It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start. -Mother Teresa

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas Letter Update 2016 - Stacey


Of all of us, Stacey has without a doubt had the hardest year but note her face in almost all these would never know it. The girl is tough. Too tough for her own good according to some medical professionals...only her Physical Therapist seems to appreciate this character trait!

Stacey is my child most likely to be upset by what I pick out for her to wear. In this picture she is at Disney World with her Papa. I can't actually make Papa wear matchy-matchy clothes but I can Stacey! She is wearing a pink Cinderella  shirt that matches Nadia and Nancy while JoJo wears a Cinderella dress. Can I just take a moment to publicly acknowledge that I appreciate her willingness to indulge me this once??? Thank you, Stacey! You looked adorable! doesn't matter how old you are. It is still magical when you meet one! 

Here Stacey is pulling Jo UP a hill. Seriously, I told you she was tough! She is no-nonsense so she expects the most from people. Yet she is the first one to serve others in our family. Jo gets most of Stacey's hospitality without showing her appreciation and still Stacey helps her. 

Hair. Make-up. Face paint! Stacey loves stuff like this. She would like to be a cosmetologist when she grows up. You will often find her sitting behind a willing volunteer while she tries a new braid or style she found on the Internet to try. 

In March we met up in southern Indiana with the Stephens girls to do some caving. 

On the same trip, Stacey ran/walked her first 5k with her sister and her Aunt Nancy. 

One of our family fun goals this year was to build a fort and sleep in it. 

This is a picture that I have previously shared on Facebook. This is the caption that I used:  "This child won a soccer medal in a 3 v 3 tournament. A year ago that would have been impossible because she didn't even have an opportunity to play on a team. Six months ago she had the opportunity but lacked the confidence. Guys, her newfound confidence was literally rewarded! That doesn't always happen. Rejoice with us not because our daughter is a "winner" but because of what this symbolizes! #adoption " 

Stacey is my child most likely to be found with a book. She reads both in Russian and now in English. Recently she started reading English Chapter Books and started an excellent, life-changing series: The Baby-Sitter Club! I was so excited that I could share that with her (they were after all my books), I told she could even borrow my Baby-Sitters Club Sleeping bag. (I even showed her where it was in the attic but she must have forgot because I haven't seen her use it.) 

May 11th. Ugh. Stacey has serious orthopedic surgery on her hip at Shriner's Hospital in St. Louis. After months of just knowing it was coming and appointment after appointment, she was in some ways just ready to get it done. She spent several days at the hospital looking like this or puking her guts out because of a reaction to pain meds. She never once said her pain was higher than a 3 even though they literally cut out a chunk of her femur and reattached it together with pins and wire. So pretty much, we can't trust her to rate her pain on a scale. 

Stacey was not allowed to put ANY pressure on her leg/hip for weeks. That meant she moved from bed to couch to toilet only with a lot of assistance. For Stacey this meant relying on others to help her. Just like she isn't great at giving an accurate number on the pain scale, she isn't good at asking for help. Needless to say, this was a physically painful and emotionally frustrating time. It was also an exhausting time as her body worked hard to heal itself (and her mother had to wake her up every 4 hour around the clock for 3 weeks to give her meds...this girl can sleep through a lot so waking her up to swallow was no small feat!) 

Uncle R visited this summer and snuck Stacey out of the house for a ride around town in his convertible. It was her first time leaving the house in a while and she was so happy!!! Just what the doctor ordered. (Plus when you can't bend your leg, you always get to sit shotgun!) 

Because she was not allowed to put pressure on her leg and had to use crutches for over 8 weeks, Stacey spent A LOT of time in this chair watching others participate in summer activities. Poor child was getting so antsy to participate but she (mainly) followed the doctor's orders and sat around...and sat around...and sat around. One thing I am really proud of her for doing from this chair was volunteering at VBS. Everyday we would bring her and this chair so she could help in arts and crafts. 

Finally, we started to get some clearances from the surgeon. She was allowed to use a lift to get into the pool but still no pressure. There was a point that Stacey dreaded using this lift and was horrified at even the thought of it. But look at her face! After weeks and weeks of no movement, she was thrilled to let the lifeguard figure out how to use this thing! (We are so blessed that our YMCA has a lift available!) 

One of the things we could ALL enjoy this summer was the drive-in. Stacey hauled her chair there and enjoyed being out and about. (Nancy and Nadia were at church camp so the house was pretty quiet). I totally included in this picture because this was the first time that Stacey ever had stayed awake for a whole movie at the drive-in...and apparently, she was struggling to do that! That is a weird glow-light thing in her hand. For those of you who don't know, Stacey is my fidgeter. Have to keep those hands busy! 
No caption necessary. Stacey has the famous Odessan humor. 

Recovery took way longer than any of us were expecting so Stacey was still on crutches when she attended camp. But she was able to go!!! It was so cool to drop my three oldest daughters off at the very same camp in Northern Indiana that I attended every summer as child and teenager! 

Every few weeks finds us in St. Louis getting scans, measured, poked, prodded, observed, questioned, and generally exhausted. She handled it so well. 

On July 3rd, Stacey turned 14. It was our second time ever celebrating her birthday with her! 

Rather than a birthday party, Stacey wanted a wish fulfilled: to see her favorite animal. When your favorite animal is the Panda, it is a little tricky because there are only 4 places in the US. We were in Louisiana for a wedding on July 2nd so for us Memphis was the nearest location. We woke up early and got here there in time to see Pandas on her actual birthday! (Yes, she is still on crutches.) 

On July 31st we headed up to see a Chicago Fire Soccer Match and followed up with our family's post-game tradition: Portillos! I finally convinced Stacey to try a Chicago-style hot dog. I just knew she would love them...foods are not Stacey's thing. She is a picky eater and very, VERY hesitant to try new foods. She ordered one and LOVED it. It is now her go-to order. Finally got a kid who understands how amazing Chicago dogs are!!!! (and yes, she is still on crutches as the game which means she missed both soccer camp and the camp clinic at the game)

Late August we head to Myrtle Beach...Stacey is cleared to walk without crutches!!! She still can't run, jump, or do anything else high impact but at this point, she doesn't care! She is (almost) free!!!! So nice to walk on the beach without worrying about crutches!

I just told you she was a picky eater. So what do you think...did she try the crab legs or just play with them? You'll have to ask her! 

Check out her face in this picture. Have you ever seen such pure joy?!? This is the exact moment she realizes that her parents just brought home a new puppy!

One of the things we talk about is how the girls have missed some things kids in the US usually do when they are younger. We try to give our girls opportunities to do some of these things. We can never "make up" for everything they missed but we do our best to honor wishes and dreams...even when some people may think you are too old. The fall, Stacey barely whispered, "I would like my own American Girl Doll...I think." So our next trip to St. Louis (remember we visited there A LOT this year!) we hit up the AG store and did the whole thing: pick out a doll and eat in the restaurant. We made a point to go during the week and not at a busy time so weren't surrounded by little girls. I have to rank this afternoon as one of my favorite parenting memories. It was just plain fun and she was so joyful! 

Stacey wishing Nadia a happy birthday along with her Great Aunt Sherry, Her Great Grandma Fuzzy, and her Nana Barb! 

We undertook a major house renovation this fall...removing some walls and moving around some doors. Stacey begged to help paint. I should have known how serious she would take it. She helped me prime the new drywall and couldn't wait to get our hands on actual paint. She was a HUGE help! (and she even does trim!!!) 

One of our first stops on our road trip was tradition for Nan & Jo but new for Stacey: Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. You get to spray paint!!!! 

Sleeping in a tent in the Grand November...isn't for everyone. But it is an adventure and this girl was up for it. Not a bad view for your first camping trip, huh? 

Stacey and Sam, her first host sister, making s'mores and hanging out. Sigh. So much to share about the very special time we had visiting Stacey's Godparents in LA. Making this trip out west had a lot to do with spending time with this amazing family. I can't explain how beautiful this relationship is; these people loved my daughter before I ever knew she even existed. They have faithfully prayed for and supported her since the first moment they laid eyes on her on a photo list of children available for hosting. In fact the very picture that separately caught the heart of Michael and I was taken by them. In many ways this is where our adoption begins: in the loving arms of the Stonick family! 

They spoiled us rotten with southern (Cali) hospitality! They even rented a house for us on the edge of Joshua Tree National Park. We spent a few days in the middle of nowhere enjoying the beauty of God's creation and each other. Stacey soaked up all the attention they gave was so fun to hear memories of my daughter from a time before I knew her. An added bonus was that they are picture people so not only was the trip well documented, I also left with an entire thumb drive of pictures from her first hosting. 

The first time Stacey visited us three years ago, we visited Holiday World. Her favorite ride was the log flume and I'm not exaggerating when is say that she and Nancy rode it a few dozen times. I love that know we share memories like that. I love that now she is making new memories with her new Uncle and Cousin! 

1 comment:

  1. Love learning more about Stacey's personality! Great pics. I can't believe you're writing this much about every child!