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We came home & had dinner (some rice & meat thing & some more “scream” for dessert) & just relaxed. Sacha leaves every night & Lena & Dima (the 22 yr. old son) sleep on pull outs in the living room. We had told translator Lena to tell them not to stay out of a room just because we were in it. We felt bad eartlier that Lena stayed in the kitchen while we were in the living room for 4 hrs.! So we all watched part of the movie “Copland”. In Russian.

So now it’s Sat. morning & Mitch is still asleep. He’s been so cute with the kids. I love hearing him call himself Papa when he talks to them. And he calls them Alek – Ruslan & Ana – Nastya to try to get them to recognize their names. The 1st day we had a lot of trouble remembering how to say Ruslan & kept calling him Rooster! I hope he doesn’t get mad when he grows up & reads this! We talked to our parents again last night (my Mom gave us her calling card before we left, I’m afraid of what the cost will be but even my Dad said don’t worry! I guess price is no object when it comes to grandchildren!) & Mitch only wanted to know how much my mom cried when she saw the pictures on the web. Actually, she was at work so my Dad printed them & brought them to her on his lunch break! Hopefully we’ll be able to send more in a few days. Every time I take out the camera, the smile leaves Aleks face & he gets this what’s that look instead! I havn’t seen Ana smile yet & she sucks her bottom lip a lot. But when she’s happy she points to everything & says “ga”. Also, if you put a flower near her, she will put her nose up to it and smell.

We got a little bit of video of them holding hands & walking around. He pulls her along & is happy as can be until she starts to pull him & he gets that pouty face again! So Mitch turned the LCD screen on the camcorder (still recording) so they can see themselves. Alek was so funny! Making faces & pointing to himself! I’m not sure Ana knew it was her. She’s much more interested in the garbage all over the play yard. She points out every piece to me when we walk.

One more thing before we start our day. I had brought my allergy medicine (Claritin D-24) to help me stay awake with the time change. I’m so glad I did & could really even use something stronger! Everything is in bloom here (although we were told they had a snow storm with 20” of snow 2 weeks ago!) & there is a lot of pollen in the air. You can’t see it like in NC from Pine trees but they have a lot of Poplar trees here. They have a lot of seeds & each one is attacched to a little piece of fluff. For about 2 weeks, the whole country is filled with this fulff blowing around everywhere! It must have started right before we got here. Everytime we go out, I feel like I’m walking or driving inside of a souvineer snow globe of Ukraine!

10:00 pm (3:00 pm home time)

We had breakfast (2 eggs, french fries, bread with melted cheese, cucumbers & tomatoes) & then waited for translator Lena & driver Sergi. They got here ˝ late because Lena’s train got derailed, a common occurance as she put it.

At the orphanage, we went for Alek 1st. I opened the door to his room & as soon as he saw me he jumped up & ran into my arms. Then I said hug Papa & he gave Mitch a big hug too. The teacher started giving him orders to show off what he could do. (She said he was one of her 4 sons she takes care of.) He sat, took off his shoes, pulled on his pants & put his shoes away for us. Happy & smiling the whole time. The teacher told us when it’s hot out they walk the children outside barefoot to make them strong. She also pulled a wad of brown paper towels out of his pants (their version of a diaper?) & yes, he is definitely a boy!

He took my hand & dragged me out of the room. This time when I turned to go into Ana’s room he started walking backwards so I took him in my arms & Mitch grabbed Ana while Lena went to do some paperwork for about 5 munutes. Mitch & I got lost trying to find our way out! We finally found a door & ended up on the wrong side & had to walk all around trying to find Sergi!

Alek started getting cranky real fast this time & wanted nothing to do with me. (Mitch was off teaching Ana to put her fingers in his mouth.) He started to cry until Lena took him & spoke to him in Russian. We decided to bring them back because we thought he might have a slight fever. When we left, he smiled & waived & Ana blew kisses.

We went to exchange some money at a bank that was through a store & downstairs. On the way out we looked around at zippo lighters for $60 & Fox fur coats for $500. Then we treated Lena & Sergi to Lunch. We all had some pancake type thingy stuffed with stuff & potatoes on the side (way to much food). I ordered bottled water but they only had carbonated (they say “with gas” so I got orange-apricot nector juice instead. They give you the whole container (which is a box, have I mentioned this before?) and it’s 1000 ml. & Mitch had 2 Ukrainian beers (huge, 1 ˝ Liters) & the bill after a very generous tip of 18% (normal here is 5%) was $9.62! We’d eat out all the time at that price! It did take a while to get the food & we were told it was because they didn’t have full power today so it took longer to cook.

We went to a memorial place to sightsee before lunch & after lunch, a park with rides & stuff. Mitch couldn’t believe all the people selling beer (no open container laws here!) for only ~ $0.25 for a huge bottle!

On our way back to the orphanage we talked about diapers for Ana (the ones I brought are too big for her) & found out they’ve only had diapers here for 10 years.

Alek was happy to see us when we got back. We walked in & his whole class was on little pots & potties. It was so cute I took a picture! They said he had no temperature but he didn’t know how to react to the extra attention so we should not treat him special or pay attention to him. That’s a lot harder than it sounds & we obviously failed miserably. Mitch took him out & I waited for them to put more layers on Ana. It was 86 today! When she came out 3 of the staff were in the hall & told her to go to mommy. I was sitting & she walked right past me! They all called her name & she stopped, turned & saw me & put her arms out to me & grunted. She’s starting to get who I am. We went outside & I taught her how to blow on the white dandilions to make the seeds fly off. Now, instead of smelling flowers, she blows on them. All of them!

Mitch was having a lot of trouble with Alek & Lena was trying to help but he was crying & screeming a lot! Not even the musical toy would help (which was fine with Ana because she wouldn’t let it go). No one could hold him or go near him without him screaming so we let him walk around by himself & pretended not to watch him & he was fine.

It was so strange watching them switch places. The smiling child turned sad & the quiet child started smiling for the 1st time we’ve seen & babbling baby talk non stop!

There was a small group of children playing where we were that were 4 & 5 yrs. old that kept surrounding us wanting to play & touch everything. They all call all the women caretakers Mama & when they called me that I had to pretend I didn’t hear it to keep myself from getting emotional. Ruslan was getting upset again & his group had come outside so we let him go back & be with them. We spent some quality time with Ana & then observed Alek with his group. They were all sitting on a bench playing with leaves the teacher picked for them. They were so happy with the leaves we were wondering why we bought toys! We were trying not to single him out & upset him so we stood back & waved & smiled at all of them. That’s when we realized how cute & sweet they all are & it got hard. It can be very emotional here. We did notice that Alek is the biggest boy in his group. When they went in he waived bye to us. When we took Ana back we asked if we could take a picture of her with the teachers so one went to fix her hair & we were told she drinks from a cup by herself & also feeds herself with a spoon! We had been told we couldn’t take pictures of other children but when she came back, they pulled all the children around them & posed for the picture!

On the way home, Lena told us that everyone there was telling her how happy they were that we were taking 2 of their children because we don’t have children & we are so young, pretty, handsome & stable.

We had dinner (Buckwheat?, meat that tasted like brisket but didn’t look like it, bread, apricots, pankakes, colliflower, & more “scream”). The food had been very good but always too much! BTW – Lena says my Russian is very good, no accent! I bet I’d really impress them if I could say a whole sentence!

Sun. 5/28/00 7:00 am (12:00 am home time)

After dinner the host family started showing us pictures of other families that had stayed with them & pictures of their vacations. Dima speaks no English, Lena about as much as I speak Russian & Sacha enough to get the point across. Between that, hand signals & Mitch’s talking translator, we found out a lot about each other! Like Sacha used to work at an orphanage & 7 years ago, they adopted one of his students, 13 year old Dima! We were amazed! Mitch & I told Sacha that he & Dima looked so much alike we had no idea! He said that no, they didn’t look alike because he was Ukrainian & Dima was Jewish. OK. (That reminds me, when translator Lena was talking about sightseeing the other day, she was telling us about all the churchs we could see. She asked if we were Christian & without thinking I said Jewish. Then Mitch reminded me that we wern’t supposed to bring it up here because we were told there was so much predjudise here against jews so we asked her not to mention it to others & why. She said that it was that way 20 years ago in the 70’s but not now. That there were a lot of Jewish people at the college where we used the computer. She could tell because they had that look in their faces. Then she looked at us & said, but you don’t have that look. It was very hard for me not to say “nose-job”, my standard answer!)

The host family then asked to see my scrap book. I’m so glad I made it! It’s not always easy carrying it around but everyone has enjoyed it so much it was worth it! I had put pictures of our lives back home with brief descriptions in Russian & English. For some reason they broke out in laughteer when they saw our house & no one translated for us. I’m glad I didn’t put pictures of every room in it. I forgot that the outside picture would kinda give it away that it is big. Anyway, it was a very nice evening.

So far, Igor has been running around doing most of our paperwork & hopefully, we will go to court Thur. or Friday. I hope Alek will be in a better mood today. He actually had stopped crying at one point when Mitch was holding him & singing a silly song he had made up about Juneau (his dog) but it didn’t last long. Mitch’s songs make me cry too.

I tried an outfit I brought on Ana yest. It’s a size 12 month and a little to long but will work. I don’t know about Alek yet, maybe today. I dought she’s ever worn anything new before & was facinated by the price tags hanging off the sleave. It has minnie mouse on it & I asked her Gdyeh nos? (Where’s the nose) & she pointed to it! Smart girl! At 1st we thought she was stubborn because she wouldn’t give me her hand when I asked, just look at it. Then I realized I wasn’t saying “give me your hand” like I thought but “wash your hands”!

When we 1st got here I blanked on all the Russian I had learned but now it’s slowly coming back to me. And I realized yest. When we were driving by a Baskin Robbins that I can read! Russian is a cyrillic language with a different alphabet than ours. Some letters look like ours but they don’t always sound the same. For example, the sign at the notary says “notaris” but Mitch keeps reading it as “hot topic”. I think he does it to annoy me!

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