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