Sunday, March 2, 2008

notes from our 1st trip

Today's sermon was interesting. Our pastor talked about how sometimes we don't know why things happen. Sometimes all we know is Jesus. Because right now, there seems to be no good explanation for our court date delay, yes, I felt like he was talking to me.

This post is a little overdue, since we've been home for 2 weeks now (seems like months), but since some of you are about to travel on your 1st trip (Kar, Denise, and Becky!), I thought I'd mention what worked for us.

We did not eat out while we were there. We fixed meals in the apartment instead. I have an allergy to tree nuts, so restaurants can be a problem. But, it turns out, by the time we got back to the apartment in the evening, after spending hours in the car, we were drained and tired, and didn't feel like going back out in the cold to search for food anyway! Katia took us to the grocery store twice, once Sunday right after we arrived, and again on Thursday. We bought bread, cheese, and meat for sandwiches in the car, as well as milk and eggs. R got a microwave dinner that he said was ok. Some kind of shepherd's pie type thing. We brought from home: boil in the bag brown rice, soup, easy Mac, chicken & tuna in the pouches, and peanut butter. We also brought protein bars and granola for our time in the car. We tried to eat protein, so we would have the energy to get through the day, and that worked well. Moscow restaurants can be very expensive, so we ended up saving some $.

things I wish I had taken:
~ I forgot to follow Rob's advice and bring a long network cable. The modem was on 1 side of the room, and the available outlet was on the other. Not convenient. Next trip I'm definitely taking the 25 ft cable he recommended!

~ short sleeve shirt
It was warm in the apartment. I'm cold natured, and even I was warm. Definitely taking one on the next trip.

~ hat
I used the hood on my jacket instead, but then I had no peripheral vision. I could only see in front of me, which was annoying when I was trying to look around and see the sights. I felt like a turtle!

~ something mindless to read, like a magazine
In the apartment, we had Turner Classic Movies, the Hallmark channel, Discovery, Animal Planet, CNN, and BBC World. Not much to watch when I just wanted to unwind. We ended up watching CNN a lot, but that reminded me too much of all the hours we spent in the airport!

things I could have skipped:
~ one little bottle of hand sanitizer would have been enough. Dede mentioned this too.

~ small bottle of dish soap
The apartment had both dish soap and laundry detergent.

~ sunglasses
Anton's car had tinted windows, and the sun didn't shine that much while we were there.

~ pillowcases
I thought it would be nice to have something from home, but the pillows were square, and our rectangular cases didn't fit!

things I was glad that I had:
~ sink stopper
There wasn't one in the apartment.

~ big fuzzy comfy socks to wear at night

~ yoga pants to lounge in at night

~ washcloths
I brought 4. There were none in the apartment. They were nice to have to wash my face. I also took one to the orphanage, because Eli was drooling a lot. And he also spit up on me one of the days we were there.

~ shout wipes

~ tea and folger's coffee singles

~ my laptop
We took it with us, and I wrote emails and blog entries in the car on the way back from the orphanage. It was a good way to pass the time, and I was able to write while everything was still fresh in my mind. I wrote a long journal entry every day, with lots of details. I wrote more than I posted as blog entries, because some of the details and feelings I didn't want to share publicly, but they are now saved for Eli to read when he is older. There's no way I could have captured all the details if I had waited until we returned home to write it.

~ airborne
I took Lori's advice and used it on the plane, as well as 2 days after we arrived. I didn't get sick, even though people behind us on the plane seemed to be coughing a lot.

~ silk long underwear bottoms
Wore them the last 2 days we were there because the weather turned colder, and we were glad we had them. Right after we arrived, we went to Red Square to do a little sightseeing, and we weren't wearing them. The cold air just seemed to cut through our pants, straight to our skin. I remembered what Rob had said about that, so we wore them on Thursday, when we did the rest of our sightseeing, and we were more comfortable. They were thin enough that I didn't feel too warm when we were inside. I didn't wear them in the apartment though!

~ thank you cards
We used them when we paid our driver and translator at the end of the week. I got long skinny ones at Target, so the US dollars would fit inside without having to be folded. We wrote a note inside each, thanking them for taking such good care of us during the week.

~ board books for Eli
We had the "Touch & Feel Farm" book and another board book, and he seemed to enjoy those the most. It was something we could do while he was sitting in my lap, since that's really what he wanted to do. He wasn't as interested in playing with toys on the floor.

~ blanket for Eli
We slept with it so it would have our scent, and then we left it with him on the last day, in hopes that they would put it in his crib.

~ thinner sweaters
Each day, I wore a long sleeve shirt with a thin/medium weight sweater, and I was very comfortable. A heavy bulky sweater would not have worked as well.

Another tip:
Register your trip with the US State Dept., so the US Embassy knows you are there, in case of emergency. It wasn't required, but gave us a little extra peace of mind.

We're so happy for those who are traveling to meet their precious babies soon!


Becky and Keith said...

This post is GREAT! Thank you for all of the great ideas. I hadn't read about the longer internet cable and that is a must have for us. I think your sermon today was perfect timing and hopefully it helped put you at ease a bit. I know you must be dying to get back to Eli. Those os us waiting for the 1st trip think waiting is hard. Wait until between trips 1 and 2, right?? :-) Thanks again for sharing!

Denise and Mike said...

Thank you, what a wealth of information. I am just getting ready to start packing this week. Thanks for thinking of us!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the food that you brought for your trip. My husband and I fixed most of our meals in our room. We brought the tuna pouches, rice packets, pasta pouches, etc. We also brought a pot from the Dollar Store to use and left at the hotel in Moscow on our way home. We also bought several "camping meals" we found in an outdoor store which turned out to be quite tasty. We saved a lot of money this way.

Anonymous said...

By the way, our son's name is Eli too. He is doing quite well. Good luck...

Rob said...

We brought a lot of the same kinds of foods and were able to have quite a few meals in the apartment. The other thing we did is purchase pasta, grated cheese, & some jarred Bolonaisse (meat) sauce. Combined with some crusty fresh-baked bread from the market, this made for a pretty decent "spaghetti" dinner several times.

The Peace Travel apartments all seem to feature pretty well-stocked kitchens with sufficient pots, pans, & utensils for cooking.

If you're going to be in an apartment for awhile - remember,, we combined the 2nd & 3rd trips into one - it might also be worthwhile to bring along a 25' phone cord. We took full advantage of the free international calling, but were saddled with a fairly short cable.

Sally & Carlos said...

All terrific points, esp. the short-sleeved shirts...boy, those Russians know how to heat the indoors! I saw a "Llama blanket" (blue with brown, very funky and cute) in the Target baby dept. and thought of you. All the best, Sally (P.S. The Target llama blanket was on sale :-)...let me know if you can't find it). S.

Carol said...

Thank you! I have learned a lot from reading this post. I didn't even think of the cable. Thanks again. Best wishes on your next trip.