Thursday, November 29, 2007

These are a few of our favorite things. . . .

For fun this evening, Richard and I sat down and made lists of the things we love about Ukraine, the things are glad we brought with us, things we wish we had brought with us and things we missed about home. We thought we would share them with all of you (I am a bit more long winded than Richard, so I apologize in advance for the novel).

Richard's Lists

Things I wish i would have brought
-Fewer pairs of Khakis and more jeans - only brought 2 pairs of jeans, should have brought 4 pairs of jeans and no khakis
-More movies & books - I will have exhausted our movie collection and the three books I brought from home - should have brought more of both because hours in the hotel room are horribly boring.

Things I'm glad I brought
-nice socks - I brought about 7 pairs of smartwool socks, more expensive, but can go a few days before needing a wash. Cotton socks would be horrible. Happy feet make for a happy Richard.
-My Columbia parka - hands down the best thing I have here. Waterproof, warm, windproof, and lots of secure pockets.
-A good quality, large backpack - since I'm the packhorse on this trip, it's nice to have a good backpack. Especially valuable when going to market, since bags cost extra.
-Nice shoes - I brought a pair of nice Salomon leather slip-on type clogs. Warm/dry in the cold, easy to take on/off while traveling, and very comfortable.
-My iPod with in-ear earbuds. in-ear earbuds are the key here... they block out noise on the plane.

Things I love about Ukraine
-The weather - I love the cold, crisp weather.
-The cars - as a big car guy, it's neat to see all the various types of cars, especially those which are not in the states, or are known because of Rally Racing.
-Speaking of Rally Racing, they drive.... differently. Be ready for it.
-The food. While it's not all that different, it's certainly fun to enjoy local dishes. Remember, here a steak is actually pork. Their salads are very good as well.

Things I wish I'd known before coming
-No one wears khakis... in the winter everyone wears black.
-People here aren't jerks, it's just the culture. (no one holds doors, says hello to strangers, etc.)
-People just walk across crosswalks as they wish and expect cars to stop for them, this takes some getting used to.

Things I miss about home
-my washer and dryer
-water I can drink from the tap
-My car - I wish I could drive here... their cars are so small and utilitarian in nature - exactly what I like

Val's Lists

Things I Love About Ukraine
- CHOCOLATE- If you are a chocolate lover, Ukraine is for you! I lost 10 lbs. while I was in Uzbekistan, I will probably gain 10 lbs. here! Such good chocolate
-People- while the big city people aren't as likely to say hello in passing, the people in Artemovsk are wonderful. Everyone is very friendly and always happy to help us.
-Food- most of the food in Ukraine is fresh, hardly anything is processed, and everything we have had is fantastic!
-Driving- although the driving is a bit scary, it is fascinating at the same time
-History- while there are the obvious historical buildings (churches, monasteries, etc.), there is also so much history in the ordinary buildings as well (houses, apartments, etc.). Everything seems to tell a story of the past. To some it may just look like an old building in shambles. To me, it tells as story. . .I wish we had more of that in the US.
-Walking- Everyone walks everywhere and everything is within walking distance. In the US, we couldn't survive without cars because the way our cities and towns are built. Here, the houses and apartments are intermingled with the markets, grocery stores and office buildings, in the US we live in the suburbs and have to drive into the cities to shop, work, go to school, etc.
-Language- I have always loved the Russian language (Ukrainian is not much different). I love to hear it spoken and I have really enjoyed learning what I have. I hope to become more fluent some day.
-Children- I love to see the children, especially when they are all bundled up in the winter gear! The children here are beautiful (of course, I may be a bit partitial since I am adopting a Ukrainian child!)
-Outdoor Markets- As nice as the "one-stop shopping" and "mass production" in the US is, I have really enjoyed shopping at the outdoor markets that seem to go on for miles! You don't feel as much like a "consumer" when you shop the outdoor markets.
-Sleeping in- Stacey, don't hate me for this (because I know you are not getting a lot of sleep with my kids), but I have LOVED the opportunity to sleep in (or at least lay in bed until I feel like getting up). It has been so long since I have been able to do this and I am sure it will be an eternity before I get to enjoy it again!
-Evan- And obviously my favorite thing about Ukraine is my beautiful boy, Evan!

Things I wish I had brought
-Slipper socks- most of the floors are hardwoord or linoleum and in the winter it gets cold walking around without socks. Also, when you enter someones house (or even the orphanage) it is polite to take your shoes off and having slipper socks would be nice to slip onto your feet.
-Long johns- I wish I had a nice pair of long johns to wear beneath my clothes. . .it sure does get cold walking around town!
-Hot chocolate- Richard and I don't drink coffee or tea of which there is an abundance of here and the hot chocolate selection is slim. It would be nice to have a warm drink to enjoy after walking around town!

Things I am glad I brought
-Clothes that I can layer
-Winter coat/hat/gloves
-Boots
-Laptop (for movies, music, e-mail, journaling, pictures, etc.)
-Pictures/videos from home (what can I say, I miss my babies!)
-Books and movies- even though we stay pretty busy visiting with Evan and experiencing Ukraine, there is still a good amount of down time. Books and movies have definitely helped to pass the time.
-Back packs- these were nice to use as carry-on's during travel (since they allow you to have your hands free) and continue to be a nice commodity for shopping, taking things to and from the orphanage, etc.

Things I miss about home
-My children- I know, this is a given, but I miss my children so much! They can certainly be a handful at times, but they are my best friends and greatest joy! I miss waking up to their sweet faces every day, cuddling with them and smothering them in kisses (although the tantrums, attitudes and poopy diapers I can live without!!).
-Water that I can drink from the tap
-Being able to brush my teeth without a cup of bottled water
-My blankie- no, I am not ashamed to admit that I STILL have a blankie. Richard does too. . .that's how I knew we were meant to be. . .and while I know he may not admit that he misses his as well, I know he does! Really, there are worse comfort items we could have!
-Washer and dryer- no, I don't miss the massive quantity of laundry that my family accumulates, but I do miss the ease of being able to throw the dirty laundry into the washer and dryer. Not having these luxury items has definitely given me a new appreciation of them.
-English- While I do love the Russian/Ukrainian language, I do miss being able to understand those around me and I especially miss being able to read the signs, menus, etc.
-Christmas Festivities- I love the holidays and I love watching my children experiencing the holidays. I miss not being there to experience all of the festivities with them.

4 comments:

Shelley said...

Valerie,
I'm SO glad you took backpacks. We were told they would make us stand out, but they were my absolute favorite thing to have while in Ukraine. Have you found the yummy chocolate bars at the market??? I got Masha to help me pick out the one that tasted the most like a Hershey with Almonds....my favorite comfort food!

Cynthia Rieben said...

Hi, I enjoyed your reminiscing about your experience in Ukraine. Many of the things you said -- about the crisp cold, about being able to walk to where you need to go, about the little shops, layering -- reminded me so much of my year in Olomouc, and yes, every building seems to have story. In fact, our chapel in Olomouc is on the second (first) floor of abuilding whose foundations were begun in 1200 AD, on an old cobble stone square. How old a city is Artemovsk?

I'm also glad that you've had time to read and sleep a little more than usual.

Lots of love,
Grandma DD

Valerie said...

Oh Shelley, I have DEFINITELY found the chocolate bars and they are yummy!!! And thank you a thousand times over for suggesting the back packs. I cannot imagine not having them with us. They are the number one most used items we have with us (well, besides maybe our underwear!).

Jess said...

melt some of those yummy chocolate bars in hot milk and you'll have some awesome hot chocolate! JB