Monday, February 28, 2011

Banana Emergency!

We ran out of bananas this morning! Luckily we live very close to a grocery store that also happens to have adorable tiny grocery carts!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Night-Night and other new words.....

Rockin' the "La-la"
 I thought we would take this opportunity to show off a few "night-night" pictures and talk about some new words Charlie has learned!
Just think....we haven't even been together three weeks and his vocabulary grows everyday! It's crazy to think about!
Our favorite is "night-night" he says it whenever it's dark or he turns out the lights. He may not fully grasp the concept, but it's so cute when he's sitting in his car seat in broad daylight and all of a sudden says "Mama....night-night" and then closes his eyes. Followed shortly by opening his eyes and giggling hysterically.
To the favorite color "greeeeeen" we've added in "blue". Now he only says it in a "blue moon" but can still identify it and says it when I ask him "where's the blue?" Yellow and red can be found, but not said yet.
Charlie says "done" all the time now. Food- "done" When the bath water drains he says it too. It's a very multi-practical word. I don't think, however, "multi-practical" is a word, but you get the idea.
He also says "niiiiice" when he is touching anything gently. We taught it to him specifically to teach him not to hit and to be "nice" to the dogs when he pets them, but now he says it all the time. It's always nice to be nice!
To "eyes" "papa" he has added "popeye". It's funny how he just randomly says it as an exclamation. Today some books fell off the shelf and he sucked in a big breath and yelled "popeye!". I tried to teach him the popeye the sailor man song, but he just laughs and proceeds to make up a lively song of his own.
He has also fully grasp the concept of "hot" and says it when he wants his jacket off or when I am cooking. Hopefully, he'll continue to keep his octopus hands off the stove!
Charlie continues to enjoy counting to three and pointing out his "iiiiiiisss" "nos" and "mouf"
Of course every time we walk through the kitchen he asks for a "nana".
When he hears the train he says "choo-choo" Yesterday he even said "Mama a choo-choo". I'm not sure if that is a complete sentence, but it's close, right?
It helps having the dogs around and using basic commands with them. His favorite is "go!" They are really confused by this tiny person telling them to "go" here and there for no rhyme or reason.
Conveniently, Charlie came "pre-loaded" with universal Russian-American phrases such as "yum-yum" "ruff-ruff" "tee-tee" and "ca-ca". So that has made life a lot easier for him and us.....
We are so happy that Charlie is doing so well with his language skills so far. We know we have a long way to go, but I think we are off to a great start!
Captain Adorable with his rocking zebra papa made for him

Crashed in the robot bed! Wearing Penn State Jammies!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Spring Fever!

Please.....can we play outside today?

Sure! How can I say no to that face?

He just takes my breath away.....
What's the only thing that can distract us from play time?

A package from Baba!

The weather has been so lovely. I look forward to temperatures in the 60/70's every year, but this year after freezing our tukisses off in Moscow, Sping has been even sweeter! I know what you're thinking...a little fancy for playing outside, don'tcha think? We had a very important date today to meet Mommy's law firm friends, and of course we had to dress the part! I mean internship selection starts very, very's never to early to make a good first impression!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I feel like every minute of every day Charlie is experiencing new "firsts" before our very eyes. I know that we thought we were going to be in hiding for a month, but we were going stir crazy already and Charlie was constantly asking to ride in the machina or to walk or play outside. So we have taken a few outings....nothing major, just a few hours here and there, but every time we do anything I am tickled to think about all of the firsts that fly by our very eyes! Today we went to Lowe's (our dishwasher has finally given up the ghost) and then to Wal-Mart. Charlie saw the display with all the banana's (his absolute favorite food in the universe) and I thought he was going to pee his pants! He was screaming with joy about all the bananas. I think he thought it was a gift to him. Like: "Charlie we brought you to this huge place, walked around for an hour, JUST to find this gift we would like to give you, 10 million bananas. Here you go! Good boy!" It was like he had won the banana lottery. He wasn't too disappointed that we only bought enough to get us through the next few days.
We also ate lunch out today- A local BBQ joint. We never know how Charlie is going to react to different foods. For the most part he loves pretty much everything that goes in his mouth, IF he's hungry. If he's not hungry- FO-GET-A-BOUT-IT. (Except Bananas- see above....) So BBQ. At first, not a fan. Then Papa covered his chopped pork in BBQ sauce and we couldn't get it in his mouth fast enough. Then he moved onto the baked beans and slaw. If it had BBQ sauce on to, it was gone! We might have given him some sweet-tea to wash it down, I mean, you can't eat BBQ without washing it down with sweet tea. That would be a crime against all things southern!
We've had some other great firsts too- meeting the youth group, going to watch the basketball game that Papa coaches, first play at the park, first walk through the church sanctuary....I know it's just the beginning and I am thrilled to come along for the ride.

Monday, February 21, 2011

40 new blog entries!

For those of you wanting more details (or if you are perfectly content with just taking it from here that's fine too) I've added all of our posts from a few days before we got "the call" in December up through our adventures in Russia to bring Charlie home. I know for some of you this is totally T.M.I. but I know I left you hangin' for a long time and want to give you the opportunity to see what we have been up to the last 3 months! And here you thought I had fallen off the blog map! Nope, I've diligently documented every step of the way (of course!) Would you expect anything less? I am a blog addict!!!
Happy Reading! This should keep you busy for a few days!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

View from Moscow

Charlie loved checking out the view from our hotel room in Moscow. Watching the people and the cars pass by and the men work on the buildings, removing icicles. He hates however, having his picture taken, so there are just a few that he is actually looking at the camera! And, yes, those are socks on his hands. We had just finished a riviting game of "sock moster". Basically, we all put socks on our hands and chase each other around the hotel room. Yes, it is as fun as it sounds. I know I am biased, but man, what a good looking kid!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

We're home!

Yipppeeee! We touched down in Charlotte yesterday around 3:30 and at approximately 4:00 Charlie became a citizen of the USA! Woo-hoooo!
He did absolutely wonderfully on the plane- only cried for about 5 minutes about 15 minutes before we touched down in Charlotte. Mainly because he hated the seat belt and didn't understand it's purpose other than keeping him tethered to his seat. And honestly, I wanted to cry too- 15 hours in the air is a long time! But we were shocked at how well he did since we had a false start the day before which required our leaving the hotel at 3:00am and then the day we actually left (on Friday) another early morning, having to be at the airport at 4:00am. With our lay-over in Munich we were traveling for a total of 23 hours! But, Charlie is such a trooper. We just can't get over how well he is adjusting to everything.
We got home around 7:30pm and the dogs are shut into the room (for those of you who don't know we have a 30 pound lab/westie mix and a 150 pound great dane) Since Charlie slept about an hour home from Charlotte, we took some time to get him out of the car. Our "little" dog Alex came running out to greet us and jumped into the car. Charlie had a small freak out, we don't think he's ever seen a dog before, and definitely not this up close and personal. After a little while he was getting comfortable with Alex, we hopped him up on the kitchen counter and released Annie. Charlie looked at her with this wild look in his eyes and said an entire sentence in panicked Russian. We are fairly certain if he knew any Russian cuss words they came out. His eyes were huge! We put the "Sabokas" in their room for our bedtime. Charlie slept in the co-sleeper in our room and once again, did great. We slept for about 12 hours today on US time, so that really did well as far as us getting adjusted to this time zone.
This morning, Charlie did GREAT with the dogs, well at least with Alex. He's still not so sure about Annie. I guess I would be a little slow to warm up to a dog that towers over my head too....He fed half of his breakfast to Alex (Alex is REALLY loving the newest Deetz) and seems to be warming up quite nicely. We give him Annie in small doses and as long as he is with Mama and Papa, seems to be doing pretty well given we haven't been home for 24 hours yet.
Right now, Papa is trying to get him down for a nap in the robot bed, or at least to wind down a little bit...he had a play date at the park with two sets of the Dada's and Baba's (Grandparents White and Womers) and ran until he literally could barely walk, his legs were so shaky. Laughing, running, and absolutely filthy! ALL BOY!
God has blessed us so much- not with the big things (a well adjusted, perfect little boy, safe, smooth travels)- but with the little things as well...the weather here is perfectly spring, about 70 degrees! What a lovely change! We really enjoyed the park today.....Charlie was mesmerized by all the kids running and playing as well as all the new things to do.
So far, so good! Thank you for all of your prayers. We feel so blessed to have such wonderful people surrounding us with prayers and thinking about us daily. We can't thank you enough for what a huge part you've taken in this incredible journey that I have a feeling is just getting started!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

stranded in moscow

Long story short we are stranded in moscow. We are currently in a stetch hotel room getting our fill of second hand smoke and probably some sort of parasite from the sheets. Oh did I mention the hotel costs 450 a night?!? Anyway we had some visa issues with our little russian citizen that no one picked up on at our agency, our adoption specialized travel agent, or at the US Embassy. We chose to stay another day vs. Travel back today since that would involve multiple layovers and almost 30 hours of travel, spending 9 of those hours in Washington DC. So don't come to the airport today. Our homecoming has been put on ice! See you tomorrow even if I take a boat back to America!

Fun Hotel Games.....

Chair Spinning Olympics




A little secret......

Well, I have a little secret.....We're in Russia! To get Charlie! I know, I can't believe it either.....Let me explain. For no rhyme or reason, the Judge decided to hear our case. Well, we all know the rhyme and the reason, your prayers, thoughts, petitions and requests on our behalf. The time has finally come!
Our agency advised (more like demanded) that we keep this information off ALL public sites and our blog. We feared the Judge's motives (were we going to be the "example" closing the region to Amercia officially?) or would she change her mind if we became a burden?  So we decided that silence was the best answer. Trust us, we wanted to shout it from the roof tops!
After 25 loooong grueling days in Russia we are heading home tomorrow.....We couldn't be happier. At the orphanage, Charlie was very leery of us. After all, almost a whole year had past since he saw us last. He had gotten so big! We visited as many times as we could, but still not a lot of progress.
Court was on January 27th. Court session was brief, to our surprise. We throughly covered the Torry Hansen case and other abuse cases in our speech and it didn't come up again in the lines of questioning. After Chad gave a long speech and I, a shorter version, the questioning began. How would we raise our son? When would we return to work? How would we preserve his heritage? She went into chambers and 5 minutes later, returned with the verdict- "DA!"
Then the 10 day wait began. It actually wasn't as bad as we thought. Our host family planned almost daily outings for us- shopping, trips to the mall, site seeing, and of course trips to Idritsa....She even cooked and cleaned for us, so really it was like a long vacation.
On February 7th, we finally made it to the day we had been waiting for for so long! A-day! Charlie cried in the car for about 5 minutes, then took to looking around, followed promptly by a 2 hour nap back to Pskov. When he crossed the threshold to the house, he almost instantly transformed into a new kid. Laughing, playing, running. And he hasn't stopped. He is such a joy....
We took care of some details in Pskov, like getting his passport! And on the 10th took the overnight train to Moscow. It was o.k. Our mantra has been "survive". We were greeted in Moscow by record breaking cold and wind. It is crazy cold here! Our site-seeing has been almost null, and we have been enjoying being pampered- lovely fluffy beds, great (but CRAZY EXPENSIVE) food, and daily swims in the indoor pool. It's been like our first family vacation.
On Valentines Day we had our last big hurrah- our appointment with the US Embassy, where we got Charlie's visa to enter back into the states. Today, we sit and wait. One More Day. Then we start our lives together as a complete family!
Sorry for the double life we've been living....we hope you understand our situation and know that this was in Charlie's best interest. I hope you'll forever me if I give you a picture of our angel.....

Monday, February 14, 2011


Happy Valentines Day (Happy Birthday Emma!) Today was a great day, we finished our last official adoption detail in Russia- our US Embassy Appointment. Now we are officially ready to get back to America! We have Charlie's visa! It was a crazy experience, like the DMV madness on steroids! The irony of the Moscow US Embassy? NO SIGNS IN ENGLISH. We were like blind hogs rootin' our way around. Confusion and chaos, lines with signs we had no idea what they said. We finally found our way to a room with 4 other adoptive families waiting.... (Charlie was the cutest, hands down by the way....) It was great talking to them and finding out their stories. We got to swear in, listen to a speech about Naturalization, Citizenship, papers to file, imigration, blah, blah, blah. I can honestly say I was in a fog at that point and chasing a two year old around a waiting room that had been sitting in one place for an hour. I hope Chad was paying attention....My mommy brain is fully mush at this point.
PLEASE remember to pray for us on Wednesday night late into Thursday. As you know we have 30 minutes to make our connection in Germany and now we have learned that we could face some MAJOR complications if we can't get to American soil within 24 hours. Not to bore you with all of the details concerning foreign citizens and visas, but basically it will involve emergency visas, and a lot of hassle if we can't get where we need to go when we need to do it. So PLEASE say a special prayer that we will hit no delays and complications on our way home. God has been so good so far and we are trusting that he continues to make a smooth path for us on our journey home.
Pray for Mama and Papa too. Charlie has begun testing us in a major kinda way. The honeymoon is over. We are now in a constant wrestling match to put on shoes, go to bed, take a nap, eat food. Struggle, struggle, struggle. He is still doing very well, but is just testing his independence in a major kinda way. Maybe it's the late nights and early mornings sprinkled with appointments at inconveinent times during the day....
Tomorrow we will focus on his schedule and letting him rest a little from all the hoop-la. Anyway, I better head back to the room, mama is done with her quite time, now it's papa's turn for a little R&R! We are SOOOOO DONE! And ready to be home!!! Please Pray us home!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

My first swim!

We had a great relaxing day today, Charlie tried out the pool for the first time and absolutely loved it! Before we could turn on the video camera he had already JUMPED in to be with Mama.
After our swim, we tried out the hot tub which was more like a warm bath, so it was perfect. Of course, Mr. Smarty Pants figured out how to work the lights and bubbles by pressing the buttons.
Everything is monkey see, monkey do. If you do it once, you better be prepared for little hands to do it right after you do it. Turning on lights, flushing the toliet, unscrewing lids, caps, plugging things in, getting clothes out of the suitcase, opening doors....
We also enjoy how much Charlie likes order. He picks things up and puts them down. He takes everything out and puts them back exactly where he found them. So even if our room looks trashed one minute, he goes on a cleaning binge and packs everything back up. Our favorite is when we say "Oh-Boof" which is Russian for "shoes" when we are ready to go out. He opens the closet and brings everybody our shoes. He may be confused, however, when we get home and realizes that Mama has more than one pair of shoes. (Quite a many more.....) That's why we're working on colors so intensly. So I can say "bring Mama the GREEN Oh-boofs"
So far favorite activites:
Eating and drinking on demand
Opening and closing doors (the sliding closets are extra exciting)
Turning on and off lights
Flushing toliets
Staring at strangers (exspecially ones that are pretty girls or people swimming)
Getting "creamed up" our lotion applications three times a day (his skin is looking so much better!)
Putting on chap-stick
Looking for the stuffed "Sa-Bock-a" (dog) that always gets lost in the covers
General monkey-like activities

Happy (Frozen) Family!

Red Square

Red Square

Charlie's favorite sight of the day- The Horse Statue

Our guide, translator, and driver, Alex the Incredible took us out sight seeing on Saturday. The temperature was -15F so our time walking was very brief. The wind and snow was terrible, we basically ran to Red Square, snapped a few pictures, then ran back to the car parked about a half mile away. I've never experienced cold that made my legs feel prickly and numb. My mouth stopped working properly too. It was crazy cold. Charlie had two favorite sites- the statues of the horses and the goose-stepping changing of the guards at the tomb of the unknown soldier. He practiced his march on the way back to the car, it was so adorable.

Church of Christ
Then we drove to Church of Christ, which in Alex's opinion was the BEST church in Moscow. It was near his boyhood home and he talked to us about how during Communist times it was distroyed by tanks. 50 years of construction and centuries of history was gone.....It was accurately rebuilt down to the tiniest detail, this time only taking 7 years to construct. All the money used to rebuild it was donated by wealthy businessmen.

Then we drove to Sparrow Hill to pick up some nesting dolls and gifts at the straw market. Supposedly it has the best view of Moscow- you can see everything from Red Square to the Church of Christ. I say supposedly because it was so cold and windy that the whole city was covered in a thick icy fog at that point. We couldn't see five feet in front of our faces! Alex said Brides and Grooms come there on their wedding day for pictures- we saw 2 couples. However, they would have been better off standing in front of a white sheet indoors somewhere, that's what the view looked like! But they both looked so happy! So I guess it's more about the tradition!
We got to haggle with the street vendors for good prices, which was a lot of fun because they all were selling the same trinkets and all spoke like 10 languages. It reminded me of Mexico "Hey pretty lady come here, I'll make you a good deal!" I still haven't totally gotten the hang of the whole Ruble thing. $100 Rubles still sounds like a lot of money to me! I just can't wrap my brain around the idea that it's not like our money....

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A few pictures....

Enjoying an apple from Papa on the train

So handsome.....even after 12 hours of train riding!

Green is his favorite color. He is so cute, saying "Greeen" "Greeeen". In his crayon pack he has two greens and says " One Greeen" "Two Greeen" and picks them both out. SMART BOY!!!

Having my first happy meal in the hotel room.
Today we went to Red Square, The Church of Jesus Christ our Risen Savior, and "Sparrow Hill" for a little shopping. It was about -15F with awful wind and snow, so we couldn't get a lot of walking in or great photo ops. But we did our best and managed a few. I'll post them tomorrow.
Today was a great day. We got to Skype with all three sets of Grandparents and Auntie Uggie!!! Everyone has finally seen how delightful this little guy is (and incredibly active). He was like a little monkey during all four chats. Running, climbing, laughing. Everyone has said "You must be tired!" We are! But having the time of our life! Thank you for your continued prayers....
Tomorrow is a totally free day, we are hoping to get in a swim and a little walk outside (weather permitting). But other than that we are just enjoying our time together as a family!
Paka! Paka! Y'all!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Moscow safe and sound....

We left Pskov at 6:00pm on Thursday and rode ALL night in the train to Moscow. It was quite an interesting experience as you can imagine. We had a private car on the train, 4 bunks and a tiny table. As expected it was sufficatingly hot and stuffy, Charlie was the only one that got any sleep at all.
It is ALOT colder outside here, if our math is correct it is -10F.
Our Moscow host, Alex, is really great. He actually explains what all the buildings are and tells us what we're doing and when we're doing it. What a nice change! He had allready checked us into the hotel when we got in at 6:20am. Then we had an hour to relax in the room, freshen up. He sat in the lobby and did all of our paperwork for the embassy. We had a brief meeting, where he just said "sign here, here and here" Done. What a blessing!
My First Bath at Ludmilla's house.
Then he took us to Charlie's doctor's appointment. It was uneventful. The doc was pleasant. Not sure what Russian doctors are looking for when they bang around your body with their hands up and down your body. But anyway- he counted all fingers, toes, and (Ah, hem, private areas) and said Charlie is in tip top shape and is a very handsome boy. Then we were off to the embassy to drop off papers for our appointment at 11:00am on Monday. We just waited in the car.
Then off to the grocery store (which is always at the Mall.....) and is giant. It looked alot like the one in Pskov, maybe the same chain? So we actually navigated pretty well. We picked up stuff for breakfast and a few lunches, as to try to conserve the cash flow! So we are all set.....
Our hotel is AWESOME! We are staying at the Marriott Renaissance in Moscow, thanks to a great connection from "Babushka Womer". We have already taken a LOVELY nap in the excellent bed and a fantastic "non-brown" water shower. We are getting ready for dinner now, it's so expensive here!!! But we are loving hotel. We walked down to the pool and let Charlie hang out a little, so that maybe tomorrow or Sunday he'll be ready to take the plunge. He has LOVED three baths and He climbed in the shower with me today, so I think it's safe to say he really loves the water.
Today was also a day of ALOT of firsts-
First NO CRY AT ALL DAY!!! (Coming or going in the machina!)
First MCDONALDS HAPPY MEAL!!! Loved the chicken nuggets and even rocked some Sweet and Sour Sauce!
And took it all like a champ- happy, smiling, just wonderful!
Anyway- it's time for dinner....tomorrow is a big day of siteseeing with Alex. So we are off... I promise to get some pictures up, once mommy has some "alone time". Everytime he sees himself on the camera, computer, etc. He wants to crawl up the computer and give me a narritive of exactly what's going on in the picture.
Paka Paka Y'all!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Making it official....

Today was spent running all around Pskov. First to pick up the verdict from the courthouse (Yippppeeeee!) Our host says now we are "together". Next, to the Department of Vital Statistics to get his decree of adoption and new birth certificates. Then onto the photo shop to get pictures for his passport while in Pskov and an extra set for his visa in Moscow. We stopped at the store to pick up a few things (Pull-ups! Since we wants to go potty every five minutes, the diaper routine is getting kinda old) Next, onto the Passport application center. His passport will be ready at 2:00 on Thursday- just in time for the train ride to Moscow.
Last stop- to the DOE where we give them copies of everything we just did.  That way they can record his adoption and take his name and picture off the database for orphans. Whew. It was an absolute whirlwind.
Everytime we got in or out of the car, Charlie would cry for a few minutes, our host says this is common because he thinks he has to go back to the orphanage. By our last stop he was saying "with mama" because at every stop our host would explain to his that we are now "together". It was so precious. As expected, coming and going makes him a little nervous. He waits expectantly when one of us goes potty or walks up the stairs.
Right now, we aer getting ready for lunch and then naptime. Thank goodness. I have held him for hours and I am beyond tired....we are all getting use to one another quite well. We just can't believe how wonderful Charlie has already adjusted....he smiles, laughs, runs, and is having a overall good time unless it involves the "machina" (car) but even then- 2 minutes and he is fine. What a champ!
We thank you so much for your prayers. Right now we are tired, about to have a heat stroke at any moment and are trying to remain cool, calm and collected. All while hauling around an extra 30 pounds plus 30 pounds of "stuff". Oh, in the ice! Fuuuunnnn.....
But seriously, we thank you for your prayers for us and for Charlie. Everything we were nervous about as been just fine....As you may have noticed, Email corespondence has gone by the wayside. We have our hands full! But know that we love you, miss you and thank you for thinking of us.....
Paka Paka Y'all.

Monday, February 7, 2011

no more goodbyes

Finally! We were able to bring Charlie back with us when we went to the orphanage. It was so nice not to have to say goodbye anymore. Thank you for all of your prayers, I know that you sent them up because Charlie has done great! We have been in disbelief as he is adjusting.
Charlie cried as he left the orphanage and I think the head of the orphanage Dr. Anna was crying too. We are so thankful for her, we know that she took great care of Charlie while he was in the baby home. She insisted in walking him to the car so that she could say goodbye. It was really nice. She also made us promise that we would send emails and pictures of Charlie as he gets older.
Once in the car it took about ten minutes for Charlie to settle down and then he went to sleep on sarah's lap... It was beautiful. He slept most of the way back to Ludmilla's house. Once inside he began to take in his new surroundings. I don't think his eyes could of gotten any wider. He was a little hesitant to leave his chair, but soon he was digging through the toy box and playing. We played music and he even started to dance. He is so cute. He adjusted so quick!
We sat down for dinner, russian pork chops and mashed potatoes and Charlie and papa are in the clean plate club! Like father like son already. After that we gave him a bath, we thought he would hate it but he jumped right in and we had a blast during his first bath time. After that he let me... The big new guy, put on his pajamas and tickle his feet in the process, it was something I won't forget. I gotta learn the diaper thing quick though, its a new skill for me. After that I prayed over him with sarah, thanking God for the gift and asking for the ability to raise him how he should be. And now as I finish this post he's laying here beside us falling asleep as mom gently strokes his hair. He has done so well, we are so thankful! He is a gift and I couldn't ask for anything more today.
Keep praying tomorrow we go to the court house to get the official papers including the new birth certificate with our names under the parent slot. It will be official tomorrow! Then we gotta go get official copies from the notary, then get Charlie to pose for passport pictures and then apply for his passport which we will have by thursday. It will be another busy day of firsts for all of us, so keep praying. I gotta go now my boy is finally asleep and I can hardly see from tears. As you can tell this post is a little different because you get my report, I hope it suffices.
I love you all and thanks for the prayer,

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Almost Time.......

Today was a good day visiting Charlie. No pee, only a few tears....good day. Driving, however, was very, very BAD. I told Chad that if we got into an accident because of our driver and couldn't get Charlie if we didn't die I would beat the driver to death and I really meant it. I was so upset with him. Everyone says "oh he is use to the roads" "oh it's ok" No, it's not. it took me 3 hours to unwind enough to blink after we got home. I was steaming mad at him. Then to boot, when we arrive "home" we have to fork over a lot of money. It's just re-enforcing wreckless behavior! It's like saying "thanks for not killing us today, even though you tried about 15-20 times, here is enough money for a monthly car payment." Paka Paka. See you tomorrow when you can try again.
Anyway, tomorrow is the BIG day! When we came home, our host had his little bed made up, and fresh towels laid out for him. It was surreal. We packed our bags with his clothes, snacks, DIAPERS, and we are ready to bust him outta there FOREVER!
Pray I don't really come unglued tomorrow with my son in the stunt driver in the Volkswagon, without a carseat I might add....
And pray that Charlie is ok as we rip him away from everything he has ever known. Tomorrow is a big day and we could use your prayers all the way around.....

Friday, February 4, 2011

Today is my lucky day!

Today I learned that I will have the good fortune to dance at not one, but two of Charlie's weddings. Let me explain.....
We arrived at the orphange at 10:30, leaving the house at 7:30am. The roads were the worst we've ever seen. The snow on the roads had melted a little into an ice rink.
I kept thinking about the snow we had in South Carolina before we came to Russia. Police officers on the news telling us to "stay home, only venture out if it is an absolute emergency" Well, I don't think they have those kinds of warnings in Pskov.
So when we arrive, it was music class time. The children were rehearsing for their mother's day performance. I wonder who attends such a performance. But I didn't ask. The children danced and sang- it was precious. A song about the bears and another about balloons. Anyway, like magic, the woman playing the piano started another tune and the kids jumped up and started walking back to the room. I guess that was our cue....
Then we got to spend some time with Charlie in the special speech therapy room. He cried a little, but calmed down significantly faster than last time. He was sitting on my lap, when all of the sudden....a warm sensation on my thigh......Charlie says "peas peas". Yes, peas peas indeed.
So we go to the room and Grunthilda the "ever so friendly" nurse hands me a change of clothes for Charlie. I change him. Miss Personality doesn't seem too concerned about me.
So, we hang in the room with the other children for a bit. Chad is banished from this room because a new little girl arrived a few days ago that has a virtual panic attack at the sight of him. Charlie lies in my arms like a wet noodle. Could he actual be playing in my hair? Apparently, peeing on me has made him turn a corner now, a bonding experience if you will. He seems to like me a lot more, both hands draped around my neck.
After a few minutes we walk back down the hall to the private room. We play "co-co" (peak-a-boo) to find Papa. Charlie is slowly warming up..... We sit down to have a snack. I pull out his bag and begin to ask him "this?" "da?" "nyet?" Then I feel it. Peas peas. And A LOT of it. Are you kidding me?
This one was a soaker. Dripping down my legs, into my own underwear, down to my socks. I say "Mama, peas peas!" Charlie's lip pooches out. He starts to cry. I can't comfort him, other than saying "Mala Ditz" Which means "Good Boy". Yes I am praising my child for peeing all over me. For a second time.
So I comfort him, wait until he stops crying.....go and change him again. Now it's time for lunch, potty time (which surprisingly, he pees in the pot again! I mean what are they giving this kid to drink???) and then nap time. I change his clothes for the third time into night clothes. He is like a new kid, laughing, smiling, giggling. Precious.....
It was a long, wet, cold ride home. When we arrived home and told our host, she said "ahh in Russia this is good luck! When your child pees on you, they say you will dance at their wedding." I then say "weddings, weddings...." But I must say, I've never been so happy and covered in pee at the same time.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

More pictures!

Greetings from Russia. Today is Thursday (8:00pm) we are winding down for the day.....Tomorrow starts our marathon, all the days and hours of boredom will soon be over. Starting tomorrow we will log close to 24 hours of driving in four days. With the last day (Monday) ending with the day we've been waiting for 2 years! Charlie Day! And then the real fun begins.......Our adventures in parenting the most precious boy we've ever seen. I am sure when I say he has no idea how his world is about to change. I am smart enough to say we have no idea how our lives are about to change as well. But for now, a few more pictures of our daily lives. The first is Chad on our daily walk, posing next to an intersting house.



What it's all about......

Some pictures for your viewing pleasure....

Us with our translator, Anna at the Jazz Club.
The Jazz guy. We had no idea what he was saying, but it was an interesting experience.

It's still Christmas here (until the Chinese New Year)

Our "ride" a bright yellow vintage VW Bus, held together mostly with duct tape driven by Yuri. One big dude.

The pantry in the cellar. You also climb down a hole in the basement to get to the washer. Yikes.

Freakishly giant pears
Our Russian Family: Volva, Ludmilla, Their grandaughter, Nika and Manunia (the cat)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Russian Musings....

 As we wait through days 3, 4, and 5 I've compiled a list of helpful tips if you are ever planning a trip to Russia:
No matter how temping it is to pack long underwear, wool socks, and compression gear due to the thought of sub-zero temperatures- do not give in to the temptation! In short sleeves, thin chinos and my regular winter jacket I almost have a heat stroke inside every time I walk into a building. Pack more gym shorts and t-shirts instead.
In “Elf” style, bring your own pancake syrup, in a flask if necessary. So many pancakes, but with no syrup. What a shame.
Before leaving America, go to an ice rink. Practice walking. You will stick out less if you are accustomed to walking on slippery, icy surfaces. No one here looks down or so much as looses their footing as they cross treacherous glacial terrain. Woman often wear 4 inch heels without a passing thought.  If you fail to practice your ice walking people look at you as if you are drunk….or American…..or both. (Public fall count for those keeping score at home: Sarah: 0, Chad: 1)
Buy a Kindle and stock it up with things you’ve been meaning to read. Then you can read, read, read, to pass the time and even check your e-mails. It only weighs like 5 ounces, so you get a lot of bang for your packing buck.
Don’t let the thought of one week worth of clothes for a 25 day trip freak you out. Instead, embrace this new way of dressing.  Make sure all your clothes are in the same color family (for instance I packed all grey and black (with splashes of pink of course), Chad mostly khaki and blue) then just rotate through your wardrobe, mixing and matching until your clothes can almost walk on their own. Then it’s time to wash.  This new way of dressing is actually liberating! No fussing over clothes, laundry, or excessive personal hygiene! I think Russians feel this way about bathing and hair washing too, but I haven’t gotten to that place of “zen” yet…..but then again it’s only day 10.
Fall in love with Russia if only for this one concept: After every meal (yes, even Breakfast) stop for tea and at least one piece of delightful chocolate or yummy cookie from the candy dish.  The same goes for welcoming someone into your home or place of business. It is a simple plan: Stop. Exchange pleasantries. Have tea. Eat Chocolate.  I mean, why don’t we do this? Oh yeah….the rat race.
Stop fiddling. Russians walk with purpose and exchange business the same way. I have noticed now, just how much I fiddle. My money is never ready, my scarf is always knotted, I can never remember which pocket my gloves are in. I make multiple trips up the stairs to fetch something I have forgotten. Russians always give the illusion of “having it all together”. Have a plan and work the plan. I am working on being more efficient and organized in the way I carry out my business.  Mostly, I feel like Mr. Bean every time I must carry out a task, and therefore, treated like a toddler.
Embrace the American concept of “rugged individualism”.  It’s easy to stand silent in a place where the language you don’t understand swirls around you or your constant place of remaining on a “need to know” basis.  Instead remember what you say has value and you are a unique creature just from being born in the place you were born:  the land of the free and the home of the brave, the home of courage, capitalism, and democracy.  Don’t get beaten down by your own fears or illusions of inadequacy. 
However, along those lines, you can be proud without being boastful.  Stand up straight but never above someone else.  Be assertive, but never pushy. Know how many rubles are in a dollar and how many dollars are in a euro. Don’t be taken advantage of, but hang on to your beliefs that all people are basically good.  Be savvy without being suspicious. Embrace new ideas and different ways of doing things. You will learn something new every day.
Swap stories. Just like a character in a good book, we are who we are because of our past. Listen to stories about communism, upbringing, and cooking tips. Learn from delightful phrases such as: “I will (fill in the blank) when the crab sings on top of the mountain” (as in "when pigs fly) or “Be careful: at age 45 a woman turns back into a bear”.  You have found a friend when someone is as interested in your life as you are in theirs.
Don’t drink the water. Ever. Not even while brushing your teeth when you think to yourself “How much water do we really take in while brushing our teeth, I think it’ll be fine…..” JUST. DON’T. DO. IT. PERIOD.
Do not handle anything small over a sink. The drains have no covers and I think it does actually go all the way to China.
Bring one of those ridiculous looking inflatable neck pillow for sleeping in the car. One: it will protect your melon and help fight off the concussion you will get from all of the bouncing. Two:  It really helps you sleep in the car. Not because you are tired, but some things are so scary, it’s best just not to look at what’s going on.
Along those lines, nap often. It helps make up for the lack of sleep you will be getting on the cement slab you will be sleeping on at night.
Try new food. It is never as bad as it looks and for the most part, is downright tasty. Especially if you love fish, pork, noodles, cabbage, carrots, pancakes, onions, and garlic. Even if you don’t love the above-mentioned items, they are cooked in such a way that half the time you don’t know you just ate said fish, pork, noodles, cabbage, carrots, pancakes, onions, or garlic.
In that vein, bring a favorite recipe to share. Note: one that does not contain ingredients that say “processed” “condensed” or “concentrated”. From our journey to the grocery store yesterday, there isn’t a lot of that. Today I made Eggplant Parmesan and garlic bread for our host family. They seemed to enjoy it! Breaking bread together is the most basic gesture of human kindness and sense of family. No words necessary.
So, for now, that's all I got. We are counting down the days until we see Charlie again (only 3!) and until he is forever ours (6!) Yippeee! We have been sitting, sleeping, eating, reading, and manically checking our email for words of encouragment from you (please keep them coming, or We WANT to hear from you and what's been happening on the other side of the pond. UNLESS it involves what yummy american food you have been enjoying (RICK!) or how delightfully warm it is outside (JOEY!) Just kidding....we want to hear about that too.....we are just jealous!