Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Max!

Never in my life did I think that I would be celebrating my first child's second birthday from 5,000 (or however many...) miles away!

It kills me.

I hope he is celebrating in the orphanage -- and I honestly wouldn't be surprised if that were the case.  The orphanage director did tell us, after all, that he might be just a bit spoiled!  And it was clear that the people there loved him -- and really how could you not?

So we got him a cake (red velvet cause I'm the one who gets to eat it this year) and lit some candles for him.



And yes, those are awesome Toy Story plates.  And no, we did not buy them especially for this occasion.  (Which should really make you wonder about the occasion that we did buy them for...)

The cake was delicious, but I miss my boy.

Happy birthday Max.  We love you.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Give Thanks

(and yes I realize that I'm posting late, but give me a break, I'm posting from a cell phone in a hotel lobby half-way around tho world from home!)

Anyway.

You know how there are those holidays that you will always remember?  For me some of those are about being someplace interesting at the time -- Orthodox Easter in Greece, Christmas as a missionary in Germany, that kind if thing.  Even more memorable tend to be the family things -- like that Christmas when we all had the stomach flu and had frozen burritos for Christmas dinner.  And the year Dean and I decided to show each other our presents several weeks in advance (they were hidden on the top shelf of the bedroom closet and we pulled them down every couple days just to drool over a He-Man action figure and a My Little Pony all wrapped up in clear plastic!)

But nothing -- nothing -- tops this particular Thanksgiving!

We have hqd such a fabulous time with Max over the last few days (even though he cried through most of the hour yesterday).  Today, though, was really neat.  When we got there the baby home workers invited us to see a little puppet show program being put on for the children in Max's group.  There were about 10 of them and they were all so precious it hurt my heart to see them there.  Jason and I wanted to scoop them all up now and find bedrooms later! When Max saw us I think he was a bit worried that we were going to take him away from the fun, but I would't have missed that for anything!  It was so neat to see him interacting with people that he knows and loves (since we are still on through weird and mund-of scary list!)  But he has so much personality -- while all the other kids were dancing like bears, he decided to peek behind the puppet show curtain to see who was back there!



Later in the room it took him awhile to warm up to us again, but by the end we were having a great time.  I learned how to make all sorts of animal sounds in Russian and he made them too!  We cooked a plastic fish, we played an improvised version of monkeys-in-a-barrel but with frogs, we crashed cars into each other and just generally had fun.  Even more importantly, he seemed to be warming up to Jason, too!

video

(If you listen REALLY closely you can hear him making animal noises!)


(This is Jason's new favorite photo...I'm sure you can see why!)

When it was time to go, he just skipped off with his nanny with no idea of the changes in store for him over the next couple months, poor thing.Jason and I managed not to cry, mostly.

And yet, after so many years I just can't believe that he is real.

Thanksgiving indeed.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Smile

So most new moms have to wait at least a couple months to get a smile.

I only had to wait a day. (So there!)

When we went to visit Max this morning he was obviously feeling much better.  He was still pretty shy, but he got used to me again pretty quickly.

We started out with the loud, blinking farm game again, but moved on quickly this time.  He clearly likes toys that have moving parts -- buttons, things to twist, dials or whatever.  And he has an incredible attention span for a two-year-old.  We are going to have a great time playing when he comes home!

Anyway, we eventually found a couple of "shape-learning" toys that he enjoyed and...well...a picture is worth a thousand words, right?



And then there's the really good stuff (just ignore my extreme dork-ness)...

video

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How I Met My Son

That's right.  You heard me.

Son. Mine.

Wow.

In all honesty it has been one of the most emotionally draining days ever -- I have been a nervous wreck for awhile now!

The day started out with a visit to the government department that handles adoptions, where we had to answer all sorts of questions about who we are and why we want to adopt.  Not hard questions, by any means, but it was sort-of intimidating nevertheless!  Our facilitator/translator was fabulous though -- I can't imagine doing any of this without her.

By the time we were finished there Max had already gone down for a nap so we met with director/head physician of the baby home, and a few of the other people who work with the children there.  They told us everything they knew about him and his background (right down to the 2 ear infections he had last year!) and we got to ask any questions we might have.  Honestly we didn't have very many, but we were very relieved to hear that he isn't allergic to dogs!

At that point we went to lunch since the kids were still sleeping and came back around 3:00.  Max was still asleep when we got there and everyone agreed that it was best to let him sleep since he's had a little bit of a cold for the past few days.

We waited in a playroom and I pretended not to be scared to death.  (Jason, being Jason, took a catnap.  I was jealous!)

At last they brought Max in!

He had quite obviously just woken up, and still not up at 100%, the poor thing. 

And he was pretty much the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

At first even his nanny was having a hard time getting him interested in his toys -- he was clearly nervous at being the center of attention and didn't much like it when she left the room (which is a really positive sign, by the way).

Eventually I ended up with him on my lap playing with a farm that made animal noises when you pressed buttons.  He seemed to really like this toy and we played with it for much longer than I expected.

And not a single word of that can tell you how it felt to have his little body snuggled into mine.  If you have kids already, go give them a hug.  Right now.  Really.  Go do it.

Eventually I let Jason have him for a few minutes.  Max was less thrilled about this -- we had been warned that the children tend to be wary of men, but Max was very brave!  You could tell he thought (seriously) about crying, but he never did.  It did make for the best photo of the afternoon though!

After a couple minutes of this, though, I held out my arms and (with a bit of hesitation) Max came right back to me.

Best.  Moment.  Ever.

Ever.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Expectations

Jason and I met almost 9 years ago.

Online.

We met in person for the first time in the Detroit Airport on Valentine's Day a couple months later.  I had borrowed a cute red sweater from my roommate.  He was wearing blue and white Adidas sneakers (really, this is the very first thing I saw when he came down the escalator!).

I spent that weekend trying to reconcile the Jason sitting on the couch watching TV with me to the Jason that I had been IM-ing and talking to on the phone with for weeks.  It was a surreal experience, coming to know someone in their entirety that I had previously only known in part.  It made me nervous and a little unsure of myself.

Obviously I wasn't unsure for very long -- I mean we were engaged by Memorial Day, for crying out loud!

I have been thinking a lot about that experience as we get ourselves ready to meet Max this week.  I have four photos of him.  He looks sweet and charming in each one.  His eyes are surprisingly bright for a child who has been living in an orphanage.  It's hard not to create a series of expectations about him based on such a flimsy foundation.  (You try it.  Really.  It's harder than you think!)

And since I am desperate to know who he is, it's really hard for me not to imagine that moment when we finally meet.  In the interests of keeping my expectations realistic I try to at least imagine every permutation of this meeting.  In most of these he is nervous but warms up after a few hours or days.  In others he is a social butterfly that takes our hand as soon as we walk in the door.  In others he freaks out a wails for the entire time.  Sometimes he sleeps.  Sometimes we leave exhausted because we can't keep up.

But I know -- know -- that these are trips of my imagination and nothing more.  I know that when I get there that I will look at him (just as I looked at his dad) with a wrinkled brow thinking, "Who are you?"

I just hope that by the time I come home that I might have a few answers to that question.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lucky Sevens

There are 7 colors in a rainbow!


There are 7 Wonders of the World!

(and yes, Jason and I somehow hit the one rainy day a year at the pyramids...)

There are 7 stars in the Big Dipper!


AND...

There are 7 days left until I finally get to meet Max!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fingerprints!


That's right!  We got our USCIS fingerprints today!  USCIS (United States Customs and Immigration Services) essentially is in charge of giving us the go-ahead to make Max a US citizen -- in other words the Department of Homeland Security is suddenly a very important force in our lives.  Who knew that a couple of people born west of the Mississippi would ever get to know the ins and outs of the US naturalization process?

Actually that all makes this experience seem a whole lot more adventurous than it was.

Truthfully...it was remarkably like a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles...

Monday, November 7, 2011

Daddy and Mommy Dolls

So I am one of those people that believes that anyone who comes up with a really new and original idea deserves every penny they make.  Case in point: I hope that whoever came up with the new roller-bag suitcases made a killing.  I remember dragging 2 of the old-style ones across Athens in the middle of the night and it was not fun.   I hope that whoever made suitcases better can use Ben Franklin for toilet paper for the rest of his/her natural life.

I feel the same way about Daddy Dolls, which is why I'm telling everyone about them.

Our family first learned about these when my brother was deployed in Afghanistan.  My niece carried one around for the entire time he was gone -- I clearly remember the absolute and utter panic the few times when it went missing.  For months on end, this was how she heard her dad's voice whenever she wanted.

So...we ordered a couple for Max!  Aren't they cute?



And it seems like the perfect thing to give him so that he will be able to sort-of remember us between trips.  I mean yes, we go visit over Thanksgiving (yay!!) but we have to leave him there for a couple more months until the adoption can be finalized.  And he's only 2, so how on earth will he ever remember/connect us to the things going on around him?  Enter the Daddy and Mommy Dolls.

Awesomeness.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Shining Moment

I had a shining moment today.  One of those feats of daring bravery.  Storming the castle kind of bravery.

I went to Babies R Us this afternoon. By myself.

I didn't have a fit of hysterics.  Not a single tear.  I didn't even give an evil eye to the single baby belly wandering around at the same time!  Don't ask me what the woman looked like, I still pretty much only could see her belly, but the lack scowling was a real step in the right direction.  Don't get me wrong, I pretty much ignored the majority of the aisles since they had baby-baby stuff in them, but it was more because I was too busy looking at the toddler stuff than because I was avoiding them like the pit of vipers that they usually are. You need to understand -- at Target I go WELL out of my way to avoid the baby/kid/toy section of the store (a true feat of spatial engineering, I tell you!) and today I braved the lion's den itself.

Good stuff.  I think I deserve a medal.