Thursday, May 24, 2007

Andrew and Anna

I just got back from speech with Andrew. His last day is next week. At his annual IEP meeting the school suggested cutting his services back to once a week instead of two. Granted, he is doing well, but I expressed my concern about him regressing over the summer. As a compromise, we agreed to have him in speech twice a week for the first quarter so that he can transition down to once a week and make up for any lost time over the summer. I am so glad they agreed to this.

John and I have decided to have Anna repeat the 2nd grade next year. She is making great progress but she is still struggling because of her understanding of the English language. This is also the best time for her to improve her classroom behavior skills before she jumps into a classroom with 32 kids. Right now she is in a class with only 20 students and is able to get more one on one attention which has been very good for her. One more year of this small classroom atmosphere is going to benefit her greatly. Sure, we teetered back and forth with our decision but once we talked with Anna's teacher and the principal we knew it would be in her best interests. They are supportive of our decision and most importantly, Anna is in agreement and understands how beneficial this choice will be for her. She is excited at the idea of being near the top in her class (which I believe she will be) instead of struggling near the bottom. I am so proud of her optimistic outlook!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Mother-Daughter Retreat

I am so glad that I took my daughters on this retreat. It had a fun western theme. I enjoyed watching my girls have fun as they experienced their first sleepaway camp. Though we stayed in the least expensive cabin, my girls thought it was the best. Sveta even commented on how nice it was. Bless her heart.

Jana Alayra did worship. She was really awesome. You should check out her website at My girls loved her! They even got to get up on stage to help her with the hand motions to one of her songs. Anna was especially excited when I called her a Christian rockstar. When we first got home all she could talk about with her brothers was how she met a Christian rockstar.

During gametime on Saturday, Annalyn won a can of Pork & Beans and a box of Crunch and Munch while Julia opted to rope a steer. As we ate lunch, we saw a snake swimming in the creek, a big fat frog laying on a rock, and fish as long as my forearm. It was nature at its best.
Though the picture above shows five girls enjoying a paddle boat ride in the pond, it didn't start out that way.

Originally, six of us piled into one of the paddle boats (including myself). As I tried to steer it, I realized that it only wanted to go in circles as we drifted out into the middle of the pond. Frustrated, I tried to steer the boat by manually guiding the rudder only to end up with a freezing cold hand. The girls were quite tired from pedaling, so I finally grabbed onto another boat who pulled us back in. Later, as we explained that the boat must be broken, one of the camp workers took it for a test drive. It worked perfectly, as he informed us that it must have been weighed down with too many people. Thanks alot, I thought. Are you calling me fat?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Fishies that bite

My mounds of clothes are gone now. After sorting through all of them I ended up donating 8 huge bags. Unbelievable after you see just how much we still have. I think I could clothe at least four more girls.

Today was William's fieldtrip. We went to Weibe Farms. We learned all about stone fruit, and what goes on in a packing shed. It was quite interesting. I was very proud of William for at least trying the peach muffins that we had for snack.

Tomorrow will be a busy and exciting day. I am going with Anna on her fieldtrip and then we are going on the mother-daughter retreat. As we packed, I could tell the excitement was building for the girls. Sveta asked about swimming because I had them pack their swimsuits. Since the camp has a small pond, I told them that they could go swimming in there.

Sveta of course asked, "In there sharks? That bite?"

"No," I told her, "Just little fish that bite your feet like the kitty."

Sveta's face at that moment was absolutely priceless so I decided to play further with her. As I told her again about the biting, little fish, I went around pinching her and Anna's feet just like the fish would. She saw me smile and Anna knew I was kidding, but Sveta had to still inquire further to make sure I was just playing with her.

"No, you just kidding." she retorted, smiling as she encouraged me to tell her more about the things that bite in the pond. I continued to make things up as Annalyn joined in.

"And don't forget the octopuses Sveta, that come and suck your face like this." I said as I pretended to be an octopus by placing my spread out hands over their faces and making slurping noises. The girls busted up laughing. I think I enjoyed myself as much as they did!

Tonight as I rallied up the younger boys to brush their teeth I had one more good laugh as Jonny came running into the bathroom screaming, "No poothpase, no poothpase!!!!!!!!"

Monday, May 14, 2007

Happy Mother's Day - Belated

I hope all of you mothers out there had a wonderful Mother's Day. Maybe some of you woke up to sweet, little kisses planted on your cheeks, or breakfast in bed disguised as overflowing bowls of cereal. Maybe some of you were presented with flowers and a nice card. Or some of you may have got really lucky and actually got out of cooking a meal and went out to a restaurant instead. No matter how you celebrated this Mother's Day, I just want you all to know that you are valued and appreciated by your children and by God, even if you didn't feel like it. Have a wonderful week!

I would love to write more today, but I have to sort through clothes instead. We have been blessed with five or six families giving us hand-me-downs and now I have clothes coming out of my ears. Literally, I have them in piles going up the stairs. This has been a growing problem for months now, and the clothes just won't stay in the closets anymore. The girls keep going through them (afterall isn't that what you do with hand-me-downs) and now that the clothes have gotten loose, they are roaming everywhere.

Thankfully, I am able to pass the extras down to other families or take them down to our local church donation store. They never go to waste.

Friday, May 11, 2007



I started my morning off with good ol' sweetened condensed milk drizzled over a buttered waffle. Yumm - O as Rachel Ray would put it. One of my all-time decadent treats since my little Anna turned me on to it many months ago. So simple, yet oh so delicious. They love to describe the near and dear things they remember eating in the Detski Dom. Condensed milk spread on bread and poured on top of kasha is just one of the many things they enjoyed eating and I love that I am able to provide a comfort food for them by merely opening a can.

E Bay

Adam has discovered E-Bay. He just made his first, very own purchase even after I tried to dissuade him. He rationalized his $50 shoe purchase as something he needed rather than admitting that he wanted them because of the brand.
That's ok. At least he heard me out, asked permission, told me I had actually made him rethink his decision, and went ahead and bought them anyways. Hey, it's his money and one less pair of shoes I have to buy.

Amtrack fieldtrip

Sveta is going on a field trip today. She is probably boarding the Amtrack train as we speak. She was so excited this morning --- I'm sure she is going to have a blast! I even packed her hot Cheetos! Since this is her second time going on this fieldtrip (she is repeating 2nd grade) and I already went with her last year, I decided to give her some freedom and stay home. Afterall, she is getting to be a big girl as she told me, "Mama you don't have to go with me on train because I am already big. I can go by myself. I will stay with Mr Bartell." Besides, I have two field trips I am going on next week.

Fat lip

Jonny split his lip last night and got a bloody nose. Poor guy. Even after telling him a million times, he went ahead and ran on the wet cement patio ------need I say more. Of course, I didn't have the heart to punish him for not listening ---- sometimes the natural consequence of one's actions is enough.

AA reunion

Tomorrow our family is going to an Adoption Ark reunion in the park. I am so excited. I'm glad AA is doing this because I think it is very important for adoptive families to get together so that they can support each other. I have found that other adoptive families are the only ones that really know what you are experiencing and so getting together to visit and share stories provides an outlet where you can share your joys and struggles of parenting. I have found myself (a couple of times) walking across the street to vent my current parenting woes to my good friend and neighbor who has also adopted only to find her walking towards my house --thus meeting half way.

Mother-daughter retreat

Next week, I am taking my four girls on a mother-daughter retreat. Again, I am so excited that I can hardly wait! I invited two of my friends who have also adopted daughters similar in age. Plus another dear friend who knows all of us and has a six year old daughter too. So a total of 12 of us will be piling into my big van to go up to the mountains for the weekend.
I jumped in the pool yesterday, and it wasn't even that cold!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Starting the day off right

Up down. Good bad. Happy sad. Fun miserable. Peaceful arguing. Funny how I can control how our mornings will be. Amazing how I can help set the tone for the whole day. It just all depends on whether or not I remember to wake up with God. Thankfully I am learning this and remembering to do this. Whenever I remember to say good morning to my Lord and invite him to spend the day with my family things run so much smoother for us.

Thankfully, I remembered to this morning.

Swim Season has offically begun.

Yesterday we went to Grandma and Grandpa's house for swimming and barbecued hamburgers. Boy, does Grandpa make the best! The pool is supposedly up to 87 degrees but I am not ready to test the water yet. My kids on the other hand can't seem to get enough. Maybe this weekend I'll take my first dip of the year. John is already teaching Jonny to swim and I expect he will be official by the end of summer. Go Jonny!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Dolly is a Mama

Four days ago my three daughter's brought a kitten home from school.

"Mom, mom. Look how cute she is." Julia told me this as she brought the kitty out from inside her coat pocket.

"Isn't it soooo cute, Mama?" Anna chimed in.

"Mama, It wants a drink of milk. Can we give it some milk?"

"A man was just giving these kittens out and no one wanted this little grey kitty. I promise. Come on Mom can't we keep it. Please?"

"Mom, please talk to Daddy. We can't just let it go or it will die. I promise. It will die."

"I promise Mom, no one else wanted it. Promise. So can we keep it?"

Boy, do my daughter's know how to get me to say yes. I promise. My husband on the other hand ------well I couldn't answer for him.

First of all you need to realize that I absolutely love animals but my husband isn't really an animal person --------he is highly allergic -------and doesn't like poop in the yard. After many years he finally agreed to take Dolly our dog. One reason being because our daughter Sveta really, really wanted one and we have read how wonderful children with FAS respond to having a pet. A second reason being that Dolly was my late Baboonya's (grandmother's) dog who my grandfather wanted to keep in the family so asked us to take. Thirdly, he promised the children that we could get a dog if it was small, free and nice. Dolly is all three.

So the girls brought this kitty home who I had no problem keeping, but wondered what Daddy would say. I told them that they needed to call him.

"Can't you call him?"

"No. You brought the kitty home, you need to call Dad."

Surprisingly John said yes. I am a very blessed woman, and my children have an awesome Dad.

I was a little concerned about how Dolly would react to this new Kitty, so I got the bright idea of introducing the kitty as Dolly's new baby. It could work.

The kids were skeptical that a dog could take in a kitten, but if it was possible I knew Dolly would be the dog to do it.

I introduced them while holding both of them and I just kept giving Dolly lots of praise each time she would try and smell the kitty. At least she wasn't trying to hurt the baby kitty.

After a while I tucked the kitty into Dolly's bed and told Dolly to go lay down too. I kept doing this every time I saw Dolly get up and I would continue to give her praise and talk sweet to her like I know she likes. After a couple of hours we began to see Dolly licking the kitty and nudging it (I don't mean to refer to the kitty as it, but I still can't tell if it is a boy or a girl) with her nose to keep it in check. Soon the kitty was following Dolly around and the rest is history.

Dolly has a new baby, and she is quite the Mama. She sits close by and watches while her baby eats and only then finishes up what is on the plate. Dolly's ears perk up and she is runs up to the kitty if she hears it so much as meow. Dolly plays with the kitty and tolerates the kitty's playful scratching and biting even when I am sure she has had enough. And the very best part, the kitty rarely cries and sleeps through the night with Dolly laying right next to her. Dolly will even stand over the kitty with her legs apart whenever the kitty tries to nurse.

It really is amazing to see.

What is really special about all of this, is that my girls have a better understanding of adoption and the limitless ability to love God gives us. The kitty didn't come from Dolly's tummy and isn't even the same kind of animal, yet her love for her new baby is very apparent. To her, it doesn't make any difference that she is a dog and the new baby is a cat.