Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Family...

Our adjustment and transition has really gone very smoothly. Believe me, I didn't expect it to go so easy, I would tell you! The first couple of weeks I was just kind of holding my breath waiting for it to get bad, luckily it hasn't. The hardest part of the adjustment has been Vera being wary of everyone but the 3 of us. Which, is really a good thing. That means she knows who her mommy, daddy and sister are and that she is attaching to us. But, at times it can be waring. There are days that she can't be farther than an inch from me and I have just recently been able to leave her alone in her excersaucer and leave the room to get something. We are slowly making progress. It just takes time for our little girl to warm up to those around us. After spending some time with us and Vera together, my parents are now able to hold and play with her without her looking over her shoulder for us. And, as I learned earlier this week, there is only so much she can take. I think that was part of our problem on Monday. We had had a busy Sunday with church and a birthday party. So, going to the chiropractor and the gym nursery was just overload for her. It is so easy to forget that we still need to take things slow with her because she feels like she has always been here! Here are some pictures of Vera meeting some family. Unfortunately, I didn't get pictures of everyone I would have liked, I will blame it on the jet lag!
My dad with Vera.
The secret to any girls heart is chocolate, right? My mom.
My grandparents, dad's parents, with me and the girls.
My grandma, mom's mom, with me and the girls.
I am very excited that my sister and her new husband will be coming this weekend to meet Vera and spend time with all of us. I know it has been really hard for Dani to not be able to meet Vera yet, so I am so excited for them to meet. And, Dani is staying for a week! Can't wait!

Sick...

Well, it seems at least one of us has been sick since we got home. I think Kiara got what Vera brought out of the orphanage, then gave it to Ryan. Then, Kiara got another bug, Ryan is kind of feeling it and now Vera has it full force. Luckily, I have yet to get anyone else's sickness. But, I am sure it is just a matter of time...I have kissed many tear and snot covered cheeks! (Sorry, that was kind of gross!)

Vera woke up this morning at 5 AM with a fever. So, after giving her some medicine, I was rocking her in her room. As I sat there and looked at her precious face, I couldn't help thinking about what it was like for her when she was sick in the orphanage. Was there someone there to hold and rock her? Or, did she just have to lay there alone? Thankfully, now she will always have someone to hold her and take care of her. It makes me sad for all the orphans that are still out there...

Thankfully, she wasn't a crab the whole day. She still was cute!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Hard day...

Today has probably been the hardest day for me since we have returned. Nothing seemed to go right and everyone seemed to be in a bad mood. It is also probably because we are getting out more and Vera isn't use to that. I had a chiropractor appointment this morning and had both girls with me. I thought Vera would be fine in the same room as me with Kiara by her side, but I was wrong. She screamed the whole time I was getting adjusted! Not sure that adjustment really too, it was a little hard to relax. Then, we were off to the gym. Last Friday I left both girls in the nursery and Vera did great! I was shocked. This time, not so much. We weren't even done with the third song in my class and they came to get me because Vera wouldn't stop crying.

Since we learned that Vera isn't allergic to milk, I was hoping she would drink that now. But, no, for some reason she loves the soy formula we give her! I have tried everything, warming it up, whole milk, 1% milk, adding chocolate milk and adding a scoop of formula. I guess we will wait a bit longer and try again.

Vera has always had to have someone in the room with her at all times, but today she had to be attached to my body at all times. Luckily, I got a shower in during her nap, or that wouldn't have gotten done.

I think Kiara is testing us lately, too. Everything seems to be a struggle and she never seems to remember things we have told her before. ;)

Oh, well, if this is the worst day we have in adjusting, I will take it! I just hope tomorrow goes a bit smoother. Thanks for letting me vent!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Funny thing Kiara said...

I was watching an episode of Oprah from the day before the presidental inauguration. Kiara was in the room with me. She saw Obama and said "that is Nobama", that comes from a political sign that Ryan had in our yard. I asked her if she knew that he was now our president. She proceeded to tell me that a boy in her class voted for McCain and that Obama's real name is Barack Obama. I was impressed that she knew Obama's first name. A picture came up of George & Laura Bush and Barrack & Michele Obama. Kiara asked, "Is that Obama's grandma, grandpa, and mom?" Oh, it was soooo hard not to laugh!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Medical update...

Vera went to the peditrician for the first time a week ago. He thought she looked really healthy. Her weight is only at the 6% mark on the growth charts and her height is at the 37% mark. But, he thought she was petite, but proportionally petite.

She was fine with the whole process until the doctor had to examine her. It was just like when the embassy doctor came to our apartment in Russia. She screamed and cried through the whole thing and didn't stop until he left the room. Let me tell you, that made it a little hard to ask questions and hear what the answers were! Her lungs are definitely in good shape!

After the exam was over, we had to go to the lab to get a bunch of blood taken. I knew this wouldn't be any fun. They actually put her in a straight jacket type of contraption with only one arm hanging out for them to take blood from. They said that I could just hold her, but she is so strong and I didn't want the needle going everywhere in her arm! It took longer than I would have liked, but they got all the blood taken and said they thought they had gotten enough. We also brought back in a stool sample.

Well, everything is back except for the parasite tests and everything is coming back great. They had told us in Russia that she was allergic to milk, so they tested her here and she isn't! Yea! Plus, they tested her for a few other things for allergies and she isn't allergic to anything. Her lead and iron levels are good. Her Vitamin D level is good, too. I was expecting that to be low since we had been told she had rickets, but I guess not!

The doctor wrote the order wrong to test her for TB. Ideally, they would have just drawn blood to test for it. But, we went back to do the skin test and returned today to have it read. It was negative! They scared me, though, because the first nurse had another nurse come in to feel it and then they had the doctor come in. Everytime working Vera up even though they were just touching her arm. Poor thing. We still need to get her 3 shots and then she will be up to date. I can't wait until that is over!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I am still here...

We are still here, we have just been busy, busy, busy. When you are gone for 3 weeks it takes awhile to catch up with everyone. I thought I would give you a video and a few pictures to tide you over until I am able to do a proper update. Enjoy!

Here are my 2 girls playing together...
video

Here are a couple pics from our "Christmas morning". Isn't the hair do great?!


Just a sweet picture...

Vera in a cute outfit from my sister...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The trip home...

Well, the day started out way too early. M showed up at 6:15 AM and we weren't quite ready. Thankfully, he was patient with us and we finally got the car loaded and the girls in their coats in their PJs. It was really surreal that we were actually leaving Moscow and really didn't know if we would ever be back. Hopefully, one day in the future we will be able to take Vera back to see where she was born and spent the first 14 months of her life. There was more traffic at that time of day than I thought there would be, especially the closer we got to the airport.

Once we got to the airport, we found where we needed to check in. I stood with the girls and all our luggage while Ryan dealt with checking us in. Vera's ticket was a paper ticket, so they had problems knowing how to link it to our e-tickets. But, finally they figured it out and they figured out how to check our baggage all the way through to Chicago! Yes, that is an answer to prayer. I had no idea how we were going to navigate a stroller, 2 children and rechecking all our luggage in London. So, next we went up the escaltors and got ready to go through security. I was dreading this because we have so many electronics we have to get out and the line looked horrendous. It was hard enough when it was just Ryan and I. You show your ticket to a lady before you get in line and she told us that we should go to the business class line! At first I thought, oh my, we get to sit in business class! But, since we had children we got to go through the lines for business class passengers for immigration and security. That was just about as good as sitting in business class. There was little to no line and made it so much easier navigating security with 2 kids.

We made it to our gate and I needed to feed Vera her breakfast, Kiara had eaten something while we waited for Ryan to check us in. She obviously wanted more when it was all gone, so I fed her the rest of the formula from the bottle. I had tried a bottle once before and she acted like she didn't know what to do with it, but this time she sucked it right down! I thought it would be good to have a bottle of water with us so that if I needed to make another bottle I would have it. I went to the vending machine and put in a bill, pushed E3 for the bottle of water I wanted, but nothing happened. I tried it a couple more times, nothing. I look over my shoulder to the person behind them and try to ask them what I needed to do. Well, somehow I understood that I needed to put more bills in! Duh! I am so used to just putting in one bill to a vending machine, but I had just put in a 10 Ruble bill and the water was 40 Rubles! I get back to our gate, open it to take a drink and it sprays, not all over, but obviously I got carbonated water instead of still water! So, then I send Ryan to get still water. While he is gone they start boarding, I feel like I wait there for him forever and he finally comes and his is carbonated water, too! Oh, well.

The lady that looks at our tickets as we board says something to me in Russian. Another man there tells me that she said it is cold on the jetway. Basically, I didn't have Vera in her snowsuit, so I guess she thought she might get sick from walking for 20 seconds on the cold jetway! We get to our seats and Ryan and Kiara are on on side of the aisle and me and Vera are in one seat on the other side of the aisle. I sat next to a very nice lady and her 4 year old son. She works for the US Embassy and is fluent in Russian, a great person to sit next to when you are using a Russian airline.

Of course, Vera waited to poop for the second time ever for us until after we took off. So, finally I think it has to be okay to get up and change her. I get to the bathroom door and the flight attendant says something not too nicely to me in Russian, so I return to my seat. No joke, as soon as I sit in my seat, the dinging noise sounds to let you know you can now unfasten your seat belt and move around the cabin! The nice flight attendant then comes up to me to let me know I can now use the bathroom, how nice of her. It is probably one of the hardest diapers I have ever changed since it is in a airplane bathroom and there is no changing table or counter to change her on, but we got it done and returned to our seat. Kiara ended up sitting over next to Max, the 4 year old boy, and his mom. They had a good time together. Ryan and I were busy trying to take care of Vera. By this time it is time for her nap and she had gotten up 2 hours early. There was too much going on and it was too bright for her to sleep. So, I feel very bad for the people around us because Vera was not very happy. Towards the end of the flight, Vera pooped again! The line to the bathroom was extremely long, so we decided to wait until we got off the plane to change her. Again, I felt so bad for the people around us because she wasn't sweet smelling! The flight was really hard, but I was so thankful for the woman and the son. She basically took care of Kiara while we dealt with Vera, I don't know how we would have made it without her.

Once we get off the plane, we stop at the bathroom to change Vera. Unfortunately, there was no changing table there either, so Vera had to be changed on the floor. So, after a diaper change and PJ change, we were in the bus that was taking us to the right terminal for our connecting flight. So, we have to go through security again. Ryan was the lucky one who got to open and try each jar of baby food we had with us, to insure that we weren't smuggling anything dangerous! Poor guy. While he was doing that, me and the girls were over to the side and the girls were playing together so nicely, I had to take a picture. Ooops, I guess you aren't suppose to take pictures in the security area!
Next, we walk into our terminal and it is nothing like in the US. It is more like a mall. There are a ton of stores, a lot of them are pretty pricey, too. At Heathrow, they don't tell you what gate you are leaving from until about 15 minutes before you are suppose to board, so everyone congregates in one area. We found an Irish Pub to eat at and thankfully Vera fell asleep for awhile. It was hard convincing Kiara that even though it said her meal came with chips, it really was french fries!

Finally, it is time for us to go to our gate and by the time we get there they are already boarding. Luckily, we had the bulkhead seats. So, we were right behind business class and had extra leg room. Once we are up in the air, Kiara gets comfy with the Disney channel shows on the personal TVs we have on the plane. Luckily, she watched this for nearly the whole flight, she had to be watching things over and over, but I wasn't going to question her. Vera had only taken a half an hour nap at the airport, so after feeding Vera my first priority was to get her to sleep. I had asked for a bassinet that attached to the wall in front of us. Unfortunately, I think Vera was longer than the bassinet! It did serve as a great place to store things during our flight, though.
So, I tried for awhile, then Ryan took over. During this time they started to serve dinner. The flight attendent was nice enough to let me eat later. Eventually, Ryan got her asleep on the floor in front of us! It was a miracle! So, I go back to ask the flight attendants for my meal and it turns out they had saved me a meal from first class, they were so sweet! I felt like Ryan should have gotten it since he got her to sleep.

By this time, Ryan was pretty much asleep, which was good because he had to drive us home when we got to Chicago. I had finished eating and was getting comfortable when the fasten your seatbelt sign came on. The flight attendent comes up to me and says "I hate to tell you this, but you will have to pick the baby up since the sign came on.". I was like, are you kidding me! Vera had only been sleeping an hour, so I knew if she woke up it wouldn't be a pretty sight. So, I picked her up and got her to go back to sleep pretty quickly on me. That is where she spent the next 3 1/2 hours. Kiara ended up falling asleep for the last hour of the flight.
It was pretty exciting when we touched down because we knew Vera was now a US citizen! See how excited she was.
So, both the girls were pretty much a mess when we got off the plane. Kiara didn't like being woken up and basically cried all the way from the plane through immigration! I am sure some people wondered what type of parents we were when Kiara is crying and crawling on the ground through the immigration line! The first immigration officer tells us to get our bags and then to go to a certain area. We do that and the officer tells us that it will be awhile because he has a lot of people in front of us. Thankfully, 15 minutes later, he comes up to us and says, since you only have the baby, you are set and can go! Yippee!! Luckily, we didn't have to wait long to catch the shuttle back to the Park & Fly hotel we had left our car at.

Here is a picture of Vera's feet hitting US soil for the first time.
Vera was not a big fan of being in a carseat, but she fell asleep pretty quickly. We popped in a movie for Kiara and she slept a lot of the way home, too. I was kind of in and out for a lot of the trip home. Thankfully, Ryan stayed awake for the entire trip home!
So, there is our trip home. Sorry the post is so long, but I wanted to document everything and if I didn't do it here, I know I wouldn't get it done. Thanks for bearing with me!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Trip to Red Square...


So, after our Embassy appointment and after Vera took a nap, we headed to Red Square. Luckily, the walk to Red Square from our apartment is pretty much a straight shot. Since we went at night there were a lot of lights to look at, which Kiara really enjoyed.
We walked around the Red Square area and enjoyed all the lights and fabulous buildings. There was an ice skating rink set up outside of the big shopping mall, GUM. We took some pictures outside of St. Basil's. By that time, both of our children were ready to be done, so we really didn't get a great picture. But, I was thankful that we made it there and were able to get the famous photo.
GUM shopping mall outside and inside.

Here are the photos outside Saint Basil's.
The plan was to stop at the McDonald's before we headed back to our apartment. But, when we looked inside, there were so many people! We would be there forever, if we tried to eat there. Plan B...the Sbarro's right next door, but they were closed and it looked like they were getting ready for a party. So, we started back towards the apartment. When we got to where Old Arbat meets New Arbat, Kiara and I started towards McDonald's and Ryan and Vera kept going towards our apartment. Ryan said Vera cried the whole way home, poor girl. McDonald's is on the opposite end of Old Arbat, let me tell you, that is one long street. Especially when you are walking it with a cold 5 year old. Kiara and I enjoyed our last McDonald's in Russia and then walked back to our apartment.
Vera was in bed when Kiara and I got back. We had to finish packing, which took us much longer than I hoped it would. Kiara got to bed around midnight and Ryan and I didn't get to bed until about 2 AM.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

US Embassy appointment...

Well, the trip home didn't go as smooth as I had hoped! But, we all 4 survived and are now at home as a family of 4. Vera is doing really well and seems like she has lived here her entire life. I thought it would be a lot harder for her.

Back to the day before we left to come home...So, after we were told that they would process us in one day, we walked back to our apartment. We were on cloud 9, but I was a little wary if it was really true since we didn't received anything official. Maybe Christopher thought we were a different family that he saw on the appointment list or something! But, we called M when we got back and she confirmed that yes indeed we did have an appointment today! It turns out that when Christopher went to check on us getting an Embassy appointment, M was in the process of submitting our paperwork. They asked her how much it would cost us and the other family to change our tickets. She told them $6,000 - $10,000. M was scheduled to leave the next day on vacation and was going to have to change her tickets, too! So, they called the person in charge on a cell phone, what a great idea, and got the approval that us and the other family could have our appointment today! So, once M confirmed that yes, we did have an appointment today, I was ecstatic!

We only had a couple of hours before we needed to leave for the Embassy again, so we put Vera down for a nap, got cleaned up and did a little packing. Then, we were off again for the Embassy. We met M and the other family outside of the Embassy. They went through our bags before we entered and then we had to leave any electronics, including our camera. Then, we went through security. We walked a ways and ended up in a room full of other adoptive parents and their children. There were probably about a dozen other children there and it seemed that Vera was the youngest. A lady came out and explained what would be happening. She was the only one processing adoptions today, so she needed us to be patient. As long as they got us done today, I would wait as long as they needed me to! The computers at the windows where they normally process adoptions were down, so they had to use the non immigration windows. We waited probably about an hour and then our name was called. All 4 of us went to the window. We raised our right hands and swore we were telling the truth and would do what we had agreed to do in the paperwork. I am not sure we even had to sign anything and then we had the golden envelope to give to US Customs once we entered the US. We still had to wait about 20 minutes to get the visa in Vera's passport.

While we were waiting, we met a few of the other families. Once was adopting 3 at one time and they didn't currently have any children. I can't imagine going from 0 to 3 children! The father also works for a grocery chain and has been to our town and the town I grew up in. What a small world!

Once we had Vera's passport, we were all done and we left with the other family. Once we were outside, I wanted to get a picture of the 4 of us outside of the Embassy. But, as soon as we were about to do that, we were told by one of the security guards that we can't take any pictures. So, I have no pictures of the day. We should have turned away from the Embassy and taken a picture, but I didn't think of that until later!

We walked back to the apartment and gave Vera a nap. Once she was up, we were headed to Red Square. That will be another post. I will try to get caught up soon, but it is taking me longer to get caught up, unpacked, and settled than I thought it would. It doesn't help that Kiara has been sick and we have also had to figure out what to do with all the Christmas presents.

Vera is adjusting very well, it seems like she has been here her entire life. She is extremely attached to Ryan and myself, no one else has yet been able to hold her. Which, is a good thing that she knows who her mommy and daddy are. Kiara and Vera have also bonded more as sisters. I can send Kiara into Vera's room when she wakes up from a nap and they play together for awhile. It is sweet to listen to. Vera loves to show everyone all her tricks and make faces at them. She is a joy!