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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Firsts (I think)

So, Sy is doing so well as we transition here to home. He is a little Parrot repeating what we say. Here are some of the new words he will repeat:
Please, thank you, say your welcome (as opposed to your welcome), good dog, corse (Horse), Dake (jake), dad, good bye, hello, hi (alternating with Preevyet as he runs circles in the house). He had developed a deep voice to use for the dogs to say "down".
He is also responding to Sy more, but have found in the past few days that he makes a point of pointing at himself and saying Vova, so we will continue to use both until he is comfortable. But at least he turns around when we say Sy. He seems to understand milk, food, come here, NO (but when I am really trying I still say NYET to get his attention). Jake and him are playing more together which is nice. Still not best buddies but it is better. Jake took him on another tour of the farm machinery last night and it was great to watch Jake explain all the equipment and what he can be near and what he can't.
We also have found that his food choices will expand if we don't give him so many options. We have to wait him out, but when I finally stuck the bread in front of him and didn't give him another choice, after a little while he decided to eat it. Dean's method is working as well. He puts the new food in front of him and also grabs the smoothie that Sy likes. Then he points at the new food and says "da" and points at the smoothie and says "da". Apparently this translates into, if you eat that, I will give you this. It is successful so who am I to criticize. Today we are off to the pediatrician to have him look at Sy (particularly his feet and skin). His feet are so much better though. He does have lots of little bumps all over him so it will be nice to know how we need to treat that.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Friends? Hmm

Well today was a much better day for all of us. Sy was much more comfortable in the house and he and I spent the morning playing, bathing, cuddling and going outside for some fresh air. After lunch, he and Dad hung out til I got back from town. Sounds like things went well there. The highlight of the day was when Jake got home. He and Sy finally seemed to get along, well sort of. Jake continues to try so hard and Sy was much more playful than he has been. I think that helped Jake's attitude. He wants to take him to school for Show n Tell! Oh boy. They chased each other around and around. We played "52 egg pickup" a dozen times at least as Jake and I picked them up and Sy dumped them out again. I tried to be interactive with both of them at the same time and felt my head spinning with calls of Mom and Mama coming at me from all directions. It was wonderful though. Dean is still on the outs with Sy if I am around and to top it off, today when a friend of Dean's showed up, Sy went right to him, but continues to whimper and say Nee-buy-you (i am afraid) when Dean comes around. Who knows..........I thought I had discovered a new food for Sy, white bread, because he was all over it the other day. Bought a whole loaf of it today and he NYETed me when I put it in front of him! Argh! Going to work half days this week ( or part of it) while Sy is sleeping in the PM. Today seemed to go well and I think it is good for Sy and Dean to have some alone time. Jury is still out on whether we will do it the rest of the week or not. I have some great pictures from Easter that I will try to post soon. Hope that this next week continues to go as well as the past.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

All is well



These are pictures from the first two days home. Below are pictures of our last few days in Krasnoyarsk.






I don't want to jinx it, but things have been going surprisingly well here with Sy. I think it has been equally as tough of an adjustment for Jake as it has been for Sy. Jake had so hoped that Sy would become his instant buddy and that has not happened. I have been trying very hard to give Jake much praise and attention during this transition. I know soon enough all of this worry he has will be history and they will be friends and enemies all in the same day! The joys of siblings! A bunch of firsts came and past for Sy. First time seeing a horse and cow and although he did not seem too comfortable around them, he didn't panic too much. He seems to be settling in quite well and although I am his comfort zone right now, dad is a close second and will no doubt be #1 before long. I can't compete with him! We have a fairly limited food palate right now. Besides milk, it is yogurt, pudding, crackers and cereal (sometimes) and just today discovered he will eat white bread (all we had was wheat). So glad for that. He has been eating quite well despite a limited selection. Went to church this morning and he hardly made a peep. I was prepared for much more excitement than that. He got to hunt Easter eggs with the bigger kids and seemed to have a real good time. It was nice to watch him interact with a group of kids.
A wonderful day today to celebrate the beginnings of so many things. Happy Easter to everyone.










Saturday, April 23, 2011

HOME!!! What a great place to be!

Despite my clear lack of sleep since leaving Moscow, I am so happy to be home. We finally got home at about 3 am this morning. We were greeted at the airport by Dean, Jake and Speed Schlattmann as well as by my sister Kate and her two kids, Logan and Piper. Although Sy was not all that friendly, he was also not unfriendly. By the time it was over, he literally had everyone eating out of his hands. He had a bag of goldfish and was kindly giving everyone a few. Jake was trying so hard and was clearly frustrated that this new little brother was not just jumping with joy to see him and play with him. It is going to be a bit of an adjustment for both of them for two very different reasons. Just a quick recap...I left you with heading to the US Embassy...that went well once we figured out which line to be in. We were told to bypass all the people and go to the front of the line...I found this difficult, some of these people have been waiting for hours and this just is one more thing to add to their frustration. There are a lot of people trying to get to the US it seems. This was the US Embassy so I assume that is what this group of Russians were attempting to do, was get a chance to come to the US. Apparently Russian citizens are required to travel with a visa in nearly every country they wish to enter. Not an easy task. ....Sy was granted his Visa, as were six or seven other little children who had been adopted the past week in various regions. Two sets of twins girls, two more little boys and two other girls. You can imagine it was a bit chaotic at best at times. The plane rides went really well, Sy was a trooper for the most part. He had a melt down ( and so did I) at the NY airport and went kicking and screaming like a wet noodle from Gate 1 to Gate 1000 (exaggeration, more like gate 24). We cleared customs and passport control and immigration fairly quickly. Immigaration gave him the "official" stamp on his passport that made him a US citizen! YIPPEE!!!! A stop at WalMart on the way home and then we all slept (even Dean said he did and he was driving!). Sy did not sleep once we got here and is not sleeping as I type. We are on a very different schedule and hopefully we can transition in the week to come. Today we will begin the scary transition and continuation of more firsts...our dogs, cats, horses, cows, tractor, more cousins, you name it, it will likely be his first for it. I will keep you posted probably a little less frequently but we will see. I have so enjoyed having this to tell his story.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

To the Embassy

Today we go to the Embassy to get Sy's visa. Last big step. Sy has been sleeping so much better. Still rocking but not so intensely. He has a real phobia of getting dressed or at least does a great job of acting (as the doctor would say). Each day is a little better and I suspect we will have a bit of a set back from the plane trip but we will survive. The Marriott is a wonderful hotel (and perhaps I am paying for it!). The staff are mostly bilingual (thank you to that). I can't remember if I put this in my post yesterday but we ate at McDonalds yesterday (french fries). Pretty much like home. Couldn't resist, it was the first real taste of home, oh besides the Cinnabon! We didn't stray far from the hotel yesterday and we will likely make the short trip to Red Square today. My son is living on yogurt, crackers, apple juice and milk right now. Can't seem to get him to eat much else. But, he is eating plenty of that. I attempted to put something in his mouth but that was not a pretty site. I assume he will not eat just these 4 things his whole life so we will figure it out once we get home. He seems to already be responding pretty well to his name, although I am now calling him Sy Vova. Vova is his nickname from the orphanage. We will slowly transiition to just Sy but for now this seems to be working. He loves a good bath except the water over his eyes. Jake was the same way. This will likely be my last post from Russia, but I will continue this blog for a while until I am boring myself writing it and people quit reading it. It really is a journal for Sy when he gets older. There will be plenty of stories when we get back home that I will want to document while he is transitioning. Thanks for following my story. It has been an amazing experience. I will leave you with the few Russia words I know. Paka (good bye), Priviet (Hello), Dobre Ootra or what Sy says ootra ootra (good morning), Spasiba (thank you) Pazhalsta (Please, your welcome), Da (yes), and the one I hear the most.....NYET!!!!!!!

Moscow

Well we made it and survived UTAIR airlines. A less than desirable landing followed by a bus ride from the plane that I am sure would be considered more like a tour of the airport as we weaved and wound our way to baggage claim. Sy was a trooper although upset at multiple times along the way. Today was our medical for Sy and he passed with flying colors. The doctor told me that because he comes from an orphanage he is very used to direct orders and that he is going to test me because I seem "weak". The doctor said that he knows that if he cries that I will pick him up and that if I continue to fall for his tears I will be carrying him until he is 24! He urged me not to do that. He also said I should take him to Hollywood not just for his good looks but for his acting! All of that in less than 5 minutes I believe! I asked about his feet which he barely glanced at and he said it is a food allergy, don't give him orange or red things to eat, or citrus or chocolate cause those things might cause allergies. I think he has a fungus! Whatever! Done with that. Off to the American Embassy tomorrow for his Visa. The city is beautiful but I am short on energy to travel far. We might get out and about this afternoon. I have to pay for internet access in the room, on top of the $300/night to stay here. Hmmm, seems like it should be included. Oh well. It is free in the lobby so I will try and utilize it some. We will likely go to Red Square today or tomorrow. We were in the car today to get to the medical and I am sure we didn't go far but the traffic is THICK here with one way streets everywhere so it seemed like forever. We have a wonderful coordinator and driver here. He seems to be a bit more "smooth with the pedal" so we have had little surging and stopping despite the much greater traffic. Hurray for that. For days now Sy has been saying "NeeBooToo", and I thought his feet were hurting when we were dressing him.. Nope...that means..I won't do it or I don't want to! Makes sense now! He likes to say that and Nyet. If Nyet continues much longer I am thinking about renaming him Nyet Schlattmann. Just Kidding. I am counting down the days yet dreading the very long flight that comes with it. Hopefully Sy will settle in. Paka Paka for now.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Final Day in Krasnoyarsk!

Well, this is our last day here. We have spent much of it packing and eating what we had left in the apartment. Sy slept pretty good and and I gave him another bath. He enjoyed it. His feet are looking much better so that is good news. We were not able to meet up with the Loomans as I had hoped but I am so glad for the time I had with them. They are here for a wonderful cause and if you ever google Global Recordings Network you can read more about the wonderful mission they serve. We leave today at 5 pm for a 8 pm flight. Krasnoyarsk is a city of 1 million people with an airport the size of Cody's airport serving 50,000 people! I am a little nervous about the 3 hours we will be waiting with our new 2 year old. Hope we can keep him entertained! There will be lots of new experiences for him today, a bus that takes us to the plane, a plane, and then Moscow! Oh boy, it could be quite an adventure. I do not know how much internet service I will have once in Moscow, but hope to be able to post a little something each day. We are on the final leg of this journey. Wish us luck!

Ups and Downs

It was another beautiful day here. Sy woke up early, well 3 am early and then again at about 6am. He is obviously still trying to adjust as am I. The heavy rocking to put himself to sleep and the sucking on the fingers is still very real and will be something we deal with as we go. I hope we can help him find other ways to cope and to soothe himself. As I mentioned, Sy also has some type of foot issue, similar to Athlete's foot, but we are not yet sure. Bought some ointment today, which he was NOT fond of at all! I think it is going to help though. I will be interested to see how they look in the morning. He seems to rub them at night and has several spots he itches. I gave him a bath today, which he ultimately loved, although there was some initial hesitation. It was definitely needed because when I poored it out, it was a dingy shade of brown. I should have given him one right away but thought I should give him a day to adjust. There were ups and downs today as he is not wanting to go outside and would rather not wear much for clothing. So I am the bad guy whenever these moments occur. His mood swings are closely related to his food consumption it seems. Sy has been very picky with what he will eat, In fact he will not eat any of the things that he supposedly ate at the orphanage. Hmmmm. He loves milk, yogurt, pudding, animal crackers, the waffles I described as my favorites, and biting the tales off the gold fish crackers! Not kidding there. Most everything else has been a NYET! He gets pretty rambunctious some times. Sy the Explorer has touched every thing in this apartment that he is not supposed to and some of them more than once. NYET is his new best friend it seems. He finds comfort in two places, his crib and the chair at the kitchen table. It is weird to watch that but perhaps I am rubbing off on him. I think the kitchen table is a great comfort spot too, especially with a bowl of icecream!..............We braved it today folks...The Park family invited us to go to lunch and we went to KFC. I had been avoiding this place because I just kept thinking that it could be a potential gut ache, but hours later and I am feeling quite good and the food was really good. Sy got to ride in his first trike stroller. He cried getting in, but once he was in, he was only upset when we stopped and took him out. He has been more emotional today and a bit bull-headed, but I am glad to see him expressing himself. I received all of his paperwork today and now have his passport, which is one of the last hurdles to jump through. Tomorrow we leave at 5 pm for the airport and on to Moscow. Two more hurdles there (visa and medical for Sy) and we are homeward bound! I CAN"T WAIT! But I will say, I am going to miss a few things about Krasnoyarsk. The Looman family and Park family, easy access to icecream and Cinnabon, and well....that is about it! Oh and pizza nearly every day for 19 days! You will be happy to know that I am down to one Diet Pepsi per day, but I have taken a liking to Fanta. My gum chewing is also way down, but Cindy brought me two packs of my favorite gum, Extra Mint Chocolate Chip. If you have not tried it, you should! I should buy stock in it!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tough as Nails!

Boy I tell you, Sy is really something. I have been reflecting on what the journey has been like for him in just two days time. He was whisked away from the only place he knew, in a "machiney" that he was scared to death of, brought to a home he had never been to before, ate food that was foreign to him, and sat and listened to people he could not understand. He then went for a walk in a very busy city, went to the grocery store, got back in a car and went to another home (the Looman's) where he had never been and back in the machiney home. Through all of that he only cried when having to get all his clothes on or get in the car and each time it was only for a minute or two. Can you imagine? I have been feeling sorry for myself here and I have been through NOTHING compared to this little guy. He is AMAZING. He giggles, played with the boys, sat in our laps, played peekaboo, and more. ...........I have found out few things about orphanage life...first, if you can imagine sleeping in a bedroom with 16 little people, try picturing falling asleep with some kids crying, snoring, coughing, wheezing, screaming or who knows what. Well Sy has developed a few coping mechanisms we have found out. He sucks very hard on this first two fingers, so much so that they are somewhat mis-shapen. And he rocks himself to sleep each night in a very agressive rolling motion. It is a bit disturbing to watch but apparently is somewhat common in orphanage life. (from what I hear and have read). The other thing I have found is that Sy has a bit of a hygiene issue that was not well taken care of. It appears he has athletes foot or some type of fungus, pretty bad! His toes are oozing and he is very unhappy to have his socks taken off, because it HURTS!!!! I originally thought it was sores from his sandals being too small, but this is way different. Tomorrow I will go in search of a soothing product of some sort. I feel real bad for him because I think his feet hurt quite a bit and the shoes are not helping much. After a pretty uneventful morning, we spent the afternoon with the Loomans. The plan was to meet up with several others for a birthday party/cookout. Well, the weather did not cooperate and so we packed up and went to the Looman's house. The Park family also was with us. It was wonderful to visit, eat good food, and relax. I think I mention this often, but the Looman's are so wonderful. I will never be able to repay them for their kindness. Sy has taken a real liking to Grammie (Cindy) which is not surprising at all. All children do and she has been so helpful to me. She was able to go to church this morning and I am glad she was able to go for Palm Sunday and experience this part of the Russian culture (although very much the minority it seems). Tomorrow is a day of rest until 4:30 when i go to pick up Sy's passport. So off to sleep I go. Sy has finally settled down and is no longer rocking. He is very peaceful once he gets to sleep. Hopefully over time, some of this coping will give way to comfort and peace in his new home. Oh and one last thought.....at home we have 3 dogs, two cats, several horses and cows.....Sy is scared to death of most of these animals, particularly dogs. the Loomans dog had him running for cover....so it will be an interesting few days when we arrive.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Amazing!




That is how I would describe the feeling I have right now! After all the planning, carefully being sure to have all the right clothes, hats, mittens, tights (yes tights) a heavy jacket, snowboots, ect...it as 70 degrees outside and Cy left the orphanage wearing only a sweatshirt, light jeans and tennis shoes!................ So I am sure you are wondering how the car ride went right? Well here is how it went....Drove two hours as fast as we could to the orphanage to be there before his nap, walked in, went upstairs, began to get everything ready and the caretaker came in carrying Sy who was already crying. She accepted my treats for the orphanage, swept up Sy and hurried us down the steps. As we were going she handed me a candy that I was supposed to give to him the moment he got in the car. Rush, rush, rush....people talkings, them pointing at me to get in, get in , get in. They handed me Sy who was now REALLY crying. I put him in the car seat, still crying. Lena took the candy from me, unwrapped it and pretty much shoved half of it in his mouth, he bit down, and wa la, his mouth was basically stuck shut! The candy was a chocolate covered sticky fruity thing that he could do nothing more with that suck on until it unleashed itself from his teeth. By that point, he was ok in the car despite the crazy driving. We made it home in RECORD time I am sure! Well maybe not, but seemed like it. Sy did not get car sick, did not cry anymore and napped for about 15 minutes. He didn't crack a smile the whole time and would hardly look at me. Poor guy. The orphanage caretaker did send him with a little bear which he clutched tightly the entire time. So after all the buildup, it was quick and we hardly had time to blink! Now here comes the best part....once we got out of the car, Sy held on to me tightly and once we were in the apartment, all was right with the world. He is amazingly resilient little guy. We no more got in the door and we peeled off his sweatshirt. He then preceded to take off his shoes, followed by his pants. He spent the rest of the afternoon running around in socks, underwear and his tank top. We did dress back up for a bit and go outside. It was a bit of a wrestling match at first but once we were out, he was very content. The last event of the evening was supper. Well, Grammie fixed spaghetti, cut up cheese and ham and we were excited for his first big meal. Well, NYET. Nyet to spaghetti, Nyet to cheese, Nyet to Ham and NYET to bananas....so we went to cereal. DA, DA, DA to that! Not exactly what I was envisioning but hey at this point, whatever works! With the lack of a nap, he went to bed pretty early. He is sound asleep right now and I hope it will be an uneventful evening. So day one is in the books and I could not be happier. All the stress just melted away as soon as I was here with him and could love on him without caring what anyone else was thinking. So thanks for all the prayers, they helped! I am so grateful to have Cindy here to experience this with me. She has patiently watched me go from happy, to grumpy, to growly, to happy again. What a saint she is! We will be here until Tuesday awaiting his passport and then off to Moscow for a medical exam for him and his visa to come to the US. We are on the home stretch! I will leave you with a few additional photos. One is a a roadside vendor, and this is his Marketing Plan I think! It seems to work to get people to stop, even if just for a picture. The second one is Cindy and I near a chapel high above Krasnoyarsk. It was a bit smoggy, but still a beautiful day.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Last Visit!

Today we went to the orphanage. Cindy got to meet her new grandson and they seemed to connect very well. He was a bit standoffish at first but that is how it always is. He made good eye contact with her and eventually was sharing his toy airplane with her. She always knows how to win them over! It was another typical day but he came in a bit disgruntled as all his buddies were headed out side, he was "stuck" inside wih us. He came around and we did all the same games, bubbles, tickling and music playing we always do. And at 11:30 when the word lunch was murmured, he was "outta there". He has no idea what is about to unfold. I am very nervous, excited, hesitant and sad for this day. Sad because I am taking Sy from the only life he has ever known and in a years time he will probably have only vague memories of it. Sad because I am taking him from his "brothers and sisters" and his caretakers that he knows as his "moms". I know we are going to give him a great life, but that doesn't help the short term heartache that he is going to feel. So Saturday morning when you wake up, say a little prayer for him because he and I are going to need all the support there is. .........Today's frustration is that I thought I brought everything I could possibly need for him, but the underwear were too big, the socks too small and the coat is for -40 degrees weather and it is going to be 70 degrees tomorrow. So...off to the store to buy new underwear, new socks and a jacket. As my patience is starting to wear thin after two weeks, these "shopping" experiences are getting less and less joyful. And in this particular store, which is one large all you can buy kid store, you must pay for each type of item separately in separate locations with separate people helping you. So each separate lady gets to go through the pain of not being able to communicate with me and most likely wishing I would go away! Well have no fear, I wish I could go away and I am about to! .....The warm weather has brought out the entire city for a stroll. It seems like wall to wall people, likely accentuated by the fact that I am growing weary of this whole event. I have gone from trying to smile and be pleasant, to a stiff emotionless person that pretends that you don't exist even if you walk right into me! That is a sure sign that I am fading quickly. ....We have done our best to prepare for the arrival of Sy by purchasing food so we can eat in. I am hoping the weather will stay favorable for the next three days so we can get out side and let him run around. The day is finally here and by Saturday at 2 am your time, we will have picked up Sy and will be heading home in a "machiney" that he is scared to death of! Hope that doesn't last long. The big update will be tomorrow and I will let you know how it unfolds. Thanks for listening and tune in again for the first day of .....Sy Schlattmann's journey to America!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Comforts of Home!

Nope not home yet....I wish...but second to that is having Cindy arrive here today. So great to see her and have someone I can practice my English on! With her arrival came some nice amenities...#1 is Extra Mint Chocolate Chip flavored gum! Oh yeahhhh! I am chewing some as I type this and it is AMAZING!!! She also brought M&M's and if you know me you know that I love M&M's....the bad news is that I gave up chocolate while observing Lent. So I will resist the urge and let her eat them and maybe they will be the next new treat for Sy (I hear they might work well for bribery, err I mean rewards). It could be a long plane ride and this could be my ticket. So glad to have her here......On a separate note you will be happy to know that I braved the meat section in the local grocery store and purchased what I hoped was salami. I also attempted to purchase mustard and thank goodness for the distinguishing color and a small label on the packaging that said "real mustard". Score for both. I haven't been sick yet so it looks like I may have found a winner in the meat section. Cindy and I branched out today and bought ham, but we have not actually tried it, so wish us luck! I can only describe the experience of shopping in a Russian grocery store as the experience I have had when our family would get a box of Seas chocolates. There were only a few that I would like and each time I picked one out of the box, I was taking a chance. Sometimes it was coconut...yuck. That has been my luck at the store. Cheese is a good example...tried to buy the same kind that Dean had and ended up with something a little different...not so good. But when all else fails I know exactly which type of ice cream to buy and you never have to worry that I might starve over here! (You were worried weren't you?) ....Last night I met up with the Park family as they are on their ten day waiting period as well. I went over to their apartment for a game of Catan. Any one ever play that? Well I hadn't, but it was real fun and I WON!!! I think they were being awfully kind to me and don't think that they will be so generous if we meet up again! A great family that I am happy to have met here in a strange land. Between them and the Looman's I have managed to pass the time so quickly. Thank you thank you thank you!............Cindy and I went down to a local market and walked around. It was crazy, there were clothes, hats, shoes, doors, shovels....you name it they have it there. Picked up a few souvenirs there. So all and all it has been a good few days. The weather is beautiful and we are heading out later.....On a separate note, my son Jake broke his arm yesterday apparently. Boy did that make me want to go home! Apparently he and Cindy (the horse) went one way and the rope that was hooked to Pidgeon (the horse) went the other. Kerplop....tried to catch himself on the way down. Supposed to be getting it casted tomorrow. Mom's are supposed to be there for that stuff! He doesn't apppear to be too worked up over it. Perhaps I am more so than him. This is just the beginning of the doctors visits in he and Sy's life I am sure!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Car ride, what car ride?

Well it looks the coordinator was as scared about taking the trip to the passport office as Sy was! So we didn't go! And they brought a camera to take his picture and are going to see if they can submit their own passport photo. I will know for sure when I get back in the vehicle on Friday. So, crisis overted for now but we may be doing it on Friday. We'll see. I was sort of in the "let's get 'er done" mode and be through with it, but I don't really have the final say..or any say it seems. Oh well, it made for a MUCH more pleasant morning with him. He entered as he always does...frowning and not real excited to be brought down to the room. He exited like he always does...running to the door because someone said "lunch". But in between it was great. He has now mastered blowing bubbles and really enjoys that. He giggles and laughs through the whole thing. I bought a small toy that I thought would be good for the plane and we played with it. He seemed to like it. But we mainly rolled around on the floor. It was pretty hot in the room and that seemed to make him and me lethargic. But it was great because we rolled all over and then sometimes we just laid there and I gave him kisses and held him. I liked that...I don't know if he did, but he wasn't saying NYET so that might be a good sign! Today just the word "machiney" (car) had him saying NYET. So we will let the drama unfold in the car on another day.......Last night I Skyped with a Winnnett High School class and my sister also brought her class in. I enjoyed it and was able to talk about my experience here in Russia. I probably bored them to tears but it was nice for me to get to see that bright and cheery face of Katy and her son Logan also made a brief appearance. That made it all worth it...... It is rainy here today, but clearing up now. Dean's mom Cindy is flying in tomorrow morning. It will be nice to see her. Tonight I am headed to play cards and visit with the Park family. They too are on the ten day wait, after going to court yesterday. ..... I guess I better get to cleaning this place up! I have sort of made myself at home and perhaps Cindy would like some room for her stuff as well! We will be headed back to see Sy on Friday, the LAST day before we pick him up! Yippee!

Enisey, Enisey, Enisey



Tonight I went to the basketball game with the Park family and the Loomans. It was so fun. Despite what we all agreed was some pretty shady looking cheerleading uniforms, the game itself was quite entertaining. Although down about 14 at one point, the Enisey Krasnoyarsk team came back and won by 1 point. Even I was standing up and cheering. Good stuff. Of course again I had no idea what was being said but as with so many things here, the announcer was so LOUD and the music was so LOUD. The announcer would jabber something and then begin the Enisey..Enisey chant over and over again. The Americans on both teams seem to be the stars, but it was fun to watch......I went running this morning and finally remembered to take my camera along. Just so you know, grafiti must be universal because there is plenty of it here. And more importantly it appears there is someone out there who is trying to tell us that it is "its ok not to drink". The problem with the sign is that it is in ENGLISH and from what I can tell, no one here speaks ENGLISH, so I think perhaps they are targeting the wrong population. Just a thought. If you look close, under the first sign is one about Cannibus...hmmm not sure on the message there! But the other two pictures along the river are where I run each morning. It is very nice. ......I spent most of the afternoon with Iris and the boys. They were going to the dentist and I was curious about what a dental office would be like in Russia. I had a crazy visual in my head of something sort of primitive....it wasn't. Seemed fairly normal. Bummer I was hoping to have good story there, but not so much. We had Subway and Baskin Robin when we were finished. I thought I had hit the jackpot there as two very American establishments graced my presence. It was maybe not as good as home, but not too bad. I even risked it and had salami. Thanks to the Loomans who have continued to welcome me in, this has been a very pleasant stay by myself. .....I went to Cinnabon again today...just couldn't resist and although my plan was to just buy one, I bought two and here is why....because it is so darn hard to even order anything due to my lack of Russian and their lack of English that I decided I was not going to torture them any more than I had too...see it isn't about me..it is about helping them. They would thank me for it if they knew that was my strategy. So far I have only managed to eat one! So see I have control. .......Tomorrow I am off again to see Sy. We will be taking a car trip to get his passport photo. Somehow I think that it will not be a happy one! .......I am missing everyone terribly and this week is the all important District Accredidation in our schools and although you might think I am glad I am not there, I am not. I would be there in an instant if I could bring Sy with! So I will head to bed forever chanting Enisey..Enisey...Enisey. Hope you are all well. Oh and one final note...today was Astronaut day here in Russia or is it Cosmonaut day, hmm not sure But either way, I didn't know it existed but it does and there was a ceremony in front of the statue of Lenin to celebrate it. Just a little piece of information for you to put in your bag of useful (maybe useless) pieces of information!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Don't Try This At Home - Actually Do



OK, so I know that I have mentioned the driving here in several posts but really folks I have had lots of time to think about it and this is what I want you to do......get in the back seat of the car.....find the first teenager available (drivers license optional)............Let them drive out of town a little ways......then give them explicit instructions to GUN it going from 0 to 60 as quick as possible.....then once you are going at least 60, give them instructions to slam on the brakes going from 60 to 0. Do this at least ten times and add in there while they are going 60 to start swirving like they are missing potholes. Pretend there is at least a half mile of pot holes! .....And for your finale, find a place where there is a dip in the road, now drive about a half mile down the road from there and turn around.. ....Again have the teenager accelerate to AT LEAST 70 miles per hour while hitting the dip in the road......Did you catch air? I did...Not just the car, but me in the back seat as well, when my head hit the ceiling! I am not exaggerating here!!!!!..Yep today I was back to Achinsk (two hours of hell in the back seat of a car). ................... It was great to Sy though. He was outside when we got there so we were able to go to the "playground" and then he walked around the orphanage with me. I do think we are going to be in for a bit of a long ride home though. While we were outside, we took Sy over by the car thinking he would like to see it and such. Not so much....Sy was scared to death of the car...and all he could say was NYET, NYET, NYET!! And scream! Did I mention that we have to take him to get his passport photo in Achinsk. That is what we are doing on Wednesday. I don't think it is going to be a pleasant experience. So in an effort to try to ease him into the idea we walked around (very far from) the car and the other children all came over. None of them were scared, so I am not sure why Sy is so particularly scared. Any way, we also walked by another car and stopped. NYET We stopped in front of it and I touched it and he touched it but that was as close as it got. Did I mention that he loves cars? That's what they told me. Apparently the toy sized ones are about it!..........So I followed them in after the walk and they have quite a handful of kids. They are bundled up like eskimos with large winter coats, hats, scarfs, snow shoes. Under all of that are long sleeve shirts, shorts and tights. He was sweating when he finally got everything off. Me too! We played in the music room for about 45 minutes. I was very nervous because this was the first time that I was by myself. It went pretty good. We did a little of everything. Rolled around on the floor, lifted him up in the air, catch, stomped the bubbles and the highlight.............Sy blew his own bubbles. He has watched us do it enough, that when I put it up near his mouth, he blew and out came bubbles. He liked that! But all the fun came to a screaching halt when I pulled out his new coat to see if it would fit. Can you guess what he said...........................NYET. I didn't even try. I already know it will fit..actually a bit too big I would guess, but it will do. So we went back to playing and forgot about all of that. But as soon as the caretaker came in, Sy turned into, Hungry Man and off he went without looking back. Lunch is the big meal, so I don't blame him. The ride home was much like the ride there so I closed my eyes and clicked my heals together and said "I wanna go home" and poof there we were back in Krasnoyarsk! I wish!..........Since it is so nice here and my apartment faces somewhat west, I get an incredible amount of sun flooding in. It is hotter than the bajabbers in here! Oh well, off I go for a nice sunny run. Heard it snowed at home, geez that is too bad. You can blame it on Dean!.............One final note...I am a Cinnabon junkie! I tried but couldn't resist. This time though, I only bought one. That way I can only eat one and will have to walk back there if I think I must continue feeding my bad habit. I have no control! Most of you already know that though. I will leave you with two pictures of my travels to Achinsk. The first one, if you look real close is of fighter jet and to the right is a tank in downtown Achinsk, the other, taken from the prime location of the back seat is of the single lane tunnel you pass through on your way in and out of Achinsk. A friendly reminder of the good ole days I would say!

Beautiful Day #3



The weather has been so nice here. Dean must have took all the rain and snow back with him to Wyoming! That is fine by me. I spent much of the day outdoors and it was wonderful. I went to church today with the Looman's who have graciously taken me in to their lives while I am here. It has made this whole stay so pleasant and I can't thank them enough. The choir in the church was wonderful. Even though I had no idea what they were singing, it was still great. Iris translated much of the sermon for me and so I was able to follow along. We ate PIZZA ( I know, hard to believe that I had pizza again!) at Mama Roma's. For sure my mind was bigger than my stomach because we had lots of leftovers, but it was yummy. We went back to the plaza afterwards and the boys rode their bikes. They rode and rode and rode. I couldn't believe how long they went. They loved it. It was so beautiful out. I was invited over to the Park apartment but did not get the message in time. I hope to meet up with them tomorrow. Oh and I get to go to basketball game. Apparently there is a professional basketball team here and we are going to watch them on Tuesday. We saw a couple of the players at Mama Roma's. Should be interesting. And just in case you are a die hard basketball fan, you can got to: http://www.eurobasket.com/team.asp?Cntry=RUS&Team=1847 to learn more about them. Tomorrow I am off to see Sy. I can't wait. Enjoy the rain folks. The pictures are of the church, the Looman's, some poor horses with a bad job, and of the toy store!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Pizza

No doubt about it, I have had more pizza in Russia in this short period of time than I would likely get at home, though pizza is something I could eat daily no matter where I am. Today, was spent sleeping in (til 7), working on a project for work, running, and then meeting up with another American family and the Looman's for an afternoon of visiting. The Looman boys are still learning to ride their bikes. Because summer is so short here and the fact that there does not appear to be anywhere to really ride, they never get much of a chance to master bike riding. But they had it down pat after today and it was great to watch them go from wobbling to riding like little maniacs around the plaza area. We went to California Pizza for supper, followed by icecream. Both were good for me. This is sort of a boring post as I didn't see anyone climbing out a manhole, no aqua aerobics, or anything cool like that. The weather has turned beautiful here thank goodness. The whole time Dean was hear it was very drury, so too bad he missed all of this good stuff. I am sure he will be disappointed (yeah right, he is back home, so I doubt he will even blink an eye). Have no fear, I am a far cry from fitting in around here. No matter how I dress, I don't feel that I would be able to fit the dress code. I would have to wear these boots to even have a chance. So just try and picture me in those and know that there is not a chance that I will ever want to make the leap to live here any longer than three weeks! Guaranteed. Dean and I did an informal research study while sitting at a restaurant and determined that nearly 50% of all women who passed by were wearing something similar to this. WHY??? ....The Looman's said that the plaza area turns pretty interesting in the summer. The people may dress like Eskimos in the winter but come summer they turn into California girls. Minimal clothing is the norm. So all you guys, this might be the place to be in the summer! Well one more day of "rest" and then back to see Sy. I can't wait.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Friday Final Post

Well as I mentioned, I spent the afternoon with the Looman's at their wonderful home outside of Krasnoyarsk. We had pork sandwiches, french fries and milkshakes. It doesn't get any better than that folks! And the grand finale...aqua-aerobics. Let's just say, it was not a pretty sight for me and the swim suit, but it was a blast. The gal leading it spoke Russian obviously and was shouting out orders from the deck and counting up and down from 8. I thought I might have those numbers learned by the time I left, but not so much. Although I think I have 3 down because it sounds like "three". That makes it easy. There were only four of us and apparently I was her focus because she was constantly correcting my obviously poor form. Straighten your arms, don't splash, faster, work harder. All I could do was laugh because I had no idea she was talking to me until about the third time she would repeat herself and everyone looked at me and then translated what she said. It was quite an experience. I met another American missionary family that came over to the Looman's. DeDe came with us to aquaaerobics...... Here is a funny thing....the water was very deep, like to my chin deep. I was the tallest one there! The fourth gal that joined us was maybe 5'4, so picture how the water was for her. We were all drowning as she had us moving 100 miles an hour and we were creating a small tsunami with each movement! A memorable occasion for sure. ...... We stopped at the local grocery store where Iris showed me different things I could buy. It is universal...don't eat the hotdogs! I had pretty much figured that and had taken that approach with ALL meat. I think I will stick with that. Tomorrow is another day of rest. I think I will sleep in...6 am if I am lucky. Good night!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Friday - Post #2

Ok, so there are times when you wish you had your camera...that was today. Let me start this off by saying that there are a LOT of manholes in this town. They are everywhere. I am very aware of them because as a child, I once fell in one. Not a pleasant memory but anyway...so two things...first, one of the manholes has a huge hole broke out of it. It is in a very public space and even though I know it is there I fear I am going to fall into it. (I think that might be residual effects of my past experience, just guessing here!) So what I really was going to comment on is that today I saw at least 4 people crawling out of a manhole. At first I thought, "oh they must be workers who were fixing something" BUT then I saw a young women come climbling out wearing her very nice Chartroose (sp) jacket. Very odd I might say. A bit alarming if you are me running by, but odd to say the least! .....Today I used the washing machine...Now that might not seem like a big deal but everything on it is in Russian so it makes it a bit more of a challenge. I had no idea what cycle I was using but the one good thing it did have was the water temperature was in numbers (30) so I errored on the conservative side and went with the coldest water setting. On top of that, there was laundry detergent in the apartment. Again, not as easy as it sounds since it too was in Russian. The real question here was: Is this bleach or is this detergent? I went with the smell test and guessed it to be detergent. A conservative person would have washed their whites first, but not me....I went for it and stuck in the darks...So what do you think happened? ............................I was RIGHT!!! Thank goodness because I would have looked awfully funny wearing my clothes once they were bleached and like I don't already stick out enough, this would have accentuated it. So now I am off to visit Iris and her family, an American familyliving right here in Krasnoyarsk. Very exciting. I will get to practice my English on her! And the highlight might be me attending aqua-aerobics with her and her friends! I am a bit hesitant on this one for two reasons: 1) I don't do aqua-aerobics even in the US 2) I don't have a swim suit and so Iris is planning to loan me one. She is a bit smaller than me, so that could be a challenge! And after two cinnabon rolls this morning, even more of a challenge! I will let you know how that goes.

Friday - Post #1

Well I figured I better try this layout since I may come back to this blog mulitple times now that I am sitting in this apartment by myself. I was sad to see Dean leave, because now truly I am alone, and that is a bit nerve wracking and frankly BORING! I have never been real good at talking to myself but I will likely master it before I leave here. Remember I mentioned Cinnabon? Well I had Dean walk down there with me yesterday so that I could "stock up". BAD IDEA!! I bought four, and they are all gone! Nervous twitch I have is to eat. And they were REALLY good I might add. So I will be taking a bit of a break from them. You see the good thing about Russians is that they, like me, like sweets and pastries. The bad thing about Russians is that they, like me, like sweets and pastries! I have little to no control and nothing is too far from my apartment........ On a separate note, I do not get to go back to the orphanage til Monday. I kind of figured that would be the case, but asked to go Saturday. They said, NYET. So I will travel there Monday, Wednesday and Friday (with Cindy) and then pick Sy up for GOOD on Saturday. They inspected the clothes I brought for him last night and it looks like I will pass...just barely. I did not bring a snow suit, which seems to be an issue most of the time, but I did bring tights (yes tights for my little boy) and lined pants. So we will see their reaction when we take his clothes on Friday. Visiting Sy on Monday will be interesting since I will be by myself with him. He really took to Dean, which is great, but I wonder how he will react when it is just me....... Observation of the day...DOGS. Dogs here in Krasnoyarsk remind me of the stray cats that seems to be abundant in Greybull. Apparently very few of the people have seen the Price is Right, you know, the part where Bob Barker would say, "Help control the pet population, have your pet spay or neutered!"(BTW, I miss that show!) They are everywhere. Heck they have learned how to hang at the cross walks with all the people so that they don't get hit while crossing the streets! Although (and some of you might not want to hear this) we have seen come casualties from dogs who perhaps didn't obey the stop signs...... And finally....to end this on a positive note...one really good thing is that my apartment is just across from the river walk, so I have a quick street crossing and then I get to go for a really nice morning run. That is where I am headed now.

I am going to quit counting days for a while!

I have quit counting days so as not to dwell on the fact that I am going to be here for a while! We went back to the orphanage today. Sy was a bit less playful but still had the giggles and his favorite part of the visit was us helping him "jump" into the air. Over and over and over again. And when we would try to take a break he would back himself up to our legs for us to do it some more. That went on for quite some time. We tried to draw with him, but he thought eating the crayons sounded like more fun, NYET to that. His attention span was pretty short and he was definitely tired of all the same old same old. He did get to play on the piano for a bit as we were in the music room. He liked that and was displeased when the cover was put down and kept going back hoping to get to play some more. When we first got there today, they were still using the music room so we went into the "sensory room". It was giant bean bag chairs, mats and a very cool fish lamp. It was a large tube filled with water that was circulating with fake fish in it and the lamp would change colors periodically. Sy really liked that. We were glad to leave that room though because it was the size of a small bathroom. Made it difficult to play. It rained and snowed the entire trip but due to a MIRACLE I was able to close my eyes and nap through some of it. So I wont' be able to tell you how bad the trip was this time. I am sure more stories will arise. Did I tell you they have a Cinnabon here? OMG. It is by far the closest thing to home I have come across. I bought two the other day and promptly ate them (the mini variety). I want to go back and tomorrow I just might. I will need to waste some time. Dean leaves in the morning and I will not be going to the orphanage. I am hoping to go Saturday and then a few times next week. We will see tonight when our coordinator comes by. As for cards, well we are all tied up in all categories believe it or not. I won't go into the fact that twice I was this close to winning and choked. Tomorrow if everything goes well I will be visiting with an American family that lives here in Krasnoyarsk. It will be nice to spend some time away from here and with a chance to work on my English, which I am afraid I will forget in the THREE weeks I am here! Oh there I go again, reminding myself of the days. Anyway, that is all for now. Oh did I tell you they have individually wrapped ice cream cones here? I am always attracted to the low cal things, haven't you noticed. That is all for now. Paka Paka (see I am losing my English skills as we speak!)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day 6 - Is that it, only 6 days?

Well, it seems as if we have been here a bit longer than six days, but officially it is six (but I say eight), so whatever. Today we went back to the orphanage and had a blast tickling Sy, playing catch and with puzzles. If only it were closer because I am telling you, that drive is a killer. Snowy roads coupled with us swirving to miss pot holes, surging and then braking, and passing and being passed at alarmingly close proximity to one another is making each trip seem like eternity. Even our coordinator and interpreter asked us when we got back today "Are you sure you want to go tomorrow?". Well yes we want to go back but No we don't want to drive there ever again! I have never had two hours seem like two days, but it does. On the brighter side, we were able to see Sy's sleeping room which he shares with 15 others, his play room, and his study/dining room, which he also shares with 15 or so others. Oh and the bathroom, which has 16 little potties lined up. Each child has their own. Very interesting. We tried his new shoes on him, which he definitely did not like at all! They fit, but it was a battle because he REALLY covets the shoes he wears right now, but we will not be able to take any of the clothes he has when we leave the orphanage. So, he will have to get by with the new ones. I thought I would post a few new Krasnoyarsk photos. One is of the anomoly known as the U-turn. Very interesting. The other is Dean in awe over the VERY large cans of beer they sell. And then just a few of some interesting places we saw along the way, like the fire hall and the plastic trees that line the streets. So we head back again tomorrow and then Dean leaves the next day. My posts may get longer because I will need to fill my time here and you will all be my audience! How lucky are you? There are a few good things that have come out of this trip besides the obvious. My caffeine consumption is down, one diet pepsi a day. That is an amazing triumph for me. I have also fallen in love with a new food that I found at the grocery store, called a FLARONIS. They are a waffle and they are yumlicious! Oh and I am still up one game in Rummy but have come to a dead heat with Spades and Pitch!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Day 5 - Court



We passed!!!!!! So I considered calling each one of you but then I thought perhaps since it was midnight you might not appreciate it. Court was about 1 1/2 hours long and the judge addressed almost all of the questions to Dean. Dean did a wonderful job and we have been issued a decree to adopt. Now we wait, because officially he is not our child until April 16th which is the 11th day of a 10 day wait period (I love how they count!!!). Apparently we had the tough judge and she never once cracked a smile, but no one here does! When I get back I am going to have to practice smiling again. We saw one family ahead of us who had a successful adoption and there was another family right after us. Both couples were from Spain. I can't believe this day has finally arrived. I just wish Sy was with us right now. But after over a year of being patient I think I can tough out the next 10 days. Hey, does anyone want to make a quick trip over here to hang out with me when Dean leaves? Just checking. The weather has been colder and intermittent snow but if all goes well we get to go back to Achinsk tomorrow and see Sy again. We are hoping to go tomorrow and Thursday before Dean leaves to come home. Jake has been busy with Grammie making a scarf for Sy on Uncle Rollo's old sewing machine. Can't wait to see that. I miss him terribly and all of you as well.

So, I will officially introduce you today to Sy Vladimir Schlattmann. I know many of you have seen his pictures but for those who have not, here he is.


Day 4-Medicals

Well, the medical exams were uneventful. We did have to do a urine test which apparently is not the norm, so everyone was a bit nervous. For some reason so was I, even though I knew that I was 'clean'. That was crazy! I just kept thinking, what if I test positive? What the heck would I do then? How would I ever prove they are wrong? Nerve wracking, and all the while knowing that you have nothing in your system! Geez, just think how people feel that have something to worry about? A side note, there doesn't seem to be a lot of concern as we watched two men go in together to provide the sample. Hmmm, seems a little odd. No one blinked an eye except for Dean and I. After we finished with the 8 doctor exam (lol) we came back to the apartment where we were prepped for court. Dean is expected to do most of the talking. Now if you know Dean, you know he is a man of few words. And if you don't know Dean, you need to know that he is a man of few words! So needless to say, we are practicing this evening to be sure we get everything said that needs to be said. Apparently one word or short phrase answers do not sufffice. Now, anyone who knows me would know that this is NOT an issue for me, but as I said, Dean is doing the talking! So court is at 10:45 am and I am as nervous as a trophy buck hanging out in a walk-in area on opening day! Cross your fingers and your toes that we get through this! Tonight we ate at New York New York, which I kind of like. They don't speak a lick of English but they have an English menu and play American music. I had pizza, which is what I have had each time we have ate there and 2 of the 3 days we have been here. It is safe! Dean had Reindeer one night and squid tonight. Yuck and Yuck. I will stick with Pizza each chance I have. Some might think I should be brave and try new things but I think coming to Russia was brave enough for me! Oh and by the way, I am still up 3 games to 2 in Rummie, 2 games to 1 in Spades and tied in Pitch. I mention this only because it could be the last time that I am in the winning side of these games! So I am getting my atta boys now knowing that they will run out. Retraction: I had said that Dean and I were carsick and Dean noted that in fact he was not car sick, just jet lag, exhaustion and crazy driving that was getting to him! My mistake!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Day 3 - Day of Rest-updated

Today we will be just hanging out because it is Sunday. It is snowing here as well and I am jealous that it is 75 degrees at home right now. The weather is still very nice and it is not cold. I forgot my USB cable so I am attempting to use my camera on my phone to take a few pics to upload. We have a great view of the river from our apartment and it is a very nice apartment. And I may have mentioned this before but the entry leading up to it leaves a bit to be desired. Once inside it is perfect. I am pretty sure I will be a master solatairre, rummie, pitch, and spades player before this is all over. Dean does not like to lose though! I am up two games in rummie! Forgive the formatting here with the pictures. I got tired of trying to make it work right. I am also uploading one of my new favorite pictures of the little guy that we are missing SOOOO much at home and my wonderful father who has been taking good care of him.

We had to get pictures developed yesterday. Just try to imagine what it was like speaking to the girl who spoke no English. I couldn't say one word in Russian. But I am getting good at grunting. Luckily there was one man there who spoke broken English and he saved the day and sent us to another store where no one spoke English. I again grunted and pointed like a Master and managed to get pictures developed! It was nothing short of a miracle!


Our first glimpse of what life is life for Sy daily was in the one set of prints. We had left a camera there and so they took some photos of him. Oddly enough the majority were of him sitting on the potty. I think this was to show us that he is nearly potty trained. Not sure. But we also got to see his bed, a picture of him eating, and one of him bathing. Since we will have so few of these, it will be nice to show him this later on.



Day 2

There was plenty of things to celebrate today. After a good nights sleep, Dean and I were much more able to cope with Russian driving. I have decided that it is indescribable really and that everyone should get to experience it once in their lives! No carsickness today, thank goodness. The sleep really made a difference. We spent a few hours with Sy today and it was good. But the word of day....NYET. I had never really heard him say it much before but it was #1 on his vocabulary list. No to playing in the toy house. No to get out the big truck. No to riding on any horse other than the pink horse. And so on and so on. Good to see he has an opinion. It was great though. We played with everything in the room practically and all the old stuff seemed to bore him. He is very agile and had a great time playing catch. Our new game was bowling, although his version was slightly different because instead of rolling the ball he was kicking it. We will not be back to see him until after court. Monday we go for our medical exams, that ought to be interesting!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Second Trip Day 1

Well, I am going to start with the bad news first....Dean and I had terrible car sickness coupled with jet lag on the trip to see Sy. Oh my it was terrible. I even tried the trick a fellow adopter had told me about which was to clothes your eyes when you get in the car and open them when you get out. Still sick! I am hoping after some sleep that tomorrow will be better. Now for the good news....we spent the afternoon with Sy and that was so great. And despite a few minutes of not seeming to want anything to do with us, before we knew it we were about where we left off. He was giggling, chasing us around, playing catch, chasing bubbles, riding the horse, and now it appears he is in to trucks. It was so great!. We get to go back tomorrow which will be our last date until court. So goodnight everyone. I will post more tomorrow.