Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Snow Day!

We received a phone call early this morning (at 5:20 a.m....uggh) announcing school was closed. A quick peek outside revealed about five inches of snow on the ground. The boys were so happy, and I was excited since Stu was snowed in with us. Yahoo!! Stu and the boys quickly bundled up and ended up playing out in the snow for about three hours. I think Stu might have had more fun than the boys did, sledding down the hills and throwing snowballs. I decided to put HotDog in her snowsuit and let her experience her first snow. It took about ten minutes to get her suited up but she looked adorable. As for her feelings about the snow:
It started out great

And quickly went downhill.

She lasted about five minutes and we headed back in and warmed up with hot chocolate (and warm formula for her). It worked out great; the girls stayed cozy inside and watched the boys playing their little hearts out.
I should have known they would be exhausted but silly mommy tried to take photos for the Christmas card last night. You can imagine how it turned out:

I'm tempted to just send this out for a laugh. I'm driving myself crazy trying to get three kids to look at the camera at the same time, much less all smile. I'll give it one more attempt and then I'm finished.
Anyway, I'll wrap it up with a couple of cute pictures. I can't believe my baby turned nine months old today! She's is growing such much right before our eyes. And it's amazing to think that she's been home with us for two months; it really does feel like she's been here forever. I'm trying to savour every single second with my family because time really does fly.....

Monday, December 8, 2008

I Think We're In Trouble...

This is what she was doing when I left her room:

This is what she was doing when I came back a minute later:

And this is the look I got when she saw me peeking in her doorway:


Yes. She is pretty much completely mobile now. Her crawling is improving daily and she now prefers to crawl rather than roll. Her favorite spot to crawl: the Christmas tree, of course. The second you put her down, she inches her way to see how many shiny ornaments she can pull and how many presents she can unwrap. Suddenly, keeping my eye on HD has become a full-time job (hence the lack of blog posts lately). It is quite amazing to watch her development explode on a daily basis. Every day brings new discovery and successes for our sweet baby girl. Another skill she has developed is the ability to pick up the snack puffs (the kind that dissolve almost instantly) and feed herself. Of course, only about 4 out of 10 reach her mouth, but she is so proud when she does manage to eat one; and this gives us a few minutes of peace while we shovel food quickly down our throats. You see, our girl has decided that it is absolutely unacceptable for someone else to eat in her presence unless she, too, is being fed. It has been two months now (wow...two months already), but Stu and I are finally able to eat a meal together again. It's the little things that make me happy! It will be nice when HD has some teeth (none in sight at this point) and can eat a variety of finger foods. She's also started to interact with her big brothers, making Chipmunk and Monkey very happy. She loves sitting on the floor in the middle of their madness. They play peek-a-book with her and she laughs hysterically. They tickle her feet and she laughs hysterically. They make goofy faces and she laughs hysterically. Are you seeing a pattern here? Yes, she is definitely enjoying the entertainment my two silly boys provide. I, too, am enjoying it as it allows me to get a few things accomplished around the house. My family seems to be falling into a nice comfortable place. I am sure as soon as I say this, it will all fall apart tomorrow. But I'll take it while I can. Soon enough the boys will be out of school for Christmas break (for 3 weeks I think) and my schedule will go to hell in a handbasket.
Other than that, not much new to report. We are gearing up for Christmas. We enjoyed our town's annual Christmas parade last week, made ornaments at the library, and did the obligatory visit with Santa this weekend. We tried to do it several weeks ago while we were at the mall but the boys refused to talk with Santa that day. They knew they had been naughty that day and they were scared to death of what Santa would say:) This time, Chipmunk went right up to him and had a nice chat. Monkey, on the other hand, would absolutely not get anywhere near him. He stood behind me the entire time and only came out at the very end after Chipmunk said Santa wouldn't know what to bring him. So my dear Chipmunk took his brother by the hand and walked up there with him so he wouldn't be scared. Such rare moments of sweetness take my breath away and help me carry on during the daily struggles between the two.
It is definitely going to be a Merry Christmas for our family.

Friday, November 21, 2008

These Are the Days

I wanted to do a quick post as today is Monkey's "Family Day". Three years ago, Stu and I were in a Russian courtroom and legally became Monkey's parents. What an amazing day that was. We picked him up later that night and life has never been the same. Monkey was described by his caregivers as "spirited". And is he ever! I have never seen a little boy so full of energy and smiles. He is truly one of the happiest kids I've ever seen. He never slows down from the moment he wakes up and keeps us on our toes. But he always has a smile on his face or a hug to share. We are so blessed to call him our son.
Amazingly enough, I was looking through some old papers (still on my organizing kick!) and I discovered that today is also the day that we received the referral call for Chipmunk. I can't believe I never realized it before. It is incredible to think that this time five years ago we were just beginning our journey to parenthood; now we have three beautiful children to love. Life truly is amazing.
HotDog is doing great, as always. One big development: She started crawling a few days ago! I was really, really hoping she would wait until after the Christmas tree came down, but there is no stopping this girl. I think she just wants to keep up with her big brothers. She definitely wants to be in the middle of all the action. She doesn't do the traditional crawl or army crawl for that matter. She gets on her elbows, straightens her back legs so her butt is straight up in the air, and then juts forward. We call her our little Inchworm. It's slow-going right now as she has to think about every movement, but she can get across the room if she wants too. And I don't think it will be too much longer before she can wiggle her way in an instant. Guess it's time to start getting my baby-proofing gear back out.
I wanted to add a few pictures too. The first is a picture of Monkey as we picked him up at the orphanage. The next is Monkey today. Can you just see the gleam in his eye?!

Next of course is HD. Is it possible for those cheeks to get any bigger?

And finally, a good family picture taken a couple of weeks or so ago. I think it's the first time where we are all looking at the camera at the same time.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Catching Up

Somehow I found a few minutes to do a quick update. Things are great here but I am finding it so difficult to finish any task that takes more than five minutes. Chasing three kids around is a lot of work! So many people warned me that the transition from two children to three was much harder than from one child to two. I was terrified of this, as I had such a difficult time when we added Monkey to our family. However, I’m finding the transition from two to three to be quite easy; due in part to the good-nature of HotDog, I’m sure. If anything, the addition of another child has had a really positive impact on me. I used to be happy in a household of organized chaos. No more. I am currently in the process of organizing everything in our house. I don’t have the time to hunt and search for every little thing. I need to know exactly where everything is; this is essential as I can tell one of the boys what I need and where it is if I’m busy with Little Miss. I’ve also learned the benefits of planning ahead and following a schedule. No more spur of the moment trips to the grocery to pick up a few things I forgot. It’s too difficult to drag all three kids anywhere, especially now that it’s getting cold outside. I’ve started making a detailed list of what I need and if I forget something then it waits until the next run to the store. We are currently in the process of moving Monkey to his own room (he is currently sharing a room with Chipmunk). This is forcing me to finally clear out the guest bedroom/junk room and I’m getting rid of a ton of stuff that we haven’t used in years. It is such a great feeling to drop a big load off at Goodwill or a consignment store.
Last week was our big appointment with the IA doctor and HD did great. She is either on target or ahead of where she is supposed to be in every single area they tested. The doctors were all very impressed with her development and completely charmed with her big smiles and giggles. All of the tests have been negative so far (which is a good thing) although we are still waiting on a few results. The blood draw wasn’t fun but she was a trooper. Unfortunately they weren’t able to get enough the first time around so we had to return a few days later for another blood draw. She was not a happy camper; thank goodness we are finished with that part of it. We did find out that she has gained some weight too. She weighs a whopping 19.5 pounds at seven months old. Such a big girl!
Also, we received HD’s certificate of citizenship this week (it just took three weeks - that must be a record for the federal government) so we now get her a social security number. That should be the last of the important paperwork we need to complete…until the post-placement reports begin in a few months.
So now that the big round of medical appointments is over, I’m hoping that I’ll have time to catch my breath. Of course, the calendar looks pretty busy over the next six weeks: Chipmunk’s birthday is today…Happy 6th Birthday!! Monkey’s “Family Day” (Stu abhors the term Gotcha Day so we call the day we picked up Monkey “Family Day”) is next week, followed by Thanksgiving, then my birthday and Christmas festivities begin.
But this is my absolute favorite time of the year and we are so thankful that HD is home with us to celebrate the holidays. I wouldn’t trade this time for all of the sleep in the world.
Off to celebrate Chipmunk’s big day now. I don’t think there is anything sweeter than experiencing the excitement and joy of a birthday through your child’s eyes.
Life is good…..

My birthday boy

Brotherly Love

A picture is worth a thousand words

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Real Life Resumes

Sorry it has been awhile since my last post; three kids are keeping me rather busy!
Things are wonderful (most of the time) around our house these days. HotDog is such a great baby...thank goodness because we had to jump right back into reality as soon as we touched down. When we brought Chipmunk home it was the dead of winter and we were living further away from our families. We hunkered down and really hibernated as a family of three for the first few months. It was wonderful and really allowed us to start a great bond with him. When we brought Monkey home, we did much of the same. It wasn't as easy, as it was right before Christmas. However, we found that it was much easier staying home with a 3-year-old and an active 17-month-old than trying to brave most of the holiday madness.
Unfortunately for HD, with two big brothers and the upcoming holidays our calendar never seems to be empty. In the past two weeks we have had a parent-teacher conference, Monkey's third-and-final post-placement for Russia (woohoo!!), trick-or-treating at the zoo, a baby shower, an evaluation with Monkey's teachers/OT, a pediatrician's visit, our annual pumpkin-carving with Nana and Pops, not to mention the daily trips of picking up Monkey at 11:50 and Chipmunk at 2:30. I really am trying to keep things very low-key for her and am attempting to maintain some semblance of a schedule, but with a 5-almost-6-year-old and a 4-year-old, it makes it challenging. However, she is quite the trooper and very rarely fusses. For the most part, she is a very content, happy-go-lucky child.
We had our first pediatrician's visit last week. It was fantastic. The doctor said she looked "fabulous" and was thrilled at how healthy she is. She had gained almost a pound since the previous week and I'm almost positive she's gained at least a pound since then too. He did give us the okay to go ahead and start her on cereal and baby food. That has made a world of difference. She gets a mid-morning snack in between bottles and then a big meal right before bedtime. Filling up her belly that late has helped the sleep issue tremendously. She usually goes down between 8:00 and 9:00 each night and usually sleeps until about 7:00 each morning. Yeah! She is also taking a couple of naps during the day that last for about 2 hours each.
The only thing that really upsets her is the car seat. She cannot stand it. It is a battle every time we have to put her in it. This has me very worried because we have our big visit to the IA doctor next week and it's about 2 1/2 hours away. I think I'm going to head up the night before and spend the night with one of my best friends. Her house is a little more than halfway up there so at least it will split up the trip into more manageable pieces, for HD and for me. I am still not looking forward to it though I know it is something we have to do.
It is amazing to watch her little personality blossom. She is really a calm and content little girl that loves her thumb and her blanket. As long as she has both of those things, she is great. She loves to be tickled and has a deep belly laugh. She is definitely a momma's girl too (sorry Stu!). She gives me big open-mouthed kisses. If I am in the room, she wants to be in my arms. If other people want to hold her than I need to be out of her eyesight. She loves the mornings and wakes up with the biggest toothless smile on her face. She does not like to lay down and be in a position where she can't watch everything around her; she definitely wants to be part of the action. She loves her exersaucer and her leg strength is amazing. She can already stand up by herself as long as she is holding my hands, the couch, etc. Bringing her home at six months, I thought it would be awhile before we had to worry about her mobility, but the pediatrician thought she would bypass crawling entirely and go straight to walking...in just a couple of months. Uh oh. Looks like we need to start baby-proofing again very soon.
The boys are doing great. They absolutely adore HD and I find myself constantly reminding them to take a step back and get out of her face. It's really cute to watch them talk to her and bring her the toys they think she'll like. It's become quite the competition to see who can get her to smile the quickest or whose turn it is to fetch a clean diaper or get the bottle. They are such great helpers. They are acting out a little bit in order to get our attention but we are really trying to make sure that we are spending "big boy" time with each of them. So far, so good. They are super-excited about Halloween, which is followed by Chipmunk's birthday a few weeks later. Also big news around our house is that the Tooth Fairy finally made a visit. Chipmunk has had a loose tooth for several weeks now and he has been working hard at pulling it. Finally on Monday night he pulled it out himself. He was so proud, as were we! Now, of course, Monkey is determined it's his turn to loose a tooth. I'm scared to think of what he may try in order to make that happen. We don't call him our Evil Genius for nothing:)
I'll leave you with a few pictures of my beautiful family. I look at my children (and my wonderful husband) and wonder how in the world I got so lucky. I have certainly be blessed and it's going to be such a happy holiday season for us.

Loving her swing!

A smile before bed

The cutest skunk, farmer and cow ever!

Carving pumpkins with Daddy

My beautiful children

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

So Sweet

This little face just melts my heart.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Okay, so I had a long post written about our trip and our time home so far. Unfortunately my computer kicked me off and I lost the entire thing. So I'm going to make this short and sweet while little one is playing with the Monkey for a few minutes.
Our trip was amazing. I won't say it was a piece of cake but it was much easier than I expected. HotDog is such a good baby. She is a fantastic eater, sleeper (while in Kyrgyzstan, that is), loves to be held and rocked. The only time she fusses is when we can't get her the bottle quick enough. It was great to get quality one-on-one time with her and we made wonderful progress with bonding during our stay. She was a fantastic traveler too. She had one crying fit of about 45 minutes out of the 29 hours we traveled. Of course, she didn't sleep much on the flights - too many things to look at and see. Several of the grandmothers on the flight took pity on me and took turns carrying her around for awhile so I could eat and have a few moments to myself. Having Stu meet us in Memphis for the final leg was a wonderful surprise. I sobbed for a few moments after I saw him - I was so exhausted and it was such a relief to see his face again. It was such a special time for him to have a little while of quiet time with her before we arrived home to the party at the airport (as the Monkey refers to our family greeting us at the airport).
Since we've been home, little HD has been great. Her big brothers absolutely adore her and she is particularly fond of Monkey; anytime he is around she laughs and giggles. It's funny how much she is already part of our family; it feels like she's been with us forever. And she definitely has us all wrapped around her chubby little finger:) The only real issue we are dealing with is her refusal to sleep for more than two hours at a time, even overnight. Her little body is exhausted and she needs to sleep but I think she has the days and nights confused and is just so overstimulated by her new environment.
We have her first pediatrician's visit this morning so I'm hoping to get the okay to start her on food. I think this will fill her up and she might actually sleep for a longer period of time. Eventually she has got to crash...right?!?!
Okay, gotta run and try to get little miss to nap for a little while this afternoon. I'm sure all you want to see is pictures anyway:)

Friday, October 17, 2008

I'm a Happy Guy

So even though it is just a little after 6 AM and me and HotDog have only gotten about 2.5 hours of sleep, I have to admit I'm a happy guy. My girls got home safely last night. Allison is upstairs trying to catch up on her sleep and HD is here on my lap trying to help me type.

Thanks to my mother and father I got to fly down to Memphis to meet them off their plane from Amsterdam. I can't tell you how good it felt to see my wife and hold my baby again. The only downside was that I missed them walking out of the gate since I was watching security do a full cavity search on a 90 year old woman who spoke no English in a wheelchair. Anyway it was great to get to see them and to have a little quiet time to reintroduce myself to my daughter.

Allison said HD is a great little traveler. She had a little bit of stomach issues so she was on her third outfit of the trip. She also puked on me within the first two minutes of me holding her. Great way of saying "good to see you dad". Allison did a great job of handling the solo 29 hour trip. I know I could have never done it.

So when we got to Louisville we had about 20 family and friends there to meet us. They all agreed that HD was the prettiest, smartest, best baby in the world. She handled all the attention great and was in a good mood the entire time. Thanks to everyone that came out to see us.

We got back to our house around midnight. The boys were wound up and HD was playful so we settled in for our first night as a family of five. It was amazing watching the boys just stare at her and give her kisses and they were mesmerized by her. The boys were also very busy giving Allison hugs and kisses. I bet two minutes didn't go by without one of them saying "I'm glad your home mom".

HD seems to really be entertained by the Monkey. He was making faces and doing tricks for her constantly. The funniest part of the night was when after one little cry the Monkey quickly said "i think she wants to go back to Kyrgyzstan". We had to politely tell them that we think she is going to stay.

So finally around 2:00 we gave HD a bottle and let her try out her new swing. She went to sleep pretty quickly (even though it didn't last long). So then I proceeded to tuck in the four best things that have ever happened to me. First the boys went down, then Allison and finally HD. It wasn't easy to lay her down. But I know I will have many more nights of rocking her to sleep since my girls are finally home......

Stu

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

All That is Left.....

....is just a little 29 hour trip home. My girls have completed their medical evaluation (HotDog is very healthy) and received all the paperwork at the US Embassy with one minor hitch (they misspelled her name). So around 5 pm EST on Wed. they will start the trip home. They are scheduled to get back here around 10 pm Thursday night. Piece of cake right?

HotDog now weights over 17 lbs. Allison must be feeding her well as she has gained over a pound in just a week since Allison picked her up. I think she is trying to catch up with her cousin Raya.

Allison enjoyed the trip t0 the Embassy. She got to see several other kids preparing to go home. I remember when we went to the Embassy in Russia with the boys and it is a great feeling seeing all the recently united families. It is usually a very positive atmosphere since this is always the last step before traveling home.

I guess that is all the news I have. Me and the boys are still doing good. We miss Allison more than I could have ever imagined. But it's almost over. Now I just got to get the house clean.....

Stu

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Brain Dump

So the boys are in bed early since they are heading back to school tomorrow and I've completed almost all the items on the Honey-Do list that Allison left me and I don't want to think about work just yet, so here's a bunch of random stuff.....

The good news is that Allison was able to find some ear drops that have seemed to help. HotDog is back to being a happy, smiling little girl. The even better news is that HotDog feel asleep watching sports on TV. That's a baby going straight after my heart. When they get home now me and her can be asleep on the couch by 8pm. Perfect.

The other day I asked Allison if she wanted me to bring anything to the airport. Her response was Kentucky Fried Chicken. OK, in the 8.5 years that we have been married I think I have seen Allison eat KFC once. And that time we both discussed how we couldn't stand it. Weird.

Another quick story off topic. The other day at a business lunch I was meeting a guy for the first time. Of course we did the mandatory small talk - where you live, where you went to school, etc. When he asked how many kids I had I said "three, ages 5, 4 and 6 months". This isn't the first time I've responded this way, but it is the first time it rolled so easily off my tongue. It's like my mind is finally starting to believe HotDog is here.

OK since this post has been a bunch of nothing I'll keep it going. Here the top 5 things us boys here at home have done that Mom never would have allowed if she had been here....

5) Baths -- Who needs baths? Real men just put on another coat of deodorant and aftershave.

4) Kool-Aid for breakfast -- It's cheaper than milk.

3) Marshmallows -- They are not just for smores anymore. Lunch, snacks, dinner, anytime is a good time for marshmallows.

2) Walking around in our underwear -- Enough said.

1) Swimming -- We went swimming today (Oct. 12) in an unheated outdoor pool. Granted it was about 87 degrees here today. The water was just over 70 degrees. So when the boys get pneumonia, we know who to blame......

So this ends my pointless post. Thanks for listening.

Stu

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ear Trouble, Soccer & Sausage Casserole

So Allison is running into the first bump in the road of her new motherhood. Our HotDog seems to have gotten an ear infection. She's been pulling on it and is having trouble eating. Both of our boys have had ear tubes so it looks like we might be 3 for 3 in that arena.

The good news is that my girls have received all the paperwork and met all the other requirements that they need in order to travel to Kazakhstan on Monday. From there they will have two days of paperwork and doctor's appointments before they come home on Thursday. It can't come soon enough.

The boys had their last soccer game today. The Monkey got more involved this week than he ever has. He has come along way in his first session. Our Chipmonk continued his work as defensive MVP. He also scored a great goal, but he still gets more excited when he makes a nice defensive play. I have really enjoyed watching them really understand the game better this year.

Finally just a quick thanks to my mother & father (and my grandparents) who have helped me out a ton this past week. The boys spent a few days on the farm and were completely entertained. The best part of when they are down home is that they stay so busy with the cows and tractors and barns that they really don't have time to miss their mom. We all know they can't wait for Allison & HotDog to get here, but at least it isn't in front of their minds.

Also my mother made me my favorite dish on earth. Sausage casserole has about 1,000,000 calories and no telling how many fat grams. When you eat it you can feel the cholesterol building inside your heart. If I'm ever on death row, this will be my final meal. Now obviously my father is concerned for my health since he stole about a quarter of it (without mom noticing).

So keep saying your prayers, my girls have a 4 hour car ride on Monday up to Kazakhstan so we are all hoping the trip is uneventful. We are getting closer.....

Stu

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Status Check

Here where everyone currently stands:

HotDog -- Doing great. She slept 12 hours last night. Eating like a champ. Allison said she can do the wormcrawl all the way across the room. I'm afraid she will be crawling soon. She also loves going outside. On the downside she is having some belly issues related to either the new formula or teething (or both). I can't wait until she is home.

Allison -- Doing better. She is finally back to full health. She got out yesterday and did a little souvenir shopping. She is teaching HotDog early how to max out credit cards.

Boo, Huck & CowKitty -- All 3 cats are currently still alive. I think I have remembered to feed them almost every day.

Chipmunk -- Doing great. Our chubby cheeked boy has had a great week. He scored twice in his soccer game Saturday. He had a great time on my folk's farm going for a ride on tractors & combines, feeding the cows and riding his bike about 100 miles.

Monkey -- Doing very well. Our wild man never changes. We had rain for the first time in about two months yesterday and he celebrated by getting 3 sets of clothes muddy.

Me -- Good. I've had tons of help so far and it's been easier than I could have ever thought. I just want my girls home.....

Stu

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Gotcha Day

I'm happy to report that Allison picked up HotDog last night. It's been a long day for them but they are doing well. Allison said she already has quite the little personality. She is a very serious child that knows what she wants. She has a great appetite and is a very strong little girl.

I can't express how good it feels to know that my baby is finally where she belongs. It's been a long 2+ years since we started this whole process and it feels so good to be this close to bringing her home. Allison is still a little under the weather so she is trying to catch up on her sleep whenever HotDog sleeps. I'm glad to hear that she is a very good sleeper.

I almost forgot to mention that she is the most beautiful girl in the world.....

Stu

Monday, October 6, 2008

Quick Update

Hello everyone, Stuart here. Allison was silly enough to give me the password to her blog so I could update it for everyone. I will try not to make her regret it....

The good news is that Allison got there on time and the flights were uneventful. She has been a little under the weather the last day or two but hopefully that will clear up quickly. She is very impressed so far with the hotel she is staying at. It is difficult to get Internet access so if she isn't replying to emails don't take it personally.

The even better news is that by midnight Tuesday (EST) Allison and HotDog should be reunited. Obviously she is very excited about this and I'm sure I won't sleep well until I hear that my baby girl is safe in her mother's arms.

Also, you may have heard about the earthquake in Kygrystan. It was far away from where Allison and HotDog are so everyone there is fine. She didn't even know it happened until she saw it on the Internet.

And to those of you who have asked about the boys, they are doing great. We had a great soccer game on Saturday and they have had lots of time on the farm since Friday. Many thanks to my Mom and Sister who have been helping out alot.

That's it for now, I'll post again later when I have news.

Stuart

Friday, October 3, 2008

I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane

I am heading out the door to begin my 30 hours of travel (and after this week, 30 hours of quiet and being by myself sounds wonderful:)
Of course Wednesday I went to take one last picture of the boys and discovered my camera was broken. Thank you so much to my wonderful grandmother who is letting me borrow hers for the trip. I love you Nanny!
Anyway, my bags are packed (and just under the weight limit..yeah!), cameras are ready, paperwork is prepared, boys are at their grandparents house - thank you so much to the incredible Puffy and Papa. The only thing left to do is pick up my chubby-cheeked little girl, which should happen in just under four days.
Thank you to all of my readers for your good wishes and advice on my previous post. My mini-breakdown is over and now I'm just super-excited about getting this show on the road. I know I can handle anything that comes my way and these next couple of weeks will pass quickly. The plane ride back home is the only thing I'm still dreading, but I have my Ergo baby carrier ready. Poor Monkey was my "pretend baby" yesterday for at least an hour as I carried him around in the carrier, just to make sure I was using it correctly and wouldn't drop HotDog on her head:)
I am going to try to post while I'm in Kyrg, but who knows how much access to the Internet I'll have. Plus there are some major energy shortages in country so I know I'll spend at least part of each day without electricity. I've given Stu instructions on how to update the blog in case I'm unable so I hope that one way or another, I'll be able to share my adventures with you.
Big hugs to all of my friends and family. I'm outta here!!!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

72 Hours

In just about 72 hours, I will be boarding a plane to begin the final segment of this great adventure. 72 hours. Wow. I can't believe the time is finally here. In less than a week, I should be holding my daughter in my arms again! I am so happy and excited, yet oddly calm at at the same time.
Of course, over the past week I've had several "freak-out" episodes. I have been so excited at the prospect of seeing HotDog again that I had glossed over many of the issues that could make this trip exhausting and difficult. Then last Thursday night I began to think about the details and suddenly became overwhelmed (it didn't help that Stu was leaving for a 4-day golf trip on Friday). I am taking this little girl out of the only world she has ever known; I think this is a good thing and that she will have a great life, but she doesn't understand any of that. All she knows is that she is no longer around any familiar people, sounds, smells, etc. She is going to be completely dependent on someone who is a complete stranger (I'm sure she won't remember that I visited her 4 1/2 months ago). How scary must that be for her? What if she is inconsolable? What if she cries non-stop? With both boys, we've had fairly easy initial transitions. But then again, they were both older and were able to interact and communicate with us. Also, Stu was with me on both return trips so I knew that I could at least grab a nap or a bite to eat and he could hold down the fort until I returned. This time it is just me. This little girl is going to need me to fulfill every single need for her, 24 hours a day. She is not going to understand that I am in a foreign country where hardly anyone speaks my language, where I have been encouraged not to venture out of the hotel as I am a single Caucasian female and will draw quite a bit of attention. There is no doubt in my mind that I can do this but it is a bit overwhelming to think about. If nothing else, the week and a half in-country with her should be a wonderful, if intense, bonding time for both of us before we return home to the chaos of daily life.
In addition to those fears, I have been trying to make a million decisions before I travel: Should I switch her to the American formula while I'm there or wait until I get home? How many clothes should I pack for a 6-month-old baby? What types of clothes? It looks like it is going to be cool during the days and very cold at night (not to mention that they don't turn on the heat until mid-October). How in the world am I going to pack everything for her, me, gifts, a donation of 30 pairs of shoes for the orphanage, snacks, etc. into one suitcase? I have not even wanted to think about the plane ride home with her. How in the world am I going to travel for over 30 hours by myself with a baby? What if I don't get the bassinet on the plane and I have to hold her for every single one of those 30 hours? What happens when I need to go to the restroom in those tiny little plane restrooms? Again, I know I will get through it, these are just some of the myriad of thoughts going through my mind.
I am definitely ready for this and getting more excited as the hours pass. My suitcase is packed, the carryons are prepared, my paperwork is ready. That leaves the next 72 hours open to have fun with my boys. They are currently on fall break so I have many activities planned for these last few days as a family of four. I am letting them each plan something fun to do: Chipmunk wants to see a new movie at the movie theater (still such a big treat for him) and Monkey has requested a trip to a popular pizza place whose mascot is a giant, somewhat creepy, rodent (I mean, how disgusting is it that their mascot is a rat?!!?). Today I think we are going to have a picnic and ride bikes through a nearby forest/wildlife refuge. It looks like the next 72 hours are going to fly by....

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

One Month

In one month, our little sweetie will be at home with our family forever. One month! I can hardly believe it. It is all starting to sink in that she is finally coming home. I love to go and sit in her (almost-completed) nursery and dream about the time in the not-so-distant future when I'll be able to go in and watch our little cutie as she sleeps. Our journey of almost two years is finally coming to a close so our new adventure as a family of five can begin! Yahoo!
We have been so busy lately with school, soccer practice and games, and enjoying this nice cool weather. Chipmunk has had a big couple of weeks; not only did he learn to ride a bike without training wheels, he also learned to tie his shoes (big help for mommy and daddy!), and has scored several goals in his first two soccer games. Monkey is right behind him every step of the way and is enjoying his first season of soccer as well. Where did my babies go?!?!
I'm sure I won't be around much before I leave in 17 days (17 DAYS!! Can you believe it!!!). I tend to go into "hibernation" mode when I'm faced with stress. I woke up this morning beginning to freak out a little bit. Not so much at the thought of going halway across the world and picking up our daughter...more so at the thought of everything I need to do before I leave. I know it will all fall into place but until I am on that plane and every last thing is ready I will probably be pretty quiet around these parts. I will definitely post one more time before I leave...in 17 DAYS!!!!
In the meantime, I'll add a couple more pictures of our little Kyrgyz cutie. One is our referral picture, taken when she was one week old. The other is the most recent we have of her, taken at four months old when some friends were at the orphanage. I can't wait to see how much she has changed over the past two months. By the way, our little girl is 6 months old today!! Happy 1/2 birthday sweetie!
P.S. I know many of you are curious about her name. I am uncomfortable with sharing private information about my children on this blog but if you would like to know her name, shoot me an email and I'll tell you. I think it definitely fits her:)
*Photos removed

Monday, September 1, 2008

Introducing HotDog!

Sorry for the delay in introducing our little girl; we took advantage of the holiday weekend to make a weekend trip to Atlanta to visit family.
Without further delay, we are thrilled to show you pictures of our beautiful daughter...I can't wait to kiss those chubby cheeks again!

*Photos removed

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Excitement is Building

Getting travel dates so far in advance of the actual travel has thrown me for a loop. Initially the thought of having eight or nine weeks until trip #2 sounded like such a long time...long enough that it didn't really motivate me to do much in the way of preparing for travel or for HotDog coming home. I mean, she could come home tomorrow if possible - we have a crib, diapers, bottles, etc. But knowing that we had two months didn't encourage me to put the finishing touches on the nursery, go through her dresser to see what clothes would fit/be in season, start getting my packing list ready. Now, however, I have only 38 days before I leave...38 DAYS!!! That is 5 1/2 weeks from now. That is not long at all and my mind is racing with all of the details I need to complete in the next few weeks, starting with airline and hotel reservations. Fortunately Stu has been in touch with our travel agent and seems to have a great flight for me that we are going to reserve today. Booking a hotel has been another problem; evidently there is a huge government official conference the week we will be in Bishkek and most hotel rooms have been booked for months. But I think one of my travel mates has come to my rescue and booked hotel rooms for both of us at a fairly new hotel that we checked out on trip #1. We are waiting to hear a confirmation back from the hotel. So with those two big things out of the way, I can focus on the details I've been neglecting - checking the weather to figure out what clothes I'll be taking (we are expecting new measurements for HotDog this week so I'm waiting to see what size she'll be in ***edited to add: Holy smokes, my five-month-old baby weighs almost 17 pounds!!! I better start lifting the weights now), figuring out how to pack a big donation of shoes for the orphanage (more on that in the next post), making meals to freeze so we'll have some dinners ready after we get home, scheduling appointments at the pediatrician/international adoption clinic for HotDog in the days after we get home. So much to do and 38 days definitely doesn't seem like long enough now! I wake up each night with my mind racing trying to think about what I've forgotten; I think my body will be used to getting up in the wee hours of the morning for those nighttime feedings:) But it is SO much easier planning for this trip, knowing Stu will be home with the boys so we don't have to deal with childcare/scheduling for them. That is such a relief.
So after a long journey, I am finally starting to get excited and cannot wait to hold my daughter in my arms again. Only 38 more days until the adventure begins!!!

Also, check back later this week...our 30-day after court will be over and I can finally introduce you to our little girl!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Pride and Prejudice

Our family has been enjoying watching the Olympic coverage for the past week. Our Monkey, of course, loves to watch gymnastics and then tries to attempt many of the flips he has seen. I wouldn't be surprised if there is a trip to the emergency room in our immediate future:)
Chipmunk is enjoying basketball, soccer and particularly swimming. He is fascinated by how fast the swimmers are and is talking about joining the swimming team next year. It has been really neat to see Chipmunk cheering on the Russian competitors too. He has always been very interested in Russian history/culture/language and constantly looks at the pictures and video of our trips to Russia when meeting him and picking him up. He is so proud of his Russian background and we are always trying to encourage his interest in learning more about country where he was born. It has been wonderful for him to get the chance to watch and cheer for "his teams", as he calls both the Russia and US competitors. We also been thrilled to cheer for the small group of athletes from Kyrgyzstan. While there are only a few athletes from this country (and they compete in events that haven't been broadcast), two of them have won medals.
While Chipmunk has been feeling such pride in his Russian heritage, he has also started to understand that not everyone shares his enthusiasm. Over the past week Chipmunk has overheard many comments about Russia's conflict with Georgia. He first heard about it on NPR; the boys never pay attention to news radio but I guess he heard the word Russia and his ears perked up. He was concerned because he thought they were invading Georgia in the US, where one of his favorite aunts and cousins live. I gave him a brief synopsis of what was happening and he didn't question it further. Since then, however, we have had two different incidents where some adults have been discussing it and been very critical of the Russians. It is one thing to have an educated discussion about what is happening in eastern Europe; it is quite another thing to call all of the Russians "idiots", "bullies", and believe that the Russians need to "be blown off the face of the earth." I know that many people from older generations have a deep dislike of the former Soviet Union. But it makes me sad to see them passing these stereotypes down to the children and grandchildren. We were in the store a few days ago, in the school supply aisle, looking at a world map. If there is a map around, my boys have to find Astrakhan (Russia) and Kyrgyzstan on it. Chipmunk was so happy to be able to find Astrakhan without any help and shouted it a little loud. Another little boy, who couldn't have been more than 8 or 9, told him that Russia is where all the bad people lived. I know I should have tried to correct him but I did not want to get into a debate with a little boy (and his father, who looked really rough around the edges), so I walked away and tried to explain to Chipmunk and Monkey how some people aren't very happy with some things that Russia is doing, but that doesn't mean that the people in Russia were bad or mean. It is such a hard concept for a 5-year-old to understand. I know I can't insulate my boys from the opinions of some of the idiotic, uneducated people that they will face in the world; I can only continue to encourage their love and pride for the Motherland. But I was really hoping for a few more years before they were faced with this type of criticism. Sigh.....
Onto good news, only 46 more days until I leave for HotDog! I am really getting excited now!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

See You Soon!

I am happy to say that we now have official travel dates to pick up our HotDog!! At the beginning of October I will travel to Bishkek and she'll be in my arms forever. While these dates are a bit later that we had anticipated, we are thrilled to finally have an end-date in sight. It gives us plenty of time to plan for childcare, prepare the nursery, and get Chipmunk and Monkey ready for their baby sister. Up until now I think it has been more of an abstract concept for them. Now we can really start to help them understand what it will be like to have a baby around the house.
In less than two months, I will be with HotDog again!!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Blog Awards



I just found out that Mom to 2 Angels has given me a Brilliant Blog Award. I am so touched. She has a handsome son from Russia and a gorgeous girl from Kyrgyzstan. She has been such an inspiration to us as we've gone through this adoption.

I am supposed to answer these questions starting with every letter of the alphabet and then pass the award on to other brilliant bloggers:


A. Attached or single? Happily attached


B. Best friend? Stu


C. Cake or pie? Cake


D. Day of choice? Sundays (Stu lets me sleep in as late as I want, hence my answer for letter B.)


E. Essential item? It is a close call between Diet Coke and chapstick


F. Favorite color? Blue


G. Gummy bears or worms? Bears


H. Hometown? Bardstown


I. Indulgence? Ice cream in any form, shape, or flavor.

J. January or July? January - I so much prefer cold weather over the sticky, humid days of summer


K. Kids? 3 (i LOVE being able to say that!!)


L. Life isn’t complete without? Hugs and kisses from my boys each night


M. Marriage date? 05/13/00


N. Number of brothers & sisters? One older brother, one younger brother...yes, I am one of those dreaded middle children:)


O. Oranges or apples? Yuck, really the only two fruits I don't care for


P. Phobias? Spiders


Q. Quotes? It could always be worse. My mom always said this; I can't even count how many times I've chanted this quote to myself throughout this long adoption journey. It's become my own personal mantra

R. Reasons to smile? After almost two years, we finally have a daughter!!


S. Season of choice? Fall, followed closely by winter.


T. Tag seven peeps! (see below)


U. Unknown fact about me? I have an incurable addiction to....ice. I adore crushed ice and honestly can't pass a Sonic (hands-down the best ice on the earth), without feeling a physical need to go through the drive-through for a diet coke with an extra cup of ice. That got expensive, so now I just buy their bags of ice.


V. Vegetable? I'm a veggie fanatic. My favorites would be brussel sprouts and lima beans.


W. Worst habits? I usually start many different projects at one time, then get frustrated I don't have enough time/patience to finish them.


X. X-ray or ultrasound? ummmmm, ultrasound I guess??


Y. Your favorite food? Italian


Z. Zodiac sign? Sagitarius

Now for my Brilliant Blogger Awards:


Okay, I know I'm supposed to give this award to seven fellow bloggers. But I hate to single out just a few of the blogs that I follow. There are so many amazing families out there and I love being able to share in their journeys.
When I began this blog, it was simply an easy way to keep my friends and family updated about our adoption journey. I never expected to make so many genuine, true friendships. The adoption blog community is an amazing circle of people full of such special families. I am honored to be one of them.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

We Have a Daughter!

You have no idea how long I have waited to say that!! Yes, it is finally official...we have a beautiful 4-month-old baby girl. We learned yesterday afternoon that our case went to court yesterday morning and we had been approved to adopt our HotDog. Yahoo!!! Words cannot express how happy and relieved we are. Of course, as with everything in this adoption, something good cannot happen without being followed by a bit of bad news. Up until now, we would wait the 30-days (which is standard after court decisions in Kyrg), then an additional two weeks for the child's passport. However, we heard yesterday that it is currently taking two months to get the child's passport ready, which means we will be waiting an extra two-to-three weeks. So it looks like I'll be heading back to pick up OUR DAUGHTER (it is so cool to say that!) at the end of September. While I am sad that it will be two more months before we can pick her up, I know it will fly by. Considering that we will have been working on this adoption for two years when she comes home, two more months is a drop in the bucket. Now I can finally start working on her nursery again (I shut the door and didn't think about it while we were experiencing the delays)...and yes, Christen, I promise I'll post some pictures of it:)
In the meantime, I'll offer you a sneak peek at our little girl; I don't feel entirely comfortable posting her picture until the 30-days is up and the paperwork is signed. Once the 30-day wait is over, I'll be plastering her picture everywhere!

A little camera shy

So tiny in Daddy's arms!

Mommy's little cuddle-bug

Monday, July 28, 2008

Bittersweet

A few days after my last upbeat post, my attitude took a nosedive. I know exactly what caused it too. We got updated pictures and measurements on our little girl. We had some friends that were in Kyrgyzstan picking up their children (yeah!!) and they promised to get some new pictures of the waiting children. I was so excited about seeing her face again and finding out how much she has grown. I was checking my email every five minutes to see if they had arrived. Late last week we finally got them. I was overcome with emotion. There was that little face that I would recognize anywhere - that little button nose and rosebud lips. I fell in love all over again. We also got some new measurements for her; holy cow she is one big girl! She seems to be gaining about two pounds every month and we can definitely see that in her big cheeks. Even her arms have little fat rolls in them. We are beyond thrilled to have these updates on her. We treasure every little detail we receive. However I was surprised to find myself feeling a little melancholy about these new pictures. I am SO happy that she is healthy and growing. But it is so bittersweet to see her getting bigger over there by herself, while we are sitting here, desperate to pick her up and bring her home.
I am praying we hear some news this week. Hopefully the judge will be back from vacation today and he'll schedule our court case ASAP. Then our 30-day wait after court will begin and we can make plans for going to pick up our little girl. In the meantime, we have one more week of summer vacation to enjoy.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Hot and Bothered

I know many of you are anxious to hear an update about our court date. Unfortunately, we don't have one. Early last week we learned that the judge hearing our case is on a 45-day vacation and not due back at work until next week (July 28th). So, we continue to wait. I could go on and on about all of the bureaucratic crap we've encountered during this adoption. I could rail against the continual political game that people play while innocent children are waiting in orphanages. I could wallow in self-pity and be miserable. But I'm not going to do any of those things. Instead, I am going to focus my energy on my rays of sunshine, Chipmunk and Monkey (and Stu too, of course). I am going to enjoy these last weeks of summer; school starts in two weeks...yikes! I am going soak in these last moments of calm (relatively speaking) before our family is turned upside-down (in a good way) with the addition of a baby. I am going to get HotDog's room ready for her long-awaited arrival. I am going to become a zen master and realize that the timeline for getting HotDog is completely out of my control.
I would love to be excited about this adoption again, but we've been thrown so many curveballs in this crazy process that I will not be jumping up and down with joy and excitement until I am sitting with that little girl in her bedroom in our house. In the meantime, we'll continue gazing at her pictures throughout our house (and we might possibly get updated pictures of her this week...yahoo!!), watching the video of our time with her in Kyrgyzstan, and loving these hot summer days with our two fantastic little boys.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Beach Boys

We are home from our beach vacation. We had a wonderful trip! We vacationed with our immediate family, my brother and niece, and several of my cousins and their families. We were a bit worried about how all of the children would get along during the week (we had a wide age range, from a new-4-year-old up to 12-years-old). But we had no problems at all. The kids all had a blast together and it was nice that there was always someone around with which to play, walk on the beach, dig in the sand, etc. The house we rented was right on the beach, which was nice since the Monkey woke up every morning by 7:00...that way I could take him on the beach for a nice long walk as we waited for the rest of the house to wake up. It was wonderful to have a lazy vacation where we literally did nothing more than hang out on the beach each day, all day long. The Monkey definitely preferred digging in the sand, while the Chipmunk became an expert with the boogie-board. We had a fabulous 4th of July too. We went to a parade on the island, where the kids had a great time waving the flags and gathering the candy that was thrown from the floats. Later that night, there were fireworks displays up and down the beach by our house. It was amazing. It went on for hours and seemed to surround us. I'm sure the kids will never forget it. While this wasn't a really relaxing vacation (but what would be with a 5-year-old and two 4-year-olds to watch??), it was nice to have one last trip as a family of four. As for the news on the adoption, we were scheduled to have court this week but got word today that the judge is sick so it has been delayed by a week. So we could really use some prayers and positive energy that it doesn't get delayed any further. Our baby girl is waiting for us and needs her family! This weekend, we will be heading to St. Louis for our old adoption agency's annual picnic. We look forward to attending this and seeing so many of the families that have brought children home from the same region as our boys. And we love to catch up with our travel buddies from the Monkey's adoption. It is amazing to see how much this kiddos grow from year to year.
I'll leave you with a few pictures of our vacation:

The boys on the beach with my niece

Chipmunk and Mommy

The Monkey lounging on the beach

Chipmunk digging in the sand

Monkey doing his best pirate impression

Happy beach boys

Ready for the parade

Monkey and Mommy

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Lazy Days of Summer

Long time, no post. I know it has been a long time since my last post; I keep telling myself I need to write an update. But as we sit on our deck each night, watching the boys try to catch fireflies, the last thing I want to do is come inside and sit in front of my computer. We are having a wonderful summer full of swimming, trips to the zoo, working in the garden, hanging out with cousins, and playing in the yard. We are outside by 9:00 each morning and we literally have to drag them inside each night for a quick bath and bedtime. It is positively delightful and utterly exhausting. We are having the time of our lives. I am constantly amazed at how blessed we are to have two such happy, beautiful boys. They are each others best friend (most of the time) and have such fun together. The Monkey has his big 4th birthday this week and we celebrated early last week with Stu's family. He was thrilled to receive a real guitar and a new big-boy bike. He hasn't put either of them down since. I'll include a few picture that are a better recap of the past few weeks:




I'll try to do a quick update on the Monkey's birthday before we head to the beach on Friday (yahoo!!). And we hope to have great news regarding the adoption soon after we return from vacation.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Nothing New

Nothing much to say other than this wait is horrible! We are missing our baby girl SO MUCH and can't wait to hold her again. The wait was never this hard with the boys; I'm assuming because we had definite return dates with them and the wait was only about five weeks...not several months. We are anxiously awaiting to hear when our court date will be but don't expect it to happen before the end of June at the earliest. We were fortunate enough to get some updated pictures of our little one last week. Our good friend is in the country right now visiting her soon-to-be daughter and was able to take a couple of pictures of HotDog for us. She is as cute as ever and looks to be losing a little bit of her hair. Maybe when new hair grows in it will lay down a little bit:) Thank you so much Maria! You can't imagine how much we appreciate these little glimpses of our girl as we wait.
The boys finished their school year earlier this week. Yahoo!! We are going to have such a fun summer. Of course, right now our area is being bombarded by cicadas that attack you as soon as you walk outside, so our outside time is limited. Both of our nieces (both are close in age to our boys) have spent a lot of time at our house this week which is great. They play great together (for the most part) and it gives me extra time to start working on the nursery. I have started to putting some of her clothes away in the dresser. They are so cute and teeny tiny and pink. I love to sit in the glider and just imagine what it will be like to have HotDog home. Such wishful dreaming.
Only three weeks until the Monkey's 4th birthday! Only three weeks and one day until we leave for the beach! Summer life is good.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Catch-Up




After being home for a week, we are finally back to our normal schedule and have caught up on everything we missed while we were in Kyrgyzstan (sleep, mail, laundry, etc). I was concerned that the boys would have a few adjustment problems after our absence. I thought they may be more clingy or whiny than usual, but so far no problems. For the first 24 hours after we got back, the Monkey would come up and hug me every 2 or 3 minutes, almost as if making sure that I was actually there. So cute!
They are super-excited about their baby sister and can't wait until we bring her home. They were so proud to take her picture to school to show all of their friends. Of course, most of their friends were confused as to why they just had a picture and not an actual baby sister. I'm sure both of their teachers had several adoption-related questions that day!

We are head-over-heels in love with our little girl and are constantly looking at her pictures. She is adorable and we are amazed that she is actually going to be our daughter. We are so lucky! I know many of you are anxious to hear details about her; unfortunately we can't share much until she is officially ours. If all goes well, we will go to court in early July (our coordinator does this in our place; we don't have to be present for court). After every court decision in Kyrgyzstan, there is a mandatory 30-day wait before it becomes official. It takes about a week after official court decision to get various pieces of paperwork together and then I'll be able to go back and pick her up. So if everything goes according to plan, I'll be flying over in early August to bring our little HotDog home. After a lot of discussion, we've decided that I'll make this trip alone. The trip will end up being about two weeks again and we simply don't feel comfortable leaving the boys for such a long stretch so soon after our first trip. Plus, the Chipmunk will be in Kindergarten by then and won't be able to miss school like he did during this trip. In addition, Stu doesn't really have the vacation days for another big trip like that. While I felt comfortable with this decision all along, Stu was unsure. However, after this trip he agrees that it shouldn't be a big deal. I made sure that I could do everything on my own (airport transfers, money-exchange, buying groceries, etc.). Hopefully, we'll also be traveling with other families so I should have company. Our only big concern is the trip back home with her. It ends up being around 24-hours of traveling which is a lot for one person, much less having an infant to take care of. I'm sure it won't be fun but this is the right decision for our family.

So many people have asked if it was so hard to leave her. I want to say "yes, it was horrible," but it honestly wasn't too bad. Of course we would have loved to bring her home with us but we knew going into it that it wasn't a possibility. This is our third time doing this so I suppose we don't know any differently. We were so homesick and anxious to see our boys that we were happy to leave. My feeling was that we had two little boys at home that knew we were gone and missed us terribly, while HotDog is so little and has no idea what is going on. We were also thrilled with the care she is receiving at the orphanage. We know she is in good hands while we are gone. And we know several other families that will be visiting the orphanage in our absence so we hope to receive periodic updates on her too.
It has been almost a week and a half since we saw her and my arms already feel that ache to hold her again. I know it will get much harder as the summer progresses. But we have a lot of fun plans this summer (including a family trip to the beach in a month...yeah!!) so hopefully the time will fly. I also need to start working on her nursery and gathering baby items that we will be borrowing from friends/family. Plus, it's time to go clothes shopping! I've been eyeing baby girl clothes for SO LONG and now that we finally know her size there will be no holding me back now.

I'll leave you with a picture of Stu and me in front of Burana Tower. The history of Kyrgyzstan is incredible and the landscape is breakthtaking. We will be forever changed by our travels to this country.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Home Sweet Home

After an uneventful 28 hours of travel, we are home. We are still catching up on sleep and laundry. We are thrilled to be with our boys again and missing our little girl like crazy.
I'll post a detailed update soon.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Homeward Bound

We had our final visit with HotDog today. It was bittersweet. We love spending time with our little one, but we are anxious to get back home to our little boys. It has been a long two weeks and we are definitely homesick. On a positive note, Stu was able to get our first big smile out of HotDog this morning. She is so cute! It will be a long couple of months until we can come back and pick her up; I can't imagine how much she will change in the meantime. But we do feel good knowing that she will receive excellent care and attention in our absence. The caretakers really love those little children. We left a disposable camera so we hope they will take periodic pictures of her so we can have a little piece of the time we were away. And we hope to get updates/pictures from other families that will be visiting their children between our trips.
We're off to pack our bags now. Our plane leaves in exactly twelve hours (not that I'm counting or anything). If there are no delays (a big "if", I know), we should arrive home late Sunday night. I hope to post some pictures and a recap of our time here once we get settled back home.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Quick Update

It's Allison again. We were able to visit HotDog again this morning. She gets cuter every time we see her. I swear, her cheeks have gotten bigger in the week and a half we've been here and she is developing quite the little double chin. It is amazing how much she has developed since our first visit. She is so much more alert now and holding her head up better. They were just finishing giving her a bath when we arrived and let me tell you, based on her screams, that little girl does NOT like the water. But she smelled so good when they brought her in to us. I think our baby girl is starting to recognize us now too. For the past couple of visits, she cries every time we lay her back in her crib as we leave. Of course, Stu picks her back up to give her an extra hug and kiss and she immediately calms back down. We have one more visit with her on Saturday before we leave; I don't even want to think about how difficult that goodbye is going to be.
Other than that, not too much going on. Stu has been fighting some major sinus/headache stuff (which is surprising, since I'm usually the queen of sinus infections).
We were able to meet up with John Wright and his family on Monday. What an amazing bunch of people. It was one of the most incredible days of my life. We were able to visit a privately-run orphanage for older children (4-years-old and up). It was so much fun. All of the kids are beautiful and were eager for hugs and attention. We fingerpainted with them and all had such a good time. I will never take such a simple act of fingerpainting with Chipmunk and Monkey for granted again. The joy this activity brought to those children was unforgettable. We also visited the Baurana Tower. It was breathtaking. It was hard to even wrap my mind around the history of this place. Words can't even describe how life-altering this day was for me. John has a few pictures up on his blog (www.actofkindness.blogspot.com). I thank God that there are such people as John Wright and his family in this world. The work he does for those in need is simply incredible.
Other than that, not much going on here. We switched to a new apartment. After the fiasco with the electricity, the fridge, and finally losing water, we decided it was time to switch. Our new apartment is very near the center of the city so we can walk down to the main street with the big stores, more restaurants, etc. We are getting quite homesick and are counting down the days until we can go home to Chipmunk and Monkey. Only four more days!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Husband of the Year!

The only thing I want to tell everyone is that I have the most wonderful, sweetest, cutest husband on earth. I go to bed everynight saying prayers of thanks.
Allison

Ok, she might not have said that exactly, but it was close. Since it's Mother's Day I am giving my wife the day off from blogging. This is Stuart here, wonderful father to the Chipmunk, Monkey and now HotDog.

To my boys at home, my mother, Nana, Nanny and the other approximately 12,000 family members, friends and fellow adopters, who are reading this, we miss you all very much and can't wait to get home. I hope everyone has/had a great Mother's Day. All of you guys are in our thoughts.

To all of Allison's blog friends, this will be the first time (and probably last after she reads it) you will hear from me so hello. I can't say that I've ever been on anyone's blog or traded emails with most of you, but I feel like I know you. Our nightly dinner conversation always contains the latest information of referrals, travel dates, agency compliments (and complaints) and a general update on all the wonderful kids.

So now to the details everyone is here for......We have visited HotDog the past three days (Friday to Sunday). She is doing great. It goes without saying that she is the most perfect, most beautiful, sweetest little girl on earth. It was really cool for Allison to get to spend time with her today on Mother's Day. I like to pretend that she will eventually be Daddy's little girl, but inside I know better. I can tell already by the way HotDog looks at her mother and how Allison looks at her daughter. They are a match made in Heaven.

We have been feeding her a bottle every day which takes about 45 seconds. She is like a vaccuum. It's amazing to watch. I even videotaped it today. She gets the hiccups after every feeding. At first, I thought it was something I was doing wrong, but after Allison fed her today she got them. So at least I know it's not something I'm doing. The weather this weekend has been great here. The last two days we have been allowed to take her outside out of the stuffy buildings. She really likes being walked around. I know that will come back to haunt us when she comes home, but we can't help it now.....

We bought a mobile at a kids store the other day and I installed it on her crib today (actually most of the physical work was done by our translator). She really loved watching it move and all the bright colors. She seemed to really try to hold her head up today. She seems to really be attracted to the color blue (UK FAN in the making!). We met again with the doctor yesterday and again she confirmed that she is a very healthy little girl. She seemed to have a bit of a runny nose, which will make her fit in very well with the boys and Allison.

We have seen several other children here that have already been referred and visited and others that are in the works. The caregivers are very excited to show off kids whose parents are in process of adopting them. All the kids are so cute. To you parents-in-waiting out there, please know and trust that your children are being taken care of very well. I can't tell you how much relief this gives us as we are getting closer to coming home.

Ok, enough of the sappy stuff. To close I'd like to give you the top five things to do while on a 12 hour layover in the Moscow airport......
5. Set a world record on hand-held Tetris of 357 lines.
4. Get lung cancer from second hand smoke from the 14,000 people smoking.
3. Talk with missionaries from Oklahoma for 3 hours.
2. Spend 45 mintues searching every little shop and snack cart for a "Coke Light".
1. Fall asleep in the middle of eating lunch from a combination of jetlag, overdosing on sleeping pills and general exhaustion from the entire process.

So that's it for my first and probably last blog post. I have to admit this is really harder than it looks. Again I hope everyone had a great Mother's Day and please keep saying prayers our trip continues to proceed so well. Also say an extra one for all the kids out there still waiting to meet their parents.....

Stu

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Sights and Sounds

I wanted to post a quick update about the past couple of days. We aren't able to visit HotDog again until Friday, so we have had time to explore Bishkek. Yesterday we took a long walk down the main street by our apartment. We took our time and just observed the sights, sounds, and smells. We visited the outdoor market across the street and Stu bought a lot of fresh fruit and veggies. We also made a trip to the grocery store and stocked up on some provisions (including Diet Pepsi...Woohoo!!! I had been going through withdrawal since we arrived without my Diet Pepsi). We thought we did a good job with reading labels until we arrived at the apartment and found that what we thought was a cheese spread was actually cheese-flavored butter:)
Last night we went to a nearby restaurant for dinner. We sat outside and just watched the crowds go by. The weather is perfect so I think everybody was out taking walks with their children. Stu and I sat there and stared at every baby that crossed our paths. They are all so beautiful.
Today we were lucky enough to be able to go up into the mountains for a little hiking with two of the other couples with whom we are traveling. The scenery was breathtaking; we were surrounded by snow-capped mountains and our trail was full of streams with some of the clearest water I've ever seen. Stu and I have been to many places around the world, and I have to say that this place is the most beautiful I've ever visited. I have some amazing pictures I'll share when we get home. We then went to a huge outdoor bazaar where we were able to barter for some wonderful traditional Kyrgyz items. We finished the day with a great Italian meal with one of the other couples.
Now we are going to head to our apartment and hopefully watch a few episodes of Arrested Development before the electricity is shut off. Several of you have asked about the electricity problem: Evidently they are having a massive energy shortage so they are doing rolling shutoffs. Unfortunately for us, that means that our electricity is out usually between 2:00 until 6:00 in the afternoon and then again between 12:00 and 6:00 in the morning. Of course, that is not set in stone because the other night our electricity went off at 9:00 at night and didn't come on until the next morning. We have a candle by our side all of the time because we never know when the lights are going out.
I think we're shopping more tomorrow (said as Stu groans beside me). We're actually just trying to kill time until we get to see HotDog again on Friday. But we are having the time of our life. We have absolutely fallen in love with the city and country and can't wait to explore it more.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Greetings from Bishkek!

We are here! We arrived early Sunday morning after a long, but uneventful journey. I slept away most of the first day so I think I've gotten over most of the jet-lag and am on Kyrg time now. We have a nice apartment (although the electricity is cut off from midnight until 6:00a.m. every day) that has two bedrooms, a little kitchen, and a living room that has a TV with several English channels, including ESPN...Stu is is heaven!
Now on to the important stuff: We met our HotDog this morning! She is beautiful. She has the biggest cheeks I've ever seen on a baby and the cutest little lips ever. She already has the "pout-lips" mastered and Stu realizes that he is putty in her hands. We were able to spend two hours with her and she slept the entire time, despite my best efforts to wake her and catch a glimpse of her eyes. I was even able to feed her a bottle, and boy, can that girl eat! Even though she was asleep while she was eating it, she managed to suck it down in less than two minutes. If she continues to eat like that, we are going to have to take out a second-mortgage just to keep paying for formula:)
Our Chipmunk will be thrilled to know that she does indeed have hair. That was his biggest concern and it drove him crazy that in our referral picture she had a cap on and he couldn't tell. Although she was bundled up today with a hat on, I snuck a peek and saw beautiful, thick black hair.
She seems to be very healthy and is gaining weight rapidly (though most of it is in her cheeks, I think). We were thrilled with the condition of the orphanage too. It is very clean and colorful. The caretakers absolutely adore the children and are so happy to see them with families.
So far, this trip has been great. We aren't able to visit HotDog again until Friday so we have a few days to go out and explore this wonderful city. On Wednesday, we are going to make an excursion into the nearby mountains and we are very excited about that.
I'll post an update again soon.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Leaving on a Jet Plane

In just about twelve hours, Stu and I will be heading to the airport to begin the long journey to Kyrgyzstan. The boys are packed and anxious for some fun time with grandparents, the plane tickets and passports are ready to go, and Stu and I....need to pack. We always have a great plan for packing our bags early and getting a good night's sleep, but it somehow never happens. Not to worry, though; I do have a detailed packing list and all of our clothes are freshly laundered. It is just a matter of going through and deciding what to bring.
I think I am finally starting to believe that this is really going to happen.
Our next post will be from Kyrgyzstan!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Preparations

We have less than two days before we are leaving and I am starting to feel stressed. Everything is falling into place; we have plane tickets, we have a place to stay while we're there, childcare/schedule for the boys is in place. Stu and I never seem to pack for our trips until the night before but I have a good idea of everything that we need to take so I'm not concerned about that. I think it is just starting to hit me that we have to leave Chipmunk and Monkey for 2 1/2 weeks!! I have absolutely no doubt that they will be taken care of (and spoiled rotten, I'm sure) and will be absolutely fine. But it is such a long time for both of us to be away from them. I'm already starting to get emotional about the thought of dropping them off on Friday morning (and I am definitely NOT the emotional type at all). I'm going to be a basket case by the time Friday morning rolls around. I do feel better knowing that at least they will be together and we hope to call them often (if that doesn't upset them too much).
But underneath that, I am starting to get a little excited about our impending journey. I can't wait to hold our little one in our arms!! We did find out that we will most likely only be able to go visit her every other day during our trip; evidently, the baby home doctor is concerned about outside germs since our little one is so young. We are a little disappointed about that but if we've learned nothing else through this adventure, it is definitely to go with the flow. This will leave us with lots of time to get to know and explore her birth country.
We were unable to get hotel reservations because of the short notice, so we will be staying at an apartment. Although we won't have internet access, there are several internet cafes nearby (so we've heard) so hopefully I'll be updating this blog while we are there.
Gotta run and spend some precious time with my boys. I'll write a short post before we head out.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Good News!

We have new travel dates! We'll be leaving on May 2nd and returning home on May 18th. One week until we are on our way. I better get busy!
I'll post more details in a few days.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Roller Coaster Continues

I was getting ready to write a post about how excited we were getting about our travels next week. Unfortunately, we just received word that a top official in Kyrgyzstan that works on adoptions has resigned and the entire adoption process within the country is going to go through an internal review. We have no idea what this means. It could be quickly resolved (the option that we are praying for) or it could drag on for a long time. One thing it does mean is that our trip next week is postponed indefinitely. Just as we were getting our hopes up that this was actual going to happen after 18 months, another roadblock appears. I'm sure that everything will work out and this is a temporary setback; I just need a little time to be sad and disappointed that we won't be meeting our HotDog quite yet.
I'll post when I know more.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

We're Back

The Monkey and I had a fabulous time in Florida. The weather was perfect; we did the beach every morning and then hit the pool in the afternoon. Of course, the Monkey being himself did not sleep much at all. So I came back from vacation more exhausted than ever. But it was really nice to get away and get a little one-on-one with him. While we were there, we were able to meet up with some friends that we've made during our adoption journeys. We've talked for a couple of years but had never met "in real life" so it was wonderful to meet them face-to-face. We were actually their reference family before they adopted their adorable son from Astrakhan (the same city our boys are from), and they were the family that introduced us to Kyrgyzstan. They brought home their beautiful daughter from Kyrgyzstan a couple of months ago. There are many cool parallels in our lives and it was great to see our boys play together. They are two peas in a pod (and amazingly enough, share the same birthday, although the Monkey is a year older). I can't even describe how wonderful it was to hold their daughter in my arms, knowing that in just a couple of weeks I'll be able to hold my own Kyrgyz girl close.
Speaking of which, we arrived home late Tuesday night to find an email from our agency with our travel dates!! We're expected to be in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) on April 27th and we will stay through May 11th. I can't believe we have only two more weeks before we are on our way to meet HotDog!! We have so much to do, like update paperwork, make childcare arrangements for the boys, book hotels/airline tickets. But surprisingly enough, we are not too overwhelmed at this point. I don't know if it's because this is our third time at this and we have a good idea of what to expect or if we are just burying our heads in the sand in the face of how much we need to do. Either way, who cares?!!? We are just so excited!!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Spring Break

I was really hoping to have an update for you, but I have no real news to post. We haven't heard about possible travel dates but are expecting them any day now.
We are still in shock that we have a picture of our little HotDog. We stare at it in amazement that she is really going to be our daughter. She is so cute and has the biggest cheeks! It all seems so surreal. But the moment we looked at her picture, we knew that she was meant to be with us. I felt like I had seen her face forever in my mind. It was incredible to be able to share that moment with Stu, too. The boys and I had been at the science museum all morning. On the way home, Chipmunk asked if we could stop by Stu's office since it was nearby. Even though it was naptime and we needed to get home, for some reason I said sure (which is surprising; this was only the second visit to his office in the year that he has worked there). We stayed for a short while and as Stu was walking us to the elevator, my cell phone rang with the news that we had a referral. We raced back to his office where we were able to view HotDog's picture for the first time all together as a family. It was such a special moment.
Anyway, I'm hoping to hear good news this week as to when we can go and visit our little one. Unfortunately, I won't be able to update the blog since the Monkey and I are headed to Florida in the morning for a little vacation. Of course, this was planned before we knew we'd be traveling to Kyrgyzstan so soon, but I think it will be good for the Monkey to have some one-on-one time with Mommy before he life changes forever with the addition of a baby sister. I've taken Chipmunk to Florida on big-boy vacations twice and figured it was time to take the Monkey. I'm really looking forward to the beach and sunshine.
I'll update with news as soon as I can.