Now that we have a firm travel date, there is so much to do to prepare! I've researched airline schedules and fares; we're currently holding seats on Lufthansa leaving Boston on September 28. We will be sending our passports off to the KZ embassy next week along with our visa applications. We're still waiting to hear about any documents that will need to be updated again...it's always something!
We're leaving our kids home this trip, a first for us but since school begins before we leave, it's a necessity. We're so lucky to have friends and family who have offered to help while we're away! Aunt Donna (Craig's sister) has volunteered to fly in from Oregon to stay in our house and care for our kids...she's a brave woman to step into our crazy family life. What an incredible gift she is giving us...we can go to KZ with complete peace of mind, knowing that our kids are well cared for at home, following their normal routine and sleeping in their own beds.
We're busily stocking the freezer and shelves with extra food, paper goods and household supplies since we won't be home to make our weekly run to Costco. In addition to the new backpacks and clothes we always purchase for the start of the new school year, we've purchased fall jackets, warm pj's, and cozy new blankets for our kids' beds...we probably won't be home when Autumn's chill really arrives in New England and we want the kids to have what they need. I'm also writing a survival manual for Aunt Donna which includes our daily schedule, house rules, chores, and a calendar of appointments for the kids...it's 10 pages already and I'm still writing...I had no clue how complicated our lives are!
Most of all, we're talking each day about what it will be like for Mom and Dad to be away for a month. Since Tanya and Max have both suffered abandonment in the past, we know how important it is for them to get used to the idea of our absence and to be reassured that we are coming home again...and let's not forget our Kate who doesn't even do sleepovers with friends! We have Aunt Donna and Uncle Woody's picture on our fridge and we talk a lot about how much fun it will be to have them staying in our home. I've asked each of the kids to include something in my survival guide about their likes or dislikes so that they feel a bit more in control of things; we've made a list of comfort foods that Aunt Donna could prepare when Mom's cooking is being missed. We've purchased an unlocked phone and found a plan that will allow us to talk to the kids every day from KZ and we're discussing the best times to call each other. We've always done email updates to family and friends whenever we've adopted but this time, I decided to do a blog so Kate, Tanya and Max can easily follow our journey and comment on our postings. The widgets I've put on the blog were chosen for our kids...they can check as often as they like to see what time it is in KZ, what the weather is like, etc. The kids all have access to a computer so whenever anyone needs to feel closer to Mom and Dad, we'll be only a click away.
Craig and I are pre-packing, setting things aside that we want to bring along and checking to make sure our converter still works...it wouldn't do to not be able to charge up our various electronic devices like our laptop and phone. I have a bag full of travel items and toiletries that we've found useful on our past trips as well as small gifts for Aniyar and Madiyar. We're planning our clothes for fall travel and picking out our court outfits. We're also beginning the process of collecting clean $100 bills to carry with us; KZ is still a very cash based economy and credit cards aren't much use outside of the major cities. We aren't worried about food items...we've been to KZ enough to know that we can get almost any type of food we need or want there (with the exception of peanut butter which we will bring along). We also have come to really enjoy the local cuisine and are looking forward to some of our favorite dishes...I can taste the spicy carrot salad now!!!
We haven't forgotten our boys in KZ either...with the help of my internet friend, Anne, we've arranged for the boys to take English lessons along with Borya, the boy Anne is trying to adopt, and Zaira, a girl our other internet friend Tina would love to adopt. (Thanks, Anne!) We hope this will help Aniyar and Madiyar to pass the time until we arrive...only six more weeks. Now where did I put my Russian phrase book???