Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas and school update

I totally forgot to post about Christmas!
It was great!

The kids received lots of toys from Santa and had a blast ripping the paper off the packages. We took video but not any pictures.

Cooper's favorite gift was a ride-on trike that he's still a little too small for.

Kara's favorite, BY FAR, was her baby and stroller.

At school they call her Little Mama.

She doesn't want to nap because she goes around to every child and pats them on the head and at lunchtime she feeds all the other kids! Too funny.

They love her because she helps them push all the chairs in, etc. She's a great little girl.

Cooper still has to be peeled off of me in the mornings while he's screaming but stops as soon as I leave (they have video cameras) and plays great all day. The teacher says he has sweet blood. All of the teachers and kids like him. We're very happy with the school so far.


I am looking forward to the new year and getting back to work and a regular routine.
I thrive on routine and doing "whatever" all day is getting old, if that makes sense. I feel a little lost.


Well I'll leave you with a pic I just took.

It was a little too quiet so I looked over to see them actually lying together on the little sofa watching the Wiggles. Is this not tooooo sweet?




Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Old Pictures

I've been looking at some old pics and thought I'd post some for the fun of it.

Jane and kids outside Pur Navalok Hotel in Arkhangel'sk



This was our suite at the Pur Nav!



Kids eating dinner in our suite


Kara eating something

Jane and kids at a playground in Moscow

The door to our rented apartment in Moscow - padded!

Our rented apartment in Moscow behind the Honda ad

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Keeping hydrated

It's been sort of crazy around here lately - health-wise.
In the last 10 days:
Kara started throwing up for no apparent reason. She would throw up then act totally normal for a few hours - throw up again, normal again. She did have a fever also so I checked with the Doc who said she thought it was just a virus and to keep her hydrated and if her fever spiked, to bring her in. It never did and she didn't eat for 2 days but it's over now.
I (Jane) got (I think) tonsilitis - BAD. My throat hurt so bad and my tonsils were extremely red and inflamed - it looked like part of my tonsil had grown into the side of my throat. Also it was very painful if I pressed on my neck in that area. I had a fever as well - only 100F, but had aches and pains and didn't feel like getting out of bed. This lasted a week and is now over thank goodness. The advice of webmd.com was to rest and keep hydrated.

The day after the tonsilitis seemed to be getting better, I had a surprise pain. I was reading Cooper a book at 8pm and started getting a terrible tummy/side/back pain. By midnight I was doubled over in the bathroom trying not to wake hubby but he did wake up and I'm glad he did. He talked me into going to the ER. I drove myself to the hospital (Jim had to stay home with the kiddos - It was midnight remember). It turns out that I had kidney stones. I would not wish this pain on my worst enemy! The morphene cocktail was wonderful and they let me sleep in a room until 6:30am. Then I got up, went home and Jim went to work... life is normal again, right? I just have to drink more water - keep hydrated.

Kara again. She has the green gunk and LOVES to wipe it all over her face, neck and hair leaving a "There's Something About Mary" look.
Jane again. I have the green gunk and a cough that sounds like I'm a goose with Emphysema.
Cooper now has the green gunk, no cough yet.
Kara had to be brought to the Doc to check out the ulcers on her tongue. It seemed so painful. Doc said it's part of the virus she has/had. Nothing to do except rub Maalox on them a few times a day and keep her hydrated.
Jim has a sore throat now - surprise surprise.
Cooper woke up at 1:30 this morning to throw up all over his bed.
He's fine right now - no fever. Who knows what that was?
The Parent Advice Line for TX Children's says to guess what...Keep him hydrated!
Fritz in the meantime got an eye infection last week and today I had to bring him in because he was shaking and moaning and is prone to pancreatitis.
They did a full blood work up and he's normal and seems to have a back ache. I was surprised to learn that he didn't need to keep hydrated.
This nastiness has made me miss 2 Christmas parties that I really wanted to go to.

2 other exciting things happened around here - It snowed in Houston and the kids started school.

I was telling the kids, look it's snowing! and was very animated and excited. Cooper said, Mom, cold, close door. Kara ignored me. Hmm.

They went to school for a week from 10 - 3. Kara L O V E S it. She waves bye bye to us and goes on about her merry way wanting to join all the other kids. She is excited to see us when we pick her up too.

Cooper has to be peeled off me most of the time while he's screaming - which is very hard for me. They say he's fine after a few minutes.
The other part of the day that's hard for him is when the other parents start picking up their kids and we're not there yet. He gets weepy then too.
Not too much else to report. All is going well in the learning dept.
Cooper can count to 10 now and knows many shapes. Kara is trying to say more words each day.
We're looking forward to a very merry Christmas with our little ones.
Of course I will leave you with some pics. My Santa cookies are ready, Yippee!

C&K playing at the mall playground

Snowing in Houston - a rare event!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Long Time - No Blog

Wow, I can't believe how fast time flies when you're this busy!

The children are doing great. They're getting cuter and smarter every day.

Cooper knows all of the alphabet and colors and we're working on numbers now. His English is improving every day. The Russian is slowly going away (which is a little sad too).

He had some teeth issues that we had to deal with: 4 decayed teeth pulled, 2 root canals and several cavities filled. His baby bridge will be in next week so he'll be good to go until his permanent teeth come in. He was under IV sedation the whole time so he doesn't even remember it.

He's truly a very happy little boy who wants to do nothing but please us.



Kara's attachment is so much better. She kisses and hugs us regularly now and sits on my lap whenever I'm on the floor. She lets us console her when she gets a booboo and lets us love on her without her pushing us away. We've come a long way in a short time!

Her speech still needs work but it's coming along too. Now, instead of saying "bah" for banana, she says "nana" and she points to different things and tries to say them.

Kara's eating has slowed down tremendously. She routinely pushes her food away, saying "kaka" when she doesn't like something - which we're glad for because it's a normal toddler behaviour. And she doesn't HAVE to finish every bite any longer. She is 1 pound heavier than her brother however (who is 16 months older!).



Both kids' blood work came back absolutely normal and they're up-to-date on all of their shots, etc. We were happy to find out that the immunizations that the orphanage in Russia said they had given her were accurate. Our doctor did titers to confirm.

Their Giardia is now all gone as well.



Now they're ready to start school and I'm ready to go back to work.

It's been fun but exhausting and I feel like preschool can teach them a lot more than I can. Since they're at different developmental stages, it's hard to give each child what they really need. For instance, if Cooper and I are practicing writing his ABC's, of course Kara wants to write too but ends up eating the crayons or wanting to write on Coopers page and upsetting him, etc. At least at school, there will be structure and the kids will be in classes with other kids their ages.



Thanksgiving was quiet and nice, just us 4. We had a peaceful traditional turkey dinner that Jim and I prepared.

Santa (or Moroz in Russian) made his presence known at our house after Thanksgiving dinner. Jim went upstairs and put on the Santa outfit, came downstairs yelling ho ho ho - it was not a pretty site to see my son scream at the top of his lungs. Kara just gave him a bizarre look like, Who in the world are you? We calmed him down by showing him that it was actually Papa, and he thought it was hilarious after that. He tried on Papa's Santa wig. When it was all said and done, he said "All done Moroz" - translation: I will not be seeing you again this season!



They also went to their first Christmas Party.

Here are some pics:












Thursday, November 13, 2008

Making Progress - 3 weeks home

Today marks 3 weeks since our babies have been home.
We have seen a lot of progress in this short time.


Cooper knows (most of) his ABCD's - as he calls them. He already knew his colors but now knows the English name for them.
His vocabulary is very good. We recently got a new SUV and all he can talk about is the 'bolshoy machina'. Bolshoy means big and I hear 'bolshoy?' all day long! He loves the new car. Could the DVD player have anything to do with it??!
Food was never an issue with him - he eats until he's full and knows how to ask for more by saying "More yogurt please" or "More milk please" *Most of the time and when prompted.
He still does not like to go down to sleep. Naps are easier because I let him take 1 toy to bed with him and I tell him this is just a malenkie spat (small nap). He will play with his toy for a little while then fall asleep.
Night time is worse. He will ask for a mile if you give him an inch! He's a smart little guy and knows how to manipulate us, or try to!
His attachment is excellent. When he hurts himself, he will cry and run to me to console him. He gives hugs and kisses regularly and really gets excited when Papa comes home from work. He has a great little personality and NEVER stops talking at home but is very shy when someone new comes around. I took them to 'school' today (2nd time) to get acquainted with their teachers and to get their uniforms, backpacks, etc. Cooper was quiet the whole time but was interested in playing with the new toys and did actually venture away from me. We'll go a lot more before they actually begin in January.

Kara is progressing as well. She still only says Mama, Papa and kaka (for trash or dirty diaper) but she babbles a lot more. She tries to say Pamper for diaper but it comes out "pam" - we're getting there. She makes the 'd' sound when pointing to the dogs so I think she gets it, she just needs more practice. I've tried sign language a little bit with her but she turns her head and closes her eyes so I don't think she likes it! Maybe I need to try harder...
The ECI (Early Childhood Intervention) nurse came here to screen her and to see if she would qualify for their services. She did qualify but only because of her speech and the nurse felt it was because of the language change. If after 2-3 weeks, she hasn't improved, we'll sign her up for their services.
Kara's appetite has decreased some but not completely. She still loves to eat but she's actually pushed the plate away a couple of times when she was full and there was still food on it - that was a miracle!
I did find egg in her cheeks a few days ago about 10 minutes after breakfast so we still have work to do in that department.
She used to take around 30 minutes to wind down and fall asleep but now it's down to about 20 or so - depending on the excitement of the day.
Her attachment is getting better. At school today, she would go over to see some kids then run back to me for a hug then back to the kids, etc.
She stayed for the morning snack and kept looking for me and laughing when she saw me. Also, I've noticed that she offers us some of her food often now.
Both kids turned out to have Giardia and now Fritz has it so they're all on antibiotics.
I took them to the dentist yesterday and Cooper will need some work but that won't be until January. The kids loved their new dentist, he and the entire staff was excellent with the kids.
We have a lot going on around here but it's all working out.
The kids are great, they love the dogs - they even love Mia although Mia is terrified of them.
Of course, here are some pics...
Kara enjoying a container of ketchup at her first trip to McDonald's
Kara at home just being her happy little self
Cooper on the playground at his first trip to McDonald's


Kara and Cooper crammed into my old BMW

Kara and Cooper ready for school showing off their new backpacks

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Lesson Learned

I cannot put my girl down for a nap without a diaper cover or she will take everything off.
I thought it was cute until I realized that she'd peed all over the entire bed.






Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Happy Birthday Kara! (and sorry)

To our darling little girl.
We have only known you for a short time and are already in love with you.
You are our little drama queen, our love, our Miss Independent and our baby. You have the best personality - very outgoing and you make the most expressive faces! We laugh at you constantly. We couldn't imagine living without either of you.
You turned 2 years old yesterday and boy what a day it was!
We had your favorite breakfast, oatmeal, a banana, yogurt, apple sauce and milk (YES, she eats it all!). We went to the park and played for awhile then went to see Papa at work. After an early lunch, we napped then awoke to the bad news... we had your first Doctor's appointment.
We met Papa at Texas Children's Hospital Pediatric Department for International Adoption and were measured, weighed, received two shots in your chubby little legs and had 6 1/2 vials of blood taken for tests.
You and your brother did very well though.
By the time we got home, all the drama was forgotten and we were able to celebrate your birthday with chocolate cupcakes with blue icing! YUM!
I'm sorry your birthday had to include your Doctor's appointment, but it couldn't be helped. We're thankful that the wonderful Doctors are available to help you and your brother become healthy little people!
Halloween was fun for them - Kara was Elmo and Cooper was a police officer. He was hilarious - when we took out the costume, he put it on in a hurry and patted his chest saying "Militia!". They LOVED dressing up and seeing all of the other kids in costumes. They especially liked the sabaki (dogs) that dressed up. We walked in a parade that goes down one street in our subdivision and they were in awe at that.
Here are some pics of the last few days:

Cooper - Militia Man
Kara - Hi I'm Elmo (I don't really know who that is yet, but I'm him!)
Kara and Cooper checking out their haul

Kara - Is this all I'm getting?

Cooper sharing a cupcake with his giraffe

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Food - 1 week home

Even though this blog is supposed to follow the journey of our adoption and that is essentially over, I'll continue it for a while so I can keep a journal of the kid's lives immediately after adoption.

Back to the subject: Food.

Cooper aka Nikita:
He's a little picky but generally eats well. He plays with his food often.
He does NOT like chicken, peas nor carrots and will separate them into a napkin, wad it up and give it to us saying kaka.

He loves yogurt, milk, mac & cheese and especially jam.

Kara:
She will eat any and every thing known to man, including dog food.
The first day we were home, we were feeding the dogs their dinner and she started screaming crying and pointing to Fritz's food dish. She walked over to it, shooed him away and grabbed a handful for herself! Of course we didn't let her eat it but she absolutely would have. She definitely has a strong survival instinct.
She has since realized that dog food is for dogs and her food will come to her when she's in her high chair (which she LOVES!).
Kara has a little food issue where she screams when you take her bib off if every morsel on her plate is not eaten. She's getting better. In Russia, we would have to hand feed her so that she didn't stuff everything in her mouth at once. Now we hand feed her occasionally for attachment but she can eat by herself calmly and without any problems.

Nap time is almost over so gotta run - here are some pics:
















Monday, October 27, 2008

We're alive!

We made it - we're home, happy and healthy - well fairly healthy. Both of the kids have colds and lots of green gunk but I guess that comes with the territory. We got home Thurday the 23rd at around 3 pm. The flight was not so fun - as you can imagine, traveling with a 2 and 3 year old on a 12 1/2 hour flight was just as bad as it sounds. Cooper slept maybe 3 hours and Kara slept about 1 and cried for 5... or at least it seemed like it.

I think we may actually be on a schedule of some sort but it's too early to tell. The jet lag is finally starting to go away.

They eat and sleep well. 2 out of 3 of the dogs like them - we're still working on Mia, she'll come around.

All is going pretty much like it's supposed to so I'll leave you with some very random pics.
Kara sleeping on the plane
This boy LOVES hats!

A couple of pics at the airport on the way home.




Thursday, October 16, 2008

We're Parents!

It's official, we are parents of Cooper Nikita and Kara Iraida!

We were approved by the Russian Federation to parent these gorgeous little children AND our 10 day waiting period was waived!

We are to stay in Arkhangel'sk until Monday then we'll go to Moscow where we'll do embassy paperwork then we'll head home.

The babies are wonderful and fun and WILD! We're all getting to know each other and it's truly amazing how smart these munchkins are. They copy everything we do and Cooper is trying to say our English words already. It's all good and fun.
Here are some pictures that we can finally post!
Please ignore the lovely orphanage buzz cut with bangs on my son!














Friday, October 10, 2008

Farewell!

This is my last post in the good ole USA as a non parent!
We leave tomorrow evening and will spend the night in Moscow.
On Monday we'll fly to Ark then Wednesday is court day.
I really don't know the schedule after that except that we'll get the kids and life as we know it will change forever... and we're so looking forward to it!

I'll post again when I can - maybe Ark depending on how busy we are.

Wish us luck with court!

Oh, congratulations FINALLY to Jeff and Jenny - they had court yesterday and got custody of their two precious little girls today!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Tagged and Court Date!

My blogger friends Joy and Meghan have tagged me... lucky me... ha!
So I need to tell you 6 random things about myself.
Ok, here it goes:

1- I had a dog named David when I was growing up. He was named after David Cassidy who I was totally in love with, at 3.

2- I am a total neat freak and go crazy when things are not where they're supposed to be. Everything has a place and must be organized. (I may have to relax a little on this with 2 toddlers in the house...)

3- When I was a little girl and someone would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I'd always say "a mommy".

4- I LOVE hand-me-down clothes. Weird I know.

5- My childhood friend, Laura and I use to make up dances and perform in front of our parents. We also made up our own language. And David tore off her toenail once...yuck! Weird memories!

6- This is the best random thing about me: We received our court date so I will officially be a mommy on Oct. 15! Yay!!!

I'm not going to tag anyone else because I don't have the energy or time!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Nothing new...

Just writing to say there's nothing to write about...
No adoption news.
The trash is STILL in our front yard looking very ugly.
I love my new laptop.
I miss the kids so much and look at their pictures and videos everyday.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

What do you think?

Taking a poll:

Do you think the trash men will pick up ALL of this?


I'm having a hard time believing it but Jim says SURE!
They haven't even been around in an entire week! It's starting to look like a jungle around here.
Good news though, we got our cable, phone and internet back today!
PS: my birthday was Saturday and my dear hubby got me a FABULOUS Dell Latitude D630 Laptop... oh la la... now if I can just figure out how to use it!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

AOK!

Hi Everyone-
Thanks for your sweet thoughts and concerns about us. We're great!

I'm back at work now - time to rest!
We didn't have power for 2 1/2 days but Jim bought a generator on the 2nd day to keep our fridge and freezer cold as well as plugging in our cell phones. The cell phone thing didn't matter though because most of the towers were down and it was nearly impossible to get through to anyone. We lost 2 trees and a few shingles off the roof and there was a bunch of debris and trash everywhere but we made out very well compared to others who had trees fall on their homes or cars - or those in Galveston who lost everything.

Picture this:
Me in 60F weather, donning goggles and a t-shirt + shorts, diving into the pool with a fishing net, scooping up the foot-deep leaves at the bottom of the pool! It took HOURS to clean the pool but is now sparkling! I was shivering it was so cold.
A lot of people are still without power, my next door neighbor included. They say about 50% will be restored in Houston by 9/23. We are so fortunate.

Thanks again for the nice comments and good wishes sent our way.

At least this was a distraction from my never-ending adoption thoughts!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hunker Down!

This phrase always cracks me up - I had to look it up to make sure it was actually in the dictionary and it is. Texans and Geraldo Rivera say this a LOT!

It's not exactly what we're doing (crouching, squatting) but we are getting ready to greet hurricane Ike tonight. We're far enough inland that we should only get Cat. 1 force winds - 80MPH, maybe a few trees down, power outages, etc. but it's definitely not a life or death situation like those in Galveston.

I grew up in New Orleans so I'm desensitized to hurricanes but my hubby grew up in the tiny town of Bark River, Michigan so this will be his first hurricane.

So, he's been working feverishly all day cutting plywood...again (we used our Hurricane Rita plywood left overs to lay the attic) and this is what the front looks like: An abandoned home! Both our neighbors next to us are boarded up too and now we are going to HUNKER DOWN!
Wish us luck!


Saturday, September 6, 2008

Top 10 Tips - Good info

I've been collecting sites, lists, blogs etc. since we started this process in Dec. 06. Whenever I come across something of interest, I save it to my favorites. Well, my favorites list is huge and overflowing! I've been slowing going through them, deleting what I don't need any longer and rediscovering some others.
I came across one that I really liked and I felt the need to post - just in case someone can use it.
The title is "Top Ten Tips for the First Year of Placement" by Deborah Gray, MSW, MPA.

Here's the link: Top Ten Tips for the First Year of Placement

If anyone out there has any other suggestions of things they've tried and worked (or not), please...share!

Oh, and I want to thank Megan in Washington for the wonderful fleece suit and rubber pants!
We are both members of the Yahoo Group: Snowsuit Swap - it's for people who are adopting and need a snowsuit for just one trip. If you have one, you send it to whoever needs it and they just pay for shipping - Megan refused to let me pay! SO SWEET. Thank you Megan!!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Anxious

I have to say, the first month after traveling to Russia has been pretty quick because we were so busy.

We now have beds, bedding, dressers, bookshelves, car seats, a high-chair, a booster seat, growth charts, toys, books, clothes, shoes, diapers, bath stuff, diapering stuff, decorations for the walls, stuffed animals, blocks, closets set up, garage rearranged to add trikes, strollers, etc., baby-proofed the entire house and garage, we have little kid plates, utensils, bowls, cups, CD’s, DVD’s.…everything you can think of that two toddlers will need – (Hopefully!)
We have confirmed their preschool.
We have confirmed their doctor/dentist.
We’re both caught up at work.
All of our documents are in order, copied, notarized, apostilled and sent to Russia.
Nothing is expiring any time soon.
We even have snowsuits for the kids (just in case we need them).

It’s been 5 weeks now and we’ve been ok.

Until now.

I’m feeling so anxious to see them and hold them and let them know that we will always be there for them, forever.
I can’t wait to see those smiles and feel those little warm, sweet hugs. I’m about to jump out of my skin.
I’ve been listening to a nursery rhyme CD in my car in the mornings – I’m going bananas!!

What else can we do to make the time pass by faster?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Baby Shower!

We have such an unbelievable group of friends!
Cathy, Ermy and Isabel threw me a baby shower Friday night and it was beyond FABULOUS!!! There were about 35 of us girlies and we had so much fun.

It was the first baby shower for them where the mom could have a glass of wine!
It was held at Hotel Granduca and was so elegant and chic and the room was simply exquisite. The ladies did a wonderful job of decorating and making everything so festive.

Our kiddos will have so many things to play with, learn from and stimulate their senses – we’re so fortunate to have the support of all these amazing friends and family.

Jim even got a great gift!! Check it out below.

Thank you EVERYONE for making my shower unforgettable!

Here are a few pics-




Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Remembering Things

There's a funny little story about some food that I forgot to write about...

Our travel partners, Emily and Ben were with us for lunch one day in Kotlas and told us about their breakfast that morning. (We had slept in).
Emily thought she ordered scrambled eggs and sausage but what she received a hard-boiled egg on a plate, cut in half, with mayonnaise spread all over the top of it and a slice of fried bologna on the side. We were cracking up at that while we were waiting for our lunch to be served.

Well, when Emily's plate was ready, she picked it up at the counter and came back to the table and sat down. I was like, hmmmm, Em, like pickles do ya? Her plate was 1/2 filled with little gerkin pickles. That was her 'cucumber salad' that she had ordered!

Oh, the joys of International travel!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Practicing

So what have we been doing since we've been back in town?

Why, practicing of course!


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Miss Priss and Mr. Heart-throb

Wow, where do I start? It's been the most remarkable week of our lives, 2 days specifically.
The flight to Kotlas was a little scary. We were on Aeroflot North on this plane: (Note the dark clouds in the background).


We flew through a horrible thunderstorm that wiped out many trees in Kotlas - it looked like a small tornado had hit.





AAI put us in a very nice suite in a Kotlas hotel. The day after we arrived, our driver, Dimitry (AAI Rep) and another couple went to the orphanage which was about 10 minutes away. We were in a large play area that had a lot of toys for the children.
When it was our turn to see our two little angels (Miss Priss and Mr. Heart-throb) they came in very slowly and tentatively. Miss Priss was smiling the whole time but Mr. Heart-throb was very shy...at first. He wouldn't even look at us but neither of them cried. We played for awhile and after about 2 hours or so, Miss Priss was calling Jim Papa and Mr. Heart-throb was happily building a structure with us and laughing a lot. The baby home was immaculate, organized, had many toys for the children and they obviously care for them very much. It was an amazing place considering there are over 80 children there.
We were able to play with the kids from 9am-12pm and then from 3pm-5pm. When it was time for us to go, Mr. Heart-throb got very serious again and was gripping me tightly as I held him. It was quite sad and we promised that we would be back tomorrow (It's good to know some basic phrases in Russian for reassuring toddlers). The Priss pranced out with that never-ending smile of hers. (She had on some squeaky shoes that squeaked when she walked - it was hilarious!).
Day 2: We got to the baby home at 9am. This time when there were brought in, the Heart-throb ran up to Jim and hugged him and laughed - it was such a touching moment (and we got it on video!). We played again for awhile and the Heart-throb came completely out of his shell. We had him laughing so hard! We played an impromptu game of counting to 3 and then he would run into my arms and I would scoop him up and hug and kiss him + twirl him around. He'd get down and run to the other side of the room and do it over and over. The Priss just layed down on her Papa's lap and laughed at us - she is an extremely happy and content baby.
It was time for the Doc we hired from St. Petersburg (Dr. Sofia) to examine them. She had been watching us play and asked the Heart-throb some questions (like where's the big truck, where's the small truck, etc. to see how much he knew). He answered and obviously understands Russian very well. She said they are both "very clever" - we were so proud of them! They were visibly unhappy about being examined but still no tears were shed.

After lunch/naptime, we visited with the baby home director and the babyhome doctor and our Dr. Sofia to discuss the medical and social history of the kids. The kids were little champs, they sat still in our laps and played quietly the entire visit (about 1 hour) in a VERY HOT office.

It was then time to make our decision and we said YES! We feel extremely lucky to have these two in our lives. We signed all of our paperwork and then it was time for the hard part - saying goodbye for awhile.

Our last vision of them is the Baby Home Director holding the Heart-throb's hand and he is holding the Little Priss' hand walking away from us. They kept looking back at us smiling.

I'm so sad just typing this. Hopefully, we won't have to wait too long for court.
We flew back to Moscow through Arkhangel'sk for 2 days of R+R. We did the usual touristy things, St. Basil's Cathedral, the Kremlin, Lenin's tomb, Red Square and of course TGI Fridays!

All of the restaurants, hotels and the apartment we stayed in were absolutely wonderful.
AAI took COMPLETE care of us while we were in Russia. We never felt anything other than cared for the entire visit.

We took 6 flights in 7 days (and 2 of them 11+ hours) - we're ready to stay on the ground for a few days - oh, an shop for the munchkins!!!

Here's the inevitable 'teaser' picture of brother and sister holding hands:



Monday, July 21, 2008

We're in Arkhangel'sk!

We're almost there. The 11 hour flight was great - we slept for about 5 hours (thanks to Tylenol PM!) -that really made the time fly.
We got to Moscow around 8:00 pm and at our hotel and in to bed around midnight. We flew on Aeroflot to Ark this morning and are now waiting for our flight to Kotlas. I've heard horror stories about Aeroflot but can honestly say, it was a very nice flight. (Jim is in love with the women over here - they're BEAUTIFUL!!). Don't worry, I'm keeping him on a short leash!

Tomorrow we will meet the children!! We're so excited! Our rep in Russia, Dimitry, showed us more pics of the kids and they really are truly beautiful.

Hopefully we'll get to post again before the end of the trip but we're going to such a remote area, we don't know if they will have accomodations.

Will write again when we can -
Paka!
Jane & Jim

Friday, July 18, 2008

Feeling the love

I just have to say that I feel so overwhelmingly lucky to have so many great friends out there.
Every once in awhile I will read a blog that says someone is not approving of their adoption. I'm like, huh? what? I have to read it twice. It doesn't make sense to me.
We have not come across that at all since we started this. As a matter of fact, everyone has been so supportive and remarkably kind to us.

Before we take off (in about 27 hours!), I just wanted to let all of you know, from the depths of my heart, how truly thankful I am to have you in my life.
It's truly amazing how many people really care.

Thank you and I'll try to write a post whilst we're there - if not, talk to you in a week!
j+j

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Packing

So we're basically packed. Since we're flying Singapore Air from Houston to Moscow then Aeroflot Nord the rest of the way, we had to look up each of their rules and pack based on the lightest limit. Aeroflot's carry-on weight limit is 10 lbs. and their checked baggage limit is 44 lbs. I really didn't think we'd make it but we're about 5 lbs. shy in each bag. We each have carry-ons under the limit too. Hopefully none of our bags will be lost but just in case, we've mixed our clothes in both suitcases. (I used to work for TWA, Continental and PanAm so I know the drill by now and I've heard horror stories).

While we were getting the luggage organized, our oldest four-legged son Fritz decided to help. Check him out - he's such a great little helper...heehee!

Countdown - we leave in 6 days!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Anticipation

We're doing great - working, gathering things here and there for the trip...

  • Our bag is packed for the orphanage with toys, vitamins, stuffed animals, clothes for the munchkins to try on, questions for the caregivers, paper, crayons, markers, bubbles, beach ball, foot measuring chart and the photo books. It's really heavy!!
  • We've painted their bedroom a really pretty, calming blue called Prairie Sky. I'm soooo looking forward to decorating it.
  • Today will be a clothes shopping day - we'll figure out exactly what we'll wear and what we need to buy.
  • The airfare is purchased. We're very fortunate to be on a non-stop from Houston to Moscow- an 11 1/2 hour flight.
  • The house/dog/bird-sitter is in place (thanks Jeanette!)
  • The hotels are reserved.
  • The Visas have been applied for - should be receiving them next week.
  • Our rides to/from the airport are set (thanks Olga and Ira!)
  • I've had to update a couple of docs: Our Psych. Eval. Doc's license expired so I had to get a new copy of it, have it notarized and apostilled. Our I171H doc expires in July so we had to be re-fingerprinted and I'm still waiting on that approval doc. This is the only thing I'm a little bit nervous about. Also, since we're registered in Tyumen and Ark, I had to write a letter saying that we want to have our dossier removed from Tyumen (so that another family can get registered there). This, of course, has to be notarized and apostilled.
  • The 2nd portion of our dossier is due within 2 weeks of us getting back from trip 1. It's completely together and notarized and so I'll go have all of these docs apostilled next week.

We had a great 4th of July with our friends Olga and Ira. Hope all of you had a great one too!

In two weeks we'll be on a plane to Russia. YAY!!!

Oh, and the CD is great! I've now learned/memorized how to say don't cry, it's ok, you are so handsome/beautiful, you are so smart and a bunch of colors! It's pretty cool -

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Referral - AGAIN - Back to 2 kiddies!

We received a referral for 2 little angels in the Kotlas area of Arkhangel'sk!
We got the referral last Thursday and haven't posted anything about it because we wanted to wait until we had travel dates (we didn't want to jinx it!).

It's a boy and a girl - we're sooooo excited!! Can this dream be real?? After a year and a half of being paper pregnant, we finally get to see the ultrasound, live!
We leave on July 19 and return July 26.

We can't wait to meet these little munchkins - Oh my gosh, we leave in 3 weeks!!

Please keep us in your prayers as we take this whirlwind trip. Thanks!
Woooooooooooo Hooooooooooooooo!!!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Nightmare

I had a nightmare last night.
Me and my new kiddo, a little boy about 3 years old (cute as can be, by the way) were alone in the kitchen just staring at each other not knowing what to say because neither of us knew each other's language. It was very quiet in the house!

Could this possibly happen?!!! NAHHHH

I need to start learning Russian ASAP!
I've ordered this CD: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000AV4PZA and am dying to know how it is.
I have another CD that I've been using for about a year and a half but it's not for talking to toddlers. I think it's taught me quite a bit though.

I know the basics: counting, hi, bye, how are you, what's your name?, my name is Jane, milk, dog, thank you, you're welcome, I love you, I understand, I don't understand, yes, no, Mrs., Mr., etc.
I can also sound out the alphabet (transliterate).

I'm have a L O N G way to go!
I'll let you know how the new CD is.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Lost Referral

Sorry I've been away for so long - we were waiting for our travel dates then found out that the birth mother has had her parental rights reinstated... which is great for the kids (if she can take care of them) but sad for us. Thank goodness we had not bought our tickets and VISAs yet!
I'm also glad that this happened before we traveled instead of between trips.

We're really ok though.

There are thousands of children in Russia that need homes and we're still ready and able to give one of them a loving place to grow up.
We have decided to adopt one child at this time since waiting for two takes such a long time and we've been at this for a year and a half now.

Having to be flexible is the understatement of the year in the IA process.

So we continue to wait - again.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Busy Week!

No travel dates yet, but they should be coming soon.
We had to be re-registered from Tyumen to Arkhangelsk so that’s what’s taking so long.

So what have we done this week?
-Got the new money for our trip
-Had our medicals done again (they had expired)
-Had our USCIS fingerprints taken again (they are going to expire in July)
-Had our FBI fingerprints taken (region specific requirement)
-Requested accountant’s new license and Jim’s proof of income

All this in addition to both working full time, my car getting new brakes, Jim buying a new car and us celebrating our 7th wedding anniversary!
Whew – I’m so ready for this 3 day weekend!

Have a safe and fun Memorial Day everyone!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

How cool is this?

My friend Teri brought me a kid's meal toy from Chick-fil-A that they were going to toss because, well, they just don't need anymore toys.
But this isn't just any kids meal toy, it's a CD that teaches kids a language.
And this isn't just any language, it's teaching Russian!

I just finished listening to it and it's pretty good, a little fast, but still informative and definitely better than the average kid's meal toy.
There are also CD's in Chinese, Italian and Spanish.

So props to you Chick-fil-A for doing this!
And as my friend Isabel says, their chicken nuggets are like "tiny bits of gold"!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Thursday started out just like any other day...

and then we received 'THE CALL' - We got our referral!!
We don't have travel dates yet but in about 3-4 weeks we'll be on our way to Arkhangelsk to meet 2 little ones!
What happened to Tyumen?? Well, there's a baby home in Ark that has 2 kiddos available that match us so we will be re-registered there in the next couple of days.
It's been a whirlwind few days since getting the call - now it's back to hurry up and get that paperwork done AGAIN. Most of our docs have expired so it's back to the paperchase for the 2nd half of our dossier. No worries though, did it once, can do it again.

We just met Susan, Artem and Susan's SIL Amy for dinner - it was great fun!
Artem is just the cutest little man and wow, what an appetite! He truly doesn't stop eating -
His personality is just as sweet as can be and we really enjoyed our visit - thanks for meeting us Susan!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

At least someone got their babies

Sweet baby birds in the Crepe Myrtle in front of our house...


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Truly International

I was in a meeting this morning for work and there were 11 of us total. I was the only U.S. born person there. 3 from Mexico, 3 from France, 3 from Italy, 1 from Bosnia, 1 from Japan and me. That’s the beautiful thing about America – it’s made up of all of these diverse people who make it what it is, culturally unique.

I’m proud to be bringing 2 Russians to this wonderful country where they will have the opportunity to be a CEO or a Doctor or a musician or whatever in the world they want to do.
My mom always drilled it into my head that I could truly be anything I wanted to be, I just had to want it bad enough.

We can say that in this country and really mean it.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Kids Rooms

Well, hubby finally let me go to town on the kids rooms (I guess he's starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel!).

Here are some pics of the play room which is finished except for a couple of chairs for the munchkins to sit on for TV watching. I tried to make it appropriate for any kids 1-4 years old.


















I would love your help on this:

I love this room (taken from Tip Junkie) but Jim hates it. I'm trying to find something we can agree on and it's so hard! I did a quick mock-up of the colors I'd like to use and it seriously looks like the kids will think they joined the circus!




Any ideas on something in between?


















Stef thought the whole thing was boring.