"Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do.
God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows what we know,
and holds us responsible to act." Prov 24:12

Monday, June 28, 2010

Smiles, Giggles and Guardian Angels

So today has been wonderful. We haven't had any doctors appointments for a few days now and Sasha is really enjoying himself. I made sure I started getting on the ground even more and playing more and he is really responding to this. He was laughing out loud and couldn't stop smiling and giggling. He doesn't cry when I enter his room in the morning anymore either. The last two days, I have actually gotten his happy squeal instead so that has been pretty neat! He loves to watch me cook while he is in his favorite bouncy chair too and today, when I had to leave the room here and there, he actually whined for me to come back! Now Brooks does this ALL the time and has since birth and it can get to be a little much but when I hear it from Sasha at this point, it feels like a blessing.

I wanted to clarify a couple things from my last post as well, some things that I may not have made clear enough. Sasha is going to the doctor a lot right now but it is only for the things that are absolutely necessary right now. He has A LOT going on medically but some of the things are not as critical and can be put on the back burner right now. We don't want to overwhelm him any more than he already is and we don't want to interfere with our bonding so we are only do what is absolutely necessary and important to do right away. The other stuff can wait. So, if it seems like we are doing a lot, it could be worse and we are doing the best job we can to manage his care in a way that will be the most beneficial for him in the short and long term.

Also, I wanted to clarify that he doesn't really have significant bonding issues at this point. I just wanted to be honest and let everyone know that it wasn't all just going smoothly with no bumps in the road. I wanted to be honest so if anyone else is in our position and wonders why their child didn't instantly bond, they know that others have been in their shoes. It has helped me tremendously to hear about others who have been in our place and how they have made it through... so thank you for all the comments and support. It means a lot!

Sasha is not going through anything more than a typical child goes through, he is just going through different things that are adoption related that I wanted to share. Brooks is going through just as much, as is Heath, as is any child I know but I just wanted to make sure I shared how the adoption side of things were going because I know it helped a lot for me, to see how it went for other people. Brooks in fact, is heading toward the wonderful terrible two's stage and oh boy, is that fun! In fact, I think I could write a whole post just on that, LOL. So all in all, Sasha is doing great and we are doing great... like I said, just a few bumps in the road and they are different ones then I am used to so it takes some adjusting.

On another note, a very exciting thing that happened for Sasha today was that he got to meet his guardian angel Stephanie! Stephanie is a very good friend of mine and she has done so much for our family during this adoption and has been an integral part in bringing Sasha home to his forever family. She is such a blessing. She and her family have been on a mission trip in Papua New Guinea for the last two months and just got home last night. So they came over today to meet our baby boy and it took a lot for me not to cry the moment they finally met. She and her husband Ben have done so much for little Sasha and I was so glad that they finally had the chance to meet. It was pretty amazing too because Sasha reacted very well to them and seemed quite at peace, even with all the other kids running around screaming and laughing. He even did what he loves to do to Jeremy and I, he peed on Stephanie. What a wonderful bonding moment it was for them that I am sure she will treasure forever, once she washes her shirt that is!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Hospitals, Lab Tests & Ice Cream

Luckily, we did not have to stay overnight in the hospital last night. We checked in so they could do some tests to see if Sasha has Diabetes Insipidus but realized after we had checked in, that because of Sasha's limb differences it would be very invasive to the the tests they wanted to do. If it was one of us, it would have been a straightforward easy procedure but for him, that is not the case. Once again though, I wish they would have figured this out ahead of time. They know he has limb differences so I am not too sure why this couldn't have been figured out before we had to be admitted to the hospital. We stayed there for 7 hours because the in house pediatrician (not our regular doc) was insisting that we stay overnight even though there was no medical need that warranted this. Our regular pediatrician, who we LOVE and is so wonderful to Sasha, and who is actually in charge of Sasha's care was able to get us out of there though so that was good. By the time we made it home, he was very tired and went right to sleep.

This morning though, we had to go back to the children's hospital to get some lab work done. This was our third visit in three days and Sasha was not happy. The first two days he was his calm self whenever we were there but today, he was happy and quiet riding in the back of the car with his brothers and then when we pulled into the parking garage he started screaming. He already knows that it is not a fun place to be which is pretty sad. He just did not want to be there and cried almost the entire time we were there, which is very unusual for Sasha.

The lab insisted that they could do his blood draw now that they had observed the doctor do it, so we were able to go right into a room and they called two nurses in to do the actual draw. They picked a vein on his forehead and were very confident that this would work. Three of us had to hold Sasha down as he was screaming, me being one of them. It was very hard to watch your child in this situation. Plus, his brothers were in there with us and it was very hard for them to see their little brother in so much distress. They tried for what seemed like forever to get blood out of this vein (it was probably only like 3 minutes) and they finally realized it was just not going to work. So they found another, bigger one, on the side of his head. Luckily this one worked very well and it was over fairly quickly but was so, so hard to watch. I actually did end up with tears in my eyes this time. How can you not when you see your child in so much distress and you are one of the people helping to hold him down? Never in a million years did I realize that a blood draw could be so dramatic but unfortunately for Sasha, this is how it is going to be. Let's hope he doesn't need a lot. It is also a blessing that the nurses and staff (minus the extremely frustrating hospital pediatrician) are so great and work so hard to make his stays there as pleasant as they can be.

So, as of now, we are all home together and everyone is sleeping soundly right now. Sasha seems to love his crib so that is good. During the day, he is very quiet and very serious, taking it all in, but now at night, when I put him in his crib, I hear him babbling and making all kinds of fun noises. I'm glad he is so happy in his crib and feels that he has a safe place at home where he can relax and "practice" his skills.

Tonight, he also got a very special treat for the first time and it was a very sweet moment. We all went out for ice cream to say good bye to Ami and Papi who are leaving for home tomorrow. Sasha has never had ice cream... he has never had special things like this. So we got him his own scoop tonight and he LOVED it! I thought he might be turned off due to the cold feeling of it but no, he was just the opposite and could not get enough. Very, very cute!

Next week on four out of the five days, we have appointments with all kinds of specialists so that is good. It will be nice to start getting some answers to his health problems so we can get him on the road to recovery. Thank you so much for your continued love and prayers for our precious son. We can't tell you how much it means to us!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Off To The Hospital

Off to the hospital we go. Most of Sasha's test results were great so that was wonderful news but his one regarding Diabetes Insipidus (which is what we have suspected he has all along) came back iffy and now they need to do additional tests for this. This means however, that he has to be admitted to the hospital for 24 hours so they can monitor his urine output through a catheter. Not fun at all. So, we will be heading there in a few hours. I will stay the entire day with him so he is never alone and Jeremy will stay with him tonight. Please pray that Sasha has a positive experience at the hospital and that everything goes as well as it can.

Like I said, the staff at the children's hospital is wonderful so we know he is in good hands. Hopefully all these additional tests will give us some answers so we can start treating him. Thank you for all your prayers, love and support!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Things We Take For Granted

The things we take for granted... for instance, how easy it is for most of us to go in and have blood drawn for some lab work. It never really crossed my mind until today that is. Sasha has to have a number of diagnostic tests done to see why his body is overheating, why he is consistently dehydrated, etc. So, to do this, we had to go to the Children's Hospital to have some blood drawn.

They wanted first morning draws which means he could not eat anything beforehand. So, I left the house as quickly as I could this morning, which was around 8. It took about 30 minutes to check in since we had never been to that hospital before and then we finally made it back to the lab. I handed all my paperwork in and when I did, they saw Sasha so I am not too sure why 20 minutes later, they were surprised when we walked back there. They did not know what to do. They kept asking me how he had blood drawn in the past and I kept saying that I did not know because we just adopted him. I said that I assumed they would have to take it out of his jugular vein in the neck or his groin since this is what the pediatrician had said the day prior. Well, they said that they could not do that. They were not allowed to do that so they would have to call down an anesthesiologist to do the draw. Really?! My husband is a doctor so I could just see in my head at that point how much we were now going to be charged for a simple blood draw since a doctor had to be involved.

At this point, it was around 9:20 and poor Sasha was starving. They said they would try to work everything out as quickly as possible because they knew how hungry he must have been. So we waited another 20 minutes (at this point he was bawling, he had done so well up until this point, no tears). I was then told that all the examine rooms were full so the doctor would have to do the draw from his neck in the OR and I was not allowed to come. What?! You have got to be kidding me. You are going to draw blood from my son's neck, the son we are trying to bond with and to gain his trust, and you are telling me I can't be with him! Unbelievable. At that point, I had just really wished my husband could have been there because he would have been allowed to go in the OR with Sasha. But he wasn't so I had to hand him over. Everyone was VERY nice (it is a children's hospital after all with very sick kids) and very sweet with Sasha but it was still hard to hand him over. I wanted to cry and anyone that knows me knows that I am a cryer. But crying would not have done him any good nor would it have done me any good so I held it all in (had to pat myself on the back for that one, LOL).

I then waited in the lobby for about 15 minutes just praying that his blood draw from his jugular vein would go well. They came out with him and they were all just oohing and aahing over him. They didn't want to let him go and kept saying how well he did back there (no tears or fighting) and just how cute he was (I know I am biased but I totally agree!). And the good news was that they didn't have to take it out of his jugular like they thought, they were able to do it through a vein on his scalp so that was good! And the lab tech watched it all and said that she could do that so from now on, if we needed a blood draw, they could do it at the lab. Amen for that! At 10:30, Sasha finally got his breakfast... and he was so good about it all. He keeps impressing us more and more each day.

Who would have ever guessed that a simple blood draw could be so dramatic...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Trip Home

Okay, I don't really even know where to start so I guess I will just start at the very beginning of our journey home. Vlado (the apartment manager) came to our apartment at 9:45 on Friday the 18th and took Jeremy over to the police station to unregister. When you are going to be adopting in Serbia and living there for a short time, you have to register with the police. When you leave, they ask that you unregister so Jeremy and Vlado went to take care of that while I finished up getting all the bags and kids ready for the trip.

At 10:15, Dushin (I feel bad, but I do not know how to spell his name. It is pronounced Dewshin in Serbian) arrived at the apartment to take us to the airport. Dushin is Jasmina's nephew and I want to take this opportunity to thank him and tell him what a wonderful young man he is. He picked us up from the airport initially, he drove us all over on the day of the adoption ceremony and he drove us back to the airport. He helped us with our bags, which was not easy because we had a lot of them, they were very heavy, and we lived up four flights of stairs. He never hesitated to help and he was always so nice about it. Heath just thought Dushin was the coolest guy ever and Dushin was so nice to him. He gave him hugs and chatted with Heath (which Heath loves to do) as long as he wanted. You can just see the adoration Heath has for him in the picture I included. He is a very sweet young man and we appreciate all he did for us while we were in Belgrade.

After getting all the bags down from the apartment (thanks to Jeremy, Dushin & Vlado), Dushin drove us to the airport, which is about 30 minutes outside of town. He then helped us get everything in the airport and at about 1:00, we took off to Munich. Once in Munich, the craziness began. Let me just say this before I even begin posting about Munich... I will never fly into or out of Munich again if I have a choice. That airport is a nightmare and pretty much everyone we encountered was extremely rude. Now, on to the madness that is known as the Munich Airport.

When you fly into Munich, you have already been through security but they make everyone departing a plane go through security again before you board your next plane (just in case you might have picked something up on the other plane, really?!?). But, it isn't even that simple. They load everyone up on buses when you get off your plane (which is a lot of fun with three kids, two strollers, and a ton of bags) and drop you off at another terminal. There, you face a free for all when it comes to security. There are a number of buses dropping passengers off, no official lines and only 3 security check points so everyone is just pushing and trying to get through because they don't want to miss their connections.

We were definitely going to miss our connection because of this mayhem. The lines were simply not moving and we were almost 50 people deep. Heath was acting up, Sasha and Brooks were crying and we were so frustrated because we were going to miss our international flight. Luckily, this wonderfully nice couple with 2 children who were at the front of the line saw us, and flagged us to the front even though there were 6 of us. How nice of them... seriously, they did not have to do that and it showed true kindness that they would even think of helping us out in that manner. If it was not for them, we would not have made our flight. So then, we have to get to our terminal but the way they have the airport set up there is that you get off on the ground floor and then have to go up three floors to get to the terminals. Well, like I said, with two strollers this is a pain because we have to take an elevator. But, unlike in the states where you can just walk up to the elevator and ride it, in Munich, they lock the elevators and you have to find someone to open it for you. So after we successfully did this, we raced toward our terminal.

We were then stopped again at another checkpoint to have our passports checked again, just in case anything might have changed since the two security checks we had already been through. Once again it was another huge mass of people with no end in sight. Jeremy asked the lady at the front if she could let us bypass the line because we were going to miss our flight and luckily she let us. She called us up to the front so that was a blessing. So you would think we could actually go to our gate at this point, right? Well, about 100 feet later (literally, that is all it was), we were stopped at ANOTHER checkpoint to have our passports checked AGAIN! Seriously?! And then, after all that, we made it to the gate.

At the gate, we went up to the counter with our strollers and three kids and asked if we could preboard as a family. The woman said yes. This did not happen. There was no preboarding. They just called everybody all at once and once again, a massive rush of people we faced! So we just kind of pushed our way forward with the strollers and made it through. We then rounded the corner to find that we had another 3 flights of stairs to go down if we wanted to board the plane. The elevator was of course locked but this time, there was nobody there to unlock it. Jeremy made his way back up to the gate check to only be told that we did not ask ahead of time to use the elevator (ummm, didn't we go up there with all the kids and strollers ahead of time) so we would not be able to use it and we would have to get all our bags, all our kids (2 of whom don't walk) and all our strollers down the stairs or escalators ourselves. At this point, we were just in shock at the level of incompetence we were facing at this airport and the lack of any sort of humanity that the employers had. This place was crazy! I can't even begin to describe just how crazy it is there. Oh, and if you want to buy a bottle of water or any snack or anything for that matter once you get through the FOUR security checkpoints, you have to show your passport and boarding pass to the cashier and write down your address. Seriously, no joke! So that was Munich.

Once we were on board with Lufthansa it was great. Lufthansa is a great airline and we were really impressed with the comforts of the plane and the friendliness of the staff. Very impressed. We were able to get the bulkhead seating on this flight (something we could not do on our way there) thanks to my father in law making phone calls from the states for us. We wanted this seating so Brooks and Sasha could have the infant bassinets they provide. These were wonderful! Sasha loved his and slept almost the entire flight. Brooks was a wee bit scared of his at first but then realized it was a pretty sweet place to sleep so he relented. We made Heath a bed on the floor under our feet (we did this on the way over as well), so he could have a place he could stretch out and sleep comfortably (well, as comfortable as a floor can be). It was a long flight, over 8 hours, but it went very smoothly and was quite comfortable for everyone.

When we were about 15 minutes outside of Chicago, making our descent, we hit a bunch of turbulence and the plane was jostled all about. It was making a lot of people sick. Oh, if you don't want to read about vomit (I mean, how can I have a travel post without vomit, LOL) then I suggest you skip this paragraph because it's pretty gross. Brooks was on my lap and he started crying and then all of a sudden he puked. I was able to catch it once again (just like our flight over there) in my hand and then the flight attendants who were sitting right there in front of me, rushed over with paper towels and puke bags. I got it all in there and waited for more vomit. Meanwhile, I myself was not feeling well and kept trying to tell myself that I was not going to throw up. I mean, I really cannot remember the last time I had gotten sick on a plane. But, no such luck on this day. As I am waiting for Brooks to puke again, I start throwing up in a bag. Right as I start doing this, Brooks starts massively puking everywhere! So here I am, throwing up in a bag with a toddler on my lap throwing up everywhere and I can't do anything about it because I am sick as well. And to top it off, we were landing so the flight attendants were not allowed to get out of their seats to help. So they were just throwing me a bunch of paper towels and bags to try and help but it was everywhere. It was all over me, it was all over Brooks and let me tell you, it was not fun. We were not the only ones throwing up either, the row behind us was throwing up, a few people behind them were and Ami was not doing too well either (she escaped any vomit though). When the plane landed, we let everyone get off first while I tried to clean up. The flight attendants were great. They felt so bad and brought me a whole box of warmed up wipes and all sorts of things to clean up. They were very sweet and I really appreciated their kindness.

We then had to get everybody and everything off again and take another elevator down to customs. I was still not feeling well and thought at any moment that the vomiting may return. We had to wait in a huge line for customs and then go to another area after that because of the adoption. After we got through all of that, we started racing toward our gate because we were on the verge of missing that flight as well. We got stopped in security though because of all of Sasha's baby food. We had about 6 jars left because he eats a lot and we had to be prepared. They had to take each individual jar and put it in a special box to get analyzed... one... at... a... time. And each time, it took about 2 minutes and the machine kept breaking down and not working so they were trying to reboot it after ever couple of jars. Halfway through, Jeremy found the supervisor to inform him that we were going to miss our flight. He looked up our information and said that no, we were not going to miss our flight that was scheduled to take off in 17 minutes because it had been cancelled! What?! Yep, cancelled! And there were no other flights going to Omaha that night.

So there we were. We had been traveling with three small children for about 15 hours, it was 9 pm and we were stuck in Chicago. United would not help anybody and sent everyone on that flight to the airports customer service which was 500 people deep. Seriously! We would have been in that line for hours. So, we decided to rent a car and drive the 7 hours back to Omaha because all the flights to Omaha the next day were booked as well so we would have been stuck in Chicago for at least two days. We could not believe all of this was happening when we had gone through so much and we only had one, 2 hour flight home. That's it. We were so close.

So at 11:30 pm, we finally had a van rented (thanks to my father in law making a bunch of calls), with three car seats that I installed and were ready to head out. It was stormy, very stormy with lots of rain and lighting and we were all exhausted. None of us had slept in 17 hours! It was not a good situation. And poor Sasha, he had been such a trooper up until that point but finally, after 17 hours, he broke down when he got strapped in the car seat (they do not use these in Serbia so he had never been in one before and I am pretty sure it was hurting his dislocated hip). We felt so bad for him. What an experience he had to go through! I cannot even begin to imagine.

Ami drove a bit but was too tired so Jeremy took over. She stayed awake to make sure Jeremy would stay awake and I tried to take a nap so I could drive next. I dozed on and off for a couple of hours and then Jeremy was just too exhausted to continue. So then I took over and Ami stayed up as copilot. I drove the rest of the way home, about 5 hours, and it was HARD. I did not want to be driving. I was so tired but I knew we just had to persevere to get our family home. We then hit some pretty heavy fog for about 2 hours which was not fun. It was really hard to see and the defroster on the rental car was not working well and the windows kept fogging up. It was a really hard drive but… 27 hours after we left our apartment in Serbia with Dushin, we arrived home at 7:30 am and it felt SO good. So, so good to be home!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Day 17: We're Home!

After a very long 24 hours plus of eventful, unfortunately, rather than uneventful travel, we are home! After no sleep in those last 24 hours, I need to rest but will be posting soon about our adventures home. I just wanted to say though, that Sasha did SO great on the trip, he was amazing! Welcome Home To Your Forever Family Sasha, We Love You...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Day 16: Headed Out

In a couple of hours we are heading home... we can't wait! Belgrade has been wonderful but we miss our dogs and the comforts of home. Thank you for all your prayers throughout our adoption journey, they have meant so much to us. Good Bye Belgrade, thanks for giving us the greatest gift of all... Sasha Hunt James Toomey!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Day 15 Part 2: Jasmina

We are so grateful for Jasmina. What a blessing she is. She is a physician at the orphanage and has been our facilitator over here in Serbia for our adoption. She is a wonderful, wonderful woman who works so hard to better the lives of the children here in Serbia who do not have families. She works very hard at her job and you can tell, from the moment you meet her, that she has a deep love for the children and really, truly wants to help them. It is not just a job for her. It is her calling and she is a remarkable women. We feel very blessed to have her as part of our lives and hope that we will always remain a part of each other's lives through the years.

Jasmina loves Sasha so much and he loves her. It is so sweet to watch the two of them together. He just lights up when he sees her and she just lights up at the mention of his name. They have a very special relationship and we are so grateful that he has had her in his life for the last 19 months. Sasha has always been one of her favorites and she has told us, that from the beginning, she knew there was something very special about this clever little boy. She saw something different, something special and she just fell in love. I love to hear her tell this story (and when she does, she tears up just as I do) because this is exactly how I feel. From the moment I laid eyes on Sasha, I felt that he was very special and that he was going to make a very positive difference in this world while he is here. He is here for a reason... God did not make a mistake with him. God does not make mistakes. He is definitely here for a reason and he is indeed special in so many ways. It warms my heart to know that Jasmina and I both saw that from the very start. He has already brought so much joy to so many people's lives in his short 19 months, I cannot even begin to imagine what he is going to do in his lifetime and Jasmina feels the same way.

Every morning, she would arrive at the orphanage and go directly into Sasha's room to greet him. That was her morning routine every single day. She is going to miss him greatly but she knows that it is bittersweet because he is going to a better place. She is so excited for the life that he has ahead of him now with us... so, so excited. But she is going to miss her sweet Sasha dearly and I completely understand why. They have a very special connection that is so wonderfully beautiful to see.

Jasmina will always be a part of our lives. We want Sasha to know all about her and all about the love she gave him while he was here in Serbia. We want her to have the opportunity to watch him grow and one day, when he is a little older, we will bring him back to Serbia for a visit so they can reconnect.

Thank you Jasmina for all that you are and all that you do for the children in the orphanage. You are such a blessing and we are so fortunate to have met you and to not only have you as a part of our lives but to have you as such an integral part of our son's life as well. We feel honored that we can call you a friend. Sasha will always know you because we will tell him many stories and show him a lot of pictures. Thank you for loving our son while he was here. Thank you for seeing just how truly special he is. Thank you for seeing his potential even when all those around you couldn't. Thank you for pushing so hard to have him be available for international adoption. Thank you just does not seem enough for all that you have done. Sasha is so lucky to have had you as a part of his life and we cannot thank you enough for loving him the way you do. We will miss you but we will always stay in touch! All our love Jasmina!

Day 15 Part 1: Yummy Food & Farewells

Today we spent our last full day in Belgrade. I can't believe it is already time to go home. We have had a wonderful time in Serbia and hope to come back some day. Everyone has been so nice and welcoming to us and the city has been a lot of fun for us to explore, especially the bakeries. It will be so nice however, to get home and get back to our new "normal" routine. Heath can get back to his swimming and preschool, Brooks can get back to scooting all over the house and feeding the dogs their food (his favorite activity) and Sasha can begin to adapt to his new home life. It will be nice to be home. We really miss our dogs and the comforts of home.

For our last day, we ventured out to the pedestrian zone again to purchase some last minute souvenirs and gifts. We then had a lovely Serbian meal outside in the zone (btw, I love Kajmak, the white cheese in the center of the picture, mmm, so good) and headed home after with a gaggle of tired, crying children. While they were napping, Jeremy headed back that way to tour the Kalemegdan Fortress (something we all really wanted to do but it was just not possible with the stroller brigade we have become) and buy his souvenir billion dollar dinar note (back from when they were in an economic crisis in 1993). After that, we all rested at home and began the packing process.

After dinner, Jasmina stopped by to say one last farewell to us and to Sasha. We did not want to leave without seeing her again and we especially wanted her to see Sasha one last time before we left. It was so nice that she was able to come over.

The post is short tonight because we all have to rest up for our big flight tomorrow. Please pray that we will have a safe, uneventful trip home. We hope that Sasha will do well and not throw one of his major toddler tantrums while on the plane... that would definitely not be fun... for anyone. Like I said, we will definitely miss Belgrade but we our excited to get home.

Day 14 Part 2: Look Who Is Smiling More

Somebody is getting more and more comfortable by the day...

Day 14 Part 1: Sightseeing & Friendship

After a fun morning at the apartment we headed out for some sightseeing. Oh, and check out those Spidey Speedos on Heath! You know how Europeans love their Speedos so we couldn't resist buying him some here. After all the fun at home, we headed out to St. Sava Orthodox Church today. It is a beautiful, massive church that you can see from practically anywhere in the city. Those living in Belgrade are really proud of their church and it shows in the beauty of not only the church but the surrounding areas. St Sava is the largest Orthodox church in Eastern Europe so needless to say, it was pretty impressive. They are redoing the inside but it is still pretty spectacular. We bought Sasha a little mini St. Sava to have at home and when Heath saw it, he said that he really wanted one for his room as well. So we gave him 200 dinar and told him to go buy one from the gentleman that was selling one. He was so excited and he came running over with it saying, "I have my own St. Sava!". Very, very cute! Let's hope they survive the trip back to Omaha and that they do not break in our bags.

After St. Sava, we headed over to a nearby park so the kids could play a little and have a snack. Sasha just loves being in the stroller, if it is moving of course (stopping=crying). He is enjoying the sites of ever day life so much and it is really fun to see. He is such a sweetheart and really starting to come out of his shell. More laughs, more smiles, more babbling... we are just so thrilled. But back to the park, I have to say that Belgrade has some wonderful parks. They are everywhere for one but they are also very unique, each one has something different. The pics from this one show that cool wood wave feature the kids could run up and down on... very fun.

After the park, we had a quick lunch and then headed home. We had to get some naps in because we were going over to a family's home for a play date. The Richardson family are from Nashville but have been here for about a year while the dad does some work with the US Embassy. They have been such a blessing to us while we have been here and we hope to see them again when we are in the states. It was so wonderful to be able to go over to their house yesterday and let the kids play and have the chance to chat. It was a really nice afternoon.

We then raced home because Ami and I were meeting Jasmina for dinner. Jasmina, Jeremy and Ami went to a traditional Serbian folk dancing concert the night before (which they all loved and were quite impressed with) while I stayed back and put the kids to bed. So tonight, I had the chance to go out to a lovely dinner with Ami and Jasmina while Jeremy stayed back to put the kids to bed. Jeremy and I really wanted to take Jasmina and Ami out to a nice dinner to thank them both for all they have done for us during this adoption process. We ended up choosing a wonderful restaurant that was right on the water, literally we were floating on the water, that had a magnificent view of the Kalemegdan Fortress in the background. The restaurant sits right where the Sava and Danube rivers meet and the food was absolutely delicious. A very nice treat to have before we leave. We had such a lovely evening together (minus the 20 plus mosquito bites I sustained on my legs) and it will be so hard to say goodbye to Jasmina. She is such a wonderfully sweet women, who loves Sasha so much and who has done so much for the kids at the orphanage. We look forward to bringing Sasha back to Belgrade to see her one day because we always want her to be a part of his life.

After our 4 hour dinner (ahhh, so nice) we headed home to a family fast asleep and the knowledge of knowing just how blessed we are.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Day 13 Part 1: Guess Who's A US Citizen?

Today was a big day for Sashi Bashi... he became a US citizen. His visa was approved! And we think he knows... he has been chatting more since we came back from the embassy and he can't stop smiling. He must know that today was a VERY big day! We love you Bashi!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Day 12: Your Prayers Were Heard

Your prayers were heard!!! Thank You! Sasha slept the entire night last night! No joke, the entire night! He fell asleep around 8 pm and did not wake up until 4:30 am. I then fed him a bottle and within 30 minutes, he was back soundly asleep until 8 am! What a wonderful night that was. And, he was so well rested today which was such a blessing. He was happy and smiling more because he was not so exhausted and stressed. Then he took a 2 hour nap in his crib today as well with no fussing. We are SO proud of him.

I had to laugh though because last night, he was finally sleeping well and after about 2 hours, we were hit with a huge thunderstorm. It was SO loud! We have loud thunderstorms where we live all the time but this was the loudest I have ever heard and he didn't even wake up. Even though he slept well, Jeremy and I didn't. I think we were both so ready for the screaming to start at any moment that we remained tense for the entire night. Plus, Heath chose last night as his only night to be really fussy. So, that was all quite comical but our goal in the end was to have Sasha get a good night's sleep and he did. Thank you for your prayers! Please keep him in his prayers so he can rest up and get healthy.

Sasha loves to go out and explore the city in the stroller. We just wish it wasn't so hot outside so we could do it more. He has been a champ in the heat though. He was constantly sweaty and overheated at the orphanage but since we have had him at the apartment, his temperature has regulated itself. He doesn't look as sick or stressed and that is such a great thing, for us as parents, to see. Even when we go out in the 90 degree heat, he has been doing so well. He just loves to hang out and look at all that is going on around him. It is pretty amazing to witness this whole new world opening up for him. He is just such a sweetheart and we are just so thankful that everything came together so that we were able to adopt him. He has such an amazing life ahead of him that no longer involves spending almost all his waking hours in a crib.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Day 11: We Ventured Out

It was still very hot today, but not as bad as yesterday when it was 97 degrees. It was still in the 90's but with the cloud cover and slight breeze, it felt much cooler. So, this afternoon, we were actually able to venture out for awhile which was SO nice. It is really hard being cooped up in the apartment all day so having the ability to venture out was a special treat.

There was a Belgrade Food Festival going on at the Kalemegdan Fortress, so we went there. It is only about a 15 minute walk away and it was really funny because normally, Belgrade is a city just bustling with people but today, with Serbia playing in The World Cup, the streets were deserted. Literally. The only place you really saw anyone was at a restaurant that had a television. So, when we arrived at the food festival, it was pretty mellow but shortly thereafter, the game was over and there were people everywhere. It was really hot and suddenly got very overwhelming for Sasha, so we headed out quite quickly. We were going to eat down there but with all the chaos and the heat, we actually stopped at the fancy Pizza Hut on the way home because it was air conditioned. The staff was very nice and the food was very good so it was worth the stop, especially for the cool air. Jeremy and Sasha actually headed back to the apartment because Sasha, as of now, does not like to go out to eat. Jeremy said he did very well back here and had a nice dinner of chicken and vegetable baby food.

As for the sleep situation... I have a feeling the entire apartment building does not like us. Sasha does not just cry when it is night, he screams. And when I say scream, think of a full on toddler tantrum, literally all night long. No joke. It starts shortly after he goes to bed and he continues until about 5:00 am, at which time he finally falls asleep for a few hours. We have tried everything we can think of to comfort him and nothing, absolutely nothing works. It is like having a newborn, a colicky newborn, who just can't be comforted. He wakes up either in pain or scared (we can't really tell at this point but something continually wakes him up in a startled way) and then once he realizes where he is, he gets really mad and throws a full on fit... for hours! I have never seen anything like it. We never had colicky babies so this is new territory for us.

We try staying close to his crib so he knows we are there but not bothering him so he has his space. It does not work. We try sitting right next to his crib with our hands on him or rubbing his head gently. It does not work. We try singing to him. It does not work. We try holding him. It does not work. We try walking with him. It does not work. We try co-sleeping with him. It does not work. Pretty much anything you can think of, we try and guess what... it does not work. So if anyone has any suggestions or has dealt with this before, either email me or leave a comment. We would be so grateful for any new ideas at this point. Anything.

Tonight, we put him to bed in the crib with everyone out here doing their nightly routine and he fell right asleep, no crying. We did this last night as well however and within 30 minutes he was screaming because he was startled awake. It is like he never gets into a deep sleep and this is a big problem. After he fell asleep, we turned everything off and everyone went to bed except for me because I wanted to finish this post. I hope and pray that he will stay asleep but I do not have my hopes up. I really don't. So please say some prayers for little Sasha to help him get through this huge transition period in his life and to help him with any sleep issues or pain he may be experiencing. Thank you so much.

Other than the sleep thing, he is doing great! Today was a little harder for him. He seemed a little sadder and it was hard to coax a smile out of him. I think the honeymoon period is wearing off for him and he is missing all that he left behind. It is a big transition for this little boy and I cannot even imagine what he is going through but for the most part, he is truly handling it very well. He loves playing with all his new toys (especially Hungry Hippo, which he has totally mastered), he loves all the attention he is getting from his brothers, he LOVED going in the stroller today and looking at everything... as long as we didn't stop. The minute the stroller stopped he would start crying. We were told that he is stubborn, and oh boy, is he ever. I think that will be a positive personality trait for him however... it will definitely help him to get through the struggles in life.

So that was our day. Another day as a family of five. We love our three boys... they are all so sweet, so cute and we feel so blessed that we are their parents.