Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Greetings on my last Wed in Russia

Another email update to Aunt Leslie:

Things went well today. We went out at 11:30, so I was in a panic about what to do about lunch. I decided to feed him as soon as he got up from his nap. So, at 11:15, he was lunching away, and then out the door at 11:30. First we went to the passport office and picked up the children's new passports. Then it was off to the doctor. That took a while and Henry HATED it, cried like the doctor was trying to kill him or something. All she did was listen to his breathing, look down his throat and feel him up a little. I guess it was the whole 'getting naked' thing he disliked.

Then, it was off to the American Consulate. It was about 2 when we got there. I figured we would be there awhile, especially since our appointment wasn't officially until 2:30. So my mom rocked Henry and he was sleeping in about 5 minutes flat. He ended up getting to sleep for about 45 minutes, which is a liittle shorter than normal, but still not bad.

We were then going to go out to lunch, but the other little girls had had enough, so it was back to the hotel. It was almost 4 by the time we got here. So my mom and I snacked a little, and then went down for dinner at 5. We even ordered dessert tonight. We always say we will come back later for dessert, but we never do, so we just ordered it tonight.

I was telling my mom how much Henry has progressed in the time we have been here. The first few nights in the dining room with him was really not very much fun. After he was done eating, he had no interest in sitting in the high chair any more. Tonight, he sat (rather quietly) until my mom and I were both done eating. And he was in a very good mood. Mom went to check her email and he and I headed upstairs. He giggled all the way up!

Anyway, we are really on the countdown now, and they finally fixed to the TV tonight! A few more days and we will be on the airplane to head home.

Hope you have a happy Wednesday and I look forward to talking to you in the morning!

Sunday, November 14, 2004

An email update to Miss Anne

Just a quick note for you to let you know how we are doing. It feels like we have been here forever and we are now counting down until we get to come home (11/20).

As you saw from my other email, I got to pick Henry up right after court on 11/4. It all becomes official on Tuesday. We should have a busy week finalizing the paperwork and then we need to do some paperwork with the US Consul to get his passport and visa all lined up. A courier will take it all to the US Embassy in Moscow for us. She arrives back on Saturday morning, and we leave out on Saturday afternoon -- arriving back in Houston on Saturday evening. I am sure by the end of it, Saturday will feel like the longest day in my life!!!

Henry and I are adjusting so well to each other. In the beginning, he was totally a Mama's boy and did not want anything to do with grandma. It took him a good 4-5 days before he warmed up to her and allowed her to hold him and snuggle with him. So I guess that just goes to show that he did remember me from my previous visit. He is a sponge and seems to learn new things every day. Of course, some of the old tricks fall off for a while to make room for the new ones, but I am sure they will re-surface again (like saying uh-oh).

It is hard being cooped up here day in and day out. My coordinator has been kind enough to make sure we have what we need and take us to the market or baby store when needed. She has also taken us to lunch several days. It is hard to try and coordinate these activities between nap times - something I never had to consider before. I cannot imagine having done this trip without my mother. She has been so helpful in playing with and distracting Henry when I need to prepare his bottle or meals. Also, there have been times when I think she knew I just needed a few minutes for myself. And then we also trade off when it is naptime so we can check our emails.

Hope things are going well there for you and the boys. Can't wait to call when I get home so we can catch up on everything!! I miss our chats.

Is there anything more perfect....

An email update sent to Aunt Leslie, Aunt Nada, and Papa:

Okay, tonight I decided I am breaking my rule and sending a few pics for you guys to look at. Please feel free to print them out and show them to whoever you want, but please, I still ask that you not forward them on to anyone via email until after we are home. The first one captures his playful spirit. You can see the gleam in his eyes (probably was snapped just before he threw his sippy cup on the floor faster than mom could catch it!). The second is of him settled down for the night. His favorite crib toys to take to bed include his photo album and monkey - both of which you can see how close he keeps at hand.

Enjoy, and more to follow once everything is official and we are home!

A request for help from Aunt Cor-Cor

Hey Girlie Girl. Sorry I couldn't make your Mary Kay party, but I heard it was a blast....

Okay, tell me please what the secret to mixing bottles is. I cannot make Henry a bottle that we don't get to the bottom of and there are clumps and clumps of baby formula. It is maddening. It doesn't seem to matter whether I mix it in hot or cold water, or how hard I shake, I just can't seem to get it to mix. Of course, maybe it is the cheapy Russian formula that is to blame and not my mixing skills.

Also, what is a typical day like for Jack as far as what he eats? Henry starts the morning with a 6 oz bottle. This is followed by about 1/2 cup of cereal about an hour later. For lunch, he can easily down a jar of baby food, as well as a piece of bread (without the crust) and 4 crackers. For dinner, he usually will polish off two jars of baby food, as well as a piece of bread. Besides this, he snacks all day long! He gets another 4 oz bottle before bedtime. And then the next day, he gets up and eats it all again!

He knows the corner of the room where we keep his snacks, so he is all day long pointing over there and demanding "Dah!" (Dah means everything to him.) Then he will open his mouth and say 'ahhhh' while pointing to it to show me it's empty and needs some snacks. How funny is that???

Anyway, I really hope I am not overfeeding him, although I didn't think that was possible. And I am almost certain that my pediatrician said to let him eat as much as he wanted in the beginning. It hasn't started squirting out his ears yet, and he usually only has one BM a day, so I am guessing this is okay.

Anyway, we can't wait to get home so Henry can play with his buddy Jack. I can't wait until their first photos together. Jack will be the tall skinny one, and Henry will be the short fat one. (He isn't really fat at all, but he is solid for his size.)

And the wonderful response I received:

You didn't miss much at the MK party? We missed you though.

You are doing the formula perfect. Warm the water and then mix in the formula. Worked for me. Possibly could be the formula.

Jack eats a full bottle of 5 oz whole milk watered down with 4 or so ozs of water. I top off the bottle and then immediately a jar of baby food mixed wiht a heaping tablespoon of cereal. Nothing again til lunch. Then at lunch another full bottle of the same mixture of milk and water, and as many jars of baby food as he will eat. But usually only 2 mixed with cereal again. For snack just cheerios or veggie puffs. As many as he wants. Usually about 15-20. He is offered a water sippie cup all day and usually drinks 5-8 ozs thru out the day. He eats bits and pieces of my lunch. Not much, though. He will eat mash potoates, bake pototoe, mac and cheese, french fries (Can you tell he is definately my child) Not much meat. I offer whatever I eat. He will eat rice as well. Then at supper another bottle and maybe two jars of baby food/cereal. Then I usually give him a small lite yogurt. He always has room for that. Oh yeah he will hash browns from Whataburger and McD's. So all toll 3, 8-9 oz bottle and 5 jars of stage 2 babyfood. Just started stage 3 and has yet to finish one at a meal. He actually eats very little in comparison to others. And I ask alot. His ped said anywhere from 7-10 jars was normal. That seemed a little much to me. But what do I know.

O.k. Keep in touch. I am NOT mad that I didn't get a picture. I will wait for the real thing!! I love you so.

Aunt Courtney and cousin Jack and Uncle John

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Bleeny - yum, yum

Another email update to Aunt Leslie:

']]]]] ['''

Sorry for the minor interruption, Henry wanted to say hello.

Henry doesn't seem to mind being around people so much, as long as there is distance. He loves looking at new things. When we got out of the car at the aquarium, he was looking everywhere at everything and pointing and saying 'Dah!'. I think on the inside, you have to get so close to the glass to see what is in each tank, that is what unnerved him. It was too close. So as long as people don't all crowd him and get in his face, I think he will be fascinated to meet new people.

I can't wait to hear all of the other little things that have gone one while I've been gone. It is so weird to think that by the time I get home, I will have spent most of the month of November in Russia. Who would ever have thought that would happen.

Something seems to be going on at the hotel. I told you the English cable channels quit working. Well, for a while yesterday, we had no water. It really didn't impact us because it was at a time where we didn't really need water. But it seems that the water heater or something is out. It also seemed like the heating system was out for a while. Nothing ever to the point of causing discomfort (other than the tv!). But we sure are counting down -- the last Sunday we will be in Russia.

It is cold outside, so we will not have any major outings today. The sun is out, so we are contemplating a small walk after our afternoon nap. We shall see.

We have discovered Bleeny on the menu. They are like crepes and are served with jam. I finally feel like myself when I am eating them. Yum yum. Tonight, we will have left over spaghetti from last night. It will be good - at least it was last night.

Okay, gotta run. Henry is getting antsy and I think they are done cleaning our room.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Baskin Robbins - Russian Style

It is 3 p.m. here and we went to the aquarium today. Henry liked it, but at some level, it also scared him a little. He was just squealing the whole time we were there and you couldn't really tell if he was extremely excited or on the verge of tears. He was READY for his nap when we got back, was sleeping within 5 minutes of walking in the door. Poor little thing.

B&R was good. Very similar to the ones at home. I had a scoop of jamocha almond fudge in a cone. They did not have pralines and cream - bummer. There was a person dressed up as Minnie Mouse. How "ironic" is it that Henry's first picture with Minnie Mouse is in a Baskin Robbins in Vladivostok, Russia?

S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night! Okay, Morning!

Another email update to Aunt Leslie:

Good Saturday!!

It is about 10:20 and Mr. H is down for his nap. He had a hard time going to bed last night, but went down easily for his nap this morning. Go figure!

Not much to report here since the last time I wrote.

Glad to hear that it has cooled off there. It is cold here again today, although I haven't been out yet. I am glad your workweek is over. I'm glad it kept you busy but didn't make you crazy!

As far as the bathroom, he is a little less afraid. We go in there a couple of times a day and turn the water on and flush the toilet, so he can see that it isn't the end of the world. He will crawl up to the door and look in, but hasn't gotten the guts to actually go in there on his own yet.

Nada called this morning. It was nice chatting with her for a few minutes. And Dad called too, and talked to mom for a while. He said that he had printed the last Henry Update I sent and took it to bookstudy with him. The overseer read it to the entire bookstudy at the end. Imagine that! (He's the husband in the family that sent the stuffed monkey that Henry loves so much.)

Hey, you know what? Tonight is the LAST Saturday night that I will sleep in this hotel! Yeah! They had a big party here last night, and the way the hotel is built, the music drifts up the middle. It was so loud, no wonder Henry wouldn't go to sleep.

Okay, I'm off to check on my little man and see if Mom wants to send some emails.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Friday afternoon....

Another email update to Aunt Leslie:

Well, we did not make it to Baskin Robbins today. It is on the agenda for tomorrow.

Today, Irina did not pick us up until 12:30, so it was tricky to keep Henry happy until we got to the restaurant, since he usually eats lunch at noon. But I gave him snacks in the car and then fed him immediately when we got there. They had a high-chair, so he did pretty good. I made him stay awake in the car, because if he falls asleep, he will only sleep for a few minutes, and then will not take a nap in the afternoon.

So, when we got home, I took him out of his snowsuit and straight into the crib. He was not too happy with that, but then I gave him his picture book and within 5 minutes, he was sleeping. (I forgot to take his shoes off!)

Irina said that on Tuesday, we will go to court with the other family that is here, and then all of us will go to the office of vital statistics to finalize everything. Then they will bring us back to the hotel while the other couple go to the baby home to get their children.

On Wednesday, we will go to the doctor and to visit the consulate. Then Anya will FLY to Moscow (a 7 hour flight, so I can't imagine what it would be like in a car). I am not exactly sure when she will go or return, I just know that we are good to come home on Saturday.

So we are on the countdown now. One week to go, with lots of things to do to keep us busy.

It was only 38 here today. I think this was the chilliest day we've had so far. But it is supposed to warm up. We haven't had snow yet, so that's a good thing. And we can still go outside and walk, although Henry wasn't too happy about that this morning.

Thanks for taking care of those things in Henry's and my rooms. It will be nice for all of that to be fresh when we get home. I am still struggling with how to handle the flight and whether to treat Henry (food and naps) like it is the time here in Vlad, or the time at home, or when to switch between the two. I guess we will take it one hour at a time and figure it out together.

I thought some more about what we might need. I think I brought all the snacky food I had for Henry with me. He really loved the vegetable crackers (same brand as the fruit and veggie puffs). If you could pick some more stuff like that up, I would really appreciate it. I think we will be able to switch him to more table food once we are home. He loves bread and crackers. And he's eaten a few french fries, too. He eats so much I don't know where he puts it all (although I do know where it eventually goes!).

It will be nice to watch american television again. I think that may be one of the hardest things is that you cannot even turn on the tv for some distraction. The two english stations have been out of service for the last 3 days. One of them is BBC and it hasn't worked for over a week. So we were stuck with one station for several days, and now none. It doesn't help to turn it on if they are speaking Korean or Russian.

Tomorrow, we are supposed to go to the aquarium and Baskin Robbins after lunch. So it should be interesting to see how Henry reacts to the fish. Anya says there is a crocodile there. He loves watching the birds, so hopefully he will find the fish just as exciting.

Thursday Evening / Thursday Morning

Another email update to Aunt Leslie:

Greetings! It is about 9 p.m. here and the little man just fell asleep a few minutes ago. He was a wild one today. He was playing so hard after dinner that I had to put him in the stroller and take him for a walk just to calm him down. He was practically running to all of the areas in the room that he knows that I don't like him to play in so that I would chase him. If I did follow him, he would giggle and giggle. He thought he was just so funny. But when he gets like that, he starts throwing himself around and I was afraid he was going to crack his head open on something. So, off for a walk and he calmed down some. But he did not want to go to sleep tonight. Finally, clutching his stuffed monkey, he wandered off to sleepy time's house!

He has become such a little power-hungry man! When I was feeding him dinner tonight, I was feeding him a meat combo and a vegetable. Well, he decided he would only eat if I was holding the jar he wanted me to hold. So if I was holding the combo, he would point to the veggies and say 'Dah!'. If I didn't switch and pick up the veggies, he would keep his mouth closed. So then I would switch and he'd take a few bites, and then 'Dah!', he wanted the combo again. Too funny! He has really started teasing mommy and thinks he is just got me wrapped around his finger (which he does).

I know it doesn't really work for you, but the best time to call us is first thing in the morning. We are almost always up by 7 a.m. and in the room until 9. Then we may step out for a little walk before our morning nap. Even if you called during his nap, he usually sleeps well and we have the tv on (when it is working!) and it doesn't bother him.

Irina is probably going to pick us up around 11:30 tomorrow, too. I don't know what we will do tomorrow, but we passed a Baskin Robbins today and suggested a stop there would be most welcomed. So we shall see.

My appetite is so-so. I eat every meal, so don't worry that I am undernourished or on the brink of dehydration. I just can't eat very much yet. I am excited that maybe by the time I get home I will have lost 10 pounds. Won't that be a nice little side-effect. I should have brought some of my Ramen soup -- that would have tasted good on several occasions. At least my stomach no longer knots up every time Henry cries. I am getting used to him and even when he gets really worked up, I am just focused on calming and comforting him. He really is uncomfortable when he gets a gas bubble and screams bloody murder.

He looks at the little photo album that I had made for him all of the time. I put it in the crib when he goes to bed, and it comforts and calms him and many times he falls asleep looking at it. So I am hoping that he will come home feeling like he already knows you.

So yes, they changed our tickets to the same flights on 11/20. We find out tomorrow for sure when our consulate appointment it. We go on Tuesday next week to finalize all of our paperwork for the adoption (the 10-day wait is up). Then we have to have a doctor's appointment for the consulate, and meet with the consulate, and then 'Big Anya' will take our stuff to Moscow, and then we will come home. So next week may be a little busier than this week (which would be good to help the time pass by).

Tuesday, November 9, 2004

Wednesday morning / Tuesday night

Another email update to Aunt Leslie:

Hope you a pleasant dinner with Ashley. Hope you had a margarita for me! That sounds good right about now (okay, maybe not now at 10 a.m., but maybe tonight with dinner it would be good).

I am feeling better and better each day. My appetite is not great, but I am eating something for every meal, so that is an improvement over a few days ago. My energy level is good and we actually stayed up until 10 last night. We were so proud of ourselves. That is the latest we have managed. It helped because we slept until about 5 this morning. We wake up early and then go back to sleep.

Henry is an excellent sleeper, when he finally falls asleep. At night, he likes to play in his crib so long I think he is never going to fall asleep. I look forward to when we are home and he can be alone in his room because I think that will help him calm down. This morning, he woke up early (6:50) so I put him down a little earlier for his morning nap. He was a little cranky, which is unusual for him, and he was sleeping within 10 minutes, which is also unusual for him. He usually plays for about 30 minutes. He fell asleep with his head on his picture album and his arms clutching a stuffed monkey that my mom's friend sent for him. He loves the monkey very much.

Irina is going to pick us up at 11 today to take us out. It looks kind of dreary and cold out, so I am not sure what we will do. We are going to drop some laundry off (should get us through the rest of the trip) and go to the ticket office to change our tickets. Irina is supposed to call and confirm our appointment at the embassy today so we should know with certainty when we can come home, although she has consistently told us that it would be 11/20. I can drop you an email later after we have officially changed the tickets, because I know you are anxious to get your invitations out and know for sure when you will get to meet Henry.

We have done good at getting into a good routine (although we may mess that up today with our outing). You are not going to believe what a happy baby he is. He just smiles and giggles so much of the time.

I have gotten much more comfortable with his crying. My stomach no longer clenches and I no longer feel the need to keep him from crying. If he doesn't want to change his diaper, well, too bad, it's ucky and needs to be changed, so he may need to cry a few tears. He's come to accept the end of his bottle a little better. He has slowed down in his eating as he gets more comfortable that there will always be more for him on a regular basis.

He has warmed up some with my mom today, too. He was actually snuggling with her while I was getting ready this morning. So I know that he will warm up to you and love you dearly, too. I put him in his little carrier thing today and walked around. He seemed to fit in it fine and not mind it -- I was a sweaty, piggy mess though. So we will see what use it has on the travel home.

I put him in his green frog outfit today. He is so very adorable in it, but it just fits him. So he will not get to wear it for long. He likes the way it feels and it looks cute with his little bobux sheep shoes.

I can't think what else to tell you now, except that I miss you. My trip is half over (yeah). It seems like I have been here forever and will be here forever, but I know the time will pass and Henry and I will always treasure this time that we had to get to know each other, even tho we missed Aunt Leslie.

Give my little girls and snuggle and pet from me. I miss them, too, and wonder constantly what they are going to think of my Henry and he of them. I am sure they will get along just fine and become fast friends.

Oh, did I tell you that Henry can point to his nose? He loves to show you where his nose is, and where your nose his. We are working on ears now, but it is slow going. Every day is something new...

Monday, November 8, 2004

Dear Doctor

Dear Dr. XXXX (the doctor at the IA clinic I used),

This is Paula writing to you from Russia. We went to court last week, however, even with your great letter, we did not get our 10-day wait waived. So we will be here until 11/20.

I have one concern I would like to ask your opinion about. I was given custody of Henry while we wait, so he is here with me in the hotel. A few nights ago, I was putting the scabies cream on him and he got pretty upset (he is 15 mos old). He started crying and was inhaling to let out a big wail. He kept inhaling and inhaling and it was like he got stuck. Then he started turning blue. Obviously this freaked me out big time. I had no idea what to do. He wasn't choking on anything. I tried patting him on the back and talking to him. I think at some point, he must have passed out because then he was back to normal and even stopped crying. I think now I am a little over-sensitive. He has not turned blue again, but there are times when he is crying where he seems to just not be able to breath.

I have read that sometimes children will hold their breath when they are upset and that they will eventually pass out and then be fine. I am hoping that this is the case of what is happening here. This is making me so nervous that I can hardly eat or sleep.

Do you have any words of advice for me on this topic? Thank you for any assistance you can provide -- even if only to give me some peace of mind. You can email me back or call me at the hotel (I am in room 315). I am in Vladivostok and we are 16 hours ahead of Houston.

And the response I received:

What you describe sounds exactly like a breath holding spell. The good news is that children cannot hurt themselves-- they will pass out first. But I agree it is a very scary thing to see! Your instincts were absolutely correct; the best thing to do is try to help them calm down and “catch their breath”. Lots of holding time (if he is amenable to it) may also help as he learns to trust you some more.

It is not a seizure or anything else, and the more you two get to know each other, the better it will get—mostly because you will get used to reading his “signs”.

Take care,


Sunday, November 7, 2004

Another update to Aunt Leslie

Good Sunday evening to you, from Late Monday morning from Me!

Henry is napping now so I thought I would check my emails. He is doing so well. I wish I felt better. I did pretty good yesterday, ate a granola bar for breakfast and had some soup for lunch. But I just couldn't deal with dinner. And then I went to bed with Henry.

I think part of my problem is nerves. So I am taking some stomach stuff today that my Mom gave me and I am going to try and have a shot of vodka later tonight to help calm my nerves a little. I am so worried about taking care of Henry and doing everything right for him. Hopefully, it will settle down in a day or two and I will feel back to myself. I also think that the weather here is making my sinuses act up. I am taking half dosages of cold medicine, and while it helps my stomach, it doesn't do too much for my head!

Henry enjoys going for a walk, but then he didn't want to take an afternoon nap yesterday. I tried to get him to go down, but he just played and played and would never go to sleep. So finally, I got him up and we played some more. My mom had gone to check her email and I needed to go to the bathroom, so I put him in the crib for a few minutes and he fell promptly asleep (at 5 p.m.!) I was freaked out, because certainly he couldn't sleep through the night going to bed that early. And we hadn't had dinner yet. Well, fortunately, he only slept for about 45 minutes, but he sure was cranky when he got up. But I had the opportunity to get him ready for bed and give him his bottle. I put him back down about 7 and he played quietly in his crib for about 30 minutes and then finally went to sleep and slept until 7 this morning. So we are working on his naps today. I am not going to let him sleep so long in the morning and then I am going to try and get him down earlier in the afternoon. I may take a few days to make this adjustment for him, so we'll see.

He loves to sleep with his legs outside the crib. I've taken pictures because he is so cute, but then I tuck them up in the crib because I don't want them to lose feeling. When he is going to sleep, he is all over the crib, rolling around and playing with his feet on the side, but once he falls asleep, he doesn't move. It scare me sometimes and I have to check if he is still breathing!

Okay, well I better get back upstairs and check on him and my mom and see what they are up to. If he isn't up yet, I will need to wake him in a few minutes. I hate to do it because he is cranky when you wake him up, but he needs to nap in the afternoon, too.

Another update to Titi

The time difference between Russia and home is 16 hours (Russia is 16 hours ahead of you). So, if you call in the late afternoon or evening, it will be morning here (4 p.m. your time is 8 a.m. here).

Amazingly, we are staying pretty busy. When Henry is awake, we play and play. We went for a walk yesterday, which he enjoyed, but then he didn't take an afternoon nap. So we will have to do that differently today. He sleeps through the night with no problems. He goes down at about 8 and sleeps until 7 or 7:30 each morning. Sometimes he whimpers a little during the night, but I get up and pat him in the back and he goes right back to sleep. He loves mealtimes and will even eat the things that he doesn't like very much, like his morning cereal. His bottle in the morning and before bed is his favorite and he cries when it is empty.

We are taking lots of pictures and I will email some to you when we are home. It seems like we have been here forever and it will be forever before we get to go home. But I am sure the time will pass quickly enough.

Saturday, November 6, 2004

Update to Aunt Leslie

Henry is such a happy baby, he really is. He woke up when Nada called this morning, but he just sat up in his crib and started smiling at me. My mom came out of the bathroom and started talking to him and he just started giggling. He will be sitting playing contentedly by himself, and then look up and see me watching him. He just breaks into a big grin and many times will come across the room to hug and snuggle with me.

He is a little sponge and is just soaking everything up. The first day, he was saying uh-oh, except when he says it, it is more like uh-ah. He absolutely loves his stacking cups and can stay entertained stacking and unstacking them forever. He loves putting things in them, too, so I am glad that I brought him some smaller cups.

He loves to let me read to him, but I can tell that he wasn't used to this at all. When he first got the book, he really didn't know how to open it or look at each page. We read brown bear over and over again, making the animal noises for each page. He anticipates the last page that has the goldfish on it because I make the goldfish face and he loves to stick his finger in my mouth, just like Sara did. And then I kiss him and he tries to make kissing noises back. He is close to being able to throw kisses and will do it if Irina tells him in Russian. He does wave hello and goodbye, pretty much on demand.

I am feeling a little better. I took half of a dosage of cold medicine because I think that my sinuses were draining into my tummy and that was causing me not to be hungry. I do feel better and my stomach is actually growling now, so I am going to have some soup for lunch. I also think that it is a bit of nerves, like, 'oh my god, I am responsible for this little boy' and whether or not I am doing the right things to care for him. I am certainly learning from my mistakes.

He is a very good eater. I am thinking that he is allergic to milk since he would get very congested when I gave him his bottle. So I switched to the soy formula and it seems to be better. He absolutely loves his morning and bedtime bottles, but cries when they are sad. I've learned to distract him right away and he gets over it pretty quickly.

I think his problems with baths is not necessarily the water - he hates the bathroom. I took him in one yesterday to change his diaper and I think he about had a meltdown in there. So we are trying to get him to go into the bathroom little by little to see that there is nothing to be afraid of in there. We put his little frog thing in there and pushed the button to make music and he almost crawled in there to get it. Just stopped at the doorway and looked at it and then gave a little speech to it in babytalk, probably telling it to come out of that scary place. I gave him a 'sponge' bath this morning and he really loved that...just layed there and let me wipe him down and put lotion on him. I thought he was going to go back to sleep.

Well, I could go on and on, and I am looking forward to getting to talk to you in a little bit. We will be going down for lunch at about noon, and then should be back up in the room this afternoon for naptime. He seems to sleep through whatever noise pretty well, so don't hesitate to call. It helps to hear from home.

Friday, November 5, 2004

An update to Titi

He is very entertaining. And he is good on his own, he plays and plays and does not require constant attention. When he realizes you are paying attention to him, he just grins...he is not used to having attention. Nana is sitting with him looking out the window and they are watching the birds. He gets so excited everytime he sees one. He loves music, and will dance when he hears music. We took him for a walk in his stroller yesterday, and he just sat there and seemed to enjoy it. I don't think he really has been outside very much, so he is just taking everything in.

Thursday, November 4, 2004

It's Official. I'm a MOM

Greetings from Russia!

Here are some pictures of the courthouse.

Just wanted to drop everyone a quick note to let everyone know that, as of 10 a.m. Thursday, November 4, I was granted the adoption of Henry.

Although our 10-day wait was not waived, I was able to get custody of him. We went straight to the baby home to pick him up after court. We are having fun getting to know each other better. He has already started taking steps and I imagine he will be running all over the place by the time we get home.

The decree will be official on 11/16 and I am expecting that we will return home on 11/20 (a week later than anticipated).

Thanks for everyone's well wishes and I look forward to you all getting to meet my Henry.

Paula and Henry (and Nana Pat)

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Our first visit on Trip #2

Our visit with Henry was wonderful. I don't think he remembered me at first, he cried really hard when they first brought him to me. But I started reading to him and the sound of my voice calmed him down and then I think he remembered who I was. My mom was amazed at the transformation of him from when he first came until it was time to go. At first, he was withdrawn and unhappy and wouldn't smile. By the time we left, he was giggling non-stop. So having him with me full-time will make such a difference. When they came to get him, he actually cried because he didn't want to leave me. Then my mom started crying. Oh boy!

Irina really doesn't think we can get immediate release, but she is going to make one last attempt by calling the judge tonight. The American Consul is on vacation and the substitute is giving her a hard time about taking care of it. She is hoping maybe the judge will be sympathetic and give us release so we don't have to worry about it.

Court will be at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning. Irina says we will go straight to the baby home after that and get the children. Yippee! We went to the baby store today and I got more food and diapers for him. So we should be all set.

I don't think he grew very much during the last month. He looked pretty much the same and the outfit he had on was 3-6 months. I think it must have been mis-sized because he is certainly bigger than that. I guess we will see how is clothes fit him.

Tuesday, November 2, 2004

Arrival in Vlad

Hey, we had a few minutes before dinner. Unfortunately, we did not get to go see the children today - Irina needed to go and talk to the judge before court on Thursday. She makes it seem like it is a slam-dunk and the court is just a formality. I hope it goes smoothly. However, she really is setting us up that the 10-day wait will not be waived. I guess we'll know for sure in a couple of days.
We are having a hard time staying awake, so we will probably go to bed right after dinner. I'll try giving you a call in the morning (afternoon your time) and then we can try the calling cards that we have.

All right, that's all for now. Looks like the internet may be working a little better so we should be able to stay in touch a little better this time around.

Monday, November 1, 2004

A note from Seoul, Take 2

Just a quick hello from Seoul. Everything is going fine - nothing eventful at all.

Hopefully, I can drop you more of a note tonight with an update after seeing Henry

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Well, I am sitting here after I have filtered through all the crap that piled up on my 'adoption desk' over the last month. Since submitting my dossier, obviously there hasn't been a lot of things I've actually needed to sit at this desk and do. So, now, it is pretty much cleared off and will be moved to make way for TOYS!
I've picked up my prescriptions for Henry (an antibiotic and the scabies creme). I've gotten my fresh bills from the bank. I've gotten my embassy paperwork together. Henry's suitcase is packed. I think I'm ready to go.
Well, okay, there are a few more things that need to be taken care of. But it is going to be hard to get these next 10 days to pass by. They are taking forever. I couldn't believe when I woke up this morning, it was only Wednesday! Argh!
You asked what size clothes I was bringing for Henry. Well, I am bringing some size 9 mos, and some size 6-12 mos. Different brands size things differently. I had measured him from the nape of his neck to the crotch of is outfit. I measured all of my outfits based on that - and unless he's grown tremendously in the last month, I am hoping I am okay. I told Leslie, if they don't fit him, guess I'll have to go shopping!
What size are you bringing for your DD? How much food are you bringing? Are you planning on putting her back on the bottle at all? It is so hard to know what the right things are to do, but I am sure it will all work out okay.
Oh, and I did decide to bring the umbrella stroller. I think it will help in the airports, and probably other times as well.
Okay, can't think of anything else right now - except I don't want to work anymore!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Top 10 list for Thursday

Here's my brain dump for today. I keep thinking "Oh, I need to tell xxxxx...." So here is my top 10 list for Thursday:
1. Cheryl told me that we need to give Irina back the $$ she gave back to us. Wasn't sure you had received that message.
2. I went to the liquor store today and have my tequila and cognac, so I'm good on that front.
3. IA doctor confirmed that Mr. Henry has scabies and is calling in prescription(s).
4. Dale says we don't need to staple anything into our passport - the sticker visa is all we need for the next trip.
5. I don't want work anymore.
6. Henry's room is all put together and waiting for him now.
7. I have no idea what to pack for Henry.
8. Barb hasn't called back with any travel info yet.
9. I don't want to work anymore (although, I may have already said this).
10. Three weeks from today, we will both offically be parents!

Monday, October 11, 2004

A thank you for my baby shower

You guys really outdid yourselves. I cannot tell you how blown away I still am about the whole thing!

Everything was beautiful - the tables with the diapers, the candles in the baby food jars, the 'count the jelly beans', the 'sign the picture frame', the tooling (I'm sure I am spelling this wrong) on ALL of the chairs, the baby sock corsage, the 'It's a Boy!' sash, and I could go on and on and on. And yes, the cake was yummy!

Every one was so extremely generous, especially all of you! I appreciate all of your hard work and creative minds. I appreciate your enthusiasm over all of the things, big and small, that I received for Henry. And most of all, I appreciate all of your endless support and bottomless hearts in loving me and Henry. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!! I love you all so very much. Henry is one fortunate little boy to come home to such a special extended family.
All this is said as I listen to Cookie Monster sing "C is for Cookie and that's good enough for me!"

Monday, September 27, 2004

A note from Seoul

Here I am at the internet cafe in Seoul. It is $2 for 50 minutes, so I figured I could afford to drop you all a note. :-)
The flight to LA was uneventful, I slept some. My layover in LA was about 2 1/2 hours. The walk to the international terminal was about 1/2 a mile, but it was good to walk around after sitting so long. I found the other couple that I am traveling with. They seem very nice and down to earth.
Remember the little girl at the end of my referral video (Violetta)? That is their little girl. How ironic is that!!
The flight between LA and Seoul was looooonnnnnngggggg. Fortunately, it was not full, so there was an extra seat next to me. I managed to sleep about 6 or 7 hours. They served two meals and they were okay.

I will be here in Seoul for another 2 1/2 hours. We are wondering whether we will go and meet the children right away, or whether we will get to freshen up. I feel like I am a sweaty, stinky mess. So I am hoping we get to freshen up.

Okay, guess that's all that I have to report for now. It is 7:30 in the morning here, and 5:30 in the afternoon (the day before) at home. So I'm not sure when you'll get this message. But I wanted y'all to know that I got this far safe and sound.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

A video with no words that says everything

Since I am writing this retrospectively, it will be in past tense. However, for chronological reading of the blog, I am having it post against the day the events actually occurred.

On Tuesday, August 10, 2004, I did in fact receive a fedex package from my agency. In the envelope were several things, but the most important of them all was a video tape. I had contacted the International Adoption Clinic at Texas Children's Hospital on Monday and told them that I had received a referral and asked what the next steps were. I had decided to hire them to look over my referral information to help me determine the potential health of the child being referred. An appointment was set for Friday afternoon, with the request that I forward whatever details I get ahead of time so they could review it before we met.

So now, here I am in Chicago with a copy of a video tape of my potential son. I ran around to all of the conference rooms that had video players and could not get the tape to play on any of them. I wasn't sure if the issue was with the players or the tape, and didn't want to ruin the tape. I also might not have been thinking very clearly and may just have been doing something wrong. But it was making me crazy that I had this video tape and no way to look at what was on it. I spent a good part of that day calling all over the Chicago area trying to find a place that could duplicate a video tape. I needed to get a duplicate sent off by Wednesday in order for it to get to Houston in enough time to beat my Friday appointment.

I finally found a place that was about an hour away from the office. So as soon as my last meeting of the day was over, I bugged out of there to the duplicating place. There was some question about what format the video was taped in as they could not initially get it to play, either. But then it was so surreal to stand in the middle of this hi-tech video room watching this video. Tears were streaming down my face and I felt the need to apologize to the folks working there as I explained to them what it was they were seeing on the tape. To them, it looked like a grainy video with no sound of a little boy (or was it a girl) playing with various toys. They were very understanding of my tears and wished me the best of luck.

When I got back to my parents' house, everyone was extremely anxious to watch the video. We watched it over and over. At the end, my sister Margot looked at me as said "How can you not say yes! As far as I am concerned, that little boy in the video is already a member of our family. He's my nephew. You just have to say yes." Of course, she didn't understand all of the risks and nuances. She didn't understand that the IA doctor could tell me there was a huge potential for health issues. She didn't understand that even after saying yes, I could lose the referral to a Russian family who stepped forward. I just couldn't look at it as simplistically as she was. She was looking with her heart, and I had to include my head in the decision. I just kep telling my family that I would have to wait until after I spoke with the IA doctor and got more information.

Of course, I was falling and falling hard. Part of me already viewed this little boy as my son. But I couldn't admit that to anyone, least of all myself. I had to maintain distance and clear headedness. I had to be objective and not be swayed by emotion. But secretly, I let myself start dreaming about what life would be like with this little boy. I had names picked out. One name for a fair child, and a different name if the child had darker hair and complection. I didn't allow myself to attach either of those names to this child in the referral...not yet. It made my family crazy that I wouldn't even tell them what the names were. I wasn't telling anyone (except Leslie) and now was not the time to share.

On Wedensday, August 10, I pulled off one of the hugest "fake outs" in all time. You see, my wonderful co-workers had taken advantage of the fact that I was actually in town and planned a shower for me. I was in awe of their generosity. They had purchased many of the larger things off of my registry. But instead of leaving me to figure out how to get them back to Texas, they had ordered them online to be delivered to the house. But to ensure my excitement at receiving these things, they did something completely ingenious. They downloaded images of the items from Babies R Us and made iron-on decals of them. Then they actually ironed the decals onto little onsies. I still have those onsies, with pictures of things like a baby bath tub, and a play pen on them.

The fake out part comes in that I was not ready to discuss the referral at all with workmates. So everyone who attended and asked if I knew anything yet, or had any idea when I would travel, or how old the baby would be, got flat out lied to by me. "Nope, it's making me crazy but I have no idea. I'm just waiting for the phone to ring and tell me all of that information."

My co-worker Anne was the only one that knew the truth and I knew I could trust her implicitly. She supported me and gave me the strength that it was okay not to share at this stage of the game. She got to hear the dreams and the fears that were running through my head. She got me through the shower and through the rest of the week.

Monday, August 9, 2004

We have a baby for you...

Since I am writing this retrospectively, it will be in past tense. However, for chronological reading of the blog, I am having it post against the day the events actually occurred, August 9, 2004. Ever since that day, my life has never been the same.

And to really understand my mind set on that August day, I need to step back even a few more days. Lets start with August 5. It was a Thursday, the day that I had my regular calls with my adoption agency. I was in the "waiting" stage where there was nothing further that I could do and waiting is not something I do very well. So as I spoke with Bridgette at EAC, I just kind of dropped a comment about the fact that I had a major milestone facing me the next day: my 40th b-day. Even though I don't celebrate my birthday, it was still a huge milestone and I thought it would be great to mark that milestone with a referral.

Bridgette laughed at me and encouraged me to be patient. She indicated that I really hadn't been waiting long (only since Memorial Day weekend, so about 2 months) and that they were telling folks that it was leaning more towards a 4 month wait for the referrals to come in.

Friday came along and Leslie and I had tickets to see Prince. We were in pretty much the last row of the upper deck of Toyota Center, but you can hear just as well from there. I did spend a lot of time that day thinking that it was the last birthday I would spend as a family of 1. The rest of the weekend was a blur.

But come Monday morning, August 9, I was due to go on a business trip to our office in Chicago. I was planning on being up there for the week, and my very generous co-workers had coordinated to have a shower for me while I was there. I dreaded the conversations that I knew would occur: "Have you heard anything yet?", "Any idea how much longer?" and the like.

I boarded the plane and promptly fell asleep, even before the plane took off. About half way to Chicago, I bolted awake. I don't believe in premonitions or the such, but I can tell you that at that moment, I KNEW I was going to get a call with my referral that day. After a few moments, I began seriously chastising myself for allowing myself to even contemplate this. Afterall, just four days earlier I had been lead to believe that it would be about 2 more months before that would happen. The rest of the flight passed without event.

The office is about 20 minutes away from the airport. I believe I stopped and picked up some lunch and was just settling in at my desk when my cell phone rang. I looked at the caller ID and realized that EAC was trying to contact me. I grabbed my cell phone and ran outside to answer it. Sure enough, it was the Referral Department at EAC. She informed me that they had a referral and at first she said it was a girl...I about fell over. I hadn't specified a gender, but based on the way that Russian Adoption works, I fully expected to receive a referral of a baby boy. She quickly corrected herself and told me that is was a boy. She rattled off a bunch of information to me.

She was very cagey about the age, just saying that he was a little older than a year. At this news, my heart sank. I really was hoping to get the referral of an infant, not a toddler. But I tried to keep an open mind and as she went on, I realized she was building up to something. Turns out, guess what? He turned 1 year old on the exact date that I turned 40. That kind of changed everything for me, my heart began to melt. She promised to email me a photo and fedex a video and file.

Here is the picture I received:It was like looking at a baby picture of my nephews. And those eyes, how could I not fall in love. Now all the research I had done told me not to get attached to the referral and not to fall in love with a photo. And I tried, I really did.

Of course, I had to call Leslie immediately and forward the photo to her with the promise under threat of death that she would tell NO ONE.

I had always felt that when I got my referral, I wasn't going to tell anyone until I had accepted. But now, here I am in Chicago with all of my family. Could all of this really be happening all around me and I not tell them? I didn't have it in me. As soon as I got to my parents that night, and everyone came for dinner, I spilled the beans. Check a coming post dated August 10 or August 11 with highlights of how the rest of the week panned out.