Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Quick Riddle For Ya

What do you get when you combine scalding hot tea, two huge shortbread cookies and a 16 month old baby who doesn't feel well?

Give up?.....That's right an explosion in the middle of the nursery when we were playing with him.

You can add, nasty poopy diapers to the list of smells we've experience in Russia.

We were picked up at 8:30 this morning by Natasha and our driver and driven to the orphanage. Before we got there, we had to stop and buy him diapers. (It's customary for adoptive parents to buy them for the baby before going home)

We got there earlier today because we asked to be able to spend some time with him at a different time then his usual nap time.

They brought our little man to us and we went to the play room to hang out. We also requested that a couple of his caretakers hang out with us for a little while to see him truly interact in his "environment."

They also took us up to his room and let him play with his best friend and some of his other toys. (This is the room where all his pictures that we had emailed to us were taken in)

He really liked this book that played music. In fact, he would dance to the different songs. It's really cute and of course we have video of it. He's going to like music city I think. It will only be a matter of time that he's doing the two-step at the Wildhorse.

Anyways, we took him back to the play room we've been hanging out with him in and they let us be with him alone. A short time later, a nurse walked in with two huge shortbread cookies and a glass of the hot tea.

She then told us this.... "sdkjslfjsdkl....shidoshodifhsiodf.....shdioshfiosdhfiosh...shidohsfdihs...iondfnso\rhhbfh. Da?"

I'm pretty sure she was giving us instructions on how to feed him but for all we know, she could've been giving them to us as a little snack because she thought we might've been hungry. Maybe that's why he had the explosion...we weren't supposed to be feeding him. I guess a hint would've been Brandy having to cram them in his mouth....just kidding.

Anyways, we fed him the cookies and tea, which was a lot of fun. He's a great eater but wanted to hold a piece of cookie in each hand while we fed him.

But during the whole time we spent with him this morning, we could tell he seemed a little lathargic and we could tell he had something in his chest.

Our thoughts were answered pretty quickly when within a minute of each other, he let out a huge cough to clear his lungs and then had the "explosion" we mentioned earlier. And did we mention the smell?

The poor little man....and the poor big daddy and mommy. Wow that smelled bad. Did we mention that?

Anyways, I went to go find a caretaker to get us a diaper while Brandy stayed in the room with him. When I came back, she was cleaning him with paper towels because he had another episode while I was gone. We are jumping into this thing feet (or nose) first.

The caretaker came and took him to change him and just then, Natasha came and said are you ready to go?

But we did get some good news, we get to go back again this afternoon and spend another hour and a half with him. So we haven't said our goodbyes yet.

We're back at the hotel typing in the business center, looking out the window to a huge snowstorm. It's pretty but we just hope we're not going to get stuck here when our plane is supposed to leave tomorrow morning.

Oh well...we'll figure it out. We're almost parents now.

We're not sure if we will blog more tonight but we definitely will when we get to Moscow tomorrow.

Please keep sending us messages.

Coby and Brandy

P.S. Mom we are checking emails too.

Have you ever felt like you were...

The butt of a joke and everyone is in on it but you. Standby for the rest of that story....

Brandy and I arm wrestled for who would get to blog and naturally, I won, so I get to occupy the keyboard for this post.

My sister-in-law Lucy always says I'm a walking movie quote so I'm not going to disappoint in this blog.

You know that scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where Gus is introducing the family to Ian Miller's parents and he says, "this is my brother Nick and these are his kids, Nick, Nick, Nick, Nicko, Nicki"?....

Well we come out of the hotel this morning and meet up with Natasha who quickly tells us her name is actually Natalia but prefers to be called Natasha. Thinking nothing of it, we get in the car, that seats 6, but has 7 in it, and get introduced to everyone, and it goes something like this...."this is Brandy and Coby. Brandy and Coby, this is Natalia, Natalia Natalia, and of course I'm Natasha."

So we make the 25 minute drive to the orphanage with Brandy essentially sitting on my lap because Natalia #2 is crammed in next to her and all the way (here comes the part about being the butt of a joke) Natalia, Natalia and Natashia having a deep, and when I say deep, I mean LOUD, conversation that goes something like, "sdlkfjsadofsa0fudosaiuf (laughter really LOUD), dfasdfasdlkfjaklsdfjklsa (laughter really LOUD), odfjwaiodfusaiopdufio (laughter really LOUD)."

All I could really think they were talking about was Brandy's scarf that was wrapped around her shoulders.

So we show up again to the Baby Home to see our little guy for the 2nd day and we get out of the car really annoyed and really deaf. And because it was raining the day before, we were required to put the shower caps on our shoes again which was great for everyone who had a size 10 shoe and under. I however was having a few issues because of my size 14 shoes. I immediately ripped two of them trying to get them on and start looking around for some crazy glue because I figure I was going to have to take two of them and glue them together. And to make matter worse, Natalia, Natalia, Natalia and Brandy are gone because they had no problem getting the on. Finally I was able carefully get them on (don't worry, we have pictures of this) and we were on our way.

We went into Ludmila's (the orphanage director) office and within 5 minutes, our little man was brought in. He definitely looked like they just woke him up because he wasn't really sure where he was but took about 30 seconds before he gave us the look of, "hey, you guys look familiar. You were the ones that brought me that stupid orange stuffed animal thing from the grocery store, that smelled like the airplane you rode in on (see blog below if you don't get it) and those really cool cars. "

Our man went straight to me and I picked him up. The ladies in the orphanage immediately took us to the same room we were in yesterday and left us alone.

Brandy pulled out the Noah's ark blanket her mom made for him and another stuffed animal and more cars and put them on the floor.

Well, he went straight for the blanket, and it was the cutest thing...he grabbed it and started bunching it in a ball grabbing all the corners. When he had it the way he liked it, he put his head down on it and fell asleep. We are starting to get the feeling we are boring him.

It was really cute but at the same time, we only got an hour and a half with him and wanted to spend more time bonding and playing with him. From 10-12 is his usual naptime so we just happen to be screwing that up for him.

So we let him sleep for about 15 minutes and then decided to wake him up. He woke up and wasn't cranky at all. He immediately started smiling when we were tickling him and playing with the toys with him.

Brandy then decide to stand him up and walk him around the room. She would walk him in a big circle around the outside of it and then when they got within 10 feet of me, she would let him go an I would have my arms out. He would then run to me and put his arms out as if to say, catch me. It was really sweat. He would hug me as soon as he got to me.

We then would sit on opposite ends of the room and hold out our arms. He just went back and forth to each of us with his arms out and was such a cuddle bug when he would get to us always laughing and smiling.

So our time was up and we said goodbye until tomorrow, but before we did, I made the mistake of pulling out my cell phone and showing it to him. He grabbed it and kept flipping it around and would not let go. (I'm pretty sure, even though he's not blood, he's definitely a product of me)

The doctor finally came in at Noon and said our time was up. We said goodbye, took my phone back (which he wasn't thrilled about) and gave him his blanket to sleep with.

We're not sure how we're going to be able to say goodbye tomorrow when it will be the last time we get to see him until we come back.

O.K.....wipe your tears away.

After leaving the orphanage, it was more of the Natalia, Natalia and Natalia hour. This time I think I picked up on them making fun of me putting the shower caps on my shoes but that's neither hear nor there.

So...we're signing off now. We'll be back with you tomorrow. Thanks for all your responses. Keep them coming. We love reading helps us feel like we have some communication from this huge isolated island we feel like we're on.

Coby and Brandy

P.S. Last night we were having dinner in the hotel restaurant and we met a couple from Idaho who were adopting a son and were picking him up in the morning. It was nice to speak English to someone else again. We saw little Roman this morning as we were leaving. He is cute but cried as soon as I said hi to him. He must not like Nashvillians :-)

P.S.S. Sarah, how are Pebbles, Trot, Bam Bam and Ashland Kitty? Brandy says to give them all extra kisses and hugs.

P.S.S.S. Dana, I saw the score of the game and I'm really glad I didn't watch it. But how the hell could we fall to #2 without a loss?!!!

P.S.S.S.S. Holly, now I know what you were smelling that you thought was pork loins.

Prieviet (Whatever) from Novokutzhnik (I think)

Captain's Log - 10:37pm (Sunday), which is 9:37pm, Saturday in Nashville, 7:37pm, Saturday in California, and 8:37pm, for those of you logging on in Provo, Utah, not that we know anyone in Provo but we figured we were on a roll.

Brandy finally let me steal the keyboard for one blog so I figured I'd do the first one from Russia.

Has anyone seen the Seinfeld where they did the entire show backwards, starting at the end and working their way back to the beginning? Well, we're going to try that just for a second...

42 hours of travel later, we checked into our hotel. Goodnight everyone....just kidding.

So we left Nashville at 10:35am on Friday for a two and a half hour flight to New York. That flight was great and we actually flew over Atlantic City on approach and saw a ton of beautiful houses. We both looked at each other and said, move number 18? :-) It did have a beautiful golf course that I was trying to figure out a way to sneak in a quick round before the flight to Moscow.

That didn't we had a two hour layover in New York and then it was on to Moscow. The flight, which was 9 and a half hours was pretty good. No turbulence and the flight over the ocean went very quickly for us. And Wes, you were right, we did fly over Greenland to get ther.

I did get stuck behind a guy that was a mix between John Lennon and Buckwheat. His hair was very large and blocked the entire movie screen. I had to sit in Brandy's lap to be able to watch it. I mean how am I supposed to watch "Spiderman 3" and "Meet the Robinsons" in these conditions?!! Are you kidding me?!!! Out of all the movie choices there are, these are the two we get stuck with?! But I digress.

So we land in Moscow and spend about 20 minutes in customs, because Brandy picked the wrong line....ouch, don't hit me. O.k. I picked the wrong line and got the slowest passport checker in Moscow. And to slow it down even more, because we don't "spreakin da Russian" (Madagascar anyone?), we didn't know to fill out the customs form. So after losing a game of rock paper scissors of who would go first through the line, I lost and Brandy went first. The woman was nice enough to fill out the form for her, but when it came my turn, I think she was mad at her boyfriend or husband or guy she met at the bar last night, because she throws the form at me and makes me fill it out myself. It took me about three minutes to even understand where to put everything because, once again, I don't "spreakin da Russian."

So we both make it through customs and thankfully our luggage all showed up. Let the fun begin.

We were given instructions before we left by CHI of what to do next. So I pull them out after getting our luggage and read them before carrying on. They said, go through the double doors,
"push through the taxi drivers" and wait for Natalia, our rep on the ground in Moscow. No big deal right?

It wasn't really but when they say "push through the taxi drivers", they aren't kidding. They want to take your luggage worse than a homeless guy after a $20 bill. We made it through and thus the waiting begins. Natalia wasn't there yet because, as we soon discovered, the traffic in Moscow is worse than L.A. to Santa Monica in Rush hour. (Dean gets it) Or Nashville to Murfreesboro at 5pm :-) (Times 5,000!!!!)

Natalia shows up after we've waited about an hour and a half and she is very nice. She also tells us that there is another family showing up from Atlanta. Bill and Tara arrive and after introducing ourselves, we discover they just flew from Atlanta, they're actually from Nashville. They were on the plane behind us and were following us across the ocean 10 minutes behind. Pretty funny.

So we take our luggage and meet our driver, Vitaly, and load into the van. Moscow is very big and developed but is very industrial. We also find out, it's the most expensive city to live in, in the world.

Natalia informs us we would be catching a flight later Saturday night to Novakutzhnik (whatever) at 10:20pm, while Bill and Tara would be staying the night in Moscow and going to their region on Sunday afternoon.

We opted not to check into a hotel for the 7 hours we had to kill and just stored our bags in Bill and Tara's room. It's only 7 hours right!?!?!

We walked around the area of the hotel, which is in the heart of Moscow, just down from a huge park with a large carousel and a long walkway with benches, pefect for people watching, and listening to Brandy's commentary on their interesting choice of outfits. We did think we saw, Shirley Maclain in Steel Magnolias, not from In Her Shoes.

Bill and Tara and Brandy and I did find a Mexican (yes Mexican) restaurant to have lunch in. Thank God they had pictures on the menus so we could order a Chicken burrito and a chicken quesadilla, which were both pretty good. But no chips and salsa was ever!!!

It's now 4pm and we have 4 hours to kill before being picked back up by Vitaly and taken to a different airport in the Southern (y'all) region of Moscow. What are we going to do?

We found a couple of couches in the lobby of the hotel, which by the way is very nice. It's a Holiday Inn but it very ritzy. We will be staying there on the way back.

I somehow fell asleep on the couch (maybe because I had two hours of sleep) and woke up to find my computer and Brandy's camera sitting next to me on the couch but no Brandy. I'm not even sure where I was but it definitely wasn't where my dream I just had said I was.

Anyways, Brandy comes back about 15 minutes later and says, "I found another couple from Birmingham sitting in the business center. Come meet them."

Josh and Lindsay are kind of in the same situation as us....they had time to kill before being picked up to go to their region, Vlad.

So we get talking to them and the next thing I know, Brandy is waking me up and Josh and Lindsay are gone. I fell asleep in the middle of talking to them and they were gone. Sorry guys, no offense.

Fast forward's 8:00pm, we're both laying on "our couches" in the lobby when Vitaly shows up, right on time. Brandy, who had fallen asleep, wipes the drool from her mouth and we get in the car, and within 10 minutes are back asleep again.

Now here's where the real fun begins...we get to this much smaller airport, about the size of the one in Long Beach, in 1985, at 9pm for a 10:20 flight. Ha!

Vitaly takes us in and looks at the screen, which IS in Russian, and says, "uh oh, your flight is delayed 3 hours. "

So when we were supposed to be checking in for a 10:20 flight at 9, we were now told to check in at Midnight for a 2pm flight. Great!!! Five hours in an airport, where we QUICKLY find out, we're the only people in the whole place (trust me, Brandy asked everyone), who spreakin da English.

So after taking turns taking naps, so that we could each check the screen every 30 minutes, I took the chance to take a real estate class that I needed to take, and Brandy caught up on her BSF and homletics.

In one of the "every 30 minutes" checks, I now discover our flight is delayed another hour, to 3:10 AM...checking in at 1:10 AM.

We go down to check in and notice many people have saran wrapped their entire luggage. Great, were we supposed to do this? And because nobody "spreakins da English", we've become concerned if this is required.

We decide not to and at 2:30AM finally get on the shuttle which drives 10 minutes to take us to our plane.

Next adventure....the plane was pretty decent sized, like a Southwest plane, but they've not taken the liberty to think about anybody over 5 foot 8.

Let me back up a second...we take one step on the plane, and you know that smell you get when you walk into an Indian or Thai restaurant? You know the food's good but you kinda want to throw up from it? Try that smell on an airplane at 3 in the morning, for four hours. Wow!

Brandy was trying to convince me it was the meal we were going to get, I told her to look around and see if she still thought that. I had to bury my nose inside a shirt that had been worn for 2 straight days with no shower, that could probably find it's own way to Russia, to get some "relief" form the overbearing stench.

Then it was time to sit down in my seat to quickly find out, I was either going to have to stand throughout the flight in the captain's closet, or take a hacksaw to my legs, right below the knees. So we asked a flight attendant, who you guessed it, doesn't spreakin da English, if we could move to the front bulkhead row by pointing and gesturing to my lower legs. She walks up there and throws all the flight attendants stuff to another row so we could move, which was awesome because there is now way in hell I would've made four hours like that.

Fast forward again...the flight was great and we land at, adding another 4 hours for the time change, at 11 am, pushing the chickens and goats off the runway as we land. We're not in Kansas anymore Toto. Boy, when Neil gets older and starts talking back to us, I'm going to remind him of "our labor" to having him. But it's all worth it.

The plane is coming to a stop and the flight attendant is giving instruction (in Russian) overe the P.A. system. When it stops, we are the only ones to stand up. Quick thinking tells us, she probably said, stay seated, it's going to be a few minutes before the shuttles can get through the chickens to come out and pick us up off the plane.

Finally, everyone gets up and works our way to the buses. One last beef about the plane, as I'm getting off, I nail my head on the doorway, because once again, the plane is built for those 5'8" and under and I'm half asleep and don't notice the height of the door.

The weather is crisp and cool but very beautiful. Brandy keeps saying this reminds her of Muldova, for the two of you reading this that may have been there.

We get to the "terminal" and meet our translator, Natasha, who is celebrating her birthday today and has already thanked us for giving her the best gift ever....not having to get up at 4 am to come pick us up, instead being able to sleep in until 10 because of our 6 hour delay in the airport. Happy freaking birthday to you Natasha.

Our luggage, once again, showed up and we were on our way to a 30 minute car ride to the hotel. She did explain to us the saran wrap was just for protection from weather and other suitcases. One other side note, Natasha did say our boy is very cute and sweet and said if he was a little older, she'd date him. That gets us more excited about tomorrow when we get to meet him. She said he has my eyes and a lot of Brandy's features.

The drive is simple and along the way we see little villages where people live in pretty poor environments. We should all be thankful for what we have in the U.S. Natasha also tells us the main industry and source of employment in Novokutzscnek (whatever) is coal mining. She says it's actually a pretty "rich" town because of this.

The town is very developed from what we expected, has a lot of shopping, and the hotel is pretty nice and clean. We get there at 11:30 am, Natasha takes us to our room and within 30 minutes, we have taken a quick shower (that water smelled great, between the combination of body funk and the smell of the water itself) and have fallen asleep, which is noon.

We wake up at 9 pm and realize, oh crap, it's 9pm and we haven't eaten. We call Natasha and ask here where we should go. She says there are two restaurants in the hotel and are both good. We decide on one, thankfully the menu was in both English and Russian, so we were able to order a pretty good chicken dinner with rice plate.

And now, here we are, blogging for the first time at 11:45pm at night, 10:45am Sunday morning Nashvegas time.

We are getting set to go to the room, put together some list of questions for the orphanage doctor about little Neil and then go to bed, because we are being picked up at 9:30am to go and meet him for the first time.

So until tomorow when we can blog again, good night and good luck.

Coby and Brandy

P.S. We have pictures and video to share but can't upload becaus we are using a computer in the business center, not our laptop. So we'll share them when we can.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

We leave in 24 hours!

Well, I want to first say how wonderful everything has been. Coby and I received our VISA's on Monday and finished up our last bit of paperwork and packed yesterday. As I was checking the weather over there, we found out that they are expecting snow Monday-Thursday. So as Coby said, 'that should be fun.' I don't know if he meant that as a good or bad thing?? But it definitely will mean more reliance on our Lord!!

Well, if I can ask all of you for your prayers while we are over there, we will greatly appreciate them! Please pray for our travels and everything that goes on with traveling over seas. Also pray for our health and that we will be energized! (yes, like the energizer bunny...that will will keep going, and going, and going.....) Lastly, for wisdom and clarity about this little one that we are about to meet. One of my BSF ladies told me yesterday in an e-mail that, 'I know God has gone before you and made your path clear.' That is such a comfort and knowing and believing that is an even more comfort! Or days were already planed even before time. Psalm 139 says it best and I love this Psalm because it is an encouragement. (my grandfathers Psalm) v.13-16 "For You formed my inward parts: You covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest part of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written. The days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them."

Well, we are very excited about this trip and all the adventures that we will encounter. We would love to hear from you all while we are there, so write on our blog and I guarantee it, we will need it!

Praise be to God from whom all blessings come!!!!!!
Talk to you from Moscow! Dasvidaniya!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

We leave in 8 days!!!

Well, here we go again! We leave one week from tomorrow. We are running around and trying to get everything in order. I came down with something on Monday morning that kept me in bed the last 2 days. I think it was just a really bad cold that drained me. And during my yuckyness, I was studying to take my real estate exam today! I did better then I expected! My Bible Study group started up- BSF and I was placed with 17 ladies!!! That is another answer to prayer, so I have been busy with that as well.....oh ya, and we are leaving in a week for Russia!

So sorry for the delay, but here you go:
We leave Friday the 28th for New York. We will leave out of New York on the same day for Moscow. Once we are in Moscow, we are not sure of what will happen. Unfortunately, we might not know until we arrive there what we are doing. What I mean by that is we don't know if we will go straight to Kemerovo or stay overnight in Moscow. So please pray for flexibility!! I do know that we will visit the child on Monday the 1st and Tuesday and Wednesday. We will be able to see him for a few hours each day. Then we will return home Friday, October 5th around 8pm back into Nashville. (We will first stop in NY before heading for Nashville)

So, we have a lot to do in a short time, but know that all time and strength and will comes from the Lord, so we will be looking to Him to provide this these next few days.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


We have travel dates!!!! We will leave on September 28 (Friday) and will return on October 5 (Friday). We are trying to book our flights today, so when we have exact times, we will let you all know. we go!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

No Travel Date Yet

Just wanted to quickly post an update that we have not gotten exact travel dates yet. We have been told by CHI that it will probably be around Oct. 1st. We have not made any arrangements yet, but we are keeping that date in our head....

Our little guy turned 15mo. yesterday! I didn't even realize it until I was telling his age to a friend of mine and I realized that. I was also told by another friend that I am already a mommy and Coby a daddy. Now that is crazy! In a matter of speaking, yes we are! I hope he is being on his best behavior!!! No is kind of cool to think on that....

I'll let you know travel dates as soon as I do!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

WE GOT A REFERRAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well.....the long awaiting day has finally come!!!! We were given a referral for a little boy....and we accepted it!!!!!!!!! He is almost 15 months old and he is ...of course.....the cutest thing ever!!! Coby and I are hoping to find out our travel dates in the next few we will let you know as soon as we know!!

We have been asked by our agency to not post pictures or details of the little guy....but after a few days of prayer and Dr. consultations, we called CHI this morning and said YES!!!! I'm emotional! It has been a few crazy days, but to sit down and actually write to you all that we have been shown our little 'Neil Hollis' is oh so sweet!

I will write more in the days to come. All you mom's out there waiting, it is amazing to get the call. Almost not real. I think Coby and I are in shock. God's blessings DO come at a perfect time! And these children that we are all waiting for, your child will be a blessing and I now I see how God's time is perfect. This child came to us at the best time in this child's life. I guess I have been thinking that he would come to us when our time was right, but now I see that this little one is coming to Coby and I at the best time of his life.

Also, don't stop praying for your little one. I have seen how my prayers and everyone else praying for Neil has been helpful. We have seen how prayer works and have been shown glory and grace from God.. when we read the info on him. We were given his medical report and some pictures to use when consulting a Dr. I can truly sit back and see that God's hand was laid on our little one. He was protected and held in our heavenly fathers hand until he was ready to be placed in our arms. GOD IS SO IN CONTROL and I don't know how better to say it. Maybe that's why John 16:33 is my favorite verse....."In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have OVERCOME THE WORLD!!"

Mothers to be....continue to hold on to the hope! All my prayer warriors....don't stop, we need it now more then ever! Family and friends, it is your love, smiles and listening ears that have been our encouragement!

My heart sings and leaps for joy,
my eyes hold tears of contentment and peace......
for MY GOD has shown favor in me and has blessed me with HIS GRACE!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Coby is fine!!!

Well....quick update......we went to the Dr. appointment today to check out what Coby's allergies could be and we got some good news. It is not life threatening!!!! I'm just kidding....we knew it wasn't, but I had to say it because the Dr. said it. It was funny because the Dr. had the same humor as Coby and loved golf and is Jewish.....need I say more?? He and Coby hit it off and at times I sat back thinking, "Are we at a Dr.'s appointment or a social gathoring?"

Anyway, the Dr. was great and he thinks that Coby is probably allergic to aspirin! Of course nothing is for sure until Coby has another reaction, and there is blood work done at the time of the reaction....but at this time, that is what we are going with. My mom is also allergic to aspirin and she found out a few years ago when she had the exact same reaction that Coby had while in Chicago.

So we have a few things we need to change....but over all, Coby should be fine! We have an EPI pen for Russia and a few prescriptions that Coby will take when we are over there that should help prevent him from having a reaction like he did in Chicago and when he came home.

Thanks for your prayers and I think the patient will live!!!!