Monday, March 30, 2009

Blog Access Further Details

More specific info on accessing blogs: If you are accessing a blog like this that has been restricted to invited readers, and you are using a email address "other" than a Gmail address, then you are merely accessing this blog on a 30 day visitor pass. Meaning that unless you get yourself a gmail acount (also known as google account) and get reinvited you will no longer be able to view the blog after 30 days.
For your information: a gmail address (also known as google account) is good for ALL google services and there are many of them including setting up blogs on (aka
I know... I sound like I work for Google but I don't. I do however believe in the trend that computing is moving to the clouds... literally, all computer services are moving up into the clouds and the "fat client" PC as we know it today will be toast in 5 yrs or less.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Blog Updates / Ideas

That irritating "pop up" that asks you with which program you want to open it, has been fixed. It was due to the widget showing the time in Novokuznetsk on the right side of the blog. Since when I put it there, I cut out a line of code that was displaying ads under the time, it must have decided to start emitting this annoying popup since it could no longer pay for itself with flashing ads there.
Since this was our first blog and we had our share of quirks with it, I have been looking into porting it to WordPress to see if it wouldn't be better the blogspot (aka Blogger) but, after messing with it for a few hours, I've decided to keep it here on blogger. Blogger seems to be the lesser of two evils so to speak.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

People and Culture images Posting Question.

On our last day in Novokuznetsk we walked around the city with Debbie and Kevin (the other family we traveled with) and I took various pics of people. Just to show the people and culture of Novokuznetsk. I have not posted any images of people I noticed, so if people reading the blog are interested in seeing "people and culture" I could post a bunch of images like that, just like with the buildings and architecture post.

Nice to be home again.

Hi: We arrived back home last night at 12am. My family picked us up at the airport in Minneapolis. All our flights were on time, and went like clockwork. Except for our one damaged bag. We checked in at the desk to see if anything could be done about placing a damaged baggage claim but there was one other elderly couple ahead of us trying to figure out where their lost luggage was at. After 25minutes of waiting behind them I decided that "hey, these guys LOST their luggage, ours merely got damaged. I think we'd better feel lucky." So we left the counter without placing a damaged baggage claim. The bag has served us well in the last 4 years and was pretty cheap to begin with so at 12am we didn't feel like waiting indefinitely to file a claim for this cheap well traveled bag.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Places we visited.

This is a souvenir shop we visited today. They had these interesting 3-D paintings (not sure if you call this painting) on the wall for sale. Also, some even nicer stuff with birch wood. You could hear the artists/craftsman working on their projects in the backroom so all the stuff is made in-house.

Arriving back at the hotel after supper in the dark, the hotel is quite a local landmark. The lighted fountain makes for a festive atmosphere in front of the hotel.

JJW Family Version 2.0 Beta

This is Drew, King of the Jungle, Tarzan, master of movement and all things funny. Last time we visited Drew in October, I was somewhat embarrassed when I got him over stimulated in the first hour of our visit, horsing around. Today, I saved it for last and wasn't embarrassed because I knew its the last time we visit him before court. So they'll simply have to forgive us for being loud and boisterous... Drew needed it anyway.

This is Demitri. He's very shy, not accessible to strangers and cried bitterly when his caregiver left him with such cold and mean strangers as us. He came around today and was a much happier participant. He started some one-on-one bonding with Jen today after deciding she wasn't such bad a caretaker after all.

Our 2009 Year wish is to make a family portrait like this again with all of us wearing our Sunday's best, but that would require us all being home in Minnesota instead of at the babyhouse in Siberia.

Scenery and buildings in Sibierian Countryside

This post is a unlabeled, uncommented post featuring images from the countryside, traveling to the babyhouse. Its somewhat nostalgic for me as a Hutterite. Seeing people here dressed so much like our own culture definitely has connection to us.

Luck in posting continues

Arriving in Novokuznetsk after the 4hr flight from Moscow its something like 6:45am now and in this airport you land and disembark on the tarmac and get shuttled to the building which is about 1/2 mile away.
Riding the Shuttle Bus to Novokuznetsk Airport building after getting of plane on Tarmac.
Walking into the Novokuznetsk Airport Terminal. Big welcome sign overhead, with birds chirping in the tree to the right of us. The sun is about to come up here.
The infamous damaged bag got lost again. Here I'm waiting for this damaged bag. We had all our luggage except this piece. Finally, Debbie (the couple traveling with us) spotted it leaning against the wall by doorway. Someone took it off the luggage conveyor and put it by entry. Whew.. .escaped without loss again!

Getting off the plane here in Novokuznetsk we finally meet up with the couple from NewYork that we traveled with to meet our children. We will be traveling with them for the rest of our stay here in Novo.
Here we meet our coordinator for the first time this trip. (arranged by the adoption agency, works for the adoption agency) The driver of the van is also a regular driver for the adoption agency. (Please tell me when we will get the diesel engines in our vans back home.)
Hotel Novokuznetsk, upon arriving in Novokuznetsk at 6:45am in the morning they took us back to the hotel to check in, and will pick us up to go out to the babyhouse at 9am. So we had time to clean up, get bright eyed and bushy tailed before meeting the boys. This hotel doesn't look like much but the enmities are all there, very decent and good services here, has home style mom-daughter cooking in the tiny corner on one floor.
This is the couple from New York (Kevin and Debbie) that are traveling with us to adopt as well. We are traveling in the Toyota Hi-ACE Diesel Powered van featuring LazyBoy style seating. Somehow adopting folks share some qualities and we've hit it off with all such couples we have met.

We were standing in the Domodedovo Airport in Moscow waiting to go through customs and right in front of us in our line there was this couple carrying a stroller, toys and other baby items but no baby. So I tapped him on the shoulder and asked if he was in the adoption process and he turns around "yeah, we are here to take home our child from eastern Russia." They are from Chicago and were coming to take home their 2yr old son. So we got to talking with them for the 15min we were stuck in this slow moving customs line.
On our way to the babyhouse to meet the boys on the first day we got stopped by the police for going 9kms over the speedlimit. I asked if it was the city limits but the coordinator said it doesn't matter whether in the citylimits, village limits or out on the open road you can normally go 9-12 kms over the limit. This police didn't think so. Our driver had to go sit in the police car while they wrote him a ticket. My pics through the van windows are bad because the windows on the van are always dirty or fogged in.
This post ends here and I will do my next post, before I post any pics of the boys, with just scenery and buildings I photographed while driving thru the countryside on way to the babyhouse.

Wow... stuff is starting to work on Blogger now.

Our flights turned out to be “uneventful” until we got to Domodedovo Airport, whereupon arrival we went to claim our luggage and it seemed to be the only luggage that hadn't arrived yet. Everybody from our group was already gone and we were still asking around for our luggage. A lady working at the airport got on her squalkie talkie and interpretted back to us that it would be 7min late. Well, our minds weree going “why is only our luggage late?” We would soon get the answer when 20min later she brought it over to us. Our main bag, the heaviest and largest one whose survival I've questioned on the previous trip already, was limping along on one wheel; the rollerblade wheels on one side were totally gone along with the frame for the wheels. Our luggage was searched via their random luggage searches.The only reprieve we were offered for the busted bag was to file a claim with American Airlines to get compensation on return to the USA.
At this point we were already running 1hr behind regular schedule and making our way through this huge airport with (personally, I had no hopes of still meeting up with our coordinator who had been arranged for meeting us here and helping with arrangments for next leg of journey.) all our luggage, dragging along the heavy broken one which now is like only half its weight is riding on wheels, the other half is just dragging on ground. When to our surprise we meet someone holding up a paper sign with “WIPF” on it. Despite all our delays with our luggage and finally finding our way to the exit, the coordinator had asked the airport to page us already, had looked in various places, wasn't sure if we even arrived on this flight, none of us knew of each others efforts but, it all turned out well in the end.
Having first real meal on foreign soil. This is at the AirHotel at the Domodedovo Airport. Just walking distance from the airport is this hotel that we stayed at. We had just gotten the time difference straightened out in our heads, and thought we had 1hr for supper before heading over to the airport to fly from Moscow to Siberia, and sat down to eat our food and Jen decided that we didn't have 1hr but rather 10mins and so we gulped down the wonderful food in a few minutes and hurried up to grab our stuff and something clicked in her head again and she said "no no its right... we have 1hr before we need to be back at the airport. So all the wonderful food could have been wonderful for even longer.

(Jen here, let me explain myself about the time issue: on the plane upon landing in Moscow, the pilot, or whoever does the talking on the PA, told us the time for Moscow. I found it confusing, I knew Moscow was 8 hours ahead of us at home, and the pilot announced the time as only 7 hours ahead. Now, which is it? When catching a flight, you can't take such chances of being an hour out on the wrong side. And being sleep deprived doesn't help, especially if you've over-thought the situation. Turns out the pilot's time was wrong...and was still wrong on the way back, but we made it on our next flight. But ya, Jonte was being yanked around a bit, eat slowly, no... quick eat, it's ok. :)

Considering my luck with this blog so far, I'd better post this blog and start a new post. I don't want to break my chain of luck now.

Still testing, trying to enter 2nd Picture

Flying over Russia, still lots of snow and winter here.

Arriving in Moscow on American Airlines. Our flight avoided having the travel through Moscow in dense, smog and traffiic from one airport to the next. Which is what we did last Ocotober. This time our flight went directly to Domodedovo Airport. The cool neon green S7 (aka Siberian Airlines plane) is the type of plane we took from Moscow to Siberia. S7 operates primarly in these outlying regions of Russia. For such a small airline they are very nice actually, and have mostly newer planes.

Still testing, trying to enter photos.

The TransAtlantic voyage about to begin. This is a Boeing 767 300 ER which happens to be also the same plane Delta used last time we flew. We are now using American Airlines which we find somewhat more friendly. If you haven't noticed, I'm still trying to successfully post my first picture posting in this blog.

Hi to All Readers

I'm quickly posting this to inform all followers of this blog that it is not for lack of trying that no pics, videos etc have shown up on our blog up to this point. I spent 4.6hrs last night trying to post pics, videos and 3 days of activities on here to no avail. First I figured out that Google; the owners of BLOGGER and CHROME BWOWSER don't have things all figured out and somehow nothing seemed to work. So I lost 2.5hrs trying and finally switched to Firefox and then stuff worked better but, all my text that I had typed into on the way over generated oodles of errors when i pasted it into the blog from After over 4hrs of trying I gave up and went to bed again at 5am Siberia time. But, todays visit with the boys made up for all this lost effort. So I'll try posting some pics now using all my new knowledge of the blogger.

Monday, March 23, 2009

1st Day in Novokuznetsk,Siberia

Just a quick line to say first days visiting with the boys is now over and we are back in the hotel. Rest of the afternoon is ours to kill. We will post a whole lotta pics and blog later tonight. Its too nice to stay inside now; its bright and sunny outside so we are all going outside now.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

From Moscow

We have a few minutes here before we board the plane from Moscow to Novokuznetsk, Siberia. The time here is 9:20pm Sunday night. We have a 4hr flight to Novo from here. We managed to sleep about 5hrs at the AirHotel here next to the Domodedovo Airport in Moscow. What a relief that is to get some sleep on a 11hr layover after 24hrs in the transit system on various planes. We have pics and lots to post but this will have to do for now and we will post more after the next 8hrs are over and we are back in our hotel.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

First Leg starting...

Well, lunch is now over and we're waiting for our flight to leave Minneapolis around 2:35pm today. Lunch was hosted by the French Meadow Bakery and Cafe; an all organic, all healthful menus place with all 'organic" prices too. One of those joints where you pay premium for convenience in the airport I admit it was very good quality and taste to almost match the price. We are now in the "holding pen" waiting for the call to board.

Comments are a method of support as well as feedback for improvement of this blog. Comments posted on this blog are viewable by all invited/approved blog readers.

The Journey Begins...

So the time has come, we are leaving our home here in southestern Minnesota for the Minneapolis Airport! I know our blog has been all words and no "play" but, stick with us... the jpegs are coming!

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Friday, March 20, 2009

NEW Feature!

New feature added: There is a live countdown counting down the minutes to meeting Drew and Demitri on March 23rd, the coming Monday at 10:00AM Novokuznetsk time, on right margin of blog.

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Friday... the Day of Packing

The time was 3:23pm March 19, 2009, I was holding my ear to the floor in my classroom for the 37th time and to my delight I hear the distant thundering of the horses hooves on the hard-packed gravel road! Surely this must be the StageCoach Express with the 2-Day Express Parcel! Woohoo... the parcel that arrived contained our Passports with the appropriate Travel Visa's attached!

Since both the family we will be traveling with (who are also meeting a child) and ourselves having all been there on previous trips, one anticipates a smoother, less eventful trip; you know what to expect, you know the process, the culture, the food, the hotels... may the visitation & playtime with the boys be the highlight of this trip. Sure it was last time, but when your in sheer survival mode yourself, its difficult to embrace the moment, to be "in" the moment. It was somewhat a zombie state of being after being in the transit system for 36hrs prior to meeting the boys.

1. Official Paperwork DONE
2. Communications and Gadgetry DONE
3. Clothing Not-Done
4. Food (non-perishables) Not-Done

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The time is finally here, tomorrow we travel!!

March 21, Saturday.

2:35 pm - Leave MSP (Minneapolis/St. Paul) (1.5 hr flight)

4:05 pm - Arrive at O'Hare in Chicago

5:25 pm - Leave Chicago O'Hare (9hr 45 min flight)

March 22, Sunday

11:10 am - Arrive at Domodedovo Airport, Moscow

10:15 pm - Leave Domodedovo (4 hour flight)

March 23, Monday

6:20 am - Arrive Novokuznetsk

We will be met at the airport by our coordinator and taxi driver and taken to our hotel. At 9:00 am they will pick us up again and take us to the orphanage (1 hour drive). We'll be at the orphanage from 10:00 to 12:00. We're then taken back to our hotel where we are on our own until the next day, 9:00. So we can walk around, tour the city or just sleep.

March 24, Tuesday

Just like the previous day, Monday, except that today we sign papers to accept our referral.

March 25, Wednesday

7:40 am - Leave Novokuznetsk via Siberian Airlines (4 hr 35 min flight)

8:15 am - Arrive Domodedovo Airport, Moscow

1:30 pm - Leave Domodedovo (11 hour flight)

4:30 pm - Arrive Chicago O'Hare

7:40 pm - Leave Chicago O'Hare (1.5 hr flight)

9:10 pm - Arrive MSP (Minneapolis/St. Paul)

This is the plan.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

It's the last Thursday before the trip!

Update regarding "posting comments" on this blog; notice the new message about comments now reads "all comments posted on this blog are viewable by all invited readers of this blog." Originally, I thought it was allowing limiting the reading of comments to authors and for various reasons this would have been a desired effect but, apparently not possible.

It's really chilled off here again; we're sitting at 35 F right now under clear sunny, beautiful skies. We are also sitting on pins and needles here waiting for Fedex to deliver our passports which for some reason the embassy ships back to you on the latest date possible. Not sure why they postpone returning it at the last moment; either to make you sweat out the final days of such already nervous affairs, or whether for legal purposes. Either way, it doesn't sit well with me until our important documents are all back in our possession. Jen being proactive, phoned them on Tuesday (3 weeks after sending them in for processing our visas) and they shipped them out on 2-Day StageCoach Express. The tracking is saying they should arrive today but, my experience with Fedex has been one of the stagecoach era where you can't be certain of any deadline they put on a parcel. Perhaps a wheel fell of the stagecoach, or bandits held it up in St. Louis, or lightning forced them to seek shelter, or a train derailed, or a passenger on the stagecoach threw up, you can never tell with Fedex.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The last Wednesday before Saturday.

Since this blog started out in beta version a week before the trip, I'm trying to post progress towards the trip each day this week. I admit, not much to report today. We were in Rochester (our fair city, as click and clack would say) today getting odds and ends for the trip. We recalled all the wishes we had from the previous trip and tried to remedy them; like last time we were there it seemed we were always hungry and would have paid $10 for a can of tuna and a few crackers at 12:08am at night. So we got various items of non-perishables rounded up. In a foreign country where the language barrier puts enough stress on you to not want to leave your hotel room, such minor tasks as getting something to eat can be daunting tasks.

From our first trip in November when we met Drew for the first time, I will never forget holding him on my lap and watching him eat Organic Animal Crackers we got from HyVee; just holding this perfect child, watching him, the idea of him being there free for the taking, happens to be one of the most touching moments of our adoption process.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tuesday before Saturday!

Another gorgeous mostly sunny day with temps in the lower 60's here in southeastern Minnesota. Jen mentioned today that the robins are here and spring is another week away. Today marks the "last" Tuesday before the trip to Russia this coming Saturday. Preparations for the upcoming trip are now past the "mental" preparation stage; we have started packing things and putting projects on hold at work.

Also, the Haven Power Sweeps played (at 4 Seasons Arena in Kasson, MN) their final game of the 2008 Hockey Season today! Our own outdoor rink was just ruined enough to render it useless approximately 6 weeks ago and since then we've been going to 4 Seasons Arena each Tuesday for 5 weeks now. Have I got some raw footage for you! See the hard hitting, wood splintering, ice cold action in this minute preview of video to catch the high energy and excitement during each of our games. Some of the guys were proudly wearing their brand new helmets today. (Still trying to figure out why there wasn't a single fan in the stands.)

Monday, March 16, 2009

The "last" Monday before the trip!

A gorgeous sunny day here, thats forecasted to reach temps into the 60's F and is well on its way to doing so. In the meantime, between teaching, we are busy mentally unhooking, unbooking, putting on hold projects that we are currently working on and thinking, preparing for the upcoming trip this coming... Saturday. Yes, all such trips start with "mental" preparation first.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

My first post on the world of bloggery

A warm welcome to everyone reading our blog. A skeptic of such virtualities as blogging, I'll try to soften up a bit to the idea and maybe try to have some fun with it along the way.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Our Second Trip to Russia

March 6, 2009.

  Today we got the call for our second "first trip". This one is to meet Demitri, our second boy. He is 14 months old. We will also spend time with Drew, as they are in the same babyhouse. Like the first time, we will be seeing them for 2 hours, 2 days... 4 hours total. 
  We will be leaving on March 21 from Minneapolis/St. Paul Int. Airport, to Chicago, to Moscow. This time directly to the Domodedovo airport, instead of going through Sheremetyevo first. This trip will be only 5 days, from Saturday to Wednesday. 
    Get this: it takes 3 days, Sat, Sun, Mon to get to Novokuznetsk, Siberia, but only 1 day to come home - just Wednesday. Except that "our" Wednesday will be 36 hours long. It's the time zones, Novokuznetsk is 12 hours ahead of us. 

Our First Trip to Russia - Oct. 27, 2008

Oct. 27, 2008

This trip has been 4 months ago, but I'll just do a recap of it, to start off this blog. On our first trip to Russia we met and accepted Drew.

The trip was 7 days long:

Oct. 27, Monday - Minneapolis to Atlanta.
Oct. 28, Tuesday - arrived in Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow.
Oct. 28, Tuesday - 2 hour drive from Sheremetyevo to Domodedovo Airport (also Moscow)
Oct. 29, Wed. - landed in Novokuznetsk, Siberia.
Oct. 29, Wed. - visited the babyhouse for 2 hours.
Oct. 30, Thurs. - again visited at babyhouse for 2 hours.
Oct. 31, Fri. - left Novokuznetsk for Domodedovo airport.
Nov. 1, Sat. - toured Moscow.
Nov. 2, Sun. - came home.

Domodedovo Airport in Moscow                                           


Siberian Airlines to 

St. Basil's Cathedral at one end of Red Square.

Jen standing in Red Square.

Now we've been home for 4 months and have been waiting for a court date for Drew. However during those 4 months we received a referral for another boy, Demitri, 14 months old, and still needed to travel to meet him. We got word from our agency that they got word from Russia that the DOE (Dept. of Education) decided to put the two boys together as one adoption. Now we are not waiting for court anymore, but waiting for a first trip.