Double Digits!

’nuff said.

IMG_8415

 

Oh, alright, I will add a little more than just a picture.  Ten sounds old.  Grown-up.  It seems like Norah was born, then we blinked, and she turned 10.  From the time I started babysitting, the preschool/toddler was my favorite.  I was an early ed major and LOVED teaching preschool.  Norah was a precious, sweet, inquisitive toddler and preschooler.  I really thought those were my favorite years – until this year.  Norah at 9 was absolutely my favorite.  Norah is growing into a delightful young lady.

I love that we can actually have a conversation that doesn’t revolve around princess, unicorns, ice castles, and lala land (however, I do enjoy those things, too).  I love that she has opinions on things she likes to wear and do.

Norah still loves to read.  I mean, she loves it.  She always has a book in her hand.  She seems to love most genre but some of her favorites right now include: The Cupcake Club series and The Babysitter’s Club books.

Norah is taking ballet, tap and jazz this year, and she is loving all of it!  Her dance studio is working on their recital dances and she is really excited about all the dances and her costume.  It seems like most kids have found “their thing” by age 10 and I definitely think dance is it for Norah.  She is a natural and very comfortable and confident in her dancing.  She loves a lot of other things but dance seems to be her favorite.

Norah is definitely a typical first-born in many situations.  She tends to be a perfectionist (but really not extreme – seems to have a good amount of perfectionism going on, but not enough to make us all crazy).  She is a rule-follower.  We actually laugh about it sometimes – she will argue with us until she is blue in the face, but she RARELY breaks a rule (all of this happens as her sisters go ahead and break the rules – ha!).

Norah is such a sweetie and a joy to watch grow.  We are so very thankful for her precious life and are excited to watch her grow in her love for Jesus over the next year.  We are confident that God has great plans perfect for her little life, and we are thankful that we get to see it all unfold.

IMG_8847

Boredom Busters!

This winter has been crazy!  We have had so much snow and such cold temperatures that everyone is going stir crazy.  We decided to do something different to bust through the boredom AND try something totally new (inspired by the Olympics).  We took the girls skiing/snowboarding yesterday.  Everyone had a great time and did WAY better than I expected.  Kevin and I ski-ed but we gave the girls the option of skiing or snowboarding.  Norah and Lucy chose to snowboard and Daphne chose to ski.

If you have never been and are not an expert yourself, I would definitely recommend signing your kids up for a class.  It was well worth it.  The classes were 2 hours each – the girls learned so much more than if we had let them attempt to do anything on their own!  However, if you are going on a weekend, try to sign up ahead of time.  The classes fill up quickly!

Norah and Lucy took a snowboarding class at 10:30 and by the time we had everyone suited up and ready to go, it was about 10:30.  They were done at 12:30 – had something to eat and then had the rest of the afternoon to snowboard.  The 10:30 ski class for Daphne’s age group was full so we signed her up for a class at 1:30.  In the end, this was probably best because she probably would have been tired/whiny for us by that time of day, but for someone else, she would be fine.  She ski-ed with us for a couple of hours while Norah and Lucy were in their class.  She had lunch and then went to her class.  While Daphne was in her class, Norah and Lucy snowboarded with us (while we ski-ed).  Timing wise, everything worked out great.  The temperature was perfect – no one was really ever cold.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

 

Olympics 2022, here we come!

Waiting and Wondering

In the last week, we have had quite a few people ask if we have heard anything or if anything new has happened.  Adoption related – the most “entertaining” thing is that my fingerprints that were sent to the FBI were not readable (never mind the fact that they have been read about 3 times in the last year with no problem).   Luckily, we don’t need this immediately, but we certainly want that background check to be done and ready well before we actually need it.  Otherwise, our I800 approval (this is the approval that come from the US immigration office) was sent to the National Visa Center.   The NVC sends this approval to the US Embassy.  There are several steps that happen after that and before our case actually goes to court, but those are the next couple of steps for now.

Unfortunately, there are some interesting, political things going on in-country right now.  We are not far enough along, yet, for those issues to cause a delay for us.  However, if the judge(s) who is causing the issues don’t get it together, this could potentially cause a delay.  We are praying for the families who are just waiting now – they are ready for their case to go to court, but are not for political reasons.  They are all anxious to get their kids home!

In other news, Norah and Lucy are playing Upward basketball right now.  They are doing a great job!  They both went into it really not knowing anything about basketball.  They have really picked up so much in the last few weeks.  We laugh because their personalities are so different and it really show during the game.  Lucy is much more laid back.  For the first few weeks, she would run on the opposite side of court.  .  . as far from the ball as possible.  She would only touch the ball if she was throwing it in or if her coach wanted someone else to throw it in to her.  She would dribble to mid-court and then throw it as soon as she saw someone even turn toward her.  Her throw – straight over everyone’s heads and I think she just hoped someone on her team would catch it.  Last week and this week, she was more aggressive in the sense that she would try to get the ball closer to the basket and actually shoot it.  She made 2 baskets today – so she was thrilled.  We were laughing today because Lucy stops to cheer every time either teams makes a basket – never mind the fact that the game is still going on around her.

Norah is naturally a little more aggressive and she is really competitive with herself.  She works hard to get better each week – she is definitely succeeding.  The first couple of weeks, Norah wanted in on the action, but was afraid of the ball hitting her in the head and afraid of hurting someone’s feelings.  She wasn’t about to take the ball from someone else or even try to rebound.  She was, however, instantly a great defender.  The girl she is defending rarely gets a shot – regardless of the fact that Norah has been shorter than most of them.  Last week, she took her intensity to a new level.  Multiple times, she stole the ball from the other team without even hesitating.  Today, she also made a basket.  Her team has by far shown more improvement than the other teams in that division.  They went from losing by 30 something to losing by 8 today.  They are working hard and having fun together – even though they aren’t winning.

Daphne is going to Mom’s Day Out this year and loving it.  It helps that she has AMAZING teachers.  She is enjoying her time away with friends – while the big girls get schoolwork completed.  Quite a few of the girls in Daphne’s class also are in her Sunday school class.  This makes going to church on Sunday more fun for her.

The girls are all loving watching the Olympics right now.  We are doing a whole unit study of the Olympics – it is really fun.  I think I am learning as much as the girls!  Each day they learn a little something about the ancient Olympic games, a well-known Olympic athlete, a participating country, and a sport.  So far, Norah wants to be an Olympic snowboarder and Lucy wants to be an Olympic figure skater.  Norah thinks she could be in the 2022 Olympics – ummm, she has never been on a snowboard, though, so she better get going! Ha!

Adoption Trip #1 Recap

We have officially been home for almost 4 weeks – celebrating birthdays and trying to get back into a normal routine.  We are glad to be home – we definitely missed the girls a lot – but it was very hard to leave Levi there.  The visits continued to go well all week.  As the week went on, we noticed a huge difference in how Levi acted with us.  On Monday, he was very much like a rag doll – he seemed lifeless and blah.  He had a glazed look on his face and just sort of sat there and stared.  We worked really hard to get him to smile and/or laugh – he only gave us a few of each, but each smile was very sweet.  The more time we spent with him, the more Levi seemed to initiate interaction with us.  He started touching our faces, grabbing my hair, and even reaching for us by the end of the week.  We are so anxious to get him home – into a loving environment – and, hopefully, see him thrive!

We only had one visit with Levi on Friday – it ended up being a longer visit than most of our morning visits.  Knowing it was the last one, we were fine with it until we realized the orphanage staff forgot to bring him lunch.  Hmmmm.   Levi seemed a little uncomfortable – never really cried – but we could tell he was really hungry and tired.  By the time Levi finished eating, he was really tired.  This made the goodbye somewhat easier because we knew he was really ready for bed.

It really is . . . bizarre.  We spent several hours a day with this little guy for whom we have prayed for several months – and then after a week, we just leave.  After holding him and interacting with him, we both definitely felt a connection with Levi.  I didn’t know if it would feel forced or awkward – but it really wasn’t either of those things.   Now, we wait.  All of our paperwork is basically done on our part.  We are waiting on a few things to come back to us so we can get it all to our agency.

We have definitely seen God’s hand at work – from travel to our time with Levi to the friends we made while we were there to the safety/health of the girls while we were gone.  We appreciate all the prayers that have been and will be said as we continue on in this journey.

As a side note:  My friend, Kasey, has organized a fundraiser for our adoption.  If you have ever thought about trying essential oils, you can do so in the month of February and a portion of the proceeds will go toward our adoption.  YL fundraiser

Adoption Fundraiser

I have plans to post an Adoption Trip #1 recap – but we arrived home on the 11th, my birthday was the 12th, we jumped back into school on the 13th, and then Daphne had a birthday on the 17th.  Lots of fun and craziness!  I will still get to that post, but for now, I want to share a fundraiser that is going on right now.  

We were contacted by Todd from Sidney Street Sales in St. Louis.  Todd and his wife sell mid-century furniture and each month they donate 10% of their proceeds to an adopting family.  Our friend, Katie Mohr, had given them our information so we are blessed to be that family for January!  

If you are on facebook, their page is https://www.facebook.com/sidneystreetsales/

They are having their big sale tomorrow!  Check it out if you have a chance!  They have a lot of really cool stuff!

Happy 5th Birthday, Daphne Jane!

Gasp.  Does that say 5th?  Ummm,  I think she was just born - there is no way that was 5 years ago!IMG_8451

Here is the link to my first post of Daphne.  Here is the link to one of my first posts about life with 3 kids.  Looking back at some of these posts is cracking me up!  I do NOT remember those first few weeks of have 3 kids!IMG_0730

We have watched Daphne grow up over the last year.  She is definitely queen of her own little world.  She loves all things princess and mermaid – typically, pretending to be one or the other (or both) most days.   Specifically, right now she is a little obsessed with Ariel and Elsa.  She is trying to mold those 2 princesses into 1 so she can be a mermaid and an ice princess.  Ha!  She is the most creative in her play and actually loves to play by herself.  She will gladly play with her sisters or friends, but she doesn’t need others to stay entertained.  She loves to sing, dance, and dress-up!  She rarely wears normal clothes – unless we are leaving the house, she is almost always wearing dress-up clothes.

She is still a mama’s girl and tends to be hesitant in new situations.  She is still pretty quiet at Mom’s Day Out, dance, Sunday school, etc, but at home, she rarely stops talking.  She has lots of questions about things going on around her and she is definitely thinking abouthow things work.  

Finally, after about 3 years of not sleeping well, she is back into a good habit.  I thought for sure when we broke her of her finger sucking habit, that we would be back to not sleeping well.  Thankfully, that is not the case.  She is usually super snuggly in the mornings and likes to have a little bit of time alone with one parent or the other before her sisters wake up for the day.

Here is a photo dump of pics from the last year!!!  Enjoy!

IMG_0342IMG_0353IMG_0356IMG_0426IMG_7245  IMG_1318IMG_1615IMG_8516 IMG_8565

We Are Here!

We arrived in Eastern Europe on Sunday evening.  Our flights were very uneventful – they were all on time and all very smooth rides.  I mentioned on facebook that I am pretty sure I am not meant to be a world traveler.  That 9 hour plane ride just about put me over the edge.  I think traveling over night was so confusing to me.  My body felt like it should be sleeping so I kept falling asleep but because we were, obviously, sitting up, I couldn’t stay asleep.  I tried 3 separate times to watch the movie (one that my parents had actually just recommended), Now You See Me, but I couldn’t stay awake.  Kevin, of course, took it all in stride much better than me.  Ha!  For the record, I am also not very adventurous when it comes to my food!  Kevin – who is the pickier of the 2 of us – has actually been much more adventurous.

Our visits with Levi are going really well – they are basically the same thing every day. We get there around 10, take him from his room, and then we are escorted (Kevin and I along with our translator) by the head nurse to a little room/office to play and get to know him. We hold him, talk to him, play with him, etc and then they bring his lunch around noon. We have fed him lunch each day – we were told he is really picky – we have definitely seen that. He doesn’t like his fruit – each day that is what he spits out or won’t even let me get it in his mouth. He is super mellow – it takes a lot to get a laugh out of him, but he hasn’t fussed at all yet either.

Levi is a serious thumb sucker (and if you know our family, you know that finger sucking is a Swinigan trait!)The staff doesn’t seem to want him sucking his thumb – we can’t figure that out. Almost like they want us to think that they don’t let him, but he is VERY deliberate about it. When he is tired, he rubs his eyes, puts his thumb in his mouth, and snuggles right up – so we know he has been doing this for awhile!

It doesn’t seem like he has anyone in particular that he prefers. The caregivers all fuss over him – he gets lots of hugs and kisses, but he doesn’t seem to care. This is really hard for me. While I assumed this would be the case, it is really sad to know that he hasn’t had one constant person in his life. This is probably why he doesn’t fuss or cry – he learned early on that crying doesn’t get him anything. There was no mommy or daddy responding to his cries. We are praying that this doesn’t affect his attachment to us once we get him home – or if it does, that we will know how to help him.

We took a handful of toys for him to play with while we are – we noticed that he really doesn’t care about them. He is more interested in interacting with us. Our hands, hair, faces, etc – seem to keep his attention more than anything else.

Today was particularly interesting – we had to take him to get his picture taken for the visa. Our translator is also our driver so he drove Kevin, me, Levi, and an orphanage worker to a little Kodak shop. I will post a picture, but he was all bundled up as if he was going out in snow. Since most of you have dealt with arctic temps this week, you may find this amusing. It was probably 40 degrees. Seriously – he was in a snow suit. I am pretty sure we had a pink one very similar for Norah when she was a baby. Also, it is not required that you use a carseat. I am so serious! The roads here are really bumpy and the drivers are crazy – and here we are in a tiny car with a baby and no carseat. Those of you who know me well, know that I am OCD about my kids in carseats. Daphne faced backward until she was 2 1/2 because that is when she FINALLY hit 20 pounds (that was before it was recommended that kids stay rear facing until 2).

Physically, we are really pleased with his development.  Don’t get me wrong – he is VERY delayed, but he is actually further along than we thought based on the information we had on him.  He can sit unassisted for a few minutes at a time.  He is great at tummy time – his upper body seems fairly strong.  He can support himself and lift his tummy when placed on his hands and knees – however, he can not get himself onto his hands and knees along.  We actually thought that he couldn’t even sit without any assistance – and that was it.  However, he is only a little over 15 pounds – at 2 1/2 years old.  He has been checked by a cardiologist (several times), endocrinologist, and a kidney doctor (no idea what that doctor is called) and all the doctors said everything looks fine. The orphanage staff just thinks he is picky – as I mentioned above.  He will obviously be thoroughly checked once he gets to the states but hopefully, just getting him out of the orphanage and into our home will make all the difference in the world.  Oh, and a random side note – he has hair IDENTICAL to Daphne’s hair as a baby.  Not kidding.  And he has a dimple in his chin – a Leitch trait.  He seriously looks like he belongs in our family!

Unfortunately, we can’t post any pictures of Levi on any kind of public page so for now you are going to get a picture of Kevin and me!!!  We 3 more visits with Levi before we leave and I can honestly say that it is not going to be easy.  Thankfully, we know we have a lot of people praying for us so we are counting on the strength that only God can give to get us through the next 4-6 months before we can bring him home!  

Image