Tuesday, July 27, 2010

11 Fun Facts About Zoya (because I couldn't do just 10)

1. She loves motorcycles. She will make a funny "brrrrooommm" sound every time she sees one and waves her arms in excitement!
2. She taps her pointer finger or her whole hand (usually on her leg) in rhythm with the beat of whatever song is on.
3. She is currently afraid of chairs anywhere outside of our house. Regular chairs, booster chairs, high chairs. She is currently refusing to sit anywhere but our laps when we sit at a table outside of our house. (Sigh)
4. She loves Elmo and calls him "Lala" because that's what he says most of the time!
5. Zoya has a "cabbage patch" face that could also be mistaken for a Ukrainian babushka! (See below)
6. Since Zoya has been home she never cried when she got hurt. We have been over dramatic with her when she gets hurt trying to teacher her the appropriate reaction. Now whenever she falls or bumps into something she whimpers and almost cries (a few times she has cried). I scoop her up and say oh my poor baby are you okay, you poor thing, yada yada yada. You get the point. She whimpers through all my sympathizing and as soon as I kiss her and say "all better" she instantly stops whimpering and she's fine just like that! Love it!
7. Zoya loves boys! (Look out Daddy!). She has lots of friends but her favorite friends are all boys. She climbs on them and feels their hair and then kisses them like a million times either on their face or belly!
8. I now have a laundry helper! I put the wet clothes from the washer onto the dryer door and Zoya's job is to push them into the dryer. She gets very excited to help!
9. She has learned to say "Shhhhh" with her finger to her lips. Sometimes she get mixed up and uses her thumb and its too funny! She likes telling Mya "Shhhh" whenever she barks! (See Below)
10. Zoya is a crazy sleeper. Like CRAZY crazy! She can often be found with one foot through the bars of the crib, or tossing and turning half the night, kicking her feet off the bars, sitting up, falling over, thumping her legs on the mattress and doing all of this IN HER SLEEP. I am terrified of the day we have to move her out of the crib!
11. Zoya has learned to actually give a kiss. She used to just lean toward ya and give an open mouth kiss, now she is actually puckering up and smooching hard. She cracks me up and reminds me of everyone's not so favorite great aunt who attacks people with kisses after not seeing them in years!! She kisses with her whole heart thats for sure!

Here is Zoya's "Shhhhhhh"

The famous "cabbage patch" face

Our crazy sleeper. We have a video monitor and I took a picture of it. Almost every night at some point we can see this:
That little black boot like object is her foot. One foot is almost always sticking out!!

We wouldn't trade her for the world!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Zoya Makes the News!....and a rebuttal

Last Sunday, the Jamestown, NY Post Journal wrote a story about Zoya and HER SOON TO BE NEW FRIEND, LYLA They were already doing a story about Lyla, and then a friend that I went to High School with (who works for the newspaper) contacted me asking if they could include Zoya's story in the article. I said of course because any opportunity to put a spotlight on Reece's Rainbow and all the waiting children is much needed and appreciated! Zoya and Lyla's stories made the front page! I scanned the article below so you could see what it looked like....very nicely designed! They are too small to read, so you can go HERE to read the entire article which was very nicely written.  I really hope that maybe one person who read this article decides to google Reece's Rainbow and maybe one child's life will be changed. We are so proud that Zoya's story can be an example to others to prove that EVERY. SINGLE. CHILD. deserves a chance at life and of course deserves a chance to be loved and a family to call their own.

Also, please click on "comments" after the article and you can see that, as always, some people just don't understand the urgency of these DYING, abused, neglected children. Some people continue to be negative toward international adoption. I could say some really nasty things back, or I can pray for those people. Obviously these people do not know OUR GOD and know that all children, regardless of where they had the fortune or misfortune of being born, are children of God and worth our time, support, love, and most certainly a chance at LIFE!

Although I will try my hardest to avoid being nasty here, I can't leave this blog post without stating my opinion on this matter. I will try to do so with tact.  So here goes....Shame on those who are so selfish that they can't see past "America." It isn't all about "us." This is why foreigners have a negative opinion of Americans...are we really so selfish that we can't look past our own backyard to help children who are literally living the most miserable life you could imagine? Wake up people...I know foster care is not perfect, I know it has a long way to go to serve the children better, but it is most certainly NOT what children in orphanages are facing!  I have to remember that these people making these comments have not had the opportunity, although sickening and heart-breaking, to see first hand what these children in orphanages face. I wish I could elaborate more on this but I simply cannot do so publicly. I'm not saying children in America are any less worthy, but the situation internationally is more urgent. It is a LIFE OR DEATH MATTER and the clock is ticking for many of these children...these children WILL DIE if people don't step up to help.

Someone commented,
"I will also say there are hundreds of thousands American children in orphanages that would love a new home too. I see people going to Europe and Africa and now Haiti to adopt children, it breaks my heart there are American Children that need homes, wake up and smell the coffee folks."
To this person, I ask, where are the orphanages in America? Yes we have group homes and such but you can hardly call them orphanages! You probably wouldn't know the difference though if you've never looked into the condition of orphanages in other countries.  I also ask of you, what are YOU doing to help these children in America? Just wondering.  Another comment reads,
"It never ceases to amaze me that there are so many children in the USA that need ministering to, whether it be adoption, foster care, mentoring...it's the adotions from Americans to a baby from Europe that gets headlines. Kudos to the local media for over sensationalizing this. It's a no wonder we can't get people to buy things locally, if they aren't able to adopt locally.
To this person I say, you must be assuming that those of us who adopt internationally think children in America are worthless and that we couldn't care less about then. You must assume that we don't do anything to help children in America. Well maybe you know what they say about assuming....anyways...I have never met one single person who has adopted internationally who is not, in some way, be it "adoption, foster care, mentoring" helped children in America as well. As far as over sensationalizing this, it makes me sick to my stomach to read these words. CHILDREN ARE DYING, I don't think that can be "oversensationalized" no matter how hard anyone tries. To those that made negative comments, I pray that some day God will give you His eyes for just a second.  I pray that you will some day realize the urgency these children face.

Secondly, the people making comments on the article must not have read the entire thing because the Spitz family HAS been very involved in domestic foster care and adoption. As for our family....how dare someone question what God has led us to do? God did not lead us to domestic adoption. He very clearly led us straight to Zoya, who JUST HAPPENED to live some place other than America.  

Third, (a statement to those with negative comments) many of these children in foreign countries have ZERO chance of being adopted by parents from their own country because their special needs are viewed as a curse or a punishment, or simply just not socially acceptable. Without people coming from other countries to adopt them, what do you suppose the better alternative would be? To just let them die? Because, that is the ONLY other alternative at this current time. So you cannot make the statements you did without also believing in your heart that these children have no value. If that is the case, then there is probably nothing I can say that will ever open your eyes.

There were also comments in support of international adoption, which were nice to read. One comment in particular also raises some valid points,

"Well first of all I want to address those of you like "recycler" who seem to find it necessary to trash those individuals who adopt internationally. SO many think that children here in the U.S. are just sitting on a street corner waiting for couples to drive by and pick them up for adoption. Quite the contrary!! As a former foster parent for several years who was willing to adopt special needs children, there never seemed to be the child the system thought suited our family. We have adopted internationally (3 special needs children) and will NEVER regret nor apologize for saving the lives of these beautiful angels who faced certain (and this is documented) death. While it is said there are so many children who are in the foster care system here, it is not SOLELY because they were not wanted, like special needs orphans are detested in Europe, but because their parents were screw ups and either hurt the children or are just complete morons."

Another comment which brought me to tears because I know other people "get it" and we are not in this fight alone:
"I speak from experience, not from stupidity like some others, that adoption of a child, whether domestic or international, is a blessing. Blessings don't come with labels stating where they happened. No, they come with love, encouragement, experiences, and life. That is what should matter and what society needs to address first, not which piece of soil it happens on. Congratulations to these two families who have acted upon their faith and hearts to give these beautiful children a forever family!"

I'm not trying to start a debate here, really, this is nothing new in the adoption discussions.  I'm pretty sure this post is being read mostly by people who feel the same exact way as I do.  I am thankful for this blog that I can sometimes just vent to an audience who has the same convictions and passions in their hearts.  I know this post won't change the negative minds.  However, I will fight tooth and nail on behalf of the voiceless children who cannot fight for themselves, who don't stand a chance. I will stand up and speak on their behalf and take the time to give a rebuttal letting these people with negative comments know that there ARE people in this world who value life-and by that I mean every life regardless of circumstances.  There is nothing anyone can say that would make me feel any differently. In the end, I work to please one audience and it is certainly not other people on this earth!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

3 Months Home Today! (And Orthotics)

I can't believe we have been home three months already! Seriously though, it is hard to remember what I did with my days before Zoya! It seems like she has always been a part of our lives. Watching videos from our first days and weeks with Zoya, I am amazed to see how she has changed. It is easy to forget the little helpless girl we brought home three months ago. One look at the videos reminds me of just how much she has changed and oh how much she has learned in this short amount of time! We are so proud of our angel. Comparing "then" and "now" is understandably exciting, however, it is also sad as it can be a time to remember "what if." I don't know why I am always reminded of what would have been had Zoya not joined our family. I hate to think of what she would be doing today in that orphanage, yet those thoughts find their way to the surface of my thoughts each time I think about how far she has come.  I hate to think of what we would be doing without her, because, there is no way we would feel this fulfilled and to think of missing out on the love we have experienced these last three months makes my heart ache. So today, I want to remember how Zoya has changed from the girl we brought home three months ago.

She wore shoes with a number 10 to show which groupa the shoes belonged to. Zoya owned nothing of her own....all the way from shoes, to a family.

She has both (shoes and a family) and I think she loves them! (Yes she is kissing her shoe!)

When we met Zoya we called her spaghetti legs because her legs were literally like wet floppy noodles and she could hardly bear any weight on them. I remember how tiny and weak her muscle-less little legs were. I remember looking at her legs and thinking she might never walk, and that would have been okay with us.  Now, she has the strongest little muscular (and chubby) legs. In three months time she has learned to bear weight on her legs, to pull up on furniture, to cruise along holding on, to walk holding hands, to take her first two steps, to walk from one piece of furniture to another, and now to almost walking independently and very steadily and controlled. When I see her doing all this, I almost forget her atrophied spaghetti legs from her orphanage days. What if Zoya was still in the orphanage? She would be sitting in her crib.  She would have no opportunities to strengthen her little legs.  Without a doubt she would not be walking. All she needed was opportunity and love.

When we met Zoya, she had no idea what to do with toys, or how to complete a task even for a few minutes. She had no clue what to do with a baby doll, she was rough and didn't really know how to be gentle.  Now look at our gentle girl:
What if Zoya was still in that orphanage? Surely she would have never seen an example of how to love on a baby! Surely she would still have that empty look in her eyes. Surely we might have that same look as well.

So today, we've been home three months. At this exact time three months ago we were just beginning our last leg of our long journey home. We were exhausted, dirty, tired beyond belief, and we surely had NO idea of all the joy that was in store for us and how much we would come to love this daughter of ours.

Today I had big plans to celebrate three months home by taking Zoya to get her ears pierced but that wasn't possible because she is scheduled for surgery for her blocked tear ducts in August and we'd have to take the earrings out which would close up the holes, so that will have to wait until four months home! Grandpa and Grandma P. sent a package with some cool sneakers for Zoya and the cutest little outfit that says, "Little American Lady." Today was the perfect day for her to wear it and we did a little photo shoot!
(Okay Mom, seriously this is the LAST picture you're taking!)

Snuggling with her best bud, Mya.

And....Orthotics. Zoya got her SMOs today (Supra-Malleolar Orthosis).  Apparently another name for "ankle bones" is malleoli and that's where the name comes from. They are also known as "sure steps" and are often used for kids with low muscle tone and pronation (which is rolling inward of the ankles when bearing weight on them).  Long term side effects can include back, hip and knee problems if not corrected.  Many kids with Down Syndrome have pronation of the ankles due to their hypotonia (low muscle tone). The Sure Steps are used on many children with Down Syndrome.  Here is a picture to show you what her little ankles look like when she bears weight on them. Her left is slightly worse than her right.
Zoya had her first appointment to get measured for her SMOs the day before she took her first steps. The specialist she saw told us that her ankles are so unstable walking for her would be like us trying to walk from one playground ball to another...nearly impossible. I will remind you, Zoya took her first steps the next day...that is why she is a rock star! Anyways, even though she has started walking a little, it is still very easy to see that she needs some extra support and the SMOs will give her just that. Hopefully this will help her feel safer and be able to walk a little sturdier with a more balanced and coordinated gait.  Zoya will likely need to wear these for a couple of years and when her ankles are stronger and more aligned, she will likely only need a shoe insert. She did take a few steps tonight and looked pretty strong. She lifts her feet up higher to clear the carpet and it is just so cute to watch.

Here are the SMOs...yes they have butterflies and flowers!

We found out that shoes with velcro do not work with these...darn it because almost all her shoes are velcro! They make her foot wider right where the velcro would go and so the velcro doesn't reach to hook onto itself. If anyone who is reading is getting SMOs for their child, plan on about one half to one size bigger than they normally wear and take the inserts out of the bottom to make the shoe deeper.

The past three months have changed all of our lives and we are so blessed to have each other!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Random Post

Here is proof that Zoya not only tolerates, but now LOVES being tipped upside down and backward! Now only if I had thought to take a "before" picture when she HATED it! After two weeks of using the therapeutic listening she has transformed in so many ways in the area of sensory processing! I'm literally hanging her by her feet here! Now when we do this she laughs and signs "more" when we stop!

Dump Truck Dolly

I think we need to buy some trucks for Zoya...she just loves playing with trucks and cars!

Playing in her Sand/Water table, which became just a water table after repeated attempts to eat enormous amounts of sand!

These 2 are best buddies, Mya just doesn't know it yet!

Some friends are letting us borrow their jump-o-lene...Zoya is definitely a fan!

Taking a stroll at Presque Isle....ahhh the life! (Notice Baby Einstein toy from Ukraine trip...this is #4!)

Check out Zoya's special chair!

Watching Baby Signing Times and relaxing with a cold one! (milk that is)

Chair is perfect for working on sit to stand and sit to stand to walk!

Doing some work...yes I realize she isn't putting the pieces on the right color but THIS is progress...she is actually in a free open space and focusing on an activity! (when she has the opportunity to run away and play with anything else) When we first brought her home I couldn't even get her to drop 3 pegs into a bucket from her high chair! Just look at her now!

Zoya is taking more steps and she has been much more controlled and steady and trying to find her balance. It is so cute to watch! Sometimes she ends up walking backwards a little bit while trying to balance.  She is now able to push up from the middle of the floor to standing and out of the corner of my eye the other day I watched her push up to standing and then take off walking!! I tried to get it on video but it was unsuccessful of course! She is scaring me to death when she just takes off walking and then falls, at least she is mostly catching herself and not face planting as much (although she thinks it is funny).  Sorry about the bad quality of the video!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Aren't They Beautiful?

Tonight we were eating at our favorite outdoor restaurant and there was another family sitting at our same picnic table. I noticed the little girl, about 5 or 6 years old, kept looking at Zoya. I heard her say to her dad, "Why does her eyes look like that?" To which her dad responded, "Aren't they beautiful?" And I could tell he meant it and wasn't just saying it because he was embarassed. For a brief moment I felt sad because it was a swift reminder that my child is noticeably different causing others to judge prematurely. And yes, I forget that she is different on a daily basis because to me she is perfect and I forget that she looks different to other people. When I look at her I don't see Down Syndrome, I see Zoya....my perfectly and purposely created beautiful daughter.  My mind raced toward Zoya going to elementary and then middle and then high school.  I know kids often judge a book by it's cover, but then again so do adults.  Then I snaped out of it when I realized what had just happened. A young impressionable child was questioning her dad, not only about why Zoya looked different, but also receiving a lesson she might remember forever. Her dad's heartfelt answer showed his daughter that even though Zoya looks different she still has value and is still beautiful inside and out. In three words this father set such an amazing example for his daughter. I have a feeling maybe he talked to her a little bit more about why Zoya looked different once they left. But I thought his answer was perfect. Kids at that age value their parents' opinions more than any other opinions and her dad's answer was enough for her. After her dad answered her question by saying, "aren't they beautiful?" their other daughter started commenting about what a cute baby Zoya is. That is all it took. And I agree, those eyes are somethin' beautiful!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Therapeutic Listening

Has anyone ever heard of this? At the recommendation of Zoya's Occupational Therapist, we started this program with Zoya about a week ago. Therapeutic Listening (TL) helps with Sensory Integration issues, which many kids with down syndrome have, and also many kids from orphanages have. Put down syndrome and orphanage together and you get a lot of sensory integration issues (at least Zoya does). TL is an auditory intervention that uses "organized sound patterns inherent in music to impact all levels of the nervous system." Zoya listens to specially designed CDs that almost sound like a broken or scratched record. The CDs vary in musical style and some have common kid songs that we all know, but they sound different than what we are used to hearing. The music is electronically altered with the goal of setting up one's body for sustained attention and active listening. Zoya has to listen to these CDs twice a day for 30 minutes at a time. She has to listen to the CDs through special headphones that make her look like a DJ from a club in NYC! Interestingly enough, she doesn't try much to take them off, and has gotten used to keeping them on for this therapy. Most children who do TL use this protocol for 6 months on average. This program is used in conjunction with other sensory activities, known as the sensory diet.
Some things that TL is supposed to help with, and things that Zoya is currently having difficulty with are:

*Background Noise Filtering (Zoya gets very distracted with the slightest background noises)
*Tolerance of low frequency sounds (Zoya has difficulty and anxiety when hearing the vacuum cleaner, blender, hair dryer, and other things that make that same sound frequency. This has improved some since being home).
*Sound Sensitivity (we found out from Zoya's hearing screening that she has superhero hearing and hears sounds that I could not hear and that most of us do not hear).
*Attention and Focus (since we met Zoya this has been an area of difficulty. We have seen HUGE HUGE gains since coming home, but it continues to be an area of difficulty. We want to help Zoya in this area as much as possible so her ability to learn isn't impacted by her attention difficulties).
*Vestibular Processing (Zoya does not like to swing, to be on a carousel, or be tipped upside down where her feet are higher than her head. She has difficulties with certain movements but mostly those that include movement without holding onto mommy or daddy, and movement where she is tipped backward even with mommy and daddy).
*Inability to Sit Still (Zoya does not like to be in one place for long, and when she is sitting still and even sleeping, parts of her body are almost always moving! We have seen lots of progress here as well and hope the TL will continue to help in this area).

Some other areas TL is said to help, but that do not currently affect Zoya, are:
*Touch Processing
*Tactile Hypersensitivity
*Eye Contact
*Feeding Issues/Oral Texture/temperature difficulties

So far we have noticed some changes with Zoya, mostly when she is actually listening to the CDs. She will get into a trance-like state at times and appear very very relaxed while listening to the CDs (which by the way make my skin crawl at times from all the different pitches and tones!). She is able to focus more on tasks while she is listening to the CDs. She is also doing better in very overstimulating places (like church, and the zoo). That might be due to the TL or maybe just do to having more opportunities to get familiar with these places. After about a week of listening to the CDs, we started to see even more changes with Zoya. The biggest change we saw was in her vestibular processing. She all of a sudden has almost no opposition to being tipped backward or upside down! She was even signing "more" when Shawn was tipping her backwards off the couch! We couldn't believe it! She is also doing much better with low frequency sounds such as the hair dryer and vacuum. While I was drying my hair the other day, instead of whining and making ugly faces and getting anxious and reaching out for me to pick her up, Zoya actually laid down on the floor and rested her head there for a few minutes and then just crawled around the floor happily for the remainder of the time! We will continue to do the TL and hope to see even more changes in Zoya! Here are a couple cute pics of her with the very large headphone on! We always do the TL in her highchair usually during breakfast and dinner. We have to have her stationary when she listens because her head is so small and the headphones are so big that if she moves they fall off.

And the calm daze I was talking about....

You can see Zoya doing her TL here. She is also using some signs in the video. Her version of "fishies" cracks me up. She wiggles her little thumb, too cute! You can also see her get very calm and in her daze that I talked about, and then start dancing and laughing. You can also see when she touches her headphones and I say, "if you touch you will sit" and she points with her hand. This cracks me up because when we were starting time out with her I would say "no touch or you sit" and then I'd point at her time out chair. Well now whereever we are, if she is doing something she isn't supposed to be, whether or not I warn her, she will do this pointing thing like, "I know, if I do this I have to sit, right?" I also think it's funny at one point she is signing "fish" and I don't acknowledge it so she looks at her hand signing fishies like, "is this thing broken?"

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Just Sayin'

I just have to say that right in this moment I'm feeling like the luckiest mama alive. Nothing out of the ordinary happened to make me feel like this, and most of the time I feel lucky to be Zoya's mama, but tonight....tonight I feel lucky to the point of feeling unworthy of deserving such a great child to share my life with. Really, how did we get so lucky? She is a rock star who loves life more than I knew anyone could ever love life. Her smile is infectious. Her laughter has filled out hearts with so many happy memories that I cringe at the thought of having lived so many days without her in my life. She is the perfect daughter. I can't think of one single thing I'd change about who she is! Thank you God for this gift!  Feeling so grateful tonight....

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I have to share this video, you probably won't think it's as funny as I thought it was while it was happening...but I still crack up watching it. I guess this is how you know when your baby is too big for her bumbo seat! Although Zoya doesn't seem to mind toting around the extra weight (that looks like a plastic butt glued to her with her tiny legs coming out!) Ahhh I remember the days Zoya would sit in her bumbo seat for minutes at a time....LOL. One of the three words we were given in Zoya's profile was "active" and that sure hasn't changed!!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Light and My Grandpa

During our 5 weeks in Ukraine, I felt God's presence more than any other time in my life. He showed himself to us in so many different ways.  I miss feeling that presence. I know the reason I felt His presence more during this time than any other time in my life is because I sought it out. I prayed almost non stop during our entire time there. Now I'm lucky if I can squeeze in a prayer here and there between the happily busy days life has brought to us.  During our time in Ukraine, I invited God into every second of my day because I knew I could not get through even one day without Him. It was easier to be close to God during the time in Ukraine because all daily distractions, along with comforts, were stripped from us. We had lots of time to "detox" from our busy day-to-day routine of life in comfortable America. We had many times of quiet unease (at first), which turned into quiet peace and a chance to experience God's arms wrapped tightly around us, even during the times when things seemed to be falling apart.

One way we experienced God's love was through the presence of my Grandfather. My Grandfather passed away on March 14, 2008. My Grandfather and I had a very special relationship and his passing was very difficult for me. The night he passed away, before I got the news, I had just fallen asleep and had a dream that my Grandfather was rising up to heaven but stopped on his way up to tell me how much he loved me. I woke from the dream, to a phone call from my Dad telling me my Grandpa had just passed away.  I wasn't surprised that my Grandpa stopped to say goodbye on his way to heaven. For the next year, I would feel my Grandpa's presence at the weirdest times. Sometimes I would dream about him, and wake up thinking I had really just talked to him and hugged him because it felt so real. Other times I would smell his distinct smell. One time I experienced this at a baseball game, out of the blue.  He loved baseball. When we committed to adopt Zoya I was sad with the thought of realizing that my Grandpa would never meet her. He would love her (he DOES love her). Before we traveled to meet Zoya, I mentioned to my Grandma how I was sad that Grandpa would never meet Zoya. My Grandma said, "Oh Sarah, don't you know he probably set this whole thing up." And that was all I needed to hear to remember that he was going to be with us through the journey.

We met Zoya on March 17, 2010. My Grandpa was buried on March 17, 2008. In THIS POST FROM "METCHA DAY" I talk about how it was a very gloomy day, but when Zoya was handed to me, the sun came pouring through the windows. I know it was no coincidence that this was the day we met her, and I know my Grandpa was there in the sunshine that poured through that window.
There were times in Ukraine that I felt my Grandpa's presence without a doubt. I smelled his scent often through the wind while walking to the orphanage, during times I hadn't even been thinking about him. It was like all of the sudden, he was there. My Grandpa was a huge NY Yankees fan. Every day during our walk from our apartment to the orphanage, we passed over this curb (remember this is in the middle of Ukraine, where the language spoken is Russian and the alphabet is Cyrillic, which looks nothing like our letters):
The NY Yankees symbol in the middle of Ukraine. Coincidence? I don't think so.

We captured many pictures that show a huge contrast between dark and light. We found light in the darkest places during our time in Ukraine both literally and figuratively. God made his presence known to us and one way he did that was sending reminders of my Grandpa. I still wish with all my heart that my Grandpa could be here in the flesh because I think their meeting would be so sweet. I think he would call her "pugsy" because that's what he called me when I was little because I was so chubby just like Zoya. Their meeting would make my heart melt. I guess we have that to look forward to one day when we all meet in heaven. Here are some pictures that represent the light we found during our darkest times in Ukraine.

I love how in these 3 pictures the light forms a cross or an angel look

In this picture the dark shadows represent to me, the bars Zoya had been behind too long. But the light is a reminder that freedom and hope are close by.

And a few with some amazing light...

It is awesome to look back at our pictures and see the light shining through during our dark times. Feeling God's presence so closely was breathtaking. Knowing my Grandpa joined us on the journey and helped us through the dark days will always amaze me. During your dark times, even when you think there is no light to be found, look a little closer. Seek out the light and it will find you.