Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Popsicle Dance

I have a million things to blog about....things that are annoying me about how most of the rest of the world sees Down Syndrome...but I just don't feel like being a downer tonight....so I present you with a video of "The Popsicle Dance." Zoya came up with this one all on her own! And you get to hear her "no no no" which she is starting to say to me when I tell her to do something she doesn't want to do!!! This chic cracks me up!

And looking at these pics the thing that comes to mind is that one of the 3 words we were given to describe Zoya before we met her was "active." Yep, I agree :)

And a bonus video...warning, if you get motion sick take some Dramamine! We decided to try the "blanket swing" last night for some sensory play. The only other time we tried to do this it was with Zoya's OT and she HATED it. She has come a long way in her sensory development and I will just say Shawn and I couldn't keep up with her demand for "more swinging" last night! Our arms were burning. She would lay down on the blanket and say "more" and we would swing her again...she thought it was hilarious and even more funny when Mya would run into the blanket and bump her from underneath! I love this laugh of hers and I think she still sounds like a baby when she laughs...I LOVE it!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Reflecting back on last Thanksgiving...this is what I wrote last year....

As we sat down to eat all I could think about was Zoya and how this will be her LAST Thanksgiving alone in an orphanage and how next year will be her FIRST Thanksgiving with her family who loves her so much. We even talked about how next Thanksgiving Zoya will be sitting at the table with us. Next Thanksgiving we will sit down to eat and remember our days without Zoya and her days without us. We will be so thankful that we have each other because she needs us and we need her. This year as we were eating I imagined Zoya sitting to my right smiling and throwing mashed potatoes. I wanted her there so bad that it hurt my heart in a way I've never felt before. I wanted her there so bad that when I closed my eyes for a moment, I could see and feel her there with us. I imagined looking at Shawn and smiling at each other as we realized this amazing dream has come true. I imagine reminiscing about how we were so scared to step out on faith and take this journey, but also knowing it was the most amazing leap of faith we've ever taken. Imagining what life will be like from one year from each day, when we are together with our Zoya, makes the pain of not having her here sting a tiny bit less.

And this year...Zoya sat to my right, and though she didn't throw mashed potatoes she dug into her mashed potatoes with both hands! Shawn and I smiled at each other with unspoken words that said how blessed we are.  We had such a great day together. We are so thankful to have Zoya home with us for her first Thanksgiving!

Our weekend started off with Uncle Bub coming to town last night.  We ate lots of yummy appetizers for dinner and just hung out.  Today we decorated the Christmas tree, which Zoya loved!! She really likes the lights and hasn't bothered the tree much at all! But just in case we put any breakable ornaments toward the top of the tree!

We have an artificial tree....Zoya felt it and made this face:

Then she signed "hurt"....I guess she thought it was prickly!

Here she is in awe just staring at the lights! (Notice Elmo? He looks pretty surprised, maybe this is the first time he has seen a Christmas tree??)

Zoya signing "tree"

Loving the lights.....(so is Elmo....and Mya)

Sweet girl...

This is what Zoya does now when I get the camera out and say "smile"...she makes such a cheezer face you can't even see her eyes!

She thinks she is soooo funny....and, she is!

Love this picture....Our cute little table plus Zoya's cute little dishes :)

Eat! Eat! Eat! GIVE ME FOOD!

I'm sooo hungry....but they're still not feeding me!

I'm just going to pretend I'm eating even though there is nothing on my plate!

OK PEOPLE, where is the turkey???!!!

Zoya's first bite of turkey...she enjoyed it :) (She is laughing here)

Digging into the mashed potatoes...

Very focused...

No clue what this face is all about haha...but check out the fist full of mashed potatoes!

Turkey Coma....

If anyone thought this girl was sweet and innocent...here's proof she's got a little naughty side...(pulling the dog's tail while she eats her turkey dinner!)

Playing dress up with Uncle Bub's shirt...

Happy Thanksgiving! I am so thankful for my sweet Zoya. I am thankful that I have a husband who loves me and takes care of me and is the best daddy ever! I am thankful for my friends and family and for my snugly dog Mya. I am thankful for my house and my job. I am thankful for my washing machine and my dryer (after hand washing all our clothes in Ukraine I realized how lucky we are). I am thankful that God chose us to travel half way around the world to find our sweet girl. I am thankful God gave me His eyes for the orphans in distress (because it changed me) even though some days it would be easier not to have seen those things. I am thankful I am an American. I am thankful for so many blessings on this Thanksgiving Day and every other day!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Elmo's Front Row Seat

It's no secret, Zoya LOVES Elmo. She sometimes still calls him "Lala" because that's what he says but now she's mostly calling him "Melmo" which is totally adorable.  She asks about a million times a day to watch Elmo, but the kicker is, she only wants to watch the SAME video over and over! It's Sesame Sings Karaoke. I bought about five other ones and she actually gets annoyed when I tell her she can watch Elmo and put a different video in...even if it is all Elmo! I'm pretty sure I have this video memorized by now...and no worries, you can buy it on Amazon. One day I panicked a little because I realized I bought this video at T.J. Maxx for $3 and I freaked out thinking it was irreplaceable and what if something happened to it....oh my what would we do!?

Anyways, Zoya had us laughing the other night because she was making sure her Elmo doll could see the TV and watch Sesame Sings Karaoke with her. She kept moving him all around and positioning him just right so he could see the TV. Then she'd rub his head and kiss him! What a good little mama she is to her Elmo!

Hey I know him! We're friends because I see him almost every day!

If you wanna see this smile, just put in Sesame Sings Karaoke...she looks like a kid at Disney World!

Elmo's Front Row Seat....

Kisses to Elmo from Mama Zoya

A little squeeze for Elmo

She moved him to the other side so he could see better I think...he looks happy to me!

Friends forever!

Checking to make sure Elmo isn't too sad during this sad part of the video...

"Seriously Mom, you don't even have a good excuse for not allowing me to watch Elmo AGAIN!"

P.S. This year I'm SO thankful Zoya likes Elmo and forgot all about Barney...Elmo is so much more tolerable!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

7 Months Home...1 Day Early

I can't believe it's been 5 days since my last blog post....I use to be so good at updating every other day or so but what can I say, life gets in the way of my blogging habit sometimes:) Things around here have been super busy as usual between work, therapies, doctor appointments, and just enjoying our family! And I look at the calendar and realize that tomorrow Zoya has been home for SEVEN months! Holy cow!

Yesterday I had one of those days where that feeling of being so blessed just wraps you up and takes over! Zoya gave me a million extra hugs and kisses and smiles and I tried to savor every single moment. We had our buddy Seth and his sister over Friday until Saturday. We did our annual "Seth weekend" traditions which included going to Kraynaks which is a big toy store and winter wonderland with tons of lights and Christmas displays. The whole time we were there I just kept thinking of when we went there last year. We went the same weekend a year ago. We had committed to adopt Zoya just 3 months before and we were so excited about getting her home. Last year when we were there we talked a lot about what it would be like to bring Zoya to Kraynaks and wondered if she would love the trees and lights. We bought her a little penguin hat in anticipation of her being with us this winter. I got teary just thinking back on waiting and hoping and wishing so badly for her to be with us.  She loved it like we thought she would! Her little eyes lit up with all the trees and lights!

I had many moments yesterday where I looked at our sweet angel and was overcome with that familiar thought, "what would her life be like if we had not stepped out on faith?" This thought usually comes to me at least once a day but yesterday it just kept slapping me upside the face. It happens in happy moments, when we're dancing or singing or laughing or loving on each other.  Guilt starts to creep over me as I recall being so close to not committing to adopt Zoya.  Pictures of her empty eyes and frightened joy-less face, spaghetti legs and wooden cribs and other things that are still unspeakable, flash before my eyes. 

Today, nearly SEVEN months after she's been a part of our lives, I look at her joyful love-filled face taking in all the love of a family and loving every second of it....I look at her smiling eyes that tell me she is so happy and thankful. I look at my husband's eyes who mirror hers and my heart overflows. I watch her with amazement as she learns something new every single day.  She is so darn smart. She is so darn happy. She is so darn beautiful. She is so darn AMAZING.  I am so thankful to God for creating Zoya to be ours. We are beyond blessed.  I am so thankful we stopped with all the excuses, the what-ifs, the worries about people judging us or not accepting our decision, stopped worrying about things we couldn't control....I'm so thankful we stopped all that and just listened and followed and received such an amazing blessing.

Zoya's first time sitting on Santa's lap!! She only tried to take his glasses off a couple of time (notice he is holding her hand down hehe). She felt his beard and smiled at him a couple of times, then we reached back to us like, OK that was fun but a little weird, I'm ready for you to hold me now!

And then....after ZOYA POOPED ON THE POTTY and took a nap, it was time to make gingerbread men! (Yes I realize those two things in the same sentence might give you a bad picture in your mind, but I had to brag about my girl going on the potty since every other time we tried she'd wait us out then crawl to the corner and go in her diaper!!....annnnnyways....)

A little break for a smooch from her buddy Seth...

And at the risk of Zoya hating me forever when she realizes in 10 years that I uploaded this picture......
It was just too darn funny not to! It looks like I blacked out her tooth with a marker, but thats all gingerbread cookie! Haha.

Our little gingerbread family...notice the hand coming in for steal?? That would be Zoya!

I never imagined someone so little could make an impact so big!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dinner Funnies and Determination

Zoya kept grabbing my fork at dinner and wanted more chicken. I kept reminding her to say "more" instead of grabbing. Each time she would say "more" with my prompting. The next time she grabbed the fork.......

Me: "Zoya use your words"

Zoya: "OOOOOOOOPEN" (big proud smile)

Me: sigh, "Good try but wrong word baby!"

I couldn't help but laugh with this sweet girl trying her hardest to do what her mama said! She is SO determined. If I could only pick one word to describe her, that would be it! Seriously, the concept of "impossible" is foreign to Zoya. Like it is impossible to fit a huge beach ball in her little tikes cozy coupe car while she is in there herself....but I'm telling ya, this girl doesn't stop trying! Like I always say, I wanna be like Zoya when I grow up!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Always and Forever

Zoya's had a little cold the past few days. She's been coughing a bit but only at night after she's been asleep for a few hours. Last night a little after midnight she started coughing pretty bad and couldn't stop. I went into her room and picked her up out of her crib. I held her tight and rocked her and loved on her and eventually her coughing stopped and she drifted to sleep in my arms. As she slept in my arms I just kept thanking God for giving us one another. I thought of all the times Zoya had probably been sick (we know she had pneumonia and frequent colds and of course heart surgery). I got really sad thinking of all the times that she probably laid in her crib coughing, or in pain, or having a bad fever....with no mama to pick her up and comfort her and rock her back to sleep. I wondered about her recovery after her surgery and if anyone comforted her at all. While I held her and kissed her cheeks I couldn't help but think of all the lonely nights she endured before she became ours forever. I couldn't help but picture her as a tiny baby just laying in a crib all alone. I felt angry and strangely a little guilty. I am her mama and I wasn't there. Of course I wasn't...I didn't even know she existed! How could I feel guilty? There is not a thing I could have done that would have gotten us to her any faster. How I wish I could have been Zoya's mama from day one. How I wish I could erase the lonely nights from her story.

Those lonely nights will always be a part of her story...a part that will make me sad every time I think about it, but a part none-the-less. There is nothing I can do to change those 22 months or erase them from existence as much as I'd sometimes like to...because it would be easier that way. Knowing Zoya lived for 22 months without anyone on Earth who truly loved her...knowing she lived 22 months without feeling a mama or daddy's love makes my stomach hurt and my heart break...it takes the breath right out of my lungs. I can't take those lonely nights away. They are part of her story....her amazing redemptive story. Knowing Zoya had so many lonely nights makes me a better mama. It makes me want to take every second of every day and just pour every ounce of my love into her soul. It makes me want to give her the stars and the moon. I may not be able to take those lonely nights away, but I sure can promise that I will be there giving my angel all I've got always and forever from that point on.

Always and forever and then some...that's how long we'll love you Zoya.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mama Doesn't Like My New Word!

Hi Guys....Zoya here! I learned how to say "NO NO NO" recently and my mama thought it was so cute....for about 24 hours....then....I learned how powerful that word NO really is and mama doesn't like it so much anymore! I don't know what the big deal is, I mean I was just trying to assert myself and I think I did a darned good job! Mama was eating a cookie and I politely signed "eat" and she gave me a piece. Then I signed "eat" again and she tried to give me my banana that I'd been eating. So I simply said, "NO NO NO," forcefully gently pushed the banana away and grabbed her cookie! Do YOU see anything wrong with that? I certainly don't!

Well it's past my bedtime and I have a little cold, so I'm going to snuggle up with my froggie feet jammies and settle in for a nice cozy sleep! G'nite friends!

Love, Zoya

Monday, November 8, 2010

My Silly Monkey

I love this girl to pieces...

Zoya has been keeping us laughing lately. She is just so silly!

She kept pulling down the towel on the stove to look at herself in the window of the oven so we put this mirror up on the wall for her and she LOVES it. She just LOVES watching her cute little self! I love watching her too! She makes all kinds of funny faces in the mirror. She watches herself eat and drink in the mirror, she makes lots of noises and watches her mouth and is just a nut in this mirror! It is fun and good for speech motivation!

In this video you can see Zoya getting her groove on in the mirror! The mirror used to be down low, then we moved it higher to motivate her to stand more and strengthen her little leggies.

And Zoya's newest accomplishment....opening every door in the house!! Here she is standing by the cupboard that holds her crackers signing "eat." She gets busted all the time trying to go in there lately!

Sneaking into the cupboard....

 And here she is slamming the door shut when she got busted! You can see she thinks its so funny!

You can see this in action in the video. She just makes me laugh. Look at that little smirk when she gets caught. It is very difficult to be firm with this stinker without laughing right along with her sometimes!!

And how can this video not just make you laugh?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Halloween and Catching Up

Busy doesn't begin to describe it! We didn't end up trick or treating since it was hailing and pretty cold here. I just didn't think that sounded like much fun. So instead, we went to Panera, walmart, and Toys R Us and had tons of fun :) We dresed Zoya in her pink Skeleton jammies and took her out!
Notice her nice "ring sit." She is sitting like this or "criss cross applesauce" more than the awful "w-sit" lately :)

The Friday before Halloween Zoya came to the school I work at for the Halloween parade and party. She LOVED it. I tell ya, this girl MUST have been in a parade before because she just smiled and waved at everyone as I carried her through the halls! Her costume for the school parade and party matched mama's and the other 2nd grade teachers. See:

Zoya had a blast playing with all the kids and their costumes!

Zoya is recently starting to try to say more words. It seemed speech has always been the area that she was developing slowest in, but I do have to remind myself that she has ONLY been exposed to the English language for six months. Last night she said "nite nite" instead of "light light" like she has been saying. It was the cutest thing ever and she kept saying it over and over and was so proud of herself! She also says something that sounds a lot like yellow when she sees something yellow!  She is trying so hard to talk and is starting to get a little frustrated when she has to keep trying because we don't get it!  She can meow like a cat, moo like a cow and make a sound like a turkey with her tongue!

And this story makes me laugh every time I tell it....so Zoya and I were shopping and you know all the Christmas stuff is out already!!!! And she pointed at a Santa doll and said, "Saaaattttaaaa." Shocked, I looked and her and said, "What did you say?" She said it again. I made her say it a third time and it wasn't as clear as S-A-N-T-A but it sounded a heck of a lot like it! I thought I was hearing things or making it up in my head. I walked away thinking, thats weird and didn't think too much about it again.  Then today the sitter sent me a text saying Zoya was looking at a book with Santa in it, pointed to his picture and said, "Santa." I KNEW IT! How in the world did she learn that? All I could think was that she remembered it from Ukraine? This sounds very far fetched but it is all I can think of. I asked one of my students who is from Ukraine how to say Santa in Ukranian and he said "it's the same." The reason I know Zoya had seen Santa in Ukraine is because the director gave us 2 pictures of Zoya the day we adopted her...one of those pictures was of Zoya in a bouncy seat with a Santa statue next to her from last Christmas.  Strange? I think so! I have no other explanation as to how she would have learned who Santa is!! She doesn't hardly watch TV and she is mostly with us or our sitter, so I have no clue but it makes me laugh and look forward to Christmas!

Off to continue this crazy beautiful life...