Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Nina Gets her AFO's

3 What are your thoughts?
Today we got Nina's AFO's (aka leg braces.) I had no idea what they were going to look like, if you remember, when I last posted about the AFO's, I had no idea which "kind" we were going to get. I really like these, as it allows for more movement of her leg and foot while keeping her heel "down."

Nina was still trying to walk on her toes, which is understandable as this is the only way she knows to do it! Both, the AFO guy (sorry, don;t know the official title!) and our physical therapist said it will take a little bit for Nina to get used to this.

She does like them though, even if she dislikes the feeling of them. When she first got down on the floor to stand, she was amazed at how her balanced had suddenly changed. Even though her heels do not yet come all the way down, she can no longer just stand on her toes, which means that she can balance better, she liked that! She even was trying to let go and stand on her own!

Walking also changed for her. She has to learn a new posture, as the one she has always had, does not work with your heels on the ground. It will be a process, but we are getting there and she will someday walk. How exciting for her! Once she gets botox, her braces will help her even more!



Our camera is out of batteries. I will later post pictures of Nina with and without her AFO's. You will see what a difference they make!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Nina's Health Update

1 What are your thoughts?
We went to Mayo today to meet with Nina's pediatrician and go through all the test results. Her doctor is wonderful! He is so gentle with her and he has really listened to all of our concerns.

He went through all of her blood work first. What we know is that all of her vaccines are up to date, she does not have tuberculosis, she has no STD's, no HIV, all her blood counts are normal, liver function normal, nutrient absorption normal, and she has no parasites.

Her echo actually came back showing her heart is fine (so I really did worry for nothing!)

And her aspiration report had already been shared with us as we are already doing something about it as well as having surgery. He did a great job at explaining with easy terms what Nina's surgery procedure will entail. Oh, and her surgery will be April 22!

Nina has not gained any weight, and today she was even bellow what she was last week. The doctor thinks that it will take a while for her body to get used to her new diet and lifestyle, so he said to just wait a while, and add calories to her. We are doing Carnation Instant Breakfast (and really, what kid does not like chocolate milk!) We just need to check her weight, height, and head circumference every month for six months and then see if we need to check into anything else that could be going on. We hear this is normal with older children that are adopted from oversees.

It was all great news to hear, so we are feeling encouraged. Now we can really focus on her mobility issues and she should be getting her braces on Wednesday.

Thanks for praying!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

His One and Only Son

0 What are your thoughts?
Last year, I had the privilege to meet Michael Anthony Schulz, a sweet baby boy. I got to hold his tiny hand and see how beautiful he was in a small hospital room. I watched his mommy and daddy love on him with strength and grace that came from God alone.

His mommy, Brittany, wrote a beautiful post during Christmas time. I wanted to share it then, but never got to it while I was in Ukraine. As I think about Easter a week away, her post keeps coming back to mind. Today I want to share it with you.

I suggest you grab a tissue.

To Our Family and Friends,

At the start of 2009, Mike and I did not know what the year was going to bring us. We patiently and prayerfully anticipated each new day with a joy and a strength that only God could provide. We did know two things for sure: 1) we would celebrate the birth of our son and 2) we would be relying on God through our tears of sorrow and happiness.

On March 3, 2009- almost one month early- we welcomed our first born into the world, our son, Michael Anthony Schulz. Mike and I are incredibly blessed to have our son! We love his perfectly made toes, fingers, and smile. He has the brightest blue eyes that shine with love for his mommy and daddy. We knew on Wednesday, November 12, 2008 that our son would be fighting for each day of his life while inside his mommy and after his birth. On March 17, 2009, as Michael’s mommy and daddy, we were able to sing our son home to heaven. He met the arms of Jesus at 1:30am on March 18th.

Michael Anthony Schulz is the greatest blessing of our lives. Great blessings of this magnitude cannot come without great trials and sufferings. To take away the pain would be to take away the most magnificent joy. 2009 contained a pain that overwhelmed ours souls but through the grace of God miraculously soothed our hearts with the fact that we are the mommy and daddy to the greatest little boy who lived for two weeks and one day. Our precious miracle taught us what it means to love, what is truly important in life, and how merciful and gracious our Lord and Savior is. The most fulfilling two weeks of our lives were spent in a tiny private room shut off from the world by two pocket glass doors and hospital-grade pink curtains. Like the lowly barn where the miracle of our Savior’s birth took place, so was the unassuming hospital room where our precious miracle would spend his days on earth. Two of the biggest blessings in our lives came in the most fragile, desperate, yet beautiful bodies.


As we welcome Christmas, we understand that God’s ways are not our own. As we thought that we would be spending this Christmas as our son’s first, God knew that His plan for our lives required our son to be in heaven being cared for by Jesus. Mike and I understand what it means to let go of our one and only son. Yet, we still cannot comprehend what God did for us when he sent his one and only son to be born in a lowly stable. God had the joy of watching His Son grow and mature in His love and obedience. God also had the pain of watching His one and only son willingly give up His life in obedience to death on the cross for the glory of God and to provide a way for each one of us to follow in obedience and in the love of Christ to accept His free gift of salvation. The book of Romans tells us that the best works that each one of us can do is still only as good as filthy rags. Our sin separates us from the love of God. In God’s grace and mercy, he provided a way for our sin to be blotted out- the only way for sin to be covered is by the shedding of blood. Jesus, God’s only son, is able to cover over the multitude of your sins by his one-time sacrifice. By repenting and accepting this offer of perfect love, you can be free from your sin and guilt and be able to live out your purpose in life to glorify your Creator! How perfect are His grace, mercy, and love?!

As you look at the picture of our son enclosed, please remember the following: we have a perfect son in the arms of Jesus; we are not deserving of anything, but are fortunate to count our many blessings; and our son has the promise of heaven, which has also been provided for you by the birth and death of Jesus Christ. We pray that you are our brothers and sisters in Christ!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

We love each one of you,

Mike and Brittany Schulz

“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.”

- I Samuel 1:27-28

“God gives; God taketh. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

- Job 1:21

You can visit their CaringBridge page by clicking here.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

I did it!

2 What are your thoughts?
Today, for the first time, I took all three girls with me to run some errands. Yes, you read that right: for the first time, and all on my own!

No big deal you might think, but getting a 2, 3 and 4 year old to cooperate is not always easy! Ellie did a great job being a big girl on our first trip. She helped me push the stroller. Second trip we went to the store and all 3 girls rode the cart. They even managed to stay happy until we were checking out, where I had to warn them if they did not hold it together for 5 more minutes we would be out of there with empty hands and NO CHOCOLATE! We made it to the car and home without a glitch!

I do realize at times I might end up in a predicament that will not be as easily solved (unless I always have chocolate with me.) After some thinking, I have ordered a backpack carrier from babyhawk that I am sure will come in handy for the times where I just need all 3 girls strapped into either the stroller or my back!

So I did it! I have graduated to the next level. The mama with the 3 kids can do it on her own!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Having a Sister With Down Syndrome and one with Cerebral Palsy

1 What are your thoughts?
Yesterday, Ellie and I were talking about her sisters. It really was not a meaningful conversation, but we were talking about the fact that Nichole has Down syndrome and Nina has Cerebral Palsy.

I often wonder what she thinks. I can tell you that she does not see her sisters as "different," even though she is aware that in some ways they are. Still, I had to ask.

"Sweetie, what does it feel like to have a sister with Down syndrome and a sister with Cerebral Palsy?"

Ellie looked at me and made a face, "What do you mean mom?"

"I don't know, I guess I was just wondering because my sisters did not have Down syndrome or Cerebral Palsy."

"Well mom" she said, "It feels like..normal!"

I smiled.

Normal, it feels like normal. And why wouldn't it feel like normal? They are her sisters, plain and simple. Whatever diagnosis they might have, has nothing to do with their relationship. They just are who they are.

Pretty wise words from a 4 year old.

So for anyone wondering what it is like for Ellie not having "normal" siblings. Well, wouldn't you know it, it makes no difference to her as she will be the first to say, "It feels like normal!"

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Nina's Health Discoveries

5 What are your thoughts?
Last month I posted about our 2 days in Mayo. I mentioned that what was our general pediatrician and neurology appointment had trickled into seeing many more "ologists." The last 2 days we have seen these "ologists" who will in turn have referred us to more "ologists" and have resulted in scheduled surgery for next month.

Today our day started by meeting with an ENT. They are pretty concerned about Nina's aspiration, and her tonsils might be contributing to the problem. Next month, Nina will have her tonsils out, and they will look at several parts of her throat as well as her lungs. I think there are 6 procedures that will take place. Right now they are all jumbled up together so I cannot tell you all that will happen. But, we will stay over night, and they did go over some risks (like a punctured lung or severed vocal chords, which freaks me out!). This is all because of her aspiration, and we need to check and see if this has been going on all her life, and if there is any permanent damage done to her lungs and throat.

They could not check her ears due to excess wax, so her ears will be cleaned while she has her tonsils checked. Also, they decided we might as well only sedate her once, and her MRI most likely will happen that same day.

Yes, April 22nd will be a huge day for Nina!

Rehab doctor checked her over and Nina is now scheduled for a round of Botox injections. She is going to have some pretty good looking legs! Ha! Botox is used to help the nerves stop firing a signal to the brain, therefore, the muscles can relax and her legs will not be as tight.

We added an X-ray in there.

Then we had an echo. I asked the technician at the end if there was anything we should be concerned about. I am no expert on heart ultrasounds, but something looked funny. Her response left me very uneasy. "Sorry, I cannot tell you what I saw. They told me your doctor will go through those results with you." So, there is something, because she did not say, "No, nothing to worry about."

Then, we had a bonus appointment with an audiologist (ENT thought we should see him.) let me tell you, I think this doctor has to be the best kids doctor EVER! Loved him! And Nina did too! Verdict, Nina has great hearing on her left ear, but very limited hearing on her right ear. They will have to recheck once the ears have been cleaned out and they make sure there is no fluid.

Top it off. Nina has gained NO WEIGHT since we got her. She is almost 4 and only weights 26 pounds. Could it be the heart? Could it be aspiration? Could it be something else? I don't know! We will know more on Monday when we go back and go through all her results.

So if you think about Nina, will you pray for her? Pray for her body, and pray for wisdom for the team of doctors working with her.

I am exhausted, I will go to bed.


Monday, March 22, 2010

Swallow Study

2 What are your thoughts?
Today Nina had a swallow study done.

Almost every time that Nina takes a drink, she kind of chokes a little and starts coughing. Sometimes it is pretty mild, and sometimes it sounds a little "alarming." There are times that even her saliva will send her into a coughing frenzy. And for this reason, she had a swallow study done to check for aspiration.
So let me tell you what this means for Nina. Basically when she drinks thin liquids, her epiglottis is not working properly. By all means this is the easy way to explain it because this is how I understand it. You will see in the picture below, that the epiglottis is a membrane (or muscle?) between the esophagus and trachea. This membrane is supposed to "move down" as part of the swallow reflex to close of or protect the trachea, vocal chords, and lungs in order to keep out food and liquids.

Well, Nina's does not close down when she drinks thin liquids, which is why she starts coughing. She is in fact aspirating. It seems like her liquids need to be "honey like" consistency in order for her to swallow properly.

What was the swallow study like? They gave Nina barium to drink and basically took an X-Ray video to see what her throat was doing. She aspirated every time until we got to the honey like consistency.

Food is another story, but she is not aspirating, so we will leave it at that. We don't have to be concerned about it, so we will let it be. In Nina's case, this is part of having Cerebral Palsy.

So from now on, we will be thickening all of Nina's drinks to a honey like consistency. Oh fun! Actually, I really don't mind it, I am thankful that she does not need a feeding tube.

And, Nina loved the plain barium! They ran out of koolaid to disguise the flavor and wouldn't you know it, she loved it! She would have no more koolaid stuff. Now what did they feed her at the orphanage? She likes barium? We cannot get her to eat, but she will drink barium!

I did leave thinking maybe Nichole needs a swallow study done too.

The way back home was hard. Nina cried the last 40 minutes. It was draining. Andy pointed out she was displaying orphanage behaviors, we had not seen some of these for a while. Makes us wonder what really triggered it, what is going on in her little heart and mind.

So tomorrow we go back for another full day. You can keep us all in your prayers.



Sunday, March 21, 2010

World Down Syndrome Day 2010

2 What are your thoughts?

Two and a half years ago I thought my world had shattered into pieces. As I held my baby girl all I could see was her diagnosis; Down syndrome. I did not want to have a baby with Down syndrome. I wished with everything in me that we could scratch it all and start all over again. I even wondered if God had made a mistake, because this was certainly not a part of my plan. Dreamer as I am, a child with Down syndrome did not fit in my future. Maybe if she was gone, my life would make sense again.

When Nichole was two weeks old, we thought there was a possibility of a serious liver condition that could take her life. This is it, I though, God is really going to take her because I don’t want her. Was I really that full of selfishness that it had kept me from loving my daughter?

That day I kneeled down on my living room floor. Not because I was praying, but because I was crying so hard, that I couldn’t stand. I had so many emotions inside of me; they rushed out in tears and sobs. And I did pray, raising my arms, “I choose to love her Lord. With everything that I am, with everything in me, I choose love!” And I meant every word.

That day marked the end of my self-pity.

That day marked the beginning of a life altering journey. One that we continue to travel, and one that we have embraced.

Down syndrome. Back then the words seemed so dark, so scary.

Down syndrome. The words now are full of love, unconditional love. They are wrapped in joy, peace, kindness.

The baby that I never wanted, was the baby that I always needed.

Nichole has taught me more in her lifetime that I have known in mine. Down syndrome has been a gift, a wonderful gift. She was never broken, I was. And God uses her to do His work in my life.

We have discovered shades of color that we never knew were possible. A statement that I read in Gifts and that has proven to be true as we continue to walk this road. Nichole’s life has been so rich and deep. She continues to teach me lessons that are profound in meaning. We know that the value of a life is not based on what we accomplish, but in our ability to love. All because of her.

Nichole saved the life of a once-orphan girl in Ukraine. One that is now a part of our family, and one that we call our own. Nina’s brokenness would have scared us once but now we can embrace her because of Nichole.

John 9:3 has been true in Nichole’s life as the power of God is displayed in her life.

God’s child, God’s precious child given to us.

Nichole.

She is not just the child I always needed. She is the child I always wanted, I just didn’t know it.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Swings and Fun

1 What are your thoughts?
We have had beautiful spring weather the last week. It has been wonderful to see the snow melting and revealing the sleepy grass. Ellie woke up one morning and must have looked outside the window, she came running into our room, "It is spring, it is spring! The grass is growing!"

After a morning of therapy, we came home and after taking naps we went outside for a stroller ride and a bike ride. What a beautiful day! We did not want to go back inside so we played in our back yard. We went swinging, sliding, and climbing.

This was Nina's first time in a swing! (That we know of, there was one in the orphanage but at a different baby house, so I really don't think they got her in a stroller to take her down the road to it)

As soon as we started pushing the giggles erupted from her. She giggled and giggled and giggled. Nichole was swinging too, so Nina asked me to swing with them (there are 4 swings) and Nina thought it was fantastic that all 3 of us could swing. Ellie was having fun in her "tree house" climbing up and going down the slide.

Nina and Nichole spend a lot of time together when Ellie is in school. Here they are wearing their tutus and putting crayons inside bottles. Talk about a great exercise for fine motor skills!
Sweet Ellie posing for her picture :)
And Nichole having a hard day when all she wanted to do was cuddle with daddy. For the rest of us she had a, "Noooooo!"

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Thank You For Giving

0 What are your thoughts?
I don't know that there will be enough words to say "thank you" to all those who helped us bring Nina home. The longer she is with us the more she feels like she is mine, and I am not babysitting her as much as I used to. This last week I was reminded of the reasons why we adopted her, and of the darkness from where she came.

Three weeks before going to get her we were about $13,000 short. Yet, God provided...through you. What an amazing journey to be a part of, how humbling too. God's hand was upon Nina, He loved her, He created her. And besides the love of a family, what we have to offer is far greater than that, we have Jesus, she will know about a Savior that loves her desperately.

Nina loves to sing. At the orphanage I would sing to her "Oh no, you never let go, " and "Jesus loves me." Still her two favorite songs.

Andy was listening the other day at some music on the radio and the song "Thank you, for giving to the Lord." Was playing.

"I can picture Nina," he said, "Standing before our family and friends, singing, thank you, for giving to the Lord, I am a life, that was changed."

It was a very powerful realization of the difference that those that gave made in her life. Just months away from being sent to an institution and never hearing about Jesus, never knowing the love of a family.

So thank you, thank you so much. Even after 4 months, we can say thank you, and we will forever be grateful. And maybe someday, Nina will stand before all those who love her and sing "Thank you", because your gift saved her life.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Kid Carriers, Which One Should we Choose?

4 What are your thoughts?
We have three girl. Three girls that do not always like to walk (okay, one of them cannot walk!) I have an awesome double stroller but it seems like all three of them want to ride on it at the same time. So what to do? Get a triple stroller?

But what about the times that we want to go for a hike, and the terrain does not allow for a stroller? Then what?

I have been looking at different carriers (the kind where you can carry your child on your back) but I am not sure which one is the best kind. I also need a carrier that can adjust to a 2, 3, or 4 year old. At least for now they are all between 25 and 35 pounds.

So I need help finding the right carrier for our family. I originally thought I would carry Nina the most (which I do carry her on sling, but after a while it kills my shoulder and back as the weight is not evenly distributed) and carrying Nina on my back is not a possibility quite yet because her legs just won't give and wrap around my back. So Ellie and Nichole will get to ride on my back (and Andy's!) the most.

Suggestions please!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Walking Continues

7 What are your thoughts?
Today when our Physical Therapist brought out the gait trainer (walker) Nina was not very excited.

"No, no walker. No walker Nina"

"Let's try it, it will be fun!" I said

"No, no fun, no walker. No walking Nina."

But she had no choice. And so she was strapped in the walker. Jamie (our physical therapist) decided to go walk around the hospital and see how Nina did with long distances.

By the time we got back to the room and were done for the day, Nina said,

"No...no all done. More walking. More walking Nina!"

So she is hooked! She wants to walk! She absolutely loves it!


video

Casted for AFOs

1 What are your thoughts?
Remember a few weeks ago when I wrote this post? I mentioned than Nina will be getting AFO's (ankle-foot orthosis). Well, today, she got casted and her AFO's are only a few weeks away!

First, they slid this thin sock on Nina's feet where the fiber glass would go over.
Then, the yellow plastic strip went over the "sock" and the fiber glass was wrapped around her leg and feet while we tried to get Nina's feet to be at a 90 degree angle with her leg. (The fiber glass looked like a large roll of tape!)
Here you can see that we are almost done with one leg.
When it was all done (it hardened up pretty quickly!) they cut through the material with the yellow plastic strip as a guide (that is what the yellow strip was for, pretty clever!)
And one leg is done. Nina looked confused as we said, "Here, want to hold your leg?"
And we worked on the second leg.
We might as well look at the camera and smile :)
And we are done! Two casted legs, and AFOs on the way! We were not able to look at options for patterns, but we said flowers or butterflies.
And, if you click on the post from last time, there is the picture of the different AFO's there are. I am not sure which kind we are getting. We talked about the pros and cons for the different styles (straps, no straps, etc) So I said whatever they think, I am new at this and trust them. So as soon as we get them (end of the month) I will surely post pictures.


Big oops on the last speech post!

0 What are your thoughts?
So, I am learning right? And sometimes terms can get very confusing and jumbled up together resulting in something completely different than originally said.

We had talked briefly about apraxia (because of Nichole) and Sara mentioned a word starting with letter "d" so, in my brain I put the two together and all of a sudden Nina had verbal dyspraxia. Which is not the case.

So, here is the corrected terminology and condition, and it is called Dysarthria. If you click on the link you will see it mentions Cerebral Palsy!

This is what Sara said and it is probably a lot better explained than I can even if I try.

"Dysarthria is when the muscles show weakness which results in decreased coordination for speech! Verbal dyspraxia is when the muscles do not demonstrate weakness but the transmission system between the brain and the muscles has delays in development and children cannot produce the sounds consistently."

And I am off to edit my last post. Thanks Sara!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Is it a Phone or a Banana?

2 What are your thoughts?
Nina asks for a banana.

Andy gets it for her and as he walks towards her he pretends it is a phone and he is calling grandma.

Nina's eyes are big and wide, she is confused.

Andy hands her the banana.

Nina takes the banana. Examines it, turns it, pokes it.

Nina looks at Andy and says with great wonder and amazement..."WOW!!!"

Speech and Children with Special Needs

3 What are your thoughts?
Yesterday Nichole had speech and Nina came along.

Nichole was just having an off day. She was a big rascal and had been getting in trouble all morning, which means that by the time we got to Speech Therapy she had already determined she would not cooperate. Nina, on the other hand, wanted all the attention from the world's best Speech Therapist :)

I had mentioned to Sara before that Nina was going to have a swallow study and that Nina drools quite a bit. She has said to me back then that she would like to see Nina and maybe do an evaluation. I of course, said her speech was coming along great and she had no speech delays whatsoever. Sara, being as sweet as she is said nothing and just waited for the right time. Yesterday was the right time.

As she played with Nina she would ask her to imitate sounds, which Nina did quite well. But when she asked Nina to put all the sounds together, all of a sudden some of the sounds were not as clear. After playing around with sounds and words, and after Sara asking some questions she said that Nina has dysarthria.

Now that we think about it, we had been seeing it all along. She talks a lot, and sometimes we cannot understand a lot of what she says and we have just said, "It must be Ukranian." I have even mentioned before that Nina sometimes speaks her own little language now, neither English nor Ukranian, assuming it was part of the learning process. While some of it is true, this is also attributed to the lack of coordination of her muscles used during speech. Aha! Now we can help her! As I have learned, this condition is pretty typical in some children with mild Cerebral Palsy.

That is Nina.

Nichole, well, her speech seems to be taking off. She is making more and more sounds and putting them together trying to for words. Sara does some cued speech with Nichole and our little rascal seems to be really getting it. Sometimes she walks around the house saying "open" while cuing it herself (sounds like "oh-pa") And while we don't do the official cued speech which I linked to above, Sara has her way of doing things that Nichole gets!


She sings along better and better to her favorite songs and more and more we hear approximations of words. It is very exciting and we feel like she is about to take off (and I keep reminding myself that "about to take off" might just take a little bit longer with her, as she likes to take her time)

I know the average for a child with Down syndrome to speak is age 4, and this might be true for Nichole. But, we do celebrate what she is able to do, and she really is doing fantastic. Between her signs and words she is communicating, and that is fantastic!

Friday, March 5, 2010

A "Walk" in Progress

11 What are your thoughts?
This is Nina just 2 days ago at Physical Therapy. The walker she will have looks just like this one except picture it in hot pink. Nina has a love/hate relationship with this walker.

Love, because she can really move in it. She can go faster than she was ever able to move before on her own, giving her an immense sense of accomplishment and joy. She is so proud of herself! And she can really go fast!

Hate, because this walker makes her posture be correct and she cannot compensate her movements. There is also this harness type thing that does not allow to scissor her legs when she walks. Basically, this walker makes her work hard!

So here are a few short videos of her as she is a "walk in progress."


video video

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Two Months Make a Difference

4 What are your thoughts?
Nina has been with us for 2 months now. The time has gone by so quickly and slowly she is opening up and allowing us to see more of her personality.

She is adjusting extremely well. She knows that we are her family and for almost everything we do she goes through our names. Like for example, "Nina eat, Ellie eat, Nichole eat, Mommy eat, Daddy eat."

Her speech is coming along so well. Actually, she is doing fantastic. There are times when she will say a sentence with perfect grammatical structure, and other times where we can only make out 3 words of what she says, but all in all, she is learning so well. If we try to say the word in Russian, she tells us, "no, no" and will say it in English. She is communicating with signs and words and most of the time we know exactly what she is talking about. She is great at repeating things and loves to sing! As a matter of fact, I think she is learning most of her speech through song and music.

She gives hugs to her sisters (sometimes) and kisses to us (when she asks for one). Ellie gives her too many hugs, and Nichole pushes her over several times a day (yes, our sweet Nichole acts like a bully when it comes to Nina) but overall they get along pretty well. It is sweet that every night they hug and kiss, and occasionally I find Nina and Nichole smiling at each other from across the room. Ellie and Nina get along very well (for as long as Ellie is not trying to hug and kiss non stop)

We think she could be potty trained, but she likes to wear diapers. Really she does, that is something she can say in English and she has said it to me a couple of times. "No, no Nina toilet, Nina diaper, okay mommy?"

Nina is afraid of being left behind, so anytime one of us puts a coat on she is ready to go, "Oh! Nina coat on! Nina go!" It doesn't matter what it is, she wants to be included.

Nina hates snow. She does not like it at all. She also hates cold. Every time we go outside she tells us it is cold, and most people that have talked to Nina and talk to her have been told, "Cold! Nina cold" or "My hands cold!"

She loves dresses but us getting used to wearing pants, and even though she was only used to wearing tights, she now wears socks and even takes them off just like her sisters! I think she feels so free!

Nina is starting to reject some of her background. She does not want Russian words, but if we call her Ninanchka (which she was called as a sweet nickname) she tells us , "No, no Ninanchka, me Nina." We were so unsure about weather to keep her name or not, we thought after 3 1/2 years we could not change her name, but I do wonder now if she would have liked that, if now it would be her new name, given to her by us, her new family. Too late for that!

I was showing Nina pictures of Ukraine and her favorite worker. She could not even remember it, it was so interesting. And she then said, "No, no pictures. Yes pictures Nina, Ellie, Nichole, Mommy, Daddy." makes us wonder all that really took place, but it also reminds us that the orphanage was a sad place to be, and the love she has now is filling her little heart and she feels loved!

So here are some pictures of her 2 month anniversary.

(Sorry, this felt like a ramble post!)








Spread the Word to End the Word

0 What are your thoughts?
r-word.org

Today is Spread the Word to End the Word Day.

For our family, we do what we can to spread awareness. And you can click here to read about our thoughts on the r-word, actually, I would love it if you did take the time to read how this word affects our family.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Wasp Nest That Was

3 What are your thoughts?
Andy took Ellie outside to play, and thought he would look inside the shed and see if it would work out to make it into a playhouse for the girls this summer. To his surprise when he opened the door he found this...
A wasp nest...the size of a head, a man's head. I mentioned to him before that I had seen "bees" going into the wood of the shed, but when we had last looked, there was no nest...maybe we did not look long enough.

I was sure I had seen "bees" and Andy was sure it was a wasp nest. After asking around and doing some research I was proven wrong. But, the good thing is that wasps abandon their nests during winter and they say they never come back to an old nest. Not sure about that, but either way we had to take the nest down, and if there were no wasps in there hibernating, maybe I could do the job since I had some time this afternoon. So I armed myself with bravery and I held on tight to the shovel handle. The nest feel no problem, it felt almost like old paper. No wasps in sight, and no wasps inside. Crazy!


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