Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Imposter Mom

This is hard, period. I knew it would be. But, all in all, its harder than I thought it would be, on many different levels. My hat is off to all those moms out there who make motherhood seem so easy and effortless.

We have had a tough 2 days to begin the week. Nick is generally pretty happy in the mornings and his most unhappy time is after nap two, prior to dinner. Yesterday, he was fussy most of the day. I have come up with five things I think could be contributing to the fussiness (1) he is teething (2) his diet has changed tremendously and he's still getting used to it (3) he doesn't understand why dad comes and goes (4) he's still adjusting to the time change, and (5) this is regular toddler behavior. If I ever figure out what is going on, I'll definitely post it.

Now that we're home and getting to know each other better, there are some interesting things we've noticed about Nick.

Sleeping: No matter what time he goes to bed, he wakes up at 4am. Actual bedtime doesn't seem to have any impact on the 4am wakeup. Sometimes he'll fall back asleep on his own and wake later around 6am, other times he will cry and that usually leads to an hour of rocking before he'll go back to sleep. We have no idea why 4am, this doesn't coincide with a significant time in Russia in terms of his sleep. Hopefully this won't continue for much longer.

Eating: So far Nick will eat anything we put in front of him. We are very happy about this and hope the good apetite sticks around. I sometimes worry that we are feeding him too much. He almost always wants more of whatever he's eating, even after having a nice big portion. For now I'm going on the assumption that we can't over feed him and he'll stop when he's full, and I'm thankful that we don't have a non-eater.

Drinking: I'm not sure what to do about this one. Nick will chug the entire contents of his sippy cup whenever he gets it. So, if its snack time and I give him his water/juice he'll chug it till its gone, then he'll want more. The only time he won't chug it is if the water/juice ratio isn't to his liking, then he'll throw the sippy cup. I have tried to keep it out (and filled) to show him he can have it at any time, the problem is that he chugs it every time. Its like he's got a hole in his leg. If anyone has advice on this one I would greatly appreciate it.

Pooping: Hates it, hates it, hates it. For whatever reason, he often poops during meals. Maybe there is a biological reason for this, not sure. Anyway, he gets so upset, thrashes around and throws a fit. We try to be supportive to let him know its ok. Its so traumatic for him. It really makes me wonder what they did to him at the baby home. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing but the highest respect for the caregivers, but between the pooping and the diaper changing I am at a loss.

Diapering: Hates it, hates it, hates it. As I have found through some rudimentary research, the diaper hatred is very common among PI (Post Institutionalized) children. Its such a struggle sometimes, and even harder if poop is involved. I am not skilled enough to change him standing up, which apparently has worked for some. Special toys work about 50% of the time. My latest thing is to sing to him when I'm changing his diaper or clothing. This has shown some promising results.

Music: Loves music, loves dancing, especially his jazz hands, which come out when the spirit (or the Wiggles) moves him. He is so funny to watch. He is getting more bold with swaying, turning circles, and even clapping sometimes.

Aside from learning about Nick, I'm also learning some things about myself. For one thing what its like to go from one day being a career oriented woman to the next day being a mom. I feel like an imposter mom, totally clueless and inadequate. Its really strange. I didn't feel like this in Russia at all, but these feelings have cropped up since we've been home.

For example, when strolling Nick through the neighborhood the other day, I felt so self-conscious. Like, it must be obvious that I don't know what I'm doing (should the sunshade be down, is my child strapped in tight enough, etc.) and that I might as well have a label on my forehead that says "adoptive mom". Isn't that messed up? Its very similar to the way I felt back when I got divorced (in the early 90's). I felt like it must be obvious that I was divorced and damaged in some way.

I find myself worrying about the most ridiculous things like, do I need one of those shopping cart covers, will people think I'm a bad mom if I just plop him in the cart, do I have the right stroller for the right purpose, is it adjusted properly, is my child dressed appropriately for the weather, and the list goes on and on.

So, I'm worried that I'm going to be compelled to start every new introduction with declaring that Nick has just come home with us from Russia. I don't, don't, don't want this to be the case. I don't want him to be the "adopted" kid with the neurotic mom. I hope I can get past these feelings and onto more productive thoughts. I just wondered if anyone else out there has felt like this?

I'm going to wrap it up for today because Nick should be waking up soon from his nap. I'll close with some recent pictures!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Settling In

I haven't blogged in three days and don't have pictures of Nick and Abby yet. And, I have a really lame excuse for the lack of pictures, the camera battery went dead. Its still dead, so once its back up and running we'll hopefully get some pictures that we can post. Although, the sweet relationship between Abby and Nick has suffered slightly. We think Abby has finally realized that Nick isn't going anywhere and she's not that happy about it. We are trying to show Nick how to be gentle with her, but it has been difficult because he gets so excited whenever Abby gets near him. Abby still wants to be wherever Nick is, which is pretty funny, and she is constantly trying to get close to smell him.

We have been taking it pretty easy since coming home. On Thursday my sister Jill came over to meet Nick. He really enjoyed flirting with her. He is a real charmer. Arlett came over also to bring back the car seat. It was nice to have some company. We went for a stroll around the neighborhood in the afternoon and Nick met our next door neighbors and their two little boys.

Friday we didn't do much of anything but hang around the house. Nick met our other next door neighbors and warmed up to them quickly.

Saturday we had a little outing to meet Jill, Carl and Sam for lunch at our favorite Saturday lunch place. Nick had a good time as the center of attention and impressed everyone with his eating abilities which included, peas, apple sauce, grilled cheese, french fries (not many) and cheerios. We're lucky that so far Nick seems to do well going out to eat (since this is something I like doing!). I'm hoping that he and I will be able to get out for lunch once a week or so.

We have been getting outside in the mornings or later in the afternoons to try to beat the heat. We haven't tried the inflatable pool yet. We'll probably do that some time this week. Yesterday Bill put up the play structure that Nick received from Maria and family. So far Nick hasn't had a lot of time on it but he definitely loves the slide.

This afternoon Glen and Sara, friends who recently moved to Minneapolis, stopped in to meet Nick and visit with us. It was really great to see them and catch up before they headed home. They brought us a bag of fun goodies for everyone, thanks guys!

Tomorrow Bill goes back to work and it will be my first day alone with Nick. Hopefully I'll be able to handle it!

I am really going to try to post some pics soon, maybe tomorrow, but no promises.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Home Sweet Home

We're home, and Nick is a US Citizen, WooHoo! We are so happy to be back in Richmond.

Before I forget, we have a few people to thank for helping us over the last 3 weeks. First off,
our nephew Sam stayed at our house, taking care of Abby and Chloe, the yard, plants, etc. We cannot thank Sam enough for taking 3 weeks out of his life to live out in the suburbs to help us out. Not to mention, when we got home the house was spotless. It was really great, Thanks Sam!

Thanks also to Jill and Carl for bringing us the delicious meatballs, Bill wants the recipe. Then our friends Arlett and Mike picked us up from the airport, stocked the fridge with baby food and adult food, and brought Nick a cute puppy and balloon for his homecoming. We are so lucky to have a great support network both here in Richmond and around the US, thanks all for your support to us through this journey.

The trip home went better than I thought it would. We were picked up at around 9am after scrambling to get everything packed and fit everything in our suitcases. At one point earlier in the week we thought we were going to have to buy another suitcase but in the end we didn't. The checkin at the airport was quite extensive. I think we went through 4 securities, I lost count. Anyway, we arrived at our gate around 11:30 for a 12:55 flight.

Unfortunately, our flight didn't start boarding until 2:15 or so. I'm not 1oo% sure because there was alot going on with trying to keep Nick occupied.

Nick fell asleep fairly early in the flight and slept for 2 hours. It was a good start for sure. After naptime it was dinner time. Nick had his first Chicken Nuggets, which he really seemed to enjoy and he also ate a big serving of Mashed Potatoes. After dinner Bill went walking with Nick for quite a while. After that things become somewhat blurry, between being tired and trying to entertain Nick, I couldn't tell you what went on. Nick did sleep for another 2 hours or so near the end of the flight. He also never really had what I would call a full on meltdown. We were both thankful for that. Nick slept for the entire flight to Richmond which was really good. Mike and Arlett met us in Richmond and I was really happy to see them!

We got home around 9:30 and after showing Nick around a bit, and introducing him to Abby, we put Nick to sleep. Thankfully he went down fairly easily. I went to bed immediately after Nick due to exhaustion.

Today we had a good day that was a mix of trying to get organized and helping Nick be comfortable in this new environment. One thing that definitely sticks out since we've been home is how good Abby has been with Nick. She has been so gentle with him. And, we're very happy because Nick isn't terrified of Abby. He just really wants to pet her. Its so cute. Tomorrow I'm going to try to get some pictures of the two of them together.

I was going to write more but I'm about to fall asleep. So I'll say goodnight and will try to post tomorrow.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Last Day

We're so excited that today concludes our last full day in Moscow. Bill is asleep on the couch next to me, and Nick is asleep in the bedroom, and I think they would both agree they are ready to hit the road and start our lives back in the states. WooHoo!

We had a nice "last" day in Moscow. We started the day early, as always, with Nick rustling around 5:30. He is so cute in the mornings, and so wide awake. I think, please go back to sleep, but then he smiles the big smile and I forget about the time.

We did the normal morning stuff and Nick has settled into the morning nap at around 9:00am, usually for about 1.5 hours. After naptime he had a snack and then we set out to walk to Red Square where we were going to meet Brandy and Coby for some better pictures of the three of us.

The weather was not the greatest today and as we set out to walk down it looked very overcast and we thought it would probably rain, the question was when. Our walk to Red Square is about 30 minutes. By the time we were 10 minutes away the rain began and by the time we got to St. Basils it was raining fairly hard. We had forgotten the phone and the canopy for the stroller. We rigged the umbrella so that Nick stayed dry, waited around for a few minutes but decided that Brandy and Coby were probably some place near by, calling us to tell us where they were. We took a few (maybe three) pictures of Nick in the stroller with the umbrella and then headed home. By the time we were out of the Red Square area the rain began to subside and it had completely stopped about half way home.

We were being picked up for our US Embassy Interview at 1:15, so when we got home we gave Nick lunch and dried off before heading back out. The Embassy trip went well. There were about 7 families, all very excited to be at this point in the process. When we departed we had all the information and paperwork for the adoption, Nick's passport and Visa, "the envelope".

The rest of the day was spent playing with Nick, eating, packing, checking emails and blogs (yes, I am officially addicted!), and watching an update on today in the Olympics world.

With that, I'll say bye from Moscow now. I might miss it, in some strange way, but will be very happy to get off the airplane in beautiful, hot, Richmond!

Paka, Paka, Paka

Monday, August 18, 2008

3 Weeks on the Road

Today marks the completion of our third week on the road and we feel it. For the hundredth time I will say that I can't wait to go home. I am dreading the plane flight, but we'll be ok.

Because Nick was up a bit late last night we were hoping he would sleep till 7am. No way, 5:45 rolls around and he's tossing and flopping around, babbling and not sleeping. This was a short night for him so I thought I'd try something new, change his diaper and then try to get him back to sleep. It almost worked but he was not going to go to sleep in the crib so we brought him into bed. He's getting better about being in bed and this morning actually fell asleep for 10 - 15 minutes, progress I think.

We needed some more of the organic baby food for the remainder of the trip so after breakfast and a 2 hour morning nap we went out to the fancy grocery in the basement of Lotte Plaza. I love this store, its just really expensive. The checkout ladies were playing with Nick and trying to make him laugh, of course he loves the attention. Once we're home we'll try to avoid the store for a while.

Our afternoon was fairly standard, although Nick was a cranky little guy. We couldn't figure out what his issue was. Some how we kept him occupied and played until about 3 when he had a snack and then another 2 hour nap. Maybe he was just really tired today.

After his nap Nick seemed pretty cranky again. We debated whether we should actually leave for dinner or just stay in. We thought it would be better to take him out again, but stayed close to home and went to TGI Fridays. It went ok. Nick was craning his neck trying to see the people sitting behind us, which was kind of funny at first, but very annoying after a while. Bill let him taste his french fries and that kept his attention on us for a while even when Nicks own food couldn't. The wait staff was greatt they brought us a highchair, a balloon for Nick, a Russian version of a Kinder Egg (which of course Nick can't have yet), and were generally very accomodating and nice to us and Nick.

Nick seemed to have a better disposition after dinner and enjoyed playing with the balloon they gave us, and with the play cell phone, especially while Bill was on the phone with our translator.

So thats about it for today. Nothing too exciting. The most exciting thing to me is that we have one more day and then we fly out.

Hope everyone at home is doing great, see you soon!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Nihao: The Snappy Roundup

Somehow I've managed to see way too much of the Olympics on Eurosport where they have "a snappy roundup" of the previous days highlights every morning called "Nihao". Todays blog will be "a snappy roundup" of today's activities in our little world.

To kick it off, today is my brother Tim's birthday so before I forget, Happy Birthday! I hope you had a great day.

The little cutie pie was up again at 5am, or maybe 5:15 this morning. That is just way too early but what are you gonna do. When the guy is awake, he's awake. We did the normal morning routine. Nick is such a good little eater so he had a really good breakfast and then we headed out around 8:15 to walk to Red Square for some photos. It was a great morning. We had a nice walk and its pretty quiet around this town (1) in the morning before 10am (2) on weekends in the summer.

Red Square was beautiful this morning, although St. Basils was backlit. So, the traditional adoption family photo didn't go quite as planned (and the backlighting had little to do with the pictures I took since you can't see it in the first place!). Plus, Nick was slightly fussy by the time we got there. We took a few of Bill and Nick, and myself with Nick and then called it a day, at least for picture taking. I'm hoping to get back down there on Tuesday to get some pictures of the three of us.

We were hungry and wanted a break so we stopped at McDonalds for breakfast on the way home. My goodness, it was a madhouse! Bill found a table outside and entertained Nick while I went in to order breakfast. It took a good 15 minutes for me to make my way to the front of the line. As I waited I tried to figure out what they call a sausage McMuffin with egg and cheese. I could read the translation of McMuffin, which is basically McMuffin, but I couldn't get the rest. I think I did ok, all in all. And, it really hit the spot.

Nick took 2 naps today which was great. I think he has an internal clock that won't let him sleep more than 1.5 hours during the day. Its quite amazing really. I'm just glad he's sleeping.

We have introduced Nick to the Wiggles. My work buddies gave him "Pop Go the Wiggles" and he really loves it. We have done it once a day for the past 4 days and he is really starting to get into it. He will do his signature "Jazz Hands" for the songs he really likes. Its very cute. They are growing on me too. They don't creep me out as much as they did the first time I saw them.

Tonight we went to dinner with Ron and Dinia, Brandy and Coby, and Michelle. We went back to Gogul Mogul (Yummy!). It was Ron and Dinia's last night in Moscow, and how special to be able to spend it with them. I can't really express how wonderful these folks are. We feel very lucky to have met them before they leave Moscow. I really hope Dinia will continue her blog so that all the families they have touched can keep up with how they are.

It was also Brandy and Coby's first night back in Russia. They are heading to court later on this week, Congratulations! Michelle is picking up her daughter later this week after waiting the 10 days! We had a great dinner of Chicken and Spinach (I'm pretty sure everyone at the table had the same entree) and strawberry blinis for dessert.

Nick was really good at dinner. We were not sure how he would do with all the people but he was great. He was engaging and flirting with all the ladies and he also was trying to give Coby his cheerios. He'd give them then take them back, but this is what he does! Nick had his dinner while we were there (which I'm glad we brought) and really kept it together amazingly well especially considering that we were out for about 3 hours total between dinner and the stop at the grocery afterwards.

Its about 11pm now and Nick is sleeping and his Dad is sleeping on the couch next to me as I blog. I suppose I should wrap this one up so we can get some sleep. Here are a few pictures from today. Very disappointed that in my St. Basils picture of Nick and Bill, you can't see St. Basils. I was having issues apparently. We'll try to get some better pictures later this week. Brandy might be able to help us with that!

Have a good week all!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

First Trip to Starbucks!

Today started very early, 5am to be exact. We were really hoping for at least 6. We did not want to start the day/breakfast soooo early so we relaxed and played with Nick in bed. He seemed quite content with the whole set up but wasn't about to go back to sleep.

At 6 we got up and actually started the day. Nick had oatmeal and pears for breakfast. I tried to give him the pears separately from the oatmeal but he would have none of that. The caretakers had told us that he would eat cut up fruit, apples and pears. So far, he had not eaten either fruit by itself. I was able to put the pear in the oatmeal and he loved it.

We had planned to go to Starbucks this morning. But by about 8:30 Nick was started to act very tired so we decided to try the morning nap again. Since he woke at 5 we thought he might actually go down...and he did, for 1.5 hours. After his nap we packed ourselves up and headed out to the Starbucks on Old Arbat St. Today was a sunny day with a high in the upper 80's. When we headed out it was cooler and breezy, really nice weather. We put Nick in his umbrella stroller for the first time. He wasn't too thrilled with the whole thing but after about 5 minutes he stopped trying to get out and sat back to enjoy the ride. We decided to get lunch at Starbucks since it was lunchtime. It was nice and almost relaxing. Nick was very good while we were there. After lunch we walked to the end of Old Arbat and then headed back to the apartment.

The afternoon was lowkey with lunch for Nick and then playtime. I tried to give him cottage cheese at lunchtime because the caregivers said that he would eat it. When I gave it to him he chewed for a second and then slowly spit everything out. I was so bummed. So I dipped the cottage cheese in the apple sauce concoction and he ate it then. I added some pears too, might as well sneak these foods in while I can.

Surprisingly we were able to get Nick to go down for an afternoon nap. He slept for another 1.5 hours. I am probably being obsessive about the sleep thing but I read somewhere that children his age should get ~13.5 hours of sleep a day so I'm just trying to help him get it.

After his afternoon nap we headed out to Pasta Mama's for dinner. This is a great place. I really wish we had visited it earlier in our trip because now its so late I don't know whether we'll make it back there. The hostess and wait staff were just great. This was our first trip to a "real" restaurant with Nick so we weren't sure what to expect. They brought us a high chair and then also brought over toys for Nick to play with which was really sweet. We were a bit worried that he might throw something, thankfully he didn't! The food was very good and the portions are huge. Bill and I really should have shared and entree. Nick enjoyed the bread and also had mashed potatoes (yes, he definitely got his starches).

We walked back to the apartment after dinner and played for a while before putting Nick to bed which is where Bill is right now. Hopefully he'll turn up soon. I haven't heard anything for a while so maybe Bill's gone to sleep as well.

Thats it for now. We hope everyone is having a great weekend and I'll try to post more pictures tomorrow!

Paka, Paka!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Five and a Half Hours of Errands

I just told Bill that I didn't think I could blog tonight because I'm so tired and that I was just going to blog that I can't blog. He said he thought that was kind of weak, so here I am blogging. I'll do what I can and there is a distinct possibility that it will end abruptly.

It seems that now I'm judging my days by Nicks ability to sleep and poop, WOW. I can't believe it. He is sleeping well at night, naps are a different story, but last night he got 10 1/2 hours. It was still before 6am when he woke up, but we'll be attempting to adjust that back over the next few days. Then we'll get on a 12 hour flight and it will all be over.

Today was a nice, sunny day, about 85 degrees and we had a few errands to run. The plan was that we would start at the American Clinic (this may not be the official name, sorry) for Nick's physical. Then we would go to the bank. And finally, we were to pick up Nick's Russian passport.

Our translator and driver picked us up at 10am. Nick finished his physical by 11am, and passed with flying colors! Then we waited for almost an hour for a different translator who was with another family. Our new translator then went to the bank with us where I (Meghan) had to sign some paperwork, etc.

Let me just say a few things about the bank. It was very small, with about 6 windows. There were probably about 10 customers in there when we arrived. Because we have had "issues" with understanding protocol at banks, I asked our translator how she knew which line, whether there was a line, etc. She explained to me how it works, lets just say its slightly haphazard. We were about third in our line when we arrived, but each transaction was taking at least 10 minutes. Then we were "cut" on by a 90 year old, but what are you going to do? So, finally a window opened up and you wouldn't believe the goings on. Without going into too much detail (this is code for "I'm not comfortable giving too much detail"), I will say we got out of there about 1.5 hours later! Whew.

The good news is that on the way to the bank Nick fell asleep and actually slept for about 1.5 hours during the drive and most of the bank visit. That was good since he didn't get his morning nap.

After the bank we went to the passport office to pick up Nick's passport. The passport picture is totally adorable (I must say) and we are really glad to have that out of the way. In the passport office more paperwork was completed and then we headed back to our apartment. After such a long day, Nick finally started to melt down about 15 minutes from home. He was such a trooper and who could blame him, it was a long, hot day.

We got home at about 3:30, had a quick snack and then I tried to put Nick down for a nap for about 2 hours. Yikes, I know thats way too long but he seemed so tired and I was determined. We got really close, but NO, there was not a second nap in the cards today.

So, we spent the balance of the afternoon playing and the regular night time routine. We have no errands to run this weekend so tomorrow we're planning a trip to Starbucks in the morning and then an early dinner out tomorrow at Pasta Mama's. We have been wanting to go there so it will be our first foray into restaurant world as a family! Wish us luck.

Paka, Paka, Paka (frantic hand waving!)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Counting the Days

Once again, we are both quite tired so this will probably be short...I will supplement with pictures, since I haven't posted any since Tuesday.

Last night went pretty well I think. Nick slept from 7:15 until 5:45, which we were very happy with. He does move around his bed quite a bit, flopping here and there. He woke up in pretty good spirits too.

We did the normal morning routine and by about 8:15 Nick started showing signs of needing to sleep. At the baby home he napped from 9:30 - 11:00 each day. We were being picked up for our daily tasks at 10:00, so we decided to try to get him to nap from 8:30 - 9:45 or so. To our surprise he actually fell asleep fairly quickly and got his morning ZZZZ's.

At 10 we were picked up by our translator and driver. We went to get more passport pictures of Nick (the first ones weren't right or something, who knows). Anyway, Nick did great for the picture and then we waited around to get copies of various documents. We headed back to the apartment around 11am.

If anyone out there needs an entrepreneurial idea, mine is to start a chain of copy shops (ala kinkos, but on a very small scale - size wise). From what we have seen it is difficult to find a place to make copies and when you do they are actually kind of expensive. We actually have access to a copier in our apartment. Alas, our agency didn't tell us what copies were needed for today, so we paid to have them made in the basement of some random building near the Embassy.

The afternoon was ok, but I failed to get Nick to go down for his afternoon nap. By 5pm he seemed to be headed for a major meltdown so we tried to draw out dinner, bath and bedtime as late as possible. He fell asleep around 7:00. So, its probably another early morning for us tomorrow.

On the eating front, so far so good. Nick has eaten everything we've put in front of him which is a blessing, I'm sure it will change. But its one less thing to worry about now.

Thats about it. Have I mentioned lately how much I want to go home. I do. We miss everyone and can't wait to be home! Now for some pictures.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Is Today Wednesday?

I've lost track of time. The last 36 hours have been a blur, to say the least, but we're all doing well.

Today we had our first little outing as a family. We went to vital records to get our new Birth Certificates for Nick. Our translator and driver picked us up at about noon today to head to the office. As it turned out, what we thought was going to be a quick trip out took 3 hours. So now we have finally experienced the terrible Moscow traffic that we have seen from the sidewalks, and heard about, but hadn't quite lived it first person.

The office of vital records is about an hour away from our apartment. I couldn't begin to tell you what part of town we went to. Apparently, there are dozens of these offices and you go to the one that did the original paperwork for the child. Our driver and translator had never been to this particular office which explains why we stopped twice on our way there for directions, go figure.

Luckily Nick fell asleep on the drive there and had over an hour of good sleep. We were pretty happy about that since he had missed his afternoon nap on Tuesday and morning nap today. Anyway, we got there around 1:15 and found that they close the office from 1:30 - 3:00. Thank goodness one of the ladies was willing to stay past 1:30 to complete the new certificate for us so we wouldn't have to drive around Moscow for another 2 hours waiting for the office to re-open.

Nick was so good on the trip, which was very hot (80 degrees, concrete jungle, bumper to bumper traffic, no airconditioning) and not much fun for him. He only got fussy toward the end of our time in the car.

When we arrived home we had a snack and we weren't too far off his afternoon nap schedule so I tried to get him to go down. No luck, but almost. We played till about 6pm, then Bill fed Nick, bathed him and bedtime started around 7. The goal was to have him down by 8pm which is his normal bedtime and it took an hour last night. I am happy to report that after about 15 minutes of rocking and humming along to The Shins, Nick went down without a peep. We hope he'll get a good night of sleep tonight because he is lacking on his normal schedule.

Thanks everyone for the wonderful comments and emails the past few days. It means so much to us to hear from you all and we can't wait to see everyone!


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

One day with Nick down - 7200 to go

Hi Everyone,
Today Bill gets to post, because your normal correspondent is a little busy. I am too of course. So lets see, we picked Nick up at around 1PM, did the goodbyes at the orphanage and headed home. We got home at 2:30 and had a few minutes of playtime, before we had cherrios, cookies and juice for a snack. After this, things got a little dicey. We tried to get him to take a nap (at the orphanage he takes one at 3PM). We finally gave up at 6PM and played until 7PM. At 7PM we had a tasty meal of Chicken and then some Blueberries and Apples (The Hipp food seemed to hit the spot). After dinner was bath time. He loved bath time, but when it was over, he didn't seem too happy. At 8PM Meghan tried to put him down for the night. I stayed in the kitchen and listened to the crying. It took until about 9PM for him to fall asleep (Meghan thinks this wasn't too bad). While all of this was going on, I cooked some dinner for Meghan and myself and we finally sat down to eat our first meal of the day at 9PM. We need to do better today with our finding time to eat.

Well, the good news is Nick slept through the night until 6AM (Meghan and I didn't do as well). So up at 6AM for a big morning. He was great, he hardly cried when we woke up. I played with him while Meghan made oatmeal with fresh apple. He is such a happy baby when he is rested, just doesn't like to go to sleep. He does eat well, breakfast was tasty. It is 8:15 now, and it appears that he may already be ready for a nap. Meghan is strapping him in to the ergo carrier to see if he might settle down. We will see...

This is the Day...Gotcha

Hi All, its been fairly crazy today so I'm going to post a little slideshow that we hope you'll enjoy and I will post more about Gotcha Day later! Turn up your volume while you watch the slide show.

We love and miss everyone!
Meg, Bill and Nicholas

Click to play Gotcha Day
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Monday, August 11, 2008

One More Day!

We spent today visiting Nick, YAY! And also preparing the apartment for his arrival. Things were in a slight disarray around the place so now we're all cleaned up and organized for Nick to come to his new home in Moscow.

We had an OK visit with Nick today. He didn't really cry when he saw us and was very smiley and sweet to start. Things got a bit dicey when a Russian family came to see their child, also in Nick's groupa. There we were, 4 adults and 2 toddlers, in the "Locker Room", trying to play with the little ones, adults unable to communicate with each other. We have seen this family almost every day and they seem very nice. It was a hard situation for Nick, or maybe us, I'm not sure. I do know that he got slightly unruly with the addition of another baby (or other adults) in the room. He started throwing the stacking cups and his train. This was not good, and its so hard to communicate when you don't speak his language. To anyone out there, learn some Russian. This is one area that I know I did not put enough effort in, thinking that the baby would be young enough it wouldn't matter. Let me tell you, it would be really helpful to be able to tell him that "we don't throw things because it isn't nice" in Russian.

After our visit we shopped for baby food in preparation for Nick's homecoming. Patricia had given us info on the brands to buy for yogurt, cereal, baby food, etc. We got quite a variety of food so hopefully we'll have something the little guy will eat. He strikes me as a pretty good eater, I guess we'll find out tomorrow. This has been one of my stress points, all you seasoned moms probably think I'm crazy, but I'm really worried about how much and what to feed this guy.

Tonight we went to dinner at Il Patio for Pizza. This place was a nice surprise. The prices were really good, and not just by Moscow standards. The pizza was good too. The closest one to us is near The Pushkin Museum, which is kind of a hike, but definitely worth it. If we get ambitious maybe we'll go there one day in the upcoming week with Nick.

Now I'm sitting here, watching the Olympics and contemplating how our lives are going to change in the span of less than 24 hours. I know some of you out there are probably thinking, how dramatic, its just a child, everyone does it. The thing is, after years of trying to start a family, unsuccessful fertility treatments, disappointment after disappointment, you start to think that maybe it isn't your destiny to have children, maybe you aren't meant to be a parent, you can be the fun aunt. But you press on, desperately trying to make something happen, in hopes that your dream of having a family will finally come true. I can hardly believe that our dream is finally going to become a reality. I'm quite overwhelmed and very excited (and a little scared)!

Stay tuned tomorrow, we will be posting pictures of our sweet one and also an update of our first day together!


Day 13 of 22

We didn't do much today. Both of us woke up feeling pretty bad so the decision was to take it easy and try to nurse ourselves back to feeling good.

We watched the Olympics, read, blogged, read blogs and did laundry. We ventured out twice, once to the Hardrock Cafe for some American food and then later to the pharmacy.

I haven't been to enough Hardrocks to know, but I suppose the one here is pretty standard. We really wanted some standard fare American food so the Hardrock seemed like a good choice. We also thought they had a brunch, but if so we came too late and missed it. All in all, I thought it was a good choice and the cheeseburger and fries I had really hit the spot.

After lunch it was back to the apartment to lay around. We did do 3 loads of laundry and I managed to keep everything the appropriate color, so I was happy about that! On a side note, I also have almost turned the pink shirts back to white. Patricia gave me some Ace (Oxyclean) and it has almost done the job. I'm hoping with one more good soak everything will be good as new.

We had a successful trip to the pharmacy. We had the word for Bill's ailment and the pharmacist appeared to understand. When we returned to the apartment he looked up the medicine he had been given and sure enough, it appears to be the right stuff. Only time will tell.

Sorry for the mundane post, but this is life in Moscow with 2 sickly people trying to get better so we can pick up our son Tuesday. Woohoo! We are so excited. I can't believe in two days Nick will be with us. Its a bit surreal. More on that later!


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Saturday at Izmaylovo Market

What a great day we had today. This had to be the most beautiful day we've seen in Moscow. I know I've said that before, but we're having a string of good days and they keep getting better and better. I've probably jinxed it now. The sky was clear and the temperature was in the mid-70s.

Today we took a trip to the Izmaylovo Market with Ron, Dinia, Jeana and Vadim. On our first trip Bill and I were going to try to do the market but the day we had chosen ended up being cold and rainy, so we never made it on that trip. Subsequently, we have heard from many different families that we have to go to the market for our Russian souvenirs.

Neither Bill nor I are huge shoppers, but today we did pretty well I'd say. We had made a list with ideas of the things we wanted to purchase, we didn't always buy what we had listed, but we made great progress regardless. It was so nice to have Ron and Dinia there to recommend specific vendors. Plus, they were able to point out some really nice quality items that we wouldn't otherwise have found. We had so much stuff we decided we should drop it off at the car before lunch and Round 2, how funny!

While at the market we had some delicious barbeque, "shashleek". Bill and I both had the chicken which was served with tomatoes and onions and a spicy tomato based sauce. It was quite good and very filling. We took a few picture of everyone while we waited and then with the cooks.

The market was a blast and we're so glad we were able to go, thanks to Ron and Dinia again for showing us the ropes and taking us there! If you come here, definitely go to this market, you will save 25% - 30% off the prices you find within Moscow at the Arbat or other places, and its just a really fun day as well.

Bill and I were beat after a full day of shopping so we stayed in for dinner and had Beef and Pepper Pelmeni. Patricia had told us about the frozen pelmeni made by the supermarket under Lotte Plaza so when we were there earlier this week (checking out the baby food options) we got some frozen pelmeni. Pelmeni are kind of like tortellini but bigger. We boiled them up like pasta and served them with a bit of butter and I added parmesan cheese to mine, yummy!

We are both fighting off sicknesses so tomorrow we're going to take it easy and stay in most of the day (I think). Then Monday we visit Nick one last time before we bring him home Tuesday.

We hope everyone is having a great weekend and we are really missing you all!


Saturday, August 9, 2008

4 days to Gotcha!

Wow, it seems like we've been here for a long time, but when I look at it in terms of the whole trip, we're only half way there. Its day 11 of the 23 day trip. The good news is that we've got just 4 days till Nick is coming home (well at least to our apartment) with us!

Today we spent the bulk of the day site-seeing at Novodevichiy with Ron and Dinia. The weather was really nice. It was right around 70 degrees and sunny all afternoon. Every day of no rain feels lucky around here. We started the day with lunch at a Georgian restaurant just off the lake at Novodevichiy. I think everyone really enjoyed their meals. Bill and I shared a cheese and spinach khachapuri which is like a sauceless pizza, sooooo good! And then Bill had Georgian cheese (a plate of sliced cheese) and we shared a meat and rice dolma wrapped in cabbage, also yummy. Ron and Dinia order a mushroom dish that they shared that was to die for and Ron also shared his Pork and potatoes. Everything was delicious!

After lunch we walked around the lake and saw so many brides. It was incredible. As I understand it, the tradition here is to get married in a civil ceremony and then the bride, groom and wedding party travel around the city having pictures made at all the famous landmarks. We had seen this before, here and there, especially when we were near the Kremlin. But today we must have seen 20 different brides coming and going for pictures around the lake. There were stretch limos with flowers all over the parking lot. It was really a spectacle.

We had a tour of the convent grounds and the cemetery. Learning the history of the convent, and about the various cast off wives that were sent there to become nuns was pretty interesting. The inside of the Cathedral of the Virgin of Smolensk was spectacular. We definitely saw our share of icons today. Bill took tons of pictures. I'm pretty sure he'll look back at some of them and wonder why, but I'm sure he'll have some good ones to share.

The cemetery was amazing. I couldn't believe the monuments that are in place for the people buried there. Our guide told us that to be buried in the cemetery there you have to be a celebrity. I asked whether being buried there is something you request, or something you get invited to do? I'm not sure she really understood what I was asking.

After our visit to Novodevichiy we drove to Sparrow Hills which I believe is the highest spot in Moscow. On one side is the Moscow University and on the other is a panorama view of the city (and some rickety looking ski jumps from the 1980 olympics). Once again, there were many brides having their pictures taken at this landmark.

We were worn out by the time we got home so we stayed in for dinner and watched the opening ceremony of the olympics. I think I'm coming down with something so hopefully I can resist whatever it is and shake it before we get Nick.

Have a great weekend all! We miss you!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Dancing on the Ceiling

How many of you remember the video of the Lionel Richie song, "Dancing on the Ceiling"? I must say I had forgotten its existence but they haven't on VH1 Classics, where we've actually had the pleasure? of seeing this video twice in the past two days. Its in the regular rotation. We've seen many other very old videos that seriously take me back to the beginnnig of MTV, I'll stop now before I completely date myself!

Today we started the day having coffee with my college friend Patricia. Patricia is the friend that I ran into unexpectedly on our first trip here, in the Munich airport. To read about our meeting here. She moved to Moscow in January with her husband and adorable little boy, Teddy. Patricia and her family are leaving for vacation this weekend and this would be our only time to meet up. It was great to see them again and they were soooo helpful with advice on things like where to buy baby food with English writing. (I had been freaking out a bit because when we checked out the baby food in our regular grocery all the writing was in Russian of course, and with the food allergies of Nick I was concerned about contents). Anyway, we've got the skinny of where to go and we checked it out on our way home from visiting Nick today. We should be good to go. We're sorry we won't be able to spend time with Patricia and family after we get Nick, but maybe the next time they make it to the states!

On the walk from the metro to the baby home I had an unfortunate incident where I was just walking along, minding my own business and suddenly my right foot hit a step up that I didn't see and I went flying, literally. I landed on my left knee, right elbow and my bag of baby stuff. My left shoe flew off in the opposite direction. I daresay it was probably pretty funny to watch, thankfully Bill didn't laugh, although he said he wished he had gotten a picture of me. I'm amazed that I didn't break anything and didn't rip any of my clothing. I have a few lovely bruises but other than that, and feeling pretty clumsy, I'm fine.

We visited Nick today for what we thought would be the last time before Gotcha day. One of the Russian families was visiting their baby today and they were in the "Locker Room" so we were sent outside. This was great for Nick but Bill and I could have used some warmer clothes. This is kind of funny, to take Nick outside they had us put him in knit leggings over his courdoroy overalls, a heavy sweater over his long sleeved shirt, a big coat and a hat. He was so bundled up he could hardly stand from a sitting position, poor guy!

There wasn't really anything new today, except Nick was doing alot more imitations of sounds and faces. It was pretty funny seeing him imitating the funny faces Bill was making. We played more with the train and the stacking and sorting cups. We are having a hard time getting Nick to the baby sign language for "More" now. Go figure. I think that will be easier to teach, along with many of the other signs, when we have him with us full time.

We got a bit of disappointing news today. Apparently the court decree for the adoption goes into effect Tuesday which means we can't pick Nick up until Tuesday. We don't know why it doesn't say Monday, because Monday is the 11th day of the 10 day wait. When we try to ask questions and push the process we get extremely vague answers. Its pretty frustrating. So, we won't be visiting Nick tomorrow, but will visit one more time on Monday and then pick him up for Gotcha Day on Tuesday.

We ate dinner tonight at Shesh Besh. We didn't like it as much as Kish Mesh (the two are similar). Part of the problem is that our waiter came and wanted to take our order immediately, like about one minute after we were seated. Anyone who has eaten out with me knows I have a hard time making up my mind some times, and thats when I know what I'm reading. The waiter came to take our order and would not leave without our drink and food order. I felt very rushed and ended up ordering lamb kebabs. I don't even like lamb, what was I thinking. As it turns out, I missed the page with the chicken and port kebab options. How unfortunate! I'm sure the kebabs were just fine if you like lamb, but they were not sitting well with me. Luckily Bill offered to share, so I had half of his dinner, which we really don't know what it was.
More tomorrow, hugs!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Keeping it Short...maybe not

OK, I'm going to try to keep it short today because its late and I'm pretty tired.

One of the many good things that happened today is that it didn't rain! It was fairly chilly, especially when the breeze picked up, but it didn't rain, at least not that I saw.

After an uneventful morning we headed to see Nick at our regularly scheduled time. Although he definitely warms up quickly, he cried once again when they brought him out to us. It makes me sad that he isn't happier to see us, but that will come over time. He's pretty easy to soothe, especially when we pull out the Cheerios.

Today we were in the room I affectionately call the Locker Room. It is the room with all the lockers with the childrens things, and it is the room between the play area and the outside. It is probably the absolute worst place to try to play with Nick because there are lots of distractions. I think I've said this before. Today was not any different.

We played with the Monkey/Elephant Train again and then we pulled out the stacking and sorting cups. Nick really liked these and they provided the entertainment for the bulk of our two hours. Nick really enjoyed putting the shapes in one container, moving them to another and then putting the top on. He also picked up the concept of putting the blocks through the holes in the top but had a bit of a hard time with which shapes go in which holes. It was fun and we'll be bringing that one back tomorrow.

Toward the end of our visit Nick seemed to get restless and I think he really wanted to go back to his groupa. I don't think he's used to this much one on one time and I think it might be stressing him out a bit. I do think his cold is improving, hopefully by the weekend it will be gone!

Tonight we had dinner with Ron and Dinia at their apartment. A young Russian friend of theirs also joined us. It was soooo wonderful. Their apartment is beautiful and they have quite a collection of Russian Artwork. What wonderful reminders of their time in Russia when they land in their next destination! Also, Dinia shared the book she has put together with pictures and notes from all the adoptive families they have met with over the past several months. This book is so special. Ron and Dinia have touched so many people at such an important time in their lives. We feel blessed to have met them.

We had Beef Stew which was really yummy and had a great kick to it, as well as Nachos for a starter and homemade Apple Pie with Ice Cream for dessert. Bill and I both had seconds!

After dinner we played a card game called, Wizard. It was pretty straightforward, you essentially have to predict how many tricks you think you are going to take and if you are exactly correct you get positive points, if you're off (either positive or negative) you lose points. The game is played in rounds and in the first round you get one card, second round two cards, etc. We played 11 rounds (I think). Anyway, the game was a hoot. It was really fun but I never quite got the hang of it and as a consequence, going into the last round I needed to have a positive round and be correct to get back to a score of 0, yes 0. Bill on the other hand couldn't make a mistake and won by a landslide with 340 points, which according to Ron and Dinia was a really high score. Congrats Bill on a game well played!

Thanks so much to Ron and Dinia for your hospitality and for a wonderful evening!

Bye for Now! Paka!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

How Long Can it Rain?

On Tuesday we woke up to rain, rain and more rain. Our commute to the baby home today was going to be very wet. I guess the good news is that at least half of it is underground!

We had a quiet morning with real coffee (YAY) and chocolate croissants for breakfast. We were due to visit Nick again today from 1 - 3. So we headed out around 11:45 for the hour trip to the baby home. We were doing it on our own for the first time.

The trip was very, very wet and by the time we arrived at the baby home both our pants were soaked from the knees down, our coats were drenched and we really looked like a mess. Luckily the security guard was not phased by our disheveled appearance and signed us in with no issues.

They brought Nick out to us and told us we were going to spend the day in the Music Room. I was very excited about this because the past few days (except for the time outside), when we have played in the room that is immediately outside of Nick's groupa, there are alot of distractions with people going in and out and bringing children in and out. By being able to take Nick to a separate room, we avoid these distractions, mainly.

We went to the Music Room which is a very large room with some comfy chairs and couches and then a very large open area. We had been playing in the open area for about 30 minutes when one of the workers came in the room and declared it was too cold for us to be playing there. The security woman speaks a bit of English, so she came back and told us we needed to move to a room down the hall. When the security woman saw Bill and Nick together she smiled and said they have "one face", meaning that they look alike. Its very interesting because Bill and I didn't really see it but several of our friends/family have said the same thing!

The new room was very comfortable, although I'm not sure it was really any warmer than the Music room. We had a fun day with Nick again. He seems to be getting more and more comfortable with us each day. We are getting many more smiles and giggles out of him. Bill found his tickle spot, so that is pretty funny because its about the only time we see him flat out giggle. He also did quite a bit of walking and seems to really enjoy toddling around.

We didn't have to pull out the cheerios much today at all. But when we did we tried to work on the sign for "more" again. He was more reluctant (or something) to use the sign today than he was yesterday. We'll keep trying. We also introduced the sign for "hat".

I'd say the bulk of our time was spent playing with the train that Julie gave us. Nick really has taken an interest in it. It has a front car with a place for a conductor, and then in the back car there are places for a monkey and an elephant. The figures fit on small pegs and if you press down on the pegs for the monkey and elephant they make the animal noises. If you press down on the conductor, the wheels move and there is a Choo-choo noise, whistle, etc. Nick spent alot of time pressing the pegs, listening to the noises and he also was trying to place the figures on the pegs. Placing the figures on the pegs proved to be a bit difficult for him but I think in no time he'll have it worked out.

Before we knew it our time was up and we had to take Nick back to his groupa. When we opened the door to take him back, Bill set him down and he toddled very quickly to one of his caregivers. He really loves the caregivers and his group. They all seemed very happy to see him again as well, with all the little ones converging around him when he came back into the area, too cute.

Of course when we left it was still raining. So we made the trek back to the apartment. We were both pretty beat so we stayed in for dinner and took it easy.

Tomorrow we have another visit with Nick, YAY! We also have dinner at Ron and Dinia's which we are looking forward to very much.

We miss everyone at home a ton and if you leave a comment or email, I promise we'll write back quickly!

Monday, August 4, 2008

One Week Down, Two to Go

I can't believe we have already been here for a week. Time actually has gone pretty fast this past week and I think time will fly once we get custody of Nick.

On Monday we were able to visit Nick again, WooHoo! Our normal visiting time is from 1 - 3 which is right after lunch and right before a snack and nap time. The plan today was to meet our translater, A, at the metro stop closest to the baby home. We would then walk to the home, with Bill leading the way to make sure we know how to get there. It took us about 50 minutes between walking and metro, to get from our apartment to the other metro stop, then it was another 15 minute walk from the metro to the baby home.

Once we arrived at the baby home it was slightly chaotic in the little room we usually play in because Nick's groupa was getting ready to go play outside. They have covered pavillions outdoors, filled with toys where the little ones can play. Its quite a nice setup and gets the kiddos out doors. They gave us Nick, and he was a little fussy but this time we had Cheerios ready to go. So he was fine once he saw that.

We went out to the pavillion and had a fun time playing with Nick and the other children. Another family visiting their little one on Trip One was also outside with us. It was good to see Nick interact with the other children in the groupa. Additionally, we saw some skills that he hadn't shown us before, like the ability to stand up unaided in the middle of a room and then walk, fairly unsteadily I might add, but he was still walking!

We also taught him to sign "more". We don't know if he really gets it yet, but he was doing it to indicate that he wanted more cheerios. Of course we think he is brilliant for picking this up so quickly. I think tomorrow we're going to try "hat" or "bird", and of course continue to work with "more".

Nick is also becoming more vocal. He was babbling alot more today and he said Mama, very clearly. Now we just have to teach him who Mama is because I'm pretty sure he called Bill Mama also. We will see how that progresses!

It seems that he has a slight cold because his little nose was running a bit and he coughed a few times. Hopefully this passes without getting any worse.

Before our translator left us, she secured a pass for us to use to visit Nick for the rest of the week. Bill seems slightly stressed out about this and I think we'll be fine. As far as we know, we show up, show the pass to the security guard and then head in to Nicks groupa. Tomorrow we'll find out if it works like it should.

After our visit with Nick we made the commute back to the apartment and regrouped to head out for an early dinner. After the 2 hours of commuting and 2 hours of playing non-stop, with no lunch, we were fairly hungry and tired. We decided to try an Uzbek restaurant called, Kish Mesh.

At Kish Mesh, Bill started with a hearty soup with potatoes, carrots and lamb (I think) and a Samsa. The Samsa was a large dumpling like object which appeared to be a cross between phyllo and puff pastry around seasoned mashed potato. (I am surely butchering the description of the food, but you get the idea.) I started with a Chebuluk (sp?) which was a light pastry around some type of soft cheese (hopefully not goat, but it was still good!) with seasonings. It was quite good. For our main courses we both had the kebabs, Bills was mutton and mine was chicken. We ordered the spicy sauce with the kebabs, which turned out to be slightly sweet but ended with a kick.

Tomorrow we venture to the baby home, by ourselves for the first time, to see Nick. I can't wait to see what the day brings us!


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Rainy Day

We had a slow start on Sunday trying to figure out how we wanted to spend the day. We finally decided to head out to the Novodevichiy Convent which is supposed to be a beautiful and serene holy site south of the city center. Apparently an early purpose of the convent was to sequester the daughters, sisters and wives of the nobility. On the grounds are several churches in various architectural styles and a cemetery where many of Russia's literary, musical and scientific heroes are buried. We ended up changing plans at the last minute because by the time we left our apartment the rain had started and it seemed like it might go on for a while. We're going to try to figure out another time to head to the convent, when the weather is better.

Our first stop on our outing was the large bookstore that is next to our apartment. It is the size of a Barnes and Noble, maybe even bigger. While there we purchased 2 CD's, one with Russian Fairy Tales and the other with Lullabies. We also purchased a DVD of Pinocchio in Russian.

We then walked for what seemed like a few hours, in the rain. We went from our apartment toward the City Center. We were looking for a restaurant we are interested in trying out called,
White Sun of the Desert. It took a bit of searching, but we finally found it. We didn't eat there because we want to go for dinner and it was mid-afternoon. But now we know where it is and plan on going sometime in the next week.

We decided to head over to one of the spots we found on our first trip, Maki Cafe for a snack. At the Maki Cafe Bill ordered the Siberian Fish Soup and Blinis with Sour Cream and I had the Pot Stickers. All the food was very good, as we had remembered it. It was also nice to rest for a bit as we had been walking for at least 2 hours prior to stopping to eat.

After our snack we headed back to our apartment, in the rain, with a quick stop by the grocery. At the grocery we were able to get our French Press, YAY! We were both very excited about that.

Upon returning to the apartment it was time to do some laundry. We have been here for almost a week and we didn't bring too many clothes (for ourselves at least). It took us longer than it should have to figure out the washing machine. The first load was lights, mainly. When I do laundry at home I am not a stickler about totally separing whites from other lights, etc. This proved to work against me today as all the whites in the first load came out pink. We can not figure out how this happened as there wasn't anything too dark or saturated with color that was in the load. Oh well, I suppose no trip to Russia would be complete without a laundry mishap!

Finally, we ended our day with a movie. We had another Netflix movie so we pulled it out. Without going into too much detail, one of us must have indicated that we like Terri Gilliam movies, because today's movie happened to be another Terri Gilliam flick and although I didn't think it was possible, this one was even more bizzare than the one last night.

Bye for now!

Passing Time

Its Sunday morning and I'm enjoying my breakfast of instant coffee and a biscuit. Bill is still sleeping. I don't know how he does it. It gets light very early in the morning (around 5:30am) and we have thin vertical blinds that don't really block much light at all.

I have to say a few words about the instant coffee we've been drinking, its awful. I've never been an instant coffee girl, but here in Moscow we have quite a selection of instant coffee, Nescafe (Classic and Gold), Folgers and Maxwell House. They are all terrible. So the other day we thought we would pick up a French Press at our local grocery store and that would save us. We both really like our coffee in the mornings. Anyway, we're in the grocery and find a little kiosk in the middle of the store with various coffees and many different sized French Presses. So we find one that we like for about $25. I go to the front and there is a woman sitting in a chair doing some sort of inventory and there is a hand written sign on the counter, of course it means nothing to me, and our dictionaries are buried in my bag. So I proceed to stand there, look at her, and will her to wait on us. She won't make eye contact, of course, and Bill says to me he thinks she must be closed. I really want good coffee so I stand there for another minute or so, and then we leave without our French Press. Oh well, maybe next time.

We had a fun day yesterday (Saturday). We made it out of the apartment around 11:30am with a plan to visit the Pushkin Museum. Buying tickets was slightly confusing because there was the regular ticket, the ticket to the Impressionists (different building) and a ticket to the Italian Masters. Bill got us the ticket for the main museum, that my guide book indicated also included some of the impressionists. Unfortunately my book was not correct and all the impressionists had been moved to the other building, for which we didn't have a ticket. We saw many beautiful works of European Art from the 13th - 18th centuries, but no impressionists. We'll be going back to see them later in the week.

Across the street from the Pushkin is the Cathedral of Christ the Redeemer. Wow, it is totally amazing and slightly over the top, but beautiful nonetheless. Apparently the original cathedral was blown up on Stalin's orders in 1931. The cathedral was rebuilt from 1994 - 1997 for a cost of US $200M. Here is a picture of the cathedral.

After the museum we decided to have some lunch. A place called 5 Spice (Chinese Food) had been recommended by Ron and Dinia, and Bill thought we were close so we set out to find it. I have to take a pause to say how good Bill is at finding things. He has an incredible sense of direction. I will have no idea where we are and he will know exactly. He doesn't understand how my sense of direction can be so bad. I think he thinks I'm making it up, but I'm not. It ended up being about a 10 minute walk from the museum to 5 Spice.
We were the only people in the restaurant, which was a little wierd. But the people were really nice, atmosphere was good, service was great, and best of all the food was really good. We both had the spicy ginger chicken. Bill thought it was the best meal he's had in Moscow. I think we'll probably go back there again before we leave because it was so good and its pretty close to our apartment.
After lunch we decided to head to the Arbat to see if we could find a place to sit outside, have a drink and enjoy the nice weather. We ended up stopping at the Doolin House which had outdoor seating under big umbrellas. When we got there the sun was out, there was a slight breeze and it was probably about 75 degrees. Shortly after arriving the wind picked up, the clouds rolled in and a fairly strong storm dumped a ton of rain and drove all the folks into the restaurant from the outside. We waited a while for the rain to slow down and when we thought it was stopping we left. We stopped at the local grocery on the way home and bought a frozen pizzen (yummy!) for dinner.
Back at the apartment we decided to watch one of the movies we brought. I'm really not sure how or why we ended up with this movie from Netflix, someone either recommended it or it came up on a list somehow. Anyway, we watched the movie Brazil. Oh my goodness, I hope I don't offend anyone, but it was really bizarre (not in a good way) and I'm certain that I didn't "get" it. I don't think we'll be watching that one again!
Bye for now, enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Friday, August 1, 2008

A Lazy Day

We weren't sure what we were going to do today because we weren't scheduled to see Nick. We wanted to, but we needed a translator to join us one more time to show us the way and no one was available. So we will wait until Monday to see him again. I can't wait!

We spent a good part of the morning researching restaurants and cafes to visit over the next few days. As opposed to our last trip, we are within walking distance of many spots that we're looking forward to trying. I think the difficulty may be having enough energy by dinner time to actually go out. We'll have to work on our endurance for sure, we'll need it when Nick comes home.

We headed out around 11:30am for coffee at Starbucks which is about a 10 minute walk from our place. We found a table outside and had a really nice time sitting in the sun (yes, it was sunny today!) and watching the foot traffic on the Arbat. The only downside was the pushy roaming artist with a friend named Nicolette in Massachusettes. He spoke enough English to know that we weren't interested but he kept acting like he was going to start drawing. I finally said "Nyet" in my firmest voice (anyone who has heard me scold Abby will know the voice, which often makes Bill laugh) and it worked, I guess I'm scarier in Russian!

After Starbucks we walked around a bit and then went to the lunch spot that Bill had picked out called Tinkoff, which is, among other things, a brewpub. We had lunch there and hung out for a bit. Bill had the Borscht and we shared a pepperoni pizza. I have to say, the pizza was really good and I would recommend it to anyone coming here. The food was also reasonably priced (for Moscow).

On the way back to the apartment we checked out Detskiy Mir which is the childrens store across the street from us. We bought a few little toys for Nick and looked for a hat that we can use while we're here if it really gets down into the low 60s. Bill seems to favor the hats that have little animal ears on them, like bear ears. I didn't find any of those but will keep looking.

We stayed in for dinner tonight and watched the James Bond movie "From Russia With Love". It was good, pretty funny all in all, and we both enjoyed it. Thanks Mike D!

Tomorrow I think we're going to hit the Pushkin Museum and I'm not sure what else. Have a great weekend everyone!