So today is a national holiday in Russia. Before we left the US, our agency representative mentioned that June 12th was Independence Day. Today we got in the car with Sasha and Natasha and I said “Happy Independence Day!” I quickly found out that to Russians, today is not about independence it is about being “Russia.” I guess that today was the day after the fall of the Soviet Union when several territories declared independence from Russia…so I was thankful that Natasha explained the meaning. Also, we quickly found out that today is more about Russia playing Poland in the Euro cup tonight! The game starts in a few minutes and it is all the buzz around town. We also heard there might be fireworks after “dark” but that will have to be after 11:00 or 11:30 p.m. so I am not sure we will make it for that. I thought I would share some pictures of the airport in Kaliningrad and our hotel…since this is becoming a journal of sorts for us.
Okay, on to the girls. We had the same schedule today. We are getting a little over two hours each visit with both of the girls. We started out the morning with Lil Sis. We brought some clothes to try on her so we started out with that. I brought a size 8 shoe and it is pretty big, so I am thinking we will bring back size 7 for her in July. Also, 3T clothes seem to fit pretty good, although a pair of jeans were too big, but 3T leggings were fine. I am sure it will depend on the clothes, but overall I feel 3T will be good and even some 2T this summer. She really liked her new shoes and even though they were big, she wanted to wear them. At the end of the visit I was going to take the shoes back with us, but she immediately put them in her “locker” so I let it go and figured if they reminder her of us, it is a good thing.We headed outside for our visit. It was drizzling at first so we went inside their outside greenhouse thing. We colored and did puzzles. Soon the other children all came out and before we knew it we had a swarm of kids around us vying for crayons to color and playing with the puzzle. We were very happy that Lil Sis did well sharing her coloring book and crayons and the other children playing with her puzzle, etc. Thankfully, our Sasha and Natasha came to rescue us after a short while and we were able to get away again with Lil Sis. She was much calmer today and really just enjoyed being held and cuddled. I probably walked around holding her and had her on my lap facing me for 30 minutes or more. It was the best feeling. She and Brett had good interactions too. We got her to say “bubbles” in English. She did well when we said good-bye upstairs. I got to help her get her outside layers off and after hugs she was off to her lunch spot .I love the moments we are playing with the girls, but I also love the moments even more where we are just being together…since this will be so much of what being a family will be about.
During our lunch break, we ventured to a new restaurant. It was pretty good. They didn’t have English menus (which is common) so we just ordered by the pictures. Brett got a salmon salad and I got some beef salad and then we shared cold beet soup (with hard-boiled eggs in it) and potatoes. It was all good.
This afternoon we headed back to see Big Sis. We were hoping that she would be more open again from the beginning, but this was not the case. She took less time than yesterday, but she still was very unresponsive for awhile and we had some hard moments in the visit…but many good ones too. They had her dressed up in nicer clothes with gold shiny shoes. She loved the shoes and when I tried to try on her new shoes, she really didn’t want to (although she did it). The shoes were a 10 and they were also big. I am thinking 9 for her also. The 4T jeans were really loose, but the length was pretty good. The 3T jeans were still loose but a little short.
We played stickers, ball and read. Also, two times I helped her go to the bathroom. She was successful both times and again I am thankful to get to help “take care” of her. Our time outside with her was a little hard. A lot of children were out and when we tried to do bubbles we had them all around us. Then we spent a lot of time chasing her around or having her go from one thing to the next with us trailing behind. It made me nervous how high she was swinging, but she loved it. Then she climbed up this ladder thing way up high and I was a wreck, but she made it down with Brett supporting her. At the end of our outside time, she did let me hold her for awhile and she seemed content to cuddle. Inside, we all sat together and did Leap Frog and read a book. She was cuddling with me at the end and didn’t really want to get up when it was time to go.
When we went back to her section she changed into her regular clothes and I got to help her. We wish that they wouldn’t really dress her up for us because we want her to know that we love her just because and not because of how she looks or how she is dressed. At the end of the day, we continue to have peace that these girls are God’s gift to us, but we also realize that it will not be easy and that we will have hurdles to overcome with both of the girls. We are so thankful for God’s wisdom, peace and the love and encouragement of our sweet friends and family.
Well, the soccer game is on and I think we might venture out for a walk. It is 10:00 p.m. and completely light outside.