Thursday, October 30, 2008

Real Life Resumes

Sorry it has been awhile since my last post; three kids are keeping me rather busy!
Things are wonderful (most of the time) around our house these days. HotDog is such a great baby...thank goodness because we had to jump right back into reality as soon as we touched down. When we brought Chipmunk home it was the dead of winter and we were living further away from our families. We hunkered down and really hibernated as a family of three for the first few months. It was wonderful and really allowed us to start a great bond with him. When we brought Monkey home, we did much of the same. It wasn't as easy, as it was right before Christmas. However, we found that it was much easier staying home with a 3-year-old and an active 17-month-old than trying to brave most of the holiday madness.
Unfortunately for HD, with two big brothers and the upcoming holidays our calendar never seems to be empty. In the past two weeks we have had a parent-teacher conference, Monkey's third-and-final post-placement for Russia (woohoo!!), trick-or-treating at the zoo, a baby shower, an evaluation with Monkey's teachers/OT, a pediatrician's visit, our annual pumpkin-carving with Nana and Pops, not to mention the daily trips of picking up Monkey at 11:50 and Chipmunk at 2:30. I really am trying to keep things very low-key for her and am attempting to maintain some semblance of a schedule, but with a 5-almost-6-year-old and a 4-year-old, it makes it challenging. However, she is quite the trooper and very rarely fusses. For the most part, she is a very content, happy-go-lucky child.
We had our first pediatrician's visit last week. It was fantastic. The doctor said she looked "fabulous" and was thrilled at how healthy she is. She had gained almost a pound since the previous week and I'm almost positive she's gained at least a pound since then too. He did give us the okay to go ahead and start her on cereal and baby food. That has made a world of difference. She gets a mid-morning snack in between bottles and then a big meal right before bedtime. Filling up her belly that late has helped the sleep issue tremendously. She usually goes down between 8:00 and 9:00 each night and usually sleeps until about 7:00 each morning. Yeah! She is also taking a couple of naps during the day that last for about 2 hours each.
The only thing that really upsets her is the car seat. She cannot stand it. It is a battle every time we have to put her in it. This has me very worried because we have our big visit to the IA doctor next week and it's about 2 1/2 hours away. I think I'm going to head up the night before and spend the night with one of my best friends. Her house is a little more than halfway up there so at least it will split up the trip into more manageable pieces, for HD and for me. I am still not looking forward to it though I know it is something we have to do.
It is amazing to watch her little personality blossom. She is really a calm and content little girl that loves her thumb and her blanket. As long as she has both of those things, she is great. She loves to be tickled and has a deep belly laugh. She is definitely a momma's girl too (sorry Stu!). She gives me big open-mouthed kisses. If I am in the room, she wants to be in my arms. If other people want to hold her than I need to be out of her eyesight. She loves the mornings and wakes up with the biggest toothless smile on her face. She does not like to lay down and be in a position where she can't watch everything around her; she definitely wants to be part of the action. She loves her exersaucer and her leg strength is amazing. She can already stand up by herself as long as she is holding my hands, the couch, etc. Bringing her home at six months, I thought it would be awhile before we had to worry about her mobility, but the pediatrician thought she would bypass crawling entirely and go straight to just a couple of months. Uh oh. Looks like we need to start baby-proofing again very soon.
The boys are doing great. They absolutely adore HD and I find myself constantly reminding them to take a step back and get out of her face. It's really cute to watch them talk to her and bring her the toys they think she'll like. It's become quite the competition to see who can get her to smile the quickest or whose turn it is to fetch a clean diaper or get the bottle. They are such great helpers. They are acting out a little bit in order to get our attention but we are really trying to make sure that we are spending "big boy" time with each of them. So far, so good. They are super-excited about Halloween, which is followed by Chipmunk's birthday a few weeks later. Also big news around our house is that the Tooth Fairy finally made a visit. Chipmunk has had a loose tooth for several weeks now and he has been working hard at pulling it. Finally on Monday night he pulled it out himself. He was so proud, as were we! Now, of course, Monkey is determined it's his turn to loose a tooth. I'm scared to think of what he may try in order to make that happen. We don't call him our Evil Genius for nothing:)
I'll leave you with a few pictures of my beautiful family. I look at my children (and my wonderful husband) and wonder how in the world I got so lucky. I have certainly be blessed and it's going to be such a happy holiday season for us.

Loving her swing!

A smile before bed

The cutest skunk, farmer and cow ever!

Carving pumpkins with Daddy

My beautiful children

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

So Sweet

This little face just melts my heart.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Okay, so I had a long post written about our trip and our time home so far. Unfortunately my computer kicked me off and I lost the entire thing. So I'm going to make this short and sweet while little one is playing with the Monkey for a few minutes.
Our trip was amazing. I won't say it was a piece of cake but it was much easier than I expected. HotDog is such a good baby. She is a fantastic eater, sleeper (while in Kyrgyzstan, that is), loves to be held and rocked. The only time she fusses is when we can't get her the bottle quick enough. It was great to get quality one-on-one time with her and we made wonderful progress with bonding during our stay. She was a fantastic traveler too. She had one crying fit of about 45 minutes out of the 29 hours we traveled. Of course, she didn't sleep much on the flights - too many things to look at and see. Several of the grandmothers on the flight took pity on me and took turns carrying her around for awhile so I could eat and have a few moments to myself. Having Stu meet us in Memphis for the final leg was a wonderful surprise. I sobbed for a few moments after I saw him - I was so exhausted and it was such a relief to see his face again. It was such a special time for him to have a little while of quiet time with her before we arrived home to the party at the airport (as the Monkey refers to our family greeting us at the airport).
Since we've been home, little HD has been great. Her big brothers absolutely adore her and she is particularly fond of Monkey; anytime he is around she laughs and giggles. It's funny how much she is already part of our family; it feels like she's been with us forever. And she definitely has us all wrapped around her chubby little finger:) The only real issue we are dealing with is her refusal to sleep for more than two hours at a time, even overnight. Her little body is exhausted and she needs to sleep but I think she has the days and nights confused and is just so overstimulated by her new environment.
We have her first pediatrician's visit this morning so I'm hoping to get the okay to start her on food. I think this will fill her up and she might actually sleep for a longer period of time. Eventually she has got to crash...right?!?!
Okay, gotta run and try to get little miss to nap for a little while this afternoon. I'm sure all you want to see is pictures anyway:)

Friday, October 17, 2008

I'm a Happy Guy

So even though it is just a little after 6 AM and me and HotDog have only gotten about 2.5 hours of sleep, I have to admit I'm a happy guy. My girls got home safely last night. Allison is upstairs trying to catch up on her sleep and HD is here on my lap trying to help me type.

Thanks to my mother and father I got to fly down to Memphis to meet them off their plane from Amsterdam. I can't tell you how good it felt to see my wife and hold my baby again. The only downside was that I missed them walking out of the gate since I was watching security do a full cavity search on a 90 year old woman who spoke no English in a wheelchair. Anyway it was great to get to see them and to have a little quiet time to reintroduce myself to my daughter.

Allison said HD is a great little traveler. She had a little bit of stomach issues so she was on her third outfit of the trip. She also puked on me within the first two minutes of me holding her. Great way of saying "good to see you dad". Allison did a great job of handling the solo 29 hour trip. I know I could have never done it.

So when we got to Louisville we had about 20 family and friends there to meet us. They all agreed that HD was the prettiest, smartest, best baby in the world. She handled all the attention great and was in a good mood the entire time. Thanks to everyone that came out to see us.

We got back to our house around midnight. The boys were wound up and HD was playful so we settled in for our first night as a family of five. It was amazing watching the boys just stare at her and give her kisses and they were mesmerized by her. The boys were also very busy giving Allison hugs and kisses. I bet two minutes didn't go by without one of them saying "I'm glad your home mom".

HD seems to really be entertained by the Monkey. He was making faces and doing tricks for her constantly. The funniest part of the night was when after one little cry the Monkey quickly said "i think she wants to go back to Kyrgyzstan". We had to politely tell them that we think she is going to stay.

So finally around 2:00 we gave HD a bottle and let her try out her new swing. She went to sleep pretty quickly (even though it didn't last long). So then I proceeded to tuck in the four best things that have ever happened to me. First the boys went down, then Allison and finally HD. It wasn't easy to lay her down. But I know I will have many more nights of rocking her to sleep since my girls are finally home......


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

All That is Left..... just a little 29 hour trip home. My girls have completed their medical evaluation (HotDog is very healthy) and received all the paperwork at the US Embassy with one minor hitch (they misspelled her name). So around 5 pm EST on Wed. they will start the trip home. They are scheduled to get back here around 10 pm Thursday night. Piece of cake right?

HotDog now weights over 17 lbs. Allison must be feeding her well as she has gained over a pound in just a week since Allison picked her up. I think she is trying to catch up with her cousin Raya.

Allison enjoyed the trip t0 the Embassy. She got to see several other kids preparing to go home. I remember when we went to the Embassy in Russia with the boys and it is a great feeling seeing all the recently united families. It is usually a very positive atmosphere since this is always the last step before traveling home.

I guess that is all the news I have. Me and the boys are still doing good. We miss Allison more than I could have ever imagined. But it's almost over. Now I just got to get the house clean.....


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Brain Dump

So the boys are in bed early since they are heading back to school tomorrow and I've completed almost all the items on the Honey-Do list that Allison left me and I don't want to think about work just yet, so here's a bunch of random stuff.....

The good news is that Allison was able to find some ear drops that have seemed to help. HotDog is back to being a happy, smiling little girl. The even better news is that HotDog feel asleep watching sports on TV. That's a baby going straight after my heart. When they get home now me and her can be asleep on the couch by 8pm. Perfect.

The other day I asked Allison if she wanted me to bring anything to the airport. Her response was Kentucky Fried Chicken. OK, in the 8.5 years that we have been married I think I have seen Allison eat KFC once. And that time we both discussed how we couldn't stand it. Weird.

Another quick story off topic. The other day at a business lunch I was meeting a guy for the first time. Of course we did the mandatory small talk - where you live, where you went to school, etc. When he asked how many kids I had I said "three, ages 5, 4 and 6 months". This isn't the first time I've responded this way, but it is the first time it rolled so easily off my tongue. It's like my mind is finally starting to believe HotDog is here.

OK since this post has been a bunch of nothing I'll keep it going. Here the top 5 things us boys here at home have done that Mom never would have allowed if she had been here....

5) Baths -- Who needs baths? Real men just put on another coat of deodorant and aftershave.

4) Kool-Aid for breakfast -- It's cheaper than milk.

3) Marshmallows -- They are not just for smores anymore. Lunch, snacks, dinner, anytime is a good time for marshmallows.

2) Walking around in our underwear -- Enough said.

1) Swimming -- We went swimming today (Oct. 12) in an unheated outdoor pool. Granted it was about 87 degrees here today. The water was just over 70 degrees. So when the boys get pneumonia, we know who to blame......

So this ends my pointless post. Thanks for listening.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ear Trouble, Soccer & Sausage Casserole

So Allison is running into the first bump in the road of her new motherhood. Our HotDog seems to have gotten an ear infection. She's been pulling on it and is having trouble eating. Both of our boys have had ear tubes so it looks like we might be 3 for 3 in that arena.

The good news is that my girls have received all the paperwork and met all the other requirements that they need in order to travel to Kazakhstan on Monday. From there they will have two days of paperwork and doctor's appointments before they come home on Thursday. It can't come soon enough.

The boys had their last soccer game today. The Monkey got more involved this week than he ever has. He has come along way in his first session. Our Chipmonk continued his work as defensive MVP. He also scored a great goal, but he still gets more excited when he makes a nice defensive play. I have really enjoyed watching them really understand the game better this year.

Finally just a quick thanks to my mother & father (and my grandparents) who have helped me out a ton this past week. The boys spent a few days on the farm and were completely entertained. The best part of when they are down home is that they stay so busy with the cows and tractors and barns that they really don't have time to miss their mom. We all know they can't wait for Allison & HotDog to get here, but at least it isn't in front of their minds.

Also my mother made me my favorite dish on earth. Sausage casserole has about 1,000,000 calories and no telling how many fat grams. When you eat it you can feel the cholesterol building inside your heart. If I'm ever on death row, this will be my final meal. Now obviously my father is concerned for my health since he stole about a quarter of it (without mom noticing).

So keep saying your prayers, my girls have a 4 hour car ride on Monday up to Kazakhstan so we are all hoping the trip is uneventful. We are getting closer.....


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Status Check

Here where everyone currently stands:

HotDog -- Doing great. She slept 12 hours last night. Eating like a champ. Allison said she can do the wormcrawl all the way across the room. I'm afraid she will be crawling soon. She also loves going outside. On the downside she is having some belly issues related to either the new formula or teething (or both). I can't wait until she is home.

Allison -- Doing better. She is finally back to full health. She got out yesterday and did a little souvenir shopping. She is teaching HotDog early how to max out credit cards.

Boo, Huck & CowKitty -- All 3 cats are currently still alive. I think I have remembered to feed them almost every day.

Chipmunk -- Doing great. Our chubby cheeked boy has had a great week. He scored twice in his soccer game Saturday. He had a great time on my folk's farm going for a ride on tractors & combines, feeding the cows and riding his bike about 100 miles.

Monkey -- Doing very well. Our wild man never changes. We had rain for the first time in about two months yesterday and he celebrated by getting 3 sets of clothes muddy.

Me -- Good. I've had tons of help so far and it's been easier than I could have ever thought. I just want my girls home.....


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Gotcha Day

I'm happy to report that Allison picked up HotDog last night. It's been a long day for them but they are doing well. Allison said she already has quite the little personality. She is a very serious child that knows what she wants. She has a great appetite and is a very strong little girl.

I can't express how good it feels to know that my baby is finally where she belongs. It's been a long 2+ years since we started this whole process and it feels so good to be this close to bringing her home. Allison is still a little under the weather so she is trying to catch up on her sleep whenever HotDog sleeps. I'm glad to hear that she is a very good sleeper.

I almost forgot to mention that she is the most beautiful girl in the world.....


Monday, October 6, 2008

Quick Update

Hello everyone, Stuart here. Allison was silly enough to give me the password to her blog so I could update it for everyone. I will try not to make her regret it....

The good news is that Allison got there on time and the flights were uneventful. She has been a little under the weather the last day or two but hopefully that will clear up quickly. She is very impressed so far with the hotel she is staying at. It is difficult to get Internet access so if she isn't replying to emails don't take it personally.

The even better news is that by midnight Tuesday (EST) Allison and HotDog should be reunited. Obviously she is very excited about this and I'm sure I won't sleep well until I hear that my baby girl is safe in her mother's arms.

Also, you may have heard about the earthquake in Kygrystan. It was far away from where Allison and HotDog are so everyone there is fine. She didn't even know it happened until she saw it on the Internet.

And to those of you who have asked about the boys, they are doing great. We had a great soccer game on Saturday and they have had lots of time on the farm since Friday. Many thanks to my Mom and Sister who have been helping out alot.

That's it for now, I'll post again later when I have news.


Friday, October 3, 2008

I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane

I am heading out the door to begin my 30 hours of travel (and after this week, 30 hours of quiet and being by myself sounds wonderful:)
Of course Wednesday I went to take one last picture of the boys and discovered my camera was broken. Thank you so much to my wonderful grandmother who is letting me borrow hers for the trip. I love you Nanny!
Anyway, my bags are packed (and just under the weight limit..yeah!), cameras are ready, paperwork is prepared, boys are at their grandparents house - thank you so much to the incredible Puffy and Papa. The only thing left to do is pick up my chubby-cheeked little girl, which should happen in just under four days.
Thank you to all of my readers for your good wishes and advice on my previous post. My mini-breakdown is over and now I'm just super-excited about getting this show on the road. I know I can handle anything that comes my way and these next couple of weeks will pass quickly. The plane ride back home is the only thing I'm still dreading, but I have my Ergo baby carrier ready. Poor Monkey was my "pretend baby" yesterday for at least an hour as I carried him around in the carrier, just to make sure I was using it correctly and wouldn't drop HotDog on her head:)
I am going to try to post while I'm in Kyrg, but who knows how much access to the Internet I'll have. Plus there are some major energy shortages in country so I know I'll spend at least part of each day without electricity. I've given Stu instructions on how to update the blog in case I'm unable so I hope that one way or another, I'll be able to share my adventures with you.
Big hugs to all of my friends and family. I'm outta here!!!!