for Hannah so we tagged along to the park. Kids played until dark and had a blast.

After that I had one happy and sleepy kid--bedtime was easy.

Sunday was another great day.
Donut Sunday at church so that always starts it out right.

Did a quick and light lunch today--gave Hannah a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a banana, and some chips. When she got done she said "That was a very yummy lunch Mama-thank you". Guess she has simple tastes.

I got my car washed and the garage cleaned out--both were big jobs, especially the garage. Hannah alternated playing, riding her bike, and watching movies while I worked on the garage. At one point she said, "Why do yo always have to be busy?"
I have so many more jobs on my to-do list but it felt great to have these two done.

Just as I was getting done with the garage, Hannah came with the ball and bat to play baseball so we did that. It started out with me pitching and her hitting and then we switched roles. Hannah said "I need to practice so I get better". She did great in my opinion. I am not athletic at all and never have been. I did hit more balls than Hannah but that is only because her pitching is better than mine. I was quite proud of her--she was pretty focused on practicing and kept at it for quite a while. Everytime I would hit a ball she would squeel with delight and yell "Good one Mom" and if I missed she would say "That's okay--it's just practice".
It is nice to hear them copy the nice things you say.

Had swimming lessons tonight. She almost fell asleep on the way there which is not a good thing. When she gets her second wind but is still tired she can get so silly and hard to calm down. At the end of class her teacher said, "Boy--she was full of energy tonight, but that's okay--she was having fun." Just what I expected. Thank heavens for an understanding teacher.

Our conversation on the way home from swimming:
Hannah--Oh no Mom, we forgot to practice my letters.
Me--You are right and Ms. Drinkall said you need to practice your letters every day.
Hannah--but you forgot.
Me--with a little laugh--Oh, I forgot huh. I thought you were supposed to tell me.
Hannah--Oh, oopsie daisy. Sory Mama
Me--That's okay--how about if we remember together from now on. Deal?
Hannah--Deal. That is a great plan Mama.

Hannah has never been too excited to be in the learning mode with me as teacher but something changed this week. She has been quite agreeable and willing to do "school work" this week. She's been excited to work on her letters and it's been so fun doing that with her. She also had two little books sent home with her to read. I thought I would have to pursuade her to read them to me but she saw them tonight she was very excited to read them to Mom. She still reads by saying what is going on in the pictures but she did an awesome job.

She is a great kid and we had such a good time together.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I have a kindergartener

Kindergarten started Sept. 6th and the first day was great. She looked so cute and had such a good day. I took the day off so I was able to take her in just for the school hours--no before and after school care on this day. We had ice cream afterwards to celebrate this milestone.
Not every day at shool has been quite as wonderful. She still needs some reminders for sitting still and listening but is doing well. She is having to think and learn at a more intense level than preschool demanded and it shows. She is sleeping more--last week she fell asleep on the way home from school twice. The other day getting ready she said "Mom, I don't want to learn, I just want to play". Yeah--I know honey, sometimes I feel that way about work too.
Overall she is doing so well and I am so proud of her.

It's been a fun fall.
We had our first trip to an apple orchard with friends. It was lots of fun--they had animals and hay rides and other fun stuff for kids to do--but it hardly felt like fall as it was 80 degrees that day. Just noticed that we only have two apples left from that trip so we need to go back.

Our local nature center is one of Hannah's favorite places and they had a Fall Festival that we were able to attend. Hannah's favorite part is to see the snakes, fish, turtles, and other animals and it still was her favorite that day but they also had a kids carnival so we bought tickets and she got to play games, make crafts, and have her face painted. Oh--one of the big highlights was getting hot chocolate--she loved it and has asked for it almost every day since.

Spent a weekend at my Brother's for my Mom's birthday. Hannah's little cousin Mary Lou lives there and they have horses and dogs so Hannah was in heaven. Too bad we don't live closer.

She also attended a friend's birthday at Chuck E. Cheeses--"the coolest place ever". Since then she has asked everyone we see to come to her birthday. Good thing April is a long time away--I am counting on the fact that most of them will forget all about it.

Had a dentist appointment yesterday and she has her first cavity. Even though the dentist said it would only take 5 minutes, we had to make an appt to come back and have it filled.

Her personality is showing through more and more all the time.
She can get frustrated easily and I hear lots of grunts and other frustrated noises when she is doing something and it doesn't go right. I keep telling her "That's okay--just try again". When I turned at the wrong corner one day and said "Oh no--this is the wrong street" I hear a little voice from the back seat say "That's okay mom, just try again". It is always nice to have some confirmation that she really does listen.
When going from point A to point B she takes every detour she can find. One day when we needed to get going in a hurry I said, "Hannah just go straight to the car--don't stop and do anything on the way" She quickly replied, "But Mom--you just don't understand me!" And yes, she is only 5.
She is also such a sweetheart and gives me lots of hugs and kisses.
She continues to make up her own songs. The other day in the car she sang "I love my mommy, my mommy loves me, and we are together always because we are a family". I was smiling in the front seat for a long time.
She has never met my Dad as he passed away a little over a year before she came home but the other day she looked sad and said "I just miss my Grandpa" and then she started singing "I miss my Grandpa. He is my Grandpa and I really love him. And it makes me sad because I miss him and now he lives with God" Maybe it should have made me feel sad but really it just lit up my heart--she gets it and knows that he is a very important part of our lives even though she hasn't met him.
Oh, How I love that little girl.

She teaches me so much all the time. One of the big lessons recently was patience. She reminded me that I need to wait and reallly listen to others even if they are taking a while to get it said---what they have to say may be very important.
We were in the car, I was slightly frustrated from trying to get her in the car on time and then trying to hurry to get where we needed to be when she said "Mama" and I responded, "Yes Honey". I only heard a long pause with an occassional "um" thrown in so I said again "What honey". I still only got the same response so I was just ready to say something like "Just spit it out Hannah--what do you want?". I actually had my mouth open but just before I made any sound I heard a very meek voice say "I just really love you". Awwwww--all my frustration just melted away and I learned the importance of patience.

I have my moments too--I went through a week recently where I was just out of sorts and generally crabby. My life felt overwhelming and I felt that I just wasn't doing a good job at any of it--my job, my parenting, my friends, my finances, my housekeeping, etc. Then all of a sudden I snapped out of it. Nothing has really changed--I still have a messy house, I still wish I was home with Hannah more, had more time with friends, and less time at work and I wish I had more money in the bank's my life and I am happy with it.
Motherhood does require some sacrifices but the payback is so worth it.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Summer's End

Tomorrow is our last big Hurrah for the summer--a trip to the "Great Minnesota Get Together"--our State Fair. And then Kindergarten starts......

We have had a great summer--our second together.
We did all the usual things that I did before Hannah like a week's vacation at the Lake with my sister and her family and our annual McNab Family Campout with the whole family. Both were more fun with Hannah. I had a good timetoo but It was the most fun to watch her having so much fun. She ran and played and swam and just loved being with her cousins--she is the youngest but she holds her own pretty well. Last year she was that much younger and everything was still so new to her that I had to really supervise her more, direct her more, and be there for the meltdowns. This year she just blossomed--she did great playing all day with her cousins, came to me for anything she needed, and had no meltdowns at all. It was so fun.

We also did some new things for Hannah--
A trip to my Aunt and Uncles over the fourth of July. They live on a lake and my brother was there with his family also. We had a blast and the two little girls stayed in the water most of the time--Hannah became really comfortable in the lake and was swimming all over with a life jacket on.

And some new things for both of us--
I enrolled her in two organized kids sports--a baseball camp for four weeks and a "sports sampler" where they learned four different sports. She was not a fan. After the first day at baseball camp she would tell me "Mom, I told you I don't like this" and she would rather play in the sand in the outfield than participate in the game. She didn't really like the sampler either. I made her stick them both out but we were both glad when they ended. I think next we will try things like dance or gymnastics to see if she likes them better. I would like ice skating too.

She is such a girlie-girl. She obsesses with her hair, always wants to wear dresses, and must pair the right shoes with them. I have to convince her to wear pants to the park and other play things where pants are best. Except for wearing dresses, it fits my personality too so I have no complaints. She is fun to dress up.

Her summer daycare was called "Explorer's Club" and she had a great time there. They went on field trips twice a week--to fun places like mini golf, bowling, movies, a really cool toy store, a climbing gym, local parks and fitness centers, and also learning things like the Eagle center, a cave, the library, and others I can't think of now. At the beginning of the summer she had trouble staying focused, staying with the group, etc but she really grew throughout the summer and I got consistently good reports for the last 2/3 of the summer--in fact the teachers told me she was most improved and that she was the most polite. I was very proud.

She really has matured lately and has been such a sweetheart--I can't even remember her last timeout because she is listening so much better. Here is one example:
The other night I had a haircut and color appointment and my babysitter cancelled. I could not find anyone so I took her with for a nearly two hour appt. I was very scared how it would go but she did awesome. She was very well behaved the whole time. I did bring my laptop with a movie so she watched that part of the time but she also occupied herself while staying in one place and not messing with anything at the hair salon. She even engaged my hairdresser in conversation. She won over my hairdresser and I was told I could bring her anytime.
She still has many five year old moments but there are days that I can't believe how easy she is to parent. I often look at her and wonder how I got so blessed., after tomorrow summer comes to an end I really do think Hannah is ready for kindergarten. Am I that's another story.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Attachment and Love is an active process and evolves (changes) over time.

In the beginning Hannah would say "I love you" in response to me saying it. I am sure it was at least in part because she knew that was what was expected.

After starting Daycare and hanging with her little friends I started getting big hugs and smiles with a very sincere "I like you Mom". This felt so good because it was so sincere and I knew that in her world "I like you" was the highest compliment and meant I really like to spend time with you.

Then at some point Hannah started saying "I love you" spontaneously without me saying it first. As monumental as this is and for wonderful it feels you would think I would remember the first time but...sad to say I don't.

Lately she has been very generous with her "I love you"s to me. She frequently reaches her hand out to me or slides up to me and then gives me a big smile, says "I love you" and follows it with a hug.

I am in heaven!!!!!

This past week on vacation Hannah played hard with her cousins and three other nice kids they met at the resort. They had wonderful fun and Hannah seemed to hardly notice me but she definitely noticed when I wasn't right around and she hollered for me when she was hungry, needed to go potty, or needed help in general. I guess that is the role of a Mother.

Adoption in our lives

Hannah has never really talked about her time in Russia or her life before me but every now and then the realization hits one of us in some small or big way. I try to be very open and matter of fact about it like it is just part of our life, because it is--just part of our story.

Some of the ways it has shown itself:

1. At one time she came across my pictures from my visits with her at the orphanage. This was early on when she wasn't able to express herself in English very well. About half way through them she just put them away and turned to me with a big long hard hug. I couldn't tell if she was saying "Thanks for bringing me home" or "Don't make me go back" but she hung on for dear life.

2. She knows that she had a first mom in Russia and then went to live in the orphanage but has never asked why. She also is keenly aware that she doesn't have a Dad and will often say her Dad is sick and is in Russia. I haven't really figured out how to handle the birth father thing yet--partly because I don't know any facts and partly because there is no current father that has take over that role. She really likes other Dad's. She loves my brother's and brother in laws and all of her friends Dads.

3. One day when she was really sad about something she said she wanted to go back to Russia because she missed her kids. I had some video of the group of kids from her orphanage so we watched that--she sat enthralled but did not want to talk about it when done.

4. We were watching a movie where a horse licked an icicle and his tongue got stuck so we talked about why that happens with ice and Hannah said, "I did that before" and when I responded "You did??" she said "Yes--when I was little in Russia" and I then asked what she licked and she said "Just the fence". Again--is it real or not? I just don't know but it could be.

5. the most recent happened on vacation this past week and tugged at my heart strings. It happened very unexpectedly. We were in an ice cream shop and eating our ice cream. A young couple with a baby sat down at the table next to me and the wife held the baby and talked baby talk to him and generally cooed over him. Hannah stared at this for a bit and then asked "Mom when I was a baby who did that to me?" is not an overwhelming topic every day but it is in our lives every day. I just hope I can provide the right answers at the right time and always make her feel very loved.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

words, concepts, language

It seems to me that Hannah has had a huge jump in comprehension and use of her language--she is grasping concepts that I think are quite advanced. I don't know if I can explain it very well goes...

She fixes her own hair every morning and almost always makes one ponytail. However she is obsessed with her hair and refixes it multiple times per day. So I thought I would give her some new ideas and I fixed her hair in a new style that I thought she would really like. She took one look in the mirror and said "It is pretty Mom but actually, I like it better this way" and promptly undid it and made one ponytail again.

When I was putting her in her car seat the other morning she started the follwoing conversation.
Hannah--Mom will you get married some day?
Me---I don't know but maybe
Hannah--Well I need to find you a boy (small pause) Where is a boy??
Me--that is the big question Hannah. I don't know where.
Hannah looked pensive and then said "Well,you can dance alone"

She was sitting on the potty and wrinkled her nose and said "Ewwwwww"
I said "Oh--is your kaka stinky?" and she very seriously answers, "No, isn't. It is something outside but I don't know what."

We had a fun afternoon playing in our neighborhood park with a couple neighbor boys. Tonight while we were eating Hannah said "I want to play with Stefan and Milan so I will pray to God" and then she folded her hands and looked up to heaven and said,
"Dear God, I want to play with Stefan and Milan again someday because I really like them. Please Please God. Thank you God"

She also has grand ideas. She asked me for a barn. She thinks if she just has a barn she can have a horse a pony, a cow, a goat, chickens a bunny, a dog, and a cat. I am sure she will think of more animals to put in there too. I haven't checked with my townhome assn to see if that will be a problem or not--haha.

Every night when I put her to bed she asks "What is in the morning?". I usually tell her school or on Sat. night I say "Church". Last night I told her the morning was Saturday and she asked "Saturday--no school, no church?" When I told her that was right, she let a very enthuiastic "Yay".
Saturday morning is the favorite for both of us. She still wakes up at 6 or 6:30 but she turns on my bedroom TV and sits in bed with me. She watches cartoons and plays in bed while I alternate with playing with her and dozing off. We finally get out of bed about 8am and make breakfast together. It is the best day.

I suppose none of these things really qualifies her for genius status but..she seems pretty brilliant to me (in more ways than one).

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hannah and Mommy's story

I have a friend who adopted before I did and has been an inspiration, a cheerleader, an advice giver, and a good supporter all through my adoption journey to Hannah.

Today I received an email from her with a link to a book she had made for her daughter that told their story to becoming a family. It was one of the sweetest things I have ever seen. She explained how she told that story to her daughter every night. It started out as a little story and grew as her daughter asked for more and more details and finally participated in the story telling herself. I could tell that the ritual of telling this story was something very precious and special to both of them and she had it made into a book they could keep forever.

I had the wonderful priviledge of reading the book in it's entirety and was really moved.
I have told Hannah basic parts of her adoption story and her beginnings but after reading this story I realized that I had never told the story from start to finish to Hannah so...
on the ride hoem from daycare today I asked Hannah if she wanted to hear the Hannah and Mama story. She said yes and the rest is history. Hannah and Mama's story was made up--in very crude form as I was talking off the top of my head--and Hannah soaked it up. she was enthralled and participated in the details and asked questions "why was I scared Mama". She was really engaged and it was fun. As soon as I got done she said "Now can you tell the story of Belle and the beast? Please Mama". A bit of an abrupt ending for me but I switched gears and told the story of Belle and the beast.

Tonight after reading her two books for bedtime, she asked "Can you tell the Hannah sotry again" and so I did. She was just as engaged and it was a really fun bonding time for both of us.

Once again, Louann, you are a genious and very creative. Thank you so much for this idea. We now have a new favorite bedtime story. I may just have to steal the printed book idea from you also.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A moment of panic

Today Hannah asked to see the movies of Hannah--which means the videos I have on my camcorder of her. My camcorder is a hard drive with pretty big memory and I have not downloaded any of my videos since the first visit to Russia so we just hook up the camera and watch them.
Today we I hooked up the camcorder and there were no videos on it--NONE!. I thought I must have done something wrong and tried everything I knew to try with the camera but NOTHING! This meant I had no videos of Hannah, no videos of the orphanage or Russia, no video of our Gotcha moment, etc. I freaked out and Hannah couldn't understand what happened. Finally I convinced myself to calm down and think. I called Sony and asked if their was any way to recover deleted videos. They said YES! It isn't free but all I had to do was send them my camcorder and they would recover it and put it on a DVD for me. I mailed it in today. Of course there are no guarentees but I am hopeful again.
I will keep you updated.

Friday, May 6, 2011

My little drama queen

A month ago for her birthday I took Hannah to the musical "Beauty and the Beast". I knew she had fun but today I really found out how much she enjoyed it.

I don't why it took her a month to do this but she wanted to play "Belle" and of course she was Belle.
I played the parts of the Beast, the Prince, and Belle's father. She told me the scenes she wanted to play and then we acted them out. She played Belle mad, sad, and very happy. Boy did she nail all the emotions complete with appropriate body language.
It scared me a little bit how well she acted out meeting the prince when she said "I really really love you Prince" and gave me a big kiss on the mouth. Oh my--she is only five.
I think I may have an actress on my hands.

This princess thing has really gotten to her bad. I decided I have to do some reprogramming after we had the following conversation today at her pretend kitchen:

H:--Lets eat together
me: Okay, lets have soup.
H;--You make it
me:--Aren't you going to make it?
H--No, I don't like to cook
me:--but I would like your help
H:--Princesses don't cook!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Another great day

Had another awesome day.

It started out with the best part. I made oatmeal for breakfast and we were just sitting there eating it when Hannah turned to me, put her hand on my arm, and said "You are my best Mom forever. I don't want to get another mom ever". I just smiled, hugged her, and reassured her we would be together forever. I sure do love that girl.

Had a morning birthday party for one of her classmates at "Bounce World". The party was a good time and the kids had a blast. Afterwards Hannah and two of her friends, Zara and Peter, stayed and played in the bouncy houses for another 90 minutes. It was fun to sit and talk with the other two Mom's during that time and discuss all kinds of kid things and also get to know them better too. Hannah and her two friends had such a good time together--it was so fun to watch them.

The three hours of bouncing really wore her out. When I told her it was time for a nap, she said "Yay" and practically ran to the bed. That has never happened before.

Tonight I hosted a little play date at our house. Two of my friends came over --one has a two year old and the other has a three year old and a one year old. They took a little while to warm up but all the girls played very well together. Toys Toys everywhere but so much fun.

That is my life now--the best days are when Hannah has a great time and I can enjoy it too.
I love my life!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

5 years old

My baby is 5 years old and is quick to tell me that she is a big girl. She has progressed through all the stages so fast since coming home that it seems like I had such a short time with her as a little girl so I miss that and yet I enjoy her more and more every day so I can’t wish her to stop growing and changing. It just keeps getting better which seems impossible because it is so good now.

We had such a fabulous birthday weekend. Now I am sitting here on Sunday evening with my baby sleeping and quietly enjoying the feeling of how perfect it was. It is hard to imagine life getting any better.

Friday was the actual birthday day and it started out with a visit to the International Adoption Clinic for a one year follow up assessment. We talked a lot about Hannah, what she is doing, how she is acting, how our days go, etc. We had a two hour visit and our Doctor was amazed. She confirmed to me that Hannah is transitioning and bonding very well and appears to be a very happy and stable child. She does not see the normal concerns that come with institutionalization or the possibility of alcohol exposure and is was very pleased with everything she observed and heard. At the end of our assessment she really validated me by saying “We have talked all about Hannah but this is not all about her--this is about you too, You are a great mom and are doing a great job.” Of course, that made my day. She did not recommend anymore follow up with the International Adoption Clinic unless I felt the need at some point. Yay!!
She is really growing since coming too--at five years she is 75% for height and 90% for weight. Guess I am feeding her a little too well!

We had to travel to Minneapolis for that visit and it ended just about noon so we walked to Applebee’s and had Hannah’s birthday lunch. I had French dip sliders with a spinach/shrimp salad--so yummy--and Hannah had Mac N Cheese. Then she got a free brownie and ice-cream for her birthday. When we got done, Hannah said “That was a really yummy lunch Mom-thank you.” She is so sweet. She napped most of the way home and we had a fun evening just playing together.

Saturday morning was a whirlwind as we ran around town picking up birthday cake, balloons, and last minute details for her “My Little Pony” party. I was a little nervous but it all worked out so well. My sister and her daughter came for the weekend. Her daughter is 8 years old and Hannah just idolizes her so that made her birthday that much more special. And the cake--it turned out cute. When we went to the bakery Hannah described what she wanted by saying “horses with grass and flowers and clouds”. The lady taking the order seemed a little perplexed so I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. The cake decorator must really understand kids because it turned out better than I could imagine. Hannah absolutely loved it and was so excited that it had “just what she wanted”. I love that bakery.

The party was at our local Nature Center and we had 17 kids enjoying the fun. The Naturalist at the party did a little show so the kids got to learn about toads, frogs, and salamanders and also touch them all. The Naturalist did a great job. He captured all the kids attention and kept all 17 kids orderly, quiet, and entertained for about 40 minutes. Then we had pizza, cake, and ice-cream and about 10 minutes of kids running around like crazy before the party was finished. The kids all had a great time and Hannah was so happy which made me happy. Most of the parents stuck around too and they all seemed very pleased. Several of the kids and their parents stayed after the party and enjoyed the animals and small museum that the center has. It gave Hannah more time with her friends and kept her busy while I cleaned up the party room. Overall a huge success.

I have a group of local adoption friends that all have younger kids than Hannah. Including them with our class party would have been too much but if I could add anything to the Birthday weekend it would have been to get together with them also. They are such good friends and have been great support to me.

Saturday evening we attended our Civic Theatre’s production of “Beauty and the Beast”--the Broadway Musical version. We went with my sister and her daughter and a good friend of mine with a daughter Hannah’s age. It was beautifully done. The girls were enthralled and we all enjoyed it. A highlight for Hannah was getting to talk to Belle after the show. The one bummer for me was that I didn’t bring a camera so I couldn’t take a picture of her and Belle.

It was about 10:15pm when we got home so Hannah fell asleep in my arms during our prayers. When she woke up in the morning the first thing she said to me, “Mama--can we see Belle in the show again later?”

Sunday was church of course and she was very well behaved--my big 5 year old girl. Then another meal out for Hannah’s birthday--this time breakfast at Perkins. Then back home for more playtime with her cousin which was the best part of the whole weekend. Watching those two girls play was heart-filling. They had toys spilled out all over the house and were very creative in their play. Most of the time they were playing together but occasionally separately (side by side) but they were always content. It made me realize the value of siblings. I never once heard “Play with me Mom” or “Can I watch a movie” which is what I hear when I can’t play with her. My sister and I were able to enjoy conversation time without interruption.
Since a sibling is not in the plans, I have resolved to make sure she spends more time with cousins--there is nothing better than loving family.

It was a sunny day with temps in the 70’s and despite the strong winds, it felt like a summer day. Hannah and I went to the park after my sister left. She seemed really ready to just play with Mama and we had a fun time--the playground equipment is our castle and sometimes she wants me to be the mean king that chases her and sometimes the good queen that saves her. Since it rained all last night we came home from the park a little muddy so a bath followed right away. Then on to swimming lessons which is a highlight of her week always.

It was almost bedtime when we got home and I had one happy but tired girl so bedtime was easy and once again she fell asleep in my arms--this time she made it through prayers but just barely.
So…as I said at the beginning of my post…I am sitting here recounting what a perfect weekend we had and wondering how my life got so good. I believe other parents who say it just keeps getting better but right now it is hard to contemplate “better”.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Mommy is all better

Just a quick update:
Mommy finished her second round of antibiotics and is finally back to her old self. Hannah happily welcomed the old routine back and decreased her won TV watching time. When we got home from school today, she said "No movies today Mommy--just play with me". So--we have been having fun evenings again.

For two full weeks I have gotten great reports regarding Hannah at school--she has been focusing and listening well, no problems with her best friend, and she has been helping her teachers more. She has been really great at home too. I am not naive enough to think this will last forever but I am sure enjoying it now.

Funny story:
Last night during prayers Hannah said "Thank you God for a very fun day" and then she immediately lowered her voice to sound manly and loudly said "You're welcome Hannah"--As if God was answering her. I couldn't help but laugh outloud.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sick Mommy and other random updates

I have learned just how hard it is to be a good mommy when you feel crappy yourself. I have now been home sick for 10 days, am on my second round of antibiotics and am just starting to turn the corner. Hopefully back to work tomorrow.
I have been very thankful for a good preschool so that Hannah can still have some stimulating learning and playing time while I get to rest. Her level of energy is hard when I feel sick.
We have developed a couple new habits that will have to change back when I am full speed again and working again.
--We have slept in--which means about 30 minutes later than usual--and have been able to get ready at a more relaxed pace with breakfast at home. Starting tomorrow we will have to get up earlier, get ready faster, and have breakfast at school again. I hope it goes well as we have both enjoyed these more leisure mornings.
--Movies, Nick Jr., and PBS--oh my. This will be a bad habit to break. I found out just how much Hannah relied on me for her entertainment and play. She is not very good at playing with her toys all by herself and since Mommy was worn out after about 20 minutes of any kind of play, I allowed a lot more TV time than we are used to. As hard as it will be to cut it back down, it got me through so I am grateful for that.
Hannah has been very sweet most of the time. She has cradled my face and said, "I am so sorry I can't make you better." and melted my heart. She has been very patient when I wasn't able to talk, she brings me Kleenix and anything else I need, and has shown great empathy. I asked her what she talked about at church school last night and she said "I prayed for my Mama because she has a bad throat and she has a cough". Aww--melt my heart.
She has also had a level of independence greater then usual as I lay on the couch for a few days and dozed on and off. Sunday afternoon when I took a nap, she found my good scissors and decided she didn't like her hair in her face so she cut herself some very short bangs. She actually did a pretty decent job and she still looks adorable but....we had just grown out her bangs and they were finally fitting in her pony tail. Oh well.

Other Hannah updates:
She completed her first cross country ski race--an event called the Barnebirkie that is held in Hayward, Wi. and had a great time. She skiied one kilometer while her cousins did the longer events--3K and 5K. There are a few hundred kids in the event and every kid that crosses the finish line gets a medal so of course, she felt like a winner and was very excited. It was a beautiful day and I had fun walking along with her on the course. The other benefit was staying in a hotel with her cousins and getting in lots of swimming time--so fun. We will go back next year.

I had the school district do all the special education testing to see if Hannah met the criteria for any extra help before or after starting kindergarten. She was awesome and her test scores amazed the evaluators. She is socializing well, and all her education scores were in the average range--well above the need for special help. Her vocabulary tested average and her mean length of utterance (MLU) was actually above the average for her age. To see how far she has come in the last year has been amazing. She still has some trouble staying focused and for some reason naming her colors is alluding her but everything else was great. I am so proud of my little honey.
Making a kindergarten plan was so stressful for me but I have registered her to attend the private kindergarten at her current preschool--Primrose. They have all day kindergarten and limit the class to 15 students which I think will be great.
Now that I know her test scores and have made a plan--with input from her teachers and the school district--I am feeling very good about where she will be next year.

Hannah has a "best" friend at school. From day one, she and this little girl have been stuck together like magnets. What I find interesting is that this little girl was adopted from the Ukraine when she was 2 years old. It is like they are kindred souls. She is an adorable girl and very sweet. In reality, she and Hannah act more like sisters--they always want to be together and yet they fight with each other and get in more trouble when they are together. It is actually getting to be hard for their teacher. Hannah has been having trouble in school with listening and sometimes she has been refusing to do her work during the learning centers. Then all of a sudden she had a great week where she had no problems at all. It lasted one week and then I learned that her best friend was gone that week when she did so well. I am not quite sure how to handle this except to keep working with Hannah on listening and doing her work. Any advice is appreciated.
For now I have been promising Hannah she can have gum after school if she listens good and does her work. So far, it is working. We will see how long it lasts. It is the first time I have actually used bribery as my parenting tool--not sure if I like the concept or not.

Children's Home Society and Family Services (our agency) had a big adoption party last month and we had a great time. We got to meet up with the other family I traveled with on my first trip so it was great to see them again. They adopted a little boy from Hannah's orphanage and we visited our kids together. He was only one year old when they met him so he is 2 now. The first thing Hannah told their little guy--"I didn't get a daddy--just my mommy". Too funny. I was told that Hannah was a little caregiver at her orphanage and it was funny to watch her take that role back with Drew. She held his hand in the hallway of the hotel and led him around showing him where to go, etc. She acted like a little mommy herself. The party was pretty cool. They had sections for each country they work with and had information there along with free crafts at each country for the kids to do. They had ethnic food served and free drinks for everyone and a main stage that showcased entertainment from all the different countries. They also had three bouncy houses there so there was always something fun to do. It was so fun to see so many people affected by adoption in one place. After the party we got to go to the Wilkin's hotel with them and have fun swimming. All in all, a great day.

My boss's father passed away this past week and I went to the visitation on Saturday. I took Hannah with and two of my co-workers rode with us. On the way there Hannah was telling them that she liked to dance with Mommy. My coworkers started laughing and joking--"how does Mommy dance?" "Is she funny" "I would like to see that" and all of a sudden Hannah spoke up quite loudly saying "Stop laughing at my Mommy--she is not silly--she is my Mommy and I like her". My little sweetheart--it melted my heart to hear her defending my honor and secretly I was very happy. I did try to explain joking to her and let her know that my friends were not making fun of me. Then she seemed okay with it.

She turns 5 in just three short weeks and she is getting pretty excited about it. She keeps asking me "Is my birthday ready yet?" I have planned a party at a local Nature Center. The kids will get to touch frogs, turtles, etc. We invited her whole class--20 kids and about 5 other kids. Should be a fun time. She is just growing and maturing so much--I miss my little girl but am so enjoying the girl she is growing into.

We have seen mothers with babies all over the place lately--at church, at school, and at other birthday parties. She is obsessed and has no shyness to walk up to mother's with babies and ask to touch them. It is hard for me to drag her away. Fortunately all the mom's have been very gracious and kind to her. We were at a birthday party where one mom was breast feeding and Hannah had her face right up there asking all kinds of questions. That night, Hannah said, "Mom, I want to be a baby and drink milk from your tummy" so we had to have that talk. If I was younger and richer, I would think about getting a baby for our family but it is just not in the cards.

She has also been telling me she wants a daddy lately too. The other night after saying she wanted a daddy, she announced "I want a new mommy and daddy". My immediate reaction was to joke with her so I tickled her and said "What--you don't want me for your mommy?" and she very seriously said "Okay--I'll take you but I want a daddy".

This single parenting is hard work some times. All though I am still loving every minute of it--in fact it just keeps getting better. Every morning I look at her sleeping and am amazed at how blessed I am.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Adoption talk

We have been more mention of adoption around here lately.
It has never been unspoken. Ever since day one we have been thanking God "for helping Mama go all the way to Russia to find Hannah and bring her home".
Hannah has often talked about being a baby in Russia and about flying home from Russia. She is proud to tell everyone that she is from Russia.

Last night we had the first "mommy" talk and I think it went well. You get to hear it because I want to document it somewhere.
It went like this:
H--One day I was a baby in your tummy?
M--No, you were never in my tummy. There was another Mommy that had you in her tummy.
H--When I was in Russia?
M--Yes honey, in Russia.
H--And you weren't there?
M--No, honey I was not there.
M--Because I was still looking for you. I looked and looked.
H--And then you found me in Russia and brought me home?
M--Yes Honey I did
H--And you are my Mommy.
M--Yes, I am your Mommy forever
Then we snuggled--both happy with our conversaton.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Big Milestone

Hannah has a book she has asked me to read a few times lately about a dog that has lost a tooth and then gets a bone from the tooth fairy.
As we were driving to preschool this morning Hannah tells me "I am going to lose a tooth" and I said "Yes, when you grow bigger you will start to lose your teeth." She seemed content with that answer and just said, "Yes, I am growing bigger now".
I thought it was just a conversation.
We got to school and one of her friends met us at the door to show us her loose tooth. All the kids crowded around her and wanted to wiggle her tooth, Hannah included. Then Hannah starts to tell the kids she has a loose tooth too. I think that she is just noticing all the attention her friend is getting and wants to get in on the action. I start to tell her "No, your tooth is not loose" but she is so insistant for me to look that I finally do and she does have a loose tooth! I was actually shocked and reacted in a way fitting to the big occassion it was. It is on the bottom--the right one of her middle two. She was thrilled and immediately wanted her friends to see it and to show her teacher. She was now the center of attention and didn't even notice when I left.
When I picked her up the teacher let me know that she hopes the tooth falls out soon because Hannah has been obsessed with it all day--going to the mirror to look at it and showing it to everyone that comes into the room which includes every other parent.
I know this seems like a long post for just a loose tooth but it is huge to me (and to Hannah). It is the first big milestone that tells me Hannah is growing up. I missed so many other firsts--first steps, first time using the potty, first words, etc. I am very excited for each step in her life but there is a little piece of me that is saying "I have only had her for one year--I want her to stay little for a while yet".
Guess I better brush up on what the tooth fairy is bringing these days.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Christmas, New Years, and other updates

I promised to fill you in on Christmas so finally I am getting it done.
I was sick the whole week leading up to Christmas so our preparations weren't quite what I had planned and my decorating barely got done but in the end it didn't matter--Hannah held nothing against me. When I got the tree up and turned on the lights Hannah looked in wonder and asked, "Mom, how did you do that?" She thought it was magic.
My first day of feeling half way good was Christmas eve so Hannah and I headed out that morning to finish our shopping and then had lunch out together. She is not a shopper but did wonderful that day and she is becoming my favorite eating out partner always making it fun.
We went to church that evening and she made it through that well also. I just love the Christmas eve service. I took Hannah to the early service because I thought the midnight mass just wouldn't work. However they save all the really great music and special stuff for midnight so I missed out on that but having Hannah with me for her first Christmas made it more special than any other Christmas for me.
Making a special dinner for a four year old was something new for me too but I think I succeeded with ravioli, garlic bread, veggies, and ice-cream. Hannah and I enjoyed it.
Christmas eve she got to open her presents from me. She was so precious as she opened her box and exclaimed, "shirts and pants--PERFECT!!!!!" She also opened the ones she got in the mail from Uncle Dan and Aunt Kristin. After opening them she danced around the living room singing "Thank you Thank you Thank you Dan and Kristin" and then made kissing noised into the air. I should have had the video camera out. Of course we put out cookies and milk in the kitchen and reindeer food outside. And she went to bed great. I swear I got the best kid ever.
Christmas morning when she woke up I said "Hannah I think Santa came". She still didn't equate it with presents but just wanted to know which window she could look out of to see him. She soon however discovered the presents and was very excited. She got a Loving Family and dollhouse with dogs and a van. Also got a Barbie with a pony and some lego. She was excited with everything she opened and very appreciative. What a sweetie. It was basically all over by 8:30am and we just played the rest of the morning. We had a quiet day and just spent it together.
Sunday after Christmas we went to my sisters in Wisconsin and Hannah got cross country skis and went out for her second time--It was so fun to watch her as she had smiles and giggles the whole time--even when falling. I guess my Siberian born beauty was made for those cold weather sports.
Our family Christmas was New Years weekend at my sister's house. We had another great weekend. Of course presents were a big hit but the main thing for Hannah was the time she spent with her cousins. She absolutely loves that and made connections with each one--even my nieces boyfriend who was a great sport. It is so fun to see her with my family. One of my worries is that she will be alone if something happens to me but she has already made her own connections with my family and talks about them all the time--she has a big family that loves her. I am also happy that at the end of the day she always wants me at bedtime and is happy to be going to her own home again.
I have to say thanks to my sister for a great weekend at her house.

The rest of our winter had been pretty normal.
Hannah has developed quite a social life. Between my friends and her friends in daycare she had five birthday party invites in January so we have been going to fun places all over town--Chuck E. Cheese, Godfather's pizza, House of Bounce,and Jets gymnastics. One party was actually at the kids house which is unusual these days. I am already feeling the pressure for what I will do in April.
The cold weather lately has kept up indoors more than we like but swimming helps break that up. Today was 9 above zero and sunny so I did take Hannah out cross country skiing for a bit. She did great. It was a bit comical as I am not a skiier so when she would fall down the best advice I could give her was "Get back up". the only other thing I knew to say was "don't cross your skiis." At least we got out and had a few laughs.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It's a wonderful life

One year ago today I was sitting in a court room in Russia and was nervous as all get out because my future life depended on what the judge would say. She finally said "Yes--I grant your petition and you are now the girl's mother". I remember that moment as if it was yesterday. My knees went weak and I had to sit down as soon as I walked out of the courtroom. It was so amazing. Then 11 days later, the orphanage director brought Hannah to my hotel, handed her to me, and we have not spent a night apart since.
When I look at Hannah every day I am amazed that she is really my daughter. How can I be so blessed? What would my life be without her? As I look back on our last year I know there were some difficult times and some were very recent but quite frankly I can't remember the details of them. I just remember how much better my life has been, how much fuller, and how much more enjoyable.
To celebrate our day, I left work at noon and picked Hannah up from daycare. We went to "Yogi Bear"in 3D, then went swimming at a little waterpark for a couple hours, and then out to eat--complete with ice cream. Hannah probably thought I was crazy because I kept telling her it was our special day--just Mama and Hannah--and I was pretty mushy sometimes but she did great. She told me "That was really fun" and about three diffent times she would hold my face in her hands and say "You are my Mommy" and then give me a kiss--she was so sweet.
At night she usually picks out some books for me to read but tonight I picked the books and read three adoption related story books to her and she fell asleep on my lap as soon as we were done.
A perfect ending to a perfect year.
I love you my Hannah!