Monday, December 26, 2011

Just $1100 More Dollars to Raise for Orphans at Play This Year

Just $1100 more dollars to raise in reaching our goal to fund two grandmothers for the year 2012. We look forward to giving the children 2 wonderful supportive grandmas who will help encourage positive development, give hugs, interactive play and stimulate growth. Every dollar counts so please think about giving a coffee drink worth of money or if you have a special person you would like to honor this month we are still sending Give a Grandma Cards to those you would like to donate money in their name with a special message.

On a personal note: I have two boys, one from a Russian baby hospital and the other from a baby home and I would have given so much to know they had that extra interaction and love each day. When I met my first son, he would stare blankly into the sky and out of the window. I could see such much more happening in that little mind of his however with such little stimulation, he just sat there. He did not even know how to grasp a play car they had put in front of him. The simple pleasures like feeling grass between their toes, many may not experience until they are much older. I walked him around the hotel that first day and we touched leaves together and I saw his eyes widen with each experience.

The grandmas will be put into these homes following curriculum that has been created specially by our development team giving these orphans a chance to flourish a bit more than they would in an average day.

Please take a moment and help us reach our goal. We have come a long way and are almost there! Thank you to those who have helped us raise $3900 dollars.

Orphans at Play

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Transitioning Back Home with Lil Ewan

I have not been on here as much as I would like to update on how the transition is going. I have found it interesting to see such differences in the children with regard to what we need to concentrate on versus what we had to with Alexei.

Ewan's Transition Time:

- Sleeps well

- Whiny to the extreme

- Babbles a lot but does not like to speak very much, although he totally can say about 5 words just fine. If you ask him to say Mama he just smiles. Now he says the word Hi all of the time in a sing songy version I must get on video for people to believe me when I say he sounds like a guy picking a girl up in a bar. Eeks. lol.

- He had giardia. Recommend a full check on all children when brought home. He was a bit bloated and seriously thirsty, which were symptoms. We are currently having him checked now for H-pylori.

- We think he may be head butting his head. I have only caught him once but he seems to like to bruise the same spot on the middle of his forehead a lot.

- We are taking him to a cardiologist due to a heart murmur to confirm he is fine and address his heavy breathing when he drinks too much.

- He will drink to the point of throwing it up or basically his stomach will just not allow more fluids. Well, we have controlled his intake and we thought 2 sippy cups wouldn't be too bad.

- His balance is improving, his leg strength and running. We have him pick himself up all of the time and it has really helped with his legs and confidence.

- He does like to go head first any time he can so watching him around stairs and making sure the gate is closed is huge.

- He hated the car seat at first but with music he will settle in and snacks of course.

- He hates, absolutely hates being bundled up. I hate to say it Russia as I am very kind on most things but these children do not stand for being bundled up when we get them home. I have one child, Alexei who will run naked any chance he can and now Ewan undresses himself at night and every time we get into the car, the shoes and socks must come off including the hat. This is on very cold days too. Aargh. They rebel BIG time like the teenage years.

- He uses the "potty" only when you say "Mochitsya" Yup, who knows where he got that word but "Pisit" has not worked yet.

- Walks up to the world and will let them hold him. Must curb this now.

Ewan likes to pick up stuff and put it in his mouth all of the time. He is so different from Alexei it is just amazing but then he also came from a hospital that was so rigid in it's structure and Alexei was just not used to so much rigidity.

Alexei's transition time:

- Didn't sleep, still doesn't. He is my midnight hour boy. If it wasn't for melatonin the Dr. prescribed, I am not sure if he ever would lol. He was done with naps the moment he came home. I have been to all of the specialists and they say he is a Disneyland syndrome boy, high functioning and doesn't want to miss a thing. He is fine. Well tell that to his Mama who is up with him at 1:45am to this day at times.

- Hyper. He is very energetic. He is focused though.

- Talkative. Speech was pretty much easy and he picked up very fast. He knows both languages with small words and some French. The kid just picks up languages and asks about everything. You know the kid in "Bad Santa" that asks why every other moment. Yup, that's him. Dear lord, give me strength ha ha.

- So we took him to NY to visit our Vlad family and ever since then he says, "Huh?" drawn out with an accent. Sigh, even if he has heard it 4x, he will say it and I say, what did I just say and he will repeat it so I know he heard it and his hearing is very good.

- My right hand. He has always been Mini Mama, my right hand, helps me with everything, even the dishes and right now he is finally asleep at midnight holding onto my arm on the couch.

- His strength in his legs was pretty amazing at 15 months old. Very strong child but then the babies I have seen from his baby home are pretty darn strong with bad sleeping habits lol.

- He tries every food first and then will tell me if he does not like it. In fact, he finished off a pomegranate with me tonight.

Due to his lack of sleeping and high energy, his transition left Mama crying at times but now I have the strength and patience to know how to work it just right and communicate with him on a level that works. I can't blame him as he came from a baby home to us and said, "Look world, I am ready now!" And has never stopped being ready.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Donate Your Coffee Drinks This Week to Orphans at Play: Give a Child a Hug This Holiday Season

Give the Gift that Lasts all Year Long: the Gift of a Grandma and Help our Orphans in Russia. Just 2 Coffee Drinks this Week equals $10 dollars.

As I sit going over my list for the holidays by the twinkly lights of our tree, I cannot help but think of the children I saw reaching their arms into the sky for us as we walked past, some saying, "Mama". I watch my boys run around in the house all snuggly in their holiday pajamas and playing with their toys. To think they were one of those children hoping for the same thing each child in those orphanages so desperately want, a Mama, a Papa and a forever family. Something so simple. Something we often take for granted, a life with a balanced nutritional diet, apple juice anytime they come in asking me, toys galore and the most cherished item, a hug. The simple act of a hug can help with development and give a child a moment of hope and love.

Orphans at Play designed curriculum specifically to give children a chance at getting that simple hug, play time and increase their ability in attachment and physical development. We ask that you give your holiday list a second look and if there is someone you have been wanting to get a gift for this season, make it a gift of a hug from one of our special grandma's to be placed in an orphanage. Your donation, whether $10 or more goes specifically to the Give a Grandma program this season. The funds will be sent to Vladivostok directly in care of the Give a Grandma program, which will place grandma's into baby homes and orphanages for the year 2012. We are seeking to raise a total of 5000k. So far we have reached 2000k. We currently have two Grandma's waiting to be put into homes in Nakhodka and we hope to place more into the Vladivostok City area.

Your donation is tax deductible and you will receive a specially designed certificate for the recipient your donation will be in honor of with our upcoming launch of Give a Grandma this Holiday Season.

To hear the words, "I love you Mama" when my son hugs me is worth it all. Give a Hug this Holiday Season. Help us Give a Grandma. Just $10 dollars, much like 2 coffee drinks will get us a bit farther in reaching our goal. I challenge all of you, my family and friends to give just $10 this week. - HunterAnn

Donate to www.orphansatplay.org this week.

Donate

Monday, November 14, 2011

Never underestimate a 3.5 year old

I have been home for 1.5 weeks and we are transitioning into having two boys. Two boys with two huge personalities.

Only in the middle of the night do I sit and think about at times the last 6 weeks and as I adjust and start to move forward I realize that my son Alexei is going through an even harder time on a different level. Will I ever be the same me? Not at all. Am I still angry? Completely. When asked recently about the situation and how I was feeling, I said I am angry, angry at how this happened. I know there are 5 stages and maybe that's life, I just have to endure. My husband is on the next stage. I figure it is because he got home earlier and could deal with things sooner.

In the last 4 days, this is what I have had to either answer or sit down and talk about with my Alexei who is at his own grieving stage:

1) When are we going back to Russia to pick up my sister?

2) (the hardest one) Why did we lose my sister?

3) Tell me about the story of when we are going to Russia to pick up my sister. The one with the airplane and us playing.

4) I have a sister and a brother. My sister is in Russia.

Some people tell me how 3 year old's do not remember much. Let me tell you, from a child development background, they remember almost everything. I have sat here with my son the last couple of days and he has told me about how I should remember when we went on the horse ride at Disneyland and how we saw Goofy and met Mickey Mouse. He had just turned 2 and he recalls every detail. My husband said just the other day he was recalling the entire trip down to details.

I know from when I was 3 I remember just about everything too.

So, how old is too old to sit down and explain what happened? Well, I have said her mother came back for her but then the whole question comes up, is she with her mother? Well, then the question is do you lie to your child? I have never been one to feel comfortable doing so. I then work on avoidance of the issue, however as you have seen above, it will take time and it is still quite fresh in my little 3 year old's mind.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Last 6 Weeks and My Strength

Today, my parents went home. I now get to spend the first day tomorrow with my boys, just the 3 of us. As I take the first moment to reflect (I see many moments like these in the next few days) on everything we have gone through this past year and most importantly these past 6 weeks, I think of my grandmother who died suddenly 9 years.

How has she been such an impact on the strength I have had to get me through these past 6 weeks?

My grandmother Natalie or should we say "mom" since grandmother was not in her vocabulary was a woman that I am sure I have felt was a steep hill to even live up to with all she had accomplished in her time period. Her photos sit on my mantle, as my screen saver and downstairs in my hallway that serve as a reminder to where I have come from and where I am today.

She was a driven woman pushed strongly by her mother, Anna a nurse and her aunt Irene who she was raised by since watching her father Nicholas drown right off La Jolla Shores Beach when she was a young girl.

She played oboe in the school symphony and went off to university where she took her music further. Then she became a reporter for United Press International and was on her way to cover the fashion shows in Paris and around the world. The woman was unstoppable living in a man's world. She became the first CBS anchor woman in San Diego in addition to news radio, covering the hard news as well as hollywood women's press club and covering the Vietnam war in a helicopter with her news photographer above a war zone and marrying the love of her life who was also a news reporter in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

He, being my grandfather Bill died when my mother was 8 years old suddenly after being taken to a hospital. While the love of her life passed away, she received notice the same day that her mother had suddenly died 2 hours away while being with my mother who was also just a young girl.

Now a single parent of a daughter and a full time news lady, there was no time to slow down in the early 60's. She kept going, gone on assignments all of the time and when home having a social life that mixed with work and was gone at fancy engagements.

I remember being 17 and asked by my highschool teacher to interview my grandmother. Phmmp, try doing this when your grandmother does this for a living. I was so incredibly nervous and was afraid to ask her anything if it wasn't the "Right" way to do so. I looked up to her hugely. She was "mom" after all and you did what she said and you dressed the part, always dressed up to every dinner, holiday, engagement, you name it and what I remember most was when she said, "You do what you do for you, that's all that matters in life." She was a strong woman but had to be. I do not remember her tearing up once until her next husband passed away.

She went swimming and worked out daily, always in bed before midnight as she said otherwise you would not look your best. She taught me to walk with books on my head, put me in a summer program on how to eat properly, dress well and walk the runway at the old Broadway store. My clothes were made for me by Saks Fifth Ave for years by a lady with long rimmed black glasses and the funniest hair do but this was expected by my grandmother.

Life was certainly with high expectations so now that she has been gone for 9 years, I know that there is so much of me who feels that life is important and I cannot let everything that has happened to us just fall to the wayside nor can I let it drain me of life but rather I can transition into the next stage of my life stronger and more prepared.

I often think of everything she had gone through and the person she became. She was incredible and most of it sadly I learned as I sat for a week with family and called her very large book of contacts to say she had passed.

Most of all, I feel she has been there with me in Russia for all those weeks. She lived in a complex time period in America. Concerning her job, there were things better left unsaid. I remember though being raised on sour cream in every thing, soups, sauces being made in what they call a tyudka in Russia, borscht on our table, red cabbage, shredded carrots in everything (ick), mushrooms in everything, the importance of her daily vodka with a twist (never went a day without it), the strength she carried with her, the importance of taking me to restaurants with Russian culture and how proud of me she was when I agreed to take Russian language in highschool. I knew we had family in Britain and that was all that mattered. This is what we were. She was strong about this but not until we decided to adopt our son from Russia has so many things come back to me and talking with my mother have I found out so much and learned so much about myself and who I am.

Through my sons I have found a greater me. I always thought I would have a daughter. It was important to my grandmother and we have had the strong women in our life passed down through generations and now I have 2 boys. I walked out today to my livingroom looking at my husband and 2 boys. I thought wow, I am to raise 2 boys.

I will say this as I have said in the past, Do not be afraid to ask your parents questions and to get to know them, even to sit down and ask them everything you have ever wanted to know. I learned more about my grandmother once she died and yet she was in my life since the day I was born guiding me to the woman I am today.

Some people have asked or said to me, "How have you been these past 6 weeks? or I could never have done it, how did you? or You have so much strength."

I dedicate this strength to the women in my family who have pushed us to take that step in making it no matter what comes in our path.

My husband who taught me to cry and hug and I will say, my grandmother spent 10 hours at least with his parents one day making sure he was the man I should be with, which I did not know about until after and I still think that in some way, he was brought to me to make this all happen and to do this together.

He is often my calm, my strength that was also my grandmother "mom". She died a year after I married him and I often think as those two hummingbirds came to my window flying still in the air together looking my direction that morning, signifying my grandfather, Robert Hunter and my grandmother Natalie Ann that they were there to tell me, "It's your turn now but we are here with you every step of the way."

They have been and now I hope to pass down everything that was passed to me on the importance of living and being a person who can overcome many of life's most difficult hurdles.

To my grandmother as I drink her daily vice, Vodka with a twist, "za schast'ye", To happiness. Thank you for bringing me here.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Transitions Coming Soon... Monday That Is

I am preparing myself as Monday will be our first transition day as a family of 4. My parents will have flown home and we will see what it is like to have our 2 boys, 2 big dogs, cats, fish and us all under one roof lol.

I have kept the mini man under his schedule, which helps. 2pm nap and 9pm bedtime.

Funny story: So we took mini man to the mall with his brother and my parents. Inside the play area, there were parents sitting watching their kids play, eating and drinking. My mother had to run after mini man quite a few times due to the fact he was trying to eat their food and even attempted to steal a warm pretzel from one Mama. (Looking like we starve him or something lol) Well, he got his first taste of the Wetzel Pretzel. Being gluten free myself, I watched him down 6 pretzel nuggets happily and one Starbucks apple juice on the rocks.

He is for sure fitting into the lifestyle here in Seattle.

Mini Man, despite almost 2 years of age in January prefers his food in liquid style. (Ick) As he would like us to basically puree everything from veggies to cereal. My mother has spoiled him with making oatmeal and milk in a liquidy state so he can drink it up. Again, ick but today we went and picked up his cereal from a Russian grocers, some enfamil and some Zoo animals crackers from Russia. He is lovin' life at the Booth's residence.

Hilariously, he will sit in my arms and I tell him to put his head down on my shoulder pushing gently and he does, then he pops his head up with this huge smile as a funny. Not so funny when he should be in bed but I can't help but turn my head and silently laugh to myself of how good he is at turning on the charm. Both of my boys are heading down the road of figuring out how to get what they need in the world with a few smiles, sparkly eyes and some stylin' fashion.

My mother bought the boys some new winter wear at Nordy's and Alexei promptly after trying on 4 pairs of shoes, walking around in them and deciding on one, brought his goods home to share with his Papa.

He now has a new winter coat, 3 long sleeves, socks, 1 pair of gray ugg boots, 1 pair of converse, new hat and a couple pairs of jeans.

Mini man has a few new hats, pants, socks, London onesies, jeans and some stylin' green kicks my mother picked out.

If anyone thought girls were more expensive, try two boys into fashion and their own looks.

For example: My Alexei has pleaded with me to get his hair cut this weekend. I mean pleaded. When walking in the mall hand in hand, we passed a salon and he said, "Mama, isn't that where we get our hair cuts?" And I said, "No, but they do hair there." "Can I get a hair cut please?" LOL, what happened to my boys??!!

Starbucks, Fashion, Style, Dancing Sing- a -holics and Film Critics. Well, guess they are 2 Euro American infusions of sorts.

Oh and should I mention that Ewan keeps getting mistaken for a girl?? Beyond the gushing and I mean, he must have a major big ego now after all of the women were all over him from one end of the mall to the other, some women thought of him as a very cute girl LOL.

Oh and when Alexei made his Christmas list, he said to me, "And I want the kitchen most because I will make you coffee Mama and lunch for Papa." The boy sure knows us well ;)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dasvidania Vladivostok..... You've Been Life Changing... Once Again

Tomorrow, 12:30pm we are picked up by Anya and a driver to be taken to the Vladivostok Airport. We will meet the courier there from Moscow, crossing our fingers all is good to go. Then off to Seoul, Korea to board a plane to Seattle, Washington to arrive there Wednesday at 12 noon and be home by 2pm with a stop at the nearest Starbucks.

I did some walking the past couple of days to clear my head and breathe a bit. What I found most was the emotion rising from leaving Vladivostok. I am only in a hurry because my family awaits me and let's face it, I have basically lived here since September and am ready for my bed and life at home. The emotions are starting to surface. I have warned Juliya who is here to help me get back home that once I am in Korea, I will feel more calm but for now as always leaving here creates such a deep energy of stirring emotions. I feel ancy, I feel like I want to cry, I feel tired, I feel ready and not ready.

I suppose maybe I know my heart will continue to stay here and be forever in Vladivostok. The people, the environment, the hotel, the friends and the memories. I know there will be a moment where I will just need to cry and I will have to face the music and then there will be the moment where I move forward and finish what I started.

Ashley, another mother has been hugely supportive here in Vladivostok. We both embarked on this journey through the same agency, same coordinator and once we are home, we will be with our two boys, hers who have such an incredible love for their Mama already and me, with my wild house of boys. Man, from humans to animals, I am the only woman! Outnumbered!!! LOL.

Laura, my ColdPlay partner lol. I will always be around and ready to converse from here to eternity. Have fun being a Mama.

Jamie, you are almost there. I expect to hear your court was a breeze and your little girl is with you. Thank you for the conversation and laughs. See you again!

Rachel, I only met you for a few hours, I wish you all the luck in the world as your journey takes you back home to New Zealand to wait to come back. Will be thinking of you.

Abbey and Daniel, so much to say, so much fun to be with you all and I will continue to watch as your family enjoys all of the happiness you all so deserve.

Randy and Danny, you may never see this but I will keep in touch with you all and hope your first two weeks being parents has been what you have wanted for the last 17 years. You all were smiles and showed so much happiness when you brought your little girl back to the hotel. I will surely keep in touch. It feels like eternity since I've seen you all.

Thank you to all of those who made this trip happen for us and who helped out here and back in the America's. We appreciate everything and you all are in our hearts. There is really no thank you that feels right, you all deserve so much more.

See you Michael and Alexei in 32 hours!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A monsoon formed and as the floods washed away, a tiny green leaf reached out from below the wet soil.


I will become stronger in time and carve a path in life that will give these boys a deeper understanding of the world, who they are and where they are from while showing them every opportunity I can to live a life worth fighting for each and every day.

Michael and I have faced challenges since the day we met, hard one's and we have had to make sacrifices, difficult decisions and we have had to get up after every fall, every knock out, brush ourselves off and become the person we are continuously transitioning into.

We have had people cry for us during this trip, fear the unknown and please know that no matter where this path takes you, you are here because you were given a chance to climb a mountain and accomplish a task that would change your lives forever.

I still have to brush myself off but when I do, I will be a new woman, a woman my boys will be able to count on and one who will be there in the moment.

For those who are working through the process, don't be afraid to reach out, ask questions and know I am always here, reachable one way or another to lend an ear, give a moment of reassurance. A friend is always there. You are never alone. I have met, been given the chance to strengthen great friendships with those who I may never meet but through conversations, through the simplicity of "I'm here for you," I am here for you.

I'm Coming Home.... 2 Days. Bring It.

I'm coming home, I'm coming home, tell the world I'm coming home. Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday
P.Diddy

2 days I am coming home:

HOME
Alexei
Michael
Doggies
Cats
Family
Friends
BED
Shower

Starbucks
Thai food
Mexican food
Car

Fireplace, rain, blanket, hot tea and my boys.

What I will miss:

Obviously, I am in need of my own bed, my own environment after a long few weeks, an unusually long, emotionally and physically draining few weeks that has brought us a new son.

I will miss those who have been there for us here. I will miss the incredible friends and new Mama's I have met and formed our adoption bonds. I will miss the trees, the scent in the air of burning wood and the soul from where both of my boys have come to us.

I will miss the familiar faces who work hard every day making the Vlad Inn run smoothly. I will miss the room where parents gathered to share and find out more about life as an adoptive parent.

But I'm coming home..... where I need to be.

Russian Submarines, Statues, Memorials and Military Battleships

Today was a great day to get out, smell the fresh salt water and climb through a Russian military submarine and I have to say it was a lot of fun to see such history.

We walked along the railway.
We visited the Aquarium. Saw a sad crocodile.
We walked and crawled through the Russian submarine.
We visited the memorial.
We took photos of the battleships while personal swept the floors.
We listened to church bells ring.
We stood by the Neptune statue and walked through the park.
We bought box juices for the kids at the grocery stand.

We've been hanging out with the Fischbach's, Ashley and Kyle, Dmi and Karston. It has been fun having them with us and bein




g able to feel comfortable getting around, walking to the beach, picking up rocks, skipping stones and driving through the city.

All of us are seriously anxious to get back home so trying to pass the time as fast as we can.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

This Song Has Followed Me and Stuck with Me and Now More Than Ever

I first heard this song in Kenosha while heading to close friends' wedding weekend. It has stuck with me ever since. From being Montreal Canadien's theme song (not sure why lol) to now when I feel like I need it more than ever.

Lights will guide me home and that is exactly what I am hoping for. I am in a downer point, have ups and downs from all of this and tonight I am mostly wanting to be teary but holding it together. I suppose it is due to feeling a bit lonely here without my family, my husband and realizing this is all coming to a close and I will be returning home in 3 days. It is a huge door to close while awaiting to walk through the next door open. I am hoping these lights will guide be home. I know things will not be perfect. I foresee laughter and I predict tears before this is all over and done with.

My husband and I have said with everything this year 2011 has brought to us, New Years could not mean more to us and we hope to just lay low for the next 8 weeks, sitting quietly at home with our new family, in the comforts of our home and reflect on just what we have accomplished this year through the many sacrifices it took to get where we are. There have been moments in our life where we feel we have been tested to our brink but I will say it is this experience, the experience that led us to our son who seems like the happiest kid I have seen in a long time. Smiles endlessly. I suppose he was the boy to "Fix us".

"When you try your best, but you don't succeed
When you get what you want, but not what you need
When you feel so tired, but you can't sleep
Stuck in reverse

And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can't replace
When you love someone, but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

And high up above or down below
When you're too in love to let it go
But if you never try you'll never know
Just what you're worth" - Cold Play's "Fix You"

A couple of photos for the blog


Thursday, October 27, 2011

More Funny Times At Vlad: The Pattern to Our Trip

Yes, this has been one eventful trip!


1) At the DOE office, here we are 5 people in the 4 person elevator. Maybe it says 5 but needless to say it stopped between floors. I believe the lady when called thought it was funny. Then suddenly black out. Here we are in an elevator in complete darkness.

2) Locked out of laundry room at 11pm and my clothes are inside drying. Needless to say, took a few trips to the lobby to solve this one lol.

3) Well, upon returning from the embassy, we met Juliya here to help Ewan and I. Well, they only have one key for 136, period. Then they have 2 keys for 132. Well, somehow, we dead bolted 132 and then locked ourselves out with 136 being on the inside. We went to the lobby and let her know sheepishly "We locked ourselves out of the room, I AM SO SORRY." See I knew they were short on keys. They warned us. She said, "Get comfortable you may be here all night." I said, "Okay, should we delay room service?" She said, "Yes, I will delay the room service." So as we are sitting out there waiting and she is making calls, Ashley F came by with her cutie boy and said if you are here all night, we can make a slumber party in our room, just let us know. AWESOME kindness by the way. So then, eventually they find a master key and we are let in.

4) "Can you tell me what soup I am eating?" She says to me, "I don't know, pork and something".

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tomorrow We are Off to the Embassy and Passport Office

Tomorrow will lead us to the Embassy, the Passport Office and Children's Medicals. We are heading there with The Fischbachs and their two children as well as another couple I think.

Looking forward to getting through tomorrow as it means the last of the paperwork. I hope. Boy, I hate to jinx anything at this point lol.

Our sitter is also flying in tomorrow and since she is Ukrainian and speaks fluent Russian, I am hoping to have some good translations happening as we go to the souvenir shop on Friday.

So glad she will be here to help me fly home. It is such a relief to know I have back up at this point. I am pretty exhausted, more so physically.

Although lol, I was totally embarrassed when I went up to a mother today and re-introduced myself to her. She said, "I just met you the other day" OOPS! I went back an hour later and she was so sweet as I just had to apologize for my exhaustion. LOL. Her husband is flying back in to help her out any day. So great. She has a little girl that is basically her. I have never seen a child look so much like a mini version of a parent. I mean to the tee, otherwise I wouldn't think to bring it up. Amazing. Both have tight curls and all. Adorable little girl.

Halloween is here, being celebrated on Friday, the 28th. This is their Halloween I have been told. The windows, like every single one is covered with plastic pumpkins, ghosts or monsters. Each column is wrapped in plastic black spooky like wrapping. Although we will not be going to the party, I must try to sneak some photos in for you all to see.

They have put bat leaf bags outside as well as pumpkin one's. It is pretty chilly here at 5 degrees celsius, however of course the day we leave, it is super nice. I hear it is chilly back in Seattle. Autumn has arrived. So looking forward to it. I am still a little bit on the fence as to why everyone is so bundled up here and complaining about the cold. I keep telling my coordinator Anya hehe that it is much colder feeling back home. We were about to leave the car and she said to me, "You are putting on a jacket right?" I really wanted to say no but I put it on because otherwise talk about standing out greatly. It feels SO GOOD out there. The crisp cold air feels fresh and seasonal.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

University of Washington International Adoption Medicine

Hello Fellow Adoptive Mommies and Daddies!

I write this as I received a lengthy letter from our Adoption Doctors who not only have taken care of us through 4 referrals, but also for over 2 years now. They have been there for us as well as Alexei's pediatrician since we live in the Seattle area.

The letter was incredibly kind, personal and spoke about our losses as well as what is in store for us when we come home. There is nothing better than knowing they are there for us when we need them from several thousand miles away to 20 minutes away. They mentioned they often hear of a lot of stories as they are in the field of adoption obviously but never one in the 11th hour. I guess this has been quite the story for people back home.

I know when we lost our first referral during our first trip and had to get a response asap for our second referral, they responded within 9 hours so we had the information in the morning before we left to see our little girl.

Highly recommend Dr. Julia Bledsoe, Dr. Julian Davies and Cynthia who has helped us out with last minute requests and needs for paperwork.

More Vladivostok Photos for Anyone's Interest




7.5 hours of Paperwork, a baby and back to the hotel for Grape Fanta

I am not a huge a soda drinker. I usually only drink it when I am in desperate need of a coke or out of town on travel or desperate for herbal tea. Having said this, I cannot get enough of this Fanta Grape here in Russia. Maybe it is the lack of high fructose corn syrup we all live on back in America, but it is darn tasty.

7.5 hours of Paperwork and Ewan sat in his carrier against my chest for 7 hours of the day. What a patient boy! Holy moly. I am not used to this. I have Alexei, he never used it, wouldn't even consider it for a moment, well until Ewan sat in it. Imagine a 3 year old going around the hotel thinking it is a ride.

I have found that both boys take after personality traits of both Michael and myself.

Alexei: Well, since the moment I met him, it was like magic, truly, I just knew. I was not much of a child person until I met Alexei. It was in his eyes, I knew something just connected with us as if I understood him in some way. Since then, he has pretty much taken after me. Unable to take naps, hyper active or shall we say high energy and loves the late nights, would drink straight up espresso if I allowed him (he has stolen a few times shall we say) and enjoys pretty much all film and music I like. With Alexei even if he is wanting to throw a tantrum, go nuts or sit nicely on a 12 hour plane ride as we talked pretty much the entire time or read books, we just connect.
I think even the judge looked at me funny when she asked what we do when he throws a tantrum and I had to answer and I said, "Talk to him." Simply often talking to him or as I also mentioned, "Tell me when you are done." (He is too stubborn, he stops right away with a Phmmph hehe).

I worked with children for 8 years, specialized in behavior and well, Alexei is my true test on all heights and I find him such an incredibly high functioning, challenging, creative 3 year old.

Ewan: This 22 month old little boy I have spent a while with reminds me of my husband. In fact, although obviously we connect with both boys on some level, I saw my husband with this huge smile when he met him, unlike what I have seen for a long time. He was so over joyed and he also took care of him for the first week. Yup, that's right, everything pretty much. I suppose this time alone is good for me to get ready to be able to take care of Ewan since I will have both boys daily in our chaotic, fun house. Ewan is quiet at times, talks when he needs too, loves to be tickled, laughs a lot and loves his sleep.

Parents are telling me this time is great for me to bond with Ewan and I whole heartedly agree, however I am also someone who works better in the fast lane. I'm from Southern Cali, put on your flip flops and multi-task. God, I miss mexican food. Okay, deriving. Anyways, Ewan sleeps so far 12 hours a night and 2 hour naps, lol. Whew, that does give me time, time to go stir crazy!!! LOL, although I have not slept for ages, obviously neither does Alexei. I have just heard Alexei has gone for 30 hours now on 3 hours of sleep. Is that 30 or more? Yikes, well I just spoke to the boys at midnight, there time and they arrived at noon and since I am not home, Alexei is driving Michael crazy. He broke a glass, won't go to bed and here Michael hasn't slept at all and has to work in the morning. Alexei and I just have a bond and I feel like our magnetic hold is broken for the moment. I so wanted, needed to be with him when I took him from Russia for the second time.

There are so many deeper things going on beyond just what is on the surface. Bringing Alexei back here was so incredible and I wish it wasn't on such a turmoil basis but none the less it was a special time for him.

I am slowly bouncing back, my eyes a bit burny but I have met more parents, usually the first to tell me the 3 weeks is too long hehe, TELL ME ABOUT IT, no I mean really, I can totally relate and feel your hardship now as I turn into the 5 week range. I will vent with you and listen as I totally understand.

For example, my dog gets picked up in 2 days, over 5 weeks in the kennel! Ahhhh. For the record, yes dogs do get depressed and they do know it has been a long time so I am hoping he is all good and has not forgotten too much. My other dog usually will stop eating and get sad but he was more spoiled then ever this time around. Ahh, to hug them both.

I sit here watching Mickey's Christmas in the background. I am getting in the holiday spirit. I miss Halloween at home so on for the festivities of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Boys better get ready because Mama is coming home with a holiday energy and that means make way for the storage boxes coming out.

Get your rest while you can ;)

The day we get back we take Alexei to see Buzz and Woody on ICE. I think it is holiday related too. Hehe.

Announcing our NEW BOY: EWAN: Here are some PHOTOS finally!

Hello Everyone!
I am still in Russia for 8 more days but it is official that he is ours and I can post photos finally. Here is our 22 month old boy.



Monday, October 24, 2011

Our First Night Alone

As I walk out of my room in my pajamas (I think Michael packed my favorite sweatshirt as this is gone, sniff, sniff) lol holding the boy close in his girlie pajamas, the entire police brigade is in lobby. I do not think I have ever seen so many police here at the Vlad Inn.

I sneak into get a new internet card and walk back down the hall hearing fellow Americans talk about various things. I swear these walls are very thin.

I think about my husband who said he had a hard time the first flight and Alexei helped him out a bit. I think about Alexei grabbing onto me before they left and holding onto me so tight saying he didn't want to go. I told him, "I love you, take care of Papa and I will follow you home in a few days". Nine to be exact. It seems like eternity. Do not get me wrong. I am NO debbie downer but I have to say after the last month we have been here, obviously it has been a bumpy ride, thanks to our coordinator to help us through, I am not sure what we would have been able to do or where this would have left us without it. However, having said this and having some personal issues before we left, then the roller coaster kept going, we have started this together and desperately wanted to end it together.

Michael texted me and said it was difficult as it was not the same type of adoption trip home. He said it was very sad. And here I feel very empty. When we set out to do this together, we hoped to bring home our entire family. Life changes, things change and I confess, maybe I would be stronger if my husband hadn't been really sick the last 2 days here and if I have had sleep in the last 5 days. I am way too exhausted to deal with the continuing changes.

We have another long day tomorrow, which I hope isn't too long as it feels daunting in the state I am right now physically and mentally. Then another long day on Thursday at the embassy.

Thankfully, Ewan has just been hanging out entertaining himself bit by bit and running around in his pink polka dot pajamas. Remember, we were here for a girl lol, poor guy has some interesting pictures to remember later in life haha.

I know people say these days will go fast and this will all be in the past and it will obviously. For now, I just pray like a mad woman, I can sleep one night, for now I would be happy for one night. Nothing has worked so far, hot baths, meditation, tv, music, sound machine, nyquil, etc. So, I am going to hope that the nausea and physical exhaustion just let my body give in.

I await the moment I can skype my boys and say hello in 14 hours or so.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My Fellow Adoptive Mama is Leaving Town for Florida....

I have another Mama girlie leaving me for Florida haha.

I met Jennifer over 2 years ago and have not gone a day without talking to her in one form or another. Mostly online, however in the short amount of time we have been friends, we have been through a lot of stuff!!!! A lot of loss, trouble and happiness with our beautiful Russian born boys.

Although, I know we will keep in touch daily as we always will, gossip about housewives, vent about life, enjoy the funny moments online, it is still a hole left in Marysville without her.

I never thought I wouldn't get to say goodbye as we were going to be back to Seattle before she left but due to our circumstances and bringing home another Russian beautiful boy, we are missing out on seeing them and saying goodbye.

So, I sit and write on this blog knowing she will most likely read it and saying, I love you and I hope you have a wonderful, safe trip and meet all of the other Florida Adoptive Mama's there because there are LOTS. Florida is saturated with Mama's like us and beautiful Russian children. I will always be here for you. Hugs my friend. XO

2 more Days for the Alexei and Michael and....Advice

Alexei and Michael leave in 2 days to the States and of course we had to make this trip even more interesting, as if it wasn't enough lol.

Michael ended up eating a piece of chicken from room service and he said it didn't taste right and of course one hour later, severe food poisoning, up all night, still pretty weak but I am working on getting some fluids in him.

My advice from this for future travelers:
Before we left I asked my doctor for 2 prescriptions just in case, one was for nausea and the other stomach issues. We tried them at first and they did not work as his body was seriously unhappy with the bad chicken. We tried them today and so far they are working. I advise anyone to get the strong prescription stuff just in case. Michael usually has a stomach of steel when it comes to getting sick and it is very rare for him and this was just not good.

I have tried my Russian for getting herbal tea and ended up with green tea both times. I finally had Michael ask, poor guy and they do not carry herbal tea. This is another thought if you are traveling to bring some bags of herbal tea, mint or otherwise just in case.

I am anxious now to get these two boys home as it has been a little over a month now and they are exhausted and Alexei has been putting us through the ringer. My mother talked to him about seeing him at home and he told her "You will see me here." She said no, your home with Bernie and Alexei did not understand what she meant. I have even had him watch video of his house and he is either home sick or does not get he is going back home to his doggie on a plane. Hopefully, he will be good for Michael and get on the plane and be mellow LOL. Seriously, a miracle but I have faith that he will come through.

I am here for the next few days, 11 so far left and I have some business to take care of this week and then Juliya will be here to give me a break Thursday and help with the multiple plane rides home as we will be traveling end to end about 30 hours over night.

Another piece of advice as I have learned being here many parents did not know flying on Korean you can ask for a bassinet if your little one is small enough. I have requested this at the bulk head in hopes that little one will sleep some of the trip.

When I return back on November 2nd, I know I will need some rest and to get back into the routine with 2 boys, 2 dogs, cats and my lovely bed with my lovely comforter, cushy feather bed and you name it, I am looking forward to it.

I love looking out our window here at the Russian scenery and being here in Russia but this has been a super tiring trip of an emotional rollercoaster and I want to get off and relax with a cup of tea, watch the rain and cuddle with my boys, all of them. Plus, the holidays are coming up and since I am missing Halloween back home, I am super concentrating on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Let the holidays begin!!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mama Needs a Brand New Necklace

It's that time of year when the leaves are falling, the nights are colder and Mama needs a new necklace. The fabulous part about have children is being able to wear them around our necks in a beautifully done tile, customized with a photo of your choice. Well, my new little one in Vladivostok decided with the help of his older brother to chew and pull my photo necklace I wore just about every other day apart.

Therefore, hooray for Orphans at Play's Bashful Bliss customized necklaces. They are here just in time for me to replace mine and purchase new one's for my family during the holidays. What better way to show your love this year by helping support orphans in Russia and giving the gift of a personalized necklace. We will be debuting these with our holiday collection of necklaces in our up and coming brochure. Stay tuned as these are a hit. Every where I have gone, compliments followed.

So, Mama's dreaming of a new necklace, hope you will be too!

Downtown Court Photos




Tuesday, October 18, 2011

White Rabbit/Vlad Inn Fix Anyone?




"You're with us for a life time little guy, enjoy the ride"...

I share this as I think some can relate even if it is of the personal nature.

Tonight at midnight, my husband I spoke about being the parents we hope to be. As I have said before, we have not had that much time to talk and I've noticed that I feel a bit more outwardly and he has been holding things inside.

The dust has settled a bit and it has been time to reflect over the last couple of days of the the year we have had. This year has been full of loss, whether it be cherished pets we have had in our lives for a long time or the loss of children or the hardship of knowing loved one's have to endure serious health complications or loss of livelihood. Basically, it has been a year of constant challenges and struggles and we hope we can go home and settle in for the last two months to just be. As we thought about how we would like to end the year, we began to talk about how we want to be as parents.

Being a parent is difficult, often complicated and yet the most rewarding experience of a life time. It is just that, one for life. Today, I looked at Ewan and said, "well you're with us for a life time little guy, enjoy the ride".

Growing up, my grandmother was very stoic, simply said, "Do what you need to do for yourself." This was in highschool. That was it. Simple and to the point.

Michael and I have so many goals and we hope to be able to meet them and we will work as hard as we can to do so:

1) Work hard for our family but most of all, be present, physically and emotionally.

2) Know when our children need us even when it seems as if they are fine. I hope I can be someone our children will want to call, will want to come over for coffee and just sit. Later in life I may not be their first choice but I want us to be a choice. Our job is to be there, any time, anywhere, no matter what is happening in our lives at age 2, age 18, age 37, god willing and then some.

3) Parents who listen, not just with our ears but with our hearts and hear the unsaid. (similar to above but needed to be separated).

4) Nurture, love and be open minded. To show our children the world and let them choose their paths to their own happiness. We will be there to guide them every step of the way.

We love our children more than anything and we need them to know, no matter what, we are there to laugh with them, to protect them, to cry with them, to be proud of them, to give them the world and to be parents that in 20 years they say they are pretty damn cool parents.

None of us can be perfect but we can go out of our way to be there.

The day we found out we lost our little girl, just after 2 personal losses we had suffered just days before leaving Russia, my mother got on skype, she was so angry and so full of emotion. Her protective side came out and believe me, it is not one you want to stand in the way of. She has gone after a burgler in her nightgown lol.

She is often busy and does not have the time she would've liked in life to be there for us. I know as she would say when she had a couple of days off, I like being home, able to cook and keep up with things. Before I go off track, the most important thing she did for us was ask questions:

How are you both doing? How is Michael? How are you? How are you really? I know you are not fine. How can this happen?

The next day, How are you? What's going on? How is Michael? Are you feeling okay? Take your vitamins. You need all of the help you can get. What are you feeling?

The next day, How are you both? I know you're not okay. Thus, I finally wasn't okay and began crying. I knew she was probably one of the few who would just sit there, hear me and tell her I am not okay.

I reached out finally. This situation and things that happened just before we left could not possibly have given us the super hero steel we so wished we could have as things began to crumble even more than we thought could.

Our families are often quite strong, stoic and do not talk things out. I will say, in our deepest moments, my mother became the parent I needed most at a time when I felt completely alone.

As Michael and I spoke about all of the different qualities we need to have, to push for, we spoke of the one that seems often to be the one that is most needed. We want to be the parents that just listen. The parents that on some level may be able to relate to our children and say, "We're here."

I suppose it takes these moments to know just how human we are when we are forced to take off the cape and symbol of strength. After all, life was never meant to be an easy road so Alexei and Ewan, enjoy the ride and know we will always be there when life is paved and when the road has no longer become a clear path.

Monday, October 17, 2011

2 Full Weeks To Go

Today we said goodbye to the family we arrived with just a little over 3 weeks ago. It was nice reading their blog posts and talking about the things they cannot wait to get back home too.

I am a bit tired today. I guess letting down a lot. Alexei keeps waking up early and Michael hasn't stopped stressing about work since we arrived here, which makes things difficult. It was supposed to be our vacation, well it seems like the last time we had a family vacation was over a year ago so I was really hoping for some good family time. Each time I turn around, either Michael is so tired he is laying on a bed or having to make a meeting or stressing about what is happening at work and everything he has to do once he gets back.

No doubt, that although we have our family of four soon, this trip not only sent us into an emotional frenzy but has tired us out and put a lot of things in our lives at a stress point back home. We will work through it like we did this time. I am hoping that our next vacation in March 2012 will be less stressful and a little bit more family time. It is funny how even in a small hotel, we can keep so busy we are not all together. And two boys also who are keeping us busy means either we are separating to take one to play and the other to nap.

I keep thinking maybe when we get home we will have a chance to talk LOL.

There is a bit of sadness as I know Michael and Alexei leave in 5 days. It seems like forever ago when my sister was here and then it will be me and Ewan for 4 days and if we are lucky enough, Juliya will come in to help us fly home. I think by then I will so need a little respite before arriving home to our 2 dogs, cats and 2 wild boys.

I will be thankful though to get back into our routine and work things out having 2 children. I am not ready to let go of the girls clothes though yet and all of the items we have. I need to pack those up. There was a question today about girls clothes and I didn't realize how emotional it was going to make me feel inside. I am glad we have our family now but both Michael and I have a lot to get through from what has occurred in the past month emotionally and physically. It will take time I guess. Just when I think I am on an upper and going, I suddenly get jolted back to what happened. I think healing may be able to start once I am home and able to deal with reality.

It is no doubt that although I can travel the world and love to be all over, this is a very long trip and after the couple left we came with, I am realizing how lonely it is feeling having to be away from my own family and life back home. I do miss my dogs and I am starting to really miss my bed and my daily comforting Starbucks.

Oh well, just gotta keep going strong and hope I can continue this strength until I get home when I may want to collapse.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Funny Times in Vladivostok

Despite the emotional roller coaster, we have had some funny times and regretfully we are still trying to remember all of them as it has been trying obviously.

1) Alexei's dancing to "I'm Sexy and I Know It....I Work Out" by LMFAO. Hilarious and he thinks he knows all of the words.

2) Nervous driving to court, we are driving with Dimitriy and he has his music playing, which is always good and will pump us up for anything and Alexei starts singing with one of the songs, "I want to make you sweat..." And Michael and I are like, "oh man, c'mon, really?" as Alexei turns to us and asks, "I love this song, I want to make you sweat, who sings it?" Talk about breaking the ice.

3) First day in Vladivostok coming from airport, we have to stop so Anya can go and talk to a man. She leaves us in the car in Artyem and I am reading a book to Alexei. A man pulls up next to us and walks up to the car and knocks on the window and we are nervous, just being in town thinking, who is this? what does he want? let's ignore him. So Michael waves him away. This man lurks around Anya's car for like 40 minutes. Who was he? LOL, poor Anya's Papa who she called to look after us and here we are thinking he is some crazy guy. So sorry Anya's Papa. LOL.

4) I ordered room service and asked for a double Americano. I received 2 separate shots of espresso and water. I order the next time, 2 shots of espresso in an Americano and I receive 2 Americanos. LOL. I need to figure out how to order this because if I ask for an Americano, I get plain coffee.

5) My sister Lauren, poor thing attracted Security every time she went to the park and swings. No matter what security would come out, either do pull ups in front of her, laugh or closely watch her. We have know idea why. But the other day as Lauren has been gone for 1.5 weeks, the same security guard, walked past me, smiled, then looked back and smiled even wider. Lauren, I have no idea why this man was so interested in everything you did. You must have done something to peak his interest, lol.

6) The same group of older residents play tennis here. Same one's even from 2 years ago. We recognize most of them. This is not a funny one but I will just say when I am 60 something, I can only hope to have the 6 pack this lady has when she has half tank on flying the tennis ball back at the men on the other side who are not as fit as she is. I give them all credit though to be able to play out their when it is 40 degrees.

As much as I try hard, I can't think of the rest and honestly, I am missing the actual funny one's.

Our First Weekend with Ewan

Our first weekend with Ewan has been swell. He and his brother Alexei have been quite the busy pair. Alexei can become overly paranoid though and go into panic when he feels his brother needs our attention and we must pick up Ewan immediately.

Ewan found Alexei's Mickey Mouse Club quite entertaining. I must admit Michael has been taking care of everything Ewan. I think he is just totally attached and adores him like crazy. I have been with Alexei trying to soak up as much time with him as possible before they are to go back home for Halloween. I am going to need lots of photos. I so miss the pumpkin patch time with Alexei and the wheel barreling and trick or treating downtown Edmonds.

So far, I have been thinking of every food I can possibly think of back home. A couple here mentioned Starbucks, Outback and Bonefish and yet they are going back home tomorrow. Aargh lol. I was like thai food downtown Edmonds, Fish n Chips on the water watching the ferries, chinese food at PF Changs, gluten free cupcakes at Pink Bella at Alderwood Mall, Iced pumpkin Spice Latte, which will probably be Iced Soymilk Eggnog Latte by the time I return.

I hope this year though to take the boys to the Christmas celebrations downtown Bellevue, decorate for Christmas and get the house ready for the holidays and family coming in. I think I will just paint the pink out of the girls room and exchange it with another color to make a play room for the boys. They need as much storage as possible with their clothes and toys.

The boys, well I am not sure who is influencing who. I will say they are double trouble to the MAX and yet are only 3 days in. God help me Kristine if you are reading this, I will be turning to your pages daily HAHAHA. Boys are so much fun and I must say I am probably a good woman to have 2 boys but will they be hell on wheels 1 year apart in ages?! Sure Will!!!

Ewan does everything Alexei does and sadly Alexei does everything that Ewan does, which is not always the best case scenario Mr. Alexei Booth who should be the older influence.

This morning Alexei and I were dancing to MTV in the hotel room. Okay, so sometimes the songs are not as age appropriate as we would like but at this point I have learned it just can't be helped as exposure is everywhere. BUT, LMFAO's "I'm Sexy and I Know It" came on and as we all know Alexei loves this band. Next thing I know, he is running down the hall saying,

"I'm sexy and I know it....I work out." LOL. If you know this song, then you know how hilarious this could be, yes, even from a 3 year old.

We took a very nice walk outside after a bit of snow, no sticking though but my boys are snow boys for sure. It is beautiful and crisp outside.

Friday, October 14, 2011

We Welcome Ewan Mikhailovich to the Booth Clan

After a very long day in court, in traffic and I mean like Los Angeles traffic, the type that makes you want to cry lol, we give a huge welcome to our new little man who will be joining our Clan:

Ewan Mikhailovich Booth

Photos will be coming as of October 25th.

There are many people to thank in the States, Canada and in Russia, however I am going to speak of those in Russia tonight since we just finalized court and we got through just as they said we would.

Thank you to Anya and Irina. Thank you both and all of the hands that went into making this possible in Russia. You all are like family from the first time and have given us not one but two beautiful boys that we cannot be more thankful for.

Irina, during court took my Alexei out shopping, trying on hats you name it and he loved it.

Anya, I feel like that traffic was going to take eternity. I know you spend your days running around Vladivostok like it is nothing but we are eternally grateful to you and everything you have done for us. We just adore you and so does Alexei ;)

I am so utterly exhausted from not sleeping the past two days that I must make this short, I will update more this weekend.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Court Day

It is funny but the first time we had court, I was not nervous, this time around I have been sitting, just wanting to get this over with and done with right now. Why do I have to sleep in between now and court? lol.

I suppose it has been everything that has led us to this day. Today I spent having to re-do our court photo album. I had to tear all of our little girl's photos out and paste on new photos I had the hotel print up over our little boy. There is no doubt this road has been quite the journey. We are really tired emotionally I think and now that we are to the court day, it is like aahhhhh, let's get this done with.

Sadly, I hoped to connect with both of our families prior to court, however that did not happen due to the time zone.

I guess it will not be for a couple of days since we will not get back early tomorrow.

Celebratory dinner: Well hoping hehe. Do not want to jinx anything.

I have been bribing Alexei like crazy to be good outside of the court room. He is pleading with me to be with us and the judge and has flipped out about not being in the same room. Transitioning galore. We will see what happens. Sorry Irena ahead of time. :)

After court, I still have another almost 3 weeks left and then back home to settle in and I do look forward to seeing my doggies and my son and husband again. Being away from Alexei for 2 weeks is making my stomach turn. At least I will have some bonding time with my son. Juliya, our babysitter will come and rescue me the last week and help me get home on the total traveling time of 18 hours, which is completely over night for us and we will arrive in Seattle at noonish on November 2nd. I think I will have been up for over 24 hours, god help me. THANK GOODNESS for help as we will not have a layover in Seoul. Looking forward to being able to simply go to the bathroom on the plane lol. Sounds crazy but could never figure out what to do with Alexei, put him in the sink?!

Hopefully by tomorrow, I will have good news to announce.

Sleep, sleep, sleep, ugh. Sleep.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Good News

Michael returned from the baby hospital and said today Ewan ran down the hall and said Papa and pointed to Michael's chest. This is huge!!

He proceeded to say Papa a couple more times pushing his finger into Michael's chest. We are very thankful for this and so love the attachment. Crossing our fingers everything will go smoothly.

Mulling over Adoption and Loss- A Personal Story from my Son

I was saving this story for when we came back home with our little girl: Alexei and I were sitting on a chair looking at baby home #3's children. I was scrolling down the photos. Our first girl referral was on the wall. Alexei didn't think that was his sister. As we went through the photos, Alexei stopped me and yelled, "That's my sister!" and I said "Who? Her?" pointing at the referral we didn't know we were about to receive once we arrive in Russia after losing our first girl. I said to Alexei, "No, that is not your sister", pointing to the wall at our first girl. He was very serious and said, "No, that is my sister!" Pointing to a photo online at a girl.

When we arrived in Russia after a very difficult week trying to get there, we found out we lost our first girl. We were sent a new girl and guess who that girl was? The girl Alexei pointed out as his sister. My mouth dropped and I just sat there staring at this girl with tears in my eyes. I said to Michael who knew the story, "That's the same girl Alexei chose out of all of those photos!" He said to me, "I know, it was meant to be".

Those who heard this story often said to me, "See, it was meant to be. It's fate." I was waiting to tell this story because I knew it would give her away possible for those who know how to get there.

The truth is, it wasn't meant to be. Although my son chose our next referral before we knew, she wasn't meant to be his sister. Now, having said this, he is still head strong on this girl. In fact, he hugged her when he met her without our prompting. I look at the video of them together and it seemed so natural. She just loved him for some reason and he loved her. I go into tears as I write this as my son is still so attached for some reason to this girl who has been taken away from us and yet he thought he knew all along and still does that this is his sister.

When I was passing through videos the other day, he caught a glimpse of the video with he and this girl and he yelled out, "I want her! This one!"

People say fate brought you to this new little boy and I say, fate has a sick way of bringing us to things. I am not happy with fate right now. Maybe a year to come but this little girl will never leave our hearts and obviously my son's heart who chose her long before we knew her.


Part 2:

We do not have a huge amount of downtime just yet and we will be adjusting to transitions in no time.

I have been thinking of our little girls room as I know it is something I must face when I return home so that I can have it ready for our little boy, Ewan.

9 pairs of shoes, raincoats, sweater dresses, like 10 pairs of girlie pants and jeans, ruffled skirts, several onesies, beautiful dresses (quite a few), hair bands, clips, lots of pink stuffed animals, pink Paris bedding, pink and black walls with pale green, princess books lining the shelves, princess and Alice framed Disney lithographs on the walls, our first pink converse for her, tights, girlie socks, knitted girlie flower hats and do I go on?

All I can say is wow, that girl was set and we hadn't even had the baby shower in California yet.

Thank goodness for hand me downs, although lol that will be another few months before he will be in those. Super hero shirts here we come. He may be stuck with pink stuffed animals though. The rest will have to be boxed and stored some where. I hope to one day have the boys share a room and maybe turn the current room into a play room.

Tough to figure it all out. I guess the hurdle is, get through it, do it and move forward, which is our goal. My parents will be flying in to help with the changes and we will figure out what we can do. I may just take the pink out of the walls.

I often walk around with a lump in my throat and imagine this is normal and expected. Michael has on display her teddy bear in our room from Korea. It is a beautiful teddy bear we got her before our first trip. It is hard to see but this is how he copes.

I guess I wish at times she was not so attached. She wasn't so huggy. She would've just been eh, okay you guys are here again to see me. Alas she was all of the opposite. A bright, cheery girl who smiled all of the time, in every photo and on every video. She hugged us all of the time. Even when they told Michael, she is not used to men, she may be scared, she just jumped into his arms like it was nothing. She was just soooo incredible. I know fate has it's ways but put me in a boxing ring with fate for a bit because honestly the road is often just too bumpy and I know many of you mothers out there, no matter what you have experienced with loss, know what I am saying.

Adoptive parents and often birth parents have so much to go through. Miscarriages, stillborns, loss that is so great that it is unimaginable to have to go through it often multiple times. We didn't get here easily, we got here because we went through so much loss, we chose adoption.

Today my son asked me, "Where is Papa?" And I said, "Papa is visiting your brother." And Alexei asked, "When will he visit my sister?" Here we are a week or so later and my son is still fighting the loss. At 3 he knows so much and yet at 2 he remembers and knows so much even where he came from, his baby home and Russia. We often think oh, they will not remember such things but it is what happens now that often shows how we deal with things down the road.

I know Alexei will eventually love his little brother but for now he will fight us I think until I bring Ewan home and he sees him at his house and the advantages of having a brother.

All of these things in adoption are so great, extremely trying and you just keep chugging along. I cannot be more grateful to have Alexei and know how many families out there have been created by adoption. The happiness in the long run brings all of these trials worth it. Our little girls will be in our hearts forever. The first one we connected with for 5 weeks through a simple photo and the second girl who we deeply attached too.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Vlad Family Network & Special People: Thank You

Friends are at times the most surprising and most incredible people. I have to give a shout out to my Orphans at Play Biz Partners, Sabrina and Heather. Thank you girls SO much for helping out and trying to get a box here to me for our new little one with clothes and odds and ends.

Sometimes words just do not express the emotions one feels when something so deep happens to a fellow girlfriend and family and yet it is those people who step up and say, "I am there". I have ..... well honestly I am at a loss for words.

Ashley, thank you for waiting for the box and offering anything you can to bring us. So much appreciated.

And a big shout out to all of my fellow adoptive parents who have been there talking to me and keeping my chin up when I felt like things were just falling apart.

Dianna, my love you make me smile. Jennifer, my online girlie, you keep me talking, Sabrina, you keep me honest about what is going on inside, Heather O for being there and lending your support, Stella, you make me laugh and keep my hopes up, Vanessa, you protect my family at home and make me feel okay, Patricia Mc, I know you are always there feeling me, Patricia L, I love the way you push answers get me fiery ;), Kristine, Well you've been there since the beginning of our journey along with the core Marie, Tanya and Patricia who have kept me strong, Amy, you are a bright light of hope and strength, Amy R, always there with a smile and giving kind words, Heather E for your wisdom, Shari, Kelley and Jody for your kindness, April for your feisty keeping me on my toes girlie, Joel and Clarion for sharing your journey and wisdom, Sandy, for your persistent hang in there, Sherry for being so kind with your words and giving us hope, Tracy, it was a pleasure and your warmth was well appreciated, Trisha, your stories and well wishes, Laura, in being along similar roads and sharing our experiences, Christi and Tom, my second family and partners in the journey, Shonna, my rock, Cristine, always there with words of wisdome, Steve and Pamela, partners in adoption, Kristeen, always there to make me laugh, Kristine, although we came back to Russia, I have enjoyed our conversations and simply the world of adoption, gosh and so many more, if I left out anyone, I didn't mean to as you all mean the world to me.

Vladivostok Second Family: The extension in our adoption, the one's who make it happen in country are so often the one's running around working their hardest to do what we need done in order to build our family and bring a child home. Anya, Irena and Stass. It is simple: You are forever a connection to our children and to our lives. You all make this possible and get us through even the hardest of times.

PFA: For launching us into this journey and CSHW for the constant patience through all of the changes.

Family at Home: The parents are a huge one. They are the one we call late at night or early in the morning when we do not know who else to call. They are the one's who must listen. Brothers and Sisters, you all know who you are. A leaning shoulder when times are tough.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Wonderful People We Meet In Vladivostok

I cannot ever say enough that we meet the most interesting people while going through our adoption at the Vlad Inn. That's a big part of staying at this hotel is being able to experience the process together to some degree. Nothing will be like our first adoption as that was basically making family members who will forever be in our life since we had to do it all together from traveling to court to waiting to bring our children into our lives to learning how to transition into being a family and bringing them home. The Wallace Family is forever in our hearts and a part of our forever family.

The people we meet along the way also provide such a comfort during the days where there is a lull or we are just too exhausted to make it back to our room and figure out what to do next.

One couple T and J left us with Animal Cookies and Goldfish. Thank you! It is the support whether small or great, even the simplest of words that get us by in times of need.

Adoption as most know is a HUGE amount of work with a big reward in the end but it is really an emotional journey where exhaustive days are just the beginning to a long road of parenting. The parenting part is awesome even on its trying days but let's face it, specifically for us, a long journey of much needed caffeine and lack of sleep since we have one child with sleep disorders we hope he will grow out of one day.

No matter what the journey, for those who are taken to the Vlad Inn, there will always be a memory of those you meet along the way and those who you make long life connections with, funny enough even if just through a 5 minute conversation.

I will soon be alone and when I am I will be grateful for any type of help, words or support at the ol' Vlad Inn.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Autumn in Vladivostok

The Autumn colors are incredible as we walk around the hotel while leaves fall upon us. Reddish, goldish and brown leaves hang over the walkways. Quite a sight. I have only been in Vladivostok during Spring 2x and Summer.

It is not as cold though as it is at home so far. I know I see people walking around dressed very warmly but as I walked around today I found it warm and had my flip flops on. I think people thought I was crazy. Having said this, the cooler temperatures can change over night.

Alexei enjoyed cheese like puffs shared by our coordinator's daughter who he is oddly shy around for being a girl. Lately he takes off after the girls. We had a quiet tea and lunch today after following my sister's departure. Michael and I tried to work a bit while Alexei played with a funny Russian boy who thought Alexei was very quite humorous. Then he said "paka paka" and left with his mother.

The airforce planes have been going over all day long since early this morning. They are a sight to see as they fly over head. It is now sunset and I am watching Handy Manny with Alexei, my choice of course since I would probably have to watch Spider Man or Sponge Bob, which has been going non stop recently. Sponge Bob in Russian though is pretty darn cool.

I sit here enjoying a cup of tea and think about how I might be here for another 28 days. It is a long time to be away from home and I will be missing my Halloween celebrations. I hope Alexei has some serious fun during Halloween. Cannot wait to see pictures. Michael is going to take him to his work party as well.

As I watched the two boys play today I realized how great it will be for Alexei to not only have a sibling but a brother.

Last night was super difficult, lots of tears and frustrations over our loss of what was to be our little girl. I suppose there will be some sadness here and there for a while longer. I am not looking forward yet to heading home to see the beautiful girls' room we all created or all of the clothes we have had for her.

Tomorrow we visit the new little boy we have been spending a great deal of time with. He adores my husband Michael. Pulls at his hair, hugs him and laughs hysterically. The boy can be clown yet very smart about getting what he wants. Super stubborn, hehe. Brown hair, brown eyes, olive skin, lots of smiles and seems to love to play cat and mouse by running and looking back to see if we are following.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Part 2 Photos




Photos of Trip So Far




Drinking Tea at the Vlad Inn & Thoughts

Familiar Faces through the years... The one comforting aspect of an adoption in Vladivostok, Russia is the familiarity. Although our adoption process has been rocky, I still stand by the people who have been helping us throughout. There is a special place for each person who has helped us take one more step in this journey.

To us they are family as they have given us more than we could ever have asked for with Alexei, a trooper in this trip to Russia. A typical three year old but asked to do so much from meeting his potential sister to his new brother to returning to his baby home and saying hello to everyone so politely.

He calls it "his old home" and I love how much he takes pride in Russia, whether it be yelling it from the tarmac "Back in Russia" or mentioning Russia every where we seem to go here. He was incredibly excited even to see the monument up top the hill in Vladivstok. For a three year old he just puts me in awe each day.

Even when it comes to him chasing after each girl. Oh dear, these boys are going to do a number on us lol.
He saw another girl today and ran after her down the Vlad Inn path to the park. When it comes to a boy, he stops, looks at them and stares at them cautiously lol.

I have also come to meet such incredible families once again at the Vlad Inn who are also going through the process.

Thank you Shelly for your incredibly kind message. It was wonderful meeting you today and I have to admit, you are in the most incredible hands here. One of my favorite people here to have on your side.

Let's see what another day brings us!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Day with My Son Alexei in the Park We Played in 2 Years Ago

Alexei and I were able to have a few hours alone today. We decided on this chilly October day to set out to the park behind the Vlad Motor Inn. I watched him as he ran around the tennis court, went down the new tube slide and said hello to a pigeon. I couldn't help but think about how small he was when we first came to this park together. The waddling 15 month old, so tiny and yet ran around in slower fashion.

Today we spent time in the lobby while he stood with the hotel clown and she blew up balloons for him. Incredibly wonderful to see how well he does with all of the other children who speak Russian. He seems to enjoy playing with the children, running around together and laughing. I stand in awe at the strength he has had and the light emotions he has shown in returning to Russia. When we landed with Korean Air, he yelled "Back to Russia!" I cannot even imagine what people thought as his excitement was clearly shown in his loud voice, hands on the airplane window and huge smile.

He has also declared his love loudly for two girls. "I love her!" "I love her!" He yells. Oh boy, to have two boys who charm the pants off these girls.

Customs Experience: So, we are in line waiting to go through customs. We are next and Alexei has been pretty patient. DEAR LORD, you will not believe what he said and did: Long Lines, Sister in front of us waiting for the customs agent to return her passport, suddenly Alexei says, "Hey Sweetheart, we've been waiting long enough, it's our turn." THANK GOODNESS he is 3 years old. That is the only way we were able to get away with that. Whew.

From the moment I first met my son, I felt this instant connection and here we are back in Russia after 2 years of being together. He is my everything and the alone time is certainly cherished even when we sit together and converse at the table over lunch about Sponge Bob.

I often whisper when we are running around in his ears, "I love you" in Russian and he says it back quietly. There is nothing quite like the mother and son bond. I will say today, he answered the coordinator when she asked if he wanted to go meet his brother, he said, "My sister". He is still trying to figure things out since he met the girl we thought to be his sister and he became hooked. I show him video of his new brother and I think about the potential of me raising two sons. A funny thought really. Hockey, tennis, I suppose our house is ready for sure. Double the Trouble I say.

Alexei has waited months thinking we are bringing home his sister so this should be really interesting as to whether we are able to bring home a brother or if I am going to have to explain to him we are going home without his brother or sister. Aye, aye, aye is all I can say. I am so hoping to not have this conversation with him if we have to leave without.

It surely is a beautiful sunny, chilly day in Vladivostok. Chilly 37 in the evening and 55 during the day.

Adoption Update: Court on Hold

I know there are many waiting to read an update on our adoption journey.

We arrived safely in Vladivostok, happily at the Vlad Motor Inn. Korea was very nice and they have renovated the transit hotel with flat screen televisions, new beds, new showers/tubs, very nice.

It was very warm and humid the first couple of days in Vladivostok and now it is around 37 at night and 60 during the day. The leaves are falling and the autumn chill is in the air.

I unpacked all of our clothes including our daughter's clothes and put out her first outfit, a very cute blue ruffly skirt, black polka dot tights, white shoes, black long sleeve shirt and sweater with matching knit hat.

We went to visit our daughter to be the first 2 days where we saw other children playing and took our son back to his baby home. He enjoyed it very much. He said hello to everyone, shook their hands and played with the toys. He said to my sister later that he had visited his old home. He was very happy with his sister. He gave her big hugs and she was all over him, just about chasing him down.

The day before court, we said our paka paka's to our daughter to be, she hugged us like crazy that day and reached out for us. She had become so attached giggling and wanting up over and over. I was so happy with our daughter to be. She was sweet, smiling all of the time and was just a wonderful little girl. We had gone shopping for baby food, drinks and diapers and then back to the hotel to rest.

The day before court I never thought life would change once again for us. My sister and I had taken Alexei out for a walk around the hotel getting some fresh air. As I turned the corner, I saw our coordinator standing with my husband at the back door waving me over. I knew at that moment something was incredibly wrong.

Indeed the information was not good. We had lost our daughter to be at the very last moment, the ever so feared witching hour. A relative had come forth, however not guaranteed but put a stop to us getting to bring our little girl into our family. The bonding, the hugs, the smiles and the thoughts were all lost to one fact "I would never see her again".

I suppose it was the last line, "I would never see her again" that made my heart sink. It was broken. My husband took it hardest on the first day and I stayed strong trying to figure out what was next for us. The second day I was not great but things were moving fast and I had to keep up. We were already seeing a new referral of a little boy. A little boy who reminded me of our own son just with brown hair, brown eyes and olive skin.

So here I was realizing that everyone back home, our parents, family, friends all wanted to know what happened and I couldn't even bring the words out to tell them what or how I truly felt. I think as most who knew here were left speechless. This is how I feel.

I would walk into our bedroom and want to walk back out seeing the girls clothing, the first outfit, the 3 little pairs of shoes and the small knit hats. Then I would think of the little girl room we all created and what was waiting for her. It felt like a huge weight pulling down inside my chest and my stomach, like a sudden, great loss.

My son who had met his sister was so excited to see her again and I wasn't even sure how to tell him he didn't have a sister anymore, now a brother. He did not accept it until late today when he finally said "okay".

We know not of what will happen in the next few days. We have spent time with a little boy, given him a name and hope that everything will turn out successful. Honestly, I fear the outcome as I am not sure it will all work out but hope fate will come through the way it is supposed to for us.

I cannot put in words the loss we feel and yet the hope we have that things will come out the way we need them too. Either way, we hold tight that Alexei will be able to bring home that sibling he has so been waiting to come to Russia for.