Thursday, December 31, 2009

Moscow to Mobile. The Last Leg.

By now most of you know that we made it home.

Some of my loyal blog readers, though, have not heard from me and are wondering what happened from the last post onward. I apologize to all of you. I knew I would be able to blog regularly while I was overseas, and that it would be therapeutic since I am used to daily work. Since I returned and have been besieged by the daily minutiae of daily life, practice, and opening the third location for our practice, my reality is that I must work much harder to fit in a post now and again.

I do really enjoy writing, and I especially enjoy each of you who shares a comment or an observation. I thrive on feedback(particularly positive feedback), so keep responding, and I will, like a well trained dog, keep posting our  adventures in parent hood from time to time. Now on to the show....

The second day in Moscow gave us a full day off. Nothing to do. Leanna volunteered to keep sick baby Anya in the hotel and allow Cameron and I to sight see a little bit. We got bundled up after lunch and left the hotel on foot. The Kremlin and Red Square was only about four blocks from  the hotel so we headed there and looked about. I took some typical tourist photos and tried to keep Cameron entertained. He was much more impressed with the big stacks of snow piled everywhere than the impressive buildings and the seat of Russian political might and tsarist power for the past several centuries. Hmmmm. To each his own. I enjoyed seeing the Kremlin, St. Basil's cathedral, and Stalin's tomb. He enjoyed watching the Christmas decorations being put up, the skating rink, and window shopping in the huge malls surrounding the area.

We were on a mission though. Leanna had given us a list of souvenirs to buy for people. We had been stuck in our hotel for the entire time in Vlad, and had not been able to stray too far without using a driver. We weren't interested in trying to do that in the snarl of snow packed traffic that was Vlad, so here we were, down to our last couple of days, and no treats for all the many people at home who had helped us make this possible. We had been directed by Val, to a particular area just off Red Square that has kiosks for the vendors to sell Russian dolls, hats, treats, toys, and other ethnic baubles. We found the area we had been seeking and cam and I spent the next couple of hours picking through the stands and finding the very best Matrushka dolls and other items to take back home. Nearly frozen, we stopped for a hot chocolate before going back to the room for the night.

The next day was Leannas turn. Anya was on the mend from the antibiotics so she and I stayed behind while she and /Cam went back and retraced the steps we had taken. They bought some more goodies, and looked around some more ,and generally unwound from the ordeals of the flight in to Moscow.

We had to be ready to go to the American Embassy at two. We had an interview scheduled there for Anya to receive her visa to gain entry into the US. The trip was not long, twenty minutes tops. The embassy is a very official looking building guarded by walls of stone and many guards. There were three checkpoints we had to go through in order to go to the office we sought. There we were seated with around fifteen other families with their adoptive children also scheduled for interviews. Luckily, we were called first. After just a couple questions we got word that we would get our visa. EXCEPT, the computers were out that after noon, so we had to come back tomorrow to get our visa and Her passport back, along with a sheaf of documents we had to provide to the immigration people when we landed in the states.
OK. Thats fine. Except that we were flying out the next day to go home. They said to be there at nine the next morning and check again. Usually the computers come back online overnight they said, hopefully. We were not hopeful. We were exhausted by yet another down to the minute, will this work out, will we be able tom leave on time, experience.

A restless night trying to sleep, trying to get packed , trying to comfort Anya with her stuffy nose and jet lagged little body. Zzzzzz.

We woke very early, got packed up, got down to the lobby, and got all our bags into the car. Our driver Nick, got us over to the embassy and  went back through all the checkpoints and finally got THE last piece of paper keeping us from bringing our little girl home! It was a great feeling and we piled into the car and drove an hour to the airport. We got checked in after suffering what i hope will be our last queue-less shuffle to board the plane, and we found our seats. This was a Lufthansa flight into Frankfurt, Germany. German, not Russian, so the airline staff and food was a little more like home. When we were about to land I noticed that we might be a little tight on our connection to our United flight to Washington, so I mentally prepared Leanna and Cameron for a fight to get to the gate. We were the last off the flight, again. We had t o walk two concourses to our next gate. These were not small concourses. There were no moving sidewalks. This was like a death march with two youngsters, seven, count em, seven different carry on bags, and winter coats and sweaters for all of us.

We arrived just in the nick of time. They were boarding the last of the passengers. We had not even gotten boarding passes yet. We got to the line, gave them our tickets, and looked hopefully at the gate agent. She blew a puff of air out, muttered something in German, typed a little, asked someone next to her for help., rolled her eyes, typed furiously again, and this continued for about five minutes. Anya was screaming, Cameron was pouting Leanna was red faced, and I had drops of sweat pouring down my brow and onto my face from carrying all the crap and forcing my family into a double time march just to be hassled at the gate for our flight into lady libertys open arms.

After much typing and German speaking, we were allowed on the plane, dead last again. It was at this point I found out that they hadn't given us seats together.

I am not proud of what happened next, and I realize now that I am lucky I was not arrested for what i said to the gate agent on the plane and the purser in charge of the attendants on the plane. Especially in light of what happened on the flight from Amsterdam the very next day. Lets just say I made known my feelings, frustrations and expectations in no uncertain terms. After a few more minutes, we were allowed to seat together, and I am forever thankful to Mike, the purser on United Airlines Flight 933, for not punching me in the face.

We made it to Washington, DC. As soon as the planes wheels touched down, Anya became an American citizen. We were herded through passport control, and had to detour number one, because our bags did not make it to our flight, and n umber tow because we had to go through some special office to submit our dossier of paper to immigration for Anya. They were all very friendly, and it being Christmas eve, made getting all this accomplished much easier. Next we had to get on our flight to New Orleans, which must've been pretty easy, since I don't remember anything about it.

Oh wait, Yes I do. We went tour gate and I  talked to the gate agent. Every one was asking about Anya. We probably were quite a sight. I know I have felt for the traveling families I have encountered in my travels in the past. Any way we told her our story, adopted child, traveling from Moscow, our near missed connections, and our lost luggage. She was nice enough to upgrade us to first class, which Cameron thought was absolutely the coolest thing. Luckily Anya slept some and the flight touched down at 12:05 AM Christmas day. We got tour hotel in New Orleans and checked in, and had a feast of snacks and drinks purchased from the vending machine in the lobby because all the restaurants were closed, it being Christmas morning. We dropped off to sleep, just grateful to be back in the US, and off of planes for a good long time.

I will update from there later. Goodnight and Happy Holidays.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Moscow Girls...

Two Moscow girls to be exact.... Momma and Leanna! We made it this far. It was without a doubt our worst airplane experience ever. Transaero, our Russian carrier, must be the equivalent of our Airtran or some other discount airline. Everything about it was subpar. Compounding things, and clouding our impressions I'm sure, was the fact that Anya was absolutely inconsolable for the first four hours of the nine hour flight. Leanna had said that the flight back home was going to be the substitute for a prolonged difficult labor of having a child by birth. That was proven to  be only too true.

We got our passport, and the medical exam without a hitch, so we were psyched when we got to the airport. We said a tearful good bye to Oksana, who has been an absolute godsend to us, and we boarded our plane. One observation about Russians is this- They do not queue up for anything, not in traffic, not in stores, and certainly not when they announce the boarding of a plane. Any circumstance in which several people are expected to pass through one point, it is always a bum rush to be first. no matter what, or whom you trample to get there. Kind of like playing chicken with everyone you meet in any circumstance.

Let me paint a picture. Leanna, Cameron, Anya and I each had two carryons a piece, if you count the diaper bag and stroller we were carrying for Anya. This means that each of us adults had at least three things to carry, and Cameron had his backpack and roll on. Plus a Baby in my arms. Did we get any help or special consideration for this?? Not a bit. We had to jostle and shoulder our way to the gate attendant, and then manage two sets of stairs, then a bus ride out to board the plane, then another clot of people to maneuver through to climb yet another set of stairs to get on the plane. Not one person offered to help us at any point of this fiasco. Maybe I'm a little bitter here, but I sure miss a little bit of southern hospitality right about now. And you can only imagine how Leanna took all this......

Anyway, we all survived the trip and met Val, who is our Moscow liaison. He is very good at what he does and has a marvelous personality as well. He made us all feel better right away. We passed through the Moscow airport, and each of us shuddered a little when we saw the places we had spent time during our eighteen hour layover there on the way into the country. We had an hour and a half drive into the city, but both kids were asleep and Val kept us entertained by answering all our questions about Moscow.

When we got to our hotel, we checked in and Val and I went over the paper work that he would submit to the American Embassy on our behalf in order to get Anya a visa as a permanent emigrant to the good ol' US of A. That went smoothly, then we got tour room, which is a wonderful, western style room in the courtyard Marriott. We look out our window and get to see the spires of the Kremlin, which is only blocks away. Lots of good steady hot water, high count linens on a king sized bed, and a minibar that provided us much needed snacks after what turned out to be another twenty four hour stretch for Leanna and I to be awake.

The sleep was rejuvenative, and everyone awoke to a better mood and feeling better, including Anya. Hopefully the antibiotics are kicking in. We are about to go get breakfast in the lobby, and then decide how we will spend today and tonight. We meet Val again tomorrow for an interview at the consulate, then hopefully we will have the all important document that will allow Anya into the US.

No photos were taken yesterday. I don't think any of us wanted to remember any part of yesterday in the future. Maybe we'll take some today and get another post in be fore our departure Christmas eve.

Best to you all.

Monday, December 21, 2009

It ain't over til its over.

It's Monday 730 AM. It has been touch and go for the last twenty hours or so. Last afternoon, Anya woke with a 102 fever, and was feeling terrible. We dosed her up with tylenol and called oksana. She started trying to get in touch with a doctor. Reaching them on Sunday in Russia is no easier than in the states.
We filled Anya up with liquids and tried to keep her comfortable. Eventually her fever came down some, and Oksana called back and still hadn't been called back. We were trying to figure out what to do if she was too sick to travel. 
After dinner, oksana called and said she had reached a doctor and they had prescribed some antibiotics and some decongestant. A driver came out and dropped us off the drugs, and we kept doctoring Anya as we packed our bags and hoped for the best.
She awoke this morning with a much reduced fever, and we are going to go for it, unless the doctor we see this morning says otherwise. then its off to the pass port office to get her pass port, then to the airport just in time for our flight.
It's just amazing how much of this is like wait, then hurry up, then wait some more, then hurry up again. It sort of reminds me of how some one once described sailing as "hours of absolute boredom interspersed with moments of intense activity."
Thats been us for the last several weeks. I've had a good time and a great adventure, but I won't miss the up and down stresses.
We are going now to breakfast to say goodbye to the many friends we have made over the last three weeks. Wish us luck today and tonight and we'll update as soon as possible.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Yesterday was kind of a wash. Anya woke up congested, so our plans changed dramatically. We were going to go out souvenir shopping, and purchase last minutes items for the flight to Moscow, but instead stayed home trying to figure out what was up with Anya. No fever, just congestion, and it went away mostly when she got up and moved around. Probably just a cold. New surroundings, lots of kids and new people to be around probably did her in.

We talked to Oksana, and she picked up the necessities we asked for, and brought some sort of Russian herbal tea to help with her congestion. The rest of the day we just sat around the room and tried to entertain ourselves. Cameron borrowed some play doh from Colin and Jamie, so he was busy creating creatures all day.

Our biggest concern right now is managing Anya on the 9 hour flight to Moscow on Monday. Particularly with getting her to sleep on the plane. She does not like any one to touch her, let alone hold her, while she is going through her pre-sleep rocking ritual. Seems to just piss her off when we do. But on the plane she will be in our arms the whole time. I know, I know, you experienced mothers and fathers out there are already thinking to yourself, "just drug the little bugger, and she'll sleep like a baby."   WRONG. We tried that on a trial basis for the last two days, and all benedryl does is make her more restless and uncomfortable. Cameron was the same way. So we will just have to grit our teeth and try to push through. I'm thinking of just handing out money to all the people seated around us and tell them to either buy themselves a drink, or stuff it in their ears...

Today its been snowing off and on, but nothing like what I hear is happening in the states. There are fewer and fewer families here. Should be just two or three here over the christmas holiday. There was a new couple that just checked in today from Wisconsin making their first trip. They are both teachers, and no kids, so the holiday break worked well for them.

We are a little apprehensive about packing and traveling again. The last two weeks have been such a cocoon from the outside world. Now we have to go forth and conquer the travel world again, and that causes a little concern. I always freeak out the last couple of days of a trip anyway, because I project forward to what will be waiting for me when I get home. My neighbors and friends have been wonderful helping with our pets, and caring for our home, and my staff and partners are I'm sure managing the business just fine, but there is still in the pit of my stomach, some dread of what the "real world" holds for us when we return.

Anya is a great kid, and she completes the family for us, so we are blessed, and any challenges we are faced with will be managed, so I really will try to take it all in and ejoy the "now" as best as I can.

Here are Anya and Cameron watching the wiggles on Australian TV.

Another cute outfit!

Heres a couple of Cameron's creations.

The Front Desk, Manager, and waitress from the hotel staff. They are all wonderfully helpful and understanding of the adoptive parents and childrens needs.

Teodoro(Teddy) and Ivan came and had spaghetti with us for dinner last night. Cameron is the big brother to all the toddlers being adopted here. He has run of the place and feels very important.

Pile up on the couch!!

Its hard to say what the next few days will hold, or what sort of internet connectivity we will have. We are supposed to be staying at the Marriott downtown on Red Square in Moscow, so it should be nice. I now take nothing for granted anymore, and assume nothing either, so we'll play it by ear, and if I can get another post out before we leave here tomorrow, I will. Oksana says we will leave here at 9, go get Anyas passport, then go for a summary medical exam, then we are off to the airport. We are to depart at three fifty in the afternoon. An eight hour flight gets us into Moscow at six in the evening their time, then to our hotel and off to bed. At least that's how its drawn up in the play books...... Wish us luck!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Russian Hoops and Legalese

Yesterday was long, exhausting, and very productive... we officially, legally got our little girl. All the day yesterday was spent making this happen. Here is a play by play.

I got picked from the hotel at 8. My driver to day was Alex. He doesn't speak a word of english, so the ride into town and all the times waiting in the car for things to happen were completely silent. Weird to spend a day sitting next to a guy and not exchange one thought or idea with him.

We drove into town thirty minutes and parked near the regional courthouse and waited for Oksana to meet us (remind me to write about my observations about the Russian people and winter clothing in general). She came and got in the van with us. I signed a form or two, then she went into the courthouse and gathered the official declaration that stated that our adoption was complete. Yes!! But our work was not done. We had to go get her birth certificate changed, listing Leanna and I as her (now) official parents. This involved another forty five minute drive to the office of vital statistics, another series of forms to be signed, then a wait to get the new birth certificate. It seems like to get anything done here even going out to pick up your cleaning or filling up your gas tank requires a forty five minute drive, submission of some official form, and then a wait for the governmental wheels to turn. I may be exaggerating a little bit here...but remind me to talk about getting around here in winter.

After the office of vital statistics, we were now officially, undeniably, and completely her parents, but the work was not done. The orphanage needed a copy of the official documents for their file, and we owed them for letting us have her early, so we had to drive over there to give them a copy, this took, guess what? Another forty minute drive, then a wait, then we were through with the orphanage. A good feeling to drive away from there knowing all had been completed.

Next was a very important step. She was ours now, but she couldn't go home with us until we got a passport for her. We got her passport photos the day before, but now we had to drop the application into the right hands. yup, you guessed it another trip crisscrossing the city to get to the pass port office. We got there forty five minutes later and found out that the person who normally deals with adoption passports was on vacation. This presents a HUGE problem, because we are scheduled to leave for Moscow Monday afternoon. NO GO. Oksana poured out our story to the receptionist, but she was stern and unrelenting. Nobody ever explained to me why, in a city of several hundred thousand, which is the regional capital for all governmental functions, there is just one individual that is qualified to do this  function. But I am just a foreigner, and I need their help, so I didn't go there. This was eleven Friday morning, and all she could offer us was to come back after two oclock and talk to one of the higher ups. We were frustrated and disappointed, but still had plenty to do.

Now that we had her birth certificate and the court decree, we had to get these documents something called apostilled. Unless you are a diplomat or a lawyer(god forbid), you probably, like me don't know what an apostille is. So I asked, "What the heck is that?" Oksana explained that due to the Hague Convention on adoptions signed by most of the countries of the world, when adoptions occur internationally, the official documents must be further certified as correct, complete and official in order to be accepted in legal systems from one country to another, THAT is what an apostille is. So, this required yet another trip to the courthouse, but what makes this trip special is the wreck that occurred in the middle of the city, tying up traffic in all directions for an hour or more. We literally sat STILL for thirty minutes at a time. To the point that we Alec turned off the van for minutes at a time until we got cold and started the car to run the heater. Remember that it never got out of the teens all day yesterday. We sat in traffic through lunch, so we shared a chocolate bar that Oksana had, sortof like some folks marooned on a desert island, except we were marooned in a sea of cars in a subartcic traffic snarl. That consisted of our nourishment for the entire day.

After we got out of traffic and made it back to the courthouse, Oksana took the papers in to be official-ized, and Alec and I sat silently together in the car once again. This gives me plenty of time to think. I begin to think about Russian hats. That is something that I noticed right away when we landed in Moscow. Everybody, and I mean every body, has a hat. And they are all made out of fur. I even saw a couple of fur covered baseball caps on some tragically hip youngsters posing in the concourse. It's a regular hat parade here in Russia. There are caps, chapeaus, beanies, wraps, turbans, toboggans, and especially that famous Russian hat, the Ushanka. I don't know what the word means, but you've all seen one, those big fur covered hats Russian men wear. Round, flat on top, with big ear-flap thingys that tie on top. Heck, I even own one, made out of rabbit fur. I got it from some one long ago and wore it once on a dare at a ski resort.

These Ushankas are made out of every manner and species of animal fur, some black, probably mink or rabbit , some curly, like lambswool, and some ridiculously huge furry concoctions that look like a Mulamute decided it would be a good place to curl up and lie down. But I know why they wear them. Its because its COLD. A cold that is hard to describe to someone raised in the south. Unless you've traveled out of our region a long ways, and stayed there for a prolonged time you have no idea about the cold here. Read a Jack London novel, naked, in a deep freezer, and you begin to get an idea....So these hats everyone wears make sense.

I also understand mink coats now. They are warm. VERY warm, and offer some measure of comfort to women in this incredibly cold climate. You see them every where on the streets here, all styles and colors, hooded, or not, waist length, thigh length, or full length. All manner and classes of women have them. Some old ladies, some very young hip girls. All wrapped resolutely against the cold in some sort of dead animal. You know what the weird thing was? I didn't feel the least bit sorry for the minks, or the foxes, or the lambs that gave their lives for the coats. No more than I feel sorry for the beast or foul who was raised with a fate to rest upon my dinner plate. Its COLD here folks, and if a few animals have to die so that we might live and inhabit the earth, so be it. Let the PETA people try to stage a rally here and see what happens. They'd freeze their little cotton wearing patooties off. That's what would happen. Fur is not a statement here, not a status symbol, its a necessity.

Oksana got back to the van after a while, and we set off for the pass port office again, since it was now after two. Another drive across town, and through intersection after intersection of snarled traffic. We got there in one piece, frazzled and hungry, and went back to the surly gatekeeper at the passport place. She called in her superior, and Oksana plead our case. She reluctantly took us in, then made us wait for all the Russian nationals to pass through, before she would handle our application. I sat at the desk and signed my name again for the umpteenth time, and sat some more while Oksana talked. Later she told me that the official had scolded us for coming late in the day, and said we could not get the passport til Monday evening. Oksana said again how we were scheduled to leave that after noon and was there any way we could get it in the morning, then she threw in a little explanation of our trip over here and the delays and layovers,etc., and could she please, let us get it early in the morning. The pass port officer looked at me and said in Russian, "he looks so sad, why don't you go feed that man!". Then she said to come back at ten Monday morning, when the official comes in, and we will be in line to get our forms processed. I didn't realize that I looked so pitiful, but if that was the sum of my contribution for the day, then I guess I served my purpose.

So, it was three o'clock and mission accomplished. We drove back through town, dropped Oksana off at her car, then headed back to the supermarket to pick up milk, diapers, and baby food. I managed that mission all by myself, paid and then sat silent once more as Alec drove us towards the hotel. We encountered one more traffic snarl and was stopped still bumper to bumper in one last parting shot at the tail end of a long and exhausting day. I got to the hotel lobby at quarter to five that evening, starved, tired, but the proud new owner of a genuine little Russian bundle of Joy!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Just a short one today.Oksana will be running me around alone today taking care of administrative duties like posting the official paper releasing Anya into our custody, applying for the passport., validating some of the official papers we brought with us from the  US. All sorts of international law mumbo jumbo. Anyway, I'll be out most of the day. Just about everything will be done though after this, then we wait over the weekend for the next flight out of here!!Its hard to believe its been about two weeks here. We have settled into a very livable arrangement here and made new friends and even discovered a new game. Speed Scrabble- any of you heard of it?? Jamie and Colin, our friends from Nashvillle, introduced us to it a couple of days ago. We'll explain it next time we see you. It's kind of half boggle, half scrabble, played with out a board. We showed them Kings on the Corner in exchange. Fair trade, if you ask me.

Cant get enough of that smile...

Me and Cam playing in the snow. I'm the one freezing my tail off on the left. We haven't seen 20 degrees since last Friday!

Finally! I DO exist....

Lounging on the couch...

This is what its all about.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dinner Party

Like I had said earlier, Jamie and Colin got their little one home yesterday. They changed his name from Anton to Jake. They have been very lucky. He slept in Jamie's arms the first day, and is calm and quiet most of the time. Bath time is when they all seem to get squirrely. Every one with their child seems to report that bath time frightens the child. Don't know why, but seems to be the same throughout.

Leanna was inspired today, and decided to whip up a chicken soup from scratch today. Cooking here is an adventure in itself. Starting with the trip to the supermarket. Imagine everything on the labels being in another language. Frequently packaging is different too. Milk comes in little square boxes. Leanna thought she was buying milk in a bottle once and we still have the quart of buttermilk in the fridge to remind us everything is not as it seems in Russia. Mayonnaise and other condiments come in foil squeeze packets with a nozzle on top. Things like butter vs margarine are indistinguishable, as are canned goods and cuts of meat, unless the label pictures are particularly well drawn. Baby food, thankfully, always has a picture of the food stuff on it.

Anyway, the food we buy is a bit of a guess, and we don't have a fully stocked kitchen with spices and what not. Leanna worked her magic though, and came up with a delicious soup for us. We had heard that Jamie and Colin had gotten Jake, so we invited them down for dinner and a toast with the champagne that we had been saving. They came down and we really enjoyed the evening. Jake and Anya got along really well. Jake is very calm and Anya is always wanting attention and to be the life of the party. (Sound like any couple you know???) We had a blast watching them play. After dinner and our toast, they just got to play with the few toys we have on the floor of the room.They left after a while and Anya went right to bed. Just a few moments of crying and rocking this time.

We got a post on the blog from Amy Monroe, who is a sister in law of one of my partners. Her family adopted a little girl from Russia a few years ago and says that the rocking at bed time is common and has persisted for her child for quite some time. It's good to have so many others who have experience to draw from. Thanks to all of you for your comments and observations.

Cameron has been very diligent in keeping Anya's food straight and sorted by type for us. I'm afraid he may have some of my freakish organizational tendencies in him....

Nap time. Must be really tired from keeping up with Cam...

Play time... Lots of smiles always...

Here is Jake. He has beautiful blond hair and grey-green eyes.

This is Jamie and Colin on the floor with Jake and Anya. They are a great couple. Definitely some that we would hang around with if they lived near by.

Here is Leanna joining in the fun. Jake looks like he has super power xray vision in this picture, but I think he is perfectly normal.

Cameron was so wired to have some new people around, he was jumping around the room like a spider monkey after three red bulls. Here he is on top of the fridge after bouncing all around the room without touching the floor. The demonic, possessed look in his eyes is all Cameron.

Tracy, one of my employees noted that there were very few pictures of me with Anya in here. I am doing the writing and picture taking for the most part. I guess I was voted trip historian. ( I must've been in the bathroom when THAT vote was held.) Anyway, I will request that some one take some pictures of me as well to document that I was in fact a part of this wonderful, adventurous, amazing journey.

More to come....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Latest Addition

Cameron and I went out to play in the snow while Anya took her nap. Leanna said she went to sleep after just a couple of minutes. That's good news. After Cam and I were sufficiently frozen in the six below temperatures, we came in and got something to eat at the restaurant.

Afterward we came to the room and started watching a movie we borrowed from Jamie and Colin. We were interrupted by Oksana, who was down in the lobby and had some papers she had prepared for us. She had translated all the papers we need to get notarized before we got to the consulate in Moscow. She is so good at taking care of everything for us, and takes all the little stresses of the adoptive parents in stride. I guess if this si what you do for a living, it is no big deal. Sorta like a brain surgeon or a bomb defuser. Just another day at the office... She says we will go downtown tomorrow at two and get these things done.

The neat news was that Jamie and Colin went and got their son Jake from the orphanage. A phone call to them revealed that, and they have had a good first day with them. We still have the bottle of champagne we bought the first day here and we have been saving it to share with them when they got Jake, so looks like we have plans for that tonight.

We took a ton of photos of Anya to try to get the passport quality photo we need. She is cute and adorable, but not very prone to sitting still and looking straight into a camera. After about fifteen attempts, Oksana says she had enough to work with and we'd see tomorrow what she got. We can always stop at a photographer after the notary tomorrow.

More pics to download tomorrow...

BTW I'm having problems with my email account. Mediacom chose the WORST time to change and upgrade (supposedly) their format. So I may not get updates and emails, you have been sending. Just send me a message on FB and I'll get the notification there. Much Thanks!

Playing catch up

Yesterday, I finally succumbed to the cold I have been fighting for a few days. I felt like poo, so i didn't do much of anything. Which from this perspective, is really saying something, because even on a busy day, I don't do a whole hell of a lot around here. Remember Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray? Its kind of like that around here. Wake up, look out the window, its still snowy, sunny and cold. Look around, its still the same room decorated in the mauve and blue color scheme of an 80's nightmare flashback. Go down the hall, see the same residents and the same employees. Go to the restaurant, the same food on the menu, go to the White rabbit, play darts with the same one red dart we have available, try to play pool with the duplicate balls- two one balls and two thirteen balls (is there a message there??). Everything is just a repeat of the several days we have already spent cooped up here in the Vlad Motor Inn.

Do I sound like I have case of cabin fever??

Guilty as charged.

The bright spots though, are Anya and her progress and the remarkable benefits of modern technology.Yesterday, I finally got Skype working again, and we were able to speak with a big chunk of our family from Culllman who had gathered at Grandad and Grandmama's house. We talked and showed off Anya to them and it made things much brighter and reminded us that we will eventually be back home and surrounded by all of you, our friends and family.

Anya's progress is likewise remarkable. Mainly in the sleeping and bonding department. I have been the one putting her down for her naps and night time rests usually, because Cameron can't stand to hear her cry, so he wants momma to take him to the white rabbit then so he doesn't have to listen. At first, she would cry and rock for an hour, then fifteen minutes, and last night, it was only about three minutes before she plugged in her two first fingers on her left hand , started sucking, and nosedived for the pillows. She is also enjoying our hugs and kisses much more, and today was a couple of big milestones. She actually let Leanna cradle her in her arms while she fed her a sippy cup, and also Anya cried when she set her down. These are important, because even though it seems like she is regressing somewhat in her development and independence, those of you not in the know with adoptive kids, this is very important building blocks in the bonding process. We must revisit theses things which would normally occur in the first few months of child rearing to establish the care giver bonds that are necessary for further future development. Enough of the child development lesson, how about some pictures???

Here is Anya sleeping yesterday, she fell asleep with both feet dangling out of the crib and stayed that way for almost an hour.

These are just some of her playing. She loves to smile and laugh. Such a joy to see!

Cameron has been playing with her too, as only a six year old big brother can. Strengthening her core muscles!

He has also been very inventive without his toys around. Here he is "tran-kill-izing" animals with his corkscrew gun to fly back to the zoo. The next Steve Irwin.

This little fella is Ivan, the new son of Teddy and Jason (their real names are something we can't pronounce). They are a couple from Bulgaria, emigrated to the US and living on the west coast. They have had Ivan about as long as we have Anya, so it is good for us to compare notes and progress.

Now for a little Momma time on the bed. Much joy and love to share...

OK. Momma finally wants to read all that I have written, and your responses. I will sign out for now and may add more later.

Love to you all.....

Monday, December 14, 2009

For blog junkies only....

Today, we were trying to skype with my sister Mary. We have been having some trouble with the audio, but now I hope I have it worked out. Anyway, while we were messaging back and forth, she wanted me to "show her around" our room. I gave her a video tour, but then remembered that I had taken several pictures at the start. I'll try to organize them now and give you a 360 of the lay out of our digs.

Warning: This is not terribly interesting except to those of you who are hanging on our every word. We won't know and don't care if you want to stop reading now and go on with what I'm sure is you're busy and exciting life. For the rest of you (Bless your hearts) here goes.....

This our bed and the crib for the room. The bathroom is off to the left.

OK. Rotate 90 degrees and here is the nerve center of our room, the couch. Camerons bed in the background.

Standing next to Camerons bed with the window at my back, I am looking at our dining table ,and the kitchen.

Now standing at the door to the suite, looking toward the beds.

Thats pretty much it for now. If things are slow later, I'll finish the story of our trip over. I know I said we'd go out for passport pictures today, but that was nixed by Oksana. She said it was too cold to take Anya out. I guess we'll take it day by day. Thats kind of hard on me, since I am an organization and planning freak, but its good therapy for me too.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Sign up for Skype. Lurk online late in the afternoon or early evening. If I see your'e logged on, we'll chat...
Talk to you soon.

Day Three

Another quiet day of playing and bonding. Anya woke up in a good mood and ready to play. She is more and more comfortable around us and is starting to like to be held and kissed. That makes Leanna so happy. We are kind of stuck in the hotel because no businesses are open on Sunday. Cameron wanted to go out and try out his snow suit so we bundled up and he and I went out for an hour or so.

The meeting room upstairs called the White Rabbit, is a lifesaver. It gives us someplace else besides the lobby and our room to go, and we meet and hang out with other families there. There is a TV, a pool table, and a dart board in there, plus you can call down and order food from the restaurant to be brought up.

The first night, we met Jamie and Colin. Last night we had dinner with them. They are interesting people. He was a football coach, now hes a drug rep while he is working on a book. She is mother of three, a marathoner, and works as a school teacher. They have adopted Jake, a two year old, but they cant get him from the orphanage until this Wednesday. It's neat to hear all the other families stories and their journeys to bring them here.

We will take more pictures of everyone and upload them in time for your reading tomorrow.

Thanks to all of you who have commented so far. We are enjoying your response and support.