We are finally HOME.
We found out after court on Thursday that we couldn't do any paperwork during the 10 day waiting period which will end on the 20th of Decemeber, so we decided to come home and wait it our here in the U.S. I signed over my POA to Phillip so only he will be returning to Ukraine to get Katya during the week of Christmas.
We went to the orphanage and told Katya goodbye on Thursday morning and left her almost all of the toys we bought her, some snacks, a picture book and we tried to explain that we wouldn't be back for a little while. We got one of her nannies to explain to her that her Papa would be back on the 21st to pick her up and take her home but at 4 I don't think she grasps the concept. We are hopeful that since her workers know when Phillip is coming back that they'll remind her of that when she asks for us. The inspector told the judge at court that Katya asks for us every day before we would come visit her so we know she will be looking for us.
I'm a little sad that we won't all be together for Christmas but I'm also so happy that Katya will have her Papa there with her for the first time in her life so she won't have to spend another Christmas alone and without a family. We will save our presents here for when Daddy and Katya return. We are thinking about just doing a New Year's/Merry Christmas Day but we'll probably just tear into everything as soon as they're home! Our translator said she was sorry that we would have to spend Christmas apart and said Phillip could come back after Christmas to finish the paperwork but we want this thing finalized and Katya home ASAP!
We also found out that the Ukrainian parliament is voting to close adoptions on Dec. 16th so we feel very fortunate that we got to court and were declared Katya's parents before that vote comes up!
Our trip home was very very long. We found out there were no train tickets left AT ALL for the 4pm train leaving Kharkov and going to Kiev so we had to pay an extra fee to get 3 tickets on a bus that someone else had already booked. Not sure how they even worked that but they said we could have them for an extra 100 grivnah and we said ok.
The bus wasn't bad. It had more leg room than an airplane but smelled worse. There was also a "flight attendent" that served drinks and snacks in route. The bus driver drove like everyone else in Ukraine only he was doing it in a huge 40 passenger German Engineered bus. Oh well... at least we were bigger than everything else on the road! Oh and it was snowing to beat the band when we left Kharkov so traffic was awful! After a few hours we stopped for bathroom breaks at another bus station. I had to pee so I hopped off the bus with our translator who then informed me that you had to pay 1 grivnah for the privaledge of using the toilets and instructed me to grab some toilet paper at the window as well.
Ahhh... and I thought I'd seen it all.
So I walked into the ladies room and was hit first by the stench. Ugh it rivaled the worst portapotty you've ever used. So I covered my nose and went to a stall and AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
WHAT IS THAT!?
The toilet was level with the floor. Phillip didn't get this description so I'll explain in more detail. The toilet seat was completely level with the floor as in to use the toilet you'd have to either stand over it or squat or something... I dunno. I didn't find out how you'd use it because I turned around and ran out completely horrified that everyone else on the bus was using these toilets and that there was no handsoap at the sinks. I'm a bit of a germ freak and I had to practically bathe in hand sanitizer and then I purposefully inhaled the fumes through my nose to get rid of the smell. Wowzers.
6 hours later at the Kiev airport I finally got to pee in a REAL toilet.
About an hour after that, we started smelling something burning. The driver of the bus pulled over and we could see the brake roters glowing on the wet ground. Not cool. They told us that they were trying to repair the bus so after about 30 minutes of sitting and them doing something (and Phillip going nuts b/c he's a mechanic and was convinced that he knew what was wrong) we pulled out and despite still smelling the burning brakes, drove on.
We left Kharkov at 4pm and arrived at the Kiev aiport at 12:30am. Our flight left at 5:30am so we had to sit and kill 5 hours. We went through security at Kiev which wasn't bad and got on plane to Frankfurt.
Awful ear pain again for me when landing despite taking benedryl and zyrtec! Wel landed around 7am.
Customs in Frankfurt is the most thorough security anywhere. Thankfully we weren't one of the people who got special processing or pulled aside to be searched so we were happy!
We had a 6 hour layover in Frankfurt which was loooooooong but we dozed off a few times and had a snack at the snack bar and waited...
Our flight was supposed to board at 12:15pm but that was delayed because the cabin crew wasn't ready for passengers so we waited till about 1pm to board. Then, the captain made an annoucement that we had been waiting for passengers who never showed up so they had to remove their baggage.
Then he annouced that we had to wait for clearance for takeoff.
Around 2pm we finally took off. Yay! U.S. bound!
The flight was long, the food was good, we napped a tiny bit and one really cool thing on this plane was that we had our own personal touch screen tv to watch movies on, or listen to music. That really helped to pass the time!
After 9 hour flight at 38000 feet, once again, awful ear pain when landing then partial deafness for several hours lol
We picked up our luggage and went through U.S. customs in like 3 minutes. Sweet.
My Dad and step mom were waiting for us when we walked out of our gate. Our connecting flight to Charlottesville didn't leave till 10pm so my dad said he'd pick us up at Dulles which is only a 2 hour drive to where we live. We landed nearly an hour late around 5pm. Dad drove us home after stopping to get me a bottle of water and a bottle of tea which I drank in 10 minutes. I was SUPER thirsty!
We were home at 7pm and showered (for the first time since Thursday night Ukrainian time) and in the bed asleep by 9pm, an hour before our flight would have even left lol
We woke up wide awake at 5am and couldn't go back to sleep so got up and went to IHOP for breakfast (first American meal in a month) then went to Phillip's parent's to pick our kiddos up. Wes was standing at the door waiting for us and I picked him up to hug him and he just clung to me. Wes NEVER does that so I know he missed us! Wyatt was still sleeping so I went to his bed and rubbed his head till he woke up. He jumped up and hugged me and wouldn't let me go for about an hour. After he woke up good, he melted all up against me and hugged me with his little arms and said, "I like you!" We stayed for a little while and let the boys eat the candy we brought them and gave them each a set of Bricks (knock off legos) then the boys said they wanted to go home! NiNi and PaPa were heading to church anyways so we loaded up the boys (who jumped into their carseats voluntarily) and drove home. As we were going down the road Wes said, "I really missed you, mom." I missed you too buddy!
It is SO good to be home. Our shower is amazing and will never ever fuss that it is only a stall and not a full size. Our toilets are marvelous. Our sinks are splendid. My kitchen is WONDERFUL and I am in love with my microwave and garbage disposal all over again. My washer and dryer make me feel like I am a queen and I am blessed that I am able to wash a supersize load and then *angels singing here* put my clothes into a dryer to have them emerge soft, fragrant, and warm. I have a vaccuum cleaner that I LOVE LOVE LOVE to use and we are so blessed that we can drink our tap water without a second thought.
We take so much for granted here in the U.S. but we are SO incredibly blessed. Compared to most of the rest of the world we live in spendor. I certainly feel like I'm living in splendor now!
So, I need to call GE Money Bank and tell them how upset I am that even though I called them BEFORE we left for Ukraine and told them that I would be using the card in Europe and DID NOT want it put on hold; they put it on hold and declined our travel agency's charge for plane tickets.
The last seat on the plane, Katya and Phillip's return flight home and they declined the charge then called our HOME phone to ask about it 5 minutes after we walked in the door last night. Ya know the home we had to fly from EUROPE to get to return to? yeah... Fortunately our travel agent used the company credit card to pay for our tickets so now we have to wire him the money but Phillip got the seat on the plane. Ya know the LAST one! Golden Rule Travel Agency rocks. Who else would do that for you?
Seriously though I am outraged at the CC company. Old Navy Credit card through GE Money Bank. BAD BAD BAD. You are on my naughty list and I will close the account after complaining because I stressed over and over how important it was that the account NOT be put on hold. Now not only do I have the charge for a super expensive holiday flight, we have to pay to wire the money. URGH!
But now to end the world's longest blog post on a positive note...
Phillip goes back to work tomorrow. Wes goes to preschool and I will be taking him. That just thrills me. I get to take my kid to preschool again. Yay! I get to feed my kids breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack and clean up after them. Yes I GET TO and I'm beyond thankful for it. I get to put them down for naps and bedtime and give them their baths and wash their clothes. Ahhh the joys of being a mommy! I love it and I missed it and I'll never take it for granted again!
We'll have the whole week together and then Phillip will fly out of Charlottesville again on Sunday morning. He has a super long flight plan with a lot of long layovers and then he'll get off the plane to get on an overnight train to Kharkov to start the paperwork for Katya's passport, tax ID number, birth certificate, and some other stuff. His estimated return date is Dec. 29th-30th. We'll spend Christmas apart but I will be here with the boys and he'll be with Katya. God willing we'll be all together to ring in the New Year as a family of 5
... after I pick him up from Dulles because once again the layover to fly to Charlottesville is like 6 hours. A stressed out 4 year old who just flew across the Atlantic waiting 6 hours in an airport - Hah.
We are SO blessed! Thanks everyone for your prayers and keep 'em coming!