No kidnappings allowed

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We got our visas!

The embassy official was timely and professional when we picked them up, and Jake and I breathed a sigh of relief.

There was nothing left to do in Ukraine except see the ocean.

The Central Asian country where we live is land-locked, so any opportunity of seeing the ocean must be taken very seriously, even at the risk of sleep loss and insanity.

We found a local car rental company, and were soon on our way south toward the Black Sea.

Challenge No. 1: No car seats.

I realized this was a problem when my cold started cutting off the connection between my brain and my mouth as I attempted to keep three, active boys within reasonable behavioral bounds, two of whom were strapped to me with a car seat belt.

Challenge No. 2: The GPS couldn’t find the place we were staying.

We drove and drove and drove. Although the online map calculators had told me the drive between Kiev and Odessa was 4.5 hours, as we watched the kilometers dwindle at a minute pace between road signs, we realized it was going to more like 7…. or 7.5 …. or maybe even 8.

After dinner at a gas station (ice cream and sunflower seeds, anyone?), the hours added up to 10.

10 hours with a 1 year old strapped to you seems more like 36. But we made it.

Challenge No. 3: The woman at the “resort” where we were staying was nervous we were Americans.

“How did you find us?” she asked Jake nervously. And then (and who knows what she has seen on TV), she asked, “Is this a kidnapping?”

“No,” Jake said, more shocked than anything.

“If it is,” she said, not believing him, “We don’t need it here.”

A few minutes later, she asked again.

He offered to show her the kids’ passports, but she didn’t want to see them.

So …… after staying the night, we decided to head somewhere else.

Our time at the Black Sea was truly a gift from God for our family. We all loved the ocean and, since we were only staying 2 days, we made the most of it.

The best quote was from Starfish, who immersed himself in water and had to be pulled out still sputtering by Jake.

“I’m not a fish,” he said. “I’m just a little guy.”

Click on any of the images below for a slideshow with captions.

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