And so it begins, or rather, we’re here! Wow. I wish I had been able to keep current better than I did since so much has happened between now and the last post (May 28). The hotel connection was the worst. The short of it is the kids finished school on June 1st, we successfully cleared out of the Monterey house, lived in the hotel for 2+ weeks, got the visas overnighted at the last minute, said our farewells, drove up to San Francisco with the mini van loaded down like never before(!), attempted to ship it but were turned away due to too much gasoline in the tank, checked into our hotel, Maria Dog got the a-ok at the USDA vet, we successfully shipped the van, checked in our 12 checked bags at the airport, returned the rental van, checked Maria in at the airport, a kind employee retrieved her water bottle from a bag that had already been checked and sent down the conveyor belt (we shoved it in the wrong bag as we cleared out the van in a hurry and they wouldn’t have shipped her without it), and much, much more. Whew!
The flights were: 1) ten hours to Munich, Germany, 2) then two or three hours to Kiev. The kids were troopers! Niya slept on the long, overnight flight. Praise the Lord! The big kids watched movies all night just because they could, we enjoyed hot meals and moist towelettes, good seat partners (the long flight was Aiden with Chris, Adeline with Ellie, Wendy with Niya…2, 2, 2 down one side of the plane with windows.). We were greeted in Kyiv (the Ukranian spelling) by a bus which transported our gaggle of six people, a stroller, car seat, and about eight carry-on bags to the terminal. We felt “watched” and have since learned four kids is a large family and American’s stick out as “different”. More on that later. We made it through with our passports/visas, retrieved all luggage and Maria in her XL kennel successfully and were promptly whisked away by our dear sponsor, Phil. More on that later too. He brought the work van which was able to accommodate us packing somewhat haphazardly in the dark parking lot, nearing 11 p.m. Friday evening. (We left California on Thursday at 9 p.m.)
And that Is how it all started, even though it actually started more in January and we worked towards departure since then. I can now say that moving overseas isn’t for the faint of heart. Chris and I have worked tirelessly for months on end to get it all done. You have to be a team. You must be committed to the effort. Taking one or more small children is no small feat, and should be examined closely. I am glad the big kids are at the age to remember all of this since it is most likely a one time deal. Niya is flexible and happy. For that we are thankful!
At the airport in San Fran before checking anything…. Can you believe we never had to pay for the carts? They were just sitting there in front of the parking spot in the garage. Thank you, Lord! Oh, and yes, I absolutely recommend a car seat for such a long trip. It helped Niya to know her place. Wiggling around wasn’t an option, neither was migrating from seat to seat to visit each family member or stranger. I did loosen the straps more than usual so she wasn’t pinned in one spot exactly the whole time. In addition to the flight beginning after bed time, I think it was the second contributing factor to long, uninterrupted sleep.