Saturday, October 30, 2010

All American Kid

This weekend Zoya learned one of the finer arts of being an American kid.....licking the beaters! Zoya LOVES to bake as I've mentioned before. Well she was helping me make a cake for her Uncle Bub's 30th BIRTHDAY and before we even used the beaters she picked them up and started licking them! This surprised me because I've tried to get her to lick the beaters a couple other times and she had no idea what to do, so I had to show her;) Well this time, without a doubt, she knew exactly what to do with those beaters when we were done!

I love to bake!

Taking a hard earned break with a cold milk watching her favorite...Signing Time!

Zoya clearly thought it was her birthday.....

Then she saw this kitchen appliance and told me she felt like she got ripped off!

Call the fire department!

If Zoya could say sentences, hers would be, "Dude, this guy is OLD! and you people are INSANE!"

Zoya and Uncle Bub's conversation went like this:
Zoya: Okay "Uncle Bub, game plan time...I made the cake, so I get the first piece, I'm willing to fight you for it"
Bub: "It's all yours"

Did I mention we had cake before dinner? :)


Bub snuck her some ice cream when she was least expecting it. She likes ice cream, but only whe she is forwarned that it's COLD. Nobody warned her!

She was pretty upset with Uncle Bub and kept shaking her head NO when he offered her more! She looks pretty suspicious of Bub here.

Happy Birthday Bub! We love you!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fall Fun!

My favorite thing about living in the northeast is the fall is breathtaking! Today was THE perfect fall day! 72 degrees, sunny and a light breeze....just beautiful! The oranges and reds of the leaves are a welcome splash of color and lift my spirits when I see the sun shining brightly on them. Now for some pictures of the girl who makes all my days colorful....

In our backyard. Look at these beautiful eyes!

She is so amazed when the wind blows through her hair...

Mya and Zoya....sisters for life!

Zoya was laughing because I kept telling Mya to sit and she just kept crawling on her belly over to me. I guess she didn't want her picture taken with Zoya!

Today was the perfect day to go to the pumpkin patch. They have this really cool corn pit. Awesome sensory therapy....Zoya loved it and didn't even try to eat any for the first 15 minutes anyways! 

It took her a while to figure out what to do, but she ended up loving it!

She thought it was funny to lay down and pretend to sleep.

Fistfuls of corn

It was all fun and games and I was taking pictures from across the corn pit box when I realized Shawn (who was supposed to be playing with Zoya) was not paying any attention to her. I yelled to him because Zoya was crawling over to another kid and she likes to touch everyone (not always gently either)....and then he motioned for me to come over.  He held up his left hand and pointed to his ring finger....can you guess what happened???!!!
 Yep, you guessed it! His ring had fallen off into the HUGE box of corn kernels!!!!!!!!! I told him he better find a new place to sleep for the night. We were searching and searching and it seemed pretty hopeless.  I mean seriously, there were BILLIONS of corn kernels in that pit! The father of this little boy that Zoya was playing with came to help us look. He and his other kids started digging holes and just going through small sections. Remember there were about 30 kids in this pit with us so the chances of finding it were slim to none! BUT OUR NEW FRIEND FOUND HIS RING! Thank God! I gave him the biggest hug ever!  I mean it's only a ring, but I would have been pretty sad if he lost it forever.  Lucky for Shawn he gets to sleep inside tonight. :)

Zoya really liked the slides! We started with a small one and moved to a bigger one and finally went on the biggest slide there and she thought it was great! She would have gone by herself but I was too nervous!

She singed "more" when she got to the bottom. 

My big girl in the pumpkin patch...

Laughing at Daddy...

This is the face Zoya made when her hands first felt the hay.  It is her "this is a new and different thing and I'm not sure what I think about it" face.  She also makes this face when she touches something hot or cold, but the face is ALWAYS followed by a big smile! See. 

LOVE this family picture :)

It was a gorgeous day and a nice way to end the weekend! My little girl looks so big in these pictures. It is such a joy to watch her experience the world for the first time!

Friday, October 22, 2010

6 Months Home

Six months home seems so crazy to me! I can't remember life without her but it was only six short months ago that she wasn't here?!  Zoya has obviously changed physically in great ways!  Many of you have commented on how BIG she looks and asked how much she has grown. Zoya has gained 4 pounds and 4 INCHES! Woah, that's almost half a foot! Our girl has lengthened out big time and is looking much more like a toddler and not a baby anymore. She was wearing 12 month clothing when we brought her home and is now wearing mostly 24 month clothing. She is in the 70th to 80th percentile on the Down Syndrome Growth Charts!! (15-30th percentile on regular charts). The skin on her face was so dry and chapped when we brought her home, I used to have to put Vaseline all over her face at night. She had eczema on her belly which is also gone now. The circles under her eyes were so purplish-black and that made her look very sick. Now those circles are only noticeable when she is really tired or sick and they are not nearly as dark as they used to be. Her feet are still teeny tiny, but did grow from a size 3 to a size 4 (12 month old size still). When we first brought Zoya home her diapers would fill up with urine so quickly because her body was simply not used to getting the needed amount of fluids. It went in and right back out until her body figured out how to use the fluids to hydrate her.

Zoya has also changed greatly in the area of behaviors. When I read about other families bringing their children home, I remember how many orphanage behaviors Zoya had when she came home. She no longer demonstrates any of those behaviors! She used to grind her teeth a lot. She did it when she was anxious or when she was eating (likely because eating was such an awful experience as it seemed to be a race to see how fast they could shove HUGE spoonfuls of mush into her mouth). This behavior was particularly difficult more me because hearing her teeth grind made my skin crawl. She also used to throw herself back and hit her head off the floor for stimulation (any floor....carpeted or tiled). This was heartbreaking to see but it was mostly gone after a month home. It resurfaced briefly a month later, but has since been gone forever.  Zoya also used to just cry for no reason for what seemed like long periods of time. She doesn't cry now unless she's in time out or VERY tired. She used to pull her own hair and hit herself on the head repeatedly, neither of which she does now. She used to make strange clicking sounds with her tongue and constantly move her tongue from one side of her mouth to the other. She used to flap her arms for stimulation.  My baby no longer does these things because she has replaced these behaviors with love and appropriate stimulation from her environment.

Zoya could hardly sit up on her own and could only army crawl when we brought her home. Six short months later, she is WALKING! Six months ago, she could only drink from a bottle with a huge hole cut in the nipple. Now she is drinking from a straw cup and learning to drink from an open cup! Six months ago, she could only be fed mushed up and softened foods on a spoon, Now she eats everything you can imagine from pretzels to snap peas to burgers and on and on. She can feed herself with a fork and is working on scooping with a spoon. She has a pincer grasp to pick small items up instead of palming everything like she used to. Six months ago she had NO IDEA what to do with toys other than throw them across the room. Six months ago she was small enough (even if it was only for a week) to fit into an infant carrier car seat! Six months ago she didn't understand any English, now she follows most directions and understands a whole lot! She had no way to communicate with us six months ago, now she is using 40 different signs and starting to talk a little at a time. The best part is that she is trying to communicate with us and effectively doing so most of the time!

In six months time, I'm still trying to figure out....who has changed more....her or me? One day soon I will write about the many ways I have completely changed since experiencing Zoya's love. My changes are not physical (although I might have gained a few pounds eating her left overs?)....they are not measurable like many of her changes, they are not easily observed by others.....instead, all my changes involve my heart, my soul, and everything I ever thought I knew about life. I am so blessed to have the opportunity to be Zoya's momma. She has changed my world and clearly showed me what true, unconditional love means.

Take a look at these pictures from Ukraine. Who can deny the fact that we all NEED love to thrive?

The changes from then to now are amazing, yet haunting to see that empty look she had before knowing love.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Some Things I Love About Her

How she is obsessed with the fact that everyone has a nose....she has to touch them all just to be sure :)

How she LOVES dancing with wild abandonment in the middle of the kitchen (or anywhere)

How she climbs up into my lap and rests her head on my chest, kisses me on the cheek, and strokes my hair while saying, "aaaahhhhhh"

How she talks back to me when I warn her about time out (same mysterious phrase and tone from her every time paired with a very seriously annoyed look--I'm sure this won't be as cute when she's 16).

How she tries SO HARD to master new skills...she is one determined girl

How she fake laughs when other people laugh

How she now slouches her shoulders and lets out a sigh when I tell her no!

How she follows her Daddy around, walking right at his heels, saying, "Dada dada dada dada"

How she has to be in my arms every single time I'm on the phone!

How she gets so excited when a strong wind blows through her hair

How she likes to help me put the wet laundry into the dryer

How she says, "Light Light" instead of "Night Night"

How she asks for music first thing in the morning before she's even out of her crib!

How she tries to push every single button she comes across (literally that is)

How she pushes in the chairs at the kitchen table when Daddy forgets!

How she puts her chubby little hand on her Daddy's face and forcefully turns his face so they're eye to eye and then just smiles

How she looks me in the eyes, reaches out, and says, "momma"

How she gets so excited when I offer her something she loves (like Elmo, chocolate, or Signing Time) and looks at me with a look that says, "Don't mess with me lady, you better be serious."

How she climbs up into her purple polka dot chair and looks like such a big girl

How she puts her finger to her lips and says, "Shhhhh" every single time Mya barks

How she walks around the house now pretending she's been doing it her entire life

How she LOVES baking with me (her favorite thing to do is use the mixers and shake her whole body like crazy while she mixes--with my help of course!)

How she likes to have one cracker in each hand and alternate taking a bite from each piece until they are both gone

How she has started running from us and laughing just because its funny (seriously she fast walks away and just laughs when we're coming toward her)

How her beautiful bright blue eyes glisten and sparkle even on the gloomiest of days

How she likes to wipe her mouth after every single bite

How she shakes her head yes every time I ask if she was a good girl while I was at work

How she tries to use her cuteness to get herself out of trouble (the other day I knew the babysitter put her in time out for throwing a toy at the dog a couple times...and when I got home I said, You weren't in time out today were you? and she kissed me and smiled with the biggest smile ever and if you're wondering, I let her off the hook!)

I love my sweet angel!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Busy Bees

Written by Zoya

I have been so busy lately. Mostly just trying my parents' patience and seeing if I can get away with things I've known I'm not allowed to do for a long time now! Like I know I'm not allowed to throw toys at the dog, but I just wanted to check and see if it will still land me in time out. It sure did (all three times I tried)! Then I thought it'd be fun to see how many times I can take my headphones off during my therapeutic listening therapy. Now keep in mind, I've done therapeutic listening for over four months, two times a day for 30 minutes each. I was a good girl the whole time, up until now! I want to keep taking my headphones off and then act like I'm traumatized when mom puts me in time out. Oh and I can't forget, I know I'm not allowed to stand up in the bathtub while mom steps 2 feet away to get my toothbrush, but I've been doing it anyways and cracking up because it's sooooo funny to see that look on Mom's face when I'm naughty.  Needless to say, Mom and Dad are worn out.

Mom and Dad dressed me like a bumble bee, I'm really not sure why.

This is my baby friend Lola. She was dressed like a pumpkin. She was confused as to why we were dressed up too.

Mom and Dad took me to the zoo for a Halloween event. Here I am walking with my Daddy.

There was lots of music. Daddy and I danced and I loved it.

We got to walk up to little windows and trade a ticket for a treat! I loved my cheese puffs!!

Here I am walking up to one of the windows. I walked up to a couple all by myself and traded my ticket in for a treat!

I really surprised myself here. Back when I was just a little kid, I was so afraid of mascots, especially the big cow at Chic Fil A. Tonight though, I thought these guys were pretty cool. I tried to grab this bear's glasses but mom stopped me before I got them. She's no fun sometimes!

I also wanted to get my picture taken with this cute penguin. I really wish Mom would have let me grab his beak but she didn't let me get close enough! I was gonna be nice, I swear! Sheesh Mom, I was just curious!

More treats. I was getting a little tired at this point. There were lots and lots of people. I've never seen that many people before!

In most of my pictures, my expression looks like this. I couldn't believe the craziness I saw. People all dressed up and dancing around like crazy people. Big fuzzy animals walking all around, lights, ghosts, a scary troll on the bridge...I mean give me a break....I never saw anything like this in Ukraine! I had a great time though!