Sunday, February 28, 2010

we have been home 1 week...

And still NO word on court dates. I really miss Artiom. We had a birthday party at our house today and we watched the video of Ari, now I miss him even more. If I had a date, I would probably feel better, at least I would know when we would be seeing him again. But this not knowing.... it really stinks. He should be here right now.
I sure hope we hear soon.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Lost in Translation...

I can't tell you how many times on the trip I would say to Rich, "If we just had a translator here, I would ask Alexander, just WHAT were you TALKING about for the last month?? It was seriously like a very long continuation of the game Charades. Everyday. Some of the questions on the top of my list would go like this:

1) Did your grandfather REALLY shoot an Apache Indian with a bow and arrow????

2) Did you REALLY mean to say you didn't get much sleep last night because when you got home your wife Larissa was in "feathers"??? hmmm...

3) Did you and Larissa REALLY meet on a ship far off in the ocean?? Romantic, but I doubt it..

4) Did you REALLY mean to ask Rich, " Did you meet a wonderful woman yet in Ukraine" we all laughed and shook our heads and I told him to repeat the question. But when he repeated it it was the same... Rich glanced nervously back at me and said "yah, THAT one, and he pointed at me"

5) Did Rambo in the country REALLY try to sell us a sculpture his grandfather carved? For one hundred Grivna? By the way, I think I saw Made in China on the bottom! Ha.

6) Is Nickola, Rambo's quiet, unassuming, possibly special needs neighbor, REALLY an expert in Jin Jitzu and Karate?? And he speaks fluent French? (well, I have to say, he DID bow over my hand and kiss it and say "Madame" when he left....)

and last but not least....

7) Are you REALLY a Communist??

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I'm out of funny stories.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Escort Service

I don't think I told you this... I was just thinking about the trip last night and remembered this . In Kiev on the way over, we stayed in an apartment that had an 'escort service' in one of the apartments. We would walk by it on our way up to our apartment (which by the way was the 5th floor, no elevators, remember that when you are packing) anyway, we would always look at the sign on the door and think " man, what kind of place is THAT". Then the evening we were to catch our train down to region, Rich and Lindsey went to get some documents from the SDA and Shane and Alex stayed with me to pack up and get ready to go.
Rich told me that a cab would be picking me up in about a half hour and to make sure I was ready. I packed up and took the kids down to wait by the front door, which was a really dark, dirty and cold entry way. We waited and waited and waited. No cab. We stood there for an hour and a half waiting. I know I should have went back up to the apartment, but I was SURE it would be there any minute and didn't want to miss it, because I didn't know when our train left and it was on the 5th floor etc. So we just waited, Shane was not happy with me for making him stand there and Alex got very 'squirrelie' and a big babushka came by and scolded me for Alex taking his boots off.
Then some women came out from the escort service apartment. They walked by us and one of them said, "I know you have been out here a really long time, why don't you come inside my office and wait where it's warm"....Ahhhh, well, I think we're ok out here, but thank you. :)
But she insisted and it was cold and I really wanted to sit down, so we followed her inside. It was nice in there and she sat us down in what was probably the little 'getting to know each other' room with a cute little table and chairs and couch, oh and some not very family friendly pictures!
She got out her tea service and cute little china cups and served us tea. She was in a hurry to get some where so she left us there and said we could stay as long as we wanted.
I could hear other girls in the next room answering phone calls and asking which girls the caller was interested in. It was a little wierd. An hour and a half later, Rich finally calls me to see where we are, I whispered" I'm in the escort service" he said "WHAT"??? I whispered again I'm in the ESCORT SERVICE because no cab came and the nice lady let me come in". He was surprised, but not overly concerned (nice!)
He said he would be there shortly, but we really had to book it to the train because we were really running late. I politely thanked the girls in the next room, and got Shane's eyes back in his head and wiped that silly smile off his face (he's 18, you figure it out) and we hurried to catch the train.
I have pictures of us sitting there with our tea, I'll post them when I get them downloaded :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

While the cat is away, the mice will play...

I leave my kids with my parents for a month and now this morning my 7 yr old got out a deck of cards and asked if I had any money!! He wanted to play poker!

Knowing my dad, I guess I should be glad that's all he learned....

Monday, February 22, 2010

our last few days in Ukraine

I have a few minutes to update the last few days there.

I ended up going to the dentist 6 times while there. They were making me a new crown and it was supposed to be put on this Tuesday, but obviously that wasn't going to work out. So they put a rush on it the day we left and I went in twice that day, getting it put on an hour before we left for our train. And by the way, if you know my husband you know that he is...lets say, ahem, grivna conscious (cheap) and he made me WALK to the dentist on a Friday night on to Lenin Ave, which is VERY busy and about a mile each way...all to avoid spending the $3.oo on cab fare. Yes, that was hectic.

Alexander took us on another outdoor excursion, as he calls it. I called it crazy since it was cold and snowy and icy. He took us to a place by the Dneiper River that docks ships and in the summer months does cruise tours to the Island. It would be really beautiful in the summer. Not so much in February though. Then we walked to where there is an amusement park type of place, which wasn't running because of the time of year, but it was interesting to see all the old rides, I certainly wouldn't want to get on that ferris wheel, which in Ukraine is called a Devil's Wheel. But I was sure surprised when I saw a camel standing in the snow! And then a llama and donkey too! That was neat. Then we walked to a pretty little spot over a stream with a bridge and 2oo+ yr old oak tree's. Again, would be really nice in the summer time.

Then we drove over to where the ships dock and explored that a little. Alexander told us about when he was young he swam out to where the ships were and took the oval window out of it to make himself a telescope! He had to re-inact what he was trying to say because his English isn't good, but he was so funny. When he was showing us what he did he was tip toeing saying "I take..take..take..." I think you had to be there to get that it was really funny, but it was :)

That night we went to pick his wife up at her mothers house, we were all stuffed in his little car, and we almost got into a car accident. It was freezing rain again and there was a gas truck in front of us with a car in front of that. It was dark and we were going down an incline in the road, which is a WHOLE nother story..The roads there are HORRIBLE. Anyway, the car in front started doing a u-turn in front of the truck and we almost ran into both of them. But thanks to Alexanders awesome driving we managed to miss both! But it was scary. Seriously, who ever is going to Zap needs to get him for a taxi driver. He is the sweetest man I have ever met. He took such good care of us, just like he was our family.

The night we left for the train station, which is a very stressful part of the trip because there are a million people there, it was freezing, and its a 'rough' place to go. But the biggest stressor is that the train only stops for 5 MINUTES. Yes, 5 minutes, then it's gone. More about that in a minute.
Rich and Alexander went to check on our tickets to see where we needed to be. Alexander had us put our luggage in a circle and then stand all around it so no one would steal it. It was dark and cold and a Friday night, which make it even 'rougher'. He said people will steal the shoes off your feet! So anyway, when they went to check on where we should be, the kids and I were standing around our luggage, trying to blend in. Then 4 guys started beating the crap out of another guy right next to us!! I kid you not. I have never seen anything like it in real life before. They had him down on the ground kicking the heck out of him, his face, his whole body. Then they drug him up and were punching him. I was staring, the kids were staring with their mouths open and it was a little freaky. I was hoping someone would DO something to stop it, but no one did. It was terrible. Then the guy got away and ran off. The thugs were then walking all around us hollering something. We just tried to ignore them and again, *blend* in.

Then Alexander and Rich came back and we told them what happened, and then a totally DRUNK old, old man comes up to us and starts talking and talking in Russian. Alexander tried to get him to move along, but he wasn't moving. He was so drunk. We gave him some bread and I dug out my change and gave it all to him. He was so happy he started crying and hugging me. Let me tell you, its a HARD life in Ukraine. That's the biggest thing we got out of the trip. These people have so little, and so little hope of anything getting better. So they all drink, and the women are so...lets say, 'desperate' looking. It's a hard life.

So then we carried our insane amount of luggage (which I will NOT do again) to where we thought we needed to be. Many MANY stairs and a long walk. Then Alexander went to make sure we were in the right spot and he was gone a few minutes and we see him RUNNING back to us. Rich thought, "oh Sh*t" we're in the wrong place and it only stays 5 minutes! So we had to book it to the right place and got there as the train was approaching. Everyone started running to where it would be stopping because they all knew the 5 minute thing. But we had the absolute last car on the train, so we had to go ALL the way down to the end of the train. Again, very cold out, dark and we are so worn out from all the stairs and luggage. Alexander took Lindsey and was way ahead of us. By the time Rich and I made it down to the end with Alex, we were the last ones outside the train and we thought they were going to leave with out us. But Alexander met me where I needed to get on, and it was so rushed, I gave him a big hug and he was gone. He was worried it was going to leave with him on it! But I didn't even know where Lindsey was, or if she was on the train. It turns out she was in a different car, and we eventually found her.
Ok, words of advice here, if you are going on the train, try to AVOID getting the very last car. Think of a snake and how the tail end goes all over the place.... well, lets just say it was a VERY bumpy 11 hours! No sleep. 5 people, VERY small space and felt like we were in a storm at sea!
So, we got all situated on our cots and we still had the door open because we needed the air in there...again, 5 people, small space....need I say more. Anyway, a young guy walks by our door and stops and pops his head in and says in broken English, " do you know what car we are on?" and he's eying us was weird. Rich just stared at him a second and said "#12" and the guy walked away. Rich said he felt like saying "dude.. if you don't even know what car you're on, you have some issues" It was funny! But we shut the door and locked it after that. We thought maybe he was sizing us up.
So we ate our bakery goods we brought with us and it laughed about what a crazy time we have had. They had sheets and a little hand towel for us to use and Lindsey joked that she was going to bring it home as a souvenir. We said, "NO your are not!" but didn't think much more about it. Then the next morning when we got off the train we lined all our luggage up in the snow outside the train and looked around for our facilitator, which wasn't there. We were debating what to do when a train worker came out and had a hand towel in his hands. He holds up 4 fingers and says in very broken English, "there were only 3 on the train" he then pointed to all our luggage (10 peices in all) and wanted us to open up everything and look for that stinkin towel! At that point Rich just shook his head and said " I'm not opening them" and the guy kept pointing to the bags. It got weird. It was a stand off between Rich and this guy, which didn't look like he liked Americans at all. Then Rich got out some grivna and said "how much" the guy shook his head and motioned towards the luggage again. Rich shook his head and held up the grivna. The guy got mad and just grabbed the grivna and walked off. I looked at Lindsey and said if she had that towel, I was going to wring her neck. She swore she didn't.
When we got home and unpacked, there was the stinking towel! She is in trouble for that one.

Then on the way home in Kiev, the little plane we had looked like a twinkie! It was so small and then they had to de-ice it over and over again. Not good. Then once we were on it we were taxiing down the runway and some guy directly behind me got on his cell phone. Dumb. The flight attendant came and was all excited and told the guy to give it to him, and the guy refused. The plane slows down and stops and the captain came on and said "there's a passenger in seat 18 who refuses to follow the rules of the airline and if he doesn't do so right now, we'll turn this plane around" The stinkin guy STILL wouldn't give his phone up. But a different flight attendant came and told him to show it to her and prove it was off. He did, so we continued with the flight.
That night in Germany we had another issue with our hotel room, and we thought we were all going to have to sit in the hotel for the night, it was stressful, but it got worked out. Our luggage however, did not stay in Germany, so we had NOTHING but my purse. Not good.
The next morning on the flight, there was ALOT more de-icing, it took about 40 extra for the de-icing. Luckily I was pretty much over my fear of flying by that point. :)

On a happy note, in Chicago the flight was overbooked, so they asked if anyone wanted to change their tickets and take a later flight. We volunteered, but they only needed 3, so Shane and Lindsey took the regular flight and Rich and Alex and I took a later one. So we got 3 FREE ROUND TRIP TICKETS ANYWHERE IN THE US! That's huge for us :) Very happy about that.

I think that's all. Can't wait for the continuation in a few weeks.....

our last few days in 'my special country'

I have a few minutes so I'll post about the last week there.

Alexander took us back to the Peter 1 museum to finish

Yes, we are home...

Wow, that was a lot of travel! But we are safely home, but without Ari for the time being. No, things didn't happen the way we had anticipated, but we had a wonderful time in 'my special country'. For a month I lived like a person from 'my special country', explored more of it that I ever dreamed I would, made wonderful friends, and met the sweetest little boy that will be a very special part of our family. And for all that I am very thankful.

I have alot of interesting details to share later with you as well as MANY pictures. Thank you all for following our journey and your comments! I was very excited the whole trip to check my blog and see who commented :) You RR ladies are great!


Thursday, February 18, 2010

No Court Date's Given

We are going to have to come home with out Artiom. They are just not giving any court dates and there's nothing that can be done about it. We will have to come back in 2-3 weeks, when we can get a 'confirmed' court date. This really stinks. We were late to visit Ari today and the nanny said he was crying because he thought we weren't coming. So this is really going to confuse him, but I don't think I can stay here while Rich goes home because it 'may or may not' be in early March.
We will probably leave Zap tomorrow night on the train, and leave Kiev on Sunday. I'll update more if I can later.


Better days...

Artiom has been a sweetie the last few days again, thankfully. Yesterday we went back to the museum with Alexander to see the rest of it. It was interesting, I'll post some more pics, mostly it was of military related things and leaders and such and the history of Ukraine. The day before we went the sauna with Alexander, that was fun. It was nicer than I expected, I didn't go into the actual sauna room, but the rest of the family did. Then they would come out and jump in the pool and go back into the sauna. Alexander brought homemade jams with and boiled water and he made us a natural hot drink out of it, it was really good. Then the men all played some pool and ping pong in their underwear, yes, they were al in their underwear! I saw WAY more of Alexander than I ever thought I would! haa ha ha

Then we went to a cake factory where his wife works, and bought some good cakes. Yesterday he also took us to a really big outdoor market that we haven't been to before. It was fun, but too big. I have another dentist appt in about an hour and another one again on Tuesday. We still haven't heard anything at all about court. If it wasn't for Alexander, I don't know what we would be doing all this time, he has made it SO interesting for us. The weather is better today, at least we can see some sun for once, but it's still cold.

Thanks so much for giving me some updates on RR, I really enjoy that. Nancy, do you have a date yet??? Forget it... I just checked and you do!!! I emailed you.

I'll add some pics now


Monday, February 15, 2010

not a great visit today

Artiom was very,very crabby today. We had to walk over to the other building at the orphanage because there was a meeting going on in the music room in Artiom's building. He didn't like the change of environment at all, and to top it off in the music room in the other building there were ladies selling clothing and candy, so Ari was even worse because of that. He was doing alot of crying and slapping us. He got Rich so good one time, he saw stars. But Rich said, "well, atleast we know he can defend himself at home with that jit-su move. ( I know I spelled that wrong)
So I think we have our work cut out for us.....
I know you are wondering about the pics of your kiddo's (RR mommies) and I think about it every single day we go there, it's just that we don't really see anyone to ask, and the one's that we do see when we go to get Ari and bring him back, don't really give us the time of day. We haven't seen Serge since the first week here. I am still really hoping to get him to take some pics for us, I know how much you are anticipating seeing your little angels.

Yula :)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Turkish Toilet at the Orphanage

This is the bathroom at the Sun. Rich had to use it the other day, and he came out of it looking rather sheepish, and said "I'm not feeling like much of a man right now" Haa haa haa

museum pics...sad and a little creepy too

outdoor market next to orphanage (walking distance)

country pictures

these are from our good friend/taxi driver Alexander's house

more pics of Alexander's house in the country (rambo's)

these are from the other Alexander's (Rambo) house in the country

post #2

Whew, I wasn't done with the post and the computer shut off and I thought I lost it all!! It took my an hour to type, yes I'm slow. But Thankfully, I found the draft, because I would NOT have typed it all over again. So anyway, about the court date, we still don't have one because of the elections and no judicial appointments being made. On Thursday night Serge called us and told us that and we thought we had about 2 hours to pack everything and get to the train station to make it up to Kiev in time to make our flight home, because we thought we were all going to come back home without Artiom. It was extremely stressful, and I packed us all up, but didn't feel good about the decision, knowing we wouldn't see Ari again for 2-3 weeks or more. I started to think I should stay, and told Rich that's what I was going to do. He thought about it and decided to call his workplace and talk with them to see if it was possible for him to stay also. He was anticipating taking 2 weeks off, 3 max. Thankfully, they agreed that he could stay, I was SO relieved that he wasn't leaving. Lindsey is going to have to take summer school I suppose, because we weren' anticipating her being away so long either.
So now we're just waiting and hoping the grivna doesn't run out :) I really really miss my kids at home, and that has been the hard part about this whole trip, but I still like it alot here, it's been so interesting. And I'm very thankful for Alexander, he's a good friend.


I'm baaaack :)

Hi everyone! Boy it's been a busy couple of days here in Zaphorizia. We broke our computer so I couldn't update, Rich had to buy a new one. I also broke the phone, the one and only time I actually got to use the phone and I broke it. Rich had to walk 2 miles to the store to get a new sims card to put in it. I was not popular that night.

We did end up going to Alexanders house the other night, it was alot of fun. They live in a very small apartment, and have little, yet made us such a wonderful supper. We had borsht, potatoes, fish, fried garlic bread, grapefruit, eggs, pickles and to drink we had brandy,beer,tomato juice and tea. Yes, it was an odd combonation, but all very good. His adult children were there and his daughter played piano for us. Alexander is the nicest man I have ever met. For those of you coming to Zaphorizia, I highly recommend asking for him to be your taxi driver. I will get his car# and post it, then you can have your facilitator ask for him to come for you.

I have been to the dentist 5 times this week and I have atleast 2 more visits scheduled. Yesterday Alexander took me to the dentist, and when I was back in the room getting worked on (which I'm SURE the dentist is a little 'drill happy') Alexander had to leave, so he came back to the room and said, "Yula, Yula, I go now" I didn't know if he was coming back, so I said "call Victor and tell him". Remember, we are Yula and Victor here. So, he called Rich and told him "Yula in hospital, smoke coming out of her mouth" So, Rich gets all worried that I'm in the hospital, ( he didn't come with me because he had to walk to the store to buy this new computer) So he said, Yula's in the hospital with smoke coming out of her mouth?? Alexander said "Da", so Rich said , "you mean the dentist?" Alexander said, "oh, yes, dentist." and he was right, there was smoke coming out of my mouth, I swear they were using a hot glue gun in there too!

Alexander wasn't there when I got done, so I decided to walk home. It's about a mile and a half I suppose. The first half wasn't bad because I was relatively sure I was going to right way. A man stopped his car and got out and asked me something in Russain, I just shook my head and said "English" and kept walking. Then I did'nt recognize things anymore. I just kept walking hoping I would see something I remebered, but I didn't for quite a while. I did feel a little bit worried, I had no phone or anything and didn't have any idea where our apartment was at this point. But I'm like a homing pigeon, I guess, because I kept walking and eventually saw vendor stands that looks familiar. Rich was a little worried when I finally got home.

Yesterday Alexander took us to a museum, the Peter I museum I think. It was really really neat. There was one room there that we spent the most time in that has 'freak show' people in wax figures. One guy from Mexico had a tiny head identical to his regular head on top of his head. So it was a normal looking man with a little matching head on his head. Weird. One guy had only one eye in the center of his face,he was American. One had no lower body, american too. But, the most facinating thing was there was jars all over with fetus's in them. Deformed fetus's, to the extreme. These poor little babies were terribly deformed, like with the brain on the outside, and claw like hands and feet, and the internal organs on the outside and things like that. One baby had one eye in the center of her face, one had two heads on one body. These were REAL, not wax, not replicas. We took pics, I will have Shane post them.

Alexander also took me and Lindsey and Alex down to the Dneiper River to walk out on it frozen. We had to walk about a mile to get to it and it was FREEZING that day, it was not my favorite excursion.

Tomorrow he wants to take us to a sauna. I'm not crazy about this idea, so I think I will stay home with alex.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I survived...but barely

Yes, I had the root canal this morning. The day started out with freezing rain, and our cab didn't show up, we couldn't get ahold of another one, and we were already a little late for my appt. at this point. Rich thought he remembered where it was and thought it was about a 15 min walk. But its freezing rain and they do not salt here. It was like a total skating rink, and people were dropping like flies. Seriously, people were falling all over the place and now we have to walk how far(?) to the dentist that Rich "might" remeber where it is...for my root canal. Ugh. But what can you do? besides, I looked around and saw little old ladies sliding around and I said if they can do it, I can do it :)
We got there about 35 minutes late and frozen solid, but we didn't fall. It was a looong procedure with very little English spoken. I had a different dr today, but halfway through the Tom Cruise dr came in and said slowly in English "I have very important announcement to tell is national dentist day and that mean this morning, we no drink vodka" Haha ha. I couldn't smile or laugh because I was a little preoccupied at the time but when it was all finished, I pointed at him and said "you a funny man".
I have to go back again tommorrow. But, yes, I am definetely getting all I can get out of this whole experience. Its all hillarious really.

Artiom is doing well, he was aggitated yesterday, because we brought Alexander our cabbie to meet him and Ari wanted his cap really bad, and once he got it we wouldn't give it back for anything. Finally Alexander left and I did give him the hat back and I gave Artiom a bottle of coke to play with. He sat on my lap shaking the bottle and watching it fizz for a good 45 min and would have longer if I would have let him. He has a very long attention span, maybe too long.
The other day, he was standing in front of the window playing with his car for the longest time, his head kind of under the curtain, after about 30-40 minutes of this, we say ok, thats enough. When we picked him up he smiled and we saw that he had been gnawing on the metal strip he was leaning against and his teeth were all silver! Very silver, and it was time to take him back to his room. I tried to wipe it off but it didn't even lighten up! Oh well, they still let us get him the following day :)

Alexander called us this morning and said "in evening time I take you somewhere" so we'll see what that's all about. My mouth is a little sore, so I don't know if I want to go. I'll post more later, jodi

Monday, February 8, 2010

An adventure of a different kind...

Ok, so back to the tooth problem. It has gotten SO bad that I thought I would die for real this time. I had to get up twice in the night and drink vodka. It didn't help. So I had Rich call Marina this morning and say we need a dentist. Now, I really dislike going to the dentist, but I would have begged to go this morning. So we call Alexander to take us. Luckily they take me right in and I'm sitting in the chair wondering what they are going to do to me and how bad it will hurt. They spoke no English so far. I was sitting there in pain thinking about how much God must really hate me when in walks my doctor who looks just like Tom Cruise and I think, ok, He likes me a little bit :) haa haa ha.
To make a long story short, Tom spoke a little English so we got by, he got out a humongous needle and used enough novacain for a horse. I could have kissed him for that. Then he worked away what he could do today and I have to go back at 8am tomorrow for a ROOT CANAL. Can you believe it?? I can't. So if I'm still alive tomorrow night I will update you on how it went.

I will have shane post some pics from our visit at alexanders house. He wants to bring us somewhere to eat with him again tomorrow night....can't wait to see what awaits this time :)


Sunday, February 7, 2010

our adventure last night

ok.. so we have a friend here, our taxi driver Alexander. We found one we like and he can speak a little English, so we just have him come back for us everyday at noon. He is really nice, around 50, and very eager to practice his limited English. So after the visits with Artiom, he has been driving us around the city showing us the sights, like the 1000 yr old oak tree, monuments, churches,and the Dneiper river. But yesterday he took us out to the country, which we weren't even sure he was doing because of the language barrier, we just go along for the ride, wherever he takes us.
First he had to go meet a guy about some money, the guy had no money, so we had no gas. Rich dug around and found enough grivna to get enough gas to go to the country. Then we drove to a place where there was a huge compound, and it belonged to Vladimir Putin's friend. There were armed guards and all. We got out and walked around, it was a little weird. Then he took us to a fishing spot where there were people ice fishing, and yes, it was FREEZING walking around there. A guard came out and was not happy with us, not friendly. So we left.

Then we drove to another guys house and Alexander said, five minutes. We waited in the cab , and he came out with a bag that looked like it had an eel in it. He opened it up and got out his big knife and said "you eat". He sliced off a peice and gave it Rich, it was like a blood sausage. Very dark and mushy looking. Shane and I were in the back seat laughing until he sliced us off a peice too! The texture was terrible, but I have to say it didn't taste bad. But i have no idea what it was.

Next we drove further into the country. It was very isolated and snowy and Alexander pulls out his notebook, which he had been practicing writing his English words and he said very slowly " I have lost my way" meaning we're lost! Let me remind you that Lindsey and Alex are back at the apartment and they didn't know we were going to the country and expected us home hours ago. We all looked at each other like, holy crap, we're lost in the country and its almost dark. Then Alexander laughs and says " it's a joke" in his broken English. He's a funny guy alright, I was just glad he was joking.

On a side note, everytime he would get out and go in a house or something, we would always joke around and say to each other, I bet he's going to come out and kill us now....a bit paranoid and a bit joking at the same time.

Next he says he's taking us to see his house in a small village. We went a few more miles and he pulled the car over and turned it off and said get out...(ok, he is going to kill us now ?) so we get out and he drew a line in the snow and said "walk over the line" so Rich walks over it and Alexander laughs and laughs and says " you the first American man in Maruka" that's the village name. So we all laugh and get back in the car. Then he drives a good distance more to show us his home, but he gets out and says "5 minutes" he went to his neighbors house and we stayed in the car. Dogs everywhere barking and running around, he and his big burly neighbor come back out. The neighbor went straight to Richs door and opened it and pointed and shouted "I Alexander(yes, same name) and he's pointing and shouting "what your name". Apparently Rich isn't a common name around here because he didn't understand it at all. But we laugh and they shook hands and we were just glad he didn't kill us.

Then we drove around the village area some more and saw some monuments and a church, and Alexander says we are going back to the other Alexanders house to eat. OK. but its getting pretty late, but we just go along with it. Its dark now and we park out on the road and walk up an incline to get to his house, dogs everywhere, he held one mean one back from biting us. His home was very unlike any we are used to in America. Its very small with blankets hanging over the small door ways, we go through two door ways to get into the kitchen. Alexander was in the kitchen cooking up some kind of meats. It was hotter than heck in there, with his old fashioned stove going strong. Now this guy looks like a U.'my special country' Rambo. He sits us down in the kitchen area, with a bed in it. He talked a mile a minute, better English than our driver.

He had another guy, Nickolai, there too. Staring at us. It was a little awkward. But, when in Rome.... so we sit down and smile alot. Then Rambo puts the meat in the oven and yes he was sweating ALOT, and he takes us to tour his home. He said "come, come sit in the parlor" so we go in the other room with another bed to sit on and a desk and a bird in a cage, named Chica.

He showed us the only other room, his bedroom, with 3 more beds in it. Very crowded. Then he said he was in the Russian Military and showed us his injured leg and eye from combat. Oh, and his injured rib area too. Then he started acting like he was shooting a gun in the air and pointed at Rich and said "you come with me". We looked at each other and I said he's going to kill you now. Rich got up and followed him out the door saying "are you going to shoot me now?" Hilarious! Rambo wanted to show him the pheasants he shot, whew. He gave him a tail feather to take home.

We asked if we could take some pictures of them and his home. Shane stood with Nickolai, and we were going to take the picture when Rambo yelled "STOP" and he grabbed the chain saw that was sitting in the kitchen, and put it in Shane's hands for the photo! This guy was funny...and a little scary. Then he starts putting food on the table, saying "please, please" and gesturing me to eat. He gave me his chair to sit in, he said it was the "president chair". But first we all had to toast and drink vodka, so we all stood up and he toasted "to love" and to "friendship". very interesting. Now I a NOT a drinker, so it burned going down. Homemade vodka. So we sat and he handed me a fork and said "please please please eat" ok, but I didn't even know what the stuff was, except that blood sausage stuff, I recognized that! But when in Rome.... I ate something green and mushy that I thought was maybe meat, but no, it was sweet like some kind of pickled vegetable. Actually it was pretty good. Then he gestured to the blood sausage stuff. So I had some more of that. We were having a good time except it was 100 degrees in there and I was worried about Lindsey and Alex at the apartment.

Rambo got some more meat out of the oven type thing, chicken this time, and put a big peice in a bowl for me. It was really good! No fork though, he said we must use our hands like a person from 'my special country'. He decided to rename us. He said Rich was now Victor, and Shane was Peter and I was Yula. So for the next hour we sat there eating and talking and laughing when our new freinds. Then he took out some of his things and tried to sell them to us :) We're low on grivna, we didn't buy anything. He gave Shane a rosary he got in the military in the middle east. He kept filling op our vodka glasses, atleast 5 times, and more toasts.

Then he asked if we like tomato juice, actually he showed us a picture of tomatoes to ask us. Then he and Nickolai went outside to find the tomato juice. They had a hard time finding it because they were gone a while. Now, Rich hates tomato juice, but when Rambo came back in with a big jar of homemade juice and filled our glasses with it, what can you do but drink it? I liked it, Rich didn't so much. He drank it fast to be done with it, and then Rambo filled it back up again! Ha Ha Ha. He said he wanted us to sleep there at his house (he did have alot of beds) but our driver told him we had a daughter and son in Zaphorizia and had to come back to the apartment. Whew.

When it was time to go, they were hugging us and acting like we were best freinds. Very , hospitable. We had to dodge the mean dogs again on the way out. He gave us a HUGE jar of some kind of tomatoes and a jar of relish and a jar of some kind of carrot stuff. Then he said give me 10 grivna! Ha ha, really. So Rich gave him 2o grivna. I'm not sure what that was all about. Then we left and the road we came on was blocked with snow, and it's dark and late at this point. I was somewhat worried, but he found another route, a very isolated one. But we did make it home, and yes, Lindsey was furious at us, all we had for her to eat at the apartment was bread.

My mom had called to talk to me when we were at Rambo's house and I was laughing and a little goofy from all that vodka. She thought we were CRAZY for being there. She thought they were getting us drunk to rob us :) So she was releived when she called back later that night and we were all still alive, and not robbed. And so was I.

Now THAT was a real 'my special country' experience we won't be forgetting any time soon.


we're still here...

and boy do i have a story to tell you!! I don't have time right now, because we are going to the orphanage soon, but you WON'T believe it! We have had an experience like no other, don't worry, it's a good one.
on a different note, I need a root canal, and obviously I don't want to get one in 'my special country'! It is SO painful i can't stand it at times. part of my story has to do with having vodka in the countryside, which DID seem to help the pain :) but man, I don't know what i am going to do. We still don't have a court date. I took an antibiotic today, don't know if that was a good idea or not, but we'll see. any suggestions?? it really hurts, my whole side of my face and ear too.

so later, when i come back to the internet cafe, i will tell you all about our experience with our new friends in thier home off in a village somewhere....yes we are still alive, and no it probably wasn't the 'smartest' thing we have ever done, but it was something we won't likely forget, and it all ended up good. that's part of the faith thing :) More later, Jodi

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


another day, another grivna...

hello, it snowed again last night, so cold again today. i sure wish we would have come in the spring or fall. but oh well. we had a good visit with ari today, he was a little more subdued today, i think he was tire.d. he loves his juice that i brought him, but i could only give him a little bit. shane and i walked about a mile each way to a big store today, it was cold and a long walk, not sure if it was worth it... we have had an awesome driver the yesterday and today, his name is alexander and he is around 50 yrs old and very nice. he speaks a tiny bit of english, so its like playing a really bad game of charades! when he brought us home from the orphanage he said he had a present in the trunk for us, and he pulled out a bag of fish that he caught in the dniper river here. i'm not exactly sure what we will do with them, but it was so sweet of him. he is the guy in the pic with me and lindsey. the nannies didnt let us in the room yesterday or today, they just have him ready and sort of push him out the door to us. i still havent seen serge to take the pics, but i will definetely ask him when he is here. we did hear from marina today, she said the interpol thing 'should' be done by next week, and we 'should' have court sometime after the 10th. we shall see. Yes, i would love to get updated on all the RR stuff, i havent been able to access the site here.

more later, jodi

Tuesday, February 2, 2010