Sunday, January 31, 2010

Here they are!



This is Olive starting to repeat 'ma' for "more" - she has to be extremely motivated and in the right mood, but she will do it!



Karl realized that if he would blow on Olive's face - she would have the newborn reflex. lol



Olive learns that it's fun to dance with her daddy :)



Karl and Olive make a game of taking her socks off. She is really starting to open up and giggle now.



Tickle fun :)



This is what Olive does when she sees us now :)

I don't know why I always end up behind the camera! I promise I spend just as much time with her as Karl does!

Our visit went really well tonight. There was actually a couple visiting their son who they allow to live at the institution.
My can NOT wrap around it. They were so good with him, it was obvious that they loved him and that they know how to be good parents - but yet they still leave him there and only visit occasionally. What's even more sad is that it obviously disturbs the little boy and confuses him. He has MANY institutional behaviors even when they are playing with him actively.
Anyway - we had to share the single visitation room (aka storage room) and so it was a little strange.
But she was very giggly and VERY happy to see us - because we had to miss our morning visit due to touristy things that our facilitator planned for us. And we were VERY happy to see her too.

We got to skype for a bit with the kids this afternoon - and Evelyn seemed in much better spirits, which helped me to have a better day.

It's very cold here, and I am running out of steam. I am going to try and get to bed early tonight and catch up.

Tomorrow we will find out if the minister signs, if not - hopefully on Tuesday. We will have a much better idea of our timeline left here once he signs. We have to have our court date, and then we have to do the passport and the visa and the paperwork, interviews, and medical exams that go with that. It will likely take 3 or 4 (at most) business days after the ceremony to get all of that done.
If we were to have our ceremony on Wednesday (praying!) we could potentially leave Monday afternoon if everything went quickly and perfectly. It's more likely that we are to leave on Tuesday or Wednesday. Depending on the cost to change our flights, and the time line will depend on how early, if at all we will be able to leave.

We will see!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Too tired

I keep promising updates and video - but I am just TOO TIRED! soon, promise (again!) :)

Tonight I'm a little emotionally spent to blog.
We had to leave Olive with nurses that just couldn't care less tonight, and seeing my baby girl (Evelyn) at home sick and crying has made me very sad.
She lost the sparkle and excitement in her face when she saw us this evening on skype, she just looked sick, sad, and home-sick. And I have to say I am feeling the same too.
We've never left our kids longer than a weekend - and now that all the excitement and adrenaline has gone, I'm just plain ready to bring Olive home, and snuggle my kids.

Friday, January 29, 2010

A little less detail..

It is killer trying to keep up with everything - all the exhausting walking (about 8 miles a day!), spending 6-7 hours in the storage room, and then having just enough time to skype with the kids in the afternoon, check emails and load videos (which takes forever!)... to go to bed and do it again the next day.
I will hopefully be able to catch up when we have Olive in the apartment, and we have more down time.

A few things I did want to blog about for other families thinking about coming here:
1. bring little rolls of toilet paper with you every where you go. Usually there isn't any in the bathroom by the 'visitation room'.
2. The kids are double diapered, so when you first meet your bubs - they will look like they have the biggest butt in the world - but it's just two massive diapers.
3. There are a pack of dogs, and a white misfit dog that you will see occasionally by the orphanage - I wouldn't pet them, but they are friendly. And the white patchy dog could use some hand outs... because the pack of dogs chase him off every time he finds food. He'll take it - but you have to be very quiet about it - otherwise you alert the pack, and they chase him off before he can eat it.
4. Consider the idea of leaving this place better than when you came to it. If you're a Christian family, it's a great opportunity to SHOW Christ's love. (I wouldn't talk about it outright, they might take offense if you don't have that relationship first) Bring and extra $20 and exchange it for small dinar bills or coins, and give them to the many poor people digging through trash cans and begging in the streets. Be on the look out for little old ladies that need help walking down the street hills... buy a loaf of bread and tie it to the side of a garbage can (that's the tradition here, and how they feed their homeless and needy, there are no homeless shelters or half way houses for them). Bring a few bucks to buy some dog treats, or to buy bread (very cheap) for the stray dogs...
and PLEASE bring gifts for the orphanage, and the staff! They could really use it! They could use mobiles for the cribs, and things that can attach to the cribs for the kids to play with. They have a bucket in every room of floor toys -but they don't put them in the cribs. There are a few cribs in each room that have something attached to the crib - but they could definitely use more! When you see some of these children laying in their cribs 20 hours a day doing NOTHING (and some of them just crying and crying, and rocking, and hitting themselves) you will understand why not going out to eat for a month to save money for crib toys is SO important in their lives.
Even if you're not going to be coming here, you can always seek someone that is - and send money with them to buy them here :) It would make a huge difference.

We are off to our first weekend visit - we're showing a little late because I just couldn't get up this morning.
I WILL upload those videos and pictures, and respond to emails soon - we're just so tight on time :)

Day 5

This morning we got a late start (by about 10 minutes or so) and Olive had lunch a little early... so it was a shorter visit today.
Olive was most definitely excited to see us this morning. She did not want to wait to get her diaper changed before she came to us.
But, it was a blessing for little 'Millica' (spelling, I have no clue) - because she was out on the floor crawling and came to the door by me.
She is an adorable little blonde, that is probably in 18-24 months clothing.
I probably am not suppose to - but I was a little bold, and bent down in the door way and played with her.
She was STARVING for attention, and giggled the most adorable little goose honk when I would tickle her.
She wanted me to pick her up so badly, but I didn't want to get in trouble.
The nurses don't know English - so I was afraid to get yelled at in Serbian and have no idea what they were saying.
They don't seem to like us even looking in the rooms.
But, I tickled her for a few minutes, and I would rub and hold her hands, and her face - and she LOVED it.
She would make SUCH a wonderful affectionate little bug of a daughter for someone - but her parents haven't released their rights.
I have been making comments to Jasmina about how lovely she is, and telling her that an American family would love to snatch her up.
Today I think she started to get the hint, and she said that her parents haven't contacted about her in a year or two, and that she might contact her center, and see what could be done.
I am PRAYING that is true - because she NEEDS a family. She is NOT happy being in her crib by herself.
She spends a lot of the day crying out for attention - but is extremely happy when she gets it.
If she were available, and we had the money - I would come back for her in a heart beat.
I am going to see if Jasmina will let me take a picture of her, and tell her I bet we could find a family if she were exposed.

Jasmina said that the paperwork is going well, the ministry has the paperwork, and she expects them to give it to the Minister's cabinet on Monday - and hopefully he will sign on Monday or Tuesday.
If that is the case, we will go the next day or so (likely wednesday or thursday) to Roma, Serbia for the adoption ceremony. Because Olive is the first international adoption from Roma, they want Olive to come with. So she will get ready to be checked out on Wednesday or Thursday morning to go to court with us - and she will not ever have to go back!
I can not wait for the day!

We are all getting a little stir crazy in the storage room that we play in. It's pretty small, and its delightful the first day or two, tolerable the third and forth day, and now I'm starting to dread being cooped up in it.

I've been trying to get my eye on "Lisette" - but she's in a room the opposite way of Olive's and the nurses she's had recently are not the nicer ones... I also want to get a peek at the newborn sounding baby that we have heard crying every day. If she/he isn't newborn, they sure are little!

I have some video and pictures I have to load - but we're going to have lunch first...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Day 4

Well, I'm going to start with some info from day 3 anyway...
Dogs and cats are like raccoons in the states (if they weren't nocturnal).
They are always hanging out by trash cans, and running in the ally.
Yesterday there was a medium sized black dog that followed us in the ally way on our way home after our PM visit..
He came right up to us and started rubbing his head on our hands and legs...
So I pet him, not thinking anything of it. He seemed pretty friendly..
Well come to find out he was OVERLY friendly.
This little guy wasn't interested in the food we offered him, but he was most definitely interested in our lovin's.
When I would try to stop petting him, he would growl at me and the hair on his back would go up!
Who would have guessed!?
He followed us a few blocks, and finally we out walked him... but it was so strange!
I've never been afraid to NOT pet a dog. lol

The visits are getting much more routine now.
She expects us to come get her from her room, and is starting to get sad when we leave her.
We bought some new toys for her this afternoon for our evening visit because she was getting bored with the same ones.
We're going to rotate them every other day now.
We brought new born toys -but I think she needs the next stage up. So that's what we got and we will see how she reacts to them today.
Her stamina for crawling is getting better and she is able and willing to go about 5-6 feet now instead of a maximum of 4.
We spent our morning visit dancing again, which she really likes...
and we saw her little belly and legs because she had a sleeper on that we unbuttoned and looked.
She is SO tiny, and is covered in pox marks from when she had chicken pox in the summer.
But she is SO cute!

I had to get a new pair of boot today, because my suede boots would soak through every time, and give me FROZEN feet.
Note to families that might be traveling here soon: if it's going to be raining or snowing - bring or buy leather or rubber boots!
There is no escaping puddles and deep snow when you walk!
You can buy really nice boots here for $15-$40 - so if you're tight on space, just buy them here :)
Same with formula and baby bottles, they're the same price, or actually usually about 1/2 the price here. So save your space :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Remembering is harder than you'd think!

Every day here feels SO long! It's so hard to remember everything that we've done.
This morning, I didn't get off to a good start - we didn't realize that we had to have a switch turned on for hot water - so I couldn't take a shower.
I had to go to our visit looking absolutely gross and frustrated because our second converter fried.

It was 22 degrees out, and snowing pretty hard - so we took a cab this morning. From our apartment it's about $3.10 if you hale one down.

Our morning visit went very well. She wasn't so much excited to see us, but more seemed like she expected us. I suppose that's good.

She felt a little warm this morning, so I'm not sure she was feeling well.
But after about a half hour of cuddles she was pleased as punch again.
We were naughty last night - and during our evening visit we took off her pants and tights to see her little feet...

And oh my Lord - this child is SKIN AND BONE! She is so incredibly tiny on her lower half - I'd be surprised if she has any muscle on her little legs. It's no wonder why she refuses to bear weight on them.

We brought the camera this morning and got some more video.

She knows the 'more' sign, and uses it when SHE wants to.

She is just like our Evelyn - she'll do it when and how she wants it. Stubborn like her mama.

She also is starting to say her first word! 'ma' for 'more'!

And gave her daddy a big kiss on the lips today!

As if she wasn't making enough progress in just 3 days - she learned to be ticklish today!
She hated it at first, but with enough showing, she started to like it!

And even better - Jasmina wrote our report to the officials a day earlier than scheduled! yay!

After our morning visit we went back to the apartment and had lunch, and took it pretty easy until we headed back for our evening visit.

We walked that time - and my boots sure aren't water proof!

Olive was definitely happy to see us this evening - and tonight's visit was great.
She was much more relaxed with us, and instead of liking us for the fact that we make her day more enjoyable - she actually started showing some signs of preferring us, and enjoyed our affection.

Karl danced with her tonight (in a funny bouncy way) and she was giggling her head off!

She is REALLY coming a LONG way in just 3 days!

My understanding is that Jasmina is going to give her report to the ministry tomorrow morning, and then they have to write their report - and get the minister to sign it in agreement that we are the best option for Olive, and we can adopt her.

Then they have to tell the people in Roma, and arrange a court date.
Once we have court, we can take Olive from the orphanage and have about a week left of paperwork to get done to get her ready to leave Serbia and come in to the states.

Things are going well so far and we hope you'll pray with us that we will be able to get home 'early'!

Now for what you want to see:



This last one is where Karl realized that Olive still has the newborn reflex of gasping when you blow on her face... it was too funny

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What a long day!

Today was a blur - so I'm just going to give a quick run down so I can head to bed.
I am pooped!

Okay, so we got up early, walked to the orphanage in the freeezing cold.
got Olive from her room and again she was happy to see us.
We played for a little while - and then we went to the main office on the main floor of the orphanage - where we were invited to watch a Serbian Orthodox Religious ritual for the holiday, Saint Sava.
It was very interesting to see, and I wish our camera batteries weren't dead - so we could have taken some video.
We got to see little Srecko there - and he was such a doll! He was giggly, and goofy, and had such a good spirit about him.
After that we went back to the room, where we proceeded to play throw and drop everything over and over and over and over and over - for hours.
Olive got a kick out of it. Mommy and Daddy got a little bored with it.
But it was a pleasure to just be with her.
She decided that she liked to take a pacifier, and a while after that decided that the Eucerine lotion bottle we brought to put on her face and hands was the best thing on earth.
She even started to sign 'more' for it!
She didn't put it down (unless it was to throw it down in play very occasionally) for hours.
She seemed a little over stimmed this morning, so we had a nice and quiet visit, fed her her lunch (which she loves to eat!) and then headed out.

After we left the orphanage we decided to take a cab back to the apartment to save time, we came in, dropped off the baby garb, and went out to the market. We bought some eggs, pickled spicy pepper sauce, dried cranberries, some smoked 'cheese from cow' (apparently there is no other type here. lol), hamburger, and what we think might be bacon... then we went to the apoteka (drug store) to get a baby bottle & some banana flavored rice cereal. When we went to a indoor market (grocery store) to buy some hamburger buns, butter, juice and frozen green beans. And get this - we got all of that for about $15.00!

By the time we got back, unloaded, and reloaded baby stuff - it was time to go back to the orphanage.
Our second visit was much more lively.
Olive was very excited to see us - and she was much more comfortable with us this time.
We fed her snack right away, and the girl loves to eat!
She played the pick it up, and then drop it game for forever again ;)
Towards the end, she enjoyed getting cuddles and kisses and nibbles from us.
Before, she would tolerate it - but she actually started to enjoy it.
We learned that she could crawl today. But, she can only make it a few feet before she gets to tired.
She was crawling on her elbows for a little while before we got here, but today she started to crawl on her hands and knees! :)
Other than the pick it up and throw it game, we did 'Pat-a-Cake' - and she LOVED it! She was giggling up a storm!
We fed her dinner, and she was tired, so we gave her back to her favorite nursey to go to sleep.
That particular nurse is so good with the kids - there is a little blind boy in the room next to Olive (a room which she also takes care of) that she will put on loud music for, and dance around with him. It is SO stinkin' cute. You can tell she actually likes the children, and enjoys her job.
After the visit was over, we picked up dinner (pizza and some eggroll tasting pastry) for only $3.00!
We came home, we ate, we updated, and now we are off to bed!




Monday, January 25, 2010

What a glorious day!

Our morning started off early..
Karl and I got up plenty ahead of time because I planned to send him to get me a voltage converter so I could use my hair straightener... but the place didn't carry it.
So, we got ready, and I made some french toast... but didn't have any syrup. oops.

We walked to St. Sava and met Jasmina in the front, and walked to the ministry building for our appointment, where we met Jasna (our lawyer and translator), Olive's psychologist, Olive's social worker from Roma, Olive's psychologist from Roma - who is also her guardian, and all the ministry team.
We all sat around a table, and introduced ourselves and went through all the formalities.
I was super nervous beforehand, and wasn't sure what I would say if they asked any 'hard' questions.
But everyone was SUPER nice, and supportive, and courteous.

We learned a lot about Olive's family - that she is from Roma heritage (a minority that's often discriminated against in Serbia) and her mother was a gypsy. Olive's mother had mental health issues, and wasn't stable. She had four other children, and she and all her children were 'illegitimate' making it near impossible to build a family tree or medical background.

Olive's mother relinquished all of her other children shortly after birth because she wasn't able to take care of them, and the social workers aren't sure where they were - there wasn't accurate paperwork because her mother moved around a lot.

Olive's mother wanted to take care of Olive - she did not want to give her up - even with her disability.

She lived in a gypsy village, and her neighbors and friends tried to help her raise Olive the best they could. They were very poor, so at some point she had to move to make ends meet - and moved to a near by village. She stayed there for some months and tried to do her best to stay alive and well... but some of her neighbors had to call child protective services when they went in and saw that both Olive and her mother were both doing very very poorly.
Olive was so sick and undernourished that she had to go to the hospital to be brought back to health.

From there, they decided to put her in a temporary foster home while they evaluated the mother - they couldn't find a foster home willing to take her - and the mother didn't seem interested in getting her back. So they decided that it was best to put her in the 'child care institution' aka the orphanage.

She was admitted at 18 months old, and the father on her birth certificate was said to not be her natural father according to her mother - and she wasn't able to tell them who was. The man on the birth certificate died, and her mother's rights were terminated.

Unfortunately Olive's biological mother wasn't well enough mentally to understand the adoption process, and so she wasn't included.

We were told about Olive's development so far - and her psychologist said that before she was completely unresponsive, and showed no interest in toys, caregivers, or anything.
But in the last few months she has started to enjoy toys, and bonded to one of her nurses. (Answered prayer!)

She said that Olive use to just lay there and put her hand so far down her throat she swears she'd be able to touch her stomach.
But in the last few months she has grown in every way - developmentally, socially, and physically. (Answered prayer!)

We were told the whole process and everything that needs to be done - and it's going to be a very busy couple of weeks.

This week our main priority is to visit with her twice a day for long visits so that way they can be supervised, and Jasmina can write her report stating that she feels we will be a good match for Olive.
She will then forward it to the social center, and they will have to write their report that they feel we would be a good match.
They will then send those reports to the ministry team - and they will write up a report that says they agree with the other reports, and that they give their consent for us to adopt her.
Then they have to give that report to the minister, and he has to sign it in consent to us adopting her.

While that's happening, we have to get her passport photos arranged, and start getting the court date set up for her adoption ceremony.

After her ceremony (likely next friday or early the following week) we will be able to take Olive from the orphanage, and she is officially ours. That's when we have to get all the paperwork in order for her to actually leave the country with us.
We're praying that everything goes smoothly!

After the ministry appointment we headed to the orphanage to meet Olive.
Everyone chatted a bit in the lobby - and then we went in this totally old school elevator up to her floor.

We weren't sure what to expect at all - they showed us to her room, and immediately I wanted to walk in and grab her. But they wouldn't allow us in the room with our shoes on.

Olive was slumped over in her walker, sleeping and her nurse shook her awake a bit and scooted her towards us... she looked at us, and started grunting excitedly and reached up for us. I SWEAR she knew us. She was excited that we were there! And we both totally believe that it was God's fulfillment of our prayers!

Also, she has a nurse that she LOVES! And who loves her.
And that is an answer to our prayers. And we got to meet her. Olive completely lit up when she came in the room.

Olive is completely in love with her daddy.
She loves anything he does.
She loves to slap his bald head! lol
She doesn't seem to like his beard though.
They played and played and played, and she would just giggle, and giggle at him.
Her favorite toy was the beads :)

After a long, long play time - she started to get tired.
So we rocked and cuddled for a long time.

At the very end, she started screaming this horrific scream.
They told us it was because she was either tired or hungry - and insisted on bringing her back to her crib.

She laid in her crib for about a half hour just screaming and crying - and it seriously put me in so much stress. I wanted so badly to tell them to stop torturing my poor baby and let me comfort or feed her! But, they were doing the best that they knew to do...

When we were going to leave, Jasmina let us poke our heads in to the different rooms that were on Olive's hallway... and on our way out we poked our head in her room to see how she was doing. She stopped crying as soon as she saw us and get this - she signed "more"!
We were practicing signing "more" the whole time today - and she remembered and asked for more of us!!!

Right as we were going to walk out - her nurse signaled to us that she fell asleep...

We are so head over heals in love with her already!
I can't wait to go back tomorrow!

After we left the orphanage we got 'bourick' (no idea how to spell it) - and it was SO tasty. We had to walk about a half hour home in the FREEEEEEZING cold before we could enjoy it though. But you can't beat 3 pieces of meat/pastries for $2.75! and they sure were yummy!

Shortly after that, our landlord Ivan (super nice guy!) took us to the police station to register that we were here. He showed us a really nice looking bakery that I think we'll try in the morning. We have ran out of food in the apartment, and haven't had time to make it to the market. Hopefully tomorrow. Like I said before, our apartment is so excellently placed that everything is with in 2 miles!

And now that I have spewed WAY too much information out! Here is what you really want to see:







We have met her!


We are SO in love.
She is such a doll!
We have to go register with the police with a guy that doesn't have time to do it other than now - so we will update bigger later :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pictures from the walk



This is the view outside our window at night... so beautiful!


This is what the street signs look like. We took a picture to remember what street to turn on when we go to the ministry tomorrow :)

This is St. Sava - beautiful!


Another one of the churches
You can see the mother and other people standing in front of the church waiting for the Service to get out so they can ask for money..

We didn't take more pictures because it was so cold out, and our fingers were freezing.

Cheap eats...

We're staying at a really nice apartment, where the US Embassy workers live, and just down the road there is a 'fast food' place that we wanted to try...
So we walked that way to find out they're closed...
So, we go to the electronics place a few blocks down to get a current converter... and they're closed...
So we just opt to come back home and stop at the small little store that is literally on the corner to pick up some things for dinner.
They didn't have what we were looking for (butter or meat or cheese for our pasta) but they did have a huge loaf of bread, a local beer, and a 'diplomat' cake (like DQ's ice cream cake)... which we got ALL of that for about $2.75 USD!

The place we're staying is a little more expensive than all the other places you'll find - but the location is awesome and there are a ton of little places to shop and eat, and exchange money with in a few blocks.
We're really enjoying it.

We have our appointment at 11am tomorrow and meet Olive at 1!!!

A long walk..

We walked our buns off today!
Jasmina met us at our apartment 10:30am and we walked until now - 1:37pm
We walked ALL OVER the place.
We saw all the churches, markets, stores, restaurants, and sites.
It was so much fun.
We got a bag of the best home baked salted almonds from the open market to munch on while we walked and she told us what to expect during our process.
She said that she will try and get us home faster - but that sometimes it just can't happen.
(and no I didn't ask or bring it up)
A lot of it depends on how quickly other people get their part done.

She told us a little about Olive.
Jasmina confirmed for us that our prayers have been working for Olive! She said a few months ago something changed in her for no reason - and she started connecting with people, and smiling and growing! Obviously she didn't know that she was confirming our prayers were answered -but it was pretty cool!
She said that they took her to the endocrinologist recently to see why she was so small - and they said nothing is wrong with her hormonally.
And get this - she's sitting now!
Jasmina said she use to just lay there with her hand down her throat, and wouldn't connect with anyone.
But she has a nurse that has bonded with her (we had been praying for that!) and she has started to open up! She sits now, and she is getting chunkier, and she is smiling, and connecting now! She'll even give you a dirty look if she doesn't like what you're doing!

Belgrade is a nice place - it has a TON of history, and character - but it's a shame that it seems like all the buildings are just falling apart.

There was a little girl that came up to us in front of one of the churches that was asking Jasmina to ask us for money.
Jasmina told her to go by her mother (who was also begging) and the little girl said so snottily (but totally cute) 'no, i don't want to' and then turned to us and asked if we have money. (Obviously Jasmina translated it for us) I wanted so badly to give her some money but we only had 1,000 dinar bills on us (which is 1/2 our daily food expenditure) and Jasmina said she doesn't like begging. We have some change at home, and some smaller bills, so we put them in our pocket incase we run in to them again. Her mom had another little kid, and a brand new baby wrapped to her stomach.

It's very religious here, but I don't think that many people really know or love Jesus.
It's sad.
There are so many poor children, and old women, and stray animals that are begging to survive and I wish I could give them all money and hugs and help in some way.

Belgrade could really use some missionary families and church plants.

All in all - it's been a great day so far.
We're both totally pooped.
And we're both REALLY excited for tomorrow!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Early Rising..

Our voltage converter fried. The computer is running off of battery until we can get a new one. It's about 6AM here. I went to bed around 10PM and can't sleep any more. I'm hoping to call our landlord around 8-9 to see if we can't get a converter quickly! Heard a cat screeching for about 15 minutes this morning! We are going to be a lot of walking in the freeeeezing cold today - praying that my tired body can make it!


LATER: our computer cord will convert the volts for us! yay!

We're here!

We are here! We had some major issues finding our gate at O’Hare. Four people sent us to four different places, and thankfully the last knew what she was doing and we JUST made our flight. We were sweating head to toe from running all over the place, back and forth, with all our things in tow.
The flight here was VERY long... and we tried to sleep - but didn’t get much. I haven’t gotten more than 8-10 hours of sleep since I woke up Thursday. I’m actually feeling a little wobbly and strange as I write this... a sure sign that I need to get to bed. If you plan to travel to Serbia or across seas... pay for the extra leg room! I don't know what the extra would be, but I'm sure it'd be worth it!
We were really thankful to get off of the very crowded long flight to Germany, and get on our last plane ride to Belgrade. Luckily it wasn't all that long, and the flight attendants were really nice.

One thing that was really cool is that we got to fly over the Alps. They were so beautiful!
When we got here, our facilitator picked us up from the airport, and drove us to our apartment. She helped to get us set up here, and then took off until tomorrow.

Our apartment ‘guy’ Ivan (Igor) was very nice and helpful and showed us to the money exchange place and to the market to buy some food.
We got some fresh bread, baby gouda cheese, pasta, and sauce, and some jam for the leftover bread all for about $20USD. It fed us dinner today, and hopefully will feed us through tomorrow too.
It’s an adventure so far! We’ve never traveled before so it’s a little bit nerve wrecking - but it’s still fun.
Drivers here are CRAZY! and I wouldn't be surprised if I don't get hit by one while walking while I'm here. lol
The apartment we're in is BEAUTIFUL! It's really nice - but I'm surprised at how run down the surrounding buildings are... kind of sad really.
And the power keeps going out... : /
I wish I had an idea of what every was saying. It's quite strange to sit in a room full of people who are all yapping away about you - and you have NO idea what they're talking about. Hopefully not bad things!
I also wish that I had a better bearing on the dinar/euro/dollar conversion - I know what they are - but it's really hard to make decisions on the fly when you're trying to stick to a budget in a crowded market - especially when you're not even positive what you're buying! LOL.
I've already had to ask about 5 people if they spoke English to get help. haha. You'll have better luck with the nice looking young women than anyone else for that.

It was great being able to talk to the kids tonight on Skype. I miss them already!
Karl couldn’t take it anymore, and is crashed on the couch.
I still have to unpack us, double check through our money situation, and put clothes out for tomorrow after I clean up after dinner’s mess.


I’m having a cup of tea, and after all that, it's hopefully a warm shower, and I will be OUT! I am SO tired!
I can’t wait to meet Olive on Monday!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tomorrow is the day that we leave on a incredibly long international flight as the first step towards actually meeting our daughter.
WE ARE SO READY!
Well, not literally - there are still things to do tomorrow.
But, we are so anxious to get there!
I have a feeling that Saturday and Sunday waiting to meet Olive will feel very long... but in God’s perfect timing!
We are so thankful for all of the people who are going out of their way to help us, and for all of the people who have gone out of their way to help us get to where we are.
We are really blessed, and we are very thankful!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

My darling Evelyn

Let me preface with the fact that she is just being a goof for reactions...


Tonight before bed, I decided to practice using and uploading a video from a camera my girlfriend Jen loaned to us for while we're in Serbia....
Evelyn and I were practicing saying the words she knows, and she started going in to this goofy little devil girl mode she does sometimes...
She has three voices, her normal perky chipmunk voice, whispering, and devil girl.
This is a video of her slipping in and out of devil girl while practicing her words...
it was too funny....

As far as adoption related news - we are 90% packed.
We have to do some rearranging and adding of things we bought today (travel soap, etc)..
We still have to figure out how we're going to handle either carrying our money, or pulling it out of the bank there, etc. We're going to go in to our bank and talk to them on Tuesday.
There is still a lot I'd like to do around the house - and we're running out of time.
I was going full steam for a while there, but I'm definitely losing it.
Hopefully with a good nights rest tonight, I'll be able to be back at it tomorrow....
The kids haven't been sleeping at night - so prayers for that would be lovely!
4.5 days! 7.5 days until we meet our little girl!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I wonder....

There is a beautiful poem written by Chris & Mary Malone (http://www.themalonefamily.us) that's often posted by Reece's Rainbow families 10 days before traveling... let's say it's an emerging tradition - and we are so grateful to be apart of it!

"I wonder...when it was 10 days before I met God and He adopted me, was HE this excited?

I wonder if His stomach did flips and He got tears in His eyes when He thought about holding me for the first time.

I wonder if His heart ached when He thought about my life without Him as my Daddy.

I wonder if it grieved Him to know that I was living as an orphan and had no hope of a future without Him.

I wonder if He was as okay with paying my ransom as I am with paying our girl's.

I wonder if, for Him, there was no cost too high, no sacrifice too great.

I wonder..."

Monday, January 11, 2010

Evelyn's baby...



Evelyn decided that these flushable cloth diaper liners were her baby for the afternoon...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Just 12 days!

I can not believe that we only have 12 days until we leave.
Every time I take something off of my to-do list I add like three more!
At this rate we'll never be ready to go!
Obviously, realistically all we'd HAVE to do is pack our clothes and gifts and go -- but you know what I mean!
I'm most definitely nesting, and have SO many things I'd like to do before we leave, knowing there won't be much time when we get her home.

Just 12 days until we leave, and 14 days until we meet our beautiful little girl.

Birthday Partying.

We had a wonderful 3rd birthday party for Ethan this afternoon. Simple, and wonderful.
It's too bad I forgot to bring my camera.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Crossing them off...

It feels good to get things crossed off of my huge white board ‘to-do’ list.
There is a lot to be done before we leave to get Olive.
We bought matching outfits for the girls to wear during our open house.

We’re planning on having an open invitation ‘meet and greet Olive’ type thing on February 14th if all goes as planned.
I’ll make an official announcement as soon as we’ve got all the details ironed out.
We also got Olive’s crib set up, and put the sheets and blankets on. That felt wonderful - as it is really starting to feel like she’s coming home soon with her crib up, and clothes hanging about.
I made an appointment for a phone conference with her pediatrician for medicine for the long flight home, and made an appointment for me with my doctor’s for medicine for my long flight there! I’m hoping to sleep :)
We have bought clothing and shoes for all the other children in the orphanage, booked our plane tickets, sent in our registration form for our apartment, and down loaded skype.
I made a little book for Olive to look at while we’re there, and I’m nearly finished with a book for the kids to look at while we’re gone. (Love mypublisher!)

There are other little things that we’ve done too - but it’s quite late at night and my brain is really slowing.
And Evelyn hasn’t been sleeping through the night - and insists on laying on top of either Karl or I. So we're praying for good sleep, piece of mind, trust in God that all the little details will work themselves out!

Oh, and our boy turns 3 tomorrow! I am so proud of my wonderfully handsome and pleasant little man. We love him so much!

Big boy!

EHTAN WENT POOP ON THE POTTY! POOPY PARTY TONIGHT! PIZZA, POPCORN, CAKE, AND MOVIE WITH FRIENDS. Thank you Lord Jesus, please let him continue to poop on the toilet and not in is pants or diaper!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My boy is three today.

I said to Ethan this morning, "happy birthday! you're three!" when he first walked in to my room. He said, "I don't want to be three!". Me, "what do you want to be?" Ethan, "Just two". I proceeded to sing happy birthday to him, and he said, "I don't want to hear it". LOL wonder who he got that from....

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Shopping done!

I can't believe that we are leaving in 19 days!
It feels surreal. But I am very excited.
We got our shopping done today.
I am very happy with our deal seeking - and got a lot of bang for our bucks!
We even came up $80 under budget for gifts, and every one should be pleased (we hope!)

Tonight I groomed Ceazer, our big dog. I still need to do his nails though.
And I made a photo book for Olive to look at and learn who her siblings and grandparents are.
I'm also going to make a small photo book of signs that we plan on using with her.
Partially for her, but mainly for us to remember them! lol.
But, it will be useful I think.

It feels good to check things of the old 'to-do' list and know we're getting close!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

We got lucky!

We got lucky with deals today! Both Target and Meijer had sales on all of their toddler clothing - and we raked in huge amounts of clothes for the money we budgeted to spend for gifts for the children on Olive's floor.
We got 18 pairs of socks,
6 pairs of shoes,
4 pairs of tights,
22 tops, both long sleeved t-shirts and sweatshirts
14 pairs of pants...

ALL FOR $180! That's an average of $2.80/piece! God is good!

Family Picture Fun

It had been WAY too long since we took pictures of the kids and us.
So last night we had a little family picture fun.
The kids love running back and forth and rolling all over the white background.



































She's a big girl now!

Evelyn slept in her 'big girl bed' for the first time last night.
I anticipate that there may be a few falls before she realizes that there isn't a wall to hold her in anymore... but hopefully the carpet will pad her a bit.
I can't believe she's already in to her 'big girl bed'... I feel like I just had her a few months ago.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Shopping...

I get to go shopping for little kid shoes tomorrow.
Our facilitator said that they always need shoes in size 17/18 European size, which if I'm understanding correctly would be a size 1.5 to 2.5 kids shoes.
I also plan to get gifts for the ministry officials 3 women, and 2 men - I'm not quite sure what we'll get them yet... But we'll figure something out.

Only 3 weeks to go :)