Monday, August 25, 2008

We're Adjusting

All I can say is I am so sorry that it has taken me so long to write another post. Last week was a blur as we recovered from jet lag, helped Katie with her sleeping, got the boys off to school every day, and slept whenever we could (which is why I haven't written for so long).

Things are slowly getting into a nice routine, and we are feeling much better. Katie didn't eat much the first few days we were home, but starting last Wednesday, she's been eating much better. Some meals, I'm shocked that she can eat so much. Isn't your stomach about the size of your fist? You may remember that her sleeping was a bit off, and it got worse before it got better. Wednesday and Thursday nights were really tough with at least 30 minutes of screaming each night at bedtime with more crying and/or screaming during the night. We felt bad for the boys, but they said they never heard her (thank God for small favors). She would be this sweet little angel all day, and then the minute we would walk into her room to put on her pajamas, the screaming would start. Then Friday night, Steve got her to bed relatively calmly, and at 9:45 she started screaming, fussing, crying, etc. and writhing in the bed as though she were in pain. Nothing we said had any affect on her, and then we noticed something. Her eyes were shut the entire time. She was having night terrors! We were certain of it, and that explained so much. Because of the night terrors she was afraid to go to sleep, and that's why she would scream at bedtime; she knew what was going to happen. It reminded me of that movie, "Nightmare on Elm Street."

While it was nice knowing why she was having trouble, it didn't provide any solutions. The only solution I know for night terrors is time, and it was breaking my heart to see her so miserable. Part of me felt just horrible because she never had night terrors while we were in Russia; they didn't happen until we got to America. I wondered if we caused this. Is this change just too much for her? Alex had night terrors just 2 times - once each of his first 2 nights in America, and they weren't bad at all. Katie, though, was struggling. However, the rest of Friday night, she slept pretty well. She made a few noises during the night, and she got up once, but it was much better than the previous 2 nights. Steve was developing a nice bedtime routine with her so we have continued with that, and Saturday night and last night she went to bed calmly and stayed asleep all night. She's not at all happy about going to bed, but she's doing better.

Soooo, Katie is sleeping better, we're sleeping better, and I'm finally over the jet lag. Steve went back to work today, and the boys are in school, so Katie and I have begun running the errands and working on the To-Do list that has built up over the last 3 weeks. I was hoping to be caught up with life by the end of last week, but my new goal is in 2 weeks since we're going out of town Labor Day weekend.

As summer winds down to a close, I hope all of you had a good one. My summer was wonderful in that we have our daughter, but on the other hand, I don't feel as though I really had a summer. I'm looking forward to a delightful fall!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Home Sweet Home!

Well, we made it! It was an 11-hour flight to Atlanta, a 4-hour layover, a 2-hour flight to Kansas City, and a 9-hour time difference. When our plane landed, we had been up for 24 hours.
Katie slept 1 hour on our flight to Atlanta. She really handled the flight very well, all things considered, but after the battery died in the DVD player and Cinderella went bye-bye, she was not as amicable as before.
We tried to get her to lie down and sleep some more later in the flight, but she was so tired that she started refusing very loudly. Not wanting to be pushed out of the emergency exit by a disgruntled passenger, we relented. However, as the plane was descending and we all had our seatbelts on, she decided that she was too exhausted to sit up and started crying (very loudly) because she couldn't lay down. Therefore, Steve broke all FAA rules and held her as we touched down in Atlanta. Here is the moment that Katie became a U.S. citizen.
She perked up in Atlanta, and was enthralled with my cell phone as we passed the time. I didn't have it on at all in Moscow because it won't work there, so the first time she saw it was when I pulled it out to call our parents. We boarded our plane to KC, and Katie fell asleep before the rest of the passengers finished boarding. She slept the whole 2 1/2 hours except for a 30-minute stretch in the middle when she was very fussy trying to get comfortable again. She was plum tuckered out!
We arrived at the KC airport to find our parents just beaming away at their first sight of Katie. Katie was more than a little bit grumpy and had nothing to do with any of them. We went straight to bed as soon as we got home, and we all slept pretty well that first night. The boys were still at my parents' house, Katie was in her bed, Steve was in our bed, and I was on an air mattress on Katie's floor. She woke up at 3:30 crying, but after I calmed her down, she went back to sleep until 9:00.

Yesterday, she woke up and met the cat first. Then we went to my parents' house to get Alex (Derek had gone to school that morning.). After her nap, Derek got off the bus, and then we brought the dog home last. She has done well with each introduction, and she absolutely LOVES playing with Alex. Alex loves playing with her, too, but he won't admit it. She's still trying to figure out Derek, and Derek LOVES to hear Katie talk.

Last night, we all slept in the same places except the boys were now home, and they were in their beds. Katie woke up at 2:00, but wasn't crying. She just woke me, I sat up, and she laid down in my bed on my pillow. I simply put her back in bed, and she went back to sleep. This morning we sent both boys to school, and Katie had her pediatrician appointment. The doctor is very pleased with her development, so now we are just trying to get more medical information from Russia. We had asked for certain information, but we didn't get it (or it wasn't translated), so we're trying to fix that. She also got a stuffy nose starting Sunday night, so we suspect that she may have allergies. We're starting her on medicine, and we'll see how she responds.

Katie is really adjusting beautifully into our family, and the boys are doing a great job with her as well. The only issue right now is getting her to bed. In Moscow, she went to bed very well the first few days, and then it became increasingly more difficult. She has moved gradually from walking calmly to bed and climbing in, to sulking, to whimpering, to silent tears, to choked sobs, to crying, to screaming. Since the screaming didn't start until we got home with Alex, we think she just doesn't want to stop playing with him. We think the build up prior to that is for another reason. We have read that sometimes when children from orphanages get adopted, they are afraid to go to sleep because they are afraid that when they wake up their new mom and dad will be gone. This makes alot of sense with her because as we have spent more and more time together, her bond with us is greater, she has more invested, and she has more to lose if we are gone. Now obviously we are not going anywhere, and we are confident that she will come to realize that eventually. It will just take some time. She doesn't cry for long because she falls asleep so quickly, and we don't have the same problem if she wakes up during the night.

Alex and Katie before Alex started his first day of Kindergarten (Derek was already at school). For 2 kids with no commom genes, don't they look alot alike?

Alex, Katie, and Derek

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Our Final Post From Moscow!!

Since we first saw Katie in May and we accepted her, the orphanage has let her hair grow. I'm kind of glad they did, because it no longer has a boy look to it. However, it was also in her eyes terribly, which is why I always put it in pigtails. Last night, I couldn't wait any longer, and I went ahead and cut her bangs -- with my cross stitch scissors. Needless to say, that was probably the worst haircut that she will ever receive, but it did the job, and her hair is no longer in her eyes. Katie also likes it alot better, and this morning she wanted her hair pulled back in barrettes instead of in pigtails. It's amazing to us how different she looks with a simple hair change!

This morning we took Katie to a park that we visited earlier this week. The weather was just perfect -- cool with a slight breeze. Katie started off on the swings (her favorite), and then while walking around became very interested in some kids playing in the sandbox. She just stood there for the longest time watching them.

After they left, we went in to play, and she was so dainty using the shovels to clean off the seats.
She wasn't too sure about the seesaw at first, but then she figured out that it is fun!
The pigeons were a constant source of amusement for her, and she kept trying to catch them. After awhile, she started getting irritated with the birds for not allowing her to catch them. How dare they! :-)

This evening, we walked over to a pizzeria called Pinocchio's to eat out. We found this place when we were here with Alex, and we ate there with him on our last night in Moscow. We thought it would be appropriate to eat there again with Katie on our last night in Moscow. It was a nice walk across the bridge over the Moscow River, and the food was good, as always.
Steve thought of something earlier this week. Derek was born in Kansas, so he is a Midwestern boy through and through. Alex and Katie both became (will become) citizens as soon as the plane lands in the U.S., which for Alex was New York, and for Katie it will be Atlanta. Therefore, we have a Midwesterner, a New York Yankee, and a Southern Belle all mixed together in our family!
Steve is packing up our things as I type this, and we are excited to be coming home and seeing our boys. At 9 days, this has been our longest trip away from them yet, and we are so ready to go home and be a family.
Joe and June, thanks for the comments. I hope you had a great time watching Fiddler at Starlight with Gena and Paxton!

Friday, August 15, 2008

All Our Work is Done

Today we spent the morning relaxing around the apartment watching Katie just play and play. She is really good at playing by herself, but she also loves to play with us. She loves to draw and to take things out of bags and then put them back in. She helped me work on her stocking a little bit, too.
After lunch, Andrei picked us up at 1:00, and took us to the U.S. Embassy where we got Katie's passport complete with her visa, and all her documents - birth certificate, adoption certificate, court ruling, etc. We also got a sealed envelope with copies of all these documents that we'll have to give immigration in Atlanta when we land. The envelope HAS to stay sealed or the contents are no longer valid and we would have to return to Moscow and go through the embassy again. Needless to say, that envelope is tucked away, and will not be touched!
After the embassy, we went to the Russian Consulate to register her, and then we were home at 3:30 or so. Katie just about fell asleep in the car on the way back, so we put her down for a late nap when we got back. She was so tired that she was apparently able to sleep in any position!

After her nap, we walked around a little bit and went to the store for a few things to get us through Sunday. We came home, played in the playground outside our apartment, and ate dinner. We decided to call our parents to let them know that all went well at the embassy, and Katie talked to Nana for awhile. She was absolutely hilarious because she was just chattering on and on to Nana about who knows what (and she was very passionate about whatever it was), and yes, we took video. We also took a picture.
Poor Nana had no idea what she was saying, but she enjoyed the conversation nonetheless.

Tomorrow is a free day before we fly home on Sunday. While we are so glad to be finished with all our work, we won't really feel as though this adoption is complete until we get home. It's just not the same when you're living out of a suitcase in a country where you can't speak or read the language.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Killing Time Before We Go Home

Steve successfully got Katie's passport this morning, but Andrei has it with the other paperwork that we will file with the embassy tomorrow afternoon. While he was gone, Katie amused herself by wearing my shoes over hers around the apartment. Watching her walk in them was absolutely hilarious so we took some video of that, too!

After lunch, Katie helped me cross stitch her Christmas stocking. She did a really good job, too,
Then we had nap time. Steve gave me some rest time this morning by taking Katie with him to the grocery store, so he made up for that this afternoon.
After dinner we took the Metro to Red Square. Katie had fun running around for a little bit, and then we walked around G.U.M. (goom) and got some ice cream. It was a very muggy, humid day today, and all we brought were jeans so we were pretty hot. However, none of the Russians wear shorts either. In fact, many were even wearing long-sleeved shirts today!
On the Metro going back to the apartment. She really likes the ride!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Pictures for Yesterday's Post

Here are some pictures that I should have included with yesterday's post.

Hitching a ride with Daddy
Sitting atop a walrus with Mommy's sunglasses
Staring intently at the elephants. She was fascinated by them, and kept pulling us back when we tried to leave.
Katie's first train ride. I forgot to mention this one yesterday. She watched the train twice before she decided that she wanted to ride it. And even with that, she still asked one of the workers something, which resulted in the worker walking next to the train and holding her hand. She never acted scared, but she also never really smiled.
Walking back to our apartment from the zoo munching on a snack. It was lunchtime!
Sadly, we don't have pictures of any of her other firsts. It wasn't until the end of the day that we realized that she had had so many, so we hadn't made a point to document all of them. We often get caught up in the moment, and we forget to grab the camera. Oh well. In case you were curious, Steve and I both slept better with the switch so that may be how we keep it until we leave here.

A Day of Firsts

Today was a big day for Katie. We went to the zoo this morning, and Katie saw all sorts of animals. At first she would look at them rather skeptically, but after awhile she started running up to the fence to see what the animal was and to tell me all about it. Often there was a Russian mom nearby with her child, and Katie would take that opportunity to talk to her. She loves us to pieces, but she can't quite talk to us just yet. After her lunch and nap, Katie rode the Metro for the first time to Old Arbat street, a shopping area. She thought the trains were pretty cool, and she would laugh and giggle everytime one of them came into the station. We were a little disappointed with Arbat Street this time because there weren't any vendors out today. It was a pretty hot day today so they probably didn't want to stand in the heat. At the end of Arbat Street there is a McDonald's so we stopped there for Katie's first fast-food meal. She was so enthralled with all the people, that it took her forever to eat just 2 Chicken McNuggets! We then took the Metro to Kievskaya to buy some toilet paper and to look for some sunglasses for Katie. She was squinting something terrible all day today, and I felt so bad for her that I gave her my sunglasses to wear. I had to put the ends of the ear pieces through her pigtails to keep them on, but they seemed to help a little bit. She looked so cute with them on, too. After going through store after store, we finally found some children's sunglasses, but the cheapest ones were almost $40! I don't even spend that on mine! We found some more at a different store, and they were on sale for about $90. Needless to say, Katie will just have to do without until we get back to the States and we can go to WalMart or Target and get some for about $3. Actually, I guess I'll be the one who does without!

While we were at Kievskaya, Katie also rode her first escalator. She still doesn't quite have it mastered, but at least she's not losing her balance every time she gets on and off. Also while we were there, I put Katie in time out briefly, and a young Russian woman saw what happened and talked to Katie. I don't know what she said, but I got the feeling that she was telling Katie that she needs to obey her Mama. It was awfully sweet of that lady to take the time to talk to Katie in her own language. However, I guess it is also possible that she was telling Katie all sorts of terrible things, too. I doubt it, though.

When we got home from Kievskaya, we gave Katie her first bath with us. She wasn't bothered at all by it, and in fact seemed to enjoy it quite a bit. In fact, the whole time that Steve was washing her hair, she was flicking herself with water. It was very cute! Tonight, is another first in that Steve will be sleeping with her in the bed with me on the sofabed. I've been kicked in the head enough times that I'm choosing the sofabed with the questionable smell and the boulder-like feel. I'm not sure which is better, but I've been averaging 2-3 hours of sleep each night so hopefully this will be better. Steve hasn't been sleeping much better so it's probably a wash.

We also had Katie's first cry tonight. We're pretty sure it was just a sleepy cry. As Steve was putting her to bed, she got all teary. Shortly after, we heard her cry so I went in and talked to her (as if she could understand me) and ran my fingers through her hair. She stopped crying but never said anything so I left once she was better. Soon after, we heard her sucking on her fingers, and she was asleep about 20 minutes later.

We have some great pictures comemorating this day of firsts, but we didn't get them in the computer today so I'll send some later. Steve will go with Andrei to pick up Katie's passport tomorrow morning, and then we're planning on going to Red Square after her nap.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Another Day in Moscow

Here is Katie during her first nap with us yesterday, complete with fingers in her mouth.
Here is Katie typing her first post this morning on this blog. Didn't she do a great job?
Daddy and Katie watching Cinderella
After the doctor left this morning, Steve and Katie watched Cinderella while I was on the computer. We went to a park after that to play. This park is several blocks away on the way to the Metro station. It has a play area shaped like a pirate ship with ladders and slides, and then it has some other equipment. Katie was not at all impressed with the slides, but she would swing all day long. The swings here in Russia are different than in America. Instead of chains, there are metal pipes, and instead of flexible rubber seats, they are all made of wood. We eventually stopped swinging, though, so other kids could have a turn.
There were many statues in the park, too: elephant, tortoises, mushrooms, fish, lady, man, other various animals, etc. She didn't want to get on the big ones, but she was okay on the little ones. The temperature the last 3 days has been in the upper 70s, and Andrei was talking yesterday about how hot it is and how humid it is. Ha! He has no idea!
When we returned "home" we ate lunch, and Katie took her nap. It was a long one today - 3 hours, and Steve and I joined in on the nap about halfway through. Aren't family naps great? Then Steve left to go pick up our visa registrations and to buy a few things while Katie and I stayed at the apartment. We went outside to the little play area that's right here, and once again she paid no attention to the ladders and slides but stayed perfectly content on the swing. She has eaten much better today than yesterday and finished her dinner in a reasonable amount of time. We put her to bed and then realized that the 3 hour nap may have caused a problem. At 10:30 she was still awake, staying in bed and keeping herself amused. I think she has just now drifted off, and it's almost 11:00! We'll see how tomorrow goes.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Getting Settled and Adjusted

Andrei was supposed to pick us up yesterday at 9:00 to take us to the orphanage. We were both awake at 5:00 and up by 7:00, so we were up and ready to go before 8:00. Steve went to go exchange some money, and when he returned at 8:00, Andrei was already outside. He said he wanted to leave early to be at the orphanage by 9:00. Now, it was no big deal since we were already ready, but what would have happened if we had slept better and had just gotten up at 8:00? You know, we're trying to be laid back and flexible about everything, but it's little things like that that make me a little annoyed. Communication is a wonderful thing, but it has to be used!

Anyway, we drove to the orphanage and stopped by a grocery store on the way. Andrei went in and came out with 2 cakes and 4 packages of shortbread-like cookies. Steve and I began to wonder, "Is there going to be a party? Should we be doing something more?" As always, Andrei was silent, and we continued on to the orphanage. As it turns out, 1 cake and 2 of the cookie packages were for the director, and the other cake and the other 2 cookie packages were for the workers in her room. We had taken a little spiral notebook and the director and one of Katie's caregivers wrote her a lovely note. At least I think they're lovely; we're going to try and get Andrei to translate them for us. That way, when Katie gets older, she can have that piece of her past. As we were playing with her just outside her room (waiting for Andrei), her group left her room to go outside. Since Katie would be gone when they returned, they all said goodbye to her. The workers gave her lots of hugs and kisses, and one of the boys in her room came to her, and they embraced and shared kisses. It was too sweet!

Katie is now on my lap and says hi. Here she is. kvf ncn mm ,d ,m d d f m, m mm f mm m m f mf mfm n b mn mn mn k m m bm .

After leaving the orphanage, we went and got her picture taken for her passport. After that, we went back to the orphanage to pick up a document that they had been working on while we were gone. It was a good thing that we went back, too, because we had forgotten to get her photo album and teddy bear that we had left with her on our first trip. There were no tears when we left, but Katie seemed unsure of what was going on. In the car, she was absolutely fascinated with everything that she saw. It was awfully fun watching her experience all these new things. After leaving the orphanage again, we went to the Ministry of Education to get the letter necessary for her passport. We stayed in the car, and when Andrei returned, he said the letter would be ready at 2:00. Therefore, Andrei took us back to the apartment, where Katie and I ate lunch while Steve and Andrei filled out the embassy paperwork. Then they left to pick up the letter from the MOE, and to go apply for Katie's passport. Katie took a nap while they were gone. It took her awhile to go to sleep because she was too busy talking to me. On the one hand, it was good to see her being so vocal (I took that to mean that she's feeling more comfortable with us), but on the other hand, it was nap time not talking time. She eventually went to sleep with her head hanging off the bed so she could see me around the partition.

I was so encouraged by what I saw while she napped. Many children from orphanages will do what's called the "orphanage rock." That's where they rock themselves back and forth as a way to soothe themselves while in bed. Katie didn't do anything like that. Instead, she put her left index and middle fingers in her mouth and sucked. It was so wonderful to see her pacify herself in a typical fashion. After her nap, Steve came back from his afternoon with Andrei, and they had done everything they needed to do. We still needed to register our visas, so Steve left again to do that while Katie had a snack and watched, "The Little Mermaid."

After dinner, Steve and I were fading fast with only 3 hours of sleep the night before, so we all went to bed together at about 8:45. Katie and I were in the bed, and Steve was on the sofabed. I was so tired that I fell asleep almost instantly, but Katie kept brushing my hair back from my face and giving me kisses, which kept waking me up. She was being so sweet and loving, though, that I didn't really mind!

This morning, Andrei and the doctor came by at around 8:00 to examine her. He said that she is in perfect health, and that even though she is small, she is proportional. He suspects that her biological parents were simply small as well. He said that she must have been a favorite in the orphanage because her verbal skills are so good. We've heard from 3 different people now that she was a favorite. Most kids from orphanages have a speech delay, but she is on target. We have no idea what she is saying, but she's very passionate about some things. For instance, we have heard these phrases alot.

da coo dya Mama
da bu du mwa mo
ba te da
me ta da du ee

She smiles when we repeat them back to her, but we have no idea what she is saying. The doctor also told us that the orphanages teach the children to be very self-sufficient, and they would like for us to continue that and to not turn her into a "typical American child who won't be able to tie shoelaces until they're 25." We've tried so hard to not be offensive with anything we say, but apparently that doesn't go both ways. I was really bothered by that statement for so many reasons. I think he made that statement because her shoes today have velcro with a fake buckle on them. I think he would have preferred a real buckle that she would have to fasten, and since they didn't, he assumed that we were going to do everything for her and make everything easier than necessary for her. Talk about jumping to conclusions! Except for that one comment, though, he was extremely nice and easy to talk to.

We've been calling her IrinaKatie since we've had her in the apartment to start transitioning her to her new name, and this morning she is already responding to just Katie. She loves all her new clothes, and just turns back and forth in the mirror after getting dressed.

She is a pretty good eater, but she is so slow! She gets the job done, though. With finger foods she is faster. We already knew that she loved goldfish crackers, and we have learned also that she likes blueberry muffins and raisins, but pineapple didn't go over too well. She ate her mac and cheese and chicken noodle soup so slowly yesterday that either she's not too thrilled about the spoon, or she's not too thrilled with the food. We'll see.

Now we're done with work until Thursday. Andrei will pick up only Steve at 8:00 Thursday morning to go pick up the passport. So we have the rest of today and all day tomorrow to do what we want. We think we might go to a park today, and go to the zoo tomorrow. We'll let you know.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

We're Here!

We arrived in Moscow this morning shortly after 10:00. Our flights were uneventful except my video screen didn't work so Steve and I just traded seats periodically during the flight. After we went through passport control, customs, and got our bags, we went to find Andrei, but Sergei was there to pick us up. Since he doesn't speak any English, he called Andrei so we could talk to him, and once again we are reminded that when adopting internationally it is paramount that we be flexible! As it turns out, we were not able to get Katie today. Andrei said it's because no one is open on Sundays. However, when we were here for our second trip we were able to go to the orphanage to see Katie on Sunday. Apparently, we can visit her on Sundays, but not pick her up on Sundays. Also, Andrei mentioned several times on our last visit that when we arrived here, we would be able to get her immediately. To us, immediately would have been today. Instead, immediately is tomorrow morning. Andrei is picking us up at 9:00 in the morning, and we will go get Katie first. Then we will go to the Ministry of Education to get the letter that we need to apply for her passport. Then we'll go get her picture taken for the passport. Then we'll go apply for the passport. This will probably take all day, and so Katie will probably not get much of a nap, and she'll probably get pretty cranky and scared with that being her first day with us. However, she may surprise us. We'll let you know tomorrow.

When we got to our apartment at around noon, we were pleased. This is by far our favorite apartment we've stayed in (It's also the most expensive, but not by much). The other two provided shelter, a bed, and warmth, but they were pretty basic. This one is much more comfortable and spacious. Instead of having 3-4 tiny tiny rooms with narrow hallways, it is a studio apartment with a partition separating the bed from the living area, and the kitchen is along the opposite wall from the bed. The sofa folds out into a bed as well, so our plan is for one of us to sleep in the bed with Katie, and for the other to sleep on the sofa bed. We may change this plan once we get her, but this way we can put her to bed at a good time and we can stay up a little later without both of us trying to sleep on the sofabed. It's pretty small.

Our apartment has a little play area / park right behind it that will be perfect on nice days to let her play. We also have a supermarket right around the corner, which is very convenient. We didn't walk around much today except to get some groceries. Instead we both took pretty big naps. We may not be able to sleep much tonight, but we'll hope for the best. We also may not sleep much tonight because we are so excited to be getting her tomorrow.

The boys are at the Lake House at Table Rock Lake, so they should have a fun final week before school starts. Please pray that the remainder of our trip is safe, that Katie adjusts well to living with us, that all goes smoothly with her passport and the embassy, and that the conflict in Georgia has no affect on this process whatsoever.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

We're Counting Down

Not much has changed since our last post; we are just crossing things off our to-do list as we complete them. We're just about ready to go except for packing and a few other things. It's hard to believe that we will see Katie again on Sunday, and she will be ours forever from that day forward. I don't really feel excited yet, but I think it's because that realization hasn't sunk in yet. Saturday morning when we're sitting on the plane getting ready to take off, I know that I'll be excited because there will be nothing left for us to do except sit on a plane, in an airport, or in a car for about 21 hours and then she'll be ours. Wow!

This morning I took the boys for their well-child exams. They were both very pleased that shots would not be involved. That was the first question out of Alex's mouth when the nurse came for the vitals! Derek is in the 25th percentile in both height and weight, and Alex is in the 33rd for height and the 75th for weight. The funny part is that they both weighed exactly 51.0 pounds! So when we went to the water park this afternoon, it worked out well for them to sit on opposite sides of the innertube as we floated down the lazy river. Perfectly balanced! Considering Derek was born 3 1/2 months early, weighing a mere 1 pound and 7 ounces, and he spent 5 years on a feeding tube, I'm very pleased with his 51 pounds! Go, Derek!

On another note, when I wrote the post about Derek's T ball banquet, I left something out. There was a video montage at the end that was put to music. We didn't see Derek in any of the pictures, but that's not what caught our attention. One of the songs that was used was one that neither Steve nor I had ever heard before, and it really spoke to us so I wanted to share it with you. I don't like some of the word choices (saying that an adopted child is not "my own" -- my children are more mine than many biological families out there), and I don't think I agree with the term "hero," but the thoughts and images in this song are right on the money, and hit home so hard that Steve and I felt that this song was written for us. I hope you enjoy it.

by Isaacs

Momma combs his hair and Daddy helps him brush his teeth
Day after day for thirty years the same routine
The special needs he lives with make life seem so unfair
But he thanks God every day cause he knows Mom and Dad are there

(chorus) He's a hero and she's a hero
It doesn't matter that nobody knows their name
They keep on giving to make life worth living
Might go unnoticed but they're heroes just the same

They tried for many years to have a baby of their own
But God knew a little girl who didn't have a home
Someone else's burden was their blessing in disguise
And now she's got a Mom and Daddy there to hold her when she cries


Every single parent who must carry twice the load
And those who sacrifice to raise a child that's not their own
They dedicate their time to make a difference in someone else's life
And in my eyes


They might go unnoticed but they're heroes just the same.

This might be my new favorite song. I got choked up just reading back over these lyrics. So with that, I'll sign off, but stay tuned -- we leave for Moscow on Saturday!