Monday, February 28, 2011

Leigah's new name

Leigah would like to share her new name with you!!!

Isn't she sweet!!!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Weekend Update!

We got up Saturday morning and straightened the apartment and left at 12:15pm to meet Yuri, Duane & Paula Chaffin's son, they are adopting. We met at McDonald's and ate lunch (he actually just got a caramel sundae & a sprite). Then we headed down the street to the #11 Tram. This particular tram takes you to the North end of town and all the way to the zoo. It was nice to learn "how to" use the tram and Yuri was a great teacher. When we told Yuri that we were nervous to ride the Tram, (meaning we were nervous because we didn't know how to do it or where to get off or how much) Yuri looked at us and laughed and told us, "not to worry or be nervous because it goes slow and we won't get hurt." This of course, made us crack up laughing

We saw all the normal animals at the zoo but many were penned up in warmer enclosures, which was perfectly fine with us. The Giraffes were incredible, and the tigers were beautiful. The most impressive thing for the kids to see were not the lions, tigers or bears (oh my!) but the spiders and snakes, of all things. This Giant Stick Bug was ginormous and we had Leigah put her hand up so everyone could compare it in size.

We hung out next to these lovely furry, creatures! Bleck! I'm not a spider fan but the kids were so... we stood for what seemed like an eternity!

Back to the tram, it was so easy!!! It was so easy, that for fun tomorrow, we are just going to get on a tram and ride it until it comes back to the place we started. It sounds weird but until you're here and you don't speak a lick of Latvian to save your life, will you realize how something like getting on a tram is scary. :)

Today (Sunday) we got up and found a church with an english speaking service. It was less than a ten minute walk from the apartment and went really well. We arrived early and got to visit with a few of the members before the service started and a lady asked if Brenna would like to read one of the scriptures. Public speaking isn't one of her favorite things to do but without hesitation she said, "Oh Joe wouldn't mind." You gotta love it when your spouce volunteers you for things. But I have volunteered her enough that I will never be able to object when she returns the favor. Following the service we stayed around and visited. We met one lady from Canada whose husband is the Canadian Ambassador to Latvia. All the people we met were really great. We were also blessed to hear a Latvian Girls Gospel Choir. They sang 4-5 songs in English and did an amazing job.

After church we went to eat at Lido's and purposely tried things that were Latvian style dishes. They really weren't so bad. After lunch we came home and took a nap. While I wss napping Leigah watched "Alvin and the chipmunks." Leigah worked on her knitting and is almost done with her 3rd scarf. We may start taking orders for our adoption. Maybe that'd be a good project in September/October.

Anyway, for dinner we ate popcorn and "Zupa"(soup); we worked on flashcards and did crafts.

All in all it was a great weekend. Thank you for following our blog and God bless you.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Let me introduce you to...

Some of our favorite foods in Latvia (I'll post more later):

yummy black currant syrup (for pancakes)

Cookies: Kinda like Oreos (not as good but close) with Strawberry center

Yogurt: It's pourable and super yummy! If I could figure a way to bring it home, I would!!

My favorite Latvian girl:
Leigah Allana Friend

with my favorite man!

Modeling her new scarf. She's such a happy girl!

Ready to go out into the 15 degree weather yet she is still so happy! I made a crochet flower to put on her hat to match her scarf. Isn't she beautiful!!!!!

We walked to LIDO, a restaurant that is all over Riga. There are actually 7 of them you can go to. We will go to the largest one sometime next week. You have to take the tram to get there and we have yet to be brave enough to try. One adopting family made it a challenge to go to every LIDO; we decided we'd rather try to go to all 7 Cili Pica's while here. Leigah said she preferred the Pizza over LIDO but it was still good. It's a buffet and it's all you can eat but you pick your food first and then pay for what you got. No returns to the line unless you have money in your pocket. It was super busy when we went and slightly overwhelming because we had no idea what to expect and Leigah started to get overwhelmed. These pictures are the buffet food lines. There are small kiosks in the middle with drinks and fruit salad bars. Desserts were at the front of the buffet, which I think is a grand idea.

Liga also finished the first puzzle, that we have been working on since she came to stay with us last Friday. She also started and finished the second puzzle with ease.

Joe has always had a knack for embarrasing the ones he loves. Being in a foreign country hasn't changed him - everytime we pass by a building/shop that has music playing, he looks to Leigah & me and says "wanna dance?" Of course, that would be so embarrassing and we both say NO! But last night at the apartment we found one of our songs from our wedding on youtube and played it. Joe & I danced long enough to make Leigah want to join in. it was such a sweet moment. I video taped it but I couldn't upload the video.

She has been camera happy, too. We brought a cheap digital camera and I thought the right batteries but when Joe & Leigah tried to get it ready, we realized they were the wrong size. At the grocery store the other day we found AAA batteries and put them on the counter to purchase. You should have seen the smile on Leigah's face; she knew they were for her camera and right there she started hugging us both and kissing our cheeks & telling us I love you, thank you! She is so appreciative of even the small things. There are no issues of entitlement (so far) or struggles with being ungrateful.

I know we will have issues that arise but this trip has been "easy" so far. She is laid back, just like us and she just rolls with the punches. Some days we start to get bored but she'll just knit; or work on a puzzle or color. Having 3 weeks bonding time is a long time but we have done our best to fill the time. Usually we leave the apartment to "kill time"!!!!

Tomorrow we are headed to the zoo with Yuri. Yuri is the to-be-adopted son of our friends Duane & Paula Chaffin. We are meeting him at McDonalds for lunch and then off to the zoo. He speaks English very well and was excied that we were going to take him to the zoo. We'll also be bringing gifts from the Chaffin's to give him and his foster mom, Natalia.

Well, more tomorrow!

Tips for future Latvian travelers...

To all our followers ~ this post is for those that will be traveling soon to Latvia. If that's not you... I'd skip this post! Make sure you read the one from last night and we'll post again about our day, later!

This is as extensive as we could get. I'm sure we forgot something but I hope this helps you.

FYI: There are 4 English Speaking Churches in Riga. The Anglican (11am), Lutheran (10am) and Catholic (2pm); The Church of Christ is on the list but we never found times or address. Also, there is a tourism center right next door to The House of Blackheads in Old Town Riga. You can get a bunch of info/maps there. You'll also want a "Riga-in-your-pocket".

Money exchange: Super easy!!!! Exchange rates change but the process doesn't. As far as I know, there are no fees to exchange and if there are, they are low. We have exchanged 3 times so far. Even if you over exchange, you'll use it in the future. If you get in early enough, you can go to the nearest bank. If your arrive in Riga a little late in the afternoon, you can exchange at the airport (apparently the exchange rates aren't as good compared to a bank).

Things we brought that we haven't used ~ We've used everything we brought besides a few craft things but that was because of intrest.

Things we brought for entertaining:
puzzles (we brought 2 & she loved them) could have brought way more - the whole family can get involved; I made a craft box (cheap, 12x5x4 plastic from dollar tree) - filled it with scissors, paper hole punch, pencils, markers, crayons, pipe cleaners, fun-craft scissors, brass brads, deck of cards, tape, glue sticks, stickers, punching balloons (3/pack dollar tree); coloring books, easy readers, flashcards (our daughter speaks absolutely no English - Pre-K Alphabet, first words, shapes/colors) Pre-K to 1st grade workbooks; construction paper (we made a family quilt with a picture of every one in our family- she wrote their title in Latvian and I wrote their English name - Awesome idea I got from a book - she knows all their names & will know them when she first sees them). I also brought 2 skeins of yarn & a "knifty knitter" & 2 sets of knitting needles. Books for me & my hubby - for plane and down times when you need some alone time in the tub, in your room, restroom!
***Also, bring things that are self entertaining. Silence isn't bad! Your child will have to entertain themselves at home, they can't depend on you 100% for their entertainment. The knitting was a huge help, as well as the puzzles.

Medicines:They have a pharmacy "Meness" about every 3-4 blocks in Old Town. It's about the same in the rest of Riga. I have no idea about outside of Riga. If you plan on buying medicines here, you'll need to be able to google the translation. We brought Tylenol PM for the first few nights (jetlag - friend said it was the best & I agree), Sudafed (2 boxes) Advil, Tylenol, we asked our Dr. for a broad spectrum antibiotic for each of us, Any RX, Asprin, Dramamine (my hubby gets motion sickness but even if he didn't, I'd have brought it for Leigah - just in case). I brought a small first aid kit, as well!

Clothes:It's stinkin' cold here right now and you'll be able to watch temps before you come. We didn't bring a scarf but purchased one our 2nd day out because we desperately needed it. We had our winter coats, thick gloves and hats (I also have one of those ear wraps that also covers my forehead - I like better than hat, my hair isn't all over the place). Joe packed 3 pairs of Jeans & one pair dress pants. We were told ahead of time to not pack tan/khaki pants, apparently you'll stick out or are perceived as, well I dn't know but we didn't bring any. Joe also brought several sweatshirts and 5-6 T-shirts, socks & boxers. I brought 5 prs jeans, skirt & 1 pr dress pants. 4 hoodies, 6-7 shirts, lots of undergarments & socks. You can buy wool socks for cheap down at the market or street venders for fairly cheap if your socks aren't warm enough.

Shoes:if its still snowy/cold, the snow melts and it's all slushy, so you may want shoes that can stand up to that. But on the other hand, if it melts, it'll freeze over night, so you'll want shoes with traction. But if your like us, we walk everywhere. We probably walk 2-4 miles a day. You'll want shoes that are comfortable. so take all that into consideration. I also brought house shoes for all of us.

- We brought laundry soap and it lasted until yesterday, we bought more at Maxima (grocery store). It wasn't Tide, although that is available. I only paid
2 Lats ($4) for this stuff, but I'm gonna leave the remaining soap here at the apartment. I can live with the cheap stuff for 9 days.
*Body - You can purchase anything you might need; it may cost you more. We brought shampoo, conditioner, deoderant, hairspray, gel, razors, toothpicks, floss, Q-tips, bar soap & body wash. We bought a new bar of soap yesterday (Leigah is more familiar with the bar and prefers it)!

Things we didn't bring that I wish we would have: spatula (this apartment doesn't have one, so I use a fork to flip pancakes and grilled cheese sandwiches), spices, regular elmers glue, yo-yo, more self-entertainment toys/things.

Some other things our friends suggested we bring:
Walmart "green" reuseable bags - (we brought 3) you have to purchase grocery bags if you don't have them; if you do purchase them at the store here, bring them with the you next time.
Bubble Wrap - for breakable souvenirs
Duct Tape - in case suitcase breaks
mailing tubes - if you purchase prints/pictures

I'm sure there is more but that's all I can think of for now. Hope this helps!!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Masks come off

Regardless of how well you know the child you're adopting before hand when you actually go to pick them up, there is always a mask on. It isn't only the child that is wearing one, it is also the parents. These aren't always bad masks. You are both really excited and you are happy to see each other, in some cases for the first time.

These are masks with smiles a mile long. You relly want the child to like you and they really want you to like them. Sometimes these masks will only last a few days. But other times they might go a whole week or more. Eventually though, they will come off. It might be over a meal they don't like or someting they want to do and you have to put your foot down, it may even be over them not going to bed. When these masks come off you will finally see each other without the big smiles. This is why in country stays are so important. You will be forced to see each others, "other side", before you leave.

Today, I think we finally got to see Liga's mask come off. But it wasn't what I was expecting. She has been all smiles and very thankful for everything, but today it was as if she felt she could come out of her shell and really let it all hang out. She was so playful today. Excuse the crude analogy, but when you take an indoor dog out to the park and you take his leash off he goes crazy and runs in circles and is just really excited. That is how Liga was today!

We went to Cili Pizza again and worked on flash cards for about an hour after we ate. Then we walked to the Circus to see how much tickets were. (8 Lats or $16 a person). We quickly decided to go to the mall and just look at people and walk around. The market place here is really incredible. The price of everything is insane, but you really get a glimps of their culture. We then went to the grocery store and then back to the apartment. By the time we got back Brenna was in a lot of pain from all the walking (and a little grumpy) and even her mask came off today hehe. All in all it was a good day and it ended with us tucking Liga in and praying for her. And of course with Liga ending the day the same way she begins each day, with saying "I love you mommy and Daddy" about a dozen times. Which by the way NEVER gets old!

Here are some pictures from today!

Cili Pizza - my girls! Liga worked so hard on her flashcards. She has improved even since yesterday. Brenna asked her at dinner time to put the ketchup in the fridge and Liga completely understood and did it right away. WOW - She is so smart!!!

Freedom Monument: It's the way we find McDonald's (just kidding!)

Ducks are everywhere!! You often find older women feeding the birds. Everytime we see the ladies, I start singing, "Feed the birds, tuppens a bag..." Pigeons walk side by side with you!!

The Mall "Origo" is connected to the train station. The other two pics are the other side of the street from the mall. Busy streets, fast paced pedestrians and tons of fast moving vehicles (cars, trolleys & buses - we have yet to see a pickup)!

Today, Wednesday February 23 - we went to the US Embassy approved Dr. Caunes! She was a very nice lady and interacted well with Liga. She did a basic examination of Liga, as well as read over all her documents/medical history reports.

Here's what we were told:
Liga suffered from a hemorage (sp) at birth. She was the 2nd twin born at 30 weeks, weighing only 2.2 lbs. She was put into an orphanage for infants/children that will never be mentally capable of living on their own. In spite of that diagnosis, she thrived and improved as she got older. The Dr. said she will never be 100% mentally or socially. She said to not expect her to be a rocket scientist but to encourage the areas that she is gifted in - singing, dancing, sewing, home economics. while doing her exam, she noticed her thyroid was significantly enlarged and told us to seek out a Dr. as soon as we returned home. On the positive side she said that she is progressing physically, which says the thyroid my just be enlarged and not effecting her terribly. She said her biggest "handicap or invalidity" is her eyesight. It has not improved over the last several years but it hasn't gotten worse, so it may be stable for the time being. She said that Liga has learned how to cope with her issues and has turned into a useful person in society. She has exceeded anyone's expectations and is a very happy child.

Many of these things we knew before we even came here and when we were in court on Friday, they asked us if we still wanted her, even though she would have problems or she wasn't perfect. We decided long before we came that no matter the child we found when we arrived - she needed a Mommy & Daddy. End of story!!!! We know that God has paved the way for this adoption. She needs parents and we have the room in our hearts and home for her. Her siblings at home in America are excited to hug her and get to know her. They laugh with her on skype, they sing to each other, they tell each other that they love them. If that isn't God I don't know what is!!!!!!!!!!

On a less serious note: Liga is working on her 2nd scarf and we will finish it tomorrow. She is so proud of herself. It's a beautiful scarf and she loves to show it off! She also got to dance with Joe yesterday. She twirled around and couldn't stop smiling & giggling!

We also worked on "school stuff". She practiced writing her lowercase letters. The typically write in all caps. If they use the lowercase it's in cursive but they don't have a Y or a W, so we need to work on those.

She also went and got the phonics book with beginning sounds and words. I'm not as fond of the these cards because they don't have pictures. So... I have to demonstrate (somehow) or make a sound that relates to the card. We also worked on shapes, colors and numbers. She is doing very well. When she skyped with her foster family she was showing off all that she had learned in English! Her foster mom & brother understand and can speak a little english.

She has tried new foods, like grilled ham & cheese sandwiches, american pancakes & syrup, caramel popcorn and homemade chicken noodle soup. She likes most things and the few things she doesn't like, neither Joe or I like them.

Tomorrow is a lazy day. Usually afternoons are pretty laid back and relaxed.

We do have to pick a few things up at the store but we will knit, color, do some school work and work on our puzzle. She is so patient with the silly puzzle. Note: don't buy puzzle from Family Dollar or the Dollar Tree. They may be cheap but they don't hold together very well. You get what you pay for!!!! We will finish it but it's going in the trash when we are done!!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Day 4: Eating, shopping & the movies!

All our mornings pretty much start out the same. Liga wakes up at 8:30 and the shuffle of her slippers across the floor, wakes both Joe & me up. She walks in our room and says, " I love you!!!" and then sits on my side of the bed to give me a HUGE hug! Then I scoot over for her to snuggle next to me in bed for a few minutes, while my eyes continue to adjust. Then we go pick out her clothes and while she is changing, I fix her breakfast. We eat breakfast together and then start our day.

Today, as I said yesterday, we planned to go to the movies. We went online to see the movie choices and their times. The only appropriate choices were "Tangled" and "Gulliver's Travels". We have already seen Tangled and didn't feel right paying for a movie we've already seen. We left the apartment at 11:00 and when we arrived we decided to go to Cili Pica (Chili Pizza). It was wonderful and not expensive. We ordered a ham, mushroom and pickle pizza for Joe & Liga and I got a grilled chicken salad with yummy dressing, not the mayo-anchovie one that came with it! (Bleck)

After we finished eating we went into "Stockmann" store. On one half it's like Dillard's/Nordstroms/Macy's; on the other half it's a grocery store. It's the place to go if there are "American" foods you just can't live without. We bought Bisquick and syrup, carrots, rice & Joe had to get a package of Snickers bars.

The movie was a nice break in the middle of the dy. She enjoyed and laughed at all the funny parts. She said she could see the words okay. It was 3D, so we had lovely glasses on!

On our walk home at 3:30, we stopped at the mall. It's a 5 level, rectangular mall. On each level there's about 10-15 stores and one of them on the 4th floor has sewing/knitting supplies. We purchased 3 skeins of yarn for Liga to make more scarves.

As soon as we got home, she got out all the supplies and started again on another scarf. This one is different varieties of pinks and she keeps holding it up to her heart and saying "me like, you?"! So sweet. She takes pleasure in the small things.

We have definately learned that she gets hyped up if you give her any candy at night, even a small snack-size M&M's. Whew - she was wired at bedtime tonight! But she doesn't argue about bedtime, she loves to brush her teeth and she continues to smile from ear to ear at prayer time.

Tomorrow we will meet with Daina at 12:45 to go to the US Embassy Doctor. She will explain ALL the documents re: Liga's health history and current issues. It will give us a better picture of all that she will struggle with or how it will affect her as she gets older, either socially or academically. After being with her for 4 days, her biggest struggle continues to be her eyesight. It's obvious that her glasses only meet her needs for long distances but not even as far as I see. She needs bi-focals and maybe even a stronger Rx.

She is picking up on English very fast, at least the important words. When we asked the Social Worker what the thought we should do, she said the most important thing was helping her with learning English. She is engulfed in English with us and we are constantly asking her words. She knew the alphabet and how to count to 10 but she has learned to eat, to drink, zipper, wait, stop, up, down, face body parts, "oops", thank you, you're welcome, cup, knife, fork, spoon, many animal names, refridgerator, sink, and a few more. (you probably didn't want to know the extensive list)!

Just a random note: when we walk down the road, she won't talk (she has to constantly look at the ground to see), so we started kicking snowballs down the sidewalk and having her kicking them farther but today she thought it was funny to run up to them and squash them and say "Bye-Bye!" She laughed the entire walk home. When we got home she said "Whew, thank you!" I think we wore her out. hehe!!!!

Social Workers, Passports and lazy days....

I braided Ligs's hair the day before and when I pulled it down this morning, she said, "I have curly hair like mom!"

Daina and her son arrived at 9:45 for our visit with the social worker. She spent some time asking Liga a few questions. She also showed us on the map where to find more yarn for Liga to make more scarves.

The social worker looked at all the things we made together and all of our coloring. They were very impressed with how quickly Liga learned to knit and how far she has gotten.

We were told on Friday at Orphan Court that we would have 2 visits per week while we were here. But today, the social worker said she didn't need to see us again until Monday. They asked all the questions that we expected and a few more. One I found interesting is she asked if we went to church? We said no because we didn't think we would understand anything. But apparently there are many churches that hold English speaking services. She also showed us what churches hold such services, as well as how to get to a shop that has yarn available.

At 5pm Daina and Sandra picked us up at the apartment to take us to the passport office. They are open until 7!!! What gov't office is open until 7? Anyway, Liga had her picture taken for her new passport and Sandra (as her representative) signed all the paperwork. Her new passport will be ready on Friday. All the things that are needed for her to go home with us are almost done.

We came home and ate baked chicken and buttered pasta, with bread and fruit. An hour later, Joe asked if she wanted ice cream. A girl after her daddy's heart... YES, followed by a little dance. :)

Liga has worked really hard on this puzzle. She is able to pick a piece out of the box and then find it's place. Simply amazing with her eyesight.

We have plans to go to the movie on Tuesday. All the movies are in English with Latvian subtitles. We'll need to sit fairly close, so that she can see the subtitles.

Until tomorrow....

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday... A day of rest? Hmmmm....

Well, we all got up this morning around 8:45 and ate cereal or yogurt. As soon as we were done, Liga went and changed and sat down to continue her knitting. She is doing such a great job and seeks our approval as she makes it longer and longer.

I have done considerably well with the jetlag this entire trip until today, I was only up for an hour or so and hit a wall. I had to go to sleep or get sick. I went and took a 2 hr nap and felt awesome when I woke up. Ready for lunch!!!! Liga and I made scrambled eggs and sausage. We put some bread in the oven to toast it. We also had bananas and string cheese to complete the meal. After we ate well and cleaned up, we bundled up to head out for the afternoon.

When you head out in 20 degree weather you must cover all extremeties. Especially when you're walking for 25-30 minutes. We headed for some of the historical landmarks. We continued on to the Market area, which is an inside/outside market of everything.
The largest meat market I've ever been to in my life, as well as fruits/veggies, pastries, flowers, clothes, gloves/hats/scarfs and many items made of wood. We sample pomegranite and it was really good. We bought butter and spices.

At the donut shop, we were behind a very kind woman that spoke English and she explained what the process was. The lady at the spice counter spoke enough english to help me. We also have a Latvian/English dictionary and between her english and the book I bought dried onion, garlic and black pepper.

We left the market just after 4 because they start closing up shop. The walk back to the apartment was colder because the temps had dropped but we stopped in McDonalds to warm up. No, we didn't eat there again!!!! :) After we thawed out a bit, we decided we should stop at Maxima, the grocery store for some milk & chicken. We passed Double Coffee and decided that's where we'd have dinner. It's kinda like Starbucks/Panera Bread. We all had a wonderful meal and finished our shopping.

As soon as we got home, Liga instantly went back to her knitting. She has gotten so much done. She is about to finish but has stopped because is working on flash cards with her. It's almost 10pm and we will head to bed as soon as I'm done with this.

Tomorrow we have our first visit with the Social Worker and the interpretor. Relax afterwards until 5pm, when we head to get her passport paperwork done. I have no idea what to expect from the visit. All I know is that I love this little girl. She never tires of hearing us say "I love you". She is picking up on English faster than my Latvian. I hope the SW can see the connection we have already started and that only time can improve this.

photos from 1st two days together

Liga, her foster mom, Maija and foster brother, Valdis.

Liga and her foster mom, Maija. She was so excited for Liga to find a family.

All of us with Daina, the lawyer in the background. For all those that are headed to Latvia...You will love this woman. She is a blessing and a true joy to be around.

Joe & Liga Coloring our apartment art!!!

Liga and I made a "Family Picture Quilt". It has a picture of our immediate family, including the dogs, my parents and my sister and her kids. I had her write the Latvian word for their title (ie. sister, grandparent...) and I wrote their names. I'm hoping it will help her remember their names and learn their faces.

I taught Liga how to use the Knifty Knitter. Her eyesight is very bad, so she must look very close to everything, especially fine details.

She is very dedicated to her knitting!!!! In fact she didn't put it down for 2 hrs.

Liga loves to cook and to be a help. She helped me make meatballs and spaghetti for dinner.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Orphan Court and our first 2 days - sorry it's long!!!

Sorry we didn't post yesterday. It was such a full day that we were so tired after Liga went to bed that we went to bed. Ok, so here is the play-by-play!

We were picked up by Daina and her son @ 8:40 to head to the court. When we arrived we met our interpretor, a beautiful and tall girl that spoke amazing English (guess that's why she's an interpretor). We waited for all the Orphan Court ladies to take their places and then we were ushered into this room with a large table with 3 ladies, a social worker in chairs to our left and the secretary at a small table to the right. Daina, Joe, Interpretor and I sat in front of the large table. They asked all the questions Daina said they would ask. "Do we know and understand all of her medical history? Are we willing to help her with those conditions? What are our plans while here? What was our visit like the day before with Liga and foster family? They read all our rights and responsibilities and we accepted them. Then asked Daina if she had anything else - Yes, that we are able to see Dr. @ US Embassy next week to get a clear undestanding of everything in her medical notes. None of them felt confident or capable to speak about the terms used. So they agreed that we should see the Dr. and also that a Passport could be started immediately for her to travel home with us!!!! We were asked to step outside and while we were waiting Liga and her foster mom, Maia arrived. When we were asked back in, they gave us temporary guardianship of Liga from that moment until March 8th, when we will have court again. We have scheduled the social worker visit for Mon 10am and the passport appt for Mon 5pm. We also have an appt with the Dr. at the US Embassy on Wed 1pm.

Liga was so happy when she arrived and I joked with Joe that she was so excited and ready to leave, I thought she was going to pee her pants. She smiled from ear to ear and told the interpretor and Sandra that we were her parents. She gave Maia a hug goodbye and we were wisked off by Daina. Maia kept saying God Bless You during the entire exchange. It is evident that she loves Liga and the other children that have been or that still are in her home. Liga is the 9th child to be adopted in her home. It is because of her that Liga knows that Jesus loves her!!!!

When we arrived home, she was so excited. She went from room to room, bouncing down the hallway. She was so thankful for her room and her belongings. She kept asking, "Liga's?"!!!! Yes!

We colored and started a puzzle and put her few belongings that she brought with her away. We went on walk to the Photo shop and had her passport/visa pictures taken. We then went to the grocery store and got a few days of groceries. She enjoyed picking some of her favorite foods out. One thing she picked, I'm not realy sure what it is but it looked like a pasta/tortellini thing and I thought we could cook it according to directions tonight and have hamburger patties with it. But after checking out the packaging I realized that it is a fruit dumpling. In fact this one is Cherry. Anyway, I don't have any seasonings besides ketchup, so it should be interesting. I have string cheese, so we have some concoction of hamburger/spaghetti/cheese! Then for dessert, the Cherry Dumplings with a little sugar.

Joe walked to McDonald's for our dinner last night. It's a good 15 min walk from here but she has NEVER eaten at McDonald's before. Just a note: she is the least picky person I've met besides Joe. PRAISE GOD!!!! I know that alot of children refuse to eat anything besides cucumbers, sour cream, hot dogs and pasta.

Then it was bedtime. She took a bath and got ready for bed. We skyped with the kids and she was in awe of the whole event. Keegan, Micah and Ethan were very friendly with Liga and she kept saying "hello" (she knows as much English as I know Latvian)!!! Ethan did fine this time until we said it was time to go. Then the waterworks started. It is so hard to see him struggling so much. I know he isn't "working" it, he truly is the child.

This morning she woke up like a golden retriever (yes, we have dog personalities for the morning - are you a bull dog?). We ate breakfast, got dressed and enjoyed a very cold walk around Old Town Riga. We went into a few shops and then stopped in McDonald's for lunch. I know, I know that's twice in 2 days but we were cold and hungry and the look on her face was priceless. She ordered a Happy Meal and was completely overwhelmed with excitement. We ate and then headed home.

When we got home, Joe went to the gas station for some milk, juice and other drinks. Only, he didn't get milk, he got what is called Kefir. FERMENTED MILK!!!! It is sooo sour and awful. Apparently it's used in sourdough bread or cold borscht. I'm thinking that $2.00 is wasted. Oh well!!!! Guess we'll get some tomorrow.

Tonight I taught Liga how to knit and she took to it perfectly. She's already knitted a foot of scarf. She didn't want to put it down. We also made a paper "Family Quilt" - it has different pieces of constructio paper with pictures of her new family, right down to the dogs. She wrote the Latvian word for who they are: sister, brother, etc. And I wrote their names. We hung it up so she can see them everyday (besides skype) and learn their names.

Well, this is amazingly long and I'm sure I've bored all 3 of the readers of this blog. Thank you if you made it this far.

Liga is truly an amazing little girl. She is always happy and knows how to entertain herself if needed, she seeks approval and loves to be loved. She allows both of us to show her love in various ways like: Joe painted her nails and brushed her hair last night. She let me braid her hair and rub her back. She is using the term Momma and Daddy everytime and she is our daughter.

love you all --- Goodnight from Latvia!!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

First impressions....

Well, today we woke up at 9 and quickly got ready to go to the bank and finish paying for our apartment. Afterwards, we came home and checked email and read until we needed to meet Daina at 12:30 pm.

This is our apartment:

We waited outside in front of the apartment and waited until we saw a vehicle that held a man & a woman. We have never seen Daina and definately hadn't seen her driver (son). As soon as she got out of the vehicle, she gave each of us a big hug and wore a beautiful smile. We could instantly see why everyone raves about Daina. She was very friendly and made us feel comfortable the entire time.

We drove to the Orphan court to meet with Sandra. She gave us all the infomation that the court has on Liga, including more info on her medical records. Daina felt we should have the Doctor at the Embassy check out the records as well as have Liga looked at. Doing so will shorten our 3rd trip by one day. We asked tons of questions and finally headed to Liga's home with Sandra.
Daina and Sandra ~

My (Brenna) stomach was in knots. Daina asked how I was doing. I told her: nervous, afraid to be rejected again, don't want to scare her if I give a big hug... Daina reassured me and said "she'll be nervous too but she is excited and waiting for you. Give a side hug and see her reaction...
Just outside her apartment as we wait for them to ring us in.

As soon as we walked into the door Liga ran up to me and gave me a hug. She immediately went to Joe and hugged him too. We each gave her foster mom a hug and she whispered in my ear God bless you, through her tears. Liga smiled from ear to ear while showing us to our seats for the treats they were providing.

We enjoyed almost 2 hrs of conversation, questions and laughter (usually at my expense... I murdered their language and they got a kick out it). In the first few minutes of our conversation she asked Daina if she could call us Mom & Dad now. ABSOLUTELY!!!!! She showed us her room and boy was it clean!!!!

We had bought her necklace; she as so excited to put it on. It had 3 charms on it that said, "love, trust and forever" ~ that's a family!!!!

We will meet Liga at court tomorrow morning at 9am. And she will be with us for the remainder of our time in Latvia and come home with us on March 12.

Got to Skype with the kids last night and tonight. It is good to see them but we needed to tell Ethan that he didn't have to do skype everytime. It's getting harder for him everyday and when we skype it hurts him all over again.

Well, that's all or now! Until tomorrow!