Monday, December 28, 2009
I will post more details (many, many more) soon, along with more pictures. It has been an amazing experience that I know I need to share with all of you. Thanks so much for your prayers and good wishes!
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
BUT.....after 4 days of travel, we are HERE!
Thanks for all the prayers, good wishes, and angel vibes sent our way---we have been SO blessed on this journey in ways I know that we don't even know.
MORE to COME!
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Final Grades all calculated and posted to the internet---check
Almost all paperwork for the embassy done and ready to go---check
Sinus infection---yep, but started on the z-pack last night---check
Packing---well, I do have tomorrow to get that done...
There's a light at the end of this tunnel! Now to go get some sleep after a nice, yummy dinner with my husband to celebrate the END of this crazy semester!
ONLY 1 day left before we leave on Saturday!
Monday, December 14, 2009
We got home late in the afternoon on Thursday, and I leave Saturday with my sister to head back.
Here's what's happened (or needs to happen) in the week in between:
Grade the set of Research Papers that I hauled with me to Russia that I never had time to grade (finished, finally, this afternoon)
Give finals to both of my classes (finished about 7:00 tonight)
Grade the finals, figure final grades, and post them to the college websites.
Recover from what feels like a sinus infection, but hopefully isn't
Get the paperwork, etc., and "stuff" ready to go and get it packed into suitcases, along with giving advice to my sister on what to take with her
Answer people who ask, "aren't you excited?" with "well, I WILL be, but I don't feel like I have time right now."
I'm sure that there's more...that's all I can remember right now!
AAAAHHHH! Just have to remember WHY we're doing this!
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
A blessed Sunday to all of you.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Joyously, NO problems other than the length of trip and that we were both tired to start with. Our luggage made it safely, and we did too. Now crashed in our hotel in Kaluga and trying to unpack and VERY HAPPY to have internet access this time. We're headed out tomorrow to see Karina (about 1 in the afternoon) and then court on Tuesday morning.
Seriously, SO MANY thanks to all of you for your words of support and your prayers. I am just going to try to relax now and enjoy the journey. Love you all!
From Kaluga, with much love,
Carolynn (and Stevie, too!)
Monday, November 30, 2009
I think the important stuff is done. We have tickets, we have visas, we have pictures for court and clothes for court. All that is really left to do is figure out what to pack and then pack it. I'd really like to tak a bunch of the stuff that we'll need for trip 3 and leave it there, so I'm trying to think of that stuff.
There is, however, all of the stuff of life here that still needs to get done. Two lectures to still finish up, a few papers (about 14 to grade) and all of that to make sure I finish before I can leave. I'd really like to come home and have my final exams ready to give on the next Monday....
I'm making lists. Anything that should be on them???
Oh, and I AM reading people's blogs---I'm just too darned scatterbrained to leave interesting or coherent comments!
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thanks. I'm a bit numb right now....
***Edited**** I just got off the phone with Carol at the agency. She said "don't worry" and that Kaluga has not been a region that has paid much if any attention to the blacklist. I'm going to try to "not worry" but I'm afraid that I won't be very good at it!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Plane tickets have been reserved, and visa applications went in the mail (Overnight) this morning. We leave on Friday the 4th and come home on Wednesday the 9th, if all works out as it should. We're going to be flying Aeroflot part of the way, which should be interesting (I flew on Aeroflot when I went to Russia for the very first time in 1996, and it was an experience---not bad, just really interesting!) We also had to pay for expedited visas, since Thanksgiving holidays are in the midst of our visa processing time. BUT: we're GOING! I've been so preoccupied with everything that has to get done between now and then, that I haven't had time to let this all sink in! Perhaps when school stuff gets a bit more finalized (I'm going to have to miss the last week of classes) and I have time to breathe???
Anything else I should be doing? I have an outfit for court, and the photo album is done. Is there something I'm forgetting????
We now return you to our regularly-scheduled program. Perhaps it's "Pigs in Space???"
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
So, we take you from the regularly-scheduled program of ................nothing................ to something that might be of actual interest: the progress on the nursery. It's not done yet (I'm a bit OCD about these things, and there's still stuff to do, like hang the quilt on the wall, pick up the pictures I had framed at Michael's and hang them, get organizer baskets, etc.,) but the state of the nursery is much more interesting than just "no news"!
I have to give a huge shout out here to my beloved and talented sister, the Princess Susan. She not only painted the tree on the wall (and I HAVE to tell you that she's not done or she'll kill me!) but she also designed and created the window treatments. Another HUGE thank you to her boyfriend Brad, who donated a whole afternoon of work and his tools to the project of putting together the furniture. They have both been rocks for us during this process, and we wouldn't be anywhere as close to done as we are without them.
Note that I also totally stole ideas from you guys--we have the same crib as Shelley, and the rosy-cheeked doll was part of Kristine's nursery!Hope that you all have a great week---I'll be back soon!
Friday, November 6, 2009
I wanted to post tonight about our 8-Doctor medical exam in Moscow on trip one, primarily because it was so different from what other families have described, and because I wanted to perhaps prepare people who are headed over in the future who may go through the same process.
First of all, Carol had told us that we needed to take with us our actual chest x-rays (not on a CD or DVD), along with a letter from our doctor stating that they were clear of TB. In addition, we took over copies of the bloodwork results for each of us, with each page signed and the results noted by our doctor. It turned out that it was incredibly helpful that we had all of this with us.
On Friday of trip one (we got to Moscow from Kaluga on Thursday, about 2:00 or so), we were picked up by our Moscow driver and translator and taken to what our translator Katya called the "Presidential Medical Clinic". It was very near Moscow State University. I asked if this is where the president goes for medical care; she told me that she didn't think so, but that his staff and government officials are patients there. We entered what looked to me like a gatehouse (in the picture below)
Friday, October 30, 2009
I stood outside my office for about a minute and a half, and became increasingly frustrated as I could not get my office door unlocked.
I then realized that I was trying to open my office door by using my car remote clicker. I was actually pointing my car remote at the office door and pressing the "unlock" button.
Thank goodness it is Friday!
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
My brain apparently has ceased functioning as it used to. I now have a serious case of Adoption Mommy ADD. (AMADD that would be, I'm thinking).
I sat down last weekend with full intention of posting a very thought-provocative, informative blog post about our time in Kaluga. I ended up posting some pictures, that, now that I look at them are like "What was that about? Was some crazy person running around Kaluga with a camera?" Now that I think about how to explain what I was thinking, I am at a loss. I will attempt to post the explanation for all of this sometime, but in this mental state I can't promise when that will be. I just don't know.
The baby furniture arrived Tuesday morning. Steve and our friend Brad spent most of yesterday afternoon putting most of it together. I just wandered in and out and offered to help and made white chili and bread for dinner. It all went pretty well, except for the part where they put the base of the dresser on the wrong end, and then all the drawers would have needed to go in upside down! It was easily fixed, they told me.
I stayed up way late last night making up the bed with the dust ruffle and sheet bumper pad. It is WAY cute--if I wasn't so big, I would have crawled in myself. I was sort of prepared for class today---it went fine, but toward the end of my lecture (about the unification of Germany) my brain just sort of went on shut down, and I found myself repeating myself--a lot! I am worried that my students are concerned about my sanity!
We did hear today that all of our documents are IN KALUGA! Now we're just waiting for the judge to check them over and issue the court date.
And there is SO much to do. I have about 40 papers to grade, find something to wear to court, get the court photo album together.....my head is spinning!
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Afternoon meal that we splurged on at the Black Bull restaurant! We had "Buffalo Wings" and "Onion Rings" as our appetizers (ok, we were really hungry at this point!)
Part of the Cosmonaut Museum in Kaluga--Tsiolkovsky, the Russian father of space travel, was from Kaluga, and the Cosmonaut Museum was located there in his honor and named after him.
Part of the main cathedral of Kaluga. The cathedral was built in the late 1700s for Catherine the Great's visit to the city. It's amazingly beautiful inside, and recently restored (some restoration is still taking place).
The view from the Cosmonaut Museum. Nadia told us this is part of the Kaluga reservoir
Saturday, October 24, 2009
The first couple of weeks were relatively easy. We were both SICK and we had an amazing backload of stuff to get caught up with, and then daily stuff that just needed doing.
But the last couple of weeks have been tough. We celebrated K's birthday last weekend by going out to dinner and registering for stuff at Tar-zhay and Babies-is-us. It was fun to shop (without spending much) but there were so many things that are still "wait and see." What kind of diapers, what kind of bottles, etc., etc. It all brings home that she's not here with us.
And I'll be honest. I am NOT focused on my job. I still do it, and I think I'm doing an ok job, but I just do not care about it like I used to. I have let some things slide that I normally wouldn't (granted, I did need to let some things slide!), but my heart is just not there. Even teaching Russian history is not as much fun as it used to be. I have papers to grade that I just don't even want to read (ok, granted, grading is NEVER fun, but I don't think I've ever put them off this long).
It doesn't help that so many caring people ask, "so when are you going back? Do you have any news?" I know they are trying to show that they care, but after answering for the umpteenth time each day, I feel like people are just tired of hearing, "nope."
This IS tough.
Sorry for the rant...I do feel a bit better now.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
The Odyssey is an epic poem by the Greek poet, Homer, (not Homer Simpson, just in case you were uncertain about that ;-) ). In this poem the hero Odysseus, goes upon a long and eventful journey, with perils and adventures along the way as he tries to make his way home, to a loving wife and son. There are many obstacles in his way, some of them seeming to be insurmountable, but Odysseus doesn’t give up, but just keeps striving to move closer and closer to home, in spite of those obstacles.
This past week felt a little like that for me, as Carolynn and I made our way nearly half way around the world, a journey of literally thousands of miles, in search of a little girl who was waiting for the ones who would give her love, a home, a family. There were some obstacles to overcome (long flights and the accompanying jet-lag, not always knowing what was coming next, some language barriers, and the nagging concern that there were people who still could say “No, we’re sorry, you aren’t healthy enough or young enough, or something… enough”). We also didn’t know what we would find as far as Karina’s health was concerned. While we were hoping for the best, and praying for God’s healing, there was a chance that something that had already happened could have done permanent damage (though we should have remembered that with God there is no permanent damage, just as without God there can be no permanent joy).
Being in a place where there are lots of signs around you, but most of which you can’t read, was a reminder to me of just how much it would stink to be illiterate (I even found myself searching the billboard ads to see if there was a word or two I could recognize). But for all of that, we had many blessings along the way as well. Two young Russian men, who though they could have taken care of their business with us in 2 minutes and left us there to wait alone for our contact, instead stayed with us until it was certain that we had made our connection as we energetically hammered away at the language barrier between us. There was a beautiful worship experience at the Russian Orthodox Chapel (2+ hours standing up, so not for wimps, but a full house with many young people and children in attendance). We also met a young woman who was trying to restore a church in her region, to try to combat their local crime problem. The priest told us to give the offering that we were going to give to his church, to this woman instead. It felt like a real “God thing”, being able to be an answer to prayer is always cool. J Nearly all of the people we met along our journey were friendly to us, some of them over and above what might normally be expected. We found the orphanage staff to be helpful, and genuinely concerned for the children in their care (this made it a little easier to face having to leave Karina behind this trip, though that was still very hard). The orphanage itself was getting ready to celebrate 70 years of service on their anniversary (which just happened to be the same day as my birthday, hmmm…). It was pretty clean and in relatively good repair (better than either of us expected to find).
But by far the greatest blessing of all was being able to meet Karina, who though she was also meeting us for the first time, seemed to gather us in to her world and accept us as if it were always meant to be. Though she was teething she still was a trooper, keeping a smile on her face most of the time. And teaching me that it really doesn’t take any time at all to be in love, and to also be able to see the joy in Carolynn’s face as she held her and played with her, helped us both to feel this long odyssey was still headed toward a home where God will continue to bless us all as we travel this road together.
Thanks so much to all of you, for your prayers, and encouragement, we are one step closer to “home”. And we thank God for this chance to share this joy with all of you.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
The wait has not been too bad until this last week. Probably because we've both been so busy since we got back from Kaluga that we haven't really had time to process all that happened yet. What with the LONG trip home, and then being sick as soon as we got home, in many ways it has felt like I just woke up from this very strange dream in which I dreamed I have a baby in Russia!
I know that we haven't waited a long time, especially compared with many other families, and I can't imagine how difficult this is (or has been for them). My prayers are with all of you who are still waiting for your child to be a part of your family. I will have to say that THIS waiting, between first and second trips, is different from waiting for the first trip to even happen. In some ways, this is easier--we know what we're waiting for, and why we're waiting. On the other hand, there are ways in which it is more difficult--we know her now, and in some ways don't understand why she isn't already here. I know that, perhaps just a year from now, we'll look back on all this and say that it was just part of the process, but now it is just not that much fun at all.
So, Happy Birthday, baby K. Know that there is a family who wishes you were here, and who can't wait to get you home so that you can blow out your candles, eat cake, and be loved and hugged to pieces!
Sunday, October 11, 2009
At SVO in Moscow! We're met by Dmitrii and Victor, two great Methodist guys!The video monitor on the plane---we're finally here!
On the plane to Moscow---I'm guessing this was early in the flight, because Steve looks really well-rested!
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
We got back from Russia LATE Saturday night. While we were there, we met the sweetest little girl in Kaluga, and we have officially signed the papers to petition the Kalgua court to adopt her. So, now we work on finishing up some "not quite so timely" paperwork, and getting things here ready to journey back for court.
We're both fighting colds (not sure if they came from Russia or since we've been home), so just basic stuff has been a bit of a struggle this week. Now that the weekend is here, I've decided that I HAVE to get you all caught up with what's been happening. I can't post all of it tonight, since my brain is a bit snot-filled, but I can give you some of the basic details, and then fill in other things later.
I stopped posting right after we had our fingerprints done--this was basically because we had sent the medical information that we had about baby Malibu to an IA doctor here in the US (in St Louis), and the IA doctor called us that week with an incredibly scary, worst-case-scenario report. We were both shocked, but we decided that we would pray about things and see what we felt led to do. We also managed to get hold of Dr. Togoyev in Russia, and asked him if he would follow up with some of the questions that our IA doctor had concerning bloodwork, etc. In the meantime, we received our visas, our fingerprint approval, and a bunch of other stuff that we needed to be able to go. And, there were just so many signs that we were supposed to go. We asked our close friends and our church to pray for baby Malibu, and to pray for us. But it was something that was very uncertain, and so we didn't feel comfortable telling everyone what exactly was going on---in part, because we weren't really sure. Up until the day we left, we knew we were supposed to go. We just didn't know exactly what we would find or what we were supposed to do about the referral, or how we were going to feel about potentially not accepting the referral. Looking back, I can see what a huge amount of stress this was--but at the time, we felt like we needed to keep things quiet from most people, mainly because it needed to be our decision.
The good news---God answered all those prayers! We met a little girl about whom we had really no doubts. The doctors' reports about her answered so many of the questions that our IA doctor had raised, and Dr. Togoyev's evaluation of her (which basically was the icing on the cake) was "take her home, love her, and she will be good." He said that he thought she was a completely different child from the one he had seen in June/July---she can sit up on her own, can stand up if you let her hold on to your fingers, and she is very responsive. I can't post pictures let, but let's just say that she is definitely a cutie-patootie!
So...more details later about our adventures in Kaluga and Moscow. We kept a journal for the first couple of days, but then we got tired and distracted by Malibu and sort of let that fall by the wayside. However, I will attempt to put those memories back together, so that I don't forget them, and so that I can share them with you all.
Hope you all have a great weekend!
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
We got to the police station early, which was kind of good because there was almost no place to park. We ended up parking about a block away and walking. We were still early, but that was also good, because they went ahead and got us in (some other person had missed their appointment). Steve's were great--in fact, the technician told him he had perfect fingerprints. Mine were a different story. She did most of mine three to four times, and said, "well, I hope this is good enough." Apparently I have "fingerprint problems" :-( and I had been drinking huge amounts of water AND used moisturizer. I'm just hopeful now that the FBI will accept them!