Tuesday, October 31, 2006

October 31, 2006

We made it to Volgograd today. We are so happy to be here. We should be meeting our children tomorrow. Please keep us in your prayers. We are very excited!

We had a great time in Moscow and got to see quite a bit of the city. We had dinner last night at the Hard Rock Cafe and the food was very good. It was nice to have familiar food again. We did use the subway and we also did a bit of walking. They have very good public transportation here. Our hotel was a pretty easy walk to the Hard Rock and some main tourist areas, where we got to do some shopping.

We will be meeting up with our Kansas City friends later this afternoon. They had a successful court appearance and are visiting their daughter. We are excited to see them again.

We'll post again when we have more information.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

October 29, 2006

Just a quick note to let everyone know we made it to Moscow, Russia safely. We spent the afternoon exploring Red Square. Moscow is such a beautiful city! It's hard to believe we are really here; very surreal. We are going sightseeing tomorrow with a guide and then we are off toVolgograd early Tuesday morning.

We'll update again from there!

Friday, October 27, 2006

October 27, 2006

That was fast huh? Well, we showed up at the airport this morning, two hours before our flight, like good international travelers should, only to find that our 10:15am flight from Tulsa to Atlanta was cancelled yesterday. They re-booked us on the 6:00am flight; didn't we get a phone message on our cell phone or our home phone?? They asked us this at least five times. We did not get the message. They tried to find another flight out for us but the first thing available is tomorrow. So we are booked on the same flight tomorrow. So, we will have one less day in Moscow but it is good that we had the extra days up front so we will not be late to arrive in Volgograd.

Our case worker is out of the office today so she will have a surprise waiting for her when she returns. I called our driver/interpreter in Moscow to let him know we would be one day late. He seemed like a very nice guy and he speaks English better than I expected. I was told that we would need to speak slowly but I thought he did really well.

The biggest bummer (other than missing a day of sightseeing) is having to unpack some of the stuff and repack again tomorrow but I guess we'll live. Now we have to think of something fun to do today, since my husband has taken a vacation day today and we don't want to waste it.

Well, this will be my last-last post from the U.S. (hopefully). God willing, we will take off tomorrow and our next post will be from Russia. Thank you for all of your prayers. We are very grateful to have so many people praying for us.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

October 26, 2006

We leave tomorrow morning but this will be my last post and it will have to be short because I still have to pack:). Nothing like waiting until the last minute.

I took the cats to my sister's house today, so the house is feeling very quiet this evening. I know they will do fine and they will be happy having so much attention but I still cried when I left them. For now, they are my babies and I am not used to being at home without them. They bring a lot of joy and laughter into our house, since they are always doing something cute or funny. I know not everyone loves cats but I am convinced that those who don't like them have just never had one or gotten to know one well. Anyway, my nephew was so happy to have them at his house for two weeks. He will have a good time with them and keep them entertained and they will love having someone to play with them.

This has been a long day. I am hoping to get my shower taken, wash and dry my hair and pack quickly so I can still get to bed at a decent time. I am so tired, which is not the best way to start a long trip like this.

I think we are really in good shape though. All of our paperwork is organized and ready to go and I took a second copy of all paperwork to my sister's house, just in case. We sure have a bunch of stuff sitting around that has to go in our bags though. I hope it all fits.

Well, better get with it. Hopefully the next post will be from Russia. Please keep us in your prayers, especially on November 1st, since that is the day we are suppose to meet our children.

Monday, October 23, 2006

October 23, 2006

Three more days to get things done and then Friday morning we are on our way. The time is rushing by. Every day I get lots of stuff done and then I think of twice as many more things to add to my list.

This morning I was at the fed ex office (the one with the notary who has an invalid bond) at 9:00am. I checked out the notary on duty, got her name and commission number and called the Secretary of State's office to make sure she had a valid bond. She checked out OK so then I went to the vet's office to tell the vet doc the bad news...that we had to re-do the paper work and have it re-notarized AGAIN. She was so sweet about it and kept saying she felt bad for me for having to do all of this. I felt bad because I should have thought to check the notary out with the Sec of State's office the first time, before I dragged her (the vet doc) over there...especially since this exact same thing happened almost a year ago, when we originally did this paper work.

Anyway, we were all finished by 9:15, everyone was very nice about it and off I went to obtain the apostilles. I went straight to the Secretary of State's office, where they know me personally now and are always happy to see me:) and they had finished all of the 11 apostille's within 20 minutes.  They were very efficient, as always, and there were no surprises this time, since I had called ahead of time and double checked all of the notaries. Yeah.

I am so glad I have finished this paperwork stuff for now. Unless something changes (which it very well could do and I definitely won't be holding my breath on this one) I have finished all paper work that is required to get a court date and I have also updated/re-apostilled all of the paperwork that will expire in November, December or January.

On my way home I was thinking that I had always told my friends at Syracuse that Oklahoma was flat and had no trees. I have no idea where I got that but it really is not true at all. Oklahoma is really very hilly and has tons of trees, at least the part we live in anyway. It is so beautiful at this time of year. The trees are starting to change and it was a beautiful drive. I'm loving the fall season!!

When I returned to my city I went straight to the grocery store. Today is my husband's birthday (happy birthday honey!) so I made him a nice dinner on the grill (asparagus with mushrooms & almonds and bar-b-que pork chops) and then he blew out his birthday candles and we had birthday cake (german chocolate - his favorite - yes, I made that too:)...but don't be fooled; I'm really not much of a cook:). He also opened his birthday gifts and I think he liked them. So we had a very nice evening together and I think he enjoyed his birthday celebration.

Anyway, now I just have to organize all of our documents into a three ring binder, for us to take with us on the trip. I have started this but will probably finish it sometime tomorrow. I also have to get on-line and print out a bunch of info. Our agency (CWA) has a web board for us to post questions and share information and when I searched on Volgograd, there was a lot of information about places to eat and general tips for all kinds of things during the trip. I need to gather them up and print them out, along with all of the tips on the blogs of those who have gone before us.

It has been a long day and I am going to bed early and maybe I'll sleep in tomorrow too! I figure I better enjoy this time as much as possible before our children arrive:). Sweet dreams!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

October 21, 2006

Time is a funny thing, how it can go by so slowly or so quickly, depending on what is going on with your life. Six days from today we will be at the airport, waiting for our flight to Atlanta and then on to Moscow. We are fortunate that we have had so many days to prepare and it seems we really needed them. The next five days are going to be very busy.

I ended up not getting to go for the apostille's on Friday. On Thursday I decided I should call the Secretary of State's office to make sure that all of the notaries I had used had valid bonds. Three different times I have made the (not short) trip for apostille's, only to find that one or more of the notaries did not have valid bonds. Each of those times I ended up having to make an extra trip. So this time, I decided to call first (yes, I was a slow learner on this one:). Sure enough, one of the notaries did not have a valid bond  In this particular case, the documents were from our vet's office, stating that our two cats have had their shots and are healthy. We already had this done back in January of this year but are re-doing it, since that paperwork will most likely expire before our adoption is finalized. Our poor cats had to have shots again, before it had even been a year, since I wanted to get this done before it expires. So, my current plan is to be at the vet's office first thing on Monday morning, finalize the paperwork and head out for the apostille's.

Side note: While I was sitting here writing the above paragraph, a bird flew into the living room (closed) window, with a loud bang, and just about scared me to death. He sat outside on a big rock for about 5 minutes, gathering his little wits about him again, before finally flying off. He is getting off to a rough start today, poor little guy. I've had days like that before:).

We did receive our visa's finally. I was beginning to wonder because it was two days after the date they said we could expect them and we had not received any word. I had been at my grandmother's house so, when I got back and they had not arrived, I sent an email to the visa place. They sent back the fed ex tracking number and I looked it up on line. Their web site indicated they had tried to deliver them three times but we had never received anything indicating this. I called fed ex and discovered they were trying to deliver them to the wrong address. I went to their office to pick up the package; it is clear across town, near the airport. It took them about 20 or 25 minutes to find it but they finally did and everything looks to be in order, thankfully.

So the big things all seem to be in order, visas, passports, plane tickets, hotel rooms, etc. and we have been told the name of our driver/translator who will pick us up at the Moscow airport, take us to our hotel and register our visas/passports. We are now focusing on the smaller details, what to take with us, how many changes of clothes, etc. We received a large package from Land's End with warmer outerwear and long underwear. Everything fits perfectly (that's a first) and seems like it will be very warm. We still need a couple of things so we will probably do a little shopping today or tomorrow.

So, Monday is apostille day, Tuesday is women's Bible study and hair appointment, Wednesday is currently open but I need to mow the lawn so that may be Wednesday, Thursday is for packing up the cats and taking them to my sister's house. Thursday evening will be for packing up ourselves and Friday morning we head out to the airport. I think our flight leaves around 10:00 or 10:30 am.
It's hard to believe that, at this time next Saturday, we will be in Russia! Wow! That's exciting!!

Monday, October 16, 2006

October 16, 2006

I made our reservations for Moscow today. The hotel we booked looks like a pretty neat hotel in a good location and we are looking forward to staying there. We will be leaving a week from this coming Friday and we should be meeting out children two weeks from today!! Yeah!!

I have been updating paperwork that will be expiring in Nov, Dec and Jan. I think I have everything now and I will most likely be going for apostilles on Friday.  After getting the apostille's, I think most of our big stuff will be done. We should receive our visa's in the next two days or so and the stuff from Land's End in the next 4 or 5 days. After that, I think we just have some small stuff to gather and we should be in good shape (I hope:).

We've been doing lots of praying. We're still very excited. It's hard to believe that we are finally getting ready to go and that we should have our children home in about 2 to 4 months. I am very excited to find out how old they are, whether they are two boys or a boy and a girl and what kind of personalities they have, what they look like, etc. I am glad that we did not receive any specifics in our referral. We are not spending our time worrying about any specific medical issues that they may or may not have because we do not have any of that information yet. And by the time we do have that information, we will be there to see for ourselves if it is true and, if so, to what extent.

We have picked out two boy names and we have almost finalized one girl name, just in case. In this case, I like surprises!!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

October 5, 2006

Thanks so much for all of the encouragement and congrats. I just had the biggest grin on my face when I was reading them all. Thanks so much for reading and responding to our great news!

Today we had two answered prayers. First, I heard from our friend from Kansas City today. This is the friend whom we met a month or so ago when we went to KC to visit her and her daughter. She is also adopting from Volgograd and has already made her first visit. She got her call this morning with her court date and we are going to be over there at the same time. She will arrive a couple of days before us and will leave around the same time we leave or maybe a couple of days later. So the entire time we are there, she will be there too and we are staying at the same hotel. We are so excited and WOW, was that an answered prayer or what!!

The second answered prayer that we received today is about our two cats, Dancer (male) and Zoe (female). I have had these two beautiful Bengal cats for about 8 years now and they are my first babies. They are my special friends, who have seen me through good times and bad and they both have the best personalities. Anyway, I had been praying about what we would do with them while we are gone. They are very social cats and I know they would be really unhappy if they are left at home by themselves the whole time we are gone, with someone just stopping in to feed them every other day or so. Today, my sister told me that she would take the cats to her house and take care of them while we are gone. Her husband is not a cat fan but he is going to tolerate them while we are gone (I think he will really fall in love with them:). Her two kids are going to love it. They love our cats. I had been praying that God would figure out a way to take care of the cats, so I would not be worrying about them the whole time we are gone. I never guessed that this would be the solution. My sister really caught me off guard on this one. When she told me, I got tears in my eyes right away. It was just such a relief.

I continue to be amazed at how God just takes care of everything, even to the smallest detail. Two prayers answered in one day. He is so awesome!!

We have made our flight arrangements, Yea! We are kind of combining this trip with a bit of a vacation so we are staying a bit longer than actually required. We are leaving on Oct. 27th and will be staying in Moscow for a couple of days of sightseeing. We would like to stay in the same hotel where we will stay when we make the second trip and are in Moscow with the kids. We figure we can do our sightseeing on this trip, take tons of pictures and scope out the location of the closest grocery store and the good restaurants and stuff, so we'll know our way around a bit when we have the kids on the next trip and, if they are not feeling well or if it is just too difficult, we won't need to do as much sightseeing and picture taking.

On the 31st, we'll fly to Volgograd, where we will be staying at a decent hotel there, where many people adopting from this city stay. We'll be meeting the children on November 1st. We were told to plan to stay five business days in Volgograd. We think we will actually be there for six days and then we'll fly from there back to Moscow and on to Atlanta and then to our home city on November 9th. We were going to return on the 8th but Delta only has direct flights from Moscow to Atlanta every other day. So we decided we would rather just stay an extra day and take the direct flight. We are hopeful that we will get to visit our children every day we are there. We are planning to do some sightseeing too and take a bunch of pictures. If all goes well, we will have taken most, if not all, of our sightseeing pictures on this trip, so we won't have to worry about it as much on the next trip, when we have two children with us (although we will definitely want to get some key sightseeing pictures with the kids).

I mailed off our passports and visa pictures yesterday and they were received by the visa people this morning. We submitted our visa applications online last night and got confirmation back today that they received everything, everything is in order and we will receive our visas on Oct. 17 or 18. So, looks like that part is OK now

We still have to buy our travel insurance for overseas medical coverage and medical emergency evacuation, which is not required but highly recommended by our agency. We also need to register our trip plans with the U.S. Department of State, which is free and it's a good thing to do, just in case a natural disaster or terrorist attack or war or something like that happens while we are over there. This is also highly recommended by our agency. We will do this so that our government will know where to come and rescue us if something bad happens:). We are also working on re-doing seven documents (and multiple copies of each) that will expire in Nov, Dec or Jan.

Lists, lists, lists! We need more lists! We leave three weeks from tomorrow, so we have plenty of time to get everything done but I am not feeling very organized right now. I know the time will go by quickly. Lots to do.

Did I mention we are so excited!! It feels like Christmas, like when you were a little kid and you got something really special for Christmas and when you woke up the next morning, the first thing you thought of was that special gift and it immediately brightened your day and got you so excited. That's what's it like. When I wake up in the morning, it is the first thing I think of and I get so excited all over again. I am also really excited about seeing both Moscow and Volgograd. I have wanted to visit Russia for a long time, so I am excited that we will be able to take a few extra days and enjoy ourselves. It will be our first real vacation since our honeymoon a little over a year and a half ago when we went to Australia and New Zealand. It occurred to me today that the flight to Russia will seem short compared to our flight to Australia/New Zealand; that's kind of nice. I always think of Russia as being so far away and was kind of thinking that it was a really long flight, like when we went to Australia/New Zealand. But it is only about 10 hours from New York so from Atlanta it is probably not much more...not too bad really. (Edited To Add: It was 9.5 hours over and almost 11.5 hours back).

I am very thankful that we won't be rushed or in a hurry and we can take our time and enjoy some of the days. I am also very hopeful that we will get to spend a good amount of time with our children. Please keep us in your prayers.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

October 3, 2006

Today's the day!! We finally got the call!! We are suppose to be in Volgograd, Russia on October 31st, so they have given us plenty of time to travel. That is pretty much all of the information we have for now. We do not know any information about the children we are going to meet...don't know how old they are or if they are both boys or one girl and one boy. I guess God is going to surprise us. Tomorrow we should find out what day we will be able to return home from Russia so we can make our travel arrangements. We will get our Visa apps filled out this evening and sent off tomorrow.
We are so excited!! Thanks for all of your prayers!!