Monday, March 31, 2008


Chicago has thunderstorms…we boarded the plane, then got back off. Probably an hour’s delay. Just enough to make us worried about connections. Our travel agent says "no worries" but who knows?

I already have a headache and there’s 15 hours to go. Ugh.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

And We're Off...

The visas are here. The airplane tickets are in hand. The bags are packed. The grandparents have arrived. We are about as ready as we will ever be.

We don't know anything about potential new son. We don't know if our laptop will work in the region. We don't know if the train is heated or not. We don't know if we will have an extra day in Moscow or not. We don't know much.

I think ignorance is bliss in this situation.

Luckily, we love adventure. Whee!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Name Game

I almost forgot about this fun bit...when you adopt, your child already comes with a name. If he is younger (< 1 year or so), you can probably change this name without too much trouble. However, in our case, we are adopting a two-year-old. He's going to know what his name is.

In Alex's case, he came with a pretty easy name - Alexander. It "works" over here in the states. Before we went to meet Alex and found out his name (they don't tell you in advance), we jokingly called him "Boris". When folks would ask about naming, we would say, "Well, if his name is something like Vladamir, we will probably consider changing it. However, if it's something like Alexander, we will keep it."

You can imagine our shock when his name was actually Alexander!

In hindsight, we spent a LOT of time worrying about naming, when we didn't need too.

But...we have to consider this again for New Kid. At two, we will probably know and identify with his name. If we change it, we will need to change it to something similar. This makes it darn near impossible to prepare ahead of time!

Do we look up most common Russian boy names and find alternatives that 'work' in America? (ouch...too much work)

Do we just keep his existing name, even if it's Vlad or Dmitry? (easiest solution, but he might get beat up in the future)

Do we just come up with a new name and figure he will learn the new one? (not very nice, IMHO)


I dug out our old 'name list' hoping for some help there. Yuk. Names that we liked four years ago do NOT sound good now.

Oh yeah, and there's one more situation that could occur. He could be named "Alexander". What do we do then? We will have two kids with the same name. Hmmm...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Talk

When you already have a child, and another is on the way, there comes a time when you have to sit down and talk to them about how things are going to change.

When one is pregnant, you have some sort of idea about the time frame (typically 9 months, from what I hear). You can also plan on spending some extra time with your child, so that when New Kid comes, they feel all lovey-dovey and not jealous of Parental-Time-Sucking New Kid.


When you are adopting second child, things work a bit differently.

For example, we had The Talk with Alex about New Kid about a year and a half ago. We really thought it would happen quickly. Of course, he immediately went to school and started talking about his baby brother.

I had to slap the folks that started gazing at my belly. Sidenote: I don't know how you pregnant moms deal with people staring, fondling and commenting on your belly. How rude is this!

One time last fall, Alex & I were grocery shopping. He picked up a 4-pack of yogurt and said, "Look Mommy! One for me, one for Mommy, one for Daddy and one for my baby brother."

Better check that expiration date on the yogurt...I don't think Baby Brother will be here in time to eat it!

So now that we have gotten The Call, we have to have The Talk with Alex again. New Kid is not like Elmo - just a make-believe furry creature that never comes to your house for real - just through that box in the living room. New Kid is really coming...look out!

Another difference is that, instead of being able to spend quality time with Alex, we get to leave him for 7 days, then come back for a few months (without New Kid - how confusing will that be?), then leave him for about 20 days, then come back with New Kid and rock his world.

We have to do things like leave him notes, photos, etc. so he doesn't forget who we are when we are traveling.

And - are kids like dogs?....should we introduce them on 'neutral ground' so no one feels dominate/submissive on the 'home turf'?

We are treading new ground here. The Talk should be interesting. I'll let you know how it goes!

Holy Mackerel!

As some of you already know, Mr. Goofy and I have had paperwork in almost two years to adopt a little boy from Russia. Our current son, Goofy Junior, is also adopted from Russia. Typically, the second adoption is supposed to go faster (you've already done most the paperwork - it's mainly just renewing it all...and more money, of course). This didn't happen, since a few months before we got our paperwork done, Russia decided to revamp their adoption system and re-accredit all the adoption agencies they worked with.

Well, this took a while. They work with a lot of agencies. And we've been in a holding pattern for almost two years now. Our agency was re-accredited at the end of December, but we hadn't heard anything so far.

Until Monday.

Our agency rep called. They have a little boy they would like us to come and meet. And, oh, by the way, could we leave next Monday?

Huh? HUH?!?! That's like, not even 7 days to get visas, get international flights, pack (not a small matter!), get grandparent on the phone for sitting duty and prepare to meet our potential new son.

Yeah, that last one is pretty important. When we adopted Alex, we brought over TONS of Russian medical terminology printouts, growth charts, maps, language guides, etc. We knew we were traveling a month ahead of time, and I still remember getting frantic at the last moment.

So, this time we have 6 days to prepare for this very important trip. GAH!

Breathe...breathe...breathe... SCREAM!

We were able to get our visa paperwork going first thing Tuesday morning. Literally as I am typing, I just got an email that my visa was approved. Yeah! BUT...I still have to get it in the mail before we fly our Monday morning. And no word on Mr. Goofy's...yet.

We struggled with flight reservations. No 7 day advance purchase = $$$$$$$$$$$$$$. Luckily, Mr. Goofy remembered reading about an adoption-friendly* travel agency that was mentioned on one of our adoption e-groups. We found them, called and this Travel Agent Angel was able to secure two tickets on Lufthansa (we be stylin', no?) for the price of one ticket on Delta. It's still pricey, but acceptable.

NOTE: On our trips to meet Alex, we flew Aeroflot from the US to Russia. There's a whole other post about flying on a Russian airline, but let's just say I'm thinking we will be living la vida posh on Lufthansa.

Right now I'm struggling with SHOES! You really walk almost everywhere in Russia and my favorite walking shoes are TOAST. Yes, I know, this is like the lamest thing to be worried about, but if my feet hurt, I'm cranky. No time to be cranky on this trip.

Oh, and here's the schedule:
Leave KC
Arrive Moscow
Jump on overnight train to middle o' Russia
Arrive middle o' Russia
Nap (we hope!)
Go to orphanage for visit
After 3 days in region, reverse the process

We left ourselves an extra day in Moscow before our flight home, just in case something is delayed our they want us to stay longer. Your middle name has to be "Flexible" when doing international adoption. Nothing is for sure until it actually happens.

So, if everything works out, maybe we will have a day in Moscow to visit Red Square again, maybe see the Kremlin this time (it was closed our last trip, as Putin was "in the house") and (if I can stomach it) go see Lenin's tomb.

So, dear readers, please send some on-time-flights--on-time-trains--healthy-child--no-problems-while-overseas thoughts our way next week.

If I can find a Russian Internet Cafe, I will post next week with the gory details. Dasvidanya for now!

* meaning flights can be booked last-minute, as well as changed, refunded, spindeled and mutilated without extraordinary fees! A decidedly good thing for us!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Adventures in Camping - Part Three

Part 3 - The Accidental Great Hike

Saturday morning we set off to hike in the Charon's Garden Wilderness Area. We had our sights set on finding the rock climbing areas in the Refuge. Several folks had told us that these were beautiful areas and Mr. Goofy definitely wanted to scope them out for future climbing trips.

We had to drive to the trailhead. We packed up our climbing shoes and harness and looked for the marker for the trailhead. We found a picnic area with some parking and lots of activity. "This must be it!" we thought.

We estimated that we would be at the climbing areas in about 30 minutes. Easy peasy, right?

From the map, it looked like we could head down the Elk Mountain trail and at some point there would be a branch to the right that would take us to the other trail and the climbing areas.

Stupid map. If Dora had this map, she would never make it to Tallest Mountain, that's for sure.

We hiked and hiked, gradually gaining elevation. At some point, we forgot to keep looking for a rightward branching trail. In hindsight, the hike was pretty great - lots of interesting terrain and enough rocks to keep you on your toes.

About 45 minutes later, we realized that we were NOT on the right trail, we were NOT headed to climbing areas, but rather the top of Elk Mountain. Gah!

Since we were already committed, we went ahead and summited Elk Mountain (probably about an hour's hike total). It was beautiful!

You see, most mountain tops are small. You summit, look around, take the obligatory "I made it to the top...see?" photos, then you head down.

But this summit was HUGE...spatious and beautiful. Lots of gigantic, round rocks, that we joked looked like whales, hippos and giant eggs. We probably spent another hour on top of the mountain, just exploring, taking pictures and climbing on rocks.

And we accidentally snuck up on this bison. He must have taken the wrong trail too!

NOTE: For WAY better pictures, taken by someone who actually knows what he is doing, check out Mr. Goofy's pics at Adventure Bound.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Adventures in Camping - Number Two

Part 2 - Trail Runs

Trail running is a sport where you put on running shoes with beefy soles, usually in some "outdoor" color (green, brown, tan) and you run on hiking trails in the woods.

Trail runs are when you get to your campsite and right in the middle of setting up camp, your son announces that some poop has "sneaked out of his butt". EEK.

Daddy to the pair of underwear down for the count (Thank heavens for Ziplocs!).

Ten minutes later, more Sneaky Poop. Gah!

Again Daddy to the rescue. Thank heavens for Daddy! Who, in a brilliant moment of foresight, washed the underwears (I was ready to pitch them...cause you know...EW!) and hung them between two trees to dry. Yeah, we looked pretty white trash, yes we did.

Sneaky Poop: 2 Underwear: 0

No, er, movement happened for about twenty minutes, so we decided it was safe to go for a hike. Yep, we were wrong. Ten minutes into the hike....more Sneaky Poop!

Back to the car. Much cleaning of the butt region. Installment of Underwear #3 (of only 4 packed!).

Smart Daddy came up with another brilliant idea - a big wad of Kleenex in the underwear. Alex was very put off by this, and actually walked like a duck for a while, but gradually forgot about it.

This was a brilliant idea, because it saved Underwear #3. You guessed it...Sneaky P. again.

We gave up on the plan of a longer hike and headed back to camp. Once at camp, Alex & Daddy headed to the rustic campsite outhouse. I can proudly say that my son pooped in the campground potty (they are pretty yukky and kinda creepy, especially if you watched that one X-Files episode about the monster that lives in the outhou....oh nevermind).
The point of this icky story? Camping really makes you appreciate the pleasures of indoor plumbing.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Adventures in Camping (a multi-part series)

Part 1 - Forgotten Things

This past weekend, the Goofy Family packed up the Family Roadster and headed south for some camping in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. Located in southern Oklahoma, the WMWR is home to Bison, Elk, Longhorn Cattle and (much to Goofy Junior's delight) cute little Prairie Dogs.

Since my camera is currently located in the Family Roadster, which is currently located at Mr. Goofy's work garage, you'll have to wait for photos.

This trip was packed with fun, melodrama (present anytime a 4-year-old is involved) and danger. (insert Mutual of Omaha "Wild Kingdom" theme music here - if anyone remembers it)

We didn't decide to make this trip until the last minute. Actually the wrench-in-the-works was trying to sweet-talk the kennel into making room for our beloved dog, Murphy. It's spring break, you know. Thanks to a last minute cancellation, Murphy got a spot at the kennel (or the "spa" as we like to call it). So we were off...

At this point, I must confess that I am an anal-retentive planner/organizer when it comes to traveling. Whether it's a weekend camping trip or a week-long trip via airplane, I get pretty focused on the packing process.

You see, I have this personality flaw: I HATE taking something on a trip that I DON'T use.

It drives me nuts. This includes, but is not limited to, clothes, food, toiletries, shoes, and books (although I always bring too much reading material....always.).

I'm constantly asking myself "Am I really going to need this?" when I pack. I also usually pack, then just for principle, take 2-3 things out and leave them at home. This usually leads to a lot of washing of undies in hotel sinks. But I digress...

My husband, dear Mr. Goofy, is the complete opposite. He would take the kitchen sink with us if he thought there might be a hookup near the campsite for it. I think it's that whole Boy Scout "Be Prepared" philosophy.

Okay, so now that I've established our respective freakishness when it comes to packing, here's what happened on this trip. Since we did not have a lot of time to plan/pack (about 24 hours total), we ended up bringing the wrong things and leaving some essential things.


I remembered my styling brush, but forgot a hair dryer and even more importantly towels. No towels = no showers for us until we got home! Pee-yew!

We remembered all the makings for S'mores (yum) for our campsite dessert, but forgot to bring jugs of water from home. We ended gagging down well water from the campsite. Even adding powdered Powerade to it didn't mask the metalic taste. Gag.

We remembered Uno cards for campsite entertainment (which we didn't end up doing - too windy), but didn't remember to get much traveling cash. We went through 4 toll stations on the way down (and on the way back too) and the campsite office and the local restaurant only took cash. We were borrowing money from Goofy Junior for the last toll!

We remembered our full-on medical kit (complete with splints, roll of bandages, stethoscope, first aid book, etc.) but forgot to replenish our kit with either alcohol wipes or antibiotic cream. We had to doctor our many scrapes with only water and a Band-aid until we got home. Ow.

But even with the forgotten things, and the extra things, we had a great time. We had so much fun that for the next week, I'll be posting more about our trip. There are so many stories to tell...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Goofy Cooks...Kinda

I hosted our neighborhood book club tonight. Our book was "Second Glance" by Jodi Picoult. We all enjoyed the book, although it was long (400+ pages) and had a plethora of characters. As usual, Picoult did a great job neatly tying all the characters and plotlines into a nice, hearty package at the end, as well as incorporating some controversial topics (ghosts, eugenics and American Indian land rights specifically). Great author!

Our menu was Quiche Lorraine and Tomato Bisque. This would have been the perfect cold winter night menu; however it was about 65 degrees outside. It was still good. And I'm not complaining.

If you need to entertain a small group and need something fast and easy, but want to look like you spent a lot of time preparing, try this...

Tomato Bisque
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes w/ juice
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
1 cup water
2 cups heavy cream
2 tbsp. dried dill
1 tbsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. sugar

Put all ingredients in a pot and whisk together. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Serves 6.

Quiche Lorraine - buy a frozen Quelle Quiche from your local grocery store. Cheating? Hell, yes, but really, unless they see the box, only you will know!

I also provided a Mirassou Chardonnay.

My guests kept complaining that I went to too much trouble and I set the bar too high, blah, blah, blah. They don't know that this entire meal took me about 10 minutes total to prepare.

Shhhh....don't tell.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Goofy Dusts Off Her Green Thumb

As in gardening. As in vegetable gardening.

I recently heard about an organization called Food Not Lawns, and have been reading a lot about urban gardening, CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) and the like.

If you think about it, it is a bit odd that we Americans spend so much time and money growing a plant (grass) that has no value other than looking pretty and keeping soil in place. Think of all the businesses built around seeding, aerating, fertilizing, weeding, to make that lawn green, green, GREEN.

Why not take a bit of your lawn and grow something that you can actually use (i.e., eat)?

Nothing like a bit of logic to get me fired up.

Also in the Goofy household, we have been trying to eat food that is fairly close to its source (consider the Twinkie...what is the real source of a Twinkle? Hmm.....). In order to make this more fun, I suggest to Goofy Junior that we grow some vegetables in our backyard. He loved the idea so much that he would not shut up about it. For example, yesterday (Sunday) he came up to me and want to plant the vegetables in our backyard. Right. Now. Mommy.

I had to explain that there was a bit of preparation that was needed first. Like um, buying some seeds. And starting the seeds. And digging a bed in the backyard.

These are times when I love the Internet. I fired up the computer, typed in "starting a vegetable garden" and got a few great instructional sites, plus a site with gallery pictures of lots of vegetables. Goofy Junior & I took a look through the veggie pictures and we had our own little Vegetable Voting Primary.

Broccoli got thumbs-up (yeah, I was surprised too). Carrots got thumbs-down (strange). Eggplant got thumbs-up (I think because it was purple and shiny).

So, I went to my local Lowe's and got some seeds and some starter containers. The winners: Spinach, Broccoli, Carrots, Sweet Peppers and Green Beans.

I'm hoping to start the Great Goofy Vegetable Endeavor next week. I'll do some periodic posts (maybe even with (gasp!) photos!) to document our progress.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Alex Meets Harry

While flipping around channels last week, my son became enthralled with a Harry Potter movie. He wanted to watch it. Anal Retentive Mom said, "No, this is the third movie, and it's in the middle of the movie. We will rent the first movie and watch it, if you want to."

I thought that was the end of it.

It wasn't.

For the next several days, all Alex wanted was to "watch the Harry Potter movie". Memory like an elephant, I'm telling you.

Keep in mind that I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan. Read all the books. Watched all the movies. Some multiple times. I wanted to make this a good experience. I look forward to reading all the books together, at some point. I just didn't think it would be so soon!

I also didn't want to scare the shit out of my 4-year-old son. The most recent movie was pretty darn scary/violent, but I couldn't remember too much scariness from the very first movie.

Yeah. Whoops. There are some scary parts. (CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD FOR LAME FOLKS THAT HAVEN'T SEEN/READ THE FIRST HARRY POTTER BOOK/MOVIE) Like at the end when Quirrell turns around and Voldemort's face is on the back of his head. And the three-headed dog (Fluffy) guarding the Sorcerer's Stone. And when Voldemort is drinking the dead unicorn's blood and attacks Harry.

Alex took it all in stride. In fact, when Mr. Goofy got home, he got an excited earful....

"Daddy! Vomomort* gave Harry Potter a scarf* and killed his mom and dad. And do you know what he was drinking? The unicorn's blood. Because he was DEAD."

Yep. I've scarred him for life. Now onto "Eragon"!

* not typos. Just 4-year-old speak.