Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Visit with Santa


This picture was taken during the only 20 seconds that Dasha wasn't talking at Santa telling him every detail of her life.  Caleb was in awe of the big guy, Matthew was disgusted that I would subject him to a picture with Santa (come on, he's 8!), and Sam is just hoping for that 3DS.   

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Changes

Tonight I was preparing for a doctor's appointment that Dasha has on Monday and I needed to get some papers from one of my adoption files.  After I got home from Ukraine and got her social security card and citizenship paperwork dealt with, I relegated that whole crate of documents to the far corners of the basement, hopeful I wouldn't need to look at it again for a while.  As I was sorting through everything this evening, I came across her passport.  I don't think I ever shared her photo.  Sometimes when I look at pictures of her from before she became our daughter, I have trouble believing it's the same little girl we have with us now.

So much different from this:


Just 5 months later.  This is her preschool picture!



Sunday, November 6, 2011

Here comes the bride

After having my wedding dress shoved in a garbage bag for almost 11.5 years, I have suddenly decided that I must immediately get it dry cleaned and preserved. So, before taking it to the cleaners in the morning, Dasha and I had a little fun this afternoon. Truthfully, I was the only one having fun. She was kind of miserable and had to be bribed with Halloween candy to smile. :)
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

First Day of School

It was back-to-school time at our house again this morning.  Actually, it was more like to-school-for-the-first-time.  Dasha started preschool today!!  Initially our plan had been to keep her home this year, then send her for a year of preschool next year before starting kindergarten.  However, it became clear pretty quickly that she would really benefit from going to preschool.  She is SO curious and smart and I knew she would love school.  She just wasn't ready in September, though.  She has really struggled with the fear that we are going to leave her (either leave her some place and not come back for her or just leave the house without her).  While the fear is not completely gone, she's doing much better feeling okay about being away from us and being confident that we'll return to her.  I think a lot of the improvement comes from her understanding English so well now.  We can communicate exactly what is going to happen in a situation and she gets it.  She has been anxiously awaiting her first day of school and practically couldn't stand the excitement when we went backpack shopping last week.  The big day finally arrived and she had a great time at school!  When I picked her up and asked how her day was, she said, "I love it!!  It was fun!"  She's already asking to go back again tomorrow.  :)

What a big girl! 

Heading off for her first day!

She asked that her teachers call her Rachel.  I guess I need to get on board with that since she really prefers it over Dasha. 

She did great at drop-off.  No tears, only smiles.  :)

I stuck around and spied on her when the class went outside to play.


  She made the bracelet and said it was her favorite thing she did.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Dasha had a fun first Halloween.  Here are some highlights of the evening.

Helping get the Halloween pizza ready for the oven

Getting ready to carve her pumpkin

The Bobbsey Twins.  Dasha was going to be a dog until Caleb decided on the delivery man costume.  Then, of course, she changed her mind and had to be that, too.

What a scary bunch!  :)

The big guys

Off and running

We got A LOT of candy!!

Waiting by the front door to pass out candy. 

My four little pumpkins' four little pumpkins  :)

Happy Halloween!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pictures!

I haven't posted many pictures since Dasha's been home so I thought I'd share a few random ones from the past couple of weeks (some are a bit older).
  
Posing after a fun day at the water park.

 Dasha got to meet her grandma (Baba) from California earlier this month.  They had Skyped and talked on the phone many times prior to the visit, so she was really comfortable with her and they had a lot of fun together. 

 Every day she wakes up from her nap just in time to watch for the school bus to drop off the older boys.  She's always still a little sleepy but she doesn't want to miss out on a minute of the action. 

 Visiting Daddy at work for the first time.

Being silly

That's blue frosting from her first cupcake on her mouth.  :)


These two have become such great buddies.  They are ALWAYS together playing and whatever one does, the other must do.  It's been very fun to watch their relationship develop. 


Playing Just Dance on the Wii.  :)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Simple Things

Dasha loves popcorn.  She gets it whenever she can...the movies, the soccer field, Target, basically any place she sees it.  Until tonight, we hadn't made it at home with her.  I'm pretty certain it will be a regular event from this point forward.  These are my favorite kinds of moments.  Watching her experience something so simple for the first time and seeing her excitement and happiness is so special and we consider it such a privelage.  We love this girl so much!



Yes, she was really THAT excited over watching the kernels pop.  :)  Caleb, who HAS seen this happen before, is only reacting like Dasha because he has to do everything she does.  :) 

Watching Star Wars with her brothers.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

An Update


I know it's been a while since I posted, so I thought I'd give a quick update.  We've been home 9 weeks now (at least I think that's what it is) and we are doing GREAT!!  Things are going much better around here since school started and we have a routine.  Dasha continues to amaze us daily with her English.  She speaks no Russian anymore and doesn't want us to.  In fact, if we do use a Russian word, she usually corrects us with the English equivalent.  She's using 3-4 word sentences pretty regularly and can count to 10 and say most of the ABC's.  Some of the stuff she says is very funny.  I love to hear her say, "Oh my gosh!" in a totally frustrated tone with a big sigh.  It's like I'm listening to myself!!  :)  She also asks, "Why, Mom, why?" a lot.  She frequently gets into arguments with her older brothers and they tell her, "Be quiet!" and she always responds with, "No, you be quiet!"  She don't take it from nobody, let me tell you!  :)  While in Ukraine, I was told that Dasha didn't speak Russian well and that she was difficult to understand.  Now that she's speaking English and I can understand what she says, I hadn't noticed any major problems with her pronunciation.  Nevertheless, I wanted to have her evaluated by a speech pathologist just to make sure everything was okay.  Her results were great!  They told me she is speaking like a normal 4 year old born in the U.S. (minus language development), so no speech therapy for her! 

In all other ways, she is just adjusting so well and is such a happy, sweet, helpful, and polite little girl.  Her favorite foods are pancakes, hot dogs, mac and cheese, fruits, yogurt, jelly sandwiches, rice pilaf, and of course, chips.  I've never met anybody in my entire life who loves chips like this girl.  Her favorite is original Doritos and I've got orange stains all over my house to prove it!  :)  She is really doing great with eating a variety of foods.  She's done a complete 180 since she first arrived home and would only eat bananas and refused to even taste anything else.  Now she eats whatever we're eating and will try anything we ask her to try.  We've discovered she likes broccoli, tomatoes, carrots and steak, among other things.  We're working on increasing the amount she eats because, although she's good about trying new things, she doesn't eat much.  We're also working on getting her to eat a bit faster because she is S-L-O-W.  It takes her about 50 minutes to eat one pancake at breakfast.  I'd like to speed that up just a bit if possible so that I'm not cleaning up breakfast and breaking out lunch 30 minutes later!  :)

Dasha loves to watch Barney and the Little People (as in Fisher Price, we have a bunch of videos that came with the toys), color and draw, and play outside with her brothers.  She really wants a bike and has finally agreed to wear a helmet, which is something she was not willing to do until recently, so we need to get busy and look for one before it gets too cold to be outside.  Dasha's favorite thing to do is play soccer.  She enjoys it so much.  She goes in the basement everyday to practice kicking the ball into the goal.  Once our older boys' soccer seasons wind down, we are going to register her for Little Kickers and she is sooooooooo excited!  She knows she gets to wear a uniform and cleats just like the big kids!!  She's actually quite skilled from what we can tell and is very aggressive (I know...hard to believe), so I'm sure she'll be a good player.  It will certainly be fun to watch.  :)

I definitely feel like the adjustment phase is behind us and we are all feeling settled.  Dasha is happy here and glad to be out of the baby house, that much I know because she tells us.  She feels loved and knows that we are her parents and she will be with us forever.  In my opinion, she is fully attached to us and thinks of herself as a member of our family.  Although it's only been 9 weeks, I truly cannot remember what our lives were like without her.  She makes us laugh, frustrates us, teaches us, and inspires us all on a daily basis.  I am so thankful we took a chance and did something crazy, because we have been so blessed by the outcome.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Nurse Dasha

This morning as I was cleaning up the breakfast dishes, Dasha yelled at me from upstairs, "Mom, come here.  Caleb owie.  Dasha band-aid."  I ran upstairs and this is what I saw:


Judging from the expression on his face, I don't think he appreciated her help on this one.  :)

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Brats (Brothers)



Today marks six weeks since Dasha arrived home.  Some days it feels like it's been six L-O-N-G weeks, and other days it feels like she's been here forever.  One of the questions I get asked most frequently is how Matthew, Sam, and Caleb are doing since Dasha's arrival so I thought I'd post about it.  Overall, the boys are doing great adjusting to life with an internationally adopted sister.  It's a lot for them to deal with, but they are handling it well.  The older boys are able to understand when I explain why she behaves the way she does, and I think that goes a long way with their patience and tolerance for her.  Here's a little bit about her relationship with each one: 

Matthew

Matthew is Dasha's favorite because he plays with her a lot and gives her tons of attention. She likes to play sabaka (dog) with him and she likes when he gives her piggy back rides.  :)  Dasha calls Matthew "Brat" and rarely says "Matthew", but she calls the other boys by their names.  Matthew is very bossy and controlling, so sometimes they clash and have their power struggles.  It takes one to know one, right?  :)  Matthew and Sam share a room and for some reason Dasha is drawn to it like a moth to a flame.  Every single chance she gets she sneaks into their room and goes through their stuff.  This really bothers Matthew and that's probably his number one complaint about her.  Overall, Matthew loves having a little sister and I predict they will be close as they grow up.


Sam

Sammy is not a people person, so I can't say that he is in love with Dasha yet, but he definitely doesn't dislike her.  For the most part, he has kept his distance from her and does his own thing.  Recently I have seen them playing together a little more so I'm hoping they are slowly beginning to develop a relationship.  Out of everyone in our family, Sam has made the most effort to learn and use Russian with Dasha.  Matthew looks up a lot of words and phrases on Google Translate and Sam has a great memory and remembers them.  He has even started using Russian when he speaks to me sometimes.  Dasha is a bit of a bull in a china shop and frequently bumps, knocks, or hits others without meaning to.  This annoys Sam and he takes it personally, like she's trying to beat him up.  She's getting much better about apologizing immediately when she realizes she's hurt him, so he's beginning to see that she doesn't do it on purpose. 



Caleb

Caleb is having the hardest time with Dasha's arrival.  He is a momma's boy and she's been invading his territory. He has become very possessive of his things since she arrived and doesn't like it when she treats him like a baby.  I can tell he is extremely interested in her and he insists on doing whatever she is doing. Caleb just turned 2 and doesn't really talk yet.  He has, however, learned to say a few words thanks to Dasha (pool, da, nyet). I think their relationship is going to be love/hate for awhile. One of our biggest concerns was that Dasha would be aggressive with the boys, especially Caleb. While at the baby house, there were several occasions when Dasha made it clear that she wasn't taking crap from any of the other kids. Since we've been home we have seen no agressive behavior whatsoever. In fact, we've seen quite the opposite. Dasha is like a little mother to Caleb. She tries to hold him, change his diaper, tells him "no" when she sees him doing something she knows he shouldn't be doing, put him in his crib for naps, etc. It's very sweet but Caleb cannot stand it!!  He tells her "Nyet!" ALL.DAY.LONG.  Developmentally, they are very much at the same level right now and share a lot of the same interests.  They like to play in the water table, watch Barney (Dasha's favorite) together, and make each other laugh.  Dasha cannot say Caleb's name only once.  Whenever she talks to him, it's always, "Caleb, Caleb!"  He calls her Ya-Ya.  :)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Meeting Danil

Do you remember this little boy?  His name is Danil and I posted about him here and here.  My family and I prayed for almost a year that Danil would be adopted.  Everyday I looked at his picture that I had taped to my kitchen cabinet and ask God to bring this boy a family.  When He did, I was overjoyed.  I was even happier when I learned that Danil's family lived about 30 minutes from us and that I would get to meet him one day!! 


Well, today was that day!  We met Danil and his mom, brother, and sister at a local spray park.  It was so wonderful to see this little boy, who had been on my heart for so long, finally home with his family.

 Isn't he handsome? 

I have become friends with Danil's mom, Missy, over the past 5 months.  We were even in Ukraine adopting our kids at the same time and her husband got to witness some Dasha antics at the Embassy in Kiev (something I'm sure he won't soon forget!).  One thing I have learned about adoption is that having other adoptive parents as a support network is critical, so it's been very nice to share this experience with Missy and compare notes along the way. 

New friends


Monday, August 1, 2011

Soccer!

Dasha attended one of Norm's soccer games for the first time last week.  She was super excited to be there and had a lot of fun playing her own mini game with her brothers and some other kids.  She screamed and cheered for her dad from the sidelines and he even scored a goal!  She really enjoys soccer and regularly joins the boys when they play games in the basement or outside.

Oil and Water aka Caleb and Dasha

The entire gang watching Dad play.

Dada stopped playing for a kiss.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Smile!

While we were in Ukraine, I noticed that all of Dasha's molars were completely black and she had decay on her front teeth, as well.  I figured we were going to get to know our dentist very well once we got home.  Over Fourth of July weekend, she started complaining about one of her teeth hurting.  It would come and go and sometimes she said it didn't hurt.  I took her to the dentist on July 5th and they took a look and said they wanted to put her under general anesthesia to fix everything at once.  She needed root canal, crowns, extractions, fillings...it was a pretty extensive list.  She was really freaked out by the dentist so I agreed to the general anesthesia because I thought it would be the least stressful way for her.  The surgery couldn't be scheduled until July 19.  That should have been my first red flag.  I told them she was having some pain, but they said they didn't see anything that would be causing her problems but they hadn't done x-rays (red flad #2).  Well, after a few days, things started to get really bad.  She was in pain and Tylenol wasn't helping even a little.  I called the dentist back and they told me to bring her in and they would fix the problem that was causing her to hurt and then deal with the rest during the surgery.  I won't bore you with all the details, but the appointment went so badly that I ended up firing the dentist right there on the spot.  This is the pediatric dentist my boys have seen for 7 years.  We have never had a single problem and, before all this, I LOVED this practice and recommended them to anyone who asked.  I was so disappointed in the way this dentist handled Dasha's situation.  Once I told him I would not allow them to work on her without me present and demanded she have nitrous oxide so she was as unaware as possible, he all of a sudden couldn't make time in his busy schedule to fix the problem for her  He said we would just take care of it during the surgery we had scheduled in 7 DAYS!!  Seven days is a lifetime to someone with a bad toothache.  We came home with a prescription for Tylenol with codeine, which did absolutely NOTHING to help her.  It didn't even make her sleep.  I spent almost an entire day trying to get her in to see another dentist and nobody could help us.  Every place was either full until the beginning of August or the dentist was on vacation.  I kept asking, "What are we supposed to do for an emergency situation?"  Nobody could give me any suggestions.  It was truly the weirdest thing.  I had to be really careful because I refused to take her some place where they would use a papoose board and restrain her or where they wouldn't allow me to stay with her.  I really didn't want her to know what was happening.  Just when I had about reached my breaking point, I called an adult dentist and the receptionist got the dentist on the phone to speak with me.  Dasha was crying in the background and as I spoke to this man, I started crying out of frustration.  It's so hard to see your child (or anybody) in that much constant pain.  He was the nicest, kindest person.  He talked to me for a long time and listened to what was going on with her.  He told me to wait by the phone for a call from someone who could help us.  When the phone rang, it was a pediatric dentist office calling to say that they could see her first thing the following morning.  They would use conscious sedation and she really would not be aware of what was happening to her.  They promised they would make her feel better.  When we arrived at the appointment, the dentist greeted us and introduced herself to Dasha.  She started talking all about internationally adopted kids and attachment and I could tell she understood!  Her assistant told me it was the dentist's day off and she had agreed to come in and fix Dasha's tooth when the other dentist heard her crying over the phone and told her how much pain she was in.  To make an already long story a little shorter, this place was FABULOUS!  They were so child-friendly it was ridiculous.  All they cared about was getting her out of pain ASAP and doing their best to begin to fix some of the other problems.  They ended up extracting the tooth that was giving her problems and filling another.  Three other molars were filled with calcium paste and a sedative and we are watching them very carefully for any signs of infection. If these teeth can heal themselves with the help of the calcium, she will get crowns on all of them in a few months.  If they become infected in the next few weeks, they'll be extracted.  We went back again this morning for round 2.  Today they extracted a molar and did the sedative filling on the other molar.  All total, she'll need four crowns now.  They also did regular fillings in her two front teeth.  She is feeling so much better after all this dental work!!  The dentist says she has probably been in constant pain for months.  It makes me so angry to think about the non-existent dental care she received at the orphanage and how much pain she would have had to endure if she was still there.  I know that routine dental cleanings and care are not common in much of the world, but I think they should be since oral health is tied so closely to general, overall health. 
These pictures were taken today.  I didn't take my camera to the last appointment because she was in so much pain and crying.  Since the last appointment, she's been eating better and trying more foods.  Plus, she's even talking more!  The poor thing just didn't feel good!  I'm so happy she's feeling better now!

Waiting for the oral sedative to take effect.

Still waiting!  :)  It took awhile and gave her the hiccups both times. 

Not happy about being back at the dentist, but she always smiles when she sees a camera.

Starting to get sleepy.

They waited until she was completey unaware before wrapping her up and we took it off before she woke up. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

One Month Home!

I totally realize what a lame-o job I've done updating my blog this past month.  I really didn't want to be one of those people who gets home and then drops off the face of the earth, but I am.  Since today is Dasha's one month anniversary home, I wanted to at least post some pictures from the past few weeks. 

Dasha and her biggest brother, Matthew, on his 8th birthday.

 
I love this picture!  The kids were playing in the bounce house in our basement.  Dasha was sitting on the outside and the older boys would jump at the same time and send her flying in the air.  She loved it and couldn't stop laughing!

Her first haircut!!  She wasn't too sure about it at first, but she sat still and didn't cry.
 
Dasha loves taking control helping out whenever she can.  :)  Here she is making homemade chocolate chip waffles for her big brothers.  She, of course, did not eat any.

Hanging out with big brother Sammy.

For those of you who have called or emailed worried that my lack of posting is because things aren't going well, please know this is not the case.  Things are pretty good.  Sure we have our problems, but they aren't big ones and we're working on them.  Overall, we're doing great and feel like we have a super special little girl.  Life is very slowly starting to return to normal.  I still don't feel that I've got control of things like I did before I left for Ukraine.  I'm working on it, though, and hope to post more regularly, so check back soon!
 


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