Saturday, July 31, 2010

We've got this morning routine that I'm not sure I like. Caleb wakes me up by coming into bed at about 6:30. Where, oh where did that come from?!? I try to get him to go back to sleep, which occassionally happens. When I checked on Hannah, surprise, surprise, she was still asleep in her bed, facing the wall. You have to understand that she spends every night and every nap with her head hanging over the side of the mattress so she can look out the door and see what's happening. We never close the door all the way, and only pull it to touching after she's asleep. Always leave a light on in the bathroom, so she can see some light coming down the hall if she awakens. So that was big.
We went to the farmers' market and got some sweet surprises there. First, we saw some CC friends. They won't be joining us this year, so it was nice to visit. Then, when talking to the chicken guy, somehow we started talking about me being out of the country. Of course, that is such a nice story to share with people. He asked if he could pray for Hannah. Sure. It was really sweet to hear him pray blessings on her and our family.
We left his tent area and moved on to buy some green beans, saw our friend again, chatted a bit, then another man came up to Hannah and gave her a bracelet. He proceeded to give each of the kids one, and me, too! So nice of them.
I didn't share it before, but when we were walking around in Tbilisi, in the airport in Tbilisi, and even Amsterdam, people would move out of their way to stare at Hannah's feet. It really irritated me that they would do that, but you know that's to be expected. I must say there were sweet people, too. So, to come home, not have the staring, and such kindness shown, it really makes me feel good.
We went to the library to get some books, and stopped at a garage sale on the way home. There was a cute little doll sized table and 2 chairs. How fun for the girls! I was short on the cash they asked for, but I live around the corner and told them I'd be back. I sent the big kids over with money, which they said we didn't have to pay. What nice things happening to us!
In the middle of it all, I must say, the adjustments are not so easy at times. I'm so thankful mom came over yesterday to give me a break so I could run errands by myself. C and H are learning to be nice to each other, mostly C. Big C and S are learning to be nice to each other. I'm learning to be a constant ref. which is a little wearning. Believing God for His grace to continue. We did have a family meeting tonight to lay down the law about some of the behavior going on. We understand adjustments aren't always easy, but we know God can help us if we allow Him to work in us. Behavior and character are big issues that can't be swept under the rug.
Now, when is my massage scheduled?
Looking forward to tomorrow! Church, Catherine auditioning for a new dance school, and having a relaxing afternoon with friends.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Well, sort of found. I went to the airport this morning to get my stroller. However, I was the first person this guy had ever had come back for one. So, when he couldn't find mine, he gave me another one. I didn't even ask about the passports, because I was sure I had misplaced them somewhere at home.
We ran several errands, came home, had lunch, put the little kids down for naps, started spelling, and got a phone call. The nice lady had been on medical leave and had had 2 passports on her desk for over a week and was just now getting to call me. Thank you, Jesus! So, after naps were done, we went back to the airport for the passports.
(Now for that library book and walkie-talkie.)
Yesterday I noticed it a few times, but much more today- Hannah is singing! I really think she's relaxing and feeling at home more. I don't have any idea what the song is, but she's quite content when she's doing it. More at home, too, in that she still brings me things to take care of, but she feels free to leave the toys she's played with all over the floor!
Also found, a solution to our space issues. Buddy had a friend come over last night to see about enclosing our porch to make a school/play room! Been needing that for a while, and so hated asking for it. Don't know when it'll happen, but it's sometime in the near future.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What an interesting day we had today. First of all, both H and C woke up dry! Then, Hannah spent a great deal of the day crying over little things- not a serious cry, but an "are you paying attention to me" cry. Of course, I was and she brightened when I paid attention to her.
She got to try out the trampoline. At first, she was really concerned about the movement, but her 3rd time on she was having a good time.
I finally heard a real laugh from her today when I tickled her! Music to my ears.
I've been doing PT with her almost every day. She hasn't been able to bend her fingers at the joint closest to her palm. Today, I was able to bend her index finger. Not all the way, but significantly more. So thankful for these improvements.
Tonight when we had dinner, Caleb ate broccoli. He never eats broccoli, so this is very exciting. I remember when Samuel started eating broccoli and couldn't get enough of it. May this be a trend that continues. Not sure if it was hunger or Hannah eating everything, but I don't care.
Now, it's 10 and I have 2 girls not asleep yet, and Caleb was up 2 hours after I put him to bed. 2 nights without melatonin. Maybe tomorrow night EVERYONE will get some .

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

View from The Cross, looking at the old capital of Georgia. Miss those views. Found this picture of our first morning together.
Things we did today
- sat in the dealership for almost 1.5 hours so the rear gate latch could be fixed and I can get the double stroller out. Had a great conversation with a mom whose husband was adopted and watched 2 children trying to beat each other to different play stations.

- went to our upper cervical Dr, and we all feel much better now.

- realized I don't have any idea where my passport and Hannah's are. The holder also has a CC and my driver's license in it.

- got whipped with Hannah's hair one more time, which encouraged my previous decision to cut her hair. It is in her face, even when I pull it back, because it's so thick and heavy, and she wasn't able to push it out of her face. It just won't stay pulled back. It ends up in her food if she turns her head while she's eating. It's too hot in OK to have long thick hair. So, I sat her in the chair (after Caleb hopped up first and had an adjustment on his previous cut) and cut about 5 inches off. She did not sit still, but all in all, I think it turned out great. It's so much lighter now!
- decided to have a Welcome Home get together on Sunday. Feel free to drop by between 3 and 5. No gifts necessary, we'd just like to see our friends.

I know this is going to sound far fetched to some, but I'll share it in the hopes that someone will find help from it. Hannah will be mortified one day that her bowel habits were broadcast over the internet, but oh well. 4 days the first time she went for me in the US, then 2, then 2. Prune juice, cleansing tea. Nothing resulted that you would imagine for that length of time. However, she saw Dr Ray today and, I kid you not, we were maybe 10 miles down the road and she said she had to go. Another thing is that her hands were always cool. Not after the adjustment. She wasn't able to raise her arms much above shoulder lenth without great effort, but it appears much easier. She couldn't give you high fives because she couldn't manipulate her arms and wrists to do that. She did it tonight before we put her to bed. I'm thrilled. Knowing the limits she's had all her life, any new freedom in ability is a huge thing for her. Looking forward to getting our therapy appointments started and continued freedoms for our sweet girl.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Homecoming pictures

A week later, I finally take the time to post them. Thanks Charissa for being our photographer!
Some of the welcome committee.Catherine's first glimpses of Hannah and I.Yay! I missed this great guy.So pleased to see each other again.Almost the whole crew.

Still no camera battery charger. :(

One week home

This post has nothing to do with that, but here it is, a week later. To think, I was somewhere close to Memphis this time last Monday, sooo looking forward to being done with travel for a while.
We did have a Pediatrician visit this morning with some great referrals. Mom came to watch the other 3 while I took her. The latch on my rear gate is broken, and I shouldn't be opening it and that's where the double stroller is, the single stroller is still at the airport, and so I carried her. I really like my Ped. He's such a sweet man, and very gentle with our children. We got a referral to a developmental specialist for chronic conditions, an orthopedic surgeon, and a therapy center. Thankfully, the therapy place is just 3 miles away from our house. I have to call the ortho guy, but the others will call me. I'm so excited to see what therapy will do for her! She is a pound for every inch, and is just a few inches taller than Caleb.

We need to figure out birth certificate and social security for her, which I'm working on today. All things that must be done, but I would rather be just relaxing with the family.
Last night we were having pizza and Caleb wanted another piece. I told him I'd give him a little piece, and he said, "Hello, little piece!" He's having some challenges being sweet today, but I've noticed he and H both have runny noses. Too many kisses, shared sippy cups, and not enough sleep. Which is another reason to be home with the fam.

However, H is showing that she remembers signs, because she signed cry when Caleb was recovering from not nice behavior. She also knows please, eat, and sleep. She called me mommy today. I know it's really cute to hear Dae dah, but it'll make it a little easier for Caleb to understand. An interesting thing to note is that baby toys (12-18 months) are fascinating to her, and she really works to figure them out. She gets really excited when she does. Also, she doesn't understand imaginative play. Caleb and I took some of Catherine's Webkinz and were going to play with them. She had no idea what to do while we played. I'm sure she'll get the hang of it quickly.

One thing I didn't talk to the Dr about is how every time H eats or drinks, not matter how much or little, she burps. It makes me think of the book "Borya and the Burps," but I'm not sure if it's cultural (which I didn't certainly didn't experience while there) or something with not being able to eat/drink right. It doesn't look like she knows how to drink out of anything but a bottle. Even a sippy cup is a challenge. Speech may be in the future for us as well.

Had a nice visit with a smaller version of the Urbans. So looking forward to seeing the whole gang. Late and short naps with the little ones, so we'll see how tonight goes. Got some cream from my friend, Denise, that I'm going to try tonight. Magnesium. Very interesting.

Here's to another great week and even more good things coming our way.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Amazing to think how little time has gone by, but how "normal" our life is now. We've gotten into a little routine that seems to be working so far. Catherine is in charge of dressing Hannah and doing her hair. I am in charge of breakfast and getting everyone fed. H likes to brush her teeth, but C is ready to help her as much as possible (I finish up). We've spent the mornings playing around and doing some little cleaning projects. Hannah is all over the house, bringing us things to help our cleaning, and just tasting her freedom. We got some knee pads that seem to work well for her- a titch big, but really workable. Lunch is pretty simple (she's still fast friends with her fork and spoon, but is fine if I take her plate away while there's still some food on it), followed by Caleb going down for a nap with a little snuggle time, then I get H for her nap with a little song, a "chu mad" (be quiet) and signing sleep. "Ho," she'll say and sign sleep back to me, followed by a bit of silence, some calling, a reminder from me to be quiet, then shortly after that she'll go to sleep.
An hour later, after I've had a little time with S and C, I wake C and H up for the rest of the day. Yesterday, we went swimming at the Y, which was a lot of fun. Sadly, I'd been wearing the maternity suit I'd worn when I was pregnant with Caleb and it felt apart. A quick run to Walmart to get one, which I never tried on, and back to the Y. Just in case it wouldn't work, I stayed on the side to cheer on C and H's bravery in the water and knit. They liked their life jackets, and each found the things they like to do. Buddy took H down a little slide, which was a lot of fun. I wasn't sure if she would enjoy it, but it went well. They had fun watching S and C go down the big slide, and going around the lazy river. 2 hours later, it was time for home and dinner. Dinner and baths, then C down for bed with some snuggle time. It's been a little different now that I'm home. He doesn't really want to go to bed without plenty of snuggle time with Daddy. Then Hannah gets melatonin, some snuggles, a song, "chu mad" and signing sleep, and she's out quickly. Some time with the big kids, them down to bed, then Buddy and I are asleep shortly after. Seriously, we are pretty wiped after all that.
Today, we braved church as a family of 6. 2 vehicles, since there's room for 5 max in either Buddy's or mine. We weren't any later than we have been with just 5 people, so good for us! Hannah stayed with us in big service, and did really well considering we forgot to bring toys for her. It's not that she isn't used to sitting for long periods of time, it's no books to look at or crayons and paper to color with. I took C and sent the biggest and littlest home with Buddy. Funny story on their way home- H started to say "peeshi, peeshi" and Buddy had to find somewhere to stop. She kept saying it and C started saying, "don't say that word" with the most disgusted look on his face! Pit stop taken care of, and all was well.
I must say it was nice to have little girl time with little Miss today. Only an hour, but I enjoyed it. I think that is going to be essential to keep the transition going smoothly- finding time to keep things somewhat as they used to be, and making sure everyone has their special time with us. It also helps us to focus our attention and keep our connection.
Whole Foods had a southwestern vegetable pie, and I was so excited! Until I tasted it. Nothing can compare to #12, I'm sure.
H is responding to her name almost all the time, and we never call her Natia anymore. We only have the slight grasp of Georgian I had when I came home, but we seem to get our point across, get her points, and if not, she doesn't seem frustrated with us. She gets very excited with anyone who comes to our door. She wanted to get kisses on the lips from some new, sweet friends. It's such a delicate balance for me not to offend my friends and to help H learn her boundaries and proper attachment. Plus the whole germ thing...
I'm thinking about a welcome home party next weekend, with very little prep work on my part, lol. At this point, Sam's veggie and fruit trays sound perfect. We'll have a good time getting to see friends again.
I put one of Evan's diapers on Caleb last night and cried again. If you want to pass on words of encouragement to the Hauflers, leave a comment, and I'll share with them.
One last silly note. When flushing in Georgia, the amount of time you hold down equals the amount of water that flows. I haven't stopped holding the handle down when I flush here. I catch myself everytime and STILL haven't stopped.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Neat nik

Ok, truth be told, there are more piles of paper on my desk than desk peeking through. There are still travel remnants that need to be taken care of, and my children don't always pick up after themselves. I'll graciously leave Buddy out of this. Anyway, enter Hannah. The girl who only likes her crayons to be taken out one at a time, and replaced with the writing tip up. She comes to me from who knows where, with a lego piece, a piece of fuzz, a piece of paper, a shoe, letting me know they need to be taken care of. However, she brought a bunch of blocks into our room and left them. Been a great diversion for her while I blog. ;)
Today, she found a pencil box of Catherine's that has rubber stamps and ink. Funny thing is, Caleb wanted to play, too. But Hannah, ever so patiently said to him, "Cala, ah rah, ah rah."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cars, sleeping, and adjustments

The last time I drove a car was July 1st, I believe. The last time (before I arrived home on the 19th) I was in the front seat of a car was the 2nd. Yesterday, I had to take our adoption papers into the insurance place, and I drove myself. I almost drove on the wrong side of the little loop going out of our neighborhood! Thankfully, no one else was around and that was my only driving error. Today, I took C and H to the dentist in Tulsa. There was a (sad to say) lady driver in front of me who drove like a Georgian! She straddled that middle line like a true veteran of Tbilisi. Good memories. It's nice to drive, but it's really nice to be home and not drive anywhere.

Sleeping. Where do I begin? Of course, the first night was terrible. The second night was slightly better, although it took a bit for her to get quiet. Both girls slept til after 9. I didn't let Hannah take a nap yesterday so she'd be good and tired. It still took til after 9 pm to finally stop talking, then she woke before 5, asking for water and the potty, which woke C, then talking until 7. I tried to just let her talk to herself and show her it wasn't time for the world to be moving yet. Finally, I got in the shower, since I couldn't get back to sleep. When I got out, both girls were back to sleep. Today I let Hannah be in bed 1 hour, sleeping or not, and woke her up. I know she is used to her mid-day rest, but I need bed time to be more peaceful for both girls. Catherine is exhausted and cried if you looked at her funny today. So, tonight, melatonin was again put into action, the door was shut by Catherine, the night light on, and quiet within about 20 minutes. That my friends is a miracle! Is it the formula? That is the question of the day.

As far as adjustments go, I think it's the biggest for me. Juggling 4 children who are all quite vocal about needs, who are all showing the changes are touching them in one way or another, all on much less sleep than I need. Today, I got ready to go to the dentist only to find we'd left the stroller at the airport, leaving me no choice but the double stroller, and Buddy hadn't taken the car seat out of his truck, so I only had one. I went to the wrong dentist, after unloading the stroller, getting both kids in, fighting through the door, and standing in line. Back out the door (thankfully, someone held it for me), unload the kids, pack up the stroller, down the road a mile, unload the kids, go through 2 sets of doors, fill out the forms, only to find out they wouldn't take Hannah yet. At least we found out Caleb's teeth are great, no damage from all his falls, and Hannah got to see what happens for her trip.

Catherine loves her sister, and wants to do everything for her, even carrying her around. She's not that much bigger than H! Her only thing is getting some sleep.
Samuel loves her, too. He just has other things to do, but when he is with her, he's very sweet and protective of her.
Caleb has done amazingly well, although he has had a few a moments when he was done sharing his toys. He talks so sweetly to her and told her yesterday when she was acting sad about something, "It's ok, you're not going anywhere. You're home."
Hannah, and this is just honesty, had been hitting, kicking, scratching, pinching, sticking out her tongue at me, and asking Lika to hit me for her when I would tell her not to do something. The majority of the time, she was as sweet as can be, but I'm pretty sure she didn't have many limits before. Yesterday, when I told her she couldn't do something, she only stuck her tongue out once, and barely kicked at me. A stern look and "ah rah" were enough to take care of it. her talking back times are mostly gone. She used to not be able to be out of my sight for any length of time without calling for me constantly, and only moving around when I moved her around from one sitting place to another. Now, she gets all over the house on her knees, will come over and say, "Baca" and take off to go explore the house. She used to be very loud when you'd touch her, not a laugh, not a yell. I'm trying to decide if it was the only way she got response, or that she didn't know how to respond to loving touch. Now, I'm hearing a little laugh and she allows me to touch her gently. Interestingly, some friends came over yesterday and she responded to them similarily to the way she first did to me. She was asleep last night within 20 minutes!

I'd say the Lord is good to us.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Evan update

As we were waiting on the plane in Tbilisi, I texted the Hauflers- strength for today from our faithful and true God. Little did I know, as we travelled home, Evan also travelled to his heavenly home. My heart is broken for them, but then I read in the Psalms of His unfailing love for us. How thankful I am that they also know this. Please keep them in your prayers.
A few sweet thoughts since coming home, then I'll share the saga.

Last night when we got in bed (temporarily) Buddy said to me, "You and Jesus are my heroes.) Good thing I was so tired, I would have been laying in a puddle of tears.

This morning, after maybe 3 hours of interrupted sleep, I tried to rest while S and C were playing with H. However, I'd yet to see Caleb and couldn't wait any longer. I went in and woke him up and he gave me the sweetest hug. Then he said, "Is Hannah still here?" As he went down the hall, he told me he wanted to go say Hi to Hannah.

This morning Catherine told me she still likes having Hannah.

Back up a day and a half...

I tried to go to sleep after saying good bye to Giorgi, but Hannah decided going from a crib to a kinig sized bed meant you take up the whole bed in which ever configuration you can. Another night for me on the couch. (I'd slept out there when she wouldn't stop talking and I was really tired.) By that time, it was only 4 hours til I needed to be up, and I was thinking about the Hauflers, the anticipation of going home, the whole last good byes. I slept very little and kept checking to see how much longer I had to sleep. I finally got up, made sure everything was packed, and lay down to rest until the call came. When it did, I had time to take everything down to the street. The couple that lives downstairs came out and offered to help me. At 3am! The lady was going to make me tea, but Zhura and Lika were there. I went and scooped up Hannah and down we went. She was so happy to see Lika and Zhura, and to ride in a pe pe-a again! I was so glad Lika decided to join us, but it was so hard to sit there and know the inevitable was coming. We got to see the lights of Tbilisi as we drove and reflect on the thing I'd seen while I was there.

When we got to the airport, there was a little lady, probably in her 70's or 80's, begging. Dear Lord, how awful is that? I expected Z and L to take me inside and leave, but the stayed with me while I checked in, helped me get up stairs to the passport checking place, and waited while they checked us. The ladies had a little trouble understanding H's last name. I was so thankful they hadn't left me so I could get some help explaining the adoption. I had to show them the adoption certificate and new birth certificate, then they were ok. Then we were off. I had that nauseated feeling again as we said our final goodbyes. That makes me cry again! I just couldn't have asked for sweeter people to be with me. The fact that Lika came so early when she didn't have to really touched me. (Zhura didn't have a choice!)

We got to the gate and got through just fine. My carry on was probably heavier than Hannah, though! As we sat waiting, the lady from security came up to me and asked about the scissors I'd carried through 4 airports and were TSA approved. She said. "It is a problem" and took them from me. I really liked them! They let me push the stroller onto the plane and to our seats. Remember how great it stears? That was an adventure. There was a nice gentleman who sat beside us, who tolerated her very friendly nature. She kept touching him while he was trying to sleep, trying to get the cigarettes from his pocket, trying to take his drink. There was a family sitting in front of us who were with YWAM and had been in Georgia for 5 years. The daughter played with Hannah through the seats, which was really sweet. Every leg of the journey, we had a little testing time, but we survived each just fine. She slept for part of the almost 5 hour flight to Amsterdam, then we only had 6.5 hours to kill in the airport there.

That experience wasn't so great. I had her in a diaper and hadn't changed her from her jammies yet, so I decided to take to the potty and get her changed. However, she HATED being on the changing station and cried so loud, I thought someone was going to pound on the door and demand I stop abusing my child. I got her calmed down and all seemed well. Until she had to go potty again and I laid her down to get her dressed. Worse the second time. To fill a little time, I was going to try to do some PT with her, which was probably a bad move, because I laid her on the chairs and she freaked out, not at first, but after a few minutes. This was not any fun at all! How long can a child sit in a stroller or chair and not want to do something different? But I had no options since she couldn't deal with it. I met a nice family from Frisco, TX who had been in Capetown to help her mother sell her house and move. They homeschool, which was good, since they'd been gone 6 months.

This airline wasn't going to let me take the stroller to the plane. I would have had to carry her a good deal of the way. The realized she couldn't walk and let me take it to the gate. However, they checked it and I couldn't get it until after customs in Memphis. Hannah got some melatonin and actually slept on the 10 hour flight. She would just lay down and go to sleep, wake up, play for a bit, then lay back down form more sleep. I should have joined her, but I had a good book instead.

By the time we got to Memphis, I was so ready to be done! I was tired, I missed people, I didn't want any more testing, I wanted familiar and comfortable. What I got was a ride in a wheelchair, holding Hannah while we went through customs, waited for her visa to be stamped, (she was instantly a citizen), collected and rechecked our luggage, and got to our gate. The lady, Gracie, was very kind and let me take the wheelchair and go where ever I needed to in the airport. I washed my face, put on some makeup, brushed H's hair, and went to the gate. I thought it was EST and the flight was 2 hours. What a pleasant surprise to find it was CST, and the flight was 55 minutes! Before we got off the ground, the final testing came. In the end, she cried like she did in the Amsterdam bathroom. Imagine how tired she must have been- short night Friday, no nap Saturday, long day Saturday, with little sleep Saturday night, short nap Sunday, awakened early Monday, 20+ hours of travelling Monday, and stuck in the airplane again. She couldn't take another "ah rah, shades le bot." No, it's forbidden. It took a bit for the comfort to kick in, but then she was fine. No sleep on this flight, although my body was really asking for it.

Since I couldn't get the stroller, I had to wait for a wheel chair, and it was terrible delaying our reunion! When we got to the waiting area, I was so surprised to see not just Charissa and my parents, but my friend Denise from 30 years ago, the Schmeekles from CC, the Everetts from CC, and the Thorns from CC who had to have driven over 1.5 hours to get to the airport. It was so wonderful to have hugs and see faces. Hannah did awesome meeting so many new people. Catherine was thrilled to see her. It was the sweetest thing ever. Lots of hugs and tears all around. Can't say what the best part was, cuz it was all so fabulous.

As we were leaving the parking lot, we saw our friend John. Shawn, his wife had misunderstood when our flight was coming in, and they had raced from B'ville to make it in time to greet us. We got a few minutes together, and then we were off to the house. Such a beautiful place to be! Caleb was tucked in bed, peacefully sleeping, and we endeavored to follow.

However, H wanted more lights on, cried as soon as we left the room, even though C was in bed above her, and did not respond to her Melatonin as I had hoped. I was so exhausted, Buddy let me go to bed and he lay on the floor by her bed. But I could hear her crying and knew when she asked to go potty at about 12:30, then wanted a drink. My first thought as I got up was that I wasn't on hard wood floors any more and how odd it felt. She cried off and on until I finally went in at 5:30 so Buddy could go to work. I think she finally fell asleep around 6, and at 6:30 I got up to go to my bed. How did she know? She started crying. That was it. The day had begun.
The kids were so happy to play with her, I ask them to play while I rested a bit more. But then I couldn't sleep because I was thinking about Caleb and really wanted to see him. I went in and woke him up so I could cuddle with his cute little self. He didn't disappoint.

It was so nice to make breakfast for the bunch of us and realize I need more bowls, and we need a desk chair now, since I have to use the dining room chair we've had at the desk. They all played so nicely together and Caleb is sharing his toys with H, so sweet. Catherine is helping dress her and do her hair. Samuel is being a sweet big brother, too.
They all wanted their suvinirs, so out it all came. Samuel really liked his sword, but got a nice wound on his leg when he tripped over my stuff. This is why we put it up and will keep it up. What a start to the day!

Mom came over by 9 and then Denise came about 11. We had a great time together. S & C went to science camp (thanks Linda) and C & H took naps while we chatted and looked at pictures.

Buddy was home early, and H was really happy to see him.
Now the day is closing and I am drooping after no rest today. Time for bed for the kids, then in I go. The kitchen can wait, the mail can wait, the last bits of travel can stay for another day. We're together as a family, and I have to say, it's a very good thing.
Sleep tight, I know I will.

Monday, July 19, 2010

We're home! What a fabulous homecoming it was. I'm dog tired, so details will have to wait.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Last Georgian post

This is it! Oh, dear, the tears may start already! Squeeze those cheeks, girl.

After I calmed down, Lika came over and we waited until H had had a bit of a nap, then scooped her up for a walk around the block. I do have a stroller, but it's definetly not suited for Tbilisi streets! For that matter, it's not so hot on our sidewalk, either. I plan to make much use of it tomorrow during a 6.5 hour lay over! I'm sure it'll do much better while I'm dodging people and pulling suitcases. Actually they have carts in Amsterdam, and I intend to use one to quickly get my luggage taken care of and try to get a seat near the bathroom.

We had to exchange money back to USD, since Laris and Tetris are not so well recognized in the States. After I did it, I realized I needed to get some of those pastries I really like for our breakfast, an envelope to write a letter to H's birth mom, and to buy dinner! Thankfully, I still have about 8 Laris (or GEL) left after all was said and done.

I called home since everyone should have been up for church. Catherine and Hannah had the cutest conversation of , "Ga mar jo bat" back and forth. Hannah was so excited, and Catherine was, too.

Can you believe 3 of us ate til we were full for less than $6? I'm going to miss that machahala! Can you believe I only ate vegetable lobiani 4 times? Yes, it's true. Because we had it again for dinner tonight. H really liked it alot, and did an excellent job with her fork. I'm telling you, once you taste freedom, you never want to go back.

So, last trip to the "M" and to Goodwill for the pastries. How I wish I could find them at home! I'd eat them very often.... G is on the other side of Tbilisi, so it gave me a last chance to see the city in daylight. Trying to imprint the images forever in my mind. Crazy to think I'm leaving just like this. In a way it seems sudden even though I've been here and known the date since before I left. It's difficult to explain. Zhura says the next time I come, I'll be here for a month and explore all of Georgia. Sounds great.

When we got home from dinner, I put Hannah in the tub, only it was a small tub in the tub. She did NOT like it and started to cry. Then she calmed down until I started to wash her hair. She didn't like a washcloth, she didn't like me combing her hair, nor drying it with a blow dryer. I popped in the melatonin for her and just kept going. She has too much hair to leave it wet, especially in the a/c, which got fixed today! When she was done, I brushed her teeth and gave her a drink. I think the not sleeping thing caught up with her and she was barely hanging on sitting on the couch. However, once I laid her down, she began her fake cry. This she does until I come in, then she stops and talks. I finally went in and lay down, closed my eyes and pretended to sleep. She kept touching my hands, but within about 20 minutes, she was out! Praise the Lord!

Now, it's time to pack, but first, I had to post this last bit. I did get a phone call from my sweet friend, Shawn, who's going to be at the airport when we get home. Oh, dear, here come the tears! And another call with Buddy, and a call from our fill in translator, Nino. Can you see why it's bittersweet to leave?

Ok, I've got 6 hours to sleep before our big adventure. Love to all of you this side of the world and that. Looking forward to seeing familiar faces and all that comes with it.
Just had a moment of panic. I know my flight is for the 19th, but when I was reading the Haufler's blog, their calendar had the 19th on the spot I know as Sunday. The thought of having missed my flight and not being able to see my family when I thought was so overwhelming, I burst into tears. Quick look at tickets, it says Monday. More tears. So much to get through before this is over.
The Lord is my strength, and His grace is sufficient.
Missing my friend Alicia, who rescued me from 2 very white hairs while waiting at the hospital. Know they're relying on the Lord's strength as well.
By the way, the a/c died, so only street noise and the sounds of the people downstairs cleaning something in their yard until about 12:30 am was our lullaby. She most likely only lay quietly until I went to bed and wouldn't stop until after midnight, then up by 7. Strength!
At least today she was able to occupy herself while I did other things and would stop calling for me. So nice to see her making up her own activity and not having to constantly have me present. Makes taking a shower a lot easier! Having a lot of testing going on today. Ineresting times.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I'm still processing today, but I'll share what I can.
When Lika came to pick me up, I was nervous with anticipation of what was to come. Thinking how when we came, not quite 2 weeks ago, we were total strangers, only knowing faces. Now, I was getting ready to take her away from pretty much the only people and life she's known, to a new country, new family, new rules, new diet.

I took pictures all along the way to her house- we turn left here, then another left... she may not care for years, but I'll have it, none the less. I had a hard time not crying as I rode along, realizing this was a HUGE last. When we got there, it was the strangest thing. I felt like an outsider watching the show. Most of it was in Georgian, so I wasn't very involved. As I waited for the time to come for us to leave, I felt worse and worse, like I was going to throw up. I don't believe there is any real preparation for something like that. Hannah was ready to go, and extremely happy to be saying "baca baca" to everyone. (Alysha- the use Russian for slang, not usually in everyday conversations.) I had Bae bo say something to Hannah and was going to have Lika translate, but we were all in tears (I suspect even Zhura was teary) and I didn't get the translation. However, it was too much to even think about at the time. Irma wasn't able to say anything. We took pictures outside the gate and cried some more. I hate to think of what we looked like while Zhura took pictures! And then we were off. One outfit and hand braces in a bag, along with a few toys we had gotten for her. The end. How can you adequately describe something like that?

And then we were on our way to meet Giorgi for a fabulous afternoon. I think at some point all the feelings and memories will line up, but not right now. Part of me saw a return to behaviors that had mellowed, part of me wanted to begin to parent her by myself, part of me was relieved we never had to go back to deal with those emotions and tearing her away again, (although she thinks it is a great adventure), and part of me just wanted to be instantly home and a full family. I love this child and never want her to be anywhere but in our family, but at some level, I'm another dae dah to her, just like Irma and dae dah Lika. And yet, she prefers me. I am her forever dae dah. The connection between a foster mom and child may be strong and sweet, but in reality, you're not the final mom. Do you hold back some of your heart so it doesn't break when they leave? Do you prepare them for their forever mom so they don't get attached as much and not break their heart? How can she tell that I'm not just another person taking her to another appointment here and there, giving her fun rides in the pe pe-a? I think she knows. Giorgi tells me she says I am a very good mom and she likes me very much, that she is very happy to have a mommy.

So we met, and went up in the mountains. I'm not sure how far or how long it took, but I'll tell you, we had a lot of conversations with Ilia about tst tst tsts (sunglasses.) It was almost time to take the batteries out of the phone! We drove so high and saw such beauty, I can't really describe. We have nothing like it in OK, although I'm sure there are places of untouched land that are awe inpiring. The camera is limited and, as I told Lika and Zhura, it's like my parents' pictures of Alaska to us- another view of the glacier. No offense mom and dad. They were beautiful. If I could share my eyes, the sights you'd see. Giorgi told me about a time when an enemy, Persia, I believe, had laid seige to a castle on one of the mountains. They were there for almost 3 months, a length of time sufficient for nearly starving the inhabitants. However, one of the people in the castle threw down a live fish to the Persians, and the Persians gave up and went home. The mountains have been an awesome defense for this country.
Somewhere up there is a monastary that's pretty amazing. However, the road was pretty bad. It was only 1 km, so I decided I would carry Hannah on my back and go for it. In flip flops. I've had better moments. First of all, we had to take care of big business on the side of the road. No bathrooms within 15 miles. Task accomplished, and down the road we go. Zhura decided he'd try to drive and came down to where we were. He and Giorgi walked ahead to see if they could go further with the car. Then it was pee pee time, on the side of the road. She doesn't wear shoes, and isn't supposed to bear weight on her ankles. Thankfully, Zhura came back and we rode in the car a ways down the road. However, when the hole is bigger than the tires, it's time to call it quits. Giorgi kept walking for at least 20 minutes before he said he was finally there. While we waited, I did a little PT with Hannah. It was a little game, but I could tell it was some work, too. She's a drama queen, which made it kind of comical. Overall, she liked it. He came back with a video and we made the drive back up. Wow!

Here's what I saw from where we waited.
We stopped at a fabulous outdoor restaurant for dinner. I'd eaten 1/2 a banana and some fried potatoes before we left at 12:30, so I was really hungry. Bad thing when you've got an amazing feast, which I forgot to take a picture of! Hannah is very interested in everything going on around her, which made dinner a great adventure. She was very insistent she do it herself and had very little difficulty feeding herself. She ate quite a bit and didn't appreciate her plate being taken away! When she was done, she was very sleepy, not having a nap today. I got a blanket (up in the mountains) and snuggled with her. She melted into me and was so relaxed. But let there be a sound or a movement, and she was all about it! She doesn't dare miss anything going on! A wonderful thing about the meal was that we understood each other. She expressed her needs/wants and I told her what I was doing/wanted her to do. I worked!

It was sweet to ride in the car with her on my lap, slowly going to sleep. She woke for the picture and to see it, then right back to sleep. She woke when we got home, and lay quietly in bed while I took are of some business with Giorgi and saw Lika out. Then I got her dressed for bed and laid her back down. She was quiet and calm. A little later, she called to tell me she had to do more business. (Portion control is our new favorite phrase, and hide the food is our new favorite game.) No calling for me while I write this post, just a sweetly sleeping child, who has passed a huge milestone.

Now the countdown can begin in hours. All I have to do is finish packing and do a little cleaning. Getting a little antsy to be done with the leg of the journey. I know. Cherish every moment. I am, but I miss my family. It's been a long, long time without them. I know. The Hauflers have been gone 3, and the Urbans were gone 4. Just being honest. I hear Catherine is doing an awesome job keeping the house clean. Looking forward to seeing that.

P.S. I finally realized where my true ancestry lies- Georgia! My nose fits right in with many people here. Not one person has mentioned my nose size. AND I have gained a pound while I've been here, probably more after tonight. I regret I am not a cow, or at least a goat. All those extra stomachs would have come in handy!

Friday, July 16, 2010

I changed the header picture, because I wanted you to get a good look at what's about to change. See that spot in front of me? In just 3 days, it will be filled! Caleb probably isn't coming to the airport, but you know what I mean.

We listen to Bullfrogs and Butterflies quite often at home, and one of the songs is about Noah. The lyrics go "God looked around and cried big drops of rain, so to speak." The weather has been so hot out, no rain anywhere in sight. However, the day Evan left, it started to rain, and is to rain until after H & I go home. I told Alicia Georgia was crying because we're leaving! I felt like crying when they left, too. However, when you have a busy little girl to keep occupied and great people to spend time with, it's hard to really be sad.

Some things I'm going to really enjoy when I'm home: more than 180 thread count sheets, soft blankets that don't feel like old towels, driving my car, having more than 5 choices of clothes when I get ready for the day, carrying a purse, not an orange backpack, getting water out of the tap, having hot water in the shower, and having it on the whole time I'm in there.

Some things I'm going to miss when I go home: the pastries at Goodwill, all the lobiani I could eat, vegetable khachapuri, vegetable pie, green salads, pineapple juice, using a gas stove, the creaks in this old house, not being driven around everywhere I want to go and having every day be all about what I want to do. (You know I'm joking about that one, don't you?) Only having a few dishes to wash each day. Being able to keep nail polish on for more than one day. Playing "dodge the potholes" while we drive. Honking your horn anytime someone's driving annoys you, the constant one-sided dialogue from Eka when she's driving, hearing the police make announcements as they drive down our street.

OK, those were all the silly ones. The real ones? Seeing my family's sweet faces and hearing their voices, feeling their arms around me. Watching as pictures and technology become reality and the kids really see each other for the first time. Being back with my friends and catching up.

Leaving my friends here and not hearing the lively conversations in Georgian. We'll hear Georgian, but only one sided. I'll miss the mountains and the people, the relaxing way I've been able to soak in the culture and scenery. The vendors on evey street with the most colorful fresh fruit and vegetables. The beautiful art work and talented people here.

I know that Georgia, with or without Hannah, is a place I'd really like to come back to. It kind of gets in you without any intention of getting out. How much more fun to bring her back to her roots one day. Imagine the changes that will have happened by the time we do! Marraiges, children, new monuments, roads, and painted buildings, (you'd have to be Georgian to really appreciate that one) and maybe a children's hospital that's really under construction, rather than destruction, as Ani says!

OK, enough of the sentimental stuff, I have 2 days left and must squeeze as much as posssible into that time.

Last post I left off with Hannah sleeping peacefully prior to the Embassy. When I woke her up, she got the sweetest smile on her face when she saw me. Remember the wrestling match in the car? None of that; she stayed right by my side and actually moved my hand closer when I wasn't holding her leg as I usually do.

When we got to the Embassy, there were 2 places to drive: one was the Consular's Office, and the other was the Embassy. We were going to the Consular's, so that's where we stopped, and Zhura drove off. However, that's not where we needed to go. So, we had to walk over 1/4 mile to get to the right place. No big deal when I'm walking by myself. However, Hannah weighs more than Caleb, doesn't hold on, and prefers to lean over so she can see better. I was so relieved to get somewhere where I could set her on a counter. However, it was granite, which didn't feel so good on her little bottom! No phones, no cameras, checking our papers, giving us a badge, through the metal detecter, across a walkway (I couln't really see because of Hannah and ran into a metal pole that hit my leg) to another building where they checked us again, down a long hall, through locked doors, and into the Consular's Office. Everyone was very friendly, and some had even seen Hannah in '07 when she was first placed in foster care. How nice for them to be a part of the completion. We got her passport back with a beautiful visa inside, and a thick manilla envelope, the contents of which I am not allowed to see. The envelope is given to the immigration officer in Memphis, and as soon as her visa is stamped, she will become a US citizen!
I had to raise my right hand and swear I had giving correct information, sign a few papers, then wait. The Consular is actually an adoptive parent, which was nice to hear. While we were waiting and I was signing papers, H was sitting in Lika's lap. We thought there was more for me to do, so we had her stay, which she didn't want. You know how insistent she is. Insert here. Which is a good thing. I'm glad she prefers me, even though she's called Lika mommy before. Now it's mommy Lika!

One thing I noticed was the lack of a US flag! I thought there would be one flying outside, but didn't even notice one inside. I could have been looking the wrong way, but I miss Old Glory!

Thankfully, Zhura was able to drive to the door and I was done carrying her for a bit. I am strong, but need to develop my endurance, obviously. We did take H back for one last night, then we're done. When we pick her up today, we won't go back. That is a hard thing for me, since I want her to have as much time as possible, but know she needs to integrate into her new family. The gratitude I feel for Irma and her mother, for the love, time, attention, sacrifices they've given her and for her. How can you thank adequately for that? Then there's the whole birth mother side of this. I still wish to send her something, and will hopefully figure out how to do that before I leave.

The last stop of the day was Lika's house. I got to meet her mother, who so kindly fixed all of my favorites for dinner. We played 2 games of nardis, which I'm almost possitive is backgammon, while we waited to eat, and I won both! Of course, Lika was helping me make moves. We had eggpant with walnuts, lobiani, something like corn bread and cheese, the rice salad, tomatoes and cucumber salad, green salad, pineapple juice, and she added stuffed peppers. There is a fruit that's a melon, don't know the name of it, but have been wanting to try; last night I did. Lika said it is supposed to be sweet and flavorful, and it doesn't taste as good as she likes. It wasn't bad, not sweet, but not like when you get honey dew that's hard and flavorless. Ani was able to join us for dinner. We had such a good time together! So wish it could've been with the Hauflers, too. Sadly, the goodbyes continued, as I won't see Ani again before we leave. She went to "her village, with her mountains" and won't return until we're gone. What a choice! If we had more time, I'm sure we would have joined her.

This was the latest I'd gone home for anything, and you should have seen Zhura drive! Never have we gone that fast, so I'm sure there were no cameras on those roads. ;) Home to talk to the family, but Catherine was too tired from her wonderful week at VBS to talk to me. That's ok, she can talk to me all she wants in just a little while. And Buddy couldn't wait to talk to me, which was music to my ears.

Now it' time to get ready for an emotional day and some time outside the city with Giorgi, Hannah, and Lika. Best scenario was with The 3 Wrights and The 3 Hauflers, but we're thankful for what we have. We're to bring a jacket, which I'm looking forward to wearing. Sounds silly, but I enjoy the cozy feel of jackets, sweatshirts and sweaters. I'm in trouble when I get home, because I hear it's really toasty right now. July in OK is going to be wonderful to experience.
I forgot to mention that when we were visiting Lika's grandma yesterday, she asked when I'd be coming back so she could prepare for it. How terrible that she had nothing prepared for us. I told her I'd make sure Lika knew and then she could pass it on. She said she'd probably be dead by then. The only thing that didn't hurt was her tongue! Funny lady!

After almost 1.5 hours of "Dad dah" last night, Hannah finally went to sleep. I gave up and went in with her because I was so tired. I'm sure it's a lot noisier here than at Irma's with traffic going by until very late at night. At 7 am, she was wide awake, with a big smile on her face. She was ready to start the day! I made her breakfast and started to feed her, then thought I'd see what she was able to do on her own. She finished with minimal help! She remembered brusing her teeth and was very excited to do it again. She was ready to put the clothes on the Irma had sent and was hesitant to go potty again. I changed her and didn't push the potty.

I decided I'd better figure out what I have aquired and what needs to go home with us. If any of her clothes didn't fit, I was going to leave them for Nini to take to the orphanage. I tried one outfit on her and it fit! Judging from its size, all the others will work! They are 4T and 5T, but her pj's were 3T and fit just fine. A little tight around the belly, but not bad. (Irma told her yesterday that she needed to lose her weight and be like me!) I let her try on a sweater and she didn't want to take it off. I put things back in the wardrobe before Lika came and she didn't want me to put it away. I promised she'd get it again.
Lika came at 10, but we were having such a good time, and Hannah was behaving very nicely. We actually were doing well without matching languages. We tried out the stroller, which is not designed for 4-wheeling through the streets of Tbilisi, but it did ok. We found a cake shop, that was pretty empty of cakes, but did have some cute board books in Georgian. On the way back, we found a bakery and bought some lobiani for lunch.
Once we got home and Hannah was sitting in the kitchen area, we could not get her distracted very easily from the bananas! (By the way, pineapple is ananas, and bananas are banani.) Irma said to have her wait 4 hours between meels, or it's not good for her, so we had to work hard to stretch it out. She didn't want to be bothered with this beautiful book with the colorful animals in it, she wanted banani! Lika tried, but it wasn't going well. Finally, I thought it had been long enough, and with the help of the grandma downstairs who brought tomatoes, cucumbers, fried potatoes (like french fries,) and some sort of meat, she had her banani as well as a plate full of all those good things and some lobiani. I cut some things with a fork and she reached for it. She proceeded to eat the whole meal with very little assistance from me- just showing her how to "stab" her food, or scoop it. But she did all the work. Every last bite on her plate. You could tell she was tired, but she wouldn't give up! Won't that translate beautifully in the world of PT, OT, and speech therapy?
She was ready to sleep after lunch, and so I took her. Then it started all over- dae dah.... dae dah....DAE DO!!! I sat with my legs showing in the doorway so she'd know I was there. Fast forward 1.5 hours and she's finally asleep! Sadly, we have to wake her in an hour to head for the Embassy. Once there, we'll get our visa and be completely finished with paperwork.
I am going to take her back to Irma's for tonight and pick her up again before naps. I want her to have a little more time with them, but also have had a chance to get used to me. We'll get to practice nap time and night time 2 more times each before we're off in the plane!
Off to knit while I wait...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Here I sit on my bed with the sweetest angel in my arms. Hannah is spending the night tonight! She's actually doing very well.

Back up to today. It was another day where there was 1 thing planned, but a whole lot extra that gets added as the day goes along. The Embassy needed 4 pictures, a different size than the 4 previous pictures we've gotten. We had to hurry because we needed to meet Giorgi with the pictures, all the documents to obtain a visa for Hannah, money for the visa, and our passports. We also were trying to hurry to see the Hauflers before they took off for the Holy Land. We were fortunate enough to spend a bit of time with them, and they got to meet Hannah. Of course she is a cute in person as in pictures! There were extra papers for them to sign, so I left Lika with them and took Hannah back home. She has had some major car action with little fun with it. I did see her start to test when I was the only one with her. Things she'd not been doing she started again. I know what's going on, so it's ok.

Back to the hospital to get Lika, and off to lunch at the .... machahala. Did you think it was going to be somewhere else? Had to get my fix.

There is a bridge that is very new, not quite finished, in fact, that doesn't really fit with the looks of old Tbilisi (I can say that because a very fine Georgian friend said so herself) but is really neat looking. It's called Freedom Bridge. Today we finally walked on it. The view from the bridge was very nice, and Lika got some pictures on the camera with the card that doesn't fit in my computer.

Lika's grandma lives in the same neighborhood as Hannah, so we went to visit for a bit. Her grandma is 83 years old, worked as a pharmacist for 40 years, as it a sweet lady. She was highly offended that we came and didn't eat much. I did eat just to please her, but it was obvious it wasn't enough. Her uncle lives with her grandma, and is a very interesting gentleman. He was in a car accident when he was 10 and ended up blinded and fatherless as a result. However, he's a writer and the director of the Union of Disabled People, I think. He helps organize events for children with disabilities and is trying to learn more about technology that can help blind or disabled people. He helped with the curriculum of Braille books here, and writes plays for the radio. One of the things I wanted to get before I left was a book in Georgian. I got one of his books! He told stories of the Georgian people and their hospitality, even to enemies, and one of the stories in his book. As is the Georgian custom, he used some of his fine cognac and made toasts to me, to America, to American women, and I forgot the last one. I wrote them down, but they're in the bedroom when Hannah is supposed to be sleeping. (However, all I hear is Dae dah, dae do, dae dah. Over and over....) He was reading Faulkner's diary on the computer in Russian this morning. Way to not let disabilities slow you down!

We were planning to get Hannah after her nap so she'd be rested, have a few hours to relax at the apt, and be ready for bed. First, we had to go to the Dr's office to get immunization records, then to the Social Services Agency to pick up some paper work for the embassy, then to get Hannah. She was quite ready for a pe pe-a ride and didn't want to wait around while we visited at the house.

I'm having a little trouble with the car thing, but we'll get over it. I felt like I was in a wrestling match. I'd say it was a fight I could choose not to deal with, but it's so unsafe to not hold her in some way.

When we got to the apt, she was interesting but not overwhelmed. Lika stayed for about an hour so we could get comfortable. Coloring was great fun for her, and I had some new twistable crayons that fit her hands nicely. I try to let her do as much as possible on her own, and getting the crayons in and out of the package was much more difficult than picking them out of the cup as she'd done at home.

We called Grandma, who couldn't say much, but learned to say "ho" and "baca baca." Yes and goodbye. She was thrilled to hear Hannah's voice, and Hannah instantly got that the screen with the magic jack meant bae bo. We finally got in touch with Buddy after Lika left, and she was calling him bae bo for a while. One of the guys working with him heard "mah mah" and got a kick out of that.

A little side not, yesterday, Buddy didn't hear from me because I was talking to my mom and I couldn't switch over, so he called my dad to see if he'd heard anything. Isn't that sweet? AND he read my blog and liked it. Never happened before. Maybe I should leave the country more often. Or not.

Hannah also got to brush her teeth tonight. Not something she's done before, but it seems she's seen it done, because she was doing a pretty good job on the front. Mom is making an appointment with a ped. dentist today.

One thing she doesn't like is sitting on a big potty. Guess what? Airports and airplanes have one size fits all potties. So, tonight I put her on the potty. And she cried. I held her and spoke softly and soon she said "peesh peesh" and went. Oh, what praise she got for being so brave!
I could tell she was getting tired, and I asked if she was ok in Georgian (thank God for Survival Georgian!) and she said "ho." We skyped with the kids, who were very excited. The kept saying "Ga mar jo bat", which is hi. Hannah said it back, but as I pointed to each sibling, she would say their name, too. Fun for all.

Then it was time for bed, and I turned out the lights (lights are on in other rooms) and laid her down, after I told her in Georgian to go to sleep. She got this frightened look in her eyes and started to whimper. I sang to her and stroked her forehead, which helped a little. I thought I'd sit in the dark and blog so she'd feel more comfortable. Then she started playing with her phone and doing the "dae dah" thing. The phone is gone and I'm sitting on the floor in the living room. She did finally say peesh peesh, and it was a good thing I believed her. But we're back to the dae dah thing and I'd really like to get some sleep. Was so hopeful she'd just fall asleep within a reasonable time and sleep all night long. 45 minutes later and in spite of yawns I heard, she's still not giving up.

Well, the night was short last night, and I need to head for bed. More yawning in the bedroom, so it could be coming soon...

Looking forward to another great day tomorrow and the new mercies that come with the morning.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

So, I'd just gotten to sleep and was drooling nicely, when a shrill sound startled me awake. It was the sweet sound of the agency calling me back to get my tickets settled. That was about 12 hours ago, and within one hour, we had our tickets. We had 2 options, one with really long layovers leaving 2 days earlier, and one the same day and only 2 hours later arrival. I chose the 2 days later because I haven't even brought Hannah to the apartment yet. I knew we'd have a day like yesterday and I didn't want her to suffer through it. This will give us time together without Lika or anyone else helping us out. I'm sure we'll be fine, I just didn't want to shock her too much. Then I lay in bed wondering if I'd done the right thing or not. I was already set to stay a few extra days, and I still need to meet Lika's grandmother, walk on Freedom Bridge, and find an old Georgian book. Plus there's all that lobiani I need to eat before I leave. NO Georgian food yesterday, so I'll have to make up for it big time!
Oh, yes. Details. We arrive 8:51 pm Monday the 19th from Memphis. Looking forward to seeing familiar faces and hearing my hick sounding OK friends! Just teasing.

Holding. ..

Today was a day of waiting. So while I was in holding mode with people who control my future, I wasn't in holding mode with my daughter.
I woke this morning with a song on my heart of God's faithfulness that endures! As I read in Mark, I read that with man, it's impossible! (Aren't you glad it doesn't stop there?) BUT with God ALL things are possible. I'm a believer, so I know that's working for me.

Here's how I shower in the morning.
First stop, Hannah. She always looks at me when I walk in as if she is not registering who I am, but soon starts to talk. She usually waits until about an hour into the visit until she wants to be held, but today it was right away. I have a sneaking suspicion it has to do with that bright orange backpack that contains treasures! She sweetly asked "Please" for my lip save, which I, of course, gave her. I brought a brush and she had a ball brushing my hair. I don't think she's used to doing it, but she had a good time. I was thankful I wasn't wearing my new finds, or it might have been painful!
The is her bae bo. You can tell how much she loves Hannah. She's so sweet. I could tell she was giving Hannah instructions on how to behave, and she did tell her as we were leaving for another pe pe-a ride not to make me angry.

No time for lunch at home, because we had to be at the passport agency by 12:30. Once again, we needed pictures of Hannah. She's quite used to having her picture taken, always ready with a smile. This time, she wouldn't stop talking while the machine was taking her picture, so her mouth was always open!
First was adoption certificate- quick. Then the new birth certificate. Oh, how my heart was moved when I heard the lady say, "Mah mah Louis Vincent Wright, Dae dah Dillon Mary Wright" and then "Hannah Joy Natia Wright." It's official! Giorgi even called her Hannah today! There were 2 people there who caught my eye. How sad my borrowed camera battery was dead! One was a little boy, slightly smaller than Caleb. His dad was feeding him some bread and giving him something to drink. He was so cute! Then there was a little old man, probably in his 80's, sitting and waiting for something. I believe his family was processing documents. He had his brief case with "Salamander" embossed on the front, and his cell phone holder on his belt. I'm sure he could tell stories, and I was sad I wouldn't be able to hear any of them.
The records needed to be changed in the central office, so we had to wait for that. When we got it and moved over to the passport window, we found out her BC was missing a number! Wait. finally passport work, wait. Giorgi still had to take BC and AC to be translated and notarized before we can head to the embassy, so he was feeling quite the pressure. Finally, after over 4 hours of waiting, we were told we could go to another location and pick up her passport. None of us had had lunch, so Giorgi got us each a hamburger. Thick slices of ham with mayo, mustard, and some kind of BBQ sauce on it. I was really hungry, since it had been so long since breakfast, but it was so big, I just couldn't finish it.
Over to the next location to wait. By about 2.5 hours into waiting, I finally got smart and started knitting while I stood waiting for them to need my signature or anything I could do to help move it along. The funny thing about waiting in another country is that there wasn't anything I could do. I didn't understand the process or delays, so I could just hang out and be there enjoying watching people. Admittedly, people watching for 4 hours without food was getting a bit old, but it sure beat 10 days of waiting! I was so thankful, even though it caused a bit of stress for Giorgi. Just so you know, about an hour into the waiting, Zhura and Lika took Hannah home so she could nap and eat. Can't imagine her waiting that whole time!
After we finally picked up the passport, we had 10 minutes to get a copy of it to the Dr's office so he could take records to the embassy before our interview and visa being granted. We made it in time, and the lady who took it told us if we needed it sooner, they'd take care of it. Her English was great, too, which was so nice.
Lika was needed at the notary, so I rode around with Zhura for errands like buying cigarettes and getting his glasses fixed. At 7 pm, it was just too early to head back to the apt to be by myself, so Lika took me to a park that was supposed to have a modern art exhibition. The park was unique to me because there was no grass. Lots of trees, but the paths were red dirt and no grassy areas. We walked around and saw a few art displays and an amusement park area with small rides that Caleb and Hannah would have had a great time on. As we were leaving, we saw a group of 7 or 8 men gathered around the game Nardis. They invited us to sit on the bench with them and watch them pay. It looks like a backgammon board, but it's been too long since I've played to remember. They play for 50 tetries, or about 40 cents to the winner of the game. Some are quite into the game, and one man lost 7 laris, or $3.80, that day. Who knows how long they'd been playing since they're older retired men. It was a very interesting game because they don't play to completion, they play to the point the winner is obvious. The loser would put down his money and get up, while the winner rearranged all his coins to begin a new game. I didn't figure out how they decided who played next. Perhaps it had to do with their seating on the bench, but we didn't stay long enough for me to figure out the game AND that. They asked if I'd like to play and I said I wouldn't mind. They kept asking where I was from and why I was here. Lika got a potential student out of it, so it was very worthwhile. We stayed for about 30 minutes or more, and I had a great time. The temperature had cooled down a lot, and a beautiful breeze was blowing.
Zhura has allowed Lika to take pictures with his camera, so when we came home, he gave me the card. However, it's too small and didn't fit into the card reader on this laptop. Actually, it almost didn't want to come out. Thankfully, Lika had come up with me and we used scissor tips to get it out. That would've been terrible! Tomorrow we'll try to figure it out. I'll post pics of today when I do.
The camera on the laptop worked for about 6 or 7 minutes tonight, so I got to see the kids see me. Caleb gets especially animated, but I think C & S like to see me, too. So glad to think I'll be seeing them in just a few days!
Which brings me to the last bit of waiting. I was on the phone with the travel agency for an hour and they have to call me back. The assured me they'd call me back today. I don't think they realize that today is my night. I hope I pop right away when the call comes and am coherant enough to figure out what I need to do.
Haufler update: They are taking a trip to the Holy Land, perhaps tonight. I don't have details, but things have come together quickly for them. I'm thrilled and saddened that I probably won't get to say goodbye. Better to get where they need to go and forget goodbyes. God is again showing His faithfulness.
I'll end with a little travel humor. Forgive and indulge me if I've mentioned it before. The day I got my fabulous oil paintings was a day we were going to meet the Hauflers and Giorgi to discuss maybe sharing apt, driver, and translator (am I glad we didn't). It was going to be a trip to the market for the pictures, then to Prosperos for the meeting. It was so hot, we all went our separate ways for a bit until we needed to get the art. I walked down early and saw a car directly in front of our gate. I opened the back door and started to climb in. It was a different driver, but I figured it was Zhura and Eka's son, since we'd already had Eka fill in for Zhura. He started talking in Georgian, and then I saw Lika. Wrong car, not our driver. Oops! Then, when we went to Nicalas for dinner, I went to the restroom. Only both doors had the same sign with the same picture and Georgian writing on them. I had to go find Lika to help me not end up in the wrong place. I've had to use Turkish toilets, regular toilets, toilets that have an automatic device that places a new seat cover on it. Used very nice TP and TP that is like very cheap paper towels- the brown kind. Today, the women's was locked and I got to use the men's. Reminds me of Leslie's post about her boys' bathroom. There are 2 kinds of flushers on the potties. The kind you push down, and the kind you lift up. I forgot that today and tried to use my shoe, only to about knock of the top of the toilet!
I've seen cars driving in reverse down the road, more than once. And today I saw more sheet protectors out of 3 ring binders than I've ever seen in my life! All important documents are placed in them and carried. No matter the size of the document. Not one manilla envelope in sight. I think I'll buy some for Giorgi before I leave.
It's after 11pm here, so I'd better hop in bed and be ready when they call me back. Happy day to all of you on the other side.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

This is a great time of the day for me- not that I'm sitting alone in an apartment, 6,000 miles from home. But, I get to look at pictures from the day, remembering what a great time I've had and how good God is to me. I also got to talk to my mom, Caleb, Buddy, and my friend Leslie.

I woke before 7 this morning, which is crazy for a Georgian, and I am becoming a good Georgian. I have eaten kinkali and khachapuri like Georgians, and today I crossed a street like one! That in itself is an amazing feet. The way to drive, especialy when you want to turn across traffic, is to nose out into the lane and keep going slowly until people eventually stop for you. If you see pedestrians, don't stop unless you're sure there's no chance you can avoid hitting them. I didn't get hit, but the 2nd time wasn't as good and the third time I help Lika's hand so she could help me know when to go.

I was able to chat with my long time friend, Kristi, this morning, because she's a night owl. So much fun catching up! but then I had to get serious about getting ready for the day.

This morning when we got to Hannah's, we had to leave almost immediately to get her picture taken. We could either take Hannah there ourselves, or wait days to get it arranged. They only needed her picture, not her presence for anything, which was very easily done. (She did so much better this time when we were in the car. 2 factors- I wasn't holding as tightly, and it wasn't nap time) Nini told me today that Bidzinia, the Social Services Agency attorney, is doing nothing but working on our case. Last night, Giorgi was apologizing that he is not able to devote 100% of his attention on our case. I told him that while he did what he needed to do, God would be working on our behalf. Sure enough, He was!

We took Hannah home and stayed with her about 2.5 hours total. I got to feed her again. The more I watch, I'm sure it's a combo orphanage eating habits and teeth problems. Both can be taken care of. She again chose to forego the pool in order to be with me. She discovered my Lip Saver and so perfectly signed "Please" so I would reapply over and over.She sure didn't want to go for a nap - she was going to stay and color with me!

Back to #12 for lunch so I could get my vegetable pie and green salad.
It didn't disappoint, and today Lika tried it for the first time. She liked it, too! I got to introduce HER to new foods. ;) There is a game older men like to play in the park- not sure the name of it, but it involves dice and moving pieces around a board. Some play for money, as these 2 gentlemen were doing in #12, but I think most do it for fun. They have some pretty fancy dice rolling moves.As we were leaving we called to check on Evan, and felt we should meet them at the hospital, however, they were on their way back to very near where we were for chocolate shake therapy.
Please continue your prayers. They have some answers and are trusting God to work out details, as He has already begun to do.

After spending time with the Hauflers and seeing God, once again, come through in time of need, we decided to go to the sea. The Tbilisi Sea. It's a much cleaner lake than Turtle Lake, but Lika still didn't want to go down. It was crowded, but I was so hopeful to at least put my feet in the water. In fairness to her, she is suffering from a terrible reaction to a mosquito bite on her foot. It's red and swollen. I feel badly for her, but she says she fine and keeps on going.

Right next to the sea is a Memorial called The History of Georgia. This is my attempt at using a self-timer while the camers is on my backpack. It's a really impressive Memorial.It was started 2 or 3 years ago (I understood that in Georgian) and parts are still under construction. The bottom has a scene from the Bible, and the middle is one of their kings or heroes. I fogot to ask what was on top.On the way to dinner at Nicala, which is the name of Robin's favorite restaurant, I talked to Giorgi. It does look like everything will indeed work for coming home Monday. Such a rush of emotions- we're almost done! I need to buy Hannah's ticket. I get to see the rest of my family! Oh, no! I'm leaving these great people and this great land! I'm reallly going to miss my new family. Robin told me my translator would become like my best friend. I have to agree.

Tomorrow, we'll pick up Hannah, go get the adoption cert., new birth cert, and a passport. Such important things will be accomplished. Huge thanks to God, Giorgi, and Bidzinia.

Have a great day!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Picture Post

I'm sitting in my air conditioned bedroom, using the lap top, eating this fabulous Georgian pastry, which is like my cinnamon swirl bread, only not as sweet, and drinking this fabulous juice. Life is good! This is the cat that lives at my apartment. I only discovered it yesterday, and he has the most interesting meow I've ever heard. Perhaps he's speaking Georgian.
We went to Turtle Lake, which has no turtles, only frogs, today to get out of the city and kind of away from the heat. I've been drinking water almost every meal, only a little juice, but today, it was time for a fruit shake. Oh. My. Goodness! It was so good! I think it cost about $4, but it was worth every cent! And actually, our driver, Ecka (Zhura's wife), paid for it! I was so blessed.
Here is Ecka and Lika in our cabana at Turtle Lake.

Look at this beautiful artwork! The long one cost 350 Lari, or about $200. Oh, to have the space in my suitcase! See those little ones with just ink drawings?
This is the man who painted these pictures. He promised me he would paint the 2 smalls ones in 2 hours for me.
Here they are! I'm so excited to hang them on my wall at home!
Lunch at a machahala today so I could have this fabulous vegetable khachapuri. One of my favorites.

Lika is so kind to take me to all these authentic Georgian restaurants, and then to sit outside in the heat so we didn't have to breathe in smoke. She even paid for my lunch. What a keeper. I might get to go meet her grandmother and her family one of these days. The kitchen of the machahala- they use wood to heat their stoves. Remember that it's over 100* today.

This is one of the many memorials to Georgia's heroes. This one happens to be for those who died during the Russian invasion in '08. Their names are written in gold letters on the sides. They're building a new road, so there's a lot of construction around it. We all got the memo and were the ladies in black! Love these ladies! This was at Cafe ge, where they have penne pasta with a fabulous sauce. I held out for my vegetable khachapuri, which isn't really what it's called, but I call it that.Visiting Hannah was our first stop. She was much more gentle today. Irma has really worked the past 2 days to let us have time to ourselves. Of course, Lika is there to help me out. Hannah is learning to sign "Please" and to say it in English. It seems like she enjoys saying it and doing the motion- she gets a big grin on her face when she does. I try to praise her when she does it. Hannah and Costa are having fun playing with my measuring tape and row counter. We're playing with the phone I bought for her. Sadly, it was fought over and broken, but it remains a good toy.
One week later, and I'm wearing the same dress. If we go home on Monday, which I believe can happen, should I wear it again? Or should I go to the tried and truly worn 3 1/2 day outfit of the journey here? It's washed and dried to a cardboard finish, so it's good to go.

What a happy girl! Nika was also happy today in his little walker. I got some good video for you, Alysha!
I've been able to do quite a bit of knitting the past few days, and this is where I was at this morning before we left to see Hannah. the color is actually a dark slate blue, but the picture looks cool. This is how I dry my clothes. 1.5 hours was NOT enough to get things completely dry, but once they are, they have the nicest kind of cardboard feel to them!

This is how I cook my breakfast. I know, hot cereal in a sauna doesn't sound great. But I mash a banana and some of our wierd herbal stuff in it and it's actually very good.
This is the washer that repeatedly lied to me about how much time remained!
This is my Georgian hero, Giorgi, with the Haufler's sweet boy, Evan. He (Giorgi) figured out a way to bring the router into the bedroom so I can type in peace and cool air!
Please continue to pray for Evan, that the Dr's have wisdom, and that his parents experience God's peace as never before.
Mary- email your Georgian letter, and Lika said she'd help you out!
Tomorrow is a big day. I get to take Hannah to another agency so they can see her and fix the birth certificate. If all goes well, we'll be able to go to the Embassy on Friday for her visa, relax for a few days, then fly out on Monday. Please agree with us in prayer that favor rests on Giorgi and Bidzinia, that they are able to do more than they thought possible in a quicker time frame.
Hate to leave, but I should get ready for bed and continue my scholarly reading. "The Core" is a fabulous book any homeschooling family should read. I'm challenged in a good way to make this year even better than last, and to set my sights high for myself, even.