Tuesday, July 31, 2012

When the air conditioner stops working...

Let the baby swim naked
Get your pigtails wet
 Take an extra sip of Mom's water when you think she's not looking
Ask your dadushka spray you with the hose "one moh-wah (more) time"
Dance in the swimmin pool.  Swimsuits optional still, apparently.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Singing and Dancing

Here's a quick video of the crazy dancing I get to experience on a daily basis.  There is no lack of personality in this household, that's for sure.  Kris Bell, thanks for the tunes!  We love them! 

And here is Stella's version of the ABCs.  Pretty close, right? Who needs Y and Z anyway?  

Have a fabulous weekend!  Hope you do some crazy singing and dancing at your house, too!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Village

We sat together on the couch in front of our new social worker for our homestudy.  I could smell the Pledge from the side table that I had dusted that day. 

"How do your family and friends feel about your adoption? Are they supportive?"

I remember feeling so eager to share an emphatic, "Yes!" and go on to explain that our families greeted our news of adopting with happiness and how our neighbors had thrown us a congratulations party. 

Supportive?  That girl from September sitting in her freshly cleaned house had not one inkling of an idea of what the word supportive truly meant. She was so naive. 

But she does now.

It's really hard for me to find the right words to describe how you've wrapped your arms around us.  Enveloped us with your love.  Overwhelmed us with your thoughtfulness. Your generosity.  But you have, and I am in awe.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and I can say with no naivety that we have one helluvah village.  Seriously you guys, I don't get it.  Who am I to be so blessed to have you?  

You have come out of the wordwork to support us.  Family. Friends. Family friends. Friends of friends. Coworkers. Friends of coworkers. Neighbors. Blogreaders. Random strangers.  Acquaintances we haven't talked to in years.

All to share your gifts. Kind words. Anonymous cash donations. A card in the mail. A welcome home crowd at the airport. A huge adoption shower. A meal on our doorstep. An open invitation to your swimming pool.  A facebook message. Gift cards. A handmade heartfelt something. A swing set. A text that you're thinking of us. A care package full of goodies. A ride on Dadushka's shoulders for the 100th time while Nene cleans my kitchen. A car-full of goodies for our trip home. Something fun for our children. Hand-me-down clothing. More meals. A comment on our blog. A question and happy conversation with my mom at Walmart. An "I'm coming right over" when three seems a little too much. Invitations to play dates. Prayers, prayers, and more prayers. Requests for more kooky videos. A weekend visit when you've been extremely busy. More generous gifts for our children. Offers to help in any way you can. Preschool buddies.  Neighbor friends who play with us even though we don't speak the same language. An "I love you" and "I love your family".

I could go on and on and on. And it all means so so much to us. Thank you.  All of you. Thank you for loving us then and loving us now. Loving us through the crazy ride to build our family and watching us as we grow together.  Loving us more than I thought humanly possible.  You rock something fierce.   

How can our children not thrive when they have a village like you?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Is this Heaven? No, it's Iowa. : )

We had no temper tantrums today.

No time-ins.
 Great quality time with Babushka NeeNee and Dadushka. 

A friend brought us some AMAZING dinner.
A visit from Uncle Joe. 

Bedtime took 1 1/2 versus 3 hours. 
And when they were all asleep, this Mama had time to play fetch with the dog AND paint her toenails.

Oh yah, and post this blog. : )

Now THAT's a good day. 

First Week Home

Life with three?  There are so many words that come to mind to describe our first week home.
Chaos. Noisy. Laughter. Healing. Firsts. Food. Boundaries. Love, love, love.
The short of it is, the kids are doing amazingly well.  If you walk into my living room at any given moment, you may feel differently.  It may look completely nutso to you.  Ahh...so be it.  We've got a lot of growth going on.  We are busy, busy, busy (3 for 3 kids) learning and testing and experiencing what it's like to be a family.
Random thoughts I have at the moment on the motherhood:
- I have this backup tank of energy and patience that I never knew existed.
- 2 weeks ago I gagged at every poopy diaper, now I wipe butts like, I dunno, someone who wipes butts a lot?
-I am 100% confident that I have swept and cleaned my kitchen floor mores times in the last 10 days than I did the previous 4 years we lived here.
- The person who invented picture in picture for television surely was a stay-at-home mom with toddlers
- Burping is a universal "boy" language, so are superheros
- "I love you" sounds really darn cute in a Russian accent
- When did Fareway become my favorite shopping destination?
- How do single parents do this?
 And a few get-to-know-you facts about the kadiddles:
Loves all things superheroes. 
Wants to go swimming every night.
Ipad extraordinaire. 
Very determined, hates it when he's not good at something. Competitive. 
Banana lover - maybe part monkey?
Counts to ten in English. 
Scared of the dark. 
Crawls into our bed at some point every night.
Loves to read books.
Major cuddle bug in the mornings. 
Sings and recites Russian rhymes and songs. 
Wanted to buzz his hair like his Papa.
Can climb anything, and I mean anything.
If he sees it done once, he can repeat it. 
Daddy's girl : ) 
Loves her new haircut
Gets excited every morning to put on a new outfit
Likes to know the rules and point out when her siblings are breaking the rules
Obsessed with dogs
Thinks Dottie's name is "Gentle"
If it's dirty, she will clean it. 
When she's tired, watch out. 
Repeats everything in English
(My) current favorite phrases she says are: "Stiiiinky poop!" "I love luuuu" and "Hold on, lady!"
Can kinda sing her ABC's
Loves pickles!
Likes to do things herself or be totally babied - there's no in between
Pretty ornery once ya get to know her! : )
If the older kids do it, so will she.
Always a member of the clean plate club 
Likes "foo foos" in her hair
Pretends to be Mommy to her dolls (Lah-lahs she calls them)
Puts everything in her mouth
Throws a mean rock (yes, I'll be seeing a dentist for my chipped tooth later this week)
Flashes a huge smile when she's told "no"
Arch Nemesis with Dottie
Best buddies with her Dadushka who she calls Dah-dah
Survived a nasty case of chicken pox and MRSA
Throws one hand in the air when she's falling asleep like she's praising the Lord
Favorite games: Stinky feet game, this little piggy, and "Where's Olivia?"

There's a quick update of our first week home, there is so much more to tell, but I wanted to get a few thoughts down before I forget! : ) 


Monday, July 9, 2012

Meet Our Family! : )

I've been waiting for SOOO long to share these sweet faces with you.  
Blogworld, meet my family. : )

Friday, July 6, 2012

Final Days in Russia

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking.  The next 10 hours are about to be some of the least enjoyable hours you've ever spent over international waters. The Schmitz family would like to apologize in advance for the hell you are about to endure.  Please understand that if they could make it better, they certainly would."

You think that sounds appropriate?  I'm just going to go ahead and slip that to the captain as we step on the plane tomorrow.  Lord help us. 

Tomorrow marks the part of our journey that has terrified me from day one.  Being stuck on an airplane with 3 unhappy kids. Isn't that what nightmares are made of? 

But we'll get on that plane tomorrow anyway, the six of us. And we'll get off the plane, too.  In the end, it's just a day.  And at the end of the day, however good or bad it may be, I get to see a room full of people who love us and have been waiting impatiently to meet our family. 

And that moment? That moment will get me through it.

My dad's arrival in Russia was just the pick-me-up we needed for these final couple of days in Moscow.  I'm not sure we would have survived without him.  He came fully loaded with love, patience, understanding, and the ability to assist in jumping over pillow forts, and that's just what we need around these parts.  Thank you, Dad. 

Dad has been a huge part of a busy couple of days watching three souls come alive with a family that loves them.  Yah, we're working through some stuff.  Sleep, tantrums, setting boundaries.  It's pretty much chaos.  It feels like we've got a long ways until we'll be normal. But those smiles? The I love yous? (in Russian and English, might I add).  The kisses and affection just when they've pushed us the farthest?  Pure awesome.  I suppose every parent who is reading this right now knows exactly what I mean. 

So here we go.  The U.S. Embassy's approved us.  The paperwork is done.  The suitcases are packed.
Let's go home.  

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

When the lights go out in Moscow!

Before I update you on our day, I have to start by saying how incredibly blessed I feel for such wonderful friendships.  It was a long day.  The kids finally went to sleep at midnight, and I open up  my computer for a minute of peace and quiet and find blog post after blog post wishing us a happy family day.  I'm not sure you all understand how lucky we are to have you.  You're amazing, all of you.  This Mama needed that today, and I think the Papa did, too.   I'm trying not to cry so much though, and you're all not helping! : )

So hoooooly cow, we made it to Moscow.  One step closer, baby.  I am loving it bigtime that it's dark here!  Those white nights of St. Petersburg were not for me. 

Let me tell ya, 1 foreign train station + 3 children + 5 suitcases + 2 backpacks = a whole lotta scary.
Hey husband of mine, remember the days when we would just walk out the door with ourselves and that's it?  Oh yes, one week ago were those days.  Now it feels more like we are the ringmasters of a three ring circus. I thank God over and over and over for our wonderful adoption agency and the people that work for them. Without them, we would have not made it from point A to point B today. 

The kids did 1/2 great on the train and 1/2 awful.  The first 2 hours were parental bliss:
"The kids are doing so well, it's so nice to have a conversation, happy anniversary babe, this is great..."

BAM!  Meltdown city for Olivia - she would not be set on a seat, she would only be held by her mama, while I was standing and facing another baby in the car next to us.  At the same time,  Thing 1 and Thing 2...errr... Joel and Stella discovered the automatic door to open to the next car.  What a fun game!  Daddy chases screaming toddlers throughout the train.  Ohhh yes, there were tears, there were screams, there were meltdowns. I won't tell you which came from us and which came from the passengers nearby.  But we made it, that's what matters, folks.

We got all checked in our apartment here, and the US Embassy doctor came to make a checkup on the kids tonight.  They got the all clear to enter the US.  

My dad shows up tomorrow for reinforcements for the last couple of days and the trip home and I think I may shed a few more tears when I see him.  It will be so good to have him here.  I'm not sure who's more excited though, him or me. : )

It's been an emotional journey and these days will surely stand vividly in my memory.  We are experiencing so many firsts all at once and the five of us have begun an awesome new life together. I would have never expected to find my children halfway around the world, but when I look at their faces...their they are, my missing pieces. 

Paka from Moscow! 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


I know I didn't get a chance to blog on Family Day, but it was a crazy day full of lots of love and chaos.  I was able to steal a few precious minutes on the computer late in the evening hours and was overwhelmed by all of your kind thoughts and words.  You brought me to tears, guys.  Seriously, thanks for everything.

Day 2 as a family is going amazingly well.  All of the kids ended up sleeping in late after their late night up, so we did manage to all get some rest!  We are bonding over food and love and songs and games. 

My favorite moment of the day so far was sitting at the lunch table with my family. My family.  Ahh my heart swells just saying it.  Okay gushy mom, stop. : )

Anyways, I asked the kids "fkus-nah?" which means "is it yummy?" in Russian.  Then I modeled the response in English, "It's YUMMY!" 

To my surprise all three kids yelled YOMMY!  (Okay, Livvy yelled YOM, but close enough!)

All day they've been marching around the apartment yelling "It's YOMMY!" 

They freaking amaze me. 

Life is good, folks.  Prayers still appreciated as we board a train from St. Pete to Moscow tomorrow on day 3 as a family with no translator. 

Transitions are scary for them, and scary for us!  : )