A video about our family

Pierce Family Adoption Registry

Friday, March 30, 2012

Where was I?

Oh, yes. Back to blogging. I know it's been a few days, sorry. It's been pretty busy here - as you can imagine - but never fear, I will now recount our travels from the Motherland to my beloved United States. We got up at 5:30am - well, Tyler got up at 5am - to prepare to leave. The taxi was on time at 6:30am outside. We had to be to the airport by 9:30am and the traffic in central Moscow is SUPER busy, so we wanted to leave in enough time to get there. 30 minutes later, we had arrived. Somehow I was fine paying $100 for a taxi ride that would take 3 hours, but for 30 minutes...it seemed a bit steep. However, there was no throw up on the taxi and we were there by 9:30am, so I guess it worked out. That also meant that we had some 2 1/2 hours to kill before checking in our luggage...the boys were mostly entertained by long walks and eating some bread that we had brought. In hindsight, the boys were super well behaved, although I think I was paranoid to lose them or to have them stolen - so I kept them close at all times.

I think the Moscow airport has something that ALL airports should have - if they don't already: a playroom. That's right, parents out there, this airport has a playroom! It's full of toys and the kids loved it. I loved it! We met another family who was bringing home their two kids that they adopted from another region - can't remember which - a sister and brother, ages 4 and 3. It was nice to chat with them about their adoption and we ended up sitting next to each other on the plane, so we had someone to empathize with talk to.

About a day or two before we fly home, I noticed that Silas never wanted me to hold him when we were out and about. It began to eat at me as he was constantly crying and holding his arms out to Tyler to hold him. Tyler was very sweet and sensitive to me and my emotions. Whether it was the fatigue on the long 10 hour flight to NY or this issue with Silas, alone, I don't know - but at one point I lost it and just bawled like a baby on the plane. I said I wanted to go home to my 3 children who I knew would want for me to hold them. I had been waiting for more children and now the baby (2 years old is the closest that I have) didn't want me. At all. It was heartbreaking. Tyler assured me that with time it would change and that I would be home with Silas all the time during the day, etc, etc, etc, but it didn't help me right there and then. For the record, Calvin DOES want me all the time, so it was a funny thing for me to complain when I had a boy who was constantly vying for my attention. And since we have been home, Silas has certainly given me plenty of loving, so I'm fine now. Below are some pictures that Tyler took the day before we left Russia.

 Lenin's grave - they keep a flame burning at all times.

A guard at Lenin's grave - there are always two.

And so, after we landed in NY, we hurried to get through customs and by the time we picked up our checked luggage and went to recheck it for our flight, they said we wouldn't make it in time, so they booked us on the 7pm flight - we were supposed to arrive in Orlando at 7pm - and we arrived at 11pm. The second flight was better because we all slept. In fact, I remember taking off and the next thing I knew, we were descending into Orlando. Thankfully Calvin slept, too, as I wouldn't have been able to watch him. And no throw up either flight. This is significant, as Calvin had thrown up on both car rides prior to our flights. We were just prepared for him to throw up at any moment. And I asked a nice stewardess to explain to Calvin (in Russian) to throw up into the bag that we had for him.

Danielle, Anna, and Maggie arrived at the airport to pick us up. Jana was kind enough to come sit at the house while Iryna and Keith slept. We made it home around 1am and we all crashed. At that point, it had been 28 hours since we woke up in Russia to leave, and I had only slept for 2 hours of that. It was so good to be home and sleep in my own bed. The boys fell right asleep, too, which was great for us.

We woke up about 7am and had breakfast together before Tyler had to run to work. And our first couple of days have been fabulous. I know that you want to read more about it, but honestly, my time is up and since I have more limited time now, as you can well imagine, I won't be able to update both this blog and my main, Jill, THE WARRIOR blog, so from now on out, check onto that blog for updates. Thanks for your support! Calvin and Silas are finally HOME! :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Visas for the boys

Yesterday we went to the US Embassy to pick up the visas for Calvin and Silas. When we went inside, we were able to bypass several long lines to get to the right window. I felt bad that I was able to cut in line ahead of so many Russian citizens. It also amazed me how many of them want to go to the US. The rooms were packed full of people. We a bit of a wait before they called us up to the window. While we were waiting, a nice, elderly American-looking couple was looking at us. I asked if they were American, and the wife came over to talk to me. To my surprise, she was Russian and her English was very good. She said that she remembers seeing us before we boarded our flight from NY to Moscow two weeks ago. She said she heard us talking to two young men (missionaries) about our going to Russia to adopt two boys. She then commented on how cute Calvin and Silas are. I gave her an English Book of Mormon before we left. They were so friendly.

At the window, a nice woman from CA swore us in and went over paperwork with us. She said that Russia will always recognize Calvin and Silas as Russian citizens. And that means after they turn 18. With our Ukrainian twins, if I remember correctly, they are both American and Ukrainian citizens until the age of 18 and then they will have to choose which country to be citizens of - Ukraine or America.

On the walk back to our apartment, we passed a hot dog stand and decided to try it out. I normally don't do too well with foreign foods, and sure enough, I had diarrhea afterwards. I don't understand how Tyler can eat anything and not have any issues and I always do. Sheesh. Now I am reminded yet again why I cook my own meals here in Russia. And the hot dogs were $3 each! Not exactly cheap.

It was like a long hoagie roll with a hole on one end. And the hot dogs were various shapes and flavors.

The boys have adapted fairly well to us. There is still a big language barrier, but basic needs are communicated and more will follow in time. After talking with my friend, Amy, I am convinced that Silas' orphanage caregivers were mad at him every time he soiled his diaper, because of how expensive they are. When we first got Silas, he would cry and suck on his thumb so hard when we were changing his diaper. I was trying to figure out what he was so afraid of! And now after he has seen us not being upset with him, he is downright playful at diaper changing time. It's a welcome change.

We also switched from showers to baths and the boys love it! They still don't like having water poured on their heads, but they like being in the water. They do hate having their teeth brushed. Oh, how they hate that! I remember Keith and Iryna hating it, too. They still don't like it now, but they tolerate it.

This morning I made blini - a Russian crêpe. We put strawberry jam and sweetened condensed milk inside. They boys liked it, naturally.

My brown-eyed boy! Isn't he adorable? Love my Calvin!

A pastry that Tyler bought. It was a cake with some vanilla creme inside with chocolate and coconut on the outside. It was really good.

The boys love their new shoes and ours! Calvin is very tender. If we raise our voices at all or use a tone with him, he breaks down and cries. It is hard because we love him and want for him to be happy, but he is deliberately doing things that we have asked him specifically not to do - and we really do know that he understands what we're asking of him. We have been doing the time outs with him standing at the wall. Each time he wails and wails. I don't know if he just hates to be disciplined or perhaps he assumed that his new parents would just let him do whatever he wants to do...I don't know. I love on him a lot, so I hope that he feels of our love for him. And we always follow up the time out with love and snuggles.

Daddy's first blue-eyed son, Silas! Silas also carries around his jeans. I think he really likes them.

We are packing up today and heading out tomorrow. I have been eager to get home and let the healing begin, but I know it has been good for us to have some one on one time with Calvin and Silas. Before we adopted the boys, I knew that our family was not complete. And now that we have them, I am so happy. And yet, that incomplete feeling is still there. I wonder what the future still holds for adding to Pierce family. I am so grateful for personal revelation. It feels good knowing that I am doing what God would have me do.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Church in Moscow

This morning we all got ready and headed out to church. This time we had to change from one metro line to another. Tyler had prepared well so we didn't have any problems getting off on the right stop. Silas did get tired of Papa holding him but he didn't want to walk either, at least, he didn't want to walk where we were walking. He is certainly a two year old - wanting his independence!

We had a little difficulty in finding the church building, but I prayed for help and we saw some other people in dress clothes and followed them to the church. It took us a full hour to get from our apartment to the church building. It certainly made me think of how many people have to sacrifice to go to church, whereas it takes us 12 minutes by car back home in FL, certainly not the same as walking with two boys for over half an hour in the snow. Did I mention it snowed nonstop?

We sat next to a sister missionary in the ward - it was a Russian ward - and she translated for me. The second hour we took Silas to nursery and he did great there. Calvin was a whole other story in primary. Tyler went with him and stayed for a while. I thought that Calvin would enjoy being with other children who spoke Russian, but he began to sob and didn't stop until Tyler brought him to me. He was even calling for his mama, poor baby. I can only assume that he thought we were leaving him there, like it was another orphanage or something. I knew that it was important that Calvin understood that he is safe with us and that we will never leave him, so I asked the same sister missionary to translate that for me. He seemed to understand, but I imagine it will take time for him to realize that he is part of the Pierce family now and that we are a forever family.

The second hour is Sunday School and we just kept Calvin with us. The topic was on the atonement of Jesus Christ. We split up into groups and talked about some scriptures and about the life of Christ. One senior missionary made a point that really struck me. In the LDS church, we believe that before we were born, we lived in heaven with Heavenly Father. When we came to earth, a veil was placed over our minds such that we do not remember our lives and events that happened in heaven. On the earth we have scriptures and prophets as well as personal revelation to help us learn about God's plan and develop a personal relationship with Him. Because of the important role that Jesus plays in God's plan, I somehow thought that the veil was not placed over His mind, that to be our Savior He would need to know who He was from the beginning. However, He was born as a baby and had to learn and grow in His knowledge of God's plan and His role in that plan. We know from the Bible that He was aware of His calling to be about His Father's business by the time that He was 12. So what happened between birth and 12 years old? We don't really know, but we can only assume that His mother, Mary, played an important part in teaching Him about God, the scriptures, and the divine calling that He had been given. Surely she taught Him to pray. Through prayer He would communicate with His Father and receive revelations expanding His understanding of His incredible mission. Whereas I am not the mother of the Savior of the world, my children do have amazing potential, and I am humbled by the responsibility to teach them about God's plan and the roles that they may play. Additionally, I need to teach them that through scripture study and prayer they can develop their own relationship with Heavenly Father and learn through revelation the specific roles that He has planned for their lives. And the same applies to me - I can learn God's plan for me through my own personal revelation. What a blessing that is!

After church, we took our hour long trek back to the apartment, followed by a quick lunch and a nap. I have been taking naps when the boys do for the past three days. I need it! I made a nice meal for dinner of chicken strips and macaroni and cheese with peas. It sure does take longer to cook here in Russia, but everyone enjoyed the meal, so it's worth it. Tomorrow we are going to get the visas at the US Embassy and then we are completely done with everything we have to do before we leave in a few days.

YouTube Video

A video of the boys. Silas is so adorable when he raises his eyebrows.

YouTube Video

Silas crying on the taxi from Nizhny Novgorod. Breaks my heart.

YouTube Video

The boys playing together. How cute is this???

The super long escalator by the metro.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The sights of Moscow

Up until last night, I was super eager to just go home. I have been in Russia for 2 1/2 months in the past year and now that I have my boys - I want to take them back to FL. But then, Tyler talked about getting out and seeing some of the sights of Moscow. This really perked me up and it was nice to have something to look forward to today. 

I can see progress everyday with the boys. We have started using more and more English with them, instead of just Russian words. And they are picking up on the sign language super fast. They play together really well - which is nice because they will be together a LOT at home when their older siblings are in school. I find Calvin hugging and kissing on Silas often - so sweet to see. 

Me and Calvin snuggled up.

Silas wanted to join in on the fun.

Papa giving Silas some loves.

My boys here in Russia - just missing Keithy. 

Tyler out souvenir shopping in Izmaylovo Market. 

So, Tyler rode the metro to go to the souvenir market, but he got off the metro one stop later than when he should have. Once he got off the metro, he knew something wasn't right, so he asked this guy, Igor (pictured above with Tyler) where to find the market. This nice guy said that he would take him there. He got his car and drove Tyler to the market, walked around with him and even gave him his phone number in case we wanted to get together with him during our time here in Moscow. 

On the metro. How do you like Tyler's stoic facial expression? He wanted to look Russian.

The escalator up and down to the metro. It was the longest escalator that I've EVER seen.

The stops in the metro and so beautiful underground. They are made with marble and beautiful artifacts. Tyler read that they are so nice because when it was built there was a fear of a nuclear war above ground, so to boost morale, they made the underground areas beautiful.

I loved riding on the metro - I found it very fun. 

Outside the Kremlin.

St Basil's Cathedral. It was an amazing sight to see. So beautiful - I felt like I was in a fairy tale.

Lenin's grave. We think. There was a royal guard posted on either side.

Statue of Lenin.

Nice artwork underground by the metro.

One thing that I couldn't take pictures of was a Russian Orthodox Church. I heard some music playing through speakers outside and found the music beautiful. It sounded like a recording of religious/gregorian chant music. So lovely. We went inside and found a service going on inside the church and the music was from a choir - a very small choir. We watched the people come in and light candles and do some sort of hail mary motion, which reminded me of the Catholic church. It was interesting to see and we weren't allowed to take pictures, so you'll just have to imagine it. :)