Monday, November 14, 2011


So, I do not have here, in Minnesota, friends for me to enjoy a girls' night out.  No MOMS Club MNO (Moms Night Out), no book club, no ice cream dates with Tammy, no scrap booking crops with Kelly & Debbie, no dinners with grade school friends, no lunches/dinners with former accounting or teaching co-workers.

Also, I do not have a babysitter here yet.  Therefore, no kid-free nights on the town with David. No movie nights, no romantic dinners, no painting the town red.  This has now changed to restaurants with kids meals printed on paper activity placemats or lunch at a McDonalds that has a "Play Place".

It has been almost two months without a Mama's kid-free get-away (no counting a hair cut/color) and except for a couple hours in September to attend a work sponsored going away party for David, no alone time with David. Before the going away get together, David and I have not been kid free since the beginning of July.  Also, David and I used to retreat to the hot tub in our old house.  Fall is perfect hot tub weather but no hot tub here. It has been almost two months since the last time we enjoyed our hot tub in NY.  Throw in the stress of a new baby, a relocation half-way across the country, managing big-time transitions for Madeline (not to mention the rest of us), house hunting and living in much "closer quarters" with everyone while in this house rental and you have a recipe for the need to get away.

No friends? No babysitter?  That's okay.....Calgon take me away!  Hot bubble bath, cell phone to chit chat with friends, a Travel magazine to read while dreaming of travel to an exotic locale and (thanks, David, for bringing this upstairs) some "Mommy's Time Out" wine.

Ahhhhh.....MUCH better!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

And So We Wait....

David and I are desperately trying to get ourselves settled here in Minnesota.  Despite being in denial about living in Minnesota, I have begun to give in to the fact that I am here - if not for good, at least until David is ready to climb that next step on his career ladder.  It is time then, to try to dig our heels in and call this place "home".  Both David and I *hate* our house rental.....but what do you expect when we rent a house sight unseen over the internet (due to my pregnancy). David and I are craving a sense of stability so I can only imagine to what degree things are affecting Madeline.

Today, David and I put in an offer on a house.  I am sharing a picture of the house, knowing full well that I may be premature in doing so.  I also, however, know that I have many friends who are our cheerleaders back in Buffalo - not to mention the friends and family in other parts of the country.  Our "cheerleaders" have been very supportive and are very curious as to how we are doing in our new city.  Yes, this may very well be premature, but for my friends/family, who have ridden this wild ride with us thus far, I know that you would be disappointed if I *didn't* share.

So, above is a picture of the house we placed an offer on, however, we may not know if this offer will be accepted or not for several days.  Days?????  Yes, days because the house is a foreclosure house and we will be negotiating the deal with the bank that currently owns the house.  To make the deal trickier, we are aware that the house and some other items inside the house need to be repaired.  This too will effect the negotiations.  Certainly we are hoping that the final price will reflect the repairs that need to be made. 

Yes, work needs to be done inside however we love the house, the floor plan, the space it offers, as well as the back yard.  Yet, David and I cannot get sucked in.  We have to think with our heads/not hearts in the negotiation process.  Although I could easily get excited about the house, I am keeping my cool.  A lot still needs to be negotiated and I realize that this will all happen only if it is meant to be (and YES, I do believe in fate).

It is hard not to be excited.  If negotiations go the way I hope, our family will soon be on our way to stability.  And....if things do not go the way I hope, I will still have gained from the experience - the opening of my mind to make Minnesota my new home and a giant step in accepting my new life.  I do believe, "whatever will be will be".......but until I know what "will be", I dream.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Cousins Reunite

My cousin, Judy, looks great.
Me??....I look about 800 pounds in this picture - ugh!!
When David and I made the big decision to move to Minnesota, many people's first question was, "Do you have family there"?  My answer was a yes..... (notice the dot, dot, dot?? )  The " ........" always included an explanation.  By complete coincidence, my cousin Judy, lives a 40 minute drive away from where I currently live.  The glitch, however, is that it has been at least 30 years since we have seen each other!  How on earth does that happen???  Actually, quite easily.

My Aunt Maryann (my mom's sister) & Uncle Bob had relocated out of Buffalo when their kids were young.  Keep in mind that times were different then.  Families didn't simply just hop on a plane to visit each other on a regular basis.  My mom was raising a family of 6 and my Aunt Maryann was raising a family of 3 so they couldn't just hop in a car and drive 14 hours to visit on a regular basis.  Even phone calls were pricier then.....when was the last time anyone worried about long distance?  And email/Facebook was nonexistent.  We wrote letters!  Although we didn't see each other very much as kids I always LOVED the occasions that Aunt Maryann, Uncle Bob and cousins, Michael, Judy and Maryann came into town.  We always had a great time together.  However, once the cousins departed, the miles once again got in between us.

Life goes on, we each grow up, get married, have children, etc, etc.  Fast forward to present day and the existence of Facebook.  Long lost friends, former neighbors or co-workers, old classmates.....and in this situation, cousins, reconnect.  It has been nice to get to know my cousins again through status updates and friendly banter on Facebook.  It has been a blessing to come together again, albeit virtually, through Facebook.  When David and I made the decision to move to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, I reached out to Judy over a Facebook message with the, "Exactly *where* do you live??" question (her siblings have since relocated out of MN, to Colorado).  Prior to moving here, Judy had offered great guidance by answering numerous questions about the various areas that surround the Twin Cities (Keep in mind, I was super pregnant during much of the time David and I were planning our relocation and therefore was not able to travel here prior to our actual move) and we promised to get together once I arrived.

Finally things have settled down a tad since David and I stepped foot in Minnesota.  Today, Judy and I (& Jonathan - Madeline was at school) were able to get together for coffee.  A two hour chat *flew* by.  It was nice to catch up with each other - get to know each other as adults.  Heck, last time Judy saw me I was the bratty little kid that was the baby of my family.  (Ok, I *still* am....I guess things haven't changed that much.)  It was nice to catch up on each other's siblings. It was nice to talk about our moms and our grandparents.  It was nice to chat about our kids.  Most importantly, it was nice to lay down that foundation of friendship that, due to circumstances/distance, we missed in our youth.

Today, Judy and I grabbed a nice corner both at Starbucks.  Good thing - we needed that extra space because, without a doubt, our moms sat there with us this morning. This morning, cousins reunited.  This morning, our moms listened, watched and smiled.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Happy 6th Birthday!

Our room's balcony overlooked the waterpark
Madeline's birthday was November 4th.  I can't believe that our little girl is 6!!  Where is the time going??  I am a big believer in making a big deal about one's it my birthday (although more difficult to acknowledge as I get older), David's birthday, my kids' birthdays or a friend's birthday, I believe that a birthday is one's special day.  I initially planned to throw Madeline a birthday party with her playmates, however, since relocating moved us far away from her friends and her birthday was too close to our arrival in Minnesota for her to make new friends to invite to a party here, we had to make other celebration plans. David and I decided to celebrate Madeline's birthday in, as Madeline would call it, a "sparkly hotel" - that is, a hotel with an indoor water park.  Since Madeline is a little fish when it comes to the water, the water park was a good day of fun.

Madeline and Jonathan ready for water fun
The Waterpark of America is only about a 15 minute drive from us but we decided to do an overnight for maximum water fun.  It was a pretty decent park and they are constantly offering discounted day passes or 1/2 day passes so I will certainly go back there again.  A discounted pass would make for a perfect mother/daughter or father/daughter outing for that one-on-one time with Madeline.

Madeline's birthday "candle" and cherries jubilee
After a few hours of water play (David & I took rotations between Madeline & Jonathan), we enjoyed an oh so (not) gourmet snack bar dinner of hot dogs, cheeseburgers and fries.  Not exactly my idea of a good birthday dinner, but it was a fun meal for a 6 year old.  After dinner, back to the water for more fun.  Later, we headed back to our room and there we ordered a birthday dessert.  I always have intentions of creating some beautifully themed birthday cake that is decorated with much love yet, in reality, Madeline is not a big cake person.  Also, with only 3 of us eating desserts, an entire cake would be much, much more than we would (and should) eat.  Besides, with the logistics of bringing a cake to the hotel it made more sense for us to order up room service dessert.  Unfortunately, I can' get the "Mama gold star" because I didn't pack candles.  What did we use when singing Happy Birthday??? We made believe my index finger was a candle.  Oh well....Madeline and I only cared about digging into our cherries jubilee while David eyed up his sinful chocolate dessert.  The lack of a candle was not on Madeline's radar at all as she was more concerned about tearing into her birthday gifts

Can't wait to open gifts!
Madeline was sufficiently spoiled with gifts from me, David & Jonathan as well as gifts that were mailed to her from family.  Madeline was happy with all that she got and she was super excited about her "Fur Real Friend" that she got from David and me.  The "Fur Real Friend" is basically a barking toy dog that you can take on a walk via a remote control.  We let Madeline take her dog, that she named Fluffy, for a *quick* stroll in the hallway of the hotel before she went to bed. 

As I followed behind Madeline in the hotel hallway, I got a quick flash back to Russia.  In the week after our "Gotcha Day", we had a lot of time to spend in the hotel with a 20 month old.  A very tiny hotel room didn't do much in occupying a toddler.  The international adoption families were mostly on the same floor in the hotel (we jokingly referred to it as "the American wing"). Although we went on numerous walks in Astrakhan, Russia, we all spent many hours letting our kids toddle around the hallways as we followed behind them.  And as I followed Madeline as she walked Fluffy in the hotel hallway I flashed back in my mind to the Azimut Hotel in Astrakhan Russia and wondered where has the time gone?
Awesome designer doggie with a you-decorate dog carrier and dog cape - from Uncle Marty & Aunt Vicky

Super cool Polly Pocket RV from "Texas Grandma"

Stylish smile shirt from Aunt Margaret

Madeline and her FurReal Friend - "Fluffy"

Walking the dog as Mama wonders where the time has gone.