Wednesday, April 20, 2011

6 Hours Left in Kiev

This is Ken.  I talked to Sarah a little bit ago and everything is on schedule.  She's getting up in only a few hours to get ready to head to the airport!  I'm meeting them in Detroit and we all land in Louisville at 4:47pm.  Come out to the airport and meet us if you'd like, we'd love to have you there!

So, what's been going on the past few days?

Monday Sarah was able to get Luke's passport without any problems.  They got back to Kiev and took Luke to the doctor to see about the fever and rash that he was having.  The doctor said that the rash was just allergies and gave him some medicine for the itching.  Sarah said that the medicine worked really well, which is good because he was scratching a lot. The doctor also gave them some children's motion sickness medicine in case they need it, which they've used on some of the taxi rides around Kiev.  Sarah said that it REALLY knocks him out, so he'll probably be sleeping well on the plane :-)

Tuesday Sarah went to the US Embassy and dropped off all the paperwork for Luke's visa.  Then they ran around to a couple offices (or was that Monday after the Dr?)  One of the places they went was back to the SDA office (where we first picked Luke) so that Sarah could get the picture that was attached to the original description and medical profile that they showed us.  She had to bring a current picture to swap with them so that they could have a picture on file.  So she did and got the old picture -- that's the oldest picture of Luke that we know of.  He's standing next to a building and some kind of bushes with a HUGE smile on his face (as you might expect!)  Anyway, we were really glad to get that picture.  By the way, shortly after we started visiting Luke a few weeks ago my mom did some searching around online and found a guy who visits the orphanage regularly where Luke was, and he had some pictures of events at the orphanage from last year on his Google Picasa page and Luke was in 10 or 15 of them.  Finding those was also really exciting.

Wednesday Sarah went back to the Embassy and picked up Luke's visa, checking the LAST thing off the list.  Our translator and the Thienemin family (with their new son!) arrived in Kiev to have dinner and hang out with Sarah, Luke, and Marcia.  Thanks everyone for praying for them also a couple weeks when they were hitting road blocks.  It sounds to me like everything is moving along REALLY quickly for them now.  They should be heading home before too long.  I think they're in the process of getting their son's passport now.

Luke and their son played for a while at the apartment tonight and had a lot of fun.  I'm sure Luke was glad to see someone around his age, who even spoke his language!

So Sarah leaves for the airport at about 4am Ukraine time!  Their flight is at 6:25am there, 11:25pm Eastern.  I guess she'll be catching up sleeping on the plane.

My parents will be in town in maybe an hour and a half and we'll get the last few things ready for everyone to be home.  Sarah's family will be arriving sometime tomorrow early afternoon, dropping off the dogs, and heading to the airport.  I fly out at 6:10 tomorrow morning to bounce through Baltimore (?) and then wait for Sarah and Luke in Detroit.  Sure hope I don't get stuck in Baltimore...or detained and questioned because I'm flying alone one way (x2) with minimal baggage...

Thanks everyone for praying for safe travels, especially for Sarah, Luke, and Babushka!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Free at Last!

I finally have internet!! Whoop Whoop! Luke was feeling much better today so I am at McDonalds using some internet. My good friend Susan (who is also over here adopting) taught me how to "booth stalk." She has mastered booth stalking but I have just started learning. I know you are dying to know what it is!  Well here at Mcdonald's, people come here by the busloads feels like. Seriously, it feels like I am in a sardines can.  Well with the limited number of booths and seats you have to hover over someone who is about to leave and sit down right as they get up in order to have a seat. It is pretty funny! It almost feels like musical chairs.

Ken did a such great job on filling you in with all that is going on!! He is so good at blogging!! So I think I will just post pictures and some captions from all that we have been doing since I posted last.  Luke has been doing a lot better today. He has not had a fever so far at all today! He does have a rash all over him and it is really itchy. Bless his little heart. :( So just pray for our little man as he is getting over being sick. I feel so bad for him, he hasn't been feeling good pretty much since he got out of the orphanage. I think he is getting better though so that is a praise!

We have had so much fun over the past few days!

Leaving the orphanage for the first time with us!! We had to go get (well attept) his passport.

I feel like a bad mother! There were no seatbelts for him so he rode in my lap. Moms, don't try that at home.

 We were in a hurry that morning and forgot the toys. So we rode two hours there and two hours back coming up with things to do. He is playing with my necklace in this picture.

McDonald's for the first time. He loved the fries but in the end, it did not turn out so well.  

With the Director of the orphanage.  I was told that his orphanage was one of the better ones.  We had no idea until we got there that it would turn out like that.

Luke with one of his group teachers.

With the doctor.

This is where Luke slept. There were more beds but I just took a close-up. It is so hard to think of how many kids go to sleep every night with out a mommy or daddy to tell them goodnight and that they love them. :(  

Close-up of Luke's bed.

Luke sat here when he was getting ready to put on layers and layers to go outside. He was seriously like an onion when he had all of his clothes on. You had to peel and peel them off.

Leaving the orphanage. He is free at last!!

In the car. I know that is pretty obvious but I couldn't think of a better caption.  :)

Luke with our driver.

He loves these sunglasses. He is so cute!!

Waiting in the car with Babuska while momma quickly goes and gets a few groceries. 

He put all of his toys in this bag and decided that he would try to fit in there as well. He tried really hard but he just didn't fit.  

Who knew that a back pack and a bag would entertain him for so long? He rolls that thing around everywhere.

I had to vaccuum the floor and he wanted to help. He is such a good little helper!

He loves this little magnetic dog. Notice the chapstick. The chapstick was the best and cheapest thing he has gotten yet! He is so cute putting it on! I have one too and he always wants me to put it on when he gets his out of his pocket.

Too cute!!

I love him!

So we gave him a bath for the first time the day after we got to Kiev. I wasn't sure how he would react. We were told all of the kids hate baths because they only get one once a week. So mom and I put a lot of toys in the tub and he loved that there were toys in the water. An hour and a half later of playing in the tub, his hands looked like this.  He was so amused by his hands turning into raisins.

He loves his chapstick. Need I say more?

I'm telling you this kiddo is not hard to entertain! He is so cute!!

He gets inside of this armoire and plays. It is his little hide away.

He made a fort with his pillow. He loves these glasses. Every chance he gets they are on his face. :)

He sleeps with this Monkey every night. He talks to it while going to sleep. It is the sweetest thing. I wish I knew what he was saying to it. Most of the time he talks about it going to the bathroom. Boys...I think they are the same no matter what country you go to. :)  

Watching some 40's cartoons in Russian.

He likes to sweep. He will go and get the broom and start sweeping and pick up the smallest pieces of dust and put them in the trash. He was used to doing chores and I think he missed doing them. There are only so many things you can do in an apartment for a few days!

I got in here too and we were playing a version of hide and seek with Babushka.

So, as of today, we hopefully only have four more days here!! I have had a lot of fun in Ukraine and experienced a lot of things but I am so excited to get home to my sweet husband! Thank you so much for all of your prayers and encouragement! They mean so much!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

In Kiev...Without Internet

This is Ken.  Sarah doesn't have any Internet connection in the apartment where they are staying in Kiev for the remainder of their time in Ukraine, and she hasn't been able to get out to an internet cafe.  So I'm here to fill you in on what's been going on.  Let's see, the last post says Tuesday the 12th...

Last Wednesday Sarah got Luke out of the orphanage for the first time and the whole crew (Sarah, Marcia, Luke, our translator, and taxi driver) rode about two and a half hours up to the region's capital in order to get him a passport.  I talked to Sarah shortly after they left the orphanage and she said Luke seemed kind of scared riding in the car (if she were writing this, she'd probably say "There's plenty to be scared of on those roads, let me tell you what!")  Then she said that he was doing fine distracted by watching the farms go by.  So they got to the capital city and found out that there are two options for getting a passport: 1) regular processing is now a 10-day deal or 2) pay more than double and you can get it the same day.  Sarah had already told the translator that we'll pay whatever we have to, but she ran it by me and I said the same.  Well option #2 is only available on Monday, so they road the 2.5 hours back to the city where his orphanage is.  In the mean time, they ate lunch at McDonald's.... Well, Sarah got a wonderful welcome to full-time motherhood when Luke gave all his McDonald's back to her while they were on the road.  "I caught the first round with my bare hands," she told me.  Maybe carsick?  Maybe McDonald's wasn't a good idea for a kid that usually eats watery soup and bread?  Whatever the cause, it was a rough ride home that I'm sure all of you mothers can relate to.  And being his first night outside of the orphanage, at a new place, and full of excitement for being with Mama, he took something like two and a half hours to go to sleep that night.  That's right, Sarah's a real mom now.  "Let me tell you what."

First thing Thursday morning they went by the orphanage and signed the last piece or two of paperwork, officially marking our "gotcha day" and hit the road!  They'll be in Kiev for the rest of their time in Ukraine.  Sarah said the apartment they got in Kiev is really nice.  It has two separate bedrooms, with a hallway connecting them to the living room, etc.  They're on a fairly high floor with a nice view and two or three of the rooms have a balcony.  All for the same price as the other apartments we had previously in Kiev.  But there's no internet, and nobody near enough with open wifi that could be "borrowed" for a few days.  She was going to get down to McDonald's or find a coffee shop with free wifi, but hasn't had a chance to yet.  The apartment building also has a playground area outside, which they've been able to get out to once or twice.

Marcia had brought Luke a little backpack that has wheels and a handle for him to haul his stuff around in on the trip home, and he wheels it around the apartment at top speed.  Later on Thursday, he then he started slowing down and not looking so good, and Sarah found out another reason that may have caused Luke to so willingly give his lunch back to Mama on the ride home Wednesday: he started running a fever which was high, but not extreme.  They haven't been out to the playground much because he hasn't been feeling too good.  Sarah and I had packed some children's medicine, so she gave it too him and she said that exactly 10 minutes later he launched off the couch like a rocket and was back to playing like normal.  In the middle of the night he woke up with a fever again,  but Sarah gave him some medicine and he went back to sleep.  She said every time when the fever has gone back up she can count on exactly 10 minutes later he jumps up off the couch.  He seemed to be doing fine, and the meds were keeping the fever at bay, so they were expecting it to go away.  But the fever keeps hanging on, sometimes not too high, but sometimes getting back up there.  So Monday they're going to find a doctor to visit and see what's going on, since it has been a few days with it not going away.  Sarah has had the full range of motherly emotions: scared, worried, wishing she could somehow make him all better, compassion, tired, puked-on, etc.

Yesterday, Sarah told me that she and Luke were watching some cartoon on TV "that must have been made in the 40's"  and a character on the cartoon said something about Papa.  When Luke heard it, he jumped up and grabbed Sarah's phone.  He ran into another room and started talking and talking on the phone "Papa" this and "Papa" that.  Then Sarah called me so that he could really talk to Papa, which is always a lot of fun!

As far as I know, he's been pretty much either full speed or laid up with a fever.  He hasn't thrown up any since Wednesday.  But since the fever isn't going away, they're going to take him to a doctor Monday.  Sarah and the translator are going to leave early in Monday morning to get the passport at the region's capital where they went Wednesday, while Marcia stays home with Luke.  Then they'll take him to the doctor as soon as they get home.  Pray that all goes well with both of those things.  Supposing that there's no delay with the passport (which we don't expect there will be), they'll be able to hit the offices they need to go to in Kiev on Tuesday & Wednesday, including getting a visa at the US Embassy (so thankful that Washington figured out enough to keep the visa engine running).  Then Thursday they'll be heading home!  I'll be booking their flights as soon as I hear that they have a passport on Monday, but it looks to me like they all leave Kiev at around 6:00am land in Louisville at 4:45ish Thursday evening.  Several of you have mentioned that you'd like to come the airport and welcome Luke as he gets off the plane, so it looks most likely like 4:45pm on Thursday.  We'd love to have you there!  I'm going to take a quick flight Thursday to whatever city is before Louisville (most likely Detroit) and fly in with them for the last leg of the trip.  Not that I think he's forgotten who I am, but that way I won't just be one of the guys in the crowd when they get there :-)

I know some of you have been wondering if I'm still alive and whether I'm eating anything other than peanut butter.  Well, Sarah and I have the greatest friends here in Louisville, and several of them have had me over for dinner this week, with leftovers to take home for the between days!  It has been such a blessing to hang out, eat good food, and share stories.  Other than that, I've been going to work and class, trying to catch up on assignments, and doing some projects around the house to get ready for Luke.  I'd post a picture of myself, but it's Saturday, I didn't shave today, and I just finished changing the oil in one of the cars, so I'm looking kind of rough.  But hey, my wife is thousands of miles away, right?  MAN I can't wait till she's home!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Birth Certificate

Today we drove two hours to Luke's birth city. Let me just say that it was one roller coaster of a ride. The roads have plenty of holes to go around for sure. I did get a great two hour massage from the ride so all is well. On our way there, our taxi driver had to ask for directions from random bystanders. I love it! We eventually made it to the city. The ride to his birth city was very beautiful and I was thankful to be able to see more of Ukraine. When we got to the birth certificate office, I got out of the car and my poor mother was left in the car with her Kindle. Don't worry,  she was safe with our taxi driver who happens to be a deacon at his church. Lets just say two and a half hours later I was pretty much dancing out to the car with excitement when the birth certificate was finally finished. Ken and I are on his birth certificate as his parents!! YAY!!! After we had the birth certificate we were headed back home and I was able to get another great two hour massage.

So tomorrow we head to the region's capital to apply for his passport. The city his orphanage is in is two hours from where he was born. His orphanage is also a few hours away from where we need to get his passport. Ukraine is divided into different regions and each region has a "capital city" I guess that is what you could call it. Kiev is the capital of Ukraine though just in case you were wondering. It is kind of confusing. :) Hopefully I will be able to let you know soon how it went. I am not sure when I will have internet once we leave this city (where his orphanage is) tomorrow.

Before we went to Luke's birth city, we went to lunch with the taxi driver and another lady. Well, we had a great time except no one could understand each other. It was pretty funny! I was sitting across from our taxi driver and mom was sitting across from the lady. Can we say awkword? I could only understand mom and our taxi driver could only understand that lady. Our taxi driver told me I need to learn more Russian. :) I did tell him all the words I knew but I am not sure how much that impressed him. So we did a lot of laughing and pointing. I am sure we looked so dumb. Oh well. We had a great time. I feel like I can relate to the people at the tower of Babel and how frustrating that would have been with all of the different languages. I do wish I knew a little more Russian. I know enough to get around and figure things out but not enough to have a conversation. Maybe one day. But for now I will stick to English.

I took this picture today during our short visit before we headed to his birth city. He has started to warm up to my mom and even sat on her lap. I love it!

In adoption news:

Please pray for the passport we will be getting for Luke. Please pray that we can get him one that will only take three days instead of the new ones that take five days. I know that is only a two day difference. But if it is a three day passport, we will have it by Friday and travel to Kiev for the Embassy appointment over the weekend and go to the Embassy  the beginning of next week. Then we will be able to travel home the middle of next week instead of the end.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Two More Days!

Two more days until he is out of the orphanage forever!! We will not be able to take him out of the orphanage tomorrow because of all the places we need to go after we get the court decree. We will be able to take him out on Wednesday though!! I am sad we cannot get him out tomorrow but I cannot wait for Wednesday!!!

These past few days mom and I have done a lot of hanging out at the house, going to town and visiting my sweet Luke. I think I can now relate to mailmen. I have now walked to see Luke in the rain, snow, hail, freezing wind and the occasional sunny days. The weather here is so funny to me. Today it hailed for a little while in the afternoon and an hour later, when we were going to see Luke, it was a bright sunny day. Let me tell you! the other day mom and I were in town and all of the sudden, without warning, we were in the middle of a hail storm. Who knew? In April! The weather it is totally unpredictable. It is going to be weird to go home and be able to wear a short sleeve shirt! I just realized I will be getting off the plane when we get home in 70 degree weather wearing a turtleneck. Oh well.

The hail from today. I know you were dying to see it!

Two days ago (Saturday) we introduced luke to a sippy cup with a straw. Oh boy. You would have thought he had won the jackpot. He was so proud of that thing! He showed it to all of his group workers, the staff and to anyone who walked by. Even today, two days later, he shows his new cup off to everyone. It is the sweetest thing in the world! We had to teach him how to use it. He has the sucking out of a straw thing mastered but gets frustrated when no juice comes out when he tips the cup up. I show him how to use it and he does pretty well at remembering!

He is loving his new cup!

Giving his whale a drink.

 Did you know you can fit that stuffed whale inside of a kids jacket pocket without it showing? I never know what he will pull out of his pockets when we pick him up from his group. Today he pulled out an important key to a door at the orphanage. He had that key in his pocket the whole time we had him! That did not make his group leader too happy when she found out. Not sure how he got it! It totally looked like we let him have the key too! I couldn't explain that I had no idea it was in there. oh well.

His mouth did not come off of that cup for a long time!

Isn't he cute?

Today (Monday) we did a lot of playing inside. When we play inside a lot, he gets really excited and can get really loud for the orphanage workers. Do you know how hard it is to keep a little four year old boy quiet for a long time. Thats right it is pretty much impossible. Oh! I forgot to add that he is not supposed to sit on the floor either. We have gotten many looks and have been told many times not to sit on the floor. Ken and I have been caught many times on the floor with him. Oh well. So that leaves us to being only able to play on the couch made for two people to sit on. That is a recipe for disaster for any little boy. We still let him play on the floor when no one is there (it is clean for those who might wonder). Ok now dont go and tell the workers on me. He does really well for a little while playing on the couch. I am so proud of him! I can't wait to get home so he can play in some mud and just be a boy.

Playing with Babushka/grandmother/mimi on the two person couch (not sure what he will call my mom yet).

Trying on Babushka's watch.  

He loves watches!

Today I took some pictures of Luke for his passport picture and to give an updated picture to the SDA when we go back to Kiev. I can give the SDA an updated picture and they will give me the picture we were shown from when he first entered the system at two. I learned a lesson though, never give a kid Oreos before you need to take a close up picture!

I bought him this light blue sweater in Kiev. He is so proud of it! :)

I think i will use this one for his passport picture.

He is too cute!!

When he gets loud, stressed out or overstimulated, I always pick him up and hold him facing me to where his head is on my shoulder. It is so amazing how much that calms him down. The moment I pick him up he will lay his little head on my shoulder and immediately be relaxed. It is almost like he has never been held like this before. I know the workers do not do this and I wonder if anyone has ever picked him up and just held him like a baby. It is the sweetest thing. He loves to just rest on my shoulder. It is like his safety zone. He is so precious.

In Adoption News:

Tomorrow (Tuesday) we will get the court decree and we will be "officially" on paper Luke's parents!! Yay!! The ten day waiting period was over on Saturday but we have to wait until tomorrow to pick it up because offices were closed today (Monday).

Tomorrow we will also head to the city where he was born, which is two hours from here, to get a birth certificate with his new name on it and Ken and I as his parents. I am so excited!!!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Ten Days is up Tomorow!

Tomorrow...yes tomorrow people will be the end of our ten day waiting period!!! Yay!!! We made it!!! Well I wish I could say we are going to the orphanage and picking him up never to return again, but we have to wait a few more days. "Why?" you ask? Well when the ten days is up on the weekend, you have to wait until a weekday to sign your child out of the orphanage. Monday happens to be some kind of holiday or offices closed or something so we will not be able to take him out until Tuesday. It cannot come quick enough! After we get him out of the orphanage, we still have to get his birth certificate, apply for a passport and get a visa so we will be here another week and a half.

How long have I been in Ukraine again? I can't even remember. Wait...just counted and it has been 27 days. I never know what time it is and don't even ask me what day it is. Mom and I were walking home from the orphanage the other day and we were trying to figure out if it was Wednesday or Thursday. It's that bad! It feels like all of the days are flying by so fast that as soon as we leave the orphanage for our second visit of the day it is already time to get up and visit him again. I cannot wait until I can be around him all of the time!! I love everyday being able to see my sweet little son and learning all about him. It has been so much fun! It is always a new and exciting adventure! I Love it!!

Speaking of adventures. Today we walked outside and it was colder than it has been since my mom has been here. My mom was raised in Florida and now lives in the south (Yes, Florida is south but come on its not the "real" south) so cold weather does not register in her system. Not only was it cold, it was raining. Bless her sweet soul. I had no idea how to call a taxi in Russian and the bus does not come to where we live. So, off we walked. One mile and fifteen minutes later, we made it to the orphanage. I was used to the weather but my mother came from the hot weather in the 70's back home. Oh that would be nice to be in a warm environment. Um...back to reality. She did wonderful and did not complain one bit! She was a champ!

Mom wanted documentation that she braved the cold weather and walked to the orphanage. :)

When we got to the orphanage the rain had stopped and we were able to play outside for a little bit. Luke loves to play in the sandbox (also know as the dirtbox) so we played in there for most of the time this morning. Over the dirtbox was a plastic covering and it was filled with water. There were some earthworms that must have gotten lost and fell into the water. He saw the worms and thought they were the coolest thing ever cause they were moving all around. I felt sorry for the little worms so I fished them out, picked them up and moved them to a better location. The location was an old tire that was painted and turned into a flower pot (that's creative for sure). Now the plants in the tire will have great dirt thanks to the worms. He loved watching them go back into the dirt. It was like a science lesson I guess. :)

Look at the earthworms go! Well you might have to enlarge this picture and squint to see them. :)

I love his cute little smile! Not sure why I am still pointing...

Here are some pictures from yesterday (Thursday) and today (Friday). Enjoy!

He loved the horse!

He is one brave kiddo! He took off on this thing. I grabbed him at the last second because he wanted to climb down head first. Not sure that would have worked out too well. :)

Look at those precious eyes!!

He is eating his first Oreo!! Not sure if I was really supposed to give him one but I was running out of new and exciting snacks. :)

Looking at pictures while making things.

Ken and I found this plastic set of gears. Luke loves to make cubes and attach the gears so one will move the other. He is a genius!

Looking at pictures of Daddy and talking to him on the phone today. It was so precious!! : )

He made a garage out of Legos for his cars. He is so smart!

In adoption news:

Please pray that the US government does not have a "shut down" (or that it's very short) because if it shuts down, so do visas. We will need to get one for Luke to come back to the states in a week or so. So pray that we will be able to get one.

Please continue to pray for our friends the Theinemans as they are in Ukraine to adopt. Please pray for their process to go smooothly and for the Lord to smash and break through some barriers that they are facing right now.