Sunday, December 23, 2007

Another cute photo

We had a bunch of family arrive today and though I'm a bit depressed that my dad and stepmom couldn't make it, (it was last minute, my Dad's sciatica is acting up and he is in a lot of pain)-- it is just so fun to have everyone here. Robert's two oldest sons came; Scott who is early 20's came today with his girlfriend whom we all really like - he lives close by so we do get to see him pretty often. And Stewart came with his wife Erin and cute, cutest 3 little boys - they live in FL where he is in the Air Force. We don't get to see them too often so we are all so excited to have them here --- the boys are having a blast, even though our boys are much older, they still have such a great time playing with their "nephews". Wow. We have A LOT of presents under our tree. I'll take a picture tomorrow so you can see. It is pretty obscene with all our presents and all Stew and Erin's. Oh well, I promised my husband that we would never have so many gifts again, but I can't wait for Christmas morning, I hope everyone loves their stuff.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Vist to Santa

The Beautiful Baxter Children!

We went to the Mall to get our picture with Santa. I was worried Rosie might be scared, but, of course, she wasn't. It was too funny because the lady kept try to get her to smile, but instead of smiling, Rosie just mimicked her. In this shot, the lady is clapping to try to get Rosie to smile (kinda weird when you think about it), so Rosie just started clapping too. Well, mom thought that was too cute so this is the shot I took! I am just so proud of all 4 of my children. They are gifts from God and each one is so, so different and has his or her own skills, talents and gifts. That is what you really learn when you have more than one child. It has helped me to appreciate the diversity of God's children (and my own) and maybe to understand a little more the way He works and why.

What would I do without the child who can run quick and catch the dog? What would I do without the child who knows where everything is? How could I survive without the child who can comfort me? What about the child who can make me laugh no matter how bad things are or how much pain I'm in? What about my little one who is so smart he can figure anything out? Or the one who can put anything together that is broken? What about the one who loves to cuddle with me still, even though he's almost grown up. This stuff never occurred to me before, when I had one child. Don't get me wrong - when it was just me and Alexander, life was divine and we were exquisitly happy, I've just learned so much and grown so much and I rejoice in my children and thank God for them everyday!



Tuesday, December 18, 2007

First Snow

This is Rosie's favorite way to spend time - hanging around on Daddy's back. If Daddy is too, too busy or not around, she will ride around on one of the boys or even on my mom. She will stay on Robert's back for an hour while he is doing something - she loves it. These pictures are in the wrong order chronologically, but this was our first (and only so far) snow. We got it around the beg. of December and it actually stuck for a day or two. Rosie and Shasta (the dog) played outside for a long time - she thought it was quite exciting until she came inside and said her fingers were "hot" -poor thing was frozen, but she had a blast.


My ever diligent mother outside cleaning up before things got slippery. Look how pretty the trees look in the background- my own little forest - I love it. The boys played outside for a long, long time, but by then, I was too cold and tired to take any more photos. Darn - I'll get more next time.
Shasta is always nearby Rosie. They play chase and tag and when Rosie sleeps, Shasta usually curls up either nearby or practically on top of Rosie! They are pretty bonded but also jealous of each other. Rosie will push Shasta away and whine and cry if Shasta sits too close to me. Ah, tis sweet to be loved.

Halloween, if a bit belated..

The boys made their own costumes. I took my wheelchair and hit the door to door with them, but I wore out quickly. Rosie lasted the longest. What a great concept- begging for candy - she loved it!

A Few Pix...

Rosie taking her bath in the kitchen sink while she finger paints. Max's 12th Birthday on October 26th. My good mother made the cake for me.
Carving Pumpkins Baxter style; with plenty of mess! Rosie always catches on right away!
Our Jack O Lanterns.
Rosie was a ladybug for Halloween - she picked the costume herself.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas....

I am so excited for Christmas this year!! I have been feeling pretty good the last 4 or 5 days and I get a week off of chemo so I have every reason to believe I will have a good Christmas and I"m excited about it.

We had promised (or I had promised Robert) that we would be very, very low key this year with money, since things are tough financially and we've incurred huge amounts of debt with our move and the medical stuff and buying a house etc etc. Robert has been very concerned of course, so have I, but I just felt such an urgency to make this a Christmas my boys would remember and maybe Rosie too - at least through pictures.

We are going to have quite a few guests - Robert's son, Stewart, is coming up from Florida with his wife Erin and their 3 beautiful little boys and his other son Scott (single) will come and my Dad and Stepmom are coming. It will be the first time we will have a family gathering besides my mom for Christmas and I think it will help to make it very memorable for my children.

I continue to have these thoughts going through my head that this will be my best, or "healthiest" Christmas so I have to make it good. With that in mind, I've gone way over budget, thereby stressing my poor husband out. But I do promise and swear to make it up in the New Year. That is going to be my resolution; to point all efforts to getting our debt paid off.

Today we got a little Christmas package from one of my dearest friends and she sent us $300 -- The money she and her husband would have spent on each other for Christmas. Can you imagine? When I say that I have amazing friends, I'm not kidding! Anyway, just when my husband was feeling so low and worried, we got this check out of the blue. Thank you to W&S - you are remarkable people. Also, all my other friends who've sent notes and prayers and meals, you too take my breath away with your love and generosity. We are so blessed!! I pray that you all have the Spirit with you in your homes as you celebrate Christmas and spend time with your loved ones.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sweet Land of Liberty...

I don't blog much about my country, but I sure do love America, I love all the people who serve her too - Govt. employees, local, fed etc. Postman and DMV workers and garbage pickup guys. My heart lies with our military though. I worked from 1986 to 1991 in Germany while I was going to school. I was a tour guide and mostly took military personnel and their families on trips around Europe. It was a hard job and one for a young, very in shape person, but I loved it. I loved the people who serve. Not all of them start out in the military for totally patriotic reasons, but that is okay because they are making America a better place. What I have found though is that they always develop a love for our country, especially those serving overseas.

I've been All over the world and seen such mysteries and such beauties. Exotic places and peaceful places and places where true miracles have occured. So much beauty the Lord has created for us to enjoy, but I must say, there is just no place like America and I for one and glad to be home. It isn't perfect here, but we all have a chance to make it a better place. I have to share this poem with you. My good friend forwarded it to me so you may have already seen it, but it is just so beautiful, I had to share it. Keep it in mind, remember them. I have friends who are serving now, one is the son of a good friend, one is an e-friend whose son just got home from serving in Iraq, one is a career man who is getting ready to retire after a life of serving our country and serving deligently in our church I might add. God Bless you all, I love you for all you have done for me and for my family and I am so happy for those of you who can be with family this Christmas and I pray for those of you who aren't.

Please read on.....
The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,Transforming the yard to a winter delight.The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know, Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,And I crept to the door just to see who was near.Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

'What are you doing?' I asked without fear,'Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!'

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..To the window that danced with a warm fire's light

Then he sighed and he said 'Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night.' '

It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at ' Pearl on a day in December,'
Then he sighed, 'That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers.'
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam ',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,The red, white, and blue... an American flag.

I can live through the cold and the being alone,Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother.. Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall.
''So go back inside,' he said, 'harbor no fright,Your family is waiting and I'll be all right.'


'But isn't there something I can do, at the least,'Give you money,' I asked, 'or prepare you a feast?It seems all too little for all that you've done,For being away from your wife and your son.'
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
'Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.'

LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN30th Naval Construction RegimentOIC, Logistics Cell OneAl Taqqadum , Iraq

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Footprints in the Sand

Most people have probably read this poem before, but it is so beautiful and I think it is a good reminder during the holidays when we get so silly and stressed out when all we are supposed to be doing is thinking about family and the Lord and REJOICING.


Footprints in the Sand
One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there was one only.
This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints, so I said to the Lord,
“You promised me Lord,that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”
The Lord replied, “The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.”

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

First Snow!!

We got our first sprinkling today and it is so beautiful! Daniel and Alexander and Rosie played outside for about an hour- it was so fun to watch Rosie in snow for the first time. She kept her mittens on after she tried playing without them for a minute. I wish I could go outside and play with them, but I'm hoping that time will come soon. When she came back in, my mom put her right into the bath - she was saying her hands were "hot" and seemed very confused by that. She stayed in the bath an hour!

I want to thank everyone for their well wishes and prayers on my second surgery. I am doing really great this time and recovery better than the first time - probably because I didn't break the hip first! I am feeling pretty good and am mostly in my wheelchair but getting around well with my walker and can go very short distances on my own- I wobble like donald duck's grandma but I didn't walk too much better before I broke my hip; due to all the tumors in my hips/legs I still waddled and walked very poorly.

I am having one problem with my left leg (first surgery, with the broken hip), the nail, which attaches the rod to the hip bone is slightly coming out. It isn't such a big deal medically, but it is very painful, especially when I first stand or try to sit down/get up. After seeing the oncologist,surgeon last week, he said we'd wait till after the holidays (thank you!!) and then we may have to look at replacing the nail. Oh, how I dread going back to surgery and the hospital. Oh well, whatever it takes.

Other than that, things are going really well, we are still getting unpacked, but reaching the end. All the kids seem to be doing great and we are so excited by the beauty of this first snow. Well, everyone but Robert is excited; it took him 2 hours to get to work this morning.

Rosie is starting to talk lots. She babbles to fill in between words and there are lots of words that she can't say. LIke, she says "mo" instead of "no". A lot of people send their chinese children to speech therapists and I guess we may have to look at that, but with all we have going on, I'll wait till I'm teaching her to read and see how it manifests at that time.

Copper. You may remember that we adopted a sweet and really wonderful dog named Copper. The boys bonded with him instantly, expecially Alexander who seemed to really fall in love with him and attach to him more than I've ever seen from Alexander. We'd had him about 5 days when I went into surgery. I came out of surgery and Robert (oh, my wonderful and dedicated husband) was at my side when I awoke. I asked him to call home and make sure all was okay and tell them that I was out of the anesthetic and feeling fine. He went over to the phone and was looking very distressed, turning his back to me, speaking low etc. I knew immediately it had to be something with Copper. I was just praying he hadn't escaped, gotten run over by a car or some other miserable thing. Robert came back and told me that my mom and the kids were on their way out and my mom had to run back upstairs to get something. In that split second, Rosie let the dogs out and followed them outside. Alexander went to look for her and found Copper, with his mouth firmly planted around her legs, dragging her across the back yard. Alexander was out in a flash and got the baby- it wasn't a big deal to Copper - he was just playing, but Rosie was full of mud and had obviously been dragged quite far. To shorten it up, we had to give Copper back. It broke our hearts, we were shocked how much we loved him so quickly. He is such a good, good, dog. Well, except for the eating babies part. I just couldn't take the risk. Anyway, it was so traumatic and emotional I haven't even thought about another dog yet and Alexander has said he doesn't want one. I will have to think on it and pray on it and see what would be best for the whole family and for Shasta.

Well, I"ve rambled enough, just needed to update since my last surgery and give love and thanks to you all. We appreciate your thoughts and prayers so much!!

More Angels...

My dear friend just sent this to me and I have to share it with you all if you haven't seen it yet. It hits hard especially since I just lost my own dear dog. Love to you all..


This is one of the kindest things I've ever experienced. I have no way to know who sent it, but there is a beautiful soul working in the dead letter office of the US Postal Service.

Our 14 year old dog, Abbey, died last month. The day after she died, my 4 year old daughter Meredith was crying and talking about how much she missed Abbey. She asked if we could write a letter to God so that when Abbey got to heaven, God would recognize her. I told her that I thought we could so she dictated these words:

Dear God, Will you please take care of my dog? She died yesterday and is with you in heaven. I miss her very much. I am happy that you let me have her as my dog even though she got sick. I hope you will play with her. She likes to play with balls and to swim. I am sending a picture of her so when you see her. You will know that she is my dog. I really miss her.
Love, Meredith.

We put the letter in an envelope with a picture of Abbey and Meredith and addressed it to God/Heaven. We put our return address on it. Then Meredith pasted several stamps on the front of the envelope because she said it would take lots of stamps to get the letter all the way to heaven. That afternoon she dropped it into the letter box at the post office. A few days later, she asked if God had gotten the letter yet. I told her that I thought He had.
Yesterday, there was a package wrapped in gold paper on our front porch addressed, "To Meredith , " in an unfamiliar hand. Meredith opened it. Inside was a book by Mr. Rogers called, "When a Pet Dies." Taped to the inside front cover was the letter we had written to God in its opened envelope.
On the opposite page was the picture of Abbey & Meredith and this note:
Dear Meredith, Abbey arrived safely in heaven. Having the picture was a big help. I recognized Abbey right away. Abbey isn't sick anymore. Her spirit is here with me just like it stays in your heart. Abbey loved being your dog. Since we don't need our bodies in heaven, I don't have any pockets to keep your picture in, so I am sending it back to you in this little book for you to keep and have something to remember Abbey by. Thank you for the beautiful letter and thank your mother for helping you write it and sending it to me. What a wonderful mother you have. I picked her especially for you. I send my blessings every day and remember that I love you very much. By the way, I'm easy to find, I am wherever there is love. Love, God

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Autumn or Fall

Well, as the colors slowly change, things start to feel new again. It has been a hard time missing my Hercules and we have felt so empty around here. We couldn't take it anymore and went down to one of the lost dog/ rescue places and got ourselves an old hound dog. Actually, he is a new hound dog - only 1 1/2 yrs old and quite a cutey. His name is Copper and he has helped lift our spirits quite a bit.

I am now getting ready to go for surgery in the morning. They are going to replace my other hip/femur with another big steel rod. The Bionic Woman! I am so not looking forward to leaving to the hospital for another week or whatever it will be. It is so hard to be away from everyone for so long. I am going to take my scriptures and try my hardest to stay connected.

I haven't been to church in over a month - 5 weeks I think. I have never done that before and it does feel so lonely. Of course, I know the Lord is with me wherever I am, but it just feels like when we go to church its our special meeting place and He's expecting me....anyway, I just miss church and all the sisters there.

So many people have written me little notes and I thank you for thinking of us and keeping us in your prayers. I do believe that you all are praying me alive. I do. Sometimes, when I do feel weak or sick and tired, I can feel the Lord taking pity on me and carrying me along for a while. Thank you all so much for interceeding on my behalf - He does listen.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

trials, tribulations, and enduring to the end...

Well, I haven't posted in so very long. I just haven't known where to start. My dad and Sandy (my stepmom who isn't stepish at all but more like a 2nd mom) have been here to visit several times and my mom, who is living with us for a year or so, has been serving my family like some sort of an indentured servant, dear, dear people from our new ward (church) have been bringing us meals and lending us things to make life easier. My Nana and Ken have been here for nearly 2 weeks, they have been doing all sorts of odds and ends to help out and my Nana even sewed me the most beautiful curtains for the front door. We have again learned so much from the examples of others and it humbles us and warms us at the same time. We are also so appreciative that people are willing to share their time and talents with us.

I had been responding pretty well to the chemotherapy and went on Oct. 5th for an MRI and a CT to check on the tumors. They didn't show much positive on the bone tumors, but they showed a significant decrease in the size of the tumors in my liver and in my lymph nodes. This was just such a miracle. The doctors were esctatic - the purpose of the chemo is to stop or slow down the growth of the tumors but they don't really expect them to get smaller!! We just felt so thrilled and blessed.

However, around the 3rd of Oct, I started having a strange and very uncomfortable pain in my left leg, thigh and hip. It hurt quite a bit. In the evening of Sat 13th, I was coming up to the top of the stairs and I heard a terrible SNAP in my leg-- followed by excruciating PAIN. I screamed and screamed at the top of my lungs and all my children/dogs/mom/Robert gathered around me but I couldn't catch my breath, nor even explain what had happened. It was so awful. My mom called the ambulance (again) and off I went. Leaving, my poor children on the porch behind me, waving and crying and saying good-bye. I don't want to be melodramatic, but what a sad moment in my life. You never want your children to have to be worried or scared about you...you are supposed to keep them safe from harm and fear; right?

Anyway, I fractured my hip. On Sunday I had surgery, something they call pinning. I found out later that it wasn't really the right procedure for me to have. Pinning is placing long, metal pins into the bones and depends upon the bones healing so the Pins can support the bones and actually take some of the weight of the bones. Well, my surgeon wasn't an oncologist so he didn't realize that my poor tumor riddled bones are not going to heal. So, it turns out this is only going to be a temporary measure.

We got some more pictures taken of my innards and it looks like the right hip could crack at any time, so they are going to ahead and PIN that one together too. After the left leg gives out, they will go ahead and do a total hip replacement surgery. Don't ask me why they do it this way, but I figure they (these specialist surgeon types) get paged huge, enormous amounts of money to figure this stuff out so it must be right.....right?

On top of all this mental and physical pain, we had another passing that has left us sad and empty. My dearest Hercules; cuddlemate, confidant, protector, and greatest listener and most patient friend - my Hercules who never judged me and loved me no matter what I did or how I looked--My Hercules, my dog....has left into the night. He had some sort of a stroke on Sunday, October 28th. I haven't told anyone about this yet because it is too painful to speak about--I didn't even tell Nana and Ken about it though they were here till Monday morning--I just didn't want to bring it up. We have all been affected by his passing and there has been a sadness in the house that can only be lessened by time and the filling in of good memories. Shasta (dog number 2, aged 3 yrs) is having a hard time and spends a lot of time just lying next to me, depressed and lythargic. The first night, Max woke up several times during the night saying that he couldn't sleep without Hercules. It wrenches at my guts for my children to be in so much pain, especially because I feel like concentrating on my pain! But, together we will get through this and find a special place in our hearts for Hercules. My Dad and Sandy bought a memorial rock for us to put in the back yard- it is a hunk of black and white granite, unfinished, which we put in the little hole in the backyard which was Hercule's favorite place to lie down. How we all love him.

Better times are surely ahead!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Touched by Angels

I can't remember what I've posted in the past, but the chemo I was on (Xeloda) did not work for me at all. We wasted several weeks with it and I was sick and in the hospital with all the side effects. I'll spare the details but it was bad.

Yesterday, I started some new stuff and so far I don't feel anywhere near as bad as with the xeloda. A little weak and shaking this morning and my bones are killing me but no other bad effects yet.

When I was at the hospital yesterday, one of the nurses came by with sandwhiches - of course they all had meat in them (I'm vegetarian) and I politely declined although I was thinking I better get something in my tummy before dumping all that med into it.

The nurse came back a few minutes later with a portion of eggplant parmasiana that the kitchen had sent up for the nurses - she brought a roll for me too. I was so grateful and as I lay there for 6 hours I kept thinking of all the angels that have pulled me through life's trials. The other day I was thanking all my friends in Germany and Austria and all my family, how can I mention everyone??

A certain friend comes to mind; Dawnella - I've posted often about her, she isthe one who threw me the baby shower. What was so wild about that baby shower was that I hardly knew anyone there. Not only were we new to our ward (congregation), but Dawnella invited a bunch of sisters from her ward whom I'd never met!! Recently she told me that all those sisters (whom I only just barely know or have met only once or even not at all) are praying for me. My stranger angels - certainly the Lord will hear their prayers. I know I have. There have been times when I felt like giving up but it could have only been all your prayers that pulled me through. How I love you all and how blessed I am to know that kind of love - how many people get that opportunity?

I hear that the sister's children pray for me too - I'm sure nothing could be more important than the prayers of your little ones.

A Brighter View

I have to apologize for my last post. I was in a dark place and overwhelmed that morning and mostly just posted to try to vent my feelings and put them "on paper" hoping they would leave my head.

It worked though and I'm feeling much better. Much better. I decided that I need to refocus and not waste another moment feeling sorry for myself. I have so much to do, so much to teach my children, so much love I have to show my husband, so many mistakes to make up for!

I have decided that if my love were pure, like the pure love of Christ, I would only want what would make my husband happy - I would truly want what is best for my husband, for my children and I need to stop thinking about the future and pay more attention to the here and now.

I'm sure my resolve will wax and wane but for now I'm feeling pretty positive. There are people in my conidition with my dx who have survived 10+ yrs so that is what I'm shooting for!

I have so much support; my mom has been reassigned to Washington D.C. for a year so she is going to live with us for a whole year and take care of me and help us. Of course she needs to work but she can get sick leave etc for emergencies. My dad and stepmom are here right now helping us get our new house fixed up so we can move in next week. We've been in a hotel for nearly 2 months now and it is getting so old.

I have had so many emails from friends and loved ones, thank you all so much. You can't imagine what your notes mean to me. A special thanks to all my sisters in Frankfurt. We were only there for one year and I didn't have a chance to make friends. Part of that was just because I didn't participate much due to pain and feeling lousy and part was because I was homeschooling and didn't have much time. But you have all really come through for me - the members from our ward, sending me notes, praying for me, sending your love. I was just crying with appreciation this morning, so grateful for your prayers - you are such righteous women and I know the Lord hears you.

I went to church here yesterday and it is the same thing again - trying to fit into a new ward. But the Sacrament meeting was so wonderful, the spirit was strong and one of the families did a musical number that was so beautiful. It helped me so much, I felt my strength wiggling and stretching and trying to grow and I am so grateful -so grateful.

Also, my sisters in Vienna - I have felt your prayers too and read your notes and could almost feel your hugs and tears. You have embraced me with your words and love and it helps me get up in the morning and start the next day.

Family, friends, love, strength in trials...thats what its all about. I have the most wonderful family. I'm so blessed to have my grandparents still alive, to have extended family on Robert's side and on my side...my cousin, my nana, my aunt, my parents, siblings,even friends of my relatives whom I barely know (Myrna, Leslie, ) ....all praying for me, pulling for me, sending me love. It makes me ashamed of my last post. I know I'll never blow away as dust in the wind. You all make me real.

Why Me?

I'm trying so hard not to ask this painful and pointless question. My faith isn't as strong as it used to be. Or, maybe I don't care so much about things eternal, about my work on the other side, about Heavenly Father's path for me-- I will get to see all these things much sooner than I want to so I guess it is hard to focus on them.

Why me?

If you don't really know me and my family, it would be so hard for you to imagine the perfection we have. We have worked so hard to build our eternal family, we have literally bled, sweat, and given every last dime over and over again to build up this wonderful family - for us - to the Lord-for eternity.
Alexander - no other boy like him exists; kind, loving, sensitive, funny, weird - he is me, but better and smarter. He is my blood, my life for the last 13 years. I can't separate him, the giant, not yet totally coordinated, computer nerd from the 3 yr old who kept his tiny hand safely in mine.

Max and Daniel- I put them together because we got them at the same time. Only 4 short years ago. I held them as they scratched the skin off their faces, I taught them English and explained a strange new world to them. I made them shed their old fears, taught them good behavior, struggled to bring them the gospel. I have tried so hard to help them fit in, so understand love and family.

Rosie - Please, I will lose it totally just thinking of her sweet face. I have given her my heart, she brings me such joy even in my pain. She makes us all laugh and bonds us together with the sweet mushy feeling we get in our hearts when watch her learn something new or mimic one of the boys, or try to bite her tic tac in half to share with daddy.

Robert - My husband, my love, the center of my universe. He loves me and has shown me love I didn't know existed. He loves me for real. He would give me the world if I asked. He repents, he forgives he is mine completely and I am his totally. He is my eternal companion; without him it just doesn't make any sense - it just couldn't be.

They are mine, all mine, right? I did this, right? I created this family, I brought us together, we are love and they are mine. My mother, my father, my in-laws, and grandparents - they are mine - how can they all survive without me?

I have to be there to hug my boys when they get their hearts broken the first time, to watch them marry, to hold my grandchildren. I have to teach Rosie about being a girl, a woman. I have to take care of my dogs - they need me too - I have always been there for them, they can't go on without me. What about my stepmom? We have had a special relationship for the last 30 yrs - she needs me too.

Is it possible I could move slowly to the next life and be gone? Could Robert remarry in a couple years and could I just become as dust? Who will remind the boys about the time Hercules passed gas in the car and we drew the attention of all the Austrians - no one else knows about that. Who will love them like I do? Could I just disappear? It hurts so much.

Yesterday at the cancer center I saw a miserable old man in a wheel chair. His face was pulled down in a permanent grimace; either from years of just being an awful person or maybe from the pain and disappointment this awful disease brings. His wife was a quite, humble, unassuming woman with an apologetic smile pasted to her face. He spoke terribly to her, "I told you not to touch the brakes (on the wheelchair) what the hell are you thinking" etc etc. I couldn't stand it. I wanted to jump up and ask her, "Was he always like this, or did the cancer do it to him?" Could I become that man? No way Holly, you say. But I've had my moments too- anger, totally displaced, ridiculous.

Why couldn't this be Robert? He would be so much stronger going through the cancer. And I would be so much stronger if he died. I would never remarry, never replace him. I could handle the children myself, but he could never be a single parent, never. He will find someone and she will replace me. She will take my husband, my children, my life, my work, my love and I will become dust, dust in the wind. I hope she reads this some day so she knows that no matter how hard it may seem sometimes, she has perfection.

It is just so hard.

We've Lost Her....

I haven't posted in so long. So much has happened. In June, I was diagnosed with bone cancer. Actually, to be more acurate, the Breast Cancer is on the move again. I now have "metastisized Breast Cancer in my bones and liver". It is quite advanced. Prognosis not good - they give me 2 yrs w/ less than 20% making it 5 yrs. Though, they say that some have lived longer.

We are now back in the states and bought a home in Manassas and I'm deep into chemo/radiation world again. It is just so much scarier this time -- I had that elusive Hope before and that was what I held onto. Last time I was just so proud of my faith and this time, well, I'm weak.

To shorten it a bit, this has obviously caused us to lose Anastasia. I can't go into it - it is still too painful but I wanted to let you know what is happening. They (our agency) are going to be letting her know soon - as soon as we finish all the last paperwork.

It is so ironic - we should have our courtdate anyday now - how can it be?
Max is having a really hard time with this and has been acting up terribly.
Hold your loved ones close and don't miss a day.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Darla Dixon; Rosie

I have been so fortunate to know so many wonderful artists. I try really hard not to be jealous of their talents, I know I have my own talents (like, hmm, I can sleep through an earthquake), but oh how I admire people who can create beauty from a lump of clay or a stick of charcoal, or those who can somehow twist metal and solder it and burn it to form something that melts my heart; or those who take a piece of wood or a hunk of marble and see an elephant or a graceful, running giraffe; or those who can take words and put them to melody with an instrument or their own voice till the tears run down my face. How Heavenly Father has blessed those people - they beautify the world with their talents and skills. A few years ago, I was introduced (virtually) to Darla Dixon http://www.darladixon.com/ who is a consumate artist. She drew a picture of Alexander from a photo and then, and this is so amazing, she did age regression pix of Daniel and Max - they are the only "baby pictures" we have of them and I love them so much. Well, to go with my set, she just drew Rosie. I'm so excited to get the actual picture, but for now, she emailed this to me....


Go to this link to see the pix Darla did of the boys:
(you have to scroll about 3/4 of the way down)
http://baxterfamilyvienna.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2005-01-01T00%3A00%3A00%2B01%3A00&updated-max=2006-01-01T00%3A00%3A00%2B01%3A00&max-results=31

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

New Link

I added a new link today. It is my "Wish List". Why?, you may ask, would I want to start dreaming about gifts when I'm in the middle of so many goings on. Well, I guess I've just been thinking about Christmas coming up and wondering how we are going to handle it this year. Each year we downsize a litte more and it seems each year we add another child or two! Anyway, I've added a few things on this link that I really like (for me) or gifts that you may like for a loved one. I've just started it but will add fun things as I come across them or as you let me know about things you've found.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Weighty Matters

I just have to post a quick note about how proud I am of my family. On May 7th, Alexander and I started on a pretty restrictive diet. Alexander has lost 10 pounds!! He has been faced with such amazing challenges and temptations, I am just so proud of him. We have been to so many dinners, bbqs, church activities etc in the last couple of months and he has resisted all temptations, sometimes he was even brought to tears, but he hung in there. I am jumping up and down with pride. Not only is he getting healthier, but he is learning about his own ability to control his passions - what wonderful things he is teaching himself.

Alexander's amazing success has inspired Robert to get on an exercise program and he is working out at 6am everyday. He has also cut his caloric intake in half and stopped snacking. This is the first time in his life that he has ever been able to "diet". He says he is inspired by Alexander.

I have to also say something about my skinny Daniel and Max; of course they can eat whatever they want, but I have stopped buying any junk so it isn't in the house for the other 3 of us and also I've had a few special things for Alexander to help him out like Crystal Lite, and some diet desserts -- the boys haven't complained one bit and they have been totally supportive.

I am so grateful for my family - they are just wonderful! Losing weight is SO HARD! If you don't have any extra - don't get any!

Anastasia

I know, I haven't posted about Anastasia in such a long, long time. I guess I'm just feeling frustrated, or maybe I'm holding my breath and don't want to jinx anything. Sigh. It is actually all good news, but we had really thought we would have our court date in June, but no dice.

However...we have supplied every last thing that the Department of Education has asked for- for all of our extenuating circumstances. They have everything now and should be requesting "The Letter" from the Ministry of Education very soon. The process now is that the DOE requests a letter from the MOE stating that Anastasia has officially been removed from the Database and that she is available for us to adopt. After the DOE gets that letter (takes 2-4 weeks), then they will submit our dossier to the Courts for review. After the Courts review the info, they will give us the court date. There is usually a several week lead time on that too. Still, we could get the court date in August if everything goes smoothly, for which, of course, we are praying and praying.

I just sent Anastasia another letter letting her know Max won't be coming with us (for finanacial reasons). I also asked her to consider either changing her name or going by "Anastasia" or Ann or Annie. Or if she likes it, we could change it to "Nadia" which is still close to Nastia but is a bit more usual for Americans. However, I told her if she wants to continue to go by Nastia, we will support her fully. I just think that in a couple of years she won't be comfortable with Nastia anymore - just like Daniel came to hate "Dmitry" and Max never goes by Maxim. Well, whatever she decides is fine - we just want to get her home.

Now, we face the next problem. Our plan is for Robert, Rosie and I to go to Russia for the court date. Robert will be gone about 5 days. In Vladivostok there is a 10 day waiting period after the court date. I will have to stay there with Rosie and Anastasia for the 10 days but Robert will come home to the boys during that time. He will have to take off work. I will then have to take Anastasia to the U.S. to get her citizenship. It is going to be an awful long time for me to be away from the boys and I'm trying really hard not to freak out about it and keep an "eternal perspective", but I've never been away from them for more than a night. Also, we aren't sure that my mom will be able to stay with the boys while both Robert and I are gone. There are lots of logistics to still figure out but its hard to do when we don't have the court date yet.

Well, I'm trying to focus on the good news and know that it won't be long before Anastasia is at last at home where she belongs. All the seats at the dining room table will be filled...oh, I can't wait!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Funny Girl


Rosie tries Nutella for the first time. She thinks it's pretty good. Step two: The Bath. She is doing more and more acrobatics in the tub; showing her native Chinese abilities to flex into virtually any position!

These handle bars come in handy for new tricks she is trying, but alas, taking a bath is a tiring affair and before long she passes out on the couch.
A few hours later it looks like she might be ready for round two?


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

THE GIFT

Wow. We really got our socks knocked off today. I have posted before about Ms. Leslie - she is a friend of my Nana's. She heard about our quest to adopt Anastasia and decided to help in any way possible. She has done lots of things for us already and two years in a row now, she has involved her kindergarten classes in helping to raise money for us.

They really outdid themselves though. These are 5 year old children and they have pictures of Anastasia up in their classroom - Ms. Leslie has told them all about her and they decided they would like to help. They have been doing chores, making beds and I don't know what else, to raise money for us. This weekend, we opened a little box, with two checks in it, totaling $1000.00.

It brought tears to our eyes. We would have been overwhelmed it if were $50.00, because it is just the thought and work and love that went into it; but that they raised so much money, well, it just shows such a long term comittment from these little sweethearts.

If the truth be known, this money is heaven sent from these little angels. This battle has drained us financially and this huge amount of money will actually purchase tickets to Vladivostok - can you imagine?? There will be enough left over to buy treats for the children at the orphange too. Oh, how wonderful!! I have been praying that these children will be blessed for their love and generousity, but I think they've already been blessed with the greatest joy: Ms. Leslie for their teacher!

Here is a copy of the letter I sent the children. I hope Ms. Leslie will send a copy home with each child and I hope she gives them our blog address too so they can see pictures of us getting Anastasia. How wonderful to help total strangers!


June 9, 2007



Dear Ms. Leslie and Children and Parents of Ms. Leslie’s class,


The Baxter family has just received the most amazing gift and we wanted to write you a note right away and thank you for all of your efforts on our behalf and on the behalf of our sweet daughter, Anastasia.

Ms. Leslie probably has told you all about our little girl Anastasia and about our son, Max. Max has been waiting nearly 4 years to be with his sister again. The Russian government has made a lot of changes during this time and we have had to do a lot of different things to make sure they remember that we want our daughter. All of this work has cost a lot of money, but it doesn’t matter, we have always had faith that we would get our daughter and that somehow all of the problems would work out.

Now, we know we will get to go to Russia this summer and bring Anastasia home. Can you imagine how happy and excited we are? Sometimes, Max gets so excited to see his sister, that he even starts crying. We get to call Anastasia sometimes and she cries too because she wants to be home with us and she misses Max so much. But now, our family will have only tears of joy, because Max and Anastasia get to be together again! Anastasia gets to be in a home with a mom and a dad and a little sister and three brothers – she will be the luckiest girl ever!

We received your gift today and we just about fell over -- we were so surprised. We heard that you had been doing lots of work to help us and we are so touched that you are helping a little girl that you don’t even know. You are all very special children and you must have very special families to have helped us so very much. We would love to hear more about what you did to collect so much money for Anastasia – you all deserve a special thank you and we will be remembering you in our prayers.

We wish we could meet you all and tell you in person how much you have helped us. For now though, please remember that you were able to help make a change in a family’s life. Not many children your age get to learn that they are able to help someone so much, please don’t forget that, you will be able to do so much good in the world with the things you have learned this year. You helped a little girl get her brother back and get her Forever Family – that is a very special gift you have given her. You helped a boy get his sister back; he is just a little boy who misses his sister so very much and you helped to make him happy and excited. You have helped the whole Baxter family; at a time when we really needed help and we thank you so very much.

If you will send us your address or email address, we will send you pictures of Anastasia when we get back from Russia. That probably won’t be until September so you won’t be in Ms. Leslie’s class anymore, but we would love to send you some pictures so you can see her.


Love to you all,
Robert (Dad), Holly (Mom), Alexander (12), Max (11), Daniel (11) and Rosie (2)


hollywinters@hotmail.com

Pictures for Ms. Leslie's Class



The boys made these signs and we took the pictures to send to Ms. Leslie's Class. It really impacted my children; seeing how much little kids can do to serve each other. If you can't read the signs, they say," Thank You Ms. Leslie's Class" "We Love You".


Ms. Leslie deserves Teacher of the Decade - she is just the most awesome lady, I wish Rosie could go to her class!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Rosie's Blessing

Have you ever seen a greater looking bunch of guys?? Well, the girl is pretty adorable too!
This is my little Princess. She still looks fresh and beautiful even after 3 hours of spilling apple juice and drooling all over her dress (I think she's got some new teeth coming in).
Here she is with her "baby" (a giraffe) and her Dora Purse that she takes to church.
She finally got tired of the whole photo shoot thing and decided to just lay down. She is so funny.

Rosie had her blessing on June 4th. It is an informal ceremony we have at church and basically, she receives a Priesthood blessing from her father. It was beautiful though and she received many promises of a wonderful life. She looked like a little queen too and I want to share some of the pix. Below is a quick video clip Robert took after we got home. What a blessed, blessed woman I am!

A Few Words From Rosie

Friday, June 08, 2007

My Lotus

This is our very cool new toy. My Nana and Ken (my grandma and her hubby) sent us a cash gift (thank you so much) and we used part of it to purchase this Lotus Sanitizing System. I love it. The gift was a Baby Congrats gift but I figured Rosie has enough clothes and toys and this is something that will help keep our whole family healthy. In this day of reading about diseases like salmonella and all sorts of ugly bacterial things - I thought this a wise investment. It cleans fruits and veggies through ionization. It is so quick and easy. Wonderful.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Sealing


Here are a few pictures of our beautiful children and family. Some of them came out too dark, but these are so cute! You can't really tell but Rosie is wearing a Silk Chinese Dress and she looks so pretty.
These pictures are taken inside the visitors center next to the temple. It was a beautiful day.

In an earlier post, I explained a little about our belief that Families are Forever. When children are born to two parents who are married in the temple (sealed for time and all eternity), they are automatically "sealed" to their parents. But, when a child is adopted he or she must be sealed to his or her parents. This is a simple and beautiful ceremony which involves a Priest saying a prayer much like in a wedding ceremony. The Sealing, however, is for eternity and not "until death do us part". We were blessed to be able to have Rosie sealed to us this Saturday, May 26th in the Frankfurt, Germany temple. Our dear friends the Carters came to Frankfurt to be apart of this special moment with us and they later took us out to dinner (what a wonderful day it was).


Contrary to popular belief, anyone can enter the temple as long as they are "worthy". This means they must have been members of our church for one year and they must be following the commandments and repenting to the best of their ability. Inside our temples we wear all white. It is a symbol of purity and I like that we all look the same and no one looks rich or poor etc.

Max and Daniel were sealed to us about a year after we adopted them. We wanted to wait for them to speak English and to agree that it was something they understood and wanted. With Rosie though, there was no reason to wait. I guess we will wait about a year with Anastasia too.

Rosie's Birthday


Rosie and Daddy in their Dora hats. At this point, Rosie has no idea what is going on yet. It was fun because she and I went to the airport to pick my mom up and while we were gone Robert and the boys decorated the house and put the cake on the table etc. She was so surprised she just didn't know where to look.
Here they are - the Baxters minus me. Aren't they adorable? Those decorations hanging down are from Dora the Explorer.
Dora Cake. Not my best cake - that is for sure! Alexander kept saying she looks scarey. I couldn't get the hair and the eyes to look good. Where is my friend Donna the Cake Master when I need her?? Oh well, Rosie didn't care and the good news was that she did recognize Dora!
You can really see the psycho look in Dora's eyes in the shot. Weird looking. I am about done with Novelty cakes though. I've done a Basket Ball and a Batman for Daniel and I've done a Jack O Lantern and Pikachu for Max and I've done a Pikachu and a Spongebob for Alexander. They are so time consuming, the kids look at them for about 3 seconds and then they devour them. I think I'm sticking to cupcakes in the future!!
Here she is still looking slightly dazed. What a doll she is.
It was a lot of fun to watch her open her presents - she had a blast. I don't know why we don't have any photos of her opening presents? Well, she got several books, a little Cinderella "piano" (she loves music) and a leap pad for babies. I'm so glad my mom could be here. How is that for timing? She went to a conference in D.C. and was able to stop over in Frankfurt for one night - right on Rosie's bday. Perfect. I can't believe Rosie is 2 years old now and she has been with us for almost 4 months. Wow, what a wonderful life! Now, we just need our daughter from Russia.....

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Life is so good...


Max and Rosie snuggle up to watch T.V. Max is doing so well with school, I've just been so pleases with how he is rising to the challenge. He is having some behavior issues and I really think it stems from all the hassles with Anastasia. I don't think he really believes we'll get her and as we get closer and closer his behavior gets worse and worse. Don't get me wrong, he is a very good boy, but he likes to upset his brothers and this seems to be tied into his frustration about Anastasia. It will be interesting to see what happens when we finally get her. I think there is just so much going on with Max that we don't understand yet. Sigh. These little people come with a whole package in their heads and hearts and he definately has missing pieces which we hope can be filled by his sister.


Here is Rosie getting ready for church. I LOVE this dress - it is a hand me down from my sister-in-law and that just makes it so much more special. I love to imagine her daughters wearing it and now it is Rosies. I can't wait to meet my nieces.








Rosie is such a big help around the house and especially around the kitchen. She loves to do whatever I'm doing. She recently has discovered that doing the dishes can be quite fun!














This is Max's panda bear. My mom got it for him a few years ago. If you squeeze his belly, it makes little baby noises and moves it's arms. Rosie loves it and has adopted it as her own. Here she is again in her little wagon, being pulled around the house by the boys, her loyal subjects, here only to do her bidding!










Rosie likes to go into the cupboards and pull things out. She discovered a piece of Tupperware that suits her nicely. She fits perfectly into this little "boat" and then her subjects can pull her around in it or sing "Row, row, row your boat" with her!

Monday, May 21, 2007

May 21


We had a wonderful, if short, visit from our friends the Skiliches. They were very close friends when we lived in Vienna and we miss them lots. They are metal sculptures and all around artists. They made this sculpture for us and I just love it so much. It is a Baxter Family Portrait. If you can tell - on the right is me with Rosie sitting on my lap and Robert is standing behind me. In front of me and to the far right is Anastasia (all three of us girls have skirts on) and on the left are Alexander, Max and Daniel. Isn't this awesome? The picture doesn't really do it justice though.




Sorry, didn't get this one turned right way up, but it is also a gift from the Skiliches. They made it out of horseshoe nails. I love giraffes and have a small collection of them so I just love this little guy. Rosie loves it too and has to give it a kiss everytime she walks by.









Rosie and Max in the living room. Rosie loves being pulled around in her little wagon. She also loves giving her "babies" (her little stuffed animals) a ride around the house.













Rosie hugging her lion. Actually, this lion has lived with Alexander for years, but somehow Rosie got it.
















Alexander and Rosie watching T.V. She doesn't seem to have a problem with climbing on people or the dogs. She definately wants to do whatever the boys are doing and preferably, she wants to do it exactly like they are doing it!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Friend...

I've been so lucky to have a visit from a good friend of mine from VA. She didn't stay long but it was so good to have her here. We didn't do much because we are cramming to get school done so the boys can have a little summer vacation. We did go to this wonderful outdoor museum though.

It is an open air museum where you can view and visit different styles of houses from different regions in Germany. There are also lots of little museums you can visit and see how they made cheese, or wove wool or dyed wool or made brushes etc.

Unfortunately for my poor friend, she didn't get to see much because of my sweet animal crazy kids. We found horses and baby pigs and chickens and bunnies and donkeys and goats and sheep and baby goats and sheep and baby bunnies- how fun. We had such a blast and would have anyway but it was so wonderful to see Rosie seeing these creatures for the first time. She was just dumbfounded by the horses and wanted to follow them, she couldn't stop touching the sheep and wanted to touch and feed and play with everyone. It was so fun and we can't wait to take her again or to another petting zoo.

Well, I have to say that seeing Shannon made me homesick all over again. I miss my friends in Vienna and in Virginia - boo hoo. I do have a good friend here not more than 1/2 an hour away but somehow we don't get together too often. Maybe it is because she has 4 girls under the age of 6? I am sure I will make more good friends here too, but now that I'm homeschooling and have a baby, I don't really have time for meeting folks. It is okay, but I just have so many good, spiritual friends who uplift and inspire me; wow, I am so blessed, I miss having their companionship and conversation. Good friends are spiritual gold!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Well Baby Check Up

Rosie finally went for her first check up. The doctor was impressed by her development and good health. She is still tiny, in fact we learned that she hasn't gained an ounce. She is still 19 pounds. She is almost in the 5th percentile. Yikes. But everything else checked out. She is meeting the milestones and plus she is cute as can be and smart on top of it! She fell asleep during our mini conference with the doc and then I learned she would need some more innoculations. Poor baby - she had to get 4 shots in the tops of her thighs. What a way to wake up. Alexander said, "You see? Thats why I never sleep during the day". Brother, what weird children I have.

Anyway, Rosie was very upset about the shots and I felt so bad, but as soon as it was over I picked her up and she stopped crying. She got 4 little bandaids on her legs and periodically throughout the day she would point to them and say, "ow wow wow" (her words for ouch).

She is saying lots of words now. They aren't all clear and maybe a stranger wouldn't understand, but we get most of them:

mom, dada, Maaax, Daniel, doggie, dogdog, bunbun (bunny), bottle, row, row, row, ur bow, she can sing almost all of twinkle, twinkle little star but she sings it like: ingka, ingka, ingka ingk, ingka, ingka, ingka ingk and it is so cute, diaper, hi, bye-bye, yes (that is such a nice change from shaking her head "no"), bird, mouth, head, ear, giraffe, zebra, hippo, and now instead of saying mama she says mommm; like the boys say Mom, but she really ennunciates so you can be sure to hear she is saying Mommmm and not mama.

She is so funny and has an inquisitive and outgoing personality. We are just beginning to see it as she opens up and develops her confidence. She has much less stranger fear and that is going to make her life much easier and better.

Happy Bday Daniel!

Daniel turned 11. I am just so constantly amazed by him. He does not even remotely resemble the little boy we adopted 3 years ago. We are so proud of the effort he has made and the advances he has made. We are able to give him lots of freedom now and he can handle it; something I wasn't too sure of a year or so ago. This is the little boy who had a permanent smile pasted on his face unless he was throwing a terrifying fit of screaming and banging his head against the wall. We soon learned that the smile was a bad case of nerves and the head banging was only the beginning. It was a hard first year, but we are enjoying the blessings now.

He pretty much does homeschool on his own; he is so motivated and now he only comes to me with questions or clarification. He is pleasant and smart and tries hard to please us. He knows and loves the gospel and cares deeply about others. We are so grateful for him and for each of our boys - each one is so different and so special and unique; truly a testament of God's hand in all things.

It is funny though, now, both Max and Daniel are 11 years old. It creates a lot of problems for them because people assume they are twins though they look nothing alike. They always have to explain and they don't like that, but are getting better about it. We are teaching them to be proud of their heritage and that they are adopted, but it is still a long road!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Last Day in Pokrovka

Robert flys out of Vlad on Tuesday morning. He had his last visit with Anastasia today. He said she was pretty tearful but that it was better than any of his previous visits. He had a few moments alone with her while the translator had to go take care of some paperwork. He dreaded it and didn't know what to do. Anastasia just stared at the ground the whole time. Finally, Robert said, "Let's practice your English."......."What is your name?" She just stared at the ground, finally after about two minutes she answered," My name is Nastia" Robert was so thrilled with his progress. Though she still never looked at him, it was the first time she had addressed him directly. My poor daughter! My poor husband!!

Some things Robert has been able to learn about her;
  • She loves basketball and volleyball but doesn't like soccer.
  • She really enjoys going to the church she has been attending.
  • She wants to be a doctor when she grows up.
  • She really misses Max and covers her face and crys uncontrollably whenever Robert mentions him.
  • She finally put on one of the pair of pants I sent - size 12 and they fit.
  • She has a really good friend named Sasha. This is the girl pictured by her side in most of the other pictures I've posted of her.
  • She doesn't know anything about her biological father or mother
  • Her favorite subject in school is Music; she doesn't play any instruments but she loves to sing.

Nobody has really been able to figure out what is behind her morose attitude. There are the obvious things; leaving her friends and all that is familiar, her anger at us for taking so long to get her, going to a foreign place and not being able to communicate, having to adjust to a new family, new rules, restrictions etc. All of these are obvious obstacles and fears, but Robert and the translator both seem to think there is something deeper. The social worker has promised to visit her often and try to find out what is going on.

I think she is a very sensitive and emotional girl and I also think that this friend who was previously adopted has probably told her some horror stories. I wish I could find out more about that.

I don't want to "trick" her though or make any false promises. The first year is tough. Incredibly tough and I told Robert to tell her that. It is a huge adjustment but he also told her about all the benefits of having a family and having people who love her. Finally, the director came in and asked Anastasia straight out if she wanted to be adopted and she said yes. Hurray. Hopefully, her fears won't catch up with her while she is waiting for us to come back. We got phone numbers and I will try to keep in touch with her during this long wait. Mostly, we need prayers, prayers, prayers!

more visits with Anastasia...

Robert was able to visit with Anastasia on both Saturday and Sunday. It sounds like it has been depressing and exhausting. After 3 years of battle, I guess we felt such relief, maybe we secretly thought she would come running into our lives; grateful and happy to finally be with us.

It sounds like she is doing pretty well in some respects; she has lots of friends and has apparently been pretty active in an Evangelical church which is nearby the children's home. She is obviously angry/embarrassed/ overwhelmed and confused by Robert's arrival. She has yet to make eye-contact with him, address him directly or express any positive emotion. We did learn today that her 17 year old friend was adopted by Americans and she positively hated it. She was apparently suicicidal and insisted she be returned to the children's home in Russia and eventually her American parents agreed. Heaven only knows what she has told Anastasia - no wonder she is scared.

I feel confused and uncertain myself. My heart is aching for this frightened little girl who dreads leaving the only thing she knows. On the other hand, I feel awful for my poor husband who is trying so hard and getting nowhere. We are so grateful to have a good agency this time. Robert has nothing but glowing reports of all the help he is getting from the agency and the translator. This makes all the difference - it was so awful last time and it is just so much easier dealing with all the Russian ins and outs when we feel like we have people on our side.

I don't know whatelse to say or think. Anastasia has some time before she needs to decide. In about a month they will give her some paperwork to fill out and she must state that she wants to be adopted by us. She will also have to appear in court with us and tell that to the judge. We are just going to do all we can do and leave the rest in the Lord's hands. In the meantime, we sure are doing a lot of praying!

Max is a wreck over all this. It never occurred to him that she might not want to come. He is angry that dad didn't take him to Russia- he thinks that would have made all the difference - if only he could be there. We wanted to let him go but the money stuff is just so tight. Maybe he will be able to go for the second trip...who knows what can happen between now and then.

My mom leaves in the morning and we are all so sorry to see her go. She has really given me a break and I've been able to get some rest after all this crazy traveling. It has been so fun that she got to meet Rosie and get to know her a little bit. Rosie can say "grandma" now, it sounds kind of like "mra ma" but it is recognizable.

We are missing Robert like crazy (especially me) and can't wait for him to get home. Also, I forgot how tough life is without a car. Robert is pretty sure he can take this part he ordered, do some jiggling around and pray life back into our 96 Mercury Villager. I hope so too. We walked to church this morning and took the bus home. It was invigorating and good excersize, but I'd like to keep it a fun novelty!

Robert has one more visit with Anastasia tomorrow, Monday. Each day when he asks if she'd like to see him again, she always says yes so I'll take that as a good sign. Today, she was involved in an Easter production at the church she has been attending and Robert was able to go and see it. She did a dance. She loves to dance and sing and wants to be a doctor. If Robert got any good pictures, I'll post them when he gets back on Thursday.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Two Months with Rosie

It has been two months yesterday. It feels like she's been a part of our lives forever. She brings us so much joy and laughter and she has created a new softness in our home. We have all felt the angels that follow her and brighten our lives.





She has made lots of advances too. She no longer holds her arms out for balance and she is not a bit afraid of the dogs anymore. She helps me do everything. She can get the dishwasher soap out and put it in the dishwasher. If I drip water on the floor she will get something to wipe it up with. If I brush my teeth, she brushes her teeth. She learns everything so quickly and it is so much fun to show her how to do things. She loves books and that is a love I will nurture. We read lots to her. She can also entertain herself quite well which is great especially when I need to help the other children with school, she will just follow me around and get into their stuff as I help each one of them.





She loves music too and when we sing hymns she conducts with great feeling. She seems to understand everything. When we say "time to say a prayer" she bows her head and folds her arms and she already knows everything she is supposed to do in church. What a little genius!


We all love her so much. The other day Alexander said, "Sometimes I just like to sit and look at her." I couldn't agree more. Look at this picture, it just melts my heart. I miss Robert so much and can't wait till he gets home.

Rosie and Daddy taking a nap

First Contact

Robert had his first meeting with Anastasia. I was sad but not too surprised to learn it didn't go too well.

Robert waited for her in the director's small office. Someone went to get her and brought her in (she didn't know what was going on) where she saw Robert, the director, the assistant director, our translator, the social worker and I don't know who else. She was pretty overwhelmed I guess.

I had sent some photos with him. Photos of all the kids, the house, the dogs etc. She didn't even recognize Max and said he looked so big and different. We made a little video for Robert to show her but he said she only got about 1/2 way through it and then just put her hands over her face and started to sob. She didn't make eye contact with him and just cried for the rest of the visit. I guess the social worker asked her if she still wanted to come live with us and she said she didn't know.

On the plus side the social worker said that in the past she has always been positive about coming to live with us and Robert's take on it is that she was just so overwhelmed and seeing Max on the video; speaking English, being grown up and obviously so totally a part of this family- it was just too much for her and she felt so alienated. I just felt my heart breaking as I was talking to him. My poor little girl. I should have been there. If there were anyway I could have been.....but I have all these kids here who need me. I hope she understands and can get past all the pain.

Robert is meeting with her again tomorrow - Saturday. He is going to take her out to lunch and out for ice cream or something like that. It will just be him and the translator and Anastasia. There will be much less pressure on her and hopefully he will get to talk to her this time. He said he didn't get to talk to her at all today because the social worker was holding her and talking to her and trying to comfort her the whole time. My poor husband.

This wasn't totally unexpected. In fact, it was a lot like our last visit three years ago. She was depressed and teary and didn't communicate much with us; especially when we were in the "visiting room". Once we got out and she was around her friends and away from the director's office she did loosen up a little. We could use lots of positive thoughts and prayers going Robert and Anastasia's way. I can't wait for my whole family to be all together.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

YUCK!

Rosie ate a piece of old, chewed gum she found on the airport floor. I just about lost it - how gross is that? Yuck. I just stopped paying attention for a second because a lady asked me where Rosie was from. Yuck. No more airports thats for sure.

It all started about 2 weeks ago. Robert and I found out we needed to go to Moscow to finish up some paperwork. I had to drive to Bonn twice to get our Russian visas. I came home with them Friday the 30th and that evening our car took its final puff and died. It has been very traumatic not to mention inconvenient for us. My mom came Friday night so she could watch the boys and dogs. Robert and I flew to Moscow on Monday (with Rosie) and Rosie and I flew back home on Wednesday night.

It really feels like we are getting close now. It was tough going through all the travel stuff alone with Rosie - she is definately doing the "independant 2's" thing now and she made several great escapes from me at Security, Customs and other crucial places. Exhausting! Anyway, totally worth it because we are getting close now.

Robert continued on to Vladivostok where he is finishing up some more paperwork and formalities we need before we can get a court date. He gets to go visit Anastasia tomorrow (Friday) - I sent a bunch of clothes, school supplies and candy with him so hopefully he will be well received. He is so nervous about the initial meeting - will she be angry with us for taking so long? Will she be her indifferent 12 year old self? Will she be curious? We just don't know what to expect after so long. Max is going nuts wishing he could be there but we just couldn't afford it. Everything is SO expensive we have to be really careful. Now that our car died we are praying for another miracle to direct us.....

Thank you everyone for your prayers and love - it works!

I will write tomorrow after Robert's visit with Anastasia.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Beautiful Children

Here is Alexander looking very cool. He is developing a special relationship with Rosie. She often goes to him, even when she gets an "ow-ey" and is crying. It is so wonderful to see him so mature and able to take care of a baby. He took a bath with her yesterday (he wore his swimsuit) and they had such a great time. I don't know what else to hope for, these relationships between the children are just so wonderful. Alexander told me yesterday that he wishes he had grown up with his brothers. He feels like he missed so much. That is such a wonderful thing to say because I know they bug him a lot and the boys argue a lot and get on each other's nerves. They are now home all day together doing school so I guess that is normal. They also play a lot together though and I'm so grateful that Alexander is starting to see the true value of that. Here they are; the Fabulous Four. I love this picture. No mama could be more proud. Max and Daniel are learning so much about growing up in watching their little sister. They ask me so many questions about her development and they worry about her choking on things and they are constantly taking 'dangerous' things out of her hands. An incredible development is that these two boys have learned a little about unconditional love. It was something I just couldn't prove to them before. But, now they see that I love Rosie no matter what and they also can feel that she loves them just as they are, no matter what.

Okay. This is the bomb. I love this fabric, it is "China Doll" by Michael Miller. My mom made us a baby quilt using this fabric and I searched ebay and every fabric store I could find looking for more. Nothing. I get to China, go into this store (A Gift From China -- by the old US Consulate) and they have tons of stuff made out of this fabric. So, I got another quilt, this too, too cute outfit and the diaper bag. I love it and Rosie looks so adorable - and she matches her room!

Look at this sweet face. She is perfect. When I look at her I often think, what could I change to make her cuter or more beautiful and there just isn't a thing. She is now really understanding us too. She says, "Mama", "DaDa", "Dora" (the explorer), "DogDog" (Alexander's stuffed dog), "BackPack", "Bye-Bye" "All Gone", "Daniel", "Max" she hasn't got "Alexander" yet, but she understands so many phrases - it is miraculous.