Monday, September 30, 2013

Sept 30 - Forever Memory

Lasting Memory; something I will always remember are the street vendors who set up their tables and wares each day and by days end took it all down again. Next morning as sure as day breaks they were there setting up again.

Sept 30 - Joe Camel

Joe Camel is still big name in Europe. In Germany they have Joe Camel smoking lounges in the airport. Here they have these packs displayed in bigger format then their own brands.

Sept 30 - Booked for Red Eye

Visas and boys passports all here in our possessions the travel agency has flights booked that have us getting up at 2am tomorrow morning to make our 5:45am flight. At this point it no longer matters; could be at midnight and we would be ready. The nice part of these early flights is you touch down at your destination at mid afternoon instead of late in the evening.

Sept 30 - Rude Awakening

So happy for this morning despite our prepaid phone jolting us awake. Well, being it Monday and a chance to hear about status of fingerprints approval I scrambled to find the phone and answer it. Great, it was Olga our coordinator and she must have been awake for quite a while already because she had already phoned the embassy to find out our fingerprints had been approved, arranged us taxi and was going to meet us on way out the door! Within two hours we were all dressed, fed, gone through our stack of papers with Alla (she came by during breakfast) and on our way to Embassy to pick up our visas for the boys. The embassy visit was like 10mins and we have everything set. Back to apartment we went. Now we book flights for home. Hopefully we can find four flights for home tomorrow. Otherwise it will have to be Wednesday.
O yeah, the stress is off now. We can book flights in a few hours when our US travel agency opens and plan how we pack up in the time frame we have left, making sure to utilize reduce use as much of our supplies we have on hand without buying more.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sept 29 - Feeding the City Workers

Feeding the Kiev City Workers; these pigeons are among the best workers in Kiev. All hours of the day and all days of the week they are seen cleaning the streets, picking up morsels and scraps behind the messy slobbish tourists. Imagine the mess under restaraunt tables and park benches, along streets were it not for these flocks of workers. They never organize strikes or complain about wages, their not unionized, they don't require ObamaCare, they don't fight for food stamps or beg on street corners. Their street smart and savy; just ask the twins they tried catching one; despite the pigeons coming within inches to peck the bread from boys hands they couldn't catch them as the birds always flitted away at the last moment. This was the twins highlight of afternoon; some guy at a vendor stand gave the boys bread to feed to the pigeons.

Sept 29 - Coffee to Go

Street Vendor: these portable street vendors are one if the most prosperous on the street. From a business standpoint, at the end of the day he closes the cover, unplugs the cord from the street connection and drives home. At home he cleans the machine, empties the coffee grinds, replenished supplies and next morning he heads back onsite. This operator told me his boss owns six such stands and its a very lucrative business. Imagine how little overhead is involved, all cash sales and no paper trail. This is just one example of the street level entrepreneurs hawking their services on the street.

Sept 29 -Welcome Merry Sunshine

Independence Square statue: first sunshine in several days. Was 10 C out today; beautiful weather. Tourists were out in full force today.

Sept 29 - Post Card

Post card: a beautiful restaraunt out in independence square. We hung out in the square for 2hours this afternoon; the boys watched the fountain, ate ice cream, chased the pigeons, watched tourists and most of all fed the cities most prominent workers at quitting time.

Sept 29 - New Menu

New Supper Menu: spaghetti, sauce with hamburger meat and veggies. Vickie, them peas we never made are them pale green great tasting ones. Boys first time with this menu and both enjoyed it without coaxing.

Sept 29 - Snips

Today's lesson: snipping shapes drawn on colored paper.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sept 28 - Weekend Festivities

Every weekend the stage gets setup for some concert or event; today's event was something where they taught people to dance. They demonstrated the dance and instructed the crowd over the loud speakers with music to accompany it. Looked very lively. Not sure why the theme was pink.

Sept 28 - Tell Story

Ask sis to tell story about these two pics. Only she qualifies. If she doesn't tell the story then at least she has them for fond memories.

Sept 28 - Ukrainian "spotless"

The cleaning lady cleaned the apartment stairs and landings today. Their version of making it "spotless" includes one or two pails of water heavily scented with cleaner and using a mop to smear it around the 14 flights of stairs and 8 landings. You see in my attached pics stairs and landing are wet and smell better temporarily. However walking on it feels like they haven't cleaned anything. What she did is the equivalent of spitting on your handkerchief and attempting to clean a pig who just wallowed in a mudhole. To make these stairs and landings "spotless" would require 60 hours labor, 1,200 gallons of warm water and 53 gallons detergent.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Sept 27 - Class is underway

This mornings classes included math, science & art. I didn't know that an android tablet could do such useful stuff as this but these guys spend several minutes a day doing math, number, alphabet pattern activities, puzzles, creating objects from pieces etc. At least their getting some valuable class time in every day.

Sept 27 - Plan now each day has to include

As to avoid going nuts here, we now have to implement a new rule and that is that every day we have to go somewhere and see something we have not seen or do something we haven't done here. So tomorrow if other US family that's stuck here just like we are, doesn't want to meet up, we go visit the zoo via the metro. Maybe for Sunday we should fly to London and watch the Vikings play the Steelers then come back Monday night just in time to hear from US side about progress. Weekend would just to kapoof if we did that.

Sept 27 - Danger Zone Entered....

Bad News Alert: the 2 hour window (7-9am Washington DC time coincides with the 3-5pm time here) of opportunity just closed with no news meaning we won't get to travel home this weekend. Groan - it now moves to hearing from them on Monday which means we have to be here another 3 days to hear from them. I'm now entering the "mental danger" zone of going crazy here. Gonna take some creativity to spend the weekend and make it go quicker.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sept 26 - Paka Vickie

According to Flight Aware, Vickie is now landed in Minneapolis and getting picked up by mom and dad about now. So the crew here in Kiev is down to us four. Sis (Vickie) did a great deal of cooking here for the crew, looks like I'm going to have to get out my bbqing skills now that she's gone. Hoping to not miss her delicously prepared chicken, sliced taters and cooked veggies, we prepared some our selves last night. 
PS my dad just let me know they met vickie at the airport so she made it home safely.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sept 25 - Goose & Goslings

The goose and her goslings. Sometimes they get in a mode and don't notice they are following mom everywhere...

Sept 25 - Highly Coveted Pics

Highly Coveted: ever since coming here I've tried taking some good pics of one of these ancient rear engined vans. I've seen quite a few but they were always moving. Finally walked past one on the street today.

Sept 25 - Dine Out

Eating out on the town: finally went out for a meal again. Haven't done it for over a week now. There was a Ukrainian Buffet right outside our other apartment so we walked there for noon lunch. They serve perogies of all types, various borsch style soups, baked goods etc in a buffet style setting. Even if you take like eight different items, your bill is only like $5 each. Super delicious home style cooked food. The twins we're not used used to eating in such a busy environment; they were so busy looking at everything and everyone, tapping to the music they didn't eat for the first 20mins. Finally we got them to focus enough to eat and rest of meal went quite well.

Sept 25 - Living Room / Rec Room

Dowmstairs - Living Room: our main activity room downstairs is here. This is where the twins have pillow fights, ride the stroller, play tag, hide and seek behind the furniture, or do activities on the coffee table. Its also the main clothes drying line. So far haven't bothered getting the fireplace going. We use the electric powered oil filled heaters. I like the idea of 220v, stuff seems to work better and more efficiently then then 110v we use at home.

Sept 25 - Twins Room

Downstairs - Twins Room: this room has shelving in every nook just like all the others. It smells like our old apartment. I'm reluctant to put the boys all squeaky clean to bed here but what can you do.

Sept 25 - Downstairs Bathroom 2

Downstairs - Bathroom 2: despite the cramped setup that houses a Bosch washing machine, a sink, a jacuzzi, I enjoyed my first ever jacuzzi experience. The first time I out the boys in the jacuzzi and turned the jets on they jumped up from their sitting position, sopping wet, quick as a flash and ran over to me and climbed up... standing there with two scrawny, naked, wet rascals clinging to me for dear life... I was not impressed.

Sept 25 - Downstairs Hallway

Downstairs - Hallway: this is main entry hallway. Big heavy solid wooden doors with nary a gap. Most doors here had to be lifted, jiggled or jammed to make them latch.

Sept 25 - Den / Darkroom

Downstairs - Den / Darkroom: this dimly lit room with dark wooden bookshelf cabinetry spamming three walls of it, while a big couch set made up the reading space and living area in it. Most of us just hurried through this room because it was so dimly lit and looked filthy to boot.

Sept 25 - Downstairs Bathroom 1

Downstairs - Bathroom 1: cramped affair with a shower head on hose that we still don't know what its used for. The toilet is totally loose. It just sits on a hole on floor so be careful.