Today, Daddy and I left our home to come for you. We didn't sleep. We cleaned the house and went to pick up our dear friends, Chris and Nicki, who were making our midnight run to the Des Moines airport with us. Great blessings to them for doing this for us so we didn't have to pay for long term airport parking!
0130 on a Sunday morning and we are ready to GO!
It's now 5:05AM, our flight to Chicago isn't until 6AM....
One Daddy on board first flight- check!
One Mommy on board first flight- check check!!
Here is our gate at Chicago O'hare for our next leg of the trip to get to you, Little One. This flight left Chicago for Washington Dulles at 11:14AM CST.
Here we are, waiting for our flight out of Chicago- notice the slow progression of exhaustion beginning to show on our faces and under our eyes. We were still running pretty heavily on adrenaline, I think.
Daddy and I spent that time waiting for our flight sipping on hot coffee, praying, and soaking in the Word. We LOVE when the Lord has something great to tell us, that just fits how we are feeling and what we are craving to hear at the time. And, well, this just fits, don't you think? (Acts 18:10)
Aboard our 2nd leg. Starting to feel a bit more tired, but not at all ready to sleep.
So, just to be honest, neither Daddy or I can remember if this was saying Good-Bye Chicago or Hello Dulles! Hmmmm....any guesses??
Sitting at our gate waiting to board the 3rd leg of our "Get AJ or BUST" tour. Daddy grabbing a much needed bite to eat. Remember when I mentioned my sinuses earlier? I had a throbbing headache and a scratchy throat- you know the kind from post nasal drippiness- ick. Shortly after Daddy ate, I took a nap in Daddy's lap. Photographs of Mommy were forbidden at this point, at least for that moment anyway.
We arrived at Dulles at 1359... 1718 couldn't possibly get here fast enough! Don't you know we have a little boy to get to??
Made it to our seats on our 3rd leg of our tour. We attempted to declare the money we were carrying (yes, it's because we were carrying THAT much) The man at our gate, said while looking over our paperwork, "Oh ok. Here, I can give you better seats." Um....yes.....sure. Thank you?! We got a free upgrade. Not like to First Class or anything crazy, but a little more leg room (because you know, your Mama has a 26" inseam- I need all the leg room I can get!) and better personal flat screen TVs. Not. Gonna. Complain. (Take note, the increase in size of dark circles and eye sag)
We have a 7 hour 11 minute flight ahead of us now. Bring on the free movies and TV shows galore! Not long after take off, my sinuses went into overdrive. My ears were plugged, my head ached, my throat hurt, and I was using every piece of napkin and kleenex I could get my hands on. Mommy's nose was like an annoying drippy faucet that couldn't be fixed. I felt completely miserable. I just wanted off that plane!
We made it. We were finally in Frankfurt, Germany. We had to lug ourselves through security one more time. Daddy passed right through the scanner. Did Mommy? Um, no, not so much. I got the exquisite opportunity to be patted down by a rather large Frau. I don't really remember her face, but I do remember, she was large and in charge and she put her hands in places, I would rather forget. She found my money belt too, which I had to take off and open for her. At least it was behind a security wall. I was then instructed by Frau Large and in Charge to "SIT AND REMOVE SHOES NOW." Yes, ma'am. No problem. Would you like me to shine your shoes while I'm down here? Are you hungry? I could go find you a sandwich, perhaps? She disappeared with my beloved Uggs. When she came back, she was smiling at me, rather pleasantly. Her entire demeanor had seemed to change in that 2 minutes she was gone. "Take shoes now. You go. Danke." Fabulous. Now where was my Beloved? He was waiting for our laptop and Kindle to come through security yet. A man, who looked rather official, said "Follow me." He would not let us have our electronics back. Dang. What now? I saw plenty of people with laptops and the like walking right on through. We were ushered into a little room where two additional official looking gents swabbed and patted and opened and turned on what we had. Only to hand them both back over to us and say, "All done. You go." We go? Darn Skippy! We had booze to buy! Yes, sweet AJ, I said that. We needed to purchase a couple bottles of American whiskey to give to our facilitation team. We were being reimbursed for it, not that it mattered. We would have done it anyway. We were told it was to give the officials who deal with issues and problems in adoption cases, gifts. Yes, "gifts." I have learned in this process that word, "gift" is used rather loosely. But, nonetheless, we did as we were asked. If it meant getting us closer to you, we were, and still are willing to do whatever necessary. So, here we had 2 bottles of whatever looked prettiest in the bottle, Jack Daniels for a grand total of 61,40euros (about 80 USD.) Finally, we could get to our gate and just relax before boarding our last and final leg of our journey to YOU! (And, that, by the way continues to make my heart leap with joy- we were really, truly, and finally on our way. Like for realsies this time.)
This photo does a bang up job on giving visual explanation to how Daddy and I were feeling at the time, Little Man. Not well. Daddy was so tired. I thought I had a doozy of a cold, that came on rather fast.
Ah, here it is. The last one. The final endeavor. Mission accomplished. No more airports or layovers, or security screenings after this. Well, no more until you are in our arms and coming home with us. That day will most definitely give a whole new meaning to the word "sweetness."
Dos Va Danya Frankfurt! (Can I do that? Can I say good riddence, I mean, good bye to the lovely peeps at Frankfurt Airport in Russian?) Answer: I just did.
We arrive in Kiev at 1305 on Monday December 19, 2011. We, at this point, still had not had more than a few minutes of sleep at a time since waking up at home on Saturday morning. Our flight to Kiev was uneventful. I wanted so badly to shove super absorbancy tampons up my nose as it was still leaking quite heavily. I decided against that and just continued to bogart every halfway absorbable piece of disgardable fabric I could get my hands on. When we arrived in Kiev, we were scooted off of the plane and took a wild guess that we were to squeeze ourselves onto the shuttlebus that was waiting outside. Everyone else was doing it...we guessed we should too. Although, I must say, when I looked up at the sardines incased in the shuttle, they were not amused at Daddy and I wanting on as well, or as it appeared. (In all honesty, they were more likely thinking why are those two foreigners just standing there and not getting in here? They gonna help clean the plane?) Ah, so here we go, across the sea of airplanes and workers wearing neon green vests and blaze orange earmuffs, we swayed and bumped our way to the main terminal. We, decidedly taking on the characters of super duper idiot foreigners- began taking out the camera to mark this event in the digital realm. We were promptly greeted by yet another rather official looking person, a man this time. Not large and in charge German Frau- skinny and in charge Ukrainian airport security shouting, "NO! NO!" and pointing toward the door. I, clearly being under the extreme influence of sheer exhaustion spouted, "Just one picture?" I pointed up at the sign above the door that spelled out the airport name. He was not amused. We decided it would be best to not capture this one and head inside. We proceeded through security to show our passports. I went through- no problem. Daddy? Well, it was his turn for fun! The guards switched places after I went through. The lady security guard behind the glass (who, really, could give Brian Urlacher a run for his money) looked at Daddy and said, "ADDRESS?!" Hmm...well, we don't have one yet. Daddy proceeded to try to explain over and over that we did not know what or where that was yet. She kept asking. Finally, in an admission of her defeat- she rolled her eyes at Daddy and freed him from her....scary, I could pound you into the ground with one fist, gaze.
At long last, we were through security once again, bags in tow, looking for our name on a sign. There it was. A thinly built, gray haired, gentleman with glasses and fur collared winter coat was awaiting us. We stopped in front of him. He said, after a long pause, "Hi." Uh...hi? We introduced ourselves and he told us his name was Niko. We liked him already. He had a kind face and seemed eager to help us. We exchanged some money there at the airport and were promptly wisked away to the Mercedes that awaited us. Niko, kindly took us grocery shopping and got our cell phone working. After, we were finally on our way "home."
The front of our apartment building with our address. We are in building number 2.
Looking down the street from the front of our apartment building (turned to the right.) The end of the street marks The Golden Gates of Kiev. Modern history tells us that this was the gateway into the city of Kiev and was built around 1037 AD by Yaroslav the Wise, Grand Prince of Kiev.
This photo shows our street, looking down towards the left from the front of our apartment building. If it were not for the branches in the way, you would be able to see the golden rooftops of St. Sophia Cathedral.
This is at the rear entrance of our apartment building. There was some small parking available (very tight) and a small children's play area.
Here is the entrance into our apartment building. You can't see it well, but there is a push button security lock on the door with a 3 digit code to get in. It is, to say the least, antiquated, and we were seemingly the only residents who chose to close the door and use it.
AH! YES! Our building did not have an elevator, which is completely ok by me. I prefer the stairs, especially since Daddy was hauling the suitcase and backpack. 5 story building, and we were on the top floor. Apartment number 20. All of the apartments here have 2 doors. One outer door, encased in leather- oddly enough, and an inner door. We were strictly instructed to keep both doors locked at all times and to open the door to no one but the facilitation team, who would call us to let us know they were there first.
Just inside our apartment door, looking to the right. Straight ahead is the living room area.
Just inside our apartment door, looking straight ahead. The water closet and bathroom are on the left side with the kitchen being straight ahead.
The Master Suite. And yes, there IS a lion on our bed!!
A view of our living room. Behind the curtains is our balcony. It is enclosed with windows. Two of the windows could open. This is where wet laundry can hang dry via the clothes line stretched across there. On the right side of the photo is our other laundry "dryer." A clothes drying rack situated next to the radiator and an electric fan.
The other side of our living room area.
Entrance into the kitchen and our skinny fridge!
Another view of our kitchen. Small, but just fine for a Mama, a Papa, and one little boy. I'm doing up the supper dishes. My nose and head are starting to clear up. Not sick, I don't think- flight complications?
Here she is. She hates me. I hate her. Our Bosch WOH4210 washing machine. I Googled an operations manual, which was in German. I needed this manual to try and decipher how to use this small beast....because all of the wording and controls were, of course, in German.
It only took me 26 minutes to figure out how to open the lid. When I opened it, I found this. Really? Nice. What in the world is that and how do I get into it? I toiled with that thing for several more minutes and a few choice four letter words may or may not have slipped from my pursed lips. Enter Daddy. He waltzed in and with much dramatic fashion proceeded to save the day by saying, "Oh, just push these in together...."
TADA!!! (Daddy's are the best, aren't they?) I am VERY blessed to be able to call your Daddy my Sweetie. PS. You could almost fit 2 pairs of socks in there to wash at the same time, if one pair of socks belonged to a premie. PSS. We never did get the dang thing to work. PSSS. We, and by we, I mean I, had the task of removing the mildewy, foul smelling, bath towels that were sitting in there for only Lord knows how long. Ick.
Enjoying our first sit down at the table dinner....Ukrainian style. Bread, butter, pickles, sausage, and these completely awesome little potato/mushroom/onion filled dumplings called varenyky. Oh, and no such thing as Diet Coke. We have, Coca-Cola Light. It was all very good. Thank you, Niko, for pointing out these delicious gems.
Here's Daddy, presenting the meal. In all his exhaustion, Daddy always manages to give Mommy a smile and make me laugh.
We finished eating, cleaned up, and started unpacking. It was about 8pm by the time we had showered and were more than ready for bed. We fell into bed and slept until about 11AM on Tuesday morning. (Dec. 20- Day 3) We thought we would be able to stay up for awhile, but most definitely not. We stayed up long enough (about 10 minutes) to send an email to our family and let them know all was right and well. Daddy and I drifted off to sleep once again. We didn't wake again until about 4PM that afternoon. (Boy was that ever a mistake!) When we got up, we checked our email messages and skyped with our dear friend Joani, as she was getting ready for her busy day. While we talked, Daddy and I thought it would be a fine time for a small celebratory toast with this fine Eastern European drink: Baltica 9.
We spent the remainder of Day 3 in our jammies, relaxing and trying to recover from our 23 hour trip to get to you. We had originally hoped to go sightseeing today through the streets of Kiev, but that would have to wait for another time. Another time called, Day 4.
I will write more later my sweetheart. Day 5 is most definitely my favorite thus far in our journey to you. It's 8:22PM where we both are right now. That, will never ever, ever never, cease to get old for me to say. Our hearts swell with joy and anticipation at being so close to you.
To the moon and back,
Mommy and Daddy