Monday, January 26, 2009

babushka and dadushka

I'll spare you some of the ugly times we experienced at the customs when entering into USA but it certainly wasn't a short process. However, what kept my overly tired boys going was the knowledge that they would soon meet babushka and dadushka! They had seen their pictures in our photo album and always wanted to identify them.

Well my father had arrived when the plane landed and waited an hour and a half for us then decided that we must have missed our plane and returned home. So he was certainly suprised when I called asking for a ride home in his van. Ruslan and Valik waited as best they could. The pointed at every woman walking around the airport saying "babushka?" Finally they arrived? Two little kids sprinted down the aisle and lept into their arms. I could tell how happy my mother and father were to meet them. Dad gave each of them a pair of sunglasses, which they had been asking us for since Lugansk! A big hit! They even wear their glasses to bed!

Arriving home was so much fun. They wandered around our house amazed at the size of it. I thought they'd fall right to sleep, but no. They are so curious about everything. Nick and I gave them a bath and got them into their pajamas hoping that would help get the idea into them. Then little Valik found my closet and came out to entertain the family dressed in my high heels. We finally got Ruslan and "Valentina" to lie down and end our arduous day of travel.

Monday, January 19, 2009

McDonald's is NOT Their Kind of Place

Yulia had given us directions to get to a nearby McDonald's. We thought that would be a special treat for the boys and be a welcome change in our diet.

It turns out they had no idea what McDonald's was. I figured they would know french fries, since we had eaten them in Ukraine. But I guess living in a small town like Lutugino, McDonald's and fries were a mystery to them.

We got them bundled up for a walk through the snow. It went ok for a while, but Ruslan seems to get cold easily. He wasn't that jazzed about going to a restaurant in the first place. When he saw the entrance to a place we had eaten before (a small cafe in a supermarket), he tried to pull us in there. We said no, it was a couple of blocks further. He wasn't happy with that.

After about 2 blocks, he started complaining about being cold (though that didn't seem to be an issue when he saw a Playstation 3 display in a store window). He began to get more upset as we walked about 3 more blocks. He was literally dragging his feet. We kept telling him we would have already been there if he would walk normally.

Finally, after another block we saw McDonald's. But by this time, he had gotten sullen as he tends to do. He stood at the counter moping and would not order food. I ordered him and Valik a cheeseburger

Хеппі мил (Happy Meal). The meals for 5 of us came to about $25. Not bad.

McDonald's is a happening place in Kyiv. The restaurant seats about 300, and there were about 350 people there.

We got our food and headed to the one table we were able to find available. Ruslan was too mad to eat, and Valik only eats air, so the 2 of them sat for a long time, while the rest of us ate a McDonald's meal that we actually liked. We truly have been gone for a long time.

After about 10 minutes, Ruslan tasted a french fry which he found to his liking. That and the toy slowly brought him out of his shell. He finally ate most of his cheeseburger. We got Valik to try his. He could tolerate the fries but hated the cheeseburger. He began whining for morozhena (ice cream). We bought some McNuggets and said he could only have ice cream if he ate a nugget. Eventually he did.

The boys cheered up quite a bit after they got ice cream.

As we were preparing to leave, Valik got up and wandered to a nearby table where a family was eating. I chastised him for bothering them and the mom, a pretty red-head around 30 said something in Russian. I apologized that I only spoke English. She responded in pretty good English that she was happy to have my son play with her daughter.

We explained we had adopted and only had the boy for a few days so far. She didn't understand. I said he was from a Detsky Dom (children's house). Then she understood. She asked how we liked Ukraine. I responded, "Very much". She said, "Are you crazy?"

I said maybe I hadn't seen enough then, but I was enjoying it. Besides I like pork and chicken so was enjoying the food.

After a few minutes we broke off and headed home.

It turned out ok, but had not been the treat for the boys we had hoped. I guess American cultural imperialism only goes so far.


The Great Patriotic War Museum

Well, after a nightmarish day like yesterday (1/17), we were due for a good day. And we had one, though the boys still were challenging.

Yuri took us to a museum commemorating the Great Patriotic War (aka WW II). The museum has both indoor and outdoor displays.

The outdoor stuff includes static displays of tanks, helicopters, airplanes, and even an SS missile.

The boys were able to climb into the cockpit of a helicopter from the Afghanistan War of the 1970s as well as the cockpit of a transport plane. I think the woman there said it was a DC-3, which seems odd. Not sure when that sale would have been made. I must have misunderstood her.

These were a huge hit with the boys even though it was c-o-o-l-d outside.

The museum is at the foot of a huge statue representing the Rodina (the homeland). It is roughly the size of the Statue of Liberty, or slightly higher.

The helicopter was the biggest hit. Especially since it has gun sound effects attached to the pilot’s trigger.

The boys were relatively good, though in their excitement they kept running behind the displays which was not allowed. One of the guards made a big angry display to get them to follow the rules (though it was an act. He was irritated, but pretended to be much more to scare the boys).

But running around outside was very good for them. The interior portion of the museum was more challenging. As usual, Ruslan was pretty good though not perfect. Valik was loud, defiant, and kept running away.

Still, we were able to take in a good bit about the battles against the Nazis in Kyiv. We were not able to go up into the statue as it was closed since there had been a few suicides there.

The boys, as well as Nancy and I, enjoyed climbing on the tanks of love, or whatever they call it. Colin was disgusted that hippies had apparently invaded Ukraine, though in a way he was glad to see they are not only in the US.

We had a very cold walk back up the hill to make a brief visit to a very old (~1000 years) Orthodox church. The boys bought a candle and put it in their display (I don’t know the terms, as I don’t know anything about rituals). Nancy and I bought 2 hand-painted icons (of Jesus and Mary). They were painted by the local monks. We got them for about $25, which is less than the frames would have cost back home.

After, we wanted to tour more, but given the cold, we felt it best to head back home.

We had intended to go to the TGI Fridays nearby to get some American food. But we decided it would be too late to get the boys to bed. Instead, we cooked some food and watched Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with the boys. They liked the way we sang along with all the songs and hummed along as if they knew the tunes.

We are beginning to see that these boys need activity to burn off lots of energy. It’s amazing the amount of energy Valik has given that the boy does not eat.

All in all, a good day, and an answer to prayer after the previous day’s nightmare.

Catch Up #4: Final Adoption Steps in Kyiv

We got to our new flat in Kyiv, and threw our bags in. I took 10 minutes to shave and clean up a bit, but there was no time to unpack or shower.

We scrambled off in moments to the American Embassy, leaving Colin and Claire at the homestead.

I have to admit, it was nice to be on American soil, if only briefly, and not feel self-conscious about speaking English.

Ruslan and Valik really enjoyed the security check, especially being wanded for metal. I don't think they knew what was going on, but they thought it was cool.

I miss my workouts at home. The door there must have about 3 inches of glass, and was hard to open.

The people there were very nice and helpful. Nothing like the typical bureaucrat. They went over each form I had to fill in in detail and gave me a new one without grumbling when I made a mistake. Kudos to the State Department (FYI: this was pre-Clinton tenure).

They also were flexible in setting a Visa appointment for that afternoon. We were trying to get our medical exam that day and return, but were unsure of the time. They gave us a tentative appointment and said just to call if we could not make it. Wow. I've never had a government process work so well (and I don't think anyone who knows me has ever heard me compliment a government agency).

After filling out gobs of paperwork and paying $800 fee for the 2 boys, we ran off to some hospital that is blessed for medical exams. I think this means they are Western-trained, but it may be that they just have met some government standards. Not sure really.

The doctor was a very nice woman around 50-55 years old. I have never seen a doctor spend so much time in an appointment. We were there for about 1 1/2 hours.

Valik misbehaved terribly while the doctor discussed the existing medical records with us. He kept grabbing things from her desk and around the office. He pulled items off the wall and kept putting things like coins in his mouth. He would not respond to our requests or demands and laid on the floor when he didn't get his way.

However, when the doctor began her exam, he straightened right up. He obeyed all her commands and was good about letting her exam him. He did giggle a good bit. He is a boy after all. He also answered all her questions and did the best he could at identifying words and letters and counting. He can count to 10 and knew a few letters, but that is all.

Her opinion of him initially was quite negative, but as she did her exam and saw him respond she saw that he was not slow, just hyperactive (which we already knew of course). She was able to dispel a few diagnoses in his official (and quite sparse) medical records. She also noted a problem with his adenoids (a simple fix) and a curvature of his little finger, suggesting some neglect at an early age. We hadn't noticed that but it was consistent with what we know of his upbringing (which I would rather not go into here).

After his exam, Yulia (thankfully) took him to sit with her, and the doctor examined Ruslan.

His health is good. She was not pleased with his reading and math knowledge (which is to say, none at all). But it appears that this is more due to the education he has received so far rather than his ability.

She wrapped up saying that she didn't really see why we were adopting since we already had two children. She said that our biological children should come first before the new boys. Apparently, she shares the typical (so we are told) Ukrainian bias against adopted children. Obviously, we disagreed and said all our children are equal.

After the exam, Nancy and Yulia took the boys to the hospital cafeteria for some soup and barley while I waited for the medical package (required for the embassy) and paid for the exam ($220 for both boys).

The medical exam is actually for the benefit of immigration and not for us. They really just want to see if there are any communicable diseases and such (there are not).

Afterward, we returned to the embassy in time for our 2:30 appointment.

Again, the staff was very kind, while Valik was not. He kept pressing the call button for the staff, was very loud, threw himself limp to the floor, and yelled obscenities. It was not pleasant. (FYI, Ruslan was not perfect, but in comparison was very good).

We apologized to the staff for the names they were called. One woman came to the counter and told him in Russian that they do not allow little boys who use such language to come to America. I don't think he bought it. I guess he has seen American television. But it was a valiant effort on her part.

We had to wait about 20 minutes for visa processing which was good, because usually they only give it to you after 24 hours.

They came to the window with 2 sealed packets, one for each boy. We are to give these to INS agents at the airport in Charlotte when we arrive. They are to remain sealed. We then found out that the only copy of the medical report is in there.

Explaining that to the woman at the embassy, she offered to break the packet open and make a copy for us. Again, great service.

With that, and after a tired day, we were now finished with the adoption process in Ukraine and were ready to leave.

But we wanted to stay a few days to sight see in Kyiv, since we weren't able to at the beginning of the trip.

We went back to the flat to get cleaned up and settled in. After all, we still were wearing the same clothes we wore in Lugansk and on the train.

Catch Up #3: Overnight Train to Kyiv

01/15/09: We decided it would be best to split the boys up given our experience the prior night. Ruslan wanted to sleep with me, so Colin, Ruslan, and I shared a cabin. Nancy, Claire, Natasha, and Valik shared the other.

Of course, sharing the cabin only applies to the actual sleeping time. At all other times, the boys were moving so fast between one cabin and the other that I think they actually bent the laws of time and space and coexisted in each simultaneously once or twice.

Ruslan and Valik wanted the upper berths down and moved up and down every 30 seconds, then back and forth to the other cabin. Meanwhile, Colin, Claire, and I would sneak bites of chips and sips of Coca Cola Light while the boys weren't looking (else there would have been constant begging for some for them). That may not be completely fair, but they are little, and I say Rank Has Its Privileges.

[As wild as our ride was, it was still tame compared to Natasha's New Year's Eve train to Kyiv. The festivities apparently went on long and hard to the extent that the woman who sells track in the cabins got extremely drunk and threw up. Glad we missed that one.]

We decided to try to get the boys to bed as early as possible, so we went at about 6pm to the dining car. Then the fun began.

The dining car was about 8 cars away from ours. That means we had to navigate through about 48 doors and cross 8 car junctions. That is a challenge as the little catwalk is narrow and the gaps at the side are big enough for the boys legs to slip through. And then, the cars turn opening and closing the gaps, and potentially crushing little legs. OSHA would have a field day.

We started off well for about 3 cars. But then Valik decided he no longer wanted to hold hands. He refused to do so, and then started yelling and flopped down on the floor of the car. We sent Colin, Claire, and Ruslan along with Natasha, while Nancy and I returned to our cabin with Valik screaming all the way.

Nancy held him tight for about 10 minutes. That calmed him down (though he hates it).

We returned and ate a very messy meal. I had a very good pork chop. Valik, as usual, would not eat at first, but eventually ate a few bites.

We split the boys up for the evening. Ruslan was in the bunk across from me. He kept playing with the volume on the radio and turning the lights on and off. However, after several admonishments, he hummed himself to sleep.

As before the train got horribly hot until about 1am. Probably over 90 degrees. Then they turned the heat off, so by the time we woke up at 6am, it was almost comfortable. Other than a few bathroom emergencies, it was pretty uneventful.

We arrived at Kyiv at about 8:30am, caught up with Yulia and Yuri and crammed our bags and us into 2 cars and made our way to our way to our flat.

Catch Up Note: Last Day in Lugansk

I resolved to get up early and slip into Ruslan's room so as to not have him go into a jealous frenzy first thing in the morning.

Valik is a squirmy sleeper, and the bed we were on (where Colin and Claire had been sleeping) is very thin with about very sharp springs. Further, no one in Ukraine seems to have fitted sheets, so the sheet kept slipping off. And I am like the protagonist in "The Princess and the Pea" (or "Once Upon a Mattress" for you Carol Burnett fans) when it comes to irritants in the bed. So I didn't sleep so well after going to bed at 2am after completing my blogging.

Valik woke up at about 6am singing to himself. He likes to sing when he is happy. It's really nice, though I would have enjoyed it even more at about 8am. Before long, he realized I was in bed with him and we snuggled up for about 45 minutes.

We started playing the "Ya teb-yah loo-bleu" (I love you) game. He would say "Ya teb-yah loo-bleu", to which I would say "Eee Ya teb-yah loo-bleu", to which he would say "Eee Ya teb-yah loo-bleu", to which I would say "Eee Ya teb-yah loo-bleu", etc. etc. This wen ton for about 5 minutes.

Then he decided to wake up Ruslan. He left the room before I could stop him. I slipped in to Ruslan's room to minimize the damage. I was wrong. There was no memory of the problems the night before. He was as happy as a clam (and we all know that's the happiest animal in phylum mollusca, so I think you can envision it).

The boys are great in the mornings. Nancy works with them to make breakfast each morning, and they love it. One of their favorite things in the world to do is to make scrambled eggs. They take the shell and smash about half of them, but the other half make it into the bowl to stir. Of that, about another half makes it into the pan. But the eggs have been very good. I think they have a knack for cooking.

We spent a couple of hours packing, which was no small chore. We don't have that much stuff, but had been crammed into a small apartment for a month, with a tiny washer, and no dryer. Things just migrate around the place, so collecting them took a while.

Nancy left for a couple of hours, and honestly I can't remember where. I think she went to look at furs with Natasha and Claire, but can't recall. I like to block that sort of thing from my memory. Meanwhile I took care of the boys.

We tried reading the grinch, going over the Disney English book, and stuff like that. there were a few incidents but not too bad. I recall Natasha calling to ask how things were (she had been staying in a separate place since returning from Kyiv for New Year's / Christmas). and telling her there had been a few incidents, but all told the boys were doing well and behaving pretty well. And that was true.

But as the day went on, things wore down. We were mostly done packing, but still somewhat preoccupied since we had to get to the train station for our 4:40pm train to Kyiv. The boys began shouting and kicking at each other, taking offense and swinging fists at each other for minor things, and we found out more about Valik's gift for speaking in tongues (that's the nice way to put it). By the time Nancy got home, I was worn out. She took the boys out to take out trash (one of their favorite pastimes) and to go on the swings. that gave me a chance to finish the final packing details and get a bite to eat.

After that, I had to get cash to pay Peter and Sergei for the past week's driving as well as for the train ticket to Kyiv. I got about $500 worth of hryvnia at 8.50 to the dollar. I also got a few last minute groceries to take with us on the train. Unfortunately, I forgot that we needed to pay Peter for the train tickets he had picked up the prior night while we had our going away party at the orphanage. The train had been sold out, but they were able to speak to the station manager who just happened to have a couple of sleeper cabins reserved. We got two cabins (4 beds each) for $260 (a fair amount above the going rate, but greatly appreciated nonetheless).

So I didn't have enough hryvnia to pay Peter all I owed him, but I just worked out the difference and paid him in dollars. I also paid Nikolai for 15 days at the flat at $75 / day.

All in all, we have been spending about $150 - 160 a day between lodging, food, and transportation. Food has been less expensive than expected, lodging a bit more (versus about $60 we had expected) and transportation about $50-60 a day (versus about $30-40 expected). Fortunately, we brought more money than we thought we would need.

Nikolai and Nadia dropped by to collect their money and to say goodbye. They were great with the kids, though I think they were a bit shocked by their behavior. The boys had been cooped up in the flat most of the day and were getting more and more moody. When we took our good-bye picture, Ruslan was in a mood and refused to get in the shot.

We gave our little birch Christmas tree to Nikolai and Nadia and invited them to stay with us in Charlotte should they ever visit. They are the nicest couple. Especially Nikolai, who seems like the nice next door neighbor who would have visited Mr. Rogers in the Land of Make-believe. We were glad to avoid an issue with their gift as we were concerned that Nancy might have inadvertently given them the Christmas gift I gave to her (meaning Nancy). I bought her a little art-decoish / arts & craftsish candlestick statue. We had it out on the table by the tree the day after Christmas. When he stopped by Nadia looked at it and asked (in Russian) what it was. Nancy told her it was a Christmas gift. Her eyes got big and she called Nikolai, and they said "spaseeba". Nancy smiled and nodded. I suddenly realized they must have thought it was a gift for them, but didn't have enough Russian to explain the situation at the moment. We had been living in dread that they would want to keep it. Fortunately, all seemed ok in the end.

We gave Peter (who is Nikolai and Nadia's son, as well as one of our drivers) a Carolina Panthers cap as well as an LED flashlight. We had to explain to him who the Panthers were (and after their drubbing by Arizona, I don't think we were at risk of him finding out who they were otherwise). We gave Sergei a Gerber all-in-one pair of pliers (you know, the Swiss army knife type of thing).

At about 3:45, we began loading the car, finally leaving at about 4:15. I was worried about making the train, but we were able to make it on board with about 5 minutes to spare. The only thing I had wanted to get but could not was a show of the Lugansk train station.

No matter. We got our bags put away, just in time to head off to Kyiv.

[Again, pictures will be added later.]

Catch Up Note: Arrival in Lugansk

We crammed into 2 cars to go from Lutugino to Lugansk (Sergei, Nancy, Me, Ruslan, and Valik in Sergei's car; Peter, Colin, Claire, and Natasha in Peter's). We had arranged to meet the MacDonalds' at New York Pizza (in the basement of the Lugansk City Centre mall), a favorite of the MacDonalds, for dinner.

The boys started started out very talkative. They spoke to Sergei since he could understand. They were very excited, but still somewhat worried we were taking them to America to kill them (this came up once during the ride). It is terrible that this rumor goes around, but I have heard of it in several blogs I have read. But be real, if I were going to kill someone, I wouldn't spend $30K to do so.

They started to get more quiet, mainly because the road to Lugansk is very dark and there wasn't much to look at. They were fascinated by the graphics on Sergei's radio, so that provided some entertainment.

We eventually saw Peter's car ahead of us. So Valik started yelling "Natasha!" as loud as he could, as if she could hear us from 100 yards away, and with all the windows closed. Speaking of windows, they did like rolling the windows down, but were pretty good about rolling them up when we started moving.

We arrived at New York Pizza just in time to meet the MacDonalds. We ordered several pizzas and juice. They were very excited about that. They also enjoyed meeting all the MacDonald kids. They were relatively good during dinner, at least if we held them. Except that Valik has absolutely no fear of strangers and kept striking up conversations with people at other tables. Fortunately, he is very charming when he does this, so no one seemed to mind. Of course, we head it off as soon as possible too.

After about an hour, Valik was beginning to melt down, so we decided it was time to head out. Valik walked around the restaurant saying "Da svedaniya" to each table, and to those at the nearby store. he also swiped some (fortunately, complimentary) candy from a jar in a store, but the clerks said it was ok.

Colin and Claire went with the MacDonalds back to our flat, while Nancy, Ruslan, Valik, and I waited for Peter to drive us back. While we were waiting, the boys decided to ride the escalators over and over. That was fine, until Valik fell down on the up escalator. He fell down about 4 steps. Fortunately he was wrapped up so tight in his shirt, sweater, coat, hat, and scarf (think Randy "I can't put my arms down" from "A Christmas Story"), that he just rolled down, and there wasn't a scratch on him. Still it gave us all quite a scare for a moment. He just stood there catatonic for a minute, then snapped back, and rode again. I took one picture, but then was scolded by a security officer for taking a picture in their facility, so I put it away.

Then, all of a sudden, Ruslan starts jumping up and down, yelling "Pee-sit", so we had to find a bathroom ASAP. Ruslan, like most children never has to use the bathroom until it is suddenly an emergency. Since we were in a mall, we were able to get directions "Gdye tooalyet?" to a bathroom and all was well. Crisis averted.

Peter pulled up soon after and we rode back to the flat for the last time. We said our goodbyes to the MacDonalds, and discussed details of making on on-going contribution to the orphanage through them.

The boys were very impressed with the flat, and ran around excited for about 45 minutes. Then as a special welcome home treat, we put on the DVD of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas". You will recall we had read that to them on the second day at the orphanage. They remembered the story and enjoyed it immensely, even though they could not understand it.

[Ruslan has "read" this story to me several times. Actually, Ruslan can barely read. In this case, he just looks at the pictures and tells the story in a very dramatic voice about the "Gdintch". Its funny. i have no idea what he is saying, but every page has him saying "shoo-shoo-shoo" in a very sing-song voice.]

Then came the long negotiation of who sleeps with whom. We had not intended to do this though. We put the boys in the living room, with Valik on the sofa and Ruslan on two chairs pushed together. Well the boys were a couple of monkeys, and kept yakking and playing and pushing the chairs over to the sofa. Then they would come bounding out of the room with one excuse or another. We used to go through this with Colin and Claire a lot. The first few times, we are very nice about reminding them that it's bedtime. Each time they come out, it gets a little less pleasant in tone.

Finally, we decided to separate the two. Valik had been acting up, so we removed him from the room and put him in our bed. big mistake. I think Ruslan saw this as Valik being rewarded even though Valik had misbehaved. So Ruslan had a fit and started yelling. I have no idea what it was, but I don't think it is something you would say in church. After a bit of yelling, it just became loud complaining. Nancy went in to lie down with him and "shhh" him. He literally complained for 1 hour and 15 minutes (no kidding). Finally, he started sort of humming his complaint a bit softer until he fell asleep. Ruslan is a great kid, and usually pretty even-tempered. But he has a hair-trigger fuse. It seems random to me.

Eventually, after doing some blogging, I went in and slept with Valik. I decided I would get up early, so I could get in bed with Ruslan before he woke up so as to limit any further collateral damage.

Day 1 with the boys....

By the way, I still intend to add pictures to this and earlier blogs. However, that will have to be later. Each picture takes about a minute to format to smaller size (from 3MB to about 40KB for the web), so time is an issue. Sorry.

Pray for Patience...

I'll catch up the blog soon, but must jump ahead somewhat. I have been unable to blog as I have had no free time at all since the boys came home. The few times I tried to get on the computer, they were all over it, so typing was not possible. I have a few minutes now.

In so many ways the boys are wonderful. They are happy, want to please, curious, and energetic. They care for us greatly. Early mornings are always great. I know, too, that adopting these particular boys was God's will.

However, they have so many bad habits, are unresponsive to our authority, and tend to have tantrums. Colin's comment about foul language is absolutely true. I'll elaborate later.

It is not all negative. Please don't take that away from what I am writing. We have fun, and it is great to watch their excitement at so many things.

But I do need your prayers for patience. I notice that they are beginning to respond better. Unfortunately, my fuse also has gotten shorter. I am getting irritated far sooner than I did the other day, and don't want my attitude to show to the boys or to take away the joy that we have in this process.

Boys are back. More later.


Hi all,

I've discovered a new form of discipline that has been efective with Valik. It's called holding, and i read about this years ago when i was studying for my masters in special ed. Basically when a child is out of control, you take them to a chair and sit them on your lap and hold them until they quiet down. Now the first time I tried this, he fought me and yelled. But now after practicing this for a few days, it is amazing the positive results we've achieved. He quieted down immediately the last two times I tried this! Then we sit quietly for about 5 minutes and when he's done he rejoins the family and all is well. We don't speak each others language, so just quieting him has been real helpful. I'm trying to teach this technique to Nick, because he really knows how to push Nicks buttons. However, I don't have as many buttons to push right now. For example, I am not correcting bad table manners yet. I have more important lessons to teach before I get to that. I just have to remind myself that they are orphans who have picked up a lot of bad behaviors over the past few years.

When I hold Valik or Ruslan, I take that time to pray over them. I ask the Holy Spirit to send him peace and serenity. I also ask Him for our son to be obedient and learn English quickly. Stuff like that. You know, when it comes to bad behaviors, all the different techniques like ignoring, time out, holding, and all the others all have their proper place in child rearing. The trick is figuring out which is most effective. So as for me, right now, holding plus a lot of praise for good behavior works best.

love to all,


In response to Colin

Hi, Mom here.

Colin is wrong, they make eye contact with us all the time. They look down and don't want to make eye contact when we scold them. This is fairly common and doesn't alarm me.
The boys have been very excited living with us. Yes they pulled the cord out from the TV because they didn't know how to fix it or something. we have talked to them about this through the translator. personally, I just think Colin has n't forgiven them for disrupting the TV. I tend to agree more with Claire's assessment of the situation. Does Colin really expect small orphan boys to behave perfectly? I don't and never did. I have faith that the Lord will answer my prayers and soon they will be a great addition to our family.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Well we're just about finished here and I'm so excited! The boys (when they're not completely out of control) are very sweet. They do have some very wonderful qualities about them liked making theirs and helping with others beds in the morning, they always clean up after themselves, and they are wonderful at sharing. They enjoy spending time with us which is nice and are very quickly becoming a super addition to our family. I can't wait for everyone to meet them!
Love you guys,

The first few days


I really mean it wow...
These boys are a real trouble. I knew this would be hard, but wow. They cuss (in Russian) all the time, hit, throw things at each other and us, disobey, run away, talk to strangers, broke the TV connection in our last flat (ripped the wire right out of the socket), can't even make eye contact, make loud annoying sounds (they are as I am typing this), have no table manners, and always complain. They laugh intensely at fart jokes and jokes of a much more crude nature.

But they can be angels though. I see them behave better when someone speaks to them in their language. Some things have no excuse but this should get easier as time goes on. They behaved really well when we watched Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on DVD. It was late and I'm sure that played a part but still.

So I see hard times ahead but I also know this is about as hard as it will get. They will just have to be locked away from the room with my Wii for a few months.

Sorry for the delay!

Hi all, we've got the boys from the orphanage and after much celebration and packing, we climbed into the train back to Kiev, only this time we needed two sleeper cars side by side.

Picking up the boys from the orphanage was like a scene from a movie. We brought them new clothing that we had bought at an open air bizarre and little suitcases too. The danced and swung their new clothing around as we showed them. Next they went back to their sleeping quarters and put everything on (and I mean everything, Ruslan returned with two turtlenecks plus a sweater, because I had sent two with him hoping he'd decide which one fit best.)

After gifts and flowers with the orphanage director we headed to their sleeping quarters and into a small delapidated classroom where we held a farewell party. I took pictures for the boys with their classmates who were all beautiful children. Before leaving to Ukraine my friend, Bob, warned me that whenever I go to the pet store I want to take all the cute animals home with me and that this would probably be worse. It was. If anyone is at all interested in adopting from here, they should hurry up and do it. These beautiful children all need a loving family.

After all the merriment, we returned to our flat in Lugansk. This was definately a riot. The boys ran around the flat saying "wow" about everything. Eventually, I went into my bedroom to change. There was a knock on the door and I turned to look and see Ruslan smiling at me. I motioned for him to close the door, and he did, only to return a second later. The door swung open with a loud "bang" and now both he and Valik were standing there amazed and smiling. I had to call for Nick to get them so I could finish dressing. Getting them to bed is a story matching this. To say the least, we finally got them to bed very late and everyone was exhausted, especially the parents. More soon.