This weekend was full.
Full of fun, full of laughs, full of food, and full of lessons learned the hard way. Hence all the laughter.
My cousin Hannah came to stay for the weekend! She arrived on Friday afternoon and we were so excited it was like Christmas Eve on Thursday night. Our first real visitor from afar! Hannah has been in Western Ukraine doing an internship through her University back in Oregon. She arrived in Ukraine in September and leaves in December, so this weekend was our chance to experience Ukraine together. We had a BLAST.
Jed was at Romaniv orphanage with MTU on Friday, so it was up to me to fetch Hannah from the bus and get her back to our house…with all the kids in tow. It might have been a tad intimidating, but I was feelin' good, feelin' confident. I could do this!
When our family travels from Kiev to Zhitomir we take a certain bus that randomly picks up at a metro stop in Kiev and stops really close to our house in Zhitomir. Well, Hannah wasn't taking that bus. She arrive in Kiev via train, so she was going to catch a bus leaving from the official bus station in Kiev. I asked a friend where that bus would drop her and he was pretty sure it would take her straight to the big bus station in Zhitomir.
The kids and I left early so that we could easily navigate the local buses to get to the big bus station. I knew that I knew where I was going, so it was all good. I prepped the kids (listen to Mommy, stay close to Mommy, pay attention to what's happening around you…blah blah blah) and they were doing great! We arrived at the bus station plenty early; we even had time to get a little bread treat at a bakery next door (which was suprisingly filled with meat…not a bad thing, unless you're hoping for sweet. Hehe) All was well…or so I thought. 🙂
I have no idea what Ez is doing in this pic...we had been waiting at the wrong bus station for quite a while at this point...I think he was delirious.
After about 45 minutes I get a phone call from Hannah:
“I'm here! Where are you guys?”
“Oh, we're inside. We'll come right out! Hmmmm I don't see you…where are you? Maybe stand underneath one of the bus stall numbers so we can find each other that way.”
“Okay, I'm standing under number 7.”
“Ummmm…me too. Oh geeeeeeeez.”
Oops. Hahahaha! We were at the wrong bus station! Apparently the Kiev bus station sometimes delivers to the OTHER bus station in Zhitomir. Wa waaaaah. No big deal, except I totally didn't know how to get from one station to the other. So, I told Hannah to stay put, and in good faith, told her we would find her. 😉
I called Jed, who happened to be with locals who also spoke English and everyone was trying to give me directions…it wasn't happening. So, I got all brave and starting asking directions in broken Russian. And, wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, we made it! We found Hannah!!!
It was quite the triumphant moment. Hannah and I were squealing with joy, everyone around was laughing at us, the kids were jumping up and down…it was a sight to behold, I'm sure. 🙂
At that point I was feeling pretty proud of myself. Look at me, all travel-savvy! Errrrr…not quite.
So, I thought I knew the way home from the second bus station, but once we started walking, the street I thought I needed was a one-way. Looking back, we probably should have just returned the way we came, but I think I was too overcome with joy at seeing Hannah to think rationally.
We started walking, and walking, and walking, looking for a familiar landmark. Oy. Struggle. Soon we were quite lost. Ha! The kids were being quite the little troopers until Seth decided he was done walking. He started doing that limp-noodle thing until I was basically dragging him down the sidewalk. If any of you know Seth in real life you know he's a big boy. He's no lightweight. Hannah and I had already taken turns carrying him and Hava quite a bit, and at that point he just really needed to walk. But he wouldn't. He sat down on the sidewalk and started screaming his lungs out. I didn't know what to do, so I did the “Okay, Mommy's leaving..bye bye…” thing (which rarely works with Hava and NEVER works with Seth. He calls my bluff every time) and Seth continued to park it and scream, much to the amusement of everyone passing by. Again, quite the sight to behold, I'm sure.
Enter the Babushkas.
Two little old ladies walked up to Seth and started rattling off in Russian. I'm not sure what they were saying, but they were apparently trying to convince him to stand up. They were tugging at him, pulling at him, talking and talking and talking to him as I stood back laughing way too hard to be considered a good parent. Seth was not havin' it. He only started screaming louder and louder. “Who are these people?? What are they saying? What have I gotten myself in to???” Then one of the Babushkas started digging around in her bag and pulled out a piece of candy. She offered it to Seth- in exchange for him standing up…which worked. OF COURSE! Seth grabbed that candy, stood right on up, wiped his tears, and marched over to Mommy, “I eat my candy now???” OMG.
Hannah and I were dying. We were laughing so hard. Only NOT in the US would a total stranger walk up to your screaming toddler on the street and bribe him with candy. It was amazing. In that moment I was so stinkin' thankful for that Babushka! She saved my life. 😉 I told Seth he couldn't eat his candy till he walked all the way to the bus. Oh yeah, I got some mileage out of that bribe. You better believe it! Oh I love Ukraine.
Eventually we found a bus number I recognized, made it home, and settled in to a cozy weekend of fun with our Hannah.
Stay tuned for the rest of our weekend adventures!