Thursday, July 21, 2011

First week home!

I can't believe we've been home for a week already. We've gotten alot done. We are now calling Saulius his American, legal name of John. Sometimes he answers to it, sometimes he doesn't and often we "slip" and call him Saulius/Sauleke/Saulo. His English is coming along and sometimes he spontaneously speaks English without any prompting.

John has met his Nana Reardon and just loves her. She was in Wisconsin visiting Uncle Jim and Aunt Claudia until last friday. She came back with a nasty cold and stayed with my parents for the weekend to recuperate. She and John got to play everyday. He was very excited to meet her. John loved the ice cream cake that Nana Reardon brought for big John's birthday. Our little guy was very disappointed that Daddy got all the presents that evening, but he recovered quickly. Most of the presents that Daddy got were really for John - school posters with colors, shapes, etc.....

We went to Sam's Club for some basics and stopped at the pool store to get the water tested. John loved riding in the shopping cart and was charming to the pool store folks. We were bad parents and had "lunch" at Jimmie Cone. Of course, that was a big hit.

We have spent several afternoons in the pool - both ours and at the farm. He loves water and gets braver every time. We have little life vests for him and he's very good about wearing them. My dad was thrilled to finally see his grandchild in the baby pool that he built 20 years ago.

Aunt Rita came by over the weekend and John just loved being able to chat away with her. She gave him a lovely police car which he enjoys immensely.

John went to Wal-Mart with mom and grandmom, he loves riding in the shopping cart. We also stopped at the children's consignment shop in Mt. Airy. He behaved well and the ladies were very kind to him. I had shopped there before we left for Lithuania, so they were thrilled to meet him. I found two items for John that Daddy approved of heartily - a little Harley-Davidson denim jacket and denim shirt. John's gonna be the coolest kid!

We started the rounds of doctors, school and adoption post-placement stuff. We were able to see the pediatrician, and John behaved very nicely. He did get his McDonald's ice cream cone afterwards as promised. Mom came with us to provide translating services, so she earned her mocha frappe.

After two days of telephone tag/pass the buck/runaround by the school system, we got directed to the international students office and met with them. Really just more paperwork!

Mary Beth and Mary Lynn came to visit during the week and John just loves company. He gives everyone a tour of HIS house, HIS room, HIS toys and points out all of HIS family in photos.

This weekend we will be hosting Kim and her family for a visit and time in the pool. We also have another trip to the pediatrician and the lab for blood work. Guess we'll be having another trip to McDonald's for ice cream afterwards?

Hopefully we will be able to Skype with Mantas' family this weekend. John talks about his cousins in Lithuania every day.

We have our first dental appointment, first visit by adoption social worker and first eye doctor appointment set up for next week. There will continue to be lots of "firsts" for quite awhile.

Donuts are wonderful for breakfast!

I'm just not a morning person! Please pass the tea.

Yummy! Jimmie Cone makes a good lunch.

Daddy's birthday dinner!

Grandma Veronica reads Lithuanian fairy tales.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

First day at home

We all woke at 6 pm and Saulius was ready to roll. We had breakfast, he wolfed down two eggs, then we opened all the new toys in his room. He especially loves the Harley-Davidson motorcycle and the CAT construction trucks from the Gudas'. Besides playing with toys, we managed to unloaded the car, unpack, and do all the laundry. It was wonderful to get to use a regular sized washer and actually have a dryer! We even washed clothes than we brought home clean just to get them softer.
We all took a walk around the yard, and met the neighbors horses. After our lunch of basic cold cut sandwiches, the family started to stop by. Mom, Dad, Kathy w/ Kayla the dog, Aunt Gloria, and Ted all stopped by. They each showed up separately so Saulius could have a few minutes with each one of them alone. Between visits, Saulius spent the day inspecting the house, playing with toys and visiting the kitties. Red and Tux are being very patient. They are sequestered in our old room, and we have short, supervised visits. After a couple of days, if everyone behaves, they will be released back to run everywhere. The day flew by and we had dinner at the farm and then visited with the family. When we got home and he had his bath, he decided it was time for bed and marched off to his own room and hopped up on his bed. He fell asleep in less than 5 minutes. We also crashed by 9:30. The pool is ready (many thanks to Harry for keeping it maintained while we were gone) but we'll hit it tomorrow after running some chores. John's mom is coming home from visiting John's brother and sister-in-law in Wisconsin tomorrow. Looking forward to more fun tomorrow as we will be celebrating John's birthday.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Home again!

We were picked up by Elona from the Family Law Center and took our last taxi ride.  She has been such a great help, we will miss her.  Our plane to Frankfort was 30 minutes late leaving Vilnius.  Of course, we only found that out after getting to the airport.  The Vilnius airport is very small and security was very short.  Saulius found the kiddie play area and loved the slide and balls.  They have a neat activity book available there and we picked one up.  He offered crackers to people at the gate, chatted up a nice lady and ran up to a guy with a tie since any man that wears a tie must be important.  Saulius was great on plane, acted like a real seasoned traveler.  The Lufthansa crew handed him a coloring book, coloring pencils w/ sharpener as soon as we got onboard, but he never used them.  He put his seat belt on, ate his snack, and enjoyed the juice.  It's only about a two hour flight to Frankfort and we only had an hour layover.  The plane de-planed next to the terminal and we had to use a bus to get to the terminal - it was about a 10 minute bus ride as the airport is huge.  We ran through Frankfort and made our plane - we had to run down about 4 flights of stairs, run through a tunnel, then take the elevator up 4 flights.  We then had to pass through another immigration check point as we were leaving the EU.  Fortunately the immigration check was right next to our gate.  At the gate we had to show our passports again and pull out the inch thick envelope of immigration documents for Saulius.  Only after that were we able to get our seat assignment changed.  When we booked his ticket, he was sitting 5 rows away from us and we could not change our seats until we were at the gate.  We ended up with 3 seats in the same row, but not together.  There was an older lady sandwiched between us, but she was kind enough to move over one so we could be together.  She was probably relived to have a buffer from our "Chatty Charlie".  John got stuck with the center seat, I got the aisle and we put Saulius between us.  He loved the headphones, in-flight movie, blanket and nibbled at his dinner.  As we did not get a bathroom break in Frankfort, he wanted to use the bathroom on the plane.  He thought it was really neat - so we had 3 trips in less than 1.5 hours.  John had picked up a portable DVD player before we had gone over.  It has 3 headphone jacks so we could all watch the Wizard of Oz for the 25th time in one week as well as the Sesame Street DVD's.  It was a lifesaver!  He finally fell asleep and got about a 4 hour nap - we didn't.  Landed at Dulles pretty much on time and there was no line for immigration.   Immigration was a breeze - the officer took a very quick glance at our envelope, opened it, and told us he would save us an hour - we were free to head on out.  All our bags arrived, and none smelled like booze (we had two bottles from the relatives packed in there).  Customs was a joke - just handed them our little card, I don't think they even looked at it, and moved on.  They weren't checking anyone!   Ted was waiting for us right outside customs, and had beverages in car for us.  Saulius recognized Dede Tedus and they shook hands then hugged.  He fit perfect in new car seat and climbed right in.  There was no real traffic getting home as it was already 9 pm.  We rolled in around 10 pm.  We showed Saulius around the house, pointed out his room, his toys, his bathroom and our room.  He met the cats briefly when we fed them and all behaved well.  He kept looking and asking for all the rest of the family - I think he was expecting them to all be at HIS house.  Then it was bath time and beddy bye.  He crashed with us and we all slept well as it was about 6 am Lithuanian time.  I hope the jet lag isn't too bad! Tomorrow we meet the rest of the family and finish exploring HIS new home.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ready for take off!

Labas rytas! Got up around 8:30 and finished up the oatmeal, apples, juice, grapefruit, breakfast pastries, tea - now it's a very empty kitchen! Everyone got showers and we finished packing our carry-ons. The iPad and DVD player are charged up and ready to entertain Saulius. Our ride will be here in an hour and a half to take us to the airport. It is beautiful today, cool, slight breeze, sunny, clear skies, no humidity - a perfect day to fly. Really looking forward to getting home. We will post again once we get home and sleep. However, if I have jet-lag there may b something sooner! Many thanks to all for all the good wishes and prayers. They obviously worked and are most appreciated. Hope to see you all soon!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Last full day in Lithuania

The day started off cool and damp. Had our final egg breakfast with yogurt, apple, juice (and pastries for mom and dad). Tomorrow's will be the last of the oatmeal. Saulius still loves the headphones and it will help to keep him busy while we pack tonight.

We walked down to the Church Relic Museum housed in St. Michael the Archangel Church (patron saint of police officers). It was opened in 2009 and the best museum so far. Well displayed, informative and modern, it houses the treasury of the Vilnius Cathedral. The church artifacts were stunning and since you can't take pictures we bought the little guide book. Across the street was St. Anne's Church which was lovely - all brick and very unique. Next to that is St. Francis & St. Bernardino's which was undergoing major restoration but still open.

The morning misting turned into a light drizzle so we headed home for the final meal of hot dogs, potatoes, fresh peas, cucumbers and carrots. We have used up everything in the frig except for a little breakfast stuff for tomorrow. Dinner will be somewhere out tonight to celebrate!

John stretched out for a little nap. Saulius is expecting us to carry him everywhere and John does most of the carrying. I do a little, but I was never known for my upper body strength unlike tough motormen. Saulius is watching then ignoring then watching BabyTV while he packs his treasures into plastic bags. He decided to join dad for a nap (ok - there was a little encouragement to lay down). Mom gets some quiet time and will enjoy it completely as there will be none of that tomorrow or probably for the next week or two as he gets used to another new environment.

Ramune called to say goodbye and wish us a good trip. I do hope they can come to the USA. We would love to repay the hospitality they have shown us and show them all the sights of Washington.

Mantas had called yesterday. He even apologized for not coming to see us off at the airport. We would never expect them to drive an hour just to wave goodbye - especially after the lovely weekend they arranged and all the time they spent with us.

Stasys emailed his goodbye and we really hope that the next time we see them we are all in the USA. We would love to get the opportunity to play host to them all.

Elona called from the family law center to confirm our trip to the airport tomorrow. She has been very helpful and so friendly.

We have been so lucky to have family here. I can't imagine how bored we would have gotten with each other. Having other adults to talk to and children for Saulius to play with made all the difference. I realized the other day that John and I had never spent three solid weeks together. Our longest trip, with just the two of us, was the 7-day cruise last year. Our work schedules usually require us to be "ships in the night" at least once a week. I guess this trip proves we really like each other's company!

After the boys woke up we did the packing. There are still a few last minute items to toss in after our morning showers. We have much more room since Saulius gets his own bag and we did use up some things!

To treat ourselves to our last dinner in Vilinus, we walked around the corner to try a new restaurant. It was very upscale and expensive - they didn't have a kiddie menu. The food was exquisite! We both had the beef stroganoff with green beans and roasted whole tomatoes. We got an appetizer portion of chicken with mushrooms in a very rich sauce for Saulius. He ate some of it, but preferred the bread and beans. By expensive we mean the bill was 150 lita or about $60. For that quality of cooking at home we would have easily had to pay $150.

During our post dinner walk John challenged Saulius to a farting contest. Fortunately he doesn't understand that much english yet so John was the clear winner (and only participant). We did get a scare during our walk. John got hit by a taxi that was backing up. No harm done, more of a shock than anything.

We headed down to the Soprano ice cream parlor again and sampled more of their amazing confections. A good walk home probably didn't even burn up the whipped cream.

Saulius got his bath and is now watching a Sesame Street video. Last night he fell asleep watching one, so hopefully the same will happen tonight. Hopefully we will all sleep tonight and not be too excited about the trip. We hope to get up a little early, have a quick breakfast and finish packing. We found a cute bakery/lunch place around the corner tonight and might go there for a very early lunch since the Vilnius airport is rather basic. Hope to see everyone soon!

Outside the church relic museum.

St. Anne's church.

Nap time!

There's a concert at the town hall tonight - Lithuanian hip hop/reggae. Maybe this belongs to one of the performers? We will be skipping the concert.

Picture John took when hit by the taxi - looks like modern art.

One last roll!

All of us slept great! The sea air yesterday really knocked us out. After our usual breakfast of fried eggs, we headed out for an adventure. There's a boat that does a one hour ride up and down the Neris River in the heart of Vilnius. On our way down to check it out we tried to see if the sash we had ordered to be made was ready, but the shop was still closed. We did stop at the Soprano ice cream shop and had some amazing ice cream sundaes - at 11 am, just so decadent. It's a good thing we didn't stop there any earlier in our trip or it could have become a daily habit. The boat only runs once a day at 5 pm, so we headed home via the tourist shopping strip and got some t-shirts for Saulius. Then we went to the Rimi grocery store for some breakfast foods for tomorrow and Wednesday. When we were leaving there, we saw that they were setting up something at the city hall. After lunch (hot dogs, green beans and potatoes - again!) we just rested at home as it was quite warm out and Saulius wants us to carry him everywhere. He has plenty of energy in the apartment and wants to play chase but once we get outside he wants to be carried.

Around 4 pm we headed back out, there was a very light drizzle, and the sash lady was in. His sash is just beautiful and he chatted up the lady that made it. She was very sweet to Saulius and he gave her kiss.

We headed to the boat and it took off promptly at 5 pm. The weather cleared up just in time and became gorgeous The river current is quite strong and during one of the u-turns the boat actually hit the river bank. The views were wonderful and it was a really nice time. Saulius likes any type of moving vehicle.

On our walk home we went to the town hall square where we noticed earlier they had been setting up for some event. Turns out the Lithuanian national basketball team was there. We got to join the crowd and celebrate their world title. It was not a huge crowd but very vocal and extremely well-behaved. It was lots of families and kids and felt very safe. We got some decent pictures of some of the players. There was a hot air balloon too that was neat. We met two police officers and Saulius gave them USPP challenge coins.

Dinner was our last meal of koldunai. God how I'm going to miss being able to buy really good frozen ones at the grocery store!

We are going to start rounding up all our treasures to take home, then just relax since tomorrow we have St. Anne's church and the church heritage museum, and maybe then TV tower where there is a memorial to the people who died during the separation from the USSR.

We tried out headphones on Saulius for the DVD player and he loves them! It will be great for the plane, maybe we won't have to listen to the Sesame Street DVDs over and over and over and over...... "put down the ducky, put down the ducky, put down the ducky, put down the ducky if you want to play the saxaphone......."

And as for the headline of this blog - it refers to our last roll of toilet paper which we just started today!


I love my sash!

Public art hanging off the bridges

Saulius flirting with the lady officer

The world championship celebration

EMS on scene for the big crowd......

And bored EMT's!

One of the players with fans

The MVP of the game

Leave me alone, I'm watching the Wizard of Oz and the best part is about to start.....

Monday, July 11, 2011

Baltic babies beach bonanza

Mantas picked us up at 0700. Saulius was a tired little boy and hard to wake up but was thrilled with the car ride. He knew he was going to see Gustus again and couldn't wait. We drove an hour back to Kaunas to swap to a bigger car that Mantas was able to borrow from a friend, and loaded up all 7 of us. Kristina was wedged in so tight in the back, I wasn't sure she'd be able to get out. The luggage was stuffed into every empty spot. Luckily Gustus' and Saulius' little legs were so short we could fill the foot wells of their seats. We then headed off for the 3 hour drive to the beach. We had a short driving tour of the beach area. It's amazing how all the beach areas look similar - little beach houses that have been there forever next to big new mansions, beach shops with the usual collection of t- shirts/beach supplies/popcorn/cotton candy. We went to Smetova which would be like our Bethany Beach - family oriented. They are very smart here, there is no boardwalk or any development right on the beach. There is a good sized buffer of mature trees and sand dunes which keeps their beach from eroding. We stayed at a bungalow compound that they have visited often. They are little clusters of one-story houses with several units each. Some units have private bathrooms, others share a bathroom and there is a communal kitchen. We got there a little early for check in and our room wasn't quite ready. While we were waiting we went for a walk to the beach just to see it. Saulius couldn't wait and went wading immediately. He got soaking wet and was shivering. We dried him off and wrapped him in a towel. Fortunately he was wearing shorts that dried quickly. We all had lunch at an outside cafe which was delicious! We headed back to the bungalow to move in and get our suits on. The bed had a spring that was broken, so they fixed that right away. Sauilus loved watching the repair man.

Veronica's cousin Ramune and daughter Inga joined us for more beach time. They drove up the coast from Klaipaidia where they are home for the summer from Germany.

The weather was overcast with a cool breeze. We then made a quick trip back to the beach this time in a bathing suit. Saulius loved splashing in the water, kicking his legs in the surf, and sitting in the waves as they hit the shore. He wasn't in the water long before he turned blue and shivered constantly. This time were prepared better and changed him into dry clothes right away to play in the sand. We just kept doing that every time he got wet and he stayed much warmer.

After finishing up at the beach, we walked back through the usual beach retail area with souvenir shops, all sorts of ice cream and treats, lots of local smoked fish places. Ramune headed home and invited us to stop by for coffee on our way home.

We were treated to a grilled dinner outside - chicken, beef, sausage, rice, and vegetables with lovely smoked fish, then celebrated with 2 bottles of champagne for Mantas' pre-birthday and our going away. Mantas, Kristina, and Gustas presented us with gifts - a CD of pictures from our trip and Lithuanian stories/kids songs, a t-shirt for John about good beer and beautiful women in Lithuania, some pictures from Mantas' wedding to Kristina, and a jar of honey. The adults must have stayed up too late, because Gustas started crying in his room, and the neighbors almost called the police.

The next day, we ate sausages and veggies, including fresh peas in the pod, for breakfast after Kristina's parents made a surprise visit for Mantas 30th birthday - breakfast dessert was pastries, chocolates and champagne. They also brought roses and gave Mantas a certificate for a hot air balloon ride for his birthday. After that wonderful meal, we packed up our things in the bungalow, and loaded up the car. We then spent most of the afternoon at beach. The sun was definitely out on our second day. Everyone enjoyed a snack on the beach, the water, and playing with the sand. Kristina's parents spent the day on the beach with us also. It was so nice to have them there and they were so kind to play with Saulius.

We had lunch at nice cafe after walking off the beach. Mantas drove us to Klaipaidia to visit Ramune and her family. We were greeted with smiles and a beautiful assortment of teas and pastries in garden. Saulius wasn't interested in the pastries so her mom picked fresh wild strawberries and purple gooseberries for him - he is getting so spoiled. They had lots of toys in the garden including a kiddie pool with water toys. I thought Saulius would never be able to leave. Her family has beautiful big house, with a smaller house in the garden, garage, and amazing garden with fruit trees, berry bushes, veggies, flowers and two greenhouses. Her parents live on the first floor of the main house, her sister and brother-in-laws with their two boys live on the second floor. Ramane and her daughter live in the guest house. Her husband will join them later in the summer for vacation. It was getting late, so we drove straight back to Vilnius - 2.5 hours and said our goodbyes. Kristina was able to nap a little as was Emma. The boys just played, snacked on veggies and crackers. Mantas drove his family back to Kaunas. We unpacked our things from the beach first, and then it was bath time for Saulius and Mom. We got two loads of laundry done and put out to dry. Lithuania won the World basketball championship, which lead to lots of horn honking and celebrating. Happily it did not last too long. So, with that the Baltic Babies settled in for the night.

Walking to the beach

First time we see the beach!

It's a little chilly!

The caterpillar was so fascinating.

Ramune joins us for the beach.

Muscle men!

Really mom and dad, I'm not cold, honest, let me go back in!

I need granddad to help with this construction project.

Flirting with Inga.

Ramune and Inga.

All the boys.

Cooking dinner.

What a feast!

Happy birthday!

Where is everyone?

Everyone at the beach.

Soaking up some rays.

Nap time.


Ramune's brother in law and nephew