Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Almost 18 Months Home

September 1, 2009

Almost 18 Months Home

It’s hard to believe we will celebrate our 18-month anniversary this month on the 18th…… Angella is doing fabulously well and loving life! The past year has been pretty typical of most American families I would guess……. Soccer, homework, sleepovers, pool parties and lots of family time.

Angella celebrated her first Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s and probably most importantly, birthday since I last blogged. It was an action packed year to say the least.

We also have a recent new addition to the family, our little sheltie that we adopted from a local shelter, Fia! After 3 months, Becker is slowly warming up to the idea……

Angella has made many friends and enjoys time with her girlfriends..... between skating parties, sleepovers and pool time she has little time for much else. And even though she doesn't get to see her three brothers often, she loves knowing they are there and is very excited when they do come into town.

6th grade started off with a bang. School supplies were purchased in July (she was just a little excited). Her first day outfit was planned weeks in advance and her lunch was packed two days before school started…… Needless to say, our little social butterfly was ready to go back! 2:30 the first day I got the call…… 103.5 degree temp and sore throat “better come get her”. She missed the rest of the first week….. But now she’s on solid ground and the daily grind has set in……. homework, dinner, pack lunch, butt in bed by 9:15, lights out by 10:00. Fortunately for us, she does well with rituals and schedules….. She and Fia head up agreeably at 9:00. A little mom and dad time begins!

Our good friends, Kelley and Roger Holliday, adopted Angella’s friend from Desky Dom #2, Elona. The shrieks of excitement that first meeting, April 3 to welcome them home will be forever in our minds….. The girls see each other as often as their busy schedules permit…….. It is a uniquely special bond they will always share…. We are so glad that we were able to help Kelley and Roger bring Elona home.

Feeling blessed in so many ways…..

Peace and Love,
Pam, Len, Angella, Fia and Becker

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Celebrating 6 Months Home!!!

I can’t believe we just recently celebrated our 6-month anniversary of being home! It has been an amazing continuation to the journey..... Looking at the photos on the blog bring back the memories of those first few days home. What a special time that was…… It has been totally mind-boggling to watch Agella go from a handful of English words to being totally conversational. We were told she would pick it up quickly. They were right! She doesn’t have a shy bone in her body so even though she isn’t always “grammatically correct” she can carry on a conversation with the best of them – her Dad included! :) She adjusted well to American school and made some really wonderful friends before the end of the school year. Len took her to UC for Take Your Child to Work Day - she loved seeing a "university" and wants to go there when she gets out of high school - so she can still live at home and sleep in her own bed!!! :) Soon after we were home we celebrated her first Easter and Passover in America. She met many of her cousins and aunts and uncles. We thought she might be overwhelmed, but she absolutely loved it!

She attended a summer camp that included swim lessons and daily swimming sessions, outings to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, Coney Island to name a few. We bought her her first bicycle. She loves to ride. She took karate and ballet lessons over the summer too! We went on vacation with the our cousin's the Pax’s to St. Simon’s Island, GA and Isle of Palms, SC. It was so fun to see Angella’s face the first time we approached the beach and her excitement when she found her first sand dollar and conch shell. By the 4th of July, she had met all three of her big brothers! She loves having brothers and although she doesn’t see them often she runs to the phone whenever they call!

Starting school was a breeze as she was so excited to be in the 5th grade with her best friends Maddie and Vanessa. The Montessori environment and her teacher Ms. Jill have proved to be the perfect fit for her! We found a life saver in Zebo. A graduate student from UC that is from Uzbekistan (near Russia). She speaks Russian and is studying linguistics. She and Angella hit if off immediately. Nice to have the "tutor" responsibility off of my plate! We’re wrapping up her first soccer season. She absolutely loves soccer! She scored a goal last game! We celebrated with snickers and Indian food that night. Her favorite. She and Len go out golfing whenever possible. Last time she had a 150 yard drive right onto the green! Needless to say, Len was a proud papa! Angella also loves to cook and puts garlic, cayenne pepper, and pepper jack cheese on just about everything. She “mans the grill” anytime she has the opportunity! She eats more fruit than you would believe! And a whole cucumber and tomatoes accompany her to school each day in her lunch box.

She has learned a handful of magic tricks that are actually quite unbelievable. Her latest interest is making jewelry. Gail, Len’s sister was so impressed with the pair she made for her, that she asked Angella to make an assortment for her gallery in Chapel Hill, NC. We spent hours searching for beads and now she is in non-stop production mode. We’re creating a logo and artist statement – she’s already written the copy! It's nice to see her innocence and hear her laugh out loud as she watches her cartoons. Not a day goes by where she doesn’t get her “sponge bob fix”!

We celebrated our 6-month anniversary with Bubbi and Grandpa Marv and Grandma Norma and Frank. We ordered Indian - of course and showered her with a few special gifts. It was a special evening for all of us.

Mom and Dad are doing great. We are enjoying sharing the responsibilities of parenthood. It’s definitely different from our quiet and spontaneous lifestyle we were accustomed to. For Len it’s been great experiencing a daughter. Fortunately she loves sports but the sweetness of being scared of monsters at night and fashion shows after a little shopping spree, are always a hit! He affirms girls are definitely different than boys! Motherhood has come very naturally and the connection that Angella and I share is indescribable. It’s not to say there aren’t challenges with adopting an older child, but it’s certainly been easier than either of us imagined. Most of the time, she is a complete joy to be with. We love having Angella in our lives! She truly is a blessing!

Look for another update just after the holidays. A lot of “firsts” coming our way! Angella’s 12th birthday is January 7.

Enjoying the days of our lives……….

Pam, Len and Angella

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Home Sweet Home!!!!!!

I am touched by the love and support we have had during our adoption journey! Unless you have been there, you may not realize how much it meant to us……. We feel blessed to have you all in our lives.

Angella is truly a special spirit and when you meet her you will feel the gentleness of her energy. In as much as she is “spunky” and extraverted, she is sensitive, sweet and kind.

She absolutely loved the plane ride home and made friends up and down the aisles….. it was nice for her to be exposed to English while she was still able to converse so naturally with the other Russians on the plane from Kiev. We were so happy to see our friend Michele at the airport. She greeted us with a bouquet of flowers for Angella, water bottles and girl scout cookies…… Can you tell she is a mom!?!

Coming home was so exhilarating…… she nearly crawled out of her skin! She was so giddy and excited, she just keep jumping up and down. It was the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen. “WOW” was all she could say and then “this is my room?” She rubbed her eyes, as if she simply couldn’t believe it….. it still brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.

She slept soundly but only till 5:00am. Was up, yet very quiet, enjoying the privacy of her own bedroom…. It was a rainy day but she seemed content being at home….. a trip to our local grocery store was our only outing…… Her cousin Chelsea stopped by for breakfast. They were instant friends! Today we went to my hair salon, as I desperately needed a cut. At first she said she didn’t want hers cut, but changed her mind when she met Emily. Out to lunch so Papa could watch the Xavier Muskateers and then to the Crohn Conservatory for a little touch of nature. Friday we went to her school, Sands Montessori, where she met her Principal and her ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher, Mrs. Green, who happens to be Russian. She starts school on April 1st and can’t wait.

Over the past two days she has met Babushka Norma and Florence and Dadushka Marv. Her brother Zach came into town at the last minute, so she was able to meet him as well. Last night, our friends the Bambergers, joined us for pizza and an outdoor fire. She, Abby and Aaron hit it off immediately! We’ll be celebrating Easter on Sunday with my family! Passover will be here soon and then she will have met both clans!

It’s been an incredibly journey and we are both so glad that this part is over…… we missed our home, our country and all of you that that fill our lives with joy. The best is yet to come!!! We look forward to sharing this blog and your comments with her each year on the anniversary of our journey to Bring Angella Home!

Will post again sometime soon,

Till then, Happy Spring!

Pam, Len and Angella

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Day 45 – 49……………………… Rounding Kiev and Heading for Home!!!!!

Well it’s been a roller coaster of highs and lows and a journey like no other. We have spent the last few days with our little Angella in the comforts of our own environment and have found great comfort and connection as we strengthen the bonds of our family unit. She’s an absolute pleasure to be with, has a really great sense of humor and is extremely sensitive and thoughtful. We’ve had some emotional moments, as one would imagine, along with utter joy and happiness.

We found out on Thursday that a mistake was made when the social security office entered Angella’s name into the system. This would most likely delay our departure until Thursday, as it’s the first step in processing her passport. The wind was completely knocked out of our sails….. After three days of stress and anticipation we found out that the passport was making its way for a Saturday arrival, via train, from Kiev. However, the passport agency is closed on Saturdays, so even though Galya worked with our new facilitator in Kiev to “expedite” things – (again) we wouldn’t be able to get it until Monday. Friday afternoon, with a little pleading, a woman Galya knows at the passport agency, offered to come in on Saturday to process Angella’s passport. This gesture of kindness will enable us to make on flight on Tuesday!!!! It was nice to end our experience in Sevastopol on a high note.

So tonight we packed and cleaned our “home away from home” and prepared for the final leg of the journey. Monday in Kiev, will consist of an appointment at the American Embassy and a medical exam. We have changed our flights and are now booked on the 10:00am flight to New York. I can’t wait to land on American soil and see the expression on her face!

We’ve packed games, books, snacks and other little surprises to help us pass the time. Angella seems up for the journey and cannot wait to get home!!! We’re hoping she’s up for a little Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday, but will wait and see how things go……..

Before signing off from our “international location”, I’d like to ask for those of you that haven’t left a comment but have been following along, to please sign in. We’ve been told that we have many “friends of friends” following our journey. It would mean a lot to us, and no doubt to Angella some day, to know who you are and who told you about us. This “electronic journal” as Joann so appropriately coined it, will be a keepsake, no doubt.

We’ll no doubt be very busy once we are home. Doctor appointments, enrolling in school and play dates that we’ve arranged…… but I will post again soon to let you all know how the “transition to home” is going…….

Your comments and emails have made all the difference. We love you all!

Sharing a few quotes that have helped us endure the journey. Enjoy!!!!

If you can’t fight, and you can’t flee, FLOW! Dr. Robert Elliot

Success requires three bones---- a wishbone, a backbone and funny bone. Kobi Yamada

Families are like quilts…… Lives pieced together, stitched with smiles and tears. Colored with memories and bound by God’s love. Unknown

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Day 44…………………………………. Surprise!!!!

What a great day! Our first bit of unexpected good news in 6 weeks. Galya called to say she thought there was a chance our court decree might be ready a day early so we should be ready at 8:45 to head to the court house. After waiting for the judge for 1 ½ hours, sure enough, we had his signature and the race was on.

We made it to every office we needed to get to just before either they closed for lunch or took their mid afternoon break! One step leads to another and she had it perfectly synchronized! We took a break from the paperwork action and headed to the Desky Dom to pick up Angella. She was expecting us for our typical 4-6 visit but thought something was up when we arrived at 3 with all of the gifts she had picked out for the girls in her group and her “mamas”….. We said “suprees” (surprise) and she knew today was the day! She nearly jumped out of her skin! It was a hustle bustle, as we had a 4:00 appointment with the notary and still a stop at the passport office, which closed at 6:00. So gifts were given, good-byes were said and off we went!

6:30 we finally arrived home. Exhausted yet exhilarated! Our process is 90% complete! WOW! It was a neck breaking day but wonderful to get it all done so quickly! We’re just waiting on her passport which if all goes well, will be ready on Friday. We’ll head to Kiev on Sunday and fly home on Tuesday, March 18th for a 7:30pm arrival!

Made our Ukrainian version of Stir Fry! Trying to introduce a little Korean cuisine to test the waters….. She picked at it but really did quite well considering she didn’t know what more than half of the vegetables were…… and had never had soy sauce! Next we suggested a “bubble bath”….. Took a little explanation, again, more gestering and hand motions, but she got it and was very excited! Incense, candles and soft music, the perfect setting for her first bubble bath experience……..