Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Happy Gotcha Day!

Today is yet another important day to remember in the life of Miss Emily. On January 29, 2007, (which also happens to be Ryan's birthday!) a baby girl named Nadezhda, lovingly called Nadya by her caregivers, became an official member of the Hypes Family.

We spent years praying about adding another child to our family and we spent several months researching agencies and another couple of years filing paperwork and getting poked by doctors and having our backgrounds checked by the FBI. No amount of preparation could get me ready for the joy that coursed through my body as we carried Nadya/Emily out of the babyhouse for the first time and brought her into our home. At the same time, no amount of preparation could prepare me for the fear that I faced once she was "home" in our Kazakh apartment.

As we were preparing to take Emily back to our apartment, we learned that there were respiratory infections spreading around the babyhouse and that Emily was highly susceptible to them. The day we took her home she had a very high fever, was very somber and lethargic and wasn't eating or drinking much. She also had quite a few of the messiest diapers I had ever seen in all my years of babysitting! I brought basic baby medicines from home (the States) but was told by the babyhouse doctor via our translator that I should NOT give any of them but instead we should give a battery of medicines they had prescribed for her. I could not read the labels to know what I was giving, what it was for or how much I should give. I had to solely rely on what these people were telling me and trust that they knew best. Worse yet, I couldn't pick up the phone and call my mom and ask what she would do. I was alone, in a country where I was now illiterate and I was trying to get my baby healthy again so we could travel back to the states in roughly a week. We asked our family and friends to pray for our situation and boy, could we feel those prayers!

Here we are a year later and our daughter is doing great. I had a hard time getting into the celebration of Em's first birthday because we had only known her for 4 mos. but on her first Gotcha Day I feel like putting on a party hat and doing a jig. As another adoptive mom once told me, "I've managed to keep her alive for a WHOLE year!" Yeah, God!

As I frequently try to do, here are some fun pictures to remember the occasion! The picture at the top of the page was taken shortly after we were granted custody of Emily and it was the first time we were permitted to take her outside of the babyhouse. (And, yes, I'm pretty sure I went back after I took the picture and closed the door that Aliya left open!) We were told we needed to by a snowsuit for this occasion and this was the smallest we could find at the market. It cost about $20 and should have only cost about $10 because Emily only filled it up halfway. She was so small inside it but it kept the wind off and kept the old Russian ladies from yelling at us since they couldn't see her skin peeking out. ;-)

This was one sick baby. She had a very high fever and what little hair she had was wet with sweat by the time we made it to our apartment. This is still one of my favorite pictures of her. She was so peaceful when she fell asleep in my arms.

Here we are exactly one year later wearing the same snowsuit and hat and feeling healthy. This is the first time she's worn this since we came home from Kazakhstan and it fits her perfectly! Of course she couldn't move her arms and she walked like a zombie and couldn't get herself back up once she fell down... but it fits and she cracked me up!

Here's our Kazakh Snow Bunny!

Ahhhh, the memories. Happy 1st Gotcha Day, Em and Happy 16th Birthday, Ryan!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

No deep thoughts, just an overview

I started a really cool blog entry this morning and then my laptop ran out of juice before I saved it. So, here's a simple version...

On January 12, Tom helped Emily with her shoes... and taught her the value (?) of giving them a good sniff test before lacing them up. Make sure you have the volume turned up. There's some pretty good giggling going on here!

This has to be the absolute funniest picture we have of Emily so far. I took her to a dollar store on Saturday to get some supplies for church and picked up a handy-dandy pint-sized Elmo backpack while we were there. I wanted to get a picture of her with it and this one just cracks me up. Must have caught her in mid-word or maybe it's the result of all that stinky shoe sniffing!

On Sunday, we tried on a new outfit. It's a cute little corduroy ensemble that we got as a shower gift. She opted to leave the hat at home for church since she had to put her heavy duty earmuff hat on because of the cold weather. (Note the fingerprint smudges all over Daddy's TV!)

I didn't have to go to work on Monday because of Martin Luther King, Jr Day so we opted to send Em to Grandma and Papa Daycare for the 1st part of the day and then Emily, Grandma and I went shopping the 2nd part of the day. We stopped by Polaris Mall and tried out the play area for the first time. Em wasn't quite as adventurous as a lot of the other kids but she did enjoy going down the slides, crawling through the tunnels and watching the big kids run amuck.

I went to get Em out of bed this morning to find that she'd tossed her cookies sometime in the middle of the night. We started our morning by taking a bath and throwing every bit of bedding and clothing into the hamper. I stayed home from work and we took it easy on the meals today and enjoyed several cups of pedialyte. She got a new chair for Christmas and spent part of the morning lounging around watching Elmo's World. Usually she sits like a big girl in her chair but this morning she was definitely lounging. She didn't get sick any more today but was more mellow than normal and enjoyed a lot more cuddling.

A funny story for the day: As you learned in the video above, Emily makes typical signs and noises for when something stinks. After I changed her this morning, I walked over to the diaper pail with Emily in one arm and her stinky diaper in the other hand. I opened the pail and as usual said, "Ew, does it smell bad?" She responded by leaning into me, smelling my breath and going, "phew". I had to laugh. But, to my defense (maybe?) I HAD already brushed my teeth right before going in to wake her up.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Another walk down memory lane...

It's time to reminisce again.  I can't believe that the Kazakh Epiphany Day came and went and I didn't even think about it.  If you were following along last year at this time, you'll remember that Epiphany (Jan. 19) is a day that Russians and Kazakhs alike take the triple plunge into the icy waters of Ural River to cleanse themselves of their sins.  They do this in all temperatures and disrobe down to their swim suits and trunks. (Speedo-style for most of the guys -- young and old!)   

To walk down memory land with me on that one...  The Freezing Cold Epiphany!

The other fun thing that happened a year ago was my first feeding of Miss Emily.  Oi Vey!  
What an experience!  No high chair.  No bottle.  No sippy cup.  No baby-sized spoon.  Just a giant bowl of Cream-o-Wheat stuff and a tea cup filled with lukewarm tea.  I couldn't shovel it into her mouth fast enough.  This girl knew what she wanted and she wanted it now.  (Yes, she's still a little like this.)

Updates and new pictures coming soon!  I promise!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Where Was That Memo?

Apparently there was a memo that was circulated amongst the appliances, vehicles and other electronic devices in our home. We've had an interesting run the past couple of days!

It started with the belt on our sweeper breaking. Simple enough. But the sweeper sat in my kitchen a few days before I could tear it apart to see what was wrong. As of 6:30 this morning, it's fixed.
The night before last, I went to put Emily to bed and when I went to turn on the CD player it just clicked. I bought one similar to the one above on sale at Big Lots around Christmas time and it's worked just fine... until the other night. Now it's been reduced to a glorified radio. But a least it's a radio.

Then, yesterday, I got a call from Tom around lunch time saying that he had been in a car accident. He was broadsided as he was pulling into a turn lane. He's okay, the people that hit him are okay... but, alas, his Mazda Tribute that was nearly paid off is not. They hit the rear axle and bent the tire and the frame up. It was being hauled away as I got there and I didn't get to see how bad the damage was... but it was bad enough that it can't be driven and that Tom had to get a rental car. The other people were cited and their insurance is supposed to cover everything. Tom's hooked up with a pretty little rental car for the next couple of weeks until his can be repaired.

Tom was also kind enough to inform me last night that our dryer seems to have croaked yesterday morning. I started a load in the morning before I left for work and 4 hours later when Tom went down to switch over laundry the dryer was still tumbling but without heat. He turned it off and tried to restart it and it now it won't turn back on. Fortunately, when we got married 7 years ago, Tom moved his washer and dryer in with him. They've been sitting beside my old washer and dryer waiting for such an occasion to be used. Now it's just a matter of figuring out how to unhook the current pair, move the newer ones over and find someone to haul the old ones away. (The washer still works and we'd like to donate it to someone that can use it.)

I pray we've seen the last of the choas and that we can just focus on getting things back in order. Other than this, our family is doing great. Emily hasn't taken any more spills lately and for the most part, we seem to have avoided the sickies that have passed through here recently. Ryan's going to be turning 16 at the end of this month. Yikes!

Until next time... have a great day and be blessed!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Ah, The Memories

The past week has been flooded with memories of last year in Kazakhstan. Wow! It's feels so weird to be saying that. Has it really be a WHOLE year since we were over there? Has it really been a WHOLE year since I held my soon-to-be-daughter for the first time and fed her a bottle of tea???

We have been so tremendously blessed this past year. In the past year, we've:
• felt the many, many prayers of our family and friends.
• traveled to Kazakhstan.
• adopted a 9 month old little girl that was born 10 wks. premature (with pneumonia) and was unable to sit up on her own and possibly didn't sit up on her own until after we met her.
• grown to love and care for a handful of people on the other side of the world.
• gained great respect for the caregivers at the baby houses in Uralsk, Kazakhstan.
• learned the value of a tenge (Kazakh money).
• traveled on planes and through airports for over 26 hours straight with a baby who was ready to be home on about the 16th hour.
• met a whole slew of guardian angels that helped us through airports and onto the correct flights in cultures where we couldn't understand the language or the customs.
• grew to understand the deeper love of a family after a long absence.
• met the incredibly caring people in our local Help Me Grow program.
• learned the value of a great pediatric physical and occupational therapist and the education they can provide for the parents of a child with delayed development and extremely high muscle tone.
• met the incredible support staff that helped with Em's PT.
• gained an even greater appreciation for the love of our church family.
• learned to laugh and smile every day with our daughter and her bond with her teenage brother.
• learned to not take for granted the help and support provided by "Grandma and Papa Daycare".
• celebrated Emily's 1st birthday (in May).
• traveled to Tennessee with the kids for summer vacation and family bonding.
• learned to clean up messy diapers, really messy diapers, vomit, runny noses, and ear wax.
• learned that apparently in Em's world cats really do say "BAAA!".
• celebrated our first Thanksgiving as a family of 4.
• learned that regular blogging is invaluable in remembering the details of the things that you really don't want to forget.
• learned that at the moment there is nothing better on a rough day than a sticky kiss and a pat on the back from Miss Em.
• celebrated Em's first Christmas and New Years' as a family in the USA.
• and, yes, I could go on and on and maybe some day I will. ;-)

Since you're all dying for some more photos here is a link to where we were a year ago!

Monday, January 07, 2008

A Year Ago Today...

On this day (Jan. 7) at this time (9pm) last year (2007) we were hopping on a plane in Minneapolis and heading to Amsterdam on our way to Almaty, Kazakhstan.

As I was giving Emily a bath tonight I was reflecting on our past year. I can't believe how much she's grown in this past year and how well she's progressed. She was off to a shaky start when we met her but we fell in love immediately and she's come so far.

Some fun facts to lighten your reading...

1) Emily still emphatically believes that cats say "Baa!".

2) She loves to play "flutter" with her daddy... (which means putting her hand over his eye while he flutters his eyelashes on her hand).

3) She LOVES watching Elmo sing and dance and frequently joins in on the dancing and clapping.

4) Emily loves to rock in her big girl rocking chairs.

5) Emily still makes me smile every day even when she's teething up a storm.

6) There are days when I go to work with a sticky kiss on my cheek after saying goodbye to Em and it stays there until it dries up.

7) Emily is immediately drawn to anyone that vaguely resembles her RyRy.

Enough happy thoughts for now, Em's already in dreamland and now that I've given you a photo for today's entry, I'm on my way to join her there! Good night!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Post-Christmas Update

As with most families, the Christmas season kept the Hypes family very busy this year. Tom stayed busy at our store during most of December. Ryan took up skateboarding recently and has been happy to have a mild winter so he can practice learning new tricks. Emily and I have been hanging out at the house quite a bit and did quite a bit of Christmas shopping together. I love shopping with Emily because she's usually pretty good riding in the cart and with her facing me while we shop we get a lot of bonding/talking time in. She also makes a lot of people smile in the stores because she's constantly saying "Hi!" to everyone we pass and blows quite a few kisses as well. Some day we'll tell her this isn't particularly appropriate behavior, but at her age it's very heartwarming and this time of year a lot of people can stand to smile at a small child.

Emily and I went to the Isler family Christmas get-together on the Sunday before Christmas. (Tom opened the store for several hours in the afternoon to try to boost business a bit and he wasn't able to join us. Ryan had family stuff going on and would be joining us the day after Christmas for our vacation.) At 94 years old, my (Jenni's) grandma still spends all year long
quilting pillows to give away to family members at Christmas. This year she had over 60 pillows so I believe all of her children, their spouses, kids, grandkids, etc. all got pillows. Here's a picture of Grandma Isler and her pillows from this year!

All of Grandma's kids were able to join us this year. All of her kids live within about 2 miles of her except for one and he lives in Wisconsin. He usually makes it home for Thanksgiving but this year he joined us for Christmas. Here's Grandma in the middle and my mom and her 5 brothers. (Jim, Harold and Howard [twins], Grandma, Nancy and Chuck [twins] and Fred... yup, Grandma had 2 sets of twins!)

Emily had a great time playing with her cousins and aunts and uncles. We spent most of the afternoon with the family and then went home after supper and went to bed early. It was a long, napless day but we both held up pretty well. Here's Em with her cousins Brooke and Abby.

On Christmas Eve, we traveled to celebrate the season with Tom's family. Once again, we had a nice relaxing evening with family. Emily loved her gifts and after warming up to everyone she was laughing and teasing along with everyone else. If I remember correctly, she surprised Keegan by sneaking up on him and tickling his toes. She entertained Mama and cousin Rachel and blew kisses to everyone when we had to leave. She was certainly a busy body on this night and kept me hopping!

Emily's cousin, Rachel,thought she would make a good Christmas present!

On Christmas day we took our time waking up and then ventured over to Grandma and Papa Gaston's house for brunch and presents. Unfortunately, I don't think I took my camera out of the bag so I don't have any pictures of the event. Emily was a pro at opening presents by this time and had quite a bit of fun playing with her new toys. She's still not a holy terror at unwrapping gifts. She takes it pretty slow and makes sure she gets every piece of paper off the present... just like her mom!

On the 26th, we packed up our bags and headed out of town for a week with Ryan. We took the family to Townsend, TN and had our family Christmas down there. We gave Emily some of her presents while down there and she really got into a couple of her new books and like the new piggy bank she got as well. She practiced her skills of being a "big girl" and found great pleasure in sitting on the stone fireplace all by herself and practiced crossing her arms with pride.

It's no wonder she loves her RyRy... look how cute he is!

Emily handled the 7 1/2 hour trip to TN pretty well again. She took her regular morning and afternoon naps in her carseat and spent the rest of the time perusing some of her new books, looking out the windows and watching her brother sleep.

And, just for the record and because I haven't included any pictures of Tom in this entry yet... this is what he looks like when he surprises me with an Orange Crush from the store and tries to sneak in a Grape Jones Soda for himself. What a nice guy.

Here are some fun shots of Ryan doing some skating while on vacation. I haven't been able to see him in action myself yet, but from the pictures it looks like he's getting pretty good!

And, just for kicks... one more shot of Em since she was posing so nicely for me in the cabin!

Have a great day and be blessed!
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