Monday, May 14, 2012

Day 28-Just a Singin' and Dancin'

Maria's View-

So this little dude just amazes me more and more every day... We were in an empty play shed and the music teacher came out with her keyboard to another play shed/groupa across the way.  We could still hear the music so I held Griffin's little hands so that he was facing me.  He stood up and swayed side to side.  My son was dancing with me.  Loved it!  But that's not all.  I know the song well enough now to know what goes with the song as far as actions go.  Today as he danced with me, he started stomping his feet.  That is part of the song and he had no one to remind him to do it, no one was leading him!  And then he let go of my hands and waved his little hands in the air, which is another part of the song!  He did this all by himself!!

When another groupa came over to claim our play shed, we went to our bench.  The song was stuck in my head... I don't know the words so I just sang la, la, la's... When I got to a certain part of the song, Griffin chimed right in and sang a few la, la, la's right on key!  Chris and I both looked at each other in amazement!  This little boy knows so much and it's just trapped inside his little brain and body.  Sadly, we will never have any idea exactly what he knows here because we truly don't know what they do with him behind closed doors.  We will probably never be shown his exact routine.  As a mother, it just feels right to know everything about your child but I won't know much about his first 3 years.  So I'm sure this will be quite the adventure...just learning who he is!  I'm so very excited to watch him grow and learn once we get him home!  It's so clear that Griffin has music within him and that just thrills me!  To hear him sing ON KEY was just amazing to me.  He's got some pretty sweet moves, too... so maybe he will be in show choir one day! ;-)

On a sadder note, he had potty chair bruises on his legs, a super heavy diaper on, and shoes that were way too small today.  I don't think he is being mistreated, though.  I just think this is just a normal way of life here.  I can see how the nannies treat the children and I feel confident that they do their job well... Once we get him home, he will never have to deal with this kind of stuff again.  Until then, I'm just glad he's in one of the better orphanages.

This evening, we gave him another cracker and he was extremely calm.  I believe we have an issue with the bag.  When the empty bag goes away, I can see something start to well up inside of him... If I have the cracker in my hand and the bag is already put away, he's fine when the cracker is gone.   hmmmm.

Well, no news today. <sigh>

Please continue today....Maybe we will have good news tomorrow, if not, we will have to go home.  Also, please pray for Big G.  She hurt her neck, probably just slept wrong, but she was in a lot of pain today and couldn't go to school.  Please pray that she feels much better tomorrow!  Thank you!

Chris's View:

Per a request, I will talk about the cost of living in Griffin's homeland.

Currently, the money for the country we are in, the Hryvnia (pronounced Griv-Na) is trading at an 8:1 ratio to the US dollar, which means that we have pretty good purchasing power here.  For each of our dollars, we get 8 of theirs.  They have several bank notes.  I have seen 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2, & 1 hryvnia notes, and they have various coins, called kopiyok (except the hryvna coin of course), including, 1 hryvnia, .50, .25, .10, .05, .02, & .01.  Their money is very brightly colored, as you can see from the picture, and their coins vary in sizes that are comparable to US coins, to the smallest that are about half the size of our dimes.  It is pretty much a pain keeping up with all the change, so like most US change I get, it has been going into a dish at the apartment, and I will take it to the bank before we leave, or I will buy our dinner with it as our final parting shot to the restaurant that gives us the worst service!  LOL!  Just kidding, though I bet many of you are now plotting some revenge on your less than favorite waiters & waitresses out there now!  Go easy on them ya'll... their job isn't as easy as we think it is!  Here's an idea of what things cost here:

US Dollar
Coke (McDonalds Large)
Egg (per egg, and yes you can buy individual eggs!)
.60 each / 7.20 doz
$0.07 each / $0.84 doz
Shrimp (Frozen Butterflied)
Loaf of Bread (Fresh & uncut)
Pizza (Restaurant)
2 Cheeseburger Value Meals (McDonalds)
Plastic Bag (To bag groceries)
Diapers (70 Pampers)
Candy Bar

Those are just some items that we can recall.  As you can see, somethings are on par with US prices, some are higher (those shrimp were outrageous!), but for the most part, they are lower.  Some perspective is needed though.  The average salary here is about $320 per month and the minimum wage is 669 hryvnia ($83.62) per month.  In fact, we have been told that the police here are paid about $250 per month, so below average, so they are more prone to take bribes to let people off of tickets and things.  Sad, but that's the state of this country.

On $320 per month, you can see why grocery costs are as low as they are.  Clothing prices, however, are not.  We walked the Karavan yesterday and Maria looked at some clothes to see if she could find something for herself for Mother's Day.  Nope!  Jeans were in the $40 range, on sale.  A dress she had been seeing was around $125.  Mind you, this was Esprit... not Dolce or Armani or anything.  They take their fashion seriously here, and those prices show.  It's no wonder we see many people wear the same outfit for several days straight.

For us, we are set up in a pretty nice apartment... 1 bedroom, living room, bathroom with a constant supply of hot water, washing machine (we have to hang our clothes out to dry though), air conditioning (something the Germans just don't get!), with Internet & all utilities included.  This place runs us $60 per night, which is what another adopting family is paying for a hotel room in the City Center.  We pay about $100 per week for our driver to take us back & forth to the orphanage 2 times per day.  We would love to walk the trip to and from the orphanage, but it is a 30-40 minute walk, and it has been ferociously hot!  They have some public transportation, Matrovska buses and a local train like a subway, but it is what got hit by the bombing, so we are avoiding them.  They average about 1-2 hryvnia per one-way trip from what I have seen.

What I have found the oddest while being here is the fact that the 200 hryvnia note is so common, yet many taxi's and shops grimace when they see them.  You would think that if the people here did not like breaking them for tourists and such, the banks would not give them out as freely as they do.  One of our poor taxi drivers looks like he is going to go Chernobyl when he sees me hand him a 200 hryvnia note.  Not much I can do about that though... I gotta spend what I got!

See ya'll tomorrow!

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