February 22, 2009 - Has it really been a year?

It has been one year since the Izmayl court declared Lera officially ours. Her orphanage kept her an extra 3 days until my father and I arrived to begin our journey home, but one year ago today was the day the we became a family of 5. And it all started with a picture. This one.I remember the anxiety of the paperwork, the exhausting travel, the strangeness of not being able to read all the signs around me. You wouldn't think it would be disorienting to see the signs and not instantly know what they meant, but it makes you feel isolated and truly on the other side of the earth.
The food was different - even the milk, but you keep a small picture in your heart of two little girls playing and whispering and giggling like best friends and you dutifully follow your translator onto trains, taxis and to a gated facility on the edge of a far away town to meet this beautiful little princess who looks at you, not with adoration but like this:
What a difference knowing that this odd woman that visited and played with you for a short time, who the other children said abandoned you, came BACK to take you HOME - even if you didn't know what that was. This was what greeted me the day I picked her up.It was a difficult journey but so worth each moment. There...
And here.
I look at these photos and dream of 3 giggling little girls having a teaparty under the silver maple tree in the backyard...

February 21, 2009 - I lost a tooth!

Caelia lost one of her front teeth at lunch today. Lera was very curious about the excitement. She kept looking in Caeli's mouth trying to figure out what we were looking at. As soon as she figured out there was a missing tooth - she promptly told on Caeli for having lost something so important!

This is a picture from about 7pm - can you tell that the gap has gotten wider? YEP! She lost both of her top front teeth in one day!

February 12th, News and Las Vegas!!

I know our last post said we would post more and that was a month ago, but anyone who has been involved in the adoption process knows you have ups and downs! We have definitely had some downs in the last month and were told we couldn't adopt our little Miss M but didn't want to give up, so after a few agency changes, emails and phone calls all over the world, plus some days of doubt, we are pretty confident it is back on!! We can't list any specific details about our little one or post any pictures of her on the blog(although I do have some on my FB page and will continue to post some info there, email us if you don't know what FB is!)

So what have we done over the last month? Well since we were depressed and thought we were possibly done with this adoption, we did what anyone else would do....booked a last minute trip to Las Vegas...just the two of us! Finally after 11 years of marriage we had our honeymoon(we got married in Vegas) other than our Ukraine trip, Sheila and I have never been away from our kids since Michael was born(yes even when we got married, he was with us on our first honeymoon!) so this was unusual for us, we love our children dearly and never really wanted to be away from them, but this last six months has been a rollercoaster, so the time was right! And with the help of Granpa Hurley who took the girls and Michael for the week(thank you, thank you ,thank you! I have the best father in law in the world!!) Off we went hand in hand...the flight isn't too long so that was a breeze, especially compared to the crazy long flights to Ukraine we took last year, we left Minneapolis at a warm -5 degrees and landed to a balmy 50, it was t-shirt weather for us! The rental car set up was super easy and the car we got was pretty decent, a Chrysler Sebring I think it was, we're not used to anything smaller than the mini van or my truck, but it was sporty and we were in Vegas!

We stayed at the Four Queens on Fremont street which was a pretty nice hotel, not the fanciest place but very comfortable and clean. Our room was on the 7th floor which worried us at first because we were basically even with the Fremont experience which if you've never been to Vegas is a several block long 10 story structure that covers Fremont street and basically does a really cool overhead sound and light show, it's awesome to see, but kind of scary when you realize there are giant speakers right outside your hotel window. The shows run from about 6 PM to midnight so we were worried the sound would keep us up....ha...we were in Vegas!! Who goes to bed before midnight!?!?!?! Certainly not us on this trip...I think the earliest we went to bed was maybe one, so we didn't have to bother requesting a new room. The majority of our trip was spent wandering through all the casinos that have been built in the 11 years since we were there last and of course returning to the scene of the crim....er I mean our wedding :) We got married at the Rivera hotel and casino, so we had to tour the place. We had contemplated renewing our vows, but really wanted to save that for a time when the kids could be with us.

We did do a more traditional tourist activity and went to the Hoover dam our second day there. It's a must see if your in Vegas...man that thing is big! The water level when we were there 11 years ago was the highest ever, my how things have changed....judging by the pictures we took, it's lower than it has been in years, you can see the white on the cliffs around Lake Mead, that is the water level from 1997 so you can see how far down it has come. It's always kind of cool to see something that is so iconic and a marvel of engineering. Although I will say the art deco bathrooms were kind of weird, the urinals were....um....rather toilet looking and did not offer a whole lot of privacy if you happen to be in there while someone else is.

The highlight of the trip, besides the 3 foot tall daquri we shared on night 3, was Sheila hitting a Royal Flush on the video poker machine, so a $1.25 bet paid her a cool $1000.00, which of course she needed to compensate for her husbands ability to make money disappear into various slot machines and black jack tables....a real Clark Griswold I was on this trip, if you've seen Vegas Vacation, you'll totally get the reference, I don't think I could have won at rock, paper, scissors on this trip!! But she hit a hand that statistically speaking you might hit every 40,000 tries! it was very cool and we managed to snag a few pics of something we may not see again for along time!

The trip was great, we ate a lot, walked a lot, enjoyed summer like weather and got to hang out a lot, just the 2 of us and kind of recharge for another run at making this adoption happen. We were overjoyed to get home and see the kids though, even though it was only a 4 day trip, we were missing them like crazy by the end of it.....more to come...soon!!