Friday, January 27, 2012

My Valentines

This year for Valentines Day, Derek is taking me to Europe and getting me two of the most precious valentines you could ever imagine:

That's right!  We have a court date:  February 14th!  Honestly, Valentine's has always been one of those "okay, whatever" sort of holidays for me.  I make my kids heart shaped pizza and heart shaped cookies, maybe I help them make valentine cards to hand out, if I find time, and other than that I really don't get too excited about it.  

Well, all of that is about to change!  Valentine's Day will always and forever mean so much more to me now.  Lord willing, Derek and I will be named the parents of two beautiful, worthy little boys on this day.  How amazing is that?  God loves these boys so much that He has orchestrated their adoption to take place on the day of love!

We are praying for the funding to come together for these extra trips back and forth.  We had budgeted for three round trip airline tickets:  two for Derek and me the first trip, and then one more for my second trip to go pick up the boys and bring them home.  Now, because of the long delay between meeting the boys and court, we had to go home, which is adding another two round trip tickets to our tab.  After court Derek and I will both need to go straight back home afterward.  We have work and childcare issues that just can't have us being gone any longer than a week on this trip.  So then I will wait at home for the 10 day waiting period, and when the adoption decree is finalized, I will fly back over a third time to get the boys.  

And because of the boys' extensive needs, I am going to need to take my mom over with me on that third trip so I can get both the boys home safely.  Add another airline ticket to the tab.  Plus my mom's passport, which we've had to expedite to make sure it gets here in time.  I am so thankful that my mom is willing to drop everything for her new grandsons, yet again, and cross the ocean with me to help me with what will probably be a not-very-fun series of appointments, hotel stays, train and plane rides with two very bewildered, overwhelmed, overstimulated boys, one of whom is medically fragile and cannot tolerate much human touch, the other one just wants to bounce and explore and run and run and never stop running.  It's going to be an adventure, that's for sure!  

So right now we are praying for child care to come together for our kids back home during my third trip when my mom will be traveling with me and Derek will need to go to work during the days.  We are praying for funding to come together to cover the three additional airline tickets we had not anticipated.  We are praying for no delays and no problems with court.  We are praying for a favorable ruling from a judge in a village that has never had an international adoption before.  We are praying that our boys are safe and healthy while we have to be apart from them, and we are praying that somebody is explaining to them what is happening in their lives, and that they know we are coming back for them.  We are praying that very very soon our whole family will be finally together!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Snow Day

We don't get a lot of snow here in western Washington.  So when the kids woke up to a white wonderland outside, they didn't even take time to get out of their jammies or eat breakfast before they were scrambling for their hats and mittens!  They were convinced it was going to melt any second.  (It has been known to happen.)  Little did they know that this time the white stuff was going to stick around for four days!  But here they are, still sleepy-eyed and in awe like it's Christmas morning all over again.

Molly, staring intently at the snowball in my hand (hey, it's the
only way to get her still enough to be anything other than a blur!)

Snowball fight!

I think Josiah is ticked off that I declared my camera (and
of course, by extension, myself) a snowball-free zone

Gracie modeling her bed-head and pajamas

After breakfast, Derek helped the kids make a snow fort

Josiah wants to live in the fort!

So you might be wondering what's so interesting about this picture.  It's just a coat, right?  There's no cute little kid to admire.  Well, that's what I'm thinking, too.  Needs a little boy, doesn't it?  This little coat represents one of the two little boys missing from our snow day.  Can hardly wait to zip my little boys up into their cozy new coats that I just bought for them.  To tug mittens onto their tiny hands and to kiss their noses as I adjust their hats.  (And to see them in something other than those purple and hot pink coats that the nannies like to dress them in!)  

I wonder if Gideon and Micah are going to like the snow.  I suspect that Micah will need some time to get used to the idea.  I can't imagine Gideon not loving it.  So far he seems to love everything!  My little scientist launches himself into every new experience at full speed, ready to investigate and explore and figure out, ready to experience everything that he's been missing for these five long years.  Yeah, I think he's going to love the snow!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Missing 2 Little Boys

Despite my devotion during our travels to hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, Airborne, flu shots, bottled water, and avoiding all produce, I managed to pick up some wicked germy junk that hit me on the way home, and spent the last three days laying on the couch trying not to moan out loud, because that tends to scare the kids.  Derek, who during our trip rolled his eyes at me whenever he saw me whip out my hand sanitizer or vitamin supplements and who would rather eat gravel than get a flu shot, remains healthy.  Of course.  

The fever and chills are finally gone, and I can walk across the room without the earth suddenly tipping off its axis and dumping me onto the floor, so I think I am getting better.  Finally!  I am really ready to play with my kids and bake for them and soak in their sweetness for as long as I can, because we are hoping to be hopping back on the plane again and going back for our boys very soon! Not sure yet when, but soon I need to get back there and hug these little boys!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Heading Home for a Bit

We received word that our court date will most likely be at least two more weeks out, possibly longer, so we decided to head back home for a little while to wait for progress to be made.  Derek can't afford to miss any more work right now, and our other kids back home have really been needing things to get back to normal.  

Our last visit with the boys was hard.  I felt awful, knowing that I would have to leave them.  They seemed so much more comfortable and relaxed with us, and so happy, and I wonder what they will think when we stop coming to visit.  I was reassured that the nannies will explain to them that we will come back soon.  I sure hope so.  I am going to miss them so much.  

We traveled from Wednesday through Friday, on zero sleep, and finally made it home Friday afternoon (about midnight according to our finally-adjusted internal clocks, but middle of the afternoon according to our kids, who were so sweet and full of joy to see us again!  The big five-minute family hug in the airport?  Awww.  Pure heaven!  We sort of managed to stay awake the rest of the day, because we didn't want to miss a moment of soaking in our kids' wonderfulness.  

It is so good to be home again!  And Derek is looking forward to getting back to work.  Apparently, the life of leisure is not a good fit for him!  He is so ready to be busy again.  

So we are just waiting for word that our paperwork has been processed and that we have been assigned a court date.  And I sure hope that it comes soon.  Because on the other side of this wall, in an institution, two little boys are waiting.  Waiting to see if their new mama and papa are really going to come back for them.  

Visit Number Five

Visit number five:
Both of the boys chose Papa first today.  Papa was playing peek-a-boo
with them, and they thought it was pretty funny!  (I know, Gideon is not
smiling in the picture, but one of these days I am going to catch a picture
of just how cute his sunshiny smile is!)

Think Micah is starting to trust his new Papa?

My big boy can drink out of a cup!

Micah kept throwing his cup away, and Gideon kept returning
it to him.  He seemed so concerned that Micah wasn't drinking
his water . . . my sweet compassionate Gideon!

Micah sitting up and scratching one of the many
scabs on his head.  They definitely seem to be getting
better, but we still have no idea what caused them.

Gideon is definitely getting more comfortable plopping down
on our laps to play.  Here he is going through the backpack,
trying to find something new to play with.

When the boys are still and cuddly, we try out our Russian
phrases.  "I am your mama.  I love you.  You are so smart.
You are so handsome.  My dearest.  My sunshine.  My son."
Do you think he is listening?  Do you think he understands
yet, that his life is about to change?  We are praying that the
nannies will continue to explain to them who we are and what
is about to happen.  We are praying that the Lord prepares
their hearts for the huge changes about to happen.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Visit Number Four

After three long days away from our sweet boys, 
we were greeted by this sweet smile:
and this bouncy little boy:
(Gideon, by the way, is always way too busy to stop and pose for a picture, so when you see pictures of him caught in mid-action like this, or better yet, a blur racing past the front of the camera lens, just know that there is a lot of happy energy fueling that blur!  This boy has been waiting his whole life to play and explore and run!

And speaking of play, here was our breakthrough moment of the day:
Micah seems to be a boy who is very certain and dignified in expressing his wishes.  When I offer him a sippy cup, he pushes it gently away.  No thank you.  When I tried to pick him up the first couple of days, he slid off my lap, carefully and calmly.  No thank you.  When I try to convince him to hold a toy and play with it, he generally pushes it away, ever so gently.  No thank you.  He does not want trucks or trains or airplanes.  He does not want to try to color.  No stacking toys.  No toys inside of containers.  No blocks.  At first, he did not want to have ANY toys near him.  He just wanted to hold our hands, stare into our eyes, and smile at us.  Tickles were good.  Toys, no thank you.  This is going to be a long learning process for him, to be sure.  So far, we have gotten him somewhat interested in playing catch with a ball and playing with a big punching-ball-type balloon.  Well, today I pulled out this plastic tube thingy (from the Dollar Tree) and low and behold, he likes it!  He thinks it is funny to bop himself on the head with it.  (In case you are wondering, his hydrocephalus does not seem to cause him any pain, and he definitely doesn't mind bumping toys against his forehead like this.)  This is not exactly meaningful play, and it is not ideal, but believe me, it is better than seeing him refuse to even touch the toys!

And then he discovered that he could that he could do this with his finger!  Hey, it was a breakthrough.  I'm excited for him!

Gideon, meanwhile, just can't get enough of the toys.  He stops occasionally to eat a snack or cuddle, but usually he is busy stacking blocks, driving trains, or coloring during our far-too-short visits:
Gideon has come so far in the last year.  From what I knew of him and his situation a year ago, all I can say is that he has come so far.  

I am so grateful to the sweet nanny who has taken the time to become somebody special to both of our boys.  I hear her gentle tone of voice, even if I cannot understand everything she says to them, and I see them smile up at her with trusting eyes.  This was such a HUGE answer to prayer!  I have been praying for the Lord to put somebody special into their lives until I could get there, and I am still somehow shocked to see that He really has!  God has never forgotten these boys, not for a moment, and I am so grateful to actually be here, and to see for myself that He has been with them.  

I am grateful to the director of this  Children's Home for caring about these little guys, for making sure that their needs have been met, and for arranging for Gideon to have the surgery on his legs which has enabled him to walk.  I am grateful that she is allowing us to come inside the facility and to adopt these boys.  I am grateful that they ended up in this particular facility.  The facility is clean and bright, decorated with children's photographs and artwork.  The director does so much with such very limited resources.  I know she would like to provide the children in her charge with better educational and therapy opportunities, but her budget is very small and her caseload is very large.  However, she truly cares about the children, and that makes a world of difference.  

Exactly a year ago, these two tiny, confused, lonely little boys were taken out of the orphanage.  After spending their entire lives there, they were packed up together and sent off in a car to go live someplace different.  They were "too old" to be there anymore.  Did they look at each other as the car bumped down the road?  Did they reach out for each other's hands?  Did they enjoy the thrill of finally being outside of the orphanage, for probably one of the only times in their lives?  Did anybody take the time to explain to them what was happening?  Were they scared?  Nervous?  Terrified?  I don't know.  I wasn't there.  I didn't even know about them then.  They could have been transferred to just about any institution in the country.  Wherever there was a bed available . . .  The Lord was with them.  He was watching over them.  And I am so grateful that my boys ended up here a year ago, when their transfer date came.  I believe it was the best thing that could have happened to them.
God has kept them safe until we could get to them.  
My funny, sunny little boys!

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Food and Other Mundane Details

First, our darling Micah's baby picture:
and Gideon's sweet baby picture:
So many parents do not get baby pictures of their adopted children, and we will treasure these glimpses into our sons' past.  We are trying to remember as much as we can so we can tell the boys about their birth country's culture as they grow up.  We want them to know.

Now on to the mundane details of daily life as we wait.  You may be thinking that we are enjoying exotic local cuisine and expanding our palates at each and every meal here.  Well, if so, I hate to disappoint you, but we are really not finding anything amazing or adventurous to rave about at mealtimes.  Here is a typical breakfast for us (thanks to our water kettle . . . before we bought that it was usually just yogurt):
And at lunchtime, it is usually sandwiches and juice.  We are both getting tired of PBJ.  Derek's favorite is swiss cheese and corned beef on rye.  And we were happy to find some mustard in a fancy, upscale food market before we left the big city, so that really helps to liven up the sandwiches!  The juice here is very good!
For dinner, we usually order a pizza.  We have not found any other restaurants or places to eat in the village (well, except for the meat pies from the deli counter inside the market, but that really doesn't count!)  The pizza is wonderful!  We usually eat at the snack bar in the hotel lobby.  The lady there has come to expect us most evenings.  We stumble our way through ordering, in (probably very bad) Russian, a pizza, a pot of green tea, and a cup of coffee.  And this is what she brings us:
It is fabulous!  And all for less than four dollars!  Can't really beat that, so we keep coming back, night after night.  I have to say though, 15 days into this adventure, that I am really, REALLY craving vegetables!  A big bowl of steamed broccoli perhaps, or a great big green salad.  But since there are no vegetables to be found, at least none that are safely cooked, we finish the day with treats like this instead:
That is a tube of chocolate ice cream on the right, which is a little tricky to open once the ice cream is partially melted, but it is quite delicious.  If you know Derek, you probably know that he has quite a sweet tooth, so he loves that these bags of toffees and candies are about a dollar each.  
And the bottles of water cost us about a dollar, which is not bad.  We drink it, we brush our teeth with it, and we wash dishes in it.  We go through a lot of water.  

The money is colorful.  I love that the bills get larger as the denominations go higher.  A 200 note is much larger than a 1.  200 pays one night's stay in the hotel (equal to $25).  
My nine-year-old, Isaac, will be interested in the European electrical outlets:
and the light switches:
And we are rejoicing that our very long weekend is nearly over and we get to go see the boys in the morning. The highlight of our day today was this:
We finally found a place to wash some laundry!  Now it is spread all over our room, drying.  We seriously did not travel to the other side of the world to eat pizza and do laundry, though.  This has been a whole lot of sitting around doing nothing this weekend.  We are SO READY to go see our boys again, and ready to get this adoption finished and to get all of our babies home together, where they belong!  

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Hotel

So you've seen the village we are staying in 
(or if not, see yesterday's post.)  
With buildings like this:
and this:
and this:
all around us, and vehicles like this:
rumbling down one of the only paved roads in town,
you may be wondering what sort of place we might
have found in which to stay.  Well, imagine our surprise
when we pulled up in front of this building:
and were told that this was our hotel!  Right in the middle of this thousand-year-old village, there is a brand new building, built last year, that is sparkling and perfect.  And inside, we discovered a grocery store, a 3D movie theater, a pizza place, a fitness center, a sauna, a salon, and yes, 
a hotel!  
The 3D Theater, with 7 rows of seats, 6 across.  We can hear the
sounds from the movies rumbling through our wall.  We are
thinking it would be fun to see Cars 2 in Russian before we leave!
Here is the hallway to our hotel room:
and once inside, we discovered a clean, cozy little room, quite reminiscent of our days living in Married Student Housing at Bible College, complete with occasional bouts of claustrophobia, boredom, and general irritation at spending 24/7 in the same room with each other (except here we get to feel like Rob and Laura Petrie as we settle into our side-by-side twin beds each night):
I love the high ceiling and arched doorway:
and our cute little balcony (even if the locals do all stop in their tracks and stare up at us whenever we go out to get a breath of fresh air:
Our entryway:
The bathroom is very nice, with all the hot water we want from an instant hot water heater.  And I get to wash dishes in the bathroom sink again, just like our good old Bible College days:
Here's the extent of our kitchen.  A fridge the size of a shoebox and a tiny rolling table to heap things on, prepare meals on, and then hover over as we eat our meals.  Again, very much like our newlywed days, except then I had a toaster oven:
See this cute white kettle?  It is our new best friend!  We bought it for ourselves yesterday at a tiny hole-in-the-wall shop we ventured into, and I'm not sure what I am more excited about:  the fact that we managed to communicate with the shop owner clearly enough to find and purchase this little beauty, or that we actually have a way to prepare all of those Folgers Singles, hot chocolate packets, soup packets, and instant oatmeal that we lugged halfway around the world!  Because sandwiches, yogurt, and a cup of water, meal after meal . . . it gets really old after awhile!
Even though technically they allow smoking in this hotel, the building is new enough that we can barely smell it.  Much more tolerable than other places we have been in!  The room came with an ash tray, but Derek found another good use for that . . . it makes a dandy candy dish for these candy covered raisins from the store downstairs:
We brought games, DVDs, and books, but all I can say is, not enough!  We are so ready to get back home and be busy again!
The rooms here do not have internet, so we were thrilled to find this wonderful device, which allows us unlimited internet use for about a dollar per day (plus about $50 to buy the wireless modem initially).  Well worth the cost to be able to stay in touch with our kids back home:
And out back, behind the hotel, there is the nicest playground I have seen so far in this entire country.  Right in our backyard!  I think Micah would be very overwhelmed by all of this, but I can hardly wait to take Gideon to play out here:

Here's the back of the hotel right next to this lovely park:
So there you have it.  Our oasis!  Oh, and the cost to stay here each night?  $25.  Praise the Lord!  With the money we are saving by staying here, and by not having to pay a driver to take us to our visits with the boys (since they are within walking distance of us) we are hoping to have enough funding left to buy a second plane ticket back here for my second trip, so I can bring somebody with me to help get the boys home.  (For those of you who may not know, we will probably be flying home after court and then I will be returning about two weeks later when the paperwork has been processed and the boys are cleared to leave with me.  Derek will need to stay home to work and be with our other kids during that trip.)  With Micah's delicate health and sensitivity to stimulation, and with Gideon's curiosity and busyness, I am praying that we might be able to find the funds to bring a helper back with me for the second trip!  I could do it alone, of course, but what a blessing it would be to have some help!  

And we want to thank whomever has added to our adoption fund again!  We were so so grateful to see that this morning!  THANK YOU!  You are such a blessing to us!  Truly, all of you who come back to read more about our adventure each day, and especially all the kind and encouraging comments left for us . . . it means SO MUCH to us!  Thank you for your love and support!