Sunday, May 31, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
An upbeat post for today:
We've been watching our garden for weeks waiting for our first Lily to bloom. The time has finally come: SleepingAngel - are the Lily's in Heaven as beautiful as the ones down here?
Love and Kisses!
Mom and TinyDancer
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Tuesday was spent partially working and partially with doctors for me. Right before we left, we found out that we were pregnant. I can't even begin to put a voice to all of the emotions that we've gone through - so I'll just stick to facts. We had one perfect ultrasound with a perfectly round sac and a perfect yolk sac the Friday before we left. Four days later, the miscarriage started at 6.5 weeks. So, on Tuesday I got an "emergency" ultrasound to check that my body had passed everything naturally (it did) and then I got the pleasure of going to Labor and Delivery to get my Rhogam shot. It's almost as if the powers that be at that hospital sat down and thought -
"How can we make a miscarriage even worse?"
"Oh oh! I know! Lets make them go to L & D to get their shot."
"Oh yeah! And lets make sure that ALL of the nurses ask them how many weeks they are and if this is the hospital where they are going to deliver."
"These are great ideas guys! Strong work!!"
Even more exciting, the week before we left I found out that a few of my liver enzymes were high so my GI told me to stop all of the meds for my colon. Great idea! Let's start a week of foreign travel - with a week's worth of eating out - and stop all of our maintenance meds! There is NO WAY anything bad can happen! None! And lets not make a plan of what to do if a flare starts. Nope. That would be ridiculous! Lets think - what causes The Mom to flare - not taking her meds...... and eating out a lot...... hmmmmm.......
So after three frantic calls with the GI while we were still in country which weren't returned, we made our own plan! I finally got ahold of the GI on Tuesday night and was able to get some more prednisone. My favorite!
Wednesday was also spent partially working and partially at the doctor. My medical exam was out of date so I got mine redone and we needed to complete our HIV and syphillis testing and get a chest x-ray both for our domestic medical exams and for our exciting and extremely thorough 8 doctor medical exam that we'll do once we return to Moscow. My medical exam and getting our HIV and syphillis test results are the last things that we need to finish our second dossier. We should get our results on Monday and then next Thursday TinyDancer and I will get everything certified and apostilled and then mailed to our agency. Yay!
So, after all of the excitement and running around on Tuesday and Wednesday, TinyDancer and I got to spend today relaxing at home (for the most part) and playing all day. With all of the last minute errands to get ready for our trip, it had been a while since I got to spend an entire day focused just on TinyDancer and having fun! And have fun we did! We left the house for her tumbling lessons and for her violin lessons - but other than that, we stayed home and made a big mess and played in the sprinkler. Her favorite things!
Tomorrow we are off to the Children's museum in the morning and then we are going to plant some flowers in the afternoon. Good stuff!
Sunday, May 24, 2009
My mother in law bought me some fresh cantalope and had it waiting for me when we got home. How many daughters can say that??? It was soooo good! We are very lucky to have such great families.
So far, I've eaten a big salad, all of my cantalope, almost an entire bag of grapes and a hanful of oranges. Ahhhh...... 8 )
Friday, May 22, 2009
There was a 5:40 flight home, but it was full and we couldn't get on it. 8 ( So, we found a Chili's and had a nice BIG salad! OMG - it was SOOO good.
Now we are chilling - waiting for 9:30 to get here. We've been up for 21 hours so far. *yawn* Only a few more hours until we are tucked into our nice comfy bed. 8 )
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Today is our last day with EasternStar. 8 (
Our breakfast this morning was great again. On the menu today - omelettes (not what you think - they were bricks of eggs - how do they get them to stay in cubes like that??), french fries, sausages, pancakes, and fish balls. hee hee It's as fun to type as it is to say! They were just like meatballs, only made of fish. Stranger says that they were "fishy". hee hee
After breakfast, we walked to the supermarket for our water for today and then came back to the hotel and rested. Our bodies are all messed up - we both woke up today at 3 am Tyumen time and couldn't go back to sleep.
At 9:40 we left for the regional MOE appointment and answered some questions about our visits with EasternStar and our decision to continue. We said YES of course!
Then, it was off to see EasternStar. She was happy to see us this morning but she wasn't feeling very well. They think that she has two teeth coming it at the same time. Ouch! She was warm and had a runny nose. Most of our visit was spent holding her and cuddling with her. At one point, her music teacher came in and took her from my arms and she immediately started crying and stopped once I took her back. She also cried when we returned to her Gruppa and she didn't stop before we left. 8 ( Our poor baby who doesn't feel good today. We got lots of cuddles today - those were new. She hadn't put her head down on our shoulders before today. She also isn't much for having her hands held. Until after her teacher took her and then she grabbed my thumbs and held on for dear life!
We visited our usual spot for lunch today. Today we had tortollini in a cream sauce with ham pieces. Yum!
We get to see EasternStar one more time and then we are immediately off to the airport to start our journey home.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
On our first night in Moscow we had dinner at the restaurant at the Marriott. We split a bowl of Meat Solyanka - a traditional Russian soup. The base was reddish brown and it had green and black olives, pickles, onions, and a sausage that looked like our hot dogs. It was touted at "sour and spicy". Stranger LOVED it. I liked it and am glad I tried it - but I wouldn't order it again. We also chicken fajitas (you come all the way to Russia and have Mexican food???) and an order of salmon. Guess who picked which entree? hee hee
The next morning we had the breakfast buffet - also at the hotel. I'd seen reviews that the buffet was expensive and not that great. Yeah, that's true. There were three levels to the buffet - a cereal and pastry bar for $15, add in the fruit bar for another $10, add in hot foods for another $20 or something like that. The full buffet was called the "American" - the irony of that wasn't lost on us! I got the cereal bar, Stranger got the American bar.
In Tyumen, our hotel touts that it has the "Best breakfast buffet in Western Siberia" - and it truly does! For breakfast there is a cold cut bar (with sliced cheeses and salami and tomato and a few other things that I don't recognize) and a cereal bar (Stranger is getting his granola fix - although today they had run out of spoons (?) by the time we got there so he didn't get any today and he is pretty cranky now), yogurt, fresh fruit (it looks SOOO good but we aren't supposed to eat it b/c we aren't used to the local water) and hot foods. Today we had things that looked like egg rolls but with just sauteed vegetables inside - no cabbage, boiled potatoes, baked fish, eggs, and sausages with cheese in the middle. Yesterday it was eggs, the sausages, french fries (!!) and fish sticks (!!!) and pancakes. The pancakes are huge - about the size of a dinner plate and folded into fourths. They sit in syrup so you don't put any butter or syrup on them once they are on your plate. Can't wait to see what we have tomorrow. And the buffet is included in the room. Yay!
Her caregiver (different ones today and she seems bonded to this set as well - more good news!) picked her up and handed her to me. She came right away and today she looked around and looked at us - yesterday she looked down a lot. It was awesome! We looked out of the window some and she played with my necklace some. And she LOVED looking at herself in the mirror. She saw herself and gave a huge smile and laugh.
Once her lunch was ready, we sat her down in a highchair. She was very excited to eat! Lunch today was soup - it looked and smelled like chicken noodle minus the noodles, bread, mashed potatoes, baked meat (it looked like meat loaf) and a cup of apple juice. (As a pediatrician, I'm sure it was killing Stranger to feed her "real" food before the 1 year mark! hee hee Especially since she is so underweight!)
She has a good appetite! We fed her much slower than the caregivers usually do and she was grabbing my hand and guiding it to her mouth. They have to feed the babies quickly - they have 15 to feed after all! And I think they usually put them in their laps and lean them back some - like giving them a bottle only they are feeding them real food. It must be easier to get it in that way) (Another note - there are two children in her group that can feed themselves - they have their own little table and chairs to sit at while they eat.) She was very impatient and I tried to give her big bites quickly. So different than if we were at home! We were very messy and her hands ended up in the soup a few times. hee hee And I have no idea how they get them to drink out of cups (as big a coffee mugs!) so young - when I brought the cup to her mouth, she bent her head down and it mostly just went all over her shirt! hee hee Great fun and a big mess!! After 25 minutes, they told us it was time to leave and go to the playroom. Poor girl - we were only done with half of her food! 8 ( She'll be hungry this afternoon! 8 (
We went to the playroom and on the way, our translator told us that there was someone from the local (city) MOE that was going to observe our time to see how the attachment was going. Nothing like being nervous right before playtime! But, it went great. She met us in the playroom just as we arrived and we took off her coat and "outside pants" and "outside socks" (I don't know what else to call them) and her hat. She then had on an undershirt, a regular shirt, long underwear, a pair of pants, and a pair of socks. Thats a lot of clothes! 8 ) The local official asked EasternStar if she would come to her, but she grabbed onto Papa and wouldn't let go. "She belongs to you!" she said. Yup! She does! She asked us if we had made a decision on whether to persue the adoption and what our decision was. A big HUGE YES!!!!
She looked at our album (a HUGE thank you to my best friend Nicole for translating the labels for me - they LOVE the labels with the English and Russian on them!!) and she seemed to like it. Then our coordinator told her our reasons for adopting, about SleepingAngel, and our reasons for choosing Russia. It seems to us that it would be socially unacceptable to say that we wanted a child that would look like us - but here that is a fantastic answer! And she very much looks like us!
Finally, we got to play! Today we brought the same toys from yesterday AND some stacking cups and a toy with several shapes on it with different textures all hooked together. She LOVED the stacking cups! Developmentally, I think the toys from yesterday may have been too advanced. But, the stackng cups were a huge hit! We played with those for most of the visit and with the alligator from yesterday for a little bit.
We got lots of laughs and lots of smiles today. I think that she is very ticklish but still a bit too shy to let loose. We did get some good tickles in and some good laughs though. Her laugh cracks me up!
And a note to TinyDancer - they have been combing her hair and putting it up in a little ponytail so that it doesn't look crazy! hee hee hee
Not sure if we'll be inside our outside this afternoon.
Love to everyone at home!
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Then, we drove back to our hotel to pick up a cake. There is a bakery in the lobby of our hotel that makes the best cakes in the city. Our translator and coordinator usually ask their couples to purchase a cake to bring to the director and the workers at the orphange. This is a treat as the cakes are on the pricey side and not usually purchased by the locals for everyday dining. We picked a beautiful cake (based on the recommendation of the person working there - the baker?). Unfortunately, she wrapped it before I could photograph it and it would have been awkward to take a photo of it after we gave it to the director! hee hee
Meeting her was indescribable! When her caregiver handed her to me, she cried. That is great news - she LOVES her caregiver (so we know that she can attach!!) but she stopped very quickly. Her caregiver took her back and bundled her up to walk to the building with the playroom. In the playroom, she was very overwhelmed! She sat in my lap for a little bit and she sat on the floor for a little bit. I know that it was very overwhelming for her. There are 14 other children in her group, so having 2 people focused just on her - and strangers at that - was probably pretty scary!
Then, she had a nap and we had a break for lunch. I'll skip the details on that part - although we had some awesome pizza at a restaurant called Pizza Express. 8 ) We went back around 4:30 and got another hour - this one spent outside.
Again, her caregiver bundled her and they got a stroller out for us. There is a big playground outside of her building and we walked over to that. The playground had a lot of things to play on - slides, swings, and things to climb on - I took pictures, but again, I'm not sure how much we are allowed to share - so I'm erroring on the side of caution.
One thing to note - I always thought that it was cliche that PAPs would say how nice the orphanages are and how much the caregivers care about the babies. It is so true! All of the buildings were very well maintained and the parts that we saw were extremely clean!
And - oh my - you can tell that these kids are loved and that they do the best that they can. I don't know how many times EasternStars caregiver kissed her and loved on her. And she was so responsive to her. They *really* do love these kids!
I'll end with something that all parents can understand - proof that the "you don't have to spend any money on toys" rule is universal - We brought this:
An alligator - you push down the birds and the alligotro moves forward - it's to encourage crawling. And this:
And this book:
And what was her favorite - I'm not letting go of this - toy? This:
The FREE tape measure that our Dr. gave us to measure her head with! hee hee hee
Monday, May 18, 2009
The plane ride here was ...... interesting! The plane was four seats across and not very modern. The entire flight, Stranger kept looking at me and saying "We're on a mission from God, right?" The emergency exit on our plane - an escape hatch and a rope! hee hee hee
And apparently foreigners don't come this far West very often and our lack of understanding Russian has gotten us some eye rolls. hee hee hee Not that we can blame them - we'd probably do the same thing at home! But I'm not sure that I could understand them even if I did speak Russian! People here speak very quickly and very softly. So different from home! Most of the time when someone says something, I'm saying "What?" because I can't hear them! They could be speaking English and I still wouldn't understand! hee hee
Tommorow morning we meet with the Ministry and then we go straight to meet EasternStar. We weren't too nervous about our meeting, but after getting prepped by our coordinator and translator, now we are! We have notes from our doctor stating that we don't have Swine Flu and we bought some masks when we got here - just in case we need them to get into the orphanage. And we have our questions for our doc - so I guess we are ready.
Pray for a good meeting tomorrow!
Sunday, May 17, 2009
And cars parked on the sidewalk:
And this fountain:
We don't know what this one is either, but who doesn't want to take a picture of a bear attacking a wolf? We are fondly calling this one "Statue off of Red Square right next to the McDonalds and Sbarro". Nice, huh?
We ended our evening back at the hotel for a nice dinner. We met three other American families there that just picked up their babies and are waiting to do their Embassy paperwork so they can head home. The kids are so cute! And young!
We leave for Tyumen (which we found out is pronounced TIE - MEN) in a few hours. It is a four hour flight and we are gaining another hour. We'll update again tonight if we can!
Did I mention that we only had a 2 hour layover! We landed at 3:45 and finally got off of the plane at 3:55. Our flight to Moscow took of at 4:15. We sprinted out of terminal B, up two escalators, and 3000 m to terminal T, then a little bit more to get to our gate. If you were in the Atlanta airport yesterday and got smacked by our luggage from all of our bobbing and weaving.... ummm.... sorry! But we have a baby to meet! 8 ) Thankfully, we got to our gate just in the last few seconds before they ended boarding.
Thankfully, our flight over was uneventful.... though neither of us could get comfortable enough to sleep on the plane. It was a nice 11.5 hour flight. That's a long time to sit!
Our awesome driver picked us up and dropped us off at our hotel. We took a short nap and Skyped with TinyDancer. Now we are off to explore and find a grocery store to pick up some water.
Maybe more later .....
Friday, May 15, 2009
And then we are off early tomorrow morning!
I couldn't sleep last night I was so excited!
I took one last nap with TinyDancer this afternoon. I'm going to miss my afternoon nap buddy!
We are supposed to have internet access for the entire trip and we'll keep the blog as updated as we can.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
I thought that 4K would be a bigger stack of cash. Oddly, its not.
And some of her new toys:
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I can't believe that we're leaving in 4 days! We have so much to do. I should so not be at work. I should *so* not be at work and updating my blog! hee heee
We were doing awesome on our "To Do" list until Saturday when we hit this item: "Pack away SleepingAngels things to make room for EasternStar". And we haven't really moved on anything since. We still have all of SleepingAngel's stuff in her room - the molds of her hand, the cards from her birth and from her funeral, even her oxygen tubing and extra tubes for her gavage feeding. They are all sitting in her crib. Or stored haphazardly in a cardboard box. We have pretty boxes to store them in..... we just..... haven't. I think that both of us have managed to not think about having to change that room from "SleepingAngel's Room" to "EasternStar's Room". Even TinyDancer still calls it "SleepingAngel's Room". We may have to skip this item and face these emotions when we get home.
Proof that Stranger and I make a great team: I'm panicked about everything that we need to get done before we leave. He's panicked about everything that we have to do once we get there. And the whole being in another culture and not being able to speak the language thing.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
And we have our hotel arrangements in Moscow. Yay!
Our Visas are being processed and we should have them on 5/12.
Our agency handles all of our in-country flight arrangements and hotel reservations so we don't have to worry about that. Except for the whole paying for them thing...... 8 )
Ummm.... now all we have to do is pack! Welll..... there is that giant "To Do" list that we have - you know - download Skype and figure out how to use it, print out directions so that the Grandmas can take TinyDancer to all of her activities, etc. She asked me to include some of her favorite recipes in the binder that I am putting together for our moms so that they can make her favorite foods. In the binder so far - Lemon Meatballs, Chicken Fingers, Meatloaf, and .... the recipe for her favorite Mac and Cheese & Hot Dogs. 8 )
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
48 pork chops is a lot of pork chops and we ended up packaging them in bags of three. To me, that equals more meals = less cooking during the month! Yay! We also had a lot of pasta salad! It was hilarious to see Heather sitting on my yucky floor (I'm so embarrassed about the state of our house that day!) and portioning out the giant stockpot full of pasta salad. We also had a little bit of the ham mixture from the ham and potato pockets left over. Luckly, we had an extra tube of crescent rolls so we made some plan ham pockets. Two got a little too brown (that was my whoops! again) so our hubbies got them.
Heather and I are so lucky to have such great hubbies! We cooked at our house and Stranger was in the kitchen most of the day washing the dishes ..... and helped package and label a few of the dishes. Meanwhile Heather's hubby took their three kids to church and to a soccer game. Oh, and TinyDancer tagged along to the soccer game too! 8 ) I have huge respect for all of the ladies that do the washing themselves. What does it mean that Heather and I need a third adult to help with the cleanup? Are we too messy? hee hee hee
We've already tried the Cheddar Butter Burgers - which almost became Swiss Butter Burgers (me again!) - and they were delicious! We've also tried the Egg Muffins, the Fruit Cups, and I'm having the Pasta Salad for lunch today. I can't wait for lunch!
Monday, May 4, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009
We can't wait to meet you EasterStar!