Friday, May 27, 2011

Why Russia?

The first thing many people ask us when we tell them we are adopting is, "Why Russia?"  Well, it all started with a first grader who I was lucky enough to have in my class.  She was constantly drawing pictures and writing letters for me, kind to her classmates, amazingly smart, extremely well-behaved.  After talking to her mom, I found out that she (and her little sister) were adopted from Russia.  I remember being amazed and inspired by their story!  It's four years later now and she still runs to me with the biggest smile every time I see her.  When Jacob was having kindergarten nerves, she sat by him on the bus, walked him to his line, and gave him special treats and crafts she had made in school.

So when Adam and I were first talking about adoption by the campfire, my mind automatically went to Russia.  Then we looked up the statistics...

According to data from the Health and Social Development Ministry, more than 730,000 children in Russia either have no parents or have been abandoned by their parents. Of this number about 200,000 of them live in orphanages and internats. More than 160,000 children are waiting to be adopted according to the state database.  In 2007, 9,000 Russian children were adopted by foreign families. Approximately 4,000 of these went to the United States.

Statistics show that only one out of ten Russian orphans becomes a functional member of society. The others are lost to drugs, crime and suicide. Millions of Russian children are on the run living on the streets or in underground sewers desperately needing basic food, medicine and clothes.

About 15,000 Russian orphans leave orphanages each year, once they are 16 to 18 years old. Of these, 5,000 are unemployed, some 6,000 are homeless, around 3,000 resort to crime, approximately 1,500 commit suicide, and roughly half the girls are forced into prostitution.

Enough said... and that is why we are adopting from Russia.  :) 

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Adam recently found out that he was awarded some vacation in May.  So we figured we might as well get some use out of the place he is renting in Southern California... especially if we could fly stand-by and get a military discount on Disney tickets!  We decided to keep this trip a surprise for the boys, since we had to base the days we would be there on flight loads anyway.  Last Monday, everything looked great to leave so we sat the boys down and had Jacob read a little poem I made up.

There's a reason why you're missing school,
and it's really really REALLY cool.

We are flying to the third largest state,
and we have to leave now so we won't be late!

(The excitement starting welling at this point and Jacob starting guessing...  "We are going to Alaska?!")

Tomorrow we will be at a place that starts with a D and ends with a D.
Gavin was there when he was three!

("Begins with a D and ends with a D... Dad?!")

There are rides and parades and lots of fun,
Everyday there will be warm, comfy sun.

Who wants to leave this house,
and fly down to see MICKEY MOUSE?!

(Lots of screams followed by "ME, ME, ME!!!!")
So we distributed Mickey hats and were on the road!

 I have never seen more beautiful views than I did on this flight!  Amazing!
Almost as if you could walk right off of the airplane onto the blanket of clouds!
The next morning, the first thing the boys wanted to do was check out the map with their daddy.
 Then Jacob used the map to lead us straight to Buzz Lightyear!

Pixar Pals!
 The street in California Adventure that seems to go on forever.  ;)

Waiting in line for Pirates!  Jacob and Casey weren't so sure about this ride, but Gavin kept reassuring them that it was just pretend.
 Jungle Cruise!
There were only a few rides that Casey wasn't able to go on so we met some characters and ate frozen bananas... my favorite!

The Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ended up being Jacob's favorite Disneyland ride.  Thanks to the child swap pass, Adam and I could take turns with Jacob and Gavin without waiting in line!
While I was waiting with Casey by the Big Thunder Mountain, we spotted Woody and Jessie!  Unfortunately, this was as close as we got since they seemed to be ending their shift for the day.  :(  So sad!
The lines were fairly short and the temperature stayed at 75 degrees the entire week.  May is a great time to go to Disneyland!

Trying on hats!
Jacob especially liked the Indiana Jones one, since he had just gotten off that ride.  :) 
We seriously needed a monkey leash for Casey... he just wanted to run around everywhere and one time we almost lost him!

 I didn't realize you could see Mickey anytime you want in his house at Toontown!  So fun!
Goofy also stepped out to give Gavin a high five.
Never too old to have fun on Dumbo!  ;)

Magic, memories, and me.  This is a new nightly show at It's a Small World...  lots of colors, lights,  pictures of kids having fun at Disney that day!

We played at Disney for about nine hours straight this first day!  The boys were serious troopers so we just kept going.  Adam and I were totally exhausted by the end of the day, but the boys were full of smiles and telling us it was the best day ever.   :)

California Adventure

 The next day we were off to California Adventure!  Between the super short lines and fun rides, I think we had even more fun here than in Disneyland!
 Whoa.  I just now realized the guy behind us has his entire neck tattooed.  Ouch!
The little train dropped us off each morning in Downtown Disney... and our boys immediately RAN to the fountain.  For some reason, they were all just enthralled with it and we literally had to pull them away.

 Then Jakey was off to lead us with his little map again... straight to Toy Story Mania!
 We stopped along the way for some pictures though.

 Casey kept climbing up the rails to peek over at what was ahead. 
 Hooray!  We made it!
 Chillin' in line with our 3-D glasses.

 I had the pleasure of sitting next to the biggest Toy Story Maniac in our family!  How funny is it that he had a higher accuracy percentage than his momma?
Mickey's fun wheel, the swinging side of course!  ;)

 Interestingly enough, Casey refused to ride on the horse carousel in Disneyland, but he was more than happy to ride on the little fishy carousel!

 The Silly Symphony Swings... Jacob's favorite ride of all!  Thankfully it only had a five minute wait, so he got to swing his little heart out.  ;)

 Below them are all of the sprinklers for the World of Color show.

 The tortilla shop!  Mmmmm...
 Climbing on the ropes with Daddy

 Time for a snack!

 This little Crush the Turtle show cracks me up every time.  Adam can imitate him pretty well, which our boys think is hilarious!

 Adam decided that Casey didn't need a stroller, so he carried him on his back almost the entire day.  :)  He loved it... best view in the whole park, right?
 Not only is there a Casey Jr. train in Disneyland, but there are Casey Jr. cookies in California Adventure!  You would think we had just visited Disneyland when we came up with the name for our little guy!  Casey thought he was pretty special. 

 Sometimes I worry that Adam spins our boys a little too fast!  Makes me nervous!
 Waiting in line for bumper cars
 Jacob was so excited that he was big enough to drive his own! 

 We ended our day a little bit earlier tonight.  ;)  After Bug Land they just. couldn't. walk. anymore.  ;)  Thought we would take advantage of it and get a good night sleep.  Here they are waiting for the train with freshly popped kettle corn.  My other favorite thing!!