It's been a while!
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
I thought I'd pop in and say hi. Not much has been happening on the adoption front. We had to do another couple of papers last Friday and sent them to Austin. They should be on their way to Dallas now and HOPEFULLY all this stuff can be on its way to Moscow!

Today was my 3rd "goal day" to get the call. And it didn't happen. I don't know if I have the heart to set another goal day. I had hoped maybe we could be over there on Father's Day, since we missed Mother's Day, but now even that is looking impossible.

We've had a house full since last Saturday. Our three nephews came to visit. They are 20, 17 and 11. The 20 yr old only got to stay one night and then had to be back home to go to work today. The other two are staying a week, so we've been keeping busy.

Hopefully soon I'll have some wonderful adoption news. It's great to read about the families who are traveling or have received good news!!

Till later . . .
Should have taken out stock in Fed-Ex!
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Another 24 notarized documents are on their way to Austin for apostilles. Thank goodness Texas enacted a $100 cap per adoption on apostilles in September. But all these Fed-Ex charges are adding up quickly!

Our updated medicals are finally all done (2 doctors-6 days-medicals for 3 people). You would think a person as educated as a doctor could read instructions and do this thing correctly. But lo and behold she signed her signature at the bottom of each column instead of at the top of each column. At least everything was done in blue ink this time - Phew. This was D's pediatrician who signed in the wrong spot, so I'm just not going to worry about it. It isn't as if D is adopting the child!!

After the documents travel to Austin, they'll be directly on their way to the agency in Dallas and will hopefully immediately hit the trail to Moscow.

I stared at those blasted things so long, just making sure, double sure, triple sure everything was correct! Then once I left the Fed-Ex place, I sat in the car just hoping everything was in order! You know after you've looked and looked at something, it starts blurring together and it's hard to focus and concentrate.

We're always in the Fed-ex place for a good 30 min - an hour. They know us there by now and are aghast that "that baby" is still not home! So are we Fed-Ex guy, so are we!

Till later . . .
Is anyone else having this problem??????
Hi, I'm Suz and I am Word Verificationally Challenged! Does anyone else have the problem with those word verification things like I do? I KNOW I'm typing it in exactly as it is shown, but still 90% of the time it makes me do a re-do!

Ok, just wanted to vent a bit about that. Got it off my chest now. And the next time I post a comment on a blog, just know that it'll take me a bit longer than most normal people because I'm having to enter those crazy letters a few times until I get it write, um, rite, uh, right.

till later . . .
Coming home outfit(s) - One and Two
Monday, May 22, 2006

I found the cutest coming home to Texas outfit for Baby V to wear off the plane to meet her new family. I bought it right before we left for our first trip and got it a size bigger than I thought she would need (size 12 months). I still think it will fit fine, but she won't be able to wear it. It's just gonna be hot as blazes by the time we get her home (it's 94* right now!) and this "oh so cute" outfit is long sleeved with tights! I'm so sad she isn't going to be able to wear it. I'm tempted to put her in it anyhow, but that would just be plain ol' torture. So, since she won't be able to make her grand debut wearing this oh so cute outfit, I thought I'd show it to everyone here so the cute factor can be shared by all. Isn't it just the perfect Coming Home to Texas outfit you've ever seen in your life???!!

OUTFIT TWO: D and I were at Target today (we just love Target!) and we found a replacement outfit. It's not near as unique, but it's still pretty cute. If you click on the picture you can see it better. The little onesie top says American Cutie on it. It would really be perfect for someone adopting from Guatemala because on the tag it says Made in Guatemala! Get it? A new American Cutie... Made in Guatemala??!! But our new American Cutie was made in Russia.

Where we're at . . .
Just thought I'd update a bit about where we're at right now in our wait.

1. We got a call last Wednesday, May 17 which was the date the accreditation expired. Our casemanager explained about our agency needing to file for NGO status (Non Governing Organization) in Russia. Originally adoption agencies thought they would be exempt, but on May 11, our Russia director attended a meeting detailing how agencies were to go about the processing of this paperwork. Our agency is already in the midst of completing the application and expects to be finalized by mid-July.

At this meeting, agencies were also informed that adopting parents who have already traveled on their first trip will most likely be able to complete their adoptions. For more information, please visit: On this website it makes it sound more definitive that we will be able to still complete our adoption before re-accreditation is attained.

2. A small portion of our homestudy needed to be reworded. When we originally had our homestudy and prepared our dossier we thought we would be going to Bryansk, so we prepared it accordingly. Now that we are in D & V's region, the judge requires a bit different wording, so the agency had to do that, get it apostilled, then it was sent to Moscow last Thursday for translation.

3. Our medical reports have expired. They expire every 3 months. Our casemanager thinks we will still be able to get our court date with our old ones along with the news that we have had them redone and that they're on their way. So, I spent last Thursday and Friday and today (and probably tomorrow morning) getting those done. Hubby and I use the same General Practitioner here in town, we got ours completed last Friday and I went to Longview this morning to get D's updated at her pediatrician and will have to go back tomorrow to pick them up then send them to Austin for apostilles, then I'll have them sent directly to the agency and they'll send them on to Moscow for translation.

So, that's what is happening right now. We are praying that we will hear the news soon! I've had target dates and they've all slipped by so far - April 21 - nope, May 15 - nope, so my new target date is May 30.

Oh my, I would have never dreamed it would take this long for our court date. Eleven weeks ago today we met baby V. I can't imagine how much she has grown and changed.
This and That
Thursday, May 18, 2006
I thought I'd answer a few more questions that were left in the comments section.

Jen - Concerning Il Patio (formerly known as Patio Pizza). It is very good, very nice atmosphere and very reasonable priced for the pizza. We ordered 3 pizzas and soft drinks for 5 people and the total was $28.95. I think there are about 6 different locations. We ate at the one in the shopping center complex right in the same block as the US Embassy. It was fancier than the ones we ate at on our first adoption when it was still called Patio Pizza. Hubby's favorite pizza there is Bavarian Sausage. I just play it safe with pepperoni.

Debbie - We plan to stay the entire time during the second trip. Our region is MUCH less expensive than Moscow and it wouldn't be feasible to fly home since we will most likely be flying in the highest rate season. It looks like airline tickets will be about double what they were in Feb/March. We will most likely be staying in an apartment in the region and it will cost less than staying in a hotel. Plus we'll be able to cook for ourselves there.
The Ukraina Hotel
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Me and D in the lobby of the Ukraina Hotel. It was decorated for Women's Day. The gift shop where I got my amber necklace is just over my shoulder, up the little steps.

There were a few questions concerning my thoughts on this hotel in my comments, so thought I'd answer them now.

We liked the Ukraina. It was, however, expensive to eat in the restaurants in the hotel. The Breakfast buffet came with the room cost and we ate quite well at the buffet. Many of the things were unusual according to American breakfast standards, but we always found plenty to get full. There were pancakes (with honey to put on top - no syrup); yogurt; lunch meats; cheese; weiners; fruit; eggs; ham; oatmeal; pastries; lots of other things I didn't recognize.

When you enter the hotel, you put your things through an x-ray machine. Then you enter into a fairly grand lobby. To the left are the registration desks, but our coordinator/translator took care of all that for us, we just sat on the couch and waited for her to return. We stayed in a room with two twin beds that we scooched together and we had a roll away bed brought in for D. There was a refrigerator in the room. The hotel is huge, like 31 stories I think. It is one of the Seven Sisters buildings and right on the Moscow River. It is a few blocks away from the US Embassy. There were people staying there from all over the world. We saw several adoptive families eating in the Breakfast restaurant.

Playground in the courtyard area of Ukraina Hotel.

The hotel encompasses a huge block of land and at the base of the hotel are businesses. We took a walk around the hotel and went to a little grocery store and got some things to eat in our room. I have heard that there are other restaurants within walking distance farther away, but we didn't venture any further than the perimeter of the hotel since it was so snowy and since we had other plans with our translator for the other meals.

D and Hubby eating lunch at the Jazz Bar Restaurant at the Ukraina Hotel $$

There are lots of little shops in the hotel. We were just "looking" in one jewelry shop right outside of the Breakfast restaurant and I found a dainty Amber necklace, just what I was looking for and it was only $31 which we thought was reasonable. Their Matryoshkas are more expensive than at the markets, but we did buy a few things in the gift shops.

The Internet Suite was very easy to manage, it was a little expensive - $3 for 10 minutes. But we were able to get done what we needed. Since we didn't take a laptop it was just fine. On the 2nd floor (I think) there is a lounge area with wi-fi and lots of people were using their laptops out there. I guess it was free.

All the hotels were much more expensive than we had anticipated. There are very few Russian hotels left. Our coordinator always tries to book our agency's families in the Russian ones because they are less expensive than the International chains.

All the staff we came in contact with were very friendly. We had D with us, but not a baby/toddler, so I don't know if there would have been a difference with their attitudes. Our room was very clean and well appointed. Not fancy but quite adequate.

You can go to the very top of the hotel and there is a lookout. We didn't realize it would be completely outdoors, so it was cold and we had D with us and hubby was afraid she'd go over the rail! You can take the elevator up most of the way, then you'll climb about 5 flights of stairs to get to the very top. If it weren't so cold (we didn't have our coats on!) we would have stayed longer, but it was neat. We went up at night too, so my pictures are very dark, or I'd share them.

The Ukraina has a website with pictures of different types of rooms and the restaurants. In the upper right hand corner is a box to click to see it in English. The red and gold restaurant - The Ukraina Restaurant is where you'll go for the Breakfast bar.

I hope this answers some questions you had. I'd be happy to answer more!

Till later . . .

Trip One - Part Eight
Thursday, May 11, 2006
STILL Wednesday, March 8 -

Now we were heading for the train station. It was about a 30 minute drive and we got to the station a little bit early. By this point all the other travelers in our group needed to go potty. We had to wait a few minutes because the cleaning lady at the train station was cleaning the bathroom. We got in and it was a pristinely clean bathroom - with hole in the ground potties again!! What's the deal?!

On our first adoption, we had been warned about these potties and never saw even ONE! Now, on this day, we've encountered THREE. As you can guess, I decided to just wait until we got on the train and got started on our journey. As an aside, there is a rule on the train that you cannot use the restrooms until a certain amount of time outside each city. It's an hour outside of Moscow and most other cities it's 30 minutes I believe. This is because the potty flushes straight out onto the track - ICK - and they don't want the mess near the cities.

Ok, enough potty talk :o)

While we were waiting for our train to arrive, we looked around at the shops inside the train station. We'd been to this train station 5 times before, but never inside like this, we always just passed right by outside and went straight to the car or the train - so this was a new experience. After a few minutes, I sat on a bench with our translator while hubby and D bought some Skittles. A young man came and sat downbeside us and began talking to our translator. I figured he found her attractive and was "hitting on her" but NO it was me he was interested in (tee hee). As it turned out, we were the first Americans he had ever seen! He was from a small village outside of this city and had never seen Americans before. I made sure I was very cordial, since I was representing my country! I was glad, though, when hubby and D returned to my side!

Then it was time to head out to the train. We were a little anxious to be taking the trip alone. We'd always had a "chaperone" on the train on all our other 5 trips between our region and Moscow. We lugged all our suitcases onto the train with the help of our driver (now I know why it's called LUGGAGE!). We've got to find a way to pack lighter next trip! Our coordinator, translator and driver bid us farewell after making sure we were situated in our little compartment. Here is a picture of us boarding the train, it is kind of dark because it was dusk, but maybe if you click on it you can see the train better.

As soon as we got on the train, I changed clothes and took off my pants that had been T-T'd on by D and put on my comfy running pants (hee hee, me and running pants are kind of an oxymoron!)

Then we were off on our trip back to Moscow. The car attendant came by and asked if we wanted tea (chai) and we accepted the offer. It was pretty good hot tea and the cups were so cool we took a pic.

D had a good time again playing in the top bunk.The trip went by pretty quickly and before we knew it, it was time to sleep. I slept a little better on this trip, but not too much. D slept like a dream though, so that's a big plus. I only had to climb down from my bunk one time this trip to go potty, so that was an improvement!

Thursday, March 9 -

We arrived in Moscow about 10 a.m. and there was our translator and driver waiting for us just outside the train door. They helped us off with our loads of luggage. We lugged everything through the station and out through the snow to the waiting van. Oh, how blissful to have all the room in that Honda Odyssey van!! We headed back to the Hotel Ukraina (pictured below) and decided we would just rest that afternoon and hang out at the hotel. We ate lunch at one of the Ukraina restaurants, the Jazz Cafe I think it was called. For the three of us it was $65!!! We didn't splurge either, D and I shared a club sandwich, we had 3 Sprites, a plate of sliced bananas and hubby got some meat dish with potatoes. Needless to say, we didn't eat there again!

Up in our room, D watched her DVD's then we rested. In the late afternoon we took a walk around the block that the hotel encompassed and found a little Gastronom (grocery store). We bought some milk (malako); bread (we pointed - didn't know that word); apples (yablaka); bananas (banan); water (vada). We felt pretty proud that we knew enough to communicate what we needed. Inside the shop you went to a different counter to get each thing and I'm afraid the attendants weren't as impressed with us as we were. We made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner that night. We'd already blown our budget on lunch!

Friday, March 10 -

We slept in a bit and then Nadia came to pick us up for a shopping spree on Old Arbat Street. We did some more souvenir shopping. D got a big Madagascar Matryoshka set. Then Nadia took us to a Chocolate/Coffee House. It was a nice place. We got tiny cups of very, very thick, very dark hot chocolate! It was too rich for my taste but hubby loved it! I could only handle about 1/2 the tiny cup and then hubby finished it off for me.

We shopped for about another hour and then we headed back to where we'd left our driver and trusty Honda Oddysey van.

Next we headed back near our hotel and went for our first trip to eat at Il Patio (it was named Patio Pizza on our first adoption and we ate there A LOT those times). We had a nice late lunch then headed back to our hotel where we told Nadia goodbye till our next trip.

When we got back to the hotel I took a good long time to pack the suitcases very neatly and orderly. All the dirty clothes in one suitcase; one suitcase with D's leftover clothes and souvenirs; one with mine and hubby's clothes and miscellaneous. Our carry on bags were neatly packed and ready to go. We went to bed fairly early that night to get our good rest before our trip home in the morning!

Saturday, March 11 -

In the morning we met with the travel agent and paid for our Moscow hotels (the Mir and Ukraina all at once). Five nights $1,095. Then our Russian Program Director came with the driver in the Oddysey and we were off to the airport.

Till later . . .
A Note about the Purple Hippo . . .
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Yesterday, right after I posted about the Purple Hippo, Missy (the owner) found out her dear uncle had passed away.

So - I just wanted to let you know that if you try and contact her in the next couple of days and don't hear back right away, you would understand why.

Thanks, Jen, for posting the link on your blog too! I think it's a great opportunity for fundraising PAP's.
Trip One - Part Seven
Still Wednesday, March 8 -

After we left the orphanage around 2 p.m., we went back into the center of town for lunch. When asked what we'd like we thought we wanted to try the pizza place. Big mistake! This was not pizza like we know. It was weird! Now I'm pretty much always up to trying something new, but in my emotional state, we should have stuck to something more tried and true. At this place, you go up to the counter where there are all kinds of pizzas to choose from and you choose which pieces you want. Well, through all the translations, hubby thought he ended up choosing pretty well for the 3 of us. D was sad there was no pepperoni here, that is what she wanted. Two of the slices were some kind of meat that were just ok. But the other was FISH pizza! Ick and double Ick! Before we left, my tummy was beginning a bit of a revolt - but it wasn't quite . . .ready. Hubby had gone to the restroom there earlier, it was a his/hers type one seater. He came back and told me "you probably don't want to go in there." It had no seat top, just the rim, plus it was pretty dirty and nasty in there. So, I waited.

As we were leaving the pizza place, our driver got a ticket for making a u-turn.

As our region is the birthplace of Lenin, we went to the Lenin museum/memorial to have a look around. Of course we had seen it 4 years earlier in the beautiful glow of Autumn's glory. But the other family with us had never visited it, so off we went in the chilling snow of late Winter's rath. Of course, it was closed because it was Women's Day. So we just walked around outside. This picture is of D outside one of Lenin's childhood homes with our "gang" in the background.

As we were strolling around, I began having a very strong need to find a potty - soon! The nearest one was across the street at the hotel. So since I was going anyway, I brought D with me, because you never pass up an opportunity for a 5 year old to potty. I grabbed the handy roll of Charmin travel t-p and off we went. We entered the bathroom and oh my goodness, all the toilets were the kind with just a hole in the floor with two "pads" to place your feet beside. Panic began to set in! There was no way I was going to be able to do the business I needed to do on THAT! Especially not with the coat, tights, jeans, etc. etc. So D still insisted she needed to T-T so I let her give it a go, but the go ended up going all over my cute little snow boots! I didn't even try it.

So off we go back across the busy street back to the museum, and I still needed to really, really go bad! By the time I got back to hubby, I just broke down in tears. I'm sure our region coordinator (who speaks very little English) was wondering what on earth was the matter with me. The other lady traveling with us, told her I just must be so sad about leaving baby V. So we all cram back into the cars and arrive at another park with lots of memorials. By this point I have no idea where we were, I was nearly out of my mind with the need to find a bathroom! So, while the rest of the group strolled around the park, I sat in the car and waited. About 10 minutes later, hubby came back and told me they had seen a Philharmonic building where a concert was about to begin so surely they would have a bathroom for me there. So we take off down there with our region coordinator and she tells the door attendant that I really need a bathroom, so the kind lady allows us to come inside. This was beyond humiliating, but so desperate was I! So we walk and walk and walk inside this building, down some stairs, behind the stage, and finally find the bathroom. Hubby and coordinator stand outside the doorframe (no door). And do you know what?!! Another hole in the ground!!! This one however was up on a little step thing, so I was desperate and decided I was using it no matter what. So, I took my little charmin and made a "seat" around the hole and then I contorted my body in this tiny space and sat on my little homemade toilet. Then I had to figure a way to get myself unfolded and up from that cramped position! Oh my - a humiliating experience all around.

And what was my lesson in all of this?! #1 don't eat strange pizza and #2 if I ever "sort of" need to go - and there is a standing toilet of any sort, with or without a seat - GO!

till later . . .
Trip One - Part Shest (6)
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
"And how many parts will there be", you ask?? As many as it takes.

Wednesday, March 8 -

Wednesday morning we woke up and got ready with time to spare. We had breakfast in the bar because the restaurant was closed for Women's Day. It was still about a 4 course breakfast and we got plenty to eat!

After breakfast, we went up and finished our packing. We would be bringing our luggage down with us when we left and the drivers would keep it in their cars during our visits today and until we headed to the train. .....This picture is of hubby and D outside the Hotel Oktoberskaya.

The drivers brought the cars nearer to the hotel this time so we wouldn't have to drag the suitcases through the thick snow again, then we just hoped and prayed that the cars would stay in the ruts as we left and not get stuck again!

Next we headed to the orphanage for our last visit with baby V. When we arrived we went straight to the playroom and started removing our snow gear and before I even got my boots off, there she was! They are some speedy little caregivers at this orphanage! They had her swaddled up in a Blues Clues blanket, and she had a different little bonnet on today (Oh how I wish I could show you a picture - she was so sweet!) She was still a little snuffly, so I guess that was the reasoning behind the swaddling and bonnet. We took her into the bigger playroom and got down to our playing business.

It didn't seem like too much time had passed and a worker brought a tray of food for baby V to eat. I was going to get to feed her! It was a huge amount of food! Now remember this is a tiny 15 1/2 pound baby - 13 months but the size of a 6 month old US baby! The luncheon consisted of a big bowl of soup with lots of vegies floating in it - to be eaten using a huge tablespoon; mashed potatoes; ground meat; smushed beets; bitter bread; and a teacup of some type fruit juice. She loved the beets and mashed potatoes. She withstood eating some of the meat. Took only a few sips of the soup and simply refused the bitter bread. She drained the teacup of it's juice - although it wasn't a very delicate operation. They brought a small dishcloth for me to use to contain the mess. Of course I was the one making most of the mess! Baby V did very well! She really didn't eat a huge amount of the food, and I'm sure she is accustomed to being fed much more quickly than I was managing to do. She ate most of the potatoes and beets and then she seemed to be finished. I felt like I didn't do a very good job. I'm sure baby V was wondering who in the world this novice feeding lady was!

We went back out into the playroom and baby V played a bit with the baby of the other family from our agency who had traveled at the same time. Baby V is 3 months older than Baby M, but they were a hoot to watch. One would take the other's toy and then she would try to get it back. Baby V was much more the bully though!

D went back and forth between playing with baby V and playing alone on the gymnastic type equipment they had in this playroom. That baby stuff didn't hold her attention long.

As we had noticed earlier, baby V's nose was pretty runny, but whenever I tried to wipe it off, she didn't want any of that! This was the only time she put up any type of fuss.

We stayed about 2 1/2 hours and I could tell she was getting pretty tired. This had to have been her nap time of day because every afternoon at this time, she would definitely be winding down. She sucks her two middle fingers of her right hand when she is tired. Before we knew it the caretaker was there to get her. Our translator was in the other room with our region coordinator and we really didn't get a chance to say goodbye! Just a quick hug and kiss and she was gone. D was playing on the other side of the room and didn't get to tell her goodbye at all!

This was nothing like our parting with D when it was time for us to leave until court time. We were able to put her down in her crib and kiss her goodbye. Of course I cried like a baby when we left D. But this time around, I didn't have a moment to even comprehend what was happening! It wasn't until we were walking out the front door of V's orphanage that the tears began to fall. I really don't like to be rushed and especially not at a moment like this! But it is all out of our hands.

So, we were gone. Bye bye baby V pahkah, pahkah. We hope to see you very soon!

Our coordinators felt we would be back by mid-May which sounded SO FAR OFF. Well, here we are ... it's nearly mid-May and still no court date. This is really and truly the hardest part - the waiting to see her again.

Till later . . .
The Purple Hippo . . .
While we have been extremely blessed and our adoption is fully funded (all praise to God!), I know that many families need to do some sort of fund raising.

My friend, Missy, has a wonderful business called the PURPLE HIPPO( ) She began it just a short while ago and it has taken off like a rocket!

As we were talking this morning, I asked if she thought the Purple Hippo could be utilized as an Adoption Fund Raiser and she excitedly said YES! She has offered an adoption fundraising plan where 30% of the sales go into the fundraiser's pocket. She will also set up a web-page for the people who are fundraising.

So if you or anyone you know needs an idea for adoption fund raising, go check her out! I'm really excited to be able to share this with everyone, I think it could really bless some lives!

I've added a link to it in my Other Interesting Adoption and Child-rearing Related Links on the sidebar of my blog.

If you correspond with Missy, let her know that you learned about it from me! There's absolutely no financial gain being made here on my part, but I'd just love to know if I have helped someone toward their goal!

till later . . .
Super Grover!
Monday, May 08, 2006
Today on Sesame Street, Grover went to Russia! D was sitting in the living room and started shouting, "Grover's in Russia!!" so I went in and watched the segment.

At the end, when Grover was back on Sesame Street dancing with Russian Muppets in Fur Hats, D said, "I wish Grover would go back to Russia and get baby V and bring her home!"

Me too, baby girl, me too!

till later . . .
Thanking God for little blessings . . .
Sunday, May 07, 2006

Last night as D and I were rocking before bedtime, hubby and I were watching a Billy Graham DVD of his visits to Russia and his being allowed to minister in Russia .

Anyhow, as D and I were rocking she was seeing the scenes of Moscow and Red Square. A few minutes went by and she said, "That's where I was born."

" Yes baby, that's where you were born - in Russia", I answered.

A few minutes later, we're still rocking and she asks, "What does it mean to get born?"

Oh boy, I thought, here we go. The big tummy talk! She still doesn't know that babies come from mommies' tummies.

"Well, baby girl", I say, "it means when you came into the world."

"Oh", she says around the thumb in her mouth. We rock on.

"Mommy", she says, "when I was a baby in Russia, I was so happy when you came to get me."

Tears well up in my eyes as I say, "We were so happy to get you too!" "Mommy and Daddy prayed for a really long time for God to give us a baby girl and finally He said yes and I'm so thankful."

"Mommy, why are you crying?"

"Because I love you so much, and I'm remembering how sad I was before you were able to come home. "

Then she reached up and touched my cheek with her little hand and said, "I love you so much too, Mommy."

That's what it's all about!

Till later . . .
Trip One - Part Five
Saturday, May 06, 2006
Still Tuesday, March 7 -

We left the V's orphanage and loaded into the tiny car for the ride across the bridge to D's old orphanage. Our region is situated on the Volga River and the "city" side is on one side of the river and then there's a more "suburban" side across the bridge. D's old orphanage is located in the more "suburban" side. It took us about an hour to cross with all the snow. The Volga, much to our surprise was frozen! It is a huge river and we were surprised it had frozen that solidly.
There were people out ice-fishing on it. Now remember, anything ice and snow related is a huge novelty to us East Texans!

I was expecting to have some profound feeling when we arrived at D's orphanage, but I guess I was just glad that long ride in the cramped Lada was over and that we were just finally there! Plus with all the snow it looked much different than it did in the summer and fall. Maybe too, I was a little worried about D's reaction. I don't know - conflicting feelings for Mommy!

We went in and saw the orphanage social worker. She said she remembered us and D as a baby. She truly seemed happy to see D and how well she is doing. We brought a current picture of D framed for her as a gift. D was pretty nervous though and just sat in our lap and sucked her thumb! Eeek, something we had tried to have her NOT do in public in Russia because of the all the Babushkas! Even as an 11 month old baby, they were trying to break her of it when we left and here she was 5 and still sucking that thumb like crazy. She only does it now when she is tired or unsure of herself and baby- I would be a little nervous too if I were her!

Most of the staff and children were gone from the orphanage that afternoon to a concert in celebration of Women's Day. We were unable to see the room where she lived either because they have moved all the babies to another building and her old room as we know it is no longer there. We were a little sad about that. I guess we just expect things to stay the same. We gave the social worker the chocolates and cake we brought and the 60 knit caps that hubby's mom had knitted as a donation to D's orphanage. Then we took D's picture with her a few times.

At this orphanage, it is really neat how they have things set up. The older kids ages 3-17 live in "cottages" which are like townhomes. There are about 10 kids per cottage and a crew of Mamas who come in on shifts. There is one "head Mama" who lives there most all the time. I think she gets one day a week off. Anyhow, when we adopted D, we were able to stay right there in one of those cottages on the grounds of her orphanage. On our second trip we were able to take her into our room with us the day we arrived! So we had 3 days to bond with her before we even went to court. The mamas still fixed her (and our) meals, and we kept her on her orphanage schedule, but it was wonderful to have her with us from day one! The head mama in that cottage is still there, but she was gone that day to the concert. We left her a picture of D now and also a picture of her and D when D was a baby.

We took a tour of the cottage, it has been remodeled a whole lot since we were there. The only two rooms that were exactly the same were the living room the bathtub room and the toilet room. I took a picture of D (and all her 45 inches!) beside the tub where she had her first real tub bath. There is a picture in her scrapbook of her as a baby in that bathtub so now we have a before and after! Then D needed to T-T and we went into the toilet room (about a 4x4 square room). It was very smelly in there. I distinctly remember from our stay in that cottage that the bathroom always smelled freshly cleaned and of bleach. So that must have been for our benefit! Beside the potty was a little bin with torn bits of paper from magazines and old books - that was these poor children's toilet paper - in 2006! When we stayed there, they had regular Russian style t-p so I'm sure, now, that too was for our benefit. Anyhow, I was glad we had our travel roll of Charmin. I've never used bits of torn paper for t-p. Maybe I should have tried it, now that I think in hindsight. Such a spoiled American I am. I was glad, though, that D saw that. I am afraid that she will have a romanticized view of Russia. Of course we want her to be proud of her heritage, and have shown her many lovely and exciting aspects of Russia but we also want her to know a bit of what life is like in the orphanage as well. I also wish I would have had the camera with me in there to take a picture of it as a reminder, maybe even have it framed in our bathroom when I am feeling like our house is too small, too out of date, too whatever - to remind me to be grateful for what I have.

Then we bundled up into our snow gear for the thousandth time and headed back to the Lada. The orphanage grounds were just covered in snow and there were children out pulling one another on sleds and "cross-country" skiing on little wooden worn out, splintered skis strapped to their regular snow boots. They were having fun, but I wanted to come back home and buy them some cool skis to ski with! Of course, I wouldn't know the first thing about how to choose a ski!

We piled back into the Lada 5 adults and a 5 year old. After they dropped us off at the hotel, they were taking our coordinator back to the train so she could go home and be with her 5 month old daughter on her first "Women's Day" which would be the next day. This meant we'd be riding the train on our own tomorrow night. That would be a first for us. Of course we've taken five train rides already between Moscow and our region, but we were still a little leary.

The car dropped us off about two blocks from the hotel - so it wouldn't get stuck - and we walked the rest of the way to the hotel. This was the time we saw THE PERFECT SPOT for making a snow angel! We told D to go for it and she made her very first snow angel! The look of pure joy on her face is a treasure I'll carry with me forever!! Click on the picture to get the full benefit of that great smile!!!

We went to dinner at the hotel restaurant and when we entered there was loud music playing, a DJ on the little bandstand and several ladies dancing. Oh yes! They were celebrating for Women's Day! Boy, that music was loud, though. I guess we've become old fogies!

There was only one menu in English and we passed it around the table and made our selections. We were there with another couple also adopting with our agency at the same orphanage. Once we ordered, D wanted to dance, so Daddy took her out on the dance floor and they shook their boodies a bit. But the partying ladies came and took D's hand and wanted her to join their little circle and that freaked her out, so she and Daddy quickly came back to the table (with our pantomimed apology and thanks to them for including her). She was really tired, she had only closed her eyes a couple minutes during our ride to her orphanage squished in the car like a sardine. After we ate our "so-so" dinner (I chose chicken again) we headed upstairs and crashed for the night!

More to come!

Till later . . .
Trip One - Part Four
Thursday, May 04, 2006
*Pictured is D playing in the ball pit in the playroom while we waited for baby V to come in.

Still Monday, March 6 -

We took Baby V out into the big playroom area and sat in the floor with her on a blanket. D showed her the Nick Jr. Face backpack we brought all her toys in and she was mesmerized by the face on front. It's a very small backpack that we got with some books we ordered for D a few years ago, but in the pictures next to V it looks big, so you can't really tell how very small she really is! She was just precious! D started taking all the toys out, one right after the other. I think baby V was rather overwhelmed with all the toys and all this attention focused just on her. But with big sister so excited to help her play, it was hard to stifle it. She played with all the toys and was developmentally doing what she should with them (switching hand to hand, coming to center etc.) but she wasn't smiling for the longest time. Finally hubby started doing "flying baby" and out came the smiles and giggles! She has a little dimple in her right cheek and a cleft in her chin just like D. We took lots of pictures and video and before we knew it the caregiver had come to get baby V and take her back to her room for nap time. We'd had about an hour with her. Then she was gone as quickly as she came in.

It was about 2:30 and we were starved, so we told our coordinator we wanted to go eat. We trudged our way back to the car and drove back to the city center and we went to a Czech restaurant and the food was delicious and very cheap.

We went back to the hotel and D got her (supplementary) oatmeal. We all had a shower or bath and we were all in bed about 8 p.m. We were exhausted. Around 9 p.m. our casemanager called from Dallas to check in with us. It was noon in Dallas.

Tuesday, March 7 -

We had a wonderful huge breakfast at the hotel and then we met back in the lobby at 10:30 with the driver, the Region Rep and our In Country Director/Translator. The driving was slow going again because of the snow. We stopped off at a super-market to get some chocolates and beautiful cakes for the caregivers in celebration of Women's Day. We bought 2 big boxes of chocolates and 2 cakes. One for baby V's orphanage and one for D's old orphanage which we would visit later in the day.

We arrived at baby V's orphanage and went right on into the playroom. There we unbundled from all our coats, scarves, gloves, boots, mittens and hats. What a pile we made! About 5 minutes passed and they brought baby V in to us. She had on a little lace bonnet. She had a sniffly nose so I guess they were bundling her up extra so she wouldn't catch a chill in the 85 degree room :o). She was teething a good bit, so that may have attributed to the runny nose. She wasn't rattly in the chest, it was just her nose.

This was the time to try on the outfit we brought to see what size she is and to tactfully "check her out." The size 6-9 month outfit fit her with still a bit of roominess. I whipped out my trusty measuring tape and checked her head circumference. It was almost 1/2 inch bigger than what they had reported on the medical. I think this is pretty common though, since I believe they measure differently. She didn't fuss at all when I was changing her outfit and believe me I did fumble around a lot! I am very out of practice in dressing a baby! I had made a cute little card to do her foot tracing on (for the scrapbook), so we traced her cute little foot. She flinched a bit near her big toe, so the drawing looks like she has a bunion :o). It looks like her foot was about a size 3. So, I'll take some size 3's and size 4's and whatever doesn't fit I'll leave for the orphanage. Poor D's scrapbook has her foot copied on a piece of ripped paper bag, Mommy didn't think far enough ahead on the first adoption.

We played some more with her toys. The biggest hit were these little clear balls with sound making devices in them. They are by Fisher Price and they're called Roll Arounds. They were intended to be of a two-fold purpose. One - just to play with because they're cool and Two - for us to test her hearing. She passed both with flying colors :o). There was a little gymnastic type ramp pad and I would roll a ball down the ramp and after a few times she imitated me and did it herself! I was so excited! It was during this play time that she seemed to either get comfortable enough with us, or she was just so into the playing that she forgot to be leary because she started babbling and cooing. At first I thought she was crying but quickly realized she was just "talking." Then before we knew it, the caregiver was back and ready to take her back to her room for nap-time. I could tell she was getting tired and she was probably hungry too. We were told we would get to see her living quarters on our next trip so all we saw this time around was this play room every day.

More to come!

Till later . . .
A word from our agency . . .
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
I've got mixed feelings - we heard from our Agency casemanager today. I'll summarize:

They had just gotten off the phone with the Russian In-country Program Director. Our new dossier has completed translation and is being reviewed. Next it will be sent to the region coordinator to be submitted to the court for our court date. We should hear something in a couple weeks, maybe sooner.

I asked if they know if baby V 's databank release has been recieved? No, it is currently taking 6-8 weeks. So I remind them - we're right there at it! We left the region 8 weeks ago today. They told me to h
ang in there. I'm hanging - by my fingernails!!

Baby V's Nursery

I recovered the glider pads in a lavendar gingham; sewed the changing pad cover (made 2); I made the dust ruffle on the crib; made the laundry bag on the changing table;
and made the diaper stacker (we need to buy some diapers!).

We bought the comforter and bumpers already made :o). I still have to finish putting up the wall paper border.

Trip One - part three
Saturday, March 4 -

We were getting ready to meet our agency's Russian Director for lunch at 11:00. D had just getten her coat, scarf and hat on when hubby picked her up for a hug and she lost her breakfast on him and her pretty white "fur" scarf. Her poor tummy was so upset. But, after she threw up she said she felt better, so we decided to ahead and meet them for lunch - there was no way to contact them anyhow as they were certainly already on their way to the hotel to get us.

Since it wasn't far from our hotel, we decided to walk. It was a little more than a mile I would guess. D enjoyed walking under the street like an ant! We had lunch at an Azerbaijani restaurant called Shesh-Besh. I was shaslik (kabobs) with no stick. We got to the table and ordered our drinks - D had to go to the bathroom, feeling sick again :o/. We came back, I looked at the menu and back to the bathroom we go. I told hubby to just order me something with chicken. Back at the table - they had ordered an appetizer of really thin bread with buttery sauce (it was good and I was hungry!). I got one bite of it and back to the bathroom we went. When we got back everyone had finished the good bread!! The food was there. I got about 3 bites and back to the bathroom we went!! When I got back everyone was done eating and now D's tummy was all better! I just had my lunch wrapped up and carried it back to the hotel. I didn't get hardly any visiting done with the director and her husband and I didn't eat but a few bites!

We rested a bit in the afternoon and our translator, Nadia, came and picked us up for the circus at 6 p.m. D was very excited! We arrived at the snow covered circus complex and saw outdoor amusement rides. D rode the ferris wheel and the kiddie carousel. Next we went into the very crowded circus building and stood in the line to check our coats, I was so glad Nadia was there with us because we would not have had a clue what to do! We bought D a blinkie wand and Nadia bought them each a pink clown nose! The circus was WONDERFUL! We were so impressed. There were acrobats, dogs, monkeys, bears, elephants, horses, ice skaters and of course clowns (but not like usual US clowns). D's favorite was the horses and the elephants. Mommy's favorite were the bears and the ice skaters. I was so glad the bears were muzzled though, because we were right there by them, maybe 10 feet away!

The circus was long , 7 - 10 p.m. But it was very good. We were all tired and headed back to the hotel. We went straight to bed.

Sunday, March 5 -

We woke up about 9 a.m. and started getting our things packed and ready for the train trip to our region. Nadia and Igor picked us up at 11 and we went to the Izmailov (sp?) market to do some souvenir shopping. It was snowing like crazy! We decided just to shop for one hour because it was so snowy and c-o-l-d! We did really well, though and bought lots of stuff in one hour :o)

We left the market and went to exchange some dollars for rubles and then we headed to the Starlight Diner where we had hamburgers and D got a "girl cheese sandwich". After our late lunch, we went to the train station to catch our 5:20 train to the region. By this point putting all the snow paraphenalia on and off D was beginning to become very tiresome! It was soooo cold outside but soooo hot inside!

We arrived at the train with our loads and loads of luggage and with the help of our drivers and the coordinator's husband, we got it all loaded in our little compartment. The car attendant was named Nadezhda and she lives in our children's region. She spent a good amount of time hanging out at our compartment practicing her English and talking with D. She was very nice and we were so happy to have her for our car attendant! We had a whole compartment to ourselves so imagine our surprise when a Russian man comes right in and plops his suitcase on one of the upper bunks! We started hollering for our coordinator in the next compartment!! It is very common for strangers to share compartments on the trains and he just had the wrong compartment but didn't think twice about the need to just join our little family!!! Whew, we were so glad we had our coordinator right in the next compartment!! The bathrooms on the train are still pretty yucky, just as they were 4 1/2 years ago. D liked everything about the train (especially riding in the upper bunk playing with her toys) but she didn't much like the bathroom! She slept on the bottom bunk and I slept on the top bunk above hubby. She slept all night like a trooper, of course Mommy had to get down off the top bunk twice to go potty in the stinky bathroom! Also, we must have had some heavy duty smokers in our train car because when I was trying to go to sleep the smoke was so heavy I just couldn't breathe! I am very sensitive to cig smoke. So, I improvised and put my bra cup over my nose and the strap around my head and made me a little mask! It worked :o). Off I went to sleep!

Monday, March 6 -

We came into the region about 9 a.m. We were surprised to see that the roads here were not cleared nearly as well as Moscow! The main streets are fairly well cleared, but the side streets not at all! When we turned into the side street to our hotel we got stuck and ended up having to get out and push the car! Then we ended up just parking and having to walk up to the hotel and dragging our luggage behind us in the snow.

We had only one hour to freshen up and meet back in the lobby for our MOE appointment (ministry of education - where we get the official referral of our daughter!). We hit the hotel room like a tornado trying to get ready. I just washed up and curled my hair a bit and got into fresh clothes. Hubby took a shower and the works - Men! I also had to spiff D up since she would be going into the meeting with us.

At 10:30 we met in the lobby to go to the MOE office for our appointment. We waiting in the hallway and piled our coats, gloves, hats etc. on the chairs out there. We went into a very tiny office & hubby and I sat in two chairs facing the MOE representative and D sat on hubby's lap. Our translator/coordinator and region coordinator were in the tiny office as well. The MOE Rep stated that she had received our request to adopt and it had been approved. Then she officially presented us the referral of baby V and showed us her picture on the computer screen. Then we were finished.

We left the office and bundled back up in our snow gear while our two coordinators stayed inside a bit longer getting some paperwork. Next we were off to the Dom Rebyonka - baby house! As we neared the orphanage, the car got stuck again! So we walked a few blocks to get there. In that deep snow, a few block's walk is quite an effort for us Texas folks!

We entered the baby house and were immediately met by the Director, the Doctor and the Social Worker. We walked into a play room and the Doctor began going over baby V's medical history and diagnoses. We asked a couple of questions and then the Social Worker began her explanation of baby V's social history. Things were going so fast! We did end up seeing a copy of the birth mother's passport though - we've never seen a pic of D's bm. Before we knew it - in walks a lady carrying baby V!!!!!! We recognized her right away - hubby took her first and then handed her to me. We were still in a little shock because one minute we're taking in all this important info and then wah-lah she was there! D was so excited to meet her baby sister, it was so sweet.

More to come!

Till later . . .
More of the story - Trip One / part two
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
At the Hotel Mir, we unloaded and freshened up a bit and then we headed to Red Square. It was snowing like crazy & windy. People were celebrating the holiday called Maslanitsa - it is the pancake holiday and there was a festival set up for it behind St. Basil's cathedral.

It was tough trudging through all that snow and across the brick pavement. We took some pictures but not too many because it was snowing so hard my cameras were getting very wet and I didn't want them to be ruined. But we had to get the mandatory St. Basil's shot with D. The last time she was there, she was 11 months old and it was covered up with refurbishing nets. We took a quickie tour of St. Basils. It was so cold inside the building that we could blow smoke!

D could have cared less that she was standing right in front of the famous structure, all she was interested in was the snow and making a snow ball and a snow angel!

After St. Basils we walked to the park area with the monument to the unknown soldier and saw the guards standing in the freezing cold. Next we walked over to the underground mall and went to the internet cafe. D needed to go potty, so we paid the 12 rubles each for she and I to use the facilities. This was our first experience with coming out of all the coats, mittens, scarves, hats just to put them right back on! We sent our e-mails and then the overwhelming tiredness really crashed in. We had been up and at 'em for over 24 hours at this point.

We decided we would just get something to eat back at the hotel and head to bed. We ordered a bowl of soup each from room service. While we were waiting for it to be delivered, I remembered that this was the hotel we stayed at on our last visit to Moscow and it didn't have any electrical plugs we could use! It has the type of outlets that were in America in the 60's where both prongs are the same size. There was only one Russian style plug in the whole room and the TV was in it and it was too deep and my converter/adapter thing was too shallow. So now I realize I am not going to be able to cook D's oatymeal or warm her milk (yes, she's a picky eater). I was near tears, I couldn't feed my child or wash my hair!! I cried to hubby, "let's just go to the Marriott!" We decided we'd ask our translator, Nadia, to take us the next day to go buy a hair dryer with a Russian style plug. We did manage to get D's oatymeal made by getting a pot of boiling water from the floor attendant. I just fluffed my hair as best I could and it was a good thing I needed to wear my hat most of the next day anyhow.

We met Nadia at 11 a.m. and went to Detsky Mir. This was D's big dream to see the huge toy store we had seen and heard about on the internet. It is set up in different sections, one for books, another section for music and movies, one section for clothing and baby supplies/furniture etc. and another huge area with toys. There is an old carousel in the middle of the toy part, but sadly it doesn't work. D got a stuffed lion she named Laney and another My Little Pony, number 12 for her herd. After our little toy shopping expedition, we trudged back through the snow to Igor's van and we drove to McDonald's. It was extremely crowded. We learned that lunch time in Moscow is 1 p.m. instead of our usual 12 p.m. So we were right in the thick of it. We finally found a place for all of us to sit and a lady came to our table with a little tablet with pictures of the items in English. We made our choices and she checked them off on the pad. Then hubby went and stood in line to order with this little slip. The hamburger tasted pretty much the same it does at home but was much bigger. The fries tasted exactly the same as they do at home. The Happy Meal was mostly in English and had a Kim Possible toy.

After McDonald's we drove to change some dollars to rubles. Then we drove and drove and finally ended up at a little store that was tiny but had all sorts of items for sale. They had hardware, housewares, school supplies, gardening supplies. Sort of a tiny Russian Wal-Mart :o)

While we were looking at the hair dryers, we noticed some power strip type things with four outlets and a long pronged regular Russian plug. We decided to buy that instead of the hairdryer because we could run all our electrical stuff on it. It only cost 65 rubles too! That's equivalent to about $2.60! Much cheaper than a new blow dryer and much, MUCH cheaper than staying at the Moscow Marriott!

After our little shopping adventure we stopped by and bought tickets for the circus the next night. They cost $25 each but we were to sit only 4 rows from the center ring!

We went back to the hotel and rested a bit, took a shower and I finally got to wash my hair - it was wonderful!

My fingers are about to fall off, so I'll post more in a bit!

Till later . . .
Our family of 3 in Moscow

Daddy, Mommy and D in front of St. Basil's.

Mommy and D playing in the snow in Red Square!

March 2, 2006
A year ago today. . .
*A year ago today, May 2, 2005, we began the process of the adoption of our second daughter from Russia. Overall, it really has flown past. True, there have been periods of intense waiting and waiting but the most intense waiting is RIGHT NOW!
*We have been home from our first trip for 7 weeks and 3 days. That is nearly 2 months people! My baby V is growing and changing and she's half a world away. When you're are measuring the life of a child in months - 7 weeks and 3 days is a very long time. I was reading Caroline's blog this morning about her new baby boy rocking himself to sleep and it just breaks my heart knowing that baby V is rocking herself when I could be rocking her instead. When we were visiting her, she had a couple of periods of rocking back and forth when it seemed we were overwhelming her with dozens of toys, two english speaking adults and and a five year old in her face. Reading others' blogs (and the comments of others) is really helping me - it's therapeutic . I'm so glad Lauri commented that Olivia had periods of rocking. Our older daughter, D, did not rock at all, so it is going to be a new experience for me to deal with. I think Caroline did the absolute right thing and anytime baby V rocks herself - once she is ours, I plan to pick her up and do the rocking for her. My arms ache to rock her now.
*Of course yesterday and today would have to be Russian holidays with no chance of getting a court date. Then again next Monday and Tuesday are holidays too.
*I feel a little blue today. I have to keep reminding myself that we really actually went to Russia 8 weeks ago and met this precious little baby girl. I have her pictures all around the house just to remind myself that she is real. How much will she have changed in 7 weeks 3 days and counting??
*Sunday night at church, my eyes started wandering to different verses than what the preacher was talking about. I ended up reading this verse and the commentary in the margin and it fit us to a T:
Isaiah 30:18
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
he rises to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice,
Blessed are all who wait for him!
What does it mean to wait for the Lord? It means to trust him
when a situation looks hopeless - even when it seems he is gone.
We're waiting, Lord! Sometimes not so patiently and sometimes it does feel like you're gone, but still we wait - trusting you.
Till later . . .
First Trip Pictures - part one
Monday, May 01, 2006
1. D bundled up in her pink snow gear riding in the van through the streets of Moscow.
2. First View of Moscow as we were coming in for a landing.
First Trip - part one
We had 11 days notice before we had to leave for our first trip. This was actually more than we ever had with our first adoption. With our first adoption we had 8 days notice before the first trip and 6 days notice before the second trip!

However, within this 11 days notice, we had to get new medicals done with the new 8 doctor form. We hardly had time to even think about the reason we were going crazy trying to get ready for this trip in the first place - a child was waiting!! It was very hectic and very stressful. We didn't even pack the first item until about 36 hours before we left the house!! I usually begin packing the minute I learn we are scheduled to travel!!

We made the 3 hour drive to Dallas the night before our 11 a.m. flight on March 1 (two months ago today) to Atlanta so we would be sure and be fresh and ready to go! I just love the feeling when you are finally strapped into the airplane and no matter what, you're on your way! That is the moment I can finally exhale and get into the mind frame of what the trip is all about.

We flew to Atlanta and had about an 1 1/2 hour layover there before getting on the Delta plane heading for Moscow. Let me just interject here, that the only things really good about the Delta flight was that it was direct to Moscow and we didn't crash. It was cram-packed, community movie screens on the ceiling, uncomfy seats & not so great food. As you can see, I was spoiled by Lufthansa on our first adoption trips. But, it was important to hubby that we make the direct flight from US soil to Russian soil since we were traveling with D. I'm really, really, really trying to talk him into going Lufthansa this next trip. I doubt I'll win, though and we'll be on that Delta flight again. Oh well, it's just 15 hours out of my life - I will survive.

Ok, I digressed a bit, didn't I?!?

We arrived in Moscow at 10:45 a.m. on Thursday, March 2 to lots and lots of snow. We were really impressed though at how well the roads were cleared and people were driving as if the snow was not even there! In East Texas if it snows a smidgen of an inch the world shuts down! D was mesmerized by the snow and looked so precious all bundled in her pink snow attire!

We were taken to the Mir hotel. Wait - Let me first tell you that we ended up spending way to much time in Moscow. We had originally planned to arrive in Moscow Saturday afternoon, but between a little miscommunication with an agency rep. (our usualy guy was out of town) and in order to get the direct Delta flight........

Ok, we were taken to the Mir hotel and got checked in. We were given a suite, I guess since we had our daughter with us they felt we needed a suite? I don't know - she slept between us every night in the pushed together twin beds so we really could have used a much smaller space. But we were just going with the flow.

~~ Pause for a coloring break - Mommy has been on the computer for wayyyy too long this morning and D is really needing some Mommy time :o) ~~
Till later . . .

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