Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Four years ago today....

We picked our precious Jackson up from the Prokopyevsk baby house in Kemerovo.  We can't remember life without him.  He's definitely not a baby anymore.  He's all long arms and skinny, scabbed up knees.  When I pick him up he can pretty much wrap his legs all the way around me!

He's funny, thoughtful, gentle and kind.  He's adjusting to his new role in the family and learning to be a big brother.

He loves popsicles, knock-knock jokes and pirates.  He has a vivid imagination, lost his training wheels and can ride his scooter like the wind.

He is smart, giggly and gorgeous.  His best friend is still his stuffed bear and he thinks his Daddy hung the moon.

He is my heart, my love and my life.  He taught me what being a Mommy was all about... and he did it so well, I wanted to do it again!

Happy Birthday and Happy Gotcha day Jackson Charles... we love you more than you'll ever know.

Trip One, 9 months old

Three years old

Five years old

Where have you been? I've been worried sick!!

I can tell you where *I've* been... surviving day to day with three little boys who are determined to kill me before I see my 45th birthday!!  There is no excuse... other than the lame (insert whiney tone) "I've been so busy, what do you expect?"  I've had several people write and ask me, politely of course, if I had just up and fallen off the face of the earth.

Actually, I have many, many important tasks to attend to daily.  Getting the kids up, dressed, fed, played with, fed, played with, fed again (sensing a pattern anyone?), put down for a nap, fed, played with and fed a final time before night-night time.  My grocery bill has tripled since we got home.  Of course our eating out bill has fallen off to practically nothing unless you include the odd Papa Gino's order.  When I'm not feeding them or playing with them I spend my spare time hiding in the living room eating sugar-free popsicles or Cheerios from a bowl with my tongue.  Pretty thought, eh?

And now for the update...  Jackson took almost three months to settle down.  He's struggled so hard with the boys coming home.  He's needed tons of support and understanding.  Suffice it to say I will NOT be winning any Mother-of-the-Year awards this year.  Sometimes support and understanding are hard to come by when the two newest additions are both screaming and pointing their fingers at their big brother as the source of their distress.  There were times I had to keep Jackson with me at arms reach to stop him from hurting them when I was out of the room.  I had several friends at work describe the same sort of behavior with their older kids and new babies.  I think one of the first words that Carter said clearly was "Jack push!"  (as in he pushed me)

I think he's going to be okay in the long run.  There is definitely more laughter than tears when they are together now!  We decided to keep him home with us instead of sending him back for a third year of pre-school.  He's much less stressed and has really started showing me what he knows.  It's funny, he knows all the letter sounds and can tell you what words start with the same letter.  But he can't tell me the reverse... that Snake starts with an 'S'.

Cooper is amazing.  He is crazy smart and understands pretty much everything we say.  He's using three word sentences and has started using "What" and "Where" questions appropriately.  He sauntered into the kitchen today and asked me "What doing Mommy?  Make dinner?"  If you were to drop me into a Russian family three months ago, I can promise you I'd still be crying and asking someone how to find the toilet.  I would not be speaking clearly or coherently!

He's gotten comfortable enough to start showing us his not so cute and lovable side.  Most of his frustration stems from not being able to say what he means, or not getting the subtlety of an explanation. And sometimes an almost three year old just doesn't want to be told "No"!!  He will let Lance console him if I'm not here, but still will NOT let him hold him if I'm anywhere around.  He can go for several days without having a single meltdown, then have 15 in 8 hours.  It just depends on how open his window of tolerance is that day.  He's let go of his anxious, people pleasing behaviors and started being more real.

And little Carter... affectionately known as "Senor Soggy Thumb" has definitely started to show his personality.  Some days it's a day long crying jag, but most days he's pretty easy going.  It's hard being the youngest of three, but he doesn't take anything off his brothers.  In fact, he's the biggest offender in the snatch and grab derby.  Giving him credit, he does hand it back when asked, which I think is pretty cool for a twenty month old!   He's talking a LOT and shows wonderful receptive language skills.  His favorite word is still "Up? Up?"

He's the best hugger, snuggler and kisser out of the group.  I was in tears when we'd been home for six weeks because he was so indiscriminate with other women.  Now he won't go to ANYONE.  If he is in my arms and his beloved Nana or Aunt Kissy tries to take him he starts bawling.  He'll let them pick him up from the floor, but braces his arms and leans away.  When I hold him he totally melts into my neck and gives me smooches and hugs.  I love being the favorite!!

Of course, no update would be complete without photos, so without further ado....

Captain Jack at his birthday party last week.

How cute is he... really?

Super Coop to the rescue!

My baby...

Our entire family says "Arrgh, Matey!  Thanks for stopping by!!"

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Hey!  Long time, no see!  I've finally come up for air, briefly.  I have NEVER been busier In. My. Entire. Life.  Let's see how things are going around here, shall we?

Jack... our first born.  Not ever so happy about being a big brother these days.  LOTS of sassiness, LOTS of tears and whining...and my personal favorite, acting out with body fluids.  At least he's only peeing in the shed outside, but still.  He knows where pee-pee goes, and it AIN'T in the shed!!  This morning he spent some time scrubbing the shed floor.  It seems harsh, but it's a clear case of a direct consequence for an action.  There was no screaming or accusation, just a calm statement that the pee needed to be cleaned up so the shed wouldn't be yucky to play in.  Since he pee'd in it, he cleaned it up.  Over and done with.  We're trying to create more time in the day for him alone, but it's still really hard.  I'm going to take him out to lunch and to see Toy Story 3 this week.  He also starts summer camp on Monday for three hours each morning with his good friend Jake.  I'm hoping that will help him regulate a little bit.  He's trying so hard with the boys.  He keeps patting them on the back, hugging them and offering them words of encouragement.  We keep telling him what an awesome big brother he is.  He really is.

Cooper... the middle child.  Wow, what a dramatic change!  The out right screaming-Nelly tantrums have almost completely abated.  He'll still avert his gaze and freeze when he's corrected, but is quick to re-group and re-attune with me.  *Me* being the operative word.  He's still not too sure about his Daddy!  Poor Lance is doing everything except pulling candy bars out of his butt to help him attach, but Cooper isn't having it.  If I'm not around, he'll tolerate him.  If I'm here, Lance doesn't stand a chance in hell of getting his attention or cooperation.  EXCEPT... today Jack and Lance were playing Wii and Cooper wanted to try.  He actually stood between his legs and let him help him play "Speed Slice".  It required some pretty close contact between the two of them.  Cooper was having so much fun, he didn't notice.  Lance had to come help me at bedtime tonight and he smiled and blew him good night kisses.  Slow and steady wins the race folks, slow and steady.  He is so darn SMART!!  He's using a bunch of words in English, still says a couple of Russian ones and his language comprehension is staggering.

Carter... the baby.  He used to just love Lance, now he screams like he's being attacked by Flying Monkeys when he picks him up.  I get slobbered on and pretty generally adored by him, poor Lance gets arching and crying.  It will change, I know that.  He's doing what he's supposed to do, bonding with his Mommy.  Once he's more secure with me, he'll be able to start hooking up with his Daddy again.  It's getting harder to put him to bed at night.  He's decided that night time is the right time to make out with Mommy.  I've never been on the receiving end of so much toddler spit!  He thinks it the best thing ever to grab my cheeks (or ears, or hair) and pull me in for smooches.  Thank God he's learning to keep his mouth closed!  He takes his bottle like a champ, calls me "Mama", and is starting to use some baby signs.  He just turned 17 months old, but acts more like a 9-10 month old.  He's been having trouble sleeping through the night lately.  He partially wakes and cries about every 90 minutes or so.  Most of the time he settles back quickly, sometimes he needs a quick cuddle and rock to go back down.  I remember Jackson did the same thing when he was little.  Most mornings find Carter in bed with me, snoozing happily.

Now for the good part... photos.  First a couple of before and after shots.  The "befores" were from our first trip.  The "afters" are from the last couple of days.

The first day we met.  We called this look "Stink-Eye".

Today, playing in the tent with Jack and Carter.

Very serious, wouldn't you agree?

Swinging in the yard and loving it!

Playing "camping" in the dining room... aren't they CUTE?

We're finally feeling like a family... and it's pretty darn great.  I think that child slobber will turn out to be the next fountain of youth.  My skin has never looked better!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

We're home, and sooooo tired!

44 is too old to have three children under the age of five... God is laughing at me right now.  I just know it. I will write a long post detailing our flight home once I've stopped having nightmares about it.  Suffice it to say we were indeed "those people with the screaming children".  At least it's over now.

We are home, they are smiley and playful when they're not crying and climbing me like a tree to be held Every. Single. Moment. Of. The. Day.  This morning I banned everyone under the age of five from the sofa for 30 minutes... the I ran right over and sat on it with my feet pulled up off the floor.  Amazingly enough, it worked until someone fell over and bonked their noggin.  As I climbed off "Mommy's Island" and back into the shark tank, I got tackle hugged by Jack, rescued Cooper from his boo-boo and had Carter screaming to be picked up because he saw me touching the other two boys.  *sigh*

Here are some photos of their cuter moments....

Couldn't you just eat him alive?

Cooper helping weed the flower beds... he volunteered, I swear!

Jack showing me the clover he's eating... thanks baby!

Don't let my tired sarcasm fool you... it's been pretty good thus far.  There have been some moments that made me want to just cry with joy and others that made me just want to cry.  Lance keeps going to bed really early... I think he's hiding!  Everybody slept through the night last night, we're consistently getting all three in bed by 8 pm, and this morning they slept until about 6:15.  I think everyone's body clocks are finally starting to adjust to the time change.  They little ones nap for over three hours every day... I have to wake them up to make sure they'll get to bed!

I'm hoping that God gave me good sleepers to balance out all the crying.  Someone please tell me that it gets better... it does, doesn't it?  Somehow two crying is so much harder to deal with than one.  It's that feeling that somebody is getting shortchanged, you know?

I'm heading to bed.  Have I told you lately how much I LOVE my bed?

Friday, June 11, 2010

We can see the finish line from here...

Today is it... Embassy Day.  Once we have those visas in our hands, almost nothing (I won't say nothing) can stop us from going home!  It's been a VERY busy couple of days getting used to our two newest family members while they're getting used to us.  I have to admit that I'm really, really surprised at how willing they are to accept cuddling and nuturing.  They both mold nicely when held, although Cooper still needs a little encouragement to lay his head on my shoulder.  When we lay down for nap time they both will lie facing me and let me pet them and kiss them.  They already know what a kiss is and if you ask for one they both pucker up and will give you a big smooch.  I've been rubbing their cheeks and saying "sweet baby", and last night at bedtime, Cooper started stroking my face and trying to say "Sweet baby" back to me.  I got all choked up and had a hard time not crying... he's so darn SWEET.

He's been an awesome little helper and is already learning so much English.  I'm completely astounded at how quickly he's picking it up.  He says "Mama, Dada, Jack-Jack, pants, Mimi, Nana and Hi"  For a child who barely said a single word when we visited in the baby house, he has been chattering and singing non-stop since we picked him up.  When we're done with dinner, he pushes in the chairs and puts the stools against the wall.  After I change diapers, he puts the wipes and changing pad away.  Perhaps each child had a little job in the baby house?   It's so funny, I just show him the diaper and he runs and jumps up on the couch and lays down on the changing pad!!  You gotta love it!!

Carter was most likely just exhausted, hungry and in pain when we saw him these last two weeks.  I've been giving him Tylenol and Motrin for his teething and keeping him fed and hydrated...with that he's an absolute dream!  He's playful and smiley and loves to cuddle and smooch.  The shrieking has eased up considerably, it now centers primarily around the beginning and end of meals.  When we start feeding him, he shrieks for more between bites, then when he's all done and we start cleaning up, he shrieks like we forgot to feed him.  He's easily distracted, but Jeez he's loud!!  He's a hard-core thumb sucker, and does not care for any pacifier substitute I offer.  I wasn't sure how easy he'd be to get back on the bottle, but when he saw it the first time his little eyes lit up like it was Christmas.  He settled in easily tummy to tummy and sucked it right down.  We weren't sure whether to offer him formula or just go straight to milk since we weren't sure if they could tolerate lactose or not.  In the end, we went with milk and they're both doing well.  No diarrhea or apparent tummy upsets.

Speaking of tummies, I had no idea people of that size could eat that much food.  I know I mentioned it before, but Oh. My. God.  These children can eat me under the table.  I am seriously afraid of gastric rupture.  I put reasonable (to heavy) portions down, they suck it down, then look for more.  You guys have seen the photos.  These are not starving orphans.  They have major thigh chub and guts that hang over their pants.  I guess it's residual from their bio home.  They had a fairly hard start in life and it doesn't sound like meals were any too regular there... I imagine it's hard to let go of that fear.  Plus we're strangers and they're not sure how regularly the chuck wagon runs around here!

Okay, I know that no one is hanging around for my delightful prose.  Ya'll want photos, right?  Here you go...

Kickin' with sippy cups after breakfast.

A little art class this morning.

Super Coop's new hair cut.  I had to lose that fringy bang!!

Carter at the park yesterday.

Okay, guys... we're off to the Embassy!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Gotcha Day!!!

Let me tell you... going from one to three?  Woooo boy!!  We got to the baby house around 11:30, got them dressed and practiced some speed-feeding maneuvers to get lunch into them before we hit the road.  They got a little "extra" by way of some Dramamine in their yogurt to try and stave off any motion sickness and encourage a little nap.  *sigh* It didn't work.

Traffic was crazy coming back to the apartment, so we didn't get home until 2:15.  Lance had exactly 15 minutes to inhale some food before running back out the door to pick up their passports.  Yes he did.  My husband left me ALONE with all three of them less than 15 minutes after arriving home.  It wasn't that bad until dinner time.

Have you ever tried to prepare a meal with three children under the age of five circling your legs?  It was like preparing Thanksgiving dinner at a homeless shelter!  All of them whining and looking for chow.  I managed to get them all fed with only a couple of minor meltdowns surrounding bib removal and the ending of the meal.   Then we all trooped out to watch a little Baby Einstein prior to bath time.

I managed to lure both of them into the tub with a combination of oohing and ahhing over the magic of water falling into the tub and the wholesale throwing of toys into the water.  Cooper went in pretty happily and started splashing.  Carter did NOT care for the feeling of water on his testicles.  He kept hopping up like he was getting goosed!

Notice I keep saying "I" did this, and "I" did that.  My poor hubby didn't get home til after bath time, at which point I sent him flying across the street to the grocery store.  I'm not sure we fully appreciated how much these kids can EAT!!!  Dear Lord, I felt like I had been visited by a plague of locusts!

Bedtime went fairly peacefully, a little repetitive lying back down a la Super Nanny, and they both passed out.  It is way past time for me to crash out... please pray that they sleep through the night!

Here are a couple of photos from our official Gotcha Day:

Our first photo as a family of five.  

Checking out some books...

Bath time at the OK Corral...

I'm so happy, I could just die.  Seriously.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Here's some photos from Trip Two...

This is Carter... he's a big boy now with his big boy hair-do.  

This is Cooper... he hasn't changed too much (still gorgeous!)

And here they all are, dressed alike for Mommy's pleasure! (Carter is eating a cracker in this photo... Carter is ALWAYS eating something!)

More photos later today from Gotcha Day.  I will warn you now, they will be dressed in matching outfits.  That's just how I roll.

Well, since they ARE technically ours, how about some photos?

Okay, I can't stand it... we do have a signed court decree after all, right?  Here's some photos from our first trip:

Introducing Carter Joseph... could you just die for those eyes?

And his big brother Cooper Stephen...isn't he the cutest?

Our first family photo with our new sons

As soon as we can get all three to sit still at the same time, we'll have our first photos as a family of five.  We'll make a stab at that one tomorrow!!

The court decree is signed... they are officially ours!!

Tomorrow is the big day, we get to bring our babies home with us!!  We could've gotten them today, but our coordinator had 800 errands to run to get our passports ready tomorrow.  She started this morning picking up the court decree, then she went to the police station, then to the passport office.  Mind you, all the things had to happen in three separate towns!  We signed power of attorney after court, just so she could handle all this without us.  Since we have Jackson here with us, it's been a Godsend!  She does all the boring busywork, we get to do the fun stuff... works for me!!

We leave at 9:30 to head to Fryazino for the last time.  It takes about 90 minutes to get there, sometimes a little less if traffic cooperates.  We won't be spending a long time there, it should be like a hit and run!  We took our orphanage donations and the gift for the director on Monday, so tomorrow we're bringing a cake and the gifts for the caregivers.  Everyone stresses about gifts... please don't!  It's more like a pleasantry, sort of like bringing wine or flowers when you are invited for dinner.  We bought different things for our driver, translator and in-country coordinators, but got all the same things for the caregivers.

I bought gift bags for 59 cents a piece at our local party store, along with a  big pack of tissue paper.  For the caregivers I bought strong, durable reusable shopping bags that fold up nice and small.  All of them live locally and take the bus, so it seemed a good gift.  Also, EVERYONE here carries a plastic bag with them, everywhere.  You have to pay for bags at the grocery store, so a good bag is kept as long as it will hold out.  We added some Godiva chocolate bars and some good hand lotion to the bags to round them out.  Each gift ended up costing under $8 a piece, and we brought 12 total... not including the director, etc.

We were blessed to see the boys a total of six times this trip.  We were amazed every day by what they do for these children.  Our kids are fat and healthy, we fed them lunch every day and found the food to be filling and nutritious.  We were able to see all the kids in the boys groupa, and most of them were strong and well fed.  Obviously there were some sick kids, but by and large they are physically well cared for.  On three of our visits we were greeted by large piles of donated diapers in the lobby.  The baby house in Fryazino has patrons that make regular donations, they say they're very lucky to have such community support.

On Friday, we got there and Cooper wasn't there.  He'd gone to the lake with several children from his groupa and they were able to ride/pet some horses.  He came in for lunch, smiling, bug bitten and happy.  When we were here on trip one,  a bunch of children went to a festival.  They do everything they can to get them out in the community.  The director of the baby home is a very kind woman with a good heart.  She was so grateful for our donation, when we handed her gift to her, she waved it off and said "No, you have done enough."  We gave it to her anyway.  :o)

Back to the boys... we've finished baby-proofing the apartment, gotten the portacribs set up and laid out their clothes for tomorrow.  We have little people food, dishes, bibs, diapers, wipes and toys by the dozen!!  I can't believe it's really happening!!

Next post... their beautiful little faces.  Trust me, it's worth the wait!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Tales of the Metro and OMG, could he be any cuter?

I had to post this picture of Jackson...  we went to the Izmailovsky Market today and spent WAY too much money buying different things.  One of the things I wanted to get were some little Russian shirts for all the boys.  I never got one when Jackson was little, and I definitely wanted to get them for photos this Christmas.  Okay, tell me he isn't the cutest thing EVER!!  Go ahead, I dare you....

Well, I do realize that his hair needs some attention, but we were dealing with gale-force winds today out there.  I have two matching shirts for Cooper and Carter.  It should make a cute photo if I can get them all to sit in the same place for more than 15 seconds!

If you're heading to Russia soon, you really should go to the Izmailovsky Market.  It's super easy to get to.  Hop on the Metro... seriously, it's the fastest, easiest way to get anywhere in the city.  Go online and get the English version of the Metro map, figure out which station is closet to you.  If you click the link, you'll see the Cyrillic names in black and the English translation in pale gray below.  (please note that some older maps show a Metro Stop for Izmailovsky Park, it no longer exists)  It costs 26 rubles per ride each way, so go up to the window that says KACCA and stick 104 rubles in the little slot.  When she looks at you, hold up two fingers and say "Dva y dva"  She'll give you two tickets with two rides each on it.  

We are staying on New Arbat, so the closest station is Smolenskaya.  Izmailovsky Market is NOT off the Izmailovsky stop like one would think.  You get off at the Partisanskaya stop and turn left when you leave the station.  There will be a HUGE crowd headed that way, just follow along.  When you get to the entrance, it will cost 10 rubles per adult (like most places in Russia, kids are free!).  Then shop to your little hearts content.  Be sure to stop by the open air grill.  Get a chicken kebab and a half slice of bread.  All three of us ate off one serving... it was crazy good!  The chicken was delicately spiced and grilled to perfection, the bread was like onion pita bread.  I'll let you know if we die of food poisoning tomorrow.
Like any big open market, watch your belongings closely.  NEVER pay the marked price.  I was buying a small set of Christmas ornaments and the lady insisted they were priced as marked for 200 rubles.  She bagged them up and handed them to me.  I handed her 170 rubles and said "that's all I have".  She took it without blinking.  Damn... I should've offered less!  Pretty much all the vendors have calculators, so if you don't speak Russian they will type in the amount you owe in rubles.  You can then type in the amount you're willing to pay... sort of like an auction.

Our coordinator can't believe we keep taking the train, but I've gotta tell you 26 rubles a ride is surely better than the $200 a day it costs for the driver and translator with the agency!  Our final train adventure will be the one we take to get they boys hair cut.  There is a brand new salon in Moscow opened by an American ex-pat.  She based it off all the fun kids salons she saw in the US.  It's called Tchik Tchik.  If you want to make an appointment in English, there is an email address you can write.  I'm going to assume that someone there speaks English... otherwise there will be a lot of hand-gestures and pointing going on.

I know it sounds strange to be taking the boys for a haircut right after we get them, but I'd rather be able to get their hair cut by someone that can speak to them/soothe them in Russian than wait until they understand enough English to wrestle them through it in the US.  And quite frankly, poor Carter's hair looks like someone attacked him with a weed-whacker.  We'll see how it goes.  I may look back at this post next week and laugh maniacally!!  Like, "Seriously lady, you're taking two newly adopted children on the train in Moscow for a friggin' HAIRCUT?!?"  It probably won't happen.  Now that I'm actually writing it, it seems sort of insane... anyone know where I can get some scissors?

Now that we've straightened that issue out (thanks for bringing me back to reality) I've gotta run do the dishes and get ready for tomorrow.  We're going back to the park so Jack can ride his scooter.  I'll cover all that in a later post...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Can someone PLEASE tell me....

What in the hell we ate for dinner last night?  Here's a photo...

Now doesn't that look like a hamburger patty?  That's what I thought when I bought it.  Now here's a photo of what came out of the box.


Yeah, that's what I thought.  I tried to cook it in the pan... not so much.  Then I put it in the oven.  It still didn't look right.  Finally, in desperation, I microwaved it.  It never, ever looked like the box.  I wouldn't eat it.  Lance said it tasted a little bit like meatloaf.  Jack just shoveled it in... he was starving to death.

First person that can tell me what it was wins my undying admiration and affection.  Short of that, take pity on my family, please!

All about the boys...

I realized that I haven't posted about our visits with the boys these last few days...DUH!!  It's been great!!  They've been outside playing the last two times we visited.  Each time they've seen us come through the gate we've gotten a yodel-ly holler and they've come running.  Cooper is starting to get possessive of us.  Yesterday several of the other little kids swarmed us, looking for some attention/affection.  I was holding Carter and trying to pat and hug as many of them I could reach and Lance was doing the same.  Cooper saw the other kids near me and immediately came over to push them aside.  He sat down right beside me and started fending them off.

Carter is always so tired and hungry when we get there... all he does is sit in my lap, suck his thumb and fuss a little.  We arrive at 11:15 or so each day and lunchtime is normally 11:30 for them.  They take the other kids, and let us stay with the boys until 12-12:15 or so, then we go back and feed them.  By that time, they are about to eat their own arms off!!  Right after lunch is nap time, so we only get to see them for 90 minutes or so each visit.

I can't wait to see them when they're NOT tired and hungry.  It's sort of hard to get a feel for their real personalities, you know?  On our first trip, they always fed Carter before they brought him to us, since he was in the baby room.  So he was always cheerful and playful when we visited.  Now he's in the big boy room with Cooper, so he eats a little later.  I don't think he likes waiting for food... He's definitely more clingy and whiny than he was on Trip One.

Cooper is so funny!  He's always giggling and laughing, and he WORSHIPS Jackson.  Everything that Jack does, he wants to do.  He got ahold of Jack's sunglasses and put them up on top of his head, just like he wears them.  Jack's been in Heaven, having someone to follow him around and play with him... I'm very sure THAT won't last long!  I'm sure I'll be hearing, "Mommy, he keeps following me!"  one of these days.

Yesterday Lance was carrying Cooper around and he kept patting him (Lance) on the back and saying "Da-da, Da-da".  He'd point to me and say "Ma-Ma!" .  Then he'd point at Jack and say "Dak-dak" (Jack-Jack).  If you ask him where his brother is, he will point to Carter.  He's starting to get it, I think!  We have two more visits, Friday and Monday, then we get to take them out of there... FINALLY!

We changed our plane reservations to Sunday, since our agency says we can leave early.  We're flying out at 7a.m. which means we have to get up at 3:30 to leave at 4 a.m.  How disgusting is that?  The only good part about it is that we'll get home early in the afternoon instead of past dinnertime.  That should give us some time to get them into the house and get a look around prior to dinner and attempting to get them to bed.  I don't doubt that bedtime is going to be interesting the first few days/weeks we're home!

Today is just gorgeous, unfortunately my tummy is feeling a bit out of sorts, so I'm sitting on the couch feeling sorry for myself.  We got to meet Amy, another adoptive parent with our agency, and her gorgeous little girl for lunch today.  She had her Mom and sister along with her, it's awesome they could come and support her!  I don't think it was lunch that tipped me over, I'm not sure what it is.  I'm gonna sit here and hydrate myself and hope it passes.

Oh, I forgot to mention... my beautiful baby Carter is all banged up!  Sometime between last Wednesday and Monday he fell and gashed his eyebrow open.  They smeared the omnipresent green salve on it and stitched it up.  Between that and his hack job haircut, he looks just pitiful!  We need to scrub off all that green salve and get them both haircuts STAT!!  Poor little guys.  Here's a picture of boo-boo eye...

Hopefully, we'll get to head to the Ismailovsky Market this weekend.  We went for a train ride today and went out there, but we got off at the park, not the Market.  Amy told us which stop to get off at, so we'll give it another go Saturday or Sunday.


Kim, Lance, Jackson, Cooper and Carter

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

St. Basil's Cathedral... then and now

Just had to post this.  What a difference a few years makes, huh?

Setember 2006

June 2010

God, I LOVE that baby!!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A day at the zoo...

and was it ever gorgeous!  We walked over the the Moscow Zoo and paid the grand price of 300 Rubles to get in (approx. $10-11 US).  They have a huge selection of animals and while it may not be up to US standards, the animals looked well-cared for and the staff were friendly and welcoming.

We saw all the major exhibits then hit the streets for a Stardog.  If you don't know about the Stardog, let me enlighten you... Stardog's is a chain of street kiosks that sells hotdogs and sausage-y type things.  OMG is the little spiral sausage sandwich good!!  Okay, so it sort of looks like Pomeranian poop on a roll, but it IS tasty.  They put it on a toasted roll with crunchy fried onions and spicy mustard...complete yumminess.

We came home to decompress, then braved the Metro.  We were able to successfully buy tickets and negotiate our way through a couple of different lines.  The Metro stops were built back in the 1930's and doubled as bomb shelters.  They all have different themes and are all just beautiful inside.  They trains go about 8 million miles an hour and run close together.  You have almost no wait in between... all in all, a very efficient way to travel!

Happy boy at the zoo!

I dare you to look at this photo and NOT sing "I Like to Move It" from Madagascar!! Original King Julian in da house!!

Jack and Daddy

It's hard to believe that tomorrow we'll have been here a week!  Next weekend we'll be getting all antsy about getting the boys... it's hard to believe it's really happening.

Paka for now....

Friday, May 28, 2010

This is what the judge gave Jackson...

It's a little crystal.... thingy.  It's not big enough to be a paperweight, so I'm not really sure what to call it.  It's about two inches high and one inch square.  Obviously, it's Lady Justice, and Jack thinks it's the absolute coolest thing!  We ended up hiding it from him as he'd dropped it five hundred times in his efforts to admire it.  I'd at least like to get it home and keep it safe til he's a little bit older, you know?

Anyway, we'd gotten a couple of questions about exactly what he'd been given... and since a picture is worth a thousand words, here you go.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Supporting the local economy...

I don't mean to sound preachy or self-righteous, but I really do think we owe it to the economy to patronize small local businesses when traveling abroad.  Lance and I were out walking around and found this lovely little coffee shop on Old Arbat.  The coffee was amazing AND they spoke English!  Who'd of thunk it?  Here's a photo so you can find it the next time you happen to be in Moscow...

I know... I'm totally lame, but Good LORD I loves me some Starbucks!!  I've never been happier to see a little green logo before in my life!  Is it wrong to deliberately go out in search of something so very patently un-Russian?  

Excuse me while I go enjoy my Peppermint Mocha.  Dasvidanya!

It's official...we're a family of five!!

We just got back from the Moscow Regional Court and had some lunch.  Truth be told, I could've used a stiff shot of Vodka, but I guess a serving of Cheesy Mac will do!!

Court went very well.  The judge was lovely, the prosecutor initially a bit severe and the social worker was very passionate in her arguments on our behalf.  They asked Lance to make a statement to the court summarizing our experience with Jackson and why we wanted to adopt more children.  He did quite well, I think I'm the only one that noticed his voice was a little shaky!  The process itself was pretty routine, the only thing they seemed to emphasize and question was our commitment to the children.  They also wanted some assurance that we would seek medical and psychological help if they became "troublesome" to us.

They had several questions about sibling rivalry and how we had prepared Jackson for the boys.  The judge, prosecutor and social worker were VERY pleased that we'd brought him along to meet the boys and that we were staying the 10 days to let them all become better acquainted.  So if this is your second adoption, bringing your older child with you most certainly seems to help.  The judge and the prosecutor both wanted to meet Jackson, and gave him a little gift to remember court by. (like two little brothers isn't enough?)

Lance had time to come home, scarf down some food and then had to run out the door again to the notary office to sign a power of attorney.  That allows our coordinator to handle pretty much all the paperwork and appointments on our behalf... that will come in VERY handy when we pick up the boys.

Speaking of pick-up... gotcha day will officially be Wednesday June 9th.  It's exactly one year to the very day that I wrote our home study agency to begin the adoption process.  Pretty cool, huh?

Here is our obligatory family photo outside of court, the relief on our faces is readily apparent!!

I'm going to take Jackson out for a scooter run to the grocery store.  I've got to burn some energy off that child before I have to sedate him!!  We're planning on doing some sightseeing this weekend, so stay tuned for more family fun from Moscow!  

Thanks to everyone for your support and encouragement... we really appreciate it!!  

Much love,  Kim, Lance, Jackson, Cooper and Carter

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

8 Doctor Medical D-O-N-E!!!

And how completely painless!!  This was the first time our agency has used this particular clinic, and I have to highly recommend the process.  As most adoptive parents know, the 8 doctor medical is pretty much a formality.  For some, it is painful, for others... not so much.  It all depends on where you get it done.  So here's how it went down, for those that are interested.

We drove to the wrong place a couple of times.  Like I mentioned, this was the first time they had used this place and they weren't sure exactly where it was.  Once we found it, we went into a big conference-type room and sat down to wait.  We were joined by three other families and their coordinators.  One by one the different doctors (all women) drifted in the room.  They began shuffling everyone's paperwork and x-rays around and making notes.  At one point they got everyone's stuff all tangled up and confused, but it all got straightened out, thank Heaven!

Apparently HIPPA rules don't apply here, they just went around the room asking questions of each family. Had we ever sustained a head injury?  Had our parents ever sustained a head injury - like that matters?  The neurologist made us look at her little hammer then tapped our wrists and knees.  That was the neuro exam.  We got asked very generally and almost in passing if we drank alcohol or smoked cigarettes.  Had we had any surgeries ever seen a dermatologist for anything.

Then we did the dance behind the little curtain.  With our shirts off, they listened to our lungs and checked our blood pressure.  One poor woman forgot where she was and walked back out without her shirt on.  We all laughed a little and that was that.  Over and done.

I really have no idea who was who, and the whole process lasted just under two hours.  We never left the conference room, just paid up and left.  Out of all of them, only three of them asked us any questions.

One more thing down... one left to go.  We get to see the boys again tomorrow, then court at 10:30 on Thursday.

That is all the news that is news around here....

Monday, May 24, 2010

Oh how things have changed...

We got to see our babies today!!  Cooper looks just the same, gorgeous and a little reserved.  He warmed up pretty quickly though and did seem to remember us.  Carter has changed a lot.  He's definitely a toddler and not a baby anymore.  He's so steady on his feet and has most assuredly decided what he does and does NOT want.  YIKES!  Here's a blurred face photo of the brothers together for the first time, I just about DIED when I got them all to sit in the same place at the same time!

We got to feed them lunch and they ate more than I do.  I've never seen small humans pack away the chow like they can!  It's no wonder they're both on the hefty side!

We can tell they've been working with the boys.  Now Cooper knows who and what a brother is.  When you ask him "where's your brother?" he points to Carter.  When we are more specific and ask "Where is brother Jackson?" he points to Jack.  I know, it hardly qualifies him for Mensa... but we think it's pretty cool!!  He also points to us respectively when asked "where is Mama/Papa?".  Dare I hope they've been using the little photo album we left on Trip One?

There was a different vibe today.  We were both looking at them in a another light, with more possessiveness... is that even a word?  They're still strangers in a sense, but now they're OUR strangers.  And we can't wait to get to know them better!

We have the ever exciting 8 doctor medical tomorrow and can't wait to get poked and prodded by 8 indifferent strangers.  

I'll let you know how it goes...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

We are here....

Good GOD am I tired!!  Props to Lufthansa for their nice plane and excellent choice of movies.  Big fat thumbs down to the fact that they broke our damn stroller!!  Do you recall the VERY nice Peg Perego Aria that my sister bought me?  Yeah... they broke off one of the clips that makes it collapse and lock.  I can get it to collapse if I jam something in the hole like a car key... but how white trash is that?  All they did was put it in the hold as we checked it at the gate.  When we changed planes in Munich it was laying in the middle of the tarmac, all sad and lonely.  Oh well, perhaps we can order a new little piece for it?

Jack did so well on the flight.  He fell asleep almost immediately after take off and woke up in time for breakfast.  Unfortunately he only had about six hours of sleep, when he normally gets 11-12.  He was fine for the duration, but passed out cold on the way to the apartment.  I had to peel him out of the stroller and pour him into bed.  I surely hope he doesn't wake up at 3 a.m.!!

The only thing I didn't care for about the Lufthansa routing is that you have less than 8 hours to Munich, the another 3 to Moscow.  Not really enough time to get some good sleep in between plane changes and meals.  Thank Heaven we won't have to do it again after this!!

We had some sad news on our arrival, apparently the driver that normally works with our translator died unexpectedly.  It's an awful bit of news... he was a lovely, kind man.  He and Violet had worked together for over 10 years.  He will be sorely missed.

The good news is that we get to see our little guys tomorrow!  I thought we were gonna have to wait until Tuesday or Wednesday.  We're so excited to see how much they changed and grown in the last few months!

Now Lance and I are going to practice better living through chemistry and get some good sleep.

Da Zaftra!!  (see you tomorrow)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

And.....we're off!!

Well, today is the day.  I got all teary-eyed last night putting Jackson to bed... I kept thinking about how this was the last time he had me all to himself at bedtime to snuggle for as much and as long as he wanted to.  I feel so torn.  I love him so very much and I can't even fathom how I could love anyone else as much.  I know, I know... love gets multiplied, not divided.  I just don't know how my heart could get any fuller!

We're done packing.  The entire house has been cleaned from top to bottom.  I've checked and re-checked our documents about a thousand times.  We've consolidated down from 5 lists (Lance LOVES him some lists) to one.  Hopefully we won't have any more of those "Dear God, we forgot about ________!!" moments.

We have three 45 pound suitcases (I don't want to hear about it), two backpacks, one diaper bag, a double stroller and my ginormous travel "purse".  I use the word purse's huge!  I had NO idea that packing for three plus weeks and three little boys would require so much stuff!  Really, it's not that much of their stuff, we are just loaded down with all our gifts for folks and our orphanage donations.  Once we get rid of all that, we should be able be able to only have two suitcases.  We will leave one of them there when it's empty.

Really, it will be an even trade... one 45 pound suitcase for 54 pounds of children.  At least they can walk!!

We will be posting photos on the blog as soon as it's legal.  Those of you that contact me privately will receive a private showing of the cuteness!!

Next post from Moscow!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

T minus 72 hours and counting...

Until we leave for Russia for the final time!  The last weeks have been filled with packing, then unpacking - buying, then returning and buying something different - cleaning and rearranging only to mess it up again.  Jack keeps running around the house saying "I can't WAIT to go to RUSSIA and see my brothers!"

I should have taken some photos of the boys room... we keep calling it "Ground Zero" since it looks like a bomb went off in there.  As each suitcase is packed up the room gets cleaner and cleaner.  The only thing we have left to pack is our clothes and toiletries.

I've been researching different parks and outdoor things to do with Jack while we're there.  We're still hoping to see the boys at least four or five times prior to taking them the final time.  We'll be bribing them with bubbles and cookies... I have no shame.

Today is my last day at work, and I have to say I'm relieved.  It's not my last day forever, just until my maternity leave is over.  I feel like I have so much left to do, but we really don't.  Tomorrow I have to pick our money up from the bank (gotta love those new $100 bills), and get my skirt for court from the tailor.

We've got all our gifts and orphanage donations packed.  I was able to get a great deal at Carter's and bought some summer footy pajamas.  We'll ask if they have another specific request when we're there and get them what we can.

I've gotta run get ready for work... Paka for now!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

In just a couple of weeks...

We FINALLY get to see our boys again!!  At that point it will have been FIFTEEN weeks since we met.  I doubt they will remember us at all, and that's the hard part.  We did so much work getting them to warm up and get comfortable with us... now it all starts from scratch.  The big difference this time is that it's for forever.  We won't be coming home again without them.

I'm looking forward to being able to spend time with them again, getting to know them and starting the attachment process.  Who am I kidding?  Attachment?  More like survival in the beginning!  We are hoping to be able to see them at least four times during the two week wait.  We have to pay for a driver and translator each time, and the cost adds up very quickly!  We're hoping to have the last two visits come the two days prior to our pick up day.

Ooooh!  I never laid out the proposed time line for you.  (this is as close as I have it) We get there Sunday the 23rd and check into our super cool, deluxe Peace Travel apartment (which I just found out will NOT have hot water for the first three days we're there?)  **Updated - We will have hot water to shower, just none in the kitchen **

I'm pretty sure we'll have our medical exams on Monday and be able to see the boys on Tuesday.  Quiet day Wednesday, then court on Thursday the 27th.  The court decree should be ready for pickup on the 8th or 9th, which means we'll actually pick the boys up forever on the 9th or 10th of June!  Depending on how efficiently we can get our paperwork done, our flight home should be Thursday, June 17th... maybe a day earlier, depending on how things go.

We've still got a fair bit of stuff to do, mostly busy work, but the list is long enough to make me wince a little when I look at it!  We are getting so excited!  It's coming up quickly!

Paka, paka for now!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

On May 27th.... life as we know it will change forever

I've been politely stalking the folks at CSS since our paperwork arrived last weekend via another adoptive family.  I talked to C yesterday and she said she was pretty sure we wouldn't here anything about our date until after the May holidays.  Then this morning I got an email with our court date!

In less than six hours we had flights confirmed, apartment rented and the visa applications sent out to the agency.  Having three weeks notice for court feels so decadent.  We had three DAYS notice before we had to fly out when we adopted Jack.  Now THAT was stressful!

Their little clothes are all sorted out and washed, the diaper bag is packed, the room is ready.  Are we?   When I think about what it means to bring home two little guys, I still get a little stressed and anxious.  I hope that by planning for the worst, we will find it doesn't live up to our fears.

I will post more as we go along, but for now "I gotta get outta here!"  (family joke)

Monday, April 19, 2010

And now we wait...

We signed our court petition as well as new Post-Placement and Registration agreements, had them notarized, drove in rainy, nasty Friday night traffic to get them apostilled, then sent them on their way to Russia.  Well, they'll be on their way next week when our local agency folks fly to Moscow to meet with their Russian counterparts.  If they can get there, that is!  Hopefully that volcanic ash cloud will clear soon so everyone can resume traveling.  I know of a couple of families that are stuck on the wrong side of the Atlantic... either trying to get to their new children, or trying to get home.

Now the clock starts ticking.  They are free to be adopted, and boy oh boy are we ready to bring them home!

We're famous...sort of... okay, not really...

I got a phone call Friday from local news reporter Matt Roy wanting to do a "human interest" piece on us.  It seems he got a email referring him to our blog, and tracked us down locally.  Kind of cool, but a little bit scary too.  Crap, people can FIND me?  I'd best be a bit more careful about what I write then, eh?  Anyway, we talked on the phone for a few minutes and VOILA... we are least in our own minds.

A photographer came out on Saturday and took some pictures of the family.  Lance asked me later, "Hey, do we get to proof the photos?"  Yes, dear.  The local news affiliate is going to rush the photos back to the house so we can pick the most flattering one...not!  (for the record, I knew he was kidding)

If you're interested in reading the article, you can find it here.  (ETA: Link now takes you to local TV news broadcast of our interview) The accompanying photo recycles through the main home page.  Frankly, I looked a bit wall-eyed.  I think the stress of it all is finally getting to me.  Clearly, I need a makeover and some microdermabrasion!

Go ahead, you can admit you're jealous of the fame we've achieved.  It's not often you see adoptive families catapulted into the limelight like this!

I'll just spend the rest of the day basking in my own glory... if anyone needs to reach me, call my agent.

ETA:  Link now defunct... thanks for letting me know Lauri!  There is a new link to the TV broadcast that was done a day later for WBZ news.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Are we being Punk'd?

Sooo, maybe adoptions aren't "suspended"?  It would seem that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement this morning that loosely translated into a "suspension of adoption proceedings".  Interestingly enough, adoptions are not handled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  The Ministry of Education (MoE) who DOES handle adoptions denied knowledge of any such suspension.  Typical.

Seriously, I don't think I can take much more of this.  I posted on my agency's Yahoo group that I keep expecting Ashton Kutcher to jump out of my closet.  If he did I'd probably beat him to death with a hammer!  My nerves are shot.  If I were a drinking woman, I'd be passed out under the dining room table right about now!

We're still signing the paperwork tomorrow and getting it apostilled.  We are going to continue moving forward until someone drops a piano on our heads.

If you hear a big jangly crash tomorrow, it's just that piano falling on my head....

I can't believe it...

I refrained from commenting too openly about the whole fiasco in Tennessee.  It just boggled my mind that someone would return a child to Russia like a pair of shoes they didn't like.  We've sat in a state of suspended animation the past week waiting for the TN District Attorney to step up and file some charges against the "mother" of the poor little boy caught up in this mess.  Apparently they still haven't decided whether or not a crime has been committed or not.  REALLY?  Umm, the last time I checked, child abandonment was a crime.

That issue aside, where do adoptions stand now?  No one knows which cases will be allowed to move forward, if any.  What happens to the folks that are in the 10 day wait?  In Russian civil/family court the judges decision is not final until it is signed 10 days later.  Does that mean that families caught in the waiting period are suspended too?  Some folks have mentioned (hopefully) that families that have already traveled on Trip One and that are waiting for court should be allowed to complete their adoptions.  My gut says that won't happen.  I think the whole thing is going to remain frozen until an agreement is reached.

The agreement.  What will they ask for?  What will the US agree to?  I will be calling my agency today to chat, like everyone else.  I know the answer will be "We don't know".  I just want to hear it from them.

Anyone want to join me on a trip to Tennessee to kick some ass?  I imagine I'll have to get in line...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Who the hell is Bob Dooley?

Hello again... I know, I know.  It's been a completely ridiculous amount of time since I last posted, but I have to tell you that you haven't missed too much.  It's been a LONG few weeks waiting for the next big event... waiting to sign the court petition.  We officially sign on Monday, the 19th and our agency will hand deliver it that week.  We're still hoping for a court date some time around the middle of May.

We've gotten more stuff together and finished some household projects.  I've gotten a couple of FABULOUS gifts and prizes from friends and family members, and given a couple to myself!  My lovely sibling bought me a Peg Perego Twin Aria 60/40... Ooooh, it is so cool!  It only weighs 19 pounds and collapses nice and flat.  I'm a little in love.  The best part is that there is no middle wheel, so when you're trying to walk quickly, you're not constantly kicking that thing in the middle!

I broke down and bought myself a Skip Hop Duo Diaper bag.  Sigh.  Another purchase that I want to take to bed and cuddle!  It's been touted as one of the better diaper bags for families with multiple diaper wearing small humans.  I am in the process of packing it for our trip, and I have to admit, I start to hyperventilate a little every time I think about it.  Somehow packing diaper bags and getting clothes ready makes it a bit more real.  Here's a photo of the diaper bag so you can admire it...

And here's the one of the best biggest surprises EVER!  I came home from work on Tuesday at the same time Lance did.  I was saying "Hi" to Jack and getting a little pre-schooler love when I hear Lance yell from the front foyer (I came in the back door) "Why is there a Bob Dooley in our foyer?"  Genteel soul that I am,  I yell back "Who the hell is Bob Dooley?"  I walk around the corner and find a brand new, still boxed up Bob Revolution Duallie stroller.  I stare blankly at him, we stare at the box...  then Nana comes around the corner and says, "Oh, I forgot to tell you, Amy brought this stroller by for ya'll."  WTH?  Of course I call her right away to clarify that she has indeed lost her mind and given me this amazingly generous and thoughtful gift.  Yep.  She did.  How crazy, insane, over the top is that?  I still can't believe it. Thanks, Amy.  You are too kind.  Of course, I shall include a photo of the aforementioned marvelous stroller...

That's all the news that is news around here.  Now back to our regularly scheduled waiting......

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Martha Stewart, eat your heart out!!

My gracious, I've been a busy bee this weekend!!  Lance keeps coming up to me and checking for a fever... he swears I must be ill.  I've been making freeze ahead meals for when the boys come home.  I got into the IDEA of it a long time ago, but since my middle name is "procrastination" nothing ever really happened.  In the past, I've bought and tossed about 75 pounds of ground beef and chicken, all in the name of throwing some recipes together to freeze.

This weekend, however, I came through in a major way.  I've made and frozen three shepherd's pies, three meat loaves with sauce, two packages of Honeyed pork chops and an Italian sausage casserole.  YUM!!  I actually took some photos to share, but then thought about how sad it was that I was photographing food.  I got all excited because I sprinkled paprika on the shepherd's pie... all of a sudden I felt like I was on the Food Network!  Pitiful, I am just pitiful.  Clearly I am amused by a small amount of spice.

We figured out the car seat scenario... it cost a little money, but it was worth it in the long run.  We've been griping and complaining that our current compliment of car seats and boosters wouldn't fit in our Highlander.  Several of you suggested the Sunshine Radian Kids line of car seats.  Of course, being a relative cheapskate (unless it comes to keeping my roots done) I balked at the price.  $299 for a car seat!!  Did it buckle the child in by itself?  Was it platinum plated?  Dear God!  

I read a nice little article in which someone was asked the million dollar question... would you rather pay XXX amount of dollars for new car seats, or $30,000 for a new vehicle to put your old ones in?  Ahem.  I was a bit embarrassed by the revelation.  Long story short,  I started looking at the Sunshine Kids seats with a less jaundiced eye.  I called around and found a store that actually had three in stock and would let me take them out to my car to attempt to squeeze them in.  

They fit beautifully.  It was liking watching the pieces of a puzzle click together.  Three little soldiers lined up in a row... oh, my.  There are THREE car seats in my car!!  Now I'm standing in the parking lot starting to hyperventilate and the man from the store starts offering me money off the seats in an effort to calm me down.  Three children... I'm going to have three children.  It's one of those random little thoughts that crops up during the course of a normal day.  I'll be putzing along and see three little boys with their parents, or I'll be thinking about getting something for Jack and realize that I'll have three to buy for soon.  I feel like Aunt Pitty in Gone With the Wind... has anyone got my smelling salts?

Anyway, back to the carseats.  After we found out how well they fit, I wandered back to the "outlet" part of the store to see if they had any bargains.  Lo and behold... there's one of the seats I want for $30 cheaper because it's an open box return.  I look furtively around, then my sister and I pop the tape on the box to check out the contents.  Well.... it was a final sale... I had to make sure all the bits were there, didn't I?  It was all in there, along with the manuals, so I bought it.

With that one in the middle, our other two seats fit.  We're still trying to decide if we're going to keep the older seats.  Isn't there an expiration on car seats?  I thought I read they were "good" for six years after manufacture.  Does anyone know?  If we buy new ones, I found them online cheaper with no tax and free shipping.  That'll save us about $75 off the price in the store.  Every penny counts, man.

I think that's all the news that is news around here today.  Tomorrow marks a month since we met them. It seems like time is moving quickly, but still like we have forever to go... you know what I mean?  We'll be able to sign our court petition in five weeks, then things will start flying.

Have a great week, we're wishing the best to all the other waiting families!!

Friday, March 5, 2010


All of us that live in the Boston area should band together and send our local USCIS office a little love.  I have been continually amazed by their speed and courtesy.  Last August we went in on Monday the 24th for our scheduled fingerprinting appointment.  The office in Lawrence, MA is brand new, sparkly clean and the staff were so polite and helpful.  On Saturday the 29th we had our approval in our hands.  I was completely stunned.

After we got home from our first trip where we were surprised by TWO little boys, we realized that our original approval was no longer valid as our oldest son was over 24 months (the upper age limit on our form).  After speaking to our home study agency, we pulled together the paperwork to amend our USCIS approval to allow us to bring home our children.

I mailed the paperwork out last Friday... as in one week ago.  Thursday morning I received the new, amended I-171H approval.  When I got the envelope, my heart sank, I thought they were asking for more information, or telling us something was missing from our request.  When I saw the updated approval form I had to sit down.  I am just floored.  They really have it together, and they are working in the best interests of the families and children.

Thank you so much Boston office.  You have my eternal gratitude.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I am one tired girl!

I knew there was a reason I only worked two days a week!  I've been picking up extra time at my job in the ER and good LORD am I tired!  There is only so much crazy one woman can bear.  For those of you that might be thinking that a trip to the ER is a necessary part of your day, let's lay a few ground rules, shall we?

1)  Please don't start off your story with "Well, it all started three months ago..."  I'm sorry, I'm not interested in three months ago... why are you here TONIGHT?  If we need to, we can back it up and talk about the distant past once we have today figured out.

2)  (related to #1) Please don't tell me that whatever is bothering you has been going on for three or four MONTHS and that you've never spoken to your primary doctor about it.  Really?  And now it's an emergency because....?

3)  (related to #2) Please don't yell at me about why I'm not giving you something for pain in Triage when you've been having pain that you've told no one about for three months.  You waited three months, you can wait for three more minutes for me to finish asking you questions.

4) Please understand that we have to take people back based on the severity of their complaint/illness.  Don't yell at me because I took the baby that couldn't breathe to the back before I took you... when you're suffering from an ingrown toenail.  (true story)

5)  Please don't tell me that your pain is a "10" on a 0-10 scale when moments before you were chatting/laughing/texting on your cell phone, calmly reading the paper, or eating Cheetos.

6)  (related to #5) Please don't come in complaining of severe abdominal pain with a bag from Mickey D's in your hand... then in the next breath ask me if you can eat.  (true story)

7)  Please don't tell me that you thought you should "just get this ~blank~ looked at".  That's what your primary doctor is for.  Is it bleeding, falling off or exploding?  Now you have my attention.

8)  Remember there are certain orifices on the body that are designed to be "exit only".  If you stick something in there, and get it stuck, please don't be offended if I ask you how it happened.  I need to make sure no one was trying to hurt you.

9)  If your child has a fever at home, PLEASE give them Tylenol or Motrin before you bring them in.  It is not necessary for me to "see" the fever to believe you.

10)  Finally, please don't let your children play with the medical equipment or ring the nurse call bell over and over again.  It makes me want to cry when I have to pick up 748 little otoscope covers from the floor, or when I have to answer the call light 15 times because you won't stop little Timmy from pushing the pretty buttons.

Most importantly, if I seem tired or stressed, it's likely because it's been a long day and I've been at it for 12 hours.  I love my job and I love helping people, but some days are just too much!

I hope you all take this with the tongue in cheek spirit in which it was meant.  I've been a nurse for over 20 years, and I've never wanted to do anything else.  Okay, perhaps I'd like to win the lottery and move to Bimini, but short of that, I'll keep doing what I love.... "fixing people's boo-boo's" (Jack's version of what Mommy does for a living).

Have a great day... I'm heading to bed!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Everybody's Workin' for the Weekend...

Ahhh!  The 80's.  I loved them so.  I was a huge fan of big blonde permed hair, frosted champagne pink lip gloss and black eye liner that you heated up with a lighter.  I could, and did, completely rock a banana clip!  Now I have sensible hair, subdued lip color and tastefully applied eyeliner.  When did I get old and boring?  I suppose I could try and work the eyeliner and lip gloss again, but without my spectacular neon oversize t-shirts and matching socks, the effect would be lost.

I regret not having children when I was younger.  But it just wasn't meant to be.  I didn't meet Lance until I was in my mid 30's and we flogged the fertility horse until it fell over dead in the yard.  We went through a brief (and sadly disillusioned) phase where we thought we'd be "child-free".  As usual it all ended in a crying, not Lance... and we started trying to adopt.

I wonder what kind of Mommy I would've been 20 years ago?  Would I be as self-confident?  Would I be as much fun?  Would I have been a SAHM, or would I have focused on my career?  Would I have taken my children and my family for granted?  I'll never be sure how that particluar story played out.  The only thing I'm sure of is that I wouldn't have been given the spectacular gift of being Jackson's Mom.  ~sniff, teary eyed snort~  Man, I love that boy!

Anyway, I digress.  You know what?  I'm like Dug in the movie "Up".  It's like my brain is trotting along in one direction and suddenly... "SQUIRREL!"  Now what was I talking about again?  Oh yes, I remember now... but then sometimes I don't.  I'll start a sentence and then fade off in the middle.  Lance will be looking at me with an expectant look in his eye and say "Yes? You were saying?"  To which I reply "I forgot".  Then he mutters something about me taking Aricept and Namenda for my Alzheimer's disease and how I make him crazy and how can anybody really just fall apart in the middle of a sentence...

Aaaand, there I go again.  Wow, I really did forget where I was going with this whole thing.  All I remember was singing Loverboy and reminiscing about how much fun the 80's were.  I think I'm going to go cut the neck out of a t-shirt and have a private Flashdance moment.  If you walk past an out of shape, middle aged woman wandering through Target, looking confused and singing "Maniac" under her breath, please stop and say "Hi!"  I won't remember your name, but I'll enjoy the company.