Friday, August 31, 2012

Cookies (Trip 2, Day 5)

Today, Thursday, was our last full day of visits. Vita had to take a paper to the court, so she left us with you this morning. For some reason, you are wearing the same dress from Monday and Tuesday and not the dress from Wednesday. Maybe you got it dirty last night.

You dug right into the bag and found our craft of the day - headbands!

I had perfect images in my head of creating them and then leaving them in the corner to dry. I should have known better by now :) Before we even got to Step 1, you had glitter glue all over your hands.

So, in less than 5 minutes we were looking for the next activity. The rain this week has really been a dampener on our time together. We all love to be outside, but when it's this cold and rainy we can't go outside.

You found your juice box and after offerring mama and papa a glass settled in to multi task. You like puzzles and could probably do it yourself, but right now you get more enjoyment out of asking Mama where the pieces go and having me help you. 

We had kept this a secret from you for all our visits, but desperate rainy times in one small room call for desperate measures. We uncovered the sand table. You tried to be very careful, but you are 4 years old so a little sand ended up on the floor. Nothing we couldn't sweep under the curtains though. You spend a long time scooping sand through the waterwheel.

Soon enough Vita came back and it was time for lunch.

We went with Vita back to Globus this afternoon. We ate at their lunch buffet and talked some business with Vita. There was lots to discuss regarding court, what happens next and other matters.  Then we walked around and shopped a little. We bought Mama a bottle of nail polish for 17 rubles so she could fix her toes before court (open toed shoes). We also bought Sweet Girl a 99 ruble DVD of a local cartoon. We are employing every possible tactic to entertain a spunky 4 year old on a plane for 9+ hours!
When we got back to the orphanage, there was a meeting in our room so we waited in the peach room for you. We hadn't been allowed in here yet, so we took a look around. 

Vita had MORE paperwork to run around town, so she left us here by ourselves. We were to wait for the meeting to end and then wait for you to come up. Vita also told us that the director had asked for us not to come tomorrow afternoon. They were having an inspection and she did not want to cause more commotion with our visit. We were bummed, but we understood. This means though, that the last of the items we brought you were still at the hotel.

Finally, you arrived! I think they told you we were here and you hurried through lunch because the first 30 minutes of our visit were consumed with you eating!

First a banana...

And then the animal crackers!

We knew these last few minutes would have to tide us over for weeks so we tried to make the most of them. We took lots of pictures of you and tried to get lots of cuddles in. 

I thought this video of you stacking these rings was cute. It was obviously easy for you, but your little personality came out so much!

We once again explained that Mama and Papa had to leave for a few weeks, but we'd be back, just like before to see you. I promise baby girl, we will take you home soon!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Field Trip (Trip 2, Day 4)

Same routine again on Day 4 - we were picked up about 9:45 to head to the orphanage. You might wonder, "My goodness what do they do with their mornings if they don't leave that late!" Well, 9:45am here feels like 1:45am to our bodies. That means, no matter what time we go to bed, it takes lots of effort to drag us up at 8am. We turn on TV and somehow try to get the gist of an American program dubbed in this language. This morning we watched "Dual Survivor." Other choices have been Fear Factor, Back to the Future, etc. We have a mini fridge in the room so we buy milk at the market. We brought cereal from home because we are cereal snobs and couldn't find one here we liked. This week it is Frosted Flakes. Rob usually hops in the shower while I pretend I'm awake. We also have to have me shower, check emails from home, repack our toy bag for Sweet Girl, list out any questions we have for the day, prepare any gifts for new people that day (adoption center worker, etc) and then make sure our valuables are locked up and get out the door. It's tight every morning. 

Anyway, on to what you care about. This morning we got a new outfit out of sweet girl! She looked adorable with her pigtails and denim jumper. She found her little air rockets in her toy bag and pretty much knew right what to do. That held her attention for oh, 3 minutes. 

On the next pass through the bag she found her morning juice box. She used the ice cream dishes from the Playdoh set and poured Mama and Papa a glass. I have issue with drinking juice from something Playdoh touched, so when I said nyet, Sweet Girl drank it. 

Vita had to take a paper to the court so she left us alone for most of this visit. Poor Sweet Girl tried so hard to talk to us. She'd ask us questions and Rob would repeat the "words" back to her. She would get exasperated that she was asking a question and he was asking it back. 

When Vita got back she talked to the director and we heard some interesting news - we were being invited to go see the art exhibit the kids were in! It's pretty unheard of as far as all my research goes for the director, facilitator, adoptive parents and child to get in the same car and go somewhere! We left the morning visit excited about the afternoon.

After Kraft Mac n Cheese in the room for lunch,  we headed back to the orphanage. It was raining and pretty chilly so we weren't sure if the offer still stood or not. But when they brought Sweet Girl to us it was clear she was ready for a fieldtrip! We looked through our pictures again while we waited for the director. 

And then we were off into the rain!

Here's the exhibit. I think it's sort of a gallery for amateur or independent type exhibits. The hardest part was trying to act interested, trying to keep Sweet Girl from touching all the toys set up and trying to show the director we knew what we were doing (because court is on Friday and the director has to give her consent!

Mama and the star of the show!

Looking very confused as to where she is and where the doctor or airplane are (she only leaves the orphanage to go to the doctor and we've also talked with her about leaving with Mama and Papa to go on the airplane)

This doll that she's clinging too is a baby we brought her.

Spying some of her friends from the orphanage.

On the way out the door we tried to continue our displays of excellent parenting. I was carrying sweet girl (apparently her shoes couldn't get wet) and also holding my purse and an umbrella over our heads. All went well the whole block to the car waiting on the corner except I thought my arm was going to fall off. We got to the corner and I got the car door open, but couldn't figure out how to get her in, the umbrella down and all the logistics without a drop of water on anyone. Well, I decided to set her down on the pavement in front of me while I opened the door and shuffled her in. Except.. I set her down in the most massive torrential river of water that immediately washed over both our feet. She immediately started crying that her feet her wet. Oops. So then I had to get a crying wet child and me and the wet umbrella in the car. It was traumatic for me :) And where was everyone else in this? Waiting on the curb watching it all because there was no where else for them to go. A+ parent here!

We left and dropped the director off at home. Poor Sweet Girl started crying when the director got out. She thought we were taking her then. We explained that we were going back to the orphanage and we'd see her tomorrow. Might be a good preview of what's to come in several weeks!

 On the way back to the orphanage she continued to be very unengaged and didn't say a word or move.  We just looked out the window and watched the buildings pass in the rain.

That night Rob and I braved the rain and we walked around the mall and went to a souvenir shop we'd been to last time. The prices were pretty good and I had a couple things I wanted to pick up. We then did dinner at good old faithful, McDonald's and stopped by the Market before heading back to the room.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rain, Rain Go Away (Trip 2, day 3)

(I've posted a bunch right together so if you missed them, go check out day 1 and 2 below!)

Vita and Ilya picked us up at 9:45 this morning so we could try to the orphanage by 10. The weather here is rainy and cold for August (55-65*) so we haven't spent too much time outside. 

When we got there, Vita went and looked for you in your room, but they told us you were upstairs playing. When we got to the top of the stairs, you were in the peach room. You quickly came out to us. The peach room is a special room to me. When I found out what orphanage you were in, I spent hours searching for pictures of you. Your orphanage has a big peach ballroom type space where you have plays, host visitors, and have celebrations. I found you in a picture in the peach room and when I'd find other pictures of the same room I knew I was on the right track to find more pictures of you!

Speaking of pictures of you, about a month ago, I found out that a local photographer had come to your orphanage to take pictures of all the kids for a display he was doing on Children. I found a news story with a video about it and saw the most adorable picture of you! I couldn't share it here because there were too many identifying details and I didn't want to get in trouble.

But yesterday, the director of your orphanage brought us a picture book. She explained about the art exhibit. She said that they blew the picture of you up very large and it was the centerpiece of the show and everyone thought you were so beautiful! We already knew that of course :) In this photo album were lots of other pictures of you from your time at this orphanage. There were lots we hadn't seen! I asked if we could have copies and they explained that this book would be given to us when we take custody - yay! It's still not a baby picture, but it's some of the youngest pictures we'll probably every get of you!

The first thing you went for in the bag this morning was the playdoh. Mama and Papa may have been too ambitious with the ice cream set though. It's becoming clear that you aren't given too many chances to "pretend". It seems like you prefer to pick one task and do it over and over rather than try out new things. Or maybe, the ice cream set was just a little too old for you.

When you went back to get something else, you found your juicebox we brought! If we get the little juices from the market here we are allowed to give them to you so we take every chance we can get to get you a little more hydrated and get a few extra vitamins in you!

We brought this balloon set with a pump and long balloons like for balloon animals. You weren't interested in pretending anything (hence the hat on my head and not yours) but you enjoyed blowing up the balloons and then letting them go to watch them fly.

Here you said something very close to "Papa, I do it!"

And here you said something like "Papa help!" It's a big thing as far as getting comfortable with us. On our first trip, you would sit for a long time and try yourself. Slowly, the time it takes you to realize we won't steal your toy or take it away and ask for help is decreasing. 

And surprise, we made our way back to the bubbles. Today you went to the animals set up at this little table and blew bubbles on them. You were especially thrilled when they would land on the animals without popping.

We finally convinced you to sit still long enough to take a new family picture! Soon we will get Audrey and Harper in one too so we can have everyone together!

We came back to the hotel and ate a can of soup we brought for lunch and watched tv. There are no english stations, but it's still something. Then we took a little nap because we're still so tired from no sleep the day before. 

We made our way back to the orphanage at 3:30 today for our next visit! You said you ate a good lunch and took a good rest.  This afternoon, you also said that you were excited to ride in the car and on the airplane with mama and papa. You said you were excited to go home with us to your new house! I don't think you know what that means, but I'm happy that it seems they are talking about it with you and at least you don't appear to be scared yet! 

This is a video of you going through the photo album of all your pictures from the orphanage. I hope it works for everyone!

You found your new afternoon toy (sidewalk chalk) and we got your first drawing. You made lines and shapes very well, but weren't interested in changing colors or drawing too long. We asked Vita to ask you what you drew, but you wouldn't tell her. I'm voting for "cow". If so, you and your cousin Benjamin will get along great since cows are his favorite too!

Here are some other things we did to fill the afternoon.

We heard from a friend who adopted from this region earlier this year that this pizza place, "To-To" had good pizza. I asked Vita when we were leaving the orphanage if we could call a pizza in and pick it up on the way by. That created lots of trouble so we ended up just stopping to put the order in and paying to have it delivered to our room rather than wait 30 minutes for it.

We ended up with the "Margherita" pizza which was about an 80% match to an American pizza.

Now we are just hanging out until it's a respectable hour to go to sleep. I can't believe day 4 is tomorrow already! I hope the weather is nice for one of our visits tomorrow so we can go outside!

Bubbles! (Trip 2, Day 2)

The rest of Day 1-

I attempted to finish this last night, but after being up for 24 hours with just cat naps on the plane and in the car, I just couldn't do it, so here's the rest of Day 1.

We got on the plane and settled in. We felt like we had just finished our Chili's dinner, but within about 90 minutes of taking off, they started serving dinner. We had heard that the Delta food wasn't as good as the Aeroflot food, but it seemed about the same to us. Our choices were cheese tortolini or a baked chicken and vegetables. Here's Rob's chicken:

The flight was uneventful. The in-seat entertainment was better on the Aeroflot flight, but this was fine. It felt like there were a few more movie choices, but they also had some pay movies. When it got dark outside, we attempted to nap.

Fast forward some sore bottoms and tired hours later, we got to Day 2!

Day 2:

About 90 minutes before we landed they served breakfast. It was a banana, orange juice and some sort of hot pocket breakfast burrito with egg and sausage. Meh.

We arrived at the big airport at about 9:30am, 30 minutes ahead of schedule. We knew where we were going and what line to get in to go through passport control this time. We quickly made it to baggage claim and then waited, and waited, and waited. Finally our bags showed up and we went through customs. Rob knew this time to not make eye contact and keep walking so he wasn't pulled aside this time.

As soon as we went out, there was Vita waiting for us! Such a welcome sight!

We went out and were excited to see Ilya was our driver again. We had requested him, but never got confirmation of if he was available. They all drive like crazy people, but we had grown attached to Ilya and his broken English and talk of cars and technology. We are also learning that Ilya can understand almost everything we say.

We got into the town with the orphanage in under 3 hours this time (it was over 4 on the first trip because of traffic). We checked into the hotel and unpacked a little until it was 3:15 and time to go visit our Sweet Girl. Not the most perfect first picture, but after hugs, she went straight for the bag of toys.

We had a brief diversion with the markers, but very quickly we settled on bubbles. We initially told her we couldn't play with the bubbles inside, but the weather is cold and rainy here this week so we weren't sure we'd get to use them. The director of the orphanage stayed for our visit this time and chatted with Vita and at some point she allowed us to use the bubbles inside. After she saw the floor, she might have regretted that decision!

We tried markers again, but she was more interested in cutting the paper up into strips and squares. We were a little nervous she'd cut herself or try to cut her hair/clothes, but she was pretty good. Made us nervous though! We haven't had court yet we can't injure her!

When Papa started taking more pictures, she remembered the camera too and took about 30 pictures of her surroundings. She'd frame it in the viewfinder and then while she tried to push the shutter, she'd always lower the camera. So, we have lots of shots like this:

It was sooo good to feel her again. She's still a little skiddish on touches and affection, she can't tolerate it for long, but I try to get some snuggles in real fast. I think that once we take custody of her we are going to find out that she's learned to be so independent as a defense. I think our attachment is going to be a hard fought battle. We're ready though and we certainly won't give up.