A Part of Ukraine visits Redmond Fire Station 11

As a thank-you to the B-shift crew at Redmond FS11 for supporting the Medical Screening for our group of children who came on our For The Children Of The World 2011 Health Respite Program, 3 of our daughters along with our host “daughter” Alla prepared a traditional Ukrainian meal for them (with a little help from Jan, of course.)  The meal went over very well with the crew, and the girls got the chance to see some of the engines and equipment up close.  See the photo album we’ve added with pictures from the event.

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What’s Up?

OK, so we’re not good bloggers, and we don’t keep up with entries.  Sue us. 
 
The last entry below showed the nasty winter we were experiencing in Dec 08, 40" of snow on the ground around us.  This winter has been the polar opposite — record warm temps in January and February, though we did have a record cold snap in December before Christmas.  It froze some of our outside piping, so I get to replace a faucet on our BBQ area sink this Spring.
 
I’ll try to post some more info so that we can update on what we’ve been doing for the past year, and in the coming year.
 
Mike

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A White Pre-Christmas in Woodinville

Well, you live here long enough, and eventually it will happen.  Between yesterday and today, we got smacked with over 8 inches of snow.  Mike shoveled the driveway twice Wednesday night, moving 2+" of snow each time, and thinking that about 9pm the snow was done falling and we’d be OK for the next day.  Ha.
 
During the night another 5" fell, and by 12pm we had over 8" on the ground.  It snowed off and on all day.  Everyone went out and got soaking wet running around, throwing snowballs, sledding (yes, we can sled on some parts of the new property), and generally goofing around.  School has been cancelled for Wed – Fri, so everyone is on Christmas break early.  Now if we could only get out to do some Christmas shopping…
 
And no, the horse isn’t ours.  We don’t have any of those, yet…
 

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First Birthday in America for Alyona

Alyona turned 15 on 11/10, just one day before Theresa turned 24 on 11/11.  After a rousing dinner at Red Robin, we went back to the house for cake and presents.  The cake, of course, was in the shape of her favorite food — cheeseburger and fries. 

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Halloween Antics

Back in October, the girls went to Remlinger Farms for some pumpkin searching and corn maze fun while Mike was in North Carolina at the Children of Chernobyl USA conference.  So no, contrary to popular and smartbutt comment, that is NOT Mike that Jan is kissing in the picutre.

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Cruise vacation pictures posted

We now have some of the pictures posted in the albums section from our recent 3/30/08 cruise vacation to the Mexican Riviera.  This was on the Carnival Pride, sailing out of Long Beach, CA to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas.  Great fun was had by all of us on it — Mike, Jan, Luda, Elena and Alyona.
 
We’ll post more info and pictures later.

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Day 18 — 1/31, Back in the USA!

Sorry to take so long to enter this last post for the trip, but the travel, arrival and activities the past week have been a bit overwhelming.
 
We left Kyiv on Wednesday afternoon, arriving into Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport at 7:30pm Amsterdam time.  The flight availability and scheduling had forced us to have to wait overnight for the Northwest/KLM flight that would take us to Seattle.  Here, as we suspected, the Dutch Immigration officials would not let us take the girls out of the transit area of the airport, because they were still traveling as Ukrainian citizens and didn’t have visas to enter Holland.  No matter that they’re minor children in the company of parents who are US citizens, and have a valid visa for the US that states they have temporary permanent residence status (I-551 green card).  No, no, rules are rules, etc.  What a crock!  So, anyone planning on adoptions from the Ukraine, be very careful in your return trip planning.  Your kids may be trapped in the airport unless you arrange for visas ahead of time — somewhat difficult since you won’t get their passports until the adoption is complete, and it can take several days or weeks to get the visas for Ukrainians to enter European Union countries (Schengen countries, as the Dutch call them). 
 
However, we got very lucky.  We knew there was a Mercure Hotel inside the airport, part of the transit area, and it has 33 rooms.  We were told they were booked when we called on Tuesday and Wednesday before leaving Kyiv, but Mike went hurrying over there as soon as we could after landing.  As luck would have it, we got the last 2 rooms available, which were next to each other and were double rooms.  So, we got to sleep comfortably instead of parking on the "comfort chairs" in the transit area — and no, they weren’t comfortable. 
 
Our plane left at 1:15pm on Thursday, so we had plenty of time to get some sleep, breakfast and cleaned up, though checkout time was 9am.  The Schiphol Mercure is a real "hot-cot" hotel, but it was worth it.  No hassles getting onto the plane, which had lots of empty seats so that we all had two seats worth of room to relax.  We landed on time in Seattle, but getting through Customs and Immigration took quite a while.  We had to wait for Shuttle Express, but we made it and got home at 5:30pm.  What a relief!  Theresa, Olga and Luda were all there waiting for us, with Welcome Home banners, presents and a cake.  The girls were smiling ear to ear, though really tired.  So, after eating and unwinding a bit, along with a little unpacking to get to the souveniers, paperwork and other items, we all headed off to bed.  Our two newest daughters and US citizens were exhausted but still smiling like crazy.
 
Here’s a couple of photos showing the final journey home.  Thanks to all of you for your support, comments and encouragement as we completed this long-anticipated journey to bring home Alyona and Elena.  If anyone who is contemplating or going through the adoption process, or has friends/family who are interested in or going through the process, we are very happy to answer questions or provide info on what we went through.  The Ukrainian process can be a bit daunting, but with some foreknowledge you can get through it without huge hassles.
 
Cpaceba and das vadanya (thanks and goodbye for now),
Mike, Jan, and all the girls

   

At Kyiv airport — Can we leave yet???                  At the gate in Amsterdam

    

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