ukraine-bioHi, I’m Kim! I’m married to Jed and we have five crazy brave kids. We are the founders of Wide Awake International and live in Ukraine where we serve precious boys and men who live in a rural mental institution in our region. We adopted our oldest son, Vladik, from that institution last summer. Those boys are our 85 other babies, so I guess that makes me a mama of 90. 🙂 In my previous life (pre-Ukraine) I was a homeschooling mommy and an RN at a local hospital in the fabulous state of Oregon. I’m just your average Jesus-loving, justice-seeking, book-hoarding, coffee snob on a crazy adventure. Nice to meet you!

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The alarm goes off at 6am. My morning is a mad dash of shaking kids awake, checking backpacks, finding matching socks, shaking kids awake again, making breakfast, and trying to find a moment to down a cuppa in the chaos. Sound familiar? Yeah, I think it’s pretty much the same morning tune all over the world. First things first though: Bluebell the Wonder Dog needs a walk. Our morning walk is my chance to catch my breath and get my heart and head on straight before the crazy begins. Bonus: the streets are usually empty enough at this hour that I can get away with walking in my PJs.

Most kids here go to their neighborhood school, so there are no school buses. Our kids go to a local private school, so we have to take a small city bus to get there. The buses are JAM PACKED in the morning rush so we squeeeeeeeeze in like sardines and rely on the sturdiness of our neighbors to keep us from falling over. Our littlest usually gets swooped up into the lap of the nearest grandma, so often she doesn’t have to stand. Lucky.



Our kids are the only foreign children around, so the schools have no idea what to do with them. We’ve tried several different schooling options over a couple of years and I think we’ve finally found our best fit. We were about to give up! The school is taught 100% in Ukrainian and is a steep learning curve for all involved, but in this culture that can be so closed, it is the only way we have found to help our children to integrate and not live in isolation. It is wow, so challenging. Our kids are truly brave. They are my little heroes!
Today I spent the morning observing the first grade class. Our seven-year old daughter is in that class (look at her, working so hard!), and we’re trying to figure out if it’s a good fit for our six-year old son as well. He was nervous and overwhelmed and didn’t want mommy to leave, so I got to be a fly on the wall for the morning.

Welp, first grade didn’t work out so well, as you can see. Ha! After a short time it was pretty obvious that this little one needed to come home with mommy. I’m not sure if he needs to be homeschooled for a bit, or if we need to hold off on all schooling for a while…oy. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer for schooling, that’s for sure. Ah well, at least we tried!

On the way home we pass by our neighborhood row of babushkas selling their fruits and veggies. Sometimes you can find good local honey there, along the pails of homemade sauerkraut and beet salad for sale. This is the hot spot for all the neighborhood gossip, FYI.

Overcoming school stress calls for a treat. Thank you Babushkas!

We get our produce off the streets and our meat at the meat market, but for everything else we head to the bigger grocery stores. For the most part I don’t think the grocery stores are all that interesting, but I will say that an entire aisle devoted to mayo still makes me smile every time. Ukrainians LOVE their mayonnaise!

I have a couple hours left before it’s time to get back on the bus to go fetch the kiddos, so it’s a toss-up between grocery shopping, dinner prepping, house cleaning, banking, or laundry hanging. Today laundry won. This is the view from my clothesline. 🙂

There are SO MANY stray cats and dogs in our town. It is truly unreal. Today we found this teeny tiny kitten on the walk from school to the bus stop. After a viber call from the kids to Daddy (who’s in another country right now) asking if they could keep it, and a quick reminder of Daddy’s cat allergy, the agonizing decision was made to leave the kitten next to this puddle so it would have easy access to drinking water. Oh the tears that were shed, worrying about the kitten!

Home again, home again! We made it through another school day and lived to tell the tale. Monday through Thursday a tutor comes to help our oldest kids with their homework, but today is Friday, so we get to live it up and procrastinate on homework till Sunday night. Hehe. We rent a little apartment right now, and this room is our kitchen/dining room/living room. I didn’t clean it for you because…well…we are a family of seven in a little apartment. The struggle is real, my friends.

The day ends with a FaceTime call to the ones we love.  My husband Jed, and our son Vladik are in England right now, so we called to say good night. I am so thankful for FaceTime and Skype and all the different ways we can stay close to family while we are apart. It definitely helps make this Global Life a little easier.

Good night from Ukraine. I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into our little corner of the world. Our lives here are so very different than I ever imagined they’d be, but I know that this is just the right place for us. It’s the home of our hearts and I’m so thankful to be on this journey.


This Global Life | Day 19: Ukraine |