10 October 2009


(I was going to call this "mustard" because I know I've explained "ketchup" in the second-grade-sense earlier...but didn't want to confuse new readers. Those of you in the know, please change the title in your heads.)

Okay, sports fans. We didn't have internet access while we were in the US. Here are loads of pix...fewer than usual words.

We left Moscow successfully. I didn't even have to show an adoption decree. I think it's because I was saying to Lexi (who was looking at herself in the mirror behind us) "What a beautiful girl!" and the girl at the desk, thought I was talking about HER. She gave Lexi a little smile and wave and handed me our passports.

These may look like darling pictures of my darling daughter...but really what they are is what she looks like just before the crazies set in. She did a great job on the flight...but it was nine hours long. She could handle about six (and I was amazed at how well she did that).

We arrived at JFK (the guy at the counter was nice. The people in the little room WERE NOT. They barked at us, were uninformed, and generally tried to make everyone's time there as unpleasant as possible. Really. And they enjoyed it. Another adopting family and I waited an hour while our papers sat untouched.

But, we made it! Think we look a little tired? Yeah.

We didn't even try to get on US time. So, we went to sleep between 3:30-6:00 p.m. every day and were up between 2-3 a.m. What can you do in a hotel room in the wee hours to entertain yourself if you're six?

You can copy the artwork on the wall (This is by far the best drawing she's ever done.)...

or spell your name with cookies and a little help.

When the sun comes up you can run the hill in the parking lot (with great attachment narration by Mama)...

or you can play with clay...

...or try to convince Mama you're not tired and in need of a nap at 7 a.m.

We spent a day getting her US passport--driving in to Manhattan for our appointment. There were a few moments of held breath when they wanted a COC (note: The stamp in your adopted child's passport next to their visa is proof of citizenship and all that is needed to get a US passport.) and a notarized translation of the birth certificate and adoption certificate (the embassy said they'd given us all we needed--they'd also given us an old passport application copied front and back which wasn't valid). They found a Russian speaker and verified that the translation was correct and we were good to go. That was good because the crazies were setting in. But, even the crazies have their purpose. It encouraged the agent to Fed Ex the passport to us instead of having us come to the city again.

The next day was very exciting.


Lexi got new glasses!

And, two complete strangers complimented me on her adorable haircut. ;> I can't imagine anyone looking at this little pixie-face and thinking she was anything other than a girlie-girl.

After a long morning of trying to be good, the little people needed to run off some steam. We went to the Bronx Zoo--which is essentially a huge park that happens to have some animals in it. I was surprised at how few people we saw. It was like we owned the zoo! (I was very disappointed in the Moscow Zoo--and the St. P Zoo has such a poor reputation that I've never been there. So, I was looking forward to seeing this zoo.)

When we saw a new animal (this was a snake) Lexi would say, "Hi (animal)! I have new glasses! Look how beautiful!" Talk about a full-heart moment for Mama. Lexi was just giddy with delight!

She wouldn't even take them off to nap.

Her passport finally arrived!

The nice thing (very, very NICE thing, AM) about Ann Marie's zoo membership was not having any pressure to "do the zoo". We popped over again when we needed a little space to run. As you can see, we spent more time climbing fences, throwing rocks and looking through sewer grates than looking at animals on this trip. And they loved it. By this day, we'd convinced Lexi that Alexander was "little" and she was being more tolerant (umm...she was pretty mean earlier in the week) and playing big sister. She even asked him, very gently and sisterly, (because we both say often "Stay with Mama." whenever we go out) where his mama was when he wasn't holding her hand.

(Ann Marie will just tell me to shut up if I try to tell you how graciously she hosted us--and drove us ev-ry-where--so I won't. I won't tell you how incredibly grateful we are for all her help. 'Cause I don't want to be told to shut up.)

After a whirlwind trip, we headed back to Russia. This was a night flight, and it was great! She slept much of the way home. Thanks again, Espe, for your supreme generosity! We are looking forward to seeing you on our next trip to the US. Here Lexi's showing you her beautiful sweater and reading a story from her passport. Who knew they now came with fairy tales inside?

We made our airport change with time to spare. She was a trouper on both flights.

We came home to find this cheerful sign, lamps burning and overheads off (my lighting preference always) and the 'fridge stocked. Kat, you are a lifesaver! Thank you for your amazing, thoughtful welcome home.

Lexi's had a rough time with jet lag. She'd had a little tummy trouble in the US, but this was different. She was sick (please read that euphemism as it is intended) much of yesterday. Here, "my cat!" is doing her duty and is curled up nearby. The blue bowl is just out of camera. It only got more pitiful from here. I did a lot of laundry yesterday. A. lot.

Today she's bright and chipper and back to her sunny self. We went to Palace Square this morning, but it wasn't as satisfactory for running as the parking lot hill.

Here's an obligatory shot in front of the Hermitage. (Where else do you go on your first walk in St. Petersburg?)

And here's what Lexi looks like most of the time. She's saying "Oh, how beautiful!" This is how she describes everything from bouquets of flowers to road construction in Yonkers. Gotta love that outlook!

(No, she's not wearing her glasses here. The doctor said to never make her wear them. So, I ask but if she says no we don't bother. I think she slept on them funny on the airplane and they need to be adjusted. I guess that means I need to adjust them...)


votemom said...


Lauri said...

Love it... welcome home Lexi

Jennifer L. said...

So glad all the paperwork is done and that you are back at home, but I have to know, did a part of you want to skip that plane ride back across the ocean and just stay in the U.S.?

Annie said...

What a wonderful treat for me on a dreadful day of work and work and work.

You are the most patient, loving mama (no surprise, there!)

Perhaps my favorite photo is the reading of the passport story.

Lexi is ahead of my four who do not have US passports. Partly money, partly my wish to just get a Russian passport myself and call it good.

Motherhood does make for more photo-laden blogs, doesn't it?

Susan said...

Sooo glad Lexi was a good flygirl....I won't say much about my flight home w. the Monkey largely because I've repressed it.

These pictures are amazing. Having Lexi in your arms and paperwork in your files makes this a done deal for you....seeing beautiful, bespectacled Lexi with the Czar makes this a done deal to me!

As the real fun begins...!!

Room to Grow said...

AMAZING! I loved reading every sentence and seeing every picture!

boltupright said...

Awesome, all of it!! (Well, not the mean people in the little room. Shame on them.)

She is beyond adorable in those glasses...

glad you are both home safe & sound!

Carrie said...

The first thing that stands out to me: Lexi looks like a different child. The emaciated, frightened look is gone. And in the fairy tale passport photo, do I see a hint of grass stain on her left knee? If so, that's how it should be.

The photos are brilliant. As is Lexi, and you, and her dimples!

How is the food situation? I remember you saying that orange juice didn't sit well on one of your visits. Is it difficult to find foods she can eat/tolerate?

beckyww said...

Beautiful - you, her, St. Pete. All of it. Beautiful.

We did have to surrender of C of C at the Post Office when we got Julia's passport, too. Irritated me. Website did not list that as a requirement.

She is so stinking cute!!!

Lea said...

Yay!! You made it!! Congratulations!!

Excellent post. She is a beautiful girl and I love her new glasses. She is adorable. I will be looking forward to reading about your fun adventures together and all of the cute things she has to say.

annmarie said...

Hey Kate....shut up.


Loving that pic of Exhausted Lexi with the cat curled up. Looks like home to me :)

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous pix of a gorgeous little girl!! It seems like things are settling in for her. The fairy tale/passport reading is just a classic little girl imagination report. One to keep forever!

Anonymous said...

What a precious child!! I couldn't be happier for you!!!

kristin said...

Love the pink coat and new glasses! Welcome home!

jen.weber said...

Thanks for the update and all the pictures. She is darling in the glasses. And the haircut is very cute. It looks styled instead of chopped off. Praise God for this precious child. Love, Nif

Lindy said...

I have to agree that Lexi looks like a different girl. I love her new glasses, her big brown eyes, her sweet dimples, her pixie haircut, her darling ears, her new brown boots (guess she doesn't feel they're too big?) and her pretty pink coat. She is a beautiful girl (even when she is sick) and you are such a loving mother. Thank you for sharing your touching story.

Cindy said...

This is an awesome post. I love Lexi's glasses. She is absolutely beautiful!!!

Rachael said...

Glad you are home safe and sound, at last!

P.S. I love her little coats. Very chic.

Essie the Accidental Mommy said...

Wonderful! I am so happy to hear you are home and safe. Other people are right, she looks different.
And nothing promotes bonding quite like being sick!

Debbie said...

echoing everything that's posted - she looks so different and beautiful! Sorry for the sickies and the bad immigration people in NYC... you probably don't want to hear it took us like 5-minutes in Chicago, eh? SOOO happy for you, Kate and Lexi!!

Heidi said...

It is amazing to me, how after finally being home, a child can look so much healthier and more beautiful than before! I guess that's what true love does.
She is gorgeous, hair cut and all! Love the glasses, love the smiles, love the excitement!
Blessings to you both (and the cat!).

Kathy Friend said...

LOVE the pics - she is beautiful (and so is her mama!)

Julie H said...

Love the pictures and stories. So glad you are HOME.

Tammy said...

Kate, I just eat up every word you write because I am so, so happy and excited for you both. It has been said by everyone else but Lexi most definitely looks like a new girl. There is a light in her eyes now and her smile is so genuine. It must have felt so good to be home. You have to tell us what she thinks of her new home and her new city. What did she think of the US? Details, details, details LOL! You don't need to sleep, just tell us everything HAHA!

Seriously, welcome home. Now real life can finally begin.

Suz said...

Oh Kate, it's so good to read all about your trip to the US and back. It sounds like all in all Lexi did really well. I'm sure you're both simply exhausted, though!

She looks so precious in her new glasses!

I just love seeing her in that Czarina shirt. Daria had that shirt too and I just loved it!

Lindy said...

Back with a few other comments on your lovely czarina.

She seems to be very attached to her dear bear. He even has his own chair at the clayfest.

So glad to see her in dark pink. She is a winter, so looks great in that color.

I think she has some artistic talent. The drawing is seriously good!

I am impressed that she and the cat have bonded so quickly.

The glasses look great on her. Did she wear glasses in the children's home? Are you calling her Lexi yet? What does she think? Will you have some time off with her before you have to go back to school? Oh, so many questions!

Lindsay said...

Wow, she is looking so much ... more. Like before she was in black and white and now she is in colour.

Love her with the glasses on btw - Lexi is stylin'

Glad you managed your round trip safe and sound and now can just focus on being family together.

As always - best of wishes to you both.

Kay B said...

Agreeing with everyone's comments - she is coming out of her shell and looking like a different little girl. So happy!
Love the glasses! Too cute!

Suzanne said...

Yeah yeah yeah for a post. Yeah for being done. Yeah for such a darling girl. Yeah for so much. So happy for you BOTH.

Anonymous said...

I hate to just repeat everyone else - but she looks like a different little girl! Did you get her hair cut in the US? She is drop-dead gorgeous! She always was adorable, but the new pictures are unbelievable. So jealous of being in St. Pete - what a great city. How I love those pics in that pink coat. It is just like a movie. It' like a real fairytale - but you'd have to leave out the bucket and laundry! :)

Conethia and Jim Bob said...

She does look wonderful! Her glasses are precious! It's amazing what a few days of love can do.

The Holmes Crew said...

The last pictures speaks volumes Kate....it's a whole new world!


How wonderful to see you talking like a "Mama!"
I am thrilled for you two!
She looks wonderful,love the pink coat!!

Calico Sky said...

Absolutely wonderful!! So happy for you! Lexi really suits glasses!!