Mar 27, 2011

One Year ago Today "Gotcha Day"

Gotcha Day

I'm not sure where this year of my life went..all I know is it flew by. While we were in hard transitional times with Samara it felt like it was never going to end..but how quickly it feels like it was so long ago. Samara has made huge improvements in the year she has been home. We are absolutely smitten with her and life is more full because she is apart of our family. I would be lying if I said she was completely attached, but we have come so far. Her sensory issues are still there but we see improvements and then some days it feels like we take two steps back. We just have to take it day by day. Behaviorally, Samara has reached an all time high temper tantrum craziness. We are trying to harness this...Sometimes we are successfull..SOMETIMES!!! So for the really good stuff....She loves her family, gives kisses and hugs...but still only says I wuv you when we say it to her or tell her to say it. She is saying lots of words and putting several two word phrases together. She motors around like a big girl. She is growing but still slowly....we have an appointment with the endocrinologist on April 13Th and I'm excited and nervous all at the same time. So we will find out if she has a growth hormone deficiency and would need growth hormone. I honestly don't think she has a problem with growth hormone. I just think she is going to be small.

Help Me Grow comes out on the 7th of April for her 6 month assessment and they want to talk preschool. She seems too little to be talking about pre school but I know it will be really good for her.

Our life is busy and hectic, going from just having Ethan to having Ethan and Samara has been wonderful and really trying at times. They love each other so much though!

This Saturday April 2nd will mark one year since she landed in the US and home for good. Although she had no idea what I was saying I told her today was GOTCHA DAY and how it was such a happy day for mommy and daddy.

Samara, mommy and daddy love you so very much!!!

I am so happy that she is a part of our family and I thank God for my babies.

Mar 12, 2011

Everyting Irie!

So, we just got back from our trip to Jamaica with the Lutz and Focht families. This was a trip to celebrate adoption with two other great families we met through the adoption process. We had a great time getting to know our new friends in such a wonderful place, thanks to both families for helping to make such a memorable experience for us.

This was Samara's first trip, if you're not counting the trip home from Russia, and all in all she did really well for being taken out of her daily routines. The flight down could have been worse, and truth be told wasn't as bad as I thought it would be flying with a four year old and two year old. It began with very little sleep the night before, a one hour ride to the Dayton airport, all the airport fun (sarcasm), a one hour delay on the plane after we boarded, a two hour flight to Orlando, a very short layover followed by another two hour flight to Montego Bay and a very long line to get through customs. Sounds great, doesn't it? Ohhh, I forgot to mention the 4 hour bus trip from the airport in Montego to our villa in Port Antonio.....

It was late when we got there and already dark, but the initial sights of the villa seemed enough to make the trip worth while, at least until the morning came and the sun rose to the beauty that awaited us right outside our bedroom doors. Certainly with this kind of scenery staring you in the face you can quickly forget the trials and tribulations of the previous day's travels and look forward to the wonderful week ahead.

Day one was one of rest and relaxation, and getting to observe our surroundings. Not to mention letting the little ones get out and stretch their legs and burn off some of their pent up energy. Let me take a moment to tell you about the breakfast we had that was prepared by the staff taking care of us at NorseHill Villa. First was the fruit tray which consisted of pineapple, Jamaican apples, papaya, grapefruit and grapes. Then we had pancakes, scrambled eggs, toast, turkey bacon, orange juice, guava juice, coffee and tea............ahhh, just what the Dr. ordered. Each morning we were blessed with a wonderful meal to begin our day.

Our afternoons were spent hanging around the house and relaxing or visiting one of the three nearby beaches, and one afternoon we went to the local market and had lunch at the marina. The days went by far too quickly, but each one of them was a great day filled with memories we'll cherish forever. Dinner each evening was impressive, and nobody left the table hungry as Alma and Marjorie made enough food to feed an army. Some of the our dishes consisted of curried chicken and shrimp, jerk pork, lobster, grilled fish, rice, vegetables and probably a couple other fabulous foods that are escaping my brain at the moment. This of course was followed by a bit of desert each night as well.

The sun rose early and fell that way too, and so did the kids for the most part. Ethan was awake each morning with the sunrise and thankfully Wayne (butler, chief of security) was there each morning to have a pot of coffee brewing at just the right time. Samara was never too far behind, and thus our day would begin. There was a pool on the grounds that Ethan found himself wanting to enjoy each day, no matter how cool the water was. And speaking of the water, not as warm as you think a pool in Jamaica would be, in fact the ocean water was warmer than that pool. But it didn't stop the monster from wanting to get in each and every day, and guess who had to get in with him?

We went to three different beaches that week (San San, Winnifred and Frenchman's Cove) and each time found ourselves happier than we were the time before. First was San San, and although it was nice and there was virtually nobody there, it wasn't as a nice as Winnifred. Beach #2 had many more people on it but our Chief of Security accompanied us that day. Leah got to do some snorkeling while I nursed the sunburn I got the day before at San San. The kids loved playing on the beach and in the sand, and Samara loved being in the water. She didn't quite grasp the concept of how deep the water was and wanted to be put down to walk, and thankfully there was quite a bit of beautiful shallow water for her to walk and kick around in.

The third beach was my favorite of the week, and I'm thinking that it was Ethan's too. The beach wasn't as long and the cove was closed in tightly by two cliffs........but the property had a fresh water river running through it that spilled right into the cove, so you had the mix of the cool fresh water and the warm ocean water all at the same time. This beach had many more inhabitants than the previous two, but also served food and drinks with a professional wait staff. There was a wooden swing hanging from a tree that the kids could swing out over the fresh water just as it ran into the cove, and Ethan had lots of fun with that. The water was so clear in both the river and ocean that you could see fish, so cool.

Even though the kids would get worn out in the sun and sand, none of them wanted to leave each day. Sunblock and cameras were a must, and if it weren't for little ones much needed and most certainly deserved naps, I think we could have stayed at the beach all day. Our day at the market was rainy, and to be clear we had some kind of rain almost everyday, although most of it was overnight or in the morning. Usually it didn't last long, but Friday market day was overcast and partly rainy all day. We found some things for the kids, Ethan got a drum and Samara a summer dress. Not for the quality but more for the memory. The market was kind of like going to a flea market, but kind of outside with mud on the ground and tarps blocking the rain, and needless to say we didn't stay too long. From there we headed to the marina for a drink and some lunch, and where Leah found a gift shop with some cool souvenirs in it.

Lastly, the trip home mirrors the description above about the trip down, with the exception of the monumentally epic meltdown my daughter had in the Jamaican airport. It was toward the beginning of the 21 hours of Saturday's travelling, and what was left of my sanity. At the time my head wanted to explode right off my shoulders, but looking back now I can only imagine how difficult a trip like that was for a 2 year old with her history. All in all she did great, and Ethan did great too, but I think that everything just caught up to her and her sensory got the best of her. We're extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to go on such a wonderful trip and to let our little ones get to experience different cultures. Thanks again to Chris, Jennifer and little Ethan, and to Jeremy, Heather and Ellie for allowing us to be part of something so wonderful. And thanks to Ed for offering up Norsehill Villas for auction at the benefit.

I could write much, much more, but that would certainly make this already long blog post more of a book and I fear that this may be too long to read as it is, so I'm going to end it with this little bit of Jamaican wisdom...........Everyting Irie!

Feb 13, 2011

jumping, horses and happy feet

It's amazing what a year can bring, and it's equally amazing just how fast that year can go, and as we begin to approach that year mark (6 weeks away from gotcha day) I sit here this morning watching Ethan and Samara playing together amazed at the amount of progress she's made, they've made as siblings and all of us together as a family. Leah and I had our 6 year anniversary a couple weeks ago, Valentines day is tomorrow and Leah turns 30 in just 10 short days.......and I just want to begin by saying how lucky, blessed and truly thankful I am for my wife and my kids and how great this past year has been!

Yesterday as we prepared to get our taxes done I stumbled across the picture we had taken of her in Moscow for her passport, and while holding that picture I watched her playing in the floor and I couldn't believe what a difference a year has created in my beautiful little girl. Although some of her growth has been slower than what we hoped for, and compared to what we hear and read from others and on blogs, I know in my heart that she is healthy, smart and full of life.

The stoic look on her face then has now been replaced by smiles and laughter, unless of course she is tired and has turned into "crankopotamus", but from a girl who only laughed or smiled when she was tickled, to one who giggles and cackles at everything from running to yawning is miraculous in itself. Our little princess is so active and is talking so much these days, and we're always in awe of each and every step she makes!

Some of Samara's latest, greatest enjoyments in life are her love for jumping, her new love of her rocking horse and happy feet, which may be her favorite movie. Samara has always enjoyed being swung around, tossed in the air and anything else that would resemble a trip to the circus, but now she has learned that she can provide herself a small sample of that same feeling. She now loves (right now as I'm trying to type this she's trying to climb up on me asking me "pease" to tickle her, and it has become a game between both kids to climb on me and get tickled over and over) to climb up on the coffee table, or couch or chair, and jump off onto the floor over and over again laughing and giggling the entire time. She'll even applaud her efforts and give a big "yea" or "woo hoo" as she climbs back up. When you first see this little body doing this you get a bit worried, however after watching her jump and seeing how much strength and control she has in her legs it's really cool to watch.

Samara hasn't really ever been, at least to this point anyway, into her toys and she just doesn't really stay focused on one thing for long. Lately this has changed a bit and one of the toys she's found that she really likes is the rocking horse we bought for Ethan a couple years back. When she's in the mood (like right now) she will get on it and rock for a while. She learned very quickly to climb right on up and rock without much guidance, and now is a professional rocking horse cowgirl.

Lastly (well, not really but for this post it is) she loves the movie Happy Feet and screams with excitement when we turn it on. Whether she's watching it in the car or on the TV in the house she loves when the little penguin Mambo taps his little feet. If she's in the car when he begins she will kick her feet feverishly and giggle along while doing it, and this morning her and Ethan decided to do some tap dancing of their own in the kitchen. Unfortunately I wasn't quick enough with the camera to catch any video or shots of the action but I can attest to the absolute cuteness that was being displayed at the time. Leah and I just watched and laughed as the two of them tapped and slid across the floor like Gregory Hines (yes, I am that old).

I don't post much, although I have a new found affinity for following the blogs of the Caseys, the Currans and the Ortis family, and reading them this morning made me feel as though I had a small bit to add to the fun. Perhaps I'll find more time to post since I have so much inspiration surrounding me every minute I'm home with my two little monsters. Please enjoy along with the couple pics I've added.

Jan 23, 2011


Ok, so this is big News.....This is a bit of a long story so I'll make it short.

As you all know Justin and I were married in Jamaica coming up on 6 years ago on Feb 1st. When we left I cried, literally cried. It was amazing, magical, beautiful, romantic, relaxing, exilerating and just plain fun! We said we would go back on our 5th anniversary but when we decided to adopt those plans fell by the way side. Well one year later we are going.
I will come back later and post all the details, as for now I need to go and get ready for bed.....Stay tuned for details.....We leave Feb 26th for paradise!!!

Happy 4th Birthday Ethan!

On January 11th my Boy turned 4 years old. I am so proud of him and I love this little ball of fire!
He had a great week of Birthday Celebration. Since his Birthday fell on a Tuesday we had dinner at his favorite restaurant, Chick fil a, and mommy made cupcakes. He was supposed to take cupcakes to school for his Birthday but it snowed and school was closed. This worked out great for Ethan. That meant his cousins Dylan and Evan didn't have school either, so he went to his mamaw's and got to play in the snow and eat cupcakes with his cousins and they sang Happy Birthday to him. He did however have school on Thursday and I made brownies and he said they sang Happy Birthday to him there too. When I picked him up Thursday after work at my mom's he said to you and daddy sang Happy Birthday to me, at mamaw's Dylan and and Evan sang Happy Birthday to me, at school today they sang Happy Birthday to me and at my party on Saturday you will all sing Happy Birthday to me.......That means I will get Happy Birthday sung to me 4 times and I'll be 4. Isn't he cute!!!
On Saturday the 15th we had him a Pirate Birthday Party at the Recreations Play land. They have a ton of things for the kids to do. The kids had a great time and Ethan is still talking about his party.
I will have to post pic's later as I am a bad parent and forgot to bring my camera, and so Thank God my friend Britt had hers and we took pic's on her camera. When I get these from her I will post and edit to this post.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ETHAN! Mommy, Daddy and Samara love you so very much!!!

Back Tracking....Merry Christmas!

Excuse me for me being so very behind...You will now find a series of catch up post. How embarrassing!

Christmas was wonderful, we are so blessed and had great times with all our family.
I honestly wasn't expecting Samara to really get into Christmas and opening gifts since her Birthday was only two months back and she could have cared less about opening gifts then. Well that changed, I was completely surprised. I'm not sure if it was just watching her brother that brought it out of her or what, but she was so cute. She would get excited and say ooooo and awwww when she would open gifts. Funny!

Here are some pic's from Christmas. By the way, please no judgement for the way I look without make up on. For those of you who know me, you know I wouldn't normally post any pic's of me without a shower and make up. LOL

Dec 12, 2010

Long Time No Post

I'm feeling like a broken record everytime I post on here about how I am busy and have neglected my blog but it's true. So much has happened in the last month. We celebrated Thanksgiving together for the first time as a family of 4. We have much to be Thanksful about.

Starting with the first time we ever met Samara was over Thanksgiving. It was surreal that it has already been a year since we first met her. She has changed so much since then.

We also went out to Corsey's Tree Farm as we always do and chop down our tree. It turned out Beautiful and smells lovely. Samara likes to take the oraments off but since it's real and prickly she doesn't bother it too much. I took a picture of our tree with the Quinn in front of it since both kids were unavailable at the time. :) See below

So the big news is Samara now wears glasses, I have to say I was highly disappointed the selection of glasses for babies. Since Samara is so small she has to have baby size glasses and also ones that go around her ears. So the selection was slim to say the least. I settled on a pair but I still don't care for them. The good thing is she looks cute in whatever she has on so I can live with them. I am just about done with Christmas shopping only have two more gifts to buy. Thank God!!! I am ready to stop being so busy running aroung on evenings and weekends.

Right now Samara is napping and Justin and ethan are watching a christmas show on TV. The house is quiet which is unusal these days. Things are good and we are so excited about Christmas. Hope all is well with everyone. I am going to jump off and join my boys on the couch. Enjoy a few pic's.

Nov 8, 2010

Sneak Peak....Princess Samara

So as you all know, My extremely talented friend Lisa amazes me all the time with her picture taking talents....She just sent me two sneak peaks of the session she did for Samara's 2 year pic's...Now I can hardly wait to see the rest...I think you'll see why!

Nov 5, 2010

OMG-----Haven't been able to get on the blog----Couldn't post for Samara's 2nd Birthday

Arghhh so stinking frustrating....everyday I tried to get on and it would not let me post!!

Ok So last Friday the 29th our little Samara turned 2. Unbelievable she is doing so much better saying lots and lots of words and motoring around like a crazy girl.

We still have sensory and behavioral issues but we take those day by day.

Back to her Birthday, we had her Birthday on Saturday and other than mommy and daddy running around crazy getting everything ready it went really well.

She looked absolutely adorable in her tutu dress. She received so many gifts from family and friends and we are so blessed. Also another thing I could not post about and missed was Halloween and her 7 months home. Halloween was very chilly but she did so good. Trying her hardest to say trick or treat to everyone and always saying Thank You! So darn cute!

It's hard to believe it's been 7 months already.

Life is no where near perfect and we have our good days and not so good days.

Hey but who doesn't?

Happy 2nd Birthday sweetie. Mama, Dada and Ethan all love you very much!!! We hope your Birthday was alot of fun and you felt the love from all our family and friends.

Enjoy the pics!!!