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.


mommytoalot said... the video..look at Alex go.
Hope the rest of you stay goes smoothly.

Molly C said...

It was great to see how Alex gets around. He is quite mobile. Also, the happy squeal at the end when he falls into the ball pit (I think that's what it was?) is adorable. You are going to have so much fun with him when he is home!!!

Gosh, I remember when you had just gotten Dennis home. Time flies!

Missy said...

Great to see the video! Thanks for the info - I'll warn Mark. ;o)

Tina in CT said...

It would upset me terribly to see all the stray animals. I'd have had a fit seeing that man throw lighted matches at the dog. I love animals and they are so helpless.

Anonymous said...

Maybe that's what she wanted all along but in her mind if she asked you to do it for your benefit then the request was more proper than if she wanted you to move for her sake. Either way she was in error. You weren't going to hit her with the ball and you weren't going to get hit by a car.
too-lazy-to-sign-in-babushka, I mean g-ma

Lyndi said...

Don't you just love the ancient treasuer box keys? In my first apartment here I felt really safe from intruders, but at the same time couldn't help but wonder how in the world I would get out quickly in an emergency???? My new apartment is safe too, but I can get out with just one key!!

Have you noticed that all the stray dogs look like they are the same dog. No matter where I go, it seems like I am seeing the same dog over and over again (this really isn't possible considering how many dogs I see and how large Kiev is, lol).

And the ice cream is cheap and wonderful on these hot days!

I hope you continue to enjoy all the sites and sounds of Ukraine!!

Anonymous said...

I am so glad that you are all having a good time and I cant wait
for you to come home!!!I love you all!!!
Your Daughter,

I love the red and white candy that you brought home!!Can you
please gring some more???

Jenn said...

Awwww, I loved seeing Alex in the video! He is so precious!

Joan (Nana) said...

Praying for the Reed and Penman family. Bring those beautiful children home to their Forever families. This just warms by heart thanks to God.

MamaPoRuski said...

See, O's love of drama comes honestly from her native land...sigh! Of course, when I'm an old woman I will probably do the same thing LOL!

Holly said...

I'm so glad you have friends there!
You are such an inspiration to so many Christine.
You'll be home soon. I know it must seem like a long way away, but you'll be on the plane with a little window opener/shutter soon too!
Holly from Purpose Driven Family

Mummy McTavish said...

It's great to hear that Alex is learning so fast. From what you had said I was pretty sure that he would but it must be so encouraging to you to see it happening from one day to the next.

I have a question that I'm not sure if you have answered previously... you talk about Alex eating and about feeding him so I was wondering what his motor skills are like in that area? You have compared his development in other areas to different ages but I was wondering about where you would place his age-level for feeding himself? Just stickybeaking on this one, feel free to not answer :)

Martha said...

So glad you have been able to post these past few days. You are in my prayers and will soon be home and able to play ball in your own back yard with no fear of machinas or old crotchety babushkas.

Jodi said...

Just wanted to let you know that we have been here "with" you the whole way!! I am so happy for your family and can't wait to meet the newest addition to your family. :)
Friday is our big day here with our precious daughter. God is so good!! She is a huge blessing.
Enjoy those ice creams and know that you are in our thoughts and prayers!!

Annie said...

I love Russia....and Ukraine sounds quite similar. Let's just say, people don't generally hesitate to "engage" one another! I can't believe how forceful women, in particular, are with one another. I actually rather like it. I bet the dog didn't actually bite her fingers off, but that is a handy way to get people to leave it alone! That MIGHT happen to you. Just like a machina MIGHT come along. Though I will say, that if one DID come along, it would run you over without the driver batting an eye. Machinas ALWAYS have the right-of-way! Again, sounds like a worst-case-scenario way of asking you not to do something!

I envy you the ice cream; yes I do!

You'll enjoy this: The other night I asked Ilya and Sergei to not snack as I was making a nice dinner and didn't want them to come to the table without an appetite. When I served the chicken enchiladas Ilya looked at me and laughed. "You think this nice dinner mom? Nice dinner (and he gestures as though a large platter were in the center of the table) reeba (fish), kartoshki (potatoes), luk (onion). THAT nice dinner!" I've actually gotten used to the smell of fish. The smoked and dried fish we get at the Russian store makes them all so happy...I now associate fish smell with grateful, pleased children.

Anonymous said...

Hi mommy and julia I really missed you guys my favorite sour candy is the red kind.I can't wait till you come home mommy,julia and alex. I love you guys so much. have a fun trip in Ucrain. love you .
love anna.

Renee said...

Thank you so much for sharing your journey. God is using you!

Amy said...

The little boy in the front on the far right in the last pic looks like your Johnny