Monday, March 16, 2009

Smooth Sailing!

First of all, I want to praise God for His Amazing love! I want all the glory and goodness of this experience and in my life to go to God. I hope you hear that :)!

Leaving Russia was a beautiful and smooth experience. Lex was amazing on the flight from Moscow to Chicago sleeping the last 3 hours of the flight and Jason and I even got to watch a movie. The first step off the plane in Chicago made Lex an American citizen. It was awesome to know he was safe and on American soil. Immigration went fast, Lex ate his first McDonald's french fry at the airport and before we knew it we were boarding for Dallas. From Chicago to Dallas he got a little unhappy and wanted out of his seat but all in all was fabulous for a 3 1/2 year old. I cried when we landed in Dallas because I was so happy to be home and to see Gabi and JR.

I could hear familiar voices as I rode down the escalator in terminal D at DFW . Soon I saw Gabi, JR, my mom, my dad, the rest of mine and Jason's family, as well as the MacDonald and Harris family. It was a glorious reunion joining Lex with his new extended family. We stayed at the airport catching up for about 45minutes and then headed to the house with some of the family. Lex was shy around everyone for the first 15 minutes and then hyper drive kicked in and he was laughing and playing along with the rest of the cousins. It was a beautiful site!

Lex and Jason slept in Lex's room Friday night and Gabi, JR and I slept in my and Jason's room. We got to bed at about 12:30am and Lex was up at 6am ready to play. JR was not feeling good the night before and woke up saying he wanted to go to the doctor so we headed out to find a place that was open at 8am on a Saturday morning. The only one we found was a Care Now in Hurst. He ended up have strep so I'm glad we went to the doctor.

Jason's sister Lizette came over in the afternoon with Chase and Morgan to play with Lex and they were cute together. Doing gymnastics and looking at his new toys. My sister Suzanne, Wade and Payton came over later that day and we had a great time catching up. Lex continued to amaze us with his ability to adapt and get along with new people. He had a hard time going to bed Saturday night even without a nap that afternoon but we really can't blame him for not going right to bed in a new environment. I'm also sure his is testing and trying his limits in his new family. We are having him sleep in his bed in his room even though Jason or myself usually stays in the room until he is asleep.

Sunday we didn't make it to church not because of Lex but because of JR having strep. We are planning on being at church this Sunday and putting Lex into the 3 year old class. Should be interesting?? He may find some new friends and love it or he'll think we have left him in a new and strange orphanage and hate it. At lunch time we headed to my parents and had a great meal and afterwards stayed and talked on the back porch while Lex played with his cousins. It was wonderful to see him be free to roam in a yard with other kids. He laughed, went down a slide, swung in a swing and ate chips out of a bag while sitting on Papa's lap. I bet he thought he was in Heaven!!

Lex has rode his tricycle in our court, chased neighbor kids, ran barefoot in our yard, jumped on a trampoline, had a Popsicle, eaten chips with big kids at the kitchen table, sang a song while sitting on his cousins Preston's lap, played in the bath tub..... I could go on and on but one thing is for sure, this "little dude" has already had the time of his life and we are only on day 3!!! I love it!!

Have a great night and I'll write more soon.

God bless you all for caring about us!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

One more day!!

After our big day Tuesday having the doctor visit for Lex , turning in paperwork for the US Embassy, touring the Kremlin and swimming with Lex we decided to eat in the hotel restaurant and take it easy. Jason and I both ordered fish, he had the whitest, and most flakey Halibut I had ever seen and I had yummy Sea Bass. Lex ate off of both of our plates and loved eating fish. After we ate we were ready for bed.

Yesterday, Wednesday, Lex woke us up at 5:30am. We did not have an appointment at the US Embassy until 2pm but Oleg was picking us up at 12:45pm so we wouldn't be late. So from 6am until 12:45 we pretty much hung out, ate a slow breakfast, played with some toys, showered, ate some ham and cheese in the room and then it was time to leave for the Embassy. Oleg dropped us off at the entrance of the Embassy. There were Russian guards out front checking passports. US citizens can go ahead of Russian citizens in all lines at the Embassy which made things pretty fast. Next we had our bag and persons searched for any electronics and other items… While we were being checked we saw a couple from the doctor's office the day before. They are from Atlanta and are adopting a two year old little boy. This is their third adoption from Russia. Wow!! There were about 15 other couples trying to get visas for children they were adopting and the Embassy ran the appointments very smoothly. We all had a 2pm appointment and once we all were in the room a man came out and made a few general announcements then said they would call us one by one to a window to have our interview. After our interview it would take about 30 minutes to get the visa and then we were free to leave. Everyone there was great and it was a chance for the kids to have a "play date". It seemed like most of the kids were boys about 2-3 years old. It was really interesting hearing where all everyone had to travel to in Russia and what their experience had been like. I talked with one lady from California that was adopting from an area called Archangel North of Moscow by the White Sea. Unfortunately they had the opposite story from us. She said their region always waives the 10 day wait period and for some reason they were the first couple in 10 years to NOT have it waived. Their orphanage was a 4 hour drive from where they were staying and they had brought their child to the court date and were prepared to take him from there. The husband went with the driver to take him back to the orphanage and she had to make calls to push back their travel plans. UUGGHH! I can't imagine her disappointment! It made me feel so fortunate and blessed.

We meet several couples who will be on our flight Friday back to Chicago. It should be a very interesting flight. Lex did not want to play with any of the kids at the Embassy. I think he was afraid we were going to leave him there. He wanted to sit in our laps and just watch what was going on. He didn't cry or fuss he just soaked it all in and wanted to make sure he would go home with us. We are continually amazed by his personality and how well it fits with us. We think he is just fabulous and wouldn't trade a thing about him.

It was 4pm by the time our appointment was over. We had been told it was easy to register Lex with Russia here and thought we could get a step out of the way while we're here. Jason and Oleg went to the Russian Consulate and tried to register him but they said it would take two days and they would need his passport the whole time so we didn't move forward with it. We want the passport in our hands so we can make sure we get on that plane!!!

I didn't know how much stress I had still built up regarding the adoption paperwork and the relief I felt after getting his visa was beautiful!! I felt so light and easy. I cried with joy when we got back to the hotel room. Since Lex had woke up at 5:30am I also felt exhausted. We went for dinner at our favorite buffet place for a 3rd time at about 6pm and then went back to the room to get some sleep. Jason had taken a nap that morning so he went out to find an internet café while Lex and I went to bed. Jason arrived back at the hotel around 10pm with a long stem, red rose and said he had found a new area of shops and restaurants to explore.

Gabi called about 12am and it was wonderful to hear her voice. She sounds so good and happy and my mom and dad said the kids have been so good and upbeat. JR didn't want to talk to us and we didn't force the issue. We can't wait to get home and hug and kiss all over those two cuties! I know there will be conflict between Lex and our kids at first because he is used to having all of our attention but things will stabilize after a few days I'm sure and he will learn his place in the family soon enough.

We woke up today at about 7am and went down to breakfast, took our time eating again then decided to go on a journey outside of Ref Square area. Jason got a map of the Metro station and asked the concierge about some places to visit. He was the second person to recommend a park in the suburbs. We found the Metro station we needed and got tickets for our adventure. We asked some police officers by the train if we were going the correct direction by showing them the map and we were. The Metro is a wonderful and inexpensive way of travel. They also have it marked very well. Better than the streets above actually. After getting off at our stop we were a little confused. We couldn't see a park or really anything but apartment buildings for blocks. We decided to head a direction and see what we could find. We lucked out and had gone the right way after we saw a large open area with some people cross country skiing. That's pretty much all that was there but it was a good chance for Lex to run and get some good exercise. We walked around a while and then went back towards the Metro station. We ate lunch at a place near the station in the suburb that had a dish like a Gyro but a red sauce instead of a yogurt sauce. Lex ate a fresh vegetable salad of cucumbers and tomatoes and wanted to eat the raw onions off my plate. I only let him eat a few because I wasn't sure if it would hurt his stomach but he seemed to really like them. Crazy!

After getting back to the hotel we all took a nap and are just getting up now. Jason is taking Lex for a swim at the hotel pool and I am going to shower and get ready for walking to the new area Jason found last night and for dinner. We will also need to pack for our flight tomorrow. Those words sound wonderful! We realize how special this time has been being able to be us 3 for a week together. We have learned so much about each other and feel we have begun to set some good boundaries.

Again we thank you for all your prayers and love. God has been so good to us and I am thankful we live in a day and time that we can email and stay communicated through the internet. We leave for the airport in the morning and will be traveling all day so I won't be posting a new blog until Saturday afternoon at the earliest. I hope to fill in about the flight and return home along with adding pictures at that time. Praise God for all he is doing in our lives and for all that he will be doing in the near future.


Jason and Stephenie

2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all of our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

One day closer to home!

It is Tuesday afternoon and we are one day closer to home. Halleluiah!! I can hear the angels singing…or is that JR and Gabi?

We have had a fun two days but I have to confess I've been a little depressed. I've missed Gabi and JR so much it hurts! The court decision to waive the 10 day wait period was such a blessing but it also meant we won't see Gabi and JR for about 14 days straight and I had not prepared myself to endure that. As I type this I realize how crazy it sounds. How many times have I prayed for a getaway and now that I have one all I want to do is go home! From this moment on I am going to live in the moment and enjoy my wonderful, handsome husband and my beautiful, perfect little boy. FYI…Sandi's verse for today is Phil 4:6 "Do not be anxious about anything…" how perfect is that!! Way to go God!

Jason took Lex swimming yesterday and I got to video the experience. It was pretty great. When they got to the edge of the pool Lex started whining because he wanted to take his bathing suit off. I think he thought it was a big bath tub. Why wouldn't he? After Jason held him and went deeper into the water he began to ease up and enjoy himself. He really started to like the water and after an hour and half of Jason swimming with Lex on his back, teaching him how to kick, and splashing each other to death Lex still did not want to get out of the water. I am so glad he enjoys the water and is not afraid of it. You all know what water people we are and Lex will have a full summer by the pool and in the lake or Ocean.

After swimming I made some sandwiches in the room while the boys showered off and then it was time for a nap. We haven't had nap time around our house in years so it will be interesting if it continues when we get home. Now that I think about it, isn't the 3rd child supposed to nap in the car on the way to pick up the other kids or going to soccer practice? I don't think they really get designated naps do they? Anyway, Jason went downstairs in the hotel to catch up on some email and I stayed in the room with Lex and read part of a great book that my sister-in-law Earlena got us called "Loving the Hurt Child". It has some wonderful thoughts and techniques we have already began to use on Lex. One of them being to nurture them as you would an infant. They missed out on those important years so it is like food to their soul when you cradle them, say nursery rhymes and sing to them. He has really enjoyed this interaction. When Jason came back upstairs he was ready to go out. I could have stayed in and ordered room service but I knew it would be good for me to get out. After crying for a while about missing Gabi and JR I got ready and we headed out for dinner. We walked past some very swanky restaurants and Jason was sweet and said "let's go in and eat, it will make you feel better" but I just wasn't in the mood. We walked in a very expensive department store called Gym, they pronounce it "goom" and it was interesting to see how many international designs they had. Very vogue! We decided to eat at the same restaurant we ate at the night before with the buffet because it was so good and we knew it would be a sure thing. This whole time Lex is being such a champ. He is very obedient, doesn't make a fuss and is happy to be along for the ride. He is already saying a few words in English like "open, 1,2,3 go!, and the all important peepee". He has said Babi and R and Gabi and JR, and repeated a few other words for us but not sure any of them stuck.

Last night Jason and I went to sleep early but woke up when mom and the kids were trying to reach us. It was 12:30am here but I would have gladly woken up at any time to talk with them. It was wonderful hearing their voices and their stories of the week. Faith had a bomb scare last Thursday, Gabi stubbed her toe really bad and thinks she might lose her nail, and they both miss our dogs tons! After talking to them Jason decided to watch a movie because he couldn't go back to sleep but I on the other hand could sleep much better after talking to our babies. Our alarm clock (Lex) woke us up at its normal time of 6:30am and we started getting ready for our big morning in Moscow. We ate our wonderful buffet breakfast with no one throwing up this morning and our "helper " Oleg was at the hotel at 8am to be at Lex's 8:30am doctor's appointment. The US Embassy works with 3 Dr's in Moscow for their "okay" medically on children being adopted from Russia to the US. This Dr was one of the 3 so we saw 2 other families in the waiting area with their new children. Oddly enough they were all boys around 2-4 years of age. (Hmmm?) Interesting. The doctor was a sweet man that was very good with us and Lex. He said the only thing we have to worry about with Lex is the ladies…he called him a George Clooney look alike. Of course we think it's true! J The doctor also stated that Lex probably has vitamin D deficiency and that his muscles needed to be worked. We have been giving Lex gummy vitamins since we got him and with as much walking and swimming he has already done I think he has begun to work his muscles. Our next stop was the US Embassy where we stayed in the car and Oleg turned in our paperwork, including the new Dr's report, for Lex's visa. We have an appointment tomorrow at 2pm for our interview and then we should be good to go!

Oleg dropped us off at the Kremlin and Jason, Lex and I toured the beautiful walled area for about 2 hours. Again Lex impressed us with his ability to stay still and be a trouper as we went from the Patriarchs Palace to the unbelievable cathedrals and so on… the history and detail is amazing! After touring we were starving and knew there was a mall near Red Square that would have some food. We ate pizza at Sbarro's and it was fantastic. Eating Sbarro's pizza in Red Square is much more exotic and rich tasting then eating it in the food court at Grapevine Mills Mall. I highly recommend it!

It was just a 10 minute walk back to our hotel where we promptly put Lex down for a nap and we laid down as well. We have all been up for about 30minutes and Jason has been answering emails as I type this. Lex is playing independently with his toys, and we are going to try to have him continue independent play every day so he will be okay when we get home and need to get things done around the house. I think Jason has swim lessons planned in about 15 minutes. He is determined to have Lex be able to get to the edge of the pool by the time we get home. That would be great!

All in all it has an amazing blessing have Lex in our lives. We are so thankful God has prepared the steps for us that we have taken and know that His hand continues to guide us. We feel blessed to have such an amazing support group and adoption agency. International Guardian Angel Adoption Agency has been a continual reassurance in our process their love and professionalism has been superb. Our contact, Tanya, in Penza has called twice since we have been in Moscow to check on us, the sweet woman, Alexandra, who runs the agency along with her husband has called several times with love and guidance for us. We are well provided for and our cup over runneth!

We love you all and as always, to God be the glory.

Jason and Stephenie

Sunday, March 8, 2009

2nd Day in Moscow

Wow! We've done a lot since I've last blogged. This is the first time I've had internrt access besides my cell phone. Where to start??

We left Penza on Saturday night after having a fabulous meal at Sergy and Angelica's apartment. They are a wonderful missionary couple who are from Penza and felt lead to live and serve Penza for Christ. They love the Lord and are a beacon of light in a city of unsaved. They have their apartment configured very "American". After traveling to America over 12 times they decided to knock down walls and open their main living area and kitchen to each other so they can fit more people in their apartment for Bible studies. They work with a lot of orphanages now and help the kids after they have "graduated" and are put into the world on their own. God placed this mission on their hearts over 10 years ago and when they approached the orphanges to ask if they could come in and "play and love on the kids" the director called them perverts and to go away. They did not give up and by persistants and prayer they were allowed to visits the kids one year later. This has grown into a full time mission.

Sergey brought us to the train where Tanya and Sasha were there to say goodbye to us. It was a very nice gesture and very a heartfelt goodbye from them all. We have been so blessed to have been surrounded by so many wonderful people on this journey. We prayer is that we touched them as much as they have touched our lives.

Lex did great on the train. He has conitnued to amaze us in his flexability. We played with play dough for a little bit, layed him on his own bed on the train and he fell asleep with no tears or whining. I slept across from him and we held hands all night, which was very sweet. We went to sleep at about 9:30pm and woke up at 6:30am. The train arrived in Moscow at 8:30am where Oleg was there to help us with our luggage, get some breakfast, groceries and then to our hotel. Our first stop was MacDonalds. This was Lex's first time at MacDonalds and he only had a apple juice. We are finding he is a very healthy and picky eater. he only wants fresh vegatables, fresh fruit, meat, and cheeses. He does not like bread, yogarts, soups, or potatoes but he drink anything you put in front of him. He loves liquids!

After MacDonalds we went to a grocery store by our hotel. It is called the Central gracery store and it is located next to the KGB office in the center of Moscow. It is the nicest grocery store I have ever seen!! It is a beautiful building with chandeliers and gold leaving on the ceiling. The food was also very exquisit. Exotic foods from all over the world were displayed and servers were on every turn wanting to help you shop. After we picked up some sliced ham, cheese, fruit, cucumbers, tomatoes, water (Americans can't drink the water in Russia) and dt coke we headed to our hotel. We had booked Peter the 1st hotel on and it was at a special rate or we could not have afforded it. Well, it has not disappointed. Shops like Escada, Versace are down the street as well as many restaurants and malls. The hotel itself is beautiful and very international. Our room is large with two double beds and a great bathroom. A wonderful buffet breakfast is included in our hotel stay also. There is a heated, indoor pool and work out room so please do not feel sorry for us. I am sooooooooooooooooooo thankful to be here!!!!! (Can you tell I'm happy with our accomidations?)

The first thing we did at the hotel was give Lex a bath and shower ourselves. Oh! It was wonderful!! Then we ate a small meal in our room of ham and cheese roll ups, and fruit and then put Lex down for a nap. We also took a nap. It was wonderful! I am also very thankful Jason is able to be here during this time because we are really having some good bonding time as well as setting some bounderies. Lex has been testing his "funnel" and there have been many times where have to push him further down the funnel. He is really testing Jason. We think because he has always had woman caregivers he is used to me but he has been testy with Jason. Throwing things at him and hitting him. Jason has been very good and calm, setting the example that those actions will not be permitted and moving forward in love towards Lex. After our nap Jason and Lex took a walk and I read a little bit. I think I was a little depressed being away from Gabi and JR and even saying that right now I have to fight back tears. I miss them so much and can not imagine if I would have had to stay another two weeks! Praise the Lord that He saw fit to waive the 10 day wait period for us!!!!!

When the boys came back after their walk Jason said he saw a few good restaurants and was starving so we got ready for dinner and headed out. We walked about 5 minutes and Jason's cell phone rang and it was my mom saying "hello". It was wonderful to hear her voice and she said they would call again with the kids in about an hour. The kids were with Suzanne and Wade at Hillside Church. We are so great ful for our family and ALL they have done for us while we are away. This sudden turn of events left a gap that they filled quickly and without hesitation. I know it is something they did not intend on for their past weeks but they have been so awesome to love on Gabi and JR. After our phone call we went to a restaurant that Oleg had pointed out for us that is a buffet of salads and entrees. It was packed and 80% of the restaurant was smoking but we found a non smoking section down a set of stairs and ate there. It was a room with great character because it was under the streets and had a brick ceiling with a lot of dints and columns. Jason got the buffett and I got Borsh soup (beet soup) and pancakes with meat in them. It was wonderful! Lex did great and again I am assured that he will do fabulous going places when we get home. (What a relief!) While we were at dinner the kids called and JR talked for a minute but was not interested in us. He says he doesn't miss us and I think part of that is his defense. Gabi got on the phone and said she missed us soooooo much and she can not wait for us to come home. Uggghh! I had to cry in the restaurant and when Jason asked if I was okay I told him I couldn't talk about it our I would bot be able to stop crying. I have tears in my eyes now as I type this even.

After dinner we walked back to the hotel, brushed our teeth, and went to bed. Lex did great sleeping in his own bed and Jason and I slept in the other bed. I hope that is a sign that he will do good in his own bed at home. We all slpet good and Lex woke us up at 6:30 this morning. We dressed, brushed our teeth and headed down for our first breakfast at the hotel. We were so impressed with it and excited to have a nice, long meal. It is snowing right now, it is wet snow and I doubt we will be going out today so we thought a long breakfast will kill some time. But Lex had another idea. He had drank quite a bit of water in the room from brushing his teeth and right when he got in to the restaurant he drank a large apple juice. Well, all that liquid decided to come back up as Jason and him were looking at the food. Luckily there were plates near by and Jason was quick to grab a plate and Lex threw up liquid all over it!! NICE! Jason was sweet and brought him upstairs and I stayed down stairs and ate. After I ate I told them to keep our table and went to tell Jason to go eat down stairs to finish eating. I stayed in the room with Lex and Jason went down to eat. That is where we are at so far.

Yesterday was "womans day" in Russia so today is a holiday. All offices are closed so we can't get anything done and will just have to hangout today. Jason is going to take Lex swimming and I'll video. That should be interesting!

Tomorrow we have a 8:30am Dr appointment for Lex's medical to be checked out by a Dr from the US Embassy, then we have a 1pm appointment at the US Embassy.

Thank you again for all your prayers and love. We are looking forward to being with you all very soon!

Love and glory to God,
Stephenie and Jason

Saturday, March 7, 2009

First full day with Lex and last day in Penza

First of all I have to thank you for all the sweet emails and comments on the blog. We can not express of much it means to hear from our support group back home! Your prayers and words of encouragement are huge!!!

The lord has brought us on this journey for a wonderful reason and we understand and are fully aware of His presence and guidence but our human nature gets worn down sometimes. Lex is a beautiful, healthy boy who seems to be very bright and processes things very well. His only downfall is balance. He has a little problem staying balanced. You would think he has just had a glass of vodka, not water. He stumbles everywhere.

Last night he slept on the couch and Jason and I slept in the bedroom in the hotel. He slept all night and was sweet thismorning by quitely walking in our room and looking at us. We brought him in the bed with us to cuddle and I'm sure that's the first time that has happened. He was very uncomfortable. I think he will be very independent.

We played for a little while and then went down for breakfast. Lex had a juice box and 1/2 bottle water, banana and crackers before we went down for breakfast so he didn't eat anything. Jason and I had the usual, which means whatever their serving that day, consisting of an egg omelete with small peices of tomatoe with two hot dogs. Strong coffee, two peices of bread with butter and strips of raw fish, and cherry yogart on the side.

After breakfast we went for a long walk down to the flea market and looked at all the great things the locals were selling. Mostly clothes and boots. Speaking of boots check out the picture of my cool birthday boots Jason bought me since we've been here. I love them! Lex started to cry right when we got to the hotel. We're not sure if it was from exhaustion or being frightened but the timing was right. We just headed up stairs and cuddled for a while. Jason and he is playing play dough right now. We're not sure if he's ever played with play dough before. He seems to like it. As i'm looking at them I have to mention his clothes are a little big... he is more of a 3T, not 4T.

Tanya just showed up to help us with some paperwork so I have to run....
Love to all,

Friday, March 6, 2009

We have Lex!!

Well today has been an "excellent adventure" ! Quote by Bill and Ted. Jason and I both got a good night sleep last night. The best we have had so far on the trip.

Breakfast is included with the hotel so we eat here every morning and it was exactly the same this morning as it has been all week. Jason was his sweet self this morning but added a special birthday flair to it. Tanya and Sasha were at the hotel at 10am to take us to get Lex's passport and they were right on time. They also had the most precious gifts waiting for me in the car. Little wooden Russian people, a beautiful mirror compact and two watches, a mens and a womans. Jason and I put the watches on right away. They are watches that are made in Penza. After getting the passport they dropped us off at the hotel because Sasha, our driver needed to change his tires from his winter set to his "all season" set. In Russia they have winter tires that are the rims with tires that have metal spikes in them to help not skid on the snow. Pretty cool concept except they really beat up the roads. Tanya also had a program at her daughters school for all the mothers since it is womans day on Monday. We have found out they have a holiday about every other week here. It's crazy, they all get each other flowers, chocolates for every holiday.

Jason and I had some shopping to do so we walked down the street to a childrens store. It was kind of like a very, very small Babies R Us. We wanted to buy presents for Lex to give to all of his friends when he said goodbye to them. We also went to a place called Orange which is a fast food place that is decorated pretty cool. They have headphones hanging up if you want to listen to music and other trendy music videos playing. After lunch I went back to the room to book our hotel for Moscow, which we'll be at Peter the 1st. It looks really nice and we got a great deal for Moscow. Jason went to buy gloves for Lex and then it was time to head to Kutnetks to pick up the little guy. We stopped and bought flowers on the way so Lex could give one to each of his caregivers and tell them goodbye.

The drive was good and we arrived being greeted by the director. He walked in with us and some of the other caregivers joined us. They also had presents for my birthday, so sweet!! The director gave me a beautiful antique tea cup and the social worker gave me a Russian doll. They brought Lex into the directors office and we told him to give a flower to each person in the room and a big huge. He did great passing out the flowers and we were able to video the whole thing. Jason then said a few words of thanks and then the director said a few words that were very sweet to us. He asked us to keep him informed on Lex when he does something good in the future. Then it was time to change his clothes and say goodbye to his friends. Jason and I got in big trouble when they saw we were not putting tights under his pants and that he only had on one undershirt. They asked us to put 2 undershirts on when we got to the hotel. ???Crazy!

Lex said goodbye to his group and happily gave the toys to them. Happy until he had to leave without one. We had plenty in the car but didn't think to have one for him to walk out with. We did get to see that he's a good little scrapper! We wont have any problem with kids taking his toys. It was a sad and happy goodbye at the orphanage. He has been there since birth and many of the woman have cared for him his whole life. They were busy telling us what he likes and doesnt like, what to feed him, how he likes to play... it was great! Well, until they saw that I didn't have a hat for him. His coat has a great fur lined hood but I had forgot the hat back at the hotel. Man, they were not going to let that kid leave without a hat! I feel bad but we had to take one from them or they wouldn't let us go.

Lex did great on the two hour ride back to Penza, busy looking at books, playing tea set, and doing a puzzle. He is very independent and was wanting to do it himself, although he would let me hold the puzzle peices. We got to the hotel and Tanya came in with us to help us order our dinner at the hotel restaurant. I ordered pea soup, Jason had a vegatable salad, a chicken stew kind of thing that was actually very good, and mashed potatoes. Lex said he wasn't hungry but then we said "has anyone ever asked if he was hungry before?" He may not know how to respond. We ordered him a white grape juice drink and I had sparkling water (that was the only water they had). First we learned he does not know how to drink out of a straw, we tried to teach him but he couldn't get it. We know he had carbination for the first time because he tried my water and looked like he had just eaten something really sour. We thought it was funny so we kept giving it to him. We also videod it.

He has done so good tonight! After he ate a little at dinner we went back to the room and he looked around a little. Jason walked down the street to the pharmacy to buy some pull ups just incase he might have an accident. The cleaning ladt came in to give us more linens and she was dressed a little like a caregiver from his orphanage and he started to cry and cling to me. So, I guess that means he's happy with us. Praise God he already has a connection with us. He took a bath, brushed his teeth for the first time in his life (which he loved), he wanted to sleep with his toothbrush but we didn't think that would be a good idea. Jasan and I sat with him for a few minutes then said he had to go to sleep on the bed we had made for him in the living area of our one bedroom hotel room. He whimpered on and off and Jason and I probably only had to comfort him about 3 or 4 times before he feel asleep. He has been amazingly easy! We just love him already. Oh, another funny thing... when we got back to the room he kept picking up my Bible and sitting on my lap for me to read it to him. I love that forshadowing!!!

We feel very blessed to be where we are today and that in a few short days we'll be home with another Minor. I think he's going to fit in fine. I'm really not worried about taking him places or being around people now. I know we'll have to watch him and make sure he is not being totally over stimulated but I think for the most part he'll do great.

Thank you again for your prayers and love! Keep it comin!!

Love and glory to God,
Jason and Stephenie

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Good morning!

Jason and I are still reeling from yesterday! God pulled a fast one on us! I'm not sure why we're so surprised. He is God and we all know what a huge sense of humor he has!

I've been up for about two hours looking at hotels for Moscow. I think I found a good one called Peter the 1st. It's close to Red Square, has an indoor pool and includes breakfast for about $250 a night which is amazing in Moscow. For my friends who have been here before you know hotels are usually closer to $500 a night there. And Peter the 1st seems to be very 4 starish. We'll book it later tonight or tomorrow so email me if you know anything bad about the hotel or great about another hotel in Moscow.

We booked our air home yesterday and American does not fly out of Moscow on Thursday's so we will be coming home on Friday, March 13!! I can NOT wait! We should arrive at around 8:30pm into DFW. I can not wait to see Gabi and JR! And for all of you to meet little Lex.

We should be getting Lex this Friday (my bday) or Saturday and we can not wait. I keep thinking about when he told the kids in his group that he would be leaving "tomorrow". I thought at the time,"poor kid, its going to be a couple of weeks". I really believe God had been whispering in his ears that he would be leaving this week and preparing his heart to leave long before we even knew. I have heard many of you pray for God to prepare his heart and it has been my prayer also... I just am again amazed at how literal and real God is! He loves us so much and cares about all of our small intimate details.

Today we will be bringing gifts to the judge, because she deserves a "thank you" and some other paperwork to get Lex's passport. He will be getting a Russian passport and will not be an American until he reaches America. I thought that was interesting!

I have learned a lot about what it means to be an American, especailly a Christian American while we have been here. We really do enjoy such great previledge!! Last night Jason and I went to get a piece of pizza down the street at YES Pizza. When we were ordering a young Russian boy/man started talking loud to the counter girl and then said to us in English "you should speak Russian when your in Russia. I was in your country last year and spoke English you should speak Russian when your in my country". Jason and I agreed with him and said we were trying and have tried to speak it since being here. He was fine and walked away but I did notice sat with his face looking out over the tables just incase he spotted him. We talked about how we agreed with the guy and how we want to make other people feel comfortable and not uncomfortable when they are in unusual circumstances.

Anyway, we have a lot of places to go to today and we are going to head down to breakfast now.

Love you all,
Stephenie and Jason