Saturday, January 30, 2010

Best Day of my far

WOW--where do I begin---my first day as a mother is over and I have a little angel sound asleep in my bed.

The day started out with going to some official office and signing my life away again and then we got the adoption decree and the new birth certificate that states my name as Hannah's mom. that was pretty cool to see.
Then back to the hotel to wait--I was so anxious.
They brought Hannah to me in the hotel lobby at about 11:00--when she walked through the door and saw me, she tried to hold back and she wasn't real keen on coming to me at first but she did stay with me. My friend Janet was there to film it for me but I haven't watched it yet. That initial meeting was the hardest part of our day so I am not sure I want to see it just yet.
I was supposed to take her upstairs to change her clothes and then give them the orphanage clothes back so I rushed off with Hannah in tow only to get to my room and find out that I had left my purse, camera, and room key down in the lobby--I had Hannah in my arms and that was all that mattered. So I had to go back to the lobby and they were ready to leave so they didn't wait for the orphanage clothes--they will pick them up on Monday.
And then we started our day together......
She loved changing into new clothes and especially her new shoes. We played around for a while and she got used to the room--the light switches have been on and off many many times but I have allowed that so I can't complain. In fact, we made a game of it. There were some "time Ins" where I held her on the couch--she purposely did things that she knew she wasn't supposed to and they were dangerous--like playing with the plug ins or climbing in the closet. She hated the time ins and after about three we didn't need any more.
I gave her apple juice which promptly ended up all down the front of her so that got her a shower-which she enjoyed except for the hair washing--and outfit number 2. Then mom washed her clothes in the sink as I don't have enough outfits to go through 2 every day.
For lunch I ordered her Borscht (beet soup) because I thought it would be something that would be familiar to her but she wouldn't touch it so it was just yogurt, oranges, and bread for lunch. I ate most of the Borscht--it is okay but not my favorite.
After lunch I tried a nap-that is her routine but she would have none of that. so on to plan B.
I took her outside to the ice sculptures just for some play time and to get out of the room. Once again she loved getting into her new snowsuit and boots and mittens--she loves mittens. We were out for about a half hour--she would have stayed longer but that is enough in this cold. We just ran around--she loved watching people and she got her first pony ride which she really loved.
Wendi and Trevor came over (from their apt.) with their son Nik to visit and then Janet and Craig came down also--I have the biggest room so we met here. Once other people came, Hannah got very quiet again and hung pretty tight to Mama which of course I was so happy about. She did play with Janet a little but always came back to me.
All 7 of us went to a restaurant for supper. Both kids did really well there. Hannah sat on my lap the whole time. I ordered a baked potato with sour cream for her because I know they eat that alot but again she wouldn't touch it. I had ordered spinach ravioli and she loved that so we shared.
After supper we played in the room some more and had fun again.
Her normal bedtime is 9:00pm so I got out her pajamas at 8:15 and changed her anticipating a long process. I put her pajamas on, put her in bed with no fussing, and read her three books, and then turned the lights out and got into bed with her--that was the only thing that caused fussing and she turned her face away and put her hands over her eyes. But she was too tired to fuss for long--she fell asleep while I was saying our prayers. The whole process was only about 10 minutes. I know every night won't be like this but it was a good first night--I do wish she would have been able to look at me while falling asleep but hopefully that will come also.
Now I just stare at her and can't believe this little miracle that is my daughter and is lying in my bed--How amazing is that?
It has been a long journey and I still can't believe I am here but the little person I hear breathing behind me is living proof.
I am a Mom!!!

Friday, January 29, 2010


There are three of us here on our second trip that have completed court and none of us got to visit our children on Thursday or Friday of this week so we stuck together. Both days started out leisurely and I got some reading done.

Thursday we met up for lunch at our favorite--Mama Roma's and had a great time. I found the book store I remembered from the first trip and got two books about wildlife in Siberia that has Russian and English explanations. Luke and Annika (my nephew and niece) are going to love looking at those and it will be a good thing for Hannah.
Then we headed over to Wendi and Trevor's apartment and watched movies in English. We took drinks and snacks and just sacked out there for the whole rest of the day. It was relaxing, comfortable, and fun. The walk home at night was a little cold but we are enjoying the fresh air.

On Friday morning I switched rooms in the hotel to a bigger one with a living area --to prepare for having Hannah with me. My small room just wouldn't do the trick--she needs room to play. It is really nice and I still have a view of the river.
Then Janet and I went out and purchased ballet tickets for tonight--that is right-- the Russian ballet in a Russian theatre.

We met another new couple today and they, like everyone else, are extremely nice. Unfortunately we just ran into them and they are leaving tomorrow. We all had dinner together at Bankok--great asian food. The company was really good and as usual the talk usually ends up centering around the children.--we all feel so blessed.

Janet, Craig, and I ended up being the only ones going to the ballet. The show playing was Anyota. I have never heard of it but it was simply magical. the music, dancing, and stage settings were all fabulous--a most enjoyable evening.
I am so glad that I got the experience and I can tell Hannah I went to a Russian ballet while I was waiting for her to come home!
Got home around 10:00 pm and now need to get to bed and rest up--the real fun begins tomorrow. Hope I can sleep.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My last visit to the orphanage

Had another good visit with Hannah--she is showing more personality and being a little more verbal but still pretty quiet for the most part. She seems really happy to be with me and still seems very happy to go with her caregivers also--I don't think she really gets that she will be leaving this place. I met a couple of her friends today and that was cool but sad because she will have to leave them behind. I was also able to see where she "lives" most of the time--her bedroom, play room, and where she eats, and where she goes to the potty--All I can say is that things will be very different for her. A very good change but a big adjustment anyway--for both of us I am sure.
Today was our last good-bye but I won't see her now until Saturday. Two full days of no Hannah--that will be tough but then she will be with me forever. On Saturday morning they bring her to me at the hotel, I change her into new clothes, and her new life begins. I am sure when she leaves the orphanage on Saturday it will be just like any other outing for her and she has no idea what is really ahead. I am excited enough for both of us but am overwhelmed by the feeling of responsibility of doing right by her. I know that this is the right thing and that we will have a great life together but there are still some things that scare me. Please reassure me that this is normal!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

shopping day!

Doesn't it look cold?

Just a short update today.
Had a very leisurely morning--slept until 8am and then spent the morning reading--finished a book by Nicholas Sparks--made me cry as he always does but it was very good. "At First Sight"
Had lunch with the Smiths--they had court today and are now the proud parents of a little boy.
Then Mrs. Smith and I went shopping for the afternoon--it was so so cold today but we walked all over anyway and it was fun. Just got a couple small things for Hannah and a couple gifts but didn't find too much.
We were so happy to get back to the hotel before we froze. We are getting together for dinner tonight but will stick to the hotel as it is too cold to go out again.
Tomorrow I get to visit Hannah again and this is the last visit that I will have to say Good-bye. It is getting closer.

Congrats to Julie Woods who was the first one to comment on my 100th blog entry--she has won a true Russian artifact that I will send when I get home. Thanks Julie and everyone else that has followed my journey and supported me with great comments.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Great visit with Hannah

Today is Dad's birthday so I always think of him --he would have loved my little girl and I am sad they don't get to meet but I know he is watching over me and nodding approval.

As I was waiting in the lobby for my coordinator to take me to the orphanage this morning, I met another American Couple--the Smith's. They are here on their second trip and have court tomorrow so they are just one week behind me. We are getting together this evening for supper with Trevor and Wendi--so some more new friends--it's great.

Today was a really good visit. Hannah seemed surprised and excited to see me and came running right into my arms with a big hug. She was actually pretty calm at the beginning of the visit and sat on my lap for a while but that didn't last long--she is a mover. They had various music classes in the room while we were visiting so other kids were coming and going. At times it distracted Hannah but she never wanted to join them. In fact she started pushing the other kids away when they came around me. She seemed much more attached to me today but also pushed me a little more than every before--a couple times doing things she knew she wasn't supposed to do and then looking at me for my reaction. She is a smart girl. She definitely wanted my attention today. She also said a few more words so it was nice to hear her talk as she almost never does. She was looking at family pictures and when I would ask "Kto eta?" or "Who's that?" she would always say Mama or Raisa so then I started pointing at my siblings and she started repeating their names after me--she only did Grandma, Teresa, and Kevin but that's a good start.
When our visit was over we said our good-byes and she was with her caregiver when I started picking up my stuff and all of a sudden she ran over and wrapped her arms around my legs--it was so wonderful. I hugged and kissed her until they said she needed to go and then she went happily. It is getting harder each time to leave--I should only have one more time when I have to leave her.
I have been having a hard time getting good pictures--I only brought my little pocket camera this trip and I am missing my better one. She moves so fast and the camera has such a delay from pushing the button that most of the pictures are of her leaving or moving away. I also miss the best smiles and laughs because they occur when we are playing and no one is there to take pictures of us. But I do usually manage to get a few good ones.

Gretchen wanted pics of my purchases so here they are:
This cross is filled with amber which is actualy amber colored and will be for Hannah when she gets older.

This jewelry is all for me--it is green colored amber and silver--bracelet, earrings, ring, and pendant.

The picture of the little chapel--the very first building in Krasnoyarsk in the 1600's. This will go in Hannah's room at home

I forgot to mention that this is my 100th post to this blog--to mark this event, the first person to comment will get a special gift from Russia.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday in Russian Church

This morning Tim and Iris and their two boys picked up me, Trevor, and Wendi and we all went to church together. I believe it was a Baptist church but I am not positive but it was definitely Christian. The service consisted of a lot of singing, some sermons, and some testimonies. It lasted two hours but did not seem like that. Iris sat right behind us and translated as they went so we got to hear thier messages in English and it was really cool.
What was so amazing to me was watching everyone in the packed church and to realize that 20 years ago they were not allowed to worship freely like this as they were still under communist rule. Watching the people, they are very serious through the whole service and Tim said this is normal--they do not look like they are having fun or are happy as to them religion and God is very serious--he said it is loosening up some but that it used to be against the rules to smile in church. It is just the Soviet way and change comes slowly.
The church we attended was built less than 15 years ago but I was surprised to hear that because it looked very old to me. Tim said they very wisely made it to look like the old style churches--they wanted to fit in with the culture because too much change can turn people away in Russia. So now they have a very thriving Church.
It was a really cool experience and probably not one that most people staying here for a short time get to have.
After church we all wet to Mama Roma's--our favorite restaurant and enjoyed good food and good company. The restaurant is about 6 blocks from the hotel and I choose to walk home--despite the cold it is nice to get some fresh air. I also stopped at my favorite shop on the way home and added to my jewelry collection again. I bought a piece that will be a present for Hannah when she gets older. I love the jewelry and I really like the young woman who sells it so it is fun to go.
I also found a canvas painting of the little chapel on the hill that was the first building in Krasnoyarsk and bought that to go in Hannah's room at home. I want her to know about Russia and be proud of her birthplace.
Now I am back home and will spend a quiet evening in my room--either reading or watching a movie.
Tomorrow I get to visit Hannah Raisa again--so looking forward to that. I wonder if she misses me.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Great Day with new friends

I had another great day in Siberia.
I have been spending most of my free time with Trevor and Wendi--the other couple adopting and through them have also met Tim and Iris--a missionary couple that live here in Siberia--Tim is originally from Wisconsin and Iris from Switzerland. They are just the coolest people and we went out to their house in a country village about 20 minutes away.
They built a fairly American home for Russia and said most of the neighbors thought they were nuts when it was going up.
Iris made us a fantastic home made meal for lunch and then we played outside (it was -22) with a little cross country skiing and some sledding. I couldn't ski because they didn't have any boots that fit me but the others just did it in their back yard so I could watch and take pictures the whole time.
Then we played indoor games with their kids and just sat around visiting long enough that we ended up staying for supper also.
Meeting them has really helped pass the time here, helped us to see a lot more of Russia, and really has been enjoyable.
We are going to church with them tomorrow--I think it is baptist but will be all in Russian--should be interesting.
I just feel very lucky.

Friday, January 22, 2010

End of first full week in Kras

I had a busy day today. Left the hotel at 7am for the orphanage and got to spend 3 hours with Hannah (she still goes by Raisa). It was a lot of fun because we got to be in with the other kids when the caregivers put on a puppet show--they did the story of the three pigs so even though it was in Russian, I knew what was going on the whole time. Hannah sat on my lap through the whole show. The other kids didn't seem quite as interested in me today--maybe the puppet show had them distracted enough.

When I got back to the hotel, I went to Wendi and Trevor's apartment and we met up with Tim Loomens--He is a really cool guy that lives here in Krasnoyarsk but is originally from Wisconsin. He took us to the central market which was pretty awesome. It kind of reminded me of a flea market in Arizona and then the inside part was a huge food market. They had much better fruit than the grocery stores. They also had tables of raw meat in large pieces. As you walked by the women would hold up a big piece and try to talk you into buying it. They would just chop off a piece if you wanted part. The meat was just lying out in the open and the women selling it were all using their bare hands to handle it--then they would just wipe their hands on the front of their apron and go onto the next piece for the next customer. It was really something but supposedly the best meat in town. Wendi and Trevor did buy some.

After the market Tim had to get home but we went out to eat again--to Mama Roma's which was very good again. Wendi wasn't feeling good--earache and sore throat and wanted antibiotics so we went to a pharmacy and I used my Russian to buy her some antibiotics (you don't need a prescription here). I did really well and ended up with a Z-pack for her. It was kind of weird. The drugs were really inexpensive also.

When we got back to their apartment in the evening, Tim came back to visit and we just had a good time sitting around visiting. tomorrow we are going to his place so I get to meet his wife and kids--should be really fun.

We must be getting used to below zero temps all the time because it didn't seem so bad today.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sort of feels like vacation

I didn't get to visit the orphanage today and wish I could have but otherwise it was another good day.
Saw the apartment that the other couple I know are at and it is pretty cool and actually very close to here. They invited me to stop by anytime so that's cool. We had lunch together at an Italian restaurant today that was very good. I had pepperoni pizza that tasted like home.
Aftwards I went to this cool little shop I found on my first trip and bought myself some really cool jewelry--the girl working there speaks English and remembered me from before. I am really excited with my purchase.
As I left she locked the store behind me because it was closing and I met another couple trying to come in. I used my Russian to say "zacreet" which means closed and they responded, "Oh, is it closed?" They spoke English and were American! They are also staying at the hotel and we had a very good visit. They are leaving tomorrow but we are having dinner together tonight.
I have to say this is a very nice city and it is fun to run into other adoptive parents--they are all pretty cool people.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Blustery weather

Very blustery here again today with new snow and lots of blowing. Encountered two accidents on the way to visit Hannah today. Had to sit in stopped traffic for about a half hour so our visit was cut short but the good news was that we were not in either accident!

Today was the first day at the orphanage that I saw other kids. They were all younger than Hannah but old enough to run around and several ran up to me. It was hard because I wanted to pick them up and pay them some attention but I also wanted Hannah to know that I was there for her and she didn't have to worry about other kids. Fortunately the caregivers would come and get them as soon as they ran up to us.
I did get lots of smiles and some hugs and laughs today but her eye contact is very short so that is something I hope to improve. Her favorite thing today seemed to be the photo album of my family. She looked at it several times during the visit and would point at each person and wait for me to say their name. I really noticed the language barrier today and realize that it is going to be tuff for a while. I think she will quickly learn how to get me to do whatever she wants--for right now that is okay with me.
Noon came all too soon and she happily went off with her caregivers again. Now I am bummed because I don't see her until Friday morning.

Got back to the hotel and had a message from my friends that they had moved to an apartment today. At first I was bummed but then found out it is in walking distance from here (even in this cold) and they still wanted to do a lot together. They walked back over here for suppper tonight. We ate at another good restaurant called the "Balken Grill". I have not been lacking for good food here. Tomorrow I will walk over to there place and we will explore that area.

Here's a couple pics from today.

Not a very good pic of me but isn't Hannah cute?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Let me Introduce you to...............

Born 4-8-2006
Adopted 1-19-2010

Other than me being very nervous the whole way through, the day went perfectly.
It started before court even when my coordinator told me that my hair style looked beautiful and she really liked it--maybe she was just trying to make me feel better but it worked.
We got to court at 10:15 for my 11:00 appt so we had to wait--then the couple that had the appt before me took a very long time so we had to wait some more--didn't get called in until 12:00.
In court the judge asked me many questions about myself, my finances, my home, my family, my plans for parenting this girl, and my interactions with her during our visits. I answered all her questions and it went well. Then the prosecuter got to ask me questions and that went well also.
The judge then asked the head of the orphanage to speak and she spoke very well of me and my visits with Raisa--she could tell that I was a nice person and had good feelings towards the girl and she said that even though we couldn't speak the same language we seemed to understand each other--she said she didn't know how but it was obvious that we understood and cared for each other. She said that Raisa had made a good connection with me and that while I was gone, she would keep asking when her Mama was coming and that she asked Santa to bring me back sooner--I could have cried.
The social worker from Russia also had to speak and tell about her observations of our visits and she gave glowing reports of me also. She also reported that all my paperwork was done perfectly! (I have to do some bragging)
The judge asked all of us to step out while she deliberated--we were barely out of the room for a minute when she called us back in and said that I was now the girl's mother and her name would be changed to Hannah Raisa McNab and I would be listed as the mother on her new birth certificate. It was all I could do not to faint.
The she dismissed us and I walked out and had to sit down in the first chair I could find--I couldn't hardly talk to anyone but they started hugging me and I started crying--it is just so hard to describe the emotion of it all but I don't think I have ever felt happier or more relieved.
The coordinator then went on to tell me that I responded very nicely in court and the proceedings went very quickly because I had very good answers for everything the judge asked. She also said that the judge was very impressed with my demeaner and my feelings and that it was very easy for her to know that I would be a good mother to Hannah. (more bragging).
The Director of the orphanage invited me to come back and adopt a brother for Hannah--if only I could afford it.
When we walked back out through the lobby I must have been smiling like a canary because people that I didn't even know started saying congratulations to me and one woman came up and hugged me--I had never seen her before but I hugged back anyway.
It was just so surreal. I was still walking on clouds when we got back to the hotel and had to talk to some one so I found the couple I knew and we celebrated together--they were the couple that went before me in court and they were granted their son today.--it was a happy day all around.

We went to a restaurant called Bangkok and I had chicken with orange sauce served with rice and then lime cheesecake for dessert--we all agreed that it was the best atmosphere and food we have had the whole time in Russia--maybe it was our state of mind but it was great.

Now it is 10 days before I can have Hannah with me. I get to visit 5 times during those 10 days so it is about every other day. The other couple is going to be here that whole time also so I have some one to hang out with.

Oh--just an update on the weather.--the weather button on the right is not accurate (I don't know why but it was no where near 32 degrees today--maybe they forgot the minus sign) It was -24 actual temp today and very very windy with blowing snow--but even that seemed beautiful today.

Isn't she lovely??

Monday, January 18, 2010

She's as beautiful as I remember

Today was a big day--got to go to the orphanage and see my daughter again! Finally!
When I got there another American couple was just arriving also and we all went into the same room--we both had interpreters and there was a woman from the Dept. of Education there also so it was a pretty full room. When they brought my daughter in they brought her right to me saying “Here’s mama”. They said that she recognized me but I am not certain. Anyway--she came to me willingly and I got a hug. I just wanted to hug and kiss on her but she wasn’t ready for too much of that so I held back. She did sit on my lap for a while and just looked at a new toy and my photos. The lady from the Dept. of Education asked me questions while she was with me--I guess she will testify about us at the court tomorrow.
After she left our visit got better because we could move around and do whatever my daughter wanted. We played with many toys and she seemed to listen to books. She really seemed to like the photo album of my family and house--she would sit and listen to me say the names of all the people in my family and that is a lot of people. She went back to that book several times throughout our visit. They were washing and renovating the play room so the big fun toys were all stacked up on one side and we couldn’t play with them. The morning seemed to go by so quickly and all of a sudden they came to take her to lunch. She went very happily with her caregiver but it is so hard for me to say good-bye. Gosh she is so precious!
After we got back to the hotel, my coordinator prepped me for court. I think I am ready and she said I have the more pleasant judge so I hope all goes well. Everyone pray for me.
During the next 10 days I will have 2 more visits included in my fees--because the orphanage is so far away. I can go more often but each visit will cost more money so I will have to figure out my finances tonight and get in as many visits as I can afford.
I have actually met 2 other American couples here and we are all planning to go out to eat tonight--it is nice to have people that can speak English around. Because of the extreme cold, we have stayed very close to the hotel for eating--it is easy to freeze when walking too far in the dark. Fortunately there is a good choice of restaurants that are all very close.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Great way to spend the weekend

Had a marvelous day today in Krasnoyarsk.
My agency rep hooked me up with two students from the University that are studying English and they took me on a tour of the town. I saw statues of the founder of the city and of Lenin, the little chapel on the hill that is so cool and we got to hear them shoot off a real cannon there--which they do every single day at 12 noon, no matter the weather. They showed me several other sights of the city and a beautiful scenic overlook on the Enisy River outside of the city.
There is a neat tradition at the overlook--couples stop up there after their weddings. They bring a padlock with their names on it and lock it to the fence surrounding the overlook and then toss the key into the river far below--this symbolizes being locked together forever and is a good start to the marriage.
We ended the day at the Planeta Mall--a large shopping complex much like our malls in big cities.

Some things I saw or learned today--
--The city was founded in the early 1600’s by an explorer sent out by the government to check out this region of Siberia. They erected a statue of the spot where he stood when he decided to name the area Krasnoyarsk. It is high on the banks overlooking the river and the word Krasnoyarsk (in old Russian) means “The beautiful banks of the river”. He really thought the area was beautiful with it’s rolling hills and trees. Now you can only see city from that area.
--The river divides the East and West sides of the city. The East side has many factories and is important to the economy of Krasnoyarsk but the West side is considered prettier and nicer to live in.
--Krasnoyarsk if known as the city of fountains--there are hundreds of fountains in the city--unfortunately it gets too cold here to have them running in the winter but you can see the bases for them all over town.
--At one time they wanted to infuse some culture into Krasnoyarsk so they built a mini Eiffel tower and a smaller copy of the Arc De Triumph. I have never seen the actual ones but the Eiffel tower is definitely much much smaller than the real one.
--Every single day at noon the soldiers shoot off a real cannon on the hill in the city--we went up there and got there just in time to hear it go off.
--Public transport is very developed in all of Russia. Krasnoyarsk built a new train station in 2004--it is very large and considered one of the most beautiful ones in Russia.
--Almost every city in Russia has a statue to Lenin and Krasnoyarsk has a large one in the city center.
--There is a ski area just outside of the city--we did not go but saw it.
--Krasnoyarsk has a big zoo--we may go there next weekend.
--There is an island on the river in the middle of town that is accessible only by foot or bike--no cars are allowed on the bridge. It is a popular spot in the summer for relaxation--swimming, biking, picnics, sunbathing, etc.

I had a lovely afternoon with the girls and it was a great way to pass the time and to learn more about the city.

me in front of the Eiffel tower

little chapel on the hill

Arc de Triumph--Krasnoyarsk style

overlooking the Enisy River

Me with Oksana and Nastya

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Have arrived in Krasnoyarsk

I survived the 8 Doctor medical exam. For those of you who don't know--in Russia, all adoptive parents must undergo an exam by 8 medical specialists and have all of them sign off on a form that you take to court with you. The exam was pretty non intrusive--I did have to take my top off for a couple doctors but that was it--otherwise they all just talked to you and asked questions. When we got to the clinic, their elevator was broken so we had to walk up four flights to the first doctor. The first thing he did was check my blood pressure and declared that I was on the high side of normal--do you think that the combination of being very nervous about this process and just walking up four flights could have something to do with that?? At least, he still declared me healthy. I was at the clinic about 4 hours but only about one hour or so was spent with doctors--the rest was just waiting in between times.
After the medical, we went to a mall for dinner and then off to the airport.

I am now in Krasnoyarsk. It sort of felt like coming back home after being in Moscow. The hotel is familiar and I know where some things are. I walked to the grocery store today and got my fridge stocked with diet coke, water, and yogurt. Also bought bananas and crossaints so that I can have breakfast in my room without having to go to a restaurant. To have some reminders of home I also picked up cheetohs and M&M's.

It is Saturday here. Tomorrow I get to go on an excursion to see the city and then Monday I finally get to go to the orphanage and see my daughter--one of the moments I have been waiting for.
Tuesday is my day in court and hopefully after that she will legally be my daughter and I can give out more information about her.

It is quite cold here but not horrible--it was okay walking around today but I did have my cuddle duds on. As you can see by my side bar, they are considerably warmer than last week which is fine by me! It feels about like home right now.
The area in front of my hotel is still all festive from the New Year and Orthodox Christmas (Jan. 7). It kind of reminds me of the St. Paul winter carnival--there are lots of ice sculptures and ice slides which the kids were having a great time with. There are horse drawn sleigh rides--one with Santa as the driver. There is a smaller sleigh for kids that is pulled by a real live reindeer--very cute.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Arrival in Russia

Jan. 14, 2010
I have arrived in Moscow!
Kathy took me to the airport in Minneapolis and had breakfast with me after I checked in. I consolidated my luggage as much as possible but still ended up with two checked bags and two carry on’s--it’s a lot to lug around.
All the flights went well and were on time. My longest leg was from Chicago to Frankfurt and I was lucky because the two seats next to me were empty so I got to stretch out and sleep.
The Moscow airport was a zoo when I arrived--it was a half hour wait to get through passport control and for those who have been here, you know that Russia doesn’t form nice lines but the waiting line is more like a mob that just pushes to the front and it is very hot. That was the least enjoyable part of the trip but I got through. Then getting my bags and getting through customs was a breeze. My agency rep was waiting there for me with a sign once I got out of customs. It was nice to see someone there.
I got to the hotel about 4pm Moscow time--which was 7am at home--24 hours after I left Kathy’s house.
The weather here is very similar to home right now so it felt normal to me. I ventured out of the hotel for a few blocks and found a place to exchange money. Now is when I wish I had a travel companion because I think it would be fun to explore Moscow a little more but I am not brave enough to do it all by myself.
Tomorrow is my 8 Doctor medical exam which takes about 4 hours and then off to the airport to fly to Krasnoyarsk. I don't know when my first visit with my daughter is but of course, that is what I am looking the most forward to.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Bags packed and ready to go

I can't believe that the time has come. Last week I was going crazy feeling overwhelmed with having everything ready and not forgetting anything. I had one panic when a required document didn't come when it was supposed to but it was there the next day so all is well. Now my bags are packed and I am ready to go--hoping I won't get any over the limit fees. I have downsized as much as I can--everything in my bags is "necessary" and I will basically have only three outfits for the whole trip which includes the one I will be wearing but all is well because...I am ready. My stress level really went down today and I just feel ready.
I am going to see my little girl and bring her home!!! How can life get any better?

FYI--follow the temperature in Kras over on my sideboard. BRRRRRRRRR

Friday, January 1, 2010

Tickets purchased and Visa on it's way back to me

My passport is on it's way back to me hopefully with the VISA in there. My tickets are purchased. Unfortunately the Russian offices were already closed for the holidays so we didn't get their final approval of the itinerary but had to go ahead with the purchase anyway--my stateside specialist thought they looked good. It is a very long trip so I am hoping the adrenaline will help me get through it.
I also looked up the weather forecast for Krasnoyarsk--bitterly cold. One day has a high of 27 below zero!! Good thing I am from Minnesota but still--that is insanely cold.

I was watching a video of a friend's husband and new son arriving home from Ethiopia and just started bawling. It was so touching and joyous--that alone brought tears to my eyes but then I started realizing that will be me soon and I really started bawling. I am still in shock that this is really happening. I just look at her picture all the time and can't stop smiling.

I am also incredibly exhausted, even though I haven't had to be any busier than any other time. I have to think it is the explosion of so many emotions that I haven't allowed myself to feel during the wait. It is really hard to explain and I don't exactly understand it myself. Hopefully this will make it easier for me to sleep on the plane and help with jet lag issues.

I have made many contacts in the IA world during this journey and as I look back I think that a lot of the perceptions are based on the vantage from which you are looking. When I started the process I was so excited and hopeful and it seemed that everyone else I met along the way felt the same way. Then the waits got longer and my first outcome wasn't good and it seemed that I read of many others having disappointing stories and that sad stories were prevalent. Now I am seeing so many successful and happy stories and lots of beautiful children with parents and I love it. I think the ups and downs, the joys and sadness, the good and bad stories have probably both been there all along but I was definitely looking at it through my experience at the time. I am so glad to have reached this happy perspective (hopefully I am not premature here) but I still remember the hard parts and I hope that all waiting parents get to the same spot I am in.

Happy 2010 everyone--It will definitely be an exciting year for me.