Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Chesterbrook Full Time- Yikes!

Monday was another big day. Maks's first day at Chesterbrook for the full day. I was so nervous and so anxious. When I went to drop him off that day, I'm sure he could sense the nerves. He did not want me to put him down. He started crying and holding onto my next when I took his coat off. Ms. Ashley and Ms. Jenny weren't in yet so I'm sure that didn't help. Finally one of the other teachers who did know Maks came over to help. She took him from me and tried to get him to play with some toys. The last image I had was of him crying and holding his arms out to me. Walking down the hall I started to cry and ran into the Assistant Principal. What a sweet girl. She stopped to give me a hug and tell me I was perfectly normal.

The day was difficult at work. All day I worried about him; how we was eating, was he crying, how did nap time go, did he expect me to come back for him after lunch like the other days... Jason was the one to pick him up. I guess nap time went fairly well. The one teacher rocked him for just a few minutes and then he wanted down to sleep in his cot. He slept for over an hour. I find that amazing considering the fact that he will never lay down on his own at our house. Even when we rock him to sleep and he's snoring! As soon as we lay him down he starts crying again. If anyone has any other ideas, let me know.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Weekend Update

Lots of fun with Maks this weekend, lots of firsts too!

Saturday- Maks woke up in a crankier than normal mood so while Jason went out to show some houses Maks & stayed home and played here. Erin stopped by for a while and then Jason & I decided to take him to the Riverwalk downtown Naperville. It was a nice enough day and Mommy was getting cabin fever. He did pretty well in the stroller, loved to see the dogs walk by, and was pretty happy at Coldstone Creamery (see picture). I think we asked a lot of him on Saturday. We decided to take him to his first ever church service. Pastor Gary was preaching on Saturday evening, the number of people who attend that service is usually smaller and 5:30pm is usually a good time for Maks. It was the Palm Sunday service and Maks was thrilled to waive around his palm. Mommy & Daddy did their best not to have their eyes poked out by one (see picture). The service was about 45 minutes and he did really well until the last 10 minutes. Pastor Gary announced Maks's arrival in church and a few families stopped by to meet him. This is the point in the night where Mom & Dad made a poor decision, we decided to go to dinner to meet Atiya and Darius. Maks had a long day, we'd already asked him to sit down for nearly an hour, he was tired, crabby and restless. A great time to take him to a restaurant! We went to a Greek restaurant so at least it was loud! Not as many people could hear him screaming. He didn't want to sit at all, didn't want to eat at all, wanted to run all over the place, wanted to hold all of the knives and forks... you get the picture. Luckily Atiya and Darius were gracious and helped as much as possible. They capped the night off well with a bunch of presents. The golf set and basketball are already doing some damage to our walls but at least he's having fun. :)

Sunday- We decided to torture Maks a little more and take him out to look at some houses. Erin came along as our 3rd party adviser and on-the-spot Maks charmer. He did fairly well. He even let us stop by a restaurant for some lunch without a major tantrum! Tonight Grandpa J and Uncle Luke stopped by after Mom & Ang left for Spring Break in Palm Beach. Nice for them!! Maks had his first small piece of pizza and a tiny bit of popcorn. Its a Johnson tradition every Sunday night, pizza & popcorn. We're breaking him in a little at a time. Maks was thrilled to play with Uncle Luke's Cardinals hat. Poor Jason, not sure if Maks is a Cardinals fan or just like the hat. :) Lets hope for the latter.

Tomorrow is a BIG DAY. Mommy's first day back at work. Not sure how either of us will handle this one.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Maks did great at preschool over the past few days. Always a champ during drop off time, a strong eater, plays well, sits during circle time, LOVES the gym time and still happy to see Mommy when she picks him up. So far so good!

I go back to work starting on Monday. I'm a little bummed and a little worried. Hopefully we can keep Maks's daycare hours down to 6-6 1/2 per day between Jason & I. He starts doing nap time at Chesterbrook on Monday. I'm really interested in how that is going to go.

We had to go back to Dr. Och's office today for the follow up. It turns out that Maks does in fact have Giardia, the stomach parasite that can cause lots of poops and can stop him from gaining weight. We got the medicine on Wednesday and will be finished with it tomorrow. So far there has been no real pooping progress. But we'll see... We have to wait on confirmation of a few vaccines, Maks ended up having to get 2 today. It went much better than the blood draw. He cried but was over it pretty quickly. The nurse was super quick and already had the band-aid half on before she even gave him the shot!

Tonight I made Mexican food and Jason & I each had a margarita. Maks loved the glasses (which were plastic with little flamingos and palm trees on the bottom). I would keep pouring a little bit of water in his so he could drink from a big boy glass. He loved it. Now that he's feeding himself every day at preschool he is hell bent on feeding himself at home too. Not so strong at that yet, but we're giving it a go!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Maks is a New Moon fan! We were watching the new DVD tonight and he was enthralled. Good to know he has great taste. :)

Maks's First Day at Chesterbrook

I go back to work on Monday. Yikes. I am feeling a tremendous amount of mommy guilt sending Maks to preschool/daycare instead of staying home with him myself. That's why we like Chesterbrook. It's more of a preschool than a daycare as they have a lot of learning elements built into the day and very separate groups determined by age. Still, its not me. I know that deep down, Maks has to be very scared and unsure of what is happening in his life and now we are going to throw another big change at him.

I am taking him in Thursday and Friday as well for half days. I thought it would be an easier way to start him off instead of full days right out of the gate. I took him in this morning at 8:30am. We met Ms. Nicole the Principal of the school who walked us down to Toddler II. Maks's class has 9 other little kids who are nearly 2 years old. There are 2 teachers, Ms. Jenny & Ms. Ashley. When we walked into the school Maks was very shy and seemed a little bit nervous. Once we walked into his classroom though, he was a changed (little) man. He wanted down right away and ran over to some toys. Within 5 minutes he had played with three other kids, introduced himself to a teacher (a 2-yr old introduction consists of walking over to her and handing her a toy) and made a little girl cry. Very productive first five minutes. He wasn't phased at all that I was walking away. I'm not quite sure how to take that, but was glad for him that he felt comfortable in his group.

I called in at 10:00am to check on him, just as any other completely anal/nervous parent would do. The teacher told me he was doing great playing with other kids and was currently sitting down for circle time. I have a really hard time believing he just sits for circle time. I need to learn their secret.

I went in to pick him up around 12:15pm. The other little kids were going down for nap time. The lights were off and there was soothing music in the background. Maks was sitting at a table "reading" a book. Ms. Jen from the front office told him to "look who was here," he looked up at me and gave me a big smile, put his hands up in the air and ran over to me so I could pick him up. (Yeah! He does at least like to see his Mommy!) We got a great little packet to take home after his first day detailing out how his day went, what he ate (2 plates of food for lunch!) and a bunch of pictures.

He was a little withdrawn in the car ride home but by the time we were in the house and upstairs he was running around like a crazy kid again playing and laughing. Hard to tell how today really affected him but I'm glad outwardly he appeared to have a good time. Lets hope the same is true of tomorrow! And the day after that... and the day after that...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Maks Playing w/ Kitchen Box

So excited about the box...

Maks at His Party

Shirlene and Becky (Grandma and Aunt on Jason's side) hosted a small gathering of their family and friends for Maks on Sunday. It was all done so beautifully. If anyone needs help hosting an event or planning one (especially baby showers) you should call Becky Peterson. I can't post her phone number without her permission. :) She is so creative and does such a great job. It was a Dr. Seuss themed event (which is in line with Maks's room). I'm posting some pictures of Maks enjoying his time as the hit of the party as soon as possible. For some reason my computer will not recognize them for upload onto this particular site. I'll keep working at it!

A special thanks goes out to Aunt Judy who had an amazing book put together for us of this entire blog from Day 1 through our first day home with Maks. That was always the original intent of this blog, but to see it in action was incredibly special. Not to mention it took one mammoth "To Do" off of our list.

Maks has been home for the past 2 days playing with everything relentlessly. Luckily most things make noise, so we won't be in danger of boring our ears any time soon. :)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Lots of Fun

We've been up to lots of fun in the past few days. Thursday we went to the outlet mall with Grandma Shirlene. We got Maks a great little outfit for his first little get together tomorrow. Just a few people who are friends of Shirlene and Roger. He's going to look so cute in his sweater vest, button down shirt and boat shoes. I'm making him such a square. :) He really would look cute in anything.

Friday we went out to Grandma and Grandpa Johnson's (Version 2.0). Mom & Dad have been out of town for the past week up at Mayo Clinic for Dad's muscle problems. Great news, Dad got some good answers, they think they know what's wrong and can help fix it! Maks loved playing with Ben (Mom & Dad's German Shepard). Mom and I would kick Ben's ball and when Ben ran after it, Maks ran after Ben. He was laughing and running all over the yard. Grandma & Grandpa Johnson (Version 1.0) got home from Florida this week so we were able to go over to the farm and introduce Maks to them too. My cousins Cory and Blair & Joe Webber stopped by to see him too. He was a little overwhelmed by all of the attention but loved running around with the Fisher Price "Mower" my Mom brought with. He ran right into the rotten beans and the mud. Lovely. Although every time his hands got even a little bit of dirt on them, he would hold them up to me to be wiped off. Those two things will not be able to go together forever. Running into mud/rotten beans and then needing your hands clean all of the time don't mix! He'll learn. We went to McDonalds with Grandma & Grandpa Johnson (Version 2.0) and Maks's cousin Rylan. Maks was his usual hungry self and Rylan was focused solely on playing with the happy meal toy. What a pair they make.

After Maks's nap back at home we met Erin, Elise & Owen (along with Erin's parents) downtown Naperville at the RiverWalk. It was such a beautiful day and Maks loved running after all of the dogs yelling "Arf, Arf". He really has that one down. We hit Noodles & Company for an early dinner as Jim & Jason both had to work late. By the time we got home Maks was exhausted. He fell asleep at 7:45pm and slept until almost 8 this morning.

Jason had a home show all day today so Maks and I were once again flying solo. It was such a crappy day. It had dropped 30 degrees and was now snowing. What a departure from yesterday's 60+ degree day with sunshine!! I could not just sit at home with him all day alone. We headed to the mall to just walk around, found a cool pair of little guy sandals that made the trip worthwhile and then headed home for lunch & naptime. Maks is such a funny little boy. He is so smart, picks up on stuff so quickly and imitates things that I do all the time now. Today he had a paper towel in his hand and I picked him up. He started to wipe my mouth off just like I do when he eats and laugh hysterically. He's testing boundaries like nobody's business. There are only a handful of things he's not supposed to touch at our house. He loves to now walk up to those things, put one finger on them and then look at me out of the corner of his eye to see what I do. I guess Mom would call this karma. :)

Tonight Jason & I got to go on a date night. It was lovely. A grown up dinner that I didn't have to eat at warp speed to make sure I preempt Maks's inevitable tantrum. We went to Hugo's Frog Bar downtown Naperville while my sister and brother-in-law Luke and Andrea watched Maks. They had to give him a bath and put him to bed. Apparently he did very well. Was a little confused after bathtime as to why we weren't around and maybe a little scared, but Ang & Luke must have done a great job distracting him. We were only gone for a few hours, it was a much needed break for us and great to know that Maks did so well. Thanks to Luke & Ang!! :)

I'll try to post more pictures soon!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Play Day

It has been beautiful weather this week. We wanted to get outside today and let Maks run out some of that energy. We met Erin, Elise and Owen and went to the Morton Arboretum. Erin has an annual membership to the Arboretum and was able to get Maks & I in for free. Thanks Erin! It was a great morning to be there. I'd never been before and didn't know they had so much for little kids to do. It's not all exactly made for 1 1/2 year olds like Maks but it certainly did not slow him down. He had so much fun running all over the place. There was a big hill that Elise and Owen were running up and down. It was a little too steep for Maks to do alone so I would walk up and down with him. Every time Elise or Owen would run by him he would laugh like crazy. I'm attaching some pictures of him in the toddler maze. Those are a great idea, there is only one way in and one way out. :)

Aunt Ang came over to visit Maks tonight. We had made a lovely Irish dinner of corn beef, cabbage, potatoes and Guinness. She and Luke had already had dinner (Mexican!) so she didn't eat, but she got to help feed and bathe Maks. So fun for her... He was having a good time though!

Thursday and Friday are supposed to be beautiful days too. We're going to meet Grandma Shirlene at the outlet mall tomorrow and then hopefully play with Rylan & Grandma Jackie on Friday.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

First Haircut!

Maks did really well again last night, sleeping for nearly 12 hours. I worried that after a Doctor's visit like he had that last night would be a tough night for him. He's such a strong little guy.

This morning we went to my office so I could fax in some paperwork. Maks was able to meet a few of my colleagues and my old boss. They were all in for a meeting so it was great timing. He liked sitting in the swivel office chair at the meeting table. He didn't want to get out of that chair. Little does he know that one day he'll be thrilled to get out of that chair! :)

In the afternoon I took him to Kid Snips in Naperville for his first haircut. When you come in they have DVDs to choose from, I picked a Thomas the Tank Engine one for him. They put Maks in a little car, turned on the DVD and got to cutting. They work very quickly. The entire hair cut took about 5 minutes! Although he really doesn't have a lot of hair to cut. When it was done they took his picture, gave us a certificate with a lock of his hair and a blue balloon. He was thrilled with his balloon! No crying during the haircut, and now he looks like a little man. I'm posting some pictures of his haircut for you all to see. As always, so cute!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Dreaded Doctor Visit

We were able to move Maks's doctor appointment up to today. We've been working with Dr. Ochs in Chicago who has worked with many internationally adopted kids. He's been so great in terms of responding to the initial referral, responding to questions while we were in Russia and of course now trying to get us in as soon as possible. We drove into Ravenswood this afternoon, Maks did great in the car. We really are lucky as he is very good in his car seat. There are only short tantrums or outbursts so far!

During the Doctors appointment he had to be weighed, measured, have his ears, eyes, and throat checked, give a stool sample (a lot of fun for Mommy), a urine sample (which we weren't able to get) and worst of all...lots of blood. They do a full work up on his blood including a test for all types of vaccines and an allergy test. It was perhaps the most traumatic experience he has had since leaving the orphanage. They had 5-6 vials that needed to be filled and of course when they did the first arm it clotted up quickly so they had to do both arms. While doing the 2nd arm, Maks was able to pull his arm away and rip the needle out causing blood to squirt all over. (Sorry Dad if you're reading this) Jason and the nurse had to do their best to hold him still while they tried to take the blood. It was awful. He looked so terrified and kept looking at us as if he was pleading for it to stop. They were not able to get enough this time so we are going to have to take him to lab near our home for another round. I decided that today was too much for them to try a 3rd time. The people were really great there and very understanding. We have an appointment in 2 weeks to go back for whatever results we can get from today's samples.

The great news is that he has strong little lungs, his heart seems fine, his measurements are very small but all proportional. He should catch up quickly over the next year. He is such a smart little guy. He picks up on stuff so quickly, watching everything we do once and then going back to do it himself. While we were at the doctor today he took a Kleenex after I had wiped his nose and kept wiping it back and forth and trying to blow his nose into it. And after all of his baths now he takes his own Q-tip and tries to clean out his ears! Simple, but so cute for a 1 year old!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

So cute!

We took Maks to Whole Foods last night to go grocery shopping, as you can see he loved wearing his Daddy's hat. A Florida Gators fan in the making! This morning we went to meet Leslie and Rylan at the mall and got 2 coordinating Easter outfits for the boys. Can't wait to post that picture. We thought about giving the Easter Bunny another shot but decided against it. Too much trauma for them both. Maks had a great night last night, went to bed at 7:45pm and didn't get up until 8:15am. Such a trooper! He loves his sleep at night. Not so great with naptimes. He always needs them but never wants to go to sleep during the day.

I was wondering if anyone has any ideas on how to stop a child from drinking bath water. Its almost gotten difficult to give him a bath. He now spends all of his time on his tummy drinking the water. We're going to need some sort of chair to put him in so we can get him to sit up. If you have any good suggestions, let me know!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Visit to the Easter Bunny

Rylan and Maks were not huge fans of the Easter Bunny, as you can see by the picture. He still had fun! His cousin Rylan has taught him how to bounce up and down a lot. Rylan loves to stand in one place and bounce. All day today after we left Rylan, Maks has been bouncing all over the place. They were trying to break into the locked hallway together today. I asked Leslie if she thought they would ever try to skip school together. She said "over my dead body." I bet they will try. Those two are big into mischief. Should be interesting!!

1 Week In

I know I haven't updated much. Yes Mom, I'm a little busy now. :) I know you love that. Maks is definitely a busy kid. He loves to get into absolutely everything. Anything and everything that opens, closes, makes noise, etc... Its been a busy first week home. We were able to meet Great Grandma Brockman and La. Maks loved Grandma's house. SO much stuff for him to get into. And most of it was glass. God bless Grandma, she just kept saying "Oh he'll be fine, just let him be, he can't hurt anything." I've only been home with Maks for one week but I can tell you that isn't necessarily true! We were able to play at Aunt Leslie's and Uncle Don's again. We went over to Erin's to meet Elise and Owen and use their toys for a while. Today we met the Easter Bunny and found some Easter eggs. So much going on! One thing I have learned in a short time, Maks is a lot more crabby if he is in the house all day. If we keep him at home playing he gets so restless. When he's out in the world he is much happier when we get him home.

For those of you wondering, no the poop hasn't slowed down at all. We finally have a Dr.'s appointment with the Pediatrician who specializes in International Adoptions this upcoming Wednesday. I'm looking forward to getting Maks on some vitamins, figuring out whats going on with his poor digestive system and finally getting some clear answers on his medical status.

A few other things we've learned about Maks this week...

1. He loves to drink the bath water.
2. He loves to lay in the bath tub on his tummy kicking his legs. I think he's going to be a swimmer!
3. He loves cooked carrots more than cookies!
4. He now knows who Mama and Dada are!
5. He is very stubborn (definitely my son)
6. When he stands still with his face down he is either pooping or getting ready to charge.
7. He's not a nice playmate yet. I think this has to do with now knowing some of these toys are his. He's never had anything be "his" before. So he's a little protective.
8. He loves his cousin Cole. Thank you Cole for entertaining him the other day, he went right to sleep that night and slept for 12 hours!! He gave Cole the first hug I've ever seen him give!
9. The ladies love him. Everywhere we go. The ladies love him.

Sleeping at night is getting easier. He is working into his routine. I think he knows bath time means bed time soon. I don't want to jinx us though! He's also feeling better. Not as much green goobley-gob coming out of his nose these days.

I have some great pictures to post. I'll try to get as many on here as possible.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I have never seen this much poop!

I love Maks. I really do. And I am so glad that he is finally home with us. Every day he gets more comfortable with us and hopefully more attached to us. He will sit with me and look for Jason saying "Da-da, da-da" its so cute! He runs to me while I'm making dinner and hugs my leg trying to crawl up me for attention. My family thinks he's the cutest little guy they've ever seen. He's an outgoing, smiley, strong little man.

There is one little thing that is making me crazy. Poop! Lots and lots of poop! His stomach is really struggling with the transition of foods and taking antibiotics. We have tried every kind of diaper in the world looking for one that will hold everything in. We have yet to find one. We've tried Pampers, Huggies, overnight diapers, active children diapers, leak-proof diapers... nothing has worked yet. If anyone has suggestions, we would be thrilled! Maks is sensing our diaper changing frustration. Every time we go to change his diaper he freaks out. Its like wrestling an alligator in the mud while attempting to wrap him in a diaper that needs to be put on perfectly so it doesn't leak, while the alligator is crying.

Its a hurdle. We'll get through it. But its an interesting hurdle. :) God love you little man. I love you, but wow! :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

First Weekend Home

An eventful weekend for little Maks! On Saturday we made a trip out to my sister Leslie's house so Maks could meet his cousin Rylan. After that we went to Grandma Shirlene's house. I know they say not to take adopted children away from their new home much or expose them to a lot of new people, but Maks does NOT like being in the same place all the time. He goes crazy. So the other venues were a good distraction.

Leslie's house is better than Chuckie Cheese. Rylan has a ton of toys that Maks LOVED. Mom, Dad, Ang and Luke came by to see both Ry and Maks. It was so cute. Rylan was such a great sharer! He had a little truck that they can drive and Rylan loves it. Maks would not vacate the drivers seat. At first Rylan was upset but then he learned how to ride on the tailgate of the truck and be pushed by Grandpa. Whenever I want to tucker Maks out I'll take him to Rylan's playground!

Shirlene's house was full of more attention for Maks. Uncle Jerrod and Maks's cousins all came over to meet him. Maks is such a showman. Anytime he has new friends to meet he's all smiles. Even if its 10 minutes after a major tantrum! He knows who is Grandma is and was happy to give her hugs. :) Good move.

Today was a little more low key. Breakfast and playing at home. Every day gets a little better with the tantrums and his familiarity with us. He's been sleeping fairly well although every day brings something new there too.

I'm attaching some pictures of Maks from this weekend. SO CUTE!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

We're Home!

Wow! What a day yesterday! We got up early and were ready for Vlad to pick us up at 8am. It took about an hour to get to the airport. When we went inside we had no idea where to go. There are no "check in" counters at the airport there. You basically have to go to a kiosk in the middle of the room that will tell you when your counter opens up. Everyone waits and then rushes the counter at once to check in. Business class status DEFINITELY helped on this one! We took an Aeroflot flight to Copenhagen, Denmark and then Scandinavian Airlines on to Chicago. The Aeroflot flight was about 2 1/2 hours. Maks was able to sleep for an hour of it, which was nice as he screamed for the other hour and a half. The crew was so sweet, they put a bassinet up on the front of the wall and he was able to just fit. It was nice to have him sleep there as we didn't have a seat for him.

We had a 3 1/2 hour layover in Copenhagen and were able to use the Business Lounge. Its very nice there with computers, food, drinks, ticket people and best of all a KID LOUNGE! Thank God! Maks was able to play with toys for 2 hours before we found our gate. Once on the plane he made it known that he was not happy about flying home. Again the crew was so nice to us! The one flight attendant said, "don't worry, I'm sure he won't scream for the entire 9 hours." Little did she know...

He had a really tough time. He screamed for the first 5 1/2 hours of the flight. Nothing would soothe him. Jason and I spent a lot of time in the bathroom with him trying to calm him down and trying to give other passengers a break. For the most part everyone was very kind, but it had to be taxing. He finally was able to fall asleep for the last 3 hours of the flight, but was very restless. He was sleeping on a pad of our coats on the floor in front of me. We didn't get to enjoy any of the perks of business class, but it was worth the space. It really was the toughest time I have ever had. I was in tears for most of the flight, so poor Jason had both Maks and I crying. The poor guy. We landed a few minutes early and I have never been so happy to see Chicago!!! Maks was a US citizen the minute the plane touched down! YEAH!

We got to passport control and they gave us a big packet of info to take to another counter after we got our bags. We walked over there and the lady told us to just sit it down. We thought, great this will take forever! But it didn't. She was able to get us processed in 10 minutes. When we walked out of customs my family was waiting with balloons, cameras and hugs. I started crying the minute I saw my Mom & Dad. I was SOOOOOOOOOO happy to see them. And everyone else of course! Thanks to Luke, Ang and Leslie for all making the trip during crazy Friday night traffic! But I was really happy to see my Mom. I missed her so much and feel so much more confident that life will work out, Maks will calm down and I won't feel this overwhelmed forever just by her being there. Hard to explain. I guess sometimes you just need your Mommy. :)

Maks was all of the sudden the perfect gentleman and little charmer! Boy does he know how to work the drama. :) We rode to our house with Leslie who did a good job entertaining Maks during the ride. I'm sure Rylan has given her LOTS of practice! When we got home Shirlene and Roger were there to see Maks too. He loved his Grandma's attention! And having them both there plus Grandpas, Aunts and an Uncle he was in his heyday. They say not to let adopted children be exposed to too much too soon. But I will say Maks loves seeing everyone. He lights up and just run run runs!

Everyone left around 9pm and I took Maks down to his room shortly thereafter. He feel asleep pretty quickly. He slept until 2 or 3am and then woke up screaming. He was able to calm down in about 20 minutes and go back to sleep until 7:15am. It was lovely to be back in our house with our own bed and own stuff! Not living out of a suitcase!!

We had another great day today. More about that later. Hopefully Leslie or Roger will send me some of the pictures they took today so I can post with those tomorrow!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Going out with a bang!

Maks has been very irritable lately and developing a rough little cough. So today we decided to take him to a Doctor. Our fear was primarily an ear infection as being on a plane tomorrow for 11+ hours would be very tough on an ear infection. We called Katya our coordinator and asked about taking him back to the American Medical Center where Jason & I had our medical exams. She was able to help us get an appointment and coordinate a driver.

Poor little Maks had a traumatic experience at the Doctor being checked out. Nothing terrible but checking his nose, throat, breathing, height and weight was more than he could bear. The Doctor said that he has swollen tonsils, inflamed nasal passages, bronchitis and dermatitis. He prescribed an antibiotic, body cream, nasal drops and cough medicine. I know in the US they don't normally give kids antibiotics but with bronchitis I don't know that there's a choice?? We're trying to make an appointment for this Saturday at our Doctor in Naperville but we're having a tough time getting him in b/c techinally he's a new patient.

So the trip on the plane that I was already worried about just got a bit more interesting. Last night Maks wouldn't sleep in his crib at all. He slept for 2 hours and then wouldn't go back down into the crib. We ended up bringing him to bed with us and he was tossing and turning all night. More than a few times he would wake up and fling himself across my chest to lay on top of me. It was fairly clear that he wasn't feeling well. He's taken 2 naps today and we're hoping for a good nights sleep tonight before the trip tomorrow.

This will be my last post from Moscow. I'll of course keep you all up to date on how Maks is doing with the transition!

One last tip for families traveling to Moscow for an adoption- bring lots of long sleeve T-shirts, short sleeve shirts and very light sweaters. Don't bother bringing any bulky sweaters. Everywhere is so hot inside that you won't wear them. As we're getting packed to leave I'm noticing some of the sweaters/sweatshirts that we brought that were never worn! Save yourself the packing room!

It's been a long trip, but a good one. One that I'm sure we'll remember for the rest of our lives. Here's to hoping we have a good flight! Talk to you all on the other side!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Our final days here...

Having only today and tomorrow left here in Moscow we thought we'd get out and about a bit today. After Maks's morning nap Jason ran to McDonalds again to get us some lunch. Maks had his first Happy Meal. He found a way to love fries, dip them in ketchup! We weren't giving him anything tomato because of the strawberry/raspberry reaction. We weren't sure if tomatoes would do the same. They don't seem to though. He loved his Happy Meal box and carried it all over the apartment today. And he of course loved the toy. Jason wants to go to McDonalds tomorrow and buy all of the Happy Meal toys we can for the plane! :)

We walked down Old Arbat street. Its closed off to traffic and has lots of souvenir shops and cafes. It would be a great street to walk down during the summer! When we got back to the apartment we played, had some dinner and then I called my Dad. While I was on the phone with him, Jason went into the bathroom with Maks. Maks has learned to LOVE the bathtub. Jason yelled to me when I was on the phone that Maks was in the bathroom undressing. :) The bathtub wasn't even running yet. He just knew it was about that time! When I went in there Maks was in fact undressing and then was standing at the edge of the tub bouncing up and down trying to get into the empty tub to play. So cute! Once he was in the tub and it was filled up he kept trying to drink the bath water. Yummy.

Tomorrow is our last day here. I think we're going to venture out again to do some last minute site seeing and plane ride preparation, AKA snack buying and toy buying!
I will be home in 54 hours. That is a FANTASTIC feeling! Maks will be an American in 54 hours! WAHOO!!!


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Renting an apartment in Moscow

I know some of this may be in direct conflict with other posts. But this is the most up to date info we have.

Renting an apartment in Moscow is goofy. At first we had a good experience. They were helpful and responsive with the rental, the apartment looked nice upon check in, it was a good location, the lady checking us in was very nice, etc...

Then everything changed. We rented the Old Arbat City Side Residence from apartmentsmoscow.com. Sandra and her Mom rented the Old Arbat Italian Residence from apartmentsmoscow.com. Here are a few things that we have experienced....

1. Smelled like a Gas leak in our apartment
2. Water leak in our apartment
3. Water leak in their apartment
4. Washing Machine broken in their apartment
5. No ability to use the outlets in our bathroom- got a new hair dryer, that didn't work either
6. Had a manager from the apartment company come to coordinate our service work and she yelled at us for our son dropping his toy on the floor and told us to have him drop it on the carpet. WHAT?? There is one small rug in the living room and the rest of the apartment is hard wood. Sure.
7. Received an email from Apartment Manager today that there was a noise complaint from the people below and they were going to call the police because of a baby crying. She said we may have to move apartments (even though they don't have any other ones available) and they'll refund that portion of the cost.
8. We had some man come to our door tonight and try to unlock it with a key, when Jason went to the door the man said, "Oh sorry, they told me noone was in here." The apartment people told us it was probably the owner and they could move us to another apartment so we feel safe!?!?
9. The Apartment Manager told me that they were trying to rent the apartment to another person longer term and he was upset that a baby was in here. She also said that if anyone came to the door other than her, don't open it.
10. There are no curtains on either apartment's windows. Only sheers. Its very bright at night!
11. No hot water for shower in Sandra's apartment

The list goes on. Basically I would use a hotel. I know its more inconvenient for cooking, etc. but save the grief. Having a newly adopted child is stressful enough!

Its Official-3 more Days!

Another eventful day here in Moscow. Got up early again, Maks slept 11 hours and woke up at 7:15am. Not bad! We stayed in the apartment this morning and ate breakfast here. We had made it to the grocery store yesterday and found eggs (not easy) and bread. It was nice to have home-cooked breakfast. Maks took a nap for 2 1/2 hours this morning and by the time he got up we had to get him ready for our US Embassy appointment and head out the door. It was an interesting process. For some reason I thought everyone who worked at the American Embassy would be American. Thats not true. Some were, some weren't. After going through several checkpoints and a few security screenings we made it to the back of a long line. Apparently they set a 2pm appointment for lots of families adopting. There were 2 lines, one for Russians requesting a Visa to travel to the US and then one for Adoption, Family Issues and something else. You have to go to the cashier first (shocking) and pay $400 for the American Visa for Maks. Once we did that we waited in a waiting room with a bunch of other families for our "interview". The interview was a 3 minute process where they reviewed Maks's information, asked that everything we claimed on our forms was correct and explained that someone would be out to speak with all of the families in a few minutes. They also told us it would be a 30-45 minute wait for our Visa.

It was a great room to be in. Made me feel so much better about our struggles. There were probably 15 other families there from the US who were adopting from Russia with their children. We got to speak with several of them. One thing was clear, everyone's path to Russian Adoption was different. Some families waited close to a year for a referral, some waited months. Some families waited a few weeks for their Trip 2 date, some families waited months. Some families had to stay the rest of the week to register at the Russian Consulate (ok, just the Sandras and us) and everyone else is going home tomorrow and registering back in the USA. One thing was very consistent. Every set of parents or single parents there looked just as overwhelmed and frustrated as us. We talked to a couple from Michigan who had adopted 2 twin boys from Siberia near the Mongolian border who said their kids screamed all the time and were always yelling in Russian. They had to take them to the front desk of their hotel to find out what they were saying! Another little boy was screaming throughout the whole group presentation part. It was a nice kinship of sorts.

A lady came out about 5 minutes later to describe the process to everyone. Letting us know to keep the document envelope sealed until we reached the US, where to go, what they would do etc... A few things I didn't know...

1. Maks will keep his Russian Citizenship forever, unless he officially renounces it through the Russian Government
2. If Maks comes back to Russia between the ages of 18 and 35 he could be drafted into the Russian Army, apparently Russia requires all men to spend time in the military. If he comes back even for a 2 week vacation he could be drafted. (So Maks will NOT be coming back to Russia between the ages of 18 and 35) :)
3. If we have trouble with our layover in Copenhagen, we can't leave the airport. It will be like that movie "The Terminal" with Tom Hanks. Maks is traveling on a Russian passport, not an American one and he would need a Visa to visit those European countries and won't be allowed to leave the airport.

Anyway, the good news is that we got the Visa and are cleared to travel. We're still in Russia for the next 2 days to be registered with the Russian Consulate. Many other families do this in the US. Adoption Ark prefers that we do it here so that there are no problems with the process that will affect to outcome of other family's adoptions. Fair enough. So we were able to change our tickets to Friday.

A few notes about that.... DO NOT EVER USE BEST TRAVEL FROM NAPERVILLE- they treated us like second class citizens and would not help us change our tickets. They basically told us that they had already spent too much time on our case and would have to charge us fees. She also said there was nothing they could do. So Jason called Scandinavian Airlines himself and got ahold of some very great people who were able to help us change our tickets to Friday and keep our business class seats. THANK YOU SCANDINAVIAN AIRLINES! I would HIGHLY recommend them!!

I'm going to end this post now as its really long. I am going to do another one today though for other families who may be traveling to Russia for adoption soon and are thinking of renting an apartment. There are some things you should know!

3 more days and we will be home!!!! WAHOO!!!!!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Some Extra Pictures

Pictures of the street we're staying on. One with Maks wearing Vika's hat. It didn't come through clearly but its still super cute. :)I also attached the picture of the traffic. I couldnt get them all on the earlier post.

4, maybe 6 more days until we're home!

Maks did sleep in the crib last night (which is actually a pack-n-play). He made it all the way until 4am before he started crying. I put him in the bed with us and he slept until we had to wake him up (again) at 6am. The Doctor arrived around 7am and did a quick general exam. Maks was such a trooper. Didn't cry at all. We got some medical updates. His head is in the 3rd % for circumference. His height and weight aren't even on the charts for kids his age. But he's proportional and the Doctor feels he'll catch up quickly. He didn't hear any wheezing in Maks's chest so he thinks the cold is all in the head still. The Doctor did notice that Maks is getting his 24 mo molars. So that could be another reason for the crabiness. He recommended giving him Motrin, which we did and it seemed to have help his overall demeanor today.

We had to stick around the apartment this morning. Jason and I had McDonalds last night and this morning. Can you tell that we are craving American food? Its a little different here than at home. They don't have pancakes they have crepes instead. And they don't have biscuits, only english muffins. Still, it was nice. I've eaten more McDonalds here in the last two days than I have at home for the past year. :) Katya came to our apartment to pick up the medical info and take it to the American Embassy to set our appointment for tomorrow. We have an appointment at 2pm and will hopefully get our Visa to travel then. Wednesday and Thursday are all for the Russian Consulate registration. We found out today that they will have to take Maks's passport and visa to do the registration. Thats why we can't travel until Friday. So we are waiting to hear back from our travel agency as to whether or not we can do this.

Maks was a bit crabby earlier and he fell asleep at 9am. We woke him up at 11:30am and left to go venture out a bit. We went to Hard Rock Cafe (which is right across the street). It was very empty and Maks did pretty well. Toward the end he got pretty antsy but it was about an hour of sitting. We got him some chicken and french fries. Only gave him little pieces. He was not a fan. He made the funniest little faces when he ate a french fry. I think it was the salt but he would pucker his face and spit it out. We walked down to the grocery store. I took some pictures of Maks and Jason outside of the store. And pictures of the crazy traffic outside of the grocery store. It was at an intersection and people were parked in the intersection and people were trying to get through. Chaos, I'm telling you.

Another funny story from today. Maks and Jason were sitting on the couch while Jason was putting on Maks's socks. Jason burped and Maks started clapping. Then a minute later Maks burped. Not the most polite story, but still pretty funny. :)

I got some great advice from my family, friends and the ladies on the Adoption Ark forum about Maks's tantrums and crabby nature in the past few days. Many of the families who have been through this before experienced some very similar things. One of the Moms said to ignore the tantrums and see what he does. We decided to try that this afternoon when he wouldn't take another nap and the tantrum then only lasted 2 minutes. Jason and I were talking about finding Neosporin in the middle of his chaos. He kept looking at both of us while he was crying like "hello, people? why are you not paying attention to this?" Then he brought me the camera case and smiled. I'm sure it won't always be that easy, but it was a nice change from yesterday. We of course were in the room with him and didn't leave him alone, but we didn't respond to the crying over a no. He's in a better mood so far this afternoon. We'll see how the rest of the day goes.

We're having some trouble with our apartment (posted some pictures of it). The kitchen smells like gas, the electricity in the bathroom isn't working so no hair dryer or straightener. A girl can only go so long without that. The refrigerator has a water leak and isn't really cold and neither of the bedrooms have curtains. They only have sheers which let in all the light possible. Ugh.

We're doing dinner in tonight. More to come after our embassy appointment tomorrow.