Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas 2009

This year we spent Christmas with Nana and Poopaw (Chris's parents). We had a great holiday. Nick was so much different than last Christmas. He thoroughly enjoyed all the presents and chocolate this year! He was all smiles.

The kids and I left to go to Nana and Poopaw's on Wednesday afternoon in a whirlwind. We weren't going to leave until Thursday morning but there was a snow storm coming so we wanted to be ahead of the weather. Chris was going to come on after work Christmas Eve. The kids and I made it safely ahead of the storm. Unfortunately, Chris got stuck at home from all the snow. We didn't get to celebrate Christmas Eve or Christmas morning with Chris. It was so sad to not have Daddy there Christmas morning. Chris left for Nana and Poopaw's on Christmas day around 12:30. He didn't make it to their house until late that night. The roads were not good at all. We were so glad he made it safely.

It was no surprise that most of Nick's gifts were tractors.
Another tractor from Grandma. This one came with good "stuff" inside the tractor to play with too.Nick's first 'kill'. Just kidding :) Chris and all the uncles went hunting one day and they shot 3 deer. That was the highlight of the trip for the guys.
Poopaw had to give Nick a tractor ride even though it was freezing outside. I think the tractor ride was the highlight of Nick's trip. Nana with Nick's cousin, Zane, and Nick. Zane and Nick had a great time playing together.


The girls had a great Christmas too but just not any good pictures of them. I'm not the best photographer and Chris wasn't there to take pictures.

I hope y'all had a great Christmas :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY!!

Wow! I can hardly believe Nick has been part of our family for one entire year as of today. It seems like the year went by quickly but yet when I look back a lot went on! To think that on this day last year I was in the bitter Siberian cold.

This year has had its ups and downs. Fortunately, there were many more "ups" than there were "downs". The biggest adjustment for me has been the lack of sleep. The first six months we had Nick he didn't sleep. He would get up between 6-8 times a night starting at 1 a.m. I get up at 4:45 a.m. so that meant not much sleep. I typically don't get to bed until 11 p.m. either. So...chronic fatigue. But, as of June Nick sleeps with us and he now will go many nights in a row without getting up at all. So much better.
Most of the "ups" this year I have already written about in past posts. An ongoing issue is the fact that Nick hasn't gained much weight since we've had him. The weight he has gained I think is just from him gaining height. But, he doesn't look scrawny so I don't worry too much. His total weight gain in a year is 3 pounds. WooHoo.

We are all crazy about this little boy. He truly is the miracle that completed our lives! I thank God everyday for blessing us with him.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hello

My birthday was on November 20th. (I won't mention how old I am now but the forehead wrinkles could give it away.) I had a fantastic birthday. It was one of the best I have had in a long time. The kids and I flew into Seattle to visit my family for Thanksgiving the day after my birthday. My sister surprised me with a birthday dinner with family and some friends right after they picked us up from the airport. It was great. She is the best sister!

All I wanted for my birthday was a Russian Nativity. Last December when we were in Russia Chris and I had seen some Nativities and really, really wanted one then. We didn't buy one then because they were expensive and we were really worried about money on that trip. We didn't want to run out of cash. I have kicked myself all year long for not buying one while we were in Moscow. Last month I e-mailed my friend, Mary, who lives in Moscow and was a spectacular tour guide while we were there to see if there was any possibility that she could get a Nativity for me. She was able to and our other friend, Kim, whose house we stayed in in Moscow, brought it over to the states with her. My Nativity arrived just in time for my birthday. Talk about service! What great friends. :) This is a spectacular Nativity. The picture doesn't do the artistry justice. The intricate carving and painting is amazing. I LOVE IT! I am so glad to have it. Chris will laugh at my poor photo taking abilities as I cut the angel's head off. It is too much trouble now to take another picture and get it onto the blog. Just know the angel's head is great too. :)

Chris and the girls putting Christmas lights up on the windmill.

The girls were messing around with Nick's hair the other day. This picture, although crazy, shows how much hair he is growing.

Do you decorate your Christmas tree naked?

Decorating the tree with his diaper back on! I didn't want to have any "accidents" on my carpet.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Woohoo....we have a State qualifier

This weekend was the North State Gymnastic competition. Taylor was so excited to go and compete. She had her game face on! All of her hard work paid off and she qualified to compete in the State Competition. The top 10 gymnasts from the North part of the State earned a place at the competition. Taylor placed 6th...so off we go to the competition next month. Taylor will compete with the top 20 gymnasts in the state.

A very proud and happy Taylor! One of the things Taylor was most proud of is the fact that she scored a 9.5 on Vault and placed 3rd on this event. This is an event that Taylor has struggled with for the past 2 years. She was so excited when she saw her score. She was dancing around like a crazy woman.

A proud daddy. Chris chased Nick most of the meet. He swears we will never take Nick to another gymnastics meet again!

Taylor with Coach Al...the Vault coach. I think even he was shocked at how well she did on the vault.

Taylor and both of her coaches

Taylor admiring her medals. She placed in all 4 events. This is a HUGE accomplishment for her.
Words cannot express how proud we are of Taylor.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween 2009

Simply put....Nick loved Halloween! He thought trick-or-treating was the greatest. Friday night we went to our church's trunk-or-treat where you trick-or-treat out of the trunks of people's cars. Then Saturday night we went over to our friend's house and had pizza and then we all loaded up on golf carts to trick-or-treat in their neighborhood. The houses aren't that close together so the golf cart made it a lot easier. As soon as the golf cart would stop Nick would jump off and make a run for the door. If he wasn't at the front of the crowd he would push his way to the front. As soon as he got his candy he would run back to the golf cart and throw his candy in his bucket. (He wouldn't take his bucket to the front door...too hard to run with.) He was then ready to go to the next house. He never tired of this. We didn't stop trick-or-treating until about 10 p.m. I wish I had brought our video camera to record his introduction to trick-or-treating. Chris and I had some good laughs watching him.

A picture of all the kids before trick-or-treating on Saturday night.

Nick as spiderman. He definitely wouldn't leave the hat or glasses to his costume on!

Nick making himself laugh. He was trying to do some spiderman pose. I think :)

Alex as Cleopatra

Taylor as a Hollywood starlett.

Lauren appropriately dressed as a Runway Diva. The attitude is just a built in personality trait. :)
If Halloween was this much fun I cannot wait to see Nick at Christmas this year!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hard copy

We have received Nick's actual social security card!!!!

I was so grateful to the woman at the Department of Vital Statistics for all her help that I sent her a gift card. We would not have made the tax deadline if it wasn't for her! It is good to know that there are still good people in the world.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Just when you think it is all done...

Yesterday from 9 a.m. - 10 a.m. I called the social security office every 2 minutes trying to get through so I could get Nick's number. The card isn't ready but I was able to get his number after an hour of trying. I almost started crying when I got his number. How crazy is that! I guess I had had myself all worked up that it was such an emotional relief when I had his number.

I immediately called Chris (well texted) and then I called our accountant so he could electronically file our taxes yesterday. Phew!

Today I got a call from our accountant....our tax return was kicked back because Nick's social security number was not recognized. Too new! WHAT!!!!! All that and it is not recognized. So I had to go and sign a hard copy of our tax return at their office and then mail it off. There is still a chance it will be kicked back because when they review our taxes Nick's social security number may not be in the system at that time either. GRRR.....I guess I will deal with that when and if it happens. The tax return did get today's date on the postmark....today was d-day and it needed that date.

One of Chris' patients gave us these pumpkins. Nick thought it was fun to have his picture taken and then run to look at the picture on the camera.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Done!

This morning I applied for Nick's social security number! I only had to wait 1 hour. Once I was at the window it didn't all go smoothly. Their computer wouldn't allow passing some page because there wasn't a specific county that Nick was born in the United States. I had to produce all kinds of documentation...adoption decree (in Russian?), health insurance card with his name on it and his certificate of U.S. citizenship. Fortunately, the lady was really nice and was very caring and considerate. She was trying to get it done for me. Which she did. She also gave me a phone number that I can call tomorrow to get Nick's actual number. Phew!

Of interest was that the lady helping me at the Social Security office had gone to a luncheon on Monday and listened to a lady talk about her recent Russian adoption. The lady speaking was my friend, Lisa! How weird was that.

One year ago today we met Nick! This is a picture of the very first moment we meant him! I remember walking into the room and getting all choked up when I saw him. How we love this little boy. We cannot imagine our lives without him.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday...

There wasn't a birth certificate in the mail Thursday but today at 4:05 p.m. the birth certificate arrived. By 4:36 p.m. I was at the Social Security office.....doors locked. They closed at 4 p.m. Grrrr...and guess what? Monday is a holiday so they are not open. This would almost be comical if it weren't such a vital thing to get finished.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Small town perk...

Since I didn't get Nick's birth certificate yesterday I made a desperate attempt to get today's mail early. After I dropped the kids off at school I went to the post office to see if I could get today's mail early. That way if the birth certificate was in today's mail I could get to the social security office today rather than tomorrow. It truly was a great thought. The postmasters were great and gave me today's mail. But.....NO birth certificate! :( I now have a call in to my friend at the Department of Vital Statistics to see if it actually got mailed.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

NO!!!

Still no birth certificate. It is looking more and more dismal? :(

Monday, October 5, 2009

Not yet...

Late last Friday afternoon my friend at the Vital Statistics office called me to tell me that she was mailing Nick's birth certificate! :) She wanted to verify our address. I was hoping the birth certificate would be in the mailbox today. It wasn't there...maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

No stateside birth certificate yet! (long)

Yes, it is true...we have been home from Russia for 9 1/2 months and Nick still doesn't have a stateside birth certificate. This is a true frustration. On January 14, 2009 we paid our adoption agency to complete the adoption recognition process which involved getting a stateside birth certificate for Nick. This was a fee that was sprung on us. We had never been told that we would be shelling out more money once we were home from Russia for more adoption expenses. We knew about post-placement visits but not this.

In February I went to the social security office with all the documents that the social security website says you need to take with you if you don't have a state birth certificate. They sent me away (after a long wait) and told me to come back when I have the state's birth certificate. This was frustrating because I wanted to get our taxes done and needed a social security number for Nick. The social security's website indicated that you could get a social security number if you had certain documentation with you when you applied. I had that documentation. I was still sent away.

So, mid-March rolls around and still no stateside birth certificate. I call our adoption agency and explained to them that I wanted to get my taxes done and did they know approximately when Nick's birth certificate would be arriving. I was told, rather snidely by one of the worker's at the agency that "everyone is in the same situation". Well....ok. No answers were forthcoming from the people I paid money to get a job done so I called the Department of Vital Statistics myself. Wow....after a very long wait on hold I get a very nice person who told me exactly who to talk to and gave me her number. I called her and she was very informative and told me that they hadn't even received a request for Nick's birth certificate yet (mind you this is mid-March). Interesting...I asked her once they have this request how long does it take to get a birth certificate....4-6 weeks. So, from my phone call to the vital statistics office it became very apparent that we would not have Nick's birth certificate in time for our taxes to be completed by April 15th. The lady at the department of vital statistics office then proceeds to tell me that there is something you can apply for called an adoption tax ID number. With this number you do not need a social security number for your newly adopted child in order to claim them on your taxes. Interesting to know. Wonder why our agency hadn't told us this information? I then ask how long does it take to receive one of those numbers....4-8 weeks. Obviously, I couldn't get one of those either before April 15 since it was mid-March. Wish I had known about this number sooner and the birth certificate wouldn't be an issue for 2008's taxes. I immediately call our accountant so he could prepare an extension for us.

April 15 came and went with no birth certificate. I felt ok though because we had filed an extension. Then in early May Nick's birth certificate came BUT his name was spelled wrong. OMG! Why they wouldn't double check spelling before the application was made is beyond me. I immediately (next day) took the birth certificate back to the adoption agency to it can get changed. More waiting.

In June I started to e-mail adoption agency about birth certificate. No response. I e-mailed them again. No response. Then I called. The person I needed to talk to wasn't there she would call me back. No response. Mmmm...long of the short in order to get answers I (again)call the Department of Vital Statistics. Once again....very informative. They were still missing some paperwork to complete the process to fix spelling of Nick's name. Interesting.

During July I knew the lady working on this process was out-of-town with her own Russian adoption so I didn't bother her. When August rolled around and there still wasn't a birth certificate in my mailbox I started making phone calls again. Still no response. Very frustrating. Once again...I called The Department of Vital Statistics. I find out everything that is missing in the process, type it up and take it to our adoption agency with phone numbers, names and processing numbers. (Just in case they had been too busy to know any of this.) When I very nicely present this information to our agency (in person) they already knew all the information I had spent 2 days collecting. I wouldn't have had to spend time collecting information if I would get a response to e-mails and phone calls. GRRR!

Now it is October. I've been making lots of phone calls to my friend at the Department of Vital Statistics. She is great! She has started calling our adoption agency too. We are in a time crunch now (again) for our taxes as our extension comes due on October 12. If we cannot file our taxes claiming Nick as a dependent and also use the adoption tax credit we will owe thousands of dollars in taxes. But, if we can claim Nick and use the adoption tax credit we do not owe any taxes. This is why Nick's birth certificate is of vital importance. I need it to get a social security number BEFORE October 12.

Monday my friend at the Department of Vital Statistics called me to tell me that she had finally received everything needed to complete the request to change the spelling of Nick's name. She was going to rush it through (normally it takes 4-6 weeks to process) and try to mail it out by Friday (tomorrow). If it is mailed Friday it will get to the adoption agency Monday or Tuesday of next week. Maybe next Wednesday I can go to the Social Security office to apply to get Nick's number. That will be October 7th. Maybe after 2 days of processing I can get his number (card wouldn't be ready but maybe his number). That would be Friday, October 9th. Remember taxes due Monday October 12th.

So...the long and short of it...it is a long shot, but maybe it will get done. Keep your fingers crossed. I am stressed out and sick of dealing with this.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

No more braces!

Taylor finally got phase 1 of her braces off last week. She has had braces for almost 2 years. We used to call her snaggle tooth. Not anymore! A shot of Nick so you can see how much hair he is getting.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Gymnastics

The compulsory gymnastic season has started! Yesterday was Lauren and Taylor's first gymnastic meet of the season. We were at the gym from 7:30 a.m.-9:00 p.m. It was a long day. But, this year I am not the Parent Association President so I did not have the pressure of running the meet.

This was Lauren's very first official gymnastic meet. It was so cute to see how excited she was. She had her game face on and actually did ok. We were really nervous that she would be the worst gymnast there. When Alex and Taylor compete we always check to see how close to the top they finish. With Lauren we were just praying she wouldn't be at the very bottom. They don't place the girls at Lauren's level but I don't think she was the worst one there. I'd say she was kind of in the middle.
Taylor had an excellent meet. She won 1st place all around in her age division. Talk about a happy girl. In her level and age division she was 1st on beam, 2nd on floor, 2nd on vault and 3rd on bars. I don't know her placement in the overall level yet.

Alex's gymnastic season doesn't start until January.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I've caved

Nick hasn't slept well since we've been home from Russia. He would go to sleep fine but then starting about 1 a.m. he would get up 6-8 times a night. He wasn't up long, but often. Usually he would want a drink of milk and then he would go right back to sleep. It seemed as if he was just "checking" to see if I was there. After months of me not getting much sleep I (initially)started to put him in bed with us AFTER the first time he woke up in the night. When I started doing this he started to only get up 1-2x/night. Much better! Well, it is now official that Nick "sleeps" with us. For the past week Nick just goes to sleep in our bed. Amazingly he doesn't wake up until morning time when we do this. Crazy...I NEVER let the girls sleep in our bed. But, now Nick does. I have definitely caved due to lack of sleep. I guess with the first 3 kids I got my way of not having the kids sleep with us but now, with the last one, Chris is getting his way. He loves to have the kids sleep in our bed. I'm too tired to get up 6-8 times a night and with Nick's background I just can't let him "cry it out".....yet. Age (and tiredness)sure does soften you! Right or wrong this is how it is for now and I am not as cranky when I sleep!

Here are some more summer fun pictures. We took the kids to a water park and these are a few of the pictures.

Summer was fun but I am glad to have them back in school!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Girl's First Day of School

Today was the first day of school for the girls! They were excited and nervous but they all had a good day. I'm trying to figure out when Alex got so "grown-up" looking. ????
Tomorrow is Nick's first day back at "school" too. I had better go and get his bag ready. The mornings are so crazy and I'm sure the girls won't pop out of bed tomorrow like they did today!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Ass Whisperer!

Today Chris competed in an all mule rodeo. Chris has been breaking and training mules for the past 3 years. He was so excited and a bit nervous too. He really wanted to do well. He definitely did well. He came home with 7 belt buckles (1st place) and a new saddle which was the overall winner of the rodeo. Here he is with the kids showing off his winnings! We are so proud of him!

Nick loves, loves to swim. In fact, Nick can almost swim by himself. I know that sounds crazy but he has figured out how to move his arms and kick his legs. He can now swim about 3 feet by himself. Very strange indeed!
I'm proud of my 2 boys!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Cardiologist

Friday Nick had a cardiologist appointment. I was really hoping things with his heart would be improving. Things aren't bad with his heart but it is "the same". We are still in the "wait and watch" mode. So, not necessarily bad news but I really was hoping for a bit of improvement. On a good note his heart is not enlarged and his pressures are great. Both good things. Nick doesn't have to return to the cardiologist for 6 months.

Here is a picture of Nick playing in his sister's room. I'm sure he was getting into their stuff and annoying them. He really likes to do that.
I found this random picture of Alex's eye on my camera. I have no clue how she made it this color or why she even took it. ????
The last few months we have been so busy travelling that my kitchen became a "dumping" ground. I never had time to clean it until recently. I stayed up late, late one night because I could not stand it any longer. I took a picture of the kitchen because it was so great to see it completely clean! Fortunately, since we haven't been travelling as much it has actually stayed clean. Always a good feeling!
Summer is winding down and we are getting ready to start school in 2 weeks! WooHoo!!!! I can't wait.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

July pictures!

June and July have been crazy busy with lots of travelling. I have a ton of pictures ...too many to post. Here are just a few...

While on vacation we took the kids to see Ice Age 3. Nick only lasted 30 minutes and then he and I went to the lobby. He loved this car video game. It wasn't pleasant when it was time to leave. I think Nick could have spent an entire day playing on this machine. You can see the "love" all over his face in this picture.

While we were on one of our vacations we got to go and meet my bloggin' friend, Kellie, and her newly adopted daughter, Hope. Hope is also from Siberia like Nick. She is from a different region there but not far from where Nick is from. She is absolutely precious. It was great to be with them. Nick's first pinata. He loved the suckers that were in there.

Mama's little helper.

Nick loves bathtime! It is hard to believe how much he used to scream when it was time to take a bath.
Chris and Nick on a motorcycle ride around the campground.

Me and Nick camping
The travelling is winding down now. I am heading to Las Vegas this weekend and then we will spend the rest of the summer around town.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Home....for now!

Phew...we are home. This summer has been a whirlwind. I am exhausted and a bit strung out. I am in a constant state of packing or unpacking. When I am home I have to work almost everyday since I am gone so much of the month. Usually I only work 2-3 days a week. Anyways....

The trip was fun. Nick stayed with his Nana and Poopaw for the week. He had a blast. They love him. He even enjoyed his Uncle Coby teasing him to death. Nick always went back for more.

The girls and I headed south after dropping Nick off and took Taylor and Alex to gymnastic camp. They had a blast. Alex wants to go to this camp for 2 weeks next summer. Taylor said she wanted to go back but just for one. She didn't want to be away from me for 2 weeks. How sweet ! :)

Lauren and I got some good Mom and daughter time while the other two girls were at camp. We went to water parks, movies, shopped and ate out without chasing a two-year old around.

Chris was home alone missing me :) while we were gone! Poor guy!

I'll post pictures soon. Too tired right now...off to bed.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Traveling again!

Tomorrow we are leaving for a little over a week and a half on vacation. We will spend some time with my in-laws and then I am taking Alex and Taylor to another gymnastic camp. I will not be able to post pictures for Nick's 7 month anniversary of his Gotcha Day. Nick's Gotcha Day was December 16th. Crazy how 7 months have flown by. Nick has definitely come out-of-his shell. He is the funniest little boy. He loves to tease and to laugh but boy is he bull-headed! It is so great to see what a "normal" 2 year-old he is. He is into everything, loves to run and pushes his boundries.
Nick was drinking root beer in this picture. We had a good laugh as it appeared we were giving our little boy a beer to quench his thirst.
Nick loves to run....especially if he knows we are trying to catch him. He has the funniest running stride. We are not seeing a future athlete...he often trips.
My awesome sister, Kumari, and Nick at the Hogle Zoo in Utah.
Well, I must go finish packing so I can have the car ready to leave when I go to work in the morning. I have patients until 2 p.m. and then we are off!