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.