Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!!!

Between the Halloween party at school (Because kindergarten is so stressful that you just have to get your party on every month or so!!! Those were the days!), trick-or-treating at the mall while waiting for it to get dark and then trick-or-treating for about an hour in our neighborhood, I would say we have all fulfilled our sugar quota for this year, next year and the next! It was perfect weather here this year. Usually it's at least blowing gale force winds.


Here are some shots of our son as a scary glow-in-the-dark skeleton. The costume was really too big, but the next size down was way too small. I have no idea how he could tolerate that mask as it was 80 degrees here! His hair was completely sweaty when he took it off. Now that's dedication...




Notice the Crocks! He at least had ventilated feet while his entire body was encased in polyester!



Happy Halloween!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

COURT DATE!!!!!


YAY!!! We got our court date confirmation today!!! Monday, November 10th! Dan and I are leaving Saturday, Nov. 8th and will head back to the US the day after court. Then, there is a 10 day waiting period after the court date. Mom and I are heading over most likely November 19th and then bringing home Cassiana either on Saturday, November 29th (her 1st birthday!) or if we are finished with all of the paperwork, etc. earilier, we are leaving on Thursday, November 27th, Thanks Giving! We can not wait to see Cassiana again and to have her home for good! :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Waiting...


Hang in there, everyone! We are waiting on a definitive court date, which could be very soon. In the mean time, we've been getting the house even more ready and making sure the baby has the necessities like 5 pairs of little shoes and multiple dollies in pink dresses! :)

Friday, October 17, 2008

We are home!

We made it back late yesterday evening. Our son had a great time while we were gone w/ my Mom, but we missed him so much and he missed us! We didn't have enough time to go thru passport control and customs in Houston yesterday, so we missed our connecting flight. They didn't have any other flights, so we just rented a car and drove 7 hours home! We were painfully tired, but were bound and determined to make it home. Turns out we got home quicker than if we'd made the flight (which was connecting in Denver and then flying here).

We flew from Moscow to Houston on Singapore Air (took 12 hours). They are wonderful if anyone ever gets the chance! It was similar to first class on our domestic flights, minus the larger seat. They fed us every time we turned around w/ good, hot food and gave out hot towels several times. Also, there were tv's in the seat that we could watch movies on (probably 50 choices) and tv as well as games, etc.

Time to prepare more for Cassiana's arrival in earnest now! We are putting up the crib this weekend and getting more clothes and shoes, etc. Finally we know what sizes to buy! Her room is pretty much ready as far as painting and decorating go.

Anyway, a quick update to let you all know we made it back and are eager to get back to see Cassiana again before court! :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Russian Sweet Baby has a new name!!!

We signed the petition to adopt today and named our baby girl! Introducing:


Cassiana Kay Patterson

We are so thrilled, thankful and grateful to be moving along with the process to adopt Cassiana. She is such a sweetie! We got to see her again this morning for 2 hours. She was very laid back the first hour, probably because it was right after her nap and lunch time, so we took turns holding and hugging her, which she loved.
Next, she played with toys and crawled around a bit while we look another 20,000 pictures! Then, she just wanted to be held and snuggled with. So, it was marvelous to hold her and rock her! I'm sure this hasn't been an often experience for her, if ever, so it was bonding us together already. She held tight to my sweater as I rocked and sang to her. We also got several good smiles out of her. She seems to hold these back, perhaps because it's not part of her normal experience as well. That's alllllll about to change! She will be immersed in love and silliness from now on! :)
It was very hard to leave her today, but they really do a wonderful job of taking care of the kids at this baby home, so that helps tremendously.

Here are some photos and video from today.
Big girl, standing up! She seemed so proud of herself for pulling up and standing up. She should be! Her romper was so tight, that I'm not sure how she was able to fully extend her legs, but she did.




Smiling! She really looks like Dan in this one! :)

Dancing with Daddy!



Playground behind the baby home:


Snuggly baby!






Getting sleepy...
Smiling and playing airplane...
video
Pulling up and smiling...
video
Practicing walking...
video
Playing with tape measure...
video
Some sights we saw while driving to orphanage:
Bolshoi Ballet under renovation
The former KGB (now called something else) and that's all I'm going to say about them, no I'm not paranoid, are you paranoid, no not me! LOL!
Statue of the first Cosmonaut. He looks a little Buzz Light Yearish...
Christ the Savior Cathedral...
Where we ate after meeting the baby yesterday, Patio Pizza---yummy! The girl at the door had those earrings that make huge holes in your ears and thru those she had thread what looked like rabbits ears on chains dangling down!
A new meaning for "double parking"...I'm still amazed at the parking and driving skills needed to maneuver around here! At one point yesterday, there was a truck to our left and 3 rows of cars to our right, all shucking and jiving to get into one lane of traffic! It was crazy! Also, if you are in a single lane of traffic and it's all backed up, it's completely okay to zoom by everyone on the wrong side of the road to go around. Fortunately, our driver did not go to these lengths! :)
A road sign, this one kind enough to be in English as well for the "Nikitskiy"...
When we were waiting today to go into the playroom to see the baby again, an orphanage working kept coming and going from the room, closing the door behind her. Naturally, I thought, there must be some top secret orphanage business going on there that isn't for our eyes.
Finally, we were allowed in, so we removed our shoes and sat in the chairs. What we saw was hilarious! The working was in the corner sitting in a regular sized chair, grating carrots with a cheese grater like she was in the Carrot Grating Olympics with the carrots going into a bowl on a child sized table. I don't know if the kitchen was being mopped or what but she kept leaving to get more bowls, some what looked like black olives or raisins to cut up and then some pecans. She turned her back to us because, while we weren't staring, I guess she didn't want us to break her concentration in this very important event and who could blame her, right? I think she was probably hurrying because she had who knows how many babies/toddlers waiting on their lunch! :)
Here is the table and chair (I didn't think she would like it if I took her picture!):
And, this is our hotel lobby and room. Thought you might want to see they are the same (well, actually nicer) than the Courtyards in good old Amur-ica.
Lobby full of extra skinny folks. They walked with turned out feet, so possibly dancers. They were smoking lots, too.

We miss our son so much and can't wait to see him and for him to meet his new baby sister! We will all be together very soon! :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

P.S.

I just noticed that all of the pictures are dated a day off! That's because our camera is set up for US time and you all are a day behind us speedy Russian folks!

Holly

We have fallen in love!!!

Okay, for those of you waiting on the edges of your seats, we are finally back! It's 7PM, so it's been a long, wonderful day!!!! :)

I will skip to the part that interests you most and then detail the rest of our day. We met our Russian Sweet Baby at about 12:00 today. She is beautiful! She has dark eyes and dark hair and is 10 1/2 months old! We got the all clear from the International Adoption doctor today. He said that she looks wonderfully healthy. She is also developmentally where she should be and we haven't charted her height and weight yet, but I think she's definitely on the charts, which is rare for a baby in an orphanage. Plus, she is such a happy, laid back baby. She was very slow to warm up to us at first and cried a few times at first, so we just took it slow and followed her lead. After a while, she was babbling (also rare for orphanage babies) and smiling some and we even got her to laugh! She can crawl, roll over, pull up to standing position and even cruise (again, amazing for her circumstances). We even got her to clap, possibly for the first time! (Video to follow of this.)

You will hear her Russian name in the video, but we haven't decided on a name yet, but will have to before tomorrow morning when we sign the petition to adopt. We have some ideas, but will wait to release that until we are sure! :)

Here are some pictures and videos. We actually got to see her twice today for a total of about 3 1/2 hours. The first visit was 2 hours and then we had to wait on the doctor because traffic was bad, but we didn't care because we got to spend more time with her.




Okay, let me start from the beginning of our day. We were driven to the Dept. of Education today for our appointment to get our referral. We had an interpreter with us as this involved more than "please" and "thank you." I was expecting to see maybe one lady behind the desk, but there were 4. They asked us to tell them about ourselves, our home, etc. We did that and then they gave us a black and white copy of a photo of our baby girl to look at! They then asked if we wanted to meet her and we said YES! Here's a photo of the Dept. of Education right after this meeting:

Next, we were driven to the baby home where our baby has been waiting for us. I have a video of walking up to the baby home for the first time. The gentleman leading the way is our driver. Click on the arrow to make the video play and turn up the sound on your computer.

video

Inside (and out), we found this baby home to be incredibly nice! This is not the norm either when it comes to orphanages. Next, we waited outside of some frosted glass doors. We didn't know what was inside.

Inside was the playroom where we would wait to meet our baby girl. Here are photos of the playroom. These are little Russian chairs with a special kind of painting, the name escapes me:

Then, we went over the baby's history. She is fit as a fiddle! After this, they brought her in!

.

Here is video of Dan holding the baby for the first time.



video

Video of baby smiling for first time, starting to warm up to us, but still tentative.

video

Crawling and sucking her thumb:

video

Babbling and playing w/ blocks:

video

Laughing:

video

Pat-a-cake:

video

Cruising:

video

That's all for now! We're exhausted but a great exhausted!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Weeee!!! Look at the big city!


We had nothing adoption related planned today, so we set out to see the city. Our hotel is a perfect distance, as it turns out, from Red Square and also from the tourist area, Old Arabat. We thought we were headed to Old Arabat first, but when we saw the Kremlin (way in the wrong direction!), we thought, well, since we are here, we'll swing by there!
It was rough trying to read these signs in the Cyrillic alphabet since I know about 3 of the letters. I taped the alphabet on our bathroom mirror at home, but I guess that 6 months of looking at it every day didn't do much. Some of the signs have the English version of the street name underneath, but my maps (we had 3!) only had Russian, so it was seriously like being in a foreign country or very similar. LOL!
So, today taught us what it will be like for our baby girl when we take her home. Everything is new and confusing and takes so much energy trying to make sense of the sights and sounds of every day life, outside of the orphanage.


Front of our hotel, Courtyard Marriott (notice the ample parking our front)

View from the restaurants hotel, looking across the street (we don't know what church this is)

A real live babushka


Parking in the lines is for wimps


More thinking outside of the box parking (does a sidewalk have a right-of-way?)




This is a parking lot, but I have no idea how the folks at the back ever get out!




As I mentioned yesterday, traffic is bad and people do not yeild for pedestrians and they drive as fast as they can when they can (I didn't see any speed limit signs, but maybe they look way different than ours). So, to get across the street, there are a few crosswalks, but mainly you either run for dear life or use one of these underground walkways, which would be especially nice when it's a blizzard outside. The first picture is the sign indicating the walkway.


Now, this is what happens when possibly you are under the influence of some outside substance and you try to cross the street the old fashioned way. This poor guy stood here for several minutes, and finally someone let him across. Cars and buses were whizzing by him and I thought for sure that on Day 2 of our trip that I would witness my first fatality.




Since there were no police witness reports to fill out, we made our way over to Red Square. On the way we found a sign we could almost read: Sbarro! I'm not a huge fan, but it was very comforting to be able to see something familiar. (It's on the left on the green awning.)


Next we see the Kremlin. It is massive and pictures do not do it justice.
The second is the corner of Kremlin with Cathedral in background.



Then, as we started over the hill, we see what is surely a mirage...




This is St. Basil's Cathedral, my favorite of all of the buildings we saw. It is just breath taking! The next time you see this, it will be one of our new baby girl and me as it's tradition to take one before you leave for the U.S.


The top of St. Basil's

Across from the Kremlin in Red Square is the Gum Department Store. It is 3 stories of all kinds of shops from Hermes to Levi's

Inside of Gum
I'm not sure what this massive red building is, but it sits opposite of the St. Basil's in Red Square.
While we are on the topic of buildings, it looks like when they are renovating them, they make a copy of what the building looks like and then attach it to the outside while it's being redone. Seems like a lot of trouble if you ask me! This building was huge and completely covered with a fake cloth front.
Next we headed to the tourist area. It is a pedestrian street called Old Arabat with all sorts of souvenir shops and restaurants. We got some great stuff for our son and some keepsakes for our daughter.
We ate at a cafeteria/buffet called "Moo Moo" but they spelled it "My My." You'd think Americans have never crossed their threshold. We did our best job of pointing and saying, "Eta paraloustra," which means, "That please," but they wanted us to call it by it's name. Well, we didn't play by their rules and showed them! I ended up with this horrid olive broth soup that was supposed to be cheese soup and some weird meat dish that look deceptively good all covered in cheese. Dan had some sort of meatloaf (we are hoping of the cow variety) and some potato things and he said both were good. We both had cranberry juice that was yummy (they only seemed to serve juices, no milk from a moo-moo?). I would like to go back and point to some different things. The prices were excellent, so worth a trip back to try some other mystery dishes.
Inside of My My (maybe it's My My for, "My, my, that olive broth is awful!") They have the cutest high chairs w/ cow spots. I've heard that high chairs of any kind in restaurants are rare.
Any first trip to Russia blog isn't complete without a comment on the fashion. Here are some pictures of women with skin tight jeans (hey, if I were a size 00, I might go for it, too!) and red spiky heeled boots. Check out the last lady attempting to haul her luggage around in those heels! I hear they even wear them when it's icy out!
The women are for the most part very slender here. I've heard 2 theories: 1) The food prices are outrageous---who would eat ice cream if it were $30 a pint in the states! That would do us all a favor! and 2) Many of them smoke. So, I will just give up ice cream and start smoking? Nope!
Lastly, I have to end with a very cute shot of a boy in a snowsuit on Old Arabat. It looked like his grandmother was also in attendance, hence the obligatory snowsuit in 50 degree whether! I saw several other children and they just had on coats w/ mittens and hats that covered the ears and no babuskas yelled at them.
So that's all for this episode of "Wee, look at the big city!" Stay tuned for tomorrow when we meet our Russian Sweet Baby!!! (Again, spell checker isn't working, so fend for yourselves.)