Friday, July 13, 2007

Friends

and family

home

Going Good

So it is going pretty good around here. THe kids are adjusting really well and seem to be really happy and attaching well. We have begun to do many things out of the house. We went to Target with Auntie Britty and the kids and Walmart by ourselves!!! The first day home Joey took Jones to the grocery store and cooked breakfast before Mollie and I even woke up. It was great! Things are really fitting into a routine now. We have seen a few behaviour problems in the evening but we are working through them. I think Jones just gets too excited playing racing video games when Dad gets off work.

Today we went to Chuck E Cheese with Auntie Britty, & Emily and all the kids. We had a good time. Pretty crazy though with all the little ones to keep track of. We are having a family movie night watching Happy Feet. Jones and I are falling asleep and I put Mollie to bed a bit ago. Weird that there is a character Lovelace since that's my maiden name.

Jones and Mollie are both answering to their American names and Jones is finally trying English. He speaks new words every day and can count to 6 in English and sing half his ABC's. He is a smart kid. He knows his name but he loves to joke with my mom and call her Babooshka Jones. It is funny. Dad brought his Harley over yesterday and Jones loved that. We told him that Grandpa had one when Joey was looking through his magazine on the plane. I love when we can show him things and follow through with things we tell him and make it a reality. I feel like it clicks in his mind. Both kids are very smart. They both love to play tricks though too. We could be in trouble in the future! Ha!

We have had lots of visitors and a few play dates and it has all been great. Mollie gets a little overwhelmed at times but Jones really thrives. It is great for him to be with other kids too. I have made good cartoons available as well to help with the language. He hasn't asked to watch a Russian DVD in days. I still need to find a tutor or teacher for a few times during the week to assist with the language. Both kids are very smart and catch on to things very quickly. Mollie likes to fit thing into other things and she is very good with her hand eye coordination. Jones likes to figure out how things work and he always finds the on/off and the place for batteries. He is obsessed with batteries because he knows you need them for toys.

Well, I am seriously ready to fall asleep right now at 9:10pm so I better go. Pathetic I know. More updates later!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Are you ready for this

Last Day- Can you believe it

Today is our last day here! In fact we leave in less than 12 hours! Amazing! Today I am off and on emotions wise. Today I realized that it may not be all nerves but I think my trembling might also be excitement! The only other time I wanted to come home so bad was moving home from Virginia. Actually no,I have never wanted to come home more and have never been so excited to see your faces. I am trying to take the attitude of whatever happens, happens. There is only so much in my control. The Lord has to take care of the rest and if that is to let both my kids scream or something, then I will probably cry but have to endure. Please be praying very hard that we can get seats together. Right now we do not. I am a little concerned about that but I know the Lord has us in His capable hands. Please also pray for sleep for the kids. Neither of them sleep unless they are actually in bed so I am hoping that they will regardless. And lastly - just for smooth flights and transitions. We only have an hour and a 1/2 in Frankfurt to switch planes so we are in need of His guidance in that circumstance as well. I of course am nervous being my nature but I think God is working on strengthening me. I have had times of calm today though. It hasn't helped having so much cooped up time to think.

Today we stayed in the hotel until we had to be ready at 1:15. I worked on organzing the suitcases and carry-ons. We only have 2 big and 1 small suitcase to check and two smaller bags, stroller, and a purse to carry-on! Not so bad huh? The big suitcases are not full either! At 1:15pm we met Alex downstairs and he drove us to the Embassy. We and about 12 other adoptive families waited to swear some stuff and get our children's American visas in their Russian Passports. They told us we should be fine in Germany but if not to keep our adoption certificates near by. The kids will be US citizens as soon as the plane touches down in Portland! They will have dual citizenship until they are 18 and then must re-apply for their Russian status if they would like. We need to get them passports in America to give them extra validity and then also apply for American birth certificates. There is still a lot of paperwork, registration, and post placement reports to do after we are home. It was so nice to meet other families in the same boat. Most of them are all flying home tomorrow and some of their kids were acting up for the couple hours we were there so I didn't feel so bad. It feels good to know you are not alone and this is not the first time someone has done this. I think I will take my mom's advice and talk to the stewardess' when we arrive on the plane and make them aware of the situation. There is only one other couple taking our route that was at the embassy today. They are on the same flight to Frankfurt but then they are headed somewhere else. They adopted a much older son. I am thinking maybe 11. He just loved Mollie. He just watched her and patted her head and they made faces back and forth. She was taken with him also. She is a little flirt and he was winking at her! We all got our paperwork and then wished each other good flights and went our separate ways. I wish we could all fly together. Too bad. They need an adoption plane or something! That would be AWESOME! We were given a sealed envelope that we have to give to passport control in Portland for the kids stating their citizenship. We are not allowed to open it. Wow, TOP SECRET. So weird. These are not the first documents we have had to deliver sealed. It is really so we won't tamper with them but still feels odd.

Then we went to Hard Rock Cafe for lunch. It went alright. The kids were as good as they could be. Jones is getting pretty spoiled right now and that makes it hard but it won't last long! He will be blessed at home but will also not get everything he wishes. Mollie just goes with the flow except she was terrified of the restroom there for some reason. She is also terrified of this tub in this hotel. Hopefully she won't mind the one at home. She sure loved that big blue one. She is singing along with Blue's Clues right now and shoving her thumb to the back of her mouth where she is teething and chewing it to death. It is like she is getting all her teeth at once. Another adoptive family has been experiencing the same thing with her daughter. ANyway, we stopped at the grocery store and purchased some airplane snacks and came back to the hotel. I am just waiting for the hour when you guys wake up so i can talk to my family on the phone. This will be my last blog for awhile although I will probably continue to update it through the year and will try to update after just a couple days and letting you know when we are ready for visitors and such. Thank you again for all your support, love, and prayers. It has really been incredible. Keep it up if you think of us, we can still really really use them. Especially tomorrow. I will talk to you all soon.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Moscow

Here in Moscow we sit. Last night was rough. We didn't sleep until atleast 1am and then the sun was up at 3:30 or 4 when I first got up. It didn't go down until 11 or 12 last night! This makes it difficult to sleep. The kids are doing alright here in this hotel room even though Mommy & Daddy are feeling claustrophobic. We had the Doctor come at 7am and examine the kids. He found a few things to have us mildly concerned due to their malnutrician. He said most are reversable. We will work on that although at times I think Jones is using eating as a control issue. He did finally eat tonight though after two hours of trying. Today he had a bagel, french fries, banana, apple, 2 pieces of bread, a chocolate egg, and 2 tomato slices. I guess it's not as bad as I thought. Mollie eats anything and everything. A few more power struggles with Jones today although he is most likely going to get whatever he wants for the next two days as we are waiting until we get home to really deal with this issue. He is excited to meet everyone but nervous also I think. Tomorrow I will ask Alex (our contact in Moscow) to explain the next days situation. We have to leave her at 4:30 am on Sat. Little nervous about that. No sleep and such. Will try to go to be early. We visited a McDonalds today. HUGE! They had a guy constantly mopping the floor the whole time, the same spot. Weird. And people just kept stepping on it. It was hard to order because there wasn't English. We walked along Arbat Street (tourist area) and it was alright. Gave us something to do but I think we are done with souveniers. We might try to walk to Red Square tomorrow. Would love to have a pic in front of the Kremlin for the kids but really don't know if we will make it. Jones is very weak and can't walk far. We may try Hard Rock and may not. I hate to say this but I really don't care at this point. We are tired and ready to get out of here. May take it easy. Have a big day - flying day coming up. We also went to a super nice grocery store today. It was beautiful. THen we just stayed here and ordered room service. I ate the best thing I have had in Russia so far. It was a bowl of chocolate ice cream (cold!) with chocolate shavings. It tasted like french silk ice cream. Everything else is kind of a blur. We are so tired and I am still having emotional difficulty which is hard to admit but of course I am an open book about it. Thank you so much for all your supportive emails. I will try to write each one back individually when I can. And Mom and Dad, thank you for your everloving support and phone calls and prayers. It does a world of good for me although I am soooooo sorry that you have to hear me like that and I am sure it is hard to hear your child like that a world away. And Ang you are right. I need to dig down deep inside and pull out every bit of strength that God has given and trust trust trust. And Steph and Em - thank you for telling me I am normal and for the advice. We will make it through, we are almost done. May have to medicate myself through the rest but we will do it.

Lord Jesus,
Be with us. I trust you I do. This situation at times especially like now has actually caused me to doubt my faith and trust in you. I will not let Satan influence me in this way. Please know my love for you and that I will choose to rest in you. Please bless my family in a special way Lord. Please comfort my children supernaturally where I can't. Please be my words when I can't communicate. Thank you for my children, and my incredible husband who has carried so much weight literally and figuratively this trip. And thank you for my friends and family who have showed incredible loyalty and committment. Please bless them ten fold in their lives and let our family be to them what they are to us. And Lord thank you for you. For the hope we have in you.
Erin

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy 4th Everyone

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY TO EACH OF YOU! I wish I were home in the USA. Today was the hardest yet. First of all, the luggage is exhausting and as so many of you know, with kids it's doubly as hard! But we got to the airport and the kids went crazy waiting. We had already been in the car and hour before that. Then we boarded and were delayed. I am not sure but I think we arrived an hour late. The plane ride was fine at first. Neither kid was scared and we had all the snacks and toys ready to go. We weren't sitting together but then someone traded. Thank Goodness. Well when it was time to land-Jones would not put his seatbelt on. He always has to have the last whatever. If we buckle, he unbuckles. If we tell him not to pretend hit, he has to do it again. If we tell him to be quiet, he has to say it one more time. Actually both kids are a lot like that and I am telling you when we get home that is one of the FIRST things we are working on. They feel that they are in control. Truth is, right now, they kind of are and it SUCKS as the parent! Anyway, he would not put it on so we held it on. Then he started hitting Joey which is does in frustration, not usually hard but definately with anger so I held his hands so he couldn't do anything. He got really frustrated and I would not give up. Then we stopped and he did it again. Well, at this point honestly I am sick and tired of being the disciplinarian. Joey is like the play guy and he disciplines but in a soft way and not a lot of follow through. I am much more strict. But Joey does have a point and I am respecting that. Both kids have only dealt with female caregivers and discipline. I am so exhausted with it though and feel like a big meany. I am going to stick with Joey's advice from now on though especially after today.

So I told Joey he had to hold his hands because I couldn't do it anymore. Well, Jones freaked out even more and he cried and cried and wouldn't let Joey near him the whole way down. I mean FREAKED! He was crying so loudly. I thought I would die. I kept praying Lord- this is my breaking point, THIS IS MY BREAKING POINT! ANd of all the comforting and bribes, nothing could stop him. So 30 minutes later we touched down still crying, passengers irritated. I feel awful. We had an angel of a man (I really think he was an angel, we didn't see him after!) in front of us. He helped Joey find the seats and talked to the kids and tried to calm Jones down. He even offered to help with our carry ons! He spoke both languages. So nice. I wonder...who could he be. THen we had to wait forever until they open this gate when the baggage arrives and you are herded in like cattle to collect. We went to the wrong area of course. When we saw another adopting couple we met on the plane get their luggage we found the right place. Poor couple. In Kaliningrad they took their ticket coupon for their Moscow to Atlanta flight and they might have to buy new tickets. I am praying for them. That would be terrible. Hoping to run into them at the embassy on Friday to see how that situation will play out.

So we are here at our hotel now. It is 1:30 am yes and JOnes is just going to sleep. We have a pack and play here for Mollie so that is very nice. She went right to sleep around midnight the first chance she had. Poor kids. And we need to go to bed. We have a Dr. coming at 7am and Alex at 8:30 to complete our embassy paperwork and then we have a free day. We are going to go back to sleep after that hopefully and then have a great day together I am hoping. THe hotel is near many things. Hopefully we will have exciting news tomorrow. Then on Friday we just go to the embassy at 2pm and we are done. Then we fly out sooooo early on Sat. 7am. We are going to have to be up so early. Please pray for our rest. We really need it. All of us. And please pray for the flights. I am TERRIFIED now! I really don't know how I will do it.

On a good note. Moscow is cool. The city is GIGANTIC and puts Vegas to shame. No offense to those that just got back and those heading there. I love Vegas. But the lights here are amazing. Okay, not to shame really. But this city is HUGE too! Huge, huge huge! Excited to see more of it tomorrow. We just ate room service. It tasted pretty good. More American like. Gotta go. I love you all. Mom & Dad- I will try to call tomorrow if I do not hear from you. Love you all. Keep praying please! Never knew how much we would need it!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Confined Spaces

Today started off boring, rough, and stressful. We had three adoption appointments. We had to go to the marriage palace to sign for the kids adoption and birth certificates. That took awhile. Then we made a lot of other stops (not sure what for)and then we went to the Ministry of Education to say thank you and let them see the kids. The man in charge there is so nice. I wish I would have got a picture. And the lady is so sweet. She was just adoring the kids. But we were in the car for 3.5 hours! Well except for about a 1/2 hour when we were inside. It was very hard. The kids honestly did pretty well given the situation but Mollie really wasn't havin' it after awhile. I don't blame her. I could barely sit still myself. Thank goodness that is over! Just concerns me a bit for the upcoming plane rides! We fly to Moscow tomorrow! Our independance from Kaliningrad (thanks Aunt Lisa for the reminder) and America's Independance! Woo Hoo! Wish we could be home to celebrate. We hope you all have a great day with tons and tons of fireworks!

The rest of the day went pretty good. The kids had lunch and went down for a nap. Schedules have been messed up for a few days so it's been a little harder, but... schedules will be messed up for quite a few days more anyway with all the transition. I am so excited for Moscow but actually a little anxious inside for the big change, mostly for the kid's sake. We played a lot and Joey gave Jones a toy motorcycle he had been saving for him. We also got (is got in the dictionary yet? I have been waiting because I sure use that word a lot :)out a magnetic fishing set and he loved it! He used it in the bath and then we talked him into watching Finding Nemo (Russian version) for the first time. He was so hesitant but then once he was into it, he literally did not move until the end. He started breathing really funny though near the end. He raises his shoulders and takes in a big breath. He acts like nothing is wrong but I am pretty concerned. It is not normal. It seems like asthma or something. Anyway the evening was very good and the kids behaved and had fun! It is so funny to watch Joey. He thinks the kids are so funny and just adores them. I think that is great except he laughs and thinks they are so cute when they misbehave as well. Mollie is such a little definant stinker sometimes but I love her. Jones and Joey walked to the store and bought some of the last few things we need. Unfortunately we are going to have many groceries left over. Oh, well, we will see if Tatiana wants it. I can't believe we are actually flying tomorrow!

So not too much exciting to talk about today but the kids are continuing to grow and change everyday. We do have a few prayer needs if anyone has the time to continue praying. It feels so much safer in any situation even little ones to be covered with prayer especially when you are in a foreign place. Our prayer requests are: Mollie's cold & rash, Jones' breathing, the plane ride, ease of Moscow transition, and that we have a great time there! Thank you so much. We are so thankful. Talk to you tomorrow night my time from Moscow!

P.S. I don't know how many internet minutes I have left so I will just keep writing you as long as I have them but don't know how to get more in Moscow so if I stop writing or something that is probably why. Mom & Dad - you have our contact info right? We will be at the Belgrad or Belgrade Hotel in Moscow. We fly out of here at 6:20pm tomorrow on Aeroflot. In case of an emergency call Tatiana 89114627700. Britt, I know you keep trying to call and the stupid phone card isn't working but I love you and I miss you. I hope you guys have a safe flight home on Thurs and I can't wait to see you on Saturday! Not long now. If more calls don't work. Just call me from home on Thurs. I am glad I got to hear your voice for a minute.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Za Park

THat is how you say the Zoo in Russian. I think. That is where we went this morning. We woke up and got all four of us ready and headed out the door at 10. We had to go get the kids passport pictures taken first. They both did really good and at the picture place we were finally able to pick up a battery for Jones' remote control car I brought. He loves it and now it doesn't work. Great. Money well spent. Funny thing is I actually brought the batteries. It said 3 triple A's so I that's what I brought, well it didn't tell me that the remote required a 9 volt! So it has taken this whole trip to finally find one and guess what? It was right down the street! But of course we would have never known. We also bought the kids each a play camera which ended up being a great move!!!

We arrived at the zoo and started taking pictures immediately. Jones had to be just in the right spot to take pictures with his "camera." He loved it until he didn't listen at one point and accidentally dropped the batteries into the rhino cage! Oops! He learned that lesson. Listen to Papa! He reinacted the entire scene later for Joey to try to explain that he wanted to play with the camera again. The zoo went pretty well. I don't know how much fun Mollie had but Jones sure had a good time. It was a decent size zoo and very cheap. All of us were admitted for 180 rubles which is about $8. Crazy! After that we went to the restaurant next door which was really nice and really good. The bathroom was not really good. It was clean and nice and I went to go the toilet and it was on the floor! Literally a recessed pink toilet! It was installed one step up from the floor! Is is for squaters or what! I said forget it! I am holding it. I painfully did. Then we had about 45min to kill while we waited for our ride. The kids were good but that was not very fun. We knew what time he was coming but we just got done early.

We came home and tried to give the kids a nap but it wasn't really working. One of us needed to go to the store to get baby wipes which was soooooooo hard to describe to Tatiana. She didn't know what I was talking about. Finally the successful translation was "toilet paper for babies that is wet to clean their bottoms when changing their diapers." She said "Oh, we can get you those!" So Joey watched the kids and I got to go out this time! I was really nervous both to go out on my own with just our driver and also to leave the kids. But Joey told me to so I did. We went to the grocery store and I checked the diaper aisle and couldn't find anything! So we went out to the car and he called Tatiana. She talked to me and said for sure they have it. She said her father would ask. So we went back and of course they were on the other side of the aisle on an end cap. Duh, Erin! I was in too big of a hurry. But yeah! We got them! My next step was going to have to be wet paper towells. I called Joey to see how things were going and he said good, couldn't really get MOllie to sleep though. She has been sick with a cold and really struggling. (Please pray that she is better before our flights!) Anyway, then Alexander took me to purchase some amber jewelry. 99% of the worlds amber comes from Kaliningrad so that is definately the souvenier to take plus I hear it's value is going up and it really is pretty. I picked some pieces for me, some special people back home, and some for the kids future. It was on a boardwalk type area with about 20 amber vendors, handmade jewelry. I am pretty proud of myself for being bold and communicating and such. I did well until the last lady tried to rip me off. I stood strong (and only let her rip me off a little-ha!)

I got home and everyone was awake and happy. We fed the kids an early dinner and started bath time. Put Mollie down at 7:30. She should sleep a very good night. Poor girl was so tired she was practically falling over and would not stop crying. She is really a pleaser. YOu have to smile at her and give your approval after saying No, no so she knows everything is okay before she can go to sleep. I kept saying no, no pointing to her mouth to try to tell her to quit whining. I think she just doesn't feel well. So I rocked her a bit. Yes! I did! She actually let me for about 5 minutes! And then she peacefully went to sleep. Jones on the other hand is pretty hyper tonight. He keeps going through the picture book and memorizing all the family and our house. So I showed him more pics on the computer of family and friends. He loved it and started cracking up laughing at some of the silly pics of Mollie. He was pretty cute tonight. He is growing and changing more everyday. He really is a sweetheart. A TALKATIVE sweetheart! I think he may finally be asleep. Joey and I are hanging out in the kitchen. Woop! Woop! Yeah, I know. Lots of fun. I am blogging and emailing and Joey is playing Suduko on his DS. We are going to be early. We are so tired.

We thought we would take it easy tomorrow because the kids have had some overwhelming days with many more to come soon........can you say........MOSCOW! But Tatiana called and said we have 3 appointments in the morning that we all have to go to and it will take about 2 hours. Oh. That will be difficult with two kids (one little one especially) who does NOT like the car! That's it. I am bringing the DVD player this time! I hope it works. Pray for us if you get a chance. Also for the upcoming plane rides. We need an immense amount of God's grace and mercy for that.
Well, we are going to hit the sack. Talk to you tomorrow. Love each of you so much.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Busy busy day

Can you believe it? It tis true. We had a busy day. Morning was usual but in the afternoon we decided to take a long walk far far to the park with the black gate. It was pretty cool. It had all kind of amusements and kiddie rides including pony rides. They had all kinds of food vendors and balloons, etc. It was really cool and a really big pretty park too. Jones did not want to do anything, too shy I think so we just bought him an ice cream cone (which it took him FOREVER to eat like everything) and bought him a balloon. Spiderman in a heart was his choice. The lady knew we didn't speak Russian but I think it confused her when he did she just kept talking and talking to us. The kids had a good time but it was a long walk back and I think a bit too much stimulation maybe. I don't know. We had company this evening too. The other American couple- the Johnson's arrived today and they came over and had pizza for a few hours. That was nice to speak English with someone. Bob knew Russian so he also talked to Jones. Jones was a little too hyper but it was a very big day. Mollie is having one heck of a time sleeping. WE put her down an hour and 15 minutes ago and we have been taking turns. She can't really breathe because of her cold and she has been crying so I finally am just typing this blog next to her waiting for her to fall asleep because I can't just lay here anymore. I am going to see if it works. It is not like this page is really exciting to her or anything and who knows maybe the sound of my typing will soothe her. It is a late crazy night for us. I think Jones will have a hard time falling asleep too. Joey and I are going to try to calm ourselves down with talking in the kitchen (where we are now limited to), taking our showers, and maybe watching a short bit of a movie. The Shrek 2 we bought for Jones in Russian also comes in English- WooHOO BONUS for Mommy & Daddy! An extra movie for us!

Tomorrow morning we are supposed to be picked up at 10am to go to the zoo. I hope the morning goes smoothly after such a rough night. It was very cute tonight though. We were visiting with our guests and I peeked to see what the kids were doing and they were playing together in the bedroom and reading together. It was sweet. I haven't seen much of that togetherness yet except after their nap. You will never believe it. I had to crack up. Hope you find it funny too although it is a bit disgusting. Joey and I were in the living room with the door shut trying to be quiet while the kids napped. Well, at 3 I went in to wake them up and I noticed they were not in their beds. I went in the bathroom and there is Jones peeing and there is Mollie with her hands on the seat just observing how it's done! Okay, pretty gross, I washed her hands in VERY warm water and said "NO NO" but inside I had to smile just a teeny bit because it was one of their first togetherness moments.

Oh, one other moment I forgot to mention last night. Tatiana called to check on things and we let her talk to Vadim (who was previously afraid of phones and cameras) and he actually had a long conversation with her. Then she said he said "Everything is wonderful, I am happy. I watched a movie and I am eating dinner, etc...." We were so happy. We thought he would talk about his time out and how frustrating it is to have parents who don't understand! We were very pleased and it was confirmation that we are handling things just fine. Our guest Bob tonight said he is a clown and will surely be the class clown. I don't know what we have gotten ourselves into. It seems we have 2 huge personalities. We are excited to watch them grow and we will be sure to train them in the way they should go. Of course with help from the ONE and only who planned it all!

Family Dinner

Jones really does smile a lot I promise


Just another laundry day

Bathtub update

My PJs are too small

Saturday, June 30, 2007

By this time next week we will be home

This morning was rough. Really rough emotionally. Having Jones here really brought up many feelings I felt when Mollie first got here. It is difficult to have a child that is yours but doesn't feel like it yet, speaks another language, and is already almost 5! I can't explain it. It was just hard plus I wasn't feeling well and he wasn't really listening. He had a time out this morning which was almost impossible to explain.

I have to say though that this afternoon and evening was completely different. He is changing every hour. He is starting to listen and feel comfortable. I think he see Joey more as a playmate and me as a caregiver but he is starting to get it. We are already Momma and Papa. He did call Mollie Mollie today also! He doesn't yet know his name is Jones though. We bought him these tiny hot wheels and this thing that shoots them out and we bought batteries this afternoon at the grocery store and he loves it! Problem is it is sooooooooo loud-like louder than a vacuum! And he likes to keep it running! We did let him pick out a few treats at the grocery store. He chose chips, a yogurt drink, and and ice cream thingy-not to have all today of course!!! He is a pretty good kid and finally started attempting a little english today under his breath like chicken, out, up. Tonight before bed he wanted us to go through the family picture book and pictures of home. He is memorizing who everyone is. Can't remember all the first names yet but knows the titles in Russian. Dyedooshka- Grandpa, Babooshka- Grandma, Momma, Papa, Dye dye- uncle, Tye tye-Aunt, and Coozena- Cousin. Very sweet.

Mollie just kind of goes with the flow now. She is just really suffering with teething, a cold, and now a bit of a rash so she isn't always a happy camper lately. She is sleeping and eating good though. She has been busy observing her brother and messing up his stuff! Ha! That's what little sisters are for. He is learning how to deal with it appropriately.

And Joey and I , well we just can't wait to come home. By this time next week we will be! Praise God! We cannot wait to be near family and friends. For those of you still praying, please pray that the transition to Moscow and then home goes smoothly. I feel bad for the kids that they have to try to figure out "home" two more times. Jones is excited for the airplane but I don't think he realizes we have to take 3 and over 15 hours of flying! Pray for the plane ride. We are going to need it! We are actually kind of excited for Moscow. Lots to do there. We leave Kaliningrad on Wednesday at 6pm. Tomorrow another American couple is flying in for their first trip and we are supposed to get together. That should be nice.

Well we miss you all. Can't blog quite as long any more but appreciate your loyalty and committment to us in staying in touch. We feel so completely blessed.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Gotcha Day

Joey hates that term but what else do you say? That is what it is called in the world of adoption. The children are both officially ours. The 10 day waiting period is over. I wish that meant we didn't have to WAIT anymore to leave! We signed off papers at Mollie's orphanage this morning. Today is the 29th exactly 9 months from the day God placed this in our hearts. He is amazing with timing huh? Then we got back in the car and the clock said 11:11. I quoted Bruce Almighty( one of the only movies we brought) in saying "Now, you're just showing off." If you are wondering the signifigance you can check back to one of our beginning blogs. It is a long story but it has to do with prayer for our family. So everything is signed, sealed, and soon to be delivered!

Joey went with Tatiana to go to the grocery store, buy our plane tickets to Moscow, and pick up Jones who at the moment is still Vadim. That will be a tricky transition. He is doing well. He went potty, ate dinner, took a bath, watched a movie, and went to sleep- all no problems. He tests us here and there but we stick to it. The language is very difficult and had me almost immediately questioning what am I doing? Not that it has anything to do with him but just the whole situation. I just have to continue to look back to God's direction and how clear it was to me on September 29th and follow through. Some of the feelings I had when we first brought Mollie home are here again but because I have been through it with her I know that they will fade and I know that genuine love and bonding will grow day by day. He wanted to sleep in his own room (such a big boy! good though because he has his own room at home) and so he is in the living room on a pull out bed, fast asleep. He did not come out one time! Amazing!

Well, I need to get some sleep while I can! 8 days and we are home! Praise the Lord! Oh, I wanted to say, Tatiana was a huge help today. :)

Home sweet NO

Ready to go

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Single Digits Baby

Oh yeah! It's my birthday! Go Erin it's your birthday! Not really but there is a celebration going on here! 9 days left until we are HOME!!!!!! Also today we actually WENT SHOPPING! And tomorrow we get our SON!!! We couldn't be more excited! Joey still has his cold but we have no medicine so he is living through it! His head and chest hurt a lot. We are going to try to get some aspirin tomorrow because all they have given us is teas like thera flu type that aren't working. And Mollie definately has a cold so keep praying if you can.

Today went by quick because at 3:30 we were able to go to a mall! They don't call them malls, it is a super market to them and it does have a grocery section. Our driver Sacha is so great. We bought him a gift at the adidas store. Not too many stores we were really interested. Pretty different from home but we did get Jones a bunch of Russian DVD's like Cars, Toy Story, Bugs Life, etc.. sooooo cheap! They are dubbed over. The Cars one has only Russian and we brought our English Cars movie so that should be good for him. The rest are dubbed over so you can hear the english behind it, kind of annoying but I don't think he will care. These will be good for the plane and good until he gets to know english which I hear shouldn't take long. He will probably be catching on in 4-6 weeks. It is going to be a couple challenging months. We also bought Mollie some long pants and sleeves pajamas because it has been so cold. The looked too big for her but was only a 9 months so we bought them. Well, they are too short so we had to cut the feet out. Oh, well she can wear socks and her legs and arms will be warm. It came with a cute little cap too. She did pretty good shopping though. We were so happy. Although she was seriously not happy at Adidas. Probably because we were taking too long to pick out stuff. She is a little scared of the car when we first get in and cries really loud. Hope she does okay with the plane. We also bought gifts for Tatiana and the Director of Jones' Orphanage. This is how it works in Russian culture.

Not long now and are family will be complete(for now!) We are excited to have both kids here and together. These next few days will be challenging with the language barrier and building trust and security in Jones. Pray for us if you get a chance that the bond is quick and he is interested in english. Thank you so much. I think he is looking forward to us picking him up. Just 6 days left here and then off to Moscow.

Well, that is pretty much it for today. Mollie is quite a funny girl with tons of personality and we are really becoming a family. Love you all. Talk to you tomorrow! I will try to post more pics!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Your prayers rock

Thank you so much for your prayers! Joey is better! He is just struggling with the cold now. Mollie may be coming down with a cold now too which would not be good so go ahead and lift up some more of those rockin' prayers!!! They are heaven quakin' makes the Devil shakin'! Whatever. I am crazy.

Today went pretty well. We went to the grocery store, woo! It's so exciting I know. It wasn't even the big good one, it is our little one down the street the size of plaid pantry. We didn't get out much because all of a sudden it is soooo cold and windy. Too cold for Mollie I think. Well it took forever to get her to sleep last night and I had to get up twice in the night and move her back to her bed because I found her in the hallway! So Joey feeling so much better got up with her and fed her and let me sleep in!!! How awesome is that! He just loves her so much and is such a good Dad. He thinks she is hilarious! Boy she loves to defy her momma though. I thought "Oh, no, not this kind of mother daughter relationship! Not in my house!" but then she always wants me for everything.I don't understand. We are working it out her and me. We are starting to really develop a great bond together.

Okay, so keep your prayers coming! Tomorrow we have our 3rd opportunity to go to the mall! We have a ride. The other two we couldn't do because I was sick and then Joey so I am hoping this one takes! We just want to get the kids some stuff and want to do it before Jones comes on Friday. We are getting so excited to bring him here. Then Sunday we might meet with Bob and Lesa who I mentioned yesterday and Monday go to the zoo. Tuesday prepare to leave and Wednesday get the heck out of here!

That is pretty much the excitement for the day. Here is a list of the things Mollie has progressed and understands: lay down, time to go to sleep, bedtime, bathtime, eat, more, bite, Blue's Clues, Daddy, Mollie, no no, and she learned how to kiss! Amazing huh? Not bad for 10 days! I think we had a record tonight folks! She was down by 9:15. Wow!

Alright, well hope you are all doing well today and love your emails. Keep 'em coming! We are in the home stretch now. 10 days!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Today well, you know.

Thank you for your prayers! I think they are working! He is feeling better. His cold is still very bad but he is not quite as dizzy and vomity. Let's hope it stays that way. He can atleast talk to me now. In the car his hands and mouth went numb and he could barely come up the stairs and he was so pale it scared me but he is looking much better now and moving around good. Well Tatiana visited with another tea medicine (they don't have pills for this kind of sickness.) He couldn't take that either. He is going to take nyquil before bed. That is the last medicine I have for him. Of course he is not tired now though cause he slept all day. Tatiana and I had a nice talk and I was able to tell her all the progress Mollie had made.

Mollie has been whiny and kind of freaked out in the car a little. She cries loud! We are still figuring out her favorite comfort techniques so it makes me a little nervous to be out but Joey was sick anyway so no shopping for us. That was crappy but hopefully we will have another opportunity soon. Looks like we won't be picking Jones up until Friday. That is the legal day he is ours anyway so maybe that's for the best as long as he is okay. Tatiana just didn't think it was a good idea to get him tomorrow with Joey being sick.

There is another family here that we have not had the chance to meet. We would like to but they leave on Friday already and they are not staying near us and it is just not working out however there is yet another family on their way. My AAI consultant told me they had some questions. I emailed them. I hope we can meet up. They will be here Sunday. It was nice to meet them- Hi Bob & Lesa!

Mollie was very hard to get to bed tonight. I was with her for an hour, then Joey a 1/2 hour then I tried some techniques for 15 minutes and then Joey took the last 15 and she finally fell asleep. Wow, that was rough. She will probably sleep in now and we will need the sleep but I wonder if I should let her? Maybe just a shorter nap tomorrow. She is so well adjusted to us already I think that it is hard to remember she is still adjusting. So we are still finding out where the line is with comforting or encouraging behavior issues and when to say "No no" and such. She is already a member of the family. The bonding is going well. Some resistance here and there from her. She is quite a stinker! But we sure love her and can't wait to show her off!

Keep praying if you have the time. We appreciate each and every one.

An immediate call for prayer

Joey is very sick. I have never seen him this sick and I am very worried. We could not go shopping today. We left and drove and he was trying not to throw up the whole time and was very pale. We had to call Tatiana and tell her to tell the driver to turn around. Joey barely made it up the stairs. He has been puking since we got back. He is trying to sleep. Please pray. WE NEED his immediate healing! I don't think we are going to be able to bring Jones home tomorrow. This has me so full of fear and hard to focus on Mollie but I am trusting in the Lord's healing and I know this is simply an attack from Satan to shake us. Please pray with me. We would really appreciate it. He just threw up a bunch and he says he feels a little better. He does not want to see a doctor. He said he feels okay except the dizziness and puking.

Food in Russia

I don't think I have yet talked about the food in Russia. It is very different then home. I think we are finally getting a grip on what is what but it sure took a long time. There are not a lot of ethnics foods here although Tatiana did say they have a Japanese restaurant she likes a lot. I miss the melting pot of America. In fact I would like to go to The Melting Pot fondue restaurant when I get back. I haven't been there yet and it sounds so good.

Everything grocery shopping is different. Tatiana had to find stuff for us because it is packaged all different. For example: milk comes in a plastic bag, cream comes in a sour cream like package, cottage cheese comes squished together without the liquid in a little round plastic package. Crackers are thick and hard. We look for labels for familiar brands and those things are usually not disappointing such as M 'n' M's, sprite, potato chips, ketchup- you know all the stuff that is good for you. However coca cola lite which looks like diet coke and you expect to be diet coke is not, it is much sweeter and tastes flat to me. I cannot wait to have a REAL diet coke when I get back.

They also drink coffee or tea after every meal and even the kids drink tea with their cookies as an evening snack. The coffee is too strong. I miss starbucks! We have to drink bottled water because the water is not good for us. The yogurt is very creamy and so is the ice cream, it is not cold or hard enough. They do have these yummy bars we found though. There are all kinds and they are in the freezer department. They taste like chocolate covered cheesecake squares to us (that is the texture) but they are actually made from yogurt. The other night we made pasta with chicken. We bought a red sauce with peppers. It was so sweet. It was like pasta with ketchup! Yuck so we bought a different sauce that looked spicy like salsa and mixed it. Better.

The restaurants are decent, the ones we have been able to visit but the food is usually much more bland than you would expect. If it is seasoned it is usually with dill. They don't eat a lot of chicken here but we always strive to find it on the menu. Today we are supposed to go shopping and there is a Sbarro. I hope we get to eat there. It is the only American place in town. Sometimes we order pizza from a place over here. It is a treat but tastes very different from any of our pizzas that we know.

Anyway, we have figured out what we can survive on for the next 11 days so we will be okay. We ate our last packet of top ramen that we brought from home today. Oh, they do have good sausages. We mixed that in. Like Salami types- tons of selections and tons of white cheeses- no cheddar!

When we get to Moscow there is a Hard Rock Cafe and a McDonalds and all the adoptive familes are so excited to go have an American meal. WE are no exception! And we can't wait to arrive in America and have a REAL American meal!

Just us Girls

Cutie Pie

Monday, June 25, 2007

quick note

Sorry. I have to be super quick today. Today was super boring but I love my daughter more and more and that is good. Joey is super sick. Please pray for him. He came down with a cold/flu really bad. We don't want to catch it and we really want him healthy. He is miserable. I am praying and claiming immediate healing! Tonight was great. Lots of wonderful emails. Thanks girls! And calls from Mom and Britt. Thank you!!! We are closer to coming home so that makes me happy. I love you all. Will write more tomorrow. We HAVE to get to bed. Joey already took his nyquil and I don't like to go to bed alone. I can hardly sleep here as it is! Talk to you all tomorrow.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I am buying my daughter a HELMET!!!

Mollie is a crazy little girl! She throws her head around sometimes without caution or jumps of things that are dangerous! I am constantly trying to catch her flailing head! So today I said- "Joey I am going to make her wear a helmet! She worries me! She is going to cause herself brain damage!" He said "No, it will only encourage her." Ha! Well, then she fell off the bed and bonked her head. It sounded horrible! But I think it scared her more than it hurt. The bed is only about 9" off the ground. She did scratch her nose and lip though. Oh, pray that she is more careful with her precious little head.

She is also a very funny girl. I think she feels more and more safe and comfortable everyday. Today was probably the best the connection has been so far. She was just singing, laughing, and talking all day until the fussiness started at night which I think is related to the teething. One funny very tricky little thing that happened was we were pretending to stir food in a bowl and eat it. We were feeding each other then she kept trying to feed me and then would get mad at me and run away crying/whining or throw herself down. This happened about 5 or 6 times and I tried all different ways- opening my mouth, taking the spoon, keeping my mouth closed, etc. I said " I don't know what I am doing wrong!!!" Joey said "Are you kidding me? She is tricking you!" as he laughed at me hysterically. She was whining because I would try to cheer her up by tickling her which she loves. So there she was over in the corner whining with a grin on her face. I had to giggle a little but realized we won't be encouraging that game, that's for sure! We took a short walk today and she took a good nap. Joey put her to sleep for me tonight which was nice. She rocks herself but it takes a good hour and it is heart breaking for me to watch her. I wasn't sure if she would let him but she did after a little crying. They are bonding closer and closer too. Joey is so great with her. He adores her.

Joey's Dad called today, they are on their way to the beach to celebrate their anniversary. Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad Waller! Guess what we are getting you this year? Two grandchildren! My parents are on their way to Vegas with Brandon for convention. It is so hot there right now! I love family vacation but do not envy the heat! My Aunt & Uncle and cousin (s?) will be there too. I went one year and it was so much fun. I miss being with you guys! My sis should be calling me tonight which is your morning. I am looking forward to that!

Oh,I forgot to tell you something funny. When we first arrived in this apartment our bedding was folded on the bed. We pulled it out and had no idea what to do with it so we just kind of made it up. There was a big fuzzy blanket laid out on the bed and we left it there. So there were about 4 duvet covers, 2 of them pure white. THey do not open like ours at home. THey just have a diamond cut out of the middle of one side. We were like "How do we do this?" So we just fished around in there until we matched up corners with the blankets. The blankets are terry cloth like queen size towels! So weird! For those of you that are familiar with this European way, please excuse our being naive. So we used one as a bottom sheet, two for blankets, and the fourth we laid down for Mollie. And the bath towels here are the size of hand towels at home! Cracks me up. It was not that way in the hotel though.

I just want to thank everyone again for all your emails and our families calls. It is really amazing and so many of my relationships are growing simply by emailing everyday. It is amazing how God works. I see such a bigger picture. It keeps me going. This has been such a difficult thing, the emotions of adoption are sometimes overwhelming and unexpected. It has been wonderful to not travel this road alone. Today is our half way point- day 13. Just 13 to go. Woo Hoo! We are closer to coming home now. Thank goodness! If you are praying, our current prayer requests are: emotions, homesickness, bonding with the kids, picking up Jones on Wednesday and finding things to do. If you would like us to pray for anything, just email us at missnloveyou@yahoo.com. We would love to do that.

Just a quick note: we are having problems posting pictures on our blog so unfortunately we may have to wait and show you when we get home. Sorry.
We love you. Goodnight from the Waller family.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

She likes it!

I didn't know what to title today so I thought "she likes it" because Mollie seems to like everything we feed her. Today we tried a baby food with salmon in it (yuck! Joey and I hate seafood but we are working on it because we want our kids to enjoy it) and she really liked it. I am so glad. Starting throwing a fit near the end. She turns her head practically around backward and rubs her face on the back of the stroller. It is soooo hard for me to keep my patience when she does that. She is also very independant. At the orphanage she was learning to feed herself with a spoon so we hold the spoon together and it goes pretty good except sometimes she just trys to get it away and flip it upside down (and boy does she have upper body strength! I think it is from all that rocking at night.) Today she flung salmon across the room. I had to let Joey take over. Just being honest. I didn't want to be angry but it was a long day and I was just done. I didn't do anything just wasn't smiling and felt angry in my heart. I went a prayed for God to give me more strength and compassion and patience. It worked.

Joey has turned my baby carrying sling (which unfortunately too big) into a swing and she just loves it! She just laughs and giggles the whole time. Their relationship is still growing everyday and actually mine is with her as well. We went on a short walk and that was nice to get out. We are going on a long one tomorrow. We are going to try to make it to an actual shoppable store! So overall today was good. Just playing and laughing and whining. She is teething like crazy so I have had to keep up on the tylenol but we are going to try to find some numbing medicine for her. She is chewing on everything! We froze her teether. She kind of likes it but not for long. She also keeps her fingers in her mouth all the time.

Well, Joey and I are going to try to have a date night in before bed. We are watching Bruce Almighty again and having ice cream!

Friday, June 22, 2007

A visit with Jones

FIrst of all, let me say- Your emails are keeping me alive! Thank you for being such a blessing! Everyone has been so loyal. We had a wonderful day yesterday. Mollie is changing so much, she is feeling safe and happy and I even caught her singing today. SHe is a little goof ball anyway. She had a very rough night. She woke up when we went to bed and it took 4 hours for any of us to get to sleep. I cannot hold her and comfort her. It is hard. She has to rock side to side rapidly with her fingers in her mouth and her other hand in her hair. It is her way of falling asleep. I kept crying out to God for mercy on her and us! But I guess His answer was for us to stick it out. We did and today wasn't quite as bad as I thought despite the lack of sleep. It just breaks my heart how laborious it is for her to go to sleep though. Tonight is Friday night and tomorrow Saturday so please pray that the neighborhood noise stays at an even level. It can be very loud on weekends and the party never starts until midnight! The sun doesn't go down here until after 11 either.

Well, emotionally my days are pretty good. Joey is such a strength to me. He has stepped in when I just can't take it. She is so attached to me and it makes it hard for me to even go potty so she is kind of forced to let Joey comfort her and they have started to play and she lets him feed her now. My nights are a little rough with homesickness but we have been trying to watch parts of our American movies just before bed to help us feel at home. Plus Mom and Britt and Dad have been calling. I actually talked to Livi tonight! Woo Hoo! I felt better. I think she understands I love her. THey are going on their own vacation soon anyway. I talked to Jack too! That felt great.

Joey visited Jones today and it was good but a little awkward. There was not an interpreter and Joey thought they were going to a store to bring apples but that didn't happen either so he showed up empty handed with no communication. Oops. We thought he would observe the camp but instead they were in a tiny room just the two of them. Jones searched Joey for toys. Came up empty handed so they played with what was there. Joey called Tatiana to explain to him that we would pick him up Wednesday. He wanted nothing to do with the phone so the driver came in and explained it. He is fine with it. He is really happy right now at camp. It is better for him. We will pick him up Wed and still have a week before going to Moscow.

Joey went to the grocery store but we did not all go out shopping because of our rough night and I wasn't feeling well. The day was pretty decent though. She is such a funny character! And she eats everything we give her! Yeah! She also has three new teeth coming in and her walking is getting so much stronger. She is changins so much.

Well, we are going to catch some shut eye while we can. If you are reading this, send us a back dated prayer or actually with the time change, um........ well, anyway, that she doesn't wake up when we move her this time! Ha! For all our sakes!

Lastly- Happy 33rd anniversary MOM & DAD! You are the greatest parents ever! THank you for leading by such a great example of what it means to stick it together through thick and thin, rich and poor, and all that good stuff. Love you more than you know and admire you and am thankful for you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Better Day

Thank you everyone for your email support. And my family for calling. I have to admit last night was bad, bad, bad for me. I took a shower and thanked the LOrd for everyone and everything, took a tylenol PM and went to bed. Today was much better emotionally and also with Mollie. We had a good day and it went by pretty fast. She is finally letting Joey feed her and comfort her sometimes. I just really have to stay back so that she doesn't have a choice but to let him. I think it's working. I would say their relationship grew in leaps and bounds. Smooth day all together. She is eating more which is good and sleeping more regular. Still moves around so much at night though. She rocked herself all the way to the bedroom door where I found her this morning. I really am going to try the suitcase tonight. Mom, & Britt called today and that was nice. I talked to Livi which was great just trying not to cry. The night is coming and that is always hard for me and my mind runs free. I am trying to keep it focused. I just wish Livi was old enough to understand. Last night I called Mom on my $6 a minute cell just so desperately needed to hear their voices. Dad called me and prayed with me. THanks Mom and Dad. I really needed you.

Tomorrow Joey is going to Jones' camp to visit and take snacks and talk to him about everything. WE are not going to bring him here until Wednesday for his sake. He wouldn't like it for that long. The 7 days he will be here is actually stretching it. We will see how the visit goes.

Thanks again everyone. I will write more tomorrow. I really need this evening with Joey. Oh, by the way, Mollie loves to be tickled. Keep emailing. Love you all.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Rough

Mollie had a rough morning crying a lot not wanting to leave my side but after her nap she was as happy as could be so she must have just been really tired. My emotions are crazy today. I miss my neice Livi. I can't even sing my new daughter songs because I just start crying thinking of Livi. And actually I really miss everything today and I do not know how I am going to make it through this time. I am crying out to Jesus. I know this will all be so joyful and rewarding for Joey & I and these two deserving kids when this is all over but right now I feel like just packing and going home. It really has nothing to do with the kids but everything to do with being in another country and being away from those you love. I don't know what to say. I don't really have anything else to say. My heart is breaking. Sorry.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A day of Oops.

Well, today started off really well. Mollie didn't wake up until about 8! Oops! That is about an hour later than her schedule. We all needed it though. We fed her breakfast which consisted of cottage cheese (which here is like our cottage cheese squeezed as hard as you can without liquid in a little package the shape of a cheese ball) mixed with cream and sugar. Eewww. She loved it. Except... we accidentally mixed it with yogurt. The plain yogurt is in a plastic bag container that is a drink. The cream is actually in a little sour cream like container. Oops again! Oh, well she liked it. I gave her some bites of bananna also. My Aunt Lisa called shortly after and that was a treat! It was so good to talk to her. Sorry I had to go so quick Aunt Lisa. Then we played and played and played and played until snack time at 10 and again until lunch at 12. She had the rest of her dinner last night. Then we all layed down for a nap. It took awhile for her to fall asleep. She slept for about an hour (her naps are supposed to be 2 1/2 hours) and woke up as we tried to sneak out of the bed. Oops again. Oh,well there was no way she was going back to sleep. We took a short walk around the neighborhood and picked up some more bottled water at the store. We came back and gave her a little more freedom roaming the apartment with a toy she found here. We were testing to see how it went. I checked my email really quick and Joey played his Nintendo DS. She did really good and seemed to be enjoying her independance.

At 7pm it was dinner time. Wow, we are back on schedule. We fed her baby cereal. Near the end of her meal she just looked up at Joey and started to cry. It kind of freaked us out. We didn't know if she was hurting or was scared of Joey for a second or was done and didn't know how to tell us or what! Then I thought maybe the cereal reminded her of the orphanage and she was realizing that she wasn't there. We still don't know but it made me sad. She was pretty fussy the rest of the night. I think the short nap didn't help. We tried to keep her happy playing but she just kept getting upset. There were moments of fun for her but she just wasn't happy. I gave her a bath which I think she liked and then put her to bed. Joey came in also and we layed there an hour until she fell asleep. She was so tired. I was surprised it took her so long to conk out. I played a lullabye CD and I think it helped drown out the passing traffic. It is also very hard because it is light out until about 11pm or shortly after. She had a difficult time and kept wanting to get up but she is sleeping peacefully now. This morning when I woke up she had moved from a makeshift bed we prepared for her all the way across the room on the floor, no blankets, nothing, passed out near our bed. Crazy kid. She moves so much during the night and she hates blankets but I keep putting them on her anyway. Tonight we changed her makeshift bed and put it in one of the big suitcases. I am not sure what else to do. We will move her from our bed into it soon when we go to bed. It is stacked up with pillows and looks pretty cozy but should atleast contain her rolling. We will see.

Tomorrow we are going to try to walk very far again. This time we are going to try to make it to another cafe and a toy store. We will see if we can do it. It is pretty hard on these broken roads with an umbrella stroller plus we have to time it with her schedule. It might be about 5 miles round trip. Not sure if it will work but we are giving it a whirl, nothing better to do and she likes the walks.

We are ready to get Jones and come home. It is hard to hang out here so long. We have to be so creative with play and meals and we just feel a bit trapped. The days are tick tocking so slowly. 15 more days in Kalingrad and then 3 in Moscow. uugh. We miss all of you back home so much. Thank you for writing and calling. It is the best thing to hear from you. The highlight of our day. We hope to have a better day tomorrow not that this one was bad but we just hope our little girl is happy.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Mollie


We are Parents!!!

Well today went perfect! We woke up on time, got ready and time, and made it to court on time. The courtroom was a small room with a chair for the judge and chairs for the social worker, orphanage directors, and the prosecuter. There was a podium for Joey and I. The judge had purple/black hair. She was really really nice. Joey answered all the questions perfect and then they asked me just as many! But I think I did okay. Then the social worker and orphanage directors spoke on our behalf and then the decisions was made- we are legally the adoptive parents of Masha & Vadim, now names Mollie & Jones! The judge held my hand afterward and said "now you are a momma." I felt like she could really feel my heart.

We then took a break and went to the grocery store and bought more minutes for our phone so I could keep up with the internet. Then at 3pm Tatiana picked us up to go get Mollie! We met with the director for a minute and gave her a gift and the gifts for the caregivers & physician (this is a custom in Russia.) After that we went into the baby home and there was Masha. We caught her during snack time but she got right up and started walking to me very excited. That was soooooo precious. We changed her clothes and returned the clothes she had on to the orphanage. It is so exciting to see her in normal clothes! They gave us back our family/home picture album we had left with her the first time and we got in the care and left. Weird. It was an odd feeling. I guess we are not really even supposed to have her until after the 10 days but they let us. We signed a written document that said we are taking responsibility for her.

They don't wear seatbelts or use car seats here so we just had her loose in the back. It felt very wrong! She was very active but having a blast! We got back to the apartment and let her walk around and familiarize herself with the rooms. Then we got out all her toys and we played until about 7pm. Then we fed her 1/2 a larger jar of baby food. It was chicken, peas, carrots, and noodles. She really liked it. She got one baby cookie for dessert and some water. I bought a non-spill straw sippy cup she loves but can't figure out and a bottle just in case. SHe just kept pushing and biting the bottle and got water everywhere but loved it! She has been kind of attached to me but very friendly with Joey also. After dinner I gave her a bath. I was nervous because in her age group at the orphanage they are showered down and it is not a pleasant time. I went to draw her a bath while she was finishing dinner with Joey so that it would not be running and scare her and would also be the right temperature. She was nervous at first but I showed her toys and she got over it and seemed to enjoy it. She kept touching the water in amazement. We cleaned her up and brushed her 4 teeth and put her cute striped PJ's on that Auntie Britty bought her. She looks so cute. Then we layed down with her on the bed since we don't have a crib. The orphanage told us the kids go to bed at 8;30 but Mollie stays up until 9:30. THey said she just plays quietly in her crib. We layed down at 8:10 and she did stay awake quietly until 9:30- no fussing though! She kind of rocked herself laying down side to side (the only sign of institutionalism I can really see besides her size) and that was odd but it was obviously the way she puts herself to sleep. Now she is out like a light. I told you- it was perfect. Joey and I are going to head to bed here soon also. I think we will transfer her to the cozy carpet where I have prepared a bed for her. Joey and I had pizza for dinner to make it easy but for lunch Joey made yummy chicken and vegetables. I think we will be eating that a lot!

That is it for now. I will try to post a couple pics. Keep us in your prayers. Now it is just a waiting game until July 7th. Love you all. Thank you Mom & Dad, Bran, Jam, Alex, Britt, Jer, Livi, & Jack for calling and praying this morning my time. It meant alot! And thanks for the call tonight Britt! You guys rock! And thank you everyone who wrote comforting emails last night and this morning. I really needed it.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Thank You Jesus.

I am so very thankful to Jesus to placing this dream and faith in our hearts. I am so very thankful that he has brought friends in our lives that love us and given us a family that I wouldn't trade for anything. I know he has our best interests at heart. He knows the future of Joey, myself, Jones, & Mollie. I do not doubt for a second that there will many challenges along the way but that are lives are going to be filled with such joy, and love, and it is my prayer that we will continually be used by Him. I am thankful through the pain and uncomfortableness of this place and of this night.

I can't sleep. I am feeling alone. I am missing home sooooooooo much. I have to get up in 6 hours for court and I assuming that is why I cannot sleep. I don't feel nervous about it but I bet somewhere inside I am. I think I am more nervous about the family part. I have grown to love these children because they are sweet children in need of a home and I feel that they are God's blessing in our lives. But I wonder how will I love them enough? I don't doubt that I have it in me but it is very hard to imagine right now and that sort of scares me. I love my friend's children deeply, I have loved the children I have nannied. And the love I have for Jack & Livi is so deep that I would just die without it. I want to love my kids THAT much. In my mind and my faith I know I will. They are completely loveable and deserving of it. It is just hard to wrap my mind around and here I go tomorrow signing responsibility for their life. It is scary. I think it is much harder because I am in this place and it is just Joey and I. We rest in the Lord's hands. Near Him is the safest place. I just wish I could go home tonight. I miss my house, my bed, my bathroom, my kitchen, my family, my friends, my church, my grocery store, etc... When I am here it is hard to imagine life at home. Sometimes you forget that you have it, you know? I am just extremely home sick tonight and I need to sleep but can't.

Thank you for walking this road with me and encouraging me. You are all priceless. I hope you don't mind me sharing my honesty. Join with me in prayer if you get the chance. I hope you are having a great day. I am wishing I was where it is 4:30pm.

And Jesus, I love you and I do indeed trust you. Please bring me through this and please help me sleep. Give me your love that I could love my children the way you do. Thank you for my family and friends. I am truly truly thankful & blessed.

Hum Drum

Today was sort of a hum drum day. We didn't do much of anything. We took this last chance opportunity to relax. We played flip words on the computer, studied for court, and watched a movie. We are just getting ready for bed now. We have to get up early for court. Tomorrow is definately a prayer needing day. Pray for court and also for our family as we pick up Mollie. This will be a transition time for the three of us and then we will pick up Jones later in the week. Please pray that the judge is merciful and kind. Pray that Joey is able to remember all he has to say. I am not really allowed to say anything except "I agree with everything my husband has said" and then a little part at the end if I want. I am not too nervous but I know as the hours go on I most likely will be. Okay, well that's it for now. I love all the calls and emails, keep them coming! Love ya. More excitement tomorrow.

P.S. Last night was super loud starting at 3am with loud music and a car alarm that went off aprox 30 times before the owner finally drove away. Annoying!!!!!!!!! So I ended up sleeping in until 11!!! It is one thing for me but when we have kids... well...pray that it doesn't happen again.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Happy Father's Day!!! (We can say that! It's after midnight here.)

Dad,
I hope you have a happy father's day. Thanks for being fun to hang out with and always being there. I am glad we like to do a lot of the same things. Er and I love spending time with you. We love ya,
Joe


Daddy,
I miss you like crazy and I wish I could be there with you today. I am so glad we just were able to talk a few hours ago. I am sorry I forgot to say it then but that was too early anyway right? But now I can... Happy Father's Day! I hope you have an excellent, fun, relaxing day! Thank you for being a great Dad. You have worked so hard your whole life to provide for all us kids and gone above and beyond in so many ways especially vacations. You have never let us fall. You are always there for us. Thank you for supporting me in my life especially right now when it means the most. It would be kind of counter active to buy you a gift right now but hey how about I bring home a couple live souveniers? Sound good? I love you with all my heart and I am so proud to be called your daughter. See you in like 20 days! Uugh.
Love you more than you know,
Erin (Squirt #1)

Jones' bed at the orphanage.

Jones' bathroom at the orphanage.

Jones' playroom at the orphanage.

Jones' Paternal Grandma and Great Grandma

Dinner when we were at the hotel.

Joey studying his Russian.

Double door protection! (Actually we are told it is very safe here.)

Little blue bathroom with big blue tub

Bedroom

Living Room/Kids Room

Hallway/Entry

Kitchen/Dining/Laundry

Jones did not want to share his new things!

Mollie Masha

Watch out for bombs!

Last night we went to bed around 10 and then all of a sudden there was loud booming outside. I said “Do you think it is fireworks?” Joey said “I don’t know” and went back to sleep. I got up and looked out the window and watched them for awhile. They did it in two faces. I made Joey get up and watch for a second and give me a quick kiss to celebrate our own early 4th of July since we won’t be home. I love the 4th of July! Oh, well, there is always next year, Lord willing. When they were over I went to bed and read for awhile and finally fell asleep around 11 or 11:30pm. Then at 2:15am I was awakened again by booming. I thought “What is going on?!” I looked outside the kitchen windows and saw the sky continually lighting up but could not see the actual strike of lightening so I started wondering if some crazy bomb testing was going on behind the trees and then my imagination raced to “What if Poland and Lithuania got into a fight and we were caught in the middle?!” Remember this was the middle of the night and I wasn’t in my right mind. The booming took place long after light and as far as I have ever learned we counted seconds to determine how far away it was. But this was not calculating because it was such a long period of time in between and yet it seemed so close. What do I know. I woke Joey up because I was a little scared being our first night here and I am still adjusting and something just didn’t feel right. He confirmed to me that it wasn’t bombs but only lighting and that I needed to go back asleep. I did. I did have terrible dreams last night though. Might have been the cookies before bed.
This morning I did not wake up until 9:30! That is pretty late since we have been getting up much earlier. I had a usual pop tart for breakfast ( almost running out, not sure what I will do since the milk here is way sweeter and cereal would not taste good and other breakfast foods sound disgusting right now.) I put some loungy clothes on and straightened my hair. Joey played video games. Tatiana came around 11:30 this morning to prepare us for court. She has another family arriving tomorrow for their first trip so I think she is going to be busy and we will probably not see her much for this next week. Not sure what we will do with our time. We have a list of things we want to do at least once: zoo, shopping mall, Sbarro for dinner (American- woohoo!), amber store, toy store (for the kids), and the waterfront. Hope we get to because that will break up the weeks. There will be lots to do in Moscow within walking distance. Where we are now there is a park, a small grocery store, and the lake. These things will be good to walk to but I am sure will get old after a few trips.
We finally decided to get out of the flat (that is what they call it in Europe.) We wanted to walk as far as we could walk and see what we could see so when we have the kids we know what we can do. Our goal was to make it to 12 Chairs which is a restaurant we have visited on both trips and know very well. We had an extra incentive involved as well…we were hungry! On the way we saw the park which was basically a memorial with overgrown weeds and grass and the lake which was covered with algae. We reached our goal and ended our walk at 12 Chairs. We sat down in the cave like underground restaurant (it is located under a theatre) at our usual table. They are getting used to us now and automatically bring us English menus. Today we were the only people there. It was at 4pm. Joey tried “beef Figaro” and “china city salad.” We were hoping it was an Asian chicken salad and some kind of Italian style beef. Well the salad was rice and some sort of seafood displayed nicely in a dessert style bowl (Joey at it, I would not try it!) and the beef was like chicken fried soft mushy steak with a decorative cocktail sauce on the side. This restaurant does do a great job with presentation I have to say. Last time I had the “Butterfly Chicken.” It came with chicken breasts on each side with a sauce and cheese on them as the wings and in the middle was two red pepper strips with olive halves up the center as the body and chives as antennae. I wanted to take a picture for Annie B. (I don’t even know if you like them anymore but I always think of you.) Today I had “stuffed chicken Michelle.” It wasn’t really stuffed. It had cheese on top. And I tried a coffee milkshake thingy. Um, no that cold, kind of bitter. Uugh. We always think things are going to be so good and then they are not. Oh, well. Joey and I had great conversation at lunch talking about our kids and all of you back home. We had a good time. Then we heard the thunder and thought “OH NO, we just walked as far as we could (well, maybe not that far but a long way) and now it is going to downpour because when it rains here, it RAINS! By the time we left the restaurant the rain had passed. Woo Hoo! On the way home we passed a bakery and a candy store! Yeah, at least we can walk the kids there! Somewhere! We also decided to take pictures of all the kinds of wrought iron. The Russian iron work is sooooooooooo beautiful. We are going to make a collage of pictures at home and hang it in our stairway I think. We came back and went over the court information. Then my Dad called. Yeah! We talked for a long time and that was great. I love you Dad! Then the rain came bursting from the sky again. I just had to video tape it and the thunder was soooooooo loud and the lightening so bright. The thunder set off seven car alarms in front of the building! I got it on video! And ever since then, Joey and I have been playing this addicting game on the computer that downloaded when we did the update called Flip Words. It is so fun. We are now going to watch a movie and go to bed. We are staying up late tonight because we are having fun and we don’ t have kids yet! Haha! Not for long. Oh, I almost forgot. You are going to think this is so funny. Okay so the bath tub is big and blue and there are no walls and no curtains but there is a shower thingy (you know, the kind you hold?) Well, I just cannot bring myself to sit in someone else’s tub just yet so I am standing up in this tub holding the shower thingy over my head getting water everywhere! Then Joey takes his and he sits! He looks like the old old days when (at least on TV and movies) adults sit in gigantic bath buckets! It was very funny looking. You may have had to see it to get the full hilarity of it.
So that’s it for today. We resized a bunch of pics so I will try to post them finally. Joey downloaded like 3500 pics on my computer before we left and I was so mad but now I am so grateful because I can just sit and stare at all of you whenever I want. I have been organizing them today. I love organization! Good night! Actually- you guys have a good day! Saturday is long gone for me. One more day and we will be parents.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Meeting the Grandmas

Today was a very interesting day. We started off by waking up at 6am because one of the cell phones alarms was accidentally still set and we couldn’t get back to sleep so I am pretty tired right now. It is about 8:45pm. Then we packed up our stuff and moved to the apartment. It has a small kitchen w/table, living room with door to close when kids are sleeping, hallway/entry, tiny bathroom/big blue tub, and a bedroom where Joey and I will sleep. It is definitely decent and we can cook and do laundry but of course I am having a hard time adjusting. I wish I did better with stuff like that. I just have a hard time using other people’s stuff so even though her house is really clean, I went around with wet wipes (thank you Brittany) and disinfected remotes, counters, light switches and stuff like that. I know I am kind of weird. Whatever.
We then proceeded to Jones’ orphanage to spend some time with him before he leaves for camp. The kids go to camp for 2 months. We will of course pick him up from there but the date keeps getting pushed back. We are now thinking of picking him up on Friday just to give him this last bit of fun at camp with his friends and he gets to be “by the sea” as Tatiana says it. It will also give us time to adapt to Mollie and her schedule first. I feel okay because we have been able to explain things to Jones so he knows what is coming. Mollie has no idea so she will have to live it to understand. I also don’t want Jones to feel uncomfortable if Mollie is inconsolable or something. He is very protective of her. At the orphanage he played with his friends and we brought snacks for him to share but when they started grabbing some he flipped out and chased them down trying to hit them and he was crying. I asked Tatiana to please tell him we would like him to share but she said he doesn’t have a problem sharing but he is upset because they did not ask permission. I understand. This also happened with the toys. He ran around the back of the building crying. This was my first opportunity as comforter. I went and picked him up and held him. He started to grin and then would fake cry for more. This was a test I think for him to see how I would be there so I caved into it to a point. Next…………..
SURPRISE! What? His Grandma has been visiting him ( we didn’t know this, we were told no one visited but I guess they were talking about Mollie when they told us that) and she showed up with the Great-Grandma! They were both very tearful but very kind. They expressed through Tatiana that they have mixed feelings. They are going to miss him so much but they just cannot afford to raise him and they believe he should have a father and mother. They cried, I cried, we hugged. She would like me to call a couple times a year. We don’t have to but I probably will. Jones greeted her and introduced us to her as Mama & Papa. This is a HUGE step, especially to his family! He also introduced us that way to his friends and caregivers. He also said he is going to live in a different country and he sounded proud. Wow, someone must have told him, but I am very glad. His Grandma gave me pictures of Jones growing up and guess what? The original referral picture we received of Mollie was not Mollie- it was Jones!!! No wonder it didn’t look like her! They also gave us a picture of his father. Very handsome & young. She explained that he died 3 years ago. He was very healthy but was out walking or running and something just happened with his heart and he died instantly. Let’s pray this isn’t hereditary. Anyway- so this must mean that the kids have different fathers. This also explains why Mollie has no visitors but Jones does.
We went inside the orphanage and were able to see his locker, playroom, table, bathroom, and bedroom. All very large, clean, and colorful. Very warm and inviting and looked very fun. Really nice looking. I will try to post pics. I was impressed. I am hoping he is okay with leaving it behind. After the orphanage we went to the big grocery store. We purchased about $120 worth of groceries and tried to buy similar things like home- fruits, frozen veggies, chicken, pasta sauce, ground beef, and spices. Tatiana helped us pick out some food for the kids as well. In the morning Jones usually has bread with butter and soft cheese on it (this explains the bread, butter, and soft cheese on the plane that we are never sure what to do with) and cottage cheese ( think of our cottage cheese minus the liquid and squished together) mixed with cream and sugar. Yuck. Doesn’t sound good to me but of course I am American and we are not used to that. She also had us by some cocoa puff type cereal. The milk is much sweeter though and comes in a box. For Mollie we bought baby foods and yogurt and an oatmeal type cereal that is ground up. It was an interesting but fun trip. I went upstairs to the other store section and bought a cool pair of shoes as I am in need of some comfort shoes that are not flip flops because it is colder than expected. I saw these shoes last time I was there and thought they would be fun to get and a travel hair straightener as mine would not heat up this morning. Joey and I got back and had tuna snack packs with crackers that I brought from home- not that good.
Around 3pm we went to visit Mollie. It went well. She was quiet at first because I think she had just woken up. She acted like she didn’t know who we were which is weird because we have visited 4 times over the last 2 days. She warmed up quickly and we try to distract her from the ground. She loves the little fruit puff dissolvable cereal we brought. She comes running when she hears me shake the tube full of them. Over all it was a good day. I can’t wait until court on Monday when the kids will be ours and we can start bonding with Mollie and then soon with Jones. I will really try to post pics soon. Not too many of the kids yet. It is hard to take pics when you are playing with them. I am sure all you parents have experienced that.
Keep your calls and emails coming. We love hearing from you. It is a real treat during the day and it helps keep a strong connection with home. Thank you sooooooooooooo much.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

$$$$$$$$$$

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you. We needed to exchange money today and we decided on about $4000 hoping that would cover most of our expenses in Kaliningrad. It was so weird, we drove up to this parking lot and these guys passed money in the car 100,000 rubles and our driver Sasha counted it. Once he said it was good we passed the $4,000 out the window and left. Felt a little drug deal shady to us. Crazy! But we have to trust Tatiana. She said everyone knows these guys and it is the best exchange rate. Something we'll remember. I felt like we were in a movie.

Testing Boundaries

Hi Everyone. We miss you soooooooo much. Britt, I haven't heard from you yet!? I talked to Livi and Mom on the phone and sang Livi a song. I miss her. Well, we are doing good. Things felt like perfection this morning. Last night I stayed up really late and organized all the suitcases. good thing too, we are moving tomorrow. This morning I was able to straighten my hair and use many other conveniences. It makes such a difference being on our SECOND trip. We learned what we needed on our first trip. We went to visit the kids this morning. We picked up Jones as usual and went to Mollie's orphanage and played outside. It was challenging. Jones wasn't really interested in the toys (we bring new ones everyday) but he liked the snacks, especially the snacks we brought for Mollie (little fruit cereal puffs.) He respected our backpack full of toys and asked with his actions if he could get inside. Joey said "Da" which means yes. He then felt more comfortable and started to play with the toys. Joey chased him around and they seemed to bond he even rested his arm on Joey on the way back. In the middle of our visit he started climbing up this structure and I would say "Nyet" meaning no and he would laugh. I did it over and over and got down on his level and looked him in the eye and said "Nyet." Joey took over after that and distracted him. Mollie wasn't too happy this morning. She seemed tired. She just wanted to crawl on the grass which she is not allowed to do especially with shorts on.

For our lunch break we walked to 12 chairs which we have been to on our last trip a couple times and we enjoyed our meal, we then went to the grocery store and bought more water and some sausage for our top ramen we are having for dinner. Then we were picked up for our second visit. We picked up Jones and learned that we will have custody of him as of Monday but can choose to pick him up any day. This may seem weird but we may wait a day or two so that we can establish Mollie's schedule first and allow Jones extra time with his friends. He is going camping tomorrow so we will only see him in the morning. We will talk with his caregivers about his schedule and such. I can't wait. It was pouring rain so when we got to Mollie's orphanage we were able to go inside and play in her groups toy room which is only used about 15 minutes a day for psychologist tests, music time, and such. Wow, I was hoping they would get to play each day in there. I can't believe they have all these toys and instead they are stuck in their play pens all day. We had a great time playing and Mollie was walking everywhere on her own. We returned both kids to their group and returned to the hotel and here we are.

Earlier today Tatiana called and said they finally found an apartment but it is $2500 and 4 bedrooms. No thank you!!! We can't afford that. That is more than our mortgage! She said the only other option is her relatives apartment. They are leaving tomorrow morning for Moscow for two months. She said they didn't want to rent it out but she told them we were really young and nice. We felt weird but what choice do we have. We went and visited and I think she liked us. It has one bedroom, one kitchen/laundry, a living room, hall, and bedroom. THe kids will sleep in the living room on a pull out bed. Good news is we will have phone and internet, stove, fridge, and laundry. We move in tomorrow morning and it will be $1000 which is about what we were counting on. We hope this is the right decision. It is not in the location we wanted but it is down the street from a little grocery store and a lake. It is near Tatiana's house. She said we can call if we need anything. I will try to give my mom the phone number tomorrow.

Tonight we are just going to rest and watch a movie and make top ramen. It sounds really good. Email us when you can at missnloveyou@yahoo.com. Talking to all of you by email is like life to us. We love to hear about your daily lives even if it seems boring. It reminds us of home.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

We made it to Russia

Well, Hello from Russia! We are here and made it on time (well, 15 minutes late) and safely! We flew from Portland to Frankfurt, Germany on Lufthansa. We left at 1:20pm home time June 11th. We arrived in Germany 8:15am on June 12th. It was a 10 hour flight. We did not have assigned seats so we were assigned the two middle seats in a four person row. We were slightly concerned for comfort reasons but it worked out fine. I sat next to a woman celebrating her 50th anniversary. Her husband, and four children. The first one who was adopted. The children are in their 40’s and none of them have children so they all saved up to go on a 2 week European cruise. Cool huh? Probably won’t see me doing that anytime soon after this or ever but it sounds like a great time. She was very nice. She took my email. They are from Portland and she is excited to see how everything turns out for us. I really enjoyed talking. I don’t usually sit next to people that want to have a conversation (like the person next to Joey) and I have to say it was a nice way to pass the time. We watched Catch and Release and Freedom Writers on the way there. We enjoyed them both. We did not sleep but I did use my neck pillow and loved it! I took one of my valium type pills before the flight. I was still nervous but not freaking out so I think it worked. I got a little scared later and took a second one. Near the end of the flight I took my third. No I was not overdosing. They are only 2mg and the directions say to take one or two every six to eight hours. I took one before each of my two following flights. That is exactly half my pills so I will save the other half for the ride home. I didn’t feel loopy or tired just less worried so that is good.
Our second flight left Germany around 10:50. The Frankfurt airport changed our gate so we had a little confusion but we did fine. We did not have to have any additional checks which is good. We sat for about an hour and a half and waited for our plane. Oh, I forgot to tell you. Joey beeped in the Portland (and Moscow) airports. I don’t know why this always happens! Kind of funny! In Portland my carry on got pulled aside. I had sealed bottles of children’s medicine. They said that was fine. And I had baby food. They said baby food is only allowed if you have a baby. Well, what can I say? I like to eat baby food on the flight? Ha! I explained and he measured and they passed through just fine. He said our kids light up timer toothbrushes were the craziest he had seen. He was really nice. He did have to take away our children’s yummy Little Einstein toothpaste though. Darn, now they have to use our spicy cinnamon. I wish I would have checked that in my suitcase. Oh, well. So not a big deal. Our flight from Germany took Moscow was pleasant as well. A slightly older plane. We were in the exit row with our little steward guy strapped in his little seat next to us during take off and landing. He kind of looked like Moby with glasses and has this cute little funny accent. Joey and I slept. I had taken a Tylenol PM because I knew this was my only chance to get a “good nights sleep.” It was a three hour flight. We woke up to eat a meal but that is all I remember. We arrived In Moscow at 3:50pm. Our flight was 3 hours. It is crazy with all the time changes. You never know how long your flight is until you look it up on your itinerary.
Upon arrival in Moscow we had to wait in Passport Control for over an hour! Very hard to be patient but we got through fine. We were greeted by a different Tatyana, Alex’s mom (Guy Alex is our contact in Moscow although we have yet to meet him on either trip.) She was very nice. She went to get her car and picked us up on the curb. It was soooooooooooo crowded! She said 5 international flights landed at the same time which is why the lines were so long and their were cars parked everywhere!!! She said she had never seen it like that. She also told us that there was a big storm in New York which caused delays in some of the arrivals to Moscow and also that passengers had to wait on a plane in NY for 5 hours and then told they couldn’t take off! Are you kidding me?! I thought we took care of that with the Jet Blue incident! Anyway, she helped us drove us to the other terminal and explained what we needed to do for check-in. It turns out we are one of the first passengers to use the brand new electronic ticket system in Russia. She left and then we waited around for a few hours until our boarding and flight taking off around 8:30. We then boarded our very old Aeroflot plane (scary but not as scary with valium!) I slept for a bit. It was a pleasant hour and half flight. I am telling you- Russian pilots know how to fly!!! They have the smoothest take-offs, flights, and landings then any flights I have taken otherwise. We arrived and the pilot was applauded by the 30 or so passengers. Each flight was older and smaller as we went along. We arrived at 9:15 or 9:30pm Kaliningrad time which is 11:30am home time. So after a total of 24 ½ hours of airports and airplanes, we have touched down for the next 20 days. Finally.
We were picked up by Tatiana (the one we know) and Sasha (Alexander) but not Alexander her father, he is on vacation. Sasha is a young guy and drives a nice Mercedes. He is our driver for this trip. The drove us to the hotel and helped us with our luggage. She told us she would pick us up at 10am to go see the children. We know the drill. No problem. Okay so we went into our room and both of us all of a sudden could not see our little black suitcase that we had carried on! The one that got pulled over in Portland. With the medicine, emergency clothes, some snacks and toys, and…………laptop!!! We freaked out for a second and then prayed. We did not remember loading it in the car. We immediately called Tatiana and she called the airport. They had it!!! Praise God!!! She said Sasha would pick us up at 8:30 am to go pick it up but it would cost extra.( It ended up being $50-soooooooooo worth it, we just gave him 1500rubles which is aprox $60.) We went there this morning not knowing if it would really be there or not and it was! Then they asked for our passports. “Oh no!” The hotel front desk had them because we had to turn them in so they can do our registration which is required by the government. Luckily the woman accepted Sasha’s passport and we were returned our suitcase which still included all of belongings including the laptop! Praise God again! Then we picked up Tatiana and went to Jones’ orphanage. They said he was at the hospital having a hole in his tooth treated. Actually he had four teeth treated. I am assuming it is his 4 upper front black teeth. We will have to get that looked at in America.
We left his orphanage without him and went to see Mollie. She didn’t recognize us but let us play with her. She tried to get down on the grass again. So many little bugs though. We tried our hardest to keep her entertained for an hour but it is hard to do when you don’t speak her language. She would just light up when she saw any of her caregivers or when Tatiana would speak to her. I can only imagine how she feels. I imagine Olivia and two people just taking her and trying to play to her and speaking in Chinese or something. She would probably do the same thing- pretty much ignore us. She likes to be thrown in the air though and she liked when I rocked her and sang “la, la, la.” She would repeat me. She really likes to play with the grass and sticks way better than the toys we brought. She ate three little cookies we brought. She did a really good job. Much better than last time but still had to chew them with her 4 front teeth. We left the orphanage and went back to the hotel for our break. Tatiana ordered us a cheese pizza. We feel too tired today to go out. It was alright. I don’t love it. It is no Papa Murphy’s that’s for sure!
Tatiana was going to call us to go see apartments around 2pm but she called the Russian cell our friends Kevin & Alisa sent us and it was actually in the infamous little black suitcase which we now left in the back of the car!!! Hello! We need to get it together! So we slept, really slept hard, jet lagged drugged like sleep. She called up to the room at 3:10 when she arrived. We were startled and jumped up with impressed lines on our faces and ran downstairs. We explained the confusion. The apartments they found were too far from the city. They are still looking for something. We are supposed to have something to look at tomorrow. Please pray that we find something convenient, affordable, clean, in a good location and the icing would be air conditioning which is rare here! We went and picked up Jones and he seemed happy to see us but didn’t talk at all to us because he knows we don’t speak Russian. He sure talked to Tatiana though. It was an awkward silent drive. He was wearing a pink sweater and pink shoes. Both kids were wearing shorts which if funny because it is colder today than it was last time we were here but I guess it has been very hot recently. He was happy to see his sister but then went off by himself ignoring every attempt we made to play with him. It took him about a half hour to warm up. He did not want to play with any toys. He just wanted to play with sticks and bricks in the back of the yard. We took turns joining him and finally started to bond and he started trying to communicate with us. And Mollie- my goodness. She surprised us and started to walk around by herself! She is so independent. This visit was easier but still a little weird. When it was over we took Jones back to the orphanage. We gave him 2 Hot Wheels cars and some stickers. He liked the stickers but did not want to use them. He kept saying what sounded like “Are you sure?” but in Russian it means “more.” He is persistant! We told him “zaftra” which is tomorrow in Russian. He still kept repeating it. Tatiana said “Don’t spoil him, he is testing your boundaries.” I guess so. We dropped him off and headed back to the hotel.
So overall it has been good so far. It helps when you have been here before and know what to expect and what to bring. Tonight we are just going to eat something little like leftover cold pizza or snacks we brought and watch a movie and go to sleep. Tomorrow we should have the same schedule and Friday also except I think Jones is going on a camping trip with his group. I am so nervous he is going to want to go to his “home” after he is with us. Please pray for quick bonding. I think we get to talk to the caregivers on Friday to find out all their details and schedules and such which I am excited for. Then this weekend we have nothing going on but I am hoping we switch to an apartment and buy groceries and get it all set up for the kids to join us. We also have to study for court. Court is Monday at 10am, we are first! Joey has to give a speech for 5-10 minutes and then the prosecutor will ask questions. All I can say is “I agree with everything my husband says.” This will be interesting. Oh, yeah one more tidbit- we found out today that their mother is pregnant again. This makes me feel weird. Pray if you get a chance.
Thank you Mom for calling. Thank you Alisa and Kevin for leaving us the fan, soccer ball, baby towel, and hot pot and for sending us the cell phone!!! You are a lifesaver! Thank you family and friends for emails and prayers. Thanks Em, Steph, Alisa, April and Tam for your kind words! Well, bye for now. I will write again tomorrow and I am going to try to post just a couple pics in a minute.