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.


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

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.


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.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

My little boy is Growing up!

Today preschool had a field trip planned to a local state park. I could tell Sonny Boy was a little aprehensive about it since he'd never gone a school field trip. The field trips always seem to fall when we were out of town for some reason or another therefore he didn't really know what to expect. We talked about it and he said that he wanted me to come along. So this morning I roll myself out of bed and look more presentable than I normally do for the am drop off and plan to ride the bus to the park with him. He's still gung ho about me going right up until we pull up to the school and he sees the school bus, suddenly he's grown and he's decided he's just gonna go with Mrs. C and the kids ( they had plenty of chaperones already signed up) so my little guy climbs on the big school bus, waves at me through the window and off he goes to explore probably the most boring state park in WI. I'm sure to get a full report when he gets home.

Well I believe just about everything is done. Two more small items to pick up at wal-mart and the last min laundry and cleaning to do. I'm hoping to get into my hairdresser in the next day or two and get a haircut so hopefully my hair will stay decent and I'll put some color on myself since there's fear of being there for weeks and my roots are already getting obvious.

Well I better get to work while I have some peace and quite - it's a rare commodity and soon to be worth more than gold.


Saturday, March 1, 2008

The creeping crud

Well the creeping cruds have hit the household. The end of last week Sonny Boy came down with it and I succumbed on Thursday. I gave in about 1:30 pm and called Hubby at work from the bathroom floor and told him he had to get home after I discovered Sonny Boy sitting in a cardboard box on top of his desk with his radio. I was too sick for it to rattle me much, I just told him to get down before he broke his neck and crawled back in bed. Thankfully Hubby's job is very flexible and understanding. Yesterday I wasn't good for too much but today have been able to run an errand or two and do a couple of projects.

I have met the queen of scrapbooking and I kneel at her feet. In my new position this year in my community service group I inherited a bunch of stuff, some of that stuff being recruiting material and display boards. While we are in Ukraine there is a big recruitment drive and I had all the material - the problem all the material is rather dated as in most of the people in picture are no longer in the group. Well I thought I just trade out a few pictures etc, then I discovered how much work the previous office holder had put into this. I'm not cut out for the serious scrapbook crowd, in fact most of my pictures do good to make it into a photo album with dates and labels. I did what I could - took up a large amount of room on the display board with a t-shirt and I hope it doesn't look too hokey. All hail to KF, Queen of Scrapbook. Hopefully she'll re-work some of the stuff, or at least let me play with her fancy scissors, punches and circle makers when I get back.

I'm close enough now that our departure date is starting to hit the extended forcast. So far so good. Milwaukee has now hit this as one of the top ten snowfall winters of all time. Needless to say I've become too closely attuned to my snowshovel, I honestly think it may need to be replaced next season as the little metal strip at the end of the shovel is wearing away. Salt is also becoming a hot commodity in the area as well. Today I had to buy water softner salt for the driveway because nothing else was available.

A few months ago when when we started this venture and it looked as if we might actually travel I bought the Rosetta Stone program to learn Russian. I worked at it pretty hard and have gotten through the first few units of it but now I can't seem to find the enthusiasm to put it in the machine and try. After the first few utterances it turns to an alien language that surely no one on earth speaks, my head explodes and I turn it off. I can tell you that the "Young women pointing left hand blue blouse" though, I hope Russian is sorta "me Jane, You Tarzan" sounding because I don't think I'm learning any modifiers etc. Now that I should be jamming it down the only thing that sounds good is a Valium. Anybody know the word for that in Russian - it hasn't come up on the little thing on the sidebar yet has it?

Well anyway it's late, I'm going let the dog out, brush my teeth and watch SNL, I don't think it's a rerun tonight.

Later Gator