Monday, December 31, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
After our morning visit with Zac, we had a few hours to tootle around. We spent most of this time shopping for various gifts. Gifts for the both the caretakers as well as the children.
We made it back to the orphanage around 4:00 for what would be our final visit with Zac. We headed up to his room, and we watched him eat his dinner. Because of his special visitors, he ate early before all the other kids. During this meal, we were able to capture a really good video. It's particularly cute because Zac was eating this "bread thing" with "cheese stuff" in it and the cheese part got over over his upper lip. He looked like the "Got Milk" posterboy. Very cute.
After his quick meal, they let us take him into a visiting room of some sort. It was here that we realized this poor little kid had a major fever. He was actually sweating and was super hot to the touch. Everything seemed to aggravate him. Instead of trying to play with him and get him to smile, we just cuddled. For 1 whole hour we cuddled. I didn't try to roll him the ball. We didn't try to stack blocks. We didn't put him through any cognitive tests. We just held him. And sang. And softly read him books. Actually, just one book. (over and over again) This was because they only had 1 book in ENGLISH: 5 Little Lady Bugs. Fortunately, it's a pretty good book so we didn't mind. Also, anyone with kids knows that kids LOVE to repeat things OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER..... you get my point.
Some of the most precious pictures and videos were during this visit. Although he was so sick, he was also being very sweet. Not necessarily "happy" but definitely sweet.
Obviously, we have missed many moments with our boy, Zac. One thing that I'm thankful for is that we were able to hold him on that day that he was so sick. I'm sure that there was nothing he needed more than alittle TLC from his Mommy and Daddy. (except for Tylenol)
When our time was up, we took him back upstairs as it was time for more outside playtime. Apparently, many of the children were sick that day - so about 1/2 of them stayed inside and had quiet storytime. We watched the sick kids file into the bathroom first for potty time. When they came out of the bathroom they took off their shoes and socks, and went into their sleeping dorm. (A room with about 20 beds). As they were walking into the bedroom, the kids stepped into a bucket of water that had rocks in the bottom. The rocks were abbout the size of golf balls. I've thought about this several times afterward, and I've never been able to come up with good reason as to why they did this. I understand that they were washing their feet, but what's with the rocks? We'll never know...
As we peaked our head into the bedroom, we saw approximately 10 children sitting in tiny chairs circled around a caretaker who had just pulled out a book to read. Knowing that this was the last time we would see Zac on this trip, I said, "Pasha, Das Vi Danya" (I realize this is probablly not the correct spelling, but oh well. I attempted to say "Pasha, Good bye")
He loooked right at me, got this big smile, and waved good bye to me. HE SMILED! Although he did smile 2 other times during our trip, his smiles had nothing to do with us. This time he smiled AT US.
Of course, Katie and I laughed later that he probablly was smiling because he knew that we were leaving. Either way. I'll take it. This kid has a beautiful smile.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Sunday, December 9, 2007
We were picked up at our hotel around 10 in the morning. We were very eager to get back and see Zac because our first day was such a whirlwind adventure. Already it seemed that we barely could remember him. (Now, we know every little detail about his face - but at the time, things were all still very new).
We waited outside the front of the baby home and I immediately began snapping pictures of the outside. We were not led into the home, but rather we were escorted around the building to the back where there was a playground.
The playground was much bigger than this picture shows. It was almost as if the playground was divided into 3 or 4 "sections" like this. I'm assuming it was for logistical reasons. (Allowing different aged kids out there at the same time, etc.)
We walked over to the particular area where Zac's "class" was playing and caught a glimpse of Zac. I was hoping to get a chance to "spy" on him for awhile, without him noticing us. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Zac saw us at the exact moment that we saw him and the tears began to flow.
"Oh good." I thought to myself. "He remembers us".
We gave him a cute little stuffed puppy. His extreme affection toward that puppy compensated for his lack us enthusiam toward us. This made us feel good considering we spent WAY too much money on that little puppy. (Remember that we endured our entire trip without luggage - therefore we paid MOSCOW prices for that little piece of synthetic fur)
The caretakers immediately suggested that we take Pasha on a walk in the stroller. Sounds good. He actually seemed to like this. Well, not really..... more like: He didn't HATE it.
We tooled around the back area for awhile. (Side note: It was June 19th - a perfectly GORGEOUS day in Southwest Siberia. Most the kids were wearing bulky fleece coats or even snow suits. "Weird" we thought to ourselves....
After a while, we couldn't take it anymore. We took him out of the stroller and held him. Ahhh..... we held him. It was a beautiful thing. The next 30 to 45 minutes were going back and forth between me holding him and Katie holding him. All the while, we were taking lots of pictures and video's. (in hindsight, not enough pictues though. You can never have enough... especially, if you have to wait 9 months to go back and get him)
During the holding, he certainly wasn't overly loving, BUT he was cuddly. He didn't push us away. He didn't try to get down and run off. He didn't look around as if he didn't care. He snuggled, and kept a very watchful eye on whoever was holding him. We have some precious videos of him looking at Katie out of the corner of his eye while she held him. At one point she kisses him on the forehead and you can actually see him let down his guard a little. It's as if he's saying, "I have no idea who you are or what your intentions are, but thank you for the kiss.... that was kinda nice"
We eventually put him down and let him play without us. We figured he needed a break. He tooled around with Puppy under his arm and in a very short amount of time, all the other kids wanted a piece of the "puppy action". Poor little Pasha couldn't go 10 feet without a kid grabbing at his new prized possesion. At one point, I saw Pasha throw an elbow at one of the kids who was reaching in.
"Yea!" I thought. "Kick his butt!"
This kid is not wimp that's for sure. How could you be in this environment?
At that point, it was time for lunch. We scooped him up and brought him back inside. We handed him off to a caretaker. It was time for our lunch too. We were set to return around 4:00 that afternoon.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Just wanted to share our morning happenings with all of you. Let me back up...a week or so ago Hallie came up with a, "great idea." She wanted to have a REAL tea party for her babysitters. I thought that was a super fun idea, so we invited our babysitters over for brunch this morning. We got out the china, teacups, and everyone got dressed up. When our guests arrived Hallie greeted them at the door and they all sat down at the table for brunch. She gave each of them a picture she had colored for them and an ornament that she had hand picked for them. During our tea party we even played a game where each of the ladies picked a question out of a crystal bowl and gave her answer to the group. For example, one of the questions was, "If you were a princess for a day what would you do?" After brunch we took a group photo and then Hallie wanted to dance. So all six of us danced to, "How Do You Know" by Amy Adams (aka Princess Jiselle from the movie Enchanted). Anyway, it was a VERY girly morning and lots of fun. We really have some amazing young women that care for our kids when we are not home and we are very grateful for them. Enjoy the pics and video!
Thursday, December 6, 2007
1. We just got 26 (yes! Count 'em! 26!!!!) pictures of Pasha. I won't share the details of how we got them, but we did. The biggest part of the 26 pictures is that he is SMILING in several of them. He's even laughing in 1 of the pictures. This is a really big deal b/c he only smiled twice during our entire first trip and every picture subsequent to this, he has been very somber looking. I can't begin to say how thrilled we are with these pictures. I'll go into more detail some other day.
2. I wanted to continue my details of our first trip:
A short time after the "ball game" that we played in the first few moments of meeting Pasha, it was time for lunch. In a very quick and orderly manner, the children sat down at their tables. There were approximately 5 or 6 small tables that sat 4 kids to each one. I'm not exactly sure, but it appeared that the kids had assigned seating. Either that or the kids were VERY decisive as to where they should sit.
This is where things really got interesting. (Keep in mind, meal time is the single biggest parenting battle that we go through in our house.... on a daily basis. We've read entire books on how to control the situation during meals.)
The caretakers put bibs on each of the children whereupon these 1 and 2 year olds took it upon themselves to place their draping bibs onto the table and then place their bowls on top of the bibs. (Thus creating a "catch net" for anything that might possiblly not make it into their mouths). This didn't seem to be a problem though because each and every one of these children had extremely good command of their utencils. - yes, that's not a typo. These 1 year olds were using forks and spoons.
The room was completely silent. There was no complaining. There was no "picking" through their food. They just ate. And ate FAST. If any child even so much as lifted their head, a caretaker was there to quickly push their head back down toward their food. (Not in an abusive way - just a "no nonsense way" - or what I came to realize was the Russian way.)
No sooner did they start, but the second course of the meal was brought out. Some sort of rice thing. Followed by chicken. (we think And finished with some bread. (A dinner roll) Come to think of it, it was a meal that I've had at many-a-wedding receptions.
At the end of it all, they brought out drinks (water, I assume) No sippy cups. No bottles. Just regular cups. It was explained that they wait and give drinks at the end of their meal, otherwise the kids may fill up their tummies with nothing but liquids. (Oh yea.... good thinking..... Hallie has done that trick before). So they give them their food when they're hungry and drinks when they're thirsty. Dang! These guys are smart.
Just at the point when I'm thinking that these children and super-bionic-perfect children, one of them dropped and spilled their drink all over the place. Whew! I was beginning to get a little freaked out..... or at the very least, thinking that I was a pretty lousy parent.
Side Note: Zac was NOT the one who dropped the drink. (Good job Pasha!)
Believe it or not, that was the extent of day 1.
I have to admit though, day 1 is pretty fuzzy in our minds.
This is because:
1. We were not allowed to take any pictures on the first day (so not to freak out the children)
2. We were only there 45 minutes at the max
3. We had gone 3 1/2 days and only slept 1 night. Our brains were not sharp.
Next up: Day 2.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
During the shooting, I was at work. (See map below. My office is point A. The shooting was at point B).
Needless to say, we're pretty shook up..... yet we are so blessed that we're merely "shook up". There are others whose lives will be forever changed after today.
While at work, I heard a bunch of sirens and saw the helicopters going around the mall, but honestly didn't think much of it. Obviously, I was wrong. Our prayers go out to all the families involved.
View Larger Map
Monday, December 3, 2007
The result is that the trip #1 bloggers stories are very short, patchy and incoherent. I've gone back and read my entries during that trip and have thought to myself: "That's it?!? That's all I came up with?"
So I've decided to use the next few blog entries to attempt to re-document our Russian Adoption adventure trip #1.
We were sitting in the orphanage director's office along with D&A. Things quickly grew quiet and tense. Not tense in an uncomfortable way. Not tense in an angry way. Just tense because we knew that in the next minute or two we were going to meet our son. This little stranger from a far off land was just about to become OUR SON.
The director called the other couple first. (Dang it!) Katie and I were escorted into an unused room. We looked around and were a little distrubed to see 3 little examination beds as well as high-tech "medical devices for the children". (See below)
No need to comment. Finally, Katie and I were called in. We walked in, held hands, and got big goofy grins on our faces. The director pulled out his picture and we were immediately in love. This kid has the most amazing eyes. (You'll see 'em eventually. You really will!) The director went on to say that Pasha is very smart. The smartest kid in his group. (Does she say this everytime? We'll never know...) BUT, she went on to say, he definitely has an opinion. He knows what he wants and he'll let you know when he doesn't get it. Hmmmm.... I thought to myself. He sounds like ANY kid. And myself for that matter.
She disclosed more about his medical history and then it was time to go see him. We walked up the stairs and poked our faces through the door into his room. I saw him and immediately recognized his face. He was standing up and reaching into a big tub of what looked like duplo blocks. He pulled out two at a time and was stacking them together. (Good skills, I thought to myself)
An orphanage worker called out his name in a motherly way. "PAAASHAAA".
He looked up from what he was doing and shot her a big smile. His smile was subtle. He appears to have a smile that doesn't reveal his teeth. But what is revealed is his electric eyes. He squinted a little during this smile and this caused a jewel-like sparkle to relect off of the entire room. (Little did we know, but this would be the last smile that we would see from him for most of the rest of the trip)
The worker went on to say something to the effect of "Your mama and papa are here." (I'm thinking it was in Russia, but at this point my head was completely spinning). Pasha took one look and us and burst into tears. I honestly wasn't disappointed, nor was I surprised. The tough part was that all the caregivers took it upon themselves to try to sooth his emotions.
Now anyone with kids knows that when multiple adults get involved with a crying kid, it only makes things worse. Each adult starts singing AND shooshing AND calling out his name AND.... AND.... AND. It's moments like these that the mom needs to bust into the scene, pick up her son and quietly rock him back and forth. The problem was.... well..... you know.
So we just sat there and watched him freak.
Fortunately, this didn't last too long. One of the workers sat him down on the floor and then rolled a ball to him. He rolled it back to her.
She rolled it to me.
I rolled it to him.
He rolled it to..... her. (dang it!)
She rolled it to me.
I rolled it to him.
He rolled it to..... her again! (Dang it again!)
This went on for a while. But each time he seemed to fear me a little less and a little less.
I wasn't really trying to push things. I figured, "I'm adopting this child. He's going to be my son for the rest of eternity. I need not fully bond with him in the first 10 minutes."
In full truth, there really wasn't a lot of bonding going on during my first few days with Hallie or Jake either. (Unless you considering changing a diaper full of meconium a "bonding moment")
So there you have it! A detailed account of the first moments with Zac. Not a fairy tale, but it rarely is. If anything, stranger anxiety is a GOOD thing. A very good thing. He knows who he trusts. He knows who he doesn't trust. This only makes him normal.
Next story: Play time came to an end and it was time for.... EATING!
Thursday, November 29, 2007
To our very pleasant surprise, our agency sent us 4 more photos today. You'll all be relieved to hear that Zac is still the most beautiful child in all of Russia. Certainly no change. His hair is starting to evolve from "too dang long" to "prince-like flowing locks" (kinda like Prince Charming from Shrek)
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
So here is a run down of how cool our "new" friends are:
1. D&A (who we traveled with in June and who were also sentenced to 6 months in "Databank prison") mailed us a Siberian Silver Fir Yankee Candle. How appropriate! It's really yummy.... smelling, not tasting.
2. R - just went to Russia to finish her adoption and took a disposal camera with her for Olga to take pictures. We just got confirmation that they took more pics of Zac and we should get them back in a week or so! Yea! More pictures.
3. It seems like every single one of our blogging friends are in Russia right now. It's so awesome to read their adventures. Of course, deep down inside, I'm quite bitter.... just kidding...sort of. No, I really am... kidding, that is.
I'm especially happy for Steve who was my original motivation to start a "dad blog". (We seem to be a minority) He's waited longer that we have, so it's only fair that his adoption journey is coming to a close. (I'm fully aware that a new adventure is just beginning, but at least the paperwork will be a lot less going forward .... until they start doing Estate Planning, or buy a new house)
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Here are just a few examples:
Zac may not know it yet, but he has two drawers full of his own clothes.
Additionally, he dominates the top part of the closet in "boys' room"
And each night, his bed, bear and blankie eagerly wait for his arrival.
Shortly after our return from Russia (in June) we hung up Zac's brand new fluffy bath towel. We can't bring ourselves to take it down, so it quietly sits there. (The striped one on the right).
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Anyway, it hit me today that this may be a tough Christmas for us. Everybody keeps telling me that "the holidays will go by fast and then it'll almost be time to go get Zac".
Yea, I'm not so sure.
Back in June, I figured that there was NO WAY that Zac wouldn't be home for Christmas. We were really excited to think that this Christmas would be our first with our new child. There is definately something special about a baby's first Christmas.
I've tried to be positive and upbeat during this difficult time, but I do have my moments of sadness. I'm not mad. I'm not bitter. I'm just really really sad. I look at that countdown clock and I think, "98 days isn't that great... we've still got a long road to hoe."
But no matter how my thoughts process the events that have unfolded, I keep coming back to the same conclusion: What else can I possibly do besides remain positive? Nothing good can come from moping. (Not to be confused with mopping, which can be quite productive especially if you have hardwood floors)
So, here we are: Still enjoying all the wonderful blessings and moments that have been given to us.
Here's a clip of Hallie & I placing the angel on our Christmas tree. (Truly, the epitome of a precious Christmas memory.)
NOTE: In true Horner fashion, we added as much drama as we possibly could for the camera
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Anyway, I've done nothing but stare at his pictures for the last 15 hours. (except to sleep) I can't study him enough. His eyes (those beautiful eyes) his fingers, his (really long) hair, his lips, his nose, his chubby legs (yea! He's chubby! Their feeding him!) his shoes, his knees, I love it all.
I have no problem closing my eyes and envisioning every detailed part of him. It's nice to be able to "take him with me" everywhere I go. He is permanately burned into my mind.
We were also elated to receive a 6th picture that wasn't included in last week's email. It's an adorable picture of Zac drawing on a chalkboard. After studying that picture thoroughly, here's what I've discovered:
1. Zac appears to be right handed
2. He was holding the piece of chalk very well. It appears that he's not a novice with writting utencils. Once again, it reaffirms our confidence in the Baby Home that he's in. They are really keeping those kids active and learning. I can't begin to explain how happy this makes us. I'm not sure we'd be able to mentally survive otherwise.
3. There was a really good drawing of a truck and a tree on the chalkboard. I'll have to assume that Zac did NOT draw those particular items, but at first glance it gives the appearance that he DID draw them. Pretty funny. Maybe he's the next Picasso. That would be difficult for Katie and I to foster seeing as how both of us have extreme difficulty drawing even a stick man.
4. At the top of the chalk board was the ENGLISH alphabet. Perhaps it was a gift from an adopting family? Nice to know, he has a little exposure to English. The reality is that VERY few people in Novokuznetsk spoke English. We need not get our hopes up that he'll understand much English.
5. He really needs a haircut. The word "mullet" seems to be a recurring comment from others.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
You need to check out this website:
This appears to be some sort of "wonder-technique" that EXTREMELY young children... no wait! Infants! can learn in order to save themselves from drowning.
Back in the day, I taught swim lessons for several years and I've NEVER seen anything like this. Clearly we underestimate what infants are capable of.
Apparently, we all have to go to Arizona to teach this to our kids, but perhaps it's worth it. Afterall, winter is coming up. We all need a good excuse to go to Phoenix, right?
Sunday, November 11, 2007
We had some friends over last night who have 3 kids of their own. Their two younger kids are Hallie and Jake's age, so it was easy for them to run off and play, but the older one was about 7 years old - so he was a little too "mature" for most of the toys and things in our house.
To make a long story short, he and I started goofing around and then I found out that we shared a similar interest in music. He told me that he was in a "band" at school with several of his other 1st grader comrades. (They don't actually play anything... yet.... but they're still "in a band")
Then I proceeded to let him play my drums - He did that for about 45 minutes
Then I proceeded to let him play my guitar - He did that for about another 45 minutes
Then I plugged the guitar into my amp, with full distortion - He REALLY liked that.
But here's the punch line:
When he left, he told his parents, QUOTE:
"I know this may sound weird, because he's ALMOST an adult - but I think Ryan is becoming my new best friend"
Two things that make me happy:
1. I have a new best friend
2. I'm not an adult yet
Saturday, November 10, 2007
1. In our younger years, Katie and I did a lot of singing and dancing together.
2. We were in a show about a year and a 1/2 ago that was an upbeat review of music from the 50's, 60's and 70's. (Jukebox Journey - currently running on and off throughout the year in the Historic Savannah Theatre) -I'd like to give a big shout out to my peeps!!! Bill, Gretchen, Matt, Michelle, Mike and Mario!
3. The producer called us to see if we could revive the show for 1 night only in New York.
It would be cooler to just show you video clips of the show, but we don't have any. So I'll just post still pic's instead.
We really had a fun time doing what we love - AND we got to meet some wonderful new friends. It's hard to describe, but doing a show like this with others builds lasting friendships faster than anything I've experienced.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Picture 1 - Zac sitting at a table with 2 other kids. (Yes, we were surprised too that they would send us photos with other kids in them). But, oh well. It'll be nice to show him someday and see if he remembers any of his friends.
Picture 2 - VERY FUNNY! It's a picture of Zac and 4 other kids all sitting on potty chairs. Although strange at first, we decided that we're happy that we have such a picture of our boy. Afterall, I'm sure that "potty time" is a frequent part of his current routine.
Picture 3 - We may have discovered what the "activity session" on his birthday was all about. Picture 3 is of Zac in front of a mirror with a crazy hat on and holding a doll. Perhaps they were playing dress up? How wonderful that he is keeping active and playing. Naturally, our worst fear is him lying in a bed all day. Clearly this is not the case. I've said a couple of different times that one of our biggest surprises on trip #1 was the quality of care and attention that the kids received at his Baby Home.
Picture 4 - Super Cute! It's a picture of Zac curled up in his bed looking like he just settled down for a nap. It appears that he's still assigned to the same bed that he had when we were there. We printed this one out and have it sitting on our night stand. It's as if he's right here with us....... but not really.
Picture 5 - Appears to be a picture of some other kid. It's alittle blurry, but it's hard to tell. We just laughed. It's much easier to deal with everything that way.
So I guess we really only have 4 pictures.... What a gift today has been.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
This past week, our church had several visitors from the organization World Help. World Help is a ministry that (among other things) focuses on helping orphaned children. They specifically target countries where AIDS is prevalent.
During the morning, these orphans shared their life stories, their music and their dancing. It was extremely powerful and naturally, Katie and I spent most of the morning crying. I've noticed that one byproduct of this whole adoption thing is that I seem to cry more easily. Especially when it comes to kids. Oh well, I also cried at the end of "My Dog Skip". (Katie still makes fun of me for that one)
Here are pictures of what we saw.
WARNING: THESE KIDS ARE REALLY REALLY CUTE!!!
Monday, November 5, 2007
First, I found a friend through a Kemerovo Yahoo group that is traveling to Baby Home #1 for a court date on November 19. She is adopting a little girl that is one of the children in Zac's class. I am forever grateful for the group of friends we have met that are also adopting internationally. Everyone has been so wonderful to sympathize with us in a way that only someone adopting internationally could.
She agreed to take an early Christmas present for Zac and a disposable camera to Olga, our translator from trip #1, so she can take a few pictures of Zac. When I e-mailed Olga to see if she could do this for us this was her reply...
"Hi, my friends! I am sorry for keeping you wait for my answer...I promise to do all my best with the camera and everything. As soon as I learn anything about your adoption affairs, I will connect you. Pavel is doing fine! I will send you his measuments later. Keep in touch! Your friend!"
What a sense of relief to know that we have "a friend" in Novokuznetsk that is checking up on our son.
In addition, we are still waiting on pictures from Zac's birthday, and hoping that our late birthday present will get to him soon. We heard from our agency today. They wrote to us...
Hi Ryan and Katie, The family left this weekend on Saturday with your package, so I would expect that it reached the orphanage today. I will confirm this. I have not received the photos yet or the measurements. I have a hunch that a family that is returning home next weekend will have the pictures. I will let you know as soon as I receive anything! I will stay on top of it, don't worry! Hang in there. I hope you are all doing fine. Best regards.
Our agency is really doing a great job of staying in touch and encouraging us while we wait.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
I have a ton of stuff to post. (We've had an amazingly full schedule the last 3 days). Rather than posting everything at once, I'll try to spread them out. Here's the first piece. We did a "Part 2" of The Office Parody. I thought it turned out funnier than the first, so I went ahead and posted it. (If you look hard, you'll find Hallie and Jake - they were casted as "extra's")
*** (Stayed tuned for further posts about our trip to New York, our "orphan Sunday" at church, and UPDATES OF PASHA!!!
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
I don't remember all the details, but somehow Katie and I were eating dinner in a Russian restaurant. (No doubt, we were "in the neighborhood") and as luck would have it, Vladimir Putin was also dining in the same restaurant.
Somehow our translator appeared on the scene and told us that it was "Katie's turn" to talk to Mr. Putin. As she began to make her way across the room, everyone else in the restaurant started chanting "Let Him Go! Let Him Go!"
The funniest part was that they were chanting this in Russian. (Keep in mind, I don't really know Russian..... so, now I'm wondering, "How in the world did I have Russian in my dream?" ...... and even moreso, "How was I able to translate it correctly?"
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
SIDE NOTE: I have no idea where he gets his talent. A few years ago, I was actually benched by my church slow-pitch softball team. (The ultimate low point in my baseball career... actually, it wasn't really a "low point"... rather more of the epitome).
Sunday, October 21, 2007
I think the pictures turned out great, but it was yet another reminder of how different we thought things would be. A month ago we were discussing strategies as to what we thought may be the best way to take good Christmas pictures of Zac. Now, we're merely moving on without him. Our time frame is quickly moving down to 4 more months (as opposed to 5), but there are still many moments when it seems like time is standing still.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Anyway, this was several months ago and, of course, we said no because of our adoption, but things have obviously changed. And wouldn't you know it but two of the performers backed out last week, so it looks like we'll be going to New York!
That's the good news. The bad news is that it's in 2 WEEKS!!!!
Yes, that's right. We have to re-learn a 2 hour show in 2 weeks! Ooof-da.
so..... I guess that'll be keeping us preoccupied for the rest of October.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
Pasha, on the day you were born, I did not even realize that I was going to adopt. And yet, I can promise you right now that I love you just as much as I love my first two kids. You are 100% my son. You are burned into my heart just as Hallie and Jake are. I've held you less than 2 hours of your 2 year life. I am so sorry that I haven't been able to do more.
Right now, it's about 11 in the morning in Novokuznetsk. I hope that you get cake today. I really hope that we get pictures of this special day.
My prayer is that today is a good day for you. That today you are a happy little 2 year old. I pray that you have pure joy like a 2 year old toddler should have. I hope that you feel like you belong to your environment right now. I wanted so badly to hold you today. You don't understand this yet, but the strength of a father's love is like no other. When needed, dad's can bend steel, outrun cars, or take on a pack of wild animals. Fathers will do anything for their children in need.
And yet today, I am completely powerless to bring you home. We're trying. We really are.
Please know that I love you and we will soon be a family.
Happy Birthday little Pasha. Daddy loves you.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
It started Friday night with a 10 year college reunion with my fraternity brothers. (Lots of grunting, yelling, and laughing)
Followed by Saturday's Husker tailgate and football game. (More grunting, less yelling, a little bit of crying)
Followed by Sunday's Chief's tailgate and football game. (A 3 hour road trip with 7 other guys in a 15 passenger van.... grunting, eating, yelling, cheering, eating, eating, more eating... followed by some much needed Tums)
OK - now I'm ready to go back to my more "hormone-neutral" lifestyle.
Friday, October 12, 2007
A couple of guys at work were talking outside of my office and the conversation went something like this.
"What do you think about Boeing right now?"
"Bowling. Yea, I like bowling."
The next thing I know 7 of us are headed to the local bowling establishment for a quick 2 game tournament over the lunch hour. I'm proud to announce that I was the "winner take all". I now have 50 extra dollars that I didn't have when I woke up this morning. The funny part was seeing a bunch of guys in their 30's dressed in suits and ties out on the bowling lanes. I'm sure people were wondering what in the world we were doing.
The 50 bucks will come in handy this weekend while I'm at the Husker game on Saturday and the Chiefs game on Sunday. Go Red!
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Additionally, we found out that our agency is going to attempt to deliver a cake to Zac's orphanage on his birthday. How cool is that? Even bigger than that, they are going to try to capture pictues of him the day of his birthday. The ultimate would be if he got a haircut for his birthday. (I'm quickly stepping up into the role of his father, aren't I? ..... "cut that hair, boy")
Of course, it goes without saying that we'd much rather have him here in person, but if we can't have that, then I'm glad that he'll have something.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Obviously we had some changes last week. Of course, we are disappointed, but by NO means have we given up hope. To be honest, I'm feeling quite a bit of relief these past few days. I didn't realize how much this "unknown" stuff was weighing on me.
I have seriously considered letting this blog go "dark" for 4 or 5 months until we're back on track with the adoption, but honestly I've grown rather addicted to the process of blogging. I never realized how theraputic it was. Plus, I don't want to disappoint my "fan base". (Anyone? Anyone? Oh yes, thanks mom... send cookies)
Therefore, I have decided to keep it going - BUT I must warn you all that I will most likely deviate from the topic of adoption. It is very likely that this will blog will be evolving into a "life at our house" type of blog. Even scarier, this may be nothing more than a "My thought of the day" blog.
I really wanted this blog to be focused on our adoption process (with the intention of Zac being able to read it someday) BUT I really don't think that I'll be able to come up with a unique and interesting way of saying "we're still waiting" for the next 143 days.
Therefore, welcome to my new blog.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
But these last two days has proved me wrong. I DO have good friends out there. A special thanks goes to Steve and his comments on his blog. An additional thanks goes to Tricia and everything she is going through. It's no secret that this Russian adoption thing is a difficult journey. We've all had our up days and down days.
Thanks for support everyone!
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Dear Ryan and Katherine,
Unfortunately, I have to inform you that we have bad news for you.
We were informed that your child was put at the account of the Federal Data Bank only on August 28, 2007. It means that the child will be available for adoption only after February 28, 2008 because according to the law, all children left without parental care must be listed at the account of the Federal Data Bank for 6 months, after that they are available for adoption.
As the regional inspector explained us, this problem appeared due to some computer failure that happened when your child’s data was first sent from the Department of Education of Kemerovo Region to Moscow Federal Data Bank.
The only thing that I can guarantee you now is that you child will have a special care during that time and I am sending you new pictures. We will provide you with any information about your child that you want.
Once again, I am very sorry that such unpleasant situation happened to you and you faced this delay.
Hmmm.... believe it or not, one of the many emotions we have is that of relief. I'm not really looking forward to waiting 5 more months, but simply KNOWING that I have wait rather than wondering day by day is somewhat comforting. Additionally, we were able to get a few new updated pictures. Zac is still as cute as ever. (Although, they must not put much value in haircuts in Russia - he's starting to look pretty "shaggy").
I'll keep the posts coming. We're refusing to let this get us down. Life is full of choices and we're going to choose to make the most of these next 5 months. Sulking for 5 months does NO GOOD whatsoever.
Have a Happy Day!!!
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
We could ask a million questions that we would never get the answer to and place blame on so many people but that really does no good. The fact of the matter is that Zac has to be on that databank six months before he can be adopted internationally. We hope to find out tomorrow when he was officially put on the databank so that we can estimate when we might go back to get him and bring him home. The scary thing for us is that during this time he could be adopted by a Russian family.
We are trying to remain positive and hopeful. The "good" news in all this is for Zac. If the worst happens and we do not get to adopt him we can be thankful that it was this process that put his name on the databank so that he had a chance at adoption and a family. Of course, we hope that is our family.
We will let you all know when he was placed on the databank. The only other remote possiblity is that maybe because this is happening with all four families they will decide to start his six month wait from the original date that they sent in his documents to Moscow (pretty far fetched).
Thanks for your prayers and support. Please pass our story on to anyone you think might want to know so that we don't have to tell the story over and over again.
We are still going to choose to focus on what we do have, choose to be thankful for it and hope that Zac will still be ours.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
This is pretty cool. Apparently, we can now load video directly to Blogger. That makes life a lot easier. Before, I had to burn my videos to a DVD, rip it back to my computer using the right application, and then load it to You Tube - AND THEN connect it to this blog. Loading direct saves me at least 15 minutes. Whew! 15 minutes all to myself..... Now I can watch the sunset tonight.... yea right.
These videos were taken with our camera that we had to buy in Russia (our video camera was packed in the bags that never showed up.... yea, I still like bringing that up from time to time just to remind you how fun it was traveling without luggage). But I'd say the video qualities are pretty good, wouldn't you? The only bad part about buying a camera in Russia (other than spending an extra 10,000 Rubles) is that the charger has a European style plug in. Therefore, we still have to use our adapter everytime we want to charge the battery.
Oh well, at least we're getting our money's worth from the adapter.
Anyway, the video is of us yesterday at Vala's Pumkin Patch. For those of you outside Omaha, Vala's is our version of Disneyland. (Nebraska-farmsyle) It's huge, full of fun, full of pumkins, and (of course) full of people. It's a great place to go during the month of October. This year's new addition was the jumper pillows. Fun stuff!
I would like to piggy back on Katie's last post. We're actually getting to the point where we are THANKFUL for this wait. (Was that a typo?!?! Did I just say thankful?) Believe it or not, yes. We've been through a lot these past few months. A lot of emotion. A lot of tears. A lot of confusion. But we've finally come to terms with who is in charge as well as what WE can control. And I'm not sure I would have come to that realization had we not been through this wait. I also feel as if I'm more thankful for the little moments than I was a few months ago. Whatever happens, I'm OK with it. Afterall, I have SO MUCH. It's pretty ridiculous how wonderful my life is really.... Afterall, I got to jump on a big pillow yesterday. It doesn't get much better than that.
Friday, September 28, 2007
My heart is slowly, day by day becoming more grateful for this long wait. I can hardly believe I am writing this. This week so much has happened inside my heart that is shaping me and making me into what I hope will make me a better mother, wife, daughter, granddaughter, friend, PA...
This week, while at work, I happened to be the only health care provider present when a young man passed out in the hallway in front of our office. I was called to the scene and realized quickly he was unresponsive, had a weak pulse and labored breathing. It wasn't long before I had to start chest compressions. The paramedics arrived shortly but were unable to revive him.
I was left feeling numb, confused and desperate for an answer to all the why questions I have had lately. Why did this young man die? Why was I the one there? Why are we not getting our call to return to Russia? Why, Why, Why?
Last night, like a wave coming over me, I was compelled to submit and humble myself to God like I have never done before. It's not for me to understand. I am not in control. Instead I was compelled to recognize and express thanks for every moment and gift that is right in front of me every single day. The breath that I just effortlessly breathed, a warm shower in the morning, Hallie's sweet voice on the phone today, the kiss my husband gave me as I left for work this morning, Jake's voice saying, "Mommy" when I came home, my dear friends encouraging phone call and the list could go on and on and on.
Today, this moment is what I have been given so I need to constantly remind myself to be grateful for it and live in it.
Without this wait, I would not have experienced this week's events and for all the deep heartache that was a part of that moment, a lesson was learned in my life that I will treasure and pass on to my children for as many days as I am given. I am grateful that this wait is changing me, growing me and drawing me closer and closer to God.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
This time, we're talking about Katie. Today is Katie's birthday. Wouldn't it have been great to get the call today? Talk about a great birthday present..... yea.... we thought so.... but that didn't happen..... so here we sit.
Yesterday, Katie went down to Lincoln again to update our medical forms. (yes, we're all still healthy) For as much of a nightmare as the first appostille experience was, we're starting to get pretty good at it. Of course, it was a little sad, b/c about 2 months ago we went in there for our "last document" to be sealed. It was this big emotional moment that we were finally at the end of the paperwork.... And yet....
But I'm actually in pretty good spirits. Katie and I have fully surrended to the fact that we're just going to have to wait.
Wait, wait, wait.
Yup.... still waiting....
And I'm OK with it....
Monday, September 24, 2007
A Post from Katie
Well, as you all know we are still waiting for news that Zac has been released from the databank of orphans in Moscow. Ryan talked to our agency today and they did say that Moscow had requested more information about our paperwork, along with four others, from our region. I guess what goes on in the Ministrty of Education is very hush, hush, so the fact they we found this out is actually good news. It means that Moscow does have our paperwork and that someone there has looked at it and is acting on it. We were told not to worry about whatever they requested because it involved all four families from the same region and this sort of thing has happened before. It reminds me of when many agenices were trying to get accredited earlier this year. Moscow had set a timeline, but when the timeline ran out they ended up requesting more documents and forms from agencies. Ultimately, some were accredited and hopefully more will be soon.
I will tell you that we had a great weekend with Hallie and Jacob and the level of anxiety and despair about the situation seems to have lessened. This is very obviously a result of lots of prayer and God working in me to comfort me with the knowledge that in His time He will work this out and bring Zac home. Until then (and forever)he is caring for His children; Zac, Katie, Ryan, Hallie, Jacob etc...I am grateful for that inner sense of peace while hoping that this will be the week we hear news!
Above are some pictures from our family hike through the Botanical Gardens. Hallie and Jacob were troopers. This adventure was after we picked apples at an apple orchard in the morning! I think we might need to slow down just a bit when Zac arrives home!!
For those of you reading that pray, we would ask you to keep up the prayers for us, Zac and that his homecoming would be VERY soon!
By the way, I just love hearing from all of you so post comments if you know how!
Friday, September 21, 2007
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
2. A wonderful daughter who crawls into bed with us several times a week.
3. An incredible son that can hit a baseball like a champ.
4. 2 Parents who live in the same city that I do and who I am able to see 2 or 3 times a week.
5. In-laws that I love like my own family.
6. A sister that I've always had a good relationship with.
7. I have a job that I enjoy going to each morning.
8. I own a Fender Stratocaster
9. I only have 1 car payment
10. I'm physically able to run a mile
11. I've been to Hawaii
12. I'm forgiven....
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Happy Birthday little Pasha!
(Note: For those of you who don't know, Zac's given Russian name is Pavel and if your from Russia, it's not uncommon to be called Pasha. All of the caretakers were calling Zac, Pasha. It's really quite catchy.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
For the first time on this adventure, I lost a lot of sleep last night. What if our "stuff" was somehow lost? What if we never finalize this adoption? What if?
Well, I called our agency again today and found out some more details. First, we think that Russia chooses to let the forms pile up on a desk and when it comes to time to work on it, they start on the top of the pile (which was the last form to be added) and then work down from there.
Second, we did find out that the agency has confirmed that Zac's paperwork is where it need to be and has not been lost. They also have a fairly reliable confirmation that we'll get our letter before the end of next week.
This is good news, but at this point I am VERY guarded. I hate to set another made up deadline of next Friday only to be disappointed again.
This is killing me....
Monday, September 10, 2007
Thanks much! Your boy is doing fine. I have really much to do. I am waiting for you...Your friend!
Short and sweet, I guess... But obviously any news is great news. Zac is still alive, healthy and in the orphanage. All of these things are very good to verify. After 12 weeks, your mind begins to play tricks on you. Honestly, if it weren't for our pictures, I'm not sure I would believe that we were ever there. It's as if the first trip was nothing more than a dream.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
I just got done Reading A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah. It opened my narrow eyes as to a problem that I've never really even paid much attention to in the past. There is a huge problem scattered throughout Africa. It seems that starvation and desparation mixed with bad politics and drugs have caused many millions of Africans to rise up against each other and wage wars that have no resolution. The result is mayhem and death.
I've added a link to a movement known as Save Darfur.
As I've said before, I'm only one small voice, but I'll do what I can. We need to get the word out. The site will direct you as to how you can get involved. You can donate money, buy shirts and arm bands (procedes go to the cause) or even send a petition to President Bush and UN Secretary General Ki-Moon Ban.
Friday, September 7, 2007
In the meantime, I wanted to share the following passage: (taken from Romans 8 - "The Message" translation. I haven't posted too many sermons on this blog, so I figure I'm allowed one or two from time to time. Read it a couple of times if you have to. It's really insightful!
All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it's not only around us; it's within us. The Spirit of God is arounsing us within. We're also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don't see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
I've thought for sometime that the whole "institution" of parenthood was to give us a better understanding as to how God feels about each of us.
Even more, I have come to understand that the institution of adoption is a God ordained one and gives us even a deeper understanding as to how God feels about us. (He frequently calls us his "adopted" kids. No one is simply born into heaven.)
Although this waiting thing really sucks, I think that this passage gives me a little more insight as to what it's all about.
(OK - there! I've learned my lesson, now can we get our courtdate?)
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Unfortunately, we've also discovered that the end of the week (Friday) comes with a pretty depressing let down that says, "No call this week. Try again later".
I'm really hoping that I don't have another let down.
(Which means we need to get the call tomorrow.... or maybe Thursday)
Sunday, September 2, 2007
Thursday, August 30, 2007
As far as updates:
1. Still waiting.
2. There are 7 couples from our agency all waiting for "the letter" from Moscow. 2 of them got court dates on Monday. This may give hope that whoever was on vacation is now back.
3. Katie went over to Valentina's house last night. Valentina is the gal from Russia who agreed to come over a few times a week to speak Russian to Zac (once we get him) to give him comfort. Katie said that she is an absolutely wonderful person.
4. We have heard that Zac's birthplace was actually Kaltan not Novokuznetsk. We've done alittle research to find out more about the city.... but it's hard to read all those websites in Russian. We've seen a few pictures, read a few short paragraphs. (translated by bablefish)
5. I'm really starting to get consumed by this whole thing. Every day that passes by, I think about Zac more. I stare at his pictures that we took on the first trip. I have his face memorized. I can trace the exact outline of his tiny fingers. I can feel his eyelids closing against my cheek. I study every picture and video that we have of him. I don't go more than 30 minutes without some sort of thought about him. Even when I'm really engaged into something.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Anywho, while waiting in line, I noticed a mother of three waiting directly behind me. Actually, it wasn't the mother that I noticed so much - but rather her 3 year old son with a mohawk shaved into his head! "Can you do that?" I thought to myself. It was kinda cute, but.... I don't know. It would seem to me that Mohawks are a self expression of rebellion and individuality. Therefore, I'm thinking that the mom should have given herself the mohawk and stayed with something more traditional for her son.
So I'm opening up this one to a poll. What do you all think? Yes Mohawk? or No Mohawk? Please include your comments as well. This should be fun.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
So in that same line of reasoning - we have tickets to the Nebraska vs. USC game this September 15th. It doesn't get much bigger than that around here. USC is ranked #1. Nebraska is going to have their big "turnaround" season. (Yet to be determined...) Therefore, we've got to be traveling by then.... right?
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
It is the issue of potty training and having two in diapers at the same time. (We did this with our first two but it was a fairly short time period before Hallie figured things out and we were back to one).
Well, Katie and I are proud to announce that Jake is about 90% potty trained. Which, considering the battle we've gone through, is pretty darn good. And the reality is that this has all transpired in the last week or so. We are very thrilled and now are ready for the call. (For we wouldn't want to go TOO LONG without diapers in our lives).
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
First of all, I wanted Hallie and Jacob to have some special things from mom and dad to get while we were away. So, I purchased a new game (Hungry, Hungry Hippos) for both, a punching bag for Jake and a garage sale Cinderella vanity for Hallie. I also got some posterboard for them to make welcome home signs for Zachary.
Before our first trip, Ryan and I read some books on CD for them to have while we are away as well. The funniest is Ryan's rendition of "The monster at the end of this book."
Keep in mind all of these things are SURPRISES for the kids, so family members please do not tell them these treats are coming!
I also wanted to write a letter to Zachary's birthmom so that if she ever got it she would know that her son is in a home with parents that love him and want to provide for him in every way. I also wanted to thank her for giving our son life. Well, I had a chance to write down my thoughts and my new Russian aquaitance that lives two blocks away is going to translate the letter for me!
But, now I have all this done, so I guess we can get the call tomorrow! We'll see. Katie
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Anyway, here's some pictures. Please note the two different tones of green. This is mimick Memorial Stadium's field turf. (Where the Huskers play). Katie and I painted the walls awhile ago. I'll confess that painting that room may have been the most difficult moment in our marriage....just kidding.... but not really.
Seriously, it involved a tremendous amount of patience, measuring and mathmatics. But we persevered and are still married, so it was all worth it.
On a side note related to yesterday's post: We watched High School Musical 2 last night. I must admit that it was pretty good..... OK, who am I kidding? OMG! It was GR8!!!! (sorry my inner Jr. High girl just released itself... I just couldn't resist).
Now aren't all of you wondering why we picked the name Zac. Could it be b/c of Zac Efron??? (Same spelling and everything)