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

The Adjustment Period

A logo from the NEDC, an ad found in
the Adoption Families magazine.

I can't tell you how long I have been holding onto the above picture. I knew someday it would happen... someday this long pregnancy would end and everyone would be sending us their congrats. I am glad that that day is finally here and I can finally wipe the dust off this dear ol' magazine, and show you how proud I am to be a pack rat. Now, I can throw it away. ;)

We have been quite busy to say the least. We arrived home on Friday the 12th from Moscow in the early evening and was greeted by a beautifully decorated front yard (Thank you to my bestie Laura) and the wonderful posters in the front window made by my mom and Hayden. My brother picked us up at the airport and though Deeana had never been in a carseat before, only gave me a mild issue and was fine. She was happy to be off the plane (as were we).

The first night was interesting. Deeana enjoyed the company of her new Babushka and uncle Paul and family friend Laura - but most importantly, her big brother. We finally got her to eat - with the help of everyone else eating. She was starting to worry us a bit about the not eating - but since then, those worries has ceased.

First nights bedtime - it wasn't easy. We knew Deeana would have to sleep with us. But we only have a queen bed... and she's still getting used to Papa sleeping with her and Mama. She woke frequently and cried multiple times for her group at the orphanage.

Day 2 - Deeana couldn't have been more excited to see her big brother when she woke up! She calls him by his name frequently. They ate breakfast together, had their morning snack together... poor Hayden was even dressing dolls with her. He's being a good sport though. He thinks it's cute (for now, anyway) that she follows him around or puts out her hand and wants to take him somewhere.
Since the afternoon was going well, we decided to venture out into our backyard. Both kids went on the swings and Mama eventually figured out that Deeana was telling her to push her. They also played in the sand box.
Later in the day, Michael and I took a break and let the kids play by themselves.... Hayden called out to us telling us that Deeana had one of his church papers and wouldn't give it back. When I looked up, he was chasing her around the kitchen - around and around in circles. She was laughing and he was laughing... and then both Michael and I started to laugh. I told Hayden - this is only the beginning. ;)

We woke up this morning, and realized Deeana slept through the night last night! Either we wore her out the day before or she is becoming acclimated fast. Today, she handled Michael going out to mow the lawn and Hayden playing outside with his friends very well. She only whimpered a tiny bit and then let Mama play with her. Before she was becoming a bit too much attached to Hayden and we were concerned how much that would impact her once school starts.

After lunch today, we decided to be brave. I couldn't stand being house bound. Either Mama was good for playing dolls or for potty duty and that was it. I couldn't leave. So we called our social worker and asked her what she thought about us taking a short trip to the store - and she thought it was fine as long as we kept it local and limit it to one store.
We ended up heading to Target (they don't have Targets or anything remotely close in Russia, least not to my standards) and Deeana did well sitting in the shopping cart. Though when Hayden ventured off or she didn't see him, she tugged on the strap and wanted out. Good thing I snapped her in.
We bought her and Hayden some gym shoes. Got some sippy cups... cuz Mama is tired of cleaning up spills. Got some kiddy toilet seats and more. On the drive home, Hayden and Deeana enjoyed some hip-hop music and did some back seat dancing. I took video of it on my phone, but unfortunately my phone doesn't allow my to upload it to the computer... or at least I haven't had time to figure it out yet.

Deeana seems to be eating better. We need to get her off juice and onto milk, which might prove to be a challenge if she has never drunken it before. She likes her fruit and we have moved onto grapes. She is a very VERY curious little girl and loves to check things out, push buttons, and get into trouble. We definitely have our hands full with her being around, and even though she keeps us on our toes - we wouldn't have it any other way.

Kitties - Deeana is getting better with them everyday. Earlier today she was sitting on one side of the couch, Hayden on the other. Mints, our oldest and most docile cat was sitting in between them. Deeana leaned over and bravely touched Mints tail, but because the tail moved slightly... it startled her a bit. She still let out a happy squeal. Tonight her and I were sitting on the bed and Carmel our more skittish cat hopped on up. I put out my hand to him and started petting him. He jumped down when he heard his food being made, but Deeana called him back in Russian, saying "Cat come here" and patting the bed.

Laughter - if you call or come over during the day I would say there is so much more laughter in our lives. Deeana brings so much joy. Seeing her and Hayden play makes us giggle and warms our heart and makes all the hardship that we endured over the last several years melt away.

Here are some pictures from Gotcha Day! and beyond... Enjoy!!!

Leaving the orphanage on Gotcha Day!

Andrey, our driver. We'll miss him dearly!

Playing ball (or balloon) in Moscow.

Getting ahold of Mama's notebook, silly girl.

Welcome Home Deeana!!!

Showing Deeana her room!

Giggling with big brother! :)

Morning nap with big brother :)

Chill out time with big brother.

Dragging big brother EVERYWHERE!

Faux nap

Gotcha Day!!!

Such a busy day - how did we manage to sleep a wink?
We quickly eat a light breakfast, and Andrey was downstairs waiting for us at 8:40 AM as I was throwing out some garbage.  We pack everything in his van... gifts, luggage, Deeana's backpack, etc in 20 minutes. Irina once again meets us with all the documents and to reiterate all that we have to do today. An hour later, we are at the Orphanage, dropping off the gifts in the Director's office, shaking hands and hugging her, she congratulating us once again. As we leave, we meet Deeana in the hallway with a caregiver...she starts to whimper and is a bit hesitant. Irina picks her up and we walk to a room, by the time we are there she has calmed down (for the most part this seems to be her manner, calms down fairly quickly, usually). Deeana loves her new clothes, and is swimming in her pink rain jacket (Weather: high 60s, and rainy...BTW: Moscow's weather high 80s and overcast).

About a half hour later, Melissa walks out carrying Deeana who is clutched tightly to her (a bit scared understandably). They walk out front as Irina goes back inside to retrieve Deeana's toys we bought for her.  Deeana came out with her miniature doll (actually she had it the whole time), and a small soft backpack with her My Little Pony, a soft doll (not the one we gave her in March, but understandably that one was no longer in her sole possession), and a small soft mushka (mouse, apparently Deeana asked her caregivers if she could bring it with her and they said "yes"). Irina suggested she hold Deeana for the car ride as most children are crying and screaming, but typical Deeana, she whimpered for a few minutes, then settled down and just observed all she could out the windows.  About halfway through, Irina handed Deeana off to Melissa.

We arrive at 11:30 for our train which leaves at 1:00 PM. Andrey heads out to wait on the platform for the train to arrive, typically they board a half hour early. This gave us some time to play with Deeana in the car and she was able to have a banana for snack and take a potty break. Around 12:15, Andrey returns, and he and I take some luggage to the platform where I wait for him to return with the rest of the luggage and Deeana and mommy. So much easier then getting on a plane, where we had 3 security checks and had to pay for extra luggage...the train whereas had one quick conveyor belt for luggage and poof done!

Andrey kindly placed all our luggage on the train, and unfortunately realized my ticket was one cabin behind Mel and Deeana. Fortunately, in Deeana's cabin was another family with a 3 or 4 year old daughter as well. They enjoyed playing with each other and talking up a storm.

The unfortunate part was when the family's stop came up -  Deeana was starting to get anxious and wanting to leave - she would pack up her belongings into her little backpack and want to get down off the seat or our laps and head for the cabin door. This would make tears run for a few minutes and then she would be fine.

Once we hit Moscow, we were glad to get off the train and stretch our legs. Oleg, our Moscow coordinator, met us on the platform, and he too helped us with our luggage. Deeana sat quietly in the stroller once again and observed the fast traffic and vast amount of people walk by us. We had to make a quick pit stop to get a picture taken for Deeana's visa... she did well.

We got to the hotel late (Mel is sooo glad to see a Starbucks across the street!) and Oleg had some paperwork for us to fill out. Deeana and Mel "settled in" while Michael filled out most of the papers and Mel got the computer ready for Hayden's first one on one live Skype session with his new sister.

The Skype session was a success!  Deeana and Hayden "played" with each other.  Deeana pretended to mix up some food and "feed" it to Hayden through the computer monitor.  At one point, she stood up, walked to the computer and touched him. She even said his name a time or two, they were very happy to finally see each other! She's been looking at her photo book since she's gotten back, saying "mama", "papa", and "Hayzen".

You may ask how things are holding up between the three of us. With Deeana being 3, there is a language barrier. Though we are doing relatively well, we think, when it comes to asking her if she is hungry, thirsty, needs to use the bathroom, etc. However... bedtime and nap time is another issue. She clings to Mel, constantly wants to be picked up by her, or sit on her lap... and won't fall asleep unless laying on top of her. She seems to prefer Mel (though we know she will come around eventually). We understand the reasons why... but it can be quite taxing.

This morning we woke up VERY EARLY to have the Moscow adoption doctor visit Deeana. He was very warm and friendly and calmed Deeana down quickly, we were impressed. He gave us some instructions for when we get home, and wished us Good Luck. Next, Michael met with Oleg for some paperwork while Mommy and Deeana played. After that we ordered lunch and struggled to get Deeana to eat "meal" food rather than snacks. The orphanage told us that she will eat almost anything, but she has been giving us trouble. We think she might have had a tummy ache and hasn't used the washroom in a while... so we will see what tomorrow holds.

Thursday's light schedule consists of a very simple US Embassy Visa appointment for the three of us. And then we leave in the weeee early hours of Friday morning to come home.
We couldn't be happier!

Michael and Mel


Back to the Future - Monday, Aug 8th.

Where does the time go so quickly these last few days?

Let's see Mel left off with our previous weekend, which brings me (Michael) to attempt to rehash Monday through today (Wednesday). Here is Monday, August 8th.

Sunday night we received a call informing us we were going to be picked up at 2:00 PM to pick up Deeana's passport.  So we spent Monday morning packing, and actually managed to go from 6 pieces of luggage to 5 (one was full of clothes for the orphanage). Despite adding some souvenirs and clothes and toys for Deeana, Mel is a packing queen and still managed to pack it into 5. Also, worked on cleaning the apartment and doing laundry for the next family.

Before we knew it, 2:00 was upon us. Andrey met us outside as did our coordinator Irina. Traffic was its usual congestion and about 45 minutes later we were back at the Passport Offices. Once again we took a number and another 45 minutes and Irina and I approached the desk. This time the ladies were a bit more friendly, I quickly signed a few documents and a short discussion about something took place between two ladies behind the counter. When she returned I was handed Deeana's passport! On our way out we picked up some dinner at a cafeteria and got it "subway", which is Russian for "take out".

And we were off to pick up the treats for the orphanage and flowers for the Orphanage Director. We passed numerous grocery stores wondering if they had forgotten. I guess the one we chose is one the coordinator likes to go to.  They had numerous cakes, Irina chose one for the administrators and one for the kids. Next we moved on to the fruit, picking up some peaches, apples, and grapes (big and tiny)...their banana selection was not very tasty looking. As it turned out they didn't have a flower section either.  But we spent over 800 rubles, so we got to pick a prize. Our winning ticket was from bin 1, where we wisely chose tissues.

Next stop a flower shop near our apartment, Irina chose a pot of orchids for the Director.  We were wondering where we were going to put all this, our fridge is fairly small plus it would be even more stuff to pack in Andrey's van the next morning. Andrey kindly took it and left it in his van since it was going to be a chilly evening.

That night we finished packing, cleaning, and putting away the laundry, ate our "subway" dinner from the aforementioned cafeteria.  We skyped Hayden, who is clearly anxious to meet Deeana and for us to come home. And off to bed we went.

Michael and Melissa 0 comments

Taking it All In

On Wednesday, we went to the passport office to file for Deeana's passport. We met Irina, who was already standing in line in front of one of the kiosks. Shortly after getting a ticket, she told us what number in line we were. Since we arrived early in the morning, she was hoping we wouldn't have to wait the 5 hours she had waited the last time she was here.

We headed to the front row of seats and she quickly told us what to do, how the system works and when to give her a ring when our number gets close. Michael and I sat and chatted and practiced our "kid Russian" and before we knew it, it was time to call Irina! The numbers flew by and we were in and out in less than an hour and a half.

Michael and Irina were in the office a bit, but once they were out, we were told that Deeana's passport will be ready for pickup on Monday.
Afterwards, we headed downstairs where Andrey, our wonderful driver, found a copy center for us. We had a previous issue with paperwork for Moscow, and not knowing that we needed to bring such copies. So we emailed coordinators and had files emailed to us and saved them to a flash drive. We were freaking out. But things worked itself out quickly, and the copy center was awesome.

Next stop, Andrey took us to purchase our train tickets to Moscow. We ultimately had the choice on how to travel - but since there was construction at the St. Pete airport, and people were missing flights because of it, we chose the train. It was a good thing we chose train. Andrey's smooth talking got us 3 tickets and Deeana was half off. We only paid about $200!

And that brings us to our break. We've had a few days to explore the city, start packing, and clean up our apartment.
We have visited many sites over the past couple days. We walked through Petrograd and saw a beautiful mosque decorated in mosaic tiles. We walked along the the Neva River and saw a pectopah (restaurant) sailboat. We took pictures of the Peter and Paul Fortress from afar - at that point, our feet were very tired!

On a quick side note, I have been having trouble with shoes. I tripped earlier in the trip and needed bigger sandals to compensate. Then recently sliced my flip flops on the escalators on the Metro. To top things off, I forgot my gym shoes. LOL. So we headed to the mall (several times)... in search of shoes. We found a great store called Ecco, and I quickly tried on a pair and was out the door in time for our next excursion. So glad they were half off!

The next day we headed out to explore the Geological Museum. Michael and I enjoyed oohing and ahhing over gems, stones and even a meteorite! We took home a cool souvenir - amazonite. The museum was so large, we could have been there all day. Afterwards we took a trolley and walked to find the Dancing Fountain, but unfortunately... it didn't happen while we were there. Instead we saw lots of brides and grooms coming to the Strelka to "get hitched", take pictures, and celebrate. It was a very beautiful spot to sit and rest our tired feet, and take in a beautiful view of the city.

Monday we head out to pick up Deeana's passport and pick up some last minute gifts. Where we will put all this stuff, we don't know ;) . Then, Tuesday is out big day - Gotcha Day. We will head to the orphanage early we assume (times will come later) and pick up Deeana. Then we head to the train station.

Here are a few pics that we have taken over the several days, we hope you enjoy!

M&M in front of a mosque
A Mosque

Pectopah Sailboat

Geological Museum:  Russia - Map made entirely out of gems & stones.

Geo. Museum - wonderful place to stroll!

Meteorite - called "Seymchan" found in 1967

Taken at the Strelka

Officially... A Great Day!

Hello faithful followers, hubby writing today about yesterday and today.

First, yesterday (Monday) we were warned that was going to be a LONG day with lots of running around - collecting paperwork, signing paperwork, dropping off paperwork...supposedly could take up to 8 hours to complete.  But our wonderfully efficient in country coordinator had it done in less than 2 hours (despite Russia's propensity for working on road construction out of the blue)!  We picked up the official court decision, the 10 day waiting period for any objections has passed, and it is OFFICIAL (again).

Next up a drive to Deeana's birthplace to pick up copies of her birth certificate and adoption certificate, including signing the official registrar's book declaring ourselves the adopted parents of Deeana! And finally driving to the orphanage to drop off copies of paperwork, but it was naptime so no playtime with Deeana.  The orphanage knows what is best to right now - to limit the amount of time with Deeana, to reduce stress, take complete medical and dietary care of Deena to ensure she is healthy for the long trips she is about to embark on with us.

This gave us time to go shopping with our driver to a new grocery store. When a new grocery store opens they always have the cheapest prices. So we bought gifts for the caregivers, doctor, and speech therapist at the orphanage. Everyone will receive coffee (instant of course), tea, and some chocolate candy. The doctor and speech therapist will receive a bottle of wine.  And the orphanage director loves flowers, so we will pick her up a nice bouquet of flowers the morning we return to pick up Deeana.

As a quick aside, speaking of flowers, Russians love their flowers.  A day doesn't go by that we don't see a guy carrying a rose or two to give to his girlfriend or wife at the Metro stop or just walking down the sidewalks.  Funny story from our driver, he has seen on a few occasions, guys park illegally to run in to buy flowers only to have the police quickly have their cars towed...oops...then you either spend 2 to 3 hours getting your car back or grab a taxi to meet up with your loved one.

The best part of the quickness of the day meant Mel and I could talk with Hayden, we were a little fearful we were going to miss talking to him.  (HI HAYDEN!) Then we made some meatballs and veggies for dinner that we bought at the grocery store and relaxed watching some shows we brought with us from home.

As the passport office is not open on Tuesday, Mel and I had a free day before another possible long day tomorrow. We decided to take a boat tour of the canals that our driver recommended to us and it isn't that expensive.  Looking in the Lonely Planet book I found an English speaking tour place.  Fortunately, I checked the website on-line and it turns out they moved their location from where the book claimed they were.  A quick ride on the Metro and another stop at our favorite street, Nevsky Prospekt and we were on our way.

It appeared to be a long walk, so we stopped for lunch at Sbarro (yes Sbarro, just like in the States), but here you pick up your food and they weigh it to see how much you owe. Plus (no offense to those who love Sbarro's), much better here in Russia.  Fortunately, while we were eating there appeared to be a downpour that we missed. That long walk, ended up to be quite a bit shorter than I expected as Mel saw the 4 bronze Horsemen that adorn the bridge where the boat tour is located.  We were early enough to take some pics of the amazing architecture and the bridge before purchasing our tickets.

As our tour guide was walking towards us, she informed us we were the only ones on the cruise... Cool! We had the whole boat to ourselves, most cruises like that cost 4 times as much as we paid!  The weather had cooled off considerable from the past few days, it was chilly but comfortable, plus we had blankets to drape over our legs.  I took as many pictures as I could, and Mel filmed brief videos of various locations.

After the hour-long cruise, we snapped some pics of more architecture and Catherine the Great's statue before heading into Gostiny Dvor for some quick souvenir shopping.

Us on the boat as we head out to sea. ;)
The Peter & Paul Fortress

This neat boat is actually a restaurant!

And now we prepare to head to bed early as we must wake up early to get a ticket to wait in line at the Passport Office (it can take up to 5 hours of waiting in line).  Afterwards, we will purchase our train tickets to Moscow, once again with the help of our driver (really, truly a terrific person!).

Michael and Mel 2 comments