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Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Morning Moments





Our Lady of Mercy Christmas Show

Ryan sang in the Christmas Show at Our Lady of Mercy on December 18. Here are some photos and clips from that event.



Isn't he just so handsome?




Just want to kiss those cheeks!




Ryan's best Mercy buddy, Lucas.




Ryan at a classroom poetry event.



Annalea loves her cousin Katie!!

Here they are in their coordinating pj's.

Christmas Cookies -- An Annual Tradition

Every year, Ryan's two best buddies, Ashwin and Frazier, come over to help us decorate cookies to leave for Santa. It is always fun...and yummy.



Sunday, December 14, 2008

Annalea demonstrates her latest skills





"I'm not sure about this Santa character"

Annalea has not yet warmed up to St. Nick.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Annalea, meet Roxy



Annalea has a few words to say

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A special appeal for Aleksey

Today I received the email below from a friend I made through my adoption. I wanted to share it hear with the hopes someone who reads this could indeed by Aleksey's forever family.


Hi everyone,

Some of you may know I work with an organization now that advocates for special needs children needing homes....

I am advocating for a very special little boy named Aleksey. Aleksey is an orphan who is looking for his forever family. He is 3 1/2 years old with brown hair and big blue eyes. He was born with spina bifida and is described as very sweet with a great personality and very cognitively able. His spina bifida affects the usage of his legs, he is able to pull up and walk while holding on to something, but is not yet walking on his own. With physical therapy and perhaps a walker or braces, the prognosis for Aleksey to walk is very, very good. Unfortunately, Aleksey is in a country that institutionalizes special needs children the day they turn 4 years old. Once in the mental institution, Aleksey will have no schooling, no therapies, and no chance to be adopted. The death rate in this particular institution is quite high due to lack of food, lack of heat, and very little medical care. Currently, he is in a much better orphanage, but will be transferred in early March 2009 when he turns 4.

I know not everyone is in a position to adopt, but if you could forward Aleksey's information to anyone you think might be interested, I would really appreciate it. Don't worry, I won't be forwarding you anymore unsolicited appeals for the waiting kids, but Aleksey's plight has really touched my heart. If finances and circumstances would permit, we would gladly adopt him. As it stands, we know God has a family picked out for Aleksey... they just need to find him! If you would like more information on Aleksey, you can scroll down on this e-mail, check out his listing at www.reecesrainbow.org/angelboys.htm, or e-mail Andrea Roberts, Executive Director of Reece's Rainbow at bamaroberts@comcast.net.




Aleksey

Boy, Born March 4, 2005

SIGNIFICANT RISK, PLEASE ADOPT ME SOON!!

This happy, precious little boy was born with spina bifida. He has brown hair and bright blue eyes.

One of our adoptive families visited with him in March of 2008, and describes him as " having a personality that will make you wrapped around his finger in no time. He was such a bright little boy, he appears to be cognitively very aware and able. He is a bright and sweet little boy and will be a joy to any family."

Another of our adoptive families visited with Aleksey (Alosha is his nickname) in July of 2008, and this is what they have to say of him: "He is an absolute sweetie pie. Out of all the children there, I would have chosen him, hands down if we were able to adopt another child at this time. He has such a sweet demeanor and his smile could be seen across the playground. It is almost as if he was flirting with me, the way we kept exchanging smiles and glances. I can tell that he has so much potential. He is able to pull himself up to a standing position and he can walk along the playpen railing if he can hold onto it. He can follow along in little games and he appears to catch on to things very quickly. When I took a picture of him and then showed it to him, he smiled and asked for more in Russian. I continued to take pictures of him and I could tell it made his day to have the attention. I bet he can live a near normal life if he just had a family to give him the love and attention that every child deserves. I hope that he finds a family soon or I might just have to go back and get him myself!!"

We do have additional photos, including one of his spine which you could share with a surgeon to inquire about correcting it for him.

Many children with special needs have been adopted from this well-taken-care-of orphanage, where the director truly cares about the children and desperately wants them to find families instead of not surviving in the mental institution. Aleksey is 3 now, so he is the perfect age to bring home and benefit from therapy and a loving family environment.

Won't you be the one to give him the life he deserves?

Married couples only may apply

No more than 45 years between parent and child

No stated family size restrictions

Total with travel approx $22k

Both parents for 2 1/2 weeks to attend court

Both parents return home for 3 weeks, and only one must return to complete the adoption for approx 4-5 days

Please contact Andrea directly for more information



I have $150 in my grant fund towards the cost of my adoption!





Kelly Shamsey, Program Coordinator
Reece╩╝s Rainbow Prayer Warriors Outreach Ministry
www.reecesrainbow.org

I need to install one of these in my back yard

Monday, December 1, 2008

Too Cute

Ryan lost his tooth yesterday and this is the note he left the tooth fairy.



Monday, November 10, 2008

Annalea's First Encounter with that Purple Dinosaur


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Photos


My little bunny.





Mommy dressed up too.



Ryan went trick or treating with his buddy Ashwin.



And he also gave out candy later in the evening.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Annnalea locks up another first

Annalea was not particularly thrilled about her first haircut.




Food temporarily relieved her stress...but not for long...





Finally...can we go now?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Christening Photos





Sunday, October 26, 2008

Quite the contrast

So today we decided to pull out Ryan's Christening video from over 7 years ago. Ryan was 2 months old for his Christening and Annalea was 13 months. Quite a difference in temperment between the two...not just because of age mind you. Note what the Der Hayr says at the end of the clip...Ryan apparently was one of "the easiest baptisms ever."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Today was Christening Day

As an Armenian, being a child of God is no trivial task.

It started out very light, and Annalea was enjoying her self as usual.




Then the ceremony began. First the family must meet in the foyer to denounce Satan so that Annalea could be allowed through the doors of the church.




As the ceremony rolled on, Annalea was getting a little concerned. First of all, "Who is this person holding me?" (Her Godparents both live out of town and she doesn't really know them yet.) And, "What is this guy doing with this pitcher?"




The big moment..."Hey, I had a bath last night!!"




The ceremony ends with congrats from the Der Hayr. "Please, can I have my bottle now?"




Photo Op

Sunday, October 12, 2008

She's makin' strides!

Annalea loves using her Teletubbies walker!!

Friday, October 3, 2008

She had her cake and ate it!!

Finally!!! We celebrated Annalea's birthday as a family only 16 days late...but you know the saying. Annalea has discovered chocolate!!!





Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Instant Bond

Last weekend my friend Nancy and her two kids visited with us. Nancy and I met through Hopscotch Adoptions. Because we both lived in the Washington, DC metro area, we were able to form a strong friendship. We both have 7 year old biological sons, and we both adopted our daughters from Armenia. Both girls were relinquished at birth to Nork Orphanage in Yerevan. Serine, who is almost 2, came home in May of 2007 and Annalea came home in May of 2008. As you probably are figuring out, our families have a considerable bond. We hope the girls further develop that bond as they grow up together.

Going Green

Last week Ryan received his green belt in Tai Kwon Do. Here are some of the highlights of the graduation.















Ryan's two best buddies Frazier and Ashwin also got their green belts.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A soggy situation salvaged...or

Readoption completed!!!

Today we had court with Justice Greenberg at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Rockville, Maryland.

The first thing the Judge told us when he sat down is that Annalea is a very lucky girl. Well, lots of people tell us that. But this was for a unique reason.

Last weekend, Justice Greenberg's chambers had a flood. We already knew this because the location for the court proceeding had been moved to the courthouse across the street. He told us that lots of the computer equipment was destroyed because the water came from the ceiling. He also told us that amazingly not one document got wet, with one exception: our re-adoption file.

So all week, the adoption clerk had apparently been drying out our file and reconstructing it. Luckily the original birth certificate and adoption decree from Armenia looked to be in pretty good shape because of the heavy paper it is on.

Judge Greenberg gave us a souvenier. The adoption decree apparently suffered quite a bit of damage (see photo below). So they made a copy of it and used the copy as the original and the judge signed that one as the official decree. The one with the hole in it is now ours as a souvenier...and the judge even signed it!



Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Annalea is One!!!

Today is Annalea's first birthday. It is hard to believe she is already one! It feels like we just got her...oh yeah, we have had her her for only 3.5 months.

We don't have a celebration set for tonight. Ryan's back to school night is tonight, so Kevin and I will be out this evening starting at 6. My wonderful babysitter Natalie will be here with the kids.

Our immediate family celebration is slated for tomorrow evening. We have two things to celebrate tomorrow. In addition to Annalea's birthday, we will be celebrating her "re-adoption." Tomorrow at 9:00, Kevin, Annalea, and I will be standing before Judge Greenberg for her adoption hearing. This is something we must do in order for Annalea to be considered our child under Maryland law. We will then be able to get a Maryland birth certificate and be able to apply for her passport...which will provide proof of her U.S. citizenship. Right now, Annalea is classified only as a permenant resident.

Monday, September 15, 2008

With gusto

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Funny...love this one

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

For the record

Annalea is officially on one afternoon nap a day...hurray!!! Now I can take her to my new gym in the morning and she can play with the nannies while I get my own workout!!!!

Some Health Advice for Women

Do you have feelings of inadequacy?

Do you suffer from Shyness?

Do you sometimes wish you were more assertive?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist about Chardonnay.

Chardonnay is the safe, natural way to feel better and more confident about yourself and your actions. Chardonnay can help ease you out of your shyness and let you tell the world that you are ready and willing to do just about anything.

You will notice the benefits of Chardonnay almost immediately and with a regimen of regular doses you can overcome any obstacles that prevent you from living the life you want to live. Shyness and awkwardness will be a thing of the past and you will discover many talents you never knew you had. Stop hiding and start living, with Chardonnay.

Chardonnay may not be right for everyone. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use Chardonnay. However, women who wouldn't mind nursing or becoming pregnant are encouraged to try it.

Side effects may include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, incarceration, erotic lustfulness, loss of motor control, loss of clothing, loss of money, loss of virginity, delusions of grandeur, table dancing, headaches, dehydration, dry mouth, and a desire to sing Karaoke and play all-night rounds of Strip Poker, Truth or Dare and naked Twister.

WARNINGS:
The consumption of Chardonnay may make you think you are whispering when you are not.

The consumption of Chardonnay may cause you to tell your friends over and over again that you love them.

The consumption of Chardonnay may cause you to think you can sing.

The consumption of Chardonnay may lead you to believe that ex lovers are really dying for you to call/text them at 4 in the morning.

The consumption of Chardonnay may make you think you can logically converse with members of the opposite sex without spitting.

The consumption of Chardonnay may create the illusion that you are tougher, smarter, faster and better looking then most people.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A play date with Meghan


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Off topic, but a must read

This was lifted from my very Republican sister in law's blog Desperate Irish Housewife today. By the way, I loved Sarah's speech...and I'm starting to feel better about this ticket.

This Could Spell Disaster!

BREAKING NEWS FROM TODAY'S BOSTON HERALD:

"Yes, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin has a lot on her plate: a pregnant teen daughter, a son on his way to Iraq, an infant with Down syndrome and a looming national election."But must her hair suffer?

With her long, straight, often pinned-up locks, Palin looks one humid day away from fronting a Kiss cover band.“It’s about 20 years out of date,” said Boston stylist Mario Russo of the Alaska governor’s ’do. “Which goes to show how off she might be on current events.”Say it ain't so, America!

WE CAN'T LOSE THE HAIRDRESSER VOTE!!!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

First Day of Second Grade

Ryan had his first day of school today. I forgot my camera...but luckily I had my iphone with me!




Ryan with his buddy Lucas

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bad health and travel is my excuse...

...for not posting in a while. I have been sick with this awful virus that refused to leave. And those of us who are parents know that parenting a small child when you are sick is just so painful!!

It took a little while for Kevin to figure out that I needed his help. And to make things worse, Annalea decided to start waking up at 5:30 right around the time I got sick. So after a few early mornings and my health continuing to deteriorate, Kevin finally stepped up to the plate and took over morning duty. That was a huge help.

Next week Ryan starts school. Second grade at Our Lady of Mercy is mainly preparation for First Communion from what I understand. I am told the second grade teacher is a great religion teacher. So maybe I will learn something from Ryan this year considering I do not have the Catholic upbringing.

Another great thing about next week is that my new babysitter starts. Her name is Natalie, and she will come two mornings a week. I am looking forward to the free time on a consistent basis.

One more exciting thing (well at least it is for me) is that my new gym is opening on Sept. 10. Lifetime Fitness is opening what they refer to as an Onyx level club 7 minutes from my house. Onyx basically means the best of everything. The club features locker rooms with cherry lockers, granite counters and limestone trim, hot tub, steam room, and sauna. The babysitting is awesome and is available most of the day for only $6 a month per child. The spa features massage, facials, manicures, and a hair salon (which I can use while my kids are in babysitting). A "chef driven" cafe features pretty good food from what I understand. And it features all the cardio and weight training you would ever want along with classes (of course pilates reformer). So this is how I will be spending my time...not too shabby. The club I belong to now is, on the other hand, pretty shabby, so I am ready for this!!

Other than that, the kids are great. Ryan is a fantastic big brother. When I was sick, he was a huge help...HUGE!!! Annalea is doing amazing. She is crawling at warp speed now, and is pulling up. No cruising yet, but I know that is coming soon. Oh, and she has really curly hair!!!

Friday, August 15, 2008

I am so thankful for my "Angels"

Last weekend I attended the 2008 Armenian Children's Reunion. The people in this group have many things in common, but the strongest link is that we all worked with Robin Sizemore to complete our adoptions in Armenia.



We call ourselves the Armenian Angels. We are all there to celebrate each other's adoptions and to support each other through the hurdles. We have formed some very strong friendships through this group. Living proof of this is my friendship with Nancy, who adopted Serine just over a year ago. Serine was in the same orphanage as Annalea and in the same room with the same nannies. And our biological sons are the same age and are the best of buddies.

So I am posting today to express my appreciation for knowing this very special group of people and also to thank Robin for bringing us together. I asked Robin in the reunion to say a few words:


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

It should be no surprise...

...that she likes pilaf.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Annalea made a new friend on our trip

While we were staying at a friends house in RI, Annalea got to discover dogs...probably the most kid friendly breed on the planet.



Monday, July 28, 2008

Annalea and Ryan have a new cousin

Born July 26 at 9:49 p.m.
8 pounds
Baby Girl -- name tbd

Shown here with elated Mommy and Daddy

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

She is ready!!!

My sister-inlaw Jackie, and future godmother of Annalea, is pregnant. She is due NOW, and will be surely a new mom by this weekend. Please keep her in your prayers for a speedy delivery!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tender Morning Moments

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Future Swim Team Competitor

Pincher Grasp Perfected

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I love the Ergo!!

I wore Annalea for over an hour this afternoon...even brought a full laundry basket down the stairs while wearing Annalea in the Ergo. It is so comfy, I wish I had gotten it sooner!! Here is Ergo's ad on YouTube:

Update on Carriers

I received the hip hammock today. I've decided the Ergo is worth the extra 70 bucks. It is much more comfy...although not as easy to use as the hammock.

Happy Birthday Annalea!!!

Today Annalea turned 10 months old. As promised, here is a video of her enjoying her latest new skill of clapping (and crawling).

Turbo bonding???

I haven't written much lately because I just don't seem to have the time these days.

Annalea is demanding my full attention. She has definitely bonded to me. She does not like it when I put her down. When she finally settles down on the floor, she does not want me to get up or even attempt to leave the room. So no unloading the dishwasher until she naps, kwim? I have gotten some suggestions to use a baby sling, so I am shopping for one now. I've got a couple I am trying.

The Baby Bjorn is just too uncomfortable for a baby this weight. It kills my shoulders. I even splurged and bought the active which has lumbar support, but still it is not my favorite.



The Ergo Baby is wonderful. If I had a newborn, I would buy that in a heartbeat. It is not cheap, but it is very comfortable for both mommy and baby, and the fabric is so so soft. What I like about it is that you can wear it with baby in front, back, or on your hip. I have been wearing her on my hip, and she likes it. She does not like the front because she constantly has to turn her head to see what is going on.



I also discovered a new carrier called the Playtex Hip Hammock. I ordered one from diapers.com and will let you know how that is. It is only $30, so if that one works, the Ergo will go back to the store along with the Bjorn.



Well time to start my day! I will try to post more. I will also get some new pics and movies up soon. Annalea is now clapping her hands, and it is so adorable!!!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Still working on her technique...

Saturday, July 5, 2008

A hundred and twenty five books

First of all, this post is way late. This event happened two days before we left for Armenia. Then I got busy...but I am finally writing about this very worthwhile story.

Kevin works for Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting firm. His co-workers are amazing and so supportive. They threw Kevin a surprise shower at Beth Mahan's house. It was lovely. But the best part of it was the very special and thoughtful gift they presented.

Each employee purchased a book for Annalea and Ryan. The books were picked from a list of the most highly rated and awarded children's books ever--for ages ranging from zero to teen. Glued to the inside each book was this label:




We will treasure this wonderful library for many years to come.

Thank you to everyone who purchased a book and/or who came to the party.

A special thanks to Sharon Dougherty, who orchestrated this project, Sharon Leavell, who made the labels, Beth Mahan, who hosted the lovely party, and Robin Portman, who supported this amazing endeavor.




Thursday, July 3, 2008

Bonding

It has been a month since we have brought Annalea home. She has adjusted very well. As I mentioned in an earlier post, she is even sleeping through the night now...11 straight hours consistently.

Another PAP (prospective adoptive parent) recently asked me how the bonding was going. She thought the question might be too personal and added that I don't need to answer if I thought it was. Well I am willing to share this with the world because we feel so very blessed and want to let others who are going through the process learn what to expect.

Granted, every child is different, but I think this information will be valuable to anyone who will be taking custody of their little one soon. Some of the articles don't tell you this stuff, and I wish I had known what to expect so that my mind would have been more at ease.

When we first met Annalea at the orphanage on May 19, she was adorable, but not nearly as interactive as she is today. She didn't really smile much. A couple of times when I was holding her, she arched her back away from me. She also had this rocking motion when she was sitting. I read up on this and it is a form of self stimulation that is very typical of institutionalized children. Typically it dissipates with time. It was not severe, but still it did concern us a little.

This is the day we first met her on May 19:

We came back to the apartment after that first day with understandable concern. Will Annalea be a happy child? Is she going to be able to bond to us? Will she smile?



Two days later, we picked up Annalea to bring her to the apartment. Here is some footage at the orphanage of that day:

Sidenote--check out the layers of clothing on an 80 degree day.

You can see that she is much more receptive to us after three days of visits with her.



As for how she is doing today, I shot this video this morning:

Need I say more?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Good Life


Sunday, June 29, 2008

She loves her rubber duckie!!


It's not a fluke!!!!

Annalea slept through the night...7 p.m. to 6 a.m...not one, not two, but three nights in a row!!!!! My mom said it was her birthday present to me. I don't think she will ever top that one (unless she gives me diamond earrings).

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A movie about our journey...

It was fun making this, even though I was up until 2 a.m.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

More Pics from Today




Annalea loves to swing!!





You can see how much she is enjoying it. The swing was a gift from Grandma, who unfortunately could not push her because she hurt her knee and cannot walk today. But Kokor rose to the occassion.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The love is overflowing

Annalea is enjoying tons of attention everywhere we go. But the love she gets at home is more than plentiful, and it is making her a happier baby every day.

That is because right now there are many sources of that love here! Grandma is here as I mentioned earlier. And yesterday Kokor arrived.

A little background on how Kokor got her name. The word for maternal aunt in Armenian is Morkor. When I was a child I couldn't say Morkor properly at first, so Kokor is what stuck. I think it is cuter anyway.

Kokor is my mom's sister. She is the eldest of the family. She is a Virgo like Annalea. I don't know what that means, but if anyone wants to chime in on Virgo traits, feel free. Kokor never had children (although I think she would have been an amazing parent). So she really is like a second mom to me. She and her husband who we call the traditional "Uncle," used to take us everywhere...even to Europe one time.

It is so much fun having my mom and aunt here visiting. I know Annalea is flourishing because of all the love they are giving her. What a treat to watch these two Armenian women fuss over her...just like the women in the streets of Yerevan...but with ten times the love.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Survival Gear

I am finding that having a baby in 2008 is a lot easier than it was in 2001. The gear has really come a long way.

I used to work in the infant toy industry as a marketing manager for the Playskool brand. There was sometimes overlap between infant toys and the juvenile products industry (all the stuff you would find at the baby stores, like high chairs, strollers, etc.).

I recall the word "innovation" was used quite a bit in our meetings. Innovation in toys? Well yes. And that buzz word is even more important in the juvenile products area. Making mommy's job easier is their mission.

So I say thanks to the following companies (and a special thank you to those who gave me their gently used gear):

Platex for the Diaper Genie II (a huge improvement from the original diaper genie we had with Ryan):



Britax for the safest car set on the market. Thanks Tammi!


Evenflo for the great exersaucer that Annalea uses. Thanks Nancy!




Bob, for the Revolution stroller that can go anywhere. Thanks Craigslist!

Maclaren, for the two great lightweight umbrella strollers we use. Thanks Craigslist!

Peg Perego, for the best high chair on the market. Thanks Beth!




Monday, June 16, 2008

Should I laugh or should I cry??

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Chatterbox

Annalea continues to progress with her milestones. When we first took her home, she didn't make many sounds beyond cooing. But today she started babbling quite alot...she obviously is looking forward to having Daddy come home!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sorry to be such a showoff