Introducing our budding family. We hope you will enjoy watching us grow... and everything else under the sun. ;)

OMgosh what on earth is that?

OMgosh!?!? What on earth is that?
Today's activities consisted of a little exercise. We took a walk to the nearby spaceship, err, mall... and did some rounds until we found a children's store. We were on a mission to find something puzzle-like or music orientated for Diana. We were in luck when we found two puzzles, one fantasy and one cube shape of the Disney princesses.

We met with Diana today for an hour an a half.... not as long as yesterday, but we take what we can get. We immediately brought out the Disney puzzle, which was a little tricky. She enjoyed stacking them - and we enjoyed showing them that it was ok to have fun and knock them down. This gave us the giggles, her included... and we quickly pulled out the cameras. Once she was ready to move onto the next activity, we gave her an option. She happily chose and pointed to the other puzzle we brought her. Here were 3 adults and 1 child and we were amazed by how "puzzled" we were trying to put it together. In the end, Diana, Mama, and Papa, ending up tossing the pieces in the air and goofing off. We all now had the giggles.

After the puzzles, Papa took Diana to the tunnel on the other side of the room. She crawled through to the other end, and he met her on the other side - playing peek-a-boo. More giggles and laughs. It's good to see her smile... Shortly after we found out just how ticklish she really is... REALLY TICKLISH! We tickled her, and then she wound up in Mama's arms - where she noticed that awesome necklace again. (she must be thinking, "Mama wears this quite often, doesn't she have any other jewelry?"). She played with it on my neck, and then I asked if she would like to wear it. We put it on her neck and then she admired it. She took it off and helped put it back on Mama. So sweet...!

Then afternoon finished in the room with a round of coloring an drawing. She likes to draw cats and flowers... or so she says. We draw them and then she repeats it back in Russian. We did coloring for a while, played hide and seek with the pad of paper and flipped through about a dozen pieces of paper. No trees were harmed though.

In the end, we were sad for our time to be over. The caregiver came in to let us know time was up, but told Diana to say goodbye and blow us a kiss. Quite possibly the sweetest thing yet! The caregiver mentioned she was going to take Diana down the hall to do a quick height and weight for us (so we can purchase or receive clothes when we get back to the States - then we would know what size she wears). We waited patiently.... and several moments later she emerged with Diana. Diana came down the hall holding out a piece of paper for us. SO CUTE! We said our goodbyes one more time to Diana.... until tomorrow.

Mel (P.S. if you haven't read it yet, below is another post from earlier today that describes her orphanage). 0 comments

Orphanage for Diana

Some of you might be curious about the state of Diana's orphanage.  On our drive in, our wonderful driver, Andrey (pronounced Andre) informed us that her orphanage is one of the best in Russia.  Well after spending 3 days there, and having not been in any other orphanages around the world, I must say I am most certainly and utterly impressed.

First off, the director is also a licensed physician, she had a very in depth medical report prepared for us on Diana. The halls are very clean and in good condition. There is a play area outside that looks to be in good condition as well, right now probably not used much due to the cold weather. This is orphanage is for children aged newborn to 5 years old (we think). Andrey is also the driver they use for deliveries or to run errands, he is a very good driver, considering the roads are not all in the best of condition, but to be honest not that much worse than American roads after a hard winter. And the staff are very caring toward the children and have them on a very tight schedule, which of course is needed for such an atmosphere.  Today's staff went beyond the call of duty by giving us her current weight and height and saying some very nice words about Diana. The dresses she wears when she comes to visit us are adorable (you can see pictures of her if you become friends with us on Facebook, but eventually we'll be posting some here as well.)  She always has barrettes that match her dress, and on one occasion she came out wearing pigtails, it was so cute!

Each visit they have brought us to a new room to play with her in.  The first day must have been the whole group/music room, the back wall was beautifully decorated with a bright sun, and one wall was full of windows so the children could see outside.  There were numerous children sized chairs, well built as we were even able to sit in them.  A full sized piano, a cabinet of various musical instruments, recorders, maracas, xylophones, tamborines, etc.  Finishing off the room was a huge puppet stage for entertainment.

The second day we were in the Montesorri room.  So many developmental toys (fine motor skills and puzzles galore) I couldn't begin to describe them all, some I wish we had in the States for Hayden to use.  This is the room that held the magical toy "The Rainmaker" which led to our first full out gigglefest and huge smiles with Diana! It also had a working sink which Diana used numerous times to bathe the baby doll we brought with us. I think we'll have her teach Hayden how to take a proper bath. There was also a mini-slide which Diana impressed us by climbing expertly, although the slide down led to her getting scared. We will never forget this room and we are so bringing out the rainmaker in storage and placing it in her room for when she arrives home in a few months.

Today, the third visit, we were brought to yet another new room!  This one was the gym, I took pics of this room before we left.  It had a little exercise bike, a trampoline, roller stepping mats, mats with beads inside them, clearly thought to help with sensory input! It had a cute tunnel, which Diana loved climbing through, a bouncy ball for the kids to ride, and other obstacles to work on their gross motor physical development.

Should be interesting to see which room we visit in tomorrow on our last day (sigh) hard to have to leave her Thursday for possibly 6-8 weeks before we get to bring her home.  But it is comforting to know she is in a good place with warm hearts and caring hands.

Michael 1 comments

Cold and Sunny with a Chance of Giggles

Playing with babydoll down slide with "Papa"

First a quick update on other activities.  Yesterday started at 11 AM with a drive to downtown St. Petersburg to get our visas registered.  On the drive our interpreter also happens to be a tour guide and gave us some history of the city and of the sights.  After our interpreter registered us we next arrived at the Foreign Minister of Education offices, walked up a long winding staircase (the railing was a bit loose but no one fell).  We waited for a bit in the hallway as we heard our in-country coordinator and the Minister talking.  Our interpreter gave us a quick rundown of the types of questions we might be asked such as "Why do we want to adopt? etc."  We then entered the room, which was a bit daunting, with the Minister sitting across from us.  It turned out the Minister did not ask us any questions, asked for our passports and boarding passes, wrote our names down in a notebook, and our coordinator handed us some papers to sign saying we accept the referral.  And that was that piece of cake.

And now for the fun visit of's Mel... 
As usual, we wait inside a room to hear the pitter-patter of her little feet. Today, we waited in the montessori. It had every wooden toy imaginable! Us adults - Michael, our interpreter Kat, and I, thought they were cool and were even  playing with them.
Anyway, in walks our little girl - dressed in her sandals from yesterday, but in a pretty blue velvet dress. She didn't seem as shy today as yesterday, but when you toss a toddler in a room with a bunch of adults calling your name, there is bound to be some tension and confusion.... I imagine. ;)

We started slow, playing with blocks, matching cylinders, rolling the "O" ball we brought her... She thoroughly enjoyed the "O" ball and didn't stop that activity until we almost pried it out of her hands! We then showed her her Forever Family picture book, going over everyone's names. Then we pulled out the babydoll. She can't get enough of the babydoll either! The baby eats for 30 seconds, then pees for 30 seconds.... this process continues on for what seems like 10 minutes. All the while, she has the most intent look on her face.
We decide to change things up a little bit... baby is going to get a diaper rash! Let's talk baby for a ride on the slide! She seemed a tad bit apprehensive about this, but went along anyway. She enjoyed catching the baby at the bottom - then we had her climb the slide with baby, UH-OH! Little "D" got scared after her second ride down...  Let's give baby a bath!

A quick break in between for lunch, and the caregiver gave her an outfit and hair-do change (whoops, hope the baths didn't get her too wet)... and she was back ready to play for more. Our interpreter told us that one of the caregivers said Little "D" didn't want to leave.... Awwwww!

We read a bit after the 20th bath and "Papa" got her to give him some funny looks as he faux slept! We then pulled out a rainmaker and that's where we got to hear her giggle. Mama would shake Little "D"'s hand and she would light up and chuckle. So much, she got the hiccups! Up until this time, we mostly heard a mouse whispering in Russian. One time she yelled "mooska" for mouse when the adults were all talking (I think she wanted to get our attention *hehehe*).

The visits keep getting better and better... and that will make it harder to leave her on Thursday evening.

Amanda commented, asking how old Little "D" is. Well, she's not a baby, hence us not referring to her as a baby anymore. She will be 3 at the end of May. She has dark hair and the biggest beautifulest eyes! We have officially signed the papers accepting her as our referral.

Check out a pic of hubby and I below of us sightseeing yesterday.
We miss you guys,

Michael and I sightseeing 3-28

Little Girls and Their Dresses

"D" fixes her dress, then admires Mommy's necklace again
Yesterday we met our daughter... in walked a very timid little girl. We heard tiny foot steps coming down the hallway, holding the hand of the orphanage director's hand. She had been woken up special just for this trip - and dressed up in the cutest dress just for us. But the second she saw everyone in the room, the poor little girl started to tear up.

Once our in-country coordinator calmed her down, she handed her off to me... she gripped onto me reluctantly at first, but after awhile, she did not want me to let her down. Our wonderful interpreter repeated everything back to "D" and told her everything was going to be ok and eventually she let us show her some toys.

But what helped calm "D" relax and play was her mommy's shiny necklace. It was long and had lots of rings on it... and matched her pretty black and white dress perfectly. So mommy took it off and placed it around her neck, a lovely fit!

We played babydoll... a gift from her mommy and daddy. She knew exactly what to do! She fed the baby, rocked the baby, and even had the baby go "pee-pee-pee" on the potty. She has a very good imagination and has a long attention span (Yay!). We also enjoyed books, one about a Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and one about the Care Bears, though I think she preferred the Mickey mouse book. It was adorable hearing her soft spoken voice say "mushka", Russian for mouse. We also colored, she scribbled, but we enjoyed watching her choose bigger or smaller.

We put together a book for "D" to keep of pictures of her "Forever Family". We made sure to go through it with her so she would know we are her Mama, Papa (in Russian) and Hayden (I believe at one point she tried saying his name "Hay") is her brother - and of course that she has 2 kitties! She repeated back "Mama" and "Papa" (and we oohed and ahhed) and then made kitty sounds at the end.

Later on, we sat on the couch after she took a break for snack (and took Mommy's necklace with *hehehe*), we listened intently to "D"'s medical history and her background. Once snack was over, she came back in and we had more time to play. First, we listened to a little concert she put on with her mini-xylophone.  Colored some more with her sitting on mommy's lap. Then we sat on the floor and played ball and we got some smiles out of her. She mostly played ball with our interpreter and Daddy while Mommy snapped pictures this time. But we couldn't help but notice that she would fix her dress almost every time after she threw or rolled the ball. And if she wasn't fixing her dress, she was admiring her mommy's necklace.  Before we knew it play time was over, one of the orphanage workers walked her away, but not before she turned around to wave bye to us, too cute!

Today we are back for a longer visit. More pictures and more videos. We can't wait to share them with you soon!

Missing you all!
Melissa (and Michael) 3 comments

airports, airplanes, and apartment

Hello all, first things first we are safe and sound in St. Petersburg, Russia.  Left chilly and windy Chicago Saturday night on Michael's birthday and arrived to chilly, windy, and SNOWY Russia Sunday afternoon.  A friend kindly drove us to O'Hare (thanks bunches), and we were able to chill out before loading the packed Airbus.  While I dozed here and there, Mel stayed up watching movies and stretching her legs.  Almost 8 hours of flight later and we landed at Heathrow Airport.  Even though we were leaving from the exact same terminal we still had to follow the purple signs down escalators, to a transit train, up escalators to a security, then to a sprawling lounge filled with perfume shop galore.  Our hearts were pounding as we waited and waited for the screens to post our gate, it kept saying "gate opens at 8:41" yet never mentioned which gate until 8:50 and our flight was supposed to leave at 9:20.  So we trekked past perfume shop after perfume shop before arriving at our gate.  After a brief delay for the incoming flight, we hopped aboard a much smaller plane for about a 3 hour journey to the small airport of St. Petersburg.  Coasted through immigration and customs to find Andre the Driver waiting with a sign with our names on it.  A very friendly man, we lucked out!  He even bought us some water and pop for our apartment and was going to give us some money in case we wanted dinner or to get some groceries.  But I had exchanged some at Heathrow, now I wish I had exchanged it all at Heathrow for a small flat fee, next trip I am so doing that.  Fearing how much "commission" I'll have to pay at a Russian bank tomorrow.

And now really quickly, the two security posts...O'Hare's guards were rude and made us rush through getting our stuff in baskets and then out of the way.  It included a full body x-ray, but no pat downs.  Whereas, Heathrow had us take all of our quart-sized clear plastic bags filled with liquids out of baggage, wanted our computer out of baggage, wanted our coats off and belts off and jewelry off before even making to the security lines.  We were sweating bullets by the time we finally made it there, plus they had us pass at least 8 other security lines before finally having us stop at the very last one...good grief!

Sigh...our tired bodies are telling us it is time to rest as tomorrow is a big day: first sight seeing with Andre, then our interview with the Minister of Education, then a drive to the orphanage to meet the directors, staff and Baby D!

Thanks for all the well wishes!
Michael 1 comments

"You say goodbye, I say hello..."

Russian flag, waving in the wind

By the time you read this, Hayden will be in the care of his grandparents, and we will be headed off to the airport!

The past two weeks couldn't have gone by any slower - we have been busy preparing our visas, ordering our plane tickets, making a list of all the things that needed to get done, and then we started packing. But wait! We needed to get it straightened out who was going to watch Hayden, the cats, and feed Hayden's fish and frogs. It has been quite the ordeal.

The timing couldn't be more perfect. Both Michael and Hayden have off for spring break and we have gotten called to visit and meet our daughter for the first time.

We plan to keep you posted during our trip. We will be 8 hours ahead of you, and hope to find decent internet connection - because I won't be able to survive without it. ;) Please keep in mind, due to privacy issues and us wanting to keep our blog public, we will not be posting pictures of Baby "D". You may see an ear, toe, hand, etc... but that's all until she is forever ours. ;)

So, until we touch down on our layover or our destination and settle in (omg!)...

Over and out! 1 comments

Happy Birthday Michael!

A cake I did not bake... :(
This a short post because of our busy day but I wanted to give a shout out to my amazing husband, and a great father - HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Later this afternoon we will have some very VERY good news for you. I promise it will be worth the wait and suspense. In addition, our spring break will be filled with lots of exciting news, so keep posted!

Happy spring!!!!! @-->--- 0 comments

"OH Thank You, Thank You, Thank YOU!"

Busy season has officially started in our household. Every house I'm sure has one. And though, just by giving it a name adds more to my plate (and stress)... it means that Spring is just around the corner.
What is busy season? Well... March, April, May, June, and the beginning of July is busy season. And what makes it so busy is birthdays, birthday parties, holidays, school, therapies, and plays. And every little tidbit in between that that crams our weekends. Don't get me wrong. I love the busy season - but sometimes it's just nice to say... "Ah... we have nothing to do today". Know what I mean?

Since busy season is here... that means other "things are near". HA!, that rhymes. Baby D is closer now than we've ever been, thanks to the best phone call we have gotten in a LONG LONG LONG time. We shared our great news with Hayden the other night, and what we heard was something like this: "OH Thank You, Thank You, Thank YOU!" This was accompanied by big hugs. It double-made our day! ;) Although we can't share the news publicly with you guys just yet (except with immediate family), stand by for upcoming posts in the nearby future. ;)

So, what's been going on with us lately? Michael is looking forward to Spring Break. And his birthday *wink wink*. Hayden is starring in a new theatrical play called Aristocats... he will find out his part in the next coming weeks. He has also started a new therapy group for speech/social cues. This is a great opportunity for him to practice and learn everyday behavior when playing and talking with other children. They are currently working on bullying - which is such a huge must these days.
I have been driving myself batty with my new electronic digital craft cutter (thank you hubby!). Now, I consider myself technologically-crafty - but this thing is driving me MAD! I am on my 4th card, and am getting better. I won't tell you how many pieces of paper I've ruined though. LOL I am able to make scrapbook and papercrafts items, crafts for the home (using paper, fabric, and vinyl!), and so forth. In addition I am working on crafting SPRING crafts - got to love the dollar store.
Back to Hayden - though his birthday isn't until the middle of April - he is in the works of "planning" it already. He is like his mom - he likes to be prepared. ;)

Enjoy your day & hope for the warm weather!
Mel 0 comments