Hinkson Family Circle





Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Life in a family

We are loving being home. Tonight at dinner both Vitaly and Spencer (Oleg) said that they like being here in our home more than the orphanage. We are relieved because I sure wouldn't want to do the paperwork to do a return. I never doubted that they like it here because they have been beaming and running from one facination to the next since we walked in the door. I think that adrenelin will at some point run out but maybe not :) They are both like Mogli from the Jungle and need to touch, smell and look at everything. It is pretty amusing and a teeny tiny bit weird. Vitaly sniffs everything and it reminds me a little of a dog sniffing before he eats. We have tried to have some familiar things incorporated with our regular meals and it is working. Tonight we had Buckwheat, Steak and Coleslaw. I also made strawberry shortcake with strawberries from our garden and they decided that American cake is where it is at.

Everyone is meshing really well. I am sure it was a bit overwhelming to come home to 4 more siblings (besides Tyler) who live at our house and who are all bigger than them. Spencer can wear Scott's clothes that are too little for Scott even though he is 3 years older. We made a goal to do better with fitness and eating better since now the ones in the family who are overweight seem really big compared to the new boys. I can tell that everyone is meshing because now the wrestling and teasing and goofing off include everyone.

Vitaly went from being a teenager all decked out in his Nike stuff and too cool to be bothered to a playful little boy at home. Last night he took the 4 wheeler key from Dave and put it in his mouth and ran outside, started the 4 wheeler and proceeded to drive right into the porch. Luckliy he was going slow enough to not get hurt or hurt anything much. We are hiding keys so he doesn't take a spin in the cars. If we are missing anything electronic it is probably under his pillow.

He did the sweetest thing yesterday. We had each made goals on Monday night for Family Home Evening. One of my goals was to get Vitaly to cut his hair. He said "I have been growing this (his mullet) for a year and you want me to cut it" Tyler answered "Dah" he laughed but was not wanting to cut it at all. Yesterday he went into the bathroom in the basement and cut it off by himself. I was so happy, I hugged him and a little bit later I gave him 5 snickers to show how much I liked his hair. He promptly shared with Daniel and ate them all.

Spencer has smiled more since we have been home than he did the whole time in Ukraine. He is a little loving boy who is having the time of his life. Last night as Dave was taking them for a ride on the 4 wheeler while I watched from the deck, Spencer looked at me and kissed the air. He is very compliant and doesn't give us any trouble when we explain a rule. If I had to guess right now, I would dare say that he will be an easy child. He is already learning English and can say several phrases. I am so proud of each of our new sons and also each of our other children who have sacrificed to welcome their new brothers and help to teach them about life in a family.

Tomorrow we are going to Lagoon to try to get some energy out. They are excited. I put the patriotic decorations up today and know more than ever before, that this is the Land that I LOVE.

Life is good at our house.
All is Well!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Communication in Ukraine

I wanted to write a post while in Ukraine about the best ways to communicate in case it could help other families who are still preparing to go.

There are ways to communicate with home but they are different from the U.S. They are not 100% reliable and there were times when we had to scramble to find a way to get through to others but it can be done.

Here are some options:

Cell Phones: These are rather cheap. I gave the one that we bought as a group for the kids over there to Wendy to pass along to other families. These cost about $25-30 in Ukraine. They need to be charged and you need to buy a SIM card which is also pretty cheap (about $5.) You buy them according to how many minutes you want to call out to other phones. Your phone number is determined by the SIM card that you use instead of the actual phone. Calls between 2 phones with SIM cards that are with the same company are free and incoming calls are free and don't use minutes. The most popular company is MTC.(pronounced MTS) If you look for a small red sign that says MTC you can go there to buy a SIM card and usually a phone. You can buy a new SIM card or add more minutes to your existing one at most banks or at kiosks in front of Grocery stores. Your facilitator can show you how to do this but if you only really use the phone to call each other and recieve incoming calls you won't need to do this too often. Calling the US with a cell phone will quickly take all of what is on the SIM and you probably won't be able to finish your conversation. Sometimes the circuits are full and the calls won't go through. Sonya said that she tried all morning to reach us one time and the call wouldn't go through. The best way to communicate with the US is through Skype. Some facilitators will provide you with a cell phone to use while in Ukraine. Our facilitator Kostya had phones for us when we arrived but we had already brought one from home. It is important to have one so that you can communicate with the facilitator.

Skype: You can call any phone and even text using your computer with Skype. Many apartments in Kiev offer free internet (you have to make sure that you request it) or you can buy a portable internet device that operates with a SIM card like a cell phone. You can refill the minutes on this device as you need to but they won't evaporate very quickly unless you try to download movies which will wipe you out very quickly. Skyping from Ukraine to the US is a lot cheaper than Skyping from the U.S. to Ukraine for some reason and so if you plan to skype your family at home at a predetermined time (when they are awake) you will save money. Over all, this is the most economical way to communicate and actually be able to hear their voices and talk as normal. There is not the irritating delay or any real problems with this method. It is great to hear the family at home (Beware: you will get homesick)

Internet: Of course emailing is free and we really enjoyed blogging our adventures so that our children (some married and living in different households) and friends could hear the latest news and our feelings while in Ukraine. (Although we only blogged the mild version of what we went through.) We found time to email and there were no real problems with email as there can be with trying to get through by cell phone.

You are welcome to call me and chat about any questions you have before departing to Ukraine. My phone number in the US is 435-232-8900.

Sunday, June 27, 2010





Airports

We made it home. It is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO good to be home. I keep doing things at home and about every other moment I feel such gratitude to be back home with my family. It is the best feeling ever!

I wanted to write about our experiences coming home. We went early to the airport (about 3 hour early and were able to avoid the big line that soon formed after we checked in. We were worried because we did not have seat assignments and the flight was overbooked and we wanted to sit together. Luckily we were able to get very nice seats in the first row behind first class with a lot of leg room. The Corbetts were also at the airport but 2 of their seats were standby and so Sonya was convinced that they wouldn't make it on the flight. Right before take off however they came walking on board and amazingly had 3 seats in the same row as us. What are the chances? The flight was long and the boys used up all of the battery power in the DVD player and the Gameboy but were good the whole trip. They became restless the last couple of hours but we were happy with the trip. Before we left Kiev we were able to see Oksana and Oleg. I will post a picture of her with straightened hair. She promised to send us the accounting of what the $8000 was spent on in the mail and so we will look forward to receiving that.

When we arrive in NYC it was truly a patriotic experience. We went directly to passport control which was a smooth process. Between that and our Homeland security visit the boys became instant American citizens. As we walked through the airport it was so refreshing and I was so happy to be back on American soil. Although the soil is truly rich and beautiful in Ukraine, I LOVE AMERICA. As we walked past clean shops and on clean floors in the airport I had to smile at how good it felt to be home to my country.

We went to our gate and called and chatted with Dave on G mail as my cell phone was out of batteries. We kept waiting for our plane to board but they kept moving the departure time to later and later. We were becoming nervous because we had to make a connection in Atlanta and were worried and did not want to miss that flight from Atlanta to SLC. The boys slept on this flight and right before we landed a helpful flight attendant looked up the gate we would need to hurry to. She said Good luck because it was clear on the other side of the airport. She said that they would not hold the flight and so we ran. We caught the train and BARELY made it. When we got off the plane I sent Tyler to run ahead as I had a suitcase the boys couldn't run as fast. When we did get to the gate Tyler was talking to a man in a suit and everyone was already on board. I thought it was a Delta employee and that he was begging him to let us on. Instead as we got closer the guy in the suit was my friend Brad Wilcox who I have taught EFY with for several years. He was so happy to meet our new sons and offered some very encouraging words and was his usual cheerful self. We all boarded the plane and were so relieved that we would actually make it to SLC as scheduled.

Dave was dying because he knew the flight was so late and the tight connection. I had enough time as they were driving to the runway to skype him and tell him that we made it.

When we arrived in SLC we were met by Dave who was holding a dozen red roses and Devin, Daniel, Alisa and Scott. They had a banner with balloons and I started crying as the hugging began. We had a wonderful reunion. When we went to locate the luggage we were greeted by Andreas and his beautiful children. They gave treats to the boys which they loved. Then we got to see Wendy and Amy whose comments have kept me alive in Ukraine and been SUCH and encouragement to me. Amy's husband was there and we enjoyed reminiscing our Dnepro experiences. I hope we get a lot more chances to spend time with these amazing friends who I feel so close to. Nanette and Vern Garrett also came to welcome us and I so appreciated seeing each of these dear friends who have been so supportive of us.

Some of the luggage didn't arrive and so we hope to see it soon. Alisa said that Delta stands for "Don't expect luggage to arrive" which is quite clever.

I was disappointed to learn that Ellianna sent out an email to the families who are still adopting and said some inaccurate and not very nice things about me. I would be happy to tell anyone why I chose to work with Cathy Harris instead of Adoptionway if you would like to email me at hinkson@pcu.net. Cathy Harris is a true professional and my experience with her is unbelievably good.

I want to blog the whole being home adjustments which are all really good. I will do that as soon as I want to pause from the enjoying.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Made it to America

We are in NYC headed to Atlanta. So far no kids have ordered coffee. Hope I can stay awake to prevent any caffienation of the kids. They have actually been really good to order sprite. Vitaly just ate an entire tall can of pringles (they don't understand the saving for later concept) I hope he doesn't throw up on the plane :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Corbett's flight

The Corbetts will probably be changing their flights and so don't count on them being home at 11:00. I will try to update but it may all happen last minute.

We have Visas-- America Softra

Today we went to the Embassy and picked up our VISAS! I was giving Tyler high fives as we walked in and we were so excited to get them. When we got to the window the guy said we have one small problem (our hearts shot immediately to our shoes.) He only needed a signature that we had missed on a couple of papers and then he was able to give us the Visas. These little passports with the visas are like gold. I left the apartment and I hid them. They can steal all my clothes and whatever but NOT THOSE PRECIOUS VISAS. Especially when Monday is a holiday and we don't want to lose our flights again.

We then went to the SDA shops. Oleg got a stuffed bear (he loves animals) Vitaly got a Ukrainian soccer shirt and some cards. I got some Russian pocket knives for Wendy and a compass for girls camp and Tyler got a Russian T-shirt. We then went and met up with the Corbetts and had a fun time talking our heads off while they packed and the boys played and had fun. We all went to McDonalds and ate by the fountain and enjoyed a little people watching for one last time in Kiev. They got their flight plans and will be going out of the same flight as us to NYC and then we go on separate flights to SLC. They arrive at almost 11 and we arrive at 11:30 on flight 1835. We are so excited to get home and hug everyone. The trip will be 21 hours and so hopefully we won't be so awful looking that we aren't recognizable. Just listen for the cute Ukrainian accents and people singing "We're coming to America TODAY!"


One cute PS. On the way walking home today the boys spotted the store Spencer and Marks and Vitaly and Oleg recognized the name Spencer (Oleg's new name) and were so excited. We took a picture of him under the sign. It is so fun to see them so happy about their new life.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Embassy and Medical Center

We gave all the rest of our American money to Oksana who took $3000 the other day and said that it would pay for the Passports, Visas and Medical exam. She is no where to be found now.
We had to pay this money again along with an unexpected $670.00 to the embassy because the 2 that we are adopting are not siblings. We hope that Oksana will give us the paper that she promised us that outlines the expenses she incurred in the region. We gave her a total of $8000.00 and cannot imagine what all of this money could have gone for since we paid the driver and the notary as we went along. We paid Kostya the money for the facilitator portion and so the money she took is just for expenses such as copies, bribes etc. We are disappointed that we were told that we had paid for something and then had to pay for it again today. What if we had not had a little reserve with us? They don't take credit cards here. I guess we could have made Dave wake up and wire money. I feel a little betrayed by someone I trusted a lot throughout this adoption.

Kostya did give me some valuable Ukrainian adoption information today. He said that the Dnepro region (where we went) is the hardest region and he advises the families that he works with to never go there. He said is has a bad prosecutor and it takes much longer and is the most expensive region because everyone expects to be paid extra to do their job. He said that the ones up North like Sumy are much better and that the Kiev region is also very greedy. He said that the central regions around Kiev are good ones and that Donestk in a good one too but that there are not any regions that are free from bribes and corruption. It sounds like the whole country is corrupted by greed. I am really disappointed in what I have learned about Ukraine on this trip. If I hadn't felt that I was supposed to adopt these specific kids, I would have turned around and gone home. American adoption looks like a very good adoption option. I have witnessed things in this process that would put people in prison if done in the USA. The attitude of many of the Ukrainian people is that we Americans are rich and can afford to be ripped off. No one can afford to be ripped off. I am glad that I am from a country and a belief system that supports principles of honesty and uprightness. America has it's problems but Ukraine has made me want to fight to keep our homeland from becoming like this country.

On a good note:
Today we went to the embassy and filled out paperwork and then to the medical center to do the exams and get more paperwork. The Embassy was wonderful. They kept all of Oleg's passport pictures however and so we had to find another place to take more passport pictures to take to the medical center. The medical exam cost us $110 each and was a total of 2 1/2 minutes long. The female doctor looked in their mouth, listened to their lungs, had them lay down and pressed on their stomach and looked in their underwear. They also had to take their blood to check for Syphilis and we had to pay another 100 grevnia to expedite the blood test so that we could make our appointment at the embassy at 2:00. The chief person in charge of the laboratory just put the money in her pocket. We met with the consulate at the embassy and she said that the visas will be ready at 9:30 AM tomorrow. She didn't even ask for money under the table. It looks like we will be good to go on Saturday and make it home on Sat night at 11:35 as planned in the Delta terminal.

We were able to pay with Grivnia at the Embassy but no such luck at the med. center. We had to find a bank that had American money which is not an easy task in Ukraine. we found out that our apartment is just right by TGIFridays. We are going there tonight and maybe the Corbetts will join us. They were side by side us today in the process and should get their passports tomorrow morning too. We are not sure when they will be going home but I am confident that they will not extend their stay to soak in some more Ukrainian hospitality.

There's no place like home.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lenin




I am not a historian and so I am not too familiar with what Lenin did for the good of Russia and Ukraine (I think he unified the USSR and promoted Communism) but there are TONS of statues of him in both countries. I have to wonder if he had them built of himself when he was here or if they were all built as a tribute later. People still think he was awesome. I think it is also funny that John Lennon has a big memorial in Central Park. I guess with that name you will not be forgotten.

Above are some pictures of Vitaly in front of a huge Statue of Lenin.

In Kiev






We made it to Kiev. It is 5:30 AM and I can't sleep. I was so tired last night after we arrived on the train. Kostya picked us up and brought us to our apartment. It is in an old building but the apartment has been remodeled in the past few years.
When he opened the door the boys said "colosna" which is like saying "wow" So it doesn't take a lot to please them. I almost said the same thing when I went in the bathroom and they actually had a washcloth!!! I took a picture of it. All this time in Ukraine and this is the first one :)

Kostya was upset because they had promised him 3 beds and there is one and a pull-out v shaped couch. It is big and all three boys decided to sleep there. I told them that they could sleep in the master bed but no they wanted to all sleep in that room. Kostya said "you have to check everything everyone says because you can't count on them to tell you correct things." he was pretty mad. We just wanted to sleep and so we told him to not worry. When I went to bed, I looked up and saw a really old chandelier in my room and I thought "I hope this place isn't haunted because I need a good night's sleep" So far no ghosts.

Today we go do the medical and the Visa at the Embassy. We want to do both today so that we can be sure and go home Saturday. Hooray, Hooray it's back to the USA.

I wanted to post some picture that I have been collecting of the apartment Foyers. They usually look really scary as you walk into almost every apartment building. No one seems to care about the area where you enter and the stairs are. When you open the apartments it is like a whole new world, but the stairs look like death. Someone could really work wonders with a power-washing business. Then again I don't know if anyone would pay to have it cleaned or fixed up because everyone seems to care only about what is their property.

We hope to see the Corbetts today and I heard that they may have their passports too. I certainly hope so. We are all so ready to go HOME.

look up


Look Up

I am sittng here at the train station and hoping that Tyler and the boys aren't caught in a rain storm. I just got yelled at (in Ukrianian) by a lady who is pushing a big floor washing machine around and wanted me to put all of our luggage on the chairs and off the floor so she can drive the machine over this area. I am happy that she did (the cleaning, not the yelling) because the people who sat by me spilled beer all over the floor and it is dirty. I have spent a lot of time on this 51 day trip looking at floors and watching the gound to be sure not to step in or on various horrendous things but as I sat here I absentmindedly looked up. The ceilings in this buiding are BEAUTIFUL. When the Soviet Union was intact they made the public places (train stations and subways) very elaborate and out of the best material because that was their gift to "the people" It occurred to me that things always seem better when you look up.
I have been saying prayers of gratitude for letting us get our passports and so we can go home. It always feels better and less lonely in life, when I look up.
So my profound thought today is "Things look up when we look up."
Genna with us at the train station (boxall)
The Long Awaited passports (I told the kids that they are like gold)
The Landlords (Nickolai and Luba and their grandaughter.) They wanted to introduce her to Tyler in hopes that he would take her on a date. He didn't want to hang around Dnepro any longer Whew!

Got Passports

A passport for Vitaly and Oleg... CHECK!
I am at the train station waiting with our luggage for our train at 5 pm. Tyler and the boys went to McDonalds. The couple at my right have an open beer bottle in their bag that they keep taking a sip of. It stinks in here but we are almost ready to say POCAW to all of the Dnepros and be in Kiev at 11:00 tonight.

We are hopefully going to do the medical visit and embassy tomorrow and then have a day to get even more anxious to get home and just in case something is wrong with something. I have faith and hope and I am praying for charity.

Dave got us tickets for Saturday that get us into the SLC airport at 11:30 pm. That is really late and I don't expect anyone to come to see the newest American imports but if you want to take a nap and stay up late we would LOVE to see you. I will pack the borrowed curling iron, hair dryer, phone and the phone we bought in the top of our luggage and so if someone is there from SLC, I can pass those along before I head to girl's camp. Did I mention how excited we are to see light at the end of the tunnel.

This morning we said goodbye to the landlords (who were sweet but didn't tell us about the shower that sprays out the side and so it is really hard to have any kind of a normal shower.) They gave us a list of things that Sonya broke (which she didn't) and we are sure that we will probably get blamed for things that we did to their house but we were really careful and everything was in good shape when we left.

Our driver, Genna, was very sweet. He was the one driver that we didn't feel was ripping us off. We would usually give him a little extra because he charged sometimes so much less than the other drivers. Today I gave him 200 extra Grevnia which is about $25 and told him thanks for all his help to us and he said this little speech in English to me: "Thank you Christy. I wish you the best in all your Journey. I wish you good expenses and good luck and good health to all of you." I don't know how long he practiced that but he had tears in his eyes when he hugged us all goodbye and I feel that he is a very good person.

There are good things to miss in the dnepros. We will miss Alina and we hope that it is not too painful for her when she is missing out on the life she could have had in a family. We will miss our cute landlords at both houses and the staff at the orphanage. We will miss George's family and all the kids at the orphanage. I am not quite ready to miss that aunt/sister/cousin, Marina. Like I said. I am praying for charity and will need a little extra help to start missing her. I am sure that my heart will start to soften after I have a decent shower in clean water at home and I think that over time when she sees how happy Oleg is that she will maybe even be happy that he is in the US.... someday.

POCAW DNEPRO

This is how you spell Dneproprotrovsk (pronounced Nee-pro-pet-trovsk)
This city (big city Dnepro) was established in 1776. This ruin stands next to a modern mall.

We left dneprojerjinsk this morning and I wanted to post some pictures that will always remind me if this little town:


Not real inviting (unless you drink a lot) but believe me this is life here. When an orphanage is the highlight of a city, it doesn't say much.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Last day in jerjinsk

Today we spent another day in the car going from agency to agency gathering paperwork It was boring but we actually saw a decent government office. It is the one where you go if your kids have to give up their property to leave the country. We were there for awhile and they wrote a letter to the committee in Ukrainian and then had me write what it said in English (with Tyler's help) and then sign it in my normal American signature. Just about everything else I have signed (except for Visa slips) have required that we write our last (familia) name first like they do in this country.

We just tried to go to the orphanage to see Vovo but they have moved him to a santitorium which I think is to prevent him from being taken to camp with the other kids. Oksana was talking about how she was going to ask the director to do that so that the Mechams wouldn't have to travel so far out in the country to visit him. Anya also told us that she will be working with the Mechams when they come. She is the girl who has been doing the work for Oksana. I really like her and trust her, at least as much as you can trust anyone here. They have a different definition of honesty I am afraid.

It is impossible to go and see Vovo at the Sanitorium. They told us it was forbidden. We also found out that the family who is "adopting" Vladik is really doing more like Foster care and only will raise him until he is 18. The mom seemed like a nice lady and I hope they will give him a good start to as happy of a life as you can have in Ukraine. They already have Ruslana, and Anya (her sister) has refused to go with them. She will probably stay at the orphanage with Alina and the others who are boycotting adoption.

I also learned that the orphanage will allow the kids to stay unitl they are 18 and at the one that Vovo is at it is 23. So it is not the grim "they are on the streets at 16" that we thought. Overall the statistics that we read about the orphans of Ukraine do not seem to apply here in this region. We tried to find some orphans on the street to contrast with those who are adopted and there doesn't seem to be any homeless, jobless orphans that anyone can identify. My impression is that being an orphan is not as bad as I expected and being a regular Ukrainian citizen is worse than I expected.

We are planning to get the passports tomorrow. I told the boys to pack their stuff and they did all by themselves. They folded all their clothes and put them nicely in their suitcase and then put the toys and DVD player in their backpack. They picked up trash on the floor in their room and even got out the vacuum and did that on their own. I am so happy that I am getting to raise these boys. Some days it seems like it will be hard and other days it feels like it will be a breeze.
I will keep blogging as this adventure has just begun. I am sure that we will have many things to write about in the future.

I wish that I felt more sad to be leaving this city. I asked the boys how often they want to come back. They said once in 10 years. That made me a little relieved that we don't need to make a trip to Ukraine for 10 years. Maybe by then Bryan will have a wife and want to come back to see where he served his mission and they could go with him :) hee hee hee.

Monday, June 21, 2010

This is part of a line of people waiting for the bus. This will be at least 3 hours to wait. Thank Heaven for our cars at home.
These are the fish in the grocery store. Kind of explains the smell in the store.
The boys at it again. If there is something to explore it must be checked out. When I object they say "Chuss" which means wait, don't object yet until I have already done it.

Food in Ukraine

Food in Ukraine

I have only been in 3 different regions of Ukraine but I have seen some similar trends with the food and what you can plan on for meals. Here is my take on what we have experienced.

Fruits and Vegetable group.
We are here in May and June. There are little outdoor markets in most areas where you can buy fresh carrots, potatoes, cucumbers, beets, onions, radishes, apples, and other things that are in season. They are fresh and taste like they are right from the garden. They still have dirt on them (even in the grocery store) but Ukrainian dirt is one of it's greatest assets.
The apples however are not good. They look like the ones that are thrown out in the US because no one willl buy the bruised, wormy ones. If you find one that looks good, I hope it tastes better than the one I had. It tasted like a wet paper towel. Flavored toilet paper would have been better than that apple.
Don't expect a good variety of produce in the stores. If they had to ship it in, it is not usually very well preserved. I reluctanty bought some celery because I needed something for chicken salad and it was so pale and sickly looking with mildew on the ends. I cut off most of the celery and prayed that it would be OK to eat. Even in the good stores there is not a head of cauliflower that does not have black spots. It feels like you are buying reject food. " When it won't sell in the rest of Europe, import it to Ukraine." You will be safe with the open market vegetables but beware of the open market meat (that sit in the hot sun all day) and the milk (often sold in used plastic soda pop bottles.)

Meats
The eggs are sold in cartons and individually. They are not usually refridgerated and when you crack them they are more orange than we are used to and seem runnier. We have not died from eating them yet.
There is plenty of fish for sale. Sonya told me that the picture I am posting gives her the creeps. You can buy all kinds of fish but we were warned not to eat them due to the unclean water in rivers here. I have not seen tuna in a can.
The national meat has to be chicken. There is all kinds of chicken available but I did not see any beef for sale until we had been here for a month. There is a little pork but most of it is made into the many varieties of sausage that is everywhere. Not italian sausage or the kind we cook for breakfast at home but hard coated big log looking sausage with plenty of white spots (fat) in it. The kids like all these processed meats (hot dogs etc ) and so if you are fan of nitrites, you will have a great time in Ukraine. I have had a hard time finding ham and certainly not shaved ham or turkey or anything much that is sliced, grated or prepared to make life easier. You see people with a sausage log and loaf of bread and some cheese for a picnic.

Breads
There is good bread here and some jam and Nutella but peanut butter is rare. The honey is grainy and sugary and there are not many loafs of light white bread like wonder bread and not many multigrain varieties. The friends we visited here sent home a large bottle of honey and so you are welcome to come over and have a bite. It is good!
You can fnd rice, pasta, and oatmeal here but you had better bring your own spices. I cannot find brown sugar, spaghetti or italian seasoning, even oregano is obsolete here. They have a seasoning for shish-k-bobs and some kind of pepper dish that I mixed and tried to make spaghetti. It tastes like sloppy joes. I thnik that a spice rack would be an awesome gift for someone here. They are really missing out on the flavors of the world. This is definately not a society of variety like the United States.

Dairy
This is the group that many people seem to favor over our foods at home. People love the yogurt which is mostly served in bags and is a drink more than a custard. The sour cream is good, the cheese is good and the ice cream is so good. I have been here long enough to be sick of it but it was a hit for the first month. Don't look for a carton or a bucket of ice cream, it is sold in a tube or in individual novelties. They really like the cake cones like we have at home with icecream in it barely to the top and frozen like that and sold in it's soggy condition. I prefer the sugar cones but there is a great variety of ice cream (mor o sma) available to keep you going here.

Treats
Don't waste your time on the cakes and pastries. They are repeatedly disappointing especially when they are SOOOO good in Italy and other places in Europe. These are not the same and I promise you will be wishing that you hadn't wasted the money and calories.
The Chocolate (especially the brand Roshen) IS really good. It is creamy and compares to the chocolates of Switzerland and Austria. Dave took some home and I am exporting hot chocolate in my suitcase. It is really good and the creaminess makes it better than what I use at home I would invite everyone over for chocolate but I don't expect it to last long.
The main candy bars here are Snickers, milky way , mars, twix and one called bounty that is a milk chocolate version of mounds. There are chocolate M&Ms and some made with acorns that are Nasty. I can pass up all the cookies from here and crackers are rarely what you are used to. There are some chips like Lays potato chips but if you need tortilla chips or fritos or Sun chips or Doritos forget about it.
One thing that surprised us is the delicious looking desserts that are sold in resturants in tall glasses. They are jello and whipped cream, nicely decorated treats that are also disappointing. The first day we got one and they said it was plum. Turns out it is prunes in stiff whipped toppin g that is not as good as it looks. They also put prunes in some of the mayo salads and so if you taste something sweet and it is dark brown, don't worry, they are keeping things moving right along for you.

Processed foods.
The isles and isles that are usually found in the center of our grocery stores at home are filled with alcohol in Ukraine. I will give a prize to anyone who can find me a cake mix, brownie mix, cream of mushroom soup or corn syrup. There are pickles and ramen noodles but if you are into hamburger helper and koolaid you had better make room in your suitcase. If you like tuna bring your own. There is plenty of mayonaisse here. It is in all kinds of salads and put on many things that I would never have thought of at home. One thing that I really like here is the green fanta. It is like a cross between sprite and squirt. Tonight at dinner I got some ice cream that had strawberry syrup on it. I got kind of sick of it and so I poured little of my lemon lime fanta into the ice cream to make an old fashioned soda. The boys we are adopting thought it was the grossest thing. I wanted to say "what are you talking about. You eat ketchup in chicken soup and bread with chicken seasoning AND nutella on it and prunes and stiff cream, and you think this is gross." HA!

Condiments
You can find plenty of mayonaise with varying fat content listed on the front and also ketchup. I have not seen relish or mustard and so you may want to go to Subway and beg for some mustard packets before you come to Ukraine. Most things are sold in bags similar to the ones we buy craisons or some trail mixes in in the US. Even the milk is in these bags and they line up nicely in the door of the fridge.

Out to Eat
There are Ukrainian resturants that are quite good. Most serve borsct and a couple other kinds of soup like dill pickle soup (a sour meat soup) and green borcht. Most soups are served with sour cream which makes the soup cloudy and almost a cream soup. There are pizza resturants and most of the toppings might surprise you. We saw mostly the following: Salami, chicken, mushrooms,and corn.
The resturants that are sit down resturants are safer than the little stands in the train stations and in the subways. If you are in Kiev or a big city you can find a McDonalds and TGIfridays. I have been wanting a steak for a few weeks now. I did order one at a local cafe but it turned out to be pork wrapped in bacon.
There are plenty of things for sale that look tasty but be prepared for them to be filled with something. The breads are filled with cabbage, potatoes and meat and sometimes a fruit filling The pasta like foods are all filled with a variety of things. Even the cookies are filled with something. It probably makes it more fun to live here when you find a little surprise in your dinner. I wouldn't be entirely surprised to buy a cucumber and find it filled with something when I cut it open. I am a little worried when we get the boys home and have Sunday dinner and there isn't something hiding inside of the rolls for them that they will be disappointed. I can hear them thinking "oh shucks,there's nothing in it."
I am proud of the way that Ukrainians eat because their diet is actually healthier than the average American diet (if you don't count the vodka.) They use fresh ingredients and to great effort to cook a meal. The home we visited last night didn't have running water. They had a couple of buckets in the kitchen that they would dip water out of to wash the dishes etc. My new son, Oleg, wanted a drink and so he took a cup and walked up and dipped himself some water from the bucket. Maybe I wil just put a bucket of water in his bedroom so he can get his own drink whenever he wants :) It may save on the "I vant vater" requests JK .....kind of.




The roller coaster day

The boys and Tyler left early to go to Dnepro (big city) to play with the Elders who have a preparation day today. They played American Football and Soccer (Ty said Vitaly was better than anyone) and then they cooked Shish-k- bobs at the park and played laser tag. It was a fun day for them. I stayed home and packed and cleaned and organized in hopes that our passports would be ready tomorrow. I made some macaroni salad and caramel popcorn without brown sugar and corn syrup (so it is unique) but it was nice to have some peace and solitude. I had an appointment to go with Anya (the flower lawyer) to get the last paper we need at 2 pm Oksana called just before 2 and said that it would be 4. She said that the person who needed to sign it had been penalized by the prosecutor for signing something too quickly and that they were all getting a lot of pressure because some people believe that our separating the kids was too hasty.. Anyway she said that she may come back to town on Wednesday and maybe I could get the passports on Thursday. I told her firmly that she had told me Monday or Tuesday and that I have to be home this week. ( I am in charge of girls camp the first week in July and it is going to be a trick to do all I need to with only one week left as it is) She said that she would call back and to be ready at 4. I was ready and then she called and said that I didn't need to go. The lady at the passport office said that she could give her the paper later and that we could for sure have our passports on Wednesday. 100% for sure she said. So I changed gears and started looking for flights home online. I am afraid to answer the phone in case there is another change. Tyler got a call and Oksana said that we need to go tomorrow at 9 am to do the paper and so we will see how that goes. She said it is safer to do it before we get the passports. I am all for safe and secure and I feel that the most in the good ole USA. When I get home, I am putting up the patriotic decorations and don't be surprised if they are still there at Christmas.

Our plan is to go to Dnepro (big city) and get the passports on Wed and then go right to the train station and head to Kiev. We will be there Thurs and Fri and leave for home sometime this weekend. I will post a time we will get in when we get brave enough to actually pay for the tickets. I am so excited to be home, it seems like a dream. I will probably wake up each morning and pinch myself and then run and hug my fam.

I wrote part of a song the other day, here are the words:

Finish my Faith

Finish my faith
to finish this test
I will give my all
Please give me the rest

Help me to find
All that I need
I'm ready to follow
Wherever You lead

And if the path takes all of my strength
And when the struggle becomes too great
I know You are there, You will be there,
To finish my faith.


GOOD NEWS

Oksana just called and said that we will have our passport for sure on Wednesday. We hope to get the Kiev work done on Thursday and Friday and get home on Saturday nightish.

Hip Hip HOORAY
(with sour cream on top.)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

This is a real sickle that they use to cut the grass. We haven't seen a lawn mower in Ukraine yet.
This is the color of most homes in the villages. White with blue or green shutters that are actually functional.
Oleg and Marina


Vitaly and the bike.
Vitaly at the George's house ...climbing of course.
Bleenie with cottage cheese inside. Served the sour cream (Smi tonna)
Palomini with cherries and Zucchini with garlic
Potatoes and eggs. Oleg couldn't wait to eat it. It was good for the boys to see that even Ukrainian families pray before they eat.
Vitaly and the goat.

Last Sunday in Dnepro (we sure hope)

Happy Father's Day. We were really hoping to be home today to wish the fathers in our lives happy Father's day but ALAS we are still here in Dnepro for hopefully our last Sunday. Dave for Father's day I am going to bring 2 sons home. Your quiver is getting fuller and fuller. I hope they will all make you happy.

We had an adventure trying to get to church today. We usually take the bus from left bank and it takes us into the part of the city near the church. We are now living on right bank and we did take the bus from here near the train station when we went shopping once but it went to a different part of the city. So we got up and took the #4 bus to left bank. It was sitting waiting for more riders and we were worried about missing the other bus and so Tyler asked the driver if we would get to the MIR plaza by 9 am and he said maybe not. We said then we better take a taxi and the driver said that if we paid for the rest of the seats on the bus that he would leave immediately. It was only about 2 dollars and so we did and off he went. Never has there been a faster bus ride across the river. He made it on time and Oleg said "Are we already on left bank?" we got out and waited for the bus to the big city and it didn't come and didn't come. Finally one came that was already pretty full and Tyler asked if it was going to the place by the church and the driver said yes. Tyler had to stand most of the ride and I sat between 2 Ukrainian men and watched the wild flowers out the window and thought about how they smelled instead of the other passengers so close to me. The bus always has a smell that is a mix of motor oil, dirt and body odor. ANYWAY we got to the city after the hour drive and it went to the bus station not by the church. We talked to the locals and took the tramway part way and then took a taxi to the church. The taxi was only $6 but we got into church right as they were starting. It was kind of a crazy trip. I felt like we had sacrificed to get to church today. I had prayed that I would be able to get something out of church since it is hard when you don't understand the language. I decided today that I would think of the American words during the hymns. I usually try to sing the Russian words which don't mean much to me. As I sang the words to the sacrament hymn these words really hit me and gave me strength.

Love Effulgent Love divine
What debt of gratitude is mine
That in His offering I have part
And hold a place within His heart.

After church we talked to some people. Tyler loves to talk to the missionaries and I talked to an older gentleman who had come to Ukraine to get married. He had learned that the paperwork may take a year. He was spilling his guts to me. (probably the only English speaking person he had seen in months) I guess the red tape is not limited to adoption.

We rode the bus as far as Elizabetica and went to George and Allah's house for Lunch. We met them because their daughters work at the orphanage. Sveta was Oleg's caretaker "Mama" there. They are wonderful people who had us over for a meal at the beginning of this trip. I will post pictures of the meal. She is an awesome cook. They made mashed potatoes with fried eggs on top and zucchini slices fried with garlic sauce on top and then palomini with cherries in them and bleenie for dessert. I know that Dave's mouth is watering because he knows how good her food is. These people really restore my faith in the people of Ukraine. They are really good Christian people who want to make a difference in the world. After we ate they had me play the piano for them and then we had a great discussion about religion. I told them that we had met an Apostle in Russia and a lot more things and long story short: this time they took the book.

They drove us back home in a car that they have had for 33 years. They gave us a big jar of honey to take home and fresh milk (they just bought a cow) and some more bleenie for later.

While there Oleg and Vitaly were in 7th heaven. They played with goats, rode a bike, climbed things and had a blast on the farm in the village. Oleg was so warm to his teacher it gave me hope for what he may be like in our family someday. I am a little ticked at Vitaly right now. I made spaghetti tonight and I dished him up some and he pushed it away. I gave it to him again and he did it again and left the room. Tyler went to talk to him and he said "I won't eat that" I made it a couple weeks ago and they liked it. He has been kind of a brat all day giving me the cold shoulder and not answering when I talk to him and being the classic leave me alone teenager. We asked if he was mad or what and he says he is fine. I don't know what is up with him but I am glad that we got to get out of the apartment for most of the day so I wouldn't have to be rejected and scowled at by him the whole day. It is hard to not feel like a vending machine for gum or money or toys in this process of trying to build a relationship. I didn't do this for the hugs or warm fuzzies but hopefully there will be some love or even appreciation pop out at some point Tyler told Oleg to give me a hug and he did. I wonder how much he paid him :) For Vitaly maybe it is just Red Bull withdrawal. I hear that can be rough.




Saturday, June 19, 2010

needles outside our apartment


These needles are disturbing, but even more disturbing to me is the rampant dishonesty that is here among some of the Ukrainian people. One thing that I find extremely disturbing along with the Corbetts is that we learned that our facilitator, Oksana, actually facilitated the adoption for the Italian family that came and "stole" Danil and his brother, (the boy the Corbetts hosted.) What is even more upsetting is that Ellie had the Corbetts send candy and gifts to the boys and charged them a ridiculous amount of money to have someone deliver the treats to the orphanage. They pretended to try to get the boys to say "no" to the Italian family when all along they were facilitating the adoption for the Italians. This was discovered when Oksana told Sonya where the Italians had stayed and then suddenly realized that she had said too much. We asked Vitaly if Oksana had ever been to the orphanage before and he said "yes, she helped the family from Italia adopt Danil and his brother." Oksana had demanded that Danil's phone be taken away so he could not communicate with the Corbetts. Can you imagine how upsetting this was for them? They were devastated! After these boys were gone, Ellie set to work trying to talk the Corbetts into adopting Alina (whom the Love's hosted and were still working to adopt) and eventually Igor and Andre.

Adjusting

We had a pretty fun day today (all things considered, like we are stuck here in the armpit of Ukraine and it is a really hot day if you know what I mean.) Dave and I decided that the area where we are is one of the worst in this country. It is not so disgusting in Kiev or Ivano Frankivsk and I hear that Sumi is nicer and so it will be good to at least leave this region.

We made eggs for breakfast and when the boys started to get bored we headed to the park. We bought a soccer ball and a frisbee and had fun playing soccer (doing soccer tricks) and getting good and dirty at the park. Vitaly seemed impressed when I told him that I was on a women's soccer team a couple years ago. Oleg just said "how did the team do?"
We ate lunch at Fashion Cafe. We couldn't get the boys to order any food only drinks. Tyler ordered a bigger pizza because he thought that they would change their mind and want some but they didn't. Vitaly asked for a Red Bull drink which we said "no" to and it started a discussion on Caffeine etc and even the waitress joined in and told him it was bad for him. I don't think it changed his mind, but I told him I wouldn't be paying for any Red Bull and that ended that idea.

When we got back to the apartment Vitaly immediately asked for Ramen noodles. We had a little tiny talk (me in English to him) so I am not sure if he got the whole message but basically it went something like "You need to eat when we are at the restaurant and not as soon as we get home" It has been really nice because the boys have been in so much better of a mood since they "moved in" we haven't had any tantrums and it seems so much more relaxed. We tease a lot and get a lot of the message across with humor instead of a ton of sternness. I am sure we will need that at some point but so far so good.

The boys have a little problem with just leaving the apartment and going outside whenever they want to. We had a little talk and an hour later they did it again. I think that they are so used to doing their own thing all the time that they don't think that a mom might want to know their whereabouts and make sure that they are not stepping on drug needles. I found a pile of them out about 10 steps from our apartment outside door. I will post a picture. It is scary and who do you call. I doubt there is a board of health here and if there is they surely have a holiday today.

I made some sweet pork and rice for dinner. They don't have brown sugar and so I just put white sugar, water and honey in a pan with the pork and cooked it on low for an hour. It was pretty good. Vitaly doesn't like rice and Oleg didn"t like the pork but they both ate enough popcorn tonight to make up for any lost calories. It is funny to me that when we hosted the kids they wouldn't touch popcorn but tonight they ate about 4 large bags of microwave popcorn. To wash it all down they drank a lot of fanta and sprite. Vitaly still drinks from the big 2 liter bottle. He just hoists the whole thing up in the air and chugs away. We keep getting on him and telling him to use a cup but maybe we are expecting too much too soon. Funny, silly, adorable boys.

They took a shower willingly and things are going really well. They keep doing funny things to get my attention. They reach in the room that I am in and turn off the light and run and laugh. Tonight they brought a big jug of water into my room (Did I mention that we have to buy all the water we drink and lug it up 3 stories to our apt?) They would then run out laughing. I couldn't figure out this game. Was I supposed to trip on the jug when I turned on the light or was it bad luck to have a water jug in your room? Was it going to explode or something? Finally Vitaly poked his head in the door and said "Mommy stole water" then they laughed and laughed. I guess it was the framing game and they were framing me for stealing water. I wonder what other games they play in the disky dome.

They are adjusting really well to our culture (much better than I to theirs.) They like to get hugged, tickled and kissed. They are not needy and whiny and have an independence that is great except when it comes to me carrying their stuff. Finally today I told Tyler to tell them that if Mom carries all of her 10 kids' stuff she soon will not be able to move. They laughed and carried their own snack. What a blessing we have in these boys.

Dave who has flipped roles and is now the family optimist said "Enjoy this time (note where he is speaking from :) This is your time to have the boys all to yourself and bond with them." We had the pregnancy (9 months of paperwork and coming here and court etc) and then the birth (adoption final) and now it is our little Mom and babies at the hospital time. How sweet.
I AM enjoying it...., no really ...... This is fun....huh huh huh......With as much as they eat, I am just glad they are not nursing..... and no diapers. This is awesome!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Update on the loving relatives


I forgot to mention one thing that Oksana found out. There are 2 sets of relatives that have been trying to stop the adoption of Oleg. The couple from Russia that are his Godparents went to the social services office and were discouraged by the paperwork but did put in a formal complaint that stated that they wanted to adopt him and even though they are only 21 (which would make this impossible) at least they gave it a shot. It turns out that the one who filed the paper with the prosecutor was Marina (the aunt/sister/cousin) She said that Oleg should not leave his country and that he was sitting by a tree crying and saying that he didn't want to go to America. He denies any tears were shed and I believe him and so did everyone who had to interview him. She does obviously love the kids and I think that she is the main factor that influenced Alina. We won the battle with Oleg though and despite her efforts to keep him from being raised in a Christian home, he is my son now!!

I am not sure which relative will "tear my dress," but I am keeping my eyes peeled for this woman. I have practiced picking up Oleg and taking him under my arm and running. I have a feeling that I could outrun her. (She is a chain-smoker)



This picture pretty much says it all boring, boring , boring. Note the matching American Flag shirts.
This is how dirty hands get before they ask for a baby wipe. He actually asked and I was thrilled. I asked them to take a shower yesterday and Vitaly didnt want to. He said "in the orphanage we only have to take a shower once a week." I said " You're not in the orphanage anymore :)" He took one and didn't complain. I think that they brush teeth weekly too because Oleg brushed his teeth as part of the ritual. They are getting that down now (relax Dave.)
As we drove away from the orphanage today after our donation one of the kids from the orphanage said "Hi" as we drove out. It kind of hit my funny bone and I said "no hi..., Pocaw!!! (goodbye)!" The kids even laughed. It was kind of like saying "We are OUT OF HERE" or as Debby and Scott would say " C U" and our family inside joke "Never again!"


This is our bathtub. It looks worse in real life. Yes there is major mildew around the edges and the stain in the tub is permanent. I have tried to scrub it off and I think it is rust showing through from the inside of the tub or something. The sad thing is that this is one of Ukraine's nicest homes. The owner is a pediatrician. A family who stayed here before said that they make more renting their house than she does as a doctor. This tub gets a workout since it is the only shower/tub and also the washer drains into this tub ( the hose hangs over the edge and you don't want to shower with the washer on) and since there is not a bathroom sink, this also is where people are supposed to brush their teeth (with bottled water of course.)

This is the toilet. When they gave us the detailed tour of the house, Tyler was translating and laughed when they said "this is our great toilet" They are so proud of everything here. Yes there is tape on the toilet seat and I am sure that it didn't take much to break it since the toilet seats are very thin and look like they were made from recycled plastic forks or something. At home if you slam your finger in a toilet seat it actually hurts. Here lifting the seat is like turning the page in a book :)




This is Anya, the lawyer who helped us today She has cute big white flowers on her black high heels. She also has a large variety of big flower rings on her hands. Ring pop gal would be jealous.



what we do when we are bored

This is the broken down building where one of the government offices is housed. We thought that if the boys started climbing the walls that they would agree to let them leave the country sooner :)
Oleg (he likes to be called Spencer now) took pictures of all the cars driving by to pass the time. They have us wait in the car just in case the official doesn't believe them and they have to produce the mother and child they are talking about.


The 3 monkeys are at it again.

This was the prize Vitaly chose with all of his tickets. This is in the mall in Dnepropetrovsk.




Vitaly and his tickets. Nobody better challenge him at wac a mole.



Alisa's Birthday

Today is Alisa's birthday. The absolute day that I had to be home from this ordeal in Ukraine. I guess all my wishing and persisting didn't work and Ukraine didn't cooperate. I am so sorry to be missing my cute daughter's 12 year old birthday. We will also miss Father's day on Sunday. Who would have guessed that we would be in this country for both Mother's Day and Father's Day. Good thing we are getting 2 children out of the deal. The experience has been unforgetable. In my experience, memories tend to sweeten in time. Well get me out of here and let the sweetening begin!! It will take a big dose of sugar for this one, let me tell ya!

We have spent the past few days in the back seat of a car (a nice car thank heaven) going from government office to government office to get the documents needed to leave Ukraine with the kids. Vitaly is now good to go but Oleg still needs some documentation that releases him from his obligation and inheritance of an apartment that he will co-inherit someday. We don't understand all the ins and outs and everyone working for us is too busy trying to get it done to fully explain but we have to junp through a million hoops to get him off a list that says he has ownership here so that he can leave. The Corbetts are in the same boat. They are already in Kiev, however, ready to do the medical exams and embassy work and have everyone tickets bought for this Sunday. They will also be spending Father's day in Ukraine and will have to rebook tickets for later.

Oksana was worried about getting a paper signed by the agency that separated the kids that is needed to get Oleg freed from Ukrainian bondage. She was worried because the lady there has been scared by all the questioning that the prosecuter did last week and so she was worried that she would be too intimidated to sign off on it. The lawyer that took Oksana's place today walked in and said that the boss man signed it and so that wasn't as bad as we worried. I will post a picture of the cute girl who is doing work for Oksana today. She is smart and laughs a lot and I like her.

Of course the agency that we need the final signature from today is having a holiday ( I swear that they make these holidays up as a reason to go and get drunk) so we get the paper we need on Monday at 2 pm. I also found out that we are doing all this in conjunction with the processing of the passports and so we are not going to have to wait another 3-5 days for the passports AFTER we get these papers. She said that we just have to turn them in when we pick up the passports which is good news. Hopefully we will get the papers on Monday and the passports will be ready on Mon or Tues and we can go immediately to Kiev. Then on Wed , Thurs and Fri we can do the Kiev work and then go home on Saturday. Please, please, PLEASE let this happen. I know that I have had angels help me at various times in my life and I am praying for them to come back and pitch in for the next few days and get us home.. I know it can be done. Our faith is still alive and well but our patience is.... well... Exercized more than I thought it would ever be in this process.

Some Good news is that our kids had money that they inherit or has been given to them by the government because they are orphans. We decided to give all of Oleg's money to the orphanage at Oksana's suggestion because she thought that it would diffuse any argument that we were adopting these kids to get their money. It was more than we had planned to donate and I spent about 2 hours yesterday wanting to be able to make sure it was OK with Dave to donate the extra but we couldn't get through to home because our internet was broken. We decided to do the donation today instead and it was pretty smooth except for the fact that everyone had to count and recount the money a bunch of times. The whole idea that we would spent thousands of dollars and come and spend all this time in Ukraine and let our businesses suffer and miss our kids and suffer all this stuff so we could get a couple thousand dollars is so ridiculous it makes me laugh. Dave can make more in 1/2 a days work than we could get adopting 4 kids here. We don't even qualify for the adoption tax credit. I would like for whoever wants to accuse us of doing this for money to call me on the phone. I know enough Russian to tell them how it really is.

I will post a few pictures of our last couple of days. I got the post from my mom that made me cry. She will be having Alisa at her house for the week which is a tradtion when the kids turn 12. It is so good to know that people are cheering for us back in the promised land. If you have happened to try to post and it won't work, please email me at hinkson@pcu.net. I would love to hear from you. I hope the kids have fun this week at Grandma's (Alisa) and Pioneer Trek (Devin and Daniel) and work (Dave) We love you and hope you eat a lot of cake for us. I think we will go and get a hot chocolate to celebrate your birthday, Pritt! The cake here is yucky and I haven't seen a cake mix in 2 months.

All is Horrorshow! (sounds like the word "good" in Ukrainian)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Things I wish that I had brought to Ukraine.

Things I wish that I had brought to Ukraine.

Rubbing Alcohol
I can't find this anywhere, I use it for a lot of things at home and really miss it here. Also not seen ever is hydrogen peroxide.

Alcohol wipes
for the cuts and scrapes and disinfecting without getting wet. I brought hand sanitizer but then you just have wet hands and then sticky hands full of dead germs.

Kitchen utensils
the kitchens have the neccesary utensils for making borsch and frying potatoes. If you need more than a potato masher, ladle, pancake turner and a grater, to cook you had better pack it.

Summer clothes
I planned to be home before now and so I brought spring clothes. I need summer clothes . I was also told that they only wear black here and so I brought a lot of black stuff. They wear all colors and you would be smart to pack something for next season too.

WASH CLOTHS
I still have not seen any for sale in Ukraine.. I bought some in Russia but they are very thin. If you like thick fuffy ones bring a few so they can dry between washings.

Light weight clothes that dry fast.
I have one shirt that dries in a day and the rest take longer because it is so humid. I am tempted to wear it everyday and pack or give the rest of the gothic looking clothes that I will probably never wear again at home, away.

Unisom
For the night trains and time changes. It may have helped to regulate us better. There is nothing more annoying than wishing for sleep that won''t come.

More American Money
We thought that we could get money in ATMs but we can only get gryvnia. We can exchange it at the bank but it takes time to find one that has US bills. They want US money for the bribes (I mean exp fees) and they are really picky if the bills are old, faded, torn or stained) Take plenty of new crisp US money.....the more conterfeight looking the better. ( Someone should make a movie about a couple who takes countefeighted money to Ukraine for the bribes. What are they going to do really?)

Shoes with good tread
There are a lot places with no drainage on the roads or sidewalks. We are here in rainy weather and I have almost slipped several times because all of my shoes are too slick. Maybe this is why the high heels are a hit because it lifts at least the the heel away from the water below. But It also is farther to fall.

More to do in spare time.
I brought things to crochet, read, write, play, stitch, etc but it was not enough. I wish we had movies in English, more to read , more games to play anything....

More for the kids to do
What I would't do for an UNO game or something that we could play together that wouldn't require language skills. We have spent hours looking for things to entertain the kids while we WAIT. There is a really slim assortment of any kinds of products for kids here especially games or cards or anything of good quality.

Instant foods that can be made with boiling water.
On the trains there is hot water available that you can make instant oatmeal or ramen or other things with. I used the 2 packets of instant oatmeal that I brought from home today and gave it to the boys for breakfast but they didn't eat it. I didn't know how to tell them how precious that stuff is.







Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Passport Application.....Check

We spent the day in Dnepropetrovsk again today doing the passport application. We hope it will be done in a few days. The sooner the better. We found out that the Corbetts are having trouble with passports and may be here a week longer. Sonya is in pain with a shoulder and arm that are really bothering her. She went to an "American Doctor" in Kiev, but said he was not American but she got some shots and medication. The problem with their process has something to do with getting the security code for the passport and that isn't happening until they clear the boys from the property that they are supposed to inherit. Our Oleg may have the same issue but hopefully we can transfer everything to Alina and not have the problem. I am sure that Sonya would appreciate any love and support that anyone can spare right now.

Oksana also found out that the thing that Alina mentioned that she didn't like about our family was that we made her pray before she could eat. I am sure that she is talking about how we ask the blessing on the food and pray before we eat meals but I thought most families did that. It is not like we withhold food if you don't go through a religious ritual or something but I guess if it were a completely foreign thing that it could be uncomfortable. I am sad that this small and harmless act has been something that would cause her to reject a family that could give her so much. I don't think that her family had any religious background. Oleg seems to be adapting really well. He likes the name Spencer and wants us to call him that. He and Vitaly pray with us at mealtime and at night without any complaints.

Oksana said that tentatively we may be able to go home next Saturday. WE HOPE, WE HOPE.
We should know more tomorrow.

I just talked to Dave and he pointed out that I signed a recent post "the 5 Hinksons in Dnepro" I got used to being 5 with him here and so I said that.. not thinking. He said "you aren't bringing home someone I don't know about are you?" He is funny and worried that I will try to sneak another orphan out of here. It would certainly be easier than coming back again for round two. Once again my great admiration for those who have done this process more than once. You are Amazing!!!!

All is Well

Passport Application.....Check

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Birth certificates... Check

We got the birth certificates done. Tomorrow we are on to the passport prep. We spent most of the day crammed in the hot car going all over. We have another car day tomorrow and I think we are going to the orphanage again. Sigh. It all means that we are getting closer.

We moved into the apt the Corbetts were in. The owners spent a long time detailing everything about the place and it will be nice. There are 3 rooms instead of one bedroom/living room. The boys are having a fun time too and since the bridge will be closed for another 6 months it is good to be over here

The owners of the apt were impressed with Tyler's Russian and wanted to set him up with their granddaughter. He was surprised when they said she is 15. I agree that Vitaly's girlfriend looks older and could almost pass for his Mom. She does have good taste.

After we cleaned our apt and had everything packed we ran over to the orphanage to take some cookies and pencils that Oleg had got for his classmates and they were so cute. Bogdan said that he really wanted to come to America. He is 7 and is adorable. He speaks some English. I told him that I had showed his picture to some Americans and maybe someone would come for him. He lit up and said THANK YOU. The teacher went around the group and asked if anyone else wanted to go to America and the little boy named Misha really wants to too. He looks like he has some ancestry from India and is the cutest boy. I asked the teacher to ask Christina who was walking around and she didn't respond with any enthusiasm. When I asked our boys if she wanted to go, they said "no" I hope the Alina thing is not scaring off all the girls.

We took Oleg over to say goodbye to Alina. He gave her a hug and she seemed to want to keep hugging him more. She asked for our phone number and we told her that he could call her. She was nice today and that was good to see her in a better mood. I am sure that Oleg will miss her someday but today he didn't seem too attached to anyone at the orphanage.

One thing that is interesting is that Oleg's birthday is really on March 30 and not on October 3o as we were told when we hosted him. We had a big birthday celebration when he was there and he probably thought we were crazy. I called him once in March and he said that the next day was his birthday and I didn't believe him. I told him Happy Birthday anyway but now I feel bad that we didn't have the right information. Oh well now we know when he was born and as far as Ukraine is concerned, he was born Spencer Oleg Hinkson.

We went to a little cafe across the street that the owners suggested (Nicolai and Luba are the owners) For dinner the boys ordered fried eggs (sunnyside up) They loved them. Vitaly said that everyday at the Rogers he ate Fried eggs and fried potatoes. (thanks a lot Arri) I told him that I thought they had Buckwheat and he said no eggs and potatoes. I was happy to know what kind they like. Oleg ate his with a fork and knife but Vitaly inhaled his. I said "Vitaly is pig, oh my goodness "(since he said that to me) and he agreed and kept slurping the eggs.

We love having the boys 24. 7 I was worried about if we would be able to entertain them all day but it seem a lot more natural and genuine to have them with us and less stressful than when we were in the "trial period"

All is well
Love
The 5 Hinksons in Dnepro.





My attempt to classify Ukrainian people


These are just my impressions. I know that my view is a little warped but here is what I see in the people here.
There are enough of the folowing kinds of people to justify a catagory:


Young women:
These are the ones with the high heels and revealing clotes. It is kind of interesting that I don't seem to see many ladies in my age group. They seem to mostly be under 25 and then skip right to being a babuska. I am not sure where all the 30 and 40 year old ladies are (Dave says they are at work) I dont know exactly. I have wondered if when your hair starts to turn gray you are supposed to wear a scarf and be a babuska. Maybe that is where the orange hair comes in handy. I have been told all the time that I look way too young to be Tyler's mother. I kind of like that but do wonder how it works. The young girls are beutiful. Probably some of the most beautiful girl in the world. They have tiny waists and look ilke barbies walking around in real life with their high heels click click clicking along.

Men in General;
Sorry but the men are not the best looking in all the world. Some have a kind of scandinavian look and they are nice looking but most Ukrainian men are very round faced with chubby cheeks and big pot bellies. They look a lot like large cabbage patch kids. I think it may be from years of vodka or something. The little boys are all cute but when they grow up and live in this culture of heavy drinking and smoking, it must take a toll. I know that they can't help what mother nature gives to them but they could use a few lessons in spitting right where you are ready to step or blowing smoke in your face or any of the other sick habits they exhibit.
Babuskas:
They always wear a scarf and a dress (actually usually a skirt and shirt that don't match) They are usually missing teeth and look about 75 years old or older in American years. If you picture the old lady in the movie Snow White who gives her the apple you will be pretty close. They are nice ladies and can be seen selling things everywhere. They sell Sunflower seeds and all kinds of things. They sit in a row along the sidewalk. I thought that it was because they are poor but Tyler says that it is a social thing to go out and sell stuff with the ladies. I will never forget the one image that I memorized of a babuska on the bus who had a sack of 3 apples. She took one out with her very dirty hands with dirt under her fingernails and proceeded to try to eat the apple with her missing teeth. It was a sad picture as she would kind of knaw at the apple and chew a little. There don't seem to be any babuska husbands, although I think I saw the first one today helping his babuska wife onto the bus. I asked someone why there are no husbands and they said that they have all died or left.

Professionals:
These are the well dressed people that have a good job. They are walking fast in the subway and seem to know where they are going. The men have a briefcase and the women have a larger handbag for papers.
Children:
the kids are beautiful. There are not many kids (unless you are at the orphanage.) I don' t know if any families in Ukraine that are as large as ours is. The moms have maybe 2 kids and take care of them well unless they choose not to and then they drop them off at an orphanage and let them be raised there. There doesnl't seem to be a stigma with abandoning your children here. There also doesn't seem to be a concept of sacrificing for the kids as much as there is in America. That may be why everyone invents false ulterier motives for those of us who choose to adopt. It is hard to understand WHY we would ever want to do that. We must be getting a bunch of money or plan to sell the kids or something. There is such an air of greed and focus on all things material here. It is really sad that they are willing to throw away the real things for a little temporary glitzy garbage.