Friday, July 28, 2006

Photos from the Orphanage

Today I picked up the photos from the disposable camera I left at the orphanage between trips. It's pretty obvious that they took most of the photos on the same day, but that's okay. What's really interesting is the glimpse these photos give into the orphanage life of very young children. At her orphanage they were fortunate that the children did not have to share a crib. The cribs are all old--everything there is old--but they do the best they can with what they have.

I noticed that Alivia likes to try to drink out of regular cups and in the photos there was one of her doing just that by herself. There is also one of her eating by herself, but I don't think she did that on a regular basis. I could be wrong, of course, but her coordination just doesn't seem up to that yet. They told me when I picked her up that she was eating any "smashed" foods and drinking tea. Somehow I don't think tea is the best drink for a baby, but that's just my opinion.

They have a variety of toys for the children at Vishney Volochek--including a padded playroom that looks like it might be fun.

One of the photos I'm posting here today had another child in it. I put a black bar across his face since I don't have permission to post his photo. If someone viewing this thinks it might be their referral/adopted child, please email me and I'll be happy to send you the photo.

Enjoy the photos!
~ Jeana

Sunday, July 23, 2006

New Friends

It's been a busy, but fun weekend. Yesterday Alivia visited with her Gran and Papa while Mommy went to the movies with some friends. After the movie I picked her up from Gran's house and went back to the friends so they could all meet my little princess. Alivia did well with all the attention--showing a decided preference for Mommy, but a willingness to let others hold her for a bit. Oh--and the movie was good, too! We saw Pirates of the Carribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

Today started out as a relaxing day, but Alivia was a bit fussy. She's teething right now and it makes her a little cranky. Things improved, though, in the afternoon. I had invited a friend from work to bring her young daughter over to meet Alivia and the two hit it off well. Chelsea is a beautiful little girl and baby crazy as most little girls are. She allowed Alivia to climb on her and poke at her and was generally pretty good natured about it. She loved finding ways to make Alivia laugh. Here's a photo of the two of them with Chelsea's mom.

Chelsea also brought Alivia a gift--a fun little car to roll about on. Alivia loved it and enjoyed having Mommy push her around for a little ride. Chelsea also loved the opportunities it provided to pose for the camera. Chelsea is quite the little ham! I love seeing the personality coming out in young children like Chelsea and can't wait to see Alivia doing the same kind of things. Here is another picture of the three of us having some fun! Chelsea and I took turns tickling each other and giving each other rabbit ears. And don't you just love Alivia's "look, everybody, no hands!" bit?

As you can see, Alivia is still loving her food--she's showing off quite the little pot belly here! She's eating very well--and a nice variety, too. She loves fruit and tolerates most meats and veggies. Cereal is still her favorite, though, and I think she'd eat it for every meal if I let her! She also still takes a bottle, but likes to try to drink from a cup. Her pediatrician wants me to keep her on formula for a while to try to help her grow a bit faster. Currently she's weighing/measuring in at the 50th percentile for a 5 month old, so she's got a bit of catching up to do!

I just wish we could get more pictures of her smiling. She smiles a lot, but rarely when there is a camera around. Makes it a bit of a challenge! We mostly get these serious faces from her on camera. Of course, it's always amazing to see just how much she is changing every day! I swear she looks so much like me as a kid! Thank you, Jennifer, for manning the camera!

~ Jeana

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Happy Wednesday and a Look Back at Moscow

Today was a good day, although it didn't actually start out that way. Alivia finished the last of the kasha from Russia yesterday and decided first thing this morning that she didn't care at all for the baby rice cereal or baby oatmeal cereal that I was offering. I tried everything to get her to eat it and she just locked her teeth and refused. I checked the Nestle Website for the instant kasha we had found in Russia, but it's not available here. Fortunately Jacksonville has a large immigrant population and I was able to find a European grocery store that carries some imported baby foods--including a wheat based cereal similar to kasha. I found a brand that she likes and all is now well again as far as breakfast is concerned!

This afternoon I took Alivia to her visit her Gran and Papa. She also got to meet their dogs--two dachshunds. The female, Suni, immediately went into mama-mode and actually took exception to me trying to pick Alivia up at one point. It was kind of cute. The male, Kasea, wasn't happy with the situation at all, though. He's been the family baby for the last several years and didn't like being displaced. Here's a photo of Alivia and Suni becoming acquainted.

Alivia also discovered the joys of honey nut cherrios at Gran's house. After the rough night and morning we had it was great to see her in such good spirits. (Alivia had a fever off and on all night and most of the day today as a result of the shots she received yesterday at the pediatrician's office.)

Later, while Mom and I messed around in the kitchen Alivia spent her time wisely--having a heart to heart talk with her Papa. All in all it was a very pleasant afternoon and evening. I knew she needed a little extra loving after her experience at the doctor's office and I can tell she's looking forward to visiting Gran and Papa again on Saturday while I go to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

Backtracking a few days--we had a wonderful couple days in Moscow before the long flight home. I didn't take the city tour on the first trip, so the agency kindly took me, Mom and Alivia on the tour on our last morning in Moscow. We did all the major sites--St. Basil's Cathedral in Red Square, the Olympic lookout point, etc. My one disappointment--I'm a huge Scorpion's fan and they headlined a free concert in Red Square on our second night in Moscow in honor of the G8 summit in St. Petersburg. I would have loved to go, but a rock concert just isn't the right venue for a small baby in my opinion. Even if it is in Red Square...

The embassy visit was interesting. We went on Friday and there were 23 other families there. We were told that on Thursday there had been twice as many families. I'm glad we were there on Friday. The waiting area is rather small and couldn't accommodate everyone as it was. The embassy staff were very helpful, though, and got everyone through as quickly as possible. They also made a point of going over what to expect when we got back to the States. One of the things they told us was that as soon as the airplane wheels touch down on U.S. soil, our children become U.S. citizens. As the consular aide put it--"something magical happens".

Well, on the flight home my mom was telling that story to the flight attendants and a few people sitting near us just as we were coming in to land. Everyone was oohing and ahhing over the sweet story when suddenly the plane wheels did touch down--very hard! Alivia startled and her eyes got really big and you would have sworn just from looking at her that something magical had indeed happened. As the plane taxied to the gate I looked around our section of the plane and was just amazed. Everyone--the flight attendants, the people in the rows nearby--everyone was smiling at Alivia and crying. And she, of course, was just beaming back at everyone, too!

~ Jeana

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A Busy, Busy Day!

Hi Everyone! I know I promised photos, but we've been so busy since arriving home that I haven't had a chance to pull out the camera. I promise to take some tomorrow, though, and upload them so everyone can see how well Alivia's doing.

Today was an especially busy day--first thing this morning we stopped by my office so everyone there could meet her. Alivia was her usual charming self and especially seemed to take to Drew. Alivia is a little flirt and made the most of the visit, though, laughing and smiling at everyone.

After we left my office we had to go to the social security office to apply for her card. It was interesting that they wouldn't accept the certified Russian translations of her birth certificate and the adoption decree. They have to have them translated by their staff instead. I was assured that it wouldn't take long, though, and that we should receive her card in a couple weeks. They were very nice, there, and made copies of everything they needed so I didn't have to give them any originals. I was worried about that.

Once we finished there, I took Alivia home to try to get a nap before her appointment with the pediatrician. She was just a little too over-stimulated, though, and never did fall asleep. Fortunately she doesn't get too fussy when she's tired and she did well at the pediatrician's office until the needles came out. The poor girl had to have four shots today and she didn't like any of them. The upside of the visit was that she checked out VERY well! Developmentally the doctor placed her at about 9 months and physically at about 5 months (she's 12 months 13 days old). Considering that she was a couple months premature, she's been in the orphanage since birth, and her birthmom is rather petite, she's doing well. In the 11 days that she's been with me she's gained 1.25 lbs., too! That's more than she was averaging per month in the orphanage. It's simply amazing how much these kids can grow when they have the right nourishment and all the love and attention they need.

Tomorrow should be a more normal day and hopefully we can get back on our schedule of two naps and lots of playtime. Again--I promise to get some new photos of her up here sometime tomorrow. Until then!

~ Jeana

Sunday, July 16, 2006

We're Home!!!!

It was a very long trip--more than 26 hours of travel time--but we made it home late last night! Alivia was an angel--she only slept off and on, but she traveled so well! She only cried once when her gums were bothering her and otherwise just played happily the whole time. Now we're working on getting back on some kind of a schedule--hopefully we'll both be caught up on our sleep in the next day or so. I'll post highlights and photos as soon as I can!

~ Jeana

Friday, July 14, 2006

Almost Home Free!

Hi everyone! We just finished our last official appointment--the embassy visit. We will be flying out of Moscow very early in the morning and hope to be home around 8:30 Saturday evening. It's been a long, but very successful trip! Alivia is the most affectionate little baby--an absolute treat to be around!

We can't wait to get home to all our family and friends!

Love to everyone!

~ Jeana, Alivia and Barbara

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Last Night in Tver

We spent our last evening in Tver taking another little stroll. This time I got a picture of the old KGB building which is where adopting families go to receive their referals. It's nice that the Osnabruck Hotel is so centrally located in the city. Most of the places we need to go are within walking distance.

When we returned to the hotel we gave Alivia her bath. We've been staying in a suite here and discovered that the bidet makes a perfect baby bathtub. Alivia wasn't too happy with Gran for taking her picture while she was bathing, but Gran made it up to her afterwards with a nice lotion rub.

I'm looking forward to getting to Moscow tomorrow and being one step closer to home. Saturday still seems a long way away, but we'll be busy enough in Moscow that the time should pass quickly.

We will probably not get to post again until after we get home, but if I stumble across an internet cafe I'll see what I can do. Until then, enjoy the photos!

~ Jeana

Ice Cream!

We had a lovely walk around the center of town today. Alivia definitely likes riding in the carrier better than the stroller. We walked up through the park to what I call "Gypsy Street". It's a pedestrian street where you can find real gypsies. From what I understand they sell their "wares" and look for likely targets to pick pocket. We haven't had any problems with them.

The street is lined with shops and restaurants and reminds me a lot of St. George Street in St. Augustine. We found a really good fast food restaurant near the Olympus Mall that makes great "chicken burgers", otherwise known as chicken filet sandwiches, and roasted seasoned potatoes. You don't want to try the coke from the fountain, though--the water they use makes it taste funny. Get the cokes from the bottles in the cooler.

On one corner of Gypsy Street there is a Baskin Robbins. We stopped there after lunch and ordered a rocky road cone for me and a dish of vanilla for Mom. Alivia decided she wanted some of both, but she had a decided preference for the rocky road--especially when she discovered that she could lick the cone just like her momma! You can definitely tell she was meant to be my daughter!

Tomorrow we leave Tver for Moscow. We don't know what time yet, but it will definitely be tomorrow. I don't know if I'll have internet access in Moscow, but if I can get it I will try to post a few more times before we head home on Saturday. This trip has been great, but we really can't wait to get home!

~ Jeana

It's a Beatiful Day in the Neighborhood!

Hi everyone! We are having another sunny and hot day in Tver--the temp is in the mid 80's already and it's not yet noon. The weather has been beautiful here the whole trip. The days are hot, but with a nice breeze and we get a brief thunder shower ever afternoon. The sun is out for so many hours that everything dries off quickly, though, and we're able to get right back outside if we need to.

I was thinking this morning about my court experience. It was actually kind of fun. Everyone--the judge, the prosecutor, the inspector--was obviously in a good mood that day and it seemed more of a formality than anything else. At one point the judge was reading the info about my house into the record and she suddenly stopped and asked if she could ask me a personal question. I said of course, and she asked if I lived alone. I said yes and she asked, "then why do you need such a big house?" Now, my house is only 1260 SF, but compared to homes and apartments here I guess that is pretty big. I thought really fast and answered that I had known I wanted a family when I bought the house so I made sure to get a big house so I could have a big family. She liked my answer. She also liked looking at the photos of my house and at the pictures of my cats.

As we got near the end of court--the prosecutor was making her last comments just before the judge would announce her decision, the judge suddenly realized that a document was missing. We had to adjourn court for a while to allow Alexey to drive back to his office to get it. The judge went ahead with her next case while we waited on Alexey, then as soon as he got back, she put her other case on hold and called us into her chambers so she could finalize the adoption. It was very sweet of her not to make us wait.

After we got back to the hotel from court, Mom and I changed clothes in record time and I ran downstairs to post the brief messages about the court decision. Then we were off on a whirlwind of shopping before we could go to the orphanage. We wanted to take a gift to the orphanage and got Alexey to get a list of things that they needed. We had to make several stops to get everything, but we were able to resupply them with some medicines, baby bottles, and other things.

These last few days with Alivia have just been amazing. When I look back at how uncertain I was during trip one of my decision to adopt her, I'm just amazed! She has blossomed so much even in this short amount of time. It's obvious that she knows she's loved. She's learning by leaps and bounds, too! She's pulling herself up now and standing with support. I have no doubt she'll be walking soon! She's curious about everything and loves to explore. (You can't tell I'm a proud mama, can you?)

~ Jeana

Monday, July 10, 2006

Monster Girl

Ive decided Alivia's nickname will be Monster. She loves to tense up her whole little body and growl when you change her diaper. Then she grins and giggles. It's so cute! Here are a couple more photos of Alivia with her Gran. The first is from breakfast this morning and the other is right after her afternoon snack of carrots and plums. You can see why we also call her Piglet!

We took a nice little walk today using the baby carrier. She liked that much better than the stroller. Tonight we plan another little stroll to try to get some nice photos of the city.

~ Jeana

Miss Piglet!

Hi everyone! Alivia is quite the little piggy! She's such a good eater--literally dives into every bite. We're having lots of fun exploring the city and getting to know one another. I only have a couple minutes right now, but wanted to do a quick post. I'll do another one later today and add a couple new pics!

~ Jeana

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Day Two!

We had a few rough spots last night. Alivia awoke around midnight in tears. Her little gums were sore and she was a little feverish. The vibrating teether helped a little, but we finally had to give her a baby aspirin. After an hour or so she fell back to sleep sprawled on top of me and slept that way most of the rest of the night. I finally eased her back in her crib around 4 am or so and got a few hours sleep myself.

Alivia awoke promptly at 7:30 this morning (she knows her schedule well!) and decided Mom and I needed to get up, too. We fed her some pears and some formula then showered and dressed so we could get some breakfast, too. I think I've adopted a hobbit, though, because when we got down to the restaurant Alivia decided she was hungry again and ate a second breakfast of scrambled egg whites, peach yogurt and milk. I was surprised at how much she was able to put away!

After breakfast we played for a bit in the room and then it was naptime--for both Alivia AND me! When she awoke around 11:30 (right on schedule again!) we fed her some turkey and potatoes and more pears. She definitely prefers the fruits to the meat and veggies, but we managed to get some down her. Then it was time for our first family shopping expedition!

Alivia loved riding in her stroller as we walked up to the grocery store. At the store we picked up some of the things we've noticed she really likes--yogurt and milk, and we also picked up some instant baby cereal. She seems willing to try anything food-wise and will eat it without fussing even if she seems not to like the taste overly much. She's certainly making my job easier! We also stopped at the pharmacy and picked up some liquid baby tylenol and more diapers. By the time we returned to the hotel it was naptime again and I could tell Alivia was ready.

Her naptime ends in about ten minutes, then we'll have our "afternoon tea" before we head out with Luba to the photographer to get her passport photo done. After that the rest of the weekend is ours! Tomorrow we plan to take a stroll down to the city park which runs along the Volga and possibly even take a river boat cruise.

All in all, Alivia is doing very well! She's very smart--she's figured out that when I wrap my thumb in my fist she can tug on my fingers to release it. She's beginning to crawl, but finds it faster right now to just roll around to get to where she wants to be--usually peeking into a mirror to see what that other baby is doing. She's utterly delightful to be around--just as cheerful as can be!

I'll try to get some more pictures today--we've been so busy settling in that the camera has stayed in the bag for the most part. It's nice reading all your comments! Kelly--if I can help you in any way, please feel free to email me! I'm on the AdoptTver list, too!

Hugs to everyone back home!

~ Jeana

Friday, July 07, 2006


What an incredible day! After court we came back to the hotel to change clothes and grab our bag of stuff for Alivia. Then we were off on a whirlwind of shopping for things to give to the orphanage. Alexey talked to the director of the orphanage who told him what they needed--mostly medicines and feeding supplies. An interesting side note--in Russia you don't need prescriptions to get medications. You can get pretty much anything you want as long as they have it in stock. Once we picked up the last of the items from the list we hit the road for Vishney Volochek.

The drive to the orphanage was much quicker today--no traffic jams! We arrived in good time and after we presented our thank you gifts and donations we were told to wait in the usual room while they finished getting Alivia ready. After about ten minutes they brought her in to us dressed in only a cute little onesie and a pair of socks. I was pleasantly surprised that she tolerated the change of clothes well today. It took only a few moments to undress her, put on a clean diaper and dress her in her new clothes for the trip back to Tver. I have to say I just love her in that hat!

After dressing Alivia we posed for a few pictures (none of which turned out well) and then began the long drive back to Tver. Alivia was an angel the entire trip and spent most of the first hour looking out the window at the changing scenery. She fell asleep for the last hour and slept through some of the worst roads you've ever seen. It was amazing. She woke when we reached the hotel and as soon as we reached the room she was ready to play a little. It was about 7 pm by then, so I got her dinner ready while Mom kept her entertained. Alivia ate her first meal with us very well--she loved the pureed pears and didn't mind the beef, beets and rice mixture too much. (I know she shouldn't be on mixed foods, but it's impossible to find single foods here other than fruit and a vegetable or two. The doctor at the orphanage said she could eat anything pureed at this point, though, and has been for the last month, so we weren't too worried.)

After dinner we gave Alivia a bath and she loved it! This little girl is simply amazing! We dressed her in some warm pjs and put her in bed and she played there quite contentedly for a bit while we ate our dinner (conveniently delivered by room service!) Then she wanted out to play again and was delighted to discover the baby in the full length mirror in the room. We played for an hour or so then I put her in the crib again and laid down in my bed beside her until she drifted off.

So far Alivia has proven to be quite the little angel! I know it won't last, but I'm enjoying it while I can! Tomorrow we have an appointment for passport photos in the afternoon, but the rest of our day is free, so we're going to take Alivia for a little walk up to the grocery store to restock our dwindling water supply. As promised, I've posted a few photos with this entry--one from our visit to the orphanage on her birthday, one of me changing her today and one of dressed in the beautiful outfit we chose to take her "home" in. Enjoy!

~ Jeana

It's Official!

About one hour ago the judge here in Tver pronounced that Alivia Elena Victoria is now my daughter! The 10 day wait was waived and we are leaving in just a couple minutes to pick her up from the orphanage! I'll post pictures later today.

You can't imagine how excited I am! This is beyond anything I ever imagined!

~ Jeana

It's Court Day!

We leave for court in about an hour... I'm not really nervous. More like just anxious to get it over with. I'm SO hoping we get to pick up Alivia today and don't have to wait until tomorrow. Hopefully I'll be able to post on here about that shortly. In the meantime, keep us in your prayers!

~ Jeana

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Wheels on the Bus...

It's been a busy couple days here in Tver! Yesterday Mom and I got up early and visited another grocery store. We're enjoying picking up a fresh loaf of bread every day for lunch. We have some cheese, some cucumbers and tomatoes, radishes and fruit--makes for a very nice meal! After lunch Alexey and Luba picked us up and it was time to go to the orphange. The theme on this trip seems to be travel delays, however, and the orphanage trip was no exception! We ran into not one, not two, but three separate traffic jams on the way there (this in a country where most people don't have cars!!!) We finally made it to the orphanage at around 4 pm, though, and got to spend a delightful 45 minutes with Alivia.

She was in a terrific mood--cheerful and just as pretty as I remembered. We sang Happy Birthday to her and she returned the favor, singing to us a little bit. The song didn't have any words and the melody was quite interesting, but it was obvious what she was trying to do. It was very cute! Unfortunately the visit was very brief and it was interupted quite a bit by the doctor and various care takers who needed to share information with me, so it felt very rushed. I would have loved to spend a lot more time there.

On our way back we encountered another traffic jam before we managed to get out of Vishney Volochek, but we were able to get back on the road eventually and made it back to Tver by about 6 pm. On the way we had quite the experience, though. Mom and I both needed to use the bathroom, so we asked Alexey to stop at a gas station. He stopped at a small roadside cafe instead. I waited outside while Mom went in and I remember hearing her say "Oh my lord," or something like that and I figured it must be pretty dirty. When she came out and it was my turn, I found out the real reason. The "toilet" was literally just a hole in the ground with a constant trickle of water that ran down to keep it flowing. There were two slightly raised tiles on either side of the hole for you to stand on and there was a small shelf on the wall where the roll of toilet tissue sat. It was quite the "experience"!

After we returned to the hotel we met up with another family who was here on their first trip and had a nice dinner in the hotel restaurant. After dinner I went for a walk with the couple to show them where the big shopping mall and a couple good, but inexpensive restaurants are located. Mom and I both went to bed early--it had been a long day!

This morning I had a couple doctors visits to take care of--the psychiatrist and the narcologist (drug abuse doctor.) It was amazingly inexpensive--only 200 rubles (a little less than $8) for the psychiatrist and 320 rubles (about $12) for the narcologist. All the other doctors (I had to get approved by 8 doctors in all) were a combined total of 200 rubles. I'm glad I was assigned to Tver and not to Moscow! I've heard that in Moscow the medical exams cost about $1500!

After we finished with the doctors, Luba took Mom and I out shopping for souvenirs and things for the baby. We bought a cute little stroller which proved very useful for transporting all the other things we also bought back to the hotel. We stopped at another grocery store (I think we've been to 4 different ones now!) and picked up a few jars of baby food for Alivia and some fresh fruit and veggies for us. I also picked up a couple interesting bags of potato chips. One is crab flavored (it's actually very good!) and the other is caviar flavored (we haven't tasted that one yet.) There are so many interesting new tastes to try here!

Tomorrow morning is court and then we hope to drive to Vishney Volochek to pick up Alivia. It will be so wonderful to finally have her with us! As soon as we get back and I get a chance to slip down to the computer I'll post some pictures. She's such a little cutie! I can't wait to be able to share her with all my friends!

~ Jeana

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Long and Winding Road...

Well, mom and I had a quite the adventure on the trip over here. Our flight out of NY was delayed and we missed our connection in London. By the time we arrived in London we ended up with a 3.5 hour layover there and so we didn't arrive in Moscow until 8pm. Then the driver who was supposed to pick us up broke down and they had to find another driver. We didn't get picked up at the airport until about 1:15 in the morning and arrived at the hotel at 3:30 am (7:30 pm EST.) Needless to say, after more than 36 hours straight travelling we were exhausted. We collapsed into bed and didn't get up till almost noon today.

On the plus side, we did manage to discover some great airport food while we were waiting in various cities. In NY there was a terrific Italian place with some fabulous pizza! In London we found a little place called the Giraffe and it had some of the tastiest rice I have ever had. The salmon filet with it was just kind of ordinary, but the rice had slivers of carrots, green beens and other orientalish veggies and an absolutely delicious sauce on it. In Moscow, there was a nifty little asian cafe that did pretty fair sushi and another nice rice dish. Not bad at all for airport food!

Other than the travel delays everything is going well. We have a suite at the hotel which is very comfortable and will be nice when we have Alivia with us. TWe went out for a little exploratory walk this afternoon and bought some bread, cheese and fruit to do lunch in our room. I'm hoping to meet up with another adoption family in a little while to make dinner plans and maybe do a little more city exploration this evening. It stays light out until close to midnight, so it's nice to take an evening stroll.

Tomorrow we go to the orphanage to see Alivia. It's also her first birthday tomorrow so we're doubly excited about seeing her. I'm so excited about mom finally getting to meet her tomorrow, too! Then Thursday is medical appointments and shopping, Friday will be court and then--she's OURS!

~ Jeana