Just relaxing...

All of the necessary footwork has been done for the paperwork on the last trip. We can finally relax a bit before we go home - AND I am now sleeping on a normal schedule, and feel a bit more like myself, so its time to catch you up on this week.

After our visit to Masha the first day, after more paperwork, we had lunch at a wonderful traditional Russian restaurant. It is located in the oldest bath house in Moscow and is beautiful. The staff are extremely attentive and the food was out of this world. We had a traditional juice made from pomagranates and wonderful bread. I am proud to say that my son (and Randy) tried a bite of everything and Michael has a new favorite food: SAM-sow. He didn't even change his mind when he was told it contained goat. Our friend Francesca was along and she called them Russian hot pockets. Michael however, did not enjoy the red caviar. He did spend several minutes trying to see inside the eggs.

We also took Michael to see Red Square. It was daylight this time and there was a lot of activity. We saw two bridal parties walking across the square taking pictures and were told that this was for luck. The Russians have a lot of beliefs about luck and tradition.

I stood in this circle and made a wish (local tradition). Can you guess what I wished for?
I also got to see a Russian Eagle. It, along with 2 small monkeys dressed in snow suits were available to have your picture taken with. No way was I going near that eagle! There were pidgeons walking around near it and I had asked our translator why didn't it attack the pidgeons- she said it was probably drugged. It didn't look too drugged when it decided to go after the pidgeons and lift its post off the ground. The pidgeon did get away but I kept a wide berth.

We also saw the changing of the guard of what I think is like our Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
We also walked past these beautiful fountains, well they are fountains in the summer. I was told that they are dancing fountains and that the water moves.

We headed back to our hotel and then we noticed. Michael, who announced upon waking that morning, that he was "normal" and could not understand why Mama and Dad were dragging it, was completely out. I mean, dead to the world, sawing logs, OUT.
He stayed this way (with only a short stumble up to our room) the rest of the day. He woke with Randy and I around 1am local time and we went back to sleep around 4:30am.

It's Official!

We had court today and it is official, Masha Alexandra Green is the newest member of our family! We are ecstatic! We do not get to bring her home yet, we must return to Russia on April 4th and she will be home at last on April 11th!

Michael and Masha

We got up early and went down to breakfast. Michael ate some cereal but decided he really didn't like the milk. I think it was whole milk and they keep it warm. He did like the pastries but he thought the eggs looked like Mac & Cheese. They are a unique color. After breakfast, Alexey and Masha arrived and we went to visit Masha. You could tell that Michael was very excited. He tried to play it down by telling me repeatedly that he didn't need his heavy coat. This has been an ongoing complaint since we left Minneapolis but I am not going to be scolded by the Babushkas because my son is running about with too thin a jacket.

Masha came straight in and was very social. Michael was great, he moved really slow and let her warm up to him. She seemed really at ease with us. I was worried that she might not remember us but if she didn't, she seemed to decide that she liked us anyway. Alexey had brought a kitchen set for the babyhouse and Masha really liked it. She had lots of fun playing peek-a-boo and feeding the baby doll that came with it. However, as is true the world over, she REALLY REALLY liked the BOX! She played with Randy and she played with me. But Michael was king. And he has the bruises to prove it! She acts just like Caelia and Lera do around Michael. They bully and push and make him perform for them (and they crack him up in return) and invariably he gets swatted in the face or head. He seems to find it amusing but not as amusing as they do.

We're Here!

We landed in Moscow at 6:30pm on Friday...that's something like 28 hours after we got up and started this trip. Our luggage decided it was going to hang out in New York for an extra day. Passport control is a very long line and we moved from long line to short line at the lost luggage desk.

It is very difficult to describe the contents of your luggage and where you have been and why you did not make your original flights to someone who speaks very limited English...it is even harder when it takes so long that you have a shift change and have to start over! I did spend time helping Chuck (a fellow American who missed his flights as well) try to explain what stage props were to a very confused group of clerks. Michael slept in a chair. Randy talked to Vanilla Ice.

Actually, he continued his conversation that from Amsterdam and New York. They had quite the conversation. Randy posted this on Facebook. He was a very nice man, very friendly. Michael was sleeping or we might have asked for a picture. They talked for over an hour because Chuck and I got to communicate with the locals. Chuck is his tour manager. They were playing at some MTV thing at Olympic Stadium. Olympic Stadium is HUGE and they said it had already sold out. We tried to teach him some Russian words to get by, he got hello, thank you and later. Oh, and Paka! He liked that one.

Our translator and friend had arrived at the airport and had breakfast at the airport thinking we would be arriving then, left when they got my message and then came back to wait for 4 hours while we cleared customs and lost luggage. I was so happy to see them! We had supper at the hotel and then went upstairs and fell instantly asleep. We slept for 9 hours and I was still tired. Michael declared that he was perfectly back to normal. We just smiled - we had been this route before.

New flight information...

We are leaving JFK at 10:10pm and will arrive in Amsterdam a little before noon on Friday. We will then take Aeroflot flight number 3104 and arrive in Moscow at 6:10pm.

I hope we sleep. I think we will have to wait until Saturday to see Masha, it may be past her bedtime by the time we get out of the airport.

The journey so far..

Our 11:15am flight from Minneapolis was delayed in Chicago - for 3 hours. The flight was very turbulent but Michael handled it like a trooper. He thought it was fun. Mom and Dad less fun.

So we missed our flight to Moscow. And we missed the flight that we would have been able to make if our first flight was not so late. We are waiting to hear what our new flights will be. Notice I said new FLIGHTS. We will most likely be arriving in Amsterdam in the wee hours tomorrow (leaving here at 10pm or so) and then departing for Moscow at around 1 pm and arriving (most likely in a rumpled, sleepy, grumpy exhausted heap) at about 6pm. I will update more when I have firm times.

Two years...

We have our official court date...drum roll, please...March 16th! Happy dances all around!

We are taking our son, Michael with us to Moscow. He has been very insistent that he wants to go - he is tired of waiting and thinks it is high time Masha meet her big brother!

I write a lot about Down syndrome but not so much about Michael's condition. Michael has Asperger's syndrome, mild obsessive compulsion and panic attacks. Michael is very smart but eccentric. You have probably met people like Michael all your life and labeled them various things. I like eccentric. He likes things a certain way and has difficulty with changes and becomes agitated if he feels like he is not in control. We take him out of his comfort zone every vacation and he generally starts the trip very mad at us. By the time we get home, he almost always says he had the best time of his life! He is a funny boy! It is a very big step for him to REQUEST going to visit Masha. We are very proud of him.

For those of you who are wondering about the significance of this trip, this will be the first adoption petition brought before any court in Moscow for a child with Down syndrome in over 2 years. We are thankful for this gift. It has been almost that long since we began this journey.

It has also been 2 years since I went back to Ukraine and picked up Lera and brought her home. Isn't it amazing how 2 years changes everything?

From this:
To this:
And from this:
To this: