Hoping to someday find M's brother adopted in the U.S. -
Myckola Oleksandrovych Markov - 8/26/2003

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

More snow - No Papers yet

Yesterday it started snowing before our 2nd visit with "K." By the time we got to our car, it was snowing, sleeting, freezing rain, and probably some cats and dogs too. Our driver looked at us and said "Winter." Haha Yes it is.

We found out the Russian word for snow. Its schnick. When they try to say "snow" but it comes out "schnow." Our driver was trying to tell us about the "schnow" and we thought he was trying to "show" us something.

I must have eaten something that didn't make my stomach happy when we were back in Kiev because I've eaten my daily limit of Immodium for over a week now and its STILL not happy with me. Phillip and I have both lost a noticable amount of weight. All the running around we did the first week, we just didn't have time to eat much and then having to come back to Kiev and having to do it all over again and come out here where we are now was another couple of days with not much to eat. Its also hard to find "pre-packaged" food. One apartment didn't even have a microwave so it didn't matter anyways. I like to cook and I don't like processed food so we're making out pretty well but it takes time to prepare food and we're running around a lot here. We did find the UA version of Oodles of Noodles. Yay.

I have a pair of jeans that keep falling down everywhere I go. They were "skinny" jeans. Now I have lots of extra room in them. They were my favorite jeans, but I'm not sure if I want to fill them back out again. Maybe a dryer will take of this problem! I did bring a pair of pants that were really tight just in case this happened and they fit nicely.

We took "K" some of the clothes we brought with us today. They workers put her hairbows in her hair and bring her toys back that we gave her so we thought that we'd just give her a pair of clothes to wear. Everything she has worn has either been too small or way way too big. The 2T shirt I brought her fit really well but I think 3T would be fine too because she is fairly tall. They didn't put her skirt and leggings that we gave her this morning but maybe she'll have them on this evening. I want to know what size to buy her because half the things I brought were too small so I gave them to the grouppa.

Its snowing here so I'm making chicken soup and watching the snow fall. Its supposed to be a high of 15 tomorrow. We asked our driver if it was supposed to "balshya schnick" (big snow) but all we got was "da schnow." Hmmm....

Please keep praying that our papers will get signed. We are waiting on a phone call from our translator to let us know when they've been signed so we can go pick them up and put them on a train to Kiev so that she can get them (in 8 hours) and submit them to the SDA. Please please keep praying! We need those papers before we can get a court date!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Swimming in a bathtub

We had heard that "K" swims as part of her therapy and we were told how much she likes it. We had been waiting to see her swim and no one mentioned it again so we asked this morning, which is a feat in itself that required google translate on a blackberry, a pen and a notebook.

So we came back earlier than usual this afternoon to see her swim. We followed her caretaker all over the coridors of the orphanage and into a room that had her pool. It was a huge bathtub full of warm water. The water was green and we aren't sure if that's the color it comes out at the orphanage or if they put something in it. Our water at the apartment is clear even though we can't drink it.

"K" did a bunch of exercises and stretches in the water and then had a massage afterwards and did more exercises. It seems to either wear her out or really relax her because she seems very tired afterwards. We had wondered why she was so tired during our afternoon visits and now we know why. We were showing up right after her "swims." We are going to try to visit longer in the morning and not come in the afternoon as often.

We found out this afternoon that our paperwork was held up another day. Its a long story but the just of it is that we are waiting on a stamp to arrive so the person who is supposed to sign the papers can sign and them stamp them with this seal. I was really upset. We thought it had been done today, but we are told it should happen tomorrow.

While we were playing with "K" today, a nannie came and got us and we were taken to the director's office this afternoon. They had all the people there from our first meeting plus the nannie (that is our favorite) there asking "K" and the nannie questions. We had no translator so we sat there knowing they were talking about us and knowing it was important but not being able to understand anything. After about 10 minutes the nannie motioned for us to get up and we walked out. She stood in the hall and pointed at Phillip and I and said, "Mama Papa hedoshay(I think it means ok)" and then pointed to "K" and said, "doycht" (daughter). We assume this means that they agreed its ok for us to be "K's" mama and papa. This is why we thought the conclusion was signed today... so we aren't sure what the meeting was about now! lol

We bought "K" a toy telephone this morning. She loves cars and trucks (mashinas) so we got her a "Cars" phone. She loves it. She talks on it and says "Kak delah? nohme" Not quite sure what all of that means... We also found her a knockoff version of the Little Kelly Dolls for only 5 grivnah. "K" is always wearing the same red shoes so we got a doll with red shoes just like hers. Another hit.

We hope to have the papers signed AND stamped with that elusive stamp by tomorrow! Please please keep us in your prayers. We really want to get this show on the road so we can go home!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

If Home is Where My Heart is then I'm Out of Place

You know you're homesick when the sight of McDonald's golden arches makes you teary eyed. I don't even like cheeseburgers but I so desperately wanted a taste of home that we asked our driver to stop at McDonalds so we could get a burger and fries there. They put ice in our coke which was nice since it was the first ice in our drinks since we left Dulles, but we were both wondering the whole time if it will make us sick. We wanted the ice bad enough to risk it. I've already taken Immodium for a week anyways!

We talked to the boys twice on skype today. They fed us maccaroni and cheese and we fed them a kindersurprise chocolate egg and cream puff rolls. Then we took turns giving kisses. Wes showed us the Christmas ornaments that NiNi bought him and Wyatt. Trains. He was very excited and obviously didn't want to leave them on the tree. We miss those boys so much but we are so greatful that we get to see them and hear them twice a day even if just through the computer.

I found a roll of paper towels in the kitchen today and Phillip and I both got ridiculously excited. I guess they do sell them here because there they are in the kitchen, but I haven't seen them in a store yet. I found a secret compartment hidden in the bathroom tile that had among other things, a bottle of something that looks like windex. Can it be true? An apartment with paper towels and windex??!

It snowed this morning and yesterday morning as well. Not much, just a little but its supposed to do more this coming week and a high of 21 degrees for Wednesday. Maybe we'll use that long underwear we brought yet!

We visited "Katoosh" as they call her at the orphanage, twice again today. We have to stay in a long hallway with several sofas when we visit her since we aren't allowed to play with her groupa. Many times other people are visiting children in the same hallway and they bring toys and chatter away in Russian. Katoosh wants to go see what they're doing and gets really frustrated if we don't let her. I wish we could go outside, but its cold. Its challanging trying to play with a child for several hours in a long hallway when she doesn't understand what you are saying and we don't know what she is saying either. We bought some toys but I think the new has worn off of those. I will admit I get bored playing with the same markers, crayons, notebook, and beads after an hour as well. We took her upstairs tonight to a different sofa (change of scenery) but it was so dimly lit that I kept losing toys on the carpet. She seemed really tired and frustrated tonight and I think she has a cold as well so even though we are supposed to stay longer than an hour and a half, we took her back to her groupa. She seemed ready to go. I think they may have been doing something she wanted to do? We are going to try to find something more interactive and interesting tomorrow at the children's store across the street.

Being in a foreign country is interesting and exciting. Living in a foreign country is challanging and a little frustrating. Visiting an orphanage twice a day, every day is emotionally exhausting. Nothing could have prepared me for it. It has made me question myself and God, but today I realized that most of all, we just can't wait to take Katoosh home.

We're waiting for the orphanage director to sign papers that have to be submitted to the SDA and then processed over 5 working days before we can petition to have court. Please pray that she will sign the papers tomorrow so we can get going with the next step towards home.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

2 weeks today

Its been two weeks today since we left the U.S.

Two weeks since I kissed my boys goodbye. I never knew I had the strength to do that and if I knew how much I would be missing them now and what it feels like to leave your heart in another place, I don't know that I could have done it.

Two weeks since we ate our last American meal in Dulles airport at Fudruckers. We ordered in English from an English menu and got exactly what we ordered. I'll never take that for granted again!

Two weeks since we washed and dried our clothes in a washer and dryer!

In two weeks my perspective has changed a lot. I looked outside the orphanage today at the playground.

All I could think about was the new playground our church is purchasing.

We are blessed. We should never ever forget that and we should take every opportunity to share what we've been blessed with because isn't that why God has blessed us in the first place?

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Calzone

So we'll start with the title of this post. If in a far east city in Ukraine, and you stop at a place called Pizza Bella and you see a Calzone on the menu, DO.NOT.ORDER.IT. At least not if it has salami in it. Phillip and I got pizza to go last night for dinner since we have had a hard time finding a grocery store nearby to buy food to cook here at the apartment. Anyways, it looked good. Smelled good. And I was ready to claim my half. So I took a bite and O.M.G. WHAT is in that thing? So I spit out what was in my mouth and found this piece of meat that had a very offending flavor. So I did what any good wife would do. I nibbled my half even and stuck it back in the box and told Phillip he could have the whole thing. I'll eat MY pizza.

Haha. The look on his face was priceless. Well, you ordered it, Babe.

The salami here is NOT American salami. No the smell and flavor that comes to mind is....raw deer. Mmmmm....

Thank goodness we had my "Fungi Pizza." Yep, that's what they call pizza with mushrooms, but it was good and we operated on the cold calzone this morning to remove the salami and eat just the bread because we did pay 35 grivna for it.

We are required to visit our girl at the orphanage at least 3 hours a day. We can go from 9-12am and 4-7pm. So we go twice a day for around 2 hours each time. We are not allowed to see the other kids in her grouppa. They said its because even very little children have an accute awareness that we are a mama and papa and they recognize this and become upset. We've seen some little ones walking down the hall with a nannie or two, but for the most part its just us and our girl. We have a very, very, very long hallway full of chest high windows and its lined with lots of large potted plants. The worlds longest runner carpet runs down it and that's where we walk up and down with our girl because she likes to just walk back and forth.

We found a toy store today and bought a few new toys to play with because the ones we brought were getting old. She likes to color with markers and crayons and she really likes to take things out and put them away, then take them out and put them away... wash. rinse. repeat. You get the idea!

We bought a slinky but the stairs here are too wide for it to work so we demonstrated it on the couch and our hands which resulted in excited sqeals and a demolished slinkly. RIP slinky. Your 10 minutes of fame made a child happy.

We also found a container of super huge beads that can be threaded on a shoelace. Huge hit. Not so much the threading part, but the fact that it can be dumped and filled, dumped and filled, dumped and...

"Squish" is still the favorite. She holds the bag of playdoh while we walk the hall. She also likes Papa to hold the squish while she pulls it apart and you guessed it; stuffs in back in the bag.

I also found a cute little headband with a pretty flower on it. I know that we might not get it back, but I gave it to her today anyways. She loves to have her hair decorated with bows and clips. We have to stop to fix it if any of them get frazzled. The day we met her, I know she had at least 30 flower clips in her hair. Today we were down to 4 plus the headband.

Its supposed to snow tomorrow so I'm wondering about our drive to the orphanage in the snow. I swear I will never complain about Charlottesville drivers again. They are tame sweet little lambs compared to driving in Ukraine.

Our regular driver had a very very well used car and we noticed that it had a miss a few days ago and it had progressed to a dead miss yesterday (one cylinder not firing at all) and we tried to explain that Phillip was a mechanic and could look at it for him. We were concerned we'd break down somewhere ya know? He spoke no English though and I finally told him that Phillip was a "mashina vrach" (car doctor) but he didn't seem to understand that he wanted to look at the car. So today we were standing outside waiting for Sergei and were approached by a younger man who asked if we were waiting for our driver? Umm.... dude WHO are you? We kinda said umm yeah we are and he said oh ok its me. Get in the white car. My mind went wild with assumptions of what COULD be going on, but no he was a nice guy and drove us to the orphange. Well, he drove us near it then we had to remember where it actually was and tell him how to get there. Then we had to tell him how to get back to the apartment because you have to go a different way. "Turn on the street with the BIG egg" Yeytsol Balshya! Yes, there is this HUGE concrete egg on the street corner... I will get a picture but what I really want to see is the chicken that laid it.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving From Ukraine

The worst part about having good news is when you can't share it. We rode an overnight train to the region where we're staying and arrived about 6am yesterday morning. The train was hot. One of the people in our compartment kept coughing and coughing until he finally either got off the train or went somewhere else. He startled us when he did so because he got up and threw the door open which made the light come on and some little alarm go off which startled the two Americans in the top bunks who got blinded and startled awake on a train in Ukraine.

When we got off the train we were met by a driver and he took us to McDonalds where our translator tried to order me an egg biscuit. I got an egg McMuffin. Oh well, the coffee was very good and I was just happy to have a bathroom after refusing to use the one on the train all night!

After that we went to meet the orphanage director at her office which we thought opened at 8am but found out after waiting 20 minutes until 8am and she didn't arrive that they don't open till 9am. So we waited. We do a lot of that here.

After our translator had a very very long conversation with the director in her office, we drove to the orphanage and met several other people in charge there. They were very thorough and we were left with the impression that they very genuinly care about the children there.

After we had talked for a while, they brought in the little girl we were there to meet. She walked in wearing a super frilly pink dress covered in flowers and had about 30 flower clips in her hair. She said "izdrahswitzya!" (Hello and yes I know I butchered the spelling) She told us (in Russian) that her dress was very pretty and did we like it? We gave her a toy car to play with ( I know I know, but I have boys) which she loved and started making car noises while driving it. Wesley will be pleased.

They took her to the gym where she does her exercises and showed us how she does all of that. She talked the whole time. "Its raining outside so my groupa didn't go out today" "When we're done, I'm putting my shoes on myself." Then it was time for us to go and she said that she was glad we came to visit her, please don't leave yet, she wants to go for a walk outside. It was raining... she knew that lol

We visited her again last night and this morning. She points to Phillip and says "Papa!" She was scared of his beard yesterday but today she decided to pet it and says something that sounds like "poke" then jerks her hand away and laughs.

She likes to color and she is fascinated by the playdoh we brought. She calls it "Squish" because that's what I told her to do with it and it stuck as what she named it.

We found out today that she LOVES huge stuffed dogs. One of her nannies brought this huge stuffed dog (suh-bah-ka) to her and said that she loves dogs and horses. Keep in mind the nannie speaks NO english. We got this from what Russian I can speak and hand motions.
She also likes to play with cars. They have several ride on cars and she liked Phillip to push her around in them while I chased with "suhbahka."

She tells us "Paka" (bye) and "dezveydynya" when we leave. We are supposed to visit no less than 3 hours a day. Trying to tell the nannies today what time we'd be back was interesting. They speak no English and we don't know how to say time in Russian so we were trying to show each other what we meant with our hands and getting nowhere and Phillip said (to me) well what is it in Ukraine? 17:00 hours? Then one of the nannies said "Oh 5 o clock?" YES!

Paka Paka

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More later...

It is another rainy day in Kiev. It is supposed to really whip up tonight with lots of wind and rain. There is a protest going on in Indepence Square which is right next to our apartment. They are protesting higher taxes. There are lots of people speaking over loudspeakers and lots of extrememly loud music (all in Russian). We THINK we heard the Russian version of Shania Twain's "Man I Feel Like a Woman." Not sure though. They were out there until late last night then again early this morning. Our apartment is literally vibrating with all the noise lol

The good news is that we're headed out of Kiev tonight :) More later...

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Making dinner

This makes me so thankful for my washer and dryer at home.

The delicious chicken stew we made.
The chicken before we cooked it.

That's Chef Phillip's hand next to the chicken pot.

Making the best of it.

We had hoped that our facilitator might be able to work some magic and get us a 2nd appointment on Friday, but that didn't happen. We are waiting till Monday at 9am to go to the SDA and sign up for the next available appointment. We're hoping we'll be able to get an appointment for later on Monday.

All of this waiting is really hard. We miss our boys so much! I don't know how I will last the rest of the time because I miss them more each day and I didn't think that was possible. They seem very happy when we talk to them on skype though. Wyatt kisses the screen and squeals "Mama and Dada!" and Wes runs off and says "Oh I'm too busy to talk."

We know that all things work together for good and in the grand scheme of things it is only one week that we've been set back. Our timing is not the same as God's timing and we know that He is working things out for the greater good for our family.

So while we've had a few days of just waiting for paperwork to be re-approved we have walked around a bit and gotten aquainted with Kiev. Its been rainy off and on so we're afraid to go too far for fear of suddenly getting wet. I left my hat in Dr. Yuri's car on Wednesday and he hasn't returned it yet so I bought one in Independence Square for 50 Grivna (about $6). I think overall I blend in pretty well here because people keep trying to start conversations with me in Russian. I wish I understood it better!

We found a nicer grocery store today called Vila (I think). I nearly bought a bag of salt instead of a bag of sugar, but thankfully I asked someone who told me what it was. We also found TGI Fridays but we didn't eat there. We're trying to buy food and cook it at the apartment to conserve money.

On the way back from the store we saw a bunch of people dressed up as animals and cartoon characters in the street. I stopped to snap a picture of the ones in the street and Bart Simpson and a Lion ran over to where we were and told us to take a picture WITH them. Bart thought it would be a good idea to flick us off in the pictures - we said No. After taking a few pictures they told us that was their job and then asked for $20 USD each! Hah! I told them "No, we don't have USD, we have Grivna and you can have 5 grivna each." No, they wanted $20USD. They kept asking for dollars and we kept saying no, you didn't tell us it cost money, so they finally told us to delete the pictures on the camera. I know what I'd do in the U.S. but here I wasn't so sure what to do. :-O Maybe its common knowledge here that it cost money to take pictures with people in costumes? No one else was doing it so I'd say probably so...

Note to self: never take pictures with strange animals in the streets of Kiev.

We walked back to our apartment and cooked a whole chicken in a pot with vegetables for dinner. We bought frozen fish fillets and are going to attempt that tomorrow. The oven is gas as well so I'm not too sure how this will go...

Friday, November 19, 2010


We've updated our paperwork and requested a 2nd SDA appointment. We are waiting to hear when that will be. We requested it as soon as possible.

Riding in a car in Ukraine is quite an experience. I just have to shut my eyes. Our facilitator is a great driver but the other people we've ridden with were crazy! Everyone drives like they are playing chicken at 120-130 kilometers an hour. Passing multiple vehicles at a time is the norm.

We had something really interesting for lunch yesterday. We hadn't had much to eat at all on Tuesday since we were in a car for 14 hours and we had not bought much food to keep in the apartment since we knew we were leaving and thought we wouldn't be back here for a while.

We went to an underground mall to find somewhere to eat and went to a place that I think said "Mister Chef" in Russian. We got a baked potato and sandwich meal and the idea of it was to choose from multiple toppings and put two on your potato. They all looked extrememly unfamiliar so we went with what the guy in front of us got. It turned out to be grated pickled beets then a layer of some sort of creamy sauce and the fun part was the fish chunks (which seemed raw) mixed in with it. Sort of like a hidden surprise. Wow. We each ate a few bites just to say we did then ate the sandwich which was good.

I made oatmeal this morning. This apartment doesn't have a microwave or a washing machine so its a little more challanging. The stove is gas and I have to light it with a match. Very interesting. I'm scared I'm gonna blow something up!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


We have had a rough 2 days. We were unable to adopt the child who's referal we accepted so we are now back in Kiev and have requested a 2nd SDA appointment. I can't go into details on the blog, but this has been very difficult for us.

We know God has a plan for us and that we are supposed to be here. We don't understand all of the whys and may never understand everything, but we will go back to the SDA believing our child's file is there waiting for us!

Please be in prayer for us. We are trying hard not to be discouraged or to question God in all of this. Its easy to trust God when life is easy, but you find out how deep your faith runs when things you had planned seem to all fall apart.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Should be sleeping but...

Whew jetlag is annoying. We are leaving at 3am to drive to the region where the child we were refered is. I should be sleeping, but I can't! The air quality here is a bit on the poor side and I think its from the small fires we saw burning in the fields all around Kiev when we flew in. I'm not sure what they are from but its rather smokey sometimes and my allergies are in overdrive. Our appartment also smells quite strongly of cigarette smoke. It seems everyone here smokes.

We went to a pharmacy today and I bought a few things. Its really interesting how you have to buy things here. I showed the clerk what I wanted and she wrote it on a piece of paper and I had to pay for the things at a different counter then walk back to get my stuff. Not sure if that is how its done, or its how its done if you don't speak Russian.

The food here is excellent. We have eaten borcht, varakavina, "pancakes" with wild mushrooms inside (like a stuffed crepe), Greek Salad (1 piece of lettuce w/ cucumbers, red peppers, tomatoes, black olives and feta cheese), and of course we had to try a Ukrainian McDonalds. Let me just say that their version of ketchup rocks. I also bought a cup of coffee from a vending machine. I could read the writing well enough to pick what I wanted.

Another interesting thing is that the milk at the grocery store comes in a bag. I thought our facilitator was playing a joke on me when I asked for the milk and he picked up a bag!

I laughed when I saw the toilet paper in our appartment. Its pink and has flowers on it. We were warned Ukie tp was rough, but whatever brand this is, isn't bad haha!

We have a small washer, but no dryer. We washed clothes and strung up a clothesline in the kitched to let our clothes dry. I think this is par for the course and I am really happy we had a washer!

One thing I have learned about Kiev. Sidewalks are not just for walking. Oh no no no. They are also parking spots, additional lanes for traffic and a place to pull over when the politzaski wants to have a word w/ you about your driving methods.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Our God Reigns Here

We have good news! First though, let me walk through our trip so far.

Our wonderful friend from church dropped us off at Charlottesville Airport on Saturday morning around 12 (well ok lunch time). We went through security, popped a hole in my travel pillow, bought a sewing kit at the airport shop so I could sew it up, then waited for our flight.

We flew for 20 minutes in a prop plane to Dulles Int. where we walked down and found our gate immediately then had dinner at a restaurant in the airport.

Our flight left 15 minutes late and we had seats right in the middle of the plane so no windows! All of the flight attendants were German and I must look German because they kept asking me what I wanted to eat or drink in German lol

The dinner they served us was very good as was the breakfast only three hours later.

I wish I had known (or maybe I don't) how excruciating the pressure change would be for my ears. Seriously, it was horrible! Phillip didn't have much pain but I did. If anyone knows how to prevent this, LET ME KNOW! I couldn't hear for a good 30 minutes.

After being on the plane for over 8 hours with NO SLEEP, we were SO SO ready to get off and walk around. We had nearly NO leg room.

In Frankfurt we had to go through security and my backpack got flagged and sent back through the scanned twice, and I had to walk to the counter with all of the other "suspicious people." They were really being super thorough with the people in front of me if you get my drift. They made the guy in front of me unpack all of his stuff and then took him to a separate room. Yipes!

I really didn't want to have to go unpack all of my stuff and empty it out so I kept praying, "God please just let them tell me its ok!"

The guy looked at me and pulled out my half empty water bottle from Dulles Airport and said "DRINK or TRASH!" I said "Trash." He handed me my backpack.

We had a short layover in Frankfurt. I tried to nap, but after 10 minutes they started bording our plane to Kiev. We had more leg room on this flight and flew a bit lower to the ground (instead of 38000 feet and 600mph). It was cool to see Germany and Ukraine from the air. Phillip slept the whole flight. I woke up with my mouth hanging open and head pressed against the window to everyone else on the plane eating breakfast. Attractive.

After almost 3 hours, we landed in Kiev. More excruciating ear pain for me.

At Borispol everyone jumped up and raced off the plane. Literally. So we walked to customs, met our VIP guy holding the sign with our name on it and walked past everyone standing in line. He took our passports, had them stamped and that was that. We walked out to the main part of the airport and saw a guy with a sign that said "Johnson and Johnson" on it so we told Alex aka huge bodyguard size dude we were good to go.

We walked over to the guy with our names on the sign and told him hi and he said "Follow me." We walked out the airport and he got on his cell then handed it to me and said "tell them your names." A lady asked me what my name and my "partner's" name was and I told her Phillip and Erin Johnson. She said no no no, we are supposed to pick up someone from company "Johnson and Johnson." Oh geez. No wonder he didn't seem friendly. Next time we'll get a picture of our facilitator BEFORE the airport pickup. He had our pictures, we never asked for his.

We went back in, sat down and waited for our guy to find us this time. After 20 minutes or so, he did and knew our names lol Whew! Let me tell you that Borispol is not like Dulles or Frankfurt so we were happy he found us.

We drove to our appartment (well facilitator drove) and unloaded our stuff then went to exchange money, buy cell minutes, and got some food for breakfast/snacks etc. Its amazing I could function after 30 hours with no sleep.

We ate dinner, went to our apartment and passed out for an hour then we got up and skyped our boys then went back to bed.

Our SDA appointment was at 12 so we met our translator and facilitator at 11:40am and walked to SDA. We had spent the morning sharing my iPod and earphones listening to my "Adoption Playlist" and praying. We asked God to just make it very clear who was meant to be ours. We felt really calm!

The inside of the SDA is not what I expected. It was a nice office space type of room and the woman we met with was very nice. I don't want to say too much yet, but we accepted a referal for a 4 year old and are headed to meet this child tomorrow or Wednesday!

We also met a couple who adopted a 3 year old girl and are heading home on Friday. We're meeting them for dinner in a few hours just to hang out. Its so different not knowing what everyone around you is saying! We can't even order in a restaurant without help.

Today is the Day

Our SDA appointment is in a few hours. I can feel everyone's prayers here because we were able to get a good night's sleep (well compared to the plane lol) and I feel surprisingly calm.

Our appartment is SUPER SUPER nice. Its more like a tiny house instead of an appartment. We are walking distance to Independence Square and we can hear the bells chime every hour from St. Sophia. Kiev is a very nice city. A lot like the downtown mall in Charlottesville but on a larger scale. The drivers are kind of crazy though, but even crazier is the people who jump out in front of them! Again, a lot like Charlottesville!

We ate dinner last night at a Ukrainian Restaurant with our facilitator. It was very good and they had English on the menu. I had Borcht and Phillip had Varakivini(not sure how to spell it - but its filled dumplings). Both were delicious.

Keep praying for us. We have 4 hours till our appointment. Pray that God will reveal to us VERY clearly which child or children are ours!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hello from Kiev!

We're here! Exhausted but ready for a good nights sleep and our appointment tomorrow. My ears are still sore from all the pressure changes on the plane, I already forgot NOT to brush my teeth with the water (oops) and the funniest (or scariest) thing that happened to Phillip and I was that we followed the WRONG guy out of the Kiev airport. He was holding a sign that said "Johnson and Johnson." Yep he figured it out outside and made me talk to an angry woman on the phone who told us that he was supposed to pick up people from the COMPANY OF Johnson and Johnson. NOT Phillip and Erin Johnson. Whoops.

Good news is that we went back in and found our guy (or let him find us) and all is well :)

Please pray for our appointment tomorrow. Its at 12:00pm local time so 6am Monday in the U.S.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

I heard a voice saying, "Who will go?" and I said, "Here am I Lord, send me."

We are finally leaving! After all of the paperwork, the meetings, the classes, more paperwork, doctors visits, more paperwork, apostilles, FedExing, more paperwork, then waiting for our date; now we finally get to go! WhooHoo!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I should have something to say

but my brain is kind of blank. I am so busy with trying to make sure that I don't forget something for us, and take care of everything for our boys before we go that I have nothing left in my poor brain to write about.

I will say that due to some unexpected possible obstacles and some unexpected possible surprises, we are probably gonna have one heck of a story to tell when we get back!

God surely works in mysterious ways :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Orphan Sunday

Today is known as Orphan Sunday and I think that it was very fitting that today was our last Sunday at church before we fly out to Kiev. Today our church prayed over us during service and I really cannot describe what a comfort it is to know that we have the support of a praying church family while we go halfway around the world to seek God's will for our family.

My mind has been kind of in a whirlwind lately, but I wanted to post a few specific things that we would like to ask prayer for as we prepare to go.

1) Please pray for our boys that we will be leaving behind. Pray that they will not be upset or confused about where we are and how long we are gone. We have explained things to them many times, and we think they have a good understanding of what is going on, but leaving them is what we have always known would be the hardest part of this journey. ( So pray for mommy and daddy too!)

2) Please pray for the officials we will be meeting with on the 15th. Pray that they will see our sincerity and love that God has placed in our hearts for a child we have yet to meet and that they would look favorably on our case and that they will have a clear understanding of the children we are hoping to adopt and why.

3) Pray that we will be shown the child/ren that we are to adopt in our first appointment ( so we don't have to have a 2nd) and that God will speak clearly to us and show us where He is leading and where we are supposed to go.

4) Pray that we will have wisdom and discretion for all of the new and unfamiliar experiences we will encounter.

5) Pray for our safety and smooth travel once we leave home and after we arrive in Ukraine.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Tree is Decorated!

We set the Christmas tree up last night. The kids were thrilled. They decorated it themselves and then I had to behind them and decorate the top half. Wyatt got into hanging an ornament, then hanging another one on that ornament, then another... all on the same branch.

Late last night we packed our stuff just to make sure it all fit and met the weight limit. The limit is 44lbs. We were at 42lbs. Phillip is fussing about the amount of clothes I'm trying to bring, but it IS a months worth I'm trying to fit! Space bags are awesome though!

We set up VIP service to walk us through customs in Kiev. I feel much better knowing we'll have someone waiting for us when we get off the plane. To be honest I did it more for my dad who is giving himself gray hairs worrying about us, than for me. Hah!

I think this weekend we may take my chickens to their "chicken sitter." Yep, I am having someone chicken sit for me. My babies can't be left alone! They have been very upset with me for keeping them in their pen the last few weeks. We re-seeded the yard and they love to eat grass seed and new grass... so they've been penned up and are showing their displeasure by refusing to lay eggs! I let them out one day and was rewarded with ONE egg.

I finished the boys' Christmas shopping today while Wes was at preschool. Wyatt just doesn't care what's in the cart as long as he has a drink so I got him a drink and went shopping. Wes is now "checking" my room to see if its clean every 5 minutes. I'm going to have to lock it because he knows where I hid the presents last year -- in my closet. I know that's what he's after!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Enter to Win

Suzanne over at One Less Broken Hearted is having a giveaway to help two families bring their kiddos home. There are some really great prizes so head on over and check them out :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My room looks like my brain feels

I have been doing a zillion different things to try to get everything ready for us to go next weekend.

In my mind, the house MUST be clean. I will not return to a dirty house. I washed all the bed linens today.

The bills all need to be set up on auto pay to make sure everything is paid up while we're off and we come home to electricity. Still haven't done this yet.

I have been trying to prepare food and either freeze or can it so that we'll have something to eat that doesn't require much prep when we get back. Yeah so on top of cooking food for us to eat NOW, I really haven't gotten much done. 4 jars of chicken soup and 2 frozen quiches. That's what takeout is for, right?

Packing. I'd been storing everything in our closet so on Sunday when we got the email with our appointment date, we ran upstairs and pulled it all out along with our bags so we had a pretty huge mess of stuff. I organized it all today into catagories (laundry stuff, gifts, childrens stuff, medication, travel food, personal care, electronics) and put each catagory into a plastic ziploc bag. We also bought some space bags last night so we're going to smoosh our clothes into those. Packing light for a Ukrainian winter is proving a little troublesome.

Plane tickets. Done.

Worrying about losing luggage, changing flights, going through security and customs. Done.

So this brings me to why I ran off and forgot my poor kid's backpack and snack for preschool this morning. I wasn't thinking about it. :-O

In the middle of the craziness though I have to stop and grin because THIS is crazy. We ARE going to Ukraine. We set out doing this without knowing how it would all come together and God has been so faithful to provide for us right when we needed it. His timing astounds me. I am so glad that I am not "really" in control of any of this and that the way I thought things needed to go are not always they way they have happened.

God has a plan for us and we are so ready to see another part of it unfold!

Monday, November 1, 2010

November is Adoption Awareness Month

This is the first time I even paid attention to this fact. Last year at this time we had just started the first steps in our adoption and I guess somehow I just never noticed that November was Adoption Awareness Month.

So to make up for our ignorance, we are doing a little something extra to promote adoption awareness this month -- we're adopting!

Ok, so you probably already knew that, but I think that it is just so cool that last year we didn't know anything about adoption except that we knew that God was calling us to do it; and now here we are one year actually later doing it.

I hope that you will follow along as we head to Ukraine NEXT WEEK (yes I can say that now!) to see what God has in store for us.

This really is HIS story, not ours. See, even God promotes adoption awareness :)

So, what are you doing to promote adoption awareness this month?

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life; but those who make their journey home across time and miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them,are carried on the wings of destiny; and placed among us by God's very own hands. --Kristi Larson