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Sunday, December 17, 2006

It's Sunday...I think...

The title references the fact that it is difficult to keep track of what day it is over here. Each morning I have to check the phone because there is nothing else to reference. We aren't in our regular schedule of working Monday to Friday then having the weekends off. We don't have newspapers or English speaking tv stations to keep up on things. While we have only been over here for eight days, I find myself already missing things back home. Of course I miss our the comfort and security of our house and the accessibility of our friends and family. But it is the little things that throw you off the most. How I miss bathrooms where I know innately how to operate the appliances, and where the toilet paper is manufactured from soft paper products. How I miss restaurants and grocery stores at which I can tell what I am getting just by looking at the item or reading the description. I took a bite of a hamburger patty recently that was actually liver...that sure was tasty. And last night I brought home what I had hoped were chicken balls only to find out that they were some kind of breaded, deep-fried vegetable that I am not sure we get back home. How I miss not listening to electronic dance music which is played the cabs, in the hotels and stores, in the resturants and elevators, and of course, in the internet cafes. And finally, how I miss those two icons of Canadian society...those things that we often take for granted but are so important to our daily existence in Canada. My dream now, beyond bringing our daughter back home of course, is to be sitting in a Tim Horton's enjoying a steeped tea with a donut while watching one of those familiar and reassuring faces of the meteorologists on the weather channel.
I slept from 8:30 pm to 6:30 pm. I had to get up because sleeping that long is apparently hard on the back. I decided to come down to the internet cafe to check my email and catch up on the news, and let Candace sleep for a little while longer. The teenage boys are still here playing the online game, although the ones that have been eliminated this round are sleeping at their workstations. I can't imagine this experience without an internet connection. It has enabled us to stay connected with everyone and everything back home.
Another couple mentioned how they ended up in a situtation in which they were sort of accused of shoplifting because the wife had a new pair of jeans that still had some sort of security device attached. Well, yesterday Candace and I had a somewhat similar experience involving a five dollar hair dryer that we picked it up on one floor of a store. There must be a lot of shoplifting over here. Everytime we enter a store I notice that shoppers all seem to get their own personal security guard following them around within ten feet. Everything in the stores is dust free however, because these "undercover" security people pass their time dusting items as they watch us out of the corner of their eyes. We took the hairdryer down to the first floor of the store looking for a cash register. Finally, we asked one of the workers how to pay. He did not understand us initially but then he took us back upstairs to a salesperson. She wrote up papers for our purchase and we then had to take them to a round booth in the corner that I thought was a currency exchange. Then a new lady printed out a form that we had to sign then bring back to the first lady. She checked our form, then took us over to a table. She opened the box, took the hairdryer out then plugged it in, I assume to show us that it worked. She asked if it was okay, we said yes, then she proceeded to do the same with each of the accessories that came with it. So they put a great deal of emphasis into both store security and salesmanship.
We went down to visit at 9:00 am. We went right up to he Alexandra's room to pick her up. Then one of the ladies led us down to a big play area the size of a classroom. I don't think the kids in the orphanage get to visit this spot because she looked pretty amazed once she entered. I think it is a space just for prospective parents to meet with their children. There are mats and giant balls and toys and even a slide. Being teachers, Candace and I spent an hour or so having her work with blocks and books and colouring. Then two other couples (from Spain and France I think) came in with their kids. They focused more on running and bouncing and screaming. I could tell Alexandra was interested so for the last hour we ran and bounced and screamed. About every 10 minutes I had a 30 second rest...boy she has lots of energy. She has an incredible attention span...whether it was building with blocks or connecting legos, she could stay on one activity for a very long least until she has mastered it. We found out the visiting hours are actually 9:30 - 11:30 and 4:00 - 6:00. The kids at this particular orphanage are 0 - 4, so they have lunch and then a nap from 1:00 - 4:00. Alexandra really started interacting with us today and she is starting to talk quite a bit...although still in Russian. She seems to understand what we are saying to her and I think we have made the move from "mama and papa" to "mommy and daddy". As we were leaving, she said her first words in English. I told her to wave and say "bye bye" and she did just that. It was pretty exciting. Then as I carried her back to her room, Candace started the humming and on queue she started her Russian song again.
Candace and I returned to the hotel and had lunch. She had soup, rice, bread and a coke and I ate eggs, ham, and pancakes with tea. The total price was $19.50 hyrvnia or $4.90 USD. We were amazed at how cheap it was until the waitress failed to return with our change. I guess whatever you give them they keep.
Early in the afternoon, we tried another new activity as parents...we spent two hours visiting the local stores to buy Alexandra some clothes. We bought a dress, several shirts, pajamas, a snow suit, and some other odds and ends. We wanted to buy her some jeans and shoes but we forgot to take her measurements so we thought it best to wait. The shopping thing was alot of fun. We even returned the first ski suit when we found a better one at the next store. We want to make sure that we are happy with our purchases because we will not be returning anything. When we visited Alexandra later in the evening we gave her a snack before the fashion show began. It was really cute, she was looking in the mirror the entire time. The final outfit that we left her in during the visit was a blue overall dress with a pink turtleneck and pink tights. She looked really sweet. The funny thing was as we began playing around she kept looking out of the corner of her eye at the wall sized mirror to check herself out. There were several families in the visiting area today...two French, one Spanish, and fortunately one that spoke English...a couple from Minnesota. It was great to see all of the new families together but it was also really loud. We are going to go a bit earlier tomorrow to have some quiet time. Alexandra is really nosy too and she seems to want to keep tabs on everything else that is going on around her. During the course of our visit she said a few new English words. She was able to point at our picture and say "Alexandra", "mommy", and "daddy". I think I yelled to Candace when I heard her say "mommy" the first time. Later she said "Winnie Pooh" which is good considering what her room at home looks like. When we got back to the hotel Candace and I had supper...Candace made sure we got change this time. Its funny...we are played out from spending time with Alexandra today. Its not just the playing and the running that does it...the whole bonding thing is wonderful but it takes alot out you. Remember, we are new parents so everytime she does something it pulls on your heart strings. That being said, the only thing we want to do is go to sleep so we can get up and visit her again. This is the second time in my life that I have experienced love at first sight. Nothing beats it!


Janna said...

i get a little emotional every time i read your blog. words cannot express how excited i am for you! you are so blessed! continue to enjoy your time together and keep safe!
love Janna

Rob, trish, Michael & Christian said...

Are you guys able to send any pics by e-mail yet?

Benita said...

Hey Candace and Stephen, just got a chance to catch up on your blog. Brenda printed the section on Alexandra and posted it in the staff room on Thursday or Friday. Congratulations on starting your new family. Everything sounds very exciting and emotional. I am so very happy for all of you. Lots of new experiences for all of you. Happy to hear you have had good luck, good timing, and good helpers. I'll surely continue to check in with your blog. Can't wait to see you. Love Benita

jules said...

Great news Stephen and Candace. We follow your daily inputs with great interest. Everything sounds so exciting. Can't wait to see you guys and the new daughter when you return, Les and Judi

nicole said...

i,m really excited to read your blog daily.This so emotional i think i ball every time i read ..
but i also cannot wait until the next day .can,t wait to see your family pic.take care nicole

scott said...

I was actually just about to cry as i was catching up on the last couple of days. Everything sounds wonderful. Dont need a picture, sounds beautiful and we(scott, tina and nathan) can't wait to meet her. Nathan says " i jhx.yjhrththswththjrejg iii"

good luck see yu soon

Anonymous said...

Glad to know all is going well. We hope to see you shortly. Darlene came home from Brandon talking about gifts for Alexandra today. Take care of yourselves.
Mike, Darlene, Yiftu and Tariku

Kayla Peech said...

Hey Mr. and Mrs. David. I am so happy for you. Congradulations on taking that next step in your life on starting your new family. I can not wait to see your daughter. I know she will be so happy with the two of you. You guys are very lucky and once again congradulations. I know both of you will be great parents and she will be a very lucky girl to call you both Mother(momo) and father(tato). Take care, hope to see you soon and enjoy your time in the Ukraine! Love: Kayla

Sasha said...

Well, I don't know what to say. Im so extremely happy for you all, a dream come true. It took a while but I've finally been able to read your blog, and it definitly brings on the tears. I am looking forward to hearing more as time goes on, and can't wait to see your first family portrait. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!!!
Love Always,

Karla Elcock said...

Wow! I'm sure you know how the Elcocks feel about this. We read everything this morning. Kasey and I cried, Jesse is hoping that Stephen has shown off his skills as a juggler. Kennedy's decided that Alexandra will sleep in her bed when next you come for a visit. Shawn picked up the kids for school and was..very Shawn- like, but with a little extra excitement. I will send your link to Dustin. All this being said, we've known for a long time that you'd be great at this and there is NOTHING that I can type at this moment to describe how happy I am for all of you. You've done a remarkable thing for a little girl, and you're a family. This IS the way it was meant to be.
Love you all!!!!
The Elcocks