Friday, April 30, 2010

Finally In My Arms

Today Svetlana picked Tyler and I up at 11:15, we drove to a childrens store so that I could purchase a few items we needed to have at the apartment.  We then went to a local corner store and bought a really beautiful cake and candies to give to the Baby Home Director.

We drove up to the Baby Home and went inside, we were directed to sit at the couch and get her outfit ready for her.  We did not bring a snowsuit, and since it was a little chilly Svetlana told us to bring Jeans and a sweater with a coat today.  I gave it to one of the workers and before I knew it, our daughter was brought out to Tyler and I in her outfit.  I have to say she looked sooooo adorable.  We got packed up and headed out to the car.  What a grand feeling of being able to leave the Baby Home forever.

Ava Grace

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


To let you all know I can not stand paperwork.  If anybody really knows me, they know that I am not always a detail oriented type of a person.  I leave Tom with his Type A personality to be in charge of all of that.  Well for the adoption process, I was in charge of everthing.  I think I did a really good job keeping everthing organized, updated, apistilled, notarized..... you get the picture.  Well now that I am here in St. Petersburg, it is after April 27, you know the day the judge said that our daughter can be ours.  I still don't have her here in my empty, longing hands just yet.  I don't really understand the whole process from this end of the paperwork nightmare.  There is more paperwork to file, more things that needed to be signed today, passport picture taken to the passport department etc, etc, etc...I will however be able to take my daughter out of the orphanage on Friday.

Tyler and I have been able to see her everyday, we have to go outside because Tyler is still considered a child by the orphanage, and he will carry germs that he can give to the other children.  I don't really understand this but we have to obey and we still are able to see her outside.  It is hysterical when they finally bring her to us.  She is all wrapped up in mulitple layers and she looks like the Michelin Man.  She can't walk and she can hardly move her arms and legs.  Today they had a scarf wrapped around her neck and I thought she was choking it was so tight.  I took that off of her immediately and she was very happy.  We found out that she absolutely loves to swing.  Everytime we have her in the swing she gets a big ol happy grin on her face.  I tickle her feet and when I stop, she starts to kick so that I continue to do it.  It is really cute.  I have noticed she is not holding my gaze at all.  She seems determined to look away from me, so I pray that when we finally get her with us she will be able to feel comfortable with us.  We still have not heard any words from her.  I think speech therapy may be in the future for us????  Tyler can not contain himself when he is with her.  He loves to give her kisses, and hug her and show her all new things.  I think we introduced her to her first "stick".  She loved it, she carried it with her the whole time.  She would move it between her hands, she tried to eat it and see what it tasted like.  I don't think the girl ever sat in grass or sand before.  We were fortunate to show her all of these new things.

Today the city is preparing for a large parade on May 9.  It is their Victory Day, and they were rehearsing outside of the Hermitage today and the military had all the streets closed off around the city area there.  It was amazing the amount of military there, and they were only there for a practice.

The weather has been a little chilly here.  I did not bring a "snowsuit" as our translator told me I probably would not need one, but I am a little worried now.  It is a cool crisp breeze blowing and even I was a little chilly today.

Keep praying for us, as I believe Friday will be the day we get to take our daughter home to be with us.

Tylers bed!

Military practicing for Victory Day Celebration on May 9.  Hermitage square

Along the streets of St. Petersburg
Outside Play with Tyler 

Booties on her feet!
She is soooo bundeled up

Monday, April 26, 2010

We are here

It was a long day of traveling.  I sure feel sorry for the passengers that were stuck in airports because of the Volcano in Ice Land.  We went to the grocery store ate a little and now Tyler is sleeping and I am putting away the "stuff".  I forgot how much stuff you actually need for a toddler.  Tomorrow we get to see her, I can't wait.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Russia, Here we come

Well maybe later than I thought.  Our first hiccup of the day, our flight has been delayed?  Don't really know why, but it is delayed enough that we won't make our connecting flight.  The joys of traveling!

Tyler is sooooooooo excited to be going, and I am excited to show him St. Petersburg.  He is looking forward to eating all of the traditional Russian food and to experience life.

Keep praying for us, hopefully we will get there soon.  I can't wait to be with my baby girl!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Getting Ready

We have quite a story to tell our daughter when we finally get her and have her in our arms.  Between Russia and US trying to come to an agreement about adoptions and then this Volcano, it is truly WILD!!

Tyler and I will leave Sunday, hopefully, if flights are not cancelled.  We arrive Monday and then on Tuesday we file some more paperwork.  I believe we can have our daughter this day, but might have to wait for the paperwork to be completed.  Unfortunately we will be in St. Petersburg until May 5, that is when the paperwork for her passport and visa are completed.  We will leave St. Petersburg to arrive in Moscow on May 5 and do our Embassy paperwork on May 6-7, we can leave on May 8.  Now we will need more prayers because Tyler is supposed to go to Prom on May 8!  We arrive in Chicago at 3:35 p.m..  Does anyone else think that is way too close for him to go to Prom?  He is insisting that he is going, so we will just leave it up to God.

I am sooo excited as I pack her clothes in the suitcase and then I get overwhelmed to make sure I bring the right things for her.  I stress about what happens if.... then I remember I can't think that way and that God will take care of everything for us.  If we forget something, we can buy it (much more expensive in Russia), if she cries on the plane, oh well we won't see those people again! 

It will be a busy 2 weeks while I am gone, Tom will be playing dual roles so I hope the kids get to where they need to go.  I know with the help of friends and family they will be fine.  I know one thing for sure, is that our house will never be cleaner.  Tom is a wonderful cleaner, so it will be better than when I left.

Oh and today Tom and I celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary.  Love you!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Home again

The joys of International Adoption just keep coming.  We left St. Petersburg at 6:00 a.m. and things went well.  The airport was very calm, and only 2 flights taking off that early in the morning.  We made it thru the check points with little to no problems.  I must remember to not wear a belt when traveling.  We had lots of time to wait for our plane to leave.  We left on time, made it to Frankfort without problems, we were going thru the check stations again have to remember not to wear a belt, when we heard of the Volcano erupting in Iceland.  It has sent delays all along the area and flights needed to be rerouted because of the situation.  We boarded our plane and waited in the holding area on the runway for about 50 minutes.  They were telling us with the rerouting it was causing an "air traffic jam".  We left and arrived home with no problems.

We are glad to be home, but heard the news that Russia is calling once again for a freeze on the adoptions.  This could affect us, because we legally do not gain custody of our daughter until April 27.  So we just pray again for Gods guidance, He has been very faithful and we have felt His presence in all that we have done.

Now the other part of the story, I don't know where we are going to stay when there.  I thought that I had an apartment reserved, but nope, once again it was snatched out from under me.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Today at 12:34 St. Petersburg time, a nice judge declared that we have a "POSITIVE" decision.

Tom and I didn't sleep the greatest, its not because we were nervous, it is just a hard adjustment getting used to the time difference.  I woke up early to skype the boys and then I tried to get back to sleep.  I had the alarm set just to make sure that we didn't oversleep.  We got up, got ready and our driver and translator came at 11:00 a.m. to pick us up.  I wore a black knee length skirt, with a black/white blouse, sheer hose and high pumps.  Tom wore a Black Pin Stripe suit, Red stripped tie, and black dress shoes.  We felt comfortable in our clothes.  We got to the court house and it was a very non descript building.  It was an old building that had just been redone.  We entered the building and there were security guards, and we had to walk thru a metal detector.  I'm not really sure why though because I had my purse and it beeped, but they just said go ahead.  We met with the court translator and she informed us of the protocol again.  We were told that the judge we had does not require a speech.  When it was our turn we entered into a room, it was not very large, and not like on t.v..  It had a spot for the Judge, Prosecutor, Baby Home Director, Ministry of Education Representative and a transcriber.  The Judge entered and we stood.  She went thru the proceedings and our translator stood right behind us so we could understand what was happening and not be looking at her.  We respected the Judge and had full eye contact with her which I think she appreciated.  Everyone said why they were there and then the Judge called me up to the stand.  I had to ask what experience I had in raising children, the fact that I had 4 boys she didn't really care.  She told me that boys are different than girls.  If I understood all of the medical concerns of our daughter and a few other questions.  It really wasn't bad or that long.  I sat and she called Tom to the podium, he answered her questions, she asked Tom more about the discipline of our children and how do we disipline them.  Do we believe in corporal punishment, and if we use time outs.  Tom answered and she asked again how do we get our boys to behave all of the time, and Tom had to reassure her that there are plenty of times that the boys are punished by taking away their phones, and Ipods.  She even made a joke about "how do they survive without a phone?"  Once he was done, we sat, and testimonies were made about how we bonded with our daughter during the visits, about how our daughter was happy with us and how we were experienced parents.  The judge left the room, she came back in less than 3 minutes.  We stood and she said POSITIVE DECISION.  We can have coustody of our daughter after April 27.  My Birthday!

We then left the court house and went to see our daughter, she is ours and we are hers!

Thank you all for the prayers sent our way, we could really feel Gods hand at work in all of this.  His grace and power is mightier than all.

                                                       In our apartment before we left
Entry to court house

seeing her again

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

2nd Day with our Daughter, Peterhoff

After waking up at 5 a.m. to talk to the kids at home, we went back to bed.  We slept until 11:10, which was kinda crazy because we were getting picked up at 11:40 to go to the orphanage.  The day seemed really good here, the weather was beautiful, Tom actually slept (finally) and he was in a better spirit.  We got to the orphanage and they put us in the "music" room and we waited.  They brought in our daughter and she was happy to see us.  Our translator actually left the room so that we could have some alone time with her and that was great.  I actually undressed her and got to look at her and I brought our "Gotcha Day" clothes with  us so that I can see if they fit.  They do!  She really opened up to us and we even got a few babbles from her.  No talking yet but lots of sounds.  She loves books and music.  Another item that she liked is this chew toy that vibrates when you chew on it, oh man they didn't have that toy when the boys were younger, but she loved it.  It was a special present from Andrew, he picked it out for her.  We spent about 2 hours with her and she really let us see her personality.  She wants to be very independant, which is probably how she survives being in an orphanage and she knows what she wants.

After we saw her, we took a ride into the "southwest suburbs" of St. Petersburg to a place called Peterhoff.  It is the Summer Palace of Peter the I.  It is famous for its many fountains and beautiful landscape.  Well right now, there is no water in the fountains and the landscape is not yet planted, but it was still beautiful.  The fountains are to open on May 1 and go until September.  It is located on the Finnish Gulf.  Tom really enjoyed getting out of the city to actually see grass and trees.

We are still having our court date for Wednesday, so thank you everyone for praying and keeping us in your prayers.  There are so many children in the orphanages here, and so many loving parents looking to have their children home in America.  It has been a truly wild ride in International Adoption, but it has led us to our daughter so God is good.

                                      Last night after we ate dinner around 10:00 (yes that late)
                            We get to look at this beautiful church everytime we walk out our door.
                                                                    It is truly amazing!

Outside of the Upper gardens of Peterhoff

Just one of the fountains that are supposed to be very beautiful

Finnish Gulf

Monday, April 12, 2010

Seeing Our Daughter

2 whole months ago was the last time we saw her. She has changed in so many ways, but has also stayed the same.

She still LOVES tags
She can WALK
She still has the same amount of teeth
Her hair is starting to grow
She is still very cautious when she first sees us

She is absolutly gorgeous and I don't think she remembered us. She did remember my necklace that I wore, and also a few of her favorite toys from before.

There has not been anymore development with the Russian authorities. From our translator the only thing she said is "It is a show now between the two governments". "New system needs to be put in place to protect the child from this."

We are to expect a very tough time in court, which is understandable. Tom is ready and prepared to answer all questions.

Yesterday was a beautiful day, we walked to the Hermitage Museum and we paid extra for an english guide to take us around. It was well worth the money because there is so much to see that we never could of appreciated it without her.

After seeing our daughter today, we went to St. Isaaccs Cathedral. It is magnificient.

St. Petersburg is truly a beautiful city.

First time holding Daddys hand



St. Isaac Cathedral

Tom on the top of St. Isaacs
We got to climb 211 spiral stairs up to the top

Saturday, April 10, 2010


We just arrived here in St. Petersburg under a dark cloud.  For those of you who have not heard there has been a couple of awful cases against Americans adoption Russian children.  The latest is this case which just happened on Friday as we were getting ready to board a plane to come to Russia.  Read it here:

It really is heartbreaking for that child, and for all the children here that are awaiting their permanent home.

I really don't have the words to say so I will just ask for you to PRAY.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Room is Done

Tom never thought he would ever see so much pink in our house.  But surely he loves it just like I do.  The room looks so cute, I even had Tom hang a chandelier, he thought I was nuts.  The boys asked if I could buy some clothes that didn't have pink in it, and I told them NO.  I'm loving it all!

Shelf with her Russian Dolls
We have left the space above her crib open, we are hoping
to find a great oil painting while in Russia
to put there
Rocker will I will hold her and read to her

Our small yet pink chandelier

Closet with lots of clothes

Leaving for Court

Today is the day that we leave to have our Court Trip.  As I mentioned we are leaving a few days early so that we can explore more of St. Petersburg.  We have rented an apartment with Oksanas, it is a different apartment than the one we stayed in before.  It is right across the Canal from where we stayed on our first trip.  We really liked the area, and we feel comfortable navagating the streets from there.  We will have court on Wednesday so pray that all goes well with us.

Our Apartment for Trip 2

The only thing this apartment dosen't have is
Cable T.V. for Tom
We did a lot of internet watching
and playing movies on the computer.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spring Youth Turkey Hunting

We left for the farm on Thursday and had a great trip down.  We stopped and ate at Texas Roadhouse where the kids love to eat, so do Tom and I.  I had my typical filet and the boys had their steaks.  On Friday we set out to set up the turkey blinds and it was a beautiful day, little windy but sunny.  We worked hard and the boys practiced their shooting.  After we left the farm, it started to pour, it rained all night.  When we woke up in the morning it wasn't raining so we set out for the Turkey Blinds.  We put out our decoys and we were ready to go.  It started out great, I was in a blind with Andrew and we heard a turkey near by at 6:15 a.m.  Not bad considering we just got setteled by 6:00a.m.  We sat and waited, but nothing, Andrew tried a couple of calls but nothing worked.  Around 8:00 a.m. it was POURING RAIN, THUNDER, and starting to get really cold.  Tom ended up taking his blind down and coming to get us.  We then started back to barn, no longer did we return to the barn, the sun started to shine.  Bummer.  Tom and Andrew went for a walk about to see if they could get any turkeys to respond to them.  Nothing.  So another year that I go Turkey hunting and I don't even see any!  All in all, I think I am a great hunter, I'm very quiet and I pay attention.  The boys will end up sleeping while I watch for turkeys.

Here I am, I wear all of Toms old clothes.
They are quite large on me.
you can see the rain coming thru the windows
right after we took the pictures, the rain started
coming in from the roof also.
A lot of effort for 0 results.
I guess thats why its called hunting!

We left Saturday night, because Easter was the next day.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

One Year Ago, Easter

Has it really been almost a year since I started this blog?  I remember thinking of Easter and how much I LOVE this holiday.  I love this holiday because I can really sit and reflect on all that Christ has done in my life with out having all the commotion of Christmas.  I smell the Lillies that are sitting here and I think about the oils that they poured on Jesus when they placed Him in the Tomb.  Oh How He Concured Death.  He is our Redeemer, Deliverer, Perfect Sacrifice.  My Heavenly Father has called me to be His and now I can not wait to show His Love to my daughter.  She will know Gods Love and I pray that she will one day come to Know Jesus as her Personal Saviour as well.


I feel sad when I watch the movie The Passion of the Christ, it is more of a physical reminder of what Jesus went thru on that Good Friday.  I sometimes wonder, do I do that to Jesus today?  Do I forget all of the blessings He has poured out on me everyday.  How can those Israelites be so blind I ask?  How can I be so blind? 

Lord, I pray that I will be a better hand maiden for you to use.  Amen


Thursday, April 1, 2010


Just thinking that my baby girl is 15 months now.  I miss her more than I ever thought possible.

Tyler - he is growing up so fast it makes me think, did we do a good job with him.  Does he have a strong conviction of who he is and is he proud of that?

Colleges we went to visit:

Western Michigan - nice size about 20,000 students.  Small enough campus that it is easy walking distance to everything.  Town close by to make it ok to go off campus.

Calvin - small Christian school about 2,000.  I liked it, Tyler did not think it was for him.

Hope - small Christian school about 3,200 kids.  I thought it was a very nice campus, close to a lot of big things.  Tyler liked it a lot. 

It is interesting to sit and reflect on your children and how each one of them are sooooo different than the other.  It is a weird feeling to know that Tyler will be with us for just one more year and then he is off to college, and then we have our daughter coming into our family. 

Tyler did not want to get his picture taken at any of the colleges we visited, but I did happen to snatch a few from bowling and Andrew while he was swimming.  Andrew got to pick the hotel we stayed at based on the pool.  He picked one that was in the shape of Michigan.  It was a nice hotel, thanks Andrew for picking a nice one.

Super excited boy playing a video game.

Andrew touching the "You Are Here" star in the bottom of the pool

Good picture of Andrew

Andrew while we were bowling

Tyler bowling, can you tell he was super mad at me for taking this picture


Picture to prove that Tyler beat me, and Andrew almost did!

Picture proving that I beat both of them on round 2