Monday, October 29, 2007

One year later....

A year has passed…and it went by so fast!

Carrington’s adoption was finalized a year ago. It all seems so surreal.

On that raining day in October, as I left John and Carrington behind I couldn’t help but feel like I had just received a ‘Get out of jail free’ card. I found myself arriving home to my three boys, so happy to hold them, yet bone tired and weary from jet lag. Although I missed John and Carrington, I truly was so glad to be back in my own house and my own bed….

And I spent my time thinking: “There’s no place like home! There’s no place like home!”

Aidan and I started decorating our home for the holidays, searching for Halloween costumes, and I was preparing to be a single mom for three weeks. Aidan was excited to know his new brother was coming home, his momma was there, and all was right with his world.

Now, I find it as if Carrington has always been with us – like he was here in spirit all along. He has his challenges, but has come so far. He is an energetic, loving and ‘most of the time’ a polite child. My favorite thing is when he hugs me tight and says, ”I love you mom!” Totally unprompted – with as much love as mom can hope to receive.

So I find myself wanting to move on with Carrington’s story. This chapter of his life has ended…he is no longer a survivor; he is living…as a child with a home and a family.

If you are finding my Blog for the first time, welcome! I started it in order to share my story from a special prospective. That of a family that found a child they never knew they were missing through hosting. Please start in the archives at September ‘06 and read up and away…that is when I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and started sharing my story.

And, if you are inclined, I invite you to follow us in our new journey for our little girl I refer to as ‘Rose’.

Take care and may God bless you on your journey of love…


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Finally, here are some new pictures and a update...

The Patterson family has been very busy! I can't believe it has been 7 months since my last time flies!
In a few days Carrington will have been home 9 months. Time has flown. He is enjoying his summer to the fullest. The only downer for him is that due to all of the countless summer trips and events, our pool is not up. We hear about it often :)
As I write this, John and Carrington are in the Uukraine with RU4Children. My husband is directing a leadership camp for orphaned children in Kharkiv. They hike 5 or so miles each day and then set up camp. Once settled in they learn about leadership through encounters and God through prayer and lessons. They reached Crimea today and I heard from John for the first time since he has left. They are having a super time. I asked how Carrington was doing. John said he was doing great and quite a novelty among the other children who have so many questions about America and his family here. AND, John has a built in translator...and it gives Carrington some interesting status to be able to speak two different languages.
Carrington finished his first school year with terrific grades. I am very proud of his accomplishments. He tries hard to learn and please. We are still dealing with the issues of disrespect in voice tone and words/actions. But that too is improving greatly.
I finally was able to get the pictures off of my camera of our trip to Ukraine and I have inserted them into the appropriate posts. Here are a few below.
One of the only two pictures I have of Carrington as a little boy. He is 8 yrs old here and this was taken before he was transferred to the boarding school.

This is the picture of him taken for URGEX. We we did not see this until after he was on his way. He is the child on the far left. Look at that smirk !

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Christmas we will never forget!

Bryce, Aidan, Chris
me, John,
and Carrington
Merry Christmas dear friends!
This family photo is so near and dear to my heart! I cannot describe to you how wonderful it was to be together as a family and having this moment caught forever in time! The joy of this time together was clearly plastered all over our faces! Carrington even requested a 'crazy' photo which was taken where the older boys are holding him and Aidan upside down...I will try to upload it later.
Christmas at the Patterson's has been eventful! Many friends and family stopped by Saturday and we made sugar cookies that night. Chris and Bryce helped round out the evening by playing 'Santa" and finished up the gifts under the tree for the next morning. They have as much fun with this as we do...
Christmas morning was met with much glee and excitement as Carrington ran down the hall way to be greeted by a brand new bike. To that date Carrington has been riding an older 10 speed which his legs were about 10 inches to short for...but with great determination he made due. He would tell us 'It's okay mama - I fall off okay - it's good job!" Which translated means that he jumps off the bike before it crashes to the ground and somehow avoids any bumps or bruises. The new bike is a 22 inch rough terrain cycle and much better suited for such a small boy. Aidan received the Leapster video player and is in hog heaven. Between Santa and all our family and friends, they both are well equiped for many months of fun...
As far as Carrington's introduction to American life, he is doing very well. In fact, Carrington started school 4 weeks ago and to date seems to be doing well. However, we have had several instances where daddy had to show up at school (much to an embarrassed Carrington's dismay). With Carrington there is no grey, only black and white. Justice is very important to him. If one person gets a 'talking to" then the other person should also. As we all know that does not always happen in the schools. Actually, a couple of referrals are already under his belt, but he REALLY likes the Principle, which is good. John convinced him that the Principle is his (John's) friend. He can go to the Principle for anything. The reason this is good is because Carrington really has no reason to trust many adults. (He even told us Christmas Eve morning that one of his teachers stole his CD player, to give to her daughter, and his picture book of his trip here. It was the one he called a bad name while we were there-LOL!He was very matter of fact but says he has his real family now so it doesn't matter...*sniff sniff* little man is so good hearted!) The last time there was a problem in class, Carrington walked right out and went to the office. Of course we had to remind him to ask permission first...the independence issues that follow life in an orpahnage are tough to deal with at times. They are use to being so self sufficient.
The latest incident was when he was being silly in class and the teacher asked him to stand outside. After 5 or so minutes she told him to come in, at which he decided he WOULD NOT...Sooo, that was the first referral :) The second incident was when a game of wresteling got out of hand and Carrington decided "Hey, if you're gonna take someone down, you take them ALL the way down". Not school friendly to say the least. Hence forth daddy's second visit to school.
The children play so rough at the orphanages that it is really hard for them to play any different, but Carrington is adjusting. All is all Carrington has done so well in his transition that it is mind numbing. His English is terrific, and even though he speaks no Ukranian while at home, he and our friends' son Valera talk to each other in their foreign tongue weekly. If it wasn't for his sweet accent, you would never guess he is not a born American. All in all he fits our family like a glove...
We are all so blessed and to have this child in our lives. I am so grateful that he arrived home before the Holidays, and I will always remember this time in our lives where we celebrated Christ's birth and celebrated family caring as a complete and forever family.
Thank you God, you are so good.
Happy New Year to all!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

If a picture could talk...

It would say " Let me tell you the story of a little boy who found his true family waiting for him in America"...

Carrington and Aidan leaving the airport...
I don't think I need to say more than
My cup runneth over...

The Arrival...

Kevin, Jacob, Teresa, Bryceton, John and I, Chris, and Mike

Carrington, Aidan, Valera, and Marie

Appropriately named by my friend Mike, 'The Arrival' took place in the early morning of Saturday November 11th. Aidan and I had been up since 5 am in anticipation of the homecoming. I met my friends in the airport lobby and we were all ready to greet John and Carrington with fun signs and flags, but they snuck up on us the same way I did my boys when I came home. There we were, all talking and socializing when someone said "There's John!" Darn! He came strolling through the glass doors with Carrington - big smile on his face and all!

I waived my 'Welcome Home Carrington' banner for 2 seconds then ran to greet my new son. He jumped into my arms as Aidan jumped into Johns and were were done! We are now a family together at last! I gotta tell ya, it feels GREAT! The long adventure is finally over, and a new one now begins.

I thank God who in all things are possible - for I would not have this child in my life if it were not for Him. I am thankful for the love and support of my friends & family who have been with us each and every step of the way. I thank our church family for their donations and spiritual caring as we set upon this goal to add Carrington to our family. I am grateful to Ninel and all her hard work through URGEX and the hosting program she supports. And I especially thank Marie Bebe whom without her love and caring for these Ukrainian children I would never had met Carrington to begin with.

And the fact that gives me goose bumps on my goose bumps, and has put tears in my eyes once more: It has recently come to my attention that it was exactly one year ago this weekend that it was announced during church services that there was a child coming to visit here through a hosting program who needed a family to show him America. It gives me great warmth and joy in my heart to know that not only were we that family then, but we now will be that family FOREVER...

May God bless you all wherever you are in your life path as He has us...

From greatful heart...

Notes from John

November 4, 2006
Good Morning Friends,

All is well in Ukraine. I awoke this morning to a deafening quiet. After a night of the wind howling thru the cracks around the window and trees banging against the building, not a creature was stirring not even a goose. To my surprise when I looked out the window all was white. Snow had graced the little village of Sakhnovschina, but it was lost on the inhabitance.

As I walked Oleg to school, for the last time, a car raced around the corner. Splashing ice and mud on the sidewalk and racing by within inches, like a Formula One race car driver. Life is the same as the day before, just a little colder. Welcome to Fall in Ukraine.

I spent most of last week in Kharkov working with Trey and Slava at Orphanage #4. There is an amazing difference in the children at this orphanage. As we walked thru the building many of the children ran to greet us with smiles and hugs. Clearly there is a healthy relationship with these children.

RU4Children was given a storage room for their materials and educational supplies. I was asked to help clean and organize this area. What a challenge, without the proper tools and supplies, well lets just say “you can not make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”. The children were excited to help us. Just a few at first, later we had to divide the children into two teams. The space was too small to have everyone in the room at one time. The boys were moving boxes furniture while I was teaching the girls to drill holes and drive screws. By the end of the day we were joking and having a good time.

The next day we bought paint for the door into the storage room. As soon as I started painting the door, here came the boys asking to help. As each child took a turn paining a small section of the door, I could not help but think about Tom Sawyer. Life is not that much different here.

I returned to Sakhnovschina Friday morning. This is the last day of our 10 day waiting period. The court decree is final on Saturday, but of course the Court is closed on Saturday. So Monday morning bright and early I will get the necessary paperwork to get Carrington (aka Oleg) release from the school. The importance of this day is not lost on Oleg. We were walking home from school Friday evening he brought up the subject of his “Ukrainian family”. We talked about his brother; I showed him pictures and a short video clip of our meeting. Oleg played the video clip over and over watching the details and asking questions. He is excited to meet his brother and to take him a gift. He shows great concern for his brother, asking to take him some food because “the food in the orphanage is bad.”

Oleg said he has never met his Father and does not know his name. His Mother; he remembers her name, face and the color of her eyes, but not much more. He stated his opinion of her very clearly several times and pulled no punches. We talked for two hours discussing family and dreams of his new life. This has been the most profound evening of my trip.

Well Sunday is the Good-bye party for Oleg’s friends. He is in the gift giving mode, being sure to give something small to friends and teachers. He has given away several items of new clothing that we have bought him. It warms my heart to see my son, who has had so little in life is generous to others.

This next week will stark contrast to the last three weeks. We will make our way to Kharkov and then Kiev. Stopping along the way to meet officials and gather documents that will allow us to leave Ukraine and return to the US. I have an appointment with the US Embassy in Kiev on Wednesday. Then, I hope to leave Kiev no later than Friday November 10.

God Bless you all and I hope to see you soon.

John P

Saturday, October 28, 2006

It's official!

Dear friends and family - We are now a complete family! At 3:15 on Wednsday the 25th of October the court judge declared that Oleg was now part of our family! I introduce to you the official name of our new son: Carrington Oleg Patterson. (Pictures will be posted asap - waiting on John to upload them from Slava's house Monday)

Ukraine children have no middle names. We presented Oleg with three names John and I liked. Oleg choose Carrington. He told us "Oleg in Ukraine, Carrington in America, OK?" So there you have it...Oleg will be going by Carrington when he hits the states.

We are so awed by all of this. We are grateful to God, humbled, and find that most of the time there are no words to express our joy in this journey. Oleg is OURS...and our lives have been trully blessed by God.

O yeah! HAPPY HAPPY, JOY JOY! I am doing the Snoopy dance! As I write I am at MY home in front of MY computer after sleeping in MY bed..and would kiss the ground if I didn't think I would catch something (I've burned up every ounce of sick leave...can't afford to be sick!)

As I wearily dragged myself off the final flight to Bako I was greeted by My dear friend Stephanie, Chris, Bryce and Aidan. I cried big time! I am soooo happy to be home! I was touched to see and hug my boys. It is so great to be HOME!

All in all thet plane ride back was okay...I'm just not tickled to fly half way across the world by myself. The service was excellent, it was just lonnnng! I flew over France, Ice Land, Green Land, the Hudson Bay, Canada, the Dakotas, the Rockies, and the closer we got the the west coast the more emotional I got. Europe is beautiful, but NOTHING holds a candle to the good old US of A. Our land is beautiful, magnificent, and unique. I am proud to be an American. I am happy to be on my own soil, and THRILLED to be where people understand English! LOL It take a couple more hours in flight arrive here than it did flying over. I find myself a little light headed, kinda need my 'land legs' back, but should be back on track tomorrow. As I said I am just so thrilled to finally be HOME!

Current status is Oleg will remain at the boarding school this coming week (Monday to Friday) during some of the 10 day waiting period which will expire Monday November 6 (gotta include the weekend ARHG!) John is needed to assist with some projects at the Destiny Center (RU4Children). We cannot take Oleg out of the region so he will have to stay. Oleg is fine with this, as it is just Monday thru Friday, and John will be back in time to see him Friday afternoon. They will have a going away party for Oleg and his class. I bought each child a towel, socks, candy and cookies in Kharkiv for John so all he has to do is put it together...they ware planning on doing it Saturday Nov. 4th. It will be sad for the children to see Oleg go. :(

Once we hit the 11/6 day, the court decree can be picked up, and they need to make arrangements to finish the passport, visa, health check, and rearrange their flights home. John will be taking Oleg to see his brother Alex before they leave Kharkiv for Kiev, so that will delay them a bit too. We are shooting for that Friday or Saturday. We should hopefully know an exact date by the beginning of next week. I am just anxious for them to come home soon!

Big party coming gang! BIG Party!
*Grinning from ear to ear!*

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

October 24th

Tuesday October 24, 2006

We are on our way to Kharkiv to visit with Slava, Polina, and their new baby Michael. We were supposed to leave Sak. At 9 am. But it was very foggy and Andrew could not get to us till almost 11:30. The sun did make its way out however and as I write we are on our way. Unfortunately Oleg remains in school as we cannot take him out of the area. He understands that we will return Wednesday for court. The timing seems good as we woke up yesterday to no water and found out last night it will remain that way for three days. John and Oleg had to find the area well and trudge back water for us.

The tree leaves are turning all different shades of gold, yellow, red, and orange. A true Fall. Something we don’t get to see a lot of in Bakersfield. The drive through this part of the country is picturesque. It reminds me of picture postcards form Vermont or New England. The roads are clear and there is more animal traffic than cars. At any given point you will see a man walking his cow by a rope, or another person shooing his or her geese across the road with a branch of leaves.

I have learned a lot about the culture out here in the middle of nowhere. People live in brick or cement buildings – a contrast to our wood and beam building techniques. The paint their door and window sashes different colors according to the region they live in and its characteristics’. For example, if they live near a lot of water, then blue is predominately used. If they live near a lot of trees, then it is green. Sak. has a lot of both of these colors on doors and windows.

I am excited to be finally going to court tomorrow...then I am on my way home! I will not be on a computer again till that time, so I will see you all soon!

Praise the Lord for he is GREAT!


Daily journal...Days eight and nine

Days eight and nine – The sun is finally out!

It is a balmy 50 degrees here in Sak. The sun is shining ands my spirits are higher! I hate the doom and gloom that comes with clouds and rain. My psyche does much better when the sun is out and about.

Oleg was has been able to spend more time with us. John sat down and showed Oleg the calendar of events and the time line for him to come home. Oleg seemed quite happy that he and papa will be hanging out alone together…male bonding time…LOL

We taught Oleg how to play Skip Bo. Everything we teach him he picks up on quickly and wipes the board with us. He wins everything! I don’t know where he gets them from, but he will draw four or five wild cards off the deck, then turn over his pile card and there is another wild card. And I dealt them, so I know he is not cheating. He’s a card shark!

The ping pong table arrived today. After some deliberation on the best way to actually get the awkward and heavy box in the building, they then had to decide where to put it. It ended up on the boarding (sleeping) side in the common area. These are wide open areas off to the side of the building. The perfect place for a ping pong table. There were several men standing around to help, but John ad Andrew did a bulk of it. A particularly funny part was when John opened the box and threw the instructions over his shoulder. Andrew laughed and shook his head yes…It was hysterical. See gals, even in the Ukraine men don’t need instructions! LOL. Well, in the end they did need the instructions and I have to say both John and I are very impressed with the professional quality of this ping pong table. The children stood around and watched the whole time – they were SO EXCITED! John and I stood at it and played a back and forth a few times, and then the children lined up for their turns. When John returned three hours later the children were lined up ten deep waiting to play. It’s a HIT! It is located outside of the ‘Faith and Trust” room and it appears they will roll it in there for safe keeping when not in use. I plan on fund raising for two more tables - they are sorely needed as there is not a lot for these children to do.

Oleg’s P.E teachers came and visited us last night. What a HOOT! Their names are Igor and Katarina. Igor was a little sauced with Vodka, but most men around here are. Not drunk like get out of my face, just really tipsy and funny. He kept saying “I – no…WE Love America!” Except this was yelled out…REALLY loud. Over and again. He has a booming voice and I’m sure all of the neighbors could hear him. LOL. They are very happy for Oleg and we toasted to Oleg’s new Mama and Papa and taught them how to play Go fish. When they finally left they were yelling at us down the stair case “We love you our American friends!” at 11 pm at night…I’m sure the neighbors loved it…

Speaking of neighbors. There is older man that lives below us. Apparently our water valves were leaking and running down his walls. He came up twice to talk to us and kept pointing at the floor. We didn’t understand him and finally had to have Irene translate on the phone for us. After we figured out what the problem was we went to investigate and sure enough the pipes under the kitchen sink were leaking. We didn’t see it because there are carpets all over the floors and it went down instead of out. So, the landlady came and brought a guy with her to fix it. We thought all was fine until a bath Friday night. We were all dressed for bed and watching a movie when I hear this pounding sound. John gets up and checks the front door and there is no one there. About 10 minutes later there is more pounding, but louder this time. Once again John gets up and checks the door. No one there. Hmmmmm. Interesting! John figures maybe the neighbor is not happy with the noise in the bathroom as it was late at night and was banging on the ceiling to tell us so.

Right as I am falling asleep there is this awful pounding on our front door. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! John and I both bolt straight up in bed. What the heck? This time there is someone at the front door. He is ranting and raving, pointing at the floor. We already know now what this has to be about so we have Irene call the landlady and have them get over there ASAP. Apparently it was now a waterfall of water and the poor guy was floating away. They had no choice but to shut our water off till the next day and while we were dealing with the ping pong table they fixed it. The tub and kitchen sink drain were leaking and they had to cut a hole in the side of the tub to fix it. The good news was when he finished the bathroom no longer smelled. The bad news was that as soon as we used the tub area it started to smell like sewer again. So, now we know where the mysterious bad smell is from…the drains. I will be calling again this morning to try and get this fixed. I can hardly stand to go into the bathroom the smell is so bad in there.

Today is Sunday and John and Oleg went to the outdoor market together. Along with groceries they brought me back roses. Very sweet of them! They also purchased a piggy bank for Oleg’s best friend Sasha and we are filling it with coins. Sasha is a sweet boy and if they continue the hosting program we will bring him out in the summer to spend time with Oleg. He will miss his friend.

Tuesday we leave for Kharkiv. We are going to visit Slava and Polina and their new baby Michael. John is accompanying Slava to the airport to pick up Trey. We will spend the day together and go to the market etc…then back to Sak. for court on Wednesday. I will be updating the blog from there.

Take care! We miss and love you all!

Daily journal...Days five and six...

Day five and six…Still cold and raining! 42 degrees. BRRRRR!

So, let’s start this journal off right. For your entertainment I have some follow up thoughts concerning my current thoughts of the Ukraine:

Kharkov does not suite my tastes. I don’t like anything about it. Others find it old, quaint and charming, but not I. I just find it old and irritating.

In Sak. the ladies in this region are heavier…I have seen very few thin people like I mentioned in Kiev. They still mostly walk, but I guess they don’t have to walk as far as in Kiev. So therefore in that forum I feel right at home and blend in well....:)

They cook a lot of fattening and starchy foods here. It all tastes yummy, but you gotta watch it or it will pile on your hips real fast. Most of what they cook I do not eat as part of my everyday diet so I am safe :) On the other hand, John is a different story.

Absolutely at NO time do you drink the water here…can you say Chernobyl?

Hardly anyone looks you in the eye…if they do they rarely ever smile.

There seem to be many more old people on the streets than younger. I just don’t see a lot of ‘30 something’ folks…I’m sure they are here somewhere though…

And I’m sure you will find this amusing. There are attack geese here! I literally was chased by one the other day! Here I was walking home – minding my own business - and there was a whole herd of them beside the road eating and drinking water our of the pot holes. (Apparently rain water fall after Chernobyl doesn’t scare ‘em any) A person was riding past me in a bike so I scooted closer to the center of the road and I guess I over stepped my bounds ‘cause next thing I know there is a goose nipping at my boots. I turned and walked away quickly, but obviously not fast enough. It came after me with a vengeance. The old lady standing there was laughing and trying to shoo the goose back where it belonged, but it obviously wanted a good bite out of me. I broke out in a full run to get away. I fully believe she was standing there laughing at this crazy American woman afraid of a ‘woman’ eating attack goose. I’m pretty sure I not only made her day, but the drama of it all is fully circulating among the gossip grapevine as I write. “Hey! Did you here about that crazy American lady my goose almost ate the other day…?”

Of course John thought it was quite funny…He has even come up with a list of stupid jokes to entertain me daily:

What do you call a Ukrainian chicken? Dinner
What do you call two Ukrainian chickens? Lunch and Dinner
What do you call French Cats? Scaredy cats!
What do you call Vietnamese cats and dogs? What cats? What dogs?
What do you call three Ukrainian geese? Guard dogs
What do you call Ukrainian cats? It doesn’t matter. They don’t understand English and won’t come anyway. (Seriously…they just look at you with a confused face and scurry away…LOL)
And John’s favorite: Why did the goose cross the road: For American fast food! See Kym run! See Kym run FAST!

You seriously have to maintain your sense of humor around these parts!

On to other things:

We had dinner with Ludy yesterday afternoon and ended up staying till 8 pm looking at pictures of Yana who was adopted last March. We also shared the pictures on Johns lap top for Ludy and Oleg’s trip to America. Boy, can Ludy cook! We had roasted chicken, (YUM! And from her own back yard) with mashed potatoes, pickles, homemade coleslaw, and some sort of terrific cake which appeared to be chocolate with sugared candies on top. We really had a great time with her and her family.

Today she met us at the school and we were able to use the computer lab’s internet. We were able to catch up on a lot and post my journals to the blog. The computer teacher was having a good time with John’s laptop and was asking a lot of questions. He even assisted John with a new translation software and now we can use it to communicate with the others that have no idea what we are ever saying around here…:)

And in other great news, we have a court date! We have been informed that we will meet with the judge this coming Wednesday October 25th. (Just our luck. Our regional judge is away at some sort of ‘judicial seminar’ and we have had to wait for her to return. I ask you, “What are the odds?” Well. It would appear pretty darn good in our favor. If it can happen, it will happen with us...)

I will leave that Friday as it is the next available flight out of Kiev, and will touch down in Bakersfield at 5:40 pm that same day…I’m sure I packed my ruby slippers somewhere amongst my luggage…For sure I’ll be the American standing at the airport terminal with my eyes closed saying “There’s no place like home! There’s no place like home….”

John will remain here for the mandatory 10 day waiting period and then following that will arrange for Oleg’s passport, visa, physical, etc…He will need to rearrange his and Oleg’s flight also. If all goes well he should be home around November 9th or so. Oleg is very excited to come home!

Oleg got in trouble at school yesterday. Apparently my wonderful son decided to call the teacher a bad name. John and I were on our way up to the computer room when a very miffed teacher with the whole class walked up to us and said ‘BAD BOY!” while pointing at Oleg. Okay, I could see this was not good. Poor Oleg, he looked so embarrassed and mortified…he just walked off. He went to his room and would not come out – even for John. After two hours John finally gave up and came home. Oleg will work through it. He always does. I don’t know what he said to the teacher, or why. But I do know I would not have handled it the way she did. When a fellow peer says to your new mama and papa ‘Oleg Bad Boy!” you are crushed. A lot of this is happening because we are there and he really doesn’t know how to handle it. We will have a talk with him tonight as soon as he is here and find out what this is all about. Actually, we went to see the Director today and he was trying to communicate with us concerning Oleg. While he was speaking with our translator on the phone I smiled and said to John “I think we are having our first school parent-teacher conference” Cool! That must have been a really bad word!” LOL

It is hard for Oleg at school right now. The negative peer pressure is pretty bad when everyone knows you have a family and are leaving soon. The children are not always kind. I have tried to help alleviate this by handing out goodies to children each day. Sometime I do it and sometimes Oleg does. We try to leave no one out. I’m telling ya when I have a box of cookies there are so many hands hovering over the box I can hardly hand them out. But they all smile soooo big and say thank you. The children are addictive. Their smiles are contagious. They are getting use to us now and say hello in both English and Ukrainian.

And our special news: At dinner tonight Oleg said grace for the first time. Each time we eat we ask him if he would like to, but he always says no. Today as we took each others hands he lifted them up and said ‘Papa. I do in Ukraine?” We said okay and he said a nice long prayer. I’m not sure what he said, but God knows… that’s all that counts! Oleg attended church for the first time ever with us during the hosting, and we always said prayers before eating. What a statement that with no religious background he recognizes the importance. Praise God!

Well, another day down, another day closer to the end. Gotta run!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Daily four

Day four - STILL glad I brought my boots!

Day four – it already feels like twenty! As John wrote a friend, we are alive and well in Green Akers Hell. LOL! I hope you can appreciate the humor in that statement…

For those of you close to home, you will get a decent sense of what this area and our apartment are like if I describe it this way: Imagine the old pre-remoldeled green house at YBC combined with our day to day lounging during our outdoor camping trips. EXCEPT, the toilets always smell so bad you would think the sewer is over flowing. (Silly me, there would HAVE TO BE sewer for that to happen:). Well, that about sums it up. Roughing it in ‘so-so’ quarters…not minding the dirt and oldness of everything because it is only for a week and then you pack up and go home to shower off real good and put everything away till next year. Can you imagine my BIG *sighhhhhh* here?

So, already I’m done with all of this waiting and ready to go! The light of all this non-fun way of living is of course being with Oleg. And I make sure each day I remind my self how fortunate I am to be able to say I AM with Oleg and THANK GOD for all he done for us and this little boy we love so much.

Living here, in this town that is really no bigger than a village; it is the only life Oleg knows. Simplicity. School. Playing. End of story. If we didn’t get to spend time with him each day, I would surely go crazy. I seriously crave my house, my family, MY WORK! I would be so at home in front of my computer at work right now! Working with co-workers (I miss my co-workers BIG TIME), dealing with clients. All the normal things to make the day go by faster.

And then there are my boys. I really miss my boys! It is emotionally tough to be a mom sometimes. Especially when you are half way around the world from them. Chris and Bryce are always fine by themselves, being SO grown up and all – Hee Hee Hee (Mom is smiling big time here!), But Aidan...I really miss my little man! I know he is having a good time with Stephanie and the kids though…he is fine…it’s just me that’s a wreck. We called and spoke with him last night and he seems to be happy as a lark. Thanks Steph!

The days have been good with Oleg. We are bonding so well as a family. Each day we go to the store and buy our food for which ever meal we are preparing. Oleg shows us his stomping grounds and with his help (And an electronic translator Marie loaned us) we can get by. We gather in the kitchen and cook as a family. As when he was with us in America, he really likes to help out. He stirs the pot, dry’s the dishes, whatever he can do…and we teach him new card games each day. We are up to UNO now. Saying colors and numbers…and learning more and more English each day.

On that note Oleg’s English has improved dramatically the last few days. It seems the more we talk with him the more he speaks it. It is obvious he was not conversing in English while he is here. It takes a while for what he does know to come back. Today, he starting reading my writing on the computer and he struggled with only a few words. He really is such a smart boy.

We went to school today and met with the lawyer. We had to have Irene speak with him on the phone. She wanted to check on the court date. The lawyer informed us that the head judge was in Kharkiv and would not be available till tomorrow. Irene told us we are probably looking at next Wednesday now. *SIGH* Stuck here another week plus! I am praying now that something gives and they can schedule it sooner. Only time will tell. All we can do is hang out and wait. In the mean time we cherish each new day we have with Oleg.

Another interesting find today was the internet capabilities at the post office. It took a couple of translator assisted phone calls and helpful people, but we finally got there and we were able for the first time in 4 days to hear from family and friends per e-mail. O how I love e-mail! It is like an umbilical cord to home! We answered as many as we could in the time allowed, but I cannot access my blog from there. Something to do with the Javascript etc…So we will go in daily now and check e-mails. (I will continue to journal as I am now until it is possible to post on my blog) Not as nice as having it in our apartment, but hey, it’s something to look forward to each day!

Love and REALLY miss you all!!!!!

Daily three

Day three in Sakhnovschina

It is raining today! Wet and depressing :)

We slept in yesterday, but John was up at 8:30 this morning to walk to get Oleg by 9 a.m. I lounged around reading and enjoying the brief quiet. By the time John and Oleg got here I was read for the day.

We started by having breakfast. John and Oleg stopped by the market for fresh brown eggs. Somehow John figured out a way to use the microwave oven here and made an omelet style pie with eggs, potato, ham, and cheese. Paired with juice it was soooooo yummy!

After breakfast we walked into town looking for some of the items we needed for the apartment. First at foremost we needed a hot plate so we could boil water, fry and cook meals. Except for this mornings adventure we had been living on salami, cheese, bread, and fruit.

We hit the jackpot somewhere about 2 miles away at a little store that reminded me of a True Hardware. We bought a hotplate and pot. At another store we found dish towels, knives, salt and pepper, and microwavable dishes. We are now set.

Armed with the necessary tools to cook a fine feast, Oleg and I went to the grocery store for some raviolis. Well, my little man likes the idea of dinner at home. By the time I was done, I was walking home with a cake, bottle of Coke (Oleg loves Coke) three Snicker bars, some sort of yummy Ukrainian Chocolate covered candy, and he raviolis.

AS I type Oleg and John are in the kitchen cooking their new concoction. It smells awesome….

The day has been filled with playing cards and reading. Oleg struggles with speaking English, but reads it VERY well.

Daily two

Day two in sakhnovschina

We walked to the school with a bag of candy in hand to meet up with Oleg. He was showing his dog ‘John’ to the other children and both the girls and boys were pretty interested in it. (Quite a novelty as they have no ‘Build A Bear’ anywhere there!) Oleg handed ‘John’ to his teacher and started to give away the candy and the children loved it. At present we have only met one of Oleg’s caregivers and she seems very nice. She always has a big smile for us when we meet.

We decided to have Oleg show us where Ludy lived so we could take her our gift. I bought her a super soft robe in Kharkiv and wanted to give it to her.
We had seen her the first day we arrived at the orphanage, but only had time for a quick hug before we were whisked off to meet with the lawyer. I really wanted to visit with her an as this was Saturday we though it would be a good time.

So, Oleg walked us down a short distance from the orphanage to where Ludy lives and Ludy answered her gate. She was not expecting us but fed us a wonderful lunch. We had borsch, (out of this world delicious!) homemade bread, cheeses, salami, honey from her bees (WOW!) some coffee, tea, and cake. We had a wonderful visit with her. She showed us her family picture albums and the photos of her trip to the USA when Oleg visited. She laughed as she pointed to the one of her on the horses at our house.

Her husband was receiving a load of bricks so John and Oleg went out to help them unload. Oleg took me by the hand and led me to the living room and told me to stay there. Obviously this was ‘Mans work’. LOL! I got up a little later and took a picture. They are in the process of building a new brick fence and it looks so nice. Ludy’s yard is full of grapes, fruit trees, bees, and other food plants. She grows most of her items for their family to eat. Too soon we said good bye, but we will meet up with her again soon.

We left with Oleg to go to the store and get a few items, still in search of a hot plate to cook on. No luck. We decided to return to the apartment and teach Oleg a few card games. What a great decision! We taught him ‘Fish’ and he was a fast learner. By the time he was done he was beating John and I hands down. After a little game time we walked him back to the orphanage and said goodnight.
While walking Oleg to the front of the orphanage I am always watching the children at the orphanage. Although we are still a novelty around here, they are finally warming up a tad. When I tried to take a picture of them, they scattered. BUT, when I showed them the picture off the digital camera they all came to me smiling for a chance to see themselves.

The older girls are very sweet and motherly towards Oleg. They seem very interested in John and myself and will remind him to hug us good bye in the evening. (Not that he doesn’t want to. He just gets embarrassed while in front of his friends. He is a 12 year old boy after all). The smaller boys will come up to us and talk, especially when we have candy, but the older ones stay away. A lot of them like to show off in front of John. They will speak to him in English as if to say “look at me!” We remember daily that all these children want is a home of their own – so performances are frequent. Some of the older boys have greeted us kindly as we walk through the halls, but unfortunately they also like to holler out swear words hoping to get some negative attention. (Just a few, not all. We just ignore them and walk on. Irene says a lot of times they watch movies and all they hear are those words over and over again, so they blurt them out to see what type of reaction they will get. My thought is “Typical boys!)

We also saw Bogdon today. (He has been hosted twice by the Clobes’s at home) We were leaving Oleg’s room and he rounded the corner at the same time we did. He was shocked when John called his name and shook his hand. He wasn’t expecting to see us there! We didn’t detain him as he seemed at a loss for any communication what so ever. We also have seen Jenna a few times, but as like he was in the USA, he turns his head and says nothing to us. He is still very shy.

All in all it was a very good day with our son J

Daily one

Day one: Life in Sakhnovschina

We left Kharkiv at 6 am. And arrived in Sakhnovschina around 9 am. (The guys HAD to go to McDonalds WHERE by the way they DO NOT serve breakfast. Only Big Macs, French fries, soda and coffee. Can you say YUCK? John and our driver Andrew we happy!)

After arrival our first order of business was for us to see Oleg. We were gone one more day than we told him we would be and I was worried about what he was thinking. The school informed us that Oleg was at the Doctors getting his physical that is necessary per the region for the court to finish his documents. We waited in the office – boring! Where was my son? After a while Oleg finally came racing through the door ecstatic that we were back. A couple of hugs and a few quick kisses and he was off again for breakfast and class.

So, now that this issue was settled it was time to move on with the apartment. Looking at the homes and apartments around this small village - located out in the middle of nowhere - I was not thinking this was gonna be a good experience. So we waited for the teacher who had the apartment to finish school and she walked us to the apartment. It is basically straight down the road from the school. About a 15 minute walk. (There goes more of my butt again! Hooray! I have walked anywhere from 4 to 20 miles per day, I swear!)

As we follow this woman who speaks no English we see houses falling apart. Apartments that look like they should be knocked down. A children’s play area that would be condemned in the USA. A few stores (Referred to here as grocery) etc. We walk and walk and walk…all the while I’m thinking “how far is this anyhow?”

Finally, we reach and area where we cut across a yard full of chickens, geese and other deplorable items not worth mentioning. Now I’m thinking “Do I REALLY want to be this close to Oleg after all?” Of course my mind says “yes” and we continue following her. We reach our destination and climb up the stairs to the second floor. (Marie says this is the kind of building that “looks like an outline of a dead body should be seen) The door is white and new. Okay, I think, so that is a good sign? We enter the apartment and the first thing I see is a 1960’s flash back of my Grandmothers apartment in Long Beach. OLD brick buildings with walls covered in wallpaper and paint so think and shiny you wonder how long it has actually been there. There are new carpets scattered on the floors and it has homey touches here and there. The bathroom has a door but a big hole cut out of it. The kitchen is small and quaint but there is only a microwave – no oven or cook top. The bedroom is two beds shoved together with a really nice cotton quilt on top. BIG European down pillows cover the bed and that was unexpected. All in all it was nice considering what the others in town were living in. We could tell they were giving us the best they had and I tried very hard to show my appreciation for their kindness. And she was only charging us $25 per night! If we had stayed in Kharkiv it would have been $50 to $90 per night and $100 per trip for a driver. Not to mention the 2.5 hour drive we would have had to endure. At that savings and being so close to Oleg I think I can make this work!

Okay, so this is much better than we would have ever expected. The heat for the village was just turned on (Don’t know how I would have made it through that issue as it is barely 60 degrees outside during the day) and there is suppose to be hot water. The teacher tried to demonstrate this for us but low and behold, there was no water! Later, Irene came in and said the whole village was out, so we believed it was only a matter of time before they got that fixed. The biggest issue at this time is there is no refrigerator and we had bought all this food for the stay. The teacher found us one and brought it at 5 pm. The only thing we needed now was a stove or hot plate.

We went to the school at 2 pm and took Oleg for a walk into village. We bought bread and ice cream bars, (Oleg liked that part…we are gonna keep it a daily tradition) and some Coke. We didn’t find a hot plate though.

Oleg went home with us to play a game on the computer with John. Before we knew it 6:30 pm. was here and we had to walk him back to the orphanage. We gave him goodbye kisses and said “Hi!” to all the children standing around and went home. Flashlights are very necessary here as we could not see to walk across the yard or walk up our stairwell.

We reveled in the knowledge that we could sleep as late as we wanted and after a quick bath (another adventure!) we were in bed for the night. What a day!

Dear friends and family...

We got a call from a dear friend who in the past also adopted from Olegs orpahange. There are some upset people higher up that are trying to eliminate the hosting program. Rumors are flying, but the latest was that they read something they did not like on the internet. Although we know of nothing that is negative on my blog, we decided to pursue making it private instead.

Things are different here, and we do not with to risk any future hosting programs so that is why it is not private. We know we have done nothing wrong, ie: Preselection, etc...but it could be viewed as such by others if they choose too. Sorry for the inconvience...we love and miss you all!

Following will be my daily journal. Now that we have found internet at both the post office and school, we will try our best tp update as often as we can. It is difficult at the school because we do not wish to inconvienance them. K~

Thursday, October 12, 2006

We met Oleg!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Words will do no justice as to how wonderful it felt to hold Oleg in my arms again!

So much to share…I will start at the beginning:

First, the train ride was an adventure – enough said. Bed cooties are not my favorite subject. We arrived at 6 a.m and off we went towards Oleg's orphanage.

Second, we had to drive 2.5 hours in a winding and bumpy road to get to Oleg’s orphanage located outside of Kharkiv. I thought I would throw up with all the tension of getting there. My butterflies WERE not listening to my head! The van smelled like gas fumes and there are any shocks that were left were gone by the end of the trip there. The land is very pretty and looks a lot like Arkansas.

Irene had called a few days ahead to make sure they knew we were coming. We asked them not to tell Oleg.

The director was suppose to be out as he was on vacation. But when we arrived we found out he had come in for us and another family that was there. (Incidentally, that man with that friendly family shook my hand and said “I like your Blog”. I had never seen this person before in my life! He had a heavy accent, I’m not sure where he was from. But WOW! Someone else adopting who had read my blog! It is my understanding that they were there about permission on the sibling of another child they were adopting. At least that’s what I think Irene said.)

We stepped foot on the orphanage yard and the children flocked towards us. As we walked up the ramp one child asked Irene in Ukrainian “Are you here to see Oleg?” So, they knew we were coming *smile*…

They all seemed genuinely glad that we were there. We went to see the school lawyer first. He was located in a corner office upstairs no bigger than a bathroom. He was very nice. He verified all of Oleg’s documents and then he took us down stairs to the principles office. We waited for the other family to finish and then we went inside. He spoke with the lawyer and told him we could see Oleg that day. Yeah! They sent someone to go get him, but I have a feeling news traveled fast and he knew we were there. (The rules say we have to wait). So, as we were sitting there he asked questions like “You met Oleg while hosting?” Yes. “Do you want to adopt Oleg” Duh?! Yes…” You have other children at home” Yes. “Where do you live?” California…I tried to pay attention but each time the door opened I turned my head…

Then, finally, the door opened and Olegs head popped in. His eyes were as big a saucers don’t know who ran to who faster…me or him. I said "Oh!" and popped out of my chair fast a lightning! He hugged me as tight as could be and said “Mama, I luvs you! (Ukrainian accent again!) I cried and cried. I happen to glance over Oleg sholder at the lawyer and he was grinning from ear to ear and looked a little misty eyed. John was next. Oleg jumped in his arms. “I luv you papa!” He then asked ”Where are Chris, Bryce, and Aidan?” Sweet boy! That’s the same question he asked at the airport the first night we picked him up. We told him they were at home. John said to him “See, I told you we would come get you!) He shook his head yes and kissed us both on the cheeks. I was in heaven! We had other matters to discuss, and paper work to be filled out and filed. So, as much as I hated to we gave Oleg a hug and kiss good bye as it was time for his lunch and a shower.

We walked to the courthouse (not much of a town I tell ya!) and did some stuff. Then walked to the private notary and did some more stuff with signatures. Check, check! We then moved on the harder things on our schedule…

It had already been established that Oleg has an older brother. We needed to go to the boarding school where he resides and get his permission to adopt Oleg. Uh Oh!…a snag!
So, we loaded in the fumey car and told Oleg we had to get some paper work signed and would be back soon. Typical boy! His friends all came in with him to the office and Oleg was now all ‘Big Boy”. One small hug…he was with his friends now…had to look cool. No problem *grin* He walked down the hall in front of us and his cronies followed behind. *sigh*, they grow up soooo fast *smile*

So, off went to some town I can’t even pronounce looking for Oleg’s brother. We had to stay the night in Kharkiv by the time we arrived. The next morning we were on our way again. We stopped at a big store called the Metro. It was a lot like Sams Club. I was so totally at home! We shopped for food while at Oleg’s orphanage ‘cause let me tell ya, there wasn’t much there to get. We also got candy and cookies for the kids. LOTS! It’s like playing Santa.

(We have an apartment lined up through the school, but we haven’t seen it yet. More news to come on that issue. )

We arrived and met with the principle of the school and discussed the situation. Olegs brother Alex asked if he could see Oleg before we left the Ukraine, and we told him yes. He asked if he could visit in America and we said yes. He looked at me and asked if we had a picture of Oleg. John jumped up and went to the car to get it. He looked at the pictures and read the letter form Oleg. Soon after he said he "had no problem with it".

They put a paper in front of him and he wrote it out. Then he cried. Bless his heart. Three people asked him if he was okay with it, and he said yes, but he still cried. I know in my heart he was thinking: “I don't have a family like this”. We will not forget this young man and will foster good communication between him and Oleg. At 16 he will soon be moving on into his own adult life. He has done a selfless thing today. We willnot forget it.

Here’s something funny. Near the beginning of all this Alex asked John if he had American money. Hmmmmm. Okay. John said “sure” and handed him a $20 bill. He thought it was funny looking and commented that it was much longer than Ukrainian money. He and John laughed and talked a bit then he said "Can I keep it?". John said yes (glad it wasn't a hundred!)
The principle said he had never seen American money, and she knows that as soon as he figures out he has 100 Grevnas (Ukrainian Dollars) He will be shocked.

So we are now back in Kharkiv and what would appear to be the hardest part of our journey is now completed. It will take up to 5 days to get the court hearing and then we wait for court. John and I leave at 6 am tomorrow for another 2.5 hour drive to Sahnovshchina to meet with Oleg again and wait out the second part of the journey. Irene will settle us in and then she is off to Kiev to submit the paper so for court. John and I will be waiting for the ping pong table to come and help get it set up. Then there are some projects we would like to start working on for the school.

Thank you all for your prayers, comments and e-mails. John and I look forward to them each day. I cannot figure out how to reply to Blog comments, but be assured they are appreciated very much!

Till the next time I have internet!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Oleg's first mug shot :)

Look at our little man! I told John he's got that David Cassidy thing going on :) Taken at age five when he was first out in the babys orphanage.

We have our referral!

Beware, this one is long….:)

The day started out gloomy with rain. There went my hair! LOL!

Irene met us at the apartment and we made the 10 minute walk to the new SDA. It is that close to our apartment. What a beautiful building! Above is a picture of John and I standing outside the doors waiting for our appointment.

We met our facilitator outside and after a cup of hot cocoa for me and coffee for John and Irene we went inside of a church next store to kill time. WOW! The Greek Orthodox Church is gorgeous. There is not a bare wall anywhere. We took video of the service – it was very interesting.

Finally it was it was time to move inside. The floor is all granite tiles and the walls are made of marble. We patiently waited until at exactly 11:30 this REALLY pretty young woman with a waste about as big as my right thigh (I told ya Ukrainian/Russian women are so pretty here!) came out and introduced herself as our translator. We shook hands and went through the doors and down a long hallway. Last door on the left, made a turn past a desk or two, then right into a small office with a nice corner bench. They asked us to be seated and the interpreter introduced us to the psychologist. Her name was Valencia (pronounced with a strong Ukrainian accent it sounded more like Valenzuela) She had one document in a page protector with a picture of Oleg at 5 yrs old. My baby boy’s first mug shot :) She later asked if we would like to take a picture of it) So here’s how our conversation went per the interpreter:

“Hello. We are happy to meet you! We have received your petition to adopt Oleg and we would like to take this time to get to know you a little better.”
“How are you today?”
“How do you like our city? Have you seen much of Kiev? Where did you go?”
“How did you meet Oleg?”
“You have other children at home? Tell me a little about them.”
“Do you want us to tell you more about Oleg?” We replied yes and she then proceeded to tell us most of what we already knew from Lyudmila. His mothers rights were terminated at age 5…Oleg has been in an orphanage till 8 year of age then moved to where he is now now. He has a 16 yr old brother who does not stay at his school and does not like to learn. He runs away all the time. We got the impression he ran away and is not there anymore. She went on to tell us a few other things about Oleg’s health etc…For all intent and purposes he is a healthy and happy little boy, and was described as such by the Director and his care giver.

Okay at this point all I am hearing is 16 yr old brother and I’m replaying every thing I have heard on forced sibling adoptions. I know they do not like to split up the siblings, etc…But as I continued to listen to the translator Valencia never even implied that we would need to do that. As she continued to talk I started to relax, but am still holding my breath. It would appear they were not going to suggest adopting the brother also. I don’t think he can be found.

She never asked us about our home, salaries or finances.

She asked to see the picture book she had ‘heard so much about’. Apparently she found out somewhere that we had assembled one for I am not sure if it came form Lyudmila’s statement, the Director or our Facilitator; but she knew about it. Darn! Missed that one! John left it at the hotel room. She said “That okay” So; we showed her the picture of Oleg on John’s binder and additional one inside.

Then she said the magic words that I was holding my breath for: “I have read your Dossier and see no reason why you would not be a good home for Oleg” DID YOU JUSTHEAR ME EXHALE?!!!! “We will draw up his referral for you and they can be picked up by either you or your representative tomorrow. HOORAAAAAAAY! We are approved!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We can go see Oleg and get a court date!

I then smiled and of course started to cry. I tried to be reserved and indifferent like I was advised to do…I really did! BUT, I just couldn’t help it! I was so relieved and happy.

Valencia just smiled warmly and said “We can see Oleg has a very good family. We are happy to see him go with you” And the she wiped a tear from her own eye. It was so touching!

We then proceeded to tell her that we would love to bring the book by tomorrow for her to look at and she got up and looked at her calendar. She wrote something down and the translator said “She will be here between 5 and 6 pm to see your book. She is very happy to see your book” (EXACT words!)

We said “Thank you”, shook hands and walked back down the hallway to the lobby.

They are all very nice there at the SDA. It was a pleasant experience. We passed the old NAC on the bus after getting train tickets and I have to say the new one is far more professional and in a much nicer area. The SDA is located near other beautiful governmental buildings in a well cared for area.

Speaking of train tickets…another Ukrainian experience! We went with Irene to get our over night train tickets and boy was I surprised. The building was beautiful and we took picture of the inside. It is very elaborate with art work on the ceilings and columns of granite and marble. O ya! And here’s my gross news: (Those with queasy stomachs just skip ahead) I had to use the restroom…and of course I finally found the ‘famous hole in the floor’ toilets. Out came the puffs in my pocket and hand sanitizer. It was like camping…just squat and go…Yuck! I only used it ‘cause I REALLY had to go, and if I don’t see another one of those in a million years it will be too soon…I have a feeling however that I will *sigh* the Princess WAS NOT happy! And, I had to PAY to use the thing! As I said earlier Commerce is alive and well in the Ukraine. Charging people to pee…it always happens and it is a guaranteed money maker! LOL

So, we leave on an overnight train to Kharkiv tomorrow at 10:30 p.m. One day closer to seeing Oleg! Not sure when we will make it the rest of the way to the orphanage, so I will have to update that agenda as we go.

Oh, and to top it all off we finally got to meet up with the Steinberg’s from the FRUA board! They called us and we met with them for drinks at O’Brien’s. What a super nice couple! They are adopting a child name Andre. We will be traveling to Kharkiv on the same train…It was so nice to sit and compare notes with a fellow Americans! I know there was another American family at the SDA today, but we did not meet them. The Steinberg’s did though.

Our Cultural meal for the day was at a ‘meat house.’ We had fresh meat that was cooked like Mongolian BBQ. (No Marie, I didn’t see it come out of the truck of a car –YET) Mmmmmm! Delicious! I am eating varied breads here and guess what? No headaches! Not a migraine in sight! And I am losing weight rapidly…These hills and all this walking is so good for me! I like this ‘Ukrainian adoption diet!’ It really works for me!

To our friends and family back home, we miss you all!

Gotta run…I know this journal was long but there was soooo much to say!


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Our apartment...

This is the outside of our apartment. Doesn't it look like a scene out of a James Bond movie? I keep waiting for a black Mercedes to come wizzing up and start shooting! LOL...The immediate building on the right is ours along with the second balcony on the top.

Day two....Boy! Do my feet hurt!

What a day! I have walked so much that I swear if I keep this up I will HAVE NO BUTT left at the end of this adventure. Not such a bad trade off I think…

Our new translator Irene met us at McDonalds in Independence Square and we went to lunch at Bellies (not Jellies as I had thought). MMMMM! It was great! I had some sort of borsch with smoked meat, pickles, lemon, and veggies. It tasted like tortilla soup without the tortillas. Also, a ravioli type of item with potatoes inside it, kinda like a gnonaci, and a pastry cake that tasted like a champagne cake. It was great. John had borsch and sausage and a lot of other stuff I can’t remember. We were stuffed all for the tune of $8 including what Irene ate.

We then took off up a hill (somehow I feel like every street we took was ‘up') and saw the governmental buildings, churches, the apartment where the Queen of the Netherlands stays, lots more churches, and the place where the Ukrainian president works (kind of like the Whitehouse) and this really neat building with animals all over it.

One of the hills we walked up had a beautiful park where two separate weddings had just taken place. The brides were beautiful and we watched as their pictures were being taken. Farther down there were children playing everywhere. There was a pony, big wheel car, train, and bounce houses for the kids to play on/in. All for a fee of course…commerce is alive and well in the Ukraine :) It made me miss Aidan big time. He would have loved it!

We also took the Metro. O Lord! What an experience! Everyone has to do that at least one time in their lives. Because we are on the right bank of the river, it is really far under ground. When I say far, I mean REALLY far – about 200 feet worth. We road down two long escaladers and then finally took the train to our stop, got off, caught a bus, and walked the rest of the way – thank goodness - DOWN HILL. All for 60 cents each.

We went to the market again. Like before everything is fine till we open out mouths. People actually turn their heads and look at us when we speak. Talk about feeling out of place! Anyway, we spent $4 on a really big round loaf of bread, 1 lb of salami (John loves that stuff) ¼ lb or so of some sort of cheese, 6 eggs, 3 big bottles of water, and grapes. Cheap!

For dinner we went to O’Brien’s. They have these really great potato wedges with Creole spices on them. Also, the fish ‘n chips are out of the world. They are breaded with real beer batter and it was more than John and I could eat. We then walked up the road from our apartment and saw more beautiful buildings. No one is afraid to be out after dark here. Irene said they will walk at 3 am and feel safe. Try that at home :) So, as before everyone was out and walking. People here love to be outdoors. At any given time you will see them sitting at a café, or just reading a book under a tree. Irene says they are so cooped up in winter indoors that they send as much time as possible outside before winter hits. Incidentally, Irene HATES winter. I can’t say that I blame her.

We spoke with Mike tonight via the internet. SO GREAT to see a familiar face. Thanks Mike, we loved it! I was emailig Marie when the PC phone rang...You've got mail! And its REAL! Hee hee hee...Hopefully we will be able to talk to Aidan and Bryce real soon. If you adopters out there don’t have a computer video phone, I sure suggest it. Best invention ever. It was like sitting right in front of our friend. So great if you have children left at home.

While we were walking I asked Irene a lot of questions concerning the people of the Ukraine. I was surprised at some of her answers. Irene says she liked the country better when it was under Soviet rule because there was more to do as a child. Camps, competitions, summer time fun, etc…School was very important at that time. ‘Before Independence’ she calls it. They had more money then, but less food and clothing. Now, she says, they have more available goods, but less money. And education is not considered important now. There is nothing for most children to do daily and they spendd their time on video games and watching TV. They are not encouraged to do well in school, or to even attend for that matter. Not too much different than the opinions of some in the USA.

Coming from America it is hard for me to imagine living in a place like this voluntarily. I appreciate my freedom AND the right to earn a living doing what I want, in addition to being as prosperous and successful as I can be. It makes me count your blessing to have what I do (including but not limited to: Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart, and a supermarket) I am already sooooo home sick for my Albertsons :)….

I am so excited for tomorrow to get here! Tomorrow is our appointment with the SDA. By the time you are off work you should all know how it went. Things are different here than with the NCA. There is still uncharted territory and our facilitator says tomorrow our adventure really begins. A lot of our stuff was never transferred and our facilitator had to really work to get it all together and make this appointment happen. Fellow adopters – check on your paper work weekly! Things do come up missing. Know where it is and who is handling it! I can explain more off line if you have any questions…just make sure I have your email address.

Please continue to pray for us and know that you all are in ours…