Thursday, October 30, 2008


Trav and I keep commenting on what lucky parents we are. We have the funniest, happiest, cutest kid, AND she has dimples. Anya is doing amazingly well for only being home a month. When we first met her, she was shy, would barely look us in the eye, wasn’t smiling much, hardly peeped a sound, and was hesitant about being around us. Now, she acts like a normal toddler, getting into everything and babbling constantly. She is completely attached to Trav and me (I used to ask her on occasion if she was attached yet), and we love seeing her smile and hearing her laugh. Her favorite things are being outside, playing in the bath, and eating. She eats at least as much as I do, sometimes more, and she is a very neat eater for the most part.

As for me, I’ve got a new respect for moms. I fight everyday to keep up the house, take care of my family and make sure we’re getting our exercise in and eating healthy. Finding balance is a challenge!

I am a self-confessed control-freak, so letting go has been a struggle. But, with prayer and work, as well as some insightful words from my mom, I let Anya control most things, except when she goes down for naps and to bed for the night. One of the things I’ve learned is that children make progress quickly, but they also have days or a week here or there where it seems their brains are overloaded, and they take a break. My dad mentioned today that I should beware that at age 13, the brain fairy will come take her brain away for about a decade. But, I digress. Regarding this week’s brain vacation, Anya isn’t using any of her baby signs, and she isn’t really eating anything by herself, preferring instead that we feed her. I haven’t summed up what I think about the job of mothering, other than that it’s really confusing and insightful, stressful and fun. There’s something amazing about having a child that makes you want to change yourself for the better. When you screw up and your own child gives you grace, it makes you work hard to be a better parent, and give that grace back in abundance.

I think Anya has had a lot of fun with all the new experiences she’s had, visiting the apple orchards, the pumpkin patch, the zoo, and tomorrow, experiencing Halloween as a cute little pig with some new friends. We are having a lot of fun with her, and although she keeps us busy, we always enjoy the funny moments she brings to our lives. She fits right in, and I told Anya today that I was definitely attached.

Monday, October 6, 2008

It is great to be back in the good ‘ol USA. We missed our king size bed and our dog, Daisy. We missed English and home cooked food. We missed friends and family. We missed warm days and sunshine.

While we were gone, our friends and my mom helped finish Anya’s room, left us home cooked meals in the freezer, cleaned our house, mowed our yard, babysat Daisy, brought toys and playthings for Anya, filled our fruit bowl and fridge, and decorated our house. We were so overwhelmed by everyone’s efforts in welcoming us home, we felt like we were on a toned-down version of ABC’s Extreme Home Makeover show. Welcome Home, Raish Family, Welcome Home!

Cheri Beckman is a talented muralist and painted the ladybugs and dragonflies in Anya’s room, as well as the polka-dots that matched the bedding set. Beth Blanc is a talented jewelry designer with a former profession in interior design who dressed the windows, and her husband Bob finished off the trim around the room and helped with the finishing touches. Anya’s bedroom is the best looking room in the house without a doubt, so you know who holds the highest honor in our home.


I’m coming up for air! Today was Anya’s first good day since we arrived home. She was crying a lot; she is going through the grieving process. We immediately initiated a routine when we arrived home. She is still having a hard time with naps. At first, she would cry for 5-10 minutes when we’d put her down. Lately, she has cried for 2 hours or more. The first 2 days, we went in several times to soothe her, but to no avail. She was also jet lagged. Then, we tried 2 days of leaving the room completely, which didn’t work either. Today, I stayed in her room for 20 minutes without talking to her, and she cried for only 20 minutes more, so maybe we’re making progress.

We were feeding her, but she would throw a fit after every bite or two of food that we would put in. So, we decided to let her feed herself, which she can do anyway, and the tantrums have decreased. This also occurs with putting on shoes. She wants to choose her shoes and put them on herself, so we let her do what she can and help her when she “asks” for it. It’s hard not to want to help her, because she was left to do for herself at the orphanage. When she eats, she uses her spoon to catch food that doesn’t make it in her mouth. She’ll scoop it off her face for instance, like a parent would do for a baby. Anything that drops on the floor, she shows immediate concern. She doesn’t understand the concept of “all gone”. So, when there is no more applesauce for instance, she gets very upset.

Do all moms feel sorrow at their loss of freedom once they have the child they’ve wanted for so long? I’m feeling a bit of that now, but not too badly. I feel fortunate that Anya has bonded so well with me. She follows me everywhere and wants to be held a lot. She holds onto my legs while I’m cooking. I get hugs that melt my heart, and I’ve gotten a couple kisses too. The last week has been hard for all of us, but today was a great welcome. A recent bible study I read taught me that God is working through me to be the mother He wants me to be, and honestly, that is a great comfort. Thank you God, for our daughter, and for the gift of parenthood, no matter how hard things get.