Zoya is saying "mama" a lot more and with intention and meaning. She will call my name to get my attention and then just smile at me or hold her arms out for me to pick her up. She is really mirroring the love and actions that she sees us give to her. She is starting to understand emotions much better. In Ukraine, and when we were first home, any time Zoya would get hurt (and she would often intentionally hurt herself which she no longer does), she would laugh. I'm not talking giggle, I'm talking cracking up laughing when she'd get hurt. Since we've been home anytime Zoya gets hurt, or even just a tiny bump, we make a big deal about it and make a sad face so that she knows that is how she should react. Recently Zoya has started whimpering and sticking out her bottom lip when she gets hurt! This is progress! She now reaches out her arms seeking our comfort if she gets hurt. Whether or not it hurts her, we're still not sure. Lots of doctors have told us that research shows kids who've lived in orphanages have way higher pain tolerances than other kids. But, we do know that Zoya is learning the appropriate emotional responses such as crying when hurt and laughing when tickled (which we also had to teach her!).
Zoya and I have been working each morning on some task completion activities and simple one step direction following. Mini chocolate chips motivate her a lot! I will give her a simple command like clap your hands, touch your head, etc. and show her and then she will mirror me. We also are working on simple things like dropping pegs in a bucket or buttons through a slot (thanks Christine!). When we started these type of activities, Zoya would just throw any of the materials and/or refuse to do the task. Then she would do it, but maybe for 30 seconds or so and she'd be done. She is now able to sit and "work" on activities or direction following things for 5-10 minutes at a time. This is HUGE progress in such little time. Remember, we haven't even been home a month yet! She knows 9 signs so far and uses 5 of those signs on her own with no prompting at all. Yesterday I was writing a list of all the signs she has learned for the therapist who was evaluating her. I was reviewing the list while holding her and I was reading it aloud as I reviewed it. I said, "eat, dance, all done...." and then I realized as I said each word she was signing them one right after another it was pretty funny! She is really starting to babble a whole lot and it is hillarious to hear. She will just babble and yell just to hear herself. She will often repeat a word she hears, but then not be able to say the word again. For example, she heard someone say "that" and she immitated the sound. When we were in Ukraine Zoya hardly made any sounds (other than imitating mama and papa).
Our pretty pretty princess looking out the sliding glass door...one of her favorite places in the house.
I love how she is starting to put her hand up to her face like this when she laughs. It is proof that she observes and watches everything and everyone in her environment.
Zoya's nightime routine consists of dinner, playtime, bath time, massage, bottle and rocking, and then sleep. She didn't allow me to massage her while we were in Ukraine or during our first two and a half weeks home. This is now one of her favorite times of the day and when I get the lotion out she puts her right foot out toward me to start the massage! Here she is relaxing during her massage!
Zoya has been working on this sign for a week. She does this for "drink." Thumb in mouth and other fingers curled. Until yesterday she would try her hardest to do the sign but for some reason always point to her head LOL. She finally got it yesterday and has been using it since. I think it is cool...2 nights in a row now while getting her massage, Zoya has signed "drink" and looked right at her bottle. Tonight she signed it and said, "baba" at the same time! I also think it is awesome that she is starting to take comfort in the routine and knows what to expect next. I love this girl!
And Mya's nightly routine lately......
Poor puppy is so tired from following Zoya around all day and having her hair pulled. Funny story about Zoya being so observant. We have been working REALLY HARD on Zoya petting Mya nicely. She knows how but is very impulsive and still often pulls Mya's hair or pulls her legs or ears, which Mya hates. I showed Zoya how to pet nicely by stroking Zoya's arm or face and saying, "awwww." Well now every time Zoya pets Mya she says, "AAAAHHHHH" really loud to show me she is petting nicely. Well Mya wouldn't stop barking today (like all day) and so I tapped her nose with my finger to tell her to stop and Zoya looked at me with raised eyebrows, rubbed her own face and said, "AAAAAAHHHHH" like she was telling ME to be nice to Mya! Like hello Mom don't we have a rule here that we have to be nice to the dog? Busted!
Zoya is finally starting to show some interest in her toys, other than just wanting to chuck them across the room (although that still occurs quite frequently). She has started playing with this "sit to stand" toy. Also notice Mya in the picture once again. She seriously follows Zoya everywhere and loves her as much as we do (well okay she does growl at her sometimes when she gets her ears pulled...but.....)
Here is Zoya standing, she can pull herself up and take a few steps with some support from us.
And the naptime saga.....yesterday it peaked and for 2 hours we struggled with her winning in the end. She was exhausted. I mean so exhausted she seemed like a different child...very calm haha. She was almost like she was drugged or something she was so tired. She kept laying her head down and laying on the floor, but wouldnt give in to sleep! We decided to put her to bed early (at 7) and she slept 13 hours straight through the night. She was a crab when she did wake up. We decided we will not force her to nap for the time being because it just isn't worth the struggle and in the end everyone is just frustrated and cranky. Today she fell asleep in the car...and slept for about 45 minutes. She was out cold 30 seconds after I started the car. See?
When I took her out of the car she was still sleepy but trying to keep herself awake. Well sleep won today and this is where Zoya ended up for about 15 more minutes of a nap. Isn't this the sweetest picture you've ever seen? Zoya and her doggy sister Mya end to end sleeping away!
So since she took about an hour nap today, we put her to sleep around 8 and wil see how that works out. It has been quite a struggle and very stressful to say the least. But if this is our biggest problem I know we're doing pretty darn good and we're pretty darn lucky! I really do think, like some of you commented, that Zoya is just learning so much right now that her brain has a hard time turning off. I also think she really really cherishes her time with us and doesn't want to be away from us or miss anything. I think she needs us to constantly remind her that we will be here for her always. I keep telling her, "we will never leave you." Every morning Zoya wakes up with the biggest smile on her face, standing in her crib, when Shawn or I go in to get her. It is almost like she is just hoping and praying that we walk through the door again each morning and when we do she acts like she just won a million bucks. Shawn has been doing a lot of the morning duty and he says this is his favorite time of the day with her.
So What Can Love Do? I never imagined it could do so much in so little time. Love can change a life. Love can save a life. Love can give a life something to live for. How lucky we all are to have God's eternal love, the kind of love that expects nothing in return, the kind of love that changes and saves lives and gives us all something to live for.
THIS IS AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT LOVE CAN DO....
Two Months Later......