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.


Annie B. said...

Hey guys.
I'am so glad all is going well! I will continue to pray for all of you. Can't wait to meet these beautiful babys!!
Miss you and love ya ton's.

Anonymous said...

Hey Erin,
Remember it is scary for Jones since he is probably wondering how you will communicate with him. When you get home, get or make some cards. IE, A photo of eating, photo of a bed, photo of a toliet etc. Have him use those photos to communicate with you and vis versa. Once you get the communication thing down, it will help you with the bonding.
Also, remember, Jones never has had any toys to himself. We actually had to teach our son how to play, how to hug, how to kiss. So don't be surprised if you have to do the same thing. If you have to regress him do so. IE< feed him, massage him, rock him. Even if he fights it. Its important that he gives in and learns that you are his provider and he no longer has to take care of himself!