Monday, December 12, 2011

December 12 - We made it!

Hey everyone!  We are home and are doing great!  Audrey and I both survived the 24 hour en route transit and that is all we can ask, right?  The flight from Moscow to London was easy, breezy, beautiful but the flight from London to Chicago - not so much.  Audrey was so exhausted and, as I quickly learned - is quite stubborn about falling to sleep when she is overtired.  Every time she started to doze off, she would shake her head, cry and keep herself awake.  It was agony (for her and for me and for the guy next to us who I will thankfully never have to see again).    Anyway, as I said - we made it and are back in Nashville.

Audrey and Clare are both adjusting well.  Audrey is sleeping and eating better than expected (still no solid foods though).  Her 2nd night at home, she slept from 7pm-6:30am with only a quick 2am bottle feeding - which I thought was terrific.  She is enjoying the sights and sounds of home and particularly has taken to her big sister.  She watches her all the time.  So sweet.

As for Clare, she has been awesome.  She helps me feed her and change her diaper and even helped this morning with Audrey's first bath.  I am so proud of her!  What a big girl!

We will see what the rest of the week brings for me as a new mother of two!  I have so much to say about how in love I am with both my girls and all the blessings in my life and how amazing our trip was - but honestly - I am still exhausted from the flight and of all the Reardon girls, I am the one sleeping the worst right now so my mind is complete mush.

I don't have a ton of pictures yet but I am sure those will come.  A few cute ones below.

Thanks for following along.

Audrey relaxing at the Moscow airport
before her first airplane ride

Resting on the way to London...
Hooray for an open seat next to us!

Totally cashed out in Chicago before the final
leg of our journey home to Nashville.
What a sweet little angel!

First night at home with her big sister, Clare

Clare, my Kazakh princess, modeling
her new Russian outfit for us.
What a total doll, right?
Audrey trying out her new high chair, adorned
with a yellow hair bow.

Clare and Audrey getting to know each other!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Dec 9 - Last day!

Wow!  Rough night last night.  From about 9pm-1am, Audrey really struggled.  Waking up, screaming, about every 15-20 minutes.  Thanks to advice from family and friends, I regained my sanity eventually, after my own new adoptive mother roller coaster and decided she was probably teething and gave her some tylenol.  She slept for about 4hrs, woke up again, gave her some tylenol and got another 4hrs.  We have stayed on the 4-hr tylenol cycle and all is much better.  Well - not really Tylenol - Walgreens Infant Pain Reliever.  Anyway, much better today.  We spent about 2hrs walking down both New and Old Arbat.  It is 30 degrees and not much wind so the weather is nice, although a bit gloomy.  Tanya should be here in about an hour to drop off my final paperwork.  She and Gregory have been out and about all day, working on our behalf.  They are so good to me.

Audrey is taking her afternoon nap now.  Once she wakes up, we will probably play for a little bit then go out one final time.  I need to buy some more formula.  I am unfortunately probably going to be about 3 bottles too short.  Ugh - so close yet so far!  I brought a whole thing of Similac but because she is only eating from the bottle - still no solids - I wasn't anticipating going through the whole can in 5 days!  Wow.   A lot went down the drain the first few days too because I was making whole bottles and she only handles about 5oz at a time still.  

As for what is next - we have about 12hrs left in Moscow.  Gregory and Tanya will be here at 4am to pick us up for the airport (that is 6pm Friday night Nashville time).  We have 24hrs ahead of travel, through London and Chicago and land in Nashville at 6pm on Saturday!  Hooray.  Our luggage is almost all packed, except for the things we need for tonight and tomorrow morning.  So looking forward to seeing my monkey, Clare.  I know she is anxious to meet Audrey and give her a kiss in person, versus over Skype.

Hope all is well back home.  Thanks for following along.  I will post again from Nashville!  Not many pictures today - just a few.

Kathy and Audrey

Just lounging around this morning after a rough night.  

Hanging on the couch after her bottle

This is New Arbat.  Our apartment is the first
high rise on the left.  We are on the 22nd floor.

Asleep in the elevator after our stroll today.
Isn't she just the sweetest thing?  Love her!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dec 8 - Embassy Day

Today was our day at the American Embassy.  Tanya picked us up around 10:30 and we were off.  The embassy interview is much ado about nothing but fun nonetheless.  I think there were 5-6 other families there.  I met 3 of them.  One family was from Smyrna, TN if you can believe that (small world) and was adopting a beautiful 3-yr old girl, another family from DC with a handsome little boy, and a 3rd couple from Florida who adopted sibling girls, ages 2 and 1.  We were all so excited as you can imagine.  So, when we get there, the first thing we do is pay at Window #4 and get a receipt.  Then you wait for Window #1 to open.  Once Window #1 opens, you give them your invitation and your receipt, then you wait again.  Eventually, a nice guy, today named Michael, comes out and talks to the entire group, explaining what will happen next, what will happen when we depart at the airport, and what will happen when we reach immigration in the USA.  I had gone through the same process with Clare from Kazakhstan so was pretty familiar.  No real differences.  We waited again after Michael's speech.  Eventually they called my name, up to Window #2.  Asked me a few questions, gave me Audrey's birth certificate, adoption certificate, and a few other official papers then waiting again.  About 15 minutes later, back up to Window #1 to receive Audrey's passport, with visa included this time and a sealed envelope, to be opened by US Immigration.  Done!  Once we land on US soil, Audrey will be an American citizen.  USA! USA!  Go red, white and blue!

After the embassy, we had intended to go to Red Square and take some pictures. Well...  not sure what you are hearing back in the states, but Sunday's election has caused quite a mess here.  Lots of protests!  Putin and his party won with about 50% of the vote, but people believe the results were rigged - thus the protests in all public squares.  One family I met at the embassy was barred from leaving their hotel yesterday because of the riots.  Thankfully, on New/Old Arbat, where I am staying, there are no major public squares right nearby so no protests and no police.  All that being said - we didn't go to Red Square today.  SHOOT!  Instead,  we quickly jumped out of the car, near Red Square and took a picture (with a sleeping Audrey and snow starting to fall) on the sidewalk in front of St. Basil's. Tanya should stick to being a translator, not a photographer.  Not the best pictures but a great memory nonetheless!  All the quirks of the adoption journey are a small part of what makes it so special.

Then we were off to the office to get some paperwork Tanya needs for tomorrow to register Audrey at the Russian consulate.  She will be a citizen of Russia (and now the USA) until she is 18 (unless she decides to renounce it) so they want all Russian citizens, living abroad to be registered.  Finally, it was time to say goodbye to Irina and Svetlana.  Being the human water faucet that I am, of course I cried.  Saying goodbye to women who helped find your child, knowing you will most likely never see them or probably even speak to them again, is difficult.  They have played such a pivotal role in giving me one of life's greatest treasures and I have no way to repay them.  These beautiful, caring, smart, brave, pioneering Russian women are forever a part of my life story and a piece of my heart will always be with them.  There are just no words for it.

Now, we are back at the apartment.  Audrey is settling down for her afternoon nap before we Skype with family back home.  Later, we will probably venture down to Old Arbat for dinner.  Maybe Hard Rock Cafe.  We will see.

Hope all is well back home.  Thanks for following along.  Enjoy the few pictures from today.

Kathy



Snow falling, Audrey Sleeping,
in front of St Basil's on the side of the road.  Ha!


A shot (sort of) of Red Square


The KGB Building

My Russian Friends - From left to right:
 Irina holding Audrey, Ludmilla, Tanya and Svetlana



Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dec 7 - Happy Birthday Kim Dean!

So far, so good here in Moscow!  Day 3 started around 5am.  Audrey slept through the night again, from 8pm, although a bit more restless this time.  She woke up at 5am and we snuggled in my bed until 6am before Skyping with her Baba, uncle and big sister back in Wisconsin.  She seemed tired so I put her down around 6:30am and she slept again until 8am (so did I).  It was wonderful!  :)  Then, guess what - thanks to a suggestion from Sherry on my last post, I tried feeding her sitting up on the couch versus holding her.  It worked!  She guzzled down 5 oz in one sitting.  Success!  I hope she outgrows that because I adore holding her while feeding her, but I want her to eat so whatever works!

We played around until about 10am and then she took a nap for an hour or so.  After that, we went out and about.  One of my fellow adoptive parents told me there were good frozen pizzas at the grocery store near the McDonalds so we ventured out.  I found it and bought a pizza for tonight.  So excited!  Then we walked down Old Arbat for a few souvenirs and off to Chili's for lunch.  Audrey did pretty good but got a little restless towards the end. I had forgotten what it was like to have a child crying in a restaurant. Check please!  :)  Now we are home, about to have a mid-afternoon bottle and then a nap.  Supposedly there is a big bookstore down New Arbat a couple of blocks so we will probably check that out post-nap, pre-dinner.

OOh - 2 big successes to report.  First and foremost - Audrey had a stinky dirty diaper this afternoon.  Hooray.  It was her first since I picked her up on Monday.  They had given me glycerin suppositories for her but I was holding off using them until tomorrow if no action.  Well - bam!  Today was the day.  Relief for both of us, I am sure.    Second success - Audrey is sitting up on her own.  She cannot get into a sitting position by herself but she has found her balance to stay there.  So proud of her.  Those little stomach muscles are just getting so strong.  Yea Audrey!  We will write again tomorrow.

Happy Birthday to Audrey's soon-to-be godmother - Kim Dean!

Hope all is well back home.  Thanks for following along.  Enjoy the pictures!

Kathy and Audrey

The sun rises here between 9:30-10am right now.  
This was at 9:45am, taken from my apt, 
looking at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. 


Our new method of feeding, working like a charm!

Look who is sitting up all by herself, just like a big girl!
Go Audrey!

Her bib says:  I was worth the wait!
My thoughts exactly!  Love you sweet Audrey!


All bundled up and ready for a stroll.  No cold was getting to her little body!
Even with all those layers, I still got mean looks from the Russian women.
Maybe they were mad at me because I didn't have a hat on,
nor was my coat zipped.   2 Cardinal Sins here!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dec 6 - day 2 with Audrey

Day 2 is almost complete.  We are both happy and tired.  Audrey slept great last night - 8pm-7am!  What a treat.  Once she woke up, we had a little bit of a bottle (feeding time is still rough - more to come on that later).  Then around 9am, she fell asleep for a short nap.  At 10am, we were off to the clinic for a check-up.  Doctor Boris was our pediatrician.  He was very nice and said Audrey looked to be in good shape.  Teething and chest congestion but overall healthy.  Then, back to the apartment for about an hour of paperwork with Tanya.

Around 4:30, Audrey and I headed out for a walk around Old Arbat street.  I was starving as I had not really eaten anything today except for Pringles.  Old Arbat is all souvenirs and little restaurants (many American - like Wendy's, Subway, Sbarro, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Cinnabon, Hard Rock Cafe and McDonalds).  I have to admit, I broke down and went to McDonalds.  It was fast, easy and cheap.  I wasn't sure how Audrey would be dining out so I didn't want to risk Hard Rock or Chili's just yet - maybe tomorrow.  Any CSS families out there have some dining suggestions for me?

We have tomorrow all to ourselves.  Lots of time to practice sitting and her army crawl and so many other things.  I hope the weather is relatively nice so we can go for a couple of short walks too.

Okay - as for eating.  She absolutely will not eat from a spoon - not apples, not peaches, not cereal, not baby yogurt.  Nothing.   She also hasn't been eating more then 2-3 oz from the bottle during a sitting either.  This afternoon though she did great and ate 5 whole oz.  We celebrated.  Then, this evening, I tried putting a bit of rice cereal and pureed apples in her formula which seemed to work.  She ate about 4oz.  We will keep at it.  Her little world has been rocked in the past 24hrs.  As long as she isn't hungry, eating well will come, right?  Anybody have any advice for me?

I am being so bad with pictures this trip.  Sorry!  Here are a couple from today.

Sweet Audrey napping this afternoon


Just hanging on the couch this afternoon


She gets really attentive when she hears Russian on the TV!  

More to come tomorrow.  Thanks for following along.  Please - if you have any advice on how to best feed Audrey or suggestions for fun restaurants in the New/Old Arbat area, comment here on my blog or shoot me an email.

Later!



Monday, December 5, 2011

Dec 5 - Gotcha Day!

I am so excited to introduce all of you to my daughter - Audrey Darina Reardon, born January 20, 2011 as Darina Ruslanova Sheremetova.  Gotcha sweet girl!

Audrey all bundled up at the Passport office

Audrey and I waiting for the doctor at the baby hospital

Audrey is resting quietly now in her pack n play in the bedroom!  Hooray.  It was a long but wonderful day.  Svetlana, Tanya and Gregory picked me up at 10:30am after a basically sleepless night (jet lag and excitement).  We went to the baby hospital.  Audrey was in the same room, all by herself though.  She has a really bad cold and probably bronchitis.  She will be just fine but her breathing is really labored.  The doctor gave us 3 prescriptions and then we were off (unceremoniously) to the baby home. No pictures or anything.   Because she was sick, Tanya and Svetlana said it would be best for us to stay in the car while they signed the paperwork and dropped off the Gotcha Day cake and presents for the caregivers.  So no final pictures at the babyhome either.  From the babyhome, we went to pick up Audrey's passport then off to the CSS office before going back to the apartment.  What an afternoon for Audrey - about 5hrs in the car, bundled up in a huge snowsuit and hat.  She was so sweaty when I undressed her.  Her clothes and her poor little head were soaked!

She is doing just great.  Has 8 teeth - 2 more popped up on the bottom since I last saw her!  Not eating much though.  I have tried rice cereal and pureed apples so far with no luck.  She has probably had about 6-7 ounces of formula but certainly not enough.  Maybe just the excitement of the day and her illness probably doesn't help either.  Let's see what tomorrow brings from an appetite perspective.  She still isn't able to sit up but she rolls over like a champ and guess what else - she is ready to crawl.  Right now, she does the inchworm scoot!  I was totally shocked but so happy.  Is it crazy that I feel like in the 7hrs we have been together, she already seems different - more alert, more talkative, more engaged.  I am hopeful she will be a good sleeper and sleep through the night for me.

Tomorrow morning, we are going to a pediatrician at 10am to get her checked out.  That is all that is on the agenda right now.

As for her big sister - Clare and Audrey met via Skype a couple of hours ago.  Clare was so sweet and gave the computer a hug and a kiss.  What a great sissy she is already!  I am so looking forward to being home on Saturday.  I think it will be a long week.  I wish it was summer so that she and I could be outside more.  The weather actually isn't too bad - 40 and rainy today.  If it is not raining tomorrow, I am sure I will take her for a stroll around Old Arbat.

Okay - off to catch up on some work email and then maybe get some sleep myself.   For those of you that haven't had the pleasure yet - I included a few of my favorite pics from trips 1 and 2 below.  I will try to get some good shots of Audrey over the next few days around the apartment.




Gregory with a sleeping Audrey

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Dec 4 - Arrived safely

I am here in my apartment on Novy Arbat.  Uneventful trip.  The flight landed almost an hour early although it didn't matter.  My luggage was literally the last one off the luggage belt so I was actually a bit late and Tanya had started to get worried.  I have to say that waiting around the luggage carousel for your bag to come is a stressful, anxiety-ridden process isn't it?  You wait, staring expectantly at each new bag that rounds the corner.  Then your stomach drops each time you realize it isn't yours... and the horror when you think the last bag has come because there is a pause in the luggage flow.  Then the extreme joy when you realize - oh good - here come more bags!  Stress!  Am I the only one?  Fess up, people - you have all felt that!  Well, last bag or not - at least my luggage came and I was off through customs to meet Tanya for the last time.

After picking me up, we were off to the apartment to drop off all of my things and then hit the local grocery store.  For those of you that followed along with Clare's adoption, I had a similar experience again.  I am not much of a cook at home so asking me to shop internationally is just a huge joke.  I picked up Frosted Flakes, 2 bananas, some Brie, a package of hot dogs, some weird salami that Tanya said would be just delicious and some ketchup and bread.  UGH!  I need to lose about 10lbs so maybe this will help.

As for what happens next - Tanya, Svetlana and Gregory will be here at 10:30am to take me to Audrey.  We will be picking her up from the baby hospital.  She was never released on Thanksgiving as they had hoped.  She has been in there almost a month now.  I don't know why she is still there - if she has gotten worse, if something else is ailing her but I will know soon enough.  On the way, we will stop and pick up 2 cakes for the Gotcha Day celebration - one to leave at the hospital and one to leave at the babyhome.  All of my thank you gifts are ready, my diaper bag is packed, now I just need Sweet Audrey!   I wonder if she will do well riding in the car.  Tanya told me to bring some plastic bags, just in case she doesn't.  I know that feeling all too well and will take my Bonine in the morning.  Let's hope both Reardon girls don't get carsick tomorrow!  Wouldn't that be a treat?  Certainly a special Gotcha Day memory.

Okay - that is all for now.  I will post again on Monday once Audrey is home at the apartment with me.  Later.

Kathy

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dec 3 - Off for trip 3

It is finally here.  I am off to Moscow for the final trip today.  Monday will be my Gotcha Day with Audrey.  These past 20 or so months have been such a roller coaster of emotions.  The highs of paperwork progress or a referral.  The lows of the setbacks and the lost referrals. The stress of imagining being a single mom of two.  The wonder when I realized how many people I have in my life who love and support me.  The excitement of the future, watching my 2 girls become more than sisters - but maybe best friends.

Now that the day is here - most of that has faded away. Now I really just feel ready.  Everything just feels right and natural.  I had an interesting discussion the other day with a friend as he was commenting on adoption and how special it is what I am doing.  I shared with him that adoption, for me, is no different than becoming a biological parent.  No more or less special.    Obviously the process is VERY different but the feelings are the same.  He said but "you are going to love a child unconditionally that you didn't create" and that is when it hit me - no, I didn't create her but God certainly created her for me.  She has always been my daughter.  We just didn't know each other yet.  Just as each biological child is created uniquely for his/her parents, each adopted child is created uniquely for those that wait in love to be brought to their son or daughter.  I am ready to bring Audrey home where she belongs to her big sister, to Ginger, our puppy, and to me, the mom who has loved her in my heart long before I knew her name or saw her sweet face.   I don't know if any of that makes sense but that is the way I feel at 5:18am on the day I leave to begin my life as a family now of 3!

I will write more from Moscow and guess what - I will post pictures of Miss Audrey on Monday when I bring her home to our apartment there.

A final note of thanks to all of my friends and family who have been with me through this entire journey.  You have all given me just what I needed whenever I needed it - support, encouragement, laughter, love.   I am so lucky to finally have Audrey in my life.  Even more - Audrey, Clare and I as a family are lucky to have all of you!  

To the Robertsons, the Hutchins, Aunt Cindy, the McDonalds, and the DG Family Center staff (especially Heather and Kimberly - the Red Lobsters) - thank you for watching Clare when I have been away.  Thank you for loving her like part of your family and keeping her safe and happy.  You will never know what a precious gift that was for me to be able to travel to Audrey, knowing that Clare was in such a good place.

To my family - thank you for the constant love and support during this process.  I have the courage to do this because of all of you.  I want Clare to have a sister because of my amazing brothers and the bond we have and the fun we have had and the laughter we have shared.  Families come in all shapes and sizes and all have their own challenges - I am so blessed to have mine because it has made me the person I am today.

To my best friends - Kim and Kate...  even though the miles and sometimes even life, separate us - I know you are always there for me.  We have become mothers together.  When I am feeling crazy and ready to receive the lifetime achievement award for "Worst Mom Ever" - you make me laugh and remind me that every mom, on any given day, is in the running for that distinction.

To my CSS family, Carol, Tanya, Svetlana, Irina, Alexander, Gregory - I don't have words for this group.  What do you say to people who have brought you to your daughter?   Can I ever thank them enough?  The answer is simply no but this group of people will always have a place in my heart.  As Audrey grows, I will share her story and the role each of these amazing people played to bring us together.

To my adoptive family friends who I have met along the way - thanks for understanding!  It is great to have a group of people who have walked this journey too, who not only care but really understand.  Your advice, your family stories, and your support have helped me through!

To anyone following along who feels as if you didn't make it into one of my thank you buckets yet - well, thank you too!   Life is certainly about the relationships we build and the lives we touch.  Thank you for following along and being a part of my journey.

Okay - enough emotional blogging babble.  I have to brush my teeth and head to the airport to go get my little girl!  I will blog again from Moscow!

Paka!
Big sister Clare with her new hat and mittens at school this week

Monday, November 21, 2011

Nov 21 - Court Day

It is official (well almost - dang 10 day wait).  It is a closed court so I won't share the details here but all went as expected - about 90 minutes total.  The judge sustained my petition as they say here and today, DRS (will share her full former name after 10 day wait) officially become Audrey D Reardon.   There is now a 10 day wait for both sides to consider the decision and Friday, December 2 - it is final.  No turning back.  The deal will be sealed.  Lock the door and throw away the keys.  All's well that ends well.  That fat lady will have sung... What other euphemisms can I use?  Anyway, our Gotcha Day will be Monday, December 5th which is the day I can pick Audrey up.

I am going to have a glass of champagne to celebrate at the hotel lobby bar.  Svetlana and Tanya and I had a little celebration at the courtroom cafeteria.  Boiled potatoes and ground veal cutlet (maybe??).  No champagne but I did want to do something special so - I had my first cup of coffee ever!  I wanted it to be a momentous occasion.  The ladies were drinking coffee so I decided - why not.  Why not have my first cup of coffee (and probably the last to be honest) to commemorate the day I became Audrey's mom. Ha!  Funny way to celebrate but a moment I won't forget.  Lunch for 3 of us 310 rubles.  3 cups of coffee about 90 rubles.  Being Audrey's mom - priceless!

I feel so relieved and so happy and even a little shocked.  I just wasn't sure if this would really happen.  The threat of Russia closing.  Then the threat of Russia closing to singles.  Then 3 referrals that didn't happen for all different reasons.  All of those twists and turns but here am I - ready to be Audrey's mom with only a few more days to wait and prepare.

Early flight tomorrow morning.  Poor Gregory is picking me up at 4:30am.  Ouch.  I made the mistake of saying to Tanya that perhaps I could take a taxi so that Gregory wouldn't have to get up so early.  She about to went into orbit on that one.  I got the picture and won't bring up a taxi again.

Thanks for following along.  Later!

Kathy

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Nov 20 - Day 2 with Audrey

Audrey was asleep when we arrived this morning - about 11am.  She awoke maybe 5 minutes after we got there and was in a great mood.  Lots of laughing and interaction today which was so nice to see.  She still shies away from lots of eye contact but is getting better.  She has the cutest little smile and laugh when I can pull one out of her.

Her congestion seemed much better today too, which is such a relief.  She is also teething.  She already has 4 on top and 2 on the bottom but her next 2 bottom teeth are poking through so that explains the drool and constantly sucking on that bottom lip.

We played for almost 90 minutes (and by played I mean I hold her and try to get a smile out of her).  Then it was time to go they said because it was lunch time.  When i put her down in her crib, she just cried and cried.  I couldn't leave.  Just couldn't do it.  She was just desperate for love and attention and I was going to give it to her.  I was not leaving her like that.  No way, no how... so they said I could feed her which was so amazing.  They brought in a glass bottle which was really hot to the touch.  Inside was a weird brownish, yellowish liquid.  Pureed vegetable soup with some mashed potatoes whipped in...  They basically take what the older kids are eating, water it down, puree it and throw it in a bottle... Voila - baby lunch!  I was worried about it being too hot for her but she was okay.  Ate it down - fast!  Most babyhome kids eat too much, too fast.  We will work on that once we get home if it becomes a problem.  It can be pretty severe for some.  We will see how Audrey is...  After she ate, I was able to put her down, with the bottle in the crib, and she was okay.  I didn't like leaving her with a glass bottle in her crib but the nurse said they would come back and get it as soon as we left.

Just like last time, it was really hard to leave her.  This time though, I know I am only leaving for 2 weeks and when I next see her - I am going to break her free forever!  2 more weeks.  14 days.  336 hours.   We can both survive that.  Then a lifetime a together.   Do you see what I see?  The light at the end of the tunnel!!!

Tomorrow is court.  Tanya, Gregory and Svetlana will pick me up at 8:45am and off to see the judge.  Tanya said it should take about 2hrs so hopefully I will be Audrey's mom by lunch!

That is all for now.   I am off to walk around Tverskaya for a bit before dinner and then think through everything before court.

Kathy

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Nov 19 - The Baby Hospital

Tanya and Gregory picked me up at 10am after what I might possibly call my worst case of jet lag ever.  I think the jet lag, coupled with nerves and excitement just left me wide awake - all night!  Finally at about 6am, I fell asleep until 9am.  Hey - 3hrs of sleep is better than none.  I will take it!  Then off to the babyhome.  We had to get a piece of paper for court, showing that I had visited Audrey.  Unfortunately, she is still suffering from her upper respiratory infection so was at the baby hospital.  It wasn't too far from the babyhome - maybe a 5 minute drive or so.  She is going to be there until next Thursday they think.

You want to talk heartbreak - go to a baby hospital in Russia.  Audrey was in a room with 5 cribs.  The room was literally no bigger than my closet - granted I have a huge closet - but it was maybe 10x10.  There were 2 other children with her.  One little boy who was severely physically and developmentally challenged and a little girl who looked to be about 2 years old who kept reaching for me to hold her and calling me Mama. Tanya said this was probably the rooms for orphans as other kids had their parents with them in private rooms.   Honestly, I just wanted to cry right then seeing Audrey all alone in that room with these other 2 kids.  It is bad enough to be sick but to be sick and with no love or comfort.  Heartbreak!  I really can't even think about.  It was so incredibly hard to leave her there.

I was able to spend about an hour with her.  The social worker who will be with us at court joined us too.  She was observing me with Audrey and also asking me prep questions - how long will I stay home with Audrey before going back to work?  Who will care for her once I do go back to work?  What if she gets so sick that I need to quit my job - how will we afford to live?  Am I aware of her diseases?  All pretty basic questions - but nerve-wracking nonetheless on Monday when the judge will ask me.

As for Audrey - she looks the same, still cute but tiny.  She still isn't sitting up but she has been sick so is probably pretty weak.  I was glad to hear her little voice today.  So sweet.  She smiled and let out a little screech when I first picked her up.  I felt my heart just burst that made me so happy.  I don't think she recognized me necessarily (although I can dream).  I think she was more just so thrilled to be cuddled close to someone.  I will get to see her again tomorrow which will be the last time before our GOTCHA day which should be December 5th if all goes as planned.

The weather today is just what you would expect from Moscow in the winter.  Cold, dreary, with snowy sleet falling.  I don't mind though.  Feel like I am getting the full Russian experience.

I will write again tomorrow after I see sweet Audrey again.  Thanks for following along!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Nov 18 - Arrived safely

My flight landed on time and I am here at the Marriott Grand.  Tanya was waiting for me (as always) when I exited Customs.  Unfortunately, my driver and now good friend, Sasha (Alexander) wasn't with her.  Not sure why but there is a new driver - Gregoire.  Very nice man as well and same Russian driving techniques so I am in good hands but I will certainly miss Sasha.

I didn't do much today.  Was at the hotel by 3pm and rested for a couple of hours, caught up on some work email and now I am going to have a salad at the hotel lobby bar.  Tanya and Gregoire are picking me up at 10am to go see Audrey, who has been sick and is at the baby hospital.  Nothing major - a fever and bronchitis is what they have told me - nothing to worry about...  To help ensure others don't also get sick, it is typical to take the kids to the baby hospital when they have a fever.  Tanya wasn't sure if she would be back at the babyhome or not for our visit but if not, she said that we could visit her at the baby hospital.  While obviously I would prefer that she is better and staying warm and as cozy as possible in the comfort of her babyhome crib, I will just be happy to see her and hold her and kiss her and talk to her - wherever that happens to be.

As for sweet Monkey, Clare, she is having a blast with Charlotte and her family back in Nashville.  Charlotte sent me a video of Clare playing with her daughter Hannah, just giggling and having so much fun.   I have the best friends who love Clare so much and  take such good care of her when I am away.  That makes leaving so much easier.

I will post again tomorrow and let you know how the visit with little Audrey went.  Hope all is well back home.

P.S.  Alice Cooper and his entourage are sitting at the table next to me at the lobby bar.  I didn't know his name but knew the face.  Google helped me figure out who he actually was...  The wonders of the Internet - so glad Al Gore invented it.  Ha!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

On my way for court

I am in the Dulles airport with just about 2hrs left before I board the plane for Moscow, on my way for my court date, Monday.  All of the emotions are starting to finally hit.  I have been so focused on making sure Clare was going to be okay for these last two trips and preparing all my work stuff for my absence and getting everything I would need for trips 2 and 3 that I haven't even really thought about what I am actually getting ready for...  Audrey and I were family long before I knew her and before she knew me.  This long, emotional journey is almost to an end and I just couldn't be happier.   Now we just need a judge to tell us what I know in my heart already - that she is my daughter and I am her mommy.  It will be a great day.  Then 10 days later, we will have our long-awaited GOTCHA day and I can bring her home to meet her sister and the rest of her family and our friends.  So thrilled and anxious and ready...    Looking forward to holding and kissing sweet Audrey on Saturday and Sunday!  Will post again when I land in Moscow on Friday.

Paka!

Kathy

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Court Date!

I have a court date!  November 21st!  So exciting and so much to do to get ready.  It will be just a quick weekend jaunt to Moscow.  Arrive on Friday the 18th, visit Audrey on Saturday and Sunday hopefully, court on Monday and back to Nashville on Tuesday.  Then the dreaded 10-day wait before I will go back to Moscow for my 3rd and final trip.  If all goes well, we will land back home and Audrey will become a US Citizen on December 10th.  How amazing.  I am off to check on flights, get my visa, book boarding for my dog, Ginger and just celebrate that the end is in sight!  Hooray for court dates!

Happy belated Halloween from me and Snow White, who is patiently waiting to meet her little sister soon!


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Maybe the halfway point

This Thursday is 3 weeks since I last saw sweet Audrey.  I am hopeful that what my in-country coordinator told me holds true and that court is typically 6 weeks in the Moscow region which would mean I am at about the halfway point.  I know - silly girl - this is international adoption after all and there are no guarantees.  When will I learn....  Anyway, I sent my last docs off to Carol today - updated medical (3rd time) and my updated 171H with new fingerprints and one-time free extension.  Waiting on updated FBI clearance but Irina thought my current FBI clearance was close enough from a timing perspective (just a wee bit over 6 months) that it might work.  Have gifts bought, clothes and diapers and snowsuit for Audrey, now I just need new travel dates so I can get my last visa and flights.  These 3 weeks flew by so I am hoping the next do as well.  It is great to have all my pictures and video from trip 1 so I can look at her sweet face every day.  I have been checking out apartments through Peace travel too. Trying to decide if I will stay in an apt on the 2nd trip just to check it out before trip 3.  I feel like I might like the ease and comfort of the Marriott Grand though.   Don't need to worry about food at all - the lobby bar had great little salads. The downside is that I won't be able to test out the apartment before I pick up Audrey I guess for trip 3.  Decisions, decisions...   Not much else to say.  Just trying to stay busy and get ready.  I know that my world will soon be very different as a single mother of 2 beautiful girls.  Better enjoy the simplicity of one while it lasts, right?

Friday, September 30, 2011

8-doc medical

Well - let me say this, I had heard the 8-doc medical was not as imposing as it may seem and boy they were not kidding.  Tanya and Sasha picked me up at 10am and off to the clinic - like one of our hospitals.  I had blood taken first for some tests.  As usual with me, it was difficult to find my vein so they had to call in a special nurse to help.  Always happens when I give blood too.  They say I have small veins - who knows.  Anyway, after that, off for x-rays.  As I was getting x-rayed I realized, I don't think I have ever had x-rays before.  Never broken anything or even came close that I can recall so no need I suppose.  Good thing I am not modest.  Had to strip down on the top - all the way.  Tanya was there.  I guess I could have asked her to step out but honestly - that was the least of my worries.  We were done with testing around 11:15am.  Tanya said we would now wait for the blood work and then meet all the doctors.  We went to a small waiting room, right next to what can best be described like an American board room with a long wooden table and chairs all around it.  We were the only ones there today.  That made Tanya sad because she said that normally there are at least 2 families and sometimes up to 5 there at the same time.  She said it just indicates how slow the international adoption process has become in Russia. Then we waited and waited and waited and waited.  Around 2pm, the man, Andrei, who was helping us, went to find some of the doctors.  He came back with 3 signatures on my form, without them even needing to see me - Narcologist, Psychiatrist, and Urologist.  Hooray!  So, 3 hrs down and 3 signatures without even seeing a doc!  Good.  Then we waited some more.  About 2:30, the internist came in listened to my heart, looked at my wrists and ankles and signed the form.  Glad to know my wrists and ankles passed the test!  Hooray.  Halfway through.  Then came in a doctor specializing in infectious diseases - she looked at my papers, asked if I ever had any head injuries or surgeries.  When I responded no - she signed the form.  5 doctors down - 3 to go!  Around 3pm, Andrei went in search of them.  He came back with 2 more signatures - the Dermatologist and the Pulmonologist.  Fantastic.  Within a few minutes, the Oncologist came in, asked if I smoked, I said no - and guess what - he signed the form.  One vial of blood, one set of x-rays, 8 signatures and about 4hrs later and I am declared healthy and fit to adopt.

After the medical, Sasha dropped Tanya and I off at Red Square.  It was great to see everything through her eyes.  St Basil's Cathedral, the History Museum, Ascension Gates, Lenin's Tomb.  We also walked through the GUM (pronounced goom) which is a huge shopping mall that borders Red Square - very very expensive, with shops like Hermes, Van Cleef&Arpel, Lacoste, Gucci, etc.   Tanya gets ice cream there with all her families so of course we had ice cream.  After that, we watched the changing of the guard at their Tomb of the unknown solider.

Then it was time to say goodbye - which was hard - just knowing my trip is coming to an end.  I hated not seeing Audrey today.  I so look forward to getting that call from Carol that a court date has been set.  I don't think it will be less than 4 weeks from now but am hoping not more than 8.  They all think about 6 weeks which puts me in the middle of November.  Sdending prayers about that.

Tomorrow, Sasha picks me up at 7am for my 12hr flight back to Houston, 6-hr layover and then should land in Nashville around 10pm.  Cannot wait to give Clare so many hugs and kisses.  She will be sleeping by the time I get home but I will absolutely be waking her up.  :)

Hope all is well back home!  I will write again when I know more about a court date. Until then - as they say in Russia - paka!


The famous Bolshoi Theater (from the car of course);  Tanya said it is scheduled
to reopen in October, after 6 years!  I guess the wait for tickets is months and months!

St. Basil's taken from the front - in Red Square

Ascension Gate, one of the 2 entrances to Red Square.
We saw 3 bridal parties today!

The changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day 4 and a sad goodbye

Day 4 of visiting sweet Audrey but also the day I had to say goodbye to her for about 6 weeks.  She was pretty tired today.  We arrived at almost 2 o'clock today after visiting the notary and the office in the morning.  I think they maybe woke her up for our visit because she just seemed more groggy today.   I felt like maybe she recognized me when they brought her in (perhaps wishful thinking) and maybe even a hint of happiness to see me?   We had a lot of snuggle time today, knowing that she was going to be without me for awhile again.  She was very cuddly today and just curled up in my arms, sucking those middle two fingers.  It was heartbreaking to say goodbye.  Of course there were tears - or as Sasha my driver says - sad eyes today!   I know all of us Russian adoptive parents go through this.  The agony of thinking she might feel abandoned again in her short little life.  She finally meets this person who gives her so much love and attention, even for just a short while each day, and then soon it is gone again.  Certainly she is too young to remember me when I get back but of course I dread the thought of her little heart feeling any sadness or loneliness again.  I just keep reminding myself that we will have a lifetime together - or at least 18 years until she goes off to college.   6 weeks will be just a distant memory before we know it.  Until I can return, I will be praying for her safekeeping and for her to be showered with the best love her caregivers can offer.

Tomorrow is the infamous 8-doctor medical appt and then back home on Saturday.  Trip 1 is almost done.  November will be here soon and Audrey should be an American citizen and officially my daughter just in time for a great Christmas in Nashville!

Until next time!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 3

Sitting at the lobby bar, having a glass of wine and eating a salad at the end of another great day!  The day started with a trip to a photo shop to have a picture of Audrey cropped for her passport and visa.  Then we were off to exchange money.  The dollar is dropping so Tanya thought it was time to do a larger exchange.  Guess what - 5 exchanges, no rubles!  Or at least they said no rubles.  Tanya said they sometimes hold the rubles when they know the rate is dropping so they have to pay out less.  Nice.  We finally found one though - but already a lower exchange rate, although no commission.  Then - off to see Miss Audrey.  Traffic was good so the trip was only about 70 minutes this morning.  Audrey was a stunner again today.  Same yellow shirt as yesterday but this time, a beautiful doiley on her head along with pinkish tights and of course the yellow booties.   As you can imagine, it takes a special kind of girl to rock a doiley on her head and Audrey was fierce in it.  She could make doileys runway fashionable!  Anyway, we were able to spend almost 90 minutes together today which was great.  I held her and rocked her, gave her some belly play-time and some wheels on the bus too.    We practiced sitting up, which needs a lot more work, but she can roll over both front to back and back to front.  She demonstrated that for me twice today which was great to see.  She gets better each day at grabbing things with her hands but like most things, it will improve with time.  She still is very quiet although I heard a couple babbles today.  Her face isn't expressive but she hasn't had too much to express yet in her short little life.  I am so looking forward to getting her home, feeding her well,  giving her some fresh air and sunshine and lots of love and attention.  I just know she will blossom.

The ride back into Moscow took a little less than 2 hrs (better than yesterday).  I was able to take a few shots of sites from the car.  Tanya also took me to a beautiful cathedral called The Cathedral of Christ the Savior (picture below).  It has an amazing story that Tanya shared.   When Bonaparte fled Moscow in defeat in the early 1800s, Alexander decided to build a Cathedral to honor Christ as their Savior, saving them from defeat.  It took 20 years to build originally and stood tall until 1931 when Stalin ordered it demolished by dynamite.   Thankfully in 1990, they decided to rebuild it in its original glory.  Construction started in 1994 and completed in 2000, with complete restoration as it stood originally.  A beautiful and very symbolic building for a beautiful city.

Tomorrow, we are off to the notary to sign some papers for my court date and then off to the babyhome to see Miss Audrey before I leave for 6 weeks or so.   Is the trip really drawing to a close already?  I will be so happy to be home and to hug sweet monkey Clare but so sad to leave Audrey.


St. Basil's Cathedral on Red Square as taken from our car passing by...  




The American Embassy as taken from our car, passing by



The amazing Cathedral of Christ the Savior - not in the car this time!  :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Day 2

Where to begin with a fun day 2...  First, I forgot one other funny story from yesterday.  Note of caution - Day 1 was much funnier than Day 2.  Maybe that is why I subconsciously saved an anecdote from Day 1 for today - just in case so Day 2 entry wasn't too boring.

Anyway, yesterday Tanya was telling me how in Russia, adoptions are much more secretive.  Many parents don't even share with their children about their adoption.  Much different than the United States today where most adoptions are very open.  I mentioned that it would be hard for me to keep mine private, if I wanted to (which I don't but if I did) because of Clare's ethnicity.  Tanya had the perfect solution!  Just tell everyone I am married to an Asian man.  After awhile if they ask why they have never met him, I can share that he travels quite a bit.  If they continue to push or ask why I don't wear a ring, eventually I just tell them we are divorced now.  Problem solved!  :)  I shared that while that is certainly one approach, for me it is probably easier just to share that Clare (and Audrey) are adopted and I am single.  Good ol' Tanya!

Back to Day 2, today started with a trip to the hospital to see Dr. Mouradov.  Handsome!  I had forgotten something yesterday (again, perhaps that was my subconscious kicking in again) so we had to swing by there today to drop if off.  It was really just a quick visit on the sidewalk but I did get another hug which was fun.  Then off for the real business of the day - to see Miss Audrey!

Yesterday, the 30 mile drive only took an hour.  This morning - it took 2 hrs.  Ouch.  Audrey was dressed in a lovely ensemble once again, complete with knit yellow booties, a yellow hat, yellow shirt, red tights with $ signs all over them and let's not forget the keep-the-core-warm onesie.    Despite the attire - completely adorable.  We spent the first part of the visit taking pictures that would be used for her passport and some for court on Trip 2.  Then she and I did some leg exercises and also began to practice sitting up a bit.  Time to flex and strengthen all those muscles.  She was in a good mood - quiet like yesterday but still observant.  The most heartbreaking and heartwarming part of the visit was her first smile for me.  I was giving her amazing little cheeks these soft butterfly kisses on each side.  She loved it and gave me the best smile.  I saw all 4 teeth on top because she smiled so big.  It totally made me melt in love and then it made me cry as I thought that for 8 months this sweet little angel never got butterfly kisses on those amazing cheeks.  While they take great care of her, no one massages her little legs or rubs that beautiful head.  No one caresses her forehead, down her nose, helping her to relax. No one has loved her the way her mommy can and will.  She has been waiting so patiently for me and here I am - finally - giving her all the butterfly kisses she can take!  For all you moms out there, give your kids big hugs and kisses.  Wipe away their tears and share their smiles.  Enjoy every single moment.  I have with Clare and I will with Audrey.  For you moms still waiting to meet your little one, hold on.  It is worth every bump in the road, every tear, every delay, every unexpected twist - just one smile after a few sweet butterfly kisses is all it takes!

Okay - what else - ooh the ride home.  30 miles, 3.5hrs in Moscow traffic.  Ouch!  We went to the office to get some paperwork that I need to have notarized on Thursday then back to the hotel.  Tomorrow, we will get Audrey's passport picture processed then off to the BH for a visit.  Haven't done much sightseeing yet.  The days have been full.  Tanya thought maybe tomorrow after our visit.  Thursday sounds like the last day I will see Audrey as I have the 8-doc medical on Friday.  Taking lots of pictures so I will be able to look at them during the long wait before court.

Hope all is well back home.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Finally!

Today I met my daughter.  She is beautiful and sweet and quiet and interested and questioning and just so wonderful!   The day started out by visiting the Department of Education where I learned about my referral (everything I already knew) then off to the babyhome.  The traffic thankfully wasn't bad so it only took about an hour.

Pause for product advertisement - Hooray for 24-hr "less drowsy" dramamine.  Worked like a charm for the crazy Moscow traffic and as advertised - with less drowsiness.  Back to regularly scheduled blogging...

Arriving at the babyhome, they quickly brought peanut in to see me.  She looked just like her referral picture.  A beauty for sure.  I held her and played for about 20 minutes before Dr. Mouradov arrived to help me with her evaluation. All checked out really well.  She has the expected delays - nothing that won't be improved with lots of love and attention, along with some wheels on the bus action to get those muscles used to moving.     Some small other little abnormalities but again - nothing we can't overcome as a family so I am thrilled and look forward to bringing her home - hopefully by the end of November, early December.

For those of you who followed along on my first adoption, you might remember that no adoption journey is complete for me without some weird meat story.  Well, after leaving the babyhouse, Svetlana and Tanya needed to go back inside and complete some paperwork so Alexander (aka Sasha, my driver) and I were hanging by the car.  Then - guess what happened - you won't guess - he opened his trunk, pulled out a loaf of rye bread, a hunk of salami and made me a salami sandwich on rye, right in front of the babyhouse, at the trunk of his car, on the street.  Yup - sure did!  Like I said - for me adoption and weird meat stories go together like Sonny and Cher or PB&J or Starsky&Hutch or whatever fabulous duo you can concoct.

On the ride home, we started discussing baby names.  The fun continued as Svetlana and Tanya are absolutely enthralled with any name held by a former actress/starlet.  Their favorites, which they more than enthusiastically shared with me were  - Grace for Grace Kelly, Elizabeth for Elizabeth Taylor, Vivian for Vivian Leigh and Sopia, as in Sophia Lauren. You can imagine the sheer giddiness when I shared, unsuspectedly, that I was going to name her Audrey.  Oh the joy they had found!  Audrey, Audrey Hepburn they shouted - how fabulous.  I swear - I was in some weird twilight zone - giddy myself from exhaustion, joy, and sheer terror at truly being a mom of two.  Soon I was right with them - yes, Audrey, Audrey Hepburn!!  :)

OOh - I almost forgot one other funny part of the day.  "Audrey" has Mongolian spots all over her back and her whole bottom is one huge Mongolian spot - literally!  Her entire butt is bluish gray.  So, I am telling Svetlana all about it and her response - hmm - I guess no string bikini underwear in her future.  I busted out laughing.  Good point.  Hopefully I don't need to worry about her wearing thongs anytime soon though and hopefully the spots fade by the time she does.  What a day!

Tomorrow and Wednesday, I visit peanut again at the babyhouse.  I don't know what happens on Thursday - maybe more of the same and on Friday I get poked and prodded during the infamous 8-doctor medical exam.  It really isn't as bad as it sounds, or so I have heard from other adoptive families.  Then on Saturday, I fly back to Nashville to see sweet Clare and await a court date.

I will have more pictures of Moscow sites soon but thought I would share the irony of being so far from home - yet home seems just around the corner.  Recognize any of these?





Sunday, September 25, 2011

Arrived safely

I am all checked in at the Marriott Grand - safe and sound in Moscow!  Flight was perfect and on time.  It was quite a production getting on the airplane though.  Tons of security.  We had our passports checked 3 times from the gate to the airplane.  Right before we boarded, we all had to walk down this narrow hallway - about 10 of us at at time.  They told us to leave our carry-ons and purses, etc on the wall and then go stand on the opposite wall, across from our things.  It was bizarre.  Then, they brought out a police dog who went down the hall, sniffing all of our stuff - first down one way, then down the other.  Well, this crazy dog, a sweet German Shepherd, stops at my Coach purse and puts the thing in his mouth and prances off down the hall with it.  I was scared to death that they were going to think there was something in there but then all the cops started laughing, saying he had good taste in purses.   Oh my gosh, seriously?  I am stressed enough already - I don't need to be scared I am going to get hauled off by airport security or the TSA!  Anyway, it was all fine.  The flight on Singapore was great.  Not too crowded so no one was in the middle seat which is always nice.

The Marriott Grand is a gorgeous hotel!  Wow.  There was an orchestral quartet playing in the lobby when I checked in.  Much more luxurious than the Courtyard and for the same price - except for the internet in the lobby.  The Courtyard has free lobby wi-fi.  I have to pay here per day but then have wi-fi anywhere in the hotel, including my room.  Probably worth it for me.

Tanya and Alexander are still my translator and driver, same as last time.  THey are picking me up, along with Svetlana at 10am to go to the Dept of Education to get information on my referral and then off for the dreaded car ride to the Orphanage.  Dreaded because I get so car sick - hopefully my excitement about the day will outweigh any nausea. Just in case though - I found some 24-hr less-drowsy dramamine so I will give that a whirl in the morning.

Not much else to report right now.  Off to grab some dinner and then get some rest before the big day tomorrow.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Houston

So, stuck in Houston for my 6-hr layover.   I didn't think it would be so bad.  I figured that I would get my luggage from continental and then thought I would recheck-in with Singapore Air and then off for some airport shopping, maybe an airport pedicure and some lunch.  Doesn't sound too bad, does it?  Well - I didn't realize that you can only check in for flights somewhere between 3-5hrs early depending on the airline.   I called Singapore Air and for them, from Houston, check-in is 4hrs pre-flight which means 2 things.  First, I am stuck with my huge suitcase for at least another hour but worse - I cannot get back in to the terminals to shop/eat etc until I check back in.  Hmm.... Didn't think about that.  So, thankfully there is a marriott in between the terminals so I am using their free internet while sitting in their comfy lobby.  

Clare had a great first night at the Robertsons - or at least Heather is making me feel better by at least telling me that.  Today they are at the ball field watching Drew play football and Brooke cheer.  Heather sent me a cute shot which I attached below.  Looking forward to meeting Clare's little sister in about 36hrs.  Finally!!!

More to come from Moscow.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Trip 1 (round 2)

I am leaving tomorrow for Moscow.  Off to Houston at 8:50am, six hr layover at Hobby and then Moscow bound on Singapore Air!  I am a total ball of emotions.  Everyone keeps asking me if I am excited.  The answer yes - but I am also feeling so many other things it is hard to sort through it all.  Absolutely excited to meet my new daughter on Monday.  Nervous about all the possibilities and why things might not go as I hope.  Sad to leave Clare for a week.  Grateful to have this amazingly loving, caring, supportive group of friends who will take such great care of Clare while I am gone.  Mournful of the 3 referrals who weren't meant to be mine.  Hopeful that they are finally with their true forever families.  Anxious about what Moscow will be like on my own, without the comfort of my mom this time around.  Scared I will get carsick (again) on the dreaded ride out to the orphanage (dramamine packed this time!).  Questioning why I can't be one of those lucky people who choose not to eat when they are stressed versus eating and gaining the 5lbs I have over the past few months.  Another adoptive mom called it "wait gain".  I thought that was fitting.  So how I am feeling - who the heck knows...  What I do know is that I love Clare with all my heart, love my family and friends and have fallen in love with this beautiful picture of a sweet angel over the past few weeks.  The rest is out of my hands and God's plan for me will be revealed soon enough.  So maybe that is it - I feel in love and faithful.  More to come from Moscow.

Friday, September 16, 2011

One more week!

The time is almost here.  This is my last weekend at home before I head back to Moscow next weekend to meet a beautiful little girl.  My flights are booked.  I leave on Saturday the 24th and return home on Saturday, Oct 1.  I decided to go Singapore Air from Houston this time.  Only $730 RT to DME and then I booked a 2nd RT to get me to Houston but all in it was less than $1000 which is MUCH cheaper than United or Delta.  So excited.  The Marriott Courtyard didn't have the adoption rate available so I am at the Marriott Grand this time around which I hear is just as nice too.  The nursery has been changed from a boy's monkey jungle theme to a beautiful girly owl theme.  As I have said in other posts, the nursery is an emotional hurdle for me and helps me believe it is all real.  When I changed it from a girl's room to a boy's room with my last referral, it really helped.  So while it is not necessarily cost effective to keep switching it with each referral, each time I need to remain hopeful that this is the one!  So - 4th time is a charm right? 
This last week will be painful to keep waiting but I have my referral picture on my computer and stare at her sweet little face only about a million times each day.  Looking forward to meeting her soon and holding her in my arms.  Praying she is my daughter and Clare's baby sister!

More to come!


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Gotcha Day #3

As I continue to wait patiently (or not so patiently) to bring home my 2nd child,  what a tremendous break in the stress to be able to celebrate Gotcha Day #3 with my Sweet Monkey Clare.  On September 2, 2008, in Uralsk, Kazakhstan, we officially became a family and Fatima Ibatova became Clare Fatima Reardon - my daughter!  She is the most amazing, funny, beautiful, smart, caring, observant, ballet-loving, mermaid-addicted little angel and I am so in love!  Being her mom is the most amazing gift and I treasure her each and every day.  Love you Clare!  Now let's get you a brother or a sister already!!

Our first picture together

Sweet Clare - the first day we met


3 years later and a total Kazakh Beauty!