Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Multicultural Days....

First off, this photo doesn't exactly fit my story but I wanted to share. Madeline and I took advantage of an award coupon for a free Jr. Frosty for a reward from the library's summer reading program. Geez, she has a lot of attitude for that little body :-)

Next, today Madeline commented for the first time on ethnic differences and I just about died. Luckily it was in the privacy of our own home. Our next door neighbor adopted a girl from Korea, and she would therefore, obviously, have Asian features. Madeline and the neighbor girl play together somewhat regularly. This afternoon, Mama-Dirtyfoot wanted to get some packing for the move done so I plugged in the movie, Mulan. Yep.....you know where this is going, don't you?

As I am packing up china (how ironic) Madeline is commenting on what she is watching. All of a sudden Madeline says, "Mama, like Hannah!" I didn't want to assume I knew what she was talking about so I asked, "What's like Hannah?" Madeline replied, "Mulan like Hannah." Mama responded, "Yes, that's right. They do look alike." My only hope is that she doesn't start calling Hannah, "Mulan" next time they are out playing together!

Rainy Days

For the most part, you have been "forced" to follow our adoption story. I haven't posted much these days other than the recap of our journey two years ago. So what is going on here??? Not much. I should be busy packing for our move. I try, but it can be difficult to do with Miss Madeline running around. I've been trying to collect boxes from the local liquor store but certainly I won't be able to pack the entire house with tiny liquor boxes. We did get a batch of boxes from friends of ours that moved last weekend. (A co-worker of David's moved in to a house around the corner from our new house. They are a fun couple and have a daughter a little younger than Madeline. the girls had a hoot playing together on Saturday's moving day. I am happy we'll be neighbors!) And yesterday, I finally broke down and bought a bunch of larger boxes from a U-Haul store.

The weather here has been pretty crappy. It has been fairly cool and rainy. So now how do you fill the day?? First thing in the morning yesterday, Madeline wanted to go in the pool (she has an inflatable pool from Grandma and Grandpa) I told her it was too cold outside. Madeline's argument was that she could put on a long-sleeved bathing suit. I give her credit for trying. Instead we spent some time running errands and while at home, Madeline made some artwork for Grandma and Grandpa (it's in the mail!). Of course, Madeline decided to get creative with her stampers..... No, that is not lipstick on her face. It's her stampers!!!!

Monday, June 29, 2009

This Date In History 6/30/07 - Our Adoption Story

Still, no one heard a peep from us from Russia. Luckily, my friend Kelly was able to fill everyone in. Below is an email that Kelly sent to our friends and family...

June 30, 2007

I called Amy and David this morning - it was nap time for Madeline at the time. Amy and David are doing well. Extremely homesick to say the least. The Internet provider for the hotel is down, they have no idea when it will be back up. They might take a walk to an Internet cafe but if they do the emails will be quick and infrequent.

They are having a few issues with Madeline. David said "no" to her the other day and apparently she did not like that. Amy mentioned that in the infants home there was not any male influence. David's voice and sternness scared her a little bit. 2 days ago she cried from lunch time until bedtime. If David looked at her or tried to play with her there were tears. They are trying to work through this the best they can. Yesterday she was fine but today Amy says "She woke up on the wrong side of the crib!" Amy is trying to show her that Poppa is nice and that it is ok but doesn't want to create a monster either. I really didn't have any suggestions for her. I thought talking to her, but the language barrier doesn't make that easy.

I just wanted to let everyone know they are ok and that they miss everyone.

This Date in History 6/29/07 - Our Adoption Story

Again....no email update was sent home today!!! However, we knew that we were leaving our friends and family hanging. We had a phone conversation with David's mom. In turn, she emailed my brother, Marty, who then sent out an email to our distribution list. Marty's email let everyone know why we didn't send our our updates. Below is Marty's email to our friends to update for us...

Monday, June 29, 2007

Amy, David, and Madeline have been without Internet access for a
couple of days, which explains the lack of updates directly from
them. David's mom called them and assures us that all is well. Here's
a mini-update quoted from Mary's email:

Here goes..
They have not had Internet access for a few days now and don't know
when they will get it back. Everything is fine and they are dying to
get home. They asked me to give the phone number to their

It's about 9:15pm there and they were going to be getting Madeline
ready for bed. It's 12:15pm here. I did get to hear Madeline
although she wasn't quite sure about this telephone thing. Amy put
the phone by her ear and when I said "Hi Madeline" she sort of pushed
it away, looking at it strangely.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

This Date in History 6/28/07 - Our Adoption Story

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Hmmmmm........no email update was sent home today. What happened? Are we surviving our new parenthood status? Why no email??? What's going on??? Two years ago, we left our family and friends hanging. Stay tuned to find out why.......

Saturday, June 27, 2009

This Date in History 6/27/07 - Our Adoption Story

Wednesday June 27, 2007

Today was a busy day for both Madeline and us. We had our driver take us to the toy store so that we could buy a toddler plate/bowl (We didn’t pack any). While there we browsed the toy section. Madeline seemed very interested in a knight in shining armor that rode upon a horse. In fact, she was intrigued by it. We bought it for her as we needed a few more things to keep her occupied. Wouldn’t you know that when we got it out of the packaging, she was SCARED of it!

We also got the driver to take us to the area’s larger grocery store. Much nicer than what we’ve been surviving on. We stocked up on some items and I was a happy camper when I found a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. (Russian Wine tastes more like Sherry – By the way, they sell Russian beer in 2 liter bottles!!!!!!) The prepared section was nice (although the concept of lines hasn’t quite reached Russia yet). We had the closest thing to a home cooked meal today (breaded pork chops, rice and broccoli) I wish this store was in walking distance! Madeline thought the ride in the shopping cart was hysterical. Later in the afternoon, we went for a walk and discovered the joy of fountains. She thought it was a riot to stick her hand in the water.

Poopie report….today I gagged for the first time as a mom! We actually had to stick her in the tub and hose her down! Of course she first fell on her bottom with a full diaper as we were getting ready to change her. Luckily we had taken off her pants but the force of her fall squeezed out the contents onto the rug……ugh!!!!! At dinner tonight I tried to plug her up with extra banana. (Oh, the fun of dietary changes!) This is more than we signed up for. Also, as a “subscriber” to our email updates, you got more than you bargained for with our graphic descriptions!

Our coordinator came to our room after dinner to help us with the paperwork for the Embassy. Now, it seems as though Madeline’s birthday *is* the same as my Mom’s (November 4th) I won’t know for certain what day to celebrate until I get all the final documents. I really do hope it is the 4th .

Bedtime today was terrible! We are lost somewhere on the fine line between comforting her in her adjustment and creating a monster at bedtime. Madeline pulled out every stop to convince us that we were terrible parents but in the end we realized that *she* has us trained. With that said, it broke our hearts to have her cry herself to sleep. I guess she “let on” to us too much that she thought she was boss and she knows *exactly* what she is doing. Because we are living out of a hotel room, it is next to impossible to eat dinner at the same time – we wait until Maddie is asleep. I believe it was 9:40pm when we got to eat. (We tried to put her down at 8:30)

Oh yeah, to top things off, our window air conditioner died today and it will be 95 tomorrow and 97 the next day!

Sigh……..With all that said, I need to go to sleep.

Again, I am sorry if I don’t get to return all of your emails (although we are reading them), as time is very short these days!

Can hardly wait another second until we get home!

David and Amy

Friday, June 26, 2009

This Date In History 6/26/07 - Our Adoption Story

This photo is of Madeline and Mama. We stopped in for a break (and snack) in the shade. It was in the high 90's while we were there.

Tuesday June 26, 2007

We survived our first day of parenthood. Madeline really enjoyed the walk in her stroller and tubby time was a blast. It was a little more difficult putting Madeline down for bed. We put her down last night at 8:30 but she didn’t fall asleep until about 9:00 (still not bad) she did sleep through the first night although we did not. Both David and I slept horrible. We were afraid that we wouldn’t hear Madeline in the night because our window air conditioner is in the bedroom. It kind of drowns out the sound. We actually awoke Madeline at 7:30am because we are trying to keep her on the infants’ home schedule for a while. Our coordinator keeps checking in on us, which is nice but it is kind of like having a stereo-typical mother-in-law after your every move. We figured it would just be easier to go along with everything until we got home. Good thing we woke Madeline because our coordinator checked in on us in the a.m. and also wanted to know if Madeline ate breakfast yet. (Like we would’ve forgotten if she didn’t call).

This morning, David and I took Maddie for a walk. We saw doggies, chased pigeons and smelled roses. We got back and I started feeding Madeline lunch but had to hurry up and finish because our coordinator wanted to get us to the passport office. She was in such a hurry so we quickly got washed up from lunch and left. This afternoon we found out that diaper bags are portable for a reason! I didn’t think to take the diaper bag because our coordinator said our trip would only take 10 minutes. But of course Madeline waited until we entered the passport office to relieve herself from lunch. Although everyone spoke Russian, the P.U. face is international! Luckily the visit at the passport office was quick (or maybe it was quicker because of the full diaper) but Madeline sat on my lap (remember, no car seats) on the way back. Well, Madeline wasn’t the only one who had to get changed when we returned to the hotel. Welcome to parenting.

For Madeline’s afternoon nap, she *really* didn’t go down very easily. It took quite a long time. She kept wanting to stand up in the crib. This wouldn’t normally be an issue with me but the crib that the hotel gave us has very low sides and she could easily fall out. Of course Madeline thought this was hysterical that I would make her lay down. Not wanting to make a game out of this and not wanting to have our daughter break a bone before we even leave the country, we moved the crib right up against the wall and barricaded the other side with the high back dining chairs in our room. She proceeded to entertain herself for quite a while in the mirrored doors to our closet. Bedtime went a bit easier. It’ll be much easier when we can simply leave the room after putting her to bed but under the circumstances we can’t

This afternoon we took another stroll with Madeline. Another mushy diaper for *me* to change. David still insists her needs more practice watching before her can handle diaper duty.

Thank you for all the supportive emails. I want to return each of them but it is very difficult for me to do now. It would be so much easier if we had internet access in our room but we have to go to the lobby to access our emails.

P.S. – Thanks for all your prayers. Greg and Rebekah, from Lancaster PA won their court case today. They are leaving tomorrow because their Visas are about to expire but will return to pick up the boys on 7/9.

Amy and David

Photos of how we "roughed it" in Russia...
Our washing machine

Our dryer

Our luxury kitchen

Our dishwasher

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Gotcha Day Celebration

We certainly couldn't pass by Madeline's Gotcha Day with out celebrating it! Yes, it is a very special day but we are hoping keep this celebration simple as we, of course, prefer to put the emphasis on her birthday. This afternoon, Mama-Dirtyfoot had some errands to run so we had McDonald's for lunch.

While we were out and about, we headed to the library. It has been a while since we've been there but I wanted to find a book with a theme related to moving that I could read to Madeline. My timing to hit the library was perfect as they were kicking off their summer reading program. Not only did I get the schedule of events for the summer but they have incentive programs for reading (or in Madeline's case, having books read to her) as well as incentives to visit the library each week. Today, Madeline got to spin a points wheel to earn points for a prize at the end of the summer (one spin per week) and Madeline got the most number of points available. Also, Mama and Maddie had to hunt for a hidden Harold from Harold and the Purple Crayon. Once we found Harold we had to write down the name of the artist's tool in his hand. This is to complete a puzzle....also for a prize at the end of the summer. Best of all, for signing up Madeline got a ticket to get a free (brand new) book. In the library's meeting room there were tables of books in various reading levels. Madeline and I picked out Llama Llama Mad at Mama. With that she was also able to pick out a bookmark. All this was just dumb luck on my part.

After the library, we headed to a party supply store and, as I promised her before we left the house, she could pick out a balloon. Of course, I think Madeline picked out the largest one in the store - Cinderella in her carriage. Then after a quick change into her bathing suit, we headed to Madeline's swim class (we started her back up in the summer classes). She did a GREAT job today!

This evening, David, Madeline and I went to Friendly's for dinner and Madeline indulged in ice cream for dessert. Also, Madeline was given a Gotcha Day gift - the DVD of Disney's Mulan movie.

Other than Mama dressing up one of our cats (Elston) in one of Madeline's tank tops (you can see he was "thrilled" in this photo) the next funniest thing that happened today was Madeline got a UPS package from my brother, Paul. As kids we used to call Paul, "Paul E. Poo-Poo". Naturally, when the siblings started having kids, Paul became "Uncle Poo". So, Uncle Poo (a king of puns) sent Madeline some gac' . What is that?? Well, I believe it is a Polish word (pronounced like "gotcha") that my mom called underwear (I believe a derivative of gacki). Anyway, the package for Madeline that came from Uncle Poo was a package of brand new Ariel (Little Mermaid) "gotcha" to wish her a Happy Gotcha Day. Thanks Poo!!

Birthday Celebration

Been a bit busy here so it has been difficult to blog more than my "This Date in History" posts. However, I thought I would share a few photos from my birthday. I had a great day on Tuesday! My day started out with a Tim Hortons coffee and donut!! A few minutes after David left for work her returned to deliver me Tim Hortons. How did he know I was craving that?

Obviously, David was prepping Madeline for the fact that it was my birthday. When Madeline woke up, the first words out of her mouth were, "I want cake!" Later in the day, Madeline and I shared a sandwich at a local sandwich shop and then spent the rest of the afternoon shopping. I thought it would be fun to have a daughter to shop with but now that she likes shopping I hear, "Buy this! Buy this!" Oh well, we still had fun! It was pretty darn cute when Madeline was singing "Happy Birthday, Mama" at the top of her lungs while we were in the dressing room.

When David came home from work, the three of us headed to Canada for dinner. We just went to a pizzeria there, so why Canada? For some reason, we found that the Canadians tend to enjoy the outdoors more when dining. It is difficult to find outdoor dining near us but when you cross the border, practically every restaurant has an outdoor patio. So, since it was a beautiful day we wanted to eat outside. After dinner we took a ride to "our island", a place that we used to picnic a lot pre-Madeline (now we head to the best playground spots). There we had a yummy cake that David packed along and I opened my birthday gifts. Madeline and David were just too cute singing Happy Birthday to me. When we got home, we got Madeline ready for bed and David set up for our babysitter to come over. David and I headed back out to see a movie. I can't remember the last time we did that! We went to see Hangover. It was pretty funny.

I can definitely say that my 39th birthday was perfect! Thanks David and Madeline!

This Date In History 6/25/07 - Our Adoption Story

Monday, June 25, 2007
Today is our Gotcha Day. We picked up Madeline. I was fine picking her up but got a bit teary-eyed when saying good-bye to her care givers. Their genuine care and love for the children are so obvious.

Madeline had no problems with leaving or the car ride. It didn’t seem to phase her at all. This 10 day wait has really been a blessing in disguise. Madeline has been able to bond with us and feel comfortable and safe with us and therefore the transition is easier than I believe it would’ve been without the 10-day wait.

We came back to the hotel and were greeted by some of the other couples. We let Madeline wander around our hallway in the hotel a little bit to explore but then it was time for lunch. I created a make-shift high chair by staking some books for her to sit on and belting her to the chair. The infant’s home gave us a schedule for Madeline and an idea of what she eats. David and I had no idea *how much* to feed her. I guessed….and then gave her a small portion of seconds. I have no idea if I am going to bulk her up or put her on a diet. I figured she was done eating when she started playing with her food. I am sure she will let us know if she is hungry.

Madeline is down for her afternoon nap now. She cried when I put her down. I didn’t want to pick her up but under the circumstances, I didn’t want to let her cry herself to sleep either. I just rubbed her tummy to let her know we were there. We are totally figuring this out as we go along….but I guess every first time parent does too.

After nap, she gets a snack and then we will probably go for a short walk with her stroller before dinner. Madeline is adjusting nicely. She was running around the room with smiles. Now if only David and I can figure this whole thing out.
No car seats in Astrakhan. We left Baby Home #2 "Britney Spears Style". Madeline was checking everything out.

Madeline has always had a good appetite

We weren't sure how Madeline would react to tubbie-time

She LOVED it!

All ready for bed after our first day as a family

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

This Date In History 6/24/07 - Our Adoption Story

Sunday, June 24, 2007

After sending our update last night, David and I decided to go back to our room and pop open the bottle of champagne from the hotel. It was a very cool evening so we decided to get some fresh air into our room. We open up the windows. It felt very nice. However, two problems with that. (1) Open windows allow mosquitoes to come in!!! I always kick my feet out of the blankets so the mosquitoes had a field day on my ankles. (2) There was partying outside the hotel along the river literally ALL NIGHT!. It was 4:30 am and they were still partying away! At that time we ended up closing the windows and turning on the A/C to drown them out. I normally sleep through anything but they were LOUD! We found out this morning that the partying was high school graduation celebrations. I guess this will continue for the next few nights. It now explains why the Riverfront was so crowded last night. The outdoor bars were packed, the DJs were doing their thing and the dance floors were full. Although from our perspective, there is not much to do in Astrakhan but I guess it is actually considered a “resort” town here. Mini river cruise ships begin to dock on Fridays and you can definitely see an increase of activity over the weekends!

This morning we had a visit with Madeline. On the way to our visit, we stopped at a local baby/toy store as we had to buy a hat for Madeline. They will not let her go with us without a sun hat. In fact, it seems as though that is the protocol here. All young children are always seen with a hat on. We do have a very pretty hat with us but it does not match the outfit we plan to have the infants home put her in when we pick Madeline up. (She is not even able to keep the clothes on her back) So we got a cream-colored “all-purpose” hat to match any occasion. All I need is for Madeline to say to me when she sees pictures 10 yeas from now..”MMoooommm….couldn’t you even dress me in a *matching* outfit?!?!” New hat – problem solved!

Today’s visits were the most difficult to leave. Although we only have to wait until tomorrow, Madeline is beginning to show that she is torn as to who she should go with, the home care-giver or us. We very much can’t wait to pick her up tomorrow but at the same time we are apprehensive of the loss of freedom ability to be spontaneous. After 9 years of marriage, we’ve been able to go and do whenever we wanted to. It’ll be a big change. We’ll adjust just like every parent does and we know it’ll be worth it.

We ate a larger, later lunch today. Chinese food. We spent our last evening of “freedom” by going on a Volga River cruise with Karen and Hubert and then went out for cheese/fruit platter and beer. We came back to the lobby hotel and had more beers and awaited the arrival of another couple working through our agency

We requested the hotel to put a crib in our room…..We are now ready!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

This Date In History 6/23/07 - Our Adoption Story

MY RUSSIAN BIRTHDAY - Two years ago I spent my 37th birthday in Russia. Below are the details...

Saturday June 23, 2007
Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me!!!! This morning at 7:40 am, David’s parents called to wish me a Happy Birthday. It was odd to think that it was still the night of the 22nd for them. (They live in the central time zone – 9 hrs. difference for them)
While waiting in front of the hotel for our ride this morning, one of the hotel staff asked us to please return inside the hotel. There, 3 of the staff were greeting me with balloons and champagne. They read to me a fairly long birthday greeting *in English* wishing me a very happy birthday even though we were so far from home. What a wiener…..I cried.

We got to visit Madeline twice today. She is continuing to do well and it is getting more and more difficult in between visits as she is bonding nicely to us and vice versa. David and I shared a nice birthday dinner with Karen and Huibert. We went to the Kpem (pronounce Crème) Café. We ate there for our anniversary and one other time while here this trip. There are not many choices of restaurants that have recognizable food at a fair price. David and I also split a dessert and David decided to try something new and ordered us Eastern Coffee. I don’t know exactly what was put in front of us but you could practically stand your spoon up in the coffee, I couldn’t drink it but I think that David will be awake until next week Tuesday.

Sorry for the short update today but all is going well. Also, thank you for the many birthday emails. I probably won’t be able to respond to too many of them until tomorrow as we are going out for a cocktail to toast my old age.

Amy and David

Monday, June 22, 2009

This Date In History 6/22/07 - Our Adoption Story

Friday June 22, 2007

This morning we were off to the infants’ home with our coordinator and the other couple using our agency, Karen and Huibert. We went to the infants’ home to pick up our daughters and take them to get their passport photos. Keep in mind that both our daughter, Madeline, and their daughter, Milana, have spent their entire lives to date in the infant’s home. This was their first journey in a car (and maybe even outside of the infants’ home property). At Madeline’s 19 months and Milana’s 3 years, this was a fairly scary experience for them. Madeline was content to be snuggled by mom but she would cry when we hit a bumpy patch in the road (and in Russia there is no shortage of those). Like I mentioned it would be yesterday, this was a “Brittany Spears experience” for Madeline as they do not use car seats here so Madeline was simply held on my lap. When we returned from the photo place we had about a half hour to play and visit with her until it was time to leave. We only had one visit today.

We ate lunch in our room today. We made sandwiches from some chicken breast bought from the prepared meat section of our grocery store. I didn’t care for it because it tasted like smoked meat. I am not a fan of smoked meat but there is a lot of it around here. In fact, David and I decided that all of Astrakhan smells like a mixture of smoked meat and body odor……yum, appetizing! Today is actually very cool here. I actually pulled out my sweatshirt. The positive to that is the body odor smell has diminished. It has also been a good day for us to do more laundry. We washed another load in the bathtub and have our clothes hanging by clothes line from one side of our room to the other. We put the “dryer” on high by opening the window for today’s breeze.

Some of you asked for an update on the other couples here. Jonah and Andi from Illinois are leaving from their first visit today. They go home and await their court date. Karen and Huibert had a successful court date and are in their 10-day wait like we are, although they are a week behind us. Pat and Mary from Dublin, Ireland went home highly frustrated. They previously got a referral and were awaiting court when the grandmother of their referred child decided to take custody of her. They were here on a second “1st trip” to get another referral. They traveled “blind” each time and did not get their referral until arriving in Astrakhan. The child that was referred to them this time had fetal alcohol syndrome and a specialist from Moscow that visited the child was concerned with her development progress. Pat and Mary went back to Dublin to make a decision but were feeling very frustrated and were beginning to have doubts if they were meant to have children at all. Greg and Rebekah from PA are awaiting another court date on Tuesday. During their wait, they have had to visit more doctors and more and more it is appearing that they are fighting an uphill battle. For every question Greg and Rebekah answer, two more seem to come out. Please continue to offer your prayers for those couples struggling through a process that is stressful even when under the *best* of circumstances.

This evening we took another walk around Astrakhan….very exciting. We found a wine bar with what I call “bathtub vintage”. After coming back to the hotel we went to the shish kabob grill out in front of the hotel. The Russian phrase book is the only thing that helped us order our food. David and I decided that a lack of communication is like reverting back to ‘Pictionary” to communicate. However, after a couple Baltikas (Russian beers) we had fun with our Russian phrase book. We were trying to decide what completely out of context phrase we could point to for our waitress to read (who by the way looked like my niece, Julie). We were laughing so hard my stomach ached. Should we point to the phrase, “Where’s the dining car?” or “Call me at 7a.m.” We decided on…”I took the wrong train.” Luckily our waitress had a good sense of humor.

Well, it’s now 11pm and I am enjoying my last evening as a 36 year old. We are enjoying a Russian beer night cap in the hotel lobby while y’all are still at work! (Although our alarm will be waking us up as you are going to bed). I told David earlier today that typing these daily updates is like therapy for me as I am completely homesick. We hope all is well with you. Please keep us updated as your emails are our only contact with home.

Missing y’all
David and Amy
A view from our room - Sunset over the Volga River

A tradition in Astrakhan - Ribbons on tree are tired by groom - pink ribbons if they want girl & blue if they want boy. The higher the ribbon, the greater their love for their bride.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

In my opinion, today was a perfect Father's Day. Granted, I am not a Father but I think it is safe to say that it was an enjoyable day for David.

The day actually got off to a rough start - but that is only because we were up so late last night playing Trivial Pursuit with my brother, Paul, my niece, Becky and Becky's boyfriend, Zac. Yes, we were up late trying to defend our championship title that we earned two nights prior. We were defeated and thus had to play a second game last night to determine the ultimate championship (We were going for the best of three). Sigh....Kentucky walked away champs after a tight game. Despite our late night, Paul wanted to hit the road back to Kentucky early so that he and Becky could celebrate Father's Day at home with the rest of his family and also, so Zac could be home to celebrate Father's Day with his Dad. But, luckily I thought ahead and planned a breakfast strata that I was able to prepare the night before. Yep, I set the alarm, put breakfast in the oven and caught another 40 minutes sleep. But my plan was to make a nice breakfast for both David and my brother before he headed out of town. We had the breakfast strata (bread, egg, cheese, ham), warm cinnamon rolls, fresh fruit, coffee & juice.

Paul was on the road by 9:30. David, Madeline and I vegged out the rest of the morning but got our butts in gear in time to make it to noon Mass. Later in the afternoon, we finally had the opportunity to inflate the new pool that Grandma & Grandpa gave Madeline. Madeline was thrilled and could hardly contain her excitement. Papa was also excited to receive a hammock as his Father's Day gift.

For dinner, we had a simple all-American cookout and enjoyed dinner out on our back deck. Afterwards, Madeline's neighbor friends came over to play on our swing set and David had an opportunity to sit back and read. Later, the three of us took a ride for ice cream cones. Yes, the day is really about celebrating Father's - especially ones as amazing as David, but I must admit, I believe the entire family was very happy with the events of the entire day.

This Date In History 6/21/07 - Our Adoption Story

Below is June 21st's email update. But, also I am not sure if you are aware that to the right side of my blog there is a link to a satellite view map of Astrakhan Russia that has many of the areas of interest that I have written about pinpointed on the map. I am not sure where exactly I got this link from but I know that I came across it from reading blogs of other Astrakhan adoptive parents. FYI in viewing the map, we stayed at the Azimut Hotel and Madeline was adopted from Baby Home #2.

Thursday June 21, 2007

David and I were actually able to sleep in a little bit today. We weren’t able to visit Madeline until the afternoon because the other couple with our agency (Karen and Huibert) had their court hearing this morning. It was a success! There have been no glitches from our agency (continue to cross your fingers) while other agencies working here have had problem after problem. Choosing a good agency really makes a huge difference! We would recommend ours to anyone!

Today has actually been a very uneventful day. No drunk Russians, no liver patties…..nothing too extraordinary but I will share what we’ve done anyway. After sleeping in a bit, David and I went down to the daily breakfast in the hotel. Let me stress the word *daily* as the buffet is ALWAYS the same!! I am not exactly sure what I am eating but nonetheless, I eat it *every* morning. We found out from Karen and Hubert that there is a mall in walking distance (20-25 minute walk). We went to check that out. It was small and expensive…..not worth the exercise. Although in between the hotel and the mall we stumbled across a small market place. Now THIS is what most of you probably pictured Russia to be like. Many outdoor stands…..the only thing missing was creates of chickens. I so wanted to take a picture but I thought it would be of poor taste of me to do that. This market also had an indoor (not air conditioned) section with meats and produce. The meats scared me because like I said, the indoor section was not air conditioned and the meats were NOT in refrigerated cases. They were simply laid about the counters with the vendors calling to you in Russian to check out their meat. (If you chuckled at that last sentence you have a dirty mind!) But in all seriousness, all I thought of was food sickness as I looked at the chicken lying about. Come to think of it, a few of the outdoor vendors also had some meat lying about too! And we knew when we got to the pork section as one of the counters had a full pig head on display……UGH! I miss Wegman’s!

Our visit with Madeline went well again today. However, she is beginning to test us. Madeline really knows how to give a look to kill and I am sure that she will perfect it by the time she is a teenager (although it’s pretty close to perfect now!) We are now going to the infant’s home and sharing the visiting room with Karen and Huibert because they adopted from the same infants’ home as us. (There are 3 infants’ homes in Astrakhan) Karen and Huibert are very nice. However, their daughter, Milana, is 3 years old with a VERY strong, high energy, personality. Madeline is quickly picking things up and she tried out some of Milana’s tricks today. (Sigh….already with the “peer pressure”.) But even though we are still in “bonding mode” with Madeline we had to make it clear that her new tricks were unacceptable…..our first official parental duty!

Tomorrow we get to visit again. David & I along with Karen & Hubert and our daughters are going for a car ride tomorrow as the girls need to get their photos taken for their passports. I believe this will be their first car ride! And for those of you who I’m sure are wondering…..there are no car seats. (They don’t even use seat belts) so we will certainly hang on to Madeline with dear life. Especially since they drive like MANIACS here!

Nothing else exciting happened. We chose to eat at the hotel restaurant for dinner today. We weren’t feeling so adventurous this evening. The remainder of our time was spent by David doing work stuff on the computer, me reading and doing laundry in the bathtub. Jamie E. (our house sitter)….can you hug and kiss our washer and dryer for us and tell them that we MISS them terribly and can’t wait to see them??

We’ll send another update tomorrow.

David and Amy

Swan Lake

Iranian Consulate (around the corner from our hotel)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

This Date In History 6/20/07 - Our Adoption Story

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

After sending last night’s update, the plan was that David and I would go out for a walk. As I was finishing my evening’s correspondence and waiting for David to come downstairs for our walk, I got bombarded by two large, drunk, Russian men. They began speaking to me in Russian. I could only respond, “English, English”. They offered me a beer and I politely declined. These men thought that if they continued talking to me in Russian, I would magically understand what they were saying to me. Finally, David came down from the room. I thought these men would disappear, but they did not. They continued to try to communicate with us. With our lack of Russian and their lack of English it was hysterical trying to communicate with each other. But they were drunk enough to be persistent in their attempts and some how we understood each other. They were from St. Petersburg and were general contractors that were ship building in Astrakhan. We showed them satellite images of where we live on “Google maps” and they did the same for us. We finally took up their offer for a beer and shared a drink together. They even offered us a “snack” which was some type of dead fish. This is a “normal” snack in Russia as we’ve seen it sold in many places. We kindly accepted the snack and told them we would take it to our room. (Where we discretely disposed of it.) It was fun trying to communicate with these people but it did get old after awhile. These guys were drunk enough that they didn’t get the hint that we were trying to leave. It took another adoptive family to “rescue” us after about 2 hours. We did still end up going for a walk but it was not as far as we would’ve liked to explore because it was already dark by the time we escaped.

Today, June 20th, is mine and David’s 9th wedding anniversary. Because our coordinator is back in town and able to accompany us on visits, we were able to visit Madeline twice today. Both visits today went very well. David and I realized that Madeline is just like her Mama….a busybody! Our coordinator flew into Astrakhan with another adoptive couple from our agency last night. They (Karen and Huibert) are adopting a 3 year old girl from the same infant’s home as we are. We traveled with the other couple to the infant’s home and shared visiting time together with them and their daughter in the same room. Their daughter (Milana) has a very strong personality and Madeline watched every second of what was going on……just Like her Mama would’ve. During today’s visit, David also was lucky enough to receive the first “kiss” from Madeleine. Keep in mind, it was a toddler’s version of a kiss but nonetheless, it was a “first kiss”……which David reminded me of several times today. We will try to send the video of this “first kiss” as an attachment as we were lucky enough to capture it but we are not sure if it’ll go through.

Tonight is a beautiful night here in Astrakhan. A cool front rolled in and it’s actually pleasant out. A nice breeze is also helping to keep the mosquitoes away. This evening we went to dinner at the Krem Cafe for our anniversary with the couple from Lancaster, PA (Greg and Rebekah). They share not only the same anniversary date but also the same wedding year. We both got married on 6/20/98. We also went to dinner with Jonah and Andi from Illinois who are on their first trip and just got their referral and Karen and Huibert, who are working with our agency and are adopting from the same infant’s home. Karen and Huibert’s court date is tomorrow.

Nothing else new tonight…..we’ll try to send out more pictures too.

Until tomorrow….

David and Amy