Friday, November 26, 2010

Fall, Baby!

Yesterday, our 19 pound turkey celebrated her first Thanksgiving!  I can't even describe how thankful I am for this little girl in my life.  She is a treasure who is loved more than she'll ever know!  We had a great day yesterday and had a young family from church spend the day with us.  We stuffed ourselves with Joel's delicious feast (he's got his Thanksgiving recipes perfected), relaxed, and played some games.  My friend, Loren, took some great pictures that I want to share:

Getting ready


Before we stuffed ourselves

Classic olive fingers (I took this one as you can tell by the poor photo quality! haha)

The guys played a bit of football.....

....while the girls watched

She loves to crunch the leaves

 What's so funny?


What a great day!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Here are a few random videos which probably correspond to some of the snapshots I've posted. Enjoy!

She loves her fridge DJ from Kirra and Carl!

Our little gymnast with her brothers cheering her on

One of the best $1 garage sale investments was this piano.  She loves it!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Leaps and Bounds

It's been a while since I've really updated about Darya. Sorry about that!  I've had good intentions on updating, but you know how that goes....

Anyway, she is doing great!  I don't even know where to begin.  We are enjoying having her in our family and we think she feels the same :-)  She has really warmed up to her brothers and will give them her "kiss me" face (lips puckered, chin up in the air).  They love to help her walk, play, and sing.  They all adore and love her so much!  Not only is her growth and development fun to watch, but seeing the growth, tenderness, and compassion in the boys has been amazing to see. They are such sweet boys and daily thank the Lord for their new sister. They continue to pray for the orphans, as their concern and love for the orphans didn't stop with their sister.  This evening, Ben was sorting through my jewelry box and found an old pendant that was my grandmother's.  It was fake, but he thought if the jewels were real, he'd sell it and donate to baby Anna's grant!  Even as I'm typing this, Sam is spinning her and I'm listening to her contagious giggle :-)

In the month and a half we've been home, she has put on weight (she's almost 20 pounds), eating much better (thankfully those pesky parasites are gone), and learning so much.

She used to put up a fight eating (her poor tummy hurt), but now she loves oatmeal, soup, mac-n-cheese, fruit puffs, etc.  She still won't use her hands to eat, though the other day she did pick up a fruit puff and put it in her mouth.  We'll take that progress!  Oh, and yesterday I decided to give her her favorite drink with a straw to see how she would do (blueberry Kefir) and she drank it all up!!  I was super impressed.  I used a take-n-toss cup and straw per my friend Julie's recommendation and it worked great.  I want to order this from someone else's suggestion for travel.

She's been a great sleeper from day one.  When she first came home, she was taking a couple of nice looong naps each day.  Now she just takes one around lunch time and she'll usually sleep for a couple of hours. She goes to bed around 8:00pm and gets up around 8:00am.  Not bad!

Darya seems to understand us fairly well. She doesn't say any of the few Russian sounding words like she used to, and can babble a few consonant sounds.  Check out Joel's blog for his recording of her saying "Dada".  Of course all of my kids' first word was that! haha!  She has said "mama" a couple of times, but mostly when we ask her to say it, she pats herself and laughs.  Little stinker :-)  She says ball (and signs it), she has said "duck" (for her rubber ducky), and can sign a handful of words (more, all done, etc.).

We work on her walking every day, and she just can't seem to get past 5 or 6 steps.  It is the cutest thing to watch though!!  She mostly gets from point A to point B fine doing her butt-scoot or by crawling. She can pull herself up.  She's been caught splashing in the toilet a couple of times so we've got to watch her on that one!

I posted about this a while back when we were in Ukraine.  I am happy to say that the only thing left is the teeth grinding (much to Joel's dismay - nails on a chalkboard!).  She mostly does that when she's relaxing or tired.  Any tips on how to break it would be great!  But she is cutting some molars, so maybe it's how she relieves some of the pain?

She's had her cardiologist appointment, which I reported went well.  She's in the process of getting her immunizations (we're spreading them out a bit to not overwhelm her little body). She had some of her blood work done and her cell counts are good.  She does need to get more drawn since they didn't have enough to test for her thyroid.  We still need to get her glasses. I've been all over town and only one place had frames in her size but they were quite expensive for the lenses.  I'd order them online, but hesitate since I'm afraid to get the wrong size. So I think for her first pair, we'll just go with the pricier ones then later we can get them elsewhere.  She is farsighted, almost plus 5 in each eye (if that means anything to any of you).  We are waiting for her ENT referral.  And next week she will have her coordinator come and evaluate her to see what therapies she'll need. It will be so nice since it will all take place in our home!  Overall, she seems to be doing very well. Her coloring has even gotten better and she has nice rosy cheeks, shiny hair, and moist lips (no more chapped lips).

Last week, some great friends of mine through Darya and official "Welcome Home" party.  We had such a lovely time and there were a lot of friends! Thank you Shelli, Amanda, and Mims for putting it together!!  Some moms and their daughters from the local Down syndrome groups came, too, and it was nice to meet them!  Then on Sunday 14th Joel got to baptize Darya. It was such a special and beautiful event!  Darya, our water baby, of course loved the water poured on her head. Amanda recorded it, so hopefully I'll be able to share that video soon.

Words just don't do justice how much we love this little girl.  We are so blessed and have had such an amazing adoption journey bringing her into our family.  I cannot imagine our lives without her!  She belongs in our family, and not in the confines of a government institution.  I love her so much!

I feel like there are a million other things to share, but for now this will have to do.  My camera still takes poorer quality photos since the pool incident, but at least it takes some.  Here are some random ones for your viewing pleasure :-)

Piggy tails

Kiss me!

Darya and Mims
 Darya's baptism

 She loves her fridge DJ (see the same smile)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Life's a Beach (or at least today was)

Today we decided to take a break from the busy-ness of our lives to spend a relaxing afternoon at the beach.  We packed pb&j's, loaded up the minivan, and drove an hour west to the quaint fishing town of Cedar Key.  The weather was absolutely perfect with the warm Florida sunshine and cool Gulf breezes. The boys brought shovels to dig (to search for pirate gold perhaps?) and Darya enjoyed every last grain of sand surrounding her.  

*On a side note, Darya had her eyes checked this week and turns out she's a bit farsighted and will need glasses. Stay posted for an ultra-cute post when she gets them!

Here are some pictures from today's excursion (pardon the photo quality - Joel was able to savage my pool dipped camera, but the lens is still a bit foggy):

Beach babe

She played happily in the sand for over an hour

 The boys diggin' for critters

 What'd ya find?

 Not gold, but a sea snail will do

 Darya loves the swing - the higher the better!  

Me and my beautiful kids (and a manatee statue :-) )

Monday, November 8, 2010

Princess and the Peas

Darya's my little sidekick.  But when it comes to eating, let's just say it's been a battle.  Some meals she eats fine, but usually she puts up a fight (though she drinks liquids just fine).  A couple of weeks ago, Joel and I asked to have Darya's number twos tested for parasites. Our pediatrician didn't think she needed to be tested because she wasn't having any diarrhea, but alas for our peace of mind she was happy to oblige us. Turns out our princess had some little parasite friends in her intestines, Giardia!  5 days of medicine and she's eating much better (today was her last dose)!  Today she ate three full meals (even things she had never tried before like peas!) and even made progress on chewing.  Usually she just chews with her tongue, but tonight I tried her again on those baby fruit puffs and she chewed some!!  I was so proud of her!!  What a difference!! She has put on some weight since being home with us, but now I hope she'll fill out and get some more meat on those bones :-)

Things have been very busy but good.  With appointments, homeschooling, church, guests, laundry and just plain old life, we've been keeping busy.  It's a good busy and we love our full life, but please forgive my lack of updates on Darya :-)  We are trying to get into a routine, but that really won't likely happen for a few months.  Thankfully the kids are all so understanding and know how to go with the flow :-) Okay, here are a couple pictures:

The Princess and her peas (for lunch)

Getting sleepy and snuggling with her baby

Friday, November 5, 2010

Micah for the Ray family

I am so excited for the Ray family!!  A friend of mine from high school, Shelly, has been following our adoption journey of Darya.  She and her husband have decided to commit to their very own precious Reece's Rainbow child, Micah!!  I am just so excited for them as they embark on their own adoption journey.  They have five children, 1 boy and 4 girls and are excited to be adding another boy to the bunch.  Micah is so cute with that smile and fuzzy head, don't you think? Without further ado go "meet" them on their blog:  They have a lot of fundraising in order to bring him home, so if you feel so inclined any donations to their family would be greatly appreciated (tax deductible through Reece's Rainbow)!! I'm hoping to also help with some fundraising on my blog, so keep your eyes peeled for a future fundraiser on here.

P.S. I'll post an update on Darya soon, but all is well here and we love our little princess more and more every day!  I'll even add some pictures and possibly a video or two since Joel was able to fix my camera after the pool incident :-)