Hello, NCAA?  I’ve got my own March Madness here.  It started on March 1st.  We had just received our travel dates a few days prior so I had already booked three, non-refundable round trip tickets for me, John and Sophie to go to Moscow and bring Ava home at last.  I had also researched and paid for a cute apartment so the four of us would not be so crowded in a small hotel room.

On March 1st, I sat down to complete Sophie’s online application for her tourist visa when I realized that HER U.S. PASSPORT HAD EXPIRED LAST NOVEMBER.  What to do?  We were leaving on the 13th and even expedited service wouldn’t help at all.  Enter a timely phone call to my local senator.  His office manager handled the entire thing for me and I had the new passport in hand on March 5th.

We still had to take Sophie out of school, John had to take off work, and I had to locate all her original documents to apply for the renewal; but there is NO WAY it could have been done so quickly without their help.  (Guess who has MY vote for senator.)

On March 5th, I called the agency who had helped us with our visas on our previous trips to ask a few questions about Sophie’s application since she was born in Russia and had a Russian name previously.  I was informed that because she held dual citizenship, she MUST travel with her Russian passport which had long expired.

Excellent.  Now I am desperately sad because I really wanted her to come.  And I have a desperately sad daughter.  And I just pissed away the cost of her plane ticket.

Somehow this last full week before I leave, I have managed to schedule a doctor’s appointment, a dentist appointment and an eye doctor’s appointment.   Like I had nothing else to do.

Nightmares, enter stage left.  Both Sophie and I begin having horrible dreams at night culminating in her being unable to sleep at all the last three nights we were home unless she could sleep with me.  That last night, we hunkered down and had yet another good cry about her not being able to come and about her fears with us being gone.

On March 12th, we are completely packed if not totally ready.  Everyday I realize that I’ve forgotten something.  Sometimes really big somethings.  After dropping the Princess at Bubs and Pops’ house, we run a couple of last minute errands and then drive the two and a half hours to the largest of the area airports so we can save time (and sanity) when we fly out on the 13th at 1:30pm.  Steak dinner, some wine and finally a good night’s sleep before boarding tomorrow…when suddenly…

At 5:30 am, I sit STRAIGHT UP in my comfy hotel bed and realize WE FORGOT TO PACK OUR COATS.  TO GO TO RUSSIA.  IN THE WINTER.

After a quick scramble and a few frazzled phone calls, my nephew is en route to pick up the coats and drive halfway to meet John for the hand off.  Due to traffic, John’s drive time was doubled from the previous day.  He came back to the hotel, took a shower, and away we headed to the airport.

At this point, we have arrived safely in Russia.  The apartment is just as described.  We have baby Ava in our custody with her Russian passport in hand.  We have appointments with a physician on Monday and at the U.S. Embassy on Tuesday to secure her visa.  Good Lord willing, I have run out of bad luck and it will be smooth sailing from here.

And stop laughing at me.