Sunday, November 29, 2009

HAPPY 2nd BIRTHDAY and ONE YEAR HOME!!!

HAPPY 2nd BIRTHDAY, CASSIANA!

Also, one year ago, Cassi's feet touched US soil for the first time. What a day of remembrances! :) Cassi has now spent 1/2 of her life with us, which is another significant marker in an adopted child's life. :)
We celebrated Cassi's birthday early this year, on her first US Thanksgiving. Mom and I were with her in Russia last year for Thanksgiving, eating some yummy lasagna! lol Mom made her an Abbey Caddabby birthday cake this year and an Elmo congo square cookie cake. They were precious and delicious!
My camera has a mind of its own lately. All of these pictures are dates March, 2007 and the lens is blurry no matter what I clean it with (this could be due to the little hands in the house that are using it, too).


So, this is what all the Thanksgiving fuss is about.

Turkey leg anyone?

Let's get this party started!

Abbey!
Elmo!

Kai giving Cassi a kiss--look at the love! lol

I like chocolate cake way better than turkey. Like mother like daughter.
Feeding Abbey, now released from her cake.

Opening presents

Doggie!

A year ago today, Cassi was terrified of dogs!
Happy 2nd Birthday, One Year Home and First Thanksgiving in America!
We love you!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

One Year Ago Today...

Trip 2, after court, one year ago today
Seeing Cassi in the orphanage, after court--look how tiny!

First time I dressed her--she loved the softness of the clothes!


So small!




Memory Lane: Cassi (left) and her "twin" Dagny (right) in Baby Home #14
They knew each other before we knew they were our daughters! They are about 11 months old here, I believe.

Cassi and Dan, Trip 1


Trip 1, Day 2, Smiling some!


Trip 1, Day 1



Trip 1, Day 1

...a Moscow Russian judge decided we would be the parents of Cassiana, changing all of our lives forever! We were so thrilled and relieved that she was finally officially our daughter. We flew 2 days to get to Russia, had court the next day and then flew home for 2 days the day after court. I remember going to see Cassi right after court, still in our suits, playing with her on the floor of the orphanage. It was so, so wonderful to hold her again! We took about 3,000 pictures and miles of video and tried to soak up every square inch of her being, until we could come back in 10 days to pick her up. There is a 10 day wait most of the time after court, until you can have custody of your child, so we had to leave, knowing that the end of the adoption journey was quickly approaching and that the beginning of our new lives were beginning! :)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Approaching One Year!

Cassi set foot on US soil ("soil" referring to the dirt that I'm sure was in the Houston International Airport's carpet) on November 29th. I still can not believe she is here and that she has been here almost a year! It feels like she has always been here and other than the pain of waiting for her and wondering about her, I barely remember what life was like before Cassi. So, on November 29th, she will celebrate one year home and her 2nd birthday.

I was going back on the blog, looking at pictures and video from all 3 trips to Russia and found myself in tears with mixed emotions. She has grown and developed so much and so well since then! She is such a loving, happy child. She says, "I lofe chew, Mom," ( "I love you, Mom"---I'm not sure why the "Mom" part and not "Mommy" but I will take it!) spontaneously. She showers us and us with her with hugs and kisses all day. I love to see her run and laugh with her curls bobbing all the while, or rolling on the floor with Kai playing and laughing.

The mix in emotions comes into play, because I found myself starting to go down that path that no doubt all adoptive parents go down. What would have happened to her if we had not adopted her? How would she be doing now? What would have happened to her at age 18 when she aged out of the orphanage? I can only pose those questions in my mind because I just can't allow my mind to take me there. I can picture what happens to the other orphans who are still there and those who are being let out into the world by orphanages all across Russia (and the world), but no my Cassi.

So, I pose this question to other adoptive parents. What do you do when your mind wonders "there?" Do you allow it go or do you quickly think of something happier and repress those thoughts? I don't know if I should just think about the possibilities, have a really good cry and then hope I don't go down that mental road again or to keep repressing those images.

On a happier note, Cassi's Gammy will be making her an Abbey Cadabby (spell) cake and an Elmo cookie cake for her 2nd birthday celebration! We are having it at Thanksgiving, so that's why we NEED massive amounts of cake! lol I am still searching for a really cute but comfortable birthday outfit that has a cake on it or some kind of birthday references. I have no idea what the weather will be like by then as it's been unseasonably warm.

We are looking forward to this big celebration of so many important events in Cassi's life. We "lofe chew," Cassi! :)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Halloween Preview

Count Kai and Lady Snow
Why are you standing so still, smiling when you could be jumping around like me?

Pumpkins my students made

Kai playing plinko at the school carnival
Exiting the very scary haunted house at school
CHEESE!

Wait until she finds out about the candy!


Gammy and Cassi
And now for my next act...

My sign at school


Blogger wears me out because it won't let me click and drag photos like the old days, so I'm going to post them and explain what they are in this one big paragraph! :P Anyway, last night was the Fall Carnival at Kai's school, so Kai and Cassi got to wear their costumes for the first time. Kai was Dracula, or excuse me "Midnight Vampire." Cassi was Snow White. They were both adorable, if I do say so myself! I will try to post the video of Cassi running around like a crazy baby, so you can see what I was contending with in trying to get these pictures. At one point, I told Kai to just stand still and to keep smiling because eventually Cassi would stand by him and smile, too. It finally worked! Cassi kept saying, "Cheese!" but she would crouch way down like she was going to jump. Too funny! I'm also going to post a picture of Kai coming out of the haunted house at the school and also of him playing Plinko for the first time. Talk about a generation gap, he didn't know how to to it! lol

This is Cassi's first Halloween home and I'm so excited to take her out next week. Oh, by the way, this will tell you how influential sports are here. Instead of Halloween being on the 31st, they have MOVED it to the 30th because there is a big game on the 31st! What? I give up...

I'm also posting some re-takes of Cassi in her Russian shirt from her "twin" Dagny as the last ones were so cloudy from "someone's" fingerprints on the lens and Cassi' hair isn't as fro-like as the last pictures showed. lol That is my mom holding Cassi in the one shot.


We had Cassi's 2nd post placement report last Saturday. YAY! So, on top of painting the house, going to the U2 concert, we decided to throw that in, too.

I'm also adding a picture of my classroom sign because I love the apple theme at the school. And, my kids all decorated little pumpkins and we have them on display outside of the door. They turned out so cute! I only have 5 students in case you are wondering why there are only 5 little pumpkins. And, the stuff hanging in the doorway is spiderweb.


HAPPY 1st HALLOWEEN, CASSI!!!!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

One Year Ago Yesterday...

The Day We Met You! :) Age 10 1/2 months, Moscow City, Baby Home #14
She is looking at the photo album we brought her to leave behind and get on the final trip.
...we met our Russian Sweet Baby, Cassiana! :) I would have loved to have posted yesterday, but between working a full day, power washing the house getting it prepped for painting over the long Fall Break weekend (love these teacher vacations!) and then getting the kids to bed, I just couldn't do it last night. Plus, I had the flu for 2 weeks and only recently started to feel better.



My how our lives have changed since this time last year, all for the better! Cassi was still an orphan, 10 1/2 months old, Dan was a stay-at-home dad, I was working in sales, traveling all the time, and Kai was in kindergarten. Now, Cassi is almost 2, doing fantastic, Dan is finishing his degree and working part time, I am an elementary deaf education teacher (love it!) and Kai is a big first grader.



One year ago yesterday, was an amazing day! We went to the Department of Education, completely jet lagged, running on adrenaline and met a table of 5 Russian women who showed us the picture of our future baby. She was not was I was expecting, with her sparse dark hair and deer in the headlights big black eyes (see picture to the right)! She looked very scared in the picture, but you could tell she was a cutie. So we went to meet her.



Walking up to the baby home for the first time was so exciting! I was not particularly nervous, more anxious about, "Would this be our baby? Would we know right away?" We were led inside by Max and escorted into the big music room. Masha began to go over the medical history with us and in walked the baby home worker with a beautiful baby girl with coal black eyes. She had her bottom lip sucked in because she was so scared and I remember being concerned that her lip wasn't formed right--lol! She had on baby blue boys clothes and big black boots, probably a size 4. I know now that she wore a size 1 or maybe smaller (she still has tiny feet--only wears a size 3 now!). I wonder if they were trying to conceal her teeny feet? The worker handed me to her and she began to cry, so I walked around the room and talked to her and kissed her sweet cheeks and hair. She soon calmed down and let me sit with her snuggled to my neck, while we tried to focus on what Masha said about her history, as this would be the only time we would hear it! Talk about difficult! All I wanted to do was see my new baby, head to toe, and to tell her how much we already loved her! She was definitely our daughter, no doubt!



That day, we took about 1,000 photos and several videos. We got to see her the next day and then signed the intent to adopt and it seems like we saw her one more day and then had to go back home until court November 10th. That was tough leaving her, however, they had kept her safe this long and I figured they could do it a while longer.


Here is Cassi the day after we met her, a year ago today...

And from the other day, by the way, her hair is NOT that big! lolol This shirt is from her "twin" sister, Dagny, who has a matching one. So sweet of Dagny to give the shirt to Cassi! :) They were in the same groupa at the orphanage and we are still in touch and will meet in person one day. Dagny and Cassi knew each other before we knew they were our daughters! :)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I have returned!

Okay, I didn't go anywhere, but I have never gone this long without posting! We've been busy little bees around here. Kai started 1st grade August 20th. He loves it and is doing great! He lost another tooth, too. That makes 3 total. Here he is on his first day of school:

Kai's First Day of 1st Grade

I also started my new job as a teacher at a different school on August 20th. I teach 1st-4th grade hearing impaired students and love it! I had to wait until last week to sign a contract while my license was being processed so I had to sub in my own classroom, which was kind of weird. I didn't like having to wait to see what happens (you'd think I'd be more patient after adopting! lol). A few weeks before school started, I went in almost every day to work in my room, not knowing for sure this would be my job. It's all working out and going great! :) My school and students are awesome!

Backing up further, the kids took a gymnastics class to try it out over the summer. Cassi wasn't super excited because everything was so new. Kai had taken the Mommy and Me class a few summers and had attended some birthday parties here, so he kind of knew the ropes (no pun intended). Cassi and I went to the Mommy & Me class while Kai was in his big kid class. Cassi's class wore me out because I was lifting and moving her everywhere. I think we will wait until she's a little older to enroll her. The pictures below aren't really representative of her experience. There was more crying than laughing. Kai loved his, so he's going once a week now. Here are pictures, if blogger will let me move them!

Kai on the parallel bars. I have no idea why everything is so fuzzy! I couldn't get too close because I was watching Cassi on the air tramp at the same time. Multi-tasking!


Waiting for class to start


This is a picture from the other day in her new leotard. She LOVED wearing it! I found it at a second hand store for .99cents! Love that!

video

Please don't look at the clutter in the video. Our house is usually "Home and Garden" ready (yeah, right!) but today was a little crazy w/ the toys. Cassi can do somersaults. We call it "downward dog" as in the yoga pose because she was doing that all over the place. One day Kai just gave her a little push and now she's doing somersaults all over the place. She also loves to jump in her crib and on the couch and land on her rear end. I hear gymnastics calling her name! Also, I love how she managed to hang on to the hanger the whole time--lol!

Then, last weekend was Kai's 7th birthday. I can't believe he's already 7! Mom made him a gymnastics cake. She couldn't find any cake set ups for gymnastics, so she had to make them. It turned out really cute. Thanks, Mom!

Then, on Labor Day, I ran my first 5K because starting a new job just wasn't enough! lol I trained for about 6-7 wks. beforehand. I have NO pictures of this event. They are NOT good! lol Anyway, I finished the race and my time was pretty good! :) I'm ready to sign up for my next run!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Something is kind of fishy...

Okay, this post is only a week over due! Last Saturday Grandma and Grandpa H. took the kids and I to the aquarium. Dan had to work, so we took off to have some fun! We had a blast! Kai's favorite part was the shark room (mine, too!) and running around in the stroller area like a wild banshee (I did not partake in this activity.). I let Kai and Cassi run amok for a while before we got back into the car for the trip home.

Here are some pictures from our trip. Hopefully blogger will behave and let me rearrange these this time! First we went out for Mexican food---yummmy!!!
Cassi loved the mariachi band
Kai being mischievousKai feeding the turtles at the aquarium. Dad put some bait on a stick that had a clothe pin at the end. These turtles probably have a Body Mass Index of 100! lolBaby friendly turtle viewing window. Keep in mind it's about 15 minutes into the trip and Cassi has already removed her shoes! Still has her bow...for now.
Next was the tide pool to pet starfish, etc. Kai was content with just looking at them.
Grandma H. and Kai at the stingray tankGrandpa H. and Kai
Cassi has had enough of the stroller--her bow has fallen out somewhere along the way...
SHARK! They have a shark tunnel and shark room. Love me some sharks!
They have this awesome program where for an extra fee, you can swim with the sharks, so I did! Okay, if you believe that, then you guys will believe anything!!! :P
Their eyes don't glow in real life--ha,ha.
Alligator Gar---creepy!
Grandma and Cassi shopping in the gift shop
Burning off energy before the car trip home. :)

Anyone out there having trouble with blogger? I used to be able to drag and drop the pictures and now I can still do that, but it will only move one picture length at a time---took forever to do this post! :P
Anyway, we had a wonderful time at the aquarium. Thank you Grandma and Grandpa H.! :)