Friday, January 30, 2015

Really Real

Well, everything is starting to feel a lot more real. I think it really hit me the other day when I was setting up doctors' appointments, and I had to give our child's name and birthdate to the receptionists. To actually say those things out loud to people on the phone was surreal.

I'm buying various items from Craigslist sellers all over the city, and I've gathered a few things from consignment stores around town. Generous gifts from our registry are showing up each day at our door, and I'm starting to picture Shamrock in our house actually using these things...sleeping on the mattress, sitting at the little table, wearing the clothes, reading the books, etc. It won't be long!

Also, our in-country coordinator sent us three new pictures of our boy the other day. Actually, it was on my birthday (a pretty good present!). She also mentioned that he had said "hello" (in Russian) that day and that everybody was surprised. I guess he doesn't talk a whole lot? Anyway, he already looks older, which makes me sad. His hair is longer, so maybe that's all it is. I hope so!

In just about two weeks, I'll be in Kyrgyzstan again visiting our little boy and making him officially part of our family. I can't wait!

P.S. For those who wondered, Zack did not get me the same Willow Tree statue for my birthday. It was a different, yet still perfect, one with a mother and child (picture now added!).

Monday, January 26, 2015

Early Birthday Presents

My birthday's not until tomorrow, but I got an early present in the mail from my parents the other day. It's a Willow Tree figurine called "Child of My Heart." It's awesome, because it kind of looks like me holding Shamrock! The poem that goes with it is absolutely perfect as well. Zack looked a little disappointed when he saw it, so I have a hunch that he got me the same one as part of my birthday present. Oh for my room and one for Shamrock's room!

I bought myself an early birthday present as well. I just got done booking my flights and hotel for my second trip to Kyrgyzstan. I'll get there on Valentine's Day, so I told Zack I'm spending the holiday with another boy this year! I've got my eye on a "Mommy's Little Valentine" T-shirt I may need to get for Shamrock before I go. Anyway, there's lots to do, and if all goes smoothly, only 50 more days until we can take our boy out of the orphanage forever!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

We Have a Court Date!

February 16, 2015

That's our court date! Hooray!!! It's later than we wanted and hoped for, but it's exactly seven weeks after our last official bonding visit date, and we were told it could be six to eight weeks after that. So I guess that was an accurate estimate. I'm waiting for confirmation of our travel dates, but I hope to stay at least a few days before and/or after the court date to visit "Shamrock."

Shamrock is the nickname my dad came up with for our little boy. Zack and I have been calling him that lately since we aren't letting anyone know his new first name yet. It sounds similar to his Kyrgyz name (but it's easier to say and spell!), it connects to my Notre Dame fandom, and we're "lucky" that this little boy will soon be ours!

Shamrock is an especially appropriate name now, because if all goes well, we'll get to take him out of the orphanage permanently on March 18, the day after St. Patrick's Day. Adoptive families often call this day "Gotcha Day" or "Family Day" and celebrate it every year, almost like a second birthday. I can foresee many S/shamrock-filled parties in the future!

Time to look up some flights...

Friday, January 23, 2015

It's Very Very Very Hard to Wait

I'm not sure if my mom was the only one who would sing "It's very very very hard to wait" from the Mr. Rogers show to us when we were kids (and didn't want to wait), but that's the song playing on repeat in my head right now. Alas, we haven't been given a court date yet. Now our agency is telling us that we should know by Tuesday. That's January 27-my birthday-so I guess that would be a good gift to get. But I'm getting pretty impatient! Last night, Zack and I looked through some pictures and videos of our little boy together and reminisced about the adorable things he did. Tonight we'll eat homemade lagman for dinner (I cheated and didn't make the noodles myself). And hopefully in a few days, we'll have some exciting news about the next trip to Kyrgyzstan!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Our Yurt Weekend

This weekend, Zack and I (along with our dog Molly) spent two nights in a yurt. Back when we started the Kyrgyzstan adoption process, we were also trying to plan our winter activities, and we wanted to finally do a snowshoe hut trip, which is a popular winter activity here in Colorado. I was really set on finding one that was an actual yurt, versus a normal cabin, because my research into Kyrgyzstan showed me that the nomadic Kyrgyz people lived in these structures. We also needed to find a place that allowed dogs. The Old Baldy Yurt owned by Ute Lodge was perfect for us!

On Friday, we made the long (almost five hour) drive out past Meeker, Colorado to the start of the trail. There was lots of wildlife to be seen, including deer, elk, several wild turkeys, a skunk, and some sort of wildcat. We then had a two mile snowshoe up to the yurt, which was a lot harder than it sounds. We were carrying heavy backpacks full of food and warm clothes for the weekend, it was all uphill through deep snow (though a snowmobile had thankfully made a path), and the sun set while we were hiking so it got really dark. We were SO happy to finally find the yurt, but it took awhile for the wood stove to get going and warm up the inside!

It was such a peaceful weekend. We didn't see or hear another soul. We spent our time reading, knitting (me), playing guitar (Zack), playing games, snowshoeing to the nearby aspens (some of the largest in the world apparently), and just relaxing. We even sat outside and made our own watercolor paintings of the yurt at sunset! The propane stove worked great, and we had lots of delicious meals and snacks. At these huts, you melt snow on the stove to have water to use, and that was pretty easy to do as well. While I took care of the cooking, Zack kept the yurt warm by feeding wood and coal to the stove, even in the middle of the night.

We snowshoed back down on Sunday afternoon and unfortunately got caught in some ski traffic on the way home. But it was a special weekend away, and we felt like we got to connect a bit with our boy's Kyrgyz ancestors by staying in a yurt. Did you know the middle of the symbol on the Kyrgyzstan flag actually symbolizes the roof of a yurt?!

P.S. Our agency has promised that we'll know our court date by the end of this week!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Dolphins on that Special Day

When we got back from Kyrgyzstan, I started wondering about what we were doing on the day our son was born. Was December 23, 2012 even memorable for any reason? Was there any clue that in some other country, our lives were being changed forever, though we wouldn't realize it until two years later? I quickly remembered that we were living in Australia during 2012, and over Christmas and New Year's that year, we were on our two week campervan trip around the South Island of New Zealand. "That's pretty cool," I thought, but when I looked up our itinerary and pictures, I was SO excited to learn that we were swimming with the dolphins in Kaikoura that day. It was one of our top ten life experiences!

I've attached the link to my blog entry about that memorable day, and it includes more pictures and videos. We even have the picture seen here printed and framed on the bathroom wall that our little boy will use (totally random coincidence). I'm so glad that it wasn't just another "ordinary" day and that even though we weren't with him, we can at least tell our son that we remember the day he was born and that it was an amazing and special day!

Keys Down Under Blog Post

Saturday, January 10, 2015


When Zack and I decided on international adoption and our agency told us about Kyrgyzstan back in July, we had no idea that the country even existed. We didn't know where it was or anything about it. It took me about a week to even learn how to say and spell it. So if you've been feeling like you were alone in not having a clue about Kyrgyzstan, this post should make you feel better. Check out the links below. Some of the Twitter comments in response are hilarious!

So you're not alone! 

In other news, we have been told a tentative court date of February 9, but that's in no way confirmed or set in stone. So I can't book a flight or anything yet. We're still just waiting!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

So Now What?

Well, we're home. And now we wait. We're happy to be back in the United States, where the language is easy, the food is familiar, and we're in our own house with our dog. But it's hard to know that our son is on the other side of the world, and we can't be with him yet. I'll be posting more about our time in Russia in other posts, but I thought people might be interested in where we're at with our process. In no particular order, here are some thoughts/points for those following along on our journey:

  • The next step is the court phase. This will be a short trip (a few days) that only I will go back for, and it'll probably be some time in February, but we're not sure. The latest we've heard is that the Kyrgyz government officials are on holiday until January 20, and then our paperwork takes about two weeks to process. I'll update this blog as soon as we know something new.
  • Please feel free to ask us about the good times we had with our boy. We'd love to share stories with you about the fun we had with him, his loving personality, and the adorable things he did.
  • Unless you are immediate family members, we are not allowed to share pictures of our boy's face or his Kyrgyz name at this time. We're also not going to share the name we've chosen for him yet (with anybody). And we don't plan on ever sharing information about his birthparents or personal history before coming to us. That'll be his information to share in the future if he chooses. There's not a lot to know anyway!
  • Not that any of you would, but please don't say insulting things about birthparents who choose adoption for their children, international adoption in general, our child's country of birth (Russia), homeland (Kyrgyzstan), or the people who live there. While we'd love to have intelligent conversations about cultural differences and such, I might go all "momma bear" on you if the conversation turns judgmental or negative based on ignorance or inexperience with these issues or these countries. 
  • Know that we know nothing! We're going to be thrown into immediate parenting of a toddler-aged child, and we're definitely not prepared. Be patient with us as we try to figure out toddler beds, strollers, clothes, food, toys, doctors, etc. We'll gladly take all of the help and advice anyone is willing to give, but some of it we'll have to figure out on our own, and some of it will look different from parenting a biological child.
  • This blog will only remain password protected until after our court date. We just don't want to jeopardize anything, so we wanted a bit of control over who reads these posts. Sorry if it's a pain, and I know sometimes it asks for the password multiple times, but I'm working on it! We appreciate your patience and understanding.
  • Thanks for your support and love! We've received so many beautiful messages of happiness for our journey, and we're excited to share it with you. We've got a long way to go, but the first visit with our son couldn't have gone any better, and we're looking forward to moving on to the next step! 

Looking Forward to 2015

We started New Year's Eve day by hiring a driver to take us around Moscow to some important landmarks in our little boy's life. We visited the hospital where he was born and the orphanage where he lived for almost a year before being brought to Kyrgyzstan. While those pictures will be just for him, I will say that it was special to see these spots and be in the places that played a part in his life before he came to us.

We then made a stop by the famous Gorky Park before heading back toward the hotel for lunch and then a nap in order to prepare for the evening's festivities.

Zack had the awesome idea to see a show, and we were able to get decently priced tickets from our hotel for the New Year's Eve performance of the Nutcracker ballet at the Bolshoi Theatre. It was absolutely amazing! The music, the dancing, the theatre, the crowd...everything was spectacular. What an experience!

After going back to the hotel to put on several layers of warm clothing, we headed back out to join the crowds near Red Square. We were too late to actually get into the area (it was already blocked off), but we could still see the fireworks and have some fun. Russians seem to like to light sparklers, pop champagne, and shoot off things when the clock strikes midnight. One guy was shooting off a Roman candle right above our heads! We had the stereotype that Russians would be drinking tons of vodka, but we didn't witness any drunkenness at all. People seemed to be out just walking around and having fun.

New Year's Eve was certainly special this year, and we hope that 2015 brings everyone health and happiness, and a certain little boy home to Denver to be a part of the Keys family forever!

Food for Thought

One of the things that impressed us most about Moscow was the food. The restaurants there rivaled places like New York City in number, decor, and quality (and price!), and we didn't have a disappointing meal.

From beautifully designed drinks... breakfasts that looked like works of art... traditional borscht (beet soup) that actually tasted good... delicious little meat dumplings called pelmini... main dishes that you almost didn't want to destroy by eating... pistachio creme brûlée that was served lit on fire... numerous other desserts that made choosing just one SO hard to do...thank you Moscow for making our tummies happy!

Moscow Tourist Time

On our first full day in Moscow, we did all of the touristy things one is supposed to do in Moscow. We had no idea what to expect of this city, so we were surprised at its size and its beauty (and its cold temperatures!). We first walked from our hotel to the Kremlin (basically the DC/White House area of Russia) and toured the various cathedrals. Each one was a bit different, but they were all beautiful inside. Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to take any pictures of the interiors of these places.

I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that before coming here, I didn't really even know what the Kremlin was exactly, and I definitely didn't expect there to be so many beautiful buildings within the complex or all over Russia in general. There are random gorgeous churches and examples of awesome architecture all over the place.

After leaving the Kremlin, the highlight of our tourist adventure was visiting Red Square and St. Basil's Cathedral, the Russian building everyone recognizes. This thing truly looks like it is out of some fairy tale! The colors and designs are so funky; I loved it.

We were allowed to take pictures inside of here, and some parts of it were similar to the cathedrals in the Kremlin. Other parts were more vibrantly colored, and there were several corridors and steps and rooms to explore. I really liked the beautiful paintings at the top of various cathedral domes. There were ones with geometric designs, others with Jesus or the trinity, and the colorful one below with Mary.

Touring the cathedrals allowed us to be out of the freezing cold temperatures for a bit, although the upper part of St. Basil's wasn't much warmer than outside! There were many times during the day when I couldn't feel my fingers or face.

Another building we entered to get warm was the GUM (pronounced "goom" not "gum"). This is a huge department store alongside the Red Square, and it was totally decked out for the holidays. We had fun grabbing a quick lunch, browsing the stores, enjoying the decorations, and drinking some of the best hot cocoa I've ever had.

Walking around the Red Square, where there was a Christmas festival going on, made me finally feel like it was the Christmas season. Though I was freezing, it was an awesome experience to see such a unique part of the world and visit attractions I never thought I'd see in person. Moscow, we were impressed!