"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

Thursday, December 11, 2014

My Previous Angel Tree Babes & Julie Love

I am so thankful to be a veteran Reece’s Rainbow Angel Tree warrior. At this point I am able to see the fruit of my previous efforts to find my sweet little babies a family. Also, because I am asking you to help Julie find a family, it is nice to know that your hard earned donations are not being wasted!

Many of you remember my first Angel Tree boy, sweet Kai! Kai is now HOME with his family. Unfortunately they chose to pursue their adoption anonymously, which is their right, so I do not have much information on him. I do know that your blessings were put to good use and he is happy and doing well!


Asher, my last year’s boy has a family! They are in the process of working to bring him home.


And I am Facebook friends with his mama. His parents are so sweet and very young, and just welcomed their first baby, a little girl. You can read about his new family here: http://bringinghappinesshome.org/.

I feel so blessed that two out of three of my sweet Angel Tree babes have families. Unfortunately my little boy from two years ago, Sonny is locked behind closed doors in Russia. He was already transferred to a mental institution when they closed their doors and it does not look good for him. The change between baby and preschooler is shocking. My poor, poor little boy.


Please keep him in your prayers. His funds were transferred to Henry in South American on Reece’s Rainbow. Henry is still waiting for a family.

As sad as I am about Sonny, I know that God does not waste anything. And it is so wonderful to know that his adoption grant is sewing the seeds for Henry to find a family!

Also, I know that Sonny’s picture has been seen by many and so many people have prayed for him. Sweet Sonny is not forgotten. Please continue to pray that Russia opens its doors to foreign adoption. For the near future, children with special needs in countries like Sonny’s have their BEST HOPE for a future the United States or Canada. I know that their countries can and will change, but for now, please help little babies like Julie have a hope and future with A FAMILY and NOT IN AN INSTITUTION!

Seriously check out that crib without a mattress! This picture was taken in Julie’s country. How my heart breaks for these tiny, precious ones.


Please donate to Julie’s adoption grant HERE or click on her picture!

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And because I think its awesome and fun to get a chance to win something for giving something, the other AT warriors and I are hosting a giveaway that helps Julie and other Angel Tree babes reach their goal!

THESE ARE THE RULES: One donation of $5 will put your name into our giveaway! As an incentive for making additional donations, you will receive additional entries for every additional $5 donated.

          • $5 = 1 entry

          • $10 = 2 entries

          • $20 = 4 entries

          • $50 = 10 entries

          • $500 = 100 entries

          • And so on…

Give $35 and over to Julie, and you will receive an adorable ornament with her picture on it.

You can also gain additional entries by sharing about Julie on Facebook, Twitter or your own blog. Just leave a comment on this blog to let us know you’ve shared.


  • Go HERE and donate to Julie’s adoption grant.

  • THEN, forward your Paypal or Reece’s Rainbow donation to receipt to allangelsgiveaway@gmail.com.


  • For additional entries please Blog, Tweet or Share about this on Facebook. You can do this everyday for additional entries! (One per each type per day) Just leave a comment below ON THE BLOG stating that you have done this. It will be the honor system folks. I trust you!

  • If you have any questions, please feel free to leave one in the comment section or email us at allangelsgiveaway@gmail.com.


  • $1000 to the Reece’s Rainbow adopting family of your choice! (You may split this amount between more than one family.)
  • $1000 to the Reece’s Rainbow waiting child of your choice! (You may split this amount between more than one child.)
  • An iPad mini 3 (16 GB, valued at nearly $400)shopping_thumb1_thumb_thumb_thumb_th
  • 6 Starbucks Mystery Cards (valued at at least $30… it’s a mystery because are not 100% sure how much is on them Smile)
  • $15 Starbucks Gift Card
  • $20 in Barnes and Noble Gift Cards
  • Hello Kitty hat (adult sized)Hello-Kitty-Hat_thumb1_thumb_thumb_t
  • Dr. Who inspired hat (adult sized)Police-Hat_thumb1_thumb_thumb_thumb_[2]
  • A beautiful handmade ornament, donated by fellow warrior, Annie, featured HERE on the AAG!
  • Cookbook “What Chefs Feed Their Kids
  • Cookbook “Bundt Entertaining”

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Julie Girl FAQ

So who is this Julie girl that you have been sharing all over Facebook?

Julie is an orphan with Down Syndrome who lives in China. She was abandoned at birth to a state run institution because of her diagnosis.

julie 1

Why are you sharing her picture if she is allll the way in China?

Julie is eligible for adoption by foreign parents. If she stays in China, she will probably live out her life in poorly funded state facilities. With a home and family in the United States and Canada, her options are limitless. People with Down Syndrome in the United States go to school, some even go to college, they live independently, they have jobs. Usually none of those options are available to children elsewhere. Julie has tremendous potential!

Also as a little girl with Down Syndrome, she is unlikely to be adopted in her home country to due her country’s outdated views on people with DS. She may have DS, but you cannot forget that SHE IS STILL JUST A LITTLE GIRL. She deserves a mother and father who will love her, protect her, and encourage her to succeed, just as much as a child with normal chromosomes.

Simply put, I am praying that a family sees her and comes for her! If no one knows about her, no one will come.

Why do you keep asking for money for Julie?

Adoption is expensive. There are so many people out there who have the heart to adopt a baby with special needs, but the cost is scary since so few people have that much money laying around. I am trying to clear at least ONE obstacle that is in the way of her having a family. Andrea Roberts, the founder of Reece’s Rainbow firmly believes that the ONLY thing standing between these babies and coming home is the price of their adoption. She talks to people everyday with the heart, but who are discouraged by the cost and don’t think they can fundraise enough.

Back up, what is Reece’s Rainbow?

Reece’s Rainbow is an adoption grant and orphan advocacy foundation. They educate the world about the living conditions of orphans with disabilities worldwide and they help the families who want to adopt them with fundraising for the enormous cost. They also provide support to the families who are in process. Because of them, there are now over 1000 orphans with disabilities who have a real family! Julie is listed on Reece's Rainbow. Find out more about Reece’s Rainbow HERE.

So what EXACTLY are you trying to do as an Angel Tree Warrior?

Over the Christmas season I am in charge of sharing Julie’s picture to get her seen by as many people as possible.


I am trying to raise a minimum of $1000 towards her adoption grant.

This is my fourth year as an Angel Tree warrior. 3 out of 3  years I have met my fundraising goal. 2 out of 3 of my Angel Tree babes have families now. Due to Russia’s closing their doors to foreign adoption, my dear 2012 Angel Tree babe, Sonny, currently has no hope of a family.

Why don’t you just donate the money yourself?

Ha! I would love to; it would be a lot less humbling. But the truth is, if I took the easy way, then there would be no incentive to SHARE Julie or to SHOUT to the world that this precious child of God needs a family. The harder I have to work to get other people to donate to her account, the more people know about her and see her picture! Plus it feels like cheating to me.

So, I’ll leave you with this little nugget from God’s word…

“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our father is this… to take care of orphans and widows when they suffer and to remain uncorrupted by this world.” – James 1:27

Please consider donating to my girl Julie or sharing her picture! You can access her RR profile to donate HERE or click on anyone of her pictures on the sidebar.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Zoya Moya turns 2 months!

The addition of our third baby means that my fourth baby (the blog) has been really neglected. I hate that it is being neglected because it means that precious memories and laughs are not being recorded, but I just try to do the best I can!

Here is our sweet Zoya at 2 months and 2 days!

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She had her 2 month appointment yesterday and these were her stats.

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I love that she is getting so chunky and it’s such a pleasure to see her rolls form and her double chin develop. You can kind of see it here! Note her adorable Vera Bradley baby outfit, a gift from two sweet friends, one of whom assures me that blogging is a way to keep in touch. That’s awesome because it’s hard to do with three kids!

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Zoya is definitely our fussiest baby.  I’m so glad she’s my third because I would have been very stressed out if she had come first or come at a time as difficult as last year was, like Gemma.  As it is, it doesn’t bother me.  It is funny that unlike her sisters, and Gemma especially, she actually cries harder for me!  We had dinner at a friend’s house last night and she was fussing while I was eating. We are all parents so we just talked over it Smile, but she fussed and fussed, first in Nick’s arms, then in my friend Amy’s arms. As soon as I finished eating and picked her up she let out a WAIL to let me know that she was NOT happy. She might just be a teenager in a 2 month olds body with her baby back sass. This is a sight we see a lot.

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Another familiar sight in our home. Poor Nick has taken to coming out and digging around for clothes! We will get on top of our home eventually. Some how.

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I think only moms can understand that you can have a fussy baby and still be so happy and so in love! My girls are in love too. I always have extra hands around to “help” and Isla loves to hold her and help out. Actually Gemma loves to hold her too. The only acting out that I have really had has been from Gemma who occasionally gets upset if she is crying and finds that I am holding Zoya already. I am so thankful that she is so sweet with Zoya and loves to kiss and hug and hold “Doya”.

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I love this picture. Anytime I ask Gemma if she wants to hold Zoya she gets so excited and makes the sweetest, most serious little face. In this picture Zoya is crying and it doesn’t faze Gemma at all!

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Also, random mom comment: There’s no question that my daughters are just lovely, but I think Zoya is so beautiful. She is definitely our prettiest baby. She has such dark skin and hair (a gift from family members on my side) and her eyes are Elizabeth Taylor violet right now. Of course they will change, but we are all pretty sure that they will at least stay blue.

Zoya is a great sleeper! She has been my hardest night time sleeper though, as she had many nights of both waking often and being difficult to get back to sleep. However at this point she has slept through the night several nights, and even on the nights where she does wake up, she only wakes up once, has a little snack, and goes right back to sleep! Hooray for Baby Wise, tight swaddles and my nap nanny!

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Another thing, Zoya is definitely my least “flexible” baby, but she is the third so she has to be flexible. She doesn’t really have a choice! I don’t think people realize just how flexible I am when I talk about my routine/schedule what ever. She falls asleep in my arms more than any other baby, and she gets nursed just about whenever she cries. In other words, she gets her needs met, OF COURSE. It’s worth noting on the days where we are perfectly in our routine, she is at her happiest. It will be good for her as she gets older to learn to go with her sisters flow.

When Zoya was born, we discovered she had a pretty severe lip tie. After consulting with our pediatrician, a lactation consultant, blogs and Dr. Google, we all decided that she needed to have a minor surgery to correct it so that she could nurse better. I was told by my orthodontist friend that she would probably fall as a toddler and it would tear, and not to worry about it. In fact I was told that by several other people. That option did not appeal to me. I just knew it would happen when Nick was gone and there would be a lot of blood and tears. I found a dentist in Houston who would perform the surgery, and we had it taken care of. Her frenum was pretty thick and she will probably always have a gap in her teeth, but at least she can nurse better now, her speech won’t be impacted, and we won’t have to deal with a bad fall later on.

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Another little Zoya tidbit. The girl loves tummy time! (I know that these are the details that people find fascinating.) My other girls just tolerated to hated it, but Zoya LOVES it. She is always falling asleep during tummy time, and if she’s fussing and I can’t hold her for some reason, its nice that I can put her down on her tummy and have her be happy.

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That’s it! I didn’t think that this post would be very long because newborns are not super interesting beyond cute pictures and so so so so many snuggles, but I can always find more words and I do find Zoya very interesting and fascinating. We are pretty much punch drunk in love with our princess!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thursday Tidbits

I have some serious posts that I want to get out, but right now I just need to download because I have had some serious brain fog the past few days.

  • Yesterday Isla ran away from me in a parking lot and got seriously close to being hit by a car and I totally lost my cool on her. I was scared but it was not cool to yell at a small child like that. Afterwards, Nick and I had a serious discussion on punishment vs. discipline and also from that discussion, we decided to make a family mission statement. You can read more about making one for your family HERE. We have a date night planned to really work on it.
  • By the way, I love Focus on the Family’s chart on Discipline Vs. Punishment and I though I would share… always a good reminder. Yesterday I think I hit every single one on the punishment list. I really want to be a better mommy than that.punishment-versus-discipline-chart
  • Isla has been begging me to let her and Gemma paint and yesterday I finally gave in… it was chaos.photo 2 (1)photo 3 (1)photo 4 (1)
  • At the time I was wondering what I was thinking, but after reviewing these pictures, I’d say it was completely worth it! How I wish I were better at enjoying the moment in the moment instead of stressing over keeping little paint covered hands off of Zoya!photo 1photo 2
  • This past Saturday, we went to the I-20 Wildlife Preserve & Jenna Welch (Laura Bush’s mom) Nature Study Center for a long walk. It was so much fun!photo 1 (3)photo 2 (2)photo 3 (2)
  • But also exhausting for one little girl. She didn’t even fight it when I put her in, she knew just what to do and stayed there until I put her in the car to go home! Smilephoto 4 (3)
  • For some reason the universe keeps pointing me in the direction of the blog, 100 Days of Real food. I hate it when people say no excuses, but I just have to say it… MAKE THE HOMEMADE LARABARS! No excuses. It takes 5 minutes and they are so delicious and healthy! We are all digging them.
  • Also for dinner the other night I made the crock pot chicken and then from that I made the chicken stock overnight. Both were so easy and healthy and CHEAP. I cannot tell you how happy I am over this frozen broth in my freezer! I stored them in 2 and 1 cup containers and also ice cube sized.photo 3
  • I switched up Isla’s school schedule so that she stays until 4 PM. You have the options to take your child home at 12, 2 and 4. Most people do 2, but it completely messes with Gemma’s nap schedule so at first I did the 12 option. It was a lot for me to unload and load up Gemma and Zoya, and also a lot for them over such a short period, plus any errands we needed to run. This is a win-win for everyone. It’s easier for me, I can take a nap with Gemma and Zoya, and I don’t have to fight Isla during quiet time. Plus it’s easier to get things done with 2 kids versus 3. And Isla is SO HAPPY to spend more time in school. She loves school more than any kid I have ever known, and loves being there longer, especially since she gets an extra recess in place of quiet time Smile. This is her when I picked her up today. I sure love this cutie pie. She really is such a sweetheart and tries so hard to be good.photo 5
  • This little punkin’ is going to be 4 weeks tomorrow! I really need to do a little post on her, but she is our fussiest, hardest baby yet. She definitely has a temper! Smile photo 4
  • But we adore her so much. How blessed we are to get to shepherd her and help her grow!photo 1 (1)
  • And her sisters really do adore her! (I would love to get a non-blurry picture of my toddler one of these days)photo
  • I just found this one on my phone… how cute are my girls?photo (2)
  • After being pregnant and nursing for over two years, I am ready for a wardrobe update. I haven’t bought anything non maternity since before I became pregnant with Gemma and no new shoes.  I am really ready to get my body back and feel cute again.  I treated myself to these new winter boots and I am obsessed with them! Wholesale-UGG-Classic-Cardy-5819-Grey_3
  • Also, my favorite jeans ripped this spring because I wore them to death. They were J brand, which are super expensive and out of my price range at full price. I had bought them on sale (50% off) and I had worn them to death over the past 3 years. I despaired of ever replacing them because they are so pricey, but they were on sale on Gilt for MORE than 50% off and only $89! Amazing.  I would never pay full price for those jeans, but since I wear them every single day, cost per wear is not too bad. I AM SO EXCITED! Now I just have to get back down weight wise into them.
  • Pregnancy weight loss is going well. I ended up gaining 39 lbs (yes, you read that right). However, its coming off pretty easily, I think that a lot of that was water weight, and I have now lost almost 30 lbs and I feel confident that I can lose the extra 9 over the next two months or so with breastfeeding and mild diet and exercise. I really need to keep a watch on my hypothyroidism though.
  • I cannot wait for date night with Nick this weekend! His parents will be watching the girls. We have always been really careful about spending time together, but now with 3 kids, I think we really need to make date nights more of a priority. I finally became serious and I have the names of 3 babysitters so that we can do this at least once monthly, and not just when the parents are in town.
  • And on a more glamorous note, I am off to scrub my toilets! Adios.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Deciding on Zoya moya’s Name

So I was all caught up on laundry but I’m behind again, and my clean yesterday house is once again dirty and I don’t want to deal with it… however I’m almost caught up on thank you cards, everyone has been fed, and everyone is happy and we had lots of love and cuddles today so things could be worse at the Wann house! And now I need to record how we picked out Zoya moya’s name.

So, how we originally picked Isla’s name can be found HERE and how we picked Gemma’s name and a little more on Isla’s backstory can be found HERE. We received so many complements on Isla and Gemma’s names that I really felt like the pressure was on with this one! My friend Janie gave me props, I believe her exact words were “unusual without being weird”… which was awesome and exactly what we were hoping for!

So one thing that I have never touched on in all of my minutia laden posts on naming my children is my naming criteria.

If we ever have a boy, he will be named after a King of England (James or Henry) and/or maybe Israel (David). Traditional. Strong. Like Nick. Nick actually likes more unusual names, even for boys, but I guess if we ever had a boy, I would want him to be just like his daddy and so I always push names that speak the qualities I would love to have in a son. Plus these names all have some sort of sentimental/family attachment.

For girls, we feel like we can be a little more creative, but I still have some standards (although note, each of our girls’ names had broken at least one of these rules). My name definitely breaks some of these rules, but I had no control over that.

  • Nothing too weird, made up or ethnic. We are WASPs. We get it. I would love to have a Santiago or Valentina, but I just don’t think we are cool enough to get away with it.
  • No alternative spellings, some are standard like Isla or Ayla, but no replacing ‘I’ with ‘Y’ just for the heck of it.
  • Have a family or sentimental connection.
  • Nothing common, preferably not in the top 100 most common names in the US. You can look up a name ranking HERE if you are curious. And yes, I totally chart my kids’ names popularity. Consider me a certified name geek.
  • A strong name for a strong woman, a name that could work for a girl or a professional woman one day.  Example – no nicknames for names, like Annie, she can be Anne or Anna and called Annie, but not have it as her legal name.

With Isla, I only knew of the actress, Isla Fisher, and I still remember the first time I considered it as a name, although I knew I didn’t love it.  However, as you know Nick loved it when he heard it immediately and that’s why we chose it. At the time it was not common. It wasn’t even a top 1000 name in the US in 2007, but it jumped to the 621st most popular name in the US in 2008 and then 345th most popular name in 2009 (see red circle). It was concerning, but I hoped that it wouldn’t increase too much in popularity… I was wrong. Since then it has continued to climb and I really hope that it doesn’t go the way of Ava (my old favorite before it was so popular) and become a top 10 name in a few years!


Right after we named Isla, I learned that Isla was the 27th or 29th most popular name in the United Kingdom! Wha-what? I had NO IDEA, and I wasn’t happy about it. By the way… it’s now like the 8th most popular name there. It annoyed me for a while, but then I just decided to embrace it and not fight it. I loved Isla so much by then, and I thought that maybe I would see what other names were popular names in the UK that weren’t as well known here in the US… which is how I found Gemma.

I technically remember hearing the name Gemma in 2008 when I watched the movie Fool’s Gold that had a character named Gemma. I liked it, and remember thinking “like Jenna, but with ‘ms’”, but it wasn’t a name I really considered until I started mining for name gold in the UK. That’s when I found out that in the 80’s, Gemma was super popular there. It was like Jennifer or Ashley in the US for that time period, but it was never popular here and in fact it’s definitely out of style there and just last year fell off the name list entirely. It is currently holding steady in the 300s in the US and so passed the not-too-popular criteria. Anyway, with that, I loved it, and so it became my top girl name for Two Baby.

I think sibling names should go together and have some sort of theme, so in that vein, I started searching for girls names in the UK for Baby Shaka. My first choice was Cora! It would have gone perfectly with Isla and Gemma. It is rising in popularity like Isla, but still not a top 100 name and thanks to Downton Abbey, it feels super British to me (even though Cora is American on the show – actually that makes it ever better!) However Nick and I do NOT call names until we see our babies – that’s just a rule, Isla and Gemma would have been named something different if we had gone with our technical first choices and we also don’t really advertise the names we are considering because we don’t want to hear the negative comments that so many other people have received.

WELL… guess what? My sister-in-law is pregnant and due in November. The week after she found out she was having a girl I received a text message announcing that they had decided to name her Cora Irene! I about died. Tiffany did not know that we were considering it and I would never take a name from someone since I know and understand first hand how hard it is to find the perfect name. It was a blow, but we took it as a sign that Cora was not the name for us. We also couldn’t find any names from the UK that we loved. Nichola was a consideration because it was apparently the Gemma of the 70’s but Nick was adamantly against it (I LOVE IT!). The rest were also too popular in the US as well… So UK names were out… bummer, because I would have loved to have continued that tradition.

We were back to the drawing board! We just felt so lost. We had a list of about 10 names going in to Shaka’s birth, the longest we have ever had. Most of them broke many of our name rules because we were so desperate and none of them had the wow factor that we felt we had with Isla and Gemma. I don’t usually advertise our second choice names but they were: Ava, Gloria, Lucia, Zoya, Aria, Dasha, Vera, and maybe a few more because it seems like we had 10. I really loved Gloria going into the birth, but when Shaka came out, Nick and I took one look at her and she was either an Aria or a Zoya. The other names seemed ridiculous to us.

Aria was one that really came to our attention about a week before Zoya was born. Aria means “melody” which is Nick’s mother’s name and we love her. Nick wanted to go with Arya, which I refused! Another thing I don’t love to advertise because of the smut, I am a HUGE A Song of Ice and Fire fan. I hate that it’s so smutty, but it’s just so well written and the storytelling is fantastic and the characters are actually three-dimensional, but I would not name my kid after one of the characters because of the smut factor.

Zoya was a Russian name, and Nick loved the idea of using a Russian name. Ok, so I promise I don’t make a habit of reading smut, but way back in high school, I read a lot of books, good books, bad books, books that just happened to be around, usually I had three or four going at a time and I read them in a day. One day I picked up a Danielle Steel novel called Zoya and I read it and that was that. At this point in my life, I avoid the romance genre, I was never a fan, but I would read them if they were around… I promise. I would not touch that trash now! I don’t get to read as much as I used to so when I do, I am much more picky. Anyway, the point is, that’s where I first heard the name. And then I follow the blog of a family that adopted their beautiful daughter with Down Syndrome from Russia and they named her Zoya and that’s when I thought… hrmm… we could use that name for our daughter if we have another. One interesting thing to note: we never met a Zoya the entire time we were in Russia.

So deciding between Aria and Zoya was so hard! We liked both names and neither of us felt strongly towards one or the other (unlike Nick with Isla and me with Gemma). We went back and forth for over 24 hours. Nick would convince me to go with Zoya and I would convince him to go with Aria, then we would switch sides! Thank goodness no one was in there with us because they would have been SO annoyed listening to us go back and forth. The main strike against Zoya was that it was too ethnic and maybe too unusual, bordering on weird. Aria was too popular and also, it felt a little weak because of all of the vowels (I felt the same way about Isla originally). In the end. Aria’s popularity was the hurdle that we couldn’t get passed – check out it’s meteoric rise on the name charts, and already a top 50 name! It is destined to be a top 10, and we wanted to avoid that if we could. We are all non conformists in our own ways. If it ever plateaus or loses it popularity and we have another girl, it will be our top choice.


Earlier in the day the name lady had come by to collect Zoya’s name and I had sent her away. She promised to come to us last, but if we didn’t have a name by then, then we would have to come back to the hospital on Tuesday after discharge, which we did not want to have to do. Once we finally decided on Zoya, she came by literally one minute later for our last call and we took that as a sign!

Isla had originally been pushing for the name Kaylinn, after her best friend. It’s a lovely name, but not one that felt right to us. When we decided on Zoya, Nick said “How much do you want to bet that when we tell Isla her name is Zoya, she will say ‘wait, what about Kaylinn?’” When Isla showed up on Saturday evening, we immediately told her Zoya’s name the first words out of her mouth, after a thoughtful pause, were “well that’s way better than Kaylinn!” So we took that as another good sign Smile.

So that is how we named our Zoya and it is growing on us more each day. Thankfully we haven’t received any bad reactions to it, and if she feels it’s too weird when she grows up, she can always use the nickname Zoey, since Zoya is the Russian form of Zoey.

PHEW! So that’s it, I mean that’s a lot, but I’m finally finished. We are always so thankful when the ordeals of naming our kids is over! It definitely ranks high in stress for us!

Pure and Undefiled Religion

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