We're home!

Back home to 3 very excited children whom we missed like mad. 2/3 of our luggage is still on vacation but the honey and it's "really cool" container (a quote from Michael) and a few of the other wonderful gifts we were given made it home. Our Matroshka with its bottle of vodka is in Randy's suitcase and is still missing in action, along with a suitcoat and 3 pairs of Levis.

I spent much of our first day back cleaning and getting ready to decorate the Christmas tree. Randy spent a great deal of it sleeping. He said he felt hung-over. I guess he was more tired than I was. I will post the rest of the photos when I get a bit of rest.

We already miss Masha. I think we will be taking down the crib. Our little angel is a climber and she would definitely be trying to escape it. So Big Girl Bed or Toddler Bed? That is the question.

Thank you to Masha and Dierda for taking such good care of us while we were in Moscow! We had a wonderful time.

Meeting an angel...twice!

We have met our daughter. We are going to name her Masha Alexandra. She is everything a mother (or father) could want in a child. She is sweet, lovable, inquisitive and has a sparkle in her eyes that says she is full of joy. She loves to play and she is always giggling.

I was very nervous about meeting our new daughter. It was so difficult with Lera because she was older and really did not see why these strange speaking Americans insisted on playing with her and disrupting her reign as queen of her groupa. She was very cautious and it took days for us to get her to enjoy being with us.

Masha was told that Mama and Papa were waiting and very cooperatively entered the little room that we were in. It took her about 5 minutes to decide that she adored Randy. It always takes a bit longer for them to decide about me. I just don't do that cool tossing them in the air that Randy does - especially when they weigh over 30 pounds. (That's a guess, based on my nephew Chase who is also a pleasant armful at slightly over a year).

She was dressed in an especially lovely little dress, white sweater and a sparkly rhinestone bracelet. We played and played until almost lunchtime. She was very tired and allowed Randy to hold her and rock her around the room. I even got a chance to snuggle her. She almost fell asleep in my arms.She went to have her lunch and waved sleepily and departed with a very sweet paka.

We went to the hotel and had lunch and rested a bit before returning to play some more. It is important to get in all of our visits before court so we get to see her twice a day before we leave.

She was still sleepy but the same incredible little girl for our second visit. She is so obviously loved by everyone at the baby house. And I think she is a indulged. She has lots of clothes and the most amazing snowsuit! We tried it on her but it is too bitterly cold to go outside.
She gives wonderful hugs and kisses. She moves toward you making little bubble popping sounds and fish faces before she plants one on you.

Waiting for the Permission

The paper that we were supposed to pick up after 10am is now going to be available after 2pm.

The paper that we were supposed to pick up after 2pm is now being couriered from the outskirts of Moscow where the woman with the signature lives back to the MOE. It will be ready after 5pm. Another day without our official visit.

We have the exaulted permission!!!! We get to visit the baby house and have all our questions answered about our little girl!

I will be falling asleep as soon as we get to the Hotel. Which means I will wake up about 2am our time to Skype our family.

Our MOE Appointment

We had our MOE appointment and received our referral for a little girl with Down syndrome, heart condition, crossed-eyes and low development...Level 5 they call this.

Her picture is beautiful but we are not allowed to meet her until we have a paper signed by someone who is out. We must come back 10 am on Wednesday. We are both exceedingly tired now. Jet lag really catches up on you. The food here is good though and Alexey seems determined to keep us stuffed, bless him. He insisted we try Russian pelminia - little meat stuffed raviouli type pasta, and now Randy loves them.

Caeli has a bad cough and Michael sounds bad as well (Lera is healthy as a horse) so I told Grandpa to take them to urgent care. The results: Caelia has a cough and Michael has an ear infection. I really hate being away from my kids!

Moscow is beautiful - but really cold!

We arrived very tired but safely. Customs is a long wait and I was extremely anxious to meet our friend, Alexey. It is quite wonderful to see someone that you recognize (and who is just as excited as to see you) when you walk through the gate. I feel as though I have new family before even meeting our daughter!

Our translator, is a very nice woman - coincidentally named Masha - and has been very helpful. Our hotel (and staff) are excellent. Most of them speak perfect English. There are several restaurants here in the Hotel that serve all kinds of food. So much for Randy's plan to lose weight on this trip!

We had a lovely dinner with Masha and Alexey the first night and then stumbled up to our room. I should say something about the room. The bathroom floor is heated, it is big and quiet and it has an amazing view. The bed is comfortable and it has wonderful linens. This does feel like a pampered vacation. It is also WARM. (I remember the Hotel Izmayl being so chilly that I slept in my coat.) Ok, it's really warm...we sleep with the window open. Which brings me to the weather. It is REALLY REALLY COLD. Yes, we are Minnesotan and get these same temperatures but we also tend to drive everywhere when its this cold and plan indoor activities. We rarely spend a long time walking from place to place. Our second day in Moscow, we did.

You have to see the great sites in the world to appreciate how fantastic the world really is. Anyone coming to Russia needs to demand a visit to Red Square (which, by the way, is not a reference to communism but closer means, beautiful square). The forecast shows that the weather is going to be warmest on the Monday we are here and that is before we have official appointments to maintain, so this was the day to do the things that make communication here possible and the day to relax with old/new friends. A friend from high school for Randy and her boyfriend. Small world, huh?

Francesca was great. We walked ten minutes to the Metro (a marvel in transportation to be certain) and met her there. She bought us a pass to ride, showed us how to use said pass and took us to the heart of Moscow. It is an amazingly fast ride (she said she really didn't want to know how fast they actually were traveling) and it was warm. I will dwell on warm many times. Even for people who live in Moscow, it is really cold and short walks are an endurance test of sorts- even if you are wearing long underwear, heavy Minnesota coats and gloves and dressed in mummy layers.

We bought a SIM card to communicate with everyone and get internet (we do have it in our room but it is nice to have access while out and about) and then we got a short tour through the theatre district and finally into a great little Russian restaurant. I tried Russian beer (and liked it), several cheeses (loved those) and borsht. Randy, yes Mr Fussy eater himself, tried a pork "hotpot" which is kind of a stew. We did pass on the cold boiled beef tongue appetizer. Babysteps, know what I mean?

After catching up and having a wonderful time, we went to brave the elements and see Red Square. I wouldn't have missed seeing this place, especially the Cathedral for anything in the world. This should be one of the seven wonders and thanks to Caelia who dunked my camera into my cup of gingerale while I was packing, I have a wonderful new camera that takes great night photos.

This one is of Saint Basil Cathedral. I think that is how its spelled. The most beautiful cathedral I have ever seen. Ivan the Terrible thought so as well. He gouged out the architects' eyes after they designed it so that they could never make anything more beautiful. Russian stories are frequently this way.

This is Lenin's tomb. It is right in front of the Kremlin and there was a very cold guarding walking in front of it. He does get relieved frequently we were assured.

This is Russia's first shopping mall. The last Tsar took his children there (think 1910 or something like that) to shop. Now it is filled with super expensive shops that only the super rich can afford but they are beautiful.

This is also in Red Square. This is where they beheaded people during the revolution.

We then walked to a coffee house to meet Francesca's boyfriend Charles (also American) and warm up before we got back on the Metro to go back to our hotel. Thank you so much Francesca for the tour and for showing us the basics of functioning in Moscow.


We have our official appointment date. December 15th! We will be departing for Russia on Decmber 12th and will arrive the evening of December 13th. We are thrilled to finally being moving on in this process. I am personally a bit overwhelmed - I never expected to be given so little notice to plan our trip (although, I was told repeatedly by our agency)! I suddenly look about my house and see a hundred things that I wanted to take care of before leaving and put off because its more fun to play with the kids. So they are now on my dizzying list of things to do in a really short amount of time - wouldn' t you think that I would have learned with Lera's adoption?

Russia is different than Ukraine for adoptions. Ukraine has 2 trips - Russia has 3 trips. On the first trip in Ukraine, you choose a child from the SDA registry, travel to meet the child, accept the child, have your papers sent back to the SDA and then wait for your court date - you get acquainted with your child leading up to your court date. You then have your court and go home to wait out the 10 days wait period. You can stay but when you desperately miss your children, going home is wonderful but hard. Only one parent needs to return (or one parent and her parent, since her husband and her parent are protective) for the second trip. It is very nice to have someone to help with the child since she is an active child and not inclined to being carried or staying in a confined space. On this trip, you obtain her passport, her medical and her visa and then you may leave. There is no set time except for your first appointment date. You sort of leap into the whole thing and trust that it will work out.

For our first trip to Russia, it has really set times. We will meet with the MOE to choose our child from their registry, go meet her, accept her and get to play with her and then return home in less than a week. At which point we go home and wait for a court date. On the second trip we have court. Both parents attend court and this is a short trip. Russia has the same 10 day wait rule. I am hazy on the details of the last trip - I know that only one parent must return for the 3rd trip and at this point, I can only think about the first trip.