Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Surgery Update

Just wanted to expand on Michelle's post from yesterday to tell you a little bit about what Jack's surgery day was like.

The surgery was scheduled for the morning, and we had to get to the hospital by 7:45am, so no breakfast for Jack! We basically woke him up and got him dressed for the trip to the hospital. We felt bad for the little guy because he was playing and having a grand old time in his car seat and had no idea what was going to happen shortly. We got to the hospital without any problems, checked in and played with some toys in the waiting room for a few minutes before being called back to a prep room.

The prep nurse had a great New England accent. I wanted to ask her to say "my car is parked at Harvard" (i.e.- "my CAH is PAH'ed at HAHVAD) but I let the urge pass because we were there for serious business. This nurse (as well as all of the hospital staff ) was great! She couldn't have been nicer to Jack or more understanding that his apprehension had nothing to do with her. Sometimes we meet up with medical professionals that seem put off when Jack cries, like he is able to control his fear of white lab coats or something. Anyway, in the prep room they took his vitals and we spoke to the anesthesiologist about what was going to happen before/during/after surgery. We decided that we would like to have Jack take a mild sedative even before he received the anesthesia because we wanted to make sure he was eased into the process. We didn't want to leave him when he was fully "with it" so he wouldn't be terrified when they came and got him for anesthesia. The sedative made him look drunk, and he had this goofy little grin on his face from that point on.

After the sedative had been given time to fully kick in, the nurses came and got Jack and we said our "goodbyes". Last night I told my family that there can't be too many things tougher to watch than seeing your child walked down the hall away from you toward an operating room. Both Michelle and I had lumps in our throats at this point, but the sedative was doing its job so Jack was kind of out of it and didn't realize we had stayed behind.

The surgery took about an hour or so, and then the Doctor came out and gave us the good news that everything had gone according to plan and that Jack's eyes were now straight. I know that this is a "routine" surgery, but when is surgery ever truly "routine"? When we heard the Doctor say that everything was okay, that was when we finally exhaled for the first time in an hour.

We went back to the recovery room and saw our tiny little Jack on a regular sized bed. He looked so small! His eyes were a little swollen, and he had an IV in his arm, but other than that he just looked like he was asleep. He woke up after about 20 minutes and we took him to a different recovery room to feed him some juice while he continued to get his IV fluids. We were told we could leave when the nurses were satisfied with his fluid intake, and so we set out for home. Jack fell asleep on the ride home, so there wasn't too much fussing there. Once we got home, he had some ice cream (don't tell Russia), and other than being a little drowsy looking, he seemed like his normal self. He took a long nap yesterday afternoon, but seemed to feel fine last night. We were giving him Baby Tylenol every four hours for the pain, and he has some antibiotic eye drops (he HATES these!).

Last night he was awake and crying from about 11pm to 1am. He actually fell asleep a few times during that span, but when we would go to put him in his crib, he would wake up and cry all over again. Eventually, we were able to get him down, and I slept on the floor in his room to try and maybe ease his fears a little. Maybe that worked because he slept from 1am until it was time to get him up for breakfast.

So far today he has been his normal self. We have already done his eye drops twice today (with two more times still ahead of us today). He is napping now, and hopefully we'll have an uneventful evening.

As far as the success of the surgery, his eyes are currently straight, but it will take about 6 weeks to see if his brain will "accept" the surgery and retrain itself to look straight. Hopefully this surgery will take and we won't have to do it over again. It's almost strange to see his eyes straight for our brains, so we know his brain must be having an adjustment. I know we got to the point where we pretty much didn't even notice his crossed eyes anymore, so now when we see him we almost do a double take.

We just wanted to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers. We also wanted to thank so many of you who we heard from regarding Strabismus when we were contemplating accepting Jack's referral. We can't imagine our lives without Jack, and so many of you told us that Strabismus was such a correctable condition that we should definitely accept the referral for this little guy that had it (although we would have accepted the referral anyway). While he was in the OR yesterday, we couldn't help but think of those of you who convinced us that we would be able to correct his condition. THANK YOU for helping us accept the most beautiful little guy into our home with your words of advise on that topic!

In case we don't post between now and Christmas, we wish everyone a very Merry Christmas from the Curran family OF THREE!!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Just a quick post to let everyone know that Jack is home from surgery, and is doing well. Thanks for the warm thoughts and prayers!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

2 months today

July 09, meeting Jackson in Russia:
Dec 09, Jack is now an avid UT fan! Touchdown!!
Taking a walk with Dad and Mom:

Decorating the tree for Christmas:

It has been 2 months today since Gotcha Day, and we are amazed every day at the changes we see in Jack. Just looking at the pictures above, you can see a huge difference. During our first week in July when we visited him, he just sat quietly with very little movement, a flat affect, and stared at his hands. His Doctor at the Orphanage told us he was probably retarded, and basically had failure to thrive. On trip 2 in October, he maintained the flat affect and little or no movement unless encouraged. By the end of our second trip, he was starting to interact with us a little and showed us that he was somewhat interested in the world around him.
Fast forward to today,and you see an entirely different child. He is engaging, smart, laughs, plays with toys and shows more and more promise every day. If Daddy does it, so does Jack. He is attaching to us as parents more and more. Although he tends to "Mommy shop", he seems very attached to Daddy and doesn't seem to want to trade him in.

We do have a couple of concerns, such as poor eye contact and sometimes when we discipline him, he laughs at us (cute now, but won't be soon). His language development is slow, he only says 1 word, but we have a team of specialists that will further evaluate him on January 5th as he has qualified for the Infant and Toddler Program.

Tuesday he has eye surgery to correct the muscles in his eyes. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. His Pediatrician seems to think he is a healthy little guy, and he hasn't even had a cold since he has been home. He is even officially caught up on his inoculation's!

I traveled last week for the first time since we brought Jack home. I was gone Sunday - Friday. I didn't want to travel so soon, but didn't really have a choice in the matter. I cried when I left him, but when I got home - he was waiting at the door with the sweetest hug I have ever had. It made me cry again! I don't think I will have to travel for the next couple of months, but am being told that I will be gone most of May - August. Not sure what we will do about that, but I can't spend the summer away from my son so early in this process.
I guess that's it for the updates for now. We will post again after his surgery and let everyone know how it went

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Believe it or not.... A new post!

Hello again from Curran Land! Sorry we have slacked off on the postings lately. Ever since Michelle went back to work, we are both too exhausted to post anything at night. Jack and I tire each other out during the day, and Michelle is working long hours at her job. Being a housewife is the toughest, most exhausting job I have ever had. How come Wilma Flintstone made this look so easy? I am better looking than she is though.

Anyway, there really isn't too much to report on our end. Jack had his follow up appointment with his pediatrician this week, and he is now officially on the charts on height, weight and head size! He is around the 8th percentile on all three areas, and the Doctor was impressed a the gains Jack has made. He even said something like "I take it Jack doesn't have any trouble eating does he?". All of his blood work came back just fine. Because Jack still has diarrhea from time to time (too much information, I know) he wanted to take another stool sample, so Jack and I returned to the doctors office today to drop off Jacks Christmas gift to the lab. We are getting good at collecting samples. Probably a little too good.

In other news, Jack was evaluated for some help with his developmental delays and he qualifies for some services! Starting in January we will meet with some developmental specialists once a week to work with him on his speech and other areas where he is delayed. We are happy we will be doing this, and we should get some good pointers on how we can work with him to overcome his delays. He is so smart, we feel like once he starts these sessions, he will take to the help like a fish in water.

When we are not filling up specimen jars or working with developmental specialists, we are just enjoying being a family. The Christmas tree is up, and Jack loves his Frosty the Snowman doll. My sisters family sent him a Nativity set (Thanks Chris, Scott, Megan, Katie and Amanda!), and he loves playing with it. He was carrying around Baby Jesus today (though admittedly, Baby Jesus spent most of the day covered in Jack's drool). We are really enjoying our first Christmas season as a family of three!

I guess that's about it for now until we have the energy to post again. I'll leave you with a recollection of a conversation Michelle and I had the other day after Michelle opened a package that had been packed with those foam packing peanuts. I think this conversation would make the Russian court system proud of how we are looking out for our son:

Michelle: "Bill, come help me pick up these foam peanuts. I don't know if they are poisonous and I don't want Jack to touch them"
Me: "Those things aren't poisonous"
Michelle: "They could be, now get over here and help me"
Me: "Why would people be allowed to wrap their packages with poisonous things?"
Michelle: "Are you going to help me or not?"
Me: "I'm still wondering what makes you think they are poisonous. I guess the only reason people use foam peanuts is that it's more cost effective than wrapping up their packages with live King Cobras"
Michelle: "Never mind, I'll pick them up myself..."

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Back to work

Since Monday, I have been fantasizing over the possibility of winning the lottery because I had to go back to work. When I started with this company back in March, I made an agreement with them that I would take a total of 8 weeks off. Honestly, 8 weeks just didn’t seem that long to me. We were in Russia for a month, then home for a month. It seemed much, much shorter. With that said, I am thankful that I have a job in our current economy after being laid off earlier this year. I am also thankful that Bill is still able to stay home with Jack and is not expected back at work until January.

Bill is doing a great job at home with Jack. Every day they are working on something new and I know that he is getting the care he deserves. I feed him breakfast, lunch and dinner (I come home at lunch) – as well as bathe him at night and put him to bed. Bill does the rest. We are trying to share duties as much as possible because Jack tends to only be interested in whichever one of us he is with the most. When I get home in the evening, Bill prompts him and he is always standing there with a big smile and a squeal for me. He truly warms my heart.

Jack wanted to give a shout out to Grandpa Tony. Happy Birthday Grandpa Tony! I am ready to meet you and love you already!

Check out the picture of Jack in his new car. He loves to be pushed around in this box and drive using Bill's Nintendo Wii steering wheel!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from the Curran Family! Hope everyone ate too much and spent time thinking about what you are thankful for! We definitely did both here!

Let me lead off by saying Michelle's cooking was fantastic! The "practice" Thanksgiving she made a week ago (see prior blog entries) really paid off. Michelle made a ton of great food, and my sister Carolyn chipped in some tasty dishes as well. We ate a ton and have a ton of leftovers, so that is win-win! My job in all of this was to do the dishes. Now I am not intimidated by much, only by stuff like; small snakes, clowns, crowds, medium sized snakes, Russian airports, hairless cats, Russian bank transactions, large snakes, etc. Okay, maybe I am intimidated by a bunch of stuff, but the mountain of dishes after a Thanksgiving meal is a new phobia of mine as of today! Wow, that was a job! I would do it all over again for the meal we had today though!

Okay, now onto the real update... This weekend is a good test for Jack (and us) as it's the first time since we have been home (4 weeks as of tonight) that we have had anyone over to the house. My sister and Brother-in-Law and beautiful niece are down from Baltimore. We were looking at using this weekend as a yardstick to gauge where Jack was with his attachment to us, as well as see how he interacts with Emily, our 2 1/2 year old niece. Jack has done really well with Emily. There are some issues with sharing of toys, so we need to work with him in this area. Jack tried to take some of Emily's toys away from her, or if she was playing with his toys, he would take them back from her. As the day went on he seemed to make some progress in this area, and Emily is patient with him as well. We knew we would have some work to do in the sharing department as sharing is not something learned in an orphanage. It's survival of the fittest for the most part, and if one kid wants a toy that another kid has, he is going to go take it without any consequences.

The real area we were anxious to see how Jack was doing in was with his attachment to us. We wanted to see if Jack understood that Michelle and I were "Mom and Dad" and that he needed to come to us if he needed things. Unfortunately he really didn't differentiate between the 4 adults in the room today. He came to Michelle and I for most things, but he went to his Aunt and Uncle for some things too, and followed my Brother-in-Law into a different room only minutes after meeting him. Obviously we have some work to do, and we didn't expect things to perfect from the start. At least now we know a few areas we ave to work on before the next round of visitors show up! We are really happy to see Jack playing with one of his cousins, and his Aunt and Uncle are doing a great job of redirecting Jack to us when he comes to them. We appreciate their understanding of the situation.

We hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. We are definitely thankful for Jack and all of the blessings that our family has received over the last year. We wish we could have spent the day with everyone that is special to us, but whether you ate your turkey in Missouri, Florida, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, or any place else tonight, please know that you were all with us here today as you have been all through our journey!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Patch, Surgery, etc....

Today is day 2 of Jack’s eye patch. Day 1 went better than expected. We put it on him right at 6am when we woke him up for the day so he was still groggy and he really didn’t know what was going on. He didn’t start to fight the patch for about 30 minutes. It lasted 1 ½ hrs, so we will take it. Today was the same situation, 6am and he was too groggy to fight it. He realized it was on there about 30 minutes later, but didn’t really fuss too much. I ended up taking it off at 1 hr, 40 minutes because he fell asleep. Tomorrow maybe we can do 1 hr 50 minutes?!? The patches do not stick very well around the nose, and it is tough to make sure that light is not peeking in. We are constantly messing with it to make sure it is as effective as possible.

To clarify my post on the eye surgery, both eyes will be done at the same time. Apparently, there are 6 muscles in each eye that control eye movement. One muscle moves the eye to the right, one moves it to the left, and 4 move it up or down and at an angle. Jack will have 2 of these muscles on each eye “relaxed”. His muscles are not balanced and working together at this point. The surgery is on Dec 22nd, with a pre-op appt on the 21st and a post op appt on Jan 5th.

We are looking forward to the surgery being completed for several reasons. First and foremost for attachment. Jack makes below average eye contact at this point, but it is nearly impossible to determine what he is looking at. Sometimes I think he is looking at me, but then realize he is just zoning out and looking out into space. Eye contact is an important aspect of bonding and we feel the surgery will at least help us determine if we are making improvements in this area. Another reason is due to his constant falling. All toddlers fall, but since Jackson sees double, he falls ALL the time. I have no idea how his head isn’t always black and blue. We are concerned he is going to get a head injury. Eventually, the brain will just shut off his other eye if he isn’t treated for the Strabismus, which will affect a variety of things, including learning.

As far as attachment goes, we are doing okay overall. We have kept him in the house with both parents for the most part for the last month. We have gone out just a handful of times. When we were at the eye appointment, Jack walked right up to a man and grabbed him. Of course, this isn’t good for attachment reasons, but to make matters worse – this particular man was very angry and had been pestering the staff for the entire time we had been there. Jack not only went to a stranger, he went to an angry stranger. At first, he did stay with us, but continued to get further and further away from us with very little hesitation. Bill would get up from the chair and separate him from the others, but Jack still wanted to go over to where the other adults were (and have nothing to do with us). Needless to say, we have a lot of work to do. We don’t expect him to become attached to us overnight, but we do want to keep a close eye on this and other types of behaviors and need to make sure that he doesn’t continue indiscriminate friendliness.

Here is a short video of Jackson trying out his new scooter! He loves it!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Doctor's appointment

We visited the Opthalmogist today just after 2pm and didn't leave the office until 5pm. Jackson has Congenital Esotropia Intermittent Strabismus. This is where both of his eyes turn inward intermittently and he cannot use them together. He does however, have full use of both eyes, even though he is a little farsighted.

We scheduled surgery for December 22nd with a Physician that specializes in Strabismus and this should realign his eyes. Until then, we will patch his right eye everyday with an Orthopedic Eye Patch for 2 hours to strengthen his left eye (the weaker of the two).

We were aware of this diagnosis and researched this condition prior to adopting Jack. The news today was what we were expecting.

We have not posted any pictures that shows the severity of Jackson's inward turning eye, but plan to do so after the surgery.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Magic Word!

Today as we were finishing up lunch, Jack shocked us both when he said the magic word we have been waiting to hear.... MAMA! Michelle and I were cleaning up our lunch stuff when Jack just started repeating MAMA over and over out of the blue. We had been working on this with him, but up until today he had just stared at us like we were asking him to recite Tolstoy or something. Mommy had a smile on her face that was powered by her heart. She looked so proud of our little guy! For about the next 10 minutes, the three of us just kept saying "MAMA, MAMA , MAMA..." to each other. This was a great day for us, and especially for Mommy. She had been wanting to hear this, and for it to come out of the blue like that was great. We still aren't quite sure that Jack really knows who "Mama" is yet, but tonight while I was reading to him, he reached out his arms towards Michelle who was in the kitchen and said "Mama" once. We are making strides!

Tomorrow we meet with an opthamologist who will advise us about Jack's Strabismus. Jack is not a fan of doctors, so we expect him to be in full throat for the appointment.

We usually don't let Jack run around in his diaper, but we were getting a kick out of his excitement after lunch....

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thanksgiving (take one)

Michelle is a perfectionist. That is a good thing because when she sets her mind to something, she gets it done no matter what the task. The staff at our adoption agency often commented on how thorough we were with our paperwork and how timely we were at getting things done. This is all a credit to Michelle because she took the reigns on that and just told me to what to do and when to do it. She is like this with everything. Sometimes I groan when we have a task to do because I know that no matter what the task is, we will be working on it ASAP no matter how tough or tedious the task is (or what football games happen to be on at that moment). But, every once in awhile Michelle's perfectionism works out in my favor (actually, it pretty much always works out in my favor in the end, but I am a procrastinator by nature so I like to put off stuff but that doesn't happen with Michelle). The other day she decided she wanted to do a practice Thanksgiving Dinner since my sister, brother-in-law and niece are coming in town for the real Thanksgiving weekend. So, today we had our dry run on Thanksgiving dinner. Everything was great, and I happily devoured this practice meal. We even have leftovers for dinner tomorrow. So, between the practice Thanksgiving and the real Thanksgiving, I plan on getting between 4-6 turkey dinners over the next two weeks when you factor in leftovers. I am a lucky man!

Okay, enough about me and onto the real reason you read this blog, stories about Jack! Yesterday we took our first trip to the beach. Well, technically we went to the beach in Vladivostok, but this was our first trip to an American beach. We took a long walk and collected some pretty cool shells. There had been a big storm in this area last week, so there were some really cool shells on the beach. I had never seen fully intact conch and hermit crab shells on any beach before in my life but there were lots of them where we went yesterday (a place called Sandbridge Beach in VA). We would have taken some home with us, but the problem was that there were hermit crabs and other creatures living in these shells. So we took a few empty ones home with us and left the rest to return to the ocean. Jack did really well and even liked to walk on the sand. He wasn't too crazy about the sand at that beach in Vlad. We saw lots of dogs playing at the beach which Jack really enjoyed seeing. We saw some huge birds and some guys catching some decent sized fish too. What a great day at the beach.

The beach trip was a nice thing to do on a Sunday afternoon but for the most part we have been hanging around the house letting Jack get used to things on is own terms. He is doing really well with most of his routines, though he is not the best napper in the world. Sometimes he naps well, sometimes he doesn't. This is the one area where he hasn't quite found consistency. He took 2 naps a day at the baby home, and that is what we have been doing here but we may need to eventually tweak that into one longer nap rather than 2 short ones. The naps or lack of naps don't really seem to have much bearing on the rest of his waking hours though (meaning he isn't overly cranky if he doesn't nap well in a particular day) so there isn't a real urgency to make a change to the routine yet.

That's all for now. Stop on in if you want a turkey sandwich tomorrow!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Update from Curranland

Well we finally collected the last of the stool samples today. Michelle, Jack and I have agreed never to discuss that process again. We did not get back to the doctor today because our area is having pretty bad storms and the news people are advising everyone to stay at home. So Jack, Michelle and I (and the samples) will load up (no pun intended) tomorrow and head back to the doctor.

Other than the unpleasantries mentioned above (and they weren't that unpleasant), we are having a great time together. Michelle found a music channel on our cable called "Toddler Tunes" so we listened to music today and Jack showed off his dancing skills. He cracks us up, and his favorite tune is the "heads, shoulders, knees and toes" tune. When we start singing that he laughs and points to his head. He also does this funny wrist shake thing and hops from one foot to the other when he dances. He seems to love music. Tonight we heard a Rolling Stones song on that channel and the album it came from was something like "lullabies to the music of the Rolling Stones". Very cool!

In addition to dancing, Jack likes helping us do things. He helped Mommy make brownies the other day and he helped us vacuum last night too. He was fascinated with the vacuum and at one point he stood in front of it and stared at it so I couldn't get around him. We must have looked like the famous picture of the student standing in front of the tank in Tiananmen Square. He is more brave with the vacuum than our pets are!

Speaking of the pets, he LOVES our two dogs, Gracie and Copper. We thought they would be overbearing to him, but it might be the other way around. He follows Copper around and loves to pet her. She is so good with him and doesn't care when he steps on her tail or trips over her feet. Gracie, the smaller dog pictured on our blog is great with him too. She was used to being the baby before Jack came into the picture but has adjusted nicely to being a big sister.

Right now Jack is asleep for the night, but the wind is howling and the rain is pounding against the house. Hopefully he can sleep through the night despite the noise!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Time goes too quickly

Jackson woke up this morning at 5am to start the day. He actually slept through the night other than waking up once around 10pm, and quickly falling back asleep. His naps are much shorter than they were at one time, 1 hr in the morning and 40 minutes in the afternoon, but given a choice - we would choose sleeping through the night.

Since he isn't on the chart for his age on weight, we attempted to increase his food intake today. 3 diaper blowouts later, and I think we were successful. I sometimes wonder that more comes out than goes in?!?

He was still cranky today, not sure if this residual effects of the inoculations or if he was just cranky. Tomorrow we take in three days of stool samples (ahhh, the joys of parenthood), and they will also read his TB results. His arm looks good, so hopefully all is well with that.

I have kept the washer/dryer super busy since we have arrived home. How can a family of 3 make so much dirty laundry? I have no idea how a family of 4 or more do it! Not sure how we will keep up when we go back to work, but just like most families - we will make it.

As far as the never ending paperwork I contacted an Attorney that is familiar with re-adoption in our state. We were referred to him by a local family that used him as well to re-adopt their son, and they were happy with him. Anyway, he was low on personality, but is familiar with the process so that works for us. We need to wait 6 months from our adoption date to file for the adoption due to how the courts work in our state. Looks like we will be putting this on our to do list for late April.

We have yet to apply for a SS#, I have to admit I am a bit confused on how and when to do this. I have heard so many different things, we aren't sure what to do. I emailed our agency a couple days back and again today for direction but no response. This will have to wait another day!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Drs Appt and Russian Consulate Registration

Today Jack had his first Pediatrician appointment. It wasn't an overly fun experience, but it is done and over. Doctors scare our little guy, but after 6 shots and several tubes of blood taken from my arm - I would be crying too.

It appears things are as we thought - he is either below the curve or in a low percentile, but is making progress. Physically, he is pretty healthy. The blood work will come back in a few days and we can then confirm the remainder of his vaccinations. We follow up in 1 month.

We also scheduled an appointment with an Opthamologist to address the Strabismus. This is scheduled for next week with a doctor who specializes in eye disorders for toddlers. We will either patch his eye, wear glasses or have surgery to correct the issue.

As part of our adoption process, we are required to register Jackson with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the Russian Consulate in Washington, DC. It is due within 3 months of when we arrive home.

We had to send in an application, passport photo of Jack, original passport, new birth certificate (in Russian and English), and new Adoption Certificate (in Russian and English). We went out yesterday to copy these items and get them notarized and sent them on via UPS. Mark this one off our 'to do' list!

Tonight Jack is cranky after his shots. Bill has been carrying him around for about an hour now to calm him. Hopefully he will sleep through the night and feel better tomorrow!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

All the furry animals are home!

Bill made the drive to Nana and Papa's to pick up our 2 dogs this week (THANK YOU NANA AND PAPA FOR TAKING CARE OF THE DOGS!!!), they finally made it home last night. When Bill left, Jackson didn't seem to care, look in the direction of the door, whine or anything. Of course we have only had him for about 2 1/2 weeks, but he is such a Daddy's boy I was hoping for a response to show he was bonding. While Bill was gone for 2 days, Jack began to get very clingy. He didn't want me to put him down and I literally carried him around for 2 days. If I put him down, he cried. The reason I think that this is pertinent, is because I feel this was the response he was giving us for Bill's absence. Bill would call on occasion, and I would put him on speaker phone. Jackson was thrilled! He said 'da da' a lot and kept examining the phone trying to find Daddy in the phone. He loved it. When Bill got home last night, Jack couldn't not have been any more happy. High pitched squeals, lots of hugs, huge smiles and he was literally jumping up and down. The best homecoming ever (and an awesome response too)!!!

I frequent other blogs, FRUA, online chats, etc to see what other parents are saying about Russian adoptions (and adoptions in general). Since I am up at 3am today (guess who got me up at 3am), I thought it was a good time to do some reading. Below is a comment that an adoptive parent made about Orphanages in Russia. The topic was "spoiled children".

One thing I saw at the orphanage - there were six children in a playpen. One of them bumped his chin on the edge and started crying. The very kind caregiver was standing right there and did not comfort him, although she had time, and she saw it happen. After a minute or two she explained to me that she could not comfort him, because if the other children saw that he was comforted, they would all bang their chins on the edge and really hurt themselves. How sad is that¸ that this child in pain couldn't be comforted? And how sad that these kids have to learn survival techniques from an impossibly young age, just to receive a tiny bit of affection and comfort from an adult? This is the world our children lived in.

I thought that was worth sharing. It helps remind us what our children have been through.

Here is a couple pictures from trip 1 (my favorites). He has grown a lot since these pics were taken. Here is also the FIRST time that we met Jack and the Caregiver placed him in my arms. Bill loves this video because he quit crying when he put his head down, then when he looked back up at me, he started crying again. Bill thinks he thought that I went away because he didn't see me!! Ha!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Still getting adjusted but change seems to be coming!

Well, things here are pretty much the same as the last post though we are seeing signs that the tide is turning! The daylight hours are pretty much going off without a hitch. Feeding times, nap times, bathing, play times, etc are all going very well. It's the overnight hours that we haven't figured out yet. Jack is still getting up at 1am each day but the last two nights he has actually gone back to sleep around 4am, so the three of us have gotten at least a few hours of sleep the last couple of nights. Today, Michelle and I decided that we needed to tag team the little guy so one of us could rest while the other took care of Jack. This worked out very well and for the first time in about a week we weren't total zombies tonight. We figured we needed to take turns resting because we were so tired that we didn't really have the energy to give Jack the full attention he needs and deserves. So, this may be our strategy until he starts resting through the night. It worked today, and Jack was able to play with one of us or both of us at full strength rather than both of us at about 10% energy. How can a 15 month old have way more energy than two adults combined? One of life's funny mysteries I guess.

In addition to the normal routines, we made our first trip out of the house yesterday. We needed to go grocery shopping, so we headed to Sams. Jack did outstanding for the 45 minutes or so we were there. Sams is a an overstimulating place for adults, so for Jack to do well there was saying something. Anyway, he handled the car rides and shopping like a pro. He is such a happy little guy and seems to take anything we throw at him in stride.

Tonight we went through the normal routines and Michelle just read Jack a good book about a bear that was adopted. I wonder if they had to call it a "cave study" instead of a "home study". These are the questions a tired person comes up with.

That's all for now. Hopefully Jack will continue to make strides tonight!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Zombies for Halloween?

Last night made it two nights in a row where Jack was up all night from about 1am on. We are doing pretty well with the routines from about 9am all the way through until 1am, then he wakes up and is up for the rest of the night. We are working really hard to get him acclimated to the 15 hour time difference from Vladivostok, and we are determined to make it work! Jack is still doing very well in the eating and bathing departments, and with most nap times, it's just those tricky overnight hours that we haven't yet mastered. So, between still getting over the trip and travel along with staying up all night, all three of us walk around like zombies sometimes. I guess we fit right in though seeing how it is Halloween weekend and all. When we are awake during the day, we don't want Jack to nap before his designated nap times because like I said, we are determined to get back into healthy routines. So, when it's not nap time and one of the three of us seems tired, we joke that we are like concussion victims who need to be kept awake no matter what! No worries, we'll get this routine thing down pat in time. Last night we listened to a windy rain storm while we rocked Jack and tried to get him back to sleep. It was actually kind of cool to sit there and listen to that. Ideally we don't want to be up at 4am, but we make the best of it!
Despite the altered sleep schedules, Jack is absolutely thriving in his new environment. He is laughing hysterically and playing with stuff and just enjoying his new surroundings. I think I mentioned earlier that he loves his black cat Mike. Mike is really good with him, and it's funny to see the two of them hanging out together. Jacks two dogs are still living with Nana and Papa for another few days, then we'll have that big introduction. We hope Jack loves the dogs as much as he loves cats!
Today Michelle made a "welcome home" cake for Jack. He liked the cake a lot and ate his whole piece (we ate it in mid afternoon so the sugar will hopefully not affect bedtime too much!). While we were gone, some of Michelle's coworkers made food and stocked our freezer with some dinners to help us out during these first few days home. We have a homemade lasagna in the oven right now that smells great! Thank you to everyone who chipped in with the food drive for us. That was really thoughtful and we really appreciate your kindness!
On a totally unrelated note, we read in another couples blog today that Vladivostok got 10 inches of snow yesterday. We are glad we got out of there when we did! We love snow, but we are so glad to be home!

Guess that is all for now. Wish us luck with bedtime tonight!

Friday, October 30, 2009

We're Home!

We finally made it home after 2 long days of travel! Jack was really good on all three flights. We started out of Vladivostok for Moscow on Wednesday afternoon. Fortunately we had a bulkhead row near the front of the plane for that trip. The extra leg room provided a small play area for Jack and a place for Michelle and I to stretch out for the 9 hour flight. We had a bottle prepared for the takeoff to help Jacks ears pop with the increased elevation. Jack napped and ate on the plane with no trouble at all. Mommy and Daddy were extremely proud (and admittedly relieved) that he was so well behaved on the first flight of his life.

Upon arriving in Moscow, we grabbed our bags and headed for the Novotel Hotel near the airport. We arrived at the hotel around 5pm Moscow time which was about Midnight to our bodies after the 7 hour time change from Vladivostok. We basically just checked into the room, then settled in for our bedtime routine despite the fact that it was so early local time. We knew we would be up in the middle of the night because we were going to bed so early, but we also knew that we needed to take advantage of rest any opportunities when they present themselves on these travel days. We were up in the middle of the night for another feeding, then we all got a little catnap before starting out for the airport for our longest day of travel as a family of 3.

We checked into our flight from Moscow to the US with very little trouble which was a concern because this is where Jacks visa came into play for the first time. Fortunately we had no problems with any of our passports or visas. We made it through all the passport and security checks and finally made it to our gate, where we could at last start to breathe a sigh of relief. Everything was in place for our departure from Russia.

At the beginning of the flight from Moscow to New York, Jack cried for about 30 minutes of the first hour of the flight. We think this was more a problem with the disruption of the routines than of anything to do with the flight itself. So, we finally got Jack settled down and he was close to a perfect gentleman for the remainder of the flight. Just a side note on this flight, one of the movies shown was "Marley and Me", the movie about the the relationship between a family and their dog. Michelle and I are "dog people", and we stayed away from this movie because we knew how it ends (this is the same reason I have never seen Old Yeller). Anyway, with Jack asleep and nothing else to do on the long flight, we watched the movie and quite predictably we were a wreck at the end of it. It was a cheap shot on the part of Delta to show such a heart wrenching movie to the two of us near the end of such an already emotional journey! They could have shown "Scarface", and we probably would have bawled like babies. Having said that, the movie was great and there was a line in it that really summed up our adoption journey. One of the characters was talking about how his life wasn't quite going according to the plans he thought it would when he was younger. He wasn't complaining, he was just saying that he had one vision of how his life would be, yet it turned out differently, to which another character stated "sometimes life has a better idea". Looking at Michelle holding Jack right at the moment this line was spoken, it hit me like a giant light bulb.... yeah, sometimes life does have a better idea than what we thought would happen when we dreamed about what our lives would be like when we were younger. At that moment, there was no place I would rather have been than with my wife and new son on a flight home from adopting him.

At 2:57pm on Thursday October 29, 2009 we landed on US soil instantly making Jack a US citizen. He was asleep at the big moment, but Michelle and I hugged him and told him that we loved him and that this was a big moment for our family. We made it through customs with Jacks immigration paperwork then headed to our next gate for the flight to Norfolk. We had some downtime so Jack took a nap and Michelle and I had our first American meals (Wendy's burgers) in over a month. Jack slept the entire flight from New York to Norfolk, then Michelle's friend Jill picked us up at the airport and drove us home. Though we were fighting exhaustion, the feeling when we walked in the door of our home with Jack in our arms was amazing! We were finally home! For all the families following our blog who have yet to bring their child home, please know that the feeling you get when you walk through your front door at the end of your journey is worth every minute of the lead up to the adoption.

Today we rested and tried to get Jack acclimated to his new surroundings. He seems to love his new home, toys, books and especially his black cat, Mike. Michelle is feeding him right now, and we'll try to establish our routines again, including bath time once dinner is through.

We plan on keeping our blog going for a while so our family and friends stay up to date on how Jack is adjusting to life in the US. We appreciate all the love and support you have shown us along our journey and we invite you to continue along with us.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day 24, October 28, 2009

Hello to my new Family and Friends!

Today I start off on a long adventure to go to my new house with my Mommy and Daddy. I am very excited to see my new room, toys and of course my pets! We will land on the 29th just after 10pm. As soon as the wheels hit the ground, I am an American Citizen!
My pediatrician said that I shouldn’t have any thing new for 2 full weeks that is different other than my parents and me just hanging out – because even this will be very overwhelming for me. Daddy says that he will even wait to watch ESPN until after I go to bed at 8:30! Mommy says that they will continue to read me a book every night after bath time and I still get to eat my favorite porridge!

Tonight I get to stay the night in Moscow at another hotel. We will get there around 4pm Moscow time, but to my body it will seem like 11pm because of the time change. Mommy and Daddy said that I will probably be a real ‘pill’ by then! We will let everyone know when we are home and safe.

Paka from Russia!


Day 23, October 27, 2009

Before we begin, I think Jack has had the best commentary on the state of the Redskins season to date. Early this morning he slipped into the bathroom and unbeknownst to us, placed his Redskins football in the toilet. Basically this is where the Redskins season is headed, so Jack may be some sort of genius to be able to make this kind of commentary before he can even talk. Does anyone have any connections at ESPN? Jack needs a job as a football analyst.

Our last full day in Vladivostok started with the usual wake up time, changing, feeding, playing and loving (oh, and trying to flush a football down the toilet). When it got close to naptime, we walked down to the Duda’s room to try to say goodbye as they were leaving today. We listened at the door but didn’t hear any noise, so we thought maybe John or Kristina were asleep so we returned to our room where Michelle wrote them a “goodbye” note to slip under their door. Luckily John saw the note being passed under the door, so he took it to his Mama and all three of them came down to our room to say goodbye. We were really glad we got to say goodbye in person as we have really grown fond of our new friends. We wished them well on their travel and new lives together back in the States. I have to admit, things weren’t the same around the Vlad Motor Inn tonight as we did not see John and Kristina playing or Gloria beaming as she told us of the kids’ latest adventure. We will miss them, but we hope to see them again sometime down the road. Until later, paka Duda Family!

Tonight we went through the usual routines including bath time where for the first time Jack was uneasy for pretty much the whole bath. We made it a quick bath for him, then we put him in his jammies and read his bedtime story to him. He didn’t get a very good afternoon nap earlier in the day, so despite being a little cranky after bath time, he went to sleep relatively well. He is sleeping away in his crib right now.

Michelle packed our bags tonight (Jack helped) and we are ready to go tomorrow. We leave the VMI around 11:30am tomorrow for 2 days of travel. We have truly enjoyed our time in Vladivostok. Obviously the month we have spent getting to know our son has been world changing for all three of us. When we came to Vladivostok almost a month ago, we knew in our hearts we were already a family even though legally speaking we still had some work to do for that to be official. Because of the events of the last month, we are now officially a Forever Family. We think we have made some lifelong friends bound together by common experiences, but most importantly we used the last month to grow together as a family in every way possible.

Not a bad month.

For one of the last times…. Paka from Russia.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Day 22, October 26, 2009

Just to start the blog off right - this morning Jack had a diaper blowout that made us wonder if the Red Cross was going to show up to assist us with the disaster area he left behind. The Red Cross never showed, so we did the best we could, but it did require an impromptu bath. After that he was super happy and seemed to be laughing at Daddy (so was Mommy) because after looking at the diaper, Daddy looked as though he had seen a ghost.

A few updates on our son’s development for our family and friends are in order. First off, bath time. He does a really good job during bath time overall. We started very slow. Daddy got into the bathtub, and he showed Jackson how fun it was to take a bath. Then we would slowly work him into the tub with Daddy. We did this for the first 2 nights. The next 2 nights Jackson bathed alone. He seemed to do well, although at the end of the 2nd bath alone, he seemed to get really fussy. We weren’t sure if this was because he was afraid, or just because he was fussy. So, just in case – bath 5 was with Daddy again. For those of you reading this blog that are unaware – our son has never had a bath before because the orphanage he was in didn’t do traditional baths. Since this is totally new, we are taking it slow and trying to make it a positive experience.

Feeding is going overall very well too. He eats at 6am, 12pm and 7pm. Snacks are at 9am and 3pm just before naptimes. Since his entire world changed, we kept his feeding and sleep schedule identical for now. Jack gets upset just before feeding time, and wants to be held the entire time while I am making his food. We have been feeding him porridge every meal, but supplementing with veggies, fruit and meat (all baby food). He has a very sensitive gag reflex, and still does not chew (even though he has teeth). The baby home only fed him pureed foods so we are taking solids easy because he seems to choke. All of his food items are put on his tray with him, and as he finishes one item, it is removed from the tray. He watches this very closely and knows when one item is about gone. If we are not feeding him fast enough, he stretches his neck out and gives us a dirty look until we get him another bite. A few times, after the food is completely gone, he will cry some – but can be redirected. On fluids, he is drinking a bottle for 9am and 3pm snack. We are giving him juice cut with water for these snack times. When we first got custody, he was so dehydrated that his urine was almost gel like. He loves juice and water so we are good there too.

The bonding front is going as well as can be expected. He likes to play with us, running back and forth between the two of us to be picked up. He likes to play with Daddy, and snuggle with Mommy. During meals, he doesn’t make eye contact with us unless we hold the spoon up near our eyes, and this is how we get him to make eye contact during meals – otherwise – food is his priority. When playing, he makes below average eye contact overall. We are working on this, but for less than one week with his new parents we are proud of his accomplishments. We do plan to enforce the no holding rule for a minimum of 6 weeks for family and friends, and play the rest by ear. He tends to go play alone and ignore us so we have to really work to interact with him.

He babbles some, mainly “ba – ba”, and mainly when he is alone. He has started to babble more lately, and it is really cute. Yesterday he said “da – da”, and I am hoping it was the start of Daddy, but probably just more babble. He is laughing out loud now much more frequently, and seems like a happy little guy overall. We didn’t hear him babble hardly at all at the baby home.

Physically he seems pretty healthy. He was pulling on his right ear and had a snotty nose going on – so we started him on an antibiotic. It was a fairly traumatic event to try to give it to him through the syringe that the pharmacy gave us, so now it gets mixed into his porridge. He does have Intermittent Strabismus and at times it is severe (with his left eye). We spoke to a lot of families who adopted children with Strabismus from Orphanages, as well as several doctors – and they all feel this is a treatable issue. He has beautiful blue eyes and long eyelashes. When he bats those eyes at me I melt.

Overall, we are thrilled with the way he has opened up and adjusted. We know this is such a change for him, so we are taking everything slow. We push him a little, but not too much. When we get back to the States, we will set an appointment with his Pediatrician to address all his shots, development, and some tactile deficiencies he is having. We will also set him up with an Ophthalmologist that has dealt with Infantile Intermittent Strabismus before. We have a whole team of specialists just waiting to help us make Jackson a healthier child.

Well, I guess that covers it! We are thrilled to be a family of 3 and are blessed to have this time alone to bond and just be together as a family. We just have 1 full day left here in our son’s place of birth. Very soon, he will become a U.S. Citizen!

Paka! Paka!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Day 21, October 25, 2009

Hello from Vladivostok! It is after 8pm now, although to our bodies it is after 9pm because today was Daylight Savings Time here. What a difference an hour makes (to a 15 month old!).

We started off the day with waking up to Jack trying to make a break from his crib. He was standing up at the end of the crib pulling on the “bars”. After we assisted him in making the break – he was thrilled. He was such a happy boy this morning! He gave us a lot of smiles and hugs. We had breakfast, playtime, nap, lunch, and then we went to the beach with Gloria, Kristina and John Duda. Jack wasn’t overly thrilled with all the beach had to offer, he mainly wanted Daddy to just carry him around and talk to him. Kristina and John loved it though! They were a hoot to watch in all their energy and innocence. We had to get Jack back to stay on his basic schedule, so we walked back to the room. We saw a few trains, some birds, a couple cats, and an older man swimming in a speedo– pretty eventful.

When we got back to the room, Jack was NOT having a nap. I am not sure he got too tired or was still excited from being with the big kids – but he just wasn’t having it. We fought it for awhile, and finally just gave up. His gums are really bothering him right now, so that may have been a factor (although no fever).

This evening, Gloria had a birthday party for Kristina in the White Rabbit. She ordered a nice cake (that Kristina picked out), and brought hats, party favors and gifts (wrapped) for her. She didn’t hand out smiles for free since Bill and I were in the room, but as time went on – she would smile more and more. She loved the gifts (and cards) that Mama brought her, and seemed to like the cake a lot too. You only turn 8 once, and we are glad they let us be a part of it. Pictures do not do these kids justice. John has baby blue eyes that are lady killers, and Kristina is a strikingly beautiful young girl. Happy Birthday Kristina!

We are now back in the room and Bill is reading Jack a book and rocking him to sleep. It seems he is starting to fall asleep finally. He sucks his thumb and his pointing finger at the same time. Tonight it sounds different like he can’t get a good suction going. Bill thinks it is because I (attempted) to clip his nails today and it has thrown off his technique :)

A lot of people have been asking about his development/delays/improvements, etc. We will post on this in the next couple of days. It seems we would have a lot of time, but we really don’t, so more to come on that subject.

For now – Paka from Russia!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Day 20, October 24, 2009

Our last weekend in Vladivostok (we leave 10/28) started with Jack waking up and fidgeting around in his crib and getting to where he was in a seated position with his arms and legs hanging out of the bars. He cracks us up when he wakes up because he gives the funniest looks. Most of the time he is serious, but today he was being goofy. We brought him into bed with us to cuddle for a few minutes, and then we got out of bed and started our routines. Everything was pretty normal today, but Jack was fussy during his morning nap. It seems like every day he is fussy for either his morning or afternoon nap. So, he and I hung out this morning and rocked and just rested a bit rather than nap though he did fall asleep about 30 minutes before he was supposed to wake up so he did get a little catnap this morning.

After lunch we walked with Gloria, Kristina and John to the store. I believe both families did enough shopping to last the rest of our trips, so we had quite a few items in our baskets. The store nearby is basically a 7-Eleven (or Kwikie Mart if you will), so I think most people just stop in for a few items and then get on their way. The Duda’s and Curran’s stopped up the line with our full baskets though much to the dismay of the 4 guys buying beer and liquor for their afternoon snack. The guys seemed frustrated with us, but give us a break it was about 1pm! The booze could wait for us!

When we got back from the store the Duda’s were heading out to the playground and it wasn’t quite time for Jacks nap so we went out to play them. Michelle and I rode the slide with Jack and he enjoyed watching Kristina and John play though he seems pretty content with being held and watching from a distance rather than mixing it up with those bigger kids just yet.
This evening we ate some spaghetti here in the room and fed and played with Jack. We just got finished with another bath and now Michelle is singing Jack to sleep. Simon Cowell would probably not be sending her through to Hollywood, but Jack and I like it!

Tomorrow we think we may tag along with the Duda’s to the beach, then at night we have been invited to Kristina’s 8th birthday party!

(The pictures above are from our 1st meeting in July)

Friday, October 23, 2009

H1N1 Paranoia...Tensions Rise (comic relief)

Day 19, October 23 2009

Though it seems like today was day #250 at the Vlad Motor Inn, it was really only Day 19. Nothing against the VMI or anything, but wow Trip Two is long! We can’t wait to get home and sleep in our own beds!

Overnight Jack was a little fussy and was awake for about an hour starting around 12am. He and I hung out and rocked and tried to figure out a way to get the world out of the global economic crisis. Well, Jack was thinking about saving the world, I was thinking about how the Vols were going to beat Bama this weekend. Anyway, he went back to sleep without any trouble around 1am and even slept in a little bit this morning to compensate. We went through our normal routines today without any issues except Jack was a little fussy for the morning nap, but this was probably because he had slept a little later than usual. We played at the White Rabbit while our room was cleaned, then we headed back to the White Rabbit for dinner with Gloria, Kristina and John. Jack was really interested in what the bigger kids were doing, but he sat on Mommy’s lap and watched them rather then get involved himself.

Right now Michelle is reading Jack his bedtime story (The Little Engine That Could – one of my all time favorites). We had bath time a little while ago, and this made 4 out of 4 baths without any trouble at all. Jack even helps dump water on himself to remove soap suds!

Michelle is feeling a little better today (not really), but Jack and I have slight coughs. I sound worse than I feel and sometimes I have no voice at all so I sound like a goose honking as I try to get my words out. Once we get home we’ll all clear up our colds, but sitting together in a hotel room 22 or 23 hours a day means we are just passing stuff back and forth to each other. Jack is on an antibiotic that our International Adoption Doctor from the US prescribed before we came over here. Michelle is on the viral infection meds (see yesterdays post about the viral infection), and she and I are both taking some cough syrups and drinking a lot of juice. The juices over here are excellent by the way!

That’s all from Vladivostok tonight. We hope everyone back home has a happy Friday!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Day 18 October 22, 2009

Another fun day with Jack! So far today we have been able to stick pretty strictly to his routine from the baby home. We woke up, fed, napped and snacked at all the right times today which is a great thing for Jack. After lunch today we took him to the playground here at the Vlad Motor Inn for the first time. There we slid on the slides and swung on the swings and just enjoyed being together. We were the only ones out there, so we took his big cumbersome winter coat off of him so he could have a little more freedom. It was about 60 degrees outside today and since he was wearing a sweatshirt also it was way too warm for his coat, but we had it with us just in case some cranky Babushka’s wandered by and yelled at us. For anyone travelling to Russia for an adoption, here is some good advice for how to dress your child; take the actual outside temperature, subtract 75 to 100 degrees from this temperature and that is how you should dress your child. Instead of being called the “wind chill factor”, we can call this the “Babushka chill factor” because if your child is perceived to be underdressed, you will surely receive a chilly reaction from the locals.

Right now, Jack is napping and we are using the downtime to relax a little too. We love being parents, but wow, this is exhausting! We have a new respect for all you parents out there. Once Jack wakes up, we’ll go through the nightly routine and wake up and do it all again tomorrow. We can’t wait for him to wake up, but he really is cute when he is sleeping!

Okay, since this was sort of a short post, here are a few Michelle/Bill stories for you from the last few days.

Story 1: Michelle is still feeling the effects of her cold and ear infection, so she and our interpreter went to a pharmacy yesterday while we were out running errands. The interpreter was trying to talk Michelle into going to a doctor, but as mentioned before we have heard horror stories about doctor visits here. Anyway, after Michelle finally convinced the interpreter that she is not in fact dying, the pharmacist came out and immediately said to Michelle; “just by looking at you, I can tell you have a viral infection”. Really? Did you look into your crystal ball for that one? How can you look at someone and diagnose them? Luckily Michelle wasn’t feeling herself, or she might have countered the pharmacist with “Oh yeah? Just by looking at you I can tell you are a moron”. I wonder if the interpreter would have translated a shouting match between the two of them? That would have been a YouTube favorite!

Story 2: After the medical visit yesterday, Michelle, Jack and I as well as Gloria, Kristina and John Duda all piled into the van to leave. Once in the van, Michelle said “do I have anything on my back?” because she thought she felt a good amount of water or something drip on her while we were piling into the van. She leaned forward, and Gloria, said “yeah it looks like Jack spit up on you”. She had white stuff running down her back. Michelle then informed us that while she was in fact holding Jack at the time, he was always facing forward and therefore unable to spit up on her back. We then had a good laugh as it appeared as though a large bird had used her for target practice. Judging from the amount of poop on her shirt, Gloria and I estimate that she was either hit by a large eagle or a small pterodactyl. Michelle was a good sport about it and we all had a good laugh and helped her clean off her shirt.

Story 3: One of our errands the other day was to go to the passport office to get Jack his passport. At the passport office (like every other place we go to in Russia) I had to show my passport to the official helping us with this particular task. The woman took my passport, thumbed through it then made a comment. The interpreter translated her comment as “beautiful picture”, and I immediately turned bright red and gave an “aw shucks” kind of smile. As I was blushing, I said “tell her ‘thanks’ for the compliment”, then my interpreter informed me that she was not saying my picture was beautiful, she was stating that the drawings of American icons like the Statue of Liberty, Mt. Rushmore, etc. on the pages of American passports are beautiful. Guess I got a little too big for my britches there!

Michelle and I feel that it’s important to laugh a lot each day. Sometimes we give each other plenty to laugh at as we go about our daily routines.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Day 17 October 21, 2009

Today we woke up with Jack beside us for the first time! He went to bed around 8:10 last night and slept without any trouble until around 5:30 this morning. Michelle and I were up off and on through the night checking to make sure he was okay, which he always was. We woke up this morning when he was getting ready to wake up, and we just watched him until he was ready for us. When he finally woke up for good, he rolled into a sitting position with his arms crossed like he was waiting for a business meeting or something. We picked him up and started our day.

In the morning we kept to his usual routine per his caretakers. We fed him, played with him and put him down for his 9:30am nap. We kind of figured this nap was going to be his only real nap of the day as we were going to be out running errands during his afternoon nap time. After the morning nap, we fed him lunch and got ready for our errands. We went with Gloria, Kristina and John (as well as our driver and interpreter) to the passport office to pick up the kids’ passports. Jacks’ passport is a normal Russian passport, but it’s funny to see a little toddler’s picture on a passport. After this we went for the medical exams. Jack cried when the doctor checked him out. Maybe he was a little shy about being naked in front of someone, but maybe not because he was quite a little exhibitionist when he was naked before his bath tonight. Anyway, the doctor’s appointment went well, and we got a laugh when the doctor called Jack a “spoiled baby” when we were comforting him after the exam. It’s odd that “spoiling” a baby here means comforting them after a medical exam. After the medical exam we had a meeting at the US Consulate office in Vladivostok where we did a little interview with a US official who is in charge of helping us obtain Jacks visa.

Once the errands were done, we came back to the hotel where we made dinner and ate as a family for the first time (yesterday was a little hectic, so Michelle and I didn’t eat until after Jack was asleep). Bath time consisted of Jack and I in the tub while Michelle washed him. We are trying to ease him into the bath routine as a family because this can be one of the most traumatic events once a child is newly adopted from an orphanage. So far so good for us on the bath front, Jack has not shed a tear during the two baths we have given him.

As of now, Jack is slowly winding down from the day. He is overtired as he missed his afternoon nap except for a little catnap in the van on the way home from the Consulate office. He is just about asleep though, and Mommy and Daddy probably aren’t too far behind.

Tomorrow we don’t have anything scheduled which will be good. We can get Jack into a routine and spend some quality time with him without disrupting his nap or eating schedule like the last couple days.