Tell me what it is you want to do with your one wild and precious life? -mary oliver

Monday, May 30, 2011

And She LIVES Happily Ever After

In a far, far away land, this little girl was hidden away because she looks different.  But, a family saw her and climbed mountain after mountain until they reached her city.  There, they climbed more mountains until the day came when she walked out of the orphanage, holding her father's hand.

After spending 24 hours traveling, we arrived in the United States of America Saturday evening, and spent Sunday catching up on sleep. 

Today, Sarah met her sister,

her brother,
her grandmas'

And her entire family, waiting to shower love on this little girl.
And, so Sarah LIVES happily ever after, with her family, friends, and all who recognize that she is worthy of love.

And she will shower love in return to anyone she meets.
Sarah's adoption fairytale has come to an end.  The last chapter has been written and finalized.  But, the story of her life is being written every moment and will continue to be shared in this space.  I began this blog as a tool to celebrate our family, long before we began our process to adopt, and it will continue to be a space to celebrate Sarah, Austin, and Addy. 
Andy, I'm sure will add with his visual aids.
Sarah's story has made a difference in so many lives, and her story will continue with every new adventure that unfolds.

There are two ways to live:  you can live as if nothing is a miracle; 
or you can live as if everything is a miracle.  
Albert Einstein

Our family is living life as if everything is a miracle, because it truly is.

Friday, May 27, 2011

My Day of Firsts

My very own jammies and my first train ride.
The marks on her forehead are from her latest face-plant while chasing after the cats!!

 All dolled up in my new duds to show my 
fabulousness to the world!
serious bedhead:)
 Even I cannot believe how spankin adorable I look.  I have to check myself out in the mirror!
Only I could achieve this level of beautification a mere 10 hours away from previous establishment.
While mom was away, I was a perfect angel for my dad. (You know, I have him wrapped around my finger:)
As soon as Mama shows up, the new lavender lotion she had was too tempting.  I opened it up, and squeezed half a bottle all over myself, the couch, and her smartphone. 
(Mama told me she wanted a new phone, so I did what I could to help out.  
HELPING is my specialty.)

Walking in the city and my first piece of pizza.
I'm not sure Papa is going to make it up these stroller ramps.  Our stroller isn't wide enough:(

I'm discovering everything.

I can't figure out these sippy cups and straw things.  Just give me an open cup.  It may spill everywhere, but at least I can drink it!
Figuring out how to sleep in a bed is going to be challenging.  I'm a mover and shaker at night.
 I'm going to be following in my daddy's footsteps and become a techie.
I'm Lovin' It with my first Happy Meal.
 Not sure what these are but they're pretty tasty.  I even shared them with a stranger today.

I've only begun to watch in awe the life that I will have with my family.  I'm already in bed, and will be waking up pretty early to fly home to meet my sister and brother. I can hardly wait for my first trip to Target!! 
My friend, Josie, tells me it's like a trip to Disneyland!!

I'll leave the packing to my parents.  

Paka, Sarah

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Sound of the Gate

The gate at Sarah's orphanage bangs loudly when it’s closed. It's a resounding reminder to all on both sides of the fence just which side you’re on.

I’ve heard the sound from both sides. I was privileged to hear the sound from the inside as we’ve entered the orphanage to visit Sarah each day these past six weeks.  And I heard the sound from the outside as we left at the end of each visit, already anxiously awaiting the next moments we’d be able to spend together.

Sarah had only heard the sound of the gate from the inside. For her entire 3-1/2 year life, it served only to remind her that she had been set apart from the rest of the world.

Until last night…

Last night, May 25, 2011 around 9:45 pm local time Sarah heard the sound of the gate for the last time. And she heard it from the outside. The gate no longer keeps her inside the orphanage, it keeps her out.  Last night the sound ushered her into a whole new world.

A world with a mama…
…and a papa.
…and a sister and a brother.
…and grandparents, cousins, aunts & uncles.
…and McDonalds Happy Meals, and Buddy Walks, and swimming pools,  and camping trips, and a list of opportunities that she can’t even begin to imagine.
A family. Forever.

One overnight train ride later we're back in the capital city today to visit the US Embassy to complete the last steps before heading for home. Shelly's flight arrived here a few hours ago, and the three of us are back together again. And we're hoping to be back in the US as a family of five by the beginning of next week.

Thanks again to all of you who are sharing this journey with us.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Her Face

A smile is a window on your face to show your heart is at home.

From our first moment together, I saw Sarah's expressiveness, her excitement, and enthusiasm in her face.  She has so many faces, and you know exactly what she is feeling or thinking by one glimpse.  While she showed few smiles the first few days, her curiosity showed through.  As our visits and time became constant and reliable, she knew we were her family.  The ones she can depend on.  Who bring the same backpack of toys and books.   

She had her own routine, once we walked through the doors.  Put on her outside clothes, motion for us to get our bags, take my hand, and walk down the stairs outside.  From there, it was a mad chase to the animals, and then a place to read. 

 Her face is Beautiful. 

 Her Curious Face

Her Learning Face

Her Laughing Face
The Most Precious Face:  Where she knows she is loved

And tomorrow, I will be flying across the ocean to bring Sarah and Andy home.  And Sarah will soon see how much she is loved by her family and our friends.
She is loved!!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Tech Tips for World Travelers

Shelly may have mentioned that no one prepares technologically for a trip quite like I do. So I thought I would share a couple tips here based on my experience.

Adapters vs. Converters - Adapters are great. Adapters allow you to plug a device with a standard US plug into an outlet in a foreign country. And you'll find that many of the items you'll want to plug in (laptop power supplies, battery chargers, etc) will only require an adapter. They're already built to use the different power found here in Eastern Europe (220V~,  50 Hz). Look for a label on the device that lists its power requirements. Most will say something like "Input: 100-240V~, 50/60Hz". When you see that, you know an adapter is all you need. I bought a few adapters from Amazon that have worked well for us. 

We've also used a surge protector/power strip with six universal outlets that plugs directly into an Eastern European outlet. This eliminates the need for separate adapters, helps with the limited number and inconvenient location of outlets in some apartments, and provides a minimal amount of protection against surges and other power irregularities.

Converters, on the other hand, are a real pain. In my experience, they're unreliable and inconvenient. If you're planning to take an electrical device from home that won't work with Eastern European power (hair dryer, curling iron, coffee pot, anything with a heating element to name a few), you're typically better off to leave that item at home and buy the EE version when you get here. Most of those items are relatively inexpensive, easy to find and will work nuch better than your American version with a voltage converter.

Travel WiFi Router - depending on where you are, WiFi may be relatively easy to find in local restaurants, shopping centers, hotel lobbies, etc. But WiFi in individual apartments or hotel rooms may be hard to find. Wired high-speed internet connections may be available, but the "wired" location may not be convenient or you may want to be able to connect more than one device to the internet at a time. Or you may have an iPad or other device that requires WiFi and won't work with a wired connection. In any of those cases, you may want your own wireless router. I've had great success with our TRENDnet TEW-654TR. It's specifically designed for travel so it's small, lightweight, and easy to use. Set it up at home before you leave, and it will be ready to "plug and play" when you reach your destination.

In future installments of "Tech Tips", I'll share with you more about security, Skype, and maybe even water purification. Don't hesitate to send questions or comments, as I'm always happy to help when I can.
One day soon, we'll be busting out of this place! At least Sarah and I will be... собака (dog) is on her own.

As of Saturday afternoon, it appears that our court decree will become effective this Tuesday and I'll be able to start the rest of the paper-chase that afternoon. We're still not sure of the exact timing due to uncertainty about how long it may take to get her passport and closure of the US Embassy for the Memorial Day holiday. But at least it appears we're in the home stretch.

We thank you again for all of your thoughts and prayers as we work to complete this part of the journey and head for home. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!


Friday, May 20, 2011

Home Sweet Home

After traveling for 29 hours, I arrived home around 11pm EST Tuesday evening.  The trip was uneventful until Washington D.C.  All flights were grounded for over two hours due to thunderstorms and lightning.  What was to be a four hour layover, doubled by the time I left.  Once I walked through security, Addy and Austin were waiting for me, and what a sight to behold.  All the while commenting, "We've never stayed up this late on a school night!"  Thankfully, my mother drove down earlier that evening and stayed for a couple days!

Wednesday evening, we had a belated birthday cake for Austin.  He had some difficulty blowing out all his candles in between his laughter.

Andy and I bought Eastern European hats for the kids and they look adorable!  Today was hat day at school and great timing!

My last day at the orphanage was emotional, which we all knew would be.  I used google translate to write a note to the caretakers in cyrillic.  They did not know Sarah would be going to America and the news spread through both groupas.  The caretaker from another room said,"Sarah, America?"  I said yes and she wrote down her email address for me to send her pictures.  I was even able to get a picture of Sarah and Elena, the one who put crackers in her pocket and always gave her a kiss.

 Wednesday, Austin found a leak in our library that turned into a "thing!"  Carpeting, roof, drywall, shutters, bookshelf:  all ruined.  I've had "guys" come to begin drying the inside and "band-aiding" the roof until Andy can come home and see what all is going on.  Another bump in this long road.

On the adoption front:  We are still unable to get any answers regarding finishing the process and the timeline.  No one is confirming the original timeline we've been given, nor when we can begin the final paperwork.

Our family needs to be together, all of us, all five.  We've waited long enough.

Please continue to pray for our process and that we'll be able to complete it soon. And that we'll all be home together.