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Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!

My New Year resolution is to adopt more children than I did in 2007.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Expert

As we wait, here are my latest findings:

I (as an adoption waiting expert) have found two books that I would consider essential for any family adopting from Russia.  

1.  Simple Language Russian for Adoptive Families.  Katie and I have purchased no less than 5 books on how to learn Russian and this is by far the best.  You won't speak fluently, but no one ever does anyway.  At least this one has phrases that you'll use.  (Such as Pah-ZHAH-luh-stah, nee PEE-sai v shtah-NEE.......   translation: Please don't go potty in your pants)




2.  Another book that I've absolutely fallen in love with is Mishka An Adoption Tale.  
This book is a wonderfully written book about a little bear (Mishka) that is "adopted" into a family and given to a little boy who was being adopted from Russia.  It's very clever to have the dynamic of the bear's feelings along with the little boy's.  One of my favorite things in life is to read to my children.  This will, no doubt, be a popular read with Pasha.  


Sunday, December 23, 2007

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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Translation: The Angel said, "Today, a Savior has been born. He is Christ the LORD". Luke 2:11

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Truth about picture

OK, so let's come clean about the "drawing". It's actually a photo that I edited via Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0. It was nothing more than a click of a button...

Anyway, Merry Christmas to you all. Zac has already received numerous presents for Christmas. We'll be sure to do an inventory review after Christmas is over.

"For unto us a child is born..."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Cool Picture

How cool is this? (Look at the name on the picture book)




Saturday, December 15, 2007

Winter Wonderland

We were having fun in the snow today!


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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Day 2 - Part 2

The following is a detailed account of Trip #1 Day#2 Visit #2: (our trip taken back in June)


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

Let the Paperwork Begin...Again

Today we received a call from our home study social worker. She wanted to let us know that our homestudy and fingerprints need to be updated. She was so kind and we are happy to know that others are helping us keep track of all the paperwork that needs updating. She said the homestudy update consisted of one visit to our home and of course we have to drive to Lincoln for the fingerprints. Well, at least we know what we need and how to get it done. Anything that brings us closer to our little boy is well worth the time and effort. By the way, check the ticker...79 days until databank release!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Day 2 - Details

Going back to the details of Trip #1, Day #2...


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

Christmas Brunch

(Katie blog)

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!







video

Thursday, December 6, 2007

More Details

Two things:

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

Tragedy in Omaha

I'll keep this short. After today's senseless tragedy, I'd like to let everyone know that we are all fine.

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

Revisiting our first trip

It seems that a large majority of my blogging friends are in Russia right now. It's been very fun to follow each of their stories as things unfold. One thing I've picked up on is how short and crazy trip #1 is for most people. The people blogging their trip #2 seem more relaxed and seem to have more time to adjust to the ridiculous amounts of jet lag. The people on trip #1 just fly in, see their kid(s) for a day or two, and then fly out. (Usually, without sleeping).

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.


Meeting Zac:
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!