Friday, June 29, 2012

A year ago… (yesterday)

June 28, 2011 was the first day I met Anya.  I remember the day vividly.  Adoption was far from my mind, I was JUST hosting.  Our intentions were only to give Anya the best summer of her life!  Yesterday,  June 28, 2012, was arrival day for many children from Ukraine that are coming for summer hosting.  I can't help looking at all the airport photos posted on the New Horizons for Children Facebook page and reminiscing about my airport arrival day and the excitement and nervous anticipation I felt.  These are my airport pictures from last year.  I remember we waited nearly 2 hours outside of the international terminal… Tony and Bella were at their absolute naughtiest…. I remember a girl tapping me on the shoulder and saying, "Do you know your little girl has eaten 11 pieces of gum?".   I'm sure my response wouldn't win me any mom awards, but it was the only thing that kept her occupied and happy, and I was okay with that for the moment.  

I love this picture!  I just wish it showed more of Anya's face!  

(PS I was pregnant with Leo last summer)

Our first day, we went to Navy Pier…. Anya was a little shell shocked still
 I never dreamed on that day, that a year later she would be home for good, and part of our family.  Okay, maybe I did dream just a little…. But I certainly never thought it would be a reality.

New Horizons had a project last summer, to make a cardboard promise sign…. and they made it into a slide show….  You should watch it (click this link)!  It will make you feel something - I promise.

This was Anya's poster!  This was (and still is) my screensaver on my computer for the past year!  
We overcame many obstacles to make this happen, it was a long year waiting and we had many obstacles along the way (making the joint decision to adopt, money, time, paperwork, deadlines etc) but we overcame them all!

June 15, 2012 Anya became a US Citizen when we landed in Chicago and was reunited with her new family!

She has been home 2 weeks today!  I am happy to report that everything is GREAT! We are all adjusting well.  Anya is learning English… we practice every evening for a little bit after the little kids go to bed.  Anya seems to really love her little siblings, and they love her too.   This morning I found Bella sleeping in bed with Anya!  She started out in Tony's bed, but during the night found her way to Anya's room.   Our biggest obstacle has been Anya's shyness around extended family and friends…. but I feel very confident that will improve with time.  She does still keep in contact with her boyfriend Sasha in Ukraine (via Facebook, texting and Skype), and they are still very much missing each other.  I think that makes her sad at times, but she tells me she is very happy to be here, and she even sent me a text one night telling me "goodnight, I love you, you are much better than I ever imagined!"   Those who are following this may think Anya is lucky to have us as her family, but we feel like we are the lucky ones!  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Little Update

Keeping this one short and sweet.

It's been a long Journey.... and things are wrapping up here in Ukraine.  We fly home tomorrow!  WOW! I've been waiting for this day for nearly a year.
Today we go to get Anya's medical examination and then go back to the US Embassy for the interview where we will hopefully get her visa so that tomorrow we can get on the plane.

I can't wait to be all together as a family.  

A Facebook Posting with Recent updates

Tuesday I updated via Facebook because we were on the train:
For those of you wanting to know what's going on (since I haven't blogged for 2 days), i thought I'd give a short update on Facebook. I left off with our visit to see her sister Inna. The next day, (Monday), was a low key day of sight seeing. We visited Kherson's local amusement park, which is old and nearly isolated. The kids (Anya, Sasha and Kolya) bored quickly and wanted to go ice skating, I think because they were so hot and wanted to cool off. We got word that our train tickets were purchased and we would be leaving the next day. Hopefully with the passport we've been waiting for. But it did not arrive :(. They will send it to Kiev once it arrives. Meanwhile we will go to the US Embassy to start the process to get her visa to travel to the US, (she is not a US citizen until she arrives in the US). Knowing today was our last day in Kherson, it was an emotional day for Anya. I tried to distract her with some retail therapy at the market. Then we had to meet our facilitator for a signature she needed from me at the passport office, (and lunch of course!). Before dinner I gave Anya and Sasha money to go buy a coke and take a walk. When I met back up with Nathan and Christina for dinner, I sent Anya a text to see if they wanted to join us to eat. Of course she said no, that they were walking and taking pictures. Sasha got permission to stay out with us until we left on the train. It seemed like a drawn out good bye all day long, but at the train station it got really sad. I caught them both crying, and trying to hide their tears from me. I told Sasha I knew exactly how he felt, it was nearly 1 year ago exactly that I said good bye to Anya, not knowing if I would ever see her again. And then in a moment of weakness as my heart ached for Sasha's sadness, I promised him that he would see her again someday. He thanked me for that, and I think that put them both at ease and made the goodbye process a little bit easier. So in 1 year I will have to make good on my promise.

Tomorrow is another potentially emotional day. Her older brother and aunt are traveling to Kiev to say their good byes as well. So they say.

I can't wait to be home! I miss the rest of my family! Hopefully Friday!

Applied for Visa today at US Embassy. Probably the hardest thing I've done so far, because I had to go alone and the documents I filled out were a bit overwhelming. Thankful for my US citizenship today. It got me bumped to the front of the line in a roomful of people applying for visa's. If the passport arrives today we will be able to fly home Friday!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A day of goodbyes....

Today we went to visit Anya's half sister Inna.  (same mother, different fathers).  Inna lives with her father and grandmother 55km from Kherson.  I hired a driver for the day to take us (Anya, Sasha and I) there, wait for us to visit and then bring us back.  We stopped at a market on the way there and purchased a stuffed teddy bear, a photo album for photos Anya wanted to give her, and a ball.


Before we went, Anya had mixed feelings about going, was unsure we would be welcome.... there is no phone to call and ask, but she knows the address, this is the home she lived in for 6 years.  Age 1-7.  So I persuaded her to go, even if it was a waste of time and money.  I wanted to see where she lived if nothing else.

When we arrived her sister came running out of the house, yelling "anna, anna"!  She was clearly happy to see her.  It was a sweet reunion.  They hugged and then entered the house, where grandma was wiping a tear away at the sight of Anya.  She hugged and kissed her.  We all entered the living room, where I was offered tea.  Anya told them about going to America and they were surprised to hear, but happy for her.  I won't go into details about the house, but lets just say the living conditions at the orphanage were optimal in comparison.  We went outside and played ball for a while, grandma sat under a tree in the shade and watched.  It was SO HOT!!! We asked the driver to take us to get ice-cream.  On the way there, Anya was showing Inna photo's and games on her phone, they were giggling like no two sisters should be deprived of.  I'm so glad we came!  We almost didn't.

I was happy to see where she lived and learn more about those 6 years of her life, but that leaves a lot more questions and especially as to what happened and where she lived from age 7-13 when she entered Kherson orphanage. I am looking forward to the time when we speak the same language and I can ask her these questions without having to use google translate.
Grandma is on the right, and her friend is on the left.  They both clearly cared very deeply for Anya. 

Anya (15) and Inna (11)

After we visited Inna, we returned to Kherson and had to rush around to get the supplies for her party, which was to be at 4pm.  Anya had asked me to bring candy from America for the party, so I had a large bag with a variety of candy (no chocolate due to the heat) to give out.  We stopped at the apartment to get the bag of candy and the bag of flip flops I had purchased for the boys in her group.  Then it was off to the grocery store to get the rest of the stuff.  We bought pop, apples, 2 cakes and plates, cups, straws, napkins and forks.  Then we met up with Nathan and Christina to share a cab to the orphanage.  Christina offered to be the paparazzi.
Anya expects Sasha to carry all of her things for her, bags, purse, sunglasses.....   The only exception to that rule, is if there are too many bags for Sasha to carry, she will carry them before she allows me to carry a bag. 

The party was okay, nothing too exciting!  Anya was less than thrilled to be there.  Before it even started she told me she wanted to leave.  Midway through the party, she asked again if she could go.  Her friends were enjoying the food, it was pretty quiet for a celebration though.  A few of the kids stood up and said a few words to Anya, I video'd a couple speeches.  (Josie if your reading this, Vitaly gave a speech, you will have to interpret for me.)  I tried to get Anya to say a few words but she would not.  She didn't even sit and eat cake!  I didn't look at it as being a bratty teen, I think she was just over the whole thing and ready to get out of there for good.  Plus I don't think she is close with any of those kids, it was more of a formally/expectation to give the party for her group.  Sasha was not allowed to stay for it.  Group only.
Setting up for the party

Anya is so thrilled, can you tell?

One of her friends giving a farewell toast

After the party we had about an hour to kill time before we would head to dinner with Nathan and Christina, who were also at the orphanage visiting Kolya.  Rather than head back right away, I figured we would wait for them.  Anya was not interested in waiting, so we took a cab back to the apartment and I took a nap while Anya and Sasha watched TV.

Sasha trying to entertain us while we waited to leave.  

Anya ready to GO!

Then for dinner we invited Sasha's sister to join us.  She lives here in Kherson.  Works at a bank.  She is 22 years old.  A very beautiful young girl.  Before long, Sasha was past his curfew of 7pm.  So the smart thinker he is, he had his sister call the school and tell them he was with her.  They said okay, but come back soon.  So we called a cab and he took off.
Natasha (Sasha's sister) with me and Anya

It was a busy day, but a good day!  Now Anya and I are relaxing in the apartment, trying to decide between having the windows shut with zero ventilation (no A/C) or the windows open with a breeze and mosquitoes coming in and biting us!  Tough call.  We go back and forth!

On the agenda for tomorrow:  Maybe meet with our facilitator..... still have yet to see her.  I would like to go to the school and get Anya's school records and other documents in her file in regards to her background.  And hopefully get an update on the passport status.

PS as I quickly scan this before publishing, I realize I blogged like I type into google translate.  Short choppy and to the point sentences.  I guess I've just gotten used to talking and typing that way!

PSS to the anonymous commenter on my last post.  No worries.... I will not tire of my daughter and change my mind.  She is as much my child to me as my 3 kids at home waiting for my return, and NOTHING will change that!  

Friday, June 8, 2012

Officially Our Child and In my Possession!

Today I signed Anya out of the orphanage.  I thought I may have some trouble with the director once again.  I can not take her out until he signs yet another form.  She is legally my child, but he still has to sign her out to me.  I told our facilitator that Anya really wanted to leave with me today and she said no problem.  However at 1pm we still had not gotten the call that we could meet with the director.  Our facilitator said he wasn't answering his phone.  I was going to be really mad if he put us off until Monday.  Anya had been texting me all morning asking when I was coming.  My final text from her translated like this:  I had to laugh it was so funny, as I'm sure it is not what she said, but the way google translated it....

Shortly after this text we got the call from Tonya (our every so helpful facilitator) that the director said he would meet with us in a half an hour.  So I was to take a taxi to the orphanage.  I did not ask, but assumed that she would be meeting me there.  When I arrived I called her to ask where she was.  She said she was home sick still.  Don't I know the flu takes 3 days to recover from?   She told Anya to take me to his office.  So we went, and when we were finally welcomed into the office, the director was there, he started speaking to me in Russian as if I fully understood him, even though he knows very well that I do not speak Russian.  So I said in my best Russian, "Nyet Padruski" meaning no russian.  The director shrugged his shoulders and said, "No English", I shrugged my shoulders as well.  So then the director started talking to Anya as if she would interpret, lol!  yeah she doesn't speak English either!  Finally some documents were put in front of me by the lawyer and I was handed a pen and told to sign my name, then Todd's name on several different documents (all in Russian).  I had no idea what they said, and hoped it was the assumed documents to sign her out.  Then I handed the director a card with my "donation" and then the director pushed a blank piece of paper and pen in front of me and instructed me (in Russian) to write something.  Obviously I didn't understand.  So I phoned my ever so helpful facilitator to interpret.  Apparently I was to write why I was giving the donation and what it was intended for.  So I graciously wrote out "I Lori C******** would like to give $1000 USD to Anya's orphanage so that they may purchase some new needed windows for the school.  This donation is my way of thanking the school for taking such good care of Anya over the past 2 years."
Everyone seemed pleased and the meeting was apparently over.  Before I left, I reached into my purse and gave him a C******** Farms T-Shirt!  I Told him what it said, and he seemed surprised it was for him!  I assured him it was, and he thanked me and smiled.  I think he was genuinely surprised and pleased.  He asked Anya to be sure and say good bye before leaving Kherson City for good.  At that we left to go get her belongings.

All of her possessions she chose to keep were packed and ready to go.  Most of her the things I had bought her over the past year she gave to her friends.  Sasha was the only one with us at the time, so it was a very anti-climatic exit.  Although we will return for a party on Sunday, where I'm sure it may be a little sad for Anya.
Sasha got permission to leave with us, and we decided to go do something fun.  These kids have to be begged to do anything.  I told them where we were going, they replied "too expensive", I said were going anyway.  (expensive to them is not expensive by the way).  We went to Fabrika which is a mall with arcades and G0-Carts.  We Rode Co-Carts, watched a 4D movie, played some arcade games and then had dinner.   I insisted before they ordered dinner that they order a big meal or I would be mad!  They did as I asked!

Eating the "big" meal I insisted on
Playing on their iPods while waiting for dinner (just like American kids)

Outside of Fabrika fighting over the french fries

Sasha had to be back to the orphanage by 7pm, so we caught a taxi just in time to get him back.  Then Anya wanted to go to the apartment to watch TV and I met up with Nathan and Christina at the John Howard for our habitual meeting/rehashing of the day.

Tomorrow we have no plans, but Sasha will meet us at 10am and spend the day with us.  Maybe we will go to find the town where Anya's step sister lives.  She says it is 55 km away.  Her step sister is 11 years old.  Anya has not seen her since she entered the orphanage.  She has no phone number to call, but knows how to get there, so we will take a chance that 1. they will be there, and 2. her step father will allow her to see her half sister.  Either way, I think its worth a shot.  

Now I'm going to get off the computer and hang out with my daughter!  

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Final Kherson Trip

Well I'm back in Kherson.  In my fab new apartment I might add.  They just don't get any better than this!   Well in Kherson anyway!  This one has just about everything a girl could want in Kherson.  Hot water, towels and bedding that looks clean, and wifi.  However I just noticed there is no bedspread on the bed, so hopefully it doesn't get too cold in here tonight.

Let me back track a bit....  4 days ago I left Michigan headed for Ukraine.  This trip I'm taking solo, no Todd and no Leo to slow me down keep me company.  It's my final trip and Anya will be coming home with me in 7-14 days.  7 is looking impossible, 14 is probably worse case scenario, so I am hoping for 10 days, which would get me home before next weekend.

The day I arrived in Kiev nothing too exciting happened.  I got picked up from the airport around 3pm, settled into my apartment (the same one we had the first time we came to Kiev).  I met Jake and Vova (who were on the last leg of their adoption journey) for dinner and was so tired from the traveling that I was sound asleep by 10pm, only to wake up at 1am WIDE AWAKE!  I did not sleep the rest of the night.  UHG!!  I considered taking some sleeping pills, but since I had to be up and ready to go at 8am, I decided I better not.  I just kept thinking I would fall back asleep anytime soon.

7:30am I was picked up by my driver, taken to the train station where I was too meet my facilitator for the day.  My documents from the court house had been sent from Kherson on the overnight train, so we picked those up too.  Then we were off to the town Anya was born in, Vinnytsia, which is 300km west of Kiev.  Which is about 190 miles and should take approx 3 hours to get there.  We got there in 2 hour and 15 minutes.  It was the scariest ride of my life.  It was misty rain, so the roads were not super wet, but wet enough to be slick.  A good portion of the way was 2 lane roads which in America we would travel about 50mph on.  My driver was pushing 90, and passing cars 3 at a time.  I wasn't sure if I should watch or try to sleep.  If your going to be hit by a bus, do you really want to see it coming?  So I did a little of both, and a whole lot of praying for safety.

We didn't see much of the town, we went to the marriage license office and applied for Anya's new birth certificate.  They said to come back in 1 hour, so we went for lunch.  I'm certain we went to the nicest restaurant in the city.

Adoption facilitators have a reputation for always wanting to stop and eat in the middle of doing adoption business.  We are told by our American facilitators that this is common and it would be nice if we and we are expected to pay for their meals occasionally.  So it's really not a huge surprise, we just didn't expect it to happen quite so often.  You don't even really get to feel like your doing something nice by offering to pay, because the bill is just pushed your way like its your job to pay.   Anyway, the food is cheap enough ($37 for 3 lunches at the fancy restaurant) that it's certainly not making an issue of it, but definitely noteworthy of mentioning.

Here is the view from the window at our table.
After lunch we went back to the office and picked up our documents.  The birth certificate was ready to go.  I was asked to check it for errors before signing.  However it was in Russian.... a bit of a problem.  So I said, assuming it says what you tell me it says, I guess it's correct.  I can't exactly check for spelling errors when it's written in cyrillic.

Then the long torturous drive back to Kiev, dinner with Jake and Vova one last time at Mafia Pizza... then I had to head to the train station.  They were heading out at 4am to the airport for America!  It was really great spending time with them.  Todd and I started our Adoption Journey with Jake and Judi and we think it made the whole process 100% more fun and enjoyable.  They are great people and we are so glad to have them as friends now!  Vova is a lucky boy as well, and I'm pretty sure he knows it!  I asked him at dinner if he wanted to go to Kherson with me and there was zero hesitation on his NO answer.

9pm I boarded the train.  I had a 4 bunk compartment all to myself.  When the train is stopped the A/C shuts off too.  Even though I was there 20 minutes early, I stayed in my cabin with the door shut.  I didn't ant anyone to know I was alone.  Creepy people take the train you know.  I had someone knock on my cabin door 2 times during the night, but I didn't open it!  I passed the 12 hours by sleeping, reading a book  on my iPhone, surfing Facebook, and texting to Todd.  Yes international data roaming charges were worth every penny on this trip.  (And for the record, as long as you pre-order the service, it's not that expensive.  $30 for 125mb which lasts me about 5-7 days of as much internet as I want.)

Right before the train arrived in Kherson I get a phone call from my Kherson facilitator (who I am pretty sure doesn't like me cause I was so pushy on my first trip.) called to tell me she was ill and sending a sup to help me today.  That was a relief for me as well, I'd had Oksana fill in for her on our second trip to (see a pattern here?) and Oksana is so sweet and helpful.  We went to the notary to sign some documents, and then to the orphanage to pick up Anya to take her to get her passport photo.  Then to the passport office where we waited for about an hour before it was our turn.

Then I was dropped off at my apartment, Anya taken back to the school.  I took a shower and headed to our familiar hot spot at the John Howard to meat Nathan and Christina Rhoar (from Ohio) for coffee.  They are here adopting their host son Kolya.  Christina and I have been FB friends for quite a while, so it was really nice to finally get to meet her in person.  She and Nathan are going to be great company for me during my stay here in Kherson, and we may even be on the same timeline for returning to Kiev and then the states.

We then caught a cab to the orphanage for a short visit with the kids, then back to John Howard for dinner.

Now I am officially up to speed on the blog.  Wifi is working great so I plan to keep the updates coming daily so they aren't quite so long.

Plan for tomorrow:  Pick up Anya for good from the orphanage.  She will stay with me here at my apartment while we wait for the passport  to be processed, which take 3-5 days, we're hoping for 3, which puts us at Monday before we can return to Kiev to finish up paper work at US Embassy.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Our day in Court!

Well first I should apologize for not updating since our last trip.  I just sort of left things hanging for those of you who follow my blog but not Facebook.  It was easy to give quick updates there once back home.  At home my life is sort of crazy…..  we were home nearly a month before returning to Kherson for our day in court, which was May 24, 2012.  I was super excited about this date, because Anya entered the orphanage on May 26, 2010 and my birthday was on May 25, so I thought it would make for a great birthday to have court behind us and have Anya with a new family less than 2 years from entering the orphanage.
Trip #2 had to be super fast since it is considered unheard of in Todd's family farm business to be away from the job for any amount of time during this time of year, let alone 5 days.  If it was bad going in April (it was) it was even worse going in May.  But now that were back home I can say that the farm survived, Todd still has his job, and his family, coworkers and employees are glad to have him back.
We were gone for a total of 106 hours door to door.  54 of those hours were spend traveling to Kherson (26 hours there and 28 hours home), with only 52 hours in Kherson, all for a 30 minute court session.  We weren't even there long enough to let the 7 hour time change affect us.  We returned home and so far are having no problems adjusting.
We arrived in Kiev around 3:30 on Wednesday the 23rd and then had a taxi take us to Kherson (7 hour drive), but our driver was really fast (not necessarily a good thing) and we made it in 6 hours.  This really messed things up for our in region facilitator (whom we are pretty sure she doesn't like us anyway) since she wasn't expecting us until the next morning via train.  She was able to finally find us accommodations, but they were not available until midnight, and thanks to our fast taxi driver, we arrived in Kherson 1 hour too early.  No worries… we met up with our friend Jake J. (who was still there… waiting out his 10 days since his court date on the 17th.) at John Howard, the Cheers of Kherson.  The waiters even know our names I think (at least for sure they know Jakes.  He has been there for a LONG time.)

The apartment was lovely…. I wanted to cry I hated it so much, but according to our facilitator, that was all she had, she said we could move the next day, but when I asked to move the next day, she got really annoyed with me on the phone, so I said forget it.  (We need this woman to not hate us, as she has the power to make things much easier and/or much more difficult for us.)

On the 24th we woke up and got ready for court, not having had anything to eat since lunch the previous day, we really hoped we'd have time for breakfast before heading to court.  We ended up at the John Howard again.  There is where we first saw Anya again, all dressed for court.  Our facilitator, one of Anya's teachers (orphanage representative) and a woman from child services all arrived with Anya.  From there we all walked to the courthouse.    

Having breakfast before court.

Todd taking his turn holding Leo while we wait.

First meeting with Anya before court.

On my last trip there, I took Anya shopping, and she picked this shirt out which surprised me.  It wasn't until this trip that I figured out why she wanted it. 

After court photo, everyone in the courtroom except the judge.

After court photo, I guess you could call it our New Parent photo.  For those of you who know Todd, your be amused to know he was disappointed he couldn't wear the same green shirt that he wore when we became parents of all our other 3 children.  (he did bring it though, and wore it the next day!)

Jake, aka babysitter!  He is a lawyer, yet he was late for court, and called us on our cell phone (not too pleasing to the judge) to let us know he was there and we could give Leo to him.  It really was no big deal, I just thought it was funny!  
On the 24th we woke up and got ready for court, not having had anything to eat since lunch the previous day, we really hoped we'd have time for breakfast before heading to court.  We ended up at the John Howard again.  There is where we first saw Anya again, all dressed for court.  Our facilitator, one of Anya's teachers (orphanage representative) and a woman from child services all arrived with Anya.  From there we all walked to the courthouse.    

Court was a breeze…. before we went in, Oxsana (our temp translator for the day, because our facilitator Tonya was unavailable) told us that this was the judges first adoption case, so she had no idea what to expect.  It could be really fast and easy, or long and difficult.  Also we were told that the lawyer to the orphanage was supposed to be there too, but he was sick, and therefore one of Anya's teachers had been granted temporary authority to represent the orphanage and stand in his place.  The director could have easily made us reschedule (meaning our trip would have been for nothing) so the fact that he allowed a teacher to stand in for him, tells us he really does care about the kids, and I have decided to drop my grudge against him for all the delays he caused us in trip 1.  Of course we now know that in Ukraine they do not take well to American's being pushy or demanding (no matter how nicely they do it.) so all my efforts to make our trips quick and smooth backfired on us.  But it's all water under the bridge now.

Thankfully court was really easy!  Yay, finally something in our favor!  We were asked a few questions about our jobs, kids, house size and sleeping accommodations for Anya, school for Anya, how we would communicate with her, if our kids were in favor of the adoption, who watches the kids when I go to work etc.  Then they asked Anya a few questions… if she wanted us to be her parents, if she realized her father would work long hours in the summer and she would more than likely be expected to help me (her mother) care for the smaller children.  She replied "I have no objections".  She stated she had been there last summer and knew what it would be like and she was okay with it.

Now we have 10 days where anyone in that courtroom can change their mind… no one else has the ability to object.  So we I can return on June 5 to pick up the court papers and start the process of getting her a new passport with her new name on it, and getting her home.

May 25 was graduation at Anya's orphanage….  Jake Jacobson did a great job on his blog telling and showing the graduation, so you can read his blog if you want to see more about graduation.  I was glad we got to see it!  Anya had a small role in it where she recited something…. we have no idea what.  She said a poem.  The entire student body dresses in black and white attire, even the little kids.  And the little kids wear big white bows in their hair, it's quite adorable actually.

After graduation we took the kids to lunch and then did a little shopping.  Eating and shopping are clearly foreign to these kids… they are uncomfortable in both situations it seems.  They ate like birds and trying to find something to buy them was nearly impossible.  We had a mission, 1. to buy a cell phone for Anya's best friend Suzanna, and 2. summer shoes for Anya.  The cell phone wasn't so bad to find… it was trying to talk to the salesman to figure out what kind to get and what plan to get.  Quite complicated really.  Then for the shoes… we looked and looked and nothing we saw she liked.  (did I mention Anya is VERY picky) finally I figured out she wanted rubber flip flops.  Sheesh!

Okay, this is getting long and my fingers are tired and I am tired (and I want to watch the bachelorette.)  So I am signing off for now.   But I will return to Kherson on June 5 to pick up Anya.  I will add photo's soon.