Thursday, August 28, 2008

First Day Home

Here is the first family photo, taken at the airport by the awesome photographer Tom

Greetings to all out in Baby Neil Land (We've discovered it's his world already). First things first...a shout out to Auntie Holly for her wonderful post and pictures for everyone to enjoy. My favorite has to be the one of Neil and Mac walking hand-in-hand.

Well we made it home after about 24 hours of being up. We got to the airport in Moscow about 3 hours early. We were picked up at 8:30am for a 12:55pm flight because I'm sure our driver was figuring on there being traffic. Of course, Murphy's Law kicked in because there was absolutely none!

So a bunch of walking around and a huge diaper blowout later (yes we had to change his clothes before he even left Moscow), we were on the plane. Thankfully, the plane was only half full (or half empty depending on your view on life) so we had a whole extra row to ourselves.

Baby Neil was a bit fussy for about the first 30 minutes and then he was a breeze the rest of the 10 and half hours. He played and slept.

We then met Jason, Holly and Mac in Atlanta and you know that part of the story if you've read the blog below.

Then we boarded the flight to Nashville and again, we had an extra seat between us, and he was so tired that we laid him down and he was out.

We got to Nashville, did some primping and then it was time for his debut in Music City. The crowd of 30-40 were there waiting with signs, balloons and teddy bears.

He was a big ham too! He was so happy. He hugged and laughed with everyone. It was like a baby mosh pit, passing him around.

His first car ride home was typical...as soon as we started driving, he was out again. I'm told I used to fall asleep in cars when I was his age too.

We got home and put him right to bed. His first night of sleep in his new room lasted until about 6 in the morning....not bad.

His first introduction to Pebbles and Trot (Our big boxer dogs) didn't go so well. He looked at them like they were aliens and then proceeded to cry. But as the day went on, he warmed up to them a little more. By the end of the night, he was patting Trot on the head. He's still not sure about Pebbles. Bam Bam (our cat) was not a concern to him.

Anyways, Brandy and I took a majority of the day catching up on sleep while the Grandmas hung out with Baby Neil.

All in all, it was a good day.

Thank you to everyone who showed up last night to greet us. Y'all are awesome! And thank you again to everyone for your support and prayers through this whole process. We can't thank you enough.

Off to bed now. We'll post more tomorrow.

Love,
Brandy, Coby and Baby Neil

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Guest Bloggers - ATLANTA

Guest bloggers Holly, Jason and Mackenna reporting to you from Atlanta

They’re here! He’s here! And he’s kuh-yoot, people! You will simply die of a cuteness overload in person.

We’ve been granted permission to blog here and hopefully share some photos. As the Ginsbergs’ journey home brought them through Atlanta, we were blessed to greet our friends and welcome little Neil.

Many of you are probably at the NashVegas airport right now to greet them as they should be landing and collecting luggage right about now. But for the West Coast feed, we can offer this update: His sweet little feet have touched down in America. He’s a wee wittle peanut, soooo blonde and so adorable. He has the sweetest smile and an infectious giggle. I dare say he is a flirt!

He arrived in a mellow mood, like it-ain't-no-thang, just ridin' in mah green stroller. Whatchulookin' at? And he just smiles back at the attention. Seriously, this is our first hello from the sweetie, fresh outta US Customs:

We shared dinner together upstairs at the airport and found an empty, carpeted corridor to play and visit in this less-traveled part of the airport. Mackenna played a game of chase with Neil that made him squeal with delight. He was full of energy and probably happy to stretch his legs and be off the plane. Best bait to catch Baby Neil: bread and Gerber Puffs.

Restaurant lighting was terrible, so I tried to rescue these in b/w:



For the record, he didn't arrive looking unkempt. WE played him to nuthin' but a cute, cute mess!



After I took a ton of photos and hugged them all goodbye, 4-year-old Mackenna declared, “Baby Neil is sooooo cute, I just want to take him home.” I feel the same way. Nashville, look out!




Who looks happier? "I'm here. Let's get this party started!"


Brandy and Coby: Congratulations! We love you! Thank you for sharing this time with us. It's been a long time coming for y'all, and we are so excited for all three of you!


Posted by Holly, y'all!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

IT'S OFFICIAL, WE'RE COMING HOME!

Well the final step of the process is done. And it went very easy except for the hurricane like rain that met us as we walked out of our apartment today. And just a small piece of advice, Crocs are a huge mistake in a torrential downpour. Our friend Kim says it was tears of joy from Heaven but we were both looking for the off switch or a huge tissue.

We went to the American Embassy and got Neil's Visa. It was very quick because there was only one other family that was there getting a Visa for their child. But we had to leave everything electronic at the front door and this included the two toys we brought for Neil. So needless to say we a cranky 17 month old on our hands who was pitching quite the fit most of the time. Brandy thinks he was just bored and teething.

In all it took about 45 minutes. If you look at the picture above, Neil is just making sure they've spelled his name right and that it doesn't say Andrey.

So we'll pack up tonight and get picked up at 8:30 tomorrow morning for our trip back home. (Thank God!) If we said we were ready to come home, that would be a huge understatement. Grandma's get ready to wake up early and get Neil out of bed Thursday morning because Brandy and I will be sleeping in.
Our flight from Moscow to Atlanta is flight 47 which takes off at 12:55pm Moscow time and arrive in Atlanta at 4:30pm (3:30pm Nashville time). Our flight back to Nashville is Delta Flight 1529 leaving Atlanta at 8:20pm (7:20pm Nashville time) and arriving at 8:31pm back home. We hope to see you all there.

Quick Update from the Last Day
After Neil's doctor appointment, we walked to the Red Square. It was about an hour walk because I thought I knew the fastest way and didn't want to listen to Brandy's advice (my bad). When we got there we must've had that look of confusion on how to get in there on our face because a woman who was from Chicago stopped us and said, "do you need help?"

She was a grad student studying Art History and knew her way around the area. She walked us down an underground walkway and right into the Red Square. If it wasn't for her, we were considering a huge game of chicken around 18 lanes of traffic, a la the Frogger video game.
So she was a little angel sent from above. :-)
We walked back and then shortly thereafter, Dave and Kim picked us up again and took us to another dinner party at a friend of their's house (also American). It was for a birthday and we got a second straight night of home cooking. And it was awesome except for the part where Neil had another blow-out and dripped all over the marble floor on the way to the bathroom. By the way, this happened as we were all eating dinner and Brandy noticed a puddle forming under him. Gross!
But it was truly another great evening. We can't thank Dave and Kim enough for everything they've done for us the last three days. Kim even went with us to the embassy today just to make sure everything went smoothly. We will most definitely miss them.
Ok. This is the last post from Russia. We'll see you all tomorrow night at the airport.


Paka,

Mommy, Daddy and Neil


Here are a few more pictures from the last two days.



Brandy and Neil in front of Lenin's Tomb




Nice hats


Neil is working on his flexibility as he prepares for the 2020 Olympics


Neil in front of St. Basil's Cathedral in Red Square



The Ginsbergs in Red Square

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Great Day And A Half

Greetings from Moscow....

Just wanted to send a quick note to update you on our last day and a half. We met an American couple named Kim and Dave yesterday, who live here, and who took us on our first Metro ride (which is the Subway). We went to a swap meet where we did some souvenir shopping and had some lunch. It was a great experience.

They then dropped us back at our apartment for some rest time before meeting us again to take the Metro back to their apartment.

It was a beautiful place, right around the corner from the Russian circus. They made us a home cooked meal of enchiladas, chips and salsa, salad, fruit, ice cream. Did I mention how good it was?

We also took our laundry over to their house and they did our laundry for us because our washer and dryer are broken. They have been so amazing to us.

What a great night!

This morning we woke up early and took Baby Neil to his doctor examination. Dr. Boris (I'm not kidding) poked and prodded, and twisted him in all positions.

At the end Boris said, "the only problem this little guy has is going to be how to keep the girls off of him." We bothed laughed.

Boris also told us Neil must've been the favorite of orphanage because he's so developed. He told us he was only 4 pounds when he was born and now at 20 pounds he's doing great. That made us smile too.

Tomorrow we have an appointment at 2pm at the Embassy for his Visa and then we'll be done. Wednesday will be time to come home.

So now we're off for a walk to the Kremlin to take some pictures. Tonight we're going to be picked up again by Dave and Kim for another home cooked meal at somebody else's house.

Until then, here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure.

Love,
Mommy, Daddy and Baby Neil (Who can't wait to meet y'all Wednesday at the airport)



Neil with Kim and Dave

Riding in the Stroller

Neil running around naked in Kim and Dave's apartment because the air conditioner is out and it was kind of hot.

Us on the Metro



And finally a Mullet (apparently they're very popular here)




Saturday, August 23, 2008

My Turn....

OK, Neil is taking his mid morning nap and Coby is taking his! So, I get to jump on and blog a little.

We are in Moscow right now and in about and hour we are meeting up with an American couple who live here in Moscow and we are going to go 'hit the town.' We are going shopping and to lunch and we will see from there. I met this couple through a friend of a friend. They live here and help American families who are adopting 'get around.' It is so sweet of them and what a blessing!!


Well, Neil slept over 10 hours last night and being in this family....that is a good thing! Coby and I love our sleep. I am thinking Neil is a perfect fit in that category! He is eating pretty good. We thought he would eat whatever....well....not true. We know what he doesn't like and the stuff that he does...we just keep feading him that. it's safe for now!


Well, our washer doesn't work in the apartment so I am apologizing NOW for the smell that you all will be smelling when we get off the plane. YES..that smell will be us! We packed clothes with the thought of wahing them and re-wearing them. Well, we are re-wearing them minus the washing.


Our cable is out, so we are back to watching Russian TV. Although not a whole lot of time for TV watching at this point.


We had our first real booboo this morning. Picture a sippy cup, a 'drunken' 17mo old Russian, not walking very good and falling forward onto the sippy cup. Yup...even a little blood. Coby told him he was fine and to rub some dirt on it, but considering where we are...THAT IS GROSS! I will say there is nothing sweeter then a baby loving on his mommy after a booboo!!


Well, I am fascinated with all the high-heel shoes that the woman wear here so I am snapping pictures of all the shoes the Russians are wearing. Coby is amused with the mullet thing going on out here. EVERYONE has one! So yes...there will be a blog when I get home called, "High Heels and Mullets."


Well, Coby is keeping you all updated on our events, so I thought I would just pop in and say hello. Jenny M. I have pictures and updated measurements for you when I get home! :-)

The weather has been wonderful! The Russian people love their babies, so Coby and I have had no problem getting to the 'front of the line.' All we do is show them the baby and we are in!

Our health is doing good. Patience is good...not great...but good. Smells are not bothering us as much this trip....I think there is a little Russian stink in our blood now, oh great!

And the best thing is Coby and I are settling in as parents easier then we thought. So for that I am going to give all GLORY and THANKS to God for creating this beutiful child for us.

Kevin and Hope....I still think Clay, Neil and then Sam. Coby thinks Neil, Clay and Sam....I say we just let them duke it out! (I miss you guys! Hope...there is NO way we could of done twins! My hat is off to you and Kevin...oh my gosh it had to be CRAZY with your boys here.)

Mom, thanks for watching the house and Sarah and Barb for entertaining her...hey, work on getting her to stay out here!


OK...gota run! Thanks for your prayers and thoughts and notes, we love reading them!

Neil's mommy!

One Down, Two to Go

Up, Up And Away

Well for the most part Neil's first plane ride went pretty smoothly. We woke up around 4:30 in the morning and were picked up at 5:30 for a 7:40 flight. We boarded the plane and for some reason we sat on the runway for about an hour.

This didn't make baby Neil the happiest baby. He sat still and played for awhile but then got really restless and "pitched a bit of a fit."

Finally we took off and he was great. He didn't scream at all, he was just intrigued by what was going on.

We were up in the air about an hour when the dreaded, "what is that smell?" question came up. Unfortunately, it wasn't the Russians but a stinky diaper.

Well since I was sitting on the aisle, I drew the short straw and had to go change him. He hated the airplane bathroom by the way.

30 minutes later, the smell was back and Brandy won the bet this time. She got to change him.

Not 2 minutes after she returned, again the smell came. The poor guy was finally getting settled in with the new food and I think it was all coming out at once.

I picked him up to change him again and this time, I felt something wet on his pants and realized we had a blow out.

So not only did I get to change his diaper but his clothes as well. The rest of the flight was unenventful. He took a little nap and played with his toys.

We landed in Moscow, got our luggage and met our translator who took us to a Starbucks to fill out some paperwork needed for the embassy.

We checked into our apartment and all crashed for a two hour nap. We're now on our way for a walk to the store to get some food before settling in for the night.

Tomorrow we are meeting an American couple who is going to take us to a Swap Meet and to have some lunch.

Monday, Neil has an appointment with a Doctor at the embassy to be checked out as part of the process. Tuesday we go to get his Visa and Wednesday back on the plane for the trip home.

Below are some pictures of the trip so far. Hope you enjoy.

Mommy and Neil on his first plane ride.

Us leaving the orphanage yesterday.



Silly time with Daddy and Neil


Another picture leaving the orphanage



Happy Mommy and baby




Already has his own phone.


AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, HIS FIRST WORDS... :-)


video

Friday, August 22, 2008

GOTCHA!!!!!

And ladies and gentleman for the first time, Neil Hollis Ginsberg and his mommy and daddy, Brandy and Coby. (Has a nice ring to it doesn't it?)




Well folks, it's official...Neil Hollis is out of the orphanage and slowly working on his Southern Drawl as he makes his way back to Nashville.


We picked him up about 10 this morning and put him in his new outfit including his USC jacket compliments of Aunt Dana and Uncle Michael, and his Oma and Opa. (I'm sure his Aunt Lucy is real proud as well)
I got about an hour with him before I had to get back in the car to go to Kemerovo to pick up his passport.
Seven hours later, I was back at the hotel and Brandy caught me up on her first day as his mommy. (Alone)

He's the happiest baby you'll ever see. Laughing, cooing, screaming and playing. And his one word he keeps repeating over and over and over again, "Dada." Brandy is pissed. :-)

We will be picked up to go to Moscow at 5:30 tomorrow morning, so it's off to bed. We'll post more when we get there.

Until then, Baby Neil says good night to y'all and he'll see you real soon.

Us walking out of the orphanage.

P.S. A quick riddle for ya...why did the sheep cross the road?......Give up? I don't know but two of them almost got drilled by our car on the way to Kemerovo. Crazy Sheep!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Who's Your Daddy (And Mommy)?

If you’re name is Neil Hollis Ginsberg, then we are!


Our day started out with a 7am pickup from our driver and we hit the road for the 2 ½ hour ride to Kemerovo.

The drive was surprisingly beautiful. It had lots of rolling green hills, beautiful trees and the occasional woman taking her cow for its morning stroll. And don’t forget the horse and buggy taking up the roadway as well. (This is not a joke)

We arrived into the city at about 9:30 and stopped to pick-up Anna, who introduced herself as our translator for court and then continued to scare the crap out of me in a matter of 45 seconds.
She told me I would be doing most of the talking and then threw me a laundry list of things I needed to memorize. (His real name, his medical diagnosis, why we chose Russia, to name a few)
We pulled up to the courthouse and went downstairs to a waiting area while Anna and the director of CHI, Natalia (surprise) went and checked us in.

Anna told us we had to wait on the prosecutor who was running late.

Finally she showed up about 15 minutes later and we were escorted down a smoke-filled staircase to the courtroom.

Once inside, we sat in the first row of pew and waited on the judge to come in. Anna sat next to us. In front of us were the prosecutor, a social worker and the court clerk.

Finally the judge walked in and we all rose. Then Brandy sat down and it was me on stage.
I stated my name, birthdate, employer, info about our house and then the fun questions came.

Why Russia? Why did we choose to adopt? Is our family supportive of the decision?
I don’t remember what answers I gave but Brandy told me later I did great and that she was proud of me. I’m not sure if I was boring the judge because she yawned out loud about 4 times. Anna later told us the judge had a rough night and didn’t get much sleep. It wasn’t me.

That lasted about 25 minutes. Then the judge asked Brandy to stand up and asked if she had anything to add. She added a couple of things, we then requested the 10 day waiting period be waived, and then it was decision time.

We were told to leave the courtroom while the judge made her decision. 45 seconds later were back in the courtroom and awaited her decision.

At 10:42 am local time, the judge pronounced Brandy and Coby parents of Neil Hollis Ginsberg.

And………wait for it………wait for it…..she waived the 10 day waiting period. Yippee.

After court we went to apply for his birth certificate and citizenship paper, then went to buy plane tickets back to Moscow, had lunch (in which somehow we got stuck paying for the whole group) and applied for his passport.

In case you didn’t get it already, we are officially a Mommy and a Daddy!!!

We arrived back in Novo at 5:30pm and had some dinner before retiring to our hotel room.

Tomorrow we will leave at 9:30am and go to the orphanage to pick up Baby Neil. Then at Noon, I will have to go back to Kemerovo to get his passport and papers for the embassy. (Lucky me)

Then we will pack up tomorrow night and leave back for Moscow Saturday morning for a 7:40am flight. That will be fun.

Again, thank y’all for the prayers through all this. Obviously they were answered. We will post pictures tomorrow after Gotcha Day!

Until then, we’re going to try and get some sleep considering we only slept about an hour last night.

Love,
Neil’s Mommy and Daddy

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

You Remember Those Hertz Commercials?

What would a trip to Novokuznetsk be like for the Ginsbergs if there wasn't some sort of adventure right?

The day started out great for us in Moscow. We walked around Arbat a little bit, had McDonald's (again) and waited until 7pm for our ride to come and take us to the airport.

We packed up our bags and went outside at 7pm to meet our translator and driver and as soon as we got outside, it started pouring. Our flight was leaving at 10:05pm. The drive was expected to take about an hour.

"Expected" was the key word.

Now for those of you who have been following from the beginning, you know that we've described Moscow like Los Angeles on steroids. Millions of people in millions of cars all going apparently to the same place.

Long story short, we start looking at the clock and it's 8:45 and we still haven't gotten out of the city limits and still have quite a commute to the airport. We (more like I) are getting extremely nervous.

We keep quizzing our translator, "are you sure we're going to be ok?" Her response, "sure, sure, no problem."

So it's now 9:21 and we finally get to the airport. Crap!!!!

The airport has those automatic arms where you have to take a ticket before you can enter with your car. Our driver, thinking he's pulled a fast one, goes to a line with virtually no cars.

There's a reason for this...it's out of order. And of course 14 cars follow us because they think we're so smart and they may get in quicker as well. So backing up was not an option and we're running out of time.

So open go the doors and two white Americans and a Russian translator jump out of the car in the middle of a jillion cars and grab our stuff.

For all we know, the driver is still stuck, trying to back up.

We book it (80's term, follow along) with luggage and stroller in hand for the ticket line. We're dodging traffic and people. I'm trying to keep up with them considering I was the lucky one who had the 70 pound suitcase.

We get inside and look at the monitor, trying to find which desk is our check-in. Brandy and I are of course no help considering everything is in Russian.

Mia, our translator, finally finds the right desk and bam we're running again looking for desk number 176.

We finally maneuver around a million people. I'm pretty sure I ran over at least 4 people and made it to the desk.

Throwing down our passports, the lady behind the counter says in Russian, "you guys are lucky. We are closing check-in after you."

30 seconds later and we weren't on the plane. But we weren't off the hook yet. We check our bags (no fee for overage) and it's onto our gate.

This is where the Hertz commercials come in. Those of you that have seen me run know I'm not the swiftest of foot. Not today y'all.

Brandy and I felt like OJ running through the airport. We were bobbing and weaving. Hurdling and spin moving people.

We got to our gate at 9:52 and got on the tram to go to the plane. We made it! But would our luggage? It's not like there are 14 flights a day where they could throw our luggage on the next flight.

So we get seated and finally catch our breath. We're supposed to take off at 10:05 and the pilot comes on and announces something over the loud speaker. We had no idea what it was because of course it was in Russian.

It was obvious, we were being delayed because the engines go off. Great! All that running for nothing.

Two hours of sitting on the plane later, the engines come on and we're on our way. Apparently it was due to the weather.

The flight was uneventful, 4 hours of listening to music and playing soduko (for me).

We landed in Novo at 8am and met our translator who's name surprisingly wasn't Natalia. I was so shocked I didn't really pay attention to what her name really was. She just told us we would be meeting Natasha (Natalia, for those of you who remember our first trip).

She did tell us though we would be going to the hotel to check-in and immediately going to the orphanage to see our little man. You want to see two faces light up immediately?

We checked in and had about 6 minutes to change out of our grubbies and into orphanage clothes for the 30 minute drive to the Baby Home.

In the car with us was a couple from Germany who went to court today and said it was about 20 minutes. And good news, they waived the 10-day waiting period. One more prayer for that please.

We got to the Baby Home and met with the director who updated us on a few things about Baby Neil. They did say he a some kind of cyst removed a couple months ago but from what we understand, it was pretty common for little boys to have this.

So it's off to a play room and one of the caretakers brings down our little man. He has seriously grown about a foot since we saw him last. Tall and skinny. In fact, I asked Brandy under my breath, "is that him?" I didn't recognize him. He is more beautiful and cuter than ever.

We got to play with him for about an hour. He smiled and laughed, hugged and played. He took right too us again. He was such a happy baby.

He's walking but not very sturdily yet. A bit wobbly but he'll get there.

After the hour, we kissed him and told him this was the last time we would be giving him back so we could leave. The next time we see him, we're taking him home. And we can't wait!

So it's off to get something to eat and then to bed. We're being picked up at 7am for the 3 1/2 hour drive to court. Court is at 11am and if all goes well, we'll be parents and returning back to the region.

Then we will go back to the orphanage Friday morning around 8 to pick him up before I have to go back to court to pick up his passport while Brandy gets to spend the day with him.

Thanks for all your continued prayers. They were definitely heard and answered. We'll check back in tomorrow after court.

Love y'all.

Coby and Brandy (our second to last night as just the two of us)

Monday, August 18, 2008

8 Doctors and $1500 Later...

It's over!!! Goodnight everyone.
Just kidding.

The day started for us waking up at what we thought was 8am. We looked at the clock and to our surprise, it was 12:30pm. Oh crap! That gave us two hours to get showered, go get something to eat and be back in time to go get our physical.

So after showering, we took a 15 minute walk to McDonald's and had lunch. (Healthy huh?) Our driver picked us up at 2:30 for the 30 minute drive to the American hospital in which we quizzed her the whole way about what to expect.
We arrived and were pleasantly surprised by the facilities. Very clean and very American.

We filled out some paperwork and one of the assistants comes over to us and asks us for the bloodwork we brought along. She's looking at it and everything is going fine until she says, "What about Hepatitis C?" As we scramble through our paperwork, we realize we weren't informed we had to be tested for this, so guess what? Yup, they had to draw blood.


Mine hurt a little when she stuck the needle in, but Brandy's hurt more because when the nurse was removing the needle from her arm, she nicked something on the inside of her arm causing her to wince forward and scream out. Not cool.

From there it was the ole "Pee into the cup" trick so they could drug test us. Good thing we didn't have those poppyseed muffins for breakfast. And then it was onto the doctors. Here is a brief explanation of the 3 1/2 hours we went through.

We met with an Oncologist, Narcologist, Pulmanologist, Neurologist, General Practioner, Infectionist, Dermatologist and finally a Psychiatrist.
Phew!

Because they drew blood to test for the Hep-C, we won't have all our paperwork back until tomorrow at noon but everything went fine and we're past that hurdle. We got back to our apartment around 7:00 and walked over the Arbat to have some Sbarro's. (Yup they have that here too.)

Tomorrow we have basically all day to walk around and chill out. We're thinking we'll probably walk over to Red Square and do the touristy thing.
Our driver is picking us up at 7 pm to take us to the CHI office to store some of our stuff we don't need for Kemerovo and then take us to the airport. Our flight leaves at 10:05pm and then we'll be in the region Wednesday morning.
Funny Story from the Day

We're walking out of our apartment this morning and there's a worker doing something with the wiring above our apartment.

If you can imagine this, the guy slid to the side so I could lock the door. But his arm remained up in the air, holding whatever he was working on. His armpit was at nose level and if you remember the whole, Russians don't wear deodorant thing? Let's just say I couldn't lock the door fast enough while my eyes were completely watering over.

Here some pictures from our stay so far


Starbucks on the first day



The worst job in the world. This woman sits in a a freaking outhouse all day and charges 15 rubles for anyone who wanted to take a leak. Also, apparently mullets or should we say rullets are in here. Notice the guy in yellow sporting his.


Here is the neigbor's door "decorated" in newspaper. Hols, is there some kind of green thing going on with this? Should we all be wrapping our doors (front and garage) like this?



Brandy on Arbat street.


Coby on Arbat Steet.


Coby in front of the Bizzle



Physical Done!!!!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

It's Not the Ritz Carlton, but...

Greetings from Moscow. Just wanted to let everyone know we made it to here with no problems.

The flight from Atlanta to Moscow was a bit bumpy at times and horribly uncomfortable at others. But all in all, it went by pretty quickly. The plane was the coolest one we've been on in all our trips. We had our own movie control system in every seat so you could watch whatever you wanted.

By the way, for those of you who haven't seen "What Happens in Vegas", Brandy and I give it two thumbs up. Also, I give Leatherheads, 3 1/2 stars.

Although Brandy spent a majority of the time staring out the window at the beautiful full moon that accompanied us along the way.

We got to our apartment around 12:30 but since check-in wasn't until two, we had to find something to do for an hour and half.

So what did we do? Of course we went to Starbucks. But here's the funny part, we are staying at an apartment about 20 minutes from the Red Square and there isn't a front lobby so here we are, walking down a busy shopping district, toting our suitcases and bags and a lime green stroller with no baby in it. The looks we were getting were pretty comical.

So after falling asleep in Starbucks (Brandy said I was snoring), it was 2:00 and time to check-in. The apartment is pretty decent. Has a living room, bedroom, kitchen and best of all, free internet and phone. Although the two guys living next door have questionable decorating tastes. Their entire front door is covered in newspapers. (Pictures to follow)

We took a two hour power nap and then met a couple of American couples for dinner. One of the couples is with CHI and just picked up their child who is about 3 weeks younger than Neil. We are getting excited.

So it's off to bed. Tomorrow, we will be picked up at 2:30 to go for our physical. One other nice surprise we got from our translator...it's going to cost us $1500 for it. Lucky us.

Off to bed now. We really need your prayers that tomorrow will go well and there will be no problems.

We'll report back after we're done (because we have free internet).

Good night and good luck,
Coby and Brandy

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

<<<<< What's That Green Thing Say?!!!!

Can you believe it? We sure can't! After 2 1/2 years of ups and downs, prayers and disappointments, we are now just eight days away from standing in front of judge and having her grant us "parenthood." Wow!

Brandy and I are doing last minute things to get ready before we leave on Saturday. I had to get about 15 documents notarized...tomorrow we have to pick up some paperwork from our agency...we have to go to the bank and get "new money" to take with us....and oh yes, pack!

Brandy actually has everything ready for Baby Neil to go but as for us, if things don't change, we'll be walking around the streets of Russia, naked holding Pampers and eating pureed peas. Awesome!

We have yet to pack for ourselves but we're not too concerned. It shouldn't take long.

So the plan is this...we'll be picked up on Saturday morning and taken to the airport for an 11:40 flight to Atlanta.

An hour and half layover and we take off at 3:30 for Moscow. We arrive in Moscow at 10:30am on Sunday which we think is 1:30 in the morning Nashville. (Confused?)

Sunday we are meeting some Americans who are taking us to dinner in Moscow, which will be nice.

Monday we go to the Embassy to have our physicals. This is where the most prayer is needed that everything will go fine with Brandy.

Tuesday night we get on the plane for Kemerovo and arrive there Wednesday morning, which is Tuesday night Nashville time.

Court is Thursday and if all goes well and the 10 day waiting period is waved, which we're told it is being waved, we'll pick up Baby Neil and he'll be ours forever. The drive from Kemerovo to the orphanage is 3 and a half hours one way so it should be an interesting car ride with Natalia and the crew.

Saturday it's back to Moscow where we'll spend the weekend before going to the Embassy in Moscow on Monday and Tuesday to get his Visa.

Wednesday morning, it's back to the airport for the trek back home.

We arrive back in Atlanta at 4:30 on Wednesday and have about a 4 hour layover. Hopefully Uncle Jason and Aunt Holly and Mackenna will meet us there and help us pass the time.

Finally, we're back on the plane and arrive back home at 8:30 pm on Delta Flight 1529. We'd love to see all of you at the airport to give the little man the biggest greeting home he could ever imagine.

Thanks for all your support and prayers through all this. We are truly blessed to have everyone in our lives. We love you all and can't wait to see y'all on the other side.

We'll keep you posted.

Coby and Brandy

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Cookie Counting Continues....


Bambam's turn.....oh yes, he loves the cookies too!!! Picking out which one he wants...

Eat up another day!!

"Can I eat all them now??"
(He is a Scottish Fold, so yes, his ears are supposed to be folded down, he was not abused as a kitten....oh wait Coby's BFF, Jason, did have one episode with him as a kitten that could of been the outcome of why we think B Cat is more dog then cat...don't ask)

I can't even start to explain how our office floor looks.....papers all over the floor. Yup, we are still getting paperwork and documents together for court. I seriously think I am going to come home and go through a shock of no more paperwork. Oh, what a blessing that will be!!!

Coby is at school today getting his class room together for school to start on Monday. I am running around to get documents from 2 Dr's offices. The pediatricians office and to our Dr. to get our x-rays.

I know you are all asking if we are excited..we are in heart, but we are in 'got to get everything done' mode that I think the TRUE excitement will come the moment we pick up Neil and we hold him in our arms, kiss his precious little head, hug him, look into his eyes and study his face. I know the smile I will have that very moment will be a smile that will not be removed from my face for a very long time. I can't wait to look up into Coby's face and see him smile at Neil and watch him kiss his face and touch it all so sweetly as Coby can.

I can not wait for the moment we walk out the old wooden front door of the orphanage holding Neil. As we walk down the 3 steps, go around the building, get into our awaiting car and drive away from the place that Neil has been living in his whole life. The home that Neil has been waiting for us in...his whole life. To sit down in the car with Coby next to me, probably telling me to stop crying. I love my husband for knowing me and knowing my heart.

I can't wait to drive away and to take one look back at the home that continues to hold our little Andrey and held our little Neil. To know that God will always hold Andrey every day he has here on earth and the fact that I find comfort and peace in that. Children are a gift from God.

I can't wait to put him to bed the first night. After he has closed his eyes and fallen asleep, I want to lay next to him. To love on him, rub his back, kiss him, look at him, take in his little sounds, his smells and then to watch Coby do the same. To do to him what only a mommy and daddy can do.. love him unconditionally. I can't wait to lay next to him, close my eyes and offer up to the Lord my tears of joy and my thanks and gratitude for MY child.

I CAN'T WAIT!!!

Those are the images that keep me up at night looking up at the ceiling and just thanking God and thanking God and thanking God!!! These are the things I am excited for, and I can't wait!!


These are the 2 things Coby did on Saturday..........

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Our cruise pictures....


My favorite picture....Cozumel Mexico

First day leaving Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

Our ship at Grand Cayman

Leaving Grand Cayman
Check out how green and clear the water is.....

...and yet soooo blue!! Arriving into Cozumel, Mexico
Our dun buggy excursion...yes, I'm the one in the mirror.

Coby driving and the couple sitting in the back, Bill and Kathy...I think were nice when they said they felt safe!

Coby had no idea his speed..he is going about 60mph here....but that's not what the speedometer says...

We went to a crocodile encounter in Mexico...I don't know about you but I didn't feel too safe about a deck 3 feet off the water and over 400 crocks below me. Oh ya, they said if they are swimming, they can jump up to 10feet!! Yeah, I don't think I felt safe!

Cozumel beach...
These 3 pictures are of the same sun set....our last night at sea!! It was a beautiful trip!