Not my will, but your's be done.



Thursday, April 28, 2011

Great visits!

Well I finally got to visit the kids today!  While I did get to see them yesterday when we took them to get their passports done, it wasn't the same as getting to spend some semi-alone time getting to play with them.  So I was very glad to get to visit with them!

I went to the baby house in the morning(Danil and Josslyn's orphanage) and the children's home(Parker's orphanage) in the afternoon.  When I got to the baby house I went and got Josslyn from her groupa room.  Three of her group members were sitting in the front part of her groupa room doing pre-school.  One little girl started yelling, "Lena mama! Lena mama!" when she saw me.  Now that they know that I'm Josslyn's mama, they love to announce my arrival.  She then asked me where Lena's papa was.  I said, "Americana dom".  She nodded her head, throughly satisfied that we had communicated.  The kids in Josslyn's group try to talk to me all the time, but I never know what they are saying.  This little girl was glad that I finally understood what she was asking, and that she understood my reply.  Another little girl at the table got up and showed me her dress.  They love strangers.  Especially mamas.

Josslyn was thrilled to see me, like always.  I love seeing her so happy to see me.  Makes me feel like I must be doing SOMETHING right. 


After I got Josslyn we went to try to get Danil.  His groupa was not in their room, so Josslyn and I went outside to find them.  When I found them, they were having music class outside.(It has been perfect weather since we have been here for this second trip.  My husband would translate me saying "perfect weather" to mean "very hot" to him.  I've been loving the weather this time though.)  Anyway, I didn't want to interrupt the music class and I didn't want to take Danil away from his absolute favorite activity of the day, so we just left him with his group.

Josslyn and I wandered around outside on the orphanage grounds.  Spring has finally arrived here, after a very long winter.  There are many apricot trees in this area and they are in full bloom.  It is a beautiful sight to see all the trees covered in their white blooms.  It was a breezy day, so the wind was blowing some of the petals off of the apricot blooms.  It looked like white rain and Josslyn loved it.  She ran around gathering petals and putting them in my hands one and two at a time.  Then the wind would blow again and she would gasp and starting running around collecting petals again.  It was precious.

Picking up petals.

Watching the white rain.

After Danil's music class ended, we went over to his group to get him to play with us.  As soon as he saw Josslyn and I walking up he smiled big!  Then he turned around and started telling everyone in his group bye!  I was laughing!  He was ready to hit the road with us.  We found a play thing that had a slide and he climbed up the ladder and slid down the slide about 9000 times.  That boy has endless energy.

Climbing the ladder.

Needin' a hair cut. 
That boys got him a Beatles hair do going on there.

My only brown eyed kid. 
I've been hoping for one of those for years now.

Visiting with Danil went really well.  I guess since we were outside, therefore he COULD yell, he no longer felt the need to do so.  Hum.  He is trying to use more and more english words.  He will try to repeat alot of what I ask him to do.  Especially when it is realated to food!  Yesterday, Roman thought the kids might be hungry, so while we were waiting in the car at the passport place, he got out one of his mama's famous sandwiches.  Danil immediately started signing, "more, please" and saying, "MORE!" in english.  It has been a week and a half since I had seen him, yet he remembered without me having to remind him!  I was impressed!  I am constantly amazed at how smart that boy is.

So, my visit with the little ones went really really great.  I had the best time playing with them, and our visit just flew by.

This afternoon I visited Parker.  When they brought him too me he didn't look extremely thrilled to see me, but he wasn't crying, so that was an improvement from the day before.  I took him outside to play.  I tried to interact with him, but he wasn't interested.  He started picking flowers and he showed them to me.  I praised him and said how pretty they were.  He immediately ripped them to shreads and threw them on the ground.  Then he looked up at my for my reaction. 
I bent over.  Picked a flower.  And then ripped it to shreads and dropped in on the ground. Then I picked another one and handed it to Parker. 
His eyes widened a bit.  Then he moved on to a different activity, a bit disappointed that he hadn't flustered me.  I'm a mom of six.  It takes a little more than crushing a flower to fluster me these days.  Plus, if I acted like it bothered me then he just would have made him want to do it more.  So I guess I employed a little bit of reverse psychology.  It worked though.  No more innocent flowers were killed by the wrath of an angry and confussed 5 year old boy.

Picking flowers.

He was intently trying to balance all the see saws in the air.
He did it.  That boy is tenacious.

 A little while later, and older boy that Josh and I made friends with on our last trip saw me and came over.  I just LOVE this kid.  He was so glad to see me and said, "Hello, Jessica!!" in english.  He asked about Josh and was sad that he didn't come too.  He is amazing with the little kids, and Parker is no exception.  Here they are having a little chat.
He knows some english, so we can communicate some.  He also helps me with my Russian.  He also tells Parker things I am trying to say.  He is very very helpful and just an all around pleasent kid.  If he were available for adoption we would head back over here and get Luke an older brother in a heartbeat!  But alas, he is not...... *sigh*


After a while, Parker wanted to head inside....so I followed.
For awhile he sat quietly, eating the cookies and playing with the toys I brought him.  One of the toys he was playing with was a baby Einstein toy that my sister-in-law loaned me to bring on my trip.  She knew that the kids preferred electronic toys, since they don't have any in the orphanage, so she let me borrow a couple of hers.  The toy Parker was playing with said, "Yellow, blue, and red" in english, french and spanish.  I had it set on english.  Parker was kind of absent-mindedly playing with it, and it said, "yellow".  He repeated "yellow" in near perfect english.  I got all excited and started trying to exlain to him what yellow was.  I started pointing out all kinds of things that were yellow.  He started joining in, but he didn't say yellow again.  I think he realized that he let some english slip and was not going to let that happen again.  After a while we changed to red, then finally to blue.  Parker was loving our game!  I was having a great time too, because he was choosing to play with me and talk to me, AND he was laughing and having a great time doing it!  He told me the colors in Russian and I said it.  He liked that.  When he found something that was the color blue while I was looking the other way, he yelled, "Blue, mama!!"(He said blue in Russian, of course.)  We had an great time and I left feeling like we had a major break through.  I know it it going to be slow going with him, but my visit with him today gave me alot of hope for the future.

Pre-color game

During our game.

It is after mid-night here, so I really need to get to bed, but I have one last picture just for Josh.  He will know EXACTLY what Danil is doing in this picture....

Night, ya'll!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I'm back....online

I don't even really know how to start this post, so I'm just going to take the easy route and give you a run down of what I've been up to.  Just a warning: This blog post will not be mostly borning, not well written, full of typos(I have a sleeping baby in my lap and no desire to proof read), un-witty(that's probably not a word, but refer back to when I said that this would not be well-written), and over all just a list of what I've been doing everyday.  I'm sure that tomorrow's blog post will be better, if you rather just save your time and hold out for that(then again, there are no guarantees that it will be better).  Here goes.

Saturday: To start the day off on a great note, Kellen woke up with over 102 temperature.  Nice.  Not exactly what you want to see when you are about to take you kid out of the country.  After a little bit of thinking it over, Josh and I decided that he was still better off going with me to EE than he was staying home sick and without his mama.  I MUCH rather have my sick baby with me, rather than away from me.  Our only concern was what if he got really sick in a foreign country. We decided the odds of him being really sick were slim, and it was best for me to just take him(best for him and for me).  Most fever related things that my children get are viral, so those type of things just have to run their course anyway.  Infact, Ray's bladder issue is the first illness that has called for anti-biotics in any of my children.  I know that might sound crazy to some, but honest to goodness, Ray is the only one of my children who have ever had/needed anti-biotics.  So, we thought the chance of Kellen needing medications were pretty slim and the best bet was to just take him with us so that he could be with me.  Doesn't ever child want their mama when their sick?  Infact, when I had pneumonia a few months ago, who do you think I called when I started feeling really bad? Yep.  My mama.

We got to the airport 2 hours before our flight.  The line to check-in with our airline was looooooong.  Knowing that after we checked in, we still had to make it through security, and then find our gate, the odds of us making our flight started dwindling.  The check-in line was sloooow moving.  After about 20 minutes I wondered if we would have even had the chance to check our bags before our flight departed.  45 minutes before our flight was to start boarding, there were still about 15 people ahead of us in the check-in line.  I was pretty much thinking that we were down for the count.  Then all of the sudden it was our turn.  I don't even know how the line moved to fast, but it did.  We got our boarding passes and booked it to security.  The line was longish there too, so I was still having my doubts that we were going to make it.  But things went swifting there too and before we knew it we were through security.  With ten minutes to spare, we rushed to our gate, which luckily wasn't too far away, and even had time for a super quick pit stop before we boarded.  We made it! Whew!

We were very blessed to get a one-stop flight this time, so we flew straight to Germany.  Since Kellen wasn't feeling well, he slept the majority of the time and did very well the little bit of the time that he was awake.  We had a very short lay over in Germany.  The Frankfort airport is huge and German security is tighter than the US(no kidding).  We arrived at our gate only a few minutes before our flight boarded, but at least we made it.  Kellen slept the majority of our second flight too.  By this time I could tell that he felt really rotten. He hadn't eaten anything in I don't know how long(that time change thing really messes me up), and he was burning up.  I was giving him fever reducer every six hours because he was on fire, but it wasn't lowering his fever all that much.

Sunday:  We arrived in country.  Nico, our driver, was waiting for us.  We changed some money and headed for our apartment.  When we got to our apartment we had to leave some of our bags with Nico because our apartment was on the 5th floor and the building had no elevators.  Nico made some kind of comment about it being a soviet building, therefore it had no elevators.  Who knew there was a corolation? 

Anyway.  The apartment was old.  Definitely built during soviet times.  But it was clean and it had a bed, and that was all that mattered to me.  It also had internet, but I was too tired to really care.  I was too tired to do anything but send a quick email to Josh and update my facebook status.  Kellen, after sleeping all day/night(once again, the time change thing throws me off), he still slept all night at the apartment.  Sick baby.

Monday:  Nico was there, bright and early at 6am to get us for the train.  Kellen slept for almost the whole train ride.  My mom slept alot too.  While they slept, I worried.  I had a long laundry list of things that I was worrying about.  Some where around hour 3 of the train ride, I decided that I needed to stop worrying and start figuring out a game plan.  I went through my worries one by one.  I devised a game plan for each of them, so I wouldn't worry so much.  The worries that were "un-fixable" I made myself choose to quit worrying about them, since they were out of my control.

All that thinking made me tired, so I slept off and on the rest of the train ride.  When we arrived in the region, Roman was there to meet us at the train station.  I just love Roman and was so glad to see him again.  Roman brought us to our apartment.  It is in the same building we were in last time we were here.  Very nice and very convenient.

Kellen slept the rest of the day....and night.  My mom and I napped some and then I showed her around the mall that is attached to our building.  There is supermarket in the mall, so we got some groceries, cooked, and ate supper.  When we got to the apartment, I tried to connect to the internet, but I couldn't.  I thought that I would give it some time instead of bugging Marina(our in region facilitator) right off the bat.  We never got the internet working though.

Tuesday:  Roman picked me up at 7:30am.  We then went and got Marina, and then proceeded to run around like crazy ALL DAY.  I didn't get back to the apartment until 6:30pm.  We got alot done though, so it was worth it. 

Normally, parents are able to get all the paperwork to begin the processing of their adopted child's passport, in one day.  We are adopting 3, so that makes more of all the paperwork.  Plus, my kids are in two different orphanages, which makes for more paperwork.  Plus, Josslyn was born in a different city, which makes for more paperwork.  All that to say, it was a given that it was going to take us more than one day to do all the paperwork to get my kids passport processing. 

One of the thing we had to do was pick up some paperwork from Josslyn and Danil's orphanage.  Every little item of paperwork takes forever to prepare because their book keeping is all done by hand.  While we were waiting for the papers to be ready, I could hear some children in the hallway.  I had not seen any of my kids yet and I was dying to see Danil and Josslyn since I was right there in their orphanage!  I knew that we were in a big rush and on a very tight schedule, so I was trying to be patient.  When I heard the children in the hall I wanted to peek my head out so bad, but I refrained.  Then I heard someone say Josslyn's name!  I just couldn't resist!  I peeeeeeked my head out of the door and I could see Josslyn's groupa coming down the stairs at the far end of the hall.  I couldn't see Josslyn though.

Then I saw her!  She was bringing up the rear of her group.  She was making her way down the stairs while peering over the railing to see what those ahead of her were doing.  I was SO torn.  I wanted to run and snatch her up, but I didn't want to disrupt the group headed out to the playground, so I just kept peeking around the door at her.  But she saw me.  Despite the week and a half time lapse, since I saw her last, and the fact that she could only see part of my face peeking around the door at the end of a long hallway, she recongnized me anyway.  Her face when she saw me was priceless.  I will NEVER forget it.  Her jaw dropped a mile and she let out an audible gasp.  She looked like she couldn't believe her eyes.  I couldn't resist any longer and stepped into the hallway so that she could see that it was really me.  She quickly stepped down the last few steps and started running towards me.  She ran straight into my arms and held on for dear life.  The whole time the nanny was yelling at her(rather harshly).  The nanny couldn't see me, so she had no idea why Josslyn had decided to bolt.  The nanny did not look happy with me, so I carried her back to her group, smothering her in kisses the whole time.  She didn't want me to put her down, but she relented and obeyed her nanny.  As I walked back to the offfice I could hear her yelling to all her friend's that her mama was there.  Priceless.  I just could not stop smiling after that. 

Kellen slept all day and ran high fever.

Wednesday....wait, that's today, right?? 
Roman picked me up at 8am and we went non-stop until 5:00pm.  Not as bad as yesterday, but still very tiring.  The major pluses of the day were 1. we did all the necessary paperwork to get the kids passport processing(takes 4 business days to process the passports), 2. I got to see all the kids!  Infact, today was a day of several firsts.  I not only got the see all three of the kids together for the first time, but I also got to take them outside of the orphanage for the first time.  Both went well. 

Parker and Danil's reaction to seeing me were not quite as positive as Josslyn's though.  Parker burst in to tears and said he wanted to go back to his group.  Nice.  And Danil just kinda acted like he didn't care either way.  Better than Parker, so I'm not complaining. 

While Parker was upset to see me, Marina calmed him down.  The language is the barrier with us and Parker.  He responds well to everyone who speaks to him in Russian.  Not so much so with English.  Infact, he rejects English all together.  Roman told him, in Russian, "When you are with your new mama and papa and you are thirsty and want a drink, all you have to do is say, 'drink'".  Parker said, "I can't remember that."  Roman said, "It is easy.  All you have to say is 'drink'".  Parker emphatically replied, "I CAN'T remember that."  Marina said tha the is very verbal for his age, so the language thing is what is causing the barrier between him and us.

We brought Danil and Josslyn back to their orphanage first.  Parker perked up big time when we pulled up at the orphanage.  That was his home, up until a couple of months ago when he was transferred to the older kids orphanage.  When I got back to the car Roman told me that Parker likes that place very much.  He told Roman, "This was my best.  I had many friends when I was here."  Roman told me that Parker misses that place very much.  I was so sad for him.  So many life changes for such a young boy.

Kellen is much better today.  He did sleep most of the day, but his fever finally broke and he is done with that, which is a relief.  I am so glad that my mom was here and I could leave with him her the past few days. Even if he had not been sick, it would not have been good for him to be with me the past two days.  We spent alot of time sitting and waiting in various offices.  Not a good environment for a 14 month old.

Tomorrow, I get to actually visit with the kids.  Danil and Josslyn in the morning and Parker in the afternoon.

I just might take a few pictures and post them too.  I guess I failed to mention, that the internet wasn't working until now, so that is why I haven't blogged or emailed anyone until now.   Oh, well.  Now you know.  It is very late here, so I'm going to go for tonight.  If I still have internet tommorrow, then I'll blog again....

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What we've been up to


Monday:  Went to the beach with my sister-in-law and her kids(aka: my nephews). 
I have alot of nephews, but these are my J3 nephews(Jagger, Judson, and Jack). 
The weather was great and the kids had a great time, which translate into us moms having a great time too.

 I'm thinking.....

Building a sand castle

Ray and Jagger
We call those two, "the twins". 
They are 16 days apart and if I wasn't there when Ray was born,
I would swear that those two were twins separated at birth.

Wednesay:  Lunch at our friend's house.
It was so good to spend some time with a good friend. 

Ray and her sweet friend, Emmalyn, dressin' up.

All the kiddos on the couch. 
I think Emmalyn looked unhappy because she was trying to watch a movie and we were interruping her. 
That girl is a card!

The boys.  Kellen and Jude.

Thursday:  Around noon today I was writing my to-do list of the things I need to get done before I leave on Saturday(oh yeah.  I'm leaving on Saturday.  Forgot to say that earlier.)
Anyway,  two of the things on my list were, 1. get new money, and 2. get some papers notarized.
As I was writing my list it hit me that tomorrow is good Friday.  Therefore, no one will be open to notarize papers, and no credit unions will be open to withdrawl/trade money.
I'll keep it short and say that God is good and I was able to get all the good bills I need AND get my papers notarized.

One of the traditions around the Carlin house is "Family Night".  For family night we either pop popcorn(on the stove, all old-timey like) and watch a movie.  Fridays when Josh isn't working at night is our usual time to have family night.  But since tomorrow we are having an Extended Family Night, we had our little family night tonight.

Josh, Luke and Ray
Kellen was already in bed by the time I took the picture.  It is hard to believe that our family will have grown by THREE the next time we have a family night.  I can't totally wrap my mind around that yet.  I'm not quite sure what Luke or Ray is doing in this picture, but anyway....

So.  That's a little bit of what we've been up to this week. 

I'll post more about my traveling details tomorrow.



Sunday, April 17, 2011

We're Home!

We made it home!  Our travels home went smoothly, except for the minor bump of our luggage staying in Chicago when we flew to Houston.  We got it back the next day though, so that wasn't too bad.  Kellen was a champ!  I'm beginning to think that boy was made for international travel.  I couldn't have asked for anything more out of him on our trip home.

We landed on American soil a little before 8pm on Thursday evening.  Our next flight(to Houston) left at 9:10pm so we knew that we had to book it make it.  We got our bags and got through customs smoothly.  Then we re-checked them and started on the journey for our gate.  O'Hare is a BIG airport.  Since it was after 8pm at this point, alot of the security checkpoints had closed, so we kept getting delayed trying to get through security so that we could get to our gate.  We were running(and I mean that quite literally) all over the place trying to make our flight.  I consider myself a pretty fit person, but I thought I was going to have a heart attack.  Kellen isn't exactly a lightweight, and neither was mine and his carry on.  I felt like a pack mule that had somehow gotten thrown into the Kentucky Derby.  Whew!  Praise the Lord that our flight ended up being delayed, or else we wouldn't have made it.  We did though.

We arrived in Houston a little after midnight and after filing the lost baggage claim, we were headed to my sister's house.  My brother in law, Stephen, is a saint for picking us up so late when he has work the next day.  When we got to my sister's house I immediately woke the kids up.  I just couldn't resist.  They were really happy to see us, and went right back to sleep, so no harm done.

Even though our bodies were still on Eastern European time, so it should have been day time to us, we were exhausted from travel and were able to go right to bed.  Since it was 3am before we got to bed, we were tired the next day, so it was easy to get back on schedule.

Friday morning, Kellen ended up sleeping the latest.  When he woke up, Luke and Ray ran in to the bedroom, yelling, "KK!!!"  He was so happy to see them!  They all gave each other big hugs.  It was one of the moments with our children that us mom's love to watch.

After picking up our bags at the airport we were headed home.  It was so good to get home!  I am still not fully unpacked and I still have a TON of laundry to do, but I don't care.  It's just great to be home.  Traveling home was very tiring.  It took a day and a half of traveling to get home.  I kept thinking, how hard the trip home was going to be with 4 kids and what a possible disaster it could be.  I started sort of dreading it.  That all changed Saturday morning though.  While I was unpacking and putting up Ray's stuff in her room, I started prepping it for Josslyn's arrival.  I suddenly felt very excited about getting the kids home.  I am VERY ready to head back to EE and BRING THEM HOME.  I know that trip home is going to be long, hard, and tiring.  But even if it is the worst 24 hours of my life, it will all be worth it when I get them home.  What is one bad day compared to having the joy of my three new kiddos for the rest of my life?  And who knows, the trip home might actually go smoothly.

Today I found out when I need to be back to finish up the paperwork and get my kids.  I have an appointment the morning of Tuesday, April 26th.  I will most likely have appointments to do paperwork the rest of that day.  So now I'm trying to figure out my flights and all that good stuff.  It looks like I'll be flying out Easter Sunday.  I'm a little bummed about missing Easter Sunday with my kids and family.  But it helps a little to know that Josh will be with them.  Josh is staying home when I go back for this trip.  My mom is coming with me to help with Kellen....and Daniel, and Parker/Alik, and Josslyn.  I hope to find out tomorrow when our flights will be.

I have to go now because I have a date with my bed in about 15 minutes for some much needed sleep.  I do plan on posting about what our court hearing was like, and about our last visits with the kids.  But for now....sleep.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

THEY ARE OUR'S!!!!

Court went excellent and the judge ruled in our favor!!  The Carlin bunch has just grown by THREE!!! 

I'll post more details later, but right now we are rushed to eat and get packed before we have to leave for the train station!

Thank you so much for all the prayers!

Last Minute Jitters

We had our last visit with "Parker" last night.

We had our last visit with Daniel and Josslyn this morning.

Barring any unforeseen turn of events at our hearing this afternoon, the next time I see those kiddos they will officially be Carlins!

I wasn't real sad when I said my last "paka" for 10 days.  This is just part of the journey, and it is exciting to think that even though I won't see them for a little while, this just means we are one giant step closer to getting them home.

Court is just a few short hours away.  I woke up with the jitters.  I have been so calm, up until this point, when I thought about our court hearing.  But as I layed in bed this morning it hit me....This is it.  This is what we've been fighting for.  Today it will become official.  All those months of paperwork and stress and worry will mean something LEGAL today.  Something permenant.  As a friend said to us this morning, "This is as closest thing you get to have to the birth of your children."  We didn't get to be there at the hospital when they were born.  The moment of your child's birth is when you officially start your life with them.  Today, we will officially be the beginning of our lives with our 3 new children.  It might not be the day of their birth into this world, but it is the day of their birth into our family.

My prayer for our hearing today is that those present will realize that "Parker", Daniel, and Josslyn have the opportunity and potential to have full and wonderful life.  I pray that those present will see that the kid's medical "conditions" do not lessen their value as a human being.  And most of all, I pray that the judge will see us fit to be their parents and legal grant it so.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Itinerary

Flights home are booked!  It worked out perfectly!

Here is what our schedule looks like, since we will be without internet starting tomorrow evening until we get home.

Wednesday(Tomorrow) afternoon: Court
Wednesday night: Night train to capitol city, 11pm-7am Thursday
Thursday: Flights home. Flights leave at 2pm. 
Thursday night: Arrive in Houston laaaaate Thursday night.(the time change does all kinds of crazy stuff on the way home)  We will spend the night at my sister's in Houston, so that the kids won't have to be woken up in the middle of the night.
Friday morning: Go home!

Tomorrow morning will be our last visit with Daniel and Josslyn before we leave.  I'm not sure if we will be able to see Parker tomorrow or not.  That will just depend on how long court takes.  So, this evening might be our last visit with him.  I think our absence is going to affect him the most, so I kinda hate not knowing if today's visit will be our last with him before we leave or not.

I am not going be able to post any more pictures or videos until we get home because of how slow the internet it.  But atleast that gives me something to do while I'm counting down the days until I get to come back and bust the kiddos out!

Monday, April 11, 2011

WE HAVE A COURT DATE!!!!!!!!

We just got a call from our facilitator with GREAT NEWS!!!!  We have court on Wednesday afternoon!!! AND it is with the GOOD JUDGE!!!!!  This news is beyond amazing!!!!  As soon as we got the great news, the first thing I thought was that this was a work of God's hand because God's people were praying for us.  This is YOUR news, just as much as it is our news.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the intersession that was/is being made on our behalf and the behalf of our children.  Continue to pray that our hearing will go smoothly and that the jury members present will have their heart's pricked for the orphans of their country.  Also, pray that we will be able to get flights home quickly.  I would LOVE to be able to fly home on Thursday, but flights are not always available that soon.  I'll keep you posted!! 

No,

I didn't take a flying leap of the top of our 19 story apartment building after a wrote my last blog post, just in case any of you were wondering.  I am feeling better than I was, but still pretty blah.  We haven't heard any courtdate news, and I keep holding on to hope of good news with that, so that has kept my spirits up some.

What we've been up to:
Saturday afternoon we had visitors!!  The Hagler's(another RR family that is in region right now adopting from a different orphanage that us) came over for the afternoon.  Their SDA appointment was the same day as ours, so we spent some time with them our first few days in country while we were in the capitol city.  They are an awesome couple and we were thrilled to get to spend some time with them.  Keep them in your prayers!  They have court this Friday and their judge is not familar with international adoption and is very wary of Americans who WANT to adopt children with special needs.  He just cannot fathom WHY anyone would want to do such a thing, therefore he assumes that they have bad motives.  His way of thinking is the same way that many in this country think, so please keep the Hagler family in your prayers this week as their court date approaches.  Pray that God will open the judge's eyes to see what the Hagler's see in the two precious children they are trying to adopt.(Which is two lives who are worthy of love, a family, and a chance to grow and learn.)

Saturday evening, after our friends left, we had to move apartments.  Same building, just a different room.  The change of scenery is nice.  It's a distraction.  This apartment is a little bigger, but the downside is that the internet is veeeeerrrrrryyyy slow.  Because of that, we haven't been able to skype with the kids.  We haven't talked to them since Thursday.  It's a bummer, but it might be helping Ray.  She gets pretty homesick when we skype.

Our visits with the Daniel, Josslyn, and ???(We have been calling him Alik/Alec/Alek, because that is the only thing he'll answer to....), have been going well.  Parker/Alik is like an onion and at every visit we peel off another thin layer and get a little closer to him letting us in.  We are making progress and I think he is genuinely starting to like us, but the progress is in baby steps.  Parker and Josh are futher(relationship wise), than Parker and I are.  Josh just knows how to connect with him better than I do.  Josslyn is still very attached to me.  She is warming up to Josh though, and she actually does really well with him when I'm not there.  If I'm there she is glued to me.  I don't mind at all though.  She is doing better about sharing me, which is good since she'll have to share me alot when we get home.  At first she didn't want Kellen or Daniel near me.  She has learned that it is not okay to boot baby brother out of mama's lap just because she wants the whole thing.  She still may prefer to have me all to herself, but she is ok with sharing me if she has too.  She will even give Kellen hugs when it is time for us to go.  Daniel is doing great too!  He is doing well with the boundaries that we have set(although he still tries to test them from time to time).  I think he is also closer to Josh than he is to me.  He isn't a super affectionate kid, like Josslyn, but he isn't uncomfortable with being loved on, like Parker is(he is getting much better about this though).  He just usually doesn't take the initiative to give hugs and such, but he doesn't mind when we hug him.  He is a busy little fellow and he only sits still to have a snack, so he isn't much for sitting in laps.  He is learning like crazy though!!  I find it rather amusing that his own country deems him unteachable, yet he has learned the most english and sign language out of all three of the kids.  Today when his snack was gone he started signing AND saying in english, "more please"!!!  That kids is amazing!   Also, we call him "Daniel" about 95% of the time now because that is what he is answering to.   Josslyn still hasn't caught on to her new name yet.  I think she thinks that WE don't know what we're talking about when we call her Josslyn.  I've even tried combining Joss with her birthname(because her birthname lends itself to being able to do that), but she doesn't really answer to that either.  She doesn't try to say much in english, but she does sign language for "more" and "please"(she needs promting to use please).    Parker doesn't use any english at all, but he understands a good bit of what we are saying to him.  We know this because he will give us the right answers in Russian to a question we ask him in English.  With all the kids we try to use what little Russian we know.  Once we know that they know a word in English, we try to use it mostly in English after that, just to kind of help them remember it. 

I'm going to go for now.  I tried to upload some pictures, but the internet was too slow for that.  I'll try again later.  Right now I am about to go finish painting my nails and drink some fanta out of a wine glass.  We only have 4 glasses and two coffee mugs in our apartment, so I could either choose a coffee mug or a wine glass.  The wine glass looks alot cuter with my hot pink nails, so I'm choosing that.

Thank you Thank you Thank you for all your words of encouragment after my last blog post.  It means the world to me to know how many of you are faithfully lifting us up in prayer.  I was very humbled by your outpouring of support.  I guess any nay-sayers were scared in to silence by your positive comments.  Thank you again!!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Broken-hearted+Homesick=Not Good

It has been two weeks since I've seen Luke and Ray.  Two weeks.  We don't have a court date yet, and we haven't even been assigned a judge.  Who knows how much longer we are going to be here.  I have nothing to count down to, no idea when I am going to see L and R again, and I find those two things down right depressing.

I did really well with the homesickness for the kids for the first week.  Week number 2 has been off and on.  I'll have a rough day(or part of a day), and then I'll do really good for a few days.  Now it's like I've hit a wall.  I just want to hop on the next plane home.  Not knowing how much longer we are going to have to be here feels like too much for me to bear.

I'm tired of orphanages too.  The orphanages are even more depressing than missing Luke and Raylen.  The kids are all so awesome and cute.  Even the ones who aren't cute are cute.  When the little ones walk by us with their group, they stare and smile and wave.  They break their little necks craning their heads to see us as the nannies lead them away.  If they ever do have a chance to break away from the group, they run over to us yelling, "mama!" "papa!" and they are all smiles.  One day I was bringing Josslyn back to her groupa and there were no nannies in her room.  2 or 3 of the children had escaped the big playpen where they were supposed to be confined.  One spotted me and yelled, "mama!!"  They swarmed me like bees on honey.  Several more of them immediately scaled the playpen walls and ran over to me too.  I squatted down and they all crowded around me.  The ones who couldn't escape the play pen all gathered in the corner closest to me reaching their arms out towards me.  I as looked at them all, eye to eye, one little girl nudged her way up to the front of the group.  She smiled from ear to ear as she layed her head on my shoulder, while whispering, "mama".  She is precious.  Brown curly hair, chubby cheeks, and a beautiful sweet smile. 

As I left Josslyn's room, I was all warm and fuzzy at the sweet attention and affection that had been lavished on me.  But those warm fuzzies quickly turned to heartache when I realized that most likely only one or two of the children is Josslyn's groupa will ever know the love of a family.  The other 9 or 10 of them will spend the next 13 or so years in an orphanage of some sort, and then they will age out of the system when they turn 16.  90% of those sweet little faces will have to grow up and face the world on their own at 16 years old, with no family to love, support, and guide them.  They will be crippled for life by their orphan status.  It will be difficult for them to get a job or find housing(can't really get an apartment if you don't have a job, right?).  And that is IF they are "healthy".  If they have HIV, when they age out of the system at 16 there is really no hope for them.  They will NOT be able to get a job(doing anything legal, that is), they will not have access to the medication they need.  So the children turn in to prostitutes, drug users, and theives, just to survive.  Without their medication the disease runs rampant in their body. Sick children who are sharing needles and having promiscuous sex, contributes to both the spread of HIV and the birth of more babies who will end up as orphans in the system just like their parents.  It's all a bit overwhelming, isn't it?

Parker's orphanage doesn't make me feel any better.  The children there are older, but just as precious.  I wish I could share with you the sweet faces of the kids who we have had the opportunity to meet and talk with.  They are precious beyond words, and all so hungry for our attention and love.  The chances of any of them being adopted is even slimmer, because of their age.  I get such a thrill talking, playing, and spending time with them.  But that all comes down to such a crashing low when we leave and I have a chance to think about what their future.  So bleak.  It is no wonder that about 15% of orphans commit suicide within a year of aging out of the system.  Only the most tenacious will survive.

All of that is to say, that even if I had Luke and Ray here with me, I would still be having a very rough time emotionally.  Adoption itself is a deeply emotional process.  If you combine those emotions with the despair I am feeling about the lost children we will have to leave behind, it's a given that I am going to be a broken hearted mess regardless of whether or not I am missing my kids.  But I AM missing Luke and Ray severely, so that only adds to my despair.

I know I am opening myself  up to be verbally attacked, by admitting that I am homesick for my children at home.  I've seen it happen on the blogs of other adoptive families while they were in country for their adoption.  Lucky me that I gave up caring what others think a while back(It's kinda freeing.  You ought to try it some time if you haven't already.).  So, while I might get attacked for daring to admit that I am incredibly homesick for my kids at home; or that the adoption process is emotionally exhuasting; or that part of me seriously just wants to bust my 3 kiddos out of their orphanages and never look back, I'm admitting those things anyway.  Last night I got to a point where I realized that I cannot continue in my own strength.  God has been a source of strength since we have been here, but more like a crutch to lean on to help me along.  I am completely emotionally spent.  From here on out everything I do will be done by the Lord's strength, not my own.  I can't do this any more, but God can.  HE is the one who started this work in our family, and He will see it through to completion.  It will be for His glory. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Just Pictures


Kisses

Mama and Josslyn

Happy Boy

Sharing with Daddy! Wow!

Happy Girl

Eating a cheerio

Lunch: Fried Eggs and Tomatoes


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Q and A

-I want to start off by sayint that I am so sorry about asking for feedback on Parker/Alik's name, and then not giving you the pronounciation. Alik would be pronounced like Alec(Alec Baldwin). That pronounciation is pretty much identical to how is real name is pronounced, just with a different spelling. So essentially, we would be changing the spelling, not what he is called. If we spelled his real name in the states the way it is spelled here, he would be called something totally different. While Alik is a Russian name, it would probably be prounounced differently over here than we would say it at home(in the states it would be Alec, here is would probably be said, AH Leek). Anyway, we are still discussing it, but I'll let you know what we decide. I agree with Becky, though, when she said that Parker never really fit him. I've felt that way all along. Parker is a great name and perfect for an adorable little boy, but it still didn't seem to fit him for some reason. If we do change it from Parker to Alik(or Alek, or Alec....), then we would most likely keep what would have been his middle name if he would have been Parker, which is Reid.(You can breathe a sigh of relief, Jordi.)

-How long will we be here?/What is out time frame?

When we left to come here, we were planning on being here 3 weeks. 2.5 is pretty much the average for an adoption from this country for your first trip. We were counting on 3 weeks because of having to have an extra SDA appointment to get Parker's referral. Since we were able to get all the referrals at once(PRAISE THE LORD!!), we were hoping to only be here for 2.5 weeks for this first trip. But, as of right now, it is looking like we will be here at least 3 weeks this first time. Since we are adopting 3, that means more paperwork, more time for each office to review and approve our paperwork, etc. So that adds a day or two here and there. Right now we are waiting for our papers to be approved by the SDA and then they will assign us a court date. Marina(our facilitator) said that the SDA should be able to review and approve us in the next day or two, and then we will know what our court date is. The date and judge are assigned randomly by a computer in the capitol city, so be praying that we get a quick date with a judge that is experienced with international adoption. If we get a judge that is not experienced with international adoption our date could be pushed back farther and farther for a million different reason. Pray for a speedy court date with the right judge.

AFTER court, we will come home for 10 days(they have a waiting period in this country). When the waiting period is over, my mom and I will come back to get the kids out of the orphanage and do a ton more paperwork to get them OUT of their old country and INTO their new country. I'll explain more about all of that as the time gets closer.

-How is Luke, is he still sick?

No, thankfully, he is much better! He sounds stopped up when we talk to the kids on skype, but my sister said that he is acting normal and feels fine. He seems to feel totally fine(he doesn't even seem that homesick), so I guess he's just got some sinus stuff going.

-Can you donate the baby food to the orphanage?

I don't know, but I'm going to find out! I hope so!

I can't remember any other questions. If you have any question at all feel free to ask!

I'll leave you with a few facts and tid bits of info:
Josslyn's eyes are blue. Daniel's are brown. Parker's are green.

I have finally gotten used to how tiny they all are. TINY!

Josslyn says, "Dada, and "bye" in english. Daniel says, "bye" and "more" in english. Parker doesn't say anything at all in english, but is understanding more and more what we are saying.

Kellen is saying, "da" and "papa" in Russian. Go figure.

Speaking of, Kellen just woke up from a nap so I gotta run! More later!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

3 videos from today

Two videos of Parker on the playground today:




Josslyn today


THAT...

is how my visit with Parker went this afternooon!!!!!

We spent the afternoon outside on the playground, and it was great!

Ohhhh, mama found me!!









I love that little green eyed boy!!  My afternoon with him was JUST what I needed!  I can't back from it feeling energized and revived!  I really had a great time with him and can't wait to go back and see him tomorrow!  In a little while I'll post some videos that I took today.

Now for your opinion on the name thing....
Parker is his Reece's Rainbown name, not his real name.  Since we were looking at his picture and praying about/for him for a couple of months before we decided to adopt him, we didn't really consider naming him something else, because he had been "Parker" to us for so long.  Once we committed to him, we found out his birth name, and we were not crazy about it.  It was the kind of name we couldn't imagine him going at home in the states, so we just thought that we'd stick with Parker. 
Once we got here and met him, it turns out that his name is pronounced differently than we thought.  We are now considering calling him Alik.  The reason we picked Alik, is because that is almost exactly how his birth name is prounounced.  In fact, Parker rarely responds when we attempt to call him by his birth name, but he has been responding when we call him Alik.  SOOOOO, my question is....What is the general consenses about making Parker's name Alik??  I asked Luke, Ray, and my nephews what they thought yesterday on skype and it was a hung jury.  I know that some people, cough cough, JOSH, are stuck on the name Parker, just because we have been calling him that for so long.  But all this time we were calling him Parker, he was going by another name.  A name very similar to Alik.  Since Parker has been answering to Alik, as opposed to our attempt at saying his birth name, Josh is considering swinging his vote from Parker to Alik.  Another good reason to name him Alik is that I think Parker is going to have the most difficult time with all the changes that getting a new family entail, so keeping his name(sorta) would probably help him, as opposed to getting a new name that is SOOOO different than his old name.  Plus, Alik just happens to be a Russian name that wouldn't stick out in American culture.  I'm thinking we have a winner here, what do you think??

Pictures....and Puke

Our visit with Parker, yesterday afternoon, went well.  He's kind of like and onion and we are peeling away one layer at a time.  I have to give Josh all the credit for the progress that was made with Parker yesterday.  Josh was done so amazing with the kids.  He is an excellent dad at home, but this is a whole new ballgame, so I wasn't sure exactly what to expect from him.  He has been beyond great.  It is like he was made to do this.  Parker responds better to Josh, than he does to me(Daniel and Josslyn are the opposite).  Yesterday, for our visit with Parker, I was out of tricks.  He doesn't have a problem being around us at all.  In fact, he always seems happy to see us.  Besides a little bit of talking(in a language that we do not understand), he doesn't really interact with us.

Yesterday though, Josh made a major break through with him.  Josh had a little ball, and after much coaxing, Parker began to play ball with him.  They played ball for a loooooong time.  Parker LOVED it.  Josh also got Parker to tell us what different items were, in Russian, by using the Russian words he knew.  For example, we know "phone" and "car" in Russian.  Josh would pick up something,(like a shoe), and hold it up to his ear like it was a phone while saying phone in Russian.  Parker would giggle and yell, "Nyet!!!"(NO), and then say the Russian word for what ever the item was.  The game helped us learn new words, allowed Parker to interact with us, and he loved it!  Win/win/win.   Josh seriously is cut out for this.  He is like an orphan parenting genius. I literally have never been so impressed with this man, and he has done some pretty impressive things since I've known him. 

This morning as we were pulling up the Daniel and Josslyn's orphanage, Kellen puked again.  After he threw up in the car yesterday he seemed fine the rest of the day, so I thought he was over whatever it was.  Apparently not.  He barfed all over himself and me.  Nasty.  I was actually TRYING to keep the puke on me, as opposed to getting on Roman's car.  His car is his livelyhood, so I would hate to get barf all over his seats.  Might hurt business. 

So there we were.  In front of the orphanage and Kellen and I were covered in puke again.  Josh told Roman to bring me back to the apartment, and that he would stay for visitation.  We only get one visitation time a day at each orphanage, since we are dividing up our time.  We didn't see Daniel and Josslyn all day yesterday because of Kellen's puking episode.  We hated to miss another entire day of seeing them.  So Josh stayed, and Kellen and I came back to the apartment.  He hasn't puked since, of course.  Roman seems to think that Kellen has car sickness.  I think he just has crazy taxi driver sickness. 

Whether it is car sickness, crazy taxi driver sickenss, a bug, or something he eat, regardless Kellen isn't going to visit Parker this afternoon.  Josh is going to stay home with him and I am going to see Parker.  It is a little warmer outside today, so maybe they will let me take him outside.

I'll post again later.  For now I'll leave you with some random pictures.(Luke and Ray love the pictures.  We skype with them at night and they are always asking for more pictures.  Feel free so skip the pictures.)
Oh, and tonight I am going to ask for some feedback about Parker's name.  We are still trying to decide what it should permenately be..... Stay tuned.

I love that he is smiling at Kellen.  So sweet.
I'm guessing that is Russian for, "happy meal" ??
Lovin' on Daddy.  He's my little lover boy.
(This one is for Luke)
Pirates of the Caribbean 4!!!

What I do when I am missing Luke and Ray.

(In a coffee shop in the mall)
See, he does have hair!!

Look, Luke and Ray, fried egg candy!


That's all for now, folks!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda

Things I am so glad that I brought:

1.  My mom's insulated leather gloves!
I borrowed my mom's gloves and I am so glad I did!  It was COLD our first few days here, while we were in the capital city.  The gloves were great to have.  I haven't worn them much since we have been in region, but that is because we aren't really outside much.  Our driver picks us up at the door and we have a big mall connected to our building.  The supermarket is inside the mall.  Pretty sweet set up.  So even though I have been wearing the gloves much lately, I would have been miserable the first several days without them.

2.  My leggins and long socks.  Keeps my legs nice and warm under my jeans when we are going to be outside alot.

3. Folgers singles
4.  Reading material.  I didn't think that I would have time to read, since we have the baby with us and all, but I have been surprised how much reading I've been able to do.  On the plane ride over here I read almost all of a really awesome book that a friend let me borrow, called, "The Strength of Mercy" by Jan Beazley.  I totally recommend it. 
5. Travel size deo, shaving cream, hairspray, mouthwash....
That helped save some room, and it is plenty for our trip.
6. A handful of ziplock bags of assorted sizes.  Someone suggested this to me, and even though I wasn't really sure what I would end up using them for, I packed them anyway.  I've ended up using them for everything.  Holding change, storing receipts, cookies and cracker after they have been open, etc.

7. Kellen. 
I'm so glad I brought that boy.

Things that I wish I would have brought:
1. MORE Folgers coffee singles. 
2. More granola bars.  Who knew that granola bars were suddenly going to be the baby's favorite food?  And good luck finding them here, because I haven't been able to yet.
3. Fingernail clippers. Kellen's nails grown at warp speed.  I know this and cut them right before we left, but they need to be cut really bad already and I haven't been able to find any in the stores around here.  I went in to a pharmacy type store to try to find some today, but turned around and walked out because they had some very offensive items on display.  It's a different world over here.  You just THINK that they use sex to sell stuff in America....
4.  A washrag.  Neither of the apartments that we have stayed at have had them and that is what I am used to using to bathing with.
5.  A queen size FITTED sheet.  One of my readers suggested that I bring one, but I didn't.  Even before she had suggested it, I have read about her husband bringing one when he went back for his second trip.  Yet, I chose not to bring one, in order to fit more blue jeans in my suitcase, and now I'm regretting it.  The bottom sheet on our bed is a flat sheet that has been tucking in.  You can imagine how well that stays tucked in....
6.  A better digital travel alarm clock.  There are like NO clocks here.  We bought the bottom of the line $6 travel alarm clock for our trip.  Kellen threw it down one time, and now it no longer works.  It drives me nuts to not be able to glance over at a clock and know what time it is.  Wish we would have splurged and got the $10 clock....and then kept it out of the baby's reach.


Things I wish that I had NOT brought:
1.  A butt load of baby food.  When we left the states, Kellen was still eating about one container of baby food per meal, and then regular food after that.  I packed a ton of baby food because I was worried that we would get over here and he wouldn't like the food, or the baby food would be different, so he would end up starving and miserable.  He has eaten ZERO baby food since we boarded our first flight.  He just completely gave it up over night.  Now I'm stuck with all that HEAVY baby food I packed. 
2.  My nice 31 Gifts Retro Metro bag.  I brought it as my diaper bag/purse, but I wish that I had left it at home and used a backpack instead.  It would have been safer, since my shoulder bag doesn't close at the top.  Also, it would have been easier to wear a back pack, instead of a shoulder bag, when you are walking alot.  And my pretty mod dot bag is getting dirty and stained up being lugged in and out of taxis and orphanages and what not.  Shoulda gone with a backpack. 
3. More toys for Parker, Daniel, and Josslyn.  Even though we try to rotate toys, they are getting bored with our stash.  There are two toy stores near our apartment and both of them are expensive.  We bought a couple of toys there(dress of jewelry, a toy car, and a play cell phone.  All of those were a BIG hit), but they are still getting bored by the end of a two hour visit.(Not so much Josslyn, because she is content to just sit in my lap for hours on end.  But the boys get bored, and rightfully so.)

Those are my lists for now.  If I could go back in time, I would exchange all that baby food for Folgers singles.  

Josh and Kellen are napping, so I'm going to try to catch a nap too while everything is quiet. 

Puke and Videos

Well, Kellen threw up all over himself and me right as we pulled up to the orphanage for visitation this morning.  Therefore, we had to turn around and go right back to the apartment.  That translates in to, no morning visit.  Since I don't have a visit to blog about, I think I'll upload some videos.  What do you think?

Here goes....

Parker playing with a singamajig

Kellen helping Josh vacuum


Those two video took for.ev.er. to upload so I'm going to call it quits for now.  More later...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

It's a marathon, not a sprint

Afternoon visit: Parker
Our visitation "scheduled", unless it is interrupted for paperwork or some unforeseen reason, is:  Daniel and Josslyn in the morning(either 9-11 or 9:30-11:30) and Parker in the afternoon(4-6). 

This afternoon with Parker went well.  I was a tad bit nervous how things were going to go with him, since we had ended on a negative note yesterday.  I didn't know if he was going to see me and run screaming in the other direction, or what.  He didn't though.  When he saw me he broke into a HUGE smile and ran up to me and hugged me.  It was a big tight hug.  I was so relieved that we hadn't lost all the progress we had made with him.  The nannies/teachers do tell him to hug us when he see us and when he says goodbye to us.  I don't think he necessarily would have done it on his own.  But I KNOW the smile was genuine, and the fact that he gave me a big tight hug tells me that it was at least half way genuine.

He started playing with toys.  He is beginning to interact with us more, slowly but surely.  He will be playing with a toy and look up and say something to us.  He smiles alot and he is making alot more eye contact.  He never initiates physical touch, but he doesn't freak out if we touch him either.  He sends mixed signals about us touching him.  If Josh tickles him or picks him up and gently tosses him, Parker makes his body very rigided, like he doesn't want to be touched, yet he has a huge smile and dies laughing.  I think he likes it, but doesn't know how to receive it.  It is going to take some time for him to figure out how to receive our love.

I am still beyond impressed with how he is with Kellen.  There isn't alot of interaction between the two of them, but when there is I am so proud of Parker.  Every once in a while he will bend over and say something to Kellen.  He doesn't get upset or snatch if Kellen picks up a toy that he was recently playing with.  Today, Parker was playing with the infamous toy computer and Kellen came up.  Kellen put his hands over the buttons.  For a minute Parker just let him.  When Kellen made it obvious that he wasn't going to leave it alone, Parker gently moved his hand.  Kellen was relentless and I was thouroghly impressed with how Parker handled him.

When the nanny brought Parker to us at the beginning of the visit, he had a sweater tied around his neck, preppy style(they dress the kids up for visitation).  As soon as the nanny was gone, Parker too the itchy sweater off.  When it was time for us to go, I tried to tie the sweater back on him.  He kept pulling it off until he saw me get my jacket on and Josh gathering our bags together.  He grabbed the sweater and started trying to tie it around his neck, but he couldn't, so I tied it on for him.  I thought that he realized that he was going back to his group and was happy about it.  I tried to give me a hug, but he didn't want to hug me.  Josh knelt down and held out his arms and asked, "Papa?"  Much to my surprise, Parker gave him a huge hug!! Yes! Head way!  I learned my lesson, I need to quit pushing it and let him do it on his own terms. 

At this point, I fully thought that Parker understood that our visit was over and we were leaving.  A nanny came into the room and she started to pick up Parker.  He started crying.  I'm not 100% positive, but I think he was crying because he wanted to go with us!!  The nanny seemed like she was telling him that we were coming back tomorrow.  That calmed him down.  I felt so bad for him(because I think he thought he was going with us, for some reason), but at the same time I think it was major progress that he even wanted to be with us.


Kellen asleep during our afternoon visitation with Parker yesterday.

Yesterday
Brothers sharing pretzles

The billboard that Josslyn is on!!

It says, "This girl needs a family"
NOT ANYMORE!!!!

Kellen relaxing with Daddy on the way back to the apartment after our afternoon visit.
He has been such a trooper!!

What I cooked for dinner.

I had a very rough day yesterday.  I was exhausted and very homesick for Luke and Ray.
Today was a much better day.  After a good nights sleep, cooking a real meal, and lots of cuddles from Kellen, I am doing much better today.

I don't know what I would do without him here!  When I start missing Luke and Ray, I just cuddle and kiss Kellen and it helps me feel better.  Having him with us has been such a blessing.  Yes, it has been tough at times, but I wouldn't change it for a second. 

We are hoping to have our paperwork submitted to the courts tomorrow.  Pray that we get a speedy court date with the judge who is experienced with international adoption.