I've enjoyed the journey that blogging has taken me on over the past 4.5 years! It has been a fabulous place to share our adoption journeys, successes and failures...but all good things must come to an end and I've decided to close this blog indefinitely. I'm not sure if I'll pick back up again in the future, but right now I have decided not to blog. I'll be making photo books online so the girls will have those to look at when they're older, instead of printing out the blog like I've done in the past! Days are crazy between therapies, activities, schools, two parents working, and trying to carve out some "unscheduled" time. The girls are getting older and privacy is becoming more of a priority for our family! Thank you to everyone who has followed our adoption journeys over the past four and a half years. Your support and encouragement and prayers have gotten us through many tough times! Thank you for being a part of such an exciting time in our lives! If you'd like to keep in touch, feel free to email! My email is listed in the tab at the top! It's too hard to say goodbye, but "see you around" doesn't really work here either.....so we'll leave it at that :)
Shawn picked Mila up after her first day of preschool and she didn't want to leave :) The teacher said she had a great first day! Today it was so strange just dropping her off and saying goodbye! It was just Sofia and I for a bit and we enjoyed our time together! I couldn't WAIT to pick her up and when I pulled up, they brought her out and instead of her usual "OH my goodness I missed you so much mama" squeal, she turned and tried to walk away from me back into the school! So I scooped her up and she promptly slapped me across my face because she was not ready to leave school!!! Now I know what you're thinking, you'd be so broken hearted if your child reacted that way right? Not me! I was so excited! I was excited because there was a time, not so long ago, that this very child fought for her life, she fought without a mama or daddy holding her hand. So for the next THREE years she took comfort in her mama-preferring me over anyone and everyone else, in every instance....clinging and so very needy and very dependent on mama in so many ways....needing to know I'd never leave her. And today, when she slapped me and chose preschool over mama, I thought, she feels safe and loved....for the first time SHE was ready to face this world without mama or daddy by her side....which tells me the love and effort we've poured into her over the past 3 years is paying off in so many ways. So today, even if it sounds weird to you, I'm happy Mila slapped me. I'm happy she wanted to stay at school...I'm happy she is strong enough and well enough and comfortable enough to go to preschool without mama. To hear that the other kids LOVE her and that she feels accepted there, just makes my heart so happy! Of course I wouldn't mind (selfishly) if she never ever wanted to leave my side....but really, I'd rather have THIS reaction than having her not want to go to school! We didn't send her right when she turned 3 (which is typically how it goes with kids with special needs-in order to get their services) because we just didn't feel like she was ready yet. I wasn't 100% sure she was ready, but felt peace in my mama heart and so we decided to go for it. I know it's only been 2 days, but I can already tell Mila thinks she's pretty cool going to school. The whole way home she kept repeating "R" (she calls her teacher Miss R.) and her helper's name! I promised her she could go back again next week :) The reports today were that Mila did great, prefers to sit in her helper's lap for story time as opposed to her cube chair (she's a snuggler), even colored a worksheet a little bit (she normally refuses to color at home), went potty and stayed dry no problem, had a snack, and that the other kids just love her! It made my heart so happy to hear that!!!! We're slowly extending her day each week, although I'm pretty certain she could do the full morning with no problem after seeing how much she wanted to stay today! She fell asleep in the swing within an hour of being home...preschool is exhausting I guess!
Really, I'm trying to be a better blogger, but life just hasn't given me much time lately! With Mama back to work very part time, Zoya on a shortened K day schedule, and now Mila in preschool two mornings a week....I feel like I live in the car! Zoya's and Mila's schools are in opposite directions of one another (with our house being in the middle). All 3 little ladies are also dancing this year, but now that we've moved it's a 25 minute drive one way. Thankfully they all dance on Tuesdays which is Shawn's day off, so I can shuttle the little ladies over for their class, shuttle them home and swap Shawn Mila and Sofia for Zoya and head back over to dance. Mila and Sofia have outpatient speech once a week, and Mila has outpatient PT once a week as well. Between all that and all the (necessary) kindergarten and preschool planning and revision meetings, I think it's safe to say I don't think I can add one more single spinning plate to what I've got going right now! I can only laugh because 6 months ago my plan was for this year to be our "year of respite...." where we'd lay low and hunker down shutting out the world....but it wasn't to be! Soooo anyways, now that I've given Excuse #398 for not blogging.....hopefully this will make up for it!
Mila is attending preschool two mornings a week. We found a great preschool that we think is going to be a fabulous fit for Mila! We just planned to keep her home this year because most places were already full by the time we moved (apparently people sign their kids up for preschool years in advance or something?!).....anyways, we heard about this school and figured we'd take a visit just to say we tried, and we ended up falling in love with the place! She's in a typical preschool class with a "classroom aide" who is mostly there to assist her, but can also help other kids when Mila is ready for more independence. Our goals for Mila are mostly social goals at this point...being part of a group, listening to adults other than mom and dad, making friends, playing with friends, you know all the typical preschool stuff. We didn't set any academic goals because she's really doing very well just working on those things at home. She can name all of her colors, shapes, numbers to 9, letters (upper and lowercase), and even surprised me with naming some sight words (that I did not work on with her!). That's the good thing about having an older sister I guess! Mila is *nearly* potty trained and has only been wearing pull ups for sleep time or long car rides....she's still heavily reliant on reminders from us, but will tell us many times when she has to go too! She's even learned the 'ol "get out of non preferred activity by playing the potty card" trick!
She was SO excited about going to school. She was literally RUNNING up and down the living room squealing this morning. When she got to school she was like a kid in a candy shop....going from one thing to the next checking it all out and squealing with delight! I may have overstayed my welcome (haha) but when I finally felt okay to leave I said goodbye to Mila and she said bye bye and was easily distracted by a letter puzzle. They said she did great and Shawn says when he went to pick her up she didn't want to leave! So I'd say all-in-all, a successful first day!!
On to the pictures..........
New big girl glasses and she looks so much older....
Put a backpack on the kid and she instantly looks YEARS older! Where is my baby?
Even more years added with this pose...seriously Mila, STOP!
Attempt at a nice pic with Mama, LOL!
Being silly with Dada!
Off she goes!
Just a little video of Mila surprising me with some sight words!
And just because this is one of my all time favorite pictures! (no its not photoshopped haha)
Sofi J is THREE! She is so full of life and personality! She is very determined and knows what she likes, and what she doesn't like! I wondered a bit today about her birth mother and wishes I could share these pictures with her...to let her know this child is chosen and loved and cherished and celebrated! Our wild child is growing up...and I'm loving watching her slowly unfold into such a beautiful little girl, day by day, bit by bit!
We had a really special day with the birthday girl :) While Zoya was at school and Uncle Mike was babysitting Mila, we took Sofia out to a special birthday breakfast and then to the lake!
I love when we get the chance to spend 1-1 time with Sofia! She is so very different when it's just her and us! I am pretty certain all her birthday wishes came true today with some extra special time with Mom and Dad :)
Zoya's first week of kindergarten was successful! It's a work in progress, of course, always tweaking and reevaluating to make sure we have a plan in place that will benefit Zoya in the best way possible! We recently moved, and a huge part of that decision was moving to a smaller town so our girls could benefit from smaller schools and a close-knit community. We weren't sure if we'd send her this year, wait another year, try homeschooling, or WHAT! For some time I really thought we'd end up keeping her home and taking "a year of respite" for our whole family. It's not easy balancing all of the therapies, medical appointments, meetings to ask for or coordinate specific services, reviews of said services/programs, etc. We pulled Zoya out of her preschool program about a month before school ended because it just wasn't working. We were tired of her coming home feeling defeated and we were tired of feeling defeated! It was exactly what our family needed-some "quiet" (if you can call it that) time together with fewer places to run kids to and from. We needed time to just love one another and celebrate one another and remember what this life is all about.
So we moved in July and we knew in order to get an appropriate program in place for Zoya we'd need to make a decision ASAP. We met with the new district to discuss our options. All kindergarten programs around us are all full day. We really weren't sure if Zoya was ready for a full day program. She fatigues easily, and when she is tired her behavior declines greatly. Although her anxiety is much better controlled than it was over the spring/first half of summer, she still struggles greatly with the effects of being a neglected orphan for 2 years. She doesn't trust others easily and we often see behaviors increase in new situations....heck we always see behaviors increase with any adults other than US. It's frustrating, because with us, for the most part, she is very well behaved. She's still learning to trust new authority figures and really does best around her immediate family. With that said, she also thrives when she makes meaningful friendships with peers and feels valued. She learns really well with me as her teacher, in a 1-1 setting, but I also know she's learned so many things from her typical peer classmates that I'd been trying to teach her for a long time with no success! So we decided to opt for a hybrid type program, designed just for our special little Zoya girl :) The district has been amazing and so willing to work with where we are and what our needs are! Zoya goes to a typical Kindergarten class all morning and leaves at lunch time to come home. I work with her at home on reviewing skills they're working on in school, and since she's missing math I will be working a lot with her on a math program! So I'm sort of half homeschooling, but not "officially" ;) We have the option to increase her day slowly if we all agree that she's ready and will benefit from it. We will decide at the end of the year if we want to do full day kindergarten next year or move on to first grade. We feel really good about the start of her school year and know she's in a place with many people willing to iron out the details! We feel like her program is really unique to HER which is how it should be!
She's coming home giving me bits and pieces of her day, naming a few friends and singing some songs. She has been practicing her letter writing all on her own and when I got the paper home about what they were working on it all made more sense. I see her carrying over things from school into home (she's been raising her hand saying "me! me! me! pick me!" which I find hilarious! :) Nearly every day when we pull up to the school building she squeals in a high pitched giddy little girl voice, "THERE IT IIIIISSSSSSS!" I can tell she feels loved and valued and that makes my mama heart so happy. Our biggest challenge continues to be following rules and learning appropriate social skills. She happily shows me all her stickers she earns each day and then also tells me if she did anything wrong (will she always tell on herself??!! haha).
I think the one thing that has made this transition so successful thus far has been PRAYER. I have never prayed harder in my life than I have for THIS CHILD! We pray on the way to school each morning and Zoya shares some things she wants to pray about. I've been surprised by what she asks to pray about. I asked her what she wanted to pray about when I was done praying and I almost crashed the car when she blurted out, "Ukraine. baby. scary." This happened on the way to school....as I'm thinking "Lord, why can't she just follow the rules and make this easy?" That's why...she's still struggling with the trauma she faced, in her own sweet little heart. It makes me tear up thinking about it. I don't know exactly what she's thinking in that little head of hers, but that was pretty telling for me and a reminder I needed. To go through what she's gone through and face such a big transition like this with such excitement (even though I now know in her heart she was/is a little nervous)...she is my hero.
I don't know what the next days, weeks, months, years hold for Zoya and her school experience, but I know we'll continue to take it one day at a time with the ultimate guiding goals that she feels SAFE and HAPPY. I'll keep praying my heart out because some days are just really tough when I feel we may not be making as much progress emotionally as I'd have hoped to have made by now. I am thankful for a God who is in the details and is capable of perfecting all that concerns my heart. His faithful love never ends, in the easy times, and in the hard!
We're really so excited for a great year for Zoya-a year of growing and learning and LOVING.
Thank goodness Gramma Liz was here to give me a big hug when I returned home from dropping Zoya off!
This morning when I took pictures it wasn't sunny at all! The sun started peeking out when we were having this picture taken and when I saw the light on Zoya's face in the pic I knew my Grandpa was with us yet again for one of Zoya's biggest days.
I forgot in the shuffle to get pics of Zoya with her sisters!!! I guess I'll have to do that when she gets home :) Last night was tough for this mama and I thought I got all my tears out at midnight, but no such luck...there were more to come today! I know it probably sounds crazy but I felt very similar to the way I felt when we had to hand Mila over for open heart surgery. Now, don't get me wrong, I know her life is not at risk, but that vulnerable feeling of handing your baby off to people you have to trust with your child's life is just not easy!!! She was so excited about Kindergarten this morning talking about her principal and her teacher and her helper and making new friends! I am a nervous wreck waiting to hear how it goes! I'll post more about the kindergarten transition process and what Zoya's day looks like another time! But for now I'm going to keep looking over THESE OLD POSTS OF FIRST DAYS PAST and hold my phone tight.....juuuuuuuuuust in case! ;)