To the embassy

Our last stop before the airport on the magical mystery tour is the US Embassy. They will make Elizabeth a US citizen and a registered Republican. Just kidding about that last part, of course.

I wonder if the Children’s Hope people will give us that promised tour of Moscow today, finally. I don’t really care if they do, quite frankly. For the sake of having some video footage of Moscow’s famous landmarks, etc., however, that would probably be good.

Update to the update’s update

I went ahead and paid for the 24-hour internet connection from the room. It wasn’t even double the cost of one hour. I also swapped out the flaky cable and that seems to have fixed the connection problem. [Wrong. I had to call the techs back to fix it.] The hotel sure did send up some techs quickly to check it out. Tara and Elizabeth are asleep, though, so I sent them away, saying everything was OK after all.

I walked down the street again, looking for the TGI Friday’s but never found it. I was hoping to surprise Tara with a real recognizable meal for a change. Oh well. I found their sign again, but no restaurant just a bank. Figures. Nothing in Russia is as it seems. 🙂 [UPDATE: Here’s the Google Maps location showing the bank/building I thought was the restaurant.]

Looks like we’ll be having pepperoni (the only recognizable lunch meat I could find at the store), swiss cheese and mayo sandwiches for dinner tonight. Tara saw a KFC on the way to the hotel last night, but I haven’t seen it since. I normally avoid them, but we’re desperate for reasonably-priced food in this, the world’s most expensive city.

I hope that there are seats available for us to change our flight home to Thursday or Friday instead of the currently reserved Sunday flight. I’ll offer to ride in the pet compartment if necessary. 🙂

UPDATE: Here is the most recent "most expensive cities" listing on for 2019

Moscow update continued

We’re in Moscow.

Bill already summarized our trip here. I do believe that I am fully initiated into the sisterhood of Mothers. I have changed an exploding poopy diaper in an airplane bathroom, with turbulence! I’ll spare you all details, but let’s just say, I will be burning our clothes from that trip.

Internet access is very expensive in Moscow ($20.00 an hour!), so our updates will be less frequent. In Astrakhan, it was free.

Our trip to the doctor went pretty well. She weighs 26 1/2 pounds and is 35 1/2 inches tall. He did confirm that she has an allergy, probably to food. He told us to keep her away from citrus, chocolate and nuts. He told us to use Benadryl cream for the rash that keeps breaking out on her. The first thing we will do when we return is get her tested for allergies.

The doctor said that he thought the worst problem we will have is keeping the boys away from her. He told Bill to buy a shotgun! 🙂

So, hopefully we will only have a couple more days. More later!!!

Back in Moscow

We made it this far! The plane ride was terrible for several minutes when we had to fasten our seat belts, which Elizabeth did not want to do. She SCREAMED loudly for quite a while, ticking off everyone nearby. Luckily, part of it was drowned out by the sound of the jet engines revving up and taking off. After that, she pooped her pants (I think for the second time this trip), and Tara had to take her to the bathroom to change her. It was horrendous. I’ll let Tara blog about it, but I will say that the ONLY two times in the flight that the plane swerved at all was while Tara was in the bathroom trying to change Elizabeth’s pull-up diaper. It swerved so much, I wondered if the pilot was avoiding a sudden flock of geese or something. At least getting out of the airport went very quickly and uneventfully.

This morning, after three hours sleep, Elizabeth passed her physical with flying colors. The reason we only got three hours sleep was because we got into the hotel late and couldn’t sleep until about 1 a.m. At 3 a.m., Elizabeth woke up screaming. For some reason, I was the only one who could console her. Probably because of the few Russian phrases that I do know. Then we had to wake up at 6 to be picked up at 8 for Elizabeth’s appointment. Just before that, we had the worst $60 breakfast I’ve ever had. No, this hotel, the Holiday Inn – Moscow Lesnaya, does not provide a free breakfast like all the other ones where we’ve stayed.

I just got back from a long walk going to the grocery store and pharmacy to get more wet wipes for Elizabeth and a few things to eat in the hotel room. The refrigerators in these Holiday Inns are booby-trapped to charge you for any item you might move or remove. So, you can’t use the fridge for your own stuff. At least, we’re afraid to. They do provide a hot pot, so we can cook a few things. On my walk to the grocery store, I discovered a TGI Friday’s! It’s too far for Elizabeth to walk, but maybe they do take-out so I can bring it back to the room.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, we have our Embassy appointment. So, I GUESS we can leave Thursday? I sure hope so. The only thing I dread about the flight back is the fact that Elizabeth’s next poopy diaper on a plane will be MY turn to clean up. I’m fairly sure Tara will never let me forget that.

Pictures of our life in Astrakhan

Tonight is our last night in Astrakhan. So, I thought I’d post some pictures of where we’ve been living for the past 19 days.

We’ve had many battles over clothing. She thinks I put too much clothes on her. In the hotel room, she wears her thermals. But, she loves her boots. So, she often walks around in her thermals with her snow boots. Ronica told me “pick your battles”, and this is one I chose not to fight. 🙂

Home Sweet Azimut No, not a funhouse mirror. It's the hallway to our room! Washing clothes Rolled-up thermals with snowboots

Just another week to go

… maybe less! That cheers me up. That’s assuming everything goes as planned … and it WILL. I believe in positive thinking (when I’m desperate, anyway, because it leads to positive actions, which lead to positive results, or at least your chances are better). I don’t always practice it, but I try. It doesn’t always work, but it never hurts. Kinda like that book “The Secret,” only not quite so full of it. 🙂

Yesterday, Elizabeth got mad at me again for some reason while it was my turn to entertain her as Tara was down the hall using the computer, emailing people, etc. Elizabeth’s tantrums are steadily decreasing in length and ferocity. Anyway, she got mad, grabbed a plastic bag and started filling it up with her favorite toys. Then she realized she needed another bag, so she grabbed another one and filled that up. She put on her boots and sweater and dragged those bags up to the (locked) front door, saying something about going some place where they speak Russian. 🙂 She got over it five minutes later, just in time for Tara to return.

Later, during another one of my “shifts,” after she wet her pants again, I helped her take a bath/shower combination. I’m not sure. Basically, she was playing in the water … for 25 minutes! I figured “Why not?” It’s not my water that she’s wasting, and I really had no other plans for the afternoon.

51-1/2 hours

That’s how long before we leave Astrakhan for Moscow. Not that we’re counting or anything. The bad thing about these in-country flights is that they don’t use “jetways,” those expandable tubes that protect you from the weather as you get on and off the plane. You are out there exposed on the tarmac, which is no fun in bad weather.

Once in Moscow, Elizabeth has to get a “physical” which really just verifies that she’s a real live girl, nothing more. Then we go to the US Embassy to make Elizabeth a US citizen. Then we fly home. Hopefully, that’ll happen on the 21st or earlier. If it is, we’ll have to adjust our flights with Delta, but it’ll be worth the penalty fee.

Then I get to go straight back to work. At least it’ll be Christmas time, so hopefully that means things will be slow.

Otherwise, everything is fine on the Russian Front.

Nothing much to update about

She’s just driving us crazy. Luckily, Tara is taking the brunt of it. I had to get out and walk around town in the freezing cold, just for the sake of getting out. I was at least useful, coming back with some groceries.

Elizabeth’s sweet as can be and very playful most of the time, but she turns on a dime. The main problem is just keeping her entertained/distracted … constantly.

After her most recent crying fit, she “apologized” by breaking out the photo album and pointing to a picture of the three of us. She pointed at me and said, “You are my papa.” She pointed over at Tara and said, “She is my mama.” I said, “Yes, very good. And you are my daughter.” She really liked that. This was all in Russian, of course. That was the first time I’d trying saying that sentence to her. I was never sure how well it would go over. She calls me “mama” or “uncle” half the time. I don’t really care what she calls me, just so long as we get along.


Everyone is wanting an update! Well, we’re parents of a two-year-old now. No time for updates!

She is keeping us busy. Her favorite things to do are: play in the sink, play in the tub, and play in the toilet. She is a waterbaby! One of the things we were warned about an adopted child from an orphanage was that they may hate baths and it would be very difficult to bathe them. Not our child! She loved it from the minute she found out she was getting a bath! And she takes every opportunity to get a bath. She is a little manipulative. And has a temper if she doesn’t get her way. For instance, I gave her a bath this morning before breakfast. After breakfast, she and Bill were in the room playing while I was trying to answer emails from the lobby. She decided she wanted another bath. Bill told her no. She then proceeded to pee her pants so that he would HAVE to give her a bath! She apparently stood right there in front of him so he would see her do it! Man! We have a challenge ahead of us.

She also likes to brush her teeth — all the time! I brought a baby toothbrush and toothpaste with me but had no intention of using it on the first day because I was not sure if she even had her teeth brushed in the orphanage. But only hours after being in the hotel room the first day, she spotted Bill’s toothbrush while washing her hands, and begged for it. So, I got her toothbrush and paste out, put some on the brush and she stuck it in her mouth and began brushing. So, I was impressed with the orphanage that they do teach the toddlers about brushing their teeth. But now, she thinks she should brush her teeth EVERY time she goes to the bathroom, which is very often. At least once an hour. So, we have a screaming episode quite often when Momma and Papa do not want to brush her teeth for the 10th time that day. I’ve stayed pretty firm with her that she only brushes her teeth in the morning, after a meal and at night. That’s at least 5 times. I think Papa has let her do it more often, but I predict that will end as time goes on.

She’s starting to understand English some. She doesn’t speak it, but I believe she understands quite a lot of what we are saying. Especially words that she hates, like : “nap”, “bedtime”, “sleep.” I’ve started calling her “Mosha Elizabeth” in hopes that she will learn that Elizabeth is her name and we can drop Mosha. But that will take some time, and we may end up having to keep Mosha at least as a nickname. But, her legal name is Elizabeth Ashley Dievna Holmes. We got the adoption certificate and her new birth certificate on Monday. So, everything is legal.

As Bill mentioned in the previous post, sleeping is the biggest challenge right now. She does not want to go to bed… at all. She screams and cries forever. I’ve never seen a child that can cry and scream for as long as she can. I’m talking almost a solid hour. I hold her, rock her, sing to her. Nothing works. The first night we had her, she passed out in my arms fairly quickly, but I think she was so exhausted from the days events that she couldn’t put up a fight any longer. The second day was bad. She screamed and screamed when I tried to put her down for a nap. She refuses to stay in her crib. She doesn’t like our bed much better, but she stayed in it when I made her stay. The second night she finally passed out on top of me in the bed. That is how we slept most of the night, with her on top of me. I slowly got her to slide off of me during the hours of the night where she eventually turned cross ways to me and Bill. Then she slept with her head in my side and her feet propped up on Bill. Last night it was 10:00pm before we got her to bed. She was so sleepy she was almost walking into the wall. Finally I told her “Mosha, let’s go to bed” and she actually got up off the floor and walked with me to the bed. She let me lay her down in our bed and only cried for a minute then fell asleep. But, at midnight she awoke and started screaming. I’m not sure how long that lasted. I just kept rocking her until one of us passed out. I’m not sure who fell asleep first. But Bill got up and slept on the floor. He’s convinced that he is scaring her being in the bed. I’m not sure that’s it. I think she just needs to take her frustrations out on someone at bedtime, and she’s chosen him for that “honor”. So, we’re all sleep deprived and kinda walking around like zombies today. I was dreading another scene today at naptime, and was putting it off as long as possible. I decided that I would wait until 1:00 to start the process. I was washing clothes before that, and when I came out of the bathroom, she was standing at our bed with her head on bed with a little throw pillow sucking her thumb. I decided to give her a few more minutes on her own. By 1:10, she was asleep, standing up! So I carefully moved her legs up onto the bed and she’s been asleep ever since! Hallejuhah!!!! At least one crying scene diverted.

In about an hour, we will take her to a photographer to have her picture taken for her visa. We should receive her passport and visa on Monday. We leave Astrakhan on Monday evening about 8:00pm. That puts us in Moscow around 10:00. But, on our last trip we did not get to our hotel in Moscow until 1:00 am because of the horrible traffic in Moscow, even at that time of night.

More later!

Sleep, what a concept

I slept on the floor most of last night. It’s a little after 7 a.m. here. Elizabeth refuses to sleep in her crib, even though we’re told that’s what she slept in at the orphanage. So, she sleeps with us in our bed. That bed is barely big enough for just me and Tara. Anyway, Elizabeth can go to sleep in the bed, but whenever she wakes up a few hours later and discovers me next to her, she starts crying. That’s not the first time that’s happened to me, but that’s another story. 🙂

I finally just got out of bed and spent the rest of the night on the floor of the “living room.” I like a firm mattress, but this is ridiculous. (We’re in a mini-suite that’s really no bigger than a normal non-suite room.) I couldn’t take a pillow, either, because it would’ve woken her back up, so I used my jacket as a pillow. The hotel pillows suck, anyway.

They were both still sleeping when I snuck out to type this. Must be nice. 🙂

Some of you are probably wondering why we never post pictures of her here. It’s because we’re not supposed to. It might be OK now that the court decision is final. But just to be safe, we’re waiting until we’re back on US soil.

P.S. – Tara tried emailing several people last night, but the internet connection here is so flaky, she couldn’t do it. It’ll tell you that you’ve got an “excellent” connection to their WIFI, but it never gives you the IP address you need in order to do anything. You WIFI users will understand what I’m talking about.