Wednesday, August 24, 2011

GOTCHA DAY! 2 Years to the day. August 24th, 2009.

Mama, I'm not a baby, I'm a boy!

Yep, you sure are a boy Alexei. 2 years ago we rushed to baby home #3. I still remember your Papa coming out of the store with 2 cakes, one in each hand. Then off to sign the last bit of our paper work at the Social Worker's office and one last drive to the baby home to pick you up.

They brought you out in an orange and white jumper with 2 goldfish crackers that you held so tightly in your little hand. You cried (they brought you from lunch) and we dressed you quickly, left and drove back to the Vlad Inn where you stood in front of us with your first pair of blue jeans and a black short sleeve T-shirt over a white long sleeve that said "Mama's Love Me". You looked up at us, wanted to be held and kept us close to you at all times.

You were so small, only a 9 month size in clothing but you sure had no problem putting your first pair of converse on and running up and down the halls with me. The first day of the rest of our lives with this little blonde, blue eyed cutie. Little did we know at the time your personality was going to blossom into what seems like a daily theater production starring you, Logan Alexei Booth.

2 years ago today we brought you into our lives and today we wait for the call for a court date to bring home your sister.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Update on Our Winter Jackets n' Hats Drive

Have an ol' piece of luggage laying around? Donate it to Orphans at Play Winter Jackets n' Hats Drive and give those traveling with donations a good opportunity for an easy delivery to children in need. If you happen to be traveling soon, why not fill an ol' piece of luggage with jackets n hats for a baby home, baby hospital or orphanage. The winter months are ahead and brrr... with cool, often snowy months on average 7f -14c degrees in Vladivostok, a warm hat or cozy jacket becomes a necessity.

Children in Vladivostok have incredibly warm hearts and the sweetest smiles. We want to do everything we can to comfort them while they wait for loving families to take them home. Please help us give back as so many of us have clothes too small for our children laying around in a closet. Or if you have the talent to knit, think of all of the children who will smile as they are given a handmade hat made just for them.

We have reached out across the country and the following people have volunteered their time and efforts for collection. If you are near by one of these areas, contact the person below.
The following contacts are available for area drop off locations:

Jody in Greenville, Ohio
Autumn in Denair, California
Lilian in Gaithersburg, Maryland
Meredith in Cleveland, Ohio
Melissa in Alabama
Christen in Elmhurst, Illinois
Sabrina in Florida
HunterAnn in Seattle, Washington

If you prefer to send the items, please contact Jody .

Image provided by:

Image: Simon Howden /

Thursday, August 18, 2011

By Request

Hello Guys,

I am not someone to post a lot about our children until they are in our arms, however here are tiny deets as requested by a few:

- 16 months old

- Girl

- A little over 2.5 feet

- American Sizing Average for Head

- 23lbs American Sizing Average for Weight

She does not really have hair so I cannot say. Looks to be possible dark blonde, light brown. Grayish/blue eyes. Huge Smile. Just barely stops smiling, babbling lots, walks with us with just one of our fingers and loves to pull all of my jewelry already and play with her shoes.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Let's Reach Our Goal of 100 Tubes of Diaper Cream This August

Help Orphans at Play reach our goal of 100 diaper cream tubes to be taken to Vladivostok within the next 4 weeks. We are currently at around 75 tubes. Let's see if we can get at least 25 more tubes before the end of August!

A big thank you to those who are donating and those who are traveling to get these tubes to the baby homes in need. For those who are waiting for a list of requests from the baby homes, we are working on this and have received great feedback so far. Stay tuned for a list we will be posting soon.

Any questions, please contact Jody

Borscht борщ

Growing up my grandmother did not cook too often due to her schedule, however Borscht was always a tradition and I remember it well. I can still remember my grandmother standing over by the stove with my mother and both of them working on dinner. I remember the bowls filled with a dark purple soup and a spoonful of sour cream on the top. My grandmother's borscht was a tad sweet, much like taking a bite out of a beet, strong and sweet with a touch of sour from the cream, which I liked to stir into the soup.

When Michael and I were in Vladivostok this past May, our wonderful coordinator Anya took us to a lunch downtown and I have to say it was probably one of the best Borscht soups I have ever had. Unlike my grandmother's, which I loved too, this was very light and with plenty of lemon. I probably could have eaten it every day lol much like I have done with the French Onion soup at the Vlad Motor Inn.

Both soups are so good, however this late summer when the days have been in the 70's (I know backeasters and southern cali's, that really isn't considered hot) I am craving a lighter and cooler type of dinner and with wanting to pass down traditions within our family, I have decided to make this cold borscht recipe and share it with any of you interested in trying something new. It does not have it in this recipe, however I am not big on the sliced egg and probably would prefer the sour cream. Since I am non dairy now, I will skip the sour cream but highly recommend it.

Cold Borscht Recipe

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Gazing out the window thinking about how quickly our lives change

A blink of an eye. Sure becoming a parent was super difficult but now I can barely think about when we didn't have Alexei. It feels like he has been here for so long with us, although just curbing around Gotcha day coming up in a week to make our family anniversary 2 years.

As I gaze out the bay window of my living room hearing the kids play down the street watching the breeze through the trees I sit and think about how quickly our life changes. Recently, both sides of our family have undergone incredibly heart breaking issues still struggling with trying to make it through each of them and yet this comes at one of our most anticipated moments in our life when we bring home a grandchild.

A strange twist of fate as my husband says optimistically, "this is what fate has in store." Sometimes, I wish I could use fate as a punching bag every once in awhile. Michael's parents, my second parents, people who have been there for us like, well parents. If it wasn't for them, we would not have Alexei. Their support is the type of support I want to be for my children the rest of my life. People you can look up to, people who are kind, fair and most of all, in difficult times, our greatest support.

Michael's father is in the hospital, has been for 3 weeks I guess now. I sigh heavily even writing this as I just feel so much for what they both are going through. Although we all follow it each day, there is a complete admiration I have for his mother. She gives her everything to him as she said in an e-mail and she does. She goes to the hospital every day and stays hours, breaks and comes back for hours while holding up the house, dog, her rental properties and grandchildren in Toronto.

She has been with him since out of high school and they pushed together through life's greatest challenges, warmest moments and share incredible memories. I sit here hoping that this is in store for Michael and I and that we can be that couple decades later getting through each day and making the most of each hour.

As the hospital prepares him for open heart surgery, we wait for good news, we wait to hear grandpa will be home and on skype in a few weeks. Grandpa is Alexei's second man to Michael. He loves grandpa. Talks about him all the time and my heart gets all weak having to explain that grandpa is not feeling well but soon you can see him on the computer, I say.

I write this full of emotions and who wouldn't feel those emotions. This year has been a serious test. Most who know me know that I have a huge heart, love for people and life, however it doesn't always show easily as my husband says to me two days ago while making the bed, "I should just face the fact I married a Russian woman." He smiled and I said what is meant by that? I know he is referring to me taking after my grandmother, our strength is on the outside as well as on the inside but we carry heavy hearts.
[On the surface he probably also meant that although he just tore into his nail and it hurt like hell, I said "come on, pull up the blanket" and he said, he hurt himself and I said, "you will be fine, let's go, get the comforter up". In my small defense, it was midnight and he was taking forever ;) lol]

Michael got me a necklace I refuse to take off and it is a lion carrying his heart on his back, a 19th century stamp. I suppose I use writing as a way to express what lies inside my heart.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

First Annual Winter Jackets & Hats Drive

The fresh scent of fall is soon to be in the air when children are in need of extra clothing for the upcoming cooler seasons. Volunteer needs are at an all time high, lend a helping hand and support Orphans at Play for their first Helping Hands Winter Jackets & Hats Clothing Drive. We are hoping to reach those who would like to help and those who are traveling soon to the Vladivostok region within the next month or two and can take an old piece of luggage full of clothes and supplies or simply save a little room when packing for a few jackets or hats.

We are looking for jackets for small children up to 16 years of age and winter hats of any kind to help keep these children warm. If you are traveling, we recommend the use of vacuum bags as they work very well in suitcases and saves plenty of room.

Contact the director Jody Garber of the Helping Hands project at Orphans At Play where we hope to have several volunteers from across the world to help us give back to Vladivostok and the children in need of warmth in the coming seasons.

Courtesy of Jody Garber

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Vladivostok Motor Inn- It's a Small World

A simple, "Out of Order" sign on a dryer becomes a connection. Too funny.

It is a small world when months later after a trip to Russia we meet people who were residing in the the same Vlad Motor Inn. Not only do we meet them online, we find we will be working with them on the same passionate goals to help these children we left behind.

It is hilarious too when they mention they may have seen you in the breakfast nook. This made my day as I thought wow, the hotel is really quiet and there are really no other parents around and yet here we were all catching glimpses of one another.

I consider myself extremely social and will walk up to people I do not know and introduce myself, even when two people are eating breakfast in a small motor inn, most likely taking in the atmosphere and what they are going through emotionally. Haha, Stella! You were one I found.

Yes, I like to connect, share and smile at those who may be going through the same things my husband and I are working through and experiencing. Through these introductions, I have found either life long friends, those who I will remember forever and those who became family because we were brought together to sit and wait during the last bit of labor pains bringing our children back to our room and being their mom or dad for the very first time.

I will NEVER forget my girlfriend who is like my sister now who I sat and watched her nervously for hours! Yes, hours as she waited and waited to go pick up her children. Her face, her excitement, her nerves and her need to have the coordinator bring back our husbands so she could share these moments with him.

Life is insane when you think about the thousands of miles we travel only to find those who will be in our life or a passerby or someone who has touched us and our memories forever.

In short, if you see me, say hello as I will most likely have a smile on my face thousands of miles from home ;)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

56 Item To Do List

I decided to type out my list recently and put it up on the cork board. Well, it is 5 pages long lol. I keep adding to it each day so the list is now up to 56 items I need to complete before travel.

Tall order? Well, I like challenges or at least life says I should ;)

No word yet on court dates. We will be entering the 3.5 month range from when we first saw our little girl but then August is a popular month for vacations. Our last court date was August 20th from 2 years ago. There are lots of families traveling in the next few weeks so good luck to all of you!!! You all are in our thoughts. :)

I hope by September we have a court date so we can beat the deadline for having to re-do all of our medicals. Eeks, the expense for re-doing all of the medicals in the United States can range a couple of thousand dollars. Cross your fingers everyone! With the new requirements, lab work and chest x-ray, the costs go way up when insurance is cut out for having us do it the second time around. The notary at the doctors took me a few calls to the agency and another couple of hundred dollars and almost 2.5 hours! LOL, I laugh now but that day was stressful! Whew.

I am going to use this time wisely and start cutting the numbers down on my to do list. Oh, I need to make a packing list still ..... 57 ....... hahahahaha.

The process may be crazy but it sure is fun to go through a second time now that I know what to expect, I find humor in everything we do.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Helping Hands Program is requesting Diaper Cream Donations

Orphans at Play
Helping Hands

Orphanages have limited funding by the government to provide meals and basic care. There are consistent requests and needs on a daily basis to give these children comfort and care with simple items:

* diapers
* rash ointment
* clothes

Any families traveling soon that can take a large shipment of Desitin (or other brands) for us? I currently have 27 tubes sitting here that need to go and am expecting about that many more to show up at my house in the next few days. I can supply a small suitcase to carry it if anyone would be willing to lug yet another bag with them!
Please contact Jody Garber Jody

Friday, August 5, 2011

Short Post: My Toddler Packing for Russia

Hilarious, as we have already experienced Alexei going to the door with his luggage in hand saying, "Let's go to Russia now". I tell him over and over, "We must wait for the call. They will call us on the phone," and I show him the phone.

So today I went to his closet where both of his little luggage pieces are and found them totally packed. YUP! One person has packed in this household for Russia. HAHA. I love this boy. He just makes me laugh sometimes.

I sat down with him while making my lists and said, "Okay, Alexei what would you like to bring to Russia?" He says as he holds out his fingers, pulling down on each one,
"I waaant to bring...(pause).....(rolls out quickly)
Buzz, Woody, Monkey and I want to watch Toy Story, Buzz 2, Stitch, Buzz 3, Harry Potter, Monster House, oh and lots of Mickey Mouse, I need Mickey Mouse annnnnnd Lion King, the funny one, crappy Grinch (the Jim Carrey one, ugh), Monsters, oh and Bob Sponge." Yes, that is backwards to Alexei.

I love my one on one mother/son time, cherish it lots but I sure cannot wait what the little girl's twist will be on our life. Should be entertaining for sure. :)

Orphans At Play

Orphans at Play-
Please visit our website and "like" our fan page on Facebook. We have many great things in store for this foundation and hope to make a difference in the lives of children in Russia and children who are transitioning to America with their new adoptive families.

orphans at play

Welcome to Orphans at Play

Adoption brought us together as we embarked on the road to Vladivostok, Russia through a journey visiting several baby homes, baby hospitals and orphanages in the region. In bringing home our own children we suddenly had to play catch up as our children were behind physically and developmentally. We found there is one common theme among our conversations: the children had limited stimulation before coming into their families. Many children without early attachment and bonding may experience reactive attachment disorder, sensory integration concerns and hyperactivity just to name a few. Through research, Orphans at Play has the opportunity to bring the latest in current development and create solutions to support the children in the baby hospitals, orphanages and those in transition to their new families.

Children in these homes often miss out on simple pleasures and needs we take for granted each day. We experienced the joys of smiling and hugging our children who curiously looked into our eyes and reveled in watching them feel the grass under their feet for the first time. The sad truth is these children lose one month of develop for every three months of their life institutionalized. Our experiences have led us to a passion for helping the orphans we left behind, those greatly in need of simple items: clothing, diaper cream, daily stimulation and a good foundation in nutrition. We have teamed together and with your help will have a greater impact to fundraise and support our mission in the region.

Orphans at Play is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds for basic needs, accommodating requests from orphanages in the region and providing support for the grandma mentoring program. We believe strongly in the art of play and loving interaction with children in order to provide and strengthen the development in each child. Our goals include an opportunity to give each child hope and provide for future missions to directly impact orphans in need now.

Meet our officers:

Sabrina Dickenson: Founder and Executive Director
Heather Overstreet: Co-Founder and Operations Director
HunterAnn Booth: Co-Founder and Marketing & Communications Director
Jody Garber: Helping Hands Director
Melissa Bridges: Research and Development Director
Dr. Shelley Steenrod: Attachment and Programs Director

Lists, Lists, Lists

For the first trip to Russia, I had a list on the wall, type written 2 pages long.

I am creating lists through out the day when something comes to my mind I write it down. I have realized that for the second, three week trip, I am thinking the lists will be 3-4 pages long lol.

I highly suggest lists due to the amount of items you must complete from tourist or business visas, to doggie kennels, vet faxing in case of an emergency down to what to bring for the children. The pack list is 1 page in itself. And when it comes down to a possible 10 day to 3 week notice, we must be prepared to pick up and go.

Items like showing the house sitter around, buying those last minute travel necessities, having a copy of the dossier to take with me, lab reports, chest x-ray discs, emergency numbers, buying cat food, getting the little girl's room ready to sleep in when she returns and so much more. Time consuming so even if you haven't received the call yet, best to just plan on getting some of these done ahead of time since when the call does come in, you will be busy getting money exchanged, working on the visas and travel arrangements. All time consuming as well so setting priorities within time periods is the best way to go.

I did not realize this as much the first adoption and we had to run around with our heads cut off. Probably will end up doing it again anyways, lol.