Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The List

So many people have asked me what we need but I'm always caught off guard and unprepared for an answer so I am going to attempt a list on the blog. I know Facebook would make more sense, but it would take forever to tag all the appropriate people so I'm just going to send them to our blog for this info. If you have no desire to know what we still need feel free to use your time in other more productive ways than reading this post........
Okay, we now have all the correct people reading so here goes nothing.

Meal Supplies: Bowls, spoons, forks, bibs, sippy cups (we have been using Take-n-Toss so anything similar), table mats for restaurants, mat to go under the high chair
Diaper Supplies: Diapers in size 3 (I currently prefer Pampers and Luvs, but I really don't care yet), wipes, diaper rash cream, baby powder, a travel changing pad (I can't find ours?), Little Swimmers
Bath Time Supplies: A tray or net to corral all the toys for the tub, towels, wash cloths, someone to come fix the drain on our tub. No, seriously could someone come fix it? It has not drained properly in the almost 4 years we have lived here and J.J. and I have just lived with it, but it makes bathing an almost two year old who is convinced if there is water he should still be in the tub much more difficult. It also makes keeping the tub clean so much work because stuff just settles instead of getting sucked down the drain. Anyway, just thought I'd throw that out there. You can't say I'm not giving you a variety of gift options!
Misc. Stuff: Memory card for the camera =), any kind of baby medicine (we just don't have any yet), one of those things that covers the shopping cart, a hands-free carrier (he might outgrow it fast but it would still be nice), picture frames, crib sheets
Toys/Clothing: He really has an abundance of toys and clothing already, but since I know those are the fun things to buy I guess you can get some if you just can't help yourselves. Xavier is currently wearing size 12 months tops and bottoms, but the bottoms have to be all elastic waist or they fall down. I know the temptation is to buy larger sizes as well, but I just don't know how fast he will grow. If we end up with a bunch of 18 month summer clothes they may not do us any good because he might not be big enough to wear them until the weather gets cooler. Just keep that in mind. He actually needs some 12 month clothing that will work better for church and other occasions for dressing up. He is wearing size 5 shoes. He does need socks. If you want to get a toy he loves anything that spins, has wheels, plays music, or involves hitting (hammers, drums, etc). His mother loves books and art supplies. Also just something to keep in mind. =) His father, who probably spends more time playing directly with Xavier and the toys, likes anything sports related and dinosaurs. Once again, lots of options.

I hope that helps. He is doing just fine really. We have our basics covered, but I really appreciate your generosity and willingness to help us as we learn about the incredible amount of stuff children seem to require. Maybe require is not the word, but you know what I mean. Thanks again!

Happy Belated Father's Day

Yes, I know the middle picture is a little blurry, but it was so cute that I had to include it. I used the almost full memory card again so I only had a few snaps available. If you don't look at Cake Wrecks J.J.'s cake won't make much sense, but trust me when I say it is funny. I hope you all had a great Father's Day. I know we did!

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Xavier Update

I am coming to terms with some of the new realities in our lives. Don't get me wrong, I am so happy to finally have our son home, but any change, good or bad, takes some adjustment. I have developed some new strategies but I will save those for another post. For now I will focus on Xavier because I learned long before I had a child of my own that once you become a parent you also become chopped liver. People only ask about your child. They want to see pictures of the child. You lose your name and become the child's mom/dad. This is normal, so this post is for all you Xavier crazy people out there. We started our journey home on a Thursday morning. Dimitri is so thorough that he wants you to leave for your flight ridiculously early so even though our flight didn't leave until 1:00pm we left the hotel around 9:00am. His paranoia turned out to be a good thing for once. We got stuck in traffic. They shut down the road to the airport because Putin was using the airport that day as well. Xavier threw up for the first time in poor Natalia's van. I really think it was a combination of the heat and the stop/start motion of the car. He perked right up when we got to the airport. We have put a ton of thought into the long flight from Moscow to New York and carefully picked the seats behind the bulk head to give us maximum room. Xavier had a "infant in arms" ticket which did not reserve him a seat, but we ended up with a patient seat mate who was going to Las Vegas. He didn't actually say that but I was nosy and read his customs entry paperwork while he filled it out. He did introduce himself and made a few short attempts at conversation. Xavier was not a true lap child because he was up and down most of the flight. He played well on the floor between our feet. He slept the first 45 minutes and the last 2 plus hours of that flight. He colored in the books I carefully saved just for this flight so they would be special. I gave in on my TV hiatus and let him watch Charlie Brown and Elmo on the little screen in front of my seat. He really seemed to like Elmo. I am keeping that information in the back of my brain for just such another emergency situation. He did not want to walk in the aisle. In the airport in New York he was silly tired and he refused to be still in case he just might fall asleep. The next flight found us all sitting on the plane waiting out a thunderstorm for around 2 hours. Xavier slept the whole time!! He slept until we arrived in Detroit where a thrilled brand new mother got to sleep in a real bed in America for the first time. I learned from our first trip and I carefully researched and reserved a room at the hotel in the airport. It was totally worth it. I only wish I had been more awake so I could have enjoy the whole experience. Xavier slept again through the night in the hotel room. He slept again for a little while on the final flight to OKC. He got fussy toward the end, but he was ready for his big arrival as his grandparents came to the airport to meet us. It was a wonderful low key welcome home and I was grateful to see everyone and yet not be too fussed over. Xavier had his first Happy Meal and his first ride in a car seat. He fought sleep the whole trip home, but he wasn't overly cranky. He fell asleep within minutes of getting his pajamas on that first night. We've been home a full week now. We've learned some things about him, but I still feel confused so much of the time. He still loves water, even showers. He likes spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, cantelope, anything strawberry, and anything peach. Sometimes he eats well and sometimes he doesn't. Oh, he also enjoys mashed potatoes with chicken strips. Hooray!! He is giving us kisses now. Sometimes he'll give J.J. one without a request. We were worried that J.J.'s new busier schedule might hurt things, and it did stress me out at least, but Xavier still seems to favor his dad when it comes to talking and play time. He can find his nose on request and he can find J.J.'s nose on request. He likes anything with wheels or things that spin. He got a ton of gifts from his Aunt Sady (and Uncle Daniel). I think his favorite was the pinwheel.

He had already been blowing on random toys. We have no idea where that behavior was learned. Maybe dandelions?? They have plenty in Russia. He will bob his head to music sometimes. He does a happy dance in his high chair. He still doesn't like cold drinks or cold things in general. He doesn't love being told that it is bedtime. He doesn't like having his teeth brushed. He doesn't really know what to think of our dogs, but he already loves the cat. Sometimes he will wave and say "BaBa". That is the closest thing to English words, other than "Dada", that we have got out of him. Oh he babbles and squeaks all the time and I'm really not concerned about his progress right now. In fact right now I just want to have some quiet days at home and hopefully this next week will bring a few. Whew! I hope that was enough Xavier-ims for now. =) More to come later.

Monday, June 13, 2011

I'm Back!

Sorry it has taken me so long to post. It sort of feels like I gained a child in Russia but I lost part of my brain. I hate to admit that but I just don't feel like I've got things pulled back together into this new "normal" and this blog is one of those things. Xavier is doing really well. I wish I had some new photos, but we filled the memory card and I haven't tried to delete photos or find the other memory card. We are all at a teenage church camp helping on and off this week. J.J. is there more than the rest of us and I miss him tremendously. I'm ready to have a nice boring quiet summer. It has been nice to praise God with others and hear the Word preached though. Well since I am typing this on my tiny IPod screen and it is after 11:00pm I better call this a good first attempt at blogging post adoption. Thanks for all the prayers during our travels. Things went smoothly for the most part and Xavier handled it so well. He is a little trooper! I'll try to get a real update later this week.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The End and The Beginning

The End and The Beginning

We have almost made it through this adoption journey. When we started this process a year and a half ago I never imagine I would be making a transatlantic flight on my 29th birthday with an almost two year old, but here we are. Our flight leaves tomorrow at 1:00pm Moscow time. I don't know if I will get to or want to blog during our layover in Detroit so this is it for my daily records of our journey. I have every intention of keeping the blog going, but we will see. I have been so blessed to fill this space on the web my thoughts, feelings, and dreams. I have been even more blessed to "meet" so many other families in the same situation in which J.J. and I find ourselves. I was super excited to actually meet another family in person at the embassy on Tuesday. We have been praying for them and following their progress and then we met in person as if on accident but of course those don't really happen. Living in a small community it has been invaluable to me to steal and borrow the ideas and resources from our blogs. Thank you! I will probably never meet most of you in person, but I have been honored to share in your lives and I hope to continue to hear about your growing and changing families. Our own family has changes forever. We have a son! A beautiful, marvelous, silly, curious son! Thank you Xavier Manning for filling our lives with so much joy. People have told me over and over what I wonderful thing we are doing by adopting and I must admit I disagree. I think it a rather selfish thing at times. We wanted this child. We wanted him so much we traveled around the world to bring him home. We had a goal and we worked to make it happen and now we are the ones who get the reward. We have become parents because of this fabulous child. Now the real journey begins. I want to say, just in case I haven't said already, that these first few weeks will be so important for our new family. I know so many people have been involved in this adoption process and we want you to be part of Xavier's life. BUT (notice the big but here) J.J. and I have to be the ones to meet his needs, physically and emotionally. We must be the ones to feed him, change his diapers, give him a sippy, comfort him when he falls, help him go to sleep, give him bathes, etc. Anything that meets a need has to come from us. We want him to interact with others. We want him to meet you and know that he is surrounded with love. At the same time we need you to respect some boundaries as we work through the process of bonding as a family. I truly hope you understand and I believe you do, but if I have to remind you of something or ask you not to do something please try not to take it personally. We have to do what is best for our family. I do plan to have a big blow out birthday party in August if he seems ready to tolerate it. I figure I only have so long to pick the themes for such things so I hope to go with Dr. Seuss! Feel free to wear a crazy hat! Thanks again! We love you all bunches. J.J., Denise & Xavier Manning =)

Day Twenty-Nine

Wow! Almost thirty days! I hope I recognize my house when I finally see it again. We enjoyed yesterday. Natalia came to get us all yesterday morning for our Embassy appointment. Once again we cut everyone in line. The room was full of other adopting families. It was wonderful to be surrounded by people who spoke English and understood exactly where you were coming from. It was one of the best moments of this experience. The nice lady explained our visa paperwork and what will happen when we get back to the grand ol' USA. We had lunch back in the hotel. Then we all headed off to the zoo. Xavier took a 10 minute power nap in his stroller, but he woke up for most of the zoo. He loved the cats, which is so funny because if you know J.J. you know he has a severe dislike for cats. He "meowed" to each one. He also liked the elephant. I think he would have jumped in the enclosure and given the big Ollie a hug. We showed the zoo who was boss. I think we were there from 2:00 until 6:00. We got our 200 rubles worth. Well, I have a wiggly baby and a unhappy husband on baby duty so I better go.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Day Twenty-Eight

Well it is actually only the middle of the day here, but I'm using the Internet access while I can. This morning has been much better. Xavier woke up in a happy mood and he has stayed that way. He seems to be respected our words when we say "No!" better. I know he understand when we say "You want juice?" in Russian and "Where is it?" in Russian. The doctor came early for his Embassy check-up. In fact both boys were still asleep when he called. Xavier is healthy. He is small, but proportionate. The doctor made the cute comment that I'm sure he tells all families about having to keep the girls away when he gets older because of his smile. We asked about the wheezing and coughing. The doctor said mucus/drool is draining back into his throat because he is teething and he doesn't have enough lung strength to cough it up. He said Xavier's lungs sound clear. That was good to hear. I'll share a few recent pictures.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Days Twenty-Six and Twenty-Seven

Sorry about yesterday! We had a long day and we did not have Internet access. We survived our first airplane ride together. It really wasn't that bad. In fact I think Xavier was the best baby on the plane and of course I am not biased. There were a bunch of babies and families on the plane which helped me relax a little. I wasn't the center of the "make your child mind" people's attention. We actually made a friend in line when Xavier dropped his sippy cup and he ended up being our seat mate. That was wonderful because he seemed to care less about the babbling and investigation Xavier did. The plane ride was right in the middle of nap time and we paid for it later. We saw our first real tears at the restaurant that evening. We've seen them several times since then. I think we've gone through the honeymoon phase and moved into the testing phase. It doesn't help that J.J. and I are both worn out and so ready to be out of here. Last night during bath time he kept standing up and then falling down in the tub. Xavier has no aversion to painful things. He has hit his head countless times and only responded once. I didn't want him to get a serious injury so after several warnings I gave up and took him out of the tub. He loves tub time and he was so upset. We've decided to sit in the tub with him tonight. It is really slippery! He cried again big time at bed time, but it really didn't take him long to settle down. I can get so tired playing with him, but as soon as he falls asleep I seem to be wide awake. I stayed up taking a bath and watching random TV. J.J. watched with me. Xavier woke up his more normal cheerful self. We had a nice morning exploring the new breakfast buffet, playing in the room, finding a market close to the hotel. He didn't cry at nap time. We were able to eat a quiet lunch together and relax. Once again he woke up in a good mood, but we were both tired. We played in the room and I decided to let J.J. take over so I could rest. Soon my boys joined me in the bedroom and it became play on the bed time. Then we had a rough spell. Xavier will throw himself down hard! He was flopping all over the bed and it was fine because the bed was soft. Then he did a backwards flop right into J.J. nose. He doesn't hold back so it was a full speed and full strength head fling. I have rarely seen J.J. in such pain. I thought maybe his nose was broken. It seems to be intact, but he might have a black eye. Xavier and I took a walk to let J.J. rest. We talked about being sweet and being careful. It really does scare me how oblivious he is to pain. We came back and played a little more. We decided a hot meal and a change of scenery would does us all some good. Now we are in the restaurant. We all have full bellies and I am hopeful for a less eventful evening. If I don't post everyday from now on don't be surprised. I'm not sure how these last few days will go, but I will try to keep the blog going so I can record our journey, even the not so fun days. P.S. Xavier just tried his first bites of ice cream. He would make this awful face at the cold, but he seemed to love the taste. It was so cute!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Day Twenty-Five

We all slept well last night. Praise the Lord! Xavier woke up on his own around 7:00am. We read some together. He read his colors book and I read the Bible.

Please excuse my scary "I just got out of the shower hair". It is all the rage here in Russia! Not really, but I've enjoyed styling it each morning anyway. He really seems to like this particular book. Maybe because it has photographs. We got ready and had a nice breakfast together. We played some music this morning. Xavier is so persistent. He is past the stage where you can hide something and he forgets it ever existed. Oh no! He knows you put is somewhere. J.J. would not let him play with his Ipod. It is older and not under warranty anymore. He would give up, so I had to dig out my Ipod so the boys could listen to music together. We modeled our new sweater so Momma could take a picture for Aunt Cheryl. Xavier has figured out the camera means smile. Our camera emits a red light for red eye reduction just before it snaps. It gives him just enough time, with Daddy's superior photographing skills, to cheese for a picture. We got some cute shots today. It was rainy and cold out this afternoon. I went with Dimitri and our friend to get our sons' passports. Once again we cut everyone in line. I feel like the rude American imposing my will on these poor people, but I promise Dimitri made me do it. The lady at the passport office was on the phone to whole time she completed my paperwork and from the tone and speed of her voice I didn't think I wanted to be on the other end of the line. Dimitri watched her very carefully, so even though she was distracted I'm sure everything is correct. Dimitri does an excellent job with paperwork. He knows what he is doing! We had a quiet afternoon. We played a little game of soccer. We walked around the hotel. At supper time we met our friend and his son for a meal at Uno Momento, the pizza place. Xavier was pretty lively in his high chair for the first time. He kept scooting down in the chair and he thought it was pretty funny. He did eat a big bowl of baby cereal mixed with apple juice and a whole jar of pumpkin baby food. Hooray! Our food was tasty as well. We had another nice bath. J.J. fixed his hair in a new style just for pictures. It took him awhile to fall asleep. Just after I put him in the crib the phone rang waking him up! J.J. got round two. Now he's out and we are trying to pack everything again. Tomorrow we get to see how he feels about airplanes.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Day Twenty-Four

It was a little more difficult to wake up today. I really need to learn to trust God during the night or I am going to get seriously sleep deprived. I cannot seem to relax because I'm listening to his noises or lack thereof. He did actually cry some during the night and I got up with him. It was a curious thing because he wiggled down, grabbed my hands, and led me straight to the door. When I pulled my hands away to look at his face he wobbled and hit his head on the door. Then he startled a little, so I picked him up. We walked around the room. I sang to him and prayed for him. When I laid him down he was out. I'm still not sure if that was sleep walking or just a desire for activity, or what it was. It shook me up a little which added to my lack of sleep. J.J. is still not feeling 100%. We thought it was something he ate, but since it is persisting it might actually be an illness. He is hanging in there though and doing a great job. Breakfast went really well. The waitress we angered with our lack of patience on Tuesday seemed super cheerful and helpful today. She was not working yesterday. Our new friends joined us near the end of our meal. Xavier fed himself with a spoon for the first time since he's come to us! He ate this rice porridge stuff all by himself. J.J. fell asleep again this morning, so Xavier and I hung out. We played a game of make the Minion spin. We checked things on the computer. Xavier was tired from his restless night, but I thought it was best if we stayed active until nap time if at all possible. We decided to try a nearby playground. Our friend and his son joined us. It was a gorgeous day. In fact, it was almost hot. The play area was a big ship with ladders, slides, and a path to walk around the top.

Xavier showed no fear! I actually think if J.J. would have let go Xavier would have gone right down one of the big slides. Oh, we found some cheap sunglasses on the way to the playground. Yeah! I have been regretting not packing sunglasses most of the trip, but I could never bring myself to pay what the stores were asking. Xavier was a pretty cool dude in his shades. We tried to take a short cut through a nearby amusement park, but it actually was a dead end. It was fun anyway. They had so many rides and most of then were geared toward younger children.

Not quite as young as our little guy, but it all looked very fun! Xavier fell asleep in the stroller on the walk back. So much for staying on schedule. He slept right through lunch. J.J. got us lunch at a grill stand on the river front. It was so reasonably priced and tasty. We watched our last Sherlock Holmes episode while Xavier slept. I was sad to see it end. I've come to enjoy that crazy detective. =) I gave Xavier a bigger snack when he woke up and we played for awhile in the room. I bought these adorable 9 month outfits on clearance before we left and I had to pack them. He needs to wear them fast before he grows. Look at that cute monkey bum!

We enjoyed the grill so much that we all walked there for supper. Xavier had a special "to go" supper from our hotel room of baby cereal mixed with apple juice and mixed veggies baby food. On top of that he ate two small slices of the brown bread from J.J. and I's meal! A thunderstorm rolled up while we were eating so we had dinner and a show. Once again Xavier showed no fear. He didn't even jump at a loud thunder clap, but I sure did. We came back for bath time and wind down quiet play time. Now he is sound asleep. We have one and a half more days here and then off to Moscow for the last of our in-country paperwork. I have actually enjoyed our quiet time here as a new family. No laundry to wash, no meals to cook, no house to clean, no demands from work. We just eat and play and enjoy each other. I am ready to be home, don't get me wrong, but maybe this hotel room thing is not so bad after all.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Day Twenty-three

Xavier and J.J. were both sound asleep this morning when I woke them up. I got up at 6:00am in hopes of having some quiet time to get ready and read my Bible before the day began. I woke J.J. up at 7:00am so he could be there when we got Xavier up for the first time. Despite going to bed at 7:00pm Xavier was still asleep 12 hours later, but I decided to start his day fairly on schedule. Did I mention that I enjoy schedules? I understand why the baby home had such a strict schedule and I don't plan to keep his days quite so step-by-step, but I have seen the benefits of predictability and routines as I've taught. Anyway, he woke up sort of confused, but not upset. We changed his diaper first thing, but it was actually dry. He loves to have his diaper changed! He smiles like crazy and kicks his legs like a little frog. I've started playing a little tickling game with him during diaper changes and he also seems to enjoy our game. We tried the restaurant again for breakfast and things were much better today. He didn't love all the newness, but he wasn't terrified by it either. This morning he ate oatmeal, a "hot dog" (sausage thing), along with a few bites of blini, tomato, and corn just for "let's see if he likes this" sake. We tried introducing some music into our day with the Ipod. I'll let you see for yourself what he thought of it.

We took a morning walk to a nearby market and got some hot food at the deli for lunch and some more bottled drinks. I was able to identify baked chicken pieces in one section, but they had this whole "cutlets" section with patties of different meats that had been minced, battered, and baked or maybe fried. They were pretty much unidentifiable. What do I do? Pantomime chicken of course, complete with a beak and wings. This girl behind the counter found it pretty amusing, but we still ended up with fish for Xavier's lunch. Oh well, he seemed to like fish. He did not like the canned carrots we tried as a side dish. He actually seemed a little upset at nap time, so J.J. went in the bedroom and comforted him until he relaxed. Then both boys fell asleep. J.J. did not feel well and we neither one slept well. We kept listening for Xavier to make peeps or cries. Xavier woke up on his own around 2:00pm. We had something similar to banana yogurt for snack. We played for awhile. J.J. suggested I look at our photo book with Xavier. He did not want anything to do with you turning the pages. No way. He did sit with both of us and turned the pages on his own though. We changed into clothes for warmer weather and went to visit our new friend and his son. They seemed to be settling in and the boys did really well playing together in the same space and trading out with toys. We had a nice visit. Then the three of us headed to a nearby store with baby products to find some non-disposable plates. I only brought bowls. We found a huge variety of baby food, so I also picked up some vegetables in hopes he would like another vegetable better than carrots. We tried the beach again. Xavier got to take his shoes off with Daddy and feel the sand and water. I still don't know if he liked it, but he didn't hate it. I got some video footage. We had a Skype date so we hurried back to eat a supper of hotdogs and the broccoli & rice baby food. It all went over well. We got to Skype Grandpa, Granny, Ashley & Aunt Duronda. By the end of all those conversations he was into play super hard so I don't crash mode. We had another wonderful bath. J.J. broke his own rule and took some naked baby pictures. I'm so grateful he enjoys baths because it is such a nice time to share with him. We got our pj's on, but he wasn't very enthusiastic about going to sleep. He whimpered after we left him in the crib, so this time I went back and stayed until he feel asleep. It really didn't take him long. J.J. and I finally ate some supper. We've discovered a new love for Nutella! Now J.J. is watching his first TV in 2 days. I am ready for some sleep! Spacoina Nochee! Good night!