Sunday, August 19, 2007

Here we go Again

Hi Everyone,

The day at the Embassy went well. We arrived at 9:00 AM and walked right passed all the foreiners waiting to get into a little piece of Canada. We filled out some forms then were told to come back at 4:30 to pick them up. We spent the day sightseeing with Vitaly and the kids. When we went back to the Embassy everything was ready! (I almost passed out) The lady walked me through what we had to do and made me promise to fill out the progress reports required by the Ukrainian government. It's because these reports have not been filled out by other adopting Canadians the the quota for Canadian adoptions is so low (24 this year vs. 569 in the USA, yes we got lucky). We went out for supper to celebrate.

The alarm clock went off at 3:20 AM Wakey Wakey. Then 2 groggy kids came into the bedroom to get us up and ready for the cab at 4:00AM. We must have been running late cause the driver had no problems going 150-160 km/h down the highway to the airport. We had a quick breakfastwhile waiting for the loading call. It came around 5:00 AM, as we were checking in a problem arose. Nobody at Air Canada had told Lufthansa we had changed our flights. (I hate Air Canada) After some scrambling around they got us some seats. From there it was another line for the security clearance. I knew they would be asking for additional paperwork for the kids, and had it ready. It took them another 10 minutes to clear us. We walked about 50 feet to stand in another line for a "what the hell" check, then 100 feet to stand in another line for the carry on check. We arrived at the gate as they were loading. Nicholas can see airplanes now and the kid is ecstatic! We go down some stairs and get on a bus to take us to the airplane. Well a bus is not an airplane and Nicholas started bawling, the poor little bugger cried the whole way to the airplane. We took off a 1/2 hour late because "it's Ukraine", and flew into Munich. We sat there for 2 hours with 2 grumpy, tired, and confused kids. We met some poor guy from Canada that knew Ukrainian so Nicholas tormented the poor guy all the way to Toronto. (He had the misfortune of sitting directly behind the boy.) In Toronto we had less than an hour to clear customs, go to immigration to get the kids permanent Visa's, find our luggage, and get to the gate. We didn't make it. Another flight was leaving for Winnipeg in about an hour so I didn't have the time to call Shane. (Now you have to come over for a beer next time in Wpg.) As I approached the cab the driver said hello in English I almost hugged him. Altogether we traveled for 24 1/2 straight hours. We got home at 9:00PM, and I was sleeping before 10.

The kids seem to like the house (lucky for them, it's a long walk back) They have gone through what I think is everything until Nicholas finds something else. I think I've said "Don't Touch" about a million times. We are now kid proofing the house.

From here the adventure really begins! Thanks to everyone who posted, and sent email, and those who tried and couldn't post due to some glitch. (It's Ukraine) We have stories to tell for years to come. The price is one beer per story! (I'll supply my own)



Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Getting Closer

Hi Everybody,

I’ve discovered that our kids will be just like everyone else’s. At supper last night (TGI Friday’s) I had to help the kids with their fascination with the toilet, both went 3 times. We said goodbye to Jo-anne, and Carlee who left this morning for Dauphin MB. We’ll miss their company. I’m putting this post together at 9:30PM (1:30PM in Winnipeg) Vitaly has gone to pick-up the passports at the train station. Hopefully they will be there. If we get them we have to be at the Canadian Embassy at 9:00 AM tomorrow to start the citizenship papers. Then we can plan to travel home. If all goes well we’ll be home late this weekend!

Vitaly just walked in……after a few grumpy moments he said they weren’t on the train. I was on the phone with Dad so he was getting the play by play as we again felt complete disappointment. Vitaly finally let out a laugh letting us know he had them. So on to the next step.

Tanya has turned out to be quite a dancer. She will happily bop around the apartment to any music that’s playing. Nicholas is a Shrek fan we’ve watched it several times. Bed time is always a game. Right now they share a bed in the living room (with Vitaly) so they are constantly teasing each other. Vitaly didn't seem to like going over my knee for starting some trouble.

Anyway with interuptions and other things it's 10:30, and I need some sleep. I've been fighting a cold/virus for over a week.


Monday, August 13, 2007

A Glimmer of Hope

Hi Everyone,

I guess I’ll bring you up to date on the passport issue. We got a call on Friday from Khmelnitsky that we would get a call on Saturday telling us when we could expect them. That call never came. Sunday came and went with no information I wasn’t surprised gov’t people around the world don’t work weekends. We hadn’t heard anything by 1:30 so I told Vitaly to make some calls to find out what was going on. He got nowhere so Corrine went shopping and I took the kids to a near by park. When we arrived back at the apartment Vitaly cautiously let me know he had received a call from his contact. The guy wanted another 300 Greevna to expedite the passports, and they would be ready for pick up at the end of the business day Tuesday. (I’ll believe it when they’re in my hands) So now we wait another day.

So much for the serious stuff. We’ve having a pretty good time in Kiev, sleeping on a bed has been nice. Not taking that stinking bus 4 times a day has been a relief. On one of our last bus rides we got on and I was hit with a wall of odor. I looked at Corrine and said ”MMMMMMMMMMMMMM B.O.” she laughed ½ way to the orphanage. Hot water is nice, and so is not having to use a match every time we want to use the stove. (Really the Agassiz cabin is more modern than the old apartment, and smells better.) We spent some time with Nick & Linda and their new twin boys and bade them an envious farewell on Friday evening. We’ve spent a lot of time with Jo-Anne and Carlee. Tuesday is Carlee’s 7th birthday but they will be out of the city meeting a new child so we had a birthday party on Sunday on a river tour boat. To remember to name of the river I say there’s nothing deeper than the Dniper. Corrine spent a fair amount of time trying to teach the kids “Happy Birthday”. They did pretty good. From there we headed down town Kreshadack Street is closed to traffic on weekends. The kids splashed in a water fountain designed for splashing. It’s built into the steps with large platforms! The restaurants are much better in Kiev. We had supper the 1st night at TGI Fridays, some Ukrainian buffet Friday (I won’t go back. If I want to fight with Ukrainians I can do that on the sidewalk. These people have absolutely no concept of manners. They will push their way in front of you in any line if you let them. A little yelling usually scares them off.) We also broke down and went to McDonalds. Tanya wasn’t impressed, and Nicholas ate her burger saving his for later. (Corrine chucked it) We haven’t been to a Two Geese yet there isn’t one near the apt. Our TV has one English channel BBC World (News repeated over and over) The kids have a nap every afternoon it’s a nice respite after the typical show about not being tired they usually sleep a couple hours.

I actually miss work. Who’d a thought, but we miss so many things from home and are looking forward to getting routines started for the kids. We have got a few rules established, Tanya now actually uses TP, and after a few practice runs has even started throwing it in the toilet. After meals the kids both say thank-you, and clean up after themselves. We are getting the idea of not hiding their toys when we go out into their heads. In an orphanage if you didn’t hide a prized possession it became the groupa’s.

That’s all I can think up right now. With the Harvey’s away I’m hoping Steve will blow the snow for me!


Friday, August 10, 2007

Hello from Kiev

Hi Everyone,

We're back in Kiev waiting for passports. We picked up the kids Wednesday AM hoping that the passports would be available in Kiev Thursday. They weren't so now it's sit and wait time.

When we arrived at the orphanage Nicholas spotted the new clothes and couldn't wait to get changed. Tanya is a monkey see monkey do sorta kid so she followed right along. After a few hugs and goodbyes we left the place without a tear, or backward glance. We took the train late in the afternoon and Nicholas said bye bye Khmelnitsky, and hello Kiev. I told him as we waited to board that this was his last chance to change his mind. He shook his head no "Hello Canada!"

Our new apartment is very nice. Kitchenette, hot water, dishwasher, microwave, TV, clothes washer. Corrine gave the kids a bath and was told that this was the first warm bath they had every had. I told him the water was near freezing in Canada, then took out some ice cubes and pretended to wash. He wasn't impressed.

We had supper last night with the 2 other couples that we arrived with. Nick and Linda are leaving Saturday with their twin boys. They are a pair of good looking kids very friendly, and playful. They seem to have a lot of the same character traits our kids have. We chocked it up to orphanage living. So come Sunday we'll be down to Jo-anne, and Carlee (daughter 8) to hang with along with Vitaly. Their very nice from Dauphin and still waiting for another appt. to meet a child. So I guess we don't have it so bad.

We don't know for sure when the passports will come through. We are hoping for early next week, but there are no guarantee's, once we get them we have to get citizenship papers, then grab the next flight out of here. I have played around with the comments section again trying to make it easier to post, We heard from our friends here that they were having trouble. So I hope it's working.


PS: The kids say добрий день (Good Day)

Monday, August 6, 2007

Help, we're stuck!

Hi Everyone,

The shopping went well, we got almost everything she needed, can a girl ever really have enough? The Passport people told Vitaly to come back Monday to apply for the passports so the waiting continues. Sunday was a fun day we took the kids for a ride in the country then a little visit to the city park. From there we went for a fast lunch at a Ukrainian style theme restaurant. During lunch Nicholas polished off everything he could stick a fork into. I couldn't resist telling him we don't have food in Canada, his quick reply was just get him a stove he'll make his own food. We headed back to our apartment and as we pulled up I told Nicholas that this was Canada. He wasn't impressed. After that we headed back to the orphanage for a good bye party. Everyone had a good time Corrine had bought bubbles for the whole groupa, and they were quickly ushered outside to spill the juice on the ground. We went to bed excited that this might be our last night in the Ghetto!

Monday morning arrived we started to pack hoping for the best. The phone rang it was the the passport agency "Don't bother coming in today the boss is out of town". This is Ukrainian code for be prepared for the worst. The entire judicial system is controlled by the Mafia so if you need something done you have to pay a bribe, or wait forever. I was pissed off and Corrine had a cry. They told us to go ahead to Kiev, they will forward the passports when they are ready. At this point I have learned that leaving without a document just means you have to pay to travel back to get it. So we are staying put until the passports are in hand. We still have to do some paperwork with the Canadian Embassy, and who knows how long that will take. All I can say is it's a good thing I couldn't post this morning. It wouldn't have been pleasant.
The Director of the orphanage showed up today thinking we were traveling to Kiev. We needed her to sign some more paperwork, and she wanted her donation. After the signings she wished us well telling me to be firm with the kids when they need it, and to give them hugs when they need it. Then she gave me a hug. She said the kids could stay in the orphanage as long as required, made me promise to send pictures as soon as we were settled at home, and told me we could stay at her house when we come for a visit. (I need some of whatever she has hidden in her office.)

Have I mentioned that we have been without hot water for over a week? With all the running around we didn't have time to drop clothes off at the orphanage for a wash so we're getting pretty ripe. If you want a little taste of Ukrainian living turn off your hot water tank for a week, and lock up you clothes washer& dryer for 2. As an added bonus turn off any Air Conditioning you might encounter, and if in a vehicle roll up the windows then throw the handles away so you aren't tempted to roll them down. There's nothing like boiling up a nice batch of gotch soup in the tub!

Anyway that's all for now. I'm using an internet cafe because we didn't want to waste another internet card that isn't transferable from region to region. We'll see what Tuesday brings.
PS: I posted some beggars we met here in town.


Friday, August 3, 2007

Decree Day!

Hi Everyone,

Corrine keeps asking what a Decree is so I finally told her it was a French word for “The Indian”. Anyway I’ll start on Thursday 6:30 AM Corrine was out of bed like a shot. She made coffee and was walking around the apartment singing like a bird cause she was goinshopping! We had made arrangements to pick-up Nicholas at 9:30 to take him to the market for clothes. Corrine was in her glory! We had no problems shopping Nicholas was well behaved and enjoyed the trip asking us to buy him something. It didn’t matter what as long as it was something. We all had a laugh at that. He also asked Corrine what her name was in Ukrainian. She replied, Toilet? He asked again, same reply. Now he’s getting frustrated so the volume goes up and he asks again, Corrine looking very concerned replied again Toilet? He yelled the last time only to get the same answer, then he gave up. Vitaly was splitting a gut the whole time, and as usual I was dreaming of being anywhere other than shopping. It didn’t take long for toilet and I to pick out what he needed then head back to the orphanage. Along the way he said to me “Papa toilet” so we found him a spot just off the street so the fountain of youth could gush. I spent the rest of the day in a miserable mood expecting the worst on Friday, and especially dreading what is to come regarding the passports.

Friday morning I got up then spent an hour trying to get Corrine up. (No shopping no hurry.) Vitaly left around 8:30 to pick-up the decree and then called us to be ready to go at 9:45 to go get the birth certificates. (I’m still amazed it was ready) I was dreading this because they had to come from the district that had caused us a ton of trouble in the past, and I was positive it would be a repeat, and add a few more days to our stay. We arrived at 10:30 only to discover the person we needed to see was in the hospital. (I guess another family got to her first) Her assistant was there and after a few phone calls and a few white lies we had them in hand by 3:00. We raced back to Hmelnitsky to go to the justice dept. for legalization of the cert.s, then to the notary for legal copies. THE KIDS ARE LEGALLY OURS! It was too late to apply for passports today so we hope to do that Monday. Vitaly found out at 4:45 that we need another paper from the problem area that the assistant didn’t think was important so the problems from that district continue, but Vitaly is confident he will get it Monday AM. (I hope so)

So now all we need are passports to travel to Kiev. Once we get there we apply for citizenship papers for the kids. When we get that we travel to the airport then travel to…….oh crap! I forget where we came from.

Tomorrow is Tanya’s big day at the market so Corrine will be up early and chomping at the bit to get going. Sunday we’re taking the kids to say good bye to a relative. The weekend should go past fast.

We just got a call, the district will have the documents ready today! The assistant is afraid of the extra paperwork when we are gone (Vitaly’s fib is paying off again) on Monday. She volunteered to stay late to fix the problem. We got there at 6:45 she completed the job, but it didn’t print well so she said if the dept. justice won’t accept them we can get new ones without our signature. With documents in hand we went for supper pizza, beer and wine to celebrate a good day. Afterh that wee kame hommme for some postingz and fun and then some tv ot whatever mmmmmmmmmmbeeeeer zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Yalta Part 2

I'm back,

The day we went to the castle was also the day we took a swim in the Black Sea. It was very nice, clear and warm. The people in Ukraine aren't very shy. An old lady somewhere between 70-150 years old had no problem dropping her top for a little bird bath shoreside. She also did some laundry. I forgot to thank her cause she saved us both the need and expense for lunch, and I can never look at fried eggs the same way again. Have I mentioned that there are no shortage of wild dogs and cats running around any city we've been in? Fortunately they aren't vicious or Corrine would have lost an arm trying to pat every single one she see's. There's also no shortage of men passed out on the streets, against walls, or in parks. Sometimes these worlds collide. I was walking back to the apt. one afternoon when I came across a guy who had stopped at the store for some beer and weiners. I think he must have had a few beers in him already cause he was passed out on the sidewalk with the beer pouring out, and a cat enjoying the weiners! I wish I had a camera with me.

We are fighting with both our useless travel agent and Air Canada right now trying to book our flights out of hell, but the agent seems to think phones grow on trees here, or maybe I can just stroll into the office in Frankfurt to make the changes in person. We have limited internet access, and no phone while Vitaly's away. I have asked her 3 time to do it but she is afraid to spend an extra $100.00. (Total loser) even after I have sent 3 emails and had Corrine's Dad call her. There won't be an easy step through this process.

The kids were very happy to see us when we got back. I think they thought we left without them. (Poor buggers) They seem to have grown a little so we've decided not to by any clothes until they stop. lol I'll try to post some pictures when Vitaly gets back. Until then,

Quick edit: I finally feel comfortable posting pictures of the kids. I posted our first family photo! To settle the bet Nicholas is 8 and Tanya is 5.