Thursday, October 29, 2009

More Pictures Please...

The most asked question we get via email or chat is "will you be posting more pictures of the boys?" So to appease all those seeking more pics here you go.

Drew, the Multi-tasker with Demitri (lil' bro) looking on; he enjoys doing multiple tasks at the same time. Unfortunately, he does this during lunch and spills milk or juice multiple times throughout a single meal.

Drew and Demitri building their first house together. The only issue they had was Demitri kept taking walls apart as they were building it.

Drew on his purple cellphone. At the most inopportune times, he whips it out and places these sometimes long, serious phone calls, everything sounds so legitimate. My best guess would be he's trying to call his previous caregivers about all the things we are doing wrong now.

Demitri all bundled up, wearing his leathertops and outside during our first snowfall for Winter 2009. All this in October! It didn't last long; one of those wet, heavy snowfalls when its still barely freezing.

Drew pushing around the new snow with a garden spade.

For Demitri the new porta-potty is nothing more then another comfortable piece of furniture.

Drew making Papa build towers with Mega Bloks at 10 in the morning.

Demitri not only enjoys eating yogurt, he also enjoys putting the empty bowl on his head, on the floor, put his elbows in the bowl, try to get as much of the remaining yogurt on the surrounding area is what the game is called.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Photos @ Last! Part 5

Hello again: Still battling a nasty flu here but, during a brief calm in the action (my dad took Drew to his house for a short reprieve for us all.)

Drew's favorite position when we play is upside down. Perhaps this is the only way to get a "rush" in Russia. He likes being swung by his feet, being thrown in the air, or swung side to side while holding his arms and legs.

Parents be careful what you model to your children: When Drew needs a timeout we put him in his room. Now when Demitri is bugging him or taking his things, he takes him by the hand and walks him into their room and closes the door thus, giving Demitri a timeout. Not sure where he thinks he gets such rights from.

Drew and Demitri jockeying for lap-time. They are consistently keeping the scales balanced as to how much attention we give each boy, if you give something to one boy, you have to give it to the other one as well or a squabble is inevitable to follow.

A rare moment when big brother (Drew) decides to be keeper of little brother (Demitri). Perhaps with time the frequency of these moments will multiply...

"The ride stops here!" is the message from big brother as he helps Demitri dismount.

Demitri eating Vienna Torte dessert. That stuff must be pretty much the nastiest food you can give to a child in terms of them making a mess with it. (Do not ask me to explain.)

Demitri posing in his angel outfit before bedtime, with best friend his bear and photo album.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Photos @ Last! Part 4

This post will contain images from the trip home. It seems like 2 months ago but they told me today its only been like 5 full days of being home with the boys. So much has happened since we came home with the boys, I've been battling a nasty flu/fever since Moscow (I've decided it must be H1N1) so add to that sleep disrupted nights etc. being first time parent of two orphanage boys... whew! In between breaks in the action I hurry off to fix a tech issue or two at school, then quickly return to help Jen and babushka (Mary Basel) with on-call duties.
The nights have improved considerably for the boys. Sunday night we let Demitri cry himself to sleep and he ended up sleeping through the night. (Before that he would start bawling every time he awoke during bedtime and naptime and we foolishly rushed to his side each time which is exactly what he wanted to happen.) Drew sleeps most of the night until his waterlogged pamper makes the discomfort bad enough to where we calls out for papa, mama or babushka to come to his assistance. After changing him he is instantly asleep again. So bedtime for both boys is like 90% better after just five days.  I will blog about further improvements in another post, this is getting a bit long already for a picture posting.
Pictures from Trip Home from Moscow:

Dadushka (Ben Vetter) letting Demitri listen to one of the various audio channels available through Delta Airlines Entertainment Setup. Demitri is currently on classical music when we put him to bed. He gets distracted from his not-wanting-to-go-to-bed when we play classical music softly next to his bed. He recently gave up bawling his eyes out to just rocking the pack-n-go that he sleeps in until he tires and just sighs and lays down and falls asleep.

Demitri in his new home, lounging on his very own folding chair. This most certainly would have been in one of his rare good moments during those early days as he didn't have that many. He is now happy, content and in good cheer for most of the day.

Drew playing with magnetic letters on the fridge. Here he is still wearing his long girlish hair. We gave them a haircut and he looks much more boyish now. After the haircut he frolicked on the floor as if we'd given him the greatest gift.

My dad gave the boys these cheap awful looking sunglasses and Drew wears them as if they were doctor mandated prescription glasses. These (worthless) glasses are also one of the most fought over toys the boys have had. The suspenders are another story. He wears them so diligently, and even asks for them when I dress him in the morning and can already say "lahteh".

Demitri after their first walk in the woods, he's like "I think we've all walked enough for today."

Demitri doesn't care much for his own Serengetis, he prefers taking Drew's away from him just to be naughty. He's a teaser while Drew is totally the opposite.

Drew posing for his USA Passport Application after his first haircut.

This is a classic scenario; Drew will be playing peacefully, totally entertain himself and Demitri wanders over and starts taking Drew's toys thus, requiring action on Drew's part to reclaim the piece. We have stopped interfering in these matters as Drew needs to learn to fend for himself in this wicked and unjust world.

The Welcome home sign that greeted our arrival on that cold, tired Thursday night.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Thanks to all...

Thanks to everybody for your well wishes, prayers and support. It means so much to see your comments and hear that you're following us on the blog. This is too overwhelming to do by yourself. We are home now, and are still thankful every moment to be home. It's so much easier when you're in familiar surroundings, and now the boys can finally settle into routine and familiarity as well. Our chaos is improving every day. The boys are catching on fast and Drew is starting to speak a few Hutterisch words now. This morning I was pushing him on the swing, and he kept repeating, "ranzen, ranzen and "shtoppe." (swinging and stopping). When I first pushed him, he laughed so hard, he nearly fell off. It seemed he's never been on one. Demitri was content to eat sand and feel it between his fingers, and go down the slide.

Jonte will post pictures of our first walk in the woods yesterday. It almost seemed like my first walk as well, watching them experience everything. Drew loved whacking around with long sticks and corn stalks. Demitri enjoyed toddling along, falling over at every incline and then just lay there a while, staring at the sky.

Naptime is almost over, gotta go.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Drew and Demitri saying "puhkah" (Goodbye) from Moscow

Demitri has just completed TWO entire days in good cheer. No crying spells, just normal and good cheer. Drew who has caught on to his little brother and is starting to look out for him, was pushing him around the apartment in the red stroller this evening.

Drew was playing with the Dollar Store Fishing Pole before bedtime. For $1 we got 5 1/2minutes of concentration before he broke off the handle. There are very few things that he does in the conventional manner; he thinks everything can be improved or done in a better way.

Our Last Hurrah from Moscow

Our last blog post before we reach the USA, how exciting! Today, was a day of waiting with fingers crossed. Everyone went down to Red Square one more time but I had to stay home and await the coordinator who was to deliver our documents. There was paperwork that needed to be done at the Russian Consulate that was to take 2 days which meant that we wouldn't be able to fly home tomorrow. However, being that this is Russia, if you pay a fee/bribe/speed up fee/Rush Order Fee call it what you may, you can have this done in one day. So today we had our paperwork Rushed and paid the small fee as to avoid having to stay another day and change airline tickets. The paperwork is all in place now to be stamped once we touch down in JFK Airport and as soon as the sealed envelope is opened and the documents stamped there in New York, the boys are officially US citizens.
At 5:11pm today our coordinator came to visit us in the apartment with all the completed paperwork. Personally, we didn't have to go visit the Russian Consulate ourselves as our coordinator did all this for us. Everything is on track now for us to leave our apartment at 8am, fly out of Moscow at 12:05pm and land in JFK Airport in New York approximately 9hrs later.
Everything we did today, we were counting down, commenting that its last time at doing this here. So we just put the boys to bed for the LAST TIME and so the evening is ours to pack all our stuff. Our taxi is picking us up at 8am and we are flying out of Moscow at 12 noon.
One thing we were just discussing about our apartment this evening; all the basics worked, we even had soft water. Things like the dishwasher were very nice touches and helped alleviate the work load.
So goodbye to all from all of us here in Moscow.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Today was our visit to the American Embassy:

Today we went to the American Embassy to complete and get a huge stack of paperwork including travel visas for the boys (they are only Russian citizens at this time). The process there was quite simple and we got to spend time with four other couples there at the embassy all taking kids back to the USA. We had a waiting room overflowing with energy from all these Russian children running around, staring at each other and playing with each other. Everywhere we go people compliment us on the lovely, cute, adorable boys we are adopting. (if they only knew half of the madness involved...) Tomorrow we go to the Russian Consulate to do a final piece of paperwork and then we head on home.
The boys are settling into their routines somewhat already, and lots of things seem to go easier but then... then the next day they awake only to have forgotten all the progress that had been made and it seems we are starting over from scratch again.

Household Improvement Tips

We have decided that all the neat, cheap tricks we use here in our apartment to improve and enhance our lives would be beneficial to all in these current economic hard times as these tricks cost relatively little or nothing to implement.

How To Make Inexpensive Window Shades: We have huge picture windows in all our bedrooms and in my own bedroom and the boys' room there are no shades or heavy curtains so sleeping during the daytime for siesta is nearly impossible because room is so bright. So we strung up garbage bags (Black ones work best) to block sunlight coming into the window. Oh, the sweetness of siesta after you've been awake most of the night.

Our hotel in Kemerovo didn't have doors on the bedrooms so privacy was somewhat limited. Upon entering our apartment here in Moscow, I was overjoyed to see doors on our bedrooms, but my joy was short lived as there is no latch, lock or mechanism to keep door closed. I have no idea what the doors are for as they swing open if you close them.

How To Close Doors with No Latch or Lock: We glued (with Krazy Glue) shims from layers of cardboard from bars of soap (see blue part in photo) to the edge of the door so that when you close the door the door is forced shut from friction on the shim. Works slick and doors stay shut, require some force to open again.

How To Fix Non Latching Door: Our toilet closet door wouldn't lock so whenever you went there you had to keep your foot propped against the door to ensure privacy. The locks bolt wasn't aligned with the strike plate hole on the doorjam but, with Ben Vetter's Olfa knife we carved hole big enough so that it now latched. Yippee, privacy for all now.

How To Make Waterproof Barrier between a Wetting Boy and the Mattress: We took garbage bags and taped them together on the edges to make a huge plastic barrier that we placed underneath the bed cover.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Photos @ Last! Part 3

Today's post will be about our Duma Apartment in downtown Moscow. In downtown Moscow it is very expensive to stay or live yet everywhere you look tall apartments abound (old deprecated ones, not new ones). Most of them host business on street level and the rest of the 12 or more stories are apartments where the 12 million residents stay.

Street level walk/drive way into courtyard outside our apartment. Notice all the new fancy cars despite this rundown apartment.

Stairway up to the grand and heavily guarded entrance to our apartment.

The grand entrance to our apartment. (the tan door with the magic Keyman lock.

The Keyman lock features what looks like a big watch battery that you touch to the round part on the Keyman console and it starts beeping meaning that for the next 10seconds you can open the door. I've paniced a few times when I pulled the plastic Keyman magic key from my pocket and the watch battery had fallen out of the holder in my pocket.

Right inside the grand entrance is the hall to the stairs or elevator. The elevator is another story. The stairs are littered with jars that look like they were left there 23yrs ago by some resident who couldn't carry them further up the stairs. The stairs are splattered with tomatoes.

The graffiti sprayed and dirty windows on the way up the stairs to the apartment.

The 36" x 39" Otis elevator in our apartment. Try fitting a stroller, four adults and another active kid into this thing, not possible so we always let one or 2 adults take the stairs rather then way for the elevator to return down to pick up remaining party. Today Drew was not leashed to an adult and when we all reached floor 6 where we reside Drew had already ran up the stairs and reached the seventh floor before I caught up with him. I was tired and didn't think it at all funny but he thought it was hilarious.

Stairways up to apartment. Everything looks like inner city slum and is filthy to booth.

The leather-clad heavy steel door into our apartment, the last level of security from intruders or stragglers.

The bible-era key that is used to open the door into our apartment. I'm certain this is the key that was used when Paul was imprisoned in the bible.

The closet with our bath tub and sink. The closet with the toilet is on the other side of the apartment so washing your hands requires walking to other side of the house.

Our well furnished kitchen where babushka (Mary Basel) cooks up our meals. We have a (left to right) range stove top burners with baking oven underneath, a dishwasher and a clothes washer and dryer, a big dish washing sink, tea kettle and a microwave.

Dadushka (Ben Vetter) playing with Drew after mealtime. I think Mary Basel is making dumpling soup here, while Jen is holding Demitri "hold me" Wipf. Notice the chair laying on the floor, its a speed bump to slow fast moving traffic entering kitchen area when babushka (Mary Basel) is working with hot pots and appliances. These guys are used to heaping bowls of porridge so thats what we feed them here. If I ate that much porridge I'd start braying like a donkey.

Our own personal office with oscillating fan, heater, computer (even has 17" LCD monitor and high speed internet), The workstation Windows 2000 PC we have for internet and email is so slow it wont play anything interactive, just display text and images. A computer chair (dumps you off if you go to far to one side because seat is broken off of stem.) The computer is quite slow and Ben Vetter has had issues trying to get MYOB working on it. (LOL!)

The toilet is in a closet so small that if you go in and want to close the door you can't turn around, so its easier to just back in and sit down then close door.

This is my bedroom. The TV is only good for drying towels because it only has one channel and thats in Russian. To hasten drying of the towels simply turn on TV and mute sound. They only use one mattress on their beds here, I think its to save money. One room has the box spring while the adjacent room has the top mattress from the set.

The boys bedroom. It even has a crib for Demitri. His crib gets moved from room to room depending on his moods throughout the day. For example if everyone is going for siesta, his crib is in the kitchen, furthest away from all our bedrooms. During the night it may be in his bedroom, in the hall (as not to awake Drew and start over the entire process of madness of putting them to sleep again) or even in his own bedroom depending on pomp and circumstance.

The hallway/gym/driveway/parking space for Demitri's crib leading into our apartment.

Right at the end of the stairs leading up to our apartment is this building where you see people entering. For the entire week of our stay I thought it was the utility building for our apartment as it has no windows, no signage on door etc. Today, as I was leaving the apartment I saw women come out carrying shopping bags and I followed some women inside to discover to my utter amazement that its a tiny (10ft by 16ft) grocery store for the people in this apartment. They have sausage, cheese, bread, milk, beverages etc in there.