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Thursday, September 28, 2006
1st doctor's visit
We took Pickle to the pediatrician for the first time today. Wow what an adventure. We decided on speaking with his pediatrician prior to making the jump to the IA clinic. Pickle is in good health and we didn't want to subject him to all of those tests and us to the cost if it wasn't truly needed.

Dr. H was awesome. Very friendly and handled our little man well. Pickle didn't scream like he did with the dumbass doc in Moscow. He was cautious, but behaved nicely. Of course Dr. H was running late so the appointment worked its way into lunch time. Ritz crackers were not holding Mr. Hungry over. At latest measurement Pickle weighs 22 pounds. Still small for his age, but we suspect he will grow like a weed.

Pickle also had a few updates to his vaccinations this morning. Holy crap people. As a mother that is just about the hardest thing ever to watch. CS held him while I tried my best to comfort him in Russian. Man alive did that kid scream. My poor baby. Had to get 4 shots. Good news is so far it hasn't made him feel ill at all. With any luck he will take it easy and sleep for more than an hour this afternoon.

I have also made a mommy mistake. Pickle and I got so busy gardening yesterday that we both forgot his afternoon snack. Well... it was more like I forgot and Pickle reminded me by standing at the front door looking in saying "Ban, Ban." Which is Pickle for banana. Oops. So he had 1/2 a banana for snack, but it was too close to dinner to give him too much more. Here is what happens when you forget to feed our boy an afternoon snack. He effectively cleaned out the drawer with all of his dishes and sat on the kitchen floor pretending to eat and saying, "num-num." Hint hint mama... kick it into gear with the dinner would ya?

This afternoon my boy found Sesame Street. I tell you the boy is a genius. I was fixing lunch for CS and me and I was watching my afternoon guilty pleasure of a soap opera when I heard something that sounded distinctly like Elmo. Yep... somehow Pickle figured out how to turn the channel to PBS. Don't know how he did it, but he did. Smart kid. Yeah that is my boy lounging about learning how to count.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Everything in Mashed Potatoes tastes better
We have discovered the secret to getting Pickle to try new things. Coat it in mashed potatoes. Chicken and mashed potatoes... a hit! Throw in some cooked carrots and we have gourmet people. Damn I am an awesome mom. It only took me 4 weeks to figure this little gem out. We have eaten 5 lbs of potatoes in 1 week. CS and I don't eat 5 potatoes in a month! Good thing I like mashed potatoes.

Also for your viewing pleasure is a photo of my little fireman joe. Nooooo you don't get the bathtub photo, but this one is better.

Pickle has this fascination with telephones. We aren't quite sure where he picked this up. We never talked on the phone in Russia and hardly do here either. I was talking to my girlfriend Danielle the other night on the phone and Pickle grabs the phone from me and runs away. He really wants to talk too. So we gave him a DVD player remote to play with until we could get him his own phone. I tried looking for one at the store today, but didn't like any of the ones I saw. They all make noise and he has enough noisy toys right now. Well leave it to Captain Smartypants to find a solution. He found an old cell phone of ours and gave that to him. The boy loves it!! Once I get my new cell phone he can have my flip phone and that will be like gold to him!!

We visited our church for the first time yesterday and he thought that was pretty fun. He was able to meet some of my co-workers and one of our pastors. He loved the sanctuary. It is covered in stained glass and very colorful. Hopefully we will be able to make it to church this Sunday. I am just not sure if he will be able to sit still and be quiet for an hour. I will bring the trusty crayons and color book and other quiet busy activities, but we'll see. Once we are home for a while and really settled we will be able to start Babies Music class. That is on Tuesday nights at 5:15. He loves music and instruments so it should be fun.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Full of Adventure
There are lots of firsts going on in the Pickle household. We took our first trip to Target, the grocery store and even CompUSA. (I needed photo paper) Pickle is also sleeping at nap time and all through the night in his crib. Hallelujah!!!

Last night Pickle received his first haircut in the US. I won't say it was his first haircut ever since he had a few in Russia. He was a bit unhappy with me during the experience. Yes... I was brave and cut my son's hair myself. I used to cut CS's hair when we lived in Kansas and were poor. Thus I own a clippers. I must say my haircut job looks mighty smart. It was basically a trim. Poor kid's hair was hanging over his ears and in his eyes.

I also broke out the fireman bath kit that I bought eons ago. It has a sponge, wash mitt, fire extinguisher squirter thing, 2 kinds of bubble bath and... a fireman hat. You know the person that came up with this thing was as cruel of a parent as me. You know bath time with your son wearing a fireman hat is just an invitation for photos. I know you would all love to see those, but I just have this thing about posting that type of photo on the internet. I am trying to be cautious of my wording here lest I get all kinds of weird hits on my blog. Let's just say the photos are priceless and will come in quite handy when Pickle is oh say... 16 and going on his first date. See, I told you I was a cruel mom.

The other first was his first trip to his new sandbox. Babada and Dedu made Pickle a makeshift sandbox to tide him over until next spring. It really is just a kiddie pool filled with play sand, but he loves it. He got a beach set from his great-grandma at my shower and he decided to shovel the sand up onto himself. Quite humorous. By the time he was done he had sand from head to toe.

Pickle is also quite pro at getting into the things mommy really doesn't want him to play with. He does it covertly also. He will go into another room and be very quiet. Usually I think he is being an angel child and playing nicely (more the fool me.) When in reality he is doing things like trying to drink out of CS's water glass and spilling it on CS's night stand. Or he is reaching the little bars of chocolate that I thought were far enough back, opening them up and eating them. Yes, my son stole chocolate. He has never had chocolate and he gnawed about a 1/2" off of a bar this morning. Yeah... nap time was fun this afternoon.

So life is full of interesting stories around here. Sorry there was no post yesterday. I figure most of you don't read on the weekends anyway. I did go back and add photos to some of my posts from Russia. Don't comment on those. I am too lazy to go back and see if there are additional comments. I am also working on moving my parenting stories over to Life of Elle. If you see posts here becoming infrequent check there. Unexpected Miracles is mostly about the adoption and the journey there. Since the adoption is finished I wanted to begin concluding this act of our journey.
Friday, September 22, 2006
On another topic
Today I am tired of writing about sleeping and eating issues. I am very aware that you all love a good Pickle story, but hey... this is still my blog dammit and I will write about what I want to.

One thing I love about traveling are the souvenirs. I love to buy little things that remind me of where I have been. I also love to collect simple little things like coins (of which I collect foreign money) and ticket stubs. My favorite thing in Pickle's room is a gigantic O that is decopaged with a map of Khabarovsk and other little bits of paper that I collected on our last trip.

My friends Darrel and Pat have this little tradition that after they go on a trip Pat will make a shadow box of their trip. It is his way of scrapbooking. Since I really suck at scrapbooking I now do the same thing. I have one from NY, Khabarovsk (from our 1st trip) and Korea. I plan on doing one from this last trip to Russia too.

Their are other things that I love to buy too. On this particular trip I didn't come back with much for myself. I did that the previous 2 trips. I have black lacquer ware, blue porcelain, matroyskas (intricate, huge and expensive ones) and other little doo-dads. This trip I bought Pickle a pair of hand knit mittens and matching socks from a little old woman in the Central Market, a cross at the big gold church (which I also collect), CS got a beautiful icon of Jesus, and a jar of nasty Amur River water. I also bought the obligatory vodka and chocolate, but only 1 bottle for us and 4 little bars of chocolate.

Of course in Moscow I had to buy a few things too. The most coveted is a CCCP hockey jersey with Kharlamov's name and number. Don't know who he is? Look it up. I also talked CS into buying me a piece of artwork. Their was a man selling water colors and pen and ink art on Old Arbat. I have a blank spot on my office wall that has been aching for a nice bit of art. This happens to fit the bill! I just need a frame now.

Now one can't go to Switzerland and not buy something their either. Even though we were just in the airport. Got me a new Swiss watch!! Yep... it is a Swatch, but they are cheaper there than here. It is just too darn cute. Very kitchy with a frog and fish on it. Kathou and I were looking for one with a drunken monkey, but couldn't find one. Of course you also can't leave Switzerland without chocolate. Now I know I said that Russian chocolate was the best ever... well... I kinda was wrong about that. But there is a caveat here. Russia has the best dark chocolate ever. Switzerland... Truffles. Oh. My. God.

There happens to be this soul of chocolate exhibit at the Zurich airport right now. There are these 2 big booths where there are chefs hand crafting chocolates right in the airport. We happened to walk by when one was doing truffles. Of course they are giving free samples. Yeah, we bought 1/2 a dozen. We should have bought more. We ate 4 of them last night. They put mine to shame.

Anyway... that was my shopping adventure abroad. Loved it.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Greetings from the alive and awake
First I would like to say my boy is currently taking his nap so I have my 1 hour mommy break. The fact that he is napping is not the amazing thing here people. It is the fact that he is... IN HIS CRIB!!!!! He didn't cry or fuss too much. We put him in there CS left the room. I sat in the rocking chair next to him and he played around for a little while. He really fights the whole sleeping thing, but he is 2 so it isn't a shock. Anyway, with a little coaxing from mama he eventually fell asleep.

Ok, now onto important stuff. I will say that the trip home was like a dream. Literally and figuratively (wow that's a big word for my state of mind.) Once the plane hit the air out of Zurich Pickle fell fast asleep. I wish the same could be said for the parents. We watched a movie and enjoyed the best meal we have had in nearly 4 weeks. I can say one thing... Swiss Air knows how to feed you. Hot coissants for breakfast, awesome baked pasta with cream, Camembert cheese and salad for lunch, strawberry ice cream as your snack. OMG it was fantastic. They gave Pickle a little stuffed airplane and a point & see book that he loved. Of course he was only awake for 2 hours of the flight to enjoy them. He slept 6 1/2 hours on that flight.

Our layover in Chicago was too short for any napping. We cleared customs no problem and Pickle and Chickadee immigrated without a hitch. Mama was horribly airsick by the time we landed in Chicago though. And of course Pickle had fallen asleep on landing so here is our boy's first photo as an American Citizen. Nice!

Pickle also slept nearly the entire flight from Chicago to Seattle. We woke him up an hour before landing because I wanted to wash him up and change him. He wasn't so thrilled about that.

We were met at the airport by my Mom and Mike, CS's Dad and Sister G, Pickle's Great-Grandparents, our friend Marlice and 2 of Pickle's "Grandmas" Nancy and Pam. There were eager faces peering down the escalator waiting for their very own Pickle Spotting. We didn't get any photos of them, but we do have video.

Pickle did really well with all the new people. He even let some of them hold him for just a second. As soon as he spotted CS or me he wanted to go back. We said our good byes to Kathou, Paypay and Chickadee and then headed for our car. Pickle did really well in the car seat. He wasn't too sure about it, but never cried. We made the obligatory stop at McDonalds for some much needed food. (damn you again United Airlines!!) Pickle wolfed down almost an entire small french fry.

It was like heaven to see our house again. The cats were just as glad to see us. First thing we did was show Pickle his new room. He took one look at the bed and the Warner Bro's hockey print on the wall and knew this was a good thing. We had been showing him photos of his room during the whole trip.

He is in love with the cats and they are tolerating him very well. He loves his new toys and actually likes the ones that make noise. Of course he did find other "toys" to play with like the coasters, a cup from our last trip to Russia, and the umbrella.

Despite yesterday being 35 hours bed to bed we are all doing remarkably well. I am knee deep in laundry and the top of my kitchen table is a bit of a mystery, but we are getting there. All 3 of us slept like the dead last night. The bed was awfully crowded though. 5 bodies is a little too much. Thus the transition to the crib. We can't lock the cats out of the room because they will claw at the door and Pickle elbowed me right in the mouth this morning. Pretty soon I am going to look like I was in a bar fight. I ran into the corner of the wall shelf in Pickle's room with my head last night.

Well better run. Laundry isn't going to fold itself.

Before I run too far I want to give huge congrats to everyone who got good news while we were gone. M3 and the girls!!! I still can't believe twins! Michelle and her little princess! Bethee got a court date and so did my girl RHONDA!!!!!! I am way too excited for all of you. I am here to tell you that your life is the best once you walk in the door of your home carrying your child in your arms. Doesn't matter how tired you are it is the best feeling ever. Congrats ladies. Much love to all of you!!!!
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
We're HOME!!!
Just a quick note to let you all know that we made it home safe and sound. We're exhausted, stinky, and did I mention dead tired? Going to give Pickle a quick bath and then see if we can get him calmed down enough to go to bed (though he did sleep on the car ride home). Will post tomorrow about our adventure after we sleep enough to make a coherent sentence.
Live from the chocolate capital of the world!
We made it to Zurich!!! We were all too happy to bid Russia good-bye.

At last we made it to a land where I can read the signs. I may not speak German, but at least I can recognize the alphabet.

I do apologize for last nights post. I was exhausted, but I thought I would try to do one last post. However, I think it is a good representation of how I was feeling.

This morning we had to be up at 3:15 to get ready to meet Andrei at 4 am. I got out of bed first and showered. Pickle didn't even stir. All 3 of us slept pretty well. CS being the best, me being better than the night before.

We let CS pick the line for check-in. We certainly won't be making that mistake again. He happened to pick the lady who's computer was on the fritz. It took forever for us to get checked in. Once we were through security (of which the security guy taught me don't cry in Russian and I promptly forgot) we sought out food. We found a little bar that had food, but no Pickle food. But they did have bananas. So we ordered a raspberry yogurt cake and banana (for Pickle), a cottage cheese thing for Mama and a chocolate eclair for daddy. Everyone seemed to be happy.

The flight was looking to be a hairy one when Pickle decided to start screaming when I stopped walking to board the plane. The passengers were looking at me like I was world's worst mother. Either that or they were secretly fearing they would be seated next to us. Pickle did amazingly well on the flight. He only fussed a little. I can't say the same for Chickadee. She pitched a royal fit. I don't blame the kids at all for being cranky.

Once we arrived in Zurich we did a little walking around. There is a Starbucks here, but it is outside of security and we can't take the kids out of security. Sorry Wayne. No mug from Switzerland.

We had a feast from Burger King for lunch. Pickle is driving us nuts with food right now. He wouldn't eat the mac n' cheese at the Hard Rock last night. Nor would he eat the french fries. What child doesn't like french fries? So for lunch we tried chicken nuggets and fries again. Chicken was a no go and so were the fries. Then we tried a hamburger. Big fat Nyet. CS went and bought him some milk. He loved that and then we tried the fries again. Bingo!!! He ate an entire small fry and half of the milk box.

Now we are waiting for our flight. Pickle is refusing to nap despite all of our efforts. I think we are wearing a groove in the floor here. It was our luck on the flight from Moscow to Zurich that he didn't sleep then either. It was the instant after touchdown that my boy was out like a light. Of course then he woke up when we were getting off the plane. Damn.

So the hope now is mother nature will take over and he will sleep on the flight to Chicago. Wish us luck on our last 2 legs. Our next post will be after we welcome home America's newest citizens!!
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Good lord get me home
Soooooo tired. 4 hours sleep in somewhere around 48 hours. baby just fell asleep too. no nap. hardly any food. screamed then fell asleep. took about 2 minutes.

facillitator guy just called. will be here in 30 minutes to get money for doc that he forgot this morning. That means 2 hours Moscow time. Feckin doc was over an hour late this morning.

Saw Red Square. Gum. Old Arbat. Bought my hockey jersy. ate at Hardrock. I feel so crappy food wasn't even good. Pickle didn't eat.

Going to bed. Facillitator comes at 4 am
And you thought it would be easy
We made it to Moscow although I am not sure that I am exactly alive. Pickle certainly is. He is running around our hotel room saying, “Mama, all done.” CS is in the shower at the moment. He still calls him Mama.

So where to begin…

At about 3:45 CS started taking the suitcases downstairs while Pickle whined at me. He is having Daddy separation anxiety at the moment. We finally went down the elevator saying goodbye to the Markuel. While we were waiting for Lena and Andrei we started to smell this beautiful aroma. Actually it was more like putrid poo. Ahh that could only be our son’s brand. Seeing as we had already turned in our key I grabbed the kid and ran back inside hoping to catch Kathou and Paypay. They were just getting off the elevator and here is this crazy woman asking them for their apartment key. The front desk lady gave me my key and I ran upstairs to change Pickle. False alarm!!! Only gas. You see Pickle is very regular at pooping, but he only does it every other day. Yesterday was his day. Lovely. We were praying that he would have his moment before we got to the airport. No such luck.

The car ride to the airport was uneventful. We were lucky enough to not have to pay any overweight charges for our luggage either. Woo Hoo!!! Pickle was tired and starting to get hungry so the whining started. We checked into our flight, went through passport control and the final screening check point. We can say with certainty that if we were not already sterile 3 trips to Russia will make you so from all the x-ray machines and security screening.

We arrived into the waiting area with about an hour to spare before our flight was supposed to leave. Pickle and I walked up and down and up and down the waiting area. At 5:15 they called a flight and people started heading toward the door. Of course they never make the announcement in English so we just did what we do every time we leave Khabarovsk; follow the heard. We got to the little lady who says Da or Nyet on letting you on the bus to the plane. We were a nyet. At that very moment my angelic son decides to throw a tantrum. An all out screaming bone chilling tantrum. This is after he had bonked his head on the floor in the waiting area and wailed then too.

I calmed him down and he was looking out the window at the lack of activity when that precious aroma wafted up again. I was smart and did a diaper check this time. Sho Nuf!!! My boy pooed at the Khabarovsk airport where the concept of a changing table is totally foreign. CS and I looked around for an appropriate place to change him and the only thing we could find was some sort of electrical box in the vestibule outside of the washrooms. How fast can you change a poopy diaper? I think I set the record on that one yesterday.

After the load was lightened our boy was a happy one. We got on the plane and departed an hour late. He played with his toys. The flight attendants cooed over the babies. It was setting out to be a pleasant flight. Then I had to pee. Ok… first it is amazing that I only peed 5 times on an eight hour flight. That is amazing in itself. But, if you saw the toilets on this flight you would know why. They were the grossest things I have ever seen. And I have used the porta-crappers at the Hoover Dam in July. One was so bad I walked in and walked right back out. So bad I couldn’t even muster the strength to photograph it. So bad I was wishing for the squatty potty back at the Khab airport.

I will give kudos to the people at Aeroflot. They gave us a little bag that had 2 diapers, wipes and a plastic bib. They also gave Pickle a little book with cartoons in it and they brought pillows from first class so we could attempt to make a bed for him. When he was fighting the sleep (and I mean fighting with the screaming and the yelling) they brought me warm milk for him.

With the exception of trying to get my exhausted child to sleep in a strange place the flight went by quickly. I only bit CS’s head off once! I think I cried once too.

Arriving in Moscow was absolutely fantastic!!! I was just too excited to see the MOCKBA sign. We had to wait about 30 minutes to get off the plane. Then we boarded the bus to take us to the terminal. Once in the terminal the bags came fairly quickly. This was not quick enough for one exhausted 23 month old. He started pitching a fit and crying. The good news is they didn’t make us put our bags through the x-ray thing again.

We found Andrei (a different Andrei) and loaded our bags into the car and took the world’s scariest car ride to our hotel.

The hotel is magnificent. It is one of Stalin’s Seven Sisters and is simply gigantic. The Russian White House is right across the river from us. We did make some new friends in the lobby while waiting for the guys to bring the bags in. Kathou and I were in the lobby and these 3 women came by and were oggling over the babies. One said, “What cute babies.” And I responded with, “Oh!! You speak English!” This prompted a conversation with two women from NY and one from WI. They were just thrilled that we were adopting these children. They wanted to know all about it. It was very funny. Had I had a camera with me I would have taken their photo.

At 9:00 pm we finally checked into our room. Of course we were both starving, had a tired baby and still had to fill out our Embassy paperwork. Near 11:00 we were able to finally go to bed. This was fun with a child who was punch drunk nutty by this point. 11:00 pm in Moscow is 6:00 am in Khabarovsk.

After more screaming and crying Pickle finally fell asleep. Elle… not so much. I think between 11:00 pm and 3:00 am I peed 5 times. Then the boy was awake. We tried everything. We cuddled him, we even tried putting him in the crib they gave us. He just rocked in the crib. We both tried to comfort him, but this was just not going to fly. Finally we picked him up and put him back in the bed. It wasn’t until about 5:00 am that he fell back to sleep. That hour and a half between him falling asleep and the alarm going off was the best sleep the both of us have ever received in our lives.

The doctor was supposed to make his showing at 7:30 this morning, but it is 8:20 and still no doc. So we are trying to keep Pickle occupied so he doesn’t realize he is hungry. Good news is our Embassy appointment is at 1:30 then we make a quick run to register the kids and then Andrei is free to take us around the city. We made our request for Arbat, Red Square and the Hard Rock.

Well this has rambled on long enough. I will try for one more post before we leave.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Good Bye Khabarovsk
Our last day in Khabarovsk finds us full of tantrums. Pickle is still testing us with food. He is trying to be picky, but we know full well he will eat what we feed him. He is just being a poop and trying to tell us he is all done when in reality it is just a way to get us to feed him something that he really wants. He will also pitch a fit if we don’t give him his milk or juice at the end of the meal. We did learn that it is best to feed him in courses. If you put too much food in front of him or try to give him his liquid with the food he just plays with it. We also learned to give him the stuff he really likes (read: bananas and yogurt) at the end of the meal.

Pickle is very confused by what exactly is going on here. We pack his favorite things when he is sleeping and then he doesn’t notice as much. Fortunately there are a bunch of toys that were already here and we are leaving them so he still has stuff to play with.

He slept very well last night and that was a good thing for mommy. He is finally starting to whimper a little when he wakes up in the night. He doesn’t give us any indication that he needs comfort when he is sleeping. It becomes difficult to gauge when he is waking up from his nap and such.

We are way too excited to finally be headed home. A part of me will miss this place as it will be a long time before we come back. Khabarovsk has its charm, but it is tiring when you can’t read anything or communicate with anyone.

We want to thank all of you for your prayers, support and comments. Reading your comments has been the highlight of our mornings. It is our routine to have breakfast and then go straight to the computer. Of course we are looking forward to the computer at home and unlimited internet access. I am personally looking forward to getting this blog back to looking normal. I miss all my side graphics. (I removed them to make the blog load faster here)

I will try to post photos on all of our posts once I get home too. I hear that the beta version of blogger is much better at posting photos. I hope that is true.

Well… we are off for the first leg of our adventure home.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Pickle's new best friend
Well today is our last full day in Khabarovsk. Tomorrow Lena comes at 2:00 to take CS and Paypay to the passport office to pick up the kid’s passports. Then we leave for the airport at 4:00 for our 6:00 flight. We are really hoping for a happy baby on the 8 hour flight to Moscow. Please pray for me.

We spent our last day out on the town. We took a walk this morning just to get out of the apartment. Pickle took a short nap and Irina paid us a visit. She brought all of our Embassy paperwork and Pickle’s original birth certificate and Adoption certificate. We also got copies of the photos that were taken for his passports. We are calling them his mug shots. Quite funny!

This morning I started to do some packing. Pickle helped by kindly unfolding the clothes that I had so nicely folded. Pickle snatched a pair of CS’s underpants and I went out to the living room to find where he had stashed them. No where to be found. I went back into the bedroom to find my boy wearing his dad’s underpants. He was also so nicely trying to wear a pair of mine as a shirt. And oh yes… I did get photos. Am I going to post a photo? Hell NO!!! Would you want a photo of your dirty underpants on the internet? I didn’t think so. I can say, though, that it was probably the single most hilarious moment of this trip. I was laughing so hard I was crying.

This afternoon we took one last trolley ride into town to meet another American couple. We met Debra, but her son was napping so we didn’t meet Ron or Nikolai. We had a nice chat and then were off to find the Archaeology museum. We walked into this tiny little museum and found a woman sitting at a desk. She tried to tell us it was the Archaeology museum. We kinda figured by the sign outside. We paid 280 rubles for the 3 of us. I asked if I could photograph and she said that would cost me 100 rubles. Fair enough. I was so glad I did pay to take photos. I got one that is simply priceless. The museum is upstairs in this building and at the top of the stairs was the little lady we had heard about. In all museums there is a little woman that makes sure you pay enough attention to each and every exhibit. Sho nuff! She took one look at Pickle and scooped him right up to show him the displays. He did not care at all. We were free to look around at the displays while the lady watched my child. It was quite nice! She saw that we had paid our rubles to photograph and she made sure we did. One or the other of us had to pose with Pickle at each of the non glassed in exhibits. She took Pickle from room to room and told him about the artifacts and taught us that Riba is Russian for fish. We told her that CS was an archaeologist and she said that Pickle would grow up to be an archaeologist like his daddy. (gawd I hope not) Pickle loved the museum. He ohhed and ahhed at all the artifacts. Man this boy is going to be a smart one!! Woo hoo!!!!! My priceless photo was of Pickle and his little museum buddy.

We took the trolley bus back to the apartment and are planning on enjoying a quiet evening at home. Lucky for me the Khabarovsk Amur Hockey team started pre-season (or regular season) and their games have been on TV. In fact there is one on right now. Man they suck.
Friday, September 15, 2006
Adoptions, Marriages and Government, oh my
I apologize for yesterday’s abrupt post. I happened to wake up on the wrong side of the bed yesterday and by the time I got to posting I was in a very foul mood. Part of it was because I didn’t get much sleep that night. Pickle spent the night digging his head into my back. Not fun.

So a little more about becoming “official” parents. After signing the adoption decree we went to the vital statistics office. The children didn’t have to go for this part, but we had two very sleepy and cranky kids so we decided to all go in. Well… it was Friday and that means wedding day. Weddings happen here usually Wednesday through Saturday with Friday being the most common. Weddings also happen at the vital statistics office and not in churches. Really! Bride and groom in their wedding finery and their small number of guests crammed into the little wedding area of the VS office. There was one wedding party there when we arrived, a bride and groom arrived shortly thereafter and another as we were leaving. Pickle didn’t want to just sit. He was more interested in wandering around the small office. Of course there were people trying to get married and I don’t think their wedding video would be that good if there was my screaming child in the background. I bet you were wondering where the name Babaganush came from. We started calling him that before we got to the VS office, but once we started to think about it, it was quite appropriate. If you have seen the movie The Wedding Crashers you know that Vince Vaughn’s character’s nickname is Babaganush. And he happens to be a wedding crasher. Well… this is what Pickle was doing. Essentially crashing a wedding.

Pickle was tired of being cooped up in the office so I took him outside to walk around. A little while later Irina comes out with Kathou and Chickadee (yeah, I’m changing it, that is what Kathou calls her.) Irina says we are to take the kids back to the apartment. Fine by me. Pickle was starving.

Now what I didn’t know is what was happening at the Vital Statistics office. CS and Paypay were there to sign the kid’s birth certificates. They go into the little office to sign and then the woman stands up and says some words in Russian. (they actually are pretty much the same thing the lady with the Adoption Decree says) Anyway, CS looks at Paypay and asks, “Are we married now?” Little did I know that our husbands were getting married. When they walked out of the VS office there were some rose petals on the ground and Paypay turns to CS and says, “oh look rose petals!” CS says, “only the best for our wedding day.” Does this mean I have 2 husbands now?

In the afternoon we took another trolley ride into town to go to the central market. This was a chocolate buying mission. Since the weather is still nice the outside produce vendors were still there. I only wish we had gone sooner. They had lettuce, fresh herbs, and corn on the cob!! We thought we might take a chance and try the corn on the cob. We went up to a vendor and asked for 3 ears. The woman reaches into a bag and pulls out an ear that is dark yellow and hot. Then there was an older man who was very jubilant. Evidently she was selling cooked corn on the cob. So we took one of those and 4 ears of uncooked. Note to readers: If you come across a woman in an open air market selling hot corn out of a bag don’t eat it. This stuff is the nastiest stuff evah!!! It tasted like paste. Hot corn paste. Ewwwwww.

Last night we had our farewell potluck for Jamie & Suzanne. The dinner was fantastic!! Their Pelmeni happened to taste better than ours. I am going to have to figure out how she did that. Pickle did amazingly well. He was a little confused when I started to get the plates out, but didn’t set the table. Then we herded him out of the kitchen and he started to cry. We made him follow the food next door. He ate all of his food on his own. He never does this at our house.

The kids played well together and Andy made a point to watch out for Pickle and Chickadee. When they went where they weren’t supposed to he would carry them back to the correct parent. It was quite cute.

The Chandlers leave today, but we won’t be without another AIA family for long. Another couple arrives tomorrow morning and another tomorrow night. Then Monday it is outta hea for us!!!!

We only have 1 day to do stuff in Moscow so we may not have time to post. We do have the free dial-up that we thought we would have here so I may try the picture posting again.

We may forego Pickle’s nap on Tuesday just to get the sights in. We figure there is plenty of time to sleep on the plane ride home. The 3 main sights we want to see are Arbat Street (mainly so I can get my hockey jersey), Red Square and a must is a meal at the Hard Rock. Gawd I could go for a big fat cheeseburger and salad. Drooooool.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Photos, Photos, Photos
Due to techincal difficulties we are unable to publish photos of Oleg on our Blog. Blame Blogger. They are the ones causing me greif.

I will say that we are really really offically the parents of Oleg!!! We signed the official Adoption decree this morning. It was quite a nice little time. A lady said some official words like, "he now has a family and you now have a child. We wish you the best as a new family." I wish I had my camera. I didn't know.

So we did a work around on the photo thing. I started a yahoo group where I posted photos. For now it is open to anyone to register. Once we get home and blogger stops being stupid I am going to take it down. The address is
I do hope that works. You will have to register for the group. There should be prompts on how to do it. If there aren't I apologize. I figure those of you in the adoption community you are very familiar with yahoo groups. For the rest I am sorry. This is all I know how to do at this point given my truncated internet time.
Sugar does WHAT to my kid??!!?
Today we have only had one major temper tantrum. Hey, this is good for a kid who is almost two and only been with a family for a week! The tantrum was a good one though. Pickle threw a toy across the room and was sternly told NO. He did not like this, thus pitching a fit.

I think we may have a winner on the sleep issues. Today we went with option A. We put him to bed as usual and checked on him repeatedly. After about an hour he started to rock. We let him do this and he didn’t really get that close to the edge of the bed. His rocking only lasted a minute or two and was not that violent. Rather it was gentle. Soon he fell back to sleep and slept for almost 30 minutes more. He woke up a very happy baby. Now we have a happy mommy.

He did have one tantrum after nap time, but it wasn’t terrible. So we went on an adventure. We rode the trolley bus into town and walked toward the river. The weather is gorgeous today! Not a cloud in the sky and about 72 degrees. We thought we might try to find the oldest Orthodox Church in Khabarovsk today. It is near the Intourist hotel and the Lenin Sports Complex. Of course if you know the lore of Khabarovsk you know that the tale goes it was built on the backs of 3 giant whales that came to rest on the shore. This means the 3 main roads run along the backs of the whales. Our apartment is on the top of one, downtown on top of another and the Intourist at the bottom past downtown. So we had to walk down a giant hill to get to the church. Down wasn’t the problem. It was the getting back that sucked. (I’ll get to that in a minute)

First we visited the sports complex. It is a huge park with a big soccer stadium that they turn into an outdoor hockey arena in the winter. It is right on the water. The church is located just outside the fence of the complex. It is the smallest of the 3 major Orthodox churches. It is constructed of brick with green steeples and gold domes. There is a beautiful little garden around the outside and the inside is quite quaint. The paintings on the inside are by far the most beautiful we have seen. I only wish you could take photos of the interior of these churches. I may have to scan a few photos out of a book I have and post them when we get home. We wandered around to the back of the church and found this mosaic in the wall.

It was amazing. I tried to find a cross to buy, but the churches all carry the same stuff. I have one from the blue church and one from the Gold church. I didn’t find one I really needed to have.

Our outing happened to be during snack time so I did like have done in the past and brought snack with me. This usually consists of Gerber banana puffs or Goldfish crackers. Today Pickle got the puffs and we thought we would try a very special treat, a Dum Dum sucker. The idea is this would be a good thing for him to suck on during take off and landing on the airplane. Giving a sucker to a two year old who has never had sugar is a very bad idea. At first this was the greatest thing our boy has ever tasted. He sucked that thing to the last. He had sticky everywhere. On his hands, face, and even his jacket. Then all was well. We continued our stroll down the walk. We enjoyed the sun, looked at the water, watched the boats. All was good!

We got to the point where you go up the stairs to town from the river and we took one look at the stairs and said, “who is going to carry the boy up?” Oh yeah… there are 222 of them (we counted last time). We saw the gold church and though that it didn’t look that far away. We could walk along the water, grab an ice cream, and stroll back to the apartment. Ok… let’s go back to that whale thing shall we? We had to walk up a giant hill to get to the church. We had already walked down one big one, around a sports complex, a church and the river. My feet were killing me.

Now let’s revisit the sucker incident. About half way back to the apartment Pickle started talking. Not so sure you could call it talking exactly. More like babbling and he couldn’t shut up. He said beep-beep for ever car that passed or that we passed. Other things thrown in there included la-la, ma-ma and hulla-bulla-bulla. This wasn’t our timid little quiet boy. He was yelling this stuff. The both of us were laughing hysterically. The Russians were looking at us like we were nuts! This all as a result of 2 very smart parents giving their child a very small sucker. Yeah, we’re awesome like that. In fact my son is still bouncing off the walls.

Pickle has also whipped out a new trick when playing with Wobbles. When she takes a toy away from him he rips it back out of her hand and yells, “YA.” We take this to mean MINE!!! Lovely. Mmmmm, baby brawls.

Well I am off to cook us some sort of dinner. We are sick of Pelmeni so we are doing hamburger and potatoes. CS asked if I could put pepper, garlic powder, and season salt on the hamburgers. He said then they would be gourmet!
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
No Rocks for you (literally)
Thank you all for your participation in this week’s coffee talk. I know I usually give you a few days to post your responses, but seeing as my family really would egg my house if I didn’t post everyday, you only get one day.

I read the 13 responses I had by this morning and the majority of you voted for option B. So I thought I would try it today. It did not work so well. He had been sleeping for a little over an hour and I checked on him and he was rocking. I went in and put my hand on his stomach like I do at night and he woke up. It may be that he really is one of those children that only needs an hour nap.

Normally he is pretty agreeable after nap time. But oh not today buddy. We had planned on going out to the river this afternoon. CS started to put his shoes on, but the ones he got didn’t fit. So he set them down. Pickle started to cry. Before I grabbed the shoes that did fit I got the video camera to put in my bag. Pickle took one look at it and started wailing. This was unlike a cry we had heard before. It was far worse than we had heard yet. It took a good ten minutes to calm him down.

Once we did get him calmed down we had quite a nice outing. We found stairs that go to no where. We thought there was a way to get down to the river from the back of the war memorial. There were stairs at the back. We ventured down the stairs, but they only seemed to go to a dirt trail. Further down the trial were dilapidated buildings that people really do live in. We never did find the way down to the river. So we thought we would find the Geology Museum.

The Geology Museum is the closest museum to our apartment. It is in an old brick mansion. A stroll down Lenin Street yielded an old brick building tucked away behind some trees. A small sign outside read “Geology Museum.” CS tried the door and as he did two older women came out. She asked if we were looking for the museum. Unfortunately, the museum is closed for remodel. So no museum for us.

Since that is the extent of our life right now I thought I would give some further tidbits for those coming to Khabarovsk for their second trips. If you are with AIA you will be staying at the MarKuel. It is a nice joint with most of the modern conveniences of home. I apologize if I have mentioned these tidbits in the past. I am grasping at straws of stuff to write about.

My favorite thing I brought was my French press. (yeah yeah, I’ve said that) No really! Not only does it make fantastic coffee, it works as a pitcher to pour things. Water comes in giant jugs and is not very portable. So we pour it into the press and then into our smaller water bottles. This works well for Kefir too. Kefir comes in bags and it only keeps for a few days once opened. The trick is finding something to keep it in. We pour it into the press pitcher and then into an empty larger water bottle. Then it will keep for 2 days or so.

There is a little grocery very close to here. Most of what you need is there with the exception of meat. The store doesn’t always have the same stuff everyday. For example, there will be baby swiss cheese one day and not the next.

Other food bits: Bring items such as taco seasoning or chili mix. Buy the butter from New Zealand. It is better with less water. The 3.2% milk is close to what we have at home, but it has a “fresh from the cow” flavor. I personally don’t care for it. Rhonda, when checking for expiration date it is the second date and read month/day/year.

We recommend a stroller as opposed to a hip hammock. I didn’t bring a hip hammock, but got one from another family that was here. I tried it once with Pickle and he screamed. The stroller has been a godsend!

If you come in colder months bring a clothes line that you can use inside. It takes forever for clothes to dry when you put them outside.

There are no wash cloths here. Bring them. They are handy for wiping off sticky faces and hands.

Anyone else have suggestions on what you should or should not bring? I want to hear from those who have been on their second trip with the 10 day not waived. Anything you wish you would have brought or wished you’d left at home?

Only 7 more days until we are home!
Monday, September 11, 2006
Mommy vs. the toddler
Our topic of today is going to once again revolve around sleep issues. But we will make it more of a coffee talk topic. I need your help. What would you do if this was your child.

You have worked very hard to get your child to stop violently rocking himself to sleep. He does so quite nicely. No more fussing and falls asleep rather quickly. However, at nap time he still wakes up and you check on him only to find him rocking. He has only been sleeping for about an hour and not napped well in the past 4 days. What do you do?
a) let him continue to rock himself to sleep. (he may rock himself right off the bed)
b) put a hand on him like you do in the night, but leave him where he is. (he may wake up and rock again and rock himself off the bed)
c) move him and try to put him back to sleep like you do in the beginning (here you risk waking him up to the point of not going back to sleep)

This is the situation I was faced with this afternoon. I went with option c and that didn’t work out so well for me. I woke him up and he never went back to sleep. Oh and before you make your choice lets factor in the rest of the day. He woke up a generally happy baby and ate all of his breakfast. He began fussing shortly after breakfast when he was told no on occasion. Later in the morning he became crying psycho child at everything. He did cry when he bumped his head and accidentally shoved his straw into his mouth. For this I don’t blame him. In fact, that was a good thing. But he also cried at everything else. This isn’t just crying. This is all out wailing. The best one came when his father tried to put the video camera in the backpack so we could go for a walk. The boy needed a nap in a big kind of way.

After over 30 minutes of trying to get him to go back to sleep I finally gave up.

We did take our outing to Lenin Square this afternoon. Pickle was a perfect angel the entire time! Shocking. He walked around the square by the big church. We picked up some gifts for people here and gifts for people back home. We stopped in at the grocery store to pick up important things like coffee and creamer. This was Pickle’s first trip into a grocery. He was awestruck. He had never seen so much food. We weren’t sure what a man was saying to us when we walked in with a baby in a stroller. I thought he was saying that we couldn’t take the stroller in so we took Pickle out of the stroller. When we went into the grocery area he said something else and I returned with, “ya nee pah-nee-mai-oh.” (I don’t understand) He said something else that we figured was it was ok to take the stroller in. We opened the stroller and put Pickle back in. I still don’t know what he was saying. He very well could have been telling us not to bring a child into the store. We thought it would be ok since the quarantine was lifted today. The man was very very nice to us. I was pushing Pickle around the store and he came by and squatted down and said hello and fixed Pickle’s pant leg. He also was so nice as to hold the door open for us when we left.

I do notice as to how gentlemanly men are here. As we rode the trolley into town we watched as all the young men got up so the older women could sit down. That is something you certainly don’t see in the states.

We are still working with Pickle on family names. He now understands that CS is Daddy, but doesn’t say daddy. He still calls him papa. My mom is babada. He doesn’t even have to be prompted for that one. (sorry mom) His new person in the book is Uncle Wayne. He is Coo Coo Coo. He also recognizes the cats. They are Mau maus.

Other things we understand he is saying are car, duck, cow, rooster, pig, cup, ball, airplane, bye-bye, all done and light.

Last night we went up to Kathou and Paypay’s apartment so Pickle and Wobbles could play together. It took Pickle about 20 minutes to get comfortable. We let him bring a comfort item with him. It happened to be my comb, but hey it worked. He played quite nicely with everyone. We only had one small baby battle over a clothes pin. When Pickle had enough play time he said, “All Done” and walked to the door. CS held him in the hall and said paka paka to Kathou, Paypay and Nadya. Pickle actually said Paka too! In fact he said it all the way down the stairs and into our apartment.

He is slowly getting more comfortable around people. This is a very good thing.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Diapers, Touques, and evil stares from the Babushka
I know I wasn’t going to write about sleeping stuff anymore, but this one is just way too exciting. For the first time Pickle laid down on the ground on his own. Normally he will play and play and play until we pick him up and put him in the bed. Of course he was fingering a book on the coffee table and promptly pulled it off onto his head, but little strides people! Also, when I put him in bed for naptime he lie quietly and fell asleep without crying or making a move to rock. This is a huge accomplishment for our little man.

We did get out this morning to take a trip to the children’s store. CS was sent out for diapers yesterday afternoon and they didn’t have the good ones in Pickle’s size at the little grocery. So this morning we bundled up the baby and headed out for a walk. When we got downstairs the babushkas at the front desk made it a point to note that it was cold and windy outside. So I put the hood up on his little jacket and we headed out the door. While at the children’s store we purchased a little stocking cap for him. When we got back to the apartment we made it a point to not take the cap off until we were right in front of the babushka. HA!!! We showed you evil Russian lady.

Pickle is still testing his mother’s patience. We have gotten sleep time down pretty well, but food time is altogether difficult. He likes to try to play with the stove to which he gets pushed away and a firm NYET! He tries to open the cupboards and play with the garbage can. He tries to pull out his chair or grab a bib and put it on when the food is not finished yet. All of which get the nyet response. He frequently gets herded out of the kitchen. This is met by faky tantrums. Then of course he gets held and rocked resulting in more tantrums. He will finally calm down and head straight back for the kitchen to make sure the rules are still the same.

When it comes time to feed him he will drink his milk or yogurt and then play with his meal. He is fully capable of feeding himself and turns his head away when we try to feed him. So we have started ignoring him for the most part at meal time. He will play with his spoon; try to rub it on the wall, chews on the end of it. Just to make sure the rules are still the same.

I tell you the boy learns quick. He knows where the changing pad is and goes to the cupboard to tell me to get it if he makes a poopy. This is the only time I use the changing pad. He knows where his shoes and jacket are. We have to keep all the shoes put away. If we get them out he wants to wear them and wearing them means we are going outside. He knows how to open the drawer with his toys in it, but if you don’t pull it from the left side is won’t open. So he tries to pull it from the right side knowing it won’t open then looks at one of us and says, “mo-mo.” This is help me. We tell him he knows how to do it then he fusses.

He is also learning that if he bonks his head or hurts himself that we will comfort him. He biffed it big time when he tripped over the threshold from the hall into the living room. Whacked his head right on the floor. Nice rug burn and bump from that one. He cried quite loudly after that. He also cried when he pulled that book onto his head. These are all very good things.

Pickle is getting better at the names of people in his family book. We are going to have a challenge though with Daddy vs. Papa. CS’s dad is Papa to our niece Bethany, but we are still kinda calling CS Papa. And Duda Mike… did you know that in Norwegian you would be MorFar? That would mean Mother’s Father. And Mom you would be MorMor. So it is up to you Duda or Morfar?

Pickle’s other favorite thing to do is to wear our shoes around the apartment. Oddly enough, he started with my flip flops. Then he moved to Daddy’s slippers, then Daddy’s shoes. Trust me I have photos. Oh, and we also have photos of him sitting in a bin with his legos.

The weather here is much like that at home in mid to late October. Cloudy, windy and cold. We get a rain shower on occasion. And when it rains it pours! Of course the cooler weather is nice for ridding the apartment of the stuffiness in here. Gassy boys and closed up apartment make for a pleasant experience.

Well… better run. Pickle just got up after only sleeping for an hour. I must prepare myself for a baby full of piss and vinegar later.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
More of Life in Russia
So we aren’t going to talk about sleep issues. We really do more than battle about sleep. We feel fortunate that we have not had any major meltdowns like some families have had. For the most part we have a very happy boy. We also have a very smart boy. Pickle is quickly learning how to manipulate his environment. This manipulation mainly happens at meal time. He learned that he can play with his food and it won’t get taken away. He also learned that if he doesn’t feed himself one of us will do it for him. We are trying to be firm on what he eats though. We try to stick to something that slightly resembles what he was fed in the orphanage. But we modified it so it would be the same thing we are eating. We tried chicken, but it is very tough here so he was having no part in that. He is not so hot on green beans, but love peas. He loves sweet thing so we are like little bandits at nap time or at night and eating our treats while he sleeps. We have yet to give him any candy or junk food. This is mainly so he doesn’t get an upset stomach from too much new food.

His latest activity is pushing his bowl away and smiling. He is pretending he is finished in an attempt for us to feed him. This worked at 2 meals until I was having no more of it. I whipped out the Russian phrase for “eat please” and it worked. He ate the rest of his lunch. If I only knew that yesterday.

He loves to bring us his books and sit in our lap and read. His favorite is a picture book of first words. A car is a Beep-Beep. He can also say “boy,” and “ball.” An airplane is “ooooooooooo.” A teddy bear is “ooo” and he says Oot-ka, which is duck. He also likes our family photo book we had left at the orphanage. He easily recognizes me and says “MaMa.” Daddy is oddly also mama. Grammie is Baba, and he is fascinated with his Grandpa Mike. That comes out DuDa. Babushka sounds a lot like Blah Blah Blah.
We had planned on going to Lenin Square today, but we had a rain storm in the middle of the night and woke up to gale force winds. To use an Elle phrase, it is Butt-Ass cold here. Good thing we brought lots of clothes pins to hold down the laundry.

I thought I would pass along my little observations and helpful hints of living in Russia.

Bring 2 lbs of coffee not just one. We are going to run out before we leave.
You cannot buy peanut butter here. Bring it too.
Bring a full bottle of Woolite, not 1/2. I am going to run out of that too. (and I am not having as much of the dingy whites problem that Suzanne is. Or at least I don’t care)
Butter is not salted here. In fact not much is.
Russians don’t put preservatives in anything. Good for your health, but makes everything taste off.
Chicken is chewy and hard to come by.

I miss my modern conveniences of home. What I wouldn’t give for my washing machine, dishwasher or my dryer. Mostly the dryer. The clothes that have hung out on the line have a funky odor. I also wish Pickle had more toys to play with. Although he seems to be content with what is here. We scored a few extra toys from Miss Suzanne and the previous occupant of our apartment.
Friday, September 08, 2006
Sobs and wailing
Last night we drew the line at the rocking. This may seem a little harsh to some, but after 4 days of watching our boy thrash about finding no comfort in it we said enough was enough. We also realized that Pickle was not only a rocker, but a head banger too. This is not Head Banger as in 80’s butt rocker, but a child that rocks so violently he eventually finds something (ie. the side of the crib) to bang his head against.

How did we discover this? Well when watching him rock we observed that he throws himself violently to one side. He will also scooch around the bed finding something to throw himself against. In this case it was a pillow. He tried to repeatedly scoot up toward the headboard only to be met by one of us pulling him back. The final clue was that when we picked him up from the orphanage I noticed that he had 2 little cut shaped scabs on his head. We thought this might be due to typical orphanage child play, but figured out they may have come from him hitting his head on the crib bars.

When you figure this out about your child it is enough to break your heart. We want Pickle to come for us for comfort. Right now he does a bit, but not as much as he should.

Like I said this may seem harsh to some, but this is what we are choosing to do. It really does seem to be working. I held him last night and let him scream his little head off until he fell asleep. Then in the night, when he was restless, I put a hand on him and he would fall back to sleep. He spent most of the night sleeping, but on occasion he would roll to one of us for a cuddle or put a hand or foot on one of us. Today at naptime I did the same. He only cried for about 5 minutes and fell asleep.

So we are progressing quite nicely.

This afternoon we took a walk to the Gold church with Kathou, Paypay and Wobbles. (Their daughter is 15 months and still a little unsteady on her feet. I did like G's suggestion of SweetPea, but that is what I call both Pickle and kitty.) Pickle still isn’t too sure about Wobbles. He did run around Glory Square and all around the WW2 memorial again. He played with another child’s toys and seemed happy about it.

Tomorrow morning we will take our Gulag Express trip to Lenin Square.

So far Pickle’s favorite things are the sand box (hint hint Babushka), bananas, outside, books, bath time, peas and my comb. At first it was a shoehorn he found in the apartment, but the comb won him over.

His dislikes are sleeping, chicken (man is he going to be hungry when we get home) and new places.

The likes list is longer than the dislikes and that is a good thing. A very good thing.

A quick note to say Happy Birthday to Pickle’s Great-Grandpa. We really do wish we were home for it, but we will celebrate is a big way once we do get home.

Only 11 more days!!!
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Go Go Gadget Stroller
When the weather is so nice outside it is just a shame to waste it cooped up in our little apartment. Since we are going to eventually leave Russia the boy will need to get used to getting out and about. We decided that it might be nice to make a few little ventures out.

We started with a trip to the play yard. The very first trip was a short one involving the infamous stroller. Yesterday afternoon Pickle wanted so badly to put his shoes on we complied, but this meant another trip out. This time we let him walk. He was a little cautious, but eventually got the feel for the place and found the sand box. Oddly the sandboxes are not used for cat litter boxes like they are at home. Pickle played in the sand and turned into Daddy’s little archaeologist unearthing little rocks. Success!

Pickle is finally figuring out that he can cry when he doesn’t get his way. This may sound trivial, but for a post institutionalized child this is a big deal. PI kids rock when their needs are not met or learn to ignore things like bumps on the head. Yesterday, for example, while playing Pickle fell over and bonked his head on the floor. No carpet padding so it made a thunk. Not a peep out of him. He rubbed his head a little bit and went on playing.

Anyway, we did institute a little holding time yesterday when he was not getting his way and starting to pitch a fit. It went better than I expected. He did fight me a bit, but eventually settled down.

Bedtime was a little more difficult last night. He was so exhausted from not napping well that he just fought going to sleep. It took both of us, lot and lots of rocking together, a little more holding time, but eventually he made it. Bedtime is met with such anxiety on Pickle’s part. Mommy’s too.

The good news is, this morning, when he was done sleeping, he turned over and looked at me and put his hand on my face. He then turned and looked at his daddy. That was enough to make my heart melt. During the night he did rock quite a bit, but he would also reach out and put a hand on or under one of us. We are making some progress.

This morning we thought we should get out again. I wanted to take a longer walk, but Pickle is heavy and we really wanted to teach him it was ok to ride in the stroller. I opened the stroller in the apartment and showed him how to push it along. I then sat him in it and pushed him around the apartment. Evidently this was fun. Pickle then pushed the stroller for a while. After we were both showered and everyone dressed Pickle was demanding his shoes and showing us the door.

Out the door we went bound for our outing to the Gold church. Pickle was quite content to ride in the stroller! Woo Hoo! It is about a half an hour walk from here to the Gold Church. Once we got there we took Pickle out and let him wander around Glory Square. Down the stairs of the WW2 memorial past a group of Japanese tourists and back up the other side. He did all the stairs himself. By that time he was looking a little tired so we put him back in the stroller and followed the Japanese tourists into the Gold Church. We were lucky enough to catch a short Orthodox service full of the sound of melodic angels. I thought it was a recording, but later saw that it was in fact a small choral ensemble. I only wished I could video record it.

We had a play date with Kathou & Paypay’s little girl (I am still trying to come up with a good name for her.) Pickle is also cautious of other children so they don’t actually play together. Pickle thought the slide was the greatest thing ever!

Back to the apartment for naptime. This is where he is now. Sleeping like a rock. He let me keep a hand on him while he rocked. This was a good thing.

Tomorrow we will make another trek to the Gold Church, this time with camera. Sunday we may take a trip to downtown to get our water from the river (not drinking) and for more photo ops.

A little Q&A:
Our 10 day was not waived. It will be up the 14th or 15th, but neither of us can remember when.

Pickle is 22 months. He will turn 23 months the day after we get home.

We obviously got custody of him during the 10 day. We are thankful for this bonding time. It is very common for people adopting from this particular baby home to get custody shortly after court.

Only 12 more days!
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Still doing well
When you spend your entire day inside it seems to lack excitement. After we stopped laughing at everything our boy does the day gets repetitious. We did confiscate the crayons, but CS gave them back this morning while I was in the shower. Big mistake. Now we have purple to go with the red.

Let’s see… other stuff. Still loves bath time. Last night I was running the water and Pickle decided to stick his hand in the stream coming from the faucet. This was the greatest thing evah! I took his shirt off so it wasn’t soaked. Then he decided to sit down and take his socks off. Unfortunately the water never got hot so CS had to boil pots of water. It worked. He did not mind that the water was not that hot. Pickle played in the bath until he was pruny! I may have been just as wet has he was.

Bed time is getting a little better. We decided to take advice from some of you and go with our own little routine. We have bath time and put on pjs. Then we sit and listen to Baby Bach. The bath gets him so worked up that we need something to calm him down. (Thanks Lawvers for lending us the baby Einstein DVDs.) Then we go into the bed and sit together and rock. When he is ready to go to sleep he crawls out of my lap and lays down and rocks side to side while I put my hand on him. It works pretty well. The good thing is last night when he needed some comfort he got up and crawled into my lap. This made me feel good.

Nap time only took about 10 minutes to fall asleep. He does rock when it is time to get up or just when he is done sleeping. It is a little harder to console him then. This morning we just got up and after nap we rocked together.

We went for passport photos this afternoon and the ride in the machina was ok. Again, very timid. He still isn’t sure of Kathou & Paypay’s little one, but both kids did really well.

The weather here has been great. 70 and sunny, with an occasional bug storm. Must close the windows at night lest we get eaten alive. Too bad Pickle gets a little freaked out every time we go outside. Tomorrow we might make a trip to the big gold church. That was today’s plan, but we had to go for the passport photos. CS may go into town to hunt down some cigars though. They are telling us there is some kind of quarantine here until the 11th so not to take the children into crowded areas. Not sure what that one is about, but has something to do with the river. Lovely.

We do miss everyone and can’t wait to come home. Pickle will be so much happier with more than 3 toys to play with, and a yard to run around in. We are working on showing photos of Babushkas and Dedushkas, aunts and uncles. He can muster a crude babushka, but dedushka is doesn’t come out very well.

I also want to congratulate Mrs. Broccoli Guy on her good news! Oh man I wish I were home. I seriously would hop in the car and drive up to give you a great big hug! Let us know when you go to finally get Zeeb!!!!!
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Officially a mommy
I am so very tired. I have officially become a mom. Since my child seems to be commando child and can escape from his crib in 2 seconds flat we thought it best if he slept in the bed with us. The problem is he likes to move around when he sleeps. This we were kneed, head-butted and kicked in the head repeatedly. He also does the rocking thing in the middle of the night so I constantly wanted to console him. Needless to say I didn’t get much sleep. Good thing CS got a little more than me.

I also want to thank all of you for your comments about the rocking. It makes me feel better that it will improve over time. It is just so disturbing not to be able to help comfort him.

Going to bed last night was a little better, but not much. I was on my own for nap-time today and that was not fun. CS went with Kathou and Paypay to the grocery and then to Baby Home #1 so they could pick up their daughter. So I was on for lunch and nap. Pickle cried when I put him in the bed and was not happy. We tried a little Baby Bach, but that wasn’t cutting it either. We finally went back to the bed and sat up and rocked together. Finally he sat by himself while I put my hand on him and let him rock. Once he fell asleep he slept for about an hour before he started rocking again. Then there was no going back to sleep.

We thought we would try a walk to the play yard this afternoon since the weather today is beautiful. CS strapped him into the stroller and about 5 feet down the walk wailing ensued. He was less than thrilled about the stroller. So we picked him up and carried him to the play yard. Of course there was a big truck next to the play yard and the engine was running. Pickle did not like that either. We tried the swing and that was ok, but he held the, “I’m not too sure about this” look. So we finally brought him back to the apartment.

He seems to be the most comfortable here. Outside of the apartment he is very timid and cautious. But this was the same when he first met us too, so I am not terribly worried.

One great success is that he LOVES!!!! Bathtime!!! This was met by shock and awe by the parentals! (meaning us) We had heard that children from orphanages absolutely hate baths and water. Not our boy. Dumping the cup of water on his head, rubbing the bubbles around. Doesn’t even mind having his hair washed! Praise the Lord.

Pickle is a strong eater, a decent sleeper and a generally happy boy. We are having a few issues with throwing things and also with what can and cannot be colored on. Such as the walls and the coffee table are a no. I think the housekeeper loved us for the “Pickle original” red marks on the wall.

Communication is going well. As I think I mentioned before, “Na” is here you go and “Mo-Mo” is please fix this or help me. This is distinctly different than “Ma-Ma,” which he does get and has said on occasion. Pa-Pa is a whole different story.

I think I may be off to confiscate some crayons now. I am sure this may result in a tantrum.

Nathe: what is the phrase, “Please don’t color on that.”

Also to all: It was confirmed that it is best that we not post photos until our 10 day wait us up. I know you are disappointed, but I am just following the rules. I have been in this process far too long to let something dumb like that screw it up for me. So you will have to wait until the 14th or 15th for photos. Both of us are too tired to know when it actually is.

Uncle Wayne: I have been inducted into parenthood by pulling a you and worrying about poo. Never fear! All is well! I changed my first nasty one this afternoon.
Monday, September 04, 2006
Our first try at parenting
I can officially say we are a family of 3! Of course getting to this point was not without its challenges. Lena and Andrei were scheduled to pick us up at 11:00 to take us to the orphanage. Of course there was a problem and Lena called to say they were running 20 minutes behind. 11:20. Phone rings. Running another 15 minutes. In the span of 40 minutes I think I went pee 4 times. (I have a nervous bladder of sorts)

When they finally arrived we gathered up our gifts and headed down to the van. Come to find out Andrei had a flat tire. So the delay was understandable. Especially when you see the roads here.

We pulled up to the orphanage and tried to snag one of the little booties they make you wear, but the babushka there was having no part of that.

Tatiana was out for the moment so we went straight to his groupa. The children were just finishing up with lunch and getting ready for nap time. They were giving our boy a wash so he was presentable for his mama and papa. They actually asked me for the clothes that we brought so they could change him. I was surprised. I always thought that it was one of our parental tests. The babushkas watch you while you diaper and dress the child. Guess they think I’ll manage just fine.

We waited for Pickle (yeah, I’m gonna stick with that) in the little caregiver office and there it was. The sound we knew we would hear. One unhappy and crying boy. We knew it was coming. Right from the first trip. We knew there would be much fit pitching when we left. Sho Nuf.

The pants we brought were much too big, but he still looked cute. The babushkas didn’t seem to get the daddy dress so they didn’t put the t-shirt over the longsleeve like I wanted. Oh well. We were able to snap a photo of him and one of the caregivers. They also gave us back the disposable camera we left and a little album with 3 baby photos in it. I forgot to mention that Tatiana gave us one of his baby photos while we were waiting for the judge’s decision yesterday.

Since Pickle was so unhappy, it was best that we say a quick good-bye and head downstairs to say our last good-bye to Tatiana. We gave her the stocking caps from Tracy’s Grandma and she was just in love with them. Thanks Tracy! We also gave her the gifts we brought and she walked us to the font door. Tatiana kissed Pickle gave me a warm hug and said, “Spaceeba!” That was it. A quick in, grab the boy, and out. We did stop for a photo in front of the door with the sweet smell of freedom. Oddly it smells a lot like orphanage.

Pickle calmed down once he saw the machina we were to ride in. His little eyes were fixed on everything passing by. Soon the eyelids became heavy and he drifted off for a little nap on the ride home. His slumber was so rudely interrupted by having to get out of the car.

Once in the apartment CS took him on a tour. “This is the foyer, this is the living room, this is the bedroom and this is the kitchen.” It was a short tour.

Since naptime was scheduled (according to the caregivers) for 12:30 we thought we would lie down and try to get him to sleep. Sure… 12:30. That worked out well. Pickle was having no part of nap time. He was most concerned that we removed the oversized pants and he was wearing socks and a onesie. He was fixated on his jeans sitting on my end table. Seeing as naptime was a no go, we threw on some sweats and let him explore.

We pulled out a few of the toys he is familiar with and he played a little, but he really likes to put everything back on the shelf. I suppose this is because this is the way it is in the orphanage. If he wants to clean up that is fine by me. I could tell that missing his nap was not going to be a good idea so we tried to lay down again. I did forget to mention that earlier I tried to put him in the “crib” we have just to watch him crawl out. Yeah, that’s not going to fly.

The second go around with naptime eventually resulted in a crying baby, a crying mama and papa saving us both. Pickle is a rocker. Big time! He lies in bed and rolls himself violently back and forth to make himself sleep. If you have never witnessed this before it can be disturbing. But to watch your own child do it is 1000 times worse. We did find that if we just lay with him and hold his hand he does it less and eventually falls asleep.

So our first few hours of parenting have been successful! We put the baby down for a nap, had limited crying (even if it was me) and he seems happy and likes us both!

I am still working on finding out when we can post photos. Please be patient. I want to do everything by the book since I got nabbed a little for posting the photo of Little A (after he was adopted) on the other blog. Better go check on my boy. I am expected to feed him a snack when he wakes up so I better be ready!
Sunday, September 03, 2006
It is FINISHED!!!!
We would like to announce that at 12:00 pm Vladivostok time (in Khabarovsk) we were pronounced the proud parents of Oleg Roy Lindholm aka. Pickle!!!

We cannot express how relieved we are to have this part of our journey completed. We took Derek’s mom’s advice and wrote down the names of all the people who would be praying for us back home. D tucked this away in his pocket as a reminder that everything would work out as God had planned.

After the hearing we were greeted downstairs by Kathou, Paypay and Lena. Hugs all around! We were able to snap a photo of us with the social worker Tatiana in front of the courthouse.

We were informed that tomorrow we would be going to the orphanage to pick up the newest addition to our family. We are just so excited (and a bit nervous.)

Thank you to all of those who took a moment back home to say a little prayer for us. Heaven knows I needed it.
Never let Captain Smartypants be your guide
The first video I ever posted was of the “Gulag Express.” This is a trolley bus that runs through town here in Khabarovsk. The last time we got on it was with Ciarai & Jose, Candy & Doug. Doug nearly lost his arm and I am sure I was groped inappropriately.

This is the only mode of transportation to get us from our apartment building to the main part of town. The cost of this fantabulous ride 10 rubles (about 30 cents.) We needed to buy some gifts for orphanage workers so we decided to go to town today. And seeing as it is our last free day it sounded like a good idea.

We spent the afternoon in town doing some shopping and having a great lunch at the California Café. At about 2:30 or so we hopped back onto the Gulag Express to go back to the apartment. Our stop was the second one and Captain Smartypants decides that we should depart from the GE from the forward doors despite the fact that we were closer to the back doors. We waded our way through the throngs of people only to be blocked by a giant babushka that we could not shove our way past. CS hops off the GE, but Kathou, Paypay and I are all still on board when the engine starts back up and the doors close. Yes… CS left us on the Gulag Express! Fun times!

We did manage to get off on the next stop and hike back up to our previous stop where CS was waiting for us. Smart ass.

Life for now is pretty boring. Sit around and watch movies or the Australia network. Somehow the BBC disappeared. Of course life will dramatically change come Tuesday.

We thank all of you guys for your comments. We will try to post photos as soon as we can. The adoption doesn’t become official until the 11th day after court so I want to make sure it is actually ok to post photos before doing so. I do promise that I will tell you all his name on Monday afternoon though.

We would like to ask that if you have any exciting news (like referrals, court dates or the like) to please email us at or leave it in the comments. Our internet access here is $5 and hour and it kicks you off after an hour. So we really don’t have time to read everyone’s blogs. I just don’t want to miss out on anything. I feel so out of the loop!
Saturday, September 02, 2006
Tiny Bubbles
Day 4 of the journey to the motherland finds us still alive. I guess that is a good thing since we haven’t even had our court hearing yet. We were treated by a delicious breakfast at Kathou & Paypay’s. We were able to raid the last remaining items from Cathy & Nick’s fridge before they left this morning. I scored some cereal, milk for CS, and a big bottle of hand sanitizer. Obviously not in the fridge.

We spent the time between breakfast and leaving for the orphanage doing a little exploring. We found the Irish Pub that Suzanne had mentioned and hunted for the children’s store. We didn’t have any luck finding that. It is mentally exhausting trying to find things when you can’t read a single thing. I am like a 1st grader trying to sound out words. Aaaaaahhhhvvvv-tttoooo-mmmmoooo-bbbbeeeeeellllll.

We departed for the orphanage at a little after 3 pm. Kathou & Paypay were nice enough to cut their visit short so we might get a glimpse of snack time. Much to our dismay we missed it. When we did arrive our boy was wearing the infamous “1st photo” shirt. We had a good chuckle over “OK Booby.” Remind me to tell the rest of you about Pickle’s Booby shirt later.

The caregivers dressed Pickle in the clothes we had left for him in April. (they did this yesterday too) So for any wanting to shop for him he is still fitting into a 12 mo size. Go a little larger.

They brought him out and he took one look at us and pitched a fit. This was the first time he had ever really cried around us, except yesterday’s escapade upon leaving. We took him to the visiting closet and tried our best to console him. Cranky-pants was having none of that. Lucky for us I brought the mommy secret weapon! BUBBLES!!!!! Magical little spheres that float in the air and disappear when you touch them. He was hooked. This was today’s favorite toy.

I also brought a few books with us this afternoon. I showed him Goodnight Moon but he was only interested in the colored pages. I then broke out the first words book that I had so neatly translated into Russian. Of course I put the translations onto sticky notes on each page. Sticky notes + 2 year old = Mommy no longer knowing the Russian translations. So car is machina, but train is just train. Boy is Malcheek, but girl is girl.

He is finally starting to talk. He looked at a photo on the back of the digital camera and made the p – p sound. He was looking at a photo of Papa (daddy). Then seeing a photo of himself he said, “Pickle.” Of course it came out sounding much like his actual name since we don’t really call him Pickle directly.

He helped clean up and he taught us a word in Russian. Na. It means, here you go. Naturally Lena had to translate that one for us. Today was a fantastic visit! Lots of smiles, laughing, running and crawling on mommy. We did have a slight sacrifice of a purple crayon, but it is salvageable.

Sorry for the long post, but there was lots to fill you in on. I’ll let you all know how life in Russia is treating us tomorrow. We don’t have an orphanage visit so we are headed into downtown for some shopping with Kathou & Paypay. Monday is court at 11:30 am. This is 5:30 pm Sunday Pacific time. Please pray for us. Especially me. We found out this judge asks all the question to the women.

Das Veedanya!
Friday, September 01, 2006
Official Pickle spotting
I know you like us and all but won’t really listen to what I have to say until I get the Pickle update taken care of. So without further ado… Lena and Irina came and picked up J&S and us around 3:30pm. We headed out and dropped J,S, and Irina at their stop. Next it was off to Pickle-land and many happy smiles. We went in the front door and put on our little booties as required. We waited in anticipation in the little play (otherwise known as ‘the closet’) for our little boy. Soon it was the patter of little feet coming down the hallway. Into the room toddled our son with that familiar stoic look on his face. Like our first trip, it took a little while for him to warm up to us (again). We got to see Tatiana, the social worker and Dr. Svetlana. The doc gave us an update that he had been healthy during our absence and that his little surgery was a success (which we already knew).
After the formalities were out of the way, we were allowed to take him outside to the playground. Once Lena had secured him a hat, we were off. Out the front door and into the playground. Since he was still unsure of us, we spent the first few minutes doing a whole lot of standing around. Pickle wasn’t interested in leaving Mama’s side. So I ran back inside to get the backpack with all the toys. Yeah, smart parents would have brought that along, but give us a break, we’re newbies at this. Once I was back with toys, things were better. Grandpa Joe, Dedu, and Papa will be glad to know that the kid has a great throwing arm already. We spent quite a bit of time until the mosquitoes as big as your head started to get to us. Note to self: tomorrow bring bug spray! A majority of the rest of our time was spent coloring and having a few cuddles. It always amazes me how fast 2 hours goes by, and soon it was time to say Paka (goodbye). Evidently Pickle thought that the time was too short as he cried when we had to go. Our poor boy also has a cold (hmm, orphanage super-virus?) so I think he was worn out by the time our visit was through. The caretaker thought he might be running a little fever. Hopefully he will feel better when we are there tomorrow.
All in all, it was a great visit with many smiles on our part and even a few laughs from Pickle (when mama was tickling him, of course). Tonight we have a Markuel potluck at J&S apartment, which is great since they are our neighbors. It will be followed by a “free garage sale” by the families that leave tomorrow. Any and all leftover food, supplies, etc will be up for grabs by us families staying behind.

Stay tuned tomorrow for another Pickle sighting. Thanks for all your prayers and words of support. We can’t wait until Monday when we can officially be called parents and announce Pickle’s name to the blogger world.

Established March 19, 2006