Monday, December 29, 2008

A Merry Christmas was had by all....

Christmas this year was quite fun. We were joined by my Father-in-Law and my mother. It was quite the duo to say the least. The kids had a blast opening presents and playing with their new loot. Sonny Boy is paticularly proud of the new Wii grandpa got him and so is mom, since I'd been wanting one for quite a while as well. Igor is the proud new owner of a play kitchen and has been busy mixing in the blender ( margaritas for mom?) and making me eat fake food. Alas the houseguest are all gone, I dreading taking down the decorations in a few days and we will all be back to normal, whatever that may be around here.

Tomorrow Igor goes to the doc. For several months now we've been battling bouts of constipation. He will be constipated, I'll give him a dose of milk of magnesia per the GI docs orders, he poop normally for a week, sometimes longer and become constipated again. If hubby I are not communicating properly ( unfornately it needs to be an everyday conversation if you changed a normal poopy or not) he'll become somewhat inpacted and have a miserable bm. After trying home remedys and making sure his fiber intake has increased it still hasn't really effected things so we are off to the doc tomorrow. Hopefully the pediatrician has some remedys that are long term, if not we are doomed to attend the constipation clinic (can you believe there is such a thing?) at children's hospital. I have a feeling we'll start a daily dose of miralax as that seems to the option of choice for this kind of thing as I read up on it on the web.

Currently I'm longing for a warm vacation. Snow has been miserable this year with record amounts for December. It did warm up in the last couple of days and melt what was on the ground, however I'm sure that's just a short reprieve. After shoveling out from a recent 12 inch snowfall I told hubby that I'm beginning to understand why all the old people move south when they retire. If we have another huge snowfall winter like last I might start pawning things in order to purchase a snowblower. Back to vacation wishes, even if I had money etc I don't know what I'd do with the kids. Hats off to those who take their kids on vacation with them, but until everyone is potty trained, does not need a mid-day nap, and can eat in a restaraunt like a human it's not much of vacation for me. My job is the kids so why would I carry them on vacation with me? Sort of like taking your computer, boss, and spreadsheets with you.

Since the end of the year is here we have been discussing what we will do with the windfall that will be our tax return this year with the adoption credit. For now we have decided to let it sit in the bank and watch the economy for a bit. If things don't go further downhill and it appears hubby's job will remain stable we will probably get in line for the adoption roller coaster again and try our luck. I don't think we will return to Ukraine though, the news that comes out of there seems so dire in regards to adopting young children. I don't think I can take the blind referal process again and this time I want a girl!

Well I must get supper on the table or the terrible twosome will begin gnawing off my leg. Hope Christmas was merry and the new year is good to you.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Merry Christmas

I know it's a little early for season's greetings, however at the frantic pace life is going at right now the opportunity to actually blog before Christmas looks terribly slim.
I see the schedule terribly booked every weekend up until Christmas and I have only purchased one gift for the boys! This last weekend was devoted to the civic organization I belong to. I didn't really intend to spend all weekend working or attending functions however it seemed everything fell into place on one weekend. Friday night was the town Christmas parade that I had chaired the float comittee on so we met early and assembled the float that Hubby and I had accumulated the items from here and there from. The float turned out really cute but OH BOY was it cold somewhere between 10-15 degrees for the parade. Sonny Boy gave up and rode in the cab of the truck instead of on the float! Of course I forgot the camera and the only picture that exist is on someone's blackberry. Early Sat I drove north with fellow members for officer training at the tail end of a 2 inch snow, it was a little dicey at times but we made it. I spent the night and attended the installation banquet of the state officers and we stayed out way too late. The next morning we dragged into town just in time for the shopping spree we sponsor where we take needy kids shopping so they can purchase gifts for their family members. I'm about pooped with group but I still have a meeting tomorrow night and some Magic Show thing I'm in charge of to handle in a couple of weeks and our local installation banquet to plan in late January. Me thinks I signed up for too much right at the holidays. Hubby was a trooper and handled the kids all weekend, although I came home to an empty fridge.
One of the things on my many itemed list for the holidays is to get a decent pic of the boys for our holiday card. We took these while we were visiting family over Thanksgiving.





Somehow I don't think any of these say Merry Christmas, but I'm tempted to put them all on one card anyway as it might be quite funny. I think I may have one more shot this weekend if can get my act together and dress the kids to go see Santa in the Chalet they have here in town. It's a nice little thing town does and you can take all the pics you want with Santa and not stand in line or pay the outrageous prices that the mall charges. Perk of living in a small town.

Eli's now going to a little group speech therapy thing now once a week. It's like a condensed preschool for two year olds in one hour. I hope it helps his speech start to catch up as he's getting pretty frustrated at times. Besides that I'd like to know if he's spitting out the rice because he thinks it taste bad or if he's just spitting it out.

Anyhow I must get back to circus show called house chores with a two and five year old running wild at the same time. Merry Christmas to all in blog land!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I'm a bad mother...

Maybe it's because I am completly burned out from dealing with the mountains of paperwork from the adoption, maybe it's because Igor is the second child, maybe it's because I'm intimidated by all the scrap booking stuff at the craft store but I haven't even began a babybook of any sort for Igor. I know, I know, he should have the all important Life Book that somehow becomes the bible for adopted children, I know I should order one of those adopted baby books from somewhere on the internet, but I just can't bring myself to start dragging all of that stuff out again. I'm even bad about taking pictures!

Speaking of dragging stuff out, all of Igor's paperwork is now officially over once I get him a social security card, which I plan to do next week. A couple of weeks ago we had our re-adoption hearing here and gained the all important stateside birth certificate, though it's not a real birth certificate, it's called something odd and looks a little odd, but it will suffice in all situations where a birth certificate is called for in life, and I will only need to call the state in order to get new copies in case anything happens to these instead of wrangling Ukrainian paperpushers in some po-dunk town. Anyhow with the completion of this last little bit of paper wrangling I plan on emptying my accordian file that has never been too far from me for the last 18 months or so, shred, or file as needed and put the stuff away. Finally that red file will be hidden unless I can talk Hubby into going into this crazy adoption thing again for a girl. Needless to say he's balking like a donkey on a steep trail.

With the onset of cool weather Sonny Boy's extreme hyperness has driven me to the brink of insanity. Currently we are having him tested for ADHD (which I've always suspected) and the pychologist agrees that he's definitely hyper, though we haven't determined a full diagnosis yet. We will most likely start him on meds to see if it will settle him down to some extent. Funny how my thinking changes when faced with this problem. A few years ago I simply would have said that "those parents just need to give that kid a swift kick in the pants" however after delivering so many swift kicks, time-outs, etc I'm at my wits end on how to communicate with this child. I feel as though I am constantly on his case and I don't like it anymore than he does. Looking back the signs have always been there, and when I compare Sonny Boy behavior to Igor's behavior at the same age it's apparent that either Igor is way too mellow or Sonny Boy found a stash of crack hidden in the floorboards from the previous owners of the house.

Since the holidays are fast approaching I'm torn. We plan on being at home this Christmas, the first in a long while (we are usually at family's) so I'd really like to do a big thing with this being Igor's first real Christmas. However I'm a realist and realize that he won't really remember anything and we shouldn't really spend all the money and have the hassle of a huge meal etc when it will just likely be the four of us. I guess we'll see what crops up and if any holiday orphans appear at our table.

Well I've written now, it's late and the little ones will be up early as usual.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

YOU are the BOSS!! Tips for the traveler

After reading some recent blogs of people in Ukraine and noting the experiences of others while we were in country I want to give a few tips to people who are traveling or about to travel.

1. Remember YOU hired these people to help you. While your facilitator may know the ropes and strings to pull to get your documents done they are not in control of your pocketbook. If a flight to your region is too expensive make them investigate other options, if a hotel or apartment is too expensive tell them no, find you somewhere cheaper. If your dragged into a restaurant and the prices in grivna look like a phone number, tell them you want to eat cheaper. While many of the expenses of this "adventure" are uncontrollable things such as these are and if your budget is tight can ad up.

2. Keep all cash and your passport with you at all times. Wear a money belt and pull out your daily needs for your purse or pocket when you dress in the morning. I never felt threatened that I had all that cash on my body but I didn't leave it anywhere either. I soon adjusted to having the money belt on and didn't think of it anymore. Take all unnecessary items out of your wallet or purse. You will not need your library card in Ukraine, that way if something happens at least your not replacing all of that stuff too. Men should keep their wallets in an inside coat pocket or front pants pocket, women make sure purse is zipped at all times and do not carry a purse w/o a zipper, also keep purse in front of you when in crowded places same goes for backpacks etc.

3. Try not to stick out like a sore thumb. When in public speak quietly. Don't wear white tennis shoes unless your under 25. If your a championship high heel walker buy some stiletto boots, if not, take very non-descript dark colored shoes. Do not wear expensive jewelry. If your wedding ring has stones in it at all leave it at home, wear a plain band or nothing. Jeans are OK to wear and are very practical as most of the time you can wear them several times before washing. Dark jeans are more common than faded washed out jeans. Walk quickly, everyone walks fast, no one strolls. Do not sit on concrete or stone walls. If it's even close to being cool weather wear a coat. Don't ask me why, everyone wears a coat even in pretty mild weather. Dress in layers, inside tends to be overheated and you will want to be able to get to lighter clothes.

4. Pack very lightly. Cars are little and there isn't much room for luggage, same goes for train compartments. If I was to do it again I would carry no more than a rolling carry on per person and a backpack. You should be able to find most anything you really have to have while there though the brands may be different etc. Consider it urban camping, you'll make do. There's no need to carry laundry soap etc it exist there. The only thing I really recommend taking is a length of twine in order to make your own laundry line if needed and a travel size bottle of fabreeze to freshen clothes and things since everyone there smokes. While every other list you find says ziplocks by the dozens, they are handy but you can manage w/o them. Save the space for reading material, DVD's, or a board game or deck of cards.

5. Remember most things in Ukraine are negotiable. Hotels, apartments, anything in the open markets, your "expediting" fees, taxi cabs, even train tickets if your facilitator schmoozes enough. I think the biggest tip for negotiating is to send your facilitator in and do not disclose you are foreign, just stand there quietly or stay outside. Again, you are the boss and he/she should work for the best price for you.

Our facilitator was very up front with us about our options, therefore I know there are other ways to do things while there. From reading others blogs I get the distinct impression that many are told we will buy a plane ticket to region, we will eat at this restaurant, we will stay in this apartment and not given options and many do not stress their wants and needs due to stress, language barrier and culture shock. For those people please stress your wants, needs, and the fact that you can't or won't afford XYZ and you want other options.

Remember YOU are the boss. Nothing can happen w/o your pocketbook paying for it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Halloween Scare!

Last Tuesday I braved downtown Chicago traffic to deliver the donation boxes to MEEST to ship to Artemovsk. That was quite a trip! I'm not used to the heavy traffic, big city and I really had never driven to downtown before but I made it in spite of having both kids in the back seat and Sonny Boy poking at Igor every other mile and making him emit a blood curdling scream. Ha!

The MEEST office is in the heart of a Chicago neighborhood called Ukrainian Village. Most everyone I spoke with had a Russian accent or spoke entirely Russian or Ukrainian. Sonny Boy was amazed that the people spoke Russian. I think he thought I had driven him to Ukraine in an hour and a half. While in the neighborhood I stopped at a Ukrainian deli to look for some of Hubby's favorite Ukrainian beer. When I asked the man stocking the beer case he only spoke Russian or Ukrainian, thankfully a young woman there offered to translate and I was informed that we would not likely find his beer here as it's a relatively new beer not being sold in the states. The girl that translated for us said she couldn't wait to look for it on her next trip as she was traveling in a couple of months. Just a guess but she must be first generation American as she spoke fluent Russian and her English was completely un-accented. There was also some sort of Ukrainian museum there and several orthodox churches and a Ukrainian Catholic School. Made me wish that we lived a little closer in order to expose Igor to more of his culture. However it's not terribly far so when he gets older we can go to the museum and such.

The Toy Drive was a huge success. I ended up shipping 158 lbs of stuff to the orphanage. Thank you to everyone who donated. If you didn't donate, start saving your pennies as I will do it again sometime in the future but not real soon. Here are pictures of most of the items that were shipped. After I packed them there was still room in a box so a few more things went as well.





So if you happen to end up in the Artemovsk Baby Home keep an eye out for these items and let me know you saw them. It would be a relief to know that they gave the toys to the kids and didn't just sell them at the open market or take them home to the workers children.


Our town trick or treats the weekend before Halloween on Sunday afternoon. Not very spooky doing it in the afternoon hours but safer I suppose. Everyone got into the holiday spirit this year, even hubby who donned his old costume from a party a few years ago to take the kids trick or treating. I stayed home and handed out treats. We had only half the number of trick or treaters that we usually have so now we have lots of candy left over not to mention the loot Sonny Boy gathered.


Sonny Boy had a difficult time in the robot costume and it came home several times before they really got going for revisions, however it got rave reviews from others. Hubby even said several people stopped their cars and honked and gave a thumbs up. It was a simple costume to make, however this is probably the last year he could have worn it as he wouldn't have been able to get is arms and legs into the dryer vent hose. My own costume, well we are not sure exactly what it is. Hubby bought the mumu thing at Salvation Army to play a trick on his homophobic co-worker a few years ago. He never actually played the trick so it's been stuck in a bin for a while and I figured since Hubby was going to actually dress up I would too so I stuck it on and found the loudest headband. We decided I was either a gypsy or a hippie. What do you think?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Home Six Months Today!!



Just a little over seven months ago we met our son for the first time. Though he I didn't give birth in the traditional since the labor was intensive ( can you say two dossiers?) the prep was expensive ($10 to ad a stamp??) and I endured a year full of more stress than Forrest Gump taking an Algebra exam. But you know what he FINALLY came home!
This picture was taken just a few days after meeting him. A child who was just beginning to walk, a child who was not saying anything understandable to anyone ( not even Russian speakers) and that the eyes we thought were merely crossed were almost blind.


This picture was taken today. Today Igor can walk almost as good as the average two year old, he doesn't stumble much. Climb like a mountain goat, say several words in English though he still hangs on to his Russian "Da". Today Igor can see fairly well thanks to the unbreakable toddler glasses on his face. Today Igor has now had all the immunizations that are reccomended by CDC, in the right order, in containers that we know were not expired.
Today Igor is 5 lbs heavier and 2 inches taller than he was 6 months ago. While that's not the quite the most astounding growth rate you've ever heard in the world of international adoptions, it's not bad considering that the child we met in the orphanage who would eat anything, turned into the kid with eating issues who barely chews and each meal can take anywhere from 30 min to an hour. Igor is now sitting on the height chart very well and edging almost to the 10% line for his weight.
If you've stumbled over my blog while researching adoption or just toying with the idea, know that not only will the child win by becoming part of your family, but you will win by seeing how a child can blossom and grow. If there is an inkling in your heart to raise a child there are ways to adopt if that is what you want, and while it is a long, expensive and stressful process the end will eventually appear.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hey! this kid isn't all perfect

I've noticed in the last few post I've raved about how Igor is adjusting so well etc. Well I can honestly say we are starting to hit the terrible twos. I think many of the tantrums stem from a lack of language skills as in many two year olds, however Igor lags far behind most home-grown kids his age so it's even more difficult. As a rule the tantrums are over normal things and end fairly quickly but occasionally a doozy will pop up and he'll rage for 20 min or more. I'll simply sit down with him and hold him till it passes but I'm sure anyone walking by (the sidewalk is very close to the house) might think I'm killing him. I've taken to the tactic of placing words in his mouth for him and he can now say " I'M MAD!!" quite clearly. I hope he starts screaming that instead of the general yelling he usally does.


Last week my mother visited, it was her birthday and Igor's was a couple of weeks ago so we held up Igor's so they could celebrate together. Mom doesn't get to see many of the milestones of the kids so it worked out pretty good. It didn't take long for Igor to figure out the present opening thing and he really liked getting new toys. Cake was not such a big hit though, I had read gobs about the famous Ukrainian sweet tooth but I guess he didn't inherit it.


Yes his glasses are usually that smeary all the time. We clean them constantly but little fingers tend to be greasy!

Sonny Boy was just as excited about all the new toys, you would have thought it was his birthday! Probably the biggest hit of the toy parade though was a ball popper, both kids have played with it tons and it is funny with the ping pong balls flying around all over.

The last couple of days have been spent purchasing toys and making an inventory list of the orphanage donation drive I instituted. I've had a generous response from many people that I never expected to. At this point I expect to send two large boxes of toys (many new) clothes (many of those new as well, thanks to one generous donation from a fellow FRUA-ite) and a nice supply of baby lotions, shampoo etc. There has even been enough donation to pay for much of the freight which I expected to pay for myself. I'm thankful for that, as I didn't expect so much stuff to ship! The boxes are quickly taking over a corner of my bedroom. I simply hope that once the stuff arrives at the baby house it's allocated to the kids and doesn't end up at the open market instead. I have heard from others that the director there is honest so I can only hope that the kids actually get the stuff.

For anyone who doesn't know me I'm a voracious reader and generally read a couple of books a week on average. I can't say I read anything of substance usually, as I read for pleasure and who really wants to read a history of the Roman empire ( unless you need to fall asleep) However I came across a book in the non-fiction section of the library no less, that is pretty remarkable. Until I fell into the world of eastern European adoption I never paid heed to any politics there, however now they certainly catch my attention. The book THE ANGEL OF GROZNY -Orphans of a Forgotten War by Asne Seierstad caught my attention. The book is very eye opening with regards to the atrocities that occured during the conflict in Chechnya that occured in the mid 90's and then again around 2000. The "Angel" in the book is a lady who quite by chance ended up taking in numerous orphans of the war though it doesn't focus solely on her. It really made me think about how Russia behaves and their current saber rattling in regards to Georgia and makes me fear for Ukraine more than before. I'm not a foreign policy expert by any means but when a presidential candidate ( John McCain) brings up the threat of Russia to Ukraine during a presidential debate you can bet it's very real. This book brought to life that while the Soviet Union we all grew up to loath may be dead, it's leaders still are not and their tactics of torture and kidknapping are very much alive and well. I'm not nieve, I know that Ukraine is not going to win a prize for government morality, however I WANT to believe that they are a young country that will eventually work out the kinks, whereas Russia tends to be backsliding to their Soviet Union days.

Well, it's getting late and it appears that I've rambled enough as I can't come up with a topic for a new paragraph. Aren't you proud of me for getting new pictures up though? Hopefully a new post to follow soon as Igor's six month anniversary home is on the 15th.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Just a little project..

If anyone is still reading this I suppose I should put a little update here. I'm heading up a toy drive for the baby house that Igor lived in. I've had quite a good response from people already so I'm expecting quite a load of stuff to ship. If your interested let me know either by leaving a comment or e-mailing me if you have the address.

Igor is still doing really good, he's an amazing little kid. The food issues are quietly resolving theirselves which I'm very thankful for. I was getting very frustrated with his eating, however he now seems to be getting the hang of chewing and swallowing. His speech therapist was very impressed with his progress this last visit so we have changed his therapy from every two weeks to once a month. We could have discontinued but I have a feeling it will be one step forward, one step back for a while and would like to have the backup. He's also really starting to eat amounts that are more consistent for his size and age as well. I think we are up to 26 lbs now - I'm not sure our bathroom scale stinks - ( I have promised to buy a new one next trip to wal-mart) and I'm sure we've grown and inch or two as well since clothes that fit the first of the summer are now too little. An outfit I bought for fall will not even fit him- he never even wore it! That will teach me to buy ahead for this guy. Luckily I've hung on to all the clothes for Sonny Boy and only have to buy a few things according to weather - like snow pants, Sonny Boy didn't have snow pants in a small size and possibly boots so I won't be spending a fortune on a new wardrobe every three months.

Igor's birthday was Thursday. We didn't celebrate or open his presents yet as my mother is coming to visit in a couple of weeks, it will be her birthday then as well and we can have one birthday party for both. I know we should had a special day for him as it was his first birthday home, but our family is not a big birthday celbration kind of group. Cards for the grown-ups and the kids get a few toys and a cake. We'll do birthday parties every year or two, those things get expensive fast.

Fall made an early appearance this year and arrived the Tues after labor day, it has warmed up since but that first cool snap made us really realize that summer is over. Soon the raking of the lawn will start. Ugh! nothing like having over 20 mature maples in your yard come fall, makes you want to run amok with a chain saw! The cool snap and an Oriental Trading Co catalog set Sonny Boy to thinking of Halloween costumes. He has decided to be a robot. I think I've got a cheap idea with dryer vent hose, cardboard boxes and silver spray paint. Poor little Igor has no say, he's donning Sonny Boy's old lion costume that's been hanging in the basement for a few years now.

That's the scoop here.

Friday, August 22, 2008

MOM!!!! MOM!!!! MOM!!!!

This is what I woke up to the other morning. It's a wonderful feeling to know Igor is getting more and more comfortable and doesn't wake up screaming bloody murder and scaring us out our skin anymore. The downside of this is he now stands beside me all day and yells " MOM MOM MOM" for no apparent reason other than that he can now call me by a name. I do wish it would vary to Mama or Mommy occasionally though, he picked up the Mom thing from Sonny Boy I'm sure. He's also saying a handful of other words as well. Not too shabby for a kid who wasn't even speaking his native tongue four months ago. I knew there was a bright light in there somewhere.

Honestly I have to say I've been impressed by how easily he's fit into our family. I know we may just be having a honeymoon, however I don't think a kid this young can do that. Truely the only issue that has arisen is his eating problems which we are addressing through speech therapy. The issues are truly frustrating and I feel I spend huge amounts of time in front of the high chair exagerating my chewing motions and gulping to get food to go down. I also have a little rubber brush we rub around in his mouth when we want to make him really pissed off!

Sonny Boy told me the other day he wanted me to go back to Ukraine and get him a little sister. After a little more conversation it turned out he simply wanted to go stay at his aunt's house for an extended period of time. Nothing like three boy cousins, a new jungle gym and sandbox, a lake at the back door and a playroom that resembles Toys R Us to make home boring and dull.

Summer is drawing to a close of course and next week we go for open house at Sonny Boy's pre-school. It will be old hat as he has the same teacher as last year. Sonny Boy is now admitting that he's disappointed not to be attending kindergarten this year, however I still think we made the right decision holding him back.

Well it appears I'm having some computer problems so I better cut this short. I'm going to try for a picture-- or not.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A new feature

Just playing around and thought a spiffy slide show of our trip to Ukraine would jazz up the blog a bit. Of course these are only a fraction of the pictures taken on the trip but I thought it a pretty good snapshot of the sights.

Strangely I'm missing all the stress associated with getting ready and worrying about the trip. I know that's bizarre but it's been the forefront of my life for the last year. It seems I always need some huge event to stress over or I'm not content.

Now my sleepless nights are filled with worry of what will happen if something happens to Hubby or the kids and all the bizarre thoughts of terror that you'll loose someone you love.

I suppose I need to find some sort of hobby. I did sell one of Sonny Boy's toys on Ebay the other day. I was thrilled, it's the first thing I sold on Ebay. I bought the thing a couple of years ago when he was in a huge Calliou phase, lately it's just been beating around the toy box so I dug out all the pieces and listed it. The thing sold for DOUBLE what I paid for it! I keep wondering what else might I list, and should I start haunting yard sales for treasures.

Well that's about it, we leave for our marathon road trip tomorrow and I'm sure that's going to be an adventure. I plan on taking sound protecting earmuffs to dampen out the racket from the back of the van. The library also lends MP3 books and players so I may stick those ear plugs in under the headphones as well. We'll drive at night and hope the kids sleep but you know how the saying goes.

winnie

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Birthdays and Baby Stuff

Well we have survived the "Birthday Season" again this year. Sonny Boy and Hubby's birthday's are only a week apart so we end up with WAY too much cake. Sonny Boy opted for cupcakes for his birthday so quite a few went to work with Hubby so that thankfully cleared out room for a cake a week later. Both birthdays were quiet affairs. Sonny Boy had cupcakes and opened a few presents, Hubby opened his one present and had cake. Sonny Boy did manage to wrangle his dad into a trip to Chuck E. Cheese though, luckily I got to miss all that fun and went to the mall with Igor.

Baby Stuff you ask? Well since Igor is not technically an infant I decided to empty the basement of our little baby stuff. While in the process of this I asked Hubby's co-worker who is a pack rat to the extreme if he wanted to put things in. Well he did, about 10 boxes of little girl clothes sizes newborn to 6! I had a yard sale about 2 weeks ago and very little actually sold, most likely because things were not organized very well and it was difficult to dig through all of those clothes. I've been digging through them in the meantime and carried the nicer winter things to a local children's consignment store and hoarding all the clothes hangers I can get my hands on to hang the rest. Next Saturday I plan on dragging all the stuff back out to the yard and hope more sells. If it doesn't I'm just going to take all of it to the local charity. I would normally just dump it at the charity, however for doing this for the pack rat I get half so I'm being a little greedy. I'm also picking out stuff for my niece and things that I think my be worth shipping to the baby house when I get a package together for them. So I'm getting first pick on the stuff, not that I have much use for newborn dresses but it makes me want a little girl in a bad way.

All in all things are going very well here. Igor still amazes me with his ability to fit right in. The temper tantrums are slowing down he seems very content. His head banging has seemed to stop entirely. He is still very clingy to me, more so than Sonny Boy every was but he's getting better, and I'm now able to set him in crib for a few minutes while I go pottie or change clothes without it sounding like I'm killing him. Bedtime has gotten easier as well and he will often let us walk out of the room while he's still awake and he'll babble and play himself to sleep. He's a resislant little guy. I may be speaking too soon yet but so far so good.

I can honestly say we are into a boring routine now for out lives but it's good. The true test will soon come when we travel to northern MN in a couple of weeks to let Igor meet the family. It's sure to be a production as he has 4 first cousins, a couple of Grandmas ( though one grandma came to Ukraine to bring him home) Aunts, Uncles and whole range of people to meet and greet not to mention an 10 hour car ride and new sleeping surrounding so I'm sure we'll get a glimpse of not so happy Igor occasionally.

Well not much news to pass on, it's finally quiet here for the day so I'm going to lie on the couch and try to talk Hubby into changing channels from Extreme Cage Fighting.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I can't think of a good title

Last weekend a friend gave us the use of his cabin in the UP of MI ( thanks Mr & Mrs S) the weather Sat was nice but in typical midwestern fashion we were sporting sweatshirts and shorts on Sunday and it was too cold to be on the lake so we went to a nearby nature preserve and went on an easy hike. The hike was near two beautiful clear lakes and we saw tons of wild life, 3 deer, piliated woodpeckers, loons and we got very close to a beaver that was lumbering around on shore. Strangely there were few people in the preserve so I suppose it was luck to see all the animals.

Tomorrow is my oldest's birthday. Sonny Boy will be five years old. My how time flies! I can't believe it's been that long, it seems yesterday I was drugged up and being handed my new baby boy. Sonny Boy is excited for his birthday as all kids are, however we are not doing anything fantastic. We opted out a party this year (yeah) so we just open his gifts and eat cake and probably do something extra fun over the weekend.

Igor is doing well and I believe still gaining weight. I'm anxious to get him on a good scale to see what it says. He is finally starting to eat normal amounts of food at a setting, though he still has some trouble with texture. I do see he's making progress, I think it's going to be a while though before he's eating age appropriately.

I've been taking both boys to the pool most days now as it tends to expend some of Sonny Boy's neverending energy. Sonny Boy swimming is very close now, I'm hoping lots of time in the pool he will catch on soon. Igor just today figured out that the pool is fun, previously he just wanted to circle it and fall down and skin his knees up.

I've finally started to adjust to the household craziness. There are days where I'm ready to start drinking margaritas at noon, however things are settling into a routine now. The thing that drives me the most insane is that getting housework done is near impossible. Igor takes way too short of nap and by the time I get him down at bedtime I'm too tired to care if the kitchen floor is mopped or we have clean clothes. Doing anything while he's up is near impossible as he's a climber and explorer first rate. Leaving the room means your lible to come back to disaster and doing something as simple as folding a load of clothes while he wanders around can take twice as long as it should since he's exploring and unfolding as you go.

Not much new here to report, I just thought I'd give those of you that are still visiting something to read.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Before and after - home 12 weeks

Before
After
Nothing like a few hundred calories poked down your throat daily and some multivitamins!!





Tuesday, June 24, 2008

We are surviving!!

and possibly even thriving a little. Last week I took Igor into the doc and he had gained a pound and a half. It doesn't sound like much but it's alot when you started at 19 lbs or so. The docs were thrilled. We still have some bowel issues that come and go, we haven't figured out what it all is. So far we've ruled out celiac, lactose intolerance and parasites. The scariest one is that the GI doc wants to have him tested for cystic fibrosis. My logical brain tells me to settle down, he's ruling things out, however something like that never crossed my mind.

Sleeping through the night is getting better. Most nights he is only waking once now and usually just a word from us lying in our bed settles him so we don't even have to get up. However I wish naps would improve. Naps are still iffy and way to short so we have a very tired boy by suppertime.

The eating issues are about the same. Chewing seems to be harder than algebra for him, we do have speech therapy through 0-3 coming, she gave some suggestions but I've seen minimal improvement with those and doing it really just ticks Igor off to no end. The therapist comes again tomorrow though, so maybe we'll get some more tricks.

We took the kids camping this last weekend. It was a show to say the least. Igor handled it well all things considering and really liked playing in the dirt. It was a last minute trip for only one night but it was "getting away" for a little while and mom and dad got to sit around the fire and drink beer for a bit which doesn't seem to get done at home for some reason. We have promised Sonny Boy a camping trip for his birthday and that we'd take a friend of his along so it was something of a trial run for that. However for the birthday trip we will stay closer to home and I don't think I'll spend the night, I'll leave it for Hubby and Sonny Boy.

I hope to post a few pics soon, however you know how it is. The workload does more than double with two kids, it quadruples.

Winnie

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Just a little update

Not a whole lot here. We are starting to settle into a routine of sorts though so that's a relief. Igor is now napping at least briefly daily and bedtime has become much easier. He still wakes in the night several times for no apparent reason. The only conclusion we've come up with is nightmares as he's usually very upset and sometime wringing wet with sweat. I hope the dreaming starts settling down as getting up several times a night is wearing on both of us. Luckily Sonny Boy sleeps like a log and never wakes up, but Igor does wake the dog on occasion.

Sitting at the kitchen table and bribing, begging and making airplane sounds has become my new pass time. ANYTHING to get him to eat. We have figured out he'll do anything for a banana so we make him take a bite of food then give him a little chunk of banana. It works sometimes. We do have some issues with texture as they must have never given him anything with chunks of any kind in the orphanage. Currently we have him mostly eating the 3rd foods baby foods, a few of the toddler foods and maybe sometimes a spoonful of whatever we eat. What I don't understand though is even the table food that we feed him that's soft is often refused. I've also seen him gag on chunky applesauce. Thankfully the speech therapy starts next week. I hope she has some ideas and a plan. I did find on the internet a product called Benecalorie that's low volume/ high calorie supplement that you ad to food. It's pretty oily looking but one little container 1.5 oz has 330 calories so we try to get one of those down him a day. We've also been keeping a diary and totalling his calorie intake daily. It's anal but he's so skinny you can see every rib and every knot on his backbone. There's so little body fat there he get's seriously chilled when taken out of the bathtub. Hopefully we can pack a few pounds on him quickly, our bathroom scale says he's gained a pound but it's not the most accurate. I do know his little belly sticks out like he drinks a six pack of beer or so daily now.

This week I made the hard decision not to send Sonny Boy on to kindergarten in the fall. His birthday is in July so it puts him on the young side of his classmates, not to mention I think he needs more time to mature on the social level. I do worry though as I think when he does enter K he'll be bored and be a trouble maker as he's smart as a whip, knows all the letters, counting etc and has even started trying to sound out words. I've discussed it with his preschool teachers and a girl I met this last weekend that is a kindergarten teacher and all seem to think it prudent. Hubby was also pressing for it as well. Sonny Boy wasn't too heartbroken about the whole thing which I'm glad because I thought he was really looking forward to going to big school. I think I'm the only upset as I wanted the free time while he was at school.

Hubby and I are hanging on and exhaustion is our middle names now. Along with not having a full nights sleep in weeks we've taken on our first house project in months and worked the memorial weekend event our civic group puts on. At least one of us was at the fest all weekend and the other with the boys. The house project is now in full swing as I finally convinced Hubby to purchase new bedroom furniture. Since we are finally getting new furniture we are going to put some wiring in our bedroom ( it's an old house with not enough plug ins) hang a ceiling fan, paint etc. Hopefully all before the new furniture is delivered. So today we empytied our dressers and started hauling down the old furniture. It's so pitiful we won't even donate it and have just busted it up for the garbage man to haul away. I'm excited to get a grown up bedroom finally, however I wish one of those designing shows would show up and finish the work. In the meantime we living out of cardboard boxes and will sleep in the guest bedroom. The bad part to the guest room thing is that it's downstairs and Igor is upstairs. Nothing like a groggy climb of stairs a few times a night too.

Well I've rambled enough. Hubby is watching Lost which is my favorite show, however I got LOST when we went to Ukraine and never watched the back episodes and now I don't want to spoil it. I guess I'll either watch it on the net ( yeah like I'll find time for that) or hope the reruns are played in order this summer.

Thanks for the posts!
Winnie

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Home One Month Now!!


Wow! I can't believe we've been home a month now. Time has flown, I wish it had gone by this quickly while we were in Ukraine.

Igor is adjusting pretty smoothly though he has some separation anxiety that gets pretty annoying at times - like when I have to go to the bathroom. Generally he's a happy little guy. As you can see from the picture he now sports some cool new glasses. On the rounds of MD's we've been doing the last month, one was to the opthamologist, because we thought a round of surgery was going to be needed for crossed/lazy eyes. However all the crossing was just his best effort at trying to focus his eyes since it appears the poor guy was seriously nearsighted. Since getting the glasses I haven't seen his eyes look crossed yet. Generally he seems to like them however they are the first things flying when he has a temper tantrum. I'm glad they are made out of super heavy duty plastic and are super tough even if they don't rank on the style meter at all. The funniest is the reactions from people when we are out, you'd think he had horns growing out of his head. Kids usually say " Look at that baby with the glasses" and adults ask if they are "real" glasses. Come on, do you really think a toddler would think those glasses with a strap around your head are cool. They are seriously lacking sparkles, Dora, Diego, Teletubbies or Elmo, of course they are real.

Pinning down a routine around here has been difficult to say the least. Naps are either way too short after a lot of begging to go to sleep or non-existent. The last couple of days have been better though so hopefully it's the start of a trend.

After some lab work and experimenting we've come to the conclusion that Igor is lactose intolerant. It does make trying to pack on the pounds somewhat difficult as all the good for you to gain lots of weight foods are full of milk. He also seems to have this built in calorie counter during the day, Igor will eat well up until around 4:00 pm or so and then absolutely refuse to eat any supper. I've tried no afternoon snack, light snacks etc nothing seems to keep him eating in the evening. I pretty sure he hasn't actually eaten what we've eaten for dinner yet. Hopefully this trend will turn around soon as well as it's difficult to watch him not eat a bite of supper at all.

I suppose that's all there is to tell. We are settling in now and starting to adjust. I know my post have been sparse lately. If anyone is even still reading this! I'll try to do better in the future.

Winnie

Monday, April 21, 2008

Home- almost a week

Things are transistioning somewhat smoothly. Igor is adjusting fantastically and seems to be enjoying himself tremendously having a big brother who gives him way more attention than I can. We do have a few sleeping issues but nothing terrible just adjustment to a new room and place and all the new noises. He's a light sleeper and we have creaky old floors so everytime we walk by his bedrooom it wakes him up and he upset so he seems a little tired all the time. We have tried to cover the household noise with a loud fan that runs in the hallway which has helped some. Hopefully as he becomes more comfortable he'll sleep more soundly. We are also having typical adjustment issues with food - we don't serve a lot of borsht in our household - but he's adjusting. I'm doing my best to cram tons of calories and protein into him everytime he eats which I aim as every 2-3 hours. I was actually reading labels and comparing which items had the most calories and buying the ones that are fattiest etc at the store - backwards to the way I typically shop. I imagine I'll gain the 15 lbs I lost in Ukraine right back with all the fat floating in the house.

The biggest fear Igor displays is of the dog. Poor pup is so confused because she just can't understand why everytime she gets within 10 feet of him he starts screaming and she gets thrown outdoors. He'll adjust in time I'm sure as soon as he realizes she's totally harmless, I'm sure it's scary for Igor though as she looks him right in the eye and outweighs him by a good 50 lbs or so. Hopefully seeing the way Sonny Boy wrestles and abuses the dog and her absolute submission to him will help.

Hubby and I adjusting as well. Not sleeping through the night and the constant attention that a little one needs as we had gotten used to Sonny Boy's relative independence does take some time to get used to. It's a learning curve for all of us.

Sonny Boy is somewhat jealous, however we've been doing our best to give him extra attention and special privlages. He has a hard time understanding when Igor is acting out orphanage issues - a little head banging - and fear of the dog but now has enough understanding when we explain reasons to get it so that's been very helpful.

On Thursday I took Igor to our local pediatrician for a quick going over and to have bloodwork drawn as we have an appointment this Thursday with an International Adoption clinic and they said it would be helpful to have some lab work at that appointment. The Dr. visit was pretty traumatic, but not as bad as the blood draw. The ladies in the lab were very understanding and used a spray to numb his arms and held him as the blood was drawn and then let me comfort him. I didn't want Igor to associate me with that pain and fear. They had to draw quite a bit of blood and I had taken in a stool sample too, hopefully that will be all the labwork we have to do for a while. The Dr. pronounced him healthy for the most part but very tiny - which we knew - I think he's going to defer to the IA clinic for any major pronouncements on health though. He did mention PT, OT and Speech Therapy which I know we will be needing.

The last few days in Ukraine went pretty smoothly, we had no issues getting passports and birth certificates and no problems processing through the Embassy. The last three days in country MIL and I played tourist and bought a few trinkets, visited St. Sophia's, and the Lavra. I still haven't downloaded the last of the pictures but I'll post a few when I have some time. ( like that's gonna happen)

Well, that's all for now, as for now, know that we are busy and adjusting. I'll try to post more in the next few days.

Winnie

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

WE ARE HOME!!!

We landed at O'Hare around 4:30 pm yesterday. After a grueling day of flying and having documents checked everytime we went through a line we got home. Igor was a gem with only a few minor meltdowns which can be expected at his age.

Sonny Boy has grown four inches I swear and gained 10 pounds. The dog is also quite big now and didn't remember me when we got into the yard so she barked at me and then peed everywhere ( she's in a stranger anxiety phase)

Thanks for everyone's postings, I didn't know I was getting so many peeks. I'll post more in the next few days as I'm at the exhausted level today and just trying to find my car keys and toothbrush have been trying experiences, not mention a jet lagged and scared toddler to deal with.

Winnie

Friday, April 11, 2008

Update from the US

Hello all. As of Friday, April 11 "I" has become "E". All paperwork is completed with the Ukraine government as well as the US Embassy. "E" has joined his new mom and grandma as they rode the overnight train to Kiev to prepare for their flight home.

The court documents were made official April 7. The birth certificates and passports were obtained by end of day April 8. Overnight train to Kiev April 9-10. US Embassy documents started April 10 and finalized April 11, including the physical exam.

Airline tickets were guessed earlier at a return date of April 15. Mom and grandma decided to wait and not change tickets since the weather is great, "E" is extremely happy and content, and they want to visit the sites in Kiev. I think they are just enjoying the inexpensive local champagne which is very enjoyable! 3 weeks in country was enough for me, but I guess an apartment with a washing machine has given new life to mom.

Thanks to all for your support and kind comments during our journey. Sorry I didn't update until today, I just got instructions over the phone on how to do it. "E's" new mom can do this much faster than I and she will probably have more to add when she gets stateside.
Take care,
"E's" dad.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Probably last post for a bit.

These are Igor's favorite toy, He stacks them all the way up his arm and refuses to take them off. When the end of visit it is over it's usually a screaming match to put them away as I can't leave them with him or they will disappear into the orphanage.



Well today is the last official day of waiting. I could pick up the court decree and start the final running however it’s Sunday so I’m stuck waiting till tomorrow. My translator and mother-in-law will be town tomorrow around noon barring any unforeseen problems and we will start the mad race to the finish line, which is the American Embassy to get Igor’s Visa. This may be my last post for a while as I don’t know how much down time I’ll have in the next few days with the list of running that will be happening and the trek that is required to find an internet connection. Possibly Hubby can update the blog from home and keep everyone informed.

Today I attended services at the red Orthodox church (see previous posting for picture) with one of the other American couples. He was raised Russian orthodox so he filled me on what was happening. It was an interesting service. The music was beautiful and the church is heavily decorated on the inside with angels, saints, sinners, and of course Jesus and Mary. It’s a far cry from the southern Baptist church I was raised in and the non-denominational church we attend now. I couldn’t help but wonder what the congregation would have thought about the band and contemporary music at our current church. Probably the oddest thing about the whole service was the amount of milling around during the service. There are no pews in the church – something about being impolite to sit in the presence of God- so everyone stands, but that isn’t the odd part, people tending to be coming and going throughout the whole service as if just making a brief appearance was enough for the week. There was also quite a bit of kneeling and crossing and I worried that some of the little old ladies were not going to make it up off the floor. I’m glad I got the opportunity to attend. I wouldn’t have gone on my own but it was interesting to see a church service in the predominant religion of the country. I also thought it was important as Igor was baptized while still in the hospital by the Orthodox Church. We were given a little gold cross wrapped in a piece of notebook paper that said it was to be sent to him at the orphanage here. Technically he can receive communion in the church I suppose.

Things are basically the same here as boredom rules the day. The orphanage is so crowded during visiting times that it’s pretty unpleasant to go and visit. Not that it was ever a happy fizzy party to begin with, but at least you could play. Now there’s always somebody fussing if you let the kids sit on the floor – why I don’t know- get dirty outside- feed them yogurt etc etc etc. I’m just trying to bide my time now as things are nearing the end.

Last night there was a wedding party staying in the hotel. We saw them leaving as we came back from dinner and around 11:00 pm or so I heard singing in front of the hotel – not a drunken song but something rather nice – I assumed that they were singing bride and groom off to bed – poor couple spending their wedding night in this dump. It wasn’t long after that I could hear people pouring into their rooms and settling in for the night.

So long for now, it’s about time for the evening visit with Igor then I will walk the few blocks to the internet to post this and check e-mails. I’ll probably eat at the Flower café tonight as the food is good, cheap and I feel comfortable there alone. I’ve been eating with the other couples hear most nights however I don’t want to wear out my welcome with them. The Flower Café’s (I don’t know the real name, there’s just a big flower on the building) owner also speaks fair English so communication isn’t as iffy there as other places and they’ve translated the menu for the recent influx of Americans.

If there’s time, I’ll get a post up with the progress of the second stage of paper chasing, however if there’s nothing new assume no news is good news.

winnie

Friday, April 4, 2008

And the days drag on and on and on and on and on...

The days are blur and we are continually asking each other what day of the week it is as there is really no distinction to us other than the faces change at the orphanage as people rotate in their work schedule. At least at home you have the variety of different TV shows, different work schedules and other weekly things to help keep your calendar in order.

The saga of the playroom continues today as it appears that the last ones out did not clean up behind themselves or something managed to get torn up. We are not sure what the exact situation is but it appears punishment is being doled out to the international couples as we were not allowed into the playroom this pm even though therapy was not in session. I called my translator and she found out the above info, she is going to talk to them again tomorrow and see how we might correct the situation. Things are terribly crowded here as three of the five couples in process have brought their older children along as well, and they are typical kids that have been cooped up too long. The weather is also not cooperative as it’s rainy and rather cool to be outside or we’d just go out.

I’m rather peeved at the playroom situation as I was hoping to use this time for Igor to get more comfortable with me so when he does leave the orphanage it’s not so traumatic for him. However it’s very hard to get a toddler’s attention when there are three young boys running about, five kids from the orphanage (three of these are in his groupa) and ten adults. I don’t really expect any real bonding to occur at this time, I just want him to feel comfortable with me. Maybe my translator can work something out tomorrow. If not I feel the length of my visits are going to shorten dramatically as I can’t take all the chaos. I’m super glad there are just a few more days to go before we can actually tuck him under an arm and run.

Our official court decree goes into effect on Sunday. However we will leave him at the orphanage a couple of more days while we get birth certificates and passports. My translator's plan is to grab him and run for the train. I can see her point as it's less moving around. Also since we are staying in a TINY hotel room there isn't much room for a little guy nor facilities to deal with him like cribs etc. Hopefully we will be able to run with him soon as I've had enough of the crazy orphanage rules. ( that's a whole 'nother post)

winnie

Thursday, April 3, 2008

I spoke with Hubby early this morning and he made it home safe and sound, if not a little aggravated as a couple of different routes home from the airport were flooded (it always seems to flood in that area this time of year) and he had to take detours.

Hubby did have an interesting experience while killing time in his Kiev hotel room on Monday. He was watching out the window and saw several military vehicles pull up and special forces guys pile out and start moving around the neighborhood so he thought “ this is better than TV in Ukrainian” so he pulled a chair on his balcony and started watching the show as several more security forces entered the area and started spreading out. Pretty soon he noticed one guy watching him and then a few more. It wasn’t too long before he heard a banging on the door and he answered it and there was a Ukrainian military or police official there. Hubby gingerly opened his coat in order to show he wasn’t a threat and handed him his passport, the guy didn’t want it (probably already knew everything there was to know about him already) and just told him “ No Balcony, George Bush Condoleeza Rice, No Balcony” so Hubby said sure. The guy left and Hubby turned off his room lights and peeked through the curtains and watched the presidential motorcade go by. We just can’t get away from presidential motorcades as we have both been run off the road by a president when we lived in Little Rock when Clinton was in office. You’d think in Ukraine we’d be safe from that anyway.

This orphanage here is doing a brisk business lately, they must have turned in tons of kids all at one time to the national registry. Since we’ve been here we’ve seen a Ukrainian couple and a Spanish couple leave, three American couples (ourselves included) have court and start the 10 day wait. There is a Ukrainian couple in process, and a new Spanish couple showed up today. The playroom is overflowing in the afternoons and it’s difficult to play as three couples have brought along older children as well. Mornings are somewhat less crowded as the Ukrainian couple only comes in the afternoon and not everyday as they have to drive some distance, however we are usually not allowed to use the big therapy playroom as they have physical therapy sessions going in the a.m. The director has tried to stagger our visitation times but we overlap quite a bit. Ugh I’ll be so glad when this “visiting” my own son is over.

From what I gather when our translator visits with the Ukrainian couples it’s quite a process for them to adopt as well. The first couple that left had been visiting their boy for almost four months while things worked through the process. The couple that’s in process right now are really only starting to get rolling and have quite a ways to go. Now I don’t know if the four months includes completing some sort of home study and background checks etc but if it doesn’t I can imagine they get rather aggravated at us rolling in and doing it in about a month. I will say the children the two couples adopted are beautiful and look perfectly healthy and are normal size, where the children the international group is adopting are very small for their age.

A funny Sonny Boy-ism Hubby reported to me this morning. “ I miss my little brother so much!” Nice sentiment, however I don’t know that you can miss someone you’ve never met. No word on missing Mommy and Daddy though.

Well I had contemplated going to the internet again tonight as I thought I might get a reply from Hubby, however it’s raining now and dark so I’m either going to dive into the stash of movies (thanks GS) or try to find someway to read. I’ll post this tomorrow on my afternoon hike.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

the wait continues

Hubby called early on Monday morning to inform me that he had missed his flight. The flight had been changed to a 6:45 am flight and we thought it was 11:45. He got it straightened out but ended up staying another day in Kiev than had not been planned. Thankfully we didn’t have to pay another change fee on things as everything is picking us apart one grivna at a time. I’ve left instructions for him to call me when he gets home however his flight isn’t due to land for another hour yet and it’s already midnight here, I suppose he’ll wake me up but I don’t care as we haven’t had a conversation since Sat when he left for the train.

It’s not terrible being here alone however the evenings drag out very long since there’s no TV and little to do. I brought a few books but honestly they don’t interest me much and there’s nowhere comfortable to read in this room, I had also brought a cross stitch kit along as that eats lots of time but the lack of lighting in here is horrendous unless it’s 5:00 am and your trying to sleep. I don’t think there is a blind in this hotel, just sheers. Someone needs to introduce them to the wonders of blackout curtains at least. I’ve thought about taping up some tin foil to tell the truth.

I’m homesick but it’s for the little things that shouldn’t really matter. Sure I miss Sonny Boy, and now Hubby, but I miss the little luxuries that are home. In random order:

Internet access, a hundred times a day I think “ I can look that up quick” but quick is an 8 block walk to a computer gaming place full of smelly teenage boys.
A bathtub that my legs can stretch out in – I’m only 5’1” so you can imagine the size of this tub.
A fitted sheet on my bed – Is there an elastic shortage here? If I can’t have a fitted sheet can I at least have one that is big enough to tuck under the mattress?
Charmin toilet paper – I bought the most expensive I could find and it’s still pretty bad. Not as bad however as the brown stuff that the hotel supplies, Hubby had remarked he thought he’d get paper cuts from it.
The food – While not horrible is all starting to taste the same at all the restaurants no matter what you tend to order, when you can get your point across to the waitress who is dumfounded to have a customer that doesn’t speak Russian.
Being able to read – A sign, a document you’re told to sign, a receipt from the grocery store, labels at the store, I’m sure there are better food choices they are just in packaging without pictures.
Lack of TV – Nothing like being able to turn on the boob tube and turn off your brain for a while. There’s TV here but in Ukrainian and Russian so It might as well not be here as it takes up space we could use.
Living in a news vacuum – On a daily basis now the Americans in the orphanage get together and compare notes on the headlines we saw on the internet or heard from family back home. I’m not a news junkie by an any means but I try to watch a t least a little everyday. If nothing else to have a hint at what the weather might do, here I look out the window and occasionally open it to determine what I should wear for the day.
Living in he chaos of a tiny hotel room, there’s really no where to put things away so I always feel like I’m searching for this that or the other. Though the clutter has decreased with Hubby leaving, however it will increase again next week with my MIL ‘s stuff.

Well I’m just whining I guess, things could be worse. The other Americans are nice and I’ve been out to eat diner with them a few times, which kills some hours in the evening. They do have their young son with so they retire early and I’m a night owl to say the least so after dinner they’re tucking their kid into bed and I’m starting to look for entertainment.

I want to thank those posting comments on the blog, I do read them but I haven’t really had time to respond to them individually as I write the blog in the hotel and then cut and paste when I get to the internet gaming place so save time. The internet joint lacks a lot to be desired beyond a DSL cable, and I have to pay by the hour to use it. Grant it, it’s not much, about a $1.00 and hour but just trying to answer e-mails, this blog etc keep me buys for the hour or so I’m there. Your support is appreciated though.

Wells it’s officially late, I’m rambling on here and should really crawl in bed to be awakened in a few hours by Hubby arriving home. He has a to-do list as long as his arm of course when he gets there so I hope he was able to sleep on the plane some so he’s not so exhausted.

Winnie

Sunday, March 30, 2008

just a post- not worth a title

Another pic of the little guy, you'd think we were in Siberia with all the bundling but I think it was near 65 degree F this day.



Well, Hubby and our translator got on the train last night to head to Kiev. I haven’t heard from him yet but I don’t imagine there were any problems. I wonder if he’s going to face increased security as I heard that G.W. Bush is going to be in Kiev next week. I hope it doesn’t delay him at the Embassy as he has a small time window to make it to the airport.

I have now discovered that in Ukraine never wait until most of your laundry is dirty to do it. I really knew this but kept putting it off last week due to lots of running around doing paperwork etc. Not only is my little clothesline FULL of dripping clothes I’m hoping that my underwear dry in time for tomorrow! That’s just my clothes as Hubby took all of his clothes home with him. I don’t know where we would have put his wet clothes as well. I’d really love to use the clothesline I see in the backyard of the hotel, however there is a large dog back there that wants to rip anyone’s head off that goes near the back gate. The dog is chained and I don’t think he gets to the clothesline area I just really don’t want to chance being eaten by that animal. I sure missed Hubby around to help me with the wringing out part last night as wringing out a pair of jeans is quite a feat that needs a man’s muscles. I don’t know how our great grandmothers did it without a washing machine and kids etc. Ugh!

There is little to report here as one day blends into another so I’ll make this short and sweet today.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Here he is!!!



Here he is! This isn't the best picture. Don't you like the belly shirt?

As I posted the other day we had court on Wed and are now waiting out the 10 day wait. Hubby leaves tomorrow to start working his way out of the country with a stop at the Embassy early on Monday before his plane leaves. Our original plan was for me to go home for the 10 day wait, however doing the math it’s been determined it’s cheaper for me to stay, and leaving “I” now didn’t really seem the option that it was before. Also having two other American couples and the Spanish couple (who speak better English than my Sesame Street Spanish) here in the hotel and running the same schedule makes me feel more secure.

“I” which I now reveal stands for Igor is our son’s birth name. Don’t worry we have changed it to a more American name as I can imagine the teasing. Honestly Igor with a Russian accent sounds more appealing than the way we say it, and is a somewhat common name here but a little old fashioned I’m told. You may not know but it’s very common for people to have many nicknames and Igor’s nickname in the orphanage is “Igorrushka” We left the U.S. with the plan to just Americanize the spelling / pronunciation of #2’s name and leave it, however when faced with a name that conjures up hump back bell ringers and Dr. Frankenstein’s assistant we simply pulled out names we liked. Igor’s new name sounds something like Igor but will be much more acceptable in the U.S. Here on the blog I will call him Igor, as I don’t like putting our real names out there. If you know us and have our e-mail address and can’t stand the suspense of the new name e-mail me and I’ll let you know.

The skinny little waif we first met is starting to get a little rounder in the face as we feed him tons, plus he eats whatever orphanage grub he’s given. I would even go so far as to say his skinny little waist is starting to get the stick out baby tummy you associate with toddlers. Igor is also opening up more and playing well and what little bonding you can do with him during visits is going very well as today he fed Hubby and I his cookie. A major step for a kid who is orphanage raised. While it’s good news Igor fed us his cookie, it’s also a little gross as this is the same cookie he’d carried around for about 15 minutes or so, dropped a few times, stuck in his mouth some and generally was really gross with before he fed it to us. Today Hubby suggested we sew a cookie pocket on all of his shirts so he can carry the cookie around but have his hands free.

Hubby had an interesting observation, he’s aviation minded now, I’ll remind you, but you never hear or see airplanes where we are. No small planes, no contrails in the sky no signs that the Wright brothers ever existed.

I find it odd that I can almost immediately identify every flower bud as it comes out the ground. I’m not that great botanically, however you’d think something different would grow here flower bulb wise however I simply see tulips, iris and something I think is Lily of the Valley coming up. There are quite a few flowers planted here which I’m sure improves the appearance tremendously as now things are fairly brown and muddy. Strangely I don’t see many daffodils up. The forsythia will bloom in a couple of days as they are right on the cusp, however I hope that’s the only thing I see blooming here.

I guess there is such a surge of American’s in town it has prompted a nearby café’s to translate a menu. This has been great as we can go in without stress about what we are eating and just point at what we want.

Well I’m rambling, I promise to post a picture of Igor soon, however getting to the internet and pictures etc etc has been a real pain in the rear. Plus I’d like to find one he’s not dressed in girl’s clothing.

Friday, March 28, 2008

We've had court!!

It's been a run around the last few days, however we are now official parents. We had court on Wed and all went smoothly. I will post pics later, however I'm stuck using the gaming place computer so this will be short.

Hubby is leaving tomorrow to head back to the U.S. and I'm staying here for the 10 day wait to be joined by my mother-in-law next weekend.

No more big news and I promise a longer post soon, however I need to use my laptop to do it.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

More of the same...

Ever see the movie Groundhog Day? Well that's us, nothing new to report. The weather has gotten a little warmer so we are able to go outside more but that's about it.

We are still waiting on a court date, hoping to hear news in the next day or so.

Winnie

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Counting the days....


Our routine has pretty much stayed the same the last few days. At 9:00 am we go to the orphanage to visit I until 11:00 or so. Wander either back to our room or to the market to grab sandwich stuff and then eat and take a nap. We’ve napped more in the last week than we have in years. It seems strange but I guess we are storing up for the sleepless nights that are sure to come. Four o’clock rolls around and we go back to the orphanage until 6:00 and then we go eat supper. After our evening meal we come back to the hotel and if our laundry line has dry clothes (which is about every other day) we wash our clothes in the bathtub.

Sometimes we vary the routine by watching a movie from our stash or play a game of scrabble. There is LOTS of downtime. which would give us great opportunities to see things if there was something to see besides statues of dead communist and poverty.

We did make a deviation from our normal routine the other day and go visit the big red Orthodox Church in town. (see picture) Our translator tells us it’s very unusual since most churches are pastel blues, yellows etc. It’s a pretty building elaborately decorated on the inside as we peeked our heads in door and looked through a window. I made sure to wear a scarf over my head as we entered the church grounds as I did not know the customs and didn’t want to offend. There were a few people on the grounds but they all appeared to be working and the only women were babushkas who wear scarves all the time anyway. It’s hard to know what is culturally appropriate in a situation like that, as neither of us have experience with that religion.

There appears to be a run on adoptions at this orphanage. Currently there are three American couples in progress, one Spanish couple, and a Ukrainian couple. It’s a little crowded during visitation times and to put icing on the cake the large physical therapy room we are allowed to use in the afternoon is in use in the morning, so we are jammed into a hallway or a small walk through room. If the weather is nice we can go outside but it’s difficult to play with very young children outside when getting clothes dirty is an issue. I can’t imagine things will improve on Monday, I hope we are found someplace else to go to.

Visits with I are going very well. His walking is improving by leaps and bounds and he’s starting to babble some, which is more than he did when we first met him. I’m sure we are in for some speech therapy for the guy and possible physical, however I may push off the physical therapy because I can see great changes just in the last week of having one on one attention and feel he’ll possibly catch up just chasing his big brother and dog around. Currently I is happy to see us come but doesn’t really associate us with as anybody other than people who come to play and feed me as we always have a ready stash of fruit, and snacks in my bag which he’s always wanting to rummage through for more to eat. The kid can eat! In most visits he’ll eat half a banana, a handful of cheerios, some watered down apple juice and sometimes a cookie or two. Then he’ll be ready to eat again when he goes back to his groupa. My grocery bill will double with this eater around. I’m currently trying to teach him to use a sippy cup, we are having some progress but he wants no part of it when the valve is in. My real goal is to transition him to using a bottle at nighttime for some cuddling and bonding time. I don’t know if this is a real possibility as he’s pretty adept at using a cup and will resist. I also think it might help develop his facial muscles some as almost all the food they are given is mushy or soft and chewing isn’t something he’s used to.

Paperwork progress seems to be at a standstill for now as we are waiting on the Ukrainian federal government to do their end, after that a court date should be set within a day or two and the countdown to coming home will start and the paper chase will begin again with passports, birth certificates and visas.

We are getting pretty homesick as well. You take for granted being able to read and communicate. We are thrilled when we run into the occasional person who speaks a smattering of English. One of the funniest things we see is graffiti. Evidently it’s very hip for teenagers to spray paint slogans on building – much like tagging in the U.S. – however they don’t do it in Russian or Ukrainian they do it English. The funny part their English is usually misspelled and the meaning is totally twisted. Spotted today on a wall “All Cops are Bustards” and the other day “ Puck You”. I think they need to stick with their native language when writing obscenities on walls.

Thursday, March 20, 2008



This is the hotel we are staying at. No one will figure it for the Ritz Carlton. I would probably pay large money for a fitted twin size sheet now as there is only a flat sheet and it is too small to tuck under the matteress tightly. Notice the old Lada in the right hand corner. We are surviving though it's alot like camping with heat.

Well I promised a long post updating on our adventures, but I never have time to really sit and write one. However here’s a quick synopsis or our adventure so far. Hopefully I can copy and paste from word to the blog at the internet café.

March 10
Arrive in Kiev tired and jetlagged. Our plane was about an hour late and we muddled our way through customs and passport control. Thankfully our bags were not searched and our money was not counted, though we did claim our cash. The customs guy was nice a spoke a tiny bit of English so it helped. Mostly I think he thought dumb Americans.

We promptly found our translator after clearing customs and she whisked us away and to a grocery store to buy food for the next couple of days, change money, rent an apartment and meet the facilitator and have dinner where we discussed likely hood of good referral and what to do and look for. She was very informed about orphanage issues, FAS and other scary things you read and worry about. After dinner we went back to our apartment and fell out.

March 11
This was our appointment date. Our translator showed up and we walked to the SDA about 10 minute walk and met our facilitator there, we were lucky as we were allowed our own translator in the office with. We were show several files of mostly sick kids, however at the end the lady left and came back with I’s file and of all them he was the most promising if not the cutest.

After the appointment we went to have our documents copied and have a coffee at a Ukrainian version of Starbucks. At the coffee shop our facilitator and translator started working their three cell phones to make arrangements for drivers, call the city supervisor, orphanage director and half a dozen other calls I didn’t really understand. Hubby I simply sat there numb, watched the crazy Kiev traffic (which really lives up to it’s reputation) watched the girls in their boots walk by and hoped that the two in front of us were finding out good information.

When the Ukrainian version of Chinese telephone ended we went hither and yon, mind you all dressed in our nice clothes me in boots that would make a woman Ukrainian woman proud with 3 inch heels. We walked forever taking care of train arrangements, watch battery and other things before we finally went back to the apartment so I could put on some sensible shoes for walking on cobblestones, and rough sidewalks. During this marathon in heels I somehow injured my left knee which came back to haunt me the next day.

March 12
Since our papers wouldn’t be ready until 5:00 pm we spent the morning in our apartment which was rather nice if you discount the scary dark hallway and the drunks screaming something in Russian in the middle of the night. Our translator met us at noon since that was check out time and we took a cab to store our luggage at the train station and made like sardines in a can on the Metro back into the central city to see the sights. There really are some beautiful sights in Kiev, and I’m sure we have missed the pretty season as everything is bare and drab but you can see flowers starting to poke up here and there. We walked along and saw the tomb of the unknowns, the big rainbow, parliament, the Ukrainian White House – which is blue – and too many gold domed churches to count. All of this walking had that knee which was sore yesterday screaming! Anyhow we arrived at the SDA and when we opened the door there was a woman screaming and mad so we kept our mouths shut and sat in the Scooby doo hall couch while our translator wheeled and dealed to get us first in line as our train left in only an hour or so. We got our documents, hightailed it to the nearest person sitting in a car (not a real taxi) and caught a ride to the train station. I was worried the whole time that we wouldn’t make it as the guy’s gas tank was on E and the light was on, however we did make it. Grabbed a quick bite to eat, some beer for the train and hopped on. The train ride was pretty pleasant if you discount the fact is must have been close to 80 degrees in the train car and we couldn’t open the windows for fear of never getting them shut back tight. Unfortunately the bathrooms on the train live up to all the horror stories you’ve heard.

March 13
We arrived in Artomovsk ( a train station near) at about 6:30 am. We were met by a driver who drove us into town, since we were early we tried to find some coffee and breakfast but had no luck so we end up killing time until the city supervisor’s office opened and we had all our documents approved and stamped and stuff and then off to the orphanage we went.

The orphanage was clean if somewhat worn, the linoleum floors have definitely seen better days and there must be near 25 coats of paint on the woodwork and doors. We went in to see the director who was way younger than I expected – maybe around 30 – and she gave us the latest info on I. All the information we received seemed pretty encouraging, however I had tested positive for Hep C at two months old and had not been retested since it somewhat beyond orphanage means. We agreed to pay for another test but the belief is that that the Hep C was a transfer from the mother to baby and will not be positive, we will get the blood work back next week. I was brought in and was appropriately nervous and scared because he was in the director’s office – a place he never goes – and with all strange people. He did seem a little calmer when one of his nursery workers came in to talk to us. We were allowed to take him outside in the yard for a bit and then he promptly fell asleep in our arms. The afternoon visit was like seeing another kid however, we were allowed to play in a big physical therapy room and he really opened up, laughing and giggling some and walking a little. I’s physical delay lags pretty far behind a two year old as does his speech. However I don’t think it’s anything that can’t be overcome with attention and some therapy. I seems pretty bright and you can show him a game and he will repeat it with accuracy and will even create his own games.

March 14
If any day could honestly be called the road trip to hell it was this. We hired a mini-van and driver in order to take I, a nurse from the orphanage, the two of us and our translator to a big clinic in Donetesk and to have the aforementioned blood work done. One and a half hours on the bumpiest roads you can imagine at 60-70 miles an hour in the back of a mini-van holding a baby on our laps. When we arrived there our translator muscled us in to see what I’m only guessing was a general practice doctor, a psychologist, and professor of pediatrics as we were in a teaching hospital/ clinic. All doctors pronounced I as healthy but with orphanage and premature birth delay. We were told he would not be Bill Gates but would be able to hold a job and live “normally” as an adult. All the doctors wanted us to do an MRI, which we checked on, however they would not do it on such a young child due to the need to put him under. Honestly I don’t think it would have done much good anyway. They also recommended we have an ultrasound done on his organs which we may do on Monday here Artomovsk. After finishing with the clinics we picked up some documents for the orphanage director from the main gov’t building in Donetesk and bumped our way back home. It was a long day to spend with I, however we did see a little more personality, his response to pain and the unknown which all seem to be normal.

I do have to tell about one of the doctors we visited though. The pediatrician was also a professor and had many (at least 10) students in his office while he examined I. The students were around 20 or 21 years old, mostly girls with their Ukrainian fashion sense in lab coats. One girl in particular even caught the eyes of our translator and nurse as she had long, to her waist, corn rows, a very short skirt, fish nets, and high heel boots on. Hubby says he’d go the doctor all the time if ours dressed like that!

While at the clinic in Donetesk we were given Rx for I, some were vitamins, some are unknown substances to western medicine so we went and bought them, special formula, food, juice and cereal to start pumping some calories and nutrition to him.

March 15
Today started the routine I imagine will become our timetable for the next few days. We arrived at the orphanage at 9:00 am, play for an hour or two, go eat lunch and find something to do for four hours and then go back at 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 or so. Our visit’s with I didn’t’ go to well today as he had diarrhea and gas cramps, he’d play for a while and then double over and fuss. Oh for some gas drops for the poor kid, but even if we had them I’m sure that wouldn’t be allowed, we were told to go buy some special tea with chamomile in it that was supposed to help the gas, which maybe it does. We had fed him yogurt while on the road trip yesterday and that was blamed but I can’t believe that and feel it was most likely stress.

Since today was my birthday after visits we went to a nice restaurant instead of our usual cheap food and ate a big meal with a couple of bottle of champagne. The food was good and the champagne went straight to my head. There was “live” music as in a couple singing along with a Karoke machine. It was fun.

March 16
Our routine sets in. We went to see I this a.m. and he seemed to feel much better and was playing well, he started trying to sneak out the door and was told Nyet and we saw our first temper tantrum. Nothing seemed to calm him, Eventually after offering dozens of toys, cookies and a wide array of distractions we gave up and took him back to his groupa. We then discovered that he had heard preparations for lunch and that as a rule all the kids start getting excited and cranky at this point because they are hungry. I’m sure the kid thought “ THEY ARE EATING WITHOUT ME! TAKE ME BACK IN THERE, I’M GOING TO MISS LUNCH! Even though in the middle of our visit he was given a few bites of his extra food we bought him it still wasn’t his normal meal and routine.

As for now we will most likely adopt I. Barring any huge issue that might arise with the blood work and possible ultrasound. I’ll honestly say it’s not love at first sight, however I think that takes time on everyone’s part, both his and ours.

March 20
Things are still moving well. Our paperwork is moving smoothly and our translator has gone back to Kiev to keep harassing the correct people. There is another American couple and a Spanish couple here as well and we have heard rumors of another American couple arriving in the next day or two.

Since I can now use my own computer I will write more and post more details in the next couple of days.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Trudging along

I wrote a very long post the other day in the hotel room, however it won't transfer. I will plan on coming to the gaming place tomorrow and see what we can figure out.

In the meantime, things are going very well it seems. I is responding well to us and has started to smile when we show up for visits. He's a very curious little guy and we think it there will be no real medical problems. However we wait on blood work to continue paperwork as there is some sketchy info in his file we are waiting to make sure that it is clear before continuing. We have started doing some early paperwork and our translator is hunting down contacts.

Tonight a Spanish couple showed up and they are adopting a boy from our orphanage and his sister from another. They have court tomorrow and will spend the 10 day wait in the same hotel as us. The woman speaks English pretty well so at least we have someone else floating in the same boat as us nearby. It's still fairly hard to communicate though, if there are some Americans coming through this area let me know!

Daily I can't believe we are the same planet. It is a totally different world with some of the same trademarks. This must be what our immigrant families thought when they came over and were dropped at Ellis island. Only we have a translator to drag us around and we follow her much like two little puppies.

Tomorrow I will try to post more
Winnie

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Yes we are still alive!!!

It has been an adventure to say the least. We arrived in Kiev with little problem and our SDA appt went very well. We were show about 10 - 15 files of mostly very sick children in our age range. After turning those down the phycologist left and brought back two more and one of those was the child we chose to go visit.

I is 2 years old and is delayed both physical and speech, however we feel that these are normal orphanage delays coupled with premature and low birth weight. Today he played and followed instructions and was a different child than the scared child we visited this morning. We are very hopeful that this will be our child.

Tomorrow we are going to take him to Donetesk - we are in Artemosk now- for some blood work and an exam, to rule out anything major.

Sorry for the long silence - I Know how it is when you keep checking blogs for info. I will try to post more now that we have settled down some.

Winnie

Saturday, March 8, 2008

So close, yet so far.

Today we took Sonny Boy and the dog across the state to meet Grandma. She will take them north to Hubby's hometown and the dog will go to my Father-in-law's and Grandma and Hubby's sister will split time with Sonny Boy. I'm sure he's in good hands and will have tons of fun playing with his cousins.

When we got home I cleaned some and we ate supper. We are now completely packed sans toothbrushes and make-up. We plan on getting up early in the morning so hopefully we can sleep on the plane and try to start setting our internal clocks before we actually arrive.

Yesterday we got a call from our stateside facilitator asking us to ferry documents for another family, of course that's not a problem and they were supposed to arrive today. However there was some weather delays and the Fed Ex guy did not leave them on my door. Currently they are working on it. I hope they can find a solution as I know the documents having to go normal Fed Ex will postpone them by at least a week.

The news on other's blogs is not looking too good for referrals. It and the general stress has me on edge about this whole venture now. Our facilitator seems upbeat when asked, so I'm hoping that between her and God there is some plan in place. I just hope I can keep it together and not cry if somebody looks cross eyed at me.

That's all for now. I may or may not post until we get settled in Kiev, and since we have so little time between landing and appointment it's unlikely I'll post before then. I will try to post asap after our appointment as I know there are several appointments right behind us, and like me your haunting blogs wanting to know what was presented.

Winnie