Monday, December 17, 2012

Meeting the Buns

Where to begin?

I feel like about 1 year of time has passed in the last 24 hours.  At least.  This morning James and I went to Target at 8am when it opened and we had already been up for 4 hours.  FOUR. HOURS.  And it felt like the day should be over.  If you want a way to slow down time in your life, have I found a solution for you!  (Let me add here, that if you find any typos or grammatical errors - bully for you.  I'm tired.)

It was a roller coaster of emotion.  Extreme emotion.  On one extreme we have me sitting comatose on a bean bag at 7pm last night just staring at the children running around and thinking, "I can't do this.  I understand why the woman sent that child back to Russia on a plane."  And I simultaneously hated myself for thinking it.

On the other extreme of the roller coaster I was feeling my heart fill up and overflow with love as Dana opened her little stuffed Dog on the floor of the airport and then looked up and for the first time split her face open with the biggest smile I've ever seen as she hugged it to herself.

Let me back it up.  Yesterday.

This is going to be long, so if you aren't up for it or you have somewhere to be, you should stop now and walk away from the computer.  Alright.

Story 1:   The Police Officer
We all waited at the customs exit for our children.  Finally our group came out.  It was endearing to see the little group of kids all huddled together.  One darling little boy in a wheelchair.  Some looked excited, some hid behind adults, all were curious.  We waited as different families were introduced to their groups.  I kept looking for our 3, but couldn't find them anywhere.

Finally our P143 group leader pulled a little boy over our way and introduced us to the oldest - Sasha.  (excuse any Russian spellings for the rest of time in this blog - I have no idea.)  He was nervous, but we hugged his neck anyway and handed him a present.  All the while wondering where the other two were. 

Finally number two came along: Dana.  Carried by a cop.  She was clinging to his neck and crying at first, then just clung to him.  Apparently she had run off (great news - a sprinter!) and been found by this cop.  He returned the crying child.

At this point, I think Sasha started to get concerned that his little brother wasn't there.  Turns out, no one knew where he was but they suspected he had blended in to another host group at the airport.  We tried not to panic that he was lost, and finally about 10 minutes later he came sailing up.  All smiles and not concerned at all.  He hugged us readily and as we tried to hand him his present he waved us away as he chattered and tried to pull open his tiny little knapsack.  Inside he yanked out three colored pencils and gave them to us.  Our gift.  Odd, but super endearing and sweet.

Once he handed them off he relaxed, gave us a big grin and tore in to his gift.  He was VERY excited about his dinosaurs (thank you Laura and Mason!) and glove pet.  I should also mention that our sad little Dana showed us her first giant smile when she opened her present.  As she saw the little doggie she looked up at us with this huge light in her eyes and the biggest grin and she immediately started playing with it right on the floor of the airport.  100% entertained.  It was at that moment that I lost it a little.

Out little lost sheep were finally rounded up, we noted carefully that we had runner on our hands and gripped hands tightly...until we got off the tram and crossed a busy road to the airport.  At this point, Aloysia slipped free and decided to just run RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET without even bothering to look left or right.  I screamed, but I was holding one child and a piece of luggage and James had his hands full so we could only watch helplessly as he dodged traffic better than any game of frogger I have ever witnessed.

Worst foster parents ever kill child before they even leave airport.  That is the headline.  And that leads us to story two.  (Note: these stories are not in chronological order.)

Arriving Home:
The kids had conked out in the back of Andrea's car on the way home from the airport, but once they entered the house they suddenly came alive like they had just downed 10 redbulls.  And who knows what they had in their pockets.  Honestly.

They ran up and down our two flights of stairs and in and out of every room with glee.  Screaming and...running.  I'm sure our neighbors loved it.  What I loved most was how Dana in her mad running actually tumbled head over heels all the way to the bottom of staircase #2.  Best part?  She did it again 5 minutes later on staircase #1.  And lay there for about 5 seconds like a broken rag doll while I prepared my second headline about foster parents killing two of three children in first night.  She bounced right up again though, and continued screaming and running like nothing happened.  Truthfully, I'm a little worried at their lack of response to pain.  It makes me wonder if they have been conditioned to not get care when they are hurt - or negative attention.

And this was one of the many times I learned that this was going to really suck for a while.  Because if you tell someone who speaks Russian to stop running down stairs in English, they don't really get it.  Or care.  And it's super hard to explain to someone why you are punishing them by putting them in time out or time in can't.  And your punishment makes no sense.  And probably doesn't even seem like a punishment.  Which is why they are still running down the stairs.  Sigh.

First Airplane Ride with Children:
I've watched others do this and felt sad for them.  Cause it looks horrible, and everyone on the plane pretty much hates you.  Fair or not, it is true.  We got super lucky.

We took a whole row with the Sash at the window on one end, followed by Aloysia, followed by me, and then across the aisle a lovely and friendly and HELPFUL LDS woman (convenient!) who didn't mind us at all, followed by James, with the lovely Dana at the other window.

The boys were surprisingly good.  I guess it helped that they just flew across the ocean and knew the drill.  Dana was another story.  She was wriggling like a Mexican jumping bean and was stretched with her feet all the way to the woman by James to her seat, with her head hanging over the edge of the seat.  She used all the magazines in the seat as stuffing for the space between the window and window shade, and then took all three barf bags and stuffed them over her feet.  I will admit that I frequently turned to look at James...and laugh.  He was a good sport to take her.

Here are a couple highlights from the flight.  Apart from the window stuffers.  Dana got a bloody nose mid flight and every time James put a tissue to her nose to plug it...she blew!  Hard!  And it killed any clotting and just started it flowing more.  James is left holding her, about 5 blood soaked tissues in his hand, and a confused and frightened face.  Welcome to parenthood.

The kids had been traveling and not sleeping for about 14 hours or more and it was about 11pm their time when they totally zonked out about 20 minutes before landing.  I mean just sacked out.  Except Dana.  She was spread eagle over James and his neighbor who was pleasantly smiling at Dana as she struggled to get past her and in to the aisle.  His neighbor was preventing her exit because we thought she just feel down the aisle in the fashion we were growing used to.  When Dana realized this escape wasn't going to happen she just started crying and looking hopelessly at me with outstretched arms, sobbing, "Mama, Mama."  I'm a sucker, I said let her go.

She climbed on my lap and sank her head against my chest with her arms tight around my neck and then released herself to blissful slumber.  Good think I haven't worked through my back problems- I think this kid solution might be the secret medicine I need.

As we landed James and I tried to figure out how we were going to get off the plane and to the curb.  We decided that James would take all the luggage and I would somehow get the kids.  Dana would NOT release my neck, so with her dangling from me, I tried to wake the other two.  Each time I shook one and went on to the next, the first one fell asleep again.  Finally I lifted one of them up to stand on his seat and he never opened his eyes ONCE.  He just stood there.  Asleep.

More desperate shakes and I finally got them all in coats, got all their little animals and knapsacks and dragged them off the plane.  I walked through the entire airport with Dana literally dangling to my neck  with her face pressed firmly against mine (I don't exaggerate when I say death-vice-grip) and trying to drag Aloysia behind me by the hand.   We made it.  I don't know how people do this, I really don't.

I will add though, that when I heard her crying for mama, and I heard Alyosia looking at James and crying "Baba, Baba" with arms open that it made me a lot more willing to walk a couple miles with a deadweight child hanging from my neck.

Secret to getting your kids to eat:
I've seen a lot of parents struggle to get their kids to eat.  I've got it - and it only took me one meal to figure it out folks.  We went to Wendy's at the airport and I got a frosty.  They got kids meals.  I took the nuggets and dipped them in the frosty and they ate EVERY nugget.  No joke.   I'm not going to save this secret for my how to be an awesome parent book either - just call it a freebie.

I want to add that since then James and I truly have been impressed by however and whoever trained them.  They clear their own plates after dinner, and they eat whatever is on their plate.  Some whining by one of them, but pretty darned good.

Now, let me sum up last night through tonight because heaven only knows when I'll be able to write again.  Last night - tears.  This morning - tears.  On the phone to my family - tears.  On the phone to Kristin - tears.  To the tutor I hired - tears.  To the kids after the tutor - tears.  To Kristin when she came over to meet the kids - tears.  And let's call a spade a spade, these are sobbing tears.  Yes, I am out of my league.  But James is my savior.  He has been a champ.  Patient with the kids, energetic, hopeful and loving.  He is rocking this - and I'm glad someone is.

Let me just say.  I was not prepared for all the feelings AND for how hard it would be.  And as you may remember, I was kind of imagining hard before this started.  I should have spent less time preparing bunk beds and more time preparing myself.  By learning Russian for one.  That google translate app sucks.  S.U.C.K.S.  When it actually works (which is impossible when a child talks in to it) it takes an hour to process and we sit there looking at each other just waiting.  So that we can hear the words, "I'd like a drink."

Which leads me to a couple break throughs.  In the car today Alyosia kept repeating this word over and over.  And since they talk all the time and we have no idea what they are saying, we ignored it.  Until James finally typed it in to his iphone and realized it meant drink.  This kid could die of thirst before he ever got one!

Same thing the night before when Dana wanted to go to the bathroom.  I thought she was breaking our rule to go upstairs.  So I ran after her to stop her, brought her back down and then turned around to see Sasha taking her upstairs.  I was fightin' mad, until I saw him showing her the bathroom and helping her take down her pjs.  Oh - more tears.  I don't ever know when the kids want to go to the bathroom and I prevent them.  I suck.

So this is hard.  Thank goodness for those shining Baba/Mama moments that help us keep going, cause even with them it's hard to want to at times.  And I'm terrified because tomorrow James goes to work.  And I'm alone.  So that's it - I'd write more, but it's about that time for me to cry.  And I'd hate to fall behind!

With all this said, I do think it will be fine.  I know this.  It's just hard to now.  help.


  1. I remember thinking once, "Hm, I never knew James and Shauri knew Russian!" Then a few days ago, I suddenly realized ... wait, they don't. You guys are amazing. Prayers headed your way!! Love you!!!

  2. One day at a time. They are darling! And so lucky to have you and James. Sure love all of you!

  3. Shauri you rock!!! Seriously-R.O.C.K. Hang in there!

  4. Love ya. Reading this makes me so happy for you. Remember that time in the Outer Banks when dad said, "Look at Amy. When she had her first kid everything was overwhelming. Now she has four and it seems like nothing phases her." You gotta go through the here to get to the there, and you will be so amazing. What lucky kids. What a fun family!

  5. Oh my darling friend, Shauri. You are a beautiful, beautiful soul. As is James. I will pray extra hard for you. I wish I could swing by tomorrow and help out in any way, but I will pray. Hard. But I know you've got this. Give yourself a few days of the unknown and soon things will start to feel known and familiar. You've got this in the bag. :) Oh and you've learn the first law of word can melt the heart...mama. Every time. :) I love you. xoxo

  6. Shauri, you're amazing. No doubt this isn't going to be an easy road. I've been in many similar situations, and let me tell you, even with English speaking children they don't always listen or care what you're saying - so there is that. The kids look sweet, sound well behaved, and more than anything are lucky to have you and James as "parents". My thoughts and prayers are with you. Seriously, get some sign language DVD's. You'll pick it up fast, and you'll know just what they want in no time. I've used it with all of my kids before they could speak and it works wonders. Mark. my. words. "Signing time". You won't be sorry. :-) Sending lots of love and prayers your way. XOXO Love you!!

  7. I'm incredibly happy for and proud of you! Regardless of what you think, you're doing great.

  8. I love Dana's chubby little cheeks, and, honestly these stories are very endearing. I want to wrap each of them in a big bear hug. I love you.

  9. I have shed many of those tears with my blended famiky of 7 children. All that I know for sure is that showing and telling them you love them is the most inportant ingedient. Hugs, kisses, and back scratches at bedtime are my favorite... and it doesn't require any Russian.

    Thanks for making this world a better place...especially for your three buns.