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2:30 pm (7:30 am home time)

Then we picked up Ana. They dressed her in the outfit we brought & everyone was talking about how cute she was, like a little doll! She knew something was up & only wanted to leave.

5:30 pm (10:30 am home time)

We took pictures & went to get Alek. He was ready! Dressed in his new clothes & waiting at the door with his teachers. We took more pictures & off we went. Ana in my arms & Alek in Mitch’s arms. 2 of us were crying & it wasn’t the children!

(BTW, now that we have them it is very hard to write in my journal so I went in the other room for a few minutes. I just looked up & saw Mitch go by carrying Alek on his back & Ana on his front making train sounds!)

The car home wasn’t too bad. We gave them cookies first & that helped. Only Ana screamed a few minutes. Unlike the elevator up. They didn’t like that! (Niether do we for that matter! It’s only about 3’ x 3’ & feels like it’s going to fall any minute!) Lena made them dinner (soup & bread) & then we had the adventure of our 1st potty/diaper time. I can’t even describe it. They were both screaming & we didn’t have a clue why or what we should do.

Sun. 6/4/00 9:15 am (2:15 am home time)
It took Alek about 45 min. to go to bed that 1st night. They were both crying & so upset. Then all of a sudden, boom! He was sound asleep! Ana had stopped crying but wouldn’t go to sleep until another 40 min. later. Everytime we turned out the lights, she’d scream. So, we spent out 1st night as a family in 2 twin beds pushed together with Alek laying on Mitch’s pillow with his head & Ana’s head on mine, Mitch laying on the very edge of his side of the bed, me sleeping kinda diagonal sideways & the lights on! I would wake up every now & then to make sure they were still breathing.

2:00 pm (7:00 am home time)

Yest. We spent the whole day at “home” getting used to each other. Ana is getting very attached to me & won’t let Mitch hold her more than a second. She runs up to me and hugs both legs when she wants me to hold her. Alek is getting very attached to Mitch. He cries everytime Mitch leaves the room & won’t give me big hugs anymore like he gives Mitch. They both hate nap time but potty time is much better. They even laugh now when I put on diapers. (Alek almost never dirties his diaper & Ana never has but with all these changes, we’re sticking with them! Also, this way I can schmear Desitin all over their tushies. In just 2 days their rashes are just about gone. Ana’s tush was really red!)

Ana said her 1st English word yest.! She said “baby”! Now she says it all the time & today, she almost said “flower”! She sings all the time & babbles baby talk too. It’s different sounds but we asked, it’s just baby talk. She says “ah coo coo” & “guh, guh” & points to everything & goes “mmm”!

Alek says “map, map, map” & “ooh, ooh, ooh”. They both say “Mama” & “Papa” & “Arf”. Every animal they see they start “Arf, Arf”. Alek gets so excited when a dog barks & “talks” back to it everytime!

We already knew that Alek’s smile could light up a room but now that we’re “home” & with them all of the time, we’ve finally seen Ana smile & actually laugh! She likes me to kiss her foot before bedtime & when I do, she laughs & gives me the other foot! This can go on for quite some time but it’s worth it to see her so happy! She’s like a different child!

Alek is also a different child. He is not quite as well behaved as he was in the orphanage. He listens more to Mitch but he tests us non stop. If we say nyet (no), his eyes light up & he runs to do it again. Most of the time he’ll stop just before really doing it if we’re watching. I think he just likes the attention.

One thing that was interesting was when we gave them some juice in sippy cups. They didn’t have a clue. We actually had to teach them how to drink from them! And once they got their 1st tastes of juice, we can only get those cups away from them now to fill them! And when they eat, they want a sip after every bite! From what we saw at the orphanage, they were only allowed to drink after they ate.

They have been inhaling the food too. Ana is slow to eat & Alek will shove so much in his mouth that more falls out than goes in on many bites! But they both end up eating more than we ever thought possible! An example of what Lena & Sacha serve them: Breakfast – mashed potatoes, tomatoes, hard boiled egg, cheese & bread!

Mon. 6/5/00 4:45 pm (9:45 am home time)

They are finally asleep when I’m awake so I’ll try to write fast! We had a visit yest. from the Durham’s, another family here using CAS. It was so nice to have a conversation without any thought to what we were saying or going “what’s the word I want?”! Then we packed up & headed for the train.

All of our “people” came to see us off. At the train station, everyone stared at us because we had the kids in our backpack carriers. The attendant for our car kept asking where the children were. We couldn’t get her to look up!

So we got settled in our compartment & it was so hot! The kids were scared & not happy! We got them down to their diapers & put one at each end of one “bed”. Alek cryed himself to sleep right away (it was 2 hours past their bedtime!) and Ana played with her toys for a while until finally drifting off about ½ hour later. That’s when we got a real treat! Air conditioning! Yeah!

Tue. 6/6/00 7:00 am (12:00 am home time)

My son had totally regressed. We had bought 2 potties because his teacher had told us that he’s very regular & never had an accident. The 1st time I put a diaper on him he screamed & the 1st time he had an accident he was hysterical until he was cleaned off. Now, he absolutely refuses to sit on the potty. When I sit him on it he crys, jumps off, runs to me & hugs me tight. Then he goes to the changing pad, smiles & trys to climb up to it. We had to buy more diapers & bought bigger ones for him because his were leaking. In the short time we’ve known him he’s outgrown the size we have! They had their doctors visit yest. & it looks like he’s gained almost 2 lbs! Is that possible? Ana lost ¼ lb. But she’s been eating a lot. She was very quiet at the orphanage & increadably active now so we attribute it to that. The check-up overall was a joke. They looked at them with their clothes off & listened to heart & lungs. Then they looked at their eyes & ears with no instruments! What are you going to see in an ear without an osteoscope? Alek cried the whole time & Ana would not let me put her down or let me sit down the whole time we waited. It was hot, they hadn’t had lunch & it was nap time. So instead of going back to the hotel, we got to take them for more visa pictures because they forgot to give them to us in Kharkiv! To make matters worse, Mitch went with Igor (our facilitator) to the state department & it was closed because Clinton was coming! So instead of leaving for Poland on Tue,. We can’t leave until Thursday! (Lot airlines only flies every other day!) So our President was speaking right down the street & we watched it in the hotel room. It was translated into Ukrainian (I think) so we have no idea what he said! I hope it was good. It’s pretty obvious that we’re American!

12:30 pm (5:30 am home time)

They’re asleep! Mitch went back to the State Dept. earlier so we don’t have to worry about that anymore. While he was gone Ana decided she didn’t want to use a potty anymore either! Diapers are easy to find here but wipes are not! At this rate I won’t have enough so I put her in the tub with the shower sprayer & she loved it! Go figure! So I ended up giving her a bath since she was so happy. Not 2 seconds after she got out Alek wanted to see what was so much fun. I figured I better go with the flow & throw the orphanage schedule out the window! So our baths are done, lunch has been had & nap time has begun (only took 5 minutes!) all way before schedule! I’m getting pretty good at this! I even taught Alek his 1st English word… “car”!

One other thing I totally disagree with that this country does all the time. Don’t give your kids tomatoes! Trust me! They don’t digest them! You will see them again! I wish people would stop giving them to them everywhere we go! And we found out the hard way that juice has sugar in it that they are not used to. Although much better than the caffinated tea they used to drink, it gives them way too much energy before bedtime!

Wen. 6/7/00 9:20 am (2:20 am home time)

Ana is coloring & singing & Alek is jumping on his Papa so I’m going to steel a few minutes for myself! Let me tell you how we get them to sleep at night. We pick them up & lay them on the bed. They scream & cry. We lay next to them & I sing. They stop crying. I stop singing. They cry. I sing again until they fall asleep. Usually, I run out of words & Mitch joins in. We have all kinds of conversations to songs now. Last night we actually had an argument to music! It’s kinda hard to stay mad at someone when you’re singing!

What’s with these kids! Everytime I turn around, they are trying to put on our shoes! You really need to know some Russian to do this. At 21 & 24 months they understand so much! They understand & react appropriately to (in Russian): give me, share, where is ___, sleep, no, don’t do that, don’t touch, come here, come to me, stay, go to ___, give to ___, stop that!, & kisses. Probably a lot more too but that’s what I’ve tried so far. Oh yeah, & good boy/girl & bad boy/girl. (dye menya, delitza, gydyeh ___, spot, nyet, neal zya, nye trogay, edie suda, edie comneah, stoy, edik ___, die ___, peristani!, & potsoloy. Karoshi malchik, karoshaya dyevichka, plocha malchick, plocha dyevichka.)

3:35 pm (8:35 am home time)

Yest. I gave them both toothbrushes. They didn’t have a clue. I picked up mine & brushed my teeth. It was so cute watching them try to copy me. Maybe tommarrow I’ll give them toothpaste!

We went to do a little shopping again today & on the way back, Alek threw up all over Mitchell. I haughed so hard I was crying! I know I shouldn’t have but it was just one of those sights you never thought you’d see. Even better than when Mitch woke up yest. morning & realized that Alek’s (who had been sleeping next to him) diaper had leaked!

(BTW – This time we asked if they had a room with 1 big bed instead of 2 little ones. We got a room with a queen bed & a bathtub instead of a shower! Yey!)