Sunday, August 14, 2011

Overdue Update

I am way overdue for an update on how Ivan and Nick are both doing which I will get to shortly. 

I have been silent here in blogland lately due to some personal events.  As some of you may remember, my dad died in late May, right before we travelled to Moscow to pick up Ivan.  Then in mid-July, my brothers and sisters had just come to visit for my dad's memorial when my stepdad passed away.  This timing also coincided with my return to work full-time (for the first 6 weeks I was working from home).  I went to my hometown in Illinois for my stepdads funeral with my sister and her husband and left all the boys home.  I knew that I would be a mess and that although my mom had not yet met Ivan, it probably wouldn't be the best circumstance for that.  Needless to say, July was quite an emotionally challenging month.  The two losses in close proximity were more than I could handle and I was having a hard time motivating myself to do much more than go to work and take care of the boys.  I'm finally starting to feel like myself again and there is alot to post regarding both Ivan and Nick.

I'll start with Ivan.  I think we have gotten control of the eczema (thanks Rachel for your great advice!).  YAY!  I am so happy it is gone on his face and around his eyes.  What finally worked for us was the Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy on his face and a mixture of the Aveeno Baby and 1% Cortisone on his body.  He still has a bit of a rash on his chin so we will keep at it.  His chin stays wet most of the time due to constant drooling (from teething) so when we get a break with the teething I'm hoping the chin will clear up too. 

Speaking of teeth, Ivan now has 6 on top and bottom.  He has been teething like crazy since we brought him home.  Luckily he is really good natured and hasn't been too fussy.  When he does get fussy and there is no identifiable root cause I will try giving him Hyland's teething tablets which worked with Nick and seem to work pretty well with him too.

Just this past week Ivan started using the "more" sign and has started walking!  I missed his first unaided steps (while at work) but have been working with him on trying more and more.  He is more confident in walking sideways than forwards.  Seemed odd to me until Bill pointed out that when he cruises around he is usually walking sideways.  He gets so excited when he takes a few steps without help from anyone.  We missed this stage with Nick and its fun to see Ivan mastering these new skills.

We have been spending a fair amount of time at the pool lately.  Nick took swim lessons in early July and did very well.  He went off the diving board for the first time and has started to figure out how to do the crawl.  It's amazing how much faster he gets to his destination when he uses his arms.

Ivan has been enjoying the pool as well.  At first I was hanging out in the baby pool with Ivan while Nick was in his swim lessons and afterwards, but thanks to one of my sweet neighbors who assured me I could handle Nick and Ivan in the big pool, I tried it and found that Nick is pretty self sufficient and just needs an arm to grab onto now and then.  The big pool is where Nick likes to be and it is so much more pleasant than the warm water in the baby pool.  I was really happy to be able to make the transition.

Nick has been enjoying his new role as big brother and is often very helpful with Ivan.  Especially in the morning and at meal times.  Nick has taken to climbing into Ivan's crib in the morning and we will often find the two of them there together laughing and having fun playing.  The one area that I would say Nick needs more time with is being gentle.  He seems to have a hard time understanding that he can't play rough with Ivan.  We will continue to work on this with him.

In the interest of getting this posted I will close with some pictures of the boys!

4th of July Parade

Brothers Hanging Out

Ivan with Aunt Linda


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A weekend of Firsts over the 4th of July!

Happy Independence Day!

We are enjoying a quiet weekend at home this 4th.  We started the weekend off a bit early on Friday with Bill taking the boys into work early on Friday afternoon before they went home around 2.  Nick had a fun time meeting everyone and according to Bill, Ivan held up pretty well but by the time they got home Ivan was exhausted so immediately went down for his afternoon nap.  After nap time we made a late afternoon trip to the neighborhood pool.  This was our first trip to the pool this year!  Last year we went several times a week but with all the changes we hadn't made it over yet.  Nick took two sessions of swim lessons at the Y over the winter and unfortunately forgot much of what he learned but will hopefully catch up quickly.  He really wants to go off the diving board this summer so that is the goal.  Ivan spent his time in the baby pool and seemed to enjoy it.  He loved splashing around and also liked to try to pick up the various leaves and blades of grass that were floating around.  He is not quite tall enough to sit in the baby pool without his face being partially submerged so thus did alot of standing.

On Saturday morning Bill took Nick to see Cars 2, which they both seemed to enjoy.  Apparently there is a 3D version and a regular version.  They went to the 3D and Bill noted that although he enjoyed it he thought Nick probably would have liked the regular version more (something about the glasses not fitting right).  It was the first movie in a theater that Nick has ever been to and it was a definite hit.

Saturday night we went out for dinner for the first time as a family of 4.  We went for Mexican and everyone did really well.  I really couldn't believe it.  Nick is usually pretty good in restarants but we weren't sure how patient Ivan would be.  It turns out Ivan is quite easy going and took the experience in stride.

On Sunday we went to a party at some friends from our old neighborhood.  It was so great to see so many families that we've known for years and I just can't believe how grown up all the kids are.  Of course, we were thrilled to introduce Ivan to everyone.  He did great!  We are definitely getting out more with Ivan than we did with Nick at first.  I think its good for him and for us, even if it gets away from the "keep the world small" creed of adoption.

Ivan is really adapting quite well.  The main problem we're battling right now is his eczema.  The first time we met him the eczema on one of his cheeks was so bad it looked like it was disfiguring his face.  When we finally took custody of him it had cleared up quite a bit so I was relieved but since we've had him patches have come back on his face and arms.  The worst is the redness on his upper and lower eyelids.  I didn't get much support from our pediatrician regarding treatment so I am working through various remedies that friends have suggested including working on the diet and the environment.  We already have scentless cleaning products due to Bill's sensitive skin and we have tried to keep Ivan's clothing to all natural fibers.  We have eliminated cows milk and are gearing up to eliminate wheat.  I also tried one of the many Aveeno products yesterday and it seems to be helping.  They have some specific products for babies and eczema, which aren't the one that we've got but we will try those next if the current one doesn't work. 

Adding to his discomfort would be the heat rash he has developed under his chin and on his neck.  This is exacerbated by his constant drooling (from the 4-5 teeth that are coming in) and crazy heat we've had around here lately. 

Picture post coming soon.

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day! And an update on brotherly love

Happy Father's Day to all the dads and future dads out there! 

Today is a happy and sad day for me.  It's happy because its Bill's first Father's Day with two sons!  It's sad because it is the first Father's Day since my dad passed away.  My dad passed away this May, between our Court and Pickup trips for Ivan.  It was very sad to lose him but I know he is in a better place now (sorry for the cliche).  My dad was diagnosed with alzheimers several years ago and was advanced in his decline.  I'd estimate he stopped knowing me between 3 and 4 years ago.  I had a long time to greive for the loss of my Dad as I knew him, the loss of him knowing my children, the loss of him knowing me, my siblings and my stepmom.  I thought I had greived all that I could for my Dad already, but have found myself getting teary eyed now and then over the past few days, knowing that Father's Day was approaching.  Given how events played out over the past few months I am so happy that we chose to keep Ivan's given name, which is the Russion version of John.  John was my Dad's name and I am glad we were able to honor him in this way!

We have now been home for two weeks and things are going well although we've had some rough spots.  Ivan's adjustment has been good for the most part.  He is crawling more on his knees than on his stomach and he loves cruising on the furniture.  He is feeding himself finger foods and is starting to enjoy eating food with more texture.  We are still mainly on baby food, stage 2 and 3 and I hope to introduce more "real" food such as pasta, soft fruits and veggies in the upcoming weeks. 

Ivan is a good sleeper and sleeps 11 hours per night almost like clockwork.  He then takes two naps that total 3 - 4 hours.  He doesn't cry when he wakes up, which can be challenging if you're sleeping, or not checking on him every 15 minutes. 

He doesn't like having his diaper changed and also doesn't like getting dressed, which makes for some challenges throughout the day.  He is definitely getting more comfortable with the routine and surroundings and his true personality is showing through.

Now onto Nick, I would say the adjustment for him has been much harder to manage than the adjustment for Ivan.  Ever since bringing Nick home he has had difficulties with transitions.  The transitions of teachers and classrooms at his pre-school/daycare have been the hardest for him to handle up to this point.  After moving classes or getting a new teacher it takes Nick between 2 and 3 weeks to settle in to the change.  The addition of a brother has proven to be difficult as well but he is coming around.

Nick is extremely interested in Ivan's sleeping, eating, pooping, etc.  Every night at bedtime he wants to check on Ivan before reading stories and every morning he wants to check on Ivan.  He likes to give him kisses and recently has shown interest in picking him up/holding him.  He is getting better about sharing his toys and is pretty adept at redirecting Ivan away from things he doesn't want him playing with.

Nick has regressed in some ways as he now wants help every morning when getting dressed and he also often wants help eating.  Another recent development is the over-dramatization when he hurts himself.  For example, if Nick trips and falls down, in the past he would get up and brush it off.  Lately, if he falls or whatever, he makes a big deal about it, cries, needs to be picked up and generally over reacts.  I don't think this is unusual in any way.  Its just how things are these days.

I hope everyone has a great Sunday and Father's Day!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Happy 1st Birthday Ivan!

Today was Ivan's 1st birthday!  We had a low-key celebration with just the family.  I had decided that I would make cupcakes for the occasion, which is almost unheard of around here (me baking that is).  Ivan and I had to go out around lunchtime to meet Bill to have some documents notarized (yeah, the paperwork continues!) and we stopped at the grocery store to pick up the cupcake makings.  On the way there I reminded myself, remember the eggs, remember the eggs, and what did I forget, the eggs.  I did finally make cupcakes, but not until later this afternoon after Bill got home from work.

Here are some pictures from today.  Also, I promise I will post on Ivan's progress and adjustment so far and also on how Nick is doing with his new brother as soon as I can.  Happy Flag Day!

Cruising with the truck

Learning to pucker up!

Crazy Hair

Help with the candle!

Not sure about the icing...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Our Trip Home

I have so much to catch up on!  I'll start with our trip home and see how far I can get.

We flew out of Moscow last Saturday morning.  Ivan woke up Saturday morning with the sniffles and though he felt warm he didn't have a fever (more on this later), which was good news.  We had packed fairly lightly for the trip so we only had one large suitcase, two small suitcases, an umbrella stroller, a backpack and my carry on bag.  Check in and security went very well and we made it to our gate at 11am for our 1pm flight.  While we were waiting we met a gentleman who had just completed court in one of the regions and was flying back to the states while his wife stayed in country for the 10 day waiting period.  We had a nice chat with him about adoptions, Ivan, the process, etc.  The time passed fairly quickly and I was definitely relieved by this.

We purchased a seat for Ivan so that we could have a row of 3 seats for the trip to New York.  Once we settled in we decided to feed Ivan lunch and were hopeful that he would sleep after that.  Ivan had been a pretty good sleeper so we had high hopes.  He did sleep a bit after his lunch, but with all the activity of the carts and Bill and I receiving our meals, Ivan woke up and wouldn't go back to sleep.  I think he had been sleeping for about an hour at that point.  Unfortunately, he didn't sleep again during the 10 hour flight until we landed.  It was quite challenging to say the least and I think the fact that he was feeling bad did not help the situation.  I'm really not sure what we did the whole time to keep him entertained but somehow we made it through.  He literally crashed as we touched down in New York.  I was happy because the poor guy was exhausted at that point (~20 hours into the trip).  But moving him through Immigration, rechecking bags and going back through security, while trying to keep him asleep proved to be very difficult.

While we were going through security a couple that we had been sitting close to on the plane asked if Ivan was adopted, I think they probably saw the passport or the envelope when we went through Immigration.  Anyway, I said yes and they told me they were in the process.  So, I asked which region and then it hit me that they would have been meeting their referral so I asked if they had met their child and they told me that they had had to turn down their referral and apparently did not receive a second referral.  I started to tear up as I told them how sorry I was.  Having turned down our first referral during our adoption of Nick, I felt so bad for them and to go home without meeting a second child would be a very very difficult outcome.  They told me it had been a very tough few days but that seeing all the people with their adopted children on the flight (I think there were 3 or 4 families) helped remind them that it can and does work out.  They seemed like the sweetest people, I wish them the best as they go forward with the process.

Ivan slept during the bulk of our layover in New York and aside from moving gates twice, our flight left on time and we made it back home around 11pm.

The trip was pretty hard because of Ivan's lack of sleep, and our lack of sleep.  But, the good news is that he acclimated to the new time zone very quickly.  Aside from waking up between 4 and 5 am on the first two or three mornings Ivan has been sleeping about 11 hours per night and is taking two naps per day for another 3 hours of sleep.

I have so much more to post about our first week but want to get this out there so I'll write more as soon as I can and will close with some pictures!


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ivan Update

My plans to blog daily have been foiled by the technical issues we've had. They are due to a combination of poor Internet service in the apartment and the lack of an adapter that will allow transfer of pictures from my Canon camera to our iPad. We didn't bring the laptop on this trip and thought it would be fine but now to get pictures to the iPad is a major undertaking. We have take pics with the iPhone and then can email them to the blog for posting because the iPad and blogger don't seem to cooperate when it comes to pictures. So these are the troubles. Doesn't sound too bad but. Throw in the poor Internet connection and it can be pretty frustrating.

Aside from our tech difficulties our time with Ivan so far has been wonderful. I didn't mention it before but in our time with Ivan before this trip we had never seen him smile. I would say I was somewhat concerned about that but tried not to dwell on it. We also hadn't seen him crawl or even attempt to crawl. What we've experienced since bringing him home is an easy going, smiley, cuddly little guy who shimmies around on his tummy to get where he wants to be.

I haven't mentioned it yet but Ivan is almost one year old. We are thrilled that we'll be home for his first birthday and will celebrate with friends and family. So the reason I say this is that he is definitely delayed a bit. He doesn't know how to feed himself finger foods yet. We will hold out yogurt melts, puffs or cheerios and he just looks at them. I am making it my mission to teach him that he has the power to put the snack in his mouth but he seems perfectly content to be fed.

He is quite verbal and chatters away at times. He gets very excited at meal times and kicks his legs around until we start feeding him. He seems to like everything we've fed him so far. We're sticking with the canned baby food, yogurt, apple-pear sauce and have moved him onto Milk. So far so good with that!

He is a pretty good sleeper too. Yesterday the embassy doc, Dr. Boris, came to the apartment to do the embassy physical at 7:30am. After he left we walked down to Red Square to take some pictures and to enjoy the gorgeous morning. The weather has been just beautiful. Ivan fell asleep on the walk home and during our stop for coffee. We went out around 1pm to get lunch and again, Ivan fells asleep on the way to lunch and slept right up until we left the restaurant. He finished his nap with me on our bed, too sweet!

Today we go to the Embassy to complete the process for Ivan's Visa. We found out earlier in the week that we would be done with everything by today and that we could leave Friday if we could change our flights. When Bill called yesterday we found out it would cost about $2000 to change the flights to Friday. Needless to say, we're staying till Saturday.

With that I'll say bye for now and will try to post more pictures soon!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Introducing Ivan Alexander Gemmill

We promised a picture! Hopefully we will get more posted later today.

Gotcha Day - Ivan Alexander Gemmill

Today was the day! At 1PM we picked up Ivan from Babyhouse 15. After a long drive back to the apartment we spent the afternoon with our new little boy. Unfortunately, I had to leave Meghan and Ivan for a couple of hours to pick up Ivan's passport. But, by all accounts they had a good afternoon, including some smiling and laughing. His personality is already starting to come out, he is starting to smile and interact much more than we had previously seen. The evening went really well also. Dinner was pretty easy with only a few tears during bath time. He stopped crying when I poured water on him to rinse him off, he must of liked that. Next we got ready for bed and listened to the Baby Einstein lulllabies which he seemed to enjoy. When we put him down in the crib, he cried for 30 seconds, and was asleep within 15 minutes, so far it has been pretty good. After Ivan was asleep, we enjoyed a traditional Russian dinner of Pelmini. Embassy Doc is coming to visit at 7AM tomorrow and then we need to visit the Embassy to get Ivan's visa (we think Thursday). After that, we are cleared to go home. And now what everyone is waiting for, pictures! But wait, we are having technical difficulties and after an hour of trying, we have decided that it's not going to happen tonight. For those of you with Facebook connection to Meghan or myself, we will post them there for now. We will be adding pictures to the blog as soon as we can.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

On Our Way

I have been a terrible blogger this week! It's been very busy between preparing for our little one at home and getting ready for the trip and trying to wrap things up at work for a while.

I can't believe we are actually leaving for Moscow today! As far as I know our schedule will be arriving Monday, check in at the apartment and then relax until Tuesday when we pick our little guy up for good!

We have had a few set backs in terms of the exchange of beds and furniture. We are going to use Nick's crib (which is now a double bed) and then have a bunk bed coming for Nick. The problem is that late this week we learned that the new bed wasn't going to be delivered before our trip. So we've done some improvising and hopefully the bed will arrive shortly after we get home next weekend.

Nick is super excited for his brother to come home! He doesn't really like the fact that we're leaving again! We considered bringing him with ius either on the court trip or even this one but In the end we thought it would be too hard for him.

Well I am blogging on my iPhone and we're getting ready to board our flight so I'll say bye for now.

Enjoy the holiday weekend!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Paparrazzi at Court...but not for us

Today we had a busy day that started with court in the morning and a visit with our little one in the afternoon.

I forgot to mention in my post yesterday that the family we met on our first trip was back for court with us, so we all traveled there together is morning. It is so nice to have another family to share the experience with.

When we arrived at the courthouse there were many photographers and reporters surrounding the entrance to one of the courtrooms. It turns out that in the courtroom right next to ours was the appeal hearing (for money laundering and embezzlement) for the former richest man in Russia, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. It was quite the spectacle!

Before court we had a quick briefing on what to expect. We didn't have the same judge as our first hearing and I was a bit disappointed by this but it was fine. Our judge was a fairly young man who spoke very softly and didn't smile. Bill took the first set of questions, which are generally longer and more involved than the second, and he did very well. My questions mainly consisted of being sure I agreed with Bill's responses. We were done in about 30
minutes with the final decision being approval of our petition to adopt our son.

After court we headed to the baby home to visit our son. We were able to spend almost 2 hours with him and we had a really nice visit. The eczema on his face had almost completely cleared up and he seemed in good spirits...until we put him on his hands and knees to see if he wanted to crawl. He immediately broke down in big tears. For the rest of the visit, every time we tried to sit him on the floor to play, he would cry. He would stop as soon as one of us picked him up. He must have been tired because shortly before the end of the visit he fell asleep in Bill's arms, so sweet!

It's always hard to say goodbye, but this time it's only for a few days!

Tomorrow we fly back home and before we know it we'll be on our way back.

Have a great week!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Safely in Moscow

This is a quick post to say we made it to Moscow. We almost missed our connection in New York due to our first flight being delayed by 2 hours! We had to run through JFK and they had already closed the door to the jetway when we arrived. Thankfully, the nice agent let us through and we were able to board.

Unfortunately, Bill and I were not able to sit together. I got the short straw and sat next to one of the most obnoxious people I've ever had to sit next to. To sum it up there was cursing, snorting, nose blowing, snot flying (yup, I felt the spray), and random used tissues being tossed my way for about 9 hours straight.

We couldn't believe it when our bags actually showed up in Moscow. We have court in the morning and will visit our little one in the afternoon! Can't wait.

I'll try to follow up tomorrow with an update!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Almost Ready

Ok, blogger lost this post that was originally posted on Wednesday and now the end is gone, Boo!

I can hardly believe we leave in just 5 days for Moscow.  Wow, time has gone so quickly since we received our court date. 

We had just a few documents left when we returned from Moscow.  We needed our I-171H, FBI Clearances and updated medicals.  In the Moscow region medicals expire after 3 months so we had to go back to the doctors for updated physicals.  I don't know which is worse, the physicals or the fingerprints with their various expirations.

Anyway, we cut it a bit close on the updated medicals and didn't realize all our updated docs were expected at our agency last Friday.  We found this out on Wednesday and luckily we were on track to complete but it was still a bit stressful.

Other than the paperwork I have been spending a fair amount of time on the weekends shopping for the various gifts for those that have helped us in Russia.  We have the baby home director, doctor and caregivers, plus a donation to the baby home and then gifts for our agency staff in Russia.

I am a terrible shopper and not the best gift giver.  We were given some hints about what to buy which was helpful.  I ended up getting jewelry for the ladies.  I decided to go with pieces I might give to a friend and hopefully they will like them.  I bought one cute clutch handbag that is kind of dressy and very "in" right now, at least in the states.  Then for the caregivers I bought small travel sets with lotion, shampoo, body wash soap, loofah (or something like that).  For the baby home we were instructed to bring clothing.  I am happy to say we've got a duffle loaded up with new and gently used baby clothing so we're in good shape there.

Aside from preparing for court we have had Nick's 4th birthday and checkup.  Nick had a great doctors visit and was at about the 50th percentile for height and weight.  He was very good with the doctor, didn't call him any inappropriate names (like Yucky or Poopy) and he was able to do the eye chart with letters.  Yay.

If there is time I will post one more time before we leave.  Have a great weekend all!

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Great Day!

This is going to be really quick but we had two pieces of really great news today.

The first is that we have a court date.  In about 3 weeks we'll be back in Moscow!  We are totally excited and have spent tonight finding flights, ordering Visas and booking our hotel.

The second thing that happened today is that we received our I-171H.  Let me tell you that this has been a big source of stress for us.  We actually had to miss our fingerprint appointment due to our first trip to Moscow so the Tuesday after we returned from our first trip we walked in for an unscheduled fingerprint appointment.  They let us right through and we were out of there in 20 minutes. It was amazing.  So anyone who may be reading this, know that this is an option for you.  If we had waited until our appointment reschedule, we wouldn't have had the approval by our court date.  The time elapsed to receive the I-171H since the fingerprint appointment was 20 days.  Not bad!

One of the reasons we are so happy about the timing of this is that we really wanted to bring our little guy home before his first birthday.  It appears that we will be able to do that given the way things are working out.

I hope everyone had a fantastic Easter and will try to post more regularly now because we have quite a bit of work to do before the trip!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Random Observations

Now that we're back home and mainly rested, I thought it would be fun to post some random observations from our trip.

1)  The mullet is alive and well in Moscow.  In case anyone thinks it died in the 80's, we saw many men sporting this hairdo proudly.  Bill thinks its because Russia is a hockey country.  If that is true, are mullets still prevalent in Canada?

2)  When we met our son on the first day they brought him to us in a pink flowered outfit.  For a moment I wondered if they had brought us the correct child because he looked very feminine.  Even our doctor was thrown off at first from the pictures.  During our visits on the 2nd day he was dressed more like a boy.

3)  Nothing goes the way you think it will.  So it is best to be flexible and "go with the flow".

4)  There isn't much random smiling happening out on the streets of Moscow.  We joked that you can pick out the Americans because we smile at strangers.

5)  Eating out in Moscow has gotten even more expensive than last time.  For example, a pot of coffee at our hotel was approximately $30.  It made Starbucks look reasonable!

6)  When someone sitting next to you on the plane talks for 9 of a 12 hour flight, the seat neighbors are not appreciative.

7)  Conversations often sound like arguments, but are perfectly normal in the end.  Our driver would take us to a place and I assume explain our purpose.  It would sound like an argument, and then he would turn to us and say something like, "Yeah, we are old friends and go way back".

8)  Sometimes its best to stop asking questions.

9)  Wearing black is always appropriate in Moscow.

10)  Next time we need to set up Skype to keep in touch with Nick.  We forgot to do this and I regretted the whole time we were gone.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Heading Home Soon

It's funny how the mind (and memory) works.  I had forgotten, or put out of my head, how stressful this process is.  The past 48 hours have been incredibly stressful and wonderful all at the same time.

I don't think either Bill or I slept very well last night.  We felt really good about the visit with our little guy yesterday but until we heard back from our IA doctor we were trying to not get too far ahead of ourselves.  Thankfully we awoke to good feedback from our doctor and I felt like a weight was lifted off our shoulders.

Today we were able to visit our little guy twice at the hospital, once this morning and then again later this afternoon.  Our morning visit was about 45 minutes and our afternoon visit was an hour and a half.  I was very happy that when we arrived they took us to a play room that had a rug on the floor, a few chairs and lots of toys.  This environment was much more conducive to a good visit. 

Our sweetie pie was much more alert today than yesterday.  We think he wasn't feeling well, he had a runny nose, sounded congested in the chest and felt warm.  Despite his cold, he seemed to enjoy playing with us and warmed up to us especially during our second visit.  We were able to get a much better assessment of his development today and didn't observe all of the milestones that his file said he had met.  I'm not terribly surprised by this and we believe his delays are consistent with what you would expect from a child who has been institutionalized. 

After our morning with our son, we met with our agency Coordinator and signed the official papers to declare our intent to adopt!  Woohoo.  It sounds like we could be back for court in a matter of 6 - 8 weeks!  As far as we're concerned, the sooner the better.

We head home tomorrow and I am very sorry to have to leave our little guy for so long but I am very anxious to get home to Nick and his grandparents.

Have a great weekend everyone!       

Thursday, March 31, 2011

It's a Boy!

Our meeting at the MOE went well and we received our referral. YAY.  He is a boy and we are overjoyed!  Finally our purpose for this trip was going to happen and we would meet our son.

We had a long drive from the MOE to the baby home.  When we arrived we were able to get information on his health and life so far.  After that, we travelled to a local Children's Hospital where we spent about 30 minutes with our little guy.  We didn't have the best conditions for our visit.  We were in a break room type of room with a big table, booth seating and a little bit of space.  When they brought our little guy to us it was a bit unnerving because there were many people around; our interpretor, about 4 nurses and us. 

Our little guy had been woken up from a nap so was a bit groggy at the beginning of our visit.  He was very interested in what was happening and definitely liked the giggling bee we brought.  His eye contact was ok and I thought once I almost saw a smile but not quite.  I so wanted to put him on the floor to see how he could get around.  He's not yet walking and I wanted to get a feel for his gross motor skills.  I am going to push (gently) to see if we can play with him in an environment where he can be on the floor, at least for a few minutes.  I suspect they will have none of this but I'll try tomorrow.

Our visit was very short so its hard to really assess much about his personality but all comments from the caregivers (and our observations) indicate he is fairly laid back and calm, as far as babies go.  We'll see when we are able to spend more time with him.

We will visit him at least one time tomorrow in the late morning and hopefully again in the afternoon.  We can't wait to spend more time with him!

I will post more tomorrow!

Here we go!

Today we are going to the Ministry of Education to receive our referral and after our meeting we will head to the baby home to visit.  We are very excited!

If possible I will post later today but we think we are going to be quite pressed for time given our late start.

Have a great day everyone!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Passing the Time

Time seem to be crawling by.  We're both having a bit of a struggle adjusting to the time change. I stayed up late last night watching The Champ. Anyone remember that movie? It is a real tear jerker, even 30 years later! It probably wasn't the best choice but there isn't a whole lot to choose from.  Bill was up from about 3 - 6am last night and is now sleeping away.

We had one meeting yesterday that went well and now we wait for our referral.  We are hoping that we will get to meet our little one on Wednesday but it may not be until Thursday. 

In the mean time, the plan for today is to sightsee.  Although, its currently snowing outside and looks really cold!    

Hopefully I will get some good pictures today!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

We're in Moscow

This is a quick post to say we made it safely to Moscow and have settled into the hotel.  It's so cold here and poor Bill didn't bring a hat!  We hope to find one for him tomorrow but I have my doubts because Spring is coming, or so we're told. 

I'm so happy to be back in this great city and wish we could fast forward to Wednesday (or Thursday) which is when we think we get to meet our referral.

I will post more when I am not so tired and after we really get out and about.

Have a great week!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Quick Update

We're all ready to go, I think.  We received our Visa's on Thursday which was really fast and everything looks good!  We're packed and ready to meet our little one.  We're taking a blanket, teddy bear and photo album to leave behind.  We had so much more stuff last time.  Hopefully we haven't forgotten anything too important.

Bill and I are both totally excited and very optimistic about what lies ahead for us in the coming days.

We think we probably won't meet our referral until Wednesday so aside from a few meetings at the MOE we'll probably spend our time seeing Moscow.

I'm a bit worried about Nick and how he will do with us being gone for so long.  This is the longest we've ever been away from him and I hope he doesn't get too upset.

We've got Nick's first soccer game this morning right before we leave for the airport.  It should be fun!

I will do my best to blog about what is happening while we're in Moscow.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Someone Pinch Me!

Today I received a very surprising phone call from our agency asking whether we could get ourselves prepared to travel next Saturday!  Yes, less than one week away.  I didn't even know we could get Visas that fast.  But as I'm sure many of you know, it is possible.

So, after tearing up just a little bit, I pulled myself together and called Bill to tell him the news.  I couldn't get in touch with him immediately so I tried to concentrate on work.  After what seemed like an eternity I finally had a chance to talk to Bill.  The most important piece of this puzzle was to ensure that we had a good plan for Nick's care while we're gone.  Bill's mom and dad graciously offered to come stay with Nick, so with the main concern under control we were good to go.

I called our agency to let them know we would be able to make it happen.  Our director told us to hold off on making any arrangements until she sent the official dates.  An hour or so later we received the dates and then the Visa Application process began.  Those forms are soooo tedious.  It took at least 2 hours to fill them out and get everything ready to go.  But, we were able to pull everything together and get it all fed ex'd to the Visa expeditors.  I'm glad to have that done, hopefully we didn't make and mistakes in the paperwork.

For the past few hours we have been researching flights and accomodation options.  I think we finally have it all straight!  I am so excited but there is still so much to do before we go.

Nick starts soccer this Saturday and we still need to get some of the gear for that.  In addition, his birthday party is the weekend after we come home which means I need to get the cake ordered before we go.  We also need to purchase some things for the trip, get doctors lined up, special money, and I'm sure a million other things I haven't thought of.

I will try to post again later on this week with an update but wanted to quickly share this great news!

Happy Monday All! 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What's been on my mind...

I'll start with an update and then move on to some things I've been thinking about lately.

We finished our dossier a little over 2 weeks ago and it should be on its way to Russia soon if it isn't already.  We didn't quite finish up as quickly as we had hoped.  Because of the volume of documents, we needed to leave them at the Sec of States office and then picked them up the next week.  All was well and our adoption coordinator had no changes after her review.  This was really great news and if all goes well it sounds like we could get our travel dates some time in March with a trip in April???.  I am over the moon happy about this and hope the timing works out because April is shaping up to be really busy.  So far we have a 10K the first weekend, Nick's birthday party the second weekend and his actual birthday the third weekend.  It should be interesting to see what happens!

In other news, there are two things that have been consuming my thoughts lately.  The first is that I am having a really hard time figuring out how to talk about the pending addition of a brother or sister with Nick.  I think the main reason I'm having a hard time with it is that there is so much uncertainty about timing that I'm worried about setting up expectations with him that could end up taking longer than we think.  I feel like until we meet our future son or daughter, it is less "real" and still a dream.  Nick can get really focused on upcoming events and I suppose my reluctance is for both ours and his sanity.  If anyone has any thoughts or advice on this I would love to hear it.

On the second topic, let me open by saying I really hope this doesn't offend anyone.  I'm just venting and getting things off my chest.  The second thing that I have been thinking about (too much) is my age.  A little background may help give context to my issue.  My mom was 39 when she had me, which at the time (back in the day), was fairly unusual.  But, I was the last of 5 kids with a spread of 18 years between myself and my oldest sibling.  For whatever reason I was very aware that my parents were not really friends with my friends parents and it bothered me (I don't know why, small town...).  In retrospect this was not too surprising, they were 10 - 15 years older than many of them and were in a different place in their lives I suppose.  I chalked up the fact that my parents weren't in the "cool" parents group, to their ages.  Growing up I always thought to myself that I would never be the "old" mom. 

Fast forward to my early 30's and beyond and I realized those things you tell yourself when your a kid are not so easy to control.  Marriage in my 30's, unexplained infertility, and decisions about adoption ate up those precious years and here I am, in my (almost mid) 40's adopting a young child.  So, aside from the normal adoption worries and concerns, I'm worried about fitting in with the other parents.  I know this probably seems silly and superficial to many of you.  I can appreciate that at some level it is superficial, that I should concentrate on what really matters and be happy that I even have this opportunity.  Being a parent and growing our family far outweigh whether I am in the "in crowd" with the moms.  But, this doesn't stop me from thinking about it.

On that note, I will say bye for now.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Making Progress!

During and after our first adoption I was very involved in keeping in touch and following the progress of all my blogger friends.  By Fall of 2009, it had became harder to find the time to blog and the changes in our lives with Bill working/living out of town during the week, coupled with Nick's age and his reaction to the situation made it really hard to keep up so I stopped.  I stopped blogging, I stopped reading blogs (regularly) and I pretty much withdrew from the community.  Granted, I would check in here and there but rarely commented.  I feel guilty about disappearing for 1.5 years and then coming back on the scene.  The good part about it is that I am slowly getting caught up on all the wonderful events that have gone on since I checked out.  So many families have gone back to Russia to build their families and it is just wonderful.  Late last summer, as Bill and I began talking about going back for a second adoption, I found inspriration in those of you that had started the process for a second (or third) time.  Thank you all!

Now, with our homestudy complete in early January, it was time to work on our Dossier.  We received the list of documents from our agency, 65 to be notarized and apostilled.  On our first adoption it took us 2-3 months to pull everything together.  We can't figure out why it took us so long!  This time we set a goal of 2 weeks and almost made it.  We have all the docs in hand and by tomorrow evening everything with be notarized.  Hopefully by Tuesday or Wednesday we'll have everything apostilled.  It feels really good to have this part of the process almost done!

I'm closing with a picture of Nick from Christmas as he anxiously awaited Santa's arrival at brunch.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Here We Go!

I am so excited to begin our second adoption.  If you had asked me 2 years ago whether I could do it again I'm pretty sure I would have said no way.  The emotional toll of our first adoption was pretty hard for me but the good news is that I have forgotten.  And, I'm not going to reread the blog.  At least not now.

We have made several decisions and are pretty deep into the process.  We are going back to Moscow, we have a new Agency (Woo Hoo) and we are done with our Home Study.  The paper chase begins now with Notaries and Apostilles and many trips to the Secretary of States office.  I wonder if they will remember me?

I will write more soon but decided this morning at 5am, when I woke up and couldn't sleep, that today was the day to start the blog up again.  It should be a fun ride!