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!  

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Random Happenings

So much has happened over the last couple of months.  I am just going to throw it all on here before I forget everything!

– When we got home from vacation, we decided to work on breaking Daphne’s finger sucking habit.  We started the first night we were home. My theory was that because she was EXHAUSTED, maybe she would fall asleep easily despite wearing gloves.  We did this with Norah and Lucy – and, while it worked, the first several night were awful.  Lucy sucked her fingers again about 6 months later and we had to start all over again.  Daphne is definitely our most strong-willed child so we were both concerned that it would be awful.  She proved us wrong – breaking her habit was much easier than Norah and Lucy!  Now she is glove free and not sucking fingers – woot, woot!

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– We have our travel dates for Trip 1 of our adoption!  We are so excited to get to travel soon!  After thinking about it for 7 months, it is hard to believe it is finally almost here!  I will try to update our blog as often as I can once we actually get there.  We are planning like crazy – for the girls to be with grandparents, for us to be gone, and for the time we are with Levi in the orphanage.

– Norah and Lucy are playing Upward basketball this year.  They both wanted to try it – even though that have no basketball experience!  If they get their skills from me, they may not play more than one ‘season.’ Ha!

– We went on a couple really fun field trips in the last 2 months – one to The Fabulous Fox Theater and one to see The Nutcracker.  We see The Nutcracker almost every year, but this was our first time to tour The Fox.  It was pretty cool to see ‘behind the scenes.’   I love being a part of a homeschool group – we get to do so many field trips that I probably would never think of doing!

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My mom went to see The Nutcracker with us.Image

The girls Lifelight Youth Theater director set up a question/answer with some of the dancers.  

 

 

 

 

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Kevin’s mom came to The Fox with us.  It’s always fun to have grandparents join us!

– Daphne lost a tooth already – she is only 4!  Norah lost her first at 4, but it is really hard to believe.

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– After claiming to not like reading and taking a little while to pick it up, Lucy is now doing great!  She still prefers to read to someone – instead of to herself, but she gets really into the books we read together.  She is also great about reading to Daphne – every once in a while we wake up in the morning to the two of them reading together.

– We celebrated Christmas with my family over Thanksgiving weekend.  That was the only weekend that worked for all of us to be together.  It made for a crazy couple of days – but everyone had a lot of fun!

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Norah received a rainbow loom from Max and Denise.  Denise spent a long time helping her and Ryan make various bracelets.  They loved it!

 

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– We took the girls to see Frozen a few weeks ago.  We all thought it was a great movie!  Daphne, however, is OBSESSED with it.  She asked us to change her name to Elsa because “I do look just like her with my white hair and blue eyes.”  Ha!  She sings ‘Let it Go’ constantly – at the top of her lungs.  She also pretends to freeze us all. the. time.

– Norah is Mrs. Potts in their spring musical.  She is thrilled!  She even has a couple of solos!  If you would have told me when she was 5 that she would be singing solos in a musical by 4th grade, I would not have believed you!  

– Norah lost a molar – seriously, that is disgusting.  She has another one that is really loose already!  

– We had one big snow before Christmas.  We were only supposed to get about 2-4 inches, but we ended up with 9!  It stuck around a lot longer than it usually does around here.  The girls played in it for about 5 days straight!  

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 The girls and Kevin made a fort.  I stayed inside where it was warm!

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Poor Hugo wanted to go on a walk but he really doesn’t like the snow.  We took him a couple of times once the snow started melting, but he still had to jump/climb over some big piles of snow.  The girls loved going on a walk through in the snow – they laughed and fell and laughed some more! 

Enough random-ness for now – one more picture, though!

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Balloon Glow

Every year we miss the Balloon Glow because it is usually the same weekend as Pumpkin Festival.  This year, however, the 2 events fell on different weekends.  On Friday evening, we grabbed dinner and headed down at a decent time to find parking.  The girls were a little feisty before hand – so we almost didn’t go.  I am so glad we went!  It was really fun and a very cool experience for the girls.  

Funny thing – Norah and Lucy loved it, but Daphne was not so sure.  Every time the balloons would fire at the same time, she would cry, “When can we go home?  I just want to go home!  How do we get out of here?”

We didn’t stay for fireworks.  It had poured all day long so the ground was soaked!  Having never been, we didn’t know what to expect so we didn’t take blankets or chairs or anything.  I certainly didn’t mind getting home before it was too far past the girls bedtimes.

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Pumpkin Festival 2013

We spent this past weekend in my hometown for the annual Pumpkin Festival.  The girls went to my parents on Wednesday afternoon, and then Kevin and I headed up on Friday afternoon.  My brother, Max, and I ran the 10k on Saturday morning, while my sister and her son ran the 2 mile.  Then we all headed to the parade.  After lunch at my parents’ house, we headed down to the festival for some rides.  As always, the girls had a great time.  Norah said that she wishes the Pumpkin Festival happened more than once a year.

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My mom and 4 of the grandkids – waiting for Alison, Ryan, Max and me to run by (the 10k goes by their street, the 2 mile goes right by their house).

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And there we go!

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Max and I – pre-race

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Post Race

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Alison and Ryan running by Mom and Dad’s house.

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Daphne and Kevin watching the parade together

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Watching the parade (the VERY long parade) with cousins

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My brother, Rick, and my dad

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This is what happens to a 4 year old after too much Pumpkin Festival fun!  Ha!  Daphne was one tired girl!

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As we headed out of town on Sunday, we ran by my cousin, Katie’s, coffee shop, Eli’s.  I grabbed some treats for the girls and my favorite, hazelnut and toasted marshmallow non-fat frap.  YUM!

As usual, we had a great weekend!  The girls are already talking about next year!!!

 

This and That

We started school about a month ago already.  I was ready for more structure as were the girls.  We have still tried to throw in some normal summer stuff – like going to the park, the pool, shopping, bike riding, etc – once the girls get their schoolwork completed.  So far, so good on our curriculum choices.  I made some major changes this year – for one, I am putting together my own history curriculum.  Why?  I don’t know.  I may just be crazy.  I have tried a couple of different ones over the last couple of years and haven’t loved any of them.  This year I am using the Mystery of History as my outline but I am tweaking it and adding/subtracting from it quite a bit.  I love doing it, but I also know it could get old – as crazy busy as we are.  For now, however, it is working.  

We are using Magic School Bus Young Scientists Club for science this year (we bought a voucher from Educents for 1/2 off the club).  We spend the first few weeks learning about volcanoes.  We ended with an experiment.  It went way better than we expected.

 

We went to Indy this weekend for a wedding.  Kevin’s cousin, Danielle, got married in Lafayette on Saturday.  It was a beautiful wedding and the kids had a lot of fun.  Daphne is really amused by weddings right now – so she was thrilled to go.  

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One major milestone met this summer was this: