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!!