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3:00 pm (8:00 am home time)

Ya know, you never really realize how bad the bathrooms are or how bumpy & full of potholes the roads are until you get sick.

We had breakfast (egg, potatoes, bread & fat hotdog looking thing). Halfway through I got so nausious I barely made it to the bathroom. We told them I was just nervous but I think it was the hotdog thingy. Thank g-d for Pepto Bismol!

We got Ana 1st & saw her group on their potty seats. Then we got Alek who was happy to see us. We took them straight out of the orphanage (1st time for them) & to a field to sit & play away from the teachers. Alek held on to me tight at first but when he saw a dog started saying “Arf, Arf”! We sat in the shade of a tree & gave them some toys. I took out a box of raisins & held one up. He came over & instead of taking it with his hand, bent over & took it with his mouth! Ana just gave me a look like “what about me?” so I held one up in front of her & she did the same thing except she bit my finger! This went on for awhile until Alek wouldn’t stay close anymore & got really pissed off when we told him to stay. He was crying & screaming but stayed pretty close. Ana actually stood up at one point, dropped a toy on his lap, then came back & sat down on my lap! Overall, Lena & Sergi & I thought Alek did much better today (Mitch has no opinion) because yest., he screamed when we got closer, today, he screamed when we walked away! (Mitch actually took video of him crying at one point & played it back for him. At 1st he just looked at it confused, then we had crying in stereo!

We came back for Lunch & a nap (soup, bread, yummy meat chunks, noodles, & some veg. thing we didn’t try). I’m finally feeling normal again, let’s hope it lasts! Today we met a couple from NJ at the orphanage that came for a girl a few days before us & ended up with twin girs that are almost 2 ˝. Hopefully we’ll see them again while we’re here.

Mon. 5/29/00 7:45 am (12:45 am home time)

Since I was feeling better, Lena & Sacha gave us some Ukrainian wine. It was good but I still wasn’t so sure of my stomach so when they wern’t looking, I switched glasses with Mitch!

We went back to the orphanage & Ana’s class was on their potties so I pulled out the video camera. It was so funny! All these tiny little people not even 2 in a circle on potties making rassberry sounds with their mouths. We were hysterical laughing!

As soon as I opened the door to Alek’s room he was already standing & looking at the door. He saw me & came running! He’s always so happy when we pick him up & drop him off, it’s in between when he doesn’t get exactly his way that we have to work on. Everyone keeps apologizing for him to us but I don’t have a problem with it. This is some pretty scarry stuff. Everything is new & different. He understands a lot & doesn’t know how to react. I’d be crying too!

We went back to the park area from earlier & within a few minutes he tripped & fell. He started to cry again but this time when I picked him up, he clung to me tight! When Lena tried to take him from me, he held on even tighter & shook his head no! So I walked around for the better part of an hour holding him close & wondering where I was getting the strength! But I wouldn’t have put him down if my arms were breaking! Also, when ever someone came near us, he would scream & grab my breast (it was where his hand happened to be the way I was holding him). Boy am I glad for padded bras!

Mitch had been playing with Ana (the good one, as he now calls her). Earlier, we put a cloth diaper under her when she sat on the ground in her dress so she wouldn’t get cold. This time he put the diaper on the floor & she turned around & plopped down on it all on her own! She’s so bright! She’s also figured out that the diaper bag is filled with good stuff. Everytime we turn around for a second, she’s trying to pull it open or stick her hand in to see what she can find!
When we brought them back, they showed us Ana's little bed. Lena told the teacher Ruslan had been crying & she said it was because he loves us now & is testing us. She said that he was a very good, obedient boy. The golden child. Then to prove it (you know we video taped this!) she started giving him instructions & he showed us how he can wash & dry his hands by himself & go to his place at the table & eat all by himself! I felt kinda bad that all the other 14 kids had to just sit & watch while he ate but it was so totally cute! His dinner was a milk based porridge with semolina in it & a piece of bread. He ate with a spoon way too big for his head & got it all over his chin. Then he drank from a regular sized mug!
We came home & had dinner (some really flat tough meat [veal?], rice, those flat pancake things, bread & apricots). I had Mitch eat some of my meat when no one was around so they woulddn’t worry about me. There is just too much food all the time!

We spent the rest of the evening going through our orphanage donations & making lists of things we need to buy for Alek & Ana.

Mitch is now awake & singing songs to annoy me about how the pillows are like bags of lead & he misses his sheepies (dog)!

We are eating breakfast (meat & rice thingy, bread, cheese & juice). They always bring Mitch’s coffee at the end of the meal which is driving Mitch crazy. Also the salt is in a bowl, like sugar & Mitch is sure he’s going to use the wrong one one of these days! The pepper is on a little dish so you have to use your fingers for both! (We keep joking that it’s a plate of dirt!) And the ketchup is in a bag!

1:40 pm (6:40 am home time)

What a great morning! Alek was so happy today! They told us he had been waiting for us all morning. We put him in the carier to get him used to it. Maybe next time we’ll pick it up too!

We spent some alone time with them while Lena & Sergi went to drop off our application to the court. They were both so good & apparently like books! And cookies! Mitch gave Alek one & he took a bite, smiled, & stuffed the whole thing in his mouth! And still somehow managed to get crumbs all over his face! Ana just held hers for about an hour & then fed it to her Papa!

I’ve been singing to them a lot but this morning I started singing in Russian & Ana started dancing! I learned the songs from a tape called “Teach me Russian” & everyone was commenting on how good my accent was & how did I know that!?!

Alek’s group was outside playing so we went to drop him off with them. I had been holding him & when I put him down he grabbed my hand and happily walked us away. He was staying with Mama! I was in heaven!

After we brought them back for lunch, we had an appt. with the director, Roman, who is also the head Doctor & some assistants to give them our donations. They had us take everything out & tell them what it was & Lena translated. They were very thankful & said they could really use everything. Then we reached for the 2nd suitcase & they were amazed! We had vaccuum packed the clothes so after we emptied them out, the couch was full & piled high! Everybody was smiling! Roman said he could tell how prepared we were to become parents because I had carefully bundled the clothes together by size & because of my scrapbook. We told him we wish we could have brought more but this was all we could carry!

We came back & had lunch (pasta, meat chunks, & chicken soup) & then pulled out a picture book & reviewed how to say things in Russian & English with host Lena.

9:30 pm (2:30 pm home time)

We went & got some potties, diapers, shoes & underwear for the kids & then went to pick up some papers from the Ministry of Education but they weren’t ready yet so we went back to see them. (It’s hard to write now because Mitch is bothering me. He’s bored & playing with his translater & totally butchering the Russian language! Now he’s singing!) We found out their pet names are Ruslanchik & Nastyenka (I keep laughing when I say hers because it sounds like Nastinky)! Mitch wants me to mention that there are many playgrounds around here & they are almost all rusted & falling apart. They would have been torn down long ago in the US! And many, like the one we went to yest. had broken glass all over it!

I have to go now, Mitch is getting way too annoying!

Tue. 5/30/00 7:00 am (12:00 am home time)

So we played in a different part of the play yard & saw a couple of other American couples & compared notes with them. We discovered that Alek loves Cherrio’s. He would tap my hand holding the cup so that some more would fall out onto my other hand. Then he would take 3 or 4 at a time & put them all in his mouth! A teacher & another older boy were nearby & she asked Alek to share so he reaches in his mouth & pulls out the tinyest piece of Cherrio & hands it to the boy! I guess it’s the thought that counts! We also discovered Ana’s love for chocolate! She managed to only get it on her face & one hand (it was a cookie with chocolate cream inside that Mr. “I don’t want the kids eating candy” gave her). I had to use a wet one to clean her off & she didn’t know what to make of that! She can make some very funny faces! (We are only giving them food when they are happy so they don’t associate eating with bad behavior.)

Ana gets a little sad now when we take her back & they need to give her a toy to distract her so we can leave. Alek didn’t want to let go of me or go to his teacher & when I put him down he sat on the floor & sulked. It’s amazing to actually be able to see him attaching to us!

We had given Dima money to buy us some Ukrainian & Russian CD’s (all the CD’s here are pirated & cost about $2.50). Dima was laughing so hard when we gave him extra to buy a few for himself & we couldn’t figure it out until a few hours later, it hit us! They don’t own a CD player! Anyway, he had gotten us one today of childrens songs so we pulled out the laptop to play it. They were all amazed. Then we showed them pictures of our kids on the computer from the digital camera. You should have seen their faces! 5 adults looking like kids at the fair for the first time! After that I couldn’t resist, I pulled out the camcorder, flipped the screen around & showed them the latest video of the day. Dima couldn’t believe I had sung in Russian so well & kept making me rewind & play it over & over so I went & got my song book for him to look at. Then they served us our dinner (chicken filled pasta & juice & ice cream) & Mitch got a Ukrainian beer too. He really likes the beer here.

(BTW, everyone told me to bring dark colored clothes to fit in. not only have I seen all colors, but it turns out that the kids respond better to you when you wear white since all of the staff wear white coats! And I only brought 1 white shirt that I was wearing yest.! Also, I was told there were very few strollers here. They are everywhere! And in the stores too. They don’t look like ours but it would have been easier than carring our backpack carriers here.)