Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Outing Adventure

Today Nina and I left the apartment for the first time since Tuesday. The cleaning lady was coming at 11:00 am and we were supposed to be gone. My plan was to go get money, go to the toy store, get something for Nina and then swing by the grocery store and come home. I figured the venture would take an hour.

So at 10:45 we started getting our coats on. Here in Ukraine they are very particular about how you dress children, so I decided to go with the flow and put some extra clothes on Nina. She wore thermal underwear, a turtle neck, a sweatshirt, and a sweater, and 2 pairs of tights. A scarf, mittens, hat, snow pants, winter coat, and her shoes. I of course, was dressed warm and had my winter coat on.

Then came the sling so I can carry her (I considered bringing a stroller, and I am so glad I didn't, there is no way you can push a stroller on this streets when there is snow, no way!) Well, I hadn't thought much about wearing a sling when you have so many clothes on, and quickly realized there was no way I could get Nina right on a hip carry. I had to do a front carry, and if you think about it, even babies get to be too long and their legs get on the way. But that was the only way I was going to be able to carry her.

This I must say, took us about 30 minutes. As soon as we stepped outside and the snow/ice was falling, I realized my plans would have to change. We would go to the grocery store (about a block away) and come back home.

Did I say Ukranians are particular about how to dress their children? Well, they are also very particular about when you take your children out, and today was a day where children simply do not go anywhere but stay home. half a block away a lady approached me to tell me so. I smiled and told her in my poor Russian "I don't understand" and kept walking.

We walked in the store and the couple of ladies at the door gave me disapproving looks. Fine with me. We got our groceries (thankfully they had cheerios! but no bananas, we need to find bananas) As I was paying 3 ladies were talking about us, I could see them pointing at Nina, her feet (she was wearing warm shoes, but no boots, big mistake) and were definitely talking about what a terrible mother I must be.

(Should I actually admit the next part? Sure, I will) So I started to talk to Nina too, in a very sweet voice, I do promise that. "These ladies are so rude Nina! They need to mind their own business, they don't even know how many clothes you are wearing and if they are saying you should be walking well then, they really do need to mind their own business. Can you say rude Nina? Say Rude?"

I hate to admit this, but it made me feel better, and I promise I was just talking to Nina with a sweet sweet voice. I did say thank you as I left :) And now you know that pastor's wives are normal people too!

We walked back home, we were only gone for 15 minutes and the cleaning lady was here. The first thing she said? Something about Nina not being dressed warm enough or that she needed boots. I tried to explain to her she had three layers on her feet besides her shoes, but how do you say that?

She came later and asked Nina if she was cold, I could tell, thankfully Nina told her she was not and well, the girl was sweating! She asked Nina how old she was and when Nina said 3, she told me she should be walking and not carried in a sling, I tried to tell her she couldn't, not sure she understood.

So she cleaned with us here and eventually we started to talk. She realized that Nina spoke Russian, actually, she told me Nina speaks more Ukranian than Russian and she taught me a few words. Then she saw Nina get down and noticed her legs and asked about it. Once I told her Nina had Cerebral Palsy it was almost like I had grown another head, from all the children I could have adopted, why that one? And then it made sense I had her in a sling. So I showed her pictures of our family, and when she saw Nichole and asked if she had Down syndrome, I think she said I was very unlucky and that it was too bad, she was sorry. Sad that here so many people look at children with special needs that way. I told her that we loved it, and that we don't care. (All of this of course, is interpretation and actions and facial expressions)

Overall, she was great because she helped me with some words around the apartment, and she thought my accent was pretty funny. I am pretty sure she asked Nina if she understood her mama, and Nina said no. Well, she will eventually.

She also asked me how old I was and was very surprised when I said 28, she said I looked like a child. Then she also asked me if was pregnant...I hope it was the layers I have on and not that I am looking a little bit rounder around my mid-section. When I said no it didn't even face her, maybe here people do not get offended by someone saying "you have a belly!"

So Nina told the lady she wanted eggs. I made her some. Well, of course I make things different than what she has ever had. Not sure how she has eggs. Also, I need to be careful because evrything I give her she dumps it in her drink. So, she put half her eggs in her tea, yeah, pretty gross. Sometimes she actually eats things like that (like she put in mashed potatoes in her apple juice and actually ate it the other day)

I am thankful we know she likes cheerios, right now that and juice is all she eats. We are out of bananas, or she would have some too. Well, I suppose she has had some soup and she eats that pretty well with some bread in it.

Okay, this is a long post, but this is life for us so far. I do hope the weather gets nicer so we can go get some new toys, we are running out of ideas of what to do and I can only carry her so far with the sling. Not much to do with children here, we really have never seen very many children around.


Randy Heitz said...

Ellen, you are too funny! As long as you can still laugh you are doing great! Isnt' it interesting how those cultural expectations are so different? What do we do in the US that Ukranians would consider strange?
I'm praying for you, Nina and the tax code.
See you soon!

Jodi said...

Yes, Ellen, that was funny! I think I would have done the very same thing too :) I guess I better remember to bring boots and LOTS of warm clothing when we get there next month!

Jodi Lewandoski

Amy said...

I am so impressed with your courage! I know I could not be as brave as you have been in this situation. I can only imagine how the cultural and language barrier make even simple tasks difficult. Please know you are in my thoughts and prayers. I do hope that you will have some good weather and be able to venture out again soon. In the mean time, enjoy this special time with your little girl and continue to keep your humor about things - eggs in tea sounds a lot better than the mashed potatoes in juice. :-)
-Amy Iseneker

Karien Prinlsoo said...

I enjoyed your long post very much. I'm thinking of you constantly and "checking" on you every now and then!
Maybe I should send you some of our warm (no, hot) weather. Hope you get some nice toys when you go out. Do you have a flash light? Then maybe you can play some eye tracking games with her

Jo's Corner said...

Your honesty is refreshing and very funny, too! I love that you took on the challenge of "wearing" your new brave the cold AND the comments, just to get your girl some Cheerios! Maybe you can ask the cleaning girl just how Miss Nina would like her eggs! I'm Praying for Peace in your heart as you wait & wait some more. Enjoy as much as you can. I really enjoyed the video of Nina standing yesterday! You girls are definitely communicating.
With Love from MN. Jo

Nan and Dan said...

I love it! Good thing the babushka's don't know english for rude :)
Amazing that they are so ready to comment and yet they think special needs kids don't deserve a family. so sad :(
You are very brave!!
praying you are home soon!