Friday, September 23, 2011

Visting Day #2

Thursday, September 22, 2011
Visiting Day #2

The alarm clock went off at 7:45. We turned that one off. Luckily we had set a second one; that one went off at 8:15. Still we refused to move. Yesterday was so exhausting – it’s hard to believe we did all of that in one day. But, our new driver, Alexei, was picking us up at 9am so we had to get a move on.

We met Alexei downstairs and rode to the City Department of Children’s Services. Since Sterling was born here in the city proper and since he lived in the baby orphanage until March, we had to get some paperwork to take back to the Department of Children’s Services in the city of the institution. The only problem is Alexei speaks NO ENGLISH! Another driver we can’t communicate with. Luckily, Tatyana had given us a note with directions, so off we went.

When we got their Brian called Tatyana (oh how we love her) to help us get what we needed. He and Alexei were back in no time with the needed documents to take to the other DCS. In this pile of papers was Sterling’s original birth certificate along with some other paperwork. So, off we headed for the institution.

As a conscious driver and an insane member of the safety society I tried to buckle up. However, Alexei’s car has seatbelts, but nothing to latch them into. So, that is something I will have to get over.

We were supposed to stop by the DCS BEFORE going to the institution but somehow this got messed up so we went to the institution first. We didn’t think it was a big deal. We were wrong. More on that later. We finally arrived at the orpahange (alive - thank God!)

We walked ourselves inside and made it to the director’s office. We knocked and were answered with, “Da!” so we went in (Da means yes in Russian). We interrupted a small meeting but were greeted with a smile and they meeting adjourned. The director told us to sit and wait while she went and got “Sasha.” Of course, we have no idea if that is what she SAID but that’s what we took it for. J So we sat and she came back with our little man,  his hanky, and his spit rag (the boy drools like no other when he is excited.) We asked if we could take him outside (it has been BEAUTIFUL here – blue skies and temps in the mid 70s) and were told yes. J So off we went with Sterling.

Brian and I had agreed beforehand that, because we had paperwork to do and because we didn’t want to overwhelm him too much in the beginning , we would only stay for an hour today. (That didn’t work we stayed for 90 minutes…)

We started with a snack – Gerber Graduated banana puffs cereal. That was a hit. We really regulated how much we gave him because we don’t want it to upset his stomach. So he only got about an eighth of a cup (one at a time). He tries to grab the whole baggie out of your hand so we have to put something in one of his hands and let him eat with the other to occupy his idle hand. He’s a lot of work. J We also took some advanced toddler formula (for ages 36 months and up) that is vanilla flavored. We took a kiddie cup (you know the ones with the no leak thingie inside of the lid) but he doesn’t know how to suck to get it out. I took the no leak guard out but then he makes a mess and drools all over himself letting the formula run out of his mouth because he doesn’t know how to orally move the liquid to the back of his throat. We know he LOVED it though because every time he would try to drink he would smile SO BIG! I eventually had the bright idea to move the drink into another kiddie cup I brought that has a straw – thinking he could probably use a straw. Wrong again. He couldn’t get the milk up the straw. We will have to figure out how to get him to drink. We don’t want to give him an open cup because they tend to wear the same clothes several days in a row and we don’t want him to spill for fear of getting in trouble with the staff. We are doing well with them and they like us and we really want it to stay that way. So, we gave up on the formula for today. His main issue with the cup is his tongue protrusion. So, if anyone has ideas on helping figure that mess out that would be great!

While he was eating, I broke out the measuring tape and did my best to get some sort of idea of his size. The numbers are in and…he is TINY!!! From ankle to waist is 18 inches, his shoes were 6.5 inches, his waist was 22 inches and he is about 35 inches tall. We guess he weighs no more than between 25-30 pounds. But we don’t know for sure (Brian is using the dog food bag and Aurora Comeaux for comparison.) That puts him in the bigger end of 2T clothing. The boy is 5. Just for giggles go find a measuring tape and LOOK at those sizes in person. He is just a peanut of a little guy. We don’t have many 2T clothes at home and we won’t need them for long because he will put on weight when we get home and he is probably going to get taller as well. Luckily we do have some 3Ts, but not tons. We bought clothing on a bell curve (yes, we know we are nerds) and used 3T as the left end – bought mostly 4s – and bought a few 5s (just in case.) Well, all were wrong. So, he will need some more 3T things but not many and he wears a size 8-9 shoe.  For those of you who asked how little – there you go.

After our snack we walked around the playground. Sterling walks, but is not so sure on his feet. He still likes to hold your hand when he walks for balance and he doesn’t run (which I’m actually glad about for now.) Of course, after working so hard to keep him clean where does he go first??? The sandbox. No joke.

Of course! That was no good so I went and picked him up out of it and wiped him off as best I could and we moved on to somewhere else. We sat and played in the grass but that is going to take some work too. Why? Because he rips the grass out of the ground and eats it. LOL. I tell you – he is a young toddler. Throughout the day he also put rocks, dirt, sand and every cord, string, tag we had with us in his mouth. I did retrieve a rock and lots of grass from his mouth – and yes I did get bit (the boy has jaw muscles let me tell you!)

We finally got him to “play” with a toy today. IF YOU ARE A REECE’S RAINBOW FAMILY AND YOU HAVE A TRIP COMING UP (OR ARE JUST HOME) – I HIGHLY ADVISE YOU TO BRING A BUMBLE BALL OR BUMBLE BALL JUNIOR!!!! He LOVES it! Basically you pull the string and the ball vibrates. That’s it. When it stopped vibrating he would look at us (briefly) and shake the ball and his hand back and forth so that we would do it again. He started to this up but my bumble is OLD and it doesn’t always bumble – sometimes it needs a helping jolt and that was hard for him.

We played with the Bumble Ball for a while and then we tried a real ball. That just went in his mouth. You can tell he likes to play – he just doesn’t know how to. L We handed him a book which he looked at briefly (the cover only) before throwing it down. He also doesn’t understand how to play with cars and trucks. It is easy to tell he has never had the opportunity to play with toys at all. That, my friends, is heartbreaking.

We hit the jackpot on playing when he discovered a hole in the bench where he could drop the bumble ball. He watched us take it out a few times and then he took it out himself. I tell you, he is very inquisitive, we just have some major uphill battles to fight. It amazes me that he still tries to figure things out. We are lucky that hasn’t been squelched yet.

He LOVES to be held and to be cuddly. This is HUGE! A lot of the kids from orphanages and institutions do NOT like to be touched. Many have formed their own soothing rituals (rocking, moaning, thumb sucking) and Sterling doesn’t do any of these. He will walk over to us and crawl up on our laps. We are VERY grateful for this. We could tell he was getting tired and overwhelmed when he just wanted to sit in my lap. He put his forehead on my chest and just sat there. So, we called it a day. We walked him back in. The director invited us to lunch (we declined) and we left.

Here’s where the fun begins. We had to take that form (remember from this morning!) to the local DCS. However, when we got there they gave Brian ANOTHER form that the institution HAD TO FILL OUT TODAY. So, we went back thinking it would be a quick thing. Wrong! We took it into the director’s office, she had already gotten the phone call, and handed the packet of papers to her. She again told us to sit, which we did and she called in the doctor. They went through the paperwork, told us it would be a while and we sat. I guess the director wanted us out of her office because she offered lunch again…we again declined (I cannot tell you how horribly I felt last night after eating that food – my stomach ached all night long.) We asked to go outside and walk and she told us no it was time to eat.  We are good little rule followers and we went back to our dining room and there waiting for us was this:

Brian nearly lost the contents of his stomach. So, we sat and tried to devise a way to make it look like we ate without eating. We resorted to the old trick of pushing everything to the edges of the plate and burying the meat. But neither of us touched the soup. ICK! So gross! I at least stirred the white stuff into mine but Brian didn’t even do that. We did eat the peas that were grown in the institute garden; they were good – but were served cold. Odd. And we ate a little of the pork (I’m assuming that pig was raised at the institute also – see yesterday’s blog.) But then we played the hide everything and shove it to the edges of the plate game. I drank some of the fresh hot apple cider but Brian wouldn’t touch it. Then we excused ourselves (we ate alone BTW) and went out to the playground. Brian wants to keep baggies in our backpack from now on so we can put food in there if we need to. This made me laugh out loud.

We waited about 30 minutes on the playground. We were constantly accosted by the older boys at the institution (say between 14-17) who want to talk to Americans (always their first question) but we don’t speak any Russian so we end up just staring at each other until they either go away or get chased off by a nanny. LOL. There are two boys we tolerate (I shared Sterling’s banana puffs with one) but they are too old for us to bring home (and I’m sure that they have all sorts of behaviors I don’t want around my 5 year old.)

Once the paperwork was done, back we went to DCS and then we headed home. Let’s talk about CRAZY driving. I will NEVER complain about drivers in the states again. I promise. The 3 drivers we have had all pass EVERYBODY on the road. They all speed (the little old man who is driving us now got up to 90 today and remember there are NO SEATBELTS!) They all wait until the peak of a hill to pass (so you can’t see what’s coming up) and they all nearly hit pedestrians with their cars (standard driving here).  Brian and I spend a lot of time praying in the car. J We might fire Alexei so we can get some seatbelts up in here. It’s horrifying.

We got home, unpacked some of our bags and walked to McDonald’s. Those people are going to get to know us. They don’t like our big bills (it costs us about 50-70 grivnas to eat at McDonald’s and we normally don’t have smaller bills to give them. I’m SURE they think we are “rich Americans”. Mind you a 200 grivna bill is only $25 but every time Brian produces one he gets a sigh and they have to call the manager to open another register. LOL.  We managed to hang out at Mickey D’s for an hour and half updating Facebook and I posted the blog for yesterday. Remember, I will always post a day behind. This gives me time to pre-write the blog in word so that I only have to take out the laptop to post it.

After McDonald’s we went shopping. This was our second successful shopping trip! The policemen that walk around the TINY grocery store didn’t like us and followed us while we shopped and paid. They would tag team so we wouldn’t catch on…really? Anyway, we weren’t doing anything wrong so we just ignored them. When we were done we paid. We bought all of this food for $20.

Now we are back in the apartment. I am writing this blog, Brian is playing Angry Birds and we are going to put in a movie for the night.

All in all, a good second visiting day. We will visit Sterling again tomorrow so keep checking in!


  1. OH I AM LAUGHING OUT LOUD!! We lived with a Ukrainian woman for 6 weeks and she delighted in giving us soup for lunch EVERY SINGLE DAY. I cried each day as we walked home from the institute knowing I was going to have to eat another bowl of soup. Oh I am laughing. NO ONE has understood our repulsion to that soup until you guys. Oh My Goodness. Rob is reading your blog posts because we care so much about where you guys are!! I know when he reads your soup story he is going to bust up laughing!! We too did the - move stuff around on the plate each time she left the room to try to convince her we ate tricks. It is HARD to hide soup. Eventually I took over the spooning of the soup into the bowls so that at least we didn't have to gag down a full bowl.

    I do have to say - after a few weeks - we did get so we weren't gagging the stuff down and it did eventually get to the point where I was not sick on my stomach the rest of the day. But it took weeks. Please e-mail me - or FB - Julia Arnold Nalle

  2. I'm following you on the liners FB group and love your story! I teach early childhood special ed and specialize in 3 year olds new to school. For the straw, just keep presenting it. Sounds like he's motivated to get what's inside. Eventually he'll get some up the straw (probably on accident) and it'll click for him. Good luck!

  3. I think baggies are a great idea! lol

  4. I just found you through face book and look forward to following your journey. :)

    Tip*If he is allowed - lollipops and Popsicles are a great "tool" to teach a child to swallow their saliva ;)