Monday, February 27, 2012

What day is it?

Thank you all for the sweet congratulations! You continuously make me blush :)

And THANK YOU for understanding our need to hunker down for a while and establish attachment. It's such an important part of this process.
I remember a few days into our orphanage visits seeing the way she looked at me, thinking "She loves me! She knows I'm her mama!".  And then I saw her look at every other person who held her the same way. She's sweet as pie, but this little girl has no idea what a Mama and Daddy are. We have to teach her, to show her. In order to do that, we have start with the basics including holding her, feeding her, changing her, bathing her and minimizing confusion.

We're still baby-mooning!

I keep thinking the excitement will wear off or it will get harder at some point.
It's only been four days, but I'm still waiting....

Don't get me wrong, we are All-American sitcom over here.  Tripping over a toy while trying to make dinner and answer the phone while answering homework questions over a screaming baby. Just the way it's supposed to be!

So far, the hardest part has been adjusting to the time difference. AG and I have woken up between 3-4am every day, ready to party. The first couple of days, she mostly slept to get caught up. I didn't have that luxury of course, so I'm struggling to keep my eyes open by dinner time.

The last couple of days she's had MUCH longer periods of wakefulness and we sort of started easing our way into a schedule (maybe?).

She's eating great. She transitioned from Ukrainian formula to American Similac quite easily and hasn't had a problem with any of the bottles we're using (Still spitting up though...). She's eating mostly baby food, with a few other soft options (yogurt, applesauce, oatmeal) thrown in. She even had her first taste of ice cream last night! That's been the only thing that she didn't mind being cold (EVERYTHING else has to be warm or she is not happy!).

Update: She actually ate some bananas at room temperature this afternoon! That's a first :)

Layla is holding on tight to her "Best Big Sister Ever" title. She has to because Brynn is giving her a run for her money. Their roles have actually surprised me! When Layla is into it, she's all over Anna Gray. She coos and sings and kisses. But the rest of the time, she's doing her own thing. If AG starts crying when Layla is holding her, she'll typically offer to give her up.

Not Brynn. No matter who has her, Brynn constantly says, "Just give her to me." Screaming or not.  She wants to do everything for her! Brynn is our wild child, so I've been a little surprised by her desire to just sit and hold her. She has been so, so precious with her though.  She asked me why AG doesn't look like "us". I wasn't sure which "us" she meant, but she said none of us. A little bit like Sissy, but not. Before I could answer she said, "We are all different and God put us all together in a family! That's cool. I like that."  She also told me she wants to teach Annie to "feak Fanish like Dora" haha

We knew Cale would have the hardest time. He has a lot of anxiety about change.  But really, he's been awesome. The first full day, he barely left my side. He had a meltdown or two about being away from me (even chose to go run some :"boring" errands ALL day just to be with me). He got very upset about going to bed because he didn't want to leave me. But since then, he's been fine!  He loves to make Anna Gray laugh and he is so gentle and tender with her. He just stares at her.

They all do, really. If I'm feeding her, they all just stand around and watch. If she's playing on her mat, they all just stand around and watch. If she's getting dressed... they watch. They are in awe!

Nathan thinks she hung the moon. I mean it, he may actually believe that. He's worked all but one day since we got home and he wants to know every single thing she's doing :) I've gotten "send more pics!" every day lol. He's a GOOD daddy.

She's a perfect fit.

She just wiggled into our little family so easily. It doesn't feel overwhelming or any more busy. She's just here. Finally. Maybe God is giving us a little break after everything we just went thru!

I get a lot of messages about what we're doing/did.  I guess from the outside it looks like this huge thing, but for us it's very simple: God showed us our daughter and told us to go get her. That's it. She happened to be on the other side of the world and happened to have DS. It happened to take a lot of work and money to get there. But really... all WE did was bring our daughter home :) 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Homecoming pics!

My friend, Jordan, surprised me by asking her friend, Brittany, to photograph our homecoming :)
It was SO thoughtful of Jordan to do that for us and Brittany is insanely talented. 

The pictures are absolutely beautiful.
I love every detail.

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to B.Burkey Photography!
I showed the kids and thought they would all like the pictures of themselves... nope, their favorite is the one of Annie smiling :)  Such sweet babies.

One of my best friends (also an incredible talent)  also took pictures for us at the airport, so hopefully I will have more to share soon  :)

Friday, February 24, 2012

All's well that ends well!

"You're my baby sister! Yes, you are!"

Yesterday got off to a rough start and never got much better... until the end.

I can't remember the last time I didn't partake in Lent. Those 40 days are usually tough, but effective for my spiritual growth. I couldn't really get my head around it this year and was going to write it off. This morning I realized that my time IN country, not counting travel days, was exactly 40 days. Consider me tested. And grown.

I didn't sleep at all the night before. Niko was supposed to come at 2:45am. At 3:30am, I still hadn't heard from him.
Finally, my friend Kate called to say they would be there in 10 minutes. She had called and woken him up. We made it to the airport just an hour before our flight. He helped us getting our boarding passes and bags checked, put us on an elevator and wished us luck. We had no idea where to go. Figured it out, but I'm so glad we were together!
Security was fine. The lady at passport control tried to make things harder than they had to be, but we got through.
We had a 2 1/2 (?) hour flight to Frankfurt. I cried the entire time.

We were in Frankfurt for a couple of hours, giving the kids (and moms) some time to stretch out and burn some energy before the long flight ahead.
When we got on the plane, we were all separated (Kate had a friend there to help). Kind of by chance, they ended up moving the friend and Kate and her kids, and we all ended up together in one row with bulkhead seating (the greatest thing ever). Annie spent most of the flight in her bunk. I really wanted to get her out and hold her a few times, but she was happy so I left her.

When we started to take off and the screen showed the map of the plane and the little red dots leading to the U.S., I started sobbing. The flight attendant (who was AMAZING for us) looked at me so pitifully. I mouthed to her that I was excited!
Again, SO SO glad Kate and I were together.
The flight itself wasn't that bad. It's just that we had three kids who were exhausted and confused. They didn't know where they were, where they were going, or when it would be over. It was hard on us, of course it was hard on them.
We both cried off and on the whole flight. Or rather, I should say we ALL cried off and on the whole flight.

Not as much as we did when we landed in Chicago though!!  By the end of this flight, I was covered in tears. And formula, orange juice, water, snot, spit up, and some Indian food from an aluminum tray.
I held my breath thru customs and immigration (while carrying the extraordinary packet that made EVERYTHING official). It was a breeze and suddenly, I was holding the cutest little American citizen!!
 Chicago got a little complicated after that. Kate and I had to split ways quickly when she nearly missed her flight. I was still arguing with two different airlines over where my bags were being sent. I cried (again), just asked that they eventually send them to Nashville, gave up and headed to my gate. We waited two hours before finding out our flight was delayed and possibly cancelled. Guess what I did?

Initially, all the people standing around me thought I was nuts. Then they realized I was desperate and were trying to help in any way they could. At this point, we had been traveling for 24 hours. I hadn't slept in more than two days. Anna Gray was screaming. I was out of formula.  
I just wanted to go home.

There were four flights and enough people to fill four flights standing around the gate. When they *finally* said they were boarding for Nashville, the crowd parted like the red sea to get me on that plane. Not exaggerating even a little bit.
Once on the plane, they moved me three times for various reasons. Annie and I were both in tears. DONE. Absolutely done.
Once we took off, AG passed out. Hard. It was 2am in Ukraine. Her eye looked TERRIBLE and was clearly bothering her. She was sleepy, hungry, probably sore. Poor baby :(
I was an absolute zombie. I didn't move. I didn't speak. I didn't cry. I just stared.

The flight attendant put a bottle of wine in my backpack.

I thought I would sob when we started our descent. I didn't. I was numb.
But when that plane hit the ground "I did it! We did it!!" just sort of erupted out of me.

Again, the other passengers got me off the plane and brought my bags to me. I loaded up... baby on the front. Backpack on the back. Carry-on rolling behind. Blanket dripping off the side. I couldn't even see where I was going.

Next thing I know, there's a beautiful brown blur coming at me screaming "Annie! Annie!".
I think I collapsed.
I thought I was all dried up by now, but I cried. HARD.

I really don't remember much after that.

Thankfully, there were cameras everywhere to catch it so I can see it later. We were surrounded by family and friends, all of whom felt every emotion we did throughout the entire process. I touched all of them, I think. I even hugged a stranger.

My father in law tracked down my suitcase, which made it to Nashville afterall. We eventually trickled out of the airport covered in flowers and gifts and happy tears.
I know it sounds dramatic, but I could barely get myself out of the car when we got home. I hadn't slept in 2 1/2 days and every bit of me ached. It really felt like I had just run a marathon.

We got in bed around 11pm. We crashed. All SIX of us.
I was in the shower by 4am for no particular reason. Anna Gray got up around 5:30. Her eye looks much better this morning after some rest and a warm washcloth. God bless my sweet husband who drove to Starbucks to get me a coffee and a breakfast sandwich. Not long after he left for work, my big kids starting making their way out. I'd love it if he hadn't had to work today, but I'm really glad to get some alone time with them :)

They were so excited.  Everything was so chaotic when we arrived last night, they hadn't really gotten a chance to just sit and take her in (or her, them).  

Layla held her for a long time. She told me she would like to read the Bible to Anna Gray every night, starting with Genesis. "I want her to know where she really came from."
She can't wait to get to Luke, because it's her favorite.
When did my first baby get so big?!!?

Brynn was up next. As expected, she had AG (and me) laughing in no time! She is just "so way way way happy" to have her sister here. She thinks she's perfect and wants to teach her "everything I know... which is everything."

Cale got up and went strait to her. He rubbed her back and kissed her hand. I asked what he thought about having a baby here and he said, "It's kind of weird and kind of great." Not long after, it was "This is a rotten baby, put her in the bath!"  So we did! A 5 minute bath took 20 minutes with all the extra hands. Everyone wanted a turn brushing her hair and they all worked together to decide what comfy outfit she would like to wear.

She's asleep now. Cale has checked on her four times so far. He just touches her gently and comes back out.

Anna Gray seems to be adjusting well in these first hours. Eating, sleeping, playing, smiling.
My big kids have so much to tell me and I am soaking up every bit of it! I can't believe they changed so much in (the) six (longest) weeks (ever).

My heart is so full.

Four amazing children. The husband God made for me. Family and friends I couldn't live without.
Nothing else really matters.

**Separate post coming with homecoming pics!**

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Day 41


Done with the paperwork. Done with the medical exam. Done with visa and passport. Done wearing three layers of clothes. Done with carbonated water. Done boiling water everytime I need to make a bottle. Done converting money and weight and distance. Done guessing what I'm eating. Done slipping on ice and dodging falling icicles. Done washing every dish by hand. Done hanging my clothes to dry. Done sitting in the shower bathing with one hand. Done with FB/blog being my only form of communication. Done squishing my baby into her snowsuit. Done wearing the same clothes over and over and over and over. Done watching Russian television. Done with converters. Done with no seatbelt. Done with a ton of stairs. Done entering a code to get into my courtyard, a security key to get in my building, and another key to unlock both of my doors. Done with wet boots. Done with hard mattresses. Done waiting.


It's DONE! We are free to leave the country :)

Obviously, it's been hard. SO hard. But I am going to miss it.
I'm going to miss these amazing buildings. I'm going to miss walking. I'm going to miss the underground. I'm going to miss the chocolate and the promodoro pizza. I'm going to miss the simplicity. I'm going to miss learning a new language. I'm going to miss my new friends.

I NEED to leave... so that I can miss it later.

I kind of can't believe it. I don't think I will until I am in the States (and thru customs/immigration... do NOT let anyone open the packet, do NOT let anyone open the packet).  I want to be home more than anything, but it's almost like I don't know how to not be here. I don't feel like a mom of four. I feel like a mom of three AND a mom of one. I do think it will be an easy transition, but I can't picture it at this point. It feels like a dream.

I think we are pretty well prepared for the trip home. I don't think it will be much different than the six hour train ride (except not miserably hot) or the eight hour day we had today and AG did great on both. I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to feed her, since hauling around loads of baby food just isn't practical for us like this. She did try several new foods today (yogurt, cabbage rolls, olives, tomatoes) and did great with them so I think we'll be okay.  I'm very excited that three families will be on the first flight together and even more excited that two of us will be on the second/long flight together!

We had one last celebratory dinner tonight.
Our last night.

Betrothed: Anna Gray and Cooper

Right now, I am purging our suitcases (they weren't kidding when they said you won't want to bring a lot of it back- coats, clothes, toiletries...trash! So not worth lugging around the world). Anna Gray is rolling around on the bed, stretching her legs and telling me stories of her grand adventures. She's pretty pumped for tomorrow. It's 9:30pm now and our ride to the airport is coming at 2:45am. We will arrive home 24 hours later. If you are coming to the airport to see us arrive, know in advance that we will not be fresh :)

We will not be fresh but we will be HOME!!

I am bringing home gray hair I didn't have when we started, some pretty substantial bags under my eyes, eyebrows that could pass for bangs and MY DAUGHTER.

We are praying for safe travel, smooth flights, and "no adventures", as the orphanage doctor wished us. We are also praying the pediatrician comes thru on eyes drops for little missy's eye infections sooner rather than later.

I want to say again...
Thank you. Each and every one of you. You have given your time, your talents, your prayers, your cares, your worries, your love, your money.... you are bringing us home. You are bringing HER home.

I'm going to steal something another RR friend wrote because she said it better than I could:

God is awesome. I love his people and what we look like when we follow him. Friends, this God-thing we are doing, well, it's not just for crazy people, or really nice people, or gifted people. We are none of those things. Not even crazy, though people do tell me that all the time. It's for GOD'S people. We are all called to follow him. That means he will totally change you, your plans, your family, your comfort, your wallet, your everything. And it's good. It's worth it- the only thing actually worth doing.
Don't waste your lives. Spend them totally and completely and you will not be sorry.

I have no illusions that the next time in our lives will be easy. We left easy when we said "I do". But, God will be there. Suffering is not to be feared, and is the place to find the purest joy. Because He is there.

I can't wait. I can't wait to see my kids. I'm CRAVING them. I need to feel them in my arms, I need to see their faces and hear their voices. I can't wait to see Anna Gray and her Daddy together again. I can't wait for her to learn her name. I can't wait to see new siblings bond. I can't wait to show her the world that she gets to be a part of now. I can't wait to see her live a LIFE. An unrestricted, promising, hopeful, celebrated LIFE.

Your mommy and your sister are coming!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Day 40 on Day 40.

Sorry the last post was a little grim, but that's where I was when I wrote it last night!

Today was better. A little hurried this a.m. with a few gaps in communication, but our embassy appointment was a breeze.  Their staff was so helpful and kind. We go back in the morning for her medical exam and then our visa appointment in the afternoon.

I almost cried when Tatiana handed me her passport yesterday. Her passport. To go home.

I almost cried again when she told me she had been baptized in the orthodox church and gave me her baptism certificate with a small silver crucifix. This is the ONE thing that belonged to her that she is bringing home from Ukraine.

We had a nice day after the embassy this morning. We rode back to our apartment with another RR family. I fed AG and put her down for an overdue nap before we headed back out.

Just incase I can't remember who this slice of perfection is laying next to me:

I was watching a movie to pass the time and kept hearing banging outside on our porch. I went out and what seemed like BUCKETS of water was rolling off the roof from the melting snow and ice. I don't know why, but it made me smile.

View from the 8th floor (at least I'll be coming home with trim thighs) :

I'm done cooking in Ukraine and really didn't want to buy any food since we are leaving, which means....

She had her own order of fries. I hadn't eaten in 27 hours and had no desire to share mine. I just broke off little pieces and she did fine! She probably only ate the equivalent of two fries while waiting for her bottle to cool.

Three trips out today and I never did find diapers. I have ONE left. Anna Gray is going to bed now wearing tights and a dish towel so I can save the one for tomorrow. I can't believe tomorrow is our LAST DAY IN UKRAINE!!

Day 39... on Day 40

{As you might have guessed, we didn't have internet when we arrived late last night and had to wait until today to get it fixed. Today meant 6:30 tonight, unfortunately. Sorry for the worry!

This is the blog I typed last night that I couldn't post. I will do today's next.}

We are in my fifth and final apartment. {God willing.}

The train sucked.

Sorry, but it did.

We were next to the heater. And by ‘next to’, I mean it burned my leg through my jeans.

My chapstick melted, my chocolate melted, my baby melted.

Anna Gray was AMAZING, especially considering the circumstances. She slept almost the entire six hours.  I don’t know how though. She was so hot. I did everything I could to cool her off. I stripped her down to just a onesie, I blew on her, I wiped cold condensation of the window on her neck. She was soaked in sweat.

She slept on me. I was wearing fleece, with my coat around my back, her snowsuit on my legs, her clothes in my lap, her blanket on my chest, and the backpack between my legs. I was dripping sweat onto her.

That last hour… that last 15 minutes… Oh my.  We were entering “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy” territory.

But it’s over. We’re here. And we are one step closer to being done. Woot.

It’s midnight and our first embassy appointment is at 9:30am.

T minus 74 hours until HOME.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Day 38

I told you the sea fish would work ;)

It was really sweet, actually (hang on, I'm going somewhere with this...). She slept from 9p-1a when I started hearing the raspberries and then realized she needed to be changed (yay!). So I changed her, gave her a bottle, and we laid back down. She was on her stomach on her side of the bed just looking at me. Next thing I know, she flips to her back then flips again to her stomach and she's right beside me! She laid her little face next to mine and put her arm on my arm and went back to sleep :) PRECIOUS.

I love her so much. So stinking much.

If only she were a little more expressive...

How cute is she in her "girl pirate" pjs her big brother picked for her?

I had been reminded that she won't be used to being held all the time so she could tire of it really quickly... she doesn't get tired of it. In fact, at this point, she doesn't really want me to put her down much at all. Which is good for now, since she's about to spend HOURS at a time in my arms for travel.

If it looks like I'm still wearing yesterday's clothes, it's because I am. If it looks like there's oatmeal with pears on my shirt, it's because there is.

I'm so proud of her. When we first started visiting her, she was not even close to sitting up yet. She has gotten much stronger and now sits pretty well! Still a little unbalanced and can't quite get there on her own, but MUCH better.

She can also pick things up and put them down on purpose now :)

Five weeks is a long time in infant years, but she's even made some huge strides just in the last three days. I can't WAIT to see what this little girl decides she's going to do next!

I made a version of fried rice today. It was actually pretty good, I just made a little too much. Ha!

Anna Gray even had a little bit. She loved the veggies I smashed up and even had a few bites of egg. She wasn't crazy about the texture of the rice.

She had her first visitors tonight :)

Diana, Nate, and Max came by to meet her/tell us goodbye. They also brought yummy treats!

 I was going to give her a little taste, but she fell asleep. You snooze, you lose!

Kiev tomorrow!!!!!  Annie's first train ride :) Pray for smooth travel!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Day 37

Anna Gray was so well-rested yesterday that she didn't even need to sleep last night ;)

It's pretty common for children who come from orphanages to be experts in self-soothing and self-stimulation. When she's tired, she shakes her head back and forth while she sucks her tongue. She did that from 1-2am. When she wakes up, she doesn't cry. She blows raspberries. Raspberries were coming like rapid fire from 2-2:30am. I finally decided to just get her up and play until she exhausted herself. After several rounds of Pat-a-cake, the macarena, and Baby Beluga (please tell me I'm not the only one who remembers that episode of Full House?)- she passed back out around 4:30. For a little while.

She's been tired and grumpy all day today, but only took one good nap. She's fought it so hard.

Poor baby. Her whole world just turned upside down. She doesn't know where she is or who I am, her food is different, her bed is different... I was would be grumpy too. We're working through it. All you need is love :)

We tried out the Baby K'tan today that my friend, Rachel, let us borrow. We were just taking the garbage out, but it was good practice. She seemed indifferent. It's a little snug, but not uncomfortable.

We watched some of the top 20 Whitney videos on MTV Europe and she danced herself to sleep in my lap :)

Our first embassy appointment is Tuesday morning, so we will take the train back to Kiev Monday night. I started on my paperwork today, blech. I am thrilled to be at this point of the process, but it stresses me out.  It's okay because the countdown is ON! I am starting to actually dream about everything I want to eat and drink when I get home. I can't wait for good coffee and I want a Dr.Pepper with cherry from Sonic! I want to eat at every resturant there is. It's going to be a LONG time before I eat pasta, rice, eggs, or porkchops again!  Not counting tonight.  Anna Gray, however, enjoyed her "Noodles with creamed sea fish and broccoli sauce". Ew. If that doesn't make her poop, I don't know what will!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Day 36

Weellll.... I have a baby!
Of course, I've had three other babies before and she's already one year old... so how come I feel like a new mom?!

For five weeks I have had everything in it's place. This is where my clothes go, this is where her clothes go, the groceries, the dishes, the electronics... that lasted for about 30 minutes after she got here. Suddenly, there are blankets and toys and diapers and bottles and pacis and bibs EVERYWHERE. Ha! Just drop and go, I'll get to it later! When I ate, I ate like I was about to lose a race and I didn't get a shower until 5pm. Yep... NEW MOM.

She slept for 12 hours last night! She woke up once around 5am and I was fully prepared to get up and feed her after a few minutes of cuddling... nope, back to sleep. Until 10am!

The rest of our day went like this:
Eat for 20 minutes. Play for 20 minutes. Scream for 20 minutes. Sleep two hours.
Repeat X4

She had a bath :)
She didn't love it, didn't hate it. I fully expected her to yell at me so that's good.

Of course, that came about 10 minutes later.

Poor cold naked baby!

That's better. Sweet girl.
And 10 minutes after that:

Happy again!

This is my other creative/UA parenting invention:
A suitcase bassinet.

There are times when she wants to be upright, but not held. Plus, when I do shower or need to leave the room or whatever, this is the only way I can safely keep her in one place :)

We had better success with the other bottle today. The first one just chokes her :/ They look the same, but for some reason she can only use the pink one. Other than that, she's eating baby cereal, with some fruits and veggies mixed in. They told me she eats soups, eggs, yogurt... but I'm sticking with the safe stuff to avoid any tummy troubles or potential allergies until we get home, just incase.

One minor concern is her diapers. She has barely been wet and hasn't been dirty yet. I expect it's a combination of the change in her routine plus the bottle issue. I kept clean water in her bottle today and offered it regularly, just incase she's a little dehydrated. Hopefully, I'll see a change soon.

It was kind of a wild day, but I'm loving it. I'm SO glad I went ahead and took her out so we can work all this stuff out now instead of on a 6-hour train ride.

I'm looking forward to getting even more acquainted tomorrow :)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Day 35


She does not love snowsuits.

It's my baby girl's very first birthday and today she left the orphanage for the very last time!!

From the orphanage doctor:
 "I can't believe it, but she kisses you! You love each other very much." (translated).
I'm sure you understand just how grateful we are that this is the orphanage she has called home for the last year.  They've been wonderful and clearly adore her.

A few quick errands and we were home in no time!

Beautiful birthday girl!!

This baby is kind of internet sensation today! Whoa! Mad birthday wishes, little girl!
I wish I could print off all 400 (and counting...), but we'll just hope Facebook is still around when you learn to read and utilize that handy new timeline feature.

We got in a few Skype calls- including her brother and sisters!!
I think things just got real for the big kids. Ha. They yelled out sang Happy Birthday to their baby sister. They're so sweet!

She had a nice nap in the middle of the floor (on a palet).  Eat, sleep, or play...her only options are the floor or my arms, this could get interesting!  I did figure out rather quickly that she can, in fact, roll from back to front :)

I was quickly ushered back into the world of babyhood.
Feeding her the first time... ehhh... didn't go so great. I had no idea when she had eaten last or what time she normally eats, so I just waited until she starting fussing. I fixed her a bottle, which she attacked- but she was having a really hard time actually swallowing any of it. Maybe it was coming out too fast for her? The spoon was a different story...

Like a CHAMP.

How do you like my makeshift highchair? Just call me Mama McGyver.

A full belly and a dry diaper, this kid is HAPPY.
She loves the kissing bunnies Tatiana and Valentine got her for her birthday! (How sweet is that?!)

When she was done, she was DONE. I think I walked more in this apartment tonight that I have any other day, ha. I not-so-secretly missed this.  I had to walk and bounce and sing and soothe until she quit crying and I loved every second of it.  Once I put her down, she was OUT in about 90 seconds. Again, no idea of when she typically sleeps so I'm not sure if she is down for the night or not. I may be joining her soon just incase.

Things I learned from day one:
I did NOT bring enough bibs and burpcloths. I will be doing laundry every day. I should have bought more cookies.

You'll be glad to hear... our flights home are BOOKED! It is the absolute best case scenario, I couldn't be any happier about the flight plan. Thank you to my dear sweet husband who worked his tail off to fix it after my meltdown yesterday!!  And obviously, it would NOT be possible if it weren't for you and your support- prayerful, financial, or otherwise. THANK YOU.

LAYLA, BRYNN, AND CALE (and Nathan):
Anna Gray loved seeing you today! I can't wait until we get home and she sees that you are real! ha! Your great big smiles warmed my heart! Almost home guys! I love you and cannot wait to see the real you too!

Sweet girl... I don't even know how to tell you how much I love you. And now I'm crying just trying! You make the world a better place. You are sunshine at it's brightest. I don't know why God chose me to be your mommy, but I feel like the luckiest gal in the world. For the next few days, it's just me and you kid. We won't ever get this time back. I can't wait to see what you have to teach me. I apologize in advance if your cheeks get chapped from all the kissing. I can't help myself. Happy birthday, Annie.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


It would just be impossible to go to bed tonight without a second post.

"Ask and ye shall receive"...

I feel like my heart is literally going to pound itself out of my chest with gratitude. I'm serious.

I wish I was smart enough or graceful enough or poetic enough to write an appropriate 'Thank you'.  I will bake cupcakes every day for the rest of my life if I can do it from HOME! I'm so overwhelmed right now, I... I have no words.

I am so unworthy of everything God has blessed me with. You all write the most amazing, uplifting, encouraging things to me and I think... "Who is this person they are talking about?! She sounds kinda neat!" :)  I'm really just a plain ole' sheep in His herd.

This morning I was crying for all the wrong reasons. I feel like I've held it together pretty darn well, but I just hit a wall.  Then God said... Oh, that wall? That little thing? That's what you need me to get out of your way?!.... Done. Now I'm crying all over again because... well, you heard it too.

You have lovingly given us more than enough to get home. And I'm not just talking money here.

If I could, I would gather up all the thank yous in the world and shout them out right here!

We still owe about $10,000 in adoption fees, so IF it's okay with you, we will take whatever is leftover (after purchasing the plane tickets) and apply it to that. If anyone who gave isn't comfortable with that, please let me know.

Again- I am more grateful than you could ever imagine! I'm seriously in love with you. All of you.

Day 34

Tough day.

Long, long tough day.

In all honesty, I don't think I can re-live it on this keyboard right now. And as Eugene would say, "At the end of the day..."
We have her birth certificate and adoption decree, we have applied for her ID number and passport, and have everything notarized.

There are just a few more things to do in the morning and then the greatest thing that could possibly happen... I'm bustin' little girl out.

TOMORROW is Gotcha Day!!


Friends, this is the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I'm about to tuck my tail between my legs and possibly throw up, but I don't have a choice...
If you've been reading for a while, you know that "Mr.Generous" donated his frequent flyer miles to cover our trip. It was more than enough to get us here and back and we just cannot say 'thank you' enough.

Unfortunately, the first Delta flight outta here (after our embassy appt) is not until Saturday the 25th. I cannot stay that long. I just can't. It might not seem like a few days makes that much difference... it does. I know by putting this out there, I have to brace myself for more of the "you signed up for this" comments, but unless you've been here and done this on your own, you just won't get it. I have tried very hard to stay positive and be strong, but I need to come home. As soon as possible.

In order to do that, we are going to have to book a flight on another airline. And we need your help.

The day we met Annie and the day we passed court, making her our's, we had well OVER 200 people indicate that they were celebrating with us. If only 60 of you gave $10 each, we could pay for a ticket home.

You KNOW I wouldn't ask if I didn't have to.
I'm sick over it.


Please, if you feel led to respond, please use the chip-in on the top right of the blog.
I promise I will make you the best cupcakes you've ever had when I get back. I am not even kidding.