August 24, 2008 - The Great Minnesota Get Together

Otherwise known as the Minnesota State Fair. The Fair is an annual event in our house with extra importance because of Michael. Michael has proudly proclaimed that he has never missed a Fair in his life. He was barely a month old when we took him the first time. He also insists that he NEVER will miss a Fair. We are getting close enough to finished with our paperwork that it was a concern that we might miss this one. We are still waiting for our I171h to arrive. It always seems to be the sticking point in our adoptions. It is very frustrating - but I digress. The point of this post is the Fair.

There is about 2 hours of preparation that goes into an outing like this. First, there is the cooler and diaper bag. Caelia needs electrolytes - she dehydrates fast and most things upset her tummy and one of the best parts of the Fair is the food. So, water, ice, electrolytes. Medications, sunscreen, diapers and 3 changes of clothes for each girl (and a clean shirt for Mama and Daddy in case one of the princesses - probably Caeli - chucks up her cheese curds. The girls are really trying on the whole potty training thing - but they haven't quite got it down yet and the Fair is the last place to try to practice. Lines for the womens' room is always long.

Everything needs to fit into the stroller. We currently have a double jogging stroller. You wouldn't think that a stroller was a necessity for a 6 and an almost 6 yr old but Caelia does evenutally tire and Lera seems to tire easily. The stroller serves a couple of purposes. It is handy for containment purposes. You don't want to have to chase 2 girls running in opposite directions. It is a safety device. Not only does it keep them from wandering, it protects them from people who plow blindly through crowds and never mind the child that is tottering along in front of them (a personal pet-peeve - especially if they are walking with a lit cigarette at little face level). It saves Daddy's back. It saves Mama's back and shoulders. Shoulders because of how heavy the diaper bag with supplies gets to be. There are problems with the one we have - like we will soon need a stroller for 3 or 2 strollers.

We are thinking of getting the same stroller that Meredith has ( It is practically impossible to find a stroller to accomodate 2 bigger kids but this one looks like it might do but anyone with another suggestion, please let us know. The Valco Baby stroller has a great feature - a toddler seat that can attach in the front for a third child to ride. Sounds like a plan to me - if it can accomodate my big girls.

Anyway, our current stroller will do while we have only two riders. It just requires a bit more effort. It is designed for a taller person (which I am not) and it has a fixed wheel in front so you need to pop a wheelie to make turns. This is a bit tough to do with over 100 pounds of precious cargo.

Grandpa and Uncle Ryan went with us. The girls were very excited. They were aware of going somewhere special but I don't think Caelia remembers it clearly and nothing in Lera's memories are like the Fair. As soon as we drove onto the fairgrounds, the girls were pointing and trying to get loose. Lera saw the Midway (where all the rides are) and started shrieking. We took her to a small carnival around Independence Day and had to carry her back to the car kicking and protesting when it was time to leave because she so wanted to go back to the games.

It was a beautiful day. Sunny, pleasant and very busy. Our first stop was the animal barns. Not a favorite of Michael or Ryan or Randy for that matter but the girls really like the animals. A very nice boy asked if the girls wanted to be his calf. She was very sweet and mostly stayed asleep. Lera was thrilled! Then we went to see the sheep and a wonderful lady introduced her to a lovely nanny goat. We saw bunnies and chickens and turkeys. We discovered that turkeys and chickens really hate Ryan. All he had to do was walk past one and it would get all ruffled and noisy. Lera had to touch everyone of the animals they had out to be petted. So much food. Pronto pups, turkey legs, milkshakes, caramel apples in a dish, pulled pork sandwiches, deep fried cheese curds, mini donuts, porkchop on a stick, pickle dogs and of course, the footlong hotdogs were great! Two ends - no waiting! Michael is such an anomally. In the midst of all of the noise and crowds, he finds a small garden and while the girls scarf down a "meatball sundae" he spent his time trying to coax a butterfly onto his finger to show his sisters. In addition to food and animals there are also rides. Oh, boy, the RIDES! Pictures discribe these better than I can.

By far, however, the best thing about the Fair is the MUSIC. Both Caelia and Lera seem to live for music and to dance. This is a bit tough when Mama has you buckled into the stroller but when you gotta gotta dance.

August 23,2008 - You could save a life!

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August 19, 2008- Mission accomplished!

I managed to clean the girls' room before they could destroy it again. I took pictures just to prove it. Lera is very happy about the new arrangement. She likes where we moved her bed. She is so cute when she goes running to get into bed. She has come so far since we brought her home. She always went to sleep easy, really too easily. She didn't protest, she didn't dawdle - just into bed and fall asleep. She seemed somewhat baffled by our insistance of hugging and kissing her goodnight. Flash ahead six months and bedtime is a whole different story. She bounds into bed, wriggles around under the covers waiting for us to notice the giggling lump, then she pops up and tucks Mishka in next to her and waits (usually giggling) for us to say the official goodnights. Now we must say goodnight to Mishka, kiss Mishka, rub Mishka's nose and then we can move on the Lera's goodnight. Hug Lera, kiss Lera, rub Lera's nose...she manages to drag out goodnights a good ten minutes now. She still falls asleep within minutes.

Caelia has changed in six months too. She has gone from sleeping with us, to going to sleep in her own bed without anyone snuggling with her until she goes to sleep. She started out sleeping with us because she would choke during the night and we would have to get her upright. We tried this with her in her crib but it took so long to negotiate to her bedside that I thought it made her choking so much worse. As she grew out of the choking, we never could convince her that the big girl bed was as comfy as Mama and Daddy's bed. When Lera arrived, Caelia seemed to want to stay with her friend. She now goes to sleep on her own. I miss her but I do like having the ability to turn over at night. Still, she occasionally requests one of us to snuggle with her until she falls asleep.And in the time that I typed this short post, the two little storms have swept a path through their rooms again...oh, well, I know what I will be doing while they are at school tomorrow.

August 18, 2008 - Time for a little work

As you can tell by the last video clip with the girls dancing- my living room is a mess. All those papers that were dumped out in the floor were part of my mad search for more documents that I needed to send to Russia. Yes, we are getting that close. Still waiting for the USCIS to send us our approval but that is about all we need. The paper I was looking for was a tiny receipt that had our fingerrprint ID's for our local Police clearance. Our fingerprints are still good so all I needed was to have them pull the records and re-run the background check - this would save Randy from leaving work during the fragile 2 hour window that they give you on Fridays to be fingerprinted. It is a mountain of paperwork and a lot of effort to complete an international adoption but I think these are worth it.
However, my livingroom is nothing compared to the girls' room. Michael very aptly calls the girls Hurricane Caelia and Tsunami Lera. Today we will be working on making their room sparkle. We also need to think about arranging their room to accomodate a new arrival. The room is plenty big enough - if you remove all the excess toys. We are working on the outside of the house, so the familyroom in the basement is on hold. In Minnesota the season for home improvement to the outside of the house is pretty short - especially if you are trying to pack as much playing in the warm summer sunshine as possible!

I will be posting at least every other day as we approach our travel. At least, that is the goal - blogging is hard to do with 110 pounds of squirming, giggling girls on your lap.

August 17, 2008 - A little bit of fun

First, there was swimming: Then there was playing outside: There was even time for a little artwork by Caelia. She chose a bright pink nail polish as her medium and added her artwork to herself, the sofa and the livingroom carpet:)

And then it was time for some dancing. Lera throws herself into this with great enthusiasm. Caelia was very tired but still determined to dance the night away.

If you listen to the last clip with sound you can hear Lera excitedly saying "Lera!" over and over. That was not: "its Lera's turn" but her looking at the camera as I was taking the clip of Caelia. Even she gets confused...

August 6, 2008 - Questions

Ok, we get a lot of questions - the most common, "Are they twins?" I try to answer the curious questions graciously. I'm not known for my tactfulness but I figure if having a question answered makes them more comfortable with the next person with Down syndrome they meet - or helps them realize it's not such a tragedy if someone is born in their family - then that's a good thing, right? I also love to talk about my kids.

Over the course of the years, I have been asked if Caelia has Down syndrome in unique ways. I had a little boy ask if she was "retarded?" His mom tried to disappear but I wasn't really offended - I just told him that she has Down syndrome and that means she learns a bit slower. He was happy to continue playing with her - but he did slow down his instructions to her. My favorite was a cashier at Target who looked at the girls and asked if they were twins or did we get "special angels" twice.

We went out to eat with both girls this weekend - Michael was playing with a friend. Caelia sits pretty well while waiting for service - Lera tries to crawl under the table, lay down on the bench. etc. We sit in a corner whenever possible and contain the girls by sitting on either side so they don't escape and disturb other diners. On this particular outing, I heard a loud voice from the table across from us say - Oh! she's really pretty! I said, "thank you, so is her sister if she would come out from under the table", and continued coloring with Caelia. A few minutes later - right behind me I hear, "Are they twins?" and turned to see this woman had come across and was standing next to our table.

"No, they are 3 months apart. We just adopted Lera from Ukraine"
She looked at Caelia. "is she from Mongolia?" Ok - this is a new one.
"do you mean, mongoloid? She has Down syndrome, yes"
"She's pretty but the other one is prettier" (OMG!)pause "She doesn't understand me, right?" (which one? Caelia is looking at you like that because she just doesn't like you)
"Is it expensive to adopt?" - "you should go to Reeces Rainbow if you would like more information" (sorry, Andrea)
"Are they hard to keep?" (they're not dogs!!!!!)
"I would like to adopt one" --- "It's VERY expensive"
We paid our bill and tried to leave as quickly as possible before this woman was anymore offensive.

I didn't chew her out for two reasons. One, OMG!!!!!! I just couldn't register what she was saying and two, I serious began to wonder if she were "slow" herself and perhaps, no one had ever told her.

Not everyone is as enlightened as I would like to believe but this was the most obnoxious, that I can recall. Sorry for the negative post - I just couldn't wrap my brain around this person's perspective.