>>Wednesday, March 29, 2006<<
What does Lilly have to say about that NY Times Article?
Our Bulldog Lilly doesn't have a whole lot to say about most things in life. She sleeps, drink, eats, sleeps, plays with the kids, sleeps again, makes a lot of gross noises. But, today, she had something to say about that NY Times Article that is out there circulating. See, this Article has seemed to drum up a little contraversy in some areas. Depending on the way that you read the article, one could summise that Americans are downright snooty tooty people when we travel abroad.

So, Lilly and I sat down and talked about this. Through the snorts and the occassional gaseous indiscretions (which bulldogs are notorious for), Lil let me know that she was not going to stand for being thought of as a bratty traveller. She doesn't care about luxury, she just needs a place to sleep. When she is outside, she checks out everything, smells the air, checks out all the flowers, I even think she has a smile on her face. When she is in the car and the windows are rolled down...her ears are flopping in the wind and the drool is down the side of the car. Life couldn't get any better for her.

So, if she can be like that, why can't we??? Sure, Russia has different living conditions that we do. Some may be surprised at how they live. As one woman on a board in the US that I read mentioned that she was in total culture shock when she moved from the South to the North because the North had different styles of homes, styles of living, and smiling and waving at your neighbors could be a cause for getting you slapped around and thrown in jail. (just kidding...I have lived in NY...it isn't quite like that..but, smiling does get you some crazy looks as it does in Russia).

So, where am I going in all of this rambling? Expectations. If you are planning on travelling to Russia, or around the world or anywhere for that matter and you have your mind made up that you want to keep everything the way that you want it.... Well, your trip may be disappointing.

Sure, when you land in Moscow...there are more cars there than you have probably seen in your life (except for Toyko according to my husband) and sure, it might look grey at times. Hey...there may be some smog. Yep, people might not be smiling. Uh-huh, the hotels and apartments may be smaller than what you are used to. Oh yea, if you are not used to smoke coming out of your ears from second hand smoking....that is a little different. If you are over 5'5...potentially the beds may be smaller than you. Ok...so, the snow is a little gray and yucky and times. BUT,

IF you go into it with the expectations that Lilly does with each day... and that is to check out everything, smell all the flowers, try all the different foods, try to meet different people, try to learn the language. Sleep in the cramped quarters if that is what it takes. Put your head outside the window and slobber a little with your ears flapping in the wind. (Ok...forget the slobbering..that is too gross). But, in the scheme of things....it is a small time in your life that you get to experience something amazing. Not only are you adopting a child from their country. Which we need to honor and respect no matter how many are pissed about the process..... I have met many wonderful people there and I have soaked up the culture. Heck, do I think that everything they do is right....no. But, that isn't the point. The point isn't to judge. The point is to experience.

Life is what we make of it. If we want to be make a trip miserable and complain...that is your choice. But, we are only on this planet for a finite period of time and if we are truly to experience life.....we need to experience it all....with our whole minds, our whole bodies and spirits present and in the moment and grateful to God that He gave us this opportunity to see how other people live. Then, we get to come back home and sleep in our comfy bed and we are better people for taking a piece of the world back with us in our memories. And sometimes, the people that we have met and the places we have seen could possibly have a magnificent impact on your life, if you just let it.

Lilly wanted me to say thanks for listening....she is snoring right now. But...thanks for listening...
HEY TEACHER!! What is that......
in your belly? Is that a baby?

Me: No, why?

Little girl: Because it sure does look like it!!

That was the beginning of my morning. Remember, I work part time with children and honestly I do love it. But, I have to tell some of the funny stories of the day.

Can you imagine me saying this to this innocent sweet little girl:

"No, there is no baby in my belly.... just an alien from outerspace begging for food everyday which makes me FAT!!"

"Yo...Kid....can't have babies...how 'bout that...I am not pregnant...i am just FAT! "

That wouldn't have gone over well, would it?. (totally joking here people about saying that to a child....maybe to an adult...which in fact several adults have asked me if I am pregnant. For goodness sake people, don't ask that question unless you see a Doctor at the other end of the table and a baby coming out screaming. Until then, it is best not to ask. :) I just have a tire belly as I lovingly like to refer to it. I am working on it, alright? Well...not actively....but, trying. :)

Now...fast forward an hour later when it is "Potty time". 5 of the children run to get in line for "Ms. Caroline" to take them to the potty. Since I was in the 3-5 year old room, the risk of Poo in the diapers story should be zip. So, going on potty runs for the older kids seem to me to be harmless. They go in the potty and I hold the door and and wait with the other kids, help them wash their hands...life is good.

Today.....was different. It wasn't Poo....it was the other P word..... Pee-Pee.....

Here how this scenerio goes...****all names and pictures have been changed*** (as if you didn't know that) :)

*Cutie Pattootie*: Teacher!! I know how to go to the potty all by myself now!.

Note: He was just moved up from the little kids class and he is very independent!

P.S. Note: In the younger kids class we put a sticker on the back for the little boys if they sit down or stand up when they have to go to the potty. Thank the good lord for me. Because I know nothing about that. I have two little girls. Everybody sits down in my house. Well, except for B....ok....TMI......Anyway, they don't put stickers on the kids in the 3-5 yr. old class. Just an FYI :)

Me: That is great that you can go by yourself now.....are you sure you are ok?

Cutie Pattootie: Yep, I sit down when I pottie.

Me: Alrighty then.

I scratch my head, thinking hmmm....I don't have a good feeling about this. I turn my back to give him privacy, walk out the door and I hear SWHISHWSHWSHHHSWHSHS which sounds like someone spray painting all over the door and the wall.

He comes out.....

Me: What happened in there?

Cutie Pattootie: Went to the pottie.

Lesson of the day: He doesn't sit down on the pottie, and the walls got a fresh coat of paint.

So, How was your day? Anything interesting??????
>>Monday, March 27, 2006<<
Shout outs for the week..

On a lot of the radio shows, I always hear "Do you wanna give a shout out to anyone?"

Well...I do....

I want to dedicate this to some old girl friends of mine that I love dearly and hope they know they are never out of my mind.

First of all....Christy is my best friend from college....we have been through about everything you could think of together. She was my Matron of honor, she has been there through the birth of my babies and the trials and jubilations that have gone along with that. We live about 3 hours from each other now whereas for many years, I was living all over the country. Although we don't get to see each other all that much. at least we are in the same state! But, there is not a day that goes by that I don't think of her. She is the type of friend that when everyone else has scattered...she is the one that is still standing. We will end up in a Nursing Home together still watching the Oscars together. But, most recently when I had my surgery a month and 1/2 ago....she was the last one that I called before I was wheeled in. I didn't have a lot of notice before the surgery, so there wasn't time to call people. But, I had to call her. I was in tears and scared out of my mind to go under the knife. My husband was on his way back to the hospital. I called and thank the lord she was there. In her amazing way that she always has, she was able to calm me right down and got her mother on the phone (who is a minister) and we all prayed together. Christy reached out through the phone (or so it seemed) and gave me a big hug. She is a blessing from God. My husband arrived and it was time to be wheeled away. She drove all the way down for just a few hours the next day with her children in tow and food that she had made just for me. I don't think she knows how much her friendship means to me or what that call meant or what that day meant and the million gajillion calls and visits before that. I thank God for her everyday.

I would also like to say Happy Birthday to a very special young lady who was just born last week to a very close friend of mine. Baby Alexis is such a beautiful baby!. Teri and AJ are the proud parents of this precious bundle of joy. Teri and I have known each other since we were 18 years old. Several of us from our college group started getting married and having babies. Teri was in my wedding and was a part of throwing me both of our babies showers. When Teri got married to AJ, I was to be there for her wedding. But, instead....Baby M was in ICU and I was still hooked up to every medicne known to man kind in the hospital. It broke my heart not to be by her side. She was so graceful about it. That is who she is...graceful. She watched all of the babies being born and never begrudged anyone. Finally, her day came and I know that all of the angels were singing when Alexis was born...because she is beautiful!!!...just like her Mommy.

Lisa D..now M....you know you are my girl!. You haven't stopped believing in me after all these years. Your call the other day (which I suck, because I still haven't returned) really lifted me up. You never give up on me and you are such an amazing and beautiful person. I am so lucky to know you. Thank you for everything....I haven't told you that lately.

Crazy Laurie....lord have mercy on my soul......if we still were all roommates, my ribs would crack. You make me laugh so hard. I am so proud of you for believing in your dreams and trying to live them out. You absolutely rock!!. That is the best way to sum you up....You rock sister girl!!!

Bethie...I pray that you will forgive me for not being there or being a part of your wedding. My life took over and it blinded me from the rest of the world. I am praying that life is bringing you all that love and happiness that you deserve. I hope you are having the best time of your life. I miss you and love ya girl!! Oh how I miss our California days!. Remember sitting be the Pacific Coast sipping on a Margarita? I miss our friendship.

Boobie, Nicole, and Cheri and Jen...You are my girls!. Wow...do we all go way back! So many stories to tell and so many good times. I miss you all so very much! I hate that it is once a year, or once every other year that we see each other. But, you will always be a part of my life. We all are the type of friends that will be friends for a lifetime. I love you all!!!

Regan, my dear friend.... you are an amazing friend. You are such a brilliant person and I know that your company is going to go farther than your wildest dreams. You have always inspired me to be a better person. I hope that you know how much your friendship means to me. I can't wait to come back to FL again!.

Kelly, it has been umpteen thousand years since we have talked....but, I can't wait until we get in touch again. Your children are beautiful!. I miss your friendship.

*****I write this, because sometimes it is the friends from our past that we just assume that they know that we love them. Never let them assume. I realize that I have an opportunity to publicly let everyone know that my friends from way back in the day who are my lifelong friends will never be forgotten. Just because I am meeting new friends, doesn't mean you guys are gone far from my mind. ****
Rumor has it...
Our director from Lighthouse Adoptions called last week and said that we had a potential court date for the week of April 10th. (This is the 2nd court trip...the biggie) How exciting is that!??! We are waiting on pins and needles to hear the confirmation this week. It is so amazing to me how quick this process has gone and smooth, so far at least...knock on wood.

It is funny....those that I talked before us beginning our adoption process were either really attached to their agency/coordinators and were/are very fervent and loyal towards them. It was so hard to know who to go with because so many people had such strong ties. I now understand that feeling. When you spend so much time on the phone with someone and trust them to guide you through the process, help you bring home your baby...get you to a foreign country, trust them with your money. For most of us, even with a referral, you are walking into the process blind. But, I truly believe that there is that gut feeling that tells you something whether or not things will be ok. We had that gut feeling with our Director. We now consider her a part of our family. We never met her before a few months ago and now, we talk at least a few times a week and almost email daily. I am a Type A. I need to know what is going on, even when nothing is going on. She tells me everything like that. She told us exactly where to go when you get off the plane. It was so detailed. The whole process has been that way. For someone like me, I need that. I know without a shadow of a doubt that God led us to her. It was too coincidental how it came about. And I don't believe in coincidences...I believe that God has planned that to already happen.

We feel strong about J and Helene at Nathanson Adoptions who was our Homestudy Agency. J is our SW and I pray that she will be doing our post placements. We loved her and she felt like family to us also. And, I feel like the entire group on the Russian side has been fantastic. I know that we are extremely lucky and am in NO way bragging or throwing it in anyones face. I realize that there are many heart breaking stories that have personally affected me by reading them. I have seen my own friends wait for so long even though they are adopting from a diffferent country. As painful as it is, I know that God is planning the perfect timing for their child to meet their parents.

I guess some of the reason that I am writing this is to say that there is good experiences going on in Russia right now. I want to bring a little light into what seems like a dark time for a lot of people. And, selfishly, I just wanted to share my excitement with you all about how close we are really getting to bringing our little pumpkin home. We never dreamed it would happen this fast. Sometimes I wonder, was it too fast? am I ready? And now that the call has come that we will be leaving in a couple of weeks. The answer is a resounding YES. I am ready. Ready for him to jump right in with the girls and have the same What? Are you talking to me? look. They are going to just be so excited!!

By the way, I am staying the whole 21 days, B is staying for court, then coming home for the girls and work and then coming back when our little pumpkin gets out (when the 10 day wait is over) and B is bringing our 5 1/2 (almost 6) with him out there to be with us. We thought bringing Little M was too much and she was just not ready for that. Miss S (our oldest) has told everyone that she comes in contact with from the grocery store clerk to the post office man to a stranger in the mall that she is going to Moscow Russia to pick up her baby brother. She is so proud of herself. It is fun to watch!!!.

I can still remember him in the orphanage tickling him and playing with his shoes and wondering what his tiny toes must look like. I can't wait for that day to play with those little feet and to see his laughter.

Thanks for letting me be excited for a little bit.
What? Are you talking to me?
When your children are super duper quiet while dinner is being fixed and the assumption is that they are working on crafts nice and quietly at the dining room table. Always remember, that quiet sometimes does not always equal playing nicely. And NEVER assume :)

I suppose in the 2 minutes between checking on them, Little M had enough time to take out each and every drawer to the craft box that contained a bajillion (I know that is not a word, but, is seemed like more that a trillion and that was the only word I could come up with) pieces and throw them all over the office. Big Sis watched on with laughter. I would say that it took Little M approximately 1.9 minutes with stealth of a panther on a hunt to get this all done. B came in to check on them and walked right back out to grab me and said "there are no words for this...you just have to see it" B asked the girls "Who did this?" They responded with the deer in the headlight look "What? Are you talking to me?"

Lesson of the day....keep small crafts away from small people. ;0
>>Friday, March 24, 2006<<

T..M...I... is what I like to affectionately call Too Much Information. I have decided that my 4 day "funk", "pity party", "being a brat" :) is really because there has been Too Much Information going on in the past months. Especially in the past few weeks. Not only information, but, changes. It is funny, I have been totally Ms. Cool....all put together, except for a few stress out parties here and there. But, I think now that I got home....the exhaustion and demands of it all hit me. For all of you going through adoption or just being a mom, or you don't even have to be a Mom, you can just be going through life...you'll know what I mean. But, especially us going through the adoption process. The information overload is Wowza
" You need this document notarized, apostilled, sent to this address...etc" And then all of the Lists that I had created to fly for the first trip "Don't forget this, don't forget that...here is where the girls clothes are...don't forget their vitamins"....Oh yea, Lilly and Stilts.. our cutie pattottie animals...."Don't forget to give them this and that"....

Then when you get to Russia, it is fantastic, awesome, life changing, exhausting, never walked so much in my life, scared out of your mind at times because of not sure what to expect next, and then awed by the experience and then meeting our child for the first time. Then, the plane ride, oh lord :). Then, you get home and you are so excited to see your children. But, they really don't know you have been on a roller coaster ride...so, it is time to pick right up with normal life. But, your body and mind are in "TMI" overload. All week it has been "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy....." There haven't been sweeter words and at the same time, I wished I could say...."can you just hang on a minute and let Mommy take a little nap, I am exhausted". It doesn't work that way.

We just got the call that it looks like our 2nd trip might be the week of April 10th. Holy COW!. That is awesome!. But, HOLY SHIT....excuse me if I offended anyone, but, that is the only appropriate word that I could think of ;) We are back on the roller coaster ride again.

Trust me when I say this, I am so excited to have a 3rd child. Seeing his eyes, touching his hands, smelling his hair, tickling his feet....it still brings tears to my eyes. But, it also is a change. Knowing that in a month or so, that our house will having a lot of children yelling "Mommy" is exciting and a little scary if I can be honest with you. It is not that I can't handle it. I can handle it. I just hope that I can be the best Mom that I can be. I spend too much time trying to be the best at everything and that is when I fall down. So, thank you very much for all of your responses to my last post. It gave me SOOO much to think about. Because if I don't take care of myself....I can't take care of my family and I can't do the things that I am passionate about. So, I think I will take you guys up on that Pedicure. In fact, I have a Gift Certificate that I haven't cashed in. Men just don't understand that a good manicure and pedicure or massage can pretty much cure the worlds problems. :)

Thank you so much for your great words!! I am on my way back up!. You guys are the best!. And Lisa....girl, how can I forget the apartment days...we had a blast. You are too sweet and your comments made me cry. I love you sis!. Thanks for your voice mail. I will call you soon!. By the way, don't let Lisa fool you.....I was only up and out the door because I just grabbed whatever I found in my closet, whereas she had gloriously long curly hair and looked like a fashion model and her clothes matched. When your clothes don't match and you have straight hair like me, it doesn't take a lot of time....ha ha !!! (well, I did match sometimes....but, others will debate that...ha!)
>>Tuesday, March 21, 2006<<
Is it me?

Have you ever had one of those days where you just feel a little blue? Where you feel oh, lets say 10-50 pounds overweight? and you feel like you just can't get your head on straight? Or that you are a bad wife? Mom? Friend? Sister? Well, I am having one of those days.

I had terrible insomnia last night and then, on top of that, my body clock has not adjusted and I woke up early. I looked at some pictures today and the videos from Moscow and thought "HOLY COW!!!!" I know that film adds 10 lbs, but, what about 50lbs? I was embarrassed. I had that ah ha moment where i was like "Is this what I really look like in public?". I mean, I know that when I was pregnant with Sophia, I gained 80lbs. I thought I was in decent shape before that. I was kick boxing and was active. Then, after her birth...it has been a constant battle getting rid of the weight. I used to be a little "hip" I wouldn't have considered myself a fashion model by any stretch, but, I had an idea of what was going on in the world. I would take good care of myself and I felt good. Now, I am lucky if I can get out of sweat pants. What happened, did I fall asleep for almost 6 years? Because that is how old our oldest almost is. When I go to take our oldest to school, all of the moms all look gorgeous and put together and I feel like I am lucky to have made it there on time. I am in my sweat pants and YMCA t-shirt and have been asked in the mall no less than 5 times when I was not pregnant when I was due. My own daughter says I have a big belly. I have tried all of the diets, I feel like I can't win at the weight game.

Then, (hang on to your seats...I am not done having a pity party :)..I woke up feeling like a bad wife on top of it. It was my husbands birthday yesterday and we had just gotten back from Russia. I wanted to give him the best birthday ever. I always do. Birthdays are a huge deal for me. I believe that everyone should be celebrated on their day....because that is the day that they were brought into this world and what a great day that was for all of us. But, all of our money is going towards adoption, and we spent the day looking for a car. We had no time yesterday for a cake. The girls and I took him out for lunch and dinner. He had already seen the girls gift to him that I had bought on the plane from duty free (Swiss Chocolates). I felt like I couldn't even give him the proper birthday.

Then, today, I learned that a close friend of mine had gotten married back in December. It is March. Where have I been? I didn't even know, that is how out of the loop I have been. I feel so disconnected from my friends. I have been so wrapped up in hosting, and adopting, and working, and being a mom, having surgery, recovery, and adopting (I know I already said that), and wanting to be the perfect Mom, wife....that I have forgotten all of my friends and own family.

Then, I find out that my own brother was in the ER and I didn't even know about it. I haven't even had the chance to talk to him. What kind of sister am I? I haven't been in touch with my own 2 sisters as much as I would like whom I love just as dearly...they are all my best friends.

Wow....in trying to be the perfect wife, mom, sister, friend, and daughter.....I have really managed to screw that up lately. And how in the world will I ever lose this weight and become a woman again and feel "alive" and just a little bit sexy? , just a little bit...that is all I am asking for.

Oh well....I must have forgotten to take my hormone pills today ;). But, right about now, any words of encouragement would help. Thanks for listening.
>>Monday, March 20, 2006<<
The little things you might forget to pack for your flight...

I should be trying to get some sleep, because I am upside down on my sleep. It is around 7:00 am in Moscow and my body certainly thinks it has missed out on some serious sleep. I made a promise to myself that I would at least take a shower and get out of my Russia clothes! :) Well, let me clarify...I did get out of my Russia clothes today. Just didn't have time for anything else. There is no rest here in this house!!!

SO.....while it was fresh on my brain...there are a few things that were MUST haves for me that you might no think about taking when you travel. Magellan's online travel store became my best friend. If you are flying coach, things are a little tight in the spaces. If you are flying First Class...well, I wished I were you. But, since I am not...we will stick to coach :) B and I are tall people and god forbid when someone leans their chair back...there is nothing like having someones chair in your lap for 10 hours. BACK OFF! :) (just kidding)

Anyway, I bought a couple of comfort items that looked like they might be ok for the flight. They turned out great!. Magellan's had a Comfort Lumbar Pillow. It is great for your lower back. I also bought this thing called a Foot Exercise Cushion. You might be saying "FOR WHAT?" I will get to that in a minute. The best thing that I did was buy ballerina shoes. Again, WHAT??? I will explain :) I was told by my doctor that I had to wear those ugly embolism socks...the ones that you wear when you have surgery. Well, no one noticed, because they look like white hose. I had to wear them because of my recent surgery and since it was such a long flight, there was a concern of blood clots. That is a concern for anyone really, but, especially for someone right after surgery. I didn't say that to scare you. It is not something that often happens. Just means that you need to get up and walk around. So, let me go back to that Foot Exercise Cushion. When you take your shoes off, it pushes the air back and forth and lets you exercise your legs which give you circulation. It actually felt good to my feet and my lower calfs.

Now, since most of you will be flying will not have had surgery, you can still get these socks that are a lot nicer and prettier from Magellan's The biggest reason was for me, I didn't get any swelling whatsoever in my legs. I heard so many people (women in particular) complain about their feet and legs swelling on the plane. These socks helped so much with that. The cushion was another factor in helping out with the non-swelling.

What's up with the ballet slippers? I found some online that looked like regular shoes. If you are on your 1st trip to Russia, you will want to do everything to just have 2 bags that fit as carry on. So, what I did was wear my boots to the airport, and right before I got on the plane, I put my boots in my handy-dandy shoe bags and pulled out my ballet shoes (which can easily fit in a purse or backpack) and wore them on the plane. I switched out shoes when we landed. The ballet slippers (not the ones with the pointed toes) were black so you can wear them if you were to stay with a host family, or go to the orphanage, or restaurant, etc. Because, you will see that when you go to the orphanage, you have to take off your shoes before you can go in to meet your child. Or, when you go into almost any Russian home, you have to take off your shoes. So, those shoes are nice. No one knew that they were ballet slippers. Besides, they felt awesome!!!

I bought one of those neck pillows that were foam instead of those ones that have little beads. Much more comfortable. Forget about those ear plugs, bought them...they fell out and never worked.

Other things for the plane. Since it is such a long flight and you feel all grimy. Buy some of those disposable baby washcloths at the grocery store. Huggies and Johnson and Johnson have them. I am sure there are other brand names. But, you can wash your face and throw them away. Speaking about throwing them away....buy the baby disposable toilet wipes. Huggies makes them too. Not only are they nice for the plane...but, I will get into a why you want them in Russia, especially if you go anywhere besides your hotel or a public restaurant :) It is a must have!!! Lets put it this way....the Charmin toilet seat covers were not needed on their toilets, because there was no toilet!. It was a big hole in the ground. I am not pretensious or anything like that. But, let me tell you what....to have to squat in a public restroom at Red Square into a silver bowl or hole in the ground and PAY FOR IT, lets just say that I am not used to that.

I have a lot more little things that you might forget to pack lists.....they may be random...so, forgive me. But, this is the first, because this is the travel part that helped me out a lot. Being so crammed in a small spot was not too fun. But, I did sleep, believe it or not.

I have lots more to remind you to pack :) Like FEBREZE!!! But, again...that is another blog. Just a little hint on the febreze.....everything, everywhere smells like smoke. So, if you don't want to smell like that, then buy febreze. Just put it in one of your ziploc bags and off you go.

Talk to you more about that.....Night night everyone!!
Happy Birthday to my Hubby!
I want to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my sweet husband who has been my anchor. His day of celebrating has really been running around selling our car and looking for a new one. No rest for the weary. I love him dearly and I cannot imagine life without him. Happy Birthday B!!!

We just got back last night and got our girls and squeezed them so tight!! They were excited to see us, even though it was WAY past their bed time. By the time we made it home and brought everyone's luggage upstairs. I literally passed out on the bed with the same clothes that I had flown from Russia in. Nice, huh? I woke up today not sure what day it was or what time it was...but, what I did know was that no matter what...kids bring you back to reality fast.

Our youngest woke us up this morning to "MOM!! DAD!! WAKE UP!!!" Our oldest had the sniffles and wiped them all over herself when we tried to wake her up from a deep coma to go to school. We let her stay out today as she wasn't feeling so hot. It is such a bizarre feeling to yesterday waking up in Moscow and today waking up in North Carolina. Of course we missed the girls like crazy, but, I missed my own bed and our bulldog and cat and the everyday things of life.

But, it was wierd knowing how far away we are from Baby S. We heard that our court date might be anywhere from 4-6 weeks. Which is not a long time at all. By the time we actually get settled back at home, we will be off again. I miss him and believe it or not...I miss Moscow. I miss the new friends that I had made and the old friends that are living there. But, I miss exploring and learning new things everyday. I miss seeing S and the other babies in the orphanage. I miss their smiles, I felt like if we were able to play with them and make them smile...then we gave them an extra sparkle that day. I wonder if S will even remember us when we come back?

I want to say a HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Michelle and Dan Hills who adopted their sweet angel from Ukraine. We all hosted together from URGEX and she was lucky enough to have hosted Yana through that program and although it is in no way an adoption program, Michelle and Dan were lucky enough to find out that she was available for adoption and got there in time to adopt Yana. She was legally adopted last week in Ukraine while we were in Moscow. We love you guys!!! We can't wait to see Yana back in the States!!!!!

By the way, if any of you ever want to talk about Hosting...I would love to talk to you about it. I know a lot about URGEX and hosting through Ukraine. Primarily older children. We had a fantastic experience with Alyona, 7 1/2 year old who is actually turning 8 this week.

Also...Happy Birthday to my sister Susan tomorrow!!!! She is our musician in the family. She has a voice that rocks!. She is a Music Teacher, and a Choir Director and a Mom to 2 beautiful children. Well, Alex is 18 and Jordan is now 15. They are not babies anymore. But, they are my babies!!!.

I will be blogging more about lots more topics. So....beware! :)
>>Saturday, March 18, 2006<<
We are headed home...
This will be a short post as it is 2:00 am in Moscow. We are totally exhausted, but, cannot say enough wonderful things about our time here. We just finished packing up and ate dinner with friends from B's highschool who now live here in Moscow. We really feel like we have immersed ourselves in the culture. I have to say that all of the hype about being scared and the other things that go on didn't happen for us.

We had to say goodbye to S today. It was very hard for us. But, knowing that we will be back soon gives us comfort. I am ready to go home and see our girls. I miss them so terribly. My heart is torn in half. Dying to see our sweet angels at home and then leaving the little man here who has taken to us quite well.

I have so much to write about when I get back. A lot of pointers about what to pack, etc. Things that I found really helpful.

My eyes are crosseyed now....so, I must go to sleep before I have to get on a plane. I will write everyone when I get back to the states.

By the way Jen...Yes....you can definitely call us friends!!!. P.S. to Lisa and Derek...you are in our thoughts and prayers. All of our love.....

God bless everyone!! Have a good night!
>>Thursday, March 16, 2006<<
The Winding Snowy Road

There are not many days that you will find that I am at a loss for words. But, today, I was. Driving down to the Department of Education to get our official referral, I became quite ill to my stomach. Not from anything that I had eaten. But, from nerves. I had no idea what to expect. "How many questions were they going to ask? Did they bite? What if we said the wrong things?" Oh, my head was spinning.

With palms sweating, we entered the Director's office and before I could throw up on his shoes (which I thought that I was seriously going to do), he had a big smile for us. I thought to myself "Are you sure we are in Russia?" :) He was as nice as can be and with very little fanfare, we were sent on our way with an official referral for our son along with a nod and a smile.

Somewhere between his office and the orphanage, my voice went out the window. I held the referral sheet in my hand which was completely in Russian. But, then, it became all so real. I was speechless. We had come so far and here we were minutes from meeting our son. B and I held each others hands. The other couples that were with us did the same. We were all so quiet driving there. Excitement, nerves, anxiousness, a million words could be listed here that we were all feeling.

Driving down a snowy winding road, we began to see a playground. The van was slowing down. I knew my heart could be heard by everyone. I squeezed B's hands so hard, I am still not sure he has any circulation.

We met a translator there and we all walked up to the top of the stairs and into the building. Hands shaking , we greeted the Doctors and Director and Care Givers. Each family went into a seperate room where they met their child. We were the last to be called. Could the wreck my nerves anymore?!?!?! Down the stairs we went and through a long hallway we heard some noises. My eyes started to tear up until our translator yelled out "Take off your shoes". You have to be here to understand and to laugh about it. The language sounds as if they are yelling. But, they aren't...that is how they do things. So, here I am in a "moment" and I was scared out of my tears!! ha ha!! So, off went our shoes.

Well, we weren't the only ones scared. A beautiful blonde haired, blue eyed boy saw us come through the door and cried his eyes out. There goes the images of angels coming down from the sky and playing harps. Instead, he looked at us as if we were aliens from another planet. Well, to him , we were.

I was in awe of him. He was so beautiful. Russians only call females beautiful, males...handsome. But, this was a beautiful that just can't be described. He stopped crying just as soon as we broke out food. They say that is the way to a mans heart right??? Then, we brought out the bunny our girls wanted to give him. If you press the bunny's belly, it says "Now, I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep". He liked bunny!!!

After a while, he liked "Mama". Not so much with "Papa" at first. You have to remember, he has never had exposure to a male, except for the Director of the Orphanage. But, no need to worry...he took to B before you knew it. We got on the floor with him and for the next 2 hours, he played with us, laughed with us and snuggled with us.

Then, it came time to say goodbye. One hand has Amniotic Banding Syndrome where his fingers are banded together. Trust me, he doesn't know it. Because he threw that ball like a champ!!. But, with those banded fingers he waved goodbye to us. My heart melted. All I could think about was "How does one expect us to leave him here until court?". But, we have tomorrow and Saturday until we have to worry about that. Until then, we are going to drive down that Winding Snowy Road to see our son.

Moscow Trip 1: The pictorial journey
If you need more :), you can follow our pictures here on flickr. As long as we continue to have internet access, we will update these each day as well.
>>Wednesday, March 15, 2006<<
And the race is on....
SHEW!!! We have a lot to report today. Today was our tour day. And let me tell you, I thought that I was not really here in Moscow, but, on the show The Amazing Race. I have never walked as fast as I did today since I was running track in Middle School!!.

First, we started off with our buffet here at the Hotel Arbat and it was awesome. My belly was happy, that was for sure. I didn't know what to expect of Russian food. They had everything that I liked...yogurt, eggs, bread, pancakes....the basics of life. Then, Stacy and Roy (the other couple that we are here with) went to see the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Talk about gorgeous!!.

The inside was incredible. The paintings on the walls, the richness was beyond my imagination. When you enter, if you want to get a candle, you can pay to get as many as you want and go to the various alters. There is a section that you go to pray for those that have passed away. And a section for "Your house". Meaning, pray for your family, your home...basically anything that you care about. It was very moving for me to be able to go and pray underneath the paintings of Jesus and the angels for our new baby and our children at home. And to be pray for our parents and siblings and extended family. It was also moving to pray for those that have gone before us. I wished I could put into words what it was like. I could only hope that those of you who come through Moscow can get a chance to go there.

We went to see the statue of Peter the Great. There is a lot of talk about that statue. It would take a whole other blog to go on about what the Russians think about that. So, I will save that for another day. It is really hard to tell you how MAMMOTH this statue is in this picture. Imagine the Statue of Liberty....it is bigger that that.

Then, we did some shopping. It was a little cooler today...lets say around 27 degrees and cloudy. My thin leather coat didn't work out too well. Hey...North Carolina does not see a lot of snow, ok? :) When we left, it was 80 degrees. We forgot to have winter. I bought great snow boots...or so I thought. The snow was melting here, but, a lot of ice was on the ground. We bought some nice gifts and of course I had to be the one that was holding them. I am known as "Miss Grace" you know. I proceeded to fall flat on my face on Arbat Street. We were walking so fast and SHAZAM...there I went and so did everything else I bought. I didn't care that my knee was busted up...i just cared about what I bought our kids. I am sure my parents and friends are laughing.....because they know me as "Miss Grace" , I could fall down if you tied me to a pole. :)

Oh, so you were wondering why I was walking so fast...because everyone here has on Michael Jordan AIR shoes or something!. I dunno!!!! Seriously though....Women in heels can go up to 50 mph on foot. I cannot figure out how they can move so fast. We finally took a break 30 minutes before our actual tour of the Kremlin started. Thinking that we were getting a tour that we were going to be driven around. Boy, was I kidding myself!!

30 minutes later, we met a great woman by the name of Larissa. WOW.... If you think New Yorkers can walk fast...you have not met Lorissa yet. She was our tour guide. We had to be at the Kremlin by 3:30 so that we can see it before it closed at 4:30. It was such a blur to me, I truly think we must have hydroplaned to the Metro Station which everyone looked at us (besides Larissa) like aliens and got off at the Kremlin. No one looks at you here, and if they do, you get the "stare down". Oh don't get me wrong, everyone we have met has been super nice. But, no one smiles, and if you are American...well, lets just say we aren't winning the popularity contest :) It's all good....because I am just honored to be here to bring our son home. I want to learn as much history as I can to tell our son about it.

SO, when we get to the Kremlin we were not allowed to cross the street to where you usually see these buildings during touring hours (the men in black are the KGB)
If you look at the picture where it is primarily white columns, that is President Putin's office. In fact, we saw a motorcade coming in and our tour guide thought it was President Putin, but, said probably not that it must have been another Dignitary and then many more cars followed with black flags. She said it must have something to do with the death of the Serbian Leader Milosevic.

Don't ask me...I am just a tourist.

We were still on Kremlin grounds and saw some AMAZING sites... The Cathedral Square, some amazing churches that I could write a novel on....I think that I learned more about history today than I did my whole time in highschool and college put together. We went through I don't know how many centuries in one day!

Then, we were off to the Armory where the famous Faberge eggs are kept and all of the original clothing, jewelry, crowns, Imperial arms, did I mention jewelry??? :) Diamonds and pearls, oh my!!!!
Centuries upon certuries old. We saw the carriages that various Queens were pulled in. Most were made out of Gold. That was a spectacular site!

Then, it was back out to the races... THE METRO... and if this picture looks blurry to you...imagine what we felt like going 50 mph walking/running in it. No one does leisurely walking here. Seriously.

Then, it was off to My My's (Moo Moo's) which was a great restaurant. I found the english version and I pointed out what I wanted. Thank goodness!! By this time, it was 8:00 at night. I have not had this much exercise in a while.

What was the biggest thing I learned today? Well, besides learning about hundreds of years in one day, and learning that no one really cares if you fall down because they are moving too fast to notice, and learning that everything is SOOO expensive in Moscow, and learning that President Putin doesn't really live on the premises at the Kremlin and that he loves to snow ski, and that several people who do speak English asked if I was German, and how much one person can spend a whole day in absolute awe of Gods wonders.....I could keep going...but, today I learned that...we all have misconceptions of each other. I asked Lorissa why no one smiles here. She said that most people are shy and that the Russian culture has spent so many years in repression that they don't know any other way. She said that when they see others smiling and carrying on, she says they think they "are crazy and have lost their mind" (then, now I know why I was getting the "stare down"), she said that is not their way. She said that "we are not as bad as people think". I said "and neither are we". We smiled at each other because I think both countries have a total false impression of the other. A lot of it has to do what they see of us on TV or a small/few amount of people and their actions and vice-verca. But, so far....we have had a great experience. So, now we know that they may be giving us Americans the "look", but, maybe it is because they don't really know us and we are getting to know them. Whether people want to believe this or not...when you adopt from a certain country...in our case...Russia.. that culture is now a part of you. Our son has Russian blood in him. So, we are going to embrace that blood and nurture it. Not everyone agrees with that. That is the beauty of having our own opinions. We hope that we are giving our country a good name while we are here.

Anywhoo...I know you all have fallen asleep during this blog because of its length. Tomorrow is the BIG day that we will meet our son. It is 10:30 here in Russia and it is time for us to try and go to bed. But, it is like Christmas Eve for us...I don't think we will get any sleep. We can't wait to tell you about tomorrow. Good night to all!!!
>>Tuesday, March 14, 2006<<
Live from Moscow!!!
We are writing from balmy weathered Moscow. It is currently 30 degrees. Snow is on the ground...but, it is melting. Slushy. Can I say it is absolutely fabulous here?!?! We are too exhausted to notice what is really going on right this minute. The time change has really messed us up. Here it is already Tuesday night for us.

The flight over was long, but, uneventful. I will write more later on all the do's and don'ts so far on this trip and we just got here! :)

Vladimir (our driver, translator, all around "go to" guy) picked us up and we loved him!!. He was great. He told us so much about the history of Moscow just by the architecture. We hope we get to stay with his family the next go around. Cool guy!!

I thought that I brought some nice clothes. NOT... At least not compared to everyone here. Moscow is high fashion or at least that is what we have seen. We are staying right off of Old Arbat Street. Fur, heels, fashion baby!. Hey Regan....we saw several dogs styling and profiling.

We met up with another couple that is adopting as well. They just came in. We are going to do a tour tomorrow. Found out that we don't have to do any paperwork really tomorrow. We get to go to the Dept. of Education on Thursday and see our baby after that!!! YEA!!. I cannot believe that we are in the same town as him and we have to wait another day...... But, we are closer!!!

Well, we finished dining at a classy restaurant... yep...you guessed it....McDonald's. Tasted the same, but, harder to order.

We are going to bed now, because we have been up for almost 24 hours straight. We are broke down tired!!

No worries, I will be blogging more now that I know we have internet access. WOO HOO!!!
>>Monday, March 13, 2006<<
On a Jet Plane
I haven't posted in a few days because things have been wild and crazy at our house getting ready for our trip tomorrow.

We are headed for Russia my friends!!. We are on a jet plane tomorrow. So, my next posts should hopefully be from Moscow!!!!. I hear that there are plenty of internet cafes. So, I will tell you how things are going and what it is like. We have a day to where we can do some site seeing.

I have to go for now because I can't make anything fit into my suitcase and we are trying to just take carry-ons instead of check-in's.

Please pray for us as we travel and we will do the same for all our family, friends and blogger friends.

Talk to you in Russia!!!!
>>Thursday, March 09, 2006<<
Is that Poo on your hands?
So yesterday on my post, I told you that I went back to work where I take care of children. Yesterday, I was with the 3-5 year olds playing with green playdough and feeling blissfull and childlike. Today, well......lets just say today was different.

Today, I was with the 18 month olds-3 year olds. They are also my favorite bunch of kids. They do love giving kisses. Although they are well known for massive amount of snotty noses with those kisses, but, who cares? They are too adorable. But, something happened today. I need to check the planet alignments, moon alignments...something. Because, all of the children were possessed with something. Oh, they were undoubtedly charming as always. But, although I cannot confirm this...I fully believe their moms gave them an injection of pure sugar!!.

I was in "shock and awe". Some ran into walls, while others were on tops of tables, some pushed the other kids, while others were trying to hug the next kids brains out. All the while, all of us Nursery Workers were trying to maintain chaos. This truly is not our typical day. Believe it or not. THEN, the unthinkable happens. It hasn't even happened to me yet as a mother. I hear this noise from a little child which was unaubible...something like a "ughhh or waaahhh or aahhhhh" Not sure. I turned my head around and this little boy has both of his hands in the air and they are brown. He is not a brown skinned child. He is white skinned. So, take a wild guess what the brown was?... For those that know me, you all know that I can gag at almost anything. Why I didn't today was pure miracle. Read on please if you have a strong stomach.. :)

Just so that you know...where we work...Poo-Poo (I am not going to call it what it really is here...could be sensitive people reading ;) is like an acid spill in a plant. It cannot get on anything or anywhere or the place shuts down. Period...end of story. So, for some reason...I thought that I was one of the Charlies Angels or something and I grabbed the child before he started to smear it on his face (OH YES, you read that correctly) and within an inch of him doing that, I managed to grab both of his arms to where they weren't touching anything and I had him lifted up in the air and out of that room so fast that I am sure that I could have competed in the olympics. I had to kick the door to the bathroom open with one leg. The other workers were behind me with plastic gloves, wipes, pretty much a suit to prepare me for what I had to do.

One would have thought that I was a Doctor at a World Class Hospital. With gloves and my "get up" on...I proceeded to clean up that little fellows hands while everyone else was leaving and gagging. I was alone talking to a 20 month old telling him that we were going to be ok...that all was fine. I felt like Rain Man from the movie...I was rocking back and forth and repeating to myself "It's all good, It's all good". He had the best manicure of his life today. Next came the unthinkable. Yep....the poo was up to his back. For some reason...I was in "Charlie's Angels" mode. All I could think of was "Don't let the poo touch anything, don't let it get on his clothes". Tell me something, how did it manage not to get on ANY piece of his clothing??????

After 20 minutes of working on him....I went back out and not a soul was to be found. They were already outside on the playground. This little handsome fella and I walked outside and he started to skip and laugh. I watched him and thought about what he must have been thinking in his head..... "Na Na Na na na...I put my hands in my poo today...she had to clean it up... la la la la la...I had to ruin her child like blissfull moment from yesterday".

Reality hit and that gag reflex kicked in.

What happened to that peaceful, childlike feeling from yesterday?
>>Wednesday, March 08, 2006<<
Reflections (a long post)
I suppose that I am having a reflectful day. Maybe because it was for the fact that I was back at work at the YMCA after a month of being off because of my surgery. I work with children from ages 0-5. I rotate in different rooms. Today was ages 3-5.

There was something so magical about today. The kids were so excited to see me and something just came alive in me when I was around them. I became a kid again. I wasn't worried about "Do we have this document ready?, do we have this item packed?, Oh yea...where is the money coming from again?" Time stood still with the kids. At least 10 kids swarmed me as I pretended that we were having "Caroline's Cooking Class". I put on my best English accent and acted out a pretend cooking class with green playdough. Finally, all of the kids were sitting at the table extremely engaged in making "pies" and I asked them if they could make their most favorite candy or gum in the whole world what would it be?. I got many great answers "A BOTTLE ROCKET HOT PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CAKE!!" was what this one little boy told me. I told him to start making it. So, 15 little 3-5 year olds were just as busy as could be making Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory Candy. I had the absolute best time. They were hugging on me, and I was getting into the pretend games so much and the fake accent that I lost myself. I had to come back to reality!!!

But, it made me reflect how we let the world just bog us down with so much JUNK. Today, for a brief while....I got to be one of those children. I had no worries, I had no frown lines :) I was laughing until my ribs hurt. I have bruises from so many hugs. My heart is full. I want to stop and do that more. Have childlike moments. I spend so much of my time just going and going and doing and doing and not stopping and just being in the moment.

My 5 year old daughter teaches me something all of the time. She is what I call an "old soul". It is quite strange to say. But, she has a connection with our trampoline and God that is like nothing you have ever seen. When she jumps on our trampoline, she starts talking about God as if He was standing right there. She said the other day "You know Mom....you are never alone". She was looking up at the sky while she was jumping on the trampoline and at that moment rays of sunshine were coming through the clouds. She finished saying "Because God is always with you". She kept on jumping and it was as if she and God were having a moment. But, she left me standing in complete silence with tears in my eyes.

After my father in law died, I took it harder than I ever thought that I would. Then, not so long after that, my own father got cancer that was the kind that spreads quickly and is deadly. Months before my father in law had died, I was horribly sick while I was pregnant with eclampsia and our baby could have died. She was in NICU. My father in law was able to meet her. Then, I was "let go" from my six figure job. (I am not bragging, I am just telling you so you can see where I am at now). I don't think that God could have broken me anymore than He did than during that year. But, I never questioned my faith. He brought me down to my knees. I didn't understand why. He has brought me down to my knees before. But, not so many things so harsh right behind the other.

I am happy to report that my Dad is in remission with his cancer. He has to be checked every 6 months. He is an amputee, but, he keeps on trucking. He has a great sense of humor. I suppose that is where I get it from. We tease each other all of the time. I always tell him when I am tired of walking to move out of his chair and let me have it and then he tries and runs me over with his motor wheelchair. You would have to see it to laugh about it. You just have to laugh sometimes in order not to cry. Because sometimes, life hits you too hard.

We are selling our almost brand new Toyota Sienna that is fully loaded and has everything you could ever want. GPS, rear view camera. The works. We are selling it. Yep. It hurts. But, when I was telling you earlier about being broken. I think I understand a little bit more now why I had to be broken. I don't know why my dad had to get cancer or about my daughter or the death of my father in law. But, the brokenness put a lot into perspective for me. That material things don't mean as much.

We bought that car all "pimped" out if you will when I was let go and sold some stock. We were crazed lunatics with too much money and had to go and run out and buy the most expensive car (ok van...fine...but, it is a cool van!!) I know, we weren't thinking. We thought we NEEDED it. But, now, we realize in order to bring our son home...we need to make changes in our life. Instead of buying whatever I want...we do envelopes....check out Dave Ramsey's site for more on that!!! So, I don't shop at the finest stores anymore....I was at Goodwill picking up sweaters for our trip to Russia. Hey...they were 4.00!!!! It is 70 degrees here now, why spend tons of money??? I have lost all of the friends that I had in the corporate world. I don't travel to fancy places like I did with my old company. But, I am not the same person anymore. I was broken and God has put the pieces back together in a different order. Do I miss some things....sure. But, I like the pieces God has put back together now.

Because in place of what was lost, my new life consists of a job where I get to be a kid again. I love children and I love working at the YMCA. I have made new friends, new friends at the Y and amazing friends that are the mothers of my daughters schoolmates. I am not obsessed anymore about "when am I going to get promoted?" "How much more can I make?" I always worried about being the Uber Mom. The one that made the most money, was the best mom, the best wife. I get to see my Mom and Dad more (they live nearby) But, I was making myself sick and my priorities were so out of whack. It has taken me 2 years to climb my way out of that hole. But, as strange as it sounds...I am grateful for being taken to my knees. Because, I feel like a cocoon that is about to become a butterfly.

I want to post a little bit of what my Dad sent me about what Rick Warren said...He is the man who wrote The Purpose Driven Life. He sums up what I have been rambling on in this post. The things that I have been learning through these hard couple of years. That the good times and the dark times do coincide. But, it is how you look at it that matters.

I used to think that life was hills and valleys - you go through a
dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don't
believe that anymore.

Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind
of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something
good and something bad in your life.

No matter how good things are in your life, there is always
something bad that needs to be worked on.

And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always
something good you can thank God for.

You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems.

If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness,
"which is my problem, my issues, my pain."

But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus
off yourself and onto God and others.

We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity? Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism? Or am I going to be driven by God's purposes (for my life)?

When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don't get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better ... God didn't put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He's more interested in what I am than what I do. That's why we're called human beings, not human doings.

Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.
Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.
Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.
Painful moments, TRUST GOD.
Every moment, THANK GOD.

Is Oprah on in Russia?
As we are getting closer to travelling, I truly believe in order for me not to worry about the crucial items, I am worrying about the semi-crucial items. For me, it is Oprah. We all have our vices...ok? Some of us it is the show All my Children, or Days of our livesothers it is Sports Center. For me, it is OPRAH!!. I TiVo her every single solitary day.

Oh, but, it goes way beyond just watching her like some sort of obsession or soap opera. I truly feel like I know her somehow. She has been on the air for 20 years. I am 36 and I have been watching her since the day she came on. So, you do the math.

I have been through some really horrible things in my life and I know that God has brought me through it. And most if not everyone will laugh when I say this. But, I believe that during the times that I really needed to be helped...Oprah would have a topic on her show that showed me that I wasn't alone in this area. It helped me pick up the pieces and realize that there were other people out there like me who had been through tough times in their life. So, she goes beyond the "craze" that is going on now. She has become my mentor. It is quite funny in our household. Our 2 1/2 year old will say "Momma..Oprah on" and I will turn around and it will be a commercial with her in it. It cracks me up. Our oldest can tell you in a heart beat who my favorite person is (besides my family of course)....she will tell a person in the grocery store line when she sees Oprah's magazine. She will point to it and say "This is my Mommy's favorite person". Then our 2 1/2 chimes in and says "Yea, that's Oprah". I know, it sounds silly. But, not to me.

So...what am I going to do on our down time without Oprah? My husband once again has saved the day. He has figured out a way to download all of my shows from this week on a DVD from our Tivo so that I can have them with me. Talk about devotion. I just love that man.

One more quick thing (well, it is a little long) about my husband and Oprah. He may not understand the whole connection between Oprah and I. But, he knows its real. Because last year, when Oprah was doing "Oprah's Wildest Dreams"...I got up enough nerve to submit a tape to her about helping me be introduced to a producer to pitch my script that I am STILL writing. Well, I wanted the tape professionally done by a friend of ours. Christmas had just passed and we had gotten some Christmas money from family. I was going to use all of my money towards the making of the video (I really wanted to get on to meet Oprah). But, it ended up costing a little more than I thought. So, I didn't make a big deal about it. I just told my husband that I decided not to go through with the tape. I didn't give him really any big reason. I just said I thought it was silly to spend a lot of money on something that I thought would never ever happen. That was the end of that....so I thought.

That night, he had put his Christmas money on my pillow and wrote a note saying "Dreams are never silly...do the tape". That is why I love him so much. It sounded crazy to the rest of the world, but, not to him. So, I made my tape and gave my speel as to why I wanted my dream to come true. Of course, it has been a year and I never heard from them. Not that I expected to.

But, what was so special about it was...my husband did something that was so selfless that it touched me to the core. Because the video ended up being about his father. My screenplay is about his fathers life. When my husband was 7 years old, my father in law was one of the first FBI agents in the country to ever go undercover against the mafia who in the 70's was running the Porn Industry. Him and his partner were undercover about the same time as Donny Brasco (Joe Pistone). My husband and his sister who was about 4 or 5 at the time had no idea what their dad did for a living. They were told he resigned from the FBI and was now a jeans distributor. He had a dual persona. He went undercover as a pornography distributer to help infiltrate some of the child pornography world that the mafia was controlling and many other things they were involved in. But, then at night, he came home to be a father and a husband. Him and his partner were able to bring down one of the largest child pornography distibutors of that time. The whole undercover operation concluded...my father in law went on to do many other amazing things in the FBI. The tragedy of it was that he wanted to tell his own story when he retired. He was in his early to mid 50's when he retired. He got cancer. It took him rather quickly and he died 2 years ago at 56. It has torn my husband apart. I loved my father in law dearly as did our children. He never met my sweet little nephew (Blake's sisters son). This was an event that rocked our world.

I have been a writer by nature my entire life. I feel like it is my calling. Obviously acting didn't work out, huh? ;) But, I feel like I was meant to carry on the torch to tell his story. I have all of his FBI files...transcripts, everything.

So, it was more than just a video to Oprah begging to get on her show. It was a tribute to a great man who risked his life to do great things and I wanted to help his and my dream come true. Of course, I wanted to meet Oprah who has been my hero as well. And she is doing what he and his partner did back so long ago and part of it was to take down these child pornographer's. So, my admiration goes for Oprah goes far beyond just TV. She has helped given me a hand up. I may have not gotten chosen to be on her show, that is ok. I believe my dream will come true one day and I will finish my father in laws story. She will never know how much she has personally helped me. See, one person can make a difference.
>>Tuesday, March 07, 2006<<
Back down to earth
Ok, so I had my Oscar "wishful thinking" night and I am back to reality hit with a houseful of laundry, a few more papers to get signed before next weeks trip, Oh yea...I go back to work this week. I have been off of work due to my surgery. I am sure the kids at the YMCA have already forgotten my name. I hope not, because I love them dearly.

I think I am becoming a chronic insomniac. I used to blame my husband for keeping me up all hours. He is a night owl. Now, it is me. It was 2:00am and my eyes were were wide open. I felt like my mind was the ticker that goes across the screen on TV rattling off the million things that need to be done before Monday's flight to Russia "Don't forget to pack this, don't forget to do this and do that, blah, blah, blah. blah" My mind won't shut up. I am actually getting ticked at it!

Our director from Lighthouse Adoptions called last night to give us a run down of what was going to happen in Russia next week. Isn't she awesome? She is in contact with us every week and sometimes every other day just to check in even when there was no news. God knew that I needed her in my life. This is such a huge deal in our lives and to have someone guide us the whole way and tell us what is happening every step gives me so much peace. She even told us the directions of how to get out of the hotel and where to go to the restaurants. We know exactly what is going to happen each day. So, I feel so confident in going next week. I don't feel like we are walking in blind. I am getting a little (I said just a little) :) better about the thought of flying. But, there is no help in getting me better about leaving our babies. I know, the are 2 and 5 and my incredible parents are here in the house with them. Our bulldog is at the door at the first sight of problems. However, I think the cat can hurt someone worse than Lilly can :)

We are just so excited now. It is the small stuff that needs to get done. We will be landing in Moscow this time next week. It completely blows my mind!. In exactly one week and 2 days, we will be meeting our future son. Oh my!. There are no words for that!

By the way, I have to say some congratulations here: First and foremost...Congratulations Michelle and Dan for making it to Ukraine and seeing your sweet angel Yana and from what we heard..Yana was so surprised to see you!. I hope that your court date is waived!.
And another congratulations to all of my new blogger friends for getting their agency re-accredidations!!. WOOOOO HOOOOOOO!!!. Go Jen !! Yea Lisa !!, and even though I haven't officially "met" Rhonda and Margaret, congratulations to them too!!. That is so exciting. Because, I can only pray that now they can get their referrals and get moving quickly to their children. Our prayers are with you guys!!
>>Sunday, March 05, 2006<<
Tonight is a big night for me
Ever since I was a little girl, I have never missed the Oscar's. I think I wrote in one of my posts that at age six I had written my very own Academy Award Speech. I snuck some of my mom's makeup and put on my "Sunday's best" and in front of my very large audience gave my award winning speech. Of course, the audience was made of plastic and fur, all of my doll baby friends and teddy bears, but, they loved it!! :) My mom wouldn't let me stay up too late...but, now, I can watch the pre-pre-show and then the pre-show and then the OSCARS and then the after shows!!!.

My best friend Christy and I since college call each other every Oscar night during the middle of commercials and gab about what we just saw. "Girl, did you just hear what he said?" or " did you see what she had on? was that an ostrich outfit?" Of course, I can't begin to explain how much these nights mean to me. To you guys, you are thinking "Ok....she needs to come back down to this planet". Well, not on this night. I want to be on another planet on Oscar night. I might be watching it from my couch in sweatpants and eating popcorn. I've had this dream since a tiny tike and one night out of the year, I get to go back in time to that magical place when I was 6 years old when I really believed that it could happen.
Money, Money, Money.....Money...
If you have ever watched Donald Trumps show "The Apprentice" that is the song that they sing at the very beginning "Money, money, money...money....". I want to spew a minute about that topic.

WHY is adoption so expensive? Somebody please answer me? Lighthouse Adoptions is great. It is not them at all. But, if you look at the whole side of things, there is all of the paperwork, the Russian side of things, the travel, every little tiny iny thing. When we did the figures...we were shocked! We cannot figure out how come this is costing us so much money. I have heard from parent after parent how much money it is costing them. Everyone is trying to figure out ways of raising money.

Parents are having to go into severe debt, getting home equity loans, personal loans, selling their cars, etc. If it was substantially less only 3-5 years ago, then why in the world has it all of a sudden increased so much? Children cannot have a price tag put on their head, I know that. We would do whatever we could within means to get our son home. We truly believe that he is meant for us. But, at the same time, we are in the boat with so many where most of us have no idea where the money is coming from. And you have wonder if other countries (including our own country, not just Russia, but, others as well) think that we are ALL just so wealthy that we can afford anything. I know that the President has given us the Tax Credit. But, when adopting becomes as expensive as buying a small house out in the country...something doesn't seem right with that. Call me nutty, but, that's wrong.
But, I know this was our decision to adopt (as we have been told by family members and friends) and in turn it will cause us to become financially strapped. We ask for your prayers as we continue to move forward. Somehow, even though we don't know how it will all work out or where it will come from... We just have a lot of Faith and we just KNOW that there is this little boy waiting for us and we are this family waiting on him.

I figure if we have to drive a jalopy and eat a few beany weanies for a while...then, so be it. Material things don't last long, family last forever.

The Lord says, "I will make you wise and show you where to go. I will guide you and watch over you." Psalms 32:8
>>Friday, March 03, 2006<<
Alyona...you are not forgotten

As we are getting ourselves ready to travel, I can't help but think about Alyona. If you read our earlier posts, you will see that Alyona was the little girl that we hosted for Christmas. She is in an orphanage in Ukraine. It is hard to believe that we will only be a few hours from her. Her birthday is this month and we want to send her something to let her know that she has not been forgotten. We received something in the mail yesterday from World Vision to send a card to Philisia in Kenya for Easter. I wonder what her life is like and how she is doing?

I got word a few weeks ago that she did not get adopted. We heard that there was a chance that the family that was adopting her baby brother, might adopt her and her older brother at the same time. But, they didn't. Rumor is they will come back in 6 months. I don't know if they really will. It seems like they would have adopted them all at the same time. My heart aches for her. She is such a sweet girl. It just didn't work out for our family, and in the States, everyone thinks there aren't any healthy older girls in Ukraine. Not true. Alyona is a perfect example. I just know that her Mommy and Daddy are out there. Would you pray for her?

So, for those of you who are wondering if I am still in freak out mode...no, I am calm now. It could be because I am so exhausted I don't know if I am coming or going.

Thank goodness for B, our invitations from Russia came in and B got all of our information to send our Visa's out. He had it all together and in a Fed Ex package before I could blink an eye. I feel like the whole world is passing me by and I am in slow motion.

I am also feeling very humbled too as I go through this process. I have come across some very cool blogs which has led me to some very cool people. Jen and her husband have been waiting for a long time for their agency to get re-accredited to even get a referral for their daughter. Lisa and Derek have been waiting for so long as well. Both of which have fabulous blogs. Check out Life of Elle You rock!!

There are a lot of other people that I have met that are in the same boat, which I am going to get help with putting their links up on our blog. They have some great stories to tell. Which leads me to my point about being humbled. Here we are on this fast track that is leading us to our son, yet, I don't know why it is happening to us and not to them. I feel guilty in a way.

The other guilt that I am carrying is the fact that I have been able to have children before and now I am adopting and it is going fairly smoothly (not to jinx anything). I feel like I shouldn't be shouting from the mountain tops. My sister case in point. Why did she go through so much trouble and then have a hard time adopting?. If she were here she would say it was because she was led to her son (my absolutely adorable, handsome, smart, charming...need I go on??? Nephew). So, I know there is a reason for everything. I can't imagine life without my nephew in our family. When I look at him, I know that God has a divine plan.

Then there are our friends Michelle and Dan who have been waiting for almost a year. Their heartache has been excrutiating. But, now they are in Ukraine and if I am not mistaken...they are seeing their daughter to be today. I felt so bad telling her we were flying the same time as her and she had been waiting a year. I know it was different countries, but, still.

I don't know why things happen the way that they do. But, I do believe that there are no mistakes in life. Maybe we are supposed to go at this time to get our son out of the orphanage to get him the medical care that he needs. He needs surgery for his hand and other medical care. Maybe that is why we are on the fast track. I don't know the answers. But, I do know that I am excited and sad for the others at the same time. But, I do know that I have now added new people in my prayers that God will lead you to your child soon.
>>Wednesday, March 01, 2006<<
Pinch me please

Ok not really. You don't have to pinch that hard, because I do bruise easily and also there is no need because reality has slowly but surely set in.

The reality of it all is enormous. I mean beyond the obvious. The fact that we are on our way to having a son is HUGE in and of itself. Seriously, we are going to be holding him in our arms in 14 days. I know it will be hard leaving him. But, just knowing that we will be coming back for him and bringing him home for good makes me so excited!!

I would be remiss in saying that there weren't some other things that have been weighing on our minds. The fact of the matter that adoption is expensive!!!. I have been outside for the last several hours waiting for money to fall from the sky. But, it started to get dark and the kids were getting hungry. So, I gave up and decided to come inside.

I hear people say all the time, you should never put a value on a child. You are exactly right. I wouldn't, am not, never will. However, when all of the expenses are down on paper, you do start coughing up your own lungs. Thank goodness for at least that adoption tax credit. I suppose we will just mortgage the farm (oh yea, we don't have one...but we can mortgage something these days, I am sure). Our friends from our Dave Ramsey Financial Peace class would not be happy with that line of thinking :) (sorry gang...we gotta bring our son home)

Then there is that whole flying thing. What happened to me when I had children? Hello? I have flown all over the country and to Europe and never had a problem. I would fall asleep before the plane ever took off. Now, after having two children...the second that the jet engine is on, I am that annoying passenger to your left (or right) that is constantly asking "What was that noise?, Why is the plane moving like that?" And God forbid when 9/11 happened. Since the birth of my children and 9/11..there is not enough medication, meditation, whatever "tion" in this world to calm me down. I am grasping the seat and losing my blood circulation.

Not only that, but, I have a photographic memory like you wouldn't believe. I will have memorized everyone on the plane in a nanosecond. If you ask me where is the lady in the blue suit, I can quickly tell you " Are you talking about the lady in 9A with the pin striped suit with her Jimmy Choo shoes, or 26B with the darker Navy suit with a man sitting next to her that has on a white shirt and a..." you get my drift. The deal with me is, I don't want anyone to know I am about to have a coronary arrest. So, I give that fake smile, which I am sure comes across looking like I am constipated. Nice image, I know.

SOOOOOO, needless to say, our trip to Russia, our first trip overseas since having children will be rather interesting. The last time was before I had Sophia and I was going to Germany and crossing over the ocean, I would always say "that is so awesome!!!" This time, I have already bought a blindfold and earplugs and I am holding my Bible the whole way. Say a prayer for us, will you? Actually, say an extra one for Blake..he is the one I am sitting next to.

Freak out!!!
Do you remember that old disco song..."Freak out! Freak le chic.." (there seems to be a lot of silence on your end) Ok fine. So, you have never heard of it. That is what is happening right now, I am freaking out. It is a good freak out, I suppose. Wanna know why? Do you, huh? Do you, huh? (ok..I will shut up already) We got confirmation..WE GOT OUR FIRST COURT DATE!!! WOOO HOOOOOO. 2 weeks from tomorrow. (March 16th) However, two weeks from today as I write, we will be on Russian soil.

Now, lets talk about this for a minute. I am 3 weeks post-op, caught the strep infection, have a bladder infection, jacked up on the strongest dose of antibiotics known to man. I look like I am carrying a bowling ball down around my waist. NO ONE told me that the swelling would be still here. My mind thinks that I can be on the show THE AMAZING RACE, but, my body wants to check in down here at the closest Nursing Home. So, I have less than 2 weeks to talk my body into working with my mind so that the two can converge. In the meantime...I look like this....

I need to sit down on do some meditation for a minute or else I will literally look like that cat. (is that what that is?)

But, we are so excited we can't stand it. It is such a double edged sword for us though. We have friends like John and Angie who are trying to adopt their children in Ukraine and with all of the closings and re-openings with new conditions, it is taking forever. Then, I hear of sooooo many stories of how long it is taking to adopt in Russia. So, we feel bad in that sense. We will keep praying for everyone.