Thursday, April 30, 2009

Paka Blake


Today we said goodbye to the Overstreet's. I am so happy that they are moving on in their journey. I am grateful our paths have crossed and we share not only the bond of adoption but our children lived together in the same group within the same orphanage. Additionally our visits with our children where together over the ten day wait. They will travel to Moscow to visit the US Embassy there and then finally home. Blake is blessed to now have a Mama, Papa, big brother, big sister, and a dog! His new family is also very blessed! We all said goodbye, walked them out the the van and waved as they drove away. We are down to 4 families now at the hotel.

We went for a walk down by the water today. It was very nice. Victoria enjoyed the beach area. She threw rocks in the water, gathered a few shells and rocks, and watched at least 4 trains go by while we were there. She really enjoyed being outside, seeing the birds, walking and riding in a stroller. She is curious but does not appear to be overwhelmed. She has more of a personality in which she seems to just take it all in. We walked for over an hour. Today was the last day that I needed to complete any paperwork downtown so I do hope we can go on a couple of walks each day and spend more time outside.
throwing rocks in the water

We had lunch, played, watched Sesame Street on the laptop and waited for Irina and the driver to pick us up. Today I had to go to the American Consulate in Vladivostok. That went well and I just needed to get papers ready for the courier to take to Moscow. He will be going tomorrow. Tomorrow is another holiday here in Russia so must of the government offices will be closed. Processing that need to go on with my paperwork will take place on Monday and Tuesday....the courier will fly back Weds. Even though Vladivostok and Moscow are both in Russia, Moscow is an 8+ hour flight from here. But I a glad someone else is making that trip and not me!
Lunch...salad...not just salad, trust me this was just the beginning of lunch!

It took a very long time to get home from the Consulate. We did not get back to the hotel until 7:00 pm and we left to go just before 3:00 pm. We did stop at the market on the way back but traffic was awful. This is a three day weekend because of the holiday....you know? sort of like what happens to the 91 on a three day weekend...no wait, that happens to the 91 every day!

New words for today =)
socks, shoes, I love you (sort of)...she certainly says lots of other things too...I guess I should mention I am picking up a bit of Russian. Also, today she just did lots on singing, she really just sings away...very sweet!!

This is the whole group at the potluck.
Amy, her dad Randy and son Walker (North Carolina)
Fred and Heather (Newfoundland, Canada....their daughter will be joining them on Monday)
Mom, Victoria and me
Sandy, Ryan, and Bodi (Colorado)
Heather, Justin, and Blake (Illinois)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Potluck!!


Victoria brushing Mommy's hair....

Well Victoria slept until 8:00 am this morning. Now that was a pretty good night’s rest. It was another busy day; mostly this morning. I am starting to have trouble keeping track of where we are going and what we are doing. I did get Victoria’s passport today and she also had to visit a Dr. This Dr. makes a report for the US Embassy. She did very well with the doctor but of course did not talk. The Dr. asked if she talked and then asked her, “Why don’t you talk to me?”…..Nothing… She does talk A LOT in the hotel room and is also talking a lot around the other families. During the car ride the kids were very serious and she wanted to look out the window as much as possible. And yes, that is possible here….no child car seats at all!

Victoria did fall asleep for about 10 minutes on the ride back and that was about it for any sort of nap. We played in the room and when went for a walk to the store. Sandy had a great idea for tonight, she suggested that we have a potluck and all bring something to share. It really was a lot of fun. There were 5 families total. The idea of the whole thing was to just sort of put something together that you got from the market or grocery store or really just whatever you had. Also it was the Overstreet’s last night here, as they will leave in the morning to Moscow and eventually home. It was fun to get everyone all together, though it does seem we are sort hang out in the morning now too! We had our potluck in the upstairs dining area, which is called the “White Rabbit”. I am grateful that I was able to meet the Overstreets on this trip and get to know them. I will miss Heather, Justin and Blake and am also envious that they are traveling on.

Potluck gathering









Victoria ate A LOT today! I am not sure where she is putting it. It really is a fine line, I want her to know there is not a shortage of food and that she can have what she needs and wants. The other side of it is that I don’t want her to get sick…..like I mentioned in a previous blog this issue with food is not uncommon. It is also not uncommon for a child to stuff themselves until they throw up. Bodi, Sandy and Ryan’s little boy, had the nickname “Baby Bird” for a few days because anytime there was food nearby he had his mouth open ready for someone to poke some in for him. Visualize a nest of baby bird waiting for the adult bird to return to the nest with a work. He would also have a little melt down (cry) when the meal was over. This is improving. It sounds very cute and we all joke about it here but the reality of it is really sad to think about. I have been trying to let her eat as much as she wants, mostly monitoring how much she puts in her mouth at one time so she does not choke….I really just have to take something away until she clears her mouth by chewing and swallowing then it is given back, sometimes one piece of something at a time. Tonight though I did feel that I needed to cut off the food when I really started to think about the whole day and how much she had eaten. This will subside soon, I know for sure.

Trying to get a pictures of all the kids....Walker, Victoria, Blake and Bodi

Again I received all kinds of hugs and kisses from Victoria, mostly in the evening though while enjoying the potluck. We brought a lot of items to the potluck because we had to bring our own dishes and silverware. Also, I had my laptop there for a picture exchange. I moved Victoria over to sit on mom’s lap and told mom that I was going to make a trip downstairs, bringing some of our stuff and would return for the other stuff and we could all go down together. I went down, came back up and Victoria was just sitting there crying. Heather (from Canada, not Overstreet) and mom were both trying to consol her, but of course in English….this did not work. Her little heart was broken when I left the room. She did continue to cry when I held her again, letting me know that my behavior was just not OK. This was the first time I had actually seen her cry, besides the first visit when she was told to play because we would be leaving soon. Like I said, I did feel bad for her but I for sure think that is showing signs of attaching and I think she kind of likes me =)

Watching Dora (Russian name is Dasha, yes she is popular here too) on laptop.

At orphange, the day we were able to take Victoria and Blake outside.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

IT IS WITH GREAT JOY THAT I INTRODUCE....

VICTORIA IRINA RAE ELBE
Born July 29, 2005
Adopted April 17, 2009








Today was a GREAT day and a very busy day!!! Victoria is here at the hotel finally and things are going really well…..besides almost every piece of clothing being absolutely big on her. She is even having trouble keeping her PJ pants up!!!
This morning Irina came at 9:00 to pick up Justin and me. We ran lots of errands…vital records office, passport processing and well just lots of places that needed my signature. I was told we would leave to get Victoria at 2:00 but when we finished paperwork Irina called the orphanage to tell them we were on our way. We stopped at the hotel, picked up mom, dropped off Justin and we were off. She was asleep when we arrived. We waited down stairs; the clothes were taken up stairs. Shortly she arrived, took a few pictures and we were off! On the car ride back to the hotel things seemed very serious and she was mostly eager to look out the window.

We arrived at the hotel greeted by Blake, Heather and Justin. We visited for a bit and headed to our room. We had a snack. Victoria had crackers, cheese and milk. I called Dylan and talked with him for a bit. He talked to her, she listened….she did say paka paka (bye-bye) in the phone. After talking with Dylan, she just enjoyed the room and exploring for a bit. I showed her pictures on my laptop of Dylan and the dogs. When she saw the picture of Lucky, my larger dog she said, “sobaka!(dog)”….I guess she doesn’t think Charm looks much like a dog! She really has been talking non-stop since we have been here (in the room more so then around others), I have never heard her talk so much.

She needed a bath and hair wash and that is just what she got. She really enjoyed it, I was pleased. I put some toys in of course and she had lots of fun filling and pouring and so forth. I was relieved she enjoyed this, as I have heard different stories. I used the blow dryer to dry her hair, this was new to her. When getting dressed for dinner, she really tried to help and do this on her own. I am sure that of course is from learning to be self reliant.

We went to dinner and she did such a great job during dinner. She sat in a booster seat, never tried to get down, had nice manners…it really was very impressive….is this the calm before the storm? Haha! She does not know to drink from a straw very well yet but we will work on it. After dinner we went to the upstairs dining area to visit the other families. She played a bit, mostly with Blake. Blake came over and gave her a big Ol’ kiss on the lips!! Hey, that’s my girl!!! We also had dessert with the Overstreets tonight to celebrate having both of the kids here at the hotel with us.

We went back to the room, got our jammies on and played for a bit. We have a crib in the room. The side is lowered but it really is about the same size as the beds in the orphanage. I put her in the crib just when I started writing this. She is just laying down in there whispering to herself, in Russian of course =)
Tonight was the first time she verbally called me “Mama”…..also I can’t even count how many kisses I have received tonight….first time too….always have just been given hugs! Her pants keep falling down so Grandma says "Ay yai yia!" Now Victoria has been walking around saying to both of us, "Ay yai yia!"...wait, I think that is Italian???

Seriously, my daughter is very well behaved! In the international adoption world you hear of the “Day 3 Melt Down”…would I be so lucky as to bypass this…..that sure is a good thought! Tomorrow is a new day…I hope we sleep well….

Quick update....this was her at 9:30 =)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Busy Day....

Irina called the front desk at 12:30 to let us know she was on her way. I got ready and headed out the door when her second call came saying she had arrived. I thought we were going to the orphanage but instead we were going downtown to get airline tickets for the courier. We did that, made some other stops regarding documents and then headed back to the hotel to pick up the Overstreets. I was able to talk to Irina and get a better feel for how our visit would go this afternoon. Everything really was fine.

The Overstreets visited with Blake in the visiting room, also changing him and preparing for him to leave. The visit with Victoria was in the orphanage gym. When I first went to get her from her living area, there were adults in the doorway between us. I bent down so she could see me between legs. She did catch view of me and worked her way through, giving me a giant hug!

We played in the gym. Initially I did sense that she knew something was up. After a bit she seemed fine and began to play. Of course she wanted to look out every window. Her tights no longer had elastic in the top so she was pulling them up every couple of seconds. Mom finally took them off of her, which was fine. We needed to kind of look her over because two of the kids at the hotel have scabies which they brought with them from a different baby home. Just wanted to make sure she did not have anything going on like that. Looks Ok for now! She loved running around and playing barefoot. It was also very cute to watch. Of course she drank lots of water again. She brushed her hair a bit and then she brushed mine. It was very sweet. We had a nice visit but shorter than usual…..Irina came up to let us know it was time to go and the Overstreet’s were already in the car. Irina talked to Victoria to let her know that we would be back again tomorrow and she will leave. Tomorrow is the day!!! Finally!!!!

We came back to the hotel and I had to work on some paperwork with Irina and Lana for immigration. Also, went over the schedule that Victoria normally follows and the diet she is used to. I am looking forward to tomorrow. It will be exciting to finally get her in the car and bring her with me! We plan to have dessert tomorrow with Blake and his family. We will see how the evening unfolds. Blake was having a great time here tonight. He will be excited to see Victoria here tomorrow. I will be excited to finally have her here!!!

Tomorrow is another busy day. Justin and I will go downtown to take care of documents, I think passports. I will go to the orphanage at about 2:00 pm….not to PLAY….to change her clothes and GO!!!! Final trip to the orphanage….WooHoo!!!!!!

Barefoot Baby Girl!!!!!




Vladivostok Harbor

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Change of Plans...

Change of plans this morning. I think all of us here have really learned to go with this flow regarding the entire adoption process!! Irina came to pick up the Martins to handled paper work downtown and told us we will leave about 2:30 instead of noon to go to the orphanage. She also said that she visited the orphanage on Saturday to take Victoria’s and Blake’s passport photo. Victoria cried when Irina was leaving because she thought that Irina was there to take her to the hotel. Irina promised her that I will be back and she will leave the orphanage soon, just not that day……=( poor sweetie…… I know this has to be so confusing for her.

I spoke with Irina about my concerns with visiting Victoria today. Irina said we will for sure explain to her as best we can. I did know we would explain to Victoria, I suppose I was looking for more of an idea as to how this will all play out. Sandy and Heather both heard me talking to Irina and came over to comfort me…I was really ok until I saw they were both teary eyed….so sweet of them…. It will all be ok though. I am excited for Heather and Justin; soon they will have Blake here…..

Half Way to Home!

Well I have 13 days down and 13 to go until I return home. Half way there! Today Heather, Justin Sandy, Amy, Mom and I went to the children’s store and then the market. We shopped knowing that Victoria will be joining us in just a couple of days. Besides grocery items, I bought a couple of coloring books at the children’s store and mom bought a doll that speaks Russian and a stroller for the doll. We have a suitcase filled with just toys that we are calling her toy box! We learned this suitcase/toy box conversion from looking at the other parents’ suites. We all toured each other’s rooms a few days ago, no two are alike.

Me, Heather, Justin, Ryan, Sandy, Bodi, Mom

Sandy and Ryan True are here from Colorado. They have recently adopted Bodi. They are both involved in the Air Force so are veterans at traveling and exploring new places, though they say they are not Vets of Russia. Anyway, they invited us to join in a game tonight that they play when they are in a new place. They call it “Menu Roulette”. This is how it works…..we go to a restaurant and randomly pick something on the menu. Sounds fun, and we had nothing else going on! We went with Sandy, Ryan, Bodi, Heather and Justin. Choosing randomly was easy, the entire menu was in Russian of course and no one in the place spoke a bit of English but us. We each basically ordered something and passed it around the table to share. The meal (?) turned out to be pretty good! We ended up ordering a salmon dish, beef dish, some sort of sausage dish (now what I am calling dish, I guess I should clarify as a meat with onions). We had three different types of salad (?), stuffed tomatoes, and some dried type of beef with some very thin bread like tortilla. For dessert we tried to order three different items but ended up with three bowls of basically ice-cream. It really was fun and a different experience, for me anyway!

I was unsure of this dried meat...I did taste it but that was about it!


The bill was 2,750 rubbles, just under $90.

Tomorrow we are being picked up at noon to visit Victoria and Blake. Blake will be able to come back to the hotel with his parents tomorrow after our visit. Victoria will be able to come back on Tuesday. I am still a bit anxious about tomorrow and how Victoria will process everything. This was very evident last night with my lack of sleep, just lots going on in my head. There is a clock on the wall in our room that I guess I thought just ticks loudly. I got up in the middle of the night and just needed to get rid of the ticking. I took the clock off the wall and put it in the oven! I decided that was not good enough and I could still hear ticking. I picked up the portable alarm clock and put it in the oven too! Mom asked what in the heck was I doing. I told her that the ticking was just really loud. She said with exasperation, “Jennifer Marie!” Wow, she even through in my middle name!! Yes, the oven worked on blocking out the stupid ticking!!! Of course I was finding things to worry about…and then came crazy dreams during the short times I was asleep. I shared one with dad earlier today through email…..and he reminded me, “Dreams can be very interesting regarding your concerns”. Yes, I suppose that is very true……

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Red Hats!!!!

Today was unbelievably uneventful! We got up and were very lazy, I suppose knowing we had nothing to do today. Someone did knock on the door at about 9:30 and wanted to clean. We quickly got dressed and headed down to the dining area. I took the laptop so I could pass the time and check mail for the morning. We had a good laugh this morning while checking e-mail…mom is in a Red Hats group…..you know the group of ladies you may sometimes see out and about wearing purple and red clothing and red hats? She has been received a few e-mails while we have been here from some of the ladies and also receives updates about what the group is doing or may have planned. She received an e-mail yesterday from one on the ladies and this particular e-mail went out to all of the other ladies in the group too! The e-mail talked about events coming up and mentioned that mom was here in Russia with me. The e-mail also gave a link suggesting that if any of the ladies were interested they could follow along on the blog. I thought this was very sweet and love that people are reading! Well from reading the e-mail this morning there had been a discrepancy on the link provided, and extra period at the end of it. So the link that was sent out to the Red Hat ladies happened to take them to a PORN site when they clicked on it!! Yes, we checked the link too and sure enough it was not my blog! Oh my….what a shock for them! We really did have a good laugh!

Now ladies, I promise you, that is not what we are doing in Russia!!!!!

Ok so yeah, that was the highlight of the day…thanks for that though! It rained most of the morning and early afternoon. We went on two different walks today. Of course went to the store, down by the water etc….Now there is a wedding going on at the hotel. Watching the staff prepare for that has been a bit interesting I suppose but seriously that is IT!!! Tomorrow some of us are heading downtown to the market and a children’s store. That is the plan anyway. Next week will be busy. We will be bringing Victoria back to the hotel on Tuesday….HOORAY! And then, get documents together for the courier to take to Moscow.

I miss Dylan, my dogs, and my bed BUT am happy that when I do return home Dylan and I will be a family of three, plus two dogs of course!

One of the manholes that I referred to yesterday.....there are several like this..you just walk along and come up on a hole.


Private school near hotel. The school was built with no parking. At the beginning and end of the day the street is lined with cars.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tea Party

This morning I had a 4 mile walk, which was very nice! The sun was out, the Russians were out and it seems the clean-up is on around here now. The area is so dirty, people just seem to through trash wherever they feel like it. We have wondered why in the world this stuff does not get cleaned up. I suppose mostly because it has been winter here until just a few weeks ago. Today there seemed to be lots of people out cleaning up the trash and painting curbs. I walked next to the tracks for a while, tried to get on the property next to us but that was a no go! We walked there yesterday but today the guard was present and told me, ”Nyet!” I tried hand signals to let him know I just wanted to walk. He just showed me some Russian sign and I moved on. I wanted to walk in there as I felt a bit safer but, I was determined to get in a decent walk today.

I passed this on my walk,lots of tights hanging,most kids wear these like long underwear.



I headed further down the tracks to some concrete stairs we found the other day. I went up the stairs and found myself on a dirt road. My thoughts as I walked along this road and through most of my walk (actually a lot of my stay here) is that if I was in the USA I could point out 1000 things that someone might find to sue the city for. The man holes were open, seeing at least 3 on my walk; one actually had a tree growing out of it. Any signs of steps or sidewalk usually also means pot holes, cracks and even a stump on the middle of the walk. There is just not a lot of upkeep, not like what we are used to anyway. I walked along the dirt road and to the highway. I figured if the dirt road did not take me to the highway I would just back track. I brought a pedometer with me so I mostly just made up my walk as I went, making sure I got to 4 miles. I stopped at the store, went down by the tracks again, walked down the road the hotel is near and back again and even walked around the hotel. It really was nice! Mom did laundry while I was out…..I did buy her some dish soap at the store! Not so bad living with your mom at my age =)

Not"Fast Food"as we know it,sells mostly packaged stuff and cigarettes.

We saw Victoria today at 3:00pm. We were not able to play outside again today because we were told Blake had a runny nose. Blake really had one yesterday but not so much today. Today it seemed to be Victoria’s turn. Today we visited in the gym. I brought some coffee cups we got off the plane, some cookies I bought on my walk, and bottled water. We set up the floor area and had a tea party! It was fun and Heather titled me the “activities director”. The kids love the water; they must have had 3 cups each. After about an hour with Vitoria and Blake, along came the roommates, this time with just one caretaker. What a wild time! Heather and Justin had 8 or so small beach balls and blew them all up. Kids were throwing balls everywhere. Mostly though they would bring a ball to one of us so that we could throw it and they would chase after it and bring it back.

This is the store we walk to daily. It is small, maybe 6 different isles inside and NO JOKE, 4 of the isles are Vodka! It has not been unusual for us to see someone walking down by the shore drinking, or on the train drinking, or just doing the best they can not to fall over walking....ugh! Much of the trash you see laying around is empty bottles!


The kids also had crayons and color books that we had brought for Victoria and Blake. At one point I told Justin that the kids were coloring on everything. He said that was OK with him, thinking I was talking about them coloring on the books and toys they brought. Haha! I said, “No Justin, they are coloring on the orphanage furniture!” We quickly gathered up the crayons as soon as we could! Victoria helped =) I showed her that we needed to get the crayons together and she started going around to her friend gathering them too! She was actually having a hard time sharing her things…..in this setting, as a child you can be holding something and another child sort of watches and then comes in and swipes it away when they think there is a chance. One little guy would lose everything he got his little hands on. Every time this happened he would go over in the corner of the room, through himself on his stomach and cry loudly…..poor baby! They really are all so sweet and so much in need of love.

Victoria again was happy on my lap. Any time she moved away from me for a second a cute little red head would rush towards me to occupy Victoria’s space on my lap. Victoria did not like this at all! She was not sharing her Mama and would wiggle her way between me and the other girl so that she could get back on my lap. I kind of felt bad…of course my allegiance is to Victoria and I realize the importance of bonding and the importance of favoring her…but also did not want the other child to feel rejected…that was tough…the children just really want attention and love! They are in heaven if someone is holding them and loving on them! The other kids were with us in the gym for an hour or so.

Nicer area of Vladivostok. This area is right by our hotel but surrounded by the green fence. We are told that government officials live in this area, also there is a private school close by, big difference from other areas we have seen.


We won’t see Victoria this weekend but will go again on Monday. I am a little concerned about Monday because the Overstreet’s will be taking Blake back to the hotel with them after the visit and Victoria will not be able to leave with us until Tuesday. I don’t know that Victoria will understand this! I am concerned about her thoughts as she sees us leave and Blake is with us and she is not. We have just all been playing together for the past week or so. Maybe it is too soon for me to worry about it, maybe we won’t even have play time with Bake that day as he might be getting ready for his departure….but surely she will notice him gone =( I will be sure to write how this all plays out…..say a pray for her please!

The orphanage is an hour drive from the hotel in a city called Artem. We drive through the country most of the way. Along the road at various intervals there are wells, with a bucket and all! The people, in one of the villages we pass through, draw water from them. Irina asked our driver to pull over so that we could get some pictures.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cute


I copied this picture from the Overstreet's blog, Justin and Heather. This is of Blake and Victoria looking out of the orphanage yard fence, after a stray cat escaped them.

Also, my blog lists blogs that I am following. The blogs are from two families that are here right now and one family that I met on my first trip.

Passing the Time....


Today we had our visit to the orphanage in the afternoon. Was lazy this morning, slept in and slow getting ready for the day. We headed out to breakfast in the dining room at about 10:00 or so. After breakfast; chatted with Amy, Randy, and watched Walker eat and play. Went on a long walk today, was nice…still very cold but at least the sun was out. We headed to the orphanage at 3:00 pm.

Here it is...the Vlad Motor Inn, this is where we are staying.




Today we were able to play with the kids outside for part of our visit. It was nice to be outside with them. They had a nice time. Victoria seems to be fascinated with cats and hopefully animals in general, as she will have two dogs when she finally arrives home. My dogs will no doubt enjoy kissing on her; she is just the right height! There are two turtles at the orphanage that she often points at and tells me something as she walks by. The kids played on the swings, slide, and various playground equipment. We walked around the building a couple of times. I think we were outside for close to an hour and all decided to go back inside and to the visiting room to play. Play was not as wild and crazy today, it seemed all of the adults were tired and in need of a nap =)

Our living room area? Not sure what to call it, my bed is next to the lamp.



Victoria is becoming more and more at ease each day. She is holding hands when we walk, plopping herself on my lap, and giving more hugs. She seems to understand when it is time for us to leave and helps us pack up, hopefully realizing we will be back to play again. She is talking more and more! Today we got into a game with each other…every time she said nyet (no!); I said da (yes!)….back and forth, back and forth…..hope this is not a heads up for the years ahead of her saying no to her mother all the time =) It was a nice visit….though I must admit I am getting tired of the visits and ready for her to be here at the hotel. I actually did have to reprimand her today for throwing something….she totally understood and got it. We are doing all right with communicating!

Mom's bed, just next to kitchen area.


We got back to the hotel around 7:00 pm and have not done much since. Tomorrow we go again in the afternoon. Irina needs to help another family with some paperwork downtown. We went in the afternoon today because Victoria and Blake had to visit the Dr. There visit was fine. Victoria had to have a chest x-ray, which I knew she would. They are just checking to be certain she is all clear of TB. They do a skin test first and of course she tests positive, so the next step is a chest x-ray. I need these things done so that she can enter the US.

Kitchen....kind of impressed with the kitchen.


Oh and we are still pleased with our larger living space! Also, our driver was pulled over on the way to the orphanage today. Interesting, it seems they just pull random cars over every so often. He just showed papers and stuff and we were on our way again. I text Dylan and told him I missed him….he just wanted to know when Tori was going to be with me at the hotel…..no sign of an "I miss you too mom…"......nothin’…..whatever….haha!

Property next to hotel...not sure what this is as of yet...there is a sign and translated it says something like "military seamen sanitorium"...the stream is also on the same property.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

We've Moved


Today we went to the orphanage at 9:00 am again. They have been repainting and doing some wall repairs to the inside of the orphanage so it was an opportunity to ask if we could take the kids to a different area to play today. We were able to take Victoria and Blake to the gym. This room is much bigger and more open. Shortly after the visit began we were joined by Victoria’s roommates, making 12 kids’ total (two caretakers too). It really was sweet to watch all the kids play and interesting too. Blake really looks out for and takes care of Victoria when the other children were around. The kids were playing with a beach ball that Heather and Justin brought. When one of the children got the ball besides B or T, Blake would do what he could to retrieve it from the others and give it to Victoria. I have decided he might think we are one large family unit. He cares for her like an older brother would. Also, his time with his new family includes us too! He really is sweet and has such a tender heart.

Victoria was talking a lot today! It sure was nice to hear. It seems every day she becomes more relaxed. In some ways it really is good that I am not able to have her with me during the 10 day wait. I visit a couple of hours a day right now almost every day, instead of completely removing her from her environment and completely immersing her in mine (or at least my environment at the hotel). This way I think it will ease the transition for her. We shall see?

I brought her some bottled water, she seemed to enjoy this. I have recently been told that at the orphanages it is difficult to get milk, it is expensive. With that being the case, the children are often given coffee or tea ….yuck! And some complain of issues related to withdrawal from caffeine, headaches and so forth. Anyway….back to the water…she likes for me to pour the water in the lid and she sipped from it like she was drinking from a small cup. Lana came to get us, it was time for the children to have lunch (which from what I can tell, this whole week so far has been a sort of soup and pickles, we leave at this time). I gave Victoria one last drink of her water from the lid, when she was done she handed it to me and said, “ SPASIBA!” It was said loud and clear. Now Victoria does speak Russian and well, so I have been told. Today she did talk a lot and I just don’t understand much….we do seem to work it out though. SPASIBA means THANK YOU…I thought this was very sweet of her to thank me for the water but not only that, I understood it!! It was another fun visit!

I do hope to have Victoria with me at the hotel by Tuesday. The court decision will be final at that time. From what I understand the 10 days is put into place, allowing someone to appeal the decision if they so desire!

We saw this cat a few days ago...I am certain he is on life #8!!

We came back and didn’t do much more then what we normally do. It rained most of the day again but had stopped by late afternoon. We walked down by the shore and took the leftovers from the fridge to feed the cats and dogs in the area….there seem to be many, though they don’t all seem to be starving. Also, along the shore, one can tell there was a beautiful park at one time with a few rides. The park is completely run down and the rides no longer in use. Our boredom is obvious by the pictures taken….

He is shy but ate what we left....







Home on ride back to hotel...many of the same along the way...





Oh but almost forgot (the title)….big news…we moved to a suite this evening! I will post pics. of the new pad tomorrow. I think our space has more than doubled….cool!

Love the e-mails from people telling me they are following my blog…that really does mean so much to me….I appreciate everyone’s support!


What more could one want right?!? Here it is called Coca Cola Light =)

**if you click on pics they will enlarge

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Rain, Rain Go Away......


It rained all day today…very dreary! But was able to see Victoria again today. We were picked up at 9:00. There was confusion when we arrived. Irina was not there yet and of course we don’t speak Russian so we could not really figure out what was going on. One of the ladies in the orphanage was talking away while walking with us up to the visiting room. We were able to make out our children’s Russian names but, that was about it. A few different women came in and tried to explain something to us. I think at that point we had determined it had something to do with Blake. They did bring Victoria out to us. She had on different clothes today…that was good! Irina showed up shortly and was able to figure out what was going on. Unfortunately, Blake was not there. He had been taken to the Dr. for some medical exams. These poor kids, I tell you, they seem to have lots of “medical” people messing with them all the time. I felt bad for Heather and Justin, like me they were really looking forward to spending time with their child. Irina took them back to the hotel in her car and the driver stayed until we finished our visit.

Again we tried another dress today….24 months. She really enjoys the clothes and is starting to really enjoy getting her picture taken, realizing she needs to smile when the camera is aimed in her direction. I had some M&M’s for her today. She really liked those. When you learn about adopting a child from an institution you also learn of food issues. Typically the children will hoard food, stuff themselves, for fear of not knowing if there will be more or when it will come again. This continues until the child begins to feel trust and knows there will be more food and there is not a shortage. The orphanage Dr. talked to me about some of her eating habits a few days ago and I thought we might not have this issue but, after observing today, I could be very wrong. The Dr. had explained that Victoria is a very picky eater; she does not eat much and also eats very slowly. Today she was not swallowing what was already in her mouth and also just continued packing it in. I let her do this for a bit but then just put one or two candies in my hand for her to take and broke off pieces of the shortbread cookie instead of giving her the whole one. This is for sure not the first time she has had chocolate or cookies with me but, the first time I have seen this behavior. Maybe showing she is becoming more comfortable with taking food from me but, of course no secure enough to know she won’t be deprived. I am not concerned about it at all. It is to be expected. Just thought that might be an issue I would not have seen with her. In time…

She still loves the gloves and purse. She really enjoyed me picking her up and allowing her to look out the window on the second floor of the orphanage. She found this fascinating, like she had never seen the view from the second story window before….who knows? Today she gave me a sweet hug, really wrapped her arms around my neck. Very sweet!

We left to go back to the hotel and pick up Heather and Justin. We were told we would go to a grocery store and children’s store downtown, which we did. There stores were right next to each other. In the children’s store I picked up some things for both Dylan and Victoria. We looked in other shops and then headed to the market. Ha! We did the best we could. We do have a small fridge. We tried to get items that we felt we could recognize (crackers, cheese, cereal…etc).

It rained all day and it is suppose to do the same tomorrow….ugh. Tomorrow we visit Victoria in the morning and Thursday in the afternoon, due to the kids getting some medical stuff done Thursday morning?

Monday, April 20, 2009

3 Days Since Court, 7 More To Go......

Today we were able to visit Victoria in the morning. Irina bought the kids (Victoria and Blake) chocolate eggs to give them. They really enjoyed these. The eggs were hollow with a toy in the center. I broke the egg up for Victoria and she ate the pieces from my hand. Also, she picked up the tiny slivers left in my hand and put those in her mouth too! Every last speck, my kind of girl! She wore the same thing she has worn the last two times I have seen her, including the strange blue headband. Blake was in the same outfit too. I don’t mind, I realize it is an orphanage and they put the kids in the best clothes they have when visitors come to see them. My pictures might start to look like they were all taken on the same day though.

Today we did bring her an outfit to try on and wear, along with her purse and gloves. We also brought shoes today, though that is not new; we brought 3 pair the other day. Blake enjoyed the pink boots we brought the other day just as much as Tori…..very cute!

One of the main reasons mom brought this outfit today was because we thought it would not fit and we could leave it if needed. The outfit is 24 months; we mostly thought it would be short on her. Sure enough, 24 months fit….I think 24 months is the same as 2T? She is also currently wearing a 6 or 7 shoe size. She really loves getting dressed up! The kids also enjoyed a cookie that we got from the farmer’s market the other day. We played, colored, took pictures, admired clothes and of course; some running and throwing in the air were involved in our visit too! At least we did not get in trouble today for waking sleeping kids! It was a great visit! We go again tomorrow at the same time =)

The ride home from the orphanage took about 2 hours, instead of 1. There had been an accident so traffic was SLOW. The exhaust from the other cars was pretty bad; we were all not feeling so well by the time we got out of traffic. Unfortunately, it seems a pedestrian was hit by a bus.

I talked to Dylan on the phone tonight, which was very nice. He told me the weather there is nice. Here it rained most of the morning and of course, was cold. Dylan and I talked for about 25 minutes. After that, we went for a nice walk with Justin and Heather (of course by the tracks and to the market). On the walk we had a big discussion as to how much my phone call home actually cost me. First, I think we had thought $90. Then, talk of $900…. I thought well, I already called, not much I can do about it now. When we came back to the hotel, Justin asked the front desk and concluded it was only about $11…ok, much better and I can deal with that. They just put the comma’s with numbers were we would use decimal points…that is where the confusion came in. Also, on the walk we checked out some public restrooms….they were really pretty bad, I mean bad! I can’t post pictures of Victoria yet so…..yeah….here you go……

Men's

Women's.......wood is on each side of the hole for feet placement. I think I could write for a bit about the different restroom customs here but, I will save that for another time!