Monday, December 19, 2011

Week one

We've been home a whole week now, and Louba and the others are doing great. It's been a huge learning adventure for us. Yes, we have two other kids, but having one that doesn't speak your language, or really understand it is a bit of a challenge. But, we're working through it. She so funny. She'll do anything for a laugh. She absoulutely loves her brother and sister and asks for them if they aren't around. Overall, we've had a great week home. I can't wait to see how she changes as she learns more English, and gets into a better routine.

Some things she says and does:
"Be nice!" while pointing her finger at you.
"whoa Melly!" for anything, but especially when she falls down.
"Ups please"
"Come here."
She calls John David, Brat and Julianne, sistra or Jules. Emma is Yemma.
She loves to ride in the "machine-a"
It only takes about 10-15 minutes to get her to bed. She cries hard, but sleeps all night in her own room, by herself.
She is a drama queen. She can turn on the tears like a faucet and turn them off just as fast.
She loves to be tickled, and will ask you to tickle her.
She loves bananas, biscuits, pizza, cookies, apples, juice, pickles, and cole slaw.
She knows that she is cute and loves having her picture made.
Time outs seem to work (at least right now). We've only had a couple a day.
she's potty trained and will tell you when she needs to go. We still have accidents at night, but none during the day.
Upstairs in our house is her favorite and only asks her "Pappa" to go. She never asks me.
She loves to sing and talk (ALL. OF. THE. TIME).
She can name all her facial features in English.
She can count to five in English.
She gets upset if she can't do something and usually has a small tantrum.
she can dress herself.
I've gotten an "I love you" a couple of times.

She'll climb on anything.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The End of One Journey and the Beginning of Another

Day Four:
Embassay visit. We were able to get in and out of the embassay in about an hour. All we had to do was pay the cashier, listen to instructions from one of the officers (who is American), and answer a couple questions (is this your child? Will you take your child to the doctor?). That was it. We received all her paperwork and were on our way to the Russian Consulate. We made it with about 10 minutes to spare before they locked the doors for business that day.

We were also given a private tour by our wonderful facilitator Boris. He showed us all the historical sites and stopped for us to take a couple pictures out the car window. We also made a stop at Red Square and had our pictures made there with Louba. (their on the phone and I'll update later).

We found a McDonalds at the mall about a 10 minute walk from our hotel. Thinking Louba might like McDonalds. She's eaten nothing on this trip besides some bananas, apples, and cereal bars. All she wants to drink in juice. I hope that once we're home things will balance out and she'll start eating again. No luck on the Mickey D's.

Day Five: We had nothing to do today. We stayed in the room part of the day, and finally ventured out to the mall for a late lunch/early supper at, of all places, TGIFridays. If it's an American restaurant here, it tastes just like it does at home.

Louba has been a joy (except at bedtime). She yells at everyone and wants them to talk to her. She talks non-stop.

Day six: I woke up about 2:00 this morning and haven't been able to go back to sleep (it's 7 now). We're waiting to go have breakfast and then on to the airport for our flight home. Finally, after almost 13 months, we'll be home with our girl.

Thanks to everyone who has helped us on this journey. Everything from prayers, to lunch, to a couple new tires have helped get us here. We can never repay all of you for all of your selfless generosity over the past year. We look forward to what the coming years hold for our family of five!!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Trip four! Day One, Two, and Three

We made it back to R on Monday. Day one was spent in several different airports to get here, and after almost 24 hours, we made it to the hotel in Louba's region.

Day Two December 6th, 2011 "Gottcha Day" or "Louba's Day":
We went to the passport agency around 10:30 to pick up Louba's red passport so that we can finally begin to take her home. It was actually ready to go and we were in and out in no time. Then, on to the adoption center to sign our name to take her off the registery for adoptable kids (why this wasn't done in February on our first visit, I'm not sure). Next, we made the hour drive to her city "G-K" to pick her up. She was ready to go. The baby home wanted some pictures of the three of us, but I han't printed any to give them. Luckily, I was able to log-on to our shutterfly account and e-mail them to them. I'm planning to get together a book to send them when we get home. The lady who visited the baby home and fell in love with Louba gave her a necklace to remember "R." It's going in her jewelry box til she's a little older. We changed her into too many clothes, but they thought it was needed. Of course, we didn't have any boots, and had to go buy her some at the local "mall." Malls/shopping centers here, remind me of flea markets back home. Just very different.

We drove back to Moscow and Louba colored the whole time. I was hoping for some sleep, but that didnt' happen until we were about an hour away from the Moscow hotel. No tears, a pretty uneventful day. She didn't want to eat anything but bread, and we had some bananas that she loved.

I just knew we would have trouble at bedtime, but she went to bed without any fighting. We have a baby bed in our room for her. Eric had brought her a bear, and she has held tight to it for the past two days.

Day Three: Dr. Appointment
Again, I think was a joke really. He checked her flexibility, her ears, rubbed her belly and said she's healthy. That's it. I've already made her appointment for when we return.

She talks ALL THE TIME. Of course, we don't understand a word, but she thinks we do. Daddy is still Pappa. She was able to skype with the family this morning, and just laughed at her new brother and sister. She called everyone by name (Nana, Mimi, bubba). She kept calling Shauna, Momma on the computer.

The past three days have been wonderful. I know her time of grieving is coming, but I'm enjoying the fun, lovable Louba right now. I'm sure we'll get tears when we get on the plane in a few days.

Our journey is not over, it's just beginning. Here are a couple pictures from the past couple of days.

Trip Three

ERic made his way back to R about two weeks after our court date to apply for Louba's passport. We could have both come and stayed three weeks and taken her back, but we couldn't leave our kids at home for three weeks straight. So, what we thought was a three trip process, has turned into a four trip journey.

Monday, November 7, 2011

This weeks dinner...

We are actually at home this week so that means I get to cook! I love to cook, but hate coming up with stuff to cook-thank you pinterest for coming to the rescue. It seems that we have the same things over and over when I'm meal planning, but recently I've found some new things to try. Of course we'll still have some old standbys.

Sunday: publix was cooking pork chops when we went shopping. Pork chops, green beans, and cheesy potatoes

Monday: chicken roll-ups, but made like a casserole, green bean casserole, rolls

Tuesday: tacos

Wednesday or Thursday: Nana's one night and spaghetti the other

Friday: ?

Friday, October 21, 2011

She's ours!!

Court only lasted about an hour and a half today, and we were granted custody of our girl! Now the fun begins. We wait 10 days for the approval to be contested; which makes it November 7th. Eric will fly to R then for a couple days to apply for her passport. Then he'll fly back home while we wait for her passport to be processed, which takes about two weeks. We'll both fly back sometime around November 21st to get her and complete the Embassay appointments, medical exams for her, and visa application. We'll be back home around Thanksgiving. We decided that it will be best for our family not to be away from them for three-four weeks. What a wonderful early Christmas present.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Personality is an understatement for sure!!Today we went back to the orphanage in the afternoon. Since it was warmer, we were able to play outside for about 30-40 mins. Vita had to go to some office about giving them our paperwork tomorrow or Thursday since the chief medical doctor was on vacation. That meant we were alone with Lyubov! Oh. My. Word. Just a little taste of what it's like to not understand a three year old speaking Russian. All three of us mostly pointed, but we had fun. We sat and swung for a while (she wouldn't let dad swing with us). She started a game of sticking her tongue out at Eric. We had a little bit of pinching and pushing, but nothing a normal three year old wouldn't do. We'll work on it when we get home.

Then, Eric found a block they could use for catch. Every time she would throw it, she would make the funniest face and SCREAM!!!! At the top of her lungs. Every time.we played on the see-saw for a while and then it was getting too cold to stay outside.

In the playroom, she knew I had my bag and wanted to color-with dad. I have been delegated to crayon holder only. When 5:00 rolled around she told the staff she wasn't going upstairs. She was determined to stay downstairs with us. We promised to go back tomorrow to watch her perform in her class program. By the way, I'm pretty excited to see this "performance" tomorrow. Well definitely have our video camera for that one.

Medicals, day two

This morning, I woke up about 4 after getting some pretty good sleep. We headed downstairs to our sausage aka hot dog breakfast. We were meeting Vita, our translator, at 9 for our last doctor visit. Once get get to the crowded medical building, we wait. Vita quietly talks to one of the nurses, or at least I think that's what they are, and she goes into the doctors office and emerges with our final signature. Difficult appointment huh? She had a few things she had to do so they dropped us back at the hotel. Eric and I both crashed and took a two and half hour nap. We're now waiting on her to go see Lyubov and get another signature from our blood test yesterday. Pretty sure robotics sleeping won't go as planned. May need a little help falling asleep. We think we can upload videos if we go to the lobby-may have to try that tonight.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Miss Personality

Day Two in "R" was a trip for Medicals and the best part, Miss Personality, Lyubov. We were able to sit down with the director for a few minutes to talk about how she had been over the past few months. We saw pictures of her from the summer with her friends, and the lady who we thought was going to try and adopt her. It was a misunderstanding. She said that if we didn't want her, then she would start the paperwork, not that she had already!! She's grown and changed so much over the past several months. Her hair is longer (yeah! they didnt' cut it), she's talking more and much clearer. We took some sparlky shoes and she immediatly had to have them on, her favorite puzzle from last time; she was much faster with it this time. Her microphone, her telephone, and some coloring books. Only "papa" could color with her, because I was busy holding the colors. She has become quite the sassy little miss too. She fussed at Eric because he wasn't coloring the flowers as carefully as he should. She did give out hugs and kisses this time. But, made sure to ask our translator if Papa would bite her!!!


Today was the day for Medicals here in country. We had these done in Mosc... in February, but they expired every three months, so we had to do them again. This time, we're having them done in region because they are a few hundred dollars cheaper.

We set out at 9:00 to get started seeing the 7 or 8 specialist we have to sign and stamp a paper. By 12 we're already back in our room only needing to get two stamps tomorrow. I'm pretty sure our translator could have completed them without us even being here. Most of them we didn't even see! Pretty sure we would have gotten the same effect if we tossed $20 bills out the window driving down medical center parkway back home.

We meet our translator again at 2 to go see Lyubov. A couple hours to hang out and surf the net.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Court trip day 1

We've made back to "R" after almost 24 hours of traveling! Getting here was pretty uneventful. We did have to race to our connecting flight in DC. When we landed there, we only had about an hour to get from gate A to gate C. If you know DC, you know it's huge. We got to the gate just as they were starting to board. One cool thing, Michael Phelps was on our plane. We didnt see him until we were at passport control and Eric wouldn't get the camera out so we could prove we saw him. He was the only swim team member carrying a Louis Bouton bag instead of the team backpack (and he had on his Calvin klein's.

When we got off the plane, we didn't see our translator. Finally, after about 20 mins of waiting, I spotted her and we got in the car to make the almost three hour trip to Lyubov's region. I slept most of the way, because car rides here are scary!

We're staying at the same hotel as last time. It's about $100 a night, but it has breakfast, free Internet, an English menu, and it's close to a shopping mall. We could probably stay somewhere cheaper, but it wouldn't have Internet and we need that to survive the week. Again it's sweltering in here and we've had to open the window to cool it off. It's not too cold outside-maybe in the 30s? At least it was a nice walk to the mall.

When we got in, we were both exhausted. So, we took a couple hours to nap before heading to the mall for our sbarro's pizza. Yes, were in R and eating sbarros. We'll eat in the hotel restaurant one or two nights, so we'll get our R fare.

Tomorrow, we head into town to start our Medicals, get some documents notarized, and see Lyubov in the afternoon.

Now to watch the ONLY channel in English-a music channel like MTV used to be.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Almost Time

I should be finishing some of our Embassy paperwork, grading papers, getting my sub folder ready, but I needed a quick break. We board the plane around noon tomorrow and end up on the other side of the world about 12 hours later (afternoon R time). I'm sure I'll be exhausted, but I plan on staying up extra late tonight so that I can sleep on the plane tomorrow (and to pack, clean, and get ready for a week away from home). Right now, we're not expecting to bring her home on this visit, but we know God also has the plan that counts. What a great surprise it would be if the judge granted us custody immediately!! I'm sure my nerves will get the best of me when we get on the bus to head to her region. I haven't broken down yet, but, I haven't had time either. Of all weeks for us to travel--2nd observation for me with the new TN teacher evaluation series, week after being on vacation, grades are due for report cards, the house is a wreck. Luckily, Eric's mom is coming. At least the house will look good when I get home and there won't be any laundry! She always cleans when she stays. I couldn't ask for a better mother-in-law. I hate that we're missing Jules last two ballgames, but I think she'll have tournaments when we return. JD is missing the fall festival, because of his sister's ballgames. sorry bud.

We're ready!!!(I think).

Friday, September 30, 2011


What a great week this has been! We received our court appointment today for October 21st. We'll travel to Vlad for a visit with Lyubov, new medicals, and then court. Right now, I'm not too nervous. I'm sure that week my nerves will be crazy bad. I'm excited to see our daughter again and be one step closer to her joining our family permanently.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Court...Kind of

We received an email from Judy/Vita yesterday asking how soon could we get travel arangements and visas for court!! We should have a date soon. The earliest we will travel will be in about three weeks, but depending on the court docket, it could be longer.

What's next?
1. We get a court date!!
2. Apply for Visas and make travel arrangements.
3. Get to Vlad., see our daughter, have new "R" medicals compelted in country
4. Go to court
5. Come home for 10 days (unless they waive the wait).
6. Go back and get our girl.
If we travel on the date we hope, we'll have our girl home by Thanksgiving!!!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

40 bags

I saw this on Pinterest and have put it away until today--I'm very stressed today and feel like I can't accomplish anything because I have so much to accomplish. I'm surprised I'm even blogging about it because my list could be 100 bags in 40 days. It seems like we are running from one place to another without a breathe between them. I'm overwhelmed to say the least. So, here's my list:
1. closet (my stuff)
2. closet (Eric's stuff)
3. Kitchen drawers
4. kitchen cabinets
5. Refrigerator
6. spice cabinet
7. computer desk
8. dresser (mine)
9. dresser (eric's)
10. fabric/sewing closet
11. bathroom closet
12. bathroom vanity (mine)
13. bathroom vanity (Eric's)
14. Kid's bathroom
15. Jules closet
16. Jules drawers
17. Jules toys
18. JD closet
19. JD drawers
20. JD toys
21. hall closet (linens)
22. hall closet (coat)
23. van
24. jeep
25. Lyubov Jane's room
26. garage (trash)
27. garage (recycling)
28. garage (stuff)
29. pantry
30. laundry cabinet
31. linen cabinet in dining room
32. nightstand
33. office stuff in upstairs closet
34. upstairs entertainment center
35. Jules toybox
36. Christmas and holiday storage
37. attic (right side)
38. attic (left side)
39. backyard
40. laundry room storage

After looking at my list, I was able to mark two things off. Things I've done, but just haven't carted the bag out of the house. (just did it today! 9/4/11).

I also saw another thing on Pinterest today about having a donate/give-away box where everyone has to put 5 things in it everyday. May try to tackle that one this week too (or at least this weekend). Maybe once I get organized, I'll not be as stressed about everything.

Monday, August 15, 2011


I'm frustrated. I'm frustrated that I have no control over when I get to bring my daughter home. I'm frustrated because I've tried to be positive about this whole situation. I'm frustrated because I need to be strong about this because there is a reason for this stupid delay. I've tried really hard to give it all to HIM. And, I think I've done well, until today. I just want to cry. no, to bawl. to scream at someone "WHY CAN I NOT HAVE MY KID!!!!" That. is. all.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A new hobby...

Jules decided she wanted to try something new this fall instead of dance. It didn't hurt that Eric offered her $20.00 to try softball. Today was her very first softball practice, and she LOVED it. As much as it hurts me to hear her say she liked softball more than dance, I'm glad she found something else she liked to do. I want her to try other things as well. I don't want her to just do something, because that's always what she's done. The other night, he asked her, "Jules, I know I kinda made you play softball." Her reply, "Dad, you didn't kinda make me, you MADE me."

On the way to the car after practice, "Mom, can we get a new softball bag?" How can you say no to that sweetness.

In the dugout waiting for her turn to bat...

Softball ready at 2nd (bad camera phone picture):

Monday, July 18, 2011

Family Game Night

After a weekend of no baseball, we worked on things around the house: cleaning on the garage, trashing some of the old lattice around the deck, new trim, paint, general cleaning of the house. Last night, both kids wanted to play some games so we pulled out Left, Right, Center and The Ladybug game. It's funny how 30 minutes of just being silly will make your kids smile and not argue with one another. We had a great time. It's a shame we don't do this more often. Eric and I both agreeded that we would make an effort to play more with the kids. The other stuff can wait, them growing up doesn't.

Our house before

We've been working on small things in our home since we bought it in 2006. We loved the location, the yard, and the size of the house, but it was UGLY!!! We've painted almost everything in site, put new carpet in two of the rooms and just took some of the ugly away. This weekend, we put new trim in the living room and hallway and it looks so much better. As soon as I get pictures taken, I'll upload the afters.

Click here to view these pictures larger

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Life Verses?

So many of my friends have life verses for their families and for their children. I don't. I have verses that help me through things I'm going through, but nothing that is MY verse. I did find this translation and instantly was drawn to it. It says everything: "Become all that God intended you to be. Love Him. Love people. Love the life you've been given." matthew 22: 36-39. So, if I were to choose one verse, I think this one might be it.

But, I know when I'm running and struggling that last leg, I continually quote Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things..." We have James 1:27 hanging on our living room wall in support of our daughter in EE and the sons and daughters of our friends who have been born in other places of the world.

I want my kids to love the Word and find comfort and support in all of it, not just one verse. To my friends who have chosen verses for their families, maybe I'm just a little jealous that I can't narrow it down to one. Maybe I'm just scared of commitment of one verse.

Do you have a life verse? Do your children? Do you have a family verse?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Today I Write

Eric's cousin Andrea lost her battle with cancer this weekend. I met Andrea when Eric and I were still dating, and although I only spent a few days with her over the past 12 years, I knew she was an amazing woman. One I looked up too. I remeber spending Christmases together just talking about our kids and how she was doing with treatment and her speaking engagements. She truly was an inspiration. I was reading her "journal" on caring bridges the other day, and Matt, her husband had posted something that Caroline, her oldest, said the day she passed. As they were reading through her journal she wrote in, not her on-line on, Caroline said "I am so thankful mom has left us this treasure." WOW!!! I feel terrible that I haven't left that legacy for my own children. What if I was gone tomorrow? Would they know the things I found funny or interesting? Whould they know the things I really loved and the things I was scared of? My goal is to write more for my kids. To record the things that make me smile or cry or jump up and down. Some may be here on this blog, some may be in a new journal. But I do want to leave them a "treasure."

Thank you Andrea and Matt and kids for sharing Andrea and your journey with us. She will be missed by so many, but her lessons she has taught us, whether she realized it or not, will live on.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A mini day-cation

Eric works a lot. Now, he does take a day here and there to work from home or on the road, but it's very seldom that he just takes a day off. We were invited to go to holiday world with our best friends in the world and just couldn't pass up a little vacay from everything. A day to forget about the messy rooms at home, all the adoption stuff we have no control over, and everything else that's just happening in our lives.

We loaded up early and headed to Santa Claus, Indiana for our trip to Holiday World, or as I like to call it, boost-your-self-esteem world. if you have never been to Holiday World, it's so much fun. Even our kids, who are not thrill seekers enjoy their time there. We stayed in the Splashing Safari side of the park because it was in the high 90s all day with intense humidity. HW is a great place to people watch too. I'm pretty sure some folks don't have mirrors or friends to be honest to them about their choice of body art and swimsuit styles for their body type. Now, I am in no way skinny, and I'm not going to post pics of me in my swimsuit, but people, please cover up. It's a family park!

JD had most of his ball playing buddies along and hung out with them most of the day playing on some of the tamer slides, the lazy river, and the wave pool. Jules and Em spent the day with me in the kids slides (they have two different kids areas aside from the baby area), lazy river, and wave pool.

I told Eric on the way home yesterday I really enjoyed the day together. We NEVER take a day and do things like this. I told him I want to be more intentional with our time together with the kids. We're always shuttling to one activity or another and are just never really together with the kids. My goal is to take these little day-cations every other month or so with our regular family vacation in the fall(which by the way I can't wait for!) so now I'm on the search for some inexspensive family fun for the Elliott family.
All in all, we had an amazing time! We drove up, spent the day, and drove home. What a great break from everything.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Camera Straps

 I've made a few camera straps and I'm loving how they are turning out. The blue one is my personal one and the orange and pink one is going to a new University of TN student for her new camera. I used The Cottage Home tutorial to make both of them and her directions are amazingly clear and super easy to follow. I've got a few more to make for some more special folks. I'll update the pictures here when I get them finished.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Happy Birthday, Firecracker


John David turned nine! Our last year in single digits. He came in with the firecrackers nine years ago today--after 36 hours of labor. But, it wasn't bad. They induced and I laid there for most of it. I pushed for two hours before they decided I needed a C-section. What a wonderful nine years it's been. A few great things about my Johnny D:
*He eats, sleeps and breathes baseball. He's been playing since he was three. For the past three years, he's played on a local travel team. This year, they are awesome--winning most of the tournaments they've played in.
*He loves electronics. Video games, his DSxl, his new ipod touch (he saved and paid for half of it, the other was his birthday present.
*He doesn't love school, and that breaks my heart because I love it so much. He HATES spelling, but does enjoy History and Math.
*He's spending his first week away at camp this year. I really didn't like not being able to see him on his birthday. But, he's having so much fun at camp.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sweet Summertime

Pinwheel hair clip

I love quick and easy crafts and projects. This was one I saw on another blog that was a give-away and searched until I found a tutorial here. Oh. my. goodness. How cute are these? Jules needed one and I whipped it up in about 10 minutes. I used the machine and did a quick zig-zag over the points that joined in the center (I HATE hand sewing). I still have to fine the glue gun and finish it up, but check out how cute it is. I'm sure I'll make a few more this week. Again, sorry for the terrible picture. It's from my phone because that's the quickest to get them on the computer.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

June 2011

This month has been so busy; I don't know where it's all gone.

This week alone, I took the kids bowling (for FREE). We're heading back Thurday for two more free games of bowling. All we have to pay is the $1.00 shoe rental fee. If you haven't signed up, you can get free bowling for the kids all summer long all over the US at Eric and I signed up to for $24.00 we get to bowl with them, and we scored $24.00 in coupons.
Today, we tie dyed shirts out front. The ground was still a little wet from the storms last night, but I think they had a good time. I'll post the finished product when they are washed and worn. I lucked up and scored this $30 kit for only $3.00 at Joann's clearance section a few weeks back.

We've also been super busy with baseball. JD has a tournament almost EVERY weekend. So, we spend all weekend at the ball park Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. But, there's nothing I'd rather do than watch the boy play some ball.
We're still waiting on a court date. We found out today that our home study agency is on the "R" black list and the court won't accept our homestudy. The agency director is trying to find out what the problem is and get it fixed. If she can't get it fixed, we'll need another home study, which could take three-four more months. We know that this is just a bump. It really hasn't put us "behind"; we're truly ahead of the game. We're about 8 months in, and we were told when we started that it could take over a year to finish the adoption. Now, I would LOVe to be in the "R" country in July, but if it's not in God's plan, then we won't be. I know we will get our girl home in His time. I have faith in that. She will be home when she's supposed to be home and not a day sooner. It's just hard. You have a date in mind, and it comes and goes, and then you hit these bumps. We'll get her home.

Right now, I'm just focusing on the kids at home and enjoying my summer with them. I'm gearing up for the new year. I'll be teaching two blocks of Reading/Language Arts/Writing and one section of Reading. I'm looking for information on block scheduling so I'll be prepared and ready for those 90+ minute classes and controling 25+ 8th graders. I'm super excited about this new schedule. I love writing and teaching writing. I know these blog post aren't super well written. I usually just type as I type without any revision or real thought into what I write. It's all just off the cuff writing, my sloppy copy. :)

I've done a ton of sewing this month. I've monogramed some things for a friend, made a couple baby gifts, sewn Jules a couple outfits and made bunches of doll clothes for Emma and Julianne's dolls. Next up is a matching outfit for Jules and Lyubov and a couple pairs of shorts for JD.