Friday, March 14, 2014

Our daily visit and some exploring

Ivan picked us up today at 9:00am.  I need to mention that drivers are always on time here it seems.  That scores big points in my book since I'm on "early is on time" kind of girl.  Yesterday morning while looking out the kitchen window, we even spotted Ivan waiting on the street near our apartment before he drives around back to pick us up.

Ivan parked out front in his Lada Samara.
Before Ivan drives us to orphanage, we make sure to exchange any new Ukrainian phrases we've been trying to learn.  In return, he does not hesitate to correct us repeatedly until we meet his high standards of perfect pronunciation.  He will not let us off the hook, but insists that we not miss a sing roll of the "r."  This morning we learned "pa-yee-halay" which means "let's go."  We should be bilingual in no time.  Funny side note...  Spanish is the only language I know aside from English and I cannot tell you how many times I've had to catch myself wanting to say "si" or "gracias" or "adios."  It's like my brain goes into default Spanish mode immediately.  Thankfully, even if a "si" slips out, no one here would know the difference.

Ivan drove us to the orphanage, strategically avoiding each pothole he has carefully memorized.  We arrived on what was a beautiful morning again.  Maria says she appreciates that we brought the sun with us from Arizona.

Approaching the main entrance to the orphanage
Beautiful detail above the front doors.
Once inside we were quickly escorted to the room where we are confined for three hours each day.  It is actually the same room where the boys in the group sleep so there are multiple beds arranged on one side and on the other side some cabinetry filled with toys and an abundance of large stuffed animals.

View from our "spot" in the room where we spend time together.
After playing a few rounds of Uno, we moved on to Sequence.  We've also enjoyed games of Checkers and Connect 4.  We've played hide and seek as many times as the small space allows.  We listen to music, including one of our favorite songs "Oceans" by Hillsong Ukraine.  We also get our daily dose of "Baby Bumblebee."  We play some games on our iPhones, but Max would much prefer to play as opposed to disconnecting through technology.  He wants engagement, which is a huge gift.  Kate would be content to listen to music, look at pictures and play games on our phones all day long if we let her, but we established boundaries with technology when she was in our home and that will continue.  This is not to say she doesn't want to play at all, but she is much more apt to "tune out" if we let her.  She does, however, enjoying being our designated photographer and manages to get some great shots even with a "real" camera.  I could see her blossoming into quite the "artist" between her love for drawing, music and photography.

Sequence, round 1

Ivan returned to the orphanage to pick us up at noon and take us back to the apartment.  It was a beautiful, sunny and warm day so we decided we should venture out.  Naturally, we had to check out the local McDonald's.  Our food tasted the same, if not better, than the same items in the States.  For example, I could actually taste potato in their french fries a couple different times.  We don't frequent McD's often in the States, but to have something familiar for a meal really made us happy.  I guess you could call ours a happy meal!

I do not get this excited about hamburgers in America.

From McDonald's we traveled just across the street to a mall with an underground "super market."  I must say we felt pretty accomplished weighing and tagging multiple produce and other bulk items without assistance.  Thank you modern technology.  When in doubt use your handy iPhone camera to take a picture of the sign above the item you wish to purchase.  Then take your item to the nearest scale, picture in hand, weigh the item and proceed to use your picture of the Cyrillic text to find the matching Cyrillic characters on the keyboard.  Type in the name of your item and "voila!" you have successfully printed the tag for your food item.  We thought we were pretty smart devising this method.

Example of signage.
Something Kate enjoyed during her stay with us over the summer was making and playing with play-doh.  I knew they didn't have anything comparable to our play-doh here and I didn't want the added weight of play-doh in our suitcases so I decided to bring my cream of tartar and food dye and get the rest of the ingredients here to make it on my own.  We successfully found and purchases the additional ingredients and I cooked it up tonight even without a measuring cup.

Ukrainian play-doh
We actually ventured out twice today.  After returning from our first trip to the grocery store we explored Cherkasy by foot just a little bit.  Some sights we had seen in the news over the last couple of months as protesting was occurring in this region as well.

Soborna Square and Cherkasy's regional administration building.  Most of the windows in this building have recently been replaces due to the breakage that occurred during the protests.

Memorial in Soborna Square commemorating the lives lost during the protesting a few weeks ago.
Back at the apartment for the evening I decided it was a good time for some vegetables to make their way into our meal.  That is, vegetables other than the standard potatoes and cabbage in just about every dish we've had here so far.

Cooking was another success and we sat down to a nice meal of a salad, some mixed vegetables and grilled "meat" and cheese sandwiches.  Not sure that I can rightfully place whatever packaged item we ate in the actual meat category, it's more like a distant relative to a hot dog...which is not meat in my book.  Anyway, we enjoyed the meal and it made me feel human again to consume vegetables.

Tonight we also utilized "Dish Anywhere" and watched an episode of Law & Order: SVU on our makeshift entertainment center...the clothes drying rack.  It worked and made us feel like we were home again...well, almost.

Fancy.
With that, day three in Cherkasy comes to a close.  We continue to pray for the people of Ukraine, as well as Crimea and Russia, as a referendum will be taking place shortly to decide the future of Crimea.  The decision will determine whether Crimea is annexed back to Russia or if it will remain part of Ukraine.  It's important to note that the referendum is being deemed illegal/illegitimate by the majority of the international community.  The vote is being talked about as a mere formality, meaning it doesn't matter how the people vote, the decision has already been made.  Would you please join us in praying for all the people affected by the tension and unrest that looms.  Pray for the people in leadership/government positions.  Pray for Putin.

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