Sunday, March 30, 2008

Emaliya Nadezhda Hypes

I was on Spring Break from school this week and Tom took some days off from the store so we were able to get some more family time in. We didn't go anywhere or do anything special but we did spend more time together working around the house.

Tuesday, it was especially nice outside so we worked on picking up sticks in the yard and Tom cleaned the gutters out for me. Now that she knows how to climb stairs, Em was able to go up and down her sliding board and we also tried out the swing in the backyard for quite a while. It was nice to break out of the house for a while and enjoy our first spring-like day as a family.

Tom also ventured down to the post office on Tuesday and found Emily's official re-adoption paperwork from the court waiting for us. This one, somewhat unimportant looking, piece of paperwork states that our (re)adoption is granted and that Emily's name is now officially Emaliya Nadezhda Hypes and that she will be issued an Ohio Birth Certificate that we should receive in the next several weeks.

On Friday, Emily and I took a road trip to Columbus to visit Aunts Shell and Laura at work! We played with Libby, cleaned the blinds in the conference room, dropped (or threw?) Aunt Shell's Tweety Bird on the floor, climbed on Aunt Laura's couch, stripped Aunt Shell's plant of quite a few leaves and reorganized her short course catalogs while she was at it.

After the whirlwind tour was over, we all went to Bob Evans to hang out. Em was confined to the high chair so she didn't cause quite as much trouble there. ;-)

The week is almost over and I have to return to work next week. We'll see how Em does with getting back into the routine. She's gotten surprisingly skilled at sleeping in!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

What a Weekend...

Yesterday was Good Friday and I didn't have to work. Emily was starting to get a cold on Thursday but was kind enough to let me sleep in until 8 on Friday. And, really, that's truly sleeping in for me... I'm one of those annoying morning people.

Emily was not a happy camper yesterday. Her cold had her wiped out and cranky and rather than fight it, I decided to give in and let her watch an Elmo marathon off and on throughout the day. She had a fever and wasn't interested in playing. The highlights of her day were drinking lots of liquids (and me changing lots of wet diapers), watching Elmo all day, taking a couple of looong naps and playing in the bathtub in the middle of the afternoon.

This morning she woke up in much better spirits but still has a cough and a leaky faucet for a nose. She was all excited to climb the stairs this morning to go wake Daddy up. We always try to sneak up on Daddy, but I think somehow he catches wind of our sneaky plan through the baby monitor. Some day I'll have to share my plan with her from another room! Well, that and the fact that she's not exactly quiet going up the stairs and she gets a thrill out of knocking on almost all doors. In other words... "Hello, can we come in? We'd like to sneak up on you to wake you up but just wanted to make sure you knew we were coming."

After waking Daddy up, we ventured down the stairs but not before spotting my old Raggedy Ann piggy bank from when I was a kid. Emily latched on to it and set it on the steps beside her and was determined to get it downstairs. It became her new best friend today.

After sharing her Cheerios, Emily started the day
by sharing her musical chair with Raggedy Ann.

Then she loaded her in the big butt chair before
she crawled up to watch Mommy's screensaver/pictures.

Oh, and you can't forget story time!
Raggedy Ann loves Emily's Winnie the Pooh book!

After her morning nap, Emily kept pointing to her footed pj's which were put in her basket ready for bedtime. She wouldn't leave the bedroom until I handed them to her and then she motioned that she wanted them on. Well, what's a loving mom to do other than to comply with her daughter's every wish? I explained that we could only put the sleeves on because she already had her clothes on and she wasn't thrilled but she tolerated that answer. She wore her pj's over her clothes for the rest of the afternoon! And it just gets better...

Emily shows Raggedy how to build with
blocks while wearing her pj's like a cape/housecoat.

Not sure, but I think Em has a call in to
Brittany Spears to push this new look. (And,
yes, she put the shades and hat on by herself!)

Em was trying to convince Daddy to
play some more JibJab dancing videos.

It seems that Tom is working on being
Emily's new manager... or Brittany's pimp!

Back to the Easter weekend... a week or so ago I went to pick Emily up from Grandma and Papa's house and was greeted by an odd character at the window.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Slumber Party Weekend

I forgot to post about Emily's adventures last week and was just reminded when I checked the memory stick on the camera last night!

Last week, Tom and I decided that we were ready for another date night. It's been a while since we've gone out by ourselves without a meeting, an appointment or some other business to take care of. We've been so busy with "life" that we really weren't taking much time to just talk and listen to each other. Grandma and Papa were happy to invite Emily over for a slumber party on Friday night so we could catch dinner and a movie.

The next morning was the Saturday that we help out at the local food pantry and until it's warm out again it's hard to take Emily with us. Grandma and Papa had something else planned for that morning so we made arrangements for them to drop Emily off at Uncle Jim and Aunt Kris' house for the morning. Emily had a great time playing with their dog, Ginger, and showing Aunt Kris all of her toys that she brought along. Even after Tom and I were there to pick her up, she continued taking Aunt Kris by the hand to different places in the house to show her something. It sounds like she made a great transition and didn't mind us being gone a bit.

Emily begged Uncle Jim to sit her up
on the couch with the grown-ups.

Aunt Kris and Emily tackle a puzzle.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Birth Certificates, SS Cards, Home Visits and Assessments

If you've been following the blog or know much about us, you'll recall that early February marked our one year anniversary of Emily being "home" with us. Our Kazakh adoption was finalized in Kazakhstan so there was no need for us to do any further paperwork once we came home. (Many adoptive families HAVE to finalize their adoptions or re-adopt once they are back home in the U.S. with their children.) That was all fine and dandy until I realized that we will probably need Emily's social security number when we file our taxes... which we still haven't done yet!

This week, I made 2 trips to our county courthouse to file applications for Re-Adoption of Emily so that she will have a U.S. Birth Certificate. Not that I would ever lose her Kazakh Birth Certificate (which is all in Russian) but if I did, it would be nearly impossible to get a duplicate. We also wanted to get a U.S. Birth Certificate so enrollment for school, applications for future jobs, etc. won't be as complicated. Two forms, a couple of signatures and $152.50 later, we have the paperwork completed and should expect to see her new birth certificate come through the mail in less than 8 weeks. As part of this process we are also officially changing her first name from Emily to Emaliya even though we will continue to call her Emily. It seems funny to me that we've talked about getting this name change thing done since before we left Kazakhstan, but now, over a year later we're finally getting to it. Again, welcome to Procrastination 101!

After my final trip to the courthouse I made my way over to the Social Security Administration Office. Fortunately, I knew from prior experience when I had my married name added to my card that I would be in for a wait. I think they've been tutored by the folks down at the BMV! I patiently waited for my number to be called. I explained to the young man at the counter that we had adopted from overseas and needed a Social Security Card for our daughter. He asked me for the appropriate identification for Emily and then got a really confused look on his face when he realized it was all in Russian with translation sheets attached. I guess he wasn't really listening when I said "adopted from overseas". He politely apologized and said that he would need to refer my case to another lady that was more familiar with the process for internationally adopted children but that I would need to wait for 1o minutes or so for her to come back from lunch.

I respectfully took my seat, whipped out my cell phone and commenced playing quite a few games of Solitaire on my phone before my name was called. Thank goodness this lady WAS familiar with the process and thank goodness I had called the Soc. Security Information Line the night before and had asked what identification and paperwork I needed to bring with me to get this done. (I saw roughly half of people ahead of me being told they would need to come back with the appropriate identification before they could be helped!) And, for future adoptive parents, when I called, I was told to bring Emily's birth certificate, adoption certificate, immunization records and my I.D. I had the doctor's office fax me a copy of her immunization records and brought the entire packet of adoption paperwork with me and everything had the English translation stapled to the back of it. I left with a sigh of relief that I had everything necessary to get this project done and was told that I should receive her S.S card in under 2 weeks. Just in time to do our taxes at the last minute!

Not only have I been trying to work on the legal side of things, but in the past couple of weeks we've also had Emily reassessed at Physical Therapy, had another home visit and reassessment by Help Me Grow and we had a routine home visit by the County's Health Department since they are helping us check into BCMH (Bureau for Children with Medical Handicaps) to see if we qualify for additional medical assistance so we can continue with PT once our insurance runs out.

Physical Therapy is going well and is definitely needed since Emily went through her major growth spurt in January. She's learned so many things since we started PT last spring but our insurance only covers 20 visits per calendar year and with the growth spurt after our visits ran out Emily got fairly tight all over again. She's been doing a lot of tiptoe walking again after she had leveled out for a couple of months and she still really struggles with getting much rotation out of her upper body. For example, if she scoots out of a seated position on the couch and ends up on her back she can't seem to get her arms underneath her to flip over onto her belly. She just sort of lies there and flails until gravity comes in for the assist. She's also been walking for almost 5 months now and just last week was able to stand up on her own from the middle of the floor instead of crawling to a person or piece of furniture to pull herself up to stand.

We have home visits from Nikki at Help Me Grow every few months and she came out for her visit last week. We caught her up on all of Em's new tricks since her last visit and shared any concerns we had regarding Emily's development. We set new goals for Emily and scheduled an appointment for her reassessment. One of my goals for Emily over the next couple of months was to get her to start standing up on her own without assistance... my overachieving daughter decided that the very next day was the day she wanted to tackle that goal and did it repeatedly throughout the day like it was nothing new to her! Go figure! Another one of my goals was to have her using more words on her own. Right now, without prompting, we will hear Emily say, "Whatisthat?" and "Whatisthis?" as well as the occasional Mama, Hi, and her assortment of animal sounds when she sees pictures or if we ask what certain animals say. She has said Dada a few times but seems to struggle a little more with that. It usually comes out as Naanaa.

On the day of our HMG home visit, Nikki had just come in and sat down as we were getting Emily up from her nap. After just a few minutes of adjusting to waking up, Emily decided Nikki was her new best friend! She shared books and toys with her and carried on her own conversations with her. It was fun to see her interacting so openly with someone she doesn't get to see very often and of course Nikki had a great time playing with her and seeing all of her new tricks. We enjoy Nikki's visits.

Our Health Department visit was pretty uneventful. Mary Ann came out for her second visit. (I think she was out last summer.) She initiated the BCMH paperwork for us last year but we received our application in late October and it was more complicated and personally prying than most of the stuff we had to go through for our adoption! The previous application came right as we were gearing up for the holidays and the busy season for me at work and I just didn't have it in me to do all the legwork then. We're going to try to take a second crack at it and see if we can qualify to get some government assistance to help pay for Emily's medical treatments/therapies after our insurance runs out. If we don't qualify we have to find some creative way to stretch the remaining 17 or 18 visits out for the rest of this year and pray Emily doesn't run into any major snags or any more ginormous growth spurts. Emily's "delays" and struggles are fairly minor but all of our individual skills are built on each other. Gross motor skills need to be fairly mastered before fine motor skills are well developed and fine motor skills need to be fairly mastered before things like speech are well developed. It's interesting how it all works together and like building blocks they all come together at some point. Our hope is that with a little work, Emily will be able to do all the things the other kids are able to do by the time she starts school and that any limitations that she has will be worked through by then. At that point she may never need PT or special services again, but we're learning as we go since we don't truly know what we're dealing with yet.

Wow, I'm sorry I'm rambling and we still haven't covered her Help Me Grow re-assessment. It's been a busy couple of weeks! I took Emily in this afternoon for her re-assessment which is used to determine if she's on target for things like gross motor skills, fine motor skills, social development, cognitive development, etc. For 30-45 minutes Emily played with her new best friend, Nikki, and Lori, the other lady helping with the testing.

Nikki & Emily during Help Me Grow Re-Assessment

They had her do things like stack blocks on top of each other, unwrap a toy from inside a piece of paper, fold a piece of paper, walk on a line on the floor, throw a ball, walk up and down steps, put toys in a container, put a toy in a box and put a lid on it, point at pictures on pages, point to body parts, and they also asked me quite a few questions about things I had or had not observed her doing around the house and how she played with other kids. They will compile the results from these assessments and taking into consideration her adjusted age for premature birth and institutionalization will be able to get an idea of whether she is meeting benchmarks for her adjusted age. This will determine what types of things we need to work on and how far she has come since her last assessment that was done last March. I should get the results back in a couple of weeks and will let you know what we find out!

Phew. That's it. Yes, it was long, but I wanted to give you an update on the medical side of things since I haven't talked about that stuff in a while.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Bobsled Baby!

Yesterday was Emily's first day of sledding... ever! We had ALL that snow a few days ago and then it was too windy to go right out and enjoy it (and I didn't feel like wading through knee-deep snow to pull my daughter around). We waited until it melted a bit and yesterday was the PERFECT day! It was nearly 50 degrees (!!!) outside by the time I got home from work and I was determined to take Em sledding before we lost possibly our last big snow day of the season. We have a "bunny hill" in the backyard so it was perfect for us.

Emily thought riding in her new sled was a hoot and was all grins and giggles. She loves going fast and having the wind blowing in her face. After a while, she discovered that she could lean over and drag her hand in the snow while I was pulling her.

It was a fun time and boy was I tired by the time we came back in the house! For some reason, Emily didn't seem too worn out by it all...

I forgot to share the following picture with you in my last entry. If you recall, over the weekend we spent quite a bit of time playing inside. Em is allowed some freedom to play in her bedroom by herself and I have trained my ears to listen to all the noises in her room to make sure she's not getting into something she shouldn't. However, what sounded like playing with her floor puzzle was actually a combination of floor puzzle playing and getting into a whole pack of diapers and creating a trail of diapers from one corner of her bedroom to the other and out into the hallway. It's a little reminiscent of Hansel and Gretel's trail of breadcrumbs!

Sunday, March 09, 2008


Today is a photo journal of the past several days... of the "almost" blizzard of 2008!

On Friday, Emily had physical therapy. It was predicted that we would get a lot of snow throughout the day so I had been listening to the news and watching the weather radar. We bundled up and drove carefully into town, went to the grocery store and made it back home without any problem.

We received quite a bit of snow throughout the day on Friday and it continued snowing until late afternoon on Saturday. While we were snow bound, Emily found some new ways to pass the time.

Programming web sites...

...and watching Mommy's screen saver of pictures of our family and friends. (She climbs up in the chair all by herself now with the help of a stool that she pushes around. This is where I found her while I was making cookies in the kitchen!)

Saturday evening Tom decided to shovel a path to his car and he even got brave enough to shovel most of the driveway out. We ended up canceling church and all church activities for Sunday. Maybe we can get another major snow storm next year at Daylight Savings Time! I actually got to sleep in on a Sunday!

We woke up to a beautiful landscape on Sunday morning. The gray, snowy skies of the past couple of days had passed through and we were greeted with sunshine and blue skies and near 40° temperatures. I stuck my head out the door and window to take some pictures and Tom ventured out to finish shoveling.

Welcome to our backporch! Care to have a seat?

Look! It's the *NEW* Tom Action Figure!

...neighborhood and car sold separately.

I handed Tom a yardstick so he could measure the snow on the top of the table on our deck. Yup, that's 28 inches!

Okay, so he accidentally let it slip between the gaps in the table top!

Supposedly, it was only 9 1/2 inches... but Marion officially recorded 14 inches of snow. We couldn't find too many places where the wind hadn't blown snow away or into drifts.

After shoveling and measuring, there was one final and major task to complete. Tom, being the ever-ready handy man was determined to climb up to the roof and clear all the snow away from our satellite dish so we could keep recording our shows on TiVo! (Tom gave up TV for Lent so we've been recording our favorites so we can watch them later.) Oh, yeah. Tom doesn't like ladders so this tells you how important this was to him!

And, just for another cute picture to add to today's entry. Here's the Mama Bear, Baby Bear, and Papa Bear shoe lineup for the weekend!

Happy Monday!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Our Blog Stats

Just some random stats on our blog today. These came from the free counter we have on the site from .
  • Since December 25, 2006 we've had 13,988 visits to our site!

  • Recently, the blog has been getting about 20 visits a day.

  • On average, there are about 12 of you that are checking the site on a near-daily basis.

  • Most of our new visitors are coming

  • Just between yesterday and so far today we have had visits from Cincinnati, Ohio; Canal Winchester, Ohio; Germantown, Maryland; San Francisco, California; Atlanta, Georgia; New Britain, Connecticut; Marion, Ohio; Mt. Gilead, Ohio; Spain; Indianapolis, Indiana; Flemington, New Jersey; and Little Rock, Arkansas. (This doesn't exactly mean this is where you live if you're reading this... but more likely this is where your internet provider is based out of.)
Thanks everyone! I never would have dreamed we would have nearly 14,000 hits after just 14 1/2 months.

Take care and be blessed!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Ice Storm and Crazy Hair!

Sorry, sports fans, there's nothing too exciting to write about today. Just an update on spending winter with the Hypes' and a cute bathtub picture of the kidlet.

We've been hit by winter storms at least once a week lately. This week's storm brought with it a LOT of ice (well, a lot for our neck of the woods). Last night around 9pm we heard a loud boom and I saw a bright flash out the back window right before we lost power. It wasn't just a flicker. Our power was down for the count. Being the ever-ready-Boy-Scout-wanna-be, I had the flashlight and candles lit within a minute or two. (Cell phones work great for lighting the path in the dark across the living room floor that was laden with land mine toys!) Since it seems to stay a little warmer upstairs, we set the pack n' play up in our bedroom and moved Emily from her crib to our room for the night. After already being asleep for over an hour she transferred to our room without even a whimper. We went to bed at 9:30 with the house at about 70 degrees and we woke up at 6:30 this morning with the house at 62 degrees.

School was delayed this morning due to the ice so it gave us a little more time to figure out what we were going to do. The Methodist church across the street still had power and the pastor went door to door and invited families to hang out at the church until the power came back on. They were making sandwiches and playing board games. Tom was planning on working out of the house today while he took care of Emily but we decided we would call my parents and see if they would mind taking in some refugees. We checked at noon and still had no power and the house was down to 58 degrees. It was a good thing we left. The power did come back on until sometime in the middle of the afternoon and we and the people on our street are cozy in our homes again.

I wouldn't say we're getting stir crazy yet, but if spring doesn't come soon we're going to be getting desperate for things to do to keep us entertained. Emily still loves to play in the bathtub so when there's nothing else to do we fill the tub and dump in some toys. She was laughing up a storm the other night and was getting more brave than normal. I took the bathmat out recently and haven't replaced it yet, so it's a little more slick in the tub than usual. She thought that was pretty funny. She got brave enough a couple of times to try to lay down on her back in the water. And, she splashed. A LOT! I had to do a little extra mopping when we were done. She also found it to be quite funny to put the sopping wet washcloth on her head and "hide" from me. She had some pretty funky hair when she yanked it off to show me where she was!

Happy Winter Y'All! Spring's not far away!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Just so I don't lose this.

Background: It's waaay after Christmas and I've been reading a book I heard about on the radio at Christmastime. It's called "God Is In the Small Stuff at Christmas" by Bruce & Stan (seriously... they didn't put their last names on the cover) I've been done with the book for a month or so but have been holding on to it because I wanted to make a note of one of the stats in there. I'm posting it here for 3 reasons. 1) I want to write it down so I can clean off my shelf and pass the book to someone else who'd like to read it. 2) If I write it down on paper somewhere, I'll lose it
and never be able to find it when I need it. And 3) there are still people all over the world reading this blog - I know, surprising, huh?!? - and it might give someone a little extra food for thought that they've been needing.

The chapter I was reading was on the prophets and the prophecies surrounding the Christmas story. You see, God didn't keep his divine plan a secret, he dropped clues all along the way. He left a trail of breadcrumbs even 1,400 years prior to the birth of Christ when he told Moses the Savior of the world would be born of a woman and would be a descendant of Abraham. So, here goes.

"Bible scholars point to more than forty clear prophecies that refer to the Messiah, all of which were filled by Jesus Christ alone. They include:
  • That His childhood would be spent in Egypt;
  • That He would ride triumphantly into Jerusalem on a donkey;
  • That He would suffer for the sins of the world;
  • That He would be hung on a cross, but contrary to the custom, none of His bones would be broken;
  • That men would gamble for His clothes;
  • His exact dying words;
  • That He would come back to life after death.
What are the odds that a person could fulfill all of the Bible prophecies about the Messiah as Jesus did? One mathematician, who calculated those odds, illustrated the answer with the following analogy: Suppose that the State of Texas, some 267,000 square miles, could be covered three feet deep with silver dollars. (He calculated it would take 7.5 trillion cubic feet of silver dollars to accomplish this task.) Only one of those silver dollars would be marked with a red X and buried randomly in the gigantic pile. Finally, a blindfolded man would be dropped from a plane anywhere over Texas and allowed to stumbled around for days, knee-deep in silver dollars, before he would be allowed to select just one coin. The odds that the man would select the silver dollar with the X are the same odds as one man satisfying ALL the prophecies of the Messiah."

Now, I've never been one of those deep diggers that sorted through all the prophecies and tried to analyze each and every one but those stats just really struck a chord with me. Hopefully you'll find them as interesting as I did.

Thanks for humoring my note space for today! What do you think?

Be Blessed!
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