Friday, January 30, 2009

Everyday Antics of a Boy

Yesterday morning as I was getting the kids in the car, Mason felt sure that he needed to chip the ice off of the car before we could go anywhere. I reasoned with him that he could do that as soon as we got home, as we had to get Chicky to school.

"Okay mom."

After dropping Chicky off at school, I wanted to run by the Social Security office to submit Nika's application for a number.

Ha ha ha ha ... apparently you don't just run by the Social Security office. After sitting there for one hour and forty minutes waiting for A98 to be called, we had to leave to get Chicky from school. {It was a short school day due to a two-hour delay.}

During our time sitting in the Social Security office, I casually mentioned to Mason that I wanted to wash our coats when we got home. My white coat shows every teeny tiny bit of dirt and I was pretty sure the kids' coats could use to be washed too.

Are you wondering why you should care that we needed to wash our coats? Well keep reading ... geesh!

After we had picked up Chicky and gotten home, Mason told me he needed to wash the car. The ice had melted, but the car was dirty. Mind you it was still only 30-some degrees outside.

"Mom, can you open the garage door? I need to get the water."

So I opened the garage door for him, thinking surely my husband had shut the water off for the winter.

Uhh ... I guess not.

I went out to check on Mason and found this ...

"Mom, doesn't your car look nice?"

"And I washed my coat for you too."
Sigh. I guess we have never introduced him to the washing machine? Seriously.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Payton Says "Mama" and "Da-yee"

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that Payton is now saying "Mama" and "Da-yee" on a consistent basis ... it is music to our ears!

I tried to get her on video ... err maybe I should say audio ... and was successful ... sort of. LOL. In the beginning, you will hear what we hear from her pretty much all day ... "Do do da da I blah blah blah". LOL. She cracks me up.

Toward the end of the video, you will hear her say "Mama" and "Da-yee". She doesn't say it as clear here as she usually does, but you get the picture. ;)

Presenting ... Barbie!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Q & A

Is it possible that Addison looks about a YEAR older than when you first met her???? She looks like such a baby back then and is already looking grown up!
Yes, I know! Isn't it crazy? Kyle and I were just talking about how she doesn't even seem like the same kid!

Okay so I have to know- what kind of camera do you have??? Is it a digital SLR? You take the best pics!
I have a Canon Rebel xTi. Yeah, it is pretty awesome, but I'm pretty sure that the deeper I get into photography, the more I'm going to want to upgrade. I do love it though. Being able to snap, snap, snap without the delay and have it be digital is so nice! By the way, in case you haven't noticed the word "Photography" up in the nav bar, click there to join me in my photography obsession slash learning experience.

I've been thinking about a blog facelift. Wish the cutest site was working, but it keeps shutting me out. Any suggestions? I always love how yours looks. I know once I get the hang of it I could probably handle changes. is back up and running. I think they were changing their server or something and their site was down for a few days. Anyway, they have really cute backgrounds there. Let me know if you need help and of course, if you need a nifty little header like these that I made.

POST SOME VIDEO! I loved the videos from Russia of about some at home with Payton ones?
I know, I know ... I'm sorry woman! I think this is the only video I have up so far of the girls. More to come ... I promise!

Eww no not good. That makes me uncomfortable ;( I clicked on your stat counter, it’s the same as mine. Where do I find that information on the site? I had a look around and can't find anything.
When I log in to my statcounter, there is a link for Recent Keyword Activity and that is where you find the information. For example, right now there are hits on my blog from "lettuce nika", "ode to my grandfather", "mt. jewett swedish queen", among many others. I've hyper linked them to the post on my blog that it brings them to. Crazy stuff, I tell ya. I wonder who searched for Mt. Jewett Swedish Queen? My grandmother will be happy to hear that. LOL.

Oh no!!!! time I do nails, (I do them about once a week, just depends) I'll have Dean video record it, ok? Then I can show you exactly where the quick is. Once you know what you're looking for, you won't hit the quick anymore. I PROMISE!!!
Right, but how can you see it when the nail is black?! Ahh!

Sign language helps ALL children (DS,deaf, hearing-impaired, autistic, typical, etc.). It gives children a multi-sensory approach to learning language. Many families that I work with are afraid that signing will take the place of talking. Not true. Signing gives a child a manual option until they are ready to say the word! Then they usually drop that sign!
Oh, I definitely believe that signing does not take the place of speech. I know that is a common misconception, but I've moved past that. Even if I did believe it, I don't think I have much of a choice here because my three year old needs to communicate and clearly speech isn't the primary form for her. Sigh. One day, right? :)

Ok, I read all my mail in the preview pane. (I rarely actually open an email.) In that preview pane it shows two buttons "save attachment" and "quick look". Quick look will open the attachment in a separate window, but doesn't save it.
I don't have this problem in my MAC mail, it is when I view stuff in yahoo or gmail. Grr.

Mine does not do that when I open something in gmail. If it does download something, it goes to Downloads. You can change that preference in Safari, by clicking on Safari on the menu bar and then preference. There is an option called Save downloaded files to: and you can change this to whatever location you want. I don't know why it automatically downloads though, sorry, mine doesn't seem to do that unless I choose Download.
Okay, I'm so confused because I do have a downloads folder and it still goes to my desktop! I guess I'll have to take it in to the MAC store and see if they can figure it out for me because it drives me insane!

Is Nika fitting into any of Payton’s clothes?
Ohh yes, definitely. In fact, pretty much everything she wears is Payton's old stuff, thus making her a Payton clone. ;)

Next time require they bring in a pediatric specialist, or the manager of the lab. That's ridiculous. Poor little ones. Especially Payton.
That is the problem with our insurance. They only allow us to do blood draws at LabCorp. I wish we could do it at the hospital, because believe me ... I'd be there in a heartbeat!

Ask your doctor for something called Emla cream.
I have heard of this before, but it isn't so much the needle that is the problem, it is her working herself up prior to them even sticking her. I might ask for some of this though to see if it helps her calm down post stick.

One thought that I've heard from others, and have had done in the past is to have them place a little heat pack on her arm. Supposedly it brings the veins out? Or something to that effect. It worked for us the time they did it.
Yes, I've heard of this too. Actually, I have some of those hand warmer packs in my car so maybe I'll use one on her arm next time we go. LOL. They might look at me funny, but whatever ... I don't care.

Every now and again it just hits me how truly blessed your family is and especially how lucky Nika is. Most days it seems as if she's always been there. How different and wonderful her life is now because you believed in her. You have a beautiful family. Thanks for sharing with us.
Aww, thank you so much! Sometimes I have to smack myself in the forehead too, because I often forget this is all very new to her. She really has adjusted so well, that I often forget that a little over two months ago, she was sitting half way around the world with no mommy, no daddy and no family to love her. :(

Mountain Dew didn't have the success to be sold in Mexico, after a few months it was removed from stores... sorry, I don't like it either, my vice is Coca-Cola, the Mexican Coke, have you tasted it? Our American friends says it's much better than the American Coke.
No, I haven't tasted it. Actually, I may have when I studied there in college, but I don't remember. I do remember, however, that you guys have way better Doritos than we did here at the time! There were like spicy nacho ... man they were good! LOL. Mt. Dew was few and far between in Russia too. I think we found like one place that sold it.

I had the same addiction to Mt. Dew up until a few years ago. However, your post now has me craving one. You can't do that to a pregnant lady!!!!
LOL! I actually used to drive FAR to get the caffeine free version when I was pregnant. They don't sell it anywhere! It is such crap! See, I told you it was just the taste that I had to have. I could care less about the caffeine. Although, I didn't have any yesterday because I was out and man did I have a headache by dinner. If they would just sell the caffeine free kind here, then I wouldn't have this problem!

Doesn't Mountain Dew lower sperm count?
I don't know, does it? Should I be worried about my sperm? LOL! Maybe that is why I can't get pregnant without fertility treatments. Oh wait, I have eggs, not sperm! Haha ... love ya, McK!

I love Americans for having ideas like Dinner Done. And what was your food selection? Is it for your husband and you? Or also the kids?
Why thanks Ali, I think we are pretty dang smart too! LOL. But you have the best beaches, so we are even. Pretty much every meal I selected was chicken, my favorite one being the one with bacon and cheese on top of the chicken ... OMG it is SO good! And yeah, Mason and Nika will eat the meals, but pretty much my husband and I have hogged them. LOL.

BTW, is that your house or a physio centre? Great stuff there!
The first video was taken in Russia at and around the baby home. I am assuming that is what you are talking about. But yes, they had great tools to work with the kids. :) The second video was taken at my house.

Are they all feeling better?
Yes, the kids are all feeling better ... thank the Lord!

Hey Bethany....I think you are missing a kid! LOL.
Yeah, yeah ... I figured you guys would say that. Nika was throwing up yesterday, so I didn't want to bring her outside. Plus she doesn't have snow pants to wear ( and I'm pretty sure she can't walk in snow quite yet. Poor girl. :(

Beautiful pics! How do you get those colors? Do you have a fancy camera or do you Photoshop it?
I do have a nice camera, but the camera is not what produces those colors. I edited the photos in Lightroom (photo software) and I have an obsession with messing with all the fun finishes. To read more about my photography learning experience, check out my photography blog.

I still am so curious about your boutique - how do you do it?
As in ... how do I have time? Or as in ... how did I get started and have it come to be? I'll just answer both questions, ok?

How do I have time? It is called after the kids go to bed .... work work work. Or it is called, "Hey hubs ... can you take the kids for a few hours while I get some work done?"

How did I get started? Umm ... I have a teeny tiny obsession with baby stuff ... clothes, shoes, toys, whatever. I started googling around and seeing all this fun, unique stuff that you don't see at Target or Babiesrus. So I contacted a web designer ... who is fabulous BTW ... and she helped me along. She actually ran a similar boutique before her web designer business took off, so I was able to use her for questions. I contacted numerous manufacturers about the possibility of becoming a retailer and here I am. Fun stuff, huh?

Suprised about what you did for a career? Yes.
LOL. A lot of people are. But hey, I can get down and dirty if I need to. :)

Good luck with the transition. I'm sure you (and the kids) will love it. Like said above- you could always go back I'm sure.
Actually, I won't be able to go back to this particular job. You have to be hired by age 37 (I think that is what it is) in this line of work, so unless I plan to go back fairly soon, it won't be happening. I think that is part of what makes it so hard, because I know that this is probably goodbye for good.

Do you think you will have/adopt more in the future?
Umm ... yes. I want another typical, biological child. I think I am done with adoption, as amazing as the experience was. When will we try for another one? Who knows. I can't get pregnant on my own, so there is a lot of money involved and you might remember that I just quit my job. LOL.


Anything else, folks? Ask now or forever hold your silence (until the next Q & A, that is). Oh, and feel free to delurk right now because I know you have a question burning a hole in your head. Muah!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

So ...

... it has been a fun few days here. Payton vomits Saturday night. Mason vomits Sunday night. Payton has diarrhea Monday morning all over the bathroom. And then ... Nika vomits Tuesday. Fun times had by all.

Yesterday was a very hard day for me. Big changes happening in my life ... big changes with regard to my career. I went to college and graduated 11 years ago {holy crap ... that long ago?} with a degree majoring in Corrections and minoring in Spanish and Psychology. I interned at a state Probation and Parole Office and went on to get hired there. After two years, we moved half way across the country and I was hired in the state Probation Office here. Two more years went by and I was hired in the federal Probation Office ... you know, where only the best of the best get hired. Yeah, yeah ... I'm patting myself on the back. I have spent the past six and a half years conducting investigations and I truly love my job.

After Payton was born three years ago and we received her unexpected diagnosis, I was permitted to cut my work schedule down to four days a week ... to allow for therapy and doctor appointments. Life was crazy during that time ... two parents working nearly full time jobs with two little kids ... I felt like we rarely had quality time to spend with the kids during the week. Quite honestly, I am wondering where the past five years of Mason's life and the past three years of Payton's life have gone ... I think I missed those years!

So along came Addison ... and for the past couple months, I have been on "maternity" leave. Now I have always been a person to whom my career is very important. As crazy as my life was, I never really thought I would take the plunge and stay home with my kids. It was my career, after all. What did I have if I didn't have my career? But ... that is exactly what we have decided I will do ... stay home with our kids. This was a very hard decision for me to make ... to say goodbye to my career ... it brings me to tears. I truly love doing investigations and working in the court system. Now it is no longer.

But ... I know there are three little people here at home that need me much more than my job does right now. And so there you have it. I am excited to be more involved in their daily activities, which is something you can't really do when you are working. I know this is also the right decision for Nika, as her attachment to us is our number one priority right now. Being away from us 10 hours a day wouldn't do much for attachment, so this is a good thing. It is a good thing! Anyone want to throw me a "Welcome to the SAHM club" party? LOL.

BTW ... not many people outside of my little bubble even know I had a career, so many of you are probably surprised right now. And yes, I did this in addition to running my boutique ... which I will continue to do from home. ;)

We finally have snow!


waking up in the morning:

snow falling from the sky:

sisters seeing snow together for the first time this year:

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dream Baby Girl ... Dream

Bloggy Giveaway: Gift Certificate to The Polkadot Platypus!

It's a giveaway! The Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Giveaway Carnival is here and now is your chance to win!

"What will I win?"

Why, I am so glad you asked!

I am giving away a $100 gift certificate to my online boutique ... The Polkadot Platypus. Polka dot baby bedding and pinstriped diaper caddies. Princess tutus and superhero capes. Chic diaper bags and upscale strollers. That {and more} is what The Polkadot Platypus is made from. Yes, this is an infomercial!

So, click on over and take a look at what could be yours!

"How do I enter?"

Why, I am so glad you asked! You ask all the right questions!

All I need from you is a comment on this blog post {don't forget to make sure there is a way for me to contact you} telling me how cool you think The Polkadot Platypus is! Hey, I gotta get a little satisfaction out of this too!

This contest is open to those in the U.S. and Canada only. Contest ends February 2, 2009 at 12:00 p.m. EST at which time a winner will be randomly selected.

Oh ... and don't forget to check out all the other great bloggy giveaways that are going on ... you could be a winner!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Poor Bubs

It appears as though Mason breathed in too much household air because he now has whatever Payton had last night.

One gets better. Another gets sick. I do believe it is a revolving door. I am really praying hard, though, that Nika does not get it ... and that Kyle and I don't get it! We have all had the stomach flu once this season ... isn't once enough?!

On that note, I had to cancel Nika's sleep study that was scheduled for tonight. I figured Kyle might like to have me here with a vomiting child. Okay okay ... I admit it is just a good excuse to not have to spend the night in a sleep lab. That has to be one of my least favorite things ever.

Walk Like ... a Doll Baby

Ok, so the title of this post is my take on the song, Walk Like an Egyptian. Cool?

I mentioned in my last Q&A that Nika is walking ... more and more every day. I promised I would post more on that later ... so welcome to later!

Nika is doing so well with her gross motor skills. I would estimate that she is walking about 75% of the time now, which is about 70% more than when she came home. She still is a little unsteady on her feet, but despite that she can walk really far without falling ... and she can do a 180 degree turn and walk sideways, which shows great skill.

So without further ado ... a series of videos that show her journey to walking ...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

How is it?

How is it ... exactly ... that a child can go from fine one minute, to vomiting the next? No signs of illness ... no signs of distress ... just ... blech. In my bed. On me ... on my new duvet ... on my laptop. Blech.

Then ... how is it that after cleaning up all the aforementioned things ... that three minutes later ... blech. On me ... on the clean sheets ... on my laptop. Blech.

And then ... well, I guess you know what is coming next. Third time is a charm, right? Let's hope so ... charm meaning the end.

Please God, let it be the end!

P.S. I am not naming names, but ... *cough* *cough* Payton *cough*.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Test Results

Whew, where do I start? We have had a lot of medical testing done here lately ... fun stuff!

Payton ... over the summer, I found a deer tick in her head when we were at the store ... you know, the really tiny deer ticks ... the ones that cause lyme's disease. Ugh. Instead of messing with it in the middle of the store, I wanted to wait until we got home. Well ... I forgot. And I remembered days later. I swear my mind is going. I ended up removing it, but I do believe the head broke off and with her fighting me, I couldn't get it out. I was told it would fall out on its own, but I sort of freaked out and told them I wanted to test her for lyme's disease. So we did ... finally. And the test was negative. Thank God!

Nika ... you might remember me mentioning all the bloodwork she has to have done. We have done three stool samples and two of three rounds of blood draws. One more to come. The stool samples showed no parasites and no giardia. Whew! Round one of bloodwork revealed that she is not immune to MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) or chicken pox, so she will need to be immunized for those. Hmpf.

Another test that we wanted to have done on Nika was an ultrasound of her abdomen. I don't think I have really talked about this yet, but her Russian medical record revealed that she had a history of calcification on her kidneys. It also said that she had diffused changes of the liver, reactive changes of the pancreas and an enlarged spleen. Oook then, that is sort of scary since that pretty much is every organ in the abdomen. So we hired an American Clinic in Russia to do an ultrasound on her belly. They reported that everything looked fine, but we wanted confirmation of that here in the U.S. using the medical technology that we have.

So today I took Nika for her ultrasound. She did fabulous, by the way ... it really is sort of sad how she is sort of trained, for lack of a better word, to sort of obey. Does that make sense? We are trying to let her know it is okay for her to sort of come out of that shell, but how do you really teach that? Anyway ... her ultrasound today showed that all of her organs look completely normal. Thank God again!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Someone please tell me why

My heart is breaking tonight. I have been following the blog of a little boy that is in the NICU due to problems after his birth. The little boy's mom mentioned on her blog that there is a baby in the same NICU that was abandoned after the parents learned of the baby's diagnosis. After hearing that, I knew in my heart of hearts that the baby probably has Down syndrome. Turns out I was right.

Why? Why?! Why!?!

I just am having a really hard time understanding how someone can just abandon their baby because it has Down syndrome. And thinking about this reminds me of the 90% abortion rate that occurs when women learn that their unborn child has Down syndrome.

Why? Why?! Why!?!

I don't understand. I just don't get it. Is it scary? Yes. Is it something that is unknown to most people? Yes. Was I scared? Yes. Did I know anything about Down syndrome? No. Was I open to learning about it? Yes! It was my child!

How is it that I am among only 10% of women who are open to learning about Down syndrome after being given a diagnosis? How is it that I am among only 10% of women who are willing to embrace their child, whether or not they are perfect in the eyes of society? How is it?!

I digress. I feel stomped on right now. I feel beaten down. I feel like I'll never win. I feel like I'll never be able to prove to people that my girls are just as normal as every other little girl out there.

My heart is broken.

Dinner Done

Do you often end up grabbing fast food, or spending a lot of money going out to eat? Wish your family sat down for meals more often? I know I do ... and that is why I went to Dinner Done last night with my sister-in-law. I have been wanting to go for awhile now and I'm so glad I finally did! Does that sound like a public service announcement?

How does it work? First, you schedule a time to go. They only allow so many people to use their "professional" kitchen at a time. Next, you decide how many meals you want to prepare ... and you select your meal choices from the menu. My sister-in-law and I split the 12-meal plan ... she got seven and I got five, which is also something you can do.

Once you get to Dinner Done, you have to prepare your meals ... which I love since it allows me to keep the nasty onions out of my meals. They have the kitchen set up in stations ... one station per meal. Each station has all the ingredients you need to prepare your meal ... it is awesome. You do your thing and then move on to the next station ... they clean up your mess! Oh, one more thing ... you can split your meals if you want. For example, one chicken dish is typically four large chicken breasts. So if that is too much for one meal, you can split it into two meals. That is what I did with all five of my meals ... I can always cook two at a time if I need to.

So in the end, I got 10 meals for $100 ... not too shabby. For me, the cost is worth it because 1) I don't always have time to cook like this, and 2) we wouldn't normally eat this healthy on a day to day basis ... because we don't always have time to cook like this. Did I say that already?

And here is what part of my freezer looks like ... just take it out, thaw and bake. Presto!

I have a problem ...

Vice: a habitual and usually trivial defect or shortcoming.

Hi ... my name is Bethany and I have a vice. Its name starts with Mountain and ends with Dew. I'm addicted ... not so much to the caffeine, but to the taste. It is a very bad addiction. It is not good for me and it makes me bloated. I am so not happy with my vice. But I just have to have the taste. My mouth waters for it like a wild animal's mouth waters for meat. Seriously. Just look at it.
{Drools} Help me ... please. Please tell me I'm not alone!

Sorry, I gotta go ... my refrigerator is calling my name.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Yet Another Great Cause

You know how much I love me some adoptive families. Meet
Jacob ...


Isn't he sweet? He is currently in Eastern Europe waiting for his forever family to bring him home. Lucky for Jacob, Brigitte and her family are raising money to bring him home!

Jacob is blessed with an extra chromosome ... just like my girls. If he is not adopted by age four, he will become institutionalized. Let's help Brigitte and her family get him home ... soon!

So how can we help? Why, I am so glad you asked!

Right now, Brigitte and her family are hosting a $10 raffle to win a Wii. I know for us ... we already have a Wii, but I'm thinking that would make a pretty nice gift for $10! Click here to get more information about this great cause.

Is he in charge of the music?

Yesterday was a long day for Mason. You see ... "my show" is a regular part of his day. That translates into the fact that he wants to watch just that ... his show. Cartoons. All day long. Umm ... I don't think so. Sorry Bubs!

I mentioned yesterday was a really long day for him ... courtesy of the inauguration. Did I tell you it was a really long day? Kyle and I wanted to watch the inaugural events on tv and Mason wanted no part of it.

"My show."

"My show."

Umm no.

I explained to Mason that it was a very important day ... that it was the day that we would be getting a new President and we wanted to watch it on tv. I also explained to him that the President is the person who is in charge of the United States. That was the best way for me to describe it to him, since he has an understanding of what the United States is. In light of the fact that he has zero understanding of what government is, I didn't go there.

As the day went on ... as we continued to watch the inaugural events on tv and read the newspaper ... every time Mason saw Obama, he said, "Look! It is our President!"

Such a smart kid. Wink.

Fast forward to yesterday evening, as we watched Beyonce sing for Barack and Michelle's dance at the ball, Mason said, "Look! It is our President!"

I said, "Yep, it sure is! {Chuckle.} Do you know what a President is?" {Mind you, this was after I had already explained to him that the President is in charge of the United States.}

Mason said, "Is he in charge of the music?"

LOL! Can you hear me laughing? This kid cracks. me. up. Very smart though, if you think about it. He said it as we watched Beyonce sing ... in his mind Barack was in charge of what was going on at the event, which of course was to be in charge of the music! Good analogy, son!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Welcome Home, Baby ... Welcome Home

A few days ago, we got this {look up} in the mail ... A Message from the President of the United States. Return address ... The White House. Oooh ... makes a person feel important!

Actually, the importance of this envelope is that it holds a Certificate of Citizenship for this face ...
... and a letter from the former President of the United States, George W. Bush, that reads like this ...

Dear Fellow American:

I am pleased to congratulate you on becoming a United States citizen. You are now a part of a great and blessed Nation. I know your family and friends are proud of you on this special day.

Americans are united across the generations by grand and enduring ideals. The grandest of these ideals is an unfolding promise that everyone belongs, that everyone deserves a chance, and that no insignificant person was ever born. Our country has never been united by blood or birth or soil. We are bound by principles that move us beyond our backgrounds, life us above our interests, and teach us what it means to be citizens. Every citizen must uphold these principles. And every new citizen, by embracing these ideals, makes our country more, not less, American.

As you begin to participate fully in our democracy, remember that what you do is as important as anything government does. I ask you to serve your new Nation, beginning with your neighbor. I ask you to be citizens building communities of service and a Nation of character. Americans are generous and strong and decent not because we believe in ourselves, but because we hold beliefs beyond ourselves. When this spirit of citizenship is missing, no government program can replace it. When this spirit is present, no wrong can stand against it.

Welcome to the joy, responsibility, and freedom of American citizenship. God bless you, and God bless America.

George W. Bush

I understand that this letter is the standard letter that every new citizen gets, but it really hit home with me. Not only did we adopt a child, we adopted a child that nobody else wanted. A child that was "flawed" in the eyes of most Russian people because she has an extra chromosome ... because she has Down syndrome. Truth be told ... a child that is "flawed" in the eyes of many Americans.

"... everyone belongs ..."

"... everyone deserves a chance ..."

"... no insignificant person was ever born ..."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

A Day in History

Inauguration Day 2009. I am standing here watching history happen before my eyes. Barack Obama has been elected the 44th President of the United States ... our very first African American President. He just made his appearance and I'm waiting for my goosebumps to subside as he prepares to take his oath.

No matter who we all voted for, I hope we can all come together to honor our President of the United States. We all know the economy has gone downhill the past few years, so let's hope there are only good things to come.

God Bless America!

Curious Boy.

Tonight I was playing around with some new photo software and I was editing the picture you see above. That picture is of the hotel room that Kyle and I had in Amsterdam ... we stayed at such a cool hotel. Anyway, Mason saw the picture and our conversation went something like this ...

Mason: Mommy, will you show me where the tub is?
Me: There is no tub ... there is only a shower.
Mason: What?! Well how did Nika get kwean and smwelly?
Me: Nika wasn't with us yet, honey ... only Mommy and Daddy stayed there.
Mason: Ohhh.
Me: Nika was still at the baby home ... at her orphanage.
Mason: Oh yeah, you and Daddy stayed there before you got Nika.

As much as we have talked to Mason about our adoption of Nika, he is still so curious about our trip to Russia. I love that. He is very aware of adoption and loves to tell everyone, matter of factly ... "We just adopted her from Russia. Her name is Nika." That said, he still has a lot of questions ... mostly about how it all happened. Sometimes I wonder if we have explained it throughly enough to him or not. I know he completely understand the concept, but like I said ... he has a lot of questions about our trip. I don't think he is confused ... I think he is just curious.

So ... I've been thinking about the best way to further explain things to Mason ... and I think that pictures are the best way to tell a story. He has not seen all of our pictures from our trip yet ... quite frankly we can't hold his attention long enough to get through all of them! LOL. I plan to make a photo book to give him a little more insight into our trip. I think it will help him now to see in book form what we experienced ... and it will be something he will always have to treasure.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Jump Jump Jump!

No school today. No school tomorrow. Cold weather. Had to let the kids burn off some energy.

So ... we went to JumpWorks with some friends from preschool. It was crazy busy, but the kids had a blast! We have several of these sort of "bounce houses" where we live and they are so much fun ... for kids and adults.

Nika exploring the princess castle ...
Mason on the slide ... that is serious stuff!
Chicky following her brother down the slide ... she is a wild one!Whoa sis ... what are you doing?!
At quick glance, this next picture probably is not significant to most people. To me, though, it shows a lot. That is Payton up there ... she got up there all by herself. Have you ever climbed up one of these walls? It is hard and tiring, stepping on those squares and pulling yourself up by those handles ... especially for a little thing like Payton. Especially for a little thing like Payton who is supposed to have gross motor delays, courtesy of an extra chromosome. But she can do it. She can do it!

Blood Draws

Seeing the words in the title of this post make me cringe. Kids with Down syndrome have really small veins ... and Payton's are even smaller than really small, if there is such a thing. In fact, when she was a year old, five different doctors in the ER couldn't get a vein on her for her IV ... not until they shined a light through her hand to see where her veins where. Why didn't they think of that after the first poke? I digress.

Moving on.

Last week I took Nika for her first draw for the slew of tests we need to have done. She did really good ... didn't cry at all ... until the tech couldn't find her vein and felt the need to go deeper ... and deeper ... and dig around a bit with the needle. Why ... someone please tell me why!

Today we were back in the lab to have blood drawn on both Payton and Nika. And each of them needed a lot of it drawn. Sigh. Nika went first ... no tears ... she did great!

Next ... Payton. Ugh. She screamed before she even sat down in the chair. That is why I wanted to have her blood drawn on a day that Kyle was with me, because I knew I couldn't restrain her myself. The child is so strong ... and she fights, big time. So Kyle sat down in the chair ... his job was to restrain her body. He tried, but there really is no restraining her. I had to restrain her arm while the tech drew the blood. Oh wait, there would be no immediate drawing of blood since the tech couldn't hit a vein! Ahhh ... Lord help me now.

First she tried Payton's right arm ... dug around a little ... nothing. Then she decided it would be a good idea to try her right hand. Really? Her hand? Woman, I wouldn't even hold my hand still long enough for you to draw blood from it, let alone my three year old! I ask about her left arm and the tech says no ... she feels nothing. So I give in to the hand.

Hahahaha ... yeah right. How do you hold a fighting, thrashing, crying three year old's little hand still enough to get like eight vials of blood? Right ... probably get there. Did I just say that? So she pokes her in the hand for two seconds before she realizes it isn't going to work ... "because she won't stop moving". Really? Does it take a brain surgeon to figure out that she wasn't going to sit still?

I'm not bitter. Nope, not at all.

While I was trying to get Payton to calm down a little bit, two fill-in techs arrived at the lab. They offered to try to get a stick on Payton and we said okay, only because I knew I wouldn't have the chance to have Kyle with me again. These two techs got a vein ... but it eventually cut off and started just dripping ... "because she won't stop moving". Seriously people. So we only filled about half of the vials, but they think it might be enough for all the tests. Then why did we have to fill all those vials to begin with?

I'm not bitter. Nope, not at all.

Thank God that is over. Oh wait, Nika needs one more draw. Thank God she is the easy one.

For Auntie Shay ...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

MAC Users

To all my fellow MAC users out there, please help me! LOL. I bought this thing a year ago and I still have one problem. Anytime I view an attachment from email or whatever, it automatically gets saved to my desktop ... even if I just view it! GRR! It is so annoying, because I have all this junk on my desktop that I do not need.

For example ... if someone emails me pictures of their kids. I click on the attachment to view the pictures, respond to them saying how adorable their kids are ... and then I delete their email. But oh no, the pictures are still lingering on my desktop! Ugh! It drives me insane and for the life of me, I cannot figure out where or how to stop the madness.

Help me. Please!

Edited to say ... I do not have this issue when I open my MAC mail. It is when I open mail from gmail or yahoo. Now what? LOL.

A Brag. Real Quick.

I admit that we have not signed with Payton as much as I would have liked over the past three years. We have signed a little bit, but not a lot. Since she started school this past September, I have noticed her finally picking up some of the sign that we have done here at home. I know they also sign with her a bit at school, but I'm not really sure how much or what signs.

A couple minutes ago, I asked Payton if she wanted some milk. I said to her, "Say Mama. Say ... Mama, milk please." Just then, she signed please. Holy smokes! We haven't really worked on that sign here at home, but clearly school is working on it. I'll add that one to our list!

Man I love that kid.

My poor dog

I'm not quite sure what it is, but I always seem to get stuck with dogs that hate being groomed by professional groomers. This leads me to become one with my scissors and by golly, I've gotten good over the years!

After reading this post and this post by Leah, I was reminded of how much I hate the other part of grooming ... trimming nails. Ugh. Our first dog had light nails, so it wasn't so bad. But our dog now has black nails ... and it sucks. Seriously, how do you know when you are going to hit the quick? I usually try to let the vet do it, but we aren't at the vet often enough, so I try to trim them myself, which I clearly dread, so it doesn't get done and then they get too long and then I'm worse off than where I started. Breathe.

So after getting my lesson from Leah the other day, I was all pumped up and decided it was time to cut my dog's nails. I had previously decided I would go buy some of this "stop bleeding" stuff Leah talked about, but whatever ... I was good and I would not hit the quick. Right? Hahahaha ... I suck. I hit the quick. Twice. One wouldn't stop bleeding. We put flour on it, but she wouldn't stop licking it. So we ended up with this ...
I'm sorry Zoe, I really tried. I promise I'll take you to the vet next time.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Umm ... a little weirded out.

I was just looking through my statcounter and looking at the section that lists all the keywords that people enter into their search engine and stumbled upon my blog. I am pretty much really weirded out right now because here is one that was listed as having been entered into google's blog search ...

Bathtime girls

Okay, who searches for something like that? Pedophiles, that is who!

Get to stepping! Get off my blog! You sicko!

Blog Overhaul

A couple days ago, I asked you to bear with me as I had a "blog rehaul" done ... what the heck is a rehaul? LOL. Let's go with overhaul ... hahahaha. Anyway, I want to thank Rebecca from Rebecca Creates for helping me with my new nav bar ... I am loving it! In my old life, I used to be organized and now I have at least a temporary sense of organization when it comes to my blog. If you haven't had a chance to read our adoption blog, you will see the link for that above. And, something new that I'm doing to fulfill my wanabe photographer identity, I've created a photography blog. That is where I will post some of my favorite pictures and design creations, as well as tips I learn along the way ... and I have a lot to learn when it comes to photography!

In addition to my overhaul, I created buttons for our family and adoption blogs ... something I should have done a long time ago, perhaps before our adoption was complete? LOL. Anyway, feel free to show some love and grab the codes below.

Life with Bubba, Chicky and Nika

Dreaming on an Angel

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Love her!

All along, Payton's biggest hurdle has been speech*. Over the past few weeks, she has really been doing well at repeating some words that we ask her to say. Actually, I should say that she has done well at repeating them clearly. Namely, "Mama" and "Daddy", which actually sounds more like "Da-yee" ... but whatever, it is so cute and I'm so proud of her!

Every morning, after I do her hair, she points to a picture of our family that is in our bathroom. She points and says, "Mama", "Da-yee" ... and then some approximation of "Mason" and "baby" (the picture was taken before we adopted Nika, but Payton is the baby in the picture). We go through this routine every day ... and if we don't stand there long enough to say "Mama" and "Da-yee" about 5,000 times, then she gets mad at me. LOL.

Tonight, while I was cooking dinner, I let the dog out. She started barking out on the deck, and apparently Payton associated that with Kyle getting home. I'm not sure why, but she did. So she took off running for the front door, saying, "Da-yee, Da-yee, Da-yee, Da-yee!" Oh my gosh, it was adorable! I went to the front door to see if she was right about him being home ... and she was. Kyle coming home has to be my favorite part of the day ... for two reasons. Number one ... the kids are so excited to see him, especially the girls. Number two ... well clearly, it means I have help with the kids. Haha!

*I want to make something clear since some of you are probably thinking, "Didn't she just turn 3? And she is only now saying "Mama" and "Da-yee"?" Yes, that is right ... thanks to that extra chromosome. One of the biggest delays that kids with Down syndrome have is speech. While Payton has been a rock star in most other areas, her speech has taken longer to develop. So yeah, hopefully you can imagine how ecstatic we are to finally hear her saying "Mama" and "Da-yee" with consistency. She has a lot of jibberish and some other words ... mostly approximations ... but the point here is that she is saying these words consistently ... and it melts my heart!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Bear with me!

I am having a little blog organizational rehaul done, so bear with me! Also, for all of you bloggers, please leave me a comment here so I have your blog URL to add to my blogroll! Even if you are a lurker and have never posted, I'd love to add you to my blogroll! :) BTW... I'm organizing my blogroll sort of by category, so if you could tell me in your comment whether you have a blog about life in general, a blog about life and down syndrome, or a blog about life and adoption ... that would be fabulous. Or, if you have another category, let me know! LOL

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Happy Birthday, Son

Dear Mason ...

I want to tell you a little story. Your daddy and I got married in 1999 and about a year later, we decided that we wanted to expand our family. Month after month, year after year ... we were not successful in achieving our dream. After about three years, we began undergoing fertility treatments. Cycle one ... not pregnant. Cycle two ... not pregnant. Cycles three and four ... not pregnant.

We moved on to more invasive treatment, something called in vetro fertilization. Cycle one ... we found out I was pregnant! Finally, after all these years, our dreams had come true. We were going to have a baby ... and that baby was you! While I was pregnant, you were a feisty little thing. I sang to you every morning on my way to work and you would kick me to let me know you were listening.

I will never forget the day you were born. I already knew you were a feisty little guy and you kept it up by refusing to leave my belly. I pushed and pushed for two hours ... nothing. We found out you were facing the wrong direction, or "sunny side up". That and the fact that you had such a big head ... well nothing was getting you out, not even the doctor's vacuum seal on your head. So off to the operating room we went for a cesarean section. All I remember is hearing you cry ... it was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard. You were such a handsome little guy ... and you had a lot of dark hair!

You were a very happy, easy going baby. As you began to get older, you were always into something ... and you haven't stopped since. The fact that you are turning five years old today boggles my mind ... you are definitely every bit of five! You have so many qualities that I adore ... you are thoughtful, funny, loving, enthusiastic, compassionate ... the list goes on. You are a leader among your friends and you persevere in everything that you do. You are the best big brother ever ... your "babies", as you like to call your sisters, adore you.

Here are some of your favorite things:
Macaroni and cheese
Chocolate milk
Helping Mommy cook
Power rangers
Your best friend, Alex
Playing sports
Spending time with your Grandma B., Aunties and Uncles
Playing video games
Hanging out with your Daddy, doing boy things

Happy 5th birthday, Bubs. You make me laugh every day ... I love you so much! Please stop growing up so fast, because I can barely keep up!

Love, Mommy

Monday, January 12, 2009

It's been two months since Gotcha Day ...

Dear Addison ...

Two months ago today, you finally got what you deserved in life ... to have a mommy and a daddy. To have a forever family that loves you, no matter how many chromosomes you have. To have a brother and sister that were ready to teach you so many things.

How lucky am I to be that mommy? How lucky are we to be your forever family? Incredibly lucky, sweet girl. The past two months have been an incredible whirlwind. I have so enjoyed getting to know you more and more every day ... I absolutely love everything about you!

I love to see you smile at me when I come into your room every morning.

I love how fast you crawl with excitement to get to Daddy when he gets home from work.

I love watching you laugh at your brother and sister.

I love how you rub your hands together when you see me getting ready to put lotion on you.

I love how you lower your head and look at me out of the corner of your eye, as if you are giving me the evil eye.

I love watching your mind work and seeing how smart you are.

I love listening to you laugh and squeal when I carry you and your sister down the stairs at the same time.

I love how you throw your hands in the air when you dance.

I love how you shake your finger at me when I tell you to stop sucking on your fingers.

I love to watch you become more and more comfortable here at home. The home that will never leave. We are here for eternity, baby girl. Never forget that. We love you with all of our hearts. I hope you have enjoyed the past two months as much as we have. We have a lifetime ahead of us ... and we can't wait to share it with you.

Love, Mommy

Loving on Mommy three days after meeting ...
Checking out Daddy shortly after meeting him ...
Meeting Mason and Payton at the airport ...

Angel Eyes

My biological kids have the strangest eyes ... beautiful, but strange. Mason has green eyes and Payton grey. They each also have brown markings throughout their eyes ... Mason's are more pronounced since his eyes are lighter (click on the photos below to see them better). I'm not really sure what it is or if it is significant, but it is there, nonetheless.

Does anyone know what this is or have this? It is funny because Mason has it on one eye, and Payton on two eyes ... and the location of the brown mark in each of their eyes is the same. Payton's markings are a lot more pronounced in pictures, but Mason's you can see clear as day just looking at him.

Payton also has what are called brushfield spots ... it is common in kids with Down syndrome. Hers are not as pronounced as some, but if you click on her picture above, you will see the sort of white circle that circles her eye ... those are brushfield spots. Nika has brushfield spots too ... I love her eyes!

Q & A

Will you continue to celebrate these events with her or just acclimate her to your family's traditions? Is there an Orthodox church near you?
Mostly we will be acclimating her to our family's traditions. However, at the same time, we will be honoring her roots and acknowledging these holidays in our home. I really have no idea if there is an Orthodox church near me, but it would definitely be worth going to a service sometime!

Quick question about your photos... what do you do to get that haze-like black frame around each photo?
I have had a lot of questions about this! I mostly use, which is free, but I also use photoshop software, which is not free. LOL. And the haze-like black frame that you are referring to is called a vignette, which is a photography thing. Both Picnik and Photoshop have the option to add a vignette to a photo. More to come on photography ... I'm getting so interested in it lately!

Don't you just love those double birthday's right after Christmas...sigh!
Um NO! LOL. I actually was due with Payton on Mason's birthday ... thank God she came a week early! I hate having their birthdays so close together, let alone right after Christmas. What do you guys think about doing 1/2 birthday celebrations?

Where are you finding all the lovely pages for your blog?
Um, I'm not sure I can tell you my secret! Haha. I'm kidding ... it is ... and I design my own header. If anyone needs blog help or wants a header or button designed, just let me know and I'd be happy to do it. :) EDITED TO ADD: I heard yesterday that their site was down, so hopefully this is just temporary!

You haven't banned those markers yet??! LOL!! What ever ended up happening with your couch?
We got the marker out. Luckily the couch has slipcovers, so we could just take them off and wash them. Thankfully the marker came out, although the marker queen struck again, so we have to wash them again. Little stinker!

Hey, I have an idea.....we need a few more volunteers for the Buddy Walk committee:) Want to join??
Yes, sign me up!

What a change for you to have an enthusiastic eater, huh?

I know, I love it!

I bet she didn't get all those kinds of foods in the baby home. They probably only had certain things, so now she's really enjoying those taste buds?
Yeah, I'm not really sure. Even though she was fed really well, I'm not sure of the variety. Someone told me that stuff like yogurt and bananas are considered treats there, so it makes sense that she goes nuts over them here!

Love the grape tradition - would it count if you cut them in half?
Gosh, why didn't I think of that?!

How long does it take to get to your house from Madison?
Umm ... a LONG time! LOL

You must have some fancy camera or something, or you took photography classes, because your pictures always look professional. Tell us your secret, please!
I do have a semi-fancy camera ... a Canon Rebel xti. I have not taken photography classes, but I am sort of artistic like that. I would love to take a class though! More on photography later!

Do you think your sister will share her icing recipe? lol
I'm sure she will ... I'll ask her for it if you still want it!

I would MOVE! That is too scary for me...what are you going to do? Look up Ghostbusters in the business pages of the phone book and CALL THEM! Good luck :)
What am I going to do? Um ... live with my ghost friend! LOL

Maybe the ghost is afraid of Carmen?
Haha ... I am, so I'm sure the ghost is!

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Is Nika Walking?
Umm ... yes! She is doing so awesome! I'll be posting more on this later!

Are you starting an annual walking-down-the-road Vonda-tradition picture?? :)

OMG yes, I have always loved that picture of hers! Good idea!

Any other questions I can answer? Go ahead and ask them here! ;)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Big Boy

Mason is growing up so fast and I'm not quite sure when that happened. He will be five years old next week and it kills him that his sister got to celebrate her birthday before he did. For the past few days, he has reminded us often that soon he will be five.

Last night he was in the shower, which is his new found favorite thing to do. I was in his room {which is connected to his bathroom} and somehow he saw me in there from the shower {hard to explain, but the view from the shower to where I was standing is not really clear} ...

Mason: Mommy, what are you doing?
Me: How can you see me?
Mason: Because I know everything. Soon I'll be five and then I'll be smart.
Me: Well you are already smart, aren't you?
Mason: Yeah.

Cracks me up that he thinks he will be smart soon because he will be five. Crazy kid.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Markers, Bathtime and Love

The marker damage ...
{I'll give you one guess who the culprit was. By the way, aren't her eyes amazing?}
Bathtime ...
{We had to clean the marker damage ... guess who is now loving bathtime?}
{Nika yelling at Payton for coloring on her face with marker ... oops, I guess now you know the culprit!}
Sisterly love ...
{No comment necessary.}

It snowed ... for a minute. Sigh.

10:52 a.m.
10:58 a.m.
C'mon ... can't we get more than a few flakes? Mason and I were so excited to look outside this morning to see snowflakes falling. Surprise, surprise ... they only lasted for a matter of minutes and then we had blue skies and sunshine. Seriously? Mason is just itching to have some snow to play with. I am so sad for him since I grew up in the midwest, where we had no shortage of snow to play with. Hopefully soon, son, hopefully soon.