Friday, April 29, 2011

First Week of School

 This was our Easter Egg hunt. 

 Cali got the shiny egg...she was pretty happy about that

 I'm not sure what we were doing here but he is almost always smiling and I love it!

 You have no idea how many pictures I delete from my camera every time he takes it for pictures.  This is a self portrait and I think he did a great job on this one.

 This is Tiffany's nursing graduation with her husband Jeff.

 I had to throw this one in....She is soooooo cute!

I finally feel rested this week.  Vitaliy started 8th grade on Monday and was thrown into a full day of school.  Luckily Monday's are early out day so it was short.  The school assigns a "buddy" for the first day of school for a new student.  His buddy gets to leave his classes early and get to them late because he walks Vitaliy to all of his classes and picks him up.  I was interested to pick the boys up on Monday.  There are five boys in my carpool including my kids.  When they got to the car they were talking about Vitaliy's first day and how some people didn't believe that he was Jason's brother.  They were all happy and Vitaliy said he had a great day.  He was in a great mood all afternoon, too.  The rest of the week followed the same way.  He has had a good day everyday and likes to be going to school.  The first day of school he came home with a notebook filled with writing in English.  It looked like he copied everything he could from the board in his classes.  I thought that was a good sign.

Sasha didn't start a regular day, he started with a computer class called Imagine Learning.  The first several days were a bit rough.  This program is supposed to be an ESL (English as a Second Language) program but it only gave a little instruction in Russian.  So, honestly, he didn't understand it.  He also has very little education under his belt and he struggled quite a bit.  It does a pretest on the student and then assesses what grade level it should place him in.  He obviously "accidentally" clicked on several right answers because it started him on reading.  Seeing that he doesn't know the alphabet yet, that seemed a problem...don't you think!  Anyway, it wasn't until Thursday that he started showing signs of following the program. (it was put down to a 1st grade level...still challenging when the instruction is in English).  After that, I had hope that it might be helpful.  In the meantime, we are working at home on the alphabet doing workbooks, computer games and other board games.  He does enjoy learning and that really is half the battle.  By Thursday he actually said two different sentences in English.  That was awesome to hear.

The weeks activities included a lot of bike riding and playing mixed in with chores.  It is a little challenging because I am used to my kids knowing what I expect them to do and trying to incorporate that into kids I have only had in my scope of influence for just a couple of weeks.  When I say everybody has to pick up, it doesn't mean you sit there until I specifically call your name and tell you to pick up!  We all have learning to do.

Tuesday night was mutual night.  Some people asked if Vitaliy wanted to go.  My answer was, my other kids don't "ask" to go...he went.  He did end up having a good time.  I took the kids to a play put on by our local group, Center Stage.  The play was the musical, "Beauty & the Beast".  Sasha loved it.  He was mesmerized the whole time.  Vitaliy didn't like parts, the romantic singing parts, I could tell.  He said he didn't like it but I watched him and I think he did but didn't want to admit it.  Why do young men think they need to be tough all the time.  Honestly, it is stupid and when they behave that way, it looks stupid, too!  Wish I knew how to say that in Russian...well probably not quite like that.

Andy and I went to our oldest daughter, Tiffany's, graduation from nursing school at UVU on Thursday night.  It was really enjoyable.  Watching her accomplish such a great thing was a amazing coming from the perspective of remember the years put toward that moment.  It was pretty cool.  I could remember all the melt downs and near "death" experiences of last minute assignments and what not.  It was fun.

When we left that night, Sasha really wanted to go.  He always wants to go everywhere with me.  But, this time he couldn't.  He stood at the window and watched me driving away.  His teacher told him before he left the orphanage that after 18 days, his family would throw him out.  I didn't realize that last night was the 18th night he has been in my custody.  Well, my MOMENT OF THE WEEK was when we came home, kind of late, and he ran down the stairs, saw me and yelled...Mama!  He was so excited.  He gave me a hug and a kiss and was genuinely excited to see me.  It wasn't until later that I counted out the days and realized what day it was.

It has been a good week...tiring...but good.  By the way...Do banana trees grow in Utah?  I buy big bunches of bananas bounteously!  I am so not kidding!!!!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Settling In

He looks pretty happy.

During the party Vitaliy road his bike around while everyone played.  He also ate like six or seven donuts!

Sasha played a lot of soccer during the party

This was the banner that was made for the boys.

Video games are only allowed on Friday afternoon and Saturday at our house so they are taking full advantage of that.

The kids were finally able to decorate eggs at 9 pm just before Easter.  We are so on top of it!!! - Not!!!

It has been a busy week.  We talked with both schools to get the boys set up in school but had to have a TB test first along with some vacinations.  We headed down to the Health Department and had all that done.  Sasha had two shots and a TB test (which is a shot in itself) and poor Vitaliy had six shots and a TB test.  Well, as I watched them over the next several days it was apparent to me that those TB tests were not looking so good.  My daughter, Tiffany, is almost - just 30 days away - from being a nurse and agreed with me that their arms did not look so good.  We were back on Wednesday to read the tests and sure enough they had a positive reaction.  They sent us over to the hospital for chest xrays and then back to the health department to turn them in.  There was no rush to get an appointment after that.  I thought, wow, for being so concerned about such a contagious disease, they were in no rush to have the doctor read the xray and let us know what was going on.  Well, they were able to squeeze us in the next day and told us that their results showed that they had been exposed to TB at some point but neither one of them had an active case.  This then meant that when they got old (when their immune system was compromised due to old age), they would run a 10% chance of contracting TB.  Or, we could put them on a medication for 9 months and it would drop their chances to 1%.  So, that is what we chose to do and will report to the Health Department one a month for nine months.  Needless to say, we were driving to Provo almost every day this week.

When all that was cleared up we got both boys registered for school.  Vitaliy starts classes this coming monday. I can tell he is a bit nervous, but he is a trooper.  Sasha, needing much more personalized attention, will start a language program at his school on Monday.  I will be working with our school district's language specialist to plan a home program that will enhance what they are both doing at school to help them learn the language and get them up to speed.  I am looking forward to them starting school because I think they, especially Vitaliy, were getting a little bored at home all week.  Vitaliy was placed in almost all of Jason's classes because they are in the same grade.  It will be good for him to have his lunch period with his brother.

It took a few days to get accustomed to being home and the time change but everything feels normal now.  Vitaliy is picking up English so quickly and it is easy to carry on a conversation with him.  He often helps me in translating to Sasha. Sasha is still very much in the mine, mine, mine and me, me, me stage and I assume that will take a while to undo.  I look forward to having him learn more English. 

The boys enjoy church for the most part and we will be starting the missionary discussions with them this coming week.  The missionaries will come and we will have a translator here to relay what the missionaries are saying.  I look forward to this.  Right now they are going through all the motions but really don't know what the motions are all about. 

We are loving our big family.  I have found, though, that I seem to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, either cooking or doing dishes.  Boy, can they eat!  I am glad though.

Our ward had a "baby shower" potluck bash for us and it was great.  I think we have completed both wardrobes and have swimsuits and towels to boot.  The primary presidency also gave both boys their first set of scriptures and scripture totes to carry them in.  Both of their birthdays are in May, so we will be working on that next.  Now we have five birthdays in May!  Those include Andy's and my birthdays so I am sure that we won't count as much. 

Right now all is smooth sailing.  I have been holding my breath for things to go wrong but they haven't yet.  It has only been a week though.  (I know things will get bumpy so I will enjoy this while it lasts)  Right now the boys have adjusted quite well to their new home.  When Sasha is not pouting for not getting what he wants, he is very happy to be here.  Vitaliy is also very happy and always comes upstairs in the morning and wishes me a "Good Morning".  He also makes sure that Sasha does too.  

My "Moment of the Week" was when Sasha was pouting before bed because I made him wear PJ's to bed - how could I do such a thing!  I wasn't quite sure what to do because I didn't want him to go to bed like that.  I asked him if he wanted me to sing him a song (I had done that on a walk with him and he liked it).  He said yes and I sang "I Am A Child of God" to him.  He immediately calmed down and just stared into my eyes as I sang.  When I was done, he gave me a kiss and a hug and told me he loved me and went happily to bed.  It really doesn't get much better than that.  I will hold tight to those special moments. 

Best wishes to all my friends!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Arrival - Day 35 1/2

This is our whole family!

This is all the family that was able to come to the airport.

This is everyone that came to the airport.  Erica is taking the picture so she's not in it.

These two are two peas in a pod. 

Sasha was a little tired.  Must have been all that sleep.

A picture with Vern and Nanette

If it were not for these two wonderful people, we would never have our boys.  I am so grateful for all that they have done for us. 

Well we finally made it home!!!!!  The flight from Paris to Salt Lake City was long...11 hours long.  They played four movies and they decided to play the most boring one last.  It made the last part of the trip a bit slow. 

Sasha slept for the majority of the trip and for his sake I was grateful.  Vitaliy and I were not so lucky.  I maybe slept a total of one hour but Vitaliy was able to sleep a bit longer.  There is definately a difference between Delta (Paris to Salt Lake) and Ukraine Airlines.  Everything was better on the Delta flight - the food, the service...everything. 

When we arrived there was a long line for customs.  It went pretty quick though.  I gave them all of our passports and the documents from the Embassy.  He did a few things, asked a couple simple questions and told us to take a seat.  He was very nice.  A big difference from customs in Kiev.  The other guards there saw us and told us we could get our luggage while we waited.  The luggage pick up was right there within the customs check point.  We found our luggage and then they took us in another office area.  The customs agent in there was so very, very nice to us.  He asked if we were doing okay.  I said we were fine but I was just really tired because I had barely slept in two days.  He told me to go and rest, showed me where the bathroom was and said he would get us out of there as soon as he could.  He took us in the back and fingerprinted the boys.  Again he was so great to them.  We sat down for a bit longer then we were done.  They directed us to these very large sliding doors.  I thought we would have a long way to walk to where everyone was waiting.  But, they were right outside those doors.  I had thought I heard Andy's voice while I was waiting earlier but thought it was just my imagination. 

I was very surprised that everyone was right there and it caught me off guard.  I was so very, very tired so it was difficult to focus on everyone.  I immediately searched for my baby Jackson and he came running to me.  I really didn't put him down until we were later at the car.  It was so great to see everyone.  There were lots of hugs and kisses and visiting going on and then we took pictures.

It was such an unusual feeling to be home.  It felt that way off and on even today.  I had fallen asleep on the couch last night for a short time and when I woke up I had this really strange feeling that I wasn't at home yet and I needed to find and get home.  Then, I realized that i was at home.  That happened to me again this morning when I woke up.  Wendy was so right when she said that soon this would all just be a memory.  I realized that when I was on the plane.  It had already felt that way before we ever landed.  It was over and now it was all just a memory.  It still feels strange to be home.  Sometimes it feels like I have never been gone at all.  I am so very, very happy to be home.   

After we got home the kids went straight for the bicycles.  They love to ride bikes.  We played for the rest of the day.  Andy's mom, Sue, had bought us a bunk bed for Sasha and Jackson to share and Andy had built a top bunk to Tyler's bed for Vitaliy.  Andy and the boys put together the new bunk bed and we arranged the rooms as best we could.  Well, they did...that is when I was sleeping. 

When it was time for bed we said a family prayer, read our scriptures and headed off to bed.  This time the boys came to us for a hug and kiss after prayer, we didn't need to track them down. 

I have to tell you that one of the memorable moments we experienced yesterday was when Sasha went to bed.  He was beyond elated when he got into bed.  He loves his bed so much.  He called me into his bedroom.  I went in to see what he wanted and he wanted me to see him in bed.  Then he gave me another kiss and hug and told me he loved me.  That was such a special moment.  They are both so happy to be home.

Today when they were riding bikes I had a flash back to when we hosted them and I would watch them ride bikes.  This time though, I realized that they were here to stay and that felt great. 

When we first heard about the hosting and then about the adoption process, the two things that scared us almost out of the whole thing were the cost of adoption and the time we would have to spend in Ukraine.  I came to the realization that money is just  It comes and it goes.  Then I realized that even if I ended up in Ukraine for six weeks or more, it was only a speck of time in my life compared to eternity.  Now I know, more than ever before, that those two things pale in comparison to the feelings we have for these children.  There is nothing we wouldn't do for them.  The money came and its gone.  The time spent is now over.  But, the memories of the journey, the smiles on their faces, the love we have for them and the love they feel from us are things that will last for all eternity.

As always, I love you all.  I have felt and been strengthened by your love and support and thank you all for being there when I needed you.  Now the real journey begins.  I plan to keep blogging as we go through this next phase of our lives and their individually and as a family.  Love to you all!!!!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Day 35

We went to bed very late last night, just after midnight.  I planned on getting up at 3 am so I could shower before leaving.  So, I didn’t fall asleep until between one and two so I basically got about an hour of sleep.  I was showered, packed and we were out the door at 3:55 am.  I rented a van so Lucy, Sasha and Yulia could come to the airport with us.  I really had to fight back worried feelings that something was going to stop me from leaving Ukraine.  We got to the airport right at 4:30 and went to check in.

It turns out there was a problem, or you could say a very stressful moment.  I was told that we were all on the same flight to Paris but the computer did not show that my connecting flight was changed from the original 18th to the 15th.  I could feel the stress building and I, as patiently as I was capable of at that time, said to the woman, “What do I have to do to get on that flight?”  She talked with the ticking agent, of course this was all in another language so I didn’t know anything for a while, and told me to go to the ticketing window.  I did, not knowing what for.  That woman knew I was coming and gave me a print out and told me to go back to the woman at check in.  I did, and YEAH, she found my flight and all was well.  Whew!  What a moment.  I had stood there during all of this thinking, no….I cannot stay another day….oh, please fix the problem! 

This airport is different than what I am used to at Salt Lake.  (Not that I ever fly) You walk up to a partitioned off area which is the security check.  I might add that there security check was not as thorough as some.  We said goodbyes and didn’t draw them out too long, which is probably better.  I will miss Lucy and I am so grateful to have met her and become such good friends.  She is amazing and is more than willing to help others that come to adopt.  I am also really grateful to have had the chance for Vitaliy, Sasha and I to have spent so much time with Sasha and Yulia.  They came in on the train on Tuesday night and stayed with us all the way to the airport.  Some moments were a bit difficult but the overall result was worth it.  The good thing about the partition is that you really can’t see beyond it.  I think it is easier on the goodbyes. 

Security check was easy but the customs check was a little more complicated.  This man with absolutely no personality and the inability to speak to a woman so he directed all his conversation to Vitaliy, asked for my court decree and proceeded to read it, at the rate he did, all the way through.  We waited and waited and waited.  He asked Vitaliy a couple of questions, which of course I had no way of knowing what they were, then finally, I mean finally, he let us through.  That was the last stressful moment I had on the journey.

The first flight seemed fast even though it was almost three hours long.  We even got to see the Eifel Tower from the window of the plane.  I am such a dork because all I could think is that “I saw the Eifel Tower with my own two eyes!”  The plane landed in Paris.  We followed the signs to a shuttle that would take us to our next terminal.  The shuttle is actually a very large bus. 

Side note-  At the Kiev airport they board you onto a large bus just outside the gate, leave the door open so the freezing air comes in and you sit there until everyone has checked through while the exhaust from the bus filters into the bus.  Then everyone gets in and you think you are in for this long haul but they basically drive down the road, make a u-turn and drop you just across the street from where you stood in the bus.  Now if this had happened to me on my arrival I would have thought it weird.  But seeing that I have spent a month in Ukraine it seems perfectly natural.

Back to France…the shuttle dropped us off (a long way from where we started) at our terminal.  We had to go through another security check.  When they saw me with children they pulled us to the front of the line.  They were amazingly nice and wonderful to us.  Then we headed to our gate.  There was actually someone there pleasant and happy to help.  I gave him our stuff and said that we were not seated together could he help?  He did his thing, handed me new boarding passes and told me to have a great flight.  We were given the bulk head seats all together just past first class.  The seats are spacious and comfortable.  Next stop Salt Lake City.  If I have a problem at customs, I don’t care because I will be in America and that is all that matters.

I am still in incredible shock about coming home.  I sat in the airport in Paris and just kept thinking, I am really going home.  I can’t even find the right word to describe it.  Maybe just “unreal”.

We are now 2+ hours into our flight and have almost 9 more to go.  I can’t wait to see everyone and I know how excited the boys are.  They are both very happy to be going home.  Love you all!  See you soon!

Another side note.....We are home.  I will post my blog for day 35 1/2 tomorrow when I hopefully can think straight!!!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day 34

We were on our walk to the pizza place

Sasha & Myck were walking with the Ipod.  Each had a headphone in one ear and they were singing Lady Gaga!  Very entertaining!

We were getting ready to order.

These two were fun to watch.  They are always trying to avoid the camera.  Got them this time.

This kid can eat!  He had a great time.

I Love Lucy!!!!

This is our waiter...I wish his name tag came out in the picture.

This is like baby's first hair cut.

There goes the back!

Turned out great....just like his brothers.

Little Sasha wanted Big Sasha in the picture.  Little Sasha wants his name changed to Benjamin Thomas.  We have been trying to call him Benji all day.

Brother & Sister

Two peas in a pod.  Gotta watch out when these two are together.

Last night in Kiev.  It was a beautiful night out on the town.

Last day in Kiev!  Better be anyway.  I tried to get up late so the day would be shorter but that didn’t work.  The Cooks showed up at our apartment and we all walked to that same pizza parlor by the SDA.  There we met up with Natasha and Renee and Myck.  I think we took up half the place.  It was fun to go there one last time.  The kids had a great time because there were seven of them from the same orphanage.  It really was fun.  Then our family, along with Vitaliy’s brother and sister, and also Renee and Myck went to get Vitaliy’s hair cut…..Yeah!!!  He looks great.  After that we went in search of a suitcase for us.  We did not have enough space in our luggage for everything and after we found one and I packed, I filled it completely.  We then came home for a while to recoup and let Renee use the computer to contact her family. She hasn’t had a computer since her husband left and needed to respond to a ton of emails.  After a while at home we headed out to dinner and a walk to the Billa market to buy all the chocolate my family has been asking for.  While we went to the market, Lucy helped Renee and Myck find their apartment and we met up a little later.  We had a nice stroll through the beautiful lit up Kiev.  It was actually really nice.  Now back at the apartment we are making the final preparations for tomorrow morning.  We have to leave a 4 am.  I don’t care how early it is…..I am so excited.

I look forward to seeing everyone and miss you all so much.  I have found that these last few days are easier if I don’t have much contact from home because life has been challenging these last few days.  Please continue to pray that we get home safely.  I have had many moments through this whole adventure where I start to get worried or nervous.  Whenever that happens the Spirit reminds me by saying…Trust Me…  I do trust Him.  I have complete trust in Him…if I didn’t I would never have made it through.  Thank you for following our adventure and thank you for your love and support.  I look forward to thanking you in person very soon!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Day 33

This is Yulia on the escalator going down to the subway.

Sasha and Vitaliy on the escalator

Sasha is always reaching for the camera.  I am lucky if I get it for a minute.

The is lunch at the mall food court.


Still sight-seeing

That is Sasha up there.  He wanted his picture taken

We are officially DONE!!!!!

We were up early today.  Lucy had to meet a friend traveling through Kiev at the train station at 6:00 am and Sasha and Yulia were scheduled to arrive at the same time.  So she visited with her friend until she had to catch the next train and brought Sasha and Yulia home.  It worked out really well.  It is a bit awkward to communicate but we make it work.  Of course, it only works because of Lucy.  I needed to get to Lucy’s brother’s work to buy the boys’ tickets so we took the “metro”, which is the subway across town.  It took three stops.  I really think the subway is fun.  Yulia and her purse got stuck in the doors as they closed so Vitaliy had to spread them apart to get her unstuck.  As I walked  through the underground tunnels I just don’t see how anyone finds their way unless they are with someone that has done it before.  From the metro station across town we walked to his work.  I had all the documents I needed with me but needed to call Natasha to get the passport numbers because they still had those with them and would need them later today.  Then when I ran my credit card, it didn’t take.  Well, Andy and I had worked it out with our credit card company already that they knew I was traveling and would make purchases here.  Turns out it wasn’t my bank.  The Ukraine bank had to enter a special code when running the card and all turned out well.  We had to purchase them by noon to get that price and this was all happening at five minutes to noon so there was a bit of stress involved.

We walked from there back to the subway and came back to our side of town.  The boys and I were being picked up to go to our Embassy appointment so we had a half an hour to eat at the food court at the mall and then head back to the apartment.  Elaina had already picked up the medical paperwork and gave it to me along with the passports and other documents.  She dropped us at the Embassy and took us to the door.  I could have gone myself though because today I was feeling confident with my environment.  I have gotten much more comfortable here compared to when I first came.  I can go into a store by myself and figure it all out.  Anyway… I made it through security check with only nail clippers in my purse this time.  I was really trying not to have that problem but I missed those.  I went right back to the window at adoptions and we were helped right away.  I had been told that this could take up to a couple of hours but it went quickly.  As I sat there waiting, I realized that I was sitting in a little piece of the United States.  That felt good.  They have this video playing and it plays our national athem and there are people, including George Bush, speaking about being American.  That felt even better.  I realized that all we had worked to do was being completed in just a short time and it would be over.  That felt the best.  I actually felt the tears coming and had to fight them away.  Last thing I needed was to walk up to the window to get the visas and start crying like a baby.

He asked for the missing paperwork, checked the passports and asked us to have a seat until we were called to the other window.  We were called right away and I had to raise my right hand and swear that all information I presented was accurate, which I did.  He said hello to the boys, asked their age and that was it.  He said if we were lucky he would double check everything and have the Visa’s done in an hour.  We had them in 10-15 minutes and we were done!  He gave me everything I needed.  I was legally and lawfully ready to leave the country! 

Once we got back to the apartment we went out for a short sight-seeing tour and headed to the market.  Sasha and Yulia wanted to make us borsch for dinner.  I still have never had it.  When we got back from the market they started dinner.  I didn’t have to help but I took notes so I could make it at home.  They presented us a beautiful dinner and it was great!  I mean it was really great! 

We are all pretty tired and will be going to bed soon.  There are many questions I have for his brother and sister but I am really not sure about asking them yet.  We will see. 

I love you all!!!!  Our flight will be landing in Salt Lake City this Friday, the 15th at 2:10 pm.  We are leaving Kiev Friday morning at 6:30 am and flying through Paris.  We only have an hour and 50 minute layover and should make our connecting flight without a problem. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day 32

This was on the train so it is a little dark and blurry.

Also on the train.  It was fun.

Lucy and Sasha in our room

Kick'in it!  He used up the whole battery on the Ipod in that position today.  It really was great to relax a little.

This is our media center.

The view of the front door and entry way.

The washing machine (yeah I finally have one again) in the bathroom - Can I just repeat that this shower ROCKS!

The toilet, in case you didn't know.  Hanging from the sink is a kind of Boday.  Natasha showed me how it works, but I will pass, that you very much!

Our little kitchen.

Our dining room area...quite the space for entertaining don't you think?

The refrigerator.  It is pretty big for frig's around here.

Okay, if you thought teenagers ate a lot of food.  I took this because it was his second trip through the food line.  He was woofing it down tonight. 

Here is a very well nourished Sasha!

We passed this on our way home from dinner.

These men were up really high about ready to unroll a banner of some sort.

Lucy and the boys in our entertaining area/bedroom.

This is us playing Monopoly.  I always, always without fail, loose at this game.

Sasha was practicing counting in English today.

Kiev is still a beautiful place.  The train arrives in Kiev at 5:55 am so at 5:00 am they come by and knock on your door to give you a wake-up call.  I sat up, opened the door, said “da”, closed the door and crashed back down on the bed.  I always wake up often during the night on the train.  It is always a good night though, even if I don’t sleep enough because the train is fun.  Plus, riding the train usually means progress. 

You know I miss my husband for many, many reasons, but this morning I really missed him as I had to lug that very heavy suitcase, with a backpack and shoulder bag up and down many flights of stairs. 

We met up with our ride and headed to our apartment.  The apartment is the best apartment I have been in so far.  I mean on a scale of bad to best…it is the bestest!  After 30+ days I actually had a shower with real water pressure….it was AMAZING!  The apartment is very updated and comfortable.  There is a couch in the family room that lays flat to make a bed.  The boys will share that bed and Lucy and I will share the bed in the bedroom. 

They picked the boys and I up at 9:30ish to head to the US Embassy.  Honestly, there is not a single thing fancy about the embassy.  There was a very long line outside.  Now, that is a Ukrainian line which means there was a crowd of people that did not resemble a line at all outside.  Because I am a US Citizen, I was taken right to the door and allowed in.  We first checked in at a security check.  Now, Natasha warned me to leave all electronic devices in the car…so I left my phone.  Well, remember, I was extremely tired and not thinking very clearly, so as I got through the security check, this is what I missed in my purse: a camera, portable air card for the computer, nail file and a pair of scissors!  A pair of scissors!!!! Can you believe I could be that stupid!  Anyhow, I basically emptied the contents of my purse onto the table and into a little bin for them to store.  We were directed through an outdoor foyer area and into another building and onto the adoption department.  The room was small with two windows, each with a slot for sliding documents under the window, and several chairs lined the edges of the room for waiting.  There were just a few people in seats and there was a woman at each window being helped by a man at each window.  Almost everyone in that room spoke English…nice!  When it was our turn, the man reviewed our documents, pulled out a checklist and checked items off for each boy.  He gave me a paper which showed how much money I owed and directed me to window 9 to pay.  I might add that after the trip to the Embassy I no longer have to wear a money belt.  That is good and bad.  It is good because my middle doesn’t need to look any bigger and bad because it means I don’t have enough cash to need to hide it.  I did and returned to the man with the receipts as instructed.  Because Vitaliy is 14 he had to have his fingerprints taken.  We were out of there probably within 30 minutes. 

Next, we were onto the medical exams.  Here is the scene.  We walked into another slightly decrepit building and into a corridor filled with people and crying babies…right out of a movie, huh!?!  We had Elaina (don’t know the spelling) with us.  I can’t really talk to her much because she knows very little English, but if you what someone to push her way to the front and get you in, she is definitely the one to do that.  We still had to wait at least an hour, but we did get in.  The doctor gave a quick scout-like exam to each boy and asked them some questions and that was it.  We will be able to pick up the sealed envelopes for the Embassy tomorrow and then head to the Embassy to pick up the Visa’s.  At that point, we are 100% DONE! 

There was a bit of drama and on my part, trauma, working through getting our flights but hopefully by tomorrow morning that will be done also.  If all works out, we will be flying home on Friday and arriving in Salt Lake City at 2:10 pm in the international terminal.  I will make sure to post the finals on that project.  There was nothing available for us on Thursday.

We spent the rest of the day hanging out at home.  We did go out to get a bite for dinner but then headed back and played Monopoly.  We are all ready to crash a little early tonight.  Vitaliy’s brother and sister come first thing in the morning tomorrow.  Lucy is going to visit a friend at the train station tomorrow morning and will pick them up and get them here.  So, we should be able to sleep in long enough to be ready by 8:00 am.  We are looking forward to their visit.

As always, I love you all so much and I am VERY excited to come home.  Please continue to pray all the way to the end for me as I know I still need your prayers.  Love to all and goodnight!!!