May 21, 2008 - Caelia is 6 years old today!

It's hard to believe that it was 6 years ago today that my Caelia was born. She had Randy wrapped around her little fingers by the time she drew her first breath and her brother the moment that he saw her. She has that effect on people. Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the first months.

May 18, 2008 - Mall of America

We took Caelia to Friends 2B Made at Mall of America on Sunday for her Birthday - I can't believe she's going to be 6 years old on Wednesday! Anyway, there are 2 kinds of dolls that you can make, we chose the Sweetheart Dolls for the girls. Think of this place as kind of a girly-girl Build-A-Bear. The dolls are great soft sculpture dolls that the girls got to stuff. Followed by a little dance with a satin heart that they got to put in their new baby doll. After the doll was all stitched shut you move to these adorable little salon chairs where the girls got to use little hair dryers and plastic curling irons to primp their creations. We had to finally pull them away to pick out new clothes and shoes. It was interesting to see their choices - completely on their own they chose their outfits. Caelia was definitely All-American - tennis shoes, stretch pants and a pretty tunic. Lera's choice was completely Ukrainian - high heeled leopard prints shoes, jeans with sparkles and a bright top with sparkles. The amazing part about this is that they were perfectly matching tops, bottoms and shoes. I don't dress this well. Also, for all you moms with looking for a down syndrome doll - Lera's doll has the famous ds piggies (Caelia's does not) they also have the same shaped hands as my girls.
Caelia adores her new doll and carries it with her everywhere. Lera plays with hers but likes to play with the Kitchen stuff more. The plus side of this is that there is absolutely no arguments about whose doll it is. I would suggest letting your daughter check out the website before visiting the store. It is very exciting and hard to just pick one at the store for them but it was much easier at home, so when the indecision came - I knew which one they had picked away from the bustle of the Mall.

We then went to Underwater World. We love this place as well. We have a family membership and go there frequently but this was our first visit with Lera. The alligators were really surprising. I didn't notice there were 2 in the tank until Grandpa lifted Lera up to see the top better and he came leaping up trying to nip her. I can't say how much I love Plexiglas! I don't know how those of you in Florida can be so nonchalant about this dinosaurs. We only got a few pictures because I forgot to charge the camera before we left. Next time...

We finished off our adventure with a trip to the Rainforest Cafe. Caelia loves this place. It has good food and it is kid friendly ---- unless you don't like thunderstorms. Yes, Mama forgot that Lera is afraid of storms. I feel awful that I forgot. When the first one came through, we had just sat down and it didn't seem to really register with her what it was. The second time she looked uncertain and whimpered a bit and I really hoped we would be gone before it happened again but it was busy and crowded so no such luck. The third time the lightening crashed and it thundered she started crying and trying to hide against me. Fortunately, about the time I was thinking that I needed to get her out of there it stopped but she had had enough. I think she handled the largest Mall in the US like a superstar.

May 19, 2008 - Warm and Sunny

It was a great, picture perfect day. So I snapped a few pictures of the girls playing in the yard. Randy was watering the flowers and the girls helped. The water sprayer is Caelia's favorite.

I also thought I would try uploading a small video. I don't know if any of you have seen Valeria at play, but this shows her just being her. I can't seem to get the volume to work right (so you hear my very loud voice) but she says Mama.

May 12, 2008 - Best Friends

Today was a wonder to watch. Caelia and Valeria are currently best friends - they chose their clothes together and brushed their teeth together and combed their hair. And promptly pulled the ponytail holders out as soon as they were outside. Caelia insists on a cracker for Lera and Lera comes running to get a cup for Caelia. They are both absolute angels - completely happy to play with each other today.I am not so naive as to think that means that I am going to hear a chorus of "Stand by Me" - Caelia's current favorite song and by default, Lera's as well - every time I leave the room. I know that they will be destroying their rooms and running through the house like banshees the moment I sit down at the computer but I hope that these photos will give you a true idea of the joy that we experience each day as a family.

Of course, there is also this picture. I took this of Caelia after she decided that she did not want to play anymore and in fact, didn't want anything to do with us. She locked the screen and the door - with everyone else outside and refused to open it until it looked like everyone was going for a walk except her. And then she graciously opened the door with a big smile and an "I did it - good job"

May 7, 2008 - Storms, Spitting and Nakedness

There are some things to keep in mind when adopting an older child. The first is that they have experiences and fears that you know nothing about. Our Lera is terrified of thunder and lightening. This was a bit of a surprise. Not much seems to phase her in general - she takes new experiences with a quick look at Mama, Daddy, Michael or Caelia and dives right in. Storms upset her very much. She kept saying "Molnya" over and over. Our best translation is that this is "lightening". I wonder what they did during storms in her orphanage? Did she sit by herself or hide under the blankets?

The second thing to remember is that no matter how nice the orphanage is or how helpful the staff is - they don't tell you things like "she's afraid of storms" or "yes, she does suck her thumb" - even when asked. I think they are afraid that it may just be the thing that makes you reject her. Down Syndrome, fine. Heart condition, fine. Mental retardation, fine - but wait! She sucks her thumb?! Sorry, just can't deal with that. I still don't get it.

My newest daughter does have her idiosyncrasies, in case you thought we just adored EVERYTHING about her. The first is that she spits. Don't know why. But she adores spitting - mostly at windows. Michael has started calling her a Llama. Any suggestions or thoughts on why she does this would be greatly appreciated. :)

The other habit that we need to address is nakedness. I walked out on the porch today to discover 2 gigling girls, dancing around on the porch - naked. They had thrown their pretty sundresses and their pull-ups over the porch rail and were having a great time in the wind and the breeze. This is not the first time or even the first time today that this has happened. Warm weather must equate to ditch the clothes as fast as possible!