Sweet Sixteen

Sweet Sixteen

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Udderly Adorable!

Growing up, my Mom always made our Halloween Costumes so when the grandchildren came along, she got her patterns and sewing kit out and went to town.  For Nadia's size, I had handmade costume choices between her being a duck, a clown, or a cow...

I chose the cow! 
 I believe all 3 of my children and the other cousins have all worn this costume!

Could she be any cuter???

Even the view from the back is as cute-as-can-be!

Along with the farm animal we also had a rock star...

...and a purple princess.  Josi was supposed to wear this costume last year but she got sick and had to stay inside with me to hand out candy. 

Is she looking more like a teenage princess or what???

Allen didn't dress up this year, but his dog did so he still got some goodies in his "doggie bag".

Allen thought he might try having the dog lead the boy with the bag over his head. That only lasted until A.J. took off after a squirrel (he may be dressed as a hot dog but he's a hunter at heart!)

Costumes or no costumes, I'm thankful I get to be Mommy to all (5) of them. Yes, A.J. is part of the family and is still the one having the hardest time adjusting to Nadia intruding joining our family.

About this time Nadia is thinking that being a princess is a much better deal than having to be a cow. 

Josi reminds her that she has to bide her time until she's bigger and can give input into the costume decisions.  Until then...it's all up to Mommy (and whatever Nonna has put together).

"OK, I'll wait to be a princess but this cow hood thingie has got to go!"


Friday, October 29, 2010

This Little Pumpkin...

...CAN HEAR!!!
Nadia passed her hearing test today with flying colors--orange mostly! ha ha

The audiologist said it was like testing a different child.  We both agreed what a difference a few months of being spoken to directly and engaged in 'conversation' can make in how a child responds to sounds.  Yes, the tubes have made a difference, but the greatest change is in how Nadia responds to sounds.  She had learned to completely tune things out while in the orphanage and so it's been amazing to watch her transformation in this area. :)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Blossoms in the Fall

Most of us look forward to the Spring to enjoy the sweetness and beauty of the blossoms on plants and trees. However, after spending a day in the park with 3 Ukrainian trans'plants' (ok, just work with me here), I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that Fall can also be a time of experiencing amazing growth and blossoming!

My friend Lisa and I made the trek up to Virginia to meet Adeye and her crew halfway between our two homes.  This is the 2nd time we've done this (you can read about the first visit here: http://seeingtheupsideofdown.blogspot.com/2010/07/im-first.html ) and I'm sure it won't be our last!

This picture was taken in June when we were only home a week from Ukraine.  We were travelling back to NC from PA and we stopped in VA to visit with the Salems.
Our three little Ukrainian beauties looked a little pale and had a bit of that "deer-in-the-headlights" look about them.  Can you blame them?  They had just been so recently taken from everything they knew (one for almost 5yrs. of her life).

Nadia and Harper playing side by side for the first time.  They weren't quite sure what to do with each other at this point. 

Four months later and I believe I see the beginnings of a friendship blossoming!

Josi is always the first one to get down and interact with the littlest ones. She took to Harper and Hailee right away on that meeting in late June.

Four months later and it's Harper who is seeking out Josi for some interaction time! (Either that or Josi's got some food that Harper wants...this girl can EAT!)

This little one had the roughest beginnings of the 3 and still has quite a road ahead of her.  But as I reflected back on this picture from 4 months ago when Hailee had to keep a hat on to keep from scratching her ears raw...

...as compared to the other day when her beautiful flaxen hair is no longer hidden from view, I have no choice but to praise her Maker and the plan He had for her in placing her in the Salem family! What a doll she is!  Ahhh...such a sweet fragrance that surrounds God's miracles!

We spent lots of time loving on the little girls and showing them how valued they are.

Lisa gets in some snuggle time with Hailee because we all know that these little plants need lots of love to help them grow!

Nadia gets to share Adeye's lap with Harper...

...much to Harper's chagrin. She was ready to get her Mommy's lap back to herself!

I would definitely say that even though our girls were brought home in late Spring and early Summer, their time of blossoming is more evident now more than ever...in the best season of all...FALL!!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

The State Fair, Baby!

(WARNING: Picture Overload May Occur While Viewing This Blog Entry)

One of our family's favorite Fall activities is to go to the North Carolina State Fair--especially since it's right here in our home city of Raleigh.   We all have different things that we like about spending the day at the fair and so we try to make sure we cover them all.  Here goes...

The boys really like to pet and feed the animals, large and small.  Josi...not so much.

"So, you want me to hold out my hand and let this furry thing eat some food out of it???"
"OK, I'm trusting you on this one Daddy...let's do it."

"Hmmm...maybe if he can't reach it, I'll get to eat the carrot."

Michael, my tender-hearted child, be-friended the smallest goat and made sure the bigger goats didn't get the food away from him.

Josi is happy to feed and hold her favorite 'pet'...her sister! :)

Now on to some rides!  Josi is game for just about any of the rides and so she and Daddy went down the giant slide to get things started.  Her glasses broke at the bottom (they were already damaged and being held together with super-glue) but otherwise it was a fun ride.  The ride attendants ended up giving us some tape to temporarily fix her glasses so Josi could see for the rest of the day. 

Allen is not so much a ride guy but will jump at the chance to try new foods.  His favorite part of the fair is definitely  the eating part and there is always a lot to choose from.

Josi makes sure Nadia doesn't stray too far away when we give her a 'break' from her stroller.

One of Josi's favorites is the Merry-go-Round. I always have a flashback while standing next to this ride because it was here, 13yrs. ago, that I pondered with a tear-stained face, the 1-day old diagnosis of Down syndrome for the baby girl I was carrying. We went to the fair with Jim's parents (Allen was only 13months old at the time) and met my sister with her 2 young children as well.
The thought that stood out in my mind as I stood watching Jim take Allen on the merry-go-round was that there was not one single child with Down syndrome at the entire fair.  Where were they?  Were we the only ones experiencing this?
  I also had a very strong resolution that I shared with Jim immediately...that we would NEVER keep our child hidden away...that she would go with us everywhere and be a part of everything we do as a family and that others would see that there is beauty and even "normalcy" in having a child with Ds.

So, seeing this beauty riding the merry-go-round is always a thrill for me--even 13yrs. later.

And of course being able to accompany our newest beauty on her first ever ride at the State Fair just filled my cup to overflowing!

Now on to my favorite part of the fair--the rides that make you scream and feel as if your stomach has just left the building...I LOVE IT!!!

However, I had to be patient because Jim got to ride the first thrill ride.  Plus, I'm never so sure that these mega-drop rides are really going to "catch" you before you slam to the ground and become a squatty-body for the rest of your life.   Fortunately, both of my guys are still the same height after their ride.

We had to stop in the Expo Building on the way to the bigger rides so Nadia got a chance to see some farm animals (you know...the ones that you go in and look at and try not to tell your children that they'll be steak and hamburgers next week.) 

I just had to throw this one in because my husband is so darn handsome and our newest daughter is so darn cute!!!

OK, call me weird, but next to the thrill rides, I get a kick out of seeing the prize-winning pumpkin every year.  And every year I have to take a picture of it.  So, here it is...all 864 pounds of it!!!

I'm getting warmed up on this mini-roller coaster with Josi.  I showed her how to hold her arms in the air and scream so she'll be ready to go on the Ring-of-Fire (ROF) with me once she's tall enough! Woo Hoo!

Since I couldn't talk anyone into going on the ROF with me this year, I had to settle for the Cobra with my boys.  OK, this is one of those rides that spins your car one way while the larger arm spins you the other way.  I'm ashamed to admit that I had to close my eyes to keep from hurling.  I'd take the fastest, most curvy, loop-de-loop roller coaster any day over these spinning torture chambers!

 We could only sit 2 to a car so Allen had to share the ride with a stranger.  He handles these situations so well...it makes me very proud!

Had to do the Flying Bobs before calling it a day on the rides.  Josi mentioned partway through the ride that she was going to be sick so I did what any good Mom would do and just told her to hold up her arms and scream. Woo Hoo!

Nadia was quite the trooper in her stroller but we made sure we gave her lots of attention which she rewarded with lots of kisses.

I have a feeling now that Josi has experienced the Bungee Jumping that the merry-go-round might be a thing of the past.  She wants us to put one of these up in our backyard. :)

To top things off...everyone gets to pick their poison...I mean their final fair treat.
Allen chose the fried Oreos while Michael went with an old stand-by.

Josi, a girl after my own heart, went straight for the funnel cake. Yummy!

Last but not least, I cornered a nice lady and asked her to take a family photo to commemorate our first State Fair as a family of 6.  Um...perhaps I should have emphasized the family of 6 thing a little more clearly!

(We did end up getting one with all of us, which is at the top of my blog, but this picture just made me laugh too hard not to include it.)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Just for Jodi

I tried to get a picture of just me and my cousin, Lucy the llama, but wouldn't you know it...that "has to be included in everything" Jodi decided to sneak in for the photo.

(More pictures from Nadia's first visit to the State Fair coming in another post--Blogger was running EXTREMELY slowly today in uploading photos so I finally gave up!)

Oh, and by the way, if you don't "get" this post, you need to go WAY back on Jodi's blog to where it all began (sort of):  http://findinghunter.blogspot.com/2010/06/my-friend-kristin-is-traveling-tomorrow.html

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Very Special Day!

This past Sunday was a day filled with tradition, family, spiritual significance, and overwhelming joy.

My heart filled to overflowing in seeing my Josi perform with the "Extreme Worship" kids choir at our church.  Josi has always loved music but because of the bright lights and loud volume in "big" church, she's never wanted to participate before.  We've come a long way in many areas but this one was HUGE because I know her presence up on stage was a blessing to so many people.

As is typical of Josi, she's looking around making sure that we're all in our seats and ready to go.

The choir only had two practices and yet Josi knew ALL of the words and ALL of the hand motions that went along with them.  I could hardly join in as I was overcome with such emotion in seeing my big girl using one of the many gifts God has given her, for His Glory!

She is completely in her element when there is music combined with hand motions.  I think she learned all the hand motions to "The Wheels on the Bus" before she was out of her crib. :)

My sister Stephanie, who photographed Josi and the upcoming dedication service, caught me sharing a tender moment with Nadia as her big sister blessed the socks off of me up front.

I believe there is not much more "holier" in God's eyes than to see a child's hands raised in an act of pure praise and worship.  Be still my Mother's heart and know that He is indeed God.

Proud Grandparents look on:
My Dad,  Mom, and nephew Adam

Jim's Mom is also enjoying seeing her granddaughter on stage.

Then it was time to dedicate our newest child...Nadia Irina Ferguson.
We took our place on stage with 6 other families and the congregation repeated their vows to pray for us and for Nadia.
We also stated our vows to raise Nadia in a Christian home where we will teach her about her Heavenly Father and guide her according to biblical principles.
Our children's pastor prayed for each family to have the strength to fulfill their vows.

It was a very quick moment but filled with much significance for Jim and I as we take our jobs as parents very seriously.  We fall short of parenting in patience in grace many times, so I'm eternally thankful that my Heavenly Father extends His patience and grace to us so we can start again.

 Nadia was wearing a beautiful hand-smocked dress made by none other than my Mom--or Nonna as all the grandkids know her.  It was not lost on me that just 4 short months ago Nadia had one outfit hanging in her locker at the orphanage that wasn't even "picked out" for just her, let alone lovingly hand-made by a special person in her life.

When my niece saw this photo she remarked that it looks like Nadia is smiling up at heaven.  I believe God is smiling right back down at her based on that radiant look on her face. 

A tradition in our family is for the great grand-kids to wear a hand-knit gown made by my Nana D who is also smiling down on Nadia from heaven.  I miss my Nana and wish she could be here along with my Nana Paul to see this newest addition to our family.
Nana D also made the blanket Nadia's standing on as well as booties and a hat (there was no way those were staying on little Miss Grabby-hands so I didn't even try).

Transitioning to life with 4 kids, homeschooling, and having 2 with special needs has not been easy and I intend to write an honest post about that once I can gather all of my thoughts...but when I reflect on this past Sunday and ALL of the many blessings God has given me, I can't help but smile...
Who couldn't smile when given the privilege of seeing this face every morning!