Wednesday, April 13, 2011


There are so many things about adoption I did not know until we started this journey. Adopting an older child has it's upsides (no diapers or barf) and downsides (needing to bond with the child). The following serves to explain why and how we will be treating S in the ensuing months, so you don't think we're crazy. Please read it to your kids. (I plaguerized portions of this off another blog because I thought it was so well written ;-).

Our top priority from an adoptive standpoint will be bonding and attachment with S.  This will not be an easy process for many reasons including the fact that he is an older child and has been institutionalized for about 4 years.  Since he lived with his babushka from birth to 3 years, hopefully he developed the ability to bond as an infant, toddler and very young child.  If so, this process will be much easier for us all.  If you have parented an older adopted child, you probably understand what we are talking about .  If not, you might wonder why in the world would we make a big deal over this or you may even think we are crazy (I know I might have a few years ago)!  We are not asking that everyone agree with us or even understand the process we're going through, but that as our friends and family you would trust our heart, respect our decisions and support our parenting.  If you would like to understand more about this, please feel free to ask us questions or for some books that can help you understand what we're embarking on. 

We've shown him pictures of all the kids in the neighborhood and some of the parents. He knows a few of your names already, as well as names of his cousins, Aunts, Uncles and Grandma/Grandpa.
So, what can you expect now that we are home?

- He will be very tired (maybe for a while as he adjusts to his new life).  Please greet him warmly with a hug, but do not be offended if he does not respond.  He might not hug you back or even speak to you.  He will be overwhelmed with emotions and might not warm up to you easily.  Please respect his boundaries.

- Keep in mind that our goal is for him to bond with us as Mama and Papa...which is what his life should be centered around.  Please let us do all of the care-giving (offering food, consoling, disciplining, offering choices, helping with tasks, etc.)

- Please do not give him anything he asks for without first telling him to "ask Mama or Papa" - don't ask for him.  He needs to ask!  This applies to food, permission, help, anything!  He is learning English and can do this himself.

- Back us up.  If we direct him to do/not do (or eat/not eat) something, please go along with us even if you would do things differently.  When he sees you respecting our words to him, he will learn from that example.

- Please do not allow him to hang on you or cling to you.  He might want to sit in your lap, hold your hand, or just lean on you, but he must learn to cling first to Mama and Papa.

- Gifts:  If you have something to share with him, please give it to us first so that we can hand it to him for you...or ask him to "ask your Mama /Papa" if you can give him something.  It's important that the permission always comes from us.

- While he is learning to be a part of a family and follow rules and respect our authority, he will have days he is frustrated with us.  We will be the ones saying "no, you can't do that" or "I know you don't want to go to the store, but we are all going as a family."  In times like these, he may turn to others outside our immediate family as a way of pushing us back.  Please do not allow this.  It might seem mean, but you need to push him back towards us!  For his sake, he cannot bond with people outside of Mama and Papa right now.

- Bearing these things in mind, please do not ask him if he would like to go places, do things or attend events.  You can ask us about these things, but do not be offended if for the next several months we don't attend much -- we will be staying home a lot!  Also, he will not go anywhere without us...not until he has attached to us as his Mama and Papa.  We do look forward to the day that he can attend parties and events just as other children can, but that will have to take a back seat right now.

-He is learning what it means to be part of a family, to trust and obey us as his parents, to rely on us for everything he needs (emotionally and physically), and to bond with us as his Mama and Papa.

-It is imperative that he learns to seek all permission, affection, guidance, attention, provision (for every basic need), affirmation and acceptance from us first.  Only after he has truly bonded with us as his parents will he ever be able to develop healthy relationships in the future.  Right now, think of him as in the "infant" stage -- he has just come home to our family.  Only with him, he NEEDS to LEARN to rely completely on us just as an infant relies on his or her mother.  This is not something that will be instinctual for him.  Our desire is for him to develop into a healthy adult who has healthy relationships with his spouse, children, friends and family.  Thank you for supporting us in this!  It will help us all transition smoothly as we become a family.


Wednesday April 13, 2011
For those of you preferring the Reader’s Digest version:
We made it! We leave Kyiv tomorrow and will be landing at SFO at 10:40 PM Thursday. We will be VERY tired (21 hours total travel time, 17 hours in flight; Kyiv à ParisàLAàSF) so please don’t show up at the airport. We’ll probably take S out this weekend for a little tour of the neighborhood if he’s up to it.
Timeline: From time dossier submitted to having him home= 6 months. Total time in Ukraine= 45 days. Our adoption was a difficult one and our time spent in Ukraine is NOT typical for our agency.
For all the details, read on….

Lana & S behind the American Embassey after recieving his visa!
 Today was magical. I think someone was definitely watching over us or else all of your prayers worked!! We were in and out of the embassy in around 1 hour. Our ”interview” took place at a “teller” window. I had to raise my right hand and take an oath, then sign a bunch more papers. S was anxious to see what was going on so I had to lift him up so he could see over the counter. He knew this was a very important moment! They didn’t ask him anything, even though he had been practicing his mama, papa and brother’s names and had them all memorized :-)  . We were actually interviewed by a nice guy from upstate New York.  In the end, S was handed his visa by a Ukrainian worker while we were standing next to the American flag. I was so happy I started to get weepy! It was a strange, feeling somewhere between maternal and patriotic. The visa consists of one of the pages in his Ukrainian passport, which is made into a visa with his picture on it. Once we get to the U.S., I need to apply for a U.S. passport (Yes, he will have dual citizenship. At 18 he needs to decide if he wants to renounce his Ukrainian citizenship. I want him to keep dual citizenship but the only downside is if he returns to Ukraine before age 25, he’ll be drafted – they have a mandatory draft here now. So I guess the key is to not visit until after age 25). The other interesting thing I learned is he doesn’t become a U.S. citizen until his feet touch U.S. soil. We clear customs in LA so that’s where it will be official!! Scott, so sad you missed all this! Of course security is EXTREMELY high at the embassy so no cameras are allowed. You can’t even take pictures OUTSIDE on the street.
I forgot to mention two items S did bring with him from the orphanage. He is wearing two small crucifixes around his neck on leather strands, one silver and the other gold. When we were with my friend Danyar walking around the soccer stadium last week in Donetsk, I had him ask S where they came from. His reply; “Mother Theresa.” Danyar and I burst out laughing! Danyar told him, no, it must have been somebody who looked like Mother Theresa since she’s no longer with us. S got a quizzical look on his face but accepted Danyar’s explanation.  Speaking of religion, I’d like to add to the saying, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” “……nor as adoptive parents.” Our journey has been so trying at times! It’s a miracle it even happened with all the road blocks that were put in our way. But we persevered and ended up with a great kid! I couldn’t help think that maybe Mother Theresa WAS looking out for us from up above!
In front of St. Sofia's with S's Ukrainian passport and U.S. visa.

After our embassy visit, I asked our driver to please give us a tour of two huge cathedrals located downtown. It’s a bummer I cannot post pictures anymore, because these cathedrals were fabulous (built around 1017). Our driver was great and narrated the whole thing for S, teaching him about all the statues, history, etc. We strolled through a park around the churches that has an amazing view of the Dnipro River which runs right through the middle of Kyiv. We stopped at a stand in the park so mama could get an espresso and we also nibbled on some caviar potato chips (weird but good!). I hope S remembers this for the rest of his life. We also went to the big area of street vendors and bought some souvenirs (Christina, I got your 2 nesting dolls!!).

Placing sunflower seeds in a bird feeder in the park.

A view of Kyiv and the Dnipro River.

I know my blog is just a tiny portion of cyberspace but if any of you reading this ever wish to adopt, or know anyone who is thinking about it, please have them contact me. There are so many deserving children here in Ukraine who have so much potential but are victims of circumstance. I’d be happy to talk to anyone needing information. I never realized how much adoption GIVES BACK to the adoptive parents, but I felt it today.
For other adoptive parents following us, I intend to update this blog every 2-3 months and give a progress report on how S is adjusting to life in America.
Be on the lookout for your invitation to brunch at our home, to meet S and to donate a pair of kids’ shoes to the orphanage in the next few months! It may take S a while to adjust so be patient (please see the next blog for more information on this).
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Today was a day of smooth sailing at the doctor’s office and Embassy. We awoke at 6 am and were on the road at 6:29, headed to the train station to intercept S’s passport that was arriving from Donetsk. Then it was off to his doctor’s appointment. I found a pretend doctor’s kit at the grocery store last night so used it to explain what was going to happen today. Nothing painful, no blood tests or x-rays and I planned on declining any vaccines until we get to the U.S.  We waited for about 1 ½ hours at the doctors’ office to be seen. S is so content and patient! He doesn’t get squirmy, even though I know he’s bored. He played with my cell phone games for a while, did some mazes I brought along, watched some TV, learned who the President of Ukraine is, played with a toy transistor radio I bought him, but never once complained. We had been the second group to enter the clinic and sat down in a long wooden hallway with chairs lining both sides.  During the 1.5 hours we were there, the hall had become packed with people, many who had screaming children in their arms. Finally Lana knocked on one of the doors and I guess, demanded service, since we were ushered in shortly thereafter. S was weighed, measured, and a cursory exam was done by a very nice young doctor who had a great demeanor with kids. He made S laugh a few times then asked him, “Do you know your mama and papa’s names?” S said no. ( OK, we need to work on this since he needs to know this for the Embassy interview!) The doctor also asked him what his name was and he gave his original last name.  (Ooops!) He was deemed healthy and we were off to the next appointment.
We arrived at the U.S. Embassy around 10:30 am. For the first time, I felt very proud to be an American in a foreign country……….. I’m usually trying to hide my identity and avoid other Americans! The line of Ukrainians trying to get some type of American visa was horrendous! It snaked out of the parking lot and down almost an entire city block. Most of the people standing in line looked like students. Our agency contact, Lana, escorted us right up to the front of the line, all eyes turned our way and we were immediately let in! The embassy is not ornate or obvious like some of other foreign embassies I’ve seen ……… probably for good reason! Security was tight and little S got his first “wanding”. I was not able to bring anything into the embassy except my paperwork. No briefcase, phone, camera, computer, purse, nothing. Not even our interpreter which was ironic since I interfaced with all Ukrainians within the embassy today. The one thing missing from the Embassy was a picture of Barak Obama???? Who can tell me why this is?  The paperwork in the Embassy wasn’t bad and only took about 45 minutes. We then paid our fee for the visa ($401) and we were given an appointment for an “interview” tomorrow at 2 pm! Yippee!
I think S could sense my excitement at things finally moving along! I requested to our driver that our next stop be the Air France office, since I felt confident enough to finally buy S’s ticket to America! Things continued to go our way, as I was easily able to book the little man on my flights home and his fare wasn’t as bad as I had expected ($811, fully changeable). Ye Haw!
On the drive back we practiced with S so I’m confident he now knows his parents’ names :-) . Today he asked me twice, “Kag-da Amerika?” (When America?). I showed him the calendar and reiterated he now only has 2 days to wait! Let’s pray things continue on this course.
The rest of the day was relaxing. We walked around the open air market a bit and I bought a Ukrainian woman’s shirt that I can wear at International Day at G and S’s elementary school next year.  I still can’t find a mini Ukrainian flag even though I asked everyone at the market place.
As we were walking back to the apartment, I spied a little calico cat that popped her head out from under a building. I knelt down to call her and she came walking over. She looked like death warmed over, poor girl, but she was very friendly. She was skin and bones and had stopped grooming. S reached down to gently pet her head. Cats have a certain smell when they are sick, old and circling the drain..….......this one had it. I told S, “Nyet, bo-lin.” (No, sick) and we moved on to the next building and went into our apartment. We took the elevator to the 8th floor, went it and began putting together a “Transformer” toy I bought S for being so brave during his doctor’s visit today. We then realized we purchased the wrong size batteries for the toy so immediatley headed back out to the mini market to exchange them. We open the door and who is waiting for us?!? The poor kitty!

We had showed her an ounce of kindness so she somehow slipped into our building and ran up 8 flights of stairs. I was astounded! “OK, let’s give this kitty her last meal,” I said to S, “Ma-la-koe!” (Milk).  S got so excited I think he thought I wanted him to bring the pathetic kitty inside. He ran into the hallway, scooped her up like a baby on her back, legs and tail everywhere, but she didn’t fight back or try to scratch him. She just went with it and was in our foyer in 2 seconds. S then ran to the fridge to get the milk! I couldn’t pour it fast enough for him. I’m so happy he’s a cat-lover! Unfortunately, the girl was unable to drink, although she really wanted to. She began retching so we set her up outside our door with her cup of milk and a torn t-shirt. Hopefully one of her last nights will at least be comfortable.

Tonight S requested he take a bath, or that’s what I THOUGHT he was requesting… I filled the tub, he kept saying “balshoy, balshoy” (bigger, bigger). OK, so I filled the tub all the way up. Then he surprised me again. It took him a few times but without me coaxing, he put his face in and blew bubbles! For a kid who was in an orphanage for 4 years and removed from his babushka’s care at age 3, I don’t know where he gets his drive to try new things! I can only think his sister taught him these types of skills, since she was probably his primary caregiver when they lived with babushka, since babushka was ill.  I’m hoping somehow babushka knows how well she did for him. His sister will never be forgotten by our family for her role as well.

Spookie Nookie! (Nighty Night!)

Monday, April 11, 2011


Monday, April 11, 2011
Apparently a lot.
We received good news today! S’s passport is ready in Donetsk and will be brought here via train to arrive tomorrow morning. We also have his doctor’s appointment tomorrow morning at 7:30 AM followed by a visit to the U.S. Embassy to begin the paperwork for his Visa. The bad news is I checked some of the paperwork I have to submit for Scott at the embassy. Since he did not make this trip with me, we had to have some paperwork signed and notarized at home before I left. The problem is, S’s name on the paperwork from Scott, lists him as S. Andrew Schork and the name on his passport (and on the court decree) lists him as Andrew S. Schork. This was a misunderstanding between us and our agency. On the first trip, we needed to come up with a name for him. We chose Andrew and thought we’d just call him Andrew S. Schork. When we got home, we realized his initials would be A.S.S.(not good). So we asked our agency if we could change it. They said yes but I guess the miscommunication was over WHEN we should have done this – it should have been BEFORE court. So you parents coming behind us, beware. Have a name handy since they’ll ask you quickly what it will be. Once you settle on the name, it cannot be changed. Therefore, I’ll be going to the embassy and doing my best groveling, begging and pleading tomorrow that they accept our paperwork as it is. Worst case, Scott would have to sign and re-notarize a few documents and FedEx them to me here in Kyiv, delaying our trip home.
Otherwise we had a good day today.  It’s hard to get S out of the apartment but I eventually succeed and he’s always happy once we get to our destination. I can see a little frustration in that I cannot understand everything he says to me. He got mad at me today for a few minutes and refused to hold my hand when we were walking. Poor guy! When it really gets bad, I call my friend Natalia and she always saves the day! He’s much better after he knows what’s going on and he has a way of communicating. Today we walked down to McDonalds to have dinner. In front of the McDonalds, there was a little kiddy carnival so I let S ride 2 rides. He had a HUGE smile on his face! After we got off one of the rides, two kids approached us, a 9-year-old girl named Christina and her brother, and asked us a question. I explained to her he was my son and we were from California. Her eyes lit up! California?! We tried talking to them for quite some time so I finally called Natalia again and it turns out Christina wanted to know how much it cost to go to California. What a cutie! S played with Christina’s brother for a while, but right before he left, he got out his wallet and insisted on giving the boy one grivna (8 grivna = $1). It was precious! I’m not sure if he thinks he needs to pay off people to play with him or he’s just being a philanthropist!  We waved goodbye to them and they walked toward the metro station, evidently to go home (do they come downtown all by themselves?). On the way home we stopped by a Minimarket since S told me he wanted to buy some gum. This was his first purchase with his own money and boy was he proud!

S offering strangers grivna.

S's new friends.
I’m stuck using this lame Wi-Fi stick, I don’t have the speed to publish pictures on the blog anymore, or check email efficiently, but will try to do both if I can find a cyber café tomorrow.
Das-vi-dan-ya! (Goodbye)   

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Sunday  April 10, 2011
The train ride to Kyiv last night was warm, cozy and comfortable. S and I read and watched The Incredibles on the computer (for the 18th time), then decided to let the train rock us to sleep. I thought I’ve been doing a good job of keeping him abreast of our next steps. I show him the calendar everyday and try and explain what will happen the next day, when we will see the doctor, etc. I guess I haven’t been doing such a good job since right before he went to bed, he kept asking me a question I couldn’t understand. I felt bad for the little guy so I called S’s new English teacher, Natalia, back in Saratoga. She was a Godsend! I’m not sure what she said to him, but she put him at ease since he immediately got a big smile on his face and then went right to sleep!
S puts on his backpack at the train station in Donetsk.

Doing some work on the train.
He absolutely LOVES the backpack I brought for him and his wallet. I give him grivna every now and then. He loves copying my actions when I go to the bank to exchange money and carrying the grivna around. Yesterday, our driver took us to the train station and dropped us of in our cabin. Before he left, I handed him a letter thanking him (written in Russian by Natalia – thank you!) along with a tip. S immediately got his wallet out, reached in and handed our driver 1 grivna (there are 8 grivnas in $1). It was so cute! Our driver held the grivna to his heart and cocked his head and said “Pa-jal-sta!” (thank you). Every time I go to a bank to exchange money, S is right there with his wallet out, thinking he’ll get some too! He has no interest in American money or Euros since I’ve tried to offer those and explain that grivnas don’t work everywhere. He’ll learn.

Since he loves mimicking me, I told him I was going to take a shower this afternoon. He was watching a video (how much ya want to bet it was Tom & Jerry or The Incredibles?). After I got out, he ran to me shouting “Ducha, ducha !” and pulling off his socks and shirt. Boy was this a shower! I was soooooooo pleased! He washed his hair no less than 4 times, using my shampoo, the Johnson’s Baby shampoo, a shampoo that was in the bathroom and the bar soap on the sink! Then he washed his body all by himself, then he asked me to scrub his back!!! (I’m not kidding!) I thought bathing would be the hardest thing! It was a bit hard to get him to use warm water but he finally got used to it!
S counting his grivna in the backseat.

My friend and adoptive mother Karla, has been a great coach, getting me up to speed on toileting habits at some orphanages. Let’s just say at home I plan to hand a huge sign over his toilet that says “flush” in Russian and English! Also, there is sometimes no TP in orphanages…………go figure. We’re working on it!

Today we stayed in our new apartment here in Kyiv since the weather was quite variable. It started off sunny when we left for our grocery store run, then rained then SNOWED!   We played tag in a playground on the way home. S really never wants to leave this apartment. I don’t know if it’s because the he didn’t get out much over the winter in the orphanage or if he’s just astounded by all the toys/DVDs/I-pod/junk I brought and wants to play with it.

Walking to our flat in Kyiv.

View from our flat.
My washing machine. Don't forget the "Tide Sinkfuls"!!

My dryer. Don't forget your clothesline like I did!

My kitchen and (Harry Potter) broom.

A playground near our flat (note sleeping dog).
There's nothing better than Ukrainian bread and real butter!
Unfortunately, since his Ukrainian passport is still not ready in Donetsk, we can’t begin much of the paperwork here. We copied some documents today that we need for the Embassy appts. But that ‘s about it. Tomorrow we have no plans except for walking down to a local mall to check it out.
S and I Skyped with G and Scott tonight! S really liked it and was yammering on in Russian to them. I’m beginning to really miss G (way to go G, winning that baseball game!). I also got to see and talk to the dogs – do you think they heard me? Hopefully we’ll be back home soon!
 I’m connecting to the internet with a WiFi stick which sucks so I may not be blogging much, unless I find a wireless café.  Take care!!

Friday, April 8, 2011


Donetsk's soccer stadium. Those are moveable "sun lamps" behind us to help the grass grow on the field. The ground is also heated since this stadium is open (and it gets VERY cold here!).
 Friday April 8, 2011
Today S and I found out we would be returning to Kyiv tomorrow on the overnight train. Reason being, we have not yet received his passport here in Donetsk so our agency feels it doesn’t make sense to wait any longer when we can begin some of the paperwork/medical exam in Kyiv. Hopefully his passport will be available Monday and can be sent to me in Kyiv. Our agency does a stellar job of keeping up with Ukrainian and U.S. politics affecting adoptions, so their advice is to try and get things moving on his visa before there is a shutdown at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv due to the budget gridlock back home. Hopefully the House and Senate will be locked in a room together, without toilets, food or water (or pay) until they come to an agreement!!!!! We will sure miss Donetsk though! It’s a much smaller, friendlier city than Kyiv, I know my way around and we’re right downtown, close to everything. Between my knowledge of key words, Google translate, my pocket phrase book and my ability to read Cyrillic, everything is easier this time! For you parents coming after us, learning some Russian, reading Cyrillic and being able to write your and your child's name in Cyrillic, will really add fun to your trip! Thanks to friend and fellow adoption blogger, Richard ( ),who has a GREAT crash course in Cyrillic, I’ve learned a lot and also have insights into how hard it will be for little man to learn English. The Russian alphabet has letters and sounds we don’t have. One letter looks like a squished bug and also sounds like one (it’s the “zh” sound as in the end of "massage"). They don’t have the “ch” or “th” sound. Our letter “R” is a “P” in Cyrillic. Our “V”s are “B”s, there’s a letter than resembles a lambda, there’s the upside down Pi sign…..…the list goes on. Remembering your Greek alphabet will help. The game S and I play now is I try and sound out Russian words, completely massacring them. He laughs, then tells me the “correct” pronunciation.  When I’m able to pronounce the word correctly, and I can actually understand the sounds coming out of my mouth, I do a victory dance and S thinks I’m a loon! It’s sort of fun, like deciphering little puzzles.
Today was an exciting day for little man. During our last trip, I met a student (Daniyar) who is studying at a University here. He and his family are refugees from Kazakhstan (he’s married with a 6-year-old girl). He speaks English (along with 4 other languages) so did some translating for us and took Scott and I on a wonderful sightseeing tour of Donetsk during our last trip. Today I asked him if he’d take S and I over to the soccer stadium in Donetsk for a tour. I told S about it yesterday, to try and get him ready and give him a feeling of control over his situation. He told me he was excited to go but I really didn’t know HOW excited he’d get. To put it mildly, HE WAS IN HEAVEN!!!

The local team here in Donetsk is called Waxtep Shaktar. “Shaktar” means “miner” in Russian, as mining is the big industry here. The team dates back to 1916 and Ukrainians are VERY proud of Shaktar! (Even though everyone in town was bummed since they lost to Barcelona last night : - (    ) . It’s a strange juxtaposition: the average household income is only $3,000 per year (yes, in U.S. dollars!),yet the town has a stadium that makes Candlestick Park look like a high school. There is a very rich man here in Donetsk who funded this entire thing……and it’s impressive.
When we arrived, we first went in the gift store and I had Daniyar tell S he could get something, as long as it wasn’t too expensive. This is a SWANK gift store, mind you! Nike makes everything and it’s just as expensive as the Giant’s Dugout at PacBell Park! Poor little S was again overwhelmed (but smiling), walking through the aisles of everything from Shaktar underwear to stuffed animals to coffee mugs. He didn't know what he wanted. Daniyar did a great job with him, helping him try on some clothing in the kid’s section. He finally chose a hat that fit him and a jersey that he’ll have to grow into. I bought two handkerchiefs for our dogs. I told S he can put them on Gracie and Jamani – this will undoubtedly help him bond with our pooches. We then walked from the gift shop into the museum which are both inside the stadium. The lobby of the museum was overflowing with kids around S’s age, obviously on a field trip. I was happy I had S here, since I need to make up for all the childhood he’s missed. Since he has only gone to school in the orphanage, I'm sure there were not many field trips like this. The manager of the place remembered Scott and I from our last visit, when Daniyar had taken us here before. He was excited to meet little S since we had talked about him last time. He shared with me that he believes adoption is a great thing (not a feeling shared by all Ukrainians, especially when it is AMERICANS doing the adopting). He went on to share that the team’s goalie had just adopted a child! I had read about this in light of the Ukrainian government trying to thwart the stigma that surrounds adoption by Ukrainians. Anyway, we ended up getting a private tour and little S was let in for free! (Hey, I only play the “orphan card” when appropriate!).  Little man was beaming the entire time!  I’ve also learned he’s kind of shy with other people and stayed very close to me during the tour.

Artificial turf around the sides, real grass on the field.

Daniyar doing a mock interview with the great footballer in front of the "media wall."

A luxury skybox.

S and the President of Shaktar.

In the locker room!!

Locker room.

They had humongous jacuzzis in the locker room (behind S).

The "cleat washing" station for between halves.

The "bench," fully equipped with seat warmers! Our guide was quick to tell us Chelsea (the popular soccer team in England) only has a wooden bench.

Our guide actually let us walk onto the field! We got special treatment!

Tunnel the players run through when entering the field.

This was an interactive soccer game projected onto the floor (shouldn't have used my flash!). We played until we got kicked off!

The cool (intentional) graffetti inside the stadium (F.C.S.D.= Football Club Shaktar Donetsk).

A "fog screen" on which a movie was projected. S was leary when our guide asked us to walk through the screen. But once he did it, he couldn't get enough!

Outside stadium. This ball looks like it's floating/spinning on water.

There is a huge park surrounding the stadium with some WWII tanks on display. Like our son G,  S is ALL boy and ran to these tanks and started climbing them! 

A monument to Ukrainians who lost there lives fighting the Germans during WWII on this site. All their names are listed.

Tonight we watched a little of “Stargate” on TV, dubbed in Russian. The good news is the dubbing is terrible; they talk over, and a little behind, the soundtrack so if you listen “under” you can hear the English. He really liked the show (especially the “moon-stars”/monsters)! I put little man to bed around 8. He, of course, didn’t want to go. He finally went, begrudgingly, hugging a new stuffed tiger I let him pick out at the grocery store today. He wandered into the kitchen about 15 minutes later, and asked if he could help me do the dishes! What a cutie! I sent him back to bed so I could begin this blog.
Tomorrow we leave on the train at 6 pm so I will miss a day of blogging. In the meantime, please pray for us that things continue to go smoothly (also pray for those morons in the House and Senate!).