Thursday, September 11, 2008 - This morning Arri and Lucinda Milne met our translator Natalie and picked up the orphanage director, Viktor and did some shopping. Each family "donates" some money to the orphanage and Viktor prefered to go shopping and buy some things that they needed. They picked up rugs for the main sitting room and a new vacuum. The rest of the money will go for other incidentals.
While they were gone, Brent and I did some shopping and just hung out at the apartment. After we had a scrumptious macaroni and cheese lunch (made with buttermilk because we couldn't read the Ukrainian label!) we went to the school. Then Arri, Natalie, the boys and I took a taxi to Artem and Sasha's grandmother's apartment. She wanted to meet us and invited us for dinner which was very nice of her.
She lives in a 3 bedroom apartment that she is remodeling so it's in some disarray but very comfortable. Her daughter Irena (Ira) and Ira's son Bogden (2 years old) were there and Irena's husband Vladamir and Maxim were still working and showed up a little later. The grandmother made a lot of food including bread with caviar, pickles, tomatoes, Ukrainian borsk soup (it was very good), mashed potatoes with liver (Arri couldn't get herself to eat it), eggplant and after stuffing ourselves with that, she brought out a big plate of crepes filled with cheese. They were excellent! For desert they had watermelon, grapes and Arri brought a nice Ukrainian Torta (cake). I'm still stuffed hours later!!
We talked about many things and asked about the boys' father (this was their paternal grandmother). They said he died 2 years ago of cancer which didn't correspond to the court records but it doesn't really matter. The father was an agriculturist and apparently, was very well to do in their town with a big farm. We asked about the boys' mother but they don't have any contact with her. Maxim mentioned that he went to see the mother this past spring and helped her plant her potatoe garden. Nothing else was said of her. We also asked to see pictures and we took pictures of many of their photographs so even though the quality isn't great, we have a few baby pictures and other photos of their family.
It was a long but nice day to meet the boys' family. The little boy Bogden really loves Artem and Sasha and wouldn't leave them alone throughout the whole dinner. He kept pulling Sasha's hair and laughing. Artem and Sasha were very good to Bogden which was nice to see. Ira also wants us to visit her house before we leave so we'll see if we have time for that. One other thing we thought was different is that they left the T.V. running the whole time in the room on an MTV type of channel. It wasn't our place to ask her to turn it down.
Before going to the grandma's house, we had a celebration for Artem Milne's birthday and it's also my birthday today. Carolyn Milne brought a cake mix from the States and made a nice cake. We didn't have time to eat it but the kids at the school snarfed it down! These are great kids and you can't help but really grow to love all of them. Now we know why Nanette and Vern have worked so hard for so many years to find homes for these kids! There are several boys here I wish we could take with us. They're good kids but with very little future. God bless them.