Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A few more days of around Kiev

We have enjoyed several more days walking around Kiev.  The weather here is so nice, in the 60s.  Fall is here!  It will be quite a shock to our bodies to be greeted by the 90+ degree weather in Birmingham.
 Here we are visiting St Volodymyer's Cathedral.  This is a Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
 This is our stroll through the botanical gardens.

 Here are some pictures of our apartment.  We are the most central street in Kiev.






 We are at the big park on the river that runs through the center of town and all the way through Ukraine.

















Monday, August 25, 2014

Meal Calendar link

Some of you asked for me to put the meal calendar link on the blog.  This calendar is set up to help Preston with meals while I am still in Ukraine and for my first few weeks home as we adjust.  We really appreciate all of your generosity.

Meal Calendar

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Karis the tourist days 2 and 3

We have enjoyed two more days of sight seeing...and hopefully only 3 more to go until we have a passport and lots more meeting.  I am really enjoying showing her around Kiev.  She is enjoying seeing everything and playing in the parks.




 Here is the bell tower at St Sophia's.
 Here she is at St Michael's.
 Karis loved swinging.

Absolutely enjoying this milkshake.


 Here she is at the Great Gate of Kiev.



Thursday, August 21, 2014

Karis the Ukrainian tourist

We are back in Kiev.  Our morning was spent doing adoption related tasks.  This afternoon Karis and I turned into tourist.

I took her to a nearby park all the boys loved playing at when they were here.  She enjoyed it and had the most fun in the sandbox.




 For dinner we went to the Ukrainian Cracker Barrel. She loved it.  At first she pointed to everything on the menu, so I decided to order pilminua for her.  All the boys loved it, so I figured she would too. She ate every bite of it.  I also ordered her a milk shake to drink.  I think this was her first milk shake.  She was so excited....and drank every last drop.



 
Big House enjoyed eating his borsht.



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The bravest little girl

Today I met the bravest little girl.  She was awaken at 3:45 am, got dressed and placed into a large car, while it was still dark outside.  She then took a 4 1/2 hour ride in this car to a city larger than she had ever seen before, road in a street car, spent time at a passport office where people had to take her picture and she had to be moved from seat to seat.  She then ate her first Happy Meal, sat 4 hours in a train station waiting for a train to arrive.  She had to walk down a huge platform to a train...definitely the biggest vehicle she had ever seen.  She then road the train for 7 1/2, got out on a dark train platform, road an escalator for the first time, came out in a really big city with tons of lights and people.  She got in to another taxi and drove around the city for a little while until she went into a large several story building and then into an apartment.  All of this she did with excitement, enthusiasm and a smile on her face!  Wow, she is brave.  There were several times she would hold me close and kiss me many times.  I feel our time at the orphanage was priceless and really helped her feel safe and secure with me.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Blessed by 7 days of incredible bonding with my girl!





On August 13th we, Preston’s Dad and I, moved from our apartment in Izmail to the orphanage in Kiliya.  At the same time Preston and all three boys started their journey back to the US.  (They are back now and the travel went very well).   The boys needed to get back for school and Preston for work.  I still have 2 plus weeks left in Ukraine to get things finalized.

Though it was very hard to separate from the boys, I know God ordained this special time for Karis and I to be together.  Being able to focus on just her is really great for our bonding.  We are now spending every moment of our days together.  It has been so great to experience her life in such an in depth way and to be there while she is experiencing new things, but still in the comfort of her little town.  She took three, mile long walks to the market with us.  The first day you could tell she was a little hesitant to leave the gate of the orphanage and really hesitant to turn down the second road headed away from the orphanage.  Her hesitation greatly diminished on our second and third trips.  Now, it seems like she is ready to go.  Often times when we are out playing in the yard she will grab her bag, a grocery sack I had for the market that she now has all her worldly possessions in (2 dolls, a car, 2 coloring books, 2 brushes, a pencil box, and a photo book about our family and life in Birmingham…all things I have given here since our arrival) and head for the gate.  I redirect her to the playground and tell her we are not leaving today.  When we do leave on Tuesday, I think she will be ready.  

We have quickly learned some of her favorite foods and some of her dislikes.  When I asked early on what she ate, they said anything they give her.  She does have a great appetite and often eats way too fast.  We know she loves cucumbers, bread with mayonnaise, peaches, cheese, yogurt, rice, pasta, chicken, mushrooms and potatoes.  We know she does not like grapes, crackers and tomatoes.  Meal times with her are fun because I love to see her face light up when she is eating something delicious!

She is a very happy, fun-loving girl.  She smiles all the time.  Her smile will melt your heart.  She loves brushing her dolls hair, looking through books, taking things in and out of their packaging, running, jumping, climbing, throwing the ball, and gathering leaves.  She is so excited every day when I pull out a new outfit for her to wear. She loves to give hugs and kisses and I love to give them back to her.  She is just a pure joy and I am so blessed to be able to be her Mommy.



Saturday, August 9, 2014

The day our family became complete

Friday morning, August 8th, God chose to complete our family with a beautiful eight year old girl.  Over the past five weeks we have greatly enjoyed getting to know this little girl.  She is so full of energy, excitement, grace, love...and just perfection.  When she sees us for the first time at every visit her face lights up and she comes running to us...melts my heart!  She loves playing with Logan so much...the two of them will be inseperable for a while.

Friday morning our alarms went off about 4:30.  We quietly got ready not to wake up the three boys sleeping in the next room.  Preston's Dad came over to watch them.  All three woke up just before we walked out the door.  I was glad to be able to give each of them a hug and a kiss before we left.  We were out the door by 6:15, met our facilitator at the gate, and headed to the Izmail bus station to take the 7:00 bus to Kiliya.  This bus should arrive about 8:45 giving us plenty of time to be at the court house for our 10:00 hearing.  I had the idea to bring my phone and Preston's headphones and we enjoyed listening to worship music on the drive.  We have made this trip counless times without problem...until today.  We were about 1 hour 15 minutes in to the trip and the bus got a little loud.  The engine cover into the bus came off.  The driver turned off the bus and recovered the engine.  He turned on the bus and we were on our way again.  Not even two feet later the back axel of the bus broke!  He stopped the bus again and check everything.  He started making phone calls, though I understood nothing he said because it was in Russian.  He decide to keep going...I guess until a tire fell off.  He was sweating like crazy and he had a real look of concern in his eyes.  He kept looking back out the side window of his bus to see how things were going.  The thought came through my mind that we might be stranded in the middle of nowhere.  I was starting to calculate if I could run fast enough to get to the court house by 10:00, or if we did not make it there in time how much longer would we need to wait for another court date.  Just then Steven Curtis Chapman's song, "You are Faithful" started playing.  My fears totally calmed down and I sat in confidence knowing that God is faithful.  I really felt the presence of Him on the bus with us.  I began praying for the driver to feel calm and peace.  As we were entering Kiliya, the police stopped the bus for a road check.  This was the first time this happened in our 6 weeks in Ukraine.  The bus driver jumped out, spoke with him for a minute and then we were off again.  As our trip was winding down the Avalon song, Orphans of God started playing.  There are no orphans of God and this precious little girl He was going to make no longer an orphan on earth. The bus driver got us safely to our destination.  We made it to Kiliya with pleny of time to spare.

We walked to a little cafe, near the court house and killed a little time by enjoying some delicious pineapple juice.  Our facilitator went on the court house to do a few things ahead of us and then gave us a call about 20 minutes later and told us we could come.  Preston and I walked about 4 blocks to the purple courthouse.  We were here once before, so it was easy for us to find.  We waited in the lobby for a little while and the orphanage social worker joined us.  It was then our time for court.  The proceedings lasted about 2 hours.  Preston and I had to answer several questions and the judge went through our entire dossier.  They took a 15 minute recess to deliberate and returned with the judgement to grant us Karis.  It was such an exciting moment.

We were hoping the judge would waive the ten day waiting period.  He did not, which is fine.  They usually only waive it under extreme circumetances, but it never hurts to ask.  

Now, our family will be seperating soon and moving in two different directions. Preston and the boys will leave on Wednesday to start their journey back home.  They will take a car to Odessa and then a train to Kiev.  They will spend the night in Kiev and have two important meetings on Thursday.  Preston has lots of papers to sign since he is leaving the country before the end of the adoption process.  The four of them will board a plane on Friday morning to return home.  All of the boys need to get back for school (Logan is already missing his first week) and Preston needs to get back to work.  Preston's Dad (we are so thankful he is here) and I will start our journey in a different direction.  Wednesday morning we will move to Kiliya.  We will stay in Kiliya until the following Tuesday when the 10 day wait is complete.  That morning we will pick up the court ruling and head to get her a new birth certificate.  If all goes well, Tuesday night we will travel to Odessa to begin the process of getting a passport for her.  This will take several days.  At the beginning fo the following week we are hoping to have the passport and can then head to Kiev for our stuff at the US Embassy (Visa and medical check).  If all goes well we are hoping to return Labor Day weekend.