Saturday, March 20, 2010


Ok, here's another lesson in cultural differences between America and the Ukraine. In the Ukraine, clothes dryers are not very common. (I believe the reason is that they use too much electricity, that's what I was told) So, since we have been here awhile and have only a limited number of clothes with us, we have to find some way to get them clean. When in the Ukraine, do as the Ukrainians do-wash them yourselves. That's right folks, those pictures are of our shower (which again the Ukraine does not have many bathtubs) and the radiator in our bathroom. It's laundry day! First I plung, then I scrub, then I plung and scrub some more. And if they're not clean, well then I do it all over again. (that whole dialog is from the movie Far and Away) Anyway, after cleaning the socks, underwear and t-shirts, we then hang them around the room over the various radiator/heating units throughout. They dry fairly well and quickly. A little too stiff for my liking, but hey they're clean. Because we are at a 5-star hotel, they do have laundry service but it is expensive so we only used it for the jeans and sweatshirts, etc. All the small stuff, we did ourselves. But now that we've discovered Alexander can get our stuff washed, and really cheaply, we will be "sending it out" to get it cleaned. There you have it, another lesson in cultural differences from the other side of the world. Until next time.


Meet Alexander. He is our designated taxi driver. The thing about the Ukraine is there are a LOT of taxi's throughout the city, but very, very few that speak any english. So when you find one who can communicate with you, even a little bit, you want to secure his services. Well it seems that Alexander actually drove another family around several months ago and that is how we heard about him. He is a very nice guy. He knows a little, and I do mean a little, bit of english. But hey, some is better than none. Alexander loves to try and learn new english words, so the trips around town are always exercises in language for all of us.

Small problems do arise like the time Robin, Logan & I were heading back from the orphanage. During what seemed like small talk, he was telling us about the great river and his friend who owned a second-hand clothes store (we need to get baby clothes for the trip home), and we were agreeing with him, saying "da" (yes in Russian). Robin and I look at each other and comment, "this doesn't look like the way back to the hotel". Next thing we know, he pulls off the side of a 4-lane busy road and gets out. He opens Robin's door, has her get out. Comes around to my door and motions for me to get out, only I can't because Logan has fallen asleep on my lap. "2 minutes, 2 minutes", is what he keeps saying. Robin assures me she'll be fine & the two cross the busy traffic and disappear down the embankment. Two minutes turns into twelve (I kept track) and Logan wakes up. I'm about to get out when they reappear and cross the street again. Once back in the cab, Robin just smiles, shakes her head that she'll explain later back at the hotel and off we go again. This detour for Robin resulted in some photos and sand in her shoes. Basically it was a big river with a large island in the middle. For some reason we must have agreed that we wanted to see it. Next time better to keep our mouths shut.

So we figure we're on our way back to the hotel, but oh no. Next stop, his friend's second-hand store. Guess we said da to this as well. We go in, find 2 pairs of pants, a sweater and a hat (actually Robin found the hat while I was gone-I'll explain in a minute). Let's pay and get out of here. Oh no, not so fast I didn't have any Grivna on me (their money). I was planning on exchanging some later after getting back to the hotel. "No problem", Alexander says,"Bank, around corner". Ok, I'll be right back Robin. Yeah a half hour later! Around the corner, down the street, out on to a busy street, past several banks and we keep going. "Where the heck is he taking me?" Finally, after 10 minutes we pull over at a bank (like the 4th one we passed) and go in. Simple exchange-of course not. The machine won't read my brand new crisp money. Out we go, two doors down to another one where they don't use those machines. Money exchanged. (In my mind I'm thinking, why did we go all this way?) After getting the money I find out. We go to his taxi, but we don't stop. No, no. He pulls my arm and we cross the street. He parked across the street from the Irish Pub (yes the one you read about earlier) because he wanted to show it to me. We walk in, he says some stuff to the lady working and we leave. Not sure what the whole purpose of this visit was but hey I'm just along for the ride. Finally, back to the shop to pay for our clothes and pick up Robin and Logan. It only took 35 minutes.
We get in the cab, Robin and I look at each other wide-eyed and chuckle. After returning back to the room, we agree that from now on we will not say "da" to anything else. And before you think Alexander's like American taxi drivers (driving us around to make more money), the cost for the ride was the same as to and from the orphanage. I gave him a 10 Grivna tip (which equals about $1.25) and he at first rejects it, but finally takes it. He is a very nice man and we are glad to have him driving us around. We just have to be careful what we agree with, or the next thing I know we'll be at his house for dinner. (which the other couple who preceded us actually did) BTW-he is a full service cabbie. He will even take our laundry to the cleaners for us, and pick it up. Cost for his service-nothing. American cabbies could learn something from him.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Well, every visit has gotten better and better. The little guy is bonding with us more and more. With each visit, he is happier to see us and more adventuresome during our time together. These are great signs that he is well-adjusted and should be able to merge right into our family when we leave and go home. During the visits, he is all smiles. He has become more trusting of each of us, and loves to play.

He and Logan are forming a bond as well. Yesterday he and Logan chased each other around the room and laughed the whole time. It was really cool to watch. He copied many of the things Logan was doing and the coolest thing was that he came and sat in Logan's lap. That was really huge! Logan loved it. He sat there and Logan held him and they rocked. (yes, I have plenty of pictures of it) It's huge because up until that point, he has only wanted to sit in mommy's lap. (yes, that means he has not sat in my lap yet. But I'm sniff, ok. I sniff, sniff understand that his experience with father figures is probably non-exisitent at this point. So I'm not, boo-hoo (that's a full cry) taking it personally) Logan is going to be a great big brother.

We have been able to feed him the last several times as well. The dynamics of that are interesting as well. At two he can basically eat most anything put in front of him. He has been taught to not grab when eating. This is unusual for us, as we are used to Logan when he was a baby wanting to grab everything and stuff it in his mouth. Not so with our new little guy. He eats with his hands at his side and lets the food come to him. This is how they learn inside the orphanage.

He also loves to explore. The room where we get to meet is all new to him and he walks around wanting to see it all. He absolutely loves looking out the window with dad. Robin has introduced him to the ladies, gentlemen's and farmer's horse knee bounce game as well. He giggles everytime. When he's a little older, dad will introduce him to the crazy, insane horse bounce. Much like I did when Logan was a baby.

We brought some simple toys for him. His favorites are two small frisbees that I got from another Robyn, who I do some work with. (BTW, Robyn if you're reading this, thanks not only for the frisbees, but the smiley pens are a HUGE hit here) He also has a soft, spongy ball, a truck and a karate stuffed tiger that makes "hiyah" sounds. All of which are new to him.

Overall, things are going well and we continue to pray for everything to go smoothly in the next week. We cannot wait to start our life back home with our new son and little brother. Thanks to all of you for following along and praying, we feel and appreciate every one of your prayers. Enjoy the bonus picture!


That's right, we have another picture of the boy to share. Again, pace yourselves because we don't want you to be blown away by his cuteness all at once. Look at those fingers, see how they squeeze that cookie-good grip! He knows what he likes and isn't going to give that cookie up for anything. BTW, his other hand looks just as cute and incidentally also has a cookie in it. Yes, he's two-fisting it, but that's because he doesn't want to lose any of his food to the rest of his group. It's a trait they pick up on the "inside". They have to secure their food or they could lose it to another little one. And we think he's a lefty as well. What are the odds having two lefties? You know what that means? It means two MLB pitching prospects and subsequently two retirement plans for daddy. It's all good. Well, hope that tides you over until the next one. Enjoy.


We were all stoked to find out there was an Irish Pub located in the downtown region. That's right, Irish food and it was St. Patrick's Day! How could we be so fortunate? Every year, back home, Robin makes corn beef and cabbage (Logan & I pass on the cabbage part) for St. Patrick's Day dinner. She loves it! It is something she looks forward to once a year. And now being in a foreign country she will still get to keep that tradition going. Or so she thought. Allow me to explain. After a hectic day, and a 2 hour cab ride (I'll explain that in another post), our sites were on the dinner we would be having at the Irish Pub that evening. It was a hope that carried Robin through. We pick up our new friend Nancy and head to the pub. It's a little far from our hotel, but who cares, we're going to have Irish food. Yeah, right.
After the cab ride, we tell our driver we'll call him when we're finished with dinner. He leaves and we go in. First impressions, kind of looks like an Irish pub-brick walls, decorated like a castle, a little cold and dark. We get seated and presented a menu. It's in Russian and English, how fortunate is that. This should be easy. It's long, about 14 pages full of different things-several types of livers, mussels, schnitzel, etc, even some Mexican food. Ok, the menu's all over the place, but at least there's variety to choose from. But no where on this Irish menu do we see a list for corn beef and cabbage-an Irish staple. Did I mention it's cold in here? The longer we sit and look over this menu, the more uncomfortable we become. As we look around, the place is virtually empty. There are 2 other couples in there, and we are in the prime dinner hours. Hmmmm, that's not a good sign. Did I mention that it's cold in here? We all have our coats on and are still freezing cold. As we continue to look over the menu I get this sinking feeling we're in a foreign version of Chef Ramsey's show, "Kitchen Nightmares". I can almost hear him in the kitchen yelling at the staff about the poor quality of the food and that they're going to kill someone with this spoiled food. (for Logan's class-you see, when no one's in the restaurant, that usually means the food isn't being used and probably on the verge of being spoiled). Visions of spending the evening in my bathroom, pressing the half-moon button repeatedly are too much. We leave, call our taxi and head to a place called Sir Lancelot's. Did I mention that I think it's warmer outside than inside? Anyway, Lancelot's serves Italian food. We have pizza (very good pizza though) for St. Patrick's Day. It's not corn beef and cabbage, but we're also not all sick with food poisoning either so it's a win-win. That's all for today. Until our next adventure...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Ok gang, here's a little cultural education for our friends back home. It's amazing to me how many simple differences there are between countries. Take for instance the hot and cold water. Our cold is always to the right, hot to the left. Not so here, it's the opposite. An important thing to remember before getting in a shower-ouch! And another area is using the "necessary room", or as the potty training video my son grew up watching, "going to the potty, potty." Just recently the wife and I have solved the mystery of the toilet. (See picture) The flushing device is on the top, not the side (or done automatically like in the US), so you push the button on top. No problem, but when we got to our new hotel, there were 2 buttons on top. What to do? Well, the mystery has been solved. You see the small circle flushes quickly, that's for a number one usage; and the half moon flushes a little longer, that's for a number two usage-longer flush usually needed. It only took us 2 days to figure that whole thing out. But we are in no way complaining because at least this is a sit-down toilet. It seems that across the city, in many public places, they use the other type of toilet in the top picture. We call it a "squatty potty". Yes, ladies that's right, there is no seat! So use your imagination to figure out how that works without a seat. By the way, it is for both sexes and when you are at a restaurant or other place, there's no other option. These are fairly common so it definitely pays to know your surroundings and plan accordingly. Just another small thing to be really thankful for back home.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Can't believe it. We found a pizza place here in the Ukraine. Now mind you, it's not as good as American pizza, but then what really is. Considering we are 5000 miles away, we'll take just about any pizza that comes close. Fortunately, this pizza isn't half bad. Logan and I had to scrape the sliced tomatoes off of course, but that's because we're high maitenance. (All their pizza here comes with actual tomatoes on top of the pizza. I know tomato sauce comes from tomatoes so it shouldn't matter, but I can't get my mind around eating tomatoes. What can I say, I'm screwed up. And of course I've passed that on to Logan-father of the year) Anyway, with our new friend Nancy along, we all enjoyed a taste of home (kind of). We'll keep looking for more familiar foods and keep you posted. (I'm sure you all just wait around to hear about that aspect of our journey with baited breath) Speaking of that, any of you followers of the blog drop us a line. We really do like to hear from back home. It keeps us connected to you. So post a response from time to time and help us not get too homesick. Until tomorrow.


Well, we didn't want to leave you all hanging so we wanted to update the photo of our boy for you. Now, mind you it's not his best side or anything, but it's still cute. I mean really can you get enough of him. Try not to go too crazy over him. That's why we want to slowly expose you all to him. If we give you too much at one time, you might go crazy with excitement. So enjoy this latest picture. Until the next one...

Monday, March 15, 2010


Today we decided to take in a few sights of the Ukrainian countryside. First on our agenda was to visit an old Cossack fort. We're learning a lot about how this country works in the process though. Take for instance the taxi drivers. A few things to note: 1) The roads here are bad. They have many, many deep potholes. (Chicago would be envious). 2) The taxi drivers here are a lot like those in Chicago-they speed, all take different routes but get you to your destination, and all make you slightly nervous as they whip in and out of traffic, etc. 3) There are no real lanes in the streets either. This really makes it interesting as most people drive in the middle of the road (presumably to avoid the bad potholes) and have to move over, cross into oncoming traffic, etc. Yeeehaaaa! Giddyup cowboy. Another thing is that with limited communication skills between driver and passenger, there's always a little uncertainty about your destination. Take for example our trip to the fort. These three pictures show where we were dropped off. In language we barely understood, we were dropped at this T in the road and told to go "that way (pointing) to fort" and "that way (pointing in the opposite direction) museum". We nod our heads, exit the vehicle and start walking. After about 300 meters, we actually do find the fort (we also went in the other direction but the history museum was closed and some nice man in army fatigues didn't really seem like he wanted to discuss why, so we left that area).
Anyway, the fort was really cool. Logan loved it because he got to run around outside. (Being cooped up in the hotel room and orphanage is tough for a 6 year old, but he has been really good) So today the boy got to run around and stretch his legs. The fort has/is being rebuilt to show how what it would have looked like centuries ago. I'll let most of the pictures do the talking, but there was a cool church building that we got to go inside and see the beautiful wall tapestry. Enjoy the pictures. Also, Logan wants to say, "What's up" to all his classmates. He also says, "Thank you for the emails, he really appreciated them." He can't wait to return, tell you about his trip and he will also have a surprise for everyone in his class.
That's it for today, tomorrow we'll talk more about some of the fun things about being in a foreign land. Until then, peace fron the Webb's!


As you scroll down you will be treated to the very first public photo of Logan's new brother Zach. Now prepare yourself, scroll slowly because we want you to slowly take in all the cuteness this boy has to offer. If you go to fast, you may miss some of it and that would be a shame. Ok, ready...scroll slowly. Now isn't that the cutest fingertip you've ever seen? I mean that's the cutest fingertip I've seen since Logan's when he was a baby. (of course I may be biased). The little guy loves the camera and is very smart. As I was taking his picture, he put his finger right over the lense, almost like he knew that he should be getting paid for his photos. Smart kid. Tune in tomorrow for the next photo. To be continued...

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Well, at 6 am the train pulls into the station and our faithful guide Serge is waiting for us. The man is incredible, he drove all night along dark and pothole filled roads to get here. Day's agenda-securing place to stay, eat some breakfast, head to orphanage to meet and decide on our boy. Nerves and anticipation are kicking in.

Hotel-AWESOME. wasn't sure what to expect, but pleasantly surprised when we arrived. It's a 5-star place and it is very affordable. Nice, clean rooms, hot shower, breakfast, etc. all under one roof, and it's close enough to the orphanage. I can "rough" this for a few weeks.

Breakfast-Eggs, juice and crepes, ahhh finally some food that I can relate to. It is all good, and we meet Marina (Serge's girlfriend and right hand). These two are cute together. They both are excellent at their jobs and very professional. You can tell they have a heart for the kids they work with and want both the families and children to form a lasting bond. We are blessed to have these two working with us.

Orphanage-After breakfast we head to the orphanage with another lady from the US, Nancy, who is also here for an adoption. The staff at the orphanage are very nice. We get to watch Nancy meet with her child, a little girl, and it is moving. (her situation is different. She knew who she was adopting prior to coming and the girl is a little older and so she has been waiting expectantly to finally meet her mommy. The workers have been telling her for months that "mommy's coming") The meeting is emotional. Robin tears up immediatley and yes even I do as well. Hard not to. To know this little girl will have a new home and a family to love her is incredible. It reminds me of why we go through all of the paperwork, travel and "inconvienences" of adopting-because the "payoff" is worth it in the end.

Now it's on to meet our little guy. He's younger, so he's in a different area of the orphanage. We've seen his picture and he is cute. Always smiling with big brown eyes. Now it's time for the real thing. And it doesn't disappoint. The staff bring him out into a little room and he is of course overwhelmed. (first of all, he sees myself and Serge-I'm sure his contact with males is limited at best) Then there are all these people, men women and another little boy staring at him. Even though his little smile faded from the overwhelming fear, he still is curious. We get to hold him and talk with him (though only for a short period because we have paperwork to deal with) Though he gets nervous and looks for comfort from the staff, he does not have any type of crying fit or excessive panic, and his little cry is so cute. Overall, he displays normal responses to these situations which is a healthy sign. We snap some pictures and get to sit with him, play and touch him. Time to go, we have to now go meet with the doctors, discuss the particulars and then go through the acceptance or rejection process. Of course, we accept.

Then it's on to do some more paperwork and then lunch. We will get to return tomorrow and spend a longer visit with him. For now, we get to check out the town. There's a great little lunch shop down the street. It's great because it's cafeteria style where you can point to the food and they give it to you. Should be foolproof right? Well it is if you realize that the Ukrainians like sour cream in their soups. After sitting down with my captured prey, preparing to eat my bounty I discover a large white glob floating in the middle of my soup. It seems my vegetable soup has a large slab of sour cream floating smack dab in the middle of it. Yuck (I do not like sour cream. Who puts sour cream in anything?). Have to pass on the soup. But at least there's some excellent sausage, chicken Kiev (see Tom Rupp I tried some), rice, mashed potatoes, etc to go around. All of which is very good. Now Robin can eat just about any dish, so adapting for her is easy. But Logan and I are a little more selective (alright we're high maintenance, whatever) Logan tries and enjoys the Kiev. "Just like mom made for me back home", he says.

With full bellies, we head back to our room to rest and get ready for the full day tomorrow. We will get to visit our boy at different times throughout the day while paperwork and such is being worked on. It will be a great time of bonding, for both us and our new little boy. We'll keep you updated in the days ahead. Peace from the other side of the world.