I Feel Like a Yo-Yo

That pretty much sums up everything I feel like blogging about today.  Of course you all are just waiting to hear all about how court went and whether or not we got to connect with Hope’s birth parents and how paper chasing for Jacob’s Gotcha Day starts tomorrow… etc… etc… and that all sounds very exciting, but I am just worn out.

Back and forth, up and down, criss and cross all over this little country.  I am feeling physically ill just thinking about all the travelling, and I’m so ready to be done!  One more night train… just one more…. yes the thought makes me sick.  I’ll think about something else.  We went to Hope’s city and had a new apartment on the other side of downtown, we come back here – same thing.  New apartment, totally different side of the city.  I have been disoriented for the last week and I’m just ready to go home!!  Home, lovely home where everyone speaks English and I can read the labels at the grocery store and milkshakes aren’t just cold, flavored milk.

I am usually not one who tends to be partial to the July 4th holiday, but I am missing the festivities terribly this year!!  I never knew how much I loved real hot dog stands (not ones with sausage-type hot dogs in pretzel wrap things that are mushy from pre-added ketchup) and fireworks and BBQ and sweltering hot weather mixed with a refreshing day at the pool.  I really didn’t think I would… but I am missing my American summer!

Dear friends please eat delicious watermelon and have a wonderful time grilling for me.  And have a real milkshake or an American waffle cone… because the likes of them simply don’t exist here.  Enjoy the parades and the fireworks and the pools… Oh the things I take for granted.  I have not felt this patriotic in a long time!  Lol… ok.  I will stop with the complaining and tell you about all of the important things you’re really interested in.  But seriously enjoy the festivities tomorrow!

First of all, court – it went smashingly!  We waited in the lobby for about ten minutes, and court was 15 minutes start to finish.  Seriously!  They work fast in that region!  Besides asking us who we were and what we were there for there were no other questions or comments.  Everyone in the court said they had no problem with us being Hope’s parents and the judge gave us his decision on the spot, no waiting for deliberation or even the official reading of the court decree.  I was ok with that!

We had a very lovely adoptive mama watch our littles for us.  They took a walk over to the lake nearby and had absolutely no problems at all.  As for her birth parents, the lawyer of the orphanage did contact them to let them know that Zhanna was being adopted and asked if they would like more information or to meet us.  (I wrote a bit on their story here.)

Unfortunately, they asked for some time to think and did not call back.  I am sad to possibly have missed the opportunity to share with them our love for their girl and the beautiful home and life she will have; there is so much I could say and so much I wonder.  But perhaps I will share my heart on that another time.  My prayers continue to go out to them.  I cannot imagine their pain for losing a child.

Once we got home we had something to eat and spent the rest of our afternoon packing.  We hopped on the overnight train and slept decently, but not great.  Poor Stephen fell off his bed twice.  He wasn’t hurt, just grumpy.  We will visit our sweet Jacob this evening and then tomorrow morning our official wait is over and we get to pick up our court decree and start all the extensive paperwork needed to bust him out of that orphanage forever!

We are super excited to finally be at this stage in the game.  My mom is flying in tomorrow to be with us for the last leg of the trip, and we could not be happier!  We are definitely in need of a morale booster, and she will be a great one.  With that I’m going to take a bit of a rest.  Can’t wait to share with you all of our adventures tomorrow!

Exhausted.

Where to even start.  I am totally beat.  Today was absolutely, insanely crazy.  We must have fit about three days of work into the span of one day.  We had to take the overnight train this morning that left at the bright and shining hour of 3:50am.  So after spending our night packing, and getting about a four hour nap, we headed off to the train station with two strangely alert and enthusiastic children in tow.

They were in better moods that first part of our train ride than they have ever been while boarding a train.  I don’t get it; my children apparently do not take after their mother in this area.  In any case the bright-shinies (my word of the day) faded quickly for all of us and we took a nap that last about an hour before the kids were up at their normal time of 6am… ready to play and run around.  Unfortunately, we still had seven hours on the train left to go…

I wouldn’t call our train ride productive, necessarily, but we sure did a lot of work keeping those kids occupied and behaved.  There were some vendors selling three-foot-long dried fish and some sort of annoying bird toys… but not real food.  Thankfully I did pack breakfast and enough snacks to hold us over.

We made it to the apartment and got settled around 2:30pm, at which point we had all of one hour to get dressed and turn around to get back in a vehicle to drive to the orphanage.  We could have skipped our visit today… well no we really couldn’t.  We needed to see our boy just about as much as he needed us.  Two and a half weeks is a long time!

While getting ready to leave Jake came to the terrible realization that he had left a book and our ipod on the train.  Funny story actually, while we were still on the train I saw those two things sitting on the little shelf above his bed and I thought to myself “I bet those are probably the worst two things we could leave on this train… good thing Jake is so organized that he won’t forget them!”  Ahem.  Next time I’ll think my thoughts out loud.

I called our facilitator, who initially told us there was nothing she could do, but later called to ask a few questions about which car we were in.  Miraculously, the train station was able to get a hold of the lady in charge of cleaning our car who had already left work.  And apparently lost and found isn’t really a thing here because she took them with her for safekeeping.  So after we paid for her taxi to and from the train station we got our stuff back.  Lol!  Thank you Lord for the little things.

IMG_0818After all that drama, we did have a great, albiet short, visit (probably for the best as a certain child’s temperament was fading extremely quickly.)  Juri was just as stiff today as he was the first day we met him.  It was mildly frustrating that all his progress was lost, but I’m not sweating it because I know his range of motion will come right back as soon as we can bring him home.  Even so, he still asked to walk today, and went quite a ways so I was very proud of him!

Poor thing though, he cried when we left.  As soon as we said the word “Paka” the tears started, oh that was hard.  I can imagine, though we were telling him repeatedly in Russian that we would be there tomorrow, that not seeing us for so long and having only a short visit was probably pretty tough on him.  That’s the first time he’s cried because we were going away.  Mama’s heart was broken.

After our orphanage visit we got back and arranged for a friend’s translator to come meet us at our apartment and play with the little ones for a while.  They can’t come to court with us so she is going to help watch them and we wanted them to know who she was so perhaps they won’t be so scared.  As I waited outside with the kids, Jake went to the grocery store to get some food.

Our translator friend came, they played, we ate dinner, tried bath time… that failed miserably.  Neither child had any energy left, so it was straight to bed for both of them and boy did they go down quick.  Now Jake is ironing clothes for tomorrow, I am finishing up my due diligence on here for all of you and we are hopefully going to get a full night’s sleep in before our full day tomorrow.

Did I mention we have court in the morning!?!?  So excited!  I can’t believe that tomorrow we could legally be a family of five!!  And what does that mean for all you lovely people?  Pictures!  Like real ones!  Be excited, be very excited.  And keep your prayer caps on because we’d love to have them this whirlwind of a week.  Also don’t forget to pray for sweet Hope.  It was tough last night not sleeping with her Teddy Bear, hopefully that and the toy we left her will give her a little bit of comfort or joy while we’re away.  Missing her dearly tonight.

Always an Adventure

Today has been an interesting adventure.  Every day is in this foreign place!  Like the time I couldn’t figure out the oven so I cooked our frozen pizza on the stove.  Or trying to order food at the restaurant, or guess about what type of filling is in the crossaints at the grocery store.  Or driving… anywhere.  Today’s adventures started off with laundry.

Our current washer is evil… really.  When it’s running its cycles it sounds like it’s going to take off or blow up or something.  The last few times we had used it we came back in the bathroom to see it in the middle of the floor three or four feet from where it was supposed to be.  There are dents on the side of it – scars of its internal maladies.

Washers here are loud… but this thing appears to be off one or more of its rockers.  Yesterday Jake started going in and holding it down when it decided to become violent.  I was a little worried for his safety.  After the awful thing had woke the children up I told Jake that we simply could not use it anymore.  It was not worth the stress!

So this morning when we needed laundry done I did something I have never done before… I washed my clothes by hand!  I filled up the tub, put in some detergent, stirred them around, wringed them several times, worked on the stains, rinsed and air dry.  It was an unusually empowering experience to know that I could actually clean my own clothes without electricity, lol!  The second load is soaking now.  :)

Next, I spent more than twelve hours expressing just an ounce and a half of breastmilk for Janna’s visit today.  Before yesterday I had never used a bottle before, had never had to pump and had only expressed for a pesky diaper rash or an owie.  (Try it, it works!)  Boy have I had a lesson in dedicated parenting!  I was really not wanting to drag a pump around Eastern Europe with us, but I am sort of considering it…

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The boys were feeling under the weather, and not wanting to take any risks at all, we had a girls-day-out for our visit with Janna today.  We got there early to have a bit of a longer visit today.  She seems to really light up after about the first 50 minutes or so.  I got her to eat a little and we went into the sunroom, which was nice and bright with the windows open.  She sat on the floor with only a little back support; I was so proud!

She absolutely loves being held while standing.  Just changing her from one hip to the other elicits lots of giggles and playfulness.  I decided to try spinning her since she enjoys movement so much and she loved it!  We just spun in circles for about five minutes, she would hold tight and then laugh hysterically when I stopped.Evangeline was begging to go play outside on the playground, so we went downstairs and I stood in the doorway to watch while holding Janna.  I told the nanny we were staying inside, so I didn’t want to get her in the sun without a kerchief or hat or break some other cultural taboo.

 

Then, in the middle of a spin, her nanny came down.  I wasn’t expecting to see her so soon and hoped we hadn’t done anything wrong.  When she saw Janna giggling she said her name in an affectionate “You’re being so silly” sort of tone.  She then announced “lunch” and I reluctantly handed Janna back.  Not sure why lunch was 35 minutes early today but I was disappointed.

We went early to work Janna up to a longer visit, and it ended up being the same amount of time, right as she was starting to completely relax and enjoy herself.  I also hadn’t finished giving her her bottle, and I was so frustrated with that!  I really wanted to get all one and a half ounces in her.  Oh well, perhaps tomorrow.

It’s been raining a lot and the kids are stir crazy in these apartments which are tiny compared to the running space they are used to at our parsonage!  I am really missing Juri and, honestly, tired of being illiterate.  We all seem to be hitting a fatigue with our travels.  Evangeline is having a hard time understanding why we can’t take Juri and Janna home yet.  We’re still having a good time and making the most of our trip, but there have certainly been some difficult moments.

It will all be worth it.  Taking this process one day at a time!

Tomorrow!!

Tonight is going to be a short update because it’s been a long day and I’m exhausted!  It is almost 10pm here and Evie just had a meltdown and crashed like a rock.  Stephen took a way late and way long nap on the train and doesn’t even look sleepy yet.  Jake has already crashed with his princess after feeling ill all evening.

We got to take the express train tonight instead of the overnight and wow are they night and day!  It was very sleek and modern, we had a little seat grouping with a table (soo nice!)  Definitely our favorite mode of transportation thus far.  Unfortunately there was no morning express today so we took the afternoon train and got to our apartment a little after 6:30.  By the time we went to the grocery store, cooked and ate dinner it was already past 8:00pm when the kids are usually asleep!

But because of all the excitement they were still wide awake.  Jake had promised them the playground after dinner so I took them out, we went in for a bath, couldn’t get the cold water to work and nixed the bath.  Maybe tomorrow.  Speaking of tomorrow!!! We are so excited!  We get to meet Janna!

It is going to be a long day with probably a lot of paperwork, but it will be great!  Can’t wait to share!!

And so it begins!

We are in Frankfurt on our layover!  There is a little mini playground here and we are incredibly exhausted but still in good spirits.  We have a four hour stop before moving on for our final flight.  Here’s a little taste of our journey so far!

We ended up with much more carry-on luggage than I was hoping for, because we wanted our checked luggage to make weight.  So that was interesting traversing the airports with two children and four bags plus sweaters and the baby carrier!  Our first flight was pretty uneventful.  When we checked in with security, Jake was talking with the TSA official about our passports and Evie piped up “And we also need a plane,” like we were ordering food at a restaurant.  It gave us a good chuckle.

She did stickers and nook books on the first flight.  I tried reading her a “real” book, but it was a tiny airplane and so loud that she could barely hear me talking right next to her.  Stephen slept the majority of the way, which helped everyone’s mood for the duration of the afternoon.  They both really enjoyed watching take-off and landing and being “in the clouds”.

The Chicago airport was way bigger than the first, it’s like a little city unto itself!  I had never flown through Chicago before and I just didn’t know what I was in for.  I am pretty sure we walked about half a mile to get to our connecting gate.  That was quite the adventure.  Jake carried all the bags (my hero!) so I took the kids to the first bathroom we spotted.  I had Stephen in the Toddler Tula carrier and held Evangeline’s hand.  There was a line in the bathroom and several gracious ladies skipped us ahead upon hearing the little one’s plea that she needed to go!

So we squeezed into the first open stall rather than waiting for a handicap to open up and when we came out a very surprised woman asked “How did all of you fit in there?!”  I just laughed.  Not sure how to answer that question?  Haha…

I then opened up my laptop to post some pictures from our first airplane ride only to realize that we didn’t have the right cable to upload pictures from my camera.  Oops… one of the airport staff directed me back to the previous terminal to an electronics store, so I took the kids and we started making the five-ish minute trek back when Jake calls and said they were starting passport checks.

We should have turned around, but we started running!  (Which the children quite enjoyed, I might add.)  We got to the store, were told that no one in the airport had such things, and ran back to our gate.  I am really, really hoping our facilitators can direct us to one once we get to Kiev.  I will be EXTREMELY disappointed if I have to wait to share all of our pictures!

Once we rushed back to the desk at our gate, Jake was waiting while they seemingly did nothing with our passports in no sort of hurry while the lines piled up to board.  They told me I could go so I took Stephen to go get our bags (all of them) and just made the decision to get in line.  All Stephen wanted to do was ride the flat escalator walking thing that was right next to us and run in front of every “truck” that drove by.  When that didn’t work he started trying to ride the suitcases.

I, on the other hand, only had one hand to wrangle him and that arm was weighed down by two bags.  It ended with lots of screaming and pitiful looks from everyone in the airport.  A sweet German lady standing next to us gave him a few stickers which cheered him up just long enough for Daddy to finally get back with our boarding passes after standing at the desk for Stephen’s boarding pass.

Of course that wasn’t the end of it though.  After having spent ten minutes at the desk trying to get Stephen’s ticket accurate in the system, we were about to get on the plane when they told Jake that his boarding pass was now not right.  I was determined to get overhead compartment space so I went ahead and boarded with Stephen (and all the bags… again….)

Let’s just say that must have been an incredibly comical sight.  One passenger asked if she could help, and I said “Sure!” but Stephen was running in front of me and I couldn’t stop to ask her what she’d like to carry so I kept moving and she never got up.  Lol… A flight attendant eventually helped me get everything together after asking incredulously if all those bags were just for me and the baby and me pathetically explaining that we were travelling with my husband and daughter who they wouldn’t let on the plane.  Haha… yeah…

Stephen and I were finally situated, but then there was still the issue of my husband not being able to board the flight.  I called his cell phone trying to make a game plan in my head for getting our travel agent on the phone with the airline and telling myself that I could NOT cry because that would not be helpful, when who appeared behind me but my dear husband.  I was so incredibly relieved in that moment!

He said that they finally let him board.  He didn’t know if they actually got it fixed or if they were just tired of messing with the computer.  Either way it didn’t matter, we were on our way (all four of us!) to Germany!  We also had some added bonuses on the plane: free movies, TV and games for the kids on the seats, realizing it was only an 8 hour flight and not a 13 hour flight, and another sweet mama who shared her kids’ snacks with our little ones.

So yes, we are certainly having an adventure, and we’re not even there yet!

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