Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I am holding back tears as I just saw LEEZA, THAT I POSTED ABOUT HERE is on the "My Family Found Me" page!!!!! (Along with two other kids from Zoya's orphanage). Oh I can't wait to see who this lucky family is!!!!! Praise God that this sweet angel will be loved and cherished and saved! I just hung her ornament on my Christmas tree yesterday and said another prayer for her. I knew God had big plans for this little girl.  I don't know if I can sleep tonight I'm so excited!

Christmas Eve Fun

Zoya got this little kitchen set from her Aunt Jen. We found her licking the wire wisk...I think she must have thought it was a beater! hehe

Pretending to eat some yummy food...

Snuggling her Uncle Bub

Waiting for Daddy to get home from work....

So excited!

Mya can't wait either :)

Zoya is signing "cold" and Mya is jumping up in excitment because Daddy is on the other side of the door!

There he is!

Grandpa P. sent a special package...

That was a fun mess to clean up! Grandpa sent a recorded book "The Night Before Christmas"...so special!

We were having a baked potato and salad bar for dinner. This will forever be remebered as the Christmas Eve we realized Zoya was terrified of BAKED POTATOES! At first we had no idea why she was crying....because she always loves to eat. She wanted to get down and kept saying "all done." We finally realized it was the baked potato! I guess that is the first time she's ever seen one! By the end of the night she was no longer afraid and even took a bite of the potato skin!

So proud of herself for decorating Uncle Bub's head!

Listening to "The Night Before Christmas" with Grandpa's voice. When I was little my dad always read this story right before we went to bed on Christmas Eve. It was so cool to hear him reading it to Zoya!

Family Picture :) Mya and all!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Zoya's First Christmas!

Zoya's first Christmas was full of smiles!!  What an awesome day!!  Check out this video of Zoya seeing the presents and tree for the first time!!! It takes her a minute, but she gets pretty excited!! She is a little distracted by my brother's elf hat he is wearing!
That reaction was priceless!!! She was wide-eyed for a while, but then it was nothing but smiles and giggles!! She loved opening presents but got tired after the first hundred or so (kidding, but seriously this girl might have gotten a lot of stuff!)

This is her reaction when she saw her playhouse...which she absolutely LOVES! After she sees it for a minute, she gets excited and says, "Zoya!" like, "it's for me!" So cute!

Let the opening begin!

Action shot of her piggy tails flying with excitement!

Zoya and Uncle Bub

Zoya in her new playhouse...I think she loves it!

Huggin her baby

She loves her vaccuum!

This girl seriously woulda been happy if we just bought her a box of bows!


Goofy girl...

I love bows!!

Getting sleepy....almost nap time

Silly face...

And then Grandpa decided to give her a sucker....oh my!

And then it was time for bed!!!!

I stopped many times today to reflect upon Zoya's first Christmas. We talked about how last Christmas she was alone and without a family to call her own. It brings tears to my eyes even thinking about it. While we were eating brunch we were talking about how amazing it was to have Zoya home and celebrate Christmas with her.  Lately she has started signing "Praise the Lord" by throwing her hand up into the air with all her might....its pretty funny. Anyways, while we were talking at brunch about how blessed we were to have her home with us she threw her hand up in the air and did her Praise the Lord sign! So so so true. Without Him, this miracle would have never happened. He orchestrated the journey. He knew she had a place as our daughter the day she was born and left alone in that hospital in Ukraine. He knew all along that we needed each other and He moved mountains to make it happen. So this Christmas we celebrate our baby coming home from a far away land and give thanks to God for all He has done for us. We are so blessed.

Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

8 Months Home!

This post is going to be harder than most because I'm going to talk about ME instead of Zoya. In the last eight months, I have changed just as much as Zoya. Although you can't see my changes outwardly like you can see with Zoya, if you could see the inter-workings of my heart you'd wonder if I'd had a transplant. Zoya has breathed new life into my soul. Like most, I experienced hurt and pain from life circumstances. I've mentioned before I know a sliver of what it feels like to be abandoned....not left out on the street or in an orphanage as a baby, but abandoned none the less.  I learned to protect myself from ever being hurt like that again.  I was pretty good about putting up walls to protect myself from any further pain caused by others. Because, let's face it, it's not fun to be hurt. There were few people in my life that I let closer than an arm's length. I hesitated to let others in. I had lots of friends, but only a couple that I genuinely learned to care about. That sounds awful, but if I cared too much that could lead to opening myself up to be hurt and that just wasn't an option. My heart was ugly.

Stage left, Zoya enters my show. A child who'd been abandoned, left to live a life of confinement to a crib. A child nobody cared about. A child who, if left in that orphanage, would learn the sad untruth that she was worthless. A child who'd NEVER been shown love. A child who never had a reason to trust another soul because she'd only ever been let down and hurt by others. A child who, despite all this, has a heart that is still beautiful and pure, and not ugly like mine.

From the moment she met us, complete strangers to her, she came to us with open arms, trusting and opening her heart to us completely and fully, without hesitation or reservation. She was ready to leave right then and there, waving goodbye to the caretakers.  After all she'd been through and her heart was unchanged by her terrible situation.  Astounding. Miraculous. How could I be more like her? So forgiving and content and ready to love everyone regardless of how they treat me. It's so easy for me to hold a grudge against others, to write people off when I feel I've been wronged...so easy. But for Zoya, it is so natural to love and accept and forgive.  I still have a long ways to go on this "learning to love and trust journey" but I've come so far in eight months.  My heart has changed and learned unconditional love, starting with Zoya.  She is helping me to become more Christ-like every day. She is the closest thing to heaven and perfection I've ever known. I'd love to spend a day in her heart because it's the most beautiful frekin' place that exists this side of heaven.

Happy Eight Months Home Zoya Angel!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pieces of My Broken Heart

As I held Zoya rocking her and singing her to sleep tonight, I thanked God, as I do every night, that she is ours. Along with thanking God for Zoya usually comes thoughts of "I can't believe she spent almost 2 years in an orphanage," or "she has changed so much" or "what if we left her there because we were too scared to leap?" which inevitably leads to thoughts of all the other children still in orphanages without a mommy and daddy to call their own. They will enter another year alone and forgotten. I laid Zoya in her crib, put my hand over her heart, and said a prayer about the orphans left all around the world, but specifically for those children we saw personally in Zoya's orphanage.

Hearing about these orphans and seeing it first hand are two totally different worlds. I wish I could convey to those of you who haven't had the opportunity to meet these orphans with your own eyes just how life-changing the experience is. I haven't written much lately about those left behind and the honest truth is that I haven't because I feel like a whisper in a vast empty field and because it still hurts a lot to think about them, let alone put into words what we saw. So many children. So alone. So full of hope. Some so alive it hurts to think they realized what they were missing. Some dying, literally rotting away in their cribs without even a touch from another soul. Some with eyes full of hope and giggles with the smallest amount of attention, only to see that smile turn to screams and tears when they are treated in ways that would put someone in the US behind bars for a long time.

I still don't think (for many different reasons) I can talk about what I saw the day I returned to Zoya's groupa to ask for a different coat to put on her, when we weren't supposed to be there, when nobody thought we were there. I get sick thinking about it. I try to convince myself that what we saw wasn't the norm...several of the caretakers really did care about the children-truly and genuinely. I try to convince myself it was just this one caretaker and that it was an isolated incident. But for as many orphanages and orphans as there are, I don't think what I saw was so far from what many orphans face daily. I have reason to believe and a feeling in my heart that throughout Zoya's life in the orphanage, she saw the same actions I saw. I hope and pray she was never a victim of that same mistreatment (to put it kindly). I remember looking into her groupa one day after we "gave her back" after our visit and the caretaker had her under one arm like a football so that her body was perpendicular to the caregiver's. The caregiver held her like this while walking into the next room and Zoya's head smacked off the door frame like a garbage bag. Not intentional, but not treated like a valued child by any stretch of the imagination.  I can't tell you how many times I typed and retyped this paragraph and backspaced and deleted and I'm still wondering if I should even finish this post and hit publish.

Anyways, this is my voice trying to convey to anyone reading this the seriousness of these lives that will surely be lost without ever knowing love if they do not find their mommy and daddy soon. One child for Zoya's groupa that has been on my heart since the day we first set foot in the orphanage is Leeza.

Leeza (2)

Girl, Born May 21, 2008
Sweet Leeza has Down syndrome and fetal alcohol syndrome. She was born with a heart murmur, but physically she is healthy. She is severely impacted by the two of these medical conditions, and is quite low functioning at this time. Adoptive families who have visited with her say she is darling, responsive, and will so benefit from having a loving family environment to grow up in.

Leeza is Zoya's age, but I would have never guessed that when we saw her. When I saw her laying in the crib day after day shaking her leg violently for stimulation, rocking herself, and sticking her fists so far down her throat, I wondered what her story was. I felt so sad for her.  I wondered why the entire time we were there we only saw her picked up out of that crib 2 times. I wondered why the caretakers wouldn't even take her out to feed her. I kept asking Shawn why nobody would pick her up.  I only briefly got a glimpse of her face because her back was always to the door. She had sores all over the back of her head, probably from laying in the crib so much. It seemed she was dealt a bad hand for sure. It seemed she didn't get a fraction of the little attention the other children got. It seemed she was forgotten about in that room. She was tiny. The size of a 9 month old I'd say. She would just lay in the play crib, while another child was in the same crib in a rocker chair.  The other child, unknowingly, was rocking over her little hand with the metal frame over and over.  She laid there helpless.  She wasn't listed on Reece's Rainbow until a family who visited after us was able to get her information. I was very surprised to see that this little angel still has fight left in her. She tried one day repeatedly to roll over. She'd give it all she had, which just wasn't enough, but she'd get the momentum up and try her hardest! Despite having little to no attention, I could tell this girl would just eat up attention and love from a mommy and daddy and truly blossom into a precious child. She has so much to offer. She has so much to receive.

Is Leeza your daughter?
She needs you, Momma. She can't beg for you to rescue her, so I will beg for her.  Love her. Give her the life she was born to have. Step out on faith. Listen to your heart.  Put aside your worries. This is your child laying in that crib day after day so alone and scared.  Would you not do anything to rescue your child?  Move mountains for her. Save her. Please?

Please visit THIS BLOG to donate to Leeza's account. If you donate you will be entered to win a week's stay in a condo in Panama City Beach, FL!! Please join with me to shout this child's need for a family through sharing her story on your blog or through email or however you are able. If she is not rescued and she survives the baby house, I highly doubt she would last long at all in an institution.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

More Zoya Fun Facts

1. Zoya can blow her nose (which apparently should give me quite the bragging rights according to all my friends of 2 and 3 year olds who don't know how to blow their noses), however, she blows it with OR without a tissue and any time she pleases, which during this past cold was not so fun!

2. Ripping up paper is one of Zoya's favorite games.

3. Zoya likes having either a wipe or a tissue in her hand all the time, which is fine until she starts to shred it.

4. She has started throwing everything out of her crib, even her favorite heart shaped pillow and her socks.

5. Zoya loves walking over to the cupboard where Mya's treats are stored and randomly asking for one to give her throughout the day....so sweet.

6. Speaking of Mya, Zoya tries to get her in trouble by offering her her snack when I'm not looking and then I turn just in time to see Mya taking it. Zoya looks at me like "how dare that dog take my treat" but she doesn't know I've caught on!

7. Zoya is the "hat" and "glasses" police everywhere we go. She is on a mission to point out EVERY SINGLE PERSON that is either wearing a hat (signs hat) or glasses (touches her eyes)...she is accurate 100% of the time.

8. Zoya has started making up her own signs for people....which are oh so special and really make a lot of sense. For example, she snaps her fingers when I say her PTs name. This one took me a while to figure out...but then I realized her and her PT usually dance when she is here so that makes sense. She waves her hand back and forth across her body for her babysitter because her babysitter always says, "HI FRIEND" and does a great big wave. She makes raspberries for her buddy X because he always makes this noise she really likes when he sees her. I love it because now I know who she is talking about!!

9. Zipping and unzipping is so fun and so is taking off her coat all by herself!

10. Zoya still LOVES Elmo best but now she also likes Big Bird which she calls baba and signs "bird," and she really loves Snuffleupagus. There is a new Sesame Street DVD that may be taking over the #1 spot. It has Snuffy and a giant meatball that just keeps on rolling and almost squashes Elmo. She gets so serious, still, and quiet every time Elmo is about to get flattened (no worries, he doesn't get hurt!).
And now here are some adorable pictures of Zoya and her gluten free brownie adventure!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Izzy's Package :)

Zoya has a bloggy friend and her name is Izzy! Izzy loves watching Zoya's videos and seeing her pictures with her Grandma, Teri. Zoya has recently been able to convince Izzy to use a toothbrush by watching a video of Zoya with her electric toothbrush...hehe! Next up we are going to video tape Zoya eating her vegetables in hopes Izzy will eat hers..too funny! Anyways, Izzy got a package from someone and after she opened it she kept showing her Grandma the box and saying "Zoya." Her grandma finally figured out Izzy wanted to send a package to Zoya so they sent a sweet little Christmas package! I'm so excited Zoya has a pen pal now!! Well can I just say, watching Zoya open this package has me REALLY excited for Christmas! She finally "get it"....like oh yah there is something INSIDE this cool paper, and although the paper is still really cool to her, she actually loved seeing what was inside and moving quickly onto the next wrapped present to do it all over again!

Here is Zoya checking out the package!

This is what she thought when I told her the package was for HER!

Curiously exploring the contents

So excited!

What's inside here? She loved the play-doh inside and kept saying "aaaahhhhbaaahhh" (open)

Izzy...she is KISSING your picture here!! hehe!

More? I love this package!!


"Are you serious? ELMO? I LOVE ELMO. HOW DID YOU KNOW?"

Zoya is showing Mya her mini magnadoodle

Opening her cute tutu outfit :)

Thank you Izzy...I love this package! I'm having so much fun!

Stopping to check out the details :)

Looking at a beautiful ornament frame with our family picture :)

Repacking and opening this bag again!

She put Elmo in the bag, then put tissue paper over him, then took tissue paper out, then pulled Elmo book out and was just as happy and excited opening him for the second time...she cracks me up!

Wearing her beautiful tutu practicing her ballet moves!

A message for Izzy from Zoya:
Hi Izzy...it's me Zoya. You are the greatest friend ever. I hope you liked looking at all the pictures of me opening your package.  I loved your package so much that I just wanted to keep pretending to open it all over again! I especially love my Elmo book. You are such a kind friend to think about me and send me this really cool package! Thanks for sending me that picture of you with Santa...did you know that I KNOW Santa too? Isn't he such a cool guy? Well thanks again for the package. Love, Zoya
P.S. You should really eat your vegetables because when you eat vegetables it makes Santa happy (at least that's what my mom tells me).