I am so excited to get to spend some time with you, and to introduce you to our two newest children! I have missed our time hanging out and I'm SO thankful that you're willing and able to come with me to bring our kids home. I know it is a BIG sacrifice of time and finances (since you won't be working) for both you and your family. The people that have helped us with each adoption have gone out of their way in ways that we can never repay, and you are certainly one of the few that has joyfully volunteered... and probably for one of the 'jobs' that will take you the furthest out of your comfort zone for the longest period of time.
So... on to the practical. Right now, my Florida friend, it is 0 degrees (c). That's 32 in the USA ;). COLD. Freezing actually, and there's a good possibility of snow today. For the most part, up until now, we've had unseasonably WARM weather! Now, it's BUNDLE UP or FREEZE. We do a LOT of walking, and once we have the kids with us, it will be mostly walking and taxi's since the metro and buses are harder to navigate with strollers in tow. So, be prepared to dress warm, and in some layers so you can survive without melting or suffocating when we go into the 75 degree government buildings. :)
What I've been wearing is... WARM socks and sneekers, leg warmers or long underwear, jeans, a tank top or undershirt, long sleeved shirt, light sweater, fleece zip up (lightweight) jacket, and my "Florida" leather jacket (and of course underclothes that need not be mentioned ;) ).
I'm going to get a few heavier shirts for our next trip, and may see about borrowing back a pair of boots that I gave away thinking I'd never wear them again (which I wore for the entire first adoption). I'll also get a heavier sweater. I plan to stick to the layers, though, even though I have a big heavy winter leather jacket. With the big jacket it was really hard for me to also manage the kids!
I packed 2 pr of jeans and a pr of dressy/casual pants. I don't think we'll need dress pants at all for the 2nd trip, so I plan to leave those home. 2 pr of jeans, worn a day or two while the other pair is washing and drying (crunchy jeans... yep!) will work. I brought 5 shirts this time and still feel like I'm constantly doing laundry, but it has worked out ok to have 2-3 washing along with the jeans each time. Undergarments I always pack extra-- don't want to rewear underwear and socks (ick...). I also have a scarf, warm hat, and warm gloves. I've only worn the warm hat once because I discovered it was washed and now squeezes my head :). And I haven't worn the scarf yet but today is the first day that we hit 0. I've worn lightweight knit gloves many days already and my regular warm gloves a few times as well. Both are handy to have (and I have an extra pr of light knit ones if you need them!).
Let's see... one pr of shoes is fine, bring a few books for down-time on the planes and sitting around. If you have any movies you'd like to bring, we can digitize them and put them on the laptop to watch-- if Mike has time to do that for us. I have several on here already that we haven't watched this trip as well.
I'll have the little laptop which you are welcome to use also, but it is multi-function as the movie-player, email and blogging, and of course all the 'extra' stuff we've been working on while here in UA too. It has a good 6-8 hours of use on battery even, so it's been very useful!
We'll pack some food items to make life a little easier, especially when we first arrive, but in general we can shop here and get food out if necessary. Candies or snacks we've munched on but again, a lot is available here.
We'll be bringing 2 lightweight strollers back with us for the kids along with some entertainment and clothes for the kids. I've also offered the family that we're staying with to bring some books and pantry items (like dryer sheets and french onion soup powder) that they can't get here. We have suitcases which you are welcome to use if you'd like to- generally duffel style work better (with wheels for the airports, but you have to be able to carry it too because there are stairs and cobblestone everywhere...) because they squish some to fit into taxi's and such. When there are 2 kids to push in strollers we'll still have to manage the luggage...
Doesn't that sound fun?! :)
Some things like toothpaste and shampoo I will be leaving here (along with some of my clothes) so that I don't have to haul them home and back again, and if we need more than that we can purchase it here. Bring your basic toiletries (unless you've got a specific shampoo you like) and if you bring any liquids, put them inside of TWO gallon size ziplock bags. Bag it once, zip it, and bag it again. Otherwise you'll spend an hour trying to get shampoo out of your shirts :). Plane pressure pops open a lot of things! You might even squeeze the bottle just a little then close the top so it's not as pressurized.
Bring a bag or purse that you're comfortable carrying everywhere so that you can keep your passport and some money on you at all times, and maybe large enough to fit a book. I picked up a canvas type purse for $12 at WalMart before coming in September and it goes over my head and arm (for safety and it also doesn't slip off as I deal with the kids). It holds my computer and a book, my wallet and cell phone and all kinds of other supplies depending on how full I want to pack it. I even throw a drink in it some days and keep my photo album and a pad of paper in it "just in case" as well as a little snack since we're never sure when we won't have a meal here or there...
I brought a backpack as well, and during international travel that has been very handy. Depending on the flight I could have whatever I needed on hand, and we have an extra backpack that's identical to mine if you'd like to use that as well. We bought them for our first UA trip in 2008 and have used it as a diaper bag and carry-all for the last 3 years and now again on this trip. It works great and was really helpful to have it with all the kids' food and diapers and clothes in it when bringing E and M home. My dad borrowed Mike's when he flew back to UA to help me come home and brought his one change of clothes and a book in it. He was only in UA for about 36 hours and that's all he brought :).
Let's see... Not too much else I can think of... We'll have a lot of hurry up and wait while we're here, and once we get custody of the kids it will be pretty busy :). I plan to bring one of my "kid tents" (pea pod) with us and we'll see who ends up in it. Either of the kids will fit, but my thought is that Aleksa is used to sleeping in a bed (and will be safe not to roll out, and likely knows to STAY in her bed) whereas Wesley may be in a crib still and may be more comfortable for us ALL to get some sleep if he's in a contained area. I remember trying to sleep with Emma and Micah sharing my bed... I DIDN'T! I was too afraid E was going to fall out of bed and die :D. (YES, seriously!)
So all that to say... I'll have some things for you to 'carry' over for the kids, in order to keep us at only 2 checked bags (have to pay $50 to bring a 3rd bag!) and the two strollers. We can each have a backpack and purse as well. Since I'm leaving some things here, I'll have an extra bag, possibly, when we come home (and we can put souvenirs in it also). At that point we'll have 4 tickets and could check 4 bags (but don't want to HAUL 4!) so it will work out without extra fees.
WHEW. Are you ready?? I'm hoping to leave on Saturday, the 11th, we'd land in UA on the 12th, and then the 13th we hit the ground running to obtain all the necessary paperwork. In an ideal world, we'll fly back on the 23rd... In reality it is more likely to be the 30th or 31st when we fly (we'll land the same day in the USA because of the 7 hour time difference). IF I have to be present to pick up a piece of paper on Friday, the 10th, then it's possible that we'd need to leave as early as the 8th. I hope to find that out by Monday.
Did I mention to you that Aleksa likes to "flop and drop" and yell "NOoooooooooo" and try to run away? Or that Wesley is still scared of us and cries when he hears other people walking around and understands enough to know things "aren't normal" but doesn't quite understand why we're there or who we are? Yep, it's going to be an adventure. I'm SO GLAD to be able to share it with you and especially, to have your EXPERIENCED and PATIENT and LOVING help with our kids!!!
I can't wait to get home and see the kids,