Friday, July 3, 2009

A Life Given... A Digital Story of Our Adoption

Be Sure to scroll down to the bottom of the screen and turn off the background music before watching the video!

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Tooth Fairy Visits...

Kaitlyn the first day we met in China

Kaitlyn Now...

Kaitlyn 1st lost tooth in the US.

Kaitlyn & I at Summer Movie Fun each week

As I look back at the pictures of when we first got Kaitlyn, I'm amazed at how she's grown. The difference is quite something! She's absolutely thrilled to have long hair and we're continuing to let it grow out! She's almost "obsessed" with it. I guess that's part of never being allowed to have hair longer than her ears. She's truly growing up on the inside and out! She's slowly becoming more mature and living day-to-day within the boundaries, rules and guidelines we've set for her. She has come such a long way in this area of growth too!! The first 6 months were extremely difficult. I almost thought I wouldn't make it. I describe her as "Helen Keller before she learned to communicate" - wild, ill-behaved, lacking manners, no boundaries or respectful of personal space. She is still jealous of Kailey's every move, but even that's gotten better and she's learning to control it. We stopped counseling the beginning of May. It just seemed like a waste of time and we did the same thing week after week after week with little results. Discipline (even with Christian counselors) is a touchy issue. I think many counselors are brain-washed in secular psychology in college. The Bible speaks loud and clear in MULTIPLE passages about discipline. "Behavior Modification" is not in the Bible (how many counselors refer to it). I think there is a balance - and we've found it on our own which seems to be working a lot better. After nine months, she's truly a new child now. We still have our days - don't get me wrong, but it's much more managable! On occasion, I still have to speed-walk several laps around the block to relax and give myself a time-out - but it's not nearly like it was back then... PRAISE GOD!!
She lost her first tooth since being in the US. We explained the "tooth fairy" to her and her response was, "Really? Seriously?" with a huge, eager, smile from ear to ear! The next morning she comes running out with her dollar bill tickled pink and jumping around with excitement! However, she dragged me to her room and was quick to point out the tooth fairy forgot to take her tooth! I guess "she" couldn't find it at 4:00 am!! Apparently Kaitlyn slept with it clutched in her hand! We told her to put it back under there when she looses her other molar! Ooops!

Her English continues to AMAZE everyone around her! She's learned our language incredibly fast and now just works on proper verb tense, subject-verb correctness, pronouns, and longer complete sentences. Other than that, she understands and speaks very well. As many of you know, she was only educated through 1st grade in China. She is old enough to be going into 6th grade. In 7 months of English education in the US, she not only completed first grade curriculum but is almost done with second grade standards too!! She will be enrolled in 5th grade in the Fall, but will come down to 3rd grade for the Reading and Math block. The rest of the time, she will be with her peers. She's smart, eager to learn, and is an extremely fast learner!!

Kailey and I are traveling up to Washington July 7-19th to see family and attend my grandma's "Celebration of Life" reception. We're very excited to go! It will be really good for Kailey and I to have time alone together. I have Kaitlyn enrolled in two weeks of day camp with the City while we're gone. She'll be busy doing crafts, going on field-trips, playing games, etc. and spending the weekend at her friends house! I've learned she's one that needs to keep busy!! Hopefully all will go well in our absence! Thanks for all your prayers over these past few months! I think we're finally on the upswing!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Kaitlyn's Mother's Day Dedication

Mother's Day
We Dedicated Kaitlyn to the Lord
She cried her eyes out

Mother's Day BBQ at the House
Fearless Kaitlyn

Austin All Bug-Eyed!

Kailey "The Pool Feels Great!"
After the dedication and service, a total stranger that was visiting church tracked us down to talk to us. She said she felt such a strong tugging on her heart to offer help to us and Kaitlyn. Her name is Chris, and she's a certified teacher, ESL endorsed, does animal therapy (Kaitlyn's fear of large animals), understands and has experienced abuse, has a daughter to play with Kaitlyn and her mom teaches swim lessons!! She offered to tutor Kaitlyn a couple days a week for FREE!!! I stood there and it was all I could do to hold back the tears. God sent her to us...... us! He is listening and seeing what's going on afterall!!!!! Lol! Thank you Jesus! Just what we needed and when we needed it! For those of you that don't know, Kaitlyn was denied summer school by our school district simply because she doesn't attend a "Title 1" school.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Kailey's Spring Formal

Kailey Before Leaving For The Dance
Brother Austin

They're Becoming Such Good Friends

Kailey With Friends
What an exciting day! This was Kailey's first formal school dance. Oh, the memories it brought back as I helped her get ready :) She looked so beautiful... my baby is growing up. I wish she could stay young forever - it seemed like yesterday she was only 5 years old and starting Kindergarten. Now, she's getting ready to start High School. Where do the years go?!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

April News

Tim and Austin Easter Morning

The girls and I before Easter Service

Kaitlyn's bone scan came back showing no old fractures. That's really good news! We're glad there wasn't any broken bones in her past. She continues to adjust with our family and work through her jealousy issues of Kailey. I think this is going to be an ongoing struggle for a long time. School and Church are two of her favorite places to go. She enjoys learning and continues to amaze us at how fast she is picking up on things. Kaitlyn is extremely drawn to music and dancing. She can't wait for Sunday when she gets to sing "Jesus songs!" She can't contain herself and is dancing all over the place! I surprised Kaitlyn and took her to Disney on Ice and lunch a couple weeks ago. She really enjoyed watching all the characters, but didn't understand much of it. You really had to have been to Disneyland and seen the Disney movies to "get it". Now that she understands English better, maybe she'll sit and watch a movie soon. That would be really nice :)

Both Austin and Kailey had their sports physicals last week for high school next year. I can't believe my baby is going to be in high school in a few months!! Kailey and I went shopping last Saturday for her 8th grade graduation dress. What a fun day! She looked so pretty in everything... it was hard to choose! Her promotion/graduation ceremony is May 21st.

The doctors discovered two brain tumors in my mom when they thought she had a stroke and did the CT scan. You can imagine the shock and emotions that went with that news. One tumor is in her Occipital Lobe and the other in her Frontal Lobe. They're both over 4 cm, which concerned the doctors. Finally, the tests came back that they were benign and operable. Thank you Jesus! However, when she went in for those tests, they found a ginormous blood clot in her leg. It goes from her hip to her ankle! My dad has to give her two shots a day in her stomach and she's on an oral medication for thinning her blood as well. Needless to say, she won't be having the tumors removed for a couple months or so. Please continue to pray for her... and my dad. He's exhausted.

My mother-in-law, Marlene, (it's her birthday today!) had a total knee replacement about 4 weeks ago. She's been doing really good and is determined to heal quickly. Marty (Son #2) came down from Washington to surprise everyone, help mom out, and be here for her birthday... pretty cool.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Spring Break

My parents left last month after spending 2 1/2 weeks with us. We had a great time with them and it was so good to see them! My mom's back and her leg were in a lot of pain, but hopefully that will eventually get better after her surgery. She had corrective back surgery on the 30th of March. They even discovered a herniated disc while they were in there. She came home last Thursday from the hospital and seemed to be doing fine. However, she was rushed by ambulance to the hospital last night after being disorientated, incoherent, non-responsive and not able to answer simple questions. At first, it was thought she might have suffered a mini-stroke. Thank goodness it turned out to be a very bad reaction to her new pain medication. She's home and resting now. Thanks for you prayers.

Austin and Kailey are doing well. Kailey still struggles with Kaitlyn's jealousy and constantly wanting to do and have everything she does... right down to the style of hair for the day, but it's been better the last couple weeks. Austin is serving his last day of his 2 week sentence of being grounded. He will finally get his beloved phone back tomorrow morning. It's been actually nice having a decent conversation with him when he's not texting or talking!!!

Thanks for your prayers and support with Kaitlyn. Her behavior is improving and she's doing amazingly well. She passed 2 out of the 5 stages of testing levels for ELL students in only 5 months of school and speaking English...and it's a hard test! She's eager to learn, and really enjoys school. Kaitlyn tells us the reason why she didn't go to school beyond 1st grade in China is because of the injuries she sustained from her foster mother's abuse. Kaitlyn goes to Phoenix Children's Hospital on April 13th for a complete bone scan to see any possible old fractures, etc. The CCAA (China Center for Adoption Affairs) has been notified of the accusations of abuse. Once we get the report from the hospital, it will be faxed to our agency and forwarded to China with the full report. From there, it goes to her providence for the Civil Affairs Office to investigate. This is going to take awhile to process.

Jobs and forclosures are crazy in Arizona!! About 175 teachers and all assistant principals in my school district were notified of their "pink slip" status for next school year. Out of 1300 teachers, I'm 131 on the seniority list, so I'm safe. However, they will be cutting Career Ladder back and some other things that will directly effect my income. Looking at the glass half-full, I'm thankful I have a job next year! Thousands of teachers in AZ will be without one.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Quick Update...

Family Updates in a nutshell: Kailey got her braces off and won a digital camera from the orthodontist! She gets fitted for a retainer in a few weeks. Austin made honor roll for 3rd quarter again! Kaitlyn is doing better and we've learned even more about the horrible abuse she endured in China this week. We're pursuing what actions to take against the foster mother and/or the orphanage. It gets really tricky when it's international and the laws are different there. Let's just say, her foster mother would be in prison for a very long time if she did the things she did to Kaitlyn in the United States! It's definitely shed a new perspective on things. Please continue to pray for her healing on the inside, as well as the outside. Pray for my own anger towards this women right now. Part of me wants to hop a plane, track her down, and beat the crap out of her! I know that's not the most Godly attitude to have, but it's how I feel at the moment.

On a much lighter note... my parents are here visiting from Washington for the next couple weeks. It's been great to see them, spend hours talking and just being together. I'm hoping to talk them into buying a winter place down here!! They seem more open to it, they just need a little push :) I will post more pictures later. I just wanted to give a quick update so you didn't think we fell off the face of the earth!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Flying Home

I went back home to Washington on Saturday, February 7th - the day after my Nanny passed away. My good friend, Denise, picked me up at the airport and I stayed with her my first night. We stayed up until 1:30 am (2:30 my time!) just talking and catching up on life. Denise and I have been friends since high school- it was great to see her! She was a terrific hostess and treated me to brunch at one of my favorite resturants on the Kirkland waterfront - Anthony's Homeport. Yum! Then, I stayed with my sister the next few nights. It was so good to see her and her family! The boys have grown so big! My brother and his family came over and I got to see them and spend time chatting with them as well. His girls have gotten so tall! Three years is a long time not to see your nieces and nephews! I wish I could come visit more often. As usual, my sister spoiled me rotten with her fabulous cooking! She knows how much I love seafood and made a delicious seafood pasta dish.

The Viewing made Nanny's death a reality for me. I have never been to a Viewing before and wasn't sure what to expect. It was just my immediate family that went together, others came before and after us. As I stepped into the room following my parents, I suddenly lost control of my emotions. My mom fell apart and that made my heart ache even more to see her crying so hard. I went to Nanny and whispered once more I loved her. She looked so pretty and peaceful. The drive back to my sisters was difficult - I couldn't seem to stop crying. The harder I tried to pull it together, the worse I got.

The next day was the funeral at St. Spiridon Orthodox Catherdral in downtown Seattle. My grandma was a Russian Orthodox Christian. (Not sure how many of you know I'm part Russian). The service was nice, but very different from what I'm used to. It was very ritualistic, so I spent my energy trying to follow what the priest was saying and not focussing on her passing. As my mind would drift to flashbacks of time spent with her, my eyes would well with tears. Then the priest stopped his portion and began to talk about Nanny as a person and addressed our family directly. I think every single family member "lost it" at that point. Thank goodness Karen had lots of tissues! Afterwards a private commmittal was at Evergreen Memorial and then we all went to my cousin, Tracy and Karen's house for a traditional Russian dinner called Piroke. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with my extended family, some whom I haven't seen in 8 years!! I really miss them. A celebration of Nanny's life is being planned in a few months. I really hope our whole family can fly up to Washington for this...just not sure how yet.

I stayed at the Ranch in Cle Elum with my parents the remainder of my trip. My parents live on 12 acres with two horses. Spending time with them was great! They treated me to a western concert in Ellensburg and made the most incredible Valentine's Dinner! We had barbequed prime cut filets, rebaked potatoes, asparagus, incredible salad, and for dessert, tiramisu. Wow! My mouth is still watering! The steaks were so tender and juicy, you could cut them with your fork! My parents are coming down to Arizona next month, so it made saying goodbye slightly easier, but we still cried at the airport. We're just an emotional family!