Wednesday, February 18, 2015

4 months since Gotcha Day!

Thought maybe I'd slip over here and write a little update..
Wow how time flies!!! 5 months since we headed out across the ocean and almost 4 months since we've been home and living life as a family of four!
Sat down this afternoon and read back for the first time through all my posts.... couldn't help but cry sometimes and laugh the next as I re-lived our sometimes stressful sometimes exciting moments of our 6 weeks in Ukraine! Can't believe it's all just a memory now...
So.. life has continued and has continued to improve :) Kody has come a looong way since the little boy we first saw in the orphanage. He is FULL of energy and usually quite a happy little guy, when at home that is :-/ It seems like the more he bonds with us and adjusts the worse he likes being out and about and 'strangers'! If we go to church or a social function he grumps and cries wanting to be held and then he looks at the door and waves bye-bye wanting to go home, as soon as we get home he give his little famous laugh and takes off for his toys happy as a lark! We try to be sensitive to his security and not go and do too much, but finally this mama needs some social life once in a while too! :) Everyone keeps telling me it's just a stage and I'm sure hoping they're right! I really feel like it's a good thing that he just wants his parents and to be at home and that it shows positive signs of adjustment, but kind of hard to remember that when your on 'clean up' at sewing and haven't done anything but tie a few knots on the comforter and watch the clock creep around till 3 :-(
Now on to his good traits :-) He loves to eat, very much unlike my other nibbler that needs encouragement for every bite, every meal! Can't remember when it was for sure, but not long after we got home and he decided he was much too old for baby food and one day he quit cold turkey and would not take another bite of it and insisted on table food! Thankfully it's cheaper HA He only has 6 teeth, but he has a great liking for meat and somehow he can manage to chew gum about any kind you give him. He must have some Italian blood in him somewhere per his great love of pasta... any kind, any flavor, cooked anyway. If it's pasta based he'll scarf it up! Still not really into the 'bottle' thing yet, but we do manage to get 3- 5oz bottles down him a day when an undisclosed amount of sugar is added ;-) Not big on juice, but goes through several sippy cups of water a day. Seems to me like he's kinda losing his baby looks and morphing into the toddler looks a little more although he still has his fat, jiggly baby cheeks that are so fun to pinch and kiss! :-) Have cut his hair several times already and I think its getting a little darker. He just thrives on love and attention, but is NOT a cuddle bug and is the rare occasion that he wants to snuggle in and be all gooshy-mooshy. He is understanding lots of words and sentences that we tell him and has a few recognizable words he says and quite a few more that only daddy and mama can decipher :) He loves, loves, LOVES to be outside and will often be found standing by the door crying, wanting to go out. I will be very glad when spring weather comes and he can just be turned loose outside for hours on end if he so desires!
We have completed all of his doctoring now and have all of his reports back from all the specialist and EVRYTHING has come back clear!! So amazing when I think of his scary Ukrainian diagnosis' and what we had to get willing for when we accepted his referral and now not a single one has proven accurate! So very thankful!!! All of his immunizations were bad so we need to start clear over on them, but that is so minute compared to what we could have been facing!!

Peyton has done extremely well with abruptly being pushed off of his pedestal of king of the castle and it just amazes me how with a 4 year age gap they get along so well and can spend hours playing together! Peyton loves to play 'farming' (and of course selling Reinke pivots) and Kody will be right in there driving his tractor making all the appropriate noises :-) Guess I just never expected them to actually play and get along so well, but boy I'm sure not complaining, just makes my heart swell with pride to watch my two little boys born countries apart and plopped down an ocean away together and acting like they so totally belong together... best buds!! Kody is the early riser and after he plays for awhile he will soon crawl in Peys room and stand up by his bed talking and banging on him trying to get him to wake up and then when Kody takes a nap Pey will keep asking how long does Kody have to sleep, can I wake him up yet? Bill thinks that they both have a special bond because they subconsciously had the same beginnings, but I think that might be pushing the imagination a little! ;-)

 I think we as a family have slowly found our new normal and enjoying every minute of our new little family grown by one little Ukrainian boy who has added so much joy and happiness to our life already!! When I think back to that October Monday day when we were so tied up in knots and sat in our humble abode begging the Lord to intervene for us if it was his will, that the Ukrainian lady would decide not to take him so he could be ours and everything that transpired since and how he is so a part of our family now and we can't imagine life without him... I humbly thank the Lord for answering our prayers more than we even asked and granting us a dream come true! Don't doubt for a minute that it was all meant to be exactly as it is!!! :-)
 Love you forever and always KODY EUGENE NICHOLS!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

One week home

I've been meaning to write a little update on our new life in America, but it has taken a week now!
We had a nightmare of a trip home on which I won't expound more than that Kody cried and screamed for most of our 11 hour flight!! :( A nightmare I hope to never re-live! For some reason he was happy or either slept on both of our shorter flights for which we were very thankful.
So we are home and mostly over jet lag and trying to find our new normal. Peyton takes his big brother role very seriously and is proving to be a good babysitter already :) He has done very well with adjusting to not having all of the attention and loves his little brother to pieces! With how it went when we had Tanya I thought it was going to affect him a whole lot more than it has. Not that I'm complaining:) Kody is adjusting better each day... he has been sleeping better and longer every night and now last night  we had to revert back to former days, but we hope that was a one night stint! He and Peyton are both awake and ready for the day at 4 which is way to early for this girl who likes to sleep in and hoping we can get that changed a couple more hours yet! It actually hasn't been too bad since we have been fighting jet lag and it's not uncommon to find this family in bed before 8 so I guess we are partly to blame for the early rising. Eating.... I'm still having problems getting Kody to take any formula or milk bottles. A couple mornings when he was really hungry I got him to take most of a formula bottle and I thought I was on to something, but alas that was a passing fad :( I can get by with mixing his cereal with lots of formula and getting a little down him that way. He is eating all kinds of baby food and cereal even some of that with chunks in it so I feel like he's getting quite a bit of nutrition. He's upped his intake volume drastically and am afraid he's going to eat us out of house and home HA He eats 2 big jars of baby food at a time 3x a day plus how many big bowls of cereal! Think we're going to leave 14# in the dust to never return! :)
Kody was very fussy/whiny/cried the first several days we were home and we didn't know if it was because he wasn't eating enough or teething or what all was causing it, but he has gotten SO much better already and with that very clingy and wants you to stay in his sight at all times and looking back now I think he was going through more adjustments than we gave him credit for. It's so easy to think that a 6 month old is too little to have many adjustments, but his little world and everything he ever knew was completely turned upside down and it just took him awhile to get everything sorted out and feel safe and secure again! He seems to be bonding quickly with us. He also has come a very long way with development! When we first starting visiting him at orphanage he could hardly hold his head up, couldn't sit on his own, couldn't even stand with help and now in only a few short weeks of attention, love and encouragement he has blossomed into a baby that will make eye contact, coo, hold his head, stand for as long as you will hold his hands, sit unsupported, and best of all he has that twinkle in his eyes that all orphanage children are missing!!! It's almost scary to look at a child that has emotionless eyes and then with just a little love and tlc that all changes!! SOO rewarding!!! :)
Maybe that's enough details for tonight as I need to be getting some shut eye while that little one is!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Packed and ready!

LAST DAY IN UKRAINE!!! I knew it would be like this after being so ready to go home when it comes right down to it it's hard! :( such mixed feelings over it all... this chapter of our life is closed! Can already think back to past events that at the present seemed so bad and now they don't seem quite as bad and just remembering all the good times, awesome memories, exciting adventures, etc. that we had and just not knowing if we will ever return makes it bitter sweet. But it's time, 6 weeks away from home is long enough. :)
Irina brought over a copy of the original test with the stamp on it straight from the specialized HIV testing lab that showed Kody has had 2 negative HIV tests since his positive one at birth. We were pretty worried about this Dr. who is famous for always ordering more and more tests. And then when she is done with tests she wants a body x-ray!:) We had our argument ready and were ready to get backup help if she didn't cooperate this morning ;-) We were at the office before they opened waiting on them and took in our paper and she actually accepted it and gave us our clearance we needed to get visa!!! From there we headed to the American Embassy and got our immigration papers that will make Kody an American citizen when we land in Houston tomorrow and also his visa. Were back at apartment by 11:30. Started getting things gathered up ready to pack and then at 1 we walked down to our metro station and met Rob, Trish, family and Heidi Sue! They are missionaries about 3 hours south of here and I was in the Winnipeg unit with Trish way back when we were young and foolish and Heidi is Bill's cousin from home that just got here last week to teach school for Rob's kids. Was so disappointed when the team wouldn't let us do any extra traveling so obviously was quite stoked when they started showing interest in coming yesterday and then called this morning and said they actually were! Was very short and sweet, but was so awesome to meet her family, see Heidi in Ukraine, etc. Trish gave me some consolation with Kody and made me feel better that we were doing the right thing. Also gave me some different meds for him that I think will help even more. Sure would've never expected to meet up with her in Ukraine! Never know where life will take you! :-)
After they left this evening I got all packed up and now all 3 boys are in bed and I just weighed the last suitcase and have them all weighing in at 50# even :)
Need to get up at 2 in the morning to get this crew showered, fed and out the door by 3. Have good connections and short layovers, but still have 22 hour flight time so need to get some shut eye myself.
Our heartfelt thanks again to everyone that has supported and encouraged and prodded us through the difficult times, cheered us on and rejoiced with us on our adoption journey, we couldn't have made it with out our friends and family and the many prayers offered on our behalf. I guess we are at the end of the beginning now :)
Goodnight for the last time from Ukraine!!!!!!

Monday, October 20, 2014

To the bottom of despair and back

Oh it has been a really looooong and terrible last couple days and nights!!! :((((( Pey and I both got the flu and Kody is still having his terrible teething pain! Then yesterday afternoon I got one of the worst migraines I have ever had! Nothing would help or even take the edge off and I felt so hopelessly helpless way over on the other side of the world! Lots of desperate prayers were sent up and finally in the middle of the night I got Bill to give me an undisclosed amount of medicine and I was finally able to go to sleep or either knocked out not sure which :) Peyton woke me up at 4:30 this morning and I instantly knew my migraine was GONE!! I just laid in bed and cried I was so terrible thankful!! I don't know when the last time was that I had been so miserable. I think the stress of the last 6 weeks and the flu and everything else combined had finally just gotten too much. Kody woke up then also so the three of us went and hung out in the kitchen. I made some ramen noodles some previous guest had left and Pey and I dined on that and also got a WHOLE jar of baby food down Kody!! He was such a happy boy this morning and was so good to see a little glimpse of our old happy Kody again! Gave Kody a bath and then all of our medicine was running out so we all doped up again and headed back to bed. :) Vitali was here at 7:45 to pick up Bill and Kody and they went to American Embassy. Just talked to Vitali and he said they are still waiting to get in at Embassy (appt. was at 9) but a babushka had taken Kody and put him to sleep so they were all good :) When they get done there they will go get Kody's medical examination and then come pick Pey and I up to go back to Embassy and I think get visa. After being sick I'm convinced that that is what Kody had a couple days ago. I kept telling Bill that something else was wrong, that you are not this miserable just cutting teeth. We didn't have a thermometer then, but he was burning up with fever and since Pey has been sick his temp has been 104 and that is on meds around the clock!! That poor little guy has been through it and he can't even talk to us about it :( When I think of how Pey and I went from being so cold and chilled to the bone that our whole bodies shook even with heater on high and the blankets stacked on top and then an hour later so sweating hot that you felt like you couldn't breath and then I think of poor Kody not being able to tell us and us not knowing.... I can hardly stand to think what he must have gone through! :(
Hopefully we are through the worst of it and it will only get better from here!! :)) Just so Bill doesn't get it now right before we get on that looong flight! BTW we got our tickets changed and are coming home a week earlier, leaving 5:45 am Wednesday morning!:) That is IF the Doctor will pass Kody.. surely the flu will be out of his system enough by now. I vividly remember staying an extra week in Russia because Peyton got chicken pox the day before we got him out of orphanage and he wasn't over them far enough by the dr. examination!:(
Thanks for all who said prayers on our behalf! They were very much NEEDED and FELT and ANSWERED!!
Maybe I should add a little of what an awesome husband and daddy I have with me! ;-)
He has done so totally awesome! Kept up with everyone's medicine schedule, took care of a screaming unhappy baby, changed many, many very poopy diapers, went out and bought sprite, rubbed backs, lost sanity, regained sanity, and everything else in between!!! I have been so very thankful that he stepped up and took over and did an awesome job of it! He's proven all over again what a keeper he is! :-)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Back in Kiev

Hello All

Well as I write this we are back in our apartment in Kiev.  The same one we landed in when we first arrived.  Feels like we've made the full circle.  We packed up in Kryvyi Rih Friday night and boarded the overnight train to Kiev at 9:20 PM.  Kody and I went for a walk just before dark (he really likes to ride in the baby carrier) while Steph packed up and I wandered down and looked at the orphanage one last time.   It seemed strange...almost eerie.  Such a part of his life and now ours for the last 4 weeks and now we leave and may never come back. Kryvyi Rih will always have a place in my memory.  It is such a prime example of this deeply flawed country that is struggling to find its place in the 21st century while held back so much by ex soviet mind set.  The smart phones, old buses, the BMWs, the shiny new malls and McDonalds, the trash everywhere, the hundreds and hundreds of dumpy soviet era apartment buildings,  the strict attention to picking up all the leaves.  These people are trying their best but there is so much holding them back.  This train seemed rougher than normal.  Lots of jerks like someone was jumping on the brakes and back on the throttle.  There is a emergency brake lever in every car and I think somebody was providing their own entertainment.  PJ and I took the top bunks while Steph and Kody took the bottom.  Kody slept till around 5 so that was a real blessing.  We got to Kiev at 5:40 and our driver picked us up at 6ish.  Back to the apartment and we all slept for a while then to McDonalds for PJs lunch and a sidewalk stand for me and Steph for sharma.  Kody got a lot worse this afternoon.  He basically had to be carried around all the time. He won't eat or drink any amount.  I think his teething together with adjustments is about to push him over the edge.  I finally called the American Clinic here in Kiev and they were nice enough to call their pediatrician and patch me through (this was at 6pm on saturday).  She told me everything sounded normal and what kind of pain meds to get at the pharmacy.  I ran down and found a pharmacy with a pharmacist that actually spoke english! Got the meds and gave them to Kody and he went to sleep soon after and has slept every since.  Hopefully it helps.  He liked this stuff and what we were trying to give him that we brought from home he always tried to spit out...  Steph and PJ both went to bed early with aches, chills and sore throats so I'm not sure what I'm in for.  May be a long night between the three of them.  Now for the really good news.  We will be done here Monday or Tuesday so I had Corwin change our tickets to wednesday of next week.  I haven't got the confirmation yet but I think he got it done so we are on the countdown!  Keep us in your prayers.  Especially for Steph and PJ to feel better and Kody's adjustment and teething pain.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

First days with Kody

The last 3 days have just been a blur, but will try and write a few lines and hopefully won't nod off mid post! ;-)
Kody was just perfect the first day and slept all night and first I heard of him in the morning was cooing and then laughing! That's about as long as the honeymoon lasted :-/ The next day we had fits.. The food issue is just a rerun of Peyton. Nothing is right and we have no idea if we're not holding him right, if it doesn't taste right, too hot/cold or what?! He's teething so that def doesn't add to the general happiness either. It was kinda the pits yesterday that the owner had mtgs. here all day with different groups of people so we were either holed up in our bedroom or out on the town and that was a disaster big time! We went down to McDonalds and on the way home on an extremely overcrowded bus he decided he had had enough! He got so mad and screamed at the top of his lungs and it was too cold and too far to get off and walk and plus it was getting dark and we are not suppose to be walking after dark and nothing I tried would calm him!!!!! I was about having ulcers and the other thousand people on the bus were not amused either! Was glad I couldn't here beyond the screaming:) I didn't know a 6 month old could scream so loud for so long!!!!!!! :-(( I was next to tears and screaming myself when we finally got off! I guess he worked up enough of an appetite with that little tantrum that he finally ate when we got home. Ate a big bowl of cereal plus drank a good share of a formula bottle. Someone please tell me how important formula bottles are versus cows milk? He will drink the cows milk and when they told me his schedule they said his bottles were either or but he seems a little young to be on straight cows milk only or not? Do I keep trying to get him to take the formula? We had the same stress with Peyton, they claimed they never gave him formula at all there! So he slept all night again, one HUGE plus cause I'm one that NEEDS my sleep and i'm not this sweet googling mother in the middle night:( Today went a lot better. Ed didn't have any mtgs here and we stayed at the house most of the day. He did wake up at 5:00 raring to go but..... It rained here most of the day so made it a lot easier to stay inside. Since it was my hubby's birthday we did walk down to the market to get some groceries for a special supper. We bought a baby carrier and Kody really likes that so makes it easy to walk around and get some fresh air if he's content to ride. Oh yes one minor little detail... we were out of water all day, AGAIN!!!  Folks I will no longer take my water for granted when I get home!!!
Ed was gone all day and just got back this eve as we were finishing supper so he joined us for icecream and presents:) Would have to write a whole blog on him and all his stories and what all he's doing here etc. no use to even start cause there's no short version! :) Very interesting guy!!
Good news came this evening that Kody's final passport will be ready tomorrow so Egor will go pick it up and we will leave on overnight train back to Kiev tomorrow night!!! We have an appt. at American Embassy in Kiev Monday morning and then we will get visa and medical exam and we will be ready to head for good ole US of A!! I'm so ready to be home, but I get this strange feeling when I think about leaving this place where we made so many memories and has become so familiar to us already, but life moves on and hopefully we have made sufficient memories to always remember our 6 weeks in Kryvyi Rih!
Also had sad news tonight... the team called and said under no circumstances are we allowed to leave and go see other missionaries or Tanya! :(( They said they are responsible for us while we are here and Kody is to young to be traveling all over Ukraine! We're not sure what we are going to do now... Legally after Tuesday we would be able to take Kody wherever we wanted, but do we want to stay extra days to go see Tanya and especially knowing the team doesn't want us to and told us we couldn't??? Can hardly stand to be so close and not see her. The other problem we have is that we were going to have our favorite driver from Kiev take us and then would be our translator as well and he was all enthused about it, but he called this eve and said Serge said he absolutely could not so.. what would you do?
Need to be sleeping while my little guy is so better shut this down for tonight. I know tomorrow night won't be no night for sleeping :((( I'm so dreading that train ride!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


"This is the day, this is the day, that the Lord has made!" That children's song has been going around in my head all day today, in fact I woke up with it on my mind! :)
And what a day it was!!!
Irina came a little after 6. She said she was going to only need one of us to go with her for the day so I opted to stay at home with Pey and send Bill to do all the legal stuff. They headed out at 7:30 with first stop to get a new birth certificate. Also got a tax id code and applied for 2 separate passports. I had just shaped a batch of cinnamon rolls and Pey was in the shower when Bill called and said Egor would be here in 20 minutes to pick us up :/ Hurry and get Pey ready and stick cinnamon rolls in fridge for lack of knowing what to do with them and go wait outside for Egor. We all head to the bank where we close Kody's account and get his money. Yes the orphans here have a bank account and the government gives them a certain amount of money a month. We withdrew all $1,500 of Kody's and handed it over to lawyer as fast as we got it to go back to orphanage! :( I know it was never really our money and it helps all the orphans left behind yada yada, but I could think of plenty of places we could have put it for a good cause also! From there Egor and Irina headed down town to pick up paper and the rest of us caught a bus and dropped Anna off at orphanage and we had 20 minutes to race home quick warm up some chicken and rice from last night and beat it back to orphanage to pick up Kody!!! Our gotcha day with Peyton was so non monumental and I had always wished it could have been more of an adieu as a big day to chalk down in my memory bank and never forget, but I think this was even less! :( The director wanted the clothes AND diaper (what about that $1,500 we just gave you and that $1,000 orphanage donation and the ? how big donation from the team, none of that was enough to even cover a diaper to send him home in?????!!) we begged  offered that we would change his clothes, but they pretended not to hear and 10 minutes later a nanny brought him down with straight face and handed him over and marched back out! WAIT this precious little sweetheart that you took care of for the last 6 months and you are not going to give him an extra squeeze, tell him bye, look remotely sad, smile at us, wish us the best.... nothing? NOTHING AT ALL???  I wasn't sure if I should cry or scream so I did neither. We did get hugs and well wishes from the director and lawyer and with that we walked out. Who knows will we ever see that place again? such mixed feelings... it makes one feel a little claustrophobic and panicky! We just spent how many hours over the last month at that place and had the trauma and sadness of meeting dear little Max and then turning him down and also all the joy and happiness of meeting Kody that first day on a 'NO touch', 'no questions' only look meeting! And then of course the many happy hours we spent watching that little bud blossom as he learned to trust us and recognize us and I believe I can say love us and I know we can say we learned to love him! Lots and lots of precious memories come from our time spent at that baby house. But what great thing can you do? So we just walked away with smiles on our faces, Kody in our arms and joy in our hearts! :-))
Next on the agenda was a trek over to Dnipropetrovsk to get one last passport for Kody. I went this time and Bill and Pey went to McDonalds and not sure what else ;)  Dnipropetrovsk would be same as our state capitol and is 2 hours drive from here. Was a very beautiful drive with lots of black farmground and little villages scattered here and there along the way. Couldn't believe how many cows and goats were out of the fences and so close to the road until I realized they were all tied up:) Many, many cows and goats tied up to a tree or whatever they could find and there chain would let them graze clear up to the road. At least made the ditches look better where they had been HA It was a 4 lane divided hwy, but not much traffic just a few cars mixed in with mostly trucks. The road would often and for no known reason turn into a 2 lane, but that was no problem you could still make it 4 lane without breaking your current speed or seeming alarmed at the number of vehicles that needed to pass in the minimal amount of space! :-0 I very often had my head banging against the window or Kody getting about thrown out of my lap from the seriously bumpy road, think swallow your car type of large potholes!! We actually made it there and back in one piece and Kody was a perfect angel the whole time!! He was very snuggly and laughed and cooed and looked and looked at me like he just couldn't figure it all out HA Only had to wait about 30 minutes at passport office and on the 3rd try got Kody to look straight ahead for long enough to get his pic. One of the ladies there made a huge deal out of Kody and said Irina has been bringing children here for over 8 years and he is the healthiest, cutest, youngest and sweetest one she's ever brought! :) This team here deals with a lot of Downs and CP children so I'm sure Irina often brings in severely handicapped children and Kody did put on a show for her responding to all of her googling appropriately, so that helped too ;-) Still made me feel good and put a happy tone on the event. All I had brought for Kody was a bottle of apple juice and he started getting really hungry by the time we were about home and did finally stop gagging and spitting at the strange bottle long enough to find out it wasn't going to harm him and that he did kind of like what was inside:) Hope that's not going to be to big of battle:( Ironically the one thing we have exactly like he's used to is his formula and that is the one thing we haven't been able to get him to take.. I give up!
Got home a little after 6 and Bill and Pey were just walking up from there little outing. Spent the rest of the evening at home loving on Kody and changing dirty diapers and.... :)  Am I ready for all this baby stuff??? Ready or not here I come AM!
Pey finally had a meltdown tonight :,(  It's so hard to explain to a 4 year old who's world is turned upside down that everything will be OK! After lots of explaining and a good talk with Daddy and lots of extra loving his back in bed now and sleeping. Hate to see my little trooper having a hard time:((
My eyes are wanting to close on me and something tells me I need to be sleeping while that youngest one is!!
Have to fill in the details I forgot another time, but that's the 'skinny' of our Gotcha Day #2
Not going to take the time to re-read this so forgive all the typos..