Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Celebrating!

       
      Today our sweet little boy turns two!!  It's crazy to think back to two years ago when this little guy was just born...earlier than expected....in a village so very far away.....we were just feeling the first tugs on our heart to consider adoption.  I wondered time and again if our child was even born as we went through the process, only to learn that he had been born just when we started to feel God's call.  To know that we prayed for this boy almost since day one is such a blessing.  And then, without knowing until much later, on August 22, 2012, just one day after Levi turned one, we received the call saying we had a son waiting for us!  We knew his birthday was in August, but had no idea he had turned one just the day before.  Now here we are on his second birthday, able to celebrate as a family and show him how special and loved he is!!

     In just a few days Levi will officially be home seven months.  It seems like it flew by and yet I can't remember life without him.  And as I think back to the little boy we brought home that day in January, I realize just how far he has come.....

      ~ We brought home a baby, whom we gave a bottle and pureed food.....his eyes would tear and his face became red when he drank from the bottle as it was a strain for him at first.  And now this little guy eats whatever we do!  I remember within a month of coming home, he wanted the big boy sippy cup that his brother had and wanted nothing more to do with the bottle!
      ~ It's also fascinating how eating used to be the most serious business...and he would literally eat anything I offered.  Now he's learned that he has a choice, that there are other options, and that he can communicate that he wants something else!
      ~ Levi's way of soothing himself was to rub a blanket on his head and face.  As I rocked him to sleep each night (something he seemed to enjoy, but often struggled to get comfortable with) he started to allow me to help him soothe this way.  At first he held my hand and basically guided me.  Then for a time he allowed me to do it for him, only sometimes taking over.  I remember briefly rubbing his head without a blanket....and now?  I can't remember the last time this was a part of our routine.  He lays, completely relaxed in my arms as we rock, read his book and sing a song.  And as soon as I get up he knows what I am about to say...and he says it first....."I love you."
       ~ When we first came home, I remember being worried by how much he slept.  Just thirty minutes of playing and crawling around and he was exhausted.  It took some time, but it's amazing to see how much he can do and how busy he is these days, with just one nap!
       ~ I couldn't be out of sight for quite a while.....if I put Levi down, he loved to explore, but as soon as I went into another room, he had to follow.  Often times he would get upset and need me to hold him.  Now he will sometimes come and check in, just to see what I'm doing, and then happily crawl away to play with his brother!
     ~ He's learned so many skills....clapping, peekaboo, turning lights on and off, figuring out toys and how things work....he is quite the curious little guy and he picks things up so quickly!  He knows his routines and makes sure I remember them too!  He signs so many words to communicate with us, and is really trying to say so many new words.
     ~  He's learned that he has a choice in many areas....in the beginning he would pretty much go to anyone who held their hands out.  Now he'll often shake his head no....or point to where he wants to go and who he wants to go to.  : )

      In some ways though, Levi has remained the same.  His determination, perseverance and sweet demeanor are unwavering.  None of the obstacles he has experienced have held him back....time and time again he has defied the odds and shown his strong personality.  He has also from day one been the most lovable little boy.  Even when he first came home, he would frequently squeeze me tight when I was holding him.  Even now, he will stop playing to crawl over and hug me, or give me kisses.  (He kisses pretty much anyone and anything these days actually!).  We are so blessed that God has brought him into our lives, so thankful for all who helped make it possible, and are so excited that we were able to celebrate both of these at Levi's 2nd birthday party!

      We struggled to come up with a theme for his party....there's not one thing that Levi absolutely loves, since he just really loves everything!  Then we realized the most obvious, a Russian themed party!  It was a bit last minute, and we're not really sure how authentic the ideas we found are....but we tried!


Word is that it's much more common to have a birthday pie in Russia....hence the pie!

Luke makes a sign for each birthday....the Russian says Levi Ivan Cruse

I read somewhere that favors/gifts are hung from a rope and children take one down as they leave : )


So this wasn't the most ambitious Russian recipe, but I was a little intimidated so I kept it simple (they were a big hit though!)

Totally unrelated....Caleb having his first soda...

Singing Happy Birthday to the birthday boy!

Thank you Shayna for suggesting a family picture!

LOVING his cupcake!

Apparently I wasn't giving it to him quick enough : ) 


The NO-Gift party.....yeah, we're spoiled!



        
     Thank you so much to everyone who came and celebrated with us. It really made the day so special.  We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day...and most of all Levi enjoyed every second of it!  I know he didn't really understand that it was all for him, but he had a blast and someday he will be able to look back and see just how special this day was!



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I can't help but think of someone else today......a woman I've never met, but who has profoundly impacted my life, and who without knowing has given me one of life's greatest blessings.  I have no way of knowing what she may be feeling today, but my prayer is that she knows the love of a Father who knows all and loves her unconditionally....and that if she feels even a fraction of what I cannot even begin to imagine she may, that she can find peace in Him.