Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Day 19

Thank you all for the prayers and suggestions regarding the migraines. They were bad before we left, so this is nothing new to me. I do think that I am probably dehydrated in this dry COLD air, so I plan on upping the water intake to see if that helps. We also got up this morning and actually ate breakfast instead of heading out the door with coffee/tea in hand. I think it helped  :)

The other day, we were walking home and Nathan asked me, "Isn't is the strangest feeling when your nose hairs freeze?".
 I had no idea what he was talking about.
Well, I do now. It is SO, SO (dangerously) cold, even wearing five layers of clothes.. When we got home tonight, I literally had tears frozen on my cheeks. (I wasn't crying, my eyes were burning from the wind.)

There have been several deaths here with the temps being so low. It is expected to be around -30* C tomorrow. They are closing schools and advising everyone to stay in, if possible. Please be in prayer for those that don't have that option.

In warmer news:
We had another great day with our little love muffin!

Isn't she just scrumptious?!
{turn your head to the left!}

Annie was a little unsure about her daddy's beard today. Especially after he kissed all over her- her little face broke out!

She fell asleep like a little koala bear today, with both arms and legs wrapped around me- so sweet!

We had our first experience on the metro tonight! It was during rush hour so it kind of felt like a cattle stampede. Coming home was much better!

We met Carrie and Lee for dinner at a Ukrainian buffet.

It was really good, and really cheap... or it would have been. I didn't realize when you pointed at something, they fix you an entire plate of it. Then they weigh it, to make sure they gave you enough. If you point at two somethings, they give you two entire plates. Four plates later, I had more food than I could eat in a week.

It was really good though! We will probably try to go back before Nathan gets out of here, but HOPEFULLY that only gives us a few more days :) Still praying!!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Day 18

It's a "Breathe in Jesus, Breathe out Satan" kind of day.
Not adoption-related happenings, just... you know, life.

But I tell you what...  the second this little girl comes in the room, everything else just melts away for a little while.

AG was very chatty today!  Nathan is pretty sure she's gonna be fiesty one. I don't know if we can fit much more personality in our house, but we sure will try!

Today, she laughed harder than I've ever heard her laugh. At everything.

Nathan was taking the only pics my camera allowed today (REALLY starting to irritate me. I have got to figure out what's wrong...) and I said, "I wish (they) could hear her laugh".
I don't know why it didn't occur to us sooner that you CAN.

We are planning to try to record her first thing tomorrow before she gets tired ;)

We (think) we are close to having a court date, we are just waiting on confirmation.

In addition to praying about the court date, can we ask that you pray for relief for me? I don't know why I'm still having migraines every.single.day. I'm eating regularly, getting enough sleep, I don't feel overly stressed? I have a long way to go though and it will be much more tolerable if I'm not painfully ill.

It should be noted, that when you are sick with a migraine, Ukrainian driving is about the worst thing that could happen to you. It took every bit of energy I had to not vomit in the back of Edward's lovely car.

Edward, by the way, is a bit of a rebel. He looks SO much like someone we know at home (Jonathan Bowers), except much taller/bigger. He keeps some scruff= rebel. He wears tennis shoes= rebel. He wears sweatpants in public= rebel. And he wears sunglasses= rebel. He only plays American music in the car, mostly rad 90s music: Ace of Base, Madonna, Ricky Martin. I haven't decided if that's his preference or if he does that for our benefit, but he did crank up the Britney at one point today (Layla and Brynn, that made me miss you SO much! I can't wait to get home and play Just Dance with you!).

Also, seeing how massive she looks in this picture:

reminded me to tell you that we took some of the clothes we brought to try on her today, to see what size she would wear. We got her into the 9 month outfit, and it's fine to get her home, but she clearly needs at least a 12 month.  That means we have two outfits here that fit and will have to get a couple more, (blerg) but it also means we have several outfits to leave behind for the orphanage- bonus :)

Nathan did homemade chicken nuggets tonight, with horseradish mustard (yum), and a mix of rice/spinach- one of the best meals we've had so far! Almost as good as the cabbage rolls I made Saturday night :)

When he leaves, I fully intend to survive on Ukraine's finest: bread, butter, and chocolate.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Day 17

I find it really amusing how similar our Sunday in Ukraine was to our Sundays at home.

Wake up, (be lazy until the absolute last minute when you have to...) get ready for church. Get to church, talk until service started three minutes ago. Worship to the point of tears (My God is Mighty to Save!), even though it's in a completely different language. Listen to God talking directly to you (always?!) during the service (in Russian?), His word is His word no matter where you are.  Fellowship after church until everyone's stomaches are growling. Help tear down church (I thought we were done with that?!). Go eat late lunch with friends. Come home happy. Let your kids make you laugh (God bless Skype).

Throw in a movie, ice cream, and a haircut for Nathan- feels like home today!

Today's lessons courtesy of Calvary Church and 1 Kings 22:
Beware of a wolf in sheep's clothing. God's true prophets are right 100% of the time, not 99%. Trust your spiritual discernment. Satan can't make attempts to ruin you without God's permission. So if God allows it, it's because HE has something for you.

ETA: Holy cow, I make a good grilled cheese in Ukraine!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Day 16

Look at my little ball of sunshine!!

I LOVED her in yellow today- I think it will be her signature color. She was so warm and bright :)

Learning about her family....

She rolled over today!! Front to back. We tried to work on back to front, but she did not like that one bit.

When she started getting tired, Daddy raced her in the walker again... until Daddy got tired. And yes, she does stare at her hands (DS mommas!). I don't think I've posted a photo of it yet.  She thinks her hands are the coolest thing EVER.  I think it's really sweet :)

Her tongue was nearly raw today from chewing/sucking. In the very first picture we got of her from RR, there was a paci in the bed with her. I wasn't sure if she still used it or not, so I brought a few different kinds. Today, when she was sucking her tongue and fighting sleep, I stuck it in. She sucked it just fine and fell asleep. We will ask our pedi about it, since I knows there's some debate about whether strengthening her sucking reflex/keeping her tongue intact is worth the risk of paci addiction. We'll see... (she's looked awfully sweet with it though).

We may have had a little too much fun trying to keep her awake...

I believe we shall have breakfast at Tiffany's in the near future....

A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous. -Coco Chanel

It was a good day!

Follow up: Pasta sauce...hmmm... maybe? More like tomato paste, but perhaps that is their pasta sauce? Regardless, we didn't find anything else at the market that was even close.
Tonight, I'm attempting a Ukrainian recipe!

Did you have fun at the circus?! Did you take your surprises with you?? I can't wait to hear all about it! What was your favorite part?! I bet you had lots of sugary treats :) We miss you like crraazzyyy.  Cale, how was your pet parade? Did you bring your puppy home?  Is your tooth still wiggly? Layla, who did you play with at school yesterday? Do you miss riding the bus? Brynn, any more loose teeth? Annie tried to kiss your picture today :) Love you love you love you!!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Day 15

Wow. You all really are swell.
I never expected to post that yesterday and so many of you contact me almost immediately about helping cover it so we can see our girl every day. How incredibly thoughtful.

We are actually okay with the schedule we've agreed on. It is very common for families to choose a couple of days not to visit. Often the weekend, but we didn't want to miss her that much two days in a row :) So we will take off Sundays for church and one other day mid-week. Actually, some families even go home and wait for their court date. Each one has to decide what is best for their family to get thru this process and get home for good.

Thank you so much for your generous offers!

We had another sweet day with Anna Gray today :) She was in footies today and was just so snuggly.

I'm pretty sure they cut her hair again. Wednesday it had already grown enough for me to sweep it to the side. Today it was all choppy again. But they don't cut the back, so it has a nice Joe Dirt look to it.

She still hasn't adjusted to only one nap! Poor baby.

We actually spent about 90% of our visit like this:

She was tired and I had migraine. We were both content, so we just stayed that way.


Of course, we woke her up in time to get a few giggles out :)

After lunch, we headed to the market. We only spent $30 on our groceries this time. Now that we can read some of the labels (whoop! whoop!) and we have a better idea of what we eat throughout the week, it was much easier!

We may have even bought spaghetti sauce this time! I'll let you know tomorrow for sure.

By the way, have I told you yet that when Nathan doesn't know the Russian word(s) he needs to use or can't think of it at the moment, he starts speaking Spanish?! And then I, of course, burst out laughing. If someone here doesn't speak English, I can pretty much guarantee they aren't going to understand you speaking Spanish, buddy. And then they looks at us even crazier because he's all over the map and I'm just standing there laughing. It's fun... 
 Broken Russian and a serious game of charades seem to be the most effective in our experience ;)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Day 14

Has it really been two weeks already?!
Two weeks and I haven't fallen down on the ice! And that's saying a lot. I fall at home on dry ground all the time! I said that out loud earlier and Nathan said I probably jinxed it... and then he nearly fell... twice.

I gotta say... with the exception of missing our kids, our time in country hasn't been that challenging.
Sure, it's not America-convenient, but I assure you the way we are living cannot be qualified as "hard", big-picture.

There was no AG visit today :(

Some of the families are staying in regions that are pretty remote. Our's is actually quite large and there is so much at our fingertips. Our apartment is probably one of the biggest of all the families, and it is very very nice. A nice large apartment also means it is one of the most expensive. In addition, the location of our orphanage doesn't allow us the opportunity to use public transportation- we HAVE to pay a driver to get us there and back every day. We knew that might be the case, we did not know how expensive it would be. We had heard an average daily cost of families living here for the time being and it is costing us about twice that. Also twice as much as it costs us to live at home- with no income coming in. Ouch.

Unfortunately, our budget just isn't going to allow us to visit the baby as much as we would like. We have set aside the money that we HAVE to have for her visa, passport, medical, the train back, our rent, etc. and it just doesn't leave much left over. We are cutting back to five visits a week until we get a better idea of how long we will be here and the bare minimum needed for survival.

So... that meant a free day.

Our morning routine was about the same, but we spent mid-day cleaning up and taking care of some odds and ends.

This afternoon we set out on a walk. I just wanted to see... MORE. I want to see people and places and things.

I forgot how hard it is to walk when you can't feel your legs :/

We walked for an hour or so and then stopped back at Pizza Bella for an early dinner. We met Carrie and Lee afterward for Bible study at church (which is in a small room inside a rec center).

It is so unbelievably cool to worship, with the same songs of praise that we know, except in another language.
The lesson was taught by Nathan/Nate, an American missionary, and translated by Victor, the pastor of the church. We really enjoyed it and met some great people!

My favorite thing from the lesson:
You don't look in a mirror to see how good everything is, you look in a mirror to see what you need to fix. Use God as your mirror. He will show you what you need to fix in your life AND give you the power to fix it!

Other non-biblical highlights of the evening:

1- One of the young ladies came over and introduced herself. When we spoke, her eyes got big and she said "American?!". Da. "Oh! You look Ukrainian!". YES! That's what I'm talking about! We most definitely have not had that reaction anywhere else :)

2- Nate and Nathan could probably talk for hours, mostly about weird stuff they've eaten in their travels. Nate is now bringing Nathan hair clippers tomorrow so he can cut his hair and we are going to their house next week for dinner/game night.

3- Even Ukrainians, who don't speak English, will walk up to my husband, point, and say, "The Unit! Cool Breeze!" hahahahaha

Home now to thaw and need real coffee. This dissolvable coffee/chocolate powder mix concoction is not cutting it... and I seriously need some chinese food. I never in a million years thought the one thing I'd be craving above all else is chinese food.

*Just FYI- if you know me, you know this already:
I have taken TONS more photos every day than I have actually put on the blog.  I can't wait to get home to edit them, and will probably share at a later date for those interested ;)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Day 13

There are three nannies that rotate days with her and today we saw #3 (also saw her Saturday). She and the doctor both came in and told us that we make Anna Gray very happy :grin:

She was still sleepy today, but she didn't actually fall asleep.  It's a lot of work to keep those beautiful blue eyes open, though!

We were playing 'The Lion King' ;) Anna Gray's other current favs include: the macarena, the YMCA, and blowing raspberries.

As sleepy as she was, she sure did have fun "racing" with her Papa. Her little feet don't even touch the ground when she's in the walker, but he pushed her as fast as they could go.  If he stopped, she would rock her self back and forth to get him going again.

They did this for a long time.

Today was pretty low-key! Nothing too exciting, just sweet moments with our baby :)

There is a certain amount of thrill that comes with writing these posts.  I write them so that we will remember. I write them so we can tell her her own story later. I also like having the opportunity to share our joy, and to read your sweet words and uplifting prayers. I am grateful for the chance to share OUR adoption story. Although they all look different, someone may be learning something from our's and questions may be answered or even better... someone may be called to start their own adoption story.

It's easy to see the good. It's easy spend two hours out of our day getting to know our incredible daughter and tell you how wonderful it was. That doesn't mean this everything about this phase of our life is wonderful!

Grumps trying to steal your happiness,  hurt feelings when you feel forgotten,  crappy circumstances to ruin your day, negative distractions, misplaced anger, longing for things you can't have....

I'm making an effort to choose JOY.

We are still praying very specifically for a quick court date. At this point, it could come any day but the timing is out of our hands. Feel free to pray with us :)

In other news:
I finally tried borscht for the first time. Not on purpose, but oh well.

After today's visit, we came home to realize we didn't have much to eat for lunch. We headed out to find something, but somehow ended up just walking and walking and walking... To quote Nathan, "we walked 80 blocks. Twice."  It's colder now. MUCH colder. Almost 2 hours, numb faces, and purplish-red hands later we finally walked into a pub we had passed in the first 10 minutes.

This was the first place we've been that didn't have an English menu. We ordered our cola-regulars and then our server attempted to ask us what we wanted. We had NO idea what was on their menu. We kept trying to ask what they had and she kept trying to ask what we want. Finally she said, "chicken-steak? potatoes?" and Nathan said YES! She looked at me... um... all I knew was that I hadn't eaten all day, it was 4pm, I was frozen and I really wanted something hot I could sink my teeth into. So, of course, I said, "soup?". I dunno. I couldn't think of anything else.

So... borsht it was. It wasn't bad! It was basically vegetable soup with no actual veggies, if that makes sense? Some shredded cabbage and a few potato chunks was all. I didn't eat much before filling up and I certainly wasn't going to keep eating just for heck of it (although, I admit to supplementing with a slice of bread... or two).

We had a small dinner later of mushroom vareneky (Ukrainian perogies) at home and a little pastry Nathan picked up at the market. I'm excited to go the market tomorrow... this girl is learning to read cyrillic! No more food guessing for me :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Day 12

When we got there this morning, the music teacher (the lady in the closet! I asked Tatiana.), came out and told us/Tatiana that I did a good job playing the piano yesterday, that we were a beautiful couple, and that we make the baby happy when we talk to her. She's so nice!

She loves giving kisses!

When they brought the baby in, her nanny told us/Tatiana that she (baby) has been very different since we started coming- much happier :) She also told her that at one year old, they move to a new groupa and only take one nap in the afternoons. They are not going to move her since she is close to going home with her Mama and Papa, but they ARE trying to change her to one nap a day. That's why she is so tired when we get there and for us to be patient.

At least we know now why she was suddenly so sleepy all the time!

Poor baby. She laughed and laughed when we got her but she only made it about 20 minutes today.

She was OUT.

We tried everything: playing, moving, sitting her up, putting her in the walker... she slept thru every bit of it.

Oh, she was pitiful but we could not stop laughing.

If someone came in the room, we would turn around and talk/play with her but she never cracked an eye!

We made it thru with only a few whimpers, but she cried again when we gave her back to the nanny ;) Hopefully, she was on her way to a good, long nap!

The nanny also asked us what we would be naming her, and told us they will start calling her that too. I thought that was very sweet.  We have been calling her by her Ukrainian name or her Ukrainian name+Anna Gray, so hopefully she will make the transition easily.

Another lazy afternoon back at the apartment! More Tudors (We are going to have to take a break though- I realized last night I was praying in a British accent and we have threatened to behead each other at least twice ;)  When we packed it seemed like we were bringing lots of entertainment for ourselves, we absolutely should have brought more.

I believe chess and/or checkers are on the menu for the rest of our evening!

Sass- do you like what Anna Gray has on?! She looks like a teddy bear- your favorite! Layla, have fun at dance tonight! Can't wait to hear how your buffalos are coming. Cale, did you like the silly string?! I bet you all had fun with that!!  We miss you all!! Daddy REALLY wishes he could make a snowman with you with all this snow. Thank you all for being so good while we are gone. We're proud of you and we can't wait to get home to you! WE LOVE YOU!!