Friday, July 31, 2009

As alluded to... pretty cool in my opinion.



ps They are are all fine. It's raining there. And they got just one week left !

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It is Snowing!

Yes, you read right! As I type, you can see little flakes of snow floating to the ground. The Penman's call them flurries, I think. Whatever you call it-- it is cold! How exciting!

Must Have Woke Up on the Wrong Side of the Kravat

Today's morning visit with Alex did not go well.

What makes it worse is that I didn't even see it coming. I was too excited at all the "trash to treasure" I had collected for the children in his groupa. All of the toys that we give the groupa ends up on a shelf (and I am not kidding-- they are for show only) so I thought I would bring them things that are considered trash, but I know the kids will have a ball playing with. So I lugged a good size bag of egg cartons, empty cereal boxes, different kind of bags, cups, and spoons.

And I was right! The kids were so excited-- and the caretakers actually looked at me and showed me with their eyes that I had done a good thing-- which I was glad to see because I was half expecting them to look at me like I was crazy. It was fun to see the kids playing-- and it made it easier for us to take Alex for a walk while he ate the ripe, yummy pear that we brought. As the juicy fruit dripped down his arm and onto his thighs, I tried to teach him to wrap a napkin around the fruit, but he wouldn't have it. Okay-- so forget the napkin-- I'll just clean him up once he is done. That too, he didn't want any part of but I got the job done, no big deal. We got to check up on the hardworking men who have been laying brick since we first got here. John-- they are still not done-- but they continue to engage Alex and he is more talkative with them. After walking around for about twenty minutes playing hide and go seek with Julia, we went and saw Simon's group and gave them their usual tickle fest that each of the boys so love. It has been amazing to see them all transition before my eyes-- each of the boys look healthier and happier-- they have better color, and respond to Julia and I immediately-- which is amazing because they all have moderate special needs (outside of Simon). Word of advice to anyone going to an orphanage soon-- spend time with the other kids-- rub their back-- talk to them--- bring them treats--- tickle them--- it may be the only real highlight of their day... week... month... or even year.

Moving on......

We all went to the sport room---- Alex was not cooperative getting out of the stroller. The room had the director's wife sitting in it doing paperwork-- so of course I talked with her a bit while Julia played with Alex. Alex came over to me, so I picked him up. He didn't like that--- he wanted to look through the drawer she had open. As I tried to parent him and lead him back to the ball pit, he dashed out to swing open the door-- something he has been told many times not to do. So I picked him up and now he has the director's wife scolding him too. Okay, I thought-- he'll listen to her. NOPE. He stared grabbing my glasses which he also knows is a big no-no. You can imagine how awkward the situation was for me as he continued to deliberately disobey. I gave him the benefit of the doubt that he was acting up because there was other women around-- but I still had to stay firm. So I did what I did a few days ago--- I took him back to his groupa.

Ugh--- it was not one of my finer moments---- yet again.

One caretaker got him to apologize and give me an I am sorry kiss which was really nice--- but I can't wait till he is my child in my custody and learns to respond to me in the same way. Only five more days for that. The plan is for us to be on a train the night of the 4th.
Before I forget I wanted to tell you how impressed I am with the caretakers handiwork. Nearly a week ago, one of the front wheels on Alex's stroller broke-- I most certainly would have thrown the whole thing away. But not at Antoshka-- the women got out some thin wire and fixed it-- and now it stronger than ever!
However, our afternoon visit went well! We had fun with the kids outside!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Short Update

Today we got to take Alex out to get his passport photo taken. He was beyond excited--- riding in a machina left him speechless. He loved the big flash of the photographers camera and made the cheeziest expression humanly possible! It was so cute.

When we got back, we saw that an American family who had adopted a little girl ten years ago was there for a visit.
Their beautiful daughter played guitar for the whole orphanage. It was nice to see everyone celebrating this beautiful child's life. Julia and the girl talked, as did her mother and I. What an incredible story they have. Afterwards, they visited the kids in Alex's groupa--- and she passed out lots of toys that were shelved shortly thereafter. Earlier in their trip they had visited Torez and told me only good things about it. The mother said that the children and adults appeared to be very well cared for-- they were doing crafts and were working on ongoing projects. It was so nice to hear good things about a place that I feared Alex was doomed to go to.

Julia and I visited the flea market and found some really cute clothes. We found a few ladies who helped us bargain with the other merchants-- so even in Ukraine I got some pretty good deals! After, we walked around to look at the fresh vegetables-- and bought a nice big peach!
Today one of the caretakers insisted that Alex walk up the stairs. Obviously he was having difficulty-- especially when we let go of his hand so I ended up carrying him up. Sadly, that was frowned upon.

Hope all is well with all of you.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sad to See Us Go

When it was time to take Alex back to his groupa at the end of our second visit yesterday--- I didn't want to hand him over. I could see how unhappy he was to go--- I am sure it had something to do with the particular caretakers that were on shift at that time. There are so many women coming and going from that orphanage that I can hardly keep up-- nor can I recognize them. There are a few that I love dearly and appreciate so much-- but the majority of them seem to consider what they do merely a job not a ministry--- and it shows.

And it makes my heart hurt. Julia's too. She loves all the children and enjoys passing out treats to them. She is getting Alex to play with her more and more and she absolutely loves to hear him call out her name. It is pretty cute.

Today we saw Dennis' old roommate outside in a baby walker. She is just so precious, bless her little heart. She has some kind of syndrome I am sure-- her eyes are set wide apart and she is missing fingers-- but she is the cutest little doll in all of Antoshka! But don't worry in case you are thinking---- the feelings I have are not Mama-type feelings but more a feeling of children with special needs need more advocates because they have so much potential. Can I hear an Amen?
I think Julia and I are developing a mosquito phobia-- nothing makes my skin crawl more than the high pitched sound of a mosquito buzzing around your head. EEeee!

I am also sick of apricots--- there are trees everywhere around here and the smell of rotten apricots smells like hot, old beer.

I love, love, love how Kramatorsk is like one giant park. Tall, shady trees are everywhere! Here is just one of many "hang outs" where old men play chess.
We saw this caterpillar on our walk home. It was huge!
This is for the Reed Kids---- I miss you guys so much. I have enjoyed your comments Annalyn and Rachel. They make me feel closer to you. Please keep an eye on each other and take care of one another! This is not a bribe-- but I would love to surprise all of you with something fun to do when Julia, Alex, and I get home! So-- be good!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Life in Ukraine

Alex is so smart. Yesterday I asked him if he wanted one cookie or two cookies tomorrow. He answered two! Then I asked him if he wanted little cookies or big cookies and he thought for a moment and answered, "Bolshoy!" It was just the cutest thing.

Alex is learning so much--- he got another timeout for hitting another little girl and understood that he had to stay sitting in his chair for a few minutes. Then he got up and said sorry. It is really obvious that the kids are not taught to say please and thank you, or I am sorry when they accidentally do something like hit another child with a swinging telephone. However, I am pleased to say that Alex is already learning these things and I have caught him saying them with out my prompting.

Alex is doing things that John had tried to get him to do when he was still here, but Alex was scared to do. He now loves to play in a big tube and Alex rolls around in it when Julia or I push it.
The weather is hot again, but the breeze is nice. We sleep in the room with the air conditioning and it almost feels like I am at home in my own bed. Almost.

Here is a list of things that are noticeably different here.

1. I have to unlock three different doors to get into our apartment. One of the keys looks like it should unlock an ancient treasure chest.

2. There are little kiosks scattered throughout the apartment grounds that sell beverages including beer, fresh fruit, bread, or ice-cream. Julia and I can enjoy two nice sized ice-cream bars for less than a dollar.

3. There are so many stray cats and dogs around here. And many cats look pregnant. Julia and I also give our loose change to a very fragile looking babushka who stands outside the market begging for money. Not sure if we are doing the right thing according to Ukraine customs, but for us it feels right.

4. Ukraine just flat out smells different than America. Some of the smells are good, but most are unpleasant to my nose. The stairwell smells different from the elevator and certain parts of our walk make me wonder what died in the bushes. Probably one of those poor starving dogs I see around here. The market sells lots of fish-- and I hate fish-- period. I do like walking past one of the kiosks selling bread-- and fresh tomatoes have a nice smell too.
As I close I wanted to share a story with you. After dinner, Julia and I went outside to sit near our apartment entrance where all the old babushkas sit. At one point I got up and asked to pet one of their dogs. She told me NO very sternly and then showed me her hand which had two of her upper fingers missing indicating that the dog had bit them off. What??? Why would she still have that dog? Anyway, a scary looking man was finally done yelling at another babushka one door down and came walking past where we were sitting. That mean dog got up and started barking something fierce at that man and was ready to attack it, so the man started yelling at it and lighting matches and throwing them at the dog. It was quite a show. But finally, the old man was gone and the dog went back to sleep.

Another old crochety babushka joined the other babushkas and saw that Julia an I were playing ball again. She asked me to move because a machina would drive over us but I ignored her because there had been no machinas for the last 15 minutes and I was a big girl who could see the machina and get out of the way. I think that ticked her off because she came up to me invading my personal space and talking to me like a child. She told me to go play somewhere else because a mahina would drive over me. Well this time I nicely told her that there was no machinas and this royally ticked her off. She started yelling at me and finally acted like the ball might hit her face-- so rather than cause a scene, I picked up the soft ball and Julia and I went back up to our apartment.

I miss America. Only 12 more days. Only 12 more days.
P.S. Here is a cute picture of the kids all sitting on a blanket eating the cookies we brought them.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Today has been Awesome!

I have to shout from the rooftops that I see a definite change in Alex. It wasn't just a one time thing with him during our afternoon visit with him yesterday-- today he was just as well behaved. Now of course, I would be a liar if I portrayed him to be an angel, but what kid is?? But--- there is a noticeable difference in his attitude towards me like when I change his diaper, when I offer him a toy, when I ask him not to do something-- it is all done with much less hesitation and defiance. And believe me, I tell him thank you for his good behavior, and I smile at him to reinforce to him that a certain behavior is more desirable than others.

As I thought a lot last night before drifting off to sleep, I kind of think this whole thing with Alex's behavior was God's way of getting my mind off of his disabilities. A part of me was still thinking about his ability to walk and whether or not he would be incontinent all of his life. As soon as Alex's behavior became the main focus, my thoughts were completely off of his special needs and I was just praying for my son to listen to me and to be the joy that I had imagined him to be for the last year. Who cares if his body is not perfect-- I certainly don't and it certainly won't stop God from using him in a mighty way-- but our ability to bond to each other and love and trust each other is crucial and I just needed to be reminded of that. Now that I am seeing the sweet, funny, and happy Alex that I remember from last year-- I am so thankful-- and I am so focusing on that rather than anything else.

Does that make sense?

Moving on.......

Alex crawled onto a big ball and started rolling his body over it and so I took this moment to have some physical touch with him and I rolled him back and forth on an even bigger ball. I rolled him back and forth so that his feet would nearly touch the ground and then his head would nearly touch the ground. I did this over and over. I bounced him too. And I rubbed his back. And I stole little kisses on his cheek whenever I could.

And he absolutely loved all of it. At one point I asked him if he wanted to go to sleep and he said yes-- he was that relaxed. The whole visit was exactly as I would have expected-- and Alex acted exactly as I would have expected him to act.
The trash collector comes every other day in this old clunky dinosaur of a truck. It is some woman's job to walk behind the truck sweeping up all the trash left in the street with her two foot straw broom.
To make things simple, Julia and I have started making sandwiches for lunch. I fry the ham to make sure it is safe to eat.
Julia has made three Ukrainian friends-- one girl her age and two younger boys. She is teaching them some simple English words. Julia's ability to make friends wherever she goes is such a gift. We have made friends with the four Babushkas that sit near the door to the apartment. One day, one of them called me over and took my cross that was hanging around my neck and slipped it inside my shirt. I thought she wanted me to hide it so it wouldn't get stolen because it was evening, but I am not sure.
AND FOR THE FINALE!! In case you guys are not reading the comments, I wanted to post this one. It is from my wonderful hubby John. I had the best chuckle reading it and I thank him from the bottom of my heart for being able to make me laugh half way around the world.

"But speaking from VERY recent personal experience, here is a real warning about your 15 hours of 'just plane fun' to be ready for...if such a readiness is possible...(I tried calling you again and am not getting through...???)(Don't try me for at least 8 more hours (please)).Open up window (to let in BRIGHT SUN), close window, open up window, close window, ok Dennis, no more window, open out meal table, close down meal table, open out meal table, close down meal table, ok Dennis, no more meal table, No, don't kick the chair in front of you, No, don't crush your flimsy plastic water cup, yes you must wear your seatbelt and I don't care how loud you whine about it, your growling is too loud, don't lick me, don't lick the chair, ok, let's not lick anything, no screaming, sure you can open the window again, yay, good close of the window, now leave it closed.Wow, meal time, yes wear the bib, please don't drop the water cap, Dennis please don't drop the water cap any more, ok fine, no water cap for you, ok so you don't like any of the food here but let's not just throw it to the lady next to us, and let's watch our mountain of trash just sit here on our tray tables for another hour without spilling most of it into our seats, what? no room for you to spread out and nap? Well no crying about it either. Sure you can lie down on me (I'll hold your kicking legs). Is that smell coming from your diaper? Repeat all of the above every 100 miles of the 8000 miles.Just plane fun. And I thought I was a good parent!!! He really was a trooper though. However, WHILE we were LANDING at LAX, he handed me his EYE !!! Carrying him and the two huge rolling bags on and off the airport trams through passport control, customs declaration lines, etc, got me my needed work out!!!Good night to me. Good morning to you."

Friday, July 24, 2009

Being Honest

Here is the view outside our apartment window.

We have been spending our afternoons hanging out together down under the trees exchanging stories. It was been a blessing have another family here with us. It has made it so much more bearable to be away from the rest of my family and friends.

Visits with Alex were getting progressively harder and finally things came to a head today. He has been quite the handful--- very hard for me to admit. But true. He wasn't listening to me--- AT ALL, and I finally told him that if he didn't stop throwing toys (or spitting or screaming) I would take him back to his groupa. He continued and so that is exactly what I did---- kicking and screaming I carried my little boy back to his groupa. And without saying a word his caretakers understood what was happening. Of course I told them what had been going on, and had Alex decided to listen to his caretakers I would have felt like a Mom who couldn't control her child--- but he didn't. So they ended up taking him up to his room for a nap.

This was incredibly hard for me-- but I am all about keeping it real so I will continue with the truth. I felt bad not knowing what they would do with Alex-- but at this point I really needed some help. I stood firm and told him I would be back for our afternoon visit.

I prayed. The Penman's prayed. I even think the caretakers prayed-- laughing out loud.

On our way back to the orphanage, Julia and I prayed some more.

When we approached Alex's groupa, it was nice to see that everyone was happy. One caretaker had a reminder talk with Alex-- and then the three of us were off to do our thing. And you know what--- Alex listened. We fed him a banana and walked around with him for about fifteen minutes before we took him into the playroom. And you know what-- the visit continued to go quite well! It was such a turn around from previous visits that I was extremely grateful and the three of us had a great time. We brought balloons and Alex loved us blowing them up and letting them go to fly around the room. No joke-- I must have did this at least thirty-five times. But you know what--- I would have blown up twenty more balloons just to see him continue to smile and bring me the balloon back and ask me nicely to blow it up again.

Near the end of our visit, things started to spiral downward-- or so I thought. He had taken the batteries out of the toy phone and I fixed it and told him not to do it again. And that is what he immediately did-- that little stinker. So-- I took the phone away from him and put it on the table. And he crawled over to the table and started to climb it to take the phone back. I told him no but that made him only want to do it more. At this point, I picked Alex up and set him down in a chair. In my broken Russian I told him to sit in the chair for five minutes and then he could get up. He started to scoot his feet to the ground to stand up and I told him to sit down for five minutes and if he stood up I would take him back to his groupa because he wasn't listening to me. He started to scoot again and I held him firmly and repeated my instruction and ended with the word, "Pravda," meaning truth. I also looked straight into his eyes with all seriousness.

Thank God-- he realized I meant business because he stopped trying to get down from the chair and just sat there nicely looking at me. I had him sit there for two minutes (I think he thought it was five) and then I praised him for listening to me. It was such an amazing moment.

The rest of our twenty minutes went really well---- and I am just so pumped up now-- and filled with renewed hope. Believe me, I realize how hard things are for Alex. This process just stinks when you think about it. First off, he is now expected to listen to some stranger who leaves after a few hours. His life seems to have no consistency right now because he is expected to be part of his groupa yet is also told that he is now a part of a family and will soon be going to America. I can only imagine how hard it must be for him-- and it is frustrating for him..... I am sure, to not have the freedoms that all the other children have even though he is capable of doing almost everything they are. Throw in the fact that his new family speaks a totally different language and it makes things only more confusing for him.

I can honestly say that I can't wait till I can take him from Antoshka and give him a bath and start showing him what it is like to have a forever family-- because whether or not he realizes it-- that is what he has!

Alex eating a Fruit Roll Up

Alex learning to sit in a better position for his legs.

On one of our many walks

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Last Day with Alexei, Christine, and Julia

This is Dad / Hubby / John blogging because Christine doesn't have access to a computer right now.

Yesterday morning when we got to Antoshka, one of the caretakers called a local news reporter back because she had been waiting for our arrival. Christine had mentioned this in her prior post but I think it pretty cool that she first saw Dennis when he'd arrived at Antoshka, then, a year ago, she wrote another article when she found out he'd been adopted by us, and she was so excited to see him for yet another "follow-up" article. She took her own pictures of our morning together and shared her website with us so MORE TO COME!

Yesterday afternoon, when we went to visit Alexei, for my last time, we first stopped by the store and got a wrapped package of pre-cut pieces of crunchy/flaky sweet bread. We were kind of early and when Julia and I got to his orphanage group's room, they were actually all waking up. We asked the caretakers if we could share the sweetbread and they of course said yes so all the kids quickly got to their chairs and Julia proudly passed it out.

Then we thought we would take Alexei out of the group to play and visit with Mom and Dennis down in "the sport room" like we usually do, but they insisted that he eat first as they quickly served him a nice large cup of milk and large bowl of zeppikanka. He ate it fast and it was nice to see him express his thankfulness.

After our visit, Christine made a fantastic 'going away dinner'--leg of chicken, rice pilaf, etc, and then my journey back began. This time it is impossible to say "smiling all the way back". Leaving Julia and Christine there was VERY hard. At first I was leaving them with a Ukrainian cellphone that my phone couldn't even call!!! But thankfully our facilitator helped that within a few hours (by switching local carriers) and now I can keep in touch.

Not only did I have the sadness of leaving two incredibly special young ladies, but I had, and am still in the middle of, the challenge of taking back two large bags and my 2 year old, Dennis. This requires driving, walking, 12 hour train riding, and tomorrow the 20+ hour plane journey and drive. The eye-cleaning and diaper changing is rough enough, but I'm on the 4th story of an apartment in Kiev with no elevators too.

On the train ride Dennis was great. He really slept for 90% of it. I was supposed to also. But couldn't. It was smaller than a twin mattress that we shared and he couldn't be touched because it was so hot. No air flow at all in the compartment so I regularly opened and closed our compartment door to let in the air flow, but it also let in light and noise to our room mate. If I did touch him, it quickly lead to loud fussing. If I didn't touch him, he seemed to sleep pretty well, especially when I fanned him by waving the towels (or pillow cases) that were included in the cabin. What really kept me from sleeping was Dennis's strange habit of needing to, at random times, karate kick in all directions--whether it was a front snap kick to my shin, or a heel pound to my other areas, it was a force to be reckoned--I closed my eyes in the sitting position.

Once we landed in Kiev (exactly 12 hours later in fact!), it was so nice to see our facilitator help offload Dennis and my bags from the high steps of the train. It was so crowded near the train station though that we had a long walk to his car. We then immediately drove to the U.S. Embassy (which by the way had been closed the prior day due to US VP Joseph Biden's Kiev visit) where I did all my necessary signing to enable Alexei's return to the U.S. with Christine later.

Dennis and I then napped at the apartment and then went out to eat.
Dennis and I shared a nice ketchup-soaked Bratwurst on a toasty roll, orange juice, and peanuts (and then we had the Ukraine Summer staple, the vanilla ice cream cone). What Dennis loved most was the fact that the pigeons loved the peanuts! So he'd toss them and hundreds would gather then he'd run out as they'd swarm up and around him as he'd laugh readying his next toss. The passerbyers must have thought how wasteful. And they'd be right! But Dennis was thrilled and that's his souvenir.

He's asleep now. I'll hit the hay soon. Driver will be here after 9am to take us to the Airport.
Good night all. Thanks for your prayers, well wishes, and support.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Saying Goodbye....

Today John and Dennis will say goodbye to Alex, Julia, and I---
and we will say goodbye to them.

It will be bittersweet.

For one, it marks one more leg in the process that we can put behind us and John can get back home to the kids. I know he will give them plenty of love from me.

We went and saw Alex today and told him that we will all be going to on a semolat (airplane) in a couple of weeks. I think he understood.

A reporter from a Donetsk newspaper came and interviewed us and took pictures. She did an article on Dennis when he first came to Antoshka. Her goal is to encourage women here to keep their children even if they have special needs---- she hopes our story will show people that it is possible to raise children even if they are not physically perfect. Hopefully, we can provide the link once she is done writing the article.

The weather continues to be very nice--- some more rain is reported-- Praise the Lord!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Today Was A Success!

Why?? Because we are the proud parents of ALEXEI MATTHEW REED! Court was at 9:oo am this morning-- we had the same judge and the same prosecutor. Even with 10 of us crammed into a little courtroom, it was still cool, thank the Lord.

It has been decided, and plane tickets have been changed..... John and Dennis are heading back to Kiev tomorrow night and Julia and I are flying out early morning on August 7th!

Julia was very helpful with Dennis during our court hearing. Thanks Julia!

Doesn't Dennis look cute with his hands folded all nice?

Since John is leaving, we had to transfer power of attorney over to me at the notary. While we waited, we watched the baby frogs swim around in this shut-down fountain.

The weather was fantastic today too so we walked from the notary all the way home. Since we are in the city, all we see is tall apartment buildings--- no one-family homes.
Since we were at court in the morning, we were only able to visit Alex in the afternoon. Note, the name change--- we are trying to get him used to the name Alex since that is what he will most likely go by in school and at church.
Visits are getting harder---- mainly because we are all bored doing the same thing day in and day out, so we bought some new toys for the boys to play with.
Whenever I can, I try to get Alex to sit with his legs out or to the side instead of them bent back and I noticed that his left leg does not straighten out completely. I wonder if this is something that can be corrected with therapy or possibly surgery?
For the moment, the boys were content with their phones-- but it didn't last long. They both wanted the Spiderman phone.

Near the end of our visit, we took the boys for a long walk all around the orphanage. It looks like there was a fire here at Anotshka a few months ago. Not only is there this pile of burnt debris behind me, but there are workers rebuilding a wing at the back of the orphanage. There are burnt little beds and I have to wonder if they were empty at the time. I sure hope so.

For dinner, John bought Celantano pizza--- which was a nice change and very similar to American pizza. And the whole pizza cost only four American dollars.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Today we got drenched.
Drenched in rain.

And you know what?
It felt wonderful.
Absolutely wonderful.

Like a gift from God bringing a break from the heat.
I purposefully splashed in puddles.
I let my feet bathe in the cool refreshing water.

Dennis loved it too.
Oh how I wish Alosha could have been with us.
He would have loved it too.

The best part about today's rain was that it washed away the heat, the humidity, the dust, and the smell.
And it couldn't have come at a better time.
Tonight, we will all get a cool night's rest--- all in time for court tomorrow.

Court is Tomorrow!

We found out for sure that tomorrow is the day!

That means that Alosha will be ours--- but we can't take him from the orphanage until August 3rd after the 10 day waiting period.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Sweet Ending to the Day

As promised, we brought the children cut up apples for their morning snack. I squeezed a little lemon juice on them to keep them from turning brown and one little boy made faces because of the tartness. The rest of the children didn't even seem to notice and before we knew it the bag of cut up apples was gone. All of the children beg for attention and it is hard to break away from them so that we can spend alone time with Alosha. We have mentally decided to spend about 10 minutes each time with the other children when we pick up and drop off Alosha the four times a day.

Alosha is doing great. I could tell that he hates being couped up in his stroller all the time, but it is hard to encourage him to do anything else. It is just so dirty and watching him crawl around in the sand, broken glass, and crumbled rocks and cement not to mention ants just stresses me out. Not that I can't handle him getting dirty--- but at home, I would give him a bath. It is just not the same here.
Alosha has began testing the waters with us a bit---- throwing a toy for the second time after us telling him not to, or opening a door after asking him to keep it closed. Typical four year old stuff that John is much better at handling here than I am. It is hard to be yourself here without wondering who is watching you waiting to correct your parenting--- but it doesn't seem to bother John. He is who he is and I think the caretakers appreciate that. I hope I can begin to relax more---- just today I took the water canteen away for the remainder of our visit after Alosha continued to shake out the water after I told him not to. And after a second of pouting, he was off and playing again.
We are still on target to have court early next week----- and then John is most likely going to head home with Dennis while Julia and I stay here to finish up things. Economically, it just makes the most sense, and we really prefer to not leave Alosha anyway. This way, John can drive down to LAX with the whole family and welcome Alosha home!
At the end of our visits, we walk Alosha up this staircase to his room. He knows the routine now and doesn't have any problems saying goodbye to us and throwing us kisses. We always scream out to each other, "Paca, Paca! Daz vi danya!"
We visited the caretakers in Dennis' old wing of the orphanage again. This sweet old lady had not seen Dennis yet, and was so happy to hold him. The other caretaker Elena brought us more gifts today--- a jar of honey, a jar of jam, and a bag of cookies. It was a special treat and I came home and made honey tea.
Till tomorrow......

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Fitting Right In

This morning was overcast, hiding the sun, bringing some reprieve from the heat. Our daily walk to and from the orphanage is pretty much routine now and only takes about 15 minutes. People watching on the way makes the time pass quickly. I still scratch my head at the sight of all the women dressed up in heels and fancy party dresses with no where to go except maybe to BOOM to grocery shop.

I brought overalls for Alosha today because shorts tend to slide off of him when he crawls. Thankfully, they fit---- what do you know-- he wears a size 3T, the same as Dennis.

After talking with the caretakers and asking them if it was okay to bring apples for all the children tomorrow, we headed inside to our usual spot. Dennis and Alosha continue to grow closer which means one of two things. Either they play together very nicely like in the picture below, or they are fighting over a toy, which I will not post a picture of..... yet. :)

This picture is priceless once you know the story. The two boys were fighting over a toy phone, so John gave Dennis his phone so Alosha could have the toy phone. Immediately Alosha no longer wanted the toy phone, so John gave him our Ukrainian phone to listen to the ring tones. The boys listened to their own phones, but secretly they wanted each others phones so very politely they switched. It was a prime example of cooperation on both of their parts.

As we were leaving Alosha's room, I couldn't help taking a picture of all of the little kids' shoes. Once in a while we will see one of the kids' shoes that they are wearing don't even match. Just goes to show that they are expected to put them on by themselves.

I brought a pair of shoes that no longer fit Dennis.... but they fit Alosha! He is a size 6 and Dennis is nearly a size 8!

We went and visited Dennis' main caretaker now that she was back from vacation. She was expecting our visit and had candy, and cookies, and apricots for us! Bless her heart, she really loves Dennis and is so happy to see how well he is doing.

On the way home today, Dennis wanted to walk just like his big sister Julia.

the walk must have tired out both Dennis and Daddy.