Thursday, September 18, 2014

Endocrinology for Iryna

Today we met with the endocrinologist about Iryna. To my knowledge, this is the first time she has met with an endo since we first adopted her. I am concerned because Iryna doesn't seem to be growing very much, ie staying in the same size of clothing for more than 2 years, and also because she is beginning to develop in what looks like puberty. The idea of Iryna beginning menstrual cycles is enough to scare me, although I realize it will happen eventually. We went in to discuss the idea of growth hormone and possibly deterring the onset of puberty. After meeting with the doctor, he said she is not eligible for either growth hormones or preventing puberty. She is 10 years old and she is on par with where she should be, puberty-wise. He indicated that she *should* begin her cycles in a couple of years. He also stated that Iryna should reach the height of about 4 foot 10 inches...can you believe that?! My jaw about hit the floor. I knew she wouldn't be tall - but I somehow assumed she would reach at LEAST 5 feet. Ha ha. I guess we will have some "being short" related jokes in our household in the near future. This also answers my questions for endocrinology for Keith, Calvin, and Silas who are all short in stature. The doctor did say that I should try to fatten Iryna and the boys up by giving them milkshakes every night. So, we are going to give that a go.

Monday, September 08, 2014

What's new with Iryna

As you know, we've had a difficult summer, and Iryna has most certainly struggled as we have made major changes in her life. She was excited about the changes but they also overwhelmed her. Iryna has always allowed for me to be affectionate with her. If I asked her for a hug or for a snuggle, she would oblige. Sometimes she would have her arm between me and her when hugging me, sometimes not. I recognized that affection wasn't her strong point, but I know how important affection is for everyone so I made the effort to show it. Well, in the past two weeks, Iryna has come up to me and hugged me on her own. She has also asked me for a snuggle! I am excited for this progress!

Her hair is growing out some, although some people still mistaken her for a boy.

There are days when Iryna tries to control her impulses - and days where she doesn't. I don't know how to motivate her to WANT to overcome the impulses. I hope in time that she will find the motivation from within herself. She truly is a GOOD GIRL who has to overcome herself to improve. Such a struggle!

She seems to like her new school here, especially riding the bus with Keith. They are both in the same class, which I'm not exactly thrilled with - I think they might learn better being separated from each other as Iryna tends to baby Keith somewhat. 

Iryna has her own room, which I am thinking is a must for her. It consists of a queen mattress and box spring set in the middle of the room, some curtains - up high so she cannot reach them, a picture of Christ and the temple, a closet (with an alarm so she won't go in and break all the hangers or change clothes multiple times throughout the night) and a door alarm, so she won't go roaming the house unattended during the night. I recently bought The Clone Wars wall decals for the boys room and Iryna was very jealous, so I bought her some Super Mario wall decals for her room. She. Loves. Them. In fact, she asks to go up to her room so she can look at the wall decals - they are up high on the wall so she cannot reach them, otherwise she would try to remove them. 

Iryna still enjoys puzzles. Sometimes she rips the puzzle pieces apart, which is irritating. She has also removed the Mario sticker from our wii remote. It's not that she wants to keep the sticker or the tops of the puzzle pieces...she just wants to destroy them. Such an oddity that I still don't understand after six years. 

She loves Calvin AND is incredibly jealous of Calvin. Everyone in the room can be wearing shorts - or "leggies" as she calls them - but she will pout and say, "Only CALVIN!" and stick her chin out at him. It is bizarre. Now Silas is picking up on this habit. Ugh. 

Iryna is still underweight, despite my feeding her as much food as she wants. We are making an appointment with an endocrinologist to see about growth hormone. Anyone have any experience with that?

Iryna is still very oral and enjoys sucking on metal or hard plastic objects. I need to get her some more items to chew on. Any suggestions? Right now we have a few barrel of monkey monkeys that she likes. I took this video of her chewing on the monkey the other night. 

video


I think Iryna is making some progress. There are some things she has grown out of and I have learned how to prevent things from happening - like no more items in her room other than what is absolutely necessary. Motherhood can be challenging, but whenever Iryna runs up and gives me a hug? That is liquid gold. I love my Ukrainian princess!

Friday, September 05, 2014

Back to School

This summer has been rough on me. I had ideas of what the summer would hold, but life happens and we must adapt. I am grateful for the new memories I was able to make in Oklahoma with my family. My kids feel more close to them now than ever and still ask about them. Transitioning to the DC area has been difficult. There have been several times where Tyler and I both have felt like things were against us. We have had verizon fiber optic internet installed - which is supposed to be amazing - and we've had three servicemen out to figure out why it is super slow. Still no improvement there. The area we live in struggles with phone reception and service. We had to switch from AT&T because AT&T doesn't cover my neighborhood. It was sort of comical - people would call but I would only get voicemails on my phone. Imagine trying to set up utilities and doctor appointments but not being able to receive calls. So, we switched to Virgin mobile and now I get phone calls, but people say my voice is difficult to hear. So now we are trying to see if they can fix that or if we need to switch to yet, another cell phone carrier. 

Medical care has also been a beast. For one, the appointment line receptionists aren't nice - which is a first for me in my 9 years of Air Force medical care treatment. Second, our new PCM wasn't able to meet with us for the whole month of August. We got in initially to get Iryna's medication filled but after jumping through hoops over the course of 3 weeks, we had to get another appointment to get a written script so we could go to CVS to get it filled. We can't not have Iryna on meds. It wouldn't be pretty, folks. Another issue is getting referrals close to where we live, instead of the 90 minute commute that most referral locations want us to make. So far we have gotten two out of the several that I need nearby, but Anna has been out of her accutane for 6 weeks now and no dermatology appointment is even made yet. Frustrating!

Trying to enroll 5 kids in school, with 3 having IEPs, has also been interesting. The school administration decided to spread my 5 kids into 4 separate schools. Thankfully, all kids will be on a bus route. However, the first two days of school, they would only bus two of the kids. So I needed to drive the twins and Silas to their schools - both of which were 20 minutes away. Silas only goes half-day, so I was making three 20 minute commutes, which added up to 2 hours of driving per day and I was only getting 1 hour and 45 minutes of a break within all that. It was TOUGH. And our a/c is out in the van. I am not trying to complain (at least not consciously) but it's been so hard on me physically. It is hot outside and I am sweating a ton and trying to deal with new schedules and the stress that I feel multiplied by the stress my children feel with starting a new school year. Thankfully, today they got the twins and Silas on their bus routes - so no more commuting for me! Yippee! Today I get 4 1/2 hours of uninterrupted time. It is sweet bliss, I tell you. And here are the photos you're looking for of my 5 kids. Aren't they cute?

Thursday, September 04, 2014

36 years young


I turned 36 this week. Why does 36 sound so much older than 35? It was Labor Day weekend, which meant my husband was home! That was a gift in and of itself. Also, my kids started school this week - another gift!

My dear sister, Heather, wrote the following about me on Instagram for my big day:
Happy happy birthday to my beautiful older sister, Jill! What an inspiration you are to me. You are my rock. No one understands me the way you do, and we have shared everything together. Thank you for always being there for me, always making time to listen and to comfort. Thank you for being patient with me and for loving me no matter what. You mean the world to me and I cannot imagine life without you! I hope you get spoiled today - you deserve it more than anyone!! xo
My kids wanted to share birthday fun with me via Legos! On the left is my Le Creuset Dutch Oven made by Calvin, in the middle is a bowl of vanilla ice cream that Keith and I put together, and Iryna made me a chocolate cake! I have the best kids!

Birthday Breakfast: GF Baked French Toast

Tyler took me out to a local Mexican restaurant for lunch. They had the best Horchata. Yum. Tyler was so sweet and told me how extraordinary of a person I am. I must admit, I have been feeling a bit low lately. I was feeling less than spectacular and there is nothing like a sincere compliment to buoy me up. Tyler is good at that. And so is my sister, Hache. 

I had bought a dutch oven that had legs on it - for camping and emergency preparedness - but I found recipes that called for a dutch oven that could be used in the kitchen...you know, on the stove AND in the oven? Well, I figured that it was time to get one and it just happened to coincide with my birthday. Don't you love it when that happens? Well, I have used it once and I cannot wait to use it again. Such high quality! And I got free shipping on Amazon Prime. 


Okay, so the woman on the far right is in my ward. I was needing some more Sunday appropriate music so I ordered this CD for my birthday. I highly recommend it! You can get yours here.

My sweet mother asked me what I wanted for my birthday, so I gave her two choices. Of course she got them both AND in orange, I might add. She knows me well. 

Wow! This is my first GF Chocolate Cake and it was delicious. Here is the link to the recipe. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

One month here

We have been in our new home for a month now. We are all unpacked and everything has a place, for the most part. School starts next week and we are ready for it!

Tyler is enjoying his job, although not the commute. Our evenings are precious now that they are so short in family time. 



I am trying to get all the dr appointments made and following up with referrals and scheduling therapies and getting medicine picked up. There is so much to coordinate and sometimes I spend hours on the phone, which is emotionally overwhelming. I forget how much there is to do when we move to a new place. I needed a change, so I got a haircut! The a/c going out on our van was a deciding factor. 



Anna is back to practicing the piano. She still hates it, but I have developed a new practice plan. She has a new hymn assigned to her each week. A week later I have her play me the hymn. If I can sing along with it, she gets assigned a new hymn. If not, she loses electronic privileges for the following week. It has been quite motivating to her! And in the end, I get what I want: for her to be proficient in playing the church hymns. 

Keith is obsessed with the movie Monsters vs Aliens now, which my good friend, Amie, let us borrow. 

Iryna went to Activity Day Camp this last week. She had a BLAST! I took her up to the church to carpool with other girls. One day, we showed up and there were some girls standing in a semicircle talking. Without a word from me, Iryna walked up and joined the circle. I was struck with how she knew how to act in this social situation. I was so proud of her!







Calvin is really into STAR WARS now. He loves pretending to be Anakin and swinging a pool noodle around like a light saber. Calvin caught a fever this past week and we had a five hour visit to the ER. He is doing better now. 


Silas had a fever last week, also. He has taken to playing with Legos now. He loves building things for his Mama. 


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What's happenin' 'round here

 Anna has been welcomed by the YW here. Her Beehive leader and the YW President came by to visit with she and I. They even brought flowers!
My baby is growing up...

This is a picture of all the Russell babies and their spouses thus far. Mom and standing behind Coulter. He is an eligible bachelor and so fabulous. Cannot wait to meet his future spouse!


Iryna's most recent conquest. She loves to suck on hard, plastic toys or metal items like this screw. I cannot seem to keep all of them out of her way. 

We went in to get referrals for Iryna and Anna, plus get some immunizations done. It took T H R E E hours to get it all done. Next month I have four appointments for physicals. They only offer them at one set time each morning, so I have four scheduled next month. I wish they could do them all in the same day. Sheesh.

My beautiful daughter, Anna, loves to make us surprises and create new snacks. She is such a gem.



There was an Activity Days Sock Hop at the church put on by the YW. Anna was so excited to help organize it and asked me to make s'mores cookies to take. Iryna has a blast dancing it up with her Daddy and friends. Tyler said she did beautifully, despite having had her medicine wear off hours before the dance ended. Hooray for good moments!








Anna took a math placement test for 7th grade. It took 2 hours to complete, so we just had to go to Chick-Fil-A to get some ice cream. Yummy!

I made a new recipe - cabbage rolls! They were a big hit and I enjoyed learning to make something new.

Have you tried these? Oh man. They are gummy heaven!

My sweet husband installing blinds in a blinding kitchen! He is amazing.

So grateful to have a husband who teaches our children from the scriptures.#soblessed


Monday, August 18, 2014

Singing opportunity

One of the things that has really excited me about my new ward here is that there are several musicians in the ward. As in, they have degrees in music and play instruments as their profession. Yeah, the real deal. I am looking forward to hearing them perform and enjoying their talents. Initially, I was worried that with all the talent in the ward that there wouldn't be any room for me - sounds selfish, right? But then I spoke with someone and they were telling me that they were recently hoping that a professional singer would move into the ward. This caused me to feel very nervous - which I know wasn't their intention.

As you know, I am NOT a professional singer. I have had about 3 years of voice lessons total and do not have a degree in music. I was asked to sing a solo in church and I began practicing. It wasn't just any solo, but O DIVINE REDEEMER. This piece is beautiful; one of my husband's favorites. But it is also a WORKOUT for me. If my voice isn't in tip-top shape, then it doesn't sound good. And I haven't been warming up and singing classical music for a few months, so when I practiced the song...it left much to be desired. I began practicing twice a day and praying for help. By the time Sunday rolled around, I was so incredibly anxious. I was worried about what the professional musicians would think - even though that shouldn't matter. When the time came to sing, my voice was ready and I was able to sing with my whole soul, feeling the Holy Ghost as my companion. I truly felt as though God had magnified my musical ability. It was glorious and wonderful.

I am more and more thankful that when God was passing out the talents, that music was passed to me. I have a strong desire to praise my Father in Heaven through music and I feel the Holy Ghost more strongly in music than in any other way. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the driving force in my life and my testimony grows every time I sing in church. Because I was practicing this piece over and over, I reflected more upon the words and I felt like I understood the atonement of Jesus Christ better. I am grateful I was asked to sing.

Ah! Turn me not away,
Receive me tho' unworthy;
Hear Thou my cry,
Behold, Lord, my distress!
Answer me from thy throne
Haste Thee, Lord to mine aid,
Thy pity shew in my deep anguish!
Let not the sword of vengeance smite me,
Though righteous thine anger,
O Lord! Shield me in danger, O regard me!
On Thee, Lord, alone will I call.
O Divine Redeemer!
I pray Thee, grant me pardon,
and remember not, remember not my sins!
Forgive me, O Divine Redeemer!
Night gathers round my soul;
Fearful, I cry to Thee;
Come to mine aid, O Lord!
Haste Thee, Lord, haste to help me!
Hear my cry! Save me Lord in Thy mercy;
Come and save me O Lord
Save, in the day of retribution,
From Death shield Thou me, O my God!
O Divine Redeemer, have mercy!
Help me, my Saviour!