Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas Gifts Galore!

Some of you may think I'm referring to the huge pile of Christmas gifts that Alivia received this year, but I'm not. Two of my internet friends who have each been waiting months and months for referals for baby girls from Tver have each received their referals! One of them received hers a couple weeks ago and the other received hers just today! I'm so excited for both of them! It made me remember the incredibly intense combination of joy, fear, hope and anticipation that I felt on the day I received my own referal--just a couple days before Mother's Day this past May. For both of my friends, like me, this will be their first child. It's an unbelievably emotional time and, surprisingly, one that it's so easy to allow to fade into distant memory. My Christmas Wish for both of them and for me is that we never allow that to happen.

So today I sent out cyber hugs to my dear Web friends, patient waiters and soon to be Moms. May every Christmas of your future be as blessed and joyful as this one has turned out to be! Merry Christmas and the Happiest of New Years to you both!

~ Jeana

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

The last couple days have been challenging. Alivia is still sick, but is slowly getting better. She has also become very clingy and wants to be held all the time. I'm hoping this is just related to her being sick and not a new phase in her development. This morning was nice, though. Alivia enjoyed sitting in Mommy's lap and helping Mommy unwrap presents. I would rip off a strip of paper, then Alivia would rip one off. She thought that was a great game! She also liked just playing with the paper once we got it off the package. I think the paper was more fun than the presents.

Alivia loves the Winnie-the-Pooh rocking chair that Santa brought her. She sat in it and rocked for a while then wanted to sit in my lap and rock while I rocked her chair with my foot. Alivia also got a Pooh easy chair. It's not quite as much fun as a rocking chair, but she likes it, too. It's nice for climbing up and down--one of her new skills! Thank you, Auntie Gil and Uncle Justin for her lovely Pooh easy chair!

Later this morning Alivia and I will be going over to Gran and Papa's house. We have lots more presents there as well as dinner! Yum! I'll have more photos later, but thought everyone might enjoy these from our first Christmas morning together. Alivia was having a bad hair morning, but we'll fix that before we head out to Gran's.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

~ Jeana

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Busiest Month of the Year?

This past week has been a rough one. Alivia has been very sick with a nasty cold. She has spiked fevers off and on and is suffering from a ferocious cough, a nasty bout of congestion and all the other trimmings. True to her nature, she hasn't been as fussy as one might expect. She's certainly done her share of whining, but overall she's still been her sweet little self most of the time. Thank God!

Yesterday I managed to get the outside lights put up while Alivia napped. I tried to take her for a walk last night to see all the neighborhood lights, but she suddenly developed an aversion to her stroller and we had to cut it short. Even at only 16 lbs. she's just too heavy to carry for very long. Maybe we'll try again this evening. The temperature is in the 70's here at night right now, so it's beautiful weather for it!

During her nap today I wrapped all the Christmas presents. All I have left to do on Christmas Eve is put togther her Winnie-the-Pooh rocking chair. I did save out a couple gifts to give her on New Year's Day, too. Those still have to be wrapped... I also have to quit going out to the shops... I bought another gift for her today. Bed, Bath, and Beyond had these cute little table and chairs sets on sale for $20. That will be one of her New Year's gifts, I think.

This week we have lots of appointments... Alivia will be meeting her new early intervention teacher Monday morning for an evaluation of her needs. Then on Tuesday she has her first physical therapy appointment. Sometime this week (I can't remember which day and didn't write it down--I have to call tomorrow to verify) I have an appointment with my doctor. Then there are a couple work-related holiday parties to go to on Monday and Wednesday... I'm going to be ready for the holiday break by the end of the week, for sure!

We're planning to go to St. Augustine on Friday with my parents to see the Nights of Lights display. They do a great little train tour through the historic district. I think Alivia will enjoy it. Hopefully she will be over her cold by then. I'll try to get some new photos when she's feeling a bit better--and definitely some on Christmas Day!

Cheers and Greetings of the Season!

~ Jeana

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Getting into the Spirit

Well, we have almost all of our Christmas shopping done and the tree has been decorated. I'm so excited about this first Christmas with Alivia. She hasn't any idea what it's all about, but I'm still looking forward to it. I know the next few years will be even more exciting as she starts to figure out what is going on. We also got her first photo with Santa last week. She was so funny--not afraid of him at all. She took a few moments to study him (that's the photo I ended up getting) and then she pulled on his beard, bit his finger and pulled on his beard again.

I've been thinking about Christmas traditions and trying to decide what we will do. One of the things I'm keen on is saving one of her gifts to give to her on New Year's Day. The Russian tradition is to have a New Year's tree and exchange New Year's gifts. I'm also hoping to incorporate a Russian dish or two into our holiday menu. This year, at least, we will begin with Christmas at home--just me and Alivia--in the morning. Then, after we've opened up her Santa presents and had breakfast, we'll get dressed and go over to Gran's and Papa's for more presents and Christmas dinner. I'm hoping that in years to come we can move Christmas dinner to my house on occasion, but this year I'm happy to do it over there... less house cleaning for me to worry about!

Christmas shopping has been so easy this year. Since Alivia doesn't realize what is going on, I just take her with me and watch her reactions to the various toys and things. If she likes it, I buy it, otherwise we leave it on the shelf. I don't have to hide anything yet, either. It's all sitting in a corner of my bedroom waiting to be wrapped. Starting next year I'll have to be a little more sneaky, though, I think, but that's half the fun of it!

~ Jeana

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Some New Photos...

Hi everyone--and happy Thanksgiving Day! Here are a couple new photos of my beautiful, blue-eyed angel... These were taken today at Gran's house. I swear she's looking less and less like a baby every day. Here she was climbing up her uncle Chris to get at his necklace. She loves any kind of jewelry!

She had a blast racing up and down the hallway--usually in pursuit of the dogs! She also enjoyed meeting her uncles and cousins--who all fell in love with her, of course!

~ Jeana

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

I've been waiting for my friend Justin to send me some of the new photos we took of Alivia recently, but he's taking too long, so... I'll get some more this weekend over the holidays and post them as soon as I can. In the meantime, I have a couple new Alivia stories to share...

She's truly become the sunshine in my day everyday. This morning I was holding her in my arms right after I woke her up and while she was still half asleep she reached up to my face to turn it so that she could kiss me. It was so precious!

She's also a stubborn little cuss... the other day she started spitting (raspberry style) while I was feeding her. I told her no, but she did it again. I said no again and she did it again, so I smacked her tray (doesn't hurt her at all, but makes a loud noise that gets her attention.) Well, she started wailing like you'd think I was beating her, but between every wail she'd spit again just to show me she could do it no matter what I said. It was all I could do to keep from laughing.

And she's developing her sense of the absurd... a couple nights ago I was running her bath while she stood naked beside me watching the water fill the tub. She loves to play in the water and every time I'd reach in to test the temperature, she'd reach in, too, even though her little arms were just too short to reach. After a few moments I heard her giggling and glanced over to see what was up... Alivia was staring down at her feet and wiggling her toes. She'd just peed on her feet and thought it was the funniest thing that she could make little splashes with her toes before she even got into the tub.

This year I know that I truly have cause to be thankful. God has given me the most precious gift in the world.

~ Jeana

Monday, November 06, 2006

Early Intervention Evaluation

Alivia and I met with the Early Intervention specialists this morning to determine if she needs and is eligible for their services. It was interesting to watch them perform the evaluation--they would give her different things to play with and watch what she did with them. They also tried to get her to walk, talk, crawl, eat, and other basic activities. They took her premature birth date into account and evaluated her at the 14 months level (her gestational age) rather than her calendar age of 16 months. Their findings were pretty much what I expected. Basically, Alivia is doing fairly well verbally, but needs developmental assistance in most other areas.

She seems to be having lots of problems with her ankles turning in and her toes turning out, so they have recommended that we get high-top shoes for her with thick, hard soles--exactly the opposite of what is recommended for most babies learning to walk. They also want her to be evaluated for shoe inserts. They seem to think she may have a small amount of hip displasia, too, which contributes to the problem. They are going to set up a once-per-week physical therapy appointment for her, as well, to try to work on getting her walking correctly.

Alivia is also missing most of the fine motor skills that she should have by now She still rakes with her fingers to pick things up and doesn't like to help much at meal times. All of these things can be attributed to her spending that first year in a crib in the orphanage. The children there just don't get the stimulus and the opportunity to develop anything beyond the most rudimentary motor skills--and she was barely at that level when I got her. At 12 months she was unable to sit without support. She's come such a long way--but we still have a long way to go! They will be providing us with an in-home visit twice a month to work on this kind of thing.

The scariest part of their determinations today was that Alivia is having some cognitive difficulties. Again, this may be entirely due to the environment she lived in for her first 12 months, but there's also the possibility that it's a symptom of fetal alcohol effect or fetal alcohol syndrome. They are advising Alivia's doctor to request a geneticist see her for further evaluation along that line. If it is FAE/FAS, there is nothing that can cure or repair the damage--all we can do is try to work around it. Since she doesn't display any signs of an uncontrollable temper, hopefully the damage will be limited to some mild learning disabilities.

In general, I'm very optimistic about her situation at this time. She's a very strong, focused and determined child and I know that we can do whatever we need to do to help her to succeed.

This coming weekend we are supposed to be going with Justin and Gil to watch a medieval battle reenactment. That should be quite the experience for Alivia... I'll try to get some pictures and post them here!


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Happy Halloween!

As promised, here are some photos of Alivia in her Tulip Fairy costume (and one of me in mine--an 80's glam rock groupie--with my friend Brian.) Alivia and I had a really fun time at the Halloween party this evening. She took a late nap today so she could stay up late and she did really well all evening. She loves to show off and spent most of the night entertaining everyone with fake sneezes, her version of dancing and lots of cheesy grins. The evening started out on a rough note, though, when I couldn't find my car keys and so had no way to get us to the party...

Turned out that when she and I returned from grocery shopping this afternoon my car key got separated from the rest of my key ring and fell into her car seat as I lifted her out of it. Later, when I went to change clothes, my keys got hung up in my pocket and I had to yank them out, but didn't notice that one of the keys was missing. Then, when we got ready to leave for the party I realized the car key wasn't on the ring and started desperately searching the house for it.

I had already placed Alivia in her car seat, so I left her there while I got on my hands and knees in my bedroom searching. I was SO frustrated when I couldn't find the key anywhere and after about fifteen minutes of waiting on Mom, Alivia got frustrated, too, and started crying. I went to the car to soothe her and, low and behold, when I pulled her out of the car seat I spotted the key. It was almost tucked into the side of her seat, so it was a lucky thing that I happened to see it.

Anyway, after that near disaster I buckled Alivia up again and we took off for the party. We managed to arrive only a half hour late and so got to make a grand entrance. Alivia loved the opportunity to play "Pass the Baby" and spent a little time cuddling with just about everyone there. She also got to try some chocolate covered bananas--a big hit, let me tell you!

It was nearly 11 p.m. when we got home, so I'm hoping she will sleep in a bit in the morning. She was such a trooper all evening, though, and really seemed to have a good time.

~ Jeana

Friday, October 27, 2006


Things are going pretty well here in Alivia-land. I hope to have some new photos to share this weekend. Alivia and I are attending a costume first anniversary party for some friends of mine and that, along with Halloween, should provide plenty of photo ops.

Alivia is developing a bit of a temper these days, though. She likes to scream when she doesn't get her way and, unfortunately, her way is usually a little too dangerous for Mom or Gran to approve. She has this incredible fascination with power cords and she loves to fall. Yes, fall... She will pull herself up to a standing position and then simply let go so she can free fall backwards. When she's on a soft surface it's usually not too problematic, but my house has hard wood floors and Gran's house is all ceramic tile (in Florida we tend to go for cooler surfaces like these) so it can be really dangerous for her to fall that way. She also has a thing for trying to eat the cats' food. At least she hasn't discovered the litter boxes yet...

I've got an appointment on November 6th to have Alivia evaluated by the early intervention specialists. Hopefully they will help us come up with ways of dealing with some of the above as well as working on her language, motor skills and and other development issues. Alivia has come a long way since coming home, but still has a lot of catching up to do, both physically and developmentally.

Speaking of physical stuff, though... Alivia is up to 27.5 inches now! She's still a lightweight, but it makes me so happy to see her growing. She's still off the bottom of the charts (29.5 is about the 5 percentile mark for a 16 month old and she's 15.5 months), but she is catching up! On the weight she is still about 4 lbs. off the 5 percentile mark for her age. Doesn't sound like much, but when you consider she's only gaining about 1 lb. per month, it's a lot. Of course, that's all using the standard growth charts. If you use the growth charts for low birth weight premature girls, she's doing a little better, but still below the 5th percentile in both areas.

Well... that's all for now. Time to get back to work!

~ Jeana

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Back to Work...

The dreaded day finally arrived this past Monday and I'm now back at work. Alivia is handling the transition well. She is spending her days with Gran and the dogs and doesn't have much time to miss Mama. She is overjoyed to see me when I arrive in the evenings to pick her up, though, which just warms my heart.

We had a nice time this past weekend at our family reunion in Georgia. It was the first time for most of the family to meet Alivia and she managed to charm everyone. She came home loaded down with all kinds of lovely presents from her new extended family, too! She's gonna think Christmas is nothing after this...

Our challenge now is getting over the head colds we both managed to catch while we were running around. Aivia's nose is almost always pretty red, but right now it almost glows in the dark from all the tissue wipes she's getting. Benadryl seems to be helping, but she doesn't know how to blow her nose yet so we have to constantly use the little aspirator thingy on her, too. She thinks it's the funniest thing and giggles every time we use it.

Other than that the transition back to work has been a fairly smooth one. Alivia loves being with Gran and having the dogs to play with so she's pretty happy with the situation. The only bad thing from her point of view is that Mama has to wake her up earlier than she wants to get up. And of course I'm having to get up incredibly early just to be able to get ready and get her ready to go in time. It's definitely been an adjustment!

And I have to admit that while I miss being with Alivia all the time, I do enjoy having conversations that involve more than just babies. It's nice to have adult conversations every once in a while! If only I didn't have to get up quite so early in the morning to have them...

~ Jeana

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Best Medicine!

I woke up feeling ill this morning and was just laying on the sofa watching Alivia play in her play station and feeling guilty because I wasn't interacting with her more. Suddenly out of nowhere Alivia comes up with the best medicine. She was playing a little song on her play station and then turned to face me and very slowly and clearly (and for the very first time!) said "Mama." All of a sudden my upset tummy didn't matter anymore! I felt like I was on top of the world!

I wish there was a way to upload video footage here because I managed to get several minutes of her saying "Mama" and practicing her fake sneezes. I have a feeling I have a budding actress on my hands! Since I can't upload video, here's the next best thing... a photo of her all bundled up this morning because it's actually downright cold here!

Now if she'll only take those first few solo steps before I have to go back to work next week...

~ Jeana

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Happy Anniversary!

Yesterday, October 7, was the three month anniversary of court and the day Alivia and I officially became a family. We celebrated with a trip to Disney World and Alivia was a little trooper! My friends Justin and Gil went with us and we were able to take advantage of WDW's baby pass on all of the rides we wanted to go on. Baby pass is where some members of your party go on the ride while one or two members sit with the baby, then immediately after you switch off and the ones who sat with the baby get to ride while the others sit with the baby. Since there were three of us there with Alivia, Justin got to ride everything twice while Gil and I took turns sitting with Alvia. It made the day fun for all of us. And of course we went on several rides that Alivia could go on, too!

At the age of 15 months, Alivia didn't really understand the whole Disney thing, but she loved the music, the colors and the activity. She especially loved the Kabuki drummers in Epcot and danced during their whole show. The people around us were watching her more than the drummers. She was so cute! She also liked the concert that we heard by Starship at Epcot. In the Magic Kingdom we got some photos of her with Minnie Mouse, Pluto and Goofy. That was at about 8:45 p.m. and not a moment too soon--she finally passed out when we left the Toon Town County Fair character photo place. I was amazed she lasted that long! She didn't take a nap all day even though I tried to get her to do so. She just trooped right along with smiles and giggles for everyone the whole day. No tears, no fussing. It was wonderful to see--especially when we saw so many other families dealing with tantrums and tired, crying babies.

We picked a beautiful day to go--the weather was perfect (warm and breezy) and the parks weren't too crowded. I also took advantage of the baby stations in each park to feed and change her and to give her a chance to get out of her stroller and crawl around a bit. The baby stations are really nice. They have high chairs, padded changing tables, private nursing rooms, adult restrooms, a playroom for older kids with Disney cartoons playing, and a supply of diapers, formula and other baby needs in case you run out. They have a cast member on duty all the time to help you, too. It's really nice to have an air conditioned place where you can rest for a few minutes when you're there with a baby!

It was a fun day for all of us, I think, and we were all pleasantly exhausted by the end of it! We didn't get to spend enough time at Magic Kingdom, though. I'd like to take Alivia back there in a couple months and take her on Small World and a few other rides that I know she will enjoy. She's such a music lover! And I can't wait until she's old enough to understand where she is and to be excited about meeting Mickey and friends! Those will be the best trips!

~ Jeana

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Happy Wednesday!

It's amazing how busy you can stay with a baby in the house! Alivia and I have been having all kinds of fun! She loved having Diane and Susie babysit her when my parents and I went to see "Menopause". They played with her the entire time, singing and dancing, and literally wore her out--along with themselves, I'm sure! All of them seemed to enjoy it, though, so I've already asked them about watching her again next month when we go to see the Blue Man Group.

My return to work is looming on the horizon and I'm slowly getting ready for it. I've decided to revamp my image at work and bought a new work wardrobe with that in mind. I'm hoping it will help me to get promoted. It's going to be hard going back to work and leaving Alivia during the day--a new job with new challenges and a bigger paycheck might make it just a little bit easier. My mom is all excited about keeping Alivia while I'm at work. She's making plans for all kinds of fun activities for them. It's making me a little jealous...

This past weekend Alivia, mom and I went to Orlando for the Children's Hope International informational meeting. All of the families there were interested in adopting from Russia so I had a very interested audience to hear about our adventures in adopting. Alivia charmed everyone. I probably could have auctioned her off to the highest bidder and made a killing! She's such a little sweetheart!

This coming weekend, weather pending, we are going to head back to Orlando to go to the Magic Kingdom. If it's too hot or if it's rainy we'll see if we can find something else to do. Maybe a little early Christmas shopping...

~ Jeana

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Official in Florida!

Yesterday we received Alivia's Certificate of a Foreign Birth from the State of Florida. That was a very quick turn around! I still plan to get her a US passport, but we're going to put that off until after Christmas. We won't need it until next September anyway.

The next "official" thing on our schedule is her first post placement report. The social worker will be coming out to visit in early November, then we have to have the apostilled report in to Children's Hope International by December 7th. I had thought we were all done with apostilles, but, no... the post placement reports all need them, too. We have to do a total of four post placement reports. One this December, one in June 2007, then again in June 2008 and June 2009.

The only other "paperwork" we have to keep up with is notifying the Russian embassy if we move. Alivia has to be registered with them until she comes of age. Technically she has dual citizenship--both US and Russian. Kinda neat!

Tonight we get to experiment with our first babysitting experience. My parents and I are going out to see the musical Menopause and a couple friends of mine are coming over to watch Alivia. I'm hoping everything will go smoothly and she won't have any panic attacks. She didn't like staying at my mom's house overnight without me there, but I'm hoping that since the sitters are coming over here she'll be okay with it. I don't expect we'll be out late in any case.

Other updates... Alivia loves her little swimming pool. She still doesn't splash much, but she loves to crawl around and to play "stand up-sit down" in the water. She also tries to drink the pool water--yuck! I change the water every three days or so and just try not to think of the frogs I have to fish out of it every time she wants to get in it.

~ Jeana

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Our Day in Court!

Today at 10:30 a.m. EST, the Russian adoption of Alivia Elena Victoria Davis was officially recognized by the State of Florida. The judge was very nice and asked only a few questions--confirming that I was still financially capable of taking care of Alivia, why I wanted to adopt her, that I understood that it was a "forever" decision, etc. Alivia was in a terrific mood. She played quietly with my mom while the judge asked his questions. Then when it was over she started blowing kisses at everyone--including the judge! She also decided she'd had enough of her shoes and kicked those off. The judge just laughed and said it was okay, she didn't need shoes for his court.

After the hearing I had to file the court papers, then we all trooped over to the Office of Vital Statistics to apply for her new Florida birth certificate. We also tried to take some photos, but the humidity was so high today that all of the pictures came out clouded.

Once we finished with all of our business it was time to celebrate. My dad, who wasn't able to change his doctor's appointment, sadly had to miss the hearing. Instead he met us at the restaurant afterwards. Alivia got to sample some of everyone's desserts and loved every one of them! She also continued her kissing spree and enterained everyone with what I call "glee screams". She gets a big grin on her face, sticks out her tongue and squeals/screams as loudly as she can while waving her arms around. It's quite the spectacle of joy!

She was one exhausted little girl when we finally made it home this afternoon, but I'm proud to say that I don't think there's much else we can do at this point to make her any more official!

~ Jeana

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A Sad Day

I'm sorry for not updating this in the last couple weeks. Alivia is doing well--growing like a weed and learning new things every day. She's also getting plenty of bumps and bruises to go along with all her adventures in learning. She's still not walking by herself, but when it comes to crawling and cruising she's a little speed demon!

We have had a small crisis in the house, though. The oldest of my three cats, Trouble, has been very ill and this morning I finally had to make the decision to have him put to sleep. Trouble has been with me for 14 years, so this has been very hard to deal with. He's been suffering from the sudden onset of acute renal failure, and while he hasn't been in any pain, he's been obviously miserable. I know that this is the best decision for Trouble, but it's such a difficult thing to do. Alivia, fortunately, is still at the age where she has no idea what's going on. I'm so glad I don't have to deal with her pain here as well as my own.

On a MUCH happier note, we have court tomorrow morning for Alivia's Recognition of a Foreign Adoption hearing. I'll have photos and updates up as soon as I can!

~ Jeana

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Official Court Date!

Today we received the official court date for Alivia's Recognition of Foreign Adoption hearing. It will be September 14th at 10:20 a.m. Alivia didn't seem all that impressed when I told her, but the rest of us are happy! I'm hoping that my dad, who didn't get to go with mom and me to Russia, will be able to attend this milestone event. He has a doctors appointment that morning, but hopefully can get it rescheduled.

Alivia has been exploring a bit more of the house over the last few days. I'm trying to allow her a little more freedom to crawl around since she seems to be adjusting so well in every other way. The cats are learning to keep alert whenever she's near. Those cat tails are just about irresistable!

~ Jeana

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Beach

Today Alivia and I made the long drive out to the beach. It was beautiful! The sun was bright, the water was warm and the beach was rather empty--the kids are back in school here, so weekdays at the beach are really nice! Alivia loved the waves and the sand. She actually tried to "dive" head first into a couple waves and ended up swallowing a bit of ocean water, but it only made her sputter a bit. No tears or fussing at all! She also tried to eat a couple fistfuls of sand. Alivia is still very much at the "everything goes in the mouth" stage. We only stayed out for about half an hour as I don't want to risk her delicate skin getting burnt.

Yesterday we spent the day at Gran and Papa's house. When we got home there was a lovely surprise in the mail--a gorgeous hand drawn card from a dear friend of mine in Canada. Don is an actor and jazz singer and now, from what I hear, has his own radio show up there. I've also been catching him doing the voice of a character on a cartoon called My Dad the Rockstar. Anyway--the card is beautiful and I wanted to share it here. A lot of my friends who have met Don in the past at the La Femme Nikita conventions and the celebrity cruises will enjoy the chance to see it. Don also decorated the envelope that he sent it in--another beautiful piece of art!

And--last, but not least--we have a tentative court date for the official Florida recognition of Alivia's foreign adoption: September 20th! Hurray!!!

~ Jeana

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Photos and a Pooh Story...

As promised, here is a picture of the new shelves I put up in Alivia's room. The bottom shelf contains small wooden and clay toys from Russia, including a couple matroshka dolls, a clay whistle and a bobble head duck. The upper shelves have a native costume doll which I purchased at the Olympic overlook in Moscow, a real working nutcracker, and a couple handmade fur dolls which I purchased back in 1991 when I visited Murmansk, Russia, up in the arctic circle. I hope that Alivia will come to appreciate all of these things as she grows up and learns about her heritage.

I also took the opportunity to get a couple more shots of Alivia today. Here she's in her room gazing out the window as she sits in mommy's rocking chair. You can see the picket fence and flower floor border that I did in her room, too. I just love that border!

Alivia was in a playful mood today and enjoyed posing for the camera. I love the impish little look she has in this one! The biggest problem I find now when I try to take pictures is that she wants to play with the camera. We have a few closeups now that are just a bit too close up. I have a feeling she's going to turn into a little ham before too long!

One last one to share... along with a funny story. My parents also have a nursery set up for Alivia--their's is a Winnie the Pooh themed room. Alivia, it seems, doesn't understand the difference between Pooh and poo, though, and decided to add some decorations of her own. Yesterday while we were visiting, Alivia had a major poo of the exploding diaper variety. There was poo down the inside of the legs of her little jeans, poo on her socks, poo squishing out of her diaper... and she, of course, had to spread it around a little more, smearing poo on the sheets of her crib where we were trying to change her, on the crib bumper, on a couple of the stuffed animals. She had a regular poo party! I don't think I've ever used quite so many wipes at one changing! It probably would have been easier at that point just to put her in the tub for a bath! Needless to say, her "Pooh" room has been thoroughly chistened!

~ Jeana

Friday, August 25, 2006

Two for the Price of One...

This has been an interesting week. A friend of mine ran into a situation where he needed a babysitter for his 4 month old daughter while he worked and asked if I could help out. She's a sweet little girl--very good natured--and still pretty much at the sleep, eat, poop, and sleep some more stage, so I agreed to look after her for a few days. For the most part Alivia did very well with it. She did exhibit a little bit of jealousy in the form of patting my leg to get my attention a few times when I was busy with Mia, but it wasn't as bad as it could have been. I guess she still retains some memories of the orphanage and so is a little more amenable to sharing her mommy than she might otherwise be. The only other thing I noticed was that she woke up crying in the night after the second day of sharing me with Mia--something she hasn't done since her very first night with me after leaving the orphanage. Today we were back on our own again, though, and Alivia seemed quite herself. I was really worried that we might see some regression, but I think we came through it okay.

After this little experiment I have to give props to the mothers who manage to juggle multiple babies on a daily basis. It can really be exhausting. I don't even want to think about trying to go out to the store or anything like that with more than one. It seemed like I'd just get one settled for a few minutes and I'd have to pick up the other one for something. Thank goodness for morning and afternoon naps! You can't imagine how delighted I was that it rained here all morning this morning and the steady pattering of rain on the roof and the darkness from the cloud cover made Alivia sleep in a bit. We both needed the rest after the last three days!

The other thing I managed to do this week was paint and install some cute little shelves in Alivia's room. We now have a place to display some keepsakes from her Russian heritage. I'll try to get some pictures tomorrow and post them here.

~ Jeana

Friday, August 18, 2006

New Photos!

Hi everyone! I managed to get a couple new photos of Alivia. As you can see, she is showing much more personality these days! She's figured out that when mommy gets out this little black box and points it at her it makes nasty bright lights flash in her face. Here she's giving me "the look" to let me know she's ready for it to stop. She's also clutching her favorite treat of the moment--a creamy Nutterbutter cookie. My dad introduced her to those yesterday and she's hooked!

Here she has just finished her cookie and is trying to charm mom into giving her another one. She has the most beautiful smile--you just don't see it too often in photos. I was pleased to get this one with her impish look. I can't wait until she will smile for the camera on purpose so that I can get some nice portraits done!

And finally--here she is at Gran's house sitting in her new rocking chair. It's actually an heirloom of sorts... it was my rocking chair when I was a baby. A friend of my mom's repainted it for us and did a fabulous job! I also like this shot because it shows off her pretty dress. Believe it or not, this is a 0-3 month size dress. She's still SO tiny! She is growing, though! She's up to 26 inches in length and 15 pounds in weight.

Well, that's all for now... hope you all enjoy them!

~ Jeana

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Up and at 'Em!

A couple days ago Alivia decided she didn't want to take a nap and spent two hours whining and crying to get out of the crib. Being the mean mommy that I am, I wouldn't let her out and so she got angrier and angrier until she managed to teach herself to pull up on the crib bars and stand up! I wish I'd had the camera ready--there she was all red nosed, angry and frustrated and she couldn't figure out why mommy was grinning at her! Of course it hasn't all been rosy since then. She loves to pull up on the bars, but frequently loses her grip or her balance. She now has a lovely little purple bruise on her forehead. The knocks don't seem to deter her at all, though. She just gets right back at it. Alivia is starting to cruise a bit, too, and I have a feeling she'll be walking in a matter of days at this rate.

Alivia is also becoming more vocal. She doesn't know what they mean, I'm sure, but her vocabulary now includes dada, daddy, and kitty. With no "daddy" in the picture, the only useful one of those right now is the kitty--although with the way our three cats manage to avoid her reach, it's not that useful either! Can't wait for the first "mama"!

Today Alivia and I are going to Gran and Papa's house for lunch. Alivia loves Gran's house because she gets to play with the dogs. Suni especially loves to play with Alivia and the two of them have a great time together. I'll try to get some photos today and post them later on.

Hope you're all having a great week!

~ Jeana

Monday, August 14, 2006


Today we received Alivia's official Certificate of Citizenship along with a form letter from the President welcoming Alivia to the U.S. I was thinking of framing the certificate, but it's such an important document that I think I'll just put it away in the safe instead. I'm going to add the form letter from Pres. Bush to her life book.

Speaking of which... I really need to start pulling that together. I have a bunch of documents and adoption/Russian memorabilia that I plan to put in it. It's just a matter of getting organized. I'm sure all my colleagues at work can't believe I haven't got the thing started yet--let alone up to date! Alivia and I have just been having so much fun, though! It's hard to find time to do other stuff.

Tomorrow we're spending the day with my parents. I've got a desperately needed hair appointment in the afternoon and Mom wants to take Alivia shopping. Of course all the stylists at the hair salon want to meet Alivia, too, so they'll be dropping me off there on their way to Target. Hmmm... I wonder if I can get Mom to take care of getting Alivia's passport photos done while they are there...

~ Jeana

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Papers are Filed...

I'm including some more photos of Alivia here--these are from my first trip to meet her. I'm amazed that it was only two months ago! It seems like I've had her for much longer than that! I'm also amazed at how the long wait for her referral seems to have just faded away. My life before Alivia seems like the most vague of memories and the reality of "now" with Alivia is so wonderfully real!

Today Alivia and I journeyed downtown to the courthouse to file the papers for official "Recognition of a Foreign Adoption" by the State of Florida. The filing fee was $293. Small change in the overall scheme of things! Now we are just waiting for our day in court! They told us that we should hear something in the next two to four weeks--not quite the quick turn around that I was hoping for, but I'm quite experienced when it comes to waiting now, so it's not a big deal.

Alivia was in a very happy frame of mind today. She laughed and played all day long. She is so solemn a lot of the time that it was really nice to see her chortling away at every thing. She also learned a new trick--how to fake sneeze. She discovered that whenever she "sneezes" Mommy will say bless you and she thinks that's just the most marvelous thing so she does it over and over again.

I think Alivia is also getting her first words. She keeps saying something that sounds like "ditta ditta" and I think it's coming from Dora the Explorer's "We did it!" song. I have been singing it to her when we watch it and also singing a "You did it!" version when she does special things. She spent most of this evening before bed saying "ditta ditta" and then grinning with the tip of her tongue poking out. It was just too precious!

Don't you just love babies!

~ Jeana

Monday, August 07, 2006

Progress... and a Funny Story

Things are moving ahead in the paperwork department. I received Alivia's social security card today. It says she needs to sign it... hmmm... I guess I need to call them and find out if I need to sign it for her or just hold it until she's older or what... but at least we have it!

I've also made progress in the paperwork on the recognition of a foreign adoption court proceedings here in Florida. I have all the forms completed and all the supporting documents gathered. Tomorrow I'm going to try to get over to my office and have one of the ladies there notarize everything for me. Then I'll be ready to head back to the courthouse to file the papers and request a hearing. Hopefully we can get on the judge's calendar fairly quickly!

What else is happening... Alivia has cut a couple more teeth--she's now up to 12! She just got in two lower molars. She still doesn't like chunky food at all, though. She wants everything pureed. Oh--and the cats are getting a little more curious about this new creature in their house. Lots of covert sniffs today when Alivia was looking the other way.

Oh--today was our one month anniversary, too! One month ago on July 7th, Judge O. V. Aksynova pronounced Alivia and I "daughter and mother". We celebrated with some chocolate cherry ice cream for dessert. In our first month together, Alivia has easily gained more than two pounds, grown an inch in length and gained TONS of personality!

She's also gained attitude with a capital A! She and I were out with a friend of mine for dinner the other evening and after dinner I started coughing. I'm still struggling with a lingering cough from the nasty cold I caught in Russia. Well, Alivia loves to mimic my coughing and will do it time and time again, so it's fun to egg her on. My friend Lesley decides to get in on the act and interjects a cough of her own and you wouldn't believe how quickly Alivia whipped her head around to glare at Lesley! It was like she was saying this was HER game and Lesley was NOT invited to play! After glaring at Lesley for several long seconds, Alivia turned again to look at me and very deliberately coughed once, as if for emphasis. Lesley and I both burst out laughing. When she finally recovered enough to speak, Lesley said "Well, I guess she showed me!"

Just for more grins and giggles, here is Alivia's referral picture. As you can imagine, I fell in love the moment I opened the email it came in! Amazingly she just grows more beautiful with each passing day!

~ Jeana

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

How Time Flies!

Wow--it's incredible how full my days are now! Some days it's all I can do to keep up with everything. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything, though. Alivia is such a sweetie and it's wonderful to see the daily changes in her.

We found a lovely rocking horse for her at BJ's. It has sound effects of galloping and neighing and also has some motion effects--the tail swishes and the nose wiggles while it is neighing. It's so cute! It's a little big for Alivia yet--her feet don't reach the stirrups, but she still loves it!

I also found an activity station for her that I really like. Most of them have the child seated in the middle and they just spin around to access the various games and activities. This one has the baby seated on the outside and the baby has to move around the outside of the station to access everything. The seat also spins in place to allow her to turn around to see me or the tv. Alivia is just tall enough for it--her feet can sit flat on the ground while she stands in it. It's helping her with her balance and, hopefully, will also help her learn to walk. She's getting pretty good at scooting herself around the station to get to whatever activity has captured her interest!

Yesterday I went to the courthouse to find out about having Alivia's foreign adoption officially recognized here. This will enable me to get a Florida birth certificate for her which will be very helpful when it's time to register her for school in a few years. I have to go back tomorrow to meet with a case worker who will help me with all the forms. Sometimes you just wonder if the paperwork will ever end!

~ Jeana

Friday, July 28, 2006

Photos from the Orphanage

Today I picked up the photos from the disposable camera I left at the orphanage between trips. It's pretty obvious that they took most of the photos on the same day, but that's okay. What's really interesting is the glimpse these photos give into the orphanage life of very young children. At her orphanage they were fortunate that the children did not have to share a crib. The cribs are all old--everything there is old--but they do the best they can with what they have.

I noticed that Alivia likes to try to drink out of regular cups and in the photos there was one of her doing just that by herself. There is also one of her eating by herself, but I don't think she did that on a regular basis. I could be wrong, of course, but her coordination just doesn't seem up to that yet. They told me when I picked her up that she was eating any "smashed" foods and drinking tea. Somehow I don't think tea is the best drink for a baby, but that's just my opinion.

They have a variety of toys for the children at Vishney Volochek--including a padded playroom that looks like it might be fun.

One of the photos I'm posting here today had another child in it. I put a black bar across his face since I don't have permission to post his photo. If someone viewing this thinks it might be their referral/adopted child, please email me and I'll be happy to send you the photo.

Enjoy the photos!
~ Jeana

Sunday, July 23, 2006

New Friends

It's been a busy, but fun weekend. Yesterday Alivia visited with her Gran and Papa while Mommy went to the movies with some friends. After the movie I picked her up from Gran's house and went back to the friends so they could all meet my little princess. Alivia did well with all the attention--showing a decided preference for Mommy, but a willingness to let others hold her for a bit. Oh--and the movie was good, too! We saw Pirates of the Carribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

Today started out as a relaxing day, but Alivia was a bit fussy. She's teething right now and it makes her a little cranky. Things improved, though, in the afternoon. I had invited a friend from work to bring her young daughter over to meet Alivia and the two hit it off well. Chelsea is a beautiful little girl and baby crazy as most little girls are. She allowed Alivia to climb on her and poke at her and was generally pretty good natured about it. She loved finding ways to make Alivia laugh. Here's a photo of the two of them with Chelsea's mom.

Chelsea also brought Alivia a gift--a fun little car to roll about on. Alivia loved it and enjoyed having Mommy push her around for a little ride. Chelsea also loved the opportunities it provided to pose for the camera. Chelsea is quite the little ham! I love seeing the personality coming out in young children like Chelsea and can't wait to see Alivia doing the same kind of things. Here is another picture of the three of us having some fun! Chelsea and I took turns tickling each other and giving each other rabbit ears. And don't you just love Alivia's "look, everybody, no hands!" bit?

As you can see, Alivia is still loving her food--she's showing off quite the little pot belly here! She's eating very well--and a nice variety, too. She loves fruit and tolerates most meats and veggies. Cereal is still her favorite, though, and I think she'd eat it for every meal if I let her! She also still takes a bottle, but likes to try to drink from a cup. Her pediatrician wants me to keep her on formula for a while to try to help her grow a bit faster. Currently she's weighing/measuring in at the 50th percentile for a 5 month old, so she's got a bit of catching up to do!

I just wish we could get more pictures of her smiling. She smiles a lot, but rarely when there is a camera around. Makes it a bit of a challenge! We mostly get these serious faces from her on camera. Of course, it's always amazing to see just how much she is changing every day! I swear she looks so much like me as a kid! Thank you, Jennifer, for manning the camera!

~ Jeana

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Happy Wednesday and a Look Back at Moscow

Today was a good day, although it didn't actually start out that way. Alivia finished the last of the kasha from Russia yesterday and decided first thing this morning that she didn't care at all for the baby rice cereal or baby oatmeal cereal that I was offering. I tried everything to get her to eat it and she just locked her teeth and refused. I checked the Nestle Website for the instant kasha we had found in Russia, but it's not available here. Fortunately Jacksonville has a large immigrant population and I was able to find a European grocery store that carries some imported baby foods--including a wheat based cereal similar to kasha. I found a brand that she likes and all is now well again as far as breakfast is concerned!

This afternoon I took Alivia to her visit her Gran and Papa. She also got to meet their dogs--two dachshunds. The female, Suni, immediately went into mama-mode and actually took exception to me trying to pick Alivia up at one point. It was kind of cute. The male, Kasea, wasn't happy with the situation at all, though. He's been the family baby for the last several years and didn't like being displaced. Here's a photo of Alivia and Suni becoming acquainted.

Alivia also discovered the joys of honey nut cherrios at Gran's house. After the rough night and morning we had it was great to see her in such good spirits. (Alivia had a fever off and on all night and most of the day today as a result of the shots she received yesterday at the pediatrician's office.)

Later, while Mom and I messed around in the kitchen Alivia spent her time wisely--having a heart to heart talk with her Papa. All in all it was a very pleasant afternoon and evening. I knew she needed a little extra loving after her experience at the doctor's office and I can tell she's looking forward to visiting Gran and Papa again on Saturday while I go to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

Backtracking a few days--we had a wonderful couple days in Moscow before the long flight home. I didn't take the city tour on the first trip, so the agency kindly took me, Mom and Alivia on the tour on our last morning in Moscow. We did all the major sites--St. Basil's Cathedral in Red Square, the Olympic lookout point, etc. My one disappointment--I'm a huge Scorpion's fan and they headlined a free concert in Red Square on our second night in Moscow in honor of the G8 summit in St. Petersburg. I would have loved to go, but a rock concert just isn't the right venue for a small baby in my opinion. Even if it is in Red Square...

The embassy visit was interesting. We went on Friday and there were 23 other families there. We were told that on Thursday there had been twice as many families. I'm glad we were there on Friday. The waiting area is rather small and couldn't accommodate everyone as it was. The embassy staff were very helpful, though, and got everyone through as quickly as possible. They also made a point of going over what to expect when we got back to the States. One of the things they told us was that as soon as the airplane wheels touch down on U.S. soil, our children become U.S. citizens. As the consular aide put it--"something magical happens".

Well, on the flight home my mom was telling that story to the flight attendants and a few people sitting near us just as we were coming in to land. Everyone was oohing and ahhing over the sweet story when suddenly the plane wheels did touch down--very hard! Alivia startled and her eyes got really big and you would have sworn just from looking at her that something magical had indeed happened. As the plane taxied to the gate I looked around our section of the plane and was just amazed. Everyone--the flight attendants, the people in the rows nearby--everyone was smiling at Alivia and crying. And she, of course, was just beaming back at everyone, too!

~ Jeana