Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Video of Anastasia and Paul's Adoption

They are home now. Our journey to make them a part of our family is done...

it is time to end this blog and pick back up on our family blog at

Smiles and Trials. Come join us over there and continue reading about Anastasia and Paul along with the rest of our family.

But first, please enjoy this video of our journey in Ukraine.

What To Expect

Many people wonder what to expect with a newly adopted child. Well I think it would be unfair to assume that all children will act the same way but I think it is fair to say that you can expect some or all of the following:

Lots of oohs and aahs over things that you take for granted.

Toilet paper in the waste basket, poor hygiene skills, and not flushing.

No sense of ownership, no concept of what is other people's belongings. Lots of touching things they shouldn't.

Poor table manners. Eating with fingers, licking the serving utensils, wiping hands and face on arms and clothing, pushing dishes to the center of the table when done, talking with mouth full-- however don't all of our kids do this at some time or another.

Use of bad language either because they have not been taught or think you cannot understand them. Often they are frustrated and will use bad language as a way to vent.

Lack of eye contact. Hesitant to trust that you can meet their needs. Confused that they are expected to follow directions from "new parents" who don't even speak their language.

Picky eating or overeating. Possible hiding food in pockets or in room.

Inappropriate interactions with siblings at first. Either too rough or too touchy feeley because they don't understand yet that these other kids in the house are actually their siblings now-- not just potential friends to have crushes on or decide to not like.

Not wanting to wear a seatbelt because it is uncomfortable and tight.

Not shutting doors when they should and opening others when they should knock first.

Scared of pets because they haven't been around them before.

I am sure I forgot a few things so feel free to chime in, but for the most I think it is safe to say that if you expect these things and prepare ahead of time how you are going to handle them should they come up, you will get through them. As for us, we have had our fair share of these issues-- but not all of them.

We are being consistently firm since a few of these things are habits that won't die-- but overall we are incredibly blessed with our two newest children. They are troopers, they are quick to forgive and forget, and they are eager to do everything their siblings do.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sixteen Forks

These are our forks. Over the course of our marriage-- seventeen wonderful years-- we have acquired many different sets. To some it may seem a bit odd having so many mismatched silverware, but to me-- it suits me just fine. No embarrassment when company is over... no feeling to go out and replace my silverware with one new complete set.... I am quite happy with my forks. Now granted, I am not too happy when I get one of the forks with a bent prong-- but we deal with that too and just bend it back in shape.

As I was setting up the kitchen island for a dinner buffet one evening and carefully counted out sixteen forks, I noticed how much our forks resemble our family. Some are long, some are short, each have a unique and beautiful design different than the other, some have a stubborn, bent prong-- but all are needed because if we were a fork short one of our family members would not eat. Well not literally because of course we would get another one, but you get the picture. Without one of our children, we would be missing something too.

I even remember (for the most part) when and how we got each fork. Some came in our wedding set. Some came from my Grandmother when she passed away. Some came from a friend passing along their extras. Some came as a birthday present. And a few have just showed up at our house and we have decided to have them stay.

For some reason, they make me think about how our family is a mix of all different people brought together to make up a family.

I look at our forks and they make me smile.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A Way to a Child's Heart Is Through Their Stomach

Food is a big deal around here. Especially dinner. Anastasia and Paul are right by my side when I begin dinner preparations. They especially get excited when they see whatever meat I have gotten out to cook. Last night I got out about five pounds of ground beef to split in half-- spaghetti that night and tacos for tomorrow. Anastasia quickly grabbed a piece of the raw ground beef thinking it was ready to eat and was about to put it in her mouth until I stopped her. When I told her "after hot" as I put the meat in a frying pan and began to cook it on the stove, she understood. She helped me break up the "macaroni" and add it to the boiling water. Her and Paul were thrilled when they saw me cutting ears of corn in half. If I had any concerns about their appetites before-- I don't anymore. Both of them enjoy eating as much as we do.

The sweetest thing happened when I mixed up the spaghetti in a huge bowl and began to carry it over to the table. Anastasia ran over to me and gave me a big hug and said, "Spaciba!" If you ask me, I think that is when she realized that we can meet her and Paul's needs.
Tonight we all enjoyed an after evening swim snack of popcorn and Pepsi. Anastasia and Paul love both! And it is so wonderful to see how all the kids are getting along.

John and I are especially touched by Anastasia's desire to help her younger brothers.

Paul and Anastasia enjoy ice-cream--- alot.

It is so nice to have two children that are not picky eaters. They have already tried shrimp cocktail, Chinese Chicken Salad, coleslaw, mashed potatoes and gravy, milk, yogurt, Otter Pops, cream cheese, salsa, burritos, pizza, roasted chicken, rice pilaf, and deli sandwiches. They love it all!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What do you know...

she can smile.

And looking at these pictures make me smile right back. When I showed her them, she agreed that she looked very pretty. Pretty indeed.

The Ice Is Broken

Dare I say---


Anastasia and Paul are beginning to interact with our family more. The first two days they had headphones glued to their ears listening to Tic-Toc over and over because it is familiar to them. I finally had to limit the time they got to use them and instead Julia offered them a wagon ride or a few kids initiated a game of two square. I think it is okay to officially say, "The ice is broken."

Anastasia and Paul introduced "Sabatchka in the middle" to the other kids. I think they felt good being able to teach their siblings something.

Baby steps.

No car sickness on the drive to the Orthodontist-- probably has everything to do with me not having to swerve to avoid major potholes. It was smooth sailing.

Anastasia remembered her boundaries all day and even graced us with her smile a couple of times. It sure is beautiful.

An amazing thing happened yesterday-- but I will wait to post a picture to tell you! I have so much to share about meal preparations, helping out around the house, Paul's new shoes, and Anastasia helping Alex and Dennis. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pluggin' Along

Last night I ended up having to have Anastasia go to bed (it was 8pm) for the night after I caught her in my room playing around with my nail polish with evidence that she had gone through other stuff. I had explained numerous times throughout the day that all she had to do was ask to go into other people's rooms and touch their stuff. I even went as far as to roll play how her sisters have to ask to wear her shorts or use her headband (not that they would). After she had a chance to put on her pajamas I went back in there to kiss her goodnight and she immediately popped up with her happy self ready to apologize. I told her thank-you but I reminded her of the many incidences she had had that day and told her tomorrow she can begin again.

At least she didn't pout or throw a fit-- she said okay--- as if relieved that I didn't have the look of wrath on my face. Makes me wonder what kind of discipline if any they had in the Internat.

This morning she was up early going through her clothes. Rachel said she had been going through them for nearly an hour. I didn't stop her. I think it is good for her to take inventory of her things. I didn't even have her change her red shirt, lime green and hot pink flower capris, and bright purple headband. She will learn to match soon enough.

First thing after getting dressed and fixing her bed (I only had to remind her two days) she asked me for confecta (candy). I looked at her strangely and told her that she had to eat breakfast first. She smiled, I smiled and then she proceeded to eat half a packet of banana oatmeal, one half of a waffle, and a bowl of Ukrainian Corn Flakes that I brought home. I thought it would be nice for her to see something familiar-- not the box of cereal because of course they wouldn't have such a luxury in the Internat but the writing on the box. She read it and smiled.

Afterwards, I asked her to help unload the dishwasher. As soon as she was done she must have run off to tell her brother because Paul was by my side next asking incessantly to help. My big boy helped me load the whole dishwasher!

Today things seem easier-- but we haven't left for Caleb's Orthodontist appointment yet. I am not sure how they will do with the hour long car ride and two hour wait while Caleb has his mold taken for his retainer.

Oh and I forgot to mention, Paul pet our kitten Bello yesterday and had his first swim lesson! Still won't go near the dogs.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

First Time Really Disciplining

After nearly 10 or so incidences I had to do my first real disciplining with Anastasia. I was and am so nervous and unsure and stressed about the whole thing. Kind of feel shaky.


it was long overdue.

Big sigh.

I forgot how these first few days home can be.

I can't wait till we are past this initial adjustment, and attachment period.

Hey... at least she ate three pancakes with strawberries, sour cream, and sweet milk today.

That's progress.

Oh wait.

I gotta go.

She got up and apologized after crying her eyes out. I need to go love on her.

Monday, July 5, 2010

First Few Days Home

We came home to this big welcome sign. Great job kids. Later, Adam played guitar and Julia sang us the song that the two of them wrote together. It was beautiful.

My Mom, better known as Baboonya had a wonderful meal cooked for us. Kotleti, oven baked potato wedges, salad, garlic bread, and a cake--- what a yummy meal to eat after all that plane food.

Paul loves to draw. His eyes lit up when I brought out a big plastic tub of markers and crayons.

Jonny and Annalyn joined Paul and soon Anastasia was drawing and painting too.

Anastasia was not feeling well and couldn't wait to take a nap. Jet lag hit her the worst but now two days later she is finally getting used to the time difference.

Paul is slowly getting to know his new siblings. Jonny and Paul are nearly the same size even though they are three years apart.
Anastasia is so beautiful yet there is a sadness in her eyes that makes my heart hurt. John and I have no doubt that she is missing her friends and her previous life that she had pretty much known all her life. Even though she is going through many changes right now, she has kept it together pretty darn well.

Paul is adjusting great. The first morning I showed him how he should fix his bed-- and I was pleasantly surprised to find his bed made this morning-- and I didn't even remind him. I praised him for remembering and he smiled with pride. Sadly, my little boy is very afraid of our animals. The dogs bark at him because he is a stranger and he is too afraid to let them smell him which I know will do the trick. Anastasia listened to me immediately when they first barked at her and everything is fine-- she even told Paul to let them sniff his hand but he is so fearful--- I am not sure how to handle things. Now he is afraid of our kitten. I had Adam introduce Lizzie our bearded dragon and Paul began to freak out until he saw how harmless she was. He ended up petting her when she was in my lap. I am hoping he will give our two dogs and kitten another try.

We went swimming one morning. That was fun. Back in Ukraine we had asked the kids if they could swim and they both said yes. I guess there definition of swimming is different than ours because neither of them could swim to save their life. But that is fine with me because now we get to teach them!

Bless Julia's heart. She went out and bought these new floaty toys with her own money just for Paul and Anastasia.

Today I took this picture of Anastasia. She is beginning to feel more comfortable in her new surroundings. I got her to smile a little more for the camera.

All my girls are managing to communicate even with the language barrier.
Aren't we blessed with six beautiful daughters?

Sveta, Anna, Rachel, Annalyn, Julia, and Anastasia.

Anastasia loves to swing. Julia swung with her--- trying to get to know her.

I have already had to remind Anastasia that Rachel is 14 and she is not. We had to have the talk why Rachel is allowed to wear make-up and she is not. I think this will end up being the hardest thing for Anastasia-- being the baby girl of the family.
Back In Ukraine

This is how they slept the night before our flight home.

We ended up in the same apartment back in Kiev. Here we are preparing to leave for the airport.

Waiting to board our plane.

This picture was taken at the beginning of the flight-- before take off. Anastasia did not do well on either flights. I didn't know a person could get airplane sick-- but now I know. Bless her heart.

Paul enjoyed the flight and slept for most of it. He loved the headphones and change the music stations at least a thousand times.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Life is Good

Today is a much better day. Amazing what a full night's sleep can do for the body and mind. We are all doing well and are about to head off to the movies.

Lots of pictures to come after we do fireworks tonight.

Hope you all have a wonderful Fourth of July!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Home At Last!

Yes, we made it home around five in the evening.

I feel old. I am tired. My eyes burn. And I have been running on energy I didn't know I had.

Big sigh.

But it feels good to be home. Seeing all the other kids made my heart sing.

Family was here waiting for us and we all had dinner. My Mom was a huge help while we were gone... but now she went home. She starts a new job on Tuesday praise the Lord.

Anastasia and Paul are doing okay but certainly testing. They too are tired. Anna came up to me and asked if she acted the same way when she first came home. I told her sort of. She hasn't left my side since I've been home.

Off to take a shower and then cuddle in bed with how many kids want to. So far the count is four.

Good night.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Back in Kiev!

This post is going to be chock full of pictures so hope you enjoy!

We were surprised when we were told that we could take the kids' passport photos. These are them-- and they didn't cost us a thing. Pretty cool I think. And the kids couldn't be more beautiful.

Anytime we were at the Internat or camp the kids wanted to hang around us. We didn't mind the company. :)

Rachel and Sveta hung out alot together. Here they are with Pasha.

One day we went shopping and bought all of this for about $35 U.S. dollars. Not bad.
We even bought these cool balloons. They are huge once they are blown up.

One night for dinner we bought Shashlick and I warmed up canned peas and made some rice pilaf. Too bad the meat was like jerky it was so dry.

Here we are in front of the court building. The director was really nice.

Caleb totally got into the Ukrainian role of hand washing clothes. He even suggested us selling our washer and drier to save for future adoptions--- LOL John's funny sense of humor.

We were blessed enough to visit this building three times-- insert sarcasm. This is where we had Anastasia and Paul's new birth certificates made.

Inside there was this nice children's library.

There were also a few statues and a memorial wall listing all the names of people that had died fighting in different wars.

This is an above ground sewer system that we drove under.

This is one of the many electric trains we saw here in Ukraine.

Come time to pick up the kids from camp, only I came because we all wouldn't fit in the car. The director had to come so that she could sign Anastasia and Paul out and pick up their clothes--- because they didn't belong to anyone else but to the Internat. Anastasia was wearing a pair of high heels that the director didn't recognize and so she was chewed out and told to give the shoes back. That is when I gave her first pair of shoes for her very own. I took lots of pictures like these so that Anastasia and Paul would have lots to remember.

Anastasia had a lot of friends in the Internat and though she was excited to leave she has since had her moments of sadness-- and tears have flowed. All we could say is that we understand and love her and her sadness will soon disappear.

When it was time to change Anastasia and Paul into their new clothes it was a special moment. For them because this is their first outfit that they can remember having for their very own. For me because it felt like dressing my newborn baby in their first outfit.
Paul liked looking at himself in the mirror. The shoes that the girl standing next to him is wearing are the shoes that Anastasia was wearing when the director yelled at her.
It was sweet the way her friends wanted to help make her look pretty for her departure to start her new life. A part of me wanted to be the one doing it, yet I felt this was something they needed to do between them.
Sasha is a boy we met who has graduated school and is heading off to college. Rachel wrote him a letter and hopes to be pen pals. He is such an amazing young man-- I think he will be just fine.
The director had lots of business to take care of while she was there signing out our kids. Besides finding out why one of the boys jumped off the balcony and broke his leg, and a few of her older kids ran away and were caught drinking under age, I asked her to take this last picture with Anastasia and Paul.

Here is a group picture.

I asked our facilitator to share what I had to say with these older girls. "I want you to know how much God loves you. He thinks you are all beautiful, fantastic, and have a special purpose in this world. Don't resort to drinking and smoking when you can do so much more with your life. When you are sad please remember that God is there for you and will always love when you think no one else does."
The good-byes kept on and on. It was hard to leave all of these wonderful other children behind.

On the car ride home, Paul got sick. Poor guy-- has gotten sick a few more times since. On the ride home, I had our facilitator read the letter John wrote to Anastasia and Paul since he could not be there with us at that time. It was nice to have the director hear and see her smile.
At home, we had McDonald's for them and it was sweet to see them share. Paul woofed down two cheeseburgers!

They enjoyed watermelon, peaches, Pepsi, McDonald's, and ice-cream for their first meal with us.
I brought each of them their own backpack with their own clothes. They were so thankful and looked through them many times. There first bathes I will never forget and neither will they! The kept on and on about how nice the water felt.

John filled out all of our forms for the Embassy ahead of time so we wouldn't have to do it there.

Don't the three of them look sweet together?

At the train station we saw this kitten. It was so cute. I showed Paul how to play with it with a piece of torn fabric and the kitty entertained us for the 1/2 hour wait.

It was nice to see how gentle Paul and Anastasia were with it.

We could only get one compartment with four beds for the train to Kiev. Rachel and Caleb rode back with our facilitators. The train was very nice-- it had air conditioning and a fairly clean toilet.

Anastasia and Paul were so well behaved on the train. They drew and then we ate dinner. When Anastasia wanted to go to bed around nine pm I noticed that she didn't look well. I felt her and she was very hot so I gave her some Tylenol.
We all got some sleep on the train.
At the medical appointment today, Anastasia had a deep cough so the doctor insisted on her having a chest x-ray. Clear-- but we were told that she has acute bronchitis along with a bunch of other malarkey. Yes I think she is sick but no I do not think she is near death like the doctor was acting. Another thing that made us a little disappointed in this doctor was what she asked our kids. "Are you sad to be going to America?" It was nice to hear Anastasia answer her No!
Please, please, please pray us home! Our itinerary has only one stop and we hope to be home by noon California time. See you back in the good ol' USA!