Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Home Sweet Home (long)

Hi all! I know you all think we fell off the face of the earth, but we did make it home. It was a long trek, but we made it. If you are reading this at work and that is all you wanted to know, you can quit reading, but it you want to know all the details, keep reading....

The last day in Kiev, we got up at 2:30 a.m. to get the rest of the stuff packed and ready to go. I slept in my contacts since I knew we wouldn't be in bed long and it would be time to get up soon. We wanted a little time to finish packing before the kids got up, but somewhere along the way, Vanya woke up and ran in the other kids' room yelling that papa was going to fly them to America. Everybody actually got up in a good mood and got dressed and ready to go. The last night at the pizza party, we were teasing Bogdan about getting up and coming to see us off and he said he was thinking about it, and we said, no really we are just kidding. We just didn't want to be forgotten and we didn't have a cell phone anymore to call anyone. We gave it back to George that day since it was his. Sasha, one of the orphanage graduates who has a mini van, was supposed to drive us to the airport and he lives in the same compound, so we felt pretty comfortable that he would remember to get up and take us. Bogdan got up to see us off anyway and helped load the van and talked to the kids for us. He helped bring the luggage all the way to the desk and walked right past the part that says ticketed passengers only. He waited until we went upstairs to custom. It was time to say goodbye to him and Sasha. He does wonderful work with the orphanage kids and graduates.

We then went upstairs to customs. We have heard horror stories about how they take you to a back room or give you lots of trouble and try to keep you there for a long time. We just went in line and they did everything there. I prayed we would get a nice lady in our line and we did. She maybe told them in the back room that they didn't want us there with all four kids, but we just stood at the desk and she took our papers to the back room and after a while, she came back with everything, stamped it all, and we got to go. Waiting at the Kiev airport was hard as there is nothing there, but it wasn't a long wait. We did get some juice for the kids and got to get on the plane. On this short jaunt to Germany, they gave us breakfast, and brought snacks and puzzles, and sticker pages for the kids. I sat with the girls and Monte sat with the boys and Korey was one row behind us. He slept the whole time and I think he even missed breakfast. The kids did really well with having to wear the seatbelts even though they had never worn seatbelts before. We had a several hour wait in Germany. It is funny that they would have a waiting room, after you pass through security with no bathrooms, so everytime we went out, we had to go through security again. We tried to keep the kids contained in one row of seats. They mostly colored and played with little cars. Vanya would go up to people and try to unzip their bags. One time, he leaned on a guys legs and Monte was talking to the man, and he said he was probably staring at him because he was Asian and probably hadn't seen anyone who looked like him before. Luckily, he was a really nice guy and was on the same plane as us. We didn't get to sit together on the big plane, they did put some of us together. At first, they had us all over the plane with only one person in each row. We did get it down to Monte and Vanya, Me and the girls, and Korey with Maxim. We didn't get to see each other much on this plane. The kids did pretty well. They slept and played with the buttons on the arm rest. (I don't think the stewardesses liked that very much as there was a call light on there that they kept buzzing them.) There is a little T.V. on the back of the seat in front of us. Vlada did cry a little bit about the seatbelt on this plane, but we had to keep them on as there was a lot of turbulence. It was on this plane that I realized that the kids liked cucumbers and tomatoes that they got that with one of their meals. They also liked the rhubarb cake. I am glad we had the airsick pills with us, I was really queasy by the time breakfast came, but we were already starting the descent at that time and I couldn't eat. For breakfast, they brought Twix, barbecued potatoe chips and a ham sandwhich. The girls ate well anyway. I forgot to tell about the airplane bathrooms. Katya was scared of the flushing as it makes that whoosh, I think she thought she was going down too. After the first time, she stood behind me while I flushed. It even took awhile after we got home that she wouldn't run away from the toilet when it was being flushed. Anyway, we made it to Chicago. First, we went through passport control and then had to wait for our bags. When they came, we sent Korey on his way. We had changed our tickets where we only had 1-1/2 hours in Chicago for ones that were a few hours later so we would have time to go through immigration. We had heard this could take 3-4 hours. We only sat there for a while. I had to go to the desk twice to show passports or give a telephone number or sign something. It didn't take long and we were on our way. We realized that maybe we could still keep the 5:05 flight, so we went to the desk to see if we could change them back. On the way in, a lady grabbed our bags and put them on the conveyor belt and when we asked if we could go earlier, they said we couldn't because our bags were already gone. When we got up to where our flight was, one gate down from the 5:05, it was already gone, so if we would have got on, we would have had to run, which of course would have been difficult with four tired kids. So, we got some apples and juice for the kids, and settled in for our wait. At one point, they made us move to a different gate, quite a walk from B to C. We waited there for a while. There was a bunch of college kids there and Vlada was entertaining them with Russian, and when they were laughing at her, and then she got quite silly. The flight kept being delayed, about three times, and they little ones were getting quite tired, Katya and Maxim fell asleep on the benches and Vanya fell asleep cross legged on the floor. I wish the batteries in my camera weren't dead - that would have been a cute picture. After about an hour of delays, they cancelled our flight. I was fighting tears at this point. Everyone was so tired and we all just wanted to go home, but there was a vibration on the plane. They told everyone to get in line to be set up for another flight and get vouchers for a hotel and meals. We must have been the farthest from the line because I was the last one in line. They set us up at the Hilton, which is across the road from the airport with an underground tunnel. There was a long line to check in there with everyone from our plane. They also gave us a $15 voucher for food for each person. Everyone was so tired that we tried room service. On the menu, it said spaghetti was $7 so we ordered three plates of spaghetti since the kids ate it in Ukraine. It turned out that the spaghetti was $22.50 a plate plus all the extra taxes and fees, it was $93. It used up all of our vouchers plus more. They only sent us four forks and the kids wouldn't eat it anyway, just ate a little bit and some bread. That was a total waste of money. Then we put everyone to bed. We had to sleep three people to a bed. Boys in one bed, girls in the other. Maxim cried about which bed he had to sleep in, but everyone slept pretty well, and then we walked back to the airport. When we got to the airport, we got the kids apples, bananas and juice. It was so nice to get on the plane and finally be on our way home!!! That was a quick jaunt and we were met at the airport by Mike and Toni, Dan and Mary and family, and Shannon and Amy Stauter and a friend of theirs who spoke Russian. It was so nice that she was able to talk to the kids about going home, what to expect in the car, etc. (The Stauter girls graciously hosted Mike/Toni and Dan/Mary for the night when our flight was cancelled so they didn't have to drive home and come back again.) That was alot to ask of our friends!! But we are so glad to have such good friends. A little ways from the airport, all of the kids fell asleep, but nobody had eaten, so by about Elk River, the older two were awake, so we went to Denny's there, thinking that the menu had pictures and the kids could pick something. They all picked pancakes that had pancakes for ears, and whip cream for a mouth and cherries for eyes. Maxim ate his, Vlada about half, Vanya a few bites, and Katya didn't eat anything, except some of my scrambled eggs. I think it is going to be difficult to find something they all like to eat!!! Then we continued on home and only had to make one potty break. When we got close to our house, we got them all excited about going home and when they saw our house, they recognized it from pictures, and started yelling "America, America!!" I wished we could have taped it, it was so cool!! When we got home, we spent time exploring the house and showing them their bedrooms. Mike took pictures and some video of the home coming. When they were here and we were showing them the boy's bedroom, the dogs had pushed the door in and ran in, all of the kids started screaming, they were very scared of the dogs. We will have to work on that transition!! Before they left, Monte's sister and brother-in-law came. Everybody thought we got home yesterday and we had just gotten in. Then Monte's mom came and brought remote control cars for the boys and a singing bear for Vlada and pony for Katya. Katya wanted a singing toy too and one of the remote control cars didn't work. Carol said she would come back tomorrow with a new car. We fed the kids a spagetti hotdish that Kathy had made. The boys loved it and the girls only ate a little bit. LeRoy and Lori and Chris came over too and brought apple pies from McDonalds. By then, the kids had gotten quite silly and a little rowdy. After LeRoy and Lori left, it was time for bed and they went to bed really well. I read one book to Katya and she was sleep by the last couple of pages. I heard Korey come in, he had been in the cities. I think it was about 9 and we were all in bed already. During the night at about midnight I heard someone walking around. I thought it would have been one of the kids and I got up to find Korey sitting on the floor in the kitchen. He said he didn't feel good and almost passed out. He drove home from the cities when he wasn't feeling well and then was sitting on the floor in the bathroom, so I got him a bucket, got him some Tylenol, and walked him back downstairs. I didn't think I would be taking care of the oldest kid in the house. I thought it would be one of the younger ones.

I want to write more about our time since we have been home, but I think puzzle time is over and the crying has begun. I have supper in the oven and it is almost done, so I need to get going on that - I will try to catch you all up soon. But I just wanted to tell you that all of us adults have been sick since we have been home and we haven't been able to write yet and it is still difficult to find time to sit down. I hope to soon though....

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