Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday, June 30

I am feeling much better thank you. I ate some Activa yogurt in hopes that it would help and when all of you commented about it, I went out and got some more. I am definitely doing much better than yesterday's post.

We got to Dennis' orphanage at 9 am sharp and we only had to wait 10 minutes for them to get him ready.

Everyday he is becoming more and more curious. It is wonderful to see that the same things do not continually entertain him--- that he is interested in exploring his surroundings. Today Dennis showed us how strong he was by tossing around this full water bottle.

He wanted to play with this swing, but not for very long. During the morning visit, we took him
outside for a longer period of time. Dennis loves to watch the other kids play. Good thing because this afternoon, Kramatorsk got some rain.

Here is a picture of a woman doing laundry at the orphanage. With around 120 kids you would think that they would be doing laundry everyday, but they don't. It also appears that they only diaper the children that are being adopted because they ask the parents to buy diapers. In Dennis' room is a little girl probably not older than 3 months and everytime we come to get Dennis, I peak through the window to get a glimspe of her and she is lying in her crib naked from the waste down. It is pretty warm in the orphanage so don't worry about whether or not she is cold, but her tiny little cry is enough to make your heart ache. A couple of times that I have peaked in on her she was rooting because her arm had gotten free from her swaddle and it kept hitting her mouth. So cute, but oh so sad. But, I can blog about that on another day.

Here is the trash truck that I was telling you about. A man dressed way too nice for his job manuevers the levers to lift the trash can while a woman comes behind him and sweeps up all of the trash that is left behind. I hope that sometimes they take turns doing each others job.

This is a porch leading up to the inside of an apartment building that is under construction. I bet it will be this way for weeks if not months. This was how many of the bridges that we needed to cross to get to Kramatorsk from Kyiv looked. No detour, no notice, just drive until you realize that you are about to enter dangerous territory.

Today we went looking for shoes for Dennis at the big bazaar. Couldn't find any. :( I may just have to stuff the shoes I brought for him.

Lots of vendors were selling beautiful flowers. It smelled so good walking through this aisle.
One vendor was selling these paintings. I love the third one with all the bears playing.

On the way back to our apartment, I took some pictures. I don't know how these shops stay open. It is not like they were hustling with customers...... and today is a holiday.

Mannequins in Ukraine? No way! Hey doesn't that one on the left look a lot like my husband?

Trying to stay upbeat here......... got some disappointing news. The judge called our facilitator and told us that because he has so many criminal cases tomorrow he has moved our courtdate to Thursday. We just have to trust that God has a plan. Now if only those plans include getting our 10 days waived.

Hot Dog Blinni

We've all heard of the Swedish-pankcake-like Russian staple, the blinni, right? Sometimes eaten just plain, or with sugar, or sugar and mayonnaise, or fruit--in fact, the apple Blinni that Christine had in Kiev was her favorite meal so far. Well today, the couple in line in front of us ordered a Hot Dog Blinni so we felt, "When in Rome..." and got one too. Here is it's picture and the video of Christine eating it...

All for now...I got to wake her up and we get to go see Dennis again...

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday in Kramatorsk

Another day with Dennis. Each day he is more and more happy to see us. His poor eye was quite crusty and we know he cries when he has it cleaned out. I was not brave enough to be the one to do it. I better toughen up soon. Somehow I think that having warm water poured over his head in a nice bath will naturally clean out his eye. I have the feeling that they rarely bathe the kids here.

This is a close up of the art on the walls of the orphanage. Yes, it is on styrofoam backing.

Here is a beautiful wood carving of a mother and child.

On the walk home we passed this building.

Here is a close up of the first floor apartment.

This would be my mom's house if she lived in Ukraine. She loves plants and flowers.

Here is some cute sidewalk art drawn with chalk. I bet you didn't think they did that in Ukraine, did you?

And here is some not so nice graffiti art. Funny how it is all in English.

We had leftover chicken that we were getting rid of so we thought the cats might like it.

We were right.

On one of our walks today we passed an old man sifting through trash for recyclables. We will definitely be saving our bottles until the next time we see him.

Yesterday, Christine caught me with the camera and I spontaneously started saying Hi and things to my kids. So from Sony mini DVD to compressed MPEG and from YouKraine to UTube, this blog is for them from Daddy.

The other 10%

Probably up until now you have gotten the picture in your mind that our adoption journey and Ukraine has been nothing but glorious and wonderful. Hey, honestly 90% of this journey has been, but to leave you with the impression that our our trip, my feelings about Ukraine, and my feelings for my son have been a fairy tale would not be fair. As with everything I have had a few up and down moments.

First off, I think I am sick. Not sure if it is a stomach bug or an actual parasite, but something is upsetting my stomach with continual diarrhea. This is more information than you want to hear, I'm sure, but I think it is important to accept the possibility of this happening to you if you travel to another country. While my tummy doesn't feel very good, I guess there is always an upside. Who knows, at this rate, I may be 10 or 15 pounds lighter when I get home.

Ukraine is really a wonderful country........ I feel more at home here than I did when I was in Russia a couple of years back. This may be because I have done this once before, or maybe because I am able to keep in touch with friends and family through email and this blog. It may also be that this part of Ukraine is less intimidating (Moscow was huge) yet more technologically advanced. Is this possible? We have visited stores that resemble Wal-Marts, have seen more handicap/stroller accessible ramps around here, and have seen evidence that some sort of trash system is in place here. In Russia, they simply burned their trash.

However, there are things about Ukraine that make me feel a little bit uncomfortable like the foul smelling stairwells that lead up to our apartment. While the apartment itself is very nice, as soon as you walk out the door into the common stairwell you might as well be in a bad part of town. It has flies, trash, and graffiti, and smells of urine with occasional spots on the ground indicating that some drunkard had peed in the corner. Not very pleasant.

The mentality of people in this country never cease to amaze me. In this country you can call your own ambulance and request your own concoction of pain-killing sedatives and antibiotics without a doctor, yet you can't sit on a wall because it will cause sickness in your bones. You better believe that I have gotten some rude glares because I have taken a load off my feet and sat down on a wall.

When ordering at a restaurant it would be best if you could bring your own condiments like butter, ketchup, etc. because these things will not be offered to you and for sure they will not be free. Everything is a la carte and many times the price that is printed on the menu is per kilogram, not for the whole item on the menu. We learned this one afternoon when we took our facilitator and driver out for lunch. We thought our bill would be around 150 grivna and it ended up being 231 grivna. Also, water is not free---- ever! But at least you don't have to pay to use the restroom.

There is a unique smell to Ukraine, that you eventually get used to, but if you have a sensitive nose, you best breathe through your mouth. Don't worry, it grows on you.

The smell in the orphanage however is hard to get used too. I love it when the smell of food is in the air to mask the true-lying smell of it...... that is soaked into Dennis' clothes and hair. While he has a sweet baby smell about him, that I admit is probably more of a figment of my imagination, I long for the day that I can take him out of here and give him a bath and put him in the clothes that we brought for him.

Everything about Dennis is perfect, at least in our eyes, but we are allowed to do only so much with him. Like I mentioned earlier, there are so many senseless rules here that John and I feel unable to parent Dennis in the way that we want. They don't want his shoes and socks off, we can't feed him hardly anything, we can never be too careful with how we hold him (as if we are going to drop him), we can't take him to certain places of the orphanage for fear of germs, we have to feed him a certain way, and we are not allowed to tuck him back into his crib after visits. It makes no sense to us........but because this is their country and they supposedly know him best, then we will follow their rules until he is officially ours! Maybe longer if they don't waive the 10 days.

This orphanage appears to have both healthy and special needs children. Like our initial visit with Anna and Sveta at the orphanage we were not sat down and given the details of Dennis' medical until we asked. To us, it doesn't matter what they tell us because we still want our son no matter what they say, but admittedly I am curious to see what they have to say. I guess we'll know everything they want us to know once we have the translated court documents.

I hope none of this has discouraged anyone thinking of adopting from Ukraine from doing so, nor did I intend to offend anyone who has been to Ukraine and has a diferent view. I just wanted to share my perspective on things as honestly as I possibly could.

Did I mention that one time I opened the door of a gas station bathroom and it was full of flying moths that swarmed around me while I did my business? Not three or four mind you......closer to three or four hundred all attracted to the light. I felt like I was in the scene of a horror movie.

Sorry to seem like such high maintenence. Spoiled by America.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Saturday, June 28 in Kramatorsk

Today is the first day that we are on our own. Nothing to do except visit Dennis. How nice. After some coffee and cereal we headed for the orphanage, but decided to take a different way and explore a bit.

Here are the beautiful wild flowers I was telling you about. I don't think anyone out here owns a lawn mower, but there are wild floweres and planted flowers everywhere.

I think this is part of a school track and field playground.

Someone asked me if there were women joggers in Ukraine. Yes, there are and here is one to prove it!

This has got to be a school. We couldn't think what else it could be. Funny how the fence has a 1 1/2 foot gap at the bottom---- looks like kids could sneak out easily.

I took this picture because I thought it was good to see a man helping out around the house. Here he is beating out a big red rug.

On the way to Dennis' room, I got a sneak peak of what appears to be the orphanage kitchen. Wonderful smells of eggs and compote filled the air.

The nurses gave us a banana to feed Dennis for the third time in a row. Pour guy probably eats nothing but bananas here in the orphanage. We bought him Mango puree, Strawberry puree, rice cereal, and yogurt. They wouldn't let us feed him anything except for the food in the baby jar. They said he can't have it ------ yet the baby food had yogurt in it. Go figure. Having been through this with Anna and Sveta we thought to ourselves, "That's what you think. When he is out of here we are going to give it all to him!"

We decided to explore the orphanage and found this cool room with a big bird cage. Dennis couldn't take his eyes off of the colorful, singing birds.

Dennis is trusting us more and more each day and enjoys going on walks with us. In the beginning he was a little hesitant to go with us but he now knows that we are not strangers. We are his Mamotchka and Papithcka!

John sure knows how to tire out Dennis. Here they are taking a break.

We broke one of the biggest no-no's here at the orphanage by taking off his socks. Shhhh- don't tell nobody. Would they have preferred that we keep his socks on and let him slip and fall as he was holding on to things and walking around? Socks are slippery on wood floors. Plus, I wanted another chance to look at his cute little feet.

Towards the end of both visits, we took Dennis outside for a walk. He is very sensitive to the light and appreciated the hat that we brought for him. After a while, he fell asleep in our arms. To us, it is a sign of trust. I wouldn't want to fall asleep in the arms of someone who I didn't trust. Would you? Also, two days ago, I don't think he would have.

Today we washed a small load of clothes.

Ladies, this is the size of washing machines in Ukraine. And there are no dryers, even in more lavish apartments which ours is considered to be.

And last but not least, here I am hanging out our clothes to dry.

As I close, I wanted to share that I decided to try kefir. I mixed it with the cherry compote and it was very yummy, kind of like a yogurt drink. Thanks for the suggestion.

Again, I am so blessed by all of your comments. At the end of the day, I come over to the computer to read them and suddenly feel as if I am not so far from America. Thank you. We miss you kids and hope you are being good! Oh and Anna, it is not nice to say be quiet to an adult. I hope you told your sister that.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Our third day in Kramatorsk

Good evening from Kramatorsk, Donetsk! We have water..... and it looks as if it is not temporary....... at least until the next pipe breaks. Our facilitator has been working very hard getting documents notarized, submitted, sent off on the train back to Kiev, etc. etc. where she is headed back to do a couple more things necessary for the adoption process. Again, we couldn't be happier with how wonderful she is.

Come time to visit Dennis, we decided to walk since it is only around 15 minutes away by foot.

Come join us.......... this is main drag we walk down. Wild flowers or pretty weeds, which ever you want to call them, scatter the empty field on either side of us.

The castle like building and wall behind the recycle bins are the orphanage walls. It is neat to see that Ukraine is attempting to recycle. Too bad we haven't seen too many people doing it.

I had the privelege of being shown around the orphanage. Going up the stairs and down the halls had all of these wonderful pieces of art with styrofoam backing.

Here is the one of the nurse's rooms. We have to go through that door every morning to sign in.

And here is the star of this blog-------Dennis!

Once again he was bright eyed and bushy tailed when we came in to get him. Because the nurses didn't have him quite ready for us to take him, I had the privelege of checking in on him through his bedroom window. Instantly he spotted me and we locked eyes. It was a good feeling.

Dennis continues to amaze us-------- it is like he has been introduced to a whole new world. He wants to explore everything and has come to adore his Daddy already!

I love this picture of Dennis on Daddy's shoulders!

At first, he wasn't too sure about these balls. But Daddy made them fun.

Dennis enjoyed this swing very much. Not so much the swinging part, but he really liked playing with the little balls that slid up the rope. We could only push him ever softly because his balance is not too good yet. Though I don't have pictures, we got to feed Dennis mashed banana and later, baby food that we brought. After hearing how the caretakers feed Dennis, we had no trouble feeding him the pureed food. I am glad to see that he enjoys eating with little trouble afterall, just as long as it is pureed.

In between visits with Dennis, we went to the notary, post office, and courthouse. It was a very busy day but we also managed to stop for coffee and ice-cream and enjoy a little bit of down time.

By one of the post offices was this children's play area. They have them all over Ukraine. It is really a wonderful thing------ wish we had them back home. I would say our swingsets in our backyards are equivalent to them.

Next to the courthouse they had this mini bazaar--- like a farmer's market. We walked up and down the rows and got to see all of the different things they had for sale.

Since the shoes we brought are way too big for Dennis, we looked for new ones but didn't find any. :(

John is standing in front of what we know as Home Depot back home.

There was lots of fresh produce for sale. We bought fingerling potatoes, pickling cucumbers, and tasty tomatoes. Very inexpensive.... only a couple of grivna.

As we were leaving, I saw this Babushka selling cherries and strawberries. They were both very tiny berries and the strawberries were quite pathetic looking. We passed on the strawberries but bought a cup of the cherries which turned out to be very tart. Our driver pointed out back in the car that we could have picked these cherries off of any of the trees growing along the sidewalk. But it didn't matter to us because we wanted to help the Babushka who by the way was very very nice as was every vendor we bought from.

Around 3:30 pm, our facilitator came out of the courthouse to inform us that we have a courtdate! Tuesday, July 1 at 9:00 am we will have court to offically adopt Dennis and make him a Reed! Hooray!

Before our facilitator left for Kyiv, John and I wanted to cook her a homemade meal.

We made potatoes fried in butter, cucumber-tomato-lemon salad, fried eggs, and bread and butter. It was very simple but we all agreed it was delicious.

Later, I stewed up those tart cherries with lots of sugar. And to my girls reading back home---the cherries turned out delicious---- better than the berry compote I make at home.

As I close, I must say that while I feel very at home here, I do miss my family and own home back in good ol' California. Being here has once again humbled me greatly as I look around the kitchen I am cooking in and compare it to my own luxurious American kitchen. Everything here is half the size of what my own kitchen is minus a dishwasher, can opener, ice maker, and garbage disposal. Makes me think twice about complaining that I don't have a second oven.