Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Happy Birthday, Ryan!

Well, I am a few days late, but better late than never, right? Ryan, my husband, turned 33 on February 23rd. I did remember on his birthday and we went out for Mexican and then to Ryan's favorite ice cream place, Coldstone. Yum! Yum! I think we got some funny cards this year...
Here are some pics from Vera's first stroll around the mall in her stroller. She isn't the best shopper, but I will work on that! She likes to grab at everything and she would much rather I carry her!
Just to clairify...that is my mom giving her the soda, not me!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It is FINALLY official!!!!

I have been meaning to post this for a couple of weeks, but there was always much more exciting news to post on. Well, after about 6 months of work, I am finally a certified Les Mills Body Step instructor. I knew it would be hard, but didn't realize just how hard it would be!!! The training was very physically challenging, only second to child birth, and I had a hard labor and delivery!! Then, I had to learn an entire hour long routine, teach it to a class and then send in my tape to be critiqued. Well, on the third try I finally felt it was good enough to send in. I finally got my results in January, I didn't pass and I didn't fail. There were a few things I needed to work on like my fitness level and then my general manager had to sign off on me. I knew my fitness level wasn't where some people's were, especially since I had been in Russia for 4 weeks during this process, but geesh I had lost about 10 pounds!! You would think I had to increase my fitness level to do that! So, after a few weeks of going to other classes and working hard to become more fit, my manager signed off on me and I am now a certified Body Step instructor!! It felt so great to accomplish something so difficult. I would have loved to have gotten a Pass on my video, but I am learning that I don't have to be perfect and there is more than one way to accomplish a goal. Getting that sense of accomplishment is something I have missed since becoming a stay at home mom.

If any of you belong to a gym that has Les Mills classes like Body Pump, Body Flow, Body Jam, etc, I highly recommend them. It will be one of the best workouts you have ever had. I just started doing Body Pump again and I can already see a lot more muscle definition in my arms. And, I probably am using the least amount of weight of anyone in the room. If you want to check out what their classes are about, check out www.lesmills.com.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Vera's Dedication...

We had Vera dedicated at church this morning. Everything went really well. Vera and Kiara both behaved well while we were on stage. Kiara said she wanted to come up with us and I just had visions of Russian court where she first didn't want to go in with us and then wanted one of us to stay out with her and then we basically made her come in with us. Then, a lot of the time, I felt like I was telling her to not cry. But, it was nothing like that at all. She stood up there with us like a very good girl. Vera also did well and even waved to the crowd a little! It was very special to have a lot of our family with us. My parents, Ryan's parents, Ryan's younger brother and his family, one of my grandparents and 2 of Ryan's grandparents were all able to join us.

I pray that we are able to bring Vera up to love the Lord with all her heart, soul and mind. It was emotional knowing that just a couple of months ago she was in a Russian orphanage and might not have ever heard about Jesus.

So, once Vera couldn't stay quiet in church any longer me and the girls went out to the foyer. I was able to get a few cute pictures.

I love the last one, they both look so onry!

After church we were able to get a picture with Pastor.
After church was over, everyone came back to our house and my in-laws did a fish fry for us! It was very yummy. It was nice to have a get together at our house because it motivated me to clean my house and to finally get my curtains up! We have lived in our house for close to 4 years and I still didn't have curtains up. Finding window coverings is one of my most dreaded tasks. After returning several, I finally found ones we liked. Well, that was at least 6 months ago and now they are finally up! A big thanks to my parents. Mom ironed nearly all the panels and my dad installed a lot of the hardware. It is soooooo nice to have that done! So, after that was all done there was a lot of dust and sawdust on the floor. So, I dusted my house which hadn't been done in who knows how long. Everything is so clean and the drapes look wonderful.

Vera took a nice long nap when we got home from church, which allowed us all to eat and get lunch cleaned up. Here is how the princess ate her lunch when she got up.
Then, she opened a few presents with some help from her big sister.
We also celebrated some birthdays while we were all together. Ryan's birthday is the 23rd, Ryan's dad's is the 25th, and my dad's is the 28th. So, here are the birthday boys blowing out their candles.Here are a few pictures of family we took. The first is of my mom, grandma (her mom), Kiara, Vera and me. 4 generations.

This is Ryan's parents and grandma with the girls.
This is Ryan's other grandma with Ryan and Vera.Here is Ryan and our only nephew. He is the happiest most smiley kid I have ever known. He just makes me smile when I see him. He is only about a month older than Vera, so it will be fun to watch them grow up together.
It was a busy weekend with getting everything done, but we had a great day today. It was relaxing and nice to just hang out with family. We missed those who couldn't be with us especially Ryan's older brother and his family who live on the East coast and my sister and her family in Arizona. We missed you guys!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day...

I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine's Day. We did here in our household. Mine started a couple of days before Valentine's Day when a package showed up for me with a beautiful box filled with candy and a teddy bear. Ryan and I don't usually do much for Valentine's Day, so it was a great surprise.
Kiara and I spent Thursday and Friday making cookies for her Valentine's party at school. We had fun making sugar cookies and iced cookies. And, they turned out much better than I thought they would! And, I think they must have been good because Kiara got off of the bus on Friday saying she had a tummy ache!

Of course, the girls got spoiled with cards and presents from grandparents, great grandparents and aunts and uncles. We gave the girls some small bags of candy with a movie. Saturday was the best present of all for me. Ryan basically took care of the girls all day so I could relax, get some things done, and get some scrapbooking done! I haven't scrapbooked in months and I miss it so much! Plus, now I have a whole new project to scrapbook now that Vera is home! I did a really nice baby book for Kiara of her first year, so now I am at a loss of what I should do for Vera. If anyone has any ideas, I would love to hear them. I think I will do a book of her first year at home, but am not sure yet how to organize it.

After scrapbooking and Vera was up from her nap, we headed to a pizza place that has become a favorite of ours. They had a Valentine special, a heart shaped pizza, a bottle of sparkling cider, a box of chocolates, and a stuffed animal. Of course, when Kiara heard there was a stuffed animal, we had to get it! Like we need another stuffed animal! Oh, well, it was fun.

Here are a couple of pictures of my beautiful girls...

After the pizza place the plan was to play some games at Chuck E. Cheese's. I don't know if I have ever been there on a weekend night. It was packed, but luckily by the time we got there people seemed to be starting to leave. When we go there we were surprised to see 2 of Kiara's friends. So, Kiara was able to play with her friends and that was nice because that doesn't happen enough these days.

So, we had a great Valentine's Day spending the day together as a family. Unfortunately, Kiara has a runny nose again and doesn't feel well. So, looks like we are going for round 3 in our house! Ugh!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Update...

Well, I think we are all finally well. Some of us still have lingering signs of the cold, but for the most part we are much better.

Vera is still adjusting well. She is almost 16 months old. She is a good sleeper, although her naps have become shorter. Vera has always rocked on all fours and a lot of the time will bang her head into the crib in the process. She does it intentionally and the doctor says she can't hurt herself. It is probably a self soothing technique she learned in the orphanage. I had hoped that it would have diminished some by now, but every time she goes to sleep and gets up there is head banging involved. It can really be alarming if you are sitting in our living room below her room and have never heard it before!

She becomes more active and vocal everyday. She loves to be a part of the conversation. Once in awhile it seems like she might be saying an actual word, but I can't officially say that she has said her first word, yet. She is always on the move and doesn't stay in one place for very long. She loves to open and shut drawers and doors. Kiara never did this, so it keeps me on my toes. The only thing she really likes to watch on TV is Jack's Big Music Show on Noggin. If you ask her where Jack is, she will look anxiously towards the TV. It is fun to see her bop around to the music. She loves music just like her sister, so I think we have a lot of recitals in our future.

She cruises around everything and will use her toy that helps her walk, but other than that she hasn't shown much interest in walking. I just hope she is walking before it gets nice outside, otherwise I better stock up on stain stick for all the green knees. The doctor said she is very strong and has plenty of muscle tone, so now she just has to want to walk.

Vera has probably gained 2 pounds since we brought her home. You can tell in her face and her thighs. They are not sticks anymore! I really thought she would gain weight faster, especially the way she eats. I never did hear for sure how her parasite tests turned out, maybe I need to call and check on that. :) Vera will eat almost anything you put in front of her. She is done with the baby food. For breakfast she eats a big bowl of oatmeal, some Cheerios, and either a diced fruit or applesauce. For lunch and dinner she will eat things like meatloaf, pancakes, green beans, diced carrots, hard boiled eggs, crackers, etc. We can't feed her too much fruit or we have some super nasty diapers. I thought I had that all figured out until I had to chang 3 poopy diapers today!

Kiara is a great big sister. She gets mad at me if I go to get Vera out of her crib without her. She is always asking when we can get Vera up, it is sweet. She does get in Vera's face a bit, but Vera lets her know that she doesn't like it! I think they are becoming closer everyday. Just tonight, Ryan and Kiara were leaving to go to the store and Vera puckered up her lips because she wanted a kiss from Kiara. Melt my heart!
Vera's top eye teeth are both almost all the way in. Those have been pushing through since we got her in Russia. Now, the bottom 2 eye teeth are coming in. Hopefully, that will be all the teeth for awhile.
She has become much better about strangers and people she hasn't been around much. My sister was just here and met her for the first time. Vera warmed right up to her and I was able to leave her with my sister while I went grocery shopping. Ryan's parents were here the other night and she played with them like she had known them her whole life. She even let Pa Pa Duane hold her and I think she made his day if not his week.
Vera's latest tricks are waving bye bye and giving kisses. It is interesting how quick she picks up that when she is going to bed she waves and likes to give kisses. Sometimes she will even pucker up her lips. I wish I could get a picture of that! In the last week I have noticed that she really seems to understand us better. She seems to respond to things we say, even things that we don't repeat all the time, like bye bye.

I think I am still adjusting to having 2 kids and a little one around again. You forget how time consuming it is! Vera has her days when she is extremely needy and nothing seems to make her happy, like yesterday, but for the most part our days go well.
Below is a video I took today. I wanted to capture her laughing and giggling.

video

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Orphanage pictures...

During our first trip to Russia, we left 2 disposable cameras for the orphanage caregivers to take pictures of Vera while we were gone. I was hoping we would get some pictures of her in her environment that she had been in for almost the last year. They didn't take a lot of pictures, but we got some good ones. It is so weird to look at her in these pictures, she doesn't look like the same child to me.

Vera looks just like my sister's baby pictures in the picture above!

So, the cameras weren't finished when they were given back to us, so we let Kiara take some pictures with them and got some pictures like this...
These were a couple of her better shots!

Then, once we got home we had a bunch of friends and their children over because my good friend, Holli, was home from England for a visit. I think 2 little boys got a hold of the cameras that I had left out and took a few pics. Here are a few of them...
I only wish they would have asked me how to use the flash, and we would have had some pretty good pics from our get together! It was so fun to see these pics when I got the cameras developed!

Here are some better pictures from our get together.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Fun times...

We have been having a great time since my sister and Bobby have been here. Bobby went back home on Monday and my sister leaves on Friday. Here are a few pictures from the last few days. I still need to get the pictures my sister has taken. She has taken a lot more and better ones.
Vera warmed right up to Dani and Bobby!
Out for pizza. Yum!

Unfortunately, both my sister and myself have caught the cold that everyone else in the family has already had. Hopefully, she doesn't take it home to her family!