Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Still going strong

Well, I haven't been here in awhile but I think about it all the time. Today is two years since we had our interview. How things have changed...for the better.

I don't know if anyone is still looking at this blog but I may get the girls to start adding their parts to it as well. We are all doing very fine. Our girls love school and have adjusted very well.

I hope to find time to update and put up some pictures.

I love being a Papa!!


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Yes, We are still alive and well

Hi All,

No, we haven't fallen off the face of the planet, though it seems like it sometimes. This is just going to be a quick note for those still visiting this blog. I've been trying to find time in the last several weeks to give an update but haven't found any real time to do it except when I've been too tired to type.

I used to wonder what why the blog entries would slow down after coming home. I now know why. Our two girls are wonderful and we feel that we have it easy compared to many adoptive families. Our girls are healthy and bright (many times I think a bit too bright for our good :) ).

The adjustment is going very well and we are all bonding quickly. I think the girls are adjusting quicker than Virginia or I. Up until they started school two weeks ago, I would do the morning duty and then get on to work and Virginia had the girls for the day. Virginia was originally going to be working full time and I was going to do the Mr. Mom routine when I wasn't with clients. Our welcome home gift from her company was a pink slip. It would have been easier to take but she was our insurance carrier. Oh well, we are making due.

Christmas was wonderful and we had both sides of our families descend on us. The girls were a bit overwhelmed but really enjoyed knowing that they have a sizable family. They connect very well and are quite sociable.

Getting them into school was more difficult than I had thought it would be. First, both girls but especially Olena was very scared to start school because of the language differences. Second, the school they are zoned for is not one that I was willing to send them to. I had contacted the county director of ESL and got a list of schools that had Russian speaking children already in them. I wanted them to have someone that they could relate to when starting to make their transition a little easier. After going to 7 or 8 schools and learning that there were no students still speaking Russian, we went back to our first choice and finally recieved a variance. I take them to school and pick them up each day (8 miles each way) and feel it's well worth it to give them a good school to attend. They both love school and are adjusting well to the language differences. Actually, their language skills are amazing me and their teachers, both of which love having these girls in their classes.

One last note: I now really appreciate what a single parent has to go through. Virginia had to go back East for two weeks and I've had the girls to myself for the last week. Olena was sick today and couldn't go to school so I couldn't get to any work today either. It seems that Sasha is coming down with something and I hope she can beat it before it gets as bad as Olena's. The only time is a short time in the evening when I'm already dog tired from the days events. Today, I decided I was going to give this short updated and now I'm ready for bed.

On this note, good night and God bless you all.

From a tired but happy new parent,

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Home Sweet Home

13 Dec 2008

We made it. We've been home a little over 24 hours and it already feels like a lifetime. The girls love the house and have made themselves at home already. We did not have family or friends at the airport because we needed a bigger car to get us all home and the girls just needed a bit of rest. The jet lag and travel are brutal but the girls did pretty well by any standards. I'll try and not make this a long post because I'm also suffering from jet lag. We were up at 4 am this morning which was better than the night before but we are hoping the girls sleep in tomorrow until at least 7am.

It was an 11 hour flight from Kiev to JFK. Up early the next day for an early flight of 5.5 hours that left an hour late, 2 hour layover in Salt Lake and then another 2.5 hours to Reno. It's a 10 hour difference from Reno to Kiev so jet lag is a definite bummer...

We had family over today so they wore themselves out playing and having a good time in general. They seem to be a match all the way around, but then I knew that. I can't tell you how I knew that, but I knew it from the SDA appointment on. Ah, but I diverge.

The girls are doing great and we are slowly recovering from the long travels, but not the journey because there is nothing to recover from. Sounds silly, but this journey has changed us; all of us. Our experiences have left an everlasting positive impression of a peoples that are very foreign to us. I was asked by our landlady if their way of life was more difficult than ours. If that's all you know, then it's not any more difficult than ours, but since we know of another way of life, then yes, their lives are more difficult than ours in daily living. I can appreciate this much more now than I could before. Oh, I could keep on this topic for awhile but I'm falling asleep at the keyboard.

I'll start posting the updates that I kept on my computer when I wasn't able to get Internet access. It's going to take several days to do so as I do run on a bit and will need to edit for the blog.

For those about to travel, I salute you.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Last update while in country.

Hi All,

Just an quick update until we get stateside. We'll be home on Friday so I'll do some updates this weekend. I'll also post more pictures this weekend when I can work them.

For Sweeta, let us know which and I'll get it to you. I assume it's one of the infrared ones.

Or passports were ready on Wednesday of last week. We then had a quick party for the girls and went to Simferop0l to pick up the docs. We stopped by their birth town and took a walk around and learned a few things about their parents. Enlightening!! After picking up the passports, we got tickets for the train to Kiev and away we went. I'll describe this whole trip in more detail once we get back.

Right now we have the girls in an Internet Cafe here in Kiev and they just don't have the patience for this and Virginia isn't feeling adventurous enough to kill an hour wadering the streets of Kiev. For those about to come here, it's cold and snowy but feeling more like Ukraine in winter than the past week.

We are all doing fine and got the visas on Monday so we are officially done with the process here and ready to go home. Once the girls hit US soil, they are officially American citizens and we just need to do some paperwork to get their SS cards.

Family, we will be making calls once we get to New York. We'll be arriving at 4pm local and may take 2 hours to get though immigration and to the hotel. Virginia's phone is not working so we'll be calling from my phone so we may not have all the numbers with us. We'll do what we can, don't hesitate to call us and leave a message if we don't answer because we'll probably be on the phone.

As mentioned, I'll do some big updates this weekend. For clients, I'm looking at catching up starting Monday so give me a call on Friday and leave a message if you have a fire. I'll prioritze from these messages.

Hope all is well with you all.

We have our Girls and this is going to be a wonderful Christmas.

Love and Miss you all,

Sasha, Olena, Virginia and Chris

Monday, December 1, 2008

At Last, another update

Hi Kaitlin and Rafaela :) from Yalta.

Hi All,

Sorry for the long absence, but we've been doing the Great Ukrainian Paperchase. First, there are new pictures I posted today, mostly of the girls.

To make a long story short (can't happen here), the court decree has some wording issues that other agencies didn't like. After getting them fixed, these other agencies were all messed up. The vital records didn't match the birth certificates and papers had to be changed, several times. Each time was a trip to Simperofol (2 hours each way) and one day was twice. We had to have the girls with us since we needed to get their passport photos done when we finished with the paperchase. Little to say that the girls didn't attend school all week except for Monday. We finally got the agencies to get their paperwork in order and got the passports ordered on Friday.

The passport paperwork is in Kiev today so we should have the passports by Thursday...God willing. Then train to Kiev and outprocess our embassy. Our original flights we set for the 9th but were cancelled by Delta so we rescheduled them for the 11th. Good thing because we can't make the 9th will all the paperwork delays.

It's been an eventful week...NOT. We've had the girls all night and all day and have somewhat a routine. Well, we did until today. They are back in school for the next three days so we get them up and ready. They go to school during the day and we'll pick them up after homework time to feed them at our place. They no longer sleep and bathe at the Internat. Legally they are ours and the director is allowing them to spend time in school while they can.

They are so eager to come home with us. There is no question that they want us as their parents and they as our children. It's a match made in heaven of which I can give numerous examples of why our setbacks led us to them. For now, each girl has laid claim to each of us. If the other girl spends too much time with their parent, it can get kind of ugly. While travelling, Olena gets car sick so we kept here in the middle seats of a Van and Sasha sat in the back (rough ride), usually with me. We would play some games or something to pass the time. This weekend it seemed that Olena had a melt down and I feel some of it was because Sasha spent a lot of time with me. Gotta find a way to keep things in balance until we can communicate better.

Sasha has gotten in the habit of just saying "Ne or Da" "Popi". I explained that this will not do and she needs to try and communicate better, even if in Russian. Now both of them go rambling on with me and I'm left bewildered half the time. We do manage to get our ideas across and they are becoming more patient with their communications. I feel good at where we are at but can't wait until this gets easier. We've been working on their English, but the environment is not overly conducive to learning English. Until recently, they were returning to the Internat every night and only spent 2 hours a day with us so we are not as far along as we had hoped. They both want to learn English but it takes time.

Last night, I worked with Sasha and Virginia worked with Olena on their English. When Sahsa had had enough, then it was time to teach Popi some Russian. I have to say I'm having a hard time with it, especially with some of their sounds. Speaking of language, Shelly, we're using an Ectaco ITravl with Russian-English. I ordered it online and they are expensive. It's supposed to speak as well as recognize both languages, but that part broke once we got here. Since I don't have real internet access, it's been a difficult process trying to get this fixed remotely. Right now, they want me to download a 300Mb file which I cannot do here so I'll wait till I get home. We decided to keep it and get it fixed because it's helping the girls spell Russian. It won't tranaslate a misspelling so they have to get it right. You can email me and I'll respond better when I get back to the US. Just a note: I've heard that there are new changes at the SDA starting today and that there has been a stop to all dossiers being accepted for the time being. I don't know the details and they may be accepting again, but just thought I'd pass that on. This info is a few days old.

Devin, we did get the first set of photos but haven't gotten any since. Please wait until we are home to send us more because we can't view them half the time. Their computers are tempermental and I never know when I can see attachments or not. We look forward to seeing more pictures and mostly getting to see you all again. When we hit our shores, we'll give you a shout.

There are so many things to say but like usual, just don't have time to say it all. Though we, as expected, have some issues with the girls (and who doesn't), they are small. We have two wonderful girls who are healthy, smart and loving. We couldn't have asked for more and are definately more (in a good way) than I had expected. I've said this before, and I'll say it again, they are really excited to meet family. We've shown them pictues of what I brought with me and they get a charge from them. Everytime they see a program on TV, they ask if it's America. Then we have to explain that America is big and there are lots of places that are not Nevada.

Grandpa, they are excited to have a grandpa. They have asked about you several times. Since these girls have only been in the Internat for 2 years, they've had a family life before here. We don't know what that life held for them, but they seem ready to move on and happy to be in our family. They know we aren't leaving Alupka yet, but they were packing their suitcase yesterday. They kept out just enough cloths to hold them over till we travel. They even packed their toys saying that they won't need them until after the travelling. It's very cute. They are adorable and I think you'll take to them quickly. We'll just have to keep Sasha from climbing all over you :). Virginia refers to her as our "Little Monkey".

We've already bonded very heavily to these girls and they are getting there with us. They also look after each other as well. Sasha was sick the other night and Olena told Papa that she would take care of her and did all the comforting. I usually like to spend the last few minutes of the evening carressing their foreheads to help them settle down and get to sleep. Not that night, Olena was playing mother hen. They do trust us which is a very important step to begin with. It's already feeling like a family and others have mentioned that we already look like a family.

Moose, are you working out. If not, keep the tylenol handy because Sasha will literally climb up you to get on your shoulders. No kidding; she's a nimble little thing and quick too.

Well, since I can't remember what I really wanted to say, I'm going to sign off which will spur the memory and I'll post it later if I have the chance.

Love and miss you all,

Chris and Virg

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Still waiting

Not much new for this post. Come to find out that they will allow us to upload a file to one of their systems for a fee. I may just do this next Monday when we'll be back in Yalta to pick up the court decree.

We've also been busy taking some video of the girl playing through one of my camera's. It's not the best quality but you should have seem them when they got to watch themselves on the screen. I need to see if I can get it to play on the TV so they can say the've been on TV :). I'll get some of these posted once we get home. I'll make a DVD for family afar so you can put sound to the faces until we see you all.

Moose, I hope you've been working out. Virginia says she sees a difference in my bicepts from the time we got here because of all the playing with the girls. Also, brush up on whatever Russian you can because they will not know much of any English.

For those about to travel, we have used a travel phrase translator and it has been VERY useful. Then again, our girls can spell, somewhat, and they like to use it when actions don't get their point across.

Running out of time so until next Monday,

Cheers all and enjoy life,
Chris and Virginia

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pictures of the Girls

Hi All,

Well, I've tried to post here from my site but these cafe computers are too much junk for me to use reasonably. There are three pictures posted to my photo site on the right hand link.

The first one is of the four of us on Day one shortly after we met. The other two are of them on the Yalta waterfront. The only way I got these shots posted was by pulling them from an email message I had sent awhile ago. So for now, no more pictures until I find another internet cafe. There is supposed to be one in Alupka but is run out of someone's apartment and I haven't found it yet.

What news since I last posted...

We are on day 4 of our 10 day wait. For those not in the know, it's not totally official until we pick up the papers on Monday from the court. The court has granted us these children but until the 10 days are up, we don't have the paperwork.

Both girls are doing great and want to get out of here and start their new life. It's hard for them to understand why, when the court has given us the go, for them to still be at the Internat. Each day we have to tell them they have to go back and they really don't want to.

It looks like we'll have to process the passports through Simperofol but we are looking at staying in Alupka. We haven't asked if it's alright for the girls to still go to school while we are waiting for the passports. We will have the girls in our flat and have them go to school each day, if allowed. We hope to take one day and sightsee with the girls. Also, there is supposed to be a play or something like that that we have been invited to but dont' know when.

We are haning in there. Time is dragging slowly for us and we are ready to complete this process. For travel sake, I'm in no hurry to get home but want to get the girls into a steady environment ASAP.

We showed the girls pictures of Virginia's brother's wedding. They are excited to meet the family. They use the word "Class" to refer to something cool or classy. They kept using the word when seeing all the cousins they have. So, Bill, any plans in the making for this holiday season. We know the situation and we're there ourselves.

We sent away for plane tickets for the girls today so we are hoping that the 9th will be on target. If not, this is going to get expensive real fast. I've been keeping a log on our computer for their memory book, just no way to post it here, for now.

Hope all is well with the world and all is going well here.

Once again, we wanted to say thanks for the comments and emails as they do mean a lot to us.

Cheers from Yalta...still,
Chris and Virginia