Sunday, September 30, 2007

Amazing




Vos is adjusting amazingly. He feels comfortable that we are here for him. He is starting to feel comfortable with meeting new people. It is truely a leap forward that I wasn't giving him credit for. I think he would do fine with visitors here (hint hint Mom and Chris!)

Here are some pictures from the zoo on Friday:

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Home Sweet Home

It is 7:15 and Vos is reluctantly watching baby Einstein beside me on the couch. We started with sports center at 5:45 this morning and that grew old fast as well. He keeps saying Elmo, Elmo. I can only handle so much Elmo but am about to give in.

Vos is adjusting perfectly. He seems to be smiling all the time and really likes his new room, bathroom, and all of his toys here. Still with all his stuffed animals, noisy gadgets, and action games he’d still prefer to be in the cupboard rattling the pots and pans. The only tough adjustment for Vos has been overcoming his mortal fear of Sabacas (dogs). For those of you who haven’t met our dog Bessel, she is the most loving and kind dog. Vos started off thinking she was a fire breathing, child eating werewolf. Over the course of the last 3 days and an entire bag of dog cookies Vos has come close to overcoming his fear. Yesterday in the park he was even hugging Bessel and pulling her tail. The only problem now is to get Bessel adjusted to Vos!

Our trip home was exhausting to say the least. When all was said and done the trip was 24 hrs. Added to that we still had to make it home and get settled there. Vos was absolutely great during the entire trip. We got him to bed at 7 the night before and all got up at 3. From there we made it to the airport at 5. Ever since Cindy and I missed our flights back home from Florida last summer I become very nervous that we’ll miss our plane. This time was definitely no exception. We made it to the ticket counter just before the big influx of passengers and received our boarding passes without any problems. From there we went through Ukrainian customs. The officer did not speak English and was very confrontational. We figured out what he wanted after a few minutes, which was the adoption paperwork. After storming off and returning he waived us through. After 2 months of dealing with unhelpful people this was actually an amusing situation as opposed to being stressful. On our way into Ukraine we paid for a VIP service, which was comforting since we had no idea what to expect. This service fast tracked us through customs without any questions. After advice from previous travelers the $130 for VIP was money well saved on the way out?

After sitting for 1.5 hours waiting for our departure we boarded our plane. Vos was excited and enjoyed his window seat. He wasn’t frightened by takeoff or anything else for that matter. We were worried that he would have trouble with his ears and gave him a sippy cup for takeoff and landing but that too was not an issue. We also debated whether or not to give him something to help sleep but decided against it, which turned out to be an excellent decision. After landing in Amsterdam we noticed a big problem. Vos didn’t want to leave the plane. This was the first time he made any noise.

The Amsterdam airport is one of the best we have been in. They have dedicated playrooms for kids, which we sat in for a while. They also have nap room for babies with private couches and cribs. All this for free. Vos was having trouble being in the airport for 4 hours and needed a timeout. Understandable. Part of our waiting included lunch – McDonalds fries for him and a brie sandwich for us. As soon as we boarded the 8 hour flight from Amsterdam to Minneapolis and Vos sat in the middle seat he got an idea of the boredom he was in for and started his protest. It was a row of 4 seats and the guy on the end wasn’t happy. He must’ve done someone wrong because right behind us was a mother with 4 KIDS under 5 years of age by herself! It is funny because a year ago I would’ve given the mother a piece of my mind when her 4 yr old daughter kicked my seat for 8 hours straight. Instead I gave the girl some play dough. We did our best to keep Vos entertained. He needed a timeout or 2 but managed his best by requesting bathroom trips every half hour for the 8 hours. We all managed some sleep on this flight although not too much. The meal was good, baked chicken with salad for me and cannelloni for Cindy and Vos. Cindy was much more patient when we needed to be with Vos. She is doing great and Vos really responds to her well.

We headed to customs when landing in Minneapolis. Vos was in the stroller here so this was helpful. There was a dedicated line for new “immigrants” and it also happened to be the same line as the flight personnel. The customs officer was not concerned about our short window to catch our next flight and made sure to handle all 20 or so attendants and pilots before he called us up. We were visibly agitated, tired and concerned. It was nice to see he empathized with us when he asked “is there a problem here?”. As Cindy was half way into saying “YES, we are about to miss a flight and you ………” I interrupted and said “No problem sir”. I am certain we were one step towards secondary but he decided to wave us on. Unfortunately one of our bags didn’t make it to the carousel(it was delivered home yesterday) and we had to rush onto catch our 4 hour flight to San Diego.

Vos and Cindy slept most of the flight. He was fidgety again but nothing unmanageable. Again he had the window seat and enjoyed watching the other planes and the views from the air when awake. Elmo also kept him entertained for 20 minutes. We arrived in San Diego on time and were greeted by Andy, Raegan, and little chuck who brought our car to the airport furnished with a car seat (Vos loves it). We were also surprise greeted by Melodie and Allen who brought balloons for Vos. In the parking lot Andy locked his keys in the car. Lucky Raegan knew to call onstar to unlock the car. Cindy’s mom Ardith was at our house to welcome us home with an ice cold beverage. Vos liked the welcome home posters, the toys, especially the tickle me Elmo from Cliff and Alissa that is now a fixture with him when he sleeps.

It is now 9:00 and I am trying to finish this up. Cindy just woke up and Vos is no longer requiring all my every minute of attention. He made it half way through Elmo. He is back to pretending he is terrified of Bessel although he keeps walking right up to her when she isn’t looking. Vos has really been amazing through this whole thing and is now really turned a corner. He didn’t need one timeout yesterday, which is one of the first days this has happened.

We now have to get all the logistics worked out to try and adopt Vos’s brother from the same orphanage. We have been told that everything should workout just fine and there shouldn’t be any hiccups. I will be sending an email out to ensure we have all our bases covered.

Now football is about to start. I have been looking forward to watching football for month now so it’s pretty exciting.

Lastly, I know how many questions and misconceptions we had before our trip to Ukraine. If you are considering adopting from Ukraine or will be traveling soon please send us an email and we’d like to share with you everything we feel would be helpful. I really wish there was someone share with us all the nuances.
zenissel@yahoo.com

Zenon, Cindy, and Vos

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Time

To quote a good friend of mine: in life there are only 2 things that matter, people and time. This has great meaning for me. I will spare you the gory details. Let's just say we consider ourselves blessed.

It's our last day. The past few have been ones where I think we have grown considerably as a family. We are learning what is important. Keeping an open mind is key.

Vos seems to feel very comfortable around us. He doesn't listen to a thing and only does the opposite of what one says. The challenge for us is not only to understand the workings of a 3.5 year old but also the workings of a 1, 2, and 3 year old in some areas. Couple that with the challenges of the past he has faced till now and you can imagine he feels lost, confused, angry, misunderstood, and on and on at times. The next little while (maybe a few months) will be important ones. They say that having a consistant schedule without many distractions to start will be important to help Vos feel comfortable, secure, and behave properly. This may mean little, if any, visits to and from friends. Because of the obvious, this will be hard. The other important thing I've read is not to spoil Vos with gifts. We may need to hide any from him ;-).

We are on our way to meet Lena for our last ukrainian meal. A ukrainian buffet. From there, we are meeting at the adoption center to inquire about Vos's brother.

The apt owner was very understanding and hospitable when we discussed rent last night. She gave us a nice discount. She has been living in the apt turned museum next to her apt. It was donated by the wife of a famous ukrainian piano composer who died when he was 42 after being imprisoned by the kgb during wwI. It isn't as much a museum as it is an unkempt dusty shell with photos and a piano.

Wish us luck travelling tommorow. We have decided to press our luck and not give vos anything for the plane ride as far as a relaxer. To get him partially adjusted, there will not be a nap today and he is going down at 6.

Bye bye sweet mother ukraine. We will miss you in ways you won't understand. (I won't - cindy)

Thanks to everyone for following along and making this an entertaining outlet.

Zenon, Cindy, and Vosya

Friday, September 14, 2007

can't sleep

I rarely have this problem. It's 2:30 a.m. and I have been up for a few hours.

The final step was completed at the consulate today and we have Vos's visa. There was nothing to it really since we had done all the hard work months before. Nothing left to do but wait for the flight on wednesday morning at 6:30. We will have to get up at about 3 am. Not looking forward to that.

We ate perogies for dinner. Potatoes and mushroom filling. Vos was more interested in eating the sour cream by the spoonfull. He is doing great, always looking for trouble.

I'll give sleep another chance.

-Z

Thursday, September 13, 2007

When I was in Poland I had Pony

Ever consider what your last meal might be. I do. I like food. I am not considering my last meal these days but my first meal. The first meal when I get back that is. I am somewhere between a greasy french fry filled california burritto with chips and salsa OR a steak with some pat and oscar's salad and breadsticks. A solid Bully's style burger would be third. Whatever it is will be accompanies by a beverage with ice. I havn't seen ice since we got here. They havn't figured that one out yet. I know this isn't anywhere near as glamorous as it should be but I'm easy.

Now for the title. If you don't remember that Seinfeld episode then you are missing out. There are pony's in the park that are there for the kids to ride. They also have little jeeps and motorcycles (the battery operated ones) and Vos actually almost had his first insurance claim (we have that one on video). In fact they have almost anything a kid would want in the park and that is a direct result of the new free economy coupled with lack of rules (it's neat but too much).

Vos has a love/hate relationship with both dogs and ponies. Either animal he would give up a bath for but once within 15 ft of one he freezes up in terror. It's amazing. All he wants to do sometimes is just look for dogs and ponies. Wait till he sees dog beach!

We submitted our docs to the consulate today. All went smooth and we have our official appt tommorow where we will receive our visa for vos. And this is it for the ukrainian paperwork. The rest is done in the u.s.. Well almost done here in ukraine. We will be submitting a letter to the adoption authorities to adopt vos's younger brother. Cindy and I will be drawing straws and the loser will have to come back to Ukraine next summer! ;-)

I want to also add that Cathy is my favorite sister of Cindy's (kim doesn't read this right?)

-Z

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

post #50

We must celebrate the occassion, maybe some ukrainian food tonight? Cindy actually said she wouldn't mind perogies. Maybe ukraine is growing on her.

More on Vos. He has gained 3 pounds I was told today at the doctors. We went for a mandatory medical exam where the paperwork generated is sealed and accompanies us to the u.s.. For the results today we had to pay extra as usual. I will cab it the 45 minute round trip to pick them up shortly.

Vos was excellent during the entire visit. He remains close to us now at all times and listens (this is new). It was tough when they pricked his finger for blood work and spent 5 minutes squeezing and dripping blood into a vial. He handled it like a champ. I wouldn't have.

Tommorow we walk to the american consulate to drop off all his paperwork. A mountain high of paperwork. We navigated the walk yesterday and good thing because we thought this would be handled at the embassy, but in fact it was the consulate which is in a different location. What is the difference between the embassy and the consulate anyway?

The feeling of having a child want you near them is what makes everything worth it. He has fallen asleep on me a few times now. He wakes us up early in the morning. Vos loves horsing around. I would do this a 100 more times for a child like him.

Thanks for the responses. We may have trouble finding chocolates with alcohol in them here so hopefully the wooden sticks I found at the playground will keep him busy. Just kidding(I'll bet my sister doesn't think so). Cindy mentioned possibly a video game or something for him but I don't want him to turn out like me and waste his youth on them. ...or worse yet: buy a nintendo in his late 20's ;-).

He is picking up a little english here and there. My mom thinks he talks like a little old ukrainian man. I agree with her but think his inflections and mannerisms are great.

Thanks to Andy and Raegan who will be picking us up at the airport with our car and have a car seat ready (although I am questioning the need for 1 after a month and a half without one here).

Lastly, I have my name up for the 1-2 nl omaha and am waiting for a call on my cellphone. Sounds like it happens once a week. If you understand that then good. If not then it's probably better that you don't.

-Z

Zenon won't let us buy more than three toys for him right now so he doesn't get spoiled. He doesn't seem to notice b/c he is now playing with all the pots and pans in the kitchen. He thinks they are HIS toys.
He really looks forward to his evening bath. He loves bathtime and he has found several other things to put in the tub with him besides store bought toys. Here is an inventory of his tub toys;

Plastic box
Plastic shapes that fit into box
Toy truck
Toy Airplane
A piece of his toy traintracks
Toy train that is now broken from being in several puddles and the tub. Batteries removed
A plastic spoon
A funky metal Ukranian cup
A milk jug
Two yogurt containers
Three small actimel containers
A tomato carton
A plant stem
Two sticks from the front yard
One large rubber snake

He was close to putting the watering can in the tub with him one night, but I drew the line there.
-C

Monday, September 10, 2007

Question

If you know of an answer please post. Marty asked if we had considered how to deal with jetlag and Vosya on the way home. We are not sure. We are boarding a 6:30 a.m. Flight and will be up at 3 on the day we leave (8 more days).

My parent's annisversary was yesterday. Their 40th to be exact. Amazing! My sister's family and my brother's all got together to take them away for the weekend to a cottage. It sounds like it was a fun. Especially at times like these we wish we lived closer to Toronto.

Today was a walk around town and back followed by naptime andthen another walk in the park. Cindy made a great dinner and just went to put vos to bed.

Last night I sat solo at the corner cafe refreshing the football scores on my laptop untill it closed at 11. Not entirely exciting but better than nothing to get my football fix.

No plans for tommorow. It's nice not to have to think sometimes.

Vos is doing great and so are we. Bonding.

-Z

Sunday, September 9, 2007

sunday football

We found the bakery with the muffins this morning. Not a big deal you say? Bah. It is very big. I followed the cinamon roll with a raisin butter thingy and helped digestion with a creamy capuccino. Breakfast of champions. Tommorow will be more of the same.

We also found lettuce at the grocery. To top it off the weather is perfect. 5 degrees and windy I'd guess. But the sun is out. It makes a person feel alive.

I met the irish couples translator who delivered our passport from cherkassy. We were scheduled to go there for it on tuesday but lena called and said that this translator could deliver it for us. The catch was that it would cost $120 for the passport lady to release it. I said forget it, I will go myself and travel the 6 hours and pay the 30 bus fare. Miraculously the passport arrived anyway. Hmmmmmmmm.

Football start in 4 hours. I can't find a place to watch it anywhere. I may try and get an internet radio feed somewhere but have never done this.

All are doing well. It is 4 and cindy and vos are napping. He did go for a nap today, one just has to be more stern with him.

-Z

Saturday, September 8, 2007

balmy

As unbearably hot it was a few weeks ago it is as cold and rainy now, especially with my shorts on. We outfitted the stroller with the raincover and managed to get lost this morning. The goal was to find the puppet theater. I finally admitted that my shortcut was faulty and Cindy took over. She sniffed out a few families who looked like they were going somewhere. We followed them into a russian religious congregation where there was plenty of entertainment includong songs and a puppet show of their own(the puppets didn't move with the voices). It didn't seem like anyonw realized we were out of place. ...and it helped that the 3 of us had no idea what was being said.

We backtracked and came across the hyatt,the place where we were ealrier on the trip with Kent. We made good use of the concierge and got a map with directions to the zoo, the puppet theatre (by the way, I wasn't even close), and the arizona restaurant so hopefully I can catch some football tommorow.

From there we found our way back but not before we stopped for some delicious uno's deepdish chicago style pizza. It was actually ukrainian style pizza at a place that advertised unos but it was decent none the less.

Vos refused his nap today. I have been forcing it upon him to the point where he refuses to enter the bedroom when it's time. Instead we had "quiet time" and played in the bedroom. I have no idea if this was a good thing to do or not. We hope he will still take naps!

He was a saint yesterday with me. He acted up last night when we sat down to dinner so cindy immediately took him home. She is great parenting him.

We have not had hot water since arriving this time in kiev. It wears on a person living like charles ingles. The ukrainian landlord, altbough very very nice, is constantly here in the apt and reiterating rules that we have been breaking. Funny thing is that he havn't broke any rules but this is what old ukrainian ladies do. The location is great but changes of scenery are helpfull too. Although it may not be the most desireable thing to move vos to another location we are actually considering it. We still have 11 more days and really need to consider our sanity as well. The irish couple we have been in touch with is in an apt near the city center on kreschatic and we may consider that.

Good news, the passport has been completed and is on the way here. We will have everything wrapped up next week and will wind down for our flight home.

-Z

Friday, September 7, 2007

cindy is shopping

Not a surprise there.

I am home with Vos and Cindy is off for some pt. He handles it very well! We were straight forward with him and said mommy would be back soon. I leveraged my position with promises of elmo whom we introduced to him last night. Thanks to my sister for that one! He now loves mommy, elmo, baths, and milk (in that order). He made me lay down for nap time after I made him hot dogs. I gave up after 20 minutes of elmo and threatened no bath tonight. He didn't bite. I eventually turned it off and he was actually o.k. w ith it after the sense of independence he got when making me sleep on my bed while he on his. He is now asleep which is the first naptime without a cry. Progress!

Our translator has gone back home while we wait for vos's passport to be completed (something about a paper shortage?). She had promised to keep in constant contact andthen decided to turn off her phone. I had tickets booked for next monday in hopes all would fall into place. Thursday was the important date that we had hoped to get his passport, so we held out on changing the plane tickets since there was no word from lena. Well that certainly backfired. No passport and now our tickets are booked for the 19th as there was nothing earlier availible. If our translator had of keep us abreast we could have chosen an earlier date. I don't remember ever being as mad as I was yesterday. A little communication goes a long way! I have to admit that I may have let myself become a little negative which surely has had an affect on things.

We both got over it fairly quickly. This will be more bonding time for us all in his native land. And I am sure once it is all done we will appreciate everything all that much more.

So I now have to go to pay for the new tickets in person. Klm is the airline and the office is right beside polish airways where all the polish people hangout. It is also just past the polish embassy and that too has many pols. I feel like I am in barczewskiville everytime i go there!

After this we are meeting in university park (me and vos with cindy and the other couples). We also plan on going out for georgian food tonight.

Tommorow we have been invited to tetianna's (the apt owner) dotchuck (cottage) for the day. She promises that there will be a good time had by all near the river and the apple trees. I'll bet vos will love it.

-Z

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Vosya from a few weeks ago





Writing from a cafe today. Things are slow but FAR more entertaining then Cherkassy. Our daily routine has grown to involve 4 p.m. meeting in independance square which we will do again today with the other couples. Vos had McDonalds last night. It was his initiation to become american. The transformation is almost complete!

Going home right now to change plane tickets from next Monday to next Friday (didn't get passport today). Will will be home on the following saturday. Final answer.

-Z

Brian Maul in Ukraine






I couldn't believe it! Brian has a twin.

nap time

I like nap time. I get so tired during the day. I am not sure how I am going to handle a full day of work. Yesterday and today Vos fell asleep beside me. It's great! Cindy and him are doing great together too.

He just got up from a nap. They said he needed time to wake up at the orphanage but with us he is all happy right from the getgo.

We are leaving to meet 2 other couples at independance square to hang out. They adopted from the same orphanage as well. Yesterday we met up and toured, ending for dinner at tgi fridays for a burger. Everything is new to vos and it is great to watch him. He like the bathrooms.

I booked our tickets for monday - positive thinking, right? Hopefully the passport will be ready tommorow.

Vos liked the park this morning. There was a miniature pony which he was scared of. He is scared of dogs too. I am sure that won't last for long.

Thanks for all the comments, keep em coming.

-Z

Sunday, September 2, 2007

heart of kiev

After all this time, we were finally able to arrange our last days in kiev at an apt downtown. This was the place we had originally planned for when we travelled here, but signals were crossed and it hasn't been availible since. The apt is owned by an older Ukrainian lady who rents to visitors here. She is very hospitable and made us vegetable soup and apple crepes for our arrival. She even offered to take us to her country home and relax by the river.

The apt is older victorian style with vaulted ceilings and classic Ukrainian decor. It looks like a Ukranian art museum. We had to move all the breakables away from Vos to the top shelves. There is a balcony to the north where Vos has been feeding the pigeons and also a balcony to the south that takes advantage of the afternoon sun. This place is in an amazing location.

We are able to walk anywhere in the core of Kiev. Yesterday, we went to a few parks, talked to an old lady who's dream is to become a u.s. Citizen one day, and went to the mall for more pants for Vos ( they are all being cleaned since he has been so excited from all the new things!). Vos's favorite was the playground in the children's store.

Everything is so new to him andit is fun to watch his reaction. We are here for another week and a half, at least. Now the countdown can begin.

Zenon is teaching Vos to form playdough into a bunch of strings, put them in his hand, and pretend he is sneezing out the strings of playdough. Should be a cool trick to show buddies at preschool.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

3's company

The day was full of running around and we didn't have a chance to see Vosya yesterday. When we finally arrived at 5 I am sure he was questioning us coming at all. He was waiting by the door when we arrived and apparently had been asking about us all day. I wondered if he would.

From the orphanage we went back to the apt. I was expecting child rearing to be a difficult thing but this is easy!

Just kidding chris. This has been the first minute I have had since last night to do anything. We gave him a bath last night, showed him our room. We played andthen got ready for dinner at 7:30. This is when he decided to deviate from the plan so we headed for bed (we ate at 10). From then it took him 2.5 hours to fall asleep. I hope this was a result of his new surroundings and not a habit!

He slept on our bed all night. I couldn't sleep, constantly waking to make sure he was still breathing. I'll bet this is normal for new parents. Cindy slept perfect. Vos slept perfect. As for me I am still looking forward to mine.

He was up at 6 and that was it. He has been nonstop action since then. The lone saving grace is that he does now understand what a time out is and respects it's wrath. ;-). So when he does get out of control he has the option to stop or have a time out.

We finalized all legal paperwork yesterday. We went for passport photos today and went straight to the front of the line if you know what I mean. There really is no other option. The locals were not happy to see this, they have probably been in line since last month. We were told to expect the passport on tuesday which is fast. This means that we may be able to schedule the last steps later in the week and be home by next weekend. This would be a great thing.

We are loving every minute of parenting. He is an amazing child. He is learning english and manners all at once. Cindy is great with him and they are back to their mother son relationship (where he goes to Cindy for safety). We have been discussing targeting next summer to come back and try to adopt vos' younger brother for now. Maybe this will be a possibility.

In a few hours we are off to kiev for a change of scenery. We will be staying near the center of the city for a change, close to everything. We will have to come back on tuesday to get his passport so it will be a 6 hour round trip just for that. (But we need to leave cherkassy!)

The end is in sight.

-Zenon

Friday, August 31, 2007

Ukranian photo studio

The sidetrip that Zenon referred to yesterday was to the photographer to get passport photos. I wish I had my video camera to show everyone what the studio sample pictures looked like! They were the funniest things ever!

There were bad hair family shots, lingere shots (several were wearing the same lingere..ewww!) A mom and daughter lingere shot...another ewww! One of a really frightened cat on front of cheezy scenery, and bride a groom shots...these were the best! One picture had a shrunken shot of the bride and she was all glowy white and sitting in the palm of the groom's hand smiling and looking up at him. Another one was with the groom shrunken in the bride's hand and she was acting like she was going to smoosh him with her 3 inch heels...my personal favorite.
Then the one of the groom holding the bride's leg up really high so you could see her garter belt...

We just left the office to get Vos's social security number. It was a former Communist headquarters so it was well equipped with a helicopter port on the roof and several underground escape routes in case of bombing attacks.

Soon, we will pick up Vos and say goodbye to all of his buddies and teachers. They are all so cute I may try to just shove an extra kid in my bag- I am in love with at least two other boys in his group now. Zenon even says he wouldn't mind having 5 or 6 kids.

This will probably be my last post since I will be chasing after a three year old for the rest of the trip.

Thanks everyone for your support and kind words. You all really helped us get through the tougher times!
C

Thursday, August 30, 2007

birth certificate

Not since our first week in this country have I been this tired. We were up at 4:30 preparing to travel to update Vos' birth certificate in a town 3 hrs away. We are in the cab and cindy is sleeping while Lena and the cab driver are engaged in non-stop communicato. I am sure they will be for the whole ride.

Lena arrived yesterday and soon after began the arrangement of all the details. We should have the b.c. Updated in a few minutes after which we submit for both a ukr soc sec # and ukr passport back in cherkassy. We also pick up vos from the orphanage today. He is excited to leave and we are excited that the day is finally here when we officially become parents. We have been planning on today being the day for a while. Yesterday Lena said we'd have to wait till monday. Cindy flat out said no way. Lena knew she meant business and negotiated him leaving with us today.

We had a side trip for Vos' photos yesterday. He was well behaved. when we returned to the orphanage he became upset and confused as to why he had to go back. 1 more day we told him (the reason for cindy's stance)

The weather has cooled considerably and has been raining. It is a welcome change. The contrast has been from about 110 degrees to about 60 yesterday. Amazing. It is like fall here all of the sudden. I like fall.

We went for azerbijan food yesterday, a recommendation from Daria. Finally some non ukrainian food in cherkassy. I think we may go back every day untill we leave. We also found a coffe stand in a local supermarket that sells espresso drinks to go. This too will be a daily stop.

Football starts in a week. I am very excited about this. I am hopefull that Vos' disinterest in sports right now is only a phase he's going through. I could use a partner to help pursuade Cindy that football is important on sundays.

We hope to post more photos soon, especially brian maul's twin brother.

Lastly, it was Anna-Lisa's birthday on tuesday. We called but the number has changed because you moved. So, a belated happy birthday to A.L..

-Z

Monday, August 27, 2007

monday

The weather has cooled quite a bit and we are enjoying our time much more.

Same routine. Up at 7. Orphanage at 10. Leave at noon. Downtown to pass the time. Back to orphanage at 4. Leave at 6. Back home.

Vosman is doing well. He is most definately treated like a prince around there. This makes parenting hard. The real deal starts on friday and we are preparing for it. Straight from the orphanage to the bathtub when we receive word from court that everything has been finalized.

From friday we anticipate 1 more week or so. Wish us luck.

I am running on fumes so the posts may be few from here on in.

-z

Saturday, August 25, 2007

5 and 1/2 to go

Days that is.
We can wisk Vosya away and he won't ever have to see the orphanage again. He is not back with his normal group yet. This will happen tommorow. Our guess is that he is very much oppossed to that idea. He will not stray too far from his current location which is the medical wing. I think he likes all the attention there.

He likes being spun around like superman and placed on the ground dizzy. The jungle gym is also a place where he gets his kicks. Today we smuggled in a frozen juice for him. He loved the contrban as it was melting. I believe he had his first brain freeze. If the caretakers had have found that we may have been in big trouble. Today was a good day to build on.

We went the direction of the river at lunch today. We saw the beach at the river and had a nap there. Today is the day after independance day and there was many people at the beach. It kindof reminded me of a scene from my childhood. Many older ukrainian types. Plenty of open fields near the water and no formal parking. Just a few cars scattered around with dirt tire tracks amongst the grass. I had a nap while cindy people watched.

It was hot.

On our way back we stopped at a hotel in search of air conditioning. We found a restaurant in the hotel dnipro(may not correct name). Excellent borsch. $6 with tip for cold beers, fries, and the soup. We'll be back there. English menu too which is worth it alone.

Now we are back at the apt and have cooled off. More of the same at night: reading, dinner, and terrible internet access from the mobile phone.

By the way Allisa, no to all your questions.

-Z

Friday, August 24, 2007

HOT

It's hot.
Real hot.

We're on the bus right now. Cindy looks like she just ran througha sprinkler and is fanning herself. We just bought a fan because we couldn't sleep.

Vosya is doing great. He loves to bury apendages in the sandbox. He cried when we left at lunch today. All parents leave at lunch. We met a couple from ireland and a couple from isreal. We all discussed the lack of variety in cuisine. They confirmed that a frying pan is the only way to cook something and beef is never an option. I'd pay good money for a crummy hamburger right now.

They also shared that they have both been to ukraine twice without luck on their first attempts to adopt. We have been lucky.

Back to see vos. We'll tell him you said hi.

Andy, he hasn't caught on yet but I think I'll have him saying it by the time u pick us up.

-Z

Thursday, August 23, 2007

For Cliff

Tame by Ukrainian standards but this should keep you happy untill we are home to show you the real deal. Keep in mind this is unisex.






































.

More Pictures

An amazing kid.
He is my hero, he has been through a lot. We can't wait to get him home. I'll bet Bessel is already dreaming of licking his face and all the free food Vosya will hand out.


neverending back and forth

Back to cherkassy. This time with a previous driver who is less kamikazee than the others.

Vosya is laying asleep between cindy and I right now. Considering the driver refused to use the air conditioning it is amazing he can sleep. We may need to get a summer heater for him so he feels at home.

He is doing great and the results were all great. In fact they were better than anyone expected. When we got to the hospital today he was being chased by a pack of older girls. I can't believe he has already assummed my magnatism! They were especially ammussed when he ran into the bathroom and proceeded to go #1 by himself with the door open and his underwear around his ankles. We may have to do something about his habit of waving goodbye to his business with a hand in the toilet.

He was so excited to leave that he forgot to say goodbye to the nurses and doctors. He went running by on his way to the taxi outside. They followed him out. He realized his haste and came back to say "speciba" and "de pobachima" to them all. We wrote down the address and will send pictures.

One of the nurses pulled us aside before we left and showed us a tupperware catalogue. We couldn't understand what she wanted so I offered to buy some tupperware off of her. Eventually we called our translator and she explained. It was a little embarassing since I offerred to buy some from her but all she wanted to know was if "tupperware" was a good brand and if the prices were decent compared to the US.

Kim also left this morning. We arranged for the driver to pick her up at 8:30 for her noon flight. She realized her flight was at 2:30. The driver was nice enough to agree to drive her at the same time we were leaving from the hospital. It is good to see we aren't the only ones who are disorganized.

I was talking to my sister Chris yesterday. We talked about us possibly travelling to canada at christmas which may be aggressive. She said if that doesn't work that she'd come to san diego. So that is something to look forward to. either way it will be great to have Vos meet his cousins. My mom and aunt both tell me he looks like my cousin's son Nicholas which is cool. He will fit in perfect with the extended family!

Did I ever mention that my sister Chris is the coolest?

By the way Marla, thanks for the support. Guess who went back to the toy store and exchanged the stroller this morning? It wasn't as bad as I built it up to be. They knew who we were as soon as we walked in and automatically assummed what we wanted. It was even more helpful that I had to exchange a belt for cindy yesterday 5 minutes after she bought it!

Lastly, I am trying your advice today Mom and it seems like it is helping!

-Z

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

1st day together

Vosya was groggy yesterday and 2 attempts to see him went unfullfilled. As a result, the entire day was spent travelling(by the way, is it normal not to crack windows or use air conditioning on a 3 hour bus ride when it's 90 outside?) with the exception of an interesting side trip to the mall.

Cindy has been looking forward to a stroller for some time now. She couldn't wait to go look so her and Kim went to the mall(into a Ukrainian "toys r us") and looked together(while I waited outside). Of course, when they came out Cindy let me know they put one aside for her(it went from just looking to this).

Cindy talked me into going back in later. Soon after showing me the stroller she decided it wasn't the one she wanted. No problem, we asked for help understanding the other models. Maxim the retail associate was a nice guy, but had clearly just landed his position. He spoke o.k. English so it was helpful. It was interesting to learn that he majored in chemistry and shared that it is no longer a desirable profession in the new Ukraine, so he is selling strollers until he figures things out.

Maxim had to ask for another's assistance(an impatient 20 something sassy girl) in explaining the features of each stroller. Keep in mind that the expectation in Ukraine is that the consumer asks few questions and knows what they want before coming in. Maxim's partner grew impatient quickly, so Cindy quickly agreed that the model we were presently looking at was the one she wanted. I, on the other hand, didn't want to purchase a stroller in Ukraine because I didn't want to lug it around since everything is so spacially challenged. We compromised that we'd buy and have them hold it for 2 weeks.

I went and paid and they immediately started wrapping it up and were going to store it for us for 2 weeks until we were ready to leave. That is when Cindy noticed a new model hitting the floor (in Ukraine it seems like they rarely have more than one so the model on the floor is a one of a kind). She asked that I tell them we'd like to consider exchanging. I said no way. Maxim noticed and he too became fearful of proposing this to the famale associate who just spent 10 minutes wrapping up the stroller good enough to weather the next chernobyl. His lip quivered a bit when he thought we would change our mind. Cindy pressed ahead and Maxim broke the news and the female stormed off the floor into the back. We could hear swearing and what sounded like crying.
She was smiling unusually big when she returned, no doubt after sharing some thought about Americans to her friends in back. Cindy mentioned that she rethought things and believed we made a fine purchase. Everyone was satisfied and we left. I will not return with cindy when she returns to exchance strollers with a different associate.

On the way home we stopped for beer and french fries at a nice pizza place. 5 dollars for all. I can't imagine prices in kiev remaining this low for much longer considering all the growth.

We were up this morning at 7:30 to get to the hospital at 9:00. We had some breakfast and Kim exhausted her daily quota of questions early today inquiring about the workings of a perculator. In typical Ukrainian fashion, we got to the hospital at 10. Vos was just finishing up some antibiotic treatments. He is looking good, but didn't say much before Nina left (the orphanage nurse who has been with him at the hospital for over 2 weeks straight!) I left for another hospital to pick up some test results. Cindy and Kim remained to feed Vosya some breakfast.

We are in the taxi on the way back. Nina and the cab driver are chatting away about nothing I can understand. Today is Kim's last day so I am sure we will spend most of it with Vos and then hit downtown for lunch and some sights. We will all leave for Cherkassy tommorow and drop Kim off at the airport on the way. I'll bet Vos and Nina are looking forward to leaving their hospital prison room.

Leana has gone home to Eastern Ukraine for a week and will join us late next week in Cherkassy when we finalize the Ukrainian portion of our adoption when the 10 day waiting period ends. From tommorow on it will be just us visiting Vosha in the orphanage each day.

-Z

Zenon's recollection of the stroller episode is completely blown out of porportion! He didn't mention that the salesmen basically tell YOU what is best without listening to what you really need. I said I wanted brakes, lounging capabilities, and the Quinny. What did they show us? The most expensive one in the store.

The End

Court

It is official, we are the parents of Vosya! We had court yesterday to explain why we wanted to adopt and describe how we will care for Vos. The judges really liked Zenon because they said he was really confident yet personable. He was so cute when he was talking about Vos. Thank God he was doing all the talking! They asked me one question and I got about seven words out before I started to cry. I don't know if it is normal, but the representative from the orphanage was also crying. Maybe it was Zenon's speech.

So, we have to wait 10 days then we go back to court and we are able to take him with us. He is definately sick of us visiting the hospital and leaving him there. The last time we visited, he knew we were getting readt to go, so he decided to take control of the situation once and for all....We were starting to leave the hospital, saying goodbye to the nurse and getting instructions on what to bring next time, and Vos walked right out the door of the hospital to leave by himself. He was done there, no crying this time just a calm , "I am going with Mommy now."

We are all done with this trip and want to go home. We are completely sick of Ukranian food! And dill!

Vos loves the sand box so I can't wait for him to see the giant one we have in Encinitas!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Lviv

Just to clarify, the songs I mentioned were high school favorites from 15 years ago but now popular here in Ukraine.

We are on the train now almost back to Kiev. It is Sunday morning. We are in 1st class. It feels like being on the titanic where in second class we were the people below deck with all the hard working salt of the earth types and now in first class we made it above deck. It really isn't much to speak of. Just clean, unpungent, and private. The contrast is what makes it special. ...and it helped that we had leana's ticket as well which ensured some stranger wasn't joining us in our small cabin.

Lviv was an amazing city. We stayed 1 night in the heart of the city at hotel george. Since leana did not join us we decided to only get 1 room which turned out to be perfect. The trouble was we disclosed 3 guests when we arrived which wasn't allowed in 1 room. ....so we just smuggled kim in at night.

All we did was walk around and enjoy the architecture and culture. It seemed like we stopped at a cafe every hour for a cappucino. They were everywhere (cafes). The plan was to meet with victor the tour guide at 2. We did meet at 2 but he couldn't be free till 5. We decided we were too tired and passed on a tour which was unfortunate since he was leaving town on saturday. After a dinner of perogies( didn't have enough energy to find the georgian place) we crashed back at the hotel at 7. We didn't get up the next morning until 8.

After the nice european continental breakfast (cindy corrected the entire english spelling version of the menu for them) we packed our bags and left them with the doorman, zenon. Yep, another zenon. We got some pictures with him. He was excited to meet another zenon as well (leana disclosed that she has never heard the name before just to give you an idea of how rare it may be).

We wandered around lviv again all day. Churches and more churches. You can just feel the history through the cobblestone streets and sparse but present seemingly wartorn buildings. I wouldn't hesitate to go back to lviv and I am sure we will to visit the outer villages where my grandparents on my father's side are from. Lviv is probably my favorite city now.

We found the georgian restaurant that day and it was worth the walk. Since there was no english translations we ended up with some interesting things. Just when we thought we were done and were full they brought out a huge platter of meat. Too much.

--------------------

Now it is 1:30 and we are on our way back to the bus to go back to cherkassy for court tommorow. We will stand in front of the judge and we will start the legal court process. From tommorow it is 10 days for it to be completed in ukraine. Progress!

We left Vosya at the hospital a few hours ago. He is doing great and we had a good time with him. He is trying hid best at english but it is probably too soon for him to understand what he is saying. Apparently he took over the caregiver's toothbrush and she hasn't had one for the past 3 days. It is good that he realizes the importance of good teeth.

I'd venture to guess that most of the adventure is over and it will be mostly business from here on in. Business and getting to know Vosya who can leave the hospital on wednesday we are told. But then again maybe the adventure is just starting.

-Z

music

Most won't understand the gravity of this but for those that do:

Playing on the radio I heard both "scatman" and "it's my life" on the same day in different places.

Amazing!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

2nd class

The stomach problems still persist but sean tells me I only have 1 more day to go.

We didn't do much on thursday. We left the apt at noon after cindy and kim took their sweet time doing nothing. Outside there was evidence from the storm the night before. Mud and debris everywhere. There were workers shoveling it from the sidewalks to the streets. We went straight to the hospital to see vosya.

He was in a good mood and happy to see us. We went for a walk to get him some juice and that is when he started his misbehaving. It is tough for us all because we don't have opportunities to spend much time with him. That should all change next week when we all go back to cherkassy. He had a 45 minute tantrum suring which cindy applied the all important time out. The language barrier doesn't help anything either. Hopefully we get those ironed out before the plane ride home ;-)

We went from there to the train station to get tickets. 2nd class was the only thing availible for the way to lviv. Leana asked if we still wanted to go. Of course, how bad could it really be. Well we should have got an idea of what was to come when leana backed out of the trip last minute citing a friend who just came into town.

Leana made sure we got on the train o.k.. We had 2 beds in one car and 1 in another. Leana managed to talk a man into switching beds so we could all be together after much hastle from the stewards.
First impressions are lasting and mine was of the pot bellied old man with his shirt off eating kolbassa as we took our places. The train has seats that fold into beds and bunk beds on top. I wasn't suprised to find the beds about 5 feet in length. I was happy when the neighbors opened the sour crout which combated the b.o and sausage smell. There was also a fine line we were walking between opening the door for cold air since we were sweating and the stink from the wc that accompanied the cold air. I just know that this experience will help us appreciate 1st class on the way back.

We walked around lviv this morning and had something to wat. It is really beautiful and just like what I picture a perfect european town to be like. Cafes everywhere, churches, and many different people walking about.

We are meeting with daria's contact, victor, who will be giving us a tour of lviv starting at 2. I ate a little this morning. Including more doughnuts but this time stuffed with sour crout. I am paying the price but I needed a warm up for the food this evening. Apparently we can look forward to great georgian food which I am told is a cross between persian and indian. Wish us luck.

-Z

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

kim arrives

We hadn't time for dinner before leaving leaving cherkassy so I grabbed some pepperonni sticks from the local meat counter. They were great, jerry would love them. The only problem is that they kept me up all night and now I am lying in bed with food poisoning. All 3 of us felt sick from them but I got it the worst.

our intent was to take the bus to cherkassy but our cab driver gave us a good deal. I figured we'd need a taxi from the bus stop anyway once we arrived in kiev. When we reached city limits the driver admitted he had no idea how to navigate kiev so he dropped us of at the bus stop anyway. No discount. He reasoned that he was honest enough to return our cell phone (once we inquired) after it fell out in the back seat from earlier in the day!

We made it to the hospital in time to see Vosya. He is doing great. He seems to be putting on a little wieght, he is talking to everyone now, and he has color in his face. Cindy bought him a toy snake and now he is terrorizing his wing at the hospital. He speaks a few words in english now but there is still a major language barrier.

I managed to make it out of bed this morning for a meeting at the hospital. It was a great meeting. The doctor says that most, if not all of their original fears have vanished. He is on antibacterial treatment and completes that on sunday. He also has one last test on monday. On tuesday he can travel back to his comrades at the orphanage. His prognosis is good. He will require more antibacterial treatments in the u.s. But the great news is that his kidney is relatively healthy. He won't require the transplant like once feared.

We still have plenty of investigating to do regarding vosya's siblings. We will not be able to pursue adopting either of them this trip but will seriously consider doing this next summer. Hopefully the logistics aren't complicated.

Did we mention his full name is: Vosya John Iseel. This is the third john in our extended family now (named after our grandfather)

I went back to the apt after the meeting and cindy went to the airport to pick up kim. It was very pleasurable for me when I arrived at the apt without the keys. They were in cindy's purse. It was a rough 2 hours sitting on a park bench while they struggled through traffic to get back.

Kim is doing good. She slept the entire flight so maybe she'll have a better time adjusting. They went back to see the troublemaker.

I am still in bed recouperating and looking forward top when I can eat more of the delicious deli meats (just kidding, it may be perogies only from here on in).

We are planning a side trip to Lviv starting tommorow or friday for 2 days. This is where my grandmother is from. It is on the west side of ukraine and will be a 10 hour train ride.

That's it.
-z

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Poppy Seed Holiday

That's right. It is the day we have all been waiting for. In celebration everyone eats poppyseed foods and drinks vodka.

We are sitting and waiting at the local administration building for lena who is talking behind closed doors. It is just a guess but I am willing to wager that she comes out with a request for an envelope with something in it!

She just came out. We will have court next monday which is very quick. From that date we have a 10 day waiting period andthen we are officially a family on august 31st. From that date the only hurdle is the passport.

I went jogging yesterday morning at 5:45 because I said I would. I didn't realize the moonshine vodka would appose this idea so much. after that we started the paperwork. Like cindy touched on, it was interesting to learn that Vosya has 2 brothers. It was brought to our attention in such a nonchalant manner. 1 is in the same orphanage and the other is 5 and at a different one. We are arranging to visit them both and should see them next week. Is this a precursor to another trip back to Ukraine next year?

We are now in the car driving to kiev once again. This post is taking me a while to write. Our driver is practicing for his next chance at racing in the german grand prix. Personally I think he needs lessons on depth perception.

It will be great to see Vos again. We have advised the doctors to give him coffee so that he is awake when we get there.

We will also be picking Kim, Cindy's sister, up from the airport tommorow. Some fresh company will be nice.

We have some more pictures to post but don't have computer access right now and probably won't for another week.

Now that the exciting news is overwith you will just have boring ukrainian trvel stories to read.
-z

Monday, August 13, 2007

more vodka and perogies

Tonight was the second night in a row that the homemade vodka was brought to the dinner table. The third shot is for love and they pressure you to drink it all or you get jinxed.

I made perogies with Lasya filled with cabbage. She was going to make them with fried lard, but I used the last of it on my hand the other day.

We finished a lot of the paperwork today. We will be going back to Kiev tomorrow to finally see Vosya (American spelling) again. We miss him a lot.

Funny thing, as soon as our paperwork was almost complete, we found out that Vos has siblingS at the orphanage.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sunday in Cherkassy

Both yesterday and today have been the most uneventful days of the trip. Just what we needed. Out of the apt at noon and back in at 7 after walking around town. Today we waited for our bus for 15 minutes. It didn't come. I talked the other 2 into paying 2 dollars for a cab ride instead of the 60 cents the bus cost. It is funny how we are penny wise and pound foolish sometimes!

We start paperwork tommorow and plan to bus it back to kiev on tuesday night. We miss the Vos-man. Yesterday on the phone he promised he was behaving (I don't know why he felt the need to disclose this ;-)).

Today I ate a Ukrainian burrito. Mmmmm. The roadside stand was just like a tijuana street taco vendor. The lady server looked like my friend Mike Samuelian with a wig on. The burrito was chopped pork cooked gyro style on a slab of lavash bread mixed with string carrots, diced oinions, cabbage, mayonnaise, horseradish and mustard. Just like the hotdog doughnut I wouldn't recommend more than 1. I am on a quest to try anything and everything. The dried fish chips lena ordered with beer last night were the first thumbs down.

I am currently on the second night of a huge bottle of Ukrainian beer and jamming with our newly aquired Ukrainian rack cd. We are making pizza for dinner in an attempt to replicate american food. I am skeptical that the flat bread, smoked chicken leg and salty mock-mozzerella will cut it. For some reason everything in ukraine has unfertone tastes of dill.

Lena is out right now researching any possibilities we may have to pursue a second child. This was our initial plan. I now have a glimpse of how much love (work) one child requires but a second child would keep the first occupied and be easier, right?

On another note, I realized how to change the blog settings and now anyone can post without having to log in which I am sure is helpfull for the un-tech savy like myself.

Thanks for all the warm wishes.

-z

Kent- you will be happy to know that the street dogs are well taken care of. People save their stale bread for the birds and their leftover pieces of meat for the dogs.

Here is a Ukranianism-
I hit my hand on a sharp metal railing. It hurt real bad! Someone gave me a frozen piece of lard to put on it to keep the swelling down.

-c

Ukranian weddings

Ukranian weddings are interesting here.Some things are the same and some different.

After the church wedding ceremony, they get into their cars that are decorated with flowers (that resemble arrangements for funerals) drive around and have the reception in a pub or cafeteria. Then, when it is dark, they have a fireworks display. Dancing and drinking follow for the rest of the evening...Lots of drinking. Lots of vodka shots. Then, the next morning, the men dress up in women's clothing, wear bright, thick make-up and continue to drink a lot all day and dance with the women. They play children's games and "fall down into embarrassing positions" as Lena said.

Wilkie, you have to do the dress up thing at your wedding.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

His name is Vasya!





We have great news to share! We have decided to adopt our "little guy" yesterday and we want to share the pictures. This third one is from our initial visit to the orphanage. He already looks soo different from this first day. He didn't smile and had huge bags under his eyes. He ate bananas like they were going out of style and was not too polite. He was also a major fashion emergency!

After a week in Kiev with him getting treatment for all of his parasites and viruses (as well as a little bit of a fashion perscription), he is smiling and laughing all the time. He hugs constantly and likes to kiss European style (one on each cheek). He started to smile at us on Wednesday- real smiles like he knows he is no longer alone in the world. He knows he is part of us now and that we love him.

We love his name and will call him "Vos" for short. He is learning lots of English words. His first word was "boat" and he has learned some more important words like "please" and "thank you." His first phrase was "I am a monster" because he really is a trouble maker. He pushes the limits and likes to pretend he is going to touch something or do something that he knows he shouldn't do just to see how you will react. As soon as he sees the reaction, he laughs and runs away. He is very independent and likes to do everything for himself. He is your typical boy! The temper tantrums have gotten shorter over the week, so we are making some progress.
He listens very well and everyone says he is really sweet.

He has some health issues and is physically delayed....he is 3 years 5 months but is the size of a 2 year old. He has been in the orphanage for two years and two months which is part of the reason for the delay. The doctor also feels that his parasite has also stunted his growth.

We are now working on getting our paperwork submitted. This next process will take about 20 days. So, more perogey eating and people watching for us!

We can't wait for everyone to meet him!

Friday, August 10, 2007

on the road again

Back to cherkassy. This time by bus. A full size extended van actually. As we were loading luggage someone snagged 1 of our 3 seats (you snooze, you lose policy is in full effect here) so Lena is riding up front in the middle working the shifter.

Much progress today. Too much to list now so We will post it tommorow. For now the 3 of us are back to Cherkassy to reunite our luggage.

We ate McDonalds for the 2nd day in a row, moreso because there is no other takeout and it is the only place near the hospital. American prices there. I bought us some cucumbers at a stand and we had those too.

Our ride by cab to the busstop was 20 minutes. Our cabdriver became impatient with the traffic so he drove through the park. Yes, he drove on a walking path through the park. The strange part is that pedestrians acted like it was just a normal walk in the park.

This trip was last minute. Our hosts in cherkassy did not have ample time to prepare so they will be staying with us. I hope they have perogie leftovers. Cindy hopes not. There will be 5 of us sleeping there 2nite.

Nothing else for now.

Thanks to Chris for ordering computer parts and mailing them to us. Lena has been waiting for this repair for quite sometime and it will be nice to help her for a change.

Lasha, I havn't met any Lesyas yet but I did meet someone who could pass as your twin today.

Lastly, it is official. My Ukrainian is useless. I am better off pointing and shrugging like all the other foreigners do.

I havn't a spell check on this phone so apologies for the spelling (and grammar).

-Z

Thursday, August 9, 2007

kentnukr@blogspot

Last night I was awakened by the horrible sound of cats fighting in the courtyard. It went on for about 10 minutes. It was tough to get sleep after that.

We set the washer before bed last night but it never took. Maybe it had something to do with there being no hot water? We couldn't get anymore days out of those clothes so a priority was a new shirt on the way to the hospital. After our cold showers we left and stopped at a store on the way. My designer shirts cost me 30 bucks for 2. I can't believe the deals in ukraine ;-).

A little progress at the hospital. The big results should be final tommorow and we can understand everything. So in a nutshell we should have something then.

After an impromptu appt with the sda (ukr adoption authorities) in which we learned little more, we proceeded downtown to meet with Kent(from san diego who came into town since he was in the area).

We had a good dinner, both ordering steak which we havn't had in weeks. It was great to see Kent and his brother and talk english. We went out for a few drinks afterwards with Kent to the new Hyatt with a view of the city. Again, a nice break from things.

All in all our attitude is really positive. We enjoy the comments to our posts. Thanks for all the support.

Maybe we'll have to being back hot dog doughnuts for alissa and marla.

-Z

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

humid

9 p.m.
We are sitting in a muggy room waiting for the boy to fall asleep. The nurse went out to visit relatives and will be back at 7:30 p.m. ;-)

There is a mall 15 minutes away. Today, We needed a t-shirt for me since my clothes are in danger of 3 days in a row. We could,t find 1 shirt that didn't have a california surf imprint on it out of 40 stores. Figure that 1 out. We did find a toy train though. Unfortunately after seeing every puddle in sight (he loves puddles) it no longer operates properly.

No real progress today but tommorow is all lined up. We expect news then.

Kent from san diego emailed and will be in late tonight. Maybe we will meet up for dinner tommorow if we have time.

Now to figure out how to get home safely in the dark.

raining chickens and pigs

For some reason yesterday was a tiring day for everyone. We didn't do much and not too much was accomplished. No tests were performed which sets us back another day. We are looking into offerring incentives today (we are out of envelopes for incentives).

part of what I have been trying to accomplish is understanding how an adoptive child fits onto oir medical insurance. The good news on that front is that any child will have full coverage for any pre-existing conditions (meaning they will be covered for anything we would be covered for). That is a huge plus!

Cindy stayed behind and lena and I rode the bus and got off in gridlock near the city center. A short walk later (2 miles) and she left me at the post office where I used the internet (this phone can't open some attachments and is limited on what pages it can view). Lena went on to ride the subway another hour to the other hospital to retrieve the previous test results.

On the way back to the hospital I stopped for the specialty donuts that Lena recommended (picture a long plain doughnut with a hot dog filling instead of jelly). There was a line up. Thankfully the guy in front of me ordered the same thing because I had no idea how to order them. I brought 1 back for cindy and 2 for the nurse from the orphanage who is staying with the boy full time. They were good. They tasted exactly like the doughnuts my grandfather used to make but had a hot dog in the middle.

We all met back at the hospital. It was funny because lena brought the same doughnuts back. I hope the nurse likes hotdogs.

The boy is bored and not enjoying the hospital. To make things worse, it is raining today. It has been raining all night which helped us to sleep 12 hours. Much needed!

We are off in 5 minutes - back to the hospital. Wish us luck with the bus today.

Side notes- don't sit at the front of the bus or everyone will give you their money and expect you to get change from the driver.

Todo- still need pictures for cliff (and absinth if we can find it ;-) )

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

tuesday morning

Up this morning at 8 and the plan was to be at the hospital at 9. It is back to just cindy and me staying in the appt here in kiev.

After some Polish coffee (unfiltered coffee with grounds) and getting ready we hit the road at 9. #19 was the bus we took which was suppossed to get us to the hospital. Trouble is it started going the wrong way. After figuring it out we backtracked on 17 which got us close. We walked the 5 minutes from there. the bus is really so conveinient and I look forward to it every time.

We are sitting on a bench in the hospital waiting for this round of examinations to finish. It is nonstop tests. No results yet.

More later.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

back again

It is 5:15 a.m. And we have been in the car for a half hour now. 5 hours last night but it was sleepless. The little guy hasn't been sick yet this this time. In fact it is the opposite, he is bored and constantly moving around (which is easy without a seatbelt. The driver laughed at me when I pulled mine out from behind the seat only to find the receptacle missing in this brand new car).

The borsch Lena made last night was excellent but my campanions in the car may wish she used less cabbage.

My priority apart from the abvious is to oblige cliff today.

We will be in kiev for a few say at least and if longer we may even meet up with Kent who called 2 days ago.

-z

A few more pictures





1.founders of Kiev (Kiev)
2.globe (Kiev)
3.Galina(our Kiev Facilitator), Cindy, and Lena(our translator)
4.Independance Square (Kiev)

Down Time

It is the weekend and we are waiting for tommorow morning to travel back to Kiev for more tests. Please be patient, we will post more information when we feel more comfortable.

For now, a little about our first visit to the orphanage:
Our first day was amazing. I am sure you have preconceived notions just like we did. It was actually one of the nicest orphanges in the country so, we got lucky! There were flowers everywhere and playgrounds with painted tires with flowers planted inside (I think we may consider adding tire planters to our landscape in San Diego.) There are many different playgrounds, much like a school. However, some of the equiptment was a little precarious. Many made with metal with sharp corners and pealing paint (lead-based I am sure). I think it would make most American mothers shudder.

The kids are amazingly well behaved. They crave attention but are also taught to keep their emotions in for the most part. Their days are regimented and it seems like they just coast through most days. We have been dubbed Mama and Papa because that is what the caregivers have labelled us.

When we went inside, we were brought to the main directors office. She was really sweet and started to give us "molanky hlopich's" medical information. In the middle of this conversation, "molanky" came in with his care giver. He was visibly scared as his eyes were huge and halfway behind the caregiver's leg. She told him to come in and he said, "No!" She pulled him in and he grabbed a chair and tried to get behind it. Needless to say, the chair didn't help so he was dragged into the room with the chair dragging behind him. He then turned his back on us and ignored everything everyone said for the rest of the time.

We all went back down to the play area and he continued to ignore us. He was pretending to be engrossed in his wagon, but he was really trying to come closer to get better look. This went on for some time. Zenon finally decided to pull out our secret stash of alphabet crackers ( that Alissa picked out) and started to shovel them into his mouth like we were going to take them back. Then, Zenon pulled out the big guns and got the banana! Again, his eyes got really big and he attacked! Zenon could barely peel the banana fast enough. At one point, Zenon went to peel it a little more so he could get to it and he almost had his finger bit off! Within 30 seconds, the whole banana was stuffed into his cheeks and he was looking for more! This was our first interaction for the day.

He then started to look at my bag. I had several toys and colorful stuff inside (that Rachel picked out) and he went straight for the ball. After two seconds, he was bored with the ball and went back to the bag to see what else was in there. As he was rummaging through my bag, a few other orphans saw this cornocopia of colors and next thing I know, I have about 14 hands going into my bag grabbing anything and everything and it got really noisy. I am not sure what happened next, it was kindof a blurr, but I was laying on the ground without my bag and footprints allover my shirt. As it turns out, Zenon had to rescue the bag and my sunglasses that were about to run off into the playground with our guy.

We decided to leave so we said goodbye to "molanky." He still had my scarf in his hand and was not wanting to give it up. I finally got it back but, he was not happy. He saw us leaving and he started to yell at us as we were walking away. I guess this is a normal reaction? They get attention from someone and then get mad when they leave.


We have been visiting about twice a day since and the interactions have gotten better. He really is a little independent little guy. Our time is spent interacting with all the kids. Yesterday a pack of travelling ants interrupted the play so we went for a walk around the orphanage grounds. All the kids want to hold our hands. It is really cute.

Right now we are sitting in an internet cafe. They charge about 1 cent a minute to use the computers. Ukraine seems to be a culture of extremes. Our lunch cost 6 dollars for 2 crepes, a chicken bake, and 2 cappucinos. On the other hand we walked into an electronics store and a compact dishwasher was $400 and a compact washing machine was $700 (these seem to be the cheapest models). Or another example being the horse and cart on one side of the street and the BMW on the other side.

Friday, August 3, 2007

How many Americans does it take to make a Ukranian smile?

I am now done smiling at people here in Ukraine because no one smiles back! They just glance in my direction and see me smile, their eyes get real big and they kind of look down then peek too see if I am still smiling. They either think I am crazy and they need to stear clear or I have bad gas and they need to stear clear.

back to Kiev

I still havn't decided which is worse for for a person's well being:
Could it be driving 60 down a 2 lane highway passing a trnsport trailer into oncoming traffic with no setbelts and a child in your lap
OR
Attempting to use a "restroom" at a truckstop when there is nothing more than a hole in the ground covered by a ramshackle hut and it is overflowing.

Yesterday was a write off. We finally got in some good sleep and got up at 9:30 to the ringing of the telephone. It was the doctor. She said the documents we scanned to her were inconclusive and we need far more info. So we called the orphanage (which is across the street from our rental - a 9th story apt) to meet with the director who was scheduled to be in at 1.

When we arrived at 1 we were told that she would not be in today but we could meet with the head nurse at 4. We did meet with her at 4. She agreed that their evaluations to date were not the best and that more was needed. We are lucky to have the best cordinator and translator working with us. They were able to arrange for us to go back to Kiev for further tests.

It was reassuring when Daria called at midnight to tell us that the hospital we would be visiting was state of the art. we are here now in Kiev. We lest Cherkassy at 6 a.m. And arrived here at 11. A 2 hour drive exasberrated by many stops and the worst traffic and exhaust (without air conditioning one could be in).

Waiting is the name of the game now. The hospital was great- very soviet era building. Before any test you must "negotiate" with the doctor. Negotiate is a kind term. Basically our translator tells us how much to put in an evelope and that is it. Better system than back home. The last test, an ultrasound was 50 greivena (10 bucks). A Ukranian Neurologist cost us only 10 bucks. I like these prices! When the ultrasound tech was unable to give us info, they did not charge us. Riduculas! Most everyone here is helpfull and looking out for the kid's best interests which is reassuring.

We just got results that we need to go have several days of tests next week. So we will spend time with the little guy over the weekend. He is really starting to open up.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

PICTURES

Here are a few pictures of our trip so far. The first one is Independence square, the second one is Zenon eating his first sausage plate ( go ahead Eric, make your jokes, One is the church that was near the SDA office, and one was a picture of the priest giving mass. We will download more later. This took a looong time.





Wednesday, August 1, 2007

aug 1st

today was a long day. The dumpligs that Lena just made were great (they were really just perogies filled with mushrooms). The left overs would not fit in the fridge because of all the other jars of beets and pickles. I will complain to the four seasons mgmt tommorow. Cindy loves ukrainian food like you wouldn't believe!

In all seriousness, today was a day that is tough to sum up with one word. Our 3 hour drive ended at the steps of a throw back ussr gvmt building and a meeting with a man who works in the largest soviet style office you could imagine. He asked a few questions and signed permission for us to proceed after saying we are brothers of the same profession (?? Maybe he engineers on the side?)

We drove from there to the orphanage which was similar to what you'd expect. Old brick buildings with old institutional style interiors. Our meeting was informative. The child we are visiting has some real things we need to check out. We spent plenty of time watching the interactions. It is tough to get into it too much. In a nutshell, we are hoping he prognosis is good.

wish us luck. We spent 4 hours today with dial up speed net access sending the info to our doctor in the u.s.. They will be calling at 9 a.m. Our time with the evaluation.

Sleep sounds good right now. Thanks for all the support.

Greg, you bring up some good points and questions. It seems like real dissappointing times here in ukr. The people really want more from their govmt and are disheartened with all the corruption that is still happenning. It happens at all levels apparently. ...but at least it is safe. Children playing in the streets, people walking everywhere. One thing that is really surprising is how expensive and comparable some things are. Most everyone is wearing nice clothes. Nice cars everywhere. I was expecting poor people. ...maybe some really are but definately not in the cities.

Budlaska. Please in ukr(one of my favorite new words).
Pyvo. Beer (Still my favorite old word).

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Cherkassy

It is 9:15 p.m., Cindy is manifesting Zzzz's (a must read: everything is illuminated by Jonathan Safron Foer). We leave tommorow morning and must wake up at 4. Lena will be picking us up by cab and we travel 2 hours south to Cherkassy. I think I am starting to talk like a ukrainian. Still fighting the smalling like one part though.

We meet with the boy tommorow around 9 and have a chance to interact. Things are realy pointing positive from what we are hearing. Sometimes the prognosis is overblown. ...but also his condition may be very treatable as well if correct. All signs point to the orphanage and professionals involved as being excellent. The region is apparently a favorable one to adopt from as well. First things first, we look forward to interacting with him.

Also thanks to Daria for the call today. She has been invaluable with her information and helping us prepare.

Today was another interesting day. We are learning. We set out at 9 in search of coffee and something to occupy our time. The translator was to touch base by 9:30 with plans of meeting up in Kiev. She called at 10:30 and said let's meet at 2.

We went to the downtown and mingled with the street vendors. They are nice people and like foreigners. We found the beergarten for a refrsher at 1:30 near where we were to meet Lena. We called to confirm. She said she was running late and would see us at 3 (see a theme here?). She arrived at 4:30.

We obtained our paperwork and went for a short walk. 5 miles later we found the bus home. Kiev has plenty of sidewalks for walking.

We stopped at the supermarket for dinner. I asked for a half chicken and was given a whole chicken. At least I got chicken. Dinner tonight wasn"t as good as last night's perogies, potatoe pankakes with fat and sourcream, and pyvo.

Kiev is my favorite european city.

-z

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Appointment

it seems like we have been waiting for this date for years. In fact we have. The day started the same as the one before. Coffee and more coffee while we waited for our translator and coordinator to arrive. we left at noon and our appt was at 4.

Galina, our coordinator is a very religious person. She wanted us to visit Kiev's largest church and pray while touching the stones of the original church structure from before the war. To get there we rode a bus, the subway ( which is a 5 minute escallator ride under the city!) And 1 more bus. At times they were so cramped that I wasn't sure if the b.o. Was mine or the lady's next to me.

The church was huge. An orthodox church with caves underneath. Many important priests are "miraculously" entombed here for all to see. Glass coffins with bodies wrapped in religious clothing. It was amazing to see the tunnels and rooms where the priests once lived. For some reason the bodies stay preserved although they have not been subject to any preservation method.

We moved on to touch the prayer stones. Galina was happy. Cindy got yelled at by a preist in Ukranian because she went into a restricted area...

To the appt from there we rode 2 oe 3 more buses. With no air conditioning and cramped quarters you can imagine it is an unconfortable but interesting ride (between the priest on his cell phone that rang with ukrainian Monk chants to the guy dressed like a russian mafia hitman).

We arrived a 1/2 hour early for the appt and reviewed our game plan. The scene was nervous outside. There were many ukrainian coordinators and apparently they are always waiting outside to submit paperwork for people like us.

Galina was able to join us in the appt which is a new thing. She was there to listen but not allowed to speak for the most part. We were introduced to the young female "psychologist" who was acting as the interpereter and the chair of the meeting, an old unfriendly ukrainian lady. The tone was unfriendly from the get go. Our plan to break the ice and hopefully gain some favor by explain my Ukrainian roots, but was met with indifference. None of this was surprising given what we have been told.

They began by explaining that most, if not all, children have medical needs of some kind. We filed paperwork hoping to adopt 2 children. They explained that only sibling groups are offerred in multiple adoptions and the only children availible now as sibbling froups were 7 or older. Too old for us.

We went through the paperwork of the availible children and there were 5 altogether. We narrowed it down to 3 right away, but all had medical issues of some kind. It was explained that although these children may not be healthy enough for what we are comfortable with, we should still choose 1 child to visit. The good news was that there is a cute boy who was, 3.5 years old, who stuck out from the start. The problem was that we were not familiar with all the medical issues listed in his file. We were told that we had 1/2 an hour to make a decision or else we would have to wait approx a week for another appt. Also, we were told that the 1/2 hour was a 1/2 hour more than other families were allowed. We consulted with our translator and coordinator outside and they agreed that the boy was a good candidate to visit. To help us feel more comfortable, they contacted 2 doctors within 20 mins to get their opinions. Both surmised that the issues are potentially treatable if not cureable. He has kidney problems and a heart murmur. We sent word that we'd like to visit him and will hear word today of where he is located in Ukraine so we can plan our travel arrangements.

It was a tiring experience. ...but we feel good about the situation. We look forward to meeting with him. On one hand you want to let go and really look forward to meeting a child and trying to love him from the start. On the other hand, what if his problems are too severe?

We have heard that the process is still very corrupt here. Maybe the adoption authorities were unfriendly because we brought our coordinator to the meeting? A couple last week was told behind closed doors that they could have a healthy child if they paid 3500 right there. We wouldn't even want that option. To hear Leana (our translator) talk, she says the Ukrainians are disheartened with all the corruption. There is much more to the story. ...but how could outsiders feel comfortable contributing to such a terrible process?

...It is 9 a.m. Here and we have been up since 2. Another sleepless night. I am writing from a cell phone so please excuse the spelling and gammar. We will share more when we know more. I am also looking forward to sharing all the Ukrainian experiences we are having. It is amazing and sometimes a little emotional for me to be in the country from which my grandparents and parents came - to see the customs and similar looking people....I can't believe how good looking everyone is!

-Zenon

Sunday, July 29, 2007

jetlagged in kiev

After 18 hours in the air and 15 minutes of sleep, we finally made it here in Kiev!

We got through customs really easily and had no problems meeting up with our facilitator, Galina.Things were really good. So, I was really relaxed and walking, swinging my arms, talking to Galina when all of a sudden, my hand swings and precariously hits an old man reading the prompter. I think he said "yeow" in Ukranian really loud... Within two seconds of getting off the plane! Geesh!
We got to our apartment and passed out by 6PM and woke up at 2AM. Gotta get used to this time zone...

Today, we went sight-seeing in Kiev. (We took pictures to share, but we have to download them another day since we don't have internet... I am writing this from my phone.)Lena, our translator showed us around and gave us a history lesson. Kiev has really changed over the past sixteen years since their independence from USSR. The last ten have have the most significant changes (there is now toilet paper in the bathrooms Marty!). They are just starting to get international tourists and hotels are really expensive since the demand is higher than the supply(300 to 700 a night!).
Lena told us that the American tourists are the easiest to spot because they all wear plaid shirts, jeans and a belt. Funny how it was the exact description of Zenon's outfit for the day- and he isn't even American!

She took us to the main street called Independence Square.It was really fabulous. It was all built by Russian architects right after WWII so they are all ornate with arches and textures. Of course we went to a traditional Ukranian place for lunch. Yes, chicken Kiev was on the menu. Saw two American tourists in there and- sure enough- they were both wearing plaid!

Tomorrow is the big appointment day. We will most likely travel to meet some kids on Tuesday already. Everyone put out the good vibes for us!

Travel tip for the day- don't drink bubbling tomato juice.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

How to Get in Touch With Us In Ukraine

We will have a Ukrainian cell phone and it is free for us to receive calls. We have set-up the following calling plan which is free for you and was cheap for us. Call us anytime! Do not call direct (without these instructions) or it will cost you about $3/minute!

INSTRUCTIONS REMOVED BECAUSE THE CODE WAS STOLEN AND USED TO CALL PLACES LIKE NIGERIA AND PHILIPPINES!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Does anyone else love researching how things work or where they came from as much as I do?

Traditional Ukrainian names:
http://www.rootsweb.com/~polwgw/namelist.html#ukrainian

I was also curious about the history and involvement of my grandfather in World War II. I remember him saying that he was in the german army but it was confusing to me. How could he be in the german army in WWII? ...wouldn't that mean he was fighting with the Germans? The following sheds plenty of light on it:

http://www.infoukes.com/history/ww2/page-21.html

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It's 2 - 1/2 weeks to go now. We have an appartment set-up for when we arrive in Kyiv which is great. I got the tip on this appt through my sister's doctor in Toronto who put me in touch with a woman he knows, etc, etc....
I tried calling the owner in Ukraine thinking maybe she would speak english, or just maybe I could carry on a conversation in Ukrainian. Sure enough she answered when I called and spoke Ukrainian, great. The problem is that after saying hello I blanked and couldn't speak anymore, so I hung up. My mom came to the rescue and called her back and arranged everything for us. Turns out the woman will even cook us perogies every night! We'll only be there for 4-5 nights to begin with, then off to where-ever the children may be in Ukraine.

We'll keep you posted as we move forward.

Zenon and Cindy.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Getting Started

The trip is 1 month away. We just finished moving and have a house full of boxes. Between moving, work, and what seems like endless odds and ends we have been trying to understand how to plan for our trip.

We bought our tickets and fly out on July 27th. Our appointment is in Kiev on July30th at which time we will be shown approx 3 different children (or sibling pairs) from different regions and asked to choose 1 to visit with. Our paperwork was finalized with the hopes of adopting 2 children, either sex, with hopes of them being as young as possible. We have been told that the minimum age will be 14 months but that we should be open to older children.




From the Kiev appt We will have to review the children's respective medical histories and send these back to a U.S. doctor whom we have hired to help us make an informed decision (she is from Kiev and has practiced in both Ukraine and now in U.S.). Our decision will have to be swift, within 1 day I am told. From there we will travel to the region where the child is located and meet with the child. At this point the key is to guage how the child interacts with others, with us, with animals, and to see if the child shows any visible signs of medical issues. We will take pictures and send these back to the U.S. doctor, along with any additional medical information, and receive her prognosis back within 6 hours. It is at this point that we hopefully move forward with the adoption!

Stepping back, when we land in Kiev we have arranged a service to help us bypass customs and immigration, a nightmare we are told. After this point we will be greeted by our prearranged translator and a driver who will be with us during our entire trip, hopefully as short as 4 weeks but possibly as long as 7 weeks.

I am told that Kiev is a beautiful city with plenty of culture and good food. We are looking forward to spending some of our waiting time here, but surely the majority of the time will be in the orphanage region where our child/children are living. We can only hope that this region is a stimulating one as well.

Wish us luck and feel free to send us an email, we will have access the entire trip I believe.

-Zenon and Cindy