Tag Archives: “Helen”

Pretty, just like a princess (same password)

Today, we got an email from a very lovely friend of ours with new photos and a link to this video. It was so nice to see this video and see that she is doing so well and having lots of fun.

Reed, Lena and I watched it together. When it was done, I asked them what they thought of their sister. Reed said, “She is pretty… just like a princess.”
alyona3

I lovvvvve this photo! I just can’t wait until we’re the ones she smiles at like that.

alyona2

alyona1

The three of them together are going to be TROUBLE!

An Update

I’m sorry I haven’t updated in a week. Life has gotten kind of crazy.

We back to the US last Saturday in the evening. Sunday night, we began the 20 hour drive back to Kansas. Both kids got sick in Pennsylvania. It really seemed to get bad on the way home… for the second half of the drive, they couldn’t sleep for more than 15 minutes at a time without waking each other up coughing and crying. They’ve just been kind of all around miserable since– sleeping tons and grumpy when they’re awake. Lena especially also seems to be struggling with the fact that we left her for a week. The four of us just haven’t been having the best time together this week, between exhaustion, illness and attachment issues.

This was also an exciting week for us. Tuesday was our one year anniversary of court in Ukraine. Wednesday was Aaron’s birthday. He’s really old… Reed’s guess was 50. Yesterday was Lena’s 4th birthday. I’ll update more on L’s birthday in another post. She slept for most of the day, but she still had a chance to be a princess.

Our adoption has taken an interesting turn. I am not going to share the details here, but we had a bit of a rush this week trying to get some paperwork together and sent off. Please pray about this adoption, Helen’s future, and peace and clarity for us as we figure out what’s going on.

Paka! :(

Today was our last visit for this trip. I am glad to be going home, but it is sad to say goodbye to Alyona. Today was a good visit for us. I felt like we interacted with her a lot. Alla and Alyona’s nanny talked a lot and Alyona seemed pretty content to play with us.

I am not sure why I brought toys. Next time, I am going to go around my house before we leave and find odd little things to bring. On a whim, I grabbed one of the disposable combs from our hotel room. What a hit! I thought it would be good bonding for me to brush her hair, but her nanny suggested that she brush mine. Even better! She was very interested in brushing my hair. She kept asking me “does it hurt?” And I’d say “nyet, nyet” and then she’d ask again, like she didn’t believe me. A little 3 year old brushing your hair tickles more than it hurts!

After that, I got out the scarf. Hours of fun can be had with a scarf. I am not even kidding. R&L enjoy a scarf as well. Alyona likes to wrap it around her head or others’ heads. She looked like a nun, a model, little Red Riding Hood or a babushka, depending on how she wore it.


Babushka.


Little Red Riding Hood.


A model.


A nun.


Wrapping it around my head.


After putting it on me, she had to take a picture. I wonder where she learned that?


This is one of her toys that she really likes. It plays music.

This is another game that she really likes. It is difficult for me to do this with her.


Later in our visit, she decided that she needed to style my hair again. She has this little bubble blower, which blows air. She saw a big girl using a blow dryer one day, and now she uses her bubble machine to “blow dry” her hair.


We played a lot of hide and seek/peekaboo or as they call it cuckoo. She always recites this little poem, with help from Alla or her nanny. I really wanted to get a video of it, since it has been a staple of our week here. She got distracted by the camera and forgot to look for me! Oops!

Another favorite moment of our visit today was when I was trying to get her to play cuckoo again. I covered my eyes. She came over and said “ne plach” (don’t cry). It was so sweet. I pretend to cry some more and she told me again and gently grazed her hand over my cheek. It was a very loving gesture. I think that says a lot about the kind of care that she gets at the hospital.

We brought a Russian-to-English CD to give to Alyona and her nanny today. We have the English-to-Russian version. It teaches lots of basic things and I got it thinking that perhaps she would have an opportunity to listen to it, since she has a 1-on-1 nanny. I was afraid it might seem like we were forcing English on her already, but both Alla and her nanny seemed very excited about the idea. She has a CD player in her room, so they can listen to it right there. Alla joked that they ‘d probably be speaking English when we get back, and it’s true– they’ll probably know more English than we know Russian!

We had a lot of fun, and then she heard her friends playing. She was not so happy. This whole week we have been trying to entertain her in a tiny little 5’x15’ room. It is understandable how bored she was! We had a hard time entertaining R&L in the large playroom  at their orphanage. Alla said maybe it was time for us to go. I agree, as I’d rather have shorter fun visits with her than long, exhausting ones. We said goodbye and she kissed us both.

I know Alyona is getting some really wonderful care at the hospital. I am not concerned about her physically or emotionally at all. Her nanny is like a mama for her and she has some wonderful friends to play with. However, I am anxious for when we get to come and bring her home. For those of you who are not familiar with Russian adoption, we will have court in about 6-8 weeks, probably the end of January, a 10-day wait period and then we can do all of the paperwork to bring her home– passport, birth certs, embassy stuff.

A few people asked about the nannies. Alyona is an exception that she has a round-the-clock nanny. There is a special fund in place that allows her to have the nanny. The other child only have a nanny during the day. Either way, it is really wonderful for them to have that kind of one-on-one motherly care. Alyona’s nanny assists her medically, but she also spends a lot of time playing with her.

Thursday Visit

Our 3rd visit today. Again, first thing, I fed her. I try to make it fun, but I am not sure if it is helping or hurting. She and her nanny were going back and forth (in Russian), “Yucky!” “Yummy!” “Yucky!” “Yummy!” I imagine it is pretty yucky… it smells like wet dog food… and the whole idea of oatmeal with pureed meat does not sound appealing either.  She eats that and some speckled small egg… anyone want to guess what kind of egg it is? We will have the translation tomorrow. I also taught her the sign for eat. She tried to do it right away and said “aeeeet”.

PB300003
I pretend to eat it along with her.

Another doctor came in who spoke fluent English and asked if we had any questions. I don’t think anyone had told her that I already asked the other doctor about 50 questions, since she seemed to think I did not know much. Really, between the medical documents we’ve gotten and our questions to the nanny and her other doctor, I felt like my questions had been answered. This doctor also gave me her phone and email address, in case we or our doctors have any questions.

This was her favorite toy of the day. I asked if we could measure her, but they had just measured her this morning. Her nanny remembered the measurements and told them to us. She is the same height as Lena and about 5lbs heavier! Lena has a very slim build, so this is not surprising. Alyona’s measurements are more typical proportions. They should put her right in the 3T range, no falling down pants for this girl!


The balloon is a favorite of hers. Her nanny tells her to hit it, not kick it. That entertained her for a few minutes.

Then, I got out my phone. Oh boy, she LOVES my phone. I can tell it makes her nanny nervous that I just give her my phone, but I am aware of the risk of giving a 3 year old electronics! Today, she looked at videos of Reed and Lena. That was a hit.


Sitting on my lap with the phone.


This girl is smart. She would get really mad if I started to get close to her with the phone, thinking I’d take it away. So, whenever she’d turn to yell at me, I’d jump away, put my hands up and say “okay! okay!” Within minutes, she was repeating “okay!” Neither R or L were repeating English words this quickly… we heard two from her today “eat” and “okay”.


Sitting on the floor with the phone. Per Russian superstition, she is not supposed to sit on the floor, so she hid behind the bed to do it.


Here she is talking on the phone to her babushka. Pretend talking. I suggested it was babushka calling.

Day #2

Today was our second day visiting Alyona. I asked Alla to spell Alyona for us and she said it is spelled Алёна. That is like Alena, with the umlaut over the e. Do you call it an umlaut in Russian? I do not know.  I like the spelling Alyona better, since it makes it clear that it is a different prononciation than Elena or Alina. For those of you who asked, you pronounce it like Ah-loh-na.

Our visit today was not bad. First thing, I got to feed her. We were bonding over it, which was nice. I was mirroring her and opening my mouth wide to get her to. She was having a good time doing that. She had a bowl of porridge/oatmeal with meat added, an egg from some kind of small bird– not chicken and some tea. She said that she did not like the porridge or the egg, but quickly ate both of them.

We played with her for awhile inside. We showed her the photo album. She was curious, and seemed like the idea that she has a “sistra” (sister) and “brat” (brother– pronounced like the food, not a naughty child).

After awhile, we went to play outside. She was SO excited. She kept asking, “will Papa come outside? will Mama come outside? will Alla come outside? Maybe Masha is already out on the playground. Do you think Masha is already out on the playground?” Over and over again, while jumping up and down.

Masha was not out at the playground when we first got there, so we played for awhile. Check out the playground equipment…

Can you recognize what the theme is? Hint, it made me feel very at home! Or maybe it made me wish I was home? Not sure which.

After a short while, “Peter”(Petrushka?) came out with his nanny and then Masha followed. They are both orphans who live in the hospital as well.

The children and their nannies. I think Masha is the same little one we see on Alyona’s floor at the hospital. If so, she is ADORABLE.

We tried to play outside for awhile. Alyona’s nanny is a bit of a helicopter nanny… she hovers or is holding her hand the whole time. She is very sweet, but it makes it hard for us to interact with her.

We went back and played inside for a little while more. It was nothing exciting. Alyona just yells at us in Russian and it is so frustrating if Alla is not right there to translate. It reminds me a lot of a certain little boy who used to yell at us in Russian. We try to distract her and come up with different games, but it is difficult in the teeny tiny little room that we are in.


I picked her up to look at her reflect on the mirror on the door. She knocked on the door and began to act our a Russian fairy tale where a wolf knocks on the door of a mouse’s house, the mouse opens the door and then the wolf eats the mouse? She was the wolf, her nanny was the mouse.


At the end of our visit, Alla gave us some medical paperwork translated into English. It is from last October. We will be getting the rest of the medical updates on Friday. I guess these papers were put together and translated because they thought she might get surgery in Belgium, which never happened. I read through what I could understand. Interestingly enough, the height and weight we got for her is from LAST OCTOBER. It is over a year old. We thought she weighed quite a bit more than that. She seems right in between Reed and Lena size-wise to us, which means she must be pretty average. Sorry, Little Lena, you are still going to be the family peanut.

After our visit, we were going to go to Pushkin Fine Art Museum, at Alla’s recommendation. We pulled up to the museum and there was a huge line. I guess they have some special Italian exhibition right now. Instead, we went to the Kremlin. We had walked by it by it, but not gone inside.


I can’t say that I would recommend it. We had tickets for the Cathedrals, which I did not understand. I expected more history, not walking around more cathedrals. I would recommend either St. Basil’s OR the Kremlin, and the Kremlin is a better choice if Alla buys tickets for you. It is twice the price for foreigns as for Russians, so Alla got us Russian tickets. St. Basil’s was just a bit less expensive.


This is my favorite cathedral from the outside. It was not open on the inside. The other cathedrals looked very shiny and similar and this one was unique.

I am sure I am totally dumbing-down the experience of the Kremlin. I think maybe we would have enjoyed it more with an audio tour? Or a real tour guide? We used a little pocket guide, but it is hard to read and walk. And, we were both cold, tired and hungry.


We drove by this monument today… we both were amused by it. It seems a bit out of place and looks like a huge pirate ship from far away! It is actually a monument to Peter the Great and the Russian navies. Pretty awesome monument, but all I can think of is Captain Hook.