First off, thanks to Candace's sister and mother who called last night. She was very excited to hear from you both.
I have a little scrap of paper with the name and address of the orphanage that I carry with me to give to taxi drivers who don't know the location by name. It was given to me by one of the translators on December 14th. The paper is tattered from frequent use and from one accidental washing in the sink. I have a new copy that I rewrote but I am partial to the original. I plan to use it to get to the orphanage until our final day and then save it as a souvenier.
Our visits today were fantastic. This morning Alexandra was doing and saying all kinds of things to make us laugh. She is very animated and she is bridging the language barrier with eye rolls and a multitude of facial expressions. She also is really good at expressing surprise, both real and imagined. For example, she will hide things from me and then act really surprised when she finds them...under her legs.
During the evening visit, all of the kids were really wound up. I am not sure what they served for supper but I am guessing that it included sugar. We may have contributed by bringing several new toys that we purchased. Candace actually gave Alexandra her first time out for throwing toys instead of laying them neatly on the floor. Alexandra sat quitely, smiling for a minute or so before getting a sort of bored expression on her face. As I sat there watching her I felt as if I was the one being punished. I can say proudly that she did her time without incident and returned a calmer girl as a result. We are finding out that things we learned as teachers actually work on your own children. Everyone who kept telling us how different things would be when we had kids will be really surprised to learn that we are not totally unskilled. That being said, we have yet to experience our first temper tantrum at Walmart or sandwich in a vcr type incident.
Today we had an interesting experience at a large bank called PrivatBank. We were greeted at the door of this modern five story glass and stone buidling by an electronic screening device, a man in a suit, and two security guards. I passed the man in the suit a note which stated in cyrillic Russian that I was there to withdraw some American currency. He gave me instructions to go to the next floor and visit what I thought was room 207. When I arrived, the two gentlemen working there were surpised to see us. I gave them my note and one of them took us to room 209. I gave the note to the lady there and she took us an area on the same floor which had two tellers behind a glass and wire enclosure. She said something to one teller, pointed to us to wait in line, and then went back to her office. We were waiting for about 15 minutes and the line wasn't moving. An older lady who appeared to be waiting in line said something to us then walked down the hallway. Candace was nervous and thought we did something wrong. What actually happened was the lady went to get the first lady to come back and help us again. Apparently, she had cut us in line and we were supposed to be served first. By this time we had kind of lost our place and were about sixth in line. The lady gave the teller heck I think and then told us to come with her. We followed her to her office where she processed our withdrawl on her own computer. Then we were taken back to the first floor to what appeared to be the vault area. The lady pressed a coded keypad which had a camera above us. A third lady came to the door, was handed our withdrawl slip, and went and got us some cash. At home, withdrawing money from an ATM takes about 45 - 60 seconds. Our experience at this bank took about 45 minutes. That being said, it was really kind of neat and the people that we encountered were extremely helpful.
After the bank, we went to a nearby restaurant and had a lunch of ice cream sundaes and tea. Then we picked up some more toys and books, as well as a new duffle bag to bring all of Alexandra's stuff home. We had brought another bag with us but it is no longer big enough given the amount of stuff we have purchased. Its hard to resist when toys and children's clothes are so cheap over here.
At the end of the afternoon, Candace did some reading and I came down to check my email. While I was there, I noticed three colleagues were logged into their computers back at the office in Manitoba. We have communication software that allows for instant messaging so we ended up chatting for about five minutes online. I was getting ready for my evening visit and the three of them were just starting their day at about 8:00 am CST. Thanks to Charlene, Shawna, and Heather for allowing the interruption.
It ended up being a day for unusual communication. As I made this blog entry, the Spaniard who is also adopting was sitting beside me. He and his wife are both staying at the same hotel. I sent him a message using an online translator, showed him the site, and then we "talked" for about ten minutes before he headed upstairs.
Well I have to get going...I have the last month of Saturday crosswords from the Winnipeg Free Press printed out. Let me tell you...the fun never stops over here.