Saturday, December 31, 2011

Day 22 & 23 -

Day 22 - Friday

We had our regular visits with the girls on Friday morning. Lindsay was super-wiggly today and was not interested in trying to sit still. Oh, how I wish we could just let her get down and play on the floor. She really needed to play and work out some of her extra energy. Trying to keep her occupied in such a small visiting area took some creative effort today.

Shawna is always her content little self. I was able to get her to stand up for about 5-10 minutes and give her legs a little bit of a workout.

I also took the chance to pull off their shoes and trace their feet so I can have a better idea of what size shoes to buy for them. Lindsay was wearing a different pair of shoes that were just of the edge of being too small. They were a size 22. Another day she was wearing some tennis shoes that were a size 5. Shawna's feet are almost the same size. I think I'm going to aim for a size 23 or size 6.

Stephanie and I are planning to go shopping at a local mall on Monday, in an attempt to find some shoes for all our girls, as well as looking for strollers.

Didn't get any good pictures today, so I'll have to get some more on Monday.

This evening, we decided to go up to Freedom Square with two other families and check out the Holiday Festival that they have up there. There were all kinds of carnival rides, a huge Christmas tree, stage and booths to buy toys and foods. A light snow had started falling about 5pm, and by the time we got to the square, it was really snowing. We had dinner nearby and by the time we came back outside, there was about 1.5-2 inches of snow! It was beautiful!!! I know our son will be envious!

Day 23 - New Year's Eve!

We plan to visit the girls mainly on weekdays, giving our driver the weekends off. With the holiday here, we decided to take a day and stay in. The snow was already beginning to melt when we awoke this morning and it was foggy. It was so pretty the night before. It just felt like a stay-at-home kind of day.  But we both really missed seeing the girls today.

By the way, the weather here has had us joking that we feel like home. In Texas we say, if you don't like the weather, just wait 5 minutes and it will change. Well, here you just have to go to bed, wake up and it will be different! We never know if we'll wake up to cold, very cold, foggy, sunny, windy, wet or dry, or some combination of the sort. The weather forecasts never seem to get it right here, either.

We had planned to meet our friends up at the Freedom Square again so we could watch the fireworks display for New Year's. We ventured out on the subway and made it there at 11:00pm. The fog had lifted a little bit, but before the fireworks started, the fog was returning. The display went on as planned, but even though we were standing on one end of the square, and fireworks were on the other end of the square, we could not see the big, pretty ones, up high. We could only see the fireworks that were lower to the ground. It was a shame, because they did it up big!

So, HAPPY NEW YEAR from Eastern Europe! We pray that the coming year will be filled with exciting and wonderful blessings for you and your family!

As we head off to bed, folks are shooting fireworks off all over town. With all the tall buildings, it echoes all over and sounds like a warzone out

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Day 21 - Fun times!

We had a great visit today! They both greeted us with smiles and giggles when we arrived. We had sunshine today, but chose to stay indoors so we didn't have to use the big green snowsuits again. :)

Lindsay was in an especially good mood today. She spent quite a bit of time in my arms as we danced to some music that was playing in the other room. Then I hummed some Disney songs and we danced a little more. She really liked it and she would rest her head on my shoulder at times. It was sweet!

I also brought a hand-held mirror with my today that I found in the apartment. She had a good time watching herself in the mirror while she was making babbling sounds. She liked to put her face close to the glass and fog the mirror and watch it disappear. I think this will make a good speech therapy tool...
Lindsay making faces in the mirror.

Shawna was her regular, sweet little self. They had changed her diaper right when we got there, and I was surprised that they didn't put the stockings back on her legs. Her little legs are so tiny and thin. We'll have to start some physical therapy when we get home to put some muscle on them and get her walking and running. She wasn't too interested in the mirror, but she enjoyed the bead necklace again.

Our visit seemed to pass quickly today.

We did have one fun highlight to the visit today. As we were visiting, Lee had Lindsay in his lap and I had Shawna in mine. Lee began singing an old church song, The Rock of My Soul "and the bosom of Abraham," with Lindsay. She was smiling and enjoying it. Well, there was another lady's voice that joined him in singing the song. Lee thought I was singing along and then he realized I wasn't. He looks around to see one of the nannies coming down the stairs with a child and she was the one singing along with him in Russian!!! She was smiling from ear to ear to be singing along with him!  I think Lee scored some points!  She's one of the really sweet nannies, too. We could tell that she really cares for the kids there.

It was a good day!

Paka, paka!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Day 20 - We had Sunshine,

But it was a little too windy to enjoy it with the kids. :(
A sunny day! Two churches we see from our apartment window.
We arrived today with a beautiful sunny day. We had Edward ask the nannies if we could take the girls outside for a ride in the strollers. After a bit of a discussion, they agreed that we could, but only for 30 minutes. We waited about 20 minutes, and one of the nannies came out to bundle the girls up in a couple of new, bright-neon-green, sub-arctic snow suits. Then add the hats and boots. The thermometer on the car said it was 4C degrees outside (39.2F degrees). With your coat zipped up, it was actually a pretty, nice day outside.

Once the girls were bundled, we put on our own coats and headed outside. Lindsay started crying - a REAL cry, tears and all! That's the first time we've ever seen her cry. Even when she hit the back of her head on the little bench, she barely flinched. We knew something was up. We thought maybe she was upset and that it would remedy once we got outdoors. Well, no dice. She cried more, and the tears continued. So Lee picked her up and took her back to the room. They undressed her snow suit and adjusted the shoulder straps since they seemed tight. She settled down and Lee and Lindsay headed back outside. She began crying again.  We were at a loss. Something was obviously upsetting her. We all went back in again, and I removed the snow suit again and she started to calm down. It was off and she was still upset, so I was able to love on her and soothe her and she finally was back to her usual smiling self.  All we can think is that the suit was too restrictive or something. I know if I was in that whole get-up, I would have been clawing to get out of it, too!

While Lindsay was upset, Shawna didn't seem to mind the big green snowsuit, so we had stayed out a few minutes longer than Lee and Lindsay did. But the wind was strong from the North and made it feel much colder than it was. She also didn't seem too excited about the swing. So we headed back in and met up with Lee and Lindsay as they were coming back outside for the second time.

With all the commotion, we didn't get any pictures in the Incredible Hulk snow jackets.

So, our outside  adventure for the day kind of flopped. But it still worked out well. While we were playing inside, the other adopting family shared their markers and coloring book with Lindsay. She was scribbling on the paper with a yellow marker! So she does seem to have a concept for coloring. I was happy to see that.

Here's Lindsay cleaning the side of the lockers after we had used the wet wipe to clean the markers off her hands!

For some reason, most of the kids in the groupa house had to go for a brief visit to the orphanage doctor. The nannies took Shawna and a few others over to the doctors office and brought them back pretty quick. Not sure what that was all about. She seems fine and doesn't look to be getting sick at all. Maybe just a check-up. I don't know....

Here's another cute picture from Tuesday's visit. Shawna was standing for a few minutes!

Hope you have a wonderful day!
Paka, paka!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Day 18 & 19

It's way too late for my sleepy head, so I'll have to add pictures in the morning.... sorry.

Day 18 - Monday the 26th

Monday was a good visit again with Shawna and Lindsay! Lindsay is really becoming more and more responsive to Lee singing to her.

We're getting more and more giggles out of Shawna, too. She is incredibly ticklish!  So many times I'll just move my hand over her back or reach around her ribs to pick her up a bit, and she giggles because I've tickled her on accident. She has such a sweet, quiet little laugh!

Another adopting family has joined us here in the city. They are adopting from the same orphanage so we will be able to share the costs of the driver with them for most of the days we visit. We also get the chance to spend some time and make some new friends while we're our adventures here.

We were able to Skype back home and visit with all of our kids that way. We got to see them open Christmas presents at Grandma's house and that was special for us.

Still no official news on our court date. We'll let you know as soon as we find out.

Day 19 - Tuesday the 27th

Remember the movie Groundhog Day? I've read other families describe it, where you get into a new routine of life over here.

We get up each day, go visit the girls, we come back, find lunch, maybe venture out for dinner, stay up way too late watching Lost on the computer, and getting up and doing it all over again! But don't get me wrong... I'm not complaining one bit. We have a new temporary routine created, and it's kind of fun that it's one where we're together! At home we have our routines, but Lee goes to work, I stay home and homeschool, and we come back together for a little while in the evenings. Here, we're together the whole time. Now, maybe we are newlyweds once again, and maybe it will get old after 6 weeks, but we're having a great time! We miss our kids, A WHOLE LOT! But it's giving us a fun chance to hang out and do stuff together.... like getting totally sucked in to the prime time soap opera known as LOST. We have all the episodes on the laptop, so now we hurry home to watch and see what happens next! We've watched on full season in only a week! LOL!

Our visits today went well, as they usually do.  Our driver tried again to see if we might be able to take the kids over to a visiting area in the big building. But, it was not to be. We learned that it is under quarantine for chicken pox. One of our girls has had chicken pox, and the other has not. We agreed we'd much rather continue to make due in the little entry way than risk chicken pox.

If you think of us, please pray that there might be a little sunshine in our weather. If it is sunny, the nanny's are more willing to let us take the girls outside in the strollers. We'd love to get them out for some fresh air once in a while.

We spent our afternoon helping out again with the orphan ministry team. We plan to go back and help them again tomorrow.

Have a wonderful day!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Day 17 - Merry Christmas!

We hope that you and your family have a wonderful and blessed Christmas!

May we all remember the birth of our Savior and the gifts and blessings that God has given us in our lives.

Merry Christmas!
Lee and Carrie

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Day 16 - Merry Christmas Eve!

We began our day with a visit to Shawna and Lindsay today since it's Christmas Eve. It was cold outside and we spent the last portion of our visit in the entry area with the Italian family that is here, too. We had a fun time ending our visit singing Christmas carols in English and Italian! Lindsay sure loves it when Lee sings to her. She would get close and watch his face and listen as he sang.

We were also able to interest Lindsay in the doodle board for a little bit.

We'll be spending Christmas Day with some new friends here in the city. They are having a Christmas Service with a potluck lunch to follow. I'm planning to make deviled eggs to take for that. With a little help, I managed to find a good mayonnaise and mustard at the small grocery store around the corner.

We went this afternoon to a Christmas Eve service with Brenda and Willard and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The music was amazing and the message was timely. The music was in Russian and English selections, and even one song in French. The message was preached in English and translated into Russian. Pastor's message was on God's blessings and he used the text in 1 Chr 4:9-10 about Jabez. He spoke about living a life that sets the foundation for God's blessings.

We sure miss our kids back home, but we know that they are well cared for and that they are having a good time.  I would say that the hardest part of our trip is being away from from our other kids. We've lived internationally before, so we're not having much trouble with culture shock or adjusting to the different ways that things are done around here. Each of us are is trying to learn a new word or two each day.

I hope that we can catch up with all the kids tomorrow and Skype with them for a little while.

May everyone have a blessed Christmas this year!


Friday, December 23, 2011

Day 15 - A good day

We began our day with the usual routine... getting up and heading out to visit Shawna and Lindsay. We haven't had too much success with toys that have held their interest for very long. So I revisited the bag of toys I brought and found a little bag of necklaces. They're the ones that have little colored beads on a string and I got a bag of 8 for something like $1.00 at Wally World. I put that in my purse and a little doodle board and we set out.

We were greeted with smiles again! But just as soon as we sat down to visit, the lights went out. So I dug into my purse and found a little flashlight that I keep in there just in case...:)  Lindsay loved it! We had to keep her from looking directly into the light but she was so interested in it. About 10 minutes later, the lights came back on. She played with the light a little while longer. Our son LOVES all flashlights so I think these two will enjoy their common interest. Shawna even liked the flashlight, too!

So I turned to the next item in my bag of tricks, I brought out the package of necklaces. Well, to say they were a hit is a complete understatement! They ROCKED!  I gave each of them 2 to play with. Lindsay wanted them all. So I gave her the others. She would hold them and shake them. She would drop them and pick them up and rattle them in the chair! She loved it!  She stood up on her feet for almost the entire 1hr 45 minutes of our visit! This from the little one whose attention doesn't last for more than several minutes on something.

Shawna had two and she was completely content to play with those. She would hold one between both hands and stretch it across her face. She'd hold it up over her head. She would run the beads back and forth across her lips.... This is seriously the absolute MOST I have seen her interact with a single toy since we've been here. She was mesmerized. I was amazed as I watched her lift her arms over her head. She held her arms up and out so she could watch the beads drop and then pull the string tight. She moved her arms back and forth as she moved the beads across her lips. I haven't seen her move this much! WOW! And she did this for the entire visit too! She even babbled a few happy sounds!

Afterward we had planned to go to McDonald's for lunch and make a trip to the grocery store. We didn't go as soon as we planned and we actually kind of dilly-dallied around the apartment before we left. We walked over planning to stop at a coffee shop to drop off some things for a friend. We changed our plan and decided to stop and eat first. It was super-crowded because there was a circus going on this weekend. We couldn't find a table and one large section was reserved for a large group. So we decided to stand near the door and just eat fast and head out.

About that time a new friend of ours calls our name. There's Brenda! She's with the group that has all the tables reserved! So we got to sit down and eat. She tells us that they are waiting on a group of kids from an orphanage that will be there. The kids were over at the circus and would be here any minute.  This group will do some games, puppet skits, tell them about the Christmas story and will provide each of the kids with a Happy Meal before they board a bus and return to the orphanage. They have been doing this outreach for a few years now. We were invited to hang out and help with serving food. What a treat for us! It was a real blessing! Looking back at our day, it was obvious that this was a divine appointment to be there unexpectedly at the right time and place! God is Good!
Ministry team at McDonald's

Afterward, we left with full stomachs and full hearts! They will be doing outreaches on 3 or 4 other days later this week. We offered to be available to help again. We can't speak Russian, but we can be hands to help serve. We committed to pray for their efforts this week and to pray for open doors that will allow them to minister to many more orphaned children here.

After we arrived home, we got a call from our attorney. She told us that her news was not so good. The local court called her and told her that we will not have an appointment for a court hearing before January 10th. Bummer! She will visit the court on Monday and try to get us a set appointment for a hearing on the 10th. She will also ask about the possibility of a date sooner, but there are no promises.

Will you join us in prayer that she will find favor with the judge? Maybe we can have a court date in the week between New Year and Orthodox Christmas. If not, it will set the return date we had hoped for back by a week to ten days. Nothing monumental, but we miss our kids and we want to bring all our family back together as soon as possible.

We discussed and looked at the possibility of flying home for a week or so and returning for court. But it works out less expensive to stay here and wait it out for the extra days. And we'll have more time to visit with Shawna and Lindsay, too.

If it doesn't work out for an earlier date, we're ok with it. A little bummed, but maybe God has some other special opportunities for us while we're here wating!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day 14 - It snowed!

Well, it finally snowed today!!! We woke up to a dusty snow falling over the city and left it's mark mostly on cars, tree limbs and grass. But the roads and sidewalks remained wet. It didn't last very long, but left a nice dusting of the pretty white stuff on the grassy areas. We left to visit the girls around 9:30am and the snow was beginning to end.

We were greeted with beautiful smiles from both of them again today! We played inside and mostly just sangs songs and hung out. We sang lots of Christmas songs to them today. Lee and Lindsay played with his phone playing some of the songs he has stored on there. She really likes music and it seems to settle her down.

Lindsay has taken a liking to a new game of getting down and crawling on the floor. She'll lay down on the floor (which is understood to be a no-no) and giggles when one of us comes over to pick her up. She'll go back over and over again... clever little girl!

It was about 2/3rds into our visit that I notice Lindsay had lost a tooth sometime since our visit yesterday! Her two center teeth on the bottom have both the baby teeth with both of the permanent teeth coming in directly behind them. So there are 4 teeth where there should only be two.... but one of the baby teeth is missing today! I think the other baby tooth might be preparing to come out soon. I was relieved because I was sure we'd be going to the dentist to pull some teeth. I didn't get to ask the caregivers about it since the only one that speaks a teeny smidgeon of English wasn't there today.

By the time we got back to the city and our apartment, most of the snow on the ground was already melting.

Today was a low-key day. I didn't get any pictures today, so maybe I can make it up to you tomorrow... and maybe we'll be able to announce an official date for our court appointment..... maybe, just maybe...


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Day 13 - Daddy sings

Our day began again with another visit to the orphanage to see the girls. It was a cool, drizzly, foggy morning today. I'm thinking this must be what it's like in the Pacific Northwest... I think we've only had 2 days of clear skies and full sunshine since we've been here. Having lived in Texas all my life, this is different for me. Rain doesn't last this long, and I'm used to sunny days almost all of the time. We still haven't seen any snow here, yet. All the local people keep telling us just how unusual and warm the weather is for December.

We can tell that the girls are recognizing us when they come out from their room. We are greeted by big smiles now, rather than the confused looks we got the first couple of days.

These are a couple of pictures from the many attempts to get a decent passport picture for them.

 Lindsay was full of energy again and on the move again today. I can't wait to give her the space to get down and play and explore. She really wants to get down on the bare floor and scoot and play, but we know that it's frowned upon here. So we have to keep picking her up and trying to entertain her on our laps, in our arms, or on the chair.  It is acceptable to sit on the floor, but only if  there is a carpet or other covering on the floor. We don't have one in the visiting area we have.

Shawna was her usually quiet, cuddly self - kind of like a little koala cub.  Lindsay was trying to kiss her and play with her, and I finally heard an audible laugh! She seems to have a very low muscle tone across the board, so I think physical therapy will be our first goals for her, once we get all the medical exams for both of them out of the way.  The name we chose for Shawna means "beautiful, gentle" and I think it's very fitting for her sweet personality.
Shawna and Mom
At one point, Lindsay seemed to be getting overexcited. She just could not sit still anywhere. Daddy was finally got up to walk around with her in his arms. He began singing to her some worship songs from church and eventually she settled down and laid her head on his shoulders and relaxed in his arms. It was so sweet! Her eyes were open and you could see that she was soaking it in.
Daddy is singing to Lindsay.
Eventually, it was close to lunch time and the girls' attention was directed toward the caretakers as they brought in the crocks of food from the kitchen. We took them back to the group room. I set Shawna down on the floor and said goodbye. I turned to leave and another little one reached out to me. I reached over to shake his hand as I passed by, but the little guy leaped out of the chair to hug me and wanted to be picked up. My heart ached.... these sweet little ones just crave hugs and attention. The nanny pulled him back and returned him to the chair. I apologized to the nannies in case I had done something I shouldn't have. I had to hold back tears as I left.

With how tiny and frail that Shawna is, I feel certain that she would have a difficult time surviving in a mental institution. That would have been the next "home" for both girls. Because she isn't mobile or walking, it's very likely that she would have spent the rest of her life in a crib or bedridden.  I'm just thankful that we are able to be here now to welcome her into our family. I look forward to seeing what all she and Lindsay will be able to do in another six months with therapy and loving care.

Oh, how I wish things were different here and that each of these children had the opportunity to grow up in the care and love of their own mothers and families. I pray that things will begin to change and improve in their country so that children with disabilities will one day have more acceptance in the community, more educational opportunities, and better medical care. I pray that any child would be able to live with their families and outside of an institutional setting.

The little 6-yr-old girl that is also being adopted here is so, so very happy to have her own family. I wish you could see the pure joy that lights her face when her new parents and brother are visiting her.  It warms my heart! She also points to our girls and then to us saying that we are their Mama and Papa. I think she's happy we are there for them, too. I hope I'll be able to get a picture of her soon.

Afterward, we came back into the city and had lunch at a restaurant that offers traditional foods from this country. It was very good and only cost us about $11.00 US total for both of us. We'll definitely go back there again.

Paka (bye)!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Day 12 -

Today we had our regular visit and paperwork stops. One stop was to file the petition to the court. We don't have a firm date, but looks like it will be one day next week!

When we arrived, they brought the girls out to the little entry area and sat Lindsay down on the bench. She looked around for a second and as soon as she spotted Daddy, she got the biggest smile on her face and reached over to him! She was really excited today and a little louder, too. Shawna seemed a little more alert this morning, too!

We had a good visit again and got to watch Lindsay practice some more walking. She's able to take a few steps between two people, or to cruise with something to hold onto (hands, chair, wall...). She does not walk very far on her own. I have no doubt she'll be running in no time once we can get her some therapy started.

Little Shawna is so small, but so quiet, sweet and gentle. I had a chance to check the size of her clothing. The pants she was wearing was 3T, as in the size of a typical 2-3yr old toddler. Oh my heart!  I couldn't find the size tag on her shirt, but I'm sure it was probably the same size.

I received a cute picture of our daughter S, when she went to visit Santa this week. So cute! But after spending the last few days with these two children, she looks just enormous at 5 yrs old!

Before we left, we tried to get a couple pictures that we might be able to use for their national passport applications. Not the best, but there aren't many passport photos that do anyone any justice....

We spent our evening attending a bible study with some new friends that we've made here.

Have a wonderful day, as we head off to sleep!


Monday, December 19, 2011

Day 11 - Going Outside

From the cold, rainy weather yesterday, we awoke to a beautiful sunny day. Cold, but sunny with no wind! Perfect!

Our driver picked us up and we had to stop to pick up a document from the city official's office.

We arrived at the orphanage and another adopting family had arrived before us and was using our usual visiting place... the little foyer/entry area. So we ended up having to use the enclosed porch area, which was super cold. It was only 1C (about 34F) outside.

The nanny brought the girls out dressed in coats and hats. We understood them to tell us we could only stay on the porch, but not go outside. And Lindsay kept trying to get over to the door. She really, really wanted to go outside!
Bundled up to go outside

All I can say it we had our coats on and it was chilly in there. The girls hands were cold and we kept holding their hands to try to keep them warm. At one point, Lee took his gloves and put them on Lindsay's hands. It was so funny looking at her looking at the big gloves on her hand. It looked like a pair of giant puppets!

Valentine went to the office and tried to get permission to take the girls over to the big building to hang out inside. That building is quarantined for illnesses right now, so that wasn't going to be an option. Instead, he was able to talk to the nanny and get permission for us to take the girls outside and around the grounds in the strollers. So off we went!
Enjoying the sunshine

The weather was beautiful, and actually it felt a little warmer when we were able to get out into the sunshine. The girls really enjoyed it! Daddy would stop the stroller for a bit to stop and look at something, and Lindsay would rock in the stroller like she was trying to get it to go forward. She was NOT interested in stopping! Shawna was perfectly content to sit in the stroller and take in the scenery.
Shawna smiling!

When our time was almost us, we headed back toward the pink house. Lindsay began shaking her head "no." I don't think she was quite ready to go back inside. It was lunch time, so we handed them back over to the nanny and said our goodbyes. Our visit seemed to end so quickly, but we'll be back tomorrow.

We did a little paper-chasing afterward to get another document that needs to go to the capital city overnight.

So from what I understand, we have much of the paperwork in the right offices and our attorney can go to the local court tomorrow to request a court date for us. We'll see what the news will be tomorrow... Our hope is to have a date before the end of this year.... as in.... before the end of next week! The sooner the better!

If you think of us, please pray that the timing of all the paperwork will be perfect. I heard today that the American Embassy visa office will be closing for two days in January to move offices. It has the potential to fall smack-dab in the middle of us trying to get the entry visas for the kids to come home.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Day 10 - Church

It was raining and cold this morning, but we set out to learn the metro (subway) and made it across town without any trouble. Learning to sound out cyrillic letters has proven to be a good thing. We were able to determine our locations and figure out how to get to the next station. Google Translate has been big help in figuring out some of the words we see on a regular basis.

We didn't visit the orphanage today, but took a day to go to church and fellowship with others. We connected with an American that lives here and attended their church service this morning at Calvary Chapel here in K.

It was a great message about thanking God, even in our trials, because God can use those even those trials for an better purpose in our lives.  When we pray and we don't get the answers that we want, we still need to be thankful because many times if we were given that which we asked for, it would cause us more trouble for us.  We should still be thankful, even if the answer is no.  God has a better plan for us if we will be still, be quiet and listen to Him and follow his leading.

A group of us went to have Mexican food for a late lunch. It really wasn't too bad, considering your 6000 miles from your favorite Tex-Mex places back home!  We got tips on a couple of other places to try while we are here.

On the way back, we found a children's store around the corner from our apartment and picked out a toy that we hope the girls will like to play with.  We'll head back to the orphanage tomorrow for our next visit.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Day 9 - Second Visit

We were able to visit with the girls again today!

Here are a couple pictures from our visit today. The first one is my favorite!
Shawna, Daddy, and Lindsay

Daddy and Shawna

Mommy and Lindsay
All I have to say is that Lindsay is a ball full of energy! She wants to be busy and doesn't want to sit still! We are meeting in a little foyer/entry area and there is really no where to let her get down and move around... boo! It is taboo to be on the floor without a carpet or blanket, so we were trying to keep her entertained either in our laps or sitting on a chair. When she has been on the floor for a second or two, we noticed that she likes to get around by scooting around on her bottom, much like Nathan did before he started walking. Brought back fond memories....

Shawna may be a snuggler... she's so quiet and seems perfectly content to just sit on your lap and watch. Whenever I talked to her, I was able to get a smile from her. She is quite a bit further delayed than Lindsay, but that's ok. We'll have plenty of time to work through it.

Daddy was able to capture more of  Lindsay's attention when he brought out his phone. Boy did she like that! He played some music and she was cute when she was singing along and swaying to the music. She like the pictures, too! He was showing her pictures of brothers and sister.

As we finished our visit and the girls left to have lunch, there was another family who was arriving to visit their child. Remember the little one who cried yesterday, looking for her Mama and Papa? It was them! They were returning for another visit with her. We had a few moments to visit with them, and they seem to be very nice. They are from Italy and have adopted from this country before. We will probably get to see them many more times over the next few weeks. :)

Later we were able to meet up with the Kimbles and had dinner at a good Italian restaurant. The pizza was delicious!

We plan to meet up with an American couple that lives here and go to church with them tomorrow morning.

The weather forecast is calling for rain and some snow in the next day or two. We'll see how my little boots are going to hold up to the temperatures and keep my toes warm.



Friday, December 16, 2011

Days 7 & 8 - We Met the Girls!

Day 7 - A Long Train Ride

After another day of sightseeing, we returned to the Department for Adoptions and got the referral paperwork. We had dinner, packed our suitcases again to head to the region & city where the orphanage is.

We boarded an overnight train around 10pm and rode through the night. I can count on one hand how many times I ridden on a train. I knew it would be bumpy, and I expected it to be noisy.... and it was. :)  We were able to sleep for a little while, but it wasn't the deep, restful sleep that allows you to wake refreshed. The noises and the motion made for some really interesting dreams! I know I had at least one dream with a giant Transformer robot who shook the ground as he went by. And another dream about an earthquake. Too funny!!

Day 8 - We Met the Girls!

We arrived in the city of K at 6:30am. Our facilitator and driver met us at the train station and helped us off the train. We were able to go to our apartment right away and catch a little nap and shower before we headed out to the orphanage. This would be a busy day for paperwork so we knew we wouldn't get to spend too much time visiting.

After a little drive out to the country, we arrived at the orphanage. As soon as I saw the colored fences that I had seen in other pictures, I knew that we were getting close. I saw the donkeys that I heard about, too.
Colored fence at the orphanage

We went to check in with the staff and let them know we were there. They sent us to another little building, that looked more like a little house from the outside.
The Pink House

As soon as we walked in, a little girl ran up to greet us and called "Mama, Papa!" and reached up to me to pick her up. She was quickly directed back to the room. We were told that she was in the process of being adopted by another family. She had met them for the first time yesterday and she was eagerly looking for them to come back for her. Talk about breaking your heart!! When they told here that they weren't here yet, her little eyes welled with tears and her lips quivered into a pout, holding back back her cry. I think all of us were holding back our own tears to see how much she wanted her family to come back for her.

I wasn't sure exactly what was to happen next. I had expected to meet in an office or something official. We waited in a little foyer area. As we waited I shared some recent pictures with our facilitator and the staff of other children that had been adopted from this orphanage. Everyone was astounded and hardly recognized the children in the photos as the ones who had left there only a matter of months ago! We also shared pictures of our children at home so they could see that our son with Down syndrome was well-included within our family life and community.

Suddenly as we were talking, I looked up and Lindsay and Shawna were sitting right there on a little bench in the foyer/hallway with us! It took me just  a second to realize it. They were so tiny and their hair had been cut. I knew they would be small, but they were a little smaller than I had expected. They had just been awakened and so they were a little out of it. It took Shawna a little while to wake up and come out of the fog... I know how she feels! I'm the same way!

Shawna was helped to stand up and she was able to take a few steps to walk over to me. She was wearing some orthotic braces and big shoes, but her little legs were so thin... I got to hold her in my lap for quite a while. Lindsay was sitting in a little chair next to Lee and they played with a doll and a little stuffed animal and she giggled and smiled so much. She is a wiggleworm!

Shawna and Mama

About that time, one of the doctors came in with their files and began to read through their medical information. We were given the opportunity to ask questions from them about their health and abilities. I learned that they had recently been moved into this groupa house from the baby room where they were before. That's probably why their hair had been cut, too. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed that we weren't able to get there before the scissors. But that's OK, we'll have plenty of time to grow out that pretty blonde hair and put it up in braids and bows!

Shawna was so sweet and quiet. While I was holding her in my lap, she pulled my arm in to hold her tighter. At one point, I kind of pulled my arm back to do something, and she pulled on my arm again to hold her snug. :) That warmed my heart!

We were able to observe while they both ate their lunch. Lindsay can sure put down a bowl of borshcht (a traditional vegetable soup) by herself in no time flat! Shawna can feed herself with a spoon with some assistance. The nanny was really trying to work with her to help her do it by herself. Both girls did a good job. They were given another food dish which looked like a rice and meat type of thick porridge. Again, Lindsay downed it in no time! Shawna took a little longer, but she did it! Once they were done, they each drank a cup of a fruit beverage.  They definitely have a thing to two to teach Nathan about eating!

Then it was time for their nap, so we finished up our questions and wrapped up our visit. I didn't get to love on Lindsay much, so I had to get a little hug in before we left.

Lindsay and Mama

We'll return again tomorrow to visit with a little less commotion going on around us!

Please pray with us today as we make our decision on the new names that we will give them officially. We've decided to use their real names as their middle names, but we are almost decided on their new American first names.

Now it's off to bed for a good night's sleep!

Paka, paka! (Bye, bye!)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Day 6 - Department of Adoptions

Today we had our interview appointment with the Department of Adoptions. It was a very simple meeting... We presented our dossier and our passports. We received just some basic information for each child. There were three photos in each of their files. We were asked if these were the children we wanted to adopt. We said, "Yes." Then we signed a log book where she had put in our information.

That was it! Simple. In and out in a very short time!

We return tomorrow afternoon to get the referral paperwork from the same office. Then later we'll board an overnight train to go their city.

Today we took a historical walking tour around the city. Eugene showed us many different buildings and places around town. He pointed out some of the amazing architectural features on others. He is quite knowledgeable of the ancient and contemporary history. My brain is now on overload with all that he shared!

Now, we have to do some laundry so we can have our clothes dry before we leave.

Dobre noche (good night)!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Day 5

Today's weather was cold and a little drizzly, but we decided to venture out anyway. We enjoyed a good meal at the buffet-style restaurant again and tried some other choices of the local foods. Still very good!

There are many beautiful, old Orthodox churches in the area. We were able to take a little tour to see the inside of one of  the oldest in the country - St Sophia Cathedral - which is 1000 years old. The fresco paintings inside are being restored and the mosaics are beautiful.

We're getting in a LOT of walking while we're here, so we're both hoping to leave a few pounds behind before we return home. Between yesterday and today, I know we put in at least 10 miles! My legs and calves are feeling it!

Our big day tomorrow will be to meet with the government's department for our interview at Noon! Please pray it will go smooth and there will be no glitches.

Late yesterday, I received a couple of pictures from a missionary team that visited the orphanage earlier this Fall. It warmed my heart to see updated pictures of both of the girls!

Paka paka!

Monday, December 12, 2011

We are here! We are here!

We arrived last Saturday evening and have spent the last two days resting up and recovering from the long trip... 21 hours from first take-off to last landing! Our bodies were a little achey from sitting for so long, but we are rested and refreshed and ready for the next step in this awesome adventure.

We have been able to spend some wonderful time with another adopting family here and take in some of the sites nearby. We also met and spent some time visiting with a precious group of folks that have a bible ministry to orphanages in their town. It was wonderful to learn about their ministry and the difference they are trying to make for the children near and dear to them.

With the help of our new local friends, we were able to try some of the traditional foods from this country. It was very good and we are looking forward to going back again!

The weather has been very nice since we arrived. It was raining when we came in, but yesterday and today it has been cold, but dry and pleasant. We have been able to get out and walk around and explore a little of the area and locate the grocery store and the supermarket.

We finally got the internet connection up and running in our apartment, so we are now online and ready to update a little more regularly. We should be able to post a few pictures tomorrow.

We will meet with the adoption authority on Wednesday to make it all official and we should be meeting our girls for the first time this Friday.

Please continue to keep us and our family in your prayers while we are here. Things are going very well, and I believe that it's due to your prayers that keep all of us continually covered.

It is now time to share the computer and sign off for now!

Paka, paka!