Thursday, July 31, 2008

I Have to Blog

Sorry I took so long to post. I started this one last week and then someone built a lego vehicle or wanted to play hide and seek or needed a hug and I got sidetracked. :) Part of the message was lost, but some of it is still here so I will pick up where I left off. One of my goals for today is to get us home on the blog. Tomorrow evening marks two weeks since our arrival home. The kids are doing great! They love it here and they are loving life. It is amazing what loving parents, good nutrition, and playing hard will do to a kid in just a couple quick weeks. We love having them here as well. Life as we knew it will never exist again, but I can't even remember what I used to do with my time. I love being their mom and Kevin is a fantastic Pop. Kevin's parents were here to help us until Saturday morning. Babushka and Deudushka had so much fun getting to know the kids, and the kids adore them as well. Last week was pretty crazy around here trying to settle in and I am sure they are enjoying the peace and quiet of home. This week we have focused on fine tuning our routine and just spending some time alone as a family of six in the evenings. We look forward to seeing Kevin's parents in a few weeks though when they come back to break ground on their lake house! We can't wait to have them close by and spend lots of time at the lake next season.

I have to get this stuff down because I am forgetting so much already! Okay, last time I left off with...

Waiting for our medicals for the U.S. Embassy. These were the strangest medical appointments. They looked very briefly at the kids, asked them questions, and had them draw pictures. The doctor was very nice. The girls went in together (with me) first and then the boys. As soon as Julian's check was almost up Tate started to cry a little and say "by-ooz." This means something like, "I'm scared" and I am so glad he tells us all the time when he is. Once it was his turn he didn't shed a tear though and things went just fine. The doctor could have required much more so it was nice that the doctor was good with the kids and basically just asked that we would take them to a doctor once we were home. We have appointments with a pediatrician who specializes in Internationally adopted kids in a couple weeks. They like for you to be home a couple weeks first, which I can appreciate. The doctor can be pretty intimidating and they will be running several tests. We are going to break the appointments up into two days. Girls and boys. I am so happy to have found someone fairly close by that knows what they are doing.

We visited a beautiful fountain in Kiev. The kids love to play in the water and there are so many nice fountains to play in around Kiev. Unfortunately this trip ended with the kids deciding not to behave and Julian throwing one of the his royal fits in public. He was having a hard time with us at first, but things are going so much better now that he understands that is not an acceptable way to let us know how he feels. Poor guy must have been so scared at first!

This was all on Monday. Then Kostya had to leave to make sure he was able to get home in time for Nikita's 8th birthday on Wednesday. He was having a hard time finding a train ticket. I am so glad he made it home in time to celebrate with his family. Hope you had a fun bowling party, Nikita! We had so much fun getting to know the whole Farkovets family on our trip. They were so kind and so much fun to hang out with. The girls cried when Kostya left. All of us were very sad. We really enjoyed the time we spent in Ukraine and it was hard for all of us to say goodbye. Thank you so much for everything Kostya! Spending time with you and your family was like spending time with old friends. We will always hold a special place in our hearts for you three. You are doing such important work and we were so happy with all aspects of the job you did for us. You were an answer to our prayers.

There are so many beautiful parks in Kiev and this one was only a couple of blocks from our apartment. It is the big park across the street from the university, I am sure most Ukraine adoptive families have been there. The kids loved all the neat play equipment, the fountains, the ice cream stands, and the beautiful landscaping. They even rode ponies there one day! Kevin would take all four kids there by himself so that I could get things done (like packing, laundry, etc.) and they just loved it! The park has huge shade trees, gorgeous green grass (rare in Kiev), beautiful flowers, and an all around calm and relaxing atmosphere. Kevin was saying that this is the type of park where you would expect to see old men playing checkers and chess and when I walked to the bathroom a few minutes later, guess what I saw? ;)

The view in the evening and at night from our balcony. It was fun to live in a big city for a week.

The kids loved it too! Here they are standing out there in their pajamas. Their orphanage was off a dirt road and they had never seen so many cars speeding by. They loved the twinkle lights in the trees!

As soon as Tate got over his fear of the washing machine (he wouldn't go in the bathroom alone when it was running) he couldn't get enough of it! He watched it for a long time. No more, "by-ooz!"

How cute are these two? They slept in the room with us. Kevin made a bed on the floor and I slept down at the end of the huge bed. Sophie and Julian slept in the other bedroom. They were up late every night talking and laughing and probably just catching up on the last six months and talking about the future.

One afternoon Kevin took the boys for ice cream and I took the girls to see the cathedrals and shopping at the stands by the SDA. Sasha drove us and waited for us while we toured around. It was really hot so we bought drinks for everyone. This is the girls in front of St. Michaels. It is gorgeous and right next to where we had our appointment at the SDA. It felt strange to be taking the girls to the place where we had first seen their sweet pictures and heard about them. I even got a few pictures of them outside the building.

I had to get Sophia's picture in front of St. Sophia's! I got this one of both of the girls and some of each of them alone. Of course when we were there in June we got wonderful pictures and when I took the girls they were setting up for a concert and it was hot and sunny. Oh well. Maybe I will Photoshop Sophie in to one of the pictures we took in June. ;)

The boys loved the Ukrainian soccer outfits we got them. They continue to wear them a couple times a week now that we have been home. We'll have to get them some Beckham jerseys too!

Wow! In only three sittings over the course of one week I was able to finish our time in Kiev. Of course I have so many great pictures I didn't post, but these ones help tell the story. I actually finished this post sitting on our side porch. I let the kids Slip and Slide, gave them cold drinks and trail mix, and set up the water table with water toys. They have been playing happily for a couple hours. It seems like that is how longs it takes to get the four of them into bathing suits and all sunscreened up, so I am glad they enjoy playing out in the water on hot afternoon.

Looking back over my post it is amazing at how different they already look! I will post again soon. Really. :)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Will I Ever Catch Up?

I think I forgot this picture last time. Tate dries his hands on his towel for the last time.

Leaving the apartment. Our favorite taxi driver took us. He is the one who got us the train tickets. Tate has on his new backback. He was proud as could be. Poppa brought them back from home. They are filled with goodies to make the train ride easier. Worked like a charm. The kids loved them and everything in them. They were so excited to have their own things, They even slept with several of the things inside.

They loved playing with the suitcases while we waited for our train.

Looking out the window as the train started to leave the station. I was taking video and told the kids to say "paka" (goodbye) to Lugansk. Alina yelled, "Gooed-bye Lugansk Oblast" out the window. It was pretty funny.

They spent the first couple hours staring out the windows. They all loved the train ride. They liked eating on it, playing in it, coloring, and watching out the windows. Poppa and Julian slept in the compartment next to us and Kostya in the one on the other side (he joined us in Donetsk as a surprise). Tate fell off the bed once and woke up crying, Kevin said Julian fell off the bed too but he isn't sure he even woke up, and Lily cried for maybe a half hour when she woke up in the middle of the night. It was very hot on the train and I don't think I got more than maybe 3 or 4 hours of sleep. The kids did great though. They loved it. It was a huge adventure for them. I can't believe how long ago it seems.

Uh! The WIFI is running so slow it isn't letting me upload any more pictures. Probably for the best since I am falling asleep here at the computer desk anyway. Tomorrow is Kevin's first day back at work. Boo. :( Hope to catch up on emails, blogging, and thank you's soon. Just so busy settling in and enjoying this time with the kids. We had a wonderful day today. Hopefully I will make it to Kiev and then home in my blogging to I can get to it in pictures. :)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Home Sweet Dom

Sorry for no updates. We got home a couple days ago and things are going really well. We are just taking a blog hiatus to enjoy being a family and get things organized around here. I will be back soon to give an update. We are very happy and are all settling in together so well. The kids run around like they own the place and have lived here for years. They are loving life!

I just stayed up to get s few things cleaned up and some laundry done and meanwhile I downloaded over 1,000 pictures from the last few days. Needless to say, I should have some pictures to post next time. :)

Love from North Carolina,
Krista and Kevin
Alina-Sophia (Cat-Leeza), Julian Edik (still working on that one), Lily, and Tate

and Keaton, who has taken to the kids and all the noise better than I thought he would. He is now called lovingly nicknamed Ketusa by the kids.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Final Thoughts from Poppa

Well, it is 2 am and I can’t sleep. We are leaving the apartment in another 2 hours for the airport. I am always so scared that I am going to sleep in and miss the flight that I can rarely sleep the night before an early morning plane trip. Anyway, since we are coming home soon, I am guessing that a lot of you will stop reading the blog, so this might be my last chance to post. Here are a few quick thoughts. And for those of you who are fair weather Kevin and Krista blog fans, I don’t even know how to post pictures on here, so you can stop reading if that is all you are looking for.
First off, this has been such an awesome and crazy trip. I will remember this forever. So many things (just about everything) were out of my control, that going in not trying to plan or have certain expectations on anything really helped. For those of you who are PAPS (is that the right lingo?), I would say that this definitely helped. Other than the meeting at the SDA where you give the final say on which kids, everything else was trying to get whatever paperwork done that somebody wanted. Things here are so inconsistent, you are at the mercy of whomever wants whatever paperwork that they want. Our judge wanted some things that most judges don’t even care about, but it doesn’t do any good to complain about it, what they want is what they get, and we were doing this for the kids, so you just do it. ( A side thought for you PAPS, I thought most the time Krista was spending reading so many other blogs or reading FRUA was a waste of time until we got here. In our SDA appointment when they were reading all of the health problems, I had no idea what was an actual serious problem and what was something that was so minor they shouldn’t bothered even mentioning it. Had I been there without her, I would have freaked out and probably would have come home with nothing. She really knew her stuff and it helped a lot. Kostya was awesome and I would 100% completely recommend him to anyone thinking about adopting here in Ukraine. At the same time, it was also nice that Krista was familiar with so many other peoples’ stories that she was able to give me a second voice saying that everything was fine and that all of these different things have happened to other people.)
Second, I love my kids. (I guess that probably should have been first) I didn’t think I would bond this fast with them. Each day is better and better with them. We have so many habbits that we need to break with them that it is going to take quite a while to have them behaving the way we want them to. They have been raised by other people up until now, so they don’t have the same morals and behavior as they would if we had raised them from birth. If your kids are not good at whining, send them over for just an hour, we will have them reaching new levels.
Here are a few other random thoughts on the trip. Until you don’t have one, you would never realize how much you would miss a shower curtain. I am so sick of McDonald’s after the past 2 days, I don’t think I will ever eat there again. It was just so quick and convenient. Alina says that I have “little muscles” compared to Kostya’s “big muscles”. Pushing 4 kids on the swings every day is changing that. I have taken the 4 to the part by myself the last 3 days and my body is beat up. For you PAPS, the light blue Bonaqua bottles are “no gas”, not carbonated. The dark blue is. I never knew on the other brands of water which was which, so we bought Bonaqua the whole trip. Taxi rides – everything you might have read about how crazy the taxi drivers are is completely true. Sasha here in Kiev is great, but once you get out of the major city, there pretty much aren’t any rules for driving. They are amazing at turning a two lane road into three lanes. If you really want to lose 10 pounds, adopt kids in Ukraine. It is not that the food is bad, but there were so many times that you were doing things and you had no idea how long it was going to take. There were days where we didn’t eat lunch or dinner because we were so busy trying to get stuff done. At least now some of my shorts will fit me again. If I have to watch Lion King 2 in Russian one more time…..
Thanks again everyone for your prayers and emails during this long trip. They were definitely needed. The emails were great, it was a way of brining a little piece of home with you by being able to talk to everyone. Our 20 some hour trip home is about to begin. Please pray that the kids are ok on the plane. I think once we are on it and we take off, they will be fine. The suspense leading up the that is what is going to freak them out.

More Time to Post!

Everyone went to bed early (well early for us, anyway) and so I am taking time to sneak in another post. I am actually pretty sad to be going home tomorrow. I have really enjoyed my time here and this country and the wonderful people here will always hold a special place in my heart. Hopefully we will bring the kids back when they are older. We have felt very at home here and we will be forever grateful to so many warm and caring people here who helped us along the way. Our children should be very proud to call themselves Ukrainian-Americans.

A few funny things I don't want to forget so I am typing up here:

Alina has done so well with her language acquisition it is amazing. She pretty much understands anything I say to her. We read each other very well and we are able to get idea across through just charades and words. I don't think we have used pictures since before Kevin came back from America. Here are a few funny things that have happened in the process of her using and interpreting English:

When we were still in Lugansk we had to do laundry by hand. When Julian came home with us he brought some clothes with him. Alina sorted the clothes into a pile of dirty clothes and a pile of clean clothes. She pointed to each pile and told me, "wash your hands" and "nyet wash your hands." I guess she got the wash part right. ;)

The other night at dinner Alina finished up early. She started to get up and walk out of the room and so I called her back and tried to explain that we would all stay around the table until everyone finished eating. I kind of leaned over and motioned to the whole group. Somehow there was a miscommunication and she thought I meant she needed to curtsey and say "thank you" to everyone. (Like, thank you for allowing me the pleasure of your company while I ate.) I was laughing too hard to correct her so that is what she has done every day since and now all the kids do it. I am not sure when I will tell them to stop. It is hilarious.

When we would bring the kids snacks at the orphanage we always had them say, "more please" if they wanted more. Lily says "more please" any time she wants anything. If she is going to hand me something she won't let me have it until I say, "more please." (She says, "more clease" actually.) We also have them say "let me see" if they want to see the picture we took on the digital camera. Sometimes when she feeds you something she makes you say, "let me see" before you can have any.

When we first started teaching the kids their names we called them by a combination of both (we are still in this stage for Julian and Alina). We called Lily, Lily-Ilona. I was teaching her to say... My name is Lily-Ilona. She is always telling me to say, "My name is Lily-Mama."

Julian is still just learning the basics so he hasn't had many funny things to say yet. Tate mostly just repeats what you say or chatters away in Russian as if we understand him. He still makes us laugh all the time though.

More pictures:

Alina's bed. She had the top bunk. Probably because she was the oldest.

This was Julian's bed when he lived at Lugansk Orphanage #1.

This picture is totally random but it makes me laugh because one of Lily's detsky dom mama's posed it. She was all upset about the way Kevin ended up holding the alligator so her hand ended up in this picture. :D

Then we went downstairs for Tate's party. We dressed him in a cute outfit that Jeff and Melissa sent for him but on of his detsky dom mamas tucked his short in too far and pulled his pants up to the high heavens when we weren't looking. This is the way his clothes were always on him at the orphanage too. He loved his party and so did all his little friends.

With some of his buddies.

With his whole groupa and Mama Svieta. Notice how tiny he is compared to the other kids his age?

Mama Svieta was his favorite detsky dom mama. The first night he cried for her. He always asks to see her picture on the computer. He talks to her and waves at the computer. How sweet is that? I am so glad he had a mama to take care of him that he loved so much. I suspect she may be the one who hiked up his shorts though. ;)

His little bed is the one in the corner. It looks like he was lucky to be by the heater in the winter time.

Saying goodbye to Leeza and Leeza. :( Poor Alina-Sophia. She loves those cats so much. The black and white one was her best friend in the world, I am pretty sure.

They are the sweetest, most patient, cuddly cats you will meet. I am more of a dog person but I am so glad these two cats brought my daughter so much happiness, joy, and love. Alina plays that she is a cat all the time. She loves to eat like a cat and walk like a cat. The way she chews her food is so funny. She must really have studied them. I caught her practing cat moves she was copying the other day while watching The Lion King. SO funny. She bawled when Simba's dad died. Poor little thing. I almost forgot to mention that she told me she doesn't want to be called Alina, Alina-Sophia, or Sophia. She wants to be called "Cat-Leeza," Oh my!

Saying goodbye to the detsky dom and so many of the people who we will never forget!

We went home and ate lunch together and then walked to a church in the pouring rain because Julia wanted to have a priest bless the kids. I thought that was a very special and sweet thing for her to do.

We were soaked. Papa took the older two to the acrade and I gave the two little ones their first bath. They loved it. They played until I made them get out because they were cold. At the detsky dom I think bath were quick and maybe not even warm. I have heard horror stories about kids hating baths because of it. Not my four. They call scream with excitement when you tell them it is time for a "coopatsa." They will love our huge tub at home and all the bath toys we have for them. They have played for hours with just water bottles.

And then there were four kids in the bed! Julian ended up moving to the floor of the bedroom before they all fell asleep. He likes his sleep and his brother and sisters were just too giggly for him I guess. They are all good sleepers but he loves his sleep the most. He likes to sleep in, like his mama!

Okay, I will have to finish the rest of the trip (train ride and Kiev) once we are home. I have to put the surprises in the kids backpacks for tomorrow and get a few hours of sleep. Wish us luck with the long journey. The kids are so excited and a little anxious too. I know they will just love being home though. It was so cute because Alina told the guy giving our exit interview at the U.S. Embassy yesterday that she was coming home to a beautiful home with her family and Keaton. :)

By the way, if you are coming to the airport tomorrow afternoon to meet us I would love it if someone could snap a few pictures from that end. I am not sure what shape the kids will be in when we arrive. We are leaving our apartment here at 4 in the morning. We get into Charlotte at 3:30 in the afternoon which is 10:30 at night in Ukraine. They are going to be so tired and I am not sure if anyone will sleep on the plane. Hopefully the excitement will over-ride the exhaustion and they will be in a good mood.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Trying to Catch Up...Still!

There is only one way to catch up... I have to stay up later than everyone else, download hundreds of pictures, sort through them, post them, and then caption them. This will be another picture post.

By the way, we finished up at the U.S. Embassy today so we will definitely be home on Thursday! Our flight leaves here very early in the morning on Thursday, we have a few hours of layover in Munich, and then we get to Charlotte at about 3:30 in the afternoon! Home! The kids are so excited. They can't wait for the plane. Lily says she is a little scared, but excited about the plane. The older two can't wait. I bet Tate will be scared, but he goes with the flow so if we all act cool then he will too. The kids are going to be so tired when we arrive. It will be 10:30 at night for them and they will have woken up at about 4 in the morning. By the time we get through immigration/customs stuff and then get home and get acquainted with the house... who knows! We would LOVE to have anyone who wants to meet us at the airport. The kids will be tired and so will we but we can't wait to introduce them to everyone. Email me if you would like to know our flight info.

Picking up where I left off...

Next morning Julian Edik (what we are currently calling him in the name transition) is greeted by some of the orphanage mamas who can't believe how big he is! Poor kid had lipstick kisses all over his face. :D

Alina helps serve the food to her groupa for her party. For some reason she did not want to actually join them for the party, she wanted to be the hostess. :)

Then the four of us moved next door to Lily's groupa. Alina-Sophia explains to Lily what is happening. I think that it was a special moment for the sisters. I know she told her about the train, Kiev, the airplane, and going home with us forever. Lily was so excited. She kept running up to me and smiling and giving me the tightest, longest hugs. She is such a sweetie. I brought her a new dress to wear that Alina and I picked out for her. She put it on and joined her group. She loved her party!

Some of her cute little friends. You see all these sweet little faces every day when you visit the orphanage. They call you mama and run to tell your kids that their mama is their to see them. You wish you could take them all home.

Washing her hands for the last time in a little sink.

Drying her hands on her towel. That is her toothbrush and cup above it. Each child is assigned a color and shape and their things are labeled with that symbol. Even the littlest kids who can't read know which things are theirs.

On her bed. This little room reminds me of Madeleine. "In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines..."

This is her little locker. The kids all have one. The room just before the main room where they play and eat is kind of a mud room where they hang their coats and keep their slippers and anything they might own. Hers usually contained the little Keaton dog we brought her and a few things Alina gave her. Alina gave away most of her things to her friends. :)

Maybe tomorrow I will actually finish catching up! We love you all and miss everyone. We can't wait for you to meet the kids. They are so much fun and such sweet kids. They are changing every day and becoming more and more comfortable in our family. It is so neat to watch.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


We have been on the go with no time to blog the last few days. Sorry about that. We are now in Kiev and finishing up our final steps before we can go home. We arrived this morning on the train. Our apartment in Kiev is really nice. It is walking distance to a beautiful park, lots of shopping, and is almost right above Gloria Jean's (coffee house with an American menu). We spent the day playing in the park, doing laundry (no more laundry in the bathtub, we have a washer), and playing in the spacious apartment. I was telling Kevin that hide and seek is much more fun here, Our tiny one bedroom apartment in Lugansk had about three places to hide, but we played everyday anyway, Here there are lots of new spots and we have some clever kids! They have really enjoyed the city so far. I figured out that if I set the computer near the window that we get WIFI. I am sitting up on the window ledge updating the blog and everyone else is asleep, or sleepy-sleepy as our kids call it. One time Kevin said "sleepy-sleepy" to Alina and it stuck. They all think going to bed is called "sleepy-sleepy" and eating is called "yum-yum." Even Kostya said "sleepy-sleepy" today. :)

On Thursday we picked up the two little ones from the orphanage. We had a party for each groupa. Alina's, Ilona's, and Igor's. We brought juice, cake, candy, chips, and orange slices. Edik joined in Alina's party since we really didn't get to do this at his orphanage. Taking him back to Luganask Orphanage #1 was a reunion for him. We even got pictures by his old bed, etc. So it was special for him as well. Then it was time to go. It was hard to say goodbye to so many wonderful people and the "family" our children have lived with for so long. There are many very wonderful people working there. Our children love their caregivers and we were always very welcome and comfortable when we visited. Everyone made us feel very at home there. The orpanange director himself is adopting a child from the orphanage, so you know he has a heart for the kids. As we drove away in the taxi Alina cried a little bit. I think it was a mix of sadness and excitement and I am glad that she let a few tears fall. Before long we were "home." The kids have had so much fun together. It is so neat that they have each other. They all love playing together and it is so fun to see their faces with each new little thing.

They loved the train ride and they did really well. Kevin brought backpacks for each of them and we filled them with surprises. It kept them busy the whole time. They loved the train. They all stuck their heads out the window and said "paka" (goodbye) to Lugansk. They slept pretty well (Igor fell off his bed once and Ilona woke up once as well) and they were so happy to be in Kiev this morning. We were surprised this morning to see Julia at the train station in Kiev. She happened to be there because she is traveling on vacation right now. It was a total surprise to run into her.

Tomorrow we have medicals for the kids and U.S. Embassy stuff to do. Thank you for your continued prayers and support. Alina is doing much better with Kevin already. She calls him "Pop" which I think is so cute. The kids are all doing really well. I am especially impressed with the two little ones. So much change in their little lives. Everything is new to them and they are taking it all in and having a great time doing it! Alina is such a good helper. She is a great translator for our family. I can't believe how much English she understands. Of course Kostya is a huge help to us! He does everything from helping with the kids, to preparing us lunch, to doing all the work we hired him for. ;) We have been very happy with him the whole time. He always impresses us with his hard work and efficiency. Please pray for Edik. We have only just begun to get to know him and he is still getting to know us as well. The language barrier there is huge. He is used to being with the older kids so he can be pretty tough and a little aggressive. He is such a cute and sweet boy though. I am hoping that he realizes soon that he can trust us and that he doesn't have to act to tough with his family. I think since he has been with a group of mostly teenagers he had to grow up fast to keep his head above water. We are praying he realizes he is still a kid and it is safe to be a kid in our family.

And a bunch of pictures. I haven't uploaded them in a couple days, but here are some from a few days ago:

Just because it's cute, here is Alina and Kevin playing Barbies.

Meeting Edik for the second time.

He says goodbye to his friends through the windows.

And we are a family of four!

We leave...

and the craziness starts!

It wasn't all the kids.

Don't even ask. ;)

You are only as cool as your dinosaur pajamas. (Thanks Uncle Jeff and Aunt Melissa!)

Finally settled in bed. They are so happy to be together!