End of the year...already? Part one

Yes, it is already approaching the end of this very busy year. From most recent to
September. Yes, I am neglecting my blog that much!

Masha had eye surgery today(bilateral strabismus repair). This will correct her crossed eyes and her superior oblique palsey (the thing that causes her to tip her head to the side because she sees things at a slant). This is a very necessary operation that we are hoping will help her balance and ability to walk and stop the changes to her face caused by continually tipping her head.

I am always nervous when it comes to surgery but Masha was a little trooper. She was all smiles this morning although she was up really early. We use Minneapolis Children's Hospital for the kids. They are wonderful with the kids(and pretty nice to nervous parents too). The only time she seemed a bit afraid was in the operating room, but she didn't cry because Mom and Dad were right there with her. About two hours later they brought my Masha-bug back looking like she had just been in a fight. Her little eyes were determinedly kept closed and she is still fussy even this evening but she is eating and playing after sleeping most of the day. I haven't gotten any pictures of her post surgery yet, she is not feeling much like posing right now.

We had a lovely Christmas and Christmas Eve. We had lots of relatives and friends over to our house on Christmas Eve and the kids eventually were convinced to go to bed so that Santa would come. They had a very happy Christmas.
This is Caelia's Dr Who sleep shirt that she has decided must be worn to Christmas dinner as well as bed.
Valeria got this outfit. The skirt she has been begging for since October and a faux spotted fur jacket. I guess you can take the girl out of Ukraine but you can't take the Ukraine out of the girl. She is our fashionista.
Masha scores a dollhouse of her very own!

We have been hoping to hear some news about our adoption but we are still waiting. Our dossier is ready to be registered and we are waiting to hear from the USCIS. Perhaps we will get a travel date in February. Our adoption would not be complete without tromping through lots of snow and ice and freezing our backsides off. Whatever. I don't care about the weather as long as I get to meet our newest daughter.

Facebook is evil. Well, actually it makes me lazy. I don't have to blog about stuff when Randy posts on Facebook. He always has the newest and greatest photos so I feel like I am parroting him at least a day behind when I do blog. This however is very rewarding. I get an evening of looking back on the wonderful year we have had, just in case I forget what a wonderful family we have.

School has been going very well for all of the kids. Michael is doing okay in school (mostly lack of motivation slowing him down) but is doing very well in his private lessons with his dad. They are both studying Russian. They are taunting me with their skills.
Caelia read her first complete book all on her own. Her teachers called to tell me. Her para told me they were all cheering and shed a few tears because of how far she has come. She is also copying her name. She can write some of the letters without looking but CAELIA is not the easiest name. I think her brand new glasses have helped a lot. She won't wear them at home but she wears them at school. Valeria is struggling with academics but has learned to ride a bicycle with training wheels! I think she is excelling in her adaptive phy-ed because she LOVES Mr. Ricky. She is very social and a bit of the class clown. She is also a terrible flirt. She ignors visitors coming to the house UNLESS it is Ron's son Tyler. She comes running to see Ron's sons. An odd mixture of adoration and a desire to beat them up with a light saber. She is our little pink barbarian.

And finally, Masha. Masha can now recognize her name when she sees it. She sorts her colors and shapes most of the time and she is almost completely potty trained. We are going to switch to big girl underwear when she has recovered from her operation. She does have some issues with her hips. Her orthopedist thinks she may be dislocating her hips but regular x-rays show them where they should be even though her hips are shaped uniquely.

Back to school!

Caelia and Valeria were less than excited. They were happier once they saw their Miss Camilla. All summer I heard about KWI. They really love her. She is the girls' favorite para. We are very blessed by all of the staff at Fraser Academy. Everyone on staff is amazing and they adore the girls.

The pictures were not taken on the same day because the big girls started back August 1st. Masha went back on the 31st and finally, today, Michael went back to school. Sorry, no pictures of the boy. Masha is smilier in the morning anyway.
She was delighted to be going back to school. She really missed her friends from school.

A busy time of year

Masha has completed her first year of school! Actually, she had her graduation party in June, she has not graduated from preschool yet (she still has one more year) but she shined and was so proud! Unfortunately she was so excited we had a hard time keeping her in focus!

We also discovered that she is quite the star in the making. Caelia and Lera had their spring concert. Randy, Masha and I went to watch them. Lera really enjoys this but Caelia gets really shy standing up on stage. Her helper at school suggested that maybe Caelia would like to take Masha with her up on stage. Caelia liked this and anything Caelia wants is good with Masha. She made herself quite at home with the rest of the 2nd grade class and was charming to all. She even danced (though she hadn't practiced). Since that day, anytime Masha has visited or I have visited without her, all of the children ask where she is or come running up to say hi! The big girls are equally proud to show off their little sister. I wish I could get the video to load. Perhaps another time. Masha did not go to the Science Museum with the big girls. Randy got to go as a chaperone with them to school. They had lots of fun!

Spring Fever

Yes, it is spring in Minnesota. Randy and I long for it. It has been a very long winter here. I've forgotten what number we are in the record books but let's just say it was one of the snowiest ones on record. We finally have a 70 degree day and then, well, it snowed last night. The snow doesn't stay but we are still wearing our winter coats. We still are not wearing sandals and today, gloves are required for being outside. I tell you this not so that you feel sorry for us but so that you understand the reality of our springtime. We are tired of playing in the cold and wet snow. Now, a new ottoman in the living room means a new sport for the kids. How many can fit and then STAY on the ottoman? Can you eat ice cream and not end up with brain freeze in 20 degree weather? Trips to the Mall of America just for some exercise -- yes, I let the girls run like crazy there. Yes, we are tired of winter and some of us more so than others! Our reality is not Caelia's reality and Lera and Masha are her willing subjects. So this is Caelia's "it's spring already - let's party!" dance. Maybe it will bring us some sunshine and warm weather. Maybe summer dresses and bubbles are just what we all need.

April 10th...One year in....

Wow, it's hard to believe it has been one year since we got Masha home! A lot has happened in that year and she has grown so much and learned so much. We've had our ups and downs and are still getting accustomed to having a smaller girl, she wants so much to do everything her big sisters do and more and gets easily frustrated by not being capable of keeping up with them.

We recently had her IEP meeting with her preschool teacher and were blown away at how well she is doing in class. Everyone loves her in school and the children all try to play with her. She has also made a lot of progress with her lessons and skill building, patiently following the teachers lead and trying her best to complete the tasks. She loves getting ready for the bus every morning and gets very upset on Monday's when she doesn't have school and the big girls do.

Masha has pretty much abandoned her use of Russian, but still answers "Da" when I ask her if she wants to fly! We affectionately refer to as the bomb-omb from the Mario Bros. video game, you set her down and let her go and she runs like crazy until she breaks something! She has a lot of energy and enthusiasm and can be the sweetest little girl, I love it when you sneeze or cough and she asks "OK?". I think the whole family agrees the two years it took to get her home was worth it...well most of the time anyway...Lera and Caelia are not very fond of Masha's singing...I think its adorable and she will do it on demand when prompted, she really gives it her all and has a lot of enthusiasm, judge for yourself:

And the winner is...

The complete list of winners is located here. Thanks to all of you who entered and donated to help Angelina come home!

An update on our progress:

Next week we are submitting our application and fees to begin our official home study. We are almost finished collecting the documents required for our dossier. We have been through this before and know what needs to be gotten. Actually, it needs to be RE-gotten because if a notary is close to expiring, Russia does not accept it or if the document was certified longer than a year ago they also won't accept it. Who knew marriage certificates expired? It is our goal to move this along as quickly as we can.

The kids are on spring break. Actually, Michael was on spring break for a week, then Masha was on for a week and next week our big girls get their spring break. Then mama and daddy get a break! Looks like daddy is going to need it most. Since we live in Minnesota and are up to our butts in snow, the girls have been inside a lot (rounds of colds and sniffles) and daddy has become their playground equipment.

but hey, it beats getting in front of Caelia and her Wii boxing!

A Birthday and Christmas!!

On December 23rd our Masha turned 4 years old. It's hard to believe it was almost exactly one years since our first trip to Moscow to get her right before her 3rd birthday, we are so glad to have her home and to be able to celebrate her birthdays with a family. She of course loved the cake and the singing that went along with it.

We ended up celebrating her birthday on Christmas since the whole family was over. The kids all had a great christmas....it's official our kids are just way to spoiled, we tried not to go overboard with gifts, but it seemed like everywhere we turned we found something they would love. The best part of course is Christmas morning after Santa Claus came, they managed to sleep in a bit so Mom and Dad were happy. The only bummer for me was losing our digital camera so I could only get a few shots with my phone so the pics didn't turn out as good as I hoped. Although the trip to visit Santa Claus pics turned out really good!

I had to throw in this last picture, it's the snowsuit Masha wears to school everyday. Alexey bought it for her before we left Russia, it's super cute and keeps her toasty warm.

Lots going on.....

We've had a busy last few months and the blog has been long neglected, so I am going to help Sheila out and put up a few posts. We got the kids school photos back a few months ago and think they all turned out great!!

Our first baby Michael is starting to look like a man, it's scary sometimes to realize he is quickly approaching adulthood. Caelia and Lera have both done awesome in school and are making a lot of progress on their speech this year and they are both really getting the fashion bug and love clothes shopping....yes I am scared!! Our little Mashinka loves preschool, she really likes to be around kids her size and her teachers say she is doing great and is very sociable. It's a shame we don't have someone in the family her age like Caelia has Lera.