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.


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!