Friday, December 9, 2011

Five Months Home Update

I now understand why blogs get a little dusty after families get home.

Life is a balance of trying to find your new family direction, adjustments, growing pains, multiple doctor appointments, fighting with insurance companies (grrrrr),  trying to get your child any kind of special therapy services they qualify for (which DID not work out for us, I will just say I didn't have the fight in me at this time, NO thank you to the school system) and muddling through day to day life with multiple kids, activities and homework. (and like 100 other things...puppies, housework, cooking) Oh, and beginning homeschooling. Well, it's enough to make a mind shut down.

 Blogging gets left way behind.

Life now is  watching the world through your newest little one's eyes, and seeing things in a whole new perspective.

Realizing how much we take for granted. Celebrating in a whole new way holidays and family traditions. Sveta has adjusted very well and I always say "she loves being loved" and we love her more than I could ever express here. I look at her and think " AMAZING is God that He knew this child was ours?" would think all the adjustments would fall on Sveta...not so. People ask "how is she adjusting?" but I can say, adoption is a Family Adjustment. It is loving through all the changes and sometimes it is very rocky. It is realizing we all are imperfect and we love Sveta so much we all work on adjusting together...we are a family. We are thankful she likes us! Because we are far from perfect!

Somehow...we all fit together. And we live out life as a family of five in vivid color. And it gets crazy chaos at times.

Fun. Chaos. Loud. Dirty. (that would be my house)

Around one year ago God broke our hearts for what breaks his and we began the journey to Sveta. I can't believe a year has passed. We were watching Sveta last night, sucking down a chocolate ice cream cone after dinner and Eli said "just think how different her life is from a year ago..."

Last year all we had to hold onto was a tiny picture and a 15 second video of her in a little red car singing in Russian. We loved her but why? God alone grew love in our hearts for Sveta, our little girl. A year ago I stared at this picture and wondered....what is she like? Is this real? Will she ever really be part of our family?

Now, she is here. Laughing, learning, going to preschool, being tucked into bed every night after being read a story, running into her daddy's arms when he gets home from work. She says funny things like "mommy I can't say that word because I don't talk my words right" and "mommy, my back has fireflies in it" and the heart breaker....."Mommy...You love me??? Really?????"

Yes. Sveta. I love you. Really. You are my child, born not from my body but from my heart. You are no less my child because you were born thousands of miles away.

You are Loved. Cherished. Adored. Wanted. We will never let you go.

Five months ago we got home. It's gone by so fast, I am actually in denial Christmas is right around the corner. How can that be??

Life has been...busy. Beyond busy. Where did the months go???

Lots of pictures guys..five months worth!

Sveta has started preschool. She has made so many friends! She will be doing two years of preschool and a lot of work at home to learn all she needs for kindergarten! She is counting, saying her ABC's, learning her letter sounds, colors and shapes.  Most of all...she loves to play with her friends! She still talks about her friends from the baby house though and wants to know how they are. I pray all of her friends have families someday.

She has learned to love ice cream and that sometimes there is a funny truck singing music that brings a treat to her front door.

She took her first vacation the beach. The squeals from the back seat when she saw water for the first time are something we will remember forever.
How do I explain such joy?
Eli, Peyton, Paige and I just sat and soaked in her squeals.
I had thought Eli was nuts for suggesting we go to the beach after being home such a short time.
But it was during that tine we were able to bond as a family.
And wow...the P's were able to see the beach through Sveta's sweet little brand new.
Something they have probably taken for granted... but not the summer of 2011.

What every little girl needs...her daddy's hand and a little purse.

This summer we realized little one has some major tanning genetics...she turns a color of bronze after 24 hours in the sun (with sunblock!).

Sister bonds have grown.

And big brother has always been there to make sure she is safe..he is almost more over protective than Eli and I!
He's always there...making sure she is safe.

He had a sprained ankle here...but was determined to crawl up the inflatable to hold onto her.

We are blessed with hyperactive, busy, loud, messy, compassionate, loving kids and are so thankful God has grown our family in ways we never imagined.
Goofy Blessings.

This one cracks me up. She was having tooooo much fun! Her joy makes us so happy!

Halloween???? What's that????

Friends....always, always a part of our life!

Out of all the costumes in the store...Buzz.
Me.."Sveta would you like to be a princess?"
Sveta..."No Mommy...BUZZ!!"

Mine? All mine???

Baby House 19 Reunion! We are beyond thankful to have the Enskat family living so close to us, a continual support. This fall we were overjoyed to meet two more families from baby house 19...!!! We cant wait to see them again! Love Love our baby house 19 families. Nothing like bonding over a shared background. God is Good. So bring us together and keep us in touch with one another.

She is Home.



Never letting go......

Sometime in September us crazy baby house 19 mama's decided to send Christmas to Nikolaev. I only wish my crying jag to Michelle asking if she thought she could help send Christmas to the ones left behind would have started in maybe....August...
We had limited time but you guys came out in full force and we were OVERWHELMED by boxes and blessings.
We were able to send two orphanages gifts! And your generosity helped with all the shipping.
We would like to be a bit more organized (and not me crying, all emotional while in car line, calling Michelle asking what can we do at last minute??)
Next year, we will be better organized and we are working on growing our non profit Circle of Hope to umbrella adoption and orphan care.


The Lord provides all we need and continues to rain down blessings.

Oh how he loves.

To end...

"Every good and perfect gift is from above" James 1:17

Sveta is Home.

Sveta Josie is home.

Tucked into bed. Loved. Wrapped up in adoration.

Thank you Lord for reminding us to remain STEADFAST in your command to us.

It's all about You.

You created our family and to you we give praise.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Through Her Eyes

Sveta wasn't quite sure what to think of our weird American Halloween.....until she realized people were loading CANDY into her little bucket. Especially cute was the way she would yell "TWIK OAR TWEAT!!!" I think she got even MORE candy because of that!

                                         Out of all the costumes, she chose Buzz Lightyear!!

Saying "To infinity and beyond!" (okay TRYING to say it anyway...)

We knock on doors and people give us candy???

Watching our children last night, filled with pure joy and excitement shining on their faces, caused me to pause - to let it soak in how much our God loves US. My heart is overflowing with thanks and awe of how He works for good, how He brings children into our lives, and at the miracle of adoption. So, so thankful for each and every one of my children.

All four of them....three walking here on earth with us, one dancing in Heaven.

October was a full month and full of firsts for Sveta. It has brought our family so much joy to experience things through Sveta's eyes.

Headed to Preschool

Autumn is here and we have so much to be thankful for...welcome November...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Hallmark Event

It's been nearly seven years since we had professional photos done as a family. Recently extended family arranged large group pictures but for our family of five it was a very difficult experience.
It's hard to explain but after one of your children is no longer walking on earth with you, family photos bring a certain level of sadness. We had no input in the arranged extended family pictures of setting, photographer, clothing or how we could remember Emma in them. That brought much sadness to the pictures for all of was as if no one understood how special family photos were to us.

Prior to knowing about the extended family pictures I had been mulling over family pictures in my mind. A thought came to my head how to celebrate the new chapter in our lives - life with Sveta.
This past weekend, we celebrated a milestone. In a way we were able to celebrate life with our children here on earth and remember Emma in Heaven.

Family pictures.

It had to be extraordiary...amazing...and it was.

My friend Haylee is just starting to do photography, Heavenly Butterfly photography, (she is also on FB!) If you are in the East Tennessee area check her out! So, a while back I had this crazy idea to have our family pictures done at the Two Rivers Mansion in Nashville. This is where The Band Perry shot their video for the song "If I Die Young".  Haylee lives in Tennessee and I had been saying for months she needed to travel here to snap our family, little did I know my husband would set up the whole thing with Haylee and give me a week 1/2 notice!
These are just a few of the photos Haylee did. I love them all. Emma's presence is in each of them. There are little things here and there that are very subtle.

Haylee knew how special and significant these photos would be to us for she too has children in Heaven.

This piano is the one in the "If I Die Young Video" by The Band Perry ....the kids were cracking up when Haylee told them to crawl under it to take a picture.

Thank you Haylee! Can't wait to see the rest of them. Thank you for being such an important part of this hallmark point in our lives, and for always, always being supportive, and always my funny friend with the same crazy accent and warped personality as myself. I love you!'s the legacy we leave behind.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Christmas for 115 Left Behind

The Empty Playground.
There are things I saw there I will never fully understand. I knew while we were at Sveta's orphanage God was telling us we were there for more than fulfilling our adoption of Sveta.
There were children literally everywhere. Children of all ages up to about age 5, babies, toddlers, children like Sveta, longing for attention.
They would cling to our hands, begging to be shown any amount of love.
There was a playground - the one above, with swings, a slide, sandboxes, teeter totter, and merry go rounds.
Do you how many times I saw children playing there the three weeks we were there?
Unless it was another adoptive family or volunteers who had brought the children out to play.

Maybe it was just our experience but I never saw children like Sveta's friend above playing outside unless she was with one of the weekly volunteers. The day the photo above was taken she was so excited by the toys we had for Sveta. Sveta was more than willing to share her bubbles, a $1etch a sketch type toy, coloring books and cookies with her friend.

Small things, simple things that brought so much joy.

Oh, we saw children outside - every day.
But they were being pushed in large strollers or walking in circles around the orphanage.
Sometimes the nannies would stop under a tree for about 45 minutes.
The children would remain in the stroller.
Sitting, staring into space.
Staring at Eli and I with Sveta, on that big playground.
I always wondered why?
Maybe there were too many children and not enough workers.
Honestly, I don't know. I know the children are cared for and clean.
There has to be order and structure.
The empty playground was just a glimpse into the workings of an orphanage.

We watched as Sveta's face would light up over the tiniest thing - things we take for granted. Like bouncing a ball, blowing bubbles, coloring, playdough.


We watched as her face lit up one morning when a nanny tried to put a new pair of shiny red shoes on her feet because her sandals were so threadbare they were no longer keeping her foot inside. Oh how she smiled when she saw those shiny red shoes. Excitement danced in her eyes as the nanny began placing them on her foot.

They were too small.

There was nothing else for Sveta to put on.
We put the sandals back on her little feet as disappointment shadowed her face, but she never shed a tear.
Internally I promised myself Sveta would never, ever be without a beautiful pair of shoes that fit.

It would be easy to just put all this in the back of my mind, to focus on life here at home with Sveta.

But there are 115 other children, just like Sveta,  left in the baby house in Nikolaev, Ukraine.

This Christmas we want to send each one of them a wrapped gift box filled with things that will bring a smile to their faces.

In conjunction with Circle of Hope, a charity located in Huntsville, Alabama, we are working to bring Christmas to the children of baby house 19 in Nikolaev. Local orphanage volunteers will be delivering the gifts to the children for their Christmas which is January 7th.

This is an easy thing to do and we are begging asking for your help!

 Here's Different Ways You Can Help:

1.Create your own Christmas box, decorated if you wish (instructions below) We ask you keep your contents between $5 -$20.
 2.You may donate items which we will then assemble into Christmas boxes
3. Consider a small monetary donation using the chip in button located on the sidebar. All donations over $25 are tax deductible. You can also mail your donation to Circle of Hope, P.O. Box 4921, Huntsville, AL 35815. Include your name/address if you would like to use donation for tax purposes.
Monetary donations will be used to purchase toys, clothing, gift wrapping and to cover shipping costs.

3) SPREAD the WORD!! Grab the button, blog it, facebook it! The blog http://www.operationchristmasinnikolaev.blogspot/ has been created just for this project! Spread it around!

4)Follow along to watch as the children get their Christmas gifts! We are hoping to post pictures of the children receiving their gifts.

Due to shipping time, all items will need to be ready for shipping on November 7th .

 In order to meet that deadline, we need your donated gift box or items by October 30th, for packaging and shipping to Ukraine. If you are out of state or not in the Huntsville, Alabama area please ship your boxes/donated items to the following address: Huddle House 1802 Main Street East  Hartselle, AL  35640

If you are in the Huntsville, Alabama area please email me for drop off information! (click on the contact tab above)

Instructions for shoe boxes:
Decorate a women’s shoe box with the following suggested items, label “boy” or “girl” on outside of box and rubberband box closed. Please do not use a large "boot" box.
Socks – white (girls box), black (boys box)
Underwear (girls or boys or all white for either)
Children's sunglasses,  hats appropriate for warm weather or cold weather (boys or girls)
Small toys – ideas include: barbies, Lego's, puzzles, crayons, action figures, dolls with clothing, hot wheels cars
Children’s gloves
Hair bows/barrettes (girls boxes)
New clothing (inexpensive) all sizes up to age 5
*Please do not include nail polish or candy

Mostly, we ask you to pray for the children. Ask the Lord to reveal to you what it is He would like you to do to help. You may feel compelled to help an adoptive family in process or help children in another orphanage. We ask for your prayers over this Christmas project, we must raise money to cover shipping costs as well as compile 115 gift boxes.

From the words of David Platt "We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. Before you see their faces. It's easier to pretend they're not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes."

Eli and I have seen them, held them, held their hands, looked into their eyes. Seen the joy they get from the smallest things. We can't give every one of them a home, but this year we are hoping to bring them a smile, wrapped in a simple box.
"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:17-18

Friday, September 9, 2011

These Are The Children.

Our beloved Sveta Josie, home two months.

Learning english so rapidly we can hardly keep up.

Causing us to pause and enjoy things we never noticed before - the joy in saying "GOOD MORNING!" to everyone we see.
How grass feels upon our feet in the summertime.
Enjoying a meal with people you love, and who love you.
Saying "God our Father, we thank you..." with such zeal it creates laughter during the blessing.
People say she is lucky.
We disagree.
Adoption has shown our family a sliver of God's heart we never would had known, if not for Sveta.

We are the lucky ones.

Then Esau looked at the women and children and asked, "Who are these people with you?"

 "These are the children God has graciously given to me, your servant," Jacob replied.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Sweet baby face that spent too many years waiting to be kissed and loved. Tiny little fingernails she begs to "make pink, mommy"

Oh my soul, I am HUMBLED God gave her to US.

Thankful we will not miss a minute more of her life.

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life.
But those who make their journey home across time & miles,
growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them,
are carried on the wings of destiny and placed among us
by God's very own hands.
--- Kristi Larson

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tears. Joy. Heartache. So Much.

I have tried for weeks to put words into a blog post but everytime I hit a roadblock. Nothing comes. It hit me last night...I am simply mulling over all the many emotions of the last month. Trying to mold them into something I can comprehend.

My thoughts and emotions are taken back to the many months ago when we first embarked on this journey. A journey some thought we were crazy for going on. But something amazing was happening in our hearts, a stirring that began slowly and as time went on God showed us clearly He was the orchestrator. So many times I would fall on my knees in prayer filled with emotion at the unfathomable way God loves us. The enormity of Him. And why oh why did he think we were able to embark on such a journey to a child in a far away land? We weren't people who traveled 4,000 miles away and left our children home for a month, we weren't rich, we didn't have the money sitting in a bank account, we were regular, flawed people.

We didn't adopt children from Ukraine or anywhere else we thought. Not that we were against adoption, we just thought OTHER people did that. We didn't feel it was our CALLING. We had two kids and life was pretty normal. We were mostly boring and set into our routines. I volunteered at the school and we led a life group for our church. We balanced kids activities, homework, housework, laundry and remembering to buy dog food. We had never been called to go on a mission trip anywhere so we darn sure knew we weren't ever going to go to another country to adopt.

Not everyone is supposed to adopt.

But we were selfish. Focused on US. Didn't see it, realize it, or get it until God showed us. He showed us His love for children who have no home, no mommy, no daddy, nothing. Not even a single bit of clothing that belongs to them.

He showed us her.

(meeting Sveta for the first time)
A teeny tiny little girl who we didn't even know but loved her like we had known her forever.

A little girl who timidly ate our offering of fruit snacks when we first met her.

And during the month we spent with her she began to bond with us.

She still didn't understand "family" though. She had no idea her whole world was about to change.

                               That we would soon take her outside these gates. Forever.

That there was a whole world waiting to be discovered...and that playtime was more than one small area or being pushed in a stroller with 8-10 other kids for 1/2 an hour.

                                  Soon, she would leave behind friends she had always known.

We couldn't wait to start life at home with our newest little girl. Our hearts were heavy to say goodbye to so many of the children left behind. Children like Sveta's friend in the pictures.....being transferred this week out of the baby orphanage to a place much larger. So traumatic for a little person. Yes, my heart is very heavy over so much. Over the children left behind, over the mothers and fathers who gave up these children. I even grieve over the fact Sveta's birthmother will never see what a beautiful, joyful child she is.

But I see her. And I am her mommy.

I believe all of these emotions have been flooding through my veins for months and today I can't quit crying.

Last night I watched three children playing in the grass in our front yard.
Running, laughing, screaming, hugging.

And I was thankful. So overwhelmed and thankful to the Lord for each and every child he has given us.

Thankful we chose to trust Him and embark on the journey to Sveta. Thankful the heart defect Sveta was born with is completely healed...we found out last week she does NOT have tetralogy of fallot and after a normal EKG and ultrasound the cardiologist said he was amazed...according to her medical records she should have been very very sick. She was born with a hole in her heart (VSD) which she had symptoms of for years, but seemingly it is now gone.

Healed. Our God is an amazing God.

I am humbled. Overwhelmed. Filled with joy and heartache.

Sveta saying CHEESE for the camera!

Happy playing. Learning so much.

As we were driving home from the grocery store this morning I hear her little voice from the backseat...

"So much. So much."

"I. Love. You. So. Much. Mommy."

She worked so hard to put all the words together. And I almost crumbled into a puddle of tears.

                                   Every single child deserves a chance to have a mommy to love. So much.