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10:05 am (3:05 am home time)

We had breakfast (eggs, french fries, bread, cheese, juice, cookies & ham for Mitchell) & now we are sitting at another notary office. Lena is doing paperwork & no one around us speaks English so Mitch is asking people if I should stand up & do a striptease for them. He also told one man that if he didnít sit down he would get Juneau to bite him on the butt! He is also looking through Russian catalogs & pretending he knows what it says. Now heís making up poems that donít rhyme or make sense. He also likes to call the women that are dressed sexy, hot topics (what he thinks the notary sign says). The poplar fluff is thick today & keeps blowing around in this lobby. Now heís speaking Spanish (very badly) to people walking by. I think I have fluff up my nose. I still canít figure out how these women can walk anywhere in those shoes!

[one of Mitchís poems:
Fluffies , fluffies everywhere, they are certainly not rare
I donít mind if they get in my hair
But please keep them out of my underwear!]

4:00 pm (9:00 am home time)

By the time we got to visit the kids, it was 11:30 & we can only stay until 12pm. It took us a while to find them & they were looking for us all morning. We tried to get them in the car just to get used to it before we need to take them anywhere. Letís just say that it will be a very loud trip!

We went to the Childrenís market & for less than $20 American, bought 4 dresses, 4 teeshirts & denim overalls, all for the kids. We expected to buy mor but there werenít many venders. It was an outside market.

We went home for Lunch (soup, fried chicken, buckwheat, bread & candy). Mitch & I have decided that we donít like buckwheat & were joking about places we could hide it.

Now we are sitting outside the Executive Committee of Frunsisk district Rada waiting on paperwork. Itís almost ready so Lena is going to wait for it & we are going to visit the kids by ourselves! First time with no translator! It rained a little before & cooled down a lot so Iím not sure we can go outside or not.
*Some observations: Almost all cars have male drivers but many busses have women drivers. Almost all men are clean shaven. There are many, many stray dogs. The dogs on leaches are all purebreads. Younger women are usually very thin & dressed to the nines. Older women are usually heavier & wearing sweaters & babbushkas. The beds are all twins & are hard as rocks. The pillows are big & square & feel like bags of lead. The days are longer, itís May & itís light out from 4am to 9pm! Oh yeah, & all bathrooms suck! The one at the orphanage has no seat & the only way to flush it is to reach in & pull the cord in the top bowl!

Wen. 5/31/00 7:45 am (12:45 am home time)

We did go out & it was great because we were all alone. Just the 4 of us with no distractions. They were both so good & cute. Even after Lena & Sergi came back & a few other people came out, they were totally focused on us. I almost got Alek to say ďopenĒ & Mitch & Lena got Ana to say ďMama LaĒ (they were going for Mama Laurie).

We went back to the internet place & spent over an hour putting 7 more pictures on the webpage. I donít think it could be any slower! Half the time it times out before the pictures can upload! Arggg!

We came back & had dinner (noodles & meat in a thin tomato sauce, pancake thingys & beer for Mitch). Then we had some really good wine from Moldova. It was hard for me to go through our gifts with Mitch after that! But I did get some sleep thanks to that wine! Lena showed us pictures of when she was young & then showed us a picture of her class (sheís a teacher) from 5 years ago. If I came across it at home I would have thought it was at least 60 years old!

We did some laundry yest. & Lena hung it out to dry for us. We brought it in this morning & now Mitch has a song about how his socks feel like they are made out of a cardboard box. I washed my hair (interesting experience, the water seems to have 2 temp. Ė burn your skin off or freeze it back on & it changes back & forth on itís own! Also, the water pressure isnít that strong so when you lift the shower thing up to wet your head, the water stops so I kept having to squat down!) & now we are having breakfast (that rice & meat thing, cucumbers, tomatoes, bread with melted cheese, juice, ham for Mitch & turkey for me).

Thur. 6/1/00 8:45 am (1:45 am home time)

We picked up the kids & went straight to the car. We had to take them for passport phots. They screamed the whole way there! There are no car seats in this country so we just held them close on our laps & kept saying ďdonít cry, Iím here, donít be afraidĒ (nye plotch, ya tut, nye boysia).

Mitch got Ana to calm down long enough to have her picture taken & then took her back to the orphanage because she had an appt. with a cardiologist for an ultrasound she needed to finish her paperwork. He said they put a bunch of babies in their version of an ambulance while they all screamed hysterically. He also said that while he was there, the meat truck came. No refridgeration, big slabs of meat laying on the floor. Then they pull out big knives & axes & chop it up on tree stumps outside while the orphanage dogs stand by hoping for scraps.

Meanwhile, Lena & I tried to calm Alek down by walking up & down the sidewalk in the rain. He seemed better when I sang but would cry more everytime we passed the photo store. Lena wanted to take him back & try again later but I said no. I didnít see how torturing him twice could possiblely be better. So I brought him inside, put him in the chair, & said take the picture now but they wouldnít take it while he was crying. (He is so self sufficient that itís easy to forget heís still a baby but he still has that newborn baby cry when heís scared.) Luckily, Mitch & Sergi came back & Mitch pulled out the camcorder & played back when he was happy on the playground. It worked! He had tears & cookie all over his face but he wasnít crying!

We brought him back & saw many families waiting in the hall to meet children & we felt like old timers already. Then we sat in the car & Lena went to talk to the judge to set out court date for Thur. 10 am!
We decided to skip lunch & do some shopping since we obviously wonít be able to do that soon!

We went back to the orphanage & Lena & Sergi went to file some more papers. We got inside just before the downpour started! Iím so glad we werenít in the car! It was still to early to see the children so we sat with the lady from Spain & her uncle trying to have a conversation in English, Spanish & Russian! It was interesting!

We ended up playing in the music room with the Spanish people & Alek really wanted to go outside. Because of the rain we couldnít (that & they didnít put pants on him!). We also noticed that Ana had started sucking her bottom lip again from such a stressfull day. She had done it the 1st 2 days almost constantly but not since. I just wish I could let them know everything is going to be alright. There are so many changes for them right now & they are so afraid.

When we brought them back we were told that Alek is a very smart boy & that Ana is very athletic, to please enroll her in sports becaouse she has stright legs & has been able to pull herself up on the rings since she was 6 months old! And we thought theyís be weak & frail!

We took Sergi, Igor, Sacha, Dima & Lena out to dinner (host Lena wouldnít come). We went to a resturaunt that was pretty nice & for 7 people with drinks, salad, main course, potatoes, desserts & juices & of course, a large tip, the total was around $59. We figured the same thing at ďFridayísĒ back home would have been about $182! My cocktail was very strong & Mitch talked me into doing my fathers napkin trick where you fold it into a brazire. Dima was laughing so hard, he made me teach it to him! (Iíve noticed whenever we treat people to a meal, they order exactly what we do!) I ended up falling asleep on the way home. Mitch said that we dropped Lena off in the pitch darkness & that on a back road he saw 2 girls hitchhiking in the dark all dressed up! I guess itís safer here.

Today we had breakfast (noodles with butter, baked meat with cheese, bread & juice) & got dressed for court. We are now sitting in the car outside the courthouse & itís 10:15 am! We have been here for 20 minutes & Igor is still not here with our fax that we need. Not only that, but they havnít yet decided if a fax is acceptable or not & our original is still in Kiev! Ö Lena just came out & said that the judge understands our situation & will accept the fax! Yay! Now where is it! Iím getting nervous! I need a distraction.

Mitch says the cars here look like cheap, small versions of our cars back home. We saw 2 guys yest. Also wearing backpacks & it turns out they are Americans here on a mission. The backpack always gives it away! We were just told that the Lawyer from the nursary is having problems with her printer & that they told her Mitch will fix it to help speed things up. I sure hope he can! I hate to think everything is hanging on that!

Mitch keeps commenting that the brick work here is really bad. Everytime we think that a building must be at least 20 years old, they point to it & say that itís a new building!

They canít find the lawyer so we are going back to the nursary. They always ask what we want to do. As if we know how this works!

When we were at the resturant last night, they ordered cigarettes off the menu. Isnít that weird! Also, after dessert, Dima pulled out Menís Health magazines & started to discuss it with them.