Wednesday, January 25, 2012

American Girl

Polina's birthday was in October about a week before our court date.  A good friend of mine Romney, you may remember her guest post when we were in Russia together, sent her a Bitty Baby for her birthday.

I wrapped it and took it to Russia and had Polina open it the day Romney and I went to visit her. Well if you read my previous post, you know how big of a deal it is to wrap your children up in snow suits in Russia.  Here is Polina in hers, you can see how happy she was to wear it.  :)

Well as you can imagine when we got home I was flipping through the American Girl catalog which they so graciously send directly to my home now, since they have our address, and I saw this!
Who knew!!  So of course we had to get it.  So here is Princess P with her first American Girl Doll purchase.

Home 8 weeks

Polina has been home almost 8 weeks now.  She is 2 1/4  years old.  We had her hearing and speech tested at Children's Mercy last week and her ears looked good and she could hear fine. After the hearing test she was evaluated by the speech specialist.  Polina did great.  She tested within "normal" range for both spoken and receptive language.  The doctor was really impressed with how many words she knew.  I guessed about 50 words.  She knows the signs for about 25 of those words.  Here she is at her evaluation.

I've decided that some activities would be good so we have tried out some classes around town.  We gave Kindermusik a try, swim lessons, and dance class.  We have decided to stick with Kindermusik and swimming.  We chose Kindermusik because it seemed to be an attachment friendly activity vs. dancing where I had to sit behind a closed door (probably not the best idea for now). We chose swimming because Polina loves the water and her brother takes lessons at the same time.  Plus the pool will be a lot more fun this summer if we get started now.

Attachment:  I can't really say where we are with attachment but I can say we are making progress.  Polina has never had a problem making eye contact and she has always let me rock her to sleep.  With that said, Polina knows that I'm her main caregiver and she seeks me out in a crowd.  She comes to me when she's hurt or wants something.  She snuggles in when I carry her.  She trust me and we have a great time together.  During the week it is just her and I until about 2:30pm on most days. With all that being said she has definitely attached most closely with the dog.  Poor brandy, that dog even has to ride in the stroller with Polina when we go for walks.  LOL

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Products I love - Signing Time

I have read several times that sign language is a great tool for internationally adopted kids.  When we got Polina she only spoke a few Russian words but she understood just about everything spoken to her in Russian.  So knowing that, I bought a DVD called Signing Time.  I played it in the car every time we went somewhere.  Polina loved it and so did my boys.  All three of them learned all of the signs within a couple of trips to the store. It worked so well we bought Volume 2.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


I have a good friend that does photography.  She has photographed two of my sisters' weddings as well as most family photos.  She photographed Polina and they came out is a sample.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

If you are planning to adopt from Russia read this post about "Why I love Marriott!"

I have been meaning to make this post for quite a while now, to help fellow adoptive parents when they travel.  When we selected AAC as our agency, one of the reasons was because the regions where they work were all close to a Marriott.  Joe travels a lot for work and as a result we have earned a lot of Marriott points as well as platinum status.  I wanted to talk about this because it saved us close to 20k during our adoption travel.

First if you can get to a Gold status with Marriott by the time you travel you will often get free breakfast, free internet, and often free drinks.  To give you an idea on that savings, our breakfast would have been about $25 per person per day (2 people x 21 days = about $1050.  Our internet was 4000 Rubles for a week per device.  We had 4 devices which made the bill 16000 rubles for one week.  We were there for 4 weeks = about $2100.  Now I'm sure there are ways to cut back like not having access everyday all day long or just using 1 device but when it's free its nice!  And trust me, that drink at the end of the day was so nice.  

Second thing that was great about the Marriott was the Executive lounge at the Marriott Grand.  I don't know about the other hotels, but when we stayed at the Grand in Moscow, it was awesome!  There is access to the lounge from both the 8 and 9th floor.  With Marriott status, you can have all day access to the lounge.  This is where we ate breakfast every morning (they even had a highchair for Polina).  They serve drinks (coffee/water/soda) and snacks all day long and then from 5-8 they serve appetizers and soda, beer, and wine.  All of this is free!  

Third, and probably the biggest is that we were able to use our Marriott points to pay for our flights.  We flew United and a round trip ticket was 60k miles.  We were able to exchange our Marriott points for United miles and paid for all of our flights that way.  There is a trick though...when you go to exchange the points for Miles you need to book at least a week hotel stay at that time because you will get a better exchange rate on your points.  I think if you do it that way, it's almost a 1 for 1.  The other thing I should point out is that Polina was 2 when we came home which meant she needed a full fair ticket.  We were able to buy her a one way ticket for 30k points.  This is a big deal because the airlines will charge crazy amounts of money for a one way ticket so using your points is a great way to avoid that excessive charge.

Now you may be asking yourself how in the world could I ever earn all those points...
1. Get a Marriott credit card ASAP and use it to pay for EVERYTHING!
2. When you open your card look for one that will give you "stays" for opening it or bonus points.
3. Have both you and your spouse open separate cards using the same Marriott number.  
4. Have your parents open cards using your Marriott number.  Assuming they have good credit and are willing to.
5. Ask anyone you know that is traveling to stay at a Marriott an use your number when they check in (anyone can use your number, not just you).
6.  Watch for deals on the Marriott website that offer additional "stays".
7. Check to see if you can use your card to pay your agency fees.

Feel free to contact me if you have questions.  Hopefully this post will help someone.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Another picture.

"By adopting a child and helping them reach their potential they help us reach ours.  An adopted child is not an unwanted child; to the contrary.  They are a child who was searched for, prayed for, cried for, begged for; received by arms that ached making empty hearts full. Love is meant to be shared"  Author Unknown. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Home 1 month.

Man that went by quick! I'm not sure how to structure this post so it might just be random.

I'll start with my biggest issue - FOOD!  Polina was a picky eater from the day we picked her up and we have spent the last 6 weeks trying to figure out what the problem is.  We have tried to feed her all of the things the orphanage told us that she ate but her lips were sealed.  She only wanted carbohydrates.  When we were in Russia she ate bananas and apples but within a few days of being home those were out too.  I finally broke down and took her to the doctor to ask for help and he gave me NOTHING!  So I started researching blogs and in my reading what hit me was when another adoptive mom started talking about her child taking control.  A light bulb went off and I thought the food issues might just be about control.  I can understand wanting to control something in your world but food was not going to work.  So that night at dinner, I chopped up her chicken and once again she refused her dinner holding out for the carbs.  She went to bed that night without dinner which didn't seem to bother her.  The next morning we went to battle again.  I told her if she wanted her cereal bar, she had to take a bite of the banana.  She refused and when she threw her fit, I put her in the pack and play next to me an drank my coffee.  She had a fit and then we tried again.  This went on for about an hour then I gave her a bath and brought her back to her high chair...guess what, she ate the banana.  The later that day she was eating steamed carrots, apples, hamburger.  It was amazing. She's still not a big eater but at least she is opening up.

Attachment...she is doing awesome!  The boys love her and she just acts like she has always been here.  Today I took her to the car wash with me an sat her on my lap while we went through.  I probably wouldn't have done this but the boys really wanted to go through the car wash before they took the Christmas lights down and I just didn't know how many more days they would have them up. So I caved....With the suds hitting the window, Polina was looking up at me to see if she was going to be okay.  It was awesome to see that sign of attachment.  She still cries when I leave but seems okay with leaving me (her and daddy went to Target the other day).

The girl loves shoes!  She walks around the house all the time making the sign for shoes.  I think its because she loves to go outside so much.  But I have to tell you when the wind chill is 12 degrees I'm not taking her out!  Gymboree had a sale the other day....need I say more??  Well some cute little pink shoes came in the mail today and she insisted on putting them on.  When I say insisted I mean she threw herself down on the floor and sobbed...not because I said no but because I wasn't doing it fast enough.

Polina's brothers are awesome with her.  I can remember telling the judge that Jaxon might struggle to adjust since he's been the baby for so long, but I seriously can not believe what a awesome brother he has become.  He plays with her and watches out for her, he will even get her out of the crib when she wakes from her nap.

She still prefers me over dad but she'll let daddy put her to bed.  We are so enjoying our little bundle of joy.  I smile everyday.  I'm just so glad that we had the courage to take that leap of faith.  This has been the most amazing journey for our family.  :)