Happy 1st Russia Party Sweet Girl!

When we were in Russia, we collected several gifts to give to Sweet Girl every year on the anniversary of when she became ours forever. In November, we were sick around this anniversary, but we talked with her that soon we’d have a party with Russia things to celebrate her being in our family for a year. She started calling it her “Russia Party.” Time slipped away and she kept asking when her Russia Party was going to happen. I had all these grand plans and because I wanted to do it right, more weeks slipped by. Finally, I told her we’d have her Russia Party before her birthday. The day I had her birthday invitations printed I knew I better get on it!

We already had dinner with friends scheduled last week so I decided to bite the bullet and just combo our little get together with her Russia Party. A few cupcakes and a sign later and it was not the extravagant celebration in my mind, but she loved every second of it!

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The gift we chose to give her this year is a book that teaches kids numbers. There are lots of number games and puzzles in this book and even those it’s a book, the puzzle pieces come out and can be put together separately or in the spot in the book. So it’s Russian, but because she doesn’t speak or read Russian, she can still use it since numbers are universal.

20140328-100443.jpgSweet Girl, we are so over the moon in love with you! I can’t imagine my life without you. Your papa and I are so proud of all you have done in 16 months in our family. Your sisters adore you and you are so patient and so kind to them. You are the perfect fit for us.

You are almost done with your kindergarten year and everyone at your school loves you and protects you. You’ve had a few bumps learning how to be a good friend and learning that it’s okay to mess up. We remind you a lot that being kid means that it’s your job to mess up and try again and it’s our job to help you learn how to make good choices.

This morning I was telling you how super cute you looked in your pigtails and you were getting annoyed with me gushing on you. You finally said, “Is your brain on top?”  I asked if you meant, “Is your brain on today?” and you said, “Yeah, that’s it!”.

I am looking forward to being your mama for as many days as God blesses me with the honor!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lost childhood

Up until a month ago, this picture, dated 9.6.10 (it’s tag is european dated) was the earliest we had of our sweet girl. I cherished it and all it represented, but I secretly prayed for a baby picture of her. How many times in your life have you referenced your baby picture? How many times when you were in school did you have to bring in a copy for some project or another? I didn’t want sweet girl to go through any trauma with not having a picture of herself before 18 months.
Our brave girl has been home for 18 months now and I thought again that I’d try to do the research to find baby house pictures. I try every couple of months but never had any luck finding anything older than this picture.
But then, I found a girl. She posted a picture on an outdated web journal years ago.
Do you see her? Do you see my sweet girl? She is down in the bottom left. A couple more inches and she wouldn’t have even made the picture. Even with this tiny snipet, I knew it was my girl. Afterall, I’m her mama. More web sleuthing (all in Russian btw), resulting in me finding this girl’s VK account (Russian facebook). I messaged her in English and Russian and introduced myself. I begged her for more pictures.
God heard my pleas and through this sweet angel of a girl, we received these:
Joy doesn’t even begin to describe it. These were pictures of my baby in her baby house. This meant they were pre-2010!
My angel wasn’t done though. She then sent these:

The one in the stroller I believe is the earliest pictures. I’d estimate that she’s 4-5 months old in this one. Do you see her little hands? At almost 6 years old they are the exact same. She’s a skinny little kid, but her little fingers are still chubby like that. She still has the same ears and the same cheeks. And she still has the same look in her eyes. It’s my baby.

Where to begin?

Let’s see, since I last updated our sweet girl turned 5! We had a jampacked summer full of so much fun! We moved. We went to the beach. We stayed up too late catching fireflies with Russian friends. We went to the zoo. Sweet girl had her first overnight trips to Annie’s house. We went to the mountains for the 4th. We played in the lake. We went fishing. We hung out with friends. We played in the pool. We played in the backyard. We went to Jaime’s wedding in PA. Sweet Girl started Kindergarten. She had her first sleepover at a friend’s house. We took some family pictures. We played ring around the rosie in a field.

Sweet girl is beyond fluent in English. She can count to 50. She knows her ABC’s and can identify the majority of her letters. She knows all her vowels and the sounds they make.

She is memorizing bible verses and hearing her little Russian accent tell me about doing to others just undoes me. It’s precious. Her fine motor skills are advancing – she can now draw pictures with purpose and write her letters. She’s getting a steady hand with the pearler beads.

She’s a wonderful big sister who loves to play with Cranky and Happy. She’s mostly patient with them, but has no problem tattling. She believes in fairness and equality and the most disruptions occur when she thinks one of those has been broken.

She LOVES to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and up until this week could care less about anything else on TV, but in the last couple days she has said she likes Doc McStuffins. She went from being terrified of animals to letting Annie’s doggies lick her and run with her.

She’s getting less picky on food. She’ll eat almost anything these days except most vegetables (tomatoes are still a hit) and chicken. Spaghetti and macaroni are still the favorites. Her hair has grown 6”, but because it’s corkscrew curls, it doesn’t look like that much. When it’s wet, it’s partway down her back. She loves baths with her sisters, but prefers showers alone.
She has gained 9 pounds. She is a solid 4T in the waist now, but is still tall for a 5 year old so pants are still a challenge. Thank goodness for Gap slim fit with adjustable waist! She just had her first ear infection. The rest of the house had a little cold we thought she avoided, but she must have caught it enough to have some fluid in her ears that got infected.
Saturday is the one year anniversary of Sweet Girl being officially ours in Russia! We didn’t get to pick her up for several more weeks and we didn’t get to the US until 11/18, but she was ours!

First Birthdays

If you ask Sweet Girl how old she is she will hold up 4 little fingers and proudly exclaim, “Foah!” And when you ask her how old she will be when she has a birthday, there is no hesitation with a full five fingers and her little “Fiyav!”.
Her birthday is in 2 days. She’s asking every day now how many more days until her birthday. With all the other life activities right now, we aren’t able to throw her the bash she deserves this week, but we’ve told her she’s going to get two parties. One party will just be mama, papa, Cranky and Happy on her birthday. She will get Spaghettio’s with cucumbers and strawberries on the side. Then she knows that in a couple weeks, she can have all her friends come to the new house we will have a big party! Every day she picks out different invitations and I can’t figure out what theme she really wants (So sorry to family who haven’t gotten an invitation! I need to get on that).
She is so excited. She seems to be completely overwhelmed with the thought that she is getting a party. She keeps saying, “Sweet Girl party?” and when I reply with “Yes, just for you!” her little face lights up.
Mama is a little sad. I’m mourning the day of her birth. I’m mourning the other 4 times April 4th rolled around on the calendar and there were no balloons, no cake, no favorite foods and no mama to give her hugs. It has taken 4.5 long years for my sweet little light to finally have a mama and papa who tell her every day how special she is and how loved she is. We are so blessed to be able to share this birthday with her and we pray every day we have many more to share together.
When she leans over her little cake with her name on it and blows out 5 little candles, I’m likely to have tears running down my face. I can’t always keep her safe and protect her heart, but I know for that moment in time, her world will be safe and she will feel loved.
This will be her picture of redemption.

A Tour of Vladimir, Russia

So I had the idea of putting together this post now that Sweet Girl is home and we can speak more openly about her heritage. I’ve had many people curious about where she came from and I wanted to put together a little showcase to give you a better understanding of her town and heritage, which we hope we can preserve as an important part of her.
Sweet Girl was born in a small town near Vladimir and when she was about 18 months old was transferred to the Vladimir Baby House which is where we found her.
Being the capital of the region, Vladimir is a good size city of around 300,000 (not all that much bigger than where we live in the US).  Though not a common tourist destination, Vladimir is part of the “Golden Ring” of ancient Russian cities, has several ancient cathedrals, and its heritage dates back to 900AD. In fact, the Grand Prince was crowed in Vladimir’s Assumption Cathedral up to 1200AD when this was moved to Moscow’s Kremlin and the famous Assumption Cathedral there which was loosely modeled after Vladimir’s.
Old bridge of some historical relevance, though I’m not sure what exactly. As seems to be customary in Europe, locals would affix “love padlocks” to the rails of this bridge.
McDonalds, the only familiar sign of western civilization we encountered in Vladimir. Even though most Russian’s could understand simple English and use a few broken words, we hardly ever encountered anyone to which we could carry on a conversation with in Vladimir. ATMs that would exchange money were common enough (most only in Russian), but paying with credit cards of any variety was not common and most transitions occurred in cash. This McDonald’s was one of the few places we found both credit card machines and an English picture menu.
Assumption Cathedral (1160)
The principle church during Vladimir’s reign as political capital of Russia and where the grand prince was crowned before this responsibility shifted to Moscow’s Kremlin
Back view of Assumption Cathedral.
Monument to Prince Vladimir I and Fyodor the monk in Pushkin Park.
Building of the Gubernia’s Administration (1785)
Sits between the Assumption Cathedral and St. Demetrius’ Cathedral.
Housed local administration during Soviet era.
Now home to the Art Gallery and Hall of Pre-Revolutionary Estates. Seems as though it was undergoing renovation

St. Demetrius’ Cathedral (1197)
View perched atop Vladimir vantage point overlooking the Klyazma River
Muronskaya Bridge and Klyazma River leading to Suzdal I believe.
The Northern Trade rows (aka “the mall”).

Located within walking distance of our hotel in downtown Vladimir, this supplied us with a grocery store and all the shopping necessities we needed.

Golden Gates (1163).
Located in the city center, these gates once marked the entrance to the city and were an impenetrable fortress.
More local architecture
Trinity Church (1913)
Vladimir Oblast assembly hall
I believe this is the site where the Tartar-Mongol hordes breached Vladimir’s defenses in 1238. The city has struggled to recover since then in the limelight of Moscow.
19th century water tower. Houses the Museum of “Old Vladimir”.
View of the Assumption Cathedral and Pushkin Park from afar.
What trip to Russia would be complete without your local Vodka factory?
A typical Vladimir street and city horizon
A Vladimir side street.
View from afar of what I called Vladimir’s industrial area we drove past everyday on the way to the orphanage. What you see isn’t a nuclear power plant, but rather a thermal one that produced power and steam for the town. Large steam pipes snaked their way above ground all over the town between buildings as the primary source of heat for the winter.
Entrance to Sweet Girl’s orphanage… down a narrow, rough alley between two high rise apartments adjacent to some sort of military installation. Located about a 10 minute car ride from our hotel in downtown, the orphanage was on the outskirts of town in a noticeably more poverty stricken area than the old world that surrounded us in the city center.
The main gate to the orphanage. This would be locked after 5:00. The entire orphanage grounds was surrounded by a rather creative fence built entirely from rebar.
Once inside “the compound”, the building located in the center was 2-story designed in an “H” configuration with a groupa living in each of the 4 quadrants and common area in the middle. Her  groupa lived in the far quadrant you see pictured above.
The Google earth image shows square “H” style building located in the middle of the high rise apartments. The red line shows the path we took everyday between the two buildings (pictured above) and down the alley to the orphanage. The large complex below the orphanage was some sort of military/police training grounds though I don’t know what. Vladimir is home to the 27th Guards Missile Army and the Strategic Rockets Forces, the latter commands the Soviet nuclear fleet.
The rather square “H” style building was surrounded by 4 playground areas at each of the four corners. The kids would rotate around from play area to play area with the exception of one quadrant that seemed to be overgrown and off limits (see our trip 1 report about the forbidden slide). The vibrant colors seen here were a staple throughout in insides of the orphanage perimeter.
Here is the driveway leading back out of her orphanage to the alleyway. Every morning we would get dropped off here.
View of the high rise apartments that surround the orphanage grounds and tower over them. I often describe the orphanage as an “oasis” in the middle of otherwise run down apartments that would be best described in our culture as ‘projects’.
We hope to one day go back here with Sweet Girl and let her take it all in. We tried to document our experience through pictures and videos as much as we could since we imagine she won’t remember much of it. We are thankful for this place and this staff for doing their best with what they have. Just in talking to them and seeing the grounds, the care and attention they try to give the kids is palpable. But when I see how much Sweet Girl has blossomed with just 3 months of love and focused attention, my heart breaks for the 40 other kids we left behind here and the millions of others in less friendly orphanages and on the streets around the world. No matter how great this place was, NOTHING replaces a family for a child.

To everyone who’s hurting..

(title is the first line of the lyrics of “Hold Fast”, the song this blog was named after)
My secret confession is that I dreamed that in 3 years he and I would get on a plane and make the long flight to Vladimir again. I dreamed of Vita and Ilya picking us up at the airport and driving all the way to that sweet hilltop town that gave me my daughter. I dreamed that we’d perhaps go to the baby house she spent her first 18 months at and find the last piece of our puzzle. I imagine him having dark hair and big dark eyes – maybe a little Roma in him since his own country would reject him for that. His eyes would hold the same despair with the same hint of sparkle that Sweet Girl’s did. I had selfish hopes that he’d be very young, 12 months or so, so I could cuddle a little squishy again. I tossed around names for him –  imagining what his Russian name might be. Would he be a Max? Or a Sasha? We have been so blessed with how well Sweet Girl has adapted to being loved and to being in a family that my heart ached to show this love to another child. To have the last missing piece of our hearts in our arms.
Then, on January 1, 2013, the unspeakable happened. Russia has banned US adoptions. For over 6 weeks I have cried with my friends who were in process, and those who already had little Ruski’s home about the tragedy of this decision. All those sad little eyes in all those pictures are now lost. Some of these mommies and daddies met these babies and held them in their arms. They whispered prayers for easy transitions and whispered love and hope into those little faces. They cried ugly tears at having to leaving knowing a court date could be months away. I know those ugly tears. These families are now grieving the child they have lost while simultaneously praying for a miracle. I don’t know that pain.
For other mommies and daddies it’s a different kind of pain. The looked into the eyes of a picture and dropped everything to gather the paperwork and raise the money. Some were days away from finally getting to hold these sweet babies in their arms. I know that longing. Now, they are left with pictures of a child they never got to meet.  I don’t know that pain. I mourn for them. I mourn that they won’t get to see the light glisten in their little Russian’s eyes when they know they are loved.
My dream was so far off that it almost seemed selfish to think about it when for so many others the pain was so current, so now, so fierce. I am mourning the loss of a dream, they are mourning the loss of a child. So, for 6 weeks people have said to me, “I’m so thankful you got her out because look what happened now!” I instantly imagine my brave little Russian trusting these two strangers with her whole heart. I imagine her climbing into that car with us and driving off into the dark night while the only family she’s ever known lay sleeping in their rows of beds. I still don’t know what to say. I usually mumble something about being very blessed while also mentioning the thousands of children left behind. It is impossible to celebrate her getting out while not also imaging the little faces who won’t.
I don’t even know how to advocate anymore for orphans. I know there are millions of them around the world in other countries, but my heart is still in Russia. I can’t show you pictures of these little faces and ask for help with their ransoms. I can’t encourage my friends to start this journey. I can’t scour the blogs new families travelling to our region and relive it through them. I can’t even think about the other lives affected without losing it. Our sweet Vita now has no job. Our trusty Ilya is left looking for other work rather than ferry American families around Vladimir. The people at the agencies, the people at the embassy’s, the social workers – there are so many lives and families affected.
So please don’t tell me how lucky we are. We have a sweet little red headed light who brings us so much joy, but we are grieving and mourning all the other little faces that might never come home. My friends, my sisters, are grieving the loss of their children. I am grieving the loss of the dream of my little boy. Nothing about this is lucky. Nothing about this is fair. Nothing about this feels like God’s plan.
Once you have seen, you cannot unsee.
These are pictures of some of the babies my friends are mourning right now. Please keep these families in your prayers. There are hundreds of other babies who don’t have families fighting for them either who are now lost.
and this sweet little one shares a Russian name with our sweet girl 🙂
To address some comments I’m likely to get.
– We are still fervently praying that Russia will reverse the ban. This will not be enough for the children who will die from lack of care in orphanages and age out of the system due to the time we have lost. There are also hoards of people giving up on these kids and giving up on Russia who might never go back for them
– I know there are plenty of other kids available for adoption. Once you have adopted one, then you can tell me or them to just pick another kid. Until then, let us grieve.

1 Month Home

(posted by him)
Its been 4 weeks… almost a full month… since Sweet Girl came home. This past week was the first of a new month, meaning busy time for mama at work, the first one we’ve encountered since she’s been home. As so, with the exception of Monday, the rest of the week was mine to spend with Sweet GIrl and I would say this week was slightly different than those previous… more so characterized by testing of boundaries.Monday was the only day I went to work. The act of me leaving with the twins is perhaps the most difficult thing for her to deal with. When she sees her sisters getting ready and going down to the car with papa, the tears are inevitable. She will throw her arms around my waist and beg me not to go. After prying her off, mama is left with a 30-45 minute unconsolable sobbing. We have learned that this can be eased by allowing her to get fully dressed alongside her sisters and sometimes going for a short car ride just to get out the house. While we think she is mostly upset by me leaving and not being sure when/if I’ll return, there seems to be part of her that simply wants to get out of the house.

The remainder of the week was my turn. Since the twins normally accompany me to work, on days where I don’t work, we’ve worked out the arrangement where mama leaves early and drives an hour and half out of her way to drop them off at school and in the afternoon, Sweet GIrl and I load up in the car and do the same drive to fetch her sisters. While very inconvenient for everyone, we feel it is necessary for the girls to see their friends at school and us be able to focus our attention on Sweet GIrl during the day. She does struggle the same with her mama leaving in the morning, but to a lesser degree than papa. By the time the afternoon gets here, I get several questions that infer as “where is mama?” And by the time the afternoon gets here, she is very excited and rides very well to go get her sisters. She becomes instantly excited when we pull up to their school but is still very shy inside around all their friends and teachers. On the ride home, since she sits forward facing in between her two sisters who are still rear facing, she’s constantly talking to them and passing things to them. When we finally get home, there is a made dash of children excited to see their mama… Cranky is now competing with Sweet Girl on who gets to be held/hugged until the table is set for dinner.

I started this post off with this week was different, characterized by more testing of boundaries, and that has come in the form of sleep. This week, I have instantly become unsuccessful in getting her to take her afternoon nap. We’ll get changed into our pj’s and into the bed and I’ll settle down on the floor of her room like I always do, but she now instantly tries to sit up/stand up, talk, and whatever else to remain awake. When I lay her back down and place the covers over her, she becomes upset and latches on with a tight bear hug. Breaking this bear hug causes instant sobbing. No longer will remaining in her room within line of sight eventually result into napping. We sat in total darkness for over an hour sobbing before eventually giving up. We haven’t been too worried as at 4.5yrs old, she is really at an age where naps are becoming optional, and since we’ve spent so much time in the car, she usually gets a solid 45 minutes there anyway, but she was such a good napper just a week ago, its like the switch just flipped. But this may also do with her attachment to papa, as mama was able to make her nap this weekend where I haven’t been. But her bedtime routine has also suffered from more sobbing and extended time trying to get to sleep, but mama is always able to work her magic and once asleep, she has remained pretty steady in staying asleep until around 7:00am, so for that, we are thankful.

We also concentrated on having our 2nd and 3rd sessions with our student translator. The first visit was characterized by head down, almost sobbing, these recent visits she has become accustomed to him in the room where she will play and resume her normal business largely ignoring him. But while she doesn’t typically respond, she does understand and acknowledge what he says to her. Also, he’s been able to catch some of her chatter and while not in direct response to his questions, he is able to understand most of what she is saying. One misconception I’ve witnessed is just putting someone who speaks and understands Russian in front of her, doesn’t immediately establish communication. Just like with any unfamiliar English speaking person, she is shy, reserved, and closed off first… just because they know her language, doesn’t change her reaction to new people. However, I’ve found if we’re able to spend time and take the focus away from her, she’ll eventually start to open up. But we feel no one outside our home gets to witness her true rambunctious, chatty nature that we experience every night… but this will only come with time.

As for everything else, our expectations are exceeded on a daily basis. She has become completely comfortable with Cranky and Happy and we have not had a single fallout between them as I was prepared for. She loves to do things for her sisters, hand them their bottles, help with bath time, even tries to instruct them to do things in Russian. Happy loves having someone to chase around and Cranky remains fascinated by what her big sister is up to. Bath time continues to be an all time favorite and potty time is no trouble. Eating continues to be hit or miss depending on the food choices, but largely we have no problem getting food into her. We’ve had no more breakdowns over communication or lack of understanding each other for several weeks now. She’s picked up a handful of English words, even used her first English word “hot” in context last week. She is also intrigued by learning the alphabet and the alphabet song and will sing and pronounce the letters along with her various toys that do so. Her favorite letters are the beginning of her name “C” and “A” and she struggles the most with “W”. Perhaps what I’m most amazed with is her ability to soak of new things so easily. She only needs to see you try something once before she’s repeating it, and thats without language involved. It just further reiterates how amazing and smart she is and only needs to be given the opportunity and she will flourish.

Journey Home (Trip 4, Day 7)

On Sunday, after our marathon sightseeing Saturday, we got up and had breakfast while we waited for Boris to come pick us up. We had a few logistical issues fitting the luggage in the car, but we finally got to the airport with plenty of time to spare. Through all this adoption travel, we made “status” on Delta and got to bypass the hour line to check in and went to the express desk. No issues checking in and no issues going through passport control. She is petrified and crying in this picture because she thought Mama and Papa were leaving and she was staying with Boris and Irina.
It took a few minutes for the KGB (okay, they aren’t KGB, but I don’t know what they call their passport people and KGB sounds fun  🙂 ) to approve all the paperwork. We were travelling with some medications for Sweet Girl and we had no issues on that end getting them through for others who might be in the same boat.
We sat at a little coffee shop and had our last meal in Sweet Girl’s home soil. She gobbled it right up. Good thing too because two cokes, a water and 2 apple danishes cost me $20.
We went on a last minute trip to the “toy-o-let”, looked at the planes out the window and then we were boarding!
So far so good!
Then the fun began. She didn’t mind the plane at all, but she was too overwhelmed to sleep. She knew that as soon as she said “toy-o-let” that we’d let her get up and walk to the bathroom. So about every 20 minutes she’d do this. Then about every hour after the first 3 hours, she’d get upset and start repeating something. One time, I took her to the back and tried to get her to say it for the flight attendant, but she just conned them into giving her a juice. (I have learned since then, she was saying something like “I want to get up”)
Overall, on the 9.5 hours flight, she drank an entire milk, 2 cans of orange juice, 2 cans of apple juice and an entire bottle of water. She ate the carrots in her salad and half of her bread. Then she ate tomatoes off a sandwich and the little snack size candy bar that came with it. And lastly, she ate an entire bag of trail mix. She refused to watch a movie, cartoons, the ipad, or anything that might give either He or I two seconds of peace. She constantly tried to stand up and kick the seat of the guy in front of her. All of her behaviors were normal 4 year old things or testing boundaries things. We were firm and consistent on some things (kicking the seat) but tried to be very relaxed on others (bathroom every 20 minutes). At about halfway He and I looked at each other and I think we were both thinking that we wouldn’t be taking another plane trip anytime soon.
FINALLY, we landed in JFK. The landing immediately made Sweet Girl a US Citizen. She celebrated by choosing that moment to lean over and fall asleep. Perhaps, somehow she knew – this long road is finally done, now I can enjoy the fruits of my labor 🙂

We went through US Customs and Immigration with no issues whatsoever, they didn’t even take us to a secondary screening! He just flipped through the pages of the sealed envelope and said, “Welcome to America, you’re done!” US security was no problem with the medications either and we were on our way!

We found a nice little corner spot to wait the 30 minutes for our next flight where Sweet Girl could look out the windows at the planes and run around a little bit. The minute we boarded that plane, she gave up very quickly again and went to sleep and didn’t wake up until we landed in RDU.

She was very impressed with Mama and Papa’s machina and her seat. She had no problems getting buckled. She stayed awake until we made a quick drive through stop (which she was facinated with!) and then fell asleep with her juicebox in her hands.

Once we got home, we made her a little pallet on the floor of our room and we all slept perfectly soundly…
.. until 3am when she was bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready for the day. ::YAWN::

 

Sightseeing!! (Trip 4, Day 6)

We woke this morning to the doorbell ringing at 9:30am. While excited that we all slept that late, we then realized we had miscommunication with Boris. He thought we were leaving today, but we are leaving tomorrow. Sorry Boris.
We had another slow start and left about noon to head down to St. Basil’s and the Kremlin. We stopped at a mall food court for lunch and sweet girl pointed that she wanted spaghetti and a meatball. She did pretty good eating! Once again though, she was most excited for our friend’s cherry crepe.
We went to St. Basil’s and took the obligatory adoption pictures. Our friend took some other pictures on her camera we don’t have yet.
  
Then we were off to the Kremlin!  We were excited to see the Cathedral of Assumption which is modeled after a Cathedral in Sweet Girl’s region.
Our friends split off and were going to the theater tonight and we headed back home with a stop at Wendy’s for dinner. No, we don’t normally eat fast food at every meal, but when we don’t want to sit for a long time and pay a lot for a meal, it’s easy to point at the menu and know what we are eating! We tried a baked potato and chili for Sweet Girl. Those got a nyet, but she was happy with the Frosty and some Cheddar Bunnies.
 

A long bath and sweet bed time cuddles and her day was done! She did fantastic today even though we skipped her nap time for St. Basil’s. He and I have spent the last couple hours trying to put the luggage puzzle back together. Boris should hopefully be here to get us at 9:30 am. Our flight leaves here at 1pm here time and we will hopefully be home before too late EST tomorrow! We are hoping for a nice calm week where we can settle in, learn our new normal and start making good memories!

 

We have won the kid lottery. This Sweet Child is the most precious thing in the world. She is so so smart and so precious. I already can’t picture my future without her. She is kind and generous. She is loving and thoughtful. She is stubborn and independent. Her untamable hair makes me smile every time I attempt to tame it. Our three girls are our light and we are so thankful and so blessed that God saw fit to allow us to parent them in this broken world.

Out and About! (Trip 4, Day 5)

We got a little late start to the morning since we all slept in a little bit! We had nothing on the schedule all day so we did a few tourist activities. We started at a little cafe so our friends could grab lunch. We ordered Sweet Girl a fresh squeezed apple juice. We got some sort of beef quesadilla thing. She drank her entire apple juice before the waiter even left the table, but she wanted nothing to do with our food! She did scarf down the left over pasta and salmon that our friend shared with her!

Then we saw some super cool tow trucks. They anchor to the ground and then have a boom that swivels and lifts the cars up. This car was parked in the middle of the sidewalk.
We took a quick trip down Old Arbat Street and then came back to the apartment to wait for this little beauty! Yay! Every bit of official business is done!!

We headed back out to Old Arbat (which is super close to our apartment) and went to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner. The waiter asked Sweet Girl what she wanted to eat and read her the children’s menu. She picked a cheeseburger. We had tried this at McD’s, but thought maybe she just had picky burger tastes. It came and she ate a few french fries and her orange slices. She also ate our friends mashed potatoes. When we got back to the room she had cheerios and grapes to round it out.

We had an uneventful bedtime routine and then the adults stayed up way too late!