Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Story About a Girl

I couldn't help myself to one more-just for those who might still want to know-

She is doing GREAT! I can't believe how natural she is fitting into our family, and the things we were worried about are all unfounded fears. There is so much good about her-every day she amazes me. She screams and laughs when I grab her off the floor. She is curious, loves to crawl around as fast as she can scoot, and loves our dog (they are getting along great, she get's to kiss and pet him, he get's to eat all the food she drops).

She loves cell phones, and ALL the toys and THINGS that she get's to touch. She still fills her hands with the goods, and puts the death-grip on things, Orphanage-style!

She likes to go to her brothers' little league games. She still can't walk, quite yet, but is close. So she stands at the fence, holding on, and yells for them!

She is singing songs, learning new words every day, and yes-see's me and says Dada! Her brothers are her favorite-she watches them with big eyes, smiles and goes after them. They love her every day, and we all race to pick her up when she wakes up.

Last night we were at a graduation party for our nephew, and she just loves the family and seeing new people. So fun to watch how she has changed. One thing she hasn't seen, is another toddler. There was a little girl there two months younger, and Sylvi's eyes lit up when she saw her. She kept wanting to touch her, to stand by her and look at her. We forgot how strange this new life must be for her. Absolutely no kids her age around-all of a sudden. She was surrounded by them before, every day. Not that she misses the Orphanage, of course. But I wonder if she is missing them, her little buddies.

I keep thinking of that other sweet little blonde girl, still in the Orphanage in Siberia. The bland room, the smells, and the sadness. I thought about it last night, at this party. 80 degrees, sun going down and the cool air coming through the trees. Watching Sylvi in her pretty dress, surrounded by green grass, gorgeous homes and yards, more food than anyone could eat, drinks, tiki torches lit, music, happy games in the yard, beautiful people and laughter. So many people waiting to pick her up, to make her laugh again. So much hope. All these kids, with big, bright futures. Anything they want to do, they will do. And then, there is that little blonde girl, and the 99 others in Baby House 1.

Sylvi is home, and all of it is a memory. Such a powerful journey to find this little girl and bring her home. The finite details of the adventure already are starting to fade, but this story of our family will always be in my mind. I think, that when I'm old and forgetful, when memories fade from my past, some things I won't ever lose. Some things happen to us in our lives, that shape the way we think every day, the way we act and behave. People see Sylvi, hear her story, and they say how lucky of a girl she is. Yes, I agree. But maybe, God took care of her from the start-and knew what we all needed, without us even knowing. We are all born from someone. We might have our father's hair, or our mother's eyes. A grandparent's dimple, or different skin color. But two people don't make a baby into a girl, and certainly not a person. We are all born in this world, where we live and who gives us birth is either all luck, or something greater. I can't believe in luck. So instead, I am blessed. Someone at work asked-what will we tell her when she asks where she came from? We will tell her the truth-That you were born in our hearts, not mom's tummy.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Last Blog Post.


This is it. We are gone from Russia, heading HOME! We are so excited, it feels like we have been gone for a year! We are all leaning forward in our seats as you read this, counting the hours.

We have LOVED getting all the comments and emails of support, it was a main source of entertainment between visits to her. Each morning in that little dank hotel in Siberia, we'd all race to the computer to read them first! We appreciate it, and this trip really highlights, for all of us, the power of belonging to family, and friends.

Here we come, Sylvi can tell something BIG is up with this flight! She can sense the excitement!
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Footsteps in the Hall.....





I took some blurry pictures in a rush, of the absolute last second Sylvi spent without a family. This was the day we went to pick her up, court decree in-hand, to pick her up from the Orphanage floor for the last time. She was sitting alone, in tight-pants pulled up to her armpits, all wet and smelly from who-knows-what? Dirty shirt, no diaper, sucking her thumb and staring at the door as we walked in. All alone, quiet and sad. But she was looking at the door, just before we came in. Did she hear our footsteps in the hall? Here she was, living her life, growing more sad. In a matter of seconds she was with us, for good. Forever. To her, it was just like that. We came and got her, and never left her again.

It amazes me, on this last night in Russia, what has happened to me. Everyone is sound asleep as I write this, getting ready for the big flight HOME tomorrow. I can turn around, and see Sylvi sleeping on her back next to Kaia. And she has this tiny smile on her face as she sleeps. It's there, I swear it.

She has no idea where we are going tommorrow. Where did last week's hotel go? What are these new places, cars, planes, walks, airports, embassy, Red Square, shopping, restaurants, ice cream? Today she got a balloon at the Hard Rock Cafe. She screamed in terror, until we all laughed and played with it. Then she loved it. All these new things, that used to scare her; they don't matter anymore. We are all there when she lays down to sleep, and when she wakes up-we are waiting. EVERY time. That is all she cares about now. She is so happy. Tonight, as we walked back here after dinner, talking about going home, we passed a bar that music was spilling out of. All of a sudden, she starts singing her baby song SO loud from my front-pack she was in. We clapped and howled at her-the boys, Glo, Kaia and I stopping, surrounding her, cheering for her. She laughed, screamed and raised her arms-so Proud and Thrilled! It made quite a scene. She sang the whole way home, stopping only to fall limp, asleep a block from the hotel.

I am so lucky, to be so blessed in this life. She is more than we dreamed, so beautiful and smart, funny, happy, gentle, sweet and loving. Perfect. That is the last picture-the picture of so much happiness in a little girl who, for 21 days-we weren't sure if she even had teeth, never smiled big enough to see, and never opened her mouth to even laugh. She was so sad, more than even we knew.

I forget a lot of moments in my life, things good and bad. Sometimes I remember more of the latter. But then, there are ones that get to you. Like that last moment she sat in filthy wet pants, lonely and sad. And then, never again. Just like that. It's a blurry picture, but so clear in my mind.

Good happens. God blesses us in different ways, some we see coming. Then others, well-they just show up . But maybe, there are sounds of footsteps in the hallway........

How can I ever forget?

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Sweet Dreams


She was the only one who flew 'Business' class, with her own bed snapped-in the bulkhead! Tryg was eyeballing it, and tried to fit a leg in there someway. If only......
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Fly Girl


This was a shot on the flight TO Moscow-she was just pleased as could be, riding in her own seat. Bright and happy to be with us all, kept looking around and 'checking' on all of us, that we were there.
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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Red Square, Moscow


We just got back from quite a trip. This is a whole different experience, and a Major city with 20 million people in it. The history, surrounding Red Square and the Kremlin next door-is something else. We didn't take any tours, but just walked with a map from the hotel here. Found it, and managed to hit a McD's on the way! Sylvi LOVED it all, especially the McNuggets and Fries.

The shopping, history, and sights are almost too much-we don't have much time for that, as this is our only afternoon 'off'. Which is fine with us. We just can't wait to get home-

Is a windy, muggy day here. Another round of Thundershowers caught us coming back, so we took a cab. Which was great, because I secretly had no idea where the heck we were, and I proclaimed myself the 'direction dude' at the start-saying anyone can read a map. Not here. Saved face on that one, as the taxi went the opposite direction I was leading us, with Sylvi strapped to my sweating belly. I swear she shook her head at me and scoffed!

So be it-she is fitting in already.

Can't wait to be HOME!
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Tuesday, May 12, 2009



We made it! Wow-what a trip. It actually went incredibly well, despite our worries. 5 minutes into the sweaty car-ride in a cramped van, racing to the Khab airport with all our fresh clothes on-BAM! Sylvi throws up a nice one, all over Karl-who was queasy with flu leftover anyway, and just green! SWEET! This is the way it starts? Are you kidding me?

Mom and Tante were awesome, had extra clothes for Karl, cleaned all up, Karl was a trooper and kept saying it was fine, he was fine, no worry. Tryg and I climbed in the back on top of the bags, hiding our noses and gagging. Sweet mercy!

But then, we get to the Khab airport, and it just was as smooth as could be. Got extra seats, bulkhead with a snap-in bassinet for Sylv, she was laughing and happy the Whole Flight! Karl never felt better, declaring after takeoff he was officially over the flu. Wow-the 8 hours 'flew' by, and Sylv napped, walked, played. It was really crazy-the last thing we expected. Got to Moscow at 1 am our Khab time, and just hit the beds here! This is a picture of her right before bed-in the hotel. Wow! With only a few hours' nap, just loving the experience.

Woke up at 3 am, been up ever since. Another doctor appt at 7am, all was fine, filling out embassy paperwork and forms, getting her registered as an American now and tomorrow, then HOME!!!

Planning on hitting a few sights, as we can-maybe Red Square, this afternoon. Raining here.

Miss you all-CANNOT wait for HOME!
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Monday, May 11, 2009


We are Packed, and READY to GO! Tomorrow we fly out of Khab, and on to Moscow for the final step of bringing Sylvi Home Forever-Moscow is where she becomes an American Citizen, official when her feet touch the soil, but papers issued at the Embassy in Moscow. Not a small task, the flight is 8 hours long tomorrow, the 'opposite' way from home. But only 3 busy days there, then on to home! We can't wait. We are all so thrilled to be almost there.

As we spent our last day here, we all thought about what a special trip this was. For each of us, in different perspectives. So meaningful for the boys; real-'worldly' experiences, both good and bad, that they saw with their eyes, and I think they will always carry in their minds. And their sister-well, they saw a unique side to this family, and how it came about, that is hard to put into words. I think they see how love works, and how a family can change a person. Pretty valuable lesson-for all of us, that we get to see every day.

For Glo-well, she was such a Godsend to us here, and I think she will always have that special bond, forever, with all 3 of our kids, and us. She did before, but this trip-it felt like she was as much family as myself. Beyond a 'Thanks' could ever cover. I hope that she will carry something out of it-just for herself, not for us or the kids, just her. I know she will, she is such a positive person-and will forever be. She made this trip what it was, for all of us. But I think she will take something big out of it, for herself.

For Kaia; I see her face so happy with her little girl. She is obsessed with her kids, as any mother is-but to see her with Sylvi is something so special and new. I get to see Sylvi and Kaia, how lit-up they both get when the are coming together. It is the craziest thing to see-how this little girl is blossoming more each day, talking and laughing, toddling around after all of us. But when Kaia goes by, whoa-all bets are off and she is racing after 'Momma!' Pretty cool.

I am totally in love with all of them, of course. Sylvi is going to be a special part of me. She and I have so much fun, and I just can't get over her. She is so beautiful, and smart, perfect; and I am so proud. I love that girl. Her eyes-

The other thing I think about tonight-the sad part of this trip, for me, is the others left behind. As I said before, it is hard to describe when you look at them. Unwanted kids are the saddest part of any society. Not all will be without a family, a few might still get their chance. But most, not. And it breaks your heart. I am not supposed to post pictures of the others, but I feel that it is much a part of the trip as Sylvi coming home. They all are just desperate little people, to just pick them up, or touch their little hands reaching to you makes them so happy. I kept trying to avoid their stares, but finally gave in and played with them, talked to them all. An easy audience, a lot of laughter and smiles and clapping.

Here is a little girl that just kept staring at us, talking baby-talk and reaching out for me. The only other child Kaia picked up (we weren't supposed to), and she just melted into K. I think she could see what was happening, and how we came for Sylvi each day. It was like this girl could see, that Sylvi was getting what she wanted so badly.

She is so alone, and so good. She feeds herself, does what they want her to, doesn't cry much. Because of that, I notice that she doesn't get much attention. She was the last one I said goodbye to as we left. Here, I was laughing at her, when she ate. She could do it all by herself. Big coffee-cup of some thick paste, and a cracker in her hand. She was smooth through it all; in the videos we all think she is an adult in a 1-year old's body:

"You Done?"

There are no diapers in the O once the kids hit 1-year old. Many times we came to Sylvi sitting in someone's pee or worse, they are just too young to know yet. But it is all they can afford, so they make the kids sit on 'Pottys' several times a day. Here I am talking to them while they sit. See that little blonde in the back? She is a big fan of a quick stand-up act. I was asking "Could someone please light a match!", and waving "Pheweee!" and while most didn't get it, well-she was all giggles:

I like to think that Sylvi and her were friends; she always toddled over to see her when we would bring Sylvi back and babytalk to her, and give me her prettiest look, as if to say "You can have me, too?":
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As we fly out of here tomorrow, I think of the other 99 kids in Baby Home 1. I think of how lucky we are. We didn't start this journey out, as doing something good for the world, actually nothing heroic. We wanted another child, and that was simply it. But-it is something that makes you think. Sylvi's life is with our family forever, I think she was born for us and there was some big Power involved here. She is our princess, and I am so amazed that we found our Sylvi. But, what about this girl, and all the others? I hope this little blonde finds her special place, but the statistics are grim. She will learn later how unfair, and how cheated she was. It makes me so sad for her, and the others that grow-up with nothing, and are turned loose at 17; unwanted, angry, and alone. But, at the same time, so much more happy for my little girl. No, we didn't start out to rescue anyone, or ourselves; but we did. Glo, Karl, Tryg, Kaia, and myself; we ended-up Heroes of our Own Family.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Headin' Out!


Just hanging out close here today. Karl is feeling better, playing with Sylvi right now and he just ran in here. To report; he swears she said "Kar" to him. She loves Karl, and was pretty serious when we was sick and would look at him with furrowed brows.

Went on a little walk with Tryg and Glo, checked out the River and through town, wound up in the city center, and in teh center there is this huge, beautiful church. Really warm and nice out today. This cathedral, it is covered in Gold from the outside, a gleaming beacon in this town. HUGE-like maybe 20 stories tall? We noticed people coming out, so we dared to enter. Giant wooden doors-like 12 feet tall, you walk in and it is so quiet-big huge room, people coming to worship and pray. It is all very quiet and solemn, with a soaring ceiling, maybe 100 feet above you with a giant face of Jesus staring down at you. Shafts of sunlight coming through the ring of windows up near the top. Candles burning, women kissing pictures of saints, and crossing themselves. So quiet, you can hear the prayers. No cameras allowed, or hats, t-shirts, or phones. Trygve kept looking up at the face staring back, and said it felt like God was watching you wherever you went in the room. I agreed. Was pretty awesome, even for a Lutheran who wasn't quite sure what was going on there, but knew it was a sacred spot.

We came back, and took Sylvi outside to the playground. She LOVES to go somewhere, when we get her hat and coat on, she has learned that it is an adventure and is all smiles! This picture was just as we got the hat on-So Excited! She saw a stray cat, for the first time, and was mesmorized by it. The birds are fast here, but she just is taking all of it in with big wide eyes.

Glo is making Fried Shrimp for dinner, smells good here, and we are gearing up for tomorrow-our last full day in Khab! The suitcases are creeping out!

Good Times, we are so relieved that Karl is feeling better! I was laying in bed last night, imagining trying to make it through the Hospital somehow with him, here. No English, not even knowing where to go. Yikes. Kind of brings you back to reality-and that it is time to get the heck HOME!
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Saturday, May 9, 2009



Having Fun with MOM!
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Happy Mother's Day!


We are in the final stretch here, and it feels like it. We are all ready for travel, and eventually home! Some friends of ours, that we met here from Toronto, just left this morning. We are wishing we could go too, but only 2 more days until we get her passport, and we fly to Moscow.

Yesterday was the BIG celebration here, for Victory in WWII. HUGE parade, fireworks, street parties all day. We trekked to the parade, and was very crowded and exciting. Poor Karl got sick during it, just as it was starting, and Sylvi fell asleep in the Baby Bjorn (Thanks Erin!), so we decided to bag it, and took a bus home. Good thing, because Karl got worse, ending up with a fever of 103.2 last night, throwing up every 1/2 hour all night. Was a terrible night-but he is still nauseated, but fever seems to be gone now. Kaia spent the night on the floor by his bed. Happy Mother's Day Kaia.

They don't celebrate Mother's day here, but we managed to find a pretty close card, and all the boys' signed it. Last night, Tryg and Glo and I snuck out to a candy shop close by, and loaded up on Mom's candy. So we did have a Mother's Day after all, this morning. Boys were pretty proud, and even signed Sylvi's name to the Russian Card. Pretty cool.

Just more playing around the apartment, although some of the Russian Kids were waiting for hours outside of our apartment building, and when we snuck out to get the candy, ran up and asked us to play 'More Basgetbull at twoo ogluk'. Pretty funny-nice kids, so Tryg and I are on for hoops today, at 2. Sylvi is doing great. She is SO close to walking, just needs a little help now. Really laughing, loves little games of chase, and just stares at her brothers. And Mom. I think her big gift for Kaia, is the way she looks at her, always reaching for her. Trygve is determined to have her say 'Momma' again, today, for Mother's Day. She is stubborn with talking, in her own time. She was singing with me last night, Baby Beluga, and rocking back and forth.

Anyway-we are ready to be home. We wish we had brought more gifts, like for the kids. What we'd give for a couple of packs of NBA trading cards to give out. We will definitely donate the ball, and I'm sure it will be used after we leave.

Happy Mother's Day!
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Friday, May 8, 2009

Glo and Sylv


She sure loves her 'Tante' (Aunt) Glo. She is getting quality time with all of us, and we love it.

Tomorrow is the big Victory Day celebration here, with a big parade, and everything shuts down for the day. We are going to the parade, should be interesting---
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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Lookin' Good, Feelin' Great!


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Day Out





Her first ice cream was so funny-many face expressions!
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Where You At?


Hello! We lost our internet for 24 hours, and it just came back on. We are thrilled, as we were taking for granted the communication that we were having. We LOVE getting your emails and comments, as home feels so far away for everyone here.

Sylvi is doing GREAT-just in Fast Forward mode, doing all sorts of things-more every hour. She crawls around the apartment here FULL SPEED, and pulls herself up to stand on furniture. She is making noises, cooing and talking baby-talk, laughing and giggling, and even making some crying sounds when she is ticked. It is Great for us to see this, as Kaia and I keep being amazed at how QUICKLY she has changed. We used to beg her to smile, to make a giggle, or even look at us. Now, that is all she does. We can leave the room for 30 seconds, and come back-and she smiles and throws her head back, reaches up for you and laughs-EVERY time! It is amazing, and we all love it. She is totally attached, but almost to the point that she is desperate for it to continue.

When Kaia puts her down for a nap, she will only fall asleep and relax if one of us stays there, in sight, holding her hand. It is almost as if, in her baby mind, that she is not sure if it will all end soon? She get's so concerned if we say 'Bye bye', so we try not to say it around her. I can only imagine her fears, but I'm sure that is why she is obsessed at seeing us, constantly checking where we are.

We feel that way, too. She is napping now, and each of us checks on her every 5 minutes to make sure she is there.
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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Thoughts of Love?

These pictures are from a day last week, when she was SO happy to see us back!

It was a Great Night, slept in our room by us, in the crib. She slept until 7 this morning, but we moved her in bed with us at 6, just rolling around in bed and being lazy. Kept opening her eyes and looking at us, smiling and then grabbing a hand and snoozing some more. Happy girl.

As I write this on the couch, she is playing with the boys on the floor, and crawled for the first time, for us! She is already blossoming in all the attention, so happy and smiling at Glo and all of us!

She is giggling and laughing, totally content. The only crying we got, was last night's bath to wash off the old O smell and make her fresh. She SCREAMED the whole time, the boys even got in with her in their underwear to show her it was fun. They got so scared of the volume and racket, they ran away soaking wet! She did NOT like the bath at all, now when we walk her by the bathroom, she casts a wary eye on it and get's serious. We will have to work on that one. I'm sure there are no baths at the O.

The gang is dancing now-to a toy that plays a tune, her rocking back and forth smiling at them. She is learning so much, so different than her past. Every time we came to visit her at the O, she was sitting in a corner just staring off somewhere-alone with her thoughts. We looked at pictures last night after she went to bed, and it looked like a different little girl back then when we would first see her every day, sad and alone with crazy tights pulled up past her belly, disheveled hair, dirty face. Sucking her thumb and waiting.

As I watched her sleep last night, I couldn't help but wonder what must she be thinking in her head? We will never know, but when she looked at us, smiled so big and stretched this morning, and laughed at the boys when they walked in sleepy and crawled in with us all- it must be good thoughts. Maybe thoughts of love?
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