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Kevin's Thoughts!

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The rebirth…

I like being married and started the process of looking for a new wife after filing for divorce. For me, that filing wasn’t a threat to my now-ex, it was a conclusion. I immediately started to move on. Alas, one driver was my desire to have a larger family. At the time, I was almost 45 years old, and this made things difficult:

1) I wanted a compatible partner
2) I wanted a woman who could safely bring new children into the world without extreme medical help
3) I wanted them to be of my genes, so adoption was out

QED: I needed to find someone about 15 years younger than I was.

I tried the Match.com, Yahoo personels, etc. and rapidly got depressed. Either the ladies considered me a “dirty old man” for looking for such a young woman, or it became obvious they would bless me with their presence so long as I would pay all the bills, or they outweighed me by 60+ lbs once I actually met them (amazing what you can do with a camera). Although hardly athletic, I’m not obese, and didn’t want such a partner. Did find some beautiful, younger, women on the sites – just to discover they were Russian or Ukrainian scammers.

Still, beauty does tend to get attention, and this lead me into the complex world of oversea dating.

My lawyer had promised me the divorce would be complete by September of 2004, October latest, and I despretely wanted to get out of town. So I spent a LOT (3-4 hours a day, 10 on weekends) of time trying to learn how to tell sincere ladies from scammers. I focused on Ukraine for a few reasons: Its small enough to get anywhere in a day (unlike Russia, that is 11 times zones from end-to-end), and there appeared to be almost as many ladies registered as in its much larger neighbor. Finally, it wasn’t a problem to get a 5 year visitors visa, something virtually impossible for me to get for Russia.

So… off I went to Kiev in mid-December, which turned out to be in the middle of their Orange Revolution. It also turned out to be a week before my actual court date. Oops! Anyhow, the trip was educational, and I learned more about scammers.

Some rather old post copied from another blog, introducing myself and talking about our early relationship.  Slightly edited.

—— From April of 2006 ——First some background:

When I first thought about seeking a wife in the FSU, I spent 4-6 hours a day for 3 months reading everything I could find on the web. I thought I was prepared. I finally put some money down at one of the more popular sites and wrote some ladies. One of the first was a scammer… within 3 e-mail she proclaimed deep love, declared me her long lost soul mate, and talked about loving me on every horizontal, vertical, and tilted service in my house. The adventure had started with a significant reality check.

I went to Kiev in December of 2004 to play tourist by day and meet ladies at night. Did both reasonably well, but also met one lady who was mostly interested in expensive dinners and the adventure of seeing an American man. She was not serious, although it took a month or so after I returned to understand that fully.

About that time, a professor I knew via work asked if would be willing to go a bit farther east than Kiev. I agreed, presuming a good reason, and he introduced me to his friends sister: Evgenia (Evia to me!). One month of daily e-mails and we made plans to get together. Two month, 640 e-mails later, I found myself in Omsk, Russia, 12-hours and 12,000 miles from home. I spent a week with her, her daughter, and her family (parents, sister, and niece) It was wonderful. On the last day, we filled out the K-1 paperwork as we had previously agreed to do if the visit went well and agree to vacation together over the summer to confirm our feelings, but there was little doubt. After all those e-mails, there were no secrets between us – the visit was just to confirm “chemistry” – of which there was plenty. However, we wished to remain practical. If over the months between, or during the summer vacation, either of us had doubts, we could always cancel the K-1 application. If things worked out, we would be that many months ahead of the game.

The K-1 was filed within 2 weeks of my arrival (we had to coordinate a few more documents). The summer vacation was even better (and a lot warmer!) than my trip to Kiev. In December of 2005, Evia and Nastya joined me her in the USA. In February 2006, we were married. Its now almost May, and all is going great!

I think key to our success so far started out with this being an “arrangement”: My profressor friend had known Evia and her family for over 5 years and vouched for both. There was no fear of this being a scam, no concerns of sincerity, etc. The speed this all happened is undoubtedly due to the huge amount of e-mails we exchanged – sometimes 10 a day, with a few being 8-10 pages long. I was easily spending 6-8 hours a day writing or reading e-mails – and losing weight compliments of the lack of time to eat and sleep. I had no idea how she was keeping up – and later found out she was tag teaming with her mother: Her mother would print the e-mails in the morning, get them to Evia who spent every free moment hand writing replies, and then got those replies back to her mother to keyed them into e-mails to me during the evening. The 12 hour difference actually helped us, for it made for a good daily “cycle” of e-mails.

Of course, we talked on the phone as well. Evia has a good English vocabularly, but is shy about talking. She can read and write English well (although not at native speeds). We agreed early on that anything important, like travel arrangements or figuring out mis-understandings, would be done via e-mail. That too helped.

—- Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006 —-

Great news: not only is everything going wonderfully, we are expecting a baby girl in October! (At least the best guess based on one ultrasound is that its a girl – I’ll keep everyone posted!).

Most of my coworkers think I am insane, starting a seconds family in my late 40s, but we are happy about this and that is what counts. Honestly, most of my coworkers are looking forward to their kids finishing college (as I am for my 15 & 18 yo daughters) and then moving on to retirement. Compliments of my divorce, I’ll be working another 20 years anyhow, so that isn’t as much of a driver to me.

Evia’s English is progressing well. She is taking ESL classes at the local community college 2-3 times a week, based mostly n when I manage to get home from work. She does not drive, and doesn’t want to learn right now, so is dependant on me for transportation. I would have thought this would be a BIG problem, but surprising it is not. Yeah, occassionally I need to talk a half-day off for things like Immigration visits (we recently had their biometrics taken), but most other things we accomplish in the evenings or weekends. It helps a LOT that she never complains if we are out of anything, she seems to just accept such temporary inconveniences as nothing more.

I am seeing Evia open up communication wise. This past weekend her and my father chatted for about an hour. She has yet to engage in conversation with the neighbors, but I suspect that will happen soon. We had a couple with four kids move in next door, and the lady only works part time, so hope Evia will make a new friend.

Nastya just turned 11. We had a nice party for her with a few neighborhood kids. She has been in school since January and talks pretty good English now – enough to function in any environment.

—- Monday, 12 June, 2006 —-

Found out today that I’m off on a 3-day business trip, leaving on a Monday night, returning Thursday night soon. This will be our first time apart since Evia and Nastya arrived mid-December.

The thought of not having her by my side is rather disturbing – more than I suspected it would be. I just wrote her e-mail to let her know – I wonder what her response will be? Of course, we have talked about the fact that I occassionally travel on business (a few times a year), this is just our first experience. Probably not a big deal, but she will be something like 26 weeks pregnant, and she doesn’t drive – so she will be house bound for those days. She will also miss an entire week of ESL classes (she normally attends at least 2 of the 3 nights classes are available).

Hmmm, what else is new? We are about 4 weeks away from her mother and niece coming to visit. They will be here in America for 5 weeks. I’m a bit concerned about medical expenses – her mother has some heart and blood pressure issues. She is under doctors care now in an attempt to avoid the need for any when she gets here. All the on-line insurance companies I’ve found have strict “no pre-existing condition” coverage, so I guess we are just going to have to hope no issues come up.

—- Monday, 02 July, 2007 —-

Wow! Over a year since I posted. Guess I’m not that hot of a blogger. Well… lets see…

Of course, the big news was the birth of Alexandra Gabriel Carpenter on October 10th, 2006. She is now almost 9 months old, crawling like crazy, standing without holding onto things briefly, and has two beautiful lower teeth and her vampire teeth (Evia says thats my fault for making her watch the Blade movies while she was pregnant).

Nastya has turned 12. We had a party but forgot candles. I was was quite surprised, and pleased, when Evia when around to several neighbor’s home searching for some at the last minute. Far from speaking fluently, at least her confidence is improving. We still have some language problems, but are managing. Nastya, having been her over a year-and-half now, is speaking fluently – with only an occasional request for a word.

Last summer we Evia’s mother and niece over for 5 weeks. That was quite pleasant. Amongst many other things we went to a conversation area to walk in the trees and see a small local river. Of course, Nastya and her cousin wanted to go in. Of course we did not bring bathing suits. That apparently wasn’t considered an issue. They just took off their shoes and walked in. Evia and her mother followed. Against my instinct, they made it clear that I was being silly by not being willing to strip to my shorts and join them.

That raises another issue: My Russian family appears to be much more comfortable with their bodies than I am. I suspect that is highly cultural difference. My then new 14 year old bra less niece thought nothing of jumping into the river in a t-shirt. My wife doesn’t understand why I’m not comfortable bathing with our newborn daughter. She laughs when I complain of naked baby photos and points to photos on her forum of 12 year old Russian boys taking baths with their baby sisters. I’ve managed to convince her to throw a robe on (but only when she leaves the bedroom) before walking around the house naked. I’ve even managed to convince her that going outside with just that robe on isn’t appropriate. Lets not even talk about breast feeding in public – where she thinks Americans have simply ridiculous issues. Somehow, I think their culture is better, but its amazingly difficult to overcome the way one was raised.

Evia did manage to get her driving permit several months ago. The first time she relied on a “cheat sheet” one of her Russian friends gave her – and failed the test halfway through. We laughed about it and she took the process a lot more serious the next time. That said, in several months, she has logged perhaps a dozen hours behind the wheel. This is going to take some time… She did mention she hoped to practice in her Dads car when we go out to the Russian countryside.

Suppose that brings us to the next big event: We are going to spend 3 weeks back in Siberia soon. We will have a Russian wedding reception for her friends and family (something I’ve encouraged, something her female Russian friends view as a sign of my insanity), and have the baby Christened. We will fly into Moscow, swing by one of her friends that lives there, spend about 8 hours touring Moscow, and then hop on a 41 hour train ride to Omsk. I’ve never been on a cross country train – I’m looking forward to it. We will fly back to Moscow from Omsk when the vacation is over.

Evia and I have been spending weekends looking for a piece of ground in the local countryside we can build a dacha on. I’ve been toying with either building such a cottage, or building a nice small retirement house. For some reason, I’ve had a hard time getting her comfortable with the idea of “built once” vs. “build dacha” then “build retirement”. She finally found the root of the problem this weekend. As usual, it was cultural. Apparently in Russia, when possible, people build BIGGER retirement homes in the country than their primary homes. Family, and particularly grandchildren, we often come and spend the summer at their grandparents home. Here, of course, people often build SMALLER homes for retirement, acknowledging the kids are gone, and helping to reduce expenses for heating, cooling, taxes, etc. Fortunately, that makes this immediate decision easier – cottage it is!

Hmmm, think thats about it. Oh, one more thing: For a month or so we have been trying for child #2. Evia wanted to have the kids about 18 months apart and/or a March baby. This was strong enough that she didn’t care if she couldn’t drink at our upcoming reception – in fact she thought it would be nice to inform people then. Unfortunately, we did a “First Response” test this weekend and it was negative. She was a bit upset, but mostly because she has been taking the mini-pill since Gabby (Alexandra) was born and now it appears there was little reason. She hates taking pills… In any case, we bought a “3 pack” so will test again after we return. Maybe the train ride will be more successful than anticipated (nah, can’t really say that. She has made it clear that we will be quite busy on that train trip!).

— Dec 20, 2007 —

Evia is officially 9 weeks, 5 days pregnant as of today. Gender is yet unknown… at this point it has a head area, arm buds, a beating heart, and a yoke sak. Rather cool to be able to see all that at this point.